I’m the King of Jubilee Jumbles

artist Nayland Blake natters on about art and other things

Archive for December 2003

What does it mean?

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Post about crushes received 5 responses

Post about stale cake received 13 responses

Post that ended with the words “depressed and freaked out” received 0 responses

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December 30, 2003 at 11:09 am

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Protected: But he doesn’t even know I’m alive….

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December 29, 2003 at 4:55 pm

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Does it make up for cake?

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Back from Dunkin Donuts where I went for a box of munchkins (mistakenly called “nibblers” in a previous post – I watch too much Futurama) for my office mates and an extra chocolate frosted donut for myself, which was excellent. Thank god this afternoon’s dessert alert didn’t progress past a code orange!

By the way, I spent this weekend depressed and freaked out, la-la.

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December 29, 2003 at 4:34 pm

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The Outrage and sadness….

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…. of stale, stale cake. All set to chow down on a hunk of carrot cake, bite one tells the sad tale: grainy, stiff, flavorless. A second bite is no better; it’s not just the outside edge, it’s pretty much the whole thing, I try just eating the creamcheese frosting and taste the flavors of stale refrigerator air. So into the garbage it goes and with it a small bit of illusury luxury.
Now how will I punctuate my afternoon?

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December 29, 2003 at 3:20 pm

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New Worst xmas song ever?

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Yes, we’re hating all xmas music right now but this season I’ve fixated on one hideous song in particular to rant about: Sir Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time”. Since contemporary stations can’t wait around for James Ingram to cover the entire Andy Williams songbook, they play crap like this. Why do I hate it? Flabby trotting melody, lyrics that recreate someone looking around the room and finding nothing remarkable in the act, gratuitous-counterpoint-singing children’s chorus. Beneath it all is my sneaking suspicion that Sir Paul only wrote it because he couldn’t stand that John Lennon’s Xmas song grows more popular every year, even with an overwrought cover by Melissa Etheridge.

I wanted to list my favorite xmas songs here but my mind is so befuddled that I can’t even remember them. Hmmm – “Mambo Santa Mambo” “Holly Jolly Xmas” (which I used to freak out my ex with by chasing him around the apartment and singing holly jolly holly jolly over and over again) National Lampoon’s “Kung Fu Christmas” “Good King Wenceslaus” and there are another couple in there some where.

Ah! on reflection I’ve figured it out – my fave is “Have yourself a merry little Christmas” for it’s melancholic undercurrents and time skipping lyric.

Another Seasonal Musing – Ask people what is the most popular Xmas carol and most folks will say “Jingle Bells”. But the lyrics never…mention….Xmas…at…all! OOOOOOooooooo weird eh?

(Ok I’ll admit it, I’m bored and resentful here at work)

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December 24, 2003 at 11:29 am

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I have six pens in my pocket…

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Current Book: Richard Brookhiser – The Adamses, 1735 – 1918, America’s First Dynasty

Again, a big gap in postings which means that I can’t recount all the important stuff. Or maybe only the important stuff. In any event, unless you’re a hard core fan of the minutia of my life, scroll down now!

For the rest of you, don’t say I didn’t warn you. This weekend I made substantial progress in getting the house in order. I did it in the classic way: by giving myself two easily acheivable goals. First was to assemble the two bookcases I bought last week. Second was to stack all the loose papers that filled the floor of what should be the living room, but what had become the “file room”. By telling myself over and over that was all I had to do, I of course got excited by the tidier space and branched out from there. I went from the floor to the super cluttered living room desk, to changing the sheets, to taking things to the dry cleaner, to sorting through boxes of books to picking coins off the floor (don’t ask) to transcribing phone info into the palm desktop. Some of the things I discovered:
A. I owned ten pairs of sunglasses, most some variation on aviator frames and all very cheap. I chucked eight of them. On top of that I “found” three pairs of perscription glasses that I haven’t been wearing. Since lately I’ve been despairing at my worsening far sightedness, I should probably start wearing these.
B. I tend to leave pens in the pockets of clothes as part of a cycle where “I can’t find a single pen!” when i went though all those pockets and all of my shoulder bags I ended up with tons of them:thus the title for this post.
C. It’s better to admit that I won’t read something than to save it. I’ve got tons of announcements, catalogs, newspapers, etc. in the apartment that are only there because I think that I’ll get to them. I won’t, and for all the time I don’t they sit there and make me anxious and guilty.
D. My body is inherently messy. When you are hirsute, hair comes off of you and ends up on the floor more often than not. without regular removal, it can make your living space hirsute as well.
E. Placing bags of garbage on the curb feels good. Farewell to the six books of ‘while you were out memos that i was holding onto in order to save contact numbers. Some of them were from eight years ago. I know: a gold mine for my biographers, now gone for ever.

There’s more and more of this stuff of course. One of the most crucial points is that the same information can either make me clean more (as it did this weekend) or make me despair and cringe in my bed (as it has over the past few months). Some of this has to do with available time: when I get into the cycle of Home work shop sleep, I can only note the problem. When I feel that I have more time available, I can devise some strategies for moving it along As it was, I barely left the house Saturday, and got very little Christmas shopping done Sunday. But if it means that after two years I can start to fully inhabit my house, then it’s fine by me.

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December 22, 2003 at 11:42 am

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Eye opener.

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Current Book: Louis Menand – American Studies

Last night I read “The Long Shadow of James B. Conant” an essay from the above mentioned book. I case you don’t know who Conant was (I didn’t), He served as Harvard university’s president from 1933 to ’59 and was intimately involved with the creation of two items that certainly had a great deal to do with shaping my consciousness: the atom bomb and the SAT. As fascinating as that info is what really caught my eye in the essay was Menand’s capsule history of US university ideology in the twentieth century. It’s notable for its weaving together of demographic and political explanations for the rise and fall of notions like meritocracy. All of this may seem pretty opaque but it touches on a private theory of mine regarding the rise of MFA programs and departments of arts practice within liberal arts institutions during the Seventies.

At mid century College education was being touted as a “unifying force” in american society; a way codify and pass on democratic values in a society without a central religion, and with atomizing family and class structures. This was the prevailing view for the postwar generation and colleges based their curriculum around inculcating the values that were felt to be necessary for future captains of industry and government. All of this made sense while the economy was expanding but by the early seventies the US was faced for the first time since the turn of the century with a generation of people who could not expect to have a higher standard of living than their parents had. How to stop them from tearing down the society in their frustration? Train them to be artists. Why? Because in the arts, people luxuriate in a split consciousness not found any where else in society.

By being involved in the arts in American today one is able to assert something for perhaps the the first time in western history: that what one does for a living is distinct from what one is. In other words, I’m working as a waiter, but I’m an Actor. The nature of this assertion made it possible for large numbers of people to make peace with their downward mobility because they had been offered something in exchange: a notion of self as separate and untouched by occupation. And so there rose an “artist lifestyle” that valorized living in discarded commercial spaces, wearing thrift shop clothes, working in food service jobs, etc, etc. Things that twenty years earlier would have been regarded as the mark of a hobo, not of a boho.

Today most colleges have some sort of arts major and can we say that we are better off? Do we have better art, music, theater? a better society? I’m the product of such a system and I can’t say that I don’t feel subtly duped in some way, like I’ve been handed a box of milk duds and pushed to the sidelines.

Take a look at the Menand’s essay, which offers other delights, such as a prose style I can only sigh after. It actually doesn’t assert any of the things that I have just put out here, but it does provide a very different way of thinking about the supposed “culture wars on American campuses”

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December 18, 2003 at 10:02 am