frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Give Me A Break

Some rather shocking news.

Apparently (I hope you are sitting down), students in high school get bored in their classes.

I know. I had to take a few deep breaths myself. But once I'd calmed my traumatized nerves, I felt only gladness and gratitude, that someone spent the time and money to bring to the public's attention this earth-shattering revelation.

If I were less charitable than I am, of course, I probably would have wondered sarcastically if the surveyors had ever attended high school; if they had, they wouldn't have had to do a survey to find out what everyone already knows. But I really am awfully charitable, at least in my current mood, so I will not make such a cynical observation.

I'll just offer my expressed hope that soon they do a survey for workers in the workplace. Can't wait to hear the results of that research...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This Is Not A Blog

Yesterday I went with my friend A to LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. to see exhibit: "Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images."

I am not very familiar with Magritte's work, aside from "Le Modele Rouge (The Red Model)", which shows a pair of boots turning into feet, and then that famous painting of a man in a bowler hat with a green apple floating in front of his face. Oh yes, and of course the famous "This Is Not A Pipe" painting of a pipe. So I had no particular expectations... just lots of curiosity.

The first thing I noticed as I passed through the gallery rooms housing the exhibit was how crowded they were. The museum was packed, which I hate. I absolutely cannot stand bumping into people and being bumped as I try to muse and ponder in front of an artistic work. Or, for that matter, if I'm walking around in a mall. Either way, lots of people get on my nerves. But that's LA for you, I guess.

Yet another reason I doubt I'll live here forever. But that's a whole 'nother topic...

Anyway, in spite of the crowds, there were moments of levity. A and I paused in front of one painting called "The Pebble", which shows a half-naked woman apparently on a beach, licking her own right shoulder as her left hand plays with one of her breasts.



("What does that have to do with a pebble?" you are probably wondering. Good! That's just the reaction Magritte probably wanted.)

A and I had a little discussion about the fact that there was no sky in the background, only a green-and-white grid pattern making squares out of empty white space. I didn't like the grid; I thought it was ugly, but A said it saved the painting from being just another sensuous-woman-on-a-beach scene. Slightly more intellectual than my own response, I admit. I said she might be right.

As we left the room, a young boy came in and looked at the picture. "That's disgusting!" he said. "In a few years you won't think that," said an older boy, perhaps his brother. This made A laugh; I had not actually heard the dialogue, but when she told me about it, I laughed too.

I liked that the gallery rooms had been carpeted in blue, with a puffy cloud pattern, while the ceilings were covered with a repeating photo of a freeway tangle in a birds-eye view, so really it was like we were walking in a world turned upside down. Clever, since Magritte's work manages to convey a similar effect. He said the world defies common sense. I think he might have been right.

I stood on the threshold of the last room, looking in. The room was full of people, of course. Still no escape... From where I stood, I could see "Les Jours Gigantesques (The Titanic Days)", which shows a woman fighting off a clothed man's form, but his form is entirely contained in the outlines of her own naked body.



A disturbing picture, I thought to myself.

Then I stepped away from the wall and saw the picture I had been standing right next to: "Attempting the Impossible." Here, a clothed man is busily painting a naked woman into existence; she stares blankly into space while he begins to add her left arm.



A man told A and I that Magritte always painted his wife. I don't actually know if that's true, but the man seemed to know a lot about Magritte, so I'm willing to believe it. The man started the conversation this way: "Men don't know how to communicate to women." Since A and I had just been staring at and commenting on the two versions of "Le Viol (The Rape)" hanging on the wall, I laughed and said, "Well, what makes you say that?" I don't remember his answer, only his earnest brown eyes, graying beard, and sparse hair. He looked like a professor. Perhaps he was. He was wearing a tie with the man in the bowler hat all over it, in different sizes, on a blue background.

He knew where most of the paintings were normally housed. "That one lives in Houston," he said. "And that one is from Tokyo." After he finished talking, he apologized for interrupting us, but A and I hadn't minded at all. I wanted to ask his name, but didn't. I also wanted to ask more questions, but I had that odd taste in my mouth that warned me I might need a mint or piece of gum, so I just smiled and nodded a lot. Eventually he moved on to another painting, and we went our way.

One of my favorite paintings in the room was "The Human Condition." This title belonged to several different works, but the one I liked best showed an easel set up against the entrance to a cave (naturally that's the one version I can't find a picture of online). Inside the cave, a fire burned. Outside the cave, the side of a large mountain could be seen. Outside was very light. the easel had part of the mountain painted on it, and was set in such a way that that particular section of the mountain could only be seen in the painting. It was hard to tell what was real and what was contained within the easel's frame.

It is interesting to me that Magritte often painted more than one version of a subject; in the case of "The Human Condition" it's especially apropos. This is the human condition, I thought as I looked at the painting. We try over and over again to get a handle on our world, to contain it in a framework, to use art as a means of understanding it... but in spite of our efforts the world keeps existing beyond the boundaries of the largest possible canvas or page we can find. We paint in the dark, aided only by the flickering flame of our limited knowledge, while outside the world simply is. In the same way that Magritte saw a disconnect between words and images, there is the inevitable disconnect between images and reality. A painting of a mountain can never be the mountain, after all. But neither can a mountain be a painting of a mountain. The thing will always transcend the idea of itself.

Or something like that.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Put the FUN in ConFUSion

Er, I'm not really sure where it would fit, exactly. Maybe we should just call it "FUNfusion"? That's kind of catchy.

Then again, I did not get much sleep last night.

In other news--no wait, I mean in the SAME news, I mean it's the whole point I started writing this post today--I found another grammatically challenged link on cnn.com today. See if you can find it here (hint: it's the second one):



At first I thought that a dead woman who had once been a preacher's wife was alleging an illegal search. Not that I'd rule out such a thing as impossible, especially in a country (the U.S.) where a man can be paid $130,000 a year even though he'd been dead for 30 years. But it did seem a trifle strange.

Then again, I did not get much sleep last night.

Wait, I said that already. I'm confused. Or is that FUNfused?

I think I need to take a nap. (Thankfully, it's now OK to do that at work, as I've mentioned before.)

Insomnia Attack

It's been awhile since I've had one of these, but tonight I am undoubtedly in the throes of a really bad insomnia attack. Nearly 2:22 am and I can't sleep at all.

Tried reading some Borges, but that didn't help, mostly because I found the ideas in his stories too interesting.

I think part of the problem is I'm cold. Even though I'm bundled up in sweats, and have flannel sheets on the bed, and cranked up my standing heater to just about as high as it will go, I am still freezing.

I wonder if counting sheep would actually work? Speaking of which, why did that ever become a method for drifting off to sleep? Who was it who first thought, "I'm having trouble catching my zzz's, so I'll just start counting an imaginary herd of sheep"? Why not count something else? Like octopi?

Eeew. Never mind. I just suddenly had a vision of who knows how many writhing tentacles... there is definitely a reason we don't try to count octopi before falling asleep.

It's 2:27 am now. I am still awake. Dang.

Maybe writing limmericks would help:

There once was a girl named grackyfrogg
Who wanted to sleep like a log
But try as she might
She stayed awake the whole night
Because she couldn't think of another rhyme for "ogg"

Oh, that was terrible.

OK, so forget the limmericks. Maybe if I drank some warm milk. Ah, but that would entail leaving my (relatively) warm bed, walking downstairs, getting a mug out of the cupboard, getting the milk out of the (cold!) fridge, pouring the milk into the mug, putting the mug into the microwave, heating the milk... no thanks.

It's 2:34 am now. I'm hungry.

This is going to be a long, long night. Sigh...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Rainy Afternoon

It's raining and the traffic, as I can see from my window, is bad. The dark clouds are hiding my view of the mountains to the north. I can hear the swish of cars driving by on slick streets below.

I wish I were already home. I like the rain, when I am curled up in bed.

I guess it's a little early to go to bed, though.

In other news, I'm excited for the weekend, when I'll be going with a friend to see the Magritte exhibit at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is the last weekend left before it closes. I was worried I'd miss it; too often don't manage to get around to doing a lot of the things I want very much to do, but I think this time I'll make it.

Now if only I could get around to doing my taxes...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Begging the Question

The other day I was driving in to work when I saw a car with the bumper sticker, "War is not the answer."

I always find it interesting when I see bumper stickers like that. Because then of course I start wondering what the question is to which war (or peace, or Jesus, or whatever) is not the answer. There are some questions where war might actually BE the answer, after all. For example, if I asked, "What would you call the civil strife that nearly tore America apart in the period 1860-1865?" I hope you would not say, "War is not the answer," because it IS, and you would get an F on your American History exam.

Personally, I believe the condensation of complex ideas into bumper sticker platitudes doesn't do anyone any good. On the other hand, it would be really funny if I could fit that last sentence on a bumper sticker.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

If Wishes Were...

Feeling pensive and tired tonight. So much reading and writing to do, and I don't feel like doing any of it.

But you want to know what I do feel like doing? I'd love to lie in front of a fireplace (with a fire in it, of course) in the dark, snuggled under a blanket, and think about nothing except how beautiful the fire looks when it dances. I'd like to fall asleep listening to the whispered roar of the flames, and the crackle of the burning wood.

It's not really cold enough for a fire. And I have too much work waiting to indulge the luxury of aimless thoughts for long, not to mention falling asleep at such an early hour. But, oh, it sounds so nice, doesn't it.

PS If the above seems to contradict my last post, which rhapsodized about the warm weather, I don't care.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Heat Wave!

It is 88 degrees Fahrenheit at this moment in Los Angeles. I nearly put on a halter-top this morning, but it just seemed so wrong. I mean, it's still February, for crying out loud.

However, driving around North Hollywood, Hollywood, and Glendale this afternoon in a car with air conditioning that doesn't work well made me think I should have gone with my first sartorial instinct. But alas, I had opted for a T-shirt and jeans. I was sweating!

God, how I love California.

In other news, my third packet of writing is done and delivered. At last! I can breathe again... for a day or so anyway.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day Blah Blah Blah

So it's not enough that I'm single for the umpteenth Valentine's Day in a row... no. I also have to be sick. For the umpteenth time this year. This time with a stomach bug. Which means that I can't even drown my sorrows in chocolate I bought for myself.

Er, not that I did buy chocolate for myself in which to drown my sorrows. But maybe I would have, if I had an appetite.

Anyway, whatever. Back to the main topic, which is: Valentine's Day.

I thought I would do a little research about the history of this holiday, but a quick Google of the phrase "history of Valentine's Day" showed me that lots of other people have already done it. So you can look it up for yourself. I did find one link rather interesting, though. Here's a picture of what showed up on Google under one of the entries:



It was the last part of the description that caught my eye. Why on earth would anyone find a holiday celebrating LOVE burdensome? I mean, can YOU think of a reason? I'm wracking my little brains...

Well, I clicked on the link to find out, but the page never opened, so... guess we'll never know!

All right. I do want to wish everyone a Happy, Unburdensome Valentine's Day. If you are single, look at it this way: at least you didn't have to buy presents for anyone. If you are not single, at least you are not single.

See, there's a bright side to everything.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bemusing

I am a fan of irony. However, it was a bit much yesterday to sit through a sermon at church all about the importance of keeping the Sabbath, while knowing full well I was going to flagrantly NOT keep it as soon as church was over, because I had so much work to do on my writing assignments.

I guess I could try to get around my determined and deliberate breaking of the fourth commandment by saying that I love writing so much that it just doesn't even feel like work. But there's a problem with that: If it's not work, then why do I procrastinate on getting it done?

Which leads me to problem #2: Lying is a violation of yet another commandment.

I am obviously not going to win on this one.

So I'll change the subject by saying that I was nonplussed by the lack of traffic on my way in to work this morning. When there is no traffic, I have mixed feelings. I mean, yay, no traffic, awesome... but wait a minute, what holiday am I missing out on that everyone else is enjoying?

(Answer: Lincoln's birthday.)

In other news, the Lang Lang concert on Saturday was phenomenal. Also, a new study apparently indicates that sleeping on the job might be good for people. Or at least, for Greek adults. (Those were the only people in the study, for some reason.)

Key quote from the article, courtesy of Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos, the study's senior author and a researcher at Harvard University and the University of Athens Medical School:

"My advice is if you can [nap], do it. If you have a sofa in your office, if you can relax, do it," Trichopoulos said.

Now excuse me while I go talk to my boss about the possibility of getting an air mattress for my cube...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rambling on a Saturday Afternoon

Going to the LA Philharmonic tonight, to see Lang Lang play Chopin. Yay!

My cough has finally gotten better. At least I still have both of my lungs. I think.

Am terribly behind on my writing, and yet somehow I have to get a packet of 35-50 pages sent out next week. How this is going to happen is beyond my finite human comprehension, since right now I have about 21 pages total, and about five of those are random scribbles that are not exactly what you'd call "coherent" or "narrative" in any way. I have a feeling I'm not going to get much sleep over the next seven days. Can't wait!!

What never fails to amaze me is the way my actual day job gets busier every time I get close to my next packet deadline. The past couple weeks have been so slow at work, that I probably could have written 10 stories while sitting at my desk, if I was less of a procrastinator than I am. Now that I'm under the gun, though, this coming week is already gearing up to be one of the busiest of the past month. Thanks a lot, Murphy.

In other news, Valentine's Day is still coming up, in spite of my best efforts not to notice. Sigh...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

All Drugged Up And No Place To Go

Today was one of those days when I got up and just didn't even try. You know what I mean?

Part of the problem was that I woke up late. And that was due to the fact that I was out late at the pharmacy the night before, getting cough medicine, because I have had a hacking cough for what is starting to feel like a million years. (I think I actually have an abdominal six-pack forming, thanks to the cough. Unfortunately, no one can see it because of all the healthy food I don't eat. Oh well.)

Anyway, we were out of Robitussin last night. So there I was at the pharmacy somewhere between 10 and 11pm, wandering the aisles and coughing my head off, doubtless causing other customers grave concern ("gee, I wonder what SHE has, sounds bad, maybe it's bird flu, what is she doing out in public, spreading a pandemic around!").

By the way, it is quite amazing, the variety of cough medicines that are available to the health-impaired consumer. I stood there in the "cough and cold" aisle, staring at medicine for coughs, for colds, for sore throats, and for multi-symptoms (cough, fever, pain reducer, sore throat, headache, stuffiness, runny nose, death--ha, just seeing if you were paying attention). Then there were the drowsy/non-drowsy versions of all of these. Which really bugs me, because why can't they just make something that does not effect your wakefulness one way or the other? You'd think with all the technology at our disposal we could come up with a cough medicine that would help you stop coughing while also not making you drowsy OR wired. But no. Where's the money in that?

So I was forced to buy non-drowsy Robitussin DM to get me through the work day as well as a night-time formula because for the love of everything holy, I just had to get some sleep, and the cough was making that just a tad difficult. (The girl at the pharmacy counter actually felt so sorry for me during a particularly bad attack which hit me as I waited to pay that she gave me one of her own personal cough drops. I thought that was awfully nice of her.)

All of this to say that I woke up late this morning because that night-time cough formula more than did the trick. Talk about knocked out. Wow.

I forget where I was going with all this. All the cough medicine is probably killing my brain cells.

Hopefully it kills the bird flu cells while it's at it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Frogg... Camera... Action!

So HP is having some fun spinning off of their Orange County Choppers Super Bowl ad, allowing people to put themselves into a "roadtrip video" with the boys from the OCC.

Which is by no means the same as the boys from the OC. More's the pity.

But anyway, leave it up to good buddy Steve to create a video starring yours truly. I am obviously not the only one having a slow day at work.

When I saw it, I nearly choked to death in my cube, trying to keep from laughing too loudly. I am not saying it's that funny. It was just that funny to me. But I am known for an odd sense of humor.

Well, without further ado, I present the video for your viewing pleasure. And make sure to watch for Steve, who has a cameo as a freaky hitchiker!

Enjoy...


Permalink to video

Busy Signal

Well, I guess the plus side of being so busy lately, trying to balance the demands of the writing program with the full-time job and something at least kind of resembling the rudiments of a social life, is that I forgot all about the fact that Valentine's Day is only a little over a week away and, as usual, I'm single.

Er, wait a minute. Dang!

In other news, I think there was some big sporting event yesterday...?