Posts Tagged ‘contest’

Comme il faut

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Tasteful readers!  Many thanks to everyone who submitted Kafka porn contest entries!  Frankly I received a few that were maybe a teeny bit more literal than I had been expecting, but I believe this is what makes the internet great.  I am delighted to announce the winning entry, by Lydia Kiesling: “Kafka porn is snuff porn that you didn’t actually watch but got arrested for anyway.”  An honorable mention goes to Dimiter Kenarov, for “undressing a person only to find new and new layers of clothing underneath.”  Unfortunately, neither Kiesling nor Kenarov wants the grand prize (my bed), so they get book prizes and I’m trying to sell the bed on Craigslist; big thanks to Andrew Leland of the Believer for already purchasing my (and my intern’s) favorite red chair, as well as two lamps, an ottoman, a saucepan, a carpet steam-cleaner, some geranium-scented laundry detergent, and approximately eight pounds of rice.  Buon appetito, Mr. Leland!

In other exciting news from the C-plus-list, I recently got my first magazine story killed!  It was a searing personal memoir of my Kindle drunk-dialing problem, commissioned by O, the Oprah Magazine, a publication to which I will always be grateful for its support of The Possessed. Unfortunately, as Oprah herself will tell you, no relationship is 100% smooth sailing, and O and I just weren’t able to see eye-to-eye on my Kindle drunk-dialing problem.  As a result, I recently received my first kill fee: a strange experience, because you realize at a certain point that what they are saying to you is basically “Take the money, take the money—just don’t make us publish it!”  For this reason, when I read the invoice that said “KILL FEE/ DRUNKEN KINDLE,” a tiny part of me felt like I had extorted Oprah. It was a strange, not un-empowering feeling.


In further empowering news, I am honored and happy to report that the Guardian ran a version of the Kindle piece on Saturday, so  nobody has to suffer in suspense regarding my super-classy ebook habits.  Read it and weep!  I mean it—it’s all very sad.


Kafka porn contest

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Patient readers!  I promised a Kafka contest, and here it is.  In the course of researching my recent Kafka article, I was interested to learn about a 2008 Kafka pornography scandal, provoked by the publication of James Hawes’s Excavating Kafka (the US title of which, Why You Should Read Kafka before You Waste Your Life, makes me proud to be an American).  As the Guardian put it:

At the focus of Hawes’ investigation are pictures he stumbled across in the British Library in London and the Bodleian in Oxford of the pornography to which Kafka subscribed while in his twenties. They include images of a hedgehog-style creature performing fellatio, golem-like male creatures grasping women’s breasts with their claw-like hands and a picture of a baby emerging from a sliced-open leg.

Myriad questions came to my mind.  Whom or what was that hedgehog-style creature fellating?  Was the Guardian being anti-Semitic when they called that breast-grasping creature a Golem?  And who wants to see a baby coming out of someone’s leg?  I consulted Google for answers and came across a terrifically helpful blog post which identifies and reproduces Aubrey Beardsley’s representation of a very angry-looking baby being removed from some guy’s leg (below), as per the description, in Lucian’s second-century proto-sci-fi hit True History, of how children are birthed on the Moon:



Many happy returns

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Democratic readers!  Thanks to all who voted in the epic Google/ Gogol pun contest, which, due to technical problems, raged on for a full week longer than I had intended (sorry, Bibliomosquito).  But the results are finally in: Gogol documents (Kate Romatowski) came in first with 54 votes, just one vote ahead of Gogol maps (Peli Grietzer); Gogolplex (Isabel Brown) placed in a respectable, Nader-like third, with 15 votes.  In recognition of the very close outcome, book prizes will be sent to both Kate and Peli, and I salute all three finalists for their hard work and ingenuity!

I’m just back in San Francisco from a particularly strenuous trip to the East Coast, where I attended, among other more-or-less Dostoevskian social functions, a twelve-hour Italian-language performance of The Demons on Governor’s Island.  I urge you all to check out the riveting minute-by-minute account, “My Twelve-Hour Blind Date, With Dostoevsky,” on the Paris Review blog.

Forthright readers!  I’m not going to sit here and tell you all that those twelve hours (actually fifteen hours, if you count transit time) were one unmitigated whirlwind of delight, because they weren’t.  Nonetheless, perhaps Dostoevsky put it best when he wrote the epigraph to The Brothers Karamazov: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24).  By which I mean to say that, even though something in me died during that performance, slowly, over the course of 12-15 hours, my cultural martyrdom did subsequently yield several non-negligible benefits, three of which I would like to share with you today.

1.  My fellow-sufferer Paul Roossin (the one who observed that the fat man had no decorum) sent along a really great photograph of The Possessed in an exotic location:



Word of the day

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Literate readers!  If you haven’t already, now is the time to vote in the Google/ Gogol pun contest.  Gogol Documents and Gogol Maps have been neck to neck for the past 48 hours—and it isn’t too late for Gogolplex to make an amazing comeback either!

In the meantime I am happy to share with you yesterday’s OED word of the day.  The D-list has made it to the A-list of dictionaries!

D-list, n. and adj.


orig. U.S.

Brit. /{sm}di{lm}l{shti}st/, U.S. /{sm}di{smm}l{shti}st/  [< D n. + LIST n.6 , after A-LIST n., B-LIST n., C-LIST n.]

A. n.

1. The fourth in a series of lists, esp. lists ranked in order of preference or significance.

1951 White Bk. Aggressive Activities towards Yugoslavia (Yugoslav Min. Foreign Affairs) II. iii. 301 They had instructions to put through the proposed ‘D’ list in its entirety. They refuse to lift the ‘export ban’. 1957 B. HIGGINS Indonesia’s Econ. Stabilization & Devel. i. 3 Imports were divided into four categories: an ‘A’ list of free imports, a ‘B’ list requiring payment of 100 percent ‘inducement’, a ‘C’ list requiring payment of 200 percent inducement, and a prohibited ‘D’ list. 1987 in T. McCourt Conflicting Communication Interests in Amer. (1999) ii. 52 ‘What kind of cuts..are you considering for CPB?’ Stockman said, ‘Well, let’s see. We have an A, a B, a C, and a D list. They’re on our D list. That’s a 50 percent cut.’

2. Any (notional) list comprising only the least celebrated or important members of a particular group, esp. in the entertainment industry or the media.


Google/ Gogol Finalists

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Autonomous readers!  If you love democracy, now is your chance to prove it by voting on your favorite Google/ Gogol pun by Friday the 9th.

Google/ Gogol Pun Contest

  • “Gogol documents,” which publishes your early works, but sets the later manuscripts on fire! (44%, 55 Votes)
  • “Gogol Maps,” which only tells you how to get to places you’re already at. (44%, 54 Votes)
  • A “Gogolplex,” which is that many souls. (12%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 124

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Untitled picture Many many thanks to everyone who participated!  Honorable mention goes regretfully to Lev Blumenfeld for pointing out that the real winner was, as usual, Google, because on April 1, 2009 (Gogol’s 200th birthday), they replaced the Google logo with a Gogol logo.  (The same BBC article includes a poll in which readers voted on whether Gogol is Russian, Ukrainian, or belongs to the whole world.  Read it and weep, nationalists.)  I’m not considering them eligible for prizes, though, because they already have too many books for their own good.

A belated shout-out is also due to all the San Franciscans who tore themselves away from the Dyke March long enough to attend the Believer All-Acoustic Summer Festival of Language and Thinking last Saturday. I had a great time representing the world’s non-Jewish peoples, in a fantastic billing with Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Justin Taylor, Damion Searls (whose wife brought a vuvuzela), and a wonderful musical group identified as “the Jews of Citay” (a subset of the musical group Citay).

I leave you now with some amazing images, courtesy of esteemed reader/ contest finalist Kate Romatowski, depicting “The Possessed bravely tracking some of Yellowstone Park’s more fearsome wildlife, as well as touring Strasbourg’s monuments to those great French literary heroes, Goethe and Gutenberg.”