What I Learned from The Dumb Book

Lydia’s been requesting fairy tales for her bedtime stories for quite some time now. One that we read tonight was called “The Dumb Book,” written by Hans Christian Andersen.

Andersen’s language has been much more dreamlike than the Grimms’, even when his subject matter is more down to earth, which is certainly the case here. “The Dumb Book” is really just about the death of a man that no one knew particularly well. The man had asked to be buried with his scrapbook of botanical samples. Each leaf or flower reminded him of an event or person from his life. Thumbing through it he would be overcome with emotion. But the reasons, the memories, were buried with him and the book. That’s all there is to it, just this snapshot of a lonely old man.

I tried to help Lydia understand the title and the story a little better. It’s pretty far off the mark of what she must have in mind when she asks for another fairy tale. “‘Dumb’ means ‘silent’ here,” I said, “it’s talking about how the book can’t really tell its story anymore now that the man is dead. He’s the only one who understood it.”

Of course from there my mind segued straight to this blog.

Why do I do this? (Or not so much these days, evidently?)

What a strange feeling it is–and we have doubtless all experienced it–that of turning over old letters of the days of our youth! a whole life seems to come up with them, with all its hopes and sorrows.

I recently imported all my old entries from LiveJournal over here–half to establish a backup, half out of curiosity to see if it really would be as easy as the import tool suggested. Going through them all, I was once again reminded how valuable it is to connect with my past thoughts, and of how seldom I post anymore.

Now I’m thinking of Riley and photographs. The boy will do anything to avoid posing cooperatively for a photo. But he loves looking at old photos of himself, and maybe eventually that’ll be our way in: I point out that each of those photos only exists because I did take his picture at that moment, so could he please just not make a face for two seconds. (The jury’s still out.)

My posting waned when I started getting burned out at work, sick of arranging words at a computer. It ebbed even more when I became a dad. But now it’s time to make it more habitual.

Nibiru demo

This is a test recording of a song that I wrote last year. The Nibiru Collision is a doomsday scenario in which an extrasolar planet crashes into the Earth. Nibiru is such a pretty name for the planet that it got me thinking, somebody must have been looking forward to it. So the song is kind of about star-crossed lovers, hoping against hope in the face of cataclysmic change.

Ctrl-X portrait

I love how Ctrl-X grew from a quick pun name to become one of my favorite characters. But be warned, in spite of his dramatic origin story, he still inspires plenty of dorky robot humor.

Ctrl-X advancing with claws extended.

Ctrl-X portrait by cobie.

Deuço portrait

Deuço is one of my favorite heroes. He’s a kineticist—a wizard specializing in the interactions between movement and energy (both positive and negative). His spell invocations are generally somatic, like graceful and precise dances.

Deuço in motion, swirling magical energy with his hands.

Portrait by Liz @ Imaginator Central.

TMBG Ringtones

These are short clips of They Might Be Giants songs, designed for use as custom ringtones.

My Man - instrumental mix, 25 seconds. The keyboard part lends itself so well, with its theme of transmission.

Older - intro clip, 16 seconds. The rauschpfife and saroussophone are instantly recognizable through the din of other people’s phones.

Wicked Little Critta - mostly instrumental mix, 32 seconds. For those who like their phone to make only the minimum amount of noise necessary, this one starts as a quiet warning, gets a bit louder… and then self-destructs at about 18 seconds.

Critic Intro - four instrumental snips: tumblemedium sneakshort sneak, and the wonderfully dramatic pounce.

Futurama Johns

The Johns as they might look in a Futurama cameo.

The Johns as they might look in a Futurama cameo.

Haiku Guestbook migration

So upon closer inspection, there are quite a few things my old hand-coded site could do that WordPress won’t let me. It’s probably for security reasons, but when I try to put any JavaScript in here, WordPress cuts it out before saving. We’ll see if there’s a simple workaround.

In the meanwhile, my haiku guestbook is still up in its old location, outside of WordPress. I can stay there while I figure out how to integrate it better.

New BryceLand

I started stashing my stuff here a really long time ago. Back then I spent a lot more time at the computer, and my job involved web programming, so a totally homegrown website made good enough sense for me. Besides, back then we didn’t have the arsenal of plug and play blogging platforms that are available today. (“We coded our pages by hand without syntax highlighting in the snow both ways, and we liked it!”)

But I’ve finally realized that I don’t really need to personally build the car in order to drive it. In fact, time has shown me that in my new life, building the car leaves me with almost no time to actually go anywhere. Thus it’s time for BryceLand: Extreme Makeover Edition.

Along with this redesign, I’m reconsidering what BryceLand is about. It will remain a repository for my random projects—I’m keeping the most popular old stuff, and the things I’m most sentimental about—but it does have the potential to be more.

Back when I used to have more to say and more time to say it in, my voice on the internet was my LiveJournal. My account over there is permanent, and I can’t quite bring myself to migrate away just yet. I also started a Tumblr account at some point, but I use it mainly to follow other people.

Anyway, who says I have to decide right now what the new BryceLand will become? I’ll watch it unfold a bit first.

Piano recital

Yesterday I hosted a casual little piano recital for just my students. I wanted to give them something to work toward, and the chance to hear each other, and have a little photo op for their parents.

They all worked so hard, I couldn’t be prouder. My favorite part was that when it was over, they all went up to the piano to play some more. The whole thing was exactly what I was shooting for: They all enjoyed it. Maybe even almost as much as I did. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

I’m up to ten students now, if you count Lydia, whom I teach only occasionally since she’s still so young. I would take more, but it’d get harder to juggle the lessons with my own kids’ after-school stuff. But the time flies by, I really enjoy it so far.

Homesick Heart

I’m trying to get some scratch demos recorded that are decent enough to share with friends. Trial and error have now proven that the best microphone I own is in my cell phone. I should buy a better one for this purpose—maybe with birthday money or something. My singing voice is at least as big an obstacle though.

Anyway here’s one attempt. I wrote the bulk of these lyrics back in November, and paired them with the bluesy chord progression just a few weeks ago.

Feedback welcome. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but you can at least hear the gist.