elvis irish mccalla

A request

Dear LJ friends,

I wish you would not hide place entries behind links that say "( You are about to view content that may not be appropriate for minors. )" unless, indeed, it may not be appropriate for minors. I realize this is a subjective thing, but I've encountered a number of entries marked as such that have nothing remotely risqué or "adult" about them. If they do, fine, put it behind a link.

I often am reading entries on shaky wireless networks. So new links take time to load. I want to read what you wrote regardless of its adult content or lack thereof. But a bunch of these links can end up taking a lot of time--extra time that's unnecessary, in many cases.

Anyway, it's your call, and I look forward to reading what you write in the future. Just thought I'd make my wishes known.


elvis irish mccalla

I'm the Garbage Man

I had coffee today with a roommate of mine from years ago, who is from Japan, and she told me about a film she really liked, a documentary about poverty in the Philippines. After a bit of searching, I found its IMDB entry--and what I think is the whole film on youtube.com:

Kami no ko tachi (2002)


Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


It's in Japanese without subtitles (I'd love to see someone post a subtitled version), but the images are so strong (especially in part one) that you don't need to understand it all. Incredible footage of garbage pickers and the shantytown they live in. Safe for work, though it does contain some graphic images that might not be for the squeamish. In English it seems to be known as God's Children and it has apparently been shown in this country, but there doesn't seem to be any US DVD.

And a lot of the world lives like this.
elvis irish mccalla

Welcome advertisers

I have Googlejuice! My last post now shows up 11th-ranked under "Van Halen belt" on Google (apparently M. Dantec, or his translator, I'm not sure which) is not the only one connect Eddie, Alex, and Diamond Dave to the heavens...)
elvis irish mccalla

Guitars in Orbit

"She 'hears' pulsar and neutron star polyrhythms through ears of big radio-astronomical antennas. She dances with Auroras Borealis tracked by sounding balloons and micro satellites. She knows the oscillatory ecstasy of cosmic radiation in the Van Halen belt..."

--from Babylon Babies by Maurice G. Dantec, transl. from the French by Noura Wedell (Semiotext(e), 2005), p. 112

Van Halen belt When astronauts began to spend long periods in orbit on space stations, music was a key factor in staving off boredom. The advent of the eight-track tape, with its relatively lightweight player, offered the opportunity for space travelers to carry a relatively large amount of music in their personal weight allowance. Once the tapes were in space, they tended to stay there, left for the astronauts' successors in the station. The Soviets' Salyut 6 station, which was in orbit from 1977 to 1982, amassed a considerable tape library, what with the comings and goings of the many Soyuz and Progress missions. Many of the Soviet cosmonauts were fans of hard rock and metal, and many were the orbits that hard-rockin' guitars could be heard within the cramped confines of the bulkheads of Salyut 6. (In space, no one can hear you rock.)

The final manned mission on Salyut 6 was in 1981. By this time, it was known that the station was going to be deorbited. Interviewed years later, Soviet cosmonaut Leonid Popov recalled, "One day it hit me that our magnificent tape library was going to become a charred, melted lump of plastic. Maybe it's silly, but I just couldn't stand the idea of it all being destroyed. We had so much great music--Jethro Tull, Zeppelin, Bad Company, Foghat, you name it. So, I made the decision that I was going to jettison the tapes into outer space. Maybe some alien would find them centuries later. There must have been hundreds of them by then. It was a really magnificent sight, watching them trail away as I propelled them out the airlock."

One day late in 2001, astronaut Carl Walz, on Expedition 4 to the International Space station, spotted a curious object floating near the station. When he examined it through a small telescope, it proved to be a curious bit of space junk. Though much battered by micrometeorites, the label on the eight-track was clearly discernible: It was Van Halen's 1978 self-titled debut album. It didn't take long for one wag to dub the station's orbit "the Van Halen belt," and the name has come to be used for any area of low earth orbit where space junk tends to collect.
elvis irish mccalla

May I help you, sir?

Monday I had to drop off a job at Simon & Schuster. I called M., my contact, and said I was on my way, but when I arrived and the security guard at the desk called upstairs, she wasn’t picking up her phone. “She must’ve just stepped out for a minute. I’ll wait,” I said.

A moment later, one of the other guards came over with a thin man. “My friend’s going to help you out here,” the guard said. Turning to the man behind the desk, he said with exaggerated politeness, “I want you to give this man your special attention.”

I looked at the thin guy. My immediate thought was, Homeless crazy person. It wasn’t a certainty, though. The man had a backpack that was stuffed to capacity. His jeans and T-shirt were fairly worn, but they were clean, without obvious rips and tears. His face, though, radiated deep despair. Someone who’s watched their child crushed to death by a bus and then stayed up for three days might have eyes like his.

And why was he here? “He’s looking to get another copy of this book,” said the first guard. “Who do you think he should talk to?”

I looked down. In the thin man’s hands were the remains of a paperback: about half the cover and a stack of loose pages, their brittle, yellowed edges crumbling. Title: The Story of Surgery. Paperback collector that I am, I recognized it as a Cardinal Edition from the mid-1950s. “I tried at the library, and they said to come here,” said the man. Indeed, Cardinal was an imprint of Pocket Books, and Pocket is now part of S&S.

But as the guards speculated as to who the man should talk to, I felt compelled to ask if I could intervene. “OK, that book was published, like, fifty years ago. I doubt very much whether it’s still in print. It might be, but I’d be surprised if it is. [I checked later; it isn’t.] And if it is, I don’t think you’ll be able to buy a copy here. They’re in a warehouse somewhere. But I bet you can find a second-hand copy for under five dollars on the Internet.” I asked the desk guard for a slip of paper and wrote:



“I don’t know how to use the Internet,” the man said, staring at me with two deep pools of despair.

“Well, if you go the library, they have computers you can use for free, and the librarian can help you.” I hope this is true, and that they don’t brush him off.

“I got a friend who knows how to use it,” the man said, and he left. Of course, I wonder very much if he has a credit card, but maybe his friend can help him.

I felt both good and bad about this encounter. On the one hand, we treated him with respect and did our best to be helpful. Crazy as the man may have been, he had a legitimate request: his copy of the book was in ruins, and he wanted another one. And am I so different from him, with my often overstuffed backpack and borderline OCD?

On the other, I’m not sure if he’ll be able to order the book from one of those sites. I checked later, and if it’s the book I think it is (I didn’t see the author’s name, and there are several books of that title)--but if, as I suspect, it’s the one by Harvey Graham, there are indeed copies of the 1939 Doubleday, Doran hardcover for about $5 postpaid. I thought there would be some copies of the Cardinal paperback, but it seems to be rarer than I thought. But does he have a bank card. Does he have a mailing address?

But where else is he going to find a copy? The Strand? Maybe…but iffy. These days, the Internet is the way to go for secondhand books.

I would gladly buy him a copy, but I doubt I’ll see him again.
elvis irish mccalla

(no subject)

Via nightgarden and others, here are my top ten career options according to the test:

1. Historian
2. Cartographer
3. Conservator
4. GIS Specialist
5. Archaeologist
6. Air Traffic Controller
7. Meteorologist
8. Paleontologist
9. Anthropologist
10. Oceanographer

I had to look up what "GIS" means; it stands for "Geographic Information Systems."

Maybe it's time to think about grad school...
elvis irish mccalla

Secret Master

I have the power to keep you in pain, or to take away that pain in a few moments. Yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you. You, pouty-faced alternadude. You, pretty tattooed lady out for a night of bar-hopping. You, hip-hip thug wannabe. You, hapless middle-aged tourist. I can sit here and watch you suffer, or I can relieve your pain. It's all up to me. Usually, I'm merciful. But if you put too much contempt into that glance at me as I sit here calmly, seemingly oblivious to your plight...Well, who knows how long I might make you suffer, just for the fun of it?

If you notice me at all--and it wouldn't be so surprising if you didn't, as distracted as you are--you would surely never guess my power. You would never imagine that that guy over in the corner with his nose in stacks of paper, or maybe absorbed in his laptop, has such power over you.

But you see, I know something very important that you don't. The management of this place really ought to put up a sign, but they haven't. I know that that bathroom door that you think is locked actually isn't. It just takes a little extra pull. (If there's actually someone in there, you'll feel the catch when you pull on the door.) That's right--you're waiting impatiently for that door to open, as you grow increasingly uncomfortable, but it's never going to open unless you open it. And you can do that any time you want.

I know that and you don't.

Oh, don't worry. As I said, I'll probably tell you right away. I don't really like seeing people suffter.

Not usually.

But remember: You never know who holds the key to your pain and pleasure. I might be sitting right next to you.
elvis irish mccalla

Dumpster diving, part 437,259

Ludlow St., 3 a.m. Walking home from the all-night café on Houston St., I see a big box sitting on top of the street trash can. When I glance into it, I see there's nothing but garbage in it. No, wait, there's a book.

It's an Isaac Bashevis Singer first edition, autographed: "Greetings, Isaac Bashevis Singer."

Who throws this stuff away?
elvis irish mccalla


Contrary to any statements I may have previously made, I am now planning to attend Readercon. (I had thought that my work schedule would be too tight or me to go, but I now see my way clear to having the time. Not sure exactly when I'll make it up, but should be there by Friday night. So...who else is going? (besides aqeldroma, rosefox, sinboy, baron_elric, and editrx, that is)