Count Chocula Was Our Second Choice

We’re pretty much all tapped out in the synapses department. It’s quite likely that we’ll spend some small portion of this weekend sitting in an emotionally precarious position with a bowl of corn flakes, watching the first season of The Muppet Show on DVD. Which is not really all that different from days that we clearly recall several decades ago. Yes, that’s how bad it’s gotten, folks. Even our vernacular has been reduced to such genius assessments as, “It’s a nice day. I like it when the sun comes out.”

We need to recover. From what, we’re not quite sure.

So instead, we’ll point to Our Pal the Rake‘s review of Bret Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park. Also check out Patricia Storm’s latest comic, offering inventions for authors on a book tour.

Also of note: Roger Ebert seems to be hitting the snark these days. Check out this week’s thoughtful evisceration of a letter sent by the producers of Chaos and last week’s zero-star review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

For those of you who’ve emailed about the explosion, I assure you it’s not Beirut here in San Francisco. It’s really quite simple: our local utility company here is notoriously incompetent. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Be Naughty!

We were reminded Thursday evening that there’s this fantastic place called the Outside World, where people congregate and converse and marvelous human behavior goes down. So the next episode of Bat Segundo still lingers in a close-to-final state of completion. Keep watching the skies. About ninety minutes of new content is coming over the course of two shows.

But let’s talk of the Naughty Reading Photo Contest. Yes, there’s been a pleasant din buzzing about, with people planning fantastic ideas. But we’ve received only one entry! While we expect the floodgates to open closer to the deadline for entries (August 31), as literary folks are often procrastinators, we remain quite concerned that people here seem to think that reading is a wholesome activity. We remind our readers that reading is also a solitary task, which means that there’s plenty of wiggle room here for deviance. The nation may be ensnared in a puritanical atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be. So if you’ve got what it takes, the time has come to put your camera where your passion is. We dare you to be naughty!

Segundo & Stuff

Things will probably be quiet here today. We’re still mixing this week’s show and prepping for next week’s. Expect these two Segundo podcasts perhaps over the next five days. We have Mr. Segundo working overtime and he isn’t particularly happy about this.

We’ve also begun our long-neglected story-by-story breakdown on The Rainbow Stories for the Vollmann Club so that we can at long last move onto the next book. Here’s hoping our able colleagues are doing the same.

The email is hopelessly backlogged. We’re doing our best to respond. Really, we are.

In the meantime, keep those naughty photos coming!

Blogroll Restored

Over the last few weeks, you may have noticed the gradually restored “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” blogroll. Well, it’s taken a few weeks. But now I think I have everybody back. (Sadly enough, three people on the last blogroll had actually died.) But if I somehow missed you, please remind me so that I can get you back on the list.

[RELATED: Since the Technorati tags experiment didn’t really work out, I’ve replaced this with some new categories, which will be introduced gradually in the months to come.]

Taking A Bite Out of the Big Apple

Postings are going to be light and then heavy. But whatever the format and timing, they will be comprehensive on the other side. Either way, my ass is heading to New York to check out this BEA bidness. Count on this site to give you the honest lowdown and to seek out the devoted stragglers.

If you’re in town, I’ll be at the Slipper Room on Thursday night (between 6-8) with several other nice lit bloggers. Please stop by and say hello.

Confidential to Some Sexy Correspondents

Folks, folks, folks, folks. I should point out that just because some of us may disagree on minor points (and, boy, they sure are minor), this does not mean that I’ve stopped respecting you. Particularly since you’re good enough to offer a reasoned and impassioned argument along with your thoughts and you’re willing (much more than that!) to weigh in on subjects literary and cultural, and offer the Good Doctor some contrarian food for thought.

This is the cornerstone of democracy, I think. If I don’t respond to your emails within 24 hours, it is because I am busy with research and preparation on a few projects. It is not because I don’t love you or value your thoughts. You are all incredibly sexy. The fault here is entirely mine, because I’m a slacker, I can only do so much, and I don’t get back to people as quickly as I’d like. But trust me on this one, folks. You’re all hot mommas.

Regular Coverage Involves Subjecting the Host to Misery

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting a lot of literary content lately. I promise to get back to the usual book news, reviews and other thrills that keep my three regular readers glued to the monitor, along with another staccato burst of audio blog entries, but until then, let me offer some reasons why:

1. During the weekend, I had an incredible experience that lasted twenty-four hours. It did not involve drugs or any out-of-the-ordinary debauchery, but it did involve lack of sleep. Just as bad I suspect, given that I didn’t have a bite to eat during seventeen or so of those hours, save for a rat I found wandering underneath an ancient icebox located in a dingy basement that I escaped from, moments after the blindfold was removed.

2. In the past two weeks, I have been pretty darn happy and very pro-active in other parts of my life. If there’s any downside to this, well, it’s prevented me from engaging in this little web-based distraction. Your only hope for regular and focused blog content is a bona-fide state of misery and anger which causes an impromptu 4,000 word dirge on how lit blogs are organized into academic, non-academic, post-academic, pre-operative, pastoral, paint-by-numbers, postmodern, and OFF (i.e., outright fuckin’ funny). Then again, who wants another manifesto about blogs that only a handful of people care about?

3. I believe I’ve been writing more and reading less. I read only one and a half books last week, as opposed to my usual two or three. That’s clearly not enough stacked next to the amazing folks who can get through six books a week, have a full-time job, live life, and apparently amputate all four limbs from a random pedestrian in less time than most of us take to make a sandwich.

4. George Bush and his policies are bankrupt on almost every level.

4(a). Political discourse revives the same damn arguments. But it doesn’t refrain me from expressing horror. Still, even with politics fired off in extreme bursts, it fits the same damn arguments.

4(b). John Kerry is a goddam bore and I’ve been spending way too much time trying to convince other people that they must vote for him. Frankly, it’s a tough sell. I feel like a snake oil salesman or some guy on a used car lot named Bernie. I’d be able to sell shit-scented toilet paper better than this guy.

5. Because there is no way to modify the size of the little window in Movable Type, my eyes hurt after about 600 words of rambling about something. Factor in thinking under the radar of emolument, and you begin to realize how it’s become next to impossible to post long magnificent entries like Sarah’s.

So there you have it. I’m sure some of these things will change. But your only hope for regular coverage is to kill my friends, destroy what remains of my reputation, and otherwise make my life miserable. It’s not going to happen, of course, because my head will keep popping up like a jack-in-the-box. But you can try.

I will, of course, try to maintain the blog under these conditions. But, dear readers, if I abstained from the truth, I wouldn’t be able to keep up the grand echelons of blogging seen here.


Posting will remain light, with a possible chance of lengthy ramblings during the day job. Because of very pleasant recent events, temperament will remain sanguine, likely to settle into a calm that may disappoint readers looking for aggro tirades and felicitous flayings.

The Time Has Come

At long last, I have figured this gambit out. The Life, only occasionally referred to here in Reluctant-Land, has become one of those things where one wonders how to maintain a blog under the circumstances. Over the past two weeks, I have been trying to figure out how to balance reading, writing, and living — all three of which are far more important than anything I could possibly post here. Like most bloggers, posts are offered to stave off afternoon boredom (hence the one-third nudity clause referenced not long ago — 66% of everything else is illicitly penned with frequent Alt-Tabbing, often with sizable mistakes, quietly corrected after being pointed out by nice people). This Walter Mitty existence is all fine and dandy. It allows me to keep up with literary-related news, you to read it (and/or poach it — I don’t care), and everyone remains more or less happy. But I thought it might be a good idea to point out what this blog is and isn’t.

1. This is not a 24 hour literary news powerhouse. That would be nice, but quite frankly I have other things to do with my life. If I do not read, I do not improve my writing. If I do not write, I do not improve my writing. If I do not live, I do not improve my writing. There is an ostensible goal here. It will take years. As a result, early morning and evening updates have been abolished, so that necessary existential duties and functions can be carried out. Maud, the Saloon and Mr. Sarvas (among many other swell places) pull this off better than I can. But frankly, I just don’t have the time anymore. In an effort to kill the needless distractions in my life, the plan is to blog (for the most part) daily, but only during hours in which I am renting myself out to unidentified overlords.

2. No more posts while nude. A few weekends ago, a priest buzzed my apartment. He wasn’t a Jevovah’s witness, but he did identify himself as “a man of the cloth.” The priest offered to observe me for a week and determine if there were specific activities I was particularly adept at with clothes on and (he preferred) with clothes off. I didn’t ask about the scientific principles involved. But it was either this or a three-hour effort to convert me to Catholicism. So I caved. The priest determined that I was more successful reading in the nude than writing in the nude. Since I have this tendency to take my clothes off, in part or in full, close to bedtime, and since I feel more comfortable doing this, now that a priest is no longer hanging around the flat, the choice has become obvious.

3. A greater emphasis on journalism. I don’t have Laila’s drive to do a book review every week. But I admire her ambition. And I also admire Mark for his Dan Rhodes interview. And, yes, despite my differences with Dan Green, the man is trying to come to terms with the role of criticism. So props to him too. This is the kind of stuff that we, as literary blogs, should be doing. If we are to have any real credibility or purpose here, then the time has come for us to put ourselves out there, rather than compiling collections of links. Imagine the kind of coverage that can be found at Bookslut or January or Book Ninja transposed to any of your favorite places. Elaborate comparisons, attempts to gain insight that the major newspapers can’t (or won’t) cover. You know what I’m talking about.

This whole “link plus commentary” business is about as difficult as microwaving a burrito. I think blogs can do better. I know I can do better. There’s something extant in the form that has made us all lazy.

Fuck Google News. How about making some phone calls and confirming facts? How about looking at your local literary calendars, calling up a publisher’s publicist, and arranging for an author interview? How about showing some actual initiative?

In fact, I double dare everyone involved in the lit blog world to pound the pavement.


A hard April 1 deadline stares back at me on the play, which is doubly interesting given that a character’s gender switched over the weekend (thanks to a very simple and obvious observation from my producer, which explains all the homoeroticism that found its way in). So while I contend with this madness, you won’t be hearing much from me this week, except via the usual afternoon subterfuge.

But I will have more on the Academy of Arts contretemps very soon.

An Apology

There are numerous spelling mistakes on these pages — all of them inexcusable, all of them correctable. Just not now. Because time to care for an outside project does not exist in a workplace environment. For those who have been sullied, and the frequency is apparently substantial, not quite as bad as that Knowles guy, but still enough for some of you to plot my demise, the management apologizes. Just be grateful this wasn’t put into print, the way McSweeney’s books are with slipshod proofing. This is what happens when you type at a rapid rate, generally trying to get something off before being disrupted by something else, and all this without a single revision. Several small children will die because of these mistakes. I am prepared to stand trial in a bulletproof chamber for my sins against humanity.


I regret to inform my loyal readers that I will be taking a blogging hiatus that will last approximately twelve hours or so. Perhaps less. The reasons are unimportant. But after talking with my therapist about it, we’ve concluded that blogging has stressed me out. I need to get out in the world for a little bit and find myself. Of course, while this kind of thing is something that the average person would take days, weeks, or sometimes months to get through, I’m happy to tell you that I’m a pretty decisive guy. Twelve hours of contemplation. Twelve hours of reading that Po Bronson book, Get Off Your Ass and Do Something With Your Life. And then I’ll be happy to emerge from my private jetliner and kneel down before the lord like Eldridge Cleaver.

Apologies in advance for any inconveniences this may cause.