Paper gold

No links in this posting. To those who are mentioned, apologies. But sometimes links just disrupt.

I’ve not been reading books lately, I’ve been devouring them. I’m making a trip to the library every other day and they’re starting to know me by name. It’s so nice to have access to such a terrific library system.

I’m in a strong mood to spend the next 3 or 4 days curled up with a book. You know the type of mood I’m talking about. I hope we get some nice thunderstorms, with lots of rain and wind. From my bedroom on the second floor I can watch the storms roll in, hear the rain on the roof, see the lightening. The only thing left to complete the picture is my books.

Thanks to Ben, Karl, Denise, and Leesa for book suggestions (and Dorothea’s admittance to being “the woman with the ocular equivalent of a tin ear”, which I thought was a hoot). I’m now going to add to my reading list “VOX”, “Leaves of Grass”, “Geek Love”, “Good in Bed”, and I downloaded a PDF version of “Baby Head”. I have a feeling when I show up at the library with this list of books tomorrow, I might raise an eyebrow or two. It is an eclectic assortment.

Two of the books I’m reading/finishing are Whitney Otto’s “A Collection of Beauties at the Height of their Popularity” and Agee and Evan’s “Let Us now Praise Famous men”. Both books are very interesting, though I prefer the Agee and Evan’s book. By far.

Otto’s book focuses almost entirely on character in its portrayal of several women in the hedonistic age of the 80’s in San Francisco. The common thread tying the women together, and quite loosely, is that each character goes to the same ‘tea’ room, and is captured in a modern day “pillow book”, or diary, kept by one of the women. However, Otto skips from person to person as casually as one would brush up against a person in a bar, first focusing on Coco, then on Jelly, and so on. You’re never quite on any one person long enough to like them or dislike them.

Of one of the characters, Elodie, Otto wrote:

It seemed safe to love something so abstract because her life did not seem to offer her a way to have anything, and so she spent her life not learning to let go but training herself not to want.

In the book the endless parties, relationships, and drugs swirl around in a kaleidoscope of pieces and fragments, highlighted against the emptiness of the women’s lives. This book is not an easy read, but is skillful in its characterization.

If “A Collection of Beauties” is about character, “Let Us now Praise Famous Men”, is pure imagery, one of the most visually compelling books I’ve read in some time.

In the chapter titled “Near a Church”, Agee talks about he and Evans finding a perfect church. As they look for an entrance into the church, a young black couple walks past. Agree writes:

They were young, soberly boyant of body, and strong, the man not quite thin, the girl not quite plump, and I remember their mild and sober faces, hers softly wide and sensitive to love and to pleasure; and his resourceful and intelligent without intellect and without guile, and their extreme dignity, which was effortless, unvalued, and undefended in them as the assumption of superiority which suffuses a rich and social adolescent boy; and I was taking pleasure also in the competence and rhythm of their walking in the sun, which was incapable of being less than a muted dancing, and in the beauty of the sunlight of their clothes, which were strange upon them in the middle of the week.

This section doesn’t even capture the richness of the rest of the chapter, but there was no way I could include anything else without including the entire chapter, each sentence so dependent on the one before and the one following.

Reading “Let us Now Praise Famous Men”, I can see why Jonathon and Jeff Ward decided to turn to writing rather than photography–there are certain things a camera just cannot capture.

I can recommend both books, Agee and Evan’s strongly, and Otto’s carefully.

Now, on to more books. And since discussion recently is about getting paid to weblog, you can ‘pay’ me by adding more book recommendations to the comments. With these and a library card, I’m a rich woman.


Becoming Zillified

Eric Zilla is collecting weblogs who have become “zillafied”, in support of Davezilla. If you become zillafied, send Eric an email, let him know your weblog.

Current Plutonians who have zillafied:

Pet Rock Zilla
Momentary Lapzilla of Dilution

And, of course, yours truly. And no, that is NOT a Jersey Torch.

Update: Newly zillafied sites:

AKMAZilla — waiting Greek Leviathon
Caveat Lectorzilla — from the lady who put together those Simple To Assemble and Handle Particle Board Shelves…aka Shelves from Hell.


Pull the link or Li’l burning lizard gets it

If Davezilla doesn’t pull my weblog from his “fucked weblog” web site, kiss Li’l Burning Lizard good-bye. I’ve sent an email to Mr. Davezilla, but have received no response. So I’m taking drastic measures.

To view same, go to the fucked web site and click the link associated with my weblog name.

Hopefully this will get through to Mr. Davezilla since email failed. All in good fun, of course.

Update: Davezilla came through! I am no longer a f**cked weblog. I am back to my old sweet, demure, mellow, and lovable self.

*blink blink*


This is RDF: The BB Reading List

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Below my Virtual Neighborhood is my Bb Reading List. This list is generated automatically using PHP from an RSS file (books.rdf), which is being build using the exact same technology as that used for ThreadNeedle.

Though I didn’t use RSS as a dialect of RDF for ThreadNeedle due to the hierarchichal relationship of a threaded dialog, RSS is an ideal match for a book list such as this because the list is a “grouping of like items”– the business model for RSS.

As this time I’m using the Dublin Core and Taxonomy RSS modules, with the addition of my own items. I’m planning on generalizing my added elements into a “books” module to add to the RSS specification, once I make sure something like this doesn’t already exist.

Note that the RSS is going to be changing. For instance, I’m adding separate elements for author because there might be more than one author, and I want to be able to access each discretely. Additionally, I’ll be using the taxonomy elements instead of Dublin Core’s subject, because a book’s subject can be more complicated then that shown for just the subject element. I’ll also most likely add multiple recommenders, as more than one person can recommend a book.

By automating the book list from an RSS file, I can pull out an ISBN number and use this to look up prices at Glenn Fleishman’s Book Comparison web site. Eventually, this could also interact with something such as the St. Louis Library Catalog Search, if the functionality is accessible as web services.

Think of it: we’re only a few small steps away from the following scenario:


Grabbing an RSS book reading list from your favorite weblogger, feeding this into a specialized application, clicking a link on each book to open a page containing:

All the Google listings for that book
–All the Google listings for each author of the book
—- Possibly even a Google listing of related subject matter
A catalog search for that book in the libraries in your area
A price comparison and availability of the book from several online book stores
Which bookstores in your area have the book in stock and their prices
A listing of all reviews of the book

…all based on a level of trust built into the RSS file through the associated person(s) or organization(s) making the recommendation, and the weblogger the list is pulled from,

…all from the same functionality, almost literally, as is being used to build ThreadNeedle.


(Note, list is still being updated – special thanks to Jonathon and Karl for listing so many great recommendations, which I’m still adding to my database. And you both let me know if you want an RSS file of your own once I work out the RSS module and vocabulary. I’m sure we can work out a cookie exchange.)