Reluctant Habits

Federated CEO Demonstrates Vise-Like Death Grip Designed to Eliminate Wal-Mart Customer Base

Posted by in Photo Headlines


And Now For Something Completely Political…

Posted by in Monty Python, Politics

John Cleese is the purported author of the Declaration of Revocation, a missive directed at the people of the United States. With Cleese harboring possible ambitions to run as mayor of Santa Barbara, it’s very possible that Cleese may have momentarily merged his comedy with his politics. However, at present, there’s no conclusive evidence that Cleese wrote this. (via Tom)


And If You Say Anything Ellison Considers Stupid, the Old Guy Will Call You a Cocksucker and Threaten You with Physical Violence

Posted by in Ellison, Harlan

Harlan Ellison will be appearing in Cleveland and the Plain Dealer has the pre-appearance scoop. Apparently, if anyone in the audience uses “like” improperly, they will have to pay 25 cents. Additionally, the Plain Dealer reports that a straight-to-television adaptation of the comic Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor (think Ray Bradbury Theatre or Arthur C. Clarke Presents with Ellison stories as the catalyst) is in the works.


Solomon & Foer Sitting in a Tree

Posted by in Foer, Jonathan Safran, Solomon, Deborah

“I’m not interesting,” Jonathan Safran Foer announced when I asked him to come out of his palatial home and breathe some oxygen. “People assume that because I’m a writer, I’m naturally interesting. They couldn’t be more wrong. I’m a sad piece of driftwood and the biggest disappointment since Steve Perry left Journey.” Of course, I tried to cajole poor Foer with some of the trademark wit I used in my one-page Q&As. I asked Foer if he considered stabbing himself because of his youth and his wealth, pointing out the…read more


Pre-Oscar Reading

Posted by in Blogging, Film

If you can’t wait for tonight’s Oscar ceremonies to begin, Bravo’s Indie Spirt blog has been maintained by the fantastic Cinetrix and is well worth your time.


Tanenhaus Watch: February 27, 2005

Posted by in New York Times, Tanenhaus, Sam

WEEKLY QUESTION: Will this week’s NYTBR reflect today’s literary and publishing climatet? Or will editor Sam Tanenhaus demonstrate yet again that the NYTBR is irrelevant to today’s needs? If the former, a tasty brownie will be sent to Mr. Tanenhaus’ office. If the latter, the brownie will be denied. To determine this highly important question for our times, three tests will be conducted each week, along with ancillary commentary concerning the content. THE COLUMN-INCH TEST: Fiction Reviews: 1 full-page, 1 full-page round-up (4 books), 3 half-page reviews. (Total books: 8….read more


TOP JIMMY: Gore Vidal

Posted by in Author Readings, Field Reports

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The great Jimmy Beck, a fantastic literary enthusiast who has made guest appearances at The Old Hag and Maud Newton, has offered the first in what I hope will be a semi-regular series that I've tentatively entitled "TOP JIMMY," whereby the great Beck observes literary figures at bookstores and readings, and weighs in. His first subject is Gore Vidal.] BECK: If you were to read a transcript of Gore Vidal?s remarks at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC on Friday afternoon and use this alone as the basis…read more


Joe Camp Presents Benjamin the Haunted

Posted by in Needless Intellectualizing, Satire

Up until Wednesday night, I didn’t believe in the afterlife. However, I was swayed from my skepticism when a Wiccan friend of mine, whom I had met through the personals section of my local alt-weekly rag, took my hasty notion of what Walter Benjamin might think about the Bush administration very much to my heart. My Wiccan friend (whom I shall refer to in these pages as “Broom Hither”) pushed me down onto her bed, tied me up with several painful strands of tight rope, carved a pentagram into my…read more


There’s Also This New Rap Thing That Causes Teenagers to Shoot Each Other Up in the Streets!

Posted by in Music, Politics

I don’t know who this Michelle Malkin person is. But her claim that emo is a soundboard for self-mutiliation is instantly deflated when she declares emo as “a new genre of music.” Jesus, I’m over 30 too. But even I’ve listened to Sunny Day Real Estate. It was the dirty white sheets that were cut into strips, not the flesh. As for this “new genre of music,” I’ve got two words for you, Michelle: Ian MacKaye. You know, in a court of law, you can’t file a complaint without stating…read more


The Oscar Pool

Posted by in Academy Awards, Awards, Film

If you want to get into dichotimies, I suspect that there are computer mechanics and car mechanics. There are people who understand and appreciate comics and there are people who don’t. And when it comes to yearly televised fluff (that is, if we have to choose one), there are Oscar people and there are Super Bowl people. (And if you haven’t guessed already, I’m one of the former.) Some folks in the know say that Chris Rock’s career is on the line. And they may be right. David Letterman was…read more


Rushdie Rumored to Be Joining Stanley Crouch for Anger Management Class

Posted by in Rushdie, Salman

We’re not quite sure what to make of Salman Rushdie chasing down journalists with a baseball bat. On one hand, we’d probably be a bit pissed if we had to live secretly while a price was on our head or the novels we turned out were declared more and more irrelevant. But Rushdie’s fury was driven by words against his wife. We only wonder how he’ll survive the acid barbs of Fleet Street.


Personally, We’ve Always Thought Hunger Involved Food Stamps, Barely Getting By, Remaining Isolated, Depressed and Lonely, Hoping to Hell That the Electricity Isn’t Shut Off — The Kind of “Hunger” Knut Hamsun Wrote About. But That’s Just Us.

Posted by in Eggers, Dave

Dave Eggers interviewed at the Onion AV Club: “I would disagree about “isolated” or “lonely.” Those are two things that I don’t know very well, so I can’t write about them. I think that most of the characters are people who aren’t settled in what they’re doing, and maybe have been uprooted in one way or another, by an event in the world or their own restlessness. Most of them are abroad and looking for something. This is what the hunger is about: whether they’re hungry for some kind of…read more


We’re Not Sure Where He Got the Million Number, But We Hope Someone Gets a Visit from Ed McMahon

Posted by in Awards

The nominations for StorySouth’s Million Writers Award are up. Editor Jason Sanford notes that this is a contest in which the best online story of 2004 will win, thanks to your input. So vote early and vote often.


The Brownies Return

Posted by in New York Times, Tanenhaus, Sam

With Mark on deck with the Los Angeles Times Book Review and Scott Esposito watching the Chronicle, the time has come to restore the Tanenhaus Brownie Watch again. Starting this Sunday, we’ll be watching Sam with the same eagle-eyed stance of a jester and letting you all know whether or not Tanenhaus has earned his brownie. (And, incidentally, should Sam Tanenhaus earn his brownie, we will in fact be sending them to him. Let it not be said that we didn’t honor our pledges.) Now if someone else will step…read more


Fuck the iPod

Posted by in Music, Technology

Will somebody give me one good reason why I should own a fucking iPod? Will somebody explain why I should give Steve Jobs 350 hard-earned George Washingtons to apply the Apple logo to my hip? Sure, it’s a handy little device, I suppose. But then so is a garlic press. The garlic press, however, is much cheaper and will actually do something beneficial. Such as saving you some time when you’re cooking some pasta. Frankly, I don’t get it. The little bastard doesn’t even allow me to record onto it….read more


HST: The River is Still Running

Posted by in Journalism, Politics

I haven’t read the obituaries. I haven’t read anything. Hunter S. Thompson is gone and his unexpected suicide hit me hard. I was reduced to a blank, morose expression while sitting in a passenger seat in a moving car heading south for some fun. What fun could be had when America’s foremost nihilist and partygoer had decided that enough was enough? It took me about twenty minutes of explaining why Hunter S. Thompson was important and why his work mattered before I could go about my day. Friends have often…read more


The King of Gonzo No More

Posted by in Thompson, Hunter S.

Hunter S. Thompson has pulled an Abbie Hoffman on us. The famed 67-year old writer apparently killed himself with a shotgun. To say that I am mortified does not even cut the mustard. I will have a full-blown tribute to HST on these pages in the next couple of days.


Cinematic Cockamanie?

Posted by in Literary Adaptations, Self, Will

It what might be the only bold move in Chris O’Donnell’s career, it looks like he’s set to star with Sarah Polley in a film adaptation of Will Self’s Cock & Bull, the infamous pair of novellas about a man who grows a vagina and a woman who grows a cock. It remains a mystery how such a film will get past the MPAA. Let’s hope that writer-director Matt Nix is, pardon the pun, ballsy enough to go for the NC-17.


Unlawful Common Knowledge

Posted by in Everyday World, Personal

I’m no historian. I’m just a guy who reads books with a layman’s ambition of being well-rounded. I can give you a brief overview of Ferdinand de Lesseps’ attempt to cut through the Isthmus of Panama without considering the mosquito problem and can suggest, without Googling, David McCllough’s The Path Between the Seas as a good book on the subject. I can tell you about why H&R Block does most of its business in January and why the working poor is terrified of filing 1040s on their own — this,…read more


Photographic Protest

Posted by in Censorship

So freelance photographer Steve Malik was taking some photos of MUNI Metro. Suddenly, a hodgepodge of fuzz came and tried to arrest him. But get this: there’s no statute in the books to prevent people from taking photos of city property. Tomorrow afternoon, several photographers will meet at the Embarcadero Center at high noon and take photos out of protest. I’m going to have to dig up my digital camera, but if you’re in San Francisco, bring your camera to Jackson West’s photographic protest. If I can find my cam,…read more


Michael Chabon/Kelly Link

Posted by in Chabon, Michael, Link, Kelly

More Chabon-related news: Gwenda notes that not only is Chabon editing the next Best American Short Stories, but Kelly Link will be appearing in it. If you want to catch Gwenda’s interview with Kelly here back in September, here’s the link.


Rundown with the Devil

Posted by in Roundup, Sinclair, Upton

Gore Vidal’s Civil War play On the March to the Sea has been revived and revised. The protagonist’s name has been changed to Hal I. Burton, all paternal figures will be referred to as “Bagh Dad” instead of “Dad,” and the palatial home has been rechristened “The Other White House.” The Man Booker International Prize nominees have been announced and already folks are stewing over who got left out. Which includes Salman Rushdie. In related news, it turns out that the fatwah was actually reinstated not by Iran, but by…read more


Actually, It’s Unfair to Let Susanna Clarke Unleash a Longass Novel Without Hard-Hearted Editors

Posted by in Awards

Mark says, “Perhaps it?s unfair to pit 19th-century magicians against Jewish exiles from Nazi Germany,” and selects Heir to the Glimmering World in the next installment of the TMN Tournament of Books. Mark’s being too kind when he calls Jonathan Strange a “Saturday matinee.” It is interminable cotton candy and deserves a through ass-kicking by the likes of Ozick before it’s too late.


Literary Media Bias? Nah, Just Good Books.

Posted by in Miéville, China

Chine Mi鶩lle, whose latest New Crobuzon book The Iron Council was just nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award (and whose first two books, at least, you should read immediately), has a great list of 50 Fantasy & Science Fiction Works That Socialists Should Read. Of course, you don’t have to be a socialist to read them. With the possible exception of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and Atlas Shrugged (I get the “know your enemy” angle, but it’s cruel and unusual punishment to subject the “Who is John Galt?” crap,…read more


Shut Up and Drive the Car

Posted by in Blogging

I just wrote an extremely long post about a post on another litblog. But it’s lost. Just as well. It was the kind of arrogant fury I’m trying to steer away from these days. I’ll only say this: If you’re spending a good chunk of your time waiting for some journalist to call you up, you probably shouldn’t be blogging. Because that’s not what blogs are about. It’s certainly not what the top-caliber litblogs are about. Deep down, all of us care very much about literature. And I would venture…read more


It’s Good to Be Right When You Have 500 Imaginary Parents Backing You Up

Posted by in Censorship

One thing that always amuses me about reactionary revisionists, aside from the fact that, on the whole, they have no sense of humor and rarely appreciate the finer joys of bowling or karaoke, is that the so-called legions of “citizens” championing “literary standards” have no names. In the case of the “Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools,” not so much as a “Joe” or “Orville” or a “Babbitt” can be found in the comments section. It reminds me of the Ku Klux Klan. What better way to maintain the “safety”…read more


Chabon! Chabon!

Posted by in Chabon, Michael

YPTR has one hell of a scoop on a recent Michael Chabon appearance in Denver.


Excerpt from Jose Canseco’s New Book “Bright Lights, Big Baseball Stadium”

Posted by in Memoirs, Satire, Sports

You can knock any ball out of the park. But you look at your biceps and you see that they’re lacking. You want muscles, the same way that young teenage girls want personal shoppers. You had a personal shopper once, but she didn’t like it when you ran around Saks Fifth Avenue with your shirt off. So it’s come to this. Hank and his secret stash. You stop studying your credit card statements. You look at the needle and you stick it in your arm and you feel your muscles…read more


I Should Probably Sleep, But…

Posted by in McEwan, Ian, Roundup, Shields, Carol

While we’d never expect USA Today to give us a call (we’d probably spend most of the time making fun of the infographs), we’re nevertheless delighted to see some of our favorite blogs get recognition. And speaking of newspapers, we’re still wondering how the folks at the Scotsman find their fey subjects. A recent profile chronicles Francis Ellen, an author who has created a novel with music performed by the characters. The Samplist is expected to launch at the London Book Fair and a CD tie-in will feature a computer-generated,…read more


Formula for Dependable Novel: Gangbangs by Chapter Five

Posted by in Sex

The incomparable Ms. Breslin, who has been posting portions of her novel, Porn Happy, over the past few months, has channeled her inner Gerard Jones and chronicled the history of getting this puppy published. Among some of the changes: Last weekend, I reorganized the first fifty pages–again. I reorchestrated it such that the gangbang scene is now the, shall we say, climax of the first fifty pages, and, frankly, that seems, well, far more fitting. We’re waiting to see what’s on page 69.