Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Kan Haz Solo Career?!

This seems like something out of Gaddis's JR:
[John Fogerty] once immortalized [Saul] Zaentz in a song called "Zanz Kant Danz," while Zaentz countered with a plagiarism lawsuit, claiming that Fogerty's solo song "The Old Man Down the Road" ripped off the Creedence hit "Run Through the Jungle." The litigation went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. —Reuters (Yahoo)

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Up to and after — Reading tonight

Hello...this is Ed Park in a photo by Sylvia Plachy speaking...Remember when I said I'd remind you about my upcoming readings etc., constantly?


I'll be reading tonight at 7 at KGB (85 E. 4th St.). Here's what New York has to say:

Ed Park, while a founding editor of The Believer, is really making his name with his debut novel, Personal Days, which was inspired by how shitty it was to work at The Village Voice in the time leading up to—and after—the paper was bought out by the weekly-paper conglomerate known as New Times. If that book were not such a fantastic leap away from his specific experience (we were there), into realms more universal, and more hilarious, you might think the new short story he’ll read tonight would just take a spade to the same territory. But Park digs deeper—wider, even!—and we can’t wait to hear what he does in the short form, and how his impish language sounds out loud.

ukulele musings.

And while we're talking music? You need to check out Dzyd Bbbecky's latest post, on "Sleng Teng," and download those two songs! (It's a tantalizing form—essentially, these are ecstatic variations on a rigid theme: "Sleng Teng was created on a Casio keyboard...The riddim has been versioned near two hundred times...") The first song especially is a TOTAL KNOCKOUT. Maybe I will just play it tonight in lieu of a story...

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Today at McSweeney's, Sarah Schmelling retells Hamlet via Facebook:

Horatio thinks he saw a ghost.

Hamlet thinks it's annoying when your uncle marries your mother right after your dad dies.

The king thinks Hamlet's annoying.

Laertes thinks Ophelia can do better.

Hamlet's father is now a zombie.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An inglorious da Vinci

Now [1421 author Gavin Menzies] says a Chinese fleet brought encyclopedias of technology undiscovered by the West to Italy in 1434, laying the foundation for the engineering marvels such as flying machines later drawn by Italian polymath Leonardo. —Reuters

Uke-box hero

Dzyd Douglas "Eisner" Wolk on the joys of the uke, with George Formby and Stephin Merritt footage.

(Via Dzyd Jen)

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Amy Hempel story or Hold Steady song?

"Tonight Is a Favor to Holly"

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"Track 1b" of Dzyd B. Kite's Rivette opus is now up at Order of the Exile. Sample tantalizing footnote:

Since cats are such notoriously intractable, "undirectable," animals, filmmakers who clear a space for them, such as Rivette here or Vigo in L'Atatlante, are adopting a very particular posture toward the world, one which inherently abjures complete control and welcomes contingency as a collaborator. In this light, the cat-killing in Tarr's Satantango becomes significant indeed.

And Levi tips us off to some great Gorey reproductions at Caustic Cover Critic.

Googling uncovers that McGregor was a sleeptalker; with his permission, his roommate began recording his nighttime monologues, some of which are listenable online (though NSFW).

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Naive theories of irrigation

"Variations on Original Sin," another chapter of the novel-in-progress known as The Dizzies, is part of L Magazine's fiction extravaganza. First paragraph!:

Marjorie’s father, Poindexter Bantam, was my philosophy professor at Rue University. Set at the edge of a collapsing milltown, Rue was a power in the short-lived Modern American Football League and did not have much of an academic reputation back then. I attended on the G.I. Bill, intending to major in agriculture and minor in economics, but found my naïve theories of irrigation so profoundly challenged that I wound up in the infirmary for a week. My regulation crewcut grew improbably lush, and for minutes at a time I didn’t recognize the face that met me in the mirror. Nurse Nancy diagnosed melancholy and proposed a course of therapeutic massage. I accepted. A few days after I was released I picked about a thousand flowers and manhandled them into a sad bouquet. But the receptionist told me Nancy had gone off to get married that morning, and I never saw her again.

I'll be reading from this or something else tomorrow—Thurs., July 31—at KGB—7 p.m.!—85 East 4th Street...

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Psychic weather

Not the Los Angeles Times.

(Via Dzyd Dennis.)


Memories of the Reagan Administration

Wasn't it confusing when Ronald Reagan appointed Donald Regan?

A) Yes.
B) No.
C) Sort of.
D) Yes.

"That's what they say about the summer..."

The National Post has a summer reading pick...Personal Days by Ed Park!

And The Stranger's Paul Constant writes: "[P]ark's love of language elevates the novel to that rarest of levels: the vocabulary becomes almost another character in the story. Every word belongs exactly where it is."

Heyyy I'll take it...

See Ed (moi) read on Thursday, July 31, at KGB!

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Punch drunk love

Over at Slate, Dzyd Dennis weight in on the evolution of movie fight scenes.

Check out the slide show, which includes scenes from Raging Bull, Oldboy, and this cat-tastic climax from Return of the Dragon:


"On the Subway"

For your morning commute:

(Via Lady Bib)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Two thoughts upon reading 'The Week'

In this week's The Week, David Maraniss picks DeLillo's Underworld as one of his six favorite books. He writes: "My favorite opening chapter in modern fiction, a riot of baseball, Jackie Gleason, J. Edgar Hoover, Frank Sinatra, andy Pafko, the most famous home run in history, and some of the best writing ever. The rest of the book cannot match it, but I don't care, I keep reading this chapter over and over for inspiration.

I remember reading "Pafko at the Wall" in proof form, before it appeared as the very first Harper's Folio. It felt like a home run. And to start a huge, career-capping work like Underworld with such a chapter is like saying, I'm out to hit a home run!

What if: DeLillo had ended with the "Pafko at the Wall" chapter? Everything that came before would then be a solid base hit...and then he'd hit a grand slam...

* * *

Blast from the past: Here's what I picked for The Week...

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The viper room

Dzyd Ed provides the answer to my question regarding Luc's viperish Quasiboros:

The attached is from T.H. White’s Book of Beasts — which I must have read a thousand times in youth.

Also, from The Medieval Bestiary:
Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 4:10-11): The viper is so called because it gives birth by force (vi-pariat). When the viper is near to giving birth, her young do not wait for the loosening of nature but bite through her sides and burst out, killing their mother. In mating, the male inserts his head into the mouth of the female and spits out his semen; the female, driven mad by lust, bites off his head. Thus both parents die, the male in mating, the female giving birth.

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Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for July 28, 2008

I. Short-story wizard Deb Olin Unferth's first novel, Vacation, is coming out soon (the unofficial prequel to Personal Days?!)—and there's already a nifty trailer for it:

There is a plan for Deb and I to read together at KGB in December, along with the mysterious Heidi Julavits........and speaking of HJ—she and I will be introducing something Believer-y at Symphony Space in November.

No need to mark your calendars now—I will remind you about these things constantly in the intervening months!

II. Wait—speaking of KGB—I'll be reading there this Thursday! More reminders soon...

III. Dzyd Mollie wonders:

[S]ay you were to construct a speculative Venn diagram of 'People who are familiar with the movie Once and/or independent Irish rock band the Frames' and 'People who are familiar with Mary Worth (in a nonironic fashion).' You would probably project a very, very small overlapping space..."

(That's an exceptionally limiting Venn diagram...but can it match this one?)

IV. There should be a flip-book about...the making of a flip-book.

V. Rounding out today's Table-talk, a note from Dzyd Luc:

"Here's an interesting variant on the Ouroboros. It's an emblem by Maurice Scève—the viper's suicide: 'to give you life I give myself death'—and I found it on the excellent blog A Journey Round My Skull."

Hard to tell exactly what's going on here, but: Is the serpent spilling its own blood to provide nourishment for its spawn? Eagle-eyed Dzyds, please call in.

(Speaking of Luc: new post—at last!—up at his Pinakothek.)

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Personal Days — the board book!

It's been a while since I posted any PD sightings — here are the first ones from across the pond—the Waterstone's in Islington, to be exact! Looks like I'm shelved between David Park and Dorothy Parker...

(That's my sister-in-law, with Duncan's cousin, Coco—who looks quite amused!)

(Photos: Stefano Bolis)


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Weekend Table-Talk for July 26–27, 2008

Congratulations to Dzyd Douglas, whose Reading Comics has won the Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book!...Where did July go?...Not me...Atmospheric disturbances: Ridiculously great over-the-top cloud formation in this photo by Brit in Brooklyn...Best correction (in the Sunday NYTBR):

Correction: July 27, 2008
An illustration with the Up Front column last Sunday was published in error. The Howard Hampton it depicts is the leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario, not the reviewer with the same name who was profiled in the column.

This week's review features a review of Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them, by Charles Taylor...not that Charles Taylor!...Too high, too far, too soon? You decide! Mandy Moore's cover of "The Whole of the Moon" (via Whatever)...Dzyd Rachel in the Times on peope who don't want to leave town once college is over. Best quote, from a guy who graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in West African film and literature:
“That’s pretty much saying: no jobs ever”...

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Un palazzo incastrato

In un palazzo incastrato nell’unica strada semideserta di Manhattan, ingombra di giornali spinti dal vento come «granchi giganti», un gruppo di impiegati consuma le proprie giornate nel terrore di perdere il posto.


Yes! Personal Days is coming out soon in Italy—perfect for your* Italian-speaking brother-in-law! The title there is Maledetti Colleghi. More info at the Fazi page.

In other PD news...a new review at the Independent...I talk vaguely about success at Time Out...the Selfdivider finds Pessoan resonances in PD; I love how he sees The Book of Disquiet as office lit—that's inspired!...(Another book "written" on slips of paper: Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus.)...I'm reading next Thursday (7/31) at KGB—my last reading of the summer (unless someone asks me to read again!)...don't know if I'll read from PD or The Dizzies??? Or Chinese Whispers??? Or the interview in Triple Canopy??? Or if I'll just read David Berman poems again?...Realized that I HAVE NOT YET LINKED to the video of me reading at Google...but I should, right? I'm too self-conscious...(I haven't watched it myself, though I did watch about half of the Jennifer 8. Lee talk, it was great...she goes to a village in China whose sole/main purpose is to train people to work in Chinese restaurants in the U.S.)....OK I'm going to link to the video of me...ED NOBODY CARES...

—I care.
—Who said that?
—It is I, Edward 9. Park, your superego.

* = "my"!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The other kind of buffalo

From Dzyd Susan's local paper:

TRUMANSBURG, TOMPKINS COUNTY — An unusual search is going on in Tompkins County. The search is on in Trumansburg for a group of buffalo that escaped from a farm today. The buffalo were apparently wandering around a state park and police are still trying to locate them. We're told this is breeding season for buffalo. If you happen to see the herd, do not approach it.

More in the Ithaca Journal:

Paul Bart, a Trumansburg resident who lives near Taughannock Falls State Park, said people have been wandering off the trails near his home to tell him his buffalo are loose.

“But we don't have any buffalo,” he said.

"Chickens just back from the shore"?

Canadian songstress!


Thursday Grab-baggery

Will they ever say this about me? "Now a devout Jew, he’s more alive then ever." (Crawdaddy on David Berman)...More Priscilla Ahn, I am all about the half-Korean songstresses these days...Eh? Dunkin' Bagels?...Gnarly triathlon jellyfish details from Jenny D...Levi reads Born Under Saturn (which I reviewed for Modern Painters, though I never saw my review!)...Speaking of MP, Dzyd Phyllis has a rather wizardly review of Christopher Priest's The Inverted know, the guy who wrote the novel The Prestige!...I loved the movie The Prestige...I agree with Ta-Nehisi about this new forger-turned-memoirist (profiled in today's Times)—it was very soul-killing reading this piece; in theory I am interested in tales of forgery, particularly when it's in the realm of fiction (see this weird review of mine for some examples), but there seemed to be an additional level of wrongness to this—a level of moral WRONGNESS!...I fear the O key on my laptop is loose...Fear? It is loose, it fell off last night! I fear that it will fall off and stay off...It's all very PERSONAL DAYS...........Wyatt Mason's Sentences blog has a lengthy interview with Adam Thirlwell, whose The Delighted States is great (I don't know why I haven't blogged about it, nor about John Darnielle's Master of Reality, which I recently read and loved)...(THOUGHT: Some things cannot be blogged about!)(Don't quite know why)...ANYWAY the Mason/Thirlwell interview has lots of interesting stuff, & dwells on A.T.'s translation of a Nabokov story (which appears as an appendix to TDS):

And then there were two moments were I tried to translate and was rebuffed. First, there was the man who operated the lift in their St. Petersburg home—called by V.N. “le Suisse.” Which interested me because Switzerland, in the piece, is a symbol of exile, and so it seemed unlikely that V.N. would have used the word without thinking, but on the other hand a Suisse is also slang in French for any kind of person who helps out (it’s even there in Shakespeare’s English, when in Hamlet Claudius asks for his bodyguards, his “Switzers”). I couldn’t gauge how far it was being used literally or slangily: in the end, I went for “the man,” and D.N. corrected this to “the Swiss chap”...

(I felt like this weirdly harsh review read like a review of a completely different book!)

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The Connections: Yin-Yang Edition

Jon Pareles on Jarvis Cocker:

Between songs Mr. Cocker chatted about how shifting exchange rates made it hard to keep songs realistic, and of his disdain for experiencing a concert through a cellphone screen. He explained what he had been reading lately in philosophy: that it was possible to hold two opposing ideas at the same time, opening up gray areas between virtue and evil. —NYT

EP in Triple Canopy:

I always show my students these two quotes—a warning against referential mania, or perhaps just notes toward an aesthetic:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”
—H. P. Lovecraft

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Connections: Facial Hair Edition

From today's NYT:

BELGRADE, Serbia — The infamous fugitive, long charged with war crimes, was not in a distant monastery or a dark cave when caught at last, but living in Serbia’s capital. Nor was Radovan Karadzic lurking inconspicuously, but instead giving public lectures on alternative medicine before audiences of hundreds.

He was hiding behind an enormous beard, white ponytailed hair topped with an odd black tuft, and a new life so at odds with his myth as to deflect suspicion.

From yesterday's NYT:

LOS ANGELES — Jay Leno was the surprise guest at the announcement of his own departure date from NBC when he turned up in disguise on Monday to ask the first few (joking) questions at a news conference here with the co-chairmen of NBC Entertainment, Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff.

[...] Mr. Leno put on a bald cap, fake goatee (which only partly disguised his famous chin) and glasses and easily slid among the real reporters to ask the two NBC executives about his own future.

“When is Leno’s last show?” the unnamed reporter asked.

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It's Half Korean Songstress day here at The Dizzies...Fishing around for Karen O info, I skimmed this Koream story on Priscilla Ahn...and then found this video of her playing the uke!

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Neh Neh Nehs

In today's NYT, Jon Caramanica writes: "[T]he songs Karen O, the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, performed as part of her cumbersomely named side project Native Korean Rock & the Fishnets were anything but joyful, teeming with heartbreak and the residue of love gone sour."

I didn't realize she was part Korean, though I've idly wondered about her ethnic background; the "O" suggests the popular Korean surname "Oh," though in this case it actually stands for Orzoleck (she is part Polish).

But: Reading the Times piece...and looking at that unwieldy side-project name, I realize that the answer has been hiding in plain sight—"Karen O" is an anagram for...


* * *

More Koreana: I gab about Personal Days with Voice of America's Korean service.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Screen memories

D.T.M.* Rob's intensely personal Top 5 Theaters—no fewer than three of which are/were in Buffalo!

On the North Park on Hertel Avenue: "Try to make out the painting on the ceiling. It's a challenge, covered as it is in years 88 years of sneezes."

* = Dizzies Team Member. Two other posts today should have listed people as D.T.M.s — Hua and Izzy. BUT WHY AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO EVER POSTS HERE?


Racked and sold

(D)Izzy is now writing for Racked—her latest post, about the Strand Annex's going-out-of-business sale, is a must read for Dzyds. She lists some "books that haven't seen the light of day since the Giuliani era," including Lost In Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster.


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(Don't) keep coolie!

Taking my cue from this book, my next novel might be called Dear Pinkberry or Dear Alessi. A few weeks ago I spotted this insane juicer for sale at the Columbia-area Pinkberry (I am addicted to Pinkberry):

What the?!

I wrote an e-mail to Pinkberry—no response!

Dzyd Hua just sent me this link—a blog called Drop the Juicer.

(The Koreatown Pinkberry, which I frequented last week, does not have this juicer on sale. INTERESTING.)

UPDATE (7/23): I received a note from Pinkberry Central, saying that the juicers have been removed from their stores. Great!



Scott writes: "In light of that Rush ouroboros drumkit you posted the other day,
here's the ouroboros-ish cover of a Rush bootleg CD that I actually illustrated the cover for back in 1996, as part of a slightly shady association I had with a dude who ran a bootleg label. OK, it's not really an ouroboros, but it's kind of close! Maybe sort of part ouroboros, part caduceus?"

* * *

More Canadiana—an interview with Guy Maddin in the Boston Phoenix, about his latest film, My Winnipeg:

So it’s your basic Michael Moore movie.
It may be looked at that way. I wanted to make it like a film equivalent to a W.G. Sebald book, where he sets out on a stroll and ends up digressing and winds up in a really interesting place. It doesn’t matter whether Sebald really went on the stroll or not, he’s managed to cobble together a wonderful trip, and you realize the landscape that he covered with his feet doesn’t matter as much as the landscape of his heart.

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American nerd

Ta-Nehisi: "I can draw a direct line from, say, The Labyrinth to Dragonlance to the Uncanny X-Men to Follow The Leader to It Takes A Nation Of Millions to Hold Us Back. What is Rakim's 'Microphone Fiend' if not an origin tale? And what is Rakim, if not the greatest verbal swordsman of his era?"

Plus: Fan mail from a co-author of the Dragonlance series.

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File under: What the?!

On the never-made film version of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End:

Despite lavish production designs and several scripts, the project languished in development hell until its recent revival by Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce, who has written a fresh draft and hopes to take it before the cameras next year.

Times (U.K.)


Monday, July 21, 2008

The Money-go-round

From Dzyd Christine—latest BusinessWeek:


Chin chin

Wodehouse: "Compared with Sir Roderick Glossop, Tuppy Glossop, old Pop Stoker, Mr Blumenfeld, and even Jeeves, Bertie is undoubtedly opisthognathous."



Worldwide pants

"Mailmen will have a field day calculating the postage spent by Sisterhood [of the Traveling Pants]'s four teenage gal pals, as they send a single pair of jeans across the globe," I wrote back in 2005, in the PTSNBN.

I should have written "Fed Ex employees"!


Monday grab-bag, or My new sweet style

...what if I wrote my next novel like this?...Actually the followup to Personal Days has been written, by the inimitable Deb Olin Unferth. It's called Vacation....If I were a saxophonist who played on the street for money, I'd learn "Careless Whisper"...The place name "Multnomah County" gives me the heebie-jeebies...Heffernan: "In his vertiginous free time, he crash-diets, cheats at kickboxing and persuades people to give him money"...Finally finished watching a movie—My Blueberry Nights—is it just me or does some of it feel quite Blockian? Some of the dialogue (esp. between Jude Law and Norah Jones)? And the AA stuff...I'm on the fence about it over all, well, no, let's say I liked it...why not...I used to be a film critic!...The soundtrack should've had Prefab Sprout's "Blueberry Pies"—the lyrics are even almost appropriate: "So if I come begging with take me back eyes/All you have to tell me/All you have to tell me are blueberry, blueberry pies"....WHATEVER!!!......Speaking of food: Korean food....Also in the NYT, a Q&A with American Teen director Nanette Burstein, talking about "her own intense high school experience two decades ago in Buffalo"...ummm....yes...she and yr correspondent were classmates!...Did someone say Buffalo? Yes: The Stubblemeister did, with a tip for Dizzyheads....

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

If I were a saxophonist who played on the street

...I would play the theme from The Simpsons!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Would Indexed Do?

From a page on Korean garage-rock band San Ul Rim:

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Mutant energy

Howard Hampton reviews Mark LeVine's Heavy Metal Islam in the NYT Book Review. (That there's even a brief "Up Front" with H.H., featuring a squinty caricature, makes me think this could be the start of a good trend.)

Not quite as much of the trademark Hampton high-low punnery as we're used to, but a feast nonetheless!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Daily Ouroboros

Rush drummer Neil Peart's "Snakes and Arrows" kit. (From here.)


Quality and cohesion

Steve Almond, on being a "Poet for a Year":

I did some checking into this manuscript business, and it turned out they didn’t have to be very long. I had perhaps four or five manuscripts on my hands. But how to release them into the world? All at once? No, that seemed greedy. Two at a time, like a double album?

It was my pal Dave who gently suggested that most poets did a fair bit of winnowing, that there was a certain internal logic to a book of poems.

“Right,” I said suspiciously.

One might write literally thousands of poems before amassing enough for a manuscript.

“Sure,” I said.

It wasn’t about quantity, but quality and cohesion.

At this point, I began tuning him out.

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Confusing headline of the day

Cast of 300 Advises Obama on Foreign Policy

(Via Dennis)

[UPDATE: It seems like an "A" has been added to the start of that sentence.]


The sea and the sky

Ed. note: These passages appear on the first pages of the respective novels.

In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished spirits.
—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)

The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it. Gradually as the sky whitened a dark line lay on the horizon dividing the sea from the sky and the grey cloth became barred with thick strokes moving, one after another, beneath the surface, following each other, pursuing each other, perpetually.
—Virginia Woolf, The Waves (1931)

Often, before the monsoon broke, the sea was like a mirror. The sky appeared joined to it with barely a seam, there was a faint vibration of thunder and along the shoreline the air hung in hazy folds, suspended between lnd, and sea, and sky.
—Roma Tearne, Mosquito (2007)

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Face time

A Fred and Ginger panel examined that famous partnership in detail, John Mueller asserting that Ginger Rogers was among the best actresses of her time, a statement he backed up with clips showing her reactions as Astaire sang – what better test of acting talent than to react convincingly while someone croons to you? —TLS

This is true! Look at Ginger beginning around :56...

(Link originates, as all things do, here.)

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Call it a "double A"!

The Psychic Envelopes haven't finished—recorded, written, nuttin'—any new songs in quite some time....

To tide you over, here's a slim Muxtape featuring two covers of P.E. songs: Chicago-based Virgin Acrylic's Shinsian take on "Winter Losses," and Little Rock–based Team Knucklehead's cowbell-driven "Raleigh."


(The other two Muxtapes are here and here.)


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sort of funny!

"Things I Was Smart Enough Not To Say Out Loud."

Do Everything on the Twitter

Levi's Twittering about Indiana.

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If 6's were 9's

In the NYT:
Vishal Nair, who runs the Lukoil station at Eighth Avenue and 13th Street in Greenwich Village, took another plastic number last week, turned it over and scribbled “4” on it with a black magic marker. The result was an obviously homemade “$4.47,” but it would have to do until he received the extra 4s he ordered months ago.

“Typically, we have a lot of 9s and 1s, and we had a shortage of 3s before we got a lot of 3s in,” Mr. Nair said.
(Via Jenny)

(I'm also poaching Levi's comment: "This reminds me of one of my favorite urban moments: the Chicken Delights fast-food restaurant down the street from us one day, having clearly run short of letters for its sign, offered a 'Crisf Chickem Samwicu.' A few days later, they were offering 'Italian 3eef.' ")


"Everything and nothing"

The poet is a forger who forges so completely that he forges even the
feeling he truly feels as pain. —Fernando Pessoa

More on Pessoa, his heteronyms, and his correspondence with Aleister Crowley (!!) at the NYT:
A fellow astrologer, Pessoa wrote initially to correct errors he spotted in Crowley’s calculations. Crowley responded, warmly, in letters to Pessoa that he signed “666.”

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Latin palindrome alert

NYT on NYFF: The French writer, theorist and filmmaker Guy Debord’s 1978 film, “In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni” (a palindrome that translates to “We Spin Around the Night Consumed by the Fire”), will be featured as part of the annual Views From the Avant-Garde program.

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Fanny Howe on Edward Dahlberg (at TPF) — how many have you read?:

We met in cafes in New York and once at Elaine's where he was disgusted by what he saw. I was proud to be with him, my secret teacher, and only Frank MacShane shared my interest, my desire to please him. He sent me a list of writers I was instructed to read by June, 1967. This is that list, verbatim:
Osiris by Wallis Budge
Egypt by Maspero
The Book of Job by Morris Jastrow
The Song of Songs
The Gentle Cynic
The Voyage of the Beagle by Darwin
L'Amour by Stendhal
Physiology of Marriage by Balzac
Enquiries into Plants by Theophrastes
The History of Greece
Greek Poets by John Addington Symonds
Lives of the Greek Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius
Last Essays by Eric Gill
Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion by Jane Harrison
Amiel's Journal
The Goncourt Journals
Imaginary Conversations by Landor
And later he handed me a further list:
Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy
Sir Thomas Browne
Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
Animals and Birds by Buffon
Les Characteres by Lydell
Love of the Nymphs by Porphyry
Gil Blas by Le Sage

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Potentially colorful

From Dzyd Jane (source unknown):

Ichiro does not speak English in interviews, so he uses a translator. In my experience, translators usually take bits and pieces from what players say, making a potentially colorful answer somewhat bland, but neither Ichiro nor his translator has ever seemed to have had that problem.

Once, when asked about going to Cleveland, he was quoted by a translator as saying: “To tell the truth, I’m not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I’m excited going to Cleveland, I’d punch myself in the face, because I’m lying.”

Or, another time, when asked about facing Daisuke Matsuzaka, he said: “I hope he arouses the fire that’s dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.”

UPDATE: D.T.M. Hua sends this link:

Every year, after the AL manager addresses his team, Ichiro bursts from his locker, a bundle of kinetic energy, and proceeds, in English, to disparage the National League with an H-bomb of F-bombs, stunning first-timers who had no idea Ichiro speaks the queen’s language fluently and making returnees happy that they had played well enough to see the pep talk again.

Hua adds: "This is like when I went to the Yao Ming press conference his first year in the NBA, and it was clear to any bilngual that his translator was merely a diversionary scrim."

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The beginning of the end?

E-mail from Levi: "The Gary Indiana novel is so good that it's finally convinced me to sign up for Twitter!"

Levi came across my rave for Do Everything in the Dark at New York's site; readers of The Unarchivable can get the unexpurgated version here.

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Monday, July 14, 2008


...I want to go back to graduate school to write about this:

Watch for the breakdancer!


Back in Bleak

This week, there's new Paul LaFarge fiction at Five Chapters—so much good stuff going on here:

When I became the editor of Tsurrus, two years later, I wanted to make my own legend, or at least to make a reputation for myself in Bleak's artistic circles. I went to house parties where too many people ground their cigarettes into the carpet; I attended, and, very infrequently, hosted poetry readings at which boys compared the heavens to manmade objects, while girls compared the heavens to objects formed by nature.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Under the chalk

"Didn't mean to startle you." He offered his hand, dry and strong under the chalk. "I'm Paul Collins, your pilot. Recognized you on the passenger roster."

—Joe Haldeman, Marsbound (2008)

UPDATE: "My" Paul Collins has discovered the solution: "...It's a shout-out to the Australian sci-fi Paul Collins!"

Distant Worlds Australian SF & F 4
Collins, Paul, Series Editor

St Kilda, Victoria: Cory and Collins, 1981. 242 pp. Cover slightly edgeworn and a little rubbed. Spine uncreased. Pages uniformly yellowed, but clean, unwrinkled and tightly bound. Foreword by Joe Haldeman. Stories by Jack Wodhams, Cherry Wilder, Darrell Schweitzer, Trudy Rose, Michael Hailstone, Wynne N. Whiteford, Howard Goldsmith, John J. Alderson, Keith Taylor, David J. Lake, and Leanne Frahm and Paul Collins.. First. Paperback. Good+. 12mo - over 6¾" - 7¾" tall. (more information)

Offered by Wormhole Books (Australia)

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The Knye is ended

Scott Bradfield (The Fanzine) and David L. Ulin (L.A. Times) remember Disch.

But I suspect that most of the people who truly loved Tom and understood him best never actually met him. They only needed to read him—and so experience that dependable repeatable sudden thrill of pleasure we all felt when opening up each new story, or essay, or poem by Tom in all his guises: Thomas M. Disch, Tom Disch, and even the ornate, publicity-shy Victorianish lady-novelist, Cassandra Knye.

UPDATE: HSKS member James Sallis on Disch, in The Boston Globe:

Making their way to the inmost chambers of caves, bypassing other interiors that seem to us just as suitable, our ancestors covered walls with their paintings. We've little idea what purposes (social? religious?) the chambers served, all those detailed renderings, those grand animals. But there in privacy a few invented, for us all, the entire vocabulary of our arts: image, narrative, celebration, form. They speak to us still: We were here. This is what we saw. This is how we experienced our world.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for July 12–13

I. My latest Astral Weeks column, on a YA novel by John Scalzi, is up at the L.A. Times. (Strange photo?!) Tantalizing excerpt:

No wonder Scalzi would want to linger in the universe he's created. For the follow-up, "The Ghost Brigades" (the title refers to troops generated from the DNA of the dead -- including Perry's late wife), he gave Perry's voice a rest; it's told in the third person. Perry, now in his 80s, returned to narrate 2007's "The Last Colony," in which he and his once and future wife Jane Sagan (it's complicated) spearhead a colonial venture that turns out to be an elaborate trap (it's also complicated). The ending is right out of "The Forever War" -- or do I mean "Hannah and Her Sisters"?

II. The Chosun Ilbo story on Personal Days that appeared in Korean is now readable in an accurate translation. (The photo, alas, is inaccurately credited—it's Sylvia Plachy's portrait of moi.) Tantalizing excerpt:
If the author Ed Park stands out among his fellow Korean-American writers, it is because there is no trace of Koreanness in his work.

III. Salon gives props to new essays by Dzyds Jessica and Mike on Moving Image Source, and calls it:
"the wide-ranging, deep-thinking film magazine America has long lacked, published online. Launched only last month by the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y., Moving Image Source also includes an international calendar of film and TV-related events and a guide to online research resources. Edited by critic and former [PTSNBN] editor Dennis Lim, it has almost overnight become a must-read for serious film and television buffs."

IV. Someone gives the highlights of my St. Mark's reading on Thursday!

UPDATE: Post hoc propter hoc? You be the judge! John Scalzi himself blogs about my review of Zoe's Tale—and it turns out he and Keeler Society honcho Richard Polt are old buds/collaborators!...Levi has a Galchen-inspired dream—and the NYT reviews Atmospheric Disturbances!

PLUS: A nice assessment of Personal Days from the blog Afropologë, which brings up a good point: "It's a quick, easy and inexpensive read, taking only $13 out of my wallet and a couple hours of my time (the story only spans about 241 pages of this small paperback)."

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Friday, July 11, 2008


As a way of getting in touch with my origins,
every night I set the alarm clock
for the time I was born, so that waking up
becomes a historical reenactment
—from "Self-Portrait at 28," David Berman, Actual Air

The road was very bleak, wandering like the handwriting of a dying person over the hills.
—Richard Brautigan, The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western

You half-expected fireflies to rush out of his mouth.
—last line of Fleet Foxes concert review, Amanda Petrusich, NYT

Lord Jeffrey Stillingfleete, Earl of Kislingbury, richest man in the en-tire world, gazed troubledly down at the slender American milltown girl, in cheap black cotton dress, with 10-cent-store white trimmings at the neck and elbows, whom he held fast in his arms. —first line of The Crimson Cube, Harry Stephen Keeler

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Photoshop Police!

1. This thing in the NYT—a photo of too many Iranian missiles!

2. This thing in New York mag: Is a yarmulke on a cow really appropriate for kind of a serious story??

That's all for today!

Hyphen, please

Flavorpill on tonight's reading:

Park's observational talent has served him well during his time as an editor for both The Believer and The New York Ghost. His debut novel, Personal Days, applies his literary sensibility to a tale of office angst that's influenced in equal parts by Ricky Gervais and Kurt Vonnegut. Tonight, Park teams up with Leni Zumas — whose debut collection of short stories, Farewell Navigator, was recently published by Open City — for a reading hosted by St. Marks Bookshop. Both authors have a wry and insightful approach, imbuing the perennial search for meaning with fresh humor.

Ah yes...I remember that time when I was an editor for the Ghost...before they gave me the boot!

See you tonight at 7:30 at Solas!


Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for July 10

1. Jenny's blog for The Explosionist has some rather Sebaldian photos and her omnipresent "Hmmm"...

2. The Fake Steve Jobs calls it a day: “I tried transitioning to other voices, like Jerry Yang’s, but it just didn’t work.” —NYT

3. Three workplace novel covers, including PD's UK incarnation.

4. This sounds so great: At Light Industry on August 5, Cory Arcangel will

perform the first complete and authoritative version of his now-notorious Bruce Springsteen Born to Run Glockenspiel Addendum. This appearance marks the first time—and perhaps last—that Arcangel will provide live accompaniment on glockenspiel to Springsteen’s canonical album in its entirety...

5. An exquisite corpse spotted over at Triple Canopy.

6. Ed Park Personal Days Addendum—this just in: one more PD reading announced, 7/31 at KGB, more details here...

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

But seriously

Ed Park, Personal Days?

OK, dapper slander.

A rather strict anagram engine has appeared.

(Via MUG.)


The The

“He turned up to the letter ‘H’ and climbed above it,” Mr. Pabon said, referring to the letter H in the “The” of the New York Times logo, which is painted in giant black letters on the ceramic rods on the Eighth Avenue side of the building. —NYT

* * *

1. There are eight thes in the above sentence.

2. Is Times coverage of someone climbing the Times building something of an...Ouroboros?

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Riddle of the Enhancing Editornym

Paul Collins's signature is worth $27!

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Bruce Conner, RIP

Linksmeister General Thomas sends us two short films—Bruce Conner's Devo video (for "Mongoloid")—

—and Roger Beebe's recent BC tribute, featuring Toni Basil (as she appeared in Breakaway).

* * *

More Dischiana:

The NYT obit, with a wide range of quotes (Norman Rush, Dana Gioia...): "He wrote a series of poems on grammar, for which he was a stickler, including one on auxiliary verbs."

Other Ed's appreciation on the New York site: "[Philip K.] Dick suggested [to the F.B.I.] that [Disch's novel Camp Concentration] contained coded information 'to be read by the right people here and there.' "

William Gibson: "On Wings Of Song, as I've said elsewhere, and more than once, is one of the great neglected masterpieces of late 20th-century science fiction."

I always liked this Disch blurb of the work of Harry Mathews (anyone know the original source?):
"I cannot express the extent of my admiration for Harry Mathews, which is well-nigh evangelical. There are now, here and there, other zephyrs blowing—John Barth, Susan Sontag, Donald Barthelme, Thomas Pynchon—but none so strong as this, none that bear so clearly and deliciously the tang of spring."

And more links here.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Another PD reading?!


This Thursday, July 10, at 7:30, I'll be reading as part of the St. Mark's Bookshop Reading Series, with Leni Zumas.

Don't go to the bookstore, though—the reading is at Solas (232 E. 9th St., btw Send and Third Aves.)


Personal Days is a NYT Book Review Editor's Choice—and a Book Court bestseller!

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Licensed to Ill

He once introduced Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of India. All right, that could have happened to anybody. But what about the hearings on North Korea in which he made repeated references to "Kim Jong the Second"? In order to prevent any repetition of this idiotic gaffe, Helms' staff propped up a piece of card on which was clearly written the pronunciation "Kim Jong ILL." The senator from North Carolina duly made the adjustment, referring thenceforth to the North Korean despot as "Kim Jong the Third." —Christopher Hitchens, Slate

(From Dzyd James)

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Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for July 7

I. "South Korea in two vertically standing problem of identity than their New York office workers wanted to write about life."


Korea's Chosun Ilbo covers Personal Days, and Google's translation function makes hay...

II. I'm reading at (in?) the St. Marks series on 7/10! More info soon.

III. Maybe all my Feelies blogging made this happen? Over at the Personal Days blog, hotographer Ennis Mild captures a PD reader at last Friday's Feelies/Sonic Youth concert! Very cool!

IV. I forgot what IV was for...

V. (That's like that Violent Femmes song!)

VI. Two great science-fiction-related posts from Dzyd Paul

A) The Onion's great paperback bloggery, featuring "the most famous fantastic novel of all time" (not).
B) Ubik—the aspirin?!—at Mark A. Rayner's "Vintage Ads of Fictional Futures."

VII. Did you know Richard Wright wrote (tongue-twister!) —

A) A novel with all white characters?
B) An unpublished novel called The Island of Hallucination?

(More here.)

VIII. Oh wait maybe this was IV. — I missed WKW's My Blueberry Nights (well, nearly every theatrical release of the last seven or eight months!), and the reviews were savage, but no less a tastemaker than Mike Atkinson dug it:
My Blueberry Nights (2007) Catching up with this critical hot potato – nobody seemed capable of dismissing or faintly praising it fast enough – I was entranced. In a few years, after all the gotchas and one-ups have been forgotten, it’ll reappear as classic Wong.
Heyyy, I'm sold! "Add to queue"!

(At the Moving Image site, Atkinson writes on William Holden, Jessica Winter looks at Mad Men, and more...this is a great site! This is like the PTSNSBN of yore!)

IX. Vaguely self-serving Ouroboros!

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Thomas M. Disch, RIP

Sad news: Thomas M. Disch has died, an apparent suicide.

More here and here.

In Berkeley on my tour a few weeks ago, I picked up an old paperback—

Update: Other Ed interviewed him recently.
UPDATE (7/7): Poetry's Don Share provides information about Disch's contributions to the magazine, and links to some poems.


Dutch action

Neil Gaiman talks to Terry Pratchett:
Terry Pratchett's Discworld is 25 years old, which means I've known him for 24 years. We met when the first Discworld book, The Colour of Magic, came out in paperback. At the time, I was a young journalist in an unbecoming hat and Terry was the press officer for the South Western Electricity Board. It was his first interview and we had a Chinese meal, arranged by the publisher. Neither of us was certain who was meant to pay for it.

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Poets and Heavy Metal (West Coast version)

Here are your McSweeney's-related readings for July 2008!

JULY 8th
Jane Hirshfield, author of Given Sugar, Given Salt, was short-listed for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award, reads alongside Pulitzer Prize–finalist, Guggenheim Fellow and Iowa Writer's Workshop faculty member Dean Young. Wholphin Films will be shown.
406 Clement St. in San Francisco
7 pm, Free, 21+

Saturday, JULY 19th
Author Dan Nelson will read selections from his favorite letter.
Food, Drinks, Metal.
Rowan Morrison Gallery and Artist's Bookstore
330 40th Street
Oakland, Ca 94609
7 PM , Free, All Ages Welcome

Thursday, July 31
Author Dan Nelson reads, Edmund Welles plays, new art from Dan Nelson, and delicious black cupcakes.
Electric Works
130 8th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
6-9 PM, Free, All Ages Welcome

Saturday, July 05, 2008


tapirage: "Macaws and other parrots supplied most of the plumage, but that of other species — Muscovy ducks, flamingos, egrets and the petite paradise tanager — was also prized. Some colors were produced artificially in a process known as tapirage. Birds with, say, green and blue feathers were plucked and then rubbed with frog secretions; the feathers would then grow back in an unnatural yellow-orange hue." —NYT

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Jesse Helms

Jesse Helms has died..."Beacon of conservatism," per the Times—and Keeler fan?

I wrote letters to several members of Congress, trying to get support for a postage stamp commemorating the centennial of Keeler's birth (HSK 1890–1990). Not that it would ever happen, of course, but I thought it would be swell to read their responses. It was. Several wrote back—all favorably. One was Jesse Helms. (Piss Christ, no. Keeler commemorative, yes!) Another was Alan K. Simpson. The Simpson letter was particularly good because he said quite a bit about Keeler, calling him a "great American author."
—From William Poundstone's Harry Stephen Keeler Home Page

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Island of Hallucination

Mark "Stone Reader" Moskowitz's Lost Books Club vs. ABC TV's Lost Book Club—who would win???

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Friday, July 04, 2008


How round is round?

Weekend hilarity

From Gary Rudoren's "Poetry by the Numbers," up at the Poetry Foundation site.

2. Get Thee into a Journal
No matter what your style, true poetry fame is guaranteed to start when you get your work published in any of these popular poetry powerhouses. Go for it—stamps don’t cost much, and e-mail is even cheaper.
  • The King of Prussia Review
  • Avenue Cool
  • Word Crash Quarterly
  • Freak Werks
  • Readysetwrite
  • Stuff from Bob's Wallet
  • Butte Review
  • Gam Yrteop
  • Words for a Big Blue Marble

[Bonus: Check out the great Paul Hornschemeier illo!]

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Thursday, July 03, 2008



I know! But I came across/heard some HUGE NUMBERS yesterday — first about Leona Helmsley's infamous will (earmarked for dogs)("dogearmarked"?):

Even if the resulting total is at the low end of the estimate — $5 billion or so — the trust will be worth almost 10 times the combined assets of all 7,381 animal-related nonprofit groups reporting to the Internal Revenue Service in 2005.

But a story on the radio about Zimbabwean inflation was even more alarming. From a June 26 article in The Register-Guard:

Zimbabwe is believed to be the only country in the world that now carries out routine financial transactions in dizzying sets of quadrillions — one quadrillion is a 1 with 15 zeros behind it, or 1,000,000,000,000,000.

Here's more:

Bread has disappeared from stores. Previously, a loaf in a supermarket cost 2 billion Zimbabwe dollars (20 U.S. cents at the official exchange rate), or 15 billion Zimbabwe dollars ($1.50 U.S.) on the black market, where prices of scarce items can vary up to 10 times higher.

A shopper lucky enough to find milk will spend 3 billion dollars (30 U.S. cents) for about 1 pint. A tray of 30 eggs, also scarce, can bought in a store for 45 billion dollars ($4.50 U.S.).

Butter is hard to find, but 17½ ounces of margarine will cost 25 billion dollars ($2.50 U.S.) and a pack of 10 cookies costs 19 billion dollars ($1.90 U.S.).

Some more dizzying figures can be found at the Christian Science Monitor.

I ran across a third thing having to do with large numbers, but I forgot what it was.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Oh wait—

One more post!

I have a mini-essay up at Largehearted Boy (thanks, David!) on New Order's "Run," which I used for PD's epigraph.

Tantalizing quote: " 'Run' was my theme song, and I didn't even know what it meant."

Here's the video—directed by Robert Frank?!! (I've never seen this before.)

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It's the bomb! — Dizzies Double-takes™ — Burt Offerings — "Sputterings"

Congratulations to Jenny D, my life coach, on the publication of The Explosionist!

(Here is her book blog in progress, but of course you are already RSSing Light Reading and Triaspirational.)

I had the privilege of reading it earlier this year—what an appealing protagonist Sophie is, and what delightful Davidsonisms can be found here—e.g., cupcakes are frosting-delivery systems! One particularly brilliant bit has to do with...well, maybe I shouldn't say? But I will just say it has to do with something the character (and the reader) forgets, I found it very effective...

* * *

Dizzies Double-takes™

1. Yesterday I grabbed the paper off the doorstep—and did a double-take at the photo—or I should say the image—that greeted me. I thought: Wait....The Feelies, Crazy Rhythms??? (The Times sometimes arrives with the Arts section folded around the rest of the paper.) Can't be. Is. But why. WHY?

But wait a second—they look...somewhat older, no? YES:

Here's the original:

(Taken from here.)

Eh? What's this? You want me to quote from The Memoirs of Parkus Grammaticus, Vol. XIX? OK!:
As a teenager—15, 16?—I bought the Feelies The Good Earth at the Village Green bookstore, which had a slim but interesting selection of albums; I had never heard a song off it—bought it on the strength of a review in Rolling Stone! Crazy Rhythms was also in the bin, and the albums were fairly inexpensive, so I bought them both. A wise investment! My favorite songs are "Slipping Into Something" (parens around part of that?) and "Raised Eyebrows," respectively...albums that bear repeat playings and ponderings. (Part of me wishes—well, that's too strong a word—that only those two albums came out...the Feelies mystique is somewhat dispelled by the subsequent albums...?)

Unexpected bonus: White vinyl!

* * *
2. After my reading at B&N last week, I discovered that the reading-nook display featured not only copies of Personal Days (and issues of The Believer), but many copies of...Lue and Ed Park's Smoked-Foods Cookbook!

...which one audience member apparently was holding throughout the reading, no doubt in extreme bewilderment!

IMAGINARY VOICE IN AUDIENCE MEMBER'S HEAD: When's he going to read the part about rotisserie chickens?!

* * *

Steve Burt: Who else could write on A.R. Ammons—and Philip K. Dick?

You're So Vain...or Senile? Dept.: For the past couple of days I've been vaguely admiring the headline for the Ammons piece—"Naive Melody"—and just now I realized: I thought of that one!

* * *


* * *


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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Random blast from the past

I clicked on March 2006 to see what was!

I am not that interested... the closing of Florent—except as it pertains to Ourobori!:

For many, the cruel irony of Florent’s closing comes from the sense that Morellet is being devoured by his own creation: forced out of a neighborhood that is now a historic landmark thanks to his tireless lobbying, a neighborhood in which he is known as the Unofficial Mayor of the Meatpacking District (or, as he prefers, its Unofficial Queen). —New York

This is not a true Ouroboros, maybe qualifies as a pretzel or something...

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Genius! Notes on the new Believer

From Dzyd Brandon's "A Blaze in the North American Sky," in the new Believer music issue:

A little over a year ago I went to the Norwegian city of Trondheim to attend a mostly indie rock, non–heavy metal festival so I could meet Snorre Ruch, a.k.a. Blackthorn, a black-metal musician likely best known in for his connection to the murder of another black metaller, Øystein Aarseth, a.k.a. Euronymous, on August 10, 1993.

Now that's a lede!

The cover is genius (can't explain it here), the CD (masterminded by Ross Simonini) is quite different from that of previous years but also genius in its own way, there are articles that are genius, it is an embarrassment of riches (Dzyd Douglas on "A review of the only known mechanically reproduced copy of a really great record"; Ange Mlinko! Haruki Murakami?!! Dzyd Paul on music and...dentistry??), I am perhaps overusing the word genius but last night I read the Barthelme story "The Genius" and hence that is our theme today! (Two things by Rick Moody! John Adamian's notes on liner notes! Lavinia Greenlaw......interview with Fugazi dude...) MORE!

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—Like, what do you think about life?
—I like it...I really like it...
—It's good...

A new webisode of My Cousin Danny!


Secret Documents

With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.” —NYT

* * *

"Secret Documents" sounds like a Psychic Envelopes splinter group/tribute band.

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