Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sabre Dance

Like Howlin' Wolf, I ain't superstitious. Unless it's playoff time. When I lived on W. 105th, I avoided watching any Sabres games at The West End after viewing a playoff loss in 1999 while there (even though I think we went on to win that particular series). Annoying CU students made that an easy decision though.

So, I spoke too soon. I now regret complimenting the officials a few days back. Most of their calls remain accurate, though in Game 4 tended to favor the Flyers or whatever Forsberg said. There were some issues in Game 3 —t
he questionable (to me) Diving call on Roy, the ignored spear thrown into Dumont's gut— but I believe those were honest mistakes. Overall, still no big complaints... I will refrain from any more comments, lest we steer towards No Goal territory. And just as I became too comfortable with the two-game lead, so did the Sabres. We gave up that lead fairly easily. But we knew it would be a tough, exciting series, didn't we? Home-ice advantage may be the deciding factor. Only in Buffalo did two Sabres earn hattricks in the same game; Only in Philadelphia did Forsberg finally show us why the media must refer to him as "Forsberg, the best player in the world..."

Of course, I also blame myself. If I hadn't watched the last two games on TV, maybe we would've won. I'll have to go back to listening to the radio: our strongest game occurred when my ear was glued to my 15-year old alarm clock radio. Game 5 is this afternoon; let's get ready for the
Sabre Dance.

Friday, April 28, 2006

BLVR Event

Ed managed to send me a mysterious message (in Smithy Code) about an event tomorrow that all Dizzyheads will want to attend (unless they live 400 miles away like I do).

At 7:00 p.m., on Saturday, 29 April, the 2006 PEN World Voices Festival will present "A Believer Nighttime Event" featuring Salman Rushdie, Etgar Keret, Dubravka Ugresic, Rodrigo Fresán, Yiyun Li, and Helen Oyeyemi. Matthew Ritchie will talk with Ben Marcus, and there will be a panel discussion entitled "The Secret Life of Secrets." The evening will be moderated by John Hodgman. Surprise guests are likely.

Tickets are free: call (212) 229-5600. Co-sponsored by the New School Graduate Writing Program. More info


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Allen St. Buffalo, NY

How did I never notice this weirdness on the west side of Holley Farms? I guess because I've never walked by during the day, having only viewed it from Hardware, late at night.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Queen City Bee

[Loyal readers may wish to return next week when regular posts on The Dizzies resumes. Until then, Arlo is here with some updates from Buffalo. Apologies...]

While Dizzymaster Ed has gone into hiding (possibly in Chester, NY; more likely in Manitoba), Dizzyhead Arlo is enjoying some Stanley Cup playoff action, which can be difficult without cable television... but AM radio isn't so bad when there's Rick Jeanerette (now in his 34th season of Sabres play-by-play).

I know we are all counting on a Sabres win tonight for a comfortable 3-0 lead in the series. Hopefully things won't get ugly again (like in Monday's 8-2 rout when Philly earned over 60 minutes in penalties) and the Flyers can show some restraint.

The officiating so far in the series has been stellar, with few bad calls and penalties assessed even during both OTs in Game 1. To guide you as you watch tonight's game, pay a visit to the NHL Officials page on hand signals. I particularly like Boarding, which would be a pretty dull signal if it weren't for that moustache. If you flip through all of them fast enough (perhaps while listening to some LCD Soundsystem?), looks like it could be the next big dance craze.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Doozies

The Dizzies is taking the week off. Like the turtle in the photo above (courtesy Dizzyhead Arlo), I'll be retreating into a pond for a while . . . until then, why not go shopping? Dizzyhead Christine has alerted me to some crucial furniture. (Click on the little box toward the left that says "bibliochaise.")

I leave you with a question—and two random quotes found in my notebook:

The question is, Does anyone know what to do when the wheel of your iPod appears "stuck"?

Quote #1: "When I make a work, I often take it to the very edge of its collapse—and that's a beautiful balance." —Andy Goldsworthy, in Rivers and Tides

Quote #2: "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your afro grow?"
"With Afro Queen, and Afro Sheen, and a touch of Afro Glow!"
—Xanadu, "Sure Shot"

See you soon!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Character study

Did you know that the shapes of the Korean letters, invented by King Sejong in the 14th century (or rather more likely by his royal alphabet makers) are said to be based on the position of the tongue, teeth, glottis, etc. for the sounds in question? I personally have never been able to see the correspondence entirely clearly, but it's a romantic thought. Arts & Letters Daily links to a piece in the Telegraph that offers some food for thought. And I forgot where I got this link, but Peter Cho's Takeluma is a project for a "sound symbolic, phonetic alphabet" that suggests smoke from moving cigarettes merged with Gregg shorthand.

While we're at the building block level: Dizzyhead Paul alerted me to the appearance of Harry Stephen Keeler Society head honcho Richard Polt on NPR. Richard's other big obsession is antique typewriters—check out his beautiful, informative page.

A few weeks back, when Richard told me he'd been interviewed for NPR on the subject, I asked him for the dope on where his two obsessions intersected—to wit, what sort of typewriter our man HSK used. He replied:

It was an early L.C. Smith (1910 or so), with carriage
return lever on the right. I believe he got it in his early short-story
days, and kept it all his life. I wonder what became of it; that would
be the ultimate find for me! As a substitute, I have a similar L.C.
Smith of my own.

A couple days later, I came across this passage in Keeler's The Riddle of the Traveling Skull, in which our hero analyzes the letter quality of a certain poetic manuscript:

I found, with little or no trouble, barbs missing on the righthand side of all the capital I's; the small l's all broken across their middles;the loops of all the b's filled up with ink; and the 'o' and the 'u' invariably touching—almost interlinking—whenever the latter directly followed the former. That particular characteristic, I knew, indicated a pure idiosyncrasy of type-touch upon a machine like the L.C. Smith.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


In a couple years, swimming might be allowed! Thanks to Dizzyhead Arlo for the pic.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A scattering of salts

My review of David Mitchell's Black Swan Green is up at the Voice. An irrelevant illustration is available here.
If you're in the market for a 14th and 15th way of looking at BSG, visit this site, which discusses the concept of outliers (using a "black swan" example) and also invokes James Merrill's poem "Black Swan." (Dizzyhead Benno tipped me off to the Merrill.)

Soundtrack: Human Television.

Props to James Marcus. Big ups to Light Reading. And hello, Moss Jervins.

If you haven't already, check out the debut issue of Brigid Hughes's excellent new journal, A Public Space.

Hats off to Chuck Eddy, a dedicated editor.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Natural history

I don't remember writing this . . .

Sunday, April 16, 2006

From the archives

This was written prior to a reading on October 13 of last year:

Fantasia Barrino
In the tradition of Henry James, Fantasia Barrino—the most exhilarating of
the American Idol winners—dictated her first book, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale. (She's recently stated that she is illiterate, and learning to read.) HJ is OK, but he never got to digress on "Baby Got Back": "That song, which was a top-selling song, is how I learned what to wear to make my butt look bigger than it was."

Friday, April 14, 2006

The sixth sense

To see: Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation at BAM tonight — with Dizzyhead Dennis doing the Q&A afterward.

To listen: Harlem Shakes.

To explore: The 365 Days Project (via Pop With a Shotgun).

To read: James Schuyler's What's for Dinner?

To look at: New stuff at Mr. Saturnhead.

To smell: Flowers.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yay! Boo! But mostly yay.

British SF writer Steve Aylett mentions Harry Stephen Keeler in this Bookslut interview...but he takes the Otto Penzler line and calls him a "crappy" writer.

Uh, no, Steve: The crappy writer would be you, at least if we're talking about Lint. (Lint's ersatz comic book The Caterer is a weird treat, though.)

Now that we're in link mode:

Happy 100th birthday, Samuel Beckett. We raise a glass to your ghost.

The Voice's Education Supplement is out. Learn about the Christian college in the Empire State Building, a truly weird episode in the history of stuttering research, and more...I will share with you a late-breaking joke I e-mailed to Jessie Pascoe once her piece on drunk dialing was finished. After discussing some websites that put downloadable MP3s of soused folks' ramblings online, Jessie concludes: "Such complicated communication strategies didn't exist in our grandparents' day. There was no publishing of a drunken telegram in the city's newspaper."

But wouldn't it be funny if there was some long-lost gazette that did publish such missives? Dear Madame stop I harbor a pause that is to say a pause deep pause hankering for you stop wha stop wheresh my buggy stop

Sounds like something Paul Collins might dig up! Dizzyheads are invited to post their variations below...and encouraged to visit Married to the Sea, your one-stop site for hilariously repurposed period illos.

* * *

Over at Light Reading, Jenny muses on imaginary books and in particular Stanislaw Lem's A Perfect Vacuum.

* * *

A note in lieu of further links: If you don't subscribe to Manhattan User's Guide, definitely do. Even if you don't live in the city, it's worth it for the occasional "Hump Day" posts alone. (And it's free!) Yesterday's featured a raft of fascinating diversions, including an URL for the Museum of Temporary Art.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Million Word March

Jordan Davis's Million Poems Show tonight featured Joshua Clover, on tour for his new book of poems, The Totality for Kids.

Sample excellent Clover line: "Can the alphabet be said to have its own weather?" ("Baroque Parable")

(From another Jordan Davis page, we learn: "In 1990 I had a dream in which I was instructed to write a million poems, which I immediately set out to do.")

Earlier today, I read Dizzyhead Christine's piece about the English language's imminent attainment (according to the founder of the Global Language Monitor) of its millionth word.

One of many interesting facts in the article: It's estimated that counting to 1 million will take you 23 days. Earlier this week, I read in William Poundstone's Fortune's Formula about the MIT mathematician Edward O. Thorp. As a baby, Thorp didn't speak until age three. When he did, it was a complete sentence: "Oh, he's gone to buy a shirt." (This was in response to a comment overheard in a department store elevator.)

Six months later, he counted to a million.

The Shins

Shin Sang-Ok/Simon Sheen, R.I.P.

From my review of a 2004 Korean filmfest:

Simon S. Sheen, of 3 Ninjas fame, is no kin to Charlie, but rather one of the few filmmakers to see just how ronery North Korea's Kim Jong Il can get. In 1978, the cinemaniac Dear Leader kidnapped the South Korean director (né Shin Sang-ok) and his actress wife, employing them in the North for eight years. The Walter Reade's S.K. retro offers a pair of early Shins. Living up to its Baudelairean tag, Flowers in Hell (1958) is a tale of two brothers and the hussy who tears them apart, amid the spleen of Seoul, in particular the U.S. military compound and the desperate parasites surrounding it. Country mouse Tongsik comes to the city to search for his older brother, a thug planning a railway heist. Yankee brew causes Tongsik to succumb to his big sib's lover; this fall from innocence is recorded in the next morning's outré getup of Hawaiian shirt and argyles.

Shin manages a decent chase scene before busing his survivors to the happy-ending countryside. But all's not well there, judging from The Houseguest and My Mother, his 1961 chamber piece about a young, painfully proper widow and the too-gentlemanly boarder who loves her. Shin gets maximum impact from the restrained performances, and a little girl's singsong narration keeps things just this side of wrist-slitting despair. In a beautifully compressed sequence, the widow's enraptured piano playing, shot at a sinking-ship angle, reaches her secret admirer, who has just lovingly sketched her daughter.

Smells Like Spirit Photography, #3: You Got Served!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Inspirational deliberately misheard Van Morrison lyric

Grab it, catch it
Fly it, sigh it
Come on—diet!


Monday, April 10, 2006

Back to Skull

I thought I'd tracked down all my assorted plugs for Harry Stephen Keeler. Then I stumbled across this one.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chicago Bleeder

Don DeLillo's latest play, Love-Lies-Bleeding, is opening soon in Chicago. An AP story gave this rundown on his previous theatrical endeavors:

In 1987, a dismayed Frank Rich of The New York Times compared "The Day Room," DeLillo's first play, to "`One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' as it might be rewritten by a pretentious undergraduate who has just completed the midterm."

A decade later, the Times' Peter Marks found "Valparaiso" to be "flawed and only mildly provocative."

Ed Park of The Village Voice was more impressed, saying the play reaffirmed DeLillo as a spokesman for "our American magic and dread."

(Of course, "American magic and dread" isn't my own formulation—it's from White Noise.)


Reading a review in Time Out for "Making Your Mark: On Paper," an exhibit at the Brooklyn Arts Council Gallery, I couldn't tell if the writer was being slyly ironic at the end:

"Chances are, most visitors to the show will be at BAC for a grant workshop or the like. But one hopes they'll stay long enough to ponder all the trouble artist Scott Henstrand went to when he wrote the word EXEGESIS backward and upside down in charcoal on a long scroll of paper. Such devotion to craft is unmistakable and impressive whatever the setting."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Ultimate

[Claude] Shannon's "Ultimate Machine" was the size and shape of a cigar box. On the front panel was a toggle switch. The unsuspecting visitor was invited to flip the switch on. When that happened, the top slowly opened. A robot hand emerged, reached down, and flipped the switch off. The hand retreated, and the lid snapped shut. —William Poundstone, Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street

Friday, April 07, 2006

Smells Like Spirit Photography, #2: Heads Will Roll

(Watch this space for a different spirit photograph.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

We missed it

From yesterday's Manhattan User's Guide:

Time Geek Jackpot
You may have missed it early this morning, but you have one more chance to note the last time this will ever happen. At two minutes and three seconds after 1:00, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Roaming charges

I am searching for something far more mysterious. It is the path told of in books, the ancient obstructed path, the path to which the weary prince could find no entrance. It is found at last at the most forlorn hour of the morning, when you have long since forgotten that eleven or twelve is about to strike. . . . And suddenly, as one thrusts aside bushes and brier, with a movement of hesitating hands unevenly raised level to the face, it appears in sight as a long shadowy avene, the outlet of which is a small round patch of light.
—from The Wanderer, Ch. IX ("In Search of the Lost Trail")

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Nine people's favorite thing

You have until April 23 to see the musical [title of show], over at the Vineyard Theatre on East 15th. It's the delightful, toe-tapping equivalent of Escher's hand drawing a hand, or Lem's book review, in A Perfect Vacuum, of a book called A Perfect Vacuum. Faced with an impending deadline for a theater festival, two struggling collaborators decide to write a musical about . . . writing a musical, enlisting two actress friends along the way. Everything anyone says becomes part of the script — but of course even these spontaneous speeches are scripted. Even filling out the festival application form becomes songworthy (yes, in "Filling Out the Form"). Things really hit the vertigo point when the musical is submitted and the creators bring the show to the festival . . . and perform it . . . and look for backers . . . and pose for photo shoots — but is the play finished, or are these elaborations part of the play?

We turn again to Destroyer to help us ponder:

Was it the movie or the "Making of Fitzcarraldo"
where someone learned to love again?
"I can't remember" is not the same as "I don't know"...

"Virgin With a Memory"

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Weekend addition

Weekend Destroyer lyric pick:

Medium rotation, the shock of the new,
And a memo from Feldman saying "Everything is true."
—"The Sublimation Hour"

Weekend download pick: MC Lars, "Download This Song"

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