Andrew Willett, at it again.

Category: misc. Page 2 of 54

So very, very misc.

They’ll Need Something Snappier for the Movie Version

A Collection Of Voyages And Travels, Consisting Of Authentic Writers In Our Own Tongue, Which Have Not Before Been Collected In English, Or Have Only Been Abridged In Other Collections. And Continued With Others Of Note, That Have Published Histories, Voyages, Travels, Journals Or Discoveries In Other Nations And Languages, Relating To Any Part Of The Continent Of Asia, Africa, America, Europe, Or The Islands Thereof, From The Earliest Account To The Present Time. Digested According To The Parts Of The World, To Which They Particularly Relate: With Historical Introductions To Each Account, Where Thought Necessary, Containing Either The Lives Of Their Authors Or What Else Could Be Discovered And Was Supposed Capable Of Entertaining And Informing The Curious Reader. And With Great Variety Of Cuts, Prospects, Ruins, Maps, And Charts. Compiled From The Curious And Valuable Library Of The Late Earl Of Oxford. Interspersed And Illustrated With Notes, Containing, Either A General Account Of The Discovery Of Those Countries, Or An Abstract Of Their Histories, Government, Trade, Religion, &c. Collected From Original Papers, Letters, Charters, Letters Patents, Acts Of Parliament, &c. Not To Be Met With, And Proper To Explain Many Obscure Passages In Other Collections Of This Kind

Thomas Osborne, editor. London: 1745. First edition currently available from Charles Agvent, bookseller.

Andrew Is Easily Amused, Example No. 31,287

It may astonish you, gentle reader, to hear that jobs are not thick upon the ground at present. To facilitate my networking, which I am doing nigh unto my own demise, I think it would behoove me to have some sort of distributable premium. A card, perhaps, with my name and contact information — one that fits easily into a wallet or a vest pocket. I hear those are good.

I should probably include a line just below my name that describes what I do and thereby jogs the memory of the recipients when they draw it from their pockets and wallets and whatnot. The obvious text would be something like —WRITER • EDITOR,— of course, but I am this close to going with —SUPER GENIUS— instead. Because what says professional competence better than a reference to a 58-year-old Warner Brothers cartoon?

To wit, Operation: Rabbit, 1952. Yes, the card the coyote presents at the start of the picture just says “Genius,” but this line is a deathless classic of Western drama, and I defy you to say otherwise.

Plus, Bugs’s take to the camera at 0:17 is Chuck Jones at his best.

Notes On Paradise

I regret to inform you, dear friends, that I will not be able to make it to Boskone this year. After more waffling than I can now comprehend, I chose Option B instead.

We’re in Vieques, Puerto Rico, staying with friends in their house high atop the hill. From the table where we eat breakfast on the patio you can see both the Caribbean and the Atlantic, each of them that stunning shade of blue that you never believe when you see it in photographs. It has been sunny and breezy all week and I have acquired a suntan in February. In February! Word on the street is that there has been some sort of cold-weather event back in the States; I guess we’ll find out upon our return late tomorrow night.

There is a great deal of good food to be eaten in Vieques, from schmancy multicourse meals to here-I-just-pulled-this-little-banana-off-the-tree. I have put a sizable dent in it.

Last night we went to Puerto Mosquito1, said to be the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world. It was — well, heck. It was a warm, tranquil body of water that glowed when you swam in it. I drifted along, watching my arm hairs twinkle and my feet generating swirling plumes of ghostly blue light, beneath a sky crammed with stars (and Mars, presently in Cancer2). When the tour group returned to its kayaks and paddled back into the shallows, we startled a huge school of shrimp, which shot off in all directions through the water like bottle rockets. So it was pretty freaking awesome. Thank you kindly, Pyrodinium bahamense.

The thing I am likely to remember most about Vieques, though, is not the luminous water or the shining stars; it is not the hours spent doing blissful nothing by the pool. It is the damned roosters.

There are a lot of chickens on this little island, particularly among the households that live outside the urban(ish) concentrations. And they make a lot of noise. Suburban boy that I am, I had always thought of roosters as making noise at sunrise. You know, like in the movies: they sleep at night, they get up with the sun, they do their cock-a-doodle-doo sun-salutation thing for a couple minutes, then they go about their business. This turns out to be a lie. Roosters in Vieques, PR produce their roostery chorus twenty-four seven. Sometimes, like now, it’s almost subliminal, rising gently from the countryside in a gentle call and response. Other times, it gets a little more raucous: the first time I heard it, I would have been willing to believe that a bunch of local 9-year-olds were just down the hill somewhere and had decided that you know what would be really fun? To impersonate roosters, really loudly, and to go on and on for a good 20 minutes. Or what the heck, maybe for an hour. And other times they ratchet the racket all the way up to 11. No, to 12. Or maybe 14. Seriously, at about 3 Tuesday morning it was like the Roosterocalypse, like every damn bird on the island was crowing its lungs out within 20 yards of the house. Maybe atmospheric conditions meant that the usual cacophony rose up from the lowlands particularly well; maybe every damn bird on the island was just under the window. I don’t know. But Don and I started to laugh despite that we’d just been awakened by roosters in the middle of the fucking night, because you would not believe how loud it was. And of course, once it gets that loud, the local dogs all start barking as well, and it takes a good while before the dust settles. So, yeah. Roosters. Who knew?

I have finished two cracking good books this week: Iain M. Banks’s Matter and Margaret Ronald’s Wild Hunt. Maggie was a classmate of mine at Viable Paradise3 and she’s hugely talented and funny besides and everyone should read her stuff. Go throw money at her.

Anyway, I’m headed back out to the pool now. The “big island” is visible again today, after a couple of days where it vanished in the haze — I’m told there was a volcanic eruption in Montserrat that is at least partially to blame — and I’m going to go stare at it for a while. Cheers.

1 They don’t call it that for nothing. The trip from the shore to the mooring buoy? Ay, dios mio. The bugs were as big as your head and vicious vicious vicious.

2 I have never been more thrilled with GoSkyWatch Planetarium than I have been this week. So very worth your $9.99.

3 Submissions for 2010 open now! Deadline June 30. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

Best Headline of the Century Arrives, and It’s Only 2010 2007

Somewhere out there is an anonymous editor who needs to come forward and claim his or her shiny new internet. Whomever you are, I salute you.

Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo

EDITED TO ADD: Okay, so we backdate the award to three years ago May. The general assertion stands.

RSS and Me (and You)

If anyone out there is using ANY of my RSS feeds, would you mind commenting on this post? Thanks.

This post will also serve as a test to see if Google Reader notices that the feed it seems to prefer (RSS 1.0, index.rdf) has started updating again. (My spring redesign broke it.)

UPDATED: Okay, Google Reader has figured it out at last, and I’ve also figured out why GR preferred the oldest of the three flavors I set up, way back when. I’m still curious to see who’s subscribed; I believe we will very soon be eliminating the RSS1.0 and Atom feeds, though, and going with a single standard. (Now that all readers seem to handle all standards equally well, there’s no reason to maintain multiple feeds.)

Today’s Hall & Oates Moment

From the fun-loving kids of Shorewood High School in Shorewood, MN WA: a reverse lip-dub of “You Make My Dreams Come True.” Which is to say, an amateur music video shot in a single take and involving a cast of thousands — and filmed backwards. I know, right?

This is the high school my niece and nephew will attend someday. Clearly, they will be in good hands. (Note to self: Research, then assertion. Oy.)

In Which I Enter the Dazzling World of Vampire Fiction

A while back my friend and teammate Julian Yeo, a jazz-singing accounting professor, asked me to write him a very short story. It’s a quick mood-setting thing for the liner notes of his new album, Deep Purple Dreams, about the character Julian used as a touchstone while recording and choosing songs for the record. The disc will be out in January, and you should check his stuff out — he’s got a lovely voice.

But if you want to read the story now, you can: it’s online as part of an interview with Julian at (It’s also on Julian’s site, but it’s locked up in a Flash lump and I can’t link to it from here.)


Dear Molly Lewis:

I’d never heard of you before Jonathan Coulton Twittered about this video this morning. And I don’t really have much of a file on Lady GaGa.

But I love you.

Lizard Lady Sings the Blues

Recently found in a pile in front of our building’s mailboxes: the new issue of the magazine Hybrid Mom. There was a smiling blonde on the cover, wearing a cute-yet-sensible pink long-sleeved T-shirt over a black sports bra. She stood on some random stretch of Pacific seashore and held a volleyball.

Of course I grabbed a copy as soon as I saw it, but I gotta say: what a disappointment. It appears that the hybridization in question is of cultural strains of female H. sapiens: (mom x office lady) or (mom x athlete), for instance. (mom x savvy internet user) seems to be another.

Whatever. I know for damn sure that I am not the only person who saw that cover and hoped it was a magazine for transgenic women. Imagine the features! “What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Incubate Your First Clutch of Eggs,” maybe, or “Menopause and Metamorphosis.” God, and the monthly romantic-advice column…. The mind boggles.

This is why publishing is going down the tubes, kids. Mark me well.

On the Crystalline and Complex Beauty of the World We Live In

I should really be in bed at this point, but instead I need to share this with everyone.

It started with the UN job: suddenly I had time to kill on the subway again, time enough to read or whatever. Back when I worked for the kids’ dotcom, I read books. When there were lots of trips to the offices of Major Publication, I read the New Yorker. But for whatever reason, with the UN job came a taste for podcasts. Lots of Dan Savage, at first, because who doesn’t like to listen to people talk about sex? Especially when it’s not only intelligent and unafraid of getting into the juicy and polymorphously perverse details but it’s also funny? And then there was Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, which was smart, funny people discussing recent news and politics and things. And these satisfied me fine for a while as I came down the West Side on the IRT and then across to Grand Central on the shuttle train and then walked the last few blocks to the General Assembly building and then came home again the same way only in reverse. But somewhere along the line I found out about Radiolab.

Radiolab is science. It is the awe-inspiring wonder of the universe. It is two funny, intelligent people talking about stuff that will blow your mind. In the most recent episode, “Parasites,” they talk about the zombie-cockroaches story that I remembered reading about a while back, and they talk about why the chestburster scene in Alien is such high-octane freakout material, and they talk about the theory that Toxoplasma gondii is responsible for “Cat Lady syndrome” and other behavioral changes in humans. And they talk about this guy who makes an extremely compelling argument that hookworms, whipworms, et al. coevolved with the human immune system and that infection by certain parasites seems to control autoimmune or autoimmune-related disorders (such as allergies, asthma, colitis, and freaking Crohn’s disease, for heaven’s sake) in a number of those who have voluntarily become hosts to the parasite.1

And then there was the episode a few months ago called “Stochasticity,” which was all about randomness. Worth listening to for the discussion of how biological function is some sort of weird-ass emergent property of the random noise of protein synthesis via RNA. I was on the bus when I heard that one. I just about jumped out of my seat and did a little dance.

If science is your thing — if you think that the universe is a cool place to live — you need to check out Radiolab. Especially if you write SF: Radiolab is a flowery field of fat, happy, fluffy plot bunnies. Seriously. Everywhere you look, there’s a cool idea, and then another.

That is all.

1 He went to Africa and infected himself with hookworm and his crippling allergies and asthma went away. Poof! He now sells squeaky-clean, bacteria-free “infect yourself with my hookworms” kits over the internet. At first I was horrified. And then I was transfixed by the idea. Now I can’t get it out of my head.

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