Monday, March 31, 2008

calcified charismatists vs. unemployed ex-physicists

At NY Times blog Measure for Measure, songwriters "will pull back the curtain on the creative process as they write about their work on a song in the making." Mr. Andrew Bird kicks it off:

I’m not the most forthcoming person — I only speak when I have something to say. What is becoming more challenging of late is dealing with so many fully formed melodies that are unwilling to change their shape for any word. So writing lyrics becomes like running multiple code-breaking programs in your head until just the right word with just the right number of syllables, tone of vowel and finally some semblance of meaning all snap into place.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Bookshelf blog showcases practical and not-so-practical methods for storing your books.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

the seven deadly words of book reviewing

Like all professions book reviewing has a lingo. Out of laziness, haste or a misguided effort to sound “literary,” reviewers use some words with startling predictability. Each of these seven entries is a perfectly good word (well, maybe not eschew), but they crop up in book reviews with wearying regularity. To little avail, admonitions abound. “The best critics,” Follett writes, “are those who use the plainest words and who make their taste rational by describing actions rather than by reporting or imputing feelings.” Now, the list:

poignant: Something you read may affect you, or move you. That doesn’t mean it’s poignant. Something is poignant when it’s keenly, even painfully, affecting. When Bambi’s mom dies an adult may think it poignant. A child probably finds it terrifying.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

music docs

The annual AFI music documentary series starts up soon at both Arclight locations. While there are documentaries on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Philip Glass, and Joy Division, young@heart gets my vote for best trailer:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

sunday short stack

"Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come." - Matt Groening

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

sunday short stack

"If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside." - Robert X. Cringely

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I got no shame I'm on fire

To mark Madonna's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Iggy Pop performed "Burnin' Up" and "Ray of Light"...

Monday, March 10, 2008

sneezin' baby panda

Sunday, March 09, 2008

sunday short stack

"When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained." - Edward R. Murrow

Thursday, March 06, 2008

People (in France?) pose with album covers.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

the pin-sized pawns penetrated easily

The ghost of Vladimir Nabokov has given his son permission to cash in on his final manuscript.

Dmitri says he reached a decision after an imagined ghostly conversation with his dead father—one in a far different key from Hamlet's talk with his dead dad.

"I have decided," Koval quoted Dmitri, "that my father, with a wry and fond smile, might well have contradicted himself upon seeing me in my present situation and said, "Well, why don't you mix the useful with the pleasurable? That is, say or do what you like but why not make some money on the damn thing?' "

And so the imagined shade of V.N., demonstrating indulgent and affectionate fondness for his son's "present situation" (it's not clear what exactly that means, but it could refer to financial or heath problems or just the worldwide outcry to save Laura), gave him ghostly permission to raise some funds with it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

there would be your consequences

If I thought this story rang a little false, you'd think her publisher would have at least looked into Margaret Seltzer's completely fabricated memoir.

In “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South- Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.

The problem is that none of it is true.

Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed.

Then again, publishers don't really seem quite with it these days.

And hey, it's not like Seltzer claimed to have run with a pack of wolves during the Holocaust.

Monday, March 03, 2008

bang a drum slowly: people in order


my complement, my enemy, my oppressor, my love

Kara Walker's My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love has finished its run at the Whitney and opened at the Hammer yesterday. From Time's "100 Most Influential People of 2007":

Artists are vigilant. But it's not the vigilance of surveillance. They don't dictate what is worn, thought, spoken and dreamed. Instead, theirs is a vigilance fueled by a heady mix of doubt, disbelief and hope. Few have managed to capture the collision between past and present, between histories and horror stories, between sexuality and shame, between skin and meat, as powerfully and provocatively as Kara Walker, 37.

Walker's vigilance has produced a compelling reckoning with the twisted trajectories of race in America. Her installations and films forcefully pluralize our notion of a singular "history." They create a profusion of backstories and revisions that slash and burn through the pieties of patriotism and the glosses of "color blindness." Restarting the engines of seemingly archaic methods, from the graphic affect of silhouette portraits to the machine-age ethos of film, she produces a cast of characters and caricatures with appetites for destruction and reproduction, for power and sex. She raucously engages both the broad sweep of the big picture and the eloquence of the telling detail. She plays with stereotypes, turning them upside down, spread-eagle and inside out. She revels in cruelty and laughter. Platitudes sicken her. She is brave. Her silhouettes throw themselves against the wall and don't blink.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

sunday short stack

"Good breeding consists of concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person." - Mark Twain

Saturday, March 01, 2008

who cries for these stillborn sestinas?

Colson Whitehead is the latest to step up to the I'm-a-writer-living-in-Brooklyn plate.

[The] physical act of moving your possessions from Manhattan to Brooklyn is now the equivalent of a two-year M.F.A. program. When you get to the other side, they hand you three Moleskine notebooks and a copy of “Blogging for Dummies.” You’re good to go.

I have a hard time understanding all the hype. I dig it here and all, but it’s just a place. It does not have magical properties. In interviews, I get asked a lot, “What’s it like to write in Brooklyn?” I get invited to do panels with other Brooklyn writers to discuss what it’s like to be a writer in Brooklyn. I expect it’s like writing in Manhattan, but there aren’t as many tourists walking very slowly in front of you when you step out for coffee. It’s like writing in Paris, but there are fewer people speaking French. What do they expect me to say? “Instead of ink, I write in mustard from Nathan’s Famous, a Brooklyn institution since 1916.”