30 January 2006

A Little Slice of Heavensville

Nearly ten long and mostly tedious years ago, I played in a band in Evansville called the Fontanes. Eventually, it broke up and not very long after that, the members began leaving Evansville for more stimulating environs.

My pal and former bandmate Tommy Wedge has posted some new material that doesn't sound much like the Fontanes on MySpace. Listen. I like "It's All in Your Head" best -- it's purty.

Also, enjoy T Wee's impressive facial hair.

Standing, Corrected

A few months ago, I wrote a quick review of a book called Heft on Wheels. Overall, I liked it, but the writer, Mike Magnuson, used “till” instead of “until,” and it drove me nuts. So in my understated fashion, I typed:

One last peeve: Magnuson's a tenured English professor, and yet throughout the book, he uses till when he means 'til, as in, an abbreviation for the word until. Believe you me, there's a difference. You can say that while "till" is technically incorrect, it has become part of the common vernacular and is now considered acceptable usage... but I'll still say you're a fucking idiot.

Apparently Magnuson was Googling himself this weekend, because he commented:

Actually, it's the other way around. The word 'till,' which you can find in any dictionary and also in neat books like The King James Bible, has been in English since English was Old English. The abbreviated form of 'until,' which you say is technically correct, is in fact merely just a lame abbreviation and not a word at all, and that has become acceptable usage. Trust the professor on this one.

Me, when I hear or read “till” I immediately think “the soil,” but I looked the word up in the American Heritage Desk Dictionary for completeness’s sake. Naturally, “to prepare (land) for the raising of crops” was definition one, but the second definition pointed out that, yes, till is interchangeable with until.

Well, fuck. I could swear somewhere in the distant past – high school, maybe even elementary school -- I was taught that when writing, you should use “until” if you mean “until” and save the contractions for casual speech. That’s why I was so emphatic about it. Regardless, I was mistook. And my casual use of the phrase "fucking idiot" compounded the error, making me not only incorrect, but obnoxious as well (or even more so than usual, tee hee).

So I sincerely apologize to Magnuson.

26 January 2006

Oprah's Book Flub

In a peculiar about-face, Oprah had my favorite memoirist back on her show today and gave him a civil yet stern dressing down for being a lying sack of shit.

Frey admits lying; Oprah apologizes to viewers

Of course, the joke's on Oprah: Frey's still a successful writer (barely) with a fat bank account -- which she handed to him on a silver platter when she selected his lousy book for her Book Club. With all her money, she should have just hired some goons to break his legs or something.

25 January 2006


"Did a struggling white writer of gay erotica become one of multicultural literature’s most celebrated memoirists — by passing himself off as Native American?"

That's what the L.A. Weekly asks in this article. It's a long one, but it's very well-written and worth your time.

What's the deal with all these fake memoirists of late? I need to sex up all the boring, tame anecdotes from my life and get my own book deal. I'll cry on Oprah, I'll take my mom on Larry King Live, whatever it takes, yo.

24 January 2006

"Giant-Size," Indeed

Here's some lame photoblogging in lieu of actual content.

Check out the new Ms. Marvel book. How does she stay midair?

14 January 2006

Different Strokes

An interesting article was recently posted on Rolling Stone's web site. Apparently, Larry Wachowski, one-half of Hollywood's Wachowski Brothers, goes above and beyond in pursuit of an alternate lifestyle. But since he's certainly got the bucks to afford it, and if nobody gets hurt, good for him. Plus, he was behind one of my favorite movies, so he gets a little extra credit in my book.

Nevertheless, it's certainly a lurid tale. Enjoy!

09 January 2006

Fuck the Bullshit It's Time to Throw Down

The Smoking Gun has published a very intriguing takedown of A Million Little Pieces, James Frey’s best-selling drug abuse diary and recent Oprah’s Book Club selection. It’s a lengthy, exhaustive critique, but here’s the gist: Frey is full of shit.

The Associated Press (via ABC) weighs in thusly, but Gawker's two cents are more succinct: "… It’s clear that Frey has taken some serious dramatic liberties. And that might not be such a big deal if he hadn’t consistently, appearance after appearance, insisted that all the events — even the little details — in the book are 100% true. Hell, he even brought Oprah to tears. And if you make Oprah cry under false pretenses, well, we just can’t stand by that."

No offense to Oprah or her fan base, but it probably doesn’t take all that much to move a bunch of sheltered suburban soccer moms to tears.

Now, from a purely technical point, Pieces is an annoying piece of crap. Frey has an extremely irritating writing style that features random capitalization of certain Words and Nouns which gives his Prose a pompous, Teutonic air that looks ugly on the page and somewhat hampers the readability of same:

"My closest friend is some kind of Mobster. My Roommate is a Federal Judge. My other friends are Crackheads and Drunks. I sort of have a Girlfriend, and she's a Crackhead and a Pillpopper and she used to be a prostitute...”

He doesn’t use quotation marks, either, a stylistic tic that draws attention to itself (“Look at me and my literary affectations!”) while, yes, greatly hampering his writing’s readability. And he uses the word fuck and its various permutations throughout the book because, you know, he’s just that much of a tough guy hardcore bad-ass motherfucker (the fact that Frey feels the need to constantly reinforce his image of tough guy rebel indicates that he probably isn’t nearly the hardcase he thinks he is and deep down, he knows it).

Indeed, most if not all of the press releases, articles, reviews and interviews that accompanied the publication of A Million Little Pieces boasted plenty of self-aggrandizing macho posturing on the part of Frey in which he proclaimed not only his greatness as an author, but also his Fury (sic), his raw intensity, his in-your-face realness, his utter bad-assedness, man, and if you can’t handle it, well then, fuck you, you sissy motherfucker. He has the acronym FTBSITTTD tattooed on his arm; it stands for “Fuck the Bullshit, It’s Time to Throw Down.” You know Frey’s straight up for reals now – he’s got tattoos, yo.

Frey is hardly the first self-obsessed hack to hit the jackpot with a self-consciously “dark” and “harrowing” memoir (see also: Elizabeth Wurtzel). What Frey actually is, however, is a pampered little rich kid who couldn’t handle his drugs in the long run, so he ended up scribbling out a 382-page love letter to himself about the whole tedious thing, which in the end kind of makes him the sort of sniveling pussy-ass writer he claims to despise.

Via his offical web site, Frey responds: "So let the haters hate, let the doubters doubt, I stand by my book, and my life, and I won’t dignify this bullshit with any sort of further response."

I guess that settles it, then. Suck on that, bitches!

06 January 2006

That's Not a Knife

Saw Wolf Creek last weekend -- in an honest-to-God movie theater. Happily, the crowd was well behaved. As for the movie, it was a decent, gritty horror flick, no more, no less. It had a resolutely downbeat ending, which I liked because it fit the tone of the movie. The two female leads were cute as buttons, which made the events of the film all the more disturbing. John Jarrat as Mick was really good. But back to the audience: I saw a mom and dad bringing two small kids into this rated R movie full of bloody violence and implied sexual assault. Way to go there, Ward and June.

03 January 2006

We're Not in Kansas Anymore Redux

Rationality wins over willful ignorance and religious fanaticism, this time in Pennsylvania.

Board Rescinds "Intelligent Design" Policy

02 January 2006

Faking It

While checking out some of my regular web haunts one fine November morning, I stumbled upon a unique offer on Sam Sugar's very cool (but NSFW) blog:

If you run a blog on any topic, and it's been going a couple of months, email me your URL, name, and address, and I'll send you a free copy of Craig's first book The Contortionist's Handbook. You don't have to promise to write about it or, if you do, say anything other than what you feel. I think the quality of his writing will speak for itself. I just want you to read the book.
I'm a sucker for free stuff, and I met the criteria, so I e-mailed my info and a few weeks later, an autographed copy of Craig Clevenger's novel The Contortionist's Handbook turned up in the post. As I was working my way through a few other books, the novel sat at the bottom of the "to read" pile for a while, but I finally got around to reading it.

The book tells the story of John Vincent, a guy with a talent for forging documents who has spent much time in various juvenile detention halls, prisons and psych wards. Plagued by an extra finger on his left hand that brings him unwanted attention and, more seriously, painful headaches ("godsplitters") that he self-medicates with ever-higher doses of whatever narcotics he can procure, Vincent ends up in a mental hospital being questioned by a shrink who thinks the godsplitters are all in his head (get it?).

Vincent is a likable antihero and Clevenger's book is a good, compelling tale. His prose is well crafted and highly readable, for lack of a better word. There are a few self-consciously "writerly" passages scattered throughout the book, but that's to be expected in a debut novel. Regardless, I always like stories with a strong "how-to" component, and Contortionist's Handbook features passages that describe the tricks of Vincent's trade. It's cool to learn insider stuff, and as presented in the novel, it's totally believable. Whether Clevenger painstakingly researched how to forge birth certificates and passports or just made it all up is beside the point -- it's believably written.

I'd like to read more of Clevenger's work. Especially if Sam Sugar wants to send me more free books.