Reluctant Habits

Questions for Plum Sykes

Posted by in New York Times, Satire, Solomon, Deborah, Sykes, Plum

Your new novel, “Bergdorf Blondes,” have created some disgraceful and unintentionally hilarious Q&A sessions which demonstrate that you are a Tina Brown in the making. I have a new disease, which I’ve called glitteratitis. I want Bret Easton Ellis to use me as an object in his next novel, preferably as a footstool. As a writer for Vogue, you have ideas, right? I’m too beautiful to be concerned about the human condition. You’ve used “blonde” as a verb and every time you open your mouth, people have been actually lost…read more

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AudBlog #16 — Memorial Day Weekend

Posted by in AudioBlog, Podcasting

audio post powered by audblog

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“Dagger of the Mind” — Allegory for 2004 America

Posted by in Politics, Satire, Star Trek

[For the purposes of this experiment, replace DR. ADAMS with THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, KIRK with VOTER IN AMERICAN HEARTLAND, HELEN with AMERICAN INTEGRITY, and "Enterprise" with DETERMINATION TO TAKE BACK WASHINGTON.] DR. ADAMS: “Now Captain Kirk is going to have a complete demonstration. I want there to be no doubts whatever in his mind.” KIRK: “Mmmmm.” DR. ADAMS: “You’re madly in love with Helen, Captain. You’d lie, cheat, steal for her, sacrifice your career, your reputation.” HELEN: “No, Doctor! No!” DR. ADAMS: “The pain — do you feel it, Captain?…read more

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And the Worst Thing is That He Can’t Stop Talking About the Fuckin’ Beatles

Posted by in Beatles, Personal

There’s a guy from Liverpool in our apartment at the moment whom we haven’t seen in six years. (Yeah, we’re just as mystified as you are.) Between this and the planned Memorial Day debauchery, what this means is few, if any, updates until June 1.

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An Open Note to Maud Newton

Posted by in Blogging, Lethem, Jonathan

In response to this: Avoid the hoopla and the hate and be you. It’s almost Memorial Day Weekend and people all over the nation are freaking out. Probably some unspoken reaction to the fact that a madman is in office, the United States has been caught with its hands in the photographic cookie jar, and there appears no immediate remedy. Tough times, when you factor in the economy and the fact that more guns will be fired into other people tomorrow than any other day of the year. (Okay, that…read more

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The Short Answer: Consumption is Still Conspicuous

Posted by in Consumers, Veblen, Thorstein

George Bleecher re-examines Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class, and looks at the similarities between the Gilded Age and today.

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Cold Mountain, Cold Fish?

Posted by in Frazier, Charles

Charles Frazier is to be honored by his hometown. North Carolina residents plan to burn dollar bills to celebrate Frazier’s $8 million advance.

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Just Imagine How Much Trouble It Is To Buy A Pack of Trojans

Posted by in Everyday World

Singapore is lifting its chewing gum ban, but not without a few stipulations: (a) only 19 medicinal brands will be allowed, (b) anyone dealing black market gum will face two years in jail, and (c) you will need a license and an identity card to buy a pack. (And, yes, that’s all true.) No word yet on whether Singapore has taken a cue from the Brady Bill and plans to add a 30 day waiting period.

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It Ain’t Just Birnbaum, Sarvas and Newton Out There

Posted by in Podcasting

Trashotron has an audio interview with Tom Perrotta. I plan to listen to it later, but my hope is that they clarified the goldfish controversy. (via Sarah)

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The Real Question: Which One of the Two is Goofier?

Posted by in Birnbaum, Robert

In one of the most inspired and frabjous convergences of online talent, Yankee Pot Roast talks with Robert Birnbaum.

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The Literary Hipster’s Handbook — 2004 Q2 Edition

Posted by in Literary Hipsters

“con-fuse”: When an author uses his reputation to offer an overlong and unedited book, thus conning his audience into buying or reading it, and eventually lighting the reader’s fuse. (Or: Neal Stephenson‘s Baroque Cycle.) “Dale Pecker”: An unpleasant asshole at a literary cocktail party who claims erudition, but who will never shut up. The distinction between a Dale Pecker and a socially maladjusted person is that the latter still has a love of literature, while the former does not. Term expected to fade into obscurity before summer. Use sparingly. (Ex….read more

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Kamala Markandaya Dead

Posted by in Obits

Outlook India takes a look at Kamala Markandaya, who passed away a week and a half ago. Markandaya was a pioneering Indian author writing in English, best known for Nectar in a Sieve.

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There Are Better Ways to Relieve Depression Than a Disappearing Act — Hassling Scientologists is a Start

Posted by in Eccentric Authors

The Last Samurai (which has nothing to do with Tom Cruise) author Helen DeWitt has pulled a Spalding Gray. She disappeared shorty after emailing a friend that she was feeling depresed. [8/29/05 UPDATE: We never bothered to report it, but Helen Dewitt was eventually found in Niagra Falls. In February, Ron Hogan reported that she was back writing: specifically, this "Letter to an Undergraduate."]

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Separated at Birth?

Posted by in Celebrities, War

LEFT: Lynndie England RIGHT: Fairuza Balk in American History X

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Super Blog Me

Posted by in Blogging, Film

Apparently Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock has a blog.

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And There’s A Touch of Eggers In There Too

Posted by in Wallace, David Foster

My man Rake reports that “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature,” a story from David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion is up. The big surprises? No footnotes or use of “w/r/t.”

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Hans, Boobie, I’m Your White Knight

Posted by in Author Publicity

Denmark is gearing up for the bicentenary of Hans Christian Andersen. Two exhibitions are underway. One will wander through Europe, Asia and North America. The other will involve a tent shaped in the form of an open book.

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Don’t Forget Edible Underwear

Posted by in Uncategorized

Brendan Gullifer offers some literary pitch ideas: “When you’re a struggling artist, like me, the F-word always grabs attention. Writing a novel has used up more money and energy and time than an affair. Two years ago, we sold our house to pay the bills. For the sake of my marriage and sanity, I need closure. I need a publisher.”

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What’s Worse Than Cowboy Bluster? A Completely Ignored Genocide in Africa

Posted by in Uncategorized

Reuters: “The United Nations has estimated that one million people have been displaced by fighting in Darfur and calls it the largest humanitarian emergency worldwide. Another 125,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad to escape violence….UNICEF said it was providing 300,000 displaced people with access to clean water, double the number of a few weeks ago, but 700,000 people remained out of reach. It has installed nearly 190 new water pumps and repaired 320 existing ones in the area.”

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John Kerry, Can You Hear Me?

Posted by in Uncategorized

There’s a moment in Superman II where E.G. Marshall, playing the President of the United States, appears on television, announcing to the nation that he has surrendered his authority over to General Zod. But Marshall breaks down midway through the speech and shouts into the microphone, “Superman: can you hear me? Superman!” Zod then picks up the microphone and asks, “Where is this Superman?” and demands that Superman come to challenge his authority if he dare, so that the son of Jor-El can eventually kneel before Zod. But Superman has…read more

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Information or Parody?

Posted by in Uncategorized

The London Times business section examines, of all things, the economics of writing with crime writer Julian Rathbone.

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The Power of Denial

Posted by in Uncategorized

The Guardian: “[Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt] insisted there were ‘no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration’. However, the video obtained by APTN – which lasts for several hours – shows a large wedding party, and separate footage shot by AP cameramen the following day shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans, and brightly coloured beddings used for celebrations scattered around a bombed-out tent. There were also fragments of ordnance that appeared to have US markings.”

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The Dangers of Opening Twix

Posted by in Uncategorized

Until now, only ten important people were aware of their existence. The Tupperware people knew of similar creatures for sealed pies and pastries, but they recognized that the specific conditions beneath the seal, combined with certain sugary textures, created the necessary living variables, much as carbon does for the silly homo sapien race. But since Tupperware does not in fact mass-produce the contents within, their legal team has a clear defensible position which places them in the clear for endangering lives. They escape culpability. Twix, on the other hand, does…read more

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Jump Around

Posted by in Uncategorized

We have no time these days, but our colleagues do. Maud interviews Jonathan Ames, Lizzie takes on Alice Randall, and you can find Sarah in The Denver Post.

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Diana Abu-Jaber

Posted by in Uncategorized

The Chronicle talks with Diana Abu-Jaber about Arab-American identity. She notes that since there are so few literary depictions of Arab life in America that she receives highly scrutinizing letters from readers niggling over the details. Abu-Jaber also points out that people consider her work highly politicized when it is not. According to Laila, she’s also a grand reader. Abu-Jaber has also recently launched a website, which will contain information on future appearances. There’s also an interview with Terry Gross up from March 2003.

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It Could Be Worse: She Could Be Turning Out Endless Books On Top Ramen

Posted by in Uncategorized

The Sacramento Bee gets into the auctorial interview game and talks with Jane Smiley about how selling the film rights to A Thousand Acres has allowed her to write about horses. Smiley will be working on The Roan Tetrology through 2006. An early galley of the first book, My Kingdom for a Horse, features a 24-page monologue on why every American should own one.

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Send the Moneymen In for the Commencement Speeches, Not the Novelists

Posted by in Uncategorized

Novelist E.L. Doctorow was booed at Columbia University while delivering a commencement speech attacking Bush. Financier George Soros offered a similar anti-Bush speech at Hofstra, but was not booed.

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Brown Trains Treasury Secretary John Snow to Talk to Hand Rather Than Bite Hand That Feeds Him

Posted by in Uncategorized

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Reluctant to Kate Lee: We Sleep Four Hours a Night

Posted by in Uncategorized

The New Yorker: “After directing the driver to East Seventy-second Street, she said she wanted to make it clear that, while she loves her bloggers, and has faith in them, it can be difficult to get them to be productive. ‘They all have day jobs,’ she pointed out. Writing anything longer than a blog post is a commitment they donít always seem up for.”

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Virulent Developments

Posted by in Uncategorized

Graham has a spiffy new layout, with a decided Kottke influence. But thanks to the colors, his integration of remaindered link content is something a lot easier to follow after a few beers. Which reminds me: the plan is to tinker with WordPress for the soon-to-emerge Wrestling an Alligator production blog. If all goes well, then I may switch over to WordPress for Reluctant. This comes at a time when I was planning a major overhaul of this place anyway. For anyone else looking for a smooth MT to WP…read more

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