A quivering of mint over the cask-wood wine-depth of brandy

“I’m certain that most of you have never even heard of the stinger, and you should not feel ashamed. An obscure after-dinner drink, eighty years past the prime of its popularity, it is enjoyed now, when enjoyed at all, not really as a digestive but almost as a kind of liquor dessert. As such, the stinger is sometimes not even considered a “cocktail,” which implies a libation to be consumed in quantity during pre-sit-down hours set aside for affected, if well-oiled, conversation. But a cocktail it certainly is, and, like all classic cocktails, the stinger has its singular pleasures.”

Scott Eden discusses life as his father’s designated stinger maker.

I’ve never had a stinger, although I’ve often considered the recipe. The creme de menthe always threw me off. Turns out that you’re supposed to use white creme de menthe, which few bars now seem to stock — that makes a big difference for my taste. I adopted the brandy-cased sidecar as my Official Drink of 2003, so perhaps the stinger would be a natural next beverage of choice….

I’ll take “Masters of the Underworld” for a thousand, Alex

“The quizmaster is describing various monsterish toys sold at Toys’R’Us and the teams are asked to identify them. The real monsters are having a difficult time. They are good with faces, but bad with names. They seem to “know” all of the monsters but cannot correctly identify them, so perhaps one member of the team will see a photograph or a replica of a scale-covered, slime-oozing ogre armed with a spiked hammer and the monster teammate says something like, “Argh! I know that guy!! What’s his name? Lives in the Shadow Forest. He used to be in my car pool!! Oh, by Valdemont’s Crack, I cannot summon his name!” And so on.”

tremble details a recent gameshow-oriented dream.

Lush life

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced yesterday that sales of wine and spirits at state stores in 2003 increased 7.7 percent over 2002. The increase is assumed to be caused in large part by changes in how Pennsylvania sells alcohol to its residents: new Sunday hours in select stores, outlet stores nears state borders, trials of liquor sections in supermarkets, etc.

The ongoing economic downturn, heightened awareness of terrorism and war, and general malaise do not seem to have considered as contributing factors.

My photocopying technique is unstoppable

“Then the world blossomed into a rainbow of possibility: I was approached by someone who said he enjoyed reading My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable. This flummoxed me because I had not given him a copy for Christmas as I did not know him. Was he perhaps on the review committee for the grant? No. And yet he had definitely read the book? The one with the karate guys yelling and cursing? Yes. After a little more prodding he admitted that his friend worked at the zine-friendly photocopy shop and had faxed him the entire book, page by page.”

David Rees details how he “self-published” his book My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable through pirated photocopies and ingenuity.

(Link via The Morning News.)

Trials of the slush pile

More on rejection… Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light discusses what it’s like to be responsible for reviewing unsolicited manuscripts. I agree with her: It’s not as easy as writers seem to think. She talks specifically about the comments at RejectionCollection.com, where writers send and react to the rejections they’ve received.

(Thanks to Inner Bitch for the link.)

A few years ago, I needed to create a template for rejection letters from Inkburns. I had been trying to respond to each submission individually but as the volume of submissions grew, individual and unique responses became impossible.

And depressing: There is no joy in telling someone, even a stranger, that I am not interested in publishing their work. I never want to quash any writer’s hopes or to deny talent, and I often doubt whether I’m making a right choice. What if I’m missing a true gem? What if I’m not well-read enough to see a work’s value? Are my biases limiting my appreciation?

All the same, as editor I have to make the decisions, and at heart I do know what I want to publish and support. So I checked out RejectionCollection.com to see what most of the writers there wanted from a submission response.

What writers seemed to want was this: To feel loved and wanted.

Obviously a submission response, and in particular a rejection, is not going to help the writer feel loved. So there’s a limit to what even the most personal submission response can do.

I settled on trying to demonstrate that the work had been considered and given full attention. I mention the writer and the work by name to show we were paying attention. I then say that the work doesn’t fit the needs of the publication at this time, but that we appreciate the writer’s interest and want to see more in the future.

I try to avoid establishing too personal a tone, as I don’t want to give false hope or leave the writer thinking that I’m looking to make friends. At the same time, I sincerely appreciate every submission and the effort each represents, and want the writers to keep writing and submitting, to Inkburns and elsewhere.

It’s still outrageously hard to reject writing. I do it, but each one is painful. I’ve thought about saying so in the rejection letters, but I think the writer is more focused on his or her own pain when reading and is more likely to be insulted to hear how I feel. So i just keep it to myself.

(Except for mentioning it here. Actually, I feel a little better having done so.)

Rejection and publication

“Two years ago, the manuscript of what was to be “Everyday Matters” was lying in a drawer. At the time, it was pretty much like the book that’s in stores today but it was called simply “A New York Diary”.

“In late January, 2002, I had lunch with a friend who had just published a monograph of his work. He encouraged me to pick a list of publishers who had made books I liked and just send out my manuscript. “Invest a hundred bucks in copies and stamps and see if anything happens,” he urged.
“So I made a list of thirty publishers and over the next few weeks, filled the mail with manilla envelopes. It took a year for twenty six of them to get around to sending me rejection letters (I’m still waiting on the last four).”

Danny Gregory shares some of the rejections he received in trying to publish Everyday Matters.

I wonder if he considered publishing it himself.

Rockwellesque tableaus of multi-generational TV-watching

Jonah Goldberg was so shell-shocked by the incident that he suffered a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder that left him completely unable to generate timely pop-culture references. “Think of the more outrageous art controversies of the recent past,” he stammered, trying to think of something, anything, that fit that bill, while stumbling around the smoking rubble of his brain. Alas, the searing blast of Jackson’s breast had left only the sturdiest, decade-old cliches intact: “Karen Finley covers herself in faux feces to say something ‘shocking’ about capitalism or something. Robert Mapplethorpe did ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ (translation: proctological) things with inanimate objects.”

Soundbitten summarizes and analyzes the right-wing hyperbole generated by the Super Bowl halftime show.

We who are about to drink salute you

A fine collection of ads this week at AdAge.com’s advertising roundup. The Beyonce/Britney/Pink ad for Pepsi is unfun–no loss that it’s intended for the European market only. (And how uncomfortable must those metal bikinis have been in the sweltering, dusty Roman air? No wonder the girls were scowling the whole time.)

More amusing are the compare/contrast ads for and against music downloading and for and against the Bush administration’s Medicare changes.