Category Archives: General News

Deviant Language

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 11.34.27 AMWhen I read aloud these seven stanzas of the “The Jabberwocky” from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, my brow furrows slightly and my mouth moves cautiously to sound out the rhyming of the words. Re-reading each verse, I’m less guarded and considerably swifter in the tongue. I feel more  linguistically unconstrained with each read. My understanding of the meaning of the verses the second and third times through, however, isn’t necessarily greater than the first. Yet the audible allure of the sounds demonstrably increases with repetition. To be sure, “it seems very pretty,” as Alice exclaimed upon hearing it, “but it’s rather hard to understand!” The appeal of jabberwocky language, I imagine, is not the intellectual stimulus it affords its reader-reciters. Rather, it is the separation of meaning and utterance, the divide between cognitive understanding and oral gesturing that makes this poem enthralling and fun. The simultaneous embodiment and de-cognition of Carroll’s jabberwocky gives his readers an experience with deviant language. That is to say, jabberwocky is special language, unlike much of the discourse with which we construct our lives, because it’s experienced on a visceral rather than an intellectual level. To subdue the instinctual urge to understand what’s being read and recited, and to perform fully the rhythm and rhyme of jabberwocky, is an exercise in flouting the laws of semantics. How does this irregular experience of reading and reciting make us feel? When I read nonsensical diction that’s mixed with recognizably sensible language – particularly when it’s read out loud – I naturally, though perhaps unconsciously, feel myself fall out of sync with the cultural conventions of logic, truth, commonsense, and authority. And it feels good.

Another cool (stylishly, meteorologically) July 4th in Western New York

Another year in Western NY, and another 4th of July has come and gone. Despite some hot weather, into the 90ºs, in the days preceding the 4th, Independence Day managed to be quite cool and sunny all day, even rather chilly that night — into the low 60ºs. We attended what’s become our usual venue for viewing fireworks, where this sloping hill overlooking some baseball diamonds…

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…spectacularly serves up this luminous sight after darkness sets in and “You’re a Grand Old Flag” commences:

IMG_8880The colorful explosions in the sky go on for a while, maybe 30mins. Here’s a 2min30sec video from the display last Friday night. We’ll have more fireworks at the end of the summer, shot over the Erie Canal, a picturesque setting if there ever was one. Perhaps I’ll cover that blast, too. So there you have it, a solid reason to stay tuned to EMP for more, er, bombast!

Riding Lock 32 on the Erie Canal

IMG_8682I had the good fortune to spend some time on the Erie Canal a few weeks back. Before then, I’d walked alongside the canal frequently, nearly every day with my old pal Macey. Over the last six years I’ve enjoyed watching the seasons change around the small stretch of canal that runs through our little village of Pittsford, watching the trail coverage thicken in the summertime with dense bushy greenery, explode with fall colors for a spectacular three-four weeks in late-September and early-October, and turn a sharp spartan grayscale for our nearly six months of winter. The autumn colors are easily the biggest attraction every year. Continue reading

FIFA World Cup and Fortaleza

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When I was in Fortaleza the week before the games started (Fortaleza is host to a number of games, including the 0-0 Mexico vs Brazil tie), everyone was talking about the failure of authorities to get anything to done and finished. And how the money was wasted on the stadium while basic services lacked. They failed to complete any of the major projects associated with the Cup, other than the stadium itself (which is beautiful, by the way). The metro wasn’t finished. Airport expansion looks like a project that was just started (concrete pillars and rebar sticking out everywhere) when it should’ve been up and running. Continue reading

Faa…faa, faa, faa, faa, faa, FIFA!

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 9.55.17¡!¡!¡!¡!ATTN¡!¡!¡!¡! fans of soccer, Футбол, futebol, voetbal, football, calcio, fútbol, Fußball, fotbaloví, piłka nożna, 足球, sokker, فٹ بال, and all the rest…the grand tournament we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us: THE 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP. The United States drew a rather tough grouping this time around: Group G, alongside Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. But it looks like they have a decent team again this year and, who knows, perhaps they’ll muster up some magic.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 9.53.11The games start this Thursday, 12 June, when Brazil takes on Croatia (16h00 US est). The US begins their bid for the cup on Monday, 16 June  (18h00 US est) against Ghana. Continue reading

Lou Reed & the What Game

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R.I.P. Lou Highness

Over a decade ago, a small band of good-time Charlies (some might have called them ne’er-do-wells) gathered in a private residence in Bigcity USA. There wasn’t anything special that brought them together that night. Just for kicks, to shoot the breeze, and to listen to music, probably a prelude to a longer night bouncing throughout some of Bigcity’s lively neighborhoods. Whatever the case, one aspect of the evening to this day has lived on quite clearly: one of the revelers introduced the idea of playing the What Game. This proposition wasn’t new to the group, but the game wasn’t a frequent thing for them either. Everyone capitulated eventually, the game commenced, and it lasted a while. For those readers who don’t know the What Game, it’s a simple word game meant to evoke laughter and sometimes, given the right stimuli and wordsmithery, tremendously contagious silliness. Players collect two small stacks of scrap-paper. On one stack they write questions that begin with the interrogative, “What,” which they then fold up and put into a bowl.  On the other stack, players write short random answers to questions that begin with the question-word, “What.” what-hiThe answers then go into another bowl. One by one, players take turns drawing a random question from one bowl followed by a random answer from the other bowl. À la Mad Libs, the questions and answers do not typically match up in a rational way, and often the absurdity of the questions and answers elicits a good deal of laughter. Now, returning to the evening with which this post began, legend has it that the What Game players in question were well into their second or third round, when someone drew the fated question: “What’s inside Bill’s pants?”What01 Continue reading