Saturday, December 29, 2007

Autowin/Autostraddle Soundtrack Track Listing

Everyone who ordered Auto-Merch pre-Christmas got a CD filled with unidentified tracks. Isn't this fun, like a mystery game where you don't know what music you're listening to? If you've managed to get through the whole CD without killing yourself and want to know why, here's a hint:

OK ... because itunes is weird and has even more feelings than I do, there's two versions of the CD.


Soundtrack Version #1:

1. Your Ex-Lover is Dead - Stars
2. Good Luck (featuring Lisa Kekaula) - Basement Jaxx
3. Don't Cry Out - Shiny Toy Guns
4. Cruel and Clumsy - Chris Pureka
5. This is Everything - Tegan & Sara
6. If I Ever Feel Better - Phoenix
7. Piece of Me - Britney Spears
8. You Wouldn't Like Me - Tegan & Sara
9. Fidelity - Regina Spektor
10. Hear Me Out - Frou Frou
11. Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
12. Umbrella - Rihanna
13. Heart - Stars
14. Manic Depression - Jimi Hendrix
15. Because of You (Jason Nevins Remix) - Kelly Clarkson
16. Say So - Uh Huh Her
17. Ave Maria - Franz Schubert
18. All I Want For Christmas is You - Mariah Carey


Soundtrack Version #2:

1. Your Ex-Lover is Dead - Stars
2. Good Luck (featuring Lisa Kekaula) - Basement Jaxx
3. Don't Cry Out - Shiny Toy Guns
4. Cruel and Clumsy - Chris Pureka
5. Lilac Wine - Jeff Buckley
6. This is Everything - Tegan & Sara
7. Hear me Out - Frou Frou
8. Fidelity - Regina Spektor
9. You Wouldn't Like Me - Tegan & Sara
10. Piece of Me - Britney Spears
11. If I Ever Feel Better - Phoenix
12. Umbrella - Rihanna
13. Heart - Stars
14. Because of You (Jason Nevins Remix) - Kelly Clarkson
15. Manic Depression - Jimi Hendrix
16. Say So - Uh Huh Her
17. All I Want For Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
18. Ave Maria - Franz Schubert

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Auto-Fun Archive: December

quote: ""We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come." (Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
link: The Golden Suicides (@Vanity Fair), 2007: The Year in Pictures (@The New York Times), The Books of The Year 2007 (@Guardian Unlimited Books)
quote: "What I've learned about comedy people is that they are define by the harshest level they've been to, their personal Aushwitz." (Bob Saget, Esquire, "What I've Learned")
link: The Amateurs' Hour: Is the Internet destroying our culture, or is it just annoying our snobs? (@Reason Magazine)
quote:'They always say how mean I am. But let me tell you, the smart ones get it. When I took out the jokes about Cher, she said, "Why am I not in your act anymore?" (Joan Rivers)
links: "I Did it for Science: Jen Miller's Sex & The City Endurance Post" (@nerve) "Inside Apple Stores, A Certain Aura Enchants the Faithful" (@NY Times), Lozo's Year-End Wrap-Up Post

quote: "Here I sat on a boulder by the winter-streaming river and put my head in my hands and considered time--which is next to nothing, merely what vanishes, and yet can make one's elbows nearly pierce one's thighs." (Galway Kinnell, "The Road Between Here and There")
link: Vulture Celebrates the Year in Vulture (@nymag), The Trouble With Mary: Beyond Belief (@The National Post)
quote: "And how else should an angel land on earth but with the utmost difficulty? If we are to be visited by angels we will have to call them down with sweat and strain, we will have to drag them out of the skies, and the efforts we expend to draw the heavens to an earthly place may well leave us too exhausted to appreciate the fruits of our labors: an angel, even with torn robes, and ruffled feathers, is in our midst." (Tony Kushner, on a letter tacked to the backstage bulletin board for the cast & crew of Angels in America)
link: The Guardian's 2007 in Books Quiz, "Alma" by Junot Diaz (@ The New Yorker)
quote: "God, there is so much emotion to navigate where family's concerned. Vicodin, anyone?" (Aunt Sarah, Six Feet Under)
link: What's Wrong With the American Essay (Cristina Nehring @truthdig)
quote: "Jesus' words have become so perverted over time -- it's been like a game of telephone. If he existed he would fuckin' kill himself." (Sarah Silverman)
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might
be saved." (John 3:17)
links: Sedaris and Crumpet the Elf: A Holiday Tradition (@NPR), Buzzwords 2007: All We Are Saying (@NYTimes)
quote: "This house is so full of people it makes me sick. When I grow up and get married, I'm living alone." (Kevin McAllister, Home Alone)
link: You Are What You Read (NY Times), Sacha Baron Cohen: Killing Off Borat (@Daily Telegraph), Auto Apparel Store obvs (!!)
quote: "I'm very sane about how crazy I am." (Carrie Fisher)
link: Sacha Baron Cohen: Killing Off Borat, Auto Apparel Store obvs (!!), Reasons to Love New York (@NY Mag), Esquire's 10th Anniversary 'What I've Learned' (@Esquire)
quote: "Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers." (Rainer Maria Rilke)
links:The Twilight of the Books: What Will Life Be Like If People Stop Reading (@The New Yorker), Bonfire of the Disney Princesses (by Barbara Ehreich @The Nation), Year in Review (@NY Magazine)
quote: "Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy." (Abraham Heschel)
link: "One Day" (Poem, Grace Paley) (@The New Yorker)
quote: (from Our Town, Thornton Wilder)
Emily: Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anyone to realize you. [she looks toward the stage manager and asks abruptly, through her tears:] Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?
Stage Manager: No. [pause] The saints and poets, maybe -- they do some.
links: Are We Not Men? Down the Ladder From Playboy to Maxim (@The Atlantic), The Hollywood Guide to Drinking (
quote: "Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy." (Abraham Heschel)
link: "One Day" (Poem, Grace Paley) (@The New Yorker)
quote: "I have asked my mother if she regrets her marriage, her choices, and she has told me it is pointless to regret. That she did what she could do. What more can we ask of ourselves? I want to tell her, but do not, that we must ask for so much more, for everything, for love and tenderness and decency and courage. That we must be much more than comfortable, that we must be better than we think we can be, so if in some foreign tongue, we are confronted with those childhood questions -- "Qui etes-vous? Qui suis-je?" --we will not be afraid to answer." (E.J Levy, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Salmagundi '05)
link: Next Stop, Never-Never Land: ANTM Finale Recap (@fourfour), We Need to Talk About Pecan: Three brilliant novelists on Christmas Cooking (@The Guardian UK), The Etiquette of Telecommunications (@The Economist)
quote: Sooner or later you have a finished manuscript more or less. People look at it ina a vaguely troubled sort of way and say, "I'll bet becoming a writer was always a fantasy of yours, wasn't it?" Your lips dry to salt. Say that of all the fantasies possible in the world, you can't imagine being a writer even making the top twenty. Tell them you were going to be a child psychology major. "I bet," they always sigh, "you'd be great with kids." Scowl fiercely. Tell them you're a walking blade. (Lorrie Moore, 'How to be a Writer')
link: An Exhaustive List of Links to Every Year-End List(@Filmalicious),On Facebook, Scholars Link Up with Social Data (@NY Times), Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales (@NY Times)
quote:"Sometimes I see myself fine, sometimes I need a witness and I like the whole truth, but there are nights I only need forgiveness. Sometimes they say "I don't know who you are but let me walk with you some" And I say "I am alone, that's all, you can't save me from all the wrong I've done." But they're waiting just the same with their flashlights and their semaphores, and I'll act like I have faith and like that faith never ends, but I really just have friends." (Dar Williams)
links: Gone Wild and Gone All Wrong: Joe Francis in Jail, holla (@NY Times), When the Bullies Turned Faceless: Cellphone cameras and text messages, social networking websites, e-mail and IM, all give teenagers more ways to play tricks on one another. (@NYTimes), Every Loo Must Have One: Bathroom Books (@Guardian UK)
quote: "We don't know what humans are like. And the ground is not economics; it's not like people do everything they do for economic reasons. You've got to look at the imagination; you've got to look at sex. We have no way of describing these things using the language we have." (Kathy Acker)
links: The Hate That Hate Doesn't Produce: "Fall From Grace") (@fourfour), Nancy Redd Sees Vulva Everywhere: "Body Drama" (@New York Mag)
quote: "For somewhere there is an ancient enmity between our daily life and the great work. Help me, in saying it, to understand it." (from Rilke, "Requiem for a Friend")
links:Kids Say the Most Homophobic Things (@youtube), NY Magazine's Best of 2007 (@NY Mag), Feministing Holiday Gift Guide (@feministing), Holiday Gift Guide (@nerve)
quote: "This happens. This is something that happens." (Stanley, Magnolia)
links: "Bill and Hillary Clinton's Pitch in Iowa: 'I Love the 90's'" (@NY Times), Lily Allen Joins Orange Prize Judges(@Guardian UK)
12.12.07: DO THIS "Listen, my truest love ..." (Stephen Dunn)
links: The Charity Buzz Auctions Benefiting the Paris Review, Listening to Films, Radar Reviews "Helevectia"
quote: "Well, you and I have different management styles. I believe work should be fun, and you try to crush people's spirits. What's next, Michael? Are you going to make dancing illegal? Is this the tiny town from Footloose?" (Lindsay, Arrested Development)
links: The Best Year-End Books List I've Seen @ (The Year in Reading/The Millions), The King of Sentences, by Jonathan Lethem (fiction @ The New Yorker), Shopping with Kate Moenning (@YouTube).
quote: "Trees in their youth look younger/than almost anything/I mean/In the spring/When they put forth green leaves and try/to look like real trees/Honest to God/I can see them trying." (Jack Spicer)
links: From The Sunday NY Times -- Radiohead: Pay What You Want For This Article,Your Child's Disorder May Be Yours, Too, The Year of Dressing Dangerously: Monthly Party Gives 1992 Its Due
quote: "Books made people different, she thought. That's why Dolores felt different every day, after every book. It felt as if every book she read somehow altered her chemical constitution." (from "The Darling," Scott Bradfield.)
link: "Bloggers v. Criticism, Intro: The Critical Condition" (@TimeOut), nerve's new Hollywood Sex Scene Database (@Nerve)
quote: "My candle burns at both ends/ It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends/It gives a lovely light." (Edna St. Vincent Millay)
link: Autostraddle Season Five Recap Trailer Vlog #3, Laureate Attacks Poetry Teaching (@BBC News), Hollywood's Plastic Surgery Obsession (@ RADAR online), Is an "Arrested Development" movie in the works? (@ AfterEllen),
quote: "I have never been able to understand the complaint that a story is 'depressing' because of its subject matter. What depresses me are stories that don't seem to know these things go on, or hide them in resolute chipperness; "witty" stories, in which every problem is an occasion for a joke, "upbeat" stories that flog you with transcendence. Please. We're grown-ups now, we get to stay in the kitchen when the other grown-ups talk." (Tobias Wolff, Intro to Vintage Book of Contemporary Short Stories)
link: Permalancers Get Cancer Too! (@Gawker), Return to Fat Camp @ fourfour, Marcel Berlins on the Last Lines to a Story He Adored by Raymond Carver, "I Feel Betrayed ... I Think." (@guardian uk)
This is so bad, it's almost good.
Enid: This is so bad it's gone past good and back to bad again.
(Ghost World)
link: Interview with Dani Who Still Has a Shot at Love! (@afterellen), Rachel Started Her Blog Again!, Viacom Screws Everyone (@gawker), 2007 Holiday Gift Guide: Music, Books, Fashion, Home, Dining & Wine (@The NY Times), Asperger's Syndrome Gets a Very Public Face (Heather from ANTM) (@The NY Times)
quote: "In my opinion, all men are islands. And what's more, now's the time to be one. This is an island age. It helps to think of the day as units of time, each unit consisting of thirty minutes. Most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath. Doing the crossword. Exercising. Three units. Carefully trimming my perfectly unkempt hair, two units, easy. All in all, I had a very full life." (About a Boy)
link: ANTM Recap @fourfour, Books on a Plane (@Book Cannibal), "Found Objects" by Jennifer Egan (@The New Yorker), "Gawker" Obituary (@n+1),
"Feeling screwed up at a screwed up time in a screwed up place does not necessarily make you screwed up." (Pump up the Volume)
link haze: New Dolly Parton Video featuring Amy Sedaris! (@Queerty), The Encyclopedia of Lesbian Movie Scenes (seriously, exhausting resource heaven), Two Gawker Editors Decide Not To Be Douchebags (@NYmag), Disney's $4 Billion "Princess" Brand (@Newsweek), What's Wrong With the American Essay? (@truthdig), "Is Reading Just About Making You Look Cool?" (@the Guardian UK)
quote: "People say with the book sometimes, "How did you write this book, it has no self-pity? It's compassionate. Dah, dah, dah."I say you should have seen the drafts. They are full of self-pity and ridiculous rages. And I edited them out mostly because when you look at the stuff on page it doesn't ring true, actually. It does feel like a diversion from the essential state. Which, hopefully if you can get to it, is a little purer." (Nick Flynn)
link: The Classless Utopia of Reality TV (@The NY Times), Pulse: The Glamour Girl (What Serena van der Woodsen is wearing) (@The NY Times)
quote: "Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust, and when you're up, it's never as good as it seems, and when you're down, you never think you'll be up again. But life goes on." (Blow)
link: The New York Weekend From Hell (@Gawker), From Lowest to Highest: The Levels of Greatness a Fiction Writer can achieve in America (@The Stranger)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Auto-Fun Archive: Novemeber

quote: Love is not/enough. We die and are put into the earth forever./We should insist while there is still time. We must/eat through the wildness of her sweet body already/in our bed to reach the body within the body.
(from "Tear it Down," Jack Gilbert)
link: Everybody Needs Writers (The Guardian Books), Gifts You Give Yourself (Nico Muhly)

quote: "Harry, you're going to have to try and find a way of not expressing every feeling that you have every moment that you have one." (When Harry Met Sally)
link: New AutoStraddle, w/Vlogs!, FourFour's ANTM recap

quote: "Why not make your life easier? I mean, life is so fucking hard, even when it's easy." (Margaret, Six Feet Under)
link: This Always Makes Me Happy, (DD), Full Throttle (SFU), Dance With Me (Angels in America), Brenda Dickinson: Welcome to My Home.

quote: "But there come times--perhaps this is one of them when we have to take ourselves more seriously or die; when we have to pull back from the incantations, rhythms we've moved to thoughtlessly--" (Adrienne Rich)
link: Calling All Angels (SFU)

quote: "For the explosive word /falls harmlessly/eternal through/the compact generations/and except for you/nothing/denotates/its sweet-scented dynamite."
link: Subject, Verb, Object (poem @ The New Yorker)

Occasionally something will give pleasure, will actually charm or divert or entertain, will, to use that terrifying word, disarm. Insofar as our fearful, compulsive, rigid natures allow, I think we should welcome what follows, since for natures of this kind, there is no embrace until one has been disarmed. (Louise Gluck, "Fear of Happiness," The Michigan Quarterly Review)
link: 100 Notable Books of The Year @ The NY Times, A Few Words With Chevy Chase @ NY Mag, Have Mercy! A "Full House" Marathon @ EW's PopWatch.

quote: "These subversive characters [Huck Finn and Jim], like Ellison's Invisible Man, Fitzgerald's Gatsby, Hurston's Janine -- all outcasts who refuse to comply -- are part of a tradition in American fiction. Like Huck, they risk hell but trust their own instincts and experiences above static convention. They are thoughtful and reflect upon these experiences; they are critical not just of others but of themselves, and they act upon their reflections. This is the American idea I would like to return to: a slight subversion, an instinctive urge to do the right thing, which, in the eyes of the "correct" world, might seem to be exactly the wrong thing." (Azar Nafisi, on "The American Idea" in The Atlantic Monthly)
link: Ali Smith's "Literary Top Ten" (pulp net)
"Things I've Bought That I Love" (Office writer Mindy Kaling's blog, hilarious)

quote: "Happy Thanksgiving! The Apple Store has my computer for 3-5 days, I am obvs dying a slow and painful death. Luckily, I'm using Hav's laptop right now, and there will be a Vlog." (Riese, "Haviland's MacBook")
link: Johnny McGovern's Plymouth Rock Band Gay Pimpin' Thanksgivin' (LogoOnline/Carly's hot editing skills, holla!)

quote: "A woman with desperately bony calves, made stark by her big high heels, grinned at someone across the room, her grin a signal of deep things inside both of them that nobody else could see. Sometimes I saw the goodwill and the deep things and longed to know them. Sometimes I saw the thrusting jaw and the bony calves and thurst up my nose. Because I could never fully have either feeling, I stayed detached. It was as if I were seventeen again and longing to live inside a world described by music-- a world that was sad at being turned into a machine, but ecstatic, too, singing on the surface of its human heart as the machine spread through its tissues and silenced the flow of its blood. In this world, there were n good things, no vulgar goodwill, only rigorous form and beauty, and even songs about mass death could be sung on the light and playful surface of the heart." (Mary Gaitskill, Veronica)
(NY Times NEA report goes here)
Four Four's ANTM Recap

quote: "It is worse even than you expected, stepping out into the morning. The glare is like a mother's reproach. the sidewalk sparkles cruelly. Visibility unlimited. the downtown warehouses look serene and resetful in this beveled light ... You know for a fact that if you go out into the morning alone, without even your sunglasses--which you have neglected to bring, because who, after all, plans on these travesties?--the harsh, angling light will turn you to flesh and bone. Mortality will pierce you through the retina." (Jay McInerney, "Bright Lights Big City")
link: Watch Bad Girls video recaps on Logo [edited by Carlytron!]

quote: "You're always sort of on the edge of life when everything could end. Obviously not everyone feels that way, but certainly for me, I feel like nothing lasts forever. I'd like everything to last forever, but it doesn't necessarily. So I always feel like I'm on guard, and I'm always on edge. That song is sort of like a reminder to be caught up in the moment and a reminder that we are right next to each other and feel very different." (Tegan)
links: Tegan and Sara fan-site, Tegan & Sara cover "Umbrella", music video of "The Con," "Back in Your Head," playing "I Know I Know I Know," playing "Dancing in the Dark" at a radio station interview.

quote: (riese get with it)

link: Everybody is Happy Now - Margaret Atwood on "A Brave New World" @ The Guardian


quote: "Have you grown any this year? I've hardly grown at all. Not up and not out, either. But I have learned a lot." (Judy Blume, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself)
link: Salon's Sexiest Men Living (includes Ira Glass, Strongbad, Kanye West and Junot Diaz. Holla.)


"I love the good home/cliches can find in an authentic voice." (Stephen Dunn, "Loves")
link: The New Online Star System: complete guide to what web video is worth a click (New York Magazine), Join the Auto-Win/Straddle Facebook Club NOW


"Whenever in my dreams, I see the dead, they always appear silent, bothered, strangely depressed, quite unlike their dear bright selves. I am aware of them, without any astonishment, in surroundings they never visited during their earthly existence, in the house of some friend of mine they never knew. They sit apart, frowning at the floor, as if death were a dark taint, a shameful family secret. It is certainly not then — not in dreams — but when one is wide awake, at moments of robust joy and achievement, on the highest terrace of consciousness, that mortality has a chance to peer beyond its own limits, from the mast, from the past and its castle-tower. And although nothing much can be seen through the mist, there is somehow the blissful feeling that one is looking in the right direction." (Vladimir Nabakov)
-I Wrote This In 1999 About my Dad
-FourFour's Recap of America's Next Top Model: "Fat Chance."
-Join the Auto-Win/Straddle Facebook Club NOW

quote: And we turn him into an anecdote, with no teeth, and a punchline you'll tell for years to come: "Oh, that reminds me of the time the imposter came into our house." "Oh! Tell the one about that boy." And we become these human jukeboxes spitting out these anecdotes to dine out on like we're doing right now. Well I will not turn him into an anecdote, it was an experience. How do we hold onto the experience? (Ouisa, from John Guare's "Six Degrees of Separation")
Nerve Film Lounge: Five Conversations about Fast Times at Ridgemont High
link: The entire lesbian storyline of British series "Sugar Rush" on youtube.

quote: "What makes humans human is precisely that they do not know the future. That is why they do the fateful and amusing things they do: who can say how anything will turn out? Therein lies the only hope for redemption, discovery, and--let's be frank--fun, fun, fun! There might be things people will get away with. And not just motel towels. There might be great illicit loves, enduring joy, faith-shaking accidents with farm machinery. But you have to not know in order to see what stories your life's efforts bring you. The mystery is all." ("People Like That Are The Only People Here," Lorrie Moore)
link:The entire lesbian storyline of British series "Sugar Rush" on youtube.
The Way We Eat: The Hollywood Diet @ NY Times.

"In one of the dialogues," I said, "Phaedrus asks Socrates whether it's better to spend your life with someone who you're compatible with, like a friend, or someone who you're crazy for, someone who'll make your life a living hell."
"And what does Socrates say?" Henry said.
"He says you should be with someone you can get along with, and he spends thirty pages proving it ... logically ... like a theorem." I watched the shadow of relief cross the faces of both men.
"Then," I said, "he changes his mind."
"And says you should be with the person who makes your life a living hell," Henry said.
"What he says," I said, "is that when we fall full tilt in love with somebody, it's because our soul recognizes another soul that it was mingled with on some previous plane."
"Socrates says full tilt?" Carter said.
"He says, but what is man's logical reasoning, compared to the power of divine madness?"
[from "The Moon is a Woman's First Husband," by Pam Houston]
link: FIRED! by Annabelle Gurwitch

quote: "For the explosive word/falls harmlessly/eternal through/the compact generations
and except for you
-[from "preamble," cocteau]
Alison MacLeod's Top 10 Short Stories [The Guardian Unlimited Books]

If you & I were talking right now and I said "happy birthday!" and you said "It's your mom's birthday!" I'd be like, "IT TOTALLY IS."
quote: "Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private. " [Allen Ginsberg]
link: BIG NEWS YOU GUYS: Haviland has redesigned her website. No more scrolling. Word up to a;ex vega and stef. I wrote the bio, obvs.

quote: "Human flesh needs human flesh. Because only flesh is value," R continued, "I'm increasing my suffering 'cause I have to be stronger to be a writer. I'm training myself." Humans always look for a reason for their suffering. (Kathy Acker)
link: "Flying to America" by Donald Barthelme reviewed by Sam Anderson [New York Magazine] (he said "totes"!)

"Night is longing, longing, longing, beyond all endurance." (Henry Miller)
link: fourfour's Recap of the ANTM clip show (he said "true story"!!)
Playboy Blog - How Dirty Are You? (I'm totally quoted!!)

quote: "From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reasons that no one knows?" (Ernest Hemmingway, The Paris Review Interviews)
link: The Autumn of the Multitaskers [The Atlantic]

Lester Burnham: You don't think it's kinda weird & fascist?
Carolyn Burnham: Possibly, but you don't want to be unemployed.
Lester Burnham: Oh well, all right, let's all sell our souls and work for Satan because it's more convenient that way.
(American Beauty)
link:"The Accidental Plagiarist" Virginia Quarterly

quote:"Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed— would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper— the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever." [George Orwell, 1984]
link: Frederick Seidel : The Motorcycle Diarist [New York Times]

quote: "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." (George Orwell)
link: "How to be a Writer" by Lorrie Moore (New York Times, 1998)

"In Manhattan, I learned a public kindness
was a triumph
over the push of money, the constrictions
of fear. If it occurred it came
from some deep
primal memory, almost entirely lost --
Here, let me help you, then you me,
otherwise we'll die."
(From "Kindness," by Stephen Dunn)
"Consolation and the Order of the World," by Charles Wright
"The Great Novel I Never Read," Slate Magazine, [Writers Confess What They Haven't Read]

Friday, November 23, 2007

Azar Nafisi: "The American Idea: Sivilization"

On the first page of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck informs us that the Widow Douglas decided to take him up and "sivilize" him, but

it was rough living in the house all the time, considering how dismal regular and decent the widow was in her ways; and so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out.

The way Huck subverts a whole way of living, a way of thinking and relating to the world,by misspelling a word is to my mind a pure expression of the American idea. That idea is always threatened by another: the secure and smug world from which Huck and Jim turn away. Throughout the book, Huck and Jim turn the "decent" and "sivilized" world on its head, and we come out in the end with a new definition of these words.

These subversive characters, like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby, Zora Neale Hurston's Janine -- all outcasts who refuse to comply -- are part of a tradition in American fiction. Like Huck, they risk hell but trust their own instincts and experiences above static convention. They are thoughtful and reflect upon these experiences; they are critical not just of others but of themselves, and they act upon their reflections. This is the American idea I would like to return to: a slight subversion, an instinctive urge to do the right thing, which, in the eyes of the "correct" world, might seem to be exactly the wrong thing.

The idea that I want to believe America was founded on also depended on challenging the world as it is and, by standing up to civilized society, redefining it. That idea was essentially based on a poetic vision, on imagining something that did not exist. It has been pointed out that the man who wrote the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence -- who could state with simplicity and beauty that every individual has the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" -- was himself a slaveowner. Jefferson lived in a slave-owning society, one in which half of the non-slave population, the women, were not equal citizens. Yet for all its flaws, that society's saving grace was its foundation on a certain set of beliefs that transcended on the individuals, their prejudices, and their times and allowed for the possibility of a different future, foreshadowing a time when other women and men, a Martin Luther King Jr. or an Elizabeth Cady Stanton, could take their ideas and words and suffuse them with new and risky and bold meanings, and with new dreams.

Huck closes his adventures with this statement:

But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

This, of course, is the whole point: In order to keep the American idea fresh and new, it must be constantly challenged. For the American idea to endure, we have to "light out," and to find new ways to resist the "sivilizing" impulse of the Widow Douglases and Aunt Sallys among us.

And yet today it seems that America, gripped by social and political crisis, has become almost forgetful of that idea. Cyncial, shallow, defensive and at the same time arrogant and greedy, it is unfaithful to its instincts and refuses to be reflective, mistaking blame for criticism and self-criticism, and believing that success at any cost is more important than failure with honor, taking as its idea the Widow Douglas's paradise rather than Huck Finn's hell.

The question is: Can we still hope to be a little less "sivilized"?

By Azar Nafasi, Atlantic Monthly November 2007, "The American Idea"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Top Ten: You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea


I'm kinda sick of talking about myself [this won't last, obvs] and I had this idea for a Sunday Top Ten that I want YOU to help out with ... there's been a lot of discussion lately about the perils of emotional honesty, cyber-honesty in particular. Um, and not to sound like Dr. Phil/Oprah ... but I've been privy to a lot of "What I Want to Say But I Can't" stories this week (slash-always) -- personal secrets you can't share for logistical reasons, emotions you don't feel comfortable expressing to anyone sometimes not even yourself, or stuff you do talk about all the time but can't talk about online ... for example, probs a lot of you are crackheads or something, right? You can't be any geek off the street, gotta be handy with the steel if you know what I mean, earn your keep, regulators, mount up!

So .... here's where you come in, if you want to come in: Tell me your secrets. What is something you'd like to write about on your blog if you have one, or even just talk about in real life, but for whatever reason, you feel like you can't? Something you'd never divulge on the internet under your own name, something that's happening in your life that you want to say or talk about ... but can't. Or even just a funny/embarrassing confession/desire.

It's like PostSecret, but Auto-Secret.

I won't use your actual name [unless you want me to?], so give me a fake name if you have a preferred alias or I'll make one up for you. I'm also gonna re-write what you tell me in my own words/style, so you don't need to worry about someone identifying your work 'cause of your writing style or Australian spelling or English-as-a-second-language thingie. When I am done butchering your stuff, it'll all be in Australian spelling and abbreviated to head-explosion-worthy proportions. You can also send pictures or something. I don't know, your hidden tattoo? A drawing? I dunno. Whatevs floats your hot boat.

Also, feel free to email me back from a different email address if you know me and want to participate but don't want me to know your secret, either. Just put "Secret Sunday Top Ten" in the subject line.

You may be asking yourself: why, Riese, should I do this for you? The answer is: Why NOT? Is it your birthday? Are you bathing your children or washing your hair? Okay, well, when you're done, do this. Also, you could not do it, too. I can't tell you what to do, you have to go your own way and make your own path in life ... I can't think of any reasons why. Just um, because.

If you don't get it into me before Sunday afternoon, that's cool, whenevs, because I'm thinking there probs'll be enough to do another installment or many, and I'll probs put an open call on the blog if it goes well. And there's nothing I love more than installments. That's right -- nothing, not even you, Haviland. (JK I love you more than installments)

I probs forgot to add people to this email and everyone is BCC'ed, so just um ...

... feel free to pass this on to whomevs.



P.S. If you do want me to use your own words, link to you, or anything, obvs I will. I'll do anything, you say jump, I say tell me more.
P.P.S. Or if you prefer to express yourself in visual images, go for it. I'll publish anything. Just tell me something good.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stephen Dunn: "Parable of the Fictionist"

He wanted to own his own past,
be able to manage it
more than it managed him.
he wanted all the unfair
advantages of the charmed.
He selected his childhood,
told only those stories
that mixed loneliness with
rebellion, a boy's locked heart
with the wildness
allowed inside a playing field.
And after he invented himself
and those he wished to know him
knew him as he wished to be known,
he turned toward the world
with the world that was within him
and shapes resulted, versions,
In his leisure he invented women,
then spoke to them about
his inventions, the wish just
slightly ahead of the truth,
making it possible.
All around him he heard
the unforgivable stories
of the sincere, the boring,
and knew his way was righteous,
though in the evenings, alone
with the world he'd created
he sometimes longed
for what he'd dare not alter,
or couldn't, something immutable
or so lovely he might be changed
by it, nameless but with a name
he feared waits until you're worthy,
then chooses you.

(from Local Time, 1986, or New and Selected Poems 1974-1994)

Raymond Carver: "Your Dog Dies"

Your Dog Dies

it gets run over by a van.
you find it at the side of the road
and bury it.
you feel bad about it.
you feel bad personally,
but you feel bad for your daughter
because it was her pet,
and she loved it so.
she used to croon to it
and let it sleep in her bed.
you write a poem about it.
you call it a poem for your daughter,
about the dog getting run over by a van
and how you looked after it,
took it out into the woods
and buried it deep, deep,
and that poem turns out so good
you're almost glad the little dog
was run over, or else you'd never
have written that good poem.
then you sit down to write
a poem about writing a poem
about the death of that dog,
but while you're writing you
hear a woman scream
your name, your first name,
both syllables,
and your heart stops.
after a minute, you continue writing.
she screams again.
you wonder how long this can go on.

(From All of Us)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chris Pureka, "Everything is Free"

Everything is free now,
That's what they say.
Everything I ever done,
Gotta give it away.
Someone hit the big score.
They figured it out,
That we're gonna do it anyway,
Even if doesn't pay.

I can get a tip jar,
Gas up the car,
And try to make a little change
Down at the bar.

Or I can get a straight job,
I've done it before.
I never minded working hard,
It's who I'm working for.

'Cause everything is free now,
That's what they say.
Everything I ever done,
Gotta give it away.
Someone hit the big score.
They figured it out,
That we're gonna do it anyway,
Even if doesn't pay.

Every day I wake up,
Hummin' a song.
But I don't need to run around,
I just stay home.

And sing a little love song,
My love, to myself.
If there's something that you want to hear,
You can sing it yourself.

'Cause everything is free now,
That what I say.
No one's got to listen to
The words in my head.
Someone hit the big score,
And I figured it out,
That we're gonna do it anyway,
Even if doesn't pay.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Auto-Fun Archive: October

quote: "First of all, are you our sort of person?" (Sylvia Plath, "The Applicant")
quote: "Until I was in my early thirties, I never sent a Birthday, Christmas, or anniversary card. Not because I didn't think to, but because I could never get it together in time. I had no training in this simple, respectful task. I specialized in chaos. In nearly destroying myself, and then rebuilding myself, which is exactly what I watched my mother do, year after year, throughout my childhood. It's amazing how this happens. How you become your parents, even though you are determined not to. And sometimes, you become them in ways that are quite transparent to your own eyes. Such as, becoming the opposite." (Augusten Burroughs, "Santa Shrink," Black Book)
link: fourfour's ANTM Recap: "Despite What She Says, [T]yra [B]anks is Not Jesus Christ."
quote: "From infancy on, we are all spies; the shame is not this but that the secrets to be discovered are so paltry and few." (John Updike)
link: "A Teenager in Love (So-Called)", New York Times. (opening line: "To a certain sort of woman who is somewhere between late youth and unacknowledged middle age, the name Jordan Catalano isn't a television reference, it is a sense memory.")
quote: "What makes humans human is precisely that they do not know the future. That is why they do the fateful and amusing things they do: who can say how anything will turn out? Therein lies the only hope for redemption, discovery, and -- let's be frank -- fun, fun, fun! There might be things people will get away with. And not just motel towels. There might be great illicit loves, enduring joy, faith-shaking accidents with farm machinery. But you have to not know in order to see what stories your life's efforts bring you. The mystery is all." (Lorrie Moore, "People Like That Are the Only People Here.")
link: David Sedaris interview, The Chicago Tribune
quote: "After all, your style is you. At the end the personality of a writer has so much to do with the work. The personality has to be humanly there. Personality is a debased word, I know, but it's what I mean. The writer's individual humanity, his word or gesture toward the world, has to appear almost like a character that makes contact with the reader. If the personality is vague or confused or merely literary, ca ne va pas." (Truman Capote, Paris Review Interview)
link:'How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read' Proves its Own Point [New York Magazine]
quote: "One day, standing in the river with my flyrod, I'll have the courage to admit my life." (Jim Harrison)
link:Video of Tegan & Sara covering Umbrella
Auto-Straddle "L Word" Pilot Recap

"I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what's going to happen."
(Raymond Carver, "At Least")
FourFour's ANTM Recap 10-22
The past around us is deeper than.
Present events defy us, the past
Has no such scruples.
(Jack Spicer, "Six Poems for Poetry Chicago")

Marjane Satrapi-Interview with Deborah Soloman at NY Times Magazine
quote: "I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them. I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!" (Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes)
link: My Favorite part of this is the Comments [Why Don't We Get Drunk and Blog?]
quote: "None of us seemed to know the nature of the coincidences that bound us together, as I know now, or that junkies and masochists and hookers and those who have squandered everything are the ring of brightest angels around heaven." (Rick Moody, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven)
quote: "What a terrible mistake to let go of something wonderful for something real." (Miranda July, "Making Love in 2003," No one belongs here more than you.)
Cecily Von Ziegesar's Note to GG Readers on Amazon
Gran: Talking to yourself dear? That's the first sign of madness, you know.
Eddie: Really? I thought it was talking to you.
(Absolutely Fabulous)
link: Girlbomb: How Long Were You Working On Your First Book?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lorrie Moore, from the short stories of

"... her husband had said, in the circuitous syntax and ponderous Louisiana drawl that, like so much else about him, had once made her misty with desire and now drove her nuts with scorn."
("Real Estate," Birds of America)

"She glared at him and tried not to cry. She hadn't loved him enough and he had sensed it. She hadn't really loved him at all, not really. But she had liked him a lot! So it still seemed unfair. A bone in her opened up, gleaming and pale, and she held it to the light and spoke from it:
"I want to know one thing." She paused, not really for effect, but it had one. "Did you have oral sex?"
("Willing," Like Life)

"It is like having a book out from the library.
it is like constantly having a book out from the library."
("How to be an other Woman," Self Help)

"Sidra. This is not right! You need to go out with someone really smart for a change."
"I've been out with smart. I've been out with someone who had two Ph.D's. We spent all of our time in bed with the light on, proofreading his vita." She sighed. "Every little thing he'd ever done, every little, little, little. I mean, have you ever seen a vita?"
("Willing," Like Life)

"That had been in Agnes's mishmash decade, after college. She had lived improvisationally then, getting this job or that, in restaurants or offices, taking a class or two, not thinking too far ahead, negotiating the precariousness and subway flus and scrimping for an occasional manicure or a play. Such a life required much exaggerated self-esteem. It engaged gross quantitities of hope and despair and set them wildly side by side, like a Third World country of the heart. Her days grew messy with contradictions. When she went for walks, for her health, cinders would spot her cheecks and soot would settle in the furled leaf of each ear. Her shoes became unspeakable. Her blouses darkened in a breeze, and a blast of bus exhaust might linger in her hair for hours. Finally, her old asthma returned and, with a hacking , incressant cough, she gave up."
("Agnes of Iowa," Birds of America)

"The only expression she can get from Andrew is a derisive one. He is a traffic cop. She is the speeding flower child."
("Charades," Birds of America)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

George Szirtes: "Questions for Stan Laurel" and "Canzone"

From Guernica/Two Poems:
by George Szirtes
(link to Gurenica)

Questions for Stan Laurel

How could the body not be comical
when the music it plays is the fiddling of bones,
the deep fart of flesh in the stalls,
the high whine of bagpipes in the ear,
a fusillade of drumming automatics,
a small rattling of hollow balls,
the faint harmonics of the queer?

How could the body not be comical when one
is fat, the other thin and the belly droops
to the crotch, and the sliding trombone
is the ripping of pants in the sunshine,
when comedy is being unhurt in the shadow
of the great cliff having fallen from air
and proving the hard ground harmless?

How could the body not be comical when grace
is the other name of loss, along with scapegrace, disgrace,
the un-grace entailed in clumsiness?
How could your body not be mine and mine yours
in the constant exchange of bodies, from the svelte
athlete, the ploughman with his lunch, the groan
of the almost defeated Bulgarian weightlifter,

when it is the child’s body that holds
no surprises? When the song and dance
you break into begins as something twangs
in the doorway and the barbershop boys sing
you into the eternal bar kept open for such as you,
and the terrible force of the mallet on your head
makes you break into your one true falsetto.
for Marilyn Hacker

Somewhere there is a perfect architecture
where light, form, shadow, space all move
to form a language beyond architecture,
where to dream of the wrong architecture
is to dream of dying. But waking bans
the dream and reinvents the architecture
of the empty day that is all architecture
and no dream. Is there somewhere a culprit
we might blame for this, and is the culprit
ourselves? We make our own architecture
and live in it as in a house of ill fame,
it being all we desire of fame.

Our fame is inward: it is a private fame
for which we must create an architecture
of outwardness if only because fame
cannot remain private if it is to be fame.
We know our names and must pronounce the bans
from the pulpit of our anonymous fame.
Who can object to this? It is our own fame
we give names to, couple with and move
house with. It is ourselves we move
and no one else. We proclaim our fame
to the walls that recognise a culprit
when they hear one: name itself is culprit.

And what, after all, is it to be a culprit?
It is to have a certain portion of fame
and take it for self, blaming the culprit
for desire to survive merely as a culprit.
It is the self building an architecture
in which it may be possible to be a culprit.
But who could bear always to be a culprit,
a culprit, what is more, at one remove
beyond the self, unable to move
a culprit in a pulpit perhaps but still a culprit,
subject therefore to all the usual bans,
both hating and welcoming such bans?

There’s a certain kind of building the city bans,
the builder of which it treats as a culprit,
applying not only these but other bans,
because cities depend on applying bans
in case the rampant self obscures the fame
due only to cities. Order dictates bans:
bans dictate anonymity. No one bans
no one. None may construct the architecture
that is merely a building calling itself architecture.
The self may bar itself against some bans
but no self can afford to stay still. It must move.
There’s always another building, one more move.

Self is an architecture that must move
in order to accommodate. No self bans
movement because it knows that to move
is to survive. Heart must beat, blood move
around the building. To live is to be a culprit.
And then another enters with a neat move
slick as a poem that is obliged to move
the heart, which is all a self can know of fame,
bestowing fame through accommodation. Fame
at last is words like these, constantly on the move
turning the building into architecture
or simply calling the building architecture.

I touch the miraculous architecture
of your face feeling its own solitary fame
knowing myself both self and culprit.
Something inside the word rebels, bans
conversation. It’s language on the move.

Micheal Cunningham, from the novels of

"We become the stories we tell about ourselves." (A Home at the End of the World)

"If the life you lead is not the one you dreamed about, then flee." (A Home at the End of the World)

"She always surprises you this way, by knowing more than you think she does. Louis wonders if they're calculated, these little demonstrations of self-knowledge that pepper Clarissa's wise, hostessy performance. She seems, at times, to have read your thoughts. She disarms you by saying, essentially, I know what you're thinking and I agree, I'm ridiculous, I'm far less than I could have been and I'd like to be otherwise but I can't seem to help myself. You find that you move, almost against your will, from being irritated with her to consoling her, helping her back into her performance so that she can be comfortable again and you can resume feeling irritated." (The Hours)

"Perhaps, in the extravagance of youth, we give away our devotions easily and all but arbitrarily, on the mistaken assumption that we'll always have more to give." (A Home at the End of the World)

"Like many of us, she had grown up expecting romance to bestow dignity and direction." (A Home at the End of the World)

Friday, October 26, 2007

John Updike, random quotes of

"From infancy on, we are all spies; the shame is not this but that the secrets to be discovered are so paltry and few."

"The true New Yorker secretly believes that anyone living anywhere else must somehow, in a sense, be kidding.”

"Most of American life consists of driving somewhere and then returning home, wondering why the hell you went.”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Stephen Dunn: "Corners" and selections from "Loves"


I've sought out corner bars, lived in corner houses;
like everyone else I've reserved
corner tables, thinking they'd be sufficient.
I've met at corners
perceived as crossroads, lonved to find love
leaning against a lamp post
but have known the abruptness of corners too,
the pivot, the silence.
I've sat in corners at parties hoping for someone
who knew the virtue
of both distance and close quarters, someone with a corner person's taste
for intimacy, hard won, rising out of shyness
and desire.
And I've turned corners there was no going back to,
in the middle of a room that led
to Spain or solitude.
And always the thin line between corner
and cornered,
the good corners of bodies and those severe bodies
that permit no repose,
the places we retreat to, the places we can't bear
to be found.

-from Not Dancing (1984) and New & Selected Poems (1994)


From "Loves":

"I love love, for example,
its diminishments and renewals,
I love being the
stupidest happy kid on the block."

"So good to find htem:
he people who've
discovered fraudulence in their lives
who've cast off, say
a twenty-year lie."

"Those who've gotten away from me:
read this, and call.
Those whom I've hurt:
I wanted everything, or not enough.
It was all my fault."

"I love the number of people
you can love at the same time,
one deep erotic love,
radiating even to strangers,
cynics, making a temporary sense
of the senseless, choreful day."

"Listen, my truest love.
I've tried to clear a late century place for us
in among the shards.
Lie down, tell me what you need.
Here is where loneliness can live
with failure,
and nothing's complete.
I love how we go on."

-from New & Selected Poems (1994)

Monday, October 1, 2007