Saturday, June 26, 2004

I guess it's time for me to (briefly) weigh on the big debate of the year: Wilco's A Ghost Is Born.

It's good. Not as good as Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or Summerteeth but better than what most people are listening too. (trust me, I've watched some MTV the last few days.) Like Radiohead's latest, it's uneven, a little full of itself, and overly long - but these are little criticisms we can forgive because we're talking about Wilco here.

Is that fair? Should a band be given more room to fuck up because they've accomplished brilliant things in the past? We do that for directors and actors and other "mainstream" things, why not weird indie bands?

To answer: No, it's not fair. Yes, we should. And, yes, mainstream is apparently synonymous with suckiness and therefore, by lower standards, this album is brilliant.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I just watched one of the best Tennis matches I've ever seen. You've heard about it already. Karolina Sperm, nineteen years old, unseeded, first time in Wimbeldon, defeating, in straight sets, two-time Wimbledon champion, two-time runner-up Venus Fuckin' Williams.

I've been a loyal Tennis watcher for close to a decade now and I haven't seen a match that tennis, dramatic, and eventful since...a very long time. The Women's Australian Open final of 2002 comes close (battling severe heat) and the classic Man-In-Black Sampras v. Agassi match of the US Open.

The big Chair Umpire mistake during the second set tie-break is going to cause big controversy, but take it from me, Sprem would have won anyway. She saved four (count'em - four!) set points over the course of the match. Lost her confidence once or twice, came back, forced Williams into errors and desperate maneuvers that just doesn't happen. Even the best in the game - Davenport, Hingis, Capriti - can't cause Williams sister that much grief.

I am in awe.

Reminds me of the first time I saw Justine Henin-Hardenne play and was blown away by the most gorgeous backhand I've ever seen.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love the Williams sisters. I hate when they play against each other in Finals because they obviously dislike it but I usually love watching them kick the crap out of any opponent. But I was rooting for Sprem here. She won me over almost instantaneously with a rousing opening few games that clearly showed an incredible player. I don't know if she's "the next big thing," frankly I don't know if she's going to win her next match; it doesn't matter. Her achievement today, stepping onto Centre Court, arguably the largest most watched tennis stage, and beating a Williams sister (that should be in double-bold, with gold-plated highlights) is easily the most amazing thing I've seen in Tennis. Wow.

(And the added bonus of the umpire mistake is going to be like LSD-dipped-candy to the English press who will go to sleep tonight dreaming brilliantly colored dreams.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Woo-hoo, I got reviewed. First time for everything. A really nice, long, write-up on the chapbook. Thanks to Amber for the heads-up.

More, please.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Ever have a day that's a theme?

Today my theme is "Firsts, Again." First time I've been behind the wheel a car for eight years. Last time was my driving test when I was sixteen. I know everyone fails their first time, but it really depressed me. I'll be honest - I didn't want to drive that much anyway. I was a teenager in NYC, obsessed with the subway system and being an unconformist, I thought I would rebel even more by not getting a license. Also, the driving instructor lady (think a black Ursula from The Little Mermaid) scared the shit out of me. But, I drove today and it was cool and I didn't kill myself (or anybody else) and I even parked well. I'm still not a huge fan of driving - and personally believe that cars are the single most destructive element to our environment - but I realize I need to drive to live here in Florida and I'm willing to do that.

Second, I watched Wimbeldon! Yeah. My favorite Grand Slam, the BEST fortnight of the year for any true tennis fan, and the first time I've had a TV and been able to watch for a loooong time. And, in true Wimbeldon tradition - the home of traditions - rain delays up the wazoo! I think we're at five separate rain delays at the moment. And even though it kinda sucks and they're repeating a lot of the same matches, it means (as always) chaos during the next few days as Second and Third matches will overlap and probably having more tennis being played in the coming week than usual, which is great for fans! After watching some of the French Open a few weeks ago, I am primed and ready to follow my favorite event of my favorite sport (barring actual work). Cross your fingers for me. :)

Also, another tradition, over the next two weeks, I expect to spend a lot of time here.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Apologies for the silence!

I thought Blogger hated me and would just not let me publish an entry. I wrote up a big thing (right below) almost entirely twice. finally, today, I tried again, and it worked. I'm on a crappy AOL connection; forgive me.

By the way, I'm having a great time in Florida. :)

Saturday, June 05, 2004

"Here I am, Just a man, Is this light flattering?"

Hey everybody! Apologies for the lack of updates. I've been as occupied as a plane lavatory on an 18-hour flight.

First things first: I'm enjoying the bright blue skies and beaches and bikinis of Florida. It's taken me a little while to lose the jeans and get use to the heat but I'm definitely in vacation mode. Got my computer fixed (thanks UPS for ignoring the Fragile signs), got "fun stuff," and just settling into living with my mom. In a month, if all goes according to plan, I'll be going to Israel with a one-way ticket and..well, I don't know what will happen after that. I may settle, get a job, find myself an Israeli beauty, and live in a country stricken with unholy violence but amazing beauty and history. In the past, everytime I've set foot in Israel, I've felt as if not just my surroundings but my life was totally upturned. It's the country of my parents and my people and is a great source of inspiration and clarity. I'm looking forward to it.

Next: WISCON. Man, that was fun! I'm not a big fan of conventions, too much socializing or quasi-serious discussions, for me, it's always been about the people I could meet. The writers and editors and fans that remind me why I even do this whole "writing" thing. Thankfully, I met a lot of great people for the first time, reacquainted with old aquatinences, friends. Despite feeling a little like a teenager in an R-rated movie, everyone was really nice. Shout-outs: Chris Barzak! Have we ever met in the same place? Seems like everytime we chill it's in a different city and that just adds to the coolness. Next stop? Japan. OKAY. Kristin and Alan! As always, wonderful to see you both. You two are like the coolest set of parents a 24-year-old could ask for me. Kind, considerate, and hard-working. THANK YOU for the awesome party (sorry I didn't sing.) Barth! Nice to briefly see you again. Cute kid! (not barth, the little one.) Worthy of your attention. Thank the four of you for the awesome chapbook, once again, and for NOT being bastards or rats just friends. To the "tall and friendly pro crew," Gavin, Kelly, Richard, Barb, Christopher R., Gwenda; big high-fives for being cool and especially Gavin and Kelly who do a wonderful job at Small Beer Press. Lots of great free stuff behind that link!

More (boring) shoutouts: David Schwartz and Ben Rosenbaum! Two great writers I was honored to share a small room with. I will wait with bated breath to read any next piece by either of you guys. (People who aren't them: be SURE to check out Ben's brilliant "Other Cities" chapbook which I screamed through on one of the delayed plane flights on the memorable day of May 31st AND Shwartz has got a whole bunch of stories in every single small press mag out there (apparently) and also started a really cool, really interesting new mag called The Dogtown Review.) Tracy and Jennifer! Great to see you two again. Despite popular belief, friendly people do not grow on trees so I appreciate reallly friendly people. Dela and Gremlin! My smoking buddies. Thank you for keeping me company on my many sojourns outside to smoke and catch a well-needed break from the swarms of people. Kevin Kage! Always great to see you at these thingees. Keep up the singing, man, and be sure to inform me when you've got a CD out, cause I want it! Haddayr Copely-Woods! Great to meet you and read a little of your work in the previous Ratbastards book. See you again? Yeah? COOL. Lomax! Been tooo long. Sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye (ooops), it was great seeing you again. And a whole bunch of other people I'm sure I'm forgetting but will remember next time I see you.

Highlight of the con was definitely Saturday night. The wild Ratbastards party, signing a couple chapbooks, attending a great, great reading and just enjoying the hell of a night. If only it didn't have to end so early.

Also, bought all kinds of books! Going through them slowly. Already mentioned Ben Rosenbaum's "Other Cities." I am LOVING Kalpa Imperial by Angelica Gorodischer. Breaks all the rules I ever heard about writing but glorious and warm and totally, totally engrossing. I love how the author just talks to the reader instead of the cold shield that sometimes separates the two. I've wanted to incorporate a more "conversational tone" into my own stories for awhile; this is like my new bible. Translated by Ursula K. LeGuin and wonderfully, but! once again, my mind goes: "you need to learn Spanish!" New goal in life; and then I can read this and One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original prose. Got a Carol Emswhiller collection I've been looking for awhile as well as a bunch of other chapbooks and the latest issues of some cool small mags that are chock-full of brilliant stories.

Finally. The chapbook I am honored to be in, the new Ratbastards: Petting Zoo. (which you should buy!) I was thrilled when I read the TOC, now i'm positively ecstatic. These stories are great. You read them and then wonder why more stuff like this isn't published in the genre? Mary Rickert's horror-ish sculpture tale, "Art is Not a Violent Subject" starts off the rollercoaster ride. My friends from the Academy of Art who love this piece. Not only is well-written, it's fucked up in the most amazing way. John(zo) Aegard's "The Golden Age of Fire Escapes" is hilarious (!!) comedic SF. I don't understand this guy! Back in '98, I was amazed (while rolling on the floor laughing) at his ideas and imagination. With this new story, his prose, his characters, and his over-active imagination just really gels. Love the imagery, the titles, the characters. Four stars, yo! "Five Irrational Heroes" by David Moles (who I only just met so have no reason to be nice too) is a little gold-gem of a story. The title would have you believe I'm talking about some sort of long, revionist, epic, but in fact, this is a tight, sometimes subtle, fascinating, well-researched, look at humanity. No, really! Love the PKD reference at the end.

David Lomax's "How to Write an Epic Fantasy" contained more than a few laugh out loud moments. I'm not a reader of epic fantasies but I still enjoyed the hell out of it (and, of course, now if I decide to write one, I don't have to read one.) David, also, has a hilarious style that mimics his personality (yep. they're Canadians) and it really works here. Not over the top, not too short or thrifty, but extremely well-balanced. I kept wondering how many rewrites it went through. I'll skip over "Ophelia and the Beast." It's alright. Finally, Amber van Dyk's "Storyville," in my opinion, the highlight. One word. Okay, two. Fucking wow! I fell in love more times reading this story then when I spent the whole day wandering around the London Underground one time. These sentences (these epic sentences) are pieces of art. They should be sold for thousands of dollars each! I've read some of Amber's work before online but this drops a bomb on her previous stuff and incinerates it. Extremely, extremely, impressive use of language and alliteration. Amber, you were sincerely missed at Wiscon. Oh. And editors and publishers of the world, can you make this woman a celebrity? Please?

And that's my gush-filled, totally biased, review! :)