shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


new favorite blog

Crazy Jane, who I mentioned yesterday when I was talking about Daily Peloton, HAS A BLOG!

(This will not become the all Le Tour all the time blog, I promise, but this is very exciting!)

A taste:

My friends, I love the Tour de France. It may be that this will be received with eyerolling by some of my more usual readers who don't really give a rat's ass whether or not Lance Armstrong wins an unprecedented 6 consecutive Tours de France, and stands in front of the Arc de Triomphe looking like a lycra clad astronaught as the greatest Tour rider of all time, or if he is beaten by another worthy contender; but here at Crazy Jane's International Project Headquarters, there will likely be long-winded and rhapsodic obeisances made as I follow the events that will soon unfold in France with what I can only admit will be rabid enthusiasm. Brace yourselves, my dear readers.

My predictions: Lance Armstrong will win by minutes. His usual and most dangerous rival, German diesel Jan Ullrich, will ride like a stud and a sportsman, and will have long, bronzed legs; but I fear he will be outgunned by Tyler Hamilton, provided New England's king of pain management avoids breaking any bones. My podium picks: Lance, Tyler, Jan. Alessandro Petacchi will punk that little Napoleonic brat Robbie McEwen on the line every single day in the sprints, but the big Italian will likely be broken by the mountains in the last week, leaving us in danger of having to see Mr. Tiny take the green jersey in Paris (Message to Alessandro: PLEASE SAVE US FROM THAT FATE!). Reeechard Virenque will mostly likely ride even deeper into the hearts of French housewives everywhere while scoring the King of the Mountains jersey yet again, while I sigh with resignation and pray for even just the smallest glimpse of Laurent Jalabert doing his new TV gig. Ah, the panda... I miss him! His charms were magnificent.

I'm not sure what it is, exactly, about Le Tour de France that gets me, but it really, really does. It's a beautiful event, and I never fail to be astounded by the way it generates epic moments of transcendence and impossible to predict examples of all the poetry of human endeavor in all it's useless beauty (thanks, Elvis C.). I, along with my esteemed colleague, will be writing a daily column for the Daily Peloton; my contribution serves an egregiously under-served segment of cycling's fans - girls who can see a church by daylight - and tips the old chapeau to all the style, panache and beauty of the tour, appreciating our boys' heroic efforts on the bike, along with their mad skillz when it comes to hair-styling and accessorization. It may occasionally be stupid, but what it won't be is ironic, because it will be chock-loaded with my genuine, and in some ways, rather embarrassing enthusiasm for this fantastic sport and the brilliant creatures who make it so delicieux. Oh yes.

Yay! All sports writing should be like this! Read her.

UPDATED: Crazy Jane also has a quite fun regular blog (the other being Tour stuff), which is here.

worm "Folsom Prison Blues," Johnny Cash (not Firewater)

namecheck Tugboat "We Hope You're Okay" Hamilton

a history of the tour

Robert Messenger reviews Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s Le Tour: A History of the Tour de France, 1903–2003 in most excellent fashion. The first couple of paragraphs sum up what's so great about cycling as a sport in general and the Tour de France in particular.

The Tour de France is the most arduous of the world’s sporting events. Riders cover more than 2,000 miles in three weeks at an average speed of around twenty-eight miles per hour. The race can seem more like a test of simple endurance than a display of athletic prowess. The sheer physical effort involved makes it easy to write about its champions in terms of epic poetry.

The race defies ordinary explanation. It is a team sport in which an individual wins. It is an athletic event that actually harms the athletes’ bodies. (Racers cannot consume enough food to replace the 6,000 or so calories burned off by each day’s stage. Most finish the race with less muscle mass than they began with.) The race’s founder, Henri Desgrange, wanted it to be so tough that there would be only a single finisher. He never got his wish, but the sport he set in motion takes such a savage toll on its riders that studies show that the life expectancy of a professional cyclist is barely more than fifty years.

And the last couple recap last year's unbelievably exciting Tour and set up this year's...

The centennial race in 2003 was itself thrilling to follow. Armstrong joined Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, and Indurain in the five-time-winner’s club, but only after as competitive a Tour as we have seen since the late 1980s. Armstrong was decisively challenged by three riders. Luck also seemed to have returned to the Tour: Armstrong narrowly avoided serious injury after a fall took one of his chief rivals from the Tour, and later survived two odd crashes to win the key stage on Luz-Ardiden. The great German Jan Ullrich finished second again after crashing during the final time-trial, his last chance to overcome Armstrong. It was a marvelous three weeks.

This summer, Armstrong will seek to do what no other champion could do: win number six. His four predecessors were all beaten by younger determined men who had seen that the king had grown weak. Armstrong may have sent that message last July. We shall know in a month.

We're riding our bicycles in the local Fourth of July parade this weekend--(flashback to the year my mother dressed me up as a clown and put paper mache through my wheel spokes and I STILL didn't win the damn best decoration contest because this little rich chick had a kitten in her basket with a Yankee Doodle hat)--which should be fun. The owners of the new local bike shop where we dropped a fortune on stuff last night (a new cycling outfit for my birthday and assorted etc.) will be riding their Penny Farthing.

worm "The Theme From The Saint," Orbital

namecheck Richard "Euskatel Pachyderm" Butner


Say...why aren't we crying?

You can now order Say...why aren't we crying? at Project Pulp (that link) online. For just $4.98 cents American.

Isn't it pretty? Go buy it.

Mr. Rowe also updated his journal and it promising to do so again very soon. (Before the Tour de France starts anyway.) Go read it and post in his comments telling him to update more often!

worm "Black Metallic," Catherine Wheel

namecheck Barb "Camera Obscura" Gilly


recuerdo for your thoughts and my apologies

That Edna St. Vincent Millay page takes you to someone else reading her poetry. Sadly, the links to "Recuerdo" seem to be broken (Slate) or for pay (Salon). So.

Here's Ms. Edna reading "Fatal Interview: Sonnet XI" at Bold Type.

Here's the American Academy of Poets page for her, with a short bio and links to several poems. (Speaking of which, you may look at all the poems I've saved in a folder called supersecret poetry -- to which you may also add poems -- by using username: gwenda007 and password: supersecret.)

Or check out Poetry Speaks, the accompanying CD on which I first heard the reading in question.

After all that, go buy the Gilmore Girls first season. It is amazing.


worm any song that makes you think goodnight

the dead read poetry, ostrich divas & etc.

This is sort of a grab bag, for which I apologize, but it's all really good stuff, for which I don't apologize one bit.

Recordings of Dorothy Parker to be found here (via About Last Night). And seeking out a certain recording of "Recuerdo" (that's one of my all-time favorite poetry recordings), I found a whole bunch of Edna St. Vincent Millay audio files. Gives me goosebumps. I think Millay is entirely too dismissed as a poet, just in general, but that's a story for another time.

Terry has an involving piece on the state of musical comedy at Commentary Magazine.

Barb has awesome zoo pictures.

Chicha has a link to a site of New York undercity photos and exploration stories, which are way, way cool, and extend the definition of undercity to include urban ruins and decomposing ships. As y'all know, undercities are my fav-o-rite thing, being as I'm finishing a book set in one. I especially urge you to take a gander at the creepy asylums and institutions and the tugboat graveyard.

This is my favorite post today. (Even though it's not from today.) It's at the always excellent Twinkle, twinkle, blah, blah, etc. (Apologies if I've missed a twinkle or a blah. Or for that matter, an etcetera.) Doesn't this make you laugh?

The latest proof of this is the backpack situation. Listen, if you're a male over the age of 11 and you're not in the fucking French Foreign Legion, you probably shouldn't even own a backpack, but if you must, don't use both of the straps when you're just walking from the subway to your cubicle in the AON building. And, if you absolutely insist on using both straps, do not under any circumstance, use that little strap that connects the two in the center. Seriously, who are you, Captain Von Trapp? Unless you're carrying a week's rations and/or your papoose, there's no reason to truss yourself up like that.

The best cycling site in the world, period, the end, has up its first Tour de France post. (Le Tour starts this weekend, you know.) It serves as a pretty good primer on the players to watch for this year (which is going to be SOOOO exciting!), even if it does not include a link to the initial Crazy Jane report assessing the sheer physical hotness of these athletes. Crazy Jane being the Voice of Hotness Reporting in her daily Jambon Reports.

Finally: To the person who was searching for "balloon breasts"--shame on you. This is not clown sex.

worm "Mr. Roboto," Styx (!)

namecheck Jan "Mr. Roboto" Ulrich

edelstein on f9/11

David Edelstein at Slate is fast becoming one of those critics who writes the touchstone piece for me on movies. His review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind said what I wanted to about the movie's relationship to the great screwballs better than I could. His Fahrenheit 9/11 review is one of the more interesting I've seen and worth taking a look at.

Moore is best when he doesn't stage dumb pranks (like broadcasting the Patriot Act in D.C. out of an ice-cream truck) but provokes with his mere presence. When he interviews the author of House of Bush, House of Saud in front of the Saudi embassy and the Secret Service shows up to ask what he's doing, it's a gotcha moment: What's the Secret Service doing protecting non-U.S. government officials? He has a light touch there that's missing from the rest of the Fahrenheit 9/11. In one scene, his camera homes in on a Flint, Mich., woman weeping over a son killed in Iraq, and the effect is vampirish. After the screening, a friend railed that Moore was exploiting a mother's grief. When I suggested that the scene made moral sense in the context of the director's universe, that the exploitation is justified if it saves the lives of other mothers' sons, my friend said, "When did you become a relativist?"

I'm troubled by that charge—and by the fact that we nearly came to blows by the end of the conversation. But when it comes to politics in a time of war, I think that relativism is, well, relative. Fahrenheit 9/11 must be viewed in the context of the Iraq occupation and the torrent of misleading claims that got us there. It must be viewed in the context of Rush Limbaugh repeating the charge that Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered in Fort Marcy Park, or laughing off the exposure of Valerie Plame when, had this been a Democratic administration, he'd be calling every day for the traitor's head. It must be viewed in the context of Ann Coulter calling for the execution of people who disagree with her. It must be viewed in the context of another new documentary, the superb The Hunting of the President, that documents—irrefutably—the lengths to which the right went to destroy Bill Clinton. Moore might be a demagogue, but never—not even during Watergate—has a U.S. administration left itself so open to this kind of savaging.

Along with many other polite liberals, I cringed last year when Moore launched into his charmless, pugilistic acceptance speech at the Academy Awards. Oh, how vulgar, I thought—couldn't he at least have been funny? A year later, I think I might have been too hard on the fat prick. Six months before her death in 1965, the great novelist Dawn Powell wrestled in her diary with the unseemliness of political speech during an "artistic" event: "Lewis Mumford gave jolt to the occasion and I realized I had gotten as chicken as the rest of America because what he said—we had no more right in Vietnam than Russia had in Cuba—was true but I did not think he should use his position to declaim this. Later I saw the only way to accomplish anything is by 'abusing' your power." Exactly. Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary for the ages, it is an act of counterpropaganda that has a boorish, bullying force. It is, all in all, a legitimate abuse of power.

Apology for the extensive quoting. You really should still go read the whole thing. (Don't you just have to love a critic who quotes Dawn Powell?)

Also, despite all the quibbling about what documentaries are (which is an interesting question that's being hit on sideways all over the place), this article contains the best statement I've seen by Moore about how he views the movie.

Moore made no apologies for his partisanship. "Documentaries by their very nature are supposed to have a point of view," he said during the conference call. He calls his documentary "an op-ed piece -- it presents my opinion based on fact." He said he believes the movie is playing strongly in Middle America, and that it has confounded theories that "it would only speak to the choir."

"The documentary filmgoing audience is not that large. . . . I would imagine tens of thousands of people came this weekend who had never been to a documentary in a movie theater in their lives," says Moore.

I can't say I disagree with him, but Edelstein and others seem to. I have to think more about it before I'm sure. I will say this: knowing the artist/creator's intentions create an interesting framework to view the movie in. And viewed through Moore's definition, I'd say his movie's an unquestionable and rousing success.

worm "Isobel," Bjork (remix)

namecheck Christopher "I Heart Rufus" Barzak

little fun questions

Putting off any substance this morning, I offer you my answers to this list of questions cadged from Michaelangelo. If you have your own substance abuse needs, cadge them from me.

Act your age? When I can remember what it is, maybe. But probably not, since I've never understood what this phrase means.
Born on what day of the week? Monday, July 12, 1976 (I had to look up the day.)
Chore you hate? Anything involving dead birds George has carried into the house. Also, sweeping.
Dad’s name? Jerry.
Essential makeup item? Lip balm/stick. Also moisturizer. (I consider both of these essential, okay?)
Favorite actor? Toughie. Head may explode. Thinking. I don't really have one. High on list (living) would be: Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett... I give up. My brain is not capable of this right now.
Gold or silver? Silver.
Hometown? Bond, Kentucky.
Instruments you play? Stereo controls. Next question.
Job title? Not answering, cause I don't talk about it here.
Kids? No.
Living arrangements? Share with Christopher and George the Dog a lovely downtown apartment which is very long, used to have lots of trees in the backyard before the landlord cut them all down and has a minimum of late-night drumming at this time.
Mom’s name? Betty Lou.
Need? TiVO, money, book contract.
Overnight hospital stays? Um, I don't think so.
Phobias? Not really. See dead bird entry. Also, giant bugs = not my friend. Oh wait, the ocean. Though it's probably not phobia-level, I find it terrifying.
Quote you like? "I did not piss in your hair!" heard on the street in Ft. Lauderdale. But seriously, from Preston Sturges: "When the last dime is gone, I'll sit out on the curb with a pencil and a ten-cent notebook, and start the whole thing all over again."
Religious affiliation? Nope.
Siblings? One older brother.
Time you wake up? Normally, around 6 a.m. Preferentially, around 9:30.
Unique talent? All the ones that leap to mind are anti-talents. Skip.
Vegetable you refuse to eat? Do mushrooms count?
Worst habit? Procrastination.
X-rays you’ve had? Dental, one foot years and years ago.
Yummy food you make? Mac and cheese.
Zodiac Sign? Cancer: can't you tell from the chitin?

worm "When the Doves Cry," Patti Smith
namecheck Everyone I owe email.


how you know you're bad at math

So, sometime during the past year I forgot how old I was. I've been telling people I was one year older than I am, and writing down the wrong age everywhere, and I've also been telling people that I'm turning a year older than I will be.

How odd.

This morning I told my dad how old I thought I'd be and he shook his head. And gently said, you can do math better than that, right?

I must have known at some point, because it says right on Christopher's present on that page that I was 27 and have remained so for the rest of this year.

Of course, age doesn't really matter, other than to make sure you have big fun for the birthdays that end in 5's and 0's and lots of little fun on the others.


My Amazon Wish List is here, though woefully incomplete, and now I'm off to the gym.

worm "Unmade Bed," Sonic Youth

namecheck George "home again, home again" the Dog


(i am) concerned about Michael Moore's health

Whether you love Michael Moore or hate him (or feel something more complex), I'm absolutely sure I just saw the most important film of the year (and probably much longer). You should see it too, and drag somebody that doesn't already hate Bush with you if you can. We were able to encourage a couple who "wanted to see if it would change their minds about Bush" behind us in line at the bookstore to go, see it, and judge for themselves.

I just hope every single member of the mainstream media sees it out of curiosity and feels the shame they should that we've not seen some of this footage already.

More tomorrow.

articles about moore/the movie worth peeking at:

NYT ready for his close up--"Based on that single viewing, and after separating out what is clearly presented as Mr. Moore's opinion from what is stated as fact, it seems safe to say that central assertions of fact in "Fahrenheit 9/11" are supported by the public record (indeed, many of them will be familiar to those who have closely followed Mr. Bush's political career)."

NYT op-ed All Hail Moore

Senate disruption also NYT

Raising money in Seattle

young R's watch in New Mexico

tiny Michigan paper interview w/ Moore (I want to know more about his wife)

Las Vegas fight outside movie

See it before you scream about it, Herald-Tribune

U.S. Rep Porter Goss gets a lot of calls

WP says challenged to meet no. 1 (Wanna bet? Is there an Eddie Murphy and talking animals movie opening this weekend I don't know about?)

And no link whatsoever to the hilarious defensive Washington Times stories (have they coronated anybody yet this week?)

worm "Shiny Happy People," REM

namecheck Gavin "Have You Seen This Yet?" Grant


From the You're Still a Robot File

"Fuck yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency.

That right there is compassionate conservatism, friends.

Have a nice day.

worm "My First Lover," Gillian Welch (ewwww, not in a post about Dick Cheney) -- substitute worm for nonuneasiness: "Mr Roboto," Styx

namecheck The Man Who Built Cheney


moonies in dirksen

As if that's the worst that crosses that threshold...

But apparently there's somewhat of a scandal over this.

Basically a Coronation was held for the kooky Reverend Sun Myung Moon at Dirksen back in March, but is only now making waves after it was covered in Salon a few days ago. From The Hill story:

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, former felon and current owner of The Washington Times, was the man in the spotlight, declaring himself humanity’s “savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.”

The event, which took place March 23, was sponsored by the Washington Times Foundation and the International Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), a Moon-led group. Present at different points during the event were Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Sen. Mark Dayton (R-Minn.).

One of Moon’s claims that evening was that “Hitler and Stalin have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons.”

Listening to the spin on this one is fun:

In a video on the IIFWP website, Cummings is seen giving a speech saying Moon is “always standing up for what is right.” Davis, wearing white gloves, places a jeweled crown on Moon’s head. The video, and articles about the event, were taken down from the website Friday.

Asked if he thought the crowning unusual, Davis, who has attended several Moon events, replied, “I see people crowned. I go to parades quite a bit … [and see] the queen of the homecoming parade, queen of the festival.”

Additional stories:

SF Chronicle
CBS News
Washington Post

As if we needed proof that anyone with enough $$ can get access to politicians no matter how nuts they are. What I want to know is what he's been doing with himself since he came out as Messiah. March is a long time ago in Returned Messiah Standard Time(RMST), surely there ought to be blood running from our dishwashers and world peace by now. I mean, what kind of lazy ass messiah is this guy? Pope wannabe.

you smell like a flower -- of death.

No, really. There's a flower that smells like rot.

A giant exotic plant that has not bloomed in the Northeast in more than 60 years is ready to flower at the University of Connecticut's greenhouses. The "corpse flower" has the odor of 3-day-old road kill, and UConn botanists couldn't be more excited.

Once open, the spiked, bright red bloom even resembles rotting meat, a veritable welcome mat for the insects that pollinate it - flies and carrion beetles.

"It looks like something has died. It smells like something has died. It has some of the same chemicals that dead bodies produce," UConn research assistant Matthew Opel said Tuesday.

The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) at UConn was planted 10 years ago and was part of a group of seeds brought to the United States from its native Sumatra by botanical explorer James Symon.

There's even a webcam to watch the blooming (which sounds pretty spectacular on its own). But is it really the same if you can't smell the decomposition?

In unrelated news, the dried mangos I am eating right now are yards better than the bad Mexican food we inadvertently had on the way home from work.

worm "Personal Jesus," Johnny Cash

namecheck Chris "I'm Sending You Something in the Mail, Finally" McLaren

chlorine hair, short story reviews and ballard interview

There is little more delicious than going to sleep in a stuffy room with slightly damp hair that smells like chlorine. It reminds me of summer vacations, concrete days by the pool. Etc. Our new version of that is Open Swim at the YMCA from 8:30 until 9:45. Just nip in before bed. Yes, I know if I don't start washing the chlorine out of my hair it'll turn colors and brittle and be extremely unhappy. Also, if our land(read: student ghetto)lord fixes the air conditioner maybe we won't need to escape the stuffiness so much.

Still, chlorine hair smell = good.

Various odds and ends today and not much else.

Our Girl in Chicago has a great post on lost things, or traded in things, or things that turn up, based around an article in today's Wall Street Journal about unusual items that have turned up in bookstores. She plugs the extremely wonderful Found magazine, from which I've cribbed the image below. (If anyone can tell me how you make text flow around smaller pictures or how to make them appear smaller, you would be much thanked -- gwenda007 AT gmail DOT COM.)

I always assume when I buy books at used bookstores that the people they're inscribed to are dead. Maybe this is an unfair assumption, but I find it comforting and intend to cling to it. Without the veneer of betrayal (death offers a legitimate reason for the unloading of books), reading the inscriptions feels like being told a secret and as a self-proclaimed rescuer of certain books from their used bookstore, basement or garage sale, I also like feeling like just one more home in a long line. It's almost like the cat or dog that shows up on your doorstep, becomes a beloved pet, then disappears to repeat the process a few years later. Or maybe it's not like that at all.

Since Mr. Rowe hasn't been updating his site, I'll point you to Bluejack's excellent review of "The Voluntary State" in the latest Internet Review of Science Fiction. (You have to register; but I believe you can still get a year free until the end of June. So hurry! Matthew Cheney has a really interesting piece in this one too!) A little taste of it:

Thus begins a remarkable adventure, as notable for its moving narrative as for the nearly unintelligible world in which it takes place. Although this appears to be a physical world, it has all the indications of some sort of virtual reality: the Gulf of Mexico, there, is actually the Tennessee River. When people bleed, they bleed real blood. When they die, they really die. But there is an interchangeability of identity, and a manufacturedness to things, interspersed with datacentric technology giving this remarkable world the organic feel of life fused to information.

And speaking of short fiction, I also found a great review of Ted Chiang's short story collection by China Mieville (from all the way back in April, but hey, I missed it then, so maybe you did too):

The short story is, apparently, in crisis: so deep, in fact, that there is an Arts Council-supported campaign to rescue it, one of the aims of which is to give the form "more prestige and a higher profile". Yet short stories have always been indispensable in SF, fantasy and horror: there, at least, reports of the death of, etc. Even in genre, though, there's still the rule that says you can't get a short-story collection out until you've published a novel or two. Two young Americans have emerged as pre-eminent exceptions to this dictum, and very important new voices in the field. One is Kelly Link, whose magnificent book Stranger Things Happen is not yet published in this country. The other is Ted Chiang.

AND, more to the point on Ted's collection:

In Chiang's hands, SF really is the "literature of ideas" it is often held to be, and the genre's traditional "sense of wonder" is paramount. But though one reads Stories of Your Life with a kind of thematic nostalgia for classic philosophical SF such as that of Asimov and Theodore Sturgeon, the collection never feels dated. Partly this is because the "wonder" of these stories is a modern, melancholy transcendence, not the naive 50s dreams of the genre's golden age. More important, the collection is united by a humane intelligence that speaks very directly to the reader, and makes us experience each story with immediacy and Chiang's calm passion.

I'm guessing about 99.9 percent of the five people who read this thing have already read everything Ted's written, but you just never know. If you're holding out, you're missing out. Go read it. And buy the British edition, which is a lovely thing to behold.

How I happened on that review was reading this really fascinating interview with JG Ballard. (Via CAAF at Maud Newton.)

And that's it.

worm "Wound That Never Heals," Jim White (new album out on June 8)

namecheck Fill in the ____________


can the bollywood musical be far behind?

From the India Times:

Indian comic book fans will be able to see the legendary American hero Spiderman in a new ' jaali ' good local avatar soon.

Marvel Comics, the makers of the marvellous comic book hero, plans to Indianise the webmeister, who, like Superman, has had kids in thrall for generations.

The net result is that Peter Parker of Queens, the hero under the classic Spiderman mask, will be replaced by a young, Indian boy named Pavitr Prabhakar, a Mumbaikar.

As Spiderman, Pavitr leaps around rickshaws and scooters in Indian streets, while swinging from monuments such as the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal.

"Spiderman India interweaves the local customs, culture and mystery of modern India, with an eye to making Spiderman's mythology more relevant to this particular audience," Marvel and its alliance partner Gotham Entertainment Group announced this week.

Doesn't that sound awesome? They're changing the villains too. Want. Bollywood. Musical. (Link via Gmail ad!)

Unrelatedly, I read the first few stories/poems in Swink during lunch. I was underwhelmed by the opening story, and might talk about that here, but loved, loved, loved Lisa Glatt's "Cream." A sad and true and beautifully written story about a middle-school age girl who starts having sex with her brother's friends. The magazine is also beautifully designed and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the things in it -- especially the essay about the Throwing Muses, one of my all-time favorite bands. That link will take you to the beginning of the story.

That is all.

worm "Strange Angels," Kristin Hersh

namecheck Peter "Spiderman, does whatever a spider can" Parker

bill clinton's blog is pink!

That is all.

It also has comments enabled. Wonder how long that will last? (But seriously, read some of them. They're worth the price of admission themselves.)

(Pink POTUS site found via Maud Newton.)

(Ed. Note: Um, this is a joke. Former presidents aren't allowed to have pink blogs. You know that, right?)

Also, Christopher and I have been emailing back and forth in my gmail account trying to trip it into giving up some interesting ads this morning. The obvious stuff didn't work at all -- but when I mentioned that I'd forgotten to send him the story about the Superhero Supply Co. (or whatever it's called) that's fronting Dave Eggers latest 826 center one of the ads was a link to the story! How cool/creepy is that?

worm "I Fall to Pieces," Patsy Cline

namecheck Christopher "I Need a Cape" Rowe

picturing dinosaurs

I'm working my way through the new Scientific American (the opening piece on icthyosaurs rocks -- and I mean, really, can it get any better than a bunch of predator talk?).

I was reminded that I've never linked to Doug Henderson's work before. Doug Henderson draws and paints dinosaurs for a living; his work has been in many prominent texts, some for adults, some for kids. He's also from Lexington.

His work is amazing. But don't take my word for it. Go check out his site.

From his "about" page:

This web site represents an illustrator's hodgepodge view of early life on Earth. The accompanying text is intended for those perhaps not familiar with Earth History; children, young adults, day-traders, politicians, movie producers, aging boomers and other enthusiasts looking for some meaning in life. These 90 some images are a slice of the work that has kept me occupied (if not always employed), out of trouble and more or less happy for the last 20 years.

So, see, he's funny too!

I also suggest going to the Oceans of Kansas site to see the absolutely gorgeous paintings he's done.

And that's not even my favorite. I love the warm-hued paintings best.

worm "Just Like Heaven," Dinosaur Jr

namecheck David "Best Living Science Writer" Quammen


embarrassment of riches

On the heels of the boxes of goodness last night, comes another box of goodness AND a check for $20 dollars. (Hey, I need that $20 right now.) Yay!

More on the goodness within as I read and only read for the next few weeks. Comics and graphic novels and giant advance reader copies, oh my. It's like my birthday's here early. (Hmmm... speaking of birthdays, I did just happen to update my Wish List the other day, thoughtfully ordering the items I'd like from least to most expensive so you can show me how much you love me. I kid. But just in case. July 12. Me and Caesar and Thoreau; what a bunch of liars).

Anyway, the house is clean, the grocering is done, I have a glass of wine, I have thou, I have lots of new stuff. And I have three new magazines I bought because I couldn't be restrained at the bookstore. The Scientific American I mentioned below turned out to be a special on display until today only, so I had to go get it. Which I did, and it looks marvelous. And the first issue of Swink and the new issue of Conduit. And now I'm going to go read "Family Reunion: a comic from the novel Perfect Circle" by Sean Stewart and Steve Lieber. Then, maybe even tomorrow, I'll finally write about Perfect Circle, a tour de force of a book. It knocked me flat.

(I also took a peek at the Small Beer Press profile in the previous issue of Publisher's Weekly. Even bigger yay!)

But first: food, drink and the promised Charlotte Bronte quote:

(granted the first from a young Charlotte, but the others not so much)

"The thoughts should come spontaneously as I write or they're not the inspiration of genius" and "inspiration takes the place of reflection" and the "man of genius produces, without work."

Good thing I'm not a genius.

worm "Miss Ohio," Gillian Welch

namecheck The Illustrious Small Beer Duo

purely anthropological (or: is that Rasputin in your pocket...?)

The ladies, they scream and shout for Rasputin, and I can see why. As can you, if you follow that link to the story, compleat with picture, about one of the more popular artifacts at a Russian erotica museum. (It reminds me of a certain box some dumpster diving friends produced in Madison. But, alas, probably no biographical insert detailing the golden porn at the end of the rainbow with this one!)

I'd also post a link to the lyrics of Boiled in Lead's "Rasputin," clearly the best song ever about "Russia's greatest sex machine" (thanks to the immortal rendering by Adam Stemple), but every time I try to access the only page I could find with them my computer shuts down. I wouldn't want it to happen to you. So, just remember kids: "Ra-Ra-Rasputin! Hey! Hey! Hey!" (If Mr. McLaren, to whom I owe this link, can somehow tell me how to access those lyrics, I will certainly add them.)

Two other small things:

Started reading Lucasta Miller's The Bronte Myth this morning and was nearly thrown into the not-that-deep, too-bright-sunny pit of despair by early references to Charlotte's belief that genius would out and that writing shouldn't be work but all inspiration or not worth doing. (Yes, I'm overstating. A little -- I'll dig out the quotations later and put them up here.)

(Although I like her: "Let your performance do the thinking.")

But anyway, I encountered this John Sayles quote, which served as the antidote:

"Someone told me that there are two kinds of writers. There's the
ones who write until they can't find a word, and then they sit around
for two days until they get the right word. And, there's the kind who
will leave a blank and go back and fill it in. I leave a blank. I will
sometimes write a page or two and make a note, 'Better stuff than this.'"

Better stuff than this. That's what I'm doing right now. I wish I was the other kind. (Our whole house is clean. All the books that have been stacked along our anthology section, which is on top of the bookshelves lining the hallway, have been shelved. It's THAT clean. So, where is my sense of accomplishment, damn it?)

Also, from the delightful Tingle Alley news of a wonderful special issue of Scientific American that I must possess!

I believe that is all. As everybody but everybody has probably seen the NYTimes story on how writing couples relate, aimed at advising Bill and Hillary. Poor, Gray Lady, don't you know what couple this is? Sigh.

UPDATED with one last thing... Karen's book (at no. 7 this week) has finally passed Bergdorf Blondes on the NYTimes Bestseller List. Dan Brown, get out your boxing gloves.

worm "Mass Romantic," New Pornographers

check out BiL's Alloy

namecheck Adam "Is 3 Solid Blows Enough?" Stemple


footnotes to weekend

Item 1: I am dizzy's ditzy daughter.

Says me, pre-caffeine, looking at op-ed page of newspaper and reading column headline at bottom: 'Governors Were Good Fathers' -- what do I care what kind of fathers they were? Why is this in here?

Says Christopher: Because it's Father's Day. That's why we're here, remember. (Note: We were at my parents' house.)

Says me: Oh. Well, it's a good thing, because otherwise that paper is completely insane.

Item 2: There is a trick to getting up hills on your bicycle.

They don't tell you right away, of course, because it doesn't occur to them. Them being the ones who know this trick. But I'll tell you, because I'm your friend.

You do it switchback, weaving back and forth, a little bit this way and a little bit that way, and then poof! top of the hill. (Note: Must be careful to not do this when traffic is coming. Having a lookout up ahead is a good idea.)

Item 3: No, the car isn't fixed yet. No, I don't know what's wrong with it.

It is not a Secret Corvair though. And I miss my satellite radio. Listening to CDs seems so analogue. (Yet charming.)

Item 4: I finished IN THE GARDEN OF IDEN, the first of Kage Baker's The Company novels.

Highly recommended.

Item 5: I finished the loathesome scene.

I'm still not happy with it. But onward!

Item 6: Richard sends the best boxes of worlddom.


Item 7: It is very late on a school night (or the adult equivalent) and this is all for now.

Really, really.

worm "In Our Gun," Gomez (what is all this about Gomez's new album being "their most accessible to date" -- their last album was extremely accessible...)

check out Hard Time, DC Comics

namecheck John "Yes, Let's Trade (I really will respond to your email this week)" Klima


strange sights & heat-induced delusions

We were going out to dinner with a friend a few nights ago only to come upon a Corvair parade. The event celebrated the first night of the annual big Corvairanatics convention and, well, it was amazing and a reminder that there is a convention for everything.

And who knew there were Corvair trucks?

The middle of the truck bed opens instead of the back, so you can climb in it. Very swank in a Pez dispenser sort of way. Then, trying to find an image of the bizarro Corvair trucks (times that one picture by 100 plus cars and vans to imagine the slow creep of uneasiness that was the parade), I discover what is perhaps my favorite webpage title EVAH.

(Get ready.)

Secret Corvairs: GM's Stillborn Sixties Small Cars

If that's not a short story or album title waiting to happen, I don't know what is.

"You're a secret Corvair!"

"Am not."

"Are too -- you Stillborn Sixties Small Car, you!"

This is where my head is right now, people. Be very afraid. Perhaps I will check in during the weekend, or perhaps I will try to screw it back on. Tonight is the gallery hop, but it's doubtful we'll be able to hop too much for my car has taken to overheating and so it has to go visit my mechanic in the morning. Hop. Hop. Hop, could prevent such a thing from occurring. And then what would happen?

Exactly. Have a good weekend.

worm: "Spitting Games," Snow Patrol

check out: New blog Tingle Alley

namecheck Mr. Sleepytime Heat Monster Nap Man of Doom


tree pretty, life busy

There will be no new posts here until at least the weekend and possibly next week.

In the meantime, in honor of the upcoming Tour de France, go look at these pictures of Tyler Fucking Hamilton's dog Tugboat. He's a George!

Or look at this one of Tyler, Haven and Tugboat. Do other sports have people that look this nice in them? Not very often.


comics ain't art? grrrr.

So, I'm not even reading the piece of ballast that kicked off the latest round of "can comics be art?" pinging around the blog world. Why would I? On its face, I find the assertion that comics can't be art stupid, or to be fake-nice, misguided. I've started comments in people's posts on this and thought better of posting them, or just gotten that feeling that they were getting too long and rambly and so delete, delete, delete. But. Against my better judgement, I'm going to say a few things about this here, none of them about justifying why comics are art. Nor do I feel the need to throw out a bunch of great titles to support this argument because I. Don't. Need. To. Lots of other people have. It's not that hard to find out what the really good stuff is, and again, that's not at issue -- it is out there.

(Corollary: Would anyone really care to argue in an age when the focus is shifting to how, how, how do we get teenage boys to read that comics and film scripts aren't going to be taught in classrooms within the next 50 years? When my mom, high school principal in an extremely rural place, asked us how to get h.s. boys to read we said graphic novels. I say bring it on: the canon will still be the canon.)

Anyway, this is a post I almost made last night in Ed's comments.

I refuse to get sucked into this teapot (ha) because I'm done having arguments about: what is art? Because this is not a sitcom, Edie Brickell is not involved and &tc. I believe just about any damn thing can be art. The question is always whether it's good art or not, and maybe how good or how bad if you want to get more complicated. (In the Eye of the Beholder, which is Me. Or You. Or the Good Art Movement(TM).) So, I say fuck off to people who make too many distinctions about what can and can't be art and what's high art or what's low, because they're mostly just missing the point. (And no fun at all.) I don't understand the desire to approach art dismissively, to out of hand make judgments about art based on medium. It's absurd.

For c===st's sake people, there's a "King of the Hill" episode that's sort of about this. If someone uses propane tanks to make art, well, it's still fucking art and it may be great art. If someone uses comics to make art, likewise. Saying that no one has judged the great masterpiece of comics seems to me to be a fictious argument too, or at least an elitist one. So, the people who actually read comics aren't fit to judge whether they're art or not? Someone who doesn't like them gets to do that?

Right. That makes sense.

Next, start telling me that video games will never have the capacity to evoke an emotional response. I don't play them, have no desire to, but I'm not willing to stick my head that far in the sand. Wake up. These distinctions are meaningless. Seek out what moves you. In every possible medium.

Or be boring and miserable.

Your choice. I've made mine.

p.s. I would like to say that most of the responses I've read I couldn't agree with more. Bookslut, Weirdwriter, Scribbling Woman and Ed (Return of the Reluctant) have all said interesting stuff.

Now I have to go kick myself for giving in to my weaker nature. Oh, and get some sleep.

I love the Sherlock Holmes Encyclopedia.

Or The Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana, rather. I bet you didn't know this:

"British Birds," the title of a book carried by Holmes in his disguise as an old bibliophile (EMPT).

Damn, that was a pretty good disguise.

Or: Midianites, an Arabian tribe, represented in the Old Testament as the descendents of Midian, son of Abraham. They dwelt in the land of Moab, to the south-east of Canaan. Dr. Shlessinger was said to be preparing a monograph upon the kingdom of the Midianites (LADY).

Also: Marl, a kind of incoherent clay (LION).

As you suspect, what I'm supposed to be working on has nothing do with this.

pie-eyed in the sky

Maybe I am, but I think this is one of the better articles about blogging I've seen. (From Time magazine, via Bookslut.) It doesn't have that snarky, dismissive quality most of them do.

Not to mention, the sidebar gives a shoutout to a hometown boy.

Anyway, it's not like you people probably need an overview of blogging that's more introductory than anything else (it's blog porn, let's admit it), but hey, again, not dismissive. Plus, I have nothing to say. Nothing to say. Nothing to say.

I had one glass of wine too many last night at the bookstore bar, stayed up too late even after that reading IN THE GARDEN OF IDEN by Kage Baker (which is damn hard to put down), and now, well, now I'm avoiding writing. Stop looking at me like that. It's a really hard scene.

Can we get Barb on a bike? Look at these, Barb. Japanese granny bikes, gently used, for a song (less than $100 bucks! plus shipping). Tricked out with baskets and bells and all the finest gear. The deluxe tune-up package comes with a free bottle of WINE. How can you resist? Where do these marvelous bikes come from, you ask? (Japan. Duh.) Read the FAQ.

That is really all. It's a really, really hard scene. Feel. My. Pain.

worm: "Breed," Nirvana (Oh, shut up.)

check out: It's almost like Friday club.

namecheck: Kelly "D" Link

good night

Lovely man, lovely evening.

Buy his new book.

It's much shorter than The Years of Rice and Salt, and even probably the shorter Kim Stanley Robinson books. (That's just to make it less intimidating for you to start a trilogy -- or more -- of books.)

And I just read the first two pages and was completed pulled in. I would suggest though, if you can manage it, not reading the flap copy and just experiencing the book, becaused based on Stan's comments about why he paced it the way he did, you'll enjoy it more that way. (Isn't it a shame that books can't have surprises, big scope-changing surprises, anymore because the promo material gives them away? The last time I managed to avoid being spoiled was Kelley Eskridge's Solitaire, where the whole book just suddenly changes in the most amazing way, from one thing into another -- if I'd read the dust jacket, the surprise would have been ruined.) Anyway, he said he's fascinated by the short novel form right now, so we can probably look forward to more of that. And some very interesting things about how to incorporate different viewpoints into your book by assigning them to characters and on how he can't really write villains because he sympathizes with all the characters like he's their defense attorney.

Excellent reading, excellent evening. More bookstores should have restaurant/bars. I've been of this belief for a long time.

worm: "Chrome," Catherine Wheel

check out: See above.

namecheck: John "Toga" Kessel


she really is my favorite writer, you know (NYT KJF profile)

Just a quick post to point your way to the NYTimes profile of Ms. Karen Joy Fowler today. It spends more than one line on science fiction, and talks about how Karen got started writing.

She tried dancing, learning languages, dropped them all. "I was terrified of failing," she said. Next came writing. If she didn't succeed in a year, she told her husband, Hugh Fowler, an environmentalist for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, she would find another profession.

In 1980 she joined a peer-writing workshop at the Davis Arts Center. A year passed. And only failure, rejections from magazines, the criticisms of her colleagues. "It was going to be more work that I realized," she said.

But "I found out how badly I wanted it." She renegotiated with her husband for another five years. "I won't be stopped," Ms. Fowler said in her very quiet, very determined way.

And doesn't this kind of thing make us all feel better?

"Sarah Canary" tells of a mysterious 19th-century woman in the Pacific Northwest who speaks in incomprehensible sounds and is taken under the wing of a Chinese laborer. After 27 rejections, it was finally accepted by Henry Holt.

All in all, she said, she has received 200 rejections in the course of her career, all of which she has grimly saved. She shows them off with pride to her writing students.

Thanks to Justine and O Elfalan for pointing this out to me.

Tonight we'll be having dinner with and attending a reading by Friend of KJF and Fellow Davis Resident, Stan Robinson. Should be fun.

worm: "Ch-Check It Out," Beastie Boys

check out: IN THE GARDEN OF IDEN, Kage Baker

namecheck: Justine "Queen o SF Lore" Larbalestier


mumpsimus interviews KJ Bishop

The Mumpsimus has a very interesting short interview with K.J. Bishop about THE ETCHED CITY and her working methods.

I don't think I have an impulse to tell stories so much as an impulse to spend time with characters. I always used to imagine things about my favourite characters from movies and books, and over time those characters would change in my mind, turning into people who were similar to the originals but different enough for me to think of them as separate. When I started writing, I discovered that the process of writing allowed me to get to know them much better than I could by just daydreaming. I also discovered that I liked writing in and of itself -- the pleasure of making things out of words, of finding the way to express something, to define some notion or feeling of mine that previously had been vague.

I particularly like her comments on revision... as that's what I've been doing a lot of. Sometimes I can't believe how badly I wrote things the first time through. (Or, cough cough, even the second.)

Does it have to be said? Go read the whole thing.

le tour & misc.

Lots of bike riding today, swooping beneath storm clouds just in time to not have to find an overhang to hide under. And lots of writing housekeeping, rather than actual writing, but sometimes you just have to prepare things to go out. You know? (I know you do.)

I mention the bike riding, one, because I didn't die and, two, because some of you may not realize how close the start of the Tour de France is... July 3. The competition is going to be quell fierce this year, and the pre-Tour bike races are exciting as hell. You could do worse than start monitoring Bicycling magazine's site, the TDF blog, and (my favorite) the Daily Peloton, which will no doubt soon start with its ladies-centric coverage of the men of the tour. I'm not going to steal Christopher's thunder too much here, for I expect him to start updating mercilessly and even more mercilessly (think Ling) talk about this race. But, I'm gonna put my favorite paragraph from this month's Bicyling's editorial, which is all about what bicyclists know because they ride...

You know better than to get worked up this summer when some obese sportswriter at a midsize newspaper writes a column saying that Lance Armstrong is great but that cycling isn't really a sport because anyone can ride a bike, so how hard can the Tour de France be, really? You know not to get worked up because this, after all, is a pronouncement from a man who decided to put his college degree to work by asking naked men to describe how they caught that little ball, who lives on press-box cold-cut spreads and who regularly gets his chops busted by Dottie in accounting for trying to sneak two Spectravision movies past her on his expense account.

I love that. Because invariably one or a dozen such sportswriters will say this thing or worse, a sentiment which can't be wholly unrelated to how so many people just hate cyclists altogether and want to run them off the road (or, around here lately, do run them off the road).

Anyway, that's that. In America made me cry several times, but I suggest you see it anyway. I liked it lots and thought all the acting marvelous and the two little girls even more marvelous than the rest. There's this moment that just blew me away where Djimon Hounsou's character seems to sense the girls' absent brother (who you find out in the first scene is dead, so that's not a spoiler) on the threshold of his apartment. And some of the best voiceover writing I've ever encountered.

You should also go read this thoughtful post at Special Agency responding to the article I linked to yesterday from the NYTimes on red and blue and hullaballoos. It's an excellent post which has left me with a lot more to think over than the NYT piece did.

Oh, and looking for something else today I happened across Pam McNew's excellent, chilling poem "Visiting Mama" from Snow Monkey. You should go happen across it too.


worm: "Slung Lo," Erin McKeown

check out: David Schwartz's excellent review of Richard Butner's new chapbook "Horses Blow Up Dog City and Other Stories"

namecheck: David "J" Schwartz


sleep thought

Someone should make a movie called Night of the Reliving Dead. It would be like a boring family reunion, but with zombies.

worm: "Tennessee," Arrested Development (don't know why...)

check out: Tazo Awake black tea

namecheck: Christopher "Doesn't Really Like Horror Movies" Rowe


"you don't have the sense god gave a dog"

No, I'm not talking about you.

I'm afraid you should expect radio silence from me this weekend. I may even, gasp, turn off the wireless card on my computer. I have much work to be done that does not involve procrastination and surfing the net. We had our regular writing group meeting last night, which was lovely as always, and the group pretty well gave me the nod on the chapters I'd turned in. Which is nice. Some minor tweakage to those and then onward!

I spent most of last night and this morning setting up a new private bulletin board for my screenwriting workshop, as we just needed a better, easier set-up. (So far, I would highly recommend EZ Board Gold Community for this kind of thing. Very simple.)

So, there'll be not much interesting from me. That's my story for now anyway.

There's lots of interesting stuff elsewhere today though, like...

This is a picture of a fox-like creature, which of course may be fake, but it's a pretty well done fake at least. I'm inclined to believe it, because I will believe anything. Too many books with illustrations of the Loch Ness Monster (or Peggy, as I like to call her) when I was a kid. Plus, I started reading TROLL: A LOVE STORY last night, which makes me even more receptive. (Via Weirdwriter.)

Matt Withers does that voodoo over at Special Agency, with a great post on an obnoxious article on the MTV Movie Awards by an obnoxious music writer. But he manages to take his observations and make some very interesting extensions about the effect of blogging on journalistic writing, not necessarily for the better. Go check it out.

Looking through some books this morning, and then working my way through the blogroll (Kathryn Cramer's site specifically), Rosamond Purcell caught my eye, as she does whenever her work enters my field of view. So, if you haven't become addicted to the natural light museum photographs that Purcell does, go here and here, then go buy all her books on ABE.

Oh, and last, via Kristin at 32 Degrees, there's this excellent story about dogs and language -- especially Rico the border collie's vocabulary. Do you think this has anything to do with border collies being fairly insane much of the time? Christopher?

That is all. Good weekend, all. Move. Breathe. Have a nice glass of white.

worm: "Mambo de la Luna," Kirsty MacColl

check out: A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray

namecheck: Susan "You Actually Have Great Hair, You Know" Groppi


stepford soldiers

A couple of articles worth checking out in the NYT and WP respectively today.

Catherine Orenstein writes interestingly on The Stepford Wives and its relationship to the Cinderella myth.

Narratives of physical transformation can be read as symbolic of our desire to be seen, and loved, for who we really are — and to find love, recognition and acceptance that transcends stereotype, class, age, poverty and physical imperfection. The truly climactic moment of Charles Perrault's famous 1697 version of "Cinderella" is not the moment soot stains disappear from the heroine's cheeks; rather, it is the moment when she is recognized, while still in rags, by the prince — thanks to her ability to fit her foot into a tiny slipper (a detail that, incidentally, most likely derives from China, where foot-binding produced a standard of beauty and womanhood).

We could say, then, that the myth of self-transformation is really about recognition of the inner person, perhaps explaining why so many "improved" contestants on "The Swan" and "Extreme Makeover" say they feel for the first time that they look like their true selves.
At what point, though, does a myth about recognition, acceptance and truth become just the opposite — a tale of artifice and disguise?

Myths often contain the seeds of their own inversion, and so it is in this case. In our quest to be Cinderellas, we are risking becoming her impostor stepsisters — eagerly slicing off toe and heel (as they do in the Grimms' version of the fairy tale) to fit into a false shoe.

And, on a completely un-Cinderella note, other than I suppose getting to dress up fancy, Stephen Hunter writes about being one of those soldiers who has to stand, stand, stand during a different president's funeral.

What I recall about the long, long March 30 wasn't the waiting, but the waiting. I mean the waiting. You are at a posture called parade rest. It's doable. It's not a crucifixion in muscular agony. Still, to stand absolutely motionless for hours -- I guess it really was about four or five -- is exquisitely unpleasant. The feet ache, the knees ache, tingles, shoots of pain, tickles, itches, bladder pressure, all these things register on your own private radar screen. The true professional achieves Zen nothingness and time ceases to exist as a force in the universe. Your humble private first class was not so lucky. For him, time was a scuffle of tiny rat feet across his forehead that lasted through several centuries.

The worst part is the sense that just out of your peripheral vision the world is changing. It's having a blast, it's reinventing itself -- women no longer wear clothes, someone is handing out free money, love is bustin' out all over and you can't see it. You'll never see it. The weight of curiosity is far more devastating than the weight of the rifle or the cramp in your toe or the memory of a beer enjoyed what seems geologic epochs ago. You ache just to crane your tight neck two inches to the left . . . but you dasn't. Even I never did, and I was a hopeless amateur; the guys today won't, either.

I made the mistake of watching a bit of the coverage of the caisson last night, but had to tune out when I realized that Barbara Walters seemed to be the closest thing to a mediating force on the lovefest tip. That's saying something.

Oh, and is Ticket To Ride the new Kill Dr. Lucky? The blurb on The Morning News' summer recommendations list would suggest it may be so. (There's lots of other good stuff on there as well.) (Via Maud Newton.)

Good evennnning, as they say in Translvania.

worm: "Jubilee," Patti Smith
check out: Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek (the first likable Superman -- ever!)
namecheck: Iban "Is it dope or did he just have one of those great days on the mountain?" Mayo


the ephemeral, or eternal, enoch soames

One of the very bestest bestest (as small children would say) qualities of the Internet is how it preserves things.

Things like Teller's (of Penn and Teller) marvelous essay, "A Memory of the Nineteen-Nineties," from the Atlantic Monthly way back in 1997 about Max Beerbohm and his phantom Enoch Soames and whether or not he made it to the Round Reading Room of the British Museum at the appointed hour or not.

(I actually have it on pretty good authority that the piece was originally meant to be published in a Certain New York Magazine, but was held and held and then the editor wasn't editor anymore and it was given back and the Atlantic snapped it up. So, consider that gossip, though I can't quite remember where I heard it so I've fuzzied the details enough for plausible deniability. Just that it was a Good Source.)

Anyway, this was brought up by Terry's recent purchase of a Beerbohm sketch at auction. (Drool.) He has a post that links to the sketch and contains a number of fascinating details about Beerbohm, which you should go read. There's even a link to the story "Enoch Soames" there, which will make Teller's piece much richer, if you go read it first.

I'm going to excerpt the bit that talks about Beerbohm's invention Soames, though, because I can't resist.

Max himself was fascinated by the unpredictable workings of posterity. He wrote a short story called "Enoch Soames" (it’s in Seven Men, and you can also read it on line here) whose title character, an ungifted author of the Naughty Nineties, longed desperately to know whether and how he would be remembered a hundred years hence. Accordingly, poor Enoch sold his soul to the Devil in return for a day trip to the British Museum in 1997, where he could satisfy his curiosity. Alas, he found only one reference to "Soames, Enoch," in a book that described him as—horror of horrors—an imaginary character in a story by Max Beerbohm! Despairing, he returned to the present and promptly vanished, presumably to fulfill his end of the bargain.

I pulled Seven Men off my shelf the other day and reread "Enoch Soames," asking myself as I did whether Douglass Debevoise, Lysandros Caftanzoglu, Lewis P. Renateau, or any of the other forgotten folk whose names figure in A Catalogue of the Caricatures of Max Beerbohm had also read it. Perhaps they did. Perhaps they chuckled at Enoch’s pitiful presumption and the completeness with which he received his demonic comeuppance, little knowing that posterity would treat them with similar callousness.

I'd dig up a few more Beerbohm details, but it's past my bedtime. So, enjoy these happy few.

worm: "When the Man Comes Around," Johnny Cash

check out: "Horses Blow Up Dog City and Other Stories," a new Small Beer chapbook by one Richard Butner

namecheck: Richard "Friend of The Math" Butner

items, various and sundry

I guess I should have mentioned on Monday that I mailed out all the contributor, review and subscriber copies (for those who didn't pick them up in Madison) of Say...why aren't we crying? (which should have a weblink to order soon, but you can always email me or the address to order or subscribe). So, keep an eye on the mail. If you'd like to get on our reviewer list and aren't currently, you can also follow the instructions in that parenthetical above. It's a beautiful issue chock full of excellent things and just to remind you of that, here's the TOC once again:

Short Stories
"Black Fish" by Janet Chui
"Til the Wildness Cried Aloud" by Jude-Marie Green
"Tempest in a Teacup" by Pam McNew
"This is a cute boy graveyard" by Jana Phipps
"The Better Life" by Ezra Pines
"Which Apes a Soul" by Mark Rich
"The Lethe Man" by David Schwartz
"Beholden" by Joe Sutliff Sanders (reprinted from Limestone)
"Featherweight" by Sonya Taaffe
"Laugh, Clown, Laugh" by Mikal Trimm

One Act Play
"Robert's Rules of Order" by Terry Bisson

"Why Aren't We Crying?" by E.L. Chen (Elaine also did the art and design for the cover of this issue)

"Casket of the Ages" by Bruce Boston
"Les Brown's Band of Renown" by Maureen McHugh
"Quirk" by Maurice Oliver
"Nets the Si'ze of Souls" by Michael Szewczyk (otherwise known as The Text Beak)

And did I mention we made all the contributors do their bios in first person this time? EEEvil. We are. So, buy the damn beautiful thing already and help us recoup our costs. We're not raking it in here, you know.

In other non-news, I am choosing to ignore certain book talk that could only be described as Stupid, Stupid, Stupid on Slate's book club this week concerning a certain New York Times' bestselling book Shaken & Stirred has professed its love for many times. I suggest you boycott as well, unless you want to be filled with rage and pity. (CUTESINESS?) Grrrrr.

I'll take two slices, whether it's regulation or not. Berlusconi sets law on what constitutes a true Napolitan pizza.

Eduardo Pagnani is the owner of Pizzeria Brandi, where, he said, the pizza Margherita was invented in 1889 and named after Queen Margherita of the House of Savoy. He said that pizza may be named for nobles, but that it has always been more about the people.

Indeed, here in famously passionate Naples, where garbage mounts in fetid mounds and moped drivers zoom the wrong way up one-way streets, there seems a certain pride in ignoring the new law — of course, only after it has been passed.

"We'll start a mini-federation," Mr. Pagnani said, laughing. "We'll be outlaws."

The NYTimes also has a nice piece rounding up viewings of the Transit of Venus from all over the place.

Not to mention the story on the Celebrity Assistants' Club.

A Madison paper wraps up nuttiness at BEA, and talks about nonnuttiness involving Sean Stewart, but tragically neglects to mention PERFECT CIRCLE.

But that's not to say that there weren't some real gems to be found on the convention's outer rings. Authors Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, who created the cult classic Internet game based on the movie "A.I." in 2001, were shopping around mock-ups of a fabulous-looking new project called "Cathy's Game." The book looks for all the world like a high school girl's diary, complete with talented doodles and drawings in the margins.

Packaged along with the book is a plastic bag full of authentic-looking goodies, including letters, postcards, a passport, even the box to a model airplane kit. By going back and forth between the diary and the artifacts, the reader can piece together the solution to a mystery. One hopes they found the right kind of publisher to do such a project justice.

And, finally, finally, finally, from today's Publisher's Lunch (also congratulations, Mary Anne!):

From Publisher's Lunch -- this actually sounds great to me: Bestselling YA author Francesca Lia Block's first adult novel NECKLACE OF KISSES, in which Weetzie Bat turns 40, and facing a mid-life crisis, escapes to a pink Beverly Hills hotel where magical creatures--a fawn bell-hop, a dress-knitting spider, a captured mermaid--help her regain the magic of her life, to Alison Callahan at Harper, by Lydia Wills at Writers and Artists Group International (world).

I'd heard that Block had sold an adult novel, but not that it was about Weetzie Bat's midlife crisis. I'm extremely excited about this, and think it sounds fabulous. I adored the Weetzie Bat books (still do), and have been not quite as dazzled with the last few things I read by Block, so this is hopefully a return to form. Or an expansion of form even. All to the good.

A day when you can foresee the return of childish things is a good one.

worm: "Portland, Oregon," Loretta Lynn with Jack White (how much do I love this? a pitcher's worth.)

check out: Whatever you want to.

namecheck: Ron "Link Maestro" Hogan


dead fucking c------ers

(Did I use enough slash marks?)

Oh, hush. I'm not being blasphemous or even unseemly (not right this second anyway). This is a post about Deadwood, because I keep forgetting to post about it. I just caught the last couple of episodes, bringing me up to having seen... well, all of them. It's an odd thing. My mother and I were talking about the show a month or so ago, agreeing that while we didn't actually like it, we found it compelling nonetheless. But now, well, to my chagrin I actually like it.

And in a show full of filthy mouthed (I hardly notice this in point of fact, and must confess that if I didn't have a job that required me to deal with people and I watched a lot of Deadwood, my vocabulary would probably be indistinguishible from theirs in no time, like it was in high school) heathen men, with a few stoic heroes, the real thing that won me over is that this show has the richest, most complex female characters on television. I'm even pretty sure we've got a THE LADY EVE homage going on as of this week's episode. Calamity Jane is my favorite character on television at the moment (and one of the great alcoholics of all time, nothing to sniff at), but the other women of Deadwood are growing on me, too, as is the look and feel and fabric of the show. It's quite something, in that it's utterly different than everything else on television. So, if you get a chance give it a look, or if you've been watching and loving or hating, I'd like to know why...

Also, speaking of dead things, I get Friday off work.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have comic books to read. (Yay! We saw but didn't buy the first trade of the two issues so far of The Escapist -- they brought it out so quick and it's so small and attractive, we'll no longer be getting the big issues, but the trades.)

worm: "The Setup," Mission of Burma

check out: True Story Swear to God by Tom Beland (comic)

namecheck: Chris "Bring on the Night Watch" McLaren


muggled big fished northforked and other sickbed fluff

So, when they say "May cause drowsiness," sticking that boozled little eye on the bottle these days, they mean it. Or maybe this is just part of not being a teenager. I used to love the boozled eye bottle. It was one of the best parts of being sick. Practically recreational. When we took this stuff, only before bed as directed, neither of us moved for terror or George until ten hours had passed. Deadly.

Suffice to say, much of the weekend was spent sleeping and recuperating. Feeling much better now, almost normal (got a phone call from someone who said, "I was afraid to call you last week cause your emails just seemed so sad, but this morning's was back to normal" -- read overly long), if still tired and a little non-productive coughy. All in a week's work. I hope to never go to another convention with walking pneumonia, knownst or unbeknownst to myself.

Sean Stewart makes you buy sopapillas, or rather, he writes the kind of books that leave you craving some particular food or needing to try out a recipe. (Was it NOBODY'S SON that gave us the oregano and hot mustard scrambled egg batter? I can't remember.) Anyway, I had one PERFECT CIRCLE-induced sopapilla on Friday night and last night Christopher was kind enough to ride bikes with me for five minutes to Cielito Lindo for another. (We were completely worn out after just that little ride.) I'll say more about PERFECT CIRCLE later, because it deserves an entry of its very own, complete with lovely cover image.

Anyway, most of the rest of the time was spent eaking out minor tweaks on the book manuscript, bemoaning the fact I wasn't getting more done (back on track today), and consuming things. We went to see the new Harry Potter and it's by far my favorite of the movies, and makes me understand why people are so charmed by the books in a way the other movies haven't. (I started reading the first one and misplaced it and just haven't ever picked it up again. I do not have any issues with the books or people who like them.) The look of it is gritty, but just gritty enough, punctuated by some achingly English landscapes, the acting by the children far, far better than in the previous movies, and, all in all, this feels much more like something the director deserves great kudos for. I was sad to learn that Cuaron's not doing the next one and amused by his comment in EW (consumed!) that it's the same story as Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, "two boys, one girl." Either the screenwriter (Steve Kloves) or Rowling has a penchant for always following the same plot structure, which seems to necessitate a third act that's too long, an over-climaxed climax and such things, but that's not why I go to movies like this so... I loved the hippogryph (sp?).

We came home and watched BIG FISH (I wore him down!). Odd movie. The movie didn't start to work for me until it was halfway over, and the ending was beautifully done and very effecting. Which is really strange to say considering the fact that I was completely unconvinced and uncharmed by the first two-thirds of the movie. In fact, only when the son took over did it start to work. The look of it wasn't quite Burtonesque enough for me, by which I mean it wasn't specific or lushly realized enough. The eponymous big fish just looked like an oversized bath toy, but maybe that's the small grapes of small screen talking. Anyway, I'd recommend seeing it, but only half paying attention to the first part, maybe read a book you're also only half-interested in or flip through a magazine until the son's dominating the action.

Then I tried to watch NORTHFORK, but, despite some lovely bits, couldn't. I'd love to know if I made a mistake there, if anyone wants to relive the experience, please post in the comments.

And I read the amazing young adult novel A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray. Loved this. Beautiful writing. It's THE CRAFT for smart girls! It's the story of a 16-year-old girl in late 1800s England, ripped from her home in India by tragedy and sent to an English girls' boarding school to be made into a fine lady, or more pointedly, a good wife. Bray manages to capture both the good and bad parts of being friends with the most popular girls in school, without ever drifting into cliche, and the mysterious elements are handled with great care, to great effect. It actually keeps up the scary tension until the end. Look this one up and enjoy.

A few other little things...

Nice interview with Karen in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

You can watch the transit of Venus tomorrow morning online here.

Stephen Hunter does the take on Ronald Reagan's Hollywood career, in most interesting fashion.

And Michael Dirda channels Eleanor Arnason in his review of a new book by Jane Jacobs called THE DARK AGE.

I think that's it.

worm: "When You're Drifting," Mojave3

check out: Sean Stewart's PERFECT CIRCLE

namecheck: Barb "Itis Bronch" Gilly


mycoplasma rock

Or sleep, more like. I took a swig of Christopher's Dizziness Alert cough syrup last night and started PERFECT CIRCLE, the new Sean Stewart book from our favorite favorites at Small Beer Press. I love Sean's work and seriously suggest you go pick up all Sean's books -- RESURRECTION MAN, MOCKINGBIRD, GALVESTON being good places start -- if you haven't read them. Anyway, I'd intended only to start the book, finally made myself stop reading around one a.m. and chapter four. It's funny, not in a forced, "Look at me I'm clever" way, but in the way that really smart people are funny, and it's scary, not in a "Oh, I'm soooo scary, aren't I?" way, but in a way that makes you actually feel scared for the main character. And how much do we love Will "Dead" Kennedy? Lots.

How can you stop reading a book with great little bits like this?

Generally speaking, I divide people--living and dead--into five groups:

1) Buddhas
2) Tell-Tale Hearts
3) Cobains
4) (Jack the) Rippers
5) Zombies

And I have to stop there, before I type in the whole bit explaining the uses of this scale. I'll have more to say about PERFECT CIRCLE when I've finished it (um, probably tomorrow at this rate). But wow, it's nice to have a Sean Stewart book to press on people again.

We slept till noon today, unheard of for Christopher, and it didn't even feel like sleeping in. I revised for a bit then we popped out to the library to pick up some books and have lunch because we didn't feel like cooking. That was hours ago and I'm hungry again now. And still awfully tired. I'm hoping the antibiotics are engorging these little mycoplastmic bastards right now, so we'll both feel better tomorrow. And I'm wishing that there was a movie theater in the parking lot of the post office next door where we could go see the new Harry Potter movie. Christopher's prejudice against bad southern accents in movies is preventing our watching BIG FISH, but maybe I can talk him into NORTHFORK. We quietly gave up and sent THE QUIET AMERICAN back to Netflix today, after two months of not watching it. (Was it longer? Hard to say.)

This malaise bites. I have miles of words to tweak before I sleep and it's not helping!

earworm: "The Sound of Settling," Death Cab for Cutie

check out: Stephany Aulenback's eminently sensible response to the New York Times article about the student who mathematically analyzed fiction selections by New Yorker editor

namechck: You.


understating it

So, it turns out this isn't really a cold, more mycoplasma, or as it's commonly called "Walking Pneumonia." (Called such because it doesn't usually make you sick enough to take to your bed completely.) More a general malaise, which I actually like being diagnosed with:

"Do you have malaise?"

"Why yes, a general one."

The funny thing is that my doctor and Christopher's doctor didn't quite see things eye to eye, even though they work in the same office. My doctor's older, wiser and is willing and able to talk your ear (with its bubble thing indicating mycoplasma inside) off about how the antibiotics actually work by engorging the cell. To quote that Dr. Green article, mycoplasma's are kinda cool: They are the smallest self-replicating biologic systems known. And they're in my lungs right now! Anyhow, my doctor and I ran into Christopher in the hall as I was being dispatched and my doctor asked to look over what Christopher's younger doctor had prescribed. Christopher has two different sorts of coughie medicines and says that his doctor told him not to fill the antibiotic unless he got worse. "No, fill it," my doctor says and jets up the hallway, likely to chastise his colleague.

Yes, yes, this is one of those diseases that antibiotics still cure. So, we'll be at home tomorrow, curing and writing up a storm and mailing contributor's copies of Say... why aren't we crying?

I'd also just like to say that I'm really sorry if we gave you this malaisady.

worm: "Jessica Simpson," Adam Green ("Jessica Simpson, where has your love gone? It's not in your muuuusic, no...")

check out: Rabid Transit 3 (available here for a pittance)

namecheck: Elad "Ratbastard Total" Haber


home home home

We made it, drowsing along through sunshine and wind farms having their best day ever -- at least until we hit the state line and immediately went from rainbows to ominous black skies. Turned off the Sirius long enough to listen to common-sensically challenged Americans who think the proper action to take during a severe thunderstorm is to stand outside with a camera ready to PHOTOGRAPH FUNNEL CLOUDS.

But it's just rain here, and blinking clocks inside the slightly musty house, and the question about how long the electricity might have been off and what that means for the stuff in our fridge, &tc.

Spent last night with the last of the stragglers -- Kelly and Gavin, Justine and Scott, and the accidental straggler Mr. Barzak -- drinking champagne and dissecting this and that.

Tomorrow will be a very long day.