Bolano / Emily Hahn voice
I moved to Beijing because my father had just died, and because I had become, in the months before his death, obsessed with the author Ernestine Graye, who in the 1930s had sailed to Shanghai and worked as a society reporter. There she became addicted to opium, married a wealthy official, and witnessed his public beheading in 1949. She left China for Canada, where she penned China Lady, a book I...
from Emily Hahn's "China to Me," 1944:
“There was, however, a great drawback to that job: I had to be at the office at nine o’clock and could not leave in the afternoon until five. It is remarkable that I held out at it for a year. It was as if I had made a resolution to give propriety one good chance; with a year of conventional endeavor behind me I ignored it thereafter with a clear conscience. The North-China work...
Realism in the age of Nintendo
The Economist described effective programming for the Nintendo 64 as being “horrendously complex.” The Nintendo 64 had weaknesses that were caused by a combination of oversight on the part of the hardware designers, limitations on 3D technology of the time, and manufacturing capabilities. One major flaw was the limited texturecache of 4 KB. This made it difficult to load anything...
I realize I am blogging while drunk but I am... →
glamourous voice attempts
I was living with two men who I’d messaged on an ex-pat website, and who it was quickly made clear were overcharging me on rent so they could pay less for their own rooms. One of them was an Australian trader named David who sold sunglasses over the internet and loped around in cargo shorts, calling everything “babe” and “baby,” even wooden spoons – saying things like, “Will you hand me that baby,...
annotations asked: Hmm, I didn't even notice that they were coming to town. They are terrific live, though! Maybe I will go...
after i read on the road and drink a venti
I thought of moving to China after my father died, not long after my graduation. He had lived to see me graduate. And afterward I was living in a bedroom in my aunt’s apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, under a bed with an Afghan quilt. The sidewalks were covered with a kind of young person who was like me, but not really like me: hipsters in glasses thick as goggles, who wore clothes my aunt...
Birthday Suits & the Goonies? I will bring a... →
Jeremy: I'm in love, Mark. With amazing Elena. I Don't want to tempt fate, but I think everything's going to be totally great forever.
Mark: I'm pleased for you.
Jeremy: You don't understand, Mark. I've realized that everything's just a substitute for being in love. Reading, running in the Olympics, getting a job as a doctor...and I don't need those substitutes anymore. Elena is my one true soul mate.
Mark: It's remarkable, isn't it? That out of the 3 billion adult women in the world, your one true soul mate happens conveniently to live in the same block of flats as you, rather than, say, in a village in Mozambique.
Jeremy: Who knows how these things happen. There are powers at work beyond our understanding.
Mark: No there aren't.
Jeremy: What was it Shakespeare said?
Mark: He said a lot of things, Jeremy.
Jeremy: He basically said something about, how there are more things...there then...there are...actual things...that you can see with your eyes.
Mark: Is there?
what journalism taught me
I realized, while researching auto insurance quotes in the state of Minnesota, that I was approaching the problem as I would approach writing a story, and that even if I don’t *grow up* and *become* a journalist, it has provided me with just about the most valuable set of tools I could have as a powerless white lady trying to navigate vast bureaucracies that are designed to suck me dry of...
I went to the Kentucky Derby and all I saw was... →
An editor I had at the Washington Post told me a parable once, probably when I complained about something. A reporter had been assigned a story that was seventeen inches for 3:00 that afternoon. “Can you do it?” the editor said. “Sure thing,” said the reporter. At about 1:00 the editor swung by the reporter’s desk and said, “Make it ten inches, actually,...
Story idea where two friends wander the college grounds from the 5th year reunion to the 10th year reunion to the 15th and 25th and 45th and 50th for the free booze, only to see how their lives will turn out in an alcoholic, Cheever-esque, college-years “Christmas Carol.” Free Snapple is involved. Story idea where a girl spends her morning at the Marriage bureau and the evening at a...