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2004.04.22 – fawny.blog is now running under WordPress. The new homepage is blog.fawny.org. Bookmark at will. →

All the old archives, including this page, remain unchanged.  

2004.03.21 Eating Walnut Croquettes and Broiled Peanuts with the “Straight Edgers” and Indulging in Date Butter and Nut Sandwiches at a Ve – A now-rather-old BoingBoing posting led to a page reproducing pen-and-ink illustrations on (aged) sepia paper. The drawings purported to show vegan-straightedgers circa 1906.

I simply didn’t believe it. The popular history holds that the term “straight[ ]edge” only came into issuance from the work of the hardcore band Minor Threat.

The term itself is believed to have been coined by the band Minor Threat of the punk rock/hardcore scene in the early ‘80s. Their singer Ian MacKaye eschewed the nihilistic tendencies of punk rock, promoting instead the simple (almost simplistic) philosophy of “don’t drink/don’t smoke/don’t fuck.”

That FAQ then lists “Out of Step (with the World)” by Minor Threat, 1981, as the source of the concept, though the term can be traced to “Straight Edge.” Sometimes incorrectly cited as “On the Straight Edge,” the song is a 45-second MP3 on my machine here and dates from 1981.

But that’s pretty impressive in itself, right? An entire subculture born of 45 seconds of rock music?

Except it appears not to be true. I sent snatchmail to the American Newspaper Repository questioning the validity of the 1906 “newspaper” illustration. To my mild surprise, Nicholson Baker himself wrote back, at first saying he didn’t have time to dig up the original bound copy (it was en route to storage at Duke), but then later coming through.

I am authorized to show you the photograph above, credited thus: “American Newspaper Repository, Duke University Libraries. Photo: Russell French.” Have a look at high-res versions:

It is for real. There were straightedgers as such by name in 1906 and they ate the same things I do now nearly a full century later, save for “broiled peanuts.” (And someone else saw the menu at an exhibit.)  

2004.03.17Write code by hand, apparently.

[Irrepressible imp Kynn Bartlett] smirked at the “crotchety old curmudgeons” who code their sites by hand. The point, he says, is to get their message out there, not how hardcore you are.

The actual point is to get your message out there using valid, semantic, accessible code.

Anyway, apart from my own lovingly-crafted HTML, I will certainly brook no criticism of my various publishing tools, including WordPress (now in full flower over at Axxlog) and whatever Dean’s old PHP system was for Bookblog and NUblog. Actually, on reflection I must admit I would accept criticism of that latter, as I haven’t been able to update anything published with it since migrating to OSUX. Today the edit screen was totally blank.

So, I mean, hardcore is for porno. I’m old enough to know that.  

2004.03.16 – AgendaWatch™: Homosexualist Text and Subtext in “Men’s” Magazines has been given its own page. Still need to add navigation links (plainly visible in Mozilla and Opera), but, most importantly, AgendaWatch™ is now almost completely free of references to Tom Ford!  

2004.03.14 – As an indication the natural order has been maintained, Dogpoet’s going to Columbia. Mazel tov!  

2004.03.13a – I have shitcanned my rigid and punishing self-imposed requirement to watch every MoPixed movie that comes to town. 130 hours of smudged, scratched-to-shit reflectors and heavy, pate-scraping, glowing-LED headsets are quite enough, you know?

But it sure hasn’t always been a bust: I simply vibrated with joy at the gayest movie of the last ten years, Down with Love, the swank ’50s-esque tale of Catcher Block (editor, Know) and the object of his affections Barbara Novak, the come-from-nowhere bestselling authoress and Now editrix.

Catcher spunkily hits Barbara up for a job.

Barbara
Another ruse, Catcher? You know I have no interest in seeing you.
Catcher
But you know you have to. And you know I know you have to. I’m sure you know how things are at Know ever since your new Now.
Barbara
I have no way of knowing how things are now at Know. I knew how things were at Know before Now.
Catcher
Then you should know now at Know things are a lot like they are at Now. We have to interview every applicant for every job, and so do you. Or you’d be going against Now’s definition of discrimination, and you wouldn’t want the readers of Now or Know to know that, now, would you?

And remember, half of this is delivered in suave ewanmcgregorese.  

2004.03.13b – Blind items you’d have to be a maroon not to decode.

  1. Which scratched-pated journalist–author–consultant’s Mississuaga Girl[’]s Hockey windbreaker blended seamlessly into the martini-swilling crowd at a recently-anagrammized and -umlauted invert watering hole?
  2. Which iron-ringed quarter-Burmese narcissistic bloggeur’s publicly-advertised first date with the latest man he’ll reject did this subject intend to observe?
  3. Would this have been the first, second, or third public intervention the bloggeur had undergone as a direct response to the imperiousness and self-aggrandizement of his inexplicably–semi-nominal vanity Web site?
  4. What adjustment to the silent 28″ Sony television built into the watering hole’s wall did the subject seek permission for and actually make?
  5. Which adorable Italianate host of a TV interior-redecorating show for apartment-dwellers instantly dove for cover as the subject’s esteemed colleague stopped the subject cold and perhaps too loudly blurted out the host’s name?  

2004.03.08 – Schmaltzy pop-vocal songs from my engineering days... in Latin. The English retranslations are priceless.

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane
Therefore, kiss me. [This line is in itself the highlight of my year so far. – Ed.]
Wait for me while I’m gone.
Hug me as if you’d smother me.
I’m leaving on a long journey.
I don’t know when I’ll come back,
And I don’t want to go.
Piano Man
At an inn, in the early evening
The usual people are here.
Near me, an old man is drinking wine,
And fondling his tankard like this.
Chorus
Indeed, sing songs of joy.
Sing songs, singer.
We feel a need to escape.
Sing to us of freedom.
Marcus is a well-known merchant.
Business hinders love.
Now he’s talking to Gnaeus,
Who is a foot-soldier,
And will be for fifteen years.
Solitude is a bitter poison,
Which is drunk by the crowd.
A cup like that tastes bad,
But it is better than thirst.

(Actual “Name that tune, Mr. Spock!” came from Spy, of course!)  

2004.03.06a – This one probably blows out of the water my plans to write a similar piece for A List Apart, and broadly hints at a forthcoming CSS media property, but I put a shitload of effort into it and by God I’ve been translated into Dutch. All my type-designer friends can finally understand me!  

English
High Design, High Accessibility: CSS to the Rescue
Dutch
Goed ontwerp, goede toegankelijkheid

2004.03.06b – I think the production in question here is a complete wank (not at all in a salutary sense), and the performers are homely, low-class frauds, but “My Word!

Jeff Mihelich is blind. He is also gay.... For a blind and gay man to actually see a play called Puppetry of the Penis, well, that would be like hitting the trifecta, right? That’s what Mihelich thought when he requested the services of an “audio descriptor” for the local staging of Puppetry. [...]

At the show, Mihelich hoped to get the sight gags by wearing a single earpiece, which picked up the voice of Rick Jacobson, the interpreter [sic].... Jacobson discreetly interjected visual cues, “The performers are both fairly athletic-looking with nice little treasure trails.” Jacobson, it turns out, has worked with Mihelich before and is also gay. This made it possible for him to use language that would normally get a person fired from any other job.... “He’s pulling his ball sack up and over his dick so all you can see is balls. Now he’s slowly revealing the head of the dick, like it’s peeking over the top.” [...]

Later, Mihelich described his experience. “I couldn’t hear the describer at all. The women were yelling and screaming and blocking him out. I don’t think a gay audience would have screamed that much.”

I read this and I totally plotzed.  

2004.03.04a – I like people better when they simply ask what’s on their mind, but the Web cultivates cowards.

2 for "joe clark is the biggest arsehole to ever live" (emphasis added)
That’s more like it!
1 for "failures of joe clark"
I tend to write about them here, actually. Have you read the archives, or what?

Oh, and you wouldn’t believe the technical details of my search service, none of which you know about.

2004.03.06Superspecial update! A person at IP address 64.229.83.167 (which maps to HSE-Toronto-ppp178578.sympatico.ca) writes:

I anonymously reply:

Joe, you are such an egotist it’s amusing.

“Egoist,” shurely?! Anyway, a healthy ego is a beneficial thing. Thanks for noticing. Whoever runs a personal Weblog, or, say, actively maintains pages on gay dating sites, has to have a fair-sized ego, or else why bother?

By typing Joe Clark is the biggest asshole in the world I was not trying to send you a covert message, nor was I avoiding asking “what’s on [my] mind.” I had (and apart from this mail, have) nothing at all to say to you.

Oh, apparently not! And I really should hold you to that. Let’s consider it a deal, should one not be in place already.

I was, in fact, performing a search. You know, the whole reason you have a search tool on your site?

The whole reason is as follows: To comply with WCAG Priority 3. Frankly, I’d get rid of it if I could.

I was trying to see if the literal text “Joe Clark is the biggest asshole in the world” appeared anywhere on your site.

That’s a good one!

Finding that my search request had been transformed into a blog posting by you made me howl out loud. Hence, I did the search for “Joe Clark is the biggest arsehole in the world.” That too became a blog post! You’re amazing.

Yes, I know. Thanks.

Joe, out here in the real world,

As contrasted, I suppose, with the online world, which this correspondent seems to flourish in?

many people respect a little thing called PRIVACY. We assume that we can perform whatever searches we like without someone’s overinflated ego getting irritated in the process. Joe, I was SEARCHING for something, not trying to open a dialogue with you.

That surely explains why I was contacted by electronic mail.

Terms entered into my search engine are facts I can and will report, just as URLs, refer(r)ers, trackbacks, and IP lookups on anonymous E-mails are. I am using an old trope, actually, as a quick Googling of the phrase disturbing search requests will show. Some enemies and detractors use search terms as a passive-aggressive, indirect, and cowardly method of sending messages. The intended effect is never actually reached, though, because I use it as comedy material. As the street-involved youth put it in Wilde, “It’s no use trying to rent you, Oscar. You just laugh it off.”

I think you live in a bubble of paranoia and conflict, seeing “enemies” and “detractors” around every corner. How about letting people search your site in peace?

As for “conflict” – well, you try getting decent standards out of these people. I do have enemies and detractors, and whatever do you mean by “in peace”?

En tout cas, thanks for sharing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got wood-sportin’ nudie pics to update on my BigMuscleBlogs. I am, after all, an egotist who cherishes his privacy.  

2004.03.09Second superspecial update! A reader at IP address 66.126.3.96 (adsl-66-126-3-96.dsl.lsan03.pacbell.net – good to see some international readership!) writes:

You should look before you leap. “Egotist” is a perfectly good word... What a bad blunder for someone who prides himself on having written a book! and especially since you flaunt such an affected vocabulary on your website (milquetoast, etc.). You should really be more careful when it comes to language. The dictionary often vindicates the layman; and by the same token it often convicts the pedant.

Wait till he (or indeed she) notices how I spell “surely”!  

2004.03.04b – I trust you are reading the Winter issue of Heeb, are you not?

The type and design are still nowhere near minimally tolerable levels, but they’ve got an unending list of new ideas. African-American Jews who make tofu in Israel (fabbo photo there), the astonishing transvestite J.D. Samson of Le Tigre, and, heavens, yes, the porn reviews by Sarah Silverman. They can find a Jew angle for anything!

  1. Guy Austrian, “Fierce Factor”: “27-year-old Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley is... the director of FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment),” an acronym rivaling my old Mac club’s for strained ridiculousness.
    Heeb
    Your father’s father was part of a Russian Jewish anarchist community.
    Ehrensaft-Hawley
    They were militantly treyf. They had huge feasts with ham in front of synagogues on Yom Kippur. That’s part of why I’m the third-generation owner of an uncut Jewish penis. [Everybody’s fantasy, shurely?!] It’s also because my mom had feminist concerns with the male “covenant with God.”
  2. Seth Olenick, “Star Crazy”: Jews go wild for Stars of David. I’m just not cool enough to wear one of these, among other reasons.
    • Aviad Cohen, 28: “My mom and I were shopping for a Star at Thug Fashion in Los Angeles. I was thinking I was going to have to have it custom-made. While rummaging through a bunch of iced-out crosses, my mom found it. My kosher bling.”
    • Ethan Basoff, 19: “...And if you’re going to wear a Star, you’ve got to sport the silver. Only bridge-and-tunnel Jews wear gold stars – unless it’s nestled in a cushion of Jewish chest hair. [Everybody’s fantasy, shurely?!] Then it’s all good.”
  3. Allen Salkin, “Where Have You Gone, Sandy Koufax?”: One of the umpteenth articles I’ve read about Jews in sports (along with the umpteen articles I’ve read or written about queers and/or crips and/or girls in sports), but the first one that’s actually funny. Salkin takes the piss out of it! Who would have known there were so many competing Jewish sports halls of fame, most of them mere hallways of fame?
    It’s not until after the game that Gabe Kapler’s tattoos can be seen. The Boston Red Sox outfielder stands in front of his locker... peeled down to his shorts. [Everybody’s fantasy, shurely?!] A Star of David as big as a chocolate-chip cookie brands his bulging left calf.... Muscular, intense-eyed Kapler, 28... Muscles bulging as he grabs his duffel bag... [Kapler says] “The portrayal of Jews is as weak, and that fires me up. It’s our own fault. It’s kept up by the parents of Jews because they stress education so hard rather than letting a person develope into whatever they are.” [...] He says some Jews don’t like the histrionic professional wrestler Goldberg, but to him the loudmouth is a modern Koufax. “He’s charismatic and interesting and he’s a stud. We need a stud.”
    Modesty, shurely?!  

2004.03.04c – Kynn’s nasty streak is now well documented. However, his claim that I warned New Riders not to hire Kynn as a technical editor for the book he now uses in his accessibility course is, in fact, false. I have here an E-mail I sent to two editors at New Riders dated 2001.04.06, in which I nominate three accessibility- and four HTML-related editor candidates. Four of the seven were people with whom I disagree frequently, including all the accessibility-related editors.

On which list was Kynn’s name found? Take a wild guess.

On 2001.04.02, I closed one of our many heated snatchmail exchanges with “Won’t you be surprised when my editor mails you to ask if you’d like to be a technical editor for my book?” That editor mailed Kynn on 2001.04.20 to say I had “recommended you as a possible technical editor for the project.”

So, you know, Kynn has a right to his opinions, which I am perfectly happy to link to, but let’s keep our facts straight. And yeah, I do recommend him for things (jobs, editorships, and, two days ago, beta-testing a browser and screen reader). Only some things are personal, not everything.

And given a choice between being nice or being accurate, I’ll take the latter.  

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