Sunday, January 20, 2008

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for January 20

I. The TLS ranks the 50 greatest UK writers (including poets) since 1945.....

19. Martin Amis

20. Anthony Powell

Umm...Levi? I'm going to need backup on this one! (Bring Westlake while you're at it.)

II. Those Driftwood Singers know me all too well: A recent post about lost-’90s janglepoppers The Reverbs (one of whom went on to form Velvet Crush) hooked me, and concluded:

You can almost listen to this LP as a field recording of a time when there was still an underground in America, when the disaffected could only find obscure bands through 'zines and when wearing black really meant something. I think the snapshot on the back of the album was worth the 99 cents, don't you? Something tells me The Dizzies will go ga-ga for this.



I remember buying the Velvet Crush album Teenage Symphonies to God along with three other used CDs from a small store on W. 81st Street...I don't know that I ever finished listening to it. And I never made it to the end of another album purchased on that trip, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite. (Two tickets to Boringville, please!) But I think one of the other albums was Pulp's Different Class, so it all worked out!

—From the
Memoirs of Parkus Grammaticus

IV. Jenny D shares a Xanth memory, jumping off the post on Florida as Korea—I love it!

Can I say that when I was in 6th grade I was obsessed with Piers Anthony and the
Xanth books?!? I wrote him a huge long fan letter—and then went off for the summer to visit UK relatives, amazingly when I got home there was a response from him...only I had slightly grown out of fandom by that point. But one of the incredibly nerdy but enthusiastic questions I'd asked him concerned whether he had ever written a novel using limericks in any capacity, and he wrote back with one that he had been thinking about using but couldn't because he didn't have author/attribution for it. So I stayed up all night reading some anthology of limericks after some obsessive other library researching, finally found it with an "anonymous" attribution and wrote back to him with the information. he sent a postcard of thanks, and put my name in the acknowledgments section of the next
Xanth book—which I believe was Crewel Lye: a caustic yarn about an unkind untruth.

Seems strange to me now that at one time I thought those books the pinnacle of genius...

V. And I responded with my Xanth memory...
[O]ur school had a "book fair" and I bought one of the Stephen R. Donaldson tomes, probably not the first, found it befuddling, and traded it to a friend for...the latest Xanth (Dragon on a Pedestal ) + the first six in the series (I hadn't read them before; he had them at home). I think I got the better deal. Now this fellow is...covering the Huckabee beat for the NYT!

—From The Light Reader–Grammaticus Correspondence

VI. ...and discovered that Piers Anthony is still Xanthing along:

From Publishers Weekly
In this meandering 31st Xanth novel, Hugo, son of the Gorgon and Good Magician Humfrey, vanishes from his cellar, where the body of a murdered man just as suddenly appears. What's worse, Humfrey's book of answers has been scrambled, and blind Wira, Hugo's wife, has no idea how to solve a mystery. Her prayers are answered by 13-year-old Debra, visiting from Mundania in hopes of lifting the curse that makes her name sound like De-bra to any man she meets. Without the book, the curse cannot be cured, so the Gorgon temporarily turns her into a naturally bra-less flying centaur in exchange for her help. As they hunt down Hugo and the killer, Debra and Wira encounter the usual crop of terrible puns and characters both new and familiar. Acknowledging that reader loyalty keeps this venerable series going, Anthony includes an extensive afterword, providing credits for 140-odd (in some cases, very odd) suggestions and updating fans on everything from the state of his health to the length of his hair. (Oct.)

Have been watching Season 1 of The Wire, the best show ever made according to many. It's.................pretty good? So far? I'll stick with it?

I had to start in media res (Disc One had a "very long wait" on Netflix). There was one scene (two detectives trying to figure out the ballistics, repeating one unprintable word about 20 times) that was pretty great...............Q: Is it as good as episode 1 of Season 3 of Gilmore Girls?

VIII. That sound you hear is the plummeting of Dizzies site traffic.

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Blogger selfdivider said...

The 1st season of The Wire is solid, but it really gets good w/ the 2nd season, when the sociological scope widens and takes in the story of the Baltimore dockworkers. Still my favorite season.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Levi Stahl said...

Piers Anthony may not be all that, but while you guys were reading him, I was reading . . . Star Trek novels. A lot of them. Like 60 or 70. I tried Anthony, but I wanted seriousness in my fantasy novels--I got a little freaked out by how he was always joking around. (Yet oddly enough, my favorite Star Trek novel was a bizarre Marx Brothers-style comedy mess called How Much for Just the Planet? that is long out of print, it seems because it kinda freaked Paramount out. I don't know if it's actually funny, but I sure thought it was then. There's lots of Klingon singing.)

Oh, and Ed, I think you should give the Urban Hang Suite another try. It's definitely sort of a loose mess, but put it on some night when you've got an hour of cooking to do and I think you'll find you're grooving nicely by the time dinner hits the table.

As for Powell/Amis: WTF? I actually like Amis, but that's nuts.

12:48 PM  

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