Paul's collaborative writing on the web

The Inferior 4+1 is a Livejournal community maintained by Paul, lizhand, Paul Witcover, lucius-t and ljgoldstein.

Recent posts:

  • Bowery Boys Pulps March 3, 2015
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE March 2, 2015
    Interested in some Fielding-style steampunk?http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2015/03/paul-di-filippo-reviews-ian-weir/
  • New Review at the B&NR February 24, 2015
    A look at Reif Larsen's new novel:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/i-am-radar
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE February 22, 2015
    I look at the new novel by Tom McCarthy:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2015/02/paul-di-filippo-reviews-tom-mccarthy/
  • Borderlands Books Is Staying Open! February 21, 2015
    For a while it looked as if Borderlands Books in San Francisco was going to close, which would have been a terribly sad thing.  Now, though, they've come up with a program of sponsorships and it apprears they might stay open after all.  So if you have a spare $100 and like great bookstores, here's a good thing you can do with it.I wrote the following post before they figured out how they might stay in business, so it has an elegiac feel to it.  I'm still posting it, though, because it was one of the strangest things that ever happened to me, and anyway I liked writing it.  So there.Despite the fact that I get my most of my books at Dark Carnival, which is closer, I always liked heading out to Borderlands for a signing or just to see if they had something new.  Their staff is extremely helpful and enthusiastic, and they don't seem to have succumbed to cynicism or just plain exhaustion when dealing with customers.  (Believe me, I've worked at many bookstores and know whereof I speak.  There's the customer who says, "Hey, I'm glad this is out -- now I can order it from Amazon."  Or, "I can't remember the title, but it's a mystery and it has a red cover."  Or…)  And they always seemed to have the book I was looking for, even if I didn't know I was looking for it when I got there.My strongest memory of Borderlands, though, is of leaving the store one night after some event.  I remembered I'd left my car on Hazel Street, two streets over, and I set off to find it.  But, weirdly, there was no Hazel Street when I got there.  Maybe, I thought, it was really three blocks over, or two blocks and then a left turn…After I'd searched a while I headed back to the store, feeling puzzled.  Jude Feldman was just closing up, but she stopped what she was doing and took out a map of San Francisco.  And -- there was no street in the entire city called Hazel Street.I went back to where I thought I'd left the car and walked around some more.  Then, footsore and bedraggled, I headed back to Borderlands.  Jude was really closing up this time, no fooling, but she very graciously let me use their phone to call Doug so he could pick me up.  "Go home and go to sleep," she said.  "You'll probably remember where you parked in the morning."And of course she was right.  I woke up during the night and remembered pulling over two lanes to snag a parking space (parking is very tight in the area), so I had to have parked on a main street.  We headed back the next morning, and drove around, and there it was, on Guerrero Street.Only -- what was Hazel Street?  I have no idea.  I am terrifically talented at getting lost -- I've been lost in Venice and Jerusalem, and once I went up what I was convinced was the World Trade Center's Tower A only to come back down and realize that it was Tower B.  (I actually spent some time staring up at the towers, looking for a bridge between the two, which was the only way I could explain it.)  But I'd never invented an entire street before.Perhaps the store created a kind of weirdness black hole, that drew strange things into its gravitational field?  It makes as much sense as anything else.  Anyway, I was very grateful for Jude's kindness, and the welcoming atmosphere at Borderlands.
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE February 19, 2015
    Here's my take on a fine debut novel:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2015/02/paul-di-filippo-reviews-judd-trichter/

The Weird Universe explores a human and natural cosmos that is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. The usual suspects are Paul Di Filippo; Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes; and Chuck Shepherd, purveyor of News of the Weird.

Recent posts:

  • Radar Scanner Hat
    British fashion from 1951.
  • Typing to Music
  • Wearable Banana
    Dole Japan has developed what they call the "wearable banana" to be worn by marathon runners. BakeryAndSnacks.com explains: The gadget comprises wired electrical parts stuck to the inside of a banana skin, which is then sewn back together around the fruit and strapped to a runner's wrist — thereafter it shows their race time, heart rate and tweets from supporters, as well as when to eat the next banana. People have noticed the similarity (at least in name) between the 'wearable banana' and the 'wearable tomato project' (which I posted about last week). Is the one a rip-off of the other? Or is the similarity just an example of a simultaneous discovery of the concept of wearable fruit?
  • Dolphina at Bimbo’s 365 Club
    Bimbo's 365 Club is still an active music venue in San Francisco. But, according to news on their own website, they seem to have abandoned a long proud tradition: Dolphina, the miniature live nude woman who swims in a fishbowl with goldfish. How was this illusion achieved? When Dolphina was profiled in the NY TIMES in 2011, we learned: IT’S AN ILLUSION A catacomb of tunnels in the bowels of the club leads to a small room containing a rotating platform on which the live “mermaid” reclines, naked. A periscope with angled mirrors projects her image up into the fishbowl where it appears that a tiny mermaid, about six inches long, is floating in an underwater grotto. One at least hopes that the statue to an ideal Dolphina, erected in 1952 inside the club, still has a place of honor.
  • News of the Weird, March 1, 2015
    News of the Weird Weirdnuz.M412, March 1, 2015 Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved. Lead Story The Utah Court of Appeals ruled in February that Barbara Bagley has a legal right to sue herself for her own negligent driving that caused the death of her husband. Typically, in U.S. courts, a party cannot profit from its own negligence, but Bagley is the official “representative” administering her husband’s estate and has a duty to claim debts owed to the husband. Those debts would include “wrongful death” damages from a careless driver (actually, the careless driver’s insurance company), even if the careless driver was herself. Of course, if her lawsuit is successful, the monetary award would become part of the husband’s estate, a portion of which will likely go to her. [Salt Lake Tribune, 2-18-2015] Historical Weird Can’t Possibly Be True: For a brief period in 1951 and 1952, an educational kit, the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab, was for sale in the U.S. even though it came with testable samples of four types of uranium ore and three different radiation sources (alpha, beta, gamma). A surviving copy of the kit has been on display recently at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but the radioactive materials had to be removed before the kit could be shipped to Belfast. (The kit had failed to sell well; kids apparently preferred the company’s erector sets.) [BBC News, 2-16-2015] In February, the Kansas Humanities Council, providing background to a current, traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit, posted a description of a 1925 baseball game in Wichita in which the professional, all-black Wichita Monrovians took on members of the local Ku Klux Klan. (Historians guessed that the KKK risked the embarrassment of defeat only because it needed the exposure to overcome declining enrollments.) The Monrovians (champions of the “Colored Western League” the year before) won, 10-8, and the Klan shut down in Kansas two years later. [Kansas Humanities Council , 2-17-2015] Intelligent Design A 37-year-old Lancashire, England, businessman (identified in later news reports as Duane Walters), fearing surgery for suspected bladder cancer, was discovered to be cancer-free, but on the other hand, he was found to have a uterus, ovaries, and cervix--even though he has fully functioning exterior male genitalia. He was referred to Manchester University Hospital for a hysterectomy (to prevent the possibility of pregnancy)--and was counseled that he might eventually become menopausal. His condition, “persistent Mullerian duct syndrome,” is rare enough when diagnosed at birth but, according to experts cited by the Daily Telegraph, virtually unheard-of at age 37. Walters said he will continue living as a man. [Daily Telegraph, 2-7-2015] War Is Hell Least Competent Terrorists: (1) A recent YouTube-posted compilation of footage gleaned from, in some cases, unedited ISIS promotion videos, claimed to show jihadists accidentally killing themselves. Several fighters in a group photo appear to be blown up when one of them fumblingly detonates a captured bomb, and one man was killed when he apparently tried to re-load a mortar launcher too quickly. (2) London’s Daily Telegraph reported in January that the “Darkshadow” jihadists from Tunisia and Ivory Coast, who had proclaimed their website-hacking would disrupt international travel, wound up taking down a site consisting merely of bus timetables in Bristol, England. Darkshadow’s English translator also misspelled Muslim (“Muslum”). [Daily Mail (London), 2-6-2015] [Daily Telegraph, 1-2-2015] Perspective: ISIS’s very public recent executions of a Jordanian pilot and two Japanese citizens were met with starkly different reactions. In Jordan, King Abdullah II led his nation in a call for bloody revenge. In Japan (according to a February Associated Press dispatch from Tokyo) feelings were mixed because of “meiwaku”--Japan’s cultural feeling that the dead victims (and their families) were “causing trouble” by placing themselves in harm’s way. Said one man cited by the AP, “In the old days, their parents would have had to commit hara-kiri to apologize.” In fact, both victims’ families did repeatedly apologize for inconveniencing the government, which had warned citizens to stay away from the war zone. [Associated Press via Cortez Journal (Cortez, Colo.), 2-5-2015] The Continuing Crisis Point Taken: At a February meeting in New York of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, regarding whether meetings should be open to the general public, the representative from Belarus expressed alarm because of potential problems for the security staff. “What if,” he asked (according to a Reuters report), “there were topless ladies screaming from the public gallery throwing bottles of mayonnaise?” (According to the official summary, the Mexican delegate apparently earnestly pointed out that some U.N. meetings were already open to the public but as yet there were no mayonnaise-droppings.) [Reuters, 2-11-2015] CSI Netherlands: Police in the Dutch town of Haarlem, near Amsterdam, raided an urban marijuana farm after a recent heavy snowfall. In photographs of the neighborhood, all streets, yards, and roofs of houses are blanketed in white--except for a certain portion of the roof of one home, on which the snow had completely melted. Police, deducing that the attic was likely an illegal hot marijuana greenhouse, made arrests. [Daily Mail (London), 2-9-2015] News You Can Use: If you’re in pain, shouting “Owww!” has measurable therapeutic value. Writing recently in the Journal of Pain, researchers from National University of Singapore hypothesize that the muscle movements in vocalizing somehow divert or confuse pain signals, which otherwise would go unimpeded to the brain. Of subjects who plunged their hands into extremely cold water, those who were allowed to vocalize kept their hands immersed for up to three minutes longer than those who were silent. (The “oww” sound is similar in many languages and is apparently instinctive, from birth.) [International Business Times (New York), 2-2-2015] First-World Problem Solved A company called AudioQuest believes there are serious music listeners sufficiently grossed out by the imperfect sound delivered by ordinary ethernet cables (typically, with plastic connectors on each end and selling for around $20) that relief is needed. The company recently introduced the Cat-6 Ethernet cable, whose connectors are made of silver. For those who require the reportedly richer sound, relief is only $10,500 away. [Slashgear.com, 2-12-2015] The Aristocrats! Police in Glendale, Ore., arrested a 27-year-old man and his 22-year-old girlfriend after their 7-week-old son died of starvation. The couple claimed to have been feeding the boy properly, but investigators found that the pair operated an online porn business in which the mother lactated onto various items while the paying customers watched--and believe that little of the mother’s milk remained for the baby. [KPIC-TV (Roseburg, Ore.), 2-19-2015] Promoting Their Brands (1) Robert Michael Phillips was arrested in West Palm Beach, Fla., in February and faces a series of charges after police witnessed him allegedly conducting drug transactions and found heroin in his pocket and crack cocaine in his vehicle. (His rap sheet includes seven convictions and a prison stint.) On his February police intake form, under “Occupation,” Phillips stated, “Drug dealer.” (2) John Balmer, 50, was arrested at a Kmart in Hudson, Fla., in January as he attempted to pass a bag (allegedly containing marijuana and methamphetamine) to another person in line. Balmer was wearing a t-shirt that read “Who needs drugs?” above lettering that read “No, seriously, I have drugs.” [Palm Beach Post, 2-6-2015] [Tampa Bay Times, 1-6-2015] A News of the Weird Classic (July 2011) People With Issues: Self-described Las Vegas "performer" Staysha Randall took 3,200 different piercings in her body during the same sitting on June 7th [2011] to break the Guinness Book world record by 100 prickings. (Veteran Las Vegas piercer Bill "Danger" Robinson did the honors.) Coincidentally, on the same day in Edinburgh, Scotland, the woman with the most lifetime piercings (6,925) got married. Elaine Davidson, 46, wore a full white ensemble that left bare only her face, which was decorated green and sported 192 of the piercings. The lucky guy was Davidson's longtime friend Douglas Watson, a balding, 60-something man with no piercings or tattoos. [Las Vegas Weekly, 6-8-2011] [Daily Telegraph (London), 6-8-2011] Thanks This Week to Larry Neer, David Nelson, Jan Linders, and Steve Dunn, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
  • Sushi Leggings
    Get yours here. via Cliff Pickover