Here is a belated video of me mumbling about dirt at the Tumblr/Believer event in San Francisco last month.
The real revelation here is that I am not wearing my standard-issue uniform, the cardigan. I won’t say there weren’t bribes* involved in order for me to remain cardigan-less for the duration of this event. If you are into videos of girls mumbling, sleevelessly, this is the video for you. Just know that going cardigan-less was much harder than reading out loud to a room full of strangers.
This has been a post about cardigan therapy.
(If you haven’t seen the video of Mills reading about the kinds of new friends he is making in San Francisco, it is highly worth watching. Also, Joshua read a poem from memory! I could not recite something from memory if you held a gun to my head. It was beautiful.)
-In 1927, H. P. Lovecraft wrote a short story called “The Colour Out of Space” in which a meteorite crashed into a family farm in rural New England. The meteorite contained a mysterious globule of a color that was “almost impossible to describe,” with a note that it was “only by analogy” that professors studying the globule called it a color at all.
-David Lindsay in A Voyage to Arcturus described ulfire and jale, two colors visible under the sun Alppain: “Just as blue is delicate and mysterious, yellow clear and unsubtle, and red sanguine and passionate, so he felt ulfire to be wild and painful [and] jale [to be] dreamlike, feverish, and voluptuous.”
In 1949, Enid Blyton wrote The Mountain of Adventure, in which the children become involved in an experiment to create weightlessness: “Out of the hole in the pit floor shone a brilliant mass of colour — but a colour the children did not know!”
-In 1955, the poet Robert Graves wrote “Welsh Incident,” in which something unusual from the sea caves of Criccieth is described as “mostly nameless colours, colours you’d like to see.”
-Octarine is Terry Pratchett’s imaginary eighth color, described as a “greenish-yellow purple.”
-Mgru is a brand new color described in a short story of the same name by Stephen Moles as being like “a sarcastic pink or orange, but with a hint of gold impersonating lime”, “radioactive claret” and “a really, really aggressive beige”.
-A hoax or spoof recording by Negativland, featuring the fictional character Crosley Bendix, purports to describe the newly discovered, “fourth primary” color, named “squant.”
-“hTun” is an impossible color that is “similar to brown” in the book Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine.
-In episode 4 of the first series of Nebulous, “Holofile 333: Madness Is a Strange Colour”, Vartox Paint Company’s new color, Garrow (a sort of yellowy black but with more of a pinky green feel…), is sending people insane.
When I asked “Who wants to make tea out of worm poop this weekend to fertilize the vegetable garden?! Who wants to?! DOYOUWANTO!?” she was the only one who responded with an emphatic tail wag. So it’s just us.
 Hawthorne probably took the name “Prynne” from William Prynne (1600-1669), a vehement anti-Catholic Puritan, who devoted a lengthy book, Histriomastix; A Scourge of Stage Players (1632), to castigating Englishmen (and implicitly King Charles) for attending plays. When he published diatribes against Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud, who he considered a Catholic in disguise, he was punished by having his ears cut off and the letters “SL” (for “Seditious Libeler”) burnt into his cheeks. Uncannily anticipating Hester’s alteration of the scarlet letter and its meaning, William Prynne responded to his branding by composing a Latin distich, “in which he interpreted the S L which he now bore indelibly on his cheeks as Stigmata Laudis, the Scars of Laud.”
Finally, a Tumblr Writers party for the West Coast! We’re teaming up with our fabulous friends at The Believer to bring you a reading and mixer for the ages. Sheila Heti, Mills Baker, Melissa Graeber, Joshua Heineman and Isaac Fitzgerald will read. You will drink and chat and meet. We will all have a wonderful time! Hope you can make it…
Eliot would not have loved pop music but pop music loves Eliot. Ninety years after the publication of The Waste Land, he remains the lodestar poet for ambitious songwriters. They rummage through his masterpiece’s treasure chest of arresting phrases: the “violet hour” and “bodies naked on the low damp ground” quoted in the Sisters of Mercy’s Floorshow, “April is the cruellest month” kicking off Hot Chip’s Playboy or the “red sails” picked up by David Bowie on Lodger (Bowie told William Burroughs in 1974 that he’d “never read” Eliot but I suspect he got around to it).
Likewise 1915’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. “Like a patient etherized on a table” is paraphrased by avowed Eliot fan Win Butler in Arcade Fire’s We Used to Wait, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” became a song title for Chuck D, and “the Eternal Footman” crops up in Tori Amos’s Pretty Good Year. “Alfred J Prufrock would be proud of me,” declare Manic Street Preachers on My Guernica. And 1925’s The Hollow Men lends its name to songs by Faust, Gravenhurst and Cocteau Twins. And on it goes: Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Van Morrison, Rush, EMF, Crash Test Dummies, Okkervil River, the Clientele … “This music crept by me upon the waters.”
But why Eliot, above all other poets? One simple reason is that he is widely taught in British and American schools and he impacts on the adolescent imagination with peculiar force. The Waste Land may be unfathomably complex but it is easy to love regardless of whether you understand it. The language is juicy and pungent, full of fire and rain, rivers and dust, birth and death – lots of death. I remember deriving a thrill of pleasurable dread from its sense of crisis and doom when I first read it as a teenager. Lines such as “I will show you fear in a handful of dust” or “This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang but a whimper” (from The Hollow Men) would be at home on the back of a goth’s leather jacket. Eliot offers a vivid grown-up take on a teenager’s sense that all is not right with the world. At a difficult age you get the impression he’s on to something terribly important, even if you’re not sure what it is.
It Should Come on a Scone by Nicki Minaj
Bitches ain’t serious, man these bitches delirious
All these bitches inferiors, I just pimp my interiors
I just pick up and go, might pick up a scone
Might give conversation, if you kick up the dough
Never mind my money; never mind my snacks
Every bitch wanna be me, you can find ‘em in Stacks
“Pink Strawberry” two milli, “Super Fig” triple plat
When you see me on ‘Gella, just admit that I’m winning
Do a show for Tartine, they request me by name
And if they don’t get Nicki, it just won’t be the same
When I’m sitting with Martha, I’m really sitting with Martha
Ain’t a metaphor punchline, I’m really sitting with Martha!!
Front row at Cupcake Wars posture
Ain’t a bitch that could do it, not even my impostor
Put these bitches on lockout, where the fuck is your sugar?
I pull up in that new new, peaches and gooseberries
Shake my head yo I’m mad, ain’t a bitch in my zone
In the middle of Target, I just feel so at home
Got the certification, cause it come with the stove
But this jam is so warm, It should come on a scone
It should come on a scone, It should come on a scone
And my jam is so warm, It should come on a scone
It should come on a scone, It should come on a scone
Cause my jam is so warm, It should come on a scone
IHOP went and gave my commercial to Gwyneth
But don’t tell them I said it, let’s keep it on the d-low
If you need you a spread, just put me on your toast
But you know it’ll cost, about six figures long
But you bitches ain’t got it, where the fuck is your preserves?
Flinging honey for hers; me I’m fucking above it
And I just got the toast, and I’m calling it Thomas
But this shit is so warm, it belong in Tahiti
Why the fuck am I baking? I competes with myself
When you win against Nicki, you depleted your wealth
And I’m not marmaladin’, but I’m feeling myself
Jelly is waiting, cause them pictures’ll sell
Now don’t you feel a-stupid, yeah that’s curd on your face
If you wasn’t so ugly, I’d put my jam in yo’ face!
[Singing] Jam in your face; put my jam in your face, yeah!
Ooohh-ooh, jam in your face [3x]
Put my jam in your face
Put my jam in your face, yeah yeah