Archive for 2009

Simple Machine

Friday, November 6th, 2009

I used to be a gamer. In fact I used to go with buddies to Tropicana Lanes in St. Louis and post up at the Mortal Kombat II machine and slaughter any and all comers, bitches, including the one we called Pig and others too, even, once or twice, the legendary John Choe whose skill in the form was matched only by the lore which dripped from his very name. I heard there’s a polar bear that emerges from the slime if you do THIS. Choe told me. My Liu Kang was not to be fucked with, but for real I’d slum it with Reptile too. Friendshipping fools on the daily. And I recall in those moments immediately following victory in a battle wherein I used only kicks, recall the extreme but tiny pride of terribly specific skill deployment. See the line of single quarters lined along the screen’s bottom, and they were faces of future losers, round shiny tokens of sure failure. Theirs.

I’ve since lost the patience, though, and the Skyway eats through cupholder change. So now I pack only a Wii, and its blue light pulses steadily, begging for my attention. Then today I’m referred by friend playwright good man Scott Barsotti to this game here. That was forty-five minutes ago and I really need to eat. So far I peak at 13,077. I’m certain there’s something I’m not getting. Aside from language. Poor lady.

Collective, Judgmental

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Can we agree that if Texas had an iPhone, it would most certainly be an iPhone with a picture of Texas stuck to its back?

Nothing but wonderful things to say after returning from Austin. Many thanks to Odie and Maggie for hosting and providing Lone Star. And of course Amelia and Stacy at Five Things for providing one giant Lone Star and much laughter. Also to the Death Match for the chance to read “Terror, Not Terror” to a packed church and a celebrity judging panel. Here’s American Short Fiction’s take…

Though the Literary Death Match was held in a church, the crowd seemed open to violence from [ASF contributor] Amelia Gray, sexual innuendoes from Richard Russo, and detailed sexual fantasies from [ASF editorial advisory board member] Owen Egerton. However, tales of Maddox Jolie-Pitt’s decapitation crossed the line, eliciting a collective and judgmental ‘whoa’ from the audience.” —Stacey Swann, ASF contributing editor

Fine. That’s fine. Doubtless, Amelia Gray deserved the victory, for she slaughtered. Overall just a stellar experience on every level, and I’m pleased as shit to’ve met everyone I did. Thank you to those who attended panels, thanks to everyone on the panels. High fives to  Amanda Little (her book is surely required reading today), James McManus, and about a thousand others.

Austin. Man oh man oh man…

Hell Yeah, Texas

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Big big trip this weekend down to Austin for this year’s massive edition of the Texas Book Festival. I’m dumb honored to be included, and excited for a whopping three events on Saturday. First is an 11:30 panel discussion, “Writing in the Shadows” with Dan Chaon, Scott Blackwood, and personal buddy, Amelia Gray. We will drop dimes.

Then at 2:30 I will slay the shit out of Amelia*, Jeff Martin, and Owen Egerton at a TBF version of the world famous Opium Magazine Literary Death Match. The judging panel is Pulitzered there and back again, so it should be a doozy. And it’s in a church. Goodness.

Then finally later that night I’m stoked to close the day with Five Things, famous in Austin and beyond. Great folks there as well (who I won’t link to because I’m becoming tired), including White Person himself, Christian Lander.

Re: a costume, I’ll probably go as a slutty author. Slutty vampire nurse debut author Midwestern slut. Pirate.

*Not a chance. In fact, I will bleed.

Old New Yorker

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Here is David Denby describing the prevailing domestic setting of the Coen Brothers’ new film, A Serious Man:

It’s the suburban nightmare that keeps showing up in ambitious American movies as the banality of evil itself. The low ceilings, the schlocky décor are meant to be of a piece with the endless family bickering and emotional blackmail—satirically enhanced signs of mediocre, soul-punishing middle-class taste, Jewish division.

In the film, the suburban Home and Neighborhood setting is one of several. We also see the academic workplace, both classroom (with a two-story chalkboard) and office of Larry Gopnik. There is also a synagogue, along with a cheap hotel. There is a Hebrew school, offering a twin to Larry’s classroom and another academic office. There are also two brief lakefront scenes and there’s a swimming pool and perhaps others I can’t remember. All are stylized to a dramatic end and all succeed at highlighting, undermining…always conversing with story and characters. They are, as Denby grudgingly admits, “fascinating”.

But look again at the Denby quote, exemplary of his angry and exhausting piece of criticism, and find proof of a major hole in the eminent critic’s understanding of the Coen Brothers’ art.

This film is not a satire. (more…)