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February 4, 2008

How to get people to buy your poetry book


Okay, the really hard part's over, to wit: your book's been published.

It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle* than to get a book published (apart from self-publishing, which would seem obvious and unnecessary to state explicitly, except I've learned that it's not) by a commercial house.

But poetry?

How about a camel cubed?

Really nearly impossible.

And yet.

Poetry continues to be published.

But don't quit your day job just yet unless you've already won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, 'cause it's not like the cash register holding your royalties is gonna be overflowing.

What to do?

Well, chances are you've got a lot of free time.

It comes with the poetic imagination.

So slum it a little and write a review for the New York Times Book Review.

Under the first column you'll get your name in boldface italics, following which, in non-boldface italics, there'll be a sentence saying what you do (ostensibly) and giving the title of your most recent book.

Tell you what: I buy on average a book a week in just this fashion.

Just yesterday I purchased Dana Goodyear's "Honey and Junk" after reading a review by her.


February 4, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Recording The Beatles'


cliftyt wrote, "If you ever have $100 burning a hole in your pocket, check out 'Recording The Beatles.'"

February 4, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cellphone Reads Print — Aloud


Can yours do that?

Didn't think so.

Cecilia Kang's story in today's Washington Post Business section features Ray Kuzweil's latest innovation — a cellphone for the blind.

Long story short: It takes a picture, processes the information through its software, then — in a robotic, monotone voice — tells you what it sees.

Here's the article.

    Latest Cellphone Feature: Reading Aloud

    Without help, Marc Maurer, who is blind, cannot distinguish between bottles of Tylenol and Vitamin C or tell if he's handing a cashier a $20 bill or $1 bill. Four years ago, he signed for what he thought was a $44 hotel room bill that was charged to his credit card for $44,000.

    So when inventor Ray Kurzweil approached the National Federation of the Blind two years ago to create a cellphone that reads print, Maurer, a Maryland lawyer and the organization's president, jumped at the technology.

    Last week, K-NFB Reading Technology — a joint venture between the Baltimore federation and Kurzweil's research and development firm — unveiled its cellphone reader at the Holiday Inn Capital in the District.

    "People are panting after this product," said Maurer, who consulted Kurzweil's developers on the most important applications needed by the blind. "It's a form of vision you can hold in your hands."

    During the presentation, Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, held a cellphone that contained the reading software over a $20 bill and snapped a picture [top].

    In a robotic monotone voice, the reader said, "Detecting orientation, processing U.S. currency image." After a few seconds, the voice said: "20 dollars," prompting cheers from the audience.

    The reader software will be sold for $1,595, starting Feb. 15, Maurer said. The market for the technology is 1.3 million blind consumers and 10 million people with impaired vision in the United States, according to the federation.

    For now, the reader technology can only be used for dark printed letters and numbers on lighter backgrounds. The federation and Kurzweil hope to broaden its use to include other images, such as animals and human faces.

    Maurer is happy to be able to do things that he could never do before without help.

    "I can read a menu. I can tell the difference between shampoo and mouthwash," he said. "May not sound like a big deal, but it makes a big difference to do these things."

February 4, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

FrameMyTV.com — 'Conceal your TV as a mirror!'


Look at the photo above.

What do you see?

It's your TV, silly billy, up over the fireplace.

What, you thought it was a mirror?


Get with the program.

$650–$1,179, depending on size (32"–61").

February 4, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

February 4, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Lighted Full-Page Magnifier


The instant I saw this I was entranced — not because I'd use it for the purpose intended but, rather, because it seems to me to offer a superb platform for hacks wonderful and unknown.

From the website:

    Lighted Full-Page Magnifier

    Don't strain your eyes to read the "fine print"... magnify and illuminate the whole page at once

    Full-page magnifier lets you see a large area at once so it's easier to sew, read books, knit or scan through phone listings, newspaper articles, stock pages, maps and more.

    3-1/2-power plastic magnifier lens stands on four legs above your reading material or project (it's "hands-free"), or can hang from around your neck.

    Includes four LED bulbs to illuminate your view.

    Requires two AAA batteries (not included).

    11-1/2" x 7-3/4" x 4-1/4" tall.


February 4, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'He's not interested... unless he's making a gesture that he's never made before'


Cutting-edge British theatre director James Macdonald speaking about playwright Peter Handke, whose 1992 play "The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other" — 90 minutes of wordless action on stage with no spoken lines, with 450 actors passing wordlessly through a town square — begins previews at London's National Theatre this coming Wednesday, February 6, 2008.

Here's Sarah Hemming's February 2, 2008 Financial Times story about how Handke came to create the piece.

    Rendered speechless

    There is one certainty for everyone attending the National Theatre’s new production of The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other: none of the cast will forget their lines. That’s not because the actors in question are peculiarly infallible. It’s because there are no lines.

    Peter Handke’s experimental drama offers 90 minutes of wordless action on stage; 450 characters pass through a town square, but not one of them speaks. There is a script, but it consists of 30 pages of intricate instructions from the Austrian playwright (translated by Meredith Oakes) about the way the figures behave as they traverse the space. “It’s like the world’s longest stage direction, really,” says James Macdonald, who is directing this, the UK’s first professional production of the 1992 play.

    No line-learning, then. And Macdonald reports that in the early stages of rehearsal, his 27 actors were going home feeling “rather guilty” that they didn’t have enough work to do. But, he adds, they each have a vast array of characters to present. This calls for lightning changes in mindset, gait and costume. “Line anxiety quickly gets replaced by costume anxiety,” he observes. The piece, written by one of Europe’s most experimental and provocative playwrights (Handke recently attracted controversy over his views on the war in former Yugoslavia), has “made everybody work on it differently to the way you normally work on a play”, says Macdonald. “So: 450 costumes, hundreds of props, 27 actors, no fixed casting at the beginning of rehearsals. It’s a backstage maelstrom at the moment.”

    In essence, the play turns people-watching into a poignant study of urban life. Characters scurry, slope or stumble across the space, absorbed in their own dilemmas.

    “Handke has said that this play was something he had wanted to write for about 15 years,” explains Macdonald. “Then he had an experience in a town square, where he sat all afternoon, just watching people. At the end of the afternoon a hearse pulled up and some people took a coffin out of a building. And he was very struck by the people who were crossing after the coffin had gone, who knew nothing about what had just happened.

    “I think initially as a spectator you are looking for rules, in the way that you always are when you watch any piece. But quite quickly it becomes mesmeric: you watch as one person follows another and changes the meaning of the one that has gone before. This is the compositional technique.”

    The articulation of human experience in language is, of course, one of the core attractions of great drama. But Handke, suggests Macdonald, makes you look at the moments that don’t and can’t reach articulation. There are exchanges between characters, but they are outside of language.

    “He’s the great experimenter of European theatre. He’s always had a mistrust of language, which is partly a postwar German thing: [he belonged to] that generation that felt they were lied to and didn’t believe in language and were looking for ways to circumvent it ... He started by questioning everything about theatre [Handke’s earliest play was the controversial 1966 Offending the Audience]. Now he’s moved beyond that to how we perceive the world.”

    Macdonald visited the playwright, now 65, in Paris, to discuss the new production. He recalls asking Handke why he had chosen to live in a particular suburb of Paris. “He said, ‘Do you see that wood over there? I can go in there and walk for an hour and a half and meet no one.’ He’s quite a solitary figure — walking is his big thing and he thinks you don’t seriously know a place unless you not only walk through it, but walk to it.”

    This disquiet over the dislocation between people and their surroundings informs The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other. The play gives us a distilled version of contemporary life: people hurry on through, often oblivious to those around them. Indeed, in the 16 years since the play was written, that insularity has only increased; now people pass through the world plugged into their gadgets. “The play makes you more observant of other people,” says Macdonald. “That’s what it’s done to me and to the actors working on it. It just wakes you up to the world that you normally pass through.”

    Macdonald has an impressive record with cutting-edge drama. His most recent London production was a scintillating West End revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, but he has also directed some of Britain’s most radical contemporary playwrights: Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane and Caryl Churchill. He has worked in Germany, where he says there has been a “culture of deconstruction” in the theatre since the 1960s. “Again, I think it’s to do with their postwar history – a sort of mistrust of story and mistrust of language ... People will go to the theatre to be challenged, provoked, argued with.” Despite his quiet, courteous demeanour, Macdonald seems at ease with demanding texts. He directed the premiere of Blasted, Kane’s controversial first play, and 4:48 Psychosis, her haunting final work – which offered the opposite challenge to Handke’s text, as it consisted solely of dialogue, with no stage directions or even clues as to how to assign the lines.

    “The rules are the same as for any play, it’s just the premise is a bit more extreme,” he says of 4:48 Psychosis. “But one works in the same way of discovering what the internal logic of the text is. So everything we ended up doing in Psychosis was derived from the play and built up really slowly in layers. And this [Handke’s text] has been the same in some ways – where all you have is a simple line of text or action, you really have to go through all the options that anyone can come up with and discover which ones seem to have more value.” It cannot be easy, I suggest, for Handke to keep on challenging convention. “He works hard at it,” says Macdonald. “He’s not interested in putting anything out there unless he’s making a gesture that he’s never made before. He has a huge mistrust of generality, so for him the only truth is in detail. And this play is a kind of apogee of that.”

February 4, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Hear Muffs' — Von Zipper Headphone Earmuff Goggles


Lauren Lipton, reviewing them in the February 1, 2008 Wall Street Journal, wrote, "Insane-looking combination of sports goggles and fluffy earmuffs was quite comfortable and the sound was great."

She continued, "They obviously can't be worn on the street."

Obviously, Ms. Lipton doesn't live on my street.

But I digress.

From a website:

    Von Zipper Feenom Goggles with Headphone Earmuffs

    Wear the Von Zipper Feenom Goggles with Headphone Earmuffs for optimum audio and visual quality when you're taking laps through the park.

    A spherical lens gives you wide peripheral vision while forward venting prevents fog so you can see someone who's about to cut you off.

    If you have a medium to large-sized face, these goggles' articulated helmet hinge and contoured face foam helps prevent gaper gap.

    The large fluffy earmuff headphones stay in place on the Feenom's strap to ensure that you will be rocking out all day instead of fixing earbuds like the rest of your friends.




February 4, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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