Measured Extravagance

2000-12-23 - 5:42 p.m.

A couple of nights ago, I posted a rant about chain e-mails and other such cybercrap and why they make me crazy(er). An old pal responded to this by sending me his favorite site for "current and archival net folklore": A quick scroll-through brought me to's Urban Legend Combat Kit, which is worth a definite calloo and callay.

Said pal happens to work closely with one Larry O. Grand . If you're blogging around for intelligent trippiness, you might also peek into Mistress Sinister's boudoir (tell her the sushi's from Sempronia). Terry Estep's Random Notes are less exuberant but intriguing and articulate and sometimes amusingly snarky -- I couldn't help laughing out loud when I stumbled upon this quote-of-the-day from Sam Austin: "Homosexuality is God's way of ensuring that the truly gifted aren't burdened with children." Sing it, brother! (*)

Then there's Mistress Sinister's sidekick, The Burbler, who appears to reside in a booklined igloo and who truly disconcerted me with hir contempt for winter blahs - not because I didn't agree, but because it mirrored what I'd been hearing from the Beautiful Young Man since Thanksgiving, and the BYM definitely thumps a different drum than most of the band on the whole package of solstice-timed holidays. I knew that it wasn't the BYM in disguise for two reasons - he dislikes aliases and has never used one in all his years of conferencing and Uselessnet and discussion lists (**), and he's Anglo-Canadian, whereas The Burbler's roots are Bavarian and Norwegian. I mustn't leave out my friend Evilena who might as well have pasted "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate" into the subject line of that fateful e-note in which she mentioned her nifty new journal...

Enough on friends and other fair travelers. What about the flamers and ferocious twits crowding into your lane of the information superhighway? If you (or someone you know, or someone who is just annoying the hell out of you on a newsgroup) is taking a discussion group far too seriously than it should be, check out the compendium of Usenet Plagues. (I will confess here that I myself tend to display symptoms of Advanced Beagle Syndrome, an association that pains me since most of the beagle-dogs I've met in real life have been really annoying whiny sofa-chewers - one would so much rather be regarded as an occasionally irritating quiet shoe-napper...)

Why this...random proselytizing, as it were, you may ask? Because I loathe waste and thoughtlessness and stupidity. Because I relish wit and introspection and celebrations of frabjous things, and feel all of these are undervalued more than not, wherefore the need for witnesses like myself - often distracted and sometimes even reluctant, we are, because time spent as a reviewer and an observer often equals time one might have spent creating, but didn't. (There was a poem I could have been honing in the past half-hour...) There is so little time, no matter how much time we think we may have, and that is why having my time involuntarily wasted - even by people with noble intentions - turns me into a seething maniac. By the same token, however, I am more than willing to dally where the Muse of Measured Extravagance (***) takes me, and sometimes that does involve following the bread-crumb and gumdrop trail of hyperlinks or fortune cookie slips, or the skips of a falling walnut or the hops of a stray bunny, or sometimes just lying still on the sofa and remembering as precisely as one possibly can the way a splash of cream swims through a mug of coffee.


(*) That said, I can't resist sharing an opposite joke from a Unitarian Universalist joke generator:

Q: "What is a Unitarian Universalist?"
A: "An atheist with children."

(**) A major difference between the BYM and me, to be sure, but entirely consistent with our individual personalities. He's an engineer to the marrow, honest to a fault, bred as a skeptic and intolerant of manufactured sentiment. I'm a bluestocking who adores Broadway musicals, used to serve communion to her dolls, and still talks to imaginary friends as well as the corporeal ones. This is not in fact a source of conflict - we find each other both amusing and reliable. That, and phermones... but that's yet another topic for another entry.

(***) A review of Ian McKellen as Salieri in Amadeus back in 1980 - I think it was in Time - praised the "measured extravagance" of his performance. I wish I could remember who devised that term, because it so perfectly describes what I look for both on stage and on the page...controlled transcendence, wild meter, saucy discipline - the list goes on. It's the difference between a roller-coaster ride and plunging to one's death; it's the space between a gourmet meal and a goopy mess; the dazzling capacity for evaluation that distinguishes diamonds from lumps of rock. One could indulge in mental gymnastics to prove gems and gravel to be each other's equivalent - but would it be really worth it? In the end, one longs to be dazzled. One yearns to be transformed. And if, and when it happens, one does not want it always to be mere accident. Not this one, at least.

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