Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Writers Are Anitfragile

According to Nassim Taleb's Antifragile, artists and writers are antifragile i.e., they benefit from disorder and controversy. For example, Nabokov's Lolita, his most controversial book, made him rich and famous. (Interestingly, most of Nabokov's books contains nympholepsy.)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

500 Blog Visitors = 1 Book Sold?

I was having dinner at Má Pêche with a New York Times bestselling author when I frustratingly shared that I sell one book per (approximately) 500 unique visitors to my blog. 

Surprisingly, the author shared quite nonchalantly that he got the same results. 

Is this an unspoken rule slash phenomenon or just a coincidence?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Tenants (2005): First Coffee, Then Write

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Duolingo's French & French in Action: A Clarification

Last fall, we finished Duolingo's French skill tree. Consequently, we received an e-certificate, and we were informed that we're 52% fluent. 

Duolingo's claim that we're 52% fluent should be clarified. We're more like 52% fluent in reading French but not in speaking or writing. For example, about 50% of the time we can read the French that's peppered throughout Nabokov's oeuvre. For example, in Transparent Things, when Armande, who had a grain de beauté, setup a rendez-vous with Hugh prior to their subsequent marriage, she told him, "Now listen, tomorrow I'm occupied, but what about Friday-if you can be ready à sept heures précises?" (43)

Erard related from Krashen in Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners that "[Language] [a]cquisition happens [...] when we understand what we read or hear-not when we speak or write it, memorize vocabulary, or study grammar." (102)

Very recently, we watched all fifty-two episodes of Yale University's French in Action. Interestingly, we didn't understand 50% of the dialogue, but we understand over 50% of the transcripts. 

Next up, we'll read Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal and listen to the audio book, and we'll watch listen to twenty-five episodes of French with Victor while reading the French subtitles. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Abstract Exhibits @ The Met Breuer & the MoMA

Like Harry Lesser, we frequently visit museum exhibits. In particular, abstract exhibits and the more minimalist the better. If you're in New York, we highly recommend the Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms exhibit at the The Met Breuer and the Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction at the MoMA.

Lygia Pape (Brazilian, 1927–2004) Tecelar 1959
Woodcut on Japanese paper @ the Met Breuer

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Counter-Intuitive Contradictions

I have observed some scenarios that appear to be what I call counter-intuitive contradictions. Some examples may serve as the best way to describe what I mean:

Most secular nymphets see no problem with wearing two-piece [cheeky thong] bikinis to the beach but most would never wear their bras and panties in public. Yet, what's the difference.

Especially among the underprivileged and outside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a man wearing a pair of high-water pants would be ridiculed but a man wearing a pair of sweatpants would be ignored. Yet, what's the difference. (Strangely, this phenomenon does not apply to women.)

In White Girl (2016), which I saw advertised on the Uptown 4, a college girl and her boyfriend do cocaine, smoke marijuana, have sex on a roof with the Manhattan skyline in the background, and have sex during daylight in a moving cab, but when her boyfriend suggested that they get married, the girl opined that they were too young. 😑

Monday, April 3, 2017

Speed Reading Made Easy

I've been reading eight books - five in English, two (slowly) in Arabic and one (very slowly) in French. The English titles are:

Abbott's The End of Everything
Nabokov's Mary
Wilson's The Twenties
Dawidoff's The Fly Swatter
Mathews' Paul Gauguin: An Erotic Life

To save time, I've reverted back to speed reading. I'm not sure why I stopped. I believe that I decided to read slowly as a passive-aggressive protest against the hustle and bustle of New York City. 

I learned to speed read from Ferriss' blog post "Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes". It's a long read and there is more than one way to do it, but the short version is that to read quickly while retaining comprehension, one should read with a pen\pen or his finger and stop about two words in from the left and right margins. 

Reading with a pen forces one to read quicker and your peripheral vision will read the words that are "skipped" near the margins. 

Trust me. It works. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stolen and Found Manuscripts

I was looking for the outline of my unpublished and (allegedly) stolen children's book when I stumbled upon the over 600 page and over 91,000 word MS of The Role Model, my first (unpublished) novel. 

I was informed by a representative of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts that they couldn't pursue my case, because I had exceeded that statute of limitations, but I did get "Yes Dear!" out of the ordeal, which I published in The Poet.


The Poet took a stab at writing a novel
that didn’t sell well. Though, it was quite artful.

Then he decided to write a children’s book
that he had outlined in a cahier notebook.

How hard could it be? He thought one night.
But it turned out to be very difficult to write.

Who knew there was a method to the silliness.
The Poet’s struggles made him a bit anxious.

He read How to Write Children's Picture Books.
And read a lot of children’s picture books.

After six months the manuscript was done
and [e]mailed to every agent in Manhattan.

Soon the rejection letters came in electronically;
And he lost hope of getting published quickly.

Seven years later a former student said,
What was the name of your MS I read?

Wasn’t it titled Yes Dear!?
Yes, dear.

She was getting a PhD in child lit at MSU
when she spotted the contraband askew

upon an oak bookcase
in a Serif typeface.

Well, I just read Yes Day!
and Yes Dear! sounds like Yes Day!

She Camscanned Yes Day! into her iPhone
and sent the PDF which was almost a clone

of The Poet's unpublished book.
To which he said, "That crook stole my book!"

He emailed Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
which is an organization that imparts

counseling and pro bono legal representation
for artists who are in the statute of limitations

Dejected he said, “Well, back to poetry I go.
No, let's do a book on the history of espresso?”

Over six years ago, I let a supporter read The Role Model's MS. Days later, she handed it back to me and shook her head as if I had offered her a warm slice of slimy okra pie. For some reason, I didn't edit the MS. I didn't even ask her what was specifically wrong with my book, but I immediately sat down at a Mac and began writing Katie, my complemented but out-of-print second novel.