December 24, 2007

Seeing Things

Shortly after I got my new glasses I noticed that the thicker frames blocked my peripheral vision.

It took me a while to notice this, actually. One tricky thing about peripheral vision is that when it is partially blocked, your brain fills in the void. I didn't notice what I wasn't seeing. I saw my normal peripheral vision, even though it was obscured by the thick frames of my specs.

I only figured this out after several weeks of bumping into people and working backwards to solve the problem.

In my ordinary life I just chalk this up to an unavoidable concession to fashion, but the problem is especially bad in New York because the city is so compressed. To navigate here you really have to look out. I've been bumping into at least one person a day, and we don't even go out that much.

So, today, having already bumped into two people accidentally, I was on my guard. And so when, during some afternoon shopping, I felt a brush against my arm, I stepped away and turned, and reflexively started into my standard apology.

Only to find that I was speaking to a handbag hanging from a rack in the corner of the book store.

Waiting to Exhale

My friend Pasha Malla has written a moving and beautiful account of his mother-in-law's receipt of a lung transplant. Here's the link: Waiting to Exhale.

December 10, 2007

Whitney Pastorek's Keen Eye

As you may know, the print incarnation of the small magazine Pindeldyboz died a quiet death this month, with the announcement by Editor in Chief Whitney Pastorek that the upcoming issue (No. 7) will be the last. Issue Seven will be released as a PDF before the end of the year. The website will keep going.

Check out the Hobart website for a short tribute to Whitney and Pindeldyboz, an essay entitled: A Short Essay in Which We Celebrate Whitney Pastorek's Keen Eye for Beautiful Things. Also, as my last act as Hobart web photo editor I used photos from Whitney's Flickr page (with her permission, of course) to illustrate's this month's Hobart stories. You can see Whitney's photos by jumping around this month's links on the Hobart page.

A few months ago I saw Jim Shepard saying in an interview that literary communities are ephemeral, and that's true. My writing friends and I seem to be linked by MySpace or Facebook pages, by the e-mails we send each other, by the brief times we cross path at readings, workshops, or conferences. What was the point of this paragraph? Just that, for many of us, the Pindeldyboz print issue was a familiar waypoint on the journey. We'll miss seeing it on the magazine stand, holding it in our hands, and reading its ecclectic mix of wonderful stories.

December 3, 2007

The New Phone Book is Here! The New Phone Book is Here!

For the past month or so I've been writing blog posts for the new 23/6 comedy news site. I have to say, it's been going better than I anticipated. I'm finding that I have things to write about, and the good people at 23/6 (shout out to Alex. Hi Alex!) have been very nice to me.

So, wanting to keep track of my writing over there, I've created a new link thing in the right-hand column, containing my blog posts for the 23/6 site. Soon I will have more posts over there than I can keep track of in the column thing, at which point I don't know what I'll do.

What are blogs? Unless they are focused on some subject external to the author, they are complicated exercises in vanity, that's what. This blog has fallen into that pit and is too far down to rescue itself, I'm afraid.

Moving on, we will soon post an essay about Whitney Pastorek, as a small tribute to her move to L.A. and the end of the print version of her magazine Pindeldyboz, perhaps the mightiest of the basement productions that dot America's literary landscape.