Saturday, September 16, 2006


The Areas Of My Expertise by John Hodgman

A Book Review by J.D. Finch

Mr. Hodgman, with this item, has produced what he chooses to call a "book" and has finally cleared the air about the hightop waders that I and other sportsman like to don to go perambulating through crystal clear streams where we pull our near brainless scaley dinners-to-be out with line and pole.

While this "fishing" is "a good thing to do" as a much better writer than Mr. Hodgman, Ernest Hemingway...Ernest-O to his strapping Cuban pool boy...said in so many exotic and accented words so the lad could understand, we should not expect the quality of writing of EH from the nonbooted Hodgman, since, as legend has it, he is more a former lit agent than a writer in the mold of writers. (As Ms. Stein would surely say if she were here, on what is loosely referred to as "The Earth" in Mr. Hodgman's "book.")

Even though for a time Mr. Hodgman and I traveled in the same literary circles, I never laid eyes on the guy and fully believe that he was avoiding me and the inevitable question that writers of Mr. Hodgman's stripe dread, ie, "So what's on the back burner?" ("Bigger" writers than Mr. Hodgman, like David Foster Wallace, might have a $8.00 per pound crustacean happily (or not) boiling away on that burner, while the humble Mr. Hodman might be found frying up a perch or even a "crappy.") Hopefully Mr. Hodgman will cover this question in his follow-up to TAOME.

True, he nearly answers this traffic-stopping question in TAOME when he lays out his expertised skivvies and grabs the bull by the horns, giving us all a good view of what he considers both "areas" and "expertise" as they appear in the title, and offered to his grateful readers -- it is said -- by way of his expert brain. But surely here he is actually dealing with "front-burner" material.

But I fear some folks who were taken in by Mr. Hodgman's sometimes "Aw shucks," at others "F*** you" humor, expected a gay excursion along a Robert Benchleyesque Roundtable of hot wit and incisive bon mots, which in fact, paradoxically, is exactly what we get. And as advertised.


(NB All the above was just an aside -- as isn't most knowledge just that on your trip to becoming whatever your calling (be it high-falutin' expert like Mr. Hodgman or low laborer, like someone called "Ace" or something) is? Or as the blue collared "Aces" among us would have it, "life's a bitch, then you die." But then again, anyone reading this is a more advanced reader than that -- or so would say Mr. Hodgman, who happily or sadly -- weather permitting -- considers himself an expert on such things.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006 Coming Soon!

And there will not only be literature there, but cool stories about literature.

In case you don’t know, literature is not something that you earn, or work for.

Literature is something that you have to do, so you do it.

Are you a good enough writer to produce literature? I won’t dignify that rhetorical question with a response. (Right there are two sentences, that, while attaining a tone of irony together, may create an effect that might be construed as merely stupid by those not ironically attuned. I don't really know.)

I’m sure there is a difference between literature and writing, but since I am a writer, I don’t know exactly what it is. Perhaps if I were a "literati" I could be of more assistance in this area. (But I still might not tell you if I did know.)

Anyway. There will be writing presented. If you think it is literature, well that's fine.

If you have some writing that you have produced and would like to try to have it appear on one of the Whirligig sites, or in the print edition, you can send it to me. If you're not sure if your writing is actual literature, well, join the club.

And remember that in this case I am the club's president.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Musical Notes From Underground

While the zine incarnation of The Whirligig is dedicated to fiction and poetry, here at the blog there is no reason why we can't cover anything in the arts and present it in essays, reviews, blurbs or any other form as the mood strikes.

So in that spirit, here is a review of Next, a music CD by Hunkasaurus and His Pet Dog Guitar ( aka Tom Hendricks of long-running zine Musea (, of which Next is a CD version. (TH = a composition by Tom.)

Songs 1-3 (Anytime at All, For Pete's Sake and How Do You Do It) Homages to a watershed period in pop music, the British Invasion of the early 60's. Tom does this stuff well.

Song 4 (Fully Automated TH) Nice short interlude instrumental. Somehow reminded me of Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive".

Song 5 (Not Fade Away) I would have preferred a bit more grit in the performance, but there's a nice twist in his "come-on/come-on" as the guitar seems to make a move of its own -- with a mind of its own.

Song 6 (Lovin' You) A Presley chestnut that didn't do too much for me here.

Song 7 (That Means A Lot) Tom has a good feel for Beatlesesque pop and as this was written by Lennon/McCartney he's on firm ground. Enjoyable.

Song 8 (Modern Art TH) Bert Jansch type melodic acoustic guitar song.

Song 9 (Secret Agent Man) Cleverly adds the James Bond guitar riff; but what happened to the third verse?

Song 10 (140 MPH TH) Simply a well-crafted pop song. Like the songs from the group America (Ventura Highway, Sister Goldenhair, etc.) that you liked in spite of yourself, it just has something.

Song 11 (I'm Alive TH) Simple in all ways: Lyric, melody and arrangement all serve the purpose of the song. Referencing Thoreau, it makes the most basic statement of existence: I'm alive.

Song 12 (Sleepwalk) With Kazoo!

Song 13 (Windy) Serviceable rendition, but I'm not a fan of the song.

Song 14 (I Will) Interesting/different arrangment of this song from "The White Album". Good double tracked vocal.

Song 15 (Grand Sweep TH) Another good change-up piece that moves things along nicely. If this CD were Sgt. Pepper's this song would be Fixing A Hole.

Song 16 (Shake, Shout, and Go TH) Good boogie based riff. This song is the definition of "catchy" and seems happy to exist just for that.

Song 17 (Harmonics TH) Tom says goodbye with a little acoustic music of the spheres.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sunday, July 02, 2006

With Bruce Hodder, Leopold McGinnis, Jack Saunders, Wred Fright and Frank Walsh.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


The reborn print version of The Whirligig, the much beloved litzine ("For all its modest, zeeny presentation, THE WHIRLIGIG is one of the most important lit journals being produced in this country." King Wenclas) will make its re-appearance at Wred Fright's F Independent Literary Festival (FILF), presented by The Underground Literary Alliance in Cleveland this July. If you can't make it and want a copy, full of great stuff from Wred, poet Frank Walsh, Canadian novelist Leopold McGinnis and others, you know who to call. (

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


"'I write hardbound books, for money,' Ernest Hemingway said.

He turned into a freak show, too. He blew his brains out. He thought the FBI was tapping his phone.

Turns out, the FBI was tapping his phone. They had a dossier on him several inches thick."

Jack Saunders