Author Archive

“All I can do is wish you well”

RIP, Mr. King

“K, wow fibad difer”

“So what’s it gonna take, silver shadow believer?”

Out Like Pluto, “Le Disko” (Shiny Toy Guns cover)

“Who would do such a thing if not for…love?”

“And now, unfortunately, we’re back to the impression that this book is daunting. Which it isn’t, really. It’s long, but there are pleasures everywhere. There is humor everywhere. There is also a very quiet but very sturdy and constant tragic undercurrent that concerns a people who are completely lost, who are lost within their families and lost within their nation, and lost within their time, and who only want some sort of direction or purpose or sense of community or love. Which is, after all and conveniently enough for the end of this introduction, what an author is seeking when he sets out to write a book– any book, but particularly a book like this, a book that gives so much, that required such sacrifice and dedication. Who would do such a thing if not for want of connection and thus of love?

Last thing: In attempting to persuade you to buy this book, or check it out of your library, it’s useful to tell you that the author is a normal person. Dave Wallace– and he is commonly known as such– keeps big sloppy dogs and has never dressed them in taffeta or made them wear raincoats. He has complained often about sweating too much when he gives public readings, so much so that he wears a bandanna to keep the perspiration from soaking the pages below him. He was once a nationally ranked tennis player, and he cares about good government. He is from the Midwest– east-central Illinois, to be specific, which is an intensely normal part of the country (not far, in fact, from a city, no joke, named Normal). So he is normal, and regular, and ordinary, and this is his extraordinary, and irregular, and not-normal achievement, a thing that will outlast him and you and me, but will help future people understand us– how we felt, how we lived, what we gave to each other and why.” – Dave Eggers’ introduction to the 10th anniversary paper back edition of Infinite Jest

And how horrible a thing it is, that, just nine years after Dave Eggers wrote those words, DFW has already outlived his monumental novel. Eggers’ pathological hatred of sentence breaks aside, I think he does a good job here capturing just what makes Infinite Jest so special: it is an difficult, extraordinary work, told largely in simple, ordinary stories. The characters and scenes of the book themselves are easy to understand, for the most part. Many are even effortlessly entertaining in the way that some of DFW’s more relaxed essays are. But together they create a potent work of longing, loneliness, and existential need that rewards those willing to doing the non-trivial work of figuring out the pieces.

I’m currently reading the book a second time and getting much more out of it than I did my first time around. For one, there are a lot of pieces to the work and it pays to have some remembered familiarity with the characters and the set dressing.

But more importantly, in the years since I’ve read it, I’ve had many more brushes with the darker materials that the book evokes. And while my life in the interviewing seven or so years has been some sort of charmed, it has contained within those years enough terrible times and enough hideous events to give me greater sympathy for the lostness that Eggers mentions. I have had my Harold Incandenza moments and my Don Gately moments. And moments reminiscent of so many other characters from the book. This time around, I think, the work of reading Infinite Jest is easier and more rewarding, in part, because I am a more fit reader.

It is sad that Infinite Jest has already outlived its normal, noble creator, but I think Eggers is right that this is one of those rare books that can help us to understand just what lostness looks like. And if that gives us a little more empathy for one another as fellow lost creatures, maybe it’s also one of those rare books that can actually make us better human beings.

“God knows I’m no Bobby Fischer”

I was just recently hipped to London-based quintet The Tigercats. This track, “Junior Champion”, is off of their recently-released Sophomore album Mysteries

“Dadu dach tach ta”

Nastya Maslova, “D’n’B Song”

Random Kid, Both Flesh and Not

“Velocity’s just one part of it. Now we’re getting technical. Tennis is often called a “game of inches,” but the cliché is mostly referring to where a shot lands. In terms of a player’s hitting an incoming ball, tennis is actually more a game of micrometers: vanishingly tiny changes around the moment of impact will have large effects on how and where the ball travels. The same principle explains why even the smallest imprecision in aiming a rifle will still cause a miss if the target’s far enough away.

By way of illustration, let’s slow things way down. Imagine that you, a tennis player, are standing just behind your deuce corner’s baseline. A ball is served to your forehand — you pivot (or rotate) so that your side is to the ball’s incoming path and start to take your racket back for the forehand return. Keep visualizing up to where you’re about halfway into the stroke’s forward motion; the incoming ball is now just off your front hip, maybe six inches from point of impact. Consider some of the variables involved here. On the vertical plane, angling your racket face just a couple degrees forward or back will create topspin or slice, respectively; keeping it perpendicular will produce a flat, spinless drive. Horizontally, adjusting the racket face ever so slightly to the left or right, and hitting the ball maybe a millisecond early or late, will result in a cross-court versus down-the-line return. Further slight changes in the curves of your groundstroke’s motion and follow-through will help determine how high your return passes over the net, which, together with the speed at which you’re swinging (along with certain characteristics of the spin you impart), will affect how deep or shallow in the opponent’s court your return lands, how high it bounces, etc. These are just the broadest distinctions, of course — like, there’s heavy topspin vs. light topspin, or sharply cross-court vs. only slightly cross-court, etc. There are also the issues of how close you’re allowing the ball to get to your body, what grip you’re using, the extent to which your knees are bent and/or weight’s moving forward, and whether you’re able simultaneously to watch the ball and to see what your opponent’s doing after he serves. These all matter, too. Plus there’s the fact that you’re not putting a static object into motion here but rather reversing the flight and (to a varying extent) spin of a projectile coming toward you — coming, in the case of pro tennis, at speeds that make conscious thought impossible. Mario Ancic’s first serve, for instance, often comes in around 130 m.p.h. Since it’s 78 feet from Ancic’s baseline to yours, that means it takes 0.41 seconds for his serve to reach you.(9) This is less than the time it takes to blink quickly, twice.” – DFW,”Federer, Both Flesh and Not”

“Through the fire and the flames we carry on”

Come for the incredible guitar technique, stay for the look of sheer boredom.

A Koan

The security Student asked the security Master, “at what point will my threat model be complete?”

The Master produced two coins, one silver and one gold. He placed both coins in his left hand and closed his fist around them. From his fist he withdrew the silver coin, which he placed in the pocket of his robes.

“What coin is in my hand?” The Master asked.

“The gold.” The Student replied.

The Master opened his hand. Both the silver and the gold coin remained.

He closed his hand again. This time he withdrew the gold coin and placed it in the pocket of his robes.

“Which coin is in my hand?”

“The silver.”

The master opened his hand. Both the silver and the gold coin remained.

The master closed his hand again.

“When I withdraw the next coin from my hand, what coin do you think will remain?” The Master asked.

“Both of them, clearly!” The student replied.

The master reached into his hand and withdrew a copper coin.

And the student was enlightened.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.