Monday, December 16, 2002

A frequent reader sends this delightful tidbit:

Have you seen what Amazon is doing lately? They are now selling clothing. During a book search today, Amazon provided a list of clothing recommendations, based on the books I was browsing. I was told:

Customers who bought this book also were interested in:
* Clean Underwear from Amazon's Eddie Bauer Store
* Ladybug Rain Boots from Amazon's Nordstrom Store
* Suede Headwraps from Amazon's International Male Store
* Cheetah Print Slippers from Amazon's Old Navy Store

Now, looking at this list, I'm pretty insulted. On what basis do they make these recommendations? Being female, why do they think I'd be interested in something at International Male? Further, why "Clean Underwear" from Eddie Bauer? What are they implying about my state of cleanliness? To take this a step further, why has Eddie Bauer chosen this product name - do they need to draw a distinction from their "Dirty Underwear" line?

Interestingly, when I did the same search about five minutes later, the clothing recommendations had disappeared. Perhaps Amazon thought better of it?

I have no idea, though further speculation is certainly warranted. Just a year ago something like this would have smacked of parody, wouldn't it?

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

23 minutes. Yes, I was in Rome 23 minutes before being pickpocketed, setting a new record for involuntary donations to the Eternal City's underground economy. I wrote to my manager, telling him, and he responded, "How boring." That's so true it is painful--it seems that every 4th person into Rome gets taken for a ride, and my number was simply up. It is no wonder that sexy designer fashion wallets are a big sales item here.

This was my third crime incident in Europe, after a poorly executed attempt in Warsaw and a bungled thieving in Barcelona--it is good to know that in Italy they can get things right. Immediately after exiting our train from Genoa we headed down to the Metro, where I promptly ignored the warning signs and jumped onto a very crowded car with all my luggage. Moments later I looked down and saw my laptop bag was half-open...I zipped it up and looked around at the press of bodies around me, all clean-cut, anonymous faces above, while hands were busy below. Then the doors opened at the next stop and I started checking myself, to discover that the nimble little minxes had gotten behind my bag, through a zipped jacket pocket and out with my wallet. It was, predictably, way too fucking late.

Then JM and I freaked out and formed one of our highly effective but extravagant plans: we would withdraw more money than the thieves could charge, bringing our cards to the breaking point before they could use them. This is how I ended up on the Spanish Steps withdrawing bundle after bundle of Euros.

It did work...and now we have over three thousand dollars worth of their delightful European currency.

Now it is a cash-only honeymoon!

Saturday, November 30, 2002

In a few short minutes we board a ship out of Barcelona, bound for Genoa...and from Genoa, a train to Rome. Barcelona has been ecstatic, but I am looking forward to Italy--the food and the culture are so much more familiar to me, coming from my home in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens, and I have always dreamed of making a pilgrimage to Rome. This isn't as devout as some of my Sunday school teachers would have wished, but such is life.

Today we visited Park Guell, another of Gaudi's unfinished, rambling masterpieces--a hillside of unnatural art that blends into the landscape until it seems as if the natural trees and stones seem out of place. I have rarely been as affected as I have been by one architect--I admire him so much, for his failures and the ramshackle, half-baked nature of his visions. They seem so earthy to me. I like earthy.

We have also spent a great deal of time wandering the Barri Gotic, seeing the beautiful cathedral and the tiny, winding cobbled streets. In a small hidden square we stood as a bell rang and ten thousand children flooded in, all laughing, playing with balls, jumping rope and using their GameBoy Advance handhelds. It was a wonderful afternoon--the sun was hot and strong for November, and on Las Ramblas people dressed in semi-cheesy costumes that occasionally turned brilliant, like the monochrome man, in titanium white facepaint, who sat on an equally white toilet, miming shitting so well that you had to laugh out loud and pay him. Everywhere there was three card monte, played with hollowed-out carrot tops and a tiny green pea.

I have to finish this, eat another tapa, get some cafe con leche and catch our boat.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Today was a total immersion in Gaudi, God�s Architect and the genius behind Segrada Familia, the most amazing cathedral on earth which is still under construction--it will be another 40 years before it is complete, and it has been under work since 1895. Everywhere there are curves, swoops and organic shapes, like Geiger lit up with soul, like a culmination of everything we�ve ever learned about cathedrals distilled and poured into a huge mold...but breaking, over and over, into different shapes. In the crypts beneath the cathedral-in-progress are the workshops, where new models are made daily--I have read extensively on the medieval process of building cathedrals, which takes hundreds of years, but had no idea that an example still existed here in the modern world. What a blessing, to see such beauty split open and the light of day pouring into a half-finished nave where workers smoke and drink coffee, debating some issue of stonework heatedly. I was looking forward to seeing it, but the reality of it blew so far past my expectations that I don�t even know how to calculate the difference.

We�ve been eating dinners from the market, cheese and bread and fruits so fresh they spoil minutes after they leave the market (great on vacation, bad in practical life) and watching incomprehensible Spanish television. Tonight there was a man in a room. An old man spoke to him, and then a casket opened. An older man was in the casket. The young man wept. The corpse changed into a crying baby. The young man grabbed the baby before the lid of the coffin came back down out of the air on its own. Then the young man had the baby baptized, and then he was in a room with a woman (the new mother?) who was angry with him, or flirting, and he attacked her, and tied her up. Then he flipper her on her back and used a sword to cut off her clothes, and then proceeded to whip her with his sword.

Finally the old man from the first scene returned, and the young man seemed sad. The old man said something, and the young man started counting, there was a light change and he was very happy. The End.

Just like life, isn�t it?

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

And now a special Thanksgiving edition of Dilettante, straight at you from the heart of Barcelona, just off Las Ramblas. It�s been a rocky, wonderful, tumultuous trip so far--in many ways the honeymoon is eerily reminiscent of the relationship it celebrates, in that it has been so full of highs and lows that eventually you don�t know if you are dying from beauty and wonderfulness or just wishing to put a bullet in your head from the brightness of it all.

We came in on an evening flight to find our room, an extremely modest pension in the Barri Gotic quarter. JM booked the accommodations, and somehow I had failed to take into account that my wife is BUDGET TRAVEL WARRIOR EXTRAORDINAIRE!, so she feels, for example, that television and toilets are luxuries for the weak and decadent. The light was a flickering florescence just beginning to fail, the room had no power outlets and the two tiny beds made of plywood and some sort of stretched out muslin. And those are the good qualities--to get to the Death Room you need to walk down a long hall where the lights have gone dead, until you reach the dim outlines of your cell.

As you might imagine, we then had an excellent fight--I was sullen and bitchy, she was haughty and imperious, and when the dust settled we had a new room (my idea) in the same hotel (my concession). The new room was a lot better--no scary hallway, some better lighting, a balcony, a luxurious double bed...still spare, but a long way from horrifying death trap.

We were exhausted, so we laid down to take a nap...and upon awakening, my bride had lost the ability to move. JM has a bad back which rears its head from time to time, but in this case it had really outdone itself--a brand new kind of pain, and a whole side of her body was basically immobile. I had images in my mind of our future: we would live in this pension, and every morning I would carry her down to Las Ramblas, the exciting main drag of Barcelona where she would sit, begging for change as a paralytic cripple while I cavorted at her feat, dressed in an excellent macaque monkey costume, screaming out my love and pickpocketing tourists.

It wasn�t as funny as all that, though--she really couldn�t move, and somehow we had lost all our ibuprofen and about 30 euros on our transit from London to Spain, leaving us drugless and cash-light. I really started to consider that this might be serious--JM is a dramatic lady, but she was in real pain, and I wasn�t certain what kind of injury she had.

I hoisted her up slowly, in a sort of winching method the macaques are known for, until she was finally standing after ten minutes. Then we got out the door and up the street, where the wisdom of JM�s hotel-choosing became apparent: EVERYTHING is open all night long, and within close walking distance to our hotel. We managed to get superstrong ibuprofen from an all night pharmacy, some wine and tapas and a small pizza before stumbling home at 3am, where we slept...and mercifully, in the morning my wife had been spared. She�s not dancing yet, but it looks like we�ll make it through the rest of the trip.

Barcelona is amazing--so much color everywhere, and the public art is outstanding. I love the clean lines of the buildings, and the elegant integration of the gothic architecture with modern glass, steel and less-modern explosions of Modernist�s a visual feast. The market near our hotel is just fantastic, with all the foods on earth laid out in perfect precision, fruit displayed with a precision reserved for moon landings--apples go here, oranges here, and the plums are lined up in their small and perfect cradles, each to each. The plazas are everything I�ve hoped for: smaller than Madrid, but lit up with the same Mediterranean light beneath the unexpected grace of palm trees that look as though they�ve sprung from the land overnight, shooting up impossibly high and thin into the sky.

We haven�t seen anything, and we�ve seen everything: we�re on honeymoon, and that informs all our choices. We don�t seem to ever keep any schedule, never know when we are going to wake up or go to bed, but at the same time there is a restless peace I haven�t felt in years--we are doing what we want when we want it. Tomorrow we will be seeing many of Gaudi�s masterpieces and the palaces of Catalunya on Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. Though I know we will spend this day well, I keep thinking about my family, especially our family in Seattle where we spend each Thanksgiving with the Dovers, a drunken orgy of love and well-wishing...I hope that it goes off well, and I�ll be thinking of all of them as we do our best to find some turkey and mashed potatoes out here. I have a lot to be thankful for, but mostly I�m just thankful to be at this place in my life, with my wife for whom I give thanks every day.

Monday, November 25, 2002

We leave London in just a few hours for Barcelona, where the meat of this honeymoon starts in earnest, having finished up the performance on Saturday night. It was pretty strange looking over all the papers on Sunday and seeing pictures of the hall where I performed and people who had hosted me pounding podiums and frothing--especially since I wandered into this national crisis without much preamble, and now with my performance done I leave the same way. Eerie.

UK audiences don't laugh as much out loud as Americans, though they are more prone to spontaneous applause in mad rushes, so that it sounds like flocks of birds taking flight, and they do a lot of foot stomping.

On Sunday we got up very late, after staying up with friends, and then ambled over to the British Museum. I loved it in '93 when I lived here, but the new Great Court is absolutely spectacular--they have glassed in the entire structure,and now the Reading Room is open to the general public, a beautiful edifice that actually puts the New York Public Library's room to shame. Well, at least it gives it a good race.

Also in the museum, other than all the antiquities of ancient culture looted for your pleasure, is the work of Antony Gormley, a very cool sociologist-cum-sculptor who does a great exhibit called Field for the British Isles. My friend James recommended we see it, and we were not disappointed: 45,000 6-inch high clay figures roughly formed from native earth stare balefully up at you, arranged as a sea of otherness that all have black pits for eyes. There is a quiet intensity, and a kind of dignity to their watchfulness--it is very beautiful AND smart, and it's cool when those things go together.

We have a plane to catch, so the next letter will come from the Continent. (I feel a little dumb writing that, but I've often wanted to have an excuse to say that.)

Saturday, November 23, 2002

I'm writing this from the ground here at the TUC, the Trade Union Congress of the UK, where I'm speaking and performing this evening. The biggest story in the UK today is the firefighter strike, which means that press is swarming all over the site here, and the conference itself has become almost frenzied with media seeking sound bites and opinion pieces--I've been asked twice for commentary so far, and it is difficult to sound like a coherent, informed citizen and at the same time admit that you don't really know the width and breadth of UK labor history because...well...I don't.

Our hosts have been wonderful, and we're right off of Tottenham Court Road, so we're hoping to see the British Museum, which I love, and do some window shopping. Tonight we are hooking up with friends in London who're coming by the conference and they say they have picked out a restaurant that doesn't suck, which from my long association with British food will be a real achievement.

Friday, November 22, 2002

You may have noticed that for the last month or so there's been less and less traffic here at postings, even more incoherent ravings and a general loss of commentary. Days pass, and there is less and less sign of the of yesteryear--the bon mots, the clever retorts, the feeling that I was firmly at the wheel driving this site onward into the next millenium.

Frankly, I've fallen down on the job. The good news is that I've been busy with other projects--I'm writing a pilot for HBO. The wrestling and wrangling to make that happen is a legendary story, which I do not have time here to relate, but the end result is a great one--I am creating a television series.

As I shift over into this new phase I'm going to try and jumpstart this blog by opening up my creative process a little more, rather than just commenting on what I've eaten and what's happening in pop culture. I am also planning to use it as a travelogue, as I leave in just four short hours for London. From there it is a madcap race across the Continent--we are hitting six cities in three weeks, with trains and planes and automobiles between.

You see, with all the hubub and hustle of the last few years I have never gone on a honeymoon--we just couldn't affod it, couldn't fit it in and generally couldn't make it work out. We forgot about it, as we had a lot of work to do, until suddenly this opportunity opened up, and impulsively we have decided to go.

I'll be looking for inspiration in the wrong places, and Jean-Michele will be helping to make certain we don't end up houseless and barefoot in Nice. As the trip progresses i will update you, both with local color AND, hopefully, with some idea of what it is I'm working on now.

Now it is 4:30AM. That means, seasoned traveller that I am, that it is time to pack.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Sunday, November 10, 2002

I'm actually posting this from the stage at Carnegie-Mellon University, where the wireless internet flows like honeyed wine. I am here doing the show, giving some talks and meeting with folks at the university--wonderful people. I'll post more when I'm not actually acting, as I am supposed to be at this very moment.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Apparently, limn is very big in the literary circles of New York. I *knew* I was doing something wrong!

Ladies and Gentlemen, John Travolta's BATTLEFIELD EARTH suit is on eBay. View it and weep for humanity.

Monday, November 04, 2002

I couldn't agree more, and it scares the hell out of me.

From Citizens To Customers, Losing Our Collective Voice

This seems a little too optimistic, but covers a lot of ground in a short piece:

Microsoft's New Set of Hurdles

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Missive from my wife in the Ukraine:

''And then, Oleg was fucking me from behind while Evalina sucked my tits. My mouth being free, I asked, 'What is it like, being the first generation not raised under communist rule?' Between thrusts Oleg told me, 'It is hard, but we are learning. I would like to have a car some day.'''

It's going to be a hell of a book, if you ask me.

A French tourist got so fed up with having her chest wanded by airport security in the USA that she took off her shirt and bra to demonstrate her bomb-and-boxcutter-free chestular region. The airport was closed for 10 minutes. Under the USAPATRIOT Act, she faces up to three years in jail. Here is the weirdly translated Babelfish link.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Look--it's the New Economy in our classrooms!

For-Profit U.S. Schools Sell Off Their Textbooks

Dot-com dorms...old ideas that don't die, bit's good to see them in colleges, where the obsessive hours and freakish schedules make more sense.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Thursday, October 24, 2002


Offered Free Shipping to North Korea

Under pressure from U.S. diplomats, Internet retailing giant admitted today that it sold nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction in an effort to prop up its sagging bottom line.

While it had been widely known that Amazon had branched out into such non-book items as automobiles and patio furniture in recent years, the revelation that it was selling nuclear weapons still came as something of a shock.

The United States made the discovery about Amazon's foray into international weapons dealing almost by accident, sources say.

A U.S. diplomat attempting to buy "Dance Upon The Air," a book by best-selling author Nora Roberts, noticed under the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section the ominous phrase "Fissionable Nuclear Material."

Clicking on that link, the official soon found an entire section of the Amazon site devoted to weapons of mass destruction, including a "Favorites" list authored by Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, admitted late this afternoon that Amazon had indeed been selling weapons of mass destruction to various rogue states in order to offset losses from disappointing sales of the new Rod Stewart CD.

Mr. Bezos acknowledged that his company had even offered free shipping in order to induce North Korea to buy a nuclear weapons system from Amazon, and a "two for one" discount if they added a biological weapons plant to their order, but he promised that such practices would be discontinued.

"From now on, if rogue states want to buy weapons of mass destruction, they're going to have to go on eBay," Mr. Bezos said.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Saddam's campaign theme song is Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," Somehow I doubt that he's paying royalties...I'd like to see the RIAA working on that issue.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Directions to J. D. Salinger's house and how to send him a letter.
Yes kids, now we have LIVE NUDE CATS

A review of the new book Slack, which posits that companies should keep workers 70% busy--that way they are happier, healthier and able to respond to unexpected challenges with some wiggle room.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Thursday, October 10, 2002

An article in Fortune explores the long-term damage the dot-com bust has done to Generation X. Here's an excerpt:

No generation since the Depression has been set up for failure like this. Everything the dot-com boom delivered has been taken away--and then some. Real wages are falling, wealth continues to shift from younger to older, and education costs are surging. Worse yet, for some Gen Xers, their peak earning years are behind them. Buried in college and credit card debt, a lot of them won't be able to catch up as they approach their prime spending years.

Give it a read.

Comic Sans is the President of Shitty Fonts.

Times New Roman is the Vice-President.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Man dies after playing computer games non-stop.

Idiocy of the highest order. At a conference on racism, all the white people are expelled.
A frank discussion on the future of the TiVo. I have to agree with the author's sentiments, though I think that the prospects for bundling the service with existing cable providers makes a hell of a lot of sense, and could save their bacon pretty handily.

i also think it is interesting that Microsoft's mouthpiece, SLATE, does an article about the impending death of TiVo, and the foolish fate of any company that innovates. Meanwhile, even the article asserts that MSFT intends to enter the DVR field with their own XBOX add-ons.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez learned in 1999 that he had lymphatic cancer. He promptly cloistered himself with a single-minded pursuit not seen perhaps since he wrote the 1967 masterpiece, "One Hundred Years of Solitude," in a little more than a year, his only vice a steady supply of cigarettes provided by his wife, Mercedes. Interesting article, and I hope that were I to receive similar news, my reaction would be to buckle down and get to work. I fear that instead I would eat a lot of tacos and play too much PS2.

My only consolation is that in the depths of the night I know Marquez sits in his house, lit only by the blue television screen and playing Grand Theft Auto after a long day of writing.
Eggers new book gets a polite whipping from the NYT.
The new Miss America had meetings yesterday with Attorney General John Ashcroft. Whaaaa? As a nation prepares for war? Why?

I think he's just beside himself that one of the young lady's statements makes clear that she feels that sexual promiscuity is directly linked to violence...apparently, women are bringing abuse down on themselves. I suppose this will be part of the exciting ANTI-WHORE OF BABYLON platform Ashcroft has been backing as a lifestyle choice.

Bush 2002: It's smells like Reagan 1982 without the comfort of sincerity.

Monday, October 07, 2002

So, what is the strangest part of this story: the priapic man who dresses as a Sumerian god-figure while he attempts to have sex with 20 women, the impromptu exclamations of the jaded onlookers or the walls of the set disintegrating around the publicly copulating record-breakers? I don't know either, but it is really quite odd.
Update: Still in pain, but we seem to be winning the war over here. I am growing very weary of the walls of my apartment.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

I am suffering under one of the worst toothaches I have ever experienced, and I've had more than a few in my time--this one is truly the Mother Of All Toothaches. It started early in the week, shortly after my return from Maine, has gained momentum, swelled and now has engulfed my life entirely.

I dislike dentists, but I dislike unbearable pain a hell of a lot more, and I know when I've been beaten. I went in for treatment today, and as a consequence am now composing this entry under enough Vicadin to kill a small camel.

Hopefully once the penicillin kicks in and knocks this out I will emerge triumphant, reborn and blissfully which point my life will resume, and the quality and quantity of this blog should improve.

Now I must take my stoned self to the couch, and watch THE MARY KAY STORY the way it was meant to be watched.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

Exchange emails through a handshake. The future keeps smacking us in the back of the head.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Marvelous stuff from the marvelous Cat and Girl. I saw this strip's creator perform a PowerPoint animated slideshow at the latest Little Gray Book lecture where I spoke, in Williamsburg.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

With no end in sight, the market dropped for the sixth consecutive week. We are now trading at the same level we were in 1996, effectively erasing the dot-com era, and making it clearer and clearer that those days are almost like another age entirely.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear to be bright. Until you hear them speak.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

My friend Oliver turned me on to a remarkable article on Lawrence Lessig in the L.A. Times...trully remarkable stuff, and a great overview of the information war that is already upon us. Naturally the L.A. Times wants personal information and you must login to get to the story: just use the log/pass: thewhale/understands.

It's rare that you read a story of someone fighting a good fight for an unknown cause, and even rarer that it seems that person may actually make a difference--while at the same time, it's these small battles that make all the difference in this life. I really thought this article makes a wonderful introduction to topics every citizen on the Net should be aware of.

More on the trip to Maine and assorted issues soon, as I catch up.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

My good friend John is making an important life decision, and since we live in the virtual world now, it's suddenly a semi-public event. Chime in if you have some advice for him.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

For reasons that are entirely its own, Forbes has decided to create a list of the fifteen richest fictional characters in pop culture. Now you can know how Jay Gatsby compares to Gordon Gecko.

Think You Have a Book in You? Think Again. Where was this guy when I started this damn fool career?

Friday, September 27, 2002

I'm posting this from my cold college, where in just a few hours I'll be opening the first show I've done here since years. The campus looks the same, the professors are still here and the friendliness is rather overwhelming--everyone is nothing but kind, and eerily respectful. Seeing a photo display of my accomplishments while at Colby in the hallway, I realized that what it feels like is being dead--i can see all the nice things people are saying about me now that I'm gone, and there is a certain air of slight deference I associate with funerals. Also, all the students won't really talk to me easily, perhaps because they are afraid i will bite them, or that I am famous.

I think there is a very common wish fulfillment fantasy in returning to your old college a hero--people will respect you, everyone will see your genius, blah blah blah. I think it's mostly a crock--the truth is that sort of affirmation is internal, ultimately, and you can't get it slathered on by well-wishers or folks who perceive you as successful. I put on my pants one leg at a time--if what i have now is limitless success, then I need to get some new definitions or I won't be able to make rent.

At the same time, the evidence is in: i am a working artist, as strange as that is to type in a building I worked five years making art in, never dreaming it might actually come true. Or rather, instead of dreaming, I was working--and maybe that plays a role, along with a shitload of luck, chance and Hail Mary passes.

I'd better go do the cue-to-cue...Jean-Michele has had a great time working with John Ervin, the tech director here, and I am actualy thinking there is a lot of the show that is going to look sharper than it did Off-Broadway. I hope it does--this school, and the teachers in it, deserve it.

I also need to dry my pants, or I will look really stupid this evening. Details.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

What a week lies ahead! We just got in two hours ago from LA to JFK, and now i am sitting at Casa de Daisey, hurriedly pulling together clothing and provisions for a flight that leaves in just four hours. We are headed up to the wilds of central and northern Maine, so that I can perform at my alma mater, Colby College, a learned institution that foolishly granted me my undergraduate degree in the nineties, before it had dawned on them what horrors they had unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

The show is actually going on Friday night, in the Runnals Union on the Strider stage, a site where I performed well-nigh continuously while I attended Colby, and i am really excited about walking out on those boards again. We'll tech on Thursday, do the show Friday night at 7:30 and then on Saturday i'll be doing some seminars...yes, now I get to teach! BWAHAHAHHAHAHHAA! I'm doing two talks, on telling stories and then on networking--hopefully people will attend and give it a try. It should be very interesting to walk back into the old stomping grounds as a visiting and working artist, a position I never really believed I would ever discover or attain.

If you live in Maine and would like to attend, check here for details.

We then leave Maine after the weekend, because of corporate gigs and other performances, but hopefully I'll get to post more impressions on my Return to Academia as it occurs. We shall see.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

My friend Pat says:

You need to buy a copy of the book "The Hardy Boys' Guide to Life," if only for the line, "Thinking with a pencil often helps to clarify a case" (from "The Hardy Boys' Guide to Life").

Pat is pretty much always right.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Well, the show went splendidly last evening...we were at the Coronet Theater, one of the most famous theaters in Hollywood. Chaplin worked here, and Charles Laughton once tried to kill Brecht while working on GALILEO...great stuff. There was a packed house of industry, friends, Dilettante members and assorted folks--we couldn't have asked for a nicer and warmer house for an LA debut.

I have to run to some meetings, but I am going to strive to get more substantive descriptions of the wacky world of LA into my next missive...but for now, be satisfied with the video of my interview with Connie Chung, which has landed on the site. Click over on video and check it out, so you can see me wearing my clever anti-Microsoft shirt on national TV. Wooo! Geek rule!

Monday, September 23, 2002

Today's Boston Globe has an interesting article on the shift from PC gaming to console tries to spin it as irrelevant to the PC industry, but that's not what the numbers are showing. This is a shift I applaud, as it makes PC weenies give me less shit about my Mac. Booyah!

(I am so petty.)

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Fantastic. I am in LA, at my hotel, which has 802.11b wireless everywhere...which means i am ill-advisedly composing this message from a hot tub. Ahh, the joys of a life lived on the edge!

So far it has been a delightful visit to LA--we've had some Emmy excitement, had a spot of rehearsing and been attacked by a cab driver who divined that I was connected to the entertainment industry and wanted to sell me a script. Apparently it is actually true--EVERYONE in LA has a script. Everyone. It's not a joke. And they are all very insistent about being industry players, and they are all jonesing for a role somewhere.

Me? I'm here to do my show tomorrow night, have abunch of meetings with mucky-mucks and make a lot of networking happen. It's a busy week, but Jean-Michele is here, which makes it all worthwhile...she's keeping me sane, teching the show and showing me a good time around the city. It's a lot more fun then when I was here alone on book tour.

Well, hopefully I will expand on these stories soon...for now, I need to get away from the hot tub before I actually destroy this PowerBook.

Friday, September 20, 2002

A Tribute to Ray Harryhausen

And a fine, fine tribute it is. Excellent use of Skeletor.

Oh and for you cultural ingrates among us, this is the Ray in question.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Interesting article on the rise of L33T (elite) speak in teenagers, as SMS spreads through the cell-phone using public like syphilis in a whorehouse.

Nu Shortcuts in School R 2 Much 4 Teachers

It isn't my generation, but I find the use of the abbreviations amusing and, occasionally, edifying. Like a lot of jargon a great deal is pretty useless, and I love the teacher's observation that "wuz" doesn't even save any why not spell it correctly?

I was impressed with how most of the instructors had a very open mind about the new vocabulary, and were finding ways of using the students reliance on it as a foothold into creative thinking. At the same time they are clear--if you are making smiley-faces to replace critical thinking, you are going to lose out big-time when you try to take your thoughts out into the world.

Slashdot had a pretty vigorous debate on all the pros and cons, over here. The signal/noise ratio is better than usual, especially with the filters set to three or higher. In the spirit of the article, i won't clarify what that means...u cn c it uself.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Amazing...classic games from my youth can be embedded on a trading card. Imagine playing Solitaire on a long car trip, then using the same cards to play Metroid and Super Mario.

When I think I have a laborious writing routine, I read something like this and I sigh in relief. Twelve years per book? Two whole drafts in longhand, and then the electric typewriter? I don't know whether to be inspired by his methodology or to slap him.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Proving again that your tech is only as good as your data, your UI and your adaptive programming, WIRED does a story on bad online maps. These things have their place, but yes--I constantly get nonsensical directions out of them. Then again, if I used a paper map and used it without common sense, I wouldn't even be able to open it--those things are complicated to unfold!

My point is that the tech is only OK--and opening it up so that it is the most useful for everyone does not involve making the system do everything. It has to do a few things clearly and intuitively.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Goddamn it. There ain't no justice.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Great article on the bizarre presence of fabulous dental and medical facilities in Thailand, and how that country has created a kind of capitalist medical paradise for those who can get themselves down to the Orient. As readers of my book may be familiar with, I have a constant problem with having health insurance--Jean-Michele spotted this in the paper and suddenly we were thinking of a bizarre trip/checkup/teeth cleaning mission. Sounds like a solo show waiting to happen, doesn't it?

The Perfect Thai Vacation: Sun, Sea and Surgery

Monday, September 09, 2002

Interesting article on Flag Etiquette sent in by Chris. I learned a lot of things I didn't know.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Fortune is doing a follow-up article here on America's 40 Richest Under 40, a collection of dot-com revolutionaries and former media darlings. These are *not* the people i give a shit about, and not representative of what the era really meant to normal folks, but it is interesting reading. Check out Josh Harris, former guru, and his bizarre plans from his compound. Word on the street is that he is camped out there with guns. A lot of guns.

And those who escaped with cash are taking it easy--Joy Covey, formerly of, my alma mater, has been on sabbatical (retired) and got her pilot license, travelled a lot and built a foundation. This is a woman who used to brag about how she didn't actually need to sleep--evidently, that sort of thing catches up with you.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

A story is like an arrow fired into the darkness, and most people will try to deflect it, block it, destroy it before it gets anywhere, and they do this with wonderful speed and ingenuity. They should not be allowed to offer this as proof of their lack of talent.

Keith Johnstone

Sunday, September 01, 2002

Oh my goodness, I am still drunk from the closing party and insane karaoke extravaganza. Jean-Michele has hiccups. What glamour, this life of ours.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

Last day. Laaaaaaast day.

It's appropraite weather here for a closing--gray, tumbling skies, a little rain, definite signs that fall is on its way. I do feel some conflict--most of me is very much ready for the show to close; after all, it's a one-man show, so it's not as if I need worry it will never be performed again in the future. On the other hand, I will miss the Cherry Lane, the beautiful light plot and the magnificent set by Russell Champa and Louisa Thompson, I'll miss horchata at Burritoville and the meat skewers at the Grange Hall, watching weirdos on 7th Avenue, watching the trees on Commerce Street blossom, turn green and now, fall away. Even though I got sick of it for a while, I think I will miss signing books after the show--I loved hearing thousands of people tell me their stories, where they came from, who they've worked for and can be tiring, but it is a good kind of work, a work I am suited for, and I'm so thankful that I've found this.

The future is daunting but full--new projects loom up ahead, and I need to collect myself, clean up my props, shut down the lights out on 21DY as a daily concern and turn my mind elsewhere. It's time, but it's definitely a little bittersweet.

Well, this is it. I'd better go get down to the theater.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Interesting article in The New Republic on why broadband isn't in everybody's homes.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Well, it's official--21 DOG YEARS will close Off-Broadway after 127 performances on August 31st. I've actually known this was coming for quite a while, but it's time to let the rest of the world in on the secret.

It's pretty amazing--we will have run five months, a very respectable run, and we are closing not because we've been kicked out for having 8 people in the audience but because we've always been at the lovely Cherry Lane on a limited engagement...and with the fall their new season is starting, and we simply can't stay another week.

There's been talk of moving to another theater, but with all the projects that have been hurtling down the pipe at me I don't think doing the show 8 times a week in a new space is a great idea. The plan now is to do the show in limited enagements in a few other cities, starting with a showcase in Hollywood, and that should let me have the time I need to get my next projects mounted, finish writing my overdue National Lampoon's pieces, clean up teh bathroom and install that mirror over the fireplace. Life stuff.

There's a lot more to say, and I've been quiet on the blog lately with the rush of working, but I promise that over the next week I'll break it all down and give everybody the 411 on what's been going on. Especially the Broadway musical.

(No, that isn't a joke.)

What the hell is wrong with these people? It's a word processor--couldn't you make a secure typewriter? Sheesh.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

I just got this email from my wife in the other room:

Please come to bed with me and feel my tumor. Before I die.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

From this morning's NYPost:

VANITY Fair editor Graydon Carter says he runs soft-boiled profiles of celebs because they're just dumb, harmless animals. "Look, most of them, like, are 27 years old and they spend most of their time in a trailer," Carter tells the Toronto Globe & Mail. "They don't read much. They're nice people and I think, why beat up on some poor little movie star? They're like baby seals. I'd rather take a club at somebody bigger. They're not overdogs, they're underdogs. They're terrified. The shelf life of a movie actor or actress is so short, it's like milk."

Sunday, August 18, 2002

From the Inbox--J.C., a sharp lady and friend, sent this today:

My friend Jonah Peretti created a very snarky voicemail service earlier this year, the New York City Rejection Line, (212) 479-7990 - when you call, you get a message, "Welcome to the New York City Rejection Line. The person who gave you this number doesn't want to talk to you. You have been officially rejected. If you would like to speak to our comfort specialists, press one. If you would like to hear a sad poem read by a kindred spirit, press two. If you would like to cling to the unrealistic hope that a relationship is still possible, press three..."

I can't imagine how much of an asshole someone would have to be in order to justify using the NYCRL - but then, I don't spend much time in Wall Street bars.

Sort of an automated anti-customer service I thought you might appreciate.

Friday, August 16, 2002

My favorite gossip columnist has passed away, and we are all the lesser for his absence. A hell of a writer, that one.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Erik Baard does an interesting expose on public plans for what would happen to NYC in the event of a nuclear disaster--since the city actually has a department keeping detailed maps of EVERYTHING, and could, in theory, try to rebuild it all. Weird, weird stuff.

Should New York Be the First to Clone Itself?

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

An absolutely amazing story of cyberpunk brain implants and the blind being granted vision. Except it isn't fiction: it's reality, and it costs $115,000 and you can get it now.

Monday, August 12, 2002

On Court Street in Brooklyn, where I live, there are often fabulous homemade signs that prove that capitalism, hucksterism, initiative and magic still exist in America. I saw this one this evening:

What more could be said, except that I originally thought the description of Zoom said he had a "three foot TAIL" rather than "three foot TALL", which would aid me in detecting the identity of this mean dog who roams our streets unhindered by leashes or ethics. Since now i only know he is brown and three feet tall, i will be forced to shoot and kill every dog I see in my neighborhood; a lamentable situation.

Also, I would like to know if calling the dog's name ("ZOOM! ZOOM!") causes him to come toward you and bite you, or if this drives him away or somehow places him under the caller's control. This is useful information.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Attacking Squirrel Captured in Illinois. Not only is this a funny article, it is written in weirdly truncated, Raymond Carveresque sentences. Straaaange.

Through the wonders of technology, you can view my appearance on David Letterman right here in the Video section. It's a 30 meg download, but if you've got the bandwidth go and have a ball. Thanks to the good folks at Eliran Murphy who provided us with the clip.

I really enjoyed this tidbit on the semantics of answering machines and minivan physics at Rooster Spice. Zach is a college friend, and just had a daughter to add to his son--he's the most successful parent I know personally, and I hear he's planning on having six more children, so watch his blog for details.

I only now realized that I am listed as a Blog of Note at Blogger. What a neat honor--I'm really touched, and I hope that this site and my scribblings will continue to deserve that kind of attention in the future. Thanks for noticing!

Friday, August 09, 2002

Tonight Connie Chung will examine the case of a man accused of killing a five-year-old, interview a Fed Ex employee who prevented a serial killer from striking again, question a medical investigator about a Boston surgeon who left a patient in the middle of surgery so that he could run to the bank . . . and in a surprise twist, interview me!

It's on CNN from 8-9 PM, EST. More on the taping to follow.

One of the shows in this year's New York Fringe Festival is "In the Wire", an exploration of what happens to information in the net. Kind of like "Schoolhouse Rock" meets "3-2-1 Contact" meets "Wired". Here's an excerpt from the NYT story:

"In the Wire" opens with a projection of a computer screen on which an office worker named Mary is writing � and rewriting � a message to a colleague. But the play does not begin in earnest until she hits Send and her e-mail is tracked through the Internet as it journeys to her co-worker, Bob. Along the way, the audience learns about things like packets (units of data), routers (data transfer devices) and hops (the trips the packets take). "Matthew and I wanted to keep it factually accurate," his brother said. "And Jessica said it needed to be dramatically interesting. Making sure both those things were true was a really big struggle."

It sounds dorky as all get out, but strangely endearing--just the kind of quirkiness that makes me glad the fringe scene keeps pumping out work. Don't know if I will get to see it, but I have invited the creators to 21 DOG YEARS, so maybe I'll get to meet them.

WorldCom Finds $3.3 Billion More in Irregularities You say "irregularity," I say "criminal fraud"--let's call the whole thing off.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Dave Eggers discusses his new novel. I wrote a treatment years ago that revolved around travelling the world on one of those one-direction around-the-world tickets...I agree with Eggers that it is a weirdly romantic idea in an age of commodification.

Studs Turkel interviewed Enola Gay pilot Paul Tibbets recently.
Interesting stuff from the UK's Guardian, one of my favorite newspapers.

I tell people I tasted it. "Well," they say, "what do you mean?" When I was a child, if you had a cavity in your tooth the dentist put some mixture of some cotton or whatever it was and lead into your teeth and pounded them in with a hammer. I learned that if I had a spoon of ice-cream and touched one of those teeth I got this electrolysis and I got the taste of lead out of it. And I knew right away what it was.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

From The Inbox:

I started reading this book of yours at about 5:00pm here at work. I'm marking my spot with a yellow Post-It. I've ceased having any desire to look busy while at work, so I'm openly reading and laughing with no explanation. The fact that no one around me asks why I'm laughing gives me intense satisfaction. In between being "customer focused", answering the phone "Customer Operation Center, this is Jill", giving dial tone to our "new digital telephony subscribers" I'm enjoying your tale. Thank you for making my Monday a little more interesting. I will most likely finish the book tonight. Tomorrow for entertainment I'll do my usual..."Crown Royal Tuesday".

Someone finally did a fluff piece that probed a question I pose in 21 DOG YEARS: Where the hell have all the small cups of coffee gone?

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

The Connie Chung interview is going to be rescheduled. Probably for sometime this week, but I'll update the site with the details once I know for sure. From reports I've heard, apparently a video "inside peek" of Robert Blake's house is both creepy and salacious, a combination that always trumps one-man shows and books. C'est la vie.

I'll be interviewed on Connie Chung Tonight this evening by...(wait for it)...Connie Chung! I still haven't done my preinterview discussion with the show's producers, so I'm not totally clear what we're going to be talking about, but it'll be the "lighter, fluffier" piece near the end of the show. It airs at 8pm EST on CNN--check your local listings for details.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

Salon has a great piece on the slew of expiring domain names that litter the virtual landscape, including but not limited to

Friday, August 02, 2002

Bill Lessard makes an intriguing economic proposal over at Netslaves.

Look--an At-AT! Hooray!

It may just be because I am working on a future Broadway musical, but I found this absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Billing itself as "A Quarterly of Literature, Politics, Finance & More", is a very interesting place--I love the feature on fuel cells, and I love even more the spare, elegant focus on content. Okay, I'm a featured blog, which is how I found out about the site, but I definitely recommend giving it a's good eats.

Elizabeth offers this brief meditation which I really enjoyed:

Months ago I was standing behind a young woman with a perfect braid and a creme leather jacket at the supermarket. She was writing a note on the food conveyence belt next to her donuts and ice cream, but--try as I leaned--I couldn't make out what she was writing. The donut box obstructed a clear view. The woman departed. The cashier checked over her shoulder and then said in a whisper "Julia Stiles!", waving the autographed note. Donuts--the plain brown breakfasty kind--and a non-premium brand, half-gallon of unadulterated chocolate, I thought. And it is true that when I say I saw Julia Stiles in the supermarket people ask me what she was buying.

And the slow march of total buzz control and creation continues, as corporations find new ways to control and subvert your experience of being alive. A little here, a little there...what can it hurt?

A very interesting read:

How the Postman Almost Owned E-Mail

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Compared with my last appearance on Letterman (which frequent readers will recall was aborted at the last instant), tonight's show was a piece of cake. In fact, it was almost too relaxed...I found myself ambling through my day, almost not getting to haircuts in time, loping around kind of sleepy and disoriented. I was concerned from an early hour: I really, really wasn't acting like a sharp, clever, funny talk show guest. I suspect it was half the sultry, unbearable heat and half the repetition--I was filled with an unshakable inner conviction that I would be bumped again, probably at the last moment, and no matter what I did I couldn't get juiced up and excited.

Jean-Michele and I rode in the limo to the Ed Sullivan Theater, and it still seemed unreal. We got out at the door in total contrast to the last time we arrived--no paparazzi, very few onlookers. Apparently Julia Stiles' stock is not as ultra-hot in the press as Freddie Prinze, Jr's is, which is probably just a relief to Ms. Stiles.

I went up to my dressing room and sat, feeling completely blank. My editor, my manager and my publicist (i.e. My Posse) came in and it was nice, catching up with everyone who runs the disparate pieces of my life...the funny thing is there are actually now so many OTHER folks who have titles that work with my life as a kind of commodity that we could never fit them all in the dressing room, which was pretty damn tiny. Nice, air conditioned, and they keep you supplied with lots of goodies, but very small.

By the way, I didn't mention it last time, but did you know you get PAID to be on Letterman? No, really! It's so interesting--they have to pay people, for reasons that are arcane and relate to work-for-hire rules with AFTRA. So you get $200 if you are on Letterman. Everybody does--Julia Stiles, Harrison Ford, everybody. I mean, for me it's pretty cool pay for a little work, but it must seem so funny with people who make millions. Then again, if I've learned anything being near celebrities it's that they are normal people under extraordinary attention, and who doesn't like $200? For some people it just pays for lunch...for me it's a wireless router. Either way, nothing to sneeze at.

(Also, you get paid whether you are bumped or not, so I have in fact already received a check from my last "appearance"...and it is pretty neat to get a check in the mail from Worldwide Pants. I was tempted to frame it or put it on the fridge, but then I wanted to buy that wireless router...and the router won.)

When I got on the stage, standing next to the set, (which is absolutely beautiful up close--I was mezmerized by the details on their faux Brooklyn Bridge) and I heard Dave actually introducing me, it became suddenly clear that I would not be bumped, and I experienced an immediate and painful flushing of adrenaline into my system, which must be akin to what junkies feel when they mainline horse. I actually felt sick and vertiginous for about one second, and then suddenly the world asserted itself, I grounded down into the floor and by the time the technician whispered go I was absolutely at the top of my game.

This was the first time I'd met Mr. Letterman--he doesn't meet people before the show, saving it for the interview. I think that's a good policy--it certainly gave us stuff to talk about. I was struck while we spoke at how fundamentally good he is at his job--he is nuanced and clear, and listens intently while broadcasting very clearly how long he needs you to speak for, whether to extend or retract a story, and what the next riff will build on from his side. He's been here for years and is a legend, so it seems simple fact, but I never thought much about his skills until I was suddenly playing with him...he is startlingly active.

I feel like I gave good interview--sharp anecdotes, clean transitions, nice engagement. It's an art form, interviewing, and I've been given an eighteen-month crash course in it. If anything, this was like my final exam, and while I will trust the judgment of the public and those who know me for my 'grade', I'm at least confident that I got a passing score, which is nice to be certain of.

After the interview I got to speak to Dave briefly, which was really nice. There's not much to say, but I was left with an overwhelming impression of transparency--that is to say, if Letterman says something on the air, odds are very strong that he feels and means it in real life. One of the producers and I talked about this and agreed emphatically with this assessment, but it's still just my blatherings--take it for what it is worth.

Other guests on my show (AKA Celebrity Encounter Time):

Julia Stiles: Seems like a nice woman. I ran into her as she was coming off, before I went on. I told her I'd heard good things about her TWELFTH NIGHT in Central Park, and she thanked me. I wanted to get free tickets, but was not able to connive them quickly enough. She is quite attractive, and looks substantially the same in person as she does on television/movies.

Wyclef Jean: Everyone in this band was absolutely wonderful to us--they talked to us, told me they loved my interview and were generally really open and attitude-free. They seem like a very good bunch of folks, and they radiate a lot of goodwill. This would be a nice group to be stuck in an elevator with...aside from their numbers, of course. And I don't know if they have mechanical aptitude. But excepting those things, they are a great gang.

One of their posse took all the food from the dressing room down with them, which I think rocks--it displays great frugality, a keen sense of when to step out of line (i.e. when there are really good cookies) and some chutzpah. I would have done the same, but I had an anniversary date to attend.

And now, my duties discharged, I will return to that anniversary date, already in progress.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Tonight I will be on Mr. Letterman's show with the lovely Julia Stiles and Wyclef Jean. It is also our anniversary, which we will celebrate in the traditional manner: we will go to a Brazillian grill, eat meat from swords and then see a sexy and smart French film. Props to Jean-Michele for planning this excellent extravaganza.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Some important legislation you may wish to be aware of:

MPAA Requests Immunity to Commit Cyber-Crimes

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

The savvy folks at Netslaves proffer some free advice for Bob Pittman, formerly of AOL/TimeWarner, in dealing with the life changes he must now be undergoing.

Interesting article about executive confidence over at my old employer:

Do Amazon's execs lack conviction?

Monday, July 22, 2002

Just a quick note to let people know that I'll be reading tomorrow night at the Astor Place Barnes and Noble. Unlike the Galapagos event, this will focus on 21 DOG YEARS. It'll be fun--some reading, some question and answering, a CEO will be symbolically burned. Good times for all.

The details:

Barnes & Noble -- 7:00 PM
4 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212.420.1322

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Tonight's performances of 21 DOG YEARS are cancelled, due to blackouts after the transformer explosion at a power plant in Lower Manhattan. We have no power at the Cherry Lane, which would really lessen your experience of the show.

If you need to reschedule your tickets for another night you may call the box office at (212) 727-3673 and the cahrming Sandy will take care of you. (If ordering tickets, simply use the Telecharge number from the Tickets pages...only call Sandy if you need to reschedule.)

Thursday, July 18, 2002

From my inbox, where humor has apparently gone on holiday:

I was reading the article that CNN wrote about your new book and I was interested in finding out if Amazon could sell me the book. At least until I got to the paragraph that stated Spain, home of the laziest people on Earth. I am very sorry to hear this statement because it is a bold lie. I am Belgian but living and working already two years in Madrid [Capital of Spain]. Since I am an international consultant that has worked in 6 European [Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain] countries, visited about 30 countries and worked with about 30 nationalities, I think I can fairly state that my opinion has some value. My experience of working in Spain is that in general I am working more hours [all productive] then in the five other European countries were I was working before. Furthermore in recent statistics Spain is just behind Brasil and the United States in the list of countries where pleople work the most. Surely you have gone to the Spanish coast and found Spanish people that were on holiday or that had to work with 40 degrees celcius [extremely hot in farenheit], but this does not give you the right to generalize your findings to the whole of Spain. So I would like to know on what you base your opinion on calling Spain home of the laziest people on Earth. Lastly I ask you to remove this statement from your book and not express it any longer in public.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Following up on something I posted a few days ago, it appears that theMatt and Ben lawsuit threats are a hoax. This was an extraordinarily bad idea--I'd love to be inside the mind of the publicist who dreamed this up:

So long as no one hears about this, it'll generate great buzz for the show...

But don't we want people to hear about this?

Well, yes.

So won't we inevitably get found out, and then have people pissed at us? plan is perfect.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

I am posting this from Bryant Park, where as I noted a few days ago the wonderful people at NYCwireless have worked with the Bryant Park administration to coat the whole park in WiFi. What a fantastic idea, seamlessly implemented. Incredible coverage, too--everywhere I've gone in the park I have had 100% signal strength, so I keep looking for where they have the node points--so far I can't find them.

From where I sit I can see the Chrysler building, the Empire State--it's an awesome view, and as the good people of this city saunter by and I cackle with glee at having wireless broadband in the park, it seems like a small slice of the future has arrived.

On the more prosaic level, I still don't know quite what I am doing for this event tonight--guess that's my special gift and curse, like all good superpowers. I need to head over to Williamsburg and make certain everything is all set to go for the event--hopefully I'll see some of the people who are reading this over there, and you'll find out firsthand what it is I end up saying.

Torn breathlessly from my email announcement list:

You are cordially invited to a special event tonight at the Galapagos Art Space in lovely Brooklyn which will loosely serve as a launch party for the book 21 DOG YEARS and even more loosely serve as an opportunity to hear a number of funny and interesting folks tell stories about working. The tone will be light, drinks will be available at the bar on the premises, and if the speaking doesn't rock your boat, there will instead be dancing.

Galapagos also features a bottomless indoor lake of utterly still water.

MCed by the author of the book, Mike Daisey, the evening will also feature short and sharp bits from Lawrence Krauser, Amy Fusselman, Colleen Werthmann, Jean-Michele Gregory, and Clay McLeod Chapman.

Here are the particulars:

Tuesday, July 16th
7:00 PM
Galapagos Arts Space
70 N 6th St.
(Take the L to Bedford Ave. stop.)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: 718.782.5188

Hope to see you tonight!

Monday, July 15, 2002

Late, but a step in the right direction: Senate Passes Business Fraud Bill


Hello Mike:

Saw the show on Saturday night and just thought I drop you a line to say thanks for the great show. I picked up the book at the show (thanks for the autograph) and just started reading it on Sunday night. Needless to say it was very amusing, but alas REIGN OF FIRE called. Now you might of should I say should take this as an insult for it was the worst movie in creation. So I found myself halfway through the movie wishing I would have saved the 10 bucks and maybe some brain cells and just read the book it is much more entertaining.


My manager just shot this over to me, and it's really quite amusing.

Sunday, July 14, 2002

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Michael Lewis:After all, any CEO who is actually worth $25 million a year should be responsible enough, and decent enough, not to take it.

From the inbox:

If you buy my books I'll buy yours. Mine is "Psydececk" and "A History of Mammals." Can buy them the same places you can buy yours.

W.W. Monigold.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Lunch technology rules.

Some folks in the NYCFringe festival this year are doing a show called MATT AND BEN, about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and their lives changing after the script to GOOD WILL HUNTING falls out of the sky, suddenly giving them a shot at fame.

Matt and Ben do not see this as a light-hearted romp, and have chosen to sic their lawyers on the fringe production, being done in a garage for about $10 in production costs. Here's a link to the formal complaint...I like page 3, where they will be demanding 5 million dollars for each time the show is performed.

Apparently the fact that the show is performed by two women who look ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY NOTHING LIKE MATT DAMON OR BEN AFFLECK, in addition to them being female, has no impact on their contention that people may confuse this play with a factual, E! biography of the two actors.

Excerpted from a letter in my inbox this morning:

A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to meet your bete noire, Mr. Bezos, at an event in Toronto celebrating the launch of Amazon's Canadian branch, I happened to be wearing a cast on my arm I decided to try and coax Jeff to sign it. I can confirm that yes, Jeff has an unpleasant laugh "a brittle, joyous yelping in panic-driven waves" (as you say). 'Cause he laughed just so while signing "Customers Rule! Jeff Bezos."

Not knowing what to do with the cast since it was removed, I tossed it up on eBay yesterday.

Get your Jeff Bezos totem here.

I am sick of flying after book touring, but it would help alleve the ennui if I was onboard one of these babies. If it's ready for tests in 2006, maybe we'll actually be seeing them by 2010. Looks like the future to me, for what it's worth.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Okay, read this letter written to Hunter S. Thompson.

Now read this letter from Thompson to his literary agent.

You have to make your own fun, otherwise it would be entertainment.

My friend Glenn spreads the gtospel of roadchalking with this catchy title:

Road Signs for Vagabond Computer Users.

I had a friend in high school who's grandfather was the King of the Hoboes. No, really. He made us a kind of soup once, out of flower stems and water from a garden hose.

(Hmmm. Hobos? Hoboes? Spellcheck doesn't know...wife is dictionary isn't saying...grrrrr.)

And in a related story, one of my favorite parks has WiFi now, because this city is so damn cool. They have great movies at Bryant Park all summer long, and now I have an excuse to get work done while I am waiting for the film to start, holding a spot on the lawn. Multitasking!

"You know, I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business."

George W. Bush, 1989

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Excerpted from tonight's stage management report for 21 DOG YEARS:

Customer Interaction of the Day:
A guy walks up to the box office and asks to buy three tickets for tomorrow�s show. He�s already seen the show once, during previews, but this time he�s bringing his nephew so he wants to make sure there�s nothing that would be inappropriate for a 14-year-old. Sandy looks at me so I tell him that there�s a liberal sprinkling of �fucks� and �shits� throughout the show. But the guy says, �Nah, I�m not worried about that. It�s the sex with his girlfriend.�

�What?� I ask. �There�s no sex in the show, actually.�

�Yeah there is. I�ve seen it once before. You know, the part where they clear the furniture away and they have sex on the floor? That�s the part I�m talking about.�

�No, seriously. That doesn�t happen in this show.�

�Yes it does! I�ve seen the show before. They have to move all the furniture!�

Despite not believing either Sandy or me, the man purchased three full-priced tickets for tomorrow�s show. Let�s hope he�s not too disappointed.

And now Qwest joins the fray. I knew corporate crime was a serious problem, but even I am becoming gobsmacked (left over Englishism) by the scale that is being revealed. I need to get to the theater, so more on this subject when I get the chance...

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

People often want to know what I would be doing if I wasn't doing a show about Amazon. While the truth is simply "a show about something else", in my fantasy life I would be putting my soul in hock so I could work with this guy who is researching beanstalk technologies for NASA. I've always been enamored of the idea, and it's really the most economical and sensible way to get yourself up into orbit--I'm glad to see some energy being invested in this arena. Give the article a read if your are new to the idea of space elevators--it sounds crazy, but it's so tantalizingly plausible that I think we'll see one within 100 years.

Ah, London--it would appear the weather will not be changing from steady drizzle during this brief visit. It's been a great hiatus for me from the humidity and heat of summer in NYC, so I'm actually loving it, even if every last Englishman I meet apologizes at length for their country's impoliteness.

The reading went well last night, despite my almost missing it--for reasons that are deeply unclear, my hotel has no clocks. You know, clocks--things that tell time? None. I left my cell in the States, which is how I normally have the time, thinking my hotel would have this quaint 18th century technology available. Bzzzzz. Sorry--that would be too bourgeois for a hotel right next to Hyde Park on Queen's Gate.

So I took a nap yesterday and left a wake-up call at the desk, which they executed. I showered quickly, came downstairs and after some confused messages from my publisher discovered that the hotel woke me 45 minutes after they had said they would--they called at the wrong time. With no other clocks it was hard to know it had happened for a while, and much hilarity ensued. When I confronted the staff they kept saying, "Oh, sorry," in a curious manner that somehow implied they were both not sorry and that I was at fault to some degree for not knowing a hotel of their caliber wakes people whenever they are good and ready. My bad!

I did make it to the reading in time, which was at the Pan Bookshop--a really lovely store near the hotel, and the staff was outstanding. In a classic European civilized touch there was free wine at the reading--THIS IS SUCH A GOOD IDEA, I CAN NOT ADEQUATELY EXPRESS ITS BRILLIANCE. Wow. Just outstanding--with the free wine, which I'm certain wasn't all that expensive, suddenly a dry book reading is a wet (or at least damp) party, with folks happy to be there and more relaxed about why they came--after all, they get to have drinks! I'm thankful next week's WORK AND WORKING reading at Galapagos will feature drinking, because it really helps take the event up a notch.

I met James Wallis, a friend of John Tynes whose work I'd known about and respected for years, and Erich McElroy, an old friend from Seattle who has expatriated to London was there too, along with a posse he had thoughtfully collected. It was the most casual of readings, owing to the drinking and the setup at the bookstore--we sort of hunkered down, Oprah-style, around a big table and I talked. People interrupted me freely, which is so cool--first because it means they are engaged, and second because these were the kind of interruptions that work, from people who have ideas and opinions and are engaged. Really a lot of good fun.

Afterward I was taken to a steakhouse, where I ate a huge amount of British beef--as a man who lives dangerously, sometimes it is necessary to exist at the edge of danger and possible brain damage from free prion-laced meat. I was struck by a number of short and pithy observations about London and its inhabitants as I sat at the table--they aren't earthshattering, and in fact may seem common sense, but these are the ones that come to mind.

***Everyone smokes, and your forget how many people don't smoke in America now until you see people doing it without guilt or shame.

***Brits are not believers in the idea of INTENSITY in their food flavors, but they do love TEXTURE. Brit food has great textures.

***People really do less like models here than in LA or NYC, but for me it makes the average person look more attractive--I feel like I'm on a level playing field.

***The streets are crowded, but American street sense is utterly unhelpful--totally different kind of traffic. People walk slower than New York, avoid eye contact and are more apt to get out of your way.

***The popular radio in restaurants and stores is still playing hits from the 80's, and it isn't retro--I think they are still playing them from back then. Phil Collins still has a home in his homeland.

***It is still a great joy to wander here down the streets in the dead of night, under the watchful gaze of the city's windows and doors, the streets well-lit and polished. This is my favorite walking city, bar none.

I have five interviews today, some meetings, scads of stock signings and then a plane back to Brooklyn. As whirlwind trips go, it rocked.

Monday, July 08, 2002

London: Sitting in easyEverything, the freakishly ubiquitous UK internet cafe, I am struck again by how strange it is to be here. I lived in London when I was in college, as part of a by turns blissful, tormented and ecstatic study abroad program, and though I've been to the city in the decade since then I've never shaken the feeling of muted salaciousness damply lurking beneath all the black umbrellas. Today is London the way I like her--mistily raining, a Monday morning, traffic-ey but polite, foreign-feeling but written immaculately in the Queen's English.

I'm staying at the Gore Hotel, which is quirky and well-apportioned, but the main reason for all the nostalgia is my location--I'm a stone's throw from Hyde Park, a gardened city park much like Central Park and much unlike it, that figures large in my personal mythologies. I've been walking there all morning, seeing all the places I remember--a few changed, but most blissfully constant despite almost ten years having passed. I had a lot of good adventures in that park, mostly of illegal and illicit varieties that are too dirty and interesting to get spilled in this blog. That's what we have literature and theater for--the juicy bits.

I stopped by a Waterstone's and signed a bunch of copies of 21 DOG YEARS. Pro: they had a lot of copies. Con: it was in the business section. If this book keeps getting shelved that way I will have to keep dealing with the waves of resentful Future Business Leaders who buy it and then discover that I don't have Fascinating Effective Insights Into The Phenomenon That Is

That is to say, I actually do have some insights into that, but I find them singularly dull and unengaging which is why A) I am not a member of the corporate world anymore, and B) I have not chosen to become a business writer. Nevertheless, the force of expectation is strong, and when people see AMAZON.COM they expect a TELL-ALL BOOK, which they expect will have to have some Life Plans and Business Bullshit. I am considering writing an appendix to the paperback that addresses these concerns, just to help people feel like they received value for their money.

In the meantime I must dash off and spelunk more of my old haunts in the few hours I have before the book tour people structure all my time--I'm working on a show set in part during my time in London (not this trip--when I lived here in college) and some reminders have been very effective in driving old thoughts back up from the murky depths, like bad fat carp that hug the pool bottoms in expensive Cantonese restaurants. There's a church, converted into a theater, that plays a prominent role--I'm going to see if I can make it there in the time I have left.

Wherever you are, enjoy your Monday--it's not like they happen every week. Oh, and if you are living in the UK please keep reading the next entry for details on my book reading tonight--it'd be lovely to see some faces, and having had more contact with the Hare Krishna than my UK publisher, I am not entirely certain if this is a well-publicized event or if I will be reading to a nice lady and her dog from Southampton.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

Happy 4th of July! In the spirit of the holiday, I thought I'd bring to our international guests attention the fact that I will be in London for 36 hours to promote 21 DOG YEARS, and I will actually be reading in that great city, at:

Pan Bookshop -- 6:30 PM
158 - 162 Fulham Road,
London, SW10 9PG
Phone: 020 7373 4997

The fireworks were delightful from the rooftops of Brooklyn, and Coney Island was every bit the human cesspool you'd have expected it to be that day--a delightful mess of bodies, water and folks selling beer on the beach. They sell everything on that beech--umbrellas, mangos on sticks, beer, ice water, fruit, hookers, crack, everything. That's civilization--too many people, but all the beer you can handle.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Portland: Last night was the reading at Powell's City of Books, the massive, multi-block new and used book store that happily dominates the city of Portland. It's an inspiration--even after seeing eighty or so bookstores on this tour, Powell's is so far above and beyond the scope and scale of all the others that it's like walking on the moon...when I came down to Portland from Seattle over the last few years on trips I always visited Powell's, and it was delightful to be reading there. Great turnout, much stronger than I expected, and it struck me as I was speaking that it has already become old hat--in just a few weeks I've gone from brand-new author type to an old hand. Granted, I'm a performer by nature, but it was still funnny to feel how rapid that transformation has happened.

The hotel I am at, the Heathman Hotel is very weird--it's a nice, upscale hotel like the other's I've stayed in, but the doorman is dressed in tights, wig and old English footman livery. Even stranger, when my friend Amanda dropped me off at the front at 2am they were loudly playing jazz Muzak out the front doors, which apparently is the Heathman's soundtrack all day long. I fell asleep thinking about what it must be like to wear those tights and wig while listening endlessly to the looping tape of Kenny G-inspired licks over and over. You see? There's always somebody with a worse job than you.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

In one of the final, secret signs that the New Economy (now known as the OLD New Economy) has breathed its last, Yahoo! Internet Life has folded. This wasn't hard to see coming, from my perspective--I've been twice offered writing assignments by these folks that turned into wild goose chases, with missed phone calls, weird returned emails and sheepish apologies about, "Dude, we are sooooooo sorry we had you revise that, like, five times, because...uh...I dunno." At least I know now for certain that those pieces can be sent to different publications, because they won't be showing up in the magazine. C'est la vie.

Seattle: I've been in Seattle less than thirty hours, but I can't believe how much ground I've covered. Five interviews, eight stock signings, a dinner with family, two constructive meetings and a kick-ass reading. Now that it's all passed, I'll be flying out of here in an hour and a half to land in Portland, the last leg of the latest book tour.

I lived in Seattle for five years, and returning now is the first time that I feel distance from here--when I last visited in December it still felt like a kind of home, but now it is much further away. After months of constant exposure to New York's scale and speed, Seattle seems a little quaint and tamed--it's hard to believe this is the same city that intimidated me when I moved here in 1996.

I kept dreaming of moving back here today, buying a house on Bainbridge Island by simply spending the ridiculous amount I do on rent for a mortgage payment, then taking a ferry into town whenever I want a dose of culture and living in some degree of silence, with the water and the trees. I'm being a little silly--I think the attraction is that I could then simply remain an author, and not have to perform anymore, which right now sounds like a fantastic vacation from my life. Truth is, I would last about a week.

Over a hundred people were at the Elliot Bay reading, overfilling the room and really welcoming me back to Seattle. We had a great time--I riffed on a variety of subjects, some old friends and some brand new. The interplay was fun, and I read a couple of text sections I was really happy with--it was a real pleasure to get such an incredibly warm reception before a hometown crowd.

After the reading we sojourned up to The Rosebud, one of my old haunts on Capitol Hill, and much drinking ensued. Considering it was a Monday folks gave as good as they got--a bunch of us made it to closing, and I was touched by the friends and family who stayed late to say hello and chat with me. Staying out late with old friends cost me all my sleep today, but it was worth it to reconnect with so many folks. I didn't realize what a rich man I was before today--after months and months of hard work, I'd forgotten how many people cared. I hope I get to keep my dual citizenship between NYC and Seattle.

Sunday, June 30, 2002

I'm posting this from the Newark airport, as I get ready for the next leg of the book tour--Seattle tomorrow, then Portland on Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to this--it's kind of like a homecoming , and though many literary types have warned us all that you can't go home again, I'm resolved to give it a good college try.

Today was outstanding--I had a matinee, which is already a problem in and of itself, as 21 DOG YEARS is not much of a matinee show--it's really more ofa bluesy, late-night kind of a thing. At any rate, it was a matinee, and it was Gay Pride Day--and the Cherry Lane Theatre is actually at the epicenter of gay culture in NYC. The streets were aswarm, and luckily we got started before the massive parade, which apparently starts at 60th Street made its way down to our neck of the woods. Nevertheless, during my performance we had a lot of old people and a few nappers, so when you could hear Cher's anthem "I Believe" playing through the walls of the theatre, it added a certain precious surreality to the proceedings. Matinees attract slow-moving older folks, so I hope they all didn't get nipple-pierced and booty-grabbed on their way back to New Jersey.

This pales in comparison to what happened earlier in the week, when 21 DOG YEARS was host to a marriage proposal. Greg Wong, an old friend of Jean-Michele's from high school moved to the city last year, and when he decided it was time to pop the question, he wanted to do it at our show. It worked splendidly--right after the show, I calmed the crowd down, then read from a piece of paper to find out if "Greg" was in the house. I then asked him a number of pointed questions about his prospects (dim) and his employment (nil), which caused quite a stir--the show being so up front and in your face, everyone assumed this was some kind of bizarre "after dinner treat" where an audience member was humiliated for the pleasure of all. I think everyone was just happy they weren't Greg Wong.

That reversed after I revealed that, knowing what I now knew about Mr. Wong, he'd be a fool not to marry the woman he had with him right now. He said, "That's a good idea," pulled out a ring, dropped to his knee and the audience was both dumbstruck and delighted. So did she--she couldn't stop laughing as she said yes, which I have always taken as a good sign in wedding engagements.

I couldn't top that, so we said goodnight--and long after the rest of the audience had filtered away, the two of them sat in the seats, the post-show music playing, the stage lights still shining, stretching that one moment out and holding it. None of us went inside...we didn't need to. Like mice we cleaned up all around the rest of the theater until we heard from them, and wished them well, and they walked off into a warm summer night like every betrothed couple on this fine planet.

I have performed a lot of shows, and been around the block, but that was some of the finest theater I've had a hand in yet. Thanks to both of you for letting us have a small role in your night.

Saturday, June 29, 2002

A lot has been happening over the last few days, even beyond Xerox joining WorldCom, Enron and the rest of the sorry bastards in revealing that they couldn't keep themselves from inventing their own prosperity in the 90's.

I'm between shows right now, and it is a day of surprises: Drew of FARK fame was at the 5pm show, along with Ken of Corporate Motherfucker. We chatted a bit after the show--Drew is in town to pick up Fark's award ta PCExpo, and Ken lives in NYC, so he was serving as escort and bodyguard. Really nice fellows, especially for internet rock stars--they're reviewing the book and show, and so after I had bribed them they went their merry way.

SAN FRANCISCO: What a great experience! After the mediocre reception in LA, I was a little fearful of what the next leg of the book tour was going to bring, but I needn't have worried--it turned out fabulously. Highlights include getting a commentator job on NPR's Tech Nation, where the host Moira Gunn is not just cool, foxy and intelligent, she's used to work on rockets at NASA. We had a great interview, and then she offered me a gig doing tech and science commentary for the show...and so my steady descent from comedy and into the dark realms of punditry and talking-headedness takes another step. Bwaahhahahahha!

I did a nice spot with the kids at TechTV, and it was neat to actually meet them and hang in the studio--before now I'd always done things by remote from here in New York. Good people. I did a segment fueled by sleep deprivation and Skittles that emphasized the homoerotic elements of 21 DOG YEARS, which probably isn't ideally suited to TechTV's audience profile, but damn, it was pretty funny.

The less-that-one-day visit wrapped up with a drive down the coast to Capitola, where I visited Capitola Books, a fabulous bookstore there. Lovely staff, and great turnout--we had over sixty people, which is more than Rick Russo had the last time he was there...of course, Rick now has a Pulitzer, and he's on book number six, so we're really not in the same league, but he was my teacher in college and the desire to compete is strong...even if the man can clean my clock without taking a deep breath. It's good to have role models who can kick your ass--it keeps you honest.

Well, I need to get back to the theater, where tonight's show features a visit from Harvard Business School alumni. We have a talk-back afterward, and I'm just hoping they aren't quite as straight-laced and literally business-minded as some of the folks who review my book online and are pissed that it doesn't contain Business Secrets of the Universe. Also, tonight is Jean-Michele's birthday, so I'm hoping we can clear out quickly and actually get some celebrating in. So here's hoping everyone else's weekend isn't involving alumni BizSchool types, and that your weather is as nice as it is here in the city.