November 2002 Archives

Rest, Perturbed Spirit


I recycled and edited an old post to produce a gift-giving guide for Blogcritics: Ten Great Movies You Probably Haven't Seen (but probably should): A Holiday Gift Guide.

So, if you're not going to buy something from the emporium (I don't know why you wouldn't, but to each their own), you might want to check out the list at Blogcritics.

Can't Buy Me Love

Hey, kids! Tired of fighting the crowds on "Don't Buy Anything Day"? Don't know what to get that special person for the holidays?

Well, have no fear! All of your holiday shopping needs can be met at the Paul Frankenstein Light Industries and Manufacturing Emporium!

Store.gif That's right -- you can do all of your holiday shopping online and from the comfort of your own home!

  • Is there a cook in the family? Well, they're sure to love a "Shun Our Dessert!" apron! Practical and stylish, this heavy-duty apron (I own one!) features an intriguing saying ripped totally out of context from an email from a girl who's no longer speaking to me speaking to me again. Everyone loves it!
  • Everyone has friends who don't quite know how to tell people where they stand in the blogosphere. Well, the "I Am A Z-List Blogger" long-sleeved T is the perfect way to get the word out! Soon everyone will know where they are in the blogging food chain!
  • Do you have a new niece or nephew who's going through that potty phase and can speak fluent French? Well, neither do I, but, if I had one, I'd give them an "En cas d'urgence gardez votre calme" toddler shirt! It's going to be all the rage in preschool!
  • Do you have a girlfriend who thinks that life is just passing her by? The "New York"* thong fits the bill perfectly! I personally guarantee that whenever these undies are worn, something (exciting!) will happen to you.
    *full name is "New York is the sort of town where anything can happen and usually does. It just doesn't happen to me."
  • Just can't find that certain something for Uncle Morty? Well, why not give him a "This Is Not My Beautiful Beer!" beer stein! With all 22 ounces of this stunning ceramic beer mug, he'll never forget which beer belongs to him again and end up drinking them all!
  • Everybody's sat down to blog something while under the influence, and everyone's regretted it the following morning. But the "Friends Don't Let Friends Blog Drunk" sweatshirt will remind you that friends don't let friends do that! And the long sleeves are perfect for covering up those needle tracks, too!
  • And finally, know a blogger who's the living embodiment of the perfect blogger? Well, let the world know by giving them Joe Blogger or Jane Blogger T-shirts!

And don't forget: that's just a small sample of the nearly 50 different items available at the Paul Frankenstein Light Industries and Manufacturing Emporium! So don't delay and buy today!


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Ooo! Look! Categories!


Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Learning To Fly


reeboksmall.jpgI don't really have anything to add to this image. I was going to write something then I sat down and figured out that, in fact, I have nothing to say. Other than that if you click on the image it'll blow up to a bigger version.

So why don't you go over to Phil Ackley's blog and ohh and aww at his amazing black & white pictures. He's my partner for the photojunkie film exchange project. Looking at his stuff makes me wish that I had a scanner attached to my machine; I have the facilities to process B&W film, but no easy or cheap way of getting it into my computer. I'm looking forward to seeing what he shoots.

I'll be doing my shooting the day after Thanksgiving, as tomorrow it's supposed to snow, and the day after that is Thanksgiving (duh!), which leaves the day after Thanksgiving free.

No, I don't know what I'll be shooting.

Too Many Cooks


Last Friday was my mother's birthday.

In honor of the nth anniversary of her 19th Birthday, the three children prepared:

  1. Lobster Salad
  2. Roast Duck and Pork Tenderloin Medallions with a shallot sauce and glazed carrots and glazed pearl onions (if you want to sound fancy, you say "glazed root vegetables")
  3. Chocolate Mousse with espresso

My sister was in charge of the salad, my brother was in charge of the chocolate mousse, and I was in charge of the main course (and, as my sister said, "He was the producer").


  • A five-pound duck is not enough to feed a family of five.
  • That's why we got the pork to go along with it.
  • If the instructions say put "ingredient A in the bowl with ingredient B" and you did it the other way around, that's ok.
  • You really need very little water to glaze vegetables.
  • Carving a duck is really very different from carving a turkey or a chicken. The bones are all the wrong size and they're in the wrong place.
  • Duck is also pretty tricky to roast: the breast is done much sooner than the legs are, so you end up having to take it out when the breast meat is done, chop it up, and then put the wings and legs back in to finish.

The parental units' contribution to the dinner was a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. It was, all in all, a great (if slightly behind schedule) success.

Now all I have to do is pull off a miracle for Thanksgiving.

Did I mention that it's supposed to snow four inches tomorrow?

Jet Airliner

Some nutty British TV producers have come up with a jet-powered skateboard.

Really. I'm not making this up.

Like A Motorway


You know, 2002 hasn't been nearly half-bad. Certainly better than 2001 was. And what with hurtling towards my birthday (using Tony Pierce notation, I'll be 110 in less than a fortnight), I've been counting my blessings.

On the other hand, it hasn't ben great, either, particularly what with this losing my job business (but hey, at least CSCO is up more than 25% over the past month, so if it keeps going, I'll be solvent for a while longer).

Something that a (married) friend of mine said the other day I thought was very interesting. She said that I'm "great husband material". Which is all great and fine. But I'd humbly suggest that a prerequisite for being "husband material" would be to be "boyfriend material," something that has somehow managed to elude me so far. Perhaps the fact that I'm not very good at the mechanical bits of dating could possibly have something to do with that.

But sometimes things are what things are, eh? Or, as the French are prone to saying, C'est la vie (they also say Oooh-lala, but I don't think that's particularly applicable here).

Dressed For Success

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Moxie discusses how to be underemployed in 10 easy steps (for all of us who are, uh, 'underemployed').

Great list. I particularly like #2 and #4.

Kiss That Frog


There's a new dating blog in town: the aptly-named Nerve-Wracking, the tales of a twenty-something single girl (the pseudonymous "G.I. Jane" -- does this mean that she lacks hair?) in the city trying, in her words, "to meet an attractive man worth smooching on a regular basis by using my weapons of wit and feminine wiles."

It goes on the blogroll, methinks.

And in other totally unrelated news, I've finally gotten around to listening to some CDs I got.... uh, well, it was a while back.

Carry On


A blog roundup, Haiku-style.

This was done by trained professionals. Please don't try this at home.

Davezilla: An obtuse reader
Says "Don't Mess With Godzilla."
Dave applies smackdown.
The Daily Dose: The long sunset waits,
A horse stands, all saddled up.
Happy Trails To You.
Capital Influx: Age-old angst arrives;
Existential thoughts weigh heavy.
Oooh! Business Card Art.
Asparagirl: Flash meets Kikkoman.
California beckons.
Happy Trails, part deux?
Edie Singleton: Nerve experiment:
Success? Failure? Or more dates?
Lapdogs: Man's best friend.
Liz Maryland: Freelancing: it sucks.
Unemployment sucks harder.
Can't sleep? Buy new boots. Macrovision rules!
No, not the dvd stuff.
I wanna nickname.
Jane Galt: MT: Living large.
New design, same great content.
See you in Dakar.
The Blog Of Chloe And Pete: Working DVD
means Bollywood mania!
Everybody clap!
I Bet You Like To Watch: The big Three-Zero.
Time to reflect, remember,
Time for next chapter.
Meeshness: Aspen was really great.
Ready to take all questions.
That makes us happy.
The Illuminated Donkey: Takes internet quiz:
Ken is a really nice guy.
You weren't always sure?
Ain't No Bad Dude: Landed in London.
Blog celebrated one year.
He ain't so bad, dude.
Here I Type: Boyfriend now in town.
The curse has been vanquished.
Stocked up on groceries?
Goddess For A Day: Friend needs dental help.
Look out for Heather's elbow!
Thanks for insurance.
Glennalicious: Christmas in Cancun:
The trip once was a quartet.
Now flying solo.
Mighty Girl: An eBay catfight!
Claws out, Visa cards are drawn.
Smurfy robe finds home.
luminescent: A man boiling socks
invites a friend for dinner.
Worst Roommate ever? A dramaturgist:
That's one line gone already.
You should read this blog.
Karlotta: Loves her man to death;
Living an old Police song.
Remembers wool socks. Sarah has new layout;
Redesign ate my browser.
Must use IE now.
JOHO the Blog: Smart man, big issues:
This stuff makes my brain go "ow!"
Keep up the good work.
Nicholas Tang: One-button mouse sucks:
Only OS X issue.
Could get used to this.
Michelle Foster: Grumpy and tired.
Burnout arriving so soon?
Santa knows who's nice.
Mike Whybark: Back in the saddle;
Comic book reviews galore.
Bellepheron lives!
Off the Kuff: Donkeys lose Texas,
K-Mart cops getting busted;
Life in Lone Star State.
Objectionable Content: On the road again
Flannel PJs, unshaven
Oooh! Business Card Art! Holiday snaps
and a trivia challenge
A life spent misread?
Rough Days for a Gentil Knight: R. Allan Baruz:
Poetry in XML.
A Renaissance Stud.
The Busblog: Channeling the Beats
Pissing off the WSJ
Tony Pierce is God.
Useless: No longer trapped,
Wandering the world o'er
Fancy hotels suck.
This Fish Needs a Bicycle: Monologue with self;
Inner Goddess is routed.
Need firmware upgrade.
Wildsoda: Caffeine pills don't suck
Being debt-free doesn't suck
Suck levels are down. Penis and laptop
That always gets a big laugh.
The internet rules.
Rossi Rant: Cabbie speaks English!
I will call the New York Times.
Too bad he's a nut.
Wrap Me Up In It SAD strikes once more;
Who will cheer up the cheerless?
The little match girl.
What's New, Pussycat? Confidence Crisis:
Where does confidence come from?
She wants to shag Ken.
Ultrasparky A nurse with tweezers:
A Total Recall moment.
The follies of youth.
La Blogatrice: Virtual Roommates:
This room is getting crowded
Happy Trails, part trois?
Shallow Thoughts Once she was the bug;
Now things are rolling her way.
She's the windshield.
Up Yours -- and more helpful hints: Spam pisses her off;
She's gonna hunt someone down.
Perilous PMS.

Come Talk To Me


JBlogger.gifLooking for the perfect gift for a blogger friend who might have a birthday coming up (or something like that)? Well, look no farther than the new Jane & Joe Blogger T-Shirts! Stylish, fashionable, and always in season, the newest additions to the Paul Frankenstein Light Industries & Manufacturing store feature an exclusive "Jane Blogger" or "Joe Blogger" design on an attractive light pink or blue background*. Get yours now! (before all those so-behind-the-times supermodels start buying them)

*Yes, I know that by picking pink and blue I'm perpetuating outmolded stereotypes of gender roles that might affect impressionable minds.**

**Do you really think that a two-inch strip of color is going to adversely affect someone's ideas about gender? 'Cause if you do, then really, you might want to re-evaluate your ideas on the malleability of the human mind.

Book of Colour

I have neglected to blog about the NY International Blogger Summit, hosted by Sasha Castel, la Blogatrice herself.

A great many people were there, far more than can be counted, but Ben Kepple has an excellent write-up of the festivities. Other attendees included the illuminated Ken Goldstein, Scott Rubush, Aaron Haspel, Ravenwolf, the Blue-Collar Slob, Jane Galt (now with all new re-designed goodness), Bruce Hill, Asparagirl, Roy Edroso, and the Raving Atheist. Lots of food was eaten (including some rather tasty beef carpaccio that was consumed by a putative vegetarian), lots of opera was listened too, much beer was consumed, and a good time was had by all.

And if you were there and were wondering how to get your hands on the infamous "Z-List Blogger" shirt (the logo's above), the answer, my friend, is blowin' on the internet.

The End of The Earth

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finisterre.jpgNew review up on Blogcritics (reproduced below for your enjoyment):

Finisterre literally means The End of The Earth.

As usual, fans of Saint Etienne are left to puzzle over the subtext (if any), while the band itself publicly insists that it was simply taken from a now-discontinued location on the BBC Shipping News. Is the band breaking up? Do they think that they've reached the end of their artistic journey? Or, in more typical fashion, is it simply a giant inside joke?

While I'll leave it to others to debate any hidden messages that the band has left behind, there is no doubt about the album itself. Finisterre is a welcome return to form for this English pop trio who spent the entirety of their last album (the interesting if ultimately weightless Sound of Water) stuck in the soundscapes of German electronica.

The band -- consisting of Sarah Cracknell, Pete Wiggs, and Bob Stanley -- has returned to England (Sound of Water was made in Berlin and Good Humor was recorded in Sweden) to make a distinctly English album, punctuated by the voice of actor Michael Jayston (I've never heard of him either, but he's apparently one of those character actors who makes you say, in a Pavlovesque reaction, "hey, I've seen that guy before") providing inter-track spoken-word interludes (sample: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, please stay there").

While they haven't gone back to the organic live sound of Good Humor, the new album is clearly an attempt to return to the clever dance-oriented pop that has been their traditional stomping grounds. While Finisterre does not match up with some of their earlier efforts (the astonishing Foxbase Alpha, the crystalline So Tough, and the glorious Tiger Bay (one of the best albums of the 1990s and one of the most misunderstood)), it is still miles beyond the vast majority of popular music churned out by the recording industry today.

"Action", the first single and the lead track of the CD, is a cheery, upbeat euro-disco (I've been informed that the correct word to use here is "house") track vaguely reminiscent of recent Kylie Minogue, awash in shimmering keyboards and a propulsively thumping four-on-the-floor drumbeat. A surefire floorburner, the relentlessly hedonistic music masks the content of the lyrics, which are actually about suburban ennui and a desire to return to the halcyon days of youth. In a sense, this is a typical Etienne single: upbeat, cheerful, populist music with a twist in the lyrics.

The Saint enlists the services of the English rapper Wildflower on the track "Soft Like Me", a paean to the positive powers of femininity with a sunny, bouncy chorus that you can almost imagine Karen Carpenter singing. The genius of this song is how it places praise for the qualities of emotional openness and tenderness in the context of rap -- an American genre noted for brutish masculinity and misogyny. I would use the word "subvert" here, but I've been informed that only licensed Academics can use it without irony.

"Stop and Think It Over" is a ballad that would, in most hands, turn irredeemably syrupy; the regret in Cracknell's breathy voice and the musically unresolved ending keeps the track from toppling over entirely into mush.

"Shower Scene" is another house (that is the right word to use, right?) anthem with utterly obtuse lyrical content ("in the rain/in the fall/in the mud/in the hall/in the rain/in the fog/in the shice/call my name" are pretty much all the lyrics of the four-and-a-half-minute song); interpretation of what that actually means is fairly open.

Like all clever pop bands, Saint Etienne has often been accused of being too self-referential; they do nothing to refute this charge on Finisterre. The track "The Way We Live Now" is clearly a reference to "The Way We Used To Live", a nine-minute single off of Sound of Water; the band name-checks one of their own songs in "B92," a satiric take on the music industry.

The one thing from previous Saint Etienne albums that rabid fans might miss is the constant sense of Ameriphilia; there are, as far as I can tell, virtually no explicitly American references on the album (which is rather unusual for a band that has produced songs titled "Erica America", "The Boy Scouts of America", "I Buy American Records", and "Zipcode", among others). The closest they come is in "Finisterre", the last track on the CD. Sarah Churchill (any relation to the PM? I don't know) intones "I believe in Donovan over Dylan, a laugh over cynicism" during a memerizing interior monologue, a retreat into the landscape of the mind. The final chorus -- "Finisterre, to tear it down and start again" -- is maybe a message, perhaps a manifesto, and, possibly, a hint for those wondering what the band is trying to do.



I was 'interviewed' the other day by a journalist who wanted to know more about the blogging community, such as it is. Below find some edited highlights...

Tell me about the NY blogging community? Is it tight-knit, are people friends offline, how do people use each other. - just a nice overview...

Well, it's really hard to say. According to, there are more than 1600 NYC blogs out there. So obviously, you're not going to be best friends with every single blogger out there. Certainly parts of it are fairly closely-knit; I've had bloggers over to my house to play poker and stuff. But I think that it's hard to speak of a single unified 'NY blogging community'.

What do bloggers generally try to get across in their journals?

That's a tough one. A lot of bloggers (probably a majority of them) use their blogs as a kind of on-line diary. Some bloggers use their blogs as political pulpits; some write about sports; some write about intensely geeky stuff. It's really a very mixed bag.

Having said that, I think that the one thing that all bloggers have in common is a strong sense that they have something to say and that what they have to say (be it about dating, baseball, religion, or the inner workings of the Linux 2.4 kernel) is important and needs to be heard.

Another common thread is that bloggers, as a group, tend to be comfortable expressing themselves with the written word. I don't know if it's a side-effect or what, but most blogs are well-written from a mechanical standpoint (spelling, grammar, and the like). This doesn't sound like front page news, but it's something of a refreshing change from what writing standards are like in the real world.

Tell me a bit about an average blogger...

NYC Bloggers can range from 17-year-old high-school students to gay investment bankers to fortysomething married attorneys who work for the Justice Department. So it'd hard to say that there's an 'average' blogger.

Having said that, I'll give you a portrait of "Jane Blogger", a composite of several real bloggers I know ("Jane" because I think that there are slightly more female bloggers than male bloggers). Jane is 25, had a job at a .com but was laid off when the company went under; she's currently working as a freelance graphic designer. She lives in Brooklyn, having moved there recently from the East Village. She went to a fairly prestigious private East Coast college and is working hard on getting her student loans paid off. She is currently between boyfriends and writes about that extensively on her blog. Only a select few of her real-life friends know about her blog, and she would die of shame should her parents ever discover it.

And tell me about your own blogging style.

Well, I pretty much write mostly about stuff that happens to me -- my site leans towards the diarist style of blog. Occasionally, when I have nothing to write about, I'll write about what everyone else is writing about. I avoid politics, for the most part. There's a little sports blogging, and a little food blogging, too.

For a diarist-type site, though, I'm fairly cagey about what I actually write. I lost my job a few months ago, and instead of penning 2,000 words on how tragic it was, I simply slipped it into the bottom of a totally unrelated post a few days after the fact.

I try to maintain a fairly light-hearted tone, though that was rather difficult last September. Much of what I write is dryly funny, though it's not always as funny as I want it to be.

Please tell me about an average blogger meetup, either through Bloggerpalooza, or through some of the smaller 'meet at bars and drink' type get-togethers.

The big blogger bashes tend to take place at public venues; this is largely due to the fact that pretty much no-one has an apartment large enough (one of the drawbacks to Manhattan real estate). They run rather late, and everyone wears a nametag (due the fact that many people are meeting each other for only the first time).

It's my take that most bloggers are fairly articulate (they do, after all, blog), and most of them are interesting people who have interesting things to say. So in that sense, it's a better way to meet people than just walking up to random folks in a bar.

That's not a hangover, that's my brother!

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Readers of the Guardian comment on the British proposal to lift the nation-wide 11:00 p.m. closing time.

My favorite bit?

In an increasingly 24/7 world there's more to 24 hour licensing than drinking late into the night.

Indeed, there's being sick late into the afternoon

And in unrelated news, here's a bit on Bubbly Belgians.

The Olive Garden Would Be A Bad Idea, Too


HereIType: whatever you do, never, ever take her to a strip mall.

Only In New York


I'm not sure how I ended up in a hipster bar in deepest darkest Williamsburg at 2 a.m. at a table with four women I'd met only hours before in a discussion about sex toys, waxing and pubic hair.

It just sorta happened, I swear...

le livre


One of the problems with writing about Paris is that I want to go back there right now.

Enough of this unemployment (which is finally starting to stress me out) and enough of this feeling old and tired and grumpy all the time.

I want to wander the shores of the Seine, to drink bitter black coffee with a little foam on the top and a lemon rind, to return once more to the city of light and feel free.

Anyone want to spot me airfare?

Whatcha Waitin' For, Willis?

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The Busblog recently celebrated its first birthday, and to celebrate, the great tony pierce is putting together a book -- the best of the bus blog, year one (though that's not going to be the title, as tony hasn't decided on a title yet (my personal favorite is tony pierce: lust for glory, but I don't think that's going to be picked)).

Anyway, if you haven't gone over there and ordered yourself a copy, well, what are you waiting for? Today's the last day to get it at the low low discounted price....

Even Better Than The Reel Thing


Got an email from a fellow named Don Lemmon. Turns out he's doing a book about the guy who probably inspired Mary Shelley.

The story goes along the lines of there really was a mad scientist who lived in Frankenstein Burg lo so many years ago. While he did live in the castle, his name wasn't Frankenstein (and in any event, we're not related). While he was utterly unsuccessful in reviving dead creatures, his many experiments with galvanization did eventually lead to modern shock paddles and the like. Anyway, a young Mary Shelley heard about him at some point in her European travels, and used the stories as a basis for the first piece of modern science fiction. From there, the story was turned into a play, then a movie, and you all know the rest of the story.

Film Exchange

The Holiday Film ExchangeRannie Turingan's doing another film exchange project.

I say, "kewl beans". The first one was lots of fun. This should be more so....

Ante Up

Blog Poker is here.

As it currently stands, I have a hand full of hogshit.



In Canada, the eleventh of November is called Remembrance Day. In the US, it's Veterans' Day. It used to be called (and still is, in some countries) Armistice Day.

Eighty-four years ago, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the armistice was signed that quieted the guns of the Great War. The more optimistic hoped that the war had been so horrible that there would be no more.

They were, of course, wrong, and horribly so.

So today, honor those who served their country. Pick up a phone, call a veteran, let them know that you are thinking of them this day.

That's what I did.

This Is Paul's Exciting Life


Watching college football all day is an acceptable substitute for working on my book, right?

Well, college football and a Tommy Lee Jones movie.

Things You Shouldn't Do In New York


Coming home from Union Square is usually a layup: take the N/R/Q/W from Union Square to 42nd St./Times Square and then transfer to the uptown 1/9/2/3. Piece of pie.

However.... a few nights ago, coming back uptown from Union Square after a rather enjoyable evening out, I managed to get myself so lost in thought that I managed to completely miss the Times Square stop.

Which then meant I had two choices: get out at 49th street and walk over to the 50th street stop on the 1/9 (and blow another train fare), or I could continue uptown on the R, get off and the next station where I could cross over, and take the next train back down to Times Square.

Of course, if I took the latter course of action, there was always the possibility that I'd miss the station again, this time going downtown....

A Pain In The Back


A Canuck friend recommended Robaxacet for back pain relief. I'd never heard of it, so she sent me the link.

I did some digging, and it appears that robaxacet is not availble below the 49th parallel over-the-counter (though it is available above the 49th parallel over-the-counter).

As a funny side note, the drug is availble in three forms:

  • Robaxin, which is the muscle relaxant methocarbamol;
  • Robaxcet, methocarbamol combined with acetaminophen (aka Tylenol);
  • and Robasixal, the muscle relaxant (and I'm quoting from the website here) "plus the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory power of ASA".

Well, I wonder, what the heck is this miracle drug "ASA"? I've never heard of it before.

I click around some more, and it turns out that "ASA" stands for acetylsalicylic acid.

Pretty fancy, eh? You've probably never even heard of acetylsalicylic acid. Unless, of course, you're the sort to actually read drug labels. And, if you are the type to read drug labels, you know that acetylsalicylic acid is a fancy way of spelling "aspirin".

I Know Halloween Is Over...

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...but for a truly spine-tingling tale of woe, check out Mike Whybark's tale of Powerbook Horror.

And in other news, you can now buy an iBook for less that $1,000.

It's a good thing I have no money right now, innit?



I'm never going to finish this damn book (on time, at least) if my damn back doesn't let up.

Grumble grumble.

Enter The Donkey

The Donk is back from his little catfish-fishing vacation with just oodles (really, more like mountains) of Goldsteinian Goodness. Really. Gobs of the stuff, if you really must know.

Check Him Out.


The Bad Dude (aka Brian Linse) sums up last night's travesty nicely.

Personally, I think that the Republicans won because they set the terms of the debate (Iraq). If the Democrats had been able to set the terms of the debate (the economy), they would have done much better.

It's really rather simple. Anyone remember how Clinton pulled it off in '92? "It's the economy, stupid."

On Civilization

Started reading Braudel's A History of Civilizations last night.

It's an interesting book, not the least because it was written in the early 1960s. Ferdnand Braudel was one of the first historians (along with Toyanbee) who revolted against the treatment of history as a simple recitation of people, places, and dates. He believed that history was a social science, and, as such, properly encompassed economics, political science, philosophy, and geography, among others (chapter 2 of this book is called "The Study Of Civilization Involves All the Social Sciences").

As you might imagine, it's more than just a history text; it's also a implicit criticism of the 'old' way of doing things.

Today, of course, Braudel and his disciples have pretty much won the war; it's virtually impossible to find a historian who doesn't approach history as a multi-discipline subject, at least at the collegiate level. Long gone are the rote recitations of famous dead people famous mainly for killing other famous dead people (traditional history can be summarized by noting that "history only remembers murderers and artists"), and instead, one looks at the vast canvas of different peoples and cultures.

Besides, you have to love a history book that opens with a six-page essay on etymology.

This Is A Job For A Professional

Word Up


One problem with trying to write a part-epistolary novel is that every time you start a new missive, that stupid little assistant shows up and says "It looks like you're writing a letter. Do you need help?"

No, you stupid piece of silicon garbage, I don't. If I type "Dear John" at the top of a new document, it might be a letter. If I type "Dear John" at the bottom of a 6,000 word document, it's probably not going to be a letter.

At least the assistant I have to deal with is the annoyingly cute Mini-Mac, not the simply annoying paperclip...

When In The Course of Human Events


So I went and exercised my civic duty this morning. The polling place was a little crowded -- I think that it was the pre-work (work? what's that?) rush -- and some of the people in the booths were taking far too long to make their selection. Adding to the mild confusion was the fact that New York City has redrawn voting districts this year, so if you were in Dictrict 22 last time, you might be in Districts 32, or 30, or 35 this time.

One odd thing is that the poll workers don't ask for any sort of ID -- you just show up, tell them your name, and they sign you in. I guess that it prevents any given name in the book from voting twice, but there's no guarantee that the person pulling the levers is actually the person that they say they are.

And why on earth do they only have one voting machine per district? I mean, I know that they're old machines (I'm sure that the ones we have today are the same ones that were used to elect Kennedy), but given that this is New York, with the highest population density in North America (OK, I just made that up, but it's still probably true), you'd think that they would have more than one machine per district, precisely because of the problems caused by the people I complain about in the next paragraph.

My other pet peeve about elections are people who take far too long in the booth. For me, it's simple. I go in, pull the lever, follow my father's advice, and then pull the lever again so I can leave. I mean, the voting booth is really not the time to make up your mind.

Anyway, my friend Ultrasparky has a few good reasons why voting is important.

When The Fecal Matter Impacts The Rotational Air Mover

Not My Contest

tony.jpgBut Tony Pierce's: he's having a competition to title a book marking a full year of the busblog.

So get over there and start stuffing his comment box with snarky suggestions.

Just don't steal any of mine. That would be rude.

More On Missing Canadians


More on the case of the Missing Canadian: The Toronto Star is reporting that he's been found in Syria and has been visited by the Canadian Consul.

This blog has also been following this story closely.

Thanks to Jeff Noronha for pointing these out to me.

Slipping Through The Cracks


This is one that the political bloggers seem to have missed: the US managed to deport a Canadian citizen to Syria.

Moreover, this guy wasn't even IN the US proper. He was transiting JFK, on his way back to Canada after visiting family in Tunisia.

The best part is that he seems to have completely vanished; no-one knows where he is...

Yes, it's getting easier.


4,297 words as of right now. That means that I'm already 8.6% done!

On the other hand, that also means that I'm 91.4% not done, so maybe I shouldn't start celebrating quite so early.

Given that I have several social engagements tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if I am able to get my 2000 words in. Well, there's only one way to find out...

Day One Done


Finished up my 2,000 words for day one of the book.

This fiction stuff is really hard work. It's the making shit up bit that's more difficult than you think it's going to be until you actually do it. I mean, you want 2,000 words on Chinese history or opera or classical music or networking, sure, I can bang that out in an hour (or two). But actually having to make this stuff up is hard work.

And now I gotta do another 2,000 words tonight or sometime this afternoon. Am I a glutton for punishment or what?

Desert Island Discs


Sasha Castel, in talking about the most popular operas in North America (as measured by the number of productions mounted), talks about her top-ten operas. It's not a particularly surprising list (well, to me, at least, since I've talked to her about it), though I did find it interesting that she went with Italian Girl in Algiers and L'Elisir D'Amore.

(if you want to find out my top ten, check the comments)

But that brings up an other question: what are the top ten all time pieces of classical music? Certainly everyone has their own idosyncratic list.

Here is mine:

  1. The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
  2. The Rite of Spring (Stravinsky)
  3. Don Quixote (R. Strauss)
  4. Four Last Songs (R. Strauss)
  5. Einstein On The Beach (Glass)
  6. Passcaliga & Fugue in c minor (J.S. Bach)
  7. Symphony #9 in d minor (Beethoven)
  8. Requiem Mass (Mozart)
  9. Solo Cello Suites (J.S. Bach)
  10. Piano Sonata #29 in B-flat major "Hammerklavier", Opus 109 (Beethoven)

There are other obvious candidates, too:

  • Piano Sonata #32 in c minor, Opus 111 (Beethoven)
  • 4'33" (Cage)
  • In C (Reilly)
  • The Art of Fugue (J.S. Bach)
  • The Well-Tempered Klavier (J.S. Bach)
  • Music in 12 Parts (Glass)
  • Anything he wrote past the age of 18 (Mozart)
  • Symphony #1 in c minor (Brahms)
  • Piano Concerto #1 in d minor (Brahms)
  • Symphonies #1-8 (Beethoven)
  • Piano Concertos #3-5 (Beethoven)
  • Music For Airports (Eno)

And so on. I could go on like this all night.

What's your list?

1,228 Down, 48,772 To Go

The first 1200 words of The Book.

I'm aiming for 2000 words per day, so I'll try to add at least another 800 later today.

Flying Pigs

This fiction writing business is harder than it looks.