As I've mentioned, as a kid I used to write to people asking them to sign things for me. I'd look up their addresses in Who's Who at the library, write them little "Frank, age 8" letters, and see what happened.
Here's what I got from Groucho Marx, my hero then as now:
Talked to a girl last night who seemed, at the time, to make a pretty convincing case that "With My Looks and Your Brains" was the greatest thing since the Magna Carta, but now, in the cold, hungover light of day, I cannot remember any of the supporting arguments.
Orin Kerr explains how proposed changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act could well make checking facebook at work a felony punishable by up to three years in prison for each instance. (It's tricky even as it stands, without the changes.)
Awesome 1980's canary yellow tee with a crew neckline, short sleeves, and text that reads, Dr. Frank. In a vintage size Extra Large, made of a cotton/polyester blend and the letters are made of a felted black fabric. Is this an inside joke that I do not get? Who is Dr. Frank?I thought it was funny.
Believe it or not, this photo appeared in the September 1988 issue of Creem magazine:
Enthusiasts at the Aeclectic Tarot Forum seem to like Andromeda Klein.
Laughing at religious fanatics is nothing new. And, at some level, there’s nothing wrong with it. But this story didn’t just take off in popularity because people wanted a quick laugh or some insight into a quirky subset of our country. There’s a cruelty underlying our desire to laugh at this story—a desire to see people humiliated and to revel in our own superiority and rationality—even though the people in question are pretty tragic characters, who either have serious problems themselves or perhaps are being taken advantage of, or both.
Topical again because of this.
Michael Llewellyn took this photo ca. 1988 at the I-Beam I believe:
Not sure exactly what's going on at King Dork ISP, but it's quite interesting.
The world did not end. That's not the big news.
The big news is that big news covered the nonnews. We were supposed to find it amusing. Amusing to snicker at marginal people who believe religious things. They're so dumb. We're so smart. No, you're not. You are part of the system of dumbness you purport to report.-- Ann Althouse
This case is really something else. A guy is questioned, arrested, and held by cops for legally carrying a legal firearm, a law of which the police are ignorant; a harsh confrontation develops in which the police become hysterical and threaten to kill him; he is released when they learn their error, but the guy is later charged with "reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct" anyway. And of course, there's a tape. And of course, the only disorderly conduct is on the part of the police.
Evers said the department decided to take a second look at the case after learning about the recordings.
Any number of things could have gone wrong during Fiorino's confrontation with [police Sgt. Michael] Dougherty, Evers said.
For one thing, Evers said, Fiorino could have been shot. Cops who raced to the scene could have gotten into a car accident or injured pedestrians.
And Balko's right: the district attorney who brought the charges is a menace to society and ought to be (but won't be) stopped. Also, some of those cops sound dangerously unstable.
Neil LaBute to direct a film of Agatha Christie's Crooked House, adapted by Julian Fellowes.
If I had any money, I'd give some of it to these guys, because this looks great and I'd really love to see it as a finished product:
This is a bit of card stock with pin attached, possibly the best "found item" ever, though it was in fact purchased rather than found.
Clearing out stuff from an old file cabinet and finding stuff like this:
This seems about right to me:
The CD, the cassette, the vinyl LP, are all more or less devalued below the level of the T-shirts and other dry goods that orbit the burnt-out sun of the music industry. Their relative status as fetish objects may wax and wane, but as an economic generator, the money is in the player (phone, laptop, satellite radio), not that which it plays. It’s the opposite of the printer cartridge/razor blade scam (sell them the printer or razor cheap, then inflate the prices of the ink cartridge or replacement blades). In this case, the downward pressure on the value of recordings⎯easy enough in a business with a constant influx of young musicians willing, eager, to work for free for exposure and attention⎯enables an ocean of cheap content to refill $300 iPods. And it moves that giant chunk of money from the world of music to the world of tech and manufacturing.
I had a partner once, and when we broke up, she said: I've never understood it. I've listened to all the music you've written while I've been living with you, and I never would have thought you'd think of anything as nice as that, that you could be as sensitive as that.
From Ray Davies, in this great interview-article.
For the last forty years we have been diligently working on the massive, long-term project of attempting to incarcerate a full one per cent of the total population of this country, by any means necessary. No other country has come close, or even tried to get close, to one per cent, but we're almost there. It is the craziest thing this country has ever done. The President, along with the entire establishment of both parties, are effectively for it. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are against it. So, spot the crazy.
Here's part one of a terrific interview full of writing advice from George Saunders:
This caveat about what happens when everyone has the same impulse about how to "steer into the rapids" is what is known, I believe, as a "fair cop":
a few years back, in our admissions pile at Syracuse, we were getting a gazillion stories where everyone over 40 was a pedophile. Or, you know—if he/she wasn’t a pedophile, it was through sheer act of will. And I started feeling that move as sort of habitual—it was what a young writer did when he/she didn’t know what else to do: throw a pedophile in there. So that decision—which must have felt, to those writers, like “steering toward the rapids”—was actually the opposite: it had become the lazy, go-to solution—a way of avoiding complexity.Looking forward to part two.
Here's another "on writing" quotation that has fascinated me since I first read it. From Joan Didion in this Paris Review interview:
When I’m working on a book, I constantly retype my own sentences. Every day I go back to page one and just retype what I have. It gets me into a rhythm. Once I get over maybe a hundred pages, I won’t go back to page one, but I might go back to page fifty-five, or twenty, even. But then every once in a while I feel the need to go to page one again and start rewriting. At the end of the day, I mark up the pages I’ve done—pages or page—all the way back to page one. I mark them up so that I can retype them in the morning. It gets me past that blank terror.
I also find myself continually rewriting my earlier sentences while in the process of writing new ones, but it is quite easy to do when you've got a computer, backspace/delete, multiple "undo" etc. The notion of retyping the whole thing over and over each day on a typewriter is nightmarish.
I can see the benefit though. My quirk is reading it aloud, which I do continually. That may well actually be more time-consuming than typing would be, now that I think about it, but in the end it does make the sentences better.
Fascinating classic "folklore" problem, vastly accelerated by the internets.
UPDATE II: Megan McArdle has the full post-mortem on the MLK quotation here. Short version: it was indeed Jessica Dovey's innocent, correctly punctuated facebook post, assisted by a subsequent tweet by Penn Jillette, the condensing, punctuation-less effect of twitter, and a lot of sincere yet mistaken people seconding that emotion. The long version is worth reading though, because both the process and the psychology behind it is truly fascinating:
Fake quotations are pithier, more dramatic, more on point, than the things people usually say in real life. It's not surprising that they are often the survivors of the evolutionary battle for mindshare. One person actually posted a passage which integrated the fake quotation into the larger section of the book from which the original MLK words were drawn.
We become invested in these quotes because they say something important about us--and they let us feel that those emotions were shared by great figures in history. We naturally search for reasons that they could have said it--that they could have felt like us--rather than looking for reasons to disbelieve. If we'd put the same moving words in Hitler's mouth, everyone would have been a lot more skeptical. But while this might be a lesson about the need to be skeptical, I don't think there's anything stupid about wanting to be more like Dr. King.
Clearing out and sorting through things and what not, I found these notebooks, squirreled away and forgotten in various places:
They're the songwriting/lyrics books that I used to carry around, spanning, I'd guess, the early 90s through the early 2000s. I didn't realize I had so many: I only used one at a time, but I guess they add up after a while.
Even though I'm sure I meant this at least slightly sardonically, it's still kind of funny:
It's really strange to look through them and see (a) how different earlier iterations of some songs were when I first wrote them down and (b) how many more or less complete songs there were that I have absolutely no recollection of. Some of them seem like they could have been pretty good, like one called "You Have Won Second Prize in a Beauty Contest." And some, whose titles I will not mention, are just embarrassing, as is the way with such things. Oh, you don't have embarrassing things in your lyrics books? Aren't you impressive, then.
I had to stare long and hard at the lyrics to "She's a Snowman" before I was able reconstruct, and mostly recover, the tune and chords. That one really isn't bad. I should maybe do something with it someday.
Caduceus Books is selling photocopies of apparently unpublished, uncatalogued, batches of handwritten pages from Aleister Crowley's magical diaries. Bake sale!