shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


item! item! items!

Christopher and I realized that watching the Tour de France is like going on a vacation or having another job -- all extra activities that need to get done are displaced. We're both looking forward to Sunday's final ride into Paris with a little bit of relief, I think. There's no way I could follow it if it lasted more than three weeks. None of this, of course, should dissuade you from ensuring access to the Outdoor Life Network next year. Le Tour is one of the few epics that plays out on a regular basis, after all.

The book revisions were going swimmingly during the Tour's first week, but have languished since... Which is to say that I may be posting less next week as I make the final, mad dash to finish said revisions. I'm giddy with the thought. We'll see.

Today things:

1. Rake's Progress links to a new contest that Powell's is running and excerpts Michael Cunningham's thoughts on reading genre fiction (and in particular the revelation of several great SF books) from these author pieces on the Powell's site. (I'm not linking to the Powell's contest because this way you have to go to RP to get there. Well, or straight to Powell's.)

2. Maud linked to this fascinating behind-the-scenes piece in the Telegraph about the quiet controversy that surrounded the discovery of St. Exupery's plane and conjecture that he may have committed suicide rather than having been shot down. There is one lone voice putting forward the theory that nobody wants to discuss. Bernard Mark, an aviation historian, has suggested that the most likely cause of Saint Exupéry's death is suicide. "Eight days before his last mission he had hinted that he was thinking of suicide," he says. "He was spotted by German fighters over Turin, who were intrigued to see that he didn't vary his course: he let them come. Saint Exupéry even said himself that he saw them arrive; he turned his rear-view mirror and waited for them. In the end the Germans left."

St-Ex has been sold to the French public as a kind of superman - pilot, patriot and literary genius all rolled into one. The truth seems rather different. Luc Vanrell believes that if St-Ex did fly his plane straight into the Mediterranean that bright morning, it would be wrong to blame him.

"St-Ex was a flyer about to have his wings taken away, and he was subjected to intolerable bullying by politicians. If he chose to end his life that way, I think it was an honourable and courageous death. I'd say he couldn't have chosen a lovelier place. He lies in turquoise waters off one of the wildest and most beautiful coastlines in France."

The story's worth a look. I finally googled enough to figure out the book about him I'd been meaning to search out is Saint Exupery: A Biography by Stacy Schiff, newly translated to English a couple of years ago.

3. I've been thinking lately about how the new PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth albums both seem to encapsulate all the best parts of their music -- the PJ Harvey is both raw and produced, the Sonic Youth is dissonant and resonant.

4. David Moles excavates an old Cory Doctorow post about saying people have too much time on their hands that's worth checking out. (Ed. note: Although sometimes people really do have too much time on their hands.)

5. USA Today ran a story on the heirarchy of podium girls at the Tour yesterday. (Via TdF blog.) There is a distinct pecking order in the world of professional kissers. At the top of the heap are the women of Credit Lyonnaise, an international banking firm that has long been the sponsor of the yellow jersey.

The yellow-jersey women are models first, but they also perform other duties, such as passing out newspapers to journalists in the Tour village, escorting celebrities and assisting with the prerace rider sign-in ceremony.

It hardly seems fair that George Hincapie's podium girl-friend got fired for fraternizing with him, but then, I guess he's a pretty good consolation prize. (Dreaming of the day when George wears yellow...)

6. There's a new review of "Say...why aren't we crying?" at Tangent online, which makes some interesting points and is overall very positive. (I'd link to it, but it's still premium content.) It's nice for someone to notice that thus far our magazine tends more toward actual SF than slipstream work (though we're fine with both and would love to see more mainstream or edge-country stories). We're open to all kinds of good fiction though, especially from new writers, and are currently reading (until Sept. 1) for the fall issue, "Say...have you heard this one?", so send us some stuff. Our guidelines are here. Write me if you have questions.

7. Re: the article that's making the rounds about the virtue of memorizing poetry, and which OGIC and Maud have both structured excellent posts around. I'd have to think hard about what poems I might have tucked away in my own memory, but I'll never forget being flabbergasted at the dinner table one night when my dad busted out with "Thanatopsis" in its entirety, remembered precisely from his own school days decades earlier. My jaw still drops when I think about it. It was one of those moments where someone you know so well, have known every day for your whole life, completely surprises you with this little secret.

8. Have you wished Mr. Barzak happy birthday yet?

worm "Broken Bottle," Sally Timms and Jon Langford

namecheck Alex "Twin-pa" Irvine


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