Friday, September 25, 2009

linky loos

Michael "Needs to Blog" Schaub again points us to the good stuff: Ellen Wernecke on The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. TMOP is a book that holds a place in my heart and was the first book by Michael Chabon that I ever read. The cover art was so ubiquitous at used book (and thrift) stores that I used to frequent that just seeing the colorful cursive script sends me back to my late teens. I love it, but I never need to read it again.


This is a few weeks old, but Robin's interview with Jerry Moriarty over at Inkstuds is super interesting, really funny and just good radio. Moriarty is a treasure trove of comics, art and NYC history and delivers all his stories in such a genuine manner that you just want to take him out for a falafel.


This story is so, so good in a way--almost equal to the amount of bad that the 90s in Philly served up.

Who cares about books? Let's look at deformed heads!

So, how did you find my blog? Did you Google an author and find one of my reviews? Perhaps you followed a link from another site touting my awesomeness. Maybe you even looked for me after we met somewhere.

Or, maybe, like the people below, you just poured your heart out to the internet and got stuck with me (search terms in bold): Do not send money! It will not work!
in exile, self-imposed- Yes, there are many lessons about creating this condition on tryharder. How to relieve it, not so much.
short excitement stories- The short ones are my favorite.
deformed head- Hmm…
deformed heads- Urr…
deformed heads pic- Just heads, or would you be fine with something else?
deformed head picture- Oh, ok. Deformed heads it is.
pictures of deformed heads- No need to get all fancy and use a phrase; you still won’t find such pictures here. Try Morbid Anatomy.
deformed brain picture- Well, that’s a whole nother thing…
adults with deformed heads pictures- I think pictures of children with deformed heads would be much cuter. No? Ok.
i think my head is deformed- You think? Be decisive.
i have a deformed head- That’s better.
i was born with deformed head, can i find love?- You are obviously not the only one. That’s something at least!
take deformed pictures- Here’s a thought: how about you take a normal picture of a deformed head? Lots of folks are looking for those.
how to surprise a gal- Maybe with a pic of a deformed head? They are very popular right now.
child bottoms voyeur- This is why Germans have a bad reputation.
shaved from head to toe- This is why New Zealanders should.
school quotes to make you work harder or try harder- How about “We don't pay anything, but you'll get a byline!”
how do i get my child to try harder- See above.
pray on my ass- hott.
what are in a nerds vocabulary?- Start with subject/verb agreement and go from there.
stories of strip tease contest- Those types of stories are full of drama.
frankenhooker where is my- … Garter belt? Chainsaw? Face?
how to try harder to make love better- I’m not sure that Googling is the best first step for this.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet

When I read the discussion over at Citizen Beta, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of How the Dead Dream. I am used to Millet being funny and exact, her stories steeped in the research behind them and the book they were describing seemed much more vague and traditional.

Instead of presidential obsessions and ghost physicists, Millet looks into the life of a money-obsessed boy named T. who turns into a calculating man with few attachments, the kind of guy who thinks things like this: “The market made a fool of you by giving you what you wanted. But this did not make him resent I; it merely earned his respect. From the day you were born you were called upon to discern what to choose.” I don’t read many books with unlikable protagonists so I was interested to see how T. and I would get along.

Of course, this being a novel, things have to change. T.’s emotional stillness is shaken up by increasingly uncomfortable events, culminating in a desperate bid for peace in a wild and dangerous landscape where money means nothing. The problem with this book is that I could anticipate every dip in T.’s fortune and even the means of each; it was boring to have guessed right every time. Millet seemed to want to give T. some depth and humanity with these turns in his fate and his subsequent actions, but it didn’t really work for me.

Millet’s writing kept me reading once I gave up on anything unusual happening with the book, but by the last section I just wanted to move on.

Monday, September 21, 2009

cannibalizing the listserv

The original content portion of tryharder has been meager recently. This will likely continue until I get some reviewing and school obligations out of the way. Of course, whenever I make a statement like this I end up unaccountably belching out reviews...


Save the Words is a site for hopeless wordlovers and fans of the obscure and Samuel Johnson groupies. Use it well, my friends.


The New York Times reports on books in the wild:
"It’s Only Natural, This Thing for Books"

If my books were free to exist in another habitat I think many of them would choose subway platforms and laundromats.


I wanted to catalog a collection of mine that could actually be finished during a sitcom, so I chose our cookbooks:

The books that are mine and both of ours are tagged in two collections, B's books are tagged in one collection. When I search my entire holdings, everything comes up. I think it works.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've been inspired by a recent school assignment to put my library, even in its diminished state, onto LibraryThing for cataloging purposes. I'm not sure if I have to make it public; if I don't, I might just keep it to myself for awhile.

Does anybody use it for your own library? For your work's library? For your group's library? Let me know!

Edited to Add:
Damn, this is addicting. I've only done 35 books so far and I could stay up all night...

Monday, September 14, 2009

There are no words for this.

From the Philadelphia Free Library's website:
"All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009."

The Inquirer covers it here.

Scare tactic or not, I grieve for my hometown.

In fact, I am so disgusted and dumbfounded I can't even write a proper eulogy.

Edited to add:
Here's how the FLP suggests that you help.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today is Fall

The first toad lily of the season. Pretty, but, a harbinger of cold weather.

A letter to a friend. You should write one too.

Making barley iced tea. Delicious.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"I'll be the mommy superhero and you'll be the daddy superhero"

I'm glad that that 3 year-old picked up on my daddy superhero vibe. Next time we'll not only save B and the baby, but the world!


Check out this great blog, The Deal With Disability, by Eva, a woman with cerebral palsy. She can't talk, is in a wheelchair and rocks a short haircut that seems to be very confusing to the people she meets. Her very presence seems to be so confusing, in fact, that people act like assholes to her all the time. So, to set them (and us) straight, she has strapped a video camera to her chair and presented videos of her daily interactions, with commentary.

While it may hurt to see yourself reflected in some of the targets of her camera, Eva's writing is really funny and her blog provides many teachable moments.


Quigley's Cabinet would have earned a place on the sidebar with just this entry on photographs, discovered in an estate sale, of vegetables taken by a proud English gardener of the fruits and vegetables he raised. But, she also blogs about giant insects, Cronenberg-movie inspirations, and dolphin-abusing eccentrics.

Monday, September 07, 2009

I am experiencing information overload. I have a few hours to finalize some research for a presentation on Tuesday and my brain is just stuck. My picker seems to be broken and I am having a hard time choosing what to include and how to structure the presentation. This is not a huge assignment, but as the hours count down, I am having the familiar feeling of wanting to think about other things while these notes hang like cinderblocks from my brain’s legs. It feels like now would be the perfect time to do so many other things, in fact almost anything else, a dangerous thought on such a beautiful fall evening.

The seduction of that “anything else” has been a traditional skidmark in my skivvies; I often choose moments—baking pumpkin bread as the sun goes down, reading a book under the fan, the complete satisfaction of taking a nap with the radio on—instead of the larger goal, such as making money or passing that class. These choices have left me with many forgettable moments of reprieve, but very few blocks with which to build my life. As I get older this has become increasingly unacceptable, but still, here I am typing this instead of that.

Wish me focus, kids.

Friday, September 04, 2009

I just put a bunch of these onto a list in my nypl account to order later. Old stories, the way it was, the same old shit on a different day thing isn't doing it for me right now.


Eleanor Davis just announced a new kids' adventure comic called The Secret Science Alliance. The art is great; check out the hideout. Don't you want to live there?


I just finished a letter to an old friend. Sitting here looking at the stack of mail going out today I was reminded of a time, about eight or so years ago, when another old friend let me look through an archive of letters I had sent him. I expected to be reminded of stuff I had forgotten in the ensuing years, some small bits of gossip or observation that I could enjoy again, and perhaps I could see if my writing had developed at all in the intervening time.

Every letter was the same. The same turns of phrase, the same to-do lists, the same complaints were in each envelope--spanning roughly 2 years of writing. At first it was eerie, then very sad. It was the perfect metaphor for those years of inertia and a stern warning about lost time.

These days my letters are a bit more lively, I hope. There is certainly a lot going on. On a good day I can work some of it out on the page before my hands cramp up into claws. And, if I ever get to see another archive of my letters, years from now when the garden is overgrown and the bookshelves permanent, I'll know how I got to that glorious future.

Now, I've got some reading to do.

Right after posting this, I went to the mailbox and found the perfect letter about letter-writing from my maple leaf lady friend. I can't wait to write back.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My first day of classes was today.