Archive | 2005

Interview by Kevin Sampsell on the Powells Blog

I talked with Kevin Sampsell, the curator of the small press shelf at Powells in Portland and author of A Common Pornography & Beatiful Blemish. His interview appears on the Powells Blog.

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Chewbacca in Narnia

I also saw Chewbacca in Narnia. This has been a widely observed phenomena. Weird. I forget who was saying* that Santa Claus is part of a training myth for the post-modern mind and our belief in a monetary system based on faith. 1) Santa Claus [leaves presents] 2) Easter Bunny [leaves chocolate] 3) Tooth Fairy. [leaves American currency with the words “in god we trust”.] And the gradual de-masking of each of these myths is also important. At the center of dialogue is the question “is santa claus/god/money real?” undercut with the understanding, “I don’t want to question it too deeply because I don’t want to destroy the value added by faith.” This is post-mod deconstruction at its height. There has also been a recent argument put forward by The Republican War on Science that post-modern theory has been embraced by right wing think tanks and that the kind of dialectic explored by post-mod theorists is central to the practical blinding of the american public.

It was very revealing recently to hear people bring up the “War on Christmas,” as in “Merry Christmams” vs “Happy Holidays,” as a way of obstificating any sense behind 1) the president breaking the law and 2) the fact that the US has declared war on the rest of the planet. While the poeple I was with knew it was a frivilous topic, these lab tech liberals I work with, they were also completely absorbed about talking about it because it became a kind of interplay between various value systems. In the same way, I think to have cross references in movies like Narnia and Star Wars develops a kind of mythological dense cloud that displaces a real engagement with the world. Narnia‘s director created Shrek and Shrek II which I think are the most overt offenders in this regard. These movies would be almost completely incomprehensible if we didn’t live in a world crowded with Chewbaccas. It’s kind of like a game of Three Card Monte with objective reality beind the thing being carted around.

A review of the movie: I thought The White Witch was scary, and the movie a kind of crusader-in-training movie for the kindergartner set. Very weird to see children in combat. I hope it becomes even more odd and not the way things are in the future. The movie confirms once again that the root of the fantasy genre is always a tale of genocide. C++ (B- with extra credit)

* Ah. It was Chuck Palahniuk. Always a source of thoughtful and reliable theories.

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Review of Madison House by Peter Donahue

In 1907 the City of Seattle began to wash one of its seven hills into Puget Sound in a project known as the Denny Regrade. According to city engineer Reginald H. Thomson, the regrade benefited “The Seattle Spirit.”

Read my review in The Belltown Messenger edited by Mr. Clark Humphrey

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Stuck in Cle Elum

I had been apprehensive about the trip to Spokane for some reason. Even though I have been over the Snoqualmie Pass hundreds of times, I have never driven myself, and this driving myself with my less than brand new car through a region of ice and snow suggested to me the dreadful possibility of something happening. Indeed, something dreadful did happen.

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How Do Birds Publish Bird News?

“This abatement kills a couple of birds and sends a message to the birds to not come here,” said Freyda Stephens, general manager of the center. “It’s not intended to kill everything.”

I wondered on reading this, how do birds recieve this “message?” Do they publish news? Smoke signals? How?

— From The Seattle Times

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Reading in Spokane


December 5th, 2005. 7:30 p.m. (free) I will be reading from Shoot the Buffalo and The Moss Gatherers with Polly Buckingham at the great independent bookstore in Spokane, WA, Auntie’s Bookstore. Polly will read from one of her three amazing and oddly yet-unpublished novels.

About a month ago I suddenly became very, very nervous about driving over Snoqualmie Pass. I have no idea why this is so.I’ve never actually driven over the pass before, but have been there in other people’s cars hundreds of times. I have been there more times than I have been to Portland or Everett. I can travel to Portland or Everett without any apprehension. And yet the drive over Snoqualmie Pass which I must do in order to get to Spokane has filled with me images of sliding off the road into an icy crevice where I will only survive by eating my own leg.

There have actually been in the last year many odd incidents involving travel in the region of Snoqualmie Pass. Last year a man lost his way near Commonwealth Basin. He survived on lichen and had to have both of his feet cut off due to frostbite when he was finally rescued. A woman driving in her SUV was crushed when a boulder broke free from a mountain and bounced over I-90. Even though efforts were undertaken to prevent this from happening again, more boulders bounced over the highway shortly thereafter. Even now I-90 only remains open with one lane due to the danger of bouncing, car sized rocks.

My mother talked to me about my nervousness. She asked me if I had a gallon of water in my car so that I would have something to drink when I slide off the road.

I contemplated flying instead, but failed to buy a ticket before the price of flying to Spokane because as much as it would cost to fly to New York City. I won’t pay this price to get Spokane, although I may pay my life.

Everyday thousands of cars make it to Cle Elum with no incident. I tell myself this. Every single day.

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Observations at South Lake Union

The other day, I felt compelled to provide reports on what I saw and kept calling the answering machine at my house and leaving messages. I saw that the color of Japanese maple leaves that had been left on the sidewalk before being swept away had left tiny brown silhouettes of their shapes. In the dusk the sodium lights cast shadows of the trees over the sidewalk so that it looked like shadows of the naked trees still had their leaves. I reported on two middle-aged women each carrying a take-out bag from the Hooters on South Lake Union. It didn’t occur to me that the place might be frequented by dinners actually looking for food. I had assumed it was frequented exclusively by creepy middle-aged men with Mick Jagger hair dos. I had also assumed that like other theme restaurants, such as the Rainforest Café, that the food was not of sufficient quality to warrant carrying it off the premises. Mid-way through this report the machine filled and shortly after that Lisa erased the contents of the machine since the majority of the messages were of her father calling at nine o’clock asking her if she was still asleep.

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Clear Cut Press at Third Place Books

Evening with the co-founder of Clear Cut Press, Matthew Stadler, features the authors reading from their new books. Matt Briggs reads from Shoot the Buffalo and Stacey Levine from Frances Johnson. There will be music and conversation and more. 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 22nd at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.

* STRANGER SUGGESTS. “The works of Briggs and Levine are central to the real substances and identity of our region’s literature.”

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Article in the Seattle PI

Small publisher’s quality is exemplified by 2 Seattle novelists

Clear Cut’s most recent releases are two fine novels by Seattle authors — “Shoot the Buffalo” by Matt Briggs and “Frances Johnson” by Stacey Levine.

Read the article by John Marshall

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Report From Powells

I left from Seattle at dusk and by the time I arrived in Tumwater, Stacey Levine who was riding with me to Portland, asked, “Is it midnight?” It was only six o’cock, but once we passed beyond the ambient light of the streetlights, parking lots, and public storage compounds skirting I-5, the world was dark. At the Rest Area just north of Centralia, a man asked the people running the Comfort Station, “Is this coffee?” Stacey discovered a cat.

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