Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two ladies

I. The Korea—India connection:

Korea's first lady Kim Yoon-ok is a descendant of one of India's royal families dating back two thousand years, according to the presidential office Monday.

The presidential couple arrived Sunday in New Delhi for a four-day state visit. It is the first visit to India by a Korean president since 2004.

The office said Kim is a descendant of Heo Hwang-ok, a princess who travelled from an ancient kingdom in Ayodhya, India, to Korea.

Heo arrived on a boat and married King Suro of Korea's Gaya Kingdom in A.D. 48, according to Samguk Yusa, an 11th-century collection of legends and stories.

The chronicle says Princess Heo had a dream about a handsome king from a far away land.

After the dream, Heo asked her royal parents for permission to set out on an adventure to find the man of her fate.

The ancient book indicates that she sailed to the Korean Peninsula, carrying a stone, with which she claimed to have calmed the waters. —Korea Times
(From S.K.)

II. More importantly, the Lady Gaga–Korea connection:

She also revealed that one of her best friends while growing up in New York was a Korean adoptee.

"We used to go out for Korean food together. She's never been here before so I sent her photos and told her about what I've seen here. It's personally very exciting for me,'' she said. —Ibid.

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"This is a large and confusing game..."

One of the innovations of Space Quest was the use of a 30-sided die. You should understand, there was no 30-sided die available when this game was published (nor was there a 10-sided die), so the idea of using a 30-sided die was very unusual. —A Paladin in Citadel


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gorey details

I'm not sure what the concept is—but the jokes are pretty funny.

(From Andrew)


Friday, January 29, 2010

When worlds collide

Lev Grossman comments on a Douglas Wolk piece.

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Blake effect

(Via Jeff)

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My cousin—Louis Auchincloss?

After the invasion he was sent to the Pacific and while onboard a ship to Japan wrote another novel, only to throw it in the trash. He finally began his writing career with “The Indifferent Children,” a novel published by Prentice-Hall in 1947 after he had returned to Sullivan & Cromwell. It appeared under the pseudonym Andrew Lee, in deference to his mother, who thought the book “trivial and vulgar” and feared it would damage his career. —NYT


Ulm, Wyoming

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What about Archie Bell?

For several years, I was under the impression that Chris Bell, of Big Star and "I Am The Cosmos" fame, was the son of the man who created Taco Bell. I even used to enjoy sharing this bit of false trivia with people, helping to spread my own inadvertently created rock'n'roll "urban legend".

I only recently learned the truth and realized the cause of my confusion. Somewhere along the line, I had taken two pieces of accurate but incomplete information - Bell's father owned a restaurant and Taco Bell was founded by a Mr. Bell - and put them together. In fact, Chris Bell's father was a restaurateur, but his place was called the Knickerbocker. And the founder of Taco Bell was named Bell, but he was from Southern California, not Memphis, and was apparently no relation.

The Selected Ballads, "Disambiguation of a Bell"

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fifteen cents gets you...

(Via Andrew, who also provides some history.)

Focal points

On Friday afternoon a woman taking an adult education class at the museum accidentally fell into “The Actor,” causing the tear. Officials at the museum said that since the damage did not occur “in the focal point of the composition,” they expected that the repair would be “unobtrusive,” according to a statement released on Sunday.

From the Parkives: Fiction about falling into artwork!

* * *

And (via Levi, Thos., James): D&D banned in prison.

* * *

A drawing by Lucian Freud valued at more than $100,000 was accidentally put through a shredder by Sotheby’s in London in 2000. A man tripped over his shoelace on a staircase at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, and managed to shatter three Qing dynasty porcelain vases, as The Guardian reported.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lim-bic system

Dennis Lim's list of his favorite Sundance fiction films of the last decade includes:


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Addendum to last couple of posts

I. Speaking of D&D, two recent fictions of mine—in PEN America and for the Significant Objects project—found me reimagining my RPG past.

II. More small Read Hard reviews! This one's from The Guardian:
It all sounds distractingly kooky, but the Believer's writing is generally sharp, funny and insightful enough to keep you hooked, even when you could have sworn you had no prior interest in Malibu-based 50s surfer gal Gidget or what happened to the guy who invented Dungeons and Dragons.

(That last reference is to Paul La Farge's incredible piece, "Destroy All Monsters.")

III. This is not related to anything: Dennis Lim—the Man Who Never Blogs—is blogging from Sundance!

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The thundering of the dice

My latest Astral Weeks column (all these posts begin with "My latest Astral Weeks column...") looks at Gamer Fantastic, an anthology of stories inspired by gaming, particularly RPGs.
If a rich, well-orchestrated RPG bears similarities to a work of fiction, what happens when a work of fiction is about an RPG? The answer, in the anthology "Gamer Fantastic" edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes (DAW: 310 pp., $7.99), is something akin to vertigo. Despite the goofy cover (a kid giddily wielding a Nintendo handset, planet exploding in the background), "Gamer Fantastic" is more about this blurring between RPGs and reality than remote-control video mayhem. The brisk opener, Chris Pierson's "Escapism," manages a clever twist on the character of the first-person-shooter-obsessed teen, but most of the other 12 stories here involve significantly lower technology. As with writing stories, the games in question are primarily built of words -- albeit with oddly shaped dice thundering in the background.
I also give a nod to my current home page—James Maliszewski's Grognardia.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

I just had a hot everything with cream cheese

"Narrative non-fiction is always enlivened by descriptions of what food everyone's eating."
Steve Hely

The reviews are trickling in...

At last, some notices for the Believer anthology, Read Hard!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Details, details


A Manhattan criminal court case against two women charged with prostitution may be in jeopardy after defense lawyers argued on Tuesday that the prosecution erroneously used the word “and” instead of “or” in the charging document filed in court. —NYT, City Room blog

(from Jane)


In October, Tammie Townsend of Golden Valley, Minn., bought the 2007 Chrysler Pacifica that she had been leasing for two years. She signed the papers to convert the lease to a sale, agreeing to pay $11,639, or about $6,000 less than the car’s Blue Book value, James Eli Shiffer wrote in The Minneapolis Star Tribune on Saturday.

And there’s the rub. Walser Chrysler says that the price was “an administrative error,” The Star Tribune reported. The dealership contacted Ms. Townsend two weeks after the purchase to say that it wanted an additional $7,000 or she needed to return the car.
—Dealer Sues Woman to Cancel "Good Deal," NYT


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Poignancy at 6:45

Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.

After nature

Sebald: A fragrance for men.


Monday, January 18, 2010

The worst haircut...

Who is this?

Read on at Termite Art.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010


Great Eno interview (oxymoron?) at the Guardian:

On Frank Zappa

"Zappa was important to me because I realised I didn't have to make music like he did. I might have made a lot of music like he did if he had not done it first and made me realise that I did not want to go there. I did not like his music but I am grateful that he did it. Sometimes you learn as much from the things you don't like as from the things you do like. The rejection side is as important as the endorsement part. You define who you are and where you are by the things that you know you are not. Sometimes that's all the information you have to go on. I'm not that kind of person. You don't quite know where you are but you find yourself in the space left behind by the things you've rejected."

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Original of Pistachio

"I want the kind of synaesthesia where I experience people as different flavors of ice cream." —Magic Molly

(I need a better headline.)


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The first and the last

A Lover’s Almanac is performative, dizzying, richly layered, like some fabulous brocade. By the time The Rags of Time emerges, the writing has taken a long journey, through the bittersweet and intoxicating Big As Life, through the sad rich quiet of The Silver Screen. Each volume succeeds in transforming its season into something foreign, unknown. And, like the seasons, each book expands and alters the stories that came before it. Because the seasons are cyclical instead of linear, this is, potentially, an infinite process. At the end of the forth book I wanted to begin all over again-I wanted to revise my reading with re-reading. What could the first volume say about the last? What could the early lives tell me about the later ones?

—Emily Austin on Maureen Howard's The Rags of Time, in The Faster Times

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Only in New York, kids...

...only in New York!

From Jason Polan's Every Person in New York

(via MUG)

(Here's Jason Polan's rendering of moi from last year, which I don't think I've posted here...)

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Laugh o' the Day™

Clunky lyrics are everywhere, undoing some of the progress Omarion has made. The otherwise lovely “Speedin’,” Omarion’s most convincing song here, takes its car imagery a little too seriously: “I called AAA/They said they on the way.” —Jon Caramanica, NYT


Variations on original sin

At The Unarchivable, I've put up a footnoteless version of my American Fantastic Tales cento. Sample paragraph:

Aside from my teaching, I had for some years been engaged in various anthropological projects with the primary ambition of articulating the significance of the clown figure in diverse cultural contexts. I was interested in original sin and had dabbled in esoteric philosophy; my remote ancestors had been Salem witches. I owed the formation of my character chiefly to accident. I shall not pretend to determine in what degree I was credulous or superstitious. I shall tell you what occurred, and let you judge for yourself.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Thunderbolts of Joy

Interesting Jonathan Richman tape. (Better title: Fire Walk With Me?)


Friday, January 08, 2010

Sonic youth

Read and listen to Space: 1999.

(Space: 1970, via Grognardia)

And you can quote me on that

The company’s FluoroXprene offering can be formulated as either a thermoplastic vulcanizate or thermoplastic elastomer. The material acts similar to a high-end Santoprene—the TPV/TPE designed by Advanced Elastomer Systems L.P. and now owned by ExxonMobil—said Ed Park, Freudenberg-NOK senior staff chemist and FluoroXprene developer. —Rubber News


Thursday, January 07, 2010


2009 Flaming Lips & Stardeath and White Dwarfs - Borderline from George Salisbury on Vimeo.

(Via Art)


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Podcast of the century

Is this...Fresh Air?

What's going Ahn

Priscilla Ahn - Living In A Tree from The Mighty Fifty on Vimeo.


Name of the week

"Oksana Draj-Xmara."


Do you mind?


Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Baudelairean quasi-Ouroboros:

At once both tail and head, alternating and reciprocal... Cut out any vertebra and the two pieces of this serpentine fantasy will easily rejoin. Chop it into many fragments and you will see how each is able to exist apart. Hoping some of these stumps will be lively enough to please and amuse you, I make bold to dedicate to you the entire snake.

(via Andrew, whose Paparazzo podcasts will make you giddy.)

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Monday, January 04, 2010

January Believer

The first Believer of 2010 is out! Epic John D'Agata piece on Las Vegas, Robert Ito on weird Japanese folk tales, Sarah Weinman on Don Carpenter! Aleksander Hemon talks to Colum McCann? (Yes.) Francis Ford Coppola talks to Ruth Reichl? (Yes.) Plus Chris Bachelder, Jack Pendarvis, Meehan Crist on a chapbook from the early ’70s, Justin Taylor on the Momus novel, Greil Marcus, and much more!

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Night writing

Not to be missed: Rachel Aviv's "Listening to Braille" in today's Times magazine—a fascinating and genuinely profound piece on Braille, literacy, and technology.

Here's just one of many good bits—an excerpt of a fictional story written by a 16-year-old "who didn’t use Braille but rather composed on a regular keyboard and edited by listening to [his] words played aloud":

He looked in the house windo that was his da windo his dad was walking around with a mask on he took it off he opend the windo and fell on his bed sleeping mark took two bombs and tosed them in the windo the popt his dad lept up but before he could grab the mask it explodedhe fell down asleep.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Beautiful Cheerleader Develops Dystonia

At Moving Image Source, writers chime in with their favorite moving-image moments of 2009. I wrote about this:


Reality vs. "Fantasy"

You don't even have to read all of it: Jon Caramanica's "348 Best Reality Television Shows of the 00s."

Reality is over! Time for "fantasy"!

Friday, January 01, 2010

First Ouroboros of the Decade

"The whole prospect, of course, is tantamount to a snake eating its tail (and doing a very uninteresting job of it to boot)": Meghan Daum on top 10 lists. (L.A. Times)

Bonus Ouroboros here.


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