Tuesday, October 31, 2006

From today's BBC: From Weapons of War to Great Coffee

From weapons of war to great coffee
By Amber Henshaw
BBC News, Mekele

Azmeraw Zekele begins with a burnt-out shell...

In biblical times they said "turn your swords into ploughshares", now in northern Ethiopia a tradesman is bringing the saying into the 21st Century.

In his workshop in Mekele, just 200km from Ethiopia's border with Eritrea, Azmeraw Zekele is turning burnt-out shells into cylinders used in coffee machines.

Most of the shells are left over from the 1998-2000 war between the two countries.

The workshop is made up of three quite small ramshackle rooms that lead from one to another with sunlight coming through the gaps, but it is a hive of activity for Mr Azmeraw and his six staff.



Monday, October 30, 2006

"The story was about coming back from the war...

...but there was no mention of the war in it." p. 76 A Moveable Feast

Check out Paul Devlin's insightful piece on Matthew J. Bruccoli's book, Hemingway and the Mechanism of Fame: Statements, Public Letters, Introductions, Forewards, Prefaces, Blurbs, Reviews, and Endorsements:


Sunday, October 29, 2006

In a week strewn w/ pencil-chewing half-wits...

...this knowing response totally cracked me up. From the lit journal, Pindeldyboz:

this is an autoresponder.

We got your submission. Thanks! Now, good heavens, go outside and play or something while we read it--you're looking pasty.

rock on,


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Stronger women build stronger nations"--Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International

I've considered myself a feminist since I was in the seventh grade. (Decades later, I could still flay certain individuals who disparaged my mom when she went back to school.) But I long for the day when being a woman isn't considered an exceptional state. As I've often said, we're 52% of the population. We are the goddamned norm and it would behoove us to act accordingly.

Until then, I'm buoyed by the following piece from CNN:

By Elizabeth Yuan

(CNN) -- In Africa, 40 first ladies have banded together to use their positions to fight HIV and AIDS.

In Kandahar, Afghanistan, an American former reporter is running a cooperative that employs both women and men to produce a line of soaps and bath oils that will eventually wind up in U.S. and Canadian stores.

Similar efforts to empower female survivors of wars and genocide are under way in dozens of other countries, thanks to organizations like the U.S.-based Women for Women International.

"Stronger women build stronger nations," Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women International, has said. Last month the group won the $1.5 million Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize for its work in providing emotional support, financial aid, skills training and business services to women in war-torn regions.

On Tuesday, Salbi will join Rwanda's first lady Jeannette Kagame, Sarah Chayes, founder of the Afghan soap cooperative, Arghand, and other women to discuss -- among other topics -- how women can gain influence in the economic and political power structures of developing countries. They will meet at a CNN-hosted conference, the Inspire Women Summit, in New York City.



Monday, October 23, 2006

So Many Dynamos' Guitars Stolen at the Paradox

From Barsuk’s message board yesterday:

Last night at their Seattle show, 3 guitars a wallet and a cell phone were stolen from So Many Dynamos. The show was at the Paradox and the stuff was stolen from the back room during the 3rd bands set.

If anyone has any information at all, please email me at skrockirecords@yahoo.com

Here are the details on the guitars:

1978 Gibson SG-tobacco sunburst with a repaired headstock, many dings and chips and a Smokey the Bear sticker on the case.

G&L ASAT Classic Tribute Series (looks like a telecaster) - sunburst semi-hollow body (has an f-hole) in a black gator case with "Griffen Kay's" name and address on the case. This guitar has lots of rust.

Squire Supersonic-black with white pickguard in a Gibson gig bag. The guitar has a “Anyone Can Do This” sticker on the back.

All guitars are pretty dinged up but loved dearly.

Thank you

Posted 2006-10-22 18:01:54 by Robbie [Urbandale, USA]

I have friends who stole in their twenties. They regret it deeply and learned from it. So I don't think theft marks someone for life as an evil person. That said, stealing a band's gear is evil. I can think of no better punishment than the one laid out in the Decemberists' "Mariner's Revenge Song":

"Find him
Bind him
Tie him to a pole and break
his fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
wakes up naked
clawing at the ceiling
of his grave"

And while we're (again) on the topic of the indie rock: certain music blogs are a joy to peruse. They burst with love and appreciation for their favorite acts and they champion art that impacts their lives. Cheek kisses and licorice whips all around.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who snipe unprovoked and are certain--for reasons unapparent--that they understand an artist's motivation and influences and allegories. Then they misspell everything. To those I say: a keyboard won't make you a writer. And when you assert that one band is "following in another's footsteps" based solely on geography, I must resist the urge to poke you with a stick.

Less bang maintenance and more fact-checking, please.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Searching For Jacob: "60 Minutes"' Scott Pelley Reports on the Genocide in Darfur

October 22, 2006

(CBS) It hardly seems possible, but the genocide in Darfur is taking a turn for the worse. The government in Sudan has launched a new offensive, maybe trying to finish what it started three years ago. As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, more than 300,000 people are dead and more than two million are refugees in the Sahara.

To understand what is happening in Darfur, 60 Minutes came upon on the story of a boy named Jacob. We know him only because his name is on schoolbooks found in the ashes of his home. Jacob's village was wiped out. Our team saw his books in a museum. We didn't know whether Jacob was alive or whether we could find him. But we decided to try. Our search turned into a remarkable journey into a place we were forbidden to travel looking for a boy swept up in the 21st century's first genocide.

The search for Jacob began at the United States Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C. Dedicated to never letting genocide happen again, it now finds itself with fresh evidence in a new exhibit.

John Prendergast brought the remains from Jacob’s village to Washington and to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. In the Clinton White House, he led a team that imposed economic sanctions on Sudan. Now, he’s with the private, International Crisis Group, pressing for action in Darfur.

"We found in a book bag, a series of notebooks," Prendergast explains. "Clearly the kid who was doing math and spelling homework and the teacher has corrected it with a red pen."

The kid, Jacob, must have been 16 when his village was destroyed. 60 Minutes packed his books and left on a 7,000-mile journey.



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Say it with dead flowers at my wedding/ and I won't forget to put roses on your grave..."

For the past two plus years, by choice and by circumstance, I've been immersed in all things indie rock. I've mostly enjoyed myself and there have been some magical times, but the problem is that, too often, indie does not rock. My favorites in the genre bring an unfettered energy as well as an accomplished artistry to their work. They are the exceptions. I listen to KEXP constantly--at this point, it's a job requirement--and some of what I hear is mesmeric and inspiring and on. But over half of today's crop leaves me screaming, "Oh my god. Wake up, you monkeys."

Thurston Moore said recently that the Rolling Stones have sucked longer than they were great (prompting, in my mind, the phrase, "glass houses", but anyway) and maybe that's true. But Let it Bleed, Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St. have been staples of my adult life and are medicinal. (Three years ago, I was in an NIH study on Fibromyalgia and CFIDS and named those four records as part of my health regimen. The doctor thought I was joking. I insisted she write them down.)

So I was amazed when I quoted the headline lyric to a friend last week and he had no idea what I was talking about. How can a highly intelligent, creatively gifted thirty-nine year old male not know the lyrics to "Dead Flowers"? How did we arrive at this point in history? How can we stem the tide?

I'm ever the optimist. Perhaps if more folks are exposed to these seminal discs (don't say Exile is overrated or I will cut you), aesthetics will morph and listeners will seek music with more blood and wit. Perhaps not. But if I must live in an era wherein the Fruit Bats are taken seriously and Illinoise is heralded as a masterwork, I won't stand by in protracted mute horror.

My love is not in vain.

Friday, October 13, 2006

In answer to Mr. Schierling's question: yes, the dicks who burst with talent do, in fact, comprise a separate list:

Recently, I was asked to write for Seattle Metropolitan Magazine (http://www.seattlemet.com/). An SMM editor read my pieces in The Believer and Googled me. This is a delectable way to get work.

Said awesome editor is new to town and I asked him if I could recommend certain writers and photographers. Several of my other editors read this blog, so I'm posting the list below. As I told my compadres: each of them bursts with talent. And none of them are dicks.


Brian Barr: The Believer, The Seattle Weekly, Harp, The Stranger

L. Suzanne Stockman: Monkeybicycle, Spin, Nylon, Pindeldyboz

Ryan Boudinot: author of "The Littlest Hitler" ("Ryan Boudinot is some kind of new and dangerous cross between Vonnegut and Barthelme."--Dave Eggers), McSweeney's, BlackBook, Monkeybicycle

Michelle Goodman: Seattle Times, Bust, Salon, Seal Press

Sean Nelson: editor emeritus at The Stranger, music editor at MSN, on-air at KEXP, Harvey Fucking Danger

Diane Mapes: Seattle Times, Washington Post, Seal Press

Chris Estey: The Stranger, Seattle Sound, Paste, Three Imaginary Girls

Leah Baltus: Seattle P-I, Rivet

Angela Fountas (Monkeybicycle, Seal Press, Syntax)

Brangien Davis (Seattle Times, Swivel)


Amanda Koster: Newsweek, Fortune, "AIDS is Knocking", United Nations

Ryan Schierling: Paste, Seattle Sound, Barsuk

Laura Musselman: Paste: Seattle Sound

Gregory Perez: KEXP, scads of others, I'm sure, but I couldn't access his site content

And an extra-special shout-out to the crackling Ms. Dana at Three Imaginary Girls (http://threeimaginarygirls.com/) who recently linked The Slippery Fish to TIG's Indie RSS Blogroll. Continued cheek kisses to you and the Girls!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

And occasionally, get fall-down drunk:

Lately, I've been asked, "If the CFIDS treatment works, what will you do?"

It seems obvious, but in case it's not:

  1. Travel.
  2. Travel.
  3. Never look back.
And in answer to the oft-asked follow-up, "Really, you wouldn't have kids?"

Are you high? Are you David-Crosby-circa-1971 high? My reasons for not wanting kids have little to do with my health. And perhaps a reliable treatment or cure for CFIDS will never be developed. But if I were to receive the gift of physical autonomy (as opposed to intellectual and creative autonomy, both of which remain intact), why in the name of god would I dispose of it to drive the carpool?

Seriously, stop asking.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

No woodchips?

Is it me or does this sound like a seventh grade science project?

Excerpt from today's BBC article on the mechanics of underground nuclear testing:

"The nuclear device is placed into a drilled hole or tunnel usually between 200-800 metres below the surface, and several metres wide.

A lead-lined canister containing monitoring equipment is lowered into the shaft above the chamber. The hole is then plugged with gravel, sand, gypsum and other fine materials to contain the explosion and fallout underground."



"Fuck the salmon!"

Ten years ago this fall, I assistant directed, co-produced and acted in a stage adaptation of Charles Bukowski's short story collection, Hot Water Music. (The above line is taken from HWM's "Scum Grief", Bukowski's skewering of bad poets and those who fuck them. I'm often tempted to yell it at readings, just to see who gets the joke.)

During our seven week run at the Showbox, the director fell off the wagon; two actors pummelled each other bloody; and a third declared he wanted to introduce me to his pet rat, Jasmine, whip up some Hamburger Helper, then spoon on the couch and watch "Deep Space Nine".

Still, I remember the production fondly. To commemorate, I suggest partaking in all things Buk:


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ignorance was bliss:

[With a tip of the hat to E.]

I recently upgraded from my beloved but ancient tangerine iBook and Blogger now offers spiffy features in their new Beta program, so I reconfigured things here. And three days ago, I added a Sitemeter.

I always enjoyed not knowing who arrived here or why, but increasingly, strangers have emailed me regarding my work and curiosity got the best of me.

Certain findings are gratifying, if prosaic: many click directly to this site or arrive here after searching for my name. Others find me after searching for companies monikered "Slippery Fish". But some of what I've discovered leaves me nostalgic for four days ago, a time when I didn't know that an individual in Melbourne--hey, mate!--found me after searching for "'suck me off' comedy song".

More that carry a whiff of skeev:
  • "sodomized video" (Circle, Montana): Presumably, said person craves a portal to the back door, not ass sex with a video. I hope. (I think.)
  • "lysol douche cancer" (undetermined city, United States): I cannot, nor do I want to fathom, the inner monologue that preceded the typing of these words.
  • "Amy Sedaris in pantyhose" (Waterville, Maine and Willowgrove, Pennsylvania): I'm not sure which notion is more disconcerting, that two different individuals are seeking out the lovely Ms. Sedaris adorned in taupe nylon, or that the same guy (or girl) is on the road and really needs to release to images of one of our funniest scribes dolled up in mom-ware.
I'll let you know when the inevitable "ample-chested writer" search occurs.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A tiny respite:

Between yesterday's horrific Amish school shooting--can you get the gunman's checklist out of your head?--and reports of Representative Mark Foley's pedophilia, I think most sentient beings are dismayed and sickened.

So I'm in no way being glib when I say I'm looking forward to the Decemberists' appearance on Conan O'Brien tonight. Their lovely new album, "The Crane Wife"--out today--is shot through with songs that envelop you like fine brocade. My fave tracks so far are "The Crane Wife 3", "O, Valencia" and "The Perfect Crime 2".

Beauty exists and sometimes it's embraced.

So there's that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

From today's New York Times:

2 Americans Win Nobel Prize in Medicine

Published: October 2, 2006
Filed at 11:21 a.m. ET

Michael Probst/The Associated Press

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Americans Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello won the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday for discovering a powerful way to turn off the effect of specific genes, opening a potential new avenue for fighting diseases as diverse as cancer and AIDS.

The process, called RNA interference, also is being studied for treating such conditions as hepatitis virus infection and heart disease. It is already widely used in basic science as a method to study the function of genes.

Fire, 47, of Stanford University, and Mello, 45, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, published their seminal work in a 1998 paper.

RNA interference occurs naturally in plants, animals and humans. The Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which awarded the $1.4 million prize, said it is important for regulating the activity of genes and helps defend against viral infection. The two scientists will share the prize money.

''This year's Nobel laureates have discovered a fundamental mechanism for controlling the flow of genetic information,'' the institute said.

Erna Moller, a member of the Nobel committee, said their research helped shed new light on a complicated process that had confused researchers for years.

''It was like opening the blinds in the morning,'' she said. ''Suddenly you can see everything clearly.''

Jeremy M. Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in Bethesda, Md., which has funded work by Fire and Mello for years, said he predicted the two men would win this year.

''It's an example of a discovery of a fundamental biological process that has an almost unlimited number of implications,'' Berg said. ''The impact has just been steadily growing.''

Genes produce their effect by sending molecules called messenger RNA to the protein-making machinery of a cell. In RNA interference, certain molecules trigger the destruction or inactivation of RNA from a particular gene, so that no protein is produced. Thus the gene is effectively silenced.

For instance, a gene causing high blood cholesterol levels was recently shown to be silenced in animals through RNA interference.

''This has been such a revolution in biomedicine, everybody is using it,'' said Thomas Cech, president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for which Mello is an investigator.

''It's so important that people almost take it for granted already, even though it was discovered fairly recently,'' he said.

The prize for Mello and Fire did come remarkably quickly after they did the work. Nobels are generally given decades after the research they honor.

Mello, reached at his home in Shrewsbury, Mass., said the award came as a ''big surprise.''

''I knew it was a possibility, but I didn't really expect it for perhaps a few more years. Both Andrew and I are fairly young, 40 or so, and it's only been about eight years since the discovery.''

He said he would try to get to work Monday but expected to accomplish ''not a lot.''

Fire, reached in California, said he was awakened by a call from the Nobel committee.

`At first I was very excited.... Then I thought I must be dreaming or maybe it was the wrong number,'' he said. But then he confirmed the good news by checking the Nobel Web site.

''It makes me feel great. It makes me feel incredibly indebted at the same time,'' he said. ''You realize how many other people have been major parts of our efforts.''

Fire conducted his research while at the Washington-based Carnegie Institution.

The announcement opened this year's series of prize announcements. It will be followed by Nobel prizes for physics, chemistry, literature, peace and economics.

Last year's medicine prize went to Australians Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren for discovering that bacteria, not stress, causes ulcers.

Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in his will in the categories of literature, peace, medicine, physics and chemistry. The economics prize is technically not a Nobel but a 1968 creation of Sweden's central bank.

Winners receive a check, handshakes with Scandinavian royalty, and a banquet on Dec. 10 -- the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896. All prizes are handed out in Stockholm except for the peace prize, which is presented in Oslo.

link and photos:

2 Americans Win Nobel Prize in Medicine - New York Times