Friday, March 30, 2007

The Gorey details

When I reviewed the Charles Addams bio and the posthumous Edward Gorey collection last year, I didn't know there was an actual link between the two artists (though one assumes their paths crossed). This is from an interview at the Mystery! site:

Does it bother you when people lump you together with people who do "horror" like Stephen King or Charles Addams?

Yes. Only very occasionally do I try to shock in a mild sort of way. I'm very squeamish really. As for Charles Addams, I knew him. We had the same agent. I occasionally would have lunch with him. I was told he envied me because I had a more highbrow reputation than he did. I love Charles Addams' stuff. I suppose there's always the possibility somebody will come along and want to do the equivalent of The Addams Family movie with my stuff. Well, I'm not that rich, so I'd probably say, "Go ahead."

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Chongqing Express — Georges Perec






Lawrence Weschler should do a "convergences" piece on these images, no? (Second one comes from this article.)

* * *

"It is always the one against the many, with the enemy fungible and all the world a weapon: not just axes and arrows, the 3-Section Whip and the 8 Chop Swords, but fans and fabric shears, benches and banisters, rags and roofing and rope." —Parkus Grammaticus

* * *


Dizzyhead Jason informs me: It's Georges Perec week over at Dennis Cooper's blog—some links:

1) A quick bio.
2) GP on the "infra-ordinary."
3) Some thoughts of his on the art of the crossword.
4) The amazing chess-move structure of his novel Life A User's Manual.
5) A sample of his lipogram in e, A Void.

There's much more, so check it out if you're interested...

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Things that made me laugh today



Fig. 1 — Facial yoga, from the Times...actually, there's another amazing image in this story:




* * *

And—from Dizzies Team Member Hua's Slate piece on Devin the Dude (not to be confused with Dizzyhead Devin):

In 2002, he released the brilliant Just Tryin' Ta Live, wherein "to live" essentially meant "to get as high as humanly possible." It featured the fluttery "Doobie Ashtray," a masterful lament about the need for weed in times of personal crisis, and the heartache of having your last puffs poached by greedy friends.

Elements of style

From Light Reading (on Lionel Shriver):

I have a longstanding obsession with the question of whether we can talk about style as something moralized. Beyond the linguistic or strictly literary aspects of a novel's style, is it just a kind of fallacy to think that styles encapsulate moral orientations towards characters (i.e. would this be better reframed in more technical terms?), or is it fair?

Hoola Hoola!

From Fred R. Shapiro's piece about his Yale Book of Quotations, in The Chronicle:

"Boola Boola." The usual attribution of authorship of this quintessential Eli fight song is A.M. Hirsh, Yale Class of 1901. There are, however, alternative theories. To begin with, it needs to be noted that the Yale song was adapted from an 1898 song by two African-American entertainers, Bob Cole and Billy Johnson, titled "La Hoola Boola." In addition to the "Boola" title, the melody is virtually identical to the earlier song. When the Yale "Boola" song was published in 1901, it had the notice, "Adapted by permission of Howley, Haviland & Dresser." Howley, Haviland & Dresser was the publisher of "La Hoola Boola."


Over the years, some have questioned whether Hirsh was the real adapter. In 1905, Charles H. Loomis, the song's publisher, asserted in the course of litigation with Hirsh that Hirsh's name had been listed as composer as part of a contractual arrangement to promote the song, which had actually been adapted by Loomis himself from "an old song" and which "Hirsh had no more to do with than the man in the moon." The suit was subsequently settled.


In Hawaiian-music circles, it is widely believed that the Hawaiian musician, orchestra leader, and businessman Albert R. (Sonny) Cunha wrote the Yale Boola song. When Cunha died in 1933, The New York Times and The Washington Post both memorialized him as one of its composers.


When I look through the volumes of the Yale Alumni Weekly for 1900 (when the song was first mentioned) and the years thereafter, however, I see that authorship of the song is routinely ascribed to Hirsh. I have found no solid corroboration of the claims for either Loomis or Cunha, so, in the absence of further evidence, Hirsh's claim still appears to be secure, albeit surrounded with some question marks.

Road rules


We all know about this, right? I'm excited.

O: You spent a lot of time in Tennessee. What was that like?
C: Men's memories are uncertain and the past that was differs little from the past that was not.

Here's hoping Dizzyhead Rob will have a full report, when the time comes...

* * *

Maybe everybody knows this—Cormac McCarthy's editor on 1965's The Orchard Keeper was Albert Erskine, who'd edited Faulkner. I just learned this here, on a site with more pics of CMcC than I assumed existed!

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Musical notes

1. A deeply moving Driftwood Singers post, which moves from Percy Sledge to...Black Flag?! (Don't miss the mind-expanding Beach Boys offering.)

2. I didn't realize Robyn Hitchcock was performing here...The Times review by Jon Pareles had me hoping that RH would invoke Roussel in some fashion (here I muse on Groovy Decoy, Gravy Deco, etc.)—

[I]n an unusual burst of straightforwardness, he explained the artistic strategy he has been using since he arrived in 1977 as the leader of the Soft Boys, a neo-psychedelic band in the punk-rock era. “It’s all not so much meaningless as inconsequential, or ultimately painless, if you find the right level to watch things from,” he said. “The trick is to have one eye full of compassion, and the other one has about 500 mil of indifference, and you kind of blend it.”

3. A long Rick Moody post is up at Moistworks.

4. A new pic is up at the Psychic Envelopes site.

5. The Waterboys' Mike Scott vs. Wikipedia in "The Day I Downloaded Myself" (which would make a great Robyn Hitchcock title, no?):

I contacted my correspondent and apologised for my bull-in-a-china-shop behaviour. He replied, welcoming my input if backed up by sources, and offered to make the changes for me if I supplied him with documentation. This I've done, finding published references to the facts and sending them to him, to see them appear in what is becoming an increasingly accurate and substantial history of the Waterboys - probably the best there is, at least until I write my own book.

(Via Zoilus.)

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Psychic Boatmen

No wonder we got obsessed with the new Lethem even before we read it!

"Oh, you dizzy kids."
You Don't Love Me Yet, Jonathan Lethem, pg.191

(Via Dizzyhead Kosiya)

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Animal corrective

Once the Roussel bug bites, everything seems devised according to secret principles of composition. This is a story from CNN entitled "World's tallest man ties knot"—

Bao was in the news in December after he used his long arms to save two dolphins by pulling out plastic from their stomachs.

The dolphins got sick after nibbling on plastic from the edge of their pool at an aquarium in Liaoning province.

Attempts to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic failed because the dolphins' stomachs contracted in response to the instruments, Chinese media reported.

Roussel might have distorted that headline and take the meaning of "ties knot" literally, and painstakingly described this giant's fingers executing all sorts of interesting convolutions on a length of rope.

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The Waiting

Dizzyhead Pete directs us to this fun/scary feature: "What PKD story are we living in today?" (Via Boing Boing...which also has another PKDian link up...)

(My internet is superslowwww today—more posting later, I hope. Just realized why Tom Petty has been running through my head as I watch the little disc swirl on the screen...)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bulletin

Late-breaking joke: A good headline for an article on Roussel would be: "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Or why not just have a sitcom based on his life? His neighbors, the Prousts, could make an appearance every so often.

Also: New Ghost is out...

Ernest and Raymond


Yesterday's twin posts stem from my recent rereadings of Ernest Vincent Wright, American author of Gadsby ("A Story of over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter E") and Raymond Roussel, French novelist and poet. Both can be considered "anticipatory plagiarists" of the Oulipo, though Oulipians tend to dismiss Wright, whose gap-filled magnum opus predates Georges Perec's longer E-less novel by three decades. (This shouldn't be: You can read Gadsby here and decide for yourself!)

What I didn't realize was that EVW and RR were contemporaries. Wright was born in 1872 and died in 1939; Roussel was born in 1877 and killed himself in 1933. Who were the other great hidden prose innovators of that slice of time?

Monday, March 26, 2007

New impressions

This sounds like something out of Raymond Roussel:

(AP) -- A woman was caught with three crocodiles strapped to her waist at the Gaza-Egypt border crossing after guards noticed that she looked "strangely fat," officials said.

The woman's odd shape raised suspicions at the Rafah terminal in southern Gaza, and a body search by a female border guard turned up the animals, each about 50 centimeters (20 inches) long, concealed underneath her loose robe, according to Maria Telleria, spokeswoman for the European observers who run the crossing.

"The woman looked strangely fat. Even though she was veiled and covered, even with so many clothes on there was something strange," Telleria said.

The incident, which took place on Thursday, sparked panic at the crossing.

"The policewoman screamed and ran out of the room, and then women began screaming and panicking when they heard," Telleria said. But when the hysteria died down, she said, "everybody was admiring a woman who is able to tie crocodiles to her body."

Quote of the Day

"Books!! Pooh! Maps! BAH!! It's silly to squat in a hot room squinting at a lot of print! If you want to know about a thing, go to work in a shop or factory of that kind, and find out about it first-hand." —Old Bill Simpkins, inveighing against Branton Hills' new library, in Ernest Vincent Wright's Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter E (1939)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Destroyer (and it goes like this)

Arlo reminds me: To the post below with the Wodehouse quote randomizer and Keeler plot generator, we need to add the Bejar-O-Matic. Sample:
It's true, I needed you more back when I was poor
The wealthy dowager, the patroness, she guessed it, the answer wasn't yes

Rock!

'Locos' Solo

Looking for something on Georges Perec, I fished out an old copy of the Review of Contemporary Fiction—the great GP/Felipe Alfau double issue from Spring 1993. Here are two extracts from an interview with Alfau, conducted by Ilan Stavans. (Just discovered—the whole interview is here.)

IS: Why did you become a writer?
FA: I am not a professional writer. Only by necessity have I ever received payment for my work. Dalkey Archive Press offered me money for my two novels but I refused to accept it. For my poems I received $500 because I needed to pay the monthly payment here, in the retirement home. The truth is, I was never interested in writing, nor did I ever dream of making a living at my craft. I hate full-time authors. I hate intellectuals that make a living from abstractions and evasions. The art of writing has turned into an excess. Today, literature is a waster. It should be abolished, at least in the form we know: as a money-making endeavor.

* * *
IS: You come from a family of journalists, translators, and fiction writers....Your sister Monserrat...was close to the publishing house Editorial Porrúa, S.A., in Mexico City. She did translations.
FA: There was a possibility of her translating Locos.
IS: What happened?
FA: I don't know. I don't think the publisher at Porrúa liked the book. I don't blame him!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Fat Superboy

Weekend Stubble-ites have already seen this:



Dizzyhead Brent sends this paean to heft:


* * *

Dizzyhead Douglas is eating every edible plant he hasn't yet eaten: "Cardoons look a bit like taller, wider celery, but they're actually part of the thistle family, and indeed their taste is not entirely unlike artichokes, if not in that neighborhood of divinity."

Via Paper Thin Walls, here's this great Elliott Smith cover site—my song of the day is "Care of Cell 44," but I also recommend the Big Star covers—check out "Nighttime," which I coincidentally (and spur-of-the-momentously) had named one of my top five songs of...forever last month! (Is that me or...Fat Superboy?)

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Homeless Museum is homeless

The Homeless Museum, featured in a Believer piece by Samantha Topol, is shutting its doors:

Brooklyn, March 20, 2007

Dear friends and members of the Homeless Museum,

Madame Butterfly and I regret to inform you that we have decided to officially close HoMu BKLYN as of today.

As many of you know, I founded the Homeless Museum in 2003. It had its humble beginnings online and in a temporary exhibit in a painter's studio in Chelsea before I installed it in our rental apartment in Brooklyn in March 2005. I was always aware that this would be a temporary solution and am grateful for having been able to house the Museum in our home up until now. Sadly, my landlord has recently informed me that he would not tolerate any more openings on the premise unless I sign a commercial lease and carry my own liability insurance coverage, a financial burden I am not able to take on. After consulting with several lawyers, I had to resign myself to stop using my residence for openings, lest I run the risk of being evicted.

I want to thank all of you who came and supported HoMu BKLYN in those two wonderful years. Madame Butterfly and I will miss the magic of our monthly openings. I will forever cherish the memory of welcoming and getting to know you in the coziness of our Staff and Security Department. Madame Butterfly will never again be able to cook eggs and mussels without shedding a tear. As for Florence Coyote, she has vowed to not utter a single word until a new home has been found for the Museum. [...]

Filip Noterdaeme & Madame Butterfly

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Ambiguous Headlines of Note

Gators Pass Tough Test Against Butler

Mar 23, 9:58 PM (ET)
By MARK LONG

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Florida started slowly - again - and
staved off another challenge with a late surge. If
these Gators are going to repeat, it seems they're
going to do it the hard way. Al Horford had 16 points,
seven rebounds and a key block in the final minute to
help the top-seeded Gators hold off undersized Butler
65-57 Friday night.

(Courtesy Dizzyhead Sarah)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Yes!

Most useful site ever (via MUG):

Is It Friday?

A partial list of maneuvers in 'Swordsman 2'


Cool's Sword
Attacking Sword
Merciful Hand
The Reverting Sword
Combination on 4 Stances
Willow Sword
The Slaying Sword
The Whirlwind Blow
The Flying Bomb
Powerful Stance
Essence Absorbing Stance

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Reloadables

From the Random Wodehouse Quote generator (via this Guardian blog):

My Aunt Dahlia has a carrying voice... If all other sources of income failed, she could make a good living calling the cattle home across the Sands of Dee.
Jeeves and Song of Songs (1930)

From the Random Keeler Plot Generator:

The Man with the Transposed Spectacles
When D. Dottison Kreon, a factory electrician, is summoned to the Wiscon City offices of attorney Carpath TerBush, he is shocked to learn that Sir Dudley Seldomridge, the recently deceased banjo magnate, has bequeathed his entire fortune to him; but there is a peculiar condition to this inheritance: within one year D. Dottison must unravel a hidden message concealed within a seemingly random collection of peacock marbles...

Three for Thursday

1.
The commercial for the 2007 Volvo XC70 has a familiar ring to it...the music...could it be...The Feelies?! "Let's Go," off of their eternal 1986 classic, The Good Earth!

2.
At Things I'd Rather Be Doing, an interview with Charles Ardai, the publisher of the excellent Hard Case Crime series. (Via Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind)

3.
And here's an article about a pulp fiction–fest in Providence, home of H.P. Lovecraft. I was especially interested to learn that Lovecraft scholar nonpareil S.T. Joshi is a Brown alum. (Via Complete Review.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Enigmatic references

I. The joy of liner notes:

The strident 'Here Comes The Weekend', with its enigmatic reference to human rights abuses in Zaire, was followed by 'Tonight At Noon' which once again saw Weller turn to poetry for inspiration—this time that of Liverpudlian beatnik Adrian Henri...


II.
Mike Gerber's putting together his very funny "Newsbreaks"—the final punchline here is nicely delivered:



III.
Speaking of news...in the Times today:

A)

Legend has it that eating capybara, known here as chigüire (pronounced chee-GWEE-reh), got a boost in the 18th century when the local clergy asked the Vatican to give capybara the status of fish.
"In Venezuela, Rodents Can Be a Delicacy"


B)
In "Inside Japan's Puzzle Palace," we learn that sudoku can be translated as "bachelor numbers," nurikabe as "islands in the stream," and masyu as "pearls."

IV.
The new Bookforum is out—a lot can be read online, including the return to reviewery (perhaps?) of the great Richard Locke (he of the masterful Gravity's Rainbow review)...also, my PoFo pal Emily Warn rounds up some poetry, Dizzyhead Laird Hunt on Clare Clark, Ben Marcus on Lydia Davis, L.A. Times book review editor David Ulin on Jim Crace, and much more...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

1. Over at the Athanasius Kircher Society, the most amazing three and a half minutes you'll see today. (Via the Light Reader.)

1.5 Update: But this might be the most traumatic two minutes you'll see today—Lily Tomlin and David O. Russell going ballistic on the Huckabees set.

2. Dizzyhead Hua gets Hip—and then realizes it's every which way but Luc.

3. We love us some Arcade Fire most any hour of the day, but the Driftwood Singers present a rather stunning similarity: "Why Win Butler is John McCafferty With a Liberal Arts Degree." Listen if you dare...

4. Speaking of music—new Psychic Envelopes single "drops"!

5. At This Writing Life, an interview with David Mitchell, in which Mitchell comes off as a rather nice guy, asking the interviewer questions about his writing. (Via Conversational Reading)

6. And rounding out our Tuesday morning coverage (whaa.....) — Dizzyhead Jessica muses on "Joan of Arc—Paris Hilton of the Middle Ages?" over at Slate.

7. Oh one more thing: Tuesday means—a new New-York Ghost!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Two tastes of 'The Taste of Tea'

Thanks to Dizzyhead Rob for that elegant post. We've found a few clips on YouTube that give you a sense of the pleasures of this film (though these stress the absurd more than the empathic).

First is a live TV mishap (the three people in the living room's far background are under deep hypnosis):



And . . . "The Mountain Song"!



* * *

Over at the Poetry Foundation site, Gabrielle Bell (whose autobiographical comic Lucky gets the Dizzies seal of approval) does an amazing job translating Emily Dickinson into her medium. It's a stunner!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Taste of Tea (2004)


The Dizzies' movie of the year was made in 2004. This doesn't matter. What does matter is that the invaluable ImaginAsian theater decided to book it for three weeks this month (I also anticipate their release of the even older Ping Pong (2002) in April).

Katsuhito Ishii's deliriously lovely family drama is first and foremost very funny. Very, very funny. From the grandfather's tuning fork non-sequitors to shoreline batting practice, Ishii concocts a stunning array of absurd comic set-pieces - it's impossible to choose a favorite among them (although I'm partial to the anime rave posedown on the subway). They're connected not only by the central node of the serene family home, but by a consistent visual style. Ishii, after lensing the initial comic set-up, pulls (way) back for a painterly landscape shot, turning his characters into dots under blue skies and power lines.

There's more to life than yuks, and as the film progresses it focuses more on character than punchlines - to the son's crush on a fellow Go-team member, daughter Sachiko's mission to complete a backflip, the uncle's impossibly tender reunion with an ex-lover, the mother's return to professional life, and supremely, the grandfather sewing up the final details of his enigmatic life. The way Ishii orchestrates the finale is heartbreakingly brilliant - tying together every wayward aspect of the plot in a few incredibly moving sketches. Then Sachiko smiles and the world is bright.

Hopefully Ishii's next film (co-directed with Hajime Ishimine and Shunichiro Miki), 2005's Funky Forest: The First Contact will wend its way over here to be The Dizzies' film of 2008. From the looks of it it can't miss:

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Ampersand after ampersand


1. Over at Weekend Stubble, Dizzyhead Paul posts some bonus material for his article on Leo Guild, author of The Werewolf vs. Vampire Woman, The Loves of Liberace, Street of Ho's, et al. (At the PTSNBN, the proper spelling was 'ho; the style guide asked, "Does this make any sense? 'No.") Guild writes:

I forgot to mention that werewolves are very strong. Their diet includes such things as animal blood, ailing grandmothers and rancid chicken fat. And they also thrive in the night air.

2. And Dizzyhead Martin's co-blogger Kevin C translates some Anglo-Saxon:
755. Here Cynewulf and the West-Saxon council deprived Sigebryht of his kingdom for wrongful deeds, except for Hampshire, and he had that until he slew that earl who had long lived by him. And then Cynewulf drove him off at the Weald, and there wounded him until a swineherd stabbed him on Privet channel; and he avenged the earl Cumbran. And Cynewulf often fought great fights with the Welsh. And 31 winters after he had had the kingdom, he wanted to drive off a prince who was called Cyneheard; and Cyneheard was the brother of Sigebryht. And then the prince learned of the king being with a small host in the company of women at Merton, and he surrounded him there and attacked the chamber from outside, before the men discovered him who were with the king. And then the king perceived that, and he went to the door, and then bravely defended himself, until he saw the prince, and then he rushed upon him and wounded him greatly; and all were fighting against the king, until they had slain him.
And he notes: "This is one of the earliest prose artifacts in the history of our language. Isn’t it something? Look at that Estilo! It’s like a rhinoceros! Consider how reliant our author was on the word 'and' to get a sentence or clause rolling. Homeboy uses it 17 times."

3. And here's an excellent New Yorker piece alert: Larissa Macfarquhar's piece on a man who tracks down counterfeiters. (Abstract online.) Loads of great details. I especially love the way it begins—several paragraphs in which someone is talking. Pure quotation—she doesn't even identify the speaker. You're carried along solely by his colorful speech and the interesting things he's saying.

4. And isn't it time for some Faye Wong?

5. And in the NYTBR, David Kamp reviews Jonathan Lethem's You Don't Love Me Yet, a Dizzies obsession: "As they’d say in the rock magazines, this new release is worthwhile for the Lethem completist, but perhaps not for the first-time buyer." And a group called The Night Time "covers" the song "Monster Eyes" on their Myspace page—an original song featured in the novel (via CDTMIP).

6. And this is from the TLS via the Light Reader, on Balzac

... his Herculean labours were taking their toll. His hair was turning white and falling out “by the handful”. He was suffering from back pains and dizzy spells. Sometimes he fell into a stupor, and even his special blend of coffee failed to reactivate his brain.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Zazening

1. Zazening (new favorite word) on The Taste of Tea: Two of the film's emotional pivots involve (and I don't think I'm giving anything away) terms that, in English, are complementary, even palindromic: back flip and flip book. Does this adhere in Japanese?

2. In Pale Fire, Nabokov illuminates a trio of words (crown/crow/cow) whose structural similarities hold up across English and Russian (korona/vorona/korova, I think?).

3. The Other Ed zazens on Nicholson Baker. Have you read The Mezzanine lately? It totally holds up!

4. Team Dizzies' own Izzy is (it's a tongue-twister already) writing a column over at Jewcy about her engagement/wedding/everything! Meanwhile, Dizzyhead Mollie blogs about an erroneous wedding guide. All my ex-interns are getting married...

4. Add to queue: I recently caught two movies on a long flight, and both were excellent: Accepted (read Jane Dark's right-on review) and The Prestige (great perfs, dense plotting, down-to-the-wire carpet pulling). Curiously, on the first leg of the trip—on the same airline—I saw about five minutes of what seemed to be one of the worst movies I've sampled, and I don't mean this in a so-bad-it's good way. It was something called From Aristotle to Hawking. It began with someone intoning a passage from Aristotle's Physics . . . with a shot of some branches in a garden . . . for no apparent reason. The title fonts looked like they were done on a kid's computer (it would probably be called "Crayon" or something) . . . It was very strange, and (I began to suspect) very possibly a non-English (Greek?) production, haphazardly translated . . . but neither strange nor Greek enough to keep me watching.

5. Happy St.-Patrick's-Day birthday to two great Americans: Arlo Ogg and Gretta Cohn. (Nifty song on Gretta's page, "Bad Sleep," with the stunning line "Because you dreamed those terrible dreams." Earlier this week, reading the Times piece on the Pogues, I started zazening on their song "Dirty Old Town" (mentioned in the article); the only lyric I could bring to mind aside from the title was the lovely Dreamed a dream by the old canal...)

6. Dizzyhead Martin charmingly caves re the "no pets" rule. Zazen on that fat cat! (UPDATE: This Times article, on a reiki practitioner/cat channeler, gets my vote for headline of the week!)

7. I no longer know if I'm using zazen correctly.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wintry Mix — March version

1. Psychic Envelopes celebrate the season in their trademark desultory way: "Raleigh" (Now the winter stretches endless...) b/w "Winter Losses" (Through the evening covered up with snow...).

2. Deeply moving divorce-based post on Moistworks with a link to Billy Bragg's "A New England." When I mentioned some lines from that song in a Believer piece a while back, I was informed that the couplet in question in fact derived from a Simon & Garfunkel. Can Dizzyheads name another song that's a play on an S&G lyric? (Hint: The band is Canadian.)

3. To do this weekend: The Taste of Tea! I'm serious!

4. There was something else.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Two werewolfs, poignant and schlocky

1. One of the auxiliary policemen killed in the Village on Wednesday night was Nicholas T. Pekearo. According to the Times, he was an aspiring writer who

worked at Crawford Doyle Booksellers on Madison Avenue five days a week for the last five years. “He was steeped in hard-boiled, noir kinds of things,” said the shop’s business manager, Ryan Olsen. “He was our go-to guy for mysteries. He grew up with comics — that was still a love of his.”

He took classes at Empire State College in Manhattan, anticipating graduating within the year, and found a mentor in his literature and creative writing instructor, Shirley Ariker, 66. “He was very inventive, very imaginative,” she said. “He wrote stories about people struggling to do the right thing.”

One novel that several people recalled reading involved a werewolf struggling to do right in a Vietnam-era time of troubles — “how to create good in the world from what is so bad about him,” Ms. Ariker said.

“Nick is a very tender person, a very kind person and a very loving person. I think that’s what he was struggling with. How do you do good in a world where so much bad happens? [ . . . ]"

The werewolf book had piqued the interest of an editor, and Mr. Pekearo was working on a revised draft. “He was just super talented,” said the editor, Eric Raab, of Tor Books. “I see thousands of manuscripts a year. When I saw his, I thought, man, this guy’s got something I’ve got to nurture.”

2. In The Stranger, Dizzyhead Paul writes about pulp novelist Leo Guild:
[I]t's 1972's The Werewolf vs. Vampire Woman that has the reputation among aficionados as the most craptastically awful book ever written. On the extremely loose adaptation of an Italian schlock-horror film, the jacket copy promises a genre I can only describe as ESL horror:

Werewolf Waldo's toothy smile flashes on and off like a traffic light. At times he is completely irrational, with hairy paws, long nails, fang like teeth, growling his uncomplicated desires. At other times he is suave, sophisticated, brilliant, romantic, and very dead. The werewolf performs major surgery on YOU without benefit of a doctor or anesthetic. He wants YOUR body dead or alive. The mystery of Waldo surrounds his strange left ventricle.

Or wait—seven!

The Believer's been nominated for two National Magazine Awards, in the categories of single-topic issue and design.

Will third time be the charm?!

* * *

I've also been thinking about García Lorca . . .

I've got six things on my mind

I. Some humor:

"Thrilling Chapter Endings You May Use in Your Next Novel" (McSweeney's)[LINK FIXED!]

"By the way," [PROTAGONIST] said with a knowing smile, "did I happen to mention that I'm black?"

Note: This ending exploits the white bias of the reader's imagination, and works best if you do not give away the surprise early. Be sure not to give the protagonist any stereotypical "black" characteristics, which you really should be trying to avoid anyway.

"Rhyme Crime: The 20 Worst Rhymes in Pop Music History" (Cracked)

“Giant steps are what you take,
Walking on the moon,
I hope my legs don't break,
Walking on the moon.”


Sting phones it in again. Are limb injuries a big concern for astronauts? Really? Wouldn't an injury be less likely in the diminished gravity? “It’s one giant leap for man, it’s one, ouch, my ankle!”

Dizzyhead Paul wrote me with his candidate (which mysteriously didn't make the list), by "a band that needs no introduction":

My love don't give me presents
I know that she's no peasant...

II. Ample knowledge
And: There seem to be a lot of "AK"s floating around now...The Athanasius Kircher Society
...New-York Ghosters Adrian Kinloch and Aimee Kelley...The Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

III. Right now
Outside my window the birds sound like a video game.

IV. Official Dizzies Movie?


Recently two members of Team Dizzies went to see The Taste of Tea at the ImaginAsian Theater—little did they know it would turn out to be the best movie ever made. As they walked out of the theater and along 59th Street, who did they bump into but yet another member of Team Dizzies, going to see the next ToT screening!



V. Diner
This is very History of Violence, no?

VI. Vocabulary builder
I was reading a Times piece and was using the ill-advised "slowly scroll down by sort of dragging the cursor on the text" method...and apparently it lingered on the word she:

she (shē) pronunciation
pron.
    1. Used to refer to the woman or girl previously mentioned or implied. See Usage Note at I1.
    2. Used to refer to a female animal.
  1. Used in place of it to refer to certain inanimate things, such as ships and nations, traditionally perceived as female: “The sea is mother-death and she is a mighty female” (Anne Sexton).
n.

A female animal or person: Is the cat a she?

[Middle English, probably alteration of Old English sēo, feminine demonstrative pron.]

USAGE NOTE Using she as a generic or gender-neutral singular pronoun is more common than might be expected, given the continuing debate regarding the parallel use of he. In a 1989 article from the Los Angeles Times, for instance, writer Dan Sullivan notes, “What's wrong with reinventing the wheel? Every artist has to do so in her search for the medium that will best express her angle of vision.” Alice Walker writes in 1991, “A person's work is her only signature.” It may be argued that this usage needlessly calls attention to the issue of gender, but the same argument can be leveled against generic he. This use of she still carries an air of unconventionality, which may be why only three percent of the Usage Panel recommends it in sentences like A taxpayer who fails to disclose the source of ____ income can be prosecuted under the new law. • Some writers switch between she and he in alternating sentences, paragraphs, or chapters. This practice has been gaining acceptance, especially in books related to fields like education and child development, where the need for a generic pronoun is pervasive. It can also be seen in academic journals, where the sentence The researcher should note that at this point in the experiment she may need to recheck all data for errors might be followed later in the same section by The researcher should record his notes carefully at this stage. This style may seem cumbersome, but if generic pronouns are required, alternating between she and he can offer a balanced solution in an appropriate context. See Usage Notes at he1, they.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hotel St. George


Hotel St. George is one of the more beautifully designed online lit sites I've seen—it's definitely worth a visit. (This is turning into—an Emily Dickinson poem!) I especially enjoyed Eric Niemi's "12 Books"—can't explain, just take a look. (Now I'm rhyming—!)

Now the HSG has a press, and the first (I think?) title is Aaron Petrovich's Beckettian dialogue The Session, a handsome little book that fans of Laird Hunt might like. (HSG is published by the good people at Akashic.)

* * *

Jane Dark has a terrific Host post . . .

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Delusions of grandeur — New 'Ghost' — short-format humor

I like today's poem—someone named Emily Dickinson?:
Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit—Life!
I also like the dash—and the exclamation point! Most of my e-mails look like this—I'm not kidding!

* * *

New New-York Ghost has emerged, with some amazing photos by Adrian Kinloch.

* * *

This is in tribute to Citizen Truth:

That was an ad homonym attack.

I'll have a cup of Spanish Breakfast.

(Looking into granola and fruit bowl): Hey, I'm going to e-mail you on this blackberry.

What Walter Reade scandal?

When Ex-Presidents Read Blogs

Bush 41 Treated, Released After Dizzy Spell

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ragged Threads

Sometimes I think I should retitle this blog "Ed Picks Up the Paper." Having said that...

I've been reading Daniel Menaker's 1998 novel The Treatment (which has been turned into a film). Last night I came across a passage in which the analyst character (Dr. Morales) asks the narrator (Jake Singer) whether he gives his real name to the doormen at his new ladyfriend's fancy apartment building on the Upper East Side. "I say I'm Judge Crater—what do you think?"

The name rang a distant bell—but it was late and I didn't feel like crawling to the computer to Google/Wiki the allusion. I read on:

"I do not care if it is putting a kanjaroo back into the pouch or cramming a blackbird back into a pie or even up the rectum of the king. Wordplay cannot make emotions disappear, Mr. Singer."
"Like Judge Crater," I said.
"Very good, Mr. Singer. I would wager that your father occasionally referred to this man who vanished and—"
"Sometimes referred."
"—and that you learned about this story from him. [...]

This morning I picked up the Times and made my way through the Arts section, then read a few things in the Metro section . . . and came across this (on the front Metro page):

Mr. Chait [who disappeared while a student at Columbia 35 years ago] never fueled the national intrigue that followed the disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater, who stepped into a cab in Midtown Manhattan in 1930, never to be seen again.
A (small) mystery solved, then . . .
* * *

The chance sequence of two Craters brought to mind another bit in The Treatment, a nice passage about unbidden repetition:

It's funny what happens when you're in psychoanalysis—there are periods when your life takes on the eerie, overdetermined quality of an analytical session, or of the dream you recount in that session. It's as though someone were pulling all the ragged threads of your days into a tight, dark pattern. Conversations echo other conversations, gestures in the present parody gestures from the past, you meet five hairy accountants in the same day, you develop a toothache while watching a movie about a dentist. Your life turns into something like fiction as you bounce from the couch to the allegedly real world and back again, trying to interpret the earliest chapters of your childhood and your work in progress in a way that will lead the later chapters, the ones yet to be written, toward a happier ending than they might have had without such relentless exegeses of the psyche. For me the two weeks following my recollections of Coach Hayes and Chick 'n' Charlie's took on the aspect of a precocious, callow writers' workshop short story, so loaded and worked with resonating themes and images that I'd never have cared about it or even believed it if I'd been reading it in a book.

And talk of these "ragged threads" leads us back to (where else?) our man Harry Stephen Keeler, waxing philosophical about his novel-writing technique:

It is this artificial relationship, this purely fictional web-work plot, this bit of life twisted into a pattern mathematically and geometrically true, that fills the gaps in one's spirit which rebels at the looseness of life as it apparently is.

The quote appears on the inside front cover of every issue of the exemplary Keeler News, edited (for a decade now) by the brilliant and indefatigable Richard Polt.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mirror in the bathroom

From the NYTBR rave for Tom McCarthy's Remainder:


In Ridley Scott’s dystopic film “Blade Runner” (based on the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”), the title character has the unpleasant job of exterminating “replicants” — bioengineered androids designed not to have advanced emotions. To distinguish replicants from their human counterparts, he subjects them to a test called a “void comp,” meant to expose their inadequate capacity to feel. But an unusually sensitive female replicant suspects the blade runner himself of unnatural callousness. “Did you ever take that test yourself?” she asks him. After reading Tom McCarthy’s novel, you know his narrator would fail the test. But “Remainder” raises another uncomfortable question: How many of us could pass it?

There's actually a crucial scene in Remainder that reminds me of a different PKD scenario —so much so that I wonder if it's an homage. In PKD's Time Out of Joint, one character goes into a bathroom and reaches for a pull cord instead of reaching, as usual, for the light switch. (I think this actually happened to Dick himself, an inspiration for the book.) This is one of the first indications that all is not right in the suburban 1950s milieu the characters inhabit—it's a small but significant crack in their world...
In Remainder, it's a literal crack—in a bathroom, no less—that nags at the befogged narrator, and causes him to embark on his project to re-create a setting from (possibly) his previous life, the one before the mysterious accident that has rendered him rich but confused.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

TMI

West Coast Ed talks to David Lynch—mostly about TM, but it's oddly riveting nevertheless...Possible title for book?: I Feel Great About My Neck.....A rather stinging rebuttal (in the NYTBR) to the New Yorker's piece on the Poetry Foundation.....speaking of which, I am going to be blogging at the PoFo site on occasion (the blog is called Harriet)....whenever I get poetic thoughts!......Lawrence Weschler wins the National Book Critics Circle Award for the consciousness-changing Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences.......Netflix woes: I've had Nashville in my DVD player for about two weeks now....it is the movie that will not end............John Leonard's NBCC Lifetime Award acceptance speech is readable online......Arlo Ogg is in Puerto Rico and recently heard Donald Hall read........that's not why she was there, though.....I Feel So-So About My Neck.....Friend Tim Joyce has a tennis blog.......A letter from John Clare, written in 1848 from Northampton Asylum, is up at Conchology......1848 is also the year in which Kurt Andersen's new novel takes place......What were you doing in 1848?.......Eh?........Oh right......Me too......Am writing this way because a new Fence magazine has two new things by Chelsey Minnis.........................I Have Come to Terms With My Neck....From the Clare letter (above): MY DEAR WIFE I have not written to you a long while, but here I am in the land of Sodom where all the people's brains are turned the wrong way.......Which reminds me—I wasn't going to write about this but: Have you been following the AsianWeek fiasco? The racist column?.........Most people are missing the point (or are simply laughing at the author's twisted logic and self-published fantasy fic)—it's not whether the column is racist or not, but why the author hasn't sought (or been led to) a mental health professional....Watching 10 seconds of him defending himself is—heartbreaking.....I think that's the word........How an editor could have failed to see that there was a real problem, maybe a life-and-death problem, an illness—something beyond the objectionable content of the writer's copy—is a mystery........suddenly this post has become very serious.....................UPDATE: I thought of two good jokes today, which I might share with you later.......I have to work on them a little...........A story of mine will appear in the next issue of LIT......many thanks to Danielle Winterton!............The 10th anniversary edition of the Keeler News is out, with a glorious full-color cover..........I Have No Neck........the Site Meter on this blog is busted..................Neck Deep, by Ander Monson...........Another lost Psychic Envelopes
song
............

Friday, March 09, 2007

The most dangerous game


What interests me is the ticker: It sounds like Borges has been playing chess. (With Nabokov?)

Don't pass the Bong!


I'm loving all the praise for Bong Joon-ho's terrific movie The Host. (Pictured above: Bae Duna!) Gary Indiana did the cover story for a recent Artforum...Anthony Lane dug it in The New Yorker...and now Manohla Dargis raves about it in the Times.

But! This!:
Bong Joon-ho’s previous features include a smart-aleck exercise in gratuitous nonsense called “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (they just comically kick the bucket) and the shiver-inducing thriller “Memories of Murder.”
No, no! Barking Dogs Never Bite isn't smart-alecky by a long shot. I don't even know how that could possibly apply (a "were we watching the same movie?" moment)...And "gratuitous nonsense"? The film is often very funny, but it's pretty chilling as well. Just because it hasn't been distributed doesn't mean it's a lesser work than the Bong films that have surfaced stateside.

So, ye gods of distribution! Disregard that paragraph and get Barking Dogs into theaters! It's still my favorite Bong hit (which is saying a lot—Memories and The Host are both excellent), and probably my favorite of the recent Korean cinema.

Since Barking Dogs is hard to track down (though at yesasia.com, I did find a very inexpensive VCD), I thought I'd run a bit from my Bong article that appeared in Cinema Scope in 2003. (The full piece, including a discussion of Memories of Murder, will appear in Michael Atkinson's Exile Cinema...whenever that book comes out!):

The Bong Show
By Ed Park

Allegorical and intimate, terrifying and wry, Bong Joon-ho’s black comedies are written with invisible ink; they’re suspense pictures that neatly derail into hip-deep melancholy, composed with something like the acid eye of Billy Wilder. Bong navigates disparate environments with equal ease: a gargantuan Seoul apartment complex in Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), a weatherbeaten hamlet with far too many unprotected arteries in the new Memories of Murder. Though the films differ in tone and atmosphere, they share a capacity for narrative and visual surprise, a serious philosophical bent, and, not least, a social critique as subtle as it is penetrating, teasing out the eroded borders where culture ends, and greed, madness, even atavism surface. Add to these virtues Bong’s considerable storytelling chops and you have a 35-year-old director of eye-popping originality and voracious range.

Near the start of his assured debut, Barking Dogs, two bored-at-work young women languidly attack a crossword puzzle over the phone – 15 across, to be specific, with spaces for four syllables. “Reciprocal?” asks Hyeon-nam (Bae Doo-na), an employee in the maintenance office of the stolid mega-apartments where most of the movie transpires. “No, it’s reciprocate,” says her plump friend, a convenience store worker, chiding Hyeon-nam for not knowing what it means.

To reciprocate, of course, is to return in kind; the verb suggests a mirroring corollary to the golden rule: Do unto others. Hyeon-nam knows the meaning well enough: Inspired by TV news footage of a petite bank teller thwarting a robber, she’s a heroine-in-waiting.

She certainly understands the word better than the picture’s well-educated male protagonist, Yun-ju (Lee Sung-jae). Barking Dogs opens with him despairing over the difficulties of landing an academic post in his field, human behaviour. His pregnant wife brings home the bacon, emasculating him further with capricious demands. A dog’s yapping suddenly pushes him over the brink, and soon he’s scooped up the poor creature and tried to hang it in the basement. He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirrored door of a busted armoire, suffers an attack of scruples, and stows the pooch inside the furniture for some quiet time.

With that one misguided act, Yun-ju slips into a moral twilight zone, localized as the topsy-turvy domain of the basement. Bong, playing on the knife edge of farce and nightmare, has a field day showing how a seemingly minor transgression won’t disappear, each ripple, with tragic consequences for the culprit. Yun-ju sees a little girl’s poster: her missing dog can’t bark because its vocal cords have been removed. High-tailing it to the basement to free his innocent quarry, he finds the armoire empty – until he jumps in himself, as footsteps sound. As in a Poe tale, he watches in terror as the janitor butchers the dog for meat, then – hearing a noise from Yun-ju’s vicinity – approaches, blade in hand. Is the universe reciprocating – putting him in the now-dead animal's place, sending an executioner in response to his brazen dognapping?

Another custodian provides a distraction, and the canine-consuming janitor, still rattled, regales him with a story. Soon after the apartment was slapped together in 1988 – at the time of the Seoul Olympics-driven boom – chronic heating problems led the owners to summon the legendary Boiler Kim, who could solve any maintenance dilemma. But when his job was complete, he raged at his employers, knowing that such shoddy construction meant that funds earmarked for the proper building materials must have been embezzled. In the ensuing fracas, he hit his head on a nail in the wall and died. His body was covered with cement, and every night an eerie “spinning” sound can be heard. With spartan effects, Bong presents this as the ultimate campfire tale – a real-estate ghost story, told over a cooking fire, no less.

Barking Dogs also exposes another “traditional” practice: bribery. Palm-greasing exists everywhere, of course, but the practice seems particularly ingrained in Korean culture. The heads of some Korean university departments are widely known to bestow favours on job candidates willing to make it worth their while. Yun-ju’s friend advises him that a gift of ten grand should do the trick. Yun-ju vows that if he ever becomes a professor, he’ll never accept a bribe, but, despite his distaste, he realizes that this is how one gets ahead in Korea – to hold out is to commit career suicide. Bong artfully complicates this view with two secondhand stories – the cautionary tale of Boiler Kim (whistleblower turned ghost) and the heroic tale of the bank teller (rewarded for stopping a theft of money that wasn’t hers).

Yun-ju’s gnawing career dilemma and his tensions with his wife leave him feeling powerless. The one thing he can control is the volume. After emerging from the chamber of horrors (locked in the basement, he climbs out through a window, slowly sprawling backward onto the grass as though being born), he abducts another dog – the real culprit – and this time heads above. Once resigned to God’s will when it came to his professional career, he now makes an unconscious blood offering by flinging the dog off the roof.

This second death mortally affects the dog’s owner, an old woman. God (let’s say) returns in kind. Yun-ju’s wife brings home a newly purchased, ludicrously coiffed poodle, on whom she dotes. Then the dog disappears while Yun-ju grumblingly walks it, his sight and mind obscured as they pass through a blinding fumigation cloud. He crosses paths with Hyeong-nam, ever the do-gooder. She finally can play the hero, rescuing the poodle from its captor (an insane homeless man); this act saves Yun-ju’s marriage and, it turns out, his career, as his wife converts her severance pay into the bribe money.

Whether the subsequent life, thus attained, will be of any value is a different matter. “Close the curtains, please,” says Yun-ju at the film’s close, a professor at last. His lecture is about to begin, complete with “charts on modern behaviourism.” The light is blocked, window by window. Is it the beginning of the lecture, or the end of the show? As darkness swallows the new professor, Bong cuts to Hyeon-nam and her friend, walking in the woods in glorious daylight.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Connections: W.G. Sibbald


I.
Yesterday's Times had an op-ed column by Rory Stewart, author of The Places In Between (in which he describes his adventures walking across Afghanistan) and The Prince of the Marshes (about his time in Iraq). I read some of both last year, and enjoyed them, and have meant to get back to them. (Places contains Stewart's sketches of people and things he encountered along the way—a nice touch.)



Afghan students were sitting near a giant medieval bronze cauldron in the Herat Friday Mosque, staring at the jagged Ghorid script on the colonnade.
I asked one of the students where I could buy a heavy walking stick.
He giggled. "Like an old man."
"Like an old man."
"But you are young. Why do you need a stick?"
"Because I am walking to Kabul."
"Take a bus." They all laughed.
"Take a plane," said another. They laughed more.
"So you've no idea where I could buy a walking stick."
"Nowhere here. We have cars in Afghanistan."
"Where do your old men get their walking sticks?"
"They make them."


I was glad to see that Stewart is a guest columnist this month, as I've been thinking about walking a lot lately—I mean, I've been thinking a great deal lately about the activity of walking, of walking and thinking, walking and writing. This is partly or mostly because of a recent re-reading of W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, one of the great walking/meditation books (though not according to this).

II.
If you're like me, you have books everywhere—the shelves were maxed out ages ago, and volumes have begun rising from the ground like apartment projects in some totalitarian state—wobbling, the result of shoddy labor...And every so often you think, I will be good and clear out some farmland, at the very least let me get rid of some newspapers and magazines...

And usually you do. But the TLS always gives you pause. Each issue has so much stuff–and so much of it is so good—and even the things you thought you weren't interested in turn out to be quite wonderful or at least worth your while—that you sort of let them accumulate long after other periodicals have been sent to the dustbin of history.

III.
Where were we going with this? Ah yes—so there is a paper bag into which I've tossed some recent "done" TLSes, though of course I haven't chucked the bag. And last night I was looking for some bathtub reading and thought, well, let's see if there's anything in this issue that I haven't read, this issue in the bag, the throwaway bag...hmmm, review of some academic study of Philip Roth—OK, read that. Read the "Freelance" column, and "J.C"...review of Decca... Humuna-humuna...looked over the fiction reviews, fine, fine, wait, so I can finally just toss this! Without feeling any guil—oh wait. Wordsworth...what's this..."A Wordsworth mystery solved"?

IV.
Kelly Grovier's "Dream Walker" looks at the mystery "surrounding...the inspiration for the figure of the phantom drifter who haunts the apocalyptica beginning of Book Five of The Prelude. In the so-called 'Arab dream' passage, Wordsworth describes encountering a wraith-like wanderer crossing the desert sands on a dromedary...on a mission to bury his 'twofold treasure' before 'the fleet waters of the drowning world' destroy them.'"

Grovier looks for the sources of this figure and this dream, and proposes: "I believe...that the passage is a coded tribute to a friend from Wordsworth's days as a young radical in Revolutionary France: a figure who, however improbable it may seem, was an authentic traveller across the Arabian wastes, one who not only claimed to be on an endless mission to bury his own books, but whose identity, according to his contemporaries, shifted ceaselessly before their very eyes. That individual was John 'Walking' Stewart."

V.
Stewart!

Could there be a relation to modern-day wonder-walker Rory Stewart? Alas, there's no such mention in the article...But I was delighted to find, in the eight graf, a variant of an unusual name:

But an obituary for the Gentleman's Magazine, appearing the year before De Quincey's article, claims that in November 1792 Walking Stewart was in dire straits thousands of miles from France, being held as a captive of the notorious Tippoo Sultan of Mysore in Seringapatam, southern India, and that Stewart's release was only then being negotiated by a Sir James Sibbald, who had been delegated by the East India Company to settle terms of peace with the opportunistic Tippoo.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Mystery of the Disappearing Exclamation Points

Over the years, I checked in every now and again, expecting either the company or the community to be long dead. In 2000, the stock spiked from about $12 and change to nearly $40 — well over $100, split-adjusted — making the Wavoids, as one of them put it on Ragingbull, “dizzyyyyyyyyyyy.” —Danny Hakim, "That Ship Will Come in, Right?" (NYT, 3/4/07)


This story is also very important because it contains this quote:

Some Wavoids can be a little sensitive about their plight. After I told the Wavoids I was writing another article about the company and its boosters, one poster offered this reply last month: “NNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!”

Now—if anyone saw the print edition, s/he would have seen that this online version is less exciting. In the paper, there were four lines of Os—and over 140 exclamation points!

Against the "A"

The Psychic Envelopes want to participate in this Times contest—"In Search of the Lost Chords"—but they're not entirely sure they get it.

Love these two epigraphs, though:

The sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard are still inside my head.
— Richard Rogers

We discussed the widespread contempt in which ukulele players are held - traceable, we concluded, to the uke’s all-but-exclusive employment as a producer of chords - single, timeless events apprehended all at once instead of serially. Notes of a linear melody, up and down a staff, being a record of pitch versus time, to play a melody is to introduce the element of time, and hence of mortality. Our perceived reluctance to leave the timelessness of the struck chord has earned ukulele players our reputation as feckless, clownlike children who will not grow up.
— Thomas Pynchon from “Against The Day”

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The Year of the Cat

Via Paper Thin Walls, a great Frog Eyes tune to download, Dizzyhead Douglas's brief appreciation of the Huxtables, and a nudge to check out The Onion's latest "Random Rules," in which Chuck Klosterman hits shuffle and comments on whatever comes up. (Interested parties could also check out Joshua Clover's iPod shuffle essay in one of the old issues of the PTSNBN.)
Lisa Loeb, "Stay"
CK: This is, of course, on the Reality Bites soundtrack. I was always a fan of Lisa Loeb, particularly because you kind of get the impression she sang every song either about or to her cats. They seem to be the driving force in most of her creative process.

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The Journalist


I've acquired some new journals over the last few weeks. Here's the rundown:

Jubilat Twelve contains facsimile reproductions of the typewritten "X-Lax" poems of Ronald Johnson (one-word poems, in which the word—knit—is manipulated typographically, a whimsical experiment in the limits of meaning; these were done in enigmatic parody of Robert Lax), an essay about the illustrations of Stevie Smith, a few stunning prose excerpts (called "Three Poems"!) by Dizzyhead Sarah, an excerpt from The Book of the Lover and the Beloved by (Borges and Frances Yates fave) Ramon Llull, and much more.

The Canary, #6, co-edited by my friend Nick, has work by Jalal Toufic, Eileen Myles, Ange Mlinko, and more; it's a must for any admirer of Stone Reader, because it features SR subject Dow Mossman's Joycean poetry—fascinating.

A Public Space, No. 3, has a nifty short essay by Dizzyhead Ben, "When Animals Conspire"; an extract from the new Lethem novel; an Anne Carson poem; a Peru portfolio; Nora Krug's five-page graphic feature (what's the right term? "comic-book story"? No.) "Never Give Up! Fukutsu: The Life of Hiro Onoda, Soldier," about a WWII combatant who lived for decades on an island in the Philippines, disbelieving that the war was over; and a terrific poem ("Lustron: America's Prefabricated Home") by Robyn Schiff, which inventively recycles the name (and certain other words: "future") in a manner appropriate to a mass-produced (yet roomy) product:
Lustron has a no-nonsense Westchester model house, which I like to think of as a Winchester Mansion* for a Western destiny already won. See how fast the past lips into the future; it's a matter of a few letters and a notary public to change your/spent cartridge and you're ready to aim again[...]

*I think Winchester Mansion must be a reference to the Winchester Mystery House, which was being built for decades but was never finished.

* * *

Speaking of poems: Check out Cathy Park Hong's "O Light, Red Light," a new sestina (from her upcoming book, which I'm excited about) up at McSweeney's. Look what she does with the sestina form, invigorating it with her meticulous mongrel tongue:

Girls! Girls! Girls! Batted molas eyelashes at boned molish chap,
But lika Greco Frieze, him stood in cold puddle o red light,
Spite One Girl! Curdling she finga, 'Come bwoy, Come, don' G'won.'
Toto sum Girls! curdled dim fingas attim but he maki no choice.
Only browsed 'till sighed 'nut'a day.' Went back, spillim seeds
onto hotel carpet, lone, wit only zuzzing cable, a suite nocturne.

Ai fife, he warbled, Ai la lune triste nocturne.
'E capered down to karaoke lounge to singsong, a sloshing chap,
At hotel, quaffing Singapore Slings wit pomegranate seeds.
Next day, 'E kem back to de Girls! ta fes de garnet light.
Fished outtim haisimap pinga, but brined bine choice
E sterilized, and de Girls! chortled 'G'won home, batty bwoy, g'won.'

* * *

Finally: Jane Dark on Baudrillard.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

J-rocking



Enigmatic and totally wild—Popee the Performer! (Via Very Short List.) It reminds me of (the little I've seen, alas, of) Funky Forest: The First Contact, some bits of which are on the Fall 2006 Wholphin.

X is for . . .


. . . not a xylophone, exactly, but a giant section of piano keyboard at a cemetery, marking the grave of pop singer Teresa Teng.

Y is for You Don't Love Me Yet, the new Jonathan Lethem novel, which has numerous nice PKDian touches—including a radio station with the call letters KPKD!

It's also for



* * *

And Z? Z is for . . . zebra crossing . . .



* * *

We're at the end of our alphabet. (Readership: What was the point?!) Time to subscribe to The New-York Ghost? New issue is out!


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