She writes like Sloane Crosley!
Archive for January, 2009
She writes like Sloane Crosley!
gojira2012 has added a photo to the pool:
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
"The Birds-of-a-Feather Affair"
by Michael Avallone
E. Greens Forlag, Oslo
gojira2012 has added a photo to the pool:
"Edge of the Law"
Lommeroman fra Ingar Weyer Tveitan Forlag.
I’m not tagging anyone, but here’s that Things thing, Facebook pals and others.
1. It is very easy to make me feel guilty about almost anything.
2. I am also a champion worrier.
3. I started listening to audiobooks as a way to shut off the hamster wheel in my head and get to sleep at night.
4. I am not as neurotic as 1-3 make me sound.
5. I think.
6. I don’t want kids, but I very much enjoy the children of my friends.
7. I don’t have an office. I write in coffeeshops, at the table, on the couch, at the studio, in bed, etc. Sometimes I think I’d write more if I had a dedicated space, but apparently I don’t think this strongly enough to create one.
8. I am a sucker for intelligent shelter magazines; unfortunately, they never seem to last.
9. I’ve pretty sure I’ve seen more live music so far in my thirties than I did in the entirety of my twenties.
10. I still have the “bouquet” — baby’s breath only — that my friend Kat gave me to carry at my extremely tiny wedding in 1997.
11. I’m not trying for clever artistic effects in my Flickr photos; it’s just that I take them with my phone.
12. I sprained my ankle twice in high school: once while building a house in Mexico with my church youth group, and once while getting ready for a show where I was going to run lights.
13. It’s rare for me to see a first-run movie in the theater.
14. I have no sense of direction, and it delights me when I find out that people I admire (Susan Cooper, Oliver Sacks) share this disability.
15. The only time I got an A+ in ninth grade biology was in the genetics unit, and it was entirely because I had just read Robert Heinlein’s “The Tale of the Twins Who Weren’t.”
16. The worst simile I’ve ever used in a story was when I described something as “spinning like so many coins tossed to determine their fates.”
17. I am the only author I know who has never checked her Amazon ranking.
18. My proudest moment with Spanish comprehension: translating a dirty joke back into English. But I was aided by the accompanying gestures.
19. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between loyalty and a rut.
20. I hate TV-as-background. If the set is on, let it be showing something I want to see, please.
21. I often dread social events where I’ll be meeting new people, but equally often end up enjoying them tremendously.
22. I’d rather get an extra blanket or a sweater than turn up the heat.
23. I enjoy wandering by myself with no one knowing where I am, but this is an increasingly difficult state to achieve, what with cell phones, etc.
24. Oddly, #14 combined with #23 almost never result in my actually getting lost.
25. I am frequently intimidated by the accomplishments of my friends.
Everybody’s talkin’ about Canada—not as much as before the election of Barack Obama took the git up from so many would-be exiles but even if you haven’t followed Rangers hockey since Phil Esposito retired, Canada is a tough place to keep out of the conversation. In the large orthodox Jewish community of Midwood, Brooklyn, a bakery at the corner of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue K touts its challah as “Canadian Style,” don’t ask why. In hillbilly music the voices of Wilf Carter and Hank Snow (born in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia) still sing out across the borough. Hugh Kenner, the great writer upon Ezra Pound and other like minded moderns was from Toronto— a former student of Annie Hall star Marshall McLuhan no less. The Enemy and Tyro himself, Wyndham Lewis spent a couple unhappy years in that city, subject of his novel Self-Condemned, while a province to the east, Montreal poet Louis Dudek showed the world there was way more sweat, sex, anomie and irreverence— a lot more fun— in the Canadian letters racket than forced exposure to Northrop Frye ever suggested.
Step into the arena, University of Toronto philosopher Mark Kingwell: professor, sportsman, critic, mixologist and all-around exemplar that a life of the Canadian mind can thrive as a laugh riot of rigor and impulse. While some of Mark’s work is necessarily pitched towards academics, the majority of his writing is accessible to anyone who digs intellectual heft with their reportage (a rare thing) and laughter with their philosophy (even rarer). Like a one-man Concert at Massey Hall*, the range of Mark’s recent work is pretty staggering: there’s Opening Gambits: Essays on Art and Philosophy (2008); Nearest Thing To Heaven: The Empire State Building and American Dreams (2007); Classic Cocktails: A Modern Shake (2007), his introduction to the “shit-heel”-loving Idler’s Glossary by Joshua Glenn and the thrilling volume under discussion below, Concrete Reveries: Conciousness and the City (Viking, 2008). On a warm autumn afternoon, I met Mark by the Glenn Gould statue outside the CBC studios in Toronto. Since he wasn’t sure what I looked like, upon approaching Mark and Glenn I inquired in a deadpan Newfoundland accent, “Excuse me, Sir, which way to the Greyhound?”
“Vodka and grapefruit juice, over ice in a collins glass,” Kingwell replied without hesitation. That’s the way to a Greyhound, mate! Ting soda may replace the grapefruit juice to make a Caribbean Whippet.”
* On May 15, 1953, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Brooklyn-native Max Roach performed at Massey Hall; they were not then all friends.
Mark Kingwell: Stone. Concrete is the rendering of earth into the ultimately pliable material. It’s not carved or smelted, it’s mixed and poured, like cake batter. That means it has an almost infinite formal elasticity. Such a shame that so much of the concrete around us is in the forms of slabs and walls and paved-over green spaces. Concrete can really be so much more. (more…)
2. I am neutral to mildly negative about nutmeg (it seems to me clearly inferior to cinnamon and cloves as far as that sort of spice goes), but I become vituperatively against it when it is put into creamed spinach. THAT IS JUST WRONG.
3. I have a bad habit of leaving bits of trash – an apple core, a piece of chewing-gum wrapped in paper, a few used tissues – on the floor by the couch I have been reading on.
4. When I want to, I can read absurdly quickly – my eye moves down the middle of the page in a straight line and takes everything in. This is bad for light reading purposes (because there is actually not enough perfect light reading in the world) but good when it comes to work.
5. When I started graduate school, my raised hand and voice would shake with nervousness when I asked a question after a talk. My friend Emily Steiner and I made a pact that we would overcome nerves by asking a question at every single talk we ever went to, and it is now one of my trademarks.
6. My English grandmother, when any hint of gloominess or self-pity entered into the manner of my grandfather or anyone else, would say, bracingly, “Buck up, old chap!” Sometimes I say these words to myself – I like them because they make me think of her, but they also seem to me very good advice!
7. I understand and appreciate the difference between good food and bad food, but I cannot be bothered to cook anything myself – food is fuel, some of it is tastier and/or more nutritious and some less so, but it does not interest me to experiment with producing lovely foods myself.
8. Ditto for clothes and also for interior decoration – if it were possible to do so without attracting unwanted attention, I would wear a navy-blue boiler suit every day and not have to worry about clothes at all, and I cannot be bothered to pay any attention to my living environment, which is accordingly fairly monastic/spartan.
9. I am fond of miniature things! Pastel-colored petits fours strike me as the height of desirability on the cake front.
10. As an art, oil painting does not mostly speak to me – I much prefer watercolor as a medium.
11. When I’m out for a run with friends, I unconsciously pick up my pace as soon as we begin to talk about plans for training and racing.
12. I used to play a lot of different wind instruments: clarinet, oboe and recorder as the primary ones, but I also enjoyed the spinoffs (English horn, bassoon, saxophones of different sizes, random early instruments like krumhorns).
13. I like cardigans with zippers.
14. I do not like wearing socks, and the weather has to drop into the teens for me to be willing to put on a pair in everyday life. (But socks are necessary in running shoes.)
15. When I hear about something interesting or intriguing, I cannot rest until I have tracked down a satisfactory account of it.
16. I love the library stacks.
17. I am also disproportionately fond of certain Library of Congress call numbers.
18. I do not like talking on the phone.
19. I do not have a driver’s license.
20. My bicycle is a Specialized Roubaix.
21. I am not yet in love with cycling, but I am hoping that I might fall for it sometime later this spring.
22. I believe that as long as the desire is strong enough, it is possible to accomplish almost anything with sustained hard work.
23. My talents as an academic are more striking than my talents as a novelist, but certain gifts cross over. Perhaps the most striking of these are the ability to think clearly and a related talent: the development, over many years, of a flexible and precise writing voice that is so thoroughly and strongly congruent with my thoughts that I rarely find myself at a loss for words.
24. If I had to choose between three days without reading and three days without eating, I would have to give up eating. It would not really be a choice – reading is essential!
25. My first pet was a brown-and-white short-haired guinea pig called Linda.
Check out the upcoming lecture on a book about Stalin’s head of the secret police —-2/5/09 Yezhov: The Rise of Stalin’s “Iron Fist” at the UCLA Center for European & Eurasian Studies.
(Amy and I met the first week of our freshman year of college, when we were seated next to each other at all of the placement tests you have to take in that sort of situation; we soon became known as the Davidson Twins, we have been best friends now for more than half our lives, and it is also the case that certain other friends still introduce us in a sort of string: "Jenny-Davidson-and-Amy-Davidson-no-relation"!)
(I have also made a tiny private joke in the punctuation of the previous sentence which only Amy will appreciate!)
In what may be one of the oddest cinematic adaptations of all time, First Showing’s Alex Billington reports that Run Lola Run/The International director Tom Tykwer is hard at work attempting to adapt David Mitchell’s imposing novel, Cloud Atlas, for the big screen. He has enlisted the Wachowski Brothers for help. While Mr. Billington seems to possess an unfamiliarity with Michell’s great novel, asking Tykwer “which of the six he would be focusing on” (which, uh, sort of defeats the purpose), what’s interesting here is that Tykwer, who has written all of the scripts for his films, is even trying to adapt what is possibly an unfilmable novel. Whether or not Tykwer has asked the Wachowski brothers to read several books before reading Mitchell’s novel and getting to work on the script remains unknown. (Hat tip: mdash)
finsbry has added a photo to the pool:
Until I read this book I was convinced she was wearing a bathing suit and the umbrella was from the beach. Not so, at least according to the plot. She’s certainly at attention, as it were.
finsbry has added a photo to the pool:
An unusual way to wrap a beach towel.
The Eastsider LA: Occidental College names new president post has all the details about the installation of one Jonathan Veitch, who has served as the dean of Eugene Lang College at the New School in New York.
On Wednesday, I grabbed my best girlfriend and headed to UCLA for a lecture by noted design critic, Steven Heller. He opened his presentation with the observation that it was good to be in warm L.A., far from frosty Manhattan where “snow makes people angry.”
Here’s the write up I just posted on LAObserved.com
We’ve all heard it before: boys are simply better at math than girls are. But according to a new study published in Science, the math gender gap has vanished. Previous studies showed that boys start to outscore girls in math once they reach high school. Information gathered last year from the math tests of 7.2 million kids in Grades 2 to 11 in 10 states, however, revealed that there are no longer any significant differences between boys’ and girls’ average scores. Similarly, an equal number of both sexes were found to perform so well that they ranked among the highest mathematical achievers. Scientists say the results show that more girls are taking math courses and, most important, sticking with them as they get older.
But then we started thinking, maybe it does have something to do with sex and relationships. It certainly has something to do with gender roles, and those definitely affect sex and relationships. While differences between “Mars” and “Venus” should be studied, celebrated and respected, we always enjoy research that puts men and women on a more even playing field, research that contradicts traditional expectations of the way males and females are “supposed” to be. A year or so ago the media got moist over some evo psych research that tried to explain girls’ preference for pink; we loved the article which called it all a bunch of caca:
The Sunday Sentinel in 1914 told American mothers: “If you like the colour note on the little one’s garments, use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” Some sources suggest it wasn’t until the 1940s that the modern gender associations of girly pink became universally accepted. Pink is, therefore, perhaps not biologically girly. Boys who were raised in pink frilly dresses went down mines and fought in the second world war. Clothing conventions change over time.
Everybody should feel free to develop their own tastes and preferences, likes and dislikes, skills and abilities, regardless of the expectations of their gender — whether it has to do with middle school math or how you eventually want to behave in an adult relationship: in other words, boys can make beautiful art projects, girls can win prizes at science fairs, men can cry, and women can be dominant in the bedroom. Despite the fact that the opposite sex can often seem like a creature from another planet (and despite our society taking endless delight in alien stories), we men and women would do well to remember we have more things in common than we don’t.
There's nothing like the loose and free performance of style and sexuality as it is practiced by the most committed members of Mexico City's new fashion-scenester-glitterati set. Above, Denise Marchebout, EGR, Juanpe Freyre, and Zemmoa, at the David LaChapelle opening party Thursday night at the Antiguo Colegio San Ildefonso, the 16th Century fresco-adorned museum in downtown Mexico City.
And below, after the jump, because every so often a flagrant celebrity-fan shot is more than justified ...
... it's yours truly with LaChapelle's eternal muse, Amanda Lepore, the one and only.
Lepore is in D.F. for the opening of LaChapelle's "Delirios de Razon," an exhibit at San Ildefonso of some of his most iconic images and recent photographic "murals."
My one-on-one interview with the photographer, forthcoming in a Mexico City fashion and design magazine, tackles the epic question: "What is so alluring about the transsexual, as an icon?"
* Photo above by Natalia "Galletas" Ruiz.
Five very random songs for Friday.
Embedding on this video has been disabled, but I suggest you start out with Johnny Guitar Watson’s “Gangster of Love.” His version, as opposed to Steve Miller’s, has all of the drama that a song with this name should have:
“Heartbreaker” is one of my favorites by Dionne Warwick. Written by The Bee Gees, every transition, every melody, is a hit song within another hit song:
They didn’t have “Oh, Sweetpea,” which I was going to include if only to give you something to sing all weekend. Instead, here’s Tommy Roe’s other hit, “Sheila.” It’s not quite as saccharine as “Sweetpea,” but also not as annoying.
I first heard “And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears on a long car drive. I didn’t know what it was at first. I assumed I was listening to a song from a musical.
When KHITS first began broadcasting in Portland, they went deep into the vaults, playing songs that nearly made me pull my car over or stop what I was doing. One of those songs was Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight at the Oasis.” I bet a lot of hot-tubbing and couple swaps have happened to the tune of this song. And you’ll be hard-pressed to pick just one favorite line. Pass the brandy.
If you want to see Maria Muldaur sing, here it is. (Embedding was not allowed for this version.)
Also a coupla days behind, but what can I say, I’m a busy guy:
“Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for ‘the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions’ and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. ‘The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves…. This international backing must stop.’
Yet many still can’t go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. And they simply aren’t good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity.”
Monday on Word of Mouth, a look at Elsewhere U.S.A. It’s a place we know well, in which we’re all feeling a little anxious, insecure and overextended. We’re juggling more roles than ever, and dropping the ball in the process. Work has taken over our lives, and the separation between family and career continues to dissolve.
Make sure you drive with your door slightly ajar. That way, if your car falls through the ice, you can hop out right away.
You won't necessarily have time to roll down the window and swim out. True story, per my Dad: Someone drove over a place where the ice had cracked and the crack had then branched. When his car hit this spot, a third crack connected the previous two to form a triangle, which broke and sank beneath the weight of the vehicle. This guy, whose door was prudently ajar, jumped out just in time to see
his car plunge through the hole;
and rapidly sink;
and the thick triangle of ice bob back up and snap right back into place like nothing had happened.
This made my breath come short. The thought of looking up at that impenetrable ice ceiling, and the light illuminating it where the snow was washed off.
You can bet that if I ever drive on a lake--I have walked, snowshoed, skied, and dogsledded upon them, but never motored--I will be that annoying person who insists on holding the door open despite the -46 windchill. And I will not budge.
- We never thought we’d get to say this, but we completely, 100% agree with Kim Kardashian! She rushed to Jessica Simpson’s defense this week after people across the globe got all judgmental about her recently acquired curves. Because who would you rather see naked: curvy Jess or this coat-hanger?
- Comedian Russell Brand claims he slept with 80 women in one month. Er, got something to prove, Russ? One guess: You didn’t get laid much in high school or college. (Also, what kind of bodily fluids is that bird’s nest harboring?!)
- Katy Perry makes standard post-breakup celibacy joke (yep, been there) and the press takes her seriously. So now she’s insisting that she rilly, rilly loves sex.
- Dirty bird Lily Allen — when is she not talking about sex? — blames generations of women faking orgasms for men being overly impressed with their own sexual prowess.
- Kanye West said he’d totally star in a bi porn scene. Should we be shocked?
- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tries to prove that, come on, rape can too be funny.
- Our man Keith Olbermann — along with his sidekick Rachel Maddow, plus Tyra Banks, Ellen and Suze Orman — were all nominated for GLAAD Awards this week. Obermann got his nod for his “impassioned support for gay marriage.” We heart him, too.
- Chelsea Handler plays “Marry, Fuck or Kill” with Fabio, Tom Cruise, and Ryan Seacrest.
- Sawyer from Lost says it isn’t easy being a sex symbol. Of course, if he’d said it while wearing a shirt, we might have taken him more seriously.
…No, how you doing? Yes, I know it’s been a while. Wanted to wait until no one was looking, or linking, I guess? No, really, I just got busy. I know, I know, yeah, we’re all busy. OK, I got sick of blogging. But I am less sick of it now, today! And I will cease with this ridiculous fake conversation, toot sweet.
Someday soon this blog will be transferred over to a new/ improved/ actual YETI website. But for now, I’ll get started again with three little very pretty songs. Today we’re unplugged. God, I hate that term, but anyway.
The Roky song’s from the long out of print album The Holiday Inn Tapes. It’s my second-favorite post-Elevators number (very favorite being, of course, “You Don’t Love Me Yet”).
The Precious Bryant track is from this wonderful George Mitchell book which comes with two CDs. George Mitchell might be one of my heroes. I really need to talk to both Bryant and Mitchell, if possible, when I return to the South. (Note to self!)
It’s a very pretty late January day here in Portland (translation: it is not currently raining). I’m obsessed for some reason with trying to find out more about P.M. Wentworth today — he or she was a very interesting self-taught artist, hardly any known works around — maybe 40 survive. But who knows? That one lucky family found a stack of unknown Ramirez drawings a few years back — that show in New York was fabulous, and I highly recommend the catalog. Maybe there’s a stack of this person’s stuff in a trunk somewhere. But Wentworth — fuck, there’s hardly even any images on the Internet. I’d love a monograph of this work, all in one place, no matter how small. Anyone know if there is one? My guess is no, just need to make sure.
The Washington Post announced this week that it would stop publishing Book World as a separate section, causing some consternation in the literary world — though Post editors say they remain committed to publishing reviews and reportage about the world of letters. Meanwhile, Culture11, a would-be conservative competitor of Slate, abruptly folded.
The Week, a smart digest of stuff published elsewhere — parasitical but useful and witty — launched a new online opinion section, “The Bullpen,” that’s getting some attention. (Look on the right rail of the homepage.) And the conservative writer David Frum’s latest venture, Newmajority.com, which aspires to be a sort of Talking Points Media for non-hidebound conservatives — a place where the Right can hash out how to get its mojo back — is up and running. It debuted, appropriately enough, on the day President Obama took office.
John Anthony West on Portis's Masters of Atlantis, in the NYT, 1985:
Mr. Portis followed that novel with ''The Dog of the South,'' again based upon a quest. A young man sets out from Arkansas for Mexico on the trail of his runaway wife, her lover and his stolen Ford Torino (it's the car he really wants back). Though well received, ''The Dog of the South'' lacks the drive and purity of ''True Grit.'' There are ominous, extended sojourns on the other side of that elusive line that separates being funny from trying to be funny.
Unfortunately, ''Masters of Atlantis'' rarely veers to the right side of that line. For some unknown reason, Mr. Portis has chosen to ignore the rich and varied material offered by history.
To jump off from the previous post, in 1973, Washington Post cut the standalone Book World section, leaving at the time only The New York Times Book Review and The Los Angeles Times Book Review as the only standalone sections published in this country.
Does this sound familiar? The parallels increase once you plunge into Ronald Smothers’s New York Times 1973 article on the initial folding. The article is behind a paywall, but there are some interesting facts: (1) The section was closed because of the high cost of paper and because the tabloid format was a waste of space. (2) If you think the current dilemma of 12 tabloid pages is bad, consider that the 1973 cut reduced books coverage to a four-page pullout in the Sunday Style section. (3) Carol Nemeyer, then the staff director of the Association of American Publishers, is quoted: “a danger signal to publishers who see the outlets for advertising and media reviews diminishing.”
And of course, the article contains much of the same arguments. Former Book World editor Byron Dobell — perhaps the Steve Wasserman of his time — noted, “A book review supplement should not have to pay for itself in advertising any more than a sports section should.” In November 1973, then Book World editor William McPherson disseminated a letter, reading, “These are parlous times….Will the books that most of us hear about be the major selections of the major book clubs, the highly touted bestsellers, what George Plimpton is advertising on television, and certain sensational items like The Sensuous Woman?”
Now keep in mind that all this was occurring when there weren’t any of those pesky bloggers banging out diatribes in Terre Haute basements.
Book World, as we all know, was revived as a standalone section in the early 1980s. And in an era of Kindles, G1s, and iPhones, what’s not to suggest that Book World won’t emerge yet again as a standalone section in a new format?
I get very well that the Jane Ciabattaris of the world are terrified of the present. But fear and desperate anxiety has rarely solved anything. Instead of ranting and raving about doom and gloom, and starting meaningless email campaigns, it might help to be more constructive and pro-active about current realities. Yes, Book World has taken a hit. But it’s not nearly as severe as the one leveled in 1973. Yes, you won’t see a standalone section anymore. But what about the hundreds of reviews that are still going to be published this year?
Literary journalism isn’t going to go away if we keep fighting for it, but we must consider the present realities. Hysteria certainly didn’t work for Book World in the 1970s. But adjustment and reaching out to readers did. Let us learn from the lessons of history. This time, we even have a better way of getting the word out.
[RELATED: Kelly Burdick has some interesting ideas over at Moby Lives.]
You can toggle the inputs; the following images thus represent everything from the 250 most common words to appear in the book to the 15,000 most common words (I'd be hard-pressed, on the other hand, to believe that there are actually 15,000 different words in the entire book).
Check out the Flickr set for more.
So I realize this won't be of interest to everyone, but I think it's pretty amazing, personally, to see an entire manuscript reduced to this.
For instance, is it possible to extrapolate from these things what the original book might have been about? Or could you write a new book based on these word-clouds, which you would then compare back to the original? If you wrote a book based on an existing book's word-clouds, would the word-clouds of that second book be the same? Or could you then write a third book based on the second book's word-clouds – etc. etc.?
And might it be possible for two very different books – say, a popular history of aviation and a new book about climate change science – to generate all but identical word frequencies?
As I joked on my Twitter feed yesterday, it's like Rorschach literature, literary cobwebs from which you can pick and choose new meanings. "Subterranean time museum." A "living tunnel designed outside." "Artificial concrete."
"Another else begins beneath nature."
"Much water writes landscapes."
If there's something called Wordle, meanwhile, it'd be interesting to see something like Roomle: a program into which you can enter buildings, or clusters of buildings, and the most common room-types come back, organized into hierarchical clouds. You plug all of New York City into the Roomle generator, and find that the most common room of all is...
For a student project, you then construct those Roomle clouds as real buildings, bizarre labyrinths of competing room-types in which a visitor could be lost for days. It'd be a kind of baroque postmodernism, mathematically reached.
(Wordle first spotted via Classic Detritus).
Vincent Canby in 1969:
I must say that I couldn't quite understand what all the fuss was about when the Charles Portis novel hit the best-selling lists last year. The book was strictly freeze-dried nostalgia, which imitated the flavor of nineteenth-century American writing without ever making you believe it was as good as the real thing (Mark Twain, Bret Harte).
The movie has its own formidable heritage with which it has to contend, but since the men who made it are the ones who contributed to that same heritage, True Grit seems more authentic as a film than as a piece of written literature.
An E- record is an organically conceived masterpiece that repays repeated listening with a sense of horror in the face of the void. It is unlikely to be marred by one listenable cut.
You’ve heard of the G-spot, the spongy tissue surrounding the urethra that can be stimulated via the front wall of the vagina (pleasurably for some, not so much for others). And we hope you’ve heard of the P-spot (a.k.a. the male G-spot, a.k.a. the prostate gland). But what about the PS-Spot? Well, just beneath a woman’s perineum (that short bridge of tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus) is a tightly packed tangle of blood vessels alternately known as the perineal sponge, the perineal body, or — you guessed it! — the PS-spot. Like other erectile tissue, this mass fills with blood upon arousal and can be sensitive to massage and pressure via the perineum, via the lower back wall of the vagina (opposite the G-spot), or via the anus. Just because every women’s magazine hasn’t written a million articles on it (like they have on the G-spot) doesn’t mean it’s not deserving of your love and attention. Who knows, it could be your magic button. So press it!
As soon as I vowed to stop entertaining or at least to slow down–life had other plans. For the past five weeks, without fail, every weekend has found Steve and I preparing for another dinner party. Six months of casual “we should have dinner some time” mentions turned into firm plans with dates needing to be set. The good thing is we got to see friends we haven’t seen in a long while, and over the course of several long, unhurried evenings, we really caught up.
I’ve been experimenting with healthier meals–as my confidence grows as a cook, I find that I am going outside my comfort zone of roasts and heavy sauces. Last Saturday, I even experimented with a vegetarian menu. It was incredibly satisfying–even to me, the committed carnivore.
Amy Richards and Peter Sloan (and their two young kids Webber and Beckett), whom I had invited to my first dinner party, have since become close friends. (And all because I invited them to dinner that first night). I was happy to see them and catch up on Amy’s latest adventures (as I write this, she is on her way to Moscow to take part of a feminist conference, along with Gloria Steinem) and discover some new wines with Peter, who works in the wine business. The evening went by quickly–and the kids drop off asleep one by one (except for Webber, who was still up at midnight, when we finally pulled ourselves away from our conversation and said goodnight). The whole thing felt very easy.
I woke up the next morning feeling very full of friendship and life–and convinced that the whole dinner party project, even with the tiredness and extra pounds, might be worth the dark circles and my ever-present muffin-top. I am seeming to find the balance–by going to bed early the rest of the week, by going to the gym, taking vitamins and incorporating some healthier ingredients into the menus. Plus, I took on another writing project, which for me, after a bit of a writer’s block, is as nourishing as a big bowl of chicken soup.
Anyway, enough chatter. On with the recipes!
Piave Cheese, Speck, Baguette
Wild Mushroom Soup (recipe follows)
Savory Bread Pudding with Swiss Chard (recipe follows)
This soup is incredibly creamy and flavorfull–and for such a simple recipe its deceptively sophisticated. It’s amazing what 6 tablespoons of butter can do! For a lighter version, cut the butter back to 3 tablespoons and drizzle olive oil on top of the soup right before you serve it.
6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
10 ounces button mushrooms (one grocery store package)
3-4 dried porcine mushrooms soaked in hot water for 10 minutes
4 cups chicken stock (water )
1 sprig of flat parsley
Salt and pepper
A couple light pours of high-quality sherry
Melt 2 tbsp of butter into a large sauce pan. Add the onions and cook for a little while, until the onions are translucent. While onions saute, wipe down mushrooms with a damp paper towel, then quickly slice them up. Add to the onions along with the rest of the butter. Drain and chop porcines, and add them to the pot as well. Saute on medium heat for about ten minues. Then add chicken broth or water, parsley and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about one hour.
Remove parsley and puree soup with a handblender. Adjust salt and pepper and add sherry. Enjoy hot, along with some good bread.
Savory Bread Pudding with Swiss Chard
(adpated from the NY Times “Recipes for Health”)
Surrounded by a plethora of exceptional bakeries, we tend to buy a lovely loaf of freshly-baked baguette most days of the week–unlike most of my friends, I have not forgone bread, at least not yet. (Favorites bakeries include Amy’s Bread, Blue Ribbon and Grand Daisy for their stirato and cauliflower pizza). But we don’t always eat it up right away. Enter the savory bread pudding. I simply save the stale bread and use whatever veggies, herbs and cheeses I have on-hand. Utterly delicious.
For this recipe, I use both the stem and the leaves of the swiss chard. The stems, it turns out, crunchy and quite tasty, with an almost sweet flavor. Sauteed in olive oil and garlic creates a lovely texture for the pudding.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, 2 chopped, 1 left whole
1 large bunch swiss chard, cleaned well. Stem and leaves seperated and chopped rather small.
1/2 pound stale bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
2 ounces Gruyère, grated (1/2 cup)
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt2 cups low-fat milk
Preheat oven to 350.
Add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic to a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add swiss chard stems and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the chopped swiss chard and cook until chard is wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and set aside.
Oil or butter a two-quart baking dish or gratin.
Rub bread slices with whole garlic clove.
Place half of the bread slices in the baking dish and top with half of the stems and greens mixture. Then top with half the thyme and rosemary. Top with half of the cheeses. Repeat the layers.
Beat together eggs and milk. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few twists of the pepper mill, then pour over the bread and greens. Place in the oven, and bake 40 to 50 minutes. Serve hot.
I have learned that Thomas Gladysz, the events coordinator for the now less wonderful San Francisco bookstore Booksmith, has been let go by new owners Christin Evans and Praveen Madan. No explanation given, but presumably it’s “the economy.” Thomas had been at the Booksmith for 21 years, and the man had events coordination down to a science. Not only was he one of the vital guys who held the Haight’s literary community together, but he was always very kind and courteous — even to loudmouth regulars like me. One of his many achievements involved organizing and hosting Allen Ginsberg’s last reading — this, when the man was dying. Without Thomas, the bookstore simply won’t be the same. I recognize the need for change in this ever-shifting economy, but getting rid of Thomas is hardly conducive to making a store “an integral part of the neighborhood,” as the smug Chuck Nevius boasted only a few weeks ago. Evans and Madan owe the San Francisco literary community a transparent explanation for this disgraceful move. Canning veterans like Thomas is hardly “building the independent bookstore for the 21st century,” as the Booksmith’s website now boasts. It’s more like lopping off one of the legs that made the bookstore a serious player in the first place. (Rather criminally, there is no mention of this terrible news at SFist or the ostensibly Bay Area-based litblog, Conversational Reading. What a way to stand up for the little guy. For goodness sake, Smokler, can you look into this story?)
This comes with some upside, though. There was a fly very conspicuously buzzing round the actors' heads in the first half, and they were able to get some good mileage out of it: enough so, anyway, that I had a sudden distracting realization that when I got home I would have to go upstairs, get my camera and then take the elevator back downstairs to document this rather hilarious thing that caught my eye earlier in the day!
Dinnerwas just as good as the play. G. ordered the Sancerre, and when the waitress came back out, she said very apologetically that they only had the half-bottle. "Then we'll have two of them!" G. said - and we did! He had the trout and I had the bouillabaisse (delicious!) and then tarte tatin for dessert, since I still had room!
I’m getting a little R&R in after a busy day bustling around the OLA Superconference. This is my first time at this conference and I’ve really been enjoying myself. I did a variation on a talk I’ve given: Smart, Tiny Tech. As always, the slides and notes are online along with links to the things I was talking about.
I made a sort of personal resolution for 2009 to write new talks for every event I’ll be speaking at. I talk about similar things often, but I want to be a little more cognizant of my audience — showing off a 2.0 “border wait times” mobile app was fun today, for example — and a little less “Oh here’s Jessamyn with her digital divide talking points again…” Today’s talk was fun and the audience was interesting and interactive.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned lately how much I love being in Canada and talking to Canadian librarians. Today I got to have lunch with the lovely and talented Amanda Etches-Johnson and the talented and lovely John Fink. I had to miss a talk by John Miedema because it was at the same time as my talk — along with maybe 15 other presentations — but I did manage to see some of John Fink’s talk about Evergreen. Hoping to run into Walt around someplace, but I’ve been a little behind on planning since out I was out sick a lot of last week.
I’ve also enjoyed just being in the big city now that I’m healthy again. I’ve already stopped in at Toronto Public Library and asked them for help finding this museum which, alas, appears to have been closed for some time, cursed internet! Tomorrow evening there’s a librarian get together (C’est What, 6:30 pm) and then there’s a MetaFilter meetup on Saturday night (Bedford at 7 pm). If you happen to see me wandering around looking slackjawed at all the big buildings, please do say hello.
Ron Rosenbaum’s funny but underbaked salvo against Billy Joel stirred up a hornet’s nest. Now, Rosenbaum is hardly the first to take a rhetorical swing at Joel and his aspirations of joining the Dylan-Simon-Springsteen pantheon of American singer-songwriters; phrases like “self-dramatizing kitsch” dog the man.
But to see what Rosenbaum is up against, check out the ferocious defense of Joel mounted at Fimoculous.com by none other than Rachel Sklar, a former writer for the Huffington Post and a winsome Manhattan microcelebrity (to use the jargon of Fimoculous) …
Closing a few browser tabs:
Stephen Elliott interviews Margaret Cho at the Rumpus. Also courtesy of that excellent new internet time-waster: build your own virtual squid!
Hillary Clinton never got to meet America's Angriest Consul.
Courtesy of Bookforum, Elizabeth Quill at Science News on the science of human attractiveness and a great science-fictional twist:
Caring about specific features is one thing, articulating those preferences is another. Even people who consistently rate symmetrical faces as attractive, for example, have trouble identifying symmetrical faces. People just know an attractive face when they see it.
So does at least one computer. Eytan Ruppin of Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues have trained a computer to recognize what humans would rate as an attractive female face. The machine, described in January 2008 in Vision Research, automatically extracted measurements of facial features from raw images rated by study participants for attractiveness. It considered thousands of features and then condensed them. Then it went to work on a fresh set of faces. The computer predicted attractiveness in these new faces in line with human preferences.
Even more intriguing, the computer replicated at least one human bias. Symmetry studies often involve taking the right side of a face and mirror imaging it to create a full face or taking the left side and doing the same. Humans show a surprising bias; in two-thirds of cases, they prefer left-left images (from the point of view of the onlooker). Somehow, this bias must have been embedded in the original rankings the computer received because it also preferred these faces. But no one is sure why or how.
The CDC just released its annual report discussing trends in sexually transmitted diseases in the US (summary here). The upshot: chlamydia and syphilis are on the rise. And gonorrhea is stable (yay?) but at still-high rates. The CDC doesn’t track HPV or herpes in the same way, so we don’t know if these too are increasing.
Why in the world might this be a good thing? The increased rates of STDs could mean higher rates of infection, but then again it may just represent better screening of these diseases. In other words, the higher numbers might be coming back not because there are more cases, but because a) more people are getting tested and b) there are more accurate tests available.
The scariest part of the STD crisis is just how many people have an infection, and don’t know about it. I’ve had patients of all ages tell me they’re too frightened to get tested, because they “really don’t want to know.” But the consequences of an undiagnosed STD can be devastating. Not only might you unsuspectingly pass chlamydia to a partner, but the infection can cause irreversible damage. For example, STD-inflicted damage to a woman’s fallopian tubes can lead to tubal pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain or infertility.
Knowing you have an STD may suck, but not knowing is worse. If you’re under 25 (or have a partner who is), you should be checked at least once a year for the big bacterial three (chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) as well as HIV and hepatitis*, and every 6 months if your sex life is particularly bountiful. If you’re over 25, get tested with each new encounter or relationship. Treatment for the bacterial infections is very straightforward, from one to several doses of antibiotics.
How often do you get tested for STDs?
*HPV and herpes are more complicated: you can’t directly test for HPV (it’s part of the pap smear), and herpes is best tested by a culture of a bump, not blood tests. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your doctor about them when you’re tested for the other STDs, especially if you suspect you might have been exposed.
finsbry has added a photo to the pool:
Was titled The Gilded Hearse. Doesn’t have quite the same impact.
finsbry has added a photo to the pool:
I scanned some rare titles like these while making a catalog for a mystery bookstore.
finsbry has added a photo to the pool:
Tough to come by in first–an original paperback.
finsbry has added a photo to the pool:
A not so rare title!