Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy Holidays

Colmo: Virgin of the Snow

by Medbh McGuckian

As the year begins in Florence,
The stars north of the equator that never set
Push dying spacecraft further out
Like thinner back leaves.

The white roses do nothing to rescue it,
Becoming lowered eye, ivory ear,
Raised lips, then flowers again,
The cooler white of a silk.

Only the two big clouds were planned
So that both saints can stand,
Important, inner saints, aristocratic,
And expensively dressed,

Gold over powdered shell gold,
In the most protected part of the room.
Given that some wood would
Have been lost, the wings of both angels

Would have hung straighter.
And the edge of the inside wing
Of the most damaged angel
Must once have equalled the usual blue

Shadow meandering across the lap
Of the other seated angel.
The highlight on the ‘M’
Confirms the presence of silver,

But a sixth nail is missing
In the gap between her head and its element:
The closeness of the nails to each other
Is like snowflakes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Congrats!

Fellow writer and good friend Ekaterina Sedia sold her novel "The Secret History of Moscow" to Prime Books!

Congratulations and best of luck Kat!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Down To The Wire

Slate interview with David Simon, co-creator and writer of The Wire, the best show on TV, maybe ever, or as Eliabeth Merrick over at Bookslut puts it, the best novel of the year. The Wire certainly fits that bill, a notion reinforced by Simon himself.

The cold here is violent. Pigeons seem to inhabit Chicago more so than people and downtown at the Daley Center, there's a small flame burning in the plaza near the big Christmas tree. The pigeons hover around it, some within the flame itself, oblivious. It's even worse for the many homeless, who I've seen sleeping between garbage cans in alleys at the same time I'm thinking about that man in Oregon who died, looking for help for his family after they got stranded in the woods. You always get hit up for change - it's a given - and I have none. I am literally as poor as these people. They ask me for change for the bus, well, I'm walking like you because I don't have any change for the bus. I go to gallery shows and readings as much for the free food and wine as the culture. I have spent nearly a month searching for a job, and I seem to have come at a time when hiring is down across the board, or the jobs I am getting interviewed for have enormous competition. It might take weeks to hear back from them, and while I'm out actively searching for jobs, I don't have weeks. I count days in dollars.

Also counting down: The space shuttle.

UPDATE:



Without a hitch.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Solar Tsunami



The impossibly beautiful destruction on our sun. Just amazing.

Equally amazing is this Q&A with Joss Whedon, plus preview pages from the first issue of the new Buffy season 8 comic!

Me & John Edwards



Last week I went downtown to see John Edwards speak at the Chicago Public Library, and today I saw this picture of me meeting the Senator on his website. I've said before how supportive I am of him and his efforts against poverty; he if he decides to run in '08, I hope I'm able to support him in any way I can.

That book I'm holding in my hand is a journal I keep; it has artifacts from various periods in my life in it, and among them are some tickets I kept from the campaign in 2004. I had hoped he would be able to sign one, since I couldn't afford the book, but the people running the event were very zealous about him only signing copies. But, I got say hi, and my picture taken with him, so no worries.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Meme Time For Everything

My very first meme here on the blog, inspired by Chicago writer David Schwartz:

One book that changed your life:
The Hours, by Michael Cunningham. I read it in Dublin, in a day, and discovered that men could write about women, of women, in their voices, and more than successfully. It stunned me right out of my trepidation and naivete, and the next day for one of our workshop assignments I basically riffed on the book, exploring a Mrs. Kitchen who lived in small town Iowa, in the desolation of her life: the better part of her youth behind, her marriage perfunctory, her children alien to her and it was like discovering a new world for me. The Hours ultimately set me down the course I'm on now, straddling this line between 'literary' fiction and more or less science fiction (something Cunningham did himself in his follow-up, Specimen Days).

One book that you've read more than once:
The Hours, for one, but also A Confederacy of Dunces. I very rarely read books over; it's the same with movies or TV, though. I can't abide reruns. I do lots of spot reading/watching though, sections or segments I go back to from time to time like I'm nibbling on it or something. The only thing I repeat over and over is music.

One book you'd want on a desert island:
The Lord of the Flies.

One book that made you laugh:
Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson.

One book that made you cry:
I could be glib and say one that I wrote, since it made my brain hurt so bad, but there are lots of books that made me cry, including some I've mentioned already.

One book that you wish had been written:
Dignity: How To Maintain It In 3 Easy Steps

One book that you wish had never been written:
This is kind of like saying someone should have never been born.

One book you're currently reading:
The Art of Hunger, by Paul Auster, and Pincher Martin, by Golding, which I just discovered.

One book you've been meaning to read:
I have a mountain of books in Waterloo I've been meaning to read.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ground Water



Scientists may have found LIQUID water on Mars. And there's photographic evidence at CNN.

But since we're not going back to the moon in any substantial way for another 12 years, who's to say when we'll ever get those surfboards for Mars out. Who's to say we'll ever get to the moon at all. We've heard these promises before, and from more credible Presidents Bush. The Orion spacecraft designed to replace the shuttle, which may or may not take off tomorrow, won't come online until 2014, four years after the shuttles are retired in 2010. The pessimist part of me wonders just how long that gap will really be. NASA plans to go back to the moon on its present budget; very few people believe that's possible, and I imagine even fewer believe NASA's budget will be what it is now in ten years. On one hand, we live in an era of extraordinary discovery; every day we learn something new about our universe, and yet, we as explorers, actual physical explorers, are withdrawing from the promise of those new horizons. That never bodes well, for any society, in any period of human history.

Great audio interview with Kelly Link here.

Into The Dark

Wokka-wokka-wokka.

All is not despair:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mail

There is no end to the stories of sadness concerning the World Trade Center.

Writers at work. I especially like the Robert Burns one, and Emily Dickinson, too. Those two come closest to my situation. I inhabit writing. It's where I live most of the time, and as time goes on I am discovering that it makes me awkward outside of that cubby I hole up in. Not that I'm alone there. No writer is. There's a cast of thousands in there, all vying for attention, competing with real voices, real lives, the fragments of observation we take from our canvases of the outside world. I've been reading Paul Auster's The Art of Hunger, and in some of the interviews reprinted in the book, he talks about solitude - not as a choice, or necessity, but a simple human reflex. We're all alone. We know only our own thoughts, our own perspective. Writers enter their solitude in search of another's thoughts, another's perspective, novels a letter between minds, a paper bridge.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Delaney In '08

Peeps pick their sci-fi nominees for the LoA. Some rightly nominate Samuel R. Delaney, and he'd be my pick, too. A lot of his books are out of print and hard to find, though Vintage brought a few of them back a few years ago (my buddy Sugu had Delaney sign a copy of Dhalgren for me). I found one of his older titles at Goodwill once on a lark (Goodwill in Waterloo is actually a good place for books) and here in Chicago, I found a treasure chest of his older work at a place called Myopic Books. I had never seen any balance of his work all at once, and I was astounded. Money issues prevented me from buying them up, but I would love nothing more than to bring a big stack of them home.

This made me think of my story "Black Eyed Moon," in which a serious asteroid collides with the moon and causes some serious damage.