Reluctant Habits

The Fiery Furnaces

Posted by in Music

This is a public service announcement. Avoid the Fiery Furnaces live. In the studio, the Fiery Furnaces are perhaps one of the more interesting White Stripes-style experimenters working today. But as a live band, they are about as tedious as a snare-bass backbeat that goes on without variation for six hours. Their drummer is an imbecile who seems to be under the mistaken impression that his six crappy fills, repeated ad nauseum, and his relentless pounding make him today’s answer to Keith Moon. The man beat so hard on his…read more

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TBR

Posted by in Reading

Since some of you asked… (Note: Some of these are rereads.) Okay, I’m officially out of here.

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Unapologetic Slacker

Posted by in Slackers

I’ve become such an effective slacker in the past week that, after some conversations with friends and family, I’ve decided to sequester myself from the Internet for the next three days. I apologize if I haven’t answered your email. But then I haven’t had the opportunity to slack like this for sometime. And I’m enjoying it immensely. Will get to the next Tanenhaus Brownie Watch sometime on Monday evening. In the meantime, visit the fine folks on the left. Meanwhile, here’s a guide for effective slackdom: Lie in bed as…read more

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But Where’s Jimmy’s Answer to ‘Guero?”

Posted by in Blogging

The incomparable Jimmy Beck now has a blog of his own.

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Morning Pileup

Posted by in Franzen, Jonathan, Libraries, Roundup

Frederick Forsyth has decided to run against Tony Blair. Well, if this is what it takes to get him to stop writing, count me in as one of his most febrile supporters. Chang-rae Lee’s next novel will center around the Korean War. The story will involve “a refugee girl raised in America after the war, a solider and an aid worker during the war.” Lee also confessed that he made a mistake titling his last novel Aloft, pointing out that too many people were hoping for a gripping tale about…read more

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Nine Inch Nails Live

Posted by in Music

So the big question Nine Inch Nails acolytes might be asking themselves is whether a cleaned up, happier, and oddly meatier Trent Reznor still puts out a good live show after five years off the concert circuit. The answer is a bona-fide yes. On Wednesday night, I caught Nine Inch Nails at the Warfield. While the familiar stage elements were there (every member of the band resembles Trent Reznor; the live band goes out of its way to “adapt” each computer-generated song into a live set piece using real instruments,…read more

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In Defense of “Interiors”

Posted by in Allen, Woody, Film

I’ve put off seeing Woody Allen’s Interiors for years, largely because I had the misfortune of sitting through September and Shadows and Fog almost immediately after their respective release dates. My hesitation has always echoed the line leveled by the film’s critics: that Woody Allen’s dramas are essentially Bergman-lite, that they deal with WASPish characters, and that they are about as icy as a weekend spent in a meat locker. So it was a bit of a surprise to see that my notions were dispelled when finally seeing the film….read more

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Afternoon Headlines

Posted by in Harry Potter, Libraries, Roundup, Vowell, Sarah

The illustrious Mark Sarvas has served up spectacular coverage of the L.A. Times Book Festival. He even makes a noble attempt to understand Steve Almond. We also wish Mr. Sarvas the best wishes on his new reign as a teacher. A new novel penned by the late Park Tae-won has been found. The new book’s called Flag of Motherland and is the first novel Park wrote before crossing the border during the Korean War. Arianna Huffington has launched a group blog. Alarmingly, Michael Medved is involved. Why publicist Shawn Le…read more

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Virulent Indeed!

Posted by in Music

Graham has the Mike Oldfield review to end all Mike Oldfield reviews. (via Speedy Snail)

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Paul Maliszewski Update

Posted by in Uncategorized

Moby Lives‘ latest column features an interview with Paul Maliszewski. Maliszewski reveals that he didn’t talk to NYT reporter Alex Mindlin because “something wasn’t right” and clarifies his motivations behind the Bookforum article, pointing out that his interest was more in exposing the exploitation of Chabon’s fabricated tale. N+1 also weighs in, taking an in-depth look at the effect of Chabon’s lecture.

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We’re the Dumbest Folks in Our Neighborhood and It’s All Because We Missed Last Week’s “Lost”

Posted by in Uncategorized

Steven Johnson says that television makes you smarter: During its 44 minutes — a real-time hour, minus 16 minutes for commercials — the episode connects the lives of 21 distinct characters, each with a clearly defined ”story arc,” as the Hollywood jargon has it: a defined personality with motivations and obstacles and specific relationships with other characters. Nine primary narrative threads wind their way through those 44 minutes, each drawing extensively upon events and information revealed in earlier episodes. Draw a map of all those intersecting plots and personalities, and…read more

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A Message for Oprah

Posted by in Uncategorized

Dear Oprah: Some writers have kneeled down in front of you and asked you to kiss their rings. They have implored you to revive the Oprah Book Club that many book lovers grew to tolerate in much the same way that a seven year old contends with lima beans. That is to say with obscene crying, childish temper tantrums, and an order from flatmates to go to their rooms without supper. Clearly, a woman of your intelligence can understand that this is not how grown adults should react to books….read more

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Support Sacramento Punk

Posted by in Uncategorized

The Secretions, a long-time punk staple of Sacramento (and part of the Q Street Scene that I was acquainted with back in the day), will be playing at Bottom of the Hill on May 4. Tickets are only $7. Other shows are planned for Fresno, Ventura, Tuscon, New Mexico, Texas, Las Vegas and Reno. Mickie Rat’s a good guy. Dr. Mabuse says check him out.

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We’d Hate IKEA Too, But We Have an Uncontrollable Urge to Build Things That Remind Us of Tinker-Toys. Damn Swedes Exploiting Our Childhood Memories!

Posted by in Uncategorized

Charles endures IKEA: The website, the catalogue, and the floor model were all carefully labelled “King.” They most definitely did NOT say “King if you MacGyver two together with some sort of ghetto-ass connector.” I’m literally turning red as I give the Socialist bastard the all-American one-finger salute, walking back to the checkstand, muttering under my breath that I will never, ever buy another Ericsson product again, on principle.

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Tanenhaus Watch: April 24, 2005

Posted by in Uncategorized

WEEKLY QUESTION: Will this week’s NYTBR reflect today’s literary and publishing climate? 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. I didn’t receive so much as a thank you from Mr. Tanenhaus for the Fat Witch shipment I sent him last week. That’s okay. I’m sure he’s a busy guy. Even so, if this week’s NYTBR is any indication of things…read more

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Josh Rouse Must Be Stopped

Posted by in Uncategorized

“It’s exactly the same,” he says with perfect confidence. “Why would we change anything?” — Rolling Stone Mellow soulless pop has a new name to add to its limitless ledger. If my predictions are correct, within eighteen months, Josh Rouse will smear every Pottery Barn bedroom with his treacly ballads (too many of which reference a television blaring in the background) and have every tone-deaf yuppie tapping their toes to Rouse’s distinctive vacuity. Bad enough that there’s barely any edge to this guy. Try seeing this guy live. On the…read more

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Doctor Who — “The Aliens of London”

Posted by in Uncategorized

Aliens invade London, there’s a military presence around the United Kingdom, but there’s no UNIT commander (where’s the Brigadier?). Downing Street is easily infiltrated by aliens despite stern security measure after 9/11? This isn’t Doctor Who. This is bad science fiction. If I wanted another crude monster flick, I’d watch a Jack Arnold movie.

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The Concertgoing Experience After 30

Posted by in Uncategorized

When you’re thirty, the wiggle room for live shows narrows — even if you’ve devoted enough to hit the gym and keep a svelte figure. If you’re like me, sometimes when attending a show, you end up discovering that you’re the oldest guy on the floor. Case in point: When Tom and I went to go catch Less Than Jake a few years ago, the age disparity was so great that we felt that we needed to join the AARP. I won’t mention our humiliating efforts in the mosh pit,…read more

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Blasphemous A Definite Code Word for “Humorless”

Posted by in Uncategorized

Moby Lives has additional leads on the “blasphemous emails” that Dave Eggers was complaining about. In a thread on Radosh, excerpts from The Pearl Files have been posted. Scott McLemee has more.

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SF Sightings — Wlliam T. Vollmann

Posted by in Uncategorized

It was the end of another sunny day in the Haight — the perfect weather to get acclimatized for a journey into the dark and depressing world of William T. Vollmann. He was reading at the Booksmith. I met up early with Tito and Scott for a little bit of collective preparation. Scott and I weren’t too sure that our sake martinis would cut the mustard with a man of Vollmann’s temperament. Were our beverages masculine and intellectual enough? More importantly, were they violent enough? Why not Molotovs? It was…read more

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The Three Amigos Play Rashomon

Posted by in Uncategorized

Tonight, at the Booksmith, Scott, Tito and I will be there to check out William T. Vollman. The event is at 7PM. This is the same place that Vollman once fired a starter pistol. I’ll be taking notes and so will the other boys. But if you can make it, please feel free to say hello.

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Items

Posted by in Uncategorized

Anne Rice has put up several homes for sale. If this is a sign that Rice is hard up for cash, I sure as hell hope that she doesn’t end up tripling her output. Apparently, there are substantial dangers in recommending books. Geotectonic plates have been known to shift. Tsunamis have spontaneously erupted in Middle America shortly after someone recommended The Kite Runner for the 892nd time in one day. Remember, kids, don’t recommend books while driving. One more reason to love Alice Munro: she’s behind some eco-friendly publishing. That’s…read more

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Dream of the Blog Room

Posted by in Uncategorized

Local writer Michelle Richmond has a new blog. Welcome to the blogosphere, Michelle!

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McSweeney’s Newsletter Followup

Posted by in Uncategorized

We’ve just heard from an anonymous reader concerning “The Pearl Report,” the email newsletter that was apparently written by Paul Maliszewski. Again, if anyone has any additional leads on what content was featured within “The Pearl Report,” then we will certainly post them. The reader writes: Forgive the nom de plume but I’m avoiding the Wrath of Dave. In late 2001 I (and apparently a number of people whose names were culled from the McSweeney’s e list) began receiving, about two or three times a month, emails with the subject…read more

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Please Welcome Der Furhrer Your New Pope

Posted by in Uncategorized

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It Ain’t Exactly Mailer-Vidal, But We’ll Bite.

Posted by in Uncategorized

Jonathan Safran Foer, in a post that is likely fake unless Mr. Foer would like to corroborate it, has responded to Steve Almond’s takedown: Me and you should hang out, really. With my ironic-ironic-ironic-ironic pretentiousness and profound postmodern invulnerability and your high-school / freshman-year-in-college ironic, I’m-not-pretentiousness-because-I-am-aware-that-I-might-be-pretentious-and-also-because-when-I-feel-that-I’m-being-pretentious-I-go-ahead-and-say-that-I’m-being-pretentious (and I use a lot of cliches in my language, just like on TV and in Hollywood movies) we can be really profound and postmodern and probably we can achieve true art really quickly, in like two minutes, and then after we can eat…read more

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Interviews A Go-Go

Posted by in Uncategorized

As Maud has noted, the 1970s archive of the Paris Review DNA of Literature Archive is up. While Maud’s dancing over Didion, I’m sinking my teeth into the conversations with Anthony Burgess, who talks about Joyce at length, and Stanley Elkin, who notes that he had “a year of study in bed,” reading continuously for a year and staying in bed, only getting up to teach his classes. And speaking of interviews, Birnbaum is back, this time talking with Jonathan Safran Foer.

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Virtual Sweatshop

Posted by in Uncategorized

While it’s very nice to see coverage of the book world online, the Village Voice does raise an interesting point about Kevin Smokler‘s Virtual Book Tour. Smokler charges $1,500 for a one-day tour, allowing an author to make the rounds on several other blogs. (A three-day intensive will set you back about $3,000.) Smokler pockets the money from the publisher, and doesn’t distribute any of it among the blogs who essentially turn themselves into uncritical advertisers of an author. Instead, he offers a free copy of the book for each…read more

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Add “Humorless” to E—–’ CV

Posted by in Uncategorized

As Beatrice has pointed out, there’s more to the Michael Chabon hoax (profiled in the current issue of Bookforum) then meets the eye. It seems that He Who Shall Not Be Named fired Paul Maliszewski from McSweeeney’s for sending out a fabricated email containing lies about various writers. E—– claims that it wasn’t funny. I’ve tried Googling around for the particular email, but I’ve had no luck. Later today, I’m going to pick up the latest issue of Bookforum to see if I can get more answers from the complete…read more

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RIP Marla Ruzicka

Posted by in Uncategorized

Activist Marla Ruzicka has died. She was only 28. Had it not been for Ruzicka’s efforts, Iraqi families who lost relatives courtesy of U.S. bombs might not have been compensated.

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