I wrote down everything I read and began writing my own first novel...

This blog aimed to contrast what I was reading in in 1975-79 with the same month, week and day, 30 years later in 2005-2009. I'm leaving the blog up in archive mode, blogging in real time on Live Journal--and still writing novels.

Lynne Murray's Live Journal and Bride of the Dead Blog

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Backstage at strips…and with strippers…

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday--whatever yours might be. I like the Buddhist idea of starting fresh with the new year--paying bills by year-end, pre-spring housecleaning, etc. A Buddhist friend pointed out that you could (and we probably should) start out fresh every day of the year, but being humans we need to be reminded by having a day set out for the purpose. It certainly serves the purpose of allowing me to postpone the whole new start thing till next week when the actual new year arrives.

Nostalgia and holidays seem to go together, but I try to resist it by means of escaping into fiction, and more recently movies on DVDs. Thirty years ago I couldn't have imagined watching all the BBC dramatizations of Jane Austen's novels (advertised as 17 hours of Jane Austen!); now modern technology has made it easier to escape into the the past.

My holiday reading 30 years ago and this year provide some common themes, or maybe just strange bedfellows. "Backstage at the comic strips" in 1976 and backstage at strip clubs in 2006. Then there's the Alan Alda autobiography that includes fond memories of watching from the wings as his father performed in burlesque, singing while showgirls paraded onstage.

I do find it a little amusing that the one "literary" work on this list back in 1976 is the one I never managed to finish reading.

From December 11 to 23, 1976, I read:

Heroes, Joe McGinnis
I've read some of his other books, notably: The Selling of the President 1968 and Blind Faith, but I don't always connect them as being written by the same person…for what that's worth as an insight.Here's an article on him.

Backstage at the Strips, Mort Walker
One of the major motivations to learn to read for me was to be able to read the comic strips, including Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey, in the Sunday newspaper.

How It Was, Mary Hemingway
This 1961 Time Article
is actually a pretty comprehensive appreciation of Hemingway.

Turquoise Lament, John D. MacDonald

The Sentinel, Jeffrey Konvitz

Konvitz co-authored the screenplay as well (too scary for me, though the book wasn't quite so scary).


Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
My note is "Only got as far as page 67…" Oh, well, maybe one day...


From December 11 to 23, 2006, I read:

Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America, Lily Burana
Backstage at a whole different kind of strip, Lily Burana is taking a final strip odyssey across the US in order to come to terms with a five-year stretch stripping in her teens and twenties before getting married. Burana now lives in Wyoming and writes fiction as well as nonfiction.


Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned, Alan Alda
Interesting autobiography and insights from Alan Alda, who seems as genial and witty on paper as he is on film and video.

website

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Structural integrity in characters & character integrity in life

November 25 to December 10, 1976 I read:

Caution, Inflammable, Thomas N. Scortia
Short stories.
Thomas N. Scortia

Josh, My Up and Down, In and Out Life, Joshua Logan
What I now remember about this book was Logan's thoughtful discussion of his struggles with manic depression and how it both helped and hurt his art.
an appreciation

However, my note to myself on reading the book was more structural:

Interesting point: Maxwell Anderson's definition of enduring drama--a hero must learn his own fatal flaw and grows in the process.
And--
Logan's def. of farce as desperation of characters over a misunderstanding or problem that is tragic to them, ridiculous to the audience. The characters' mounting desperation captures the attention and makes the farce "move rapidly."


November 25 to December 10, 2006 I read:

Don't Weight: Eat Healthy and Get Moving Now!, Kelly Bliss

I wouldn't have bought this book if I hadn't read Kelly Bliss's website. I was curious to hear the rest of her story. But I'm glad I did. In 1980, long before Jennifer Portnick's discrimination case against Jazzercise, detailed in an interview here, Kelly Bliss was encountering blatant prejudice against instructors, however fit and talented. At 5 feet tall and 127 pounds, she was frankly told that she could not be hired, despite her excellent qualifications, because she did not fit their company image of an extremely thin instructor. The suggestions the interviewer made were identical to the advice Bliss had received years earlier that had sent her into an eating disorder.

She responded first of all by tell the interviewer just what kind of damage she was doing by handing out such advice(go Kelly!), then she went out to start her own classes, offering low impact exercise at a time when it was rarely offered. She made such a success of this business that she was about to start her own studio in 1991, when a traffic accident left her with a seizure disorder and she had to begin again. Just coming back from that kind of injury is impressive, but she gained the wisdom from the experience to reach out to others in new ways. Bliss's accomplishments in mentoring and inspiring others are very healing just to read about. Few people offer such a contagiously positive attitude. Her creative problem solving approaches to fitness for people of all sizes and levels of ability totally charmed me.

Touch the Dark, Karen Chance

This book raised a question for me--at what point do I put down a book that has a fat joke or jokes. Sometimes, as in the case of several of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, I will read the whole book despite long, painful scenes of blatant fat bigotry, simply because the author is an irresistible storyteller. In this case, when the evil master vampire is described as "a soccer ball with legs" I realized that the author was trying to whip up the reader's negative emotions by describing the villain as disgustingly fat. Mission accomplished. Negative emotions whipped up.

I was only on p. 43. Maybe there were other fat jokes, or just the usual horny paranormal critters with flat stomachs. The author did bring out disgust in me, and hadn't hooked me hard enough with her storytelling to keep me reading. So I decided I'd hit a good stopping place and put the book down with no interest in picking it up again.


Anybody Out There?: A Novel, Marian Keyes

I have read most of Marian Keyes books with great pleasure and this was no exception. Part of her skill here is to keep suspense high simply by slowly revealing why and how the heroine sustained her serious physical injuries and what is behind her emotional pain, and then, once that is revealed unfolding how she copes with it.

Dead Man Rising, A Dante Valentine Novel, Lilith Saintcrow
In this second in the series, heroine and Necromance, Dante, doesn't actually go visit hell and accept an assignment from the Prince of Darkness as she did in Working for the Devil, but the plot is equally dramatic. I enjoyed it.
A detailed review.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Triskaidekaphilia

Because both of our parents were from the Midwest, my brother and I heard a lot of G-rated swear words when growing up. One of my favorites my father used was "Triskaidekaphobia" which means fear of the number 13. The wikipedia page on this was fun, because it introduced me to the word friggatriskaidekaphobia, which sounds like something Sylvester The Cat might mutter when really perturbed.

Evidently there is at least one person who loves the number. I'm neutral on the actual number 13, but I really loved the book I read this past week The Thirteenth Tale (see below).

November 12 to 24, 1976 I read:

Bring on the Empty Horses, David Niven
I recall this as a charming and amusing book.
one Niven site.

Change Lobsters and Dance, Lili Palmer
I couldn't find much about Lili Palmer online until I looked for Rex Harrison and Lili Palmer. Being married to Harrison seems to have captured more public attention than her acting, which is generally held to be excellent, though she never became a star of the same magnitude. If this link works, here's a lovely picture of her.

Palmer tells the story that Harrison (then known as "Sexy Rexy" for his philandering ways) asked for a divorce so as to marry Kay Kendall, who was dying--the idea being that he would remarry Palmer afterward. That story sounds like the plot of an old-style "weepy" movie, and it's a little hard to believe. They divorced, Harrison married Kendall, who did die a few years later. Harrison and Palmer did not get back to together. Did anyone really think that would happen? Maybe so. People say and do equally as weird things around relationships and give equally as bizarre explanations every day of the week. In this case all three parties were actors, who dealt spent a great deal of their lives creating illusions. Perhaps they exercised the famous "suspension of disbelief."

Those Who Can, R. S. Wilson, Ed.
No memory of this book.

November 12 to 24, 2006 I read:

Speaking of believing things, sifting truth out from smoke and mirrors, that's a major theme in the book that I liked so much....

The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
This book captured very well the hypnotic power of stories--the quote on the back gives its flavor:

My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie. Vida Winter.
in The Thirteenth Tale


I think it’s something closer kin to dreams rather than lies that stories tell. But part of the art of story telling is in the difference between those two words. "Lies" is a word with a stinging hook in it, while "dreams" is a sweet and sappy word, without enough of a barb in it to snare you in to hear the tale. The quest for the truth among thickets of seductive stories is the theme of this book. The hidden secrets of a reclusive novelist are gradually revealed in the story she needs to tell, but can hardly bring herself to utter. The story needs to be drawn out of her by the narrator, a young woman who has her own ghosts to exorcise in the process. It doesn't get better than this book.


Gil's All Fright Diner, A. Lee Martinez

This book has the dubious distinction of being the first one I've ever posted a negative review about on amazon.com. I got very angry when a book that looked like silly fantasy fun suddenly started dripping authorial venom on one of its characters--a fat woman. The first 14 pages introduced the heroes, Duke and Earl, a grubby werewolf and vampire--seedy vagabonds who wander into Gil's All Night Diner. At that point the author throws in several sneering paragraphs of contemptuous description of the fat woman who owns of the diner.

This woman treats the down-on-their-luck guys very decently, offering them work, food and a place to stay. Then on p, 47 (also known as where I stopped reading), the diner owner tries, in a hesitant way, to seduce the seedy werewolf "hero" who turns away. The author then provides a detailed interior monologue--four pages worth!--of the hero's revulsion at being offered such an unappetizing body, culminating in the werewolf's self-loathing for being the kind of male (one can hardly say "man") who only attracts such a "fat/ugly" women. Let me just say, as I did on Amazon and have elsewhere, that I think telling fat jokes is simply another manifestation of the same prejudice that was reinforced when in-group solidarity was affirmed by telling jokes targeting racial minorities, women, gays and Jews. The assumption was that the targets of these jokes would never be in the audience to hear them. The purpose of the joke was to unite "us" against "them." When it comes to fat jokes in a book, I am the "them" being targeted, and it makes me sick to pay money to be insulted.

I won't comment on the fate of this particular copy of the book, except to say that it won't be spitting venom at any other fat readers--paper can be recycled.


Working for the Devil, Lilith Saintcrow

As if to offset the above disappointment, this author was definitely a happy discovery for me. Dante Valentine, her tough-minded, psychically gifted heroine, raises the dead for a living. This owes a debt to Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, etc. It's set in a gritty, Blade-Runner-with-Psychics-Unchained world. A world that has suffered an apocalyptic meltdown of religion and many of its institutions in the face of events that proved undeniable truth of the existence of supernatural entities. The first few scenes take the heroine literally to hell to accept a job to assassinate a demon for the Devil--the alternative being her own death and quite possible the end of human life. Definitely a high stakes game, and a well-told tale.

Saintcrow's cool web site

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Reading Thomas Harris without a helmet and other desperate acts

October 28 to November 12, 1976, I read:

Crime Prevention in the 30th Century, Hans Stefan Santesson, Ed.
Still around.

The Odd Couple, A comedy in Three Acts, Neil Simon
In those days I read a lot of plays. Neil Simon writes funny, even on the printed page.

The Subject Was Roses (A Play in Two Acts) , Frank Gilroy
This play won the Pulitzer Prize.

Marathon Man, William Goldman
Nobody does it better. No matter what "it" you're talking about.This is the book (and later the movie, the script for which Goldman also wrote) that set dentistry back a-ways.

Black Sunday, Thomas Harris
In this, his first novel, Harris demonstrated that he was/is a superb writer. It was his next, even better-written book, Red Dragon, that I wish I hadn't read. Worse yet, Harris is a slow writer, the book was reprinted, and I was half way through a second read before I realized I had been down this road once and I wasn't going to enjoy where it went. I finished it--I didn't say it was bad, just extremely disturbing.

After being traumatized by Red Dragon, I read The Silence of the Lambs some years later only because I was in a kind of death wish state. Others might ride motorcycles with no helmet--I read Thomas Harris, also without a helmet. I'm happy to say I have not got to the point since where I need to read any of Harris's others. At the end of The Silence of the Lambs, I could see that he had fallen for his villain and was revving up for a sequel and I personally was not crazy about making Hannibal the Cannibal the hero of the next book. Did you realize that if he'd named the character Norman, he would have had to be Norman the Mormon. I'm just saying is all…. It would have been a different book that's for sure.


October 28 to November 12, 2006 I read:

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1), Robin Hobb
Speaking of being in a kinder, gentler mood, this was a medieval-style fantasy world, with an apprentice assassin, who had a troubled origin and undeveloped occult powers. It was a page-turner without being bone-chilling. I rarely chill my bones these days unless it's totally inavoidable--just a lifestyle choice.
Robin Hobb's web page

The Other Side of the Story: A Novel, Marian Keyes
This author is one I particularly like, and I'm so persnickety about what I read nowadays that it's hard to predict what I will enjoy. This was a long book--like 600-plus pages, but the characters were all interesting and going through some difficult times, with humor and a satisfying resolution. I did find the various viewpoints a little jarring the first time the author suddenly switched focal characters. But it's the author's voice that makes Keyes books enjoyable to me, so I hung in with her.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wandering the web...with or without aim

October 22 to 27, 1976 I read:

Mom, the Flag & Apple Pie, ed of Esquire and others, particularly Gore Vidal, Gordon Parks, Marshall Brady, Andy Warhol, Jean Stafford, R. A. Arthur

Murder and Madness, D.T. Lunde
This book turned out to be a frequent re-read when I was writing mysteries some years later

The World of Jimmy Breslin, Jimmy Breslin
Didn’t finish this.

How to Talk to Practically Anybody about Practically Anything, Barbara Walters & friend
Would that it were that easy.


October 22 to 27, 2006, I didn't read any books at all.

I'm overhauling my web page--at long last. When I started talking to my web diva, Sue Trowbridge, about this, she pointed out that I do have a chatty little note in my bio along the lines of, "As I write this in 1998…" Eeek! The cute little tuxedo kitten sucking on my neck as I wrote that, has now grown up to be a compact adult cat, who…well, he's grown up enough to only drool a little and we've worked out a deal where he confines the claw-kneading/drooling to a towel around my neck. Unfortunately, every time I pick up a towel…

Anyway, I've been looking around to see how web pages are done in this millennium…

So I spent way too long trolling through the shallows of the net, looking for what I know not. They say that Truman Capote's last years were spent reading magazines when he coulda, shoulda been writing that unfinished book that offended so many people. I get the impression that alcohol involved in that case.

In this case, no alcohol--just the insidious lure of information. Wandering on the net, you can snare things you never expected, even as large segments of your life slip down a black hole never to be seen again.

I blame the New York Times online or maybe YouTube for the last episode. The NYT story on Weird Al Yankovich provided a link to YouTube's where Yankovich's parody of Star Wars was performed to the tune of American Pie.

As a totally word-obsessed sixties survivor I fixate on song lyrics the way more visual people fixate on album cover art. Weird Al's parody ensured that I woke up the next morning pondering, "Do you recall what was revealed the day the music died?"

Um, no, I don't recall it, because I never figured those lyrics out at all.

The folks at Don McLean's web page didn't seem to have figured them out totally either, but the effort to do so has evidently become a cottage industry, which is probably even better. On his web page I saw a link with something else I hadn't realized. As it says: "Don McLean is immortalized as the subject of the Roberta Flack/The Fugees No. 1 hit, Killing Me Softly With His Song." The link on that page takes us to a page explaining that this song was originally written for Lori Lieberman, inspired by a poem she wrote after watching Don McLean perform. Who knew?

"Who is Lori Lieberman?" you may ask--even as a sixties survivor. I asked. So I searched out her web page and found that she's been living the good life in LA and writing songs all this time, presumably having come to terms with the past

Lieberman has a new CD out and it was endorsed by Christine Lavin, another person I never heard of, but who sounded interesting when I looked her web page. I also loved the wonderful (free download) Stop Your Sobbing wherein the friends of a jilted person do the Happy Dance that she/he has gotten rid of the jerk they have hated for lo these many years. Certainly this song should be provided at a judicious moment to heartbroken people everywhere

song

And furthermore, Lavin has collaborated with many other artists on a CD (with cookbook!) of food songs entitled One Meatball…which just so happens to be the name my father gave my pet alligator, whom I remember fondly in a recent essay. (My father named the alligator that after the Andrews' Sisters hit song by that title, although most folksingers reference the Dave van Ronk version.)

album

This brings me back full circle, so here's where I had to stop.



<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/One-Meatball" rel="tag">One Meatball</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Christine+Lavin" rel="tag">Christine Lavin</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Weird+Al+Yankovich" rel="tag">Weird Al Yankovich</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lori+Lieberman" rel="tag">Lori Lieberman</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Roberta+Flack" rel="tag">Roberta Flack</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Killing+Me+Softly" rel="tag">Killing Me Softly"</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/30+Years+Ago+Today" rel="tag">30 Years Ago Today</a><br /><br />

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Crates full of genius, dream lives & fictional refuge--once more with links!

--somehow the links didn't come up, I hope they do this time! L

From October 9 to October 21, 1976 I read:

The Rest of the Robots, 8 Stories from Isaac Asimov
This was fun to read, I still remember Robopsychologist Dr. Susan Calvin
wikipedia.

The Clewiston Test, Kate Wilhelm
My note--mucho depressing feminist "attitude" study

The Silent Clowns, Walter Kerr

The Story of a Novel, Thomas Wolfe
this site shows a picture I particularly like of Wolfe standing with his foot propped up on "one of three crates containing the sprawling manuscripts for
Of Time and the River.

Yikes. I read all of Wolfe's books when I was a teenager, and he appealed to my enthusiasm and energy. I don't know if I could re-read him. Maybe. He's pretty much overflowing with lyrical stuff. Of course, he did die at the age of 38, so maybe he had to squeeze it all in.

I had to love the (probably untrue) story of editor Maxwell Perkins informing Wolfe that his book was now complete and getting the reply, "It is?" I probably wouldn't be so fond of that story if I hadn't absorbed the idea that it is somehow "better" to be a genius pouring out great quantities of prodigious manuscript. You write what you write. Legendary editors like Perkins aren't available for most of us poor slobs either. So we have to deal with it the best we can.

Such a Strange Lady, Janet Hitchman
Bio of Dorothy L. Sayers, my recollection is that it seemed like a very sad life--perhaps a motivator to create such a strong dream world in her fiction. this site has a more intimate picture than you usually see of her (though not as carefree as the one of Agatha Christie with her surfboard--I kid you not, there is such a picture!)

Shogun, trying to finish
I had thought I finished this earlier, but I guess I put it down and picked it up again. My note was: 10/17 = finished whew!


October 9 to October 21, 2006 I read:

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
This is an interesting book, and an exquisitely written one, as the evocative title suggests. But it's definitely not a fast read. The author is covering 17 years of living and teaching Western literature in her hometown of Tehran, as it slipped into the kind of totalitarianism where the works of Western fiction she was teaching about were viewed as dangerous. Eventually, to satisfy her need for uncensored educational experience, she began teaching a special class in her home for the more motivated female students. I finished the book at a leisurely pace, and was glad to have read it for the evocation of an unknown world as well as the insights on Nabokov, Henry James and Jane Austen as they relate to the condition of women who have been robbed of most of their civil rights due to a fundamentalist religious state.

One thing that made my interest level in the book rise and fall was the way it slipped back and forth in time. I identified enough with the author that I was relieved when she got out of Dodge, as it were, without getting arrested for teaching an illegal class, letting her veil slip or getting caught having a cup of coffee with a male colleague. Just reading about that degree of repression was claustrophobic, and hearing of the sad fate of so many people in the book saddened me. The author's powerful belief in the elevating effect of literature gave it a transcendent quality as well.
this site has an article by Nafisi.

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Asimov" rel="tag">Asimov</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Thomas+Wolfe" rel="tag">Thomas Wolfe</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Dorothy+L.+Sayers" rel="tag">Dorothy L. Sayers</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Janet+Hitchman " rel="tag">Janet Hitchman</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Azar+Nafisi" rel="tag">Azar Nafisi</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne <br /><br />Murray</a><br /><br /><br />

Sunday, October 08, 2006

yarnspinners and fun research

Just a quick update with more links than comments.

October 1 to October 8, 1976

The Man in the High Castle, Phillip K. Dick
a website maintained by the author's family.

The Quick Red Fox, John D. MacDonald
an appropriately nostalgic site

Colette, a Taste for Life, Yvonne Mitchell

The Super Crooks, A Rogue's Gallery of Famous Hustlers, Swindlers and Thieves, R.M. Williams


October 1 to October 8, 2006

Haunted Land: Investigations into Ancient Mysteries and Modern Day Phenomena, Paul Devereaux
This was research for me, to factual to be very juicy, but I found some possibly useful things.
web site

Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
Rereading a book I first read a few years ago. Just as good the second time.
website

Topper,, Thorne Smith
This was a re-issue with a great foreword by Carolyn See. Definitely humor from a byegone age. Smith's hero has something in common with the Thurber daydreaming guys who live in fear of women. For me, the movie (Cary Grant as a ghost, wow) and the television series with Leo G. Carroll evoke fond memories that the book didn't quite...
one site
also
and a critiquey site.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

still escaping after all these years

[Apologies about the wierd formats. Too late for me to figure out!] L

September 16 to 30, 1976 was a good time for biographies, a mixed bag of nonfiction
and escape into thrillers and political cartoons, I read:

Jack Lemmon, Don Widener

Sylvia Plath, Method and Madness, Edward Butscher
My note: a psycho-critique -naïve in the extreme, lovingly calling Plath "neurotic" and "manic depressive" as if synonyoms for "nervous" and "moody."

Oscar Wilde, Louis Kronenberger

Pumping Iron, Charles Gaines & George Butler
This was a book, not the film, but by the same people

Post-mortem, D.M. Spain, M.D. w/Janet Kale

For Money or Love, Robin Lloyd
I had to look this up to see that it was about homosexual boy prostitution. Not the same boys as the Boys from Brazil below, that was about Nazis coming out of hiding.

The Boys from Brazil, Ira Levin
Gotta love the Stephen King quote in Wikipedia calling Ira Levin "the Swiss watchmaker of suspense novels."

Speaking of Inalienable Rights, Amy, G. B. Trudeau


September 16 to 30, 2006, I took a pretty simple escape route into an alternate world, I read:

A Fistful of Charms, Kim Harrison.

More about Rachel Morgan, the witch and "runner" (essentially a paranormal private investigator in an alternate world where half of humanity has been decimated by genetically engineered "killer tomatoes" and the witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies & etc., & etc. are able to come out of the closet without fear of lynching, and live in an uneasy state of truce.

I love this interesting world Harrison has created, but I see symptoms of a syndrome that affected both Laurell K. Hamilton and Patricia Cornwell's heroines. I don't know how to describe the way the effect is created. It may be worth studying, but the upshot (for me anyway as a reader) seems to be that

(1) Almost everybody (except the bad guys) loves our heroine, who is markedly deficient in common sense on many occasions, but that's just part of her charm.

(2) people who used to be close to our heroine have now turned into "bad guys" and it's not our heroine's fault, she's just too much of a softie to realize that they aren't worth her time and/or they're just jealous of her.

I have no idea where these fictional quirks come from, but they took me out of the story and made me impatient with the characters (which I think was the opposite of the intended effect).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

T'ain't funny, McGee…or is it?

A short essay just posted on my web page was inspired by the recent death of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. I started thinking about the alligator in my life--My Pet Alligator. It's a true story. When I do a web page revamp in a month or so, I hope to post more short essays, and make a more prominent place for them.

I've been thinking about what people find funny. One young humor essayist posted a rejection he got from an editor who said essentially "humor is a knee-jerk reaction" and I agree with that. Humor is fragile and ephemeral and can get lost in translation or in time.

Oddly enough, the catch phrase "T'ain't funny, McGee" popped into my head. It's from the 1930s to '50s radio show Fibber McGee and Molly. (Lots more info on a great Wikipedia entry linked below.) I must have heard the radio show in its latter days in the 1950s because the famous closet-contents-pouring-out sound effect is burned into my memory. And it's still funny to me. Maybe because my closet is in a similar state--don't stand too near when you open the door. I love the burglar idea described below!

[N]one of the show's running gags was as memorable or enduring as The Closet---McGee's frequently opening and cacophonous closet, bric-a-brac clattering down and out and, often enough, over McGee's or Molly's heads. "I gotta get that closet cleaned out one of these days" was the usual McGee observation once the racket subsided. . . .

Exactly what tumbled out of McGee's closet each time was never exactly clear (except to the sound-effects man). But what ended the avalanche was always the same: a clear, tiny, household hand bell, and McGee's inevitable postmortem. Naturally, "one of these days" never arrived. A good thing, too, in one famous instance: when burglars tied up McGee, he informed them cannily that the family valuables were in The Closet. Naturally, the burglars took the bait. And, naturally, they were buried in the inevitable avalanche, long enough for the police to come and cuff them and stuff them.

Wikipedia entry.

The entertainment landscape, and the internet in particular are littered with would-be funny stuff, and that adds to the anxiety of those of us who try to write things that make people laugh. We spend a lot of time wondering if we're playing the Main Ballroom in the USS Titanic, while the real action is in the Lifeboat Lounge.


September 10 to 16, 1976, I read:


Hustling, Gail Sheehy
I liked this book, which was an investigative reporter's exploration of prostitution.

When I searched online, I found this quote from the book:

There is no more defiant denial of one man's ability to possess one woman exclusively than the prostitute who refuses to redeemed. (The quotation site where I found this didn't give exact details of book, page number, etc., but I'm guessing it's from Hustling rather than Passages)

If you look at Sheehy's website, you can see that her mega-bestseller Passages kind of put her into the "passages" business, and that word is used somewhere in the description of every one of the books listed on her site. I don't know if I've got Passages on my 1976 books read list--it was published that year, and for a long time I had trouble having a dialog with other women who kept citing chapters of it. I know I tried to read it, and I don't think I got far. I've got nothing against pop psychology but for some reason I couldn't get through that particular book. However, it seemed to have helped a lot of people feel good about themselves, which is good. Hustling isn't mentioned on her website, I personally think it shows diversity, but I guess it might alienate some who would enjoy all her other works.

The Brain Changers, Maya Pines
My note was: shuffled thru, clumsy, rather irritating read

Wasted: The Story of My Son's Drug Addiction, William Chapin
I remember this as a sad but powerful book. I hadn't realized it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize till I read the link below.
website

Modern Science Fiction, Norman Spinrad, Ed.

Science Fiction today and Tomorrow, Reginald Bretnor, Ed.


September 10 to 16, 2006 I read:

Thief of Time, Terry Pratchett

Thud, Terry Pratchett

Once again a Terry Pratchett orgy is coming to an end when the books run out. I know when I buy more I will be back on the Pratchett express to wherever he decides to go. No frequent flyer miles, alas!

<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Terry+Pratchett" rel="tag">Terry Pratchett</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/William+Chapin" rel="tag">William Chapin</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Gail+Sheehy" rel="tag">Gail Sheehy</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Maya+Pines" rel="tag">Maya Pines</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Fibber+McGee+and+Molly" rel="tag">Fibber McGee and Molly</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Steve+Irwin" rel="tag">Steve Irwin</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Crocodile" rel="tag">Crocodile</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Alligator" rel="tag">Alligator</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br />

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Books to escape with and into...

The names change, but reading to escape remains the same. All these books were fun to read.


August 30 to September 9, 1996

In Search of Wonder, Damon Knight
web site

Eaters of the Dead, Michael Crichton
Interesting that Crichton used historical materials from the 10th century explorations.
web site

Norstrillia, Cordwainer Smith
The only novel by Cordwainer Smith, pseudonym of the late Paul Linebarger, a professor and part-time spy, but it portrays the same future world as his amazing short stories.
web site

This was a pretty cool Virtual Reality Tour of the 160th century worlds Smith imagined.
web site


Shogun, James Clavell
Like Chrichton, Clavell wrote about an actual historical situation--a handful of Europeans in isolated 16th century Japan.
web site


August 30 to September 9, 2006


Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, 1.), Terry Pratchett

Johnny and the Dead (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, 2.), Terry Pratchett

It might be awhile before I get to 3 of this trilogy, because these are very slight books, more like a Terry Pratchett sample compared to one of his full-length books. I probably will eventually read it though, because I'm fairly solidly addicted to Pratchett's work and eventually I'll run out of books to read…it's getting down to the last few already…


Dates From Hell, novelettes Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, Lori Handeland

I hate to say it, but after a few days I remember some of these more than others.

"Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil" by Kim Harrison is a prequel to Harrison's Rachel Morgan series (Dead Witch Walking), in the form of a story of vampire Ivy's point of view. This one I liked and remembered, and felt it added to the "witch" series.
web site

"The Claire Switch Project" by Lynsay Sands. This uses a "molecular destabilizer" plot device, allowing the heroine to morph into different forms simply by looking at a picture. Paradoxically it was way too giddy to be funny to me, and an early scene establishing that most of the lead character do experiments on "bunnies" threw a bucket of ice water on me that chilled the rest of the story so that it was neither funny nor cute to me. (I couldn't quite "get to" the website for Linsay Sands, the URL links didn't work for me, sorry.)

"Chaotic" by Kelly Armstrong was a very strong read for me, introducing Hope, who is half demon, with an ability to see and an appetite for chaos that allows her first to apprehend and then to bond with jewel thief and werewolf, Marsten there are some interesting twists and turns in the story. I'll definitely check out more of Armstrong's books. web site

"Dead Man Dating" by Lori Handeland was enjoyable, featuring Kit Morelli, whose hot date winds up with her nearly dying in an alley at the hands of a demonic life-draining entity. I guess we haven't really all been there, but sometimes it feels like it. Rescued by demon hunter, Chavez, she finds that to save herself she has to get involved in his mission to hunt every kind of monster and demon there is--talk about a workaholic boyfriend.
web site

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Close encounters of the paranormal kind

For those who are considering buying the new obesity epidemic, I've written an assessment in the form of an owner's manual, now up on my website at The Care and Feeding of Your New Obesity Epidemic.


August 26-29, 1976 I read:

The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose, Robert Graves, Alan Hodge

I didn't finish this book, which I believe was recommended by Mel Gilden, whose science fiction short story writing class I had just taken. The main point I got from the book was that everybody writes crap--even the great ones, if you sample their work at random, will write garbage. So shut up and write already. Reading some reviews of the hardcover on amazon.com I see that the authors rip up the poor examples of prose from Hemingway, Huxley and Shaw and are very strict with perpetrators of poor syntax. Oops, didn't get that far. I evidently misunderstood the thrust of their argument, but I can't say I regret the message I took away from the part of the book I did read. I also don't regret not finishing it.

Capricorn Games, Robert Silverberg

F&SF July '76, The First Time
(The magazine, The First Time might be a novel or novella…?)

Insanity Inside Out, Kenneth Donaldson


August 26-28, 2006:

I read a so-called paranormal romance novel this week. I didn't know that such a subgenre existed till recently. But almost as soon as I finished the book, I found that Susie Bright had done a fascinating interview it's the August 28, 2006 entry of her web log, the full text of an interview for Publisher's Weekly on the success of the romance genre and its impact as mainstream erotica for women. She also offers some sobering perspectives about the publishing industry

The book I read was:
Night Play (A Dark-Hunter Novel), Sherrilyn Kenyon

Speaking of Publishers Weekly, I can't improve on this description from their review:

Can a gorgeous werewolf with magical powers and an overweight boutique owner with a broken heart have a future together? They can in Kenyon's fantastical world, which imagines a contemporary New Orleans teeming with vampiric Daimons, immortal Dark-Hunters and various were-bears, leopards and wolves. Vane Kattalakis is a lone wolf in every sense. His brother, Fang, is in a coma; his werewolf father wants to kill him; and his mostly human mother, who was taken by force by Vane's father, would happily see them all dead. But after Vane shares a sizzling sexual encounter with Bride McTierney, he realizes his life is about to change. Bride is Vane's "predestined mate," which means that he has three weeks to convince her to be his partner or he'll spend the next several decades impotent and alone.

I wasn't so sure I'd continue, but once I started reading, I spent the day with the book. Can't argue with that. It worked for me as escape. Interesting how commenters on Amazon freaked out over the heroine being a size 18 and feeling no one could love her because of her size.

Sherrilyn Kenyon also writes as Kinley MacGregor and has an interesting web site at
this link


<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Kinley+Macgregor" rel="tag">Kinley MacGregor</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Sherrilyn+Kenyon" rel="tag">Sherrilyn Kenyon</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Susie+Bright" rel="tag">Susie Bright</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Paranormal+romance" rel="tag">Paranormal romance</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Robert+Graves" rel="tag">Robert Graves</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Publishers+Weekly" rel="tag">Publishers Weekly</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Mel+Gilden " rel="tag">Mel Gilden</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Obesity+Epidemic" rel="tag">Obesity Epidemic</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br />

Friday, August 25, 2006

A wild buffet (I'd avoid the surrealist casserole...unidentifiable fragments)

August 9 to August 25, 1976 I read:

The Magic Barrel, Bernard Malamud

I had no memory of this book. The author died in 1986. I found this story online that only brought back the faintest whisper of memory, but it's a brilliantly written, evocative story.

Papa, A Personal Memoir, Gregory Hemingway, M.D.
I don't remember much about the book except, obviously, that it was written by the novelist's son.

I wasn't a cat person when I read this book, that came later. But Ernest Hemingway the descendents of some of his cats at the Hemingway House on Key West are embattled. It's a stable, cared-for, neutered group (with the exception of a select few descendants of the Hemingway original 6-toed cats). The cats live at the museum/house and they are threatened.

home website

FYI, if interested: petition website


Space, Jan Faller
My note is: The personal account of a divorce. Tres dreary.


New Dimensions, Robert Silverberg, Ed.


The Doctors Metabolic Diet, Kremer & Kremer

30 years ago I was still on the diet rollercoaster. I went online to see if Kremer & Kremer were still around and still marketing their diet (maybe there was a Kremer v. Kremer lawsuit over the book--sorry couldn't resist). Anyway loads of other profiteers have their own metabolic diets for sale circa 2006, I guess you can't patent that concept, even though it was about as effective as every other diet plan. Is primary goal was enriching the book's authors. In 1976, I didn't get that. And I suffered for not getting it.

I've been separated from the diet wars for so long, that when I searched for the book title, I saw an ad for "the metabolic typing diet" I thought it must have something to do with keyboarding--the carpal tunnel diet, etc.


Comic-Stripped American What Dick Tracy, Blondie, Daddy Warbucks and Charlie Brown Tell Us About Ourselves, Arthur Asa Berger

I looked at some of this author's other books--yikes, semiotics! That's a word that always looked to me like it should be on a label: "warning this product contains semiotics." No, don't ask me to look it up. I've looked it up several times over the decades and my brain rejects it every time--I think I'm allergic. Interesting range of works though: educational murder mysteries, books on Jewish comedy, oceangoing tourism, visiting Vietnam, television. I look further and see him listed as a professor at my alma mater San Francisco State University. Okay, now I'm not surprised. San Francisco State is a place where you can have freedom to experiment wildly. The downside is no one will notice, no matter what you do.


Blue Money, Carolyn See

I liked this book--still remember it--and I'm glad to see that Carolyn See is still alive and
writing


Without Feathers, Woody Allen

Interesting website, about, not by Allen, has a list of all his work.


August 9 to August 24, 2006:


Haven't read so much during the last few weeks. I've been writing more, reading less. That happens, although I can tell I'm about ready to jump into some escape fiction and stay submerged for awhile.


The Essential Kathy Acker, Kathy Acker, Ed & Intro: Amy Scholder, Jeanette Winterson, and Dennis Cooper

The great French writer, Colette, famously said: "Look for a long time at what pleases you, and a longer time at what pains you."

I was warned in the disclaimer that this was experimental, and usually I don't take well to being an author's lab rat, but I was curious. Wikipedia has an interesting entry on Acker.

Dennis Cooper wrote the intro to this book, and in the one Cooper book I've read so far, The Sluts, he used his fragments to actually tell a story. No such luck with Acker. I didn't find much more than tiny splinters of stories in Acker's work, even though the prose is powerful, sometimes even oddly ingratiating.

I followed Colette's advice and looked at it carefully to see what I disliked. It's highly graphic, in places pornographic and visceral, but that in itself doesn't always put me off. Finally I realized that what irritated me even more than the lack of story was the fact that Acker seemed to want to alienate the reader. Mission accomplished.

A strong metaphor or vivid detail in her prose may hold your attention, but she appears to have the attention span of a housefly. Segments of disconnected prose are like a pile of pieces from different puzzles that she has mixed up on purpose. I did read that she used the "cut up" technique famously employed by William Burroughs of composing prose like ransom notes from fragments. Personally I think disconnected segments are more rewarding as a visual rather than a literary device.

This is very much a matter of personal taste. I will look into Acker's nonfiction essays before I give up totally. Sometimes the halter of reality guides a wild, stampeding prose escapist to follow an actual narrative.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Many shades of humor

July 31 to August 6, 1976 I read:

The MAD World of William M. Gaines, Frank Jacobs

This was a bio of Gaines, founder of MAD Magazine--a bright light of laughter and sanity for a lot of us growing up. Biographer and that Frank Jacobs was a writer for the magazine. And a MAD website


One Man's San Francisco, Herb Caen

This was one of the first books I bought in hardcover, and possibly the last I reviewed for the Buddhist newspaper. I loved Herb Caen's column--gentle or pointed, up-to-the-minute sometimes romantic, sometimes snarky comments…separated by three dots. Six days a week for 50 years. Wow.

He was enough of a presence that in the '80s when I worked for a famous local liberal whose office was considering not giving us the Martin Luther King holiday off, we called Herb Caen! I don't know if any contact was made from Caen's office over this item. Our boss loved to see his name in the column--but not being teased for exploiting his workers. The boss decided we would get the holiday, and we dutifully called Caen's assistant back, so the item never ran.

I was way too broke to buy this book just because I loved Herb Caen. I believe there was a waiting list for it at the library and I wanted to review it for the Buddhist newspaper. It was one of the last things I wrote for them. I wanted to include a wonderful Caen joke from it, which I'll have to paraphrase: "Now that it's six weeks past Christmas, don't you think it's time we took down the TransAmerica Pyramid?" After so many years of self-censoring for the Buddhist newspaper and I thought that might be too edgy. (!!!) Then they published the review with a picture of downtown SF with the TransAmerica Pyramid in the center! Aiii! Definitely time to leave off writing for the Buddhist newspaper.


The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hogue, Robert Heinlein
Goodness, there's a
society
. Well, of course there is.

Best Sci Fi Stories of the Year, 5th Annual Collection, Lester Del Rey, ed.


July 31 to August 6, 2006 I read:

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel

After eleven or twelve Dykes to Look Out For collections of her wry cartoons, Bechdel has written a graphic novel/memoir. Clearly a labor of love, a beautiful book, exploring her childhood in a family where the family business was operating of a Funeral Home (which the family called the "fun home"), and her father, lived a closeted gay life until Bechtel, in college, came out as a lesbian. Soon after that he was killed by a truck, which Bechdel suspects was a suicide. One of her primary means of bonding with her father, who also an English teacher, was over his favorite novels and Fun Home is elegantly steeped in literature. A wistful book.


A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett

This book about a young witch's apprenticeship was aimed at younger readers, but it's totally enjoyable for any age readers. As is anything by Pratchett).


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Sunday, July 30, 2006

New York on zero dollars a day with no sign of Liz Taylor

July 19 to July 30, 1976 I read:

Universe 6, Terry Carr (ed)
My note is "again" so I must have liked it the first time.

I didn't read much else during this stretch 30 years ago, and I think it was because I was attending my last NSA/SGI (I forget when they changed the name) "Buddhist convention." I was already alienated from the group and it must have been a last attempt to reconcile. It was like attending a family reunion in the midst of a messy divorce. The convention fee included meals and a shared hotel room. I brought a little money, which my mentors told me to conceal on my person rather than carrying a snatchable purse (they also told us not to get in an elevator alone with strangers, and not to go alone to parts of town we weren't familiar with--which was everywhere). I was so paranoid that I sewed the money I brought into the hem of my bell-bottom pants. I didn't buy anything so I didn't need to go looking for the cash. I found it there after I got back to San Francisco. I wonder if there's a T-shirt or bumper sticker for I survived NY on Zero $ per day. I'm guessing not.

What did I see in New York? Hmmm, the Avenue of the Americas (I think we had a parade there) and Central Park from the outside in the early afternoon. I didn't see the Tall Ships that were rumored to be sailing into the harbor. There was one funny story from New York 1976 that I didn't see personally, but it sounds true. One of our top lay organization leaders was dining at a very upscale restaurant during the convention (I guess somebody spent more than zero dollars a day that week) and he remarked what an unusually beautiful woman was sitting across the dining room. It was Elizabeth Taylor. So, fancy restaurant or no, I guess I wasn't the only one who led a sheltered life.


July 19 to July 30, 2006 I read:

Winter Moon: Moontide\The Heart Of The Moon\Banshee Cries, Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, C.E. Murphy

The Tanith Lee novella didn't engage me, so I passed on it.

I hadn't read Mercedes Lackey before, and enjoyed it--so I guess there are lots more to choose from to continue to read her. I think her website is mercedeslackey.com, but I could be wrong about that.

I had read C.E. Murphy before and found this fun also.
But I find from her website at cemurphy.net that she also writes under the name Cate Dermody.

This Mean Disease: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Mother's Anorexia, Daniel Becker
A sad memoir of how deeply a woman's anorexia affected her family. I read this to get some insights into an anorexic character I'm writing about. I hadn't realized the close ties to clinical depression and anorexia.

Skinny Women Are Evil, Notes of a BIG Girl in a Small-Minded World, Mo'nique and Sherri A. McGee
I loved this book even though I am not the target audience. Mo'nique's sit-com, The Parkers distressed me because she was mostly shown chasing a reluctant man. That was way too close to a fat joke for me. She addresses that in the book on p. 110, "The first thing I told the producers…was not to have Nikki wear muumuus and sit around the house all day. She must to out on dates, have adventures, boyfriends and as much sex as possible. Thankfully they understood my desire to make a statement with this character and agreed with everything--except the as much sex as possible."

Mo'nique provides some charts and descriptions to sort out the evil skinny women from the supportive allies. This book tells the story of Monique's life in a way that's both funny and rabble-rousing. It's refreshing to see how Mo'nique's parents unconditional love and confidence made it possible for her to feel, as her father said, like "the prettiest girl in the world" from infancy to now.

Mo'nique's solidly positive attitude livened up a lot of the material in her book that's pretty far from the my own interests--like fashionable shoes, nightclubbing and competing to get the most phone numbers from a night on the town. But I do look forward to viewing Mo'nique's film Phat Girlz, and I cried when I heard Nigerian musician 2Face Idibia's song, African Queen, featured in the film and on the website. He said it was "my own way of paying my tribute and respect to the African woman." You don't have to be African, or African-American to appreciate the tenderness, affection and positive spirit there.



<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/C.E.+Murphy" rel="tag">C.E. Murphy</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/anorexia"rel="tag">anorexia</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Mercedes+Lackey" rel="tag">Mercedes Lackey</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Daniel+Becker" rel="tag">Daniel Becker</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/2Face+Idibia" rel="tag">2Face Idibia</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/ Phat+Girlz" rel="tag">Phat Girlz</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/ Mo'nique" rel="tag">Mo'nique</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><br /><br />

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Endings, loose ends, ladies, and tigers

I am in the incoherent daze that comes with dispatching a manuscript off into the world to seek its fortune, so I don't have a lot of extra wit today, I'll just have to go on pure instinct.

July 7 to July 18, 1976

The Woman Said Yes, Encounters with Life and Death, Jessamyn West

I don't mean to be irreverent, and I did love The Friendly Persuasion, but my recollection is that this one was sad and the theme was basically, "the woman said, yes, Dr. Kevorkian." Um you know, without Dr. Kevorkian himself being involved. Oh, I don't know, maybe I do mean to be irreverent, it happens too often to be accidental.

All Her Children, Dan Wakefield
Something about soap opera actors...?

The World Jonas Made, Philip K. Dick

Break of Day, Colette
Wonderful

The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh
This was funny--particularly having seen the motion picture years earlier.

Magazine of F&SF October '75 (esp. novelette Down to a Sunless Sea, Cordwainer Smith and. novelette Deadpan, E. Wellen)


July 7 to July 18, 2006 I read:


Enchanted, Inc., Shanna Swendson

This was a fun read, about a heroine whose magical "power" is that she is so utterly normal that she can see through magical illusions. Having just moved to New York from a small Texas town, she assumes the gargoyles, elves and fairy beings with wings are all eccentric New Yorkers. It's a gentle funny book. Swendson has a
web site, web log, all that stuff.


Marriage of Sticks, Jonathan Carroll

Jonathan Carroll as a writer is beyond excellent. His strong suit is bringing you into the dreamlike state his characters exist in, and he does it very well. He did some powerful things with the narrative up to about the middle of this book that will stay with me for a long time. However, that is part of my problem with this book. I wasn't comfortable in the world that he has created here, and as the end got closer, I wanted it over. I began to actively dislike it until I got to the ending, which I hated. Part of that seemed to be that Carroll had a mild case of what I call Lady-or-tigerism (after the ending of the famous Frank Stockton short story The Lady or the Tiger, that is a trick worked once--for Stockton, and I've never seen it work yet for anyone else). Oh, hell, for all I know, Carroll may have been crystal clear about the ending for those paying close attention, but as the conclusion of the book got more and more irritating, I was happy to get to the end, unsatisfying though it may have been, and so glad to have the book over that I had no desire to revisit it to understand anything I might have misunderstood. Interestingly, a penchant for "unsatisfying" endings is discussed on Carroll's web site. Some people evidently find the unsatisfying endings "endearing." As they say on the net, "your mileage may vary."









<br /><br /><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Jonathan+Carroll" rel="tag">Jonathan Carroll</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Jessamyn+West" rel="tag">Jessamyn West</a> <br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Frank+Stockton" rel="tag">Frank Stockton</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Shanna+Swendson" rel="tag">Shanna Swendson</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Waugh" rel="tag">Waugh </a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/ Colette" rel="tag">Colette</a><br /><br />

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reality tested and found wanting

July 6, 2006 - Some shorter material I read with pleasure this week was a charming online brochure celebrating San Francisco's Columbarium, which is a wonderful neoclassic building that has housed cremated remains since 1897.

Originally designed in the middle of a 27-acre Odd Fellows cemetary, the Columbarium was the jewel at the center of a kind of necropolis of many cemeteries outside the city limits. Over next century, the city kept expanding and pushing the dead out to the suburbs. Now it stands alone in accepting newly deceased tenants.

This is your typical San Francisco real estate situation, so when I read this deliciously funny brochure I thought, "only in San Francisco is there enough sophistication to appreciate an ironic, yet charming sales approach." Particularly when selling an extremely limited quantity of luxury items. You can't build up, down or out in San Francisco. Even when it comes to urn space, there ain't much of it, so that might lend itself to an unorthodox sales approach.

So I thought. I printed out the brochure and gave my only copy to a friend who used to live in San Francisco who needed cheering up. I thought I could find it again easily on the net, but I couldn't. I called the Columbarium, and described the booklet in glowing terms. The nice lady there clearly had no clue what the hell I was talking about--but she was kind enough to send me some lovely, not particularly funny, brochures. It turned out they were having a sale that month--15% off. I missed that one, but I might catch the next.

I ended up having my friend send the brochure back. With the correct title I found it again easily here

Okay, once again I've mistaken parody for reality. But check it out, it's a lovely project by a witty design major, inspired by an inventive professor. Another reason I stay in my fictional world--even San Francisco's Cloud Cuckooland is too real for me.

The illusion probably entered my mind through my weakness--an obsession with San Francisco real estate, which I observe with the fascination of a virgin daydreaming about a rock star from afar. When something shows up close to my price range, I'd have to be dead and cremated to move in! When I told another friend that I had actually called the Columbarium looking for this, she agreed that I probably shouldn't be allowed out of the city limits without an escort for my own safety and that of others.

June 24-July 5, 1976 I read:

Is it my imagination, or did celebrity bios seem a bit classier 30 years ago?

Olivier, An Informal Portrait, Virginia Fairweather

Colette, The Difficulty of Loving, Margaret Crosland

The Best from Fantasy and SF/8th Series, Ed Ferman, Ed.


My Heart Belongs, Mary Martin
It may be a generational thing to be able to finish the phrase--My Heart Belongs. . . to Daddy. That's the Cole Porter song that Martin, sang at age 24, creating a sensation in her 1938 Broadway debut. I remember about her autobiography, she notes that she seemed innocent enough even to her fellow actors that they weren't sure she understood that the character was in fact singing about a sugar daddy. Those of us who grew up in the 1950s remember her as Peter Pan in the annual television broadcasts of the play.

The Wine of Dreamers, John D. MacDonald
Sci fi from the Travis Magee creator. I don't remember my reaction at the time, but I'd probably already read everything else I could find by him at that point.

June 25 to July 6, 2006, aside from the Columbarium brochure, I read:

What's Eating Johnny Dep, Nigel Goodall
The most charitable possible thing I can say is this was not a well-written book. It reads as if stitched together from movie magazines and tabloids with none too fancy needlework and very little regard for the sequence or readability. I understand there's a new, updated version of this work, and I hope that it was edited, because Depp is an interesting actor and the story of his life and work deserves better narration.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The suspense did not last long

In answer to the question what will I screw up format-wise this time? Today the blog mistake (blogomistake?) will be posting the same entry more than once. Sorry, no bets accepted--I'd go broke paying them off! Lynne

Books to remember, and not...

Let me see if I can avoid screwing up the word wrap feature, or some other vital formatting function this time. Sigh.

June 18 to June 23, 1976 I read:

SF Author's Choice, Harrison, Ed.

David Meyer Is a Mother, Gail Parent

I don't remember this book. Even reading a short description of it didn't bring anything back, except a vague memory of also having read Parent's Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York, and I understand this author has written for television and movies, including 2004's Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. It's always good to hear that someone who 30 years ago was writing comic novels (and evidently proto-typical chick lit--who knew?) is alive, writing and evidently thriving--I tend to assume that people who write movies are thriving, call it jealousy if you will, because that would be accurate.

Laughing all the Way, Barbara Howar

Milton Berle, an Autobiography, Milton Berle with Hashell Frankel
My note in '76 was: engagingly honest.

The book made enough of an impact on me with its vaudeville reminiscences and candid personal revelations that I remember many of the anecdotes to this day--particularly the more graphic ones--with an odd kind of affection. I think that's the larger-than-life charm that Berle was able to put across in his performances as well.

By contrast the Barbara Howar autobiography above was much more zipped and buttoned up, and I can't remember any part of it. Of course, the double standard flourished a lot more 30 years ago and unabashed candor was an even more risky action for females then.

Rhythms of Vision: Changing Patterns of Belief, Lawrence Blair
My note was: dense as hell. Someone called it "lyrical" on the jacket--unintelligible would be more apt.

Interestingly, I did quite enjoy the PBS-broadcast documentary Ring of Fire, following Lawrence and his brother Lorne Blair's 10 years of exploration in Indonesia. There's a book of that entitled Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey. I'd be interested in reading that book.

I might be just as impatient with mystical speculation now as I was 30 years ago, but I had an instant, visceral reaction when I thought, "should I perhaps re-read Rhythms of Vision? That reaction was--"No!" Perhaps the Ring of Fire book appeals because there's a story instead of metaphysical speculation (urk!)


Universe 6, Carr


June 18 to 24, 2006 I read:

The Last Hero, Terry Pratchett

This is the first large-sized, illustrated Pratchett I've read. Paul Kidby's color illustrations have their own wit, notably the sepia-toned Da Vinci notebook style invention notes and sketches and "Mona Lisa" of Leonard of Quirm, and portraits of Cohen, the Barbarian and his geriatric Silver Horde, on one final rampage with the mission of returning fire to the gods (thereby ending the world). Hot on their trail, in Leonard's brilliant, if unpredictable, dragon-powered rocket is a contingent from Ankh-Morpork's City Watch and Unseen University's wizards trying to save to save Discworld.

This is an unusually short Discworld book--160 pages--a great many of which are the illustrations. At 40,000 words it's called a "Discworld Fable" rather than a full novel

Even though it was shorter than the usual Pratchett books, and I'm not the most visually inclined audience for the graphic enrichment, I enjoyed it. And the review on Amazon.com was by Donald E. Westlake--wow! I admire Westlake a lot and it was good to know that he's a Pratchett enthusiast.


<br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Gail+Parent" rel="tag">Gail Parent</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Paul+Kidby" rel="tag">Paul Kidby</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Terry+Pratchett" rel="tag">Terry Pratchett</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lawrence+Blair" rel="tag">Lawrence Blair</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lorne+Blair" rel="tag">Lorne Blair</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Indonesia" rel="tag">Indonesia</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Ring+of+Fire" rel="tag">Ring of Fire</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Discworld" rel="tag">Discworld</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Hashell+Frankel" rel="tag">Hashell Frankel</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Barbara+Howar" rel="tag">Barbara Howar</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Westlake" rel="tag">Westlake</a><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Milton Berle" rel="tag">Milton Berle</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><noembed> <div style='clear: both;'></div> </div> <div class='post-footer'> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-1'> <span class='post-author vcard'> Posted by <span class='fn' itemprop='author' itemscope='itemscope' itemtype='http://schema.org/Person'> <meta content='https://plus.google.com/113050050786210371338' itemprop='url'/> <a class='g-profile' href='https://plus.google.com/113050050786210371338' rel='author' title='author profile'> <span itemprop='name'>Lynne Murray</span> </a> </span> </span> <span class='post-timestamp'> at <meta content='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/books-to-remember-and-not_24.html' itemprop='url'/> <a class='timestamp-link' href='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/books-to-remember-and-not_24.html' rel='bookmark' title='permanent link'><abbr class='published' itemprop='datePublished' title='2006-06-24T18:05:00-07:00'>6:05 PM</abbr></a> </span> <span class='reaction-buttons'> </span> <span class='post-comment-link'> <a class='comment-link' href='https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115119757406447694' onclick=''> No comments: </a> </span> <span class='post-backlinks post-comment-link'> </span> <span class='post-icons'> <span class='item-action'> <a href='https://www.blogger.com/email-post.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115119757406447694' title='Email Post'> <img alt='' class='icon-action' height='13' src='https://resources.blogblog.com/img/icon18_email.gif' width='18'/> </a> </span> <span class='item-control blog-admin pid-1217197588'> <a href='https://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115119757406447694&from=pencil' title='Edit Post'> <img alt='' class='icon-action' height='18' src='https://resources.blogblog.com/img/icon18_edit_allbkg.gif' width='18'/> </a> </span> </span> <div class='post-share-buttons goog-inline-block'> </div> </div> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-2'> <span class='post-labels'> </span> </div> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-3'> <span class='post-location'> </span> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class='post-outer'> <div class='post hentry uncustomized-post-template' itemprop='blogPost' itemscope='itemscope' itemtype='http://schema.org/BlogPosting'> <meta content='11797573' itemprop='blogId'/> <meta content='115119735015067526' itemprop='postId'/> <a name='115119735015067526'></a> <h3 class='post-title entry-title' itemprop='name'> <a href='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/books-to-remember-and-not.html'>Books to remember, and not...</a> </h3> <div class='post-header'> <div class='post-header-line-1'></div> </div> <div class='post-body entry-content' id='post-body-115119735015067526' itemprop='description articleBody'> Let me see if I can avoid screwing up the word wrap feature, or some other vital formatting function this time. Sigh.<br /><br />June 18 to June 23, 1976 I read:<br /><br /><i>SF Author's Choice</i>, Harrison, Ed.<br /><br /><i>David Meyer Is a Mother</i>, Gail Parent<br /><br />I don't remember this book. Even reading a short description of it didn't bring anything back, except a vague memory of also having read Parent's <i>Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York</i>, and I understand this author has written for television and movies, including 2004's <i>Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen</i>. It's always good to hear that someone who 30 years ago was writing comic novels (and evidently proto-typical chick lit--who knew?) is alive, writing and evidently thriving--I tend to assume that people who write movies are thriving, call it jealousy if you will, because that would be accurate.<br /><br /><i>Laughing all the Way</i>, Barbara Howar<br /><br /><i>Milton Berle, an Autobiography</i>, Milton Berle with Hashell Frankel<br />My note in '76 was: engagingly honest.<br /><br />The book made enough of an impact on me with its vaudeville reminiscences and candid personal revelations that I remember many of the anecdotes to this day--particularly the more graphic ones--with an odd kind of affection. I think that's the larger-than-life charm that Berle was able to put across in his performances as well. <br /><br />By contrast the Barbara Howar autobiography above was much more zipped and buttoned up, and I can't remember any part of it. Of course, the double standard flourished a lot more 30 years ago and unabashed candor was an even more risky action for females then.<br /><br /><i>Rhythms of Vision: Changing Patterns of Belief</i>, Lawrence Blair<br />My note was: dense as hell. Someone called it "lyrical" on the jacket--unintelligible would be more apt.<br /><br />Interestingly, I did quite enjoy the PBS-broadcast documentary <i>Ring of Fire</i>, following Lawrence and his brother Lorne Blair's 10 years of exploration in Indonesia. There's a book of that entitled <i>Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey</i>. I'd be interested in reading that book.<br /><br />I might be just as impatient with mystical speculation now as I was 30 years ago, but I had an instant, visceral reaction when I thought, "should I perhaps re-read <i>Rhythms of Vision</i>? That reaction was--"No!" Perhaps the <i>Ring of Fire</i> book appeals because there's a story instead of metaphysical speculation (urk!)<br /><br /><br /><i>Universe 6</i>, Carr<br /><br /><br />June 18 to 24, 2006 I read:<br /><br /><i>The Last Hero</i>, Terry Pratchett<br /><br />This is the first large-sized, illustrated Pratchett I've read. Paul Kidby's color illustrations have their own wit, notably the sepia-toned Da Vinci notebook style invention notes and sketches and "Mona Lisa" of Leonard of Quirm, and portraits of Cohen, the Barbarian and his geriatric Silver Horde, on one final rampage with the mission of returning fire to the gods (thereby ending the world). Hot on their trail, in Leonard's brilliant, if unpredictable, dragon-powered rocket is a contingent from Ankh-Morpork's City Watch and Unseen University's wizards trying to save to save Discworld.<br /><br />This is an unusually short Discworld book--160 pages--a great many of which are the illustrations. At 40,000 words it's called a "Discworld Fable" rather than a full novel <br /><br />Even though it was shorter than the usual Pratchett books, and I'm not the most visually inclined audience for the graphic enrichment, I enjoyed it. And the review on Amazon.com was by Donald E. Westlake--wow! I admire Westlake a lot and it was good to know that he's a Pratchett enthusiast.<br /><br /><br /><noembed><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Gail+Parent" rel="tag">Gail Parent</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Paul+Kidby" rel="tag">Paul Kidby</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Terry+Pratchett" rel="tag">Terry Pratchett</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lawrence+Blair" rel="tag">Lawrence Blair</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lorne+Blair" rel="tag">Lorne Blair</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Indonesia" rel="tag">Indonesia</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Ring+of+Fire" rel="tag">Ring of Fire</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Discworld" rel="tag">Discworld</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Hashell+Frankel" rel="tag">Hashell Frankel</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Barbara+Howar" rel="tag">Barbara Howar</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Westlake" rel="tag">Westlake</a><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Milton Berle" rel="tag">Milton Berle</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><noembed> <div style='clear: both;'></div> </div> <div class='post-footer'> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-1'> <span class='post-author vcard'> Posted by <span class='fn' itemprop='author' itemscope='itemscope' itemtype='http://schema.org/Person'> <meta content='https://plus.google.com/113050050786210371338' itemprop='url'/> <a class='g-profile' href='https://plus.google.com/113050050786210371338' rel='author' title='author profile'> <span itemprop='name'>Lynne Murray</span> </a> </span> </span> <span class='post-timestamp'> at <meta content='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/books-to-remember-and-not.html' itemprop='url'/> <a class='timestamp-link' href='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/books-to-remember-and-not.html' rel='bookmark' title='permanent link'><abbr class='published' itemprop='datePublished' title='2006-06-24T17:28:00-07:00'>5:28 PM</abbr></a> </span> <span class='reaction-buttons'> </span> <span class='post-comment-link'> <a class='comment-link' href='https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115119735015067526' onclick=''> No comments: </a> </span> <span class='post-backlinks post-comment-link'> </span> <span class='post-icons'> <span class='item-action'> <a href='https://www.blogger.com/email-post.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115119735015067526' title='Email Post'> <img alt='' class='icon-action' height='13' src='https://resources.blogblog.com/img/icon18_email.gif' width='18'/> </a> </span> <span class='item-control blog-admin pid-1217197588'> <a href='https://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115119735015067526&from=pencil' title='Edit Post'> <img alt='' class='icon-action' height='18' src='https://resources.blogblog.com/img/icon18_edit_allbkg.gif' width='18'/> </a> </span> </span> <div class='post-share-buttons goog-inline-block'> </div> </div> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-2'> <span class='post-labels'> </span> </div> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-3'> <span class='post-location'> </span> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div></div> <div class="date-outer"> <h2 class='date-header'><span>Saturday, June 17, 2006</span></h2> <div class="date-posts"> <div class='post-outer'> <div class='post hentry uncustomized-post-template' itemprop='blogPost' itemscope='itemscope' itemtype='http://schema.org/BlogPosting'> <meta content='11797573' itemprop='blogId'/> <meta content='115058485440809414' itemprop='postId'/> <a name='115058485440809414'></a> <h3 class='post-title entry-title' itemprop='name'> <a href='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/sorry-my-inner-pit-bull-requires.html'>sorry, my "inner pit bull" requires completing this</a> </h3> <div class='post-header'> <div class='post-header-line-1'></div> </div> <div class='post-body entry-content' id='post-body-115058485440809414' itemprop='description articleBody'> Okay, so this post got lost and then truncated. Here's the last bit. (on the subject of seeing the documentary <i>Don't Look Back</i> five times and still totally missing Dylan's unkind treatment of Baez:<br /><br />My reaction to the relevant portions was along the lines of, "Look it's Joan Baez. What a beautiful voice. <i>Love is Just a Four-Letter Word</i>. Cool song."<br /><br />Of course, I was 16 and paying attention to the poetry, the James Dean-ish, hyper-cool edge that Dylan was presenting, and the spectacle. I had to have that whole interaction explained to me 40 years later. <br /><br />There may be others who have not forgiven Bob Dylan for other transgressions of the 60s. As a Buddhist, of course, I would wish Dylan (and everyone really) to make the best possible karmic choices. And maybe it's the chip of ice in my writer's heart speaking here. Although I can't imagine what it would be like to be gifted with a talent such as Dylan's, I've always thought that his first loyalty was to his creative genius, and I would have regretted it if he'd been nicer and written less. <br /><br />Bob Dylan has a <a href= "http://bobdylan.com/index.html">web site</a>, who knew? http://bobdylan.com/index.html<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><noembed><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Fort+Apache" rel="tag">Fort Apache</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Tom+Walker" rel="tag">Tom Walker</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Bob+Dylan" rel="tag">Bob Dylan</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Joan+Baez" rel="tag">Joan Baez</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Martin+Scorsese" rel="tag">Martin Scorsese</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Pennebaker" rel="tag">Pennebaker</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/<br />Terry+Pratchett" rel="tag"><br />Terry Pratchett</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Frederik+Pohl" rel="tag">Frederik Pohl</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Kornbluth" rel="tag">Kornbluth</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/orangenotebookoflynnemurray" rel="tag">orangenotebookoflynnemurray</a><br /><br />

don't wear sandals, avoid 40-year old scandals (lost post?)

--Note on June 17, somehow this didn't get posted. Maybe because I wrestled so long with the formatting features that I forgot the essential posting part. Or for some other unknown reason. Apologies! more apologies if this is somehow going out but not showing up to me. This is the third and last time I'll try to post it. Lynne
Don't wear sandals, avoid the 40-year-old scandals


June 3 to June 9, 1976 I read:

Fort Apache, Life and Death in NY's Most Violent Precinct, Tom Walker

The Divine Comedy, Dante
(began,…) another book I still have and never finished

The Space Merchants, Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth
I didn't say so, but I must have enjoyed reading Gladiator-At-Law a few days earlier or I wouldn't have sought this out.


June 3 to June 8, 2006 I read


The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
I still jump into any Pratchett I can get my hands on. This one seemed to be written with a Harry Potter-age audience in mind, a bit less hard-edged than some of his Disc World books, although it is the same world--just a very rural edge of it.

Chronicle, Volume One, Bob Dylan

I enjoyed this a lot. Keeping in mind that Ben Hecht comment that songs are little houses where our hearts once lived, for me Dylan's songs were a whole fast spinning circus performances. This autobiographical exercise captures that bygone era, and gives fascinating background of the influences and processes that hatched into Dylan's songs.

I know of at least one person who has never forgiven Dylan for thoughtless treatment of Joan Baez (inviting her to come to England with the tour but not bringing her up on stage, as documented the 1965 D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don't Look Back). Roger Ebert, expresses the same opinion when he was interviewed in No Direction Home, the 2005 Martin Scorsese documentary.

I guess many people feel quite protective of Joan Baez, but I was amused to realize that Dylan's treatment of her didn't register with me at all. What I found funny was that I saw Don't Look Back about five times. My reaction to the relevant portions was along the lines of, "Look it's Joan Baez. What a

The "size acceptance" diet and other insanities--well, mostly that one

The subject line refers to Michael S. Berman's book (discussed below), which
I thought I would review for my web site. But once I read it, I
realized that it came very close to the sort of book I feel can cause
harm by pretending to offer help. I think that's why fat activists
are discarding the term "size acceptance" in favor of Health at Any
Size, "http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/p.asp?WebPage_ID=320&Profile_ID
=41160">Love Your Body
, and Fat Pride--the last one may scare some
people, but it's pretty hard to distort into a diet message!


June 9 to June 17 1976 I read:


The Other Side of the Clock: Stories Out of Time, Out of Place,
Philip Van Doren, Ed., Stern, Comp.

Star Mother, Sydney J Van Scyoc

All the Colors of Darkness, Lloyd Biggle Jr.
my comment was "poorly done"

If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade: An Essential Memoir of a Lunatic
Decade
, Warren Hinckle
Maybe not so essential in that it's out of print now.

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin

Crazy Salad, Nora Ephron
This one made the most impact on me of the books I read that week


June 9 to June 17, 2006, I read:

The Amulet of Samarkand,(The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1),
Jonathan Stroud
This was fun

Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived, Peter Barton and Laurence
Shames

I borrowed this book to read because I wanted to know what it had in
common with another book Shames co-authored with the man whose life it
detailed--Michael S. Berman--entitled Living Large: A Big Man's
Ideas on Weight, Success, and Acceptance
(discussed below).

I was curious why Berman selected Shames to help him write the story of his
life. I didn't find a website for Shames, who also writes mystery
fiction, but I found an interesting Shames quote: “Success and failure.
We think of them as opposites, but they're really not. They're
companions - the hero and the sidekick.”

After reading Not Fade Away, I can see how Peter Barton's story
meshed with Berman's view of his situation--or possibly the spin his
publisher wanted to put on it.

Not Fade Away - A wealthy, creative entrepreneur, cable TV
pioneer, who has everything he ever wanted deals with his impending
death from cancer in early middle age.

Living Large - well-known political activist and Washington
Lobbyist, despite a happy marriage and fulfilling life, deals with
prejudice against fat people and a life-long eating disorder.

In my opinion, this also describes a life-long dieting addiction. But
they say you can't see your own eyebrows, and Berman (and his doctors)
can't see the yo-yo diet reality being fostering here in
the name of "acceptance."


I'm not the only person who hoped that Living Large would be
that rare and interesting thing, a positive book by a fat man
about his experience. There was much spirited discussion at
"http://www.bigfatblog.com/archives/cat_fat_and_men.php">bigfatblog
I could discuss the co-opting of the size acceptance movement by the diet
industry. But I have a headache and I don't feel like any heavy ranting
today. I very much like Marilyn Wann's discussion of the spiral of
self-acceptance at the very bottom of the bigfatblog page referenced
above.

When I sat down to read Living Large, I found that the primary
"accepting" that Berman did about his body was to accept that he will
always be fat, and that he intends to fight it every day of his
life. Hence the parallel with Peter Barton's dying of cancer.
Berman's web site
lists his weight from birth till now, and the diet he was/is on from
then till now, including calorie counting and frequent fasts under medical supervision). The blurbs in the Praise section are mostly from people invested in the diet industry.


I feel for Michael S. Berman's very real suffering, and I am glad that
he has found some measure of peace. Who knows? Perhaps he is in one
stage of that spiral of self-acceptance. However, I hope his
conditional self-esteem view doesn't damage anyone who confuses
perpetual dieting with Health at Any Size.

I must stop now as I feel a primal scream coming on.

By the way, we're still waiting for that self-accepting book by a fat
man.

<br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Jonathan+Stroud" rel="tag">Jonathan <br /><br />Stroud</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Peter+Barton" rel="tag">Peter <br /><br />Barton</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Laurence+Shames" rel="tag">Laurence <br /><br />Shames</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Michael+S.+Berman" <br /><br />rel="tag">Michael S. Berman</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/fat" rel="tag">fat</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/size+acceptance" rel="tag">size <br /><br />acceptance</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/health" rel="tag">health</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Health+at+Any+Size" <br /><br />rel="tag">Health at Any Size</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/bigfatblog" <br /><br />rel="tag">bigfatblog</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Warren+Hinckle" rel="tag">Warren <br /><br />Hinckle</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Nora+Ephron" rel="tag">Nora <br /><br />Ephron</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/fat+pride" rel="tag">fat pride</a><br /><a href= "http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne <br /><br />Murray</a><br /><noembed> <div style='clear: both;'></div> </div> <div class='post-footer'> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-1'> <span class='post-author vcard'> Posted by <span class='fn' itemprop='author' itemscope='itemscope' itemtype='http://schema.org/Person'> <meta content='https://plus.google.com/113050050786210371338' itemprop='url'/> <a class='g-profile' href='https://plus.google.com/113050050786210371338' rel='author' title='author profile'> <span itemprop='name'>Lynne Murray</span> </a> </span> </span> <span class='post-timestamp'> at <meta content='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/size-acceptance-diet-and-other.html' itemprop='url'/> <a class='timestamp-link' href='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/size-acceptance-diet-and-other.html' rel='bookmark' title='permanent link'><abbr class='published' itemprop='datePublished' title='2006-06-17T15:03:00-07:00'>3:03 PM</abbr></a> </span> <span class='reaction-buttons'> </span> <span class='post-comment-link'> <a class='comment-link' href='https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115058365382372318' onclick=''> No comments: </a> </span> <span class='post-backlinks post-comment-link'> </span> <span class='post-icons'> <span class='item-action'> <a href='https://www.blogger.com/email-post.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115058365382372318' title='Email Post'> <img alt='' class='icon-action' height='13' src='https://resources.blogblog.com/img/icon18_email.gif' width='18'/> </a> </span> <span class='item-control blog-admin pid-1217197588'> <a href='https://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=11797573&postID=115058365382372318&from=pencil' title='Edit Post'> <img alt='' class='icon-action' height='18' src='https://resources.blogblog.com/img/icon18_edit_allbkg.gif' width='18'/> </a> </span> </span> <div class='post-share-buttons goog-inline-block'> </div> </div> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-2'> <span class='post-labels'> </span> </div> <div class='post-footer-line post-footer-line-3'> <span class='post-location'> </span> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div></div> <div class="date-outer"> <h2 class='date-header'><span>Friday, June 09, 2006</span></h2> <div class="date-posts"> <div class='post-outer'> <div class='post hentry uncustomized-post-template' itemprop='blogPost' itemscope='itemscope' itemtype='http://schema.org/BlogPosting'> <meta content='11797573' itemprop='blogId'/> <meta content='114991553616835911' itemprop='postId'/> <a name='114991553616835911'></a> <h3 class='post-title entry-title' itemprop='name'> <a href='http://orangenotebookoflynnemurray.blogspot.com/2006/06/dont-wear-sandals-avoid-40-year-old.html'>Don't wear sandals, avoid the 40-year-old scandals</a> </h3> <div class='post-header'> <div class='post-header-line-1'></div> </div> <div class='post-body entry-content' id='post-body-114991553616835911' itemprop='description articleBody'> --Note on June 17, somehow this didn't get posted. Maybe because I wrestled so long with the formatting features that I forgot the essential posting part. Or for some other unknown reason. Apologies! more apologies if this is somehow going out but not showing up to me. This is the third and last time I'll try to post it. Lynne<br />Don't wear sandals, avoid the 40-year-old scandals<br /><br /><br />June 3 to June 9, 1976 I read: <br /><br /><i>Fort Apache, Life and Death in NY's Most Violent Precinct</i>, Tom Walker<br /><br /><i>The Divine Comedy</i>, Dante <br />(began,&#8230;) another book I still have and never finished<br /><br /><i>The Space Merchants</i>, Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth <br />I didn't say so, but I must have enjoyed reading Gladiator-At-Law a few days earlier or I wouldn't have sought this out.<br /><br /><br />June 3 to June 8, 2006 I read <br /><br /><br /><i>The Wee Free Men</i>, Terry Pratchett<br />I still jump into any Pratchett I can get my hands on. This one seemed to be written with a Harry Potter-age audience in mind, a bit less hard-edged than some of his Disc World books, although it is the same world--just a very rural edge of it.<br /><br /><i>Chronicle, Volume One</i>, Bob Dylan<br /><br />I enjoyed this a lot. Keeping in mind that Ben Hecht comment that songs are little houses where our hearts once lived, for me Dylan's songs were a whole fast spinning circus performances. This autobiographical exercise captures that bygone era, and gives fascinating background of the influences and processes that hatched into Dylan's songs.<br /><br />I know of at least one person who has never forgiven Dylan for thoughtless treatment of Joan Baez (inviting her to come to England with the tour but not bringing her up on stage, as documented the 1965 D.A. Pennebaker documentary <i>Don't Look Back</i>). Roger Ebert, expresses the same opinion when he was interviewed in <i>No Direction Home</i>, the 2005 Martin Scorsese documentary.<br /><br />I guess many people feel quite protective of Joan Baez, but I was amused to realize that Dylan's treatment of her didn't register with me at all. What I found funny was that I saw Don't Look Back about five times. My reaction to the relevant portions was along the lines of, "Look it's Joan Baez. What a beautiful voice. <i>Love is Just a Four-Letter Word</i>. Cool song."<br /><br />Of course, I was 16 and paying attention to the poetry, the James Dean-ish, hyper-cool edge that Dylan was presenting, and the spectacle. I had to have that whole interaction explained to me 40 years later. <br /><br />There may be others who have not forgiven Bob Dylan for other transgressions of the 60s. As a Buddhist, of course, I would wish Dylan (and everyone really) to make the best possible karmic choices. And maybe it's the chip of ice in my writer's heart speaking here. Although I can't imagine what it would be like to be gifted with a talent such as Dylan's, I've always thought that his first loyalty was to his creative genius, and I would have regretted it if he'd been nicer and written less. <br /><br />Bob Dylan has a <a href= "http://bobdylan.com/index.html">web site</a>, who knew? http://bobdylan.com/index.html<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><noembed><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Fort+Apache" rel="tag">Fort Apache</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Tom+Walker" rel="tag">Tom Walker</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Bob+Dylan" rel="tag">Bob Dylan</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Joan+Baez" rel="tag">Joan Baez</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Martin+Scorsese" rel="tag">Martin Scorsese</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Pennebaker" rel="tag">Pennebaker</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/<br />Terry+Pratchett" rel="tag"><br />Terry Pratchett</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Frederik+Pohl" rel="tag">Frederik Pohl</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Kornbluth" rel="tag">Kornbluth</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/orangenotebookoflynnemurray" rel="tag">orangenotebookoflynnemurray</a><br /><br />

Friday, June 02, 2006

Don't you just hate it when your cosmic egg gets cracked?

From May 25 to June 2, 1976 I read:

Reeling, Film Writings 1972-1975, Pauline Kael

Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Joseph Chilton Pearce
Don't ask me why I was reading this second book, instead of the first book this guy wrote: The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: New Constructs of Mind and Reality that has all the kudos from Alan Watts, etc. Probably my local library didn't have a copy of that one available. Maybe I would have liked that better, maybe not. But I did not like this book. I started by saying I was repelled by its obtuse arrogance. Then I got a little verbose myself on how verbose I thought it was concluding that it was "Just another spellbound-by-zen-koans driveler." Yikes.

Gladiator-at-Law, Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth

The Best of Cordwainer Smith, (J. I. Pearce, Ed., Intro.)
I really love this author and enjoyed the web page his daughter put up in his honor.


The Source, James Mitchener
I noted: began….
I still have this book and still have not finished it.


May 25 to June 2, 2006

Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking, Devyani Saltzman
This is a memoir of youth written by the Jewish/Indian daughter of two filmmakers, who is 19 when the book begins in 1999, when Saltzman is trying to reconnect with her mother, Deepa Mehta, during the filming of the final installment of her trilogy, Water (after Fire and Earth). The book evokes India, Oxford and Sri Lanka with a very lyrical quality.


The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell
This book is fascinating, and some of the insights can be immediately useful when you realize (I did anyway) how certain behavior patterns can be unconsciously triggered by settings. (e.g., whatever I do when I start the day, I notice that I continue to do for a few hours unless interrupted. So if I start writing, I'll write for a few hours. If I start reading email and surfing the web…oh, well.

I also couldn't help but consider Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison experiments in the 1970, which Gladwell cites. After scoring normally on psychological tests, students were randomly assigned to be "prison guards" wearing uniforms and dark glasses, or "prisoners" wearing uniforms with numbers. After six few days they had to close down what was meant to be a two-week experiment because of the sadistic behavior that had arisen spontaneously from the "guards" and the prison revolt that ensued.

The lesson, as Zimbardo concluded, is that "specific situations are so powerful that they can overwhelm our inherent predispositions." To me this is clearly shown in the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisoner abuse scandals. I don't think it's useful to pretend that this dark nature does not exist. It's easier to trigger the behavior than it is to control it and we need to know what works. Gladwell has some interesting ideas about what does and does not work.


<br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Reeling" rel="tag">Reeling</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/film" rel="tag">film</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Pauline+Kael" rel="tag">Pauline Kael</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/prisoner+abuse" rel="tag">prisoner abuse</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Guantanamo" rel="tag">Guantanamo</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Abu+Ghraib" rel="tag">Abu Ghraib</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Stanford" rel="tag">Stanford </a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Philip+Zimbardo" rel="tag">Philip Zimbardo</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Malcolm+Gladwell" rel="tag">Malcolm Gladwell</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Tipping+Point" rel="tag">Tipping Point</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Devyani+Saltzman" rel="tag">Devyani Saltzman</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/filmmaking" rel="tag">filmmaking</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Shooting+Water" rel="tag">Shooting Water</a><br /><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/James+Mitchener" rel="tag">James Mitchener</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Cordwainer+Smith" rel="tag">Cordwainer Smith</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Frederick+Pohl" rel="tag">Frederick Pohl</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Kornbluth" rel="tag">Kornbluth</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Cosmic+Egg" rel="tag">Cosmic Egg</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Joseph+Chilton+Pearce" rel="tag">Joseph Chilton Pearce</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Gladiator+at+Law" rel="tag"> Gladiator-at-Law</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Lynne+Murray" rel="tag">Lynne Murray</a><br /><a href="http://technorati.com/tag/orangenotebookoflynnemurray" rel="tag">orangenotebookoflynnemurray</a><br /><br />