Monday, December 29, 2008

Pubs in Belfast

At the top of the list is certainly John Hewitt, so named after a Northern Irish poet (Note to Self: read John Hewitt). According to the woman from the TI office, they promote the art of conversation: hence no TV screens and no background music. They have open mic some nights a week and lunch menu that looks all the more enticing because they stop serving food at the end of lunch hour.

Kelly Cellars advertises itself as the oldest pub in Ireland. Dave doesn't buy that, and what does it matter? It's not like beer ages well. I say, a bar is only as old as its oldest patron. The crowd here is between 25 and 65. We met a local woman out on a date with a Brit who's traveling around the world. Also a bunch of people who taught Dave how to say Cheers in Irish. We both had some girley drinks: hot Bushmills for me and a shot of Baileys for Dave. The British guy recommends Bushmills distillery as an excellent tour, a North Irish equivalent to the Jameson Factory in Dublin.

Maddens could've been fun if we weren't too shy to talk to people. But we were on our first drink of the day and wrote postcards instead.

The Duke of York is located in a charming alley with plenty of outside seating for smokers. It's well painted on the outside and richly decorated on the inside and is all kinds of other good things -- unless you're starving. Then even the cute guy smoking in the alley won't convince you that the place got sandwiches. Starving people don't think well, that's why they invented a menu.

White's Tavern serves lunch even if you missed the lunch hour. But if you're asking for a sandwich, make sure to have a sandwich in mind!

The Deer's Head might be a lot of fun on weekends if you're not ordering food. On a quiet Monday night all it's got to offer is its benign Victorian interior and curry that tastes jut like boiled, frozen, and microwaved gravy with a hint of spice.

Note to self: pastry shops.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yesterday the Royal Guard played a nice selection of Christmas Music. Apparently, Their repertoire is quite silly, indeed:

My Outlook is stuck in an email downloading purgatory: it can't stop itself from downloading.

An interview with Tamim:

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Harold Pinter died. No Man's Land is playing in London -- see if we can get tickets. Today is Boxing Day, whatever that means.

Last time we were in London for one night only, on our way to Athens. We spent the night in Soho, going from a cafe to a wine bar to a pizza parlor. Then we trekked to Paddington, to the train station back to Heathrow. This time, we're staying at a hotel near Paddington and this is causing that spooky wow, I know what's around the corner feeling. Christmas Day in London is populated by tourists (Brasil and Spain, Eastern Europe, Korea), pool hall in the China Town, Indian restaurants and Middle Eastern pastry shops. If you're interested in Tandoori, please make your enquiiries witihn.

I read Sloan Wilson's "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" in transit. I got the paperback at a white elephant gift exchange, but the first page captivated me and I kept reading. It takes the wrong turn somewhere down the middle, but the best and the worst passage are on the same page close to the end of the book. Tom Rath, the man of the aforementioned suit, delivers a very thoughtful speech about beeing a 9 to 5 man and working for money but living for his family. And then his boss, a genuinely likable workaholic and millionaire Hopkins freaks out in an Ayn Rand fashion: "Somebody has to do the big jobs! ... This world was built by men like me! To really do a job, you have to live it, body and soul! You people who just give half your mind to your work are riding on our backs!" And then he goes back to being himself.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


End of Capitalism Sale: 75% off books at Small Press Distribution (SPD):

Books I would buy if I hadn't read them already:

Books I will most likely buy:
Alfred Jarry's The Supermale should also be excellent and crazy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill

It's always great to find a St. Petersburg reference on the second page (fine, 4th if you count one page for the epigraph and one blank page) of a new novel: "principally he was pitiable -- like one of those Petersburgians of yesteryear whose duties have washed him up on the wrong side of the Urals." This, talking about a London Englishman who misses life in NYC. I wonder which Petersburgians he means? Surely, many of them have found themselves in Siberia in the past, but who has ever done it out of the call of duty (vs. being imprisoned and sent to a labor camp)? Nobody comes to mind who might readily justify the metaphor. Perhaps, there's a confusion of mountain ranges here. If by "yesteryear" O'Neill means the 19th Century, then, yeah, duty frequently found "Petersburgians" on the wrong side of Caucausus mountains (i.e., Pushkin). Of course, he might be speaking of "duties" ironically, because since everybody knows that nobody goes to Siberia out of their own whim, so isn't it funny to imagine some old-fashioned Petersburgians with their quaint ideas of duty going to Siberia on purpose? But why Petersburgians then? Wouldn't Moskovites look as funny trying to cross over? This Petersburgian is confused.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Congratulations! You've won a $10 Gift Certificate to Green Apple Books at 506 Clement Street @ 6th Ave - Inner Richmond courtesy of and Green Apple Books!

Exciting! Of course, it's also totally evil. This store has books. and magazines.

Leda & Leda

New blog hasn't set in yet. I would love to be able to post a meaningful entry at the end of each writing session, but I'm so rarely satisfied with my writing sessions! So instead of posting, I brood. I'm deeply envious of those who are able to brood in writing.

I've been writing a character named Leda. Today I read a Fanny Howe's story where she uses the name. My Leda and hers have nothing in common with each other. In fact, my character would be happy at the coincidence, since she picked the name herself. She thinks it's a better way of spelling Lida, and Fanny Howe certainly confirms. Her character is classy, if not nice. My Leda is definitely not nice. Still, I'd much rather the name were unique.