March 28, 2007


WAGBOG HISTORY UPDATE: Apparently I'm not the first person to acronymize "what a great bunch of guys." Got an email today indicating that any history of WAGBOG would be incomplete without reference to this guy's dad:

I'm writing because I'm curious about the genesis of WAGBOG. I'm asking because it's been in our family since the early 70's. The family would be watching MASH or something on TV, and when the show was over and they froze the action with everyone smiling, my dad would say, "What a great bunch of guys!", which, over time, became shortened to "WAGBOG!"
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March 26, 2007

Don't Look Now

They don't reveal who donated the cells to create this sheep-human, but it looks as though it might have been Donald Sutherland:


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March 25, 2007

Pip pip


I just noticed that the British edition of King Dork from Penguin/Puffin is up on Pub date: August 2.

The copyediting for it has been pretty interesting. They went for a "light Anglicization," which means stuff like "favourite" and trousers rather than pants, and so forth. I always sort of thought the British invented hazing, so I was surprised to learn they don't have the word over there. And did you know that they don't understand the phrase "to horn in on"? Well, you do now.

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March 23, 2007

New York's All Right...

"Can Any Literati Published by a Commercial New York Mainstream Publisher Truly Rock Out?"

(They're discussing The Great American Rock and Roll Novel over at Gallycat.)

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March 21, 2007

Lauren 'n' Tony

(via Harry's Place.)

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March 19, 2007

With friends like these...

"Feeding by hand is not species-appropriate but a gross violation of animal protection laws," animal rights activist Frank Albrecht was quoted as saying by the mass-circulation Bild daily, which has featured regular photo spreads tracking fuzzy Knut's frolicking.

"The zoo must kill the bear."

(via Andrew Sullivan.)

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March 18, 2007

Matilda's Newsweek


Newsweek's Periscope section has a newish feature called "A Life in Books," where authors are asked to supply a list of five notable books and answer a couple of booky questions. Last week it was Harold Bloom; and, believe it or not, this week it's me.

It's just a breezy little feature, and due to the limited space, my responses had to be severely edited. I'm not sure my jokes really come off all that well in such shorthand fashion. For instance, my blurb for P.G. Wodehouse's Code of the Woosters was:

I don't care how many times he wrote this book, it's funny every time.
The condensed version ("funny every time") while true enough, fails to capture the full flavor of the original.

There was one response that didn't make it in at all. This was in answer to "the book you care most about sharing with your kids." I rather liked my answer to this one:

I have no children, but I do have a cat, and if Matilda could read I would urge her to peruse Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me because I believe she would identify with the protagonist.
I admit, I was so pleased with this approach to a seemingly inapplicable question that it soon became, in my mind, more or less the whole point of the exercise. I started thinking of this coming issue as "Matilda's Newsweek." And, to be honest, that's how I still think of it, even in its current Matilda-less state.

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not in the least sore at Newsweek. They're just doing their job, and I'm lucky they asked me at all. The whole thing is kind of fun, Matilda or no. And even though Harold Bloom got more sentences to work with, I'm not sure his full-figured jokes come off much better than my truncated ones. For instance this Shakespeare gag:

I won't say he "invented" us, because journalists perpetually misunderstand me on that. I'll put it more simply: he contains us. Our ways of thinking and feeling—about ourselves, those we love, those we hate, those we realize are hopelessly "other" to us—are more shaped by Shakespeare than they are by the experience of our own lives.
Maybe this sort of highbrow academic Shakespeare humor is over my head, but I don't think I get it.

Or maybe the lesson is simpler: authors like me and Harold Bloom shouldn't be trying to do comedy. Leave the comedy to the comedians. We should just keep trying to "contain" people, or whatever, and to be misunderstood by journalists.

All I know is, whatever the google news robot had in mind when it elected to illustrate a link to the King Dork chapter on horniness with a head shot of Norman Mailer, it has a kind of off-the-wall brilliance.

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March 14, 2007

The Copywriter and the Data Analyst

An excerpt from what appears to be page eight of a novel in progress, found at Broadway and 40th in Oakland:

The copywriter shrugged his shoulders, made a fist and again struck the data analyst in the face. The data analyst's head snapped back from the blow, blood gushing from his nose. Michael Michaels initiated another round of applause and the employees followed his lead, washing a thunderous wave over the meeting room. As Daniel joined in the furious assent, he noticed the taller Orange Buttons representative walking toward the programmer Michael Michaels had pointed out previously. The programmer sat in his folding chair, arms at his sides, sweat streaking down his pinched, hollow face. The taller representative stopped in front of the programmer, an almost perceptible electricity surging from his smoldering grey eyes...
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March 11, 2007

Yay Oakland


This was the scene earlier today outside Cybelle's Pizza on Piedmont Avenue, just down the street from Cato's Ale House where I spent today writing. The cops had closed off the street and brought in a SWAT team and ordered everyone on the street to go inside this or that business to wait out the "hostage situation." Some of the people who came into Cato's said the "word on the street" was that there was a gunman holding ten hostages at the pizza place. Here's how the Chroncle report came out, a couple of hours later. It's a funny old world.

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March 08, 2007

When you make a sacrifice you're supposed to get a wish



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March 04, 2007

W - E -T - P - E - T - S

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March 03, 2007

No wonder I didn't win any awards...

SF fanzine Ansible quotes fantasy writer John C. Wright from a Sci Fi Weekly interview on what constitutes "YA fiction":

Nor is [my] book anywhere nearly gross enough to qualify for YA status. To win awards in YA fiction, one needs to describe rapist elfs sodomizing boys with thorn bushes, or a father having sex with the ghost of his little son he murdered. Incestohomopedonecrophilia, we might call that: One needs special names to describe the new perversions.

(Thanks, Francesca.)

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March 02, 2007

You hear the rumble of distant thunder

A 4.2 isn't that big as earthquakes go, but I sure felt last night's, and it seemed to go on for quite a while. Nothing fell over in my place, but numerous things in the apartment upstairs must have been precariously balanced because there was a great clatter, followed by a lengthy stretch of that slightly otherworldly sound you hear when a metal disk or ring spins down, making it sound as though a car had wrecked up there.

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Couple Three Article-y Interviewy Things

-- from Scott Butki at

-- in Estella's Revenge. (I have a vague notion that this particular interview might have appeared somewhere else earlier as well, but I could well be mistaken about that.)

And, by the way, here's Joe King in Popmatters. God love 'im.

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