Friday, November 6, 2009
It's been a while since I put anything here. I've been working this fall at three, count 'em, universities in town, teaching variations on English 101. It's been okay and the students as usual range from fine to great, but boy it takes a lot of time. There's this rumor going around--maybe you've heard it--that I'm a writer who writes books, but as of, say the end of September there hadn't been much evidence of this.
Meanwhile, Uzee's novel The Geometry of God was released by Clockroot Books in September/ooctober and has gotten a nice review from The Washington Times:
A slightly silly title but a very nice review. Long, too.
What else has been happening? 1. I'm spending way too much time playing my fantasy football league, something I was invited into for the first time this fall. I always thought I'd be good at it, as I am somewhat obsessive and meticulous. present ranking is 3 out of 12 with five weeks left in the "season," so you be the judge. (Weeks 14 through 16 are the "playoffs," at which point it becomes instant elimination.) On the other hand, the league is presently being led by a 12-year-old kid, so you may want to take my claims of expertise with some grains of salt.
2. Obama won the fucking peace prize. Don't get me started. Okay I'll start anyway: he's continued the war in Iraq, while expanding the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has failed to close Guantanamo or release the photos and videos (yes there are videos) of the abuses in Abu Ghraib or further pursue those responsible for the abuses. He has, in short, done nothing to encourage peace, while doing very nearly as much as Bush to maintain a climate of war. For this he gets a prize.
3. I have also, despite my claim to the contrary, been creeping to some sort of conclusion with my current novel. At the moment my hope is to be done by the end of the year, sort of as a more-or-less birthday present to myself. Let's see.
4. I've been reading a lot and reviewing some books for Dawn, the newspaper in Pakistan which occasionally prints my writeups in their Sunday books section (which they still have, unlike say the LA Times). Here are a few of my more recent ones:
5. We saw District 9, which is a great movie. One of the better sci-fi movies of the past many years, I'd say. Oh and Uzee and I went trick-or-treating with my pal Brendan and his family, which was actully pretty entertaining. Boo! etc. (These two events are not actually linked, even though they are both listed as #5.)
6. In order to teach my students about the unreliability of Wikipedia, I opened a Wiki page about myself and wrote a brief bio. I then told my students to log onto the page and write whatever nonsense they could think of, the point being that, hey, if they could add this stuff about me, then anybody could write anything about, say, global warming or evolution or World War I or whatever. So far, there is only one questionable sentence. See if you can spot it (toward the end).
And yes, feel free to log on and screw things up. I ask only that you not actually delete anything that's there--my info is correct. Just add stuff.
And I guess that's all for now...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The big news? I'm trying to eat better and lose weight. "Better" = "more salad." Aren't you glad you're reading this?
My pal Brendan seems to be writing a movie screenplay of The Book of Samson. Maybe he'll call it The Movie of Samson.
The other big news is that the Pakistan military seems to be making inroads against militants in the northwest of the country, and that's a good good thing. The US continues drone attacks against villagers in the area, which is not a good thing, but at the moment the advances made by the country's own army seem to be outweighing the damage done by the US attacks. Hopefully this equation will continue to be balanced in this direction.
I am, maybe, a couple weeks away from sending in my newest manuscript to my editor, for Round II. (The editor won Round I quite handily.)
Football season is still a few weeks away, though preseason games start tomorrow. (Thursday? What is this, communism?) With Tom B back, the Pats will hopefully steamroller all opponents en route to SB #4 in nine years. Boy oh boy that would be sweet.
That's all for now, except this link to an excellent article of Uzee's:
Friday, July 17, 2009
1. Finish my book. (You know, the one I've "finished" several times already in the past year.
2. Get up at 6:00am and go swimming. (We'll see.)
3. Go to Costco and buy paper goods. This can take most of the day.
4. Go to the dentist.
5. Read the Flannery O'Connor biography Flannery by brad Gooch, which I bought a few weeks ago and haven't gotten to yet.
6. Watch a few choice morsels of classic-movie fame, to wit: I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958), The Land Unknown (1968), Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), and others.
7. Not do any more grocery shopping until everything in the fridge, freezer and cupboards has either been consumed or thrown away. Wish me luck. Milk is exempted.
I'll let you know how I do.
Currently reading: Theft by Peter Carey (Great book.)
Currently listening to: Focus Level by Endless Boogie (the perfect name for, maybe, the perfect band) and Some Sweet Relief by Speck Mountain. (Very mellow and dreamy, also habit-forming.)
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
If you never heard her (or even if you have), check out this clip. It's two songs and the first is good-timey kind of blues, but jump ahead to the 3:30 mark or so and prepare to shiver.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Any lingering doubts that Obama is just another shithead war-mongering fuck should be dispelled by a careful review of his policy speech regarding Pakistan and Afghanistan. Here's a transcript:
Peel away all the flowery diplomatic language and you're left with a few highlights.
1. 17,000 more troops are going to Afghanistan. The purpose of the troops is to kill all the bad people, i.e., Taliban and al-Qaeda. These are the same people who were supposedly killed when Bush sent troops there in 2002. Instead, they got stronger and spread into Pakistan.
But this time will be different! Apparently. It is not clear why, but whatever.
Wasn't it Einstein who had the line about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results? Smart guy, Einstein.
2. 4,000 US "trainers" will go to Afghanistan to train the army there. This is essentially a replay of Vietnam policy, which, as we all know, worked out so well. Because nobody understands the local situation as well as us 'Mericans, and nobody has that expert-eese as much as we do.
3. The US will pay $1.5bn per year to Pakistan over the next few years. This will serve to a.) buy the corrupt government's collusion, and b.) salve the consciences of the very tiny number of Americans who actually feel kind of bad about killing all those dumb niggers with our ongoing drone and rocket attacks. Oh and they can build schools or something too, when they aren't being bombed by the States. Maybe we'll send an few advisors for that too. Nice!
Now, infrastructure aid and so on can be perfectly helpful, and maybe a few roads actually will get built. But it sticks in the craw to hear him say that the money will go to create "opportunity zones in the border region to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued by violence," when, after all, it is the US missile attacks in those regions (ongoing since 2004) that have killed more people than anything else.
4. By the way, the justification for all this--for renewing the war in Afghanistan and spreading it into Pakistan, when most people thought Obama was actually interested in reducing military action around the world--is that al-Qaeda carried out 9/11. Of course, the Taliban government offered, at the time, to turn over OBL to the US--if the US could provide any evidence of his involvement in the attacks. The US refused to do so, preferring intead to start another war. Obama thus carries on this fine tradition perpetuated by Bush, Bush II, and many others.
5. Laugh until you cry: "The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence. "
What, exactly, has Afghanistan been living under for the past eight years (longer than that, if you include the US/Soviet proxy war dating back to 1980), you stupid fuck?
If this all sounds a lot like W.'s policy in the region, well... yeah. Except that he was smart enough to see a hopeless situation and bail (but not smart enough to avoid another hopeless situation, but that's another story).
Q. How do you say "Vietnam" in Arabic?
Q. How do you say it in Pushto?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I couldn't feel celebratory about somebody like that, and I didn't vote for the guy because I didn't like what he'd been saying for months vis-a-vis Afghanistan (that he would expand the war there) and Pakistan (that he would expand the war there). My misgivings were ignored by the Obama supporters I talked to. Typical of the repsonses was that of my sister, who said something to the effect that Obama was just "talking tough" in order to get elected, but he was really peace-loving at heart.
Well, now we all know that's a pile of shit, right?
According to the NY Times, Obama is weighing plans to attack the Pakistani city of Quetta, the provincial capitol of Balunchistan and one of the largest cities after Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. This is a pretty huge fucking deal and the resultant silence from the "liberal left" is staggering. If W. had announced this plan, or McCain, then all those good lefty-thinking northeastern liberals would be out there protesting, but since the plan is emanating from a supposedly progressive (huh?) politician, anything goes.
The theory, by the way, is that he will destroy Al-Qadea and Taliban targets there, and so the world will be safe for everybody. It's the same flawed logic that spurred W.'s Afghan war in 2002, and the Iraq war in 2003, not to mention the ongoing missile strikes into Pakistan since 2004. Lest we forget, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were created by the US in the 1980s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, at which point, they were going to make the world safe for everybody. (Ronald Reagan called them the "moral equivalent to the Founding Fathers.")
What gets left out of the thinking when people talk about bombs and drones and missile strikes, is:
a. the strategy hasn't worked yet,which is why the war keeps creeping from place to place (Afghanistan to the tribal areas to Baluchistan to who knows where); and
b. lots and lots and lots of innocent people die.
Admittedly, US policy doesn't give a fuck about that, and nor do US politicians, Obama included, and nor do (from what I can see) the majority of US citizens. Please remember, three days after Obama's inauguration, he authorized the continuation of missile strikes into Pakistan. 15 people were killed that day in a village in Waziristan, mostly women and children. The strikes continues on a weekly-or-more-often basis. Raise your hand if you give a fuck. I mean, really.
On the other hand, if even one such strike occurred on US territory, the hounds would be baying for blood...
Expanding the war into Baluchistan will have any number of negative consequences, all of them dire. It could easily split Pakistan into pieces, which is at least one potential goal of the policy. It will radicalize a segment of the citizenry which, until now, has been relatively moderate. It will swell numbers of Taliban and Al-Qaeda recruits. It will further weaken the already-weak and corrupt federal government. Any of these results can and will be used as further justification for more military action in which more people who have never done a damn thing to the US or its citizenry will die.
But who cares, right? They're just niggers, right?
Oh wait, we can't say that anymore, now that Obama's president.
I'm glad I voted for Nader.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
For those of you still not in the know, here's a picture that pretty much tells you everything you need to understand about Night of the Lepus:
As you can see, there are 1. ) giant bunnies with cuddly twitchy faintly obscene twitching noses, and there are 2.) people with their throats ripped open. That's pretty much the extent of the movie's interest. It's worth noting however that fuzzy soft cuddly bunnies are really really cute and entirely unthreatening to almost everybody in the omniverse apart from certain grass-based organisms, so splashing their incisors with blood and having them run through the picture in slo-mo (in order to, I guess, enhance their fearsome ferocity or something) actually does little to make them any scarier. There is, however, a great "burble-burble" electro-soundtrack underscoring their villainous rampages which, against all the odds, does make the proceedings a trifle creepy.
But what truly elevates this movie from "enjoyable kitsch" to near-perfection is the cast, which includes Janet Leigh (remember Psycho?) and DeForest Kelly, aka Dr McCoy on the original Star Trek. He ambles around with a mustache and a leather jacket but still looks like he'd rather be on some alien planet--well he's pretty close, it is Arizona*--with Kirk and Spock and all the rest. The grant blood-sucking bunny rabbits, you know, just add to this feeling of being trapped somewhere in a really long, really bad Star Trek episode.
*Just kidding, cowboys. I lived in Tucson for 7 years and loved loved loved it.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Anyway, thanks to the students for letting me see their stuff and talk about it. I'll keep their names confidential for privacy reasons but suspect they'll be making a name for themselves sooner or later. Nice work, guys.
And that was about it, except for the party Jay threw in my honor on Thursday night. Attended by faculty and grad students, it involved copious amounts of liquid refreshment and many funny stories excganged on all manner of topics. Binx the Doberman pinscher made an appearance, then left, then I think reappeared several more times. Then everyone went hojme and I went to bed and got up at 6a.m. and Jay drove me to the airport and I flew back to Hawaii where it has been pouring rain and gloomy with cloud and continues to be so. Hooray for the tropics. Sort of.
Moral of the story: Cincinnati is tres tres cool, even if the Bengals are kind of lame.
This photo was taken by the freakishly good-natured human organism Jay Twomey with his cellular phone device. Apparently there were significant atmospheric disturbances at the time. Thanks, Jay!
So one of the first questioners pointed out that all the women characters in the book had absent mothers. (Memo to self: Duh...) She asked what I was trying to say with that, or soemthing to thate effect. So after I franticalkly scrolled through the women characters, searching for a mom figure and finding none, I mumbled something about, you know, not wanting to spend all that much time focusing on the family histories of each of the eight main characters in the book... um... how's that? People nodded as if I had said something of substance, but let's face it, these were grad students and I don't think anyone was fooled.
Then another woman asked which character (if any) I had as an"advocate" for the reader, you know, which one was the sort of reliable one for the reader to use as a kind of touchstone. This was a new idea to me, so I said, "Um, none of them, I mean, I think they're all important, they all have their own, like, story to tell." She looked profoundly unconvinced but maybe that was just me feeling paranoid. I found out later that this whole "advocate for the reader" idea is one that some other teacher talks about, and I think it's kind of bogus but what do I know. There's a tendency in workshops to say "Whose story is this, anyway?" as if there can only be one center to any given story, which I think is pretty much wrong, and which my first two books (and maybe Monster) demonstrate as being pretty much wrong.
Then some people said some nice things and this one woman said she liked the consistentcy if characterization in the book, which was nice to hear because I had to work pretty hard for that, and this other guy sort of but not really but sort of so I'll take it compared the book to As I Lay Dying, which is a compliment I'll accept any day of the week (even if it wasn't actually directly offered as such).
There was a lot of other stuff too but you get the idea. Someone asked me a question and I don't much remember what it was but when I answered she said she didn't believe me, which was pretty funny. But I had told the truth, so, what can I say. It was something to do with the function of the characters in the story and did I plan for them to represent different aspects of relationships to religion or something like this. I forget exactly. So anyway, the answer was, no. I don't plan that kind of stuff, I'm too busy trying to keep the characters straight in my head and make sure the story's moving along nicely and I'm not using the word "plenipotenitary" too many times on one page or whatever. She was thinking in terms of thematic stuff and I was stressing that my primary concern was with storytelling. She looked faintly amused and then she didn't believe me and we all had a good chuckle.
Then we all went home. It was great! Thanks to everybody in the class for reading the book. I appreciate your interest.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Thanks also to the unnervingly cheerful Jay Twomey, the guy who's organized this whole shebang. And a massive shout out to my uber-fan Susie, who is not affiliated with the U of Cin in any way but who drove all the way down from Dayton (Dayton!) just to hear me. That's like an hour's drive each way... there's some dedication in a big way, kids, let's all try to learn something from that. Susie's pal took a picture of the two of us which, hopefully, will find its way to my inbox and I will post.
So, what did I talk about? I started with the sometimes humorously negative responses to my stories from some critical quarters, which led me to some ideas of what people are looking for when they read, specifically, Biblical reinterpretations, and then a little but about how I went about writing the stories, and then I read some excerpts, and then I talked a little more and read more excerpts and then people asked questions and then some of us went and drank beer. It was all, generally speaking, great. Maybe at some future date I'll post the actual "lecture," or at least extracts from it, if people are interested.
Favorite question/answer from the evening:
Q: "I heard you like graphic novels, Dave... would you consider doing one as a Biblical story?"
A: "Yeah, definitely. But I can't draw to save my life."
Which is, sadly, true. I think Jonah has promise as a comic book aka graphic novel aka story wid pitchers. But I really can't draw a lick, so, I need a collaborator. Send samples to dmloveletters.
By the way, the next time you find yourself in Cincinnati, please consider staying at a great B&B called Clifton House. It's run by yet another cheerful Cincinnatian named Nancy, who keeps a terrific house and serves a breakfast that makes you fall to your knees and moan, "Yes! Yes!" So... I recommend it.
Later today, I go talk to a bunch of grad students who've read The Preservationist. Here's hoping I get a bunch of questions along the lines of, "Is your writing autobiographical?" I love being asked that and I always say, "Entirely."
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
After a few hours of semi-consciousness I was bundled off to the U of Cin library where I read from Samson to a group of 30-35 people. This happened at 4p.m., which was earlier than expected but probably just as well since I was pretty bleary and jet-lagged. I think the reading went okay--what I remember of it, ha ha--and people were very nice about saying that I didn't suck too horribly. Then I was bundled off to some bar with a bunch of Jay's dissolute professorial colleagues where we had beer and sandwiches and I generall got the idea that the faculty at this institution are pretty nice and interested in other people and so forth.
Now it's the morning after, I maneged about 12 hours of sleep and I'm feeling much better. Tonight is my "official" lecture and reading and I apparently will be fully conscious for that one, which kind o makes me nostalgic for yesterday when I was half sleeping through it all. But hopefully it will go well, especially if the crowd is half as friendly as yesterday's.
Favorite question from yesterday: "So, did you do a lot of research and, like, Biblical scholarship, when you were writing these books?"
Full report tomorrow...
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I arrive Monday morning local time and will probably proceed to crash out. however, for those of you living in the area and who are also curious, I'll be giving a reading Monday night--I know not where, exactly, but it's somewhere on campus and I'm sure a quick phone call to the English department will point you in the right direction.
If you can't make it to that, I'm also giving a lecture Tuesday night, and will be reading during that as well. There's a link below for more info.
I am not a huge fan of flying in airplanes, so, any cheery thoughts yo wish to turn in my direction will be appreciated. I'll try to coment on my time in Ohio as I go along, if anything interesting happens (which I'm sure it will...)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
I love the cover of this edition. It's a great book y'all,and highly recommended.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I am now, really, about 2 days away from finishing the new book. At which point I will send it off to my tremendously talented agent and wait.
It's called, right now, An Age of Madness. This could change but I don't think it will.
Feel free to send champagne.
Those fine fine folks at the University of Cincinnati have invited me to come and give a lecture as part of something called The Ropes Lecture Series. (I will keep my snide comments about why they call it "Ropes" to myself.) The link to further information is here:
As you can see, there are all kinds of really smart people involved, talking about all kinds of really smart stuff, and then there's me. I have, as yet, more or less no clue as to what I'll be talking about. Suggestions are welcomed.
I had to come up with something to put on the calendar, which is why I invented a lecture called "Stairways to Heaven and HIghways to hell: Interpreting Biblical Tales for a Secular Age." Which sounds all cool and sexy and stuff until you reflect for about half a second and realize that the age we live in is about as secular as seventh-century Saudi Arabia. So I don't know where I'm going with that.
I'll be in Cincinnati for most of the week; besides the lecture I'll be doing a reading, and a creative writing workshop, and a seminar class that's read one of my books (I think The Pres). I'm actually looking forward to all this, provided of course that people are nice to me and don't just take the opportunity to vent about how much my books suck and ask me things like, "Hey, how come shitty writers like you get published and good ones like me don't?" Because then I'll have to talk about all the people I've slept with to make it this far.
So if anyone out there is in the area and wants to stop in and say hi, please do. I don't know when the reading will be but when I find out I'll post it here.
And maybe I'll keep a running like blog-thing going about my week in Cincinnati. If I have time. Will I have time? I have no idea. Is there much to keep you busy in Cincinnati? No idea.
As mentioned above: suggestions are welcome. Don't be shy.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
White phosphrus is classified as a chemical weapon and therefore is banned by the UN convention against these weapons. Guess which 2 countries haven't signed on?
Details of the accusations and evidence:
Score: Israeli casualties from 9 months of Hamas rockets: +/- 12.
Palestinian casualties from Israel's most recent attack: 850+ and rising.
See the links below for sources.
Is it anti-Semitic to say this is fucking insane?
I don't care. I'll say it anyway: this is fucking insane. One historical crime does not excuse another one.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Remember: six billion dollars of US tax money goes to fund this every year.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009