brothercyst: April 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IT'S SO SUNNY OUT

I can't believe how blue the sky is in Manhattan right now. It's like I'm in... L.A.

Next weekend, I'm going to Africa.

I reviewed Tell-Tale for Film Threat.

Sleepy.

Too bad this teaser trailer for Avatar is fake, because I like it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

AMIS ON BALLARD

Martin Amis writes about J. G. Ballard.

He told me that he'd seen coolies beaten to death at a distance of five yards from where he was standing, and every morning as he was driven to school in an American limousine there were always fresh bodies lying in the street.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

THREE MOVIES, PORK BELLY, FAWLT READING

Saturday, hiking. We spent a while relaxing in a cold mountain stream where everything was mossy and green and amazing. But the rest of the hike was sweaty and scratchy, and the landscape was a little surreal, with mostly dead knee-high brush and occasional trees or a grim rock; it felt a little weird. Very humid and hot. Here's a picture I took of what it generally looked like:



I just got back from doing a reading at KGB for Fawlt Magazine. Ryan asked me to fill in this afternoon because a poet had dropped out. The reading went really well. It was packed and everyone was good. The other readers (I'm looking back at the email Ryan sent me, since at the reading itself I was so unprepared I didn't know their names) were Jon Michaud, Amy Paeth, and Alex Dumont. All excellent. I read "Rat Beast" because it's short and easy to pay attention to. It seemed to go over well.

This weekend I saw three movies. Tell-Tale, Tyson, and Obsessed. Tyson was great. Tell-Tale was a Tribeca premiere where a lot of crazy shit happened at the screening, like a guy had a seizure or something and they had to turn on the lights and stop the film, and the director, sitting behind me, was understandably bewildered as we all waited fifteen minutes to see the denouement. Obsessed was a piece of junk but very entertaining. They really punted on a lot of story possibilities in it, and the most fascinating thing is how the climax involves a battle between the two supporting characters (with the main character nowhere in sight) simply because the biggest star in the movie, Beyonce Knowles, plays a supporting character, while the protagonist is played by the relatively unknown (but great) Idris Elba, from The Wire.

Also, I again had the delicious pork belly BLT at Stone Park Cafe, which is a sandwich I cannot recommend highly enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PENDULUM

I've become more and more interested in storytelling. I have tremendous respect for writers (and non-writers, for that matter) who can tell a story effectively, whether through some osmotically internalized skill or because they consciously taught themselves to do so. And I'm becoming less and less interested in pretty writers who can't tell stories.

Who knows, the pendulum may swing back. But that's how I'm rolling these days.

I'm pleased to see that my early-adopter affection for the genius of Lady Gaga is legitimized by the mere existence of a New Yorker profile on same.

This week I have an appointment with a psychiatrist. I've never been to one before. First psychiatrist and first Blackberry in the same week--I'm finally an adult.

I wish I had some writing to post here. I don't want to post an excerpt from the big thing I wrote recently because I feel like I have to wait on some things. But I don't have any new short stories. I haven't written a short story since November. I want to go to a writer's retreat. Anybody know of any good grants?

Monday, April 20, 2009

I ORDERED A BLACKBERRY

They're expensive! No more ghetto phone.

*************

From John Madera--get in touch with him if you want to contribute. I intend to, once my life settles down (?) a little.

"I've started a new project and I need help. I've just "launched" a new online literary journal called The Chapbook Review (www.thechapbookreview.com). It will focus exclusively on reviewing fiction and poetry chapbooks. Besides reviews, I'm hoping that it will also include critical essays and interviews. I haven't found any other journal that concentrates only on this particular form.
As you'll find, the site is in its embryonic stages.
So this is a call for:
Reviewers
Website design help and ideas
Chapbooks to review
And whatever else I haven't thought of"

***************

This weekend I went to Proteus Gowanus to visit the Morbid Library and see stuff like this.




***************

J.G. Ballard died this weekend.

I remember reading Crash freshman year of college while I was stuck in bed with a tube in my lung. A fine book.

***************

On Saturday I had a terrific sandwich. Open-faced. The Stone Park BLT at Stone Park Cafe in Park Slope. Instead of bacon, it has pork belly. Crispy, crunchy, juicy slices of pork--it's like the apotheosis of all the good qualities that bacon can boast. Solemnly recommended.

***************

Hm, the stock market fell a lot today. I wonder if it will plummet again. This is all a sucker's rally. Soon we will all be adrift.

***************

On Saturday I read for the Lungfull! magazine release party. It was fun. ASB came, and some friends of hers, and there was an auction. If I had the money, I'd have bought one of the paintings or engravings that were for sale, because they were pretty cool--one was a sort of ham with legs running through a forest, which I liked. I don't understand who was spending ~$100 on these things, though! Who can afford that? (Other than the drunken woman who screeched, "I just spent $700 on dresses yesterday, I can do what I want!!" in response to a man shouting at her, "Rachel, your husband's going to be mad at you!") I read four sentences because it was getting late and I was starving and wanted to go to the taco truck and then get some pork and crabmeat soup dumplings. The reading ran long, or I would've liked to hang out at the party for a little bit.

Friday, April 17, 2009

DO NOT GET THE TONGUE SANDWICH AT MOMOFUKU

I know this blog is supposed to be about writing, and often it is, and I'll duly note that I've done a lot of writing this year, and have new projects very actively in the works that I'm more excited about than I've been about anything before, I think.

But this post is about the tongue sandwich at Momofuku.

It is gross. If you don't want to read a disturbingly gross description of food, don't read it.

Tom and I went there last night. (Before Tom saw The Escapist at my recommendation. Great movie!) The Noodle Bar (ugh, we should've gone to Ssam). We sit down at the bar and are about to order basic goodness, pork buns and soy sauce egg and so forth, when the waitress, who has that distasteful hipster I-Am-Wearing-a Low-Cut-V-Neck-American-Apparel-Top-and-I-Hate-You look down perfectly, tells us the specials, one of which is a tongue sandwich cooked in some way I can't remember that sounded good, with some stuff on it that sounded good. It was $11.

Me: "The tongue sandwich... what's that like?" [Having had, and liked, duck tongue several times in the recent past.]

Momofuku girl: "AWESOME."

Me: "Really? The tongue, is it chewy?"

Momofuku girl: "No, not at all. It's AMAZING."

Me: "Well, then I guess I'll have that."

Tom (casually): "Oh yeah, I'll get that too."

Momofuku girl: "Wow, you guys are easy."

Some time passes and the tongue sandwiches arrive. It's a hunk of tongue, covered in bread crumbs just like a Mrs. Paul's fish stick, and some disturbingly pink onions (pink like bad ham), and some slivers of rubbery liver-like stuff on top of that.

Momofuku girl: "The slivers are the tip of the tongue, and the big part is the back of the tongue."

Tom: "This is tongue?"

Me: "What's wrong with you? Weren't you aware that you ordered this?"

Tom: "I don't know why I ordered this. I just said 'I'll have that too.'"

I take a bite of the sandwich. The inside of the big fish-sticky hunk is dark, slimy, wet, and thick. I can see membranes of wet tendon or fat inside. It's like breaded dog poop smeared with half-cooked chicken fat.

Me: "I can't eat this."

I turn the part of the sandwich that I bit into away, so that I won't have to see the inside of it. I feel like I'm about to throw up.

Tom: "You're just bothered by the concept. How is the tongue of an animal any different than, you know, a muscle from some other part of its body, which you would eat without thinking?" [He takes a bite.] "I can't eat this."

We ask for it to be taken away, and the Momofuku girl accusatorily says, "Is something wrong with it?" and "Neither of you likes it?" like we're fucking criminals. Look, I'm an extremely promiscuous eater. I'll eat anything from ants to alligators. But this was stomach-turning. So, instead, we got beet salad and pork buns. And yeah, still paid for the tongue hunks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"INDEED HE WAS A KING"

It's been a while since I read this bizarre Philip K. Dick speech. HTMLGiant linked to it today, and Justin Taylor wrote, "He’s the best example I can think of of a writer whose work is valuable (and enjoyable) despite the fact that it fails by almost any conceivable standard of reading or writing." I see Justin's point, although I don't know that that's really true. A Scanner Darkly is pretty great. I should re-read that. Right now I'm re-reading The Ebony Tower. But right now I'm going to sleep.

Monday, April 13, 2009

SOMEONE SENT ME THE MOST TOUCHING EMAIL

In its entirety:

"I dreamt of you! you wanted us to make little ghosts in a special machine."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

STRANGE DAY

I had a mild headache all day. Yesterday was extremely productive*, but not today. Today I just watched videos of cat bullies.





*I also saw The Escapist, which was awesome. Favorite movie of the year so far. Brian Cox is amazing as an action hero. More on that later if I have time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

NOVELLAS

My list of novellas.

John Madera did a LOT of work putting this together. And if you start reading through everyone's lists, you'll find a ton of stuff you want to read.

Lists from

Matthew Simmons

John Haskell

Brian Evenson

Jackie Corley

Tobias Carroll

Blake Butler

Ken Baumann

Matt DeBenedictis


Everybody else (on the sidebar)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

DIMENSIONS

Tonight I went to a dinner party at ASB's and was told that my blog makes me seem like a different person than I am in real life.

That in person I have "a normal emotional range" and a "healthy sense of humor"--but on my blog, not so much!

Really??

***

Sometimes Brooklyn is beautiful. I was never a Brooklyn person but I looked at an apartment there tonight that I kind of fell in love with immediately. Everything--the living situation, the neighborhood, my potential bedroom--seems perfect. I'm not going to guess about the odds of getting it--I'm sure I'm in competition with a lot of other people, there's no way there's not serious demand for that place--but my fingers are crossed for the next few days. [Update: Never mind, forget all that.]

***

Is Stephen King a good, great, mediocre, or terrible writer? He's written some complete shit, for sure. (I'm trying to think of an example, but all I'm coming up with are some short stories. Like the one about the long finger that comes out of the plumbing to attack you.) But this is a guy for whom the road is always open, it seems. He finishes a novel and then he starts another novel, and there are full worlds created in each of them. They aren't exercises, they're terraria with flora and fauna and history. They obviously require a lot of thought and work, but he doesn't seem to get blocked or stop to rest--ever. That is incredible. But how good are his best books? I'd put The Stand, The Shining, Misery, Apt Pupil, and a few others on a list of really extraordinary achievements. I mean, The Stand is a real feat. I know some writers who'd disagree pretty strongly with the previous two sentences. And yes, his prose can suck sometimes. But I'm becoming more and more admiring of writers who can truly tell a story. And I'm getting increasingly tired of writers--especially exalted "literary" ones--who can't, and who cover up the lack of ability with tricks.

***

No newspaper has ever referred to me as "dashing" before. I'll allow myself to pretend this isn't tongue-in-cheek.

***

I'm just sitting around procrastinating at this point. Shit.

Monday, April 06, 2009

JUST WOKE UP FROM A NAP

The weekend is over, it's 12:30 AM Monday morning, I just woke up from a nap and am screwing around on the internet. I didn't really do any writing this weekend, but that's okay because I did a little planning and some reading, and because I did so much writing in the first three months of the year. This weekend I also--

  • dropped briefly by a photography show where I got my portrait taken
  • went to the birthday party of the Berger twins, featuring a screening of a comedic short film I cameo'd in (update: video on YouTube)
  • saw Lila Nelson play an excellent set at the Living Room
  • went to a party/seance for dead philosophers with Bess, where I heard of a new band I now like (pay attention, they'll be famous soon).
  • ventured out to a windy nightmare place called Brooklyn to look for an apartment
  • ate numerous baseball-shaped Burger Shoppe burgers, a banh mi, and many tacos
  • watched Dexter and ate desserts with ASB
  • discovered the new passion fruit ice cream. Finally someone's listened to my plea that everything be made in passion fruit flavor.
Midnight Picnic got its first neg/eh review. From The L Magazine. FWIW, I think it's a totally fair review and most of what reviewer Ryan Vlastelica says is reasonable and accurate; that's what's in the book and you either respond to it or you don't. I like the Mario Bros reference.

I wonder if there are other reviews out there that I don't know about--I hadn't heard about this until Alex Remington, who was unexpectedly in town today and with whom I had a greasy Chinese dinner, told me he'd seen it when he picked up a copy of The L at a comedy show last night.

This article concerns the firm where I work.

Going on a trip across the Atlantic shortly, just bought my ticket, hanging out with Russell in a Muslim country, looking fwd to it.

I like the comments on Youtube. I like when they make me laugh. I like the commenter who just wrote "Titty bears LMao!" on my video of rats frolicking in the subway.

I have been having some heretical-feeling thoughts about writing. My attitude is changing. I'm reassessing what I think the most important parts of fiction are, and where I think the "art" is. I think it's changing everything I think about writing (although I'm just coming to conclusions that a million other writers have come to and many consider self-evident). More on this later.

Friday, April 03, 2009

FRIDAY AGITATION



Tobias Carroll interviewed me for his site, The Scowl. (I was a day late getting the responses back.) It's a good interview, I think. I talk about how I want to be friends with Kelly Link or Alicia Erian, and about creative euphoria. I need to get some of that again. It's alchemy! I've got to find a new apartment. I don't know what my financial situation will be later this year so I can't get a really nice one. I just went swimming. There were so many people in pool today. Why?

NEW FLICK

Sugar opens today. I was really impressed when I saw this at a screening a few weeks ago. A.O. Scott gives it a great review.

I'm pretty calm right now. I'm revising something. It seems to be going well.

Earlier this evening I went to Brooklyn to look at Karan's apartment and see if maybe I want to move in. I don't think I can, it's just too far from the trains I use so much every day, but it was a super good time to hang out and talk for a while. I've been immersed in stuff for two months and have hardly talked to my friends properly.

Okay, back to revising.