Monday, October 27, 2008

In Defense of Wrinkles

I want to be wrinkly.

Wrinkles are the result of a life well-lived. Wrinkles mean you smiled a lot, wrinkles mean you played the piano, or raised your eyebrows, or jumped or moved or ran, depending on their location. The bottom line is I want to have done all of those things, and so when I'm old I hope I smiled and ran and wrinkled, wrinkled and enjoyed every minute of it. I hope you wrinkled with me, I hope we smiled and ran together, or not together but at the same time, in different directions, in different places. I hope we smiled and ran into each other, and got a cup of coffee and talked about how we got our wrinkles and raised our eyebrows at each other and laughed, laughed so for every wrinkle we talked about we got ten more. I hope you told me about the wrinkles that you didn't tell other people; I hope it was dark and we walked on a cold windy beach and you told me about the wrinkles that came from crying or fighting or falling down the stairs. Wrinkles don't always mean happiness. They mean experience. I want you to have told me your experiences and I could tell you about mine and I want to have experienced with you and got wrinkles from it. I like it when you smile and when you smile you get wrinkles, you got wrinkles, and we could be wrinkly because we experienced everything together and smiled. I hope we were walking and someone offered us anti-wrinkling cream and we laughed and wrinkled because we wore our wrinkles on our sleeves. We let everyone see them and everyone got jealous because they were blank pieces of paper and we had lines all over us, our wrinkles were our lines, our wrinkles drew pictures of everything we did and didn't and wished we had and regretted and laughed about. We could be wrinkly because we wrinkled and loved every minute of it.

Wrinkle with me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Un Soir dans Paris VI

This is an insert that will eventually go between parts II and III. When I'm done with the whole thing, I'll fix the numbers and probably combine it into one long story on another page. Also, I've posted this picture before, but I just recently found a photoshop tutorial for making a good grunge photograph. I like how this came out.


Cold was fluorescent.

Cold kept things slow and bright; cold left nothing unexposed. Cold examined everything, every opportunity you missed and every mistake you made, but more than that cold was synonymous with the dirty kind of light that illuminated everything, that bounced off grimy cement walls and oily snow and damp asphalt and blinded everyone. Cold had good intentions, probably, but in the end cold didn't really solve problems. It just provided the light people needed to get things figured out.

On this evening, Nicolas had an idea that changed everything, and he had it in a cold, bright library under the streets of Paris.

Nicolas was a poet by birth and a scientist by profession but a worker by every other standard that anyone cared to name. He wanted change and was one of the few people in Paris working for it, and he was doing it the only way he knew how: science.

Things were not going well. He had energy and stamina but no ideas, which were the things that really mattered. He was willing to be meticulous and careful but didn't know what he had to be meticulous and careful about, at least until this night when he had his idea.

Nicolas had a theory. He thought people fought because it was hot; people fought because it has hot and they were sweating and it only seemed natural to be fighting when it was this hot. So he had an idea to change the heat and the fighting all at once, an idea that would make people smile again, an idea that would save the life of a stranger he had never met and would never meet, an idea that would shed light on a problem enough to solve it.

Nicolas would make it snow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

--Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

Monday, October 20, 2008


Here, Rachel, make this your background.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Bell Whisperer

There was a bell whisperer.

His name was Alex or Alec or something, and he had red hair and freckles and he was a bell whisperer. I heard it from a friend, or my brother, perhaps, or someone in his section was in my SAT class or had a sister that went to my synagogue. You've heard it before too, little shouts and murmurs about how much better the band was when he was here or how there was this crazy kid who was sick at the bells. The bell whisperer, he was called, because he could whisper to the bells and they knew what he was saying.

He played the bells, which already makes him a little weird because not many people played the bells, and he had red hair and freckles on his arms and he wore a black hat all the time that had an acronym on it that no one knew. His name was Alex, you've been told, and he was a bell whisperer who played the bells.

The bells are the instrument that you forgot when you were listing all the instruments in the marching band, even though they're bright and clear and you can hear them from the stands, that is to say you hear the music they're playing and you can probably identify which instrument is playing it, though you call them xylophones even though xylophones are actually made of wood and these are bells and bells are metal. Alex might have called them xylophones too, because even though he was the bell whisperer he was still a high school kid who rarely cared to distinguish between pitched percussion. I think there was a kid in his section who got angry when you called them xylophones, but the point of this story is more about the bell whisperer, and he didn't care what you called them or even if you acknowledged them. As far as he was concerned, it was just him and the bells, and even then he really preferred hanging out with his friends to playing his instrument. He didn't even read music, he just heard it and played it, which was miraculous unto itself but not why he was called the bell whisperer.

He had freckles on his face and on his arms and legs and he played the bells but that wasn't why he was called the bell whisperer either. He was called the bell whisperer because he heard the bells talk and he knew what was wrong with them and because during his freshman year he saved someone's life during a parade using a bell set and also he could fix them regardless of the problem. Whether a note was coming loose or a bracket was falling off and the bells were about to fall and the harness was about to crack he knew beforehand and he took the set and walked it back to the band room and fixed it and was back on the field before the number was done, and if he didn't have a screwdriver he couldn't fix the bells because even though he was a bell whisperer he couldn't just fix things that were broken without a screwdriver, so when he didn't have a screwdriver he would just march with the broken set and tell it not to break and it wouldn't, and the kid who got annoyed when you called the bells the xylophones just shook his head and laughed and said something about how good the bell whisperer was at what he did.

He had a black hat that had some acronym on it and no one knew what the acronym stood for and he had red hair that was really more orange and he had freckles all over the place and because of that you called him a ginger kid, but he didn't mind so much. He called himself a ginger kid, but this is less about how he was called a ginger kid and more about how he was called the bell whisperer, and the reason he was called the bell whisperer was because he could fix anything that was wrong with the bells and one year he saved someone's life during a parade because he knew the bells were about to get damaged and damaged bad and so he told his section leaders to put the bells up and they looked at him weird but he told them something was about to happen and so they did.

His name was Alex or Alec, one or the other, and he was the bell whisperer and also a ginger kid, and he had friends that were ginger kids and he was the funniest person you ever knew, or maybe the funniest person I ever knew, or maybe just the funniest anyone in the whole world ever knew, and he was called a ginger kid because he had freckles and orange hair but he was called the bell whisperer because he knew when the bells were going to break and because he knew in ninth grade when the bells were going to break and so he told everyone to put their bells up and the guy with the gun at the parade who shot at the band really didn't do any damage but hit the sophomore girl who walked in the back row who had the pretty hair but who was really quiet but she was fine because for some unknown reason her bells were up even though the band was supposed to be playing and the bullet hit the e flat that was right in front of her heart and bounced off.

He had freckles on his arms and a black hat and his name was Alex, as far as I recall, or as far as you recall, and he was the bell whisperer, which is good work if you can get it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Tch was quick. He hit hard, he moved fast, he bobbed, he stretched, he coiled, he dodged, he ducked, he switched directions. He used jabs, he confused his opponent, and he won. He won big. He won all the time.

Tch was a lightweight, but only because he had to be. He would have fought any sound that cared to take him on. Tch was tall and skinny and had stitches down the right side of his face, and though he acted modest in public, he relished the attention. He was a boxer, through and through.

He fought all kinds of sounds. He beat Ch without much of an issue, even though some had predicted it would be a close fight. Tch was infinitely sharper than Ch. Dge was a tough opponent, heavier than Tch, but not as fast, not as cutting. Tch was quick. His fight with Th wasn’t even close. Th was as soft as his sister, Sh. Neither of them were born to be boxers, but it seemed like only Sh realized that. As a publicity stunt, Tch once fought the twins, Ff and Ph, at the same time. Tch won handily; his speed ended up tripping his opponents over one another. Cl, Str, even X. Tch took them on and won.

Tch was mean. There wasn’t much doubt about it. He was practical, sure, and a little bit quiet, but he was mean. He hit his opponents harder than he needed to because he liked the noise that their head made against that last punch, the punch that sent the other sounds sprawling and that started the referee counting. He loved it when his opponent got back up, too; that was his favorite part. The other sound would be standing there, dazed, and the referee would drop his arm and before his victim would even get his gloves up Tch would wind up and send a right hook pounding into his head. He would fall back to the ground, and if he got up Tch would do it again, over and over, mercilessly, until the fight was over.

Tch was a fighter, and a topnotch one at that. Tch was the best.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Could Be An Issue

I like living on the Main Line. I know it has its faults, but if I could pick anywhere in the world to go to school, I would still pick here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Un Soir dans Paris V

Heat was paramount.

Sure, heat wasn't infinite. Heat couldn't make it into apartments at night, for instance, which meant that people who took refuge there were safe, at least until daybreak. It couldn't be everywhere, but it could be enough places so that, even if someone hid in an apartment at night, heat would get them eventually. The smart ones knew it: heat wasn't up for discussion. Find ways around it, evade it for a while, seek shelter, drink water, cool down; it doesn't matter. Heat would win out in the end.

Felix and Josephine didn't know that. It was early morning, two or three, and they were hiding in the cover of an alley. The concrete was cool, even if the air was stifling, so they sat and watched the stray cats playing around the dumpster.

Josephine got up, walking over to the dumpster. She hopped on top lightly while the cats scattered. She jumped and grabbed the rusty iron fire escape that clung so precariously to the alley wall. Swinging her feet up, she pulled herself, rung by rung, until she sat on the bottom level of the metal contraption.

Felix watched her, half-amused. "What's going on up there?" he inquired, doing his best impression of what he imagined to be a grin.

She replied, "not much. You want to come up?"

He looked around. "I'm good down here."

"Yeah," she said, drumming a little cadence on the fire escape, "I figured."

"What does that mean?" he asked.

"What do you think it means?" she exclaimed, exasperated, "you just don't seem like the type to do something really adventurous."

"I hang out with you," he said.

Josephine laughed.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

HDR Test

I posted this picture before, but in this version I did the best I could to make it HDR, which involves combining a lot of exposures. I just found out that, by using the RAW setting on my camera, I can take a picture, make it into a bunch of different pictures of different exposures, and then make those into an HDR. Look for it in the future.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bad Rhetorical Questions

1. If a tree falls in the forest, does the five-second rule apply to beavers?

2. What is the sound of one hand playing ping-pong?

3. Aardvark?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bad Essay Prompts

1. Assess the relative importance of the days of the week taking into account readers of "Cat Fancy" magazine.

2. Using artistic evidence from the Gothic period, explain the process by which rattlesnakes reproduce.

3. In a well-organized essay, aardvark.