Monday, November 07, 2005

Sundogs

Who uses it: Astronomers and meteorologists. Also, Robert DeNiro in The Deer Hunter.
What it means: A pair of "false suns" on opposite sides of the real sun, caused by the refraction of the sun's rays through ice crystals. Sundogs almost always appear in pairs, because of the phenomenon that causes them, and they appear most often in winter, when the sun is low in the sky. The scientific name for sundogs is parhelia.
How you can use it: When you see wonders in the sky.

The sun's actually out today, but I didn't see sundogs this morning. I lived in Los Angeles long enough to get used to the idea that if the sun was shining, it would be warm. I've been here a year now, but it's a mistake I still make sometimes.

The song in my head this morning: Elvis Costello, "Every Day I Write the Book." It has my all-time favorite song lyric that makes no sense at all once you actually think about it: "Even in a perfect world, where everyone was equal/I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel." Would anyone like to explicate that? Feel free to leave your comments below.

I hit the road again at the end of this week, for ten days. Before I go, I need to finish a few projects, clean my apartment, and do something about the pile of books teetering next to my kitchen door. If I am honest with myself, I know I will never read half of these books -- none of the ones that feature ghosts or friendly witches as detectives, none of the ones in which animals solve the crime, and probably none of the ones set in small towns similar to my own. (I have these books because their publisher sent them to me for free, which makes me feel obligated at least to skim them.)

That feels prejudiced and judgmental, and I'm uncomfortable about that, but how can I read all of those books and still finish the 550-page spiritual biography of Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Day that's been calling my name for a month? I'm reading as fast as I can, as it is...

I read once that Thomas Jefferson was the last person on the planet who had probably read everything that was available to be read, in every language he could read.

5 comments:

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

I think that Elvis is bascially saying that if Candide's vision of the world were true, mixed with an eqalitarianism, yet the notion of following up blockbusters with lesser products prevailed (what is the common theme here: Toy Story 2, Shanghai Knights, A Shot in the Dark).....okay, I confess: I can't explain this line either.

For great unlimnables, how about this: "The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face/Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place."

Anonymous said...

Literalism is the way to go here. Not so much Occam's Razor as Crnobog's mallet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czernobog; by way of _American Gods_).

The line means what is scans: She is a better person than Elvis, so after the breakup, she gets to tell the story and proceed to develop a new (if not exactly better) story. While it's true that Elvis is writing the book, everyday, his is a loser's history; her's is a victor's tale with more to come.

--Ed

P.S. The 'Canes sheeeee-llacking of the Hokies put a lot of things in perspective.

AnswerGirl said...

No, I think that _Elvis_ owns the film rights and is working on the sequel -- so maybe what he's saying is that he can make it turn out the way he wants it to in the movies, while in real life he can only give her longing looks. And really, isn't that what movies are for?

Anonymous said...

But Elvis doesn't own the film rights; he says as much right in the lyric. He also says he wants to be working on the sequel, but he can't because is still writing the book, everyday. I mean, don't tell me you don't know the difference ...
-- Ed

Sing said...

My first to this.
I like it.