shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


We have DSL! We have DSL! Yay!

Okay, granted the fact that this is finally hooked up owes itself to an extremely unfortunate head incident. Yes, another extremely unfortunate head incident. We really have to be more careful. ( I am clumsy; I have always been clumsy and I shall always be clumsy; Christopher can fight this though, he's just getting sucked into my gravity; is this too many semicolons all in a row? Why yes;) Christopher came into close contact with eyebrow and forklift yesterday, and there was much excitement of stitches and CT scans. The upshot is, three day weekend, the downshot is he has a nasty looking growly cut stitched shut on his forehead. So it goes.

Tonight we see Colin the Chef, one of Christopher's oldest friends, and go see a bunch of bands that are affiliated with some people I've known since high school. The vortex of weird promises to enlarge.

Go forth and weekend. I command ye!
Testing, because this page seems to have disappeared.


Christopher, you're going to love this. This site was the first hit when someone searched "Barnett's Famous"--don't know what they were looking for, but they got a reference to the "world famous Barnett's Creek."

And um, why would someone be searching "Terry Gilliam orangutan?"
Coming back from taking Chriostopher to work this morning, I get behind a Home City Ice truck. There slogan is: "Healthier than homemade." Healthier than homemade ice? This is their slogan? Is there something they know about the water supply that I don't? Sheez.

We went to the library last night and I took out lots of fun new books, including the big religious movement index (which promises to be fascinating), and Sarah Waters' Affinity, which I started already and am liking a great deal. I just dived into the rewrite of the script I finished last fall, Voices, which is a supernatural thriller that pulls off the history of spiritualism a bit (and is damn creepy). I figure it'll get me back in the right frame of mind. This one is promising to be a challenge in rewrite, since it's the only script I've ever written sans outline or notes or anything except a tiny amount of research. Not sure if I'll try that again or not. We'll see how it goes.

Has anyone else been to the White House site lately? I go there to read the unedited versions of the press briefings. I usually begin by doing a search for "Helen"--since whenever Ari the Flea is really rapping his fool head off, it tends to be because Helen Thomas has pushed him up against a wall and won't back down. (I love Helen Thomas.) Plus, it's always interesting to see what the White House press corps is asking about, but isn't showing up in the papers yet. And, c'mon, the Flea's a fool, one of the worst press secretaries I've ever seen. He just makes things up. He always has. It's fun to "watch" him try and sound convincing. Anyway, sorry for the digression. But, when I went yesterday there's this big scary green logo that says "Iraq: Denial and Deception" which links to the gov's PR site against Iraq. Including _excerpts_ from press briefings. Have I just not noticed this before? Because it's as creepy as a lot of the militant wacko sites out there. Yeeps.

Lynda Barry continues to rock.


If you've sent in a submission to Say...what time is it? and are wondering when in the hell you'll ever hear from us, it'll probably be pretty soon. With the painting and the move and the boxes, submissions have sort of been piling up, but we're going to make a good faith effort to get through as many as possible this weekend--and send out responses. So, there's that. Saying it here means we have to do it. And if you haven't sent us anything yet, um, what's the problem?


The Bourne Identity ended up being not as good as it wanted to be or could have been. It's very much like a really good first draft screenplay, filmed. Which means better than most movies, especially in the action genre, actually. The problem is that all the little flashes of really good writing and visual storytelling are dragged down by moments of illogical character behavior and, frankly, characters just not being consistent. These are very much things that happen in first drafts of really good screenplays. And, from what I remember about the making of the movie, they were pretty much writing the script as they filmed. A tentative recommend for some night when your brain is beat down enough to not question too much.

Christopher knows all the songs from Ishtar. He also swears it was a really funny movie, very underrated. I remember my parents taking me and my brother to see it at the drive-in in Richmond, but little else. Just sand and Dustin Hoffman's face, really. I'm not sure if this is one of those things I'm willing to investigate by actually re-watching or not. Perhaps it should remain a mystery.

There's part of me that wishes I could be assured of a turnout of Hell's Angels contingents at my funeral. But I'd rather not have to live Johnny PayCheck's life (or listen to his music) to do it.

And, lessee, the debate in the Senate yesterday turned to the proposed CBS hillbilly reality show, which I must give Zell Miller credit for deeming a "cracker comedy." Appalshop is a really cool music station/arts group that funds all kinds of things which has been leading the charge against CBS on this one; they're in Whitesburg, Kentucky ("The Mountain Eagle: It screams," best newspaper slogan ever). They recently have been victims of local government officials refusing to sign off on a $300,000 grant to build an Appalshop museum, because a DJ was heard by some people saying something to the effect that "America has killed more innocent people around the world than any other country." The local officials thought this unpatriotic; the DJ doesn't remember if he said it or not. WMMT (the radio station and the "voice of the hillbilly nation") is standing behind him, because they don't censor. (Here's the Washington Post story on it.) This ticks me off on so many levels, and makes me very proud of Appalshop for not backing off one inch.

I love listening to WMMT by the way--it's a great radio station in a sea of boring dross. The late night Friday show when I was in high school was the first place I ever heard The Replacements. Last weekend, when I was visiting my folks, the Saturday night show was being hosted by a 21-year-old infatuated with herself and unabashedly having a good time with things. And whose accent reminded me lots of my own around that age. Think verrrry long "i's." The first time I met Charles and Karen Vess we bonded over talk of WMMT, because they get it where they live. What the point of all this rambling about Appalshop is, is that it really isn't a "hillbilly nation" anymore, and if it is then there's something kind of great about that. It's not worthy of being mocked, or cheapened by a reality show. They're not looking for the kind of people that volunteer at Appalshop, or even listen to it; they're looking for something else, something cheap. Hopefully, if they find it, we won't reward them by watching.

End of diatribe.

Oh, and for all the people who are still talking about the duct tape thing. Here's the thing, these are fairly common sense recommendations. Giving people something to do, that's productive is not a bad thing. Yes, Tom Ridge is a dolt, but having an emergency kit and a family communications plan are not radical ideas. The Red Cross is making very similar recommendations and has been for decades for emergencies like, oh say, weather. But, on duct tape. 1. There's actual research to back that up, which I've read as part of my job. A study from Oak Ridge that's actually called, "Does Duct Tape and Plastic Sheeting Work?" The research suggests that it does. 2. At the very least, you can make a post-apocalypse prom dress with it.

Now, I'm not doing any of this stuff, because I figure if something happens where we are, I'll be working. But, just because something easy to make fun of--and it is, and it's the laughter of fear, I suppose--doesn't mean it's bad advice. In fact, this campaign is the most practical thing I've seen coming from D.C. in awhile, even if some of it maybe isn't supported by science. (Like: "Anything over your face in a biological attack is better than nothing." Um, not sure whether there's science to back that one up.) And yes, it's simple, it has to be because it's a general education campaign aimed at everybody. So, ignore it or follow the advice, but get over it. It's not that bad an idea to encourage people to take common sense emergency precautions and to break down various types of threats that are considered most likely for them. Really, lots of cities have been doing this, and no one cared until Homeland Security got involved.

End diatribe two.

I wish we could smell the roses, but here it's just more snow.


Our brains are, in fact, limited to three dimensions. Unlike Jaws, who had a six dimensional brain, but a badly _damaged_ six dimensional brain. Jaws' brain was atrophied in the second and fifth dimensions, leading her to mistake swimmers off the coast of Maine for big floating clumps of yummy garlic mashed potatoes.
Rick Bragg examines the significance of Mardi Gras beads.

Best quotes:

"James S. Eiseman, vice president for student affairs at Loyola University here, and a former professor who specialized in popular culture, said: "I do it. I do. I go to 15 parades. I have been called parade trash, a parade slut. I don't want the beads. I give them all away. I just love to catch them."


"What's more exciting than shiny round objects when you're trashed?"
You gotta love it when your boyfriend tries to put a spell on you using e-mail:

Hey nonni! Nonni nonni!
Hey nonni!
Ha cha cha!

O! great chicken of excitement, we implore thee! O! swimming mantis shrimp of wakefulness, we call upon thee! Lift the twice-damned serpent-twined curses of beepiness and boredom from this woman and!

Well, hmm, not nearly so chatty today, not nearly so many things to post.

Which is for the best, really. I think we can all agree on that.

(Bananas really are radioactive. It's true.)

We watched something like the first quarter of The Bourne Identity last night, which is both better than I expected and not quite as good as I hoped. Christopher keeps having trouble with the foreign characterizations ("Oh, sure, the Swiss are so hardcore about papers and sleeping on benches..." or fairly simple escape routes on the outside of foreign embassies.) and I keep having trouble with the actions of the characters ("Oh, right, he was found with gunshot wounds in a freaking ocean, went to look in a safety deposit box where there were various passports with his picture and different identities, loads of various currencies AND a gun, but he doesn't realize he's in urgent danger until he hits redial and is told one of the identities is dead by the hotel clerk. RIGHT." or a guy with a gun blows in through an apartment window and starts trying to kill this guy who just paid you $20,000 for a ride to Paris and you just stand there and watch. RIGHT.). And then we both agree that it's an action movie and we should stop thinking. Stop thinking, note to self, important for action-movie enjoyment.

But really, it's not that bad. We'll probably finish it tonight, maybe tomorrow. We'd have finished it last night if the extremely pleasant handyman Joel hadn't come to install our smoke detectors.

Hank Stuever writes on the new edition of The Joy of Sex. It's not as pithy as you'd hope, but interesting for little details those of us who've never read this book wouldn't know, like that the guy who originally wrote it thought bathing and grooming were overrated. RIGHT. I would have to say that bathing and grooming are essential to my joy of sex. And I'll go no further, or we'll all be blushing.

And, if you want to think of something truly scary, don't just think about Dubya. Think about Jeb. And Prescott. And hey, if you read this article, you can send Jeb an ole electronic missive and he might respond, but not with adequate spaces between all the words. (The man liked Forrest Gump, liked it so much he wept several times during it. To quote an ancient proverb: Enough said.) I expect my president to have meticulous grammatical skillz. Needless to say, I don't really have a president right now.


Okay, so I've been asked not to directly link to the review of Ideomancer Unbound in Tangent Online because, y'know, reviews are only available to subscribers for the first three weeks after they go up. (I think.)

But I was told I could put the awesome things the reviewer had to say about Christopher's story up. So, yay!

"The Dreaming Mountains," by Christopher Rowe
What if: The landscape was really a sleeping dragon that was about to awake.
The story: The slumber of the vast Dragon Appalach is disturbed and he determines to rouse himself. However, various humans somehow aware of this potential event speak to him and make him aware that the time of, and need for, dragons has passed and he returns to his slumber. Wow. There's a quality to this tale that's almost like a story from the Old Testament, one could believe this is a retelling of some ancient myth, yet happening now. Wonderfully evocative, emotionally enchanting, layered in symbolism that never intrudes to overwhelm the tale, this is more than just a story one reads, it is a story to be experienced. When I see this author's by-line in the future I will fall upon it with expectant pleasure: truly wonderful, and heartily recommended.

Barbara Barrett (the reviewer) is obviously a Genius Critic. Now, go buy Ideomancer Unbound or something.
Updating one's blog three times in one day surely must be unhealthy, right? That's right -- I like to inhabit the edge of time-having-too-much-of.

This one's for Richard. An article on barbeque and its many virtues. Is that how the true devotee spells the word, or is it some deviation such as bbq or barbecue? Wait, maybe I have it wrong and barbeque is the deviation. Hmmm... Ah, the puzzles of food words.

I think it's funny that this pan of what may be the only Bollywood SF movie so far (?) is written so poorly. Writing a bad review poorly just voids your point, dude. (It's Monday, I can get by with an ironic use of dude.)

And, you know, I've been following a lot of the essays and blogging surrounding the possible war with Iraq. This essay from The Progressive seems to make a lot of sense to me, if still not quite being something I agree with 100 percent. But then, what do I know? Not much, in the scheme of things.

Keep those admonitions to Christopher to write coming; I think they're working.
A worthwhile and fascinating piece at Edge about the "third culture," which is really just scientists having a conversation with the larger world about why what they're doing is vital.

Excerpt that I couldn't agree with more. "A fundamental distinction exists between the literature of science and that of disciplines whose subjects are self-referential and most often concerned with the exegesis of earlier thinkers. Unlike those disciplines in which there is no expectation of systematic progress and in which one reflects on and recycles the ideas of others, science, on its frontiers, poses more and better questions, better put. They are questions phrased to elicit answers; science finds the answers and moves on. Meanwhile the traditional humanities establishment continues its exhaustive insular hermeneutics, indulging itself in cultural pessimism, clinging to its fashionably glum outlook on world events."

This essay isn't perfect by any means, but it is talking about something that I think is profoundly important. The reactions from other scientists and thinkers is as interesting as the piece itself. Go, read.
Listening to Morning Edition this morning on the way into work, it was confirmed. Mafia is dead. But at least they interviewed Shelley Jackson, who was able to call the little tangent about mafia's popularity being related to anxieties over Sept. 11 the nonsense it is. (Puh-leeze. Dubya is SO mafia.)

(BTW, that link won't be active until after noontime Eastern, and if it's not right then, just search mafia on Surprisingly, I believe this is the only mafia-related story they've done lately.)

A nice weekend if a very busy one. Casa de Nueva continues to take shape, albeit very slowly. The designated dining room remains decorated with boxes and there are repositories of empty and full boxes elsewhere. Christopher spent his entire weekend, more or less, painting the trim in our offices (the two front rooms). But, at least it's done now and the furniture is mostly arranged. Maybe we can finally get our so-called DSL connection up and running this week. Maybe. He's talking about writing stories though, which is a very good thing, and as always we should all harrass Christopher into writing more. Email him at and tell him, "Write, fool, write!" (Sorry, sweetie. But you know it's for your own good.)

Now we must make those really hard decisions like which art to hang where. I think I'll put my Kelli Bickman painting "The Ringmaster" in my office. (There used to be a pic of it up under illustration, but I believe it's down now, replaced by newer stuff that may still be for sale. It was one of the best presents I ever got.) But of course, there's all our newly framed art. Maybe I will take some pictures and stick them up here, because the Lynda Barry "Outer-Space Head" is really something. We have too many walls.

Friday night we went bopping around the Gallery Hop. Saw a few paintings that I liked a lot, some others that were eh, some that were bad funny, and many that were just plain bad. Christopher managed to avoid insulting an artist who does naturalistic rural images by asking if it was a political statement that she'd left out the tobacco in a barn painting, that was in the photo she was working from. Turns out she's just not done yet. And will make $1500 for it. Who am I to judge? (Okay, it's a bad painting no matter what it costs. That's who I am to judge.) Best thing about Gallery Hop? We can walk to it now, which means we can drink all the passable free wine we want. Oh yeah.

Stopped outside the Starbucks to hang for a few minutes as things were winding down, and to be a sympathetic audience for two teenage boys with acoustic guitars (and a keyboard) who had no audience at all. And, wow, they turned out to be really good. They both had really nice voices, even unmiked and untutored. They sang Bob Schneider and Rufus Wainwright songs. Christopher wrote them an encouraging note with some advice and I scrawled on the back of it too. It was one of those things that just stops you short and reminds you that you may in fact be surrounded by people that are capable of amazing things at any time.

The rest of the weekend was just work, and not worth mentioning here. I read a couple more Jincy Willett stories, Glen Hirschberg's "Strummwelpeter," and Paul J McCauley's "Naming the Dead"--all of which were excellent reads. And some of Leonard Cohen's poetry too, which may be better than you think but only if you think it's not that good.


Hmmm... Became inexplicably transfixed by the horrible movie Rock Star last night. I really can't explain why the movie was made or why I watched it. Tres mystere? Oui. Jennifer Aniston's hair wasn't nearly big enough, Mark Wahlberg didn't get paid nearly enough, and boy were the pants tight. The worst part seemed to be that the story took itself seriously. They saw this as a heartfelt story of dreams and success without all that empty, meaningless sex attached. I kid you not -- spoiler, but really, you're gonna watch this? -- it ends with the Aniston character having opened a coffee shop in Seattle to "do something with her life" and Mark Wahlberg's character doing bad grunge to prove that he's got his shit together now. Eek.

In an alarming coincidence, it's emerged in the news today that Great White is not only still a band, but they travel from place to place trying to kill people with illegal fireworks and have succeeded to the tune of nearly 100 people in a Rhode Island night club. I resist the urge to make inappropriate jokes about musical taste here. I will say, though, that it's no surprise that the place wasn't anywhere near filled to capacity. (Yes, it's a terrible, senseless, tuneless tragedy.)

And in the charmingly amusing story of the day: if a successful writer puts a fictitious zoo in your city, why not build one?


There is much, much good music coming soon to our town. Some of which will be played at the (free) Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour gig of Ramsey Midwood. His record "Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant" is worth checking out, more than.

I was greeted with the following paragraph from Johnny PayCheck's obituary when I got to the office this morning. "Mr. PayCheck's career was interrupted from 1989 to 1991, when he served two years in prison for shooting a man in the head in an Ohio bar in 1985." Hmmm... Did I mention part of his sentence was commuted by the governor of the state? Note to self: before shooting people in the head, write catchy blue collar anthem like Take This Job and Shove It.

Meanwhile, Terry Gilliam's selling all kinds of questionable truth about what exactly he's working on. In the Washington Post, he tells Desson Howe that he won't quit till the Don Quixote movie gets made. But over on the Sci-Fi Wire it appears a little project called the Brothers Grimm has swept into town. (I must admit that both of these are great movie ideas.) Gilliam, I am so on to you.

Joss Whedon answers 100 questions, with some very interesting answers. Including saying "God, I hope so" when asked if this is the last season of Buffy and "Yes" to Faith the Vampire Slayer (if, of course, Eliza Dushku said yes too).

And, last but not least, them Iraq's won't know what hit 'em.
Yesterday's entry that didn't post...

A few things of interest today and no commentary from yours truly who is roasting in a truly airless environment. (No, the Kingdom of Hell didn't finally come claim me; I think one of the janitors is having a bad day and has cranked up the heat.)

A review of the new Cat Power record in the Washington Post, extremely favorable.

The New York Times gets extremely snarky about the poets for peace, the ones who showed up anyway.

And reports on another terra cotta army found in China. I saw parts of the Xian army at an exhibit at the Kentucky Horse Park a couple of years ago. It was the first time they were ever shown outside the country in such a large way; quite amazing, and the city of Lexington still has a lovely horse statue downtown that was a gift from the Chinese government. I got seated at a table with foreign dignitaries who weren't lucky or important enough to get translators, but who were very pleasant and impressed with my chopstick abilities.

And again in the NYT, a fascinating piece from the magazine about a disabled advocate in a philosophical debate with a professor who literally questions her right to live. It's nice to see something about philosophy that gets it back into a debate with reality.

Now, move on, there's nothing else to see here.


Invader Zim rocks. Friend! I no longer require your services!
Sorry for the interruption. Blame the (now-gone) head lump, the road and the weather. Much to report, so...

The Valentine's Day Present That Involved Kinko's

I would highly recommend that everyone make their Valentine's Day present at Kinko's. Because you have to make it and it can be done as cheaply as $1.47. That's right, $1.47 for a one-of-a-kind present. People who buy their presents have to spend way more because they didn't even make, they bought. What was this masterpiece of economy, you ask?

One of the first presents I ever bought Christopher was Sherman Alexie's poetry collection "The Summer of Black Widows," because we'd been talking about Bigfoot/Sasquatch legends and there's a whole set of Sasquatch poems in it. There's also a set of seven poems called "Totems," which are just what they sound like. They are short poems entirely composed of names--of foods, of cultural heroes, of movies, of fictional characters, of religious figures. In short names of the people and/or cultural reference points that exerted a huge influence on Sherman Alexie. Half the fun is figuring out what the theme of each poem is. We decided to write our own. I finished mine but never gave them to Christopher (and he still _has_ to finish his). The whole exercise requires a lot of thinking about not just what you like now, but what you liked 10 years ago, what you read or watched obsessively when you were 12 or 21, and on and on. If you're going to be honest. Which I was. And I had the little seven bound up into a simple, giant chapbook that cost a whole $1.47.

Maybe I'll put one up here sometime when I'm feeling lazy.

In the Pines, In the Pines, where the sun never shines

So, we loaded George Rowe the Dog, Poster Boy for American Values, into the car on Friday afternoon and headed for the mountains around Asheville. (It's really hard to travel incognito with a celebrity like George in the car. Damn you, paparazzi! Can't you just leave George alone?) Richard had already purchased coffee cake with cultural heritage and other necessities like beer by the time we rolled into The Pines, which is a little complex of cabins stuck in the 1950s. (We had to plug the coffeemaker in next to the bed because there were no outlets in the kitchen. Not sure that's a '50s thing, but it is odd.)

Because the country is on high alert, and the Weather Channel was too, Richard and Christopher felt like we needed our own alert system, so we'd know how to behave. They based it around dangerous animals. Most of the weekend was spent at Grumpy Orangutan. We were briefly worried that we might have to move up to Deadly Asp, or even the highest level, Rabid Killer Whale. But then we bought 20th Anniversary Trivial Pursuit (which I LET the boys win, ahem, LET, LET) and things settled right down.

We saw cemeteries and navigated treacherous roads and visited a Rose's (where the sun really never shines) and met a half Sioux-half German who "travels the old roads" and is obsessed by race. All in all, a damn good President's Day. I highly recommend it. You'll want to make sure there's plenty of booze if you try the same thing.

The Treacherous Ice Storm

And it turned out it was a Very Good Thing we were out of town, because the worst ice storm in Lexington's history hit while we were away. We got home to power (yay!), but every single tree in our back yard is um, laying in the back yard, and most stoplights are out. Giant split trees and downed power lines are just everywhere. Over 50,000 people in our county are without power. Our street is packed with cars because the YMCA is a shelter. And we just get to feel really lucky, because we came home and everything was fine.

But remember, we're still at Grumpy Orangutan, so remain alert.


We are creatures of motion, always moving faster than we think. Taking a step, lifting an arm, there's more force than we realize.

Until, of course, I brain myself superhard on an open cabinet door while standing back up with a can of George's dog food. OUCH OUCH OUCH. Yes, like a cartoon character, I have a giant lump on my head. Words like "seeping" were used to describe the scene of the bludgeon.

Okay, so unlike cartoon characters, I have enough hair to hide this and no one will even give me sympathy... Anyway, this has been one hell of a week and I hope the kick me sign has now fallen off my back.


This week just won't quit. Today? A flat tire. Very flat. Christopher put the spare on, in the freezing pre-dawn air, and was late for work. I'm off again today to go to the tire place and see what's up, as we're getting ready to road trip to our little hearts are content, or at least in Asheville.

Our nice Spanish-speaker-only neighbor -- (he and his roommate have two pretty kitties, one named Lauren, the other Bacall) -- went and got a tire jack, even though we already had one, and offered it to us smiling and monosyllabic. We are English-speakers-only, and so the language barrier is pretty close to completely unbreachable. We hope we didn't offend him by turning down the jack. He got in his little red car, not even shutting the trunk all the way, and sped off, with loud Spanish dance music pumping. (Actually, I'm beginning to have a theory that he's actually hard-of-hearing from listening to the music so loud in his car, and not mono-lingual at all.)

So, anyway, flat tire=crisis of the day.

On a happier note, my friend Michaelangelo Matos has a charming piece up at Nerve, that you can see now but will soon be premium content. So, go read it before then: "69 (years of) love songs: the best agony anthems from 1934-2002".


I am working on Christopher's Valentine's Day present, which will involve Kinko's (now just a block away!), and he's going to read this and not even know what it is. That makes it even more fun.

Home today, because last night was a parade of Bad Things. First, my uncle was rushed into surgery for a rush quintuple bypass here in town, so we went over and sat around and I tried my best not to be inappropriate with the humor. Though I've never been very good at that in hospitals. My experience in hospitals has usually tended to involve sunny departures in daylight, condition improved. With one major exception. Mostly, when the bad stuff has happened in hospitals, I haven't been there, and so I tend to forget that other people are nervous just being there. Anyway, this side of my family knows me well enough to expect and kind of shake their heads when I burst out laughing, making my cousin laugh too, because some annoying old guy is yammering about nothing into her ear while her dad's in surgery.

Then we came home, got to bed very late. Two hours later, George gets very agitated. He keeps waking us up. We keep letting him outside. He eventually calms down, and we call the animal hospital just in case and tell them yada. Of course, by the time we get them on the phone, he seems normal. I figure it was just a case of nerves and changed diet and new place. That would give anyone a little panic attack.

So, I didn't want to leave George alone all day, and was tired as hell this morning... So, here I am.

And I finished a short story, yay! It's been so long since I finished anything, anything that wasn't a script that will take weeks and weeks to rewrite anyway. And I like this story, though it's odd and dark and funny and maybe not even speculative at all. I have no idea where I'll send it. It's a love story too, of a sort, and so fitting for the holiday.

And all the books are on their shelves in alphabetical order (or close, I was never good with that; I still sing the song), yay! There was finally enough bookshelf space. That might even be enough for a few weeks if we don't go bookshopping.

Did I mention there are wonderful books we have to give away? Avram Davidson and Karen Fowler and John Collier and etc. etc. etc. and you can get something if you do one of two things. Ask me to send you something or order a copy of one of our zines when we're out of stock. (We always send extra goodies cause we feel guilty.) I really don't want to use our scant extra bookshelves saving all these books. I want to give. Isn't that a beautiful thing? So, participate, damn it.

And well, I believe that's all. Mr. George the Dog is going to get a bath and fluff and smell nicer and Christopher's going to come home and collapse because he didn't get to sleep in like I did and I will conference call like a good little girl even though I'm not at work.

Oh, and I got Susan-Marie's comments link wrong yesterday, so here's the right one.


Lots of interesting things today and time is short, so without further...

Alan DeNiro questions the true meaning of ellipses and posits what the real movement in SF should be and you should all go read it. Go ahead and read it, you know you want to. And people are talking about this over in Susan-Marie's quick topic, so go there and challenge Alan to a futurist duel of wits. Do it. It's a socially acceptable activity. I promise.

I'd talk about it here, but I just read it and have to think about it more first.

And in sort of the same vein as the Hallmark writers from yesterday, there are apparently ghost writers for personal ads and they write really inane, celebrity-parts comparing ads and place them in the Harvard alumni magazine. There's just something desperate and sad and terribly voyeuristic about it.

I definitely call spilling umpteen gallons of tequila into a city's sewer system a "hazardous materials incident." Wonder if they got out the haz-mat suits though?

And of course, Oscar nominations out today, and I swear I'm going to see all the movies nominated in major categories that I haven't already. A nice surprise that The Two Towers got a best pic nod this year, as I didn't really think it would, being a middle stepchild and all. But I actually think the nomination would have been better placed for Peter Jackson in directing. So, there's that. And I'm really not going to get into all this now except to say that I think it's so great that Julianne Moore got two nominations this year. Yay!

And that maybe Charlie Kaufman's genius is not in writing offbeat stories, but in writing characters.

That is all, really.


Two other small things I forgot in the quiz madness.

A scary article on Hallmark greeting card writers in the Washington Post.

And someone tell the Glove Monster what journalists do for a living. Journalists who interview celebrities? Using false pretenses or sucking up to get their subject to divulge intimate details? Please? As if that makes it okay to be a non-human freakazoid.
Oh, goodie. I'll play:


this quiz was made by the sunni bunni bear

What Flavour Are You? I taste like Peanut Butter.I taste like Peanut Butter.

I am one of the most blendable flavours; I go with sweet, I go with sour, I go with bland, I go with anything. I am practical and good company, but have something of a tendency to hang around when I'm not wanted, unaware that my presence is not welcome. What Flavour Are You?

you are a fantasy book

what type of book are you?
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(Okay, I'll admit it, I requizzed to avoid being a Romance Novel. But really, that would be such bullshit...)

your bitch.

What swear word are you?
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(I could barely read this quiz; kudos to whoever managed the atrocious grammar.)

very fucked.

what fucked version of hello kittie are you?
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(I don't even really know who Morbid Angel are, honest.)

You Have Normal Coping Skills
You are normal. Lucky little you

What Self-Mutilation Are You?
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(Wow. It's weird being called normal.)

And one to grow on. Which Dead Rock Star Are You? (I am: You are John Lennon. You are the greatest songwriter the world has ever seen. You are also an egotistical berk, occasionally given to writing hippy dross. You invented Oasis. Well done.)

Wow, you don't have to even think while you do these things.


There's something that happens when you paint and move and unpack and yada, or more precisely something that doesn't happen. That thing is laundry. What does happen is that the laundry Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stouts on you nad then you have to do it. For a weekend. Maybe you are still doing it, the mountainous laundry mountain, at 6:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, with the end only just beginning to be in sight.

Maybe you are starting to wonder where it will all go, since there's not all that much closet space and there's still lots of boxes. But at least, what it will be, is clean.


Sunshine State is amazing. Some of the best writing is between the lines and that's damn hard to do. There are moments that are like a novel, and yet they still work as movie. How does Sayles do that? I don't know, but god is it fun to watch and try to figure out. More on this amazing movie later.

And we got loads of CDs of "Invader Zim" in the mail from the North and I am very excited about those as well.

So, again, yay!

Go well into the week and I'll meet you there with more substantial entries.


Reports coming in from all over that people are Buttercup (you precious flowers, you) and several Vizzinis, which is kind of scary (not that there's anything wrong with that). Kudos to those brave soldiers, or flowers, who fessed up right here in public. You've proved that it does mean something to be Inigo Montoya. Or Terza Rima. Or whatever. Although, I still can't remember who Valerie is...

# # #

So. Michael Jackson aka Wacko Jacko aka Glove Monster.

If you missed "Living With Michael Jackson" last night, you missed a seminal pop culture moment. The moment when the first artificial lifeform was revealed to having been living among us for decades--and releasing hit singles!

Those of you that did miss it, or who had to turn away early on, for instance at the first appearance of the black umbrella of death and the mention of sun-avoidance disease ("It burns! It burns!") and the "Giving Tree," I understand. These things are not for the faint-hearted or those with lesser amounts of intestinal fortitude. You can read the highlights here, though the halting cadence and computer child voice will be missing, nowhere the fuzzy precious moments eyes in all the blown-up and airbrushed-within-an-inch-of-impressionism portraits in the background behind that face made of triangles surrounding eyes that are actually dead black pinpricks. But, you can confirm the gist: he's inhuman.

Yes, inhuman. Not a crazy person, not a damaged human being. But an actual Something Else.

Michael Jackson may have existed once upon a time, may have climbed a tree without steps made for him, maybe made up songs that he didn't think came from on high. But that entity has been destroyed and replaced by the Glove Monster Construct. Yes, a construct. An artificial being with a dose of chaos thrown in to ensure entertainment value. It's really the only explanation that makes sense.

All the excess in our culture, all the worst kinds of self-involvement and becoming-a-vulture and showing off to avoid being alone and of never, never, never wanting to get old and of never, never, never facing up to the fact that certain parts of reality are not subjective have joined together in the union of this creature who has no inkling of what is inappropriate. And for shame, it is allowed and reveled in. No one in his entourage gives him a good lick upside the head when he calls his child "Blanket" or calls the cops when he's alone in the upstairs bedroom with a pre-teen boy. Martin Beshir said in the after interview with 48 Hours that "he's a law unto himself." And we let him be and we watch. While those kids wear masks. While other people's kids sleep in his bed. He is our worst ambassador, proof that spectacle is sometimes more important than humanity, these days.

Maybe I'm overstating, but I believe that the attention we pay this character belies the fact that he has a cultural meaning and it ain't pretty. He is denial of life made proof. Because that's what being a child forever is: denying life. Denying what you've learned or experienced or endured.

And the platform the man-boy is built on is that he refuses to realize that he will die. Michael Jackson will die, but he'll never believe it. No matter how much plastic surgery he does, at some point there will be wrinkles. Becoming a plastic creature will not prevent aging. And yet, he will never believe that death is coming for him. When you can deny that, deny life and deny death, then everything else is just trimming, isn't it? No wonder he says these things and doesn't inkle that they are wrong. He is a construct now, not a human.

And we are human because we keep paying attention to this train wreck, this worst case scenario come to life. Or rather, avoiding life.

It's because we're not empty, that we see that the Glove Monster is.

# # #

Perhaps even more disturbing than the fact of the creature himself are all the fanatics they showed chasing him in Germany. Begging him for a hug. Collapsing into tears at a touch from his ET-like fingers.

Who the hell are these people? Where are their friends?

What the hell are they thinking? I say we send them all to an island. But it would just end up being an island with really bad taste in pop music.

# # #

So, there's that. Also, rats are prairie dog killers. Stone cold.


What does it say that Richard, Christopher and me are ALL Inigo Montoya in the "Which Princess Bride Character Are You Quiz"? Please people, take this and be a different character, for sociological purposes. Prove it can be done.

(And um, report back in the shout outs, you big non-shout out wimps or I'll send you all Shonen Knife CDs, mwahahaha!)

(Just kidding about the CDs, I like them. But the books and other CDs offer is still on.)

We finished sorting the books last night and chatted to Inigo Montoya the First a good long time, and there was much mention made of rapping (that needs to be cut out) based on Christopher's Tom Bombadillo rap in the palimpsests of the most recent entry on Alan's blog(?). I hope Alan and Kristin are feeling better.

And I heard "Borderline" on the radio this morning and thought of Mr. Barzak and wondered if he will be making an appearance at Wiscon this year and whether there will be dancing. (Also wondered if he plans on updating his blog again soon... ahem.)

There's a Hank Steuver piece on debris hunters in East Texas that I'm too lazy to get the link for, but it in today's Style section of the Washington Post.

The Glove Monster TV programs are coming up. A friend sent me a scary article from a British magazine quoting MJ from the documentary talking about NOT having sex with Tatum O'Neill because he was too shy and how he still has kids over and lets them sleep in his bed. Why do we allow this man-thing to be free?

Cross your fingers that the VCR works so I can go get Mr. George the Dog tonight. Or, in the alternative, that Buffy's really good.


This is an interesting piece from the Washington Post about Karen Hughes paging desperately through her Holy Bible to find a quote for Bush to use in his speech. Other than that clunky line where he used the word rocket, I thought it appropriate and somber. And even though I know how these things work, it never fails to tarnish it when you realize that someone else did the heavy lifting, ie, wrote it. With Clinton I was never sure when it was him and when it was his speechwriters, but at least I knew some of the time it was him.

Still, I remain comforted by the fact that he didn't say we won't be sending any more people into space, if not by the fact that they cadged the template from Reagan, otherwise known as "Where am I? Who am I? The president? Oh, that's nice."
Fascinating parasomnia article in the New York Times' magazine.
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said about what happened Saturday morning. And I'm not fool enough to think that I have anything new to say about it, or that anything needs to be said at all because I think we all got it immediately, felt it, grasped it, when we first heard the news or saw that cloudy streak of smoke burning across the sky.

I was on the phone with my mom, who is almost always the one who tells me when something catastrophic happens. My mom, living in seriously rural America, would have to drive 15 minutes from home to get to a stoplight and after that, it'd be another 40 before she reached another one. And yet, she always knows before I do. She calls to make sure I'm okay, or tells me to turn on CNN. There are no truly disconnected, forgotten pockets of the world in America anymore, not really, which is something that makes me feel hopeful rather than sad. Saturday morning she just said, "Have you had your TV on?" I said no, because we'd just gotten up. She said, "The space shuttle blew up while it was coming back." I started asking questions, but she didn't have the answers. No one has the answers yet.

I told Christopher and his face went very still and we turned on CNN. We made it about five minutes before Christopher took the remote and turned the volume down and said, "I can't watch this."

I watched a little more of it, and I kept myself from crying even though that's what I wanted to do, immediately. It's what I almost did several times that day, when I really let myself think about it. There was no time needed to get over the shock; the understanding was immediate. Perhaps, because I've absorbed the dim memory of our society about what it means to be here, in this place, with this death that feels like the death of our dreams, when we see the smoke billowing around it, blowing it all into something worse than hell: oblivion. But that's just the way it seems at first; in reality, what it did was leave fragments everywhere. Fragments of what it means that those seven people knew this could happen, knew very well that it could all literally go up in smoke, and yet, they did it anyway. It will be a sad day in our memory, but it's also a day when we had the opportunity to witness and celebrate true boldness, which we're so rarely given the opportunity to do.

We went about our day, shopping mostly, looking for bookcases. NPR was on the radio though, so bits kept creeping in. We saw Adaptation. We ate Chinese food. We didn't have to talk about it, because we understood. Today is the day something horrible happened and the only thing we can do is go on with our lives. That's as it should be. It may have looked and felt like dreams dying, like the future raining down amid smoke, but it wasn't. It was just the proof that we still have those dreams, that there are still people willing to risk it all for them.

Saturday may have been the only day this year when the words of my President didn't make me angry, or bitter, or ashamed for this country. Even he understood, immediately. What we do now is remember and go on, and hope.

It makes me proud that the flags outside my office building are at half-mast.

# # #

Sorry if that was a little over-the-top, painful or preachy. It's out of my system now, I promise. The strangest coincidence of the day was reading a Say... submission that deals with space travel and death, which had come in that morning's mail.

Adaptation. I liked it. I didn't love it and it failed me in the end. Christopher didn't really care for it much; found it too hamhanded in execution. I think they did what they set out to do, and yet, in making their point they lost the emotional involvement that the first two-thirds of the movie set up. Which is a shame. When you sacrifice that to make a point about engaging the audience, well, point made but audience disappointed. Still, worthwhile and there's some truly funny stuff and I admire Charlie Kaufman's audacity in writing the script and turning it in and the studio's in making it. It was better than I thought it would be, but not as good as I'd hoped. If that makes any sense.

And, also, we're organizing all our books and discovering lots of doubles. If you post witty things in the comments here (and include your e-mail address), I'll mail you a book or CD from the doubles grab bag. We have to do something with them, so why not this?