Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Profile in Trivia

     I was talking to a friend the other day (actually, my best friend, herein referred to as Rainbow Trout) and he asked me what was the deal in San Juan Hell with all the

my profile
verbiage underneath my profile picture. Well, no one's ever asked me that before--I suspect no one's ever noticed it before-- but I suppose I should explain for his benefit, and for anyone else too shy to point out out that my new clothes look just like my birthday suit.

Novelist–well, that's the easy one. Novel-writing is what you do when you hang up your apron after twenty-five years tending bar.

Kibbitzer–You may be familiar with this one. Let's say you're playing a fame of chess, or poker, or Monopoly, or really any game that's not Candy Land. There is inevitably a guy standing behind you who is not in the game, looking over your shoulder and giving you horrendously bad advice on your next move. That, my friend, is a kibbitzer.

Raconteur–French for a story-teller, especially one particularly witty or amusing. From this you may gather that French is the last refuge of the egotist.

Homo Ludens–A term coined by Dutch theorist Johan Huizenga, used to explore the play element in culture. The literal meaning is Man Playing. This is my species.

Sans-culotte—Also French, and I wanted to include flaneur and croque-monsieur as well, but I ran out of space. Sans-culotte literally means pantless, but before you get the idea that I'm hanging out in the altogether  (I might be and I might not), a bit of further

sans-culottes
explanation. The sans-culottes were the lumpenproletariat* at the heart of the French Revolution, the ones Marie Antoinette wanted to eat cake. They were radical democrats, sort of like Bernie Sanders with the mittens off. They did wear trousers--they just didn't sport the fashionable silk knee-pants of the aristos. This is my political stance.


Tralfamadorian–if you know you Vonnegut, you know the Tralfamadorians, little aliens who look like plumber's friends, with a hand where their head should be, in which is set a single eye. They also live in four dimensions, which means that they can see all of time--and choose, quite sensibly, to live in the good times. This is my philosophical stance.

Tralfamadorians

Dylan Thomist– is my own coinage, taken from the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, especially in homage to his great poem The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower (written when he was only 19) that expresses an intense identification with all of creation. This is my religious stance.



the force that through the green fuse drives the flower





So there you have it--a rare example of tedious shorthand. I hope it was worth it.

*Lumpenproletariat--Marx's term for the class of beggars, thieves, and prostitutes below the proletariat proper.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Stephen Dobyns

 

stephen dobyns
“Hesitancy is the surest destroyer of talent. One cannot be timorous and reticent, one must be original and loud. New metaphors, new rhythms, new expressions of emotion can only spring from unhindered gall. Nothing should interfere with that intuition--not the fear of appearing stupid, nor of offending somebody, nor jeopardizing publication, nor being trivial. The intuition must be as unhindered as a karate chop.”

― Stephen Dobyns

Goodreads Gods

 Well, my Goodreads giveaway is over. 2800 people vied for ten copies of my autographed novel. There must have been blood in the streets.

 And I thought I'd contact the winners to see if they wanted any particular inscription.  The personal touch, you know? And I did contact a couple of them. But then I got this message from the Goodreads gods:

goodreads warning`

Well, fair enough. I don't want to spam anybody. But if there's a chance in hell any of the winners read this post and would like a personalized note, contact me sooner than later. Congratulations! I never win these things.

Do You Know This Man?

 Of course you do. You've seen this picture of him in every tasteful little coffee-shop or bistro you've ever frequented. It's so ubiquitous that it's almost invisible. And there's his name right on the poster, Aristide Bruant. French guy, right?

aristide bruant

You might even know that the poster is the work of Toulouse Lautrec, the little guy, the godfather of posters. 

But do you know Aristide Bruant, who was anything but tasteful? As a matter of fact, he was the Andrew Dice Clay/ Ozzie Osborne of his time. He was an outlandish cabaret owner whose main attraction was himself, entertaining his customers by parading on the bar top, singing and insulting everyone who came to see him, and everyone was the bourgeois, slumming it up in dangerous Montmartre (or La Butte, as the hilly region of Paris was called). And the bar he packed them in at was The Mirliton.

The what?

The Mirliton, which basically means "the kazoo" in French. It's also a favorite vegetable in Cajun cooking, which caused me no end of trouble along about the third draft of The Strange Case of the Dutch Painter.

le chat noir
                      But maybe we'd better back up, to the bar where Bruant made his name: 

Le Chat Noir in Montmartre, the ur-nightclub, which I know you've heard of, because once again, you've seen the poster--probably in that same cool little bistro, just across from the poster of Bruant. Bruant became so well known there that when the club closed, he opened his own--at the very same site. The walls were decorated with Lautrec's masterworks, which the bourgeois crowd mainly ignored. Lautrec held court there most nights--until some place The Moulin Rouge opened up down the street.



Here's how I imagined the place:


This then was the Cabaret Le Mirliton, just one of several down-at-the-heels establishments pocking the Boulevard Rochechouart that promised song and dance and bonhomie, or alternately enough noxious drink to make the first three superfluous. 

Le Mirliton was of the first kind. As soon as we were inside the door, we were greeted by smoke and noise and the booming voice of the proprietor himself. 
“My God, look at these two! Have the sewers backed up all the way to Montmartre?”

There was Bruant, striding up and down the top of the bar in the same costume we’d seen in the posters, a gamekeeper’s outfit with a scarlet shirt and scarf, an opera cape and wide-brimmed black hat. He pointed a rattan cane at us and said, “See how they gawk? Like sheep about to be sheared! Mutton-heads!”

Interior of Le Mirliton by Louis Anquetin
le mirliton by anquetin
            St. Lazare, a song by Bruant                              

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Agatha Awards

The nominees for this year's Agatha Awards have just been announced

agatha award
Now I'm a neophyte in this area, and of course I would not even be eligible for consideration until next year (I should be so lucky), so no knots in my stomach this year. But this is award season for mysteries: the king-daddy of them all, the Edgars (named after Edgar Allen Poe, and if I have to tell you who the Agathas are named after, your disinterest in mysteries is profound), has announced their nominees already, and you can find them here.

Here's a little bit about Malice Domestic, the folks who award the Agathas.


"Established in 1989, Malice Domestic is an annual fan convention that takes place each year in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Malice celebrates the Traditional Mystery, books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries which contain no explicit sex, or excessive gore or violence."

So why should you care? Well, you're always looking for reading recommendations, aren't you? And why should I care? Because James Ziskin, my Seventh Street stable-mate and an all-around mensch has had his Sherlock Holmes pastiche, “The Twenty-Five-Year Engagement,” has been named a finalist for the Agatha for Best Short Story. So I've got someone to root for.

james ziskin
And you can find the book here, So you'll have someone to root for, too.


Dr. Seuss

 

dr. seuss

My great-great-nephew Atticus's first book was, of course, an autographed copy of my own novel. I would not be surprised if his taste leans toward Dr. Seuss at this point. He is, after all, barely five days old. But can you ever be too young for Sherlock Holmes?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Dylan Thomas

 


dylan thomas


"Every device there is in language is there to be used, if you will. Poets have got to enjoy themselves sometimes, and the twistings and convolutions of words, the inventions and contrivances, are all part of the joy that is part of the painful, voluntary work." 

                       --Dylan Thomas


The Blue

 By the way, if you liked the post on the Indigo Revolt, you might be interested in finding out more about the history of  the color blue--which is a fascinating history, believe it or not. And a seminal part of that history is chronicled in my friend Nancy Bilyeau's brilliant novel 

                                               The Blue, a tale of 18th century industrial espionage.

nancy bilyeau
"With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the color blue?"

Kings River Life: Review/Giveaway/Interview

It's an interview.
It's a review.
It's a giveaway of my book.
It's a threefer--
It must be seen to be believed!

 by Lorie Lewis Ham of  Kings River Life Magazine.

Kings River Life Magazine

From the review:
"This story is filled with many twists and turns, most of which I never saw coming. It was so much fun having all of these familiar characters thrown together in this new story. I felt like Miller’s portrayal of Holmes and Watson was accurate, which is always a key for me in enjoying a new Holmes adventure."

From the interview:
"For me, writing is like blowing up a balloon. I start with a few puffs: beginning, middle, and end, and then expand, and let the breaths mingle and heat up. I just have to keep from spitting too much."


Friday, March 26, 2021

Reading Club

Reading Club

Phil Krampf presses his free bookplate into service as a Covid mask. 
Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you'd like a bookplate to press into your copy of the novel, just send me your address in an email on the right. 
Neither address will be sold or shared with anyone, may the gods strike me dead.