July 19th, 2007


read a book, read a book, read a muthafuckin book

Been reading much on commute. Am in love with Strand Bookstore near work--like the bastard lovechild of a municipal public library and Amazon.com. Strand is to Barnes and Noble what Trader Joe's is to 7-Eleven. While 95% of the bookstores I've been to have front windows crammed with the likes of Ann Coulter, Al Franken, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, and a slew of shopping-and-fucking chick lit authors whose names I can't be bothered to remember, Strand caters to people who actually enjoy reading. The atmosphere is more akin to a public library than a coffeehouse, and though you'll have no trouble finding the kind of book that publishers wouldn't dare sell without a foil-print cover and the author's name embossed in forty-eight point font*, you're just as likely to come upon the ratty old work of genius that some creative writing MFA starved herself to death writing in 1976. Sweet, sweet validation.

Strand really isn't kidding when it says it has eighteen miles of books, and when it runs out of shelf space the staff just sets up a new bargain bin (there were about a dozen of them last I went) and dumps all the old books in there. All books go for market price instead of cover price, meaning you can get a hardcover copy of Jonathan Strange and Doctor Norell for less than ten dollars. (Prices for hardcovers are, in particular, extremely good.) Also, the staff personally reviews new titles, and provides semi-detailed, hand-written recommendations on index cards posted across the shop, making it a great place for people like me who never know what to get. These recommendations, while generally positive, are candid and surprisingly honest. A sign in a bin of mostly Murakami hardbacks, surrounded by smaller signs reviewing "After Dark" and "Sputnik Sweetheart", screams exasperatedly, "HERE ENDS THE MURAKAMI MILE!!" (Alas, they did not have The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.)

Currently I'm reading Carrie Fisher's Postcards from the Edge. Funniest crack addiction novel ever. That's not a hard title to shoot for--it's like "funniest genocide novel ever"--but it's been about twenty years since that book was published and I don't think anyone's even come close to claiming that title from her. I am seriously impressed. Fisher may be best known for playing Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, but she can more than hold her own as a writer. She plays to her strengths--lots of monologue, lots of character writing. Short chapters. Motivation. Actresses, you know--no one knows characters better than actresses. I could expound on her artful wordplay for pages, but instead I leave you an excerpt:
This is hard--I feel like I've got bugs flying around inside of me. I called my friend Wallis today, and I tried to get the operator to say, "Collect call from hell, will you accept the charges?"

After not feeling anything for years, I'm having this Feeling Festival. The medication wears off and the feelings just fall on you. And they're not your basic fun feelings, either. These are the feelings you've been specifically avoiding--the ones you almost killed yourself to avoid. The ones that tell you you're sitting on the bottom of someone's shoe, and not even someone interesting.

I talked to my agent and ended up in tears, which is not my favorite presentation of myself. Crying to my agent. I tried very hard not to, but I didn't have a chance. I've used up all the Not Cry I was issued at birth. Now, it appears, it's crying time.

I talked to my mom briefly. I was afraid that she'd be mad at me for messing up the life she'd given me, but she was very nice. She said a great thing. I told her I was miserable here, and she said, "Well, you were happy as a child. I can prove it. I have films."

What went wrong between what she gave me and how I took it?

Ladies and gentlemen, Carrie Fisher! She writes like I blog, only she does it better. I'd love to meet her someday.

I've also been rereading American Purgatorio by John Haskell, which is still one of my favorite books ever. It doesn't get any less depressing the second time around. In fact, it's much more depressing now that I know what's going on. Have to flip through it in fits and starts, lest the despair eats me alive. Cthulhu f'tagn!

Woke up last morning feeling vile. It rained over the night, and the bedroom was covered in a layer of wet sticky film. Must be a leak in the walls--have to talk to landlord about that. Sat up. Retched. Whinging headache. Lay down in bed. Seized cell phone and called in sick. My first sick day ever. There goes about a hundred dollars of unpaid leave, give or take a couple sandwiches.

Note to self: throw out three-week-old vegetables, no matter how fresh they still look.

But I got writing done. :D

By the way, the title of this entry references this animated music video. I can't decide if it's racist or not. I will tell you, though, that it's one of the most effective PSAs I've ever seen.

* I am completely aware that, by Murphy's law, the first book I get published is probably going to be one of these. Sigh.
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jump your friends


Super Mario Bros. deathmatch. No, not Super Smash Bros. (though SSB and SSBM are an obvious inspiration). Super Mario Bros. deathmatch. You defeat other players by jumping on their heads. And throwing variously colored shells at them. And breaking blocks from underneath them. And it controls just like the old NES game!

It's a concept everyone who's ever owned an NES has thought of before. But is it actually fun?

Yes. Yes it is. Very. And it's free. Go play. Go play now.
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