All you poets who secretly write fiction...

Wanted to call your attention to the job search at Bucknell, seeking a poet who also has some prose publications (fiction or non-fiction). The listing can be found in all the usual places. If you're interested, please apply. If you know of someone who should be interested, but who's not paying attention to these things, give them a tap on the shoulder please.

(Excuse the change in screen names, but I realized I should be masking my superhero status on these blogs. In keeping with the dog theme, I'm now...)


Fight the dictatorship

It's finally happened after 217 years. The Congress has voted to give the president dictatorial powers. Under the antiterrorism legislation passed yesterday, Bushius Caesar now has the right to arrest anyone and hold them indefinitely, without charges or a trial or letting them see evidence against them or chance for appeal -- and to torture them, simply by calling them "illegal enemy combatants." If that's not the definition of a dictator, what is? Is that not Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini? We now have a legal framework for gulags for dissenters. Game, for the time being, over. Any of our lawyers care to comment on this? How scary is this?

There is a diary on this by a lawyer at DailyKOS. Here's a summary from the NYT:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

Step One has to be taking the Congress away from these disgusting traitors. Now is the time to give money if you ever thought about doing that, as tomorrow is the deadline for this Quarter.

Contribute to DNC to help win the mid-term election and change course.
Volunteer to call voters to convince people to turn away from disaster.
Join/give to the ACLU because they will have to fight this unconsitutional law in the courts.

Daddi Bauht Stone!!!

Peezze Save Georgie! Peeze!



Daddy baut a coughin

Daddy has only hurd from 4 peeps -- he polisses his boomstick -- and he got a coughin for Georgie! Oh peez save my bro! Peez gyve to awkshun.



Smart bacteria, evil yogurt, and the end of security

Every once in a while, the Internets lead you to some nugget of what-the-bloody-hell... Ian Pearson is a futurologist for British Telecom, and here is a snippet -- okay, a long stretch -- from an interview he did last week with a Welsh technology news site I just stumbled across (sweet dreams!):

There's another one - the security threat from hell. Think of the Terminator movies. The technology of that is pretty much obsolete by the time we get to 2020, a prototype of the T-2 liquid metal robot has already been done, and with nanotechnology is will be possible to make that work. That's not the problem to worry about.

DNA is already being used in a test tube to assemble macro electronic circuits - basically shove in a suspension of carbon nano tubes and gold particles, stir in some DNA. You can persuade the DNA to assemble the gold particles onto the end of the carbon nano tubes and make simple circuits. That was demonstrated about two years ago, and the company has gone secret since, as they are now working on developing more sophisticated circuits. The idea is that you do bottom up assembly which is the next generation of chip assembly by using DNA and protein clusters to basically grab the stuff and stick it together using clever chemistry. The key point is that you can do this with DNA.

We were thinking, one of the good ways of doing this is spending billions of pounds for a real live bacterium - e-coli, or something you find in yoghurt - and you don't modify it so much that it can't survive because you want it to replicate, but you modify it so that it creates electronic circuits within its' own cells. That's really good fun then, because you've got electronic bacteria - real live bacterium which can replicate with electronics in it. The electronics have nothing to do with the bacteria, they are just there, but they turn it into "smart bacteria", because you can then connect those electronics together using infrared or bioluminescence and make completely scalable electronic circuits. So you start off with one bacterium, which is essentially a module, and you link billions of these together and you've got something that makes your PC look pretty primitive. You've got a "smart yoghurt" by about 2025, and we did the calculations, and we reckon that it's possible to make a yoghurt with roughly the same processing power as the entire European population.

It gets worse. If it's yoghurt, you can just bung it in the bin, but unfortunately yoghurt is just the bacterial suspension. Bacteria is all around us, in everything we touch, everywhere you look around your office. There's also bacteria in your body - in fact more bacterial cells than human cells - and an awful lot of diseases can change your psychological behaviour.

Keeping the Terminator theme, the T-4 robot is totally invisible - it's based on bacteria - you breathe them in via the air supply and they directly change what you want to do. You can't fight against that. In the War of the Worlds, there were all these sophisticated space ships that got destroyed by the germs in the end - that could be the future for humanity. In all seriousness, one of the biggest threats we face this century is probably smart bacteria, and as a security risk it's enormous.

At the moment we're relying on encryption and firewalls and other security measures to stop people stealing your passwords. In the future, all I have to do is let some bacteria into your building; they float through the air conditioning system, land on your keyboard, you can't see them, you don't know they are there. They record every single keystroke and report it back to me. As if that's not enough, they could also be listening to what you're talking about, and even directly interface with your brain if necessary, and they can certainly float in through the vents on your PC and access the chips.

So how do you manage security in that sort of a world? I would say that there will not be any security from 2025 onwards, because I do not see how you could possibly do it. You just can't get rid of the bacteria - you could use bacterial filters in the air supply, but you can't afford to do that for every single bit of air everywhere in the entire country. We don't even have the beginnings of understanding how to deal with that kind of threat, and yet that threat could happen in as little as twenty years time.

There will of course be a lot of technological developments in that time, but the fact is, you can imagine some smart scientist in a rogue regime developing this as a terrorist weapon, and you can certainly imagine people doing this deliberately so that we've got an almost infinite supply of computing on demand for perfectly benign purposes, and then unfortunately it goes wrong. Essentially it's a major security threat - smart bacteria is one of the ways you could wipe out humanity, and it's an extinction level threat if it goes wrong. It's just one of the things on a list we've got of things based on technology that could wipe out humanity. It's the T-4 robot essentially, and we know people are working in that direction now.

Music expert wanted for editing project

Do you fit the following description or know someone who does?

1. Masters' degree in Music
2. Familiarity with Microsoft Word
3. Ability and time to read 2 or 3 chapters a week of a 300-page book on basic music theory
4. Desire to make some good, fairly easy money

If so, please email me at earthgoat@gmail.com

Georgie gunna dye

i thynk daddy really plans to chute my bro -- peeze give to the awkshun -- he only hurd from 1 good sole -- now he yells and he's bought a boomstick and a suitcase full of beer -- peeze save my bruther -- peeze -- for the luv of the Great Collie that Watches over Us Awl (except kats, hoo r devils)-- Pogue Mahone

More Love for Murakami

I don't understand. I feel, at this point, like the guy arguing Angelina Jolie isn't hot while his friends stand around stupefied and embarrassed and maybe a little suspicious.


South Coast Auction Needs YOU!

I am on the board of an auction here to provide stipends for law students who want to work in the area of public interest law to benefit our community. I've already sent out an email to the addresses I had, but I thought this would be a great opportunity for all the friends and assassins who visit our lowly little electronic corner to donate one of their signed works -- photo, CD, book, broadside, painting, whatever.

My idea is to create an auction collection of "new art." I think it will go over great, and provide everyone with some of the exposure they deserve. Don't be coy -- you're all freakin' geniuses, or I wouldn't be asking.

Of course, this is also a referendum on if anyone likes me.

And I'll shoot George if I don't get anything.

But, be that as it may, please let me know -- and please give!


By the grace of Cod

Headquarters is now a rental house on the Cape, far, far from Iowa. Instead of corn, there are cranberries. Cut farmers, paste lobstermen. There is actually one Dunkin' Donuts store per citizen, and they are all staffed by unintelligible former lunch ladies from Bulgaria. Strange system: you tell them what you want in your coffee, and they do it. I heard a woman ask for "three quahtas of an Equal, hon." I for one prefer to complete my order hunched in privacy at the cream and sugar counter, thank you very much, because it's nobody's business how I like my beverage. But it is faster, I suppose, and as Traca da Broon points out, this way you don't have to wait in two lines.

We drive a lot now, go through a tank every three or four days. We have a mall in Hyannis, a gym in Sandwich, a doctor in Mashpee, and a nephew in Falmouth. And when you drive you have to stop at Dunkin' Donuts every five miles. I believe it's a state law -- sorry, commonwealth law. Went to the Bodyworlds exhibit in Boston, feeling sick most of the way through it. Funny how Real Human Bodies don't look real yet can make me nauseated all the same. "Woman's Abdomen Showing Massive Constipation" sure was a highlight. In the other direction we have Provincetown. Didn't see you, Nam! Should have emailed first. Next time. Bigger and more elaborately cute than I had expected.

The beach is cool, a couple hundred yards' walk. Dogs dig it. Mind the rocks and dead crabs! Mainly things are quiet so far. A new phase. Lots of writing, reading, and work. And cable TV. Took us days to figure out how to tell what's on TV! Haven't had it since 1999! What do we know about what to watch without putting in a DVD? We're like, as my sister pointed out, "people from China." "America's Top Model" seemed as good as anything, and, as it turned out, it was. I totally couldn't believe what that one bitch said about the other one that one time. I was like I so hope you're booted off at the end, and when she wasn't we realized that they're keeping the bitch on because we hate her -- they know we watch to hate -- and we began to hate ourselves for that. But only a little bit. Not as much as we hated that bitch. TV watching suggestions welcome. We're ready for "Lost," for "Battlestar Galactica," for "Deadwood." Has George's gone out of business yet, or are y'all making up for our lack?


The Continuing Erotic Adventures of Allen Ruskin, Headmaster of Educational Aid

Ruskin, the swinish solicitor, was engaged in his morning constitutional with his two great hounds, Cerebus and Baskerville, striding manfully across the law school's lawns and taking in a crisp fall day.

"This is such a crisp fall day," he thought to himself. "I am glad I am taking it in."

His feet led him down the hill and past the newly-coed swimming pool, where many of the new girls were engaged in a class on Admiralty. He immediately spotted Dottie. Her red hair was like a lucious cherry bobbing over a half-submerged vanilla ice cream sundae.

"Miss Gale, could you come over here please?" asked the demonic dean.

Dottie got out of the pool and walked over to where Ruskin was standing. "This place is so much more than Kansas. I don't think I could ever go back there," she said.

"I would hope that you would not. We need girls like you in the study of the law, especially when the trained helper monkeys' cages need freshening up. There won't be any trained helper-monkeys in such a legal backwater as Kansas, I can assure you," said Ruskin, his eyes agog at the aquatic action going on just aft of Dottie's shoulders. The girls' suits were scandals -- his base eye appraised more than one young bare calf.

"Those are quite big dogs, Headmaster Ruskin," said Dottie, the water and cold air accentuating her womanly charms.

Ruskin pried his puerile peepers from the pool's Penelopes. "You can pet them," he said.

"But they are so large and hairy."

"A young lady should never be afraid to pet large and hairy things," leered the amorous advocate.

"Oh my."

"Here -- I think it is time for another tutoring session," said Ruskin, that caddish codger of conjugal carnality. He tied the dogs to a large tree and then pushed Dottie into a clump of nearby rose bushes. She fell back in a swoon. "Oh my!"

But as soon as they were in the bushes, the engorged exhibitionist found himself immdiately emasculated.

"Did you prick yourself?" asked Dottie.

"If I was going to prick myself, I wouldn't be out here with you, would I? What in blue blazes is that infernal cracking sound?" screamed the impetuous idolator. "I can't concentrate with such racket! It sounds like some hedonistic Hottentots having a hellish howdown."

"Oh, that's Alice -- she has a thing for croquet," said Dottie, lying licentiously lusty within the lawn's lucious leaves. "I think I need assault explained to me again."

"In due time," snapped Ruskin. Ruskin stuck his fiendish face flush out of the rose bush. Across the lawn was a pretty blonde girl in a sweet blue dress. "You there! What are you doing? I am trying to tutor a student and I would like some quiet please!"

Alice looked up from red croquet ball she was about to hit across the yard. "I was just smacking balls, sir. I'm sorry, I will do it elsewhere."

"You like smacking balls, do you?" asked Ruskin, a terrible twinkle ticking in the crevice of his eye.

"More than anything."

"Well, why don't you come over here -- my TA and I might be of service in such an exercise! -- And bring that mallet!!"

**** What's next for this Lusty Legal Lucifer -- find out next week!

George Saunders: half-million-dollar genius

The MacArthur Genius grants were announced, and Saunders is among the recipients.


Oh God Damn it ...

From Michael Rogers
Special to MSNBC

“Literacy experts and educators say they are stunned by the results of a recent adult literacy assessment, which shows that the reading proficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade, with no obvious explanation.
“’It's appalling -- it's really astounding,’ said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and a librarian at California State University at Fresno. ‘Only 31 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it. That's not saying much for the remainder.’”
--The Washington Post, December 25, 2005

December 25, 2025 — Educational doomsayers are again up in arms at a new adult literacy study showing that less than 5 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it.
The obsessive measurement of long-form literacy is once more being used to flail an education trend that is in fact going in just the right direction. Today’s young people are not able to read and understand long stretches of text simply because in most cases they won’t ever need to do so.
It’s time to acknowledge that in a truly multimedia environment of 2025, most Americans don’t need to understand more than a hundred or so words at a time, and certainly will never read anything approaching the length of an old-fashioned book. We need a frank reassessment of where long-form literacy itself lies in the spectrum of skills that a modern nation requires of its workers.
We’re not talking about complete illiteracy, which is most certainly not a good thing. Young people today, however, have plenty of literacy for everyday activities such as reading signs and package labels, and writing brief e-mails and text messages that don’t require accurate spelling or grammar.
Text labels also remain a useful way to navigate Web sites, although increasingly site design has evolved toward icons and audio prompts. Managers, in turn, have learned to use audio or video messaging as much as possible with workers, and to make sure that no text message ever contains more than one idea.
In 2025, when a worker actually needs to work with text, easy-to-use dictation, autoparsing and text-to-speech software allows him or her to create, edit and listen to documents without relying on extensive written skills. And any media analyst on Wall Street will confirm that the vast majority of Americans now consume virtually all of their entertainment and information through multimedia channels in which text is either optional or unnecessary.
In both the 19th and 20th centuries, the ability to read long texts was seen as an unquestioned social good. And back then, the prescription made sense: media technology was limited and in order to take part in both society and workplace, the ability to read books and long articles seemed essential. In 2025, higher-level literacy is probably necessary for only 10 percent of the American population.

It’s worth keeping in mind that reading itself is an inherently artificial human activity, an invention that in evolutionary terms has existed only for a blink of an eye. School districts have wasted billions of dollars in recent decades to correct “reading disabilities” when in fact there is no such thing as “reading ability” to start with. Reading is an artificial construct that is of high value for a very limited set human activities — but by no means all activities.
There is no question that reading is a desirable and often enjoyable skill to possess. In 2025, tens of millions of Americans continue to enjoy books and magazines as recreational pursuits, and this happy habit will undoubtedly remain part of the landscape for generations to come. But just as every citizen is not forcibly trained to enjoy classical music, neither should they be coerced into believing that reading is necessarily pleasurable. For the majority of students, reading and writing are difficult enterprises with limited payoffs in the modern world.
Some positions in society do require significant literacy skills: senior managers, screenwriters, scientists and others need a highly efficient way to absorb and communicate abstract thought. A broad written vocabulary and strong compositional skills are also powerful ways to organize and plan large enterprises, whether that means launching a new product, making a movie or creating legislation. But for the vast number of the workers who actually carry out those plans, the same skills are far less crucial. The nation’s leaders must be able to read; for those who follow, the ability should be strictly optional.
We have made at least two generations of American children miserable trying to teach them a skill that only a small percentage of them really need. And we have wasted billions of dollars that might well have gone for more practical education and training.
In 2025 it’s time to put reading into perspective for the remainder of the 21st century: it is a luxury, not a necessity!

Book abandonment vol. 2

Title of Book: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel

Author: Susanna Clarke

A. Total pages: 1006

B. Page reached:

Percent finished (divide B by A):

What was happening on the page where you stopped? Jonathan Strange begins moving some more roads in Belgium to delay Napoleon's army from getting reinforcements.

How long did you try to read the book? Two weeks and change.

Reason(s) for abandoning: At first I found the book absolutely delightful and could hardly be dragged from it. I called it "Harry Potter for adults." But gradually, as the war with Napoleon dragged on, the premise of an alternative history of English magic stopped being enough for me, and I became restless and disappointed. Yes, it was a great idea, but I found it wasn't a thousand-page idea. Instead of looking forward to picking it up, I came to dread it. And the characters, though interesting, began to feel like exercises. I felt the author was having too easy of a time. And the characters didn't seem to have enough at stake. Which sounds strange, I know, given that they are helping England defeat the French. But I found myself growing impatient at the arbitrary limits of the magicians' tricks, for example. Was moving roads and scaring troops with phantoms really all Strange could do? Why couldn't he remove the ground from underneath Napoleon's army? Why couldn't he surround the army with a wall, capturing them in an instant? Or make their guns not work? So this book of imagination began to fail in imaginative terms -- in going incredibly far, I found it didn't go far enough. Magic is a tough thing to manage in fiction.

Have you abandoned a book by this author before? Nope.

For the same reasons? N/A

Have you finished a book by this author before? Nope.

Is there anything that would get you to finish the book? I suppose if someone could convince me that it's all worth it, that my qualms would end up satisfied, that the author overcomes the problem I describe.

Is there another book you're planning to read instead? Yes, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. I was actually 50 pages into that when I picked up Jonathan Strange. Then Swann's Way.

Do you think you'll ever try again and finish the book? I don't think so.


Things are gonna change, I can feel it ...

I won a record from CultureBully! And, as part of my prize, I did say I would tell all my friends (and lurkers, trolls, harpies, enemies, haters, playa-haters, hater-haters, hippies, dippies, voicers of the oppressed, fondlers of the repressed, etc. and so forth).

This is the first thing I've won since the church Easter Egg Hunt when I was 7 -- no joke -- it was a special egg with a ticket for an enormous chocolate bunny. I can actually still visualize swiping the egg mere inches away from my elementary school crush's hand (Britta -- I showed my ardor by throwing pine cones at her whenever possible -- it didn't work as well as one would think -- but I did give her the bunny's head. She graduated high school a year early and married some college dude -- sigh).

So, there it is --

All Hail CultureBully!


Authors Fought the Law, and the Law...

Pamuk's problems with the government are well known, but now Elif Shafak is facing trial in Turkey. This is decidedly not cool. My question: what are the notable examples of authors going before courts in America for their fiction? Ulysses is probably a good place to start. Sayeth Judge Woolsely in 1933:

"If the conclusion is that the book is pornographic that is the end of the inquiry... But in 'Ulysses,' in spite of its unusual frankness, I do not detect anywhere the leer of the sensualist. I hold, therefore, that it is not pornographic."

He also noted that "'Ulysses' is not an easy book to read or understand" and that we should remember that "the characters are Celtic and the time is Spring." Fair.

Has anyone read Shafak? I have not.

As for Pamuk, if you haven't read Snow, you probably should because it's awesome.


Our Offensive Blogosphere

A list of things posted at a site that has pictures of cats that look like Hitler:

How can you possibly endorse or support facist racism? dont you know your history? it's people like you who oppressed and killed my people. do you think your that much better than us? your trying to make hitler and natzism look cute - by asociating small, adorable cats with their hatred. its NOT cute not NOT funny and i am offended. I told my grandfather who spent time at the Warstein concentration camp and he almost cried. i expect an apology!
- Moses Finklestein

This is probably the worst website I have ever seen!! Why on earth is this entertaining!? The pictures are of the same dam cat! Next thing it will be birth marks that resemble countries or celebrities!!! GET A LIFE!!!
- anonymous

Get a job!
- anonymous

I feel for the first time in my life that I have no sense of humour: no cat deserves any connection with Hitler. (am not Jewish, but would quite like to be, but I do really like cats)
- Alison

yo dude your site is kinda gay, no offence butthe catrs dont look enough like hitler, i saw one where the cat is in anazi uniform, more of those cuz thats funny, the rest is kinda gay
- Evan

I think u should die u stupid geek that is so mean to the cats its not funny its just plain mean I feel so sorry for the cats close this site down or die
- Dominic from Philip Morant School in Essex

I myself think this site is a disgrace.:( Hitler killed everything living thing there was and he would kill these cute cats if he was still here. Thank you.
- Rockell

You guys are horrible! You should be ashamed of yourselves! This siteis completely vile. What do you think gives you the right to make funof one of the world's greatest strategist in the history of time (asidefrom the right to free speech, don't give me that jargin, though, asmuch as I contradicted myself). I hope you all fall into a chamberthat's possibly filled with gas!!
- Barney

I'd like to think that I am a pretty open person with a fairly crude sense
of humor but I find your website really offensive. I don't think anything
about Hitler is funny and I think I am speaking on behalf of the MILLIONS of
Jews that he tortured and killed (some of which were my family).

- Corina


This is Why My Corpse Will be Wearing a Chastity Belt -- Because Once My Picture Gets Out ...


SEPTEMBER 6--When Nicholas Grunke last week spotted a newspaper photo of Laura Tennessen, the Wisconsin man apparently became so smitten that he plotted a rendezvous with the 20-year-old woman. But the photo Grunke saw accompanied an August 29 obituary of Tennessen, who died in a motorcycle accident. Undeterred, Grunke allegedly plotted with his twin brother Alex and a friend, 20-year-old Dustin Radke, to rob Tennessen's grave so that he could have sex with her corpse. Details of the trio's degenerate scheme are contained in a criminal complaint filed yesterday in Grant County Circuit Court. A copy of the document can be found here. In a police interview, Radke said that he and the Grunke brothers stopped at a Wal-Mart to buy condoms on their way to the cemetery. The necrophilia plot was disrupted Saturday night when police received a report of a suspicious vehicle near St. Charles Cemetery in Cassville, where Tennessen is buried. When confronted by a cop, an "very nervous" Alex Grunke admitted to the grave robbing scheme, noting that his cohorts were then digging up Tennessen's coffin. When police arrived at the gravesite, Nicholas Grunke and Radke were gone, though cops noticed that a hole had been dug down to the concrete vault encasing the woman's coffin, according to the complaint. Nicholas Grunke and Radke were later arrested while walking about eight miles from the cemetery. The men are each facing sexual assault and theft charges that could land them in prison for more than five years. Though bail has been set at $1000 apiece for the Grunke brothers and $1500 for Radke, the men remain in custody at the Grant County Jail, where the below mug shots were snapped.


The Erotic Adventures of Allen Ruskin, Headmaster of Educational Aid

Allen Ruskin sat behind his very large mahogany desk admiring his new Dutch Indies clock on the far wall. Suddenly, there was a knock on his office door.

"Come in!" he yelled manfully.

"Hi. My name is Dottie Gale, and I'm a first year student here. I'm a little frightened of the bar."

Ruskin, the scandalously salacious solicitor, stared Dottie up and down. Women were new to the school, and Beacon Hill and the citizenry were enraged at the school's labial legal experiment. For his part, Ruskin was thrilled. A new century would be dawning soon, full of steamships and spacecraft and talking monkey helpers, and it was best to keep with the times. Ruskin thought of himself as both a liberal and a spiritualist, and all signs pointed to women's eventual entry into the legal profession, whether as secretary, helper-girl, or keeper of the talking helper-monkey. Plus, Ruskin was tired of looking at boys all the time.

Dottie was an exquisite creature -- with full pneumatic breasts and a neck so swan-like he expected her to sprout feathers. Her numinous blue eyes shimmered in the light from the oil lamp. Her skin was as white as morning snow before the dogs got into it. "Please. Sit down, Miss Gale. Now what scares you about the bar?" queried Ruskin, unctuously undressing her with his uncooth eyes as she unburdened herself.

"I've heard the bar is very hard," said Dottie.

"It is indeed. But a bar's hardness should not make you fear it," answered Ruskin, twirling the end of his waxed mustache.

"Well, I am very frightened all the same."

"Maybe you need some practice with a hard bar to help you relax." Ruskin stood up and sat on the front of his mahogony desk, pulling up his pants a little to show the splendid way his masculine ankles filled out the Chinese silk of his dress socks. He heard Dottie's breath catch in her throat like a fish on a reel. "Come here. Sit on the desk next to me." He patted the desk with his fine, Zeus-like flipper.

Dottie did as she was told. "I'm not sure about this, Headmaster Ruskin."

"I think first we need to get you out of this too-tight corset." Ruskin's deleterious digits unloosed the first button. Then his heinous hand moved down to the next.

"Oh my," swooned the darling Dottie, dribbling down into delirium. Ruskin's fingers touched the tip of her neck, and the darts of desire drove deep into Dottie's diaphanous dressing gown. "Oh my, Headmaster Ruskin."

"Call me Al."

Just then, there was a thunderous tattoo on the office door.

"Oh my!" exclaimed Dottie.

Ruskin sat up and glared at the door. "What in the Sam Hell is that?" bellowed the love-bloated blowhard.

"It's Biff, the scrivener repairman! I've come to sharpen your quills!" rang a strong, manly voice.

"I bet he has!" leered Ruskin, the lecherous lothario.

"Whatever shall we do?" asked delectable Dottie as she dangled her draping decolletage in front of her dastardly deflowerer.

There was a long moment of painful, delicious waiting, as the two sat on the mahogony desk, the throbbing of its African heritage thundering just below their loins. They could feel the ghosts of the Serengeti -- elephants tearing apart trees, lions tearing apart elephants, great herds of zebras thundering, thundering, dust kicking up in clouds behind their booming equine hooves, the sun low, the native women topless and dancing to the Amazonian drums of Gaia's desire. The room seemed filled with the fetid mists of fecundity -- of the time before time -- or possibly even a little before that. Dottie trembled. Ruskin leered.

"Come in!" they sang together.

*** What's next for the bawdy Boston barrister and bestial brephotrophi? Find out next week!


More Fall Events

This from the Workshop web site:

Reading Schedule - FALL 2006

Tuesday, September 12
Zadie Smith (interviewed by Robert Hass) Fiction
7:30 p.m. Englert Theater
(University Lecture Committee)

Thursday, September 21
T. C. Boyle Fiction
7:30 p.m. 2nd Floor Ballroom, IMU
(UI Center for Human Rights)

And a bunch of other people coming this fall, including Nell Freudenberger, Denis Johnson, Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, Jane Hamilton, Francine Prose, and Frank McCourt, among many others. (Maybe I'll be able to revist our 'oh, shit' punctuation conversation from August 2003!)

Iowa City Arts: September

Grendel has asked me to join you blogging lot and I accepted willingly. At the beginning of each month, I'll post a list of events that grab my eye or pique my interest or shine my shoes--pick your metaphor. Mostly, I'll be pulling from here, here, and here. It's not like I possess some magic divining radar that tells me what's coming up the rest of you couldn't gather on your own. In fact, many of you are far more plugged-in to the university, especially, than I am. It just seems like it would be good to have a placeholder, a one-stop shop for upcoming events in Iowa City.

September Lectures
  • Friday, 9.1.06, 4 p.m - Marilynne Robinson, "Beauty." 4 p.m. in the newly completed Frank Conroy Reading Room, the Dey House. This is part of the Writers' Workshop Lecture Series begun last year. If past lectures are any indication, you might want to get to this one early.
  • Friday, 9.8.06, noon, - Ken Bugul from Senegal, Manju Sarkar from Bangladesh and Jagath Kumarasinghe from Sri Lanka, all writers in the International Writing Program, will sit on a panel at the Iowa City Pubic Library titled "Islam and We." Press release here. Check here for regular IWP lectures, readings, and presentations at the ICPL. (Note: there's some discrepancies in dates between the press release and the IWP events page. Contact the ICPL for accurate info.)
  • Thursday, 9.14.06, 5 p.m. - David Carrier, art critic and historian, Room 116, Art Building West on the UI campus.
September Movies
  • Thursday, 9.7.06, 7:30 - A screening of The Phantom of the Opera will be accompanied by the Alloy Ochrestra in Hancher Auditorium. $28-proceeds to benefit the Bijou Theater, a worthy cause. Follow the link for ticket info.
  • Friday, 9.9, through Wednesday, 9.13 - Sydney Pollack's documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry; Russian Dolls, the sequel to L'Auberge Espagnole; and rocker Nick Cave's writing/directing debut The Proposition. Links for showtimes.
  • Friday, 9.15, through Thursday, 9.21, - Taiwanese drama Three Times, Ed Norton and Evan Rachel Wood in Down in the Valley. Links for showtimes.
  • Friday, 9.22, through Thursday, 9.28 - Get your outrage on: The War Tapes and Road to Guantanamo. Also showing that week as part of the Classics series, Graham Greene's Fallen Idol. Link to pdf for showtimes and descriptions.
September Readings (all at Prairie Lights unless otherwise indicated)
This list is by no means comprehensive. Just what I found particularly interesting and noteworthy. There are more readers than this at Prairie Lights in September. The full list can be found here. Scroll down into October for a couple surprises at the end of the month.

Hit up the comments for anything I've missed. See you back here October 1. Until then, I'm over at Creekside Review. Stop by.

South Coast Journal, September 1

WASHINGTON -- President Bush announced today that China has agreed to cede over the majority of its eastern territory to be incorporated into the new, free, strip-tease-loving county of Exxotexabeepeeaville.

"This is a great day for freedom, and a great day for America! Through diplomacy, we have avoided escalating the striptease crisis into a war," said President Bush.

Government insiders report that a temporary government and drilling equipment are already on their way to the region.

Pastiegate, as the crisis has been referred to in the media, began when China started a policy of cracking down on traditional striptease at Chinese funerals.

Economists saw in today’s announcement more reasons for the Federal Reserve to leave short-term interest rates unchanged again when its policy committee meets on Sept. 20.

“With the new creation of the oil-rich land of Exxotexabeepeeaville, there is no reason to suspect that the Fed will do anything other than keep rates on hold at 5.25 percent again,” wrote Paul Ashworth, senior United States economist for Capital Economics.

The President was clearly thrilled with the announcement. "When I called the King of China yesterday, I said, "This is George -- we need to do something about striptease! He agreed. And we reached an agreement. This is about the freedom to be free and free your boobies or the boobies of those you love as you see fit. Laura, get over here!" said the President during his press conference.

The Chinese Ambassador had little comment. "Wait. Who called? I did what now?"

President Bush said, "This was not about economics! This is not about oil! This is not about my friends and their wonderful, wonderful mutual funds and yachts full of drugs and girls. This is about the right of even godless bastards like the Chinese to send off their dead as they see fit, as long as it is done heterosexually and in a Christian manner!"

Stocks gained on the news, with prices moving up slightly in early trading today.