Close Encounters of the Erin Kind or Steven Spielberg walk with me

Most people watch “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and see a pretty good movie about a guy who really wants to get on a space ship.

They are wrong. This movie is about me.

Every day, I see Devil’s Tower in my mind. I see it and I must create it. So I go to my keyboard and start to form it up. The first attempt is a rough sketch, a shape. It is something, but it is not right. I print it out and study it, decide what is working and what is not. The next attempt is closer–not right, just closer.

I must get it right.

“Mom?” says my kid from the doorway of my office.

But I am consumed with the mashed potato model in front of me, the mud model in front of me. I know that I have been summoned to do this, to realize this, that it is a pilgrimage of sorts and that nothing can stop me.

The trained guys in the space suits that are supposed to get onto the spaceship? Those are not trained guys in space suits.

Them’s your book-learned guys.

The book-learned guys really know space ships! They have all the technical capabilities. They can turn out one perfect sentence after another and deconstruct James Joyce and discuss every book the NYT reviewed this week.

But all the book-learning in the world will not give them the calling.

Funny thing about the calling is that when you have it, the book learning is delivered unto you. Because in your quest to realize that which is inside of you, you’re going to need some tools. So with the bottomless obsession and energy that drives you to create, you

“Hey Honey? What about dinner?”

seek out those tools. And at once the word “you” transforms from three simple letters into a tricky device called second person.

Suddenly, the nuance of punctuation is no longer a preposterous assertion.




Suddenly The Overuse Of Capitalization Becomes Really Funny To You. You learn how to SHOUT without uttering one noise.

Yeah, yeah.

And just like in the movie, plenty of people try and stop you and tell you that you are crazy and that the whole thing is stupid. On the journey, you find one or two others as obsessed as you and you immediately understand one another. You fall down. And when the canary dies, you second guess yourself until the compulsion wells up again and thrusts you forward.

The movie is about the quest. The prize is far away, a reverie in Technicolor flying overhead. But the power of wishing upon a star is in the wish, not the star.

It is a good day when you realize this.

Now you will excuse me, dear reader. Despite being hopelessly insufficient, this essay has gone on entirely too long and I have a date with a dozen or so little space men.



Truth in advertising

When I saw the envelope from the ABA in this morning’s mail, I figured it was just the latest dunning letter asking me to pay for fourteen years’ back bar association membership dues. But it turned out to be from the American Booksellers Association.

It seems that now all my books have to carry this advisory notice on the front cover:


Now I need to find a lawyer. I mean, a competent one. Does anyone know Maud Newton’s number?

The Link, The Whole Link and Nothing But the Link

Rittenhouse: “If you link to ‘Wonkette’ through your blogroll you cannot and will not enjoy, for what that might be worth, a link from The Rittenhouse Review.”

He claims he’s not serious. But given the focus on ad hominen and his failure to offer a single reasonable argument, I suspect he’s saving face. Allow me to clarify the linkage process.

Wonkette (and The Antic Muse) is linked on the left because the site meets the goods. I link ’em because I like ’em. There is no quid pro quo. That’s not the point.

The beef I have with James Martin Capozzola is that he seems to view the basic process of linking as somehow exclusionary, when, in fact, it’s more inclusive than anything else. While Sturgeon’s Law can certainly apply to blogs, there are so many of them out there that, even if 10% of them were excellent, the list would be long and unmanageable. To include everyone would require a time commitment that well beyond the realms of healthy human commitment.

There is no Machiavellian scheming or Oliver Stone conspiracy theory. There is no secret society, whereby one person links to another, and another person does not. A link on the left is based solely on merit or friendship or both. A non-linked blog is probably one I’m not aware of.

[1/23/06 UPDATE: And I should also note that many of the people on the blogroll are, in fact, people who loathe me for reasons I cannot entirely discern. I should point out that being a fairly forgiving person, I’ve never entirely understood the concept of hate at first sight. I understand being reluctant to talk to certain people because (a) they are high maintenance, (b) they are, in all interactions, a nuisance and (c) they are doing something which you perceive as damaging to your core values. But completely damning someone without trying to talk with them? Granted, I can be an emotional and intensely loyal fellow to my friends. But the idealist in me also believes that people can violently disagree with each other and still maintain a civil relationship. And I’m not certain how I got on this subject, but it’s probably me being introspective again (damn solipsism!) and contemplating the connection between being simultaneously forgiving and aggressive and whether it affects the blogroll. Perhaps Rittenhouse’s claims might hold some validity after all.]