Print Story "But when they **** up, it's whale steaks in the gift shop."
By BlueOregon (Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 03:58:37 PM EST) (all tags)

Madams charged $10K a date, police say: All I can say is: good for them. Good money, I say. Oh, wait, the police busted the outfit ... because there's really nothing more important to do.

    How long have I wanted to do that? How many years have I hated them, dreamt that my fists were smashing those faces into shapes even less human? I can't remember. The anger is chronic. The anger has always been chronic. And important, until now. The pain in my knuckles throbs like a distant badge of honour.
    It's cold.
(from “Fractals” by Peter Watts)

Inside: GPotD, book commentary, the fundie force, and Madison rambling(s).



Die Steine feinden
Fenster grinst Verrat
Äste würgen
Berge Sträucher blättern raschlig

—August Stramm

Stramm (1874–1915) died in Grodek, a location currently in the Ukraine that once belonged to the region of Galicia, and which was the site of a 1914 battle remembered in verse by Georg Trakl.

I remember being exposed to Stramm's verse back in college, when I took a sophomore year seminar on 20th-century poetry.

Regarding expressionist poetry, I'll re-quote from an essay on Teaching World War I Poetry: “Very short sentences are used, sometimes so terse and elliptical as to produce a blunt and jerky effect... it is clear that a definite attempt is being made to use the language in a new way.” (Bridgwater 1985, 38)

Along with Trakl, Georg Heym, and Jakob van Hoddis Stramm is one of those poets whose work is most often used in German schools and introductory university courses to illustrate Expressionism's encounter with modernism and war.


I took my light blue Sammlung Luchterhand edition of Gottfriend Benn's Statische Gedichte with me to the library today. The title means Static Poems.

Benn wrote about the title of the collection, which (see the inner cover of the book) he penned between 1937 and 1947: “Static is a concept, which not only speaks to my inner aesthetic and moral situation, but which also corresponds to the formal method of the poems. [...] This means a return to proportion and form, and it naturally also means a certain skepticism regarding development and it means resignation.”

The other day I dealt with the lovely short poem “Ein Wort,” which already had a translation available to me and isn't too difficult to translate on its own. Most of the other poems in this collection by Benn are a bit more difficult, due both to the precise rhyme and meter and to Benn's choice of words.

Before heading to the library I also took Wim Jansen's Beginner's Basque (New York: Hippocrene, 2002) from my shelf. My step-mother bought it for me when we visited the Basque museum in Boise a few summers ago.

It's an entertaining and informative read, but I really don't have time to devote to it at this point, so back to the shelf it goes.

As for Benn, he won't return immediately to the shelf, but it might take a while before his works appear again as part of GPotD.


Short reviews by others:

“'Happily N'Ever After' is to Pixar what color-by-numbers is to traditional Disney animation."

"The best way to age well is to have such great infrastructure that the years melt away everything but your handsome facial bones. That's Peter O'Toole in 'Venus.'"

Obligatory penis quote: “Penis-baring Ewan McGregor on how his most famous body part almost made it into 'Miss Potter': 'I did try to get it in the film. They said, "It's nice, Ewan, but we don't think it quite works with this movie." They tried animating it: Putting Peter Rabbit's face on it and making it speak to Beatrix, but they didn't think it was tasteful enough in the end.'”

This week in the A.V. club The Onion provides more Comics Of Note. The Two Faces Of Tomorrow and The Mourning Star are the most interesting looking of the bunch (though there is also W. Ellis's revival of the New Universe in New Universal and a collection of Runaways issues in trade paperback of which to take note). Regarding Runaways, apparently Joss Whedon is taking over ... I'll miss Brian K. Vaughan.


Early January does not seem to be the optimal time for fundies and evangelicals to come to campus, but today was their day outside the library and near State Street.

As I entered the building this afternoon across the way I spied a girl in black or brown dress wearing a white bonnet carrying some sort of bouquet in her hands as she attempted to draw the attention of passersby for a religious sermon or such. This evening brought a man with a sandwich board that proclaimed the only way to salvation is through our lord and savior what's-his-name.

The new semester will surely bring the the Gideons, little old men who will set up shop at the various intersections on campus along University Avenue and hand out pocket-size green New Testaments. The fire-and-brimstone crowd has gone home for the year.

Even with State Street close to deserted the panhandlers are still around, and I wonder whether they have unionized. It seems like a valid step. The cold weather usually drives them south for the winter but we're still in the mid-40s and only a long, hard freeze will do the job, I suspect.

The corner of State and Lake is generally not that problematic despite the mixed traffic, mainly buses and pedestrians. Today as I tried to cross (north end of the intersection) from the library one car decided to go north along Lake and a taxi wanted to turn from State north onto Lake. It's just driver stupidity. I let them stare each other down and come to a halt as I moseyed across the intersection. There's a clearly marked crosswalk and it's a 3-way stop, so there was really no excuse for either jumping into the intersection when a pedestrian (yours truly) was already there and walking.

Then again, this is the same street (State) that is clearly marked “for bikes, buses, taxis, delivery trucks, police, and emergency vehicles only” (I paraphrase), and yet from time to time cars ignore the obvious signs (that is, the big metal ones, as well as the clue type, such as no other cars on the street) and drive up and down it anyway.


I missed my fish fry today—I doubt Memorial Union was serving in any case—but just the thought of Friday fish led me to thoughts about the food and drink I enjoy in this city.

The ISTHMUS, a local weekly, published its annual manual in the fall, just in time for the return of students, and it lists the best places to eat, drink, buy food or booze, go out for music, etc. I cannot hope to compete, but I can list a few favorites downtown.

Ever since I lived on Gorham (the street that always makes me think of Gomorrah) I've been coming to Fair Trade Coffeehouse, and before that, in the late 90s, when I first started frequenting cafes and coffee shops in this town, Steep & Brew, which has a location on State Street. The former is friendly and casual, often busy except during the holidays, and home to great pastries, the source of which it shares with Michelangelo's several blocks closer to the capitol. Regarding the latter it's still the cozy, personal cafe of choice for cops, crazies, and professors and TAs holding office hours. Our LUG used to meet there. They have the best and most generous seasonal lattes and mochas as well as a great cinnamon orange spice tea (no sugar necessary). I've gone to Espresso Royale from time to time, but always find that I feel uncomfortable alone at the outlet closest to campus, though it's a nice place to go with friends. The one near the Orpheum is roomier and has comfier chairs. I find that I've been to Starbucks in this town a handful of times (once with LS, who needed a steamer, once to meet SB for a date, once to meet my brother and his girlfriend, and once post-burrito with colleagues when LS, girlfriend of the time, needed a coffee and cranberry cream cheese bar; a few days earlier we hit the one on University for coffee on our way to campus). This fall I became acquainted with the very hippy Mother Fool's, which is around the corner from me, and down the street from Ground Zero (it received post-9/11 hate mail from intelligence-impaired locals) and a newer place called Escape, which my brother loves. LS introduced me to Barriques, which has two locations, and mixes coffee and wine, and through a few colleagues I came to know the West Side and East Side branches of EVP, at the second of which I got a free Greenbush donut on Sunday the 24th when having coffee there with JA (last name likely a pseudonym of sorts). I've clearly put too much effort into thinking about coffee and tea, and where to drink them.

The downtown campus area lost its Pizza Hut in the late 90s; the location (next to Walgreens and Paul's Books) is now the alternative second-hand textbook shop. A few years later Burger King left its fly-infested location, which, after the building was torn down, now calls a bank home. A few weeks ago McDonald's closed shop, leaving Taco Bell and Subway as the only major fast-food chains on and around State Street. Down on Regent they still have a Taco Johns (I think and hope). But never fear, for when it comes to cheap comfort food State Street houses the Mediterranean Cafe (lamb & beef shawarma sandwich for $3.95, entrees usually $5.95), as well as dumplings at Pel Meni, and inexpensive East African lunch dishes at Baraka. Qdoba is not the only burrito joint around; there's also Chipotle, which I haven't visited.

A few years ago we lost the Chocolate Coyote, one of the better ice cream joints around. But we still have the Chocolate Shoppe, as well as more recent additions Cold Stone and a Ben & Jerry's, as well as a recently-arrived chain I haven't checked out, Paciugo.

Only theantix was kind enough to visit me in this city (years ago, mind you), but if any others are thinking of passing through, the above lists could serve as a starting point for Fish Fry alternatives.


Stramm's expressionist verse presents difficulties than do Benn's, for whereas Benn exploits formalism and structure, Stramm explodes typical syntax and word forms. Feind means enemy, but feinden as a verb is uncommon, although attested in the works of M. Luther and J. Böhme, for example. One could describe his use of natural elements as personification, except there is nothing person-like about them; this word has been used because in the poem objects do things (act like enemies, grin, choke, yelling) and there is no poetic self, no lyrical voice. I might have used betrayal rather than betray; in the German there are two nouns (window, betrayal) and a verb (grin), whereas Grimm's translation of the line could be parsed—in isolation—with betray as the verb and grins as a plural noun. Grimm also chose to go with -ing forms (participles [for use in an abbreviated present progressive, perhaps] or gerunds) whereas Stramm used third person plural present tense forms (würgen as choking rather than choke; blättern as leafing rather than leaf; gellen as yelling rather than yell).

“Reconnaissance Patrol”

The stones inimic
Window grins betray
Branches choking
Screeny bushes leafing rustly

—Translated by Reinhold Grimm
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"But when they **** up, it's whale steaks in the gift shop." | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
This evening by aethucyn (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 05:40:55 PM EST
I chose to not go directly home after work, so wandered down Newbury street, and sat for a time at Espresso Royale aware that there were two other locations in Boston, but unaware that it was part of a larger chain. The one I went to looks far less, well, Starbucks than the pictures on their website.

It's a funny thing, though. One aspect that I love about where I live is that I am really not closely bound by my neighborhood for places to eat. I go to Diesel a lot because it is a short walk, has wireless, and is a good place for me to sit a while.  So I can loiter until reasonably late, and then transport myself quickly home and to bed. There's also a lackluster burrito place (nothing in the northeast can compare to the taquerias I went to in the southwest) which I'll stop in when I need something fast and cheap. Otherwise, if I'm making an actual trip out for dinner, I have a ton of choices in a three city area. So, coming close to two years here, and I still don't know the best place for anything. There are just so many choices, so I rely somewhat upon friends who have spent the past decade determining the best places to eat and more time just trying places out at random. It makes dining a somewhat lonelier experience than it was in Las Vegas (which is a lonelier town in general) where passing beyond what is more or less the college district where I lived was a tremendous effort, so that I instead frequented the same four restaurants and was a recognized customer at all of them. The odd perils of a generally cool place to live.

ER by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #4 Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:44:29 AM EST

I didn't know until your comment that ER had outlets across the country (mostly college towns).

The ERs each have a different feel, one more open, one tighter and darker, and the darker one has sidewalk seating in the warming months. In terms of Starbucksiness, the two downtown Starbucks have different floorplans (one on the capitol square in a little L-shaped corner place, the one on State Street more of a long tube, along with an upstairs area), but they have the same look, as one would expect. "My" Starbucks in Berlin had the same look as well, and, I suspect, the same music. I couldn't confuse them with ER in this town (though ER does have a distinctive look/feel in a way).

I used to have some colleagues who liked the ER close to campus, and it had a dark, pseudo-intellectual feel to it. Around the same time I sampled the one closer to the capitol one weekend afternoon with the former LUG president, but it didn't leave much of an impression (except comfy chairs in the back). I only returned a few years ago with some friends after a LUG meeting and that's when and where I had my first mocha. The service, I realized, was fine and casual, although a bit more Starbucksy and hidden behind the counter than was the case at my preferred downtown coffeeshops.

As for being bound by neighborhood and such. I'm car-less in this town so either walk, take the bus, or get rides with friends. I've lived "downtown" most of my time in Madison, and when I lived away from downtown on the near-west and near-east sides (same distance from the capitol, actually), I went out less on my own. My first years downtown I was not terribly social; the last two I was just off State Street, so everything was readily available. Now I live in a lively residential neighborhood with shops, bars, and restaurants (ask ana about Willie Street at some point, if you wish), so wander there, now.

I was explaining a few weeks ago to someone who didn't believe that I'm an introvert that without social stimulus I do fine on my own but will tend to stay inside and isolate myself, even though I prefer being out-and-about holding small meetings, wandering, etc. The result is that when I have nothing planned, I stay home, and thus, I haven't even explored my neighborhood very extensively.

[ Parent ]
pizza hut by LilFlightTest (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 07:34:54 PM EST
there was still a pizza hut on state street when i was there, in 2003. and there were two mcD's, one on each end.

i was down there today, actually, and things have changed bunches...but then, it was dark by the time we started trying to find stuff outside the campus area, and i was fuzzy on that at best while i lived there.
Dance On, Gir!

McDs by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Jan 06, 2007 at 10:17:26 AM EST

The one on Lake closed in late December (a student newspaper reported Dec. 24 as its last day, but it was closed that Sunday as I walked by); the one on the Square closed a couple years ago. The space stayed vacant for a while, during the whole time that that block (closer to Wisconsin, actually) was under some reconstruction. I haven't walked by there for more than a month and cannot say how the space is being used now, if at all.

What surprised me was that it was not dark when I left the library ... 4:45 and there was still some light. And improvement over a couple weeks ago or such.

[ Parent ]
"But when they **** up, it's whale steaks in the gift shop." | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback