Lost in the Cosmos

lost in the cosmos
Seems like a good time to consider Lost in the Cosmos (subtitled the “Last Self-Help Book”) by Walker Percy. An ex introduced me to this work, and I’m glad he did, though I was never quite sure why he thought I needed a self-help book. It’s hard to describe (read the Amazon reviews), but this irreverent book basically consists of a series of questions, one of which seems particularly relevant. From page 57 of the 1992 edition:

(9) The Envious Self (in the root sense of envy: invidere, to look at with malice): Why it is that the Self–though it Professes to be Loving, Caring, to Prefer Peace to War, Concord to Discord, Life to Death; to Wish Other Selves Well, not Ill–in fact Secretly Relishes Wars and Rumors of Wars, News of Plane Crashes, Assassinations, Mass Murders, Obituaries, to say nothing of Local News about Acquaintances Dropping Dead in the Street, Gossip about Neighbors Getting in Fights or being Detected in Sexual Scandals, Embezzlements, and other Disgraces

Get this book. The first page includes some alternate subtitles, including:

How you can survive in the Cosmos about which you know more and more while knowing less and less about yourself, this despite 10,000 self-help books, 100,000 psycho-therapists, and 100 million fundamentalist Christians.
Why it is that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos–novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes–you are beyond doubt the strangest
Why it is possible to learn more in ten minutes about the Crab Nebula in Taurus, which is 6,000 light-years away, than you presently know about yourself, even though you’ve been stuck with yourself all your life.

My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable: the book!

my new filing technique is unstoppable
Since seeing David Rees’s presentation at the 2003 Philadelphia 215 Festival, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable. Get Your War On gets all the press, but the Filing Technique strips are near and dear to my cubicle-hardened heart. After all, who hasn’t been shut down by The Man after performing an ingenious office feat like Scotch-taping two computers together to make an 80-mile-per-hour super-database?

According to Rees’s website, the book is now available:

A great new book! “My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable” has just been published and it looks great! You can easily find it at the bookstore because it has a bright pink cover. If you’re wondering why you should buy this book when there’s all these free comics on the web site, please note that this book has a lot of new and different comics. It’s even different than the photocopied version I used to make.

And from the book description on Amazon.com:

Now, combining Rees’s trademark gangsta vocabulary with the merciless absurdity (and eerie, quotidian accuracy) of Office Space and an uproariously profane sense of humor, Rees unleashes his volatile energy on a new comic that brings back the foul-mouthed cubicle slaves who starred in Get Your War On to (panel by panel) knock Dilbert on his ass and establish Rees as the Lenny Bruce of clockwatchers.

Boss-across-the-hall update

He just got a polyphonic Hey Ya ringtone. I look forward to hearing it 50 times a day.

Arts Pick: unstable utopia

unstable utopia
Today’s pick is another piece by a popular Philadelphia artist. In many respects, it is similar to her last installation, reviewed here. Note the similarities–especially the limited palette and unstable medium. However, the new work is bolder and more innovative, perhaps even groundbreaking. The canvas has been cleverly placed in a high traffic area, and if the piece’s strategic location doesn’t attract the attention of passers-by, the contrast between the dark, solid background and the luminous subjects surely will.

Appropriately, the images at the bottom right of the canvas provide an overall sense of stability to the work. The flower and the unnamed amphibian represent a childlike, optimistic perspective of nature. This utopia, however, is overshadowed by the impending chaos in the upper-left corner, moving towards it in a classic z-pattern. And it’s this progression that epitomizes the piece’s theme. The artist has abstracted the violent forces that are ever-present in today’s world and depicted their impending detonation. Will the idyllic, pastoral scene survive the onslaught?

South Philly

Bizarre sandwiches aside, Sunday was a perfect day to explore the city–sunny and unseasonably warm. During a late afternoon stop at the South Philly Tap Room, where Lenny Kravitz and Frank Sinatra were in heavy jukebox rotation, I saw another slice of South Philly.

Beethoven’s Fur Elise began playing, which didn’t seem unusual since it’s a popular ringtone. However, as I peered over the rim of my Yuengling and glanced out the window, I realized that the music was coming from a pink ice cream truck driving slowly down Mifflin Street. Right on the tail of the ice cream truck was an angry SUV driver honking his horn and shaking his fist, which made the ice cream guy slow down even more, which made the SUV guy get out of his car to show the ice cream guy a thing or two, which made the ice cream guy take off and leave the SUV guy stranded at a red light. Now that would’ve been a good picture.


Bad news for residents of Tuvalu, a small South Pacific nation with 11,500 people spread across nine atolls. Large parts of the country will disappear underwater later this week:

Tuvalu…will be hit Thursday and Friday by “king tides” associated with the new moon, Hilia Vavae of the Tuvalu Meteorological Office [reports]
Over the last decade, successive Tuvalu leaders have claimed their state will be the first victim of sea level rise associated with global warming. They have used the argument to claim special immigration access to New Zealand and recently were in discussion with another Pacific state, Niue, on moving their people there.

Tuvalu is a fascinating little country and the title of this gem of a movie.