Recently, I was surprised to get a letter in the mail requesting a copy of a thesis I did on zines back in the 1990s. I had interviewed a number of zine publishers and others associated with zines for the thesis and as a thank you, I put together a zine version of the thesis to send them. Being zinesters, they, of course, reviewed it in their zines and soon I had other zinesters contacting me to trade or buy a copy. One of those old zines must still be floating around somewhere because recently someone wrote me for a copy, enclosing $3 to cover postage and printing.
Well, there's been a bit of inflation since 1996, so $3 doesn't cover production costs anymore. Charmed by the request, I honored it, but this post serves as notice that this thesis is out of print. If anyone sends me $3 for a 20-year-old zine, then he or she will receive $3 back in the mail minus the cost of a stamp plus an offer to email a copy of the thesis to them.
Plus I've written better work about zines since the thesis. There's the dissertation, and, best of all, an article I wrote for Books And Beyond (get it from your local academic library).
It's nice to see that people are still interested in academic studies of zines and zines themselves. I have had a number of requests over the years from other scholars interested in zines for interviews and whatnot, but seldom does anyone remember to send me a copy of the finished work. If more academics could emulate This Document Will Self Destruct In 30 Seconds (which actually wasn't the title of the thesis; it was just a sticker from a set of spy-themed stickers that my mom gave me that I threw on the front of the zine for giggles), then that would be a good thing. Please share the results of your work with those who helped you achieve it.
The folks at New Pop Lit have been celebrating the work and legacy of writer Ernest Hemingway lately. They asked the question, "What’s your opinion of Ernest Hemingway circa 2016? Is he still relevant?” and a variety of contemporary writers, including myself, and others answered. It made for interesting reading and made me want to read some Hemingway!
*The picture is of one of the cats currently, or at least in 2009 when I took the photo, inhabiting Hemingway's old home in Key West, Florida USA.
I've held off reading V for a long time because it was the only book by Thomas Pynchon that I had never read. He's still writing, despite his age--V is over a half-century old--so the possibility exists that if he puts out a new book, then I can read another. But, otherwise, this is it, and it's always a bit sad knowing there are no more books to read by a writer whom I like. So far, V seems fairly typical of his work: characters with silly names, songs, wordplay, convoluted plots, idea heavy, and, all in all, a fun read. I'm going to take my time with this one.
It's the time of year that I get a lot of mail from lawn care companies and landscapers looking for work. The direct mail item that I received today was from one of the companies that love to dump chemicals on the lawn to make it ultragreen. The company asked, "Why not treat yourself to" . . . blah blah blah professional lawn care?
What horrible copywriting. Thanks for teeing it up for us organic lawn and antilawn folks though, guys. Here's your answer below.
Maybe because caring about how a lawn looks is a poor use of one's time, I can take care of it more cheaply myself, and I won't be unnecessarily exposing myself to potentially cancer-causing chemicals just to kill a dandelion. That's why not.
DENVER: Surprising many pundits, who expected presidential candidate Donald Trump to select his running mate on the Republican Party ticket before he selected any members of his cabinet, Trump picked his Secretary of Defense. Many commentators found this odd, given that Trump has not been elected President of the United States yet, criticism to which Trump responded later with a tweet calling the actual election a "technicality". Responding to further criticism that the Senate would never confirm Trump's selection, he also later tweeted
that he didn't care if the Senate agreed since "letting idiots
like Ted Cruz secondgeuss [sic] me is idiotic".
At the announcement press conference, Trump introduced professional wrestler Bobby Lashley, bellowing, "Folks, he did a great job defending my hair when I needed him. I'm sure he'll do a great job defending the country." Lashley, who was Trump's representative in a hair vs. hair match at WrestleMania in 2007 when he defeated Trump's rival Vince McMahon's representative which resulted in McMahon's hair getting shaved off, bounded onto the stage and flexed his muscles at the crowd. Taking the microphone from Trump, Lashley delivered a blistering promo in which he told North Korea that he would make the entire country tap out and submit until they accept capitalism and democracy. Lashley also dared terrorists to attack the United States, saying that after he defeated their plots he would then personally shave off their beards.
During the speech, Trump nodded approvingly, occasionally pumping his fist in the air to punctuate Lashley's boasts. Asked by a reporter after Lashley had given the microphone back to Trump if this premature selection of the Defense Secretary was merely a cheap attempt to cut into the traditional African-American vote for the Democratic Party, given that Lashley is African-American, Trump responded by ordering Lashley to put the reporter into The Dominator, Lashley's traditional finishing move. Lashley obliged, lifting the reporter onto Lashley's shoulders before slamming him onto the ground.
I bought Righting The Mother Tongue: From Olde English To Email, The Tangled Story Of English Spelling by David Wolman at a dollar a bag library sale. Obviously, at such a sale, I am not very picky, so anything that looks slightly interesting gets tossed in the bag, but this is a pretty good book, especially given the price of four cents or whatever. Basically, it's a journalist who read a bunch of David Crystal books and decided to write his own book about the English language. To make his book stand out, he focused his history of the English language on spelling. It has that breezy, only slightly intellectual feel that a lot of nonfiction books do these days, but it's a pleasant enough way to get a review of the history of the English language and how crazy people get about language use.
The American political system continues to be fascinating. I don't know of any other industry aside from politics where one can neglect one's current job because one is applying for another job and seemingly get away with it. The current presidential election is probably the most prominent example, but this goes on across our political system. Think about it. We have a bunch of senators, governors, and whatnot, who aren't doing their jobs because they're running for president. At least Vermont and Texas have another senator to mind things while Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are kissing babies in Iowa or whatever, but who's running Ohio while John Kasich is hanging out in diners in New Hampshire? The lieutenant governor? If that's the case, then maybe we don't need a governor, and the state can save some tax money on that salary. At least Hillary Clinton is just skipping giving a few speeches to Goldman Sachs or whatever, and Donald Trump is self-employed basically, so, unless he fires himself while having an acid flashback to his days on The Apprentice, he's likely safe. The strangest thing is that most of us are conditioned to think that this is completely normal, but just try skipping work for a few days because you're working on your job search and watch what happens.
I was finishing reading a book when I hit a few sentences in a row which dealt with numbers, and I was struck by the oddity of the conventions involving spelling numbers out and using numerals. Most of the sentences that I read involved a mix of the two. I'll use a hypothetical example: "One of the 2 teams will win the game." Why not "1 of the 2 teams will win the game." or "One of the two teams will win the game."? Either makes more sense than mixing words and numerals. It's little wonder that students using a documentation system such as MLA or APA get confused because the conventions for numbers are a bit strange. Some make sense such as using numerals when the numbers would be quite wordy to spell out, say 1,289,348, but most of the conventions seem purely arbitrary. I'm pretty certain everyone understands that "1 of the 2" and "One of the two" mean the same thing however it's expressed. I even understand "One of the 2", but it does look the goofiest. Nevertheless, somehow conventions regarding numbers and when to spell them out have arisen when they probably aren't needed. I suppose it gives English teachers and copy editors another way to make money, so I probably shouldn't complain, but no user of English should really have to worry about such stuff as long as everybody can understand, in this case, that only a single team will win the game.
I vaguely remember taping this. Metalrock was a Kill The Hippies side project, and they made a video. I appear as the Dungeons & Dragons player who calls them to his aid. That was a fun little era. The GoGoBots and Kill The Hippies both had band houses within a few blocks of one another, so we often drafted one another for various projects such as this one. The song probably goes on a bit too long, but remember it's a parody of/tribute to heavy metal, so that's probably by design.
Any book subtitled "Attack on the Front Lawn" will likely get my attention, and, so far, I have been enjoying this book. It includes a variety of essays, some of which I have read before such as Michael Pollan's "Why Mow?: The Case Against Lawns", as well as documentation of several front lawns that artist Fritz Haeg turned into gardens. I have been enjoying blackberries and strawberries from my front yard for several years now, so I am delighted to get some more ideas about how to gather more food locally, really locally, such as right out the door.
People should stop throwing chemical junk in their yards and start throwing compost instead because not only is that healthier, but it's also potentially yummier!
Well, the 2016 presidential election officially gets underway tonight with the Iowa caucuses. I like Bernie Sanders the best, but I am rooting even more for not hearing about Iowa again for the next four years. Every presidential election seems to get longer, and it always seems to get frontloaded, so the poor folks in Iowa get ever longer periods of presidential candidates interrupting their meals at restaurants to shake hands. If I shook Ted Cruz's hand while trying to eat a hamburger, I would be annoyed because that would mean I would have to wash my hands again after I just washed them to eat. The only two really good things about Donald Trump are that he has participated in professional wrestling events and that he schives shaking hands. Maybe that's why he's winning in the Iowa polls. He might be the one politician who would let you eat in peace.
Recently, I was overcharged by two companies. Oddly enough, both of them stem from Western Pennsylvania USA.
The first company, Giant Eagle, remedied the situation immediately. I bought some toilet paper on sale and was charged the normal price. When my total bill came out higher than expected, I checked the receipt and discovered the error. The clerk checked things out and verified the error. I only wanted the difference between the sale and regular price back, but the store gave me the toilet paper and gave me back the entire price I had paid for it, apologizing for the error. Wow!
That experience stood in stark contrast to the other. I had insurance with Erie Insurance through the Myers Insurance Agency in Lakewood, Ohio USA for many years. I moved and went through some other major life changes last year, and even though I had paid for a year's worth of auto insurance back in May, my agent oddly insisted that I open up a new policy, pay for it, and then the money that I paid for my old policy would be refunded. When no refund eventually showed up, I inquired about it. When I didn't hear back from my agent after 11 days and several followups, I just contacted corporate, specifically the CEO, since he always stuck his name on the letters I would get from the company. He sicced a snotty secretary on me, who gave me various goofy reasons why I wouldn't get a refund. Finally, I just ended up getting new insurance and canceling all my policies with Erie. I also complained officially to the Ohio Department Of Insurance. I was prepared even to buy a share of stock in the company just to show up at the annual shareholders meeting to complain. Fortunately, I didn't have to buy stock in such a crappy company since, amazingly enough, my refund for the old policy finally appeared.
One of these companies I will patronize again; one I will not. You can probably guess which they are. Companies can learn a lot from this juxtaposition. If you want to keep customers, treat them well and fix any mistake promptly. Most people understand that mistakes can happen, so if the situation is resolved quickly, it's usually forgiven.
I played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, so, as an adult, I was interested when I heard about Of Dice And Men: The Story Of Dungeons & Dragons And The People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt. Ewalt does a fine job of telling the game's origin, while contextualizing it by exploring the history of games in general and his personal experiences with the game. He even makes the history more fun by illustrating it with scenes from a campaign he played in at the time of the writing of the book. I don't think the book will inspire me to join a D&D campaign anytime soon, but it is fun to relive some memories and learn about the background that helped to spawn them.
Sure, it's a fake holiday brought to you by people who have a vested interest in handwriting, but it's a fun one, even if most of the arguments for the continued teaching of cursive writing are basically nostalgic nonsense, so put your John Hancock on something!
I got a treat in the mail, a copy of the new book Working Stiff: The Anthology Of Professional Wrestling & Art. It looks great! I am excited to read it! Editor Josh Olsen did a fantastic job putting this together. It features many artists and writers sharing their work with professional wrestling as the subject. I am happy to be among such a great group, including my zine pals Crazy Carl Robinson, Michael Grover, Leopold McGinnis (who includes me in the wrestlers his wrestler faces in his poem), and Pat King. My contributions include a sonnet about WrestleMania, which has never before been published (I wrote it before Rowdy Roddy Piper died, so it's even more poignant for me now), and excerpts from Blog Love Omega Glee. Reading this book will make a nice way to warm up January before the Royal Rumble!
I was flipping through the latest Rolling Stone when I turned a page and saw a photo of Marlon James. I recognized him because he stayed at my house once. About a decade ago, I used to put up touring writers at my house. I had some fun folks pass through including Crazy Carl Robinson, Sean Carswell, Mike Faloon, and The Rev. Rich Mackin. It was nice cross section of the zine scene mixed with some other parts of the indie lit world. Marlon was traveling with Mickey Hess and Joe Meno. They did a reading at Mac's Backs in Cleveland Heights, Ohio USA back in August of 2005, and I provided the introduction for the audience. I don't remember much about the night in question, aside from Marlon advising me that if I ever wanted to hide something in Jamaica that I should put a book on top of it because no one would ever pick up a book. I assume that was a joke, but feel free to try it out when next hiding valuables in Jamaica. In any case, it is nice to see one of the many fine up and coming writers from that era make a larger mark in the world of literature. Marlon won the Man Booker Prize last year. Before him, the biggest celebrity who stayed over was probably Mariko Tamiki, who won a few awards for her graphic novels years later. I no longer put up random strangers at the house (one too many folks wouldn't even leave a zine behind as a thank you for saving them a hotel bill, and one time I even had to mail someone's forgotten towel back--ugh!), but mostly it was a fun little era while it lasted. Readers should check out some of the other writers I put up. They're very good also.
It's winter now, but soon enough it will be spring, and many people will celebrate by poisoning their lawns and gardens with a bunch of chemicals that really aren't much good for anyone. I was just reading a Greenpeace publication discussing how 31% of the nation's honeybee hives collapsed last winter. Most of this is blamed on types of insecticides known as neonics, but Bonnie Coblentz, in this interesting article, suggests that herbicides may also be a threat, since destroying "weeds" is also destroying the food of bees. Since I don't use herbicides, that might be why all sorts of insects, including bees, seem to enjoy my lawn, especially when the mint plant is in full bloom in late summer. A swarm of pollinating insects surround the mint looking like a cloud of hurt to any human that approaches. However, the insects are usually so wrapped up in the mint that they have little interest in anyone who approaches it. Just don't get between them and the mint. Pick some leaves for your tea or whatever and back away. I hope more people just let the dandelions and other plants in the lawn "bee" this spring!
If you're in Cleveland, Ohio USA and like to garden, then you might enjoy this announcement from the local Food Not Lawns group:
"Food Not Lawns, Cleveland, 6th Annual Seed Swap!
The Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland
2728 Lancashire Rd.
Cleveland Hts.,OH 44106
January 23, 2016
If you are interested in gardening, community, food security,
permaculture, seed saving, and sharing, this is the place for you! Bring
saved seeds if you have them, or consider what you might swap for seeds
in goods or service, but come anyway. We will have starter seeds
available and lots of information to share. We have signed the Safe Seed
Pledge and will not knowingly share gmo/Monsanto owned seed.
Joining us will be:
Judi Strauss, of The Charmed Kitchen,with herbs,
books and more for sample and sale,
Chris McClellan, aka Uncle Mud, and
the Cleveland Natural Builders,
Glenn Gall, permaculturist, carbon
farmer and teacher, presenting
'Plant Genetics -- Food For Thought. Considerations of yield, disease
resistance, and nutrition -- how much do varieties matter? '
Don Abbott, aka The Snarky Gardener, with seeds and literature.
Refreshments are potluck. Please bring a dish to share ( and indicate if
it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or meat). Also, collecting
non-perishable food donation for Hts. Emergency Food Bank .
There will be a Freecycle table available to bring or take useful items. Residue will be donated.
Please label saved seed with as much pertinent info as possible. We will have envelopes and labels available.
Seed Savers who are willing will be with their seeds at tables to
discuss traits, growing conditions, stories about them, and aspects of
seed saving. Donated seed will be available and asked to be considered a 'loan' to be returned, if possible, the following swap. The completed
Saved Seed Inventory is available for perusal, or check it out online,
Freecycle info: Please bring gently used (or new) items to donate/swap.
If you have items left at the end of the day, take them home or leave
them for donation pick-up Monday morning.
This event is free (donations gratefully accepted), child-friendly, on a bus-line and handicapped accessible.
Volunteers are needed to help set up and clean up.
Feel free to share this info., and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Hope to see you there!"
I was reading this year's Liberty Annual by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, when I noticed the list of corporate members. It has most of the large comic book companies such as DC and Image listed, but one stood out by its absence: Marvel. I'm not quite sure why that is. Presumably Marvel's against censorship as well, but maybe their Disney ownership is squeamish about supporting an organization which defends freedom of expression right up to its extremes, which is, of course, where it always has to be defended as nonextreme expression seldom is censored. In any case, the comic is a good read. I particularly enjoyed R. K. Sikoryak's mashup of Dilbert and Herman Melville's "Bartleby The Scrivener". Maybe next year, Marvel will pitch in as well.
I have been enjoying the Punk 45 albums which, in the spirit of Nuggets and Shreds, compile a bunch of more or less obscure rock songs that deserve to be better known. In addition to the music, the liner notes accompanying the albums are also excellent. For example, the liner notes for the Akron, Ohio USA compilation, contextualizes the emergence of the punk scene there in the 1970s well (with the exception of confusing Market Street in Akron with Main Street in Kent--hey, the writer's British, so it's hard to get all the details right from a continent away) explaining how the decline of the rubber industry in the area merged with youth paranoia as a result of the May 4th Kent State murders helped to fertilize an experimental and self-reliant music scene. These albums are not only interesting listens, but they are also good reads.
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