Monday, July 23, 2007

Are You Still Crazy (Alanis Morrisette)

Language: Italian

I didn't mean to take such a long break, there, but things have been weird. I'm not sleeping well, for the past few weeks, and my unemployment is about to run out (one more full check, on Friday, and maybe a partial check in two weeks, but that's it otherwise), and there's always something more important than Babelpop! to be done, so there you go. Today, the exciting thing was that the ceiling started to pour water, out of nowhere, around 9 or 10 this morning: the upstairs neighbors recently moved out, and apparently left the place utterly trashed, because there's been construction / maintenance noises from up there for a couple weeks now. Until today, the noise was the only real inconvenience, but this morning, I heard dripping noises, and upon investigation, found water dripping from the doorframe of the bathroom door. Then water started coming from the air conditioning vent, the room vent, and the light fixture in the hall. Took a while to mop up, and I had to call maintenance to get it to stop -- which leaves me wondering whether it's maybe going to happen again. I'm a little afraid to leave the building.

Anyway. The above picture is something I found with Galaxy Zoo, which is an effort to catalog hundreds of thousands of pictures of galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey using human volunteer eyeballs, like my own. The picture is easily the coolest one I've found so far, but there are others:

The second picture is a galaxy that was previously known, and the first one might be, for all I know, but considering the magnitude of the project, there's a good chance that you might be seeing pictures of galaxies that nobody has seen, and so there is much potential coolness. If you're interested, go to the Galaxy Zoo site and sign up: there's a quick and pretty simple test, to make sure that you can tell the difference between spiral and elliptical galaxies, and that you know clockwise from counterclockwise, and then you're on your own. Some of the pictures are quite pretty.

Anyway. There are still a couple more songs in the Strawberry Trilogy to come, so be watching for that. I just thought, after all this time, that I needed to put something up, and I'd been meaning to post about Galaxy Zoo for a while, so there you go.

This song turned out okay, I think. The original is, of course, "Are You Still Mad?", and the whole mad-to-crazy joke gets pretty tired pretty quickly, but even so, I think it did nicely for itself.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Are you still crazy? You've given yourselves to the soccer base.
Are you still crazy? I've given you ultimatums.
Are you still crazy? I had all my forty-year-old male friends confront you.
Are you still crazy? I've communicated our problems with you to everyone.

Are you still crazy? Impressionable, I had a transaction without you.
Are you still crazy? Have you tried to model who you wish I could be?
Are you still crazy? I don't trust you there, your intentions.
Naturally you are,
naturally you are.

Are you still crazy? Who flirted wildly?
Are you still crazy? You have had a tendency to generate one of them.
Are you still crazy? The outside hatch is a foot towards that.
Are you still crazy? After we slept, that concluded it. Also, we had that in its entirety.
Naturally you are,
naturally you are.

Are you still crazy? I carried the pants more of the time than you did.
Are you still crazy? I seemed to put yours on fire only to upgrade them. Have that.
Are you still crazy? I've thrown that in the napkin.
Are you still crazy? I gave in much before that.
Naturally you are,
naturally you are.

Friday, July 06, 2007

That Strawberry Wine (Deana Carter)

Language: Portuguese

The husband and I went to my childhood home (from age 2 to 11) on the 4th of July. It wasn't the first time we'd been there; the first time was maybe two or three years ago, which is when I found out that the house I grew up in had been (briefly) a methamphetamine lab, then was bought and demolished by the neighbors. Now, you can't really even tell where it used to be. These neighbors had two daughters, considerably older than I, and one son who was a year younger, and who was, for all intents and purposes, my nemesis when I was a kid. We didn't ever actually hurt one another that I can recall, but we weren't friends, and there were fights. Unpleasantly, it turns out that he, the son, is still living in town there somewhere, which means that he's probably the one who's going to inherit the land when his folks kick, which seems grossly unfair to me. Not only does the neighbor family get to buy and knock down my old house, but then they give the land it used to sit on to Jared?

So but anyway. The town isn't much to look at -- it had about 150 people in it when I lived there, and is now down to about 125-130, depending on whose numbers you believe. But our old property used to be nice. There was a row of walnut trees along the west side of the property, and then a gigantic, ancient weeping willow in the front yard, in the northwest corner. A small patch of rhubarb in the middle of the back yard that we never did anything with, though I occasionally broke off a leaf to taste the stems, which tasted good. Sour-appley. A bunch of raspberry canes ran wild in the southwest corner, and were very very good when they got ripe -- I remember we used to collect bowls and bowls of them, and they were awesome. One or two mulberry trees on the southeast corner, which Dad cut down before we moved away, because when birds eat mulberries and then sit on Mom's clothesline, which birds are wont to do, they get purple bird poop all over whatever clothes are on the line.

There was also a crabapple tree by the rhubarb, which wasn't any good for eating, but provided things to throw at Jared (they had a tree in their yard too), and a few smallish lilac bushes on the east side of the house -- my main memory of the lilacs is that at some point, for reasons I maybe didn't even know at the time, Mom took me with her to break into a neighbor's house (oh yeah -- nobody locked their doors, but you should have guessed that) to leave a giant vase of lilacs on the neighbor's table. I don't even remember it being a neighbor we were especially friendly with, so it was kind of weird, and stuck in my mind. As far as I remember, it only happened the one time, too.

There was also a strawberry patch in the back yard, sort of in the center along the south side of the lawn. Like with the raspberries, when they ripened, they all ripened at once, and we used to have strawberries morning, noon and night for a week or so. They were awesome. Strawberries are bigger now than these were -- the huge mutant strawberries you can get in the grocery stores actually alarm me, sometimes -- but they're not any better. And God, I miss that kind of stuff, just having edible stuff just out growing in the yard, instead of getting them at the store. We didn't even have to work for the strawberries and raspberries, as far as I remember. They were just there.

What pisses me off is that none of this is still around: the neighbors not only bought the house to tear it down (which I understand it wasn't in the best shape anymore: despite what you may have heard, meth users aren't really fastidious house cleaners), but everything else got torn down at one time or another. The loss of the willow tree still pains me to think about, but that wasn't the neighbors, that was my uncle, who we sold the house to when we moved away, and he destroyed the tree rather than clean up the fallen branches. And Dad did the mulberries. But the rest -- the lilacs, rhubarb, walnuts, crabapples, raspberries, strawberries -- gone, at the neighbors' hands. I guess just so it would be easier to mow.

It makes the place kind of depressing to go back to, but there was also a little marker in the ground by the elementary school (where I went to kindergarten and first grade before they closed it for lack of students) saying that a time capsule was buried there. They'd put it in the ground in 1976 sometime, I forget the date, and they were going to open it on July 4, 2007. Which, growing up, I must have seen that marker hundreds of times, and 2007 would have been kind of abstract, but I figure I must have thought about it, what would I be doing in 2007, where would I be. I know I had to have done the math to figure out how old I'd be, though that would have been abstract, too -- when you're eleven, it's hard to visualize yourself much older than fourteen. I figured I owed it to my younger self to try to get back and see what was there, even though the objects in it wouldn't have had anything much to do with me -- my parents didn't contribute to the time capsule, so it would have just been some random 70s crap, other people's tastes, other people's memorabilia.

We got there too late, though. It was like 4 PM, and it had all been over some time before. Nobody around, no indication where the items might have been. A big area in the vicinity of the time capsule marker had been dug up; apparently nobody knew where it had actually been located. Which is funny. But otherwise, nothing. Just the neighbors, on a swing out in their back yard, which I could have gone and asked -- he used to be the mayor, and they knew the town, they would have known what happened. But I didn't feel up to dealing with them.

So in the end, there's just one more thing from my childhood that's not there anymore. All the plants are gone, the house is gone, and now the time capsule marker. It's not that there's nothing left, but even the things I remember are different -- I haven't been in the elementary school in maybe 20-25 years, and I don't know what they're doing with it now exactly but I think somebody's living in there. Maybe multiple someones. Also, there's a horse penned up in what used to be the school's back yard, right about where the slide used to be, which feels surreal.

I know you can't go home again, but still. Gosh. So much of the rest of the town is just like it was: only the stuff that was specific to me seems to be different.

This seemed like a good song for the occasion. It'll also be the beginning of a strawberry trilogy, even though I liked the raspberries better. (People don't write songs about raspberries so much.)

Possibly I should also note that slightly more liberties than usual have been taken with the song: normally I restrict myself to a fairly small number of changes1, and it's still not like I rewrote it all from scratch or anything, but it's less like the lyrics that came back from Babel Fish than usual. Not that you'll notice.


1rearrangement of word order; pluralization/depluralization; change of verb tense; deletion of words that just can't be made to fit into the song; addition/subtraction of articles (a, an, the); addition/subtraction of helping verbs and forms of "to be;" occasional reversion to the original word; changes of gendered pronouns. Most of these things are effectively randomized by the Babel Fish code to begin with.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The college worked it out through
grandpa. In my farm,
I thirsted for knowledge and had a car
stopped someplace. Yeah, I was agitated, in between a woman and summer --
a child finding the love of a wild one. We grow
in the banks of the river, in a well-beaten passage.
Those memories lasted; they were as funny as we were.

Seventeen: as the strawberry wine and
the hot moon of July capsizes everything,
my first taste of love was bitter candy,
as was the strawberry wine in the green grapevine.

I remember the thirty distillers well. When the elderly were
to go (when they had that mine), they were "Great September!" The fears
were absent: some cards, and letters, and an inter-urban call
that drifted. We were like fall foliage in the
place, but in the year after the year I came back to this,
only the taste of the strawberry wine was remembered.


The fields have grown an excess now, in the years since
the plough capsized them. That -- is not that,
that is nothing. The time didn't touch
my innocence, really, or -- is it that the loss of it is
so very lacking to me?

[a] [a]

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fifty Ways to Leave His Lover (Paul Simon)

Language: Spanish

When the husband and I moved into our current apartment, he signed us up for DirecTV, among other things, because it was kind of a bargain, the way that Qwest and DirecTV had it arranged. Since then, many, many things have gone wrong.

DirecTV, at least in our area, comes with two satellite dishes, one for local channels and one for everything else. The one for everything else hasn't really caused us any problems, but the one for the local channels was installed so that it was pointed right into a tree. For the first couple months, this was a problem, because the leaves of the tree block enough of the signal that all our local channels cut in and out unpredictably. And we called DirecTV about this, and they told us that there was a software upgrade they could do, or something like that, and they talked the husband through a reinstallation of the card that programs the receiver, and stuff like that, but it didn't really get any better until winter happened, when the tree shed its leaves.

So all winter, we could watch TV just fine, and we knew that this was going to suck when the tree grew leaves again, but there wasn't anything else to be done, really -- the guy who came to install the dishes didn't tell us that he was pointing one of the dishes directly into a tree, and he didn't tell us that this might cause problems with the reception, and as far as I know, DirecTV customer support never asked, even, if there was anything blocking the signal.

When the tree leafed out and we began having problems again, DirecTV said that they'd be happy to send someone out to fix it for us, but they'd have to charge us for a service call, which I don't remember how much that was but it was a lot more than we wanted to pay. Considering that none of this was our fault, and that we weren't told that the installer was going to have to point the dish into the tree, and this was, therefore, entirely DirecTV's fuck-up, asking us to pay anything to get it fixed was, frankly, a little insulting.

Of course part of the deal was that we had to commit to a whole year of service from them, so we are only now getting around to the point where we can start thinking about getting out of the deal and having something else put in instead. The husband called DirecTV yesterday to get the service cancelled (and the weasels hung up on him, put him on hold for half-hour stretches more than once, tried to argue that our contract actually extended a month longer than it was supposed to, and all manner of other corporate vileness), and today we're supposed to have a cable guy come in and give us regular, good old-fashioned cable TV like Mom used to make. Which means I have to be around here all day, but it wasn't like I was anxious to go anywhere anyway.

So, moral of the story: the service provided by DirecTV isn't that great to begin with. They're awful to deal with in the event of technical problems, and you will almost certainly have technical problems. Where they're not malicious, they're greedy; where not greedy, they're inept. Save your money. Read books if you have to. Just don't sign up with DirecTV.

And, Qwest -- you might want to rethink your business partners here. Associating yourself with DirecTV is not going to make anybody think more highly of you or the service you offer.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The problem within his head is everything, she said to me,
if the answer is easy. Are you taking that logically?
She wanted to help him in his fight to be free.
There must be fifty ways to leave me to your lover.

She said, "Not to impose, really: my habit is
hope (or meaning -- in addition,
I interpreted that so it isn't lost to me; it isn't bad),
but I will repeat myself." At the risk of being crude,
There must be fifty ways to leave me to your lover,
fifty ways to leave me to your lover.

As soon as the cat's rear part slips,
they formulate a new plan. They're you, Stan.
No, Roy, they just need to be timid.
Get the free jump in the bus, Gus:
we don't need to discuss that much.
The key is the right drop of the lees,
and geting itself to freedom.


I said, "To see him is in such pain, so troubled,
could make a smile." (That desire had something to do with it.)
I said, "Please. That esteem again? Would you explain that to him,
on the fifty ways, and --"

She said, "Because we don't sleep, do it tonight, as soon as they both
begin to see the light in you, and I will create him in the morning,"
and then she kissed me. (She was probably right to.) And I realized that
there must be fifty ways to leave me to your lover,
fifty ways to leave me to your lover.

[a] [a]

Monday, July 02, 2007

Song of the Superman (Crash Test Dummies)

Language: Portuguese

The year 2007 is halfway over, as of today. I'm not a huge fan, but it's been a better year so far than some.

Grumpy at the moment because I was just out riding my bike, and a couple was jogging toward me on the sidewalk, and they didn't get out of my way so I had to get out of theirs. Rode off the sidewalk into some grass, and then when I went to get back on the sidewalk again, I didn't make a hard enough turn, so the front tire of my bike skidded along the edge of the concrete until the whole bike tipped over on its left and scraped up my left arm and both hands. I'm okay, but pissed all the same. Also the bike wasn't working quite right on the return trip, though that may or may not be major, or permanent.

Anyway. What we've got here is the bonus fourth song in the Superman trilogy. I probably like this song better than the other three; not that those ones are bad or anything, but I like the Crash Test Dummies aesthetic, and especially on the album this song is from (The Ghosts That Haunt Me), I think the CDT were doing a good job. Later on, they got a little less interesting to me, but that sort of thing happens.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tarzan wasn't a man of the ladies:
it would only come longitudinally, and it would excavate them.
Under his arm quickly as that one, as a cat in the forest above.

Now Clark Kent had a real gentleman.
Wouldn't be stopped around in junglescape seat; none is as dumb as a monkey
that doesn't make nothing.

Superman never made all the money
that conserves Solomon Grundy's world, and at times I despair of the first world: never
will we see another man as he does.

Hey Bob, Supe had straight work,
that could've torn it into pieces through all the banks in the United States –
he had the force, but not.

The family said its peoples were all inoperative.
But Superman, he forced that disintegrated planet to continue,
to forget it and keep going to Krypton.


Tarzan was king of the forest, and the excess gentleman of all the monkeys,
but he could badly moor together four words:
"I Tarzan, You Jane."

The times when Supe stopped crimes,
I'll bet that the man was tempted to stop and turn his back part in,
join Tarzan in the forest.

But he remained in the city, and he remained in the clothes.
The change in dirty old telephone cabins finished its work; it didn't until
the rest had nothing to do but go in completely.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Or Superman (Laurie Anderson)

Language: Spanish

And the third song in the Superman trilogy. This didn't wind up all that far from the original song -- sometimes there isn't a lot to work with. That's how it is sometimes. I believe I've made my feelings for Laurie Anderson quite clear in a previous post; that kind of leaves me without a whole lot to say right now. Plus I've only just gotten up -- it's between 9:30 and 10 AM, but I haven't been sleeping well for the last four or five days. So I'm not really able to come up with much to say about this post.

Looking at the picture, there, I realize that the husband and I never did see that movie. We intended to. People said it was good at the time; I don't know whether or not it actually was. There just always seemed to be better things to do, somehow.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Superman's Mama, or Dad. And / or "Judge Dad."
Mama, or judge, or Papa and / or Mother. Or "Superhombre and Mother-Papa."
I'm not homemade now.
But if you wish to leave a message, that speaks right at the beginning sound of the tone.
Hello? This one is its mother. Are you there? You're coming to the house?
Hello? He's a caretaker? Well, you don't know me, but I know him,
and I have a message to give him.
Here the planes come.
So you better get a list ready to go. You can come as you are, whereas you go pay.
But payment is as you go.

And I said: AUTHORIZATION. Who's this one, really?
And voiced this: This one is the hand, the hand that takes.
This one is the hand, the hand that takes. This one is the hand, the hand that takes.
Here come the planes. They are flat Americans; America, in fact. Smoking or not-smoking?
And voiced this: neither the snow, nor rain, nor the nightly discouragement,
will complete the fasts of these messengers. They remain
because of their designated round ones.

When the love goes away, there is always justice.
And when justice goes away, there is always force.
And when the force goes away, there is always Mother. Hi, Mother!

Hold me so, Mother, in your long arms.
Hold me so, Mother, in your long arms.
In your automatic arms, your electronic arms. In your arms.
Hold me so, Mother, in your long arms.
Your arms of petrochemical products. Your arms of the military. In your electronic arms.