April 27th, 2011 / 6:30 pm

loaded with tufts like a dogwood or 14 critics

12. Fucking A! Aimee Bender is interviewed about women and drinking.

It was a surprise for me after college to realize I didn’t hate beer, which I had assumed I hated, which cut off a lot of options.

9. Roger Ebert is a badass and just won New Yorker caption contest.

9. Bullet in the Brain is online here. It has typos but who gives a fuck. It has many technical flourishes. It has “moves.” You should read it and then pass it on or disrespect it or yawn or make some comment about critics. I am working a theme here, all crow, etc.


“I made a mistake in writing an essay called ‘The Pleasures of the Difficult,'” Mr. Baumbach said.

13. At the store, do you prefer self-checkout, self-bagging, or is it ethically wrong? What exactly made the dandelion an enemy flower? Why do weathermen despair the rain? You can learn to talk wisely about a nice house or you can learn to build a house. Red Bull makes you an individual, except for the drinking Red Bull thing. Do you aim while peeing? Who chose what would one day be labeled white noise?

14. On the issue:

I’ve always felt those articles somehow reveal more about the writers than they do about me.

Marilyn Monroe.

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  1. mark doten

      i regularly use the term “towering hatred” and sometimes the more full “conceived a towering hatred” from the wolff story. i have also used variants of the line that follows (“Tragic, really. If they’re not chopping off the wrong leg, or bombing your ancestral village, they’re closing their positions”) more than once in drunken arguments.

  2. reynard
  3. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I only self check-out when I know I can do it in a stylish way, which normally means it’s like one or two small things, a candy bar and a Red Bull maybe, and I know to put them in the open bag to keep the computer from freaking out, but when I’m finished I just pull everything back out the bag, don’t even use the stupid plastic environmentally unfriendly bag, to indicate, Yeah, I know what’s up machine, you didn’t outwit me, I outwitted you.

      Otherwise I always go to a cashier, and I guess part of it is so they feel like their job still means something, even though I’m sure they’re looking at me and thinking “Dude what the fuck just use the machine why are you making me do more work.”

      As for pee-aiming — only when I’m pissing into toilets, I look for stains on the inside of the bowl and try to eliminate them with my urine.

  4. reynard
  5. deadgod

      Lookit – she finished the book.

  6. Dan Moore

      I only use human cashiers and I only call people when I can confirm a switchboard is being operated somewhere. I have a woman who types up all my manuscripts.

  7. c2k

      Makes sense that that part’d get her attention.

  8. deadgod

      11. I’m glad that Baumbach et al. published In the Middle of Nowhere.

      literary work that is a thinly disguised variation on the recognizably artful

      is a comically felicitous way to put ‘cutting corners and gesturing at unearned effects’.

  9. Blake Butler

      oh look its the pic of MM pretending like she’s reading joyce again, never seen that

  10. reynard

      o the memories…

  11. Sean

      It’s about as surprising as a snarky HTML commenter.

      Anyway, back off, she’s a candle in the wind.

  12. deadgod

      – or that a raucous boyfriend would draw her attention to it.

  13. reynard

      can mean week come early this year? could there be a contest wherein, say, a dog is confronted with a turd, and if the dog eats the turd, mean week comes early; otherwise there will be five more months of passive aggression – just a thought in the wind

  14. STaugustine

      A raucous boyfriend would have had her reading Chapter 15

      Are you going far, queer fellow?
      How’s your middle leg?
      Got a match on you?
      Eh, come here till I stiffen it for you.

  15. Nathan Huffstutter

      Pretending to read, you open a book at the middle. MM’s pretending she’s finishing Joyce – that’s star quality.

  16. Nathan Huffstutter

      Note to self – always read comments in chronological order and all the way through before opening big trap.

  17. Nathan Huffstutter

      Note to self – always read comments in chronological order and all the way through before opening big trap.

  18. Tim Horvath

      Why is self-checkout on ethically shaky ground?

      Generally speaking I screw up something on the self-checkout requiring human intervention: a mango slips inter-bag, some barcode has chromosomal damage, alcohol is being purchased. It winds up being a team effort, manual override, a code telegraphed across the aisles.

      “Bullet in the Brain” rules, as does “Mortals” from the same collection, which I just recommended to a student today who was writing about someone obsessed with obituaries. And it–“Bullet,” that is, really ends in much the same way Ulysses does, with sheer affirmation, reveling in the pure sound of language.

  19. deadgod

      self-checkout vs. employee checkout is a matter of:

      maximum efficiency vs. employment (= circulation)

      perhaps ‘maximum efficiency’ = lower price for consumer

      (bought any gasoline lately?)

      but even if ‘maximum efficiency’ is a cost effectiveness that translates to price minimization, ‘maximum efficiency’ means one less consumer for your product/service

      ‘maximum efficiency’ is short-term value for producer/long-term destruction of value for economy

      in my view, ‘maximum efficiency’ is ethically destructive because it prioritizes accumulation over communication of value to producer of value

      self-checkout is capitalistically rational

      I amn’t clever enough to think of an example of ‘capitalistic rationality’ that isn’t malicious

  20. Tim Horvath

      I guess if it’s a move toward replacing all human employees then encouraging that direction is ethically dubious. But at the current moment it doesn’t seem maximally efficient. It is maximally efficient to have people who act automatically moving things along rather than people who fumble to find barcodes, have to hire a private investigator to locate the code for for organic avocados, people whose bag distribution is the setup for a slapstick sequence. Anyway, if we are going to talk about making ethical ripples I’d say it would involve rethinking the entire supermarket structure (and you can define “market” as broadly as possible here), not “supporting human labor by putting it to use” on the conveyor belt.

  21. deadgod

      Ha ha – if the ‘cashier’ isn’t being paid by the store, that’s an “efficiency” for the store — fuck the fucking organic-avocado eater! Many strategies of supermarket layouts are intended to maximize spending, certainly at the expense of shopper “efficiency” (as well as shopper, well, ‘expense’).

      At Mallwart, there’s often an unmoored cashier ‘floating’ around the self-checkout area at times of peak traffic, because a clumsy organic-avocado purchaser ends up becoming a less efficient ‘cashier’ with a line behind her or him.

      Repetitive manual labor – with no ‘pyramid’ to motivate one, exacerbating the nightmare of being conscious that the value one’s work produces is, by political-economic Iron Law, channeled to a speculator’s disposal because that’s who takes the risks – can be grinding, but I doubt that the comfort and luxury that most people enjoy for granted can be made available to so many without it. Robots?

      A rethink of the entire “market” market would be grand, but first I’ll need a voucher to do any of that ‘thinking’ ha ha ha ha ha.

  22. Nathan Huffstutter

      In Oregon, motorists aren’t allowed to pump their own gas. You pull your car up to the pump, roll down your window, and wait. At some point, an attendant arrives to initiate a process that drivers in other states are already halfway through. Sometimes, these attendants are motivated and efficient and trustworthy. Sometimes they are not. Sometimes you tell them to put $20 in your tank and they will put $19.50 in the tank, paying themselves the difference out of the till. In this manner, a minimum-wage job can be turned into a non-minimum wage job. I know this because many of my friends have at one time in their lives been employed as gas-station attendants and I wanted to know how they could afford better beer than me, even though I was earning an extra dollar an hour cutting pizzas. Meanwhile, instead of cars quickly pulling in and out of the filling stations, several using the pumps at time, the gas stations get clogged with six, eight, ten cars lined up, all those drivers waiting on one attendant to do what they’re perfectly capable of doing on their own. And, all the while, the attendant’s primary concern isn’t getting those drivers back on the road and back participating in the functional economy, that attendant’s busy figuring out how to skim two-bits off the sucker in the beige Volvo who handed him a twenty-spot.

      God Bless America.

  23. deadgod

      well them crooked pump jockeys are Explosive Diarrhoea

      probably stealing to pay for bidnis skool

      or to buy a Vulva for their own damn’ selves

      god done forsook America from the git

      is why we gotsta doin it for usselves

      I guess brain damage from the fumes is the Oregonian motorists’ payback

  24. Tim Horvath

      I see what you’re saying now–there’s the illusion of efficiency for the shopper and then the maximization of profit for the corporation, which is, of course, “efficient.” You’re right about that, of course. Your point about the “unmoored cashier” (great) is what I was getting at originally–that self-checkout often becomes self-and-other checkout. Ultimately, I think it’s hard to say which is the ethically sounder move, going to the flesh-and-blood checkout lines because their existence is fragile and people need to eat, or bagging your own, which is a tiny refusal to accept that the less you interact with the physical world the better, that friction can or ought to be banished from the world.

      Also, blurb fodder: ______ writes like an unmoored cashier.

  25. Blake Butler

      apologies. was kind of trashed

  26. Nathan Huffstutter

      Me and my buddies the pump jockeys were only riding it out until we could land decent bartending jobs. Then, when you come in to buy your $5 vodka (which actually has a pour cost closer to 33 cents), you hand over your five spot and we hit the “No Sale” button on the register, making it open as if an actual transaction had taken place. Later we’ll add your five-spot to our tip bucket, but first we’re gonna glare at you for our gratuity on the “$5” drink, and you better tip at least a buck, or the next time you want a drink you’ll spend an awful lot of time looking at the back my damn head. Bidnis skool? Why bother, me and my people, we know how to make $6 outtta thin air.

  27. christopher.

      If I was going to get a literary tattoo, I think it would be the words, “They is, they is, they is,” somewhere. I’ve always loved that story since I read it in my first fiction workshop at Ball State.

      Rad to see it online in full-text, and just a couple days before Short Story Month. You’d almost think it fate, if you believe in that sort of thing.

  28. deadgod

      yes, $2 all-in for a call drink is probably high

      better send the bar manager/owner to bidnis skool, unless staking sticky-fingered bar ‘tenders’ is a community service project

  29. Bushidonixon

      According to Truman Capote, MM: 1. Was an avid reader.
      2. Swore like a sailor.

      (I threw in no. 2 just for fun).

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