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bristolstreet  ·  1559 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A Cell Therapy Untested in Humans Saves a Baby With Cancer

Better target specificity in the best case scenario, maybe, but given the improvements in simplicity I would've thought CRISPR/Cas9 (or, now, CRISPR/Cpf1) still has the bigger fanbase. The length of the recognition sequence creates insignificant nonspecificity, something on the order of 10^-7 chance of repeat events in the human genome, if my professor did the calculations right. They did get that Zuckerberg rockstar award too...

bristolstreet  ·  1803 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What was the last word you recall learning?

Acosmism: a world-denying belief system; "God" or the equivalent is the only reality and everything else is an illusion. Now I use it way too often and often allegorically (read: wrongly)

Not quite anger, not quite a song, but if you're a fan of spoken word... or really, even if you're not:

Here's a close-to-anger Dylan. The subject certainly makes me angry.

bristolstreet  ·  1895 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: December Photo Challenge, Day 9: "Quiet"

I'm kind of using this challenge as an excuse to sift through old photographs backed up in my camera folder rather than to take new ones. I don't know if that's in the right spirit or not, but here's one of my favorite kinds of quiet:

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Confessions of a Mortician

A great characterization of the industry and of the faces behind it. Modern society is oddly sequestered from the reality of death. The thought of death in the concrete sense only strikes most of us unbidden in sharp, unsettling reminders. The author of the article doesn't seem to assert a strong position on whether we ought to become more familiarly acquainted with death; he describes Caleb's serenity, but also the horror of the job:

    Some things we see will remain with us forever, Caleb admits on his blog. They are so disturbing, so terrible, that we do the world a favor by not sharing them. Maybe there was no winning the staring contest with death.

Here's a poem by Philip Larkin that describes that moment of knowing death whole:


  Closed like confessionals, they thread
  Loud noons of cities, giving back
  None of the glances they absorb.
  Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque,
  They come to rest at any kerb:
  All streets in time are visited.

  Then children strewn on steps or road,
  Or women coming from the shops
  Past smells of different dinners, see
  A wild white face that overtops
  Red stretcher-blankets momently
  As it is carried in and stowed,

  And sense the solving emptiness
  That lies just under all we do,
  And for a second get it whole,
  So permanent and blank and true.
  The fastened doors recede. Poor soul,
  They whisper at their own distress;

  For borne away in deadened air
  May go the sudden shut of loss
  Round something nearly at an end,
  And what cohered in it across
  The years, the unique random blend
  Of families and fashions, there

  At last begin to loosen. Far
  From the exchange of love to lie
  Unreachable inside a room
  The traffic parts to let go by
  Brings closer what is left to come,
  And dulls to distance all we are.
bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: December Photo Challenge, Day 8: "Framed"

This is an old photo, but it's the weirdest/busiest/best collection of prints and murals I've ever seen in a coffee shop. Lots of different kinds of frames too.

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Essential Tremor by Elizabeth Metzger

Ooh, that's interesting. I didn't think about le petit mort. That would jive with the use of "fuck." Incidentally, the first time I was told about le petit mort I was in tenth grade and I think we were reading Macbeth. I don't remember where it fit in exactly, but I do remember my (female) teacher telling us that the reason it's called that is because when you orgasm, your heart beats incredibly slowly, you become lightheaded, and time seems to almost stop--you really do feel close to death. There began my unreasonable expectations for sex.

I like the lover interpretation as well. And I definitely thought about psychiatrist when I read psychic. Your interpretation is more the poet's end--lived experience--while mine is the grandiose bumfuckery of either a wide-eyed reader or a poet who's got a big head. In the tradition of the American classroom, I say each one is the best way to interpret it.

I remember reading this article! I was also pleasantly surprised.

    19. Someday, when all your material possessions will seem to have shed their utility and just become obstacles to the toilet, poems will still hold their value. They are rooms that take up such little room. A memorized poem, or a line or two, becomes part internal jewelry and part life-saving skill, like knowing how to put a mugger in an arm-lock or the best way to cut open a mango without slicing your hand.

I love this part. Maybe because it flatters my sensibilities, I don't know.

    20. Reading a good poem doesn’t give you something to talk about. It silences you. Reading a great poem pushes further. It prepares you for the silence that perplexes us all: death.

That final sentence is a bit hammy when written that way, but there is a grain of truth there I think. Poetry is so often about death; maybe because death is the antithesis to kitsch. There, now I'm hammy, too.

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Essential Tremor by Elizabeth Metzger  ·  

    With the first couplet, the lines are just a little beyond my grasp. I find I am spending too much time trying to make sense of them.

I actually have a similar feeling, but with regard to the second couplet you posted. I am unsure what "now dumbed down" refers to: everything, or the ego? If it's the ego, then why is it in juxtaposition to the ego being the only thing not blushing? I suppose I read the first line, and I think: "Of course, the ego loves itself--it never would blush." But then the second line comes, and the ego--if it refers to the ego--is impotent, dumbed down for sleep.

That said, though, the general impression I get from that couplet in context is this: the speaker is looking inward and finding things to be sardonic about. (That's what I get from the quotes around sleep.) The speaker tells us the psychic says all that negative, broken heart rolling three blank dice shittiness "says a lot"--presumably about the speaker's future. There's outward eyes evaluating, and now the speaker's inward eyes don't see much to sing praises about either. It's a far cry from Whitman's body having sex with his soul in a sunlit meadow. (And the way the psychic line is presented--it's laughing at the psychic, too, who is supposed to be a peddler of predictions but can only give a reading that means nothing.)

Regarding the first couplet you posted, I do think the "death is something you can fuck up" may refer to suicide, but in keeping with the heaven/hell conceit, I think it might also have to do with St. Peter's Judgment at the pearly gates. Birth and death are the most profound human experiences. Death: the end of all. But wait: after you die, what, your immortal soul goes to be scrutinized and evaluated? This is in keeping with what I perceive to be the essential anticlimacticity (that's not a word) of the poem.

Although, if I try to perceive a causal link between fuck up/ the broken heart, my analysis falls apart a little bit. I can say what the "three blank dice" calls up for me: it's the only impossible result that is worse than the worst possible outcome, as I said below, and I think it also has to do with the murkiness of the future. The first interpretation would fit in with the absolute desolation of the subversion of death's profundity, while the second is supported my the following line about the psychic. Other than that--does it imply that the first line is a necessary condition for the second line? Or is "where death is something you can fuck up" just synonymous with world, here?

The couplet that seems more out of place for me is

    A crowd of phenom-hermits
    expects a planet to arrive.

I think this one is important, too, but I don't know if I'm getting enough from it. The analysis I like the most is that it just subverts the target of mocking--or bemoaning? Anyway, all that's before-- hell, a tulip, death, the future, the self--is painted to be flawed and short of expectations. Then this couplet arrives, and the speaker is pointing out how silly it is that these apparently professional outcasts are waiting for a whole planet to arrive to them. I don't know whether the "planet" is supposed to be heaven, or if the "phenom-hermits" are the religious; that doesn't quite fit. But regardless, the essence is there: we who expect the impossible are ridiculous.

The poem ends on what I see as a comparatively sweet note. The angel has a harelip--so what? Isn't confronting a face with imperfections better than a face that's perfectly radiant? Then, "and she is willing to watch you shake"; that could mean a number of things, but watching implies a sort of comfort even while shaking implies fear. That's enough for the speaker: everything more profound has turned out to be false or unattainable, anyway.

I'm going to post this mind-dump without editing, so if you've read all of it, I'm sorry for the way it reads. I hope I explained my thoughts well enough. Justifiably or not, I certainly found associations between the images, but I can see how one would not. Someone once told me that a poem only exists in an instant in the mind of the reader and disappears: it can never exist in the same way again. So I suppose that for some reason, this poem is a revelation in my mind--and it makes perfect sense that anyone else's reading is dissimilar.

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Who are your favorite lyricists and songwriters alive today?

Haha. Somewhere, some bearded guy thinks he's hot stuff for getting checked out at the supermarket.

Yes! I remember exactly where I was when I first heard that song. It's so simple and beautiful.

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: December photo challenge, Day 7: "Home"

this is not actually home, but it's somewhere I only go with family: close enough.

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Who Likes "the Blues?" Does the Blues suck? ---- I'm talking to you Hubski

That makes sense! I guess I don't really listen to modern "pure blues," either. Those tracks I listed are bluesy tracks from groups that do other stuff as well.

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Who are your favorite lyricists and songwriters alive today?

James Mercer of The Shins and Broken Bells writes the most goddamn lovely lyrics I've ever heard:

  Of all the churning random hearts under the sun
  eventually fading into night, 
  these two are opening now,
  as we lie I touch you, wonderful alive.
I am also partial to Will Sheff of Okkervil River's incredibly emotive lyrics:

  Lover, now that you've left me, I'm glad you're unlovely. 
  Because if you could take all the heat in your heart and just hang it from you,
  I wouldn't be able to bear the way you cannot love me. 
  It's much easier of me make a monster out of you. 

  And so here I go, substituting the glow from your temples,
  all our sighs and our trembles, and each last letter sent you 
  from the cheap little pen of this weak little man
  - the one singing - out his jangling, ringing 
  and hopefully stinging attack upon you. 
..and speaking of emotive, Jeff Magnum:

  Little boy born without a mother or a father 
  Taken to the river and then pushed into the water 
  And the priests are singing that the hell was getting hotter 
  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the only one to save him 
  From the thing he loves the most but we know will betray him 
  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the only one to save him 
  From the thing he loves the most but we know will betray him 

  And here beneath the water I can see 
  How the light distorts so strange 
  And this is how I would like to leave my body 
  And start again
bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Who Likes "the Blues?" Does the Blues suck? ---- I'm talking to you Hubski

I've been to the Portland Blues festival three times, and it was before drinking age, so I know I didn't have booze-ears. (Maybe some secondhand-ganja-ears.) I think the blues are meant to be listened to live, because there's a lot of improvisation that goes on. Like folk music, new artists draw from the canon and often do covers, but unlike a lot of folk music, there's often layering of emotive guitar/harmonica/sax solos on top of the canonized groove. That groove comes as a function of the repetitive chorus.

It's a shame that you're not asking for 60s or 70s blues, because that's basically all the blues I listen to! I'll not link Stevie Ray Vaughan, because you probably know his

Some more traditional Mississippi blues:

Some more modern blues:

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Today's Writing Prompt: What Can a Broken Heart Do?

I think it's cool that you went with the "fortune-telling" aspect of rolling dice. It makes me think of tarot cards--isn't there dice involved in a reading?

bristolstreet  ·  1896 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Today's Writing Prompt: What Can a Broken Heart Do?

  The first heart jumped-- beat down
  against your settled gut, replete
  with a little lovelorn lateyear ambition.

  I'm not saying it became yours then:
  but the familiar knew a new death,
  and in that instant each cell
  flowed with new acrobatics.

  You left me with the second heart
  careless in its skips and turns and, worse,
  stitched hollow with your absence.

  I became the artist of my own desolation,
  flung it angry from my ravaged chest, let it
  splatter reckless on the empty canvas,
  our precious past made spectacle.

  This third one's my own. Homegrown,  
  every cry and moan echoed
   in the ebb and return. 

  Darling, let's not speak of love: 
  leave it to charm.
A little cliché. I had trouble anthropomorphizing a heart so I empowered the "I" instead. I should learn to be more comfortable with that, though, so I don't fall into the first person trap all of the time.
bristolstreet  ·  1897 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Essential Tremor by Elizabeth Metzger

I suppose I'm assuming that anyone new to this post might read my comments at the top before reading the poem, but will probably not read the comments in the thread.