Catching Up 2 – The Journals

10 06 2007

Of the folks still working at the old stand, some have improved, some have deteriorated, and some are, well, exactly what they’ve always been.

In the first category is Jen Balderama of Nonsense Verse (original review is here). Although she doesn’t post often, when she does she rarely misses. Her writing has deepened significantly in the past couple of years it seems to me. This is from a post about writing.

[F]or those who have fallen in love with an art, walking away, or being forced away, creates an irreparable wound, not unlike that of the amputee haunted by phantom pain. The limb is gone, and the amputee, no matter the prosthetics applied, will never be what she once was: whole. The artist severed from her art may not suffer in the same physical sense, the pain may not be located in a specific place, but the ghostly ache is there and always will be.

This all may sound overly dramatic, and yet, the comparison is apt if one is to comprehend the difficulty with which the artist, having lost one art, can even begin to consider picking up and moving on to the next. The artist is haunted by pain.

Indeed. I don’t have her chops but I’ve been writing since I learned how, and there was a period when I quit for 20 years. I couldn’t sell anything, nobody but me seemed to like to read what I was writing, and my relationships were all endangered by the time I gave to it. What’s the point? I asked myself, and answer came there none, so I just…stopped. For the next two decades I felt just the way she described – as if a part of my body was missing. It took me years to figure out why I was so miserable, and at that point I frankly didn’t care if I never sold a damn thing. I just wanted the pain to stop.

And it did. For a real writer (as opposed to an “author”), no matter how hard it is to write, not writing is harder and more painful. Her post catches beautifully the cast of mind, the shifts of allegiance, the doubts and the devils. It’s all there, it’s all true, and she manages to describe it without whining or complaint. Now that’s talent.

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Catching Up – The Comics

5 06 2007

As has become our habit when we re-animate LitBlogs yet again (monotonous, isn’t it?), we will begin our newest round of documenting literary blogs by returning to the sites we’ve already reviewed and marking any changes. And believe me, have there been changes. Some are wonderful, even inspiring. Others are downright depressing.

Like the number of brilliant bloggers we’ve lost in this past year. The comic blogosphere has been particularly hard-hit. Two of the three funniest net-exclusive bloggers have vanished without a trace.

Chris, who was responsible for the satiric genius and laff-out-loud gut-busting of the Fafblog!, hasn’t written a post since July of ’06. That doesn’t mean he and his crew of space-light alien-cookies won’t be back at some point – after all, if Shakespeare can return (more later), there’s hope for everybody – but it’s not looking good. One longs to hear Giblets defend Libby while Fafnir taste-tests various PopTart frostings and then goes into paroxysms of delight over the comparatively high food-value of the cardboard container they came in. Brad Delong called Fafblog! a “national treasure” and somebody has clearly looted it. (Now, who could that be?)

Admittedly a poor second but amusing in its own right for totally different reasons is an homage blog – no, I’m not kidding – called I Miss fafblog, Spot! by a group of otherwise-bloggers who have appropriated fafblog‘s template in toto and attempted to foist upon it their own version of wit. Sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t. From a post of “awards” for – well, I’m not exactly sure what they’re for.

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LumpenBlog Redux: The Saga Concludes

28 05 2007

(First published Feb 16, ’05)

This is the new home of LitBlogs. Welcome to a new season of finding interesting stuff. I know this idea has been asleep for awhile and I don’t honestly know how long it will stay awake, but for as long as I can keep it up, I’ll bring you new and not-so-new sites that are playing with the blog as art form.

To start with, the impetus for reviving LitBlogs is the news that Dan Roentsch has brought the current LumpenBlog storyline to a, well, startling and hilarious conclusion. A conclusion that includes a blimp–yes, blimp is what I said and blimp is what I meant–and the mysterious Mickey Snaketail. I won’t give it away, but it seems Nefertiti Snorkjutt and Desmond Cork have hunted down the infamous Bruce and Lola (otherwise known as the Babecat) with the help of a team of detectives and the two of them are, um, rocking a, well, dumpster.

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LitBlogs Update

13 07 2004

# The latest entry at LumpenBlog, ‘Mickey Snaketail’, has Nefertiti Snorkjutt in Maui attempting to rescue Lola from the clutches of Bruce–who Lola rescued Nef from after Nef rescued Lola from… You know, this could go on forever. Cut to the chase: Bruce wins.

At last I have a chance to report on my search for the misogynist Bruce and the, well, intrepid Lola. Lola rescued me from Bruce’s clutches, only to be taken by him to Maui, where I tracked them to a popular nude beach called Baby Makena.I decided to perform what I believe the, well, gendarmes call a “stake-out.” I thought that I had come rather well-prepared to look inconspicuous, but on the very first day a presumptuous woman with nipples that point straight up walked past me and said, “Can you sweat through leather?” So I decided to sacrifice my last, well, what you might call shred of modesty and remove all of my clothes, save for the plastic strap holding my binoculars.

And if you can resist reading the rest of that, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

# At The Mermaid Tavern, the philosofairy encounters creatures in the shower drain and gets a best-selling book idea out of it. Would that it were that easy for me.

Early this morning, as she stepped into the sparkling freshness of her shower, the philosofairy came up with a surefire bestseller Book Concept.But before she tells you about this surefire bestseller Book Concept, you need to know something. The philosofairy is a lover of nature. She has immense respect for all creatures big and small, including those alligators that live in underground New York City sewers and that take their breakfast straight from the homeless person’s box. She is an advocate to the animals, and does not endorse harming any living thing (note: an exception would be made for Ashton Kutcher).

I won’t give it away but it includes references to hairy eight-legged things and The Da Vinci Code, not necessarily in that order.

# Emmett at Maine Line has written a rather unsettling post called ‘Father’s Day’. It was hard for me to read, not because it’s badly written–in fact it may be the best writing he’s done so far–but because it details the kind of horrific family nightmare we all dread: skeletons escaping from their closets. The day starts well and ends…badly. Here’s a piece of it from just before the shit hits the fan. After a decent day when ‘Nobody started a fight or picked on anybody else or went off and sulked in a corner or called anybody else vile names or gave them the finger’, they go in the house to play cribbage.

As [the game] went on dad kept getting up and leaving the room for a minute and then coming back, and he was doing this every couple minutes and I was starting to get worried, thinking he was out in the kitchen nipping off his stash on the sly. Which is just what he was doing, it turns out. Howie and me were just about to slam them with double when I put down a card that let dad hit 21 for extra points. “That was a bonehead move,” he says. I didn’t say anything but I must have looked it because Cyn jumped in and started telling a funny story about one time when she got Ma to play poker (which she didn’t know how to play) and this one hand she leaned over to Cyn and showed her her cards and whispered, “Is this any good?” and Cyn said, “Ma, you got a full house!” and Ma said, “Don’t be silly. We’ve had twice this many people over. There’s plenty of room.” Even Gary laughed at that one but then dad said, out of nowhere, “She was one stupid bitch, that woman. Don’t know why I put up with her all those years.”I froze.

What comes next is the recounting of a previous incident that left me a bit shaken, and a more or less predictable end to the day. I have never, thank god or whatever, been in that position but I know way too many people who have, and they didn’t handle it any better than Emmett. There is no good way to handle an alcoholic parent, and Emmett is honest enough to admit his wasn’t the best. If you have an alcoholic parent or are close to someone who does, read it. It won’t be easy but you’ll be glad you did. I think.

# Finally, there is a new story at Snake Tales, ‘belinda c and fergus the leprechaun plan an uprising’, the title of which pretty much says it all.

she was prepared for a rat. she was prepared for a kid swiping her tomatoes, dry, shriveled things that they were. she was even prepared for a burglar, though what he might have hoped to steal in a neighborhood like this would bear explaining. of all the things belinda c was not prepared for, at the top of the list was what she actually saw–a leprechaun perched on her chickenwire fence, munching on a lettuce leaf and talking to himself. or maybe that was singing.”shoo”, she said. “shoo. shoo.”

the leprechaun–if that’s what it was and what else could it have been?–looked up at her with mild amusement in his tiny hazel eyes. “i’m not a housefly,” he said. “or a timid field mouse with his racing shoes on at the slightest crack of twig. i’m not that easy to get rid of, if that’s what you’re hoping. why don’t you sit down in that old stuffed chair you threw out last year, and we’ll have a talk.”

Fergus has a favor to ask that involves pixies, a city construction project, and–he promises solemnly–no dragons at all. (They all moved to Cleveland.)


(cross-posted at Omnium)