Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is upon us! Just a few blocks from Yuyuan Gardens we went strolling in a Christmas wonderland of cheap Chinese holiday decorations. Why are all the Santas playing the saxophone?

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More from Grant - see Cavett for more. This is an excerpt from Mailer's (third-person) written account of the show, including a run-in with Gore Vidal before the airing:

At this moment, alone in the green room, he felt a tender and caressing hand on the back of his neck. It was Gore. Vidal had never touched him before, but now had the tender smile of a man who would claim, "It doesn't matter, old sport, what we say about each other — it's just pleasant to see an old friend."

Mailer answered with an openhanded tap across the cheek. It was not a slap; neither was it a punch. Just a stiff tap.

To his amazement, Vidal gave him a stiff tap back.

Norman smiled. He leaned forward and looked pleasantly at Gore. He put his hand to the back of Gore's neck. Then he butted him in the head.

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Make sure to check out the upcoming volume 6 of CRAFT magazine, including my guide to turning travel photos into themed coloring books.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

China: Two Scenes

1. The pace of change: I dropped off an armload of clothes at the dry cleaners across the street. Passing by a few days later, I saw the same storefront now completely demolished and being rebuilt by a work crew with jack hammers and mallets. The owners were standing in front, powdered white with dry wall dust, handing out clean clothes to their startled customers.

2. Sitting at Costa coffee in the Grand Gateway mall, I was privy to an interchange between a European businessman, a Chinese businessman, and his Chinese translator. The topic? A new Hello Kitty product to be launched in time for the holidays. Out of respect for the harried businessmen, I won't divulge what the new product is, but I got a good look at it as the infuriated European rapped the pink plastic prototype repeatedly on the table, talking rapidly and in a grave voice about deadlines, shipping, price points, with furrowed brow. I have never heard anyone utter the phrase "little fashion kitty" with more seriousness.


Thanks again to Grant for sending me this from the new Paris Review Interviews, Vol. II., now on my Christmas list - from an interview with Harold Bloom. The interviewer narrates within the brackets...

(Midway through the interview...)


....But the early books of Wilson Knight are very fine indeed--certainly one of the most considerable figures of twentieth-century criticism, though he's mostly forgotten now.

[At this point we wander into the kitchen, where Mrs. Bloom is watching the evening news.]


Now let's wait for the news about this comeback for the wretched Yankees. I've been denouncing them. They haven't won since 1979. That's ten years and they're not going to win this year. They're terrible.... What's this?

[TV: The Yankees with their most dramatic win of the year this afternoon.... And the Tigers lost again.]


Oh my God! That means we're just four games out! How very upcheering.


Jessica Hahn.


Jessica Hahn is back!

[TV: ...hired on as an on-air personality at a Top 40 radio station in Phoenix... ]


How marvelous!

[TV: Playboy magazine had counted on Hahn to come through. She appeared nude in a recent issue.]


Splendid. ...But oh, let us start again, Antonio. What were we talking about?

[We return to the living room.]

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Check out the first in my (bi-weekly? semi-weekly? quasi-weekly? you know, once every other week) series on Tripmaster Monkey, Letters from Shanghai. The first installment is about Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another review up at Small Spiral Notebook, this one of Ma Jian's classic Stick Out Your Tongue, now being reprinted.

Look for major updates to this site soon!