Friday, January 19, 2007

RE: Fast/Slow Writing

Oh, shut up.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

First Time I'd Seen Him Smile In Years

George Jones speaks.

AP: "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is considered one of the greatest country songs of all time. Why do you think that song was so special?

Jones: It may sound corny, but all my life I've wanted to write exactly that song, or I've hunted for it. I wanted to hear a song or write a song about how you could express your greatest love for someone. Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam brought it over that day and that was the first thing I thought of-—"That's the song I've been looking for."

AP: What do you think about the state of country music today?

Jones: They say they're upgrading country music. I tell them they need to find a new title and let us have back our traditional country music. They've stolen our identity. I don't feel like the real thing will be back for quite a while. I'd like to see new artists recording traditional country music. Not for me. I just hate to see it not heard. I hate to see the new country artists not doing their thing because they're told what to do nowadays.

If you've never heard George, you're missing out on one of the greatest voices in all of music. The song referenced above, "He Stopped Loving Her Today," is gorgeously sad and heartfelt. You ought to give it a listen. And, of course, he's also a famous drunk, once widely known as "No-Show Jones" for his propensity for missing tour dates while on a binge:

AP: Is it true that you once took off on a riding mower to get a drink?

Jones: It happened in east Texas when I was married to my boy's mother, Shirley (his second of four wives, the former Shirley Ann Corlea). I had been on about a two-week binge. I came home and naturally nobody was there. All my vehicles were gone and the big tractor was gone. I couldn't find a thing that looked like wheels. It was a Sunday morning and I'm dying, you know. I am hurtin' and I need a drink bad. Finally, after I half-a-day suffered, I finally looked out my bedroom window and I saw this little Cub Cadet sitting there, a little 10 horsepower. I said, "There ain't no key in there. Surely they took that out." I went out there and sure enough the key was in it and it kicked right on. I headed to town as far as I could go on it.

More Cortázar, Because I Can't Believe How Awesome This Book Is

Of course, the arguments have absolutely nothing to do with swallows, as anyone who understands the language of the two Tartars can testify.

"Of all the people I know, you are the biggest cronk," Calac says.

"And you are the biggest pettifor," Polanco says. "You call me a cronk, sir, but it's obvious that you've never boneyed your face in a mirror."

"What you're trying to do is start a fight with me, mister," Calac says.

The two boney each other with a fearful mulgh. Then Polanco takes out a piece of chalk and draws a zott on the floor.

"You are the biggest cronk," Calac says.

"And you're the biggest pettifor," Polanco says.

Calac bulls the zott with the sole of his shoe. They seem to be at the point of maphing each other.

"You're the biggest cronk," Calac says.

"And you're the biggest pettifor," says Polanco.

"What you're trying to do is start a fight with me," Calac says.

"You bulled my zott," says Polanco.

"I bulled it because you nicked me as a pettifor."

"And I nick you again, if that's what we've come to."

"Because you're a cronk," Calac says.

"A cronk is a lot better than a pettifor," Polanco says.

Polanco takes a terfulgh from his pocket and sticks it on Calac, who doesn't remune.

"Now you're going to reboy me for saying I'm a cronk," Polanco says.

"I'll reboy you for anything you want and I'll bull any zott you have," Calac says.

"Then I maphe you with this trefulgh in the mondong."

"And you'll still be a cronk."

"And you a poor little pettifor."

"And for a cronk like you every zott will be bulled, even if you pull a trefulgh with six stars."

"I maphe this trefulgh on you," says Polanco, who boneys it very tight. "Nobody bulls my zott or goes around nicking me for a cronk."

"The blame for what happens will be yours because you nicked me first," Calac says.

"You nicked me first," Polanco says. "Then I counternicked as you deserved and you bulled my zott and reboyed me by saying I'm a cronk."

"I reboyed you because you boneyed me first."

"And you, why did you bull my zott?"

"I bulled it because you were boneying me in an ugly way. No pettifor boneys me even if he pulls a trefulgh on me."

"All right, all right," Juan says. "It's getting like a session at the disarmament conference in Geneva, I can tell you from first hand."

"Didn't you ever maphe that trefulgh?" asks my paredros, who always acts if he knows what's going on.

"Watch out," Polanco says. "Put it so that it will rust on me later with all it's cost me to keep it in shape. Arms are a delicate matter, you know."

"My chest will be silver sheath which that filthy thing doesn't deserve," Calac says, "Go on, put it back in your pocket, because what you like the best is the fuzzy kind."

- 62: A Model Kit,
Julio Cortázar, tr. Gregory Rabassa

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Laminate THIS!*

Last night an old guy yelled at me to zip up my jacket. He sounded angry. "Zip your jacket!" he said as he walked past. "What?" I asked him. "Zip up, it's cold!" he said. He was right. It's finally cold here, which sucks but we all knew it would happen eventually. Except for a couple of weeks right away in November this has been the wimpiest winter I can recall. My attitude is, you had your chance, now just get back in the corner until Spring gets here. Too bad the weather never listens to me.

This baby sloth video is mostly for Richard, but it's OK for the rest of you to watch it.

These Swedish librarians, on the other hand, are for me and me alone.

Steve Gerber--creator of Howard the Duck, Thundarr the Barbarian, and many weird/awesome comics stories of the '70s (including some in the Essential Defenders Volume 2, which I just finished), and writer of the upcoming Dr. Fate series for DC, has a blog.

In case you missed it, there's a new excerpt up at the Secret City set.

That's it. Stay warm.

*Title has nothing to do with anything other than work annoyance.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Our Lady

Our Lady
Originally uploaded by Snurri.
"In the wake of the Exile there has been a surge in religious interest in the city, but little of it is what might be considered Orthodox. There are the Swimmers, a death-cult which--despite the mayor's best efforts--holds periodic pilgrimages into the depths of Gerber Lake. As the lake is known to be infested with various unpleasant creatures, and bounded by the same odd substance which rings the city's outer limits, few survive these moonlight swims. . . . Another, more harmless sect is the Church of Lewis and Clark, named for their patron saints. Not the explorers, but the coincidentally-named pilot and cameraman of the Channel 8 chopper, which was lost in an attempt to explore the upper bounds of the Exile. Adherents believe that their patron saints managed to escape to the World, and will one day soon bring rescue. Even the evidence recently returned by one of the Meteorological Society's weather balloons, of the chopper suspended by its rotors in the amber shell that holds the city captive, has not been enough to convince many believers of their folly. . . . Perhaps most intriguing, and unsettling to some, has been the growth of the cult of Our Lady. Not a church per se, this faith has grown up around reports of the nocturnal manifestations of a female spirit wearing a white gown and a surgical mask. Her appearances are nearly impossible to verify, as she only appears to solitary observers. Late-night walkers (an activity not recommended in most areas of the city) encounter her at intersections. Single persons find her standing in their bedrooms. Survivors (and sometimes perpetrators) of violent crimes come upon her in alleys or abandoned buildings. Her age seems dependent on the hour; she has appeared as a young girl, an old woman, and ages between. (For more on the characteristics of individual manifestations, see F. Lacy's volume on post-Exile hauntings.) . . . Typically, the spirit weeps throughout encounters. She does not speak, although some witnesses have reported hearing messages from her. (There is no consistency to the messages, which vary from warnings of impending danger to suggestions for household purchases.) Were it not for the frequency of these sightings, it is doubtful that the spirit would have attained the notoriety that she has. Some speculate that she is a psychic manifestation of the city's sufferings and anxieties; others believe that she is its patron goddess, and will be able to reverse the Exile if all of her admonitions are followed. . . . The spirit always disappears in a flash of light, leaving only her mask behind. Most witnesses keep the masks; some wear them, and some make them the centerpieces of homemade altars. Though some report a lasting feeling of contentment following a visitation, others say that the euphoria soon fades, leaving in its place a familiar uncertainty." (p.210-213)