Reluctant Habits

Gone Fishing

Posted by in Gaddis, William, New York Times, Personal, Tanenhaus, Sam

I’d initially posted some ballyhoo about taking a break. But announcing yet another hiatus strikes me as not only repetitious, but vaguely dishonest. This blog has always served as a beacon for truth. A skewered truth, a truth restricted by my own blinders, sometimes a downright ugly honesty. But truth nonetheless. I’d be doing my readers a disservice if I didn’t explain why my appearances here will be less frequent. William Gaddis once described it as “the rush for second place” and composed an essay on the subject in 1981….read more

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A Special Therapeutic Column from Jonathan Glandzen

Posted by in Franzen, Jonathan, Satire

In May 1981, a few months into the Reagan administration, my father and my brother Colin and in fact every member in my family started fighting. They weren’t fighting about Reagan, per se, but they wanted to give me a solid foundation for long-term neruosis. I never blamed anyone for the fight, but years later, after making a mint off of my novel, The Peregrinations, I felt stifled by the smell of cash around me. I had been approached by several financial advisors who suggested long-term savings and IRAs. They…read more

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Momentary Sayonara

Posted by in McSweeney's, Personal

There’s nothing really to say. And the last thing I want to do is lecture like Neal Pollack. So I’m going the hell away for a week or so. I leave these pages to the annoying spammers, the killer barflies, and perhaps the Superfriends, if they even remember their passwords. No bullshit hiatus here. Just casual indifference and a return to these pages after a much needed lost weekend with Paul Giamatti. I might even teach a red state virgin a thing or two about reproductive rights. Oh, and fuck…read more

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Hold the Mayo, Hold the Line

Posted by in Music, Needless Intellectualizing, Satire

Excerpt from “Toto’s Misunderstood Musical Prosody,” thesis paper by Wally Hanthorp, M.A. Music, 1991: “Hold the Line”, a seminal track from Toto’s innovatively titled 1978 album, Toto, represents a rare case of restrained genius overstating the obvious. Critic Leonard Parvoo once suggested in The Peoria Journal Star that this was “a tune written, produced and performed specifically for stadiums and FM radio.” But it is worth noting that Parvoo, who communicated his unique fury over this innocuous little tune (and Toto in general), founded a Peruvian leper colony three years…read more

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Palabra About Paizogony, Baby

Posted by in Language, Silliness

Gymnosophic grounds for gyniolatry. Solo, saccadic jerks before saltire, abbreviated waldflute for Waldgrave Wiggins, committing randy wales, always wanchancy before his own private obeliscolychny, if you catch my drift. Wiggins, perhaps a pyroballogist (in a sense), pyrexic to the last about his xanthippe, afraid of xeransis qua “Oh!” and, were quacksalver transposed to quadrimular English degrees, a stolid pettifogger. Certain dactyliologist, the Waldgrave ruminated further, facinorous in his fantasies. But not to be, the incident ended with neither paideutic progress or pumped penis.

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Big Google is Watching You

Posted by in Google, Privacy

Google Scholar is a very helpful resource. Say you need to find an obscure or out-of-print book. Well, punch it into Google Scholar, type in your ZIP code, and, shazam, a listing of libraries shows up. Even so, given that Google is the top dog search engine and has been criticized for its very serious privacy concerns, one wonders why Google would introduce a feature that bears such a striking correllation to related attributes within the PATRIOT Act. The PATRIOT Act authorizes the Department of Justice (and its related entities)…read more

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Four Bitches Down, One to Go

Posted by in Awards

Lily Tuck has won the National Book Award for fiction, narrowing it down to just one woman writer from New York for the Times pull its hair out over.

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It Happens in Small Steps

Posted by in Everyday World

“Leave our homos alone.” (via MeFi)

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We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Teachout

Posted by in Music

Wait a minute. Teachout’s listening to Toto? I could understand Journey. Twist my arm and you could even make a case for Foreigner. But Toto? He really must be sick. Our hope is that we can get Teachout’s toes tapping to Built to Spill or the Magnetic Fields and back to robust health. Nevertheless, we wish him well and suggest you buy his new book. As for us (And this will be our last use of first person plural for the year. How did we get sucked into this stylistic…read more

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New Secretary of State Promises That President Will Sleep Only Four Hours A Night; President Concerned

Posted by in Photo Headlines

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Literaryland

Posted by in Satire

LOS ANGELES (AP): In an effort to reach out to a new demographic, the Walt Disney Company announces the introduction of Literaryland, a new section that will be added to Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2006. Magic Space Mountain: An exciting new ride that takes seven years to complete! Riders will be pummeled with ideas and then treated at a hospital, where they will rhapsodize with Mickey Mouse and philosophers. It’s a Small World’s End: Passengers will be able to witness scenes from various T.C. Boyle’s novel (sexual communes,…read more

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A Case for Minor Larceny?

Posted by in Writing

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest article chronicles how artists across several mediums are prone to sampling. While the obvious examples such as George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” (taken subconsciously from “She’s So Fine”) and Tarantino’s wholesale lift of the magic marker anecdote from Scorsese’s American Boy are left out, Gladwell does make a strong case for greater sensitivity in how artists “steal.” If Gene Wolfe hadn’t been inspired by Jack Vance, we wouldn’t have his fantastic Sun books. Nor would we have Eric Kraft without Proust, or David Foster Wallace without Borges,…read more

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The Author Who Fled

Posted by in Prokosch, Frederic

It’s not available online, but the latest NYRoB has a fantastic essay on the underrated writer Frederick Prokosch. I’ve praised Prokosch before on these pages and expressed sorrow that everything he’s written is out of print, but it was nice to learn that The Asiatics is being reissued early next year. The Asiatics, if you haven’t read it, serves as a gloomier-than-usual take on the American expatriate traveling through exotic land formula. The difference is that Prokosch’s fantastic descriptions, to say nothing of his riffs on consciousness and identity, transform…read more

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An Open Letter to the FCC

Posted by in Television

Dear FCC: Since three people decide the fate over what is indecent on American television, I figured that my viewpoint counted for just as much. Plus, since this nation has spiraled into a financial abyss (and could use some cash), I thought you might want to investigate the following indecent things that I see on television every day. I am, to put it bluntly, quite mortified by what passes for “entertainment” these days. I will need therapy for years. Perhaps you may want to send me a finder’s fee to…read more

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The NBA Horror! The NBA Horror!

Posted by in Awards

Dennis Loy Johnson: “When I got there I found the place crawling with security, a bunch of heavy set guys with ear pieces and Uzis slung over their shoulders. It was a big place, dark, creepy, with a moat and a drawbridge. Moody was inside surrounded by toadies peeling grapes for him. He leapt up and grabbed me by the lapels and said, ‘You gotta help me! You gotta get me out of this! Those women at the Times?Caryn James, Laura Miller, Deborah Solomon?they’re trying to kill me! I mean,…read more

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“No One Wants The Job? Why, Sure I’ll Be Your Secretary of State!”

Posted by in Photo Headlines

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30 Second Roundup

Posted by in Chesterton, G.K., Literary Magazines, Roundup

January magazine editor Linda Richards gets copy in the Vancouver Sun. (via Sarah) G.K. Chesterton: unfairly neglected? My short answer: yes and no. (via Mark) A George Eliot statue was knocked down by a careless lorry driver. Out the door.

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The Ugly Truth Behind the DC Universe

Posted by in Comics

(via Metafilter)

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You Don’t Have to See It to Be Terrified

Posted by in Film

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the eight most frightening words in the English language: Screenplay by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Joel Schumacher.

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RIP ODB

Posted by in Obits

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In Defense of Fucking the South (And the Red States Too, For That Matter)

Posted by in Everyday World, Politics, Satire

“In swearing, as a means of expressing anger, potentially noxious energy is converted into a form that renders it comparatively innocuous. By affording the means of working off the surplus energy of the emotion induced by frustration, the tension between the emotion and the object of it is decreased and the final dissolution of the tension is expressed in a feeling of relief, which in its place is a sign of the return to a state of equilibrium.” — Ashley Montagu The Anatomy of Swearing The new political correctness has…read more

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Confidential to Some Sexy Correspondents

Posted by in Technical

Folks, folks, folks, folks. I should point out that just because some of us may disagree on minor points (and, boy, they sure are minor), this does not mean that I’ve stopped respecting you. Particularly since you’re good enough to offer a reasoned and impassioned argument along with your thoughts and you’re willing (much more than that!) to weigh in on subjects literary and cultural, and offer the Good Doctor some contrarian food for thought. This is the cornerstone of democracy, I think. If I don’t respond to your emails…read more

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Anthropology Awaits

Posted by in Celebrities

Thankfully, circumstances have made us unexpectedly busy for the next four days. So our recently misinterpreted fury (not directed at James in general, who for the most part is a competent critic, save for the piece in question) has been siphoned into more productive conduits. Please visit the fine folks on the left in our absence. We’ve got work to do. In the meantime, we leave you with the following personality test. Between these two actresses, who do you prefer? I’ll keep the lips sealed on my choice until the…read more

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More Archivin’ Fixins

Posted by in Libraries, Technology

The BBC is about to release an Internet video viewer, so that one may review BBC content over the last 7 to 14 days. No word on whether this will be a paid viewer or UK-exclusive, but I wish that all networks took the ideas of TiVo and applied it like this. (via Die Puny Humans)

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The Girl Who Cried Julavits

Posted by in Book Reviewing, James, Caryn

OGIC has weighed in on the Caryn James piece, as has Galleycat. OGIC suggests that the James piece is honest criticism. Meanwhile, Galleycat (inter blogia) has stated her reasons why James has attacked. Rather than ape Galleycat’s able analysis, I thought I’d respond to OGIC’s notion that we all leaped into some touchy-feely Julavits antiseptic tank. If James had stated specific examples in her profile, then her huffing and puffing would have had more validity. But I perceived this piece as an “assault,” not because of the piece’s intensity, but…read more

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Iris Chang Found Dead

Posted by in Obits

Horrible news. Not far from my digs, no less. Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking and a Northern California resident, committed suicide just south of Los Gatos. She was only 37.

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Armistice-Challenged Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

The ongoing massacre in Fallujah and the nomination of Alberto Gonzales (who once declared the Geneva Conventions “obsolete”) as attorney general are enough to hinder any self-respecting humanist from smiling. But I’ll try nonetheless to offer a literary roundup on this most ironic of Veteran’s Days. The first of two major reports on the Paris Review archive is now up. Laura Miller is expected to offer a writeup in an upcoming issue of the NYTBR. A rare collection of Coleridge’s poetry has been saved by Lottery funding in the UK….read more

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AudBlog #21 — We Can Live Without Toast

Posted by in AudioBlog

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AudBlog #20 — The Aging Process

Posted by in AudioBlog

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AudBlog #19 — Red & Blue

Posted by in AudioBlog

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