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).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

who you callin' a superannuated teenage golem?

The Onion A.V. club has a blog (news to me) and a recent post documents a dust-up between writer Harlan Ellison and Mike Krahulik, the artist behind webcomic Penny Arcade.

Short version: Ellison, Gabe, and Gabe's "Penny Arcade" partner Tycho (a.k.a. Jerry Holkins) were guests of honor at a Seattle-area convention called Foolscap. After the convention, Gabe posted an account of an onstage encounter with Harlan, who reportedly was rude and profane to them. Some of Penny Arcade's fans swarmed the bulletin boards of Harlan's home page, calling him names; Harlan responded with a post to his own boards calling Gabe "a superannuated teen-age golem with a slack jaw, a slow manner, a typical pointless surliness at a world unwilling or unable to accept him as Superlative, and on sum a twerp easy to dismiss."

And then it was on...

one laughs but then sighs

The Believer's October issue has an interview with Lorrie Moore. Some favorite bits:

Oh, the precarious position of fiction in our world: that over the last several decades the novel has continually been declared dead, and the short story is in constant resurrection, which means half-dead or post-dead or heaven-bound. But one continues writing anyway—as has been said by many—because one must.

What little reality television I’ve seen seems to be about economic desperation. Like the marathon dancing of the Great Depression, which should give us pause. People willing to eat flies and worms for a sum that is less than the weekly paycheck of the show’s producer. I haven’t seen 'reality television' that is other than this kind of painful, sadistic exploitation of fit young people looking for agents. Memoir, it ain’t.

Why is getting into the groove a good thing, when so many people would like to climb out of one?

But awkwardness is where tension is, and tension is where the story is. It’s also where the comedy is, which I’m interested in; when it resolves it tends to resolve toward melancholy, a certain resignation, which I find interesting as well.

BLVR: The other day someone told me that our current president said he was a big fan of Thoreau—specifically, that he loved
On Walden Pond.
LM: I hadn’t heard that On Walden Pond remark. This is funny—but funny and sad, no? One laughs but then sighs.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I just don't know what to do with myself

The White Stripes will be the first band ever to play on The Daily Show.

trapped in a universe factory

boing boing points us to this Pi joke that could easily serve as a litmus test for one's nerdness.

Guilty as charged.

some sites of interest

Rollyo allows you to create a search engine that only prowls the sites you choose.

Lifehacker provides a seemingly endless stream of time-saving suggestions, from how to save gas to how to walk through a museum.

Listen to East Village Radio or Radio Indie Pop.

Jonathan Lethem spiffed up his website just in time for his MacArthur Genius grant.

The Corduroy Suit is a Silver Jews webpage with a large collection of writing by David Berman.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

truer words never spoken

"Don't try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night."
- Philip K. Dick