Monday, April 26, 2004

the requisite closings of tabs and windows

Quick late night post. I got to page 100 of Anansi Boys tonight, and I have a pretty good idea of what's going to have to happen to it on the next draft, or when I start typing it, anyway (which I expect I'll start doing before I've finished writing it), which is good. It feels like a novel now. It's made it properly off the ground, -- if you remember this post, where it hadn't yet -- and it's reached the kind of cruising altitude at which you can use electronics. Now I just have to try and keep it in the air without ploughing into the side of any mountains, and then land it safely when it's done. (I think I'm finished with the aircraft metaphors now, thank you.)

And I finished my introductory essay on Edgar A. Poe today, for a book of Poe short stories and poems, which is also good.

A few links, so I can close a bunch of windows and tabs.

Interesting article on fatness and fitness and health and pseudo-science at,3605,1200549,00.html -- it's an unabashed polemic, and a fascinating one, of which my favourite line is The single most noxious line of argument in the literature about obesity is that black and Hispanic girls and women need to be "sensitised" to the "fact" that they have inappropriately positive feelings about their bodies.

For those of you who liked the i-ducks, but immediately asked yourself "But I don't need a glow in the dark duck USB memory -- why can't I have a Godzilla on my desk with four firewire ports on its back instead?", your salvation is at hand:

I loved Roger Lancelyn Green's books on myth, when I was a boy. Now his son Richard, a Sherlock Holmes scholar, has died in magnificently mysterious circumstances. is the best article on his death I've run into so far.

Dr Knapman said there was not enough evidence to rule in or out suicide, murder or a sexual act gone wrong.

Mr Lancelyn Green was found in his bed, surrounded by cuddly toys and a bottle, after a wooden spoon was used to tighten the shoelace around his neck.

And from his sister's evidence, we learn that shortly before his death He had sent her a strange note with three names and their telephone numbers on it which had seemed to Ms Lancelyn Green "to be the beginning of a thriller novel".

The document had "Please keep these names safe" written on it.

So -- a mysterious death, eh? The game would appear to be afoot.

Meanwhile, my favourite American newspaper article is from the USA. Teacher accused of ordering a student to be thrown out of the window.

You know, when I was a boy, teachers threw their own students out of windows. They didn't get other students to do it for them. (The two boys later told principal Kenneth Daniels that they threw the girl out the window because they did not want to be written up for disobeying a teacher. Throwing other kids out of windows: just say no.)

Author, bon vivant, and connoisseur of filthy dictionaries Jonathan Carroll sent me a link to an obscene Italian online dictionary, filled with such gems as:

trombare (verb)
+ to copulate used as standard expression in Tuscany, it means have sex in a funny and no-problems way. litterally; playing the trumpet

and once I'd finished reading the Italian dictionary I found that the site is filled with unorthodox dictionaries in a great many languages and I discovered that, according to their Cantonese dictionary,

tset ha tset ha
(adv.) + stupid fool! 'tset' is the penis. 'tset ha tset ha' is to describe a person who are very ugly that really looks like the Penis! When you say 'tset' in Cantonese it is close to the number'seven' .So people in Cantonese may also say 'lay go yeun hol seven!' which means you are very ugly! you also looks like the penis!

A quick browse through a few more dictionaries and now I will never be able to look at Catalans the same way again, I think Hungarians are deeply amusing, and frankly, I hope that any Swedes reading this are properly ashamed of themselves.

Anyway, lots of great alternate words for anyone who may suddenly feel the need to swear on the radio or TV.


And somewhere in my mysteriously-missing-presumed-lost notebook (damn it. Or, with my new, international vocabulary, zoblings) I have an unfinished piece I was writing for this journal about the new Magnetic Fields CD "i". In the meantime here's an interview with Stephin Merritt from the New York Daily News.

Apropos of which, this just came in:

Dear Neil,

For all the Magnetic Fields fans in England, they are playing the Lyric in Hammersmith in London around the middle of June. Or so I've been to believe.


He's right -- the dates are June 10th, 11th and 12th, and the details are at


The final part of Arie Kaplan's series on Jews in Comics is up at


Steve Harley, of rock band of my youth Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, keeps a diary over at Now, I like much of Steve Harley's music, and I'm sure he's a very nice man, but as a diarist he's often a sort of rock and roll Pooter, with an unfortunate tendency to aim for profundity and miss the target completely, and is thus, unconsciously, quite often extremely funny.

[Extract removed following polite request.] [You have to go and read it all yourself now.]

On the other hand, punk god T.V. Smith's occasional diary entries are a joy -- here's his journey to play at a rock concert in Finland last summer

"Talking of which," says Jukka, "have you ever heard of the great Finnish sport of swamp football?" Seems two teams gather together in a swamp that goes up over their knees and attempt to kick a ball about. (...)
When we get back to Tampere we sit out on Jukka's balcony and crack open a beer. I tell him I am a bit worried about mosquitoes after they nearly ate me alive last time I came here in the Summer and he is moved to tell me of another Finnish sport, which involves fifty men standing in a large tent full of mosquitoes. Whoever has the most feeding on him after a given time wins.
Finally, one sport I could be good at.

I wonder if he's ever going to write a book.