Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Say you're watching one of the Law & Order shows. And you think, "Hey, is that Vincent Spano?" With today's modern computers, the answer is at the touch of a button. Pretty soon you can say, "Probably not," or "Maybe," or "Hmm, I don't know. But at least I tried!" It's a great feeling, thanks to the modern computers we enjoy today.
Tonight on Veronica Mars, some dude stole Veronica's necklace and I was like, Oh no you didn't! And Veronica was like, You're gonna regret that, buddy. And in my brain I was thinking, I know that's right! Veronica Mars will crack the case!
Monday, October 30, 2006
It's embarrassing, really, the number of requests we've received here in the Pendarvis Building about gathering all my "hints" and "tips" on "blogging" into one "post" for handy reference. I've had some truly heartrending communiques from young men and women who tell me how my "cutting edge" approach to "blogging" has changed their lives. I always tell them, "Heck. It's just plain old common sense." And that blows their minds! Here they are, then, by popular demand, with "links" provided to put them into their original perspective - in this matter I am a strict constructionist! - The Nine "Blog"mandments: 1. Simply "click" on a highlighted word or phrase to be sent to a "link." 2. The internet is full of information. Check it out. 3. Check your favorite "blog" often or you might miss something. 4. It's okay for friends to disagree! 5. Remember: Cyclopes is the plural of Cyclops. 6. Life is not always about "blogs"! 7. Ask yourself before "blogging": How would Webern "blog"? 8. Get some Webern! 9. Use the word "blog" to create new words containing the word "blog." Think of the Smurfs and you will know what to do.
Now that Jeff McNeil has moved on from the "blog," he has more time for actual writing. He sent a wire to the "blog" a few days ago asking for some particular writing advice. I gave him my writing advice. McNeil then explained, via semaphore, that he wanted not MY advice, but that of the kind of person who reads my "blog." I suppose you know who you are! What McNeil wishes to ascertain, in short, is this: having printed out several copies of his novel, should he send the copies directly to publishers? Or would agents be more appropriate targets? Or should he, perhaps, send half the copies to publishers and half to agents? Well?
Just talked to a nice person at my publisher. She's still upset about the "blog," because "most of it" is about comic books, and I'm alienating the American reading public! I told her that only 15 or so "posts" out of 65 or so had anything to do with comic books, but she contended that nontheless, just by mentioning comic books at all, I had "tainted" her "blogging" enjoyment - and, implicitly, the gossamer soul of our nation itself. Her final suggestion was that I get off the phone and make up something "funny" for the "blog." Time to put on my thinking cap!
Just sitting here in my pajamas listening to some Webern, as I hear is all the "rage" for today's sassy young "bloggers." And I was thinking, how would Anton Webern go about this "blogging" business? My guess is that he would "blog" selectively! Look into his compositional techniques and I think you'll agree. I mean, look (illustration, left). That's a fairly naked page! I'm not sure about the meaning of those free-floating whole notes at the bottom, but I'm not as smart as I used to be. In any case, here's today's "blogging" tip: Always ask yourself: "How would Webern 'blog'?" If you like, you can put it in handy acronym form (HWWB?)! Bonus tip: Go out and get some Webern! You can listen to a whole symphony in about ten minutes... a must for today's busy "soccer mom."
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I read "Young Goodman Brown" today, and it should go in our imaginary anthology, but the trouble is, it's already in so many REAL anthologies. Also, Hawthorne is really Theresa's territory. I remember a great paper she wrote, somehow entwining "Young Goodman Brown" with the Dean Martin movie KISS ME, STUPID. Speaking of which, those sad words "the 'blog' will be 'down' for a few days" are not far off... next week Theresa will be speaking about Hawthorne at the Literature/Film Association Annual Conference up in the Baltimore area, so that means more times of "blogless" reflection for all of us. Which brings us to today's "blogging" tip: Life is not always about "blogs"!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I'm okay, folks! I haven't "blogged" in a while because of "bloglems," which is a catchy word I just made up to desribe "problems" with a "blog." Anyway, I'm sorry to say you've missed out on quite a few musings. For example, at one point I had a song stuck in my head, and I tried to share that fact with the world, only to be defeated by "bloglems." The title of that absent "post": "There's a Song Stuck In My Head." Is it, as some brash souls in the Pendarvis Building have theorized, a loss akin to the missing plays of Sophocles? We must leave it to history to judge.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Earlier tonight, Theresa and I ended up hanging out with philosophers. Real 100% bona fide philosophers. They're just like you and me! We had fun talking about all sorts of things - they were witty, cultured, and kind - but it was especially nice to sit back and listen to them cracking wise about their profession. These particular philosophers were hilarious on the subject of Heidegger's fat face, which one of them memorably described as looking like marzipan and liver. Someone else said, "It's like he's a prostitute with a heart of gold, and inside that heart of gold is a piece of sh_t." They sure had it in for Heidegger! And let's face it, he had it coming, I think you know what I'm talking about. Plotinus, on the other hand, sounded like a nice dude to go to the ballgame with, just as I had always expected. Then our new philosopher friends started in on some guy named Hama-mama (an approximation of the actual name, which I can't recall, but which DID sound like a noise that Jackie Gleason would make). Hama-mama is famous for "tearing Derrida a new one," according to one of the philosophers. "It had to be done," said another philosopher. "We all have to do it at some point, to prove we're men." Hama-mama is also kind of put out with democracy, if I'm recalling correctly. But when you see him in person you want to give him a big hug, apparently. That's what I hear! Hama-mama, physically, is an "endearing little creature," I believe someone said. He just hates the world. Hanging out with philosophers! Crazy.
This nugget from reluctant "blog" participant Mark Childress, who always keeps a finger on the cultural pulse: Look who has his very own film festival! We don't mean to make sport... it's just surprising. This has been going on for ten years - TEN YEARS! - and we had no idea.
We'll still hear from Jeff McNeil from time to time, it seems. In a quick call today, McNeil reported coming across some prose by Jerry Lewis, in which Mr. Lewis called Earth "the big round put-on." So world-weary! Do you need more evidence that Jerry Lewis is awesome?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The "blogging" world suffered a devastating loss today when Jeff McNeil received a digital video recorder. McNeil plans to retire from guest-blogging and devote himself full-time to recording old movies off of the satellite TV and watching them over and over. Experts speculate that given Mr. McNeil's viewing habits, he will be recording such films as UNDER THE YUM YUM TREE, starring Jack Lemmon, Dean Jones, and Paul Lynde, and BACHELOR FLAT, starring Terry-Thomas and Tuesday Weld. "The biggest loss," says Jack Pendarvis, "is Jeff's long planned dispatch from the Fun Factory. It's this place on his route. They service broken pinball machines, mechanical ponies and helicopters, and other novelty gadgets from department stores and arcades. From Jeff's past descriptions, I understand that there are mountains of eerie, unclaimed baby pictures in the Fun Factory. They seem to come from a defunct portrait studio. I'd love to find out more. But McNeil's gone. He was our inside man, and now he's gone." McNeil could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Jamie Allen, one of the editors of the quarterly "Duck & Herring Co. Pocket Field Guide," chimes in with Chapter 14 of our series on childhood superhero freakouts and their effect on modern literature. It may be remarked upon with some interest that the autumnal gloom and mystery of Mr. Allen's tale is rivaled only by that of another editor, Mr. Eli Horowitz. What is up with editors? Only time will tell. For now, we turn to the words of Mr. Allen: "There was one [comic book] that stands out in my mind for two reasons. It was a large one, given to me when I was sick, with this magificent cover showing Superman and Shazam facing off - in a fight to the death! The drawing was colorful and the muscles were ripped and I just couldn't understand how Superman and Shazam could fight each other, let alone to the death. This is one reason it stands out; I really liked Superman and could never see him losing any sort of fight, of course, but I also really liked Shazam because he didn't get the respect he deserved in the shadow of Superman, I felt. And so I immediately had a lot at stake in the fight between Superman and Shazam. I think I was using my storytelling brain for one of the first times, because I had all kinds of scenarios worked up before I even opened the thing. And then I opened the thing and it was, you know, the ol' comic book trick where the pictures are not color or even as well drawn. And the storyline just didn't live up to the hype inside my head. This is the second reason I remember this so well. I remember I would allow myself to be fooled by it again and again - I'd see the awesome cover of the comic book, and I'd think, Maybe I missed something? Maybe I wasn't as advanced in my reading the first time I read it? And I would open it again and the same thing - anti-climax." POSTSCRIPT FROM THE "BLOGMASTER": Mr. Allen may be forgiven, considering the rather traumatic circumstances, for forgetting that the character's name is Captain Marvel and "Shazam" merely the magic word he uses to achieve his transformation.
Cornered at this weekend's Southern Foodways Symposium, the eyes of a garrulous Tom Franklin filled with manly moisture as... Okay. Several points. Number one, we realize that we have implied some sort of cornering of Mr. Franklin's eyes, as if they might be cornered apart from Mr. Franklin's body, or face, and that we need to consult the old Strunk and White to see how this matter might best be addressed. Furthermore, we have no idea what garrulous means. We hope it's something nice. What we really mean to say is, How about it, folks? Can you believe we're already on Chapter 13 of our continuing examination of today's finest writers and the comic books they loved as tykes? On the occasion in question, Mr. Franklin recounted his innocent and youthful fascination with the love affair between Green Arrow and Black Canary, the commencement of which indeed stunned the old "blogmaster" himself, when he stumbled across it - if memory serves - in the back pages of an issue of ACTION COMICS. Mr. Franklin's bawdy speculation upon the marital habits of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, however, cannot be reproduced here, but will be offered by the publishing arm of the "blog" as a limited edition "chapbook" bound in plain brown paper.
I hope everyone had fun with the quiz! We certainly received a record number of telegrams here at the Pendarvis Building, so it seems to have struck a nerve in the heartland. The answers are as follows: 3, 6, 7, and 9 were from Ionesco; the remainder were from GREEN ACRES. Congratulations to everyone who guessed correctly! Unfortunately, we can only have one winner. Several "blog" fans pointed out that #9 actually occurred in Ionesco's novel THE HERMIT, rather than one of his plays, as the rules indicated. Kudos! An extra point for all of you! But ONLY Harriet McKeon's whippersnappers at Theodore Christian School noticed the trick "HERMIT" question AND the similarity between Ionesco's play THE BALD SOPRANO (Question #7) and the episode of GREEN ACRES in which Lisa forgets Oliver but remembers Hank Kimball (Alvy Moore, pictured). With that in mind, we congratulate Mrs. McKeon and the entire fifth-grade class... or as we now call them, our "littlest interns"! You should have already received three dozen sacks of mail previously delivered to the Pendarvis Building, anonymous letters which for various reasons must be sorted according to subject matter and turned over to the proper authorities. Have fun!
Monday, October 23, 2006
The Southern Foodways Symposium never ends. That's just one of the great things about the Southern Foodways Symposium. For example, last night, when we got home from the Symposium, we called Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly to thank them for the wonderful stay in their guesthouse. Tom and Beth Ann were on their way to eat a roasted pig by a campfire in somebody's yard. It was kind of a final hurrah for the Symposium, which had officially "ended" that morning. When Theresa and I were on our way home, we stopped for gas somewhere in Alabama and a man and woman got out of their truck and started talking to us about the Symposium! See, it never ends. The man was Tommy Ward of the 13 Mile Oyster Company, who had provided the incredible, beautiful raw oysters we had eaten the night before. And tonight we're cooking a recipe for "Chicken Bog" that we got from the Lee Brothers cookbook. See? It never ends! I met Ted Lee after my panel. Then we saw the brothers later at the mass book signing. Man, that was some book signing. Everybody was eating, even though it was right before the huge oyster supper. Eating and signing and buying books and eating and reading and eating. They had West Indies salad (I just learned this weekend that people who aren't from the Gulf Coast don't know what that is!), sparkling wine and peanut brittle with bacon in it! BEFORE supper! Yes, there was lots of pork with which to reckon. The lunch on Friday included a lemongrass-roasted pork po-boy with crawfish - yes, crawfish! - mashed into condiment form. I'm sure that over the next several days I'll have lots more to say about all the nice people we met and the fine food. Everybody should go to this thing!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Jeff McNeil formatted his recent contribution to the "blog" quite properly and with astonishing deftness and verve. It is the fault of the "blogmaster" alone that it appeared to contain no paragraph breaks. The "blogmaster," it must now be confessed, does not know how to "do" paragraphs on the "internet." The keen observer will note that not a single of this "blog's" many entries is broken into paragraphs. This was not, alas, a decision brought about by artsiness and daring, but evidence of a particular brand of incompetence for which there is no remedy. We deeply regret any damage to Mr. McNeil's reputation as a stylist. On the bright side, those of you with a printer and some scissors can have loads of fun trying to rearrange the piece into its correct layout. Another "fun project" from your friends in the Pendarvis Building!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Hi, everybody! I felt bad leaving you in the "lurch"! So before I go to the symposium to speak on my panel, here is one last dispatch for the "road," this one courtesy of Jeff McNeil, who drives a truck for a large U.S. delivery service. Jeff reports: 5pm: I stop off at this place that's like a Mail Boxes Etc, but they have a name that sounds like a sandwich shop so nobody ever goes in there so, consequently, there's hardly ever anything for me to pick up - which is great! I walk in and ask them about the plane crash. (this is the day the plane crashed into the apt building in NYC) The father and son who work the joint just look at me. -- You guys should get a TV or radio in here or something. -- Then we wouldn't get any work done. I thought they were joking. I've never seen them get off their stools. -- I'm serious. Was that a terrorist plane? Can't you look it up on the internet? -- Well, I'm on the Post Office site right now. -- But did you sign a contract to be on there forever? Can't you open a new window? The son looked at his dad and screwed his face up. The dad shrugged. -- So you don't know anything about the plane crash? -- Somebody said something about it when they came in earlier. The dad said. -- Yeah? Like what? -- Just that a plane hit a building. -- Wow. Okay. So do you have anything for me today? -- Nope. Not today. -- Alright. Well, thanks for all the great information. Ha ha ha. They smiled. I adjusted my suspenders with a snap and left. I'm the only driver at this particular delivery company allowed to wear suspenders because of my accident - which happened on the job - and it's part of the 'reasonable accommodation' clause my lawyer got me as part of my compensation package. They're special suspenders that hold my hips in place, since the accident left me without hip joints. Without the suspenders my hips swivel more freely than Big E's and it freaks people out. NEXT STOP: a distribution warehouse for a large grocery store chain. It's just me and the security guard and a couple of employees passing through on their way out once in a while. First thing I notice is a big pile of boxes and letters, and all of them need labels. I hate that. The security guard comes over. Tells me how tired she is. I tell her that's not a good trait in a security guard. She says she wants to retire. She wants to win the lottery so she won't have to work anymore, or at least get a job at an elementary school in SC, which would be the same thing. I said, uh-huh. Then she walks over to her desk and comes back with a paper in her hand. -- Look at this. -- What? -- Just look at it. My water bill. $195.00. -- That sounds kinda high. -- About $175.00 too high! The toilet was running all month. All month the toilet was running. Can you believe it? -- You didn't hear it? -- We weren't there. We bought the house and then left and didn't go back with our stuff for another month and when we walked in the toilet was running full blast. She walked back to her desk despondent as all get out. -- Now I'll have to go out and buy a bunch of lottery tickets just to try to pay it. Then she started telling me about how she spent $25.00 on scratch-offs and one of them paid $10.00. She called that 'winning'. I loaded up the packages after that and left. Hey, it ain't Rome or Hollywood, but it's America, and it's real, and it's on my route until I get fired. POSTSCRIPT FROM THE "BLOGMASTER": According to Jeff, he explained to the woman that she hadn't really won anything, mathematically speaking, and she called him a "wet blanket."
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I know I've mentioned it before, but the "blog" is shutting down for a few days while the old "blogmaster" heads out to appear on a panel. I've given you plenty to do so you shouldn't get into any trouble while I'm gone. And once you finish the quiz, why not work on your imaginary anthology? Today we're adding a new story to that one: "Do Not Disturb" by A.M. Homes. It's a dilly! We'll keep adding stories until we hit 30 of them. I have ascertained that all good anthologies contain exactly 30 stories. I don't think anyone will bother disputing the fact. Once your special anthology is put together in a tidy fashion, maybe you'll want to work on a haiku or novella for our other imaginary anthology. See? There's no need to get "blue"! You'll be perfectly fine without me. Or, if you just can't stand it, I suppose for your own good you should buy my book to keep you company. But only if it is absolutely medically necessary and prescribed by your doctor. Now dry those eyes.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
A heartbreaking wire from Phil Oppenheim, the brooding curmudgeon whose love of "Gilmore Girls" has long been a sunny respite from his bleak and bitter outlook on the state of modern entertainment. "Shame," reads his telegram in brief. The object of Oppenheim's wagging finger? Yes, the very same "Gilmore Girls." He casts shame upon that which erstwhile brought him his meagre joy! A classically tragic figure, then, this Oppenheim. The mission statement of this "blog" prevents anyone here at the Pendarvis Building from indulging in or perpetrating negativity (or do we mean "perpetuating"? We don't know!), so - despite rumblings of agreement in the mailroom and elsewhere - Oppenheim's statement cannot be elaborated upon here. We merely let it stand.
Well, folks, I'm going out of town again, and I didn't want you to feel lonely. So here's a little "quiz" you can take while I'm gone. Send in your answers, care of the "blog." I'll be giving out a prize for nicest try! All you have to do is guess which of the following scenes can be found in the plays of the great French absurdist Eugene Ionesco and which occurred in the classic American sitcom GREEN ACRES. It's just that simple. P.S.: I just "Googled" for "green acres" + ionesco and got 930 "hits." I guess I'm not so insightful after all! Or I should say, there are lots of insightful people in the world so hooray for us. One of them happens to be hilarious comedic actor Dave Foley, who mentions GREEN ACRES and Ionesco in the same breath in this interview. But that doesn't mean it's "fair game" to use the "internet" to help you win the prize! Let's all be good sports and do it the old-fashioned way, by using our "noggins." Answers will be supplied upon my return. Good luck! 1. A man, described as a cocktail waitress, sits silently under a sheet. 2. A toaster will only respond to the verbal command, "Five!" 3. A clock strikes 17 times. 4. A young man relishes a bowl of hot water. 5. Eggs are square. 6. A man is covered in a mountain of eggs. 7. A married couple do not recognize one another. 8. A man repeatedly and irrationally claims to be another man's son. 9. A tree disappears. 10. It rains inside a house. 11. A man obeys the commands of an unintelligible voice coming from a box.
Jamie Kornegay writes in with encouraging news for our struggling anthology STORIES FROM THE CYCLOPS CAFE. It seems that Mr. Kornegay has run across an actual Cyclops Cafe in Seattle, Washington. You know what this means, friends. We have a place for the reading!
The "blog" drive has been going great, folks. I just want to thank all the volunteers who have been working their "behinds" off to find proper "blogging" material. Special "kudos" to longtime "blog" friend Kent Osborne, who has generously donated a portion of his OWN hard-earned "blog" for use on THIS "blog"! An offer of a kidney could hardly be greeted with more pleasure and gratitude. I have decided to quote the part that doesn't have cussing or bad activities in it. Now let's hear from Kent: "ok, so let's see, friday night i went to see THE DEPARTED with gareth and six (6) other bunkdancers. wow, what a turnout! we wanted to see it at the VISTA, but that was closed for a special screening, so unfortunately we had to go to the GROVE which is an alright place to see a movie, but it took an hour to get a table at the cheesecake factory and by the time our food came we only had like 5 minutes to get next door and find seats. i blame my good friend scott (partly because he's never on myspace, but mostly because it was TOTALLY his fault) anyway, (i don't feel bad about sleeping with his mother anymore, that's for sure) uh, let's see...i thought the movie was AWESOME." The savvier reader will note that I have left in one hint of bad activity, i.e., Kent's saucy implication of hanky-panky with a friend's silver-haired old dam. But Kent lives out in Hollywood, where such things are considered not only natural, but mandatory. None of this quibbling can negate the sheer charitable spirit with which Kent has given so freely of his "blog." I don't mean to embarrass him through my repeated touting of his virtues! But you see, on "myspace," where Kent's "blog" was originally posted, only specially registered "chums" of Kent are allowed to see his "blog." But now, thanks to newfangled technology and old-fashioned sharing, you can see it right here without filling out gloomy and debilitating "internet" forms which go directly into the wall safe of "myspace" owner Rupert Murdoch, who I am sure is a very nice man. Kent's "blog" went on to describe a party he attended with some people from Wisconsin. Details are forthcoming, as soon as the team has inspected them for profanity!
Monday, October 16, 2006
You people think I'm kidding but I'm not. I just don't know how long the "blog" can sustain itself. It needs to be fed a constant diet of items about comic books and comic strips, donuts, the fabled Cyclops of yore, Jerry Lewis, "Gilmore Girls," classy fiction (pictured), clog dancing, and Rome - not to mention my crass self-promotion, which is not your responsibility. Heck, I'd even take another item about soccer, seeing as how both of those were pretty scintillating, even though I'm not a big sports fan. Still it makes me feel kind of manly, having it on my "blog." All I'm saying is, use your imagination. Do you live somewhere interesting like Rome or Ohio? Do you eat donuts or enjoy folk dances? Did you used to live in Japan or do graffiti art? Do you know how to "scratch" on a vinyl LP? Did you ever have to carry an "amp" up a flight of stairs for a "gig"? Do you work somewhere? A hospital, maybe? An ice cream parlor? I bet your tales of daily life would fit right in on my "blog"! These things don't cut-and-paste themselves, people. It's time to come together as a nation.
A scarcity of "bloggables" continues to plague the "blogging" community. Today, right here in the Pendarvis Building, the tickertape machines have remained ominously silent. Nothing has come through on the subject of the Cyclops, or donuts, or any of the team's favorite topics. Small compensation last night as Theresa and I watched Martin and Lewis in LIVING IT UP on TCM... not quite the film to convert the skeptical into the Jerry fold. Later, calmer Jerry with less high-pitched screeching... THE ERRAND BOY, for example... that's the way to go. And in LIVING IT UP, Dino's role is noticably smaller than Jerry's, to the film's detriment. Though Janet Leigh looks lovely and fresh in some smart frocks. Yes, friends, this is what "blogging" has come to. Only you can help.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
We were sad at the "blog" to hear that Freddy Fender has passed away. Theresa chipped in with my sister and folks to get me a new turntable for my birthday a few months ago. For whatever reason, the first thing Theresa and I dug out to play was an old Freddy Fender record. His voice just goes with crackling vinyl... so odd, lonesome and mysterious, kind of like a coyote. We miss you, Freddy Fender!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
It has come to my attention through my powerful connections in the world of "blogging" that some of you cannot see the Harryhausen Cyclops whose whimsical capering so blithely illustrates the previous post. Perhaps the problem involves computers! It's delightful, really, the way I did it, it looks as if the bemused Cyclops is peering down at what I have written about him. Simply delightful! Well, don't feel left out. I'm going to try to add a completely different Cyclops picture to THIS "posting." There are plenty of Cyclopes to go around! Today's "blogging" tip: "Cyclopes" is the plural of "Cyclops." Tell your friends! And enjoy the Cyclops.
Speaking of Jeff McNeil, some of our "blogging" interns recently ran across a bit of his ourvre on the old information super highway, as we like to call it here at the "blog." It really took us back, folks, to our pre-"blogging" days, when Jamie Kornegay and your humble "blogmaster" conceived of an anthology of short stories dealing exclusively with that mythical beast the Cyclops. The anthology - which, due to the circumstances of our meeting, as co-authors in the STORIES FROM THE BLUE MOON CAFE series, Jamie and I wanted to call STORIES FROM THE CYCLOPS CAFE, because we are pretty lazy at titles and tend, I suppose, to grab whatever is nearest, speaking for myself, of course - never came to pass. But Jeff's story did, as well as a piece that ended up in my first story collection (thank you, "Find and Replace" function!). As for Jamie, he tried to call his new bookstore "Cyclops Books" until his wife Kelly put her foot down in favor of the slightly more mellifluous Turnrow Book Co. Feel free to submit stories about the Cyclops, care of the "blog." If you want to know how to write a story about a Cyclops, just take an old story (make sure it's one of your own!) and "Find" a particular word, mechanistically "Replacing" it with the word "Cyclops." Just remember, you will never be paid and the anthology will never exist in the real world... only in the mythical land of mystical dreams! One final word of advice: We're talking about a Ray Harryhausen kind of Cyclops (pictured), not the superhero Cyclops, as was the mistaken impression of Tom Bissell, who was on the same sunny porch on the day that the Cyclops anthology was conceived... and forgotten.
Exciting news here at the "blog," folks! We already have an honorable mention to award in our current caption contest. It seems that Caroline Young has correctly identified the site of the photo in question as "beneath a sculpture by a Belgian at the Burning Man Festival." Right you are, Caroline! Ms. Young's telegram goes on to say that she has heard the sculpture referred to as "The Belgian Waffle," whereas Caroline has always thought it to resemble, rather, "The Belgian Donut Hole," by which name she has secretly called it in the recesses of her brain. This, of course, ties in with our peculiar fascination with donuts here in the Pendarvis Building. So naturally an honorable mention was in order though, truth be told, Ms. Young did not provide a caption of any kind. Don't worry, gang, there's still plenty of time to wire in your entries - and plenty more honorable mentions to go around! Say, all this talk of donuts reminds us: Last week, Jeff McNeil - a frequent contributor to the "blog" - started a new route in the course of his duties with a major U.S. delivery service. It seems as if the donut shop on Jeff's old route bade him a fond farewell with a free lemon jelly donut. You see, folks, good things still happen in this nutty world of ours!
Friday, October 13, 2006
In an arbitrary move which should be of no interest to anyone, a few months ago I decided to read one short story a day for a year... just one story per day, no more, no less, each by a different author. You mathematicians will have no trouble discerning the magnitude of my project: 365 stories by 365 different writers. Today I read story #65, "The Stick" by Kobo Abe, translated by Lane Dunlop. It was a real winner! It was so good that I ran out and bought Kobo Abe's novel, THE BOX MAN, which is about a guy with a box on his head in Tokyo. Now that's what I'm talking about! Anyway, it occurred to me that this is the kind of thing that people "blog" about. It's an exciting and titillating way to read: for example, now I want to read EVERY short story by Aimee Bender and Lorrie Moore... but now I have to wait until the year is up, or I'll be cheating! Well, I decided to do a little audit, and I discovered that I want to reread (for the umpteenth time in some cases, though I have tried to stick mostly to stories with which I'm unfamiliar) exactly 20 of the stories (so far) when my self-imposed literary exile is over. Here are those stories: "The Jelly-Bean" by F. Scott Fitzgerald; "Starving Again" by Lorrie Moore; "Feathers" by Raymond Carver; "The Calmative" by Samuel Beckett; "Up, Aloft in the Air" by Donald Barthleme; "So! I've Got You" by Robert Walser; "The Case of the Salt and Pepper Shakers" by Aimee Bender; "Uncle High Lonesome" by Barry Hannah; "Gloomy Tune" by Grace Paley; "Peasant Women" by Anton Chekhov (tr. by Richard Pevar and Larissa Volokhonsky); "Old Mr. Marblehall" by Eudora Welty; "Animals in Our Lives" by Tom Bissell; "Now I Lay Me" by Ernest Hemingway; "Hidden Ball Inside a Song" by Ben Marcus; "Say Yes" by Tobias Wolff; "Winky" by George Saunders; "The Adventures of King Dong" by Jonathan Baumbach; "Train" by Joy Williams; "Water-Message" by John Barth; "The Stick" by Kobo Abe. Now all you have to do is buy 20 books, each containing one of the above stories, find a Xerox machine and a stapler, draw yourself an imaginative cover on a piece of construction paper, and pretty soon you'll have an anthology edited and with an introduction by me (this is the introduction)! As an appendix you'll want to include the story "How it Floods" by Pia Z. Ehrhardt. The day I met her and heard her read, I was compelled to seek out one of her stories... though it violated my little obsessive-compulsive arrangement, as I had already read my "one" story for that day. Well, my friend Beth Ann told me only a jerk would write a book about this kind of exercise, and she was right! I've seen those books in the store and passed them by disdainfully! But I think it's okay to "blog" about. Okay, everyone, get cracking on your anthologies! I'm giving a prize for the best cover.
I forgot to mention that the photograph below is the subject of this week's caption contest. Please send in your entry - by TELEGRAM ONLY - on or before July 14, 2012. One entry per "blog" reader. The prize, as always, is a three-month internship at the "blog," now including sleeping quarters. Entries will be judged on piquancy and tact. NO SMUT.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Kent Osborne (left) called just now to say that he "blogged" about me today. So, in the spirit of reciprocity, I just thought I would remind everyone about Kent's enticing comic strip. Oh, how we enjoy running back and forth from our phones to our computers, "blogging" and "phoning" about "blogging," and giggling all along with unabashed glee!
Y'all should go by the Dalton Gallery on the campus of Agnes Scott College, anytime between now and Nov. 20. They've put a nice show on the walls there, and were kind enough to ask me to participate. The work of several "Southern" writers has been placed in elegant little folders that you can take down and read. The writing part of the show is also on computers. I was trying to read the Roy Blount, Jr., piece and I did something bad to the computer and I was pretty sure I had broken the art. Then Theresa came over and fixed it. There are CD listening stations, too. I listened to a song by one of my favorite bands, Hubcap City. I'm missing their "gig" at A Cappella Books right now this very "blogging" minute, because I can only do one activity per day. Any more and I get the vapors. There was also some art at the art show! I greatly admired the vibrant paintings of Linda Anderson. The paper on the wall said they were meant to evoke her Southern childhood, but I saw lots of tigers and pandas with worried faces. They were cool! And you should definitely go into the room that contains what I like to call The Awesome Glass Bricks of Mystery. I forgot to check what it's really called, or who did it, but you really have to see it. You'll know what I'm talking about! You'll thank me! Hey, all this talk of art makes me think of a delightful anecdote of the kind that goes on a "blog." I had forcefully recommended the movie WEEKEND by Jean-Luc Godard (pictured) to my friend Mike Mitchell (you can see three of Mike's own movies on this "link"). The next time I called, Mike said he had watched the Godard. "What did you think?" I said. "Too much artsy, not enough fartsy," said Mike. Today's "blogging" tip: It's okay for friends to disagree!
Key members of the "blogging" team report taking a pleasant walk with Caroline Young (left) of Cabbagetown, GA, today. In her girlhood, Caroline was part of the Smoke Rise Cloggers, an unorthodox "clogging" team, the adventures of which came up during today's eventful walk. Caroline would "clog," she informs the "blog," with her partner "Pres" to the strains of Donna Summers' disco album LIVE AND MORE. "Clogging" came to Caroline's mind recently, when she ran into "Pres" at her high school reunion. A new neighbor of "Pres," a former "clogger" herself (we'll call her Betty), had sought to humiliate "Pres" not too long ago, by putting pictures of "Pres," as a boy dressed for "clogging," in all his other neighbors' mailboxes. Caroline was a bit bewildered that "Pres" and Betty apparently viewed their "clogging" days with shame. Caroline recalled "clogging" as "a healthy, non-drug-induced high." During the typical performance, Caroline would reportedly do a handstand, after which "Pres" would grab her by the feet and swing her over his shoulders. Mid-air splits were involved as well. The "clogging" coach, we'll call her Madame X, insisted that her "cloggers" be the absolute physical elite of the student body, and stressed the importance of the Presidential Fitness Test. Madame X, who, in Caroline's words, had a "severe Toni Tenille haircut and painted-on eyebrows" stood below and screamed epithets as Caroline clung to the bar, straining to keep her chin above it, thereby to meet the President's rigorous requirements. The Smoke Rise Cloggers caused trouble wherever they went through their heretical "clogging" techniques, such as lifting their legs too high in the air while "clogging." In traditional "clogging" circles, keeping one's "clogging" foot close to the ground is the mark of excellence and decorum in a "clogger." But the Smoke Rise Cloggers cared nothing for such niceties. They just "clogged" their behinds off, and the devil take the rest!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Two or more years ago, at about three in the morning, I saw the beginning of the Jerry Lewis movie CRACKING UP on one of my many premium cable channels, I don't mean to brag. There was a part when Jerry slipped on some marbles. It was hilarious! Another part showed one of Jerry's ancestors trying to escape from the Bastille (or somewhere. Anyhow, I recall it as a French setting). He made a dummy of himself, much like Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ. Through a series of merry mix-ups, it was Jerry's DUMMY who ended up escaping! Well, I fell asleep, through no fault of Jerry's, and missed the rest of the movie (a scene from which illustrates this particular "blog" entry. I am simultaneously terrified and thrilled that I might therefore be sued by Jerry Lewis!). I kept checking the cable listings every day for months, wondering when they would rerun it so I could see the whole thing. It's a rare Jerry movie, which enjoyed only a limited US release. Well, now Jeff McNeil has found a copy on Ebay, and he's kindly mailing it to me as we speak! This is the kind of spirit and camaraderie that can keep "blogging" alive! Mr. McNeil was also the first to respond to my request for cutting-and-pasting material, the lifeblood of any good "blog." He writes: "I watched the opening few seconds of Cracking Up and noticed that the carpet is the same color as the carpet in The Patsy. It could, in fact be the very same carpet, for it looked as if it had 20 years of wear on it..." Rest assured, this intriguing hypothesis will soon be confirmed or denied by the forensics team here at "Blog" Central, and you, my loyal readers, will be the first to learn the result!
There is a shortage of "bloggables." ("Bloggables" is a word I invented - as far as I know; I haven't "Googled" around for it yet - to describe a thing or idea that is worth "blogging" about.) In an effort reminiscent of that great statesman Peter Pan, I must ask everyone within range of my "blogging" to clap their hands together. Clap if you truly believe in "blogging"! Then maybe my "blog" will come back to life and flit about the room, bringing joy and whimsy to all. I mean, last night I was watching TV and thinking THIS? THIS is what I "blog" about for the people? This is not that good! The people deserve better! So I want every one of you to clap your hands and say "I DO believe in 'blogging'! I DO!" One way of metaphorically clapping your hands would be to email me something - a "bloggable," I call it in my whimsical fashion - that I could cut-and-paste directly into my "blog." It has worked in the past. Think of me as NPR, and this is the part where I ask for your help. Together, we can make "blogging" a reality!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Hello to all my imaginary friends out in the land of "bloggery"! Well, folks, I got my "copy-edits" today, for my upcoming book of short stories. That's when you find out everything you didn't know about commas! The woman in charge of my "copy-edits" did a great job and found lots of things that would have otherwise embarrassed me. I hope she never reads my "blog"! Anyway, my "copy-edits" were full of tidbits! By far the most distressing: the show that I have been calling THE GILMORE GIRLS, over and over, in front of the world, is actually called GILMORE GIRLS, with no "THE"! What a jerk I am. I think I'm so hot.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Welcome to Chapter 12 of our wildly popular "blogging" series on writers and the comic books they cherished when they were young. John T. Edge (left; photo by Bruce Newman), an amazing writer by any standards, who just happens to specialize in food (as a way to explore culture and history, among other things), has declared his childhood affection for G.I. Joe (comic book version) and Richie Rich. The former penchant he shares with terrific novelist Jason Headley, the latter with Amanda Stern and Mark Childress. With this recent tabulation, Richie Rich comes a step closer to usurping the throne of literary influence from Archie Andrews of Riverdale High. I, your blogger, had a similar interest in Richie Rich, way back when. Now, as a man, I question my taste, and the pernicious influence of Mr. Rich's sick lifestyle on my impressionable young mind. I'm working on two novels right now, and Richie Rich figures into one, wherein a character goes off at some length on Mr. Rich and his hapless friends (such as Pee Wee, who, if memory serves, was forced to live in a garbage dump) and servants. Mr. Childress, however, has advised me not to give the "milk" away for free, in a "blogging" sense, so I'm afraid that everyone will just have to wait until my book comes out to study my devastating insights into the subject of Richie Rich. Mr. Childress, in fact, considers ALL blogging, I believe, to be a case of giving away the "milk" for free. But don't worry, world! There's plenty more free "milk" on the way... in the form of my "blog," that is!
Hey, remember a guy named String Bean on the HEE HAW show? Of course you don't! What is WRONG with you young people today in your world of fast cars and computers? String Bean would say "I have a letter right here, close to my heart," and he'd pull it out of his BACK POCKET! Then he would read a supposed letter from home, full of musings. In many ways, String Bean was the original "blogger." Speaking of letters and musings and "bloggings," I'm afraid I went a little "blog" crazy yesterday and buried an exciting dispatch from Rome beneath an avalanche of other urgent thoughts. Dispatches from Rome are a vital new feature of the "blog" and I didn't want you to miss it. Here's today's "blogging" tip: Check your favorite "blog" often! You might miss something and then you'll be sorry.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Hey, guess who just signed up to teach at Emory University? This guy right here! That means he's a lucky man, because he'll be rubbing elbows with my wife Theresa Starkey, who's teaching a class there this Spring. It's a class she designed, called "The Woman on the Scaffold." All you punks hurry and sign up early! It's going to be a good one. Theresa's class is going to cover ax murders and Superbowl halftime shows and everything, I can say no more. As for Mr. Rushdie, I wonder if he has a "blog"! If so, we're sure to become the best of "buds."
You know who would like Pia Z. Ehrhardt's writing? Amanda Stern. You know who would like Amanda Stern's writing? Pia Z. Ehrhardt! You know who would like the writing of Pia Z. Ehrhardt and Amanda Stern? Everybody! But those two, yes, they would really like one another's writing. Tough writing! Tough writing from the ladies!
I noticed on the "blog" of fellow "blogger" Pia Z. Ehrhardt that when she told me her favorite comic character was Mary Worth, she really meant to say "Brenda Starr." The stoic and resilient Ms. Ehrhardt vowed in full view of "blogdom" to stand by her commitment to Mary Worth, be it the result of whatever innocuous slip. But we cannot allow such holes in our important research, nor such calumny to be visited upon our friends! We hereby correct the record and blush at our eagerness to rush to press with inaccurate, if titillating, information. Bearing that in mind, we might also mention that we have not fact-checked the always impeccably accurate Tom Bissell as to the political leanings of certain soccer players, nor do we intend to.
Here in the Pendarvis Building we're all getting ready for Tuesday night, when THE GILMORE GIRLS and VERONICA MARS on "The CW" will be followed (on NBC) by Jerry Lewis' guest-starring role on LAW & ORDER: SVU! This is all too good to be true. But it is! It is true! We're pinching ourselves, and each other, over and over in a sad and lethargic way. Okay, I can no longer explain to a living soul about THE GILMORE GIRLS, it's too late, you'll never catch up now. If you start, you won't care. And why should you? You have important things on your mind! Never mind that a famed crank like Phil Oppenheim has a soft spot for the Gilmore Girls and has even defended the logy season-in-progress. Look, please don't watch THE GILMORE GIRLS! I'm tired of your mockery and grief, world! I give up! You win! You've taken away my innocent happiness! Good for you! But you MUST LOVE JERRY LEWIS! I really love him, not in a cute or ironic way. I notice that when a comedian like Dennis Miller or Conan O'Brien or the South Park people want to say something really witty about France, they mention that country's famous love of Jerry Lewis. Nothing against Mr. Miller or O'Brien or those other folks, who I suppose have striven with all their little hearts to bring joy and laughter into the world for working stiffs like you and me, but I contend that Jerry Lewis lives somewhere above any such smart, stale reference. Anyway, why are they picking on Jerry Lewis? It's like, Ha ha ha, French people like you - zing! I know he's done some weird stuff that seems bad, but even that aspect of his work can be fascinating and entertaining. And his funny stuff is truly funny. Give him a chance, people. Friend-of-the-blog Jeff McNeil and I have often commiserated over the painful experience of forcing a squirming friend or loved one to watch a Jerry Lewis movie. Mr. McNeil and I, you see, have trained ourselves to appreciate the uncomfortable parts so we can get to the incredible parts. Try it at home! It's easy and fun! Mr. McNeil draws your attention to the furniture and carpeting in THE PATSY, and the scene in which Stanley Belt (Lewis) tries to tell a joke, a scene which Mr. McNeil wishes would last for 90 minutes. Mr. McNeil has reported driving to work and bursting into laughter at the mere memory of that scene. Okay, that's all I have to say about Jerry Lewis... for today. And I hope that I have successfully courted the youthful demographic by typing the name Jerry Lewis one million times. Between Jerry and the Gilmore Girls, I guess everyone is against me. But I'm sure we can all agree on Veronica Mars, so let's focus on that.
There, that wasn't so bad, was it? I'm back and ready to "blog"! Oh boy, this is a good one, a real nice way to return to "blogging." What did we find in the "blog" mailbag but a dispatch from Rome? Not just a letter from Rome like last time, but a big giant full-fledged dispatch, with all the classiness that implies! Frankly I don't know why I'm still typing instead of cutting and pasting. Well, our dispatcher is Mr. Tom Bissell, who hastens to have us add a disclaimer: This dispatch was originally dispatched, in a somewhat different form, as a letter to his beloved girlfriend. (Oh, one final note: I have softened up a few of Mr. Bissell's joyous and eloquent expletives, because I happen to know that some of Ashley Warlick's high school students - who should in no way emulate the behavior of the old Italian dudes or blotto teen described in the following dispatch - may be reading this with the internet devices that are so much a part of today's modern schooling in this strange world of tomorrow, and I'm mindful of that. Ashley, a fine novelist who has been mentioned before in the "blog," called to impart the news that she's been teaching the kids one of my stories and they've been looking me up on the "Google," which fills me with dread and responsibility.) With that, the dispatch: 'It is quite possible that you don't know Rome or Romans without going to a Roma soccer game. After you've gone to a Roma soccer game, you begin to understand something about this magical, astonishing place: It's filled with f-----g lunatics. Roma won the game I attented 4 to 0, which was surprising, apparently, but the game was not really holding my interest. What held my interest was everything going on around the game. Where do I start? I think I'll start with the fans of the opposing team, Donetsk (of the Ukrainian Donetsks), who occupied one teensy section of the immense circular stadium, and who were surrounded by truncheon-carrying riot police to prevent them from being torn to shreds. Then there was the frankly astounding number of old Italian geezers smoking weed in the stands. And fourteen-year-olds drinking beer. I swear I saw a little girl no older than fourteen smashed on beer. Her dad, who looked like an accountant, was too stoned to notice. H----, the American friend I went to the game with, told me many Italians' entire social existence is defined by these games. Games are like the Superbowl with some searching, pilgrimagey, and bawdily Chaucerian overtones--every other night, forty times a year. Once the game started, the crowd started shooting actual flares into the sky, flares as in I'm-stuck-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean-and-need-to-be-rescued flares. Also they were throwing what sounded like M80 firecrackers, the kind that sound like car bombs. The really hardcore fans apparently throw them at each other. The really hardcore fans are also kept in a special glassed-in section of the stadium, so that as the game goes on, and they get drunker and rowdier, it begins to resemble some kind of Darwinian holding station, with people screaming and punching and yelling and pushing. And then there were the chants. Most of the chants were about s------g on the referees' dead ancestors' souls, which, I don't know, seems really obscure to me. Knowing someone was s------g on my dead ancestors' souls just wouldn't wind me up. My loss, possibly, but still.... The rest of the chants were about Lazio, the city of Rome's other big team. Yes, Roma fans hate Lazio so much they were singing anti-Lazio chants even though they were not, at that moment, playing Lazio. A few of these chants concerned f-----g the sisters of Lazio fans, though not, I'm assured, s------g on them. Lazio's team, I'm told, has a 100 percent fascist ethos. Lazio's captain is an actual bonafied Nazi or something. He gives the fascist salute before every game, and the Lazio fans respond in kind. The Roma fans, who again despise Lazio, turn their hands to the side, pinkie down, when they're cheering, to avoid making the fascist salute, which is a strange thing to have to worry about/be conscious of doing at a sporting event. ("Whoa! I accidentally made the fascist salute!" "Hey, is that guy cheering happily or fascistically semaphoring?") Finally, my favorite thing was the song they sang at the end of the game. The lyrics, my friend told me, went something like this: "My wife doesn't matter, neither does my priest, you are my everything, Team Roma, you are my everything." I told my friend that, despite the fun I had (and you really don't know fun until you've seen Roma score a goal and been hugged by twenty complete strangers; people were actually crying with joy after a goal, and this was a pretty meaningless game), despite the fun I had, I told my friend H----, I really do think there's something shark-f------ly crazy about caring this much about soccer. H---- looked at me for a very long time, then shook his head and said I didn't understand. Apparently, this virus can jump transnational hosts, then. I must be careful....'
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Don't worry, everybody! I'll only be gone from the "blog" for a few days. I'm on my way to the Eugene Walter Writers Festival to do my thing. Even if you can't be there, you can join in through the magical world of imagination. Just buy my book THE MYSTERIOUS SECRET OF THE VALUABLE TREASURE and pretend I'm reading it to you. It's easy and fun! Get it from one of the usual places on the internet, or wouldn't it be nicer to give your business to a fine independent bookstore like Turnrow, Lemuria, Square Books, Changing Hands (where I received the t-shirt I'm wearing in the picture above) or A Cappella? Email or call! You'll find them all quite as personable as any computer. That's the Pendarvis guarantee! Well, this is what my sister tells me every day that a "blog" is for. I hope she's happy! She also told me to link to something I've written.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The letters keep rolling in here at the "blog." Author Jason Headley chimes in from San Francisco, and appears to be quite taken with our style. "Welcome to the 1990s," he writes. There's just one problem, Jason. It's not the 1990s! It's 2006! Sorry to "rib" you about your slip of the pen, but it was just too good to pass up! Folks, we can't make this stuff up.
Wesley Stace's novel MISFORTUNE has been lauded hither and yon with such hosannahs that our poor two cents (or shillings - ha ha! that's what they call money in England!) is hardly necessary. Our use of the word "hosannahs," with all its classiness, should be a good indication of what we're talking about. The book is indescribable anyway - people say "Dickensian" a lot, but that's not it... despite the fact that Stace shares with Dickens the ability to craft a teeming, living story filled with characters about whom one frets with real fear and feeling. Plus it's funny! Though I had considered dropping the whole "writers and their comic books" angle of this "blog," Mr. Stace's response to that line of "blogging" deserves quoting in full. And here it is, marking part 10 of our ambitious series: "My favourite comic character - and what's the betting I'm the only one who can lay claim to him, at least in America - was Billy of 'Billy's Boots'. This comic strip was in 'Scorcher & Score' (an amalgamation of two football comics), which then became 'Tiger and Scorcher' (which I hated, because some of the comic strips were about sports OTHER THAN SOCCER!) and then finally found a home in the revamped 'Roy of the Rovers' (an offshoot that was more successful.) Tediously, Billy didn't change into anything, but he did have a superpower, in that he had found magical boots, that (as far as I can remember at this distance) had belonged to someone famous, or at least someone very good - these boots were always being stolen or getting lost or getting him in trouble or bringing him victory. It had a very quaint 50s feel, and for all I know that's when it actually dated from. I never liked US comics - Marvel, DC etc - though I did like the ads in the back - and there's a lengthy tribute to these ads in my next novel!"
Monday, October 02, 2006
I won't lie to you, friends, I was all "blogged" out tonight. But as I'm sure you've heard by now, the identity of the anonymous figure in our most recent bloggy type thing has been revealed on a couple of investigative web sites, and the story has been picked up by Reuters. I am regretfully forced to confirm that the donut-eater in question is in fact James Whorton, Jr. If it does turn out that the leak comes from within, you can rest assured that the person or persons responsible will be punished appropriately - perhaps more than appropriately. Whorton, a novelist of deeply humane humor, whose artful restraint conceals an unexpected punch, does not deserve the kind of negative publicity that his love of plain cake donuts has brought down upon his head. But do you want to know something funny? This is completely true. I was on the phone with my friend Barry a few hours ago and I said, "Hey, Barry, what's your favorite kind of donut?" And Barry, lightning quick, replied, "A plain cake donut," just like that! And I said, "Aw, come on. You've been reading my blog!" And Barry said, "No I haven't." Further questioning ascertained the truthfulness of Barry's somewhat incredible claim that he had not been reading my blog for some reason! He just happens to like plain cake donuts and that's all there is to it! If anything good has come out of all this suffering, it is the renewed focus on plain cake donuts.
The team here in the Pendarvis Building has just received word from an anonymous friend-of-the-blog who ate three plain cake donuts for breakfast Sunday morning and did not "settle down" (his or her words) until three that afternoon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to this person's family. He or she still considers plain cake donuts the best, an opinion with which I, speaking as blog team leader, concur. Plain cake donuts have always been my favorite. This is just one of the many things my anonymous friend and I have in common! This shy person, a recent transplant to upstate New York, tells the team that plain cake donuts are called "fry cake" donuts up there. Today's "blogging" tip: If you're in upstate New York, say "fry cake"! You'll be glad you did. P.S. I refer my anonymous friend, and all blog-readers, whether or not they are donut-eaters, to the pictured reference work. It should be noted that the donuts pictured are not plain cake or "fry cake" donuts.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
I love Amanda Stern's novel THE LONG HAUL so much that I've written about it in three articles. By the time two of them made it to print, the "Amanda Stern" sections, as I fondly thought of them, had been cut out for one reason or another. The third article just never got published. But now I have a "blog"! So I can say anything I want and the world has to listen! I can say that THE LONG HAUL is a perfect, icy book, a tough book, where the humor cuts, the writing is flinty and true, oh my Lord, this is a horrible description of it, and it's starting to be longer than the book itself. I should have saved those articles! The main thing is, it breaks your heart. That's because the narrator lets us (almost by accident it seems, so deft is the writing) into those cracks in the ice, and we feel real pain, real regret, under that crafted, crystalline surface. So, (here comes part nine of our survey) Amanda liked Richie Rich and Archie as a girl, but you know, that theme of this blog is wearing thin, isn't it? Still, I can't resist pointing out that Archie is whipping everybody else's behinds. Writers love Archie! If this blog has proven anything, it's that. Coincidentally, right now Amanda is teaching a course in graphic novel writing to 5th, 6th and 7th graders... and it is through this activity, I believe, that she has discovered a fellow whose work she recommends to us all: Matt Madden. But the main thing is, read THE LONG HAUL, despite - nay, because of! - my dodgy description. Hey, there was a big picture of Amanda in the New York Times Magazine a week or two ago, full color! That, along with the fact that we have a correspondent in Rome, and one with a genius grant, makes this the classiest blog of all time!