Matthew Simmons

Matthew Simmons lives in Seattle.

DIED: Keith Campbell

On October 5, Keith Campbell—one of the scientists who worked on Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell—died at the age of 58.

Adult cells have specialized jobs. They make one thing—skin, for example. Embryonic cells are not specialized. So, making an entire body from an embryonic cell is relatively easy. Making an entire body from a specialized cell is not. Campbell suggested trying to find a way to get adult cells to revert, to forget their specialization. Starving the adult cell did the trick. Dolly followed.

Some people call cloning “playing God.” Mostly, those people are talking about human cloning, not animal cloning.

But, still, Dolly caused a stir. And accusations of playing god. READ MORE >

Massive People / 2 Comments
October 16th, 2012 / 3:23 pm

DIED: Edward Archbold

On October 5, Edward Archbold, 32, won a live roach-eating contest at a pet store north of Miami, Florida. After his win, Mr. Archbold felt ill, began vomiting, and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Other participants in the contest did not fall ill and did not die, suggesting that his death might have been unrelated to the large number of live cockroaches he consumed. Or at least that, for the larger percentage of us, the consumption of a lot of cockroaches is not necessarily dangerous. READ MORE >

Random / 8 Comments
October 9th, 2012 / 6:52 pm

DIED: Griffith Edwards

Griffith Edwards, Oxford-educated MD and addiction specialist, invented alcoholism. In 1976.

That is to say, he and a cowriter named Milton Gross first published a description of Alcohol Dependence Syndrome in the British Medical Journal in 1976, making the whole darn thing official.

Edwards spent his life considering, studying, talking about, writing about, and helping others with addictions.


ALCOHOL in HISTORY: Edited Highlights READ MORE >

Author Spotlight / 7 Comments
October 2nd, 2012 / 5:25 pm

Constrain my writing.

From Rick Strassman’s book DMT: The Spirit Molecule. This is the way a DMT test subject named “Willow” described her experience on the psychedelic. I’ve added emphasis to the sentence that struck me:

The other side is very, very different. There are no words, body, or sounds there to limit things. I first saw deep space, white with stars. Then there was this multidimensional experience starting. It was alive. It was the aliveness that I heard.

And here, a quote from Terence McKenna recently reTumbled by Tao Lin: READ MORE >

Craft Notes / 10 Comments
September 26th, 2012 / 4:30 pm

DIED Snippet: On September 14, chronic illness legal advocate Jennifer Jaff passed away. Her advocacy was a reaction to her own diagnosis with Crohn’s disease. Frankly, I don’t even know where to begin talking about the messy maze of health insurance and chronic illness or pre-existing conditions. But I thought this might be a fine place to link to Giant contributor Ken Baumann’s essay on his Crohn’s in Vice Magazine. (And to mention that they have his name spelled wrong in the byline.)(Also, this essay is not sexist.)

DIED: Gabriel Vahanian

Gabriel Vahanian, author of the book The Death of God: The Culture of Our Post-Christian Era, died on Saturday, September 8. He was 85.

He was not an atheist. He was a theologian and critic of what he referred to as “Religiosity,” Christianity that appealed broadly to his contemporary culture, that embraced faith without doubt, that was literal in its interpretations of the Bible, that was “trivial.” Here he reveals the death of God in the names we give God: READ MORE >

Author News / 7 Comments
September 21st, 2012 / 2:00 pm

DIED: Dr. Thomas Szasz

Dr. Thomas Szasz was a professor of psychiatry who spent much of his intellectual life critiquing psychiatry. He believed much of psychiatry was unscientific and should not be used to justify coerced detention in mental institutions and that diagnoses should not be allowed in courts of law. He was popular with libertarians (because he believed in body and mind self-ownership over state control of our relative psychiatric [un]hingedness) and, because he called psychiatry a “pseudoscience,” he was embraced by the Church of Scientology.

Because he called psychiatry a “pseudoscience,” he was embraced by the Church of Scientology. READ MORE >

Random / 11 Comments
September 19th, 2012 / 2:50 pm

DIED: An Ontario, California Rapper who called himself Inkyy or Jew’elz

A young, Southern California rapper who maybe went by the names Inkyy or Jew’Elz died in a car accident. According to the obituary in the UK’s Daily Mail (Online edition), Ervin McKinness (Inkyy/Jew’elz’s government name) had, moments before the car he was a passenger in ran into a wall after running a red light, tweeted the following:

Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #FuckIt YOLO

It is not believed that Inkyy was driving the car 120 miles an hour or drifting corners, but that he and his friends were—as he self-reports—”drunk as fuck” when they hit the wall. Five people died. It was 1:20am. Another report said they were at Creekside Drive and Haven Avenue: here. This article has video from the scene. There is an iron fence south of the LDS church on the southwest corner. I’m fairly certain that’s the one shown in the video.


A question one can ask about Existentialism—whether it is life affirming or life denying—can, I think, also be asked about #YOLO (You Only Live Once). It depends, it seems, on who is hashtagging. There are certainly those who have embraced #YOLO as life affirming. As of Friday, September 14, 1885 people have RTed Inkyy’s unintentionally final words. Those folks seem to have embraced #YOLO as life denying.

Where will you stand? #FuckIt. I stand with life affirming.

Have a good weekend, everyone. If you’re drunk af, stay off the streets. Inkyy’s video “Dreams” after the cut. READ MORE >

Music / 3 Comments
September 14th, 2012 / 4:52 pm

DIED: Dorothy McGuire of the McGuire Sisters

A McGuire sister passed away last Friday. As the New York Times obit points out, the McGuire Sisters sang simple, traditional pop songs in contrast to the low, burbling, grinding roil of early rock and roll music. When the McGuire Sisters made a hit out of the song “Sugartime,” history’s greatest rock and roll performer, Jerry Lee Lewis, was marrying his cousin and putting out “High School Confidential.” But they have their charms.

I’m going to just go ahead and admit that I find something particularly distressing about the death of the member of a ’50s close-harmony singing group made up of sisters. Those acts took such pains to eradicate all but the subtlest differences between them in their presentation, worked so hard to let the collective subsume the individuals. (All with nearly the same hairstyle, in nearly the same dress, bantering with Perry Como with nearly the same wit and tone, singing a song with nearly the same notes.) And, sure, they don’t perform anymore. They are in their 80s. But one imagines they sing at home sometimes. And one imagines they hear the other two when they sing at home sometimes. And one imagines they might hear a change in one of their phantom sister voices.

Music / 4 Comments
September 11th, 2012 / 3:17 pm

This isn’t a clever gimmick. It’s a terrible, unforgivable sin.

ToBS R3: horny middle aged balding poetry professor on campus vs. Sewage Treatment Technologies

[matchup #51 in Tournament of Bookshit]


Contests / 3 Comments
May 18th, 2012 / 4:21 pm

“Aaliyah would have been on Twitter. It is fucked up that she is dead.”: An Interview with Patricia Lockwood, Poet Laureate of Twitter

Patricia Lockwood is a poet. (A poet. A very good poet.) She also uses Twitter in interesting ways. Earlier this year, her series of SEXTS got attention from Rhizome, and then The Huffington Post & The New Yorker.

And I look at those tweets and I wonder, “How does someone do that?” Not get attention, though. I mean write those. How? So I asked.


So, I was initially pretty dismissive of Twitter. And then, at some point, I noticed how funny it could be and found it to be a mostly worthwhile distraction. And then—probably while reading the fake Christopher Walken feed—I began to think there could be something kind of poetic about Twitter. That each little update could be a joke, a persona poem, a zen koan.

Did you sense the “poetic” potential in the Twitter post from the beginning or did your approach to Twitter change?

It took me about ten years to join Twitter because, like old men everywhere, I “did not get it.” What is the … where are your mentions … what is hashtag … who is a belieber? When I did join, I spent my first week livetweeting the movie Bambi, focusing specifically on the puberty of Bambi and Thumper, and was subsequently unfollowed with extreme prejudice by the few poets who had charitably followed me in the first place. (This still happens! A real writer will follow me and then four days later be like “what the freak is this” and it is goodbye. CAN’T believe you wrote a tweet about Jesus jelqing.)

OK, so scrolling back, I see that one of my earliest tweets was “I want to see the Beethoven movie where Beethoven finally manages to tear his way out of the dog’s body and play something good on the piano.” About two weeks later I sexted for the first time, like a teen. So it wasn’t so much that I saw the possibilities right away as that … Twitter is the perfect way to disseminate the kind of writing that comes most naturally to me.

Author Spotlight / 27 Comments
March 7th, 2012 / 7:18 pm

Hey, what do you all think about me maybe naming my next cat “F. Purry Abraham”?

Do you think a blog without comments loses its readership a) quickly or b) slowly?

Stacey Levine on Ryan Boudinot: “This one whom some were following was calm and restrained. His work shows so much work. Thousands of bees in his brain. His work makes its own ceiling, then bursts the ceiling again and again. Those calm, compact manners and the close shave. But you sense at any moment the gentlemanly restraint could fall away. At the spelling bee he was the most polite of them all. He is not in love with the normal. But I think he dislikes the abnormal, because, after all, the normal and its trajectory is so much more complicated and interesting.”

The Soul Transformative Experience of Writing Itself: An Interview with Ryan Boudinot

Massive Novel Alert: Today marks the official release of Ryan Boudinot’s massive (in all senses of the word[seriously—it's going to create a gravity well]) new novel Blueprints of the Afterlife(Grove 2012). I got a chance to read this early on. I like Ryan’s work. I like Ryan. Ryan’s a solid citizen of literature in Seattle. And everywhere. I figured I would like the book.

I didn’t figure it would be as expansive, as imaginative, as powerful, and as quaking as it it.

Seriously. It’s awesome. Take a look. Here’s a sample chapter.

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some Boudinot appreciations and a round-up. (And if anyone reading has something they’d like to add, feel free to get in touch with me @ giantblinditems @ gmail dot com.) Today, though, we begin with a long interview with the author.


You’ve written flash stories, short stories, a short novel, and a really long novel. Do you have a length at which you feel most comfortable?

You’re really wanting me to start this interview with a penis joke, aren’t you?

Heh. For the record, I think that no matter what is said in this email chain, we should use it in the interview. So, that line. And this caveat. We should just use everything said in here.

So, yes. READ MORE >

Author Spotlight & Random / 18 Comments
January 3rd, 2012 / 4:17 pm

The Crow Arts Manor Needs the Classics.

The Crow Arts Manor—a new-ish writing endeavor in Portland that hosts readings and sets up workshops with Massive folks like Kevin Sampsell, Emily Kendal Frey, Zachary Schomburg, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Monica Drake as instructors—is gathering a library. Here’s a note I got from the director, Sid Miller:

Crow Arts Manor, located in a Northeast Portland, is a 501c3 non-profits writing center, that provides low costclasses and workshop. Over the last 9 months we’ve been hard at work assembling a literary library. Through donations we’ve been able to obtain a large amount of current literary journals, magazines, books of poetry, short fiction and criticism. But it’s been difficult to obtain the classics, from writers going back to Whitman reaching to the end of last century. So now we’re asking the public for help. We’re looking for folks willing to donate a title or more from their own personal library. Our library will be open to the public and will be a tool for local writers, as well as local schools and non-profit organizations. It will be a place to read, write, and engage with other writers. We will never charge a fee for use of the library. If you are willing to donate, we are happy to send you a present, a past copy of Burnside Review (our partner). Please e-mail me if you are interested in helping.

Help ‘em out?

Behind the Scenes / 3 Comments
December 16th, 2011 / 4:00 pm

I was listening to an interview with Jonathan Gold and was thinking, “Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone who hates Jonathan Gold and his writing.” (I could be wrong. There are probably chefs in LA who hate Jonathan Gold and his writing.) I was wondering, then, if Jonathan Gold sort of untouchable. Or if anyone is untouchable. I thought I’d ask you. Readers: Writing-wise, is anyone untouchable?

Top 50 Black Metal Albums of 2011

A lot of people—or, in truth, absolutely no people—have been asking me what my Top 50 Black Metal Albums of 2011 are.

So, here they are. I love all 50 equally, and do not have them numbered. If you can think of any that deserve honorable mention, anything I have forgotten, leave the name in the comments section and I will maybe tell you why I didn’t include them, or apologize because I should’ve included them.

Verg by Necrolocust
Vreg by Locustcorpse
Turgal by Trugla
Groluck by Stunefier READ MORE >

Music / 51 Comments
December 13th, 2011 / 6:11 pm