You may have noticed there's been no Six Things today. I regret to say none will appear in the next eight minutes either. After 12 solid hours of proofreading, and my escape only made good by a promise to come in early tomorrow to finish the rest, there just warn't no time fer cartoonin' t'day.
While I was having to think way too hard about laptops and wireless mice, Gothamist linked to this analysis of what containers would be illegal on the train if these new subway regulations go through. I see my fears about twisty-cap bottles are correct! But "sport top" bottles, or squeezy bottles (as I like to refer to them), are fine. That is, they're fine in the "not getting fined" sense; in the sense of "do I consider them a pleasant thing to drink from" they are emphatically not fine. So I am disgruntled.
I do apologize for the sporadic comic strip updates this week, especially since I'll be out of town next week for the National Puzzlers' League convention in Los Angeles, and thus the blog updates will not exactly be picking up next week. But I am hoping to come up with some stuff to amuse you in my absence.
Hey, someone else I gave a book to wrote nice stuff about me! But not Holy Tango this time; it was the hand-stapled Six Things booklet. Erin tipped me off that Evan Dorkin mentioned me in his highlights-of-what-I-read-so-far-from-the-stuff-I-got-at-MoCCA list! Very cool. I've been enjoying checking out his other recommendations as well; why not take a look at Julie Klausner's Animal Party or Hot Dog Unicorn yourself?
Sometimes the thing where spammers just put random words in the subject lines of their e-mails works even less well than it usually does. I mean, it's not like I'm about to open an e-mail that says "Re: Than ten times", but I'm really unlikely to look kindly upon an e-mail that insults me, like this one which I received this morning: "effete Francis". I mean, yes, I'm weak and decadent, but that's no need to rub it in.
I see that the MTA is instituting some new rules for subway riders -- most of which don't bother me, but I do have some questions about them. The list of no-nos:
Moving between cars
Drinking from an open container
Straddling a bicycle
Skateboarding or wearing inline skates
First question: what's the big deal about straddling a bike? Yes, it takes up a lot of space -- but so does standing next to a bike. In fact, standing next to it probably takes up more space. I don't get it. Second question: Speaking as someone who usually has a bottle of water in his backpack, does a bottle with a cap count as an open container? I would like to see a definition of "open container", because honestly, if you can drink from it, it's open, right? I presume this regulation is meant to prevent the thing where people put a half-finished coffee on the floor, it tips over, and then the floor gets all gross, in which case, more power to that. Because I don't want to have to come up with some kind of semi-permeable membrane that I can put over the neck of my water bottle so I can say, look, it's not open, it's covered with a membrane! Anyway, if the goal is to keep people from spilling their drinks, capped bottles are probably okay, but some official confirmation of that would surely put my mind at ease.
They are also not going to ban photography after all, and you may put packages on a seat next to you if it's not interfering with other passengers. Hey, guy who was sitting next to me yesterday, do you think "interfering" includes "constantly poking in the rib because you're not willing to put your bag on your lap or on the floor"? Do you?
Alas, there will be no Six Things today -- I've been buried under a constantly renewing pile of copyediting since 10:00 this morning, so, no time to draw, and I have no energy for starting the cartoon after I finish reading this next article I have to read, what with the only having gotten three hours of sleep last night. However, I do have a consolation cartoon, namely the unused panel from the "things ghosts find embarrassing" cartoon.
Yesterday was the kind of day that makes having an unlimited Metrocard a good deal. Rose and I started the morning by waking up at 7:00 -- which, and this should already give you a sense of our schedule, was a half hour later than we had intended to get up -- getting ourselves together at top speed and heading out at 7:30 for the top end of Central Park, where we were both running in the five-mile Lesbian and Gay Pride Run (by which I deduce that "gay" is really coming to mean "homosexual and male" more than it means "homosexual in general"). I didn't blow any of my previous times for that distance out of the water by a long shot -- I ran it in 43:12, which comes out to just under 7 miles an hour, about average or a hair below average for me. But I did achieve my main goal, which was to run the whole race without walking. (I'd run longer distances than that without stopping on the treadmill, but the longest I'd run without needing a walking break on my Prospect Park runs was 3.4 miles; as previously mentioned, running in the real world is very, very different than running on a treadmill.) I did feel tempted to walk at one point, but I told myself, "Come on, Francis, do it for the lesbians. The hot, sweaty, fit lesbians." After the race, they gave us rainbow-colored popsicles, and man, a popsicle has never tasted so good.
Then we went to check out an art show that our friend Dean had recommended to us -- Across and Down, a set of works (by Edwina White) that each take their titles from the 56 clues of the New York Times's January 1, 2005 puzzle (by Raymond C. Young). Rose and I adored the art, which was very witty: "Bland quality" was a plain T-shirt whose tag read "tee total; regular; wishy washy; drip dry" and a fifth thing I forget; "Properly deals with after an exhumation" was a menu of fancy dishes that incorporated truffles; and "Ham's equipment" was a video of the artist using two chopsticks to help herself make overly broad facial expressions while she was talking. Terrific. Sadly, we only heard about the show on Friday, and it closed Saturday (which is why we had to squeeze it in on our overbooked day), and we totally failed to try to get more of our fellow puzzle people to see it. Odd that I hadn't heard about it before. I know Will Shortz knew about the exhibit; wonder why he didn't post about it to the National Puzzlers' League list?
Anyway, after we were done at the gallery we sped home (as much as one can ever be said to have "sped" on the R train) to get a fast shower and turn right around to leave for the Mermaid Parade. We ended up leaving later than we'd intended -- we didn't even get out of the gallery until close to noon, which was ostensibly when we had been planning to leave for Coney Island -- but managed to get there before everything started, and find the people we were trying to meet. I didn't get nearly as many good pictures as I did last year, mostly because this year, for some reason, there were tons more people milling around in front of the police barricades between us and the marchers (and only on our side of the street, oddly). And the pace of the parade was wayyyyy off -- there was a point when there were no floats or marchers in sight and lots of people assumed the parade was over, but then about five minutes later marchers started appearing again. Taking photographs became a bit more feasible after that point, since most of the throng in front of us had cleared out.
We all wandered around the boardwalk for a bit and strolled on the beach, which is a thing that other people seem to enjoy, strolling on the beach, but that I've honestly never really seen the appeal of. I don't like walking on sand, I especially don't like having sand stuck to me, and I'm not a big fan of the whole concept of putting my body in the ocean either. Although, come to think of it, I did have a good time clambering around on rocks and looking in on tidepools out by Cape Cod that time that Rose and Todd and Debby and I went out there to eat clams, so maybe what I really object to is the throngs of people and the associated screaming children that most beaches feature.
By the time we left Coney Island, it didn't seem like there was a point in stopping back at our apartment to regroup, so we went straight to Prospect Park (with a stop to grab some takeout at the Japanese restaurant in the neighborhood, Sushi Yu) to get in line for the free New Pornographers concert. We had been figuring that there would be throngs of people there, what with the show being plugged in just about every conceivable newspaper, magazine, website, and e-mail newsletter, so we got there around 5:30 to assure ourselves and the people we were trying to meet of getting good seats. This turned out to be a really early time to arrive, as there were, like, maybe a dozen people ahead of us in line. Unfortunately, none of the people we were trying to meet actually arrived before they started letting people in around 6:30. We scored three prime seats in the front row (or, rather, the front row of the seating area that wasn't reserved for contributors to the Celebrate Brooklyn series) and saved one seat for our friend Bridget, who's in town for the weekend (and who we were delighted to meet up with, because we haven't seen her in ages!), but felt uncomfortable trying to save seats for four other people -- and that would've been tricky anyway, because there turned out to be more people arriving with the two couples we would've been saving seats for. But we did chat with people before the show and between acts, and I ran into a few other folks I know -- Nick Nadel, a fellow former contributor to Modern Humorist and now a contributor to the Onion (and if you haven't seen the 2056 edition of the Onion, go now); and Doug Gordon, one of my Who Wants to Be a Millionaire co-workers and a soon-to-be-if-he-isn't-already groom guru.
Anyway, the concert was terrific. It was Canada Day (or, rather, Canada Day as observed in Brooklyn), so there were two other Canadian bands on the bill with the New Pornographers: the Sadies and Stars. Stars were okay -- I might like them better on CD, where I could hear their lyrics better, but in person I found them sort of generically swoony in a My Bloody Valentine/Suede sort of way. Rose and Bridget weren't especially impressed either; the best thing Bridget had to say about them was that she appreciated the fact that they didn't have a consistent look -- and boy, did they ever not. Not that I thought they all looked dumb; I only thought that of three of them, indicated by asterisks. The lead singer looked basically neutral with a vague hint of Erasure; the woman on guitar was kind of gothy; the bass player* was wearing a sleazy suit and a white dress shirt open to his ankles, and sporting a terrible, terrible mustache; the drummer* looked like he'd stepped out of a poorly directed white hip-hop video; the keyboard player had a sort of "geek grows up, makes good" look, really the sort of guy I'd picture if I were asked to imagine the stereotypical quiet guy in glasses who likes to sit behind a keyboard but still looks like he has social skills; and the lead guitarist* was wearing a T-shirt that said ROCK, liked to stand in one place holding one fist in the air for a weirdly long time or making dramatic stiff-armed pointing gestures at the audience (two types of rock posturing that I really can't stand), and actually gestured to the work ROCK on his T-shirt as if to underline it -- all during songs that so, so did not rock as much as stand in one place swaying with closed eyes.
Still, we clearly liked them more than the people behind us, who we heard make a snarky remark about how they wanted one dollar of their three-dollar donation back (as part of a constant stream of anti-Stars commentary). They were the polar opposite of the group of people sitting to our left, who were singing along to every song and bouncing up and down in their seats. So we were halfway between loving and not liking Stars in more ways than one.
Honestly, I did like one of their songs quite a bit -- the one which I have been thinking of as "the one where they speed up the tempo and the lyrics are something like 'and I wanted to say / what I wanted to say'", and which I had a hard time finding the actual title of, because "Stars" is a fucking awful thing to name your band if you want people to be able to find information about you on the Internet. Anyway, it turns out the song I'm thinking of is "What I'm Trying to Say" from the album "Set Yourself on Fire", which also contains another song I found appealing (probably because I could mostly make out the lyrics), "Soft Revolution". So I may have to check that CD out.
In discussing the Sadies, who preceded Stars on the bill, there will be no such "I may have to" hedging. They were fucking awesome. I have mainly been aware of the Sadies because of their sometime status as Neko Case's backing band, but man, those guys can tear it the hell up; I particularly enjoyed their mastery of speed-twang instrumentals. Bridget loved them as well, and got a great picture of the violinist/lead guitarist Travis Good. Jon Spencer came out for a surprise guest appearance with his collaborator from his Heavy Trash side project, Matt Verta-Ray, and threw down a couple songs as well. Excellent stuff, although I did think to myself, "Dammit, this free concert just cost me, like, $50 in CDs I have to buy now." (And Robyn Hitchcock sings lead vocals on one of the songs on their latest album -- how did I miss that?)
As for the New Pornographers, they put on a good set; Neko Case wasn't there, but her replacement (didn't catch her name -- Katherine something? Can anyone help?) was no slouch, and they played some previews of songs from their upcoming album, "Twin Cinema" (which I have to wait until August 25 for??? grrrr); I always enjoy hearing new material from my favorite bands. The title track and "Sing Me Spanish Techno" were particular highlights.
But the most memorable thing about the New Pornographers' set was the audience. As I said, we were in the frontest row you could be in without being in the reserved area, which was separated from the rest of the audience by waist-high metal barricades. The aisle next to us had filled up with people for Stars' set, and then it filled up with different people for the New Pornographers' set. To my annoyance, the guy who had taken up residence next to me in the aisle had a baseball cap attached to his belt, which kept hitting me in the leg as he was dancing. A few songs in, he made a cell phone call to a friend of his between songs, telling him, "Yeah, I'm in the left aisle, all the way in the front!" I thought, dude! Are you seriously telling your friend to push all the way through the tightly packed mass of people behind you in the aisle? That is very rude! This somehow gave me the nerve to ask him, after the next song, "Hey, could you not have your baseball cap on your belt right there? It keeps hitting me in the crotch." (I thought "crotch" was more persuasive than "leg".) He apologized and was about to attach his baseball cap to the metal barricade instead when his friend turned up -- in front of the barricade.
I will pause for a moment here to point out that one unfortunate side effect of the barricade system is that even though there may be tons of people at a show, the bands don't get to have a bunch of enthusiastic fans up against the stage. The New Pornographers, for instance, had two people standing up by the stage, and a lot of people sitting respectfully in the first five rows. So this is the situation in which the friend of this fellow came up and said, "Come on! There's lots of room up here!" Baseball-hat-on-belt man and his girlfriend looked at each other and, after a momentary pause, went over the barricade. Well, actually, I think she went under. And that was all it took. Everybody in the aisle went over or under the barricade as well. (I was very impressed at the squeezing-through-small-spaces skills of some of the female fans.) In the space of a minute or two, the front of the stage was absolutely packed with people jumping up and down.
Part of me thought this was cool, but another part of me thought, "Huh...now that the audience has gotten to this point, it is only a matter of time before someone tries to jump on the stage." And so I was disappointed but not surprised when one kid hoisted himself up stage center -- but I honestly did not expect him to try to stage dive. I mean, what the freakin' hell, people? Did you not notice the guy in the front row with the infant sitting on his shoulders? I don't believe anyone was hurt, but this is not safe behavior. If anyone was hurt, it was probably the diver, because it looked like most people just tried to get out of his way instead of trying to catch him. A second person -- who looked very mild-mannered in his big glasses and had a very I-want-to-be-like-the-cool-kid-who-jumped-off-the-stage! air -- tried to crowd surf, although he sort of rolled off the stage instead of jumping off. That worked better; people did actually push him around for a bit. A third person, an enthusiastic girl, tentatively climbed onstage, jumped up and down in place, once, and quickly climbed back down. By this time, security was descending, and after the song ended, the Celebrate Brooklyn organizer came out and talked VERY VERY ANIMATEDLY AND TENSELY to lead singer Carl Newman, who then turned to the audience and said, very calmly and wryly, "Hey. Don't dive." He went on (from here on I must paraphrase), "I'm from Canada, and where I come from we don't jump on people's heads. Especially not the heads of women and children. And when I see people jumping on women's and children's heads...well, it makes my blood boil. So please don't do that."
Things stayed calm for a while (security personnel had staked out portions of the audience and the edges of the stage), and then, towards the end of the set, keyboard player Blaine Thurier had some sort of interaction with the enthusiastic girl from before in which he actually waved her onto the stage, which seemed like a terrible idea. (I was actually starting to get concerned that the stressed-out concert organizer was going to cut the show short.) She climbed onstage and had absolutely no idea what to do with herself once she got there. She stood awkwardly, walked a couple steps toward the keyboard, busted out a clumsy one-second-long dance move, and then resumed standing awkwardly for the brief moment until the organizer and security guards got their hands on her and led her off. This all sooooo predictably inspired another young person still making tentative steps toward having a less inchoate personal identity to try jumping onstage as well, but he was swiftly removed. The troublemaking keyboard player shrugged and gestured as if to say, "We would simply love to have all you addled young people onstage disrupting our performance, but the Man won't let us; can you believe that shit?"
As the set neared its close, Carl Newman checked his watch and asked how much time they had left and was told they had time for one more song. He said, "Well, I guess we'll have to cut our set short," and then, in response to the disappointed cry from the audience, went on, "Well, maybe we'll do a medley." So they played two more songs, wrapping up with "Letter from an Occupant", which I suspect may have been intended to be their encore -- because there was no encore. After their set ended, stressed-out organizer guy came right out and was all "thank you for coming" and moving us along. Rose said, "I think it is a measure of how much I have become a grown-up that all my sympathy in this situation is with the organizer." I had to agree.
We walked Bridget to the train and chatted with her for a bit more; not sure if we'll have another chance to see her before she splits for upstate New York, but she's probably going to be taking a job in Paris for two years, so I think we just might find ourselves an excuse to visit her there.
We walked home from there, since it's not all that far (and seems even less far now that we run laps of the whole park on a regular basis) and it can be a long wait for the F train late at night -- sadly, Louie G's was already closed when we passed by it on the way -- and then collapsed into bed exhausted. But the good kind of exhausted.
You may have noticed I'm a bit underbloggy this week; that's mostly because I'm one of the puzzle constructors working on the Saturday night extravaganza for the upcoming National Puzzlers' League convention, and working on that has been taking up tons of time. I hope to post the whole thing here after the con, although there are enough technical issues involved that it might take a while.
But I have, as you may have noticed, managed to keep Six Things going, and I decided that I felt confident enough in it as an ongoing project to get myself the domain sixthings.org, which currently refers to the archive page, but which should eventually be a separate functioning website on which there aren't 90 comics all on the same page.
In other Six Things-related anecdotery, my train car this morning was deluged with young Asian kids at the East Broadway stop, one of whom took great interest in the sketches I was making for today's cartoon. (I learned from him that they were all off to see "Madagascar" for only $4 each.) So anyway, he was all, "I like your drawings. You're a CARTOONIST? That is so cool! How do I find your cartoons?" And I was like, "Well, they're on the Internet, and...oh, hell, here's the URL." I went on to explain that, really, the cartoons were very cuss-filled and were not the sort of thing that a large percentage of parents would be best pleased to find their kids reading, but he said that he and his parents watch Family Guy all the time, and I have to say that, even with the cussing, I think I'm way tamer than that. Still, as he was heading out with the other kids, I called after him, "Don't tell your parents I corrupted you!"
Over at this blog which recently linked to me (and which I find inscrutable, but I'm hardly one to pass judgment on other people's in-jokes) someone has posted a volunteer Six Things guest strip. Nicely done.
Back when I was making this mix, I spent a fair amount of time searching Soulseek for songs with words like "yarn" or "sweater" or "knit" in the title, to see if anyone had anything obscure that I hadn't heard of. Well, among other things, I found two tracks by a band called Ninja Death Squad: "My Pink Sweater Is Gay" and "Fuck You For Calling My Pink Sweater Gay". Obviously I needed these songs, but they came back with a "Remote: File Not Found" error, and then when I went searching for them on the various and sundry internets -- nothin'! Does anyone out there have any light to shed on this?
Boing Boing linked to a horrifying story this morning -- a nun was crucified in Romania because a priest and several fellow nuns believed her to be possessed by the devil. Apparently she had "argued violently" with the priest during Mass, and then they imprisoned her without food or water for four days, which I guess failed to make her less inclined to be argumentative, for some reason. And it turns out the nun had been treated earlier in her life for schizophrenia. The area of Romania in which this happened is rather remote and has no electricity or running water, so it's like a little peek at how mentally ill people were treated in the Middle Ages. It's all awful.
Which makes this ad that accompanied the article very, very unfortunate.
I don't believe in astrology, but damn, my "Career and Money Scope" in today's "Astrology Zone Today" by Susan Miller is so dead on that I might just have to reconsider. Check it:
ARIES: Your way tends to be the best way, even if someone disagrees with you.
OMG it is so true!!!!
Time for another installment of the sporadic feature wherein I answer my accidental readers' search queries, as reported by my referral log. Today's question:
what's wrong with tom cruise
He's not as smart as he thinks he is and he's been brainwashed by a cult.
This resolves an inconsistency introduced in this strip and this strip, namely that the acorn and the rabbit appear to be about the same size. Fortunately, Fizzywinkle lives in an alternate universe or something. Also, cheese can talk there.
If you're going to the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island later this month, be careful -- there is a crime wave in progress.
(Thanks to Carine for the link.)
Yesterday, as I was deleting a screenful of spam, I noticed one sender/subject combo that stood out as particularly absurd. Since the e-mail was deleted moments later, I must paraphrase from memory, but the sender was something like "Easy Adoption" and the subject line was along the lines of "Bring that bundle of joy home today!" First thought: is selling babies on the black market so hard that one must resort to spam? Second thought: who adopts an impulse baby?
Headline that just appeared in my inbox:
US Suspects 'Face Torture Overseas'
When oh when will we finally wipe out the global scourge of face torture?
Nicholas Kristof at the NY Times makes a fine point: if we're so committed to democracy in the Middle East, why are we not all over Pakinstan's shit for abducting a women's-rights advocate. (You might remember her -- she was the one sentenced by a tribal council to be gang-raped because of something her brother was supposed to have done?) Oh, but Pakistan is our friend. Right. Gotcha.
As you are no doubt aware, I am a participant in the thingy where, if people click through Amazon links on my site and then buy stuff, I get a teensy kickback. (Of course, just like one can't tickle oneself, I am not allowed to click through my own links and get a kickback from what I buy, which is unfortunate, because I buy a lot of CDs and DVDs and whatnot, so I try to rotate through my friends' blog and click through their Amazon links, when I remember.)
Anyway, one thing that the Amazon Associates program has started to do is to send out e-mails alerting members to deals they might want to highlight on their websites. These deals are invariably kind of...niche-oriented. For instance, last night I received an e-mail from Amazon telling me that, among other items, the Brass Eagle paintball gun would make a delightful last-minute Father's Day gift.
Well, actually, they call it a "paintball marker" (I guess so they don't have the bad PR of being perceived as selling guns). I find that a particularly risible euphemism for some reason, though. It conjures up simultaneous images of guys in camo trying to sneak up on each other and scribble on their faces with a Sharpie, and someone thinking to himself, "Hmm...how can I mark my lunch bag so that people won't steal my food from the refrigerator at work? I know -- I'll shoot a paintball at it."
Anyway, I don't need a paintball gun because I already have a full arsenal of them; you know that we're paintball crazy at Conde Nast.
A little mysterious, but funny -- it's the USA-Japan Taste Battle.
The most wrong item featured in the battle is clearly the buttered-popcorn flavor Mike and Ike candy. I mean, yes, Jelly Belly offers popcorn-flavored jellybeans, but I only ever encounter those in variety packs. Like, you get one or two popcorn jellybeans out of sixty or whatever. You have one, you say, "Whoa! That kinda tastes like buttered popcorn! Now please let me have something more normal," and then you eat something that tastes like something candy should taste like. A whole box of that? Ew and double ew.
(Thanks to Debby for the link.)
Enough people had been singing the praises of Target that Rose finally checked them out earlier this week, coming home with a few new articles of clothing, including two tops, one green and one purple. As she was taking the tag off the green one this morning, she noticed on the tag the name that Target had opted to give that particular shade:
Sadly, the purple was not called "Za-prune-r".
Had a great run this morning -- it was my first time running in the park since the previous blog entry about running, two weeks ago (which is to say, it was my second time running in the park). Since I was totally wiped out after two laps last time, I decided to take one step further into this crazy, crazy world where I am a "runner" and buy Gatorade, on the theory that, since I sweat like craaazy, maybe a drink that replenishes some of my body's salt just might be a good idea. It's a radical notion, I know. And yet, it seems to have helped, because I ran ten miles! For the first time ever! In 1:27! (Not counting a brief rest stop at one of Prospect Park's port-a-johns on the third lap.)
So I'm feeling pretty confident, which is probably a good way to feel before I head over to MoCCA to buy comic books and hand out copies of the hand-stapled "selections from Six Things" booklets that I put together last night. (Sadly, they do include the misquotation of that Human League song from yesterday, but since that will be fixed in future editions, that will just make this initial run of 20 even more valuable, like that stamp with the upside-down plane.) I hadn't even decided if I wanted to go to the comic book show this weekend until about 9:00 last night, so much proofreading do I have to do this weekend, but then I thought, don't be an idiot. Of course you're going to go. And if you don't make some booklets, you will be kicking yourself for months. So suck it up already. They came out pretty good, actually, despite the incredible speed at which I put them together.
And then, this evening, They Might Be Giants is playing a free kid-friendly show at the South Street Seaport at 7:30. Rose and I will be there as well, in case you want to try to find us. We'll be the ones you can't find.
(Thanks to Debby for the link.)
In the most recent David Sedaris essay, he refuses to change seats on a plane so that a couple can sit together, a piece of behavior that might as well have been designed to make me have no sympathy for him (despite the fact that the woman who asks him to change seats did it in a highly undiplomatic way, going straight from "could you...?" to "what is your problem?" in mere moments), so much do I hate people who make a big production of how inconvenient it is for them to slide over one seat on the subway so Rose and I can sit together.
Sedaris doesn't want to move because the husband's seat is in the bulkhead, and Sedaris, unlike me, likes to not have leg room, so he can prop his knees up on the seat in front of him (which is, incidentally, another thing that annoys me, having people prop their knees against the back of my seat on an airplane; if you think the person in front of you can't feel it, you are fooling yourself). Sedaris's argument to the woman is that the flight is only 90 minutes, and is that really so much time to spend not sitting next to your spouse? But if that's the tack you're going to take, is 90 minutes that long to sit up straight?
Anyway, that's all a long way of getting to what I really wanted to point out, which is that TMFTML was inspired by that New Yorker essay to write a very funny David Sedaris parody.
In case I have any neocon New York Sun readers in my audience, I should note (as mentioned in a comment by Orange) that today's crossword puzzle is by me, and features my first successful attempt at stacking 15-letter entries. It will also be available online in a few weeks.
UPDATE: Eric Berlin informs me via IM (as does Toonhead in the comments) that the New York Sun puzzles are no longer on a three-week delay, so you can solve my crossword right now, if you like. The puzzle is here (right-click and save); it requires Across Lite, a free crossword program downloadable here. And if you missed my last crossword in the Sun (from January), here it is.
Hasn't been much time for blogging, what with overdue proofreading, writing the Radar ticker, drawing cartoons, and, oh, copyediting for Cargo once in a while. However, I have not been totally starved for recreation; on Monday night, Rose and I went to the free acoustic Futureheads show at Pianos, which was swell. Only 30 minutes, but for the Futureheads, that's still a lot of songs! Stereogum has some photos, including a shot that includes enough of the set list to jog my memory:
Decent Days and Nights
Danger of the Water
A Picture of Dorian Gray
Hounds of Love
Piece of Crap (encore)
They are too fab. Do you not have their CD? Then you are lame.
Jim Hanas watched the Motley Crue documentary so you don't have to.
So you probably saw that the Supreme Court decided that the gummint could prosecute medical marijuana users even when states have legalized its use. But did you notice who dissented? Sandra Day O'Connor, William Rehnquist, and Clarence Thomas? What the who now? Even I have to say that Clarence Thomas is sounding pret-ty rational this time around:
Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.
Read his full dissent here.
(Link via Boing Boing.)
Holy crap, people! Neil Gaiman liked my book! (Insert long sequence of excited "squee!" noises while you are scrolling down, or read the excerpt here.)
Also people gave me books [at the Book Expo], and didn't seem to want blurbs, just for me to have the books, which I liked. Early yesterday morning, in an airport, I found myself reading The Holy Tango of Literature, which poses the question: what sort of poems and plays would have been written if authors had to write something that was an anagram of their names. It's really sharp, and it had me laughing aloud in an airport and getting odd looks. (Unless anyone wants to use the preceding sentence as a blurb, in which case it was all extremely depressing.)
He is correct that I was not angling for a blurb, just jazzed to give a copy of my book to someone I am a big fan of. (To give you some idea: the Sandman series was on my wedding registry.) However, if my book goes into a second printing, you can bet I will be lobbying to add a blurb that reads "It was all extremely depressing. -- Neil Gaiman"
(Thanks to Stephanie for calling the shout-out to my attention!)
It is very sad that the Ugly Wedding Dress of the Day website is no more. But at least we have this series of takedowns of bad superhero costumes.
(Via Patrick Maloney.)
So in case anyone was wondering at the dearth of entries yesterday, it was because I spent all day plugging Holy Tango of Literature at the Book Expo at the Javits Center. (Also the reason behind the even-more-hastily-drawn-than-usual Six Things yesterday.) I had thought I was just going to be there for lunch, but it turned into an all-day affair, what with showing up early and signing signing signing afterwards.
Lunch was the Book Sense Author Luncheon, where I got to say hi to A.J. Jacobs (author of "The Know-It-All"), who was supposed to appear on the Joey Reynolds show with me but had the flu, and briefly meet/gush at Neil Gaiman, who I gave a copy of my book to. Now I can daydream that someday there will be an entry in his journal reading "I can't remember where the heck I got this 'Holy Tango' book, but Christ it's hilarious." Wanted to give a copy to Gregory Maguire as well, as a fellow literary deconstructionist of sorts, but he disappeared before I could grab him.
Also got to meet the very cool Verbatim editrix (and periodic Heaneyland! commenter) Erin McKean. Word lovers in my readership (of which there just may be a few) should check the magazine out. (PDFs of some back issues are online.) It's a bit reminiscent of Word Ways, but more about interesting articles and less about ten-page-long word lists.
I also spotted Matt Matros, who was another fellow guest on the Joey Reynolds show. Being on that show certainly inspires a sense of camaraderie among its guests, a kind of "whoa, we survived that together" feeling. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time on the show -- but you just get no preparation at all for what you might be asked. It was a little stressful. But now that I know what to expect, if I'm ever on again, it should feel much smoother. Anyway, he signed a copy of his book for me, and I look forward to checking it out. I don't play poker (gambling stresses me out), but I do find the game kind of fascinating. As I do most games, I suppose.
I didn't go craaaazy on the free books -- I did try to only take things that I thought I'd be likely to read -- but I did take quite a few. I was less discriminating on the books available at the Book Sense signing booth (where I spent a half hour autographing books for enthusiastic booksellers before heading to the Emmis booth), because I figured -- heck, they're other Book Sense picks! They're probably pretty good! I'll report on my favorite Book Expo freebies here later.
Sadly, they ran out of copies of the Men in Hats book at the Keenspot table before I could snag one. But maybe I should just, you know, pay for that.
As if single people didn't have enough reasons to develop complexes, now there is a dating site called beautifulpeople.net, where applicants can be rejected for insufficient attractiveness.
First launched two and a half years ago in Denmark and now a month old in the United Kingdom, beautifulpeople.net has proved wildly successful - with even the unsightly masses continually reapplying in the hopes of gaining entry to the world's prettiest virtual clique.
"We have people in Denmark who have been reapplying for two years now," says Hodge, who adds that the Danish site has spawned seven marriages.
Dude -- why do people in Denmark even need to apply? Everyone in Denmark is beautiful! Anyway:
Bryan, who got in with 60 percent of the vote (anyone who gets 50 percent or under is rejected) admits that while he's not a "GQ kind of guy," he is only interested in Vogue-caliber women.
"I am an artist," he says. "I have a very high aesthetic sense. I want my mate to be very attractive. Call me shallow. I am what I am."
Like Gale, he has been on only one date with a woman he met through beautifulpeople.net, and while he says it went well, he admits that dating in the real world is much more difficult for him.
"This is where it bugs the hell out of me - women do not have an animal attraction to me," Bryan grouses. "The women who like me tend to be a little older and overweight. It drives me nuts! It's not my type!"
Grab him while you can, girls!
(Thanks to Emily for the tip.)
So now we all know that Mark Felt was Deep Throat. (And that Daniel had the goods way back in 1988.) But in 1999, Salon reported that Chase Culeman-Beckman had discovered that, if you anagram the title of Woodward and Bernstein's second Watergate book, "The Final Days," and append the title of the book after that anagram, you can get the sentence:
FELT HAD SAY IN THE FINAL DAYS
Well, probably. But still. Pretty cool. Also, note that "Deep Throat" anagrams to HE, TETRAPOD. And is Mark Felt a male who is "a vertebrate (as an amphibian, a bird, or a mammal) with two pairs of limbs"? Yes, he is! I think that speaks for itself.
(Thanks to James for the tip.)
Rose and I decided that we wanted to buy a couple of prints of the artwork from the latest Andrew Bird album (which you should buy a copy of, because it is brillllliant). In attempting to make this purchase, I inadvertently and uncleverly e-mailed the wrong person, who, despite having a .com extension on his e-mail address, turned out to be located in the UK. I feel, however, that this art dealer could really use a class in the art of writing communicative e-mails. Here is our e-mail exchange, only the tiniest bit paraphrased:
Me: Hello! Do you still have copies of these two prints?
Me: Great! How do you prefer to be paid? Paypal, check?
Him: Paypal will be fine.
Me: Okay...does the $20 cost include shipping?
Him: It's 20 pounds, and it does not include shipping.
Me: I see that, like an idiot, I have accidentally written the wrong person, but you realize that when someone asks if a price includes shipping, the proper thing to do when responding is to actually tell them what the shipping cost is.
Him: You asked if $20 includes shipping. I felt obliged to point out that the price was £20.
Me (unsent): Yes, but do you not understand that there are two sensible responses to my question? One is "Oh, if you are thinking that this transaction is to be conducted in dollars then perhaps you have written to the wrong person; is that the case?" and the other one is "On the assumption that you have either made a typo or that you are aware that I am in another country and are interested in purchasing from me anyway, I will correct your misapprehension regarding the currency in which this transaction is to be conducted and furthermore tell you what the shipping cost will be, given that it is not included in the 20 pounds." Your response was a mystifying chimera composed of bits of those two responses that do not make sense together.
Him (response entirely imagined, but plausible): Please stop writing to me.