If you've ever taken a creative writing class, you might've had to draw a diagram of the structure of a piece of writing. I'm not sure that a two-dimensional picture would be sufficient for this:
If you've ever taken a creative writing class, you might've had to draw a diagram of the structure of a piece of writing. I'm not sure that a two-dimensional picture would be sufficient for this:
Caro writes about flawed, vindictive men who degraded democracy but wielded power brilliantly.
You could describe a lot of dudes, very accurately, using only the adjectives and adverbs in that sentence.
From EW's Feb. 5 issue, in an article about why nobody has bothered to do another Fletch movie:
Gregord Mcdonald created the character of Irwin Maurice Fletcher while working as a journalist for The Boston Globe. The Harvard-educated Mcdonald joined the paper in 1966 and was given what sounds like the best job in the world -- or in journalism at least. "Go and have fun and write about it," his editor instructed him. "And if you end up cut and bleeding on the sidewalk, call the office." Over the next few years, Mcdonald reported from both sides of society's suddenly chasm-like generation gap, writing about John Wayne, war protesters, Vietnam vets, and On the Road author Jack Kerouac, with whom he went barhopping.
1. People used to get a paycheck for that? Shit, the '60s were a fuckin' fantasy land.
2. Which editor decided that EW readers need to be reminded who Jack Kerouac is?
This is for your own good, trust me, Mr. Psych Major: C.G.'s shiz is down to like $115 on Amazon, but seriously, don't buy it now. Wait like six months until dudes start selling it to used bookstores so they can get money for weed.
Man, this usually isn't a forum for "OMG GUESS WHAT I HEARD ON NPR TODAY," but damn, guess what I heard on NPR today: Some middle-aged writer guy who sounds like he believes most of his own Baby Boomer bullshit. The highly successful James Ellroy says lots of slyly self-aggrandizing things that *might* be intended as a parody of cockiness, but probably are just plain-old cockiness (even though he says self-deprecatory things, too). But he's not funny the way that, say, David Lee Roth can be in very brief instances. Maybe Ellroy's cockiness is warranted (or completely calculated), but still, ugh, he's hard to listen to, precisely because he's an author, and he has too much time to think about what to say when the time comes to hype a book. Some allegedly deft verbalizations just cannot qualify as "microphone skills," no matter how you slice 'em. NPR: "James Ellroy Divulges A Few Dirty Secrets"
UPDATE: The commenters on npr.org largely feel the same way.
Deep in the caverns of my dorkitude resides Tom Swift Jr. I had no love for the Hardy Boys or any other serialized adventurers. If it didn't have spacecraft, airlocks, deadly rays or giant gadgets, it didn't exist to me. (I did occasionally make room for bowdlerized biographies of professional athletes.) I clung desperately to the Swift shelf at the local public library: a long stretch of volumes, generally with pale orange or yellowish spines, published between the mid-1950s and early 1970s, and bearing the name of author Victor Appleton II. Most of these titles ring a bell:
Tom Swift and His Flying Lab
Tom Swift and His Jetmarine
Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship
Tom Swift and His Giant Robot
Tom Swift and His Atomic Earth Blaster
Tom Swift and His Outpost In Space
Tom Swift and His Diving Seacopter
Tom Swift In The Caves Of Nuclear Fire
Tom Swift On The Phantom Satellite
Tom Swift and His Ultrasonic Cycloplane
Tom Swift and His Deep-Sea Hydrodome
Tom Swift In The Race To the Moon
Tom Swift and His Space Solartron
Tom Swift and His Electronic Retroscope
Tom Swift and His Spectromarine Selector
Tom Swift and The Cosmic Astronauts
Tom Swift and The Visitor From Planet X
Tom Swift and The Electronic Hydrolung
Tom Swift and His Triphibian Atomicar
Tom Swift and His Megascope Space Prober
Tom Swift and The Asteroid Pirates
Tom Swift and His Repelatron Skyway
Tom Swift and His Aquatomic Tracker
Tom Swift and His 3-D Telejector
Tom Swift and His Polar-Ray Dynasphere
Tom Swift and His Sonic Boom Trap
Tom Swift and His Subocean Geotron
Tom Swift and The Mystery Comet
Tom Swift and The Captive Planetoid
Tom Swift and His G-Force Inverter
Tom Swift and His Dyna-4 Capsule
And I was a TOTAL SNOB about it: Yeah, Star Wars is awesome, but I like to read books that are based on actual science. I bet I was particularly insufferable to the girls who got good grades in science class. They didn't see what all the Swiftian hype was about. To me, they were dense, ignorant. They didn't *love* science. It was just another class to them. They were girls. *I* was going to be a nuclear physicist.
The boys weren't so supportive, either. I vaguely remember wanting to re-enact one of the space-oriented books, on my basement couch, with some literate pals. I'd even drawn up an instrument panel on a piece of paper. I was going to be the pilot. They would be the staff. They politely refused. It was a moment of clarity.
(read the complete and ongoing Secret History here)
It's quite possible that my first awareness of substance abuse came from "Curious George Goes To The Hospital," a book I received -- I think -- as compensation for the fact that my brother was born. I remember perusing it at a relative's house, not my own, perhaps while Mom & Dad parked me there so they could plus-one the family. It's all fuzzy evidence, but it adds up to some good context, right? (No, wait: I was only 2½ then. My exposure to the book might've happened much later, when my bro went in for some outpatient surgery.) Anyway, George's drug use amounts to this: Discovers ether. Huffs it. Trips balls. Passes out. (The scene has spawned a cottage industry of T-shirts targeted at stoner dudes.) As I grew into the section of boyhood that afforded me opportunities to consume illicit shit, I was a teetotaler. Miller Lites in the woods? Blah. Marijuana behind that unfinished house? No way. Some Skoal down by the creek? Barf. A nip of yer pop's whiskey? You're totally desperate, man. Most of those decisions can be traced back to Catholic guilt, which can be traced back to my youthful receptivity to the suggestions of allegedly upstanding adults. But I will say this: That image of George, passing out in a dark room? It's kinda bleak. I'll skip the ether, thank you very much.
Hey all you bigtime rock 'n' roll social-networking whores: Are you just searchin' for equilibrium? (You know who you are.) Catching up on old New Yorkers, I came across this Oct. 9, 2006, passage from Milan Kundera:
... a man becomes famous when the number of people who know him is markedly greater than the number he knows. The recognition enjoyed by a great surgeon is not fame; he is admired not by a public but by his patients, by his colleagues. He lives in equilibrium. Fame is a disequilibrium. There are professions that drag it along behind them necessarily, unavoidably: politicians, supermodels, athletes, artists.
And thus, Myspace. Of course, my little half-baked corollary ignores the fact that most heavily networked superstars don't actually *know* all of their friended individuals. Still, I believe that somewhere, there's a pop god who just feels better knowing that he can call these folks Pals.
When reading about apartment "stager" Jill Vegas, I couldn't help but think, those books don't belong to anyone. Sure, they belong to Vegas' business, but they'll probably never be read, unless the enterprise goes under and the furnishings are liquidated. And what is a book that will never be read? [Insert quip about a bad author here.]
So I say: Infiltrate staged apartments and liberate the books. Who's gonna notice, right?
Many Brooklyn residents are seeking refuge from the
'hipster treadmill,' says one counselor.
'BROOK-ANON' PROGRAM TARGETS RECOVERING N.Y. HIPSTERS
NEW YORK (PCNN) -- A program modeled on 12-step recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is offering support services to weary Brooklyn hipsters.
The "Brook-Anon" program allows young, trendy borough dwellers the chance "to get off the hipster treadmill and reclaim their own identities," said Susan Murray-Keeler, a youth counselor and co-founder of the program. "We help them to confront the emptiness inside."
Like AA and NA, Brook-Anon asks members to share their experiences and make a series of commitments on the road to recovery. But the focus is not on substance abuse or spiritual growth, Murray-Keeler said. "We work a little bit more from the outside-in," she said. "We might start by asking a hipster to abandon a certain T-shirt line or groom themselves in a more traditional way."
About a dozen hipsters attended a BA meeting last week in a church basement. The introductions would be familiar to anyone who has observed a 12-step program.
"Hi, I'm Jill, and I'm a hipster," said a thin 24-year-old woman wearing a snug white tank top, well-worn jeans and chartreuse Pumas. "I can't stop trying to be cooler than everyone else. It was a struggle to dress plainly to come here tonight. I know it's unhealthy, but I'm afraid that if I leave Brooklyn, my life will be over."
The group leader, who asked not to be identified, responded with a comment about the relationship between consumer habits and hipsterism. "When is the last time you opened up a Land's End catalog?" he asked. The woman did not respond.
Few Brooklynites have actually completed the program, Murray-Keeler said. "It's so new, and these kids are so entrenched, but they know they need help," she said. "A few of them are almost ready to sponsor other people in the program, but it's slow going."
The problem, she said, is that other hipsters are often glad when their friends drop out of the lifestyle. Carson Agyar, a Brooklyn-based psychologist, agrees. When a person commits to Brook-Anon, the backlash is often strong, and it can be alarming, he said.
"Hipsters are a different breed. They're not supportive in any way," Agyar said. "If you're a hipster, and your friend doesn't want to be in the scene anymore, you're going to be pretty happy about it. It's one less hipster that you have to compete with."
The result is that people near the end of Brook-Anon's 12 steps often regress when they realize that most of their relationships were based merely on a shared appreciation for boutique consumer goods.
"I kept saying to myself, 'I loved these people, so why is it so easy to move on?'" said one 22-year-old man. "I dropped out of the program for awhile and really got hipsterish, just searching for an answer. But I never found one. I recommitted, and I've been clean three months now."
Murray-Keeler said the program might be extended to parts of Queens, as well as other cities.
Dear Sister Mary Elephant:
I still haven't written about what I did on my summer vacation, so please accept these beach-read book reports as a temporary placeholder:
Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris: After several laughs-out-loud and knowing nods inspired by Sedaris' account of working as a furniture mover, I've concluded that there is no need for me to write my own memoir about sweating through three summers in that line of work. Beyond all that, Sedaris has me topped on so many fronts: He's much gayer, he's spent more time in Europe, he's taken far more drugs, and his family is much crazier, in theory if not in practice.
Jarhead, by Anthony Swofford: This book is really about dicks, balls and fucking, and not really about war. The movie version tried to make it about war, but when you come down to it, Swoff ain't excited about war. He's excited about fucking, as well as the state of his dick and balls at any given moment. Liberace had a similar problem: He didn't even really need to play the piano, not if people would've paid him just to wear the outfits. Swoff needed to join the Marines, sure, but the book probably would've been just as entertaining if he would've sat on his ass at Twentynine Palms for his entire tour of duty. (OK, fine, the parts about snipercraft are pretty awesome. And if there was no war to frame the narrative, maybe the dick-balls-fucking sections of the Desert Storm chapters would not have been as emotionally charged.)
The Studio, by John Gregory Dunne: All you righteous hipsters who think Lucas and Spielberg ruined our culture by turning films into massive marketing campaigns should sit down and read about how the Zanucks ran Fox in the late '60s. "Dr. Doolittle" was as much of an officially-licensed-product juggernaut as anything that ruled the school in the '70s and '80s. And Irwin Allen? Priceless.
In summary, dearest nun, I hope that this work will buy me enough time to properly fulfill my true assignment.
Yours in Christ,
They would've been like, "We have this book series about albums, and ..."
... and I would've been like, "Oh, you're gonna pay me $300,000 to write about 3rd Bass' 'Derelicts Of Dialect.'"
They'll do it. I know they will.
I think people should use the word "amazing" more often in the gerundive, y'know, like ski:skiing::amaze:amazing. Like, where a verb, used intransitively, becomes nominative. And I say "like," because it's been years since I was immersed in all the proper grammatical jargon. I offer this to clarify:
DUDE 1: What did you guys do this weekend?
DUDE 2: We went to the mountains and did some amazing.
DUDE 1: Amazing what?
DUDE 2: No, no, no. We did some amazing.
[Now, before I get too far into some "Who's On First" type of shit, just let me state for the record that this is an entirely serious, language-shaping movement that I'm proposing.]
DUDE 1: Like, you amazed people?
DUDE 2: Yeah, we were amazing.
DUDE 1: Amazing at what?
DUDE 2: We just amazed.
DUDE 1: Each other? If that's what you're saying, I think I get it.
DUDE 2: Sure. If you need to see it that way, I supposed you could say that.
DUDE 1: Well, if you were amazing, people had to be amazed.
DUDE 2: Probably, yes.
DUDE 1: So what did you do that amazed?
DUDE 2: Y'know, stuff. It's hard to categorize.
DUDE 1: Oh, right. Is anybody's amazing better than anybody else's? Like, who's the best amazer?
DUDE 2: One guy's amazing is pretty good.
DUDE 1: I bet it's amazing.
DUDE 2: By nature it is.
DUDE 1: True, true. How is your amazing?
DUDE 2: It's awesome.
[Cheers. I wish I had an electronic tip jar, because the money is just gonna roll in once people discover this tremendous contribution to society.]
A deeper analysis of Ms. Reynolds Jones:
The book title: "Shine ... a Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love"
The subtext: Yeah, you found that love, but good luck keeping it, biatch.
The Web site tagline: "I am the author of the only dictionary that defines me."
Burning question No. 1: Are you sure you don't mean "psychiatric desk reference" instead of "dictionary"?
Burning question No. 2: Does that dictionary also have a definition for "Oprah"?
The Web site construction: You can't see <i>anything</i> unless you give your e-mail address, including the "Faith, Hope & Charity" section.
Subtext No. 1: Don't have an e-mail address? You probably can't afford the book, either. Talk to the slim, beautiful, elegant, mocha-colored, wedding-ring-havin' hand.
Subtext No. 2: Contents not safe for children.
From Deborah Solomon's New York Times Magazine interview with Kayla Williams, the former Army sergeant and author of "Love My Rifle More Than You":
Your book describes an appalling game played by the soldiers, in which they toss rocks at you and aim for your breasts.
They would also throw rocks at each other's penises for fun. It was very strange to see. But in a way it was natural. When you're in Iraq, you search for just about anything to ease the mind-numbing tedium of having nowhere to go and nothing to do.
Anybody who has watched "Jackass" at least once (or the Roshambo episode of "South Park") would understand that this penis-targeting behavior is not "strange." It's utterly common among young, bored males. (I think John Waters makes a similar point in one of VH1's "Totally Gay"/"Totally Gayer" shows.) Maybe it's not done with rocks or sticks, but most guys have been in the presence of an incorrigible cock-puncher or nut-kicker at some point in their lives. (There are also more passive ways that society provides such dangers, too: Little League Baseball, for 90 percent of the participants, is nothing more than an extended way of coming to grips with the mortality of one's twigs & berries.)
As for targeting boobs, I find it appalling simply because you'd think that a group of horny guys could come up with at least ONE way of flirting that doesn't involve projectiles.
All praise to Arthur for the shout-out to Jeff Lint's "The Caterer," which for some reason has never appeared on BB, but has a MeFi, which might tell you something. (For me: The completeness and veracity of BB can be deflating sometimes.) The Caterer: * * * * That's all I can do for now. You'll figure out more later. The Arthur article on Maui's back country, by Paul Smart, is nice, too.
Every time I hear the word "conclave," I think "conk glaive," as in:
"the hair-straightening technique used by African-Americans and mentioned prominently in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as well as the use of the word to denote the hairdo achieved by using the technique"
"the ornate five-bladed, starfish-like weapon used by the hero in the fantasy film Krull"
And thus I think of militant hairpieces that can be removed and used like ninja throwing stars. If everyone in the conclave had a conkglaive, maybe we'd have a new pope a lot sooner.
SHOWDOWN WITH THE PROGRAMMING DEPARTMENT OF MTV
Stunts, pranks, makeovers
Perhaps these shows reflect your
BARRY BONDS HEARS FROM TY COBB
Ruth waits, oh Giant
But be warned, milestone-grubber:
I'M the biggest dick.
ON USING 'BUNKER-BUSTER' AS A LOVEMAKING METAPHOR
Lack proper flair; instead try
STOLEN MOMENTS ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
No, ma'am, that object
Is no bomb; it's a beer can
You are no hero
AN ACTUAL SEMI-MYSTICAL REFLECTION ON THE BEAUTY OF NATURE
Street gum underfoot
Chicle-chowing germs at work
But not fast enough
Somebody should do a broad analysis that compares the flows of Jay-Z and the late Anthony Hecht. I can hear a little Jigga in this passage from Hecht's "Spring Break," which appeared on p. 61 of the 9/13/04 New Yorker. Hecht sets a scene of Daytona debauchery, then chucks the old folks at ya:
They are viewed by dry, bird-wristed, blue rinsed crones
With diamond rings and teeth of Klondike gold
Mounted on a frail armature of bones;
Their hatted husbands, once, perhaps, adored,
Now paunchy, rheumatoid, and feeling old,
Who joust at chess, assault at shuffleboard
Hove might throw this back at him:
I'm like Che Guevara with bling on, I'm complex
I never claimed to have wings on
Nigga I get my by-any-means on
Whenever there's a drought
Get your umbrellas out because that's when I brainstorm
The old guys might actually win the bling battle in this one — their cycles of drought and storm are over. The only by-any-meansing they're doing involves prescription hard-on drugs.
Just finished William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition." A good time -- having never read "Neuromancer," I have no direct frame of reference. But I have plowed through most of Neal Stephenson's stuff, so I can make this comparison: Gibson (from what I can tell) seems less interested in textual and intellectual pryotechnics, and more interested in letting the story dictate how the characters brush up against techno-culture. One beef: I got tired of reading the generic term "hotmail," i.e. any sort of Web-based e-mail account. It's not like "kleenex," dude. Most people I know have jettisoned Hotmail in favor of something less glitchy. Maybe Gibson is paying homage to the fact that pre-Microsoft Hotmail was the first big browser-based system. Maybe he got extra cash for doing pseudo-product-placements for "hotmail." Maybe it's his way of saying the world's Microsoft haters should just get used to the company's cultural impact (an idea that dovetails nicely with the book's themes of product identity). Whatever.
April 30, 2003 at 12:37 | Permalink
Somebody at my workplace joked today about getting anthrax via e-mail, and I immediately thought of Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash," and its bogeyman virus that can infect and alter the behavior of human hosts via sound, sight and biological agent. The theoretical setup is great, and I will truncate it for this medium: What is a virus but a slab of genetic code, and that being the case, couldn't it be possible for people -- with our complex and mysterious brain-workings -- to become infected by viral material that is offered simply as code, not necessarily as a bloodstream-inhabiting microbe? Word. It's a fun mental exercize, but sci-fi chatter like that also validates the general societal gut-feeling that somebody's always thinking up new truly scary shit that can kill us. Sorry to bum y'all out. At least I'm not Stephen Hawking, who decided to get full-frontally-apocalyptic with the thought that the super-bugs are gonna get us long-term. At least he gave the human race an option. Tranquility Base, ho!
October 16, 2001 at 20:41 | Permalink