Sunday, August 31, 2008


Alerted by email to the 40% off sale at the soon-to-be-closed local Borders, we headed over to see what remained -- and given the emptying of boxes last night -- what would be worth acquiring. I had one thing in mind, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, which I had been meaning to get for some time. I began to despair of finding it as I sifted through both the biography section and the badly looted music section, but at last I found a copy and grabbed it. Then it was time to consider the choices -- I put back a bunch of Criterion DVDs which, while cheaper than they might be elsewhere, still added up to a lot (adieu, Les Enfants Terribles!). Of the many things I picked up and put back, there were only two other items that I decided to buy: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride (not worth full price, but for the discount, yeah) and somewhat embarrassingly, Pink Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (for which I blame my ongoing Syd Barrett fixation). Since watching the doco on Syd I haven't been able to get "Bike" out of my head and well, I guess I need some songs about gnomes and scarecrows -- the first album's not all the lugubrious, misogynist Roger Waters folderol, after all; mostly all Syd songs.

I managed to read a little of the Zevon book while making dinner (even though I haven't quite finished Aline Kominsky-Crumb's Need More Love). Cooking is always a risky idea, usually involving setting fire to myself and other things, but Gene has been sick all week and I didn't want to just heat up something from a package while I am nominally on a break this weekend. Spent the afternoon working on a story that apparently doesn't want to be written, taking a break to check up on Miss Wendy and her tribulations. One of the final calls from the Nokia, as I have finally ordered a new phone. At last I got tired of finding the battery dead every morning (the phone's my alarm clock, too). Now if only I could convince myself to transfer those files from the old computer...

Friday, August 29, 2008


There's a somewhat ridiculous scholar in Tom Stoppard's India Ink who says, "This is why God made writers, so the rest of us can publish." I love that quote because it speaks to an uncomfortable tendency in my academic field (and in many others, too) to feel like a kind of leech. We loot the work of others, digging into its richness and extracting the gems we find. It can seem like grave robbing at times, I suppose. I guess I'm less inclined to feel that impulse because I create as well as loot, but scholars are often afraid of feeling like vultures noshing at a corpse. It leads to a kind of tentativeness on the part of scholars -- and a great deal of mistrust on the part of writers, even ones like Stoppard who should be confident enough to survive the scrutiny.

I'm thinking about this because at present I'm working on revising a paper I gave at Oxford earlier this year and the process reminds me just how creative scholarship really is -- something even we who practice it tend to forget. It's all about solving puzzles, grappling with mountains of evidence and trying to find the best way to build that little castle of persuasion. We're often less conscious of that deliberate process when it comes to creative works, although the novel I just finished relied on research, on a knowledge of previous works from which I was borrowing stealing (usually inaccurately, but on purpose) and on a very calculated sense of persuasion. Writing is always a Scheherazadean task of seducing your reader to continue, whether it's to the next line of a poem, the next page of a novel or the next step in your argument.

Well, it's a holiday weekend for many of us -- I will be working, but that's not unusual. I've been putting off the tedious task of transferring files from the old computer to the new one. Maybe it will finally get done.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom

Somewhere in the wilds of Utah, my mom celebrates her birthday Not sure exactly where they might be today, but I bet they're having fun. Brandy has no doubt found the nearest body of water and splashed in retrieving something (whether it was hers in the first place or not). Happy Birthday!

While out on my walk this morning I came around a corner to a rather hideous sight: the brutally mutilated stump of a once magnificent maple tree. It was easily a couple of hundred years old and had the wild tangle of roots around its base that maples inevitably form. I guess it endangered the sidewalk. Too bad.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

North Carolina Redux

7/10/2008Susan's got her pictures on-line from the Three Mothers reunion in North Carolina back in July. Stop by and see all the lovely fun we had. Yes, there's even a picture or two of me (recognizably so in two of them, not so much in a third because I'm perched far out on the rocks enjoying the ocean spray -- and only one with rude gestures). There's lots of lovely images of the island's shore, which was really beautiful, as well as pictures of the wildlife in the aquarium. Thanks, Susan!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

One Down

I don't know why it was particularly difficult to return to the regular business of the academic year, but it was today. I suppose knowing the day would end with a meeting cast a bit of a pall on things, but I was having a hard time adjusting back to the public sphere of the classroom after spending so much time writing this summer. Maybe that had something to do with enjoying myself less at Pi-Con, too. I just wasn't ready to be in the midst of the swirl after a week of solitude at Domus Crispini.

But the schedule I chose for this semester threw me right into the thick of it. Two classes back to back, a slight break (which will be office hours after today), then the third class and department meeting. It's always a little nerve-wracking to walk into the first class of the semester but today I felt especially ill-prepared and lacking in confidence. It comes back -- that's the good thing, I suppose -- the song and dance, the re-telling of the stories.

I had to go through the introduction to Anglo-Saxon England with my Powerpoint slides (including the Simpsons and Angelina Jolie) twice today. As usual, my voice was giving out by the third class, despite two thermoses of tea. My final class is the one with the most potential for participation (what makes a class energizing rather than draining), although the other two might prove to have some liveliness. But the upper division courses tend to have students who are more independent and likely to want to have their say. Fingers crossed.

Tonight, we relaxed with the Joe Strummer documentary (review coming soon). Tomorrow I'll need to actually get the schedules spelled out on Blackboard (our support software for the classes), a tedious process that I avoid for as long as possible. I have to plan my work schedule, too. Teaching takes a big chunk of time, so it's important not to let the writing get lost in that process. Goals and deadlines are essential, otherwise you look up and suddenly it's the end of the semester.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

No More Pi for Me

As expected the reading this morning was poorly attended, which is to say no one at all showed up for what's traditionally known as the "hangover" time slot. Not too surprising, given that even GoH Cory Doctorow's reading was not that well attended. I don't get it -- I love readings. You can bet I won't be volunteering for another anytime soon (only takes three or four or a dozen times for me to learn a lesson). Doctorow's story was a hoot, "To Go Boldly" which was written for an anthology of space operas, which is not a genre he usually writes. It seemed to take the audience a while to catch on to the humor, but once they did, they kept laughing all the way through. Later in the GoH interview he mentioned being proud of being "an inch deep and ten miles wide," saying the one time he agreed with Heinlein was when he said, "Specialization is for insects" (tell that to our education system).

He said he often puts up works in progress as podcasts and that reminded me that I need to finally get around to the promised podcasts of my stories. I figure I will start small with flash fiction rather than the grandiose plans I had before. This way things that are out making the rounds of rejections can be "available" -- but not technically in print -- to those all important five fans of mine who want to hear me read my stories (but are in far flung, disparate locations).

<-- That's me and Ianto

The rest of the day was fine -- I offered my two cents on the new and old Doctor Who and chaired the panel on Torchwood with all the arrogance and fetching bonhomie of Captain Jack, then watched the mysterious Ironman/Batman debate (which Gene can tell you about as he was head of the Batman team). We swung home by way of Northampton to have Thai for a late lunch and (of course) stop by Raven Books. I bought one little book, aren't you proud?

Classes start tomorrow bright and early at 9am. I will have to stop playing with my Oblique Strategies widget and get some things done tonight. Last day of freedom, sigh.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

iPod Touch Named

Just like that, it was clear. I was on the tarot and writing panel and trying to remember the name of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies deck, so naturally turned to my digital assistant, who located the necessary information -- with a picture -- in no time at all.

Thank you, Ianto!

I would say he included a steaming cappuccino, too, but as most of you know, I don't drink coffee. Oh sure, maybe the subconscious effect of serving as chair of the Torchwood panel tomorrow influenced me (yes, I will be Captain Jack for a day -- er, hour?), but hey, the name even starts with "i" so it seems perfect for the iPod.

Pi-Con Day Two

I'm listening to the Syd Barrett box set, already copied into my iTunes on Jackdaw (yes, I name my computers, musical instruments, etc.). It's good loopy fun for early in the day. I blame Tom Stoppard for this new kick. I was never a huge Pink Floyd fan, but Rock-n-Roll piqued my interest in Barrett's solo work, and after that, there was the documentary I saw in London (and have since acquired). I generally give in to the weird manias that overtake my brain because they always seem to have a purpose, although I may not know what it is at the time.

Gene has a comics panel this morning and another this afternoon. I'm on a panel about writing and tarot. No idea what that will be like. I have a 10am reading tomorrow -- ha! Readings are usually poorly attended at the best of times and that's early -- and we don't know that many folks here, so I don't have a built-in audience. We'll see. I may just be reading to myself and the ghost of Syd.

Cory Doctorow is guest of honor and has been interesting and fun so far. There's a panel at 10 on the internet and freedom of speech, so I'll probably go to that -- and try not to play with the iPod the whole time, like I did at the blogger panel. But how could I resist live blogging at a panel on blogging!

Hey, the iPod needs a name, too. I'll have to come up with one by the end of the weekend.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Who Wants Pi?

The whirlwind continues: I feverishly try to complete my materials for the start of classes Monday (reminding myself all the while that the first day isn't the whole semester), make copies, then run home to pack for Pi-Con and of course, hit the road to West Springfield. Looking forward to the con, but there's a lot to do before I can leave (hey, at least WECS seems to be working at the moment, whoohoo!).

Yesterday was re-acclimation in abundance: meetings all day, surrounded by crowds of people, argh. But we had a relaxing beer at Mahar's (best bar in the world!) and fortunately, Catherine let us know that Gonzo was playing at the Spectrum (THANK YOU!) and we had time to get there for the last showing before the run ended. I had totally missed the notice that it was playing here.

How was it? EXCELLENT! As your blogger, I advise you to go see this film immediately. It does a wonderful job of bringing a larger than life character down to reality, yet in doing so conveys exactly why he became so mythic. Wonderful interviews, lots of great footage I'd never seen -- and hey, Johnny Depp ;-) Can't wait until it's available on DVD.

All right -- back to work while the Punk Rock Jukebox thrashes through my head.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

iTouch Things

I have a new computer. It has a camera. It has PhotoBooth which has some nifty effects. With the educator's discount, I got a free (eventually) iPod Touch. It's charging. We'll see what it does when it's ready.

Of course, there's still the transferring of files to do...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Time for Fresh Ink

Yes, yes -- finished the novel last night. Huzzah and trumpet's blat. Sure, it's only a first draft, but that's the hard part. Revision is a puzzle with parameters set; one needs only patience. The first draft requires using both hands to dig in the grey matter, squish the stuff through your fingers, poke around for the right words and then hope it all settles back to normalcy after that rummaging (although at this point, I'm not sure I could define that).

After the long haul of the novel, I may concentrate on shorter works for a bit. Yes, there are a bunch crowding the hopper, champing the bit, etc. There are always more tales to be written, always ideas knocking at the forehead wanting out. But it's worth taking a moment to enjoy the rare feeling of satisfaction, not with the work itself (never that) but with completing the milestone. That sense of accomplishment doesn't last long -- it quickly gives way to realising that the end was rushed and to recalling an important detail neglected or character insufficiently rounded -- but I want to grasp hold of that chimera before it evaporates.

And yes, time for some new ink -- more on that later.

With luck (and the grace of Fay), the Crispinus clan return tonight and I will relinquish this sanctuary, grateful for its welcoming solitude.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Publication: Book

No, not a book publication yet (although creeping to the end of the novel even now), but a very short play called "Book" because that is the central issue of the narrative. More a comedic sketch than a play, I suppose, it will appear in the next issue of Mused. Yep, the same folks who published "Bell" -- another short comic sketch (guess what the third one's called? go on, guess). I'll let you know when it's up, but I just got the acceptance this morning.

Enjoying my last full day at Domus Crispini -- although it may not be the last if Fay has her way. The flight tomorrow may be delayed -- we'll just have to wait and see. Hamilton has decided to take no chances, apparently assuming that her humans have gone for good. Now rather than hissing at me when I pet her, she has cozied up to me and was even rolling on the floor at my feet, purring, licking my hands, and asking to be stroked. She even decided to play with the little blue ball I threw for her.

I can't help wondering if this house is simply hostile to electronics. The WinBook has frozen twice three times already today, even kicking into check disk mode, which seems to have helped at least. I was really hoping to maybe finish the novel today, so these freezes are extra frustrating. Fingers crossed (again).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Review: Ginger Geezer

I'm not actually going to write a review of the book: it's about a fascinating artist, Vivian Stanshall, told in a journalistic manner, which in this case means a meandering although vaguely sequential narrative, without an iota of beauty or style, but one which nonetheless proves to be an enjoyable read just because it is so chock full of the wonderful, whimsical words of Vivian himself. Former musical collaborator Mike "Tubular Bells" Oldfield assures us on the back of the book that Viv was "Rock-n-Roll's answer to Peter Cook" as if Peter Cook were a question, but it's a fair equivalence in some sense simply because both were so singularly inventive and, of course, damn funny.

Like many of the assessments of Cook, there's a lingering sense of what a shame it is that he didn't do more (instead of marveling that he did so much so amazingly well). Prefacing the start of the account is a quote from Alan Moorehead's description of Sir Richard Burton which they mean to attach to Stanshall as well:

He was one of those men in whom nature runs riot; she endows him with not one or two but twenty talents, all of them far beyond the average and then withholds the one ingredient that might have brought them to perfection -- a sense of balance and direction.

Yet, Stanshall (and Burton for that matter) accomplished so much in so many different veins -- and media -- that such a grand expression of failure seems utterly mistaken. I suspect that largely this melancholic disparagement comes from the greedy desire for an endless line of glorious works and from knowing that there might have been so much more from these wonderful artists had physical frailties not impeded their later output. Yet I can't help but wonder whether such incendiary genius could do anything other than consume its source. As poet Roger McGough wrote in his funeral encomium, Stanshall was always "walking the tightrope with the safety net firmly nailed to the floor." There's a painful nakedness there. Photographer Barrie Wentzell said, "He was tortured by his intelligence and he just couldn't stop thinking of ideas. He once told me, 'It's all in my head and I hate it.'" It's the kind of feeling that makes you want to put an auger to your head just to get it all out.

I already quoted one of my favorite comments. The book explodes with wonderful words from and about Vivian, so it's worth reading for them. I did find out a bunch of things I did not know (like all the song writing he did with Steve Winwood). I'll have to find a copy of Stinkfoot the comic opera he did on the Old Profanity Showboat. While he may be gone in a puff of smoke, it's a comfort to know that he existed and that much of his work lives on (now release all those recordings Warner Bros!).

Hmph -- well, I guess I wrote a review after all (amending post title now). Yes, I'm taking a break from the novel, which sounds preferable to admitting that I am idling away from its stern demands to post here, and which reminds me I need to update the serial as well. I'm so close to the end of the novel, but I can't seem to make it go any faster -- just plink plink plink away at the keyboard as always.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Hands down, the strangest thing I've seen in some time: a chipmunk eating a snake. It may be old hat to more knowledgeable folks, but it was a surprise for me to see out the kitchen window here at Domus Crispini. Naturally, I googled to see whether this was the least bit unusual and found this proof, but I ought to mention that this was no baby snake being chomped on. When I went out to take a picture of it (what? you're surprised?!) I could see it was easily about fifteen inches long -- erm, what was left anyhoo. The head was long gone. However, I forgot that there's no Bluetooth on this laptop and I didn't bring cables for the PDA, so there the picture sits until I return.

The chippie chawed away until her cheeks were full and then sat and scratched a few fleas away, no doubt thinking, "Hmmm, what's for pudding?" Apparently the raspberries that grow by the side of the pool matched snakemeat perfectly. She's probably sitting her burrow now with cognac and a cigar.

Of course, the news from the Mac store was not good. They could patch up my G4 for $300 and it might work for a bit longer, but it is only a matter of time (days, weeks, maybe even months) before she's completely dead. The tech guys were sufficiently impressed to see a PowerBook of this vintage still running, but the truth is there's not much hope. Why do I seem to hold onto electronic gadgets far past their expiry date? My PDA is (relatively) ancient and my US phone on its last legs. I suppose it's just the inconvenience of replacing things that get such constant use. Ugh -- the thought of transferring files to a new computer fills me with despair.

Finished the Ginger Geezer, which I enjoyed despite its inevitable end with tragedy -- Vivian's death by fire in his own bed after some very trying last years. But I don't much feel like writing about the book yet, so I have dived into Nabakov on a whim, glorying in his vocabulary which makes me look up words like "phocine" (no, not going to tell you, you have to look it up, too).

Friday, August 15, 2008

No Fun

Gene has just departed with the G4 in hand, leaving behind his old WinBook as my rescue dog. I gave him two pennies for the ferryman, but it could be possible that the Mac doctors will be able to save her (although I have visions of them gathered around, staring with awe, "You still use this old machine?! What is it? 2003?").

This laptop works -- I can ask no more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There's nothing quite like being all set for a week of writing in a great situation: a beautiful house in a gorgeous location -- and it comes with a cat (isn't Hamilton cute?). But then out of the blue -- because we're speaking about my dependable Powerbook G4 -- a massive crash occurs. We're talking code in black and white on the screen, funny noises, and an absurd look of horror on my face (or so I imagine). It took a while to get the computer to shut off. It took even longer for it to come back on. I tried to do a few things to help it recover, but mostly I crossed my fingers and hoped. On the plus side, I lost a few sentences at most of what I was writing. And yes, backed up to the external HD before I left, backing up regularly to the virtual drive and the jumpdrive is right here, too.
So far this morning, everything seems fine, apart from a persistent whir that I don't think was there before, but at this point I could be imagining it, too. Yet I am smiling (see, I submit photographic proof -- sorry for the poor quality, but I only have the PDA cam with me). Maybe it's because I woke up to mist-shrouded trees (and wow, bed head!), or maybe it's because I'm drinking from a gigantic lemony yellow smiley face mug (though it's tempting to add a Watchmen touch), but most likely it's because I still have days to relax and write (okay, maybe with a pen and paper) and that's good. Before the meltdown, I had written a good deal which had been surprisingly effortless -- well, for me, which means rather than plonking down the odd word every few minutes, I was actually typing along as fast as my fingers could go (admittedly, not very fast). I started writing (on paper) as soon as I got up today and even had some ideas for a story that has languished for months in limbo after a promising opening paragraph.

So, cross your fingers for me. With luck, it will all be fine.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not a bit like The Shining

No, no, not at all -- sure, I'll be spending a week in the "Snowshoe Capital of the World" in a rambling country farmhouse, writing and confusing the cat, Hamilton. There's no reason to connect this to the tragic events in the Overlook. It's going to be a scream -- of laughter! And there's nothing wrong with my plan to take along a bunch of scary movies to watch alone in the dark as the house creaks around me... Hey, when did they get a topiary garden?

Here's why I get to do this: our pals Crispinus and his long-suffering uxor, Krista, have whisked off their 13 year old daughter Kaitlin for a surprise birthday trip to Disneyland (Happy Birthday!). This was a surprise that they've been planning for months; she didn't know until they put the boarding pass in her hands, pretending they were just there to see off a friend. Don't you wish you had parents that cool?

I'm just finishing my tea before I pack up my things and get on the road. I look forward to concentrating on writing, but also relaxing (yes, really). Besides, I won't be as isolated as the Torrances, because there's internet access -- yes, I may even post here if I have something to say other than "Ahhh."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Visit George's Garden

Designed for the Chelsea Flower Show, this garden is a beautiful tribute to everybody's favorite gardener. Stop by and enjoy a little of the peaceful beauty. I shall daydream about Friar Park.

[Coincidentally, this is my 777th post on the blog.]

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mildred!

Happy Birthday, Chuck! I couldn't find a picture of you I was sure you'd approve of posting here (hey, one of the pictures had you with long curly hair...), so here's a picture you took in NC. Hope you're having a great day.

We had a good day with the Boojums yesterday, chatting and what not, stuffing our faces at our favorite restaurant, Karavalli (mmmmm), walking around the neighborhood and -- wait for it -- shopping for books at the Book Barn. I only bought three -- and we will be boxing up many more to take back to sell. It was hard to say good-bye to Perilous Cheryl and "Mr. Honey Balls" at the end of the day ("pardon me while I say 'Poppycock'!").

Thanks for TWO JARS of the world's best pickles!!

Yesterday I saw a grey heron over at Buckingham Lake, sitting hunched on the bank, waiting for some unlucky frog to come along. Very cool! Today other than the usual ducks and snails, I saw only a turtle pancake on Euclid. :-(

Off to the park soon for fun and games, part of a belated Lughnasadh celebration. So far the weather looks like it will stay pleasant. If you don't have anything to do, go idle with some juicy Peter Cook gossip.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I always forget about so many of the things I've written until I have something jog my memory. This week my faulty memory was jogged by reminders about revisions. I had completely forgotten about one of the essays (yeah, that's just how absent-minded I am) and that I was supposed to be revising it. Hee hee -- I have a book review due at the end of the month, too, that I have not forgotten about (I swear, John).

The first is "Heofen rece swealg: Neomedievalism and Spectacle in Grendel: Transcendence of The Great Big Bad" which will appear in an upcoming issue of Studies in Medievalism. It's developed from the paper I gave at the conference in London last November -- the one that also featured Terry Jones. It's about the Grendel opera directed by the fabulous Julie Taymor.

The other essay is "Medieval Community: Lessons from The Black Knight" which will appear in the inaugural issue of LATCH: A journal for the study of the Literary Artifact in Theory, Culture, or History, which I believe will come out in November. I originally presented that as conference paper, too, at Kalamazoo.

Yes, folks -- that's the way to accumulate academic publications less painfully. Commit to a conference (a fairly innocuous thing to do, usually only requires a one page abstract of what you might write); once you've been accepted, think about that ten page conference paper and finally write it (depending on your working habits and Powerpoint needs) a month before the conference (or a week, or on the plane, or -- if you're the really edgy [Miss Wendy*] type, in the bathroom of the hotel the night before you give it while your suite-mates slumber). Once you have the conference paper, someone will possibly ask you to submit it for publication, which you agree to do, then panic once the deadline looms. So you mash it out haphazardly and send it, apologetically reminding the editor that it's just "a draft" of course. Disparaging reader comments help you fix it into something less embarrassing. Then, just when you've forgotten you ever wrote the thing, you find out it's about to be in print.

*in the interest of fairness, I think I ought to mention that she was just finishing her paper, not writing the whole thing...


From Ginger Geezer: the Life of Vivian Stanshall:

"If someone offered me an exhibition, I've got just about enough paintings, but like everything else I wouldn't be pleased with it. There are a few things that live on, but really I'd like an exhibition of what I'm going to do tomorrow."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Melville Marathon

Read the enthralling account of The joey Zone's participation in the marathon reading of Moby Dick last week (it's slightly shorter than the novel ;-) It is brought to you by the New England Anomaly, your home for weirdness.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Buy this book!

It's says "essential" in the title! You know you need it (and if you use the above link, Gene actually gets paid). Will your favorite make the list (hint: is it in print and in English)? The suspense must be killing you -- buy it now!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Melinda Gebbie Speaks

Once again smoky and Antonio Solinas have a terrific interview up at The Sardinian Connection, this time the fabulous Melinda Gebbie -- she of the incomparably gorgeous art of Lost Girls. Melinda started off in the undergrounds and has been no stranger to controversy over the years. She talks about being compared to S. Clay Wilson (!) and the long process of co-creating Lost Girls with her partner, Alan Moore.

To the left some of her work from the Peter Pan sequence of Lost Girls -- beautiful stuff (though not for the faint hearted, apart from this fairly innocuous page).

[Part 2 here]

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Sure, we're supposed to be on a new austerity kick and saving money, etc., but somehow a little splurge now and then becomes necessary. Thus we wended our way to the Café Madison for brunch because well, we wanted to have a good meal. Even at the relatively late hour we headed over, the place was quite full, although we were seated in one of the few remaining tables right away. I started with a bellini (always a good way to start brunch) and Gene opted for decaf. I got the spanakopita omelette (oozing with spinach, cheese and onions) while Gene finally settled on the very cheesy bacon and cheddar omelette. Both came with their wonderful home fries and their home made bread: mmmm, walnut wheat. So filling, we need not eat again today.

Another extravagance that could hardly be passed up: Jonathan Richman at Club Helsinki in October! Cheap tickets and an intimate venue: I'm in love with Massachusetts, with the radio on.

I've finally begun reading Ginger Geezer, the life of the extravagantly eccentric Vivian Stanshall (hence the photo which comes from the Ginger Geezer website). I've been enjoying the anticipation of reading this book that I picked up on a recent visit to London, and yesterday became the day to start it after Gene found a radio program on Stanshall hosted by Stephen Fry and I decided that wasn't enough Vivian for me. It's a bit of an odd read, jumping back and forth in time (and I suspect, between the two authors) but there have been a lot of laugh out loud anecdotes.

Want something extravagant for free? Go download the free track "Dreamin' of You" from the Bob Dylan site. It's a teaser for the next volume of the Bootleg series. Hits the spot -- more so than the tour tickets (he's playing Saratoga) which are a little too extravagant for me at present.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

50th Anniversary

It's my folks' 50th wedding anniversary today (so what picture could I find? Xmas 2005 with the bros and Brandy -- and the crackers already opened, I see). How much has changed since 1958: in that year, Wikipedia tells me, the peace symbol is designed as part of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Pope Pius XII makes Saint Clare the patron of television, Elvis gets inducted into the army (thus my mother was free to marry), the First Cod War begins between Britain and Iceland, and the Yankees beat the Milwaukee Braves in the World Series. Born that year: Jools Holland, Miranda Richardson, Rik Mayall, Gary Oldman, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Bruce Campbell, Madonna, Kate Bush, Jello Biafra and Jennifer Saunders. A busy year!

Hope you're having a great day!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Big Interview with Uncle Alan

Check out the five part interview with Alan Moore at the Sardinian Connection. It covers a lot of material, much of it focusing on Lost Girls. That's advantageous for me as I'm trying to work up a proposal on the book for an Angela Carter conference next June in Northampton (yes, yes, there's a connection beyond the location, trust me). Next week they have an interview with Melinda Gebbie as well, so whoo hoo. Check back for that.

Have you seen the Watchmen movie posters? Dig that Betty Page, er, Sally Jupiter one.

Moore and Gebbie photo by José Villarrubia.

The Old Man and the Seaport

The Moby Dick reading marathon ends at noon today, with a big birthday cake for Melville. The joey Zone is in the thick of it down on the decks of the Charles W. Morgan in Mystic Seaport. His chapter was read in the middle of the night, I think (but I could be mis-remembering). It's a free event, so there's time yet to catch the reading of the last few chapters. To the left here's some scrimshaw carved by Robert Weiss of Queequeg, Ishmael's pal.

So, of course these nautical adventures remind me upon waking of a Spike Milligan poem that I can't quite remember right (of course, as we all know too well, I'm constitutionally incapable of remembering anything quite right):

Let's sail away on a gravy boat,
You and me and Franklin the stoat.
We'll live our lives on the Caspian Sea,
And eat nothing but jellyfish for our tea.

Or something like that...

Is it really August?! No, no -- can't be. Surely.