Sunday, July 29, 2012


Fear not, children. No soap is involved.
Unfortunately, neither are Brad Pitt's abs.
I'm not winning at internet communication this week. I totally failed to put up a WTFSIRF yesterday, I missed most of the #PtBiB drinkalong, and now I'm trying to talk myself out of continuing a nasty exchange of Facebook remarks with a racist jerkface on a friend's wall by posting about something wonderful. To wit, WRiTE CLUB 2012! The brainchild of the splendid & generous DL Hammons, WRiTE CLUB is a super-simple, super-awesome, unusually fun & interactive writing competition for folks who are interested in getting their work out in front of some thoughtful readers and possibly some agents, editors, and ultra-friendly-and-helpful published authors. It's so easy that you have no excuse not to join in. You submit an anonymous 500-word sample, any style, any genre (including poetry, kids!), self-contained or a selection from a work in progress. Then, staring July 30th, every week for 12 weeks (and possibly twice a week, sez DL, because lots of people are participating!) two submissions will be picked at random and go head to head (hence, you know, the title reference) with people voting for their favorite selection in the comments. Winners advance to a "playoff" round that starts in October.

Eep, public voting? Ack! Halp! Horror! Except, um, not actually. You've got to register to vote (and while we're at it, November's not very far away, kids, know the laws in your district and come to the polls registered and prepared if there are ID requirements!! which there aren't here, hooray) and I can say from experience that the readers & writers in DL's circle are kind souls and not horrible flamers. (Unlike me. Today I was a horrible flamer. I gave in to temptation. I should not have done it, because it was not constructive and I knew it wouldn't be constructive. It's just, when somebody tries to use "science" to justify their deeply racist statements, I can't back off. Because, you know, I'm Jewish, and that shit don't fly after the Holocaust, son. Or actually ever. Ever.) So, anyway, I think they are lovely people, and I'm not utterly terrified to put 500 words of my work up in front of them. Especially anonymously. Because submitting is hard and scary and this is just about the nicest way I can think of to do it. As DL says,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Putting the Active Back in Interactive: Why the Exploratorium Continues to Win at Everything

The shiny new home of the Exploratorium in 2013!
In my eyes, anyway. Some subjectivity may follow.

So, as some of you know, I have recently returned to the SF Bay Area after many years in Massachusetts. There were a number of reasons for my return, not the least of which was that I become vicious and cruel when the relative humidity hits 50% my awesomeness has a tendency to wilt in humid weather, and spending the summer in MA is kinda like trying to live normally while wrapped in hot wet blankets. (Yeah, yeah, I know, there are worse places, but I'M STILL ALLOWED TO COMPLAIN because, see, I moved away.) But I also came back to the Bay to, well, start work on the Museum. See, since I currently know approximately nothing whatsoever about the actualities of running a museum, I figured now would be a good time to learn. And one of the greatest museums in the world is right here in San Francisco. My dad worked there when he was 22. I've been going there since before my 2nd birthday. Man, the first nightmare I can ever remember having was set there. (That might not sound like praise, but it is -- it got WAY into my head, yo. I was all alone and it was dark and the exhibits were looking at me. This is no longer a scary thought.) Yes, I've talked about it before -- this is the Exploratorium, guys,


and maybe just the best museum, full stop.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What The F!#& Should I Read Friday: Indian Tales

What the F!#& Should I Read Friday: Books to Make Your Weekend Weird & Wonderful

Aw man, you guys, this is a special one. I'm sorry it's so late in the day. I suck at posting in a timely manner. It's already totally Saturday if you're on the East Coast, and I even managed to not tell you that I have a guest post up at Tossing It Out today! Arlee, who runs Tossing It Out and several other swell blogs, not to mention being a major host of the A-Z Challenge, decided he wanted some of his readers to hijack his blog for a month or two, and the result has been some super-awesome posts. I am very honored to be a recipient of such generosity, because Arlee is sharing his hard-earned and extremely kind-hearted audience and it's a pleasure to put my work in front of them.

So this book! This book is so wonderful. It's also very weird if you come from traditional Western culture and you think children's stories are supposed to have princes in them. William Carlos Williams called Jaime De Angulo, who wrote this book, "one of the most outstanding authors I have ever encountered," and that's, um, no small peanuts in the praise department, guys. It's kind of a poem and kind of a folktale and kind of a...well...maybe you have a few questions?

1. Who the f!#& wrote this book?
2. What the f!#& is it about?
3. Where the f!#& should I read this book?
4. When the f!#& is it set?
5. Why the f!#& should I read it? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

What The F!#& Should I Read Friday: Bonesheperds

What the F!#& Should I Read Friday: Books to Make Your Weekend Weird & Wonderful

Bonesheperds by Patrick Rosal

Today, my fanciful friends, today I've got poetry for you. No, don't run away! If you don't like poetry, I think you should keep reading just for a minute. I know, I know, we poem-lovers always say this: trust me, you'll like this one, the same way that people who like Brussels sprouts are forever trying to convince those of us who utterly loathe them that it's just because you haven't had their delicious recipe yet - which infallibly turns out to taste like, well, everything we loathe about Brussels sprouts, quelle surprise.

Except once I actually did have Brussels sprouts I liked so much I asked for seconds. No, really! IT TOTALLY HAPPENED. And thus I entreat you to believe that it is possible that there are poems in the universe that you might really like even if you usually hate poems, because miracles are possible! Really! Especially when you pick up a book like this one, which, oh man, might kinda blow your mind. Maybe you're unconvinced? Maybe you think you know what poetry's like and you doubt its ability to kick you in the gut? (Maybe I shouldn't assume you hate poetry. But just in case...) Listen, let me just quote you an interview Patrick Rosal did last month for Lantern Review, in which he talks a lot about poetry's relationship to music. "Music is not loyal to certainty," he says. "When it works, it follows surprise." I invite you, dear reader, to be surprised, and thus, without further ado...

1. Who the f!#& wrote this book?
2. What the f!#& is it about?
3. Where the f!#& should I read this book?
4. When the f!#& is it set? 
5. Why the f!#& should I read it? 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Things in My Cabinet: Magical Realism is Actually Just Realism

Here is the Lady K. That top window? is part of a GIANT
USED BOOKSTORE. Also, the cafe is named after a
LADY PIRATE. And they serve BEER. It is all of
the awesome. Via Lauren C. on Yelp.
Just before I left Western Mass, I was in my most favoritest cafe, just, y'know, failing to read The Fellowship of the Ring because I was flirting with the barista (who happens to be my boyfriend, which is great, because he flirts back like he means it) and a guy I know sat down next to me with a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude. I mentioned I had recently reread it after trying it and completely failing to like it at the age of 16 or so, when I couldn't keep all the Arcadios and Aurelianos apart (I still can't, but now I suspect I'm not really supposed to, plus I found the family tree in the front of the book this time and bookmarked it, son) and had come away this time liking it okay. Which makes me feel wildly guilty, because it is Great Literature and all that, and a book snob like me is supposed to think it's the greatest thing since paperbacks! But...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

We Interrupt Your Scheduled Programming... announce that there will be no What The F!#& Should I Read Friday this week because tomorrow I will be on a plane and not Writing About Books as I would prefer to be. But Jericha, I hear you say, you could just write the post RIGHT NOW and SCHEDULE it for tomorrow! Well yes, technically, but I am typing this in a tiny hippie cafe in the middle of nowhere, Vermont, population 83, and I'm about to go hike up a mountain to say goodbye to New England in properly dramatic form and therefore feel excused from doing anything that might be considered productive today. So instead I'm going to give you a slice of one of the world's greatest and weirdest movies to check out, and you'll just have to be happy with that. Did you know Dr Seuss wrote a movie? Because he totally did, and it's about a evil piano teacher and it scared the holy bajeezus out of me when I was about four and it is ALL OF THE AWESOME. Also, weird but true? The kid in this movie? I was way close to his grandson back in high school and had NO IDEA until one random day when I mentioned the movie and said grandson was like "oh yeah, that was my grandpa." Which remains, in my mind, utterly fabulous and interesting although it's probably more like me saying "guys guys guess what I totally listened to that one song before it was famous!" whereupon everybody gives a total absence of flying f!#&s. Regardless, this movie is AH MAY ZING and also it is a musical. So here it is. go find the whole thing because it is EVEN BETTER and weirder and more Seussian. I will write to you again from the other side of the country!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Things In My Cabinet: This Land Is My Land

Look at that adorable kid. Via Brand New Traveler's Eyes
This past Thursday morning I did something I have never done before. I wore a burqa. It was a full burqa, handmade and hand-embroidered, a beautiful deep midnight blue color. The woman who was drawing me found it in a vintage shop in Pittsfield; she asked me to wear it as part of a series she is doing on transparency and opacity, on the complex veils we drop between public and private. (She's also doing a nun, a Virgin Mary, etc etc...) She told me bluntly that the burqa itself, just as a garment sitting on a dressmaker's dummy in her studio, really deeply unsettled her, and she wanted to come face to face with that. She explained that she'd originally thought of asking a Muslim woman of her acquaintance to model it, but her friend isn't at home in a burqa any more than I am, and in the end she asked me because - well, I guess because I went to Hampshire College and learned about feminist discourse and othering and the subaltern and all that, and also, maybe, because she knows I'm a bellydancer and there's nothing I love more than beautiful drapey blue satin. Even in a more, hmmm, challenging context.

So, okay. I'm going to say a slightly shouty thing. Here it is: America is a pretty good country in a lot of ways. It is not, however THE BEST COUNTRY EVAAAAR, and it does not have a particular moral monopoly on righteousness. But you could be easily fooled on that one. Google the word "burqa" and most of what you'll get is a bunch of Americans doing the one-note scream about OPPRESSION ZOMG. In the past, I've figured that this is because Americans like it when other countries are less than awesome, because then they can feel really good about themselves and America and whatnot and continue to believe that All We Do Is Win, etc. But now I'm thinking that maybe that? is actually a simplistic view of a simplistic view. Because, well, things looked a little different from under the burqa...
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