Stepan Chapman

Stepan Chapman died. I knew him only briefly and not very well. His novel, The Troika, was an amazing piece of wacky and thoughtful weirdness. I hadn’t seen him in several years. He had a starring role in the The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, a book put together by Jeff VanderMeer & Mark Roberts. Writers were asked to create a story built around a fake disease. I wrote a letter (as Dr. Wexler) to the fictional Dr. Lambshead begging him not to publish the Pocket Guide. Stepan incorporated my letter into the history of the Pocket Guide, treating Dr. Wexler as the villain, always stealing Dr. Lambshead’s research, etc. We did some readings together (I couldn’t see him, but was told that when I read my Dr. Wexler letter, he would make silly faces to the audience to mock me).

I’m at work, listening to “Sensorium” an episode from Flotsam Beach, a series of podcasts that Stepan did. I’ve only just discovered them. In which he reads from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, interwoven with a variety of sounds.

“In this sequel to Leeuwenhoek’s Lenses, Stepan reads more pages from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, in order to explore the sensory apparatus of the animal world.

Background choir of aquatic insect larvae provided by David Dunn. Zoological interlude music provided by Marc Hollander of France, Lars Hollmer of Sweden, Kimpereli of Switzerland, and Fred Frith of Britain.

Protoplasm. Did we discover it? Or did it discover us?

After a year of imaginary broadcasting, Flotsam Beach is still asking The Big Questions.”

The combination of his reading style and material, plus background music works to make listening to the program oddly stimulating and soothing. Plus, it’s nice to hear his voice.

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Guitar Trio (that isn’t always a trio)

I’ve only recently heard the music of Rhys Chatham, particularly his one-chord orchestra “Guitar Trio.” It’s an incredibly mesmerizing and satisfying piece. He performs it with varying ensembles. In 2007, he played different cities with different line-ups, with the results released as a 3-CD set, Guitar Trio Is My Life!. Here are a couple of versions of “Guitar Trio” from YouTube.

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Western Thing Finished

ContinentalOpFirst draft anyway. It ended up around 35,000 words, about 10,000 more than I thought it would. Maybe there’s a bunch of crap to cut, or maybe I’ll add enough to get it up to 40,000 (which is officially a novel).

The title, for now, is The Silverberg Business. Which is purposely Dashiell Hammett-ish.

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P&C Out of Print

It appears that the cheaper edition of The Painting and the City is out of print. The expensive one is still available.

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Matt Cheney on Aickman

Just came across an interesting essay from June 2012 by Matt Cheney on Robert Aickman’s story “The Stains.” It’s once of my favorite Aickman stories.  Cheney gets extra points for using the word ineffable.

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Big Boys Reissue

There’s a great piece on the NPR website about a reissue of one of the Big Boys’ records (article + video interview with surviving founding members Tim Kerr and Chris Gates). From March. Which is when I meant to post something about. People often overlook the March-like quality of July.

I don’t know if there was anything on the radio. NPR does stand for National Public Radio, not website with video. But that’s okay. It’s not like I ever heard their music on the radio.

Available from Light in the Attic Records.

I’ve written about the Big Boys before. And maybe I will again.

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Fanciful Flight

Some time ago (maybe April 2012, because that’s the date on the web page), Liz Hand posted a link to an article about a friend of hers at the Smithsonian who has made models based on pictures of fanciful flying machines.

Looking at the models gave me ideas…I wanted to try making some myself, and wanted to use them in fiction.  I filed the article away for the future. And have since used one of the aircraft and its artist in “Untitled Western Novella.” The story is set on the gulf coast of Texas in 1888. One of the artists profiled in the Smithsonian article, Charles Dellschau, was a German-born butcher who ended up in Houston, TX; he created his art-and-tales about flying machines around the time of my story.

I’ve modified his life to fit the story: his exploits were supposed to have occurred a number of years earlier than 1888.

Another Dellschau sighting occurred last week. My friend Doug Lain, he of the intriguing-sounding forthcoming novel Billy Moon, posted a link to an article on a neat blog called Messy Nessy Chic. There’s also a new book about him.

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Monday Song Link

Here’s a great song by the Minutemen about being the Minutemen (and about life, art, writing, performing). It’s an acoustic version, so to get the full impact of Mike Watt’s bass you’ll have to buy the CD (or one of those downloadable digital formats). ”The typewriter’s on but my head is empty and to really find me I’ve got to look inside me.” is a situation I’m familiar with (metaphorically or course—I haven’t actually used a typewriter in a very very long time).

And here’s a site called Corndogs, with some Minutemen information, other videos, and concert downloads. Mike Watt’s website is linked on the right.

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