Friday, January 20, 2006

From the desk of...

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We continue to shuffle the virtual papers on our virtual desktop, trying to keep the "IN" box stack lower than the "OUT" box stack...

Recently we have discovered to our shock and dismay that cyber-critters apparently were nibbling away at the kilobytes of our digital files, so no wonder new and old visitors alike were having difficulty sometimes downloading complete stories! Several of the stories in our files were indeed truncated, no matter what our server had been telling us (oh, those coy servers!). For this, we greatly apologize for the frustrations we have caused now and then--or constantly. From this moment on, we intend to lay our digital traps with more care and catch these culprits before they do greater harm. Rest assured that we promise to become more vigilant and will always compare file sizes thrice before posting.

A recent visitor asked how to listen to our stories using iTunes; since we are not users of this fine program, we invite any readers out there to help guide us toward the best answer. What follows is a modified transcript of our very tentative response:

"...We've only just tinkered a little with that program, so don't know it very well (not being Apple or iPod persons ourselves, as much as we respect those fine products). On a Windows machine we do know that you can just do a search for "Stories to Go" in the iPod search box, and it should take you right to the recent episode(s). (Or at least that's how it worked last time we tried it.) Then you can just click and play through that program, right on your computer. Additionally, we think the program will help guide you toward archiving our files. From this website, one can probably right-click on one of the orange "feed" buttons and save it to your "feeder" program (such as iPodder). Or you can do it the easy way, as we do when we encounter material we like on podcasting websites, by right-clicking, saving it to one's computer, and then listening to it either on that computer or transferring it to one's digital audio player (they're just humble mp3 files, after all).

"Frankly, despite being podcasters ourselves, we are not experts on this and have often been overwhelmed by the little switches and levers that can inadvertently bring the whole machine to a crashing halt (see E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" for the most accurate description of our lives today, written some seventy or so years ago). Being simple sorts, we just like saving the mp3 files to our computer and dealing with them from there. Of course, it's not automatic, but we have found we just couldn't keep up with the sheer proficiency of any feeder program!

"If you're confused by all this, we don't blame you. Let us know how this works for you--and good luck!"

Lastly, we'd like to point out the fine work of fellow podcaster Jay King, who recently contacted us. Though he hasn't been doing this for too long, he's created some very interesting content, including his own productions of stories from Calvino's Invisible Cities (that seems to be a popular work among bloggers!). Despite whatever ideas this website may give you, there really is a lot of originality and energy out there in the blog/photoblog/vidcast/podcast-osphere. Give Jay a listen at

PS Don't forget the divine Miette at the link down below to your left and some fine music-oriented podcasts from Podchaostrophe (formerly "podcasts with a lower-case p" by the mysterious "governor"), to be found at

We almost always really enjoy "guy's" musical selections and skills at arranging them.

Lastly, for mostly non-literary thrills, venerable eclectic nonprofit freeform New Jersey radio station WFMU's regular accumulation of dj bloggers, "Beware of the Blog," is one of the greatest delights of the Internet Age:

Not to neglect the inimitable though oft-imitated for all things Momus and Momusian or the world's greatest Alexandrian library of avant-gardia, Where else can one go to hear both Gertrude Stein and the Tape Beatles, look at Aspen magazine or outsider art, or watch Man Ray's or Marcel Duchamp's groundbreaking films?

"The Hit Man" by Bobden Uyl

A man walks into a bar... In this case, a bar on Jonkheren street in Amsterdam (or is it Rotterdam?), where a captive audience is entertained by a hired killer's tale of woe. There is sometimes, perhaps, little difference between the witness and who will be witnessed. Translated from the Dutch by E. M. Beekman.

Bobden Uyl is that next thing to a hit man: a hired writer, one whose works have been translated into German, Russian, Spanish, Bulgarian (!), and of course, English. As the book we're cribbing this from says, "His main theme is travel, from which his characters often return empty-handed or having made discoveries that they did not expect at all." We'll leave it to our listeners to determine whether any of this is to be expected or not. This year Mr. Uyl will be 75 years old, if that makes any difference to anyone.

Monday, January 16, 2006

"The Green Bird" by P. K. Page

Two young people visit the home of two much older people, perhaps not entirely willingly. In the course of their visit, however, at least one of them is profoundly affected by what she encounters there. Read by Scoot.

Patricia Kathleen Page is the grand old lady of Canadian literature, an English-born poet who has been publishing since the early 1940s; although she is a prize-winning poet, she has written fiction, as well. Her first book was The Sun and the Moon in 1944; her latest is 2002's Planet Earth, which has been ranked as one of the fifty most essential Canadian books. Though she grew up on the prairie and spent much time in Brazil, she now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.