Monday, September 29, 2008

you forgot poland

It's nice to see Urban Dictionary getting the props it deserves:

This is a place we see people logging on in their lunch hours and delighting in playing with words, it is a snapshot of culture in flux, looking to understand itself through language. As the banner on the site proudly boasts: 3,256,400 definitions submitted since 1999. It is hard not to delight in the fact so many people are thinking deeply and comically about language and its ever-evolving properties. It's also a forum for cultural exchange where we get a glimpse into what other Anglophone nations are doing with the language. Here, my favourite has to be the US "acoustic shave" - "the act of shaving with razor; not an electric shave".

It's a thrill to be present at the birth of words and witness the first stage in the evolution of neologisms. As Wikipedia will tell you these are in fact "protologisms", unstable words being used by a small subculture which will pass through the course of their working lives to "diffused", "stable", "dated", and eventually arrive at that elephant's graveyard of language, "passé"– a pretty obsolete word culturally itself. But as a poet, following Auden's example, here can be just as fruitful a place to look for inspiration.

bruno storms the stage!

Who knew Sacha Baron Cohen was so yummy?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

sunday short stack

"Facing it, always facing it, that's the way to get through. Face it." - Joseph Conrad

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

you are all my people

Jonathan Lethem has joined the ranks of lit-music crossovers like Stephen King and Rick Moody with his participation in I'm Not Jim.


Music critic Alex Ross and novelist Chimamanda Adichie are among this year's MacArthur geniuses.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

sunday short stack

"I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty." - George Burns

Thursday, September 18, 2008

trapped in a skanky vortex of his own making

Last night at the LAPL Aloud series, Irvine Welsh appeared in conversation with David Ulin. (I love that - "in conversation" - I'm going to use that to get out of plans. "Oh, I'm sorry. I can't attend your first communion rodeo. I'm in conversation right now.") After an animated reading from his new novel Crime- later described as an "existential thriller" - Welsh and Ulin discussed topics such as how we love what kills us, Filth, finding a character to fit a story, Dublin, pedophile priests, how a lack of moral ambiguity makes writing about pedophilia boring, survivors' groups, Lolita, tackling the effects rather than the cause, paranoia, claustrophobia, making readers squirm, avoiding internet research on pedophilia, interviewing police in Chicago and Miami as a novelist, the U.S. as a setting, Miami as the new Ellis Island, the noir detective as entrée to varied social strata, Kafka, police procedurals, sports obsession, the beauty and terror of being alive, snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, the many forms of failure, Glue, the fourth's foreskin, the Celtic Tiger economy, being an ambassador for Scotland, dependency culture, golf-playing shortbread munchkins, Haggis-eating country gentlemen, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters as the soundtrack for Crime.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

bet she regrets that can't quit you line, too

Annie Proulx wants Brokeback Mountain readers to stop sending her porno fan fiction.

The film, she says, has become "the source of constant irritation in my private life".

"There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story," she told The Wall Street Journal.

"They constantly send ghastly manuscripts and pornish rewrites of the story to me, expecting me to reply with praise and applause for 'fixing' the story. They certainly don't get the message that if you can't fix it, you've got to stand it."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

this table-land is so narrow

Madness, grief, and despair seem to be the themes of the week. Oliver Sacks's review of Hurry Down Sunshinecovers titles that have looked at manic depression over the past 100 years.

The special qualities of mania have been recognized and distinguished from other forms of madness since the great physicians of antiquity wrote on the subject. Aretaeus, in the second century, gave a clear description of how excited and depressed states might alternate in an individual, but the distinction between different forms of madness was not formalized until the rise of psychiatry in nineteenth-century France. It was then that "circular insanity" (folie circulaire or folie à double forme)—what Emil Kraepelin later called manic-depressive insanity and what we would now call bipolar disorder—was distinguished from the much graver disorder of "dementia praecox" or schizophrenia. But medical accounts, accounts from the outside, can never do justice to what is actually experienced in the course of such psychoses; there is no substitute here for firsthand accounts.
Anne Lamott addresses how one can handle election season fury. Register voters, hit the streets, pray. Stop talking about her. Talk about Obama.

I hate to criticize. And I love to kill wolves as much as the next person does. But this woman takes such pride in her ignorance, doesn't have a doubt in the world about her messianic calling, that it makes anyone of decency feel nauseated -- spiritually, emotionally and physically ill.

I say that with love. As we say in Texas. (Also, we say, "Bless her heart.")

We felt this grief and nausea during the run-up to the war in Iraq. We felt it after the 2004 election. And now we feel it again.

But since there are still six weeks until the election, and since the stakes are as high as the sky, which should definitely not be forced to endure four more years of the same, we have got to get a grip. There are millions of people to register to vote, millions of dollars to be raised. We really cannot go around feeling flat and defeated, with the need to metabolize the rotten meat that this one particular candidate and the media have forced upon us.

The Cold War Kids just know something is not right.

it's still true

More David Foster Wallace: Harper's has posted PDFs of all the articles he wrote for them (and here's a link to the NY Times Federer piece and Rolling Stone's McCain piece). The LA Times Web Scout has collected YouTube videos. Thanks to Jacket Copy for the original links.

Monday, September 15, 2008

David Foster Wallace fansite The Howling Fantods has a link collection of web tributes and Ed Champion has a personal tribute and a collective remembrance.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

sunday short stack

"One of the things that makes Wittgenstein a real artist to me is that he realized that no conclusion could be more horrible than solipsism." - David Foster Wallace

the only way to get a grip on good governance

In times like these, it's good to know people like my friend Ellie are still finding ways to be creative.

I can see russia from my house!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

david foster wallace (1962-2008)

David Foster Wallace, the novelist, essayist and humorist best known for his 1997 tome "Infinite Jest," was found dead last night at his home in Claremont, according to the Claremont Police Department. He was 46.

praying this is not true

David Foster Wallace may have committed suicide.

smoking is believing!

Weirdomatic has many more old creepy ads.

Friday, September 12, 2008

psychoanalysis for your typewriter

I challenge you to find a better obituary description than "typewriter wizard."

fine dining at the koi pond

I don't know how I missed this story last week (with bobcat photo awesomeness).

With real estate values plummeting and foreclosed homes sitting empty, a family of bobcats apparently decided the time was right to pounce. So last week, they slipped out of the parched foothills of Lake Elsinore and into a spacious, vacant home in well-groomed Tuscany Hills.

Residents of the development got their first look Aug. 27 when the feline squatters -- at least two adults and three kittens -- lolled atop a wall outside the Spanish-style house.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I wish

this day had not become a Republican battle cry.

I sleep just like a drummer

I'm irresistibly charmed by music videos that film people on the street lip-syncing. Very Short List's new Web arm features a new video today by Wave Pictures that was filmed in the streets of Gautemala.

And I still have a soft place in my heart for the video for "Rockstar" (yeah, I admit it - got a problem?)

Am I missing any?

sarah palin does not much believe in thinking

Eve Ensler on Sarah Palin nightmares:

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

the man booker short list

Aravind Adiga The White Tiger (Atlantic)
Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

album atlas

Word Magazine lets you Google map your favorite album covers.

Kestrel House, City Road, Islington

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

are you ready for me?

From internet deity Jim Groom's blog bavatuesdays comes this mash-up of The Little Mermaid and Risky Business by Serena Epstein.

Monday, September 08, 2008

now I understand why I don't like jazz

A survey of 36,000 people has shown that the music you like says something about your personality. Groundbreaking!

According to the study heavy metal fans are gentle, indie music listeners lack self-esteem and lovers of pop music are uncreative.

He found that country and western fans are hard-working, rap fans outgoing and jazz and classical music supporters are innovative and bursting with self-confidence.

Contrary to the stereotype, heavy metal fans are gentle and at ease with themselves but they tend not to be hardworking.

Those who listen to heavy metal and classical music share character traits of being creative, at ease and introverted.

But classical music fans have high self-esteem while heavy rock fans lack self-belief.

what groping dimness

Jacket Copy covers a Canadian literary feud, because when you're not a country at war, all your aggression needs to come out in editorial preferences.

all's well when ends meet

This photo is one of many found in Scienceray's post Love Bugs: Sex in the Insect World. The ladybugs are fairly vanilla compared to the Migrant Hawkers or the Blue-Tailed Damselfly. I was not surprised to learn a ladybug can be a "voracious killer" after one bit me on the arm the other day.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

sunday short stack

"They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse." - Emily Dickinson

Friday, September 05, 2008

every time I see you, you're buying a chicken

Is Mickey Rourke finishing off the comeback he began with Sin City in Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler?

sell me sell you

You'd think that the GOP would at least vet the songs they use.

The sister act behind "Barracuda," the song used by the McCain-Palin campaign in reference to Sarah Palin's "Barracuda" nickname, is none too pleased that their pro-woman anthem is being co-opted by the GOP. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart sent a cease and desist letter to the McCain campaign, and, in reaction to last night's use of it, Nancy sent an angry letter to Entertainment Weekly, tearing Sarah Barracuda a new one. "I feel completely fucked over," she said. "Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

no milk will be allowed

I'm back in semi-full teaching swing, so I enjoyed these Tips for You People That Have to Teach English Composition. (The English teacher in me makes me want to change that 'that' to 'who'.)

4.) On the fourth day of class mention that you know Jeff Goldblum.
5.) On the fifth day of class teach a covenant of peace and then attack. Ensure your heart has been strung tight. Sharpen the arrows of your mind. Take aim. Higher. Much higher. Pull back, hold…release.
6.) On the sixth day of class bring a strong fermented milk, of horse or goat or tiger. While drinking the milk, announce no milk will be allowed in the classroom.

someone should be afraid

Rage Against the Machine perform a capella outside the RNC.

The Associated Press has a handy guide to Palin's truth-stretching last night, and to lighten the mood: Welcome to the PalinDrome (via VSL).

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the rise of true crime

I like it when the work of a former classmate is published, because it gives me hope. Jean Murley's new release The Rise of True Crime: 20th-Century Murder and American Popular Culture looks especially cool. Buy it.

I'm really into fencing right now

Embarrassing Escapegrace moment #451: When I was still thinking I could live happily ever after with a career in educational adminstration, I interviewed at a prestigious architecture school. I've always been interested in architecture - everything from interiors to landscapes - so I was excited and nervous to be sitting down with two somewhat well-known architects on the faculty. We talked for awhile about various architectural aspects of the city and my qualifications blah blah, and then one of the interviewers asked me about my current interests. As if destiny itself stepped in to prevent me from getting a job I've come to learn I would have hated, I said: "Fencing." Not the sport, no, but I actually told these minor giants in the field that I was currently very interested in the contraptions used to demarcate yards. (Yeah. I have no idea either.) Oh, it was a proud day. So seeing this collection of some of the world's strangest fences made me feel just a little bit better that someone somewhere is probably justifiably interested in fencing.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

making a habit of linking in lieu of original content

I'm going to do my best to work these signature plays of the literary field into everyday conversation.

Pulling a Nietzsche: having syphilis or a huge mustache, having to say “God is dead” to justify your position in a debate

Pulling a Poe: marrying your cousin or knowing more than three people who have tuberculosis

Pulling a Plath: staring into space for several minutes with a hopeless expression (also “pulling a Kafka”), ranting about your dad

Pulling a Vonnegut: being classified in a genre you feel you don't belong, illustrating your own book… badly

Pulling a Homer: having anonymous work attributed to you while not actually existing

Pulling an Austen: gossiping about socially sensitive topics, falling for someone who seems complicated but is in actuality a dark-haired douchebag

More here...

Monday, September 01, 2008

you get the girl, I get the coroner

The LA Times lists the top 25 films about Los Angeles in the last 25 years, with LA Confidential coming in on top.