Sunday, July 14, 2013

J.K. Rowling writes a well-reviewed detective novel under a pseudonym and almost gets away with it

Remember J.K. Rowling? Yeah her. Richer than the Queen, owner of a castle, writer of a children's series about magic.

Last year she published a novel called 'Casual vacancy'. Got solid reviews and did pretty well on the charts. Then she retreated back into her cocoon. Around April a detective novel purportedly by a debutant author writing under a pseudonym was published in Britain.

Called 'The cuckoo's calling', this novel was well received by all quarters. Reviewers praised its complexity and the sophistication. The author, 'Robert Galbraith', was said to be an ex-military officer writing under a pseudonym.

The only problem was: the novel seemed way too well put together for a first-time author. Late last week, people at Sunday Times of London got some anonymous tip from (where else?) twitter that the author was actually J.K. Rowling. Further snooping revealed that the this book and 'Casual vacancy' shared an agent and an editor. Additionally computer linguistic analysis of one of the Harry Potter books and this novel revealed enough similarities to suggest that she was indeed the author.

Today she fessed up in an article saying that being Galbraith was a "liberating" experience. As I write this, the book has shot up Amazon's bestseller list. Rowling has indicated a planned sequel is still in the works and will come out next year.

Now of course this could all be part of an elaborate campaign by the publisher, but it is still borderline miraculous that something as monumental as this managed to stay secret for so long.

Ponder this as I scoot away to buy a copy from my local bookstore.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Poem of the week - "Alley cat love song" by Dana Gioia

This somewhat irregularly recurring segment on this blog has proven moderately popular with outside readers who stumble here through google. I try to keep things fresh by posting poems across various genres, time periods, themes and genders. Haven't really posted any poems in a while, so consider this the triumphant return of this durable segment.

This is an interesting poem for me because I kinda know the son of the poet. He played quizbowl (aka academic competition etc etc) at Harvard and I have met him at a few tournaments here and there. He is widely considered one of the best players of literature questions in the country. Genetics, I suppose.

Anyway, here's Dana Gioia (who was the chairman of National Endowment of Arts, a marketing executive who avidly promoted Jello-O among other things) with his beautiful poem about love among cats:

Alley cat love song
by Dana Gioia 

Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head.
I'll wait by the screen door till dawn.
The fireflies court in the sweetgum tree.
The nightjar calls from the pine,
And she seems to say in her rhapsody,
"Oh, mustard-brown Fred, be mine!"
The full moon lights my whiskers afire,
And the fur goes erect on my spine.
I hear the frogs in the muddy lake
Croaking from shore to shore.
They've one swift season to soothe their ache.
In autumn they sing no more.
So ignore me now, and you'll hear my meow
As I scratch all night at the door.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Start the car and thank you for holding

 David 'Bumble' Lloyd is one of my favorite cricket commentators. Btw please don't be Jennifer Lopez and confuse cricket with croquet (as she does here). If you, as a loyal reader of this blog, are also confused, do the following:
a) Take a full minute to feel unbearable shame and
b) Read some of yours truly's excellent posts highlighting this very excellent game here and here.

He's an Englishman through and through and a bit of an extravagant joker. He played a few matches for England here and there, and coached for a few years before taking his talents to the much more lucrative (I presume) career as a commentator and a sports pundit. Bumble likes to the use the phrase 'Start the car' a lot and liberally peppers his sentences with that phrase, especially when he is on air. Bumble tweets here

Right then, onward.

I recently had the distinct pleasure of moving apartments. Mercifully my new abode is a mere floor above my old digs so it wasn't as bad as it can get. The new place is exquisite. Since I am not a man prone to exaggeration, you better believe every word I say. Seriously, this place is huge. Massive. Gargantuan.

It is lofty! (no literally  -  because it is a loft)
It has a balcony!
It has a wine rack! (not that I would every be caught dead putting anything in it)

The biggest surprise about moving is the sinking realization how much random shit you've recklessly accumulated over the years. I bet if everyone in America were made to move every two months, consumerism would die a gory death overnight.

The other dark side about moving is making calls to utility companies. I recently purchased new internet and made changes to my cable. All of that took me nearly five hours over three days. Seriously, we can put a man on the friggin moon but we can't come up with a better way to figure this shit out?! The metallic monotonous voice that greets you so blithely every time you call one of these entities gets so grating. Who in the right mind programs these things? And even the operators. Their obsequiousness is, quite frankly, unnerving. 

But that's all done with and here I am, sprawled across my majestic sofa, pecking away at my laptop like a boss.

Before I go, here's a link to what has surprisingly turned out to be by far the most popular post on this damn blog: post. It is a silly little post about a little experiment I did where I pseudohallucinated using ping pong balls and static noise. As of this writing it is responsible for close to 20% of this blog's traffic. We've been getting comments from all sorts of random people in far-flung places. 

Do tune in from time to time for more jazz and pizazz!