October 31, 2010

Life after Death

Happy Halloween.

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October 28, 2010



That's crime fiction author Reed Farrel Coleman, whom I met while he was in San Francisco at Bouchercon (essentially a Comic-Con for mystery fans.) One drink led to another, resulting, as so often, in a pretending-to-read photo.

I had read, and really enjoyed, his book The James Deans even before I stumbled across some nice things he had to say about King Dork on the internet. So we indulged in some mutual appreciation and lager, and discussed writing and publishing and what-not, including the question "do you plan to write a real novel someday?" which crime fiction writers, it turns out, get just as often as teen fiction writers.

His new one is Innocent Monster. Check it out.

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October 27, 2010

Bigger than KISS

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October 25, 2010

The Witch List

Anastasia-approved witches in books.

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Who Lost Moe Tucker?

Mickey Kaus asks:

…my main thought while reading her rant was—why isn't she an Obama voter?

I'm serious. Was it really necessary to piss people like her off? Tucker's almost a perfect Obama voter. She's a single grandmom. Not rich. Famously worked at Wal-Mart (after being a rock star) and complained about it. A lifelong Democrat—until now. Was what Obama felt he had to do—save Detroit, save Wall Street, jumpstart the economy, pass health care reform—inevitably incompatible with her world view? Was a huge rebellion of people like her simply what you get when you "impose a liberal agenda" on a "center-right country," as Charles Krauthammer argues? Or did Obama gratuitiously fail to reassure her that her not unreasonable fears (e.g. "How the hell will this utopian dream land be paid for?") were unfounded?

I'm with "gratuitiously failed to reassure."

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Did you know they still made cassette Walkmans?

Well, they did, up to around just now, but they've finally stopped. (They is Sony.)

On tour in pre-iPod days, I used to travel with a trash bag of tapes, though in practice I rarely ended up removing the default one (Soft Boys/TVPs), listening to it over and over in a kind of semi-autistic daze. That's one reason I know Underwater Moonlight in such precise detail -- it was first -- and also why I was known to exclaim "Toast!" at seemingly random moments from my little corner of the van. The surrounding punk rockers were presumably a bit puzzled, but they never asked and I never told, till now.

Also, does anyone else remember the days when to say the word "Walkman" was to provoke immediate hostility and the imperious correction: "walk THING!" (I don't remember the "walkperson" phase that logically must have preceded "walkthing," but presumably that euphemism was felt to be too entity-ist, and a whole new way to be mad at people for saying stuff was born.) Good, if weird, times.

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October 24, 2010

I'm Beside Myself

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October 20, 2010

Teen Musician and Author


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October 19, 2010

Tomorrow and the next day and the next day

Stop by and see me at these things:

Midlothian Public Library
Tuesday, October 19th @ 6:30 p.m.
14701 S. Kenton Avenue
Midlothian, IL 60445

Berkeley Public Library, co-hosted with Hillside Public Library
Wednesday, October 20th @ 6:30 p.m.
1637 Taft Avenue
Berkeley, IL 60163

Elmhurst Public Library
Thursday, October 21st @ 7:00 p.m.
125 S. Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126

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October 18, 2010

Fox on the Run

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October 17, 2010

Thought for the Day

Elif Batumen on the creative writing workshop:

Because writing is suspected to be narcissistic and wasteful, it must be ‘disciplined’ by the programme … The workshop’s most famous mantras – ‘Murder your darlings,’ ‘Omit needless words,’ ‘Show, don’t tell’ – also betray a view of writing as self-indulgence, an excess to be painfully curbed in AA-type group sessions. Shame also explains the fetish of ‘craft’: an ostensibly legitimising technique, designed to recast writing as a workmanlike, perhaps even working-class skill, as opposed to something every no-good dilettante already knows how to do…

As long as it views writing as shameful, the programme will not generate good books, except by accident.

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October 15, 2010

Jennifer Eccles

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October 14, 2010

The Mobile Phones of the Sixties


My dad used to have one that looked almost exactly like this in his truck when I was a kid. I remember riding with him while he was arguing with whoever he was arguing with and watching the astonished faces of the people in the surrounding cars. I even used it sometimes. It sounded very staticky, like an old walkie-talkie.

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The negative image of him flubbing and unable to catch any ball at all will make him a schnook.


An unpublished manuscript, begun by Dr. Seuss and completed by an assistant, is up for auction.

In a way the accompanying letter, criticizing the story, assessing the "brat book" market, and blaming his lagging correspondence on galufforschmords in his eyes, is the coolest part of the lot. (I don't know about you, but I'm totally using that one.)

The current bid is $1,611, which seems like a steal, assuming you're the kind of person who has $1,611 lying around.

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Ain't it Sad to Stand and Watch Love Die

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October 13, 2010

A whole mess of old MTX fliers...

... found on facebook.



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Spot the Liberal

Dems and Repubs switch rhetorical monkey suits on the drug war. This is beyond embarrassing:

"Dumb on crime" is right.

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Don't Call 911

"I felt like I made the wrong choice calling the police," she said.

Arizona woman makes domestic violence call. Police murder son. (And, of course, they execute the family pet as well.)

(via the Agitator.)

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October 12, 2010

From the Mixed-Up Sofa of Lt. Col. Martin Kober

Heretofore unknown allegedly genuine unfinished Michelangelo pieta found in a Buffalo, NY home.

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It's All Right

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October 11, 2010

Of all the covers of this song I've heard, this one is notable for getting the chords right


I've had several requests for the correct chords, so:

G-C-D G-C-D; C-G-D-Em-C C-D (x2)

Em-C-G-D; G-C-D; C-D G-D-Em C-A7-D C

then at the end add a B7 after the C-A7-D part and go Em-D-C G.

(That's how I usually play it, but on the original recording it's in E, which most people would probably want to do by using a capo on the second fret and doing it in D. Simple enough, but few people seem to have been able to figure it out.)

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Music to Watch Girls By

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This is how I see signs like this even when nobody does the math

But I gotta hand it to the sign-maker for making me realize it:


(via the Agitator.)

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October 10, 2010


For me, writing is a performance. "Portnoy's Complaint" was a performance. When you’re an actor who gives a performance, you have a false wig and a false mustache and a crooked back, and when you go backstage you take off those things and then you go out into the street and be yourself. But the problem for a writer is that he can’t take off those things, so when he goes out into the street it looks like that’s the same guy.
-- Philip Roth
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October 09, 2010

Rock Me Gently

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Govmint Stoled Newborn Baby

Ha ha. That's hilarious.

I can't be bothered to follow the confusing ins and outs of the documents in the case, but, whatever is going on, this Wonkette item and the appended comments comprise quite a document of state-of-the-art class animus, and Reason's Brian Doherty is right to call them on it:

The author and commenters [go] on with some incredibly mean-spirited class-based mockery that is actually kind of extraordinary--especially in the monolithic ability of people to laugh at baby snatching as long as it occurs to those kind of people. We don't like those kind of people. There is even an incredibly un-self-aware, head-up-the-ass comment asking the angry right-wing populists to do a racial inversion on the situation (the parents are white)--not wondering for a minute how funny Wonkette Assembled would find all the assumed language, class, and diet mockery in the thread in the case of such an inversion.
Compare that to the relatively courtly comments at that sfweekly iPhone item I posted about yesterday, where a lot of supposedly knuckle-dragging Tea Party types assembled to complain about us (i.e., blue state, urban liberals.) I know we're supposed to be the good guys, but sometimes I'm not so sure.

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Australian Eyes

Long Gone Loser from Australia says he gets a FORBIDDEN screen when he tries to access this blog. I've heard that OZ is censorship-happy these days. Is the Australian government blocking this blog, for some reason?

If anyone in Australia can read this, can you let me know? I don't know of any other way to answer that question. Maybe it's just something weird with Long Gone Loser's particular set-up.

Censorship is bad, and I'm against it, but if doktorfrank.com is being blocked, it does make me feel kind of important. Wikipedia's entry on Australian internet censorship seems to suggest that websites outside of OZ get blacklisted when they're complained about. Is that what happened? And if so, by whom? Is this why my books haven't made the Australian best seller lists (if they haven't?) These are burning questions.

Or maybe they just group-block all foreign sites, and they have to be cleared one by one before Australians are allowed to see them? That makes me feel less special, but also less persecuted. That is one delicate balance, my friends.

Anyway, all possible caveats about wikipedia's accuracy considered, if this is even mostly accurate, Australia's censorship situation is even worse than I'd thought.

Anyone who knows, let me know about the knowledge and I'll pass it on to Long Gone Loser.

UPDATE: I've heard from the Careless Navigator (incidentally one of the best Tiki-oriented sites you'll ever see) and he says he can load it fine from his OZ. So it must be Long Gone Loser's specific set-up after all, and I can go back to feeling unpersecuted and unspecial. Hello, old friends.

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October 08, 2010


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October 07, 2010

Polka Dot Undies

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Think Different

sfweekly notes an alarming lack of ideological conformity among iPhone users.

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Come and Watch Me Sing and Play

Hey, I'm going to be visiting the Chicago area once again this month and appearing at these libraries:

Midlothian Public Library
Tuesday, October 19th @ 6:30 p.m.
14701 S. Kenton Avenue
Midlothian, IL 60445

Berkeley Public Library, co-hosted with Hillside Public Library
Wednesday, October 20th @ 6:30 p.m.
1637 Taft Avenue
Berkeley, IL 60163

Elmhurst Public Library
Thursday, October 21st @ 7:00 p.m.
125 S. Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126

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October 06, 2010

How did we ever get to the point where we were, in fact, ruled by a dairy product?

Great short story by Scalzi.

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October 05, 2010

The Best Years of Your Life

High school seems made to hurt, which is insane. I knew this back when I was in high school. I faced it every day. I also knew of social spaces for people my age that weren’t designed to hurt. I could never understand why I faced abuse by my schoolmates, but not by the friends I found outside my school. In time, we developed a social circle composed entirely of outcasts, and we had some great, great times together. But that only made me ask all the more insistently: Why is high school the way it is, not just for gay-identified kids, but for all kids?

(via Andrew Sullivan.)

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On the language of people who fetishize about liberals

Whatever the merits of this Richard Cohen column, it must be said that it is appallingly bad writing.

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Don't Install a Burglar Alarm...

if you have pets:

Kate Hallock arrived at her Oakland hills home after running errands Tuesday and found a blue note fluttering on her front door.

"Oakland police responded to your residence to investigate a burglar alarm," the handwritten note read. "While circling the rear perimeter, lab advanced on officers in a threatening manner before being shot and killed."

"Lab" was Gloria, an 11-year-old, arthritic yellow Labrador Hallock's family had owned since she was a puppy. Oakland police shot Gloria three times with a 40-caliber Glock handgun in the family's backyard while responding to a false burglar alarm at the property. The dog, police said, growled and barked at them.

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If You Want Me To

via Jeffen.

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October 04, 2010

California uber Alles

When I was hired at UC Berkeley way back when, I, along with everyone else, had to sign a loyalty oath to the State of California, swearing to uphold the California constitution and promising not to attempt to overthrow the California state government. This was a stumbling block for some, and I remember hearing of those who somehow managed to get away with refusing, but most people that I knew simply considered it hilarious and made jokes at the requirement's expense.

My favorite eccentric professor, Alain Renoir, used to do a pretty good riff on it, an "oh what might have been" routine delivered in that theatrical Gallic-English way he had. It was funny every time, not least because it was usually performed to illuminate some passage from Anglo-Saxon poetry. I sure wish I had a recording of it, along with all his other routines.

That said, this response from Jessica Mitford who refused to sign the oath in 1973 when she was a visiting prof at San Jose State, is pretty good, too:

Why, she asked reasonably, should she swear to uphold the Constitution of California, which runs to three hefty volumes? "Do I uphold and defend, for example, Article 4, Section 25 3/4, limiting boxing and wrestling matches to 15 rounds? I don't know. Perhaps it should be 14, or 16?"
Excellent question.

Do they still require this? Anyone know?

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Careful with that Esoterica, Eugene

Inmate's Necronomicon cited as evidence in death penalty retrial.

via Volokh.

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October 01, 2010

First We'll Take Your Light Bulbs, then...

The most effective self-undermining advocacy ad ever produced?

More here.


(via Welch at Reason.com.)

UPDATE: They're sorry.


Nearly a thousand hostile comments were left on the "oops sorry" post on the 10:10 website over the weekend, and it was hands down the most vitriolic comments thread I can remember ever seeing on the internet, which is really saying something. Sadly, they have come to their senses and deleted the comments, as well as, it appears, disabling comments on the entire website. The Guardian has disallowed comments on its piece about the controversy, and closed comments on their original article. Well it'll all be over in six days anyway.

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Bobby Jordan Looks Back on 20 Years of Rock


Happy Birthday, Bobby.

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