Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Shorter Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for April 30, 2008

I. The "weather corner" (is that the technical term?) of yesterday's NYT said today would have "puffy clouds."

II. Nice new U.K. notices for Personal Days! (Elle calls it the "Read of the Month"!) Why not pre-order a copy?

III. Let's have a Falindrome contest!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some candy talking

From the NYT: "The deal...brings together two companies with many similarities and a complementary portfolio of products, with Mars focusing on chocolate and Wrigley, chewing gum. Both companies have strong roots in Chicago (Mars later moved to Virginia) and remain closely aligned with the families that bear their names."

Dzyd trivia: Which 1934 novel begins with a Chicago confectioner returning to town after a flavor-finding mission?

Got any Falindromes? (The editors at Ought would have loved these.)

(Via Dzyd Ed.)

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Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for April 29, 2008

"Even more frustrating for the farm is that the 26 sons and daughters who have made it to the track this year have become terrific racehorses, capturing six stakes races and putting their reluctant father near the top of Japan’s leading sire list." —NYT

(Via Jenny D.)

Dream: I had the brilliant idea to write a nonfiction book in which I would go through the 20th century year by year and give a curious fact for each. First up was 1901; my section focused on a tavern owner and an insane patron who kept revealing secrets of McKinley's assassination. I found all this information in a book of letters, and then realized that published correspondence was a great source for nuggets like that. Subsequently I lost myself in a volume of Arnold Palmer's letters, a facsimile edition. His letters were exuberant, funny, and often scrawled on scraps of legal paper. The one letter that I can remember involved winning a year's supply of dog food and being very happy about it. This was well before he had found any fame as a golfer.

Cinema Talk: "The only major blog hand-coded in HTML"! David Rees has two succinct movie reviews up (Forbidden Kingdom and Forgetting Sarah Marshall)...TDM (Team Dizzies Member) Rob on 99 River Street (check out the tag line!)...Shadowplay: "The detective sergeant has no name. He works for a superior known only as The Voice....How The Dead Live is sensational and I immediately wanted to film it. One problem — I wanted to film it with Stanley (PERFORMANCE) Meadows in 1965, twenty years before it was written, two years before I was born."

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for April 28, 2008

I. Martin Amisbouros? (From yesterday's NYT Book Review.)


III. Dzyd Joshua reads at Hallwalls in Buffalo.

IV. More on Personal Days in the latest Details...Coming soon to the website (designed by the one and only Brit in Brooklyn, a/k/a Adrian Kinloch)—my interview with British magazine Dazed & Confused! (Why not pre-order a copy or two?)

V. Haven't quite deciphered the method yet, but looks great: Gillian K Ferguson's genome poetry.

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The Cinema-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus

I. Inland Empire by way of Oulipo (composed entirely of photos found on eBay):

(Via Exoskeleton.)

II. Dzyd Dennis talks to Harmony Korine in the NYT:

In Panama, he befriended a cult of fishermen called the Malingerers, who were trying to find a fish with gold scales. After a few months he got into an argument with the cult leader — he thought they were living a lie — and as he was leaving, a fisherman’s wife handed him a dog leash. “She said she was walking the dog. It was an invisible dog.”

III. Does "thumbs up, thumbs down" work in space? Erasing studies the logs of the International Space Station, ca. 2000–2001:

Watched disk 1 of "Apocalypse Now". Shep tried to explain why Robert Duvall is always wearing the black cavalry hat, but being a Navy guy, he's not sure he understands it either.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

What Are the Chances? Dept.

Yesterday I was on the subway reading Mohsin Hamid's novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and was at this ordinary sentence

"I emerged from the 6 train on Seventy-Seventh Street...."

—when the train stopped at the Seventy-Seventh Street station—and the announcer's barked "Seventy-Seventh Street" right as I read those words!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Imaginary numbers

This book sounds great:

"Inspired by the playful algebraist André Weil, brother of the philosopher Simone, the group adopted the mustachioed officer's name in 1930 for no better reason than that they thought it sounded funny."

—Alexander Masters, "The many in the one," TLS (a review of Amir D. Aczel's The Artist and the Mathematician: The story of Nicolas Bourbaki, the genius mathematician who never existed)

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Loot? Ltoo? Loto? Tolo? Tloo? Otol? Oolt? Olot? Olto? Ootl?

From Paper Cuts: “Its reference title is ‘Tool,’ presumably an anagram, somehow based on a character named Laura. But it is idle to speculate about the title or the meaning, his editor says, because Mr. Nabokov likes to play games with words, ideas and publishers, and it is impossible to tell until those shuffled cards are typed into a manuscript.”

(Via Levi.)

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Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for April 25, 2008

1. Levi runs with the tag!

2. Becky plays Carcassone! (Carcass 1? Carcass own?) Remind me to tell you about playing Settler of Catan, translating slowly from the German!

3. Madonna's "Four Minutes"! I feel like this is an Ouroboros....I'm calling everything an Ouroboros these days...OK...maybe it's just a pretzel thingy...a song that it about its own duration!

Also those vivisectional views are very unsettling, like the cover of this Ballard Re/Search thingy!

4. Molls: "Whew! Are you poped out?"

5. Is that Jude Law in the window of the Beatles' limo?...Various new Personal Days notices...I thought this headline [Jennifer Lopez to star in a TLC reality series (AP)] meant that J.Lo was starring in a series based on TLC the group...

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Phrase from a dream, ca. two nights ago

"yammering malleable amoebas"

I was convinced of the greatness of the phrase and that I would not forget it when I woke up.

(Tip of the hat to Bill.)

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Hubcap diamond star halo

At the Poetry Foundation, Jana Prikryl uncovers the great Modernist Swedish poet Henry Parland—who had an English name, and was not even Swedish!

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The Return of the Spinal Narrative?

(Via Mimi.)


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In other news...

I do not live in Brooklyn!

Though I am fond of it.

In theory!


I've been tagged!

OK, this is from page 123 of The Complete Peanuts, 1967 to 1968 (Fantagraphics):

Charlie Brown: "Okay, let's run through the two's first...What is two times seven?
Sally: "One million?"
Charlie Brown: "You're guessing!"

(You can figure out the setup—Sally has asked her "dear brother" to help her with her "times tables.")

I thought I'd share the strip right under it, too—CB asks Sally to calculate 3 x 0, and she takes increasingly absurd stabs in the dark: "Four thousand? Six? Eleventy twelve? Fifty Quillion? Overly-eight? Twiddely-two?"

* * *

OK! I'm more J's?......OK, K's?......I'm looking at the margin about L's? Oh yes, Levi!

[Oops, forgot to post the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.]

[UPDATE OOPS: I forgot to follow rule #5—I was tagged by Lee!]


Best new song rhyme

Why do you edit?
Just give me credit

—She & Him, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I'm a huge Light Reading fan, but...lately I am wondering: could it be that Jenny's other blog, Triaspirational, is actually more entertaining? It's all about triathlon training—running, biking, swimming—and when it first materialized I didn't think it would be something I would be reading all that often. But—it is vigorously/hilariously written!

In the category of never too late to learn something incredibly obvious and foolish, I announce with relief that I now understand why my bathing cap is constantly slipping off my head, so that at least twice during each workout I have to stop and tug it back lower down on my head. It is not because I have a monstrously large head. (That said, I do have a fairly large head.) It is because bathing caps have an orientation, Coach Henning did a demonstration and showed me that really the Tyr logo has to go on the sides rather than front-back! He expressed remorse for not having thought of this before, since several times he has asked me whether I am having a problem with my bathing cap, but I really thought it was just a problem with the shape and size of my head! ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!

Shirley you're joking!

Dave Kehr's NYT review of the Shirley Temple DVD set is an exemplary piece of criticism!

This is a familiar position for Ms. Temple, who lacks one or both parents in most of her Fox films. In a plot device that Walt Disney would later take up in several of his live-action films, the child is effectively allowed to generate her own parents, an innovative form of asexual reproduction that solved more than one problem in the puritanical Production Code years. But with Ms. Temple the device seems more than merely evasive: her unstoppable energy and cheerfulness shake the adults out of their emotional paralysis, setting things right psychologically, socially and (thanks to the redistribution of wealth Ching-Ching slyly brings about) even economically.

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Ouroboric mail-bag

Dzyd Sarah: "I have just finished AMERICAN EVE, a book about Evelyn Nesbit and the Stanford White murder, that Riverhead is publishing next month. The author is...Paula Uruburu! Not only a palindrome but positively circular!"

(I believe the name "Uruburu" is used in Gaddis's A Frolic of His Own...I always assumed it was made-up!)

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Allegory of the Cave

So Cavemen has become short-hand for "flop," for the foreseeable future (will it become to television what Moose Murders is to Broadway?). But there will come a time—perhaps around 2040 AD—when it will be seen for the minor masterpiece it is...

(Over at Harriet, I share some Gossip Girl gleanings.)


Morning Ouroboros

Dzyd Ben, in town for a whirlwind 48 hours, captured this poster in front of Carnegie Hall. Wherefore the name of that flute-piano duet? Perhaps the flutist practices "circular breathing"?

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Monday, April 21, 2008

It's here!

Get Personal!


Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for April 21, 2008

The best Shadowplay yet? From "Things I Read Off the Screen in 'They Drive By Night'":

Many are the ads for Player’s Cigarettes in this film! I won’t reproduce them all or you will be hypnotised into craving the Smooth Smoke Doctors Recommend, and I don’t want that on my conscience. The items offered by CHARLIE’S include TEAS, you will note. For a hard-boiled crime drama, this film shows quite a lot of tea being drunk. It’s an odd effect.

This bit in the TLS review on Lee Siegel novel Love in a Dead Language

which is about the death of a Sanskrity scholar, Leopold Roth, who specialized in studying sentences made up of identically ordered letters, which differ only in terms of the number of spaces between those letters. Roth's dissertation is titled Oflyrricheros, which, depending on the spacing, reveals either the disappearance of love (O Fly Rich Eros), or a paean to poets (Of Lyric Heros), and he encourages readers to puzzle over the relationship between the identically lettered question "Am I able to get her?" and the fantasy "Amiable together."

reminds me of—you knew it was coming!—Keeler's The Marceau Case:

The Marceau books hinge—or do they?—upon a single line of a manuscript, which reads: “ ‘Blimey, ‘Erb! Little?’ Lu Caslow’s dreary eyes”. Is the culprit Meyer B. Li? Or a midget funambulist named Little Lucas?

Selfdivider on early Ishiguro.

IV. Via Very Short List, "Charlie Rose by Samuel Beckett" (aka "Waiting for"):

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

The New-Paltz Ghost

I. Bibliophilic specter?

Was it was a spirit looking for something to read in the middle of the night? Or was it, as some killjoys suggest, just a spider?

A surveillance tape picked up the image about a week before Halloween, and the mystery has deepened rather than dissipated with time. The video, called “Ghost in the New Paltz Library,” has been viewed on YouTube by some 4,385 people so far, while library employees and patrons continue to debate the possibilities and recount the coincidences. —NYT

Hmmm—looks like just a spider to me!

Dzyd Dennis on the Harold and Kumar sequel:

The signal achievement of both Harold and Kumar films is that they make race incidental without taking racism lightly; they presuppose an enlightened audience. “When we start to write, we’re under the assumption that everyone knows racism is bad,” Mr. Schlossberg said. “If you don’t know that, you’re a moron. Harold and Kumar’s attitude toward racism is more frustration at having to deal with idiocy than moral outrage. We try to create a world where racism is stupid.”

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Heaving devotion

The latest Psychic Envelopes cover is of She & Him's "Sentimental Heart," and features newest Envelope Eugene on the cello.


Brain trust

My new Astral Weeks column looks at BoingBoing brain trustee Cory Doctorow's cool new YA novel Little Brother. A tantalizing extract!

Marcus' voice is seamless for the most part, but when he says, "My brain was really going now, running like sixty," I thought: No 21st century teen would say "running like sixty." In fact, that expression was last in currency at the tail end of the 19th century, in Adenville, Utah, to be precise. That's where John D. Fitzgerald's "The Great Brain" books take place; in the first chapter of "The Great Brain," for example, we see the phrase "working like sixty." Could this yoking of "brain" and "like sixty" -- I thought wildly -- be an unconscious hommage to those delightful books?

(As much fun as reading Little Brother was re-reading Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Great Brain!)

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Come pick me up, bite my tail...

So Ryan Adams is a VALIS fan Ouroboros fan???

(Image is from his blog.)

(Via Jen.)

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I was told there'd be...a bestseller!

Yowza!! Sloane hits the NYT bestseller list! The hilarious I Was Told There'd Be Cake reaches no. 19 after its first week out. From S.F. Chronicle:

Crosley, who earned a degree in creative writing from Connecticut College, first published an essay, "Goodbye, Columbus," in the Village Voice in 2004. It was about the day she moved and managed to get locked out of two apartments. She wrote up her experience in an e-mail to friends, and Ed Park, an editor at the Village Voice who happens to be one of those friends, told her to shape it up and he'd publish it. "I keep telling this story about the e-mail I sent that became the Village Voice essay. It's been inspiring the ire of many Internet personalities, as if after I decided to write an e-mail, now I'm going to call myself a writer."

YESSSSSSssssss!!! (This piece also has a great photo of her eating cake.)

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Table-talk for April 18, 2008

Good morning! It is April 18, 2008! We are in New York City!


Oh I'm sorry—I thought I was talking to Duncan!

I. At the L.A. Times, Scott Timberg talks to me and two other editor-novelists...

NEW YORK—Is it possible to lead a dedicated literary life in the billionaire-filled, media-crazed New York of today? To be heedless of the material world as you burrow into novels and ideas the way the old Partisan Review gang did in the '40s and '50s, to come up with notions that rock the intellectual landscape? And if so, who exactly is still paying attention?

Those are questions three reasonably young men are asking now in much-awaited first novels that emerge over the next few weeks.

As a friend suggested, maybe a fact-checker made him slip "reasonably" in there....

II. Free Godzilla at the Guardian! (Via Dzyd Sam.)

III. Team Dizzies Member Izzy has a diverting piece on the longest poem in the world (or is it?), over at (Check out the cool illo as well.)

They came up with the idea in their 2003 self-help parody, This Book Will Change Your Life, which offers a self-improvement exercise for every day of the year. As Carey explained, "Helping to write the longest poem in the world was one of the tasks. It naturally seemed best suited to the web." They put the poem on their site in 2003, instructing their webmaster to use the line "Mercy, cried the popinjay to the Pope"—picked specifically because it was hard to follow.

[...]I think it's far to say that I've read more of "The World's Longest Poem" than anyone. In the interest of research, I scrolled through 500 pages on my Internet browser. I could fit 19 lines on a page, so I moved in units of nineteen, noting the last line on every page. When I gave up several hours later, I'd gotten about halfway through and counted 9,500 lines. I'd seen several themes develop: The antagonistic relationship between the popinjay and the Pope, recurring bits about badgers and penguins, various teenagers declaring their love, various teenagers abusing their classmates, a lot about soap (especially on a rope), and a running gag of declaring the poem over. I'd identified lyrics from R.E.M., the Pogues, George Michael, Public Enemy, Belle and Sebastian, and the entire Monty Python song "Every Sperm is Sacred." And I'd discovered that, like all open Internet forums, the content eventually turned dark, freakish, and threatening. I went to bed shortly after reading line 9,500 and had disturbing popinjay dreams.

IV. Levi's been blogging from London....Douglas is nominated for an Eisner for Reading Comics....and after protracted negotiations with, Personal Days got its own Facebook page!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008


I love this juxtaposition of quotes over at the Ouroboric Erasing:

Borges, talking to the Paris Review, 1967:

You know, English is a beautiful language, but the older languages are even more beautiful: they had vowels. Vowels in modern English have lost their value, their color. My hope for English — for the English language — is America. Americans speak clearly. When I go to the movies now, I can’t see much, but in the American movies, I understand every word.

Lorrie Moore, mercilessly, in her short story “How to Become a Writer”:

Insist you are not very interested in any one subject at all, that you are interested in the music of language, that you are interested in — in — syllables, because they are the atoms of poetry, the cells of the mind, the breath of the soul. Begin to feel woozy. Stare into your plastic wine cup.

“Syllables?” you will hear someone ask, voice trailing off, as they glide slowly toward the reassuring white of the dip.

Can I add two from my personal stash?

Clem came from Buffalo and spoke in the neutral American accent that sends dictionary makers there. His pronunciation was clear and colorless.
—John Updike, "I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying"

Could mortal lip divine
The undeveloped Freight
Of a delivered syllable
'Twould crumble with the weight.
—Emily Dickinson

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

He's got legs

I wasn't going to read this NYT article on Captain America creator Joe Simon, but I'm glad I did, because it ends with this anecdote...a setup to today's Dizzies Trivia Challenge!

Comics may still cause Mr. Simon agitation, but they also introduced him to his wife, Harriet, who was a secretary at Harvey Comics. (She died in 1972.) “I met her when I came from the war in my military outfit,” he said. She asked him to pull up his pant legs. He dutifully agreed. “What did you want to see?” he asked.

“ ‘I won’t go out with a guy with pasty white legs,’ ” he recalled as her response. “I didn’t ask her if I passed the test, but we went out.” They were married for 25 years.

The question is: Which classic ’30s comedy ends with a woman asking her prospective husband to show her his legs?

* * *

And a late-day reminder—come see me read tonight and maybe have some wine (?) at the Mercantile Library at 7! (More info? Why not check out!)

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008!

Yes! My website is live, and it's here!

I'll be doing a pre-publication reading tomorrow (Weds.) at 7 at the Mercantile Library, kicking off the Beatrice reading series with Jane F. Kotapish (Salvage). You can find more info and future appearance!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

"Visible Hitchcock" b/w "Paperback Writer"

Robyn Hitchcock and Elvis Costello join Nick Lowe onstage in New York to sing "If I Fell" (and "Mystery Train"):

Read the writeup over at Driftwood Singers.

(Bonus: here he sings "Surgery" for Bryant Park Presents.)

* * *

In other Beatles news: The U.K. Times on the possible origins of "Paperback Writer."

(Via Jenny D.)

* * *

And speaking of "paperback writer"—the new Cosmopolitan's "Paperback Page-Turners: What every chick should have in her beach bag" features Personal Days!
"If you think Pam and Jim have it bad, try spending a day with Lizzie, Jonah, and Pru at their 'Office'-like company. You'll laugh, cringe, and thank God you don't work there."
* * *

And finally:

Among the books published under [Philip M. Parker's] name are “The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Acne Rosacea” ($24.95 and 168 pages long); “Stickler Syndrome: A Bibliography and Dictionary for Physicians, Patients and Genome Researchers” ($28.95 for 126 pages); and “The 2007-2012 Outlook for Tufted Washable Scatter Rugs, Bathmats and Sets That Measure 6-Feet by 9-Feet or Smaller in India” ($495 for 144 pages).

But these are not conventional books, and it is perhaps more accurate to call Mr. Parker a compiler than an author. Mr. Parker, who is also the chaired professor of management science at Insead (a business school with campuses in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore), has developed computer algorithms that collect publicly available information on a subject — broad or obscure — and, aided by his 60 to 70 computers and six or seven programmers, he turns the results into books in a range of genres, many of them in the range of 150 pages and printed only when a customer buys one.

If this sounds like cheating to the layman’s ear, it does not to Mr. Parker, who holds some provocative — and apparently profitable — ideas on what constitutes a book. While the most popular of his books may sell hundreds of copies, he said, many have sales in the dozens, often to medical libraries collecting nearly everything he produces. He has extended his technique to crossword puzzles, rudimentary poetry and even to scripts for animated game shows.

And he is laying the groundwork for romance novels generated by new algorithms. “I’ve already set it up,” he said. “There are only so many body parts.”

—Noam Cohen, "He Wrote 200,000 Books (But Computers Did Some of the Work)," NYT

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Table-talk of Parkus Grammaticus for April 13-14

I. The _________: Dzs Linksmeister-General Thomas sends in Martijn Hendriks's Give Us Today Our Daily Terror, an "[e]xact copy of Hitchcock’s 1963 film The Birds from which all birds have been removed."

II. In the NYT: Going by Marily Stasio's review, a Henry Darger–like character figures in a new crime novel:
The object of unhealthy devotion in THE GENIUS (Putnam, $24.95) isn’t a person, it’s a monumental work of art — some 135,000 drawings comprising a singular vision of a surreal world — discovered when Victor Cracke, the reclusive artist, disappears from the slum apartment where he has spent decades drawing his insane masterpiece and stashing it away in cardboard boxes.
Also: Dzyd/Psychic E. crooner Sarah's "The Cure" is in the magazine's "Lives" section today (an excerpt from her forthcoming book, The Two Kinds of Decay)...The droll Jeff Byles (in last week's City section): "The idea of blocking off streets so children can play rousing games of skelly and the like dates to at least 1916, when worried city officials called for shutting 100 streets in congested areas during certain times of day." (Skelly!)...Also from last week:
The bizarre-looking assemblage, which was once known as Float Bridge No. 4 and which dates to 1911, offers a sharp contrast to the park’s pathways and ornamental grasses, and its presence has not gone unnoticed by local residents.

“It’s junk, and it ought to be removed,” said Jeff Jadin, a retiree who lives in Trump Place, not far from the park, and was staring at the machinery the other day from a bench near the waterfront.... —Martin Pollak, "Hope Floats"

(My Blogger "profile" was taken just up the river...)

III. I'll be doing a pre-publication reading from Personal Days this Wednesday (April 16) at that Keeler-friendly place known as the Mercantile Library, 17 E. 47th St., with Jane F. Kotapish...(I'll be announcing more reading dates shortly—both here and on the soon-to-be unveiled official site, ¶ I just got the first copies of the U.K. edition, delightful design!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008


I like how large the font is! Here is Side A of the Psychic Envelopes' Cryspace, with a bonus track.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

That's not a guitar, Paula!

No cable = I haven't been watching Idol, but clearly this fellow should win!

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Shelf life

“Entering one’s study and touching the books can brighten one’s mood even if one is unable to read regularly.” —King Chongjo (r. 1776–1800)

Great quote (and image) to start the day—thanks to Karen Rosenberg's NYT review of the Korean scholarly screens exhibit at the Met.

(Read more on Chongjo by Parkus Grammaticus.)

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Table-talk for April 11, 2008

I. Nabokov and Trilling in Canada (via...I can't remember!)

II. What was going on with those luminous, anonymous photos on Spinster Aunt? Read the enchanting debriefing!

III. Dzyd Joshua has a review of S.Y. Agnon's To this Day in the Forward. Hmm, any Ourobori? Why yes!

It's public knowledge or should be that only true love can sunder what science fiction calls "the time-loop": Only the fervid pounding of our hearts can break the chokehold of Ouroboros, the Greek snake that swallows its own tail and serves as our oldest symbol for infinity.

IV. Not me!

Ed Park, who was one of the children in the Players' version of "It's a Wonderful Life," is now at Yale Opera School. He recently was named one of the top five young opera singers in the country.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Automatic for the people

“It was only an ’opeless fancy,
It passed like an Ipril dye,
But a look an’ a word an’ the dreams they stirred
They ’ave stolen my ’eart awye!”

The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound....

—George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Catalan call

Dzyd Jason has a smart interview with Lydia Davis up at the Poetry Foundation site...they're rapping* about translation, specifically LD's translation of a Catalan carol in the current issue of Poetry.

Randomly picked quote-as-appetizer:

"There is hardly any way to supply that lack."

More Lydia madness: Catch LD and Dzyd Sarah locking brain-horns in this Believer interview.

*I just mean "talking."

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Open captioning

I. Spinster Aunt stitches together a mysterious "Found Photographs" narrative...

II. ...while Getting Dry experiments with the magic of caption-photo disjuncture...


(Via Lady BIB.)

III. ...and we return to an old favorite: Chris Reynolds's "Inspector Rockwell at Condover."

'Yes - the view was tremendous! This would have been just the kind of place for them.'

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Missed opportunities

“I have now reread Lolita several times since then, and I cannot reconstruct the S. M. Bessie who sat there in a hotel in Paris and turned that book down! But I did.” —obit for Simon Michael Bessie, NYT

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As the pilcrow flies, or 'On the pleasures of designing the paragraph mark'

(1) Should the form be P-like or C-like? (2) Should there be one stroke or two? (3) Should the bowl be solid or open? (4) Should the bottom of the strokes be plain, seriffed, or flourished? (5) Should the top right corner finish with a serif or not? (6) Should the bowl exhibit contrast to match the alphabet, or be monolinear like the mathematical operators? (7) Should the bowl connect with the first stroke, the second stroke, both, or neither? (8) Should the character align with the capitals, or descend to match the lowercase? Together these simple decisions offer 768 possible outcomes... —"Pilcrow and Capitulum," Ask H&FJ

(Via Dzyd Jen.)

Dzyd trivia: What's the word for the number sign (#)?

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The Emblem of Eternity

Jenny sends a scan from Clarissa:

The principal device, neatly etched on a plate of white metal, is a crowned serpent, with its tail in its mouth, forming a ring, the emblem of Eternity, and in the circle made by it is this inscription:

April X.
[Then the year]
Ætat. XIX.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

All My Ourobori

Ouroboros? Or maybe just a pretzel:

Barely two months after [All My Children's] Kendall, who is played by the actress Alicia Minshew, set down those first few deathless words, “It was one of those brutally hot, muggy days in August,” her first novel “Charm” was released in the fictional small town of Pine Valley, Pa., as part of the soap’s story line. Concurrently, “Charm” — an actual hardback with a list price of $21.95 — became available in real-life bookstores around the country.

“Charm” was published by Hyperion, which like its sister company that owns “All My Children,” Disney-ABC Television Group, is a Disney property. It has sold more than 100,000 copies and made its debut in February at No. 13 on the New York Times best-seller list. (It has Kendall’s name on the cover but the name of the actual writer is being kept secret.)

Making things even more convoluted, the Hyperion executive editor, Gretchen Young, and the publicity director, Beth Gebhard, had walk-on parts in the publishing party scene on the show, and a fragrance called Charm, which is a product of the cosmetics company in the novel as well as a plot point on the soap, will be on sale in Sears stores nationwide beginning April 14.

—Joanne Kaufman, "The Book Is Real Enough. It's the Author That's Fake," NYT

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Friday, April 04, 2008

He means the 'Ghost'?

A pilcrow is one of these: ¶. I didn’t know that. The little printer’s mark is unvoiced but eloquent, sundering streams of prose, heralding new paragraphs or staking out subclauses. It crops up often in legal and academic documents, but in fiction you would only expect to see one as an avant-garde manoeuvre, pegged into a page by an author who wanted to interrupt a conventional illusion, to alert the reader to something imposed or artificial. I suspect McSweeney’s uses them a lot. —Keith Miller, "The Clever Nostalgia of Adam Mars-Jones," TLS, March 26, 2008

UPDATE: Saki Knafo, aka the greatest journalist in the world, found this punctuational free-for-all in an AP story. Here Shaquille O'Neal appears to be visualizing his words in cartoon bubbles:

Of Riley's comments, O'Neal said colorfully, "I don't [care] how he interpreted it."

Reminded that reporters couldn't use the quote because of the expletive, he said, "Sure you can. You can quote me, brother. You can put an 's,' then the tic-tac-toe, the 'at' sign and then the other symbols."

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday Ourobori

Dzyd Luc writes: "I'm reading Bolaño's The Savage Detectives and there's a moment (p. 77) when the narrator is being shown the layout of an avant-garde poetry magazine":
"Look, this is the magazine's logo."
A snake (which might have been smiling but more likely was writhing
in a spasm of pain) was biting its tail with a hungry, agonized
expression, its eyes fixed like daggers on the hypothetical reader.
"But nobody knows what the magazine will be called yet."
"It doesn't matter. The snake is Mexican and it also symbolizes
circularity. Have you read Nietzsche, Garcia Madero?" he said

This might be more of a Möbius strip or just a pretzel or something: The current Hemispheres magazine—wait, you don't know that obscure lit-mag Hemispheres???? the one they give you on United Airlines????—features approximately 900 articles on James Bond and Bondiana and how we are all children of Bond and living in the Bond Age (bondage???) and so forth. There's a long, trivia-filled article about Ian Fleming (whose centenary this is)...then later, we get an interview with Sean Connery, in which we read the following exchange:

Q: I understand much of [Dr. No director Terence] Young’s personal style is reflected in Bond, even down to the clothes he recommended that you wear—that he even had you visit his personal tailor?

A: That’s right. Personally, I’m not that concerned about clothes either way. I just like comfort. But that was an element. It’s funny—and John Cork talks about this in his piece in this issue of Hemispheres (which is a very fine article, by the way)—how, though times have changed over 40-some years, Bond’s style has had such an influence. It’s faded and then come back. The clothes he wore: the blazer, the tie, the shorts, the gray pants, soft, muted colors, English tailoring. People still put on a blazer and a tie when they go to a club. It’s got that kind of stamp. And Terence, although he was born in Shanghai, was very, very English. In actual fact, his family was Irish, but he was like the consummate Englishman. We used to have real jousts about English/Scottish situations!

So—what happened? Did Connery read Cork's piece before it went to print? Maybe he surreptitiously guest-edited the issue and hence knew what was going to be in it??? (Ghost-edited?) Or did the Hemispheres editor just add that line? "In this issue of Hemispheres" is worthy of Escher! It is also a sentence I can't imagine anyone would say in normal conversation! (The Dizzies, as you know, is a fan of American Way editor Sherry Gulcyzinski Burns's spazzy introductions.)

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Cryptic spam subject line of the day


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A shark dies in Brooklyn

"You’d be probably as surprised about how much is not known about sharks than about how much is known." —NYT


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