What Orwell feared....what Huxley feared.

I've been meaning to post a link to Stuart McMillen's excellent Amusing Ourselves To Death, a brief illustrated breakdown of Orwell's ideas about the future vs. Huxley's (based on a book by Neil Postman). 1984 tends to get mentioned far more frequently in discussions of the future (or present), I think--but the vision in Brave New World looks mighty familiar.


Happy Thanksgiving

...to all who have ever sat (or continue to sit) at the "kids' table":

From Shouts & Murmurs: The Wisdom of Children by Simon Rich (New Yorker, 2007):

A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table

MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.


GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.

DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.

UNCLE: I’m having sex right now.

DAD: We all are.

MOM: Let’s talk about which kid I like the best.

DAD: (laughing) You know, but you won’t tell.

MOM: If they ask me again, I might tell.

FRIEND FROM WORK: Hey, guess what! My voice is pretty loud!

DAD: (laughing) There are actual monsters in the world, but when my kids ask I pretend like there aren’t.

MOM: I’m angry! I’m angry all of a sudden!

DAD: I’m angry, too! We’re angry at each other!

MOM: Now everything is fine.

DAD: We just saw the PG-13 movie. It was so good.

MOM: There was a big sex.

FRIEND FROM WORK: I am the loudest! I am the loudest!

(Everybody laughs.)

MOM: I had a lot of wine, and now I’m crazy!

GRANDFATHER: Hey, do you guys know what God looks like?

ALL: Yes.

GRANDFATHER: Don’t tell the kids.


Fake AP StyleBook

I learned about Fake AP StyleBook this morning via folderol. Though folderol wasn't, I'm apparently late to the game, as the 382-tweet Twitter account, active since October 20th, has already attracted an agent and possible book deal.

I spent my morning productively reading all 382 tweets. Here are my favorites:


FakeAPStyleBook posts:

"Bloody Mary" on first and second mentions, "Mary" on third to avoid summoning her through the mirror.

Use the word "cluster" like this: "Ricardo Montalban proffered a porcelain tray of delicious caramel nut clusters."

The Times New Roman font is neither new nor of Roman descent. 'Sup with that? SEE ALSO: Courier Font Not Used By Actual Couriers.

"Video Cassette Recorder" on first reference, "VCR" on second, "We're still talking about these?" thereafter.

Terms of art are only four years in length and art is not constitutionally allowed more than two consecutive terms.

Avoid excessive use of contractions. The baby will come when it comes.

Use "The Incredible Hulk" the first time in piece, then just "Hulk." See also Sensational Dionne Warwick, Mesmerizing Janet Reno.

Do not spell out laughs. Describe them: "He laughed muppetly."

In a byline, "With additional reporting by" can be shortened to "Big Ups To."

A 'queue' is a short line of people or other objects. A 'queueueueueue' is a longer line.

List sexual positions in alphabetical order. Remember, "alphabetical order" is itself a sexual position.

When covering a flood always include a photo of a dog stranded on a roof. Throw your own dog up there if needed.

The plural of BFF is "Heathers."

When referring to Lake Titicaca leave a lot of space afterwards for your readers to just laugh and laugh. (See also: "Ball State")

For unnamed sources, agree on an attribution that gives the reader an idea of who it is. Ex.: "rhymes with President Bobama"

Do not use Latin names of plants and insects. Use their American names, such as "viney grower" and "shit bug."

Do not use "Whoomp! There it is!" unless it actually is there.

Breasts should not be referred to as "jugs" unless you need it to rhyme with something else in the article. See also: cans, sweater puppies.

Stories about people who claim to have psychic abilities must always be written as though they aren't liars, for some reason.

''Hanson Dark'' or ''Menudo Latte'' may be used in place of ''Jonas Brothers.''

To denote air quotes, "use quotes."

Replace "situation deteriorated/worsened" with "shit [just] got real." Ex: On day three of the hostage crisis, shit got real.

The plural of "Pokemon" is "vermin."

Instead of either "multi-talented" or "multitalented" use "bisexual".

It is poor newsroom etiquette to throw yourself out of the window to prove that your co-worker is Superman.

Slander is harder to prove, so avoid libel charges by just yellin' that shit out the window.

The correct modifier for a student seeking a master's degree is "in for a disappointment."

Instead of prepositions, it's preferable to end sentences with propositions, so why don't we start a dry cleaning business?

When faced with a challenging name, simply refer to the individual by nicknames like "Scout" or "Champ".

Use "verbal" to compare words with some other form of communication ("poor verbal skills"), use "oral" to be more popular.

"Lego" is the plural. There is no singular because what the hell can you do with only one of them?

Use "inflammable" for wimpy stuff like sparklers, "flammable" for shit that blows up REAL GOOD.

The plural of "vagina" is "vaginas." The plural of "penis" is gross, nobody wants to read about that.

Avoid using the colloquialism "gonna." EXCEPTION: "You gonna eat the rest of that sandwich?"

Do not change weight of gorilla in phrase, “800-lb gorilla in the room.” Correct weight is 800 lbs. DO NOT CHANGE GORILLA'S WEIGHT!

While it’s tempting to call them ‘baristi’ because of the Italian roots, the plural of ‘barista’ is ‘journalism majors.’

Precede basic statements of fact with 'allegedly' to avoid accusations of bias: 'the allegedly wet water,' 'the allegedly poisonous poison'

Change British spelling to American spelling or risk being hung as a spy for the Queen.

Affect is verb: "The songs of Liza Minnelli affected the crops." Effect is noun: "Behold the effect Liza has on the corn!"

Use "i.e." when providing a specific clarifying example, and use "e.g." when referencing noted actor E.G. Marshall.

You may not say "no one could have suspected..." until you have interviewed everyone on planet Earth.

Take note; the semicolon is never to be used correctly.

Dr Pepper doesn't have a period in it. An easy way to remember this is 'Doctors are dudes and dudes don't get periods.'



Four minutes spent listening to just about any 86-yr-old speak on what s/he's seen is worth my time. Via BoingBoing, the April 09 testimony of an 86-yr-old WWII vet and lifelong Republican at a hearing on gay marriage in Maine:


MacArthur poets

After learning yesterday that Heather McHugh is one of the 2009 recipients of a MacArthur Fellowship (better known as MacArthur Genius Award/Grant), I got curious as to how many poets (and which poets) had previously been named fellows.

The answers?

40 poets, including McHugh, have received MacArthur Fellowships since the MacArthur Foundation began offering them in 1981.

Here they are, from least recent to most recent recipient:

A.R. Ammons
Joseph Brodsky
Derek Walcott
Robert Penn Warren
Brad Leithauser
A.K. Ramanujan
Robert Hass
Charles Simic
Galway Kinnell
John Ashbery
Daryl Hine
Jay Wright
Douglas Crase
Richard Kenney
Mark Strand
May Swenson
Allen Grossman
Jorie Graham
John Hollander
Alice Fulton
Eleanor Wilner
Amy Clampitt
Irving Feldman
Thom Gunn
Ann Lauterbach
Jim Powell
Adrienne Rich
Sandra Cisneros
Richard Howard
Thylias Moss
Susan Stewart
Linda Bierds
Edward Hirsch
Ishmael Reed
Campbell McGrath
Anne Carson
Lucia Perillo
C.D. Wright
Peter Cole
Heather McHugh


I haven't quit blogging...I've just been blogging on the inside.

A few things I've been meaning to post:

*Prolific author Terry Pratchett, diagnosed two years ago with early-onset Alzheimer's, has spoken in favor of the right to die (which I heartily support): "I believe that if the burden gets too great, those who wish should be allowed to be shown the door. In my case, in the fullness of time, I hope it will be in the garden under an English sky. Or, if wet, the library."

*After finishing Dave Eggers's Zeitoun (good), I found myself revisiting images of the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. weBranding's Project Katrina photo set is very strong.

*I enjoyed this short interview with George Takei, best known for his role as Sulu on Star Trek, but more recently known as a gay activist who married his partner of 22 years in San Francisco. Takei mentions asking Gene Roddenberry in the 80s why there weren't any queer crew members on the Enterprise: "“He gave me the stock answer that [being gay] doesn’t matter [in the 24th century],” Takei says. “I said, ‘Well, if it doesn’t matter, why don’t we see them?”" (Roddenberry did, Takei credits, tackle other political issues of the time on the show--TV's first interracial kiss was between Capt. Kirk and Uhura). Takei also speaks of having been imprisoned, as a very young boy, in a Japanese internment camp during WWII.

*If, like me, your mind seems to gawp helplessly when trying to imagine where we'll be in twenty--or even ten--years, you might appreciate the What's Next? Top Trends blog's posts on "The Future of Libraries" (scenario one, scenario two, scenario three, scenario four). They're well-written, thoughtful, and not at all just about libraries. An excellent read.

*Rachel Dacus has compiled a list of "Quick Turnaround Journals"--print and online journals that respond quickly to poetry submissions.

*"In the future, a famous person will die every fifteen minutes." -- Joanne McNeil (from article here)

*Hubby Hubby


The Flag of Equal Marriage

This would've been just in time for the 4th of July if I'd read my feeds this weekend. The flag of equal marriage is "an evolving protest flag for equal marriage rights in the United States." Stars on the US flag were added in the order of each state's admission to the union; those stars that stand for states that actively perform same-sex marriages will be added as more states decide in favor of equality for GLBTQ couples. Above, the January 2010 flag, with stars for Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.


"Persepolis 2.0"

Payman and Sina have taken images from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and remixed them with new captions and dialogue to illustrate the day before and the first few days after the election in Iran. Much attention is paid to social media's role in organizing and supporting protesters:

Persepolis 2.0


Can't help but think this would make a good subject

...for a great YA historical novel (or bad poem).

Via BoingBoing, an article in the July 2009 issue of The Psychologist on "dancing plagues" (and other forms of mass hysteria):

The year was 1374. In dozens of medieval towns scattered along the valley of the River Rhine hundreds of people were seized by an agonising compulsion to dance. Scarcely pausing to rest or eat, they danced for hours or even days in succession. They were victims of one of the strangest afflictions in Western history. Within weeks the mania had engulfed large areas of north-eastern France and the Netherlands, and only after several months did the epidemic subside. In the following century there were only a few isolated outbreaks of compulsive dancing. Then it reappeared, explosively, in the city of Strasbourg in 1518. Chronicles indicate that it then consumed about 400 men, women and children, causing dozens of deaths…

[click to read more of "Looking Back: Dancing Plagues and Mass Hysteria" by John Waller]


Godwin's Law, etc.

In looking for the definition of "teme" yesterday, I came across "Meme, Counter-meme", a great, short, older Wired article by Mike Godwin on the "Nazi-comparison meme" (and countering it):

It was back in 1990 that I set out on a project in memetic engineering. The Nazi-comparison meme, I'd decided, had gotten out of hand--in countless Usenet newsgroups, in many conferences on the Well, and on every BBS that I frequented, the labeling of posters or their ideas as "similar to the Nazis" or "Hitler-like" was a recurrent and often predictable event. It was the kind of thing that made you wonder how debates had ever occurred without having that handy rhetorical hammer...I developed Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one... (read whole article)


Oprah.com's got a list of "Five Books Everyone Should Read at Least Once". Her choices (or Oprah.com writer Vince Passaro's choices?): Lolita, T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, Waiting For Godot, and Things Fall Apart. Huh. I've tried to think of five books I think everyone should read and can't seem to do it. Everyone? Everyone? One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish floats to mind, or maybe Buber's I and Thou. You?


A list of the top 100 classical hits based on their exposure in "today's pop culture". Also, on Metafilter, What is that song they always use when…?--a list of musical cliches.


Brilliant idea, so-so execution until the last minute or so (which is worth waiting for): Buffy V. [the creepy] Edward Cullen, a video remix by Rebellious Pixels



Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version

Yes, there have been other literal music videos (click link below to see them), but this one outdoes the rest. At least treat yourself to the first 2 1/2 minutes:

--literal version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by dascottjr
--more literal music videos


Sex With Ducks

Riki "Garfunkel" Lindhome and Kate "Oates" Micucci sing a song in response to a Pat Robertson quote that legalizing gay marriage would lead to legalizing sex with ducks. Below or click to view.

See also: Garfunkel and Oates's "Pregnant Women Are Smug"

As soon as the lakes warm, I am playing nothing but "under-water duel" all summer.

From The Golden Book of Camping, 1959:

Via the ever-delightful Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves


Thank you, Ann Hodgman,

for your book club discussion questions in this week's New Yorker, the most hysterical piece of book-related writing I've read since John Crace's digested read of Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care.

Letting the hoe handle suck

Last weekend I found a copy of Jeffrey Kacirk's Informal English: Curious Words & Phrases of North America for 2 bucks. Here are some highlights:

booklegger -- 1. a person who deals in forbidden books 2. a book dealer who follows unfair practices

get the mitten -- to be rejected or discarded by one's sweetheart [you reach for the hand...and get the mitten]

gosling patch -- the period in which a boy's voice is changing. Also: in the goslings: in the period of changing voice

hat of woods -- a low growth of trees on the top of a small hill

leg drama -- a ballet

let the hoe handle suck -- to loaf and talk while one is supposed to be working

long sugar/long sweetness -- molasses

sposh -- a mixture of mud and snow or water

strawberry friend -- a moocher ("Many city people visit their backwoods cousins only when strawberries are ripe to get enough free berries for a year's supply of jam. Ozarks")

tetnit -- a child born of elderly parents

Board Books for Babies of GLBTQ Parents

Though some of us might prefer to do it in wedlock, there's no law stopping queers from having babies. Looking for a good baby shower gift for GLBTQ parents-to-be, but want something a little more literary than the camp classic Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner onesie?

Tricycle Press recently released Daddy, Papa, and Me and Mommy, Mama, and Me, both board books by Lesléa Newman. Lucía Moreno Velo's Manu series books--published in Spain but available through a US distributor--are bilingual board books about a toddler with two moms.

Now, if only Fiona Watt of (also great board-books-as-gifts for babies/toddlers, whoever their parents love) That's Not My Dinosaur [Puppy/Truck/etc] fame would put out a That's Not My Mama title (That's not my mama...her dress is too frilly. That's not my mama...her lipstick is too shiny. THAT'S my mama...her mohawk is so spiky).


"And then I die. Because we all have to die."

They've been out for a while, but I only recently clicked through to view Isabella Rossellini's "Green Porno" short films hosted by the Sundance Channel. If you haven't seen them yet, I can report that oh, my, they are worth the click. Here's "Limpet":

See more from the Green Porno series here.


Three more lines

to add to my long-ago 7/10 of the 10 Lines Meme:

Urge and urge and urge,/Always the procreant urge of the world. (Whitman)

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. (Shakespeare)

The first gaming system was the domesticated flame. (Lerner)


I wish there were (more?) poetry audiobooks. Not recordings of poetry readings. Not audio anthologies of 50 poets' 2 greatest hits, or 2 poets' 50 greatest hits. Books, in full, read aloud by readers who read aloud well. Harmonium. 77 Dream Songs. I've got The Complete Shakespeare Sonnets in audio, read by Ossie Davis, Kathleen Turner, Ruby Dee, etc., but that's it.


Our soon-to-be-outdated beliefs

Kottke points to a question posed on Reddit that has yielded some interesting answers:

So many of our grandparents were racist, and some of our parents are homophobes. Which of our own [time's] closely held beliefs will our own children and grandchildren be appalled by?

"That circumcision was once common," that some drugs are illegal while pharmaceuticals are practically pushed on us, that we smoked cigarettes, and that there was "religious overtolerance" are some of the answers posted to Reddit. I only skimmed but didn't see my number one on there: that we didn't [in most places] allow people--especially terminally ill people who feel they are being kept alive against their will and feel that they have no quality of life, but anyone, really--the right to die via assisted suicide.

Washington passed a "Death with Dignity" law this last election, and the new right to die there was recently exercised for the first time. Patient Linda Fleming, who had pancreatic cancer, said "The pain became unbearable, and it was only going to get worse. I am a very spiritual person, and it was very important to me to be conscious, clear-minded and alert at the time of my death." I am happy for her that she was able to choose to be so.



"Spotted in a men's room at Hunter College in NYC." --Urban Prankster (photo via Noah Britton's cell phone)


handicraft instructor, inchoate eyes

RunPee tells you the optimal time to run and pee while you're watching a movie, boon to all who regularly choose the largest Diet Coke the concession stand offers. I remember once running to pee after about 10 minutes of Christ dragging the cross up the hill in Mel Gibson's Passion, then returning to my seat for another 20 minutes of Christ dragging the cross up the hill (Stroll.............Pee).


From Dennis Cooper's blog: 69 Modern Classics Condensed via Amazon's SIPs (Statistically Improbable Phrases), a quiz. Many read nicely as is:

12. red hunting hat, tiny little kid

13. hands for the conch

19. pink hawthorn, little nucleus, little clan, little phrase

51. little china figures, judge stroked, judge nodded

57. black pickpocket, baize bag

61. handicraft instructor, inchoate eyes


From Brave New World:

"Who said that the technology and digital revolution was only for the young? When Ivy Bean heard that a 97-year-old French woman was the oldest member of Facebook she decided to join. She soon attracted 5,000 friends and has 17,775 people waiting to be her friend. Unless you know someone older, Ivy from Bradford is now the oldest Facebook member at 103 years old and has now joined Twitter and already has 9500 followers!"

The story's a few days old. I'm @IvyBean104's 14,510th follower on Twitter.

Some sample tweets from her account:

"hello all spending the morning reading wont be able to use lap top much today other residents are using it be in touch later

i am so happy i have got all these followers its really good

had a very nice lunch going to watch a film this afternoon i think we are watching the sound of music

me and my friend mabel are going to have a game of connect 4

Deal or no deal in 4hrs

@adam_lambert good luck"

by Zachary Kanin (and from The New Yorker)



One nice thing about Twitter is that you don't need an account or need to be "following" a user in order to view the user's tweets. Here's astronaut Mike Massimino's Twitter page, where you can read what he's tweeting from space. Some samples:

We see 16 sunrises and sunsets in 24 hrs, each one spectacular as the sun lights up the atmosphere in a spectrum of colors.

Just flew over the US, Baja to Miami in about 10 minutes! Beautiful Day!

Getting ready for bed, sleeping in space is cool, tie down your sleeping bag and float inside of it, very relaxing--

...and speaking of Twitter: is anyone (or everyone) you know Tweeting Too Hard?

Sculptor Heather Jansch makes lifesize horses from driftwood:

Heather Jansch


I haven't played too much with Wolfram|Alpha (the name's rhythm and the buzz about which remind me of "Keyser Söze") yet, but here are a few things I like so far:

--enter a color word--for ex., "ochre"--and you get a swatch, the 24-bit RGB values, the HTML hex code if there is one (also "nearest named HTML colors" hex codes) and swatches of "complimentary colors";

--enter the name of a school--for ex, "Oberlin College"--and you get its location on the map, info about when it was founded, enrollment and annual degrees awarded by field stats, accrediting agency, and link to the school's website;

--enter a date and the response includes, among other things, how many weeks and days ago it was (I'm 1,815 weeks--or 12,705--days old today. You?);

--enter a number of words--"5000 words"--and get back how many pages they'd amount to in a single-spaced or a double-spaced document (also the data size in MB "assuming 8-bit-coding"); and

--type in a word (in English--"manzana" gave me the unit of measurement, not the apple) and get the definition, synonym suggestions, pronunciation, and--here's the sweet part--frequency of occurrence in writing and in speech ("based on the 100-million-word British National Corpus").

I found these via trial and error, before noticing the Wolfram|Alpha examples page, which gives a much better, much quicker picture of what W|A can and can't do [grin]. Also of interest to library types might be the Wolfram|Alpha Community page, where users post what they'd like to be able to do with Wolfram|Alpha (you can subscribe to the feed).


Making it Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage--I'll wrestle you for the chance to get my hands on a library copy .

My local library offers RSS feeds, including one of just-ordered nonfiction books. I love being able to subscribe to these and see what's being ordered.

Except when I don't: yesterday I saw that the library's ordering two copies of
Nolo's Making It Legal : A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership and Civil Unions. Two copies. 26 libraries. Not two per library; two, period. In a major library system in a major metropolitan area. Not like gay marriage has been in the news lately or anything. We have 18 copies, for comparison, of Nolo's Patents for Beginners (product description: "Here's the primer every first-time inventor needs"), because there are nine times as many inventors in this metropolitan area as there are gay people interested in their legal rights.

But Emily, you say, Making it Legal is just one book. Surely the library has other books on gay couples' rights. Maybe they're only ordering two because the library already has plenty of resources on the topic!

True. The library system does own a copy of Nolo's 2007 A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples.


An estimated 450,000 people (from a variety of sources with little discrepancy) attended the Twin Cities Pride Parade & Festival last year. Guess I better get my name on the holds list quick for the new Nolo.

[and yes, I have used official & proper channels before to express my dismay over the library's embarrassing # of GLBTQ-related books and to ask for more copies. A couple times. No dice. ]

One might think the public library would be ashamed at the need for the Quatrefoil Library in St. Paul, a GLBTQ resource outside of the public library system one needs to pay $35/year to use (but which has a decent selection of queer books & periodicals). I know it would be ashamed if such a library was needed for other groups represented by the Diversity Committee--it would be clear that the public library was not doing its job. We should not have to build our own libraries in order to have access to resources about our lives, ourselves, our rights. The next time someone asks me, "Why does there need to be something like Gay Pride? I don't go to a Straight Pride parade," one of my answers will be "We go to know that we exist, because our libraries tell us we don't."


Literary Food Porn Follow-up: Beanbender's Potatoes

Aha! I have tracked down my copy of Daniel Pinkwater's The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death and can now post the Pinkwater passage about Beanbender's potatoes I referred to earlier:

"Beanbender's was a strange-looking structure. At first, it was hard to get any idea of its shape; it just seemed to be a collection of odd-looking dark lumps in the night. Then we could see that Beanbender's was made up of a number of dead trucks and a couple of railroad cars arranged in a circle, like covered wagons in the movies, made into a circle for protection against the Indians.

All the dead trucks and railroad cars were covered with wooden shingles and banked with earth and gravel above the wheels. A number of kerosene lanterns were fastened to the outside of the circle. There was a door, with a lantern on either side, lighting up a sign painted on a board. BEANBENDER'S, it said.

When we walked into Beanbender's we were smacked in the face by a whole lot of warmth, light, and good smells. There were lots of people in the open areas made by the trucks and railroad cars. They were sitting at tables made of giant cable spools and old doors laid across sawhorses. The whole place was lighted by candles stuck in bottles and kerosene lamps, and together with the wood shingles that were tacked onto the trucks and railroad cars, the dozens of flames made a warm, reddish glow under the dark sky.

In the middle of the circle was a big iron thing--sort of a basket--and some logs were burning in it, making more friendly light, good smells, and crackling noises.

There was a guy playing a little accordion, and some people were singing along with him. People had big mugs of beer and big, crisp-looking sausages and baked potatoes in their hands. They held the sausages and the baked potatoes wrapped in a paper napkin and took bites of them between swigs of beer. Even though it was late at night, three or four little kids ran around among the tables.

It was the greatest place I had ever seen.

Winston Bongo thought so, too. Rat, of course, had been there before. 'Have a beer?' she asked.

I had tasted beer before, and I hadn't liked it. It was sour and sort of soapy tasting. I never understood why anybody wanted to drink it. However, in Beanbender's it seemed that holding a mug of beer in one's hand was the thing to do, so I went up to the bar and got one along with Rat and Winston and Captain Shep Nesterman.

Beanbender's beer was nothing like the stuff in cans that my father drinks. It had a nutty taste, and it was cold and good. The guy at the bar was Ben Beanbender, the owner of the beer garden. He didn't ask us for identification or anything. He just filled mugs from a big barrel and handed them to us. I also got a baked potato. Ben Beanbender poked a hole in one end with his thumb, slapped in a hunk of butter, salted and peppered the potato, wrapped it in a napkin, and handed it to me. It was great! The potato was almost too hot to hold, and the salty butter dribbled onto my sleeve. It tasted just fantastic with the beer. The beer and the baked potato cost fifty cents. It's the best deal in Baconburg."


Oh, this is wonderful.

"Michele Bachman" Revealed As Elaborate "Borat"-Style Hoax

Native Names map

[cross-posted from LISNews]

National Geographic has created a fantastic interactive "Native Names" U.S. map. Towns and states with native names are labeled with their names' literal translations--so you see "Shakes Himself" instead of "Kupunkamint Mountain, MT" and "They are killers" instead of Yosemite, CA. Clicking on a translated name allows you to see the native name again.


Literary Food Porn

A majority of the scenes I remember from favorite childhood books--the images that stick with me, the passages I once read over and over--are pure literary food porn.

I was disappointed as a teenager when I ate Turkish Delight for the first time, having always imagined Edmund selling his soul to the White Witch for something that tasted like chocolate mint meltaways (clever lad!), not a mixture of jelly and agar (dolt).

Reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, I admired Jamie's automat selection, when he had no naysaying parents around, of macaroni & cheese and coffee for breakfast to the point that it stuck in my mind as an ideal breakfast for years (even after I'd eaten it for breakfast).

My favorite page in Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever featured breakfast vocabulary; I loved the baking of the enormous crusty loaf in The Giant Jam Sandwich; Paddington Bear got me interested not in bears but in marmalade and standing on tables full of teacakes. Sara Crewe sharing meat pies with Ermengarde was obviously the best scene in A Little Princess.

Searching the web just now for a description of the baked potato to be had at Beanbender's Beer Garden (from Daniel Pinkwater's The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death), an ultimate toecurler of a literary meal that I won't even try to describe myself, I was surprised to find that I had already written Pinkwater about the book and potato, in 1999, at The P-Zone: Talk to DP Forum [only today did I see his reply]:

September 24th, 1999
From: Emily Lloyd

I wanted, by my side, a copy of The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death so badly that I was about to steal one from my local library*. What a thrill to find it back in print.

Typin' with one thumb in a peppered potato,


*I work in my local library, so it was especially nice not to have to commit a crime at the workplace.


DP replies:

I think I've been in your library! Unless it's a common thing for library employees in general to work with their thumb in a baked potato. Actually, I have done so myself. It's very pleasant in cold weather.


...so I was happy to learn via Maud Newton's blog of a blog called Literary Food Porn, which has so far covered literary food descriptions from Patricia Highsmith to Laura Ingalls Wilder (they chose Little House on the Prairie; I'd choose Farmer Boy) to Gogol. Keep your lavishly illustrated Nigella Contessa cookbooks. Gimme a "huge platter of watercress sandwiches, along with a plate, a knife, a fork, a spoon, salt and pepper, a glass of water, and a linen napkin, nicely folded."

MayDay 2009 on Flickr

Flickr means never having to say "I forgot my camera" (or "I was too lazy to take pictures"). The Heart of the Beast Theatre's MayDay Parade and Festival now has a Flickr pool--957 photos of Sunday's events in Powderhorn Park have been posted so far. The below were taken by Flickr user egusto, who gave me permission to post some of my favorites from his MayDay set here:

Best costume in the parade, and the only logical way to wear neckties.

Papier-mache dung beetles rolling papier-mache balls of dung. As my brother said, "Everything I've ever made in papier-mache looked like dung."

Nobody puts River in a corner.


Fill the Gap

As institutions continue to try to make their web presences relevant and engage visitors in participation via Web 2.0 tools, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art (blog) makes a genius entry into the fray. "Fill the Gap" challenges "citizen curators" to select replacement works of art for the gaps in Luce Foundation Center display cases created when works in the collection are loaned to other institutions.

From the blog: "If an object is leaving for more than twelve months, the Luce Center staff is responsible for selecting a replacement. It's a lengthier process than you might imagine. We work with the registrar, conservation, and curatorial departments to ensure that the artwork will fit in the gap (the cataloged dimensions for paintings do not include the frames!), has no outstanding conservation issues, is appropriate for the theme of the case, and has not been selected for any upcoming loans or exhibitions.

This has been a busy year so far. More than forty paintings are slated to leave the Luce Foundation Center for other exhibitions, and it is only March! For this reason, we decided to open up this process and ask our online communities for help. Using Flickr, we can share a photo of a case that needs a replacement artwork, provide information about all of the other works in the case, and challenge people to search our collections in order to find an appropriate substitution."

Smart! A repeating contest that...

*offers a prize that costs the institution nothing, but makes the winner feel a part of the institution (creates relationships) and has value as an honor;

*crowdsources the work of the institution in an exciting (challenging, a puzzle) way and saves workers' time;

*encourages a closer look at the institution's collection and may inspire feedback on searchability and collection organization; and

*goes deeper than the one-way "name our dolphin/space station" or "post a photo interpreting our theme to our Flickr stream" invitations cropping up all over the web.

A good model.
Excerpt from Wired's intriguingly--? accurately--? grandly? thought-provokingly-titled article Culture May Be Encoded in DNA:

Normally, male finches learn their complex courtship songs from their uncles and fathers. But if there are no vocal role models around, the song will deviate from the traditional song and be harsh to female finch ears. Each bird, then, must learn from his father or uncles, as they learned from their fathers, and so on--but this can only take us so far down the lineage.

“It’s the classic ‘chicken and the egg’ puzzle,” Mitra said. “Learning may explain how the son copies its father’s song, but it doesn’t explain the origin of the father’s song.”

Mitra’s team wanted to find out what would happen if an isolated bird raised his own colony. As expected, birds raised in soundproof boxes grew up to sing cacophonous songs.

But then scientists let the isolated birds give voice lessons to a new round of hatchlings. They found that the young males imitated the songs--but they tweaked them slightly, bringing the structure closer to that of songs sung in the wild. When these birds grew up and became tutors, their pupils’ song continued to conform, with tweaks.

After three to four generations, the teachers were producing strapping young finches that belted out normal-sounding songs.

[read whole article--includes mp3s of the different generations' songs]


Nicollet Salvation Army store, ladies' section, this afternoon

Me [silently shirt shopping, several colorful shirts draped over arm]

Man: [pulling shirt off rack a few feet away from me] You want to try this one? I can see that you like colors.

Me: No thanks. I'm good.

Man: [noticing my ring] You doing any shopping for your man today?

Me: No.

Man: Why not?

Me: Because my man is a woman.

Man: You going to Iowa?


Author Orson Scott Card has joined the board of the National Organization for Marriage, the folks who gave us "The Gathering Storm" PSA on gay marriage.

Card has long been known to be outspokenly anti-gay. It still surprises me, though, to see someone who came up with the coolly logical Ender, the Ender who held his tongue, observed from a distance, and calculated possible outcomes before acting, choose the vehicles Card does for conveying his anti-GLBTQ beliefs. You'd think Card could mount a stunning, well-reasoned argument against gay rights (I'm not sure what it would be, exactly, but), but in his political columns he jumps quickly to straight-out flailing, wildly lashing out and committing logical fallacies at every other turn. For example, from Card's 2008 article, "State Job is Not to Redefine Marriage":

A term that has mental-health implications (homophobe) is now routinely applied to anyone who deviates from the politically correct line. How long before opposing gay marriage, or refusing to recognize it, gets you officially classified as "mentally ill"?

(Go ahead, read the article. The thing about seeing an isolated Card quote on GLBTQ issues is that one is tempted to think "It can't be as bad as it sounds--the quote was taken out of context." But with Card, in context doesn't help: the article is full of soundbites like this).

This kind of fallacious thinking, this rushing-to-jump-to-conclusions, this hotheadedness and fear-mongering, is exactly what Card exposes in Ender's Game in the character of Bonzo Madrid (and in parts of Peter). How could someone who created Bonzo to knock him down and expose the flaws in his strategy keep pulling Bonzos when it comes to arguing against GLBTQ rights? What Card should be doing, if he's chosen this fight, is imagining how Ender would argue against GLBTQ rights.

I think I've mentioned before here that I don't think it's at all a stretch to see Ender's Game as a book chock-full of queer sensibility. Ender is a Third; Ender is an outsider; Ender is acutely aware of how he's different from other kids. Something about Ender bothers macho boys, who want to kill him or beat him up (Stilson, Bonzo). Ender's Game rejects poles of masculinity and femininity: Peter is not chosen for Battle School because he's too war-like and violent (traditionally seen as masculine qualities in our culture); Valentine is not chosen because she's too compassionate and gentle (traditionally seen as feminine qualities); Ender's balance of masculinity and femininity is key to his success. Petra, a female character without traditional feminine qualities, is also successful in Battle School. Then, you know, you have the soap-slippery naked wrestling in the shower scene. And a character named Dink.

Ender is all about self-control. Card's anti-GLBTQ writings seem out-of-control and desperate (again, like Bonzo). It's this that surprises me more than the content of Card's beliefs.


"Did you miss me?" Ned asked with a grin as he helped me out of my hybrid car.

--first sentence of a 2008 Nancy Drew novel, Pageant Perfect Crime. It amuses me that the car has changed but the boy has not: still "Ned," still grinning, still helping Nancy out of cars.



Andre Michelle's ToneMatrix is mesmerizing. I think it might have healing properties.

See also (previously blogged here): play virtual Harry Partch instruments online

Call for Participation: "None of the Above" at MCBA

Via Crg Hill's poetry scorecard:

Assembling, Collaborating and Publishing in the Eternal Network

In an ambitious assembling-style project, Minnesota Center for Book
Arts invites any and all to send 125 copies of anything (within reason
– see below) that will fit into a 9” x 12” envelope. This project is
in conjunction with MCBA’s upcoming exhibition None of the Above:
Assembling, Collaborating and Publishing in the Eternal Network.

An assembling project represents the ultimate in democratic art.
Everything submitted will be included in the publication (or series of
publications, depending on how many people participate). In return for
your efforts, you receive a selection of 89 different works created by
others who participate.

Who’s invited? Artists, writers, printmakers, zinesters, poets,
photographers, xerographers, pamphleteers, cartoonists, diagrammers,
visualists, mail-artists, transitionalists, minimalists, maximalists,
pencilers, stencilers, composers, medics, bookleteers, decoders,
conceptualists, transcribers, documentarians, historians,
storytellers, manifestoans, CDsters, designers, anti-artists,
ventriloquists (make the paper sing!), book artists, book artists who
are ventriloquists, whoever so chooses and those chosen – meaning you!
Plus, you can exercise reckless editorial control or lack thereof by
forwarding this invitation to others.

What to send? Any means of expression is fine (paper, CDs, stickers,
popsicle sticks) but it can be no larger than 8.5” x 11” (21.6 cm x
27.9 cm) and 1/8” thick (.3 cm). It can be folded, stitched, crushed,
flattened, etc. Shrunk-via-shrink-ray submissions are okay. If you
need a theme, submissions will be compiled in publications titled
“None of the Above.” How’s that for clear direction?

How many to send? Submit 125 copies. 89 of these will go to other
participants. Additional copies will be archived, distributed to
donors/volunteers, and a small number will be sold as a fundraiser for

What else to send? So that we can send you your copy of the
publication, include a sheet of paper with your name and postal
address. Also include $5 in U.S. funds – checks payable to Minnesota
Center for Book Arts – to cover the cost of envelopes and postage.

Where to send: None of the Above, c/o Minnesota Center for Book Arts,
1011 Washington Ave South, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55415

Deadlines: If we receive submissions by August 21, 2009, they will be
displayed as part of the associated exhibition. To be included in the
publication, submissions must be received no later than October 24,

A special collating event will occur at MCBA on Saturday, October 24,
2009. For those who would like to participate, you may bring your 125
copies that evening rather than mailing. There is no fee. Please email
Jeff Rathermel, MCBA’s Artistic Director (jrathermel@mnbookarts.org)
by October 16, 2009 if you will be participating. Arrive at 7 pm,
assembly lines commence at 7:30 pm.

If you have questions about the publication, contact Jeff Rathermel at jrathermel@mnbookarts.org
To learn more about Minnesota Center for Book Arts, visit www.mnbookarts.org.


Short, smart PSA from the government of South Australia encouraging flu shots (below or click to watch):

Dorothea Lasky is as fond of the idea of "projects" in poetry as I am. I disagree with her about "community," though.


A new collection of previously unpublished essays by Mark Twain, Who Is Mark Twain?, is available free from DailyLit in 55 email or RSS installments. Here's a taste:

Whenever I Am about to Publish a Book

Whenever I am about to publish a book, I feel an impatient desire to know what kind of a book it is. Of course I can find this out only by waiting until the critics shall have printed their reviews. I do know, beforehand, what the verdict of the general public will be, because I have a sure and simple method of ascertaining that. Which is this—if you care to know. I always read the manuscript to a private group of friends, composed as follows:

1. Man and woman with no sense of humor.

2. Man and woman with medium sense of humor.

3. Man and woman with prodigious sense of humor.

4. An intensely practical person.

5. A sentimental person.

6. Person who must have a moral in, and a purpose.

7. Hypercritical person—natural flaw-picker and fault-finder.

8. Enthusiast—person who enjoys anything and everything, almost.

9. Person who watches the others, and applauds or condemns with the majority.

10. Half a dozen bright young girls and boys, unclassified.

11. Person who relishes slang and familiar flippancy.

12. Person who detests them.

13. Person of evenly-balanced judicial mind.

14. Man who always goes to sleep.

These people accurately represent the general public. Their verdict is the sure forecast of the verdict of the general public. There is not a person among them whose opinion is not valuable to me; but the man whom I most depend upon—the man whom I watch with the deepest solicitude—the man who does most toward deciding me as to whether I shall publish the book or burn it, is the man who always goes to sleep. If he drops off within fifteen minutes, I burn the book; if he keeps awake three-quarters of an hour, I publish—and I publish with the greatest confidence, too. For the intent of my works is to entertain; and by making this man comfortable on a sofa and timing him, I can tell within a shade or two what degree of success I am going to achieve. His verdict has burned several books for me—five, to be accurate.


Not "Waiting" But "Drowning"

On 9/17/07, the Virginia Quarterly Review blog ran a list of the most frequently-occurring titles of submissions they'd received in the past year (I blogged the list here). Yesterday, they released an update.

Here are the 10 most common titles of submissions they’ve received in the past two years:


As VQR blogger Waldo Jaquith notes, there is no overlap from 2006-2007's 10 most common titles (though I have to admit, when I first read the new list, it sounded awfully similar. Heck, it still does!):


From "Insomnia" to "Sleep" (How many submissions were titled "Ambien"?) ! From "Work" to "Home" (reflection of unemployment rate?)! From "Butterfly" to "Untitled" (hard to say which is worse)! From "Voyeur" to "Aubade" (did someone open the window and let him/her in?)!

I love VQR for posting stuff like this.


Via Helene Blowers:

Does anyone else find it disturbing that Webster's definition of library contains a link to "morgue"? link
[cross-posted from LISNews]:

Ouch. In the May 2009 issue of Body + Soul magazine--"A Martha Stewart Publication"--"renting a book" via BookSwim is #1 on a list of "6 Simple Ways to Better Your Life and the Planet."

The magazine copy reads [bold mine], "Looking for a good read? Try renting books Netflix-style with bookswim.com. It's easier than going to the library and greener than buying from the store."


In memoriam: Janet Armstrong, 1976-2009

Traveler, adventurer, friend.
Janet died this morning of ovarian cancer.

Easter AIG Hunt

Via Urban Prankster: "The latest stencil from street artist Above has been released just in time for both Easter and the collapse of the world economy."

From "Made in U.S.A," an article by Patricia Marx in the 03/16/09 New Yorker:

"Do you remember when foreign stuff was still exotic? It used to be exciting to buy things that weren't made in America--Pier 1 Imports was like Shangri-La."

Obama Knows Storytime

Here's President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are to kids at the Easter Egg Roll this past Monday--standing up, moving around, engaging the kids with questions about the text, and generally performing like he's had early-literacy-focused storytime training (or just has common sense when it comes to reading to kids). His "wild rumpus" sound effects are a little tame--more of a cute rumpus:


"That’s a really good question, but I don’t know. Someone should pick that up as a thesis at Hampshire College."

—Amy Poehler, on why there haven't been more openly gay cast members on Saturday Night Live. (There has only been one: Terry Sweeney. He lasted just one season, 1985-86.)

Heh, heh.
[via Queerty]

National Poetry Map

Click state, find "local poets, poems, events, literary journals, writing programs, poetry organizations, and more."


From Sweet Juniper's Collection of Terrifying Nixon-Era Children's Books come these images from the story of Eric; his pet bird, Snow; and Eric's grandfather [no title available]:

"my inane envelopes"

I'm just tucking into Denise Duhamel's KA-CHING!, which my public library system miraculously decided to purchase, and already I want to quote Duhamel's "eBay sonnets":

Pity my rough drafts, my false starts, my trade-
mark pink SASEs I was sure would catch
a big editor's attention. But batch
after batch of my poems came back with staid
"no thanks" notes in my inane envelopes.
I worked in a rare bookstore in Cambridge,
selling first editions and unabridged
collections of Alexander Pope,
which made me think longevity was creepy—
some poets relegated to bargain bins
while other poets were like mannequins,
modeling their in-vogue verse obliquely
from their famous graves. I was twenty-one.
I worshipped every poet's skeleton.

Mannequins! You can read eBay sonnets in full at Verse Daily.
On Twitter:

elloyd74: Boy: "I need a book on myth." Me: "Greek myths?" Boy: "I didn't know there were different kinds." Turns out he'd said meth.

itsjustkate: @elloyd74 That Greek meth is hardcore. They cut it with feta.


Tattoo envy: Jill Alexander Essbaum's poetic feet:


*Addict-o-matic (tagline: "inhale the web") is an impressive new-to-me tool for creating a quick snapshot of what's currently being said/posted online about a given topic. Enter your search term and see results from YouTube, Digg, Twitter, Technorati, Flickr, Delicious, and many others, all on one page. (via Phil Bradley)

*via folderol, a clean and simple "Economy Tracker" map from CNN--mouse over a state to see its current unemployment rate

*via Julie Dill (at someecards):

*via JB (from pictures for sad children):

*via Jessy Randall, a new favorite poem--David Mason's "Song of the Powers"

La Revolution Des Crabes

A 2003 short by Arthur de Pins:


Diet Coke with Lime: "Guess What It Tastes Like"

Hmm. It looks like one now needs a password to access poems archived in Three Candles. Bummer, as one of the points (for me) in publishing online is in having stuff accessible to a wider audience than might purchase a print journal. I'm re-posting one of the three I published there here, for the fabulous Jessy Randall. It was written around the time Diet Coke with Lime came out.

Diet Coke with Lime: "Guess What it Tastes Like"

I guess it tastes like petals on a wet, black bough
I guess it tastes like the farmer's daughter
just after she's milked the cow
I guess it tastes like whatever she'll allow

I guess it tastes like the uncut hair of graves
I guess it tastes like getting your test back
and learning you don't have AIDS
I guess it tastes like the mome raths as they outgrabe

I guess it tastes like blackberry, blackberry, blackberry
I guess it tastes like riding back and forth
all night on the ferry
I guess it tastes like Diet Coke with Cherry

I guess it tastes like world enough and time
I guess it tastes like the night
of cloudless climes
I guess it tastes like nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless


In DC visiting family. The "nwa" logos all over the airport make me think not of Northwest Airlines, but of Niggaz with Attitude. The metro card day passes have Obama on them. We saw a bathroom sign: "NO TAMPOONS IN TOILET. PLEASE CLEAN UP BEHIND YOURSELF."


Found The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes in the stacks today and took it to lunch. The below made me laugh out loud in the break room, which I (naturally) never do:

*From Following My Creative Writing Teacher's Advice to Write "Like My Parents Are Dead", by Ellie Kemper:

Autumn Days Are Fleeting

There was a slight nip in the air, and I pulled my anorak closer. The leaves were beginning to turn. Orange, brown, bright yellow. Autumn, I thought. I inhaled deeply, imagining the crisp air filling my lungs. Oh, God. I miss Mom. Why did you take her from me, God? Why did she have to die? She is gone.

Seven Days, Five of Them Working

I agreed with Cynthia. I did. Four hours would never be enough time to prepare the presentation. There was too much data. There were too many bar graphs. It wasn't our fault. We were told the meeting would be on Thursday; it got bumped back to Wednesday. Oh, God. Wednesday. My dad's favorite day. What was it that he used to call it again? Oh, yeah: Hump Day. I miss Dad so much.

[read whole piece]

*From Social Security Denies Gregor Samsa's Disability Claim by Alex St. Andrews:

Important Notice
GREGOR SAMSA Is Not Eligible for SSI

We are writing about GREGOR SAMSA's claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Based on a review of his/her medical condition, he/she does not qualify for SSI payments on this claim. This is because he/she is not disabled or blind under our rules.

The Decision on GREGOR SAMSA's Case

You listed the following impairment(s) on your SSI application:




You said the above impairment(s) affected you in the following way(s):





[read whole piece]


Tom Giesler's "my anatomy"

Very fond of Tom Giesler's "my anatomy"--click to view more, larger.

an extra set of memories

From Why Time Seems to Slow Down in Emergencies, a 2007 article by Charles Q. Choi:

When a person is scared, a brain area called the amygdala becomes more active, laying down an extra set of memories that go along with those normally taken care of by other parts of the brain.

"In this way, frightening events are associated with richer and denser memories," [researcher and neuroscientist David] Eagleman explained. "And the more memory you have of an event, the longer you believe it took."

Eagleman added this illusion "is related to the phenomenon that time seems to speed up as you grow older. When you're a child, you lay down rich memories for all your experiences; when you're older, you've seen it all before and lay down fewer memories. Therefore, when a child looks back at the end of a summer, it seems to have lasted forever; adults think it zoomed by...


You can get yourself dirty...

Robert Archambeau does a great job of articulating the significance of Adam Lambert's "Ring of Fire" performance on last week's American Idol. I know I jumped around when I saw it, hardly believing I was seeing it. Here was this large, fairly mainstream American Idol audience, expecting an evening like a Hilary Duff film, and getting Velvet Goldmine, or a Gregg Araki film, or Robert Mapplethorpe's Self Portrait with Whip.

Archambeau writes, "[Lambert] wasn't (like Aiken) a singer who happened to be gay. He was a gay man singing as a gay man." He was a gay man singing as a gay man, and NOT singing a show tune or an Erasure song, I'd add. Thanks to years of swishy comic relief characters and Oh SNAP! and "gay attitude," America was equipped to fairly comfortably accept last year's Danny "Ish" Noriega. America's Next Top Model's Miss J made us slightly less comfortable (he's so committed), but we're used to her by now.

Adam Lambert is "a gay man performing as a gay man"--and performing the sort of performance often reserved for a gay audience. He's not Nathan Lane, and he's not Rupert Everett, "a straight woman's gay best friend." He took the audience into (what I'm slightly embarrassed to call, but want to call) the catacombs of gay experience. I'm sure he made at least one spectator think "I want my mommy!" (or "I want 'YMCA'!")

Here's the performance (or click to view). I've always liked the Cash original, and how the trumpets and clippity-clop pace sort of wink at the heavy lyrics. Lambert's version emphasizes the heavy lyrics--making it a different song entirely.



I loved re-encountering this image at Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves. It's from The Golden Book of 365 Stories, and for a long time represented my ideal home or social life: everything feels intimate, "social," and cozy, but (chicken pals excepted) everyone's reading alone in her own little space.