shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


You just have to love this headline:

Heather Graham Plays Porn Star, Again
I hate it when I get all the way through an entry and it goes Poof!

Oh well. Now, for the much less witty version.

Yesterday was a rough day, though a successful one, at work. (We kicked off our s-word campaign with lots of reporters around.) Too exhausted, but we decided to go out to dinner to the nice Italian place downtown we'd never been to but had heard lots about. The food was very good, if very expensive, and the atmosphere was lovely. (Eggrolls with spicy meats in them, nice scallops with artichoke fritters, yum.) And then, at the end of the meal, something happened to make it just perfect. Christopher had written a note to send back to the kitchen and calls over this guy who's casing the joint in a way that suggests he works there. It turns out he's the entertainment, oops. The guy's like Conan O'Brien meets Dracula and is there to do sleight of hand. Christopher divulges the fact that I'm a magic buff, if too inept to do it myself. Thus began the weird dance that always happens when tableside magicians find out I may know how their tricks are done. They take it as a challenge, to do the tricks without me seeing them pull them off while knowing what to look for. What they don't realize is this: I may know how the tricks are done, but while I'm watching I forget completely. It's a better show that way, a better story with the disbelief hanging in the air so I suspend.

Conan's little brother who was bitten by a vampire was pretty good, and his hands were faster than my eyes. We got a three of clubs with our names written on it in marker and a nice bit of magic.

Penn and Teller have a new show, btw, which I haven't even seen yet though I guess I'll stay up and watch tonight's episode. Teller said the most interesting thing on this show about dangerous magic I watched the other night (which was not that great, and focused almost exclusively on the magic bullet). He said that it would be unethical for any magician to ever perform a trick that put him in real danger. (Unfortunately, the "he" here isn't an old-fashioned grammatical tick; there still aren't that many female magicians.) Think about it; he's right, of course.

And speaking of questionable ethics, Hank Steuver has a wonderful piece on ye old hot tubs on reality shows and in real life that is a must read. It's inspired by, if not confined to, Joe Millionaire.

Poet wars are better.

There's all sorts of Glove Monster mayhem about to happen on the television machine. Maybe I should write an essay about it and send it to the Texas Mercury... Hmmm.

Had a nice chat with Gavin via Graham Bell's contraption last night, and it seems I have my first question for the advice column and it's a good one. This means you won't be the first person to send a question anymore, so what's stopping you? C'mon, send in a question, you wuss.

Sometimes berating works. I berate because I love.

I am so glad it's the weekend. All sorts of prayers for me not to come down with Strep throat even though my tonsils are scratchy and to get boxes somewhat empty and office set up to workable again and George the Dog home, home, home like Dorothy.

Have a good day.


Okay, the fact that Lisa Marie Presley's forthcoming album is an all-Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard-promotionfest makes me think that maybe she and MJ Glove Monster really were made for each other... And that Nic Cage has a lot of explaining to do about everything for the last oh, six years or so, except Adaptation. I'm going to go out on a limb and say no hit singles off this record, which I'd be comfortable with even if it weren't an all-Scientology record. If I'm wrong, I will find a scripture in Revelation that corresponds and announce that the world will end very, very soon.

(BTW, you can now view all Salon's content without subscribing if you're willing to click through a multiple-screen ad.)

And, in unrelated good news, those of us that have access to BBCAmerica and became addicted to "The Office" can now watch it at 10:20 on Thursday nights. Those of you who have BBCAmerica but don't know what I'm talking about should Watch. This. Show.

"Alf does cocaine."

"Cocaine doesn't even effect aliens."

"Alf's really a puppet, not an alien."

"Alf's as real a construct as Carrot Top."

"So, Carrot Top is now the standard for reality?"

"I hate Carrot Top."

"Everybody hates Carrot Top, even aliens."


I highly recommend watching all future State of the Union addresses on Telemundo. Especially if your Spanish is as rusty as mine. Much more entertaining.

Vive la platitudes!


This is where we separate the women from the men.

That actually doesn't mean anything, or if it does, it's open to interpretation and I'll let you have your own. I can report with certainty though, the kind of certainty that only large heavy boxes stacked so thick you can't see the far walls of the rooms can provide, that we have moved. The Earth has quaked, the tides have ebbed and crashed, the polar bear has frolicked with the wildebeest, people tossed a football around while lots of people watched, some girl somewhere bought patchouli and made a sign protesting war with Iraq, some girl somewhere bought markers and signboard and made a sign protesting patchouli girls, the world kept on turn, turn, turning, Michael Jackson took a deep breath and WE MOVED. We moved.

We live in boxland, but we moved. We required the help of our good friends and saints Melendra and Joe Sutliff Sanders, who didn't even grumble when they showed up and we weren't close to done packing up our beloved possessions and other junk. We made good use of the lanky uber-youths that my mother brought from the country to bring the muscle. And we moved.

Soon, George will come back to live with us, as soon as Box-Land has diminished and gone into the West and become a place with Four Visible Walls in Every Room That Has Four Visible Walls. Or about a week. And I will go to movies and catch up on workshop (two reviews already and it's so nice reading what everyone has been working on while I've been Paint Girl) and write again and things will be like life.

Happy sigh.

Thoughts of boxes.

Trepidacious sigh.

But the worst is over.

Did I mention we had to go out yesterday and look in consignment stores and get a new bed? Yes, the old bed didn't survive the move and we have a nice one now that's hardly visible beneath the mountain of extra soft bedding I bought as a treat after the horrendous Saturday move of doom. But all is well. Except for the horrendous bruise on the bottom of my foot where I stepped on the old bed frame last night. But, still, all is much better.

Now we just have to figure out how to set up the new DSL service, if such a thing is possible with our new provider and our configuration of technological equipment. Richard, be on stand-by; we'll probably have to call for advice. (Uh, wait a minute, aren't I the advice columnist here?) Technical consulation, I mean.

I'm reading The Fellowship of the Ring, finally, and I'm pretty sure I only remember reading some bits of it when I was a kid. I figured I should at least make a shot at reading the whole thing, now that I'm all growed up and the aforementioned J. Sutliff Sanders is teaching a class on it (which Peter Beagle is making an appearance at, natch) and got me excited about reading it even if I'm not in the class. I could really do without the Tom Bombadil singing Lady Snaggleberry stuff though. At least, I could until Christopher pointed out that it works way better if you read Tom B. as a rapper and did a rendition of "I'm Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo" which you will just have to improvise in your heads. There was much laughter.

The only bad thing about our new place so far is that the ice scraping truck came at oh, 2:30 a.m. to scrape very loudly and with painstaking precision the parking lot of the post office for what seemed like fucking eternity. I could have done without that, but I'm hoping he only does it when there's snow.

There's an awesome review of the Ideomancer Unbound anthology, which you should all go buy because Christopher Rowe has a story in it the reviewer describes as a "brief, beautiful American myth." Kristin, it even has a dragon. (To see the review you have to scroll down the list of publication until you hit Ideomancer Unbound; I couldn't get the direct link to work.)

And speaking of good reviews and (lately) Joe S.S., he and I are mentioned in the same sentence in this review of The Journal of Pulse-Pounding Narratives. He gets a "nicely written" complement and I get to be "ultracool," or at least my story does.

(promotional digressions aside)

Christopher sent me this photo, which is pretty damn funny and has probably been in all your inboxes months ago but you never know till you look, right?

I still love Janeane Garofalo, as much for her anti-war efforts as anything, even though I do think celebrities have to prove they know what the hell they're talking about when they climb out on these limbs. And. They. Should. Even though hair and lighting and politics actually have a lot to do with one another.

So, China doesn't want to take credit for America. Figures.

I kid. Off to enjoy my yummy sushi lunch and oh, if you get time, can you stop by and unpack some boxes? Thanks.


Bugs breathe. I have to admit, I'd never really given it much thought or doubted it.

Stephen Hunter has great affection for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. But I really do believe Clooney directed. Why it looks like a Soderbergh movie isn't hard to figure out. They run a production company together. And surely Clooney asked for advice, and picked things up on the Soderbergh movies he's been in. Anyway...

I bet it's still not as interesting as this story, which I like to call "the other interesting bird-related science story of the week."

Zombie girl signing off...
Thank you to Mr. McLaren for reminding me to post this.

"Bible college gets wrong number: APPALACHIAN SCHOOL ASKS PHONE COMPANY TO CHANGE 666. Actual quote from story: "No one wants to be part of the mark of the beast."

We're moving tomorrow; it's time to pack now. We didn't finish all the painting, but we've admitted defeat.


You just know it's one of those days when you go to open blogger and your brain sings "to blog is to fly" to the tune of Townes Van Zandt. Oh my, indeed.

Left the new place at 2 a.m. last night. Lack only painting the walls in the kitchen (oh, and the ceiling) and all the trim work, which is a lot. The good news is the snow cancelled the obligation I had tomorrow which involved driving and talking to way too many people (almost 200) with very very little preparation.

My salary and job title ran in long list of others under the same general classification in a big state newspaper last weekend and, let me tell you, if you think people don't read the newspaper you're wrong. They do. And they will ask you about it. Everyone you talk to. All week long. And you will make a joke about being one of the lowest paid political appointees, and know you didn't get your job for any other reason than that you knew how to do it well. See, I'm boring even myself.

Bleh. Sleep for me. Sleep so I can absorb your sleep vibes. Sleep so I can suck out your dreams. Okay, that was a little disgusting and scary. Just sleep well, so I know people still can and do. Boxes, paintbrushes. I kill spiders with my Paintbrush of Death!


You may be thinking, surely they're done painting by now; but you'd be wrong. But if you're thinking, wow, I bet they're completely exhausted, then you win nothing except the satisfaction of being absolutely right. I know the punctuation is weird and incorrect, but I'm too beat to deal with it right now. And still time rolls on...

Will we finish in time? Yes, even if it kills us and George must live in the apartment alone. (He's already going to have to get a job to pay for the extra $20 a month he's costing us.)

It won't be easy. Things may never be the same. But we will move.

And I'm sure we'll be glad when we're done. I mean, glad that we invested all this time and stupefying effort. Because the walls do look better and the place is beginning to feel human and livable, since we started using wall paint instead of primer. The sins of the past are mostly being covered over, if not erased.

That's all except for:

Hank Steuver grapples with the war protests without coming to terms with them (I can relate);

I'd read Michael Dirda's magazine; and

Susan Marie has had some lovely entries lately so go read them. (Philosophy is so weird, particularly modern philosophy, which seems to be hell-bent on saying that the classics of philosophy weren't even. So much of it seems to feed inward with no flow back out. Maybe an entry soon on this or maybe not. Maybe I will reserve this topic for arguments with philosophy professors at Joe and Melendra Sutliff Sanders' annual Batman's birthday parties.)

Are you reading Jincy Willett yet? Or have you? I haven't hit a wringer yet and I'm finished with over half the stories. Fabulous. Wonderful. And yet, she's a mystery. All the web hits for her I've found are for the reissue of the book except one lone quote associated with a writing exercise at some college: "You know more than you think you do." Perhaps. But I don't know how someone who writes so well can be such a ghost. It makes the whole thing even better somehow, though, doesn't it?


Painting never stops. Painting lasts forever. Painting is tricksy.


Lots of work yesterday. Head foggy and muscles tired. More today. But, it's nice. Nice making progress and wondering how in the hell you will ever get all this done in time to actually pack up your things and move.

Anyway, due to the impossibility of work stoppage we will not be convening with the local independent (as in, not financed by anybody) arts collective, which is too bad. Next time. I'm sure it would have made for an entertaining entry.

Unlike this one.

Two excellent developments though.

The Oxford American is back, and better than ever. Buy it for the interesting tidbit sidebars, buy it for the article by a Gainesville professor on teaching Emily Dickinson to college kids there; just buy it. It needs your support and it's a better magazine than it was when it went on hiatus. Did I mention there's a Charles Simic poem?

It terrifies me that a short story writer as good as Jincy Willett could release a collection as good as Jenny and the Jaws of Life and have it go poof. Until now. Here's a review from Esquire that sums up why you should immediately go out and purchase the spiffy Trade rerelease of this book, complete with gushing introduction by none other than David Sedaris, who also sums it up when he calls her work "hilariously funny and perfectly sad." I haven't been hit this hard by someone's sheer ability to write great stories in a long time. I'm not kidding. These are not stories you've read before, they are Jincy Willett's own thing and they are MARVELS.

That is all. Off to it.


On the conference call I was just on a Boston Globe reporter asked a question about Northampton, Mass. Small world, huh?
The words "Shout Out" are just not really doing it for me, and since Palimpsest is already taken, I'm at a loss. Just saying "comments" seems lame. Please leave your suggestions for a new word tag for the comments feature in the "Shout Out." Yes, this is a ploy to make you comment. Do it. Do it now. Do it so I'll stop talking about it.

(It's just that I can't quite believe that little letters and symbols inserted here or there can make something interactive so quickly. It's like magic.)

(Which means I can smite you all with it if you don't use it! MWAHAHAHA!)

(Quite has two meanings which are sort of opposite. Think about it.)

(Comment: Enough with the parentheticals already. Get on with it.)

(Get on with what?)

(The blogging. Are you insane?)

(Yes, I've turned into a computer program. Translation: 0101010101010101.)

(This is total gibberish, but fun for me.)

(But probably really dull to, snap out of it.)

(Snap. Out. Of. It. Parentheticals are the wave of the future.)

(Parentheticals can't wave!)

Snapped out of. Whew. That was close. The cycle of parentheticalism almost got me. The Staple God is wiley.

This Max Powers entry is pretty damn funny, but only if you read James Lileks' Bleats. But then who doesn't?

And everyone should check out the not-so-well-written articles on Rael in today's Washington Post. Oh wait, did I say Rael? I meant His Holiness Rael. Or was that Claude Vorilhon? You Canadians--(yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. McLaren)--may get to feel all righteously superior to our horrid foreign policy right now, but don't forget that Rael lives in your country. The thing about Rael that I find so interesting is how much he and his little sect of loopy loops bore me. Aliens cloned humans and we're going to eat air food and download our brains into teenage bodies. Right. Boring. Bad cliche science fiction. Read it. Heard it. Seen it. Over it. Who cares if Eve's been cloned or not? I'm willing to bet she's going to end up marrying one of Michael "Glove Monster" Jackson's kids someday and they can live on Ranch Screwed Up Completely. Now, if Rael could explain the existence of MJ, maybe we could talk. Until then, I'll go ahead and start saving money for the wedding of "No. 3" and Eve. If it doesn't pan out, I can put the money into my cryogenic fund. There is a half-way interesting companion piece where the reporter asks various psychic and aura-reading UFOlogists what they think of Rael. One seems to think Rael's in the whole thing for some kind of sexual cult practices, but the prevalent opinion is that Rael gives serious UFO hunters a bad name. I'm not touching that one. (I love the word foofah though. "All kinds of foofah.")

I really hope God Saves the Blackberries!

And, finally, this is my most concerning link of the day. There are people--granted people who have enough time to spend answering a phone poll--who actually think the government should be able to control what the press reports. Not just during war time, but all the time. People this stupid deserve a vacation to Iraq during the upcoming war, or at least a spot on Planet Rael. I like to think they misunderstood the question.

But it still worries me that the question had to be asked. Sigh.


I managed to put a comments function in. Thanks to Mainframe Hacker Alan DeNiro. Just click on the little "Shout out" link after the posts. Do it. Do it now. C'mon, you know you wanna.

Last night we prepared to paint. This involved more staple-removing (All hail the Crooked Iron Mouth of God...), lots of nail removing, and taping of things and such. Christopher spent five hours on a ladder. This means we've prepared the bulk of the rooms for painting. There's only three left that we haven't really dealt with -- the bathroom (which isn't as bad as the others), the kitchen and the weird back living room with 14 foot ceilings. We stopped at Radio Shack and got a "boom box", as they were called in the '80s; Flaming Lips singing about Japanese girl heroes fighting robots, Jay Farrar, new Luna, old Throwing Muses ("sundown in the sinkhole, sunshine up on the hill"), and solo Kirsten Hersh help the time pass far more enjoyably. But very, very tired this morning.

It's kind of interesting, having to get this intimately involved with the surfaces and nooks and crannies before moving anything into a new abode. I think by the time we are actually living there, we'll really feel like we own the place and have exorcised its demons. And I will never, never, never put a nail lightly into a wall again. Houses should be treated with respect, because the blemishes are damn hard to fix.

The bad side of this move, and all the work that it's taking, not to mention the weather (snow) which is a separate affair of its own, is that we won't get to see Richard in Asheville this weekend as planned. The timing just wasn't right. We've rescheduled our little non-con-related get together for Valentine's Day or President's Day weekend, depending on your point of view. So, at least that's not too far off. Hiking has been mentioned.

The most interesting news in the science world today involves stick insects. You know, the ones you don't even notice until you see them moving or lumbering around (probably the wrong verb for something fairly delicate). Anyway, it turns out they've evolved wings, evolved into not-having-wings, and evolved wings again several times and that changes our thinking about evolution and "use it or lose it" very much. In a very cool and hope-inducing sort of way. Takes on "re-evolution" from the Washington Post and the New Scientist.

This story about the Little Man I like to call Tom Cruise about him being awarded $10 m in his lawsuit against the male British porn star that claimed he had an affair with the Little Man contains what is surely one of the most frightening and inadvertently funny sentences of the day. "We don't have any idea whether he'll ever have means to pay, but we've obtained the judgment, which will hopefully make it clear that demeaning Mr. Cruise will not be a successful endeavor," Cestero (Cruise's lawyer) said Wednesday. Anyone smell the stench of high school revenge wafting off this one? "You'll rue the day, you big bully!" Who cares if it's true or not? When you make as much money, are as high profile and as strange as TC (Scientology anyone? And just think of it this way--he's BENEATH John Travolta; he licks John Travolta's boots as Travolta navigates the space-time continuum...Right.) people are going to talk smack about you. Buy yourself a new estate and get over it. Sheez.

And last for today, I suggest everyone go read Roald Huffman's wonderful poem at Malacology, for Stephen Jay Gould. You may have to look in the archives for Thursday if you're reading this after today, but it's worth it. "All the world is in a snail!"


This advice from Terry Rossio is just about the best I can think of heading into a new year, and well, the rest of our lives. Never wait. It's worth reading, believing and putting into practice; so do it. (The rest of the Wordplayer columns are really good too--and yes, they're screenwriting specific, but they are also perfectly applicable to other kinds of writing and to life in general.)

Painted, which definitely counts as doing, but S L O W doing. It-Will-Take-Forever-Doing. We barely finished the little front alcove room, and there are many rooms left to go. And I won't even talk about the 45 minutes I spent REMOVING STAPLES FROM THE FRENCH DOORS. Barbarians who worshipped the Great and Fearsome Staple God inhabited this apartment last, and this God required bad manners and sacrifices of taste and humanity. I wish I knew the guys who wrecked the place's mothers so I could tell them what a horrible job they did raising their sons. I hope they're all living back at home in their parents basements, getting together once in a miserable while to swap barely-remembered stories about how good they had it when they feared the Staple God and how all the bad karma they accumulated now ruins their lives. I wish.

Instead, I remove staples. Sometimes with a screwdriver AND pliers, just so we can paint over the damage.

On a better note, our upstairs neighbor seems very cool and has a Hedwig and the Angry Inch poster.



Front page story in today's New York Times: "Not Your Usual Vampires, but Scary Nonetheless. Read it.
There's something that cracks me up about the following CNN headline: "Shuttle Flight Has Almost All-Female Crew." Almost, guys; it's noteworthy. Maybe they'll have a parade or something and the crew members can wear bikinis.

No painting to speak of, and really we still have to prepare the walls. But we did buy stuff to paint, or rather to prime with, and we'll start tonight. Not really a yay! kind of moment, in any way except the end has to be in sight, but, progress.

Then we came home and I stayed up and watched the season premiere of "The It Factor" on Bravo, which is one of the more interesting reality series to me. It follows nine actors, last season mostly in New York, this season all in L.A. Seeing how hard actors have it makes me appreciate the level of debasement writers have to endure to "break-in"; at least we don't have to go to cattle calls. Watching them do their audition scenes was painful, but it seems like a good cast and I'm looking forward to seeing most of them fail. Wait -- that didn't come out right. I'm looking forward to watching them try to break-in. Necessarily, it's not going to happen for most, or maybe any, over a six-month period. One guy, from Detroit who'd been in 8 mile, has only been in L.A. nine days when he auditions and gets picked for the show.

Anyway. I also watched about half of that show with the Millionaire-Only-He's-Not, at Kelly's recommendation. And she's right! It's a romance novel. It's not even like a romance novel; it IS a romance novel. Not highly recommended, but it you're looking for another guilty pleasure... watching beautiful women be forced to shovel coal into a train is right up there.

Have a good day.


I haven’t been writing much about politics on here lately, though I do follow what’s going on very closely and find it extremely troubling. I suppose I should say more and more troubling, because what’s going on with the U.S. government both here and abroad seems to be an avalanche—such a huge force overtaking you at any one moment that it’s hard to know what hit you. And yet, what it is, is a huge amount of vexing details or the even-more-vexing absence of details.

And we’re trained to ignore that feeling of being troubled, to just trust our government and go on, even if we don’t. I feel like we should all be doing more, but I don’t want to stop shaving my armpits (though if you don’t, you’re already ahead in the ballgame, and I salute you), start wearing hippy dresses, making signs and singing music of questionable quality. That’s really the historical model for protesting here, but it seems awfully dowdy and silly, and there must be a better one. The big challenge has never been having a voice, but getting it heard.

This American Life did a wonderful primer show on The Secret Government. I highly suggest everyone take the time to listen to it. If you’re starting to just tune out all the details because you don’t want to start wearing hippy clothes either, it’s especially important that you listen. Knowledge is where dissent starts. And it has started; Ariel Dorfman writes eloquently on behalf of peace. (And sidenote, I’m pretty sure he lives in Raleigh, though this piece is in The Guardian.)

Boy, don’t I feel all sincere and outraged, just like in high school? Maybe I’ll start writing funny political poetry again. Or perhaps not.

That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of good things happening. For one thing, the MacArthur Foundation just gave out a bejeezus-sized truckload of grants to worthy causes including National Public Radio. I love NPR. I don’t have any time for people who complain that NPR is just “another big media outlet” or “tool of the machine.” Yes, I sometimes wish that NPR broke ranks more often with the spin things are getting in other big media outlets. But it does break ranks, and more importantly, it lets us hear the voices of people making decisions and the ones of the people those decisions directly effect. And it’s readily available to just about everyone in our country, for free. I have no doubt that there are kids growing up in households where the New York Times just isn’t going to happen, even on the Internet, and maybe they hear things on NPR occasionally that make them think about the world differently. If nothing else, it’s worth it to support NPR for that reason.

Boy, don’t I feel like a bleeding heart liberal right now? Moving right along…

The fact that Just Married (if you don’t know what this movie is, you’re lucky, don’t try and find out) was the number one movie at the box office last weekend is proof that people are literally buying tickets into hell. The Surreal Life on WB may be more proof, but I’m going to watch it anyway probably because I can’t resist listening into the kind of conversations that Emmanuel Lewis (who bills himself as “the other short black guy”), Vince Neil, and Corey Feldman (Tom Shales calls him “the poor man’s Corey Haim”) might have with each other, with a Playboy Playmate looking on. Nobody ever said all that debauchery at the end of the Roman Empire wasn’t fun.

Claire Tomalin and Michael Frayn are up against each other for the Whitbread and there’s an funny, charming story on them in the New York Times’ today. Michael Frayn says of what he knew about Claire before they first met, “I thought if I could meet a girl with a name like Claire Delavenay, my life would be much better.” Which is aww, shucks, truly sweet.

And with that incredibly long mass of details and slightly embarrassing political shucksterism: yes, we got the apartment. Painting starts tonight.

Everyone should submit to Say…. I believe you can find actual guidelines here, under Paying Markets, in the first entry under S, or e-mail me. The theme for the next issue is “Say…What Time Is It?” and we’re currently reading submissions. Query first on nonfiction, send us stories and send Alan DeNiro poems. (And make sure you look at Ptarmigan’s, or was it Palimpsest’s, comment on movies. It cracked me right up. And Alan, how did you manage to incorporate a comments feature into your page? I wanna too.)

Be well.


We went to the funeral of my great-uncle yesterday. It was a traditional mountain funeral, I suppose, though I guess it's possible there are substantial differences elsewhere. The one thing that never fails to bug me about this style of funeral is that it always seems like very little is actually said about the deceased. Instead, the preachers take it as an opportunity to remind everyone that they'll die too and if they don't get right with God (thank you, Lucinda Williams), they'll go to hell. Of course, the person who's dead is always in heaven. I can think of a few differences, where the service seemed to have something more to do with remembering the person laid out by life, but not many and they all involved people who were relatively young.

The music was nice though. An "O, Brother" worthy gospel piano number and one of the three (THREE!) preachers brought his guitar and did a version of "Coming Home" before he said his piece.

Saw George.

Went to look at a slummy apartment, mostly to see in person the barking mad drunken Englishman who Christopher had talked to on the phone the night before. (We were interested in a different apartment, but it had already been rented.) The woman, whose relationship to said BMDE is unclear, shook her head at us as we walked up. "You're not college students, are you?" she said, with a grimace. The hallways managed to smell of mold, paint, and urine all at the same time. People were moving out of the apartment they took us into, which had shabby walls and shabby carpet, decent windows, and a noticeable lack of amenities. (We'd been assured the day before that this guy's rents were "well below the range you're talking about.") The highlight of looking at this particular apartment was that the Englishman was insulting the people who were moving out while we were looking at it. "IF people (people said as if he wasn't sure they really deserved the name) would get their shit out of here..." We said, uh, no thanks. He took us upstairs and berated us in cockney about how if "square footage is what you want, square footage, you'll get. This is square footage." And in fact, the upstairs apartment had a lot of square footage, if a one by one foot kitchen, a dingy bathroom, and no other amenities to speak of. We told him we'd be in touch, while he drank deeply from a cup his manservant had brought him and kept saying, "square footage" and "dog's fine, golden retriever's not a brute, as long as he don't attack other tennants." We left quickly.

This street is the same one our post office box is on, so we walked down to get the mail. And passed a neat apartment house we'd seen the day before when we were looking at the house across the street. Turns out they'd put the For Rent sign out that day. Pablo and Joel were still there waxing floors and such, so they let us in. We love the place (though the kitchen could be bigger); it's less than we pay now, and the same as the Square Footage Deluxe apartment. It's got character and they tell us they won't be painting, but they don't care if we do. (It needs paint.) It has spectacularly cool windows. We wrote the guy a check for the deposit and we're meeting his partner tonight to have a final discussion. Assuming our current landlady doesn't decide to trash us or George to him, this should work out. Keep your fingers crossed for us. It's within walking distance of parks, bookstores, library, the gym, coffeeshop, restaurants, the only bar we ever go to, the Kentucky Theatre (yay!), etc. And right next door to the post office, which means no more arguing about checking the mail.

And no barking mad drunken Englishmen, which is less of a pity than it sounds. Happy Friday, all. Enjoy it.


Greetings and salutations, said the spider.

I don't think LCRW has gotten any questions for the advice column yet. I know some of you know people who desperately need advice. Make them write in. I borrowed extra wisdom just in case.

The middle of the week and it feels like something else. Days like this make the concept of weeks feel like irrelevant jokes that no one gets anymore. Haven't done my 1,000 words yet today, or worked on the revision of Voices. And tonight is my screenwriting workshop's chat night so I shall be up very late. Maybe I'll get the 1,000 words in before then. But that is the last time you will hear me talk about it, because I despise the word count and, like the week, I'll try not to endorse it here. File under category of Necessary Evils.

New York is doing something backwards and forwards it seems. At first glance it seemed like a wonderful idea, but now I'm not so sure. I don't have the URL handy, so you'll have to go search poetry at the NYTimes for the article. Essentially, the city transportation department ran a competition for poetry to be emblazoned on the sides of subway trains. That's the wonderful idea part. But the actual poems are just subway-specific knock-offs of famous literary works, such as Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." It seems like it would have been far more interesting to put someone's actual creativity up there; in all of New York there are many good poets who could have sent in original work. (By that, I mean completely original work.) Is any poetry better than none? I'm not sure. Allan?

Listening to Tanya Donnelly's last record today beautysleep, highly recommended. Lots of creepy yet fun soundscapes and, oddly, resonances with Emmylou Harris's Red Dirt Girl. Anybody that can get away with singing the line "The night my spirit guide left me behind" has got something. (There is one clunker that proposes the world is a wraparound skirt, which is just silly.) Besides Kirstin Hersh didn't put out anything new in awhile. Also, the new Flaming Lips album is wonderful and the Luna too. Newish music. Goodie.

And everyone should be watching Andy Richter's sitcom on Sundays on Fox. Oh, oh, oh, and Conan O'Briend had the most wonderful and strange band on the other night. They're called the Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players. They purchase slides from estate sales and then make up songs about the people in them. The father plays piano and sings, the mother does the slides on a screen behind them, and the daughter (about 8) plays drums. It's absolutely worth seeking them out and all New Yorkers should be going to see them all the time.

That is all for now. We're off for a walk in the woods, over a huge limestone mine.


To the people who found this site by searching for "naked George Clooney," "Gwenda Baker," "child beauty pageants," "ballerina ornaments," and "pictures of oops bond girls": I don't understand it either.

Stories like this one scare me a little. I wish the industry I have to be a part of if I really want to be a produced screenwriter wasn't full of such legendary assholes. Someone over on the Wordplay forums said that Donald Westlake coined the term "sacred monsters" for such people.

And, it's official, I'm doing an advice column for Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. I'm reprinting Gavin's official squib from the LCRW mailing list here, without permission:

"New Advice Column (If and When)

Starting later this year, we will have a new advice column by Ms. Gwenda Bond. Known for her warmth, smarts, and pragmatic and straight-talking advice, Ms. Bond takes over from Mr. H. Belloc, whose advice -- when it was given -- was unfailingly polite and rich in the wisdom of his years. We and his legion of fans say a fond farewell and thank you to Mr. Belloc for his
years of advice.

Ms. Bond's column will run in the magazine and perhaps online. She can be found somewhat regualrly online at

Please send questions, problems, matters of the head and heart to with subject=Advice

We look forward to hearing from you."

So, send in your questions or send in someone else's questions or tell strangers to send in their questions or I "Hope you die!" (That's only funny if you go read the article about the sacred monsters.)
A good weekend, by all accounts. Excepting, of course, people updating their blogs. Ahem. Guys, it's 2003; when you post, we know you're alive. Hello, Mr. Barzak, Ms. Kristin, and Quail (or is it Evening?). Hope you guys had fun holidays.

We got presents in the mail. Very good presents. The kind of presents that make you cackle. Yay! Pictures coming soon featuring a small, sort-of-reenactment of the Glove Monster Baby Dangling Debacle with some of the presents as soon as we can get organized enough to do it.

And finally, finally, finally, managed to pack up the very last of the presents we need to send to people, which I will go to post as soon as I finish writing this. Which means, the old holidays are finally finito.

Fell in love with a painting by George Rouault at the Speed Museum (just an exhibition, not permanent) yesterday afternoon. We'd gone with our friends Joe and Melendra to see an exhibit called "Millet to Matisse", with works on loan from Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow. Lots of beautiful art, and I found out I'm more drawn to the work of Ganguin, Bonnard, Rouault and the likes than most of the people who were doing impressionism with a straight face. I much prefer a work that communicates something of the artist, than what the day was like. That's not fair, but it's quick and dirty and I'm too tired to go into detail. It's not that I don't admire the work of the impressionists, and in many ways I see it as completely vital; many of the paintings I prefer are in direct reaction to impressionism. Anyway, they had the most wonderful George Rouault dream portrait called "Circus Girl." I've searched in vain trying to find an image of it online, which surprises me. (I guess it surprises me that there is anything you can't find online these days.) But it makes me happy to know that in not much time it will go back to Glasgow and I will know just where it is if I ever need to see it again.

That was nice.

I didn't see About Schmidt yet. Went to the theater and there were too many damn people there. Will try again soon.

Not really a Happy Accidents spoiler: Ted Chiang, way more alert than I am, noticed something very cool about the references to Blinovitch in this movie. It's a nod to the famous British TV series "Dr. Who," which included something called "Blinovitch's limitation effect" in its laws governing time travel. The curious can find an explanation of the "Dr. Who" reference here. It just makes me like the movie--and Brad Anderson--even more.

There's a female peacock inhabiting a certain space of the road I take to get to work. Coming home on Friday afternoon I almost hit it, and then this morning, it was perched on the opposite side's guardrail, preening like a Queen. I wonder what it's doing there. I wonder how many people have noticed. Surely, someone's missing this peacock. But I like getting to wonder if it'll be there (and exactly where and doing what) the next time I pass by.


Sydney Omarr has died, at a ripe old age, and perhaps you'd just read the headline and pass on. But as someone who spent a moderate amount of time (say, 20 minutes) once researching whether or not he was even a real human being, I feel it's a noteworthy occurance.

When Christopher and I started making goo-goo eyes at each other--(kids in Kentucky learn young how to slosh their eyes about in their heads as a romantic gesture)--and for quite awhile after, I used to include our Sydney Omarr horoscopes, the Lord High Prognosticator's forecasts, in my first e-mail of the day to him. The thing that was (and still will be, as I expect the same staffers who've been writing the damn things for years will keep on, but where's the fun in that?) so great about Omarr horoscopes is how nonsensical they often were, and how specific. "You will have a brush with the occult." "You should not wear red or talk to a relative." "You will be involved in intrigue with a baboon." Now, I'm just going from memory, but at least one of those is rendered verbatim. So, goodbye Sydney. I hope you went where you thought you were going to. Because isn't unexpected death just the last laugh on a psychic of any ilk? I know some of them don't really believe they're psychic but play the game because it's as good as any other and the pay can be good. But many of them probably believe their own hype, and it must be the last great insult when the breath gets short and it dawns, "Didn't foresee this, did I?" Or, for the ones who believe they can't make predictions about themselves but that other psychics can, "I can't believe my dear comrade Madame Velma didn't tell me about this."

But I ramble. R.I.P, or whatever it was you wanted to rest in, Syd. You must have been some kind of romantic to name yourself after a movie and believe all this crap.

I don't think I've linked to a Molly Ivins editorial since I've been doing this thing, so it seems about time. It also seems oddly inappropriate that the one I'm linking to is just a compendium of random and prescient quotes, but, oh well... They're awful good quotes.

Say... Was That a Kiss? will officially be in reprints as of this weekend.
Fill in various songs about not sleeping at all last night here.

A little bleary this morning, after tossing and turning and such. But good morning.


Wow. I heard a cut off the forthcoming Cat Powers' album on WVRG this morning and it was a knock-out. Richard was right.

Back to our morning writing schedule today, like busy bees with fingers. It will be a very good year. I can sense it.

A few things of interest today and then silence:

Someone please tell Diana Ross that lost and drunk are two different things.

Stuever says blogs are in for 2003, among other things on a very comprehensive list... Whew, that was close.

A new book about Great Pox aka syphilis and its possible uncredited influence on history and such looks quite fascinating.

e= may get tweaked, eventually.

That is all for now. Coming soon, why you should read Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge.

Bye now.


So, 2002 was a strange and mostly very good year, all things considered. It seems pretty arbitrary and maudlin to look back too much, not when it's so close behind, because you can't really see things very clearly by observing our little markers of time. The rocks outside don't seem hungover today. The last second of one of our years isn't any different than the second before or the second after, and really most of them are the same length and the rest of us don't know because we aren't in the labs where they make the tiny adjustment to a second here or there to make them fit the year. And yet we mark it as time changed, as an ending and a beginning -- even if we say we don't. It seems like most people are always looking for their next opportunity for a clean start, a fresh chance, a new beginning (what a redundant phrase that is). I'm not, and I never have been. I'm about celebrating what's past and what may come; about moving on, moving forward, with the particular satisfaction it brings. I don't want to start over, or reset the game, I'm happy with just being in it. I love my life, living it, and the world continues to fascinate me in ways that are wonderful and awful, wild and weird. I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's, not for even one of those seconds, and that's what being happy really is. I think. So, today, I'll think about the things I want to do as this next section of seconds ticks away, and I mean to do them: but they aren't any different than what I wanted yesterday, and I'm only closer to achieving them because I know what I want. I hope the same thing is true for all of you: love your lives. They are precious and even if they weren't, that doesn't change the fact that they are yours, that they are the only ones you are guaranteed to get. Be happy; it doesn't take any more time.

There, that's my New Year's salvo, or maybe I mean salve. I hope for the best for all of you, for all of us, as always. Regrets? I'm with Frank Sinatra. There are people that have passed out of my life -- maybe for a little, maybe forever -- things that have changed profoundly over the last year that I wish hadn't, people who got hurt and people who hurt themselves, in ways I wish hadn't happened. But that is circumstance and it is passed and the only thing to do is keep moving forward, whether you drag or sail is up to you. Things still hurt, but I'd rather be dancing.

Anyway, my best. And I hope the hangovers are mild, and pass their time quickly.