Category Archives: life

the great american novel and the internet

So, here we are, internet.

Brief pause to fangirl Jonathan Franzen, because, not only is The Corrections an amazing book– one I would very quickly nominate for Great American Novel, because, OMFG– but, until I saw him on the cover of Time, I sort of did not realize that he is ADORABLE.

What interests me most, though, is as I Try To Write Non-Academic Things, is his relationship with technology. It is Luddite at best, as this snippet from an interview makes clear:

AVC: A lot of writers—if they don’t use typewriters or write longhand—claim to only use computers without an Internet connection, because the distraction is too readily available, and no work gets done.

JF: Absolutely. I have one of those nine-pound Dell laptops you can get for $389 because nobody ended up buying that model, for obvious reasons. I took the wireless card out immediately, and I plugged up the Ethernet hole with superglue. The biggest struggle was getting Hearts and Solitaire off of it. I did work on a DOS machine until about five years ago. It ran WordPerfect 5.0, which is still the best software ever written for a writer, I think. But now, obviously, I work on a Windows machine, and Windows just will not let you de-install a Solitaire program. It puts it back whenever you try to remove it.

I am going to hazard a guess here that JF’s  disabling of the internet is no doubt part of the reason why he has written Great Important American Novels, whereas I can barely make it through a 400 word blog post without falling into internet rabbit holes so deep it’s a wonder I don’t end up in Pyongyang. Actually, just to digress, have you ever seen a picture of North Korea from space? It’s pitch black, hemmed in by the lights of South Korea and China. I don’t know why, but more than the military marches, more than the terrifyingly outmoded Communist regime, that darkness frightens me more than almost anything.

And since there are no traffic lights, of course, this is how they direct the flow of vehicles in Pyongyang–

Um, okay. So back to the matter at hand, which was– I cannot afford to purchase Freedom right now. My ass is broke, and even at twenty or thirty percent off, I so cannot afford a hardback. Which brings me to my next point — not “don’t smoke crack,” although that is sound advice, too. Possibly the only sound advice ever to emanate from an Adam Sandler movie, come to think of it — why are publishing houses even bothering to release hardbacks at all?

According to the Times, Kindle downloads outpace hardcover sales 143:100, a gap which I’m sure will only increase in the future. Stephen Fry just released his new autobiography (WANT!) in electronic and print formats, but the e-version is only available for Apple devices. That seems a bit Not On, if you ask me. Also, why the hell would you want to read an entire book on an iPhone?

All this is by way of saying: Franzen: amazing. Technology: a bitch.  Erin: violently broke. If you’re done with your copy of Freedom, will you lend it to me? Stellar.

You can view Ron Charles’ hilarious video review here, since HuffPo seems to hate embed codes. Whatevs.

You can read the whole interview here.


chicagoland, still

Despite loathing winter (whine, whine) and various other things that bug the everloving crap out of me, Chicago does have its moments. The cityscape being the obvious one, especially the gorgeous “corn cob” buildings of Marina City.*

Rather amusingly, they have been filming Transformers 3 downtown. While I don’t give a hoot and a half about the franchise, I do love that this is the sign they posted to alert pedestrians that a terrorist attack is not actually taking place. (Or, that they don’t need to play the favorite guessing game of Chicago residents: “Gunshots or Fireworks?”)

Here is a clip of some of the filming. To be honest, it did sound pretty damn scary from the street.

Still won’t see it, of course, unless it ends with Shia LaDouche getting kicked in the head. He seems atrocious.

*One of the greatest pleasures on earth, I am convinced, is listening to music while visiting the place it emerged from. Crimpshrine in the East Bay, the New York Dolls on the Lower East Side, Lyle Lovett in the Texas hill country, and so on, are all examples of this. I love nothing more than to go stare at these buildings while listening to Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, because, as the Watcher said, it feels like synchronicity  bordering on predestination.

pep talks (helen mirren)

I did have some vague intentions of making this a series, but, honestly, I kind of keep forgetting.

However, as the Fug Girls say, what I have an endless and profound love for is Helen, effing, Mirren. How great is she? How great does she seem? How not of an asshole does she appear to be? How delightful is it that her birth name is Illiana Lydia Petrovna Mirovna? How cute is her director husband? How does she manage to look amazing in a sari? How does she look better in a bikini NOW, at age SIXTY-FIVE, than I have ever managed, in my entire life?

I do not know the answers, friends and Twitterbots. But I do know that she is amazing. And a damn fine actor.

Helen Mirren in Elizabeth, speech to the troops at Tilbury

nope, sorry.

Have some pictures. Go on, have a bit.

Note: That wedding cake is made of cheese. Really. Really. Imagine having that outside in dripping sweaty Kentucky heat in fucking JULY.

maybe words will be forthcoming.

Maybe not.

Here, have some pictures.

pictures in place of words. (deal with it.)

What’s that, you say? No recipes? No rants about hideous footwear, oodles of which were on display this past week?* No brilliant observations about your interactions with AT&T customer service?**

Nope, sorry.

*Quick, what’s worse than tourists shuffling, sloth-like, down Michigan Avenue in the summer when all you need to do is run to Macy’s real quick and then get some Wow Bao on your way home? TOURISTS DURING FUCKING LOLAPALOOOOOOOOOZAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

**Apparently if you rant about shit customer service on Twitter, even without hashtags, you will eventually be found. This feels like the creepy insidiousness of the security state, on the one hand. On the other hand, the person tweeting at you may be a human, as opposed to the droning speaking Simple Text FUCK that you get over the phone? (“It sounded like you said, ‘repair.’ Please say ‘yes’ if this is correct.”)

Log of actual Twitter interaction:

@erin_pappas worst thing of all? AT&T customer service. worser: calling said customer service on behalf of neighbor. *STABS EVERYTHING*


@erin_pappas customer service “you’re calling from an 859 number for repair to a 773 number?” me: “it’s the 21st century, bitch. I HAVE A CELL PHONE.”

@ATTJohnathon: Can I help? I’m with AT&T and would like to help. Please follow and send a direct message with a contact number.

@erin_pappas @ATTJohnathon think it is dealt with, but thank you!!

@erin_pappas however, that was maybe just a wee bit weird. wonder if i rant about target being anti-gay they will send me a gift card

pic!spam part deux

Apologies, internet. I still loves ya. I am also tired of WORDS. Brilliant ideas (Freudian topography of the subconscious illustrated! With voices! Hilarious porn chat starring Judith Butler! Brilliant thing about female writers and somesuch!) going nowhere. So.

To the pictures!!