Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Institutionist

(That’s what I kept thinking Nicholson Baker’s new novel was called. The Institutionist. Did you mean: The Institutionalist?!?!??!)

(Still braindead.) Anyway:

Geoff Dyer on Nicholson Baker‘s The Anthologist (in the Abu Dhabi National):

It’s a bonkers idea, but as we all know, any given sentence can be galvanised by a single surprising word (which is also, as Yeats reminds us, exactly the right word).

In this case, my friends, that word is BONKERS!!


When I’m the first person in the office early in the morning I often sing a little sub-pseudo–Trout Mask Replica ditty to myself as I “settle in.” I just made a first crack at recording it though like many first cracks this one was unsuccessful, partly owing to how I “inadvertently” lobotomized myself this weekend, also still “figuring out” garage band, free MP3 hosting (anyone?) etc

“College Town, 1980”

“Dolores often wanted to die, even though she didn’t know what it was like, either. Allan used to tell her about the recurring nightmares he had, in which his father humiliated him sexually. He said it was the same thing as dreaming about death. Dolores thought that if to be humiliated was to be dead, she would be decomposed beyond recognition. But she was crazily alive, stuffed with blood and muscles, going to the bathroom regularly, having conversations.”

—Mary Gaitskill

money and sex

  • I take the idea of “live radio” seriously——even if the live radio is streaming 70s cheese from a different time zone. [rest of thought deleted. Friday evening deleted]
  • I use twitter, for some reason. I throw links and thoughts onto it throughout the day. It’s more pointless than this blog by a factor of 0.3.
  • I wrote a psychotic gender play and set it to ‘private’ because I was worried people might think I hated women, or something. When I was ten, I told my mother, “Someday I want to write Mark Leyner-meets-Neil LaBute–style dialogues on the Internet.” She just smiled. Just kidding.
  • I told McMüller I was going to “blog” about this image and he remembered and asked me about it a week or so later. That’s tantamount to a “commission.”  So:

The cover of the New York Times Book Review from Aug. 20 was this image:


whoops! just cradding! there’s a lot of crazy garbage on my “desk-top”! here it is:


The review was called “Meet, Pay, Love,” the book is called HOS, HOOKERS, CALL GIRLS, AND RENT BOYS: Professionals Writing on Life, Love, Money, and Sex. The question: what the fock is depicted here? Clearly we have a female body — I see breasts, legs, an arm, some haunches. It says $100000 on the weird newspaper-roll thing she’s standing on. What’s happening in her crotch, though????

McMüller was the only/first person of the several “publishing professionals” I asked who didn’t make a cop-out or totally insane guess. His answer:

It’s an old-timey fountain pen!


But a pen that’s all splay-legged, ready for lovin. On top of a roll of bills.

Wait what am I “blogging” to do what hey

In conclusion, this is an attractive but exceedingly difficult-to-read image.

Back to work….

Kind regards,

Scott McLemee’s ersatz ghost-puppy

mite studies

Colossal whatever. Tiny whatever. Breathalizer test–I did OK. It gave me  something like a B+. My first novel was about a league of mites who started a sex colony in a suburban forest. That’s the whole first part — graphic mite sex, mite betrayal, mite weeping, illegitimate mite babies, etc. It’s more like a prologue. Written with grand, pseudo-Greek mythic drama. The rest of the book is about a middle-school girl, who will grow up to be a major entomologist, who finds the colony and studies it. She writes up her findings and wins first prize in the science fair. One of the judges, a science teacher at a middle school the “next town over,” [CLICHE ALERT!——Ed] falls deeply in love with the girl. He’ll never act on it — he’s a responsible adult, there’s never any question — and the novel gives us lots of his internal anguish about feeling such profound romantic love for the girl, how brilliant her report was, how cute she is, etc. This section ends with the teacher’s suicide. He imagines that the girl doesn’t remember him at all, and obliquely implies as much in his suicide note. But then in the next section [WHO CARES ABOUT THESE SECTIONS? SHUT UP——ED] the novel reveals that the girl was actually deeply affected by the science-fair citation the teacher wrote for her. She googled him and found his blog, and read between the lines of his oblique bloggy flash-fiction that he’s in love with her. So she’s actually devastated when the teacher kills himself——and he’ll never know! Like the teacher, the girl is far too responsible and healthy and well-adjusted to ever have even considered an affair with someone more than one grade older than she is, to say nothing of an actual adult, but nonetheless, she’s fallen “head over heels” in love with him. The girl grows up and goes to Yale to study ticks and lice and other mites [YOU MIGHT BE ASKING FOR AN IRATE COMMENT FROM MICROECOS OR CHELSEA HERE, JUST SAYING. COULD BE WORTH ANOTHER TRIP TO WIKIPEDIA IF YOU HAVE TIME——ED] and dates a bunch of “really cute guys,” v-neck t-shirts, broad smiles, sunglasses—most of them fellow scientists. But then she ends up falling in love with and eventually marrying an English major. His name is Tom, and, as she goes on to her massive success in the field of mite research, he publishes sexy literary thrillers about hot entomologists. “The end”

sad, dumb movie

CHARLIZE: Thank you so much for taking me to this restaurant! It looks yummy. I’m tired from working all day.

BORIS: Hey. Ha. Yeah. Great. No problem. I’m hungry, too. New York City is “crazy,” right? Brooklyn, Manhattan—you know what I mean. I’m going to order this kipper roulade, it looks interesting

CHARLIZE: Great. Get me a whiskey, will you? I’ll be right back. [Goes to the bathroom. Weeps for thirty seconds in the stall. Washes her face, does a tiny amt of cocaine, puts on a little eye makeup, returns to the table.] God dammnit.

[and so on]

little vamp

I have known many women who hate the word moist. Sometimes they specify that they also hate the phrase moist panties. At least three ladies I’ve known have independently reported this distaste over the years. I think this is something a lot of American women share. I don’t hate this phrase. I don’t love it, either. I wonder why women hate it. Other phrases I don’t hate: fetid boxer shorts. Duck butter. Spermy Loofah. Shriner. (Actually, I do hate shriner)

I just heard a woman say ex-boyfriend. I think this is a phrase women don’t hate.

Yesterday I tried to talk about race in a jocular fashion. The other things I was saying were getting big laughs, I’m a funny guy, but the record needle, so to speak, came to a skidding halt when I tried to joke around about “race.”

I have made generalizations about American women in this blog post, and I think some people may feel irritated reading them. Another irritating thing about this blog post might be the monotone/deadpan/cute/simple/twee tone I’ve inexplicably adopted. This is a tone men adopt in their writing sometimes. Women too. Is it different when women write tweely? Who is the number one twee woman writer? Funny female writers tend to have a ‘ballsier’ aspect. Funny male writers can stray into neutered Demetri Martin territory more easily. [link] [attribution needed]

My book club read Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star. Everyone else hated it. I liked it until book club met, then I hated it. That book, written by a woman, has a derangedly self-conscious male narrator. This conceit creates some “interesting” “narrative tension” when you remember—as you are occasionally (at least once) urged to do—that the “real” author is a woman.

Please delete this email.

Please water the plants while I’m in Argentina.

I “own” a canister of marijuana right now. It’s been a while since I’ve “owned” marijuana. It was “gifted” to me. (“Fake scare quotes” are a hallmark of the twee/precious/pat male writer. What female writer uses “fake scare quotes” the most? If Tao Lin were a woman, I wouldn’t be writing this sentence.) Owning pot puts me in a real “Enfield Tennis Academy” frame of mind. The pot calls to me from the desk drawer. It it a little Pandora’s box. I know the hip demons and funky rhythm-goblins it contains. They want to be free. They vamp a little, quietly, in the drawer, waiting for me to perform the “spell” (lit lighter brought down to bear) that will “awaken” them. The bass guitar and synth bass play in unison. It’s a cool effect.

This is my personal web page. I use it as a place to waste a bunch of time when in fact the situation at work today is exigent as fuck, what I am doing, holy shit, goodbye


My work has appeart in Shit Furnace, Papal Nutsheath, The Crow’s Li’l Quarterly, Preen, Lobestone, Nepali Ice Review, Pindelyboz, Jamiroquai, Text of Whispers, bu*lsh*t, Webslingazz, Postal Mouth, The Meal, Ripyarns, Cambridge and You, Frowncake, Busty Feminist Review, Clamhouse, Ars Poetica, Hayden’s Ferry Review, McSweeney’s, Fence, BOMB, The Paris Review, Open City, The Quarterly, Genesis West, Titmouse Express, The East Bay Express, Nudity Furnace (UK), Black Clock, R: The Ron Howard Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, D: The Dean Stockwell Magazine, n+1, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Punch, Arthur, Tina, George, Macaulay, Der Spiegel, Der Spielberg, The New York Times Disney Magazine, Stone Soup, Scholastic, Newsweek, B: the Bette Midler Magazine, and work is forthcoming in Commentary

my visceral dinner

DENNIS: Too busy to blog

JENNY: Too busy even for me? Your “private” blog?

DENNIS: [his laughter setting his corpulence a-vibratin’] Well….. a ho ho ho ho ho ho ho ho

[ten minutes later]

DENNIS: [screaming] Fuuckk!!!!!

JENNY: [deadpan] What’s wrong

DENNIS: Nothing

JENNY: Oh. I thought you were screaming

DENNIS: Naw, just “surfin the web”

JENNY: Ha. Cool.

DENNIS: Where are you going?

JENNY: Out. With a boy.

DENNIS: Oh… I see. Um… are we still dating?

JENNY: Yeah. You’re concerned about the boy? [her heart beats fourteen times, sending blood to all the different parts of her body, all of which are sexy]

DENNIS: No! I mean… should I be?

JENNY: Yes. [her blood is poison. She’s the worst.] Just kidding!

DENNIS: I feel like my viscera are serving dinner to other parts of my viscera, in an artificial “formal dinner” context, sort of like when famous cellists serve lowly students of the bassoon at the magical music camp Alex Ross wrote about

JENNY: That article was odd. It was written with a barely supressed prancey exuberance that bugged me

DENNIS: I still haven’t read the imaginary composers piece. But doesn’t it seem a little overlappy with the Arthur Phillips Believer piece?

JENNY: I don’t know; I don’t read the Believer. Just the smell of that magazine makes me feel so hopelessly and sexually aroused that I go all but blind; reading becomes the furthest thing from my mind

DENNIS: Oh, darling——

JENNY: ‘Kay, not now, sweetie—— gotta run! Back tomorrow

DENNIS: [writhes]