Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Teachings of Parkus Grammaticus — Stray Thoughtz™

From yesterday's lesson:

Donald Keene: “I grew interested in the Orient and one day I bought a translation of the Japanese story ‘Tale of Genji’ in the Hotel Astor bookstore in Times Square, only because it was so cheap — two volumes for 49 cents. And that’s how I got hooked on Japanese literature.”

From my groundbreaking piece "Minor Poets, Major Works":

Thought: Maybe it’s the remainder tables that secretly move the culture forward. Up-and-coming writers, strapped for cash and dismissive of the books that are being published and getting noticed, gravitate toward these steam tables of overlooked lit, these shallow arks of the minor. I used to work in an office near St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York, and would drop in at least once a week. Cheaper than the new releases, even than most of the literary journals, were the remainders on the table in the back, which is where I first discovered John Ashbery and James Schuyler’s A Nest of Ninnies.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury—I rest my case.


Stray thought: The Sabres lost the other night to the Flyers at...the Wells Fargo Center! Not the Spectrum! The change happened in 1996, so obviously I haven't been following hockey, really, but...still...

Anyway, this morning I read that Oakland Stadium is going to be called...OVERSTOCK.COM COLISEUM. (More here.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alphabetical Asia

He [Donald Keene] was born in 1922 in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and attended James Madison High School where, because of alphabetical seating, he became friends with a young man at a nearby desk named Lee, who was Chinese.

“I grew interested in the Orient and one day I bought a translation of the Japanese story ‘Tale of Genji’ in the Hotel Astor bookstore in Times Square, only because it was so cheap — two volumes for 49 cents. And that’s how I got hooked on Japanese literature.” —"Columbia Professor's Retirement Is Big News in Japan," NYT

(Via Jenny)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Invisible stories

Throwing away files—this is from 11-4-04:

In my dream I had come across a book of short stories, the titles of which included: "Wait Till You Have Children," "A Short, Painful Stab to the Heart," and "This Apartment Is Not a Hotel."


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Annals of facial hair (NHL edition): The talisman

Boyle said Monday that he was not really trying to impress anyone with his mustache, but was aiming to resemble the swashbuckling guy on Captain Morgan rum bottles. With one notable exception, his teammates are much less enamored of mustaches than Boyle.

“I’ve just got to get more guys on board,” Boyle, 26, said. “I just can’t grow a beard. This is all I’ve got.”

But a black mustache is about as much facial hair as the 24-year-old Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky can muster, too. And now Dubinsky’s mustache is being regarded by the Rangers as a talisman after they beat the Washington Capitals, 3-2, on Sunday to narrow the best-of-seven series to two games to one with Game 4 scheduled for Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.


Dubinsky is a young player on a relatively young team that relied on its energy and resourcefulness to squeeze into the playoffs. Kind of like his mustache, his goal Sunday was no thing of beauty, but it counted as much as a pinpoint snap shot.

—Dave Caldwell, "Rangers Follow the Mustachioed in the Playoffs," NYT

Labels: ,

Advertising age

Today, James at Grognardia reflects:
When I entered the hobby, if you played a science fiction game, you either played Traveller or Space Opera. I was a Traveller man back then, so Space Opera was one of those games I noticed on game store shelves and whose ads and articles I saw in the pages of Dragon but which I never actually played.
I've already written about how I didn't actually play D&D that much (though I was fascinated by the rulebooks), but I have such strong memories of reading the ads in Dragon—for games I'd never play, for games that I'd never even seen on the shelves. I'm coming to believe that, in their unavailability—shall we call it invisibility?—they were as fascinating to me as the few games (D&D, Gamma World, Top Secret, a few others) that I did play.

Part of the fun of reading Grognardia is that James (who I gather is around my age) will frequently review a game that I recall seeing ads for in Dragon: Bushido (RPG of feudal Japan), Superhero 2044, et al. It's like hearing the other half of a conversation that got broken off decades ago.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekend Disambiguation: From the Archives

A pretty funny joke-string!

Labels: ,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Front-table brethren

Levi on Jonathan Coe's The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim:

[...]Coe unexpectedly transforms The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim from a good, diverting book, into a an amazing one, making a decision so daring, yet so effective, that I still can't quite believe it....Coe's ability to use complicated structure and narrative game-playing not to show off but to flesh out his thematic concerns is one of his his greatest gifts (see The Winshaw Legacy)--but it is also his riskiest habit as an author....In this new novel, the risk Coe takes is even more striking, and, while I expect there will be a lot of disagreement about this, I think it works, brilliantly.

If you've not tried Coe...start with The Rotters Club. But do eventually find your way to Maxwell Sim, if for no other reason than that it's daring, and wholly distinct from its front-table brethren--and surely daring and distinction should be rewarded?

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Burn after reading

[...] Far from seeing the decline of wargaming, the 1980s should have been its golden age.

Why didn't it happen? What went wrong?

One theory is that wargames just got too complex. The earliest Avalon Hill and SPI games were simple; a gaming novice picking up STALINGRAD in 1964 could have taught himself to play it, perhaps with a little difficulty, since even that was far more complex than mass-market offerings like MONOPOLY. But a novice picking up WAR IN EUROPE in 1980, or ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER in 1985 would be completely at a loss.SQUAD LEADER is perhaps the ideal illustration of the trend; the original John Hill game was simple enough to be accessible, and sold in excess of 200,000 copies, making it the best-selling wargame of all time. Over time, Avalon Hill published expansion upon expansion, turning it into a game of rococo complexity, culminating with the release of ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER, a game so complex than one could teach college-level courses in its play, so convoluted that its developer, Don Greenwood, felt compelled to include such minutiae as the Kindling Availability Table and the Sewer Emergence Chart. —"SPI Died for Your Sins"


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Disambiguations™ for the evening of April 13, 2011

I. In the NYT, about a restaurant-in-progress called Brushstroke:

“What we are doing is Kyoto-style, seasonal; there are 20 seasons in Kyoto."

II. Books do furnish a room (from the same piece):

The walls of the bar and lounge area are covered with stacks of old paperback books, more than 20,000 of them, with their page ends, not their spines, showing, making them look like slabs of wood.

III. First dialogue exchange in upcoming highly praised thriller:

"I've heard you're very skilled in the treatment of acute trauma," says Linna.
"Yes," says Erik.

(NO..., says Ed.)

Labels: , ,


Click for exciting movement.



Monday, April 11, 2011

The pistachio prescription

Real press release:

This season, the folks at Paramount have put their “Wonderful Pistachios” in 11 ballparks, including Petco (Padres), Fenway (Red Sox), Citi (Mets), Citizens Bank (Phillies), Great American (Reds) and Dodger Stadium.

“A baseball fan is used to having a nut in his or her hand,” said Dominic Engels, vice president of global marketing for Paramount. “We’re presenting them with the pistachio, which they might not have thought of before.”

(From Jane)

Labels: , ,


This Tuesday (4/12) I'll be reading at KGB's nonfiction night with Deb Olin Unferth, author of the new memoir Revolution. Doors open at 7—KGB is at 85 East 4th St.

(The KGB site mysteriously renders her surname "Unsworth," but don't let that fool you—she's the same DOU who sometimes pops up in The Believer.)

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The calculus affair

Via Sal, some excerpts from the blog The Musings of a Modern Hygienist

Back to reality. While I loved Hawaii, I really missed my kids and am glad to be home I always wonder what I missed with patients when I am gone. Apparently, in my absence, I missed seeing one of the largest pieces of calculus ever found in the mouth still attached to a tooth. Luckily, Dr. Sutton knew that I would want to see it, so he saved it for me. I kid you not-in a disposable cup with water. I witnessed a piece of something that measured at least 1 inch by 1/2 inch attached to an extracted tooth.

At first, I thought it was part of the alveolar bone, but after closer examination, sure enough, it was calculus.

As most hygienists know, pineapple is very acidic. Here's a little suggestion for anyone going to Hawaii: If you plan to eat lots of pineapple, plan for canker sores on your tongue. Luckily, I packed a small bottle of Peridex in my suitcase!

In this spiraling economy, many people have to look at new careers to stay employed.
One hygienist has accepted a job at the coroner's office in her town, working as a forensic technician. I actually think that would be very interesting.

The Idaho Dental Hygienists Association will be having its 45th annual session October 3rd and 4th. The theme is "Better Together."

I really think that with the direction of dentistry and dental hygiene, IDHA couldn't have made a better choice for the theme. The quote on the program-"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much"- is from Helen Keller.

We are very lucky to have the nationally recognized speaking group "Earth, Wind and Fire" come to Boise for our meeting. The group consists of Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH; Debra Grant, RDH; and Beth Thompson, RDH. Their topic will be Better Together: Tomorrow's Dentistry Today. I have personally come to know each one of these ladies at different conferences I have attended, so believe me when I say we are really in for a treat.

Today, there was a wrap up session that included an original play by Anne Guignon regarding ethical dilemmas in the dental office. What a hoot!

I am finally home and things are settling down after a summer of traveling. It's really good to be home and back at work.

While out of the office, there were hygienists filling in for me. Being a little obsessive compulsive, I had to take a deep breath when I found things put away, but not in the exact place I had left them. I prefer the toothbrushes all facing the same way and the floss samples in neat little rows. Admittedly, these little things really don't matter to a normal person. The most important concern was how my patients did without me. Of course, they did fine—but they missed me!

It's good to be back.

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Shelf life

Nearly everybody smoked back then, and very few were attentive housekeepers. Drugs in particular caused many to lose track of key details. Take, for example, the couple on the third floor with the boa. They loved their boa, loved feeding it mice, loved the sight of its glistening scales wrapping around a table leg—but drugs made them distracted. They neglected their biweekly purchase of mice for long enough that the snake was driven to find his meals elsewhere. One day he just disappeared. Had he been stolen? Had he chosen to join the alligators in the sewers? The question was answered definitively a few months later. On the ground floor, a tenant, going to brush his teeth first thing in the morning, opened his medicine cabinet—and very nearly had a heart attack when the boa rippled over the shelf from a hole in the wall. To my mind, this illustrated an important principle of apartment living: What goes around comes around, although it may very well hit your neighbor instead. —Luc Sante, "My Dealing, Stealing, Squealing Neighbors," New York

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Write this down


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The connections, vol. XXVI

At "Weekend Update," he said he was "doing a specific experiment, where I was trying to strip all cleverness from the joke and try to make it as blunt as possible." He added, "I always told everybody the perfect joke would be where the setup and punchline were identical."
—Norm Macdonald in the New York Times today

When I was younger, the main struggle was to be a “good writer.” Now I more or less take my writing abilities for granted, although this doesn’t mean I always write well. And, by a wide margin, I’ve never felt less self- consciously preoccupied with language than I did when I was writing Freedom. Over and over again, as I was producing chapters, I said to myself, “This feels nothing like the writing I did for twenty years—this just feels transparent.” … I was admittedly somewhat conscious that this was a good sign—that it might mean that I was doing something different, pressing language more completely into the service of providing transparent access to the stories I was telling and to the characters in those stories. But it still felt like a leap into the void.
—Jonathan Franzen in The Paris Review

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, April 03, 2011

O tempura, O monkeys!

I. Yellowfront Manor, Brooklyn edition:

(The other two Y.M.s are here.)

(Photo by F.S. Caroline.)

II. Jane Yeh's new poem is featured on Like Starlings. The title is so good, I can't say it here. OK, I'll say it:

"Sherlock Holmes on the Trail of the Abominable Snowman"!

It reads like the best cryptic crossword you've never solved. Here's the second stanza:

6. Time for acrobatic whitewashing of someone's back story
7. Settled how to prune the epistemological topiary
8. O tempura, O monkeys
9. Himalayan word for mishegoss, or a type of pasta
10. Behind the scenes at the prickly ambassador's ball


Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Title of the year?

Joshua Harmon's Le Spleen de Poughkeepsie

Labels: ,

View My Stats