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]