Shanah tovah--just got back from dinner at my aunt and uncle's place. At large extended-family dinners, I often get the paranoid impulse that I'm actually the black sheep of the family, somehow, and people are only occasionally turning toward me & talking to me for the sake of politeness. I acknowledge that this is delusional fantasy, but it still happens. Tonight, though, I'd brought an Indian eggplant salad I'd made, and people seemed to be taking seconds of it and were asking me what was in it, and that made me feel better.

Tuesday morning, before classes began, I got an email out of the blue from Anne Pigalle, who'd seen her name mentioned here (since I played her record at Tonic a few months ago). Everyone who haunts used record stores: snap up her album Everything Could Be So Perfect... if you happen to see it; it will ring your gentler bells. It was an auspicious way to start my first day of school, in any case. Classes seem pretty great so far, and so's the NAJP group. It appears I'm taking James Schamus's visual-narrative class, which is the one I'd been holding my breath for, as well as a solid survey of 20th-century literary non-fiction, and auditing at least one definite winner (Coco Fusco's "Critical Issues," in which we're watching a bunch of movies about watching--The Conversationand Peeping Tom are the first two weeks').

An advice request that's been sitting around for a bit (sorry--I promise I'm all caught up now):

A couple of years ago I briefly wrote occasional reviews, features, etc. for the local alt-weekly, a sojourn that ended due to personality clashes / creative differences between myself, the music editor, and the publisher, ending my writing 'career' except for occasional features in the local daily plugging friends' bands (highly unprofessional, but it's a small town) and ill-advised postings on the ILx boards. Recently a friend of mine became the record reviews editor at said alt-weekly and he has asked me if I would be interested in writing something, albeit pseudonymously due to the enmity between myself, the music editor, and the publisher. I am interested--there's a cloak and dagger "let's hoax the suits" aspect that intrigues me greatly--but worried that I would have to write in a completely nondescript manner in order to not give up the ruse, effectively negating my primary motivation for writing in the first place (vanity, of course). Plus my pseudonym would have to be fairly milquetoast also--hence no (Not The) Audrey Meadows, Jr. (a la Meltzer's (Not The) Audie Murphy, Jr). Would this be twice the work for half the fun? And any good ideas for a pseudonym? Hiram Slocumb has been rejected as too obvious, even though we are in the South.

Hmm. First question: who would get in trouble if you were found out? If nothing bad would happen to your friend, then you have nothing in particular to lose by writing like yourself. If something bad might happen to your friend, then you might have to get a little trickier. But who says that your only options are your "natural" style and bland/nondescript? Half the fun of a pseudonym is that you get to invent an entirely new worldview/style to go with it. Certain people who read lacunae know that I've been writing for a rather well-known 'zine under a pseudonym for ten years now, and that the pseudonym has taken on a personality of her own...

Back when I used to have to invent a lot more pseudonyms (when I was at CMJ), I used to Anglicize names of members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, but I don't recommend this technique. Anagrams are fun but usually unwieldy. Phone-book divination is effective for producing a convincing name, although it's not as much fun of the "you really should've gotten that" kind. Do you have a favorite movie or book about deception? Is there a character name from it you could commandeer?



previously ask for advice