Fighting bad guys

A minor chord sits on the sofa and wonders why this character in this police drama he watches on television sometimes gets under his skin the way she does. She is an afterthought! She has no dramatic function! She could be edited right out and things would still make sense, no one would miss her and no scenes would need to be reshot! All she does is make unimportant observations, agree with the other characters or once in a very great while provide a little exposition the writers were too lazy to squeeze in more creatively. It is as if the producers were contractually obligated to use this actress so ordered the writers to add a role for her in finished scripts and they did so, lazily. She has no profile. She is invisible, and yet there she is!

She needs something. She needs to battle a bad guy, be in peril, shoot a gun, jump into cold water, break a bone (her own or someone else’s). And not just stand there like a character in a show set in a room with an automatic door opener who tells other characters, “The door is closed. Look, the door just opened. Now it’s open. Now it’s closed again.”

The minor chord sits there and wonders what it is about her he so dislikes, and why.

It takes him a while to figure it out.

Meanwhile he goes to Oslo and sees graffitti on a wall in blue or purple (he forgets) block letters a meter high: “LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL”.

Thank you Oslo, he thinks.

Meanwhile, he remembers something someone said about having your love rejected is more painful than not being loved. Might just be right.

Still, life is beautiful and so on.

A brief visit to Oslo

Beta is currently in Oslo getting in arguments with panhandlers and we visited her over our long Easter weekend.

US town (that I’m familiar with) Oslo most resembles: Seattle – fresh air, mountains, lakes, ocean, salmon, and full of Norwegians.

Thing that most sucks about Oslo: the sidewalks are uneven. Never have I stumbled so much. I guess the cold winters lift the cobblestones.

We went for a hike with Beta. You do this by taking the subway to the end of the line, then walking back down the mountain. “Careful on the snow,” Beta said. “Sometimes there are rivers underneath. Also you can sink in up to your hips.”

We thought she was exaggerating, but she wasn’t.

We were quite tired, walking down the mountain, although it was very pretty. Some rough terrain there and the worst part was, as you are walking down the mountain in, well, not agony, but discomfort, you pass young women running uphill, pushing baby strollers (often twins) with one hand, talking on their mobile with the other hand, and not even sweating.

No wonder they discovered the North Pole or whatever.

I was surprised to see beggars in Oslo because it seems to be a rich country. You would think they would have a program to keep beggars out of sight. Oslo actually has a wide variety of beggars. Some have deformities, such as a deformed leg, or a missing leg. Some have a bad facial rash. Some look old, foreign and down on their luck. Some appear to be gypsies. The only one who got in my face was a young man, apparently from Oslo, well-dressed, who told me that I should share with him. Beta asked him what he was sharing with us and he said his city, which is why I assume he was from Oslo.

I declined because he asked for a kroner and the smallest I had were 20 kroner coins and I didn’t want to ask him for change. Also he was pissing me off by getting into my face. So he called us wonkers.

“You wonkers!” Go back where you came from etc.

What a wonker.

Waiting for Mig

Estragon, sitting on a low mound, is trying to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting.

He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again.

As before.

Enter Vladimir.

Estragon: (Giving up again). Nothing to be done.

Vladimir: (Advancing with short, stiff strides, legs wide apart).  Is whatshisface still writing?

Estragon: Who whatshisface?

Vladimir: Mig or something. That Mig guy.

Estragon: (Irritably). Mig. Yeah. I think.

Vladimir: (Hurt, coldly). You think or you know?

Estragon: Know. I know. I just read something yesterday.

Vladimir: Was it fresh? Maybe it was old.

Estragon: It was fresh. He’s writing. He’s probably writing this.

Vladimir: (Admiringly). Heh. Yeah, probly. What was it?

Estragon: (Tugging at boot again). What was what?

Vladimir: What you read.

Estragon: The man formerly known as the smallest man in the world was standing before a mirror cleaning his teeth real good with various tools because he was at the dental hygienist the day before and she scolded him.

Vladimir: That sounds old. Didn’t he write that before? What’s up with the smallest man thing anyhow?

Estragon: (Has given up on boot again. Shrugs). Probably last time he went to the dental hygienist, yeah. But this was fresh. It had a blooming hillside.

Vladimir: Wut?

Estragon: He’s driving along stuck in traffic in a hurry to get to the dentist, where he will of course arrive half an hour early and end up having to wait half an hour on top of that for a good hour of science-magazine reading only he doesn’t know that yet and he sees a hillside covered with trees blooming and thinks, one, that explains my hay fever and two, that sure is pretty, I’ll have to have a good look at that sometime when I’m not driving.

Vladimir: You sure that wasn’t old?

Estragon: (Exasperated). I’m sure. The dental hygienist had small hands and asks him how he is and he says tired and she says yeah but dentally how are you and he says okay, no complaints and she gets to work and at one point he wants to ask something but she has both hands inside his mouth and she says, what you feel on your tongue is some gel, anasthetic gel or fluoride gel or something and he says uh-huh, and thinks she’s okay because she just answered the question he wanted to ask, the gel was freaking him out because it felt like a piece of flesh and he thought his mouth was falling apart.

Vladimir: (Stretches). And she educates him about how to floss, how to use the special floss, how to use the normal brush, and the medium sized brush and all the little brushes.

Estragon: (Squints). Yeah.

Vladimir: Yeah, it was old.

Estragon: No, I think it was new.

Blue sky out there

Blue sky out there, saying, every little thing gonna be alright.

Saying, is the ozone hole over Europe yet? What was the projection for that?

Saying, what’s the half-life of caesium 137 again, 30 years?

Saying, iodine 131, eight days.

Saying, if life came from outer space once, what’s to stop it from coming again?

Saying, put on your sun screen, you get lesions from a 60 watt bulb.

Saying, you have to trust her. You have to sleep some time. You can trust her or lock her up. And you can’t lock her up.

Saying, be proud. The universe loves you. So love yourself. And be proud. Pride goeth before a fall is a bullshit excuse for staying small.

Saying, if you could get to the chewy God center of you, you’d kneel down in worship of your own self. Even a fly has that you think you don’t?

The sky is that scary sky blue like on a day you’d rather not go to school, but have to, but with some color near the horizon, leftover sunrise. It says, how many of these have we done? Thousands!

Saying, I’ll still be here when your epitaph is full of moss.

Saying, good morning to you!

New member of the club of animals who make art

To the club of non-human animals who make art – which includes elephants, various apes, and Tillie the Jack Russell Terrier who reminds me a lot of Arnulf Rainer we can now add the Greek tortoise (Testudo hermanni hermanni), or more specifically, my Greek tortoise, which after several years of small format Jackson Pollack homages graduated today in the kitchen to a new style which, on the one hand still showing a fascination with Pollack, now incorporates the ambition and grand dimensions of Christo and land artists such as Robert Smithson, taking an hour to mop up and making me glad I don’t have a Pinta Island tortoise.

The Austrian Nazi Cake scandal

After an endless series of scandals involving Austrian politicians and conflict of interest, due apparently to the fact that it seems to be legal for politicians to simultaneously work as lobbyists, or otherwise represent special interests at odds with their political activity, which is, apparently, endemic in the Austrian political culture, we finally have a new scandal here: the Austrian Nazi cake scandal.

Here is a brief article outlining the case, in English, if you don’t believe me.

Somehow, a Nazi cake scandal strikes me as the sort of thing that could only happen in Austria. Where else could you imagine a Nazi cake?

Nazi cake.

Who would have thought, and yet, how come it took so long?

On the one hand, some people apparently still just don’t Get It.

On the other hand, Nazi Cake.

So stupid, and so sad.

And now, of course, I have an earworm that is a mashup of “Salt Peanuts” and “Nazi Cake”

It goes like this:

“Salt peanuts, salt peanuts!”

(“Nazi cake!”)

Salt peanuts, salt peanuts!

(“Nazi cake!”)

Also, the voices in my head keep talking about Nazi cake now:

“Would you like another slice of Nazi cake?”

“Oh, no.” (Pats belly) “I’m trying to cut down on Nazi cake. Well, maybe a very thin slice.”

(and) “Honey, if you are good and finish your homework, you may have a slice of fine Nazi cake!”

“Yes, please save me a slice of Nazi cake, Mama!”

Concert report

Alpha and I went to a concert last night. We have a subscription to a series of concerts in the Konzerthaus in Vienna, performances of mostly modern works by the Klangforum, which is an ensemble founded in 1985 to perform modern music. As usual we went to the bar in the Intercontinental Hotel, which is near the Konzerthaus, for a drink and frankfurters, which we ate with our hands (the horseradish was freshly-grated and made me gasp) and joked about a group of British businesspeople, mostly men, and chatted and generally had a date. I also had a cup of coffee to make it harder to fall asleep in the concert, because it turns out dissonance makes me sleepy.

The first piece performed was by Debussy and involved harp so it was real pretty. We were reminded of Beta and her harp playing and missed her, and her harp music. Alpha noticed a lot of men with ponytails in the audience, so we steeled ourselves for something artistically significant to come. The next couple pieces were more dissonant, the third piece especially. It was interesting because the harpist was playing two harps at the same time. The composer was present, and took the stage to enthusiastic applause. A group of people near us also booed him, however, which was kind of cool. I had to wonder what that was all about.

The President of Austria was there. with his wife. He apparently has a subscription to the same series, we see him there almost every time, although his wife was there with a friend last time. He doesn’t just show up at the beginning and sneak out, either, he sits through the whole thing so apparently he has genuine cultural interests. How cool is that? It is things like this that make me appreciate living in Austria.

We went out during the intermission for some fresh air. Because we were both so tired, we decided to go home. My wife gets up at 4.30 most mornings, while I sleep in until 5, generally so by 9 pm or so we are both beat.