Sunday, June 29, 2008

sunday short stack

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy." - Apollinaire

Friday, June 27, 2008

authors who barely pause for breath

The Guardian examines the perils of productivity.

To be prolific shouldn't be a curse, and yet it has about it the miasma that hovers around all tendency to excess. If there is so much of it, can it all be quality product?

There must be a reasonable limit, but where does it lie? Beyond a certain level of productive output, the ghost of Dame Barbara Cartland materialises, recumbent on a chaise longue, dictating screeds of barely serviceable pap. In an era, however, before the domestic electronic distractions mentioned by Freeman set our daily contexts, writing could often constitute almost the entire mental armature and consuming business of a life. There is so much of Dickens that we wonder how he managed to do anything other than write, and yet only a cultural studies undergraduate would call him the Barbara Cartland of his day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

with alternative suggestions

The Millions blog considers why there is no IMDB for books.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, book fans aren't quite like film and music fans, and book reviews aren't quite like the film and music reviews. Film and music are far more likely to be consumed in group settings than are books, and so large group endeavors devoted to the cataloging of those media seem more fitting somehow. Even as there is an amorphous and no doubt large community of avid readers, it is a solitary enjoyment that does not always lend itself to the scorekeeping at the heart of the big meta-review sites. Likewise, book reviews are rarely as easily classified as film and music reviews (which often come with their own arcane scoring system, so as more easily to be averaged in with the rest). To my mind, it is a relatively poor book review that simply describes how good or bad a book is, while those that mine the book's context in the service of a broader discussion tend to be more rewarding. How do you score something like that?

Monday, June 23, 2008

george carlin (1937 - 2008)

You will be missed. The following clip is obviously NSFW.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

sunday short stack

"To feel today what one felt yesterday isn't to feel - it's to remember today what was felt yesterday, to be today's living corpse of what yesterday was lived and lost." - Fernando Pessoa

Friday, June 20, 2008

flying the skies and literary five a side

I recently flew my virgin flight on Virgin America and it was as cool as everyone says. Upon arrival at the terminal, an employee rushed out to the curb to help me get the luggage inside. Then the staff member who checked me in gave me an amazing tip as to how to bypass the long security line. (Don't ask. Not telling.) Once on the plane, I was so entertained by their in-flight system Red (pictured above) that I wished the flight were longer because I wasn't going to get to everything I wanted to do. (Read more about Red here.)

One thing I did do was watch part of the European Championship match between Turkey and the Czech Republic with my German rowmate. It would have been interesting to know the odds determined by Kit (from Marion Boyars Publishers) who has developed a literary prediction system for the games.

I have developed a system: literary five a side. Five 20th century (otherwise it gets too difficult) authors from each country in question are pitted against each other and then a judgement is made (by me) as to who would win. Marion Boyars authors will feature prominently of course - thank god that the French are out, that would have made for some very difficult decisions.

See the stats breakdown for Germany vs. Portugal here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

he travels mostly by forklift

Slate's Christopher Beam lists rumors the Obama campaign should start. Some favorites:

  • Barack Obama wears a FLAG PIN at all times. Even in the shower.
  • Barack Obama is a PATRIOTIC AMERICAN. He has one HAND over his HEART at all times. He occasionally switches when one arm gets tired, which is almost never because he is STRONG.
  • Barack Obama has the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE tattooed on his stomach. It's upside-down, so he can read it while doing sit-ups.
  • Barack Obama is a DEVOUT CHRISTIAN. His favorite book is the BIBLE, which he has memorized. His name means HE WHO LOVES JESUS in the ancient language of Aramaic. He is PROUD that Jesus was an American.
  • Barack Obama goes to church every morning. He goes to church every afternoon. He goes to church every evening. He is IN CHURCH RIGHT NOW.
  • Barack Obama says that Americans cling to GUNS and RELIGION because they are AWESOME.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I've had a request for summer blogging comment availability, so use 'em or lose 'em, folks.

democracy, literally

Litmocracy sounds interesting, although I can't vouch for it.

Litmocracy uses a democratic cooperative competition to identify good writing. The best stuff earns its authors some cash and gets published in Literal Translations, Litmocracy's print magazine.

Free - See how your work compares to that of others! We have no biased editor to make these decisions. If your work is good enough for the membership, you'll get paid for it...Litmocracy is eliminating bias by relying on all readers to identify quality and provide helpful feedack. Litmocracy uses an advanced form of voting that avoids the divisiveness of politics and provides excellent mental exercise.

have some serial noir with your flesh peddling

Denis Johnson's new novel is being serialized in Playboy magazine. While you will actually have to buy it for the articles in order to read "Nobody Move," you can follow commentary by the folks over at Jacket Copy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

start spreading the news

As of today, all summer blogging will be comin' at ya live from NYC. Stay tuned for more developments and occasional hijinks...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

the illustrated man/the repulsive woman

The Guardian looks at literary tattoos.

What we seek to do when we cut literature into our flesh is to make something metaphysical physical. We take tattooed literature into ourselves in the most superficial of ways, inscribing rather than imbibing its significance. Put another way, lit tats really are only skin deep, vainglorious and shallow all at once.

I once had a plan to get this image from Djuna Barnes's The Book of Repulsive Women somewhere on my back.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

sunday short stack

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." - Epicurus

Friday, June 06, 2008

public speaking 101

This Terry Richardson photo from Tom Ford's spring collection makes it easy to picture your audience naked.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

fear itself

I've only seen one commercial for Fear Itself - a new series debuting tonight on NBC that will probably be canceled before you know it because the premise is mighty cool. (It's also not ideal that it's up against the debut of salacious Swingtown.)

Each week, the "suspense and horror anthology" will present a new 60-minute episode (13 of them, natch) by an accomplished horror writer/director. Here's a sample of the first four episodes:

"Sacrifice" has a screenplay written by Mick Garris ("Riding the Bullet," "Amazing Stories") from a story by Del Howison ("Dark Delicacies"). Breck Eisner ("Creature from the Black Lagoon") directs. When four criminals find themselves stranded in an old, snow-covered fort, they slowly discover both the fort and the seductive trio of sirens who reside there are filled with deadly secrets. Jeffrey Pierce ("The Nine"), Jesse Plemons (NBC's "Friday Night Lights"), Stephen Martines ("Port Charles"), Rachel Miner ("Californication") and Mircea Monroe ("Drive") star.

"Spooked" is directed by Brad Anderson ("The Machinist") and written by Matt Venne ("White Noise 2: The Light"). While on a stake out in a haunted house, a private eye (Eric Roberts, NBC's "Heroes") is made to confront the demons of his past. Jack Noseworthy ("Judging Amy"), Cynthia Watros ("Lost") and Larry Gilliard Jr. ("The Wire") also star.

"Family Man" is directed by Ronny Yu ("Freddy vs. Jason," "Bride of Chucky") and written by Dan Knauf ("Carnivàle," "Supernatural"). This action-charged, psychological thriller focuses on a likeable family man (Colin Ferguson, "Eureka") who switches bodies with a serial killer (Clifton Collins Jr., "Star Trek") after a near-death experience. Now, he must fight from behind bars to keep the murderer from adding his wife (Josie Davis, "Ghost Whisperer"), son (Gig Morton, "Psych"), and daughter (Nicole Leduc, "Kyle XY") to his long list of victims.

"In Sickness and in Health" is directed by John Landis ("An American Werewolf in London") and written by Victor Salva ("Jeepers Creepers"). On her wedding day, a beautiful bride (Maggie Lawson, "Psych") receives a mysterious note that reads: "The person you are marrying is a serial killer." James Roday ("Psych") stars as the groom. Christie Laing ("The 4400"), Sonja Bennett ("Eureka") and Marshall Bell ("Hamlet 2," "Tales from the Crypt") also star.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

let him fight the windmills

Defamer has a hilarious interview with Werner Herzog who is in the process of some kind of cinematic riff on Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant.

Speaking of which, the original film's director, Abel Ferrara, has vowed to fight this project, and —
Wonderful, yes! Let him fight! He thinks I'm doing a remake.

Have you talked to him?
No. I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is. But let him fight the windmills, like Don Quixote.

Have you heard his comments at all? He says he hopes "these people die in Hell."
That's beautiful!

Do you relate to that passion?
No, because it's like theater thunder. It's like being backstage in the 19th century, with the machines that make thunder. It has nothing do with with his film. But let him rave and rant; it's good music in the background.

You did a remake before with Nosferatu, but —
It was not so much a remake as an homage to Murnau. But I don't feel like doing an homage to Abel Ferrara because I don't know what he did — I've never seen a film by him. I have no idea who he is. Is he Italian? Is he French? Who is he?

Oh, come on.
Maybe I could invite him to act in a movie! Except I don't know what he looks like.

this is our moment

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may
God Bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

is it true??

Obama clinches Democratic nomination

A trunk in Kentucky has turned up 210 vintage Weegee prints.

an opportunity to school the stars

A collection of writers weighed in over the weekend as to the books our presidential candidates should be reading. Here's Lorrie Moore:

For Obama: “The Portrait of a Lady,” by Henry James. A virtuous orphan is plotted against by a charming, ruthless couple the orphan once trusted and admired.

For Clinton: “Macbeth,” by William Shakespeare. The timeless tale of how untethered ambition and early predictions may carry a large price tag.

For McCain: “Tales From the Brothers Grimm.” In case more are needed.

Monday, June 02, 2008

bo diddley (1928 - 2008)

Bo Diddley, a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive "shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians, died Monday after months of ill health. He was 79.

culver city art walk

After attending the Culver City ArtWalk this weekend, I was on the phone with a friend who had just returned from the Whitney Biennial. We both separately came to the same conclusion: art school final projects. As usual, the ArtWalk was fun and filled with pretty people, but the selections left something to be desired. Perhaps there is something I don't understand about curating an exhibit; I'd be happy to be enlightened.

The galleries known for stronger collections (in my mind) did not disappoint. While I always feel like they're trying to sell me a condo after looking at one above the building two years ago, the MODAA gallery had some Michael Kalish pieces made from old cars that I liked.

It's hard to tell, but Jesus is metal.

Blum & Poe had some Murakami paintings.

It's comforting to see these guys each year. I hope they get a little treat from the Chamber of Commerce.

BLK/MRKT is now called the Kinsey/DesForges Gallery, but they still predictably had some of the strongest work. Tiffany Bozic had a collection of animal paintings on maple panels that vacillated between carnal and precious. My favorite pieces of the day were in the back room, but I can't seem to find any mention of them on the website, oddly enough. The artist painted intriguing figures on vintage book pages, primarily printed in Hebrew. (If anyone knows who she is, please leave a note in the comments.)

The Corey Helford Gallery usually has interesting work, and this year was no exception, although nothing really stood out. I enjoyed watching people look through this peephole wall at the porn images behind it.

For the second year in a row, animals seemed to be the one thread connecting all the galleries, including the most bizarre installation of hundreds of pewter pigs. The two-headed deer below ("Trophy Head") is from Joshua Levine's work at d.e.n. contemporary.

Bernard C. Parks was campaigning around. I'm just using this bus photo as an excuse to remind you to vote NO on 98 this Tuesday.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

sunday short stack

"Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this, that you are dreadfully like other people." - James Russell Lowell