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 this website, especially the older, more scrapbookish parts of it. Why do I do this thing? (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.)

Update: Revisiting this post months later, I figured I’d just add to it. I’ve been churning up big changes on the whole site, while preparing to ramp up my web development career. Part of it is finding the right way to organize and separate the personal from the professional. But I’m finally able to justify spending some time and energy on it. I’m excited.

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.

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.