Thursday, June 19, 2008

Live Blogging my DONE To-Do List: 1. Auto-Fun - DONE, 2. Book Club/B-Day Contest Info- - DONE

I completed the auto-fun last night, and then said: "Now I am tired and must retire to my chambers. There are bunnies and littlefoots waiting for me with tea and crumpets and a lullaby. Tonight's lullaby will be "Major Tom" sung by the Langely School Choir. I'll do the book club stuff tomorrow at the end of the auto-fun."

It is now the bright shiny morning of our content, and scroll down for all things Junot Diaz and LJLBF (those are my brother Lewis's initials, in full).

quote: "And how I feel right now about that is a little sad because I want to live so much and have all my time and do so many things. So I have to attend to the thing in front of me because if I am not focused I can get overwhelmed by my desire to do everything still, yet as they say the clock is ticking and I won't get to it all. I can't. And the impossibility of that choice, of the everything when I was young, that choice made me a poet because I could have some purchase on everything and do a little bit of it all day." (Eileen Myles, "Live Through That?!")

1. An advantage to my elite education is that I was compelled to read this entire story from start to finish: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education (@the american scholar)
2. Gay Men and Straight Women Have Similar Brains, Study Says (@the la times)
3. Another great Dirty Girls Review. (@city paper)
4. Rich people actually are happier than poor people. Ta-da! (@portfolio)
5. OMG, this is really sweet. (@the planet podcast)
6. "there's still nothing like a good old-fashioned hardback." Editorial Notebook (@nytimes)
7. Top Ten Family Guy Newscasts (
8. Interview with Drag Historian Joe E. Leffreys (@naked city @the village voice)
9. Media Bitchery: The Definitive Biography. (@gawker)
The Microfame Game. .A lot of feelings about this. (@nymag)
Y'all rocked the Birthday Contest. You made me & Lewis laugh & smile over and over. The videos! The Jesus-postcards, personally selected songs, e-cards, animated postcards, personal photographs etc. -- y'all blew me away. SO it's hard to pick a winner. I shouldn't hold contests, I feel bad about all the people who didn't auto-win. I'd be better as a teacher where I can grade people. Contest judging is like teaching a class where everyone's pass-fail, and only one student can pass.

I wonder if there's anything I'd be qualified to teach a class in. "The Collected Works of Cecily Von Ziegesar" or "Contemporary Writing By Urban-Dwelling Sexually Flexible Women" or "The Contemporary Memoir" or "The Short Story after 1950" or "Suburban Discontent in the Modern Novel." Anyhow, back to Lewis.

Rather than waste a tree by literally pulling names from a hat, I made a numbered list of all the entries in order of submission, and then emailed Alex:
Number 17! Dorothy, here's lookin' at you! Email me with your address and you'll get a book in the mail, or, if you've already got the book, you can get next month's book when it's decided, or auto-gear.

The creative award was a little harder. So I narrowed the field and then asked Lewis for his faves -- and, having disqualified his first two selections 'cause I'm not about to give a free book to someone who's already endeared to me (a.k.a. people i know outside of blog-world), especially 'cause obvs they'll be buying the book on their own or else I'll kill them ...

As y'all know, I'm a sucker for things that are so bad they go all the way past good, back to bad again, and then into the beautiful realm of terrible/AWESOME. Chaitee wrote a poem, Lewis cited that as a favorite because though it was "terrible," it indicated admirable "effort." Of course, I love it.

Highlights include:

Happy bishday Lewis, I thought your name was Leonard
Can I call you Leonard? I think that name is splendid.

I hear your car uses diesel
So does mine
It's not really feasible
To use petrol
With fuel prices the way they are
Though diesel is $1.70 a litre and climbing here in Australia which makes me want to gouge my eyes out with spoons, mash them into a fine meal, mix with water; and use as my own special brand of fuel
I forget what word I was supposed to be rhyming
Rhymes with weasel, maybe you should get one for your birthday
Or get a sticker of one, to put on your car window, that'd be awesome, I say.

What a blow
No giant rubber fists
as gifts
For your birthday

Howevs, Chaitee's already confessed to buying the book, which means she'll be taking another prize. So ... Sarah R., want a copy of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?

Lewis was very heartwarmed by all your good wishes and wrote this story for all the heartwarmers. Apparently he already posted it on his Facebook, so if you're facebook friends w/Lewis, you've already read it. I'm not facebook friends w/Lewis, 'cause I'm scared that one day I'll get something in my feed like "Lewis Bernard has added 'booty calls' to his interests," and then I'll be scarred for life. Which's probs how he feels every time he tries to read my blog or published stories.

Also, Lewis was inspired to catch up on my blog and would like to make it known that he hasn't worn Axe Body Spray since high school, and that since abandoning the allegedly irresistible scent, his luck with the ladies has increased exponentially.

Here's Lewis:

I'd like to thank all of you who wished me well on the 24th anniversary of my escape from my mother's womb.

Looking over the list I see a nice variety of friends from the third coast to the dirty coast, spanning a couple of continents and countless (well, like 6) states. It's a privilege to have touched so many lives and so, for those of you don't know about June 16th's bender at the Maple Leaf (for the record, neither did I, surprise!) I'm gonna share my favorite story from it.

Early in the night I'm chatting it up with this girl. (I don't remember her name, hair color, age or really anything besides her saying she's some sort of singer and that she had a nasty bruise on her arm.) She says the bruise on her arm is a result of taking too much Valium on her private plane, apparently, though she couldn't recall specifics. I'm bleeding from the elbow for some reason too, so I find her admission comical and noteworthy.

The conversation shifts to astrology ... so, I leave her at the bar, find my friends on the patio, and one thing leads to another and before you know it the five of us are at the front bar ready for birthday shots. I look up to see Valium Girl standing on a bench, watching the band.

"Come take a shot with me, it's my birthday!" I yell. Valium hops down and joins me and together we find my friends -- money unspent and no shots to be seen.

Dan explains: "There's no sugar for lemon drops so Margot went to Jaques-Imos to borrow a cup."

Valium starts laughing: "I thought you said MAKE OUT with me, not ..."

Oh, I know what she means, and it's awkward, but I manage: "No, no I said take a shot with me --" and then -- excellent! "... but you followed me!"

"You just looked so confident and it's your birthday! So I just figured."

So there's the lesson: Carry yourself with confidence, say it's your birthday, and the world is your oyster.

(Additional Life Lessons from the Lew-Man are here.)

Book Club

Okay. I'm gonna give y'all a week to get your hands on Junot Diaz's The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and then you'll start reading like wild rabbits. It's cheapest online. Wao has received numerous awards including the New York Times Notable Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pultizer Prize for Fiction. A brief Wiki-hijacked description: "The novel chronicles not just the "brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao," an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey and obsessed with science fiction, fantasy and women, but also the curse of the "fuk├║" that has plagued Oscar's family for generations and the Caribbean since colonization and slavery. The middle sections of the novel center on the lives of Oscar's mother Beli and his grandfather Abelard under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Rife with footnotes, science fiction and fantasy references, and street Spanglish, the novel is also a meditation on story-telling, Dominican diaspora and identity, masculinity, and the contours of authoritarian power."

You must be at page 160 by July 2nd for our first team meeting. If you aren't, you will suffer. Look at Junot in that picture! He's standing by a wire fence on an urban street! You know what that means. I wonder where my author picture will be taken if I ever have one. Hopefully on the roof. Of my urban street. Anyhow.

While awaiting your book's arrival, you should read his short fiction: I love the story Alma (@the new yorker) and FYI; Wao started as a short story, I've not read it (Fear of Spoilers), but I imagine it'll be interesting post-reading. Last summer I ate Wildwood -- (not available online), and I'm recognizing much of it in the novel. I was encouraged to read that Drown was his only book before this one, so, coupled with The New Yorker's stories, I've read almost everything he's published and therefore I am a Junot Diaz expert! Perfect for my position as book club leader!

In the mean-time ... if you've got any questions you think would be good to ask/discuss, vocab you didn't know, or opinions about what you've read so far, email me at I'm gonna try to finish it within the next few days so that I can field your requests regardless of how far you're reading ahead.

I'm compiling a list of some of the english translations of spanish words I didn't know (nothing that'll give anything away. I'm only on page 100) Not knowing a few words here and there really doesn't matter, though. FYI.

OK -- I'm still figuring out exactly how one operates an online book club, and how I will make mine super-special and fun ... but I will figure it out and obviously you will be the first to know. I'll be posting online interviews and other related tidbits over the next few weeks. But I promised some information today, and I like to follow-through on at least 65% of my promises.

Also! I'm really excited. This is more-or-less my fantasy about anything a blog could ever be. We're all gonna read a really fucking good book together and have good conversations about it! Srsly, I've had a legit pep in my step for the past week just thinking about it. You can ask my neighbors on my urban streets all about it.


Mercury said...

I'll post my To-do list too, that's an excellent idea.

You're excellent when you're tired.

One of the girls at the salon calls herself "little foot." she wears children's shoes, and I hate her a little bit (envy really.) But she's also short enough to serve as my armrest when I wear heels, which's convenient.

Anonymous said...

Oooooh I cannot wait to read your thoughts on the Sorgatz piece; I hope you decide to grace us with them because I had lots of feelings upon reading it, as well.

But meanwhile I am off to devour that Elite Education piece since I was afforded an Elite Education, as well.

AND ended two paragraphs in a row with "as well."

No, three! FANTASTIC.

Katyn said...

#4 gave me lots of feelings.
like, for instance, ok, cool we know people with money might be happier. so how about economists now focus on how to help the 90% of the world population that doesn't have any instead of reaffirming their own neoliberal discourse that acquiring capitalist dollars is the only way to go?
but thanks for that article, it got my blood running!

dorothy said...

Yea!! I'm going to go with the original prize of the book. I've emailed my address. Smiling.

Meghan said...

July 2 is two days after a major thesis deadline, the day after I move apartments, AND the day my mom is arriving to visit me... and now it is Auto-Win Book Club Deadline Day too. For months nothing changes and then BOOM everything happens at once. Also, I requested the book at my library and there's nobody ahead of me (lesson: almost nobody takes out contemporary lit from university libraries, at least not mine) but I don't know when I'll get it. However, I will still try very hard to participate because this is awesome.

I want to read about micro-fame but I have no time right now. Thnx for the link.

dani said...

lewnard is hilarious, too. must be a genetic thing.
i would love to join the book club, but i'm on a little "vacation" for the next 2.5 weeks...without internet and LOST (once again).
stay sober.

david j. lozo said...

i like that you're live-blogging. it keeps the people coming back for more.

and don't act like you don't enjoy being used by me.

D.J. Lozo said...

i'm still getting this commenting thing down with my new lifestyle.

e. said...

I like that first autofun link. Like, an awful lot. Made me feel totally justified to be at my liberal arts college, reading and agonizing and pressing my face against windows to watch the rain, restless and unable to make definitive choices. (Seriously, I got all proud of myself and actually managed to write the first quarter of my soon-due essay before the glow faded.)

I don't know how I'll get everything done in the next few weeks, but I'll probs buy Oscar Wao on Saturday. I hope I can get it read on time, because I want to be in book club! I used to be in the most fantastic book club full of very meaningful discussions as well as swearing and yelling and recreational alcohol/drug use. Some people liked to sing after they'd drunk a certain amount of wine, it was pretty excellent. Also, people brought really good food, so even if they'd been boring I'd still have liked it. I love book clubs. I secretly hoped going to University would be like being in a giant rotating book club, but so far it hasn't been. (Did I just bring that back around? Maybe?)

On another note along another vein, I think Chaitee's poem is clearly genius, if for nothing else than for the priceless "happy bishday". (Happy belated bishday, splendid Leonard Bernard!)

chaitee said...

lollll i wrote that poem before i'd had my morning 3 litres of caffeine. i blushed a little reading this post and seeing my poem because some of my personalities (such as the non-caffeinated, or over-caffeinated ones) have a habit of partying without my permission. i can promise you that things get even worse after my caffeine fix. though, really, i must say that sometimes such things can be so bad that they're good again. like people who wear double denim with permed hair. so. good.

i'm reading veronica by gaitskill at the moment so must snaffle that up so i can start wao. i read like a frickin demon on meth, with super moving eyeballs though. so i WILL BEAT EVERYONE and have a full essay written, with highlighted parts before anyone has even cracked the spine on this urban masterpiece.

my photo, when i write a book, which will be probably when i'm diagnosed with three weeks to live, i always work best under pressure, otherwise i don't work at all - would be me standing primly against a PICKET FENCE. dressed in a modest blouse and skirt, floral patterns. with a plate of tarts. and all these housewives will buy my novels only to be DISGUSTED YET TERRIBLY DRAWN IN BY MY HOMEEROTIC TALES OF DEBAUCHERY IN THE 'BURBS. Fuck urban lit, when there's suburban slapper lit to be written. though really, they should have known what i was all about at the plate of tarts.

that had giant marzipan vaginas decorating them.

maybe i should have used muffins, instead of tarts. muffins in boxes. pie. standing in closets, with picket fences. i don't know, will have to speak to my literary agent bout that one. well, the one that i'll get when i have three weeks to live.

Lewnard said...

The poem was terrible in the best way like a very special episode of 'Saved by the Bell'. You can find a copy printed on high-strength resume paper attached to my fridge.

In the spirit of terrible/excellent birthday poetry here's a little ditty I got last year:

Dearest Lewis,

I would like to call you on your birthday
Unfortunately, I do not have a phone
I would like to call you on your birthday
but there's no mobile in my home

Still, I think it's fabulous that you are alive and growing older
Just as the season is not turning colder
And in my room there are too many folders
I'd mail you some books if I had a box/holder

But though you're likely enjoying that book Mom got for you from my wish list
[which makes me bitter, but not as bitter as a baby having a fit]
I will still send you what's known by the people as a birthday gift
it will not be a life-size model of the "Boston Public" character Lipshitz
though I don't remember if that was really his name, whatevs, Blizshiz,

I will mail you some books to your house in New Orleans
make sure that none of your ghetto neighbors steal, that'd be mean
Because they will be gifts for you, because you are my brother
Not gifts for the ragamuffins, hobos, or our mother.

We have a land line but I cannot use it to call long distance
I hope you're having a good birthday even though it's probably one thousand degrees in that godforsaken city you've chosen to live in
Those last two lines doesn't rhyme, that's because I'm an experimental poet
Breaking new ground, yeah yeah, don't you know it

I am sick right now because I'm a retard
Nothing against retarded people, though.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! you should drink Guiness today because it's Bloomsday.
JK, like i'd actually read James Joyce? Way too difficult.
I prefer limericks.

Your Underachieving Sister with Various Mental Disorders,


p.s. I don't want to be your facebook friend either.

LK said...

Maybe the hood's weaseling into your charmingly turbulent inner sanctum? I mean wassup with wanting to terminate those endeared to you unless they buy a book they've already read? I stole mine, loquita, but I'll give it back like the good samaritana I be.

(Pause. Gotta rip out a sidetag on my tank-top cause it's stabbing a sensitive spot. Done. I just have to remember to machine wash cold.)

Anyhow, just wanna say that I'd love to take an author pic of you on that roof or scaling a barbed wire fence or ... Yeah. That's it.

Oh, and any particular neighbor I should ask about the pep in your step?

riese said...

mercury: We call Alex littlefoot, which's funny 'cause she's pretty short but has really big feet, an 8.5, which's quite something for a girl of 5'4 and a slight build.

atherton bartleby: I found it really interesting and well-put. At the same time, it made me feel personally stupid, like everything I'd thought of as somehow meaningful could be easily attributed to a sort of microfame that's ultimately irrelevant to any larger purpose., which I guess I've always known was true, but enjoyed the delusion that it might not be, and the article sort of was like "yeah, haha!" but also, seemed to exaggerate the ease of "microfame" ... and also, it was so gross, like Tila Tequila grosses me out really bad. many of the things they cited as things that got people internet famous were things that make me want to barf and that I think are the downfall of humanity. What did you think?

katyn: Last night someone tried to talk me into reading a book about how George Bush should be tried for murder. And that I need to read it, just NEED to, but I was like, why? So I can get really angry about something, and then sit here and not do anything about it? I feel that way about a lot of things I read. Like, "ok, good explanation of the problem, now tell me how we can create an answer."

dorothy: yay! me too!

meghan: I know, but here's the thing -- those things are like, super stressful things. Moving, a thesis, etc. This is like the delightful frosted cupcake of your potential content, a break from the slings and arrows of ordinary life, a delightful yet intellectually stimulating experience. Holla.

dani: It is a genetic thing (the hilariousness). It's from our Dad, though my Mom claims otherwise. You can totally read your book w/o internet and communication, and then return to the nets with it all read, ready to discuss. There! problem solved!

david j. lozo: yes, someone told me about that once. Are you trying to change your name for google search purposes? And furthermore, are you really a DJ? What are we gonna listen to? Van Halen?

e. : There's so many things about your book club that I admire and would like to incorporate, particularly the experience of people getting drunk and then singing. I, too, hoped that university would be like eternal book club, and theorized that book club itself was actually a reflection of everyone's desire to be in English class forever. The problem with English class is that i was always the only one who'd actually read the book, which meant i was talking about it with people who were PRETENDING to have read the book, which can be puzzling, 'cause they have Cliff Noted opinions that would affect my own, only to realize, omg. they haven't done anything.
And yeah -- I feel my liberal arts education was pretty useless economically, I don't think I've sold my soul yet. Though I am confsued about how to change a tire.

chaitee: I feel like you're drinking the caffeine that actually contains cocaine, like the original coca-cola did. Although I never found that conducive to reading. I just finished Veronica (again), so if I can do it, you can do it. I have a lot of personalities that have a habit of partying without my permission, so I totally feel you there.

Speaking of, the book you describe reminds me of "Music for Torching" by AM Homes.

Much like your poem, this comment is too amazing for words. I can't wait for that author photo, it sounds priceless and fantastic. You should do a tie-in with tarts. Either prostitutes or baked goods, I think either one works.

lewnard: Like denim and perms, like SBTB, absolutely. Also, my poem just made me LOL, that's a good poem. Also, it's true! I didn't have a phone that week! oh, the memories, what fun that week was. I remember writing that poem in the morning half-asleep, and being pretty proud of myself ... and I still am! Also, I don't think I ever mailed you the book I got you. It's still on my shelf. Next year in Jerusalem!

lk: I like to threaten termination all the time. It's the only thing that gets the people on their feet, it's a little trick I learned from Napolean and Trujillio. There's a great scene in Veronica involving models posing for a picture at a fence, and also in Gia. I think the fence brings out the best in a person, metaphorically, photographically ... etc.

Katyn said...

re:"ok, good explanation of the problem, now tell me how we can create an answer." -- welcome to my entire grad class on "Power, Poverty, and Privilege"... made me want to go save the kids in Africa and at the same time slit my wrists from feeling helpless. i think that will be our generation's burden, being conscious of the world's problems yet feeling as if we never have the answer.
aaaaaaaand i've become debbie downer. whee! puppies! shiny things! that's better.

Katyn said...

oh, and congrats to tinkerbell for getting a star on the walk of fame.

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