Sunday, September 30, 2007

When the sky is white

Dizzyhead Bess weighs in with her likes and dislikes—niiiice:

I like:

the scent of oranges, coffee, patchouli, toasted bread, podcasts, the A train, London, patios, the ocean, Murakami, Calvino, Benjamin, hosiery, rooftops, possibility, 17th Street, the University of Washington campus, print media, ivy, text messaging, drugstores, manicured fingernails, humidity, silk, sleigh beds, oriental rugs on wood floors, eyes that change colors

I don't like:

baseball caps, FM radio, stale air, one-story houses, Duane Reade, laugh tracks, capers, strong-smelling fish, pork rings, strip malls, firearms, deserts, when the sky is white

I'm continuing the contest for one more week, so send your entries to thedizziesATgmailDOTcom!


Saturday, September 29, 2007

J'aime meme

Poet Ange Mlinko picks up the j'aime/je n'aime pas meme at the Harriet blog—a sample:

J'aime: All sweets, Alsatian Pinot Gris, Calvados. Peasant fare: minestrones, bourguignons, bouillabaisses, borschts. Paprika. Butter. Having someone else cook....

Je n'aime pas:

Crowds, arenas. Hiking, camping, wilderness. Sports. Onion/garlic powder. Takeout. Skyscrapers, corporate buildings, commercial parks. Midtown Manhattan.

* * *

J'aime has got me thinking about Jaime—specifically, "Jaime Sommers," the titular Bionic Woman. The current show stars Michelle Ryan as Jaime Sommers; but wasn't Lindsay Wagner, in the '70s original, playing "Jamie" Sommers? I was going to attribute the new spelling to the rise of My Name Is Earl Star Jaime Pressly...but now I wonder, have people always spelled "Jamie" as "Jaime"? To me, Jaime wants to be pronounced the Spanish way, High-may...Answers, please!

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Notes on Kamp

Postscript to "Potatohead Blues," from Citizen Truth:

When discussing the origins of food retailer Dean & DeLuca in The United States of Arugula, David Kamp quotes that Woody speech, talking about how he was the man "to articulate the ascent of the 'lifestyle' ethos." Kamp then presents a response by Joan Didion that was in the NYRB. She wrote that the monologue proved the existence of "a subworld of people rigid with apprehension that they will die wearing the wrong sneaker, naming the wrong symphony, preferring Madame Bovary." He gives her credit for noting the beginnings of a new, intensely status-hungry class in America, but notes that she "was being inordinately doomy and apocalyptic." (pp 216-217)

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What I Like / What I Dislike


This panel from Amazing Spider-Man #100 (words by Stan Lee, art by Gil Kane):

And, in particular, the fact that superhero comics storytelling has such limited credibility that it demands captions like this:


The fact that two months later they did this (words by Roy Thomas, art by Kane):

Apparently no cop-out means no cop-out yet. What crap — viva la Six Arm Spider-Man!

(Tangential like: the fact that when Spidey loses his extra apendages he screams "HANDS! HANDS!" In dreams, hands represent "practical and social abilities" — so you see! Spider-Man losing his hands symbolizes his perceived ineffectiveness as a crimefighter. Dude, comics are totally smart.)


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Memory *can* wait

Is it Winter time? Yes and yes...

Favorite quote: "Consumers of Internet-based services do need to press for more humane uses of data retention," says Dan Visel, a fellow at the Institute for the Future of the Book in New York.

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"Potatohead Blues"

From Woody Allen's Manhattan:

Well, all right, why is life worth living? That's a very good question. Well, there are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. Uh, like what? Okay. Um, for me... oh, I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... and Willie Mays, and... the second movement of the Jupiter Symphony, and... Louie Armstrong's recording of "Potatohead Blues"... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... those incredible apples and pears by Cezanne... the crabs at Sam Wo's... Tracy's face...

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Nabokov's lists

In a documentary I remember or seem to remember, Nabokov is asked about his likes and dislikes; he conveniently has his notebook nearby, and turns to a page with the appropriate lists...I haven't been able to find this amusing episode in Strong Opinions—did I imagine the whole thing? The one dislike I recall was "music" (or perhaps something more specific: "elevator music," "jazz"). Here's a list of dislikes (or indifferences) from the intro to Bend Sinister (the 1963 Time-Life books edition):

I have never been interested in what is called the literature of social comment (in journalistic and commercial parlance: 'great books'). I am not 'sincere', I am not 'provocative', I am not 'satirical.' I am neither a didacticist nor an allegorizer. Politics and economics, atomic bombs, primitive and abstract art forms, the entire Orient, symptoms of 'thaw' in Soviet Russia, the Future of Mankind, and so on, leave me supremely indifferent.

In Strong Opinions, we find:

Still there must be things that move you—likes and dislikes.

My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music [!]. My pleasures are the most intense known to man: writing and butterfly hunting.

There are also numerous instances where he lists authors he likes and dislikes, which I'll spare you for the moment...

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cormac McCarthy!

Jenny weighs in...(I was afraid she'd write "Don DeLillo"!)

I like/I don't like

I like: grapes, trashy novels, being lazy, the eighteenth century, irises, yellow freesias, good friends, salted cashews, anchovies, e-mail, miniature things, luridly iced cupcakes, the buttery taste of yellowtail, performing animals, glass eyes, Fabergé eggs, any and all cats, Jameson on the rocks, cold beer, autumn, filet mignon, salt bagels, fruit tarts, primates, blogging, working as hard as I can, the idea of north, training, swimming, running, racing, teaching, reading, writing, cardigans with zippers, nineteenth-century novels, Shakespeare, Chanel lipstick, revenge tragedies, my iPod and what’s on it, Annick Goutal Eau de Sud, making good things happen, New York, cities, the ocean when it’s cold enough to wear a sweater outside, blue aquamarine.

I don’t like: mayonnaise, dill, nutmeg, cellphones, slow elevators, balls bouncing loudly, crackly plastic bags, nostalgia, things that crash my computer (Internet Explorer, electronic letters of recommendation), sleeplessness, second thoughts, having my judgment questioned, being read aloud to, narrative jokes, grading papers, Cormac McCarthy, losing things, loud music in restaurants, unsalted butter, New Historicism, being bored.

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Another Dizzies challenge!

This one comes from Jenny D, and is based on this short text by Barthes. Send your lists to thedizziesATgmailDOTcom!

J’aime, je n’aime pas ~ I like, I don’t like

I like: salad, cinnamon, cheese, pimento, marzipan, the smell of new-cut hay (why doesn’t someone with a “nose” make such a perfume), roses, peonies, lavender, champagne, loosely held political convictions, Glenn Gould, too-cold beer, flat pillows, toast, Havana cigars, Handel, slow walks, pears, white peaches, cherries, colors, watches, all kinds of writing pens, desserts, unrefined salt, realistic novels, the piano, coffee, Pollock, Twombly, all romantic music, Sartre, Brecht, Verne, Fourier, Eisenstein, trains, Médoc wine, having change, Bouvard et Pécuchet, walking in sandals on the lanes of southwest France, the bend of the Adour seen from Doctor L.’s house, the Marx Brothers, the mountains at seven in the morning leaving Salamanca, etc.

I don’t like: white Pomeranians, women in slacks, geraniums, strawberries, the harpsichord, Miró, tautologies, animated cartoons, Arthur Rubinstein, villas, the afternoon, Satie, Bartók, Vivaldi, telephoning, children’s choruses, Chopin’s concertos, Burgundian branles and Renaissance dances, the organ, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, his trumpets and kettledrums, the politico-sexual, scenes, initiatives, fidelity, spontaneity, evenings with people I don’t know, etc.

I like, I don’t like: this is of no importance to anyone; this, apparently, has no meaning. And yet all this means: my body is not the same as yours. Hence, in this anarchic foam of tastes and distastes, a kind of listless blur, gradually appears the figure of a bodily enigma, requiring complicity or irritation. Here begins the intimidation of the body, which obliges others to endure me liberally, to remain silent and polite confronted by pleasures or rejections which they do not share.

(A fly bothers me, I kill it: you kill what bothers you. If I had not killed the fly, it would have been out of pure liberalism: I am liberal in order not to be a killer.)

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More Newsfeeds™

A "guide horse"!...Finnegans Wake soundtrack!...Dizzyhead Martin sends us his rather agreeable interview with Studs Terkel: "I’m just myself, a somewhat slovenly, gravel-voiced guy."


Dizzies Newsfeeds™ for Tuesday, September 25—how is it the last week of September?!

Friend Leland sends in this new bit of one-word poetry, "Lion-eating poet in the stone den," to give "Buffalo buffalo..." a run for its money...New Psychic Envelopes activity—no, not the mega-single "Berlin Wall," but a double cover of Team Knucklehead and some unknown band out of Liverpool!...Finally saw Once, and I concur with Atkinson and the Termites—loved this movie! Termite Matt points out that a version of "Falling Slowly" that stars Glen Hansard (of the Frames) and Marketa Irglova played on The Tonight Show "doesn't have the same heat, the same exhilarating release of energy as the version in Once." The song gets embedded in your head—I was humming it as I walked home—and I think part of the reason is the very canny way it's presented in the film: We watch and listen as Hansard teaches the song to Irglova (they are nameless in the movie), at the back of the music store where she sometimes goes to practice piano; he sings out the parts for her before he starts playing the song proper, and this makes our encounter with the song as fresh as hers (as theirs, really, since this is the first time they've played it together)—we're learning it at the same time...Once opens on Hansard playing Van Morrison's "And the Healing Has Begun"; here's footage of him singing VM's "Astral Weeks"...Dizzyhead L. muses on post-apocalyptic lit—and film—and TV—and music...Dizzyhead Thomas has a blog..."Things I Learned in 2002," a short prose piece by Dizzyhead/Psychic E. chanteuse Sarah is the basis for this terrific short film...She looks Asian!...I have a Dizzyhead meme/contest in the works...STAY TUNED...

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Nabokovian nugget

Did you know that Nabokov's son, Dmitri, made his operatic debut in the same production of La Bohème that Pavarotti did?

(From Roger Boylan's "Nabokov's Gift," Boston Review)


Help the Aged, Part XXVII

This made me laugh:

Don’t miss
author of
Winner of the $135,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

at the 92nd St YMCA

8:00 PM
92nd Street YMCA
Kaufman Concert Hall
1395 Lexington

New York, NY

A reading with Lydia Davis.
Tickets are $18, or $10 for age 35 and under.

35 and under???


"Everything is business"

Dizzyhead Jorge asks, "Why is Motoko Rich always the bearer of bad news?"

Also: The New-York Ghost stubbornly resists misguided new punctuational trends...and Paul Hornschemeier (The Three Paradoxes) visualizes Ted Kooser's "The Giant Slide" over at the Poetry Foundation.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Land shark!

In Tofa, a dying Siberian language, that reptile you hope not to step on as you “go” is called a ground fish, not the slithering terror we know as a snake. —"Vigil for the Vanishing Tongue," Mary Jo Murphy, NYT

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A colossal gaffe

War in Korea was provoked by “a colossal gaffe” — the failure of Secretary of State Dean Acheson in a routine speech to include non-Communist South Korea in America’s Asian “defense perimeter.” That oversight caused a reluctant Stalin to unleash North Korea’s army for what Kim promised would be a three-week blitzkrieg to reunite all Korea. He very nearly succeeded.—NYT


You say bernarner...

Rarther delightful Davidsonian post on almer mater and its discontents...Levi looks at a Dostoevsky plot and asks, "What Would Graham Do?"—and shows us what Anthony Powell did...Molls tips us off to a solid tribute album...When (and where) will the Magic Circles author weigh in on Across the Universe?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Or, 'What Are We Doing With Our Lives?'

The New-York Ghost turns the big "one"! Adrian's photo is rather apropos, no? I think it should be the Ghost's new motto.

(Check out A.K.'s special Ghost gallery here.)

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No one here

[I wrote this post for my supersecret class blog.]

I like the title of Miranda July's book of stories, which came out earlier this year...

...but something about it nagged at me.

Then today I suddenly remembered this bio (the title and image freaked me out when I was younger):

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Olaf Fub sez

Dizzyhead Sarah sends us this sentence:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

A sentence? Yes! More here.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds™ for Thursday, September 19

Quotables™: Chuck Klosterman at the Brooklyn Book Festival: "Even with something you absolutely love, if you think about it long enough, you can make it seem horrible."...At the galleries: Duncan Hannah at James Graham (1014 Madison) through 10/7, featuring this delightful scene:

Here's what the young F. Scott Fitzgerald's Buffalo home looks like today (photo from Dizzies team member Arlo):

Haven't read yet: A nicely obsessive Philip K. Dick blog, plus an interview with Jonathan Lethem on PKD...Significant misreading: "Meat" for "meta"...(via BoingBoing, which seems to have a lot of book-related things today.)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Your September misreading

Now that Ought is no longer running, I will on occasion post my misreadings here.

Earlier today I read this Times story; it was only much later that I realized I had started the piece because I thought the headline was: "From Staten Island Haven, Librarians Reveal War's Scars."

(Quips librarian pal MKS: "There's a whole country in Africa inundated with junk mail from the ALA!")

Dizzies Newsfeeds for Tuesday, September 18

The Dizzies: Bringing kittens and owners together since 2004...Best name for a movie theater: The Co-Ed. Also at Dizzyhead L.'s blog, the long-awaited wrap-up to "David Lynch Weekend" and a look at Across the Universe: "The film’s crimes are almost too diverse to list."...Jenny D muses on the soul of a copy editor—while Crude Futures finds a typo in Copy Editor newsletter....Musicwise: Dizzyhead Hua is blogging again! And check out the Gene Clark downloads at Driftwood Singers Present: "Some sort of Jimmy Webb mini peyote blowout"...I guess I won't be seeing Dragon Wars!...Update: Vocabulary builder (Adam Bresnick in the TLS): “[Clive] James’s volume is an exercise in what the psychoanalysts call ‘anamnesia’, or unforgetting, his attempt to present and preserve what he has found most vital in the culture and history that he and the rest of us have, to a greater or lesser extent, lived through over the past decades”...

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds for Monday, September 17

I had a nice time at the Brooklyn Book Festival...there was an odd incident in which a woman walked onto the stage...and patted me on the head; most unnerving. By coincidence, today I listened to "The Poetry Assassination of Kenneth Koch" (a podcast from the Poetry Foundation/NPR)...After the panel I saw an injured rat hobble across the plaza and take shelter underneath a garbage can...

* * *

Ed Halter has (finally!) started a blog. Entitled "My Life and Prophecies," it looks to be graphically (or "graphikally") oriented, with an emphasis on psychics and other odd phenomena of the mind...Most amusing: A teenage Ed took issue with a controversial passage in a Billy Graham book (Deliverance for You). Graham wrote:

Twenty years ago we used to go down to the seaport to watch the ships come in, but now it is the airport to watch the planes come in.

To which an understandably incensed Ed scrawled: "What? Who does this?"

* * *

Dizzyhead Arlo reminds us that F. Scott Fitzgerald (who has been surfacing on The Dizzies lately) spent some formative years in Buffalo, where his father was employed by Procter & Gamble.

At 7, Scott already showed the style that would be his hallmark. So polished was he that his father joked he'd give $5 to hear Scott swear.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Not 'Jaws'...

Today at 5 in Brooklyn: "Everyone's a (Former) Critic"...more here!...

On editing:

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The year 1988 was kind of a blur for me

Hot of the presses—in the Times, Dizzies Team Member Hua (has the blog stopped?!) listens to Top Shelf 8/8/88, a hip-hop CD of dubious provenance.

Afrika Baby Bam of the Jungle Brothers, who contributed the track “Back in the Jungle,” which he said was recorded in 2003, dismissed concerns about the authenticity of the project. “We still remember the culture and tradition,” he said. “How much more do you need, outside of the actual date, to make a record as authentic as you would have made on Aug. 8, 1988?”
Other Dizzies Newsfeeds™: Vocabulary via Edmund Gosse via Levi: jobation is "a lengthy and tedious rebuke"...quinduncs are "gossips or busybodies"...Levi's also got some delightful posts on Ring Lardner and Proust via Powell...Am excited for these 145 short-shorts from McSweeney's, three books by Dave Eggers, Deb Olin Unferth, and (Psychic E. singer!) Sarah Manguso....I don't play a lot of video/computer games, but this Fancy Pants adventure is simple and cheering...A new New-York Ghost is out, the nearly one-year-anniversary edition...How long will it last?!...Press release/reminder, I'll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival tomorrow—here is the official's at "Mainstage (Borough Hall Plaza)":

Three music and arts critics known for their humor discuss what it means to be a critic and the art of writing beyond the review. Featuring popular essayist, memoirist, critic and soon-to-be novelist Chuck Klosterman, Rolling Stone music critic and new memoirist Rob Sheffield, and Believer editor and former Village Voice editor/critic Ed Park whose comic novel Personal Days will be released in 2008.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Thinking inside the box

Great headline in the Times the other day: "Redefining the Architecture of Memory," about a possible quantum leap (I feel like the hack in The Last Samurai who uses scientific terms willy-nilly) in data storage:

If an idea that Stuart S. P. Parkin is kicking around in an I.B.M. lab here is on the money, electronic devices could hold 10 to 100 times the data in the same amount of space. That means the iPod that today can hold up to 200 hours of video could store every single TV program broadcast during a week on 120 channels.

The headline recalls what might be the metaphor, for me—the mental building as storage place for mnemonics, as described in Frances Yates's The Art of Memory. The story is fascinating—will we walk around with the contents of an entire college library clipped to our belts?—and I like how it goes from the best metaphor to this one (which I suppose is not actually mixed):

"Stuart marches to a little bit of a different drummer, but that's what it takes to have enough courage to go off the beaten path," said James S. Harris, an electrical engineering professor at Stanford University and co-director of the I.B.M.-Stanford Spintronic Science and Applications Center.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

From the Complete Works of E.P., Vol III

On rodents

In Stuart Little 2, the titular fur-face (voiced by Michael J. Fox) experiences growing pains that would be mundane if he weren't a mouse: Now the middle child of the Little household, he's no longer the main playmate of brother Jonathan Lipnicki (contracted to appear in every children's film until 2010). New companionship comes in the form of Margalo (Melanie Griffith), an adroitly animated Tweety-moll, all hops and twitches, with a cute aviator helmet and a fondness for precious stones. Tending to her injured wing, Stuart falls for her, and by the time rodent and bird are parked at the drive-in (actually just a TV), watching the Cypress Point clinch from Vertigo, the film has become the summer's most romantic interspecies love story. As with Hitchcock, that swooning sensation finds a corollary in menace at great heights, though here the falls are broken by toy airplanes, impromptu parachutes, and buckets sproinging on flagpoles. When Stuart tells Margolo that her wing is as good as new, she demurs, then appears to allude to the relative merits of SL2 and its cloying predecessor: "It's much, much better."

July 2002
New York City

Dub housing

On the front of today's Metro Section is a photo of houses in chronic disrepair; when I saw it, I thought, I hope this isn't a street in Buffalo....then I looked below the fold...

From the Complete Works of E.P., Vol. XIV

On a film entitled Clifford's Really Big Movie

"This is so lame," moans a spectator at a third-tier circus featuring a bovine funambulist, rocket-propelled hound, juggling ferret, and weightlifting chihuahua. That judgment, uttered early on, might apply to the rest of this flatly animated, padded-out trip to the kiddie-flick doghouse. Clifford (voiced by the late John Ritter) is a gigantic crimson canine who assists the ragtag crew in their quest to win the Tummy Yummies pet food talent contest. As Larry, the kindly animal trainer, conveniently remarks to the aforementioned ferret, "We sure could use a big red dog for our show." Still, Clifford has its irreducible mysteries. To wit: Why big? Why red? Why dog?

February 2004
New York City


"...he already saw his best years fading behind him though he was only thirty-seven..."

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Postscript: Daniel Clowes

Some exciting news via Fantagraphics—but notice the punctuation!

This Sunday, September 16th, The New York Times will launch a new weekly comic strip in the “Funny Pages” section of The New York Times Magazine by graphic novelist Daniel Clowes (Ghost World, Ice Haven). Titled “Mister Wonderful,” the strip will run through mid-January 2008 and replaces Megan Kelso’s “Watergate Sue,” which wrapped up this past Sunday (Sept. 9).

Of course, there were no italics at all—the Times wasn't ital'd...

I give up!

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Italics Part 2

A spirited side discussion has sprouted over the italicizing (or not, as I remember!) of newspaper comic-strip names. Italicizing Peanuts or Garfield or Prince Valiant or Mary Worth makes sense—these are like the titles of television shows, unfolding episode by episode, or (more to the point) comic book series—X-Men, Richie Rich, and of course Spider-Man. (What to do about Spider-Man/Spider-Man? Should the newspaper comic be rom, the bound comic be ital'd?)

Counterargument: The names of columns—like my S.F. column Astral Weeks—are generally not italicized (nor are they set in quotes). "Did you read this week's Ethicist?" (While it wouldn't look bad to set "Ethicist" in quotes, I don't think anyone would suggest setting it in itals.) (The roman, no quotes style extends to names of newspaper sections—"Could you pass me the Sunday Styles?")

So—I would say that comics are at least as similar to columns as they are to television shows.

A friend disagrees: "One involves characters and plots (even if the plots are a rudimentary three-panel gag), which makes it a narrative format, which columns generally are not, but which novels and TV sitcoms and dramas are."

This is certainly true. (And I'll consider one-panel gags to have characters/plot, though this is a bit trickier perhaps with something like The Far Side, which had no continuing characters.)

But what do you do with something like Slylock Fox or that science-oriented feature whose name escapes me, which appear on the comics page but are more like a bunch of facts, quizzes, games? Ital or roman?

If you ital Slylock Fox, do you then ital the Wonderword word-find puzzle, or Jumble? (Or Let's Sew, the sewing-pattern featurette? Maybe no papers carry this anymore...but remember, I was born in 1882.) It's a slippery slope.

* * *

Which brings us to: What's the style for games?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dizzies Press Release — Brooklyn Book Festival

Though I don't live in Brooklyn, I'll be on a panel at next Sunday's Brooklyn Book Festival, with Chuck Klosterman and Rob Sheffield! It's at 5 p.m., on the main stage at Borough Hall Plaza. (OK, I have no idea where that is...) Lots of good stuff going on—more info here....

* * *

In other news...Restricted View on For Better or For Worse..............Does one italicize comic strip names?................Speaking of copy-editing mysteries: Molls on Pilates—or is that pilates?.............................New Psychic Envelopes single is out..........(more info here).................................Slate says no to exclamation points (via Dizzyhead Jen)...but Jenny D is on a quest to reclaim them! So am I!.............Jonathan Franzen: "It sat in a drawer for twenty years".............Jonathan Lethem: "the hapless and poignant Julian Lennon"..........Thought: My favorite humor site might actually be Cracked, when they do their musical lists........Thought: This lyric (from Cream) has always bugged me:

I told you not to wander 'round in the dark
I told you 'bout the swans, that they live in the park
Then I told you 'bout our kid, now he's married to Mabel

...........................Mabel?...This also doesn't sound so great, alas (via Dizzyhead Brent):

Across the Universe takes place in a ‘60s England and America in which there are no Beatles, only Beatles songs. Jude, a Liverpool dockworker, jumps off a steamer in America to find his father; at Princeton, he meets up with happy-go-lucky soon-to-be-dropout Max and his ethereally beautiful sister Lucy.

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The more things change™

Who wrote this–and when?
I need not call your attention to the signs of the times in respect to Magazine literature. You will admit the tendency of the age in this direction. The brief, the terse, the condensed, and the easily circulated will take place of the diffuse, the ponderous, and the inaccessible. Even our Reviews are found too massive for the taste of the day—I do not mean for the taste of the merely uneducated, but also for that of the few.

(More at Meridian)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


My memory might be playing me false, but hasn't every September 11 in New York, from 2001 to 2006, been piercingly beautiful—sun, blue skies? And the weather somehow made the connection to 9-11 that much sharper: It was just like today...

(I say this because it's been raining all morning.)

Tucked away in the Times: "I never intended to make flying on Sept. 11 an annual ritual."

MUG runs Anne Sexton's 1975 poem "Riding the Elevator Into the Sky," as it's done for the past couple of years.

I had other stuff to blog about, but let's wait till tomorrow.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Shooting the Breeze

Over at The Millions, appropriately enough, there's information on the world's longest novel, Richard Grossman's Breeze Avenue. Four thousand (!) volumes, of 750 pages each...though it seems that not all of it is written, per se:

Thousands of pages of poetry are translated into other languages—among them, Hebrew, Chinese, American Sign Language and various programming languages— and then back translated to create interchangeable sub-elements of which Grossman claims there are 1,000,000.

The post also has a great Henry Darger quote I've never come across before (H.D.'s novel was 15,000+ pages long):
Darger is said to have commented: "This is what you can do when you have no radio or television."

(Via Conversational Reading.)

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Harry Potter and the Vietnam War

Dear Diary,

Have been seeing fewer people walking around town toting the final Harry Potter book...

On Saturday I saw someone carrying a similarly proportioned tome, in similarly orange-yellow jacket...but it turned out to be:

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

To tell the tlooth

Further evidence that the I've Been Reading proprietor is my Midwestern clone: He's a Harry Mathews fan!

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Time and again

On the repetition beat, Dizzyhead Ben provides the following:

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!' Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'

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EP/MP — Name of the day

EP completists (hi, Dad!) will want to peruse the September issue of Modern Painters, which has my short review of John Porcellino's King-Cat compendium. (Alas, it's not online, though I'll try to get it onto The Unarchivable soon.)

* * *
Some interesting names have been cropping up lately, nomen-omenishly or not: Yurbiladyberth, Jack Hammer, and Poopa Dweck.

But I think this one might be my favorite. He's an associate of beleaguered Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu. He is...Winkle Paw!

The only public evidence of Mr. Hsu’s connection to some of the political contributors who appear in his company’s financial ledger can be found in campaign finance filings. On several occasions, two donors, Winkle Paw, a financial analyst in California, and Paul Su, a computer company executive in New York, described themselves as partners in Mr. Hsu’s companies.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Repeat after me

My latest Astral Weeks column is up at the L.A. Times—I take a look at Osamu Tezuka's Apollo's Song and the second volume (1962–69) of Robert Silverberg's collected stories.

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Who said it?

Editing is like cooking something very delicate that must be milled or strained three or four or five times. –Jenny D, "Aphorism of the Day"

* * *

Do you think Americans have a right to know about a candidate’s personal life? Well, look. What’s that great line? There’s no such thing as a saint without a past and a sinner without a future.

Who said that? I just did.

—Deborah Solomon, "Questions for Christopher Dodd," NYT Magazine

* * *

Half of the people can be part right some of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time.
But all of the people can't be all right all the time.
I think Abe Lincoln said that.
"I'll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours."
I said that. —Bob Dylan, "Talkin' World War III Blues"

Bonus via Moistworks: Dylan on education.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

My proposal for the Collins Library...

Everyone's seen this by now, right?

The Stalags were practically the only pornography available in the Israeli society of the early 1960s, which was almost puritanical. They faded out almost as suddenly as they had appeared. Two years after the first edition was snatched up from kiosks around the central bus station in Tel Aviv, an Israeli court found the publishers guilty of disseminating pornography. The most famous Stalag, “I Was Colonel Schultz’s Private Bitch,” was deemed to have crossed all the lines of acceptability, prompting the police to try to hunt every copy down.

We've got a fuzzbox and we're going to use it

Over at Office Naps, some short and sweet garage rock—a Hawaiian band covering The Who! A Los Angeles East Side Hispanic band covering Them!

This was one of a number of American ‘60s bands named the Jagged Edge. Nothing seems to be known about this particular permutation, though it can be reasonably inferred that their “Midnight to Six” was recorded in 1966, that zenith year of the garage band experience.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


New Bookforum is out—with a strong showing by known Dizzyheads! And my mentor Maureen Howard (Dizzyhead status: unknown!) reviews Ha Jin.

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Go figure

A while back, Dizzyhead Thomas mentioned that Stefan Themerson—who is sort of like Bolaño for me in terms of

numbers of titles in apartment


titles actually read

—made some films. Who knew?

Then the other day I finally bought Queneau's Exercises in Style—you know the New Directions edition with the funny nude drawings of people contorted into letters?

Themerson did those drawings! (There's a hint in that previous link: Themerson and his wife Franciszka's Gaberbocchus Press put out Exercises, in Barbara Wright's translation, in 1947.)

For more on Themerson, read Dizzyhead Ben's piece from the PTSNBNLS.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Nomen is . . . oh, man!

Everyone's read this, right? Lede of the week!

Goodbye, Tutankamen del Sol.

So long, Hengelberth, Maolenin, Kerbert Krishnamerk, Githanjaly, Yornaichel, Nixon and Yurbiladyberth. The prolifically inventive world of Venezuelan baby names may be coming to an end.

If electoral officials here get their way, a bill introduced last week would prohibit Venezuelan parents from bestowing those names — and many, many others — on their children.

Dizzies Newsfeeds™ for September 5

New Believer is out!...Mediabistro has an article ("Scoring an Article at Your Dream Pub") about an article in this issue (Jason Boog's excellent "Skinning the Americans"), which I can't read, as it's behind a subscription wall; it possibly contains some quotes from me...who knows?!...Really cool piece on Borges by Gustavo Turner...Some Psychic activity...Alter-Ed has news of Nicholson Baker's upcoming book...(I guess you can't say he never does the same book twice—A Box of Matches and Room Temperature were perhaps variations on the strategy of The Mezzanine—but his range is impressive and I'm thinking about Perec these days and Baker might be one of the more Perecqian writers working today, in terms of appetite, range? This new book is "an 800-page opus"!...vs. the superslim Checkpoint, which really would work as a playlet)...("writers working today" = FormulaWatch™ would not be pleased!)...Want to inaugurate a new meme/contest via Jenny D but will do so next week...Sure, it's preaching to the converted, but this might be the hottest Atkinson blog post yet..."smirking Barbary ape"..."every limb-scattered intervention"..."teeters on the cliff-edge of nonsense"...This Poetry Foundation podcast is pretty great (listening to New Yorkers read aloud from those "Poetry in Motion" things on the subway)...

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds™ for September 4

1. Today's timewaster, courtesy the Poetry Foundation: Dizzyhead Jessica's roundup of "where poets go online" (including Dizzies faves Cathy Park Hong and Sampson Starkweather, and new Psychic Envelopes vocalist Sarah!)...

2. In the NYT: A delightful review (?) of the new Rolls-Royce (price: $400,000).
Should you be lucky enough to obtain one, would you like it? I found it sublime, although the glovebox is too small for most sizes of the finer mustards.
(I like this sort of wit—the joke that doesn't connect all the dots for you instantly...)

3. Dizzies Team Member R. Emmet Sweeney fondly remembers the Buffalo Drive-In, which closed over the weekend. Another paper also covered the closing—Sweeney's got some issues with it!

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