Friday, October 31, 2008

The new structure

In the first of two Astral Weeks columns, I look at some interesting recent short stories. This installment: John Langan's "On Skua Island" and Benjamin Rosenbaum's "Biographical Notes to 'A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-Planes,' by Benjamin Rosenbaum" (that is the title!).

Labels: , ,

Dizzies Press Release: Andrew Gelman on Election Eve (Mon., Nov. 3)


Ed Park is a Democrat, Part II

According to HTML Giant, Small Beer Press is having a sale to benefit the Obama campaign.
Possibly, this is moot. Obama is way up and has lots of money. And the election is next week. And. And. And.

But you might as well do it because the books are all also on sale. For $264 you can have hardcover copies of everything they have published.

For $78, you can have everything they published in 2008.

SBP titles include Kelly Link's books and the anthology Trampoline, which contains a story by yours truly.

Labels: , ,

Uke, toy piano, kazoo: an eternal golden braid

(Via Dzyd Pete)

Labels: ,

Men wearing brassieres

What Would Don Draper Do?

(Via Jessica)


Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm liking writing within strict limits

Christian Bök's Eunoia gets noticed by the BBC, and readers chime in with their univocalic offerings.

n sample:

Westerners revere the Greek legends. Versemen retell the represented events, the resplendent scenes, where, hellbent, the Greek freemen seek revenge whenever Helen, the new-wed empress, weeps. Restless, she deserts her fleece bed where, detested, her wedded regent sleeps. When she remembers Greece, her seceded demesne, she feels wretched, left here, bereft, her needs never met. She needs rest; nevertheless, her demented fevers render her sleepless (her sleeplessness enfeebles her). She needs help; nevertheless her stressed nerves render her cheerless (her cheerlessness enfetters her).

(Here's what I wrote about Bök back in ’03 for the PTSNBN.)

Labels: ,

Der Office

Kafka's office writings to be published.

Carl Wilson at Zoilus says:

I can't decide which I want to read first: "Petition of the Toy Producers' Association in Katharinaberg, Erzgebirge (1912)," "Measures for Preventing Accidents from Wood-Planing Machines (1910)" or "A Public Psychiatric Hospital for German Bohemia (1916)."

(Via John Mark)


Puzzling headline of the day

"I will help Massa win - Raikkonen"



On your toes

A piece on "Mad Men at the Movies" quotes..."Ed Park"?

Ed Park at the Village Voice notices how "it keeps its edges with on-your-toes dialogue and a fine-tuned critique of corporate culture."

That's from Birmingham's Black & White City Paper...but (obviously) I did not write about Mad Men for the PTSNBN! What is going on here? Another "Not Me"?

The article starts with various critics weighing in on Mad Men...then reveals that the quotes were actually taken from reviews of earlier films....Ah! That's what I said about The Apartment, back in 2002. The argument being that "there is nothing new under the sun"...(Don't know if it's really the dialogue that I like about MM...?)

I do like that brilliant bit of assigning by Dzyd Dennis—two workplace movies, a forgettable Hugh Grant–Sandra Bullock offering (all I remember is H.G. beaning S.B. with a tennis ball, or was it the other way around) and the Wilder classic.

Annnyway....haven't thought about that piece in a while.....zzzzz....

Labels: ,

The taming of the "2"

Shakespearean sequelitis.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"As far as I know"


The mountains, Han Yü writes, are:
Scattered like loose titles
Or running together like converging spokes,
Off keel like rocking boats
Or in full stride like horses at the gallop;
Back to back as though offended,
Face to face as though lending a hand,
As far as I know, this combination of trance-inducing repetitive rhyme and hypersimilitude would not be attempted again for another 1,100 years, until the Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro's modernist extravaganza Altazor.

—Eliot Weinberger, NYRB

(Via Jenny D)


Have I made the NYRBQ joke yet?

(Hmm...sort of, sort of not...Please help make this joke a reality.)

Labels: , , ,

January jones

It's Betty, not Don, who lands on the psychiatrist's couch, and who gradually realizes that her life and marriage are an elaborate lie; as she reaches a desperate clarity by season's end, she begins to evoke the tragic and resolute April Wheeler of Richard Yates's 1961 masterpiece Revolutionary Road. (And when she strolls onto her lawn one weekday afternoon with a rifle—clad in nightgown and shades, cigarette dangling from her lip—and starts shooting at her neighbor's pigeons, she looks like she's just walked out of an A.M. Homes story.) —Jessica Winter on Mad Men, at Moving Image Source

Labels: ,

Train in vain

"My" version of Triaspirational.


Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for October 29, 2008

I. Jacket copy: "El demento supremo!" —Tom Robbins on Todd McEwen's Fisher's Hornpipe
(And—wow—you can get a copy for 99 cents!)

II. Jenny has adopted the versatile "Table Talk" format...Here she mentions the squabble between two sisters over the manuscript of Hedge Fund Wives...Here's more...and more again...(The book's website, alas, appears to have been taken down; it contained an excerpt that ended with this boldfaced declaration, complete with Keeleresque name: "And that's when I made up my mind that I would rather lose every single penny of my money, rather than let Thorne Van Buren get his pasty little hands on it.")

III. The PTSNBN now links to this blog?!

IV. Sloane Crosley's favorite essayists.

V. Jacket Copy II: Richard Stern's (actually Richard "G." Stern's) Europe: Or Up & Down With Schreiber and Baggish (1961) has a blurb-filled bio on the back. I raised my eyebrows at Terry "Sothern." But then came...Jean Didion!

VI. "Sometimes I re-use floss...": NYT on digital-jingle-meister Joel Moss Levinson:
After a few semesters at George Washington University, where he declared that his major was medieval weaponry, he dropped out. Soon, he was living out of his car — happily, he says.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Would Paddy McAloon Do?

“The ancient trees on either side of the path leading along the edge of the park were all lying on the ground as if in a swoon.” “Swoon:” in its Old English source, geswōgen, the word means “overcome.” Much of Sebald’s work catalogues such swoonings, living things that—by inattention as much as by malice, by mindless forces as much as by calculating ones—have been muted, undone, overcome. —Wyatt Mason, Sentences

Labels: ,

Monday, October 27, 2008

This blog is five years ahead of the curve

Dzyd Jessica reports that according to Entertainment Weekly's latest Shaw Report, vertigo is "in." (Exhaustion is "five minutes ago" and dehydration is "out.")

Reasons not to write novels

Have you read Slouching Towards Beth Lethem?

(Via Jen.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

McSweeney's + Aspen = The Thing

The Thing is not your garden-variety periodical. Putting a spin on the idea of text messaging, the Thing is by turns a window shade, a baseball cap, a set of coasters and a hunk of rubber. That last issue puts the lie to those glossy fall fashion magazines that could double as doorstops. It is a doorstop.

Bay Area co-editors Will Rogan and Jonn Herschend, a pair of established visual artists, have concocted nothing less than an honest-to-goodness quarterly magazine, albeit an unorthodox one, with the mission of marrying text to household objects. "It's about giving words a different vehicle," Rogan said.

Like all magazine subscribers, the constituency for the Thing never knows the exact contents of a given issue until it arrives.... —LAT


Two Tumblr Ourobori

A tongue-twister?


That's gas in your chest.

(Both via Jen, who writes about the second one: "I think that 3rd item is sort of an ouroboros in its own special way...If you blog about this and then someone reblogs it on Tumblr it will be another ouroboros too. What is wrong with me?")


Friday, October 24, 2008

This is not chick lit

Dzyd Julia:

Flipping through the pages of this month's O Magazine, I was shocked to read Gabrielle LeBlanc's "Worth a Read" column. Could it be that Macolm Gladwell's new book Outliers, which examines extraordinary achievers, does not include a single woman? Bill Gates, Mozart, Robert Oppenheimer, and the Beatles are among Gladwell's subjects. But what about Virginia Woolf, Susan Sontag, Tina Brown, or Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo?

What about Oprah?

The omission of women in Outliers says more about the nature of "big think" books than it does about Mr.Gladwell. Since the publication of The Tipping Point we've seen a proliferation of books that present a single, shrink-wrapped idea as a means of understanding the world at large: books like The World is Flat, The Black Swan, The Wisdom of Crowds, The Long Tail. Now some of these books (the ones written by behavioral economists) tend toward the gee-whiz-isn't-that-interesting set like Predictably Irrational, Freakonomics, and The Undercover Economist. But the point is, all of them promise access to a club whose sole activity is the exchange of ideas; all of them promise, however covertly, to make us feel smarter. And all of them are written by men.

It is hard to know whether women are better at telling stories than propagating ideas (I'm thinking of Susan Orlean, Mary Roach, Karen Abbott), or whether the intellectual audacity required to sell our hypotheses about the world simply isn't in our genetic makeup. But until we get in the ring and start claiming our own big ideas in book form, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised if current discourse leaves us on the sidelines. Still, Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most influential public intellectuals of our time and it's a shame he didn't use his platform to celebrate a few women outliers. —The 26th Story

(Via Galleycat)

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Passionate intensity

[J]ust when you think it’s safe to go back to the movies, the plunger sucks up something from a clogged drain like the unspeakable, unpronounceable Synecdoche, New York, and you’re forced to take back every prematurely made prophecy about “the worst movie ever made.” Because no matter how bad you think the worst movie ever made ever was, you have not seen Synecdoche, New York. It sinks to the ultimate bottom of the landfill, and the smell threatens to linger from here to infinity. —Rex Reed, NY Observer

[Peter Vansittart's] first novel, "I am the World," about the rise and fall of a dictator, was published in 1942. One critic pronounced it "the worst book ever published," a judgment that Mr. Vansittart managed to shrug off as he embarked on a writing career that would produce about 50 novels and dozens of other works. —William Grimes, "Peter Vansittart, 88, Historical Novelist" (obituary), NYT

Labels: , ,

Dizzies Anagrams Service™ for Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lydia Davis = Daily Divas

Income Tax = Mexico Tan



Tonight: I'll be reading with Monica Ferrell (The Answer Is Always Yes) at the Asian American Writers' Workshop, 16 W 32nd St., 7 p.m. (More details here.)

Then I am silent for a time! My reading copy of Personal Days is so marked up that it needs time to recover...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oenomanga synesthesia

“We found ourselves looking for the drama behind the wines we were drinking,” Mr. Kibayashi said. “It started with one wine, ‘This wine is definitely a woman.’
His sister said, “Right, with black hair.” —NYT

Labels: ,

Virtual tour

The American Woolen Building, and other interesting NYC signs and nomenclature, from 14th to 42nd Streets.

(Via MUG)


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Call it courage

Dzyd Ta-Nehisi on Obama's grandparents, Frederick Douglass and Helen Pitts, and more.

Labels: ,

Turn it up—that's enough—so you know—

I'll be on WBAI's Asia Pacific Forum tonight (10/21), beginning around 8:40 until 9 or so. New Yorkers can tune in to 99.5 FM, and the show also streams on the WBAI website.

(More about Asia Pacific Forum here.)

And at 7 p.m. on Thurs., 10/23, I'll be reading at the Asian American Writers' Workshop (16 W. 32nd St., 10th floor) with Monica Ferrell (The Answer Is Always Yes)...and then I'm going to get some soup here...

Labels: ,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ferrell, Gelman, Park: An Eternal Golden Braid

I. Come to my last New York reading (for a couple of months at least)! I'll be at the Asian American Writers' Workshop on Thursday 10/23 (7 p.m.), along with Monica Ferrell. Here's more info at Time Out, and at the AAWW site.

The space is vertiginously located on the 10th floor of 16 West 32nd Street. And 32nd Street, of course, means...Korean food????

II. I've been enjoying reading what things Andrew Gelman thought while reading PD...I especially liked the connection to Jonathan Coe, and to this bit in Gödel, Escher, Bach:

Hofstadter writes about how, when you read a book, you know you're coming to the end, which affects your expectations, unlike in real life stories or in a movie of indeterminate length, when the end can come as a surprise.

What's surprising is that I've been having all these ideas regarding surprise ("the aesthetics of surprise"), maybe Hofstadter will shed some light on this (or not, per Gelman!). Anyway—he finished my novel!

Labels: , , ,

Graphic Mondays

Dzyd Wayne has a new column up at Coilhouse, called From the Continental Shelf, in which he
discusses his favorite European Comics. This installment features Dylan Dog...Dzyd Douglas has writes in the Times on the offerings from Los Bros Hernandez, some of which have crossed my desk (and one of which I've started and am enjoying). I approve of the usage of "Zeppo":

“Amor y Cohetes,” the final volume of seven collecting the first (1982-1996) “Love and Rockets” series, is a gallimaufry of 42 short pieces that don’t quite belong to either Jaime’s Maggie-and-Hopey continuity or Gilbert’s tales of the inhabitants of Palomar, aside from a pair of tales in which the brothers tackle each other’s characters. (There are also a few stories by Mario Hernandez, the Zeppo of the family.)

...Also in the NYT, a front-page piece on Feiffer's Explainers...This is not comics, but while we're reading the Book Review, the penultimate and antepenultimate sentences of David Thomson's take on an Astaire bio seems specifically designed to drive B. Kite bonkers:

Astaire is never going to be “rescued” for a trashy age by the revelation of a sordid private life. At the same time, his terrifying concentration and his refusal to acknowledge certain appetites lead to a conclusion seldom reached about performers in ballet or other musical forms: Fred Astaire was not human, not sexual, not sexed. But in his total disregard of the hardship and squalor of the ’30s, he let it be known that art need have nothing to do with life. That’s where “Citizen Kane” betrays itself. It is heavy-handedly about “America.” “Top Hat” and the others are strolls through Arcadia.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Oulipian sports (Buffalo version)

I. Yesterday
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — There was no play clock, no replay, no scoreboard, no television. A power failure that began when some Mylar balloons became ensnared in electrical lines near Ralph Wilson Stadium knocked out the N.F.L.’s modern amenities for much of the Buffalo Bills’ game Sunday, leaving only darkened locker rooms and throwback football in its wake. —NYT

II. Three decades ago
The Sabres faced off against the Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals, back in '75—here's some footage from the infamous Game 3, which featured not only a swooping bat but also thick fog.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shades of NoTifSoSher

With Chelsea and Gramercy Park hemming it in, Koreatown has come up in the world, acquiring an affiliation with SoFi (South Fifth Avenue) and NoMad (north of Madison Square). —NYT

Labels: ,

Three times in one week = trend

I came across these three mentions last week:

1. As he sat on the bed, I stayed in the doorway and pointed. "I read that." The book was Atlas Shrugged.
"It's interesting, but it's way too long," he said.
"Yeah, I wouldn't say it was my favorite."
—Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife

2. "A utopia is a perfect civilization, which generally means there isn't a government to interfere with the lives of its citizens. This, of course, is an impossible dream. There is, however, an extremely long book called Atlas Shrugged that's about what would happen if all of the most brilliant individuals in the world separated themselves frm the flotsam and jetsam of society and built a utopia. Rebecca, you should read this book. You'd probably relate to it, especially if you're interested in trains."
—Chuck Klosterman, Downtown Owl

3. "Have you read her? Rand, Atlas Shrugged. That's the one...Take $1.99 out of that $2,500 and buy yourself a copy."
Mad Men (season 1, ep. 9)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Click on the door



From Nabokov's Lectures on Russian Literature

Chekhov's books are sad books for humorous people; that is, only a reader with a sense of humor can really appreciate their sadness....Things for him were funny and sad at the same time, but you would not see their sadness if you did not see their fun, because both were linked up.

• • •

His dictionary is poor, his combination of words almost trivial....he was not a verbal inventor in the sense that Gogol was; his literary style goes to parties clad in its everyday suit. Thus Chekhov is a good example to give when one tries to explain that a writer may be a perfect artist without being exceptionally vivid in his verbal technique or exceptionally preoccupied with the way his sentences curve.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ghost writers

The Guardian has its way with the Invisible Library "meme"!


Friday Time-Wasters

Courtesy of Personal Days.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Late-Night List

Vertigo, the laudable W.G. Sebald blog, is putting together a list of novels with photographer characters...My contribution: Saul Henchman from Powell's The Fisher King.

Here are the first few:
Adolfo Bioy Casares, La Aventura de un Fotografo en la Plata. Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 1985 (translated as The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata in 1989)

Italo Calvino, Gli Amori Difficili. Milan: Mondadori, 1993 (contains the story translated as The Adventure of a Photographer in Difficult Loves in 1983) [the story can be read online here]

Julio Cortázar, Las babas del diablo, in Las Aramas Secretas. 1959 (translated in 1967 as Blowup, in Blowup and Other Stories) [the source for Antonioni's film Blowup]

Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves. NY: Pantheon, 2000

Delia Falconer, The Service of Clouds. Sydney: Picador, 1997

* * *

This is sort of an Ouroboros? Me noticing author/Columbia statistics prof Andrew Gelman's guess that I was a Democrat, including it in my previous post (which was actually written last night, auto-posted this a.m.), and then him mentioning that post in his subsequent post?

Labels: , , ,

Ed Park reading on 10/19 and 10/23!

I thought I'd refer to myself in the third person!

1. This Sunday, 10/19, I'll be reading something shortish (PD excerpt? "A Note to My Translator"? something that I cook up between now and then?) at Pianos for an Obama/Biden fundraiser. The lineup: Paul Beatty (The White Boy Shuffle and Slumberland), Nick Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City), Elissa Schappell (Use Me), Gary Shteyngart* (Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook), Anthony Swofford (Jarhead and Exit A), and actress Lili Taylor.

(Pianos: 158 Ludlow St. Event goes from 7:30 to 9. Trains: F or V to Second Ave. JMZ or F to Delancey St. $25 admission, which you should fulfill on the website pre-event, goes to the Obama/Biden campaign. I think I am even paying for the privilege to read!)

[Weirdly, this turned up last night: "Ed Park is a Democrat."]

2. Next Thursday (10/23), I'll be reading at the Asian American Writers' Workshop. Also reading: Monica Ferrell, author of the novel The Answer Is Always Yes.

(AAWW: 10 W. 32nd St., btw Bwy & 5th Ave., 10th floor; event starts at 7; suggested $5 donation.)

*Mr. Shteyngart joins an elite group of brave writers who have shared the stage with me twice. The other members are Rivka Galchen and Chuck Klosterman.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An IV-VI Bloodmark

Not sure why this came up on my Gmail—but it's interesting, a Wii thing for your guitar. I wouldn't post it here...except that the guitarist's band is called Vivian Darkbloom! (And they have a song called "Saved by Science Fiction.")

Labels: , , ,

Good name for a detective

"Stephen Branchflower."

Celebrity vertigo

The medical problem which has led singer Janet Jackson to call off a number of gigs has been revealed as migraines linked to vertigo. —BBC


The Secret "hic"-tory

“It’s a common saying that no one has been able to tell if they are historians that like to drink or drinkers who like history,” said Dr. Robert J. Chandler, a senior historian at Wells Fargo Bank and a proud member of the group’s San Francisco chapter. “And no one knows because no one has been in any condition to record the minutes.” —NYT

Labels: ,


Fox 2000 has acquired rights to Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel “The Forever War,” and Ridley Scott is planning to make it into his first science fiction film since he delivered back-to-back classics with “Blade Runner” and “Alien.”

Scott intended to follow those films with “The Forever War,” but rights complications delayed his plans for more than two decades. —Variety

(Via File 770)

My scattered Forever War thoughts can be found here and here.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Potential future Pet Shop Boys lyric?

"At first, I was nervous," he said. "Then I was like, 'Whatever.'"


If you stare at a word long enough, it starts looking weird

"The longest one word univocalic is strengthlessness."

Just discovered...

Dzyd Team Member/At the Movies' Critics Roundupper Matt's Twitter feed...Full of inscrutables like: "Don't touch my belly button! It's too deep."


Wait—what's the joke?

An admirer of William Trevor, the often-bleak Irish author — a taste Mr. McCain has picked up — Mr. Salter is known among colleagues for his gloomy view of human nature and the world. Mr. McCain has a similar streak. “It’s always darkest before it’s totally black,” he often says, a motto borrowed from the “Peanuts” character Charlie Brown that he jokingly misattributes to Mao. —NYT

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's been a long day—

—time for an invisible cocktail?

Labels: ,

Grandfather clause

A beloved uncle, Bert Andrews, won a Pulitzer Prize as a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune in 1948. The senator’s grandfather, the first Adm. John S. McCain, had left behind a drawer full of unpublished fiction, including adventure stories under the pseudonym Casper Clubfoot. —NYT

Labels: , ,

Wildcat strikes

“I’m just like any other coach, I’ve always tried to steal ideas,” said Malzahn, now the offensive coordinator at Tulsa, which entered Saturday with the highest-scoring offense among major college teams. “We were looking for ways to get the best players on the field.” —NYT

(This piece also features someone named "Houston Nutt.")

(Via Jane)

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Deconstructing Barry

Via Ta-Nehisi:

There has been speculation about this which I've ignored, no doubt because there are enough policy reasons to oppose Barack Obama and I don't want to feed into what sounds, at first blush, like Vince Fosteresque paranoia. But I've finally read Jack Cashill's lengthy analysis in The American Thinker. It is thorough, thoughtful, and alarming -- particularly his deconstruction of the text in Obama's memoir and comparison to the themes, sophistication and signature phraseology of Bill Ayers' memoir.

There is nothing in Obama's scant paper trail prior to 1995 that would suggest something as stylish and penetrating as, at times, Dreams from My Father is. And when Obama speaks extemporaneously, one doesn't hear the same voice one encounters in the book. Now maybe Obama has a backlog of writing fom Columbia or Harvard that signal great literary promise, but he not only hasn't shared it, he's assiduously hidden traces of it. And, to be sure, writing is different from speaking -- in fairness, some of Obama's off-the-cuff bumbling when he speaks is certainly due to the rigors of the campaign which would cause even the most gifted communicator to faulter from time to time. But it's not unreasonable to expect more similarity between Obama the writer and Obama the orator. —National Review Online

(The "in fairness" is a nice touch.)

Labels: ,


Widmerpool acted quickly. He strolled to the kerb. A cab seemed to rise out of the earth at that moment. Perhaps all action, even summoning a taxi when none is there, is basically a matter of the will. —Anthony Powell, The Acceptance World

(See Levi's latest Powell position.)

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Edible Ouroboros

The Cobra Dog logo is about to munch its own tail.

(Via Scott, who's reading The Recognitions now—Ouroboros lit!)

Labels: , ,

On tap

Mad Men comes to The Invisible Library!

Labels: ,

Friday, October 10, 2008

Like something out of Stark...

...or Keeler? A scheme in Seattle:
“I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour,” said Mike [Ruth], who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.

He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing.

“Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask … and, if possible, a blue shirt,” he said.

Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.

From there, the crook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.

“We did get an inner tube that was about 200 yards from the place where he entered the water and took that for evidence,” said Debbie Willis, Monroe Police.

University of Chicago Press
(Via Levi; check out what Donald E. Westlake, alias Richard Stark, has to say about it)


South Pacific: The Football Game

A pipeline from the Pacific Island kingdom of Tonga has delivered a Polynesian influence to this Texas town’s churches, markets and championship football team, which won state titles in 2005 and 2007 among Texas’ largest schools.... The proximity of Euless to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, which is located partly within the city limits, has brought a remarkable diversity to this town of 54,000.
Thirteen of the 24 Trinity players who have made all-state since the 1980s, and 16 members of the current roster, are of Tongan descent.
“When you think of Texas high school football, you think of country kids, farm kids; you don’t expect to see players from the South Pacific,” said Sioeli Pauni, who has two sons on the Trinity team.
The parents of many players work at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport as baggage handlers and food-service employees, facilitating affordable travel on special family occasions. Others are self-employed as landscapers, carpenters and masons. Meanwhile, their sons are resolute linemen and linebackers, who weigh from 200 to 333 pounds and find in football a brisk physical exertion similar to the Tongan national sport of rugby.
Each time he knocks a defensive lineman on his back, Uatakini Cocker, a 6-foot-2, 297-pound offensive tackle, screams: “Mate ma’a Tonga,” meaning, “I will die for Tonga.” Later, the playful Cocker said, he often has to explain his heritage to opposing players and fans in this typical postgame conversation:
“Are you Mexican?”
“O.K., because you would be a very big Mexican.” —NYT

(Via Dzyd Jane)


Idea for an Oulipian film

Jia Zhangke's 24 City opens with a decaying factory in Chengdu, ancient machines churning out red-hot pliable metals. The subtitles read, "Hand me the rifle, Commandante!" Ah...there's nothing like a projection snafu to rile loyal NYFF patrons! The subs running beneath the image were from Che, a sneak peek for us lucky few in attendance. Hackles were raised, one disgusted gentleman booed with revolutionary lust, but eventually calm prevailed, and 24 Che returned to its City. —R. Emmet Sweeney, Termite Art

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Idioglossia 2008

"[Sarah Palin] is like Jodie Foster in the movie 'Nell,' " Stewart continued. "They just found her, and she was speaking her own special language. —NYDN (Huffington Post)

When countries get hungry

Hebrew daily Haaretz splashed across its front page that Bernard Kouchner said Israel might "eat" the Islamic Republic before it got nuclear arms.

The following day Haaretz apologised, saying Mr Kouchner, speaking in English, had actually said "hit".

Mr Kouchner also offered a diplomatic apology for the "phonetic confusion".


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Powers to Powell

I. Dzyd Levi at Inside Higher Education, on the Nobel flap:
What writers might be on the verge of a Nobel-level career? I’m placing my bet on Richard Powers (as did the MacArthur Foundation several years ago): His oeuvre to this point has shown him to possess a restless, inquisitive mind that is unlikely to allow him to repeat himself or settle into a rut, while his ambitious attempts to marry the language and insights of science to psychological realism seems like a reasonable formula for the sort of sweeping masterpiece that could get the Nobel committee’s attention.

Ah, but who else does he like? Read on...

II. Levi also points me to this rather arcane (think Venn diagram) tidbit, a treat for Richard Stark fans who are also Anthony Powell fans, and vice-versa:

By the time he'd unpacked and desanitized everything, the air in the room had a bit of life in it. Sternberg stripped to his boxer shorts, turned down the bed, settled himself comfortably with the pillows behind his back, and opened the Anthony Powell novel he'd started on the plane. It was Magnus Donners he wanted to identify with, but he kept finding his sympathies going to Widmerpool.
—Richard Stark, Plunder Squad

Labels: , , ,

Ouroboros yoga

Last week, Dzyd Will—curator of A Journey Round My Skull—wrote:

My own ouroboros-sighting fascination comes from a friend's drawing on my dry-erase board. It was kind of a yoga stick-figure ouroboros. She did this at least 6 years ago, but I still think about it.

He managed to locate and photograph the original "creepy stick-figure-man-ouroboros" in question:

The original creator noted, "It is, I have to say, slightly more painful than I remember it being." It now exists on her blog as well.

Labels: ,

Naked hunch

"Have I mentioned that they're all nudists in the future?"


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

My back pages

Free Books
What it is: A box of free books, each purposely missing its last few pages
What it means: “I’m playing with the functional aspect of something versus its value as art,” explains artist Eric Doeringer. “By destroying its value as an actual book, I’m transforming it into a work of art.”

—TONY (via 26th Story)


Cheek House

Dzyd Jessica:

I thought of my friend Julia, who once told me, "I love your cheeks. They're Victorian." I had no idea what that meant, but she said it with such a quintessentially Julia-esque mix of kindness and certainty that there was no need for clarification—my self-consciousness had already been bundled away in a confidence-boosting swaddle of crinolines and velvet and Charles Dickens by the fireside. —O


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tiny details

...on the cover of the 1965 Houston phone book include a flammable orange juice spill and a traffic-stopping line of cats.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Beyond-Believer

At BoingBoing, Douglas Rushkoff has a lovely mention of Personal Days (along with Sara Ryan's The Rules for Hearts, one of "Two Fast Reads...with surprisingly enduring flavor"), calling it among other things a "black comedy about downsizing [that] brings an almost Beckett-like sense of reduction to the dwindling office."

I'm especially psyched by his mention of Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief," the first track on Imperial Bedroom. It's a song about which I have had a couple of thoughts over the years!

1) I might have read this somewhere, can't remember, but: One fascinating thing about this shortish song is that the melody is constantly changing. Can you call the verses verses? The chords are very simple: D-G, D-F for the most part (with a G-Gm for the bridge and the single "chorus," see below); he (w)rings ceaseless changes out of this progression, his voice hunting high and low, as they say...

2) ...which led me to think of this song as E.C.'s self-conscious statement on his own songwriting prowess, which was arguably at its peak on IB. (The song's placement at the start of this album supports this view—a salvo of sorts.) He inundates the song with cliché in order to show how effortlessly he can move beyond it; wordplay and puns abound; he piles on hook after hook so that there is no single hook—the energy and invention never flag.

And to what end? Why squander it, spend it all, on such a short song (2m 34s.)? I think this is E.C. realizing the power of his talent (which will be on full if less furious display on IB), demonstrating it in superconcentrated form. "Just like the canals on Mars or the Great Barrier Reef, I come to you beyond belief," he sings at the end of the bridge. He's a force of nature.

But this isn't braggadocio; E.C. will also acknowledge the pitfalls of such a talent. In the outro (the closest thing to a chorus, the song's single repeated line), he anticipates criticism and also criticizes himself: "I've got a feeling I'm gonna get a lot of grief/Once this seemed so appealing, now I am beyond belief." (Here are all the lyrics.) It's as if he's both dazzled and exasperated by his own abilities.

* * *

Other notes: Bret Easton Ellis's next novel is called Imperial Bedroom, which you could read about here if the L.A. Times would just not get rid of its articles...News of a new Pynchon novel...Levi Stahl on Anthony Powell on Barbara Skelton's memoir, Tears Before Bedtime (which gives its title to track 2 on Imperial Bedroom!)...Delusions of grandeur: I thought Andrew Gelman had invoked Nabokov and James Joyce (in talking about PD)—but no, he was referring to James Jones. Heyyy—I'll still take it!...Phil Nugent on the Biden-Palin debate...Steven Pinker in NYT: "Listeners who hear the Minnewegian sounds of the characters from ‘Fargo’ when they listen to Ms. Palin are on to something: the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in Alaska, where she grew up, was settled by farmers from Minnesota during the Depression."

Labels: , , ,

Friday, October 03, 2008

To the Max

My latest Astral Weeks column looks at the longer short fiction of Howard Waldrop:

So, for instance, in "You Could Go Home Again," Waldrop's not content to imagine, with great empathy, what Thomas Wolfe might have written to Max Perkins, his old editor, had Wolfe not died at 37. No. Instead, Waldrop's Wolfe listens gleefully to the banter of Fats Waller ("That's the charm of music, the Hegemony of Harmony, the Triumph of Terpsichore, and other melodious metaphors"). Not only that, they're cruising from Japan to Germany.

On a zeppelin.

With J.D. Salinger as social director.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thursday Ouroboros — I will Kadare — Not Me

Dzyd Will draws our attention to this Polish poster for Fatal Attraction:

(Check out the Airplane 2 poster as well.)

* * *

Our big-power cultural provincialism requires a corrective. “Great Albanian writer” may risk a reflexive yawn. But it’s tiny worlds that fill the large ones: Jane Austen’s village society, Mark Twain’s muddy Mississippi, Cervantes’s somnolent Mancha. For that matter, Dante’s hell is largely populated from the bloody quarrels of a few small city-states.
—Richard Eder on Ismail Kadare, NYT

* * *

Not me

Labels: , , ,

"The Good Fight"

The new Believer is out—it is just WOW—you need to have it. Adam Thirlwell (whom I've dubbed "too good to blog about")...Jason Boog on GI Joe and war...Greil Marcus on Joy Division and more...short reviews...Bishop/Lowell letters.........interviews with Will Eno, Bruce Jay Friedman (by Amy Sohn), Nico Muhly, Diane Williams....a Joshua Clover poem!?—and this piece by Dzyd James, about a failed run for a state house seat........:

I was a Democrat who disdained most other Democrats—suicide in a Democratic primary—and finally hired my old assistant, a fearless twenty-six-year-old who shared my “I love it because I hate it” philosophy of politics. Aryah’s job for the first few days was to stand behind me while I talked to voters at their doors, then ridicule my performance. I was nervous, talked too fast, apologized when I asked for someone’s email address, and generally squirmed like a kid whose ball had gone through each voter’s window. Aryah’s attitude was that we were trying to help people by interrupting their dinner and telling them about the great James Browning. He told old people that I was going to make universal health care a reality, people with toys in their yards that I was going to get more money for the public schools, people with Chesapeake Bay license plates that I would do something about Maryland’s terrible air quality. Listening to Aryah talk, I started to like the sound of this Browning guy and lost some of my shame.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Frazzled, efficient

Really Good Short Story
Chris Adrian's "Why Antichrist?," in his new collection, A Better Angel. I can't even describe it. It is too great.

Claire Barliant...
...has a website.

Don DeLillo...
...blogger? At The Onion, "D.D." on the Republican National Convention:

Here in Minneapolis, a woman with a clipboard, frazzled, efficient. She reads from a printout to a group of staffers a change in schedule from the coordinating committee: the station wagons arrive at noon. In the Free Speech Zone, a man dangles from a wire, the famous performance artist from New York. Everywhere, security: badges, metal detectors, small plastic cards with magnetic stripes. Police, silent in riot gear, truncheons like humming, efficient software. Someone says: "So she was technically never the actual Miss Alaska?"

"If anyone has the blues over the hard times and trembles for the present and future prosperity of the United States let him make a tour of the great shops of the city on one of these bright and deliciously cool September days, and however deeply financial pessimism may have crept into his soul he will experience of refreshment and will become firmly convinced that all hope is not yet lost." —The New York Herald, 1893

(Via MUG, quoted from Gilded City, by M. H. Dunlop)

What if she had said 'The Believer'?

The History of Literature
There's Joyce, Nabokov, and then nothing for a while...oh and then Park. Heyyy—I'll take it!!!

Portland Bulletin
Dzyds Paul and Deb and others read tonight at The Cleaners!

Labels: , , , , ,

View My Stats