On not looking into Chapman’s

Bryan Appleyard has outed himself as the author of this essay on Homer Simpson in the Sunday Times: There’s nobody like him… except you, me, everyone – Times Online. The only thing I know about Homer Simpson is that George Bush Jr thinks that families should be less like his and more like Mr Walton’s (whoever he is, and please don’t tell me, I would rather remain in blissful ignorance), an anecdote that is repeated in Bryan’s essay. I found the article very useful, because for many years the Simpsons is on at 6 pm, the witching hour when Working Parent on Duty for that day comes in from work and makes the tea before starting on the night shift. Hence I have seen many hundreds of 30-second glimpses of the Simpsons while carrying in and out trays of food or glasses of drink. Sometimes I even see the same 30 seconds that I saw 10 months ago. Now, thanks to Bryan, I can join up the dots. Although it is a readable and stimulating piece (as it would be if Bryan wrote about paint drying), I remain unable to "get" popular culture.

Five Ways to End Harry Potter

From the New York Times, via Dave Lull. Obviously I am not going to read this article until after I’ve read the book, but feel free to do so yourself. Here goes:
"So here we are: at the end of the “Harry Potter” decade. The books have been printed and are under lock and key. (Presumably.) J. K. Rowling has made her choices. Harry is either going to live or die. Severus Snape is either evil or good — or maybe a little bit of both. Ginny will stick with Harry, and Ron will hook up with Hermione. Or not. Eager readers still have to wait a fortnight or so for answers to these questions.

Which is why the Op-Ed page asked four writers and one artist to fill the void and draft “Harry Potter” endings of their own.

The Boy Who Died by Damon Lindelof

When Harry Met Davey by Meg Cabot

Made in Hogwarts by Larry Doyle

Hermione Tells All by Polly Horvath (subscription only)

The Last Day graphic by Andrea Dzeso."

See also A Gala Time for Muggles, again in the NYT, also courtesy of Dave Lull.

Ansible, an infamous SF newsletter

From my friend Henry Gee (whose highly recommended blog is The End of the Pier Show, the show in question being Henry’s many lives as science editor, fiction and non-fiction book author, palaenotologist, SF supremo, polymath, father and Person Who Lives in Norfolk These Days): Ansible 240 (July 2007)

Here is a sample:

On Serious Literature

"Ursula Le Guin sends a cry from the heart:

`Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it.’ Ruth Franklin (Slate, 8 May 2007)

Something woke her in the night. Was it steps she heard, coming up the stairs — somebody in wet training shoes, climbing the stairs very slowly … but who? And why wet shoes? It hadn’t rained. There, again, the heavy, soggy sound. But it hadn’t rained for weeks, it was only sultry, the air close, with a cloying hint of mildew or rot, sweet rot, like very old finiocchiona, or perhaps liverwurst gone green. There, again — the slow, squelching, sucking steps, and the foul smell was stronger. Something was climbing her stairs, coming closer to her door. As she heard the click of heel bones that had broken through rotting flesh, she knew what it was. But it was dead, dead! God damn that Chabon, dragging it out of the grave where she and the other serious writers had buried it to save serious literature from its polluting touch, the horror of its blank, pustular face, the lifeless, meaningless glare of its decaying eyes! What did the fool think he was doing? Had he paid no attention at all to the endless rituals of the serious writers and their serious critics — the formal expulsion ceremonies, the repeated anathemata, the stakes driven over and over through the heart, the vitriolic sneers, the endless, solemn dances on the grave?"

Read on at Ansible, David Langford’s infamous British SF/fan newsletter, published since 1979. Dave writes: "The current series (from 1991) was hosted for many years at Glasgow University, but the primary site is now here [includes archive]. The UK print edition is normally produced on the Ansible HQ laser printer or by Kall Kwik, St Mary’s Butts, Reading. But if I’m visiting London I go to The Print Centre in Store Street, off the Tottenham Court Road."