Sunday, September 28, 2003

Status Memo: I don’t know why, but the permanent links aren’t working. Lucky me, because I was just thinking how much I wanted one more annoyance to sort out. I'm sure it's something stupid I'm doing, but jeez. A break, please.

I've been working on my Florida essay, shouldn’t be too far off. I'm also prepping Apple Pie for its second edition. And I'm making grudging progress on Misspent Youth (novel 3) -- a long way to go on that one.

Amazon still seems to be the only place carrying Business As Usual for the moment -- it's heavily discounted, less than $13.00. Buy it. Now. Do not fear, it will be worth it. Apparently, the rest of the book selling industry is stuck in the '70s and still has little old ladies filling out forms on manual typewriters and making calls on rotary dial phones. That's my guess anyway.

I'm about halfway through a book called Hokkaido Highway Blues, by Will Ferguson. Ferguson, a Canadian English teacher (that's an English teacher from Canada, not a teacher of Canadian English, ya hoser) in Japan, took it upon himself to hitchhike the entire length of Japan, south to north, following the sakura -- the blossoming of the cherry blossoms. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for some deeply sincere, weepy-eyed treacle about the natural beauty and culture of Japan, but Ferguson is not the type. He is wry, droll and loaded for bear with an ironic, purely Western sense of humor. I'm sure I'll have a review to post once I'm done.

And I have once again become addicted to an HBO series – Carnivale. It is a very dark and stylish drama, set at the time of the Great Depression and the Oklahoma dust bowl, with religious and mystical themes. It has survived on its sense of atmosphere and the slow building of the overall plot which, after three episodes, we have only been teased with bits and pieces. If it holds up and doesn't descend into to cliche it could become a classic.
Links-a-Plenty: All these poor wittle sites just lying around hoping to be linked to.
  • A lively interview of P.J. O'Rourke at the Onion. Always worth reading. And don’t miss his latest Diary of a Country Gentleman in Forbes.

  • Another interview, this one with Joe Bob Briggs, the king of B-movie hosts. One of the few people who appreciate the difference between high quality trash cinema and plain old trash cinema.
  • This is a wicked optical illusion. In fact I'm not sure I would have believed it if I hadn't used my color checker on it.

  • Take this job and…give it to someone else. The Worst Jobs in Science. I didn’t get past Flatus Odor Judge (aka professional fart-sniffer). "…refuses to divulge the remuneration, but it would seem safe to characterize it thusly: Not enough." Uh-huh.

  • For the Pixie, who is a Monopoly maven, the Probabilities in the Game of Monopoly. And here I thought is was just a matter of evicting widows and orphans.

  • Economists at work.

  • Are the Detroit Tigers the worst ever? Nope. They came through in the end and dodged the record. They even failed at being the worst.

  • Idiots like this EBay scammer should be peeled and rolled in salt.

  • These kids with their Maxims and their FHMs. Didn’t have no silicon or airbrushing in my day. All we had was swanky prose and cheesey graphics. And we were grateful.

  • I'm Greg Brady, the real Greg Brady, all the other Greg Bradys are just imitating…

  • Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny imropetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Banking Off of the Northeast Wind: For the last couple of weeks real life has owned me – I touched no web browser and only checked my email once. For my next trick, I'll give up caffeine, chocolate, and bourbon. Or not.

Part of the reason I was able to do this is because I have spent the last ten days scurrying about south-east Florida – South Beach, Key West, Palm Beach. Hot and sunny. I head to south Florida and a hurricane veers north. There's something to be read into that, but I'm not sure what.

In general a good trip, I'll have more to say about it in an essay. The only really annoying thing about the whole trip was that I had to deal with renting a car. Auto rental is one of the only travel industries that continues to treat customers like easy marks, feeding you half truths and hard sell to get you to sign up for insurance or pay for a full tank of gas up front. It's like haggling with a third world street vendor. Anyway, like I said, more later. I shall be righteously brutal.

I hope to have more material for you this weekend. In the meantime, I should note that Business As Usual is already discounted to $12.57 at Amazon. Get it. You won’t be sorry.
Outhouse, the Second Story: Hat tip to Bob C. for pointing out that my comments (6/11/03 and 6/13/03 -- stupid archives not working) regarding Outhouse Springs bottled water qualify me for the Miss Cleo Award as this article indicates and this article verifies.
“We had woman who wanted us to dump the water out and just send the bottle,” he says. “She wrote back to us once she’d received it, and she told us she now wears the empty bottle on a rope around her neck. I’m not really sure what to make of that.”

I don’t even want to think about in what venues that would be appropriate dress. Truly tasteless. More info is available at We should now begin a campaign to ask for it by name in better restaurants.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Buy This Book, Or the Blog Gets It!: Just a quick note to let you know that Business As Usual is available for purchase at Amazon. The full entry is not there yet, no picture or description, but you already know all about that. So if you REALLY love me you know what you must do.

Now I simply must go back to dealing with that annoying abstract concept called reality for a couple of weeks. Adios, Caiman!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Frog in a Blender: That's how I feel, like a frog in a blender. Except that I'm not getting chopped up into tiny pieces. And I could get out if I wanted to, technically speaking. And I'm not an amphibian really, although I do like the water. Other than that -- Frog in a Blender.

I remain quite busy with Business As Usual, which I have now actually held a copy of in my grimey little paws. Still a week or so away from commercial availability. And as of now, I do not have a publisher for Apple Pie anymore. Do not weep, though. I have been at odds with the Apple Pie's publisher from the get go and am actually pleased that it's over. The downside is that I have to get a new publisher for Apple Pie, which won't be that difficult, just time consuming. So in all likelyhood Apple Pie will slip out of print briefly, but will come back faster, stronger, better than before. (Cue Six Million Dollar Man theme music.)

It also means less time for this place and more begging for your patience. Starting now. It will probably be a couple of weeks before I get anything posted here again. All I have to offer for now is my book review of Bangkok 8 over at Blogcritics.

Peruse some of the existing links, or better yet go read the Business As Usual preview. I'll have more material before you know it.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Great Reading: You can now read the first eight chapters of Business as Usual online in your browser – no charge, no ads, no strings whatsoever. The site is rather basic, but it should grow as reviews and sale info comes in. Commercial availability should come in the next 2-3 weeks. If you want to be notified as soon as it's available, just drop me a note
Web Gems: The usual odds and ends that have struck my fancy of late.
  • The good folks in Bermuda (one very cool place) are getting slammed by Hurricane Fabian – what a wussy name for a hurricane, by the way. It may be an excuse for me to go back when it's all over – gotta be charitable and help them with my business, now don’t you know. They've been through it before and are likely to come through this one OK, especially with comments like, "We've got gin, we've got white wine, we've got red wine and someone's got beer so we are well stocked up as long as the ice machine keeps going."

  • When people decry the state of scientific journalism, I shall remind them of the brilliant innovation of using elephants as a unit of measure.

  • I've never had any great desire to see Europe. Perhaps I'm just not romantic enough. But the Daily Telegraph has no illusions about living in Italy. And the New Yorker has little good to say about the prevailing zeitgeist in the City of Light. Maybe I'm right.

  • On the other hand, the new national symbol of France was chosen because her breasts are "flush, freewheeling, insolently raised in protest or subdued in a state of heraldic order." Yeesh. It's enough to make one yearn for simple prose of Maxim.

  • Excuse me, I really have to take this call…

  • Webheads like me can feel nostalgic for these reminders of web culture past (anyone remember the Dancing Baby?). Maybe this is a head start on VH1's I Love the '90s.

  • M.I.T -- yes, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – is putting all it's coursework online. "Every lecture, every handout, every quiz. All online. For free." Talk about a free education. Of course, since anyone can claim to be MIT educated, that makes the sheepskin all that much more valuable as proof.

  • Haven’t had a music industry bashing article for a while, so here you go. CD sales are down not because of pirating, but because the music is sucky (that's a technical term - sucky).

  • There's nothing I appreciate more than an article that includes the line, "A breakaway flotilla of ducks is expected to make landfall in Britain soon…", unless it's an article that contains the line, "Nineteen Beavers then rushed into the stands and got into a scrum with [a fan] on a concourse."