Saturday, December 31, 2005

go ought six!

There were so many end-of-the-year lists out there that it all begins to blur. Here are a few that caught my eye...

said the gramophone's 22 Favorite Songs of 2005

1. Robyn - Be Mine!
So what is this song? Besides a rainshower, a sunshower? What is it, besides a chance to get rainsoaked on the street and then to walk into the park? In the park everything will be too green, with flowercolour diluted by the rain and by tears. But it'll be wide and open, with lawns and strips of asphalt for you to run along, with soil and sky and space for your whipping feelings. What is it besides that? It's astonishing and complicated emotions - it's the triumph of acknowledging your own sorrow, an affirmation of sure feeling. In that way it's Dylanesque, Joyce-like: it's subtle and messily real, and Robyn makes it feel so easy to realise. And what else? What else is this song? It's a pop song - yes, for dancing and cheering, with zips and pows, with cellos that stab and whirl til the park's right here in the club, in your room, and there's space for feeling everywhere.

New York Magazine
's Cultural Elite 2005 This Year's Best

Best Depressing Novel
‘Veronica,’ by Mary Gaitskill. Happy endings may be de rigueur in the movies, but for literature’s high practitioners, grief is usually the way to go. This year, among the new books from Nobel winners alone, protagonists included a very lonely old man (Márquez), an amputee photographer (Coetzee), and a cancer patient (Gordimer). But Gaitskill’s Alison, an ex-model dying of hepatitis C, has more to offer than contemplations of mortality. The mistress of human loss and longing, Gaitskill puts Alison on a hard road to redemption that’s as beautiful as it is painful to watch.

Best Feud
Ben Marcus versus Jonathan Franzen
Like all classic literary beefs, this was a tempest in a teapot, in a year with no shortage of them. (See also n+1’s dismissal of McSweeney’s.) But Marcus’s attack in Harper’s on Franzen’s critique of obscure novelists at least brings us back to a central literary question: What should writers and readers expect from each other?

Best Blurb
Jonathan Ames, for Periel Aschenbrand’s The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own. “Ribald, outrageous, gutter-mouthed, hilarious—a startling new voice in American letters. Watch out Portnoy, watch out Caulfield, watch out Bukowski, watch out Candace Bushnell. Hell, everybody, real or imagined, just watch out! Because here comes Periel Aschenbrand!”

Underrated Writers from The Syntax of Things

"Blaise Cendrars changed the course of modern literature/poetry; it's just that not that many people know this. Read him, read him, read him and see. A writer with a vast imagination, just don't believe everything he tells you."

"Michelle Huneven is a food writer for the LA Weekly who has written two novels. Jamesland, her most recent, is part mystery part character exploration. It's not a murder-mystery, but more a mystery of origins and faith that her characters have to unravel. The book is also a great look at the vast part of LA that is only peripherally affected by Hollywood, and she also, of course, finds room for some luscious descriptions of food."

100 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Year from BBC News

32. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.

59. Oliver Twist is very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.

73. One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree.

78. One in 18 people has a third nipple.

81. George Bernard Shaw named his shed after the UK capital so that when visitors called they could be told he was away in London.

94. Bill Gates does not have an iPod.

Jessa Crispin (Bookslut): What Your End-of-the-Year List Says About You

If you share more than ten books on the New York Times Notable Books of the Year list . . .

. . . then you, too, have been bought out by corporate interests. With almost no books from small presses, only a handful of books by women, a whole lot of books by their own writers, and almost every single book published by one division of Random House or another, the New York Times Notable Books of the Year is quite possibly the most predictable best-of list put out every year.

You Ain't No Picasso's 13 Days of Mixmas

Okay guys, I'm doing something a little special for the Christmas season. I've asked twelve people I respect musically to compile small mixes of five songs max. The catch is that all the tracks have to be united by some theme of their chosing. Some of these are people who I think have great taste in music (such is the case with the first subject), but the vast majority are musicians that you most likely enjoy. It's been interesting to me to get results back both as a blogger, but also as a fan. Some of these bands have really come up with some great themes and wonderful mixes. Hopefully you guys will enjoy reading these as much as I've enjoyed putting it together.'s The Best Links 2005

If lists are your thing, rounds up more than you can probably handle.

Happy New Year all!

Friday, December 30, 2005

dukhobortsy freeroll

For those times you're struggling to find just the right word, OneLook Reverse Dictionary is here. For example, you can enter a concept like "when you're on vacation but the whole office is closed therefore you have no reason to think the work is piling up so you're uber-relaxed" and get some of these interesting results:

sleep: a natural and periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the world is suspended

Freeroll (poker): a situation that arises during poker play (usually when only two players remain) before the last card has been dealt, in which one player is guaranteed to at least split the pot with his opponent no matter what the final cards are, but where there is some chance he can win the whole pot if certain final cards are dealt.

Howard Waldrop: a science fiction author who works almost entirely in short fiction.

Dukhobortsy: a Russian religious sect founded about the middle of the 18th century at Kharkov. They believe that Christ was wholly human, but that his soul reappears from time to time in mortals. They accept the Ten Commandments and the ``useful'' portions of the Bible, but deny the need of rulers, priests, or churches, and have no confessions, icons, or marriage ceremonies. They are communistic, opposed to any violence, and unwilling to use the labor of animals. Driven out of Russia proper, many have emigrated to Cyprus and Canada.

sinecure: an office that involves minimal duties

abscission: shedding of flowers and leaves and fruit following formation of scar tissue in a plant

metamerism: the condition of having the body divided into a series of similar segments

granting a privilege or permission or power to do or not do something

I'm sure a simpler concept will yield more straightforward results.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

this week's netflix

I'm tempted to change the name of this series to This Month's Netflix, but in the interest of consistency, the name will remain.

Empire Falls: One thing I can say about this novel-to-miniseries adaptation is that it is very true to the book. Richard Russo wrote the screenplay as well as the novel and you can tell. However, some stories are better savored through the printed word. Despite some fine performances (although Helen Hunt's accent was grating), I would have rather curled up with the paperback again.

Sin City: I thought of myself as someone with a high tolerance for cinematic violence, but the brutality of this film was relentless. Even though the style was cartoonish - one memorable scene has an unrecognizable Mickey Rourke dragging a foe from a car with his head scraping along the road - it was still too much. The art direction is pretty remarkable, but it couldn't distract me enough from all the killing, beating, maiming, and torture.

Batman Begins: I admire the work of Christopher Nolan to such an extent that I wrote a long analysis of Memento for a graduate conference. I was looking forward to seeing Nolan's treatment of Batman's origins as much as I was looking forward to seeing Christian Bale with some meat on his bones after The Machinist. Sadly, I was just plain bored. I nodded off during the final fight scene and didn't even bother to rewind. The most memorable scene for me was a brief appearance of Patrick Bateman reprising his push-up skills from American Psycho.

My Summer of Love: Now this was a film I really enjoyed. This tale of two young English girls who fall in love over the course of a summer was a study in how complex the simple can be. All the actors turn in outstanding performances and the underlying darkness of the storyline is handled deftly. I can't remember the last time I was so satisfied with a film's ending.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

cold war kids

Last night, I took advantage of my vacation and stopped by Spaceland for their residency night. A semi-local band Cold War Kids turned in an impressive set. Their vocal stylings are risky but successful (Alec Ounsworth and Jeff Buckley in a melodic shouting match) and the instrumentation surprises. I'd see them again. According to their website, the newest songs are here.

the separatist rebellion of the prefixes

William Safire examines the most narcissistic prefix: meta.

Not every critic is entranced (or, to get with it, ensorcelled) by such nattering of novelistic narcissism. "Meta is part of the unearned irony of the improperly educated postmodern crowd," opines Roger Kimball, an editor of The New Criterion. "It's verbal shorthand that expresses not a depth but an absence of thought. You'll find it in the slums of contemporary literary and art criticism."

The meta craze in criticism soon reached a point of parody about self-conscious parody. On (I found it on Metacrawler, a Diogenic searcher of search engines), Stephanie Zacharek reviewed the 2002 film "Adaptation," calling it a "massively self-indulgent metamovie," adding that "if you're so meta that you're completely unimpressed with how meta it is, then you are only reinforcing the movie's point: You've been so meta-consumed by metaculture that you're no longer able to take pleasure in art."

Rarely do any of us in the language dodge find it possible to salute a lexicographer who was prescient about a linguistic development a full generation in advance. In an article in The New Republic of Sept. 5, 1988, titled "Meta Musings," David Justice, then editor for pronunciation and etymology at Merriam-Webster, was quoted as saying, "Meta is currently the fashionable prefix." The writer, Noam Cohen, added: "He predicts that, like retro - whose use solely as a prefix is so, well, retro - meta could become independent from other words, as in, 'Wow, this sentence is so meta.' If so, you heard it from me first.

the nice thing about being identical twins

This is the most f*cked up thing I've ever seen.

there are thousands of me out here

I spent a good decade and a half of my life in the service industry - working as a waitress and then moving to the other side of the bar. I was often an easy target for men flying solo and looking for some casual conversation or unrequited crush. So I was glad to see A Regular has posted his New Year's Resolutions for the Single Straight Male Diner on Craigslist. I'm especially in favor of #4:

4) I will always tip at least 20 percent, and more if I'm taking up a whole four-top during a rush.

There's nothing worse than a 3-hour onslaught of personal questions and comments on my "diaphanous" blouse followed by a 25-cent tip and a tale of impecunious woe.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

a christ child and a menorah walk into a bar

I could start a new blog based solely on my disdain for the holidays, but something about the 80 degree weather, a stack of presents to open in the morning, the quickly multiplying evidence that people are receiving my holiday cards despite the postal crush, and John Hodgman telling a Christmas tale on the radio have got me feeling spirited. The glogi I will be making later can only help.

In honor of Jesus's b-day, I'm thankful to Neatorama for sharing the work of Larry Van Pelt of Niceville, FL who woke up one night bursting with the conviction that he should draw the Son of God in his natural habitat: watching over us all in our quotidian pursuits.

In honor of my Hanukkah-celebrating brethren, I share the amusing "A Beginner's Guide" from Jonathan Safran Foer. (Click to embiggen.)

Dreidel: The dreidel is a spinning toy, painstakingly fashioned out of a plastic polymer by Jewish craftsmen in Vietnam. Used for tabletop gambling games during Hanukkah, the dreidel often ends up on the floor and sometimes in the dog's small intestine. There is a Hebrew letter on each of the dreidel's four sides. These letters abbreviate the statement: Spin it again. You have no idea what it means. You spin it again. You try to make sense of it. Spin it again? You spin it again.

My gift to everyone this Christmas is Jonathan Coulton's unbelievably awesome cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." (boing boing is my Santa.)

Los Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

bard beefcake

Once in awhile, a product enters the marketplace that has my name written all over it.

I bring you The Most Intriguing (and Sensual) Male Poets 2006 Calendar.

(Thanks to Tingle Alley.)

release me from his hammering

Some judge in New Mexico with a high tolerance for the koo-koo has just granted a restraining order against David Letterman to a female fan.

New Mexico resident Colleen Nestler filed court documents late last week, alleging that Letterman has been using code words, gestures and "eye expressions" for more than 10 years to convey his desire to marry her and train her as his cohost...As a result of Letterman's alleged methods of torture, Nestler claims she has suffered from "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation," and has been forced into bankruptcy...

It's unclear from Nestler's complaint when her "relationship" with Letterman began to sour...In her letter to the court, she claims she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after he began hosting The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS in 1993..."Dave responded to my thoughts of love, and, on his show, in code words & obvious indications through jestures [sic] and eye expressions, he asked me to come east," she wrote.

Letterman upped the ante, she claimed, when he asked her to be his wife shortly before Thanksgiving in 1993...In a teaser for his show, Letterman jokingly said, "Marry Me, Oprah," which Nestler rapidly deduced was a message intended for her.

"Oprah had become my first of many code names," she wrote. "...[A]s time passed, the code-vocabulary increased & changed, but in the beginning things like 'C' on baseball caps referred to me, and specific messages through songs sung by his guests, were the beginnings of what became an elaborate means of communication between he and myself."

Nestler did not reveal why she waited for so many years to take action against her tormenter. (We're guessing she was motivated by the recent revelation that she's not the only woman Letterman calls Oprah.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

( = ^ - ^ =) \ ( ^ o \ ) ( / o ^ ) /

I started tutoring a Korean graduate student a few months ago, and when we first began exchanging e-mail, I was puzzled by the emoticons that would dot his correspondence. While I taught him proper article usage, he taught me that (T . T) meant he was crying because he had so much work and that (* ^ ^ *) meant he was blushing because he hadn't prepared for our meeting. I hadn't realized that the world of Asian emoticons was so much richer than our :) and ;). This chart of Japanese emoticons is brilliant (they obviously have more comprehensive keyboards) - I think this is the only way I will communicate from now on.

Link via Maud Newton

so sorry, new yorkers

I work with two other ex-New Yorkers and just last week, we traded horror stories of winter commutes: taking ten minutes just to get dressed or undressed to brave the outdoors (sweater, jacket, coat, scarf, hat, gloves), trying to fit a ten-pound backpack over the bulky shoulders of our layers, climbing over mountains of snow with twenty-pound shopping bags, cold and wet feet, coming home to an apartment where the heat hasn't been turned on by the stingy landlord. But by God, at least we had the subway...

Monday, December 19, 2005

indian winter

I've been friends with Dave Fabris since we were pups, and he's the
brave soul who took it upon himself to teach me to play guitar. I
still can't understand why he's not a household name, but it may
have something to do with his eclectic projects and unconventional
sound. Fortunately, he's getting some attention for his most recent
collaboration with jazz great Ran Blake. You can buy Indian Winter
through this site and here's a taste...

David Fabris & Ran Blake - Spiral Staircase

All About Jazz, New York
December 2005

Indian Winter

Pianist Ran Blake may not have as big a name as (Jim) Hall
but he is a great
pianist who has been making striking music for
maybe as long. Indian Winter
is a collaboration between Mr.
Blake and guitarist David Fabris (a former student
and longtime
collaborator of Blake’s). The first thing that hits you is the CD’s

listed 23 tracks! The composers represented here are diverse:
from Bacharach to
Zappa, through Neal Hefti, Alex North,
Ornette Coleman and Duke Ellington. “Spiral
Staircase” establishes
the sound and rapport between the two musicians: as impressive

as the rapport amongst Hall and his collaborators yet not every
track is an actual
duo as there are some solo piano and solo guitar
pieces. Then on “Streetcar Named
Desire” Fabris uses a heavily
distorted guitar on a theme statement, later in the
same piece
employing a more typical sound. Fabris’ unaccompanied solo
guitar, heard
on Frank Zappa’s “Marqueson’s Chicken”, moves
smoothly from sound to sound and mood
to mood with ease
that belies great skill. On the levels of texture, originality,
arrangements, surprise, skill and most of all, freshness, Indian
Winter is a real

Thursday, December 15, 2005

some stories

I've been keeping track of some recent (and not so recent) on-line offerings in the fiction department, so I thought I'd share...


if you can give up google... might want to try Good Search.

The new search engine, powered by Yahoo, donates money to your charity of choice every time you search — at no cost to you. When founder Kenny Ramberg realized last year that search engines generated nearly $4 billion in advertising revenue, he started his own, aiming to donate 50 percent of the profits to charity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

and they all sang

The Seattle Weekly provides a roundup of music books for the holidays.

I would have a special fondness for Continuum Books' 33 1/3 series ($9.95 each) of monographs on classic rock albums, even if I hadn't contributed a volume published in April of last year. With 28 books in the series so far, and an avalanche more on the way, it's the longest-lived and most remarkable series compendium in all of rock writing, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

now you go straight to hell

The Roman Catholic Church is preparing to abolish limbo, the place between heaven and hell reserved for the souls of children who die before they have been baptised.

Limbo has been part of Catholic teaching since the 13th century and is depicted in paintings by artists such as Giotto and in literary works such as Dante's Divine Comedy.

The commission was first asked to study the after-life fate of the non-baptised by the late Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict is expected to approve the findings. In 1984, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the head of the Vatican's doctrinal department, he called limbo "a theological hypothesis."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

multiple partners and multiple personalities

Creative people have more sexual partners than the rest of us, say a pair of psychologists. They surveyed a hundred or so artists and poets, and claim that traits similar to those of schizophrenics explain these people's success with members of the opposite sex.

Artists and schizophrenics are known to share characteristics, and they pose a certain kind of puzzle to evolutionary psychologists. Neither artistic talent nor schizophrenia offers an obvious reproductive benefit, nor are they expected to, but does their existence suggest they might have one?

British researchers Daniel Nettle, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Helen Keenoo, at the Open University in Milton Keynes, decided to investigate by surveying 425 professional visual artists and poets, amateurs and regular people. They found that active artists had had an average of five or six sexual partners; those without artistic ambitions had had nearer four.

"I think it's to do with attention," says Nettle of artists' sexual success. "Art forms are things that hold people's attention, and that can be a powerful aphrodisiac."

kick them in the belly again?

I posted not so long ago about the Ludwig Bemelman pig fame chronicle Dirty Eddie. Now Overlook has released a new collection of his autobiographical writing, When You Lunch with the Emperor. According to Daily Candy:

Lunch takes Bemelmans further afield, from the Austrian Tyrol to the Amazon, from rustic inns in the German countryside to the glittering ballrooms of Manhattan’s grandest hotels, where the irrepressible voyager impersonates the warden of New York’s infamous Sing Sing, gets caught by the Gestapo with his toenails painted red, smuggles a contraband toy poodle aboard a ship to France, muffs his Off-Broadway debut, lets Parisian criminals nanny his young daughter, and investigates the rivalries of Ecuadorian restaurateurs.

Monday, December 12, 2005

arranging her legs in an M of receptivity

If you haven't seen it already, don't miss the long list for the Bad Sex in Fiction award.

She touched it and her fingers were light and became excited at once, and he started mumbling, "Good, good, good." She listened with wonder. This wasn't like the moans she had heard from thousands of others, but like someone suddenly recognizing something they had previously only heard about, like a boy who sees an airplane in the sky for the first time, not in a story-book, and he stands and cries out: Airplane, airplane! When she looked at him, a sigh escaped her. He was so beautiful at that moment, as if a boy and a girl were twisting inside him like two ropes or braids, intertwined, like something you see only in dreams, she thought, or in the Indian shrines, and even there it's not like this, not this pure and whole and glowing. She whispered to him eagerly, "You can do everything, you'll see, nothing will stand in the way of your courage."

all the cool kids get invited

An animated world is the only space that could contain four writers' egos.

"We started with the idea of Moe as Charles Bukowski," explains Matt Warburton, who wrote the [Simpsons] episode. "We brought Lisa in as the person who discovers in scuzzy, barfly Moe something that we've never seen before: a poet." Antics ensue, with Wolfe and fellow guest stars Gore Vidal, Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen voicing themselves. All were thrilled to participate.

graf attack

Watch this video of a gang of graffiti artists who completely cover a train while it's stopped in a station. I love the way the subway security looks on dumbfounded.

Via Wooster Collective (stop in to see some coverage of the response to Sony's graffiti-based ad campaign)

have your social constructs straight

The LA Times is diving head-long into the literary landscape. David Ulin's influence perhaps?

Writers offer the most surprising book they encountered in 2005...

Carolyn See: Hugh Nissenson's novel "The Days of Awe" (Sourcebooks Landmark) changed my life this year. It's set in New York, during a period of about two months before and after Sept. 11. But that is only one of many grimly ominous events. The point the author makes is that everyone is going to die, and THIS MEANS YOU! Thanks to Nissenson, for about a month I was afraid to go into a parking lot or walk through my own house at night or get in a car and drive. He did a wonderful, terrifying job of restating the real terms of the human condition. The book is what art should be.

More writers blog about writing in LA...

Marcos Villatoro: I’ve lived in a lot of places: Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and a little country called Alabama. My wife and I were involved in political work with poor people. This meant we lived within an environment of consistent fear (especially in Guatemala and Nicaragua, where we were based in specific war zones). In Alabama, our last home, we worked with migrant farm workers, during a time when the Ku Klux Klan liked to march through our town, demanding the Mexicans be burned out of the county.

After those difficult though wonderful, educational years, we landed in Los Angeles. It was here I could get sick. Here, I felt safe. L.A. offers the familiar: I live in a Salvadoran barrio in Van Nuys, where I can walk two blocks and get pupusas. I can’t tell you how important that is. This is a great city to have a nervous breakdown in.

And a great city to get well in too. Sometimes we relegate psychological issues to the circle of concerns of the upper middle class. Yet I know poor men and women who have come to L.A. from far away, have come here running, because of the horrors of their homelands. Here, they rest; and here, they weep. They’re allowed to mourn. They can lose control, without getting lost. Here.

The powers that be offer the best fiction and non-fiction of the year...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

marriage is for old folks

As much as I enjoyed Walk the Line, I think I may have hit my limit on musician bio pics. I'm also hesitant to learn more about one of my favorite artists of all time, Nina Simone. Her music is such pure, magical joy for me that I'm afraid to let something as common as humanity taint it. With Mary J. Blige set to star as Ms. Simone, I'm not exactly persuaded otherwise.

I'm currently enjoying the NS song "Marriage is For Old Folks":

I love dancing
Crazy romancing
Fellas advancing constantly

Marriage is for old folks
Old folks, not for me
One husband
One wife
Whaddya got?
Two people sentenced for life

I love singing
Good healthy clinging
Quietly bringing on a spree

Marriage is for old folks
Cold folks
One married he
One married she
Whaddya got?
Two people watchin' tv

I'm not ready
to quit bein' free
And I'm not willing
to stop being me
I've gotta sing my song
Why should I belong
to some guy who says
that I'm wrong?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

he was young & handsome -- his mother's hope

And you thought hairy palms were your only worry...

chainsaw chick

Awhile back, someone introduced me to the 1980 trash classic Foxes, in which Cherie Currie plays a troubled young woman who meets a tragic end. Before that, I had only known her as Joan Jett and Lita Ford's bandmate in teenage rockchick collective The Runaways. In an astounding identity evolution, Cherie Currie has gone from Runaway to Chainsaw Chick. If I didn't have a reason to travel to Chatsworth before, I sure do now.

wenlock edge

There's a new Alice Munro story in this week's New Yorker.

My mother had a bachelor cousin a good deal younger than her, who used to visit us on the farm every summer. He brought along his mother, Aunt Nell Botts. His own name was Ernie Botts. He was a tall, florid man with a good-natured expression, a big square face, and fair curly hair springing straight up from his forehead. His hands, his fingernails were as clean as soap itself; his hips were a little plump. My name for him—when he was not around—was Earnest Bottom. I had a mean tongue.

But I meant no harm. Or hardly any harm.


Monday, December 05, 2005

that far-flung, cosmetically flawless utopia

The New York Observer chronicles the celebrity magnet that is Brooklyn.

It would have seemed that, by now, few New Yorkers still cling to the old anti-Brooklyn bigotries. Who persists in seeing the borough as little more than Manhattan’s waiting room, its discard piles, its backwater wilderness? Who still considers a move there on a par with the exile eastward from Eden? Even prejudiced Manhattanites are migrating en masse to Brooklyn.

This hegira off the island into Brooklyn has been going on for years, but can no longer be understood simply as the search for cheap, mythically large apartments; rents in Brooklyn are nearly as high as those in Manhattan. It’s different now. People aspire to Brooklyn. The vector of the city has reversed itself.

Judging by today's posts, I'm apparently feeling a little nostalgic.

housing and stuff

Due to the location of my new job, I spend a lot of time looking at Frank Gehry's architecture. It's distinctive if not moving. Now, according to New York magazine, because of Gehry's latest projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn - including the proposed Atlantic Yards - New York's architectural snooze is over.

But how can we be a city of glamorous cutting-edge architecture without finally getting our own Frank Gehry building or two or—hell, sure, why not—nineteen? The first, under construction on the West Side Highway in Chelsea, is a nine-story headquarters for Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp. It’s a new Gehry iteration; instead of an exploded giant tin can, it will be boxier, more traditionally building-esque, with townhouse-size modules and wedding-cake setbacks wrapped in translucent textured glass. “We’re gonna do more things behind there, too,” Gehry says, suggesting a future Gehryfication of Tenth Avenue. “Housing and stuff.”

And next spring, construction should begin on the first Gehry skyscraper on the planet, a 74-story apartment tower (plus hospital and school) just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Given the string of abortive New York projects he’s been through (like the doomed ground-zero theater center), he doesn’t want to publish his design for Beekman Tower “until they’re sure they’re going to build.” But he showed me the renderings. For a Gehry building, it’s conservative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—a classic Manhattan skyscraper with several setbacks. But for a Manhattan high-rise it’s radical, since it will likely be clad in titanium—creased and wrinkled as if it’s a few yards of draped fabric rather than a dozen acres of metal.

from pigeons and rats to pynchon and rousseau

About five years ago, as part of a project I was directing, I spent a lot of time inside various branches of the New York public library system. One of the most impressive locations by far is the Jefferson Market branch at 6th Avenue & 9th Street. Maud Newton tells the tale of its transition from prison to library.

Friday, December 02, 2005

who needs other people?

Create your own internet radio station based on what you already like with Pandora from the Music Genome Project. It's like having a music geek friend to make recommendations without having to report back whether you think their taste is any good. So far, it seems like Pandora & I have similar collections, but there's still the element of surprise as to what song will pop up next.

Via That's Just the Booze Talking

Update: I don't this is quite as cool - possibly because I don't understand how it works - but another stale radio alternative has emerged: roadcasting. (Thanks to E.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

bah humbug

Each year at this time, I am nauseated by the annual assault of Christmas music. I truly detest holiday songs, and I think that if there is a hell and I end up there, I will spend eternity carolling. That said, I could almost stomach gorilla vs. bear's holiday mixtape and I was dismayed to discover my favorite Reverend has his own Christmas album. Forces are conspiring against me...

injured bad

This (fake?) commercial for health insurance is adorably hilarious. While you're there at Revver, take a look around at their other offerings.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

generic containers for pure female electricity

I missed Mary Gaitskill at Skylight a few weeks back and this interview at Nerve makes me regret it even more.

Today, it seems that many young women writers — who are the age you were when you wrote Bad Behavior — are calling for a return to a certain prudishness. For example, in Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy argues that women are copying men's ideas of how women should be sexually brazen and inflicting that on other women.

Yeah. I don't know what I think of that. Actually I do know what I think of that. It's kind of complicated. When people make those kinds of sweeping statements, it's some impulse to adjudicate what Women — with a capital W — should be doing. And it really so much varies. The problem for me with some of the seeming brazenness that was fashionable for a while is that it can be forced also. Because if a person doesn't feel like being brazen or doesn't want to do that, they shouldn't. I think a lot of times women who really display sexually are covering up a lot of fear. A confidently sexual person doesn't have to announce it all that much. But if it's who you are — if you love to get dressed up in the big heels and the tiny skirt and the wig and the whatever, why not? But I don't feel like that should be idealized any more than the modest, demure person. The same woman can feel both ways on different occasions.

goodnight fine cut

Jimmy Beck turns in a smokin' ode to Clement Hurd on hearing the news that the jacket photo of the Goodnight Moon author will be posthumously altered to remove the cigarette from his hand.

Update: A New York Times op-ed by Karen Karbo asks: why stop at the cigarette?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

tai shan meets the press

I wish I could mainline a drug distilled from the cuteness of baby pandas.

lovecraft circus

Via The Onion a.v. club, H.P. Lovecraft meets Family Circus.

if it weren't for the words

I've been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks...The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Told Entirely in Emoticons

Monday, November 28, 2005

chloroform in print

Sam Jordison's The Joy of Sects: An A-Z of Cults, Cranks, and Religious Eccentrics has been published in time to join my dissertation bibliography. Its English bent might not reach the California shores of my project, but it's an intriguing collection nonetheless. You can get a taste at his Guardian list: "Top 10 Books on Cults and Religious Extremists."

Literature would be considerably poorer without cults and religious extremists. They've inspired some fine novels and riveting eye-witness accounts as well as producing rainforests' worth of mad, bad and thoroughly dangerous books themselves.

While we're on the subject, I'm thankful to LA Brain Terrain for turning me on to the work of Erik Davis and his essay, "The Alchemy of Trash: The West Coast Art of Spiritual Collage."

absolut corruption

stay free! daily reports on the lawsuit filed by Absolut Vodka against the blogger who created this fake - although not false - ad.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

december: the month of no significance

Even though the year has yet to end, Amazon has released its editor picks for the Best CDs of 2005, with Sufjan Stevens leading the list. (Mr. Stevens also tops Information Leafblower's Top 40 Bands in America Today.)

Update: The New York Times disses December as well with its 100 Notable Books of the Year.

Monday, November 21, 2005

kryptonite to the female resolve

Is he cute or is he British?

When it comes to the attractiveness of British men, American women are simply incapable of rendering a proper judgment. Bad teeth, the unibrow, Guinness bloat, doesn’t matter; hell, we think Tony Blair is hot. Studies have proven that British accents are, in fact, the number one cause of hot women dating nerdy men. (Number two cause? Woody Allen.) There’s nothing wrong with dating men who have British accents; Madonna liked her husband’s so much she got one of her own. But there are scoundrels out there—those who use their cute British accents to lure innocent birds to their flat for a friendly game of hide the blood sausage. Sorry.

The following prompts will help as you try to decipher whether your new bloke is a winner or a wanker. Beware the British accent, ladies, and remember: The country that gave us Shakespeare also gave us Simply Red.

Friday, November 18, 2005

the inconvenience of his misrepresentation

From the Best of Craigslist, a Men Online Hall of Shame and the corrective A Simple Lesson for Guys Posting Personals (from Another Guy).

Try to tell a little something about yourself without bragging! (You, yea you! Guy who constantly posts a picture of himself leaning against a stupid Ferrari and wearing loafers with no socks – that counts as bragging, buddy!) Just be honest. Do you like the outdoors? Do you have any interesting hobbies that you could share with another person? Maybe you watch a lot of television, and you want someone you can discuss your favorite shows with… Most importantly, just be open and honest! Women dig that shit… Weird, huh?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

all that glitters is not gold

Glam rocker Gary Glitter is wanted in Hanoi for sleeping with underage girls.

Residents of the picturesque tourist town on the mouth of the Saigon River had also complained about his singing, the paper said.

literary crushes

Slate profiles the books famous people loved in college. Daphne Merkin covers one of mine:

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy. I read it for a class taught by Catherine Stimpson in my senior year at Barnard, and if I were grateful to her for nothing else, I would be grateful to her for introducing me to that novel. I was immediately riveted by its casual yet urgent style, as though there were a secret message running through the book that you would be able to detect only if you paid careful attention to what appeared to be its many inconclusive scenes and exchanges of throwaway dialogue. It remains for me an unutterably prescient book about so many things: the impact of celebrity on earthlings; the yearning for some kind of transcendental meaning in the midst of a secularly ordained universe; the possibility of romantic love even for the inveterately cynical (Binx); the limitations of romantic love, even for the nuttily hopeful (his cousin Kate); the temptations and arrogance of outsiderism; the pathos of emotional illness (Kate) and physical illness (Lonnie, Binx's half-brother).

where you lay your head

I slept upstairs from members of New York's new avant-garde for a good six months and was none the wiser.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

as opposed to purely popular

Forbes presents a slide show of literary tastemakers. I don't know if I agree with the choices, but the pictures are nice...

It is common to think the world is becoming increasingly illiterate and inattentive. The many media that compete for our attention are louder, brighter and faster than books. Libraries, bookstores and publishing houses are swallowing budget cuts and layoffs. The National Endowment for the Arts says that literary reading is in dramatic decline. At the same time, truly interesting and original literature continues to be published--and not all of it is languishing in the sale bins at Barnes & Noble.

get behind me conan o'brien

The White Stripes enlisted Michel Gondry for their latest video, "The Denial Twist."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

we duly felt the right anguishes

The Elegant Variation has a fitting round-up of links in tribute to the late John Fowles (1926-2005).

no didion?

Feminista!'s 1998 list "100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women" caught largehearted boy's attention and thereby mine. It's not like it's out of style.

Monday, November 14, 2005

country club

If I had to pick one genre of music to have in my life - a horrifying prospect - it would probably end up being the smart female-fronted americana of Neko Case, Freakwater, Carla Bozulich, Lucinda Williams, Kelly Hogan, and Edith Frost, just to name a few of its members. Well, it's been a happy time around the escapegrace household lately, due to much new music emerging from these quarters.

I already mentioned Freakwater's new album, Thinking of You. Neko Case is playing within walking distance of my new apartment next week, and Freakwater will play at another nearby venue in December.

Edith Frost's new album It's a Game comes out on November 15th. Popsheep has two mp3s for download: "Lovin' You Goodbye" and "Emergency" (scroll down). said the gramophone has "What's the Use."

3hive has Carla Bozulich and Willie Nelson sharing vocals on one of my favorite Geraldine Fibbers' songs, "Hands on the Wheel," which was originally written by Mr. Nelson. Carla's site has many mp3s - including the excellent Bobbie Gentry cover, "Fancy."

Kelly Hogan has formed "motley madrigal quartet" Love Hall Tryst with John Wesley Harding, Nora O'Connor, and Brian Lohmann and released the album Songs of Misfortune.

Lucinda Williams is most likely resting after her last album, Live @ the Fillmore, although I heard talk of a sequel.

In a suprising development, it even looks like Cat Power's making a bid for membership.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

hoarding and lording

Stephen Metcalf anatomizes the rock snob in Slate.

Snobbery is as woven into the human fabric as the sexual and aggressive impulses it seeks to refine. It's no accident, then, that Rock Snobbery emerged just as young people started dressing in blue jeans and pretending that social class didn't matter. Adolescents simply found novel ways—ways more acceptable to their newly egalitarian pretenses—to marginally differentiate themselves from one another. Musical taste was one such method, and for a small but increasingly demented subset of the population (interestingly, almost exclusively boys), having good taste in, and encyclopedic knowledge about, rock music became an almost Ahab-like obsession. During the heyday of rock and roll, when everyone
was aspiring to be at least a little rock snobby, this irritating geek-pedant wasn't so easily dismissed. But the times they have a-changed. Young people (or the lucky among them) are learning to flaunt the blandishments of their elevated social class without embarrassment; rock music as a going concern is next to dead; the Rock Snob has ossified into a vaguely pitiful cultural type. He now stands, that Einstürzende Neubauten rerelease tucked under his arm, awaiting your abuse.

why do you keep kicking yourself? stop

What if Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had been inspired by another piece of graffiti?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

this week's netflix

Oh, Netflix, I've been neglecting you. This is about two months' worth of movies.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
: This is a wild and disturbing portrait of the dance marathon craze that took off during the Depression, promising prize money for outlasting other dancers (this term being used very loosely) in a sadistic weeks-long competition. The history behind the film's subject is fascinating, and Sydney Pollack does an amazing job of capturing the despair and desperation. Highly recommended.

In the Mood for Love: This film about unconsummated love between two married people in Hong Kong is long on atmosphere and relatively short on plot, but the ambience - and Maggie Cheung's gorgeous dresses - create a mood of beauty and melancholy.

Me, You, and Everyone We Know: I adored Miranda July's debut feature. It's a lovely caricature of loneliness and a testament to the hope that you can find if you bother to try. A friend had coincidentally watched it the same weekend, and we listed scenes we loved for a good half hour during our next conversation. Also highly recommended.

Dear Frankie: I rented this DVD in an attempt to see more of actress Emily Mortimer, and while she was good, the story was pretty sappy and the ending was just plain unfounded.

Monday, November 07, 2005

adaptation mania

There are a number of book-to-film adaptations about to be released that are of interest:

  • Hollywood producers think they can remain faithful to an adaptation of Milton's 12,000 line blank verse poem, Paradise Lost. In the words of the production company, ""Paradise Lost represents the epitome of mythology in that it is the oldest myth with a capital M." I am overwhelmed by faith in this project.
  • Moving into the modern age, Richard Linklater has begun shooting an adaptation of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: "In September, The Austin American-Statesman reported that the drama, written by Linklater and Schlosser and starring Catalina Sandino Moreno ('Maria Full of Grace'), is hiding under the sheep's clothing of a pseudonym. The false name - 'Coyote' - was chosen, the newspaper said, to help the production gain access to franchise restaurants and other industry locations that might be off-limits if the movie's true source material were known."

the lonely task of reconciling two worlds

When I was in college, I lived with seven other women in various housing arrangements through the years. Of the eight of us, three had divorced parents and the others' parents remain married to this day. (I attribute the fact that we were statistically below the national divorce average to our attendance at a Jesuit university.) Flash forward to the present day: the three women with divorced parents are not married, while all the rest have been espoused for years. Coincidence? I think not. And neither does Elizabeth Marquardt:

Even in a "good divorce," in which parents amicably minimize their conflicts, children of divorce inhabit a more difficult emotional landscape than those in intact families, according to a new survey of 1,500 people ages 18 t0 35.

"All the happy talk about divorce is designed to reassure parents," Elizabeth Marquardt, author of the study, described in her new book, "Between Two Worlds." "But it's not the truth for children. Even a good divorce restructures children's childhoods and leaves them traveling between two distinct worlds. It becomes their job, not their parents', to make sense of those two worlds."

les livres succulents

Helena Frith Powell argues French women are sexy, partly because they read, in her Top 10 Sexy French Books.

See also: Ten Writers Admit to the Things They've Taken from Joan Didion

there is genius behind the stupidity

Don't miss Andy Dick as Harlan McCraney, Presidential Speechologist.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

just what the world needs: another bad novel

ABC has announced plans to introduce a Lost subplot about a character named Gary Troup, a fictitious author who supposedly perished in the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, but left behind the manuscript on which he had been working, having dropped it off with his publisher just days before boarding the fatal flight.

Here's where the line between fact and fiction blurs: Hyperion Books, ABC's sister publishing label, is actually putting out said manuscript in book form this spring--here in the real world--to coincide with the related episodes of Lost.

Titled Bad Twin, the private eye thriller is said to be about a rich heir's search for his devious sibling.

you deserve to read nothing but Trollope

Robert Birnbaum interviews Jonathan Lethem over at The Morning News.

Any innovation is a sort of howling red flag. Though I doubt red flags howl—a three-word mixed metaphor. It’s in the nature of the innovations to demand disproportionate attention and description, when often they comprise 10 or 15 percent of what I’ve tried to do. In fact, I think I’ve demonstrated an unwavering, and quite extensive commitment to character, narrative, and emotion, beginnings, middles, ends, the sturdiest of traditional methods—I’m hardly on some avant-garde frontier. There’s simply one thing I do, and it’s not out of—as you proposed in your question—any restless urge to be original or provocative. Instead, it’s a helpless instinct, one I’ve been expressing from the very beginning in my work, and I suppose I’ll never quit: That is, to push together realistic character and emotion, and naturalistic or mimetic textures, with the stuff of dream, fantasy, symbol—and to make the fit between these different areas very prominent. Aggressively prominent...

American writing, its roots in Poe, Twain, Melville, and extended through Faulkner and, for gawd’s sake, everyone else—is encompassing, courageous, omnivorous. It gobbles contradiction, keeps its eyes open, engages with the culture at every possible level. But boundaries being crossed make the inhabitants of the increasingly isolated castle of the status quo all the more anxious. If we’re free to use these methods, allowed to talk about everything we know, if we are allowed to describe the world of advertising, the world of capitalism, the world of pop culture, the actual world where the elements described as of high- and low-brow are in a constant inextricable mingling—if we let down our guard, where will our status emblems be? What credentials will we burnish? How will we know we are different from the rabble outside the gates? Again, it’s sheerly class anxiety that is expressed in these attacks. And, as well, a fundamental discomfort with the creative act, with the innately polymorphous, the innately acquisitive, curious, exuberant and engaged tendencies in the creative act itself.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

this scurvy and disasterous world of ours

Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy has always blown me away with its postmodern tricks, devised long before there was even a modernism. Now - as everything shall be eventually - it's on-line.

I live in a constant endeavour to fence against the infirmities of ill health, and other evils of life, by mirth; being firmly persuaded that every time a man smiles, -- but much more so, when he laughs, that it adds something to this Fragment of Life.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

it may not look so good right now

One of my best friends was uprooted by the Katrina devastation, and she's asked that I pass on a song by Jessie Moore that speaks to what she and other residents of New Orleans have been feeling. It was written by Anders Osborne with J.M. Ragsdale.

Jessie Moore - It's Gonna Be OK

Saturday, October 29, 2005

if only my life were that exciting

Someone just came to this site through a google search for the question: "What medications can cause a frequency in nightly ruination?" I believe that would be the narcotic family, sir.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

terror prevention pen

A pen filled with pig's blood has been developed to deter homicide bombers by splashing them with the defiling liquid to prevent their access to the 72 virgins.

the city and the camera

There are two L.A.-centric exhibits on right now that are worth a look:

At Design Within Reach, German photographer Peter Loewy showcases LA icons and their favorite views of the city.

At the Gagosian Gallery, Ed Ruscha updates his documentation of Hollywood Boulevard and every building on it 31 years later.

Between 1962 and 1978, Ed Ruscha produced seventeen influential artist's books, usually self-published and in small print runs. Perhaps the most well known of these books is "Every Building on The Sunset Strip," published in 1966, which shows a famous stretch along Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. In 1973, Ruscha followed the same procedure, this time documenting Hollywood Boulevard, producing two continuous panoramic views of the north and south sides of the street. Loading a continuous strip of black & white 35mm film into his motor-drive Nikon F2 and then mounting it on a tripod in the bed of a pickup truck, Ruscha drove back and forth across the entire length of the street, shooting it frame-by-frame. The negatives were developed, but never published.

In 2004, the artist re-shot Hollywood Boulevard. The same type of camera equipment was used to re-photograph the street, but this time on 35mm color-negative film. In "THEN & NOW," the original 1973 panoramic images run parallel to their 2004 versions – documenting the changes that have occurred over three decades.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I didn't know they had lawyers in Canada

The Winnepeg-based group [The Wyrd Sisters] has conjured up a $40 million lawsuit seeking to block the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in North America all because the film features a performance with a same-named band fronted by Cocker and backed by members of Radiohead.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

where can I find a martini glass with a nib?

I had never heard of National Novel Writing Month until this year when a good friend actually subjected herself to the madness. Now this sounds like more fun...National Drunken Writing Night.

Monday, October 24, 2005

fighting only on port side

The Guardian profiles Dave Eggers and his new book chronicling the daily lives of teachers.

The book's theme is an old teachers' favourite: pay. It makes a compelling case for investment in education to be put in the pockets of the teachers. Pay them, it argues, and their wealth shall trickle down into the community, the economy and the future. It is hard to disagree.

prussian blue

They may remind you another famous pair of singers, the Olsen Twins, and the girls say they like that. But unlike the Olsens, who built a media empire on their fun-loving, squeaky-clean image, Lamb and Lynx are cultivating a much darker personna. They are white nationalists and use their talents to preach a message of hate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Over the next week, I will be moving to a charming new apartment in Los Feliz and starting a brand-spanking new job, so if posting is on the minimal side, rest assured I will soon return with novel adventures and observations. Thank you for your patience.

have no fear, look who's here

Daniel Craig is yummy enough to actually get me to see a Bond film. He was the only redeeming factor in Sylvia and Enduring Love.

enough to make a girl stick around

In his new book, former Clinton advisor Dick Morris argues that the 2008 presidential election will be all woman, all the time: Hillary Clinton vs. Condoleezza Rice. You can read more of the excerpt here.

If the thought of another Clinton presidency excites you, then the future indeed looks bright. Because, as of this moment, there is no doubt that Hillary Clinton is on a virtually uncontested trajectory to win the Democratic nomination and, very likely, the 2008 election. She has no serious opposition in her party. The order of presidential succession from 1992 through 2008, in other words, may well become Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton.

But her victory is not inevitable. There is one, and only one, figure in America who can stop Hillary Clinton: Secretary of State Condoleezza 'Condi' Rice. Among all of the possible Republican candidates for President, Condi alone could win the nomination, defeat Hillary and derail a third Clinton administration.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

the jam of life

John Dicker contemplates the complexity of Wal-Mart product marketing.

Wal-Mart’s purgative tendency emerged in the mid 80s when it heaved magazines as innocuous as Tiger Beat — lest a Simon LeBon centerfold enrage the base of Jimmy “I have sinned against you” Swaggart in his short lived jihad against rock and roll.

On the other side of the coin, Wal-Mart has hosted both Clintons to hawk their respective mea culpas. They even welcomed that wholesome heartland honey Paris Hilton to promote her masterpiece of ghostwriting, Confessions of an Heiress. More significantly, the country’s largest employer deemed gays and lesbians worthy of protection from discrimination, though they stopped short of springing for domestic partner benefits.

And yet… they still won’t sell the morning after pill.

And yet… they sold the hell out of Fahrenheit 911 on the eve of last year’s election.

Confused yet?

You should be.

where was this kit during my oat-sowing days?

This kit from Urban Aid includes a mini-toothbrush & paste, a thong, 3 condoms, a phone card, painkillers, and a pre-written pillow note.

Monday, October 17, 2005

the little pearl-encrusted scythe

The Names of the President and the Members of the Presidential Cabinet According to the Etymological Backgrounds of Their First and Last Names, and of Their Middle Names When Available

rhapsody on the sea

The British Royal Navy lip-synchs to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in this video that is both very funny and very sad, considering the song's lyrics and the state of the world.

the buzz of implication

In the LA Times, David L. Ulin reflects on how literature is more important now than ever.

Occasionally, though, it is an external disruption that provokes a literary crisis of faith. That's what happened to Jane Smiley, who had always found writing an unencumbered, even joyful, process — until Sept. 11, 2001. When those hijacked jets slammed into the twin towers, Smiley was in the middle of her ninth novel, "Good Faith," which revolves around infidelity and real estate and takes place early in the Reagan years.

Suddenly, she could no longer connect to fiction: It didn't seem to matter anymore. "I came up with all sorts of diagnoses for my condition," she writes in "Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel," a new nonfiction work that grew out of her need to reaffirm her belief in literature. "The state of the zeitgeist was tempting, but I refused to be convinced. I reminded myself that I had lived through lots of zeitgeists over the years, and the geist wasn't all that bad in California…. [But] I felt scattered. Even after I lost my fascination with the images and the events, my mind felt dissipated and shallow."

Four years after Sept. 11, with "Good Faith" long since published, Smiley elaborates by phone from her Carmel Valley home. "I think I underestimated what a shock those attacks were," she says, her voice soft, textured with a Midwestern twang. "I expected to get back to work. And then, the stuff that came afterward — anthrax, Afghanistan, Iraq — just compounded the feeling of intrusion. It was impossible to get away."

Part of the story of Sept. 11 is that it altered everything, although whether that's accurate remains a subject for debate. More certain is that many writers, and especially fiction writers, have had trouble taking on the attacks and their aftermath in any convincing way. As to why this is, Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul recently told the New York Times Book Review that fiction's time is over: "What I felt," he argued, "was, if you spend your life just writing fiction, you are going to falsify your material…. I thought nonfiction gave one a chance to explore the world, the other world, the world that one didn't know fully."

Still, for all that Naipaul's comments reflect a larger issue — the perception that fiction or, more broadly, literature is no longer able to address our historical moment — there's a way in which they miss the point. Fiction, after all, has never been about history; rather, it has to do with (in E.M. Forster's phrase) the "buzz of implication," the subtle nuances of how we live.

Friday, October 14, 2005

fried bread and a cool million

Harold Pinter has won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature. He will receive 10 million kronor (about $1.3 million). From 1957's The Birthday Party:

MEG. Is it nice?
PETEY. I haven't tasted it yet.
MEG. I bet you don't know what it is.
PETEY. Yes, I do.
MEG. What is it, then?
PETEY. Fried bread.
MEG. That's right.

Mmm. Fried bread.

sometimes tenure denial is just tenure denial

A University of Chicago professor suspects he was denied tenure because of his blogging ways.

Web lore abounds with tales of people being fired for blogging about their jobs, but it seems to be an especially touchy issue in the academy, bound by both tradition and a tendency to discredit work done in the public sphere.

The concern, as elucidated by Drezner on his blog and in an August Tribune article on the dangers of blogging, is that maintaining a Web log will be seen as a diversion from the real scholarship an academic ought to be doing.

It could also be viewed, a widely discussed opinion piece published in the Chronicle of Higher Education argued, as a sign that this person, once tenured, is likely to tell tales out of school. And it could allow one's other work to be interpreted, in light of the blog, as glib or frivolous.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


David Byrne has found time - when he's not hanging with the Arcade Fire - to transform a Stockholm factory into a musical instrument open to the public.

The organ's keys and stops are linked to dozens of clear plastic tubes that pump air through the factory vents to make a range of whistle noises, bang hammers that clank against hollow iron pillars and start four engines ranged on the roof.

The resulting cacophony is deafening and the factory, which dates from 1889 and once produced guns, combine harvesters and more recently paint, briefly sounds like it has been granted a new lease of industrial life.

"It's a very democratic instrument, everyone is reduced to the same amateur level," said Byrne.

In other 'how are they spending their time now?' news, The Dead Kennedys cancelled a show in Los Angeles because it was sponsored by Coors. Can you blame 'em? (Via Brooklyn Vegan)

booker surprise

John Banville has won the Booker Prize for his novel, The Sea. The Elegant Variation has an extensive interview with him here.

boys will climb

Wooster Collective profiles this excellent s(tree)t art from Vancouver.

exposing the hustler

#1 Hit Song and Stephen Beachy of New York magazine argue that JT LeRoy is a hoax perpetrated by a failed writer named Laura Albert.

Beachy's chief revelation is his disconcerting discovery that everywhere JT goes, the mysterious and annoying Laura Albert follows. Albert, who has gone by a number of assumed identities, appears to be the nexus of every personality quirk, timeline fallacy, and impossible-to-prove-or-disprove mystery surrounding JT's background. Without recapping the entire article, I'll merely say: There's a mountain of evidence that she is, in fact, JT--and her mother and sister appear to be in on the ruse as well.

So why has the unraveling of the JT LeRoy hoax taken so damned long? Because, like Fox Mulder, people Want to Believe.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

breaking news

I am employed.

Update: And I have a new apartment!

attractive women are known to write better books

Emma Garman uses Lauren Weisberger's Everyone Worth Knowing to suggest chick lit novels are all written by a supersecret computer program. (Via Maud Newton)

1. Offer Two Potential Love Interests

The first rule is inviolable. Typically one suitor is wealthy but unstable while the other is decent but elusive (he’s the One, but it must take the book 300 pages to arrive at this stunningly obvious fact). In Everyone Worth Knowing, heroine Bette’s caddish option is wealthy Brit Philip Weston, a campy socialite whose family money has shady sources. In other words, Fabian Basabe with an English accent. The One is a hunky aspiring chef named Sammy. This isn’t a spoiler; his destiny as Bette’s true love is crystal clear the moment he appears, on page 16, mainly because he’s rude to her. (The One is always a bit peevish at the beginning.)


feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger

M.I.A.-loving comedian Aziz Ansari and his roommate had a bet. Whoever lost the competition to create the shittiest mix tape would walk through the streets of New York, blaring the collective entries from a boombox. Watch Aziz groove to the dulcet tones of Gloria Estefan's "Conga" and the Dawson's Creek theme.
(Via Lindsayism)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

inside the third policeman's dressing room

Since word leaked that Flann O'Brien's novel The Third Policeman will be guest-starring in tonight's episode of Lost, the book has sold five years' worth of copies and cracked the Amazon Top 100.

Attention, everyone: on next week's Lost, the castaways will discover the hatch is actually insulated with pages from a dissertation by a charming young woman living in Los Angeles, and her unpublished novel will hold the key to their escape from the island.

the secret lives of girls

Experts Agree: Barbie Is a Slut (but not Fulla).

Some recent books highlight girlhood’s splendor, and with them comes an increasing awareness surrounding two very important facts. The first is that our preparation for womanhood and the formation of ideas about being female begins long before its actual onset. The second: Barbie is an absolute slut.

Find out why in the latest issue of Bookslut. You can also find a fascinating portrayal of Ruth Gruber: "the youngest Ph.D. in the world" circa 1935, escort of 1,000 Holocaust refugees to the U.S. in 1944, and most recently, author of a book about her acquaintance with Virginia Woolf (who is not a slut).