Archive | July, 2007

Folklore of American Weather by Eric Sloane

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I think most people my age — I’m 36 — find talk of the weather the distressing and inane babble of strangers. Talk of the weather is the kind of talk you have with people in elevators, It is the kind of talk you have with store clerks with whom you don’t want to exchange a single word. Grudgingly, the talk might touch on the weather. For the most part, especially in Seattle, there isn’t any weather to really talk about. Most people work within sealed, environmentally controlled structures. For many years I worked in offices and cubicles without a window. I’ve pretty much always worked with an office computer with a Web connection and one of the first things I usually do is bookmark the University of Washington Web came so that I can see what I think of as the real world.

I like talk of the weather.

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Instruction Manual for Ultraslimline Tower Fan

In the heat wave last month I bought a fan. It was a long contraption rather than then the box fan I’m used to owning. In the heat wave, I thought about cool air. My thoughts on the subject were limited to one idea: air moving through my home so that when I left and stood on the warm grass or walked through the shimmering heat, I could return to the cool hard wood floors of my home.

I was surprised to find that the fan came with instructions carrying the imperative heading: READ & SAVE THESE INSTRUCTIONS. I didn’t know a fan could be so complicated that it would require instructions. It wasn’t an expensive fan.

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Roethke Readings – Friday 8/3 and Saturday 8/4

Bird BathI will be reading with Rebecca Hoogs, John Olson, Vis-á-vis Society (Rachel Kessler and Sierra Nelson), music by Ken Benshoof and The Half Brothers. Our reading will be emceed by Brangien Davis of Swivel and Brendan Kiley of The Stranger. It’ll be at 9:30 on both nights at ACT and I think costs something.

The ACT Web site promises the event will be a cabaret referencing the DaDa Cabaret Voltaire. Although most people I think associate the Cabaret Voltaire with Surrealism — which has in turn been emptied of its political and revolutionary content and come to mean basically a literary excuse to act wild and crazy. Roethke as a source for a Surrealist party sounds good to me. I wrote a story called “The Penile Colony” about a young girl from the country who goes to the U of W and meets Roethke.

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Samuel Delany Proposition at The Science Fiction Museum

Samuel Delany
I saw Samuel Delany speak at the Science Fiction Museum as part of Clarion West’s reading series. He read from his recent novel, Dark Reflections that has been called an alternate autobiography. (Steven Shaviro has a good review here.) It follows the story of Arnold Hawley, a gay black man and poet, whose ambitions, aspirations, and even sexuality becomes derailed not through any climatic event but through a lifetime of hesitation and observation. In his reading, Delany introduced the book as a kind of story to let the aspiring writers in the creative writing program where he works know what they are in for if they kept at writing and not paying attention to more wordily concerns. Although he made it sound like a kind of cautionary tale — I suspect this kind of advice to writes in a writing program is like standing on the edge of a cliff and warning the lemmings that they are headed in the wrong direction. Lemmings don’t even speak English — the pieces he read portrayed a man at peace with just possessing powers of observation. Unlike the other science fiction writers I heard read at Clarion West’s series, Delany portrays a rich, sensual world that is completely ambiguous in its meaning — there wasn’t a morality track or narrative track keeping the reader cued into the meaning of the work.

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Review of Bed by Tao Lin and Upcoming Readings

Bed by Tao Lin
I have a review of Tao Lin’s book of stories Bed in the current Stranger. I have been trying to write 250 or less word reviews (as per instruction) and this is the first one. I hope to have more soon. I will I hope perfect, one day, this size of review. This review isn’t there, I admit. I admire Robert Christgau‘s brevity but music I think lends itself more directly to a kind of consumer evaluation. I can’t bring myself to do this with books and I don’t think it works as well anyway. Ideally a review, I think, provides a point for an entrance for an interested reader (and not everyone may be interested) to join in the conversation generated by the author. Tao Lin I think encourages a conversation about being a writer in the context of the internet. His books aren’t purely incidental to this, but they do feel at this point ancillary to the main action. Tao Lin will be reading at The Elliott Bay Book Company at 7:30 on Tuesday (7/31) next week and 7:00 at the UW Bookstore on Wednesday (8/1).

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Unanswered Messages

Before the list [of the dead] was released, Lamir Buzzanelli said his 41-year-old son, Claudemir, an engineer, had called him from Porto Alegre to say he was in the plane and about to return from a business trip.

“My hopes are not too high because I’ve been calling him on his cell phone, and all I get is his voice mail,” Buzzanelli said, his eyes tearing up. — The Associated Press

Presence (or lack of presence) is no longer indicated by life in the physical body (or lack of life in the physical body) but rather the ability of the network to respond to a query. I am here because if you e-mail me I will respond. If I do not respond–

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Theodore Roethke at ACT, a Video Ad for the August Readings

I’m going to be reading something about Theodore Roethke in relation to David Wagoner’s play "First Class." In August ACT will mount the play. After the play there will be an hour or so of cabaret performances with poetry, wine, and music.

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Kathryn Trueblood reading at Elliott Bay from The Baby Lottery

Kathryn Trueblood is reading from her new book, The Baby Lottery tonight at the Elliott Bay Book Company (7:30 p.m. free). A long review appeared in today’s Seattle PI:

That is definitely not the case with the auspicious debut by Kathryn Trueblood of Bellingham. Trueblood’s “The Baby Lottery” courses with the messy complexity of real life. And what makes that accomplishment all the more remarkable is how she manages that in a slim novel that runs only 249 pages, yet also provides well-realized portraits of five major female characters.

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Have You Seen This Man?

Willie SmithDogmatika posted this police sketch of Willie Smith. Actually it is by Willie’s wife, but there is a “Have you seen this man?” quality to the portrait. They’ve also posted some of his stories. “When I grow up I want to be a big Willie,” writes Paul Kavanagh. There is also a story by Justin Dobbs.

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Gary Lutz – Partial List of People to Bleach

Gary Lutz Partial List of People to Bleach Future Tense BooksFuture Tense Books has published a new book by Gary Lutz called a Partial List of People to Bleach. The cover is by Derek White of Calamari Press/Sleeping Fish.

In January of 2004, I somehow convinced Gary Lutz to come to Seattle to give a short workshop and reading. I had unused air miles. Lutz was willing to fly, although over email and then the phone he expressed his dismay at the idea of air travel. But something about Seattle was appealing to him. Diana George first recommend him to me and I had to track down his book which was out of print, then. It had been published in 1996 by Alfred A. Knopf along with several other soon to be hard to find, but influential books: The Age of Wire String by Ben Marcus and Diane Williams’ The Supefaction. All were edited by Gordon Lish in his final years at Knopf. Diana G. eventually wrote a review of Lutz’s first book when it was reissued by 3rd Bed.

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