Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
[In Darconville's Cat] Theroux...encrypted his former lover's name in acrostics and anagrams, and even cited her as the author of the spoof books whose titles are scattered through the novel....
--Paul Quinn, "Anatomies of Love and Hate," a review of Alexander Theroux's Laura Warholic, TLS
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for January 29
I. Levi—again!—on Powell. Here he hits the nail beautifully on the head:
I couldn't agree more; only constant curiosity and sympathy could sustain our interest over 12 books. The title of volume three, The Acceptance World (an insurance term? I can't recall) could stand in for the whole sequence. (I think this vibe, crucially, comes through in the miniseries, despite other imperfections.)
What raises Powell's curiosity in Dance to the level of art is that he leavens it with a real openness to difference, from ordinary English eccentricity to unexpected sexual predilections to inexplicable fixed ideas. That mix of curiosity and sympathy allows Powell to find nearly any person of at least some interest; his much-quoted response to charges of snobbery--that if there were a Burke's of Bank Clerks, he'd buy that, too--rings true for any close reader of Dance.
This is nice, too: "As Powell demonstrates, what people want so often becomes who they are."
OK, then: What does it mean that, all this week, I've been craving a milkshake?!
II. Calhouniana in the NYT. I like the last sentence, and also the double use/meaning of "fox":
He noted, “There are the usual mailing folds present as well as overall age toning and minor foxing.”
Mr. Lorello wrote that on the last day of the auction, he realized that state archivists were aware of the fraudulent listing, and he began to sense that he was being outfoxed.
III. Terminology: I'd heard of "slipstream" and "new wave fabulism" before, but not "the new weird." Here's Jeff Vandermeer's definition, which mentions a story of mine (included in 2003's Trampoline, edited by Kelly Link)—and gives the full title!
Time and reality can flow in any direction in this literature; insofar as these stories are coherent within their own narrative frameworks, they exhibit no concern for anchoring their models to a knowable world–that is to say, the “weird” elements in stories do not have to “mean” anything. Frame stories can become main stories (as in Kelly Link’s “Lull” and Jeffrey Ford’s “The Yellow Chamber”). Landmasses and locomotion may re-invent themselves as necessary for the story (as in Ed Park’s “Well-Moistened with Cheap Wine, the Sailor and the Wayfarer Sing of Their Absent Sweethearts” and Christopher Rowe’s “The Force Acting on the Displaced Body”). Dreams or alternate states of consciousness can make the real world before they have even occurred (again “The Yellow Chamber,” also Alex Irvine’s “Gus Dreams of Biting the Mailman” and Jonathan Lethem’s “The Dystopianist, Thinking of His Rival, Is Interrupted by a Knock on the Door”). All of these instabilities and textual experimentations point to a larger, overarching concern in the little weird: there are no worlds, no realities; there are only people and their self-world metaphors.” (Via Jonathan Wood at The Worlds of Paul Jessup)
"Landmasses and locomotion": Just realized something obvious—an earlier story of mine, "An Oral History of Atlantis" (published in Columbia in 2002-ish, I think; written in August 2001 for a reading at the aptly named Galapagos) featured...an unmoored Manhattan!
Wood asks if we're entering the Post–New Weird...
IV. Dizzyhead Benno—not surprisingly, a Ben Franklin fan!—has started a website with LJ Ruell, called Poor Richard. Check out LJ's stunning entry into the New Yorker's Eustace Tilly contest:
V. What did people think about the movie Atonement?
Monday, January 28, 2008
West 83rd St., near Columbus Ave.
Labels: Instant poem
Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for January 28
I. Heath Ledger: "I was obsessed with an artist by the name of Nick Drake." —Pitchfork
II. Vocabulary from the NYT Suharto obit:
songkok, the flat traditional Indonesian cap.
dukuns, spiritual advisers and soothsayers who were believed to be in touch with natural forces
III. I don't know why this obit is so fascinating...
He was so poor that he once had to change schools because he could not afford the shorts and shoes that were the required uniform. His education ended with junior high school. He found a job in the bank in his village, but resigned after he tore his only set of work clothes in a bicycle accident.
IV. A nice line:
Many Indonesians benefited from his programs, but none more so than members of his family, who became billionaires many times over.
[H]is wife, Siti Hartinah Suharto, known as Madame Tien, handled the family’s business affairs. She became the object of quiet criticism, with her detractors calling her “Madame Tien Percent,” a reference to what were said to be commissions she received on business deals.
VI. Lost positives:
TO the small group of photography experts aware of its existence, it was known simply as “the Mexican suitcase.” And in the pantheon of lost modern cultural treasures, it was surrounded by the same mythical aura as Hemingway’s early manuscripts, which vanished from a train station in 1922. —Randy Kennedy, "The Capa Cache," NYT
Dizzyhead project: Other famous (or interesting) lost manuscripts?
In (I believe?) the introduction to Lake Wobegon Days, Garrison Keillor writes about early stories, lost on a train...
There's a lost Flaubert translation (on which F. worked closely) mentioned in Adam Thirlwell's The Delighted States...
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Bow and arrow
Only in Jakarta, Kids...only in Jakarta
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Have you seen this?
Not a closed world
Spam lede of the week
IA - Maxx
# 100% pure natural product
# suppresses appetite
# increases fat burning
# recommended by physicians
Meet your moneymaker
The latest—and loopiest—Astral Weeks yet is up at the L.A. Times site. I have fun with Terry Pratchett's Making Money and allude, once again to DUNCAN. For maximum effect, please italicize, in your mind, the last bit of the last sentence in the second graf ("I am incapable...")
(Thanks to Jenny for fielding my Discworld queries.)
Also at the LAT: Stately, plump Will Ferrell.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for January 25
I. Radio thrilled the video star: Team Dizzies member Matt talks about the Oscar nominations on NPR's Talk of the Nation.
II. A nicely associated I've Been Reading Lately post—drinkage, Amisage, Powellage, Fitzgeraldage.
III. Did an author have to dumb down her work because of nearby fumes? (Via Jenny D.) The opening graf is kind of appealing, though, no?
How stupid the young are. When I was 21 I enrolled in philosophy at Columbia University. I wanted to find truth. I hired helpers to wheel me to it. My professors said, “Truth exists. It’s real and absolute. But the only place it has any meaning is in questions like ‘Is it going to rain tomorrow?’ Wait until tomorrow and see. Then – hey, presto – you’ve got the truth.” Well, what the hell good is that to me? I live down here, deep down in this wheelchair. I need more.
IV. There will be bud: Smiley Face—best film of 2007?! Dizzyhead Dennis had a piece in the L.A. Times, sadly not available (though I would like to reprint some of it here); Sweeney also has an appreciation. VERY FUNNY, two scenes in particular!
V. Help! Am still mired in the second episode of disc 3 of The Wire!
VI. Great title: All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well. I will read this!
VII. Sarah W., can this be true?
For the last 35 years [Edward Hoch] was a fixture of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which published a story of his every month from 1973 until his death. —NYT
Thursday, January 24, 2008
My shadow falls
I like how the silhouettes at the official Personal Days/moi site—under construction—already look like disgruntled refugees from an office novel.
Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for January 24
I. While Ron Rosenbaum drums up drama over at Slate regarding the fate of The Original of Laura, we Table-Talkers were reminded of another, more crucial Nabokovian debate: Did VN ever read Harry Stephen Keeler?
Sounds like a bad joke, eh? We-ell...
Finally available at The Unarchivable is my (our?) unprecedented work of Naboko-Keelerian scholarship, "The Oblique Case," originally published in Keeler News way back in 2000. (A brief variation on the same topic appeared from our pen in 2004 in the PTSNBN.) Here is a taste:
The tale of detection embraces contests of mind; the more devilish the design, roughly, the more successful the mystery. Perhaps the same impulse in the human imagination seeks out both puzzles and stories. Strange, then, that the “serious” reader should balk at fiction that seems cross-bred. A story that engages our sense of play is reduced to a toy—or worse, a machine, coldly contrived to spit out a result. The artifice is too apparent, and the writer is deemed an egghead (or a fool). Can such works be anything more than glorified parlor games?
This note concerns a single such parlor game, as played by two writers rarely mentioned in the same breath: Harry Stephen Keeler and Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov. They were rough contemporaries, with the latter’s years transposed about a decade forward. Their legacies could not be more dissimilar: recent Nabokovian garlands include a biography of his wife and a second celluloid version of Lolita, while Keeler’s work remains obscure.
Stylistically they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, if not the universe. Even Nabokov’s interview responses read like prose poems, whereas no Keeler creation would be complete without stunningly awkward descriptions and breathless dialogue that barely has time to reflect upon itself. (It is possible we cherish one writer for his scruples, the other for his shamelessness.)
Y. Cheung, Business Detective (1939) and “The Vane Sisters” (written 1951; first published 1959) appear to be as different as their creators. The former is a novel about a Chinese American sleuth who takes on, as it were, two cases—one professional, the other cryptogrammatic. In Nabokov’s dozen pages, a professor of French learns of an acquaintance’s death, and reflects upon her theories of undead communication.
We are startled, then, to find at the heart of each story a “death message”—and to discover that both unlock to the same key.
II. Actually, it was as much RR's Laura piece as this delightful story (via the PF) about a Thai poet who acrostitched a political message into a Valentine's Day poem (and got thrown into the slammer for his efforts). The message was "Power Crazy Than Shwe," which perplexed me all of yesterday, until I realized "Than" was the first name of General Shwe, the victim of this encrypted attack!
Bonus: A decidedly odd picture of the culprit, in which he's shown holding...a computer monitor...with his head circled in white...
III. New Bookforum is out...Levi directs me to the fact that Kingsley Amis wrote three books on drinking:
How’s Your Glass? is neither worth reprinting nor buying secondhand unless for the purpose of completing a Kingsley Amis collection. It consists of difficult and dated quiz questions unlikely to be of use even to men on the lavatory: “Can you define the following: a. Tokay Aszru, b. Tokay Escencia, c. Tokay Szamorodni?”(Hmm, there's that "completist" construction, about which Parkus Grammaticus has advised: Avoid!)
IV. In Melanie Rehak's review of Jennifer 8. Lee's book on Chinese food (it was weird just now typing that "8."), she apostrophizes:
I had to read up only to page 31 before stumbling across the name of my beloved noodle palace in her chapter on the birth of Chinese-food delivery in New York in 1976, “The Menu Wars.” Oh, Hunan Balcony, what sweet memories of you I cherish. This was where I learned to eat with chopsticks and where my sister and I poured obscene amounts of sugar into our tea....
Taking a little stroll with a visiting Levi a couple weeks ago, we passed Hunan Balcony; he did a double take. "I thought it said Human Balcony."
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Pearls before swine
Like an Iron Chef episode gone wrong, or some sort of Oulipian menu:
There are feet in the pasta carbonara. The rice in the bibimbop is glazed in sticky foot broth. And anybody who needs to ask if there are feet in the “healthy collagen salad” — collagen being something that pigs’ feet have a lot of, especially in relation to the negligible nuggets of meat stuck in their deepest recesses — is in the wrong spot.
Labels: Ed reads the paper
A Boon for Book Boosters or Genetic Engineering for Egghead Elitists? You Decide.
Can a dachsund be an Ouroboros? Today's circular creature comes from Dizzyhead Brian, veteran Ouroboros hunter, whose Crude Futures posts have been a mini-education in the beauty of the ephemeral! (This postcard was "one of the many 25¢ gems I found at a San Fran postcard swap meet a couple weeks back.")
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for January 22-23
I. January 22 is the 41st anniversary of the death of Harry Stephen Keeler.
II. Remember when I used to write film reviews for the PTSNBN? Me neither! But Google does—this just came up as a Google Alert: My "Rotten Tomatoes" page. (They must have redesigned it.) See what movie I called "irredeemably dull"! "Fun and nourishing"! "A gratifying playground of high-wire language"! (Huh?!) "Enthusiastically scored"! And of course, "Less a romance than a feature-length plug for 'N Sync and its personalities."
III. On a more somber note—the first film I ever reviewed for the PT... was A Knight's Tale, starring the late Heath Ledger.
IV. Levi heeds the Dizzies call and argues for Powell's superiority over Amis. (That's Anthony and Martin—not Padgett or Dawn and Kingsley!)
I haven't been posting much about DUNCAN (who right now is stretched out in his favorite power-to-the-people/Muscle Beach/"The Thinker" pose) because perhaps that would be TMI! But wait—my friend James has started a new blog, DADISTAN, where I too will record some thoughts about fatherhood, as well as notes on Gilmore Girls, season 4 (which I have been watching late at night, a bottle in one hand....bottle of formula, that is!)...I thought "Pop Life" would be a good name for such a blog, but that URL has already been claimed by this bit of brilliance. (Eh???)
If you're interested in contributing to Dadistan, drop me a line! (Also, am brewing YET ANOTHER blog project with some comrades—you will like it!)
Most importantly: Hats off to Mr. Linden Park, proud dad of Ella (baby #2)!
Two roads diverged in Sog Magog Memplremagog
In Mr. Faggen’s version a phrase from the notebooks is rendered as “Sog Magog Mempleremagog,” and is footnoted for its source in the Book of Ezekiel. Mr. Logan regards the phrase as a misreading because “Gog and Magog” are the actual Biblical names and because there is a real lake between Vermont and Quebec that is spelled Memphremagog. Mr. Faggen argues that Frost changed the “G” in “Gog” to an “S” as a jest about the lake and says the misspelled lake’s name is what Frost wrote. —NYT
Labels: Robert Frost
The Cronenberg Anagrams
Monday, January 21, 2008
After checking out Ben's Frank Stanford story (and admiring the Ehrenreich-Stanford portrait stare-off), why not read—if you haven't already—Paul LaFarge's Dungeons & Dragons odyssey, "Destroy All Monsters"?
First published in September 2006, it's one of my favorite Believer pieces—is it too grand to claim that it's the best piece of writing on D&D?
If Wizards of the Coast can’t find a way to make Dungeons & Dragons compelling to children, then the day will come when D&D is the equivalent of bingo or shuffleboard, played by forgetful old men in retirement homes, community centers, and, yes, church basements. “I’m an elf of some sort,” one of the players will say. “Where did I put that character sheet?”
Searching for Bobby Fischer...and Babs!
Bobby attended Erasmus Hall High School on Flatbush Avenue, where he was said to be friendly with Barbra (then spelled “Barbara”) Streisand. He dropped out to concentrate on playing chess. The school is now closed. —NYT
"A philosophizing deaf castrato"
The world of Stanford’s imagination—that “unknown country where my dreams jump and shout”—found its fullest expression in the work for which he is best known, The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You. Like the lost text of some esoteric faith, many people have heard of it, but few have laid eyes on a copy. The Battlefield is a single poem, almost entirely unpunctuated, more than 500 pages long in its first edition, and until its reprinting in 2000 almost impossible to find. Borrowing the author’s first and middle names, Francis Gildart, the dreamy, rebellious child narrator (“knight of the levees and / rivers and ships keeper of tears and virgins and horses with lucky markings”), will be familiar (by voice if not by name) to readers of Stanford’s early poems, as will much of The Battlefield’s levee-camp cast of characters, to which Stanford adds, among many others, Count Hugo Pantagruel, the world’s smallest man; a blind astronomer; the tragically costive Rufus Abraham; Vico, a philosophizing deaf castrato; and Sylvester the Black Angel, whose lynching young Francis yearns to avenge. Christ and the apostles drop in for a while. So does Hank Williams. He’s drunk. Sonny Liston weeps alone in a short-order café. When he falls asleep, Francis kisses the back of his neck.
—Ben Ehrenreich, "The Long Goodbye"
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Has anyone made this joke yet?
Labels: Who would win???
How "Personal Days" was written, or There Will Be Blood
Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for January 20
I. The TLS ranks the 50 greatest UK writers (including poets) since 1945.....
19. Martin Amis
20. Anthony Powell
Umm...Levi? I'm going to need backup on this one! (Bring Westlake while you're at it.)
II. Those Driftwood Singers know me all too well: A recent post about lost-’90s janglepoppers The Reverbs (one of whom went on to form Velvet Crush) hooked me, and concluded:
You can almost listen to this LP as a field recording of a time when there was still an underground in America, when the disaffected could only find obscure bands through 'zines and when wearing black really meant something. I think the snapshot on the back of the album was worth the 99 cents, don't you? Something tells me The Dizzies will go ga-ga for this.
I remember buying the Velvet Crush album Teenage Symphonies to God along with three other used CDs from a small store on W. 81st Street...I don't know that I ever finished listening to it. And I never made it to the end of another album purchased on that trip, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite. (Two tickets to Boringville, please!) But I think one of the other albums was Pulp's Different Class, so it all worked out!
—From the Memoirs of Parkus Grammaticus
IV. Jenny D shares a Xanth memory, jumping off the post on Florida as Korea—I love it!
Can I say that when I was in 6th grade I was obsessed with Piers Anthony and the
Xanth books?!? I wrote him a huge long fan letter—and then went off for the summer to visit UK relatives, amazingly when I got home there was a response from him...only I had slightly grown out of fandom by that point. But one of the incredibly nerdy but enthusiastic questions I'd asked him concerned whether he had ever written a novel using limericks in any capacity, and he wrote back with one that he had been thinking about using but couldn't because he didn't have author/attribution for it. So I stayed up all night reading some anthology of limericks after some obsessive other library researching, finally found it with an "anonymous" attribution and wrote back to him with the information. he sent a postcard of thanks, and put my name in the acknowledgments section of the next
Xanth book—which I believe was Crewel Lye: a caustic yarn about an unkind untruth.
Seems strange to me now that at one time I thought those books the pinnacle of genius...
V. And I responded with my Xanth memory...
[O]ur school had a "book fair" and I bought one of the Stephen R. Donaldson tomes, probably not the first, found it befuddling, and traded it to a friend for...the latest Xanth (Dragon on a Pedestal ) + the first six in the series (I hadn't read them before; he had them at home). I think I got the better deal. Now this fellow is...covering the Huckabee beat for the NYT!
—From The Light Reader–Grammaticus Correspondence
VI. ...and discovered that Piers Anthony is still Xanthing along:
From Publishers Weekly
In this meandering 31st Xanth novel, Hugo, son of the Gorgon and Good Magician Humfrey, vanishes from his cellar, where the body of a murdered man just as suddenly appears. What's worse, Humfrey's book of answers has been scrambled, and blind Wira, Hugo's wife, has no idea how to solve a mystery. Her prayers are answered by 13-year-old Debra, visiting from Mundania in hopes of lifting the curse that makes her name sound like De-bra to any man she meets. Without the book, the curse cannot be cured, so the Gorgon temporarily turns her into a naturally bra-less flying centaur in exchange for her help. As they hunt down Hugo and the killer, Debra and Wira encounter the usual crop of terrible puns and characters both new and familiar. Acknowledging that reader loyalty keeps this venerable series going, Anthony includes an extensive afterword, providing credits for 140-odd (in some cases, very odd) suggestions and updating fans on everything from the state of his health to the length of his hair. (Oct.)
Have been watching Season 1 of The Wire, the best show ever made according to many. It's.................pretty good? So far? I'll stick with it?
I had to start in media res (Disc One had a "very long wait" on Netflix). There was one scene (two detectives trying to figure out the ballistics, repeating one unprintable word about 20 times) that was pretty great...............Q: Is it as good as episode 1 of Season 3 of Gilmore Girls?
VIII. That sound you hear is the plummeting of Dizzies site traffic.
Je t'aime..., 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
This is from Strange Maps, via Weekend Stubble—the states of the U.S. renamed after countries with equivalent GNPs. I like that Florida = Korea, two peninsulas.
In a nice coincidence: Piers Anthony's Xanth books have a map showing that fictional realm to have the shape of Florida...and I think there is at least one book in which Korea is substituted...Ah!! Wikipedia says:
In some instances, Xanth has been compared to other peninsulas. It has been described as similar to the Korean Peninsula with the Gap Chasm being used as a metaphor for the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and the location of Castle Roogna being similar to the location of Seoul, South Korea.
I. Could this really be Dmitri Nabokov's blog?! (Via Bookslut.)
II. A couple friends have sent me Ron Rosenbaum's piece in Slate on VN's unfinished The Original of Laura. Is RR becoming a shade...Kinbotean?
III. Cold where you are? Dig these quotes from Melville's White-Jacket, at Erasing: “In such weather any man could have undergone amputation with great ease, and helped take up the arteries himself.”
IV. "White-Jacket" would be a good name for a winter parka!
V. New New-York Ghost crept out yesterday! Make sure you write to Dr. Ring-a-Ding, the Ghost's new advice columnist. You won't be sorry. He knows all.
VI. Selfdivider posts some filthy baseball talk...circa 1890!
VII. I put up an author page at GoodReads! Good/bad idea? We shall see—
VIII. Dizzies trivia the other day: What novel has, like Talladega Nights, a Room 208? "bhadd" correctly responded TWUBC, i.e., Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. We move into the bonus round: I think he's alluding to a Room 208 in an earlier novel. Hint: American, ’60s, longish title.
My review of Joe McGinniss Jr.'s The Delivery Man is up at the NYT site. Ouroboros fans: Check out the ending!
Buffalonian bonus: I just noticed that the other "EP" from my h.s. class, Eyal Press, also has a review this week!
Image from Flickr, via Erasing
Friday, January 18, 2008
Of comic disappointment and tragic poets
I. In PW, New-York Ghost contributor Sloane Crosley describes how an e-mail (to yours truly!) led to a literary career in comic disappointment!
II. I'm going to post more on this Monday, but if you're looking for a great read this weekend, check out Ben Ehrenreich's epic piece on Frank Stanford...months in the making...I'm really happy with how it turned out.
In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is reduced to delivering pizza after a traumatic racetrack incident. One day he brings a pie to a rundown motel. The room number: 208.
Q: Which novel features a "Room 208"?
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Squeezing out sparks—and rice!
Why "Personal Days" will be the best book ever
How much more black could this be?
And the answer is none. None more black.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Digression on air
A career, a Korea—
Who is Scrabbel? This winsome stop-motion video for their song "Emily, I"
led to this one, for "1909"—about the assassination of Japanese foreign minister Ito Hirobumi by Ahn Jung-geun.
Korean history as fodder for pop?! (The footage comes from the film 2009: Lost Memories.)
(My favorite song of theirs so far might be this one, "Chicago New York.")
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
That's me in the corner
Run run run
Links-meister Thomas wonders:
Eileen Myles ran for President, Norman Mailer for Mayor. I want to say that
there are several other artists/writers who have carried conceptual
campaigns of their own, but at the moment none are coming to mind.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Dizzies Newsfeeds for January 14–15
I. The Stubblemeister on an ancient stereo system! Proust had one!
II. Dizzyhead Jessica on a "supernatural picaresque"! Wow!
III. Team Dizzies recruit Devin on Edmund Wilson! Hello to all that!
IV. The unstoppable Levi: Donald E. Westlake—Anthony Powell fan?!
V. Dizzyhead Ben's top reads of '07...including a little curtain raiser for his Frank Stanford article (appearing soon)...yowsa!
VI. The Crude Futurist on a random wild booksore find: FUP, by Jim Dodge. Keeleresque? Sure, why not...anything to get more people "hooked on HSK"!
Annals of law
I. This judge must have been reading the New-York Ghost:
Mr. Simpson had been instructed by a justice of the peace not to have contact with anyone involved in the case — not even by “carrier pigeon.” —AP
Mr. Snipes...has become an unlikely public face for the antitax movement, whose members maintain that Americans are not obligated to pay income taxes and that the government extracts taxes from its citizens illegally....
Tax deniers maintain that the law only appears to require payment of taxes. All their theories have been rejected by the courts, including the one invoked by Mr. Snipes, which is known as the 861 position, after a section of the federal tax code....
Adherents say a regulation applying the 861 provision does not list wages as taxable, though it does say that “compensation for services” is taxable. The courts have uniformly rejected all such theories, and eight people have been sentenced to prison after not paying taxes based on the 861 argument. —NYT
Sunday, January 13, 2008
According to Chessdom.com, a site edited by Anton Mihailov, three Latvians said they were suspicious of [20-year-old master Anna] Rudolf’s results, and by the way she was wandering in and out of the hall. While that is not an unusual practice, the Latvians felt that she was receiving transmissions to her lip balm tube from somebody with a computer. —NYT
Labels: Ed reads the paper
I. Via Three Percent: Books as art? Artists' books? Wait till I put my eyeballs back in my head.
II. OK people, this is what blogging's all about—part II! All journalists worth their salt—salts?!—know how to slap together a hot lead...or as I spell it, lede!...but what about a great closing line? The Light Reader and I went back and forth on this last week...Today's Times magazine has a great one by Virginia Heffernan! She uses exclamation points a lot!
III. Ask and ye shall receive! The Dizzies Music Supplement wondered what bands have written songs with their names as titles...and Dizzyheads chimed in. Douglas and Scott each had a triple play of sorts, the former with Talk Talk's "Talk Talk" on their platter Talk Talk (sing it with me: "All you do is talk talk...talk talk, talk talk...all you do is talk talk!"), and the latter with three variants of "Body Count" on Body Count's Body Count.
IV. Ask and ye shall receive, part II: I mentioned how a Sarah Johns song reminded me of New-York Ghost theme-composer John's early work...and he has kindly re-recorded one of the songs I was reminded of, "Every One of My Tears." (Check it out on Team Knucklehead's MySpace page.) It's fierce! And the bridge is as loopy and grand as I remembered:
Take all the tears I cried
Add them up and then divide
By all the times you lied
And you'd still have less than one...
Is this what the kids call "math rock"?
V. Via Jane:
They were two of the distinctive American voices, born 97 miles apart as the catbird flies. Red Barber and Mel Allen spoke the language of baseball in Southern cadences to Northern ears. ... “Well, I’ll be a suck-egg mule,” Barber blurted when Cookie Lavagetto broke up Bill Bevens’s no-hitter and won a 1947 World Series game with two outs in the ninth. —NYT
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I. What is the oldest continuously occupied village in the U.S.?
II. From Design Observer:
In the late 1950s, [Ernst] Bettler was asked to design a series of posters to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfäfferli+Huber....He created four posters featuring dramatic, angular black and white portraits juxtaposed with sans serif typography. Alone, each poster was an elegant example of international style design. Together, however, a different message emerged, for it turned out the abstract compositions in the posters contained hidden letters....Hung side by side on the streets, they spelled out N-A-Z-I. A public outcry followed, and within six weeks the company was ruined.
(But it gets weirder...)
III. From Dizzyhead Ed—your Weekend Ouroboros! (It's "the clan tag of a comic-booklegger.")
Friday, January 11, 2008
The smoke from Krazy Kat's chimney.
Just discovered: Dash Shaw's BodyWorld.
"They have a team of interns who screen blogs for information regarding possible previously undiscovered or untested plant life."
The most heartbreaking Pinakothek yet.
IV. Another day, another (almost) Ouroboros?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Up in the old hotel
The New Yorker has a nice piece this week on Tesla, the New Yorker Hotel, and Samantha Hunt's forthcoming novel, The Invention of Everything Else.
But Ghost readers read about Hunt's obsession with the Tesla/New Yorker Hotel connection way back in issue #4 (Oct. 2006)—a first-hand account of the mysteries underneath the building...by Samantha Hunt herself!
Isn't it time you subscribed to the Ghost? Visit the site for more information.
You know the routine, Dizzyheads—another day, ANOTHER OUROBOROS!
Erasing—the ur-source of Ouroboric phenomena—speculates on the possible ouroboric nature of the Alien vs. Predator movies—a film/comics/film rondelay that boosts "vaguely ouroboric" posters to boot.
Scott also links to some terrific Flickr-found ourobori, which perhaps I'll start peppering into the mix over the coming week. For now, here's a YouTube short on the creation of the KITTEN OUROBOROS:
The Believer hits the big five-oh!
Yes! After nearly half a decade...the 50th issue of The Believer is on the stands! The stunning Charles Burns cover depicts...Charles Burns! Read Hillary Chute's epic interview with C.B., then we'll discuss...also check out (Psychic Envelopes chanteuse) Sarah Manguso's interview with Lydia Davis (which leads Dizzyhead Scott to this reverie)...Leland de la Durantaye on the strange career of art historian Aby Warburg...Eileen Myles on a lost notebook...excellent interview with Linda Thompson...Avi Davis on the Archimedes Palimpsest...Ginger Strand on Niagara Falls...and much more!
Dizzies Press Release: 'Transitional Objects' and 'Regarding Jeff's People'
Dizzyheads Ed and Thomas will be smarting things up beginning today:
ART IN GENERAL'S 10th ANNUAL VIDEO MARATHON
January 10-12, 2008
Sixth Floor Galleries
Art in General
79 Walker Street
New York NY 10013
tel. 212 219 0473
Thursday January 10, 6.30-8.00pm
Regarding Jeff's People, lecture by Ed Halter
This lecture by writer and curator Ed Halter takes its starting point from the work of Washington, DC-based Jeff Krulik, maker of the legendary video Heavy Metal Parking Lot. In his talk, Halter addresses the utopian hopes and mundane realities of public access television, the question of fandom and subjectivity, underground VHS bootlegging as proto-file-sharing, criticism of art and comedy, and the challenge of defining the term "artist", and in particular, "video artist".
As always, The Dizzies has the "insider scoop": Ed reveals, "I think it may be the first talk ever to quote both the writings of John Dewey and some dude who was a roadie for Redd Kross..."
ONGOING IN THE GALLERIES
Thursday January 10, 6.00- 9.00, - Friday & Saturday, January 11 & 12, 12.00- 6.00pm
Transitional Objects, curated by Thomas Beard
The screening Transitional Objects looks back on the past decade of electronic art as a way of thinking about a medium that has remained in flux—politically, aesthetically, and technologically—since its inception. Whether the subject is dime store psychics or the return of the repressed, new loves or old regimes, all works raise the question: where is video going? Artists include Bobby Abate, William E. Jones, Eileen Maxson, Jennifer Montgomery, Michael Robinson, Phil Solomon, and Jennet Thomas.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Worm is Bond
Statistical analysis has shown that most visitors to The Dizzies come seeking one thing and one thing only: Ouroboros news!
Dizzyhead Bill writes:
In Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die, James Bond's nemesis ("Mr. Big"!) operates through a business called "Ourobouros Worm and Bait Shippers, Inc."Bond "found the poison fish which were one of his objectives. When he had read about them in the files of the Police Headquarters in New York, he had made a mental note that he would like to know more about this sideline of the peculiar business of Ourobouros Inc."
Dizzies Music Supplement
Dizzies Team Member Hua—whose cell-block tag is 'The Professor'—has two rare versions of a Fab Four ditty about eternal fruit patches up at his blog...
Toward a partial list of groups who've written songs with the same title as their name (as a songwriter, do you feel pressure to make this your best song, your defining statement?):
Bad Company, "Bad Company"
They Might Be Giants, "They Might Be Giants"
Hallelujah the Hills, "Hallelujah the Hills" (This band is great!)
UPDATE: Friend Edward Crouse's band Logjam's "Logjam"
Slight variation: Doktor X, "The Sickening Sound of Doktor X"
The Beatles, "The Ballad of John and Yoko"
Any other ones you can think of?
The intricate lyrics of Sarah Johns—check out "The One in the Middle," at first you think, this is corny, but then the lyric keeps going...I also get a kick out of "He Hates Me," this sentiment should appear more frequently in songs, no? (This is inside baseball, but for some reason these songs remind me of old tracks recorded by the man currently known as Team Knucklehead, a/k/a composer of "The Theme to 'The New-York Ghost.' ")
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
This is what blogging's all about, people!
I posted this thing on drunk insects (from the Science Times) and then Jenny picked up on it and posted something about another NYT story (a rather disturbing one involving a severed cow's head), singling out its last line...and now here I am posting about another sordid tale first reported in the Times—which also had kind of a brilliant, novelistic final sentence!
I think I'm developing a weird new blogging voice POST-DUNCAN!
The armyworms, which are used to test the resistance of corn plants to pests, drink beer — Milwaukee’s Best — as their aphrodisiac of choice. It is chilled and poured into dishes on the bottom of their cages.
“When they drink beer, boy, do they mate and lay eggs,” Dr. Davis said. “And they don’t like light beer.”
—Guy Gugliotta, "To Raise Armyworms and Corn Borers, Study Insect Husbandry," NYT
Dizzies Press Release: The Book of Other People
A BENEFIT READING
826NYC & Penguin Books present an all-star reading from Zadie Smith’s
newest book of new stories by contemporary authors
CELEBRATED AUTHORS COME TOGETHER FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT OF
LITERATURE TO RAISE MONEY FOR 826NYC, A CHILDREN’S WRITING CENTER IN
Hosted by ZADIE SMITH, and with readings by:
and very special guest
Wednesday, January 16th, 8pm
2537 Broadway (at 95th Street), New York
Tickets available at symphonyspace.org
Or by calling: 212-864-5400
Brooklyn, NY January 7, 2008—826NYC and Penguin Books present a
benefit reading to celebrate the release of The Book of Other People,
a collection of brand new stories by contemporary authors edited by
Zadie Smith. ZADIE SMITH will host this special event, which will
feature readings by two of the book’s contributors, GEORGE SAUNDERS,
and VENDELA VIDA, plus a rare reading by actress MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL.
There will be a book signing and Q & A after the reading.
All proceeds from the book and reading will benefit 826NYC, a
nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18
with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping
teachers inspire their students to write.
Monday, January 07, 2008
“We can’t compete on price with the Chinese mills using generic cotton—and we don’t want to,” says Ed Park, the U.S. agent for Taipei-based Tai Yuen Textile. “But there are still plenty of price-conscious ways to position a luxury product.” —?
I. At the NBCC blog a dizzying interview with poet (and Sebald fan) Robyn Schiff:
Can you speak a bit about the genesis of Revolver and how you conceptualized this book? There are many levels of inventions engaged here: the patented products, such as the sewing machine and the revolver, mainstays now slowly becoming archaic; merchandise such as furniture and silverware that’s inextricably bound to its legendary manufacturers (Taylor & Sons, J.A. Henckels); and then there are those fashion industry icons (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein) whose commodities are popularized by more contemporary mythologies of beauty and desire. Each presents a history that spins outward into other compelling human stories. How did you begin to gather all of these different objects and how did you evaluate whether or not they would be compatible in this community of poems?
The question of compatibility is a great way for me to think about my curatorial instinct in Revolver. Initially I set out to write about objects that were on display at the Great Exhibition of 1851— a sort of Victorian world’s fair—and I thought the book would be encyclopedic and touch on absolutely everything in the 1851 illustrated catalogue. The objects on display at the Great Exhibition were not chosen for their compatibility, but rather, the only thing they supposedly had in common with one another was their level of innovation and artfulness. It was an industrial fair, after all, and it was meant to show human progress and in particular British domination. But with just the tiniest bit of scratching at the surface of any of these weird objects, they began to display all sorts of unintended affinities: unfathomable violence, fierce issues of control, a nearly fetishistic interest in portability and adaptability that seemed to be in conversation with colonialism and Western expansion. As I started to discover this, I also began arbitrarily researching items related to 1951. It was no surprise that the vapor trails these newer objects left were as bellicose as the others; they weren’t vapor trails, they were warpaths. That made me a little dizzy. And I started to question my own encyclopedic urge, which was coming to feel really overwhelming, really wrongheaded. In the end, I evaluated what could be in the book based on the physical sensation I had in my body when I started doing the research. I remember, for instance, watching old Calvin Klein commercials on YouTube, and in one a young Brooke Shields is whistling “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” The vertigo of associations I felt fluttering within me, and the sheer empathy I felt with my whole body toward the material made me write the Klein poem; if I don’t have a physical sensation like that I don’t attempt a poem. As a result, I don’t write very often.
II. In The Guardian, Ali Smith considers Sylvia Townsend Warner. Best line:
“She had the spiritual digestion of a goat”, according to John Updike
III. At the Poetry Foundation, Ian Daly on Jeffrey Miller:
The big event in Monte Rio back in the ’70s was the mail. In the morning, Codrescu and Nolan would wander down to the concrete post office to retrieve it and then head over to a greasy spoon called the Knotty Room to go through their letters. One day an envelope of poems showed up in Nolan’s mailbox from someone named Jeffrey Miller, who’d written at the behest of one of his college professors back in Michigan. They’d never seen anything quite like them.
“His poems captured the kind of rock ’n’ roll fervor that infected everything in those days,” Nolan said. “Incredibly hip, witty, sardonic, surreal, and seized with savage energy.” They wrote Jeffrey back with an invitation to come to Monte Rio anytime.
The two are still in disagreement about the exact day the newest, youngest member of the Russian River scene showed up on their doorstep—“a flinty-eyed poet with spiky blond hair and a wicked smirk,” as Nolan remembers it. But they agree on one thing: there was something special about the 23-year-old Jeffrey who rolled into town alone in the summer of ’75—steeped in Iggy Pop and Ted Berrigan—with a few boxes of belongings, a couple packs of Marlboro reds, and, as Codrescu describes it, “this crazy idea we all had at the time that you could still make a living as a poet.” Before long he was part of the Knotty Room roundtable, bullshitting between drags about the nature of truth and beauty and, probably just as often, the relative merits of various rock bands and the acquisition of illicit substances. He and Codrescu were instant friends, taking long walks and lingering at the local dive bars, where they’d do their best to parlay their poetic condition into rounds of free drinks. My aunt showed up later that year.
IV. And in the pages of the Believer, Travis Nichols reviews the (amazingly titled) Jack Spicer collection, My Vocabulary Did This to Me, and Stephen Burt looks at Jordan Scott's Blert. Here's Geoffrey O'Brien's take on Spicer, at TPF:
But there was much more writing still to emerge—other poems, manifestos, handbills, questionnaires, letters, novels, plays, and the elusive “Vancouver lectures”—which, even in incomplete form, had established themselves as an indispensable text for young poets. (The idea that writing poetry was a matter of taking dictation from unseen Martians seemed to make a good deal more sense than the theories of Allen Tate or Cleanth Brooks.)
V. Someone should write a novel or produce a sitcom in which Philip K. Dick, Jack Spicer, and Robert Duncan are roommates. (TRIVIA: What cult novel—not by PKD—is dedicated to Spicer?) From my L.A. Times review of PKD's Voices From the Street:
But mainstream acceptance was Dick's first novelistic ambition, one that took years to dispel. An early fan of “scientifiction” stories, Dick also read widely outside the genre. In 1940s Berkeley, beginning at age 19, he roomed in a converted warehouse occasionally occupied by literary figures like poets Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, with whom he struck up friendships. During this time, according to biographer Lawrence Sutin, he was inspired to steep himself in the classics (“I gained a working knowledge of literature from the Anabasis to Ulysses,” Dick wrote in a 1968 “Self-Portrait”), with special attention to modernists like Ezra Pound and John Dos Passos. Sutin notes that from 1951 to 1958, Dick wrote dozens of science-fiction stories and six science-fiction novels, all of which were published, and seven mainstream novels, none of which found a publisher in his lifetime.
Wodwo Wodehouse do?
In 1967, Ted Hughes's third book, "Wodwo"—raw, spooky, elemental - sent me scurrying to find out the meaning of this strange Middle English word. The figure of "wodwo," which Hughes elsewhere characterized as a sort of "half-man, half-animal spirit of the forests," seemed to have loomed up out of the unconscious of English poetry. The book's epigraph came from a ferocious passage in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," and soon I was parsing the somewhat resistant Middle English text and bounding through J. R. R. Tolkien's faithful translation. I was transfixed. I had stumbled upon the underground alliterative tradition of English poetry.
—Edward Hirsch on a new "Gawain" translation, International Herald Tribune
[T]he name Wodehouse...has a secondary, comic derivation, 'out of one's mind, insane, lunatic'. This sense appears punningly in A Midsummer Night's Dream and is echoed in the Old English term woodwose (or wude-wusa), for which the Oxford English Dictionary gives 'a wild man of the woods, a satyr, a faun'.
—Robert McCrum, Wodehouse
Dizzyhead Rachel is in the running for lede of the week:
"Sixteen students sat around a table in the Manhattan cafeteria of the New School discussing where commas should go." (NYT, Education Life, "One Generation Got Old, One Generation Got Soul")
Nice! And this deadpan reporting is pure Aviv:
One student thought the phrase “we accept all persons” should be broadened to cover animals. Another worried that the word “delineation” was alienating because “it means drawing lines, and don’t we object to lines?” The only sentence everyone seemed to support wholeheartedly was the final one: “Power to the People!”
Labels: Rachel Aviv
Sunday, January 06, 2008
There is no movie out...
I like it!
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Right Said Ed
Ed Park's Return of the Reluctant
Catching up! Thanks for all the kind words and e-mails and shout-outs attendant to the arrival of DUNCAN.........
I'm going to try to ease my way in.......Hats off to Team Dizzies (including newest hire Devin McKinney—a/k/a THE HAWK) for their excellent posts, please please keep posting.......
For now—a little summary of recent "action"!
1. Over at Mr. David Cairns's Shadowplay, which has been on a roll from day one, my moment of cinema euphoria gets its day in the sun. (Until rewatching the clip, I'd forgotten that Alec Baldwin narrated The Royal Tenenbaums—nice!) "These Days" inadvertently became D.'s lullaby this morning....a bit melancholy but very pretty—
2. I'm perpetually finding and losing an article about the Oulipo that I wrote back in 1999; last night, looking for something else, I found it again, and I figured I'd better type it out on the computer just to have a record. This is early EP, so be kind! There are a few bum notes, and some sentences strain under the weight of LEARNEDNESS, but there are also some nifty things that I'd forgotten and a brief look at Harry Mathews's Cigarettes. (You can find the article at The Unarchivable, along with two other rarities, one from New York, one from Modern Painters.)
3. Jump back in time with me: In this month's Astral Weeks column (out for a while now), I read (and re-read) Joe Haldeman, with a little shout-out to Duncan!
4. Novel news: The cover for Personal Days can be seen on its Amazon page—and also right here!
I must say that I love it! (I'll post the U.K. cover as soon as it goes up—different concept, but very cool indeed!)
I'll also be posting, occasionally, to a Personal Days blog — some news about the novel, but mostly (I hope) links to interesting work-related articles and fun time-wasters.
5. This deserves a post of its own—the 50th Believer is out! I can't "believer" it! I'm an old man! It's a suitably great issue.....More on it later.....you can catch a glimpse here for now.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Ice Bowl II
The best part about the Winter Classic was that the Sabres wore the classic blue-and-gold logo on a white jersey with a lace-up neck. The Penguins sported a powder blue jersey they haven't worn in over two decades. Also, instead of the NFL team flags, the flags of all the NHL teams flapped atop the stadium--a nice touch.
Labels: Ice Bowl
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
The Ice Bowl
As hockey fans know, the NHL Winter Classic game took place on January 1, 2008, between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It took roughly a week for the ice surface preparation on the football field, thus transforming The Ralph (Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills) into a hockey arena for over 71,000 spectators. The event marked the largest regular season NHL game ever attended and the first outdoor NHL game played in the U.S. (the first outdoor NHL game took place in 2003 in Edmonton). Though the NHL used the trademark term "Winter Classic" for this game, which was a regularly scheduled game that would have taken place in the Sabres' HSBC Arena, most local folk began to refer to the event as the Ice Bowl.
Of course, there were various drawbacks to the event: the unabashed commercialism (snow had been carted in prior to the actual snowfall to insure a winter wonderland setting for the television viewers--not particularly effective for the fans in the stadium as one can tell from the photo), the fact that the Sabres lost, the continuous snow flurries largely preventing a smooth ice surface (neither team seemed to sustain any momentum due to multiple play stoppages for ice repair). Still, the whole experience was pretty amazing. Seeing a steady snowfall from my window when I awoke, I nearly stayed in bed instead of joining my friends aboard the rented yellow school bus to begin the tailgating festivities at The Ralph by 10 A.M., a full three-hours before the game was to begin. Of the thirty or so people aboard the bus, only three did not have tickets, including me. Back when tickets first went on sale, the NHL claimed a total sell-out in less than thirty minutes. Then, a couple of months ago, hundreds of previously unavailable "obstructed view" seats (lower rows that were at ice level, making it hard to see more than the players' torsos) went on sale for $10, with the restriction that only families with young children could purchase them. Or something weird like that. Inexplicably, more obstructed seats were made available in the days before the game and were quickly snatched up. I was grateful to find on the bus someone who had purchased these tickets the day prior; for only $18, I was able to enter the stadium and sit in the first row (only to watch the action on the Jumbotron). Actually, there was no sitting; almost every fan stayed on his/her feet throughout the entire game, overtime, and shootout. It's not clear if they stayed upright because of sheer excitement or because the seats were wet with snow and they forgot to bring a cushion to sit on, like me. Probably both. When Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh's 20-year old star, took to the ice, we promptly booed his presence. By the time he scored the winning goal in the shootout, over three hours later, it hardly mattered that the Sabres had lost. Sure, it would have been perfect if the Sabres had won, but the whole day had been exhilarating regardless, and the tied game that led to overtime and finally a shootout simply added to the thrill of being there. I agree with those who argue that outdoor NHL games should not become an annual occurence; however, at least for this year, it provided thousands of hockey fans the only good reason to wake up before noon on New Year's Day.