Sunday, October 30, 2005

Spooky orange graveyard

Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lex Talionis

Ray's webcomic debut/preview: "This is just a soft launch..."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Smells and tastes

Do you ever have a vivid memory pop up when you smell something? I get a specific feeling and memory when I smell Big Red gum, which my very first boyfriend used to chew continuously. I also get it, though it's not as strong a reaction, when I smell swimming pool chlorine, which reminds me of lots of good times as a kid.

I don't think I've had this experience with taste until yesterday, when we bought this Rice Dream fake ice cream...Vanilla Ginger Snap Chai or something like that. As soon as I put it in my mouth I had a strong memory of a book I liked as a kid. It was a Sesame Street scratch-n-sniff book, and this ice cream tasted just like Cookie Monster's cookie smelled. It brought back some of the sensations of being 7 or whatever age I was at the time I had this book...among them, I really liked that smell and remember wanting to taste it, but alas, cardboard doesn't carry flavor well.

Someone should come up with a scrapbook for smells and tastes. I think it's a better way to recall good memories than photos.

On a wholly different note:

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Real or fake?

Yesterday the Hugo House held an inquiry called "Real/Fake - Examining the intersection of fiction and real life." We went to about 1/2 of the day's events, including a panel (two notable slam poets, a famous blogger, a 'zinester, a tech professor/activist) that somehow got off topic and spent most of their time talking about their writing and activism. One question posed to the panelists: Who are your influences (in terms of writing/spoken word as forays into the political)? One of the panelist mentioned J.T. LeRoy, a young (he was 19 when he published his first book), homeless, cross-dressing prostitute, junkie, unbelievable abuse-survivor, and brilliant writer.

The panel continued, still never really coming back to the Real/Fake thing, which I found irritating. During the Q&A portion, someone from the audience said he had recently heard that J.T. LeRoy is not who he claims to be, but instead a woman in her late 30s who created him, and fooled a lot of people in the last decade...literary critics, publishers, celebrities, and the New York Times, among others. He asked the panelist to respond: "Hmmm...really. I'll have to check that out" was basically all she said. Isn't this exactly what this panel is suppose to be talking about!?!

I haven't read J.T. LeRoy, but looked him up once we got home. Two articles have been printed within the last week or two about the possible hoax by a woman named Laura Albert, supposedly one of LeRoy's closest friends and mentors. Both journalists assert that Albert is LeRoy, with some convincing evidence. I won't go into all the details -- short version (Washington Post) and long version (New York Magazine) -- but my question is: how does one feel when a thing or person they've believed in is a hoax?

1) Outrage. I can understand how people could be believe in someone for so long, read about his experience and feel some of his pain only to find out that he doesn't exist. No one likes that I've-been-had-by-a-chump feeling. The writer has played on the emotions of the reader to make a buck and/or gain attention/notoriety.

2) Indifference. It doesn't matter if J.T. LeRoy is real or not...the stories are compelling, brilliant, and shed light on the plight of many homeless/transgender/abuse surviving/heroin using teenagers like the character. What's "real" anyway...J.T. LeRoy may very well be a real part of his creator. Aren't we all amalgums of fiction anyway?

3) Admiration. So maybe I wouldn't have pulled a stunt like this (or even had the brains to come up with it), but what a brilliant ruse! So many writers are aching to get published, and this one found a way to make herself so compelling that the agents and publishers couldn't help but read her work. It helps that she's a fine storyteller too, though the story surrounding the writer is way more interesting.

If I had read and been attached to LeRoy, I think I would feel a combination of these. While pulling the wool in this way is low, these are apparently stories worth telling by this particular teller, real or fake. It's hard to say what the motivation is, but if it's getting the story told, then Albert (or whomever) has done a damn fine job of it, albeit in a slimey and incredibly fascinating way. Ten bucks says a movie is in the works.

(And speaking of movies, the recent The Heart is Deceitful of All Things is based on a LeRoy book.)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

Blog as fridge

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Test on Wednesday

Better Studying Thru MSPaint

Saturday, October 8, 2005

I Love Lucy...ever heard of it?

I went to a departmental picnic last night at school, and we played that ice breaker game where you have some famous person's name stuck on your back and everyone helps you figure out who it is. Anyway, I talked to someone who didn't know who Lucille Ball was. A few other people had never heard of George Burns. I realize that some of the undergrads there were born in the mid-80s, but still! These are icons, people...please familiarize yourselves with classic television!

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Good reads

I wanted to write a post about Jana leaving for Amsterdam for 3 months, but that seems too sad, especially as I missed talking to her this weekend before they left today. Sigh.

Instead of that pity-party:

The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is a wonderful, old-style thriller, set in 1930s and 40s Barcelona and Paris. Though predictable in places, it's a fun, gripping mystery with some romantic elements that transported me to the dark, foggy, cobbley streets of some distinguished old Eurpoean cities. Actually, since we having our own cobbley-streeted experience while I was reading this book, I found myself confused when I was pulled out of the story. Where I am? Milan, 2005 or Barcelona, 1946? I lent this one to Jana for her trip. Sigh.

An Italian in America
by Beppe Severgnini
No vacation with Ray is complete without buying books. By the time we got to Milan, we had a crisis on our hands. Ray had read all but one thing he'd brought with him (I think he was saving it for an emergency situation, i.e. plane ride home). Since we hadn't been in town large enough to have a bookstore with books in our native tongue, we scouted out a bookstore within a few hours after arriving in Milan. While Ray browsed and restocked, I picked this one up, flipped through it, couldn't put it down, so we added it to the stack. It's an easy and funny (though dated) read about the author's year in the US...mostly light-hearted comparisons of Italian and American culture. It was really fun to read while we were in the midst of experiencing these differences: for instance, why don't we get water or soda pop served with ice? I will certainly look for other titles by Severgnini (whose name I am still trying to pronounce without sounding everything out).

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen, David Shapard
Got this for my birthday...good call! It is really fun to reread the story with all these little explanatory tidbits by someone who has researched the period as well as the novel and authoress. The annotater can point out meanings and allusions in the dialogue similar to watching the Yankees with someone who keeps track, obsessed with baseball stats. All of the added notes are making the story last loads longer. Three cheers for P&P in triple overtime with the bases loaded! Now if I can only make it last for 3 months...

Saturday, October 1, 2005


1. One of Varenna's Marys.
2. The cemetary, Varenna.
3. Old rusted bicycle at a Monterosso beach.
4. The bull at Vittorio Emmanuelle Galleria in Milano. Spin on his testicles for good luck.