shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


another thing worth reading on the intarweb

The Internet Review of Science Fiction's latest issue is up and you can still register for free through November of this year. This month features a stellar interview with Ellen Datlow by Slush God John Joseph Adams and a WorldCon report from the Mumpsimus's Matthew Cheney. An excerpt from his section on different panels he attended, wherein James Patrick Kelly gets critiqued:

Here, seated at a long table and looking disarmingly friendly, Steven Popkes, James Cambias, F. Brett Cox, Theodora Goss, Kelly Link, and Vandana Singh tore apart a new story by James Patrick Kelly. The ostensible purpose was to demonstrate how the Cambridge (Mass.) Writers' Workshop actually functions, because the workshops are usually private and for invited writers only, so the public does not get to witness the carnage. Each writer had read the story and written comments. Theodora Goss began, saying, "You know I like your writing, Jim, but this particular story seemed to me to have a lot of problems. I think it's really two stories, neither of which you've actually written, and one of which is really boring and cliched." And so it continued, with each respondent diving deeper and deeper into the marrow of the tale, surfacing to spit out chunks of flesh and word.

I am proud of the fact that I didn't cackle once. You see, I've lived through many workshops, some of which were far more brutalizing than what the Cambridge folks did to Jim Kelly, and Jim himself has offered me excellent and incisive criticism in the past. But I've never had the chance to see someone who is an accomplished, experienced, multiple-award-winning writer have his work torn apart and put back together again so thoroughly. It was better than professional wrestling, better than monster trucks.

Reading about other people's critiques is fun.

people who really are right about the whole ball of

Terri Brown-Davidson, author of Marie, Marie Hold Tight, posting at Moorish Girl has some excellent thoughts on writing as vocation. This sentence in particular rolls around in my head:

Storytelling itself is a way to uncover the sacred in everyday acts.

I once heard John Kessel say that being a writer is a holy calling.

I think they're both right.

Aussie vs. Texan on the radio

The fantabulous Ms. Justine Larbalestier (who I owe an email telling just how delicious I found the first installment of her young adult trilogy -- which you should preorder on Amazon NOW) sends the following news of a radio appearance:

This Saturday me and Scott will be interviewed for two hours for the Hour of the Wolf program on WBAI in New York City. Perversely it's on at a MUCH better time for Australians than for USians (though who listens to the radio on a Saturday night?). I include both sets of information on the off chance that some of the USians have insomnia Friday night/Saturday morning and/or there are Aussies with nothing better to do.

Saturday, 2 October 2004,
5AM-7AM (NYC time)
7PM-9PM (Eastern Coast of Australia time)

Hour of the Wolf,WBAI 99.5 FM

For those not in NYC:Live streaming is available here:

But you'll need a real player to access it:

Any chance it will be archived?

win a book, get lost

I first learned about the Lost Books Club started by filmmaker and fanatic reader Mark Moskowitz to keep the spirit of The Stone Reader going from Tingle Alley (who has several great archived posts concerning The Stone Reader). Moskowitz is running a competition for the next ten days, which you can access via the Lost Books Club website or by signing up for the mailing. From the contest description:

For the next 10 days, starting right now (days do not start at 12:01 am, they start whenever I turn my computer on in the morning or afternoon or whenever), the first ten people replying with their name, address, zip, or whatever shipping address they want (friend’s, mother’s, etc.) will get a complimentary copy of this new lost book shipped to that address, with a bonus goodie. So, if you got this late today, you can still try tomorrow, or the next, or the next. Warning, as a condition of entering, we’ll post the winners names on the website, (unless you plead with us not to, in which case we will post it and say you pled with us not to) so you know there is no funny business (like I hoard all the copies and wait until it is lost again and sell them on the meta-data-ethereal-timeline-ebay of the future). Disclaimer: All rules for this contest are nowhere else to be found and are at my discretion and, at the moment, exist only in my head.

The new lost book will be announced October 5. I personally had no desire to read The Stones of Summer, but am always up for a free book.

notes from a simpler time

...when the pols drank whiskey, rather than making you have to climb into the bottle to forget they exist. All hail George Washington, King of Whiskey.:

Whiskey makers love George Washington. To them, the Father of Our Country wasn't just America's first president, he was also the first ex-president to get into the whiskey-making business in a big way. And the folks at the Distilled Spirits Council think America ought to know a lot more about that.

That's why DISCUS, as the council calls itself, is funding the $1.5 million reconstruction of Washington's 1797 Mount Vernon distillery, to be completed in 2006. It's also why DISCUS summoned the history- and/or whiskey-loving media to Mount Vernon on Tuesday to announce that Washington's distillery will be the crown jewel of the new 'American Whiskey Trail,' a loose collection of whiskey-related tourist sites in several states.

Mmmm, whiskey. And we're still TV-less so we'll just have to drink lots of it and stare at the wall imagining The Great Debate, relying on the coverage of The Liberal Media for interpretation. Prolly better that way.

Or maybe we'll go with bourbon. 's better.

Update: We'll be watching from The Rosebud, the writing group's favorite waterhole where we had a few too many just last night (but hey, I love that van Gogh absinthe wine glass). Anyone in the neighborhood should join.


it really is one of the best things on TV, people

I'm not kidding when I say that. Norman Mailer's going to guest on Gilmore Girls later this season. (Via the ever-fabulous Maud Newton, whose thoughts about the interior lives of characters in fiction from yesterday are worth seeking out.)

According to the Hollywood Reporter article, it started as a never-gonna-happen:

"It was one of those pie-in-the-sky kind of things," Sherman-Palladino, "Gilmore" creator/executive producer, says of her literary casting coup. "We broke this little story about a writer coming into the inn, and we just kept joking, 'We'll get Norman Mailer,' and then by the time we finished it, it was like, 'Well, now it has to be Norman Mailer.' "

Mailer's "people" initially turned down "Gilmore's" overture, telling them that he'd "never" do such a guest-shot, Sherman-Palladino says. But through a staffer's personal connection to Stephen Mailer, they got the script to the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Naked and the Dead" and "Armies of the Night," and he was soon on a plane headed for the "Gilmore" set on Warner Bros.' Burbank lot.

The Gilmore Girls is the most literate show on TV, and it's funny as hell despite that. Unhappy sigh at missing tonight's episode. If anyone local tapes it for me, I'll be their best friend.


we shall not be moved

Hello, I'm alive. No, really. Promise. I can't vouch for Mr. Rowe, who rode a century on his bicycle yesterday, whilst I directed movers and unpacked boxes, but I think he'll live to fight another day.

I have to tell you what happens when you procrastinate on calling and arranging for things to be tranfered and switched and stuff. Power, check, they deal with procastinators all the time -- no sweat. Water, again, check, procrastinator's delight. Phone -- well, not so much. TV, which is going to "come from space" as the first Dish Network guy we had when we tried to free ourselves from the slavish overlords of Insight Cable told us -- dependent on the phone. Internet -- also, dependent on the phone. I hope you're catching my drift. So, what I learned is, we're probably going to get lots of boxes unpacked this week, with no Intarweb, phone or TV. (You can call Christopher's cell if you're desperate and email will doubtless be checked once a day regardless.) (I could have said irregardless, but that would have just made you want to pull out your hair, so...)

Have I mentioned how wonderful the new house is? Pictures to follow at some point (and here I insert a parenthetical grrrrowl to Blogger for stopping picture hosting and um, vamoosing all previously hosted pictures, suddenly, with no warning whatsoever. Great customer service, guys! I'd complain in person but I can't ever get your complaint/problem system to work and you don't have a customer support email address!), especially of George being lord of his little fenced in yard. He is very happy, is George the Dog. This morning I chased him barefoot in my Greek Goddess/1970s drapery/Accordian night gown (it is all things to all people, this night gown o mine) as he decided to investigate the neighbors' yard and then streak down the middle of the two houses toward destiny and freedom!

Anyway, lots of boxes. Probably not much of interest here until the weekend and then I'll be in Boston from Sunday to Wednesday. Speaking of which, the people I know who live in or near Boston are traveling or not there, so if I've forgotten that you live in Boston and you'd like to entertain me briefly for a meal or coffee or a movie, or alternately, have suggestions for things I must/should/have to do -- please write ( My schedule's sort of up in the air, but there are gapables to be filled.

That's all for now, except to say that I am happy to note that another Southern Blogger Cabal meeting took place and, once again, no members were arrested. Carry on, Cabalers.


quick hit

Busy IdeaFestival-ing for the next couple of days (and um, yes, moving!). Tomorrow night we go hear Twyla Tharp speak, tonight we missed Oliver Sacks, but managed to pack all the fiction section of our library.

Christopher and I got to grab a rare lunch together at the public library cafe today and chortled so loudly I thought we'd be expelled over this, sent by Mr. McLaren.

I highly suggest you go there now.


another imaginary library

(Not that you can have too many.) As soon as I mentioned the Interstitial Arts, I happened upon news of the Interstitial Library (via Coalescent, via Dora Goss).

What's an Interstitial Library you ask? Well, there's a handy FAQ:

What is the Interstitial Library?

The Interstitial Library is that infinite collection of books–obscure, lost, or not yet written–that belong in the spaces between the books on a library shelf.

Where is the Interstitial Library? Can I visit it?

The Interstitial Library is located in the Interstitial States–labyrinthine passages outside ordinary space-time. Visitors are welcome.

How do I get to it?

Generally, by sliding between two books on your bookshelf, or by correctly pronouncing the word "hh."

What is the Interstitial Library’s Circulating Collection?

The Interstitial Library’s Circulating Collection is a mobile library of interstitial books. Its holdings are dispersed around the world (potentially, the universe), in private collections, used bookstores, junk shops, garbage heaps, etc.

And should you be wondering what an interstitial book is, the answer is delightful.

An interstitial book is one that falls between categories defined by the standard guide to library cataloguing, the AACR2R (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Revised). This may be for a variety of reasons. For example, because it lies between accepted genres or disciplines; because it is notable for qualities not often recognized as intrinsic (such as smell or taste); or because it does not yet exist, no longer exists, or is entirely imaginary. Many, but not all interstitial books are obscure: some canonical books are interstitial, while some may become interstitial by association. Please see our cataloguing guidelines for details.

UPDATED: Note that since I am so busy I apparently don't comprehend what I read anymore, I completely forgot to notice this is a project of that Queen of Hypertext Shelley Jackson, which explains why it rocks. This came to my attention over at the always wonderful Little Toy Robot.


the real dreams of a sleeping girl

The cover image for Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's debut novel Madeleine is Sleeping couldn't have been more perfectly chosen, and I don't say that just because it's why I picked up the book. It's one of Lewis Carroll's photographs from the Princeton archive, but not one of the Alices, nothing so obvious. The picture is "St. George and the Dragon," of Xie Kitchin and her three brothers.

Symmetry between a book and its cover rarely happens as it does with this one. In fact, I began to doubt almost immediately whether the book could live up to the promises of the cover and then the flap copy -- gypsy circuses, pornographers, fat women sprouting wings and all of it (or most of it) being dreamed by the sleeping Madeleine. I was promised the ethereal, the comic AND the poignant. Scariest of all, perhaps, was the use of the word "sexuality" in tandem with the phrase "discovery of." Typically, this sort of lead-in indicates a type of book which I find embarrassing for the person who wrote it.

It had solid blurbage -- not a measure of quality, but occasionally decisive -- the rapturous one by Z.Z. Packer* selling the hardest.

Best of all, really, really, best of all -- when you are crushed with life and moving and all of that -- it had deliciously short, tiny pearl chapters. A page, a page and a half. The type was not small. This was to be my salvation, this book of tiny chapters and gypsy circuses that I could mete out over the chaos.

I finished it in less than 24 hours.

The plot is deceptively simple: Madeleine is sleeping, we swim in her dreams and plod through her reality never quite sure that the line dividing the two isn't blurring and reforming at the same time. Honestly, there aren't many writers who can sell me an erotic -- and sweet -- fascination with le Petomane, a major subplot.

But Madeleine is Sleeping is an unusual, beautiful book. The lyricism and structural experimentation actually manages to tell a coherent, while still perfectly surreal, story. And, as Packer's blurb claims, it's like a mystery. A beautiful page-turner; which is, if I'm honest, what I'm almost always looking for in a book. This one reminds me of the best of Jeannette Winterson and of some of my favorite works by Angela Carter. Of Calvino and, the tiniest bit, of Steven Erickson. Of Anne Duffy's poetry. Of nothing else in particular.

(Note to Interstitial Arts people, this one's for you.)

*Packer's blurb: "Sarah Shun-lien Bynum's incredible debut novel is by turns magical, uncanny, fabulistic, and luminous. Most of all it is a haunting, genre-breaking novel with all the narrative energy of a mystery yet all the careful lyricism of a prose poem. Ultimately Madeleine Is Sleeping is a novel-length feast which is meant to be both celebrated and savored."

danger danger

There is a baby possum peering in our window right now.

Go away, baby possum!

waves, hides

Well, my excuses aren't nearly as good as, say, CAAF's for being down and out. Though there is part of me that envies the chic revisionist-medieval flashlight reading. The wireless is still invisibly hiding from my computer and we're in the midst of packing to move this coming weekend. Not to mention the hundred other things that are going on.

I wish I had time to talk about the weekend, including the mostly unbelievably painful Kentuckians Reading Kentuckians event at the Janice Holt Giles house. It was a beautiful day though, and the Giles house is always a lovely place to visit. Many people were shilling books out of their trunks. I had no idea one could get an entire chapter out of someone desperately needing to pee. (And she was with a real publisher.)

But. But. But. There's no time and I appear to have a cold/nasty sinus infection/can't breathe little men standing on eardrums infestation sort of thing going on. Visit those rascals to the right and let them amuse you. If all goes well, the phone lines for the new place will be up and running by this time next week. There may be more before then, but there may not.


If you've submitted something to Say...have you heard this one? you will hear back from us, hopefully by October 15 at the very, very latest. We beg your forgiveness on being even slower than usual with our responses, but with the moving, we must be realistic.

Also, we beg the forgiveness of those who've yet to receive thank you cards from us for a lovely gift. They're coming.


good reviews and news

The news being that the terrible, vexing problem with web access may be fixed (or at least work-aroundable), so I'll be making my way through the huge backlog in the inbox and hopefully updating a bit here. I want to post about the wonderful book Madeleine is Sleeping, that I picked up from the library based on its cover and read in one night. And other things, there are always other things.

Quickly though, Matthew Cheney is burning up the 'sphere lately, with excellent discussions of both Christopher's and Richard Butner's Small Beer chapbooks. Not to mention digging up Jeff Ford's reflections on what John Gardner was like as a teacher. Read, read, read.

More soon. Ish.


technically difficult

The invisible computer network isn't networking and so no email or blog posting (except for this) until it resolves itself and starts acting right.


a short interview with the tall & talented Scott Westerfeld

Since I'm in the midst of interviewapaschmooza (see Kelly Link convo at Return of the Reluctant), I thought it'd be fun to talk to one of my other most Superfriendy, generous, talented writery types: Mr. Scott Westerfeld. His new young adult novel So Yesterday was released last week and launched the new Razorbill imprint at Penguin. Of course, I was too lazy to do this interview myself so a Mysterious Ghost Interviewer was kind enough to do it for me. Enjoy. (And make sure you purchase So Yesterday for yourself and all your loved ones, along with all Scott's other books. If you've been missing Buffy, you're going to love Midnighters.)

Q: What’s the book in a nutshell?

A: So Yesterday is about a “cool-hunter,” one of those kids who gets paid by corporations to spot new trends on the street. He sits in on focus groups, opines about ads before they air, and takes pictures of how other kids are tying their shoes. He’s a bit conflicted about his profession, but can’t turn down the cash and the free music-players. So when he stumbles across a plot to end consumerism as we know it, he’s not sure which side he’s on.

Q: “End consumerism as we know it”? Who’s going to manage that?

A: They’re called the Jammers, a secret organization of renegade cool-types, sort of a cross between Ad-Busters and Dr. No. They want to disrupt the sacred bond between consumers and products, to wrest control of the cool pyramid from giant corporations.

Q: What the hell is the “cool pyramid”?

A: It’s how cool happens. Innovators are the eyeball on the top. They make things change, invent new stuff. Below them are the
Trend-Spotters, like my protag, who spot cool on the street and spread it. Then the First Adopters, who see it in a cool magazine. And on the bottom, the lowly Consumers--they buy it in the mall.

Q: What are the cool parts of the book?

A: There’s a spoonerism-inducing videotape, wi-fi-equipped cameras, Hello-Kitty toasters, and a chase scene in the Museum of Natural History. Not to mention a missing Nike spokesperson, a whirlwind romance between my protag and an Innovator, and the world’s coolest shoe. How cool is that?

Q: So, Scott, are you cool?

A: Damn straight. Just ask any of my science fiction writer friends. They’ll say I am.


See Scott's bio at his fabulous website here.


poor little rich girl

Ana Marie Cox writes one of the most delicious reviews I've read in ages in this week's NYT: of Kristin Gore's new chick lit/D.C. hybrid Sammy's Hill. (Title note: they won't even have to change the name for the porn version.)

In one climactic scene, Sammy's passions explode into a lengthy soliloquy before her boss: ''The current laws in the United States prevent anybody except the manufacturer from importing prescription drugs,'' she declares. ''However, law enforcement has long turned a blind eye to Americans returning from Canada with supplies of the prescription drugs that they've procured there for half the price they would pay in the U.S. And in the last few years, several independent operators. . . .'' Say one thing about Kristin Gore: she is her father's daughter.

So much more fun than reading this book would be.

usually the places don't exist

Sometimes in dreams, I book tickets or make plans for trips, usually under spurious circumstances. Months later, it will be time to take whatever trip has been planned, though it usually comes as a surprise.

Last night, we* went to Paris to visit Richard and Barb, who’d managed to set up a house with lots of crooked angles and winding staircases, even though we only left them in Raleigh a few days ago. This trip – I vaguely remember – was the result of a dream where someone’s sister convinced us we should really go to Paris soon. I don’t know whose sister she is, or maybe only know her and not the person she’s related to. She was supposed to meet us when we got there, but didn’t show. So, we visited Richard and Barb instead.

The Paris in my dreams isn’t anything like the real one – it’s maybe a Paris of the Future (like a House of the Future, or a Car of the Future). You arrive on a multi-tiered track of trains. There are freestanding glass elevators shooting skyward all over the place. All the buildings have architecture that’s new rather than old. Excellent shops are rumored to exist, but we can never seem to find them.

In this particular dream, we’d forgotten we were to go there until someone reminded us the night before (it wasn’t the sister). We dashed and took the type of airplane in my dreams – more of a rotating lounge with mood lighting. It turned out that because of the hurry, I’d forgotten to tell the people at work. The dream was situated in real time (they aren’t always) and so my Monday morning meeting was going to be a shambles and no one would understand why I hadn’t shown up (the discovery that I’d been in Paris would be disastrous – it’s a completely unacceptable reason to miss a meeting without warning!); I was worried I’d lose my job. But there are no phones in the Paris of the future. None that we could afford to use.

It cast a cloud over the first couple of days of our stay. As did waiting for someone’s sister to show up, and the fact I’d forgotten to bring the sparkly pink shampoo.

I call it: reality intrudes.

* The use of we here always indicates Christopher and me, unless otherwise noted.

worm ""Won't Be Home," Old 97's

namecheck Clint "Trapped in a Car" Hadden


ken jennings ken jennings ken jennings sequel

Editor's Note: The Associated Press provided this story to news outlets, and gives details below. If you'd prefer to not know anything, stop reading now.

If you don't want to know, do not click and go back under your rock. Now we can access the accuracy of the conspiracy theory posted here.

stop the presses.

Okay, so I probably couldn't fit into it, but whoever buys me June Carter Cash's "Faux Leopard Car Coat" I'll marry.



Still, isn't it wonderful?

ooh, ahhh, has quentin tarantino heard about this?

You know that the blog is languishing when people start sending you charity links. (Yes, yes, I know that's -- in most cases -- not what these were.) Sorry for the absenteeism and the unanswered emails. This weekend all will be caught up with; many emails will be answered, as if by magic, and items will be added to the registry (who knew?). And thanks for the happy thoughts and congratulations from all the recently returned from Worldcon folks. Just think, our anniversary will coincide with Worldcon every year. And they say science fiction is dead.

Anyway, Mr. Butner of Raleigh, sends the coolest thing ever, a link to the Sotheby's auction of items from the estate of Johnny and June Carter Cash. The Mother Maybelle handbag is almost affordable. (And very classy.) An inscribed photo of Elvis to June. Johnny's collection of barbed wire. William Morris contracts. Christopher thinks they should put all this stuff in a museum and I think he's right -- but only because I can't afford to buy any of it.

Christopher (really, really languishing) sends an article about comics blogs from Comic Book Resources that's got lots of interesting stuff in it.

And, last but not least, Hem's new album Eveningland will be released October 5th! There are SIX free mp3's available IF you pre-order. And T-shirts. All people, be merry.

worm "Jackson," Hem

namecheck Justine "Dealicious" Larbalestier (I couldn't help it, really...)


fuzzy math for writers

Scalzi and the Worldcon Friends in Bar Co. propose a more realistic deal scale for Publisher's Lunch (via Participant in Genius, Justine Larbalestier):

So, after another round of beers, this is what we came up with.

$0 to $3,000: A Shitty Deal. Because that's what it is, my friends. Possibly the only thing worse than a shitty deal is no deal at all. Possibly.

$3,000 to $5,000: A Contemptible Deal. The deal you get when your publisher has well and truly got your number, and it is low.

$5,000 to $10,000: A 'Meh' Deal. It's not great, you know. But you can pay some bills. Get a few of these, and a tolerant spouse with a regular income, and you can tell your day job to piss off. This year, anyway.

$10,000 to $20,000: A Not Bad Deal. Note that 'not bad' here should be said with a slight appreciative rise of the eyebrows and a small approving nod -- this is the level at which the money begins to look not embarrassing both to writers and non-writers. A couple of these, and you'll definitely be punting the day job (I did, anyway).

$20,000 to $100,000: A 'Shut Up!' Deal. This needs to be said in the same enviously admiring vocal tone as a teenage girl might use to her girlfriend who is showing off the delicious new pumps she got at Robinsons-May for 30% off, or the vocal tone (same idea, lower register) Jim Kelly used when one of our number admitted to having at least a couple of deals in this range. With this kind of money, you don't even need a supportive spouse to avoid the Enforced Top Ramen Diet (although, you know. Having one doesn't hurt). But it's not so much that the other writers actively begin to hate you.

$100,000 and above: 'I'm Getting the Next Round.' Because if you're at this level, you can buy and sell all the other writers at the table. Get 'em a friggin' beer, for God's sake (ironically, this is the only level not thought up at the bar, but in the cold hard light of the next morning, by Shara Zoll).

Hee. Almost makes me wish I'd been at Worldcon, but then Weddingcon was so much fun and there was only a teensy weensy bit of publishing talk.


want. lubitsch. peep. show.

Not necessarily in that order.

In 2000 the National Film Preservation Foundation released "Treasures From American Film Archives," a three-disc collection of rarities preserved by film archives ranging from the Library of Congress to regional historical societies. The follow-up volume, "More Treasures From American Film Archives," which arrives in stores today, is even more impressive than the dazzling first effort. This collection of some 50 films from 1894 to 1931 covers the evolution of American film from peep show novelty to an art form of the highest sophistication.

Though the new volume contains several features - including the Museum of Modern Art's magnificent preservation of Ernst Lubitsch's 1925 "Lady Windermere's Fan," one of the supreme achievements of silent film - the collection aims to expand beyond narrative filmmaking, including newsreels, industrial films, early experiments in color and sound, avant-garde shorts (like Robert Florey's Léger-like portrait of Manhattan, "Skyscraper Symphony") and home movie clips.

siesta with book

Vanessa Hartmann writes in the NYT about her family's travels with books. As someone who always brings along either too many or not enough, I can relate*:

The first page is like a sigh of relief, the typeset a familiar face in a country of steamy jungle scenery and relentlessly picturesque beaches. While alcoholics hide behind their bottles, my family retreats behind well-glued bindings and Times New Roman fonts when we can't take in any more of the view. I tear through the Alvarez greedily all evening, straining my eyes in the dull yellow light of the generator-fed lamp only to realize at the end, having already finished the two other books, that there is nothing left to read.

We return to San José for a day before going to the cloud forests of Monteverde. As we walk around the discount shopping district, we look for a bookstore between shoes and fake leather purses. My mother is walking while consulting the travel guide, trying to find the address of the one English bookstore that's mentioned, but neither the buildings nor the blocks are numbered in San José, and the streets are rarely named. My brother is angry because we aren't walking fast enough. My father is annoyed that we aren't asking anyone where it is, and my mother desperately needs an interesting book. I am jonesing for print, preferably fine and tightly spaced. I need a classic, something epic, something Russian.

I spent most of my childhood "missing it," whatever it happened to be outside the window -- we were always in cars, on vacation or on the way to school or on the way to a doctor or to shop, the closest of these things being an hour and a half away. Also, I was in danger of going blind. (Because reading in cars makes you go blind, you know.)

Later, I'd grow up and wonder what the odds were I'd really be arrested for not declaring properly on the duty form -- would they confiscate my books, champagne and single malt whiskey? These three being the holy triumvirate of Things Worth Bringing Back. (I'd discarded SHOES to make room, which is no small thing.) Has it ever crossed my mind to travel somewhere just to buy books that you couldn't (then) find in America? Yes, and now I miss the making of a list--these are the books I will find while I'm here, or there. It's all a click away. But it's nice to know that stranding without books still occurs. It makes me more cautious.

Two months ago I was stuck in the D.C. airport with one chapter left to read in Andrea Seigel's book (hoarded until 1 a.m. when I broke down and read it) and a fistful of bad magazines, the worst I could stomach reading. There. Was. No. Book. Store. Accessible.

Talk about miserable. I almost had to write.

That will never happen again.

* Except, of course, for the high browness of it all. If my family had been seeking out a vacay bookspot, it would have been for paperback romances and westerns (mom and dad, but same difference really, if you've ever read them), and the Stephen King novels would have been in high supply, serving both my brother and me.

UPDATED: See the incomparable Jimmy Beck on this piece at Old Hag. Much envy and glee provoked.

ah, the suburban art project

Apparently, Arlington County can't believe that there's a nude mermaid made of tree swimming in a couple's front yard (so not homeowner's association approved). I can't believe the wood artist they hired to make the thing gets $300 a foot and that a wife is encouraging her husband's deciduous breast fetish, but, that's life.

Speaking of large, how about those breasts? he is asked.

"Nancy had told me she wanted her well-endowed," Dustin says. "I said the way the tree had grown, I didn't think she'd be big-chested. . . . When I realized she was going to be rather large, I intended to have her hair fall over her nipples."

The Jacksons -- make that Paul Jackson -- pressed for full torso nudity, arguing that because she is turned partly toward the house, the breasts wouldn't be that noticeable from the street. "And let's subtly put some nipples in there because everybody has nipples," he told Dustin. (Subtle is the operative word; the nipples are not much bigger than a quarter.)

As a conciliatory gesture to the Banikas family, whose view is second-best to his own, Paul Jackson inquired of Bob Banikas, as the project neared the end, whether the breasts should be reduced a bit.

"Don't touch them!" Banikas replied. "They're my inspiration in the morning!"

Banikas sees the lady in his rearview mirror on weekdays when he backs his Hummer H2 out of the garage. "Then I'm ready to go face my day no matter what happens," he says.

Of course, Banikas has ruffled some feathers of his own in the neighborhood, driving his maroon Hummer. Drivers have shouted at him; some have given him the bird, and we don't mean the kind perched on the mermaid's outstretched hand. It would seem that neither his tank nor the sea creature next door are "the Arlington way." The Malibu way, maybe.

things seen along the road

First, thanks to everyone who posted and emailed (and phoned!) your congratulations. We are very happy and your good wishes only make us more so.

Of course, we're also kind of zombies at this point. We're not above accepting gifts and are registered here.

Quickly, quickly, with the promise of more to come. Our trip home was much improved by the traditional SBC tossing of fire batons in Asheville with CAAF. I also can't say enough about how satellite radio improves a trip. We were both nearly unconscious when we had the idea to switch over to the talk channels. The listener call-ins of rabid, slightly insane scuba people during the Radio Times conversation with Robert Kurson about his book SHADOW DIVERS: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II may have saved our lives. Not to mention Terry Gross's rebroadcast of this Fresh Air interview with Ricky Gervais of The Office. Oh, and Derek on Sirius OutQ's hypothesis that presidents should be judged by whether they interrupt popular TV shows on a regular basis with their speeches (Bush apparently does this; Clinton did not).


just married


it took an hour, maybe a day

Well, ahem. I apologize for the extraordinarily lackluster content around these here parts this week. Much has been done. I finished this run through on the book and now it goes to my writing group and then it goes to people who might buy or sell it. And that was the quietest achievement of the week, the least stressful, and the one about which I made the littlest fuss.

Moving. Fairly soon.

Packed. More than.

Oh yes, we're off on a road trip this weekend, to parts secrety. You WorldCon kids have fun in Boston. We'll tell all when we return. Or some, anyway.


barbara bush has sex?!


The Bush twins apparently turned in a, um, memorable performance last night at the RNC, throwing out flat jokes all over the place. But really, grandma's sex life?:

But Jenna went on: 'Gammie, we love you dearly, but you're just not very hip. She thinks 'Sex and the City' is something married people do, but never talk about.' There was an uncomfortable tittering in the room.

I'll bet there was.

running with blades

The ever alert and always entertaining David Moles alerted me from the road about Combustible Celluloid's wonderful, wide-ranging interview with screenwriter (now also a director) Hampton Fancher, in which he talks extensively about Blade Runner.

The "Blade Runner" experience from its origin was an attempt to try and get above ground, and get in the club. I didn't know it, but I guess I was approaching it on my own obscure level, thinking that I was making something commercial. 'This is science fiction--people will flock to see this.' Of course, I had themes I was working with that I loved and I was intrigued with. But still I thought of it as a commercial venture. And it wasn't. It was a flop, and it didn't work, and people didn't like it, and it made no money. But the script, my original scripts for it were, at one point, we lost all our money and the film was going to go down the tubes. They hustled my script, my fifth or sixth draft, out to all the studios in Hollywood. And so everybody read it. I mean, important people read it, in terms of studio honchos. So all of a sudden Hampton Fancher was... 'Oh, this guy's a great writer--I thought he was just a bad actor.' It worked. I was flavor of the month for about two years. It was great for confidence building. You make a little money, and people like you, and they want you to come meet them in rooms and offer you things.

He dishes about how he found out that David Peoples' had been brought in to do some rewrites by Ridley Scott.

I didn't know about it. That was a secret, because I wasn't cooperating with Ridley. I think if Ridley had said, 'listen asshole, if you don't cooperate, I'm going to bring somebody in who will,' I probably would have hit him in the mouth and left. And he probably knew that, so he didn't tell me. And it was in pre-production that it happened. When I did find out it was Christmas, and we were having a dinner. Ridley wasn't there. It was a producer on the film. And I sat down to eat, and all of a sudden the script's in front of me. I just opened it, and I saw something I didn't understand. I turned a page and I saw something I did understand because I wrote it, and then another page, and it's like, 'what is this!' And he said, 'I told you.' I stood up, holding my face because I didn't want to cry. I was so devastated. And I walked out. And I said, 'fuck everybody!'. I came back at the end, because they called me. They needed something for the rooftop scene. They just had a couple days to shoot and they wanted me to look at rushes. I came back and I wrote some stuff for them. I hated the dailies. They sold this film down the tubes. It's not gonna work. It's not anything like I wanted. I'm looking for a man who's trying to find his conscience, and all of a sudden we've got shootouts. I was furious. I called my agent and I said, 'I want my name off this film!' And he said, 'that's going to be hard.'

And, of course, he changed his mind when the WGA actually decided not to credit him -- and David Peoples' stepped in and showed his class and made sure Fancher got credited and they became good friends. (A happy rewrite story; one exists!)

Anyway, the whole thing is fascinating.

(DM found via John Holbo.)

worm "The Sound of Settling," Death Cab for Cutie

namecheck RD "Belated Birthday" Hall