Friday, February 29, 2008

Table-talk for Leap Day

I. Here's another clue for you all: Lost fans googling "Jinn time travel" will return, at the top slot, Dizzyhead Dennis's epic time travel piece for the PTSNBNES.

II. In the NYRB: Nicholson Baker on "The Charms of Wikipedia"! Fun fact: His user name is Wageless. (Via Other Ed)

III. Dizzyhead Ta-Nehisi on "How We on the Dark Side Will Remember Buckley."

IV. In the latest A Public Space: Samantha Hunt!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Right garde

There's a new New-York Ghost; is it avant-garde yet?


Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 28

I. The inimitable David Cairns has a fever dream double feature for you (those four words go together so well, no?).

II. What items are beyond repair?

III. Spinster Aunt likes The Other Boleyn Girl.

IV. At the Personal Days blog, news of an office-related print for sale (via Jen).

V. At the PF site, Dizzyhead Alex (FC: Is he a "Dizzyhead"?) writes about Hillary Clinton's relationship to poetry:
After recounting the wrongs done to Clinton and enumerating some of her considerable qualities and credentials (she has “been there and done that”), Angelou solemnly declares, “She means to rise.” Then, she offers an unlikely exhortation, considering the subject of her praise:
Rise, Hillary.


VI. Is this site pro-Obama? Anti-? Neither?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ouroboros: Juvenilia

"Her finger, trailing across the wall, gathered a heap of dust that fell, with a dreamy slowness, to the floor. She found herself looking at a scrap of the underlying wallpaper, most of which had been painted over in a graying white. The paper was patterned with the hotel’s emblem: embedded letters, an A within an O, the latter composed of three bolts of lightning, the former a serpent that looped to bite its own tail." —E. Park, "The Oblivion Arms" (ca. 1999)

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"Novels for Television"

Something for Paul or Ed?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On the Shelf III

Dizzyheads Jen and Hua brought this to my attention. How many books can you identify?

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Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 26

Journals (gratefully) received:

Canarium One
Pick hit: Alan Gilbert, "Nervous Conditions"

The Hat #7
Pick hit: Aaron Belz, "Mud Homes"

Murdaland #2
Pick hit: Anonymous, "Chuck and Bob: A Letter From Kuwait"

Sic Two
Pick hits: Linh Dinh, "Selected Translations"

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If I had a TV...

tonight I'd watch the North Korean debut of the New York Philharmonic.

Or else:

9 P.M. (CW) One Tree Hill: The women are locked in a library


Monday, February 25, 2008

Dizzies Music Supplement — February edition

Dizzyhead musical challenge from Levi:

Listening just now to the Magnetic Fields's "I Think I Need a New Heart," I realized that it's one of that small class of songs that includes a reference to a (possibly different?) song by that same name that's playing during the song:

As you put down your keys
and say, "Don't call me, please,"
While the radio plays "I Think I Need a New Heart."

The others I know of are "Bonaparte's Retreat"

So I held her in my arms
And told her of her many charms;
Kissed her while the guitars played
"Bonaparte's Retreat."
and "Tennessee Waltz"
I was waltzing with my darling
To "The Tennessee Waltz"
When an old friend I happened to see.
I introduced him to my darling
And while they were dancing
My friend stole my sweetheart from me.
—both written by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart. Are there others that you know of?

(Write to: or leave a comment. The one that springs to my mind is "Write a song about your dream of horses/Call it 'Judy and the Dream of Horses," from B&S's "Judy and the Dream of Horses")

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Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 25

I. ARG: With the passing of Robbe-Grillet, it's time to re-read Dizzyhead Bill's review of AR-G's Repetition, from the PTSNBN:

Repetition is the high concept that made Robbe-Grillet's reputation. In his first novel, The Erasers (1953), he devoted many paragraphs to a pointlessly repetitious description of the configuration of seeds in a slice of tomato. The equally redundant description of the rows of banana trees in 1957's Jealousy was such an outrage to conservative critics that it was read for laughs on French radio. These notorious passages have given Robbe-Grillet a reputation as a difficult author; in America, he is more known of than read. The actual effect of the repetitious passages is playfully hypnotic, roughly the way that Morton Feldman's music is. Long before the Internet, Robbe-Grillet recognized that we all live in a world of senseless and irrelevant information, one lacking grand narratives.

II. And speaking of bananas...

III. Realized this weekend that the books in my reading queue form a spinal narrative!
The Explosionist (J. Davidson)
The Flash Press (eds. Cohen, Gilfoyle, Horowitz)
Human Smoke (N. Baker)

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Hoop dreams

From Dizzyhead Regina's "absolute favorite strange internet puzzle experience": "[T]here is a terrible risk of two — or more — ouroboruses becoming inextricably linked, should one accidentally bite its own tail whilst passed through the closed hoop of another."


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons weekend

I. People review modules on Amazon
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun!, November 9, 2004
By Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords is an AD&D (1st edition) adventure module for six to nine characters of level four to seven. This module picks up immediately after A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade, when the player characters (PCs) have arrived at the next link in the slavers' chain. Their tracing of the slavers has brought them through untold dangers, and this module continues that. Following the maps that they obtained brings the PCs to a hidden city, the city of the Slave Lords. But, attacking their stronghold directly would be suicide. What can the PCs do?

This module is the third in a series of four. These modules are generally considered four of the finest modules to come out of AD&D 1st edition, and no one should skip past them. This module also has a great story, great villains, and great tricks and traps, but what sets this module apart is that the players must move about a city, attracting no attention and finding a way to get to the Slave Lords. It's really quite a lot of fun! By the way, this module has one new monster, the Storoper.

So, if you are running an AD&D campaign, and want to treat your players to one of the best adventures every written, then get this module!

II. The Brooklyn Eagle interviews Dizzyhead LaFarge: "I work at the Manhattan library doing research, which is right near the store where I used to buy my Dungeons & Dragons stuff..."


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Partial magic in the garden

My latest Astral Weeks column, a look at Catherynne M. Valente's In the Cities of Coin and Spice and Tin House's "Fantastic Women" issue, is up at the L.A. Times. This one has all your, I mean my, faves: Borges, Keeler, Cloud Atlas, Samantha Hunt, and so on!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Movie's Start

Just in time for the Oscars, The New-York Ghost's film issue is out, and I can say that it's great and not sound totally immodest because—well, I didn't edit it!

It's the handiwork of B. Kite, and he got some wonderful stuff from writers who are generally not asked to write "year end" film survey things—including Luc Sante, Victoria Nelson, Toni Schlesinger, and Mr. Shadowplay himself, David Cairns.

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Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 22

I. Serial reading: "When I was in middle school, I went through a period where I read little but Agatha Christie novels. (For those of you keeping score at home, that period followed the one wherein I read little but Doc Savage novels and preceded the one wherein I read little but Star Trek novels.)" —I've Been Reading Lately

II. Are my pieces disappearing from the PTSNBN archives? I wanted to find some fact about Henry Darger, which I knew was somewhere in the long piece I did for the PTSNBN Education Supplement...but the article wasn't there anymore! I had to search via Google and then get the cached version. Pretty depressing.

Anyway, I've added the Darger piece to The Unarchivable. And then I remembered that a similar thing happened to my (much more recent) review in the LATBR of William Gibson's Spook Country, so I added that piece to the site as well....I couldn't even find a cached version, so the one I put up might differ from the final edited version. (Similarly, my LATBR review of a Peter Kuper book is nowhere to be found...)

Note for my memoirs: Just because it's online doesn't mean you shouldn't save a copy for yourself! Everything is going to disappear someday!

III. At Vertigo, a Sebald interview (in two installments): "[A]ll kinds of things can be a novel."

IV. The movie Ratatouille contains the word rejectamenta.

Over at The Fanzine, there's an excerpt from a novel by Andrew Lewis Conn, author of P.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

"The hidden is more interesting": Three case studies


[...]The paragraph quoted above is followed directly by a breathtaking instant of self-exposure: “For me,” Marsh writes, “to see this sour Dave Dexter Jr. is to remember the face of my father.”

My marginal note at that point: Marsh comes clean? Could this explain the gouts of contempt he sprays at Dexter’s ghost, the extremity of which have by this late point rendered the book irretrievably unpleasant? Marsh has written elsewhere — in this and other books — about his father, a Rust Belt racist (“angry,” “square,” “rednecked”) who hated rock ‘n’ roll, belittled his son for loving it, and withal was a working-class exemplar of “jaundiced snobbery and proud ignorance.” Now, father-hatred could be a compelling psychological explanation for the anti-Dexter excess. But no. Marsh lets fall the clear implication, refusing to follow up the psychic connection he has himself made and to which the reader is inevitably drawn — if only because its suggestion of the hidden is more interesting than what Marsh has made visible. —Devin McKinney on Dave Marsh, Hey Dullblog

Reich’s preference for the exaggerated, at least in part, led him down the orgonomic path of starry-eyed prophetic cloud-busting. Reich’s story can thus be read as kind of allegory about psychoanalytic thought itself. Reich took up the least appealing parts of Freud and pursued them to their most absurd ends. Our inclination to ridicule Reich every few years becomes a way of conducting proxy skirmishes in the perpetual debate about Freud’s legacy and relevance. When we exaggerate the discontinuity in Reich’s life, casting him in dual mythical roles as Freud’s most promising student and Freud’s most berserk deserter, we seem to be staking out our own ambivalence to Freud’s discomfiting ideas. We incarnate in one person what seems most preposterous about psychoanalysis, and then we place that person at once as close to and as far away from Freud as we can. —Gideon Lewis-Kraus on Wilhelm Reich, Nextbook

I think something curious and heretofore unacknowledged has been taking place, an unconscious disavowal on the part of some viewers and critics—a phenomenon that could make for a chapter in The Discovery of the Art of the Insane. Through misquoting, mishearing, and misreading, people have turned this careful scholar into a veritable Kinbote, a moral scapegoat to whom can be assigned all the darkest theories—as if he were the one who had applied the delicate wash of watercolor blood at the base of a severed head, or imagined the force-feeding of body parts to children. What do we want from John MacGregor? Perhaps this: to saddle him with all our deepest anxieties about the possible actions of Henry Darger, so that the madman-scholar can be rejected with a show of presumptuous indignation. It is the secret expiation required to enjoy Darger without tears. —EP on Henry Darger and John MacGregor, PTSNBNES

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"I can't think of it anymore"

It's been a while since this song last popped into my head...

—Streetband, "Toast"


Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 20

I. Daily Ouroboros: The most mind-blowing one yet?

(It's from Jason Kottke via Scott.)

II. The Sloaner on NPR (on The Secret Garden): "Whatever the opposite of seasonal affective disorder is, I have it."

III. Jumping mice...Badgership Down...

IV. The Aussie radio show I linked to a little while ago (featuring VN biographer Brian Boyd, Pale Fire fan Ron Rosenbaum, and the Nabokovically named Leland de la Durantaye) is well worth listening to—the host drops a bombshell toward the end!

V. Wandering the abode last night, looking for a window that might offer a view of the eclipse, I suddenly was under the impression that I understood the theme from Arthur: "If you get caught between the moon and New York City"—he's talking about an eclipse! But now in the harsh light of morning I'm not sure what I was thinking.

VI. And finally: In the latest Poem as Comic Strip, R. Kikuo Johnson interprets A.E. Stallings's "Recitative."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Sea spiders the size of dinner plates"

Gigantism in the Antarctic.

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 19

I. Parkian rarities: I've unearthed some blurbs from yesteryear, and am wincing/chuckling at some probably unconscious (but maybe not?) repetitions.

Tortilla Soup
This Chicano cover version of
Eat Drink Man Woman is a must-see for Hector Elizondo completists and scopophilic foodies. Others will find it a revival so indifferent as to be perverse, with enough crypto-incestuous wish fulfillment to make a Freudian blush. (Park)

Disney's archaeological-quest caper begins gamely enough, but by the time the dependably multicultural crew reaches the sunken city, narrative drive has taken a back seat to the sort of spiritual gibberish that would make a Theosophist blush. At least it isn't a musical. (Park)

II. And here's a construction that mirrors that in the Tortilla Soup blurb—viz., specifying a very small part of the population as a potential audience:

Happy Accidents
Session 9
director Brad Anderson lays a low-key time-travel romance in a Manhattan of singleton simpering and significant street signs—the perfect date movie for unreconstructed Whovians and the Ouspensky-reading Marisa Tomei fans who love them. (Park)


Finally, this one's for Powellians—really just an excuse to use that quote:

The Dog Show
William Wegman, the weimaraner's Boswell, opens an exhibit that sniffs out the ways in which dogs and literature go hand in paw. Watch for networking scribblers and shutterbugs on the make: As the late cat-fancying novelist Anthony Powell remarked, ``People who prefer dogs are essentially interested in power.'' Reservations required. Wednesday at 6:30, Bobst Library, Fales Collection (3rd Floor), 70 Washington Square South, 998-2596 (Park)

IV. Bookcase spotters: John Freeman has responded!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Nabokov Monday

The Economist reports that Nina Khrushcheva (Nikita's granddaughter) has published a book on VN....(Via Maud)

And Dizzyhead Leland talks about The Original of Laura—to burn, or not to burn?—with Brian Boyd and Ron Rosenbaum...on Australian radio!

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hey, Vav, Hey!

Dizzyhead Joshua writes:

26 is the Kabbalistic equivalent of the name of God. If you play the game of "gematria," that is, the assignation of numerical worth to Hebrew letters: Aleph equals 1, Bet equals 2, etc.

The name of God is YHWH: Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey.

Yod is the tenth letter of the alphabet, its numerical value is 10.
Hey is the fifth letter, for a value of 5.
Vav is the sixth letter, for a value of 6.
Hey, again, for 5.


Abraham Abulafia, 13th century mystic, wrote much about this.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dizzies video for February 16

From Dizzyhead Brandon—Ween on the Jane Pratt Show...pretty great!


If you're thinking about reading Keeler...

Dizzyhead Paul has a bunch of good ones up on eBay!

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Weekend Table-Talk for February 16-17

I. Dizzies Team Member Devin on Dave Marsh's The Beatles' Second Album (at Hey Dullblog)—ouroboric and brilliant:

Dexter’s Capitol mutations, whatever their lack of propriety, decency, or respect for the art of the Beatles — something not even the Beatles were convinced existed at that early date — are lovable, explosive, crass, and exciting albums. Mutated or not, slick with stereophonic grease or not, they are the essence of pop as commerce and con game, gaud and gift, bang for the buck. But because Marsh so hates Dexter, he must make the case for hating Dexter’s mutations — though this is obviously counterintuitive to him, not least because here he is himself making money writing a book about how great one of those mutations is.

II. The Guardian profiles Mountain Goats' maestro John Darnielle:

Today, he is drinking warm ale and discussing his new record, Heretic Pride. It is, he explains, "a much more fun record than I've made in a long time", full of songs about Prince Far I, cheap motels, religious cults and swamp creatures. "Now, there's real kinship between your monsters and your pulp-fiction figures and your cult leaders and all these two-and-a-half dimensional creatures that you can then invest with all these things that you yourself bring to the table," he says with an exuberant thwack, then launches into a tale of Michael Myers and Sax Rohmer and HP Lovecraft and Michel Houellebecq, and of his days as a "scrawny little fella" when an ingrained iggishness prevented him from watching any slasher movies. "It is," he concludes, "a sort of cataloguing of my old obsessions."

III. Bookcase challenge II:

How many books can you ID? (That's NBCC prez John Freeman and agent Nicole Aragi.)

(From an old Bookforum piece)

IV. Dizzyhead Dennis reports from the Berlin Film Festival. (Um, not for us, oddly enough, but for the NYT.)

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Personal Days—the online experience!

Refresh, refresh: Set a tab on your browser and visit the official website for Personal Days! (This is a holding page until a fuller-fledged version appears closer to pub date.)

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I like Susan Dominus's new NYT column, Big City. In the latest installment, she talks to an aspiring 32-year-old novelist about how he bought an Upper East Side co-op for $14,000.

Dizzyhead challenge: How many books in his bookcase can you identify by the spine alone? (I can name five with certainty...I wish the photo could be blown up larger!)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Once you think about 26...'ll start seeing it everywhere. (You can thank me later.)

Levi found this in Donald E. Westlake's The Hot Rock:

"The number 26 lit over the door, and the elevator came to a stop."

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And Dizzyhead Bill writes in:

Your request for 26 significa led me to the WikiPedia page for 26. The two highlights, for me:
Scoring 26, by hitting 20, 50, and 1, is a "joke throw" in darts that "usually results in sneers or laughter from the audience."

A Rubik's Cube can always be solved in 26 moves or less.

How numinous is that?

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How to get ahead in the workplace

Here's the publisher's listing for the UK version of Personal Days, out from Jonathan Cape on "01/05/08." What? It's already out?? (That was my reaction.) No—they mean May 1, 2008...that's a few days before the U.S. pub. Interesting.

I like the cover—kind of a Gahan Wilson feel to the's very different from the "Yank" version, eh?!


Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 14

I. Now that I've gotten everyone hooked on spotting Ourobori...what about occurrences of the number "26"?! The number of letters in the alphabet...mystical...powerful...yes......

I remember being on the verge of 26 and reading that there were 26 volumes to the Warren Commission Hearings on the Kennedy assassination...

Yesterday, reading the somewhat peculiar piece on the suitcase-bearing ladies of Deal or No Deal, I learned that there were 26 of those containers.

The models themselves dismiss the notion that they are little more than eye candy.

“I would be very upset if someone said that to me,” said Lindsay Clubine, bearer of suitcase No. 26. “The girls here are involved in a lot of different charities.”

The Times loves The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island, the collaboration between cartoonist Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy (ex–Miracle Legion), now at the Vineyard...Parkus Grammaticus similarly raved about the original production three years ago at the Kitchen. Go see it! Because I'm probably not going to! Alas! Duncan! Too young! Gotta stay home!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Three-ring serpents

Erasing points us, as ever, to another Ouroboros: Check out a sample of the song of that same name by the Mars Volta.

Dizzyhead David sends us a clip of Bob Dylan (!), on his radio show, talking about famous examples of art- and breakthrough-inspiring dreams: "...And Friedrich August Kékulé, who was a remarkable figure in the history of organic chemistry—he once had a dream about a snake biting its own tail. From that dream he figured out the structure of Benzene. I would have just figured it was a sex dream or something." (E-mail me and I'll send you the clip.)

And finally, fans of the late Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series know that the covers of these books feature lemniscate form!

Coming soon: Ed shares/inflicts another of his motifs/obsessions with Dizzyheads...

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Dizzies Newsfeeds for February 13

I. Molls reflects on A Hard Day's Night over at Hey Dullblog.

II. Time for self-reflection: I tend to use "over at" a lot, when I'm linking.

III. Heart-wrenching Pinakothek; Waughdehousiana from Levi.

IV. I'm a big Light Reader, but now I'm also reading Jenny's other blog—Triaspirational! It has stuff like this, which I don't understand:

2 x 50 free on 1:05

3 x 50 choice on 1:20

2 x 50 free on 1:00

3 x 50 choice on 1:20

2 x 50 choice on :55

50 easy swim

But also a delightful use of "Hmmm...":

One reason I know I'm fretting about half-marathon pace and times is that I am (pointlessly; procrastinatorily!) thinking ahead to my first marathon in November.

Like many runners, I obsess about arbitrary times that end with zeroes!

(Hmmm, should convert everything into someone's wayward eighteenth-century or science-fictional decimal time system and shake up those expectations...)

V. Also, there's a new New-York Ghost.

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Hoi! Hoi!

In a village called Nishihara, Kazuko Hamagawa, 66, served as a priestess a decade ago. With 60 other priestesses, she helped perform at least 48 rituals a year. About 15 times a year, the priestesses spent the night together in a shrine in the forest, singing a 100-minute song in their dialect. The first 24 verses revolved around personal prayers, while the next 31 were each devoted to a particular god. —Norimitsu Onishi, "Warding Off Evil Spirits, but Not Toll of Affluence," NYT


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dinosaur Jr. — The Empire never ended — Menashe vs. Roth

Musical Dino
Musical Dino

Feb. 12, 2008 -- A massive beach-dwelling, plant-eating dinosaur in Mexico might have produced music, according to the international research team that analyzed its fossils and identified it as a new species from south of the border. —Discovery News

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Dadistan goes sci-fi.

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Over at Nextbook, Dizzyhead Rachel talks to Samuel Menashe:

About thirty years ago, I met Philip Roth. I stepped out of a gallery on Madison Avenue, and he was walking on the sidewalk so I boomed off, “There goes Philip Roth, enemy of the Jews!”

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The Dizz

Over at Hey Dullblog, which wants to be your Beatles site, Dizzies Team Member and HD guiding spirit Devin has a truly hair-raising outtake from his book, Magic Circles.

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Dizzyhead Brian sends us to Nina Katchadourian's Continuum of Cute. Be prepared to lose a half hour instantly.

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Listening to the new Mountain Goats—"Lovecraft in Brooklyn"!

I was trying to think what this reminded me of—then realized that in one of the unpublished Parkian novels, I invented a failed sitcom called Howard and Sonia. (I find this interlude in HPL's life terribly poignant—marriage to a fellow amateur writer, transplant to Brooklyn, searching for work, finding none, retreat.)

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 10-13

I. The Electronic Poetry Review has put out its eighth and final issue—where you can read Dizzyhead Joshua Clover's "Century," which he has dedicated to us, and which we have just deemed the best poem of 2008 on the basis of this powerful penultimate line:

"I loved the palindrome and the ourobouros and the subway system turning back on itself."

II. Any Amharic speakers out there? Yet another Awesome Tape from Africa...

III. PTSNBN alumni notes: The Dust Dive (featuring ex-PTSNBNers Ken and Bryan) get interviewed; meanwhile, at the place itself, you can get monitored remotely!

IV. Great story in the NYT's Automobiles section: "New York to Paris the Hard Way, 100 Years Ago," by Jerry Garrett:

On July 30, the battered Thomas Flyer bearing Schuster; another mechanic, George Miller; and MacAdam, the Times reporter, reached Paris — and a gendarme would not let them proceed without a working headlight. A passer-by volunteered his bicycle’s light for the duty; the bike was lifted into the car, which arrived at the finish at 6 p.m.

V. I also liked the final installment of D. Clowes's "Mr. Wonderful" and Virginia Heffernan's piece on drunk-people videos:

The crowning achievement of YouTube, which showed nine billion videos in a single month last year, may be that it has flouted what was once considered the immutable law of the Internet: All images online eventually turn to pornography. In a minor miracle, YouTube rendered this law obsolete. Thanks to ingenious programming and community-building, the video-sharing site now shows every imaginable kind of video except pornography.

VI. Cf. end of Rebecca Mead's piece on Nico Muhly:

Lassen...and Muhly huddled in a corner laying plans for their new piece, which was to consist of music composed to accompany a series of YouTube videos that had been chosen expressly for their mundanity.

“There’s a way to search for interesting things on YouTube, and then there’s a way to search for uninteresting things,” Muhly said. “You put in search terms like ‘My daughter’s yard,’ ‘My friend’s restaurant.’ ” The music was to be modelled on cantatas by Bach and anthems by Purcell, he explained. It was going to be great.

VII. Outsider music? Interesting article on Gordon Thomas in New York magazine...which led me to his website...

Some GT fans have recently contacted us asking about the chronology of the recordings available on this site. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not as easy as one might think. Some of the albums were recorded over a period of several years; Gordon has been somewhat haphazard about dating his releases; several different records are titled “Gordon” or “Gordon Thomas,” and although he has a near-photographic memory for anecdotes, philosophical tidbits and the like, he has a wide margin of error when trying to remember when things happened. (When we mentioned to him recently that fans wanted to know the original release dates of his albums, he helpfully suggested: “Well, I could always make something up!”)

VIII. Ed Keeps Reading the Paper

Saki Knafo: "Mr. Fischer had ordered a tongue sandwich and milk..."

A piece on rival Pakistani papers in Queens:

“My only skill is journalism,” he said a few days after Ms. Bhutto’s death, taking a break from drafting an editorial. “I can’t do anything else, can’t fix a car. My children always say, ‘Turn off the phone.’ But you know, it’s an addiction. To educate people on what is going on, this is my love, this is my passion, this is my romance, this is what I believe my body desires. It’s my peanut and butter.”

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An eternal golden braid

Your daily dose of genius!

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Weekend Table-Talk

I. It's not every day you pass by a palindrome, let alone two: Yesterday I walked by a new condo, Avonova...and then, later, an Argentinian restaurant, La Rural.

II. Weekend Ouroboros, from Dizzies Team Member Hua:

III. Beatles trivia was never this difficult! (Black Sabbath experts, please apply inside.)

IV. Levi uncovers more about the Family Waugh than is seemly.

V. Weekend vintage video: "Shout to the Top"!

VI. Sebald genealogy? (Via Bibliodyssey.)

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Blame Canada

These rich old codgers might destroy Buffalo. Ted Rogers, left, is the third richest man in Canada, and Ralph Wilson, right, is the 89 year old owner of the Buffalo Bills. Yesterday they held a press conference regarding the Bills' plan to play one regular season game in Toronto for the next 5 years. The Bills brass call this expanding the base of the team's fans, while the team's fans see this as a Trojan Horse that will lead the team to go to Toronto permanently. The quotes from Mr. Wilson were not encouraging: ""What am I going to say to the fans of Buffalo?" said Ralph Wilson. "I'm going to say, 'Hey, I can't speculate. I can't speculate what's going to happen in the future. But don't worry. Don't worry right now.' " Thanks Ralph! Ted Rogers, owner of the Blue Jays and almost everything else in Canada, has made it known that he wants an NFL team in Toronto. Ralph Wilson has made it known that the Bills will be sold to the highest bidder after his death - the team will not be given to his wife or inherited by his children.

There's only so much Chuck Schumer and local congressmen can do - if Rogers offers the highest bid, what legal recourse would there be? Former Bills great Jim Kelly made some sounds about having a group in place to buy the team - but could they really compete with Rogers - who also has Larry Tannenbaum, owner of the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs, in tow? Probably not.

I've already told my Torontonian wife that I would never visit her family if those dirty Northerners took my beloved, miserable Bills away from Buffalo. And as for the city - the team's departure might as well be its epitaph.

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 8

I. Over at Powell's, I give the thumbs-up to some of my favorite fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of 2007. But one of the most significant bookish things for me last year was actually going to Powell's in Portland.

II. Like Murakami, I want to buy a house on Kauai.

III. If you're a poet, try your hand at prose...

IV. At Moistworks:

It's hard to like the Kinks because of Wes Anderson. No. I said it wrong. What I mean is that these days it's hard to make sense of exactly how much I like the glory period of the early career of the Kinks, in part because the cultural overtones of those songs have become highly specific as a result of their inclusion in a number of mostly excellent Wes Anderson films. Everyone knows what I mean, right? This is just an introductory paragraph and I don't want it to get too clotted....

V. I had a nice time reading from Personal Days at the Brooklyn Public Library last night — I am very sorry for people who made the trek, only to be denied entrance! There is a nice write-up over at Galleycat.

Messrs. Shteyngart and Winkler were brilliantly funny, and David Rees/Amy Sedaris, I think, could have gone on for hours—very entertaining!

VI. Over at Paper Cuts, Dave Itzkoff on PKD's YA novel, Nick and the Glimmung. Here's the opening:
Nick knew exactly why his family intended to leave Earth and go to another planet, a colony world, and settle there. It had to do with him and his cat, Horace. Owning animals of any kind had, since the year 1992, become illegal. Horace, in fact, was illegal, whether anyone owned him or not....

(Via Educating Alice)

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 7


I'm reading tonight! From Personal Days! In Brooklyn!


Maharishi dies—Hey Dullblog takes note—and James Wolcott takes note of our note!


Habitus unearths a never-before-published Borges interview! Lots of goodies, including this bit:

Without a doubt Alonso Quijano is more complex now than when Cervantes imagined him, because Alonso Quijano has been enriched, we say, by [Miguel de] Unamuno. Without a doubt Hamlet is more complex now than when Shakespeare originated him; [Hamlet] has been enriched by Coleridge, by Bradley, by Goethe, by so many people. That is, the books live on posthumously. Each time that anyone reads them, the text changes, even if slightly, and the fact of being read with respect makes us see the riches in them ignored by the author.

Via Three Percent


Mike Hale's NYT review of Nickelodeon's Ni Hao, Kai-lan, is quietly hilarious:

Given the multifarious nature of the Chinese language, choices have to be made, and some Chinese-Americans might be disappointed to know that millions of children are about to be told to call red packets — the envelopes used for gifts of money at new year — ya sui qian rather than hong bao or ang pao.


Great name: Floyd M. Boring, RIP.


Song of the day, from Moistworks: The Lucksmiths, "To Absent Votes"

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

There goes the neighborhood

The haunts of the Ed of yore—back when I lived on West 83rd St. between Broadway and Amsterdam, mid-’90s-ish—were Book Ark, NYCD, and Columbus Bakery, where I wrote most of my (second!) unpublished novel, Dementia Americana. The first two establishments disappeared years ago; Columbus Bakery, though, seemed like an imperishable standby—reasonable prices, good light, they don't nudge you out, good traffic from breakfast till dinner.

It closed last fall, with a sign telling customers to look forward to its new "concept" in January. Last week, I saw that it was by no means going to be anything like a bakery/café, but rather a "pizza by the inch" place called Pinch (which I had gone to once, when it was open near the PTSNBN). It is a clever name but not the best idea. What is this, HOME DEPOT??

The very brief item in the Times does not register my shock! I must move on!!!


Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 6


Apple's Steve Jobs on Kindle: “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Over at Three Percent, Dizzyhead Chad vows: "No more Mac products for our office until Jobs recants this ridiculous remark."

Arg! The Jobs quote made this lifelong Mac user wince. Bad, bad!

I can imagine Jobs reading this article and nodding: "Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book."

Meyer, who never once jumped ahead to see what would happen and avoided skimming large passages of text in search of pictures, first began his oddball feat a week ago. Three days later, the eccentric Midwesterner was still at it, completing chapter after chapter, seemingly of his own free will.

"The whole thing was really engrossing," said Meyer, referring not to a movie, video game, or competitive sports match, but rather a full-length, 288-page novel filled entirely with words. "There were days when I had a hard time putting it down."


Stop that e-mailing—let's write letters!


Too exciting: An ARC of Jenny's book!


Super Tuesday finds Dadistan in a political mood:

Are babies Republicans? Let's examine some of their positions: against choice and birth control, and yet they also favor the Family Medical Leave Act, incentives for telecommuting, and the right to breast-feed in public, so maybe they are really anti-choice Democrats.


"Boredom is the mother of imagination." —A.E. Stallings, on Harriet.

Reminds me of a story in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine — by Asimov himself! — in which a writer wishes (upon a demon?) that his life were more more waiting in lines, etc. The wish his granted — and his creative output decreases. He no longer has the yawning moments of dullness that his brain used to strive to fill.

I can't remember the title of the story...or the characters...who I think reappeared in a number of IA's stories for his own magazine.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 5

I. Oh-h-h Yeh-hhh? Via Fantagraphics: A blog called Crumbling Paper, featuring scans of old newspaper comics. (It pointed me to an original George Herriman cartoon up on eBay, left.)

II. Last summer, Dizzies fave Selfdivider translated, from Korean, an interview with Haruki Murakami (appearing in the Jan. ’07 GQ Korea). Here is part 1, here is part 2, here is part 3, and here is part 4. (Via this blog's Sitemeter...and Three Percent.)

It's interesting to look at the Murakamis on sale at Koryo Books on 32nd St.—several titles for which there seem to be no English translations available.

III. A fresh New-York Ghost is out, featuring a tantalizingly good art/text project by M. Rebekah Otto and a dude named Aristotle.

IV. Via Linksmeister General Thomas: Sydney Greenstreet singing "Sugar, Sugar."

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Monday, February 04, 2008

...does 185

Best piece of mail today: "Test drive a breathtaking new Maserati Quattroporte or GranTurismo, and we will send you a special reward: a President's Collection Gift Certificate from Omaha Steaks."

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Strange things are happening

New Believer is out—you better "believer" it! Once again, lots of good stuff—Charles Baxter, Michael Almereyda on Mayakovsky, Eula Biss, Tayari Jones on Black History Month, Dean Young, the early career of Karl Marx, Steve Burt on a science-fictional poetry book that I need to check out...and much more. I like Karan Mahajan's interview with Suketu Mehta:

Another difference between Naipaul and me is that I like people a whole lot more than he does. I like all kinds of people. I grew up in Bombay, a city where if you don’t like people you’re going to be extremely unhappy.

I didn't know he'd written for the PTSNBN. This sounds...all too familiar, alas!:

After a year I came to the East Village to try my luck at freelancing. I wrote a couple of articles for the Village Voice—long pieces. I called up the Village Voice when I was leaving [on a trip to India]—I called cold and got an editorial assistant to put me on to an editor—and I said, “I’m going to India and there’s a big AIDS problem there.” The editor said, “India’s got AIDS?” I said, “Yes, strange things are happening. People who are suspected of being infected are actually being put in jail.” He said, “Ah, well, maybe you can do a five-hundred-word piece on it.” On spec! And I came back with a seven-thousand-word piece—my first long nonfiction article. “AIDS in India: Pandemic Out of Control” read the headline, back in 1995. I was roundly attacked here for allegedly exaggerating this problem, and now, of course, the figures speak for themselves. But back then there was a coalition of Indians who actually took out a petition against me and sent a letter to the Village Voice attacking my article.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Killer plants

Celebrities! I imagine it's rare that they're asked what books they're reading! Or maybe they're asked that question in every interview and it's always The Fountainhead or Rumi or something!

So that's why I liked this: Dave Itzkoff gets Bill Hader (SNL) to talk about his favorite recent horror reads. (It made me feel mildly bad for my uncharitable mention of Hot Rod, two posts ago.) Check it out!:

After I read “Day of the Triffids,” I read “The Ruins,” a Scott Smith book that’s also about killer plants. Now I’m afraid of plants.

That's pretty good!

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Hello goodbye

"The Panamanian golden frog communicates with other frogs by semaphore in the form of gentle hand waves." —BBC News

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for February 3

I. Great post over at Driftwood Singers Present (plus some Nada Surf):

Anyway, it gets real Raymond Carver, he needed to get to the UPS place, which was right where we were, but he insisted he didn't want to call the police or get an ambulance or go to the hospital or anything...

II. Over at Moistworks, Ben Greenman reminisces about the Black Album and elections and the store we think was called Rhymes Records...

III. Your weekend Ouroboros, courtesy Erasing—an Escher triple-ourobori/Moebius strip:

IV. Two kind of brilliant things in one sentence (emphasis added):

Every day a few hundred people dialed that mainframe for an alien signal — the then-unfamiliar squeal and crash of information transmission — and fit their receivers into acoustic couplers, like people in kayaks. —Virginia Heffernan, NYT Magazine

V. Devin's baffling Beatles trivia over at Hey Dullblog.

VI. Levi's double-jointed review: Wodehouse and Highsmith. (I highly approve of Lord Emsworth and Others, a completely satisfying grab-bag...)

VI. Weekend wisdom: Do not rent the movie Hot Rod.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

"What's so funny about Brooklyn?"

The fact that I'll be reading there on Thursday! Come on out! It's at 7 p.m. at the Brooklyn Public Library. The Dweck Center. Also present: Gary Shteyngart (!) and Anthony C. Winkler (think Wodehouse in Jamaica)...and David Rees (Get Your War On) will interview Amy Sedaris!

Somebody tell me how to get there! (I'm...serious.)

I'll also be reading in April at the Mercantile Center for Fiction—the "Merc," where I borrowed all those Keelers long ago...and in June at Newtonville Books, in Boston (or...Newton?)...

Note to self: After drinking milkshake, buy a 2008 pocket calendar/planner thing. You need to do this today.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Now I need to read Junot Diaz!

"Dominican American argot, hip-hop slang, Spanish patois and high culture words...swirl around sites as varied as Middle Earth, Gamma World..."


(From the TLS review of Brief Wonderful Life.)

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Its hour come at last

The Other Ed dives into the U.S. Copyright Office...

Strangely, this is not me:

Park, Ed, 1970- Psychological self-defense : the art of fighting manipulation, distortion, and control. TXu001102828 2003

But this is!:

Park, Edward, 1970- Rough beast : a short play / by Ed Park. PAu001133266 1988

Haven't thought about this in ages—a play I wrote during h.s. (in my "Max Fischer" phase?!), performed at the (now defunct?) Franklin Street night only! My senior project! I wish I had some archival photos to scan in...ah, youth!

The play was directly inspired by watching Sam Shephard's Cowboy Mouth! The three characters were lapsed Mormons, living in Sèvres, France, where one of them was...a guard (?) the home of the international standard unit of measure for the kilogram!


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