Saturday, June 14, 2003

READING: VURT by Jeff Noon 

Just finished VURT. My first Jeff Noon book, and now I have to read them all. Noon is in the tradition of my favorite trippy writers, notably Tim Powers and now Michael Faber, with homage to Borges, Pynchon, Farina, and of course Lewis Carroll.

What Noon says
"But the main thing about how Vurt came to be, is that when Steve asked me to write a novel, I'd actually started to write a play called "The Torture Garden."' And The Torture Garden is a novel written in 1899 by a guy called Octave Murble. He was a kind of anti-authoritarian, anarchist kind of figure -- a bit like de Sade, but not as mad. Basically, he wanted to bring down the authorities, and he did this through satire. The Torture Garden is a garden in the middle of a prison, where every Tuesday, the bourgeoisie can go along and watch the prisoners being tortured. The garden is described incredibly well. It's beautiful. And the actual tortures are written about in a very lovely way -- reminded me a lot of Ballard when I read it.
And I'd wanted to do this as a play ever since I read the book, but I couldn't work out how to do it. And then, I was reading a textbook on virtual reality, and the introduction was by William Gibson. It was only about a one-page piece, but in it, he just throws away this line, which says that some of the characters where playing a game called "the Torture Garden."
And then it suddenly clicked to me that the Torture Garden is in virtual reality -- the rich people could visit virtual reality to experience this torture. And that's when I started to think this is what I could do to make this a play, and also make a play about virtual reality, which no one had done at the time.
So I put this idea to a director I knew, and he was into it, so I started to write the play. About half way through it, Steve turns to me in the bookshop where we were working, and says, "Write me a novel."' So, I started to write this novel, and forgot about the play. But it kind of grew out of the play, the novel did. I didn't realize it at the time, but when I finally finished the novel and went back to the play, there was so much in the play that went into the book. "

VURT--Music Noon listened to while writing
Ambient Dub
Higher Intelligence Agency
Original Rockers
Guerrilla in Dub

What is Vurt about?
Some Australians run a gaming site called Vurt, and they say:
"Jeff Noon is perhaps one of the more iconoclastic SF writers of the era.
To call Noon's fiction cyberpunk is akin to calling anything by Terry
Brooks readable. His writing is apocalyptic in feel, describing a gritty
futuristic world in which dream meets reality. His first book "Vurt,"
covers the searching of Scribble for Desdemona, superficially a
traditional love story. But it has a twist: Desdemona, Scribble's sister
has been lost to the shadowy world of "Vurt," a psychedelic reality woven
from the desires and dreams of the populace, only accessible by vurt
feathers, drugs of mind-weirding quality."

What Noon readsNoon's top 10 favorite works of 'fluid fiction are
Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll, edited by Martin Gardner
Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter
Digital Leatherette by Steve Beard
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Rock Springs by Richard Ford
The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus
The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven by Rick Moody
Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath
A Humument by Tom Phillips
I've read Borges, Carrol, Plath, and Ford, and some other Rick Moody, so this list can keep me going for a while.

Why am I going on about this?
Wonderul fresh point of view, powerful writing, sharp edge. The man's got something.


The first road trip 

San Jose Mercury News: One hundred years ago, Horatio Nelson Jackson drove a used car with no roof and
no windshield from San Francisco to New York -- 5600 miles, most of them unpaved -- in 63 days.
It was the first successful road trip across America, and the subject of a new documentary by Ken Burns.
Read the amazingly cool story in the Merc.
Check out Floridian Charles Wake--from Sarasota, to be exact--who will, along with family and friends drive two vintage Winton automobiles cross-country from San Fran to NYC to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first such endeavor, starting on June 17th, and ending July 26th.
See the show Horatio's Drive on public television in October.

Stripperella & Schlepperallas:Family of (Wo)man 

The Schlepperellas: Two Bay area moms gone mad rag on the world in their comedy show.
Stripperella: Mad-ass mom Pamela Anderson is the voice of Erotica Jones, stripper by night and superhero Stripperella sometime right after that.
The Schlepperealla are two domestic CEOS, bemoaning eveything from teen angst to upper-arm flab. Stripperella is an agent for T.H.U.G.G. and a superhero who fends off nasty villains such as Dr. Cesarean, a plastic surgeon whose evil plans involve giving unexpected women explosive breast implants made of nitroglycerin, and Cheapo, a super-villain on a budget who makes his henchman share a gun. Seperated by 20 years and 60 lbs, whose to say they're not sisters under the skin?

Department of Celebrity Gossip 

You're not Spike: Fiesty director Spike Lee blocks men's channel name Spike Lee is mad and he's not gonna take it. On Friday, a judge supported his petition to block using Spike TV as the name for its new men's channel, pending a trial. State
Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub ordered Lee to post a $500,000 bond in case the network wins the case. Lee says Spike TV trades on his celebrity and that's not right.
Suntimes and many other news sources report.
Like a Virgin: Affleck loves Lopez's innocence Jen's been with five guys in her life and I love her for is pretty much what reports Affleck saying. "There aren't many virgins in their thirties,' Affleck reportedly said. 'Jen's about as close as you're likely to find, certainly in Hollywood.'

Dial up subscriber base continues sliding down the drain 

Mediapost: Reuters reported on Friday that Kaufman Bros. analyst Mark May's latest research note predicts that dial-up Internet subscriber losses will continue unabated for several more quarters at AOL Time Warner Inc.'s America Online, MSN, EarthLink Inc. and other major players. May estimated AOL, MSN and Earthlink combined will lose 675,000 subscribes in the second quarter, with MSN posting the largest losses as it loses its rebate customers to high-speed or value-priced Internet service providers.

Becoming bi-coastal, some thoughts 

How did I turn into a bi-coastal person? And how unusual is my situation?
Five years ago, I was living happily in New Jersey, running the new media group for a very large publishing business, and having a great time in New York. So great, I thought I'd never leave.
Soon after that, I moved to California to run programming, production and design at Netscape, post-AOL acquisition, when the goal was to make Netscape the free "flanker brand" to the paid AOL service and the showcase for great services and information.(Yeah, I know, that didn't last.)
During my Netscape years, I traveled regularly to NY and Virginia to work with partners, go to executive summits in Dulles, get budgets approved, etc. Then, the year of 9/11, I accepted a job that meant spending a HUGE amount of my time at AOL in Dulles---even thought I was living in California and based there. During that year, I became a 1K flyer.
As much as I said I didn't want to do that level of traveling, I must have gotten used to it, because I've continued to have lives on both coasts.
There's my Bay area network, amazing people doing very interesting things, mostly with technology, RSS, blogs, browsers, information and data. Then there's the New York group, bright and productive, very involved with publishing, media, streaming, broadband, museums, retail, marketing and premium services. People involved with education and nonprofits on both coasts.
My hope is to spend more and more time working with coien

Friday, June 13, 2003

More tk 

In San Francisco this am, heading back to to the Valley. More later on VURT, an amazing novel and on the Left Coast.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

On the road: offline most of tomorrow 

San Jose, here I come.

Puppylicious, the blog 

My American bulldog, Winston, loves attention, but he's "just a big baby," in truth, which is something all owners of lazy dogs say about their charges. Winston likes to flop down at my feet and sleep looking like nothing so much as a great white blog.
Now Dog Tales: weird, inspiring dog tales, offers me a chance to read other people's blogs about their pets.
Blog Dog--photoblog by dogs for their masters
The Dog's Blog--Arlo plays Heaven on his Xbox, woof
Wwoof's Blog: 4-footed zen master

BOOKS: Just finished 

Under the Skin by Michael Faber. This 2000 first novel by the author of the recent and much-acclaimed The Crimson Petal and the White, a wonderful novel now being pitched as a movie vehicle for actress Kirstin Dunst, is troubling and sharp. While far from the jumbotronic, Baz Luhermanesque flash of the second book (underscored by shrewd characterizations) Under the Skin has a troubling afterglow that's hard to shake.
A science-fiction parable set in the wilds of Scotland, not far from Inverness, Under the Skin, is as spiky and pointed as Orwell's ANIMAL FARM, but as modern as the White Stripes. It's not so much that I enjoyed this book as I can't stop thinking about it. Original, wonderful, and smart.

Making Peace with the Things in Your Life, by Cindy Glovinsky, CSW. I don't have a problem with organizing objects or throwing stuff away, but two of my best friends do, so I was curious to read this book by a licensed psychotherapist and organizer. It's pretty good, and seems like it could persuade even the worst hoarder to start double-bagging some of her excess.

being zen: bringing meditation to life, by eric bayda. Opening yourself up and finding inner piece by a man who seemed amazingly uptight and not open. Abandoned half-way through.

Baroque-a-nova by Kevin Chong. This first novel could be better, but I'm digging it. Set in Vaqncouver, it's the story of 17 year old Saul and the adults in his life, all of whom are wacky old hippies. Steve Urkel meets Running with Sissors.


Cruising the blogosphere this morning 

Media Diet by Heath Row: I hope to meet Heath one day. I think I'll like him--and he is blogging the hell out of the Jupiter conference on blogging. Entries right here.
Kevin Kelly, Whole Earth and high tech genius, has new Cool Tools (thanks BoingBoing) Kevin also has a great page asking questions of readers, right here.
Dave Sifry is my hero! I am already addicted to Technorati, and it appears that Dave created a full-text search for Technorati. Now you can search the complete text of over 300,000 blogs, and all matching text posted two hours ago or more will be returned. Link to the beta search is here. (Thanks again, BoingBoing)
Diary of a lost girl: Christine is 30-something, clinically depressed, home with an eating disorder , hella smart, and a new blogger. Girl, welcome to the world.


Silicon Valley/New York City : Job losses slowing? 

According to USA Today, job losses in Silicon Valley, while continuing, are slowing from the pace of the previous 2 years. The valley and San Francisco together have accounted for nearly one of every seven jobs cut nationwide in the past two years. The only region to lose more jobs than San Jose has been New York City, where 186,000 jobs were cut in the past 2 years. Also, more people have been moving out of the region than moving in.
According to a recent US Council of Mayors report, overall employment growth in the 20 largest metropolitan areas in 2003 is predicted at 0.1 percent with nine of the areas experiencing either no job growth or continued job loss. That figure is a significant downward revision from a January report, which predicted a job growth rate of 0.9 percent this year


Pizza leads to capture of San Jose child kidnapper 

Pizza Delivery News: San Jose police officers arrested the kidnapper of a 9-year-old girl by using delivery records from a Little Caesars pizza store. According to multiple press reports, the alleged kidnapper dropped the girl off at a convenience store on June 8. During a conversation with the convenience store operator, the girl recalled that a pizza was delivered to the home where she allegedly was held for two days.


AOL: Does only the spam gets through? 

I have a routine: every morning, I get up, go over to my PC, and check out the emails that came in the previous night. These days, I spend a lot of time deleting spam offering online drugs, lowered mortgage rates, free vacations, and all sorts of sex and adding the senders to my blocking list. But these days, I'm also worrying about who's NOT getting through--such as the friends trying to email me from Comcast, Earthlink. iVillage and god knows where else. You see, I have an AOL email address (left over from my days as a staffer), and AOL's spam filter has blocked them out. The problem, according to ZDNet, is that tactics to thwart spammers include requiring large Internet service providers such as Comcast to register their e-mail server configurations to communicate with AOL--and then blocking mail from those sources if there are any changes to the configurations.
Do I ride this out, or do I switch?
AOL mail seems laughably unprofessional to some folks, but my email address is simple and easy to remember. Plus, I've had it for 4 years. Also, I am enough of a rebel to enjoy the downscale aspect...Having an uncool email address feels cool to me, like wearing KSwiss and Puma sneakers before they came back.
Still, if folks mail can't get through...That's bad...Yet another reason to join friends leaving the service for cheaper utilities.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Monday and not raining 

It's Monday in New York and it's finally not raining. Not raining is a new condition of weather that overrides whether it is sunny, grey, cold, hot, windy, dry, humid, etc. Not raining is great in comparison to raining, the constant condition of the Eastern Seaboard for the past 30 days.
Not raining means:
1) Wearing a skirt--no chance of getting my legs splashed in a downpour
2) Not wearing black--it's not summer white, but at least there's no need to mask mud puddle splashes
3) Smiling--Less reason to feel sleepless in Seattle, or like a rainforest refugee
4) Better living through dog walking--Winston and I can go on long, meandering walks, and even head over to the woods, in between stints of work and life
Will it last? Nope, rain predicted for tomorrow.
Does it matter right now? No, it's sunny

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