las vegas

I am flying to Las Vegas tomorrow morning to go to the Clark County Library and read poetry. I love the idea of flying to Vegas to go to the library. I wonder if the library will have video poker. Anyhow, I am going to bring my pda and keyboard and will try and write a bit about my journey, traveling fascinates me. This book is an interesting account of travel way back when folks walked or rode carts made of wood, axles greased with olive oil…

Book Selling

I have a publisher, Zeitgeist Press, that is small and has not the resources a huge publishing house might have, but they have the freedom to publish work that they like, not just work they think can sell a boatload of copies. Because they cannot send me a $10,000 advance and put me on the John Stewart show, I have to do some of the work if I want my book to sell. And I do want to sell copies of my book, as well as copies of any other books I might write in the future. In the traditional publishing model, or at least the most recently dominant model, I would try to parlay the reputation gained early in my career, via small but prestigious presses, into a contract with a larger publisher. This larger publisher would then print and distribute my later books, set up publicity campaigns, and so forth; in return, I would get a small percentage of the profits of each sale, called a royalty, as well as positions on the boards of poetry journals, increased reading fees, and so forth. The internet, however, has made the exchange of media so easy that this old model is dieing (thankfully). A number of new models have cropped up, most being variations on marketing models that predated the big publisher model, and these new models allow for greater author control over their work and a much larger share of the profits for the author as well, but lack the resources large publishing houses can muster. For example, large publishing houses can offer a dedicated editor to help shape a written work; because it is so easy to make one’s book available as a pdf, say, or via print-on-demand publishing, a lot of not-so-polished work is offered to the reading public using these forms of distribution, and a lot of just plain shitty work, too. So, finding excellent writing is harder under these new distribution models, the argument goes, because there is so much more crap to wade through. Of course, much of what was published under the old model–most of what was published, perhaps–was also crap, albeit crap polished to a high gloss, and finding alternatives to the shiny turds offered by big publishers was much harder. The biggest problem a new author faces under new models, like the street performer protocol, is gaining enough name recognition, enough core readership, to make releasing further works economically feasible.

Most of these new marketing models have risen up around music and software production, I’m not sure how many authors have tried this with written work. I know that strayform, for example, has a text area, and my own book, and eventually podcasts of readings, will be available as Creative Commons copyrighted material, but I need to spend the next few days trying to find out what other resources exist. I will post what I find.

Right Out Out Of Greek Tragedy

Though I feel bad for his wife, and even a bit for the man himself, I can’t help but feel a little giddy about the whole Spitzer fiasco. The epic rise and fall, the ridiculously obvious hypocrisy of an ethics reformer with an immoral habit; it couldn’t be better scripted. People who study the brain and how we pay attention to things often analyze how we separate foreground and background, and one way to make people focus and respond to something in the visual field is to have a stark contrast between an object in the foreground and those in the background. Same with sound, I would think, and smell and in fact all our sensory tools. The Spitzer case is intriguing because, like in Greek tragedy, the central character has a tragic flaw, a characteristic that creates an almost grotesque set of contrasts within the character, a set of contrasts that make observers both entranced and confused, since most of us will feel a need to try and resolve the contradictions: how could he think he would not get caught? Which leads, again to Greek tragedy: just as Oedipus had no choice, his fate was sealed, how much of Spitzer’s activity was the result of conscious choice? Of free will? And how much was compulsion… Roy Baumeister recently addressed the question of various stages of free will in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science; that journal is a behind a firewall, but this quote from the abstract provides a glimpse:

 “Human evolution seems to have created a relatively new, more complex form of action control that corresponds to popular notions of free will. It is marked by self-control and rational choice, both of which are highly adaptive, especially for functioning within culture. The processes that create these forms of free will may be biologically costly and therefore are only used occasionally, so that people are likely to remain only incompletely self-disciplined, virtuous, and rational.”

Baumeister, Roy F. “Free Will in Scientific Psychology.”Perspectives on Psychological Science 3 (1), 14-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2008.00057.x

So much music…

I take comfort in the fact that I have more books than I could ever read, that more recorded music exists than I could ever listen to, but somehow that fact makes me rather sad at the same time. No wonder I’ve watched the internet blossom with a mixture of delight and apprehension. Weirdo music is a portal site that links to folks who rescue out of print albums and convert them to digital formats.

Gored Gored

Ashley and I moved to Lockport, NY from Atlanta, GA in Sept of 2007, and one of the few amenities I really miss is the number and diversity of restaurants. In Lockport, Americanized Italian food is considered “ethnic,” though we do, oddly enough, have 2 Jamaican restaurants. Buffalo has some restaurants to explore, but they do not, as far as I can tell, have an Ethiopian restaurant, which is one of my favorite kinds of cuisine, right up there with Vietnamese, Brazilian, Japanese, and Cajun/Creole. There is one in Rochester, but that’s an hour and a half away, so I can’t go that often.

So–I must learn to make Ethiopian food myself. Today I made niter kibbeh, a kind of spiced butter, and berebere, a spice blend not unlike some southern Indian curries, in preparation for making Gored Gored on Monday. I will have to make injera as well, of course, but teff flour is very hard to come by–I had to order it from this farm–and I really want some raw meat marinated in butter, so I will try a fakey version of injera  that uses whole wheat flour and yogurt to simulate teff and the sourdough starter while I wait for the teff to arrive. 

 I promise to post pictures.

Sister Corita’s Rules

From Michal Migurski’s blog,

some good advice. A few of them remind me a bit of Eno and Shmidt’s Oblique Strategies :


immaculate heart college art department rules

This (by Sister Corita Kent) was worth retyping:

  1. Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.
  2. General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher, pull everything out of your fellow students.
  3. General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students.
  4. Consider everything an experiment.
  5. Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
  6. Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.
  7. The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch on to things.
  8. Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. They’re different processes.
  9. Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
  10. “We’re breaking all of the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” – John Cage.

Helpful hints: Always be around. Come or go to everything always. Go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully often. Save everything, it might come in handy later.

There should be new rules next week.

Ok, one more time….

The last CMS I tried just went blank one day, and no help on their forum, so… I really only need blogging interface and linking at this point. I would like to put my book here for free download, CC copyright, but that is future tense.