Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Evelyn Waugh Would Be So Happy!

Once again, life has spectacularly imitated art. The Loved One has come true to life...er, death...thanks to the enterpreneurship of a company that is launching cremains into space. First customer: James Doohan, better known as Scottie on "Star Trek." Read more on Slate: Cremate Me Up, Scottie!

And yeah, I know that Waugh hated the movie (one of my favorites--and not just because it's the one that broke the blacklist for my father), but Liberace as a coffin salesman is just too delicious to resist. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any images of Paul Williams as the rocket-loving kid who (ahem) launches the idea for space "burial."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Coming Soon: What Color Is Your Kaffiyeh?

Here in Denver, we get national opinion columns--and sometimes news--a day late. So in today's Denver Post, there was Thomas Friedman's piece about Hamas from yesterday's New York Times, changed (I wonder why?) from "The Weapon of Democracy" to "A Weapon Called Democracy."

The last paragraph really got me thinking...once I'd stopped laughing:

...the West Bank AFP reporter told me that when he went into the main bookstore in Ramallah the other day and asked what was selling, the owner said he'd noticed Hamas people buying Dale Carnegie books on management.
I would have thought Hamas operatives would be reading Sun Tzu or Macchiavelli if they wanted to branch out. (Darling Child thought they'd be reading "How to Succeed in Terrorism Without Really Trying.") But...Dale Carnegie?

Maybe there's hope for peace yet. I don't think How to Win Friends & Influence People recommends blowing yourself up, or annihilating your next-door neighbors, or both. And once Hamas's doors are open to Dale Carnegie, who knows what will follow? The possibilities are endless (and hilarious): Og Mandino...The Purpose-Driven Life (oh wait, they've got that one down)...First, Break All the Rules (oops; did that too). Ooh, ooh! This one's perfect, though it does center on a--gasp!--woman: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

To Hell with Susan Sontag

Illness isn't metaphor; it's a literal time suck and annoyance. It's Day 8 of pneumonia, and I'm at that obnoxious stage where I'm well enough to be bored with everything (myself most especially), but not well enough to actually do anything, other than spend an inordinate amount of time online.

Great places to kill time today--and learn something in the process:
  • Guest blogger Ally Carter shares invaluable tips in "An Author Looks at Publicists" at Pub Rants.
  • "Slushkiller" by the incomparable Teresa Nielsen Hayden at Making Light. Marvelous dissection of rejection letters and the sometimes crazy responses from their recipients.
  • "Being Able to Write" by K.G. Schneider at Free Range Librarian. Great tips from writers.

My favorite Cheney shooting joke, from "Jimmy Kimmel Live":

You know what they say, if Dick Cheney comes out of his hole and shoots an old man in the face, 6 more weeks of winter.
Happy Valentine's Day! (GRRR...)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Laugh for Saturday

I'm weak from a laughing/coughing fit after reading today's post, "The Last Word on Manuscript Formatting...Ever" at Miss Snark. As she observed, it is truly a Comic SmackDown.

Less amusing, but most helpful and informative (and non-pseudonymous!), are agents Kristin Nelson at Pub Rants and Jennifer Jackson at Et in arcaedia, ego.

Per Jackson, I finally did my homework, with help from Wikipedia:
"Et in Arcadia ego" is a Latin phrase that most famously appears as the title of two paintings by Nicolas Poussin 15941665) They are pastoral paintings depicting idealized shepherds from classical antiquity, clustering around an austere tomb. The more famous second version of the subject, measuring 122 by 85 cm, is in the Louvre, Paris, and also goes under the name "Les bergers d'Arcadie" ("The Arcadian Shepherds"). It has been highly influential in the history of art, and more recently has been associated with the pseudohistory of the Priory of Sion popularised in the books Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code.

The phrase is a memento mori, which is usually interpreted to mean "I am also in Arcadia" or "I am even in Arcadia", as if spoken by personified Death. However, Poussin's biographer Andre Felibien interpreted it to mean that "the person buried in this tomb has lived in Arcad..(ia)"; in other words, that they too once enjoyed the pleasures of life on earth. The former interpretation is generally considered to be more likely. Either way, the sentiment was meant to set up an ironic contrast by casting the shadow of death over the usual idle merriment that the nymphs and swains of ancient Arcadia were thought to embody....The phrase is used as the title of the first act in Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited. It is also the title of the second major story arc of Grant Morrison's esoteric comic book series The Invisibles, which incorporates Poussin's painting, and appears as an inscription on a gun in Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian.

Hmm...I must have snoozed through that lecture during Art History. I remember the shepherds but not much else. (Hey, it was an 8 a.m. class. Or maybe it was right after lunch. Anyway, it was dark in there.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Not Tonight, Dear...I Have a Headache

Seen at our local Walgreen's:

The contraceptives are actually located on an aisle facing the baby-care products. On one side, there's Boudreaux's Butt Paste*; on the other, ribbed condoms. A woman's (or man's) Right to Choose was never more starkly illustrated.

*[edit] Louisiana diaper-rash ointment

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No Blurb Woes Here!

The below is just in from NM Kelby, author of Whale Season, who's going to be on my "Plotting Your Career" panel at the VaBook Festival next month.

Just wanted to let you know that my first official contest is here...I will now NEVER win the Nobel Prize.

If you want to spread the word (or enter!!) here's what you need to know: Free books! Hawaiian shirts! A funereal BBQ!

In short...big fun and all you have to do is to provide a silly blurb.

For more details: click.

Warning: The bar is set pretty high, as there are hilarious quotes from Kelby's in-laws and fishmonger on the press release for Whale Season--which, as it says in the subtitle, is indeed a "really good story." And perfect for the sickbed, as I discovered.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Weak Nod to Irony

One of my main reasons for moving to Denver was its dry, mold-free climate. No more swollen sinuses and nasty allergy problems for me and my Darling Child. So he's been down & out with flu and "malaise" for most of the past 3 weeks and yesterday I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Ha [cough] ha.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Absolute End of the Sixties Counterculture

As reported in the New York Observer, Jann Wenner, head of Wenner Media, is considering opening a Rolling Stone Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Rolling Stone, for those too high or too young to remember, published Hunter S. Thompson's seminal piece of Gonzo journalism, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Good thing Thompson's remains were shot out of a cannon, or else he'd be spinning in his grave like a...roulette wheel.

And speaking of Thompson--whose works , as I recently discovered, are unaccountably shelved under "Sociology" at Denver's Tattered Cover--how many memoirs can we read about him? (And how the hell many "close friends" can such an ornery iconoclast have had, anyway?) In addition to the reminscences in the tribute issue of Rolling Stone, whose stellar quality underlined how far the magazine has fallen since its glory days, we have:
  1. GONZO: HUNTER THOMPSON, AN ORAL HISTORY by Corey Seymour (Wenner Books, April '06). Evidently the "official" Rolling Stone biography; Seymour was one of the prime movers of the tribute issue. Per Amazon: "Legions of friends, co-conspirators, neighbors, editors, and drinking buddies tell the story -- as only now it can be told -- of the late, legendary writer’s greatest creation: his own mythic life."
  2. WHO KILLED HUNTER THOMPSON by Warren Hinckle (Last Gasp, June '06). Again per Amazon: "A look at the life of Hunter through the eyes of his close friends and peers."
  3. THE KITCHEN READINGS: HUNTER THOMPSON IN WOODY CREEK. Per a book deal reported by Publishers Marketplace in Dec '05, written by "Hunter Thompson's two closest friends," Sheriff Bob Braudis and Michael Cleverly, "a gathering of tales from over a 30-year period emanating from the kitchen at Thompson's Owl Farm compound," to be published by Harper Entertainment, date unspecified.
  4. AMERICAN DREAMER: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF HUNTER THOMPSON. Per Publishers Marketplace in March '05: "Journalism professor and author William McKeen's part tribute, part literary analysis, part oral history, part biography from someone who has been a Thompson acquaintance, watcher and 'scholar' for 35 years." To be published by Norton, date unspecified.

My money's on the Seymour book because it'll be the first one out of the gate, plus have the Wenner marketing and publicity clout behind it. But the book I'm really waiting for--and not just because I hope it has pictures--is Fear & Loathing illustrator Ralph Steadman's memoir of his 30-year working relationship with Thompson. It's coming out in the UK from Heinemann in October. Surely some US publisher will pick it up; in fact, should have already. What gives?

While Not Watching the Big Game...

My original plans for today included going to a Super Bowl party at the fabu mountain home of Darling Husband's boss. But flu (caught from Darling Child, who has since recovered) intervened, and now I'm home alone on the couch. With laptop on and the TV off, thank you very much, as I honestly couldn't care less about football. Plus I have a wicked headache, in addition to the raspy throat and runny nose. DH is recording the game, so I'll just watch the musical performances & commercials later. (The Rolling Stones at half-time?! I'm still trying to get my mind around that...)

Now is the perfect time to catch up with correspondence; better yet if it's the foreign kind. And voilá! What should be in my Inbox but an email from a cousin in England and one from Canadian author Kenneth J. Harvey, with a link to an amusing piece he wrote in reference to the Frey fracas, "The facts. Don't give me the facts," which ran in The Times (London) and Toronto Star. Harvey satirically argues that too much fact in Banville’s THE SEA raises questions about its authenticity as fiction. Then he goes on to say:

In keeping with these principles, should not an author of fiction be fictional himself? Why should a writer who spends his life claiming that what he creates is entirely invented, be allowed to use his own name or live in a real house?

Hmm...I believe this perfectly describes the fictional fictionalist JT LeRoy.

And on a related subject, why isn't there a greater fracas in the media about Nasdijj the "Navahoax," whose lies (and literary thefts) were far more egregious than Frey's? I'm guessing it's because Nasdijj wasn't on Oprah; never mind that he received a PEN award, among others. Media credo: If an author falls in the forest and nobody saw it on Oprah, then it didn't make a sound.

Edit: Darling Husband phoned me at half-time, so I watched the Rolling Stones. The sound was lousy, but as usual, they put on quite a show. Their spindly black-clad figures were quite a striking contrast to the padded, beefy (porky!) football players. Mick sure is lithe & limber for a 60-year-old (ooh, those pelvic whirls & thrusts!) and Charlie Watts is tight & buff too. Wonder how the footballers will look at their age? [SHUDDER...]