Category Archives: Digging Lately

Links: In sickness and in health

“Now That Books Mean Nothing”: 31-year-old author Nell Boeschenstein reflects on literature and her double mastectomy

NPR interview with Louis C.K.: “You find yourself in front of a room of wounded veterans, and they just want to have fun. They want to see you go crazy. So every time I did these shows, I would start polite, and then I would maybe test the waters with one something dirty, and they would go crazy. And I’m looking at a bunch of guys who want relief, who want to laugh.”

Cannibalistic polar bear

Paris Review interview with Gary Lutz

Lizard playing video games

“How I Became a Best-Selling Author”

Christopher Hitchens on suffering: “So far, I have decided to take whatever my disease can throw at me, and to stay combative even while taking the measure of my inevitable decline. I repeat, this is no more than what a healthy person has to do in slower motion. It is our common fate.”

Fairy porn for neurotic geniuses

Tonight my sister-in-law JT sent me a link to Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creativity, and when I got done cyber-stalking an author I’m jealous of and then messing around on Facebook, I gave it a listen. Gilbert proposes that instead of thinking of  ourselves as island artists who are solely responsible for our work, we should envision creative spirits who flit in and out, periodically inspiring us. Maybe true genius isn’t interior, but exterior. In ancient Greece, when a daemon visited a writer in the night, he took some of the heat off the writer’s sensitive ego. Whether the finished product turned out brilliant or embarrassing, the writer himself was only an accessory to the creative act. To quote Liz Gilbert, your original work is accomplished not by you alone, but also by “the divine cockeyed genius assigned to your case.”

Because I just finished Betsy Lerner’s book The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers, the emotional fragility of the average artist has been on my mind. The more neurotic I feel and the more erratic my sense of self-worth, the more I want to rebel against these stereotypical character traits. In Lerner’s book (which I loved, by the way), authors are delicate creatures who frequently need to be coddled and reassured. But according to Gilbert, if we could just reconceptualize our creative bursts of energy as generous fairies who fly in and out of our windows to feed us clever lines and plot points, we wouldn’t be such unrelenting egomaniacs. Sounds good to me!

Although my fairies are stupider and have a weaker vocabulary than most peoples’, I am still hopeful that I can bribe them with the spare change I keep next to my computer. But where do my fairies get their ideas? Maybe there’s another whole tier of fairies, higher-up fairies, who hate my fairies because they’re ugly and dumb, and so the dominant fairies stopped talking to them in middle school and refuse to share any of the hot brainstorms going around. So with or without fairies, I am basically screwed. If the devil stopped whispering in my ear every five minutes, I’d be completely out of the writing game.

Originally I wanted to blog tonight about Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s pornography article in The Atlantic, and to congratulate my friend Lang Fisher on the success of The Onion’s new show, but now Jesus is telling me to get in bed with my husband. Sweet dreams.

Unloading some sweet links

Stuff White People Do (as distinguished from SWP Like) is a thoughtful blog about racial behavior in America. This isn’t really indicative of most of the posts, but read this former slave’s response to his ex-master’s request that he return to the plantation in Tennessee:

I served you faithfully for thirty-two years and Mandy twenty years. At $25 a month for me, and $2 a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to $11,680. Add to this the interest for the time our wages has been kept back and deduct what you paid for our clothing and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to.

Heavypetting shows the horrified pets captured on camera while their owners shoot amateur porn videos from their living rooms. All but the human silhouettes are blocked out, so the site is technically SFW. Unless you can identify the silhouette of a penis.

I prance around the internet in gold high heels. It’s hard to say goodbye to Caite White’s “Brick Watch!” blog on C-Ville.com.

Homeless soccer team wins its first match at Chelsea Piers.

Waldo Jaquith schools Mark Penn for alleging that 1.7 million bloggers profit from their work.

Horses with hair extensions.

Maria Robinson writes about the future of sex. Apparently we’re all going blind.

I keep finding myself telling people about this at parties, so here is the proof that a 5cm fir tree grew in a 28-year-old Russian man’s lung. Perhaps now I can come up with something new to talk about after a couple drinks.

Disturbing Strokes:

Lit stuff:

James Wood on Ian McEwan.

Elaine Showalter on the literary tradition of women.

“Men are terrible” interview with Martin Amis.

Thoughts on the publication of David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon commencement address.

“End the University as We Know It” NYTimes op-ed.

AV Club interview with Bret Easton Ellis.

UVA’s Mark Edmundson promotes non-directed readings in college English classes.

Review of Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor.

Whites are mostly offstage too, but for these characters, as for many blacks in the upper middle class, there’s a constant worry about the white gaze. “You didn’t, for example, walk down Main Street with a watermelon under your arm. Even if you had a pretty good reason. Like, you were going to a potluck and each person had to bring an item and your item just happened to be a watermelon, luck of the draw, and you wrote this on a sign so everyone would understand the context, and as you walked down Main Street you held the sign in one hand and the explained watermelon in the other, all casual, perhaps nodding between the watermelon and the sign for extra emphasis if you made eye contact. This would not happen. We were on display.”

Sorry for the NYTimes-heavy links. I don’t get out much, I guess.

Lately I’ve been unloading most of my sweet links on Twitter, so follow me (onestarwatt) if you want the goods more often.

The Ten movie for the win!

I just found out what a bunch of funny people were doing between roughly January 2006 and the 21st of August, 2008, when their movie was finally released on DVD in Russia: filming The Ten! Written and directed by David Wain, The Ten features Paul Rudd, Liev Shreiber, Thomas Lennon, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino (Wet Hot American Summer reunion!), Famke Jannsen, Jason Sudeikis, Jon Hamm, Michael Ian Black, Rashida Jones, and a bunch of other people who aren’t even credited on IMDB because the cast is so phenomenally large. And yes, I acknowledge that you played a part in the movie too, Winona Ryder. Anyway I had to browse the Netflix “Watch Instantly” comedy titles for an hour (big Wednesday!) to even chance upon the film. I’d never heard of it before tonight. And it earned 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, so you already know it’s good without my having to tell you. Look, I’m not a film critic; I’m just explaining to you what I like.

If you have a Netflix account, you can watch the movie online right this minute.

Oh yeah, and I’m really, really baked from smoking woozies all day. Just kidding. Trying to cover my tracks in case no one likes my recommendation.

P.S. Paul Rudd makes out with Jessica Alba in this movie.

The Jackson 5 are no longer my friends and business associates

A Nigerian monument to slavery/casino resort/museum of Jackson 5 memorabilia sounds like a great idea to people who are sarcastic for a living.

“Money-making and historical memory are allies in the extension of capitalism. You cry with one eye and wipe it off with cold beer, leaving the other eye open for gambling,” [said Toyin Falola].

The new and improved Simpsons couch is my favorite character on TV.

As an avid follower of trends, this would’ve been a good thing to know before I said yes. Just kidding, sweetheart!

Marriage couldn’t be more unattractive – the number of us getting hitched has slumped to the lowest level since records began, 150 years ago. By next year, it’s predicted that singletons will be in the majority.

Brothers and sisters should collaborate on storytelling more often. Read “The French Underpants” by Hal White and “The French Underpants Part Deux” by Celeste White in The Hot Air Quarterly (PDF).

You’ve read my brother Hal’s tale of the errant French underpants. This is mine: . . .

My current favorite book website: Book Beast. (Thanks to Cat Woman, my current favorite commenter, for the link.)

Portrait of the artist (and the chicken) as a young woman/young chicken.

If you’re wondering why your favorite bar smells like dirty diapers, wonder no longer:

All across the country, Baby Loves Disco is slowly but surely transforming the hippest night clubs into child proof discos as toddlers, pre-schoolers and parents looking for a break from the routine playground circuit let loose for some post naptime, pre-dinner fun.

Congratulations to my friendly correspondent Charles McLeod whose books are being published in the middle of an acquisition freeze! I will now hand the publishing crisis over to him. Good luck, soldier.

Crap in space is terrifying to me. One word: fireball. And I have to fly on Friday! As if planes don’t scare me enough.

I was actually thinking about this article this morning as I drove around listening to the significant hole in my muffler expand. Although I have over 100,000 miles on my odometer, I am comforted by knowing that my self-esteem must equally be soaring.

“By the time children reach early adolescence, and experience a decline in self-esteem, the stage is set for the use of material possessions as a coping strategy for feelings of low self-worth,” [say researchers]. . . . The paradox that findings such as these bring up, is that consumerism is good for the economy [and for the fight against terrorism! -ed.] but bad for the individual.

Salman Rushdie’s new girlfriend sure is chatty. Sigh. When am I going to get my chance?

It is 18 months since his much-publicised break-up from his most recent wife, TV hostess Padma Lakshmi. Mocked because Padma, 38, looked young enough to be his daughter and was an inch taller than him, Rushdie has now chosen a woman who is even younger and taller – and eccentrically extrovert to boot.

This article about having babies is depressing. Ladies, please don’t hate me for linking to it. My four-year-old niece (niece-in-law?) wants to “poop out” some babies right now. She and her friends sometimes play “pregnant 16-year-olds.” Maybe she’s on the right track.

The hourglass turns upside down at 30. If you get one in at 34, you’re probably not going to have another. If you are happily married at 30 you are most likely going to get 2 in but know that you JUST made it under the wire. That means you have to stop fucking around and start to care who you’re fucking right after 25.

It’s like Candace Bushnell quit writing chick lit and began pursuing a degree in apocalyptic biology.

Link corral (bookmark spring-cleaning)

The New York Times shows us 25 ways to impress others on Facebook.

How to exalt your achievements while appearing humble? How to convey your essential originality while coming off as reassuringly familiar? How to illuminate without oversharing?

Stop apologizing for your perfect breasts. Nobody’s listening because they’re too focused on your perfect breasts.

For the Charlottesville people: The Parking Lot Movie is finally here.

I Bang the Worst Dudes recently changed its URL to www.sorry-mom.com. I must have accidentally let the domain expire after high school.

The author of this article about male lesbian sexual fantasies has obviously never attended a slasher convention.

I like this lady even though she writes for USA Today: 25 Great High-School Books.

I now feel the need to support other peoples’ weird animal photos.

Before the octuplet mom, there was Josef Mengele’s “twin town” in Brazil. If you’re wondering what these stories have in common, the answer is tainted babies.

Surprisingly endearing interview with the author of Stuff White People Like:

CNN: Where do you get your ideas?

Christian Lander: Farmers’ markets.

. . .

CNN: What are some of the things that have been rejected from the list?

Lander: The one I reject a lot is people say, “Well, you know what, ‘Stuff White People Like’ should be on the list of ‘Stuff White People Like.’ ” I’m just like, “All right, postmodern hero, you’re not the first person to send this in. I’m not putting it on the list.”

Bhutan banned smoking. But the country still lights up after a rice wine bender with Tibet. Whaa? I just turned into Jay Leno all of a sudden.

This page is the Las Vegas slot machine version of the internet.

I know the whole hipster debate is over, but let this list be its swan song.

All Top online newspaper only compiles feel-good news from around the world.

Carolyn Hax just schooled somebody.

Abusing spoiled rich people is the easy thing to do, so I’ll take the sympathy route.

Now your kidney has chlamydia.

Full online documentary about Second Life love affairs.

Weekend newsprint warriors:

More people need to review cold novelty beverages for a living.

He is why my single girlfriends (and my mother) want me to attend grad school in New York City.

Face calling

Now that I have a new computer and Gmail offers free video chat, my face can call your face. Our faces can literally communicate back and forth through cyberspace. I’m talking about Cyber Space Face. I’m talking about Future Stuff. Who invented this Cyber Space Face Future Stuff? And what was I doing while they invented it? Changing light bulbs? Handwashing hosiery? Writing “2007” on checks?

I’m so amazed by this new technology that I won’t even complain about the obvious disadvantages: 1) being caught in my loungewear; 2) discovering what my face looks like when it’s talking; 3) taking ten giant steps backwards in document-sharing technology (now I just hold papers up to the webcam).

Whoever revolutionized (and sort of invaded) my life with thrilling Robot Face Science, thank you. You are light years ahead of my couch car fueled by white wine and pajama bottoms.

Scientific American is on a roll

Scientific American always tells it to me straight. Three studies to quote at your next dinner party:

Never Say Die: Why We Can’t Imagine Death

The Science of Gossip: Why We Can’t Stop Ourselves

Political Science: What Being Neat or Messy Says about Political Leanings

“George W. Bush was a much better pilot.”

Sometimes I just have to love Rolling Stone Magazine. It’s so unabashedly biased in its political views. Gone are the days when David Foster Wallace could express his moral ambivalence about the McCain 2000 ticket in RS. In this election the magazine is clearly taking sides. But so are the rest of us. Which is why I’m reading Rolling Stone online instead of Right Wing Rock Quarterly or Preaching to the Other Choir Dispatch.

I devoured Rolling Stone’sMake-Believe Maverick” by Tim Dickinson and its sister article “Mad Dog Palin” by Matt Taibbi with the same delight I usually reserve for reading scathing book reviews (even if I liked the book!).

“McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man,” [Lieutenant Colonel John] Dramesi says today. “But he’s still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in.” –Dickinson

Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation. –Taibbi

This is entertaining stuff. And isn’t that what journalism is all about? Making me giggle?

When I’m not crying?

The $400 bra (not accounting for inflation)

Heard this epic bra story on NPR this morning. Fell in love with Ms. Betty Jenkins of Cincinnati, Ohio. Promised myself I wouldn’t wear plutonium push-up bra on flight to Portugal.