I’ve been speaking to Elizabeth Sigmund …
Oh God, have you? I mean gabble, gabble, gabble, gabble … Has she some new stories for you?
(From a recent interview with Olwyn Hughes, Ted Hughes’ older sister. There’s a great, canny description of Olwyn in The Silent Woman as acting like a “mother quail outrageously flying into the face of a predator to divert him from the chicks scurrying to safety” in her role as agent of Plath’s estate. Anyway, as ongoing biographical squabbles go, I appreciate how vivid all the women involved here are: Plath most of all of course, but Dido Merwin with her venom, Olwyn’s contempt. Gabble gabble gabble.)
Somewhere in there the photo search got a little off track.
“The wisest thing—so the fairy tale taught mankind in olden times, and teaches children to this day—is to the meet the forces of the mythical world with cunning and high spirits.”
- From Walter Benjamin’s “The Storyteller.”
“Do you know what I wanna do? Do you know what I wanna do?… Strut.” (Via the Bustillos.)
“I’m fine. Let’s go get drunk and listen to music.”
—from Birds of America, by Lorrie Moore
Marie Lorena Moore was born today in 1957 in Glens Falls, New York, and nicknamed “Lorrie” by her parents.
Ahhhh, Lorrie Moore. When Birds of America came out, Max gave me a new copy right before I was wheeled into surgery.
From Anagrams: “God, all that oral sex and now we’re talking to each other like bureaucrats.”
The Miraculous Exploits of Princess Michael of Kent:
My impolite analysis of Marie-Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz, aka Princess Pushy, aka Britain’s most loathed royal.
All the hound and I are doing today. (I’m rereading the fuck out of Our Mutual Friend.)
Meanwhile, over at The Awl, the Year In Advice series is underway—and there’s some pretty fantastic entries already up and planned for the next week. Start here!
He “placed a serendipitous phone call to Michael Bell, a Rhode Island folklorist, who had devoted much of the previous decade to studying New England vampire exhumations.”
So do you, uh, major in that? Can you intern? WHAT DOES ONE HAVE TO DO TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL STUDIER OF VAMPIRE EXHUMATIONS?
Today, while photo searching.
They sell these Lord Byron’s Smoker’s Candles in the WalMart checkout line for about $4. I finally unwrapped mine the other week; it smells like citronella and dish soap, not dog and mouldering palazzo as hoped. (Related: Sherlock’s Delight Florida Citrus sold by the Holmes Fruit Company of Tampa.)
Lessons learned: A seven year old is old enough to appreciate how good the dog looks with her ears pulled back, but not yet old enough to appreciate how much it makes her (the dog) look like Audrey Hepburn.
The Chimerist: dwell in possibility:
I probably wouldn’t have bought it if I’d known two years ago what I know now about the conditions for workers who make it, but I wake up with my iPad and go to sleep with it. It’s my alarm clock, my nighttime and commuting library, my dictionary, my hand-held radio, my portable…
A new site about art, stories, and technology that I’m doing with Laura Miller.
Happy Lord Byron’s Birthday! The 224th this year. The book I’m working on is about him, which is how I know; but even if you haven’t been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking/writing about a long-dead Romantic poet, his birthday would make a great, wider holiday. I wish it’d catch on, possibly in lieu of some other winter holiday that’s either dull (Presidents’ Day) or mostly makes people unhappy (Valentine’s). So many ways to observe it. Ill-advised sleeping around, most obviously; pistol-shooting around the house; planning elaborate burial tombs for one’s pets; commissioning a Napoleonic carriage (or equivalent) and taking it abroad without ever paying for it; etc. etc. I wasn’t sure how I’d celebrate, but this morning settled on a mall trip for some Touche Éclat — as purchase of overpriced item bought in vain (both senses of the word) hope of staving off 40-something inevitableness of looking like I’ve been up all night being ass-reamed by a family of giant squid seems right in line with the spirit of the day.
Quasi-related to Muhammad Ali’s birthday: This bit from Remnick’s bio of Ali, about Floyd Patterson’s preparations for his title fight with Sonny Liston, is so quietly horrific:
A fake beard and mustache! Poor Floyd.
Susan Miller’s description of her Parrot Fever in this month’s Gemini horoscope is the best bit of authorial intrusion I’ve seen in a while. If I ever survived Parrot Fever I probably would be working it into everyone’s horoscopes too.
“Ludwig II of Bavaria is said to have honoured certain particularly impressive trees in his park by having them saluted.” Random factoid tossed into paragraph of Carl Jung’s Alchemical Studies: So many questions! How saluted? Twice daily, or just occasionally?
“Perhaps another family scandal—Reverend Sayers’s elderly brother Cecil had recently separated from his second wife after he had been caught in flagrante with a much younger woman in the potting shed—took the sting out of Dorothy’s announcement.” My goodness!
I didn’t know this: When Angela Carter died she was working ”on a novel about Jane Eyre’s stepdaughter for which she’d submitted a synopsis: Adele was going to fall in love with a schoolteacher, seduce her own father and watch her mother being guillotined; it was going to play ‘some tricks with history … But then it is a novel.’”
New Year’s Eve at The Bywater.
From this book (which is great).
Out to dinner with my friends L. and W. They told a story about going to attend a meeting of the Rationalists Society of East Tennessee, walking into a room crowded with people swaying back and forth, hands in the air, music playing, and slowly, slowly realizing they were in the wrong room.