Thursday, September 30, 2010

The frustrations

He yanked aside a cretonne curtain, revealing in a recess a scale model of Sullivan's masterpiece, the Transportation Building of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, rendered in a substance closely resembling fingernail pairings.
"Oh, Marshall!" Nadia cried. "You must let us have it—it's not fair, keeping it hidden away in this—in this lumber room."
"Never," Marshall said. "Cousin Bessie gave the best years of her life to its creation. I couldn't ever figure out why, but Alice says it was the outlet for her two big frustrations: they wouldn't let her go see the Columbian Exposition or realize her ambition to be a modern architect."
—John Ashbery and James Schuyler, A Nest of Ninnies

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A beautiful sheet of ice

The original Zamboni is a Frankenstein-like amalgamation of genius, elbow grease and trash-picked military surplus parts. Frank started with a Jeep engine, the chassis from an old oil derrick, a hydraulic cylinder from a Douglas Aircraft fighter plane and a paddle-and-chain system that, in theory, would shoot ice shavings into a tank. "My dad always said if people hadn't told him it was impossible, he probably never would have tried it," says the gray-haired Richard, who, equipped with a Timex watch and a pocket protector, could pass for Joe Gibbs' brainy little brother. "He couldn't draw a straight line, but he was a determined guy, and boy did he know how to make a beautiful sheet of ice." —ESPN

I like how the specific numbers make you visualize a zamboni in action, in slow-motion...
The Model A hit the ice for the first time in 1949. The key to the machine is a razor-sharp blade -- 77 inches long, half an inch thick and weighing 57 pounds -- that drags behind the unit's back wheels, where it can scrape 1/16th of an inch, or less, off the top of the ice. (NHL teams prefer 1/32nd of an inch.) At this depth the machine can remove up to 60 cubic feet of ice in one pass. That's enough shavings, company officials like to point out, for 3,661 snow cones.

Running parallel to the blade is a large horizontal screw (like what you see in a snowblower) that brings the shavings to the center of the machine. Another vertical screw, turning at 1,500 rpm, it lifts and shoots them into the large snow tank in the front of the vehicle. Finally, about 95 gallons of hot water is spread on the ice by a towel. Yes, hot water, which makes better ice because it melts the existing surface and bonds with it. It also accelerates evaporation, which freezes the ice faster,

(Via Jane)


A secret hospital for the super-rich

This Thursday only—download friend & fellow Beatles-blogger Michael Gerber's new novel, Life After Death (For Beginners), for free! (More details here.) The description:

LADFB stars Tom Larkin, an impossibly famous rock icon who dies tragically at the hands of a deranged fan—or so the world believes. In reality, Tom narrowly escapes with his life. As he recuperates in a secret hospital for the super-rich, his loving but imperious wife Katrinka becomes convinced that it’s safer for everyone if the musician stays dead. Reluctantly, Tom agrees to live out his days in obscurity… until an old enemy reveals that his life is still in danger. Stripped of his former fame and access, Tom has to figure out who tried to kill him without publicly revealing his survival. His search leads him back to his old life, to the manager who made him a star; to the other three members of The Ravins, each dealing with his legacy in their own way; to his estranged daughter and the son who thinks he’s dead and of course, to Katrinka, the eccentric, devoted, public face of the Larkin myth


I understand about 67% of this but it's still worth reading

Adam Kempa (of groovy Blvr. piece fame) on "The Case of the Audiosonic Identiglyph"

“Greetings from the World Wide Web is a bold experiment in 21st century consumer outreach protocol by Brand Labs of Rochester, Michigan. By utilizing the Audiosonic Identiglyph (AI), the modern businessperson is no longer limited by the archaic constraints of print and digital media when the time comes to seek out new markets. Using the AI allows the businessperson in question to access as yet unreached customers by promulgating the most critical information about their operation in an easy-to-use, algorithmically encoded audio file that is ready-made for broadcast over the public airwaves – ripe to be captured, decoded and interpreted by any clients within range of the transmission. When you think next level ecommerce, think Brand Labs.”

...with an assist from Erasing's Scott!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Bleacher creatures

The 10,000 didn't make a sound as the players hit the pitch. And the 10,000 didn't move. Why?

They were a "virtual crowd" -- two-dimensional images printed on vinyl and stretched across the empty seats. OK, they weren't too inspirational, but they looked great on TV. Not only that but it really saved on ushers and guys to sweep up after the scoreless tie. Just roll them up and put them away until the next match. —ESPN

(Via Jane)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Here's to future days

"The only other writer who is as good at chronicling our contemporary milieu, in which the world of things eats itself like an ouroboros, is Douglas Coupland. To read Gibson is to read the present as if it were the future, because it seems the present is becoming the future faster than it is becoming the past."—Scarlett Thomas on William Gibson, NYTBR

(Via Kosiya)

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

When the kissing had to stop

After reciting a feminist-lesbian poetic manifesto and announcing that “all women are lesbians except those that don’t know it yet,” Ms. Johnston was joined onstage by two women. The three, all friends, began kissing and hugging ardently, upright at first but soon rolling on the floor.
Mailer, appalled, begged the women to stop. “Come on, Jill, be a lady,” he sputtered.
NYT, obit for Jill Johnston (9/21/10)

Mr. Ross first brought a group of San Franciscans together to chow down on cooked insects a year ago, and he was surprised when the guests started buzzing around him for raw samples. “I was like, ‘O.K., go for it,’ ” he said. “And then that just led to this very weird erotism moment when people were practically hugging each other while eating these live insects.” The spirit of the moment overflowed, leading, in a few cases, to groping and kissing in a corner. —Jeff Gordinier, "Waiter, There's Soup on My Bug," NYT (9/22/10)


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Triple bill

I. A short film by Wong Kar-wai? YES!

(Via Ken)

II. The amazing, Sebaldian Robinson in Space, the DVD of which I've lost, is now viewable online? YES!

(Via Dennis)

III. Magic Molly (author of this new Believer piece) is in a Sleigh Bells' video...? YES!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Expanding forever

From the Princeton Alumni Weekly

Andrew Lange, a brilliant astrophysicist and former chair of physics, mathematics, and astronomy at Caltech, who was the first to prove that the spatial geometry of the universe is Euclidean or "flat" and that the universe will continue to expand forever, took his own life on Jan. 21, 2010.

(Via James)

* * *

Though there was both a bust and a portrait of [George Bernard] Shaw in the family living room, when Mr. Tunney was growing up, he thought that Shaw was merely a business partner of his father’s, because together they backed a vegetarian friend of Shaw’s in a scheme to sell yeast powder. [Gene] Tunney seldom spoke about his friend and mentor. —NYT

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The most exciting thing on FB today

Personal Days sighting!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'm not sure what my point is™

In fact, [Maggie] Cheung did take on at least one other acting project since her Cannes award: She played a role in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds." Again, she said she took it because it involved a two-day commitment.

Cheung was the theater owner who left a movie house to the young Jewish girl who survived a Nazi massacre of her family, and fled to Paris. But the sequence wound up on the cutting room floor.

"That whole chunk he took out, because it wasn't necessary to the story," she said. "It was a pleasure, the two days. And I'm not sorry I'm cut out. Probably I'm not very good, either." —AP

I did another interesting movie, but you can't see me in it. I worked on a Woody Allen movie, Stardust Memories. I worked on it for three weeks, but ended up on the cutting room floor. Still, it was very interesting to work for Mr. Allen.
—Joanna Pang (The Secrets of Isis)

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I never thought of it that way but he's right!

"[T]he novel’s capacity to delay the introduction of a new point of view is unlike that of any other art.” —Franzen speaking in L.A.

(Janet Fitch's blog)


Thursday, September 16, 2010



Ulysses vs. POWER

A Marilyn-Snooki convergence at the McNally Jackson blog.

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Social failure

Chapman: I have to get this out of the way: Is there a story behind naming the song “Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears)”?

Dan Bejar: Ten years ago I was thinking of making an album whose song titles were all named after established American publishing houses. I don’t know why, it was maybe based on the idea of rejection, or social failure. Also, they all sounded so archaic to me, like books themselves, and therefore pretty mysterious. I was into enclosed sets of terms back then, though I was coming out of it, which is probably why I ditched the idea. The album ended up being called Streethawk: A Seduction, and the song titles were all over place, though FS&G stuck. I now just generally call it by its parenthetical title “(Sea of Tears).” I guess ten years later I like things in their simplest, saddest terms. Still think Farrar, Straus and Giroux rolls off the tongue real pretty, though.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Finally looked up the term "grass widow," which appears on p. 137 of True Grit.


Location: 24th St., San Francisco

(Via Andrew L.)


All apologies

Cory Arcangel's "Inspiring Apologies From Today's World Wide Web." Sample:

Okay ya’ll sorry I haven’t posted anything lately, buhuttt….


So that’s it.
Always, as Promised,

(Via Jason Grote)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Parallel lives

The latest issue (#75!) of Keeler News, the gazette of the Harry Stephen Keeler Society, is available online, for free.

This number features a newly discovered Keeler story, that brilliant feature "Chuckles From China" (a page of "Chinese" jokes, from made-up publications like Nankow Military College Topics, that ran in a magazine Keeler edited), the parallel lives of Keeler and Heidegger, William Poundstone on the word "Izzard"...and much more!

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Monday, September 13, 2010

John, Paul, George, and Ringo... know, Crime Spree!

Over at Hey Dullblog, Mollie gets drawn into an alternate universe thanks to her tote bag.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm just sayin'™

Hornby column in new Believer is particularly good this month.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010


"AmNews Bot wants to be friends with you on Facebook."

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Two things from yesterday

You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies. —Morrissey

Of all stupid ill-feelings, the sentiment of my fellow Caucasians towards our companions in the Chinese car was the most stupid and the worst.... —Robert Louis Stevenson, The Amateur Emigrant

Friday, September 03, 2010

The World Snake

"Oh, that." I showed it to him. "It just looks like a wedding ring; I wear it to keep women off." That ring is an antique I bought in 1985 from a fellow operative—he had fetched it from pre-Christian Crete. "The Worm Ouroboros...the World Snake that eats its own tail, forever without end. A symbol of the Great Paradox." —Robert A. Heinlein, "All You Zombies—" (1959)

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Thursday, September 02, 2010


Rachel Aviv has won a Rona Jaffe award!

Isn't she great?! Here is her superminimalist new website, with a selection of her stories (some of which appeared in The Believer and the PTSNBN and at the Poetry Foundation website).

(Here she is interviewing me.)(Wow, I'm just sort of skimming it now, I forgot I talked so much about Julian Jaynes!)(This is a wide-ranging interview! Thanks to Rachel.)


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

New "Believer"

I. September Believer is out! The one and only Magic Molly (aka Molly Young) on the world of immersive retail; Geoff Dyer (!!? wow!) on Roland Barthes; Damion Searls, translator of Hans Keilson, the centenarian "genius" (F. Prose, NYTBR), on the writer's work—and how his interest in H.K. began with a mistake any bookstore wanderer can identify with ("Ingeborg Bachmann’s perfect autobiographical story ‘Youth in an Austrian Town’ mentions a movie, Romance in a Minor Key, and I misremembered the title, thinking that this book, Comedy in a Minor Key, by Hans Keilson, was it”); Jason Boog with a fascinating look at the epitome of N.Y. bohemia in the ’30s, the Raven Poetry Circle—check out this tantalizing bit:

D’Harcourt may have wooed her with his favorite topic, his unpublished novel entitled Ro Dran and the Year 90,000. He described it this way: “It is an erotic story of love. It is greater in its imaginative quality than The Arabian Nights. It is the most fantastic, most imaginative, most swiftly moving, most romantic story ever written.” D’Harcourt believed, like generations of frustrated writers both before and after his odd lifetime, that a novel could save him.

—plus your Hornby/Pendarvis/Marcus columns, reviews, a Weird Al Yankovic interview (!), some poems, a report from the Gulf, sandwiches in literature...and more...


Speaking of Nick Hornby—why am I just learning about this collaboration with Ben Folds? (Which also includes Pomplamoose?!) And how great is it that N.H. is wearing a Believer T-shirt?? (A: Very!)

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