Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Secrets of the Four Eyes Revealed!

My "Four Eyes" post has raised a slew of requests/inquiries:
  • A new profile picture and/or an illustration
  • What's the deal? Near or farsighted?
  • A photograph
  • Details of the selection process
  • Are the glasses ironic?
And in the interest of full, ahem, transparency (does that even qualify as a pun? a bit thin), I'm happy to oblige:

A new profile picture and/or an illustration

Check! Top right. Brand spanking new. (I was getting bored with the old one anyway.)

What's the deal? Near or farsighted?

Drum roll! Farsighted (a term whose meaning was fuzzy to me until I learned that my vision was fuzzy due to it). The glasses are for reading and working on the computer, and I do quite a lot of the latter: by day, as a 9th Level Geek Lord, writing code-sonnets for the teeny bit-monkeys, or peering over coworkers shoulders saying things like "Your byte-vortex is set to autofrag? Of course you're data-dysphoric!"; by night, as a no-holds-barred blogger-reporter, hunched over my laptop-of-fury, pounding out riveting exposés on the decline of the muumuu. (As for the rear view mirror, during the first couple of days, the glasses were a novelty, and I wore them in all sorts of situations where they served no legitimate practical purpose: "I wonder what it's like to wear glasses here. I wonder what it's like to wear glasses here..."*)

A photograph


Do they pass muster? (Do they pass the mustard?)

Details of the selection process

Well shucks, I just grabbed the first pair at hand and said, "I'll take these, please. Any old thing is good by me." Okay, maybe not. (Am I really so predictable? Eesh!) Yes, the selection was carefully weighed. For reasons that are now unclear to me, I had my eye exam in a strip mall in Harahan, and afterward, I wandered through the store thinking "Gaw, there's not a single pair of glasses here I would wear," (the teeny architect-ish rectangle things that are so popular now make my already giant noggin look positively elephantoid), but my long-time four-eyed wife steered me to a vendor with a more sympathetic aesthetic where I found a suitable pair, happily achieving the subtly,-not-excessively,-retro-50s/60s-NASA-engineer-chic I was going for. (Or if you prefer, retro-50s/60s-newsroom-chic.** I've already had more than one comment about looking like I'm about to turn into Superman—which at least means I've got my Halloween costume in the bag.)

Are the glasses ironic?

I like to think not. Though retro can be ironic, I contend that it musn't necessarily be so. (In the Venn diagram, the Retro and Ironic circles would overlap, not coextend.) But maybe I'll get myself a big pair of honkin'-ugly 80s-woodshop-teacher-style specs for when I feel like busting out the retro/ironic big guns. And I'll grow a cheesy mustache to go with them.

That's all for now, but stay tuned for more exhaustively detailed minutiae of my new life with glasses here on Slim's Wild World of Eye Wear!

* Veteran four-eyes-ers all have nuanced, highly developed eyeglass rituals: put the glasses on the bedside table at night, put them on in the morning, wear them while making breakfast, set them next to the toothpaste while showering, in the shirt pocket to work, on for the rest of the morning—only taking them off only to gesture with or absentmindedly chew on—back in the shirt pocket for lunch..." I'm still working all that out.

** Or if you prefer, dork-chic. My students notice even the subtlest stylistic deviation or misstep, and they found the new look hilarious.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Do Not Walk on Dunes", Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

Friday, September 25, 2009

Four Eyes

For most of my life to date, I've had the good fortune to have well-shaped and highly functional eyeballs, but recently I found myself muttering grumpy-old-mannish things along the lines of "Godammit! Why do they have to make the print so small?" and I began to wonder if the gig was up. It has proven so, and at last I've joined the club of the four-eyes.

As a newcomer, I've got to say, it's a weird business, a crazy crash course in how the brain processes visual signals. Because thus far when I'm wearing my new glasses, it doesn't process them particularly well. The new visual stimuli are definitely sharper, but they're also oddly reconfigured and shift slightly when I move my head and just generally don't quite match up with my Internal Sense of How the World Is Shaped.

So I keep thinking the ground is way closer than it used to be and have to try to hard not to walk with a weird clippity-cloppity horsey gait, repeatedly expecting my foot to land long before it actually does (like when you walk up the stairs at night in the dark and miscount the steps and flub the last one and clunk awkwardly down on the landing).

And then there's the aesthetic strangeness. Glasses usually belong to the Class of External Things That Become Assimilated Into and Identified With the Self, but I'm not quite there yet, and in the transitional interim they belong to the Class of External Things That... Whoah! What the Hell Is That Doing on My Face? I find myself getting startled by my own reflection: "Whoah! Who the hell is that sitting in my car in my driver's seat exactly right where I'm sitting right now?" And I catch my wife and daughters shooting me quizzical sideways glances, clearly pondering their own formulations of the "Whoah! Who the hell is that...?" question.

But presumably, with time, my brain will work out the kinks in the spatial mapping, and my face will make friends with its new acquaintance, and I'll stop clippity-clopping, and I'll stop being startled by mirrors, and my family will decide that I'm not an impostor, and I'll learn to appreciate my new ability to elude fights with bullies by saying, "You wouldn't hit a man with glasses, would you?" and all will be right-as-rain.

Weird business.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Miscellaneous Photographs of Not Much: "'Good Old Fashion' Service"

Miscellaneous Photographs of Not Much

Our motto here at Slimbo's Fun Factory is "When you run out of things to post, just lower your standards," so this week we're starting an exciting new series called Miscellaneous Photographs of Not Much in which I post the dusty dregs from my Bin of Photographs That For Whatever Reason Please Me Even Though They Have No Obvious Narrative Significance and in Most Cases Can Barely Even Be Said To Be of Anything (Except in the Trivial and Obvious Sense in Which All Photographs Are of Something). And all for the low low price of absolutely nothing (which means you can't complain). Whoo!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sarah and blue house

Itchy Bitchy Spider

June was enumerating the books she can "read".* In her enumerations, she included "Itchy Bitchy Spider". For a micro-second I was startled, perhaps even outraged, for though "Itchy Bitchy Spider" might be an excellent book in its own right, it hardly seems like appropriate reading material for a five-year-old.

Then the parsing-context-clues-and-assembling-plausible-meanings part of my brain caught up with the turning-raw-sounds-into-elemental-strings-of-words part, and it occurred to me that June probably meant "Itsy Bitsy Spider", and I could throw the shocked-letter-to-the-teacher I was mentally composing into the mental trash can.

But still, it made me curious, how would that go?
"The itchy bitchy spider crawled up..."
* "Read" here is being used in the expansive sense often employed by pre-literate children, meaning "recite from memory while looking at the book and turning the pages, creating an external semblance of what is more conventionally considered to be 'actual' reading".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Head shop owner? Wood shop teacher? Former roadie for Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young? 3 p.m. barfly? Post-Transcendentalist poet? Suede aficionado? All of the above?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Genuine Conversations with Little People: Minty Fresh Edition

"Does my breath sound good?" Exhales in my face.

Inhaling, "Yes, yes it does."

Proudly, "That's because I used the new mint toothpaste."
Some mistakes are too funny to correct. And I think there's relatively little chance of June going through life confusing "sound" and "smell". (Unless this is an early indicator of one of those exotic Oliver Sacks-ian brain disorders. Hmm.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009



Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Name/deal? (I think I'm getting an eighties-coke-sniffing-New-Wave-scenester-turned-respectable-middle-aged-Scotch-sipping-curator vibe, but I'm not quite sure.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Here's hoping you had a pleasantly unlaborious Labor Day. (Cypruses? Cyprui? What is it?)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Yoo-Hoo, Muumuu, Where Are You?

This may not be factually true, but I remember the New Orleans of my youth as having been populated mainly by Catholic maw-maws in little gold cross necklaces, calf-high hose, orthopedic shoes, and of course, muumuus, the seemingly de rigeur domestic attire for any New Orleans woman of a certain age:

No one wore muumuus back in Virginia or Chicago or England or wherever I was living at the time, so I always thought of it as a New Orleans garment. Only later in life did I learn that they weren't unique to New Orleans and, in fact, originated in the far flung climes of Hawaii, but they still, to my mind, remain emblematic of a certain local type.

But I don't see muumuus as much anymore. Occasionally, yes—on some matron peering out of a front porch door—but fewer and further between.* There are, as I see it, two possible explanations:
  1. My youthful experience of the city was populated with a non-representative maw-maw-centric sample of the broader, less muumuu-fied New Orleans populace. (This is plausible. When I visited, I stayed with my grandparents, and our social circuit was composed largely of various great-aunts and elderly biddy friends.)
  2. The muumuu has in fact fallen out of favor as members of the Muumuu Generation have passed on to the Great Luau in the Sky
Or a combination of the two. Muumuu-ologists, whatchya think?

* Though the other day, I did actually see a whole rack full of the things over at the Carrolton Jewelery Shop (in case anybody was looking for one). You can get your muumuu and your rosary all in one convenient location.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

"OPEN", Adam's Catfish House

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

State of the Neighborhood: '09

Since we've just marked K + 4, it seems like a good time to conduct our not-particularly-annual State of the Neighborhood assessment.

I've claimed in the past that our block serves as a a reasonably representative microcosm of the city as a whole, and that still seems about right: neither the best nor the worst, not high-and-dry but not decimated. (Our block also serves as a reasonably representative demographic sample: from middle-class to working-class to poor; black and white—with a cluster of Latino migrant workers around the corner; resident-owned, rental, and a bit of business.) And our block's recovery has roughly kept pace with the city as a whole. New Orleans has regained an estimated three fourths of its pre-K population, and of the eleven buildings on our block, eight are now occupied. Of the remaining three, one (the apartment house across the street) has recently been renovated and will probably have occupants soon, one (the house next door to us) has been gutted and roofed but nothing else, and one (the weird former non-profit office further down on our side) is completely untouched, a nasty moldering mess.

And if we charted the re-occupation of our block, it would form a bell-ish curve: no residents in late '05; the first early returnees in '06; the largest influx in '07 (including us); less in '08; and now in '09 we're on the tapering tail—recovery isn't at a complete standstill, as demonstrated by the recently revived apartments, but it comes in unpredictable drips and dribbles. And it's reasonable to wonder if the still-empty buildings will ever find occupants or if they will become permanent additions to the epidemic of blight that already afflicted our city before the storm.

So the wounds aren't all healed; many of Katrina's unfortunate changes endure. But as we transition from The Post-Storm Period into an Ongoing Future, these changes assimilate into the city's new status quo, a new set of slowly fading scars in a cityscape already criss-crossed by layers of fading scars left by dozens of previous generations worth of decline and rejuvenation.