Wednesday, August 31, 2005


"Let us pray for and help those ravaged by this disaster. However, we must not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long," Marcavage said. "May this act of God cause us all to think about what we tolerate in our city limits, and bring us trembling before the throne of Almighty God," Marcavage concluded.

Also, here's what Bush was doing today:


Seriously. How could he sign off on this appearance while New Orleans is drowning?

My mistake—he's on vacation.
The downside of making postpartum depression sexy.:

As Brooke Shields testifies in her recent memoir, into many a postpartum life a little rain must fall. And evidently, a little Tom Cruise as well: someone who tops off a struggling new mother's depression with a downpour of judgment and misunderstanding. When Cruise blasted Shields on national television for using antidepressants to treat her postpartum depression, I thought, "Wow, he'd get along great with my health-insurance underwriters." They slapped me with a five-year penalty of raised premiums because I sought help for depression following the birth of my daughter.

In July 2004, my husband and I applied for personal health insurance from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Virginia. He had left his job to start his own company, and I was self-employed, so we began looking for family coverage while the COBRA clock ticked. Because I was blessed with lifelong health, the "medical information" page of my application was relatively brief. I listed a prescription for Clomid, a fertility drug I'd taken while trying to conceive my daughter, and a single appointment I'd had with a psychiatrist after she was born, regarding the possibility of postpartum depression.

Shortly after we submitted our paperwork to Anthem's headquarters in Roanoke, the letters started arriving in our mailbox. My application was under review. More information was needed. Then another letter arrived. My husband and 9-month-old daughter had been approved for coverage at Level 1, the company's best rating. I had been rejected. The reason: the psychiatrist appointment.

Short takeaway: never tell your insurer that you've ever been depressed. Chilling stuff.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My friend Larry Getlen inaugurates a new Nerve series called "First Times" with the story of the first time he dated a woman with a prosthesis.
And the Word

I find things inside books
borrowed from the library--
foreign postcards, rose petals,
opera tickets, laundry lists,
and, once, a bloody piece of cloth.

Today, inside a volume
of Cid Corman's elegant poetry,
a snapshot--
a man in a dark nightclub
embracing a red-haired stripper.

The man grabs the woman
brashly about her waist,
displaying her nakedness
to the camera. The flash
illumines the man's flushed face,
his single-minded lust
as he bends to touch
his tongue to her nipple,

while she, arching her back,
coolly turns to the camera,
her face flooded with light,
as if asking, "So,
what do you think
about the book you're reading

Richard Jones
A beautiful picture, courtesy of Mr. Bos.

Pictures of Hurricane Katrina

The FCC's cable crackdown:

Martin is now poised to win the broader indecency war. During the long hot summer in Washington, he has been quietly meeting with religious activists and industry leaders to organize a push for new standards for broadcast, cable and satellite television. At the same time, Martin's allies in the Senate have been considering new laws that could increase broadcast indecency fines, break up cable TV offerings to allow parents to cut off racy channels, and -- most controversially -- give the FCC the power to fine basic cable programs, like MTV's "Real World" and Comedy Central's "Daily Show," for crude and lewd content.
It'll kill you.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sleeping Dog Lies


The young dog would like to know
why we sit so long in one place
intent on a box that makes the same
noises and has no smell whatever.
Get out! Get out! we tell him
when he asks us by licking the back
of our hand, which has small hairs,
almost like his. Other times he finds us
motionless with papers in our lap,
or at a desk looking into a humming
square of light. Soon the dog understands
we are not looking, exactly, but sleeping
with our eyes open, then goes to sleep
himself. Is it us he cries out to,
moving his legs somewhere beyond
the rooms where we spend our lives?
We don't think to ask, upset
as we are in the end with the dog,
who has begun throwing the old,
shabby coat of himself down on every
floor or rug in the apartment, sleep,
we say, all that damn dog does is sleep.

Wesley McNair
Dana Stevens on the problems with HBO's Entourage:

Even more annoying than Entourage's sexism is its insipid cheeriness. As show's tagline reads, "Fame … it's even better with your friends!" This "it's-all-good" ethos reached its apogee at the end of the recent Sundance episode: Vince (Adrian Grenier) and Eric (Kevin Connolly) were poised to snowboard down a mountain with their pals when they got a cellphone call from Ari (Jeremy Piven) assuring them that Vince had landed the lead role in Aquaman. The two of them actually high-fived before jumping on to their snowboards. The episode ended, '70s-sitcom style, in a giddy freeze-frame as the boys took flight over the mountain. Isn't there anything, you know, negative about being rich and famous?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Playwright August Wilson Has Liver Cancer

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson has been diagnosed with liver cancer and told a newspaper in his native Pittsburgh that he is dying.

Wilson, 60, who lives in Seattle, was diagnosed with the ailment in June.

"It's not like poker, you can't throw your hand in," Wilson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a story published Friday. "I've lived a blessed life. I'm ready."
Humorous goings-on at the Elliot Bay Book Company, where Aimee Bender gave a reading and got insipid questions afterward:

Instead, Bender got the greedy, frantic questions of a crowd full of fans who, in spite of their love for her, asked what people who'd never read Bender could have asked her: How does your writing process begin? Sits at a desk for two hours every day. What's your source of inspiration for sitting there for two hours every day? "It's the law." You really sit there for two hours? Yes. Do you ever write for more than two hours? No. Why not? Makes things easier. How do you know when you're done with a story? Appropriately vague answer. What are you reading right now? Middlesex. Do you write in the morning? Yes. Do you eat breakfast during? Yes, yogurt and grapenuts. Do you set an alarm or does it just happen when you get up? Happens when she gets up. Longhand or laptop? Desktop.

I'll never understand why people persist in believing that the creative process is interesting.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sam Anderson rails most entertainingly at Brat Camp:

Though I'm normally a pretty empathetic person, I hate teenagers with incredible fervor. It's nothing personal: I hate them categorically, like I hate injustice. I hate the way they roam around in packs, wearing floppy, Technicolor clothes, sculpting their marginal facial hair, slapping and tripping each other, shouting strings of banal obscenities as if they were delivering the "Gettysburg Address." I hate the way they express personal inadequacy through car accessories and vandalism. I even hate the word "teens," which sounds like some kind of infectious skin fungus. When a child I love becomes a teenager, my love for him goes into escrow for seven years. I know that there are biological excuses for their behavior—their amygdalae (the brain's anger and fear center) are ballooning, their exploding sexualities have only secret and shameful outlets—but that doesn't change my instinctive revulsion any more than knowing that sharks eat people because they need the protein. The cast of Brat Camp—a tribe of self-absorbed, violent, coke-dabbling, pimply rage-aholics—isn't an anomaly: It is the fullest logical expression of the genus teen, the platonic ideal of the species.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My Life as a Hack:

We freelancers have always had to put up with magazines that die on us, along with butchered copy, chuckleheaded editors, rights-grabbing contracts, isolation, lost manuscripts, whacks to the ego, changed quotes, the absence of security or benefits, and—unkindest of all—the kill fee (i.e., paying authors a third or a quarter of the agreed-upon rate if an assigned piece is not used for virtually any reason, up to and including the fact that someone else wrote about Winona Ryder). Usually, though, these indignities are outweighed by the good stuff about freelancing: freedom, no commute, funny war stories, the periodic ego boost of appearing in print, and the chance to eat caviar with Uma Thurman.

But something has changed. These days, when the pros and cons are put on the scale, the minus side sinks every time. I've spent 29 years as a freelancer—some of it full time, most of it on the side—but it may finally be time to take down my shingle.


As far as freelancing rates go, they were modest when I started out and are about the same now. I don't mean the same adjusted for inflation. I mean the same. I became a full-time freelancer in 1978, and the first piece I published in a prominent national magazine was a "My Turn" essay in Newsweek. I was paid $500. Just a couple of years ago, I had a slightly longer essay in a popular online magazine that will go nameless. $500 again. I received the check 97 days after publication, which broke a personal record.

Just a reminder—Flaming Box of Stuff is in NYC, playing one weekend only at UCB, and Champagne does a one-night-stand at the PIT. We're going this evening...perhaps we will see you there?

I'm semi-trapped at home now—somehow I have three UPS shipments and a FedEx shipment all arriving today. I don't know how they managed to connive amongst themselves and arrange to all land simultaneously, but I have a serious lunch date with a sandwich, so we'll see how many we're actually here for.

In other news: on the brink of canceling my t-Mobile service due to incredibly poor coverage, especially in my apartment, when suddenly our coverage improved. Checking t-Mobile's online indicator seems to show that things may have actually gotten better,


but I remain skeptical—we'll see if it lasts. t-Mobile has been a long disappointment as far as service goes, so I'm waiting this out a bit to ensure that we actually have working cell phones now.

Well, not all the blog entries can be gems, people—you have to take the wheat with the chaff.

Well, at least here's a link to Talk Like A Pirate Day, which is coming up on September 19th.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Summer Fading, Hollywood Sees Fizzle:

"It wasn't like the last crop of summer movies were that much better than this summer," said Mr. Shmuger, whose studio's recent releases included the success "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and several disappointments, including "Cinderella Man," "The Perfect Man" and "Kicking and Screaming." "This summer has been as deadening as it has been exciting, and there's a cumulative wearing down effect. We're beginning to witness the results of that. People are just beginning to wake up that what used to pass as summer excitement isn't that exciting, or that entertaining. This is vividly clear in terms of the other choices that consumers have."

Amen to that...I've actually been perfectly happy with the films I've been's just that none of them, lately, are Hollywood films. I wonder if REVENGE OF THE SITH will gain some notoriety as the straw that broke the camel's back?

Early build pics from Burning Man.

Hope all the folks I know who are there, or are going there soon, have fun on the playa.
It's Hard to Say Goodbye to AOL:

Sometimes it seems the only way to cancel your AOL account is to cancel the credit card they're billing. "I'd heard all the stories about how AOL keeps billing you, so I was very careful to follow all the correct notification procedures for terminating the account," wrote another reader. "Didn't matter. A couple of months later, the AOL charge was still showing up on my credit card statement. I called to complain, and AOL told me that they had no record of my canceling the account. What's worse, my bank wouldn't reverse the charges. When the charge showed up on the next month's bill again, that was it. Now I've got a new ISP, and a new bank!"

These stories have been legion for years, but in a surprising development it seems to be catching up with them finally. America Online agreed to pay $1.25 million to the state of New York and reform its customer service procedures, the state attorney general announced yesterday—the full details are here, and the Slashdot feeding frenzy may be visited here.

One excellent comment from the aforementioned frenzy:

I work in "retention" (meaning I take cancellation calls) at an AOL call center. I'm ashamed of what I do here but the money is so damn good that I'm doing it anyway, bad karma be damned.

The "saves rate" expected of us is 65%. Incredibly, we have to get two thirds of the people calling to cancel their AOL off the phone without canceling them. This pressure to hit these numbers causes retention agents to due some pretty unscrupulous things.

In training we are told a bunch of bullshit about the "value" of AOL. But that's not how it works when you get out onto the floor. Here's how it really works: You be a very good listener, repeat back to the member the cancellation reason as though you agree with them to give the member the feeling that you are to cancel their account. You be extremely nice to them and show empathy. This is to get them to let their guard down. Then you ask them to get a piece of paper and write down your email address and you start talking about keyword this and keyword that to confuse and distract them. Then you read the "full disclosure" which is a statement that basically says your account is not canceled. If they are not listening closely they will get off the phone with the feeling that you have cancelled the account even though you didn't.

Also, from the same discussion, on the incredible number of AOL offer CDs that arrived in the mail like snow for a number of years:

I was once on a physics discussion board, and they where using the AOL CDs as capacitors... They would solder a small cable to one of the sides (top side, obviously), then stack them 50/100/250 high. I don't remember numbers, but some guys said it worked excellent. I think one of the guys was using a five-pack of these AOL CDs to fire up a Tesla Coil.

If anyone reading this is still on AOL, I implore you—run, run away now, before its too late. My friend Moira recently told me she stays with AOL because when she's in Outer Estvanirkia she can rely on AOL to grab her mail, but it seems to me that even this isn't going to work as a reason forever—Estonia is littered with WiFi hotspots, for example.

More importantly, we all know who will be holding the short end of the stick when AOL finishes imploding.


Yes, that would be us. So get with the program and start canceling now, so that you can be finished slightly in advance of the rapture.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


A demonstration of ironic distance, courtesy of John:

The publisher of Rick Moody's new novel realized that the somewhat
tongue-in-cheek cover above, depicting a Conan the Barbarian
type on a mountaintop, was indistinguishable from the fantasy novels it
resembled. Their solution: a cover redesign featuring the same cover
art, now depicted on the screen inside a movie theatre, as seen from
the back.

The movement of the cover painting from foreground to middle ground is,
quite literally, an ironic distance, accurately measured almost to the

The full NYT article on this distancing effect may be found here.

A second example of ironic distance, courtesy of another John.

I, on the other hand, have no ironic distance, as I am under the weather, which makes me terribly literal.

I am enjoying this article by Oskar Eustis on what he plans for the Public.

I will also be enjoying a delicious coffee in a few moments.


That is all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just a reminder for tonight...


Rejection, Dejection and Tales of Misfortune

LES Gallery at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk Street between Rivington and Delancey Sts.
Subway: F to Delancey St.; J,M,Z to Delancey-Essex Sts.
$5 admission includes one drink
FMI: 212.260.4080 or go to:


Ladies and gentlemen, don't even ask how, or why, but somehow I've been letting you read EVERYTHING ON THIS GODDAMN SITE in VERDANA for...oh, the last two years or so. Maybe longer.

I hate Verdana. Always have. Always will. Ugly font, and it scales why would I inflict it on all of you?

Ignorance. Sheer ignorance.

Now its Georgia, or Helvetica, which is better...even if not perfect, rest assured that I finally have the situation in hand and you should be seeing improvements, day by day.
Bad actors on the aisle:

Actress Lynda Gravatt, frequent performer at Princeton's McCarter Theatre Company, has been in front of some tough audiences, too, in New York and across the country. But over the past few years, things seem to be getting a little worse. "Audience members will put their feet on the stage, their programs, their coats, their cup of whatever they think they should be drinking that they really shouldn't be drinking," she says. "And then when an actor walks by and kicks it, they wonder why. It's because this is not a coat-check room. This is a set."
The New England Ironman Diner Decathalon Challenge

THE CHALLENGE: To eat at ten New England diners in one 24-hour period, stopping in every New England state at least once.


EACH DINER STOP shall consist of ordering and completely consuming at least one food and one beverage item from the menu or specials board. All items must be consumed and paid for before proceeding to the next diner. Prepackaged food items do not count.

SEATING can only be secured at time of arrival. Advance reservations or use of confederates to gain a time advantage is forbidden. Likewise, ordering must be done in person and only after being seated.

THREE stops must be "Full meal" stops, consisting of beverage, entree, and one appetizer, soup, salad, side or dessert item. Locations and order of "Full Meal" stops MUST be formally declared before the start of timekeeping, and must be followed exactly.
Read a great article at breakfast today on the brain of the gut—how our digestive system has a pretty advanced neurological system, and ongoing research into the links between our minds and our bodies. Very interesting.
Geek moment: here's an article on thieves using Bluetooth to detect which cars have laptops in the trunks, then stealing from those cars.

I'm confused—how does this work? My laptop is asleep when closed, or off, so Bluetooth isn't active. Even if I had set my laptop to wake on Bluetooth contact, that works for paired Bluetooth mice and keyboards, not phones—so would this *ever* detect a laptop?

My guess is that the thieves, if they are using Bluetooth for this at all, could be looking for discoverable devices, which would always be on, and then they are assuming (probably correctly) that people with Bluetooth devices in their car might also have a laptop there.

Poor tech reporting.
Klingon Fairy Tales

"Little Red Riding Hood Strays Into the Neutral Zone and Is Never Heard From Again, Although There Are Rumors ... Awful, Awful Rumors"

"Hansel and Gretel Offend Vlad the Impaler"

"The Hare Foolishly Lowers His Guard and Is Devastated by the Tortoise, Whose Prowess in Battle Attracts Many Desirable Mates"
Synthesiser pioneer Dr Moog dies

Synthesiser pioneer Dr Robert Moog has died at his North Carolina home aged 71, four months after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Monday, August 22, 2005

PROSTITUTE PHOBIA: Treatment and Hope:

Imagine What Your Life Would Be Like Without Cyprianoophobia, Cypridophobia, Cypriphobia, Cyprinophobia, Fear of Prostitues, and Fear of Venereal Disease


Just for the uninitiated, "Kayfabe" is an insider wrestling term, meaning "in character". If you're seen having a beer on the town with your most hated in-ring enemy, you're breaking kayfabe. It's a verb as well. If a wrestler gives, say, an entire interview in character, he's kayfabing.

Supposedly an old carny term.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph—what reality-based demographic is supposed to look at those kids and...what? Believe they are in the National Guard? Believe they are about to join the NG and have their nuts blown off in Iraq?

But don't forget: Free T-Shirt and DVD!


This was an excellent weekend back in NYC—i got an enormous amount accomplished, which, for me, is often the primary bar as to whether I'm happy to be back home, because there have been many times that the psychic shock of changing locales becomes a great excuse for less and less work.

The week ahead is quite full—I have a performance tomorrow night at the HOWL Festival, and then the Flaming Box of Stuff kids get to town for their shows at UCB. They got a nice shout out at the Apiary last week, and I expect they'll pull strong crowds—I love the show they're bringing, and it'll make for a great nostalgic weekend of hearkening back to sketch comedy roots.

We spent yesterday at the Angelika, where we performed the classic "two movies for the price of one" shuffle. It was an all animal day: first March of the Penguins, followed immediately by Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man, a plan we devised over beers on Friday with Paul.

It bears noting that the entire time we were in Berkeley we tried to see March of the Penguins every day, until it became totally comical—we'd always get up too late, or have too much to do; when on tour performing my bandwidth gets extremely limited, so its easy to get into grooves where there is ONE THING I want to do, over and over, that can't happen. This was encouraged, I think, by the fact that I couldn't stop calling the film ATTACK of the Penguins, which I have to say I consider a better title, even if it would be terribly inaccurate, as there is very little attacking in the film.

Penguins was a disappointment. I'll admit that after months of waiting it would have had to be pretty spectacular to rise to the challenge, but for me it left a lot to be desired. They spent so much time anthropomorphizing the animals that it felt pointed right at us in the audience, and while that's a cute trick it tired quickly, and I left the film after it was over knowing scarcely little more about the animals than I did going in.

Grizzly Man is an interesting antidote, as it concerns an incredibly obsessed man whose monomaniacal desire to live with grizzly bears results in him dedicating his life to the animals—literally, ultimately, as he is eventually eaten by a bear. Werner reconstructs his life from copious amounts of footage he leaves behind, and as we peel back the layers we learn more and more about how this obsession carved out his life. It was mesmerizing in all the ways Penguins was not—funny, bizarre, touching and, ultimately, inexplicable—like all good art is.

And now, some pictures from China's amazing yearly ice festival in Harbin:
A corridor of ice!

A building made of ice!

A blog entry made of ice!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Urban Ninja Strikes!
Living in text files:

A while ago, I thought I'd try an experiment: could I organise all my work, all my personal stuff, all my writing, in one huge text file?

I tried it. It wasn't easy. While it's sort-of comforting to know that you have everything you need at your disposal, it's also a little daunting. "Where did I leave that half-finished snippet of writing about such-and-such? I hope I can find it somewhere in this 4,000-line file..."
A show cancels in Seattle, sending this letter to the arts calendar:

Dear Editor,

Conclave is cancelled. No one came to the preview, and no one wants to buy a ticket for any upcoming show. Hell, we couldn't even give tickets away. Please remove any mention of it in your arts calendar. And we'll try to do the same from our memories.

Most sincerely,

Dave Whitley


This cubicle tires me.

More of P's work can be found here.

I'd like to thank Sheila for the hours of my life that have been vaporized by this game, and now I'd like to share the love:
My record is 331.2...try it yourself.
This is making the rounds of teh internets this morning--a quick Googling reveals most of these to be accurate, though I haven't had a chance to track them all down. These are all quotes from prominent Iraq war supporters from years ago, when they all opposed intervention in Bosnia:

“You can support the troops but not the president.”
–Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

“Well, I just think it’s a bad idea. What’s going to happen is they’re going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years.”
–Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

“Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?”
–Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

“[The] President . . . is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation’s armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy.”
–Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

“American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy.”
–Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

“If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy.”
–Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush

“I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning . . I didn’t think we had done enough in the diplomatic area.”
–Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

“I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today”
–Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”
–Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

“The President must remember that the military is a special instrument. It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force. It is not a political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society.”
–Condoleeza Rice, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2000.
Rap mogul Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs has unveiled his new stage moniker - he wants to be called just Diddy. Combs - who changed his name from Puff Daddy and Puffy before adopting the name P. Diddy in 2001 - announced his moniker change in New York City yesterday. He tells MTV News, "It’s five letters, one word. The name is changed. We made it simpler. We removed the P. The P was getting in between us. We’re entering the age of Diddy. A lot of my peeps in music been calling me Diddy, so it’s not a drastic change for them. But people around the world didn’t know what to call me. We was at (Madison Square Garden) rocking with Jay-Z. The last time I was there, half the crowd was chanting ‘P Diddy’, half the crowd chanting ‘Diddy’. We gonna stop the confusion. ‘Diddy. Diddy, Diddy!’ Simple. To the point and it sounds strong. It sounds like something is about to happen. It sounds like something is about to go down in history." Combs plans a special "unveiling of Diddy" ceremony when he hosts the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami on August 28. He adds, "You gonna see that in the entrance. You gonna see that swagger. You gonna see how I’m gonna navigate you through the journey."

What an incredible shithead.
Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory:

KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Teaching the Dog Not to Nip

Do you think it's easy,
not biting
the one you love?
Try loving someone so much
your mouth is only at home
in the place where your teeth
meet the flesh
of your beloved. Try
not tasting the flesh,
not taking in your mouth
the beloved, not
going all the way.

Jim Moore
Sheila has a great entry on going to the Marriage Bureau in unforgettable Brooklyn:

Some couples looked like they were on line to get their teeth drilled. Others were holding hands, giggling, kissing. A few gals came in wearing full-on bridal gear. I passed the time picking out the couples who'd be divorced within three years.

On the wall leading up to the clerks' window were scrawled several hundred hasty ball-point hearts with two names inside: "Angel -n- Taniqua 4 ever"... "F-Dawg loves Teeny"... My favorites were the math equations: "Shawndel + Travis = True Love".

Read the rest here.

A concept homeless shelter that feeds on AC unit exhaust. Link
The excellent David Brooks, pictured here in Aaron Landsman's monologue
Love Story at Collapsible Hole last month.
I love this USB/FireWire hub that is built into a sexy paper tray, but I can't believe its $150--does anyone know of a knockoff? It's attractive, but that's incredible markup.


Follow up on this picture from a reader:

The Oscar Meyer Wiener truck was once used by Philip Morris (now Altria – they own Oscar) as a leveraging device for some guerilla marketing at MoMA. I heard the woman then in charge of corporate donations for Philip Morris give a talk about how, when MoMA opened their Impressionism exhibit in the early 90’s, they were being funded by PM for millions. PM wanted the Wiener Truck in front of the opening and MoMA was like, no way, we’re MoMA, we have white wine and canapes. Philip Morris was basically like, “Yeah? How much of our funding is it worth giving up to not have the Wiener Truck at your opening, beeeyatch.” I don’t think she used that word though. AND IF YOU PUT THIS ON YOUR BLOG YOU DIDN’T HEAR IT FROM ME.

Finally, and you may have guessed this already: we are back in NYC. Yesterday at our favorite diner a crazy lady got into a fight with her waiter, and neither one would give an inch, so that they bickered like they were married the entire time. Brooklyn, how I've missed you.
And now, something really special:


Behold Sam, the winner and champion of the Ugliest Dog in the World contest.

[From the dog's owner's website:]

Sam...."World's Ugliest Dog" 2003, 2004, 2005! Sam is a purebred, yes that's right, a purebred Chinese Crested Hairless. He's almost 15 years old and was taken in as a rescue over five years ago by Susie Lockheed. He was considered "un-adoptable" by local shelters. Susie took him in on a 48-hour trial period. During that time he lived in a cage because he acted like "Cujo" the rabid dog. Susie had to shove food and water into the cage and run. The 48-hour trial became several days, and then Sam just walked out of the cage and became one of the pack (other hairless dogs who found harbour in Susie's domain).

The LA Times did an extensive story on Sam
here, and you may wish to check out Sam's blog, which is easier to get to with all the traffic.

(Thanks to JM for pulling this report together.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005



LES Gallery at The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center
107 Suffolk Street between Rivington and Delancey Sts.
Subway: F to Delancey St.; J,M,Z to Delancey-Essex Sts.
$5 admission includes one drink
FMI: 212.260.4080 or go to:

This monthly reading series curated and hosted by Marie Sabatino features author/monologuist
Mike Daisey (21 Dog Years), author John Haskell (American Purgatorio) and storyteller Tim O' Mara, with musical guest The Brevoort. The night's theme is Rejection, Dejection and Tales of Misfortune.


Mike Daisey's monologues, including
21 Dog Years, The Ugly American, Monopoly!, Wasting Your Breath and I Miss the Cold War have been peformed Off Broadway and around the world. His latest, The Ugly American, was seen at the Spoleto Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre and will be on the BBC this fall. He's a commentator for National Public Radio, a writer for the National Lampoon Radio Hour and is currently writing his second book, Happiness Is Overrated, which is dedicated to the proposition its title asserts.

John Haskell was raised in California and received an MFA from Columbia University in New York. He is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. John's work has appeared in a number of magazines including The Paris Review, McSweeney's, and Ploughshares. He is the author of I am Not Jackson Pollock and most recently American Purgatorio.

Tim O'Mara is an aspiring novelist and short story writer, but has had his most recent success writing lesson plans and hall passes. Along with teaching in the NYC public schools, he is the father of an absolutely brilliant 2.75 year-old who speaks at a 3.5 age level. Tim is the member of We Three Productions, producing bi-weekly poetry and prose readings Monday nights at The Telephone Bar.

Musical guest,
The Brevoort, is a three piece rock-n-roll band playing obscure covers from the Buddy Holly songbook alongside original music written by Wayne Kral. The band line-up is Christy Davis: Percussion; Seth Ginsberg: Lead Guitar and Vocals; and Wayne Kral: Rhythm Guitar and Vocals.
Delaware state trooper helps enforce Rick Santorum's 'family' values

Short version: Rick Santorum is a freedom-hating dick. The longer version is worth reading, if your bloord pressure can handle it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


No Work Poem #1

what hurt my father most after his accident
where one bad turn to the water fountain
nearly cost him his life, a forklift dropped
a pallet of 526 pounds of compressed card--
board on him and crushed him like a bug,
was how the company told all of his work friends
that because my father had gotten a lawyer
they couldn't talk to my father anymore,
that it was policy that no one come in close
contact with him as though he had malaria
or some other contagious disease. My father
was depressed by this, a man who shared hard
work with other men, and they were his friends,
and his true friends came by anyway to share
stories of what went on at work, and this helped
rehabilitate my father, slowly, and I saw it
in his eyes when his best friend, Manzano,
told my father how many fewer boxes of coffee
they packed without him, that my father,
el campeon, still held the record--I didn't
understand this kind of work-talk,
but I saw how my father when he thought
he was alone would raise his hands and look
at them in the light, as though they were gifts,
and they were; with his hands he worked,
hard, with his hands, he beat the clock,
with his hands he provided for his family,
and proud, he looked at them, the way his
thin fingers now moved; with his hands
he clawed at life, what is given, what is taken.

Virgil Suarez

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Watch for tolls.

A roboticist's cat had a stroke, so he built him a wheeled chariot he can control with levers: ROBOKITTY!

Monday, August 15, 2005

It is finished. Last night's performance of MONOPOLY! was a great success--we sold out and were packed beyond capacity, and we couldn't have asked for a better bunch. We did a post-show discussion, so my apologies to anyone I missed who had to leave and didn't make it to the party—I hope you enjoyed the workshop, and we hope the return to Berkeley in the future. Watch the skies!

Sunday, August 14, 2005


The Book of A

Raised during the Depression, my stepfather
responded to the economic opportunity
of the 1950s by buying more
and more cheap, secondhand things
meant to transform his life.
I got this for a hundred bucks,
he said, patting the tractor that listed
to one side, or the dump truck that started
with a roar and wouldn't dump.
Spreading their parts out on his tarp.
he'd make the strange whistle
he said he learned from the birds
for a whole morning
before the silence set in.
Who knows where he picked up
the complete AZ encyclopedias
embossed in gold and published
in 1921? They were going to take these
to the dump, he said. Night after night
he sat up, determined to understand
everything under the sun
worth knowing, and falling asleep
over the book of A. Meanwhile, as the weeks,
then the months passed, the moon
went on rising over the junk machines
in the tall grass of the only
world my stepfather ever knew,
and nobody wrote to classify
his odd, beautiful whistle, formed
somehow, in the back of his throat
when a new thing seemed just about to happen
and no words he could say expressed his hope.

Wesley McNair
Thanks to everyone who showed up for the closing of THE UGLY AMERICAN—it was a long run, and I couldn't imagine a nicer closing after so much work. Of particular note is that Brad Olsen, my high school English teacher, came to the show—we hadn't seen each other since graduation, and it was great going out with him, meeting his wife and his friends, who made the trek up to see the show.


Young, isn't he? It's amazing—when he taught me, i believe he was 22 or so, so there's only about five years between us. Now, after all this time, it feels like we're the same age. Remarkable how time levels so many things, which was actually a sub-theme in the monologue, playing out in real-time after the show.

Tonight's performance of MONOPOLY! is totally sold out. There is a wait list, so show up to the theater early and they'll do the best they can to accommodate folks. I'm very excited to remount the monologue—we've done some good work on it, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it flies after being down for five months.
Q and A With Brian Eno:

Q: How did you come to compose "The Microsoft Sound''?

A: The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I'd been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, ``Here's a specific problem -- solve it.''

The thing from the agency said, ``We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,'' this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said ``and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long.''

I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It's like making a tiny little jewel.

In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I'd finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


The world's only erotic mime.

Why I Am Not A Good Kisser

Because I open my mouth too wide
Trying to take in the curtains behind us
And everything outside the window
Except the little black dog
Who does not like me
So at the last moment I shut my mouth.

Because Cipriano de Rore was not thinking
When he wrote his sacred and secular motets
Or there would be only one kind
And this affects my lips in terrible ways.

Because at the last minute I see a lemon
Sitting on a gravestone and that is a thing, a thing
That would appear impossible, and the kiss
Is already concluded in its entirety.

Because I learned everything about the beautiful
In a guide to the weather by Borin Van Loon, so
The nature of lenticular clouds and anticyclones
And several other things dovetail in my mind
& at once it strikes me what quality goes to form
A Good Kisser, especially at this moment, & which you
Possess so enormously--I mean when a man is capable
Of being in uncertainties, Mysteries & doubts without me
I am dreadfully afraid he will slip away
While my kiss is trying to think what to do.

Because I think you will try and read what is written
On my tongue and this causes me to interrupt with questions:
A red frock? Red stockings? And the rooster dead? Dead of what?

Because of that other woman inside me who knows
How the red skirt and red stockings came into my mouth
But persists with the annoying questions
Leading to her genuine ignorance.

Because just when our teeth are ready to hide
I become a quisling and forget the election results
And industrial secrets leading to the manufacture
Of woolen ice cream cones, changing the futures
Of ice worms everywhere.

Can it be that even the greatest Kisser ever arrived
At his goal without putting aside numerous objections--

Because every kiss is like throwing a pair of doll eyes
Into the air and trying to follow them with your own--

However it may be, O for a life of Kisses
Instead of painting volcanoes!

Even if my kiss is like a paintbrush made from hairs.
Even if my kiss is squawroot, which is a scaly herb
Of the broomrape family parasitic on oaks.
Even if a sailor went to sea in me
To see what he could see in me
And all that he could see in me
Was the bottom of the deep dark sea in me.
Even though I know nothing can be gained by running
Screaming into the night, into the night like a mouth,
Into the mouth like a velvet movie theatre
With planets painted on its ceiling
Where you will find me, your pod mate,
In some kind of beautiful trouble
Over moccasin stitch #3,
Which is required for my release.

Mary Ruefle
Recorded details of Sept 11 NY attacks made public:

The audio tapes, transcripts of emergency workers' radio dispatches and oral histories provided by rescuers after the attacks recount the harrowing and grim moments when thousands of people were trapped and died in the flames and debris of the twin towers.

Firefighter Maureen McArdle-Schulman described a "constant" stream of bodies falling from the towers.

"I felt like I was intruding on a sacrament," she said. "They were choosing to die, and I was watching them and shouldn't have been, so me and another guy turned away and looked at the wall and we could still hear them hit."

Friday, August 12, 2005

Back from the theater tonight, two interesting emails in my inbox. First, from a BRT artistic associate:

"It has been great having you here. You make an invaluable contribution to art at BRT. Thank you both."

Immediately following it was an email from someone with a hotmail address:

"Don't dismiss my comments just because i am a big fan of yours.I just saw your show at B-rep and it needs help."

The "big fan" then goes on to explain the problems with my monologue (it should be more funny, if I were thinner then it would be less disturbing to hear about sex) and so forth.

There are a couple of ways one can view this, and I think in a short time I've worked through most of them. My simple takeaway is this: I am very glad that the first email was from an artist I highly respect, and that the second was from some dude with a hotmail account, and not vice versa.
Chain Of Trust
The Hidden Boot Code of the Xbox:

512 bytes is a very small amount of code (it fits on a single sheet of paper!), compared to the megabytes of code contained in software like Windows, Internet Explorer or Internet Information Server. Three bugs within these 512 bytes compromised the security completely - a bunch of hackers found them within days after first looking at the code. Why hasn't Microsoft Corp. been able to do the same? Why?
This is classic--the U.S. Copyright Office posted a notice asking for public comment on their plan to only support Microsoft's Internet Explorer for viewing sections of their site. Even the COPYRIGHT OFFICE can't seem to understand the importance of interoperability, and why should they--it's their system that's being abused by software companies every day. For example, Microsoft has a patent pending for displaying numbers in a box to make them stand out.

You would think that wasn't patentable, but you would sadly be sane.
Best theremin email of the day:

Once I met Lydia Kavina, the theremin virtuoso and his great niece. She played the Theremin for at a small party I went to in St. Petersburg and she was lovely and a little spooky. At the end of the party I sat in an empty bathtub with the guy who made the Theremin documentary and an editor from Spin Magazine. Nothing kinky happened.

As a professional storyteller, I can appreciate the final sentence, but I have to admit--a little kinky goes a long way.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Electronica From the 1920's, Ready for Sampling
NYT's piece on the theremin, a storied and fascinating instrument. I performed in some shows at AHA! Theatre in Seattle, back in the day, where a theremin was played to great effect--I can still recall its haunting and disquieting sounds even now...

Amy Moon of the SFWeekly doesn't like this poster:


She blogs about this, and her impressions of the show, here. I'm delighted that she liked the show so much--as I told her in an email,

I understand what you're getting at, in your entry--but I do think there's an element of that mania in my work, and I am large, so when creating evocative images I seem to end up eating, destroying and devouring objects an inordinate amount of the time.

Monopoly! doesn't have me eating anything:


A nice change of pace.

Speaking of which, we're in the thick of working on M! right now, so if I'm inconstant at getting back to people in the next few days it is because TUA is ending and M! is coming up--it takes a lot of personal bandwidth.

Finally, saw
Josh Kornbluth today. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere, but he's hosting a show for KQED that is to be titled, The Josh Kornbluth Show, on which he hosts, interviews folks and does some monologue work. We had a really lovely meeting this afternoon; he's a real mensch, a kind and considerate man and a credit to our incredibly small profession.

Now I must work on M!, then perform TUA, then work on M!, then pass out.

The Apple Developer kit version of MacOSX x86 has indeed been fully cracked!
An anonymous source has sent us a video showing MacOSX x86 booting natively on a Pc notebook Mitac 8050D (Pentium-M 735/1.6GHz).

That certainly didn't take very long.
Mudd business card:


Zocchidice 0004

SURPRISE: The term "surprise" is basically self-explanatory. A surprised party is caught unawares or unprepared. In such circumstances the non-surprised (or less-surprised) party has an immediate advantage which is reflected in the granting of 1 or more segments of initiative, during which the active (non- or less surprised) party can take actions 4. A through H., wholly or partially depending on several modifying factors. The surprise segment is 6 seconds. Avoiding, parleying, awaiting the action of the surprised, missile discharge, and setting of weapons (typically spears or spearing types of pole arms) are possible.

Prague astronomical clock.