Reluctant Habits

Dalton Trumbo’s Deep Throat

Posted by in Film, Politics, Satire

FADE IN: EXT. WASHINGTON D.C. — DAY Several ENSLAVED EX-GOVERNMENT WORKERS, all of them in their nineties, are led by ROMAN CENTURIONS into the Washington Monument. The famed landmark is surrounded by crosses, where various elderly men are in the process of being crucified. Each Centurion has an American flag burned into their bronzed armor and a torn up copy of the Constitution in their back pockets. All wear watches. One Centurion, CRASSUS, looks suspiciously like a younger version of Laurence Olivier. [NOTE TO PRODUCER: Talk to the boys behind…read more

0

Taking A Bite Out of the Big Apple

Posted by in Technical

Postings are going to be light and then heavy. But whatever the format and timing, they will be comprehensive on the other side. Either way, my ass is heading to New York to check out this BEA bidness. Count on this site to give you the honest lowdown and to seek out the devoted stragglers. If you’re in town, I’ll be at the Slipper Room on Thursday night (between 6-8) with several other nice lit bloggers. Please stop by and say hello.

1

Insomnia

Posted by in Beatles, Roundup, Sex

How to make a lightsaber dildo The Daily Dancer: “I am Daily Dancer, a computer geek who loves to dance! Every weekday morning, you can watch me dance to a different song.” Reflectoporn: The infamous eBay image kick starts a new movement. Classic Good Girl and Romance Covers Seventies’ Greatest Album Covers (with histories of design conception) Beatles TMI Twins deliver babies on same day Forget Me Not Panties: obviously for those who don’t build relationships on trust.

1

Sun-Soaked Roundup

Posted by in Blogging, Everyday World, Hemingway, Roundup, Technology

Sarah is interviewed by Kacey Kowars. Sarah talks about the history of her blog, how she reads and selects content, her new day job, inter alia. The subject of “mean-spiritedness” is also brought up, to which I reply that what I do here isn’t nearly as vicious as 200 proof vodka. I trust most people to read between the lines. So what were some of the other LBC nominees? Were they corporate sellouts? Were they part of the “literary demi-puppet” conspiracy? Au contrarire. Michael Orthofer weighs in on his selection,…read more

2

I Heart Garry Trudeau

Posted by in Uncategorized

The latest Doonesbury pretty much sums up my disillusionment with Memorial Day.

1

Things Just Got A Bit Hotter in Saudi Arabia

Posted by in Uncategorized

King Fahd is dead. This guy’s next in line. Crown Prince Abdullah is mostly friendly, but unlike Fahd, Abdullah didn’t like American involvement in the initial Gulf War and tried to broker a peace deal with Israel. Expect oil prices to climb and international relations to get rather interesting.

0

Vollmann Club Update

Posted by in Uncategorized

Several new Vollmann posts are up. The main page has been updated.

0

Well, Living Your Life By A Movie Can’t Be All Bad If It Eventually Involves Triple-Breasted Ladies

Posted by in Uncategorized

[Above: Arnold using taxpayers' money to stage a scene and play a guy performing construction.] [Below: Arnold using Hollywood money to stage a scene and play a guy performing construction in the film Total Recall.]

0

California State Assembly: The Forum for Fruits & Nuts

Posted by in Uncategorized

Scott points to this disturbing article. The California State Assembly has decided to ban school districts from purchasing textbooks longer than 200 pages. The bill itself can be found here. As phrased, the bill could actually go beyond mere textbooks and be destructive to books in general. AB 756 states, “This bill would prohibit the State Board of Education and school district from adopting instruction materials that exceed 200 pages in length.” So what are instructional materials? According to California Education Code Section 60010(h), “instructional materials” are defined as “all…read more

0

Oh, More Hype of It All!

Posted by in Uncategorized

Michiko: “It’s a book as hip and intermittently tender as Dave Eggers’s ‘Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,’ as gripping and overstuffed as David Foster Wallace’s ‘Infinite Jest.’” L.A. Times: “The main problem is that Wilsey hews too closely to the McSweeney literary model: typographical tricks, hyper-fluency in pop culture and exuberantly high-pitched prose. All conspire against the emotional registers he so wants to express.” Francine Prose: “To write about the sufferings of the well-to-do imposes a certain set of demands on a writer, and Wilsey rises to the challenge with…read more

2

A History of Violence

Posted by in Uncategorized

Cronenberg’s new film, A History of Violence, looks like a ballbuster.

0

Ten Things I Wish I Did

Posted by in Uncategorized

While I believe it’s still possible to do some of these things, I still wish to respond to Mr. Teachout’s recent item. Here are ten things I feel a sizable regret not doing (or at least putting off): 1. Learning to play the piano. 2. Learning French. 3. Visiting Rome and looking for what remains of the road markers. 4. Personally cooking the food for and preparing a fantastic dinner involving at least 50 guests. 5. Having a one-on-one three hour conversation with the President about the issues of our…read more

0

Maybe Because Machines Designed to Destroy Aren’t Sentient Enough to Populate a Narrative? Just a Wild Guess.

Posted by in Uncategorized

Jimmy Beck has the scoop on Charles Baxter. He writes: When asked what he was working on, he said he spent two years on a novel about bombs but gave up on it. Perhaps because it was too disturbing? I don’t remember exactly. “I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I’ve gone back to short stories.”

0

Author Recognition Survey Results

Posted by in Uncategorized

METHODOLOGY: On May 26, 2005, during lunch hour, surveyor Edward Champion asked various people in the Embarcadero Center (a multi-block shopping center in San Francisco’s Financial District), if they had heard of eleven authors. The surveyor tried not to discriminate by age, gender, race, or class. Among the participants were a smug investment banker who claimed to be “a literary type” (and who was only able to identify two authors) and a down-to-earth cable car operator catching a smoke between runs. Ten women and nine men were asked in person…read more

4

In the Works

Posted by in Uncategorized

We’ve finally discovered that we can actually view the Internet on our cell phone and that it actually loads fairly fast (under the circumstances) and looks pretty darn spiffy. The problem, of course, is that this blog isn’t yet designed for those tiny display resolutions (or, rather, a specific URL for you mobile folks does not yet exist). Because of this, when we eventually do redesign this damn site, we’ll be considering those of you with mobile devices. The other thing: some of you have written in expressing interest in…read more

1

Deconstructing Amazon Images

Posted by in Uncategorized

The website AAUGH has unearthed how Amazon adds those annoying image tags (“40% Off!”) to their cover images. It’s all in the tags. (via )MeFi)

0

On Audio Books and Reading

Posted by in Uncategorized

In a heated post, Scott takes audiobooks to task, pointing out that the audio book experience ain’t tantamount to reading. “Listen Jim,” writes Scott, “and all other audiobookphiles out there: If I can barely wrap my little mind around Vollmann while I’m holding the book right before my face and re-reading each sentence 5 times each, how in the hell am I going to understand it if some nitwit is reading it to me while I’m brewing a cappuchino on my at-home Krups unit?” While I would agree with Scott…read more

2

Updated Hitchhiker’s Guide Entry: Case Histories Mostly Not a Bestseller

Posted by in Uncategorized

At the LBC site, editor Reagan Arthur weighs in on Case Histories. Arthur confesses her partiality, but does remark that Case Histories is the first of Atkinson’s novels to go into six American hardcover printings. Atkinson also playfully points out that Case Histories‘ sales are “not so stratospherics” and that, thus far, it has not hit any bestsellers list.

0

Birnbaum Alert

Posted by in Uncategorized

Seconds after throwing the Birnbaum Signal into the sky, our literary superhero respodned by interviewing Courtney Angela Brkic and Kevin Guilfoile. Commissioner Gordon’s services are no longer required.

0

Literary Awareness

Posted by in Uncategorized

Today at The Elegant Variation, during the course of Kevin Smokler’s appearance via the Virtual Book Tour, there was a heated though civilized thread about whether the infamous Reading at Risk report issued by the BEA was useful or even genuinely reflective of diminishing literary awareness. Arguments concerning the methodology and the resultant media reaction (which Smokler contends is equivalent to hyperbole involving those darn kids who listen to rock and roll back in the day, a sentiment I certainly agree with) were unloaded. But the central question of whether…read more

7

Will Repetition Destroy Vollmann’s Legacy?

Posted by in Uncategorized

While reading The Rainbow Stories, a book that I’ve been greatly enjoying (if kicking around with skinheads, drug addicts and terrorists can be “enjoyed”), I’ve been giving a lot of thought to some of the book’s parallels with other Vollmann ideas that appear later in his work. In Rainbow, several brief mentions, for example, are given to the failed artist as clerk, specifically the time that the clerk leaves (eight thirty). This reminded me almost immediately of Vollmann’s wonderful description of commuters entering the subway like dung beetles to their…read more

0

A Craving Holds Across the Blogosphere

Posted by in Uncategorized

For those who can’t wait for the Pynchon Bookforum issue (which we are salivating for as readily as the Learned English Dog), as Maud points out, much of it is available online. There, you can find reminiscences from some top-notch writers (including Richard Powers, George Saunders, Lydia Davis, Don DeLilo and Jeffrey Eugenides).

1

The Great Speeches

Posted by in Uncategorized

American Rhetoric has listed the top 100 speeches of all time. The text is available for all speeches. But what’s particularly amazing is that audio exists for a substantial chunk of these. The obvious ones are here. But the site is a fantastic trip down memory lane. This speech takes me back to fifth grade sitting at a desk with other stunned kids watching the television, while this speech, which I was not alive to hear, continues to amuse me with its hypocrisies.

4

Email Catchup

Posted by in Uncategorized

I’ve sent close to 150 emails tonight and I’m still backed up. If you sent me an email before May 5 about something, give me a buzz and I’ll respond. My profuse apologies for the delay. It’s been busy. But hopefully I’ll make up for it this week.

0

He’s Not a Naughty Librarian, But We Suspect He’ll Do

Posted by in Uncategorized

Pop Matters has kicked off a new column entitled “Bad Librarian.” The column is written by Erik Wennermark, a man who may or may not bite the heads off of small animals. (It all depends on your political persuasion, although, in light of the Patriot Act, we forgive Mr. Wennermark’s paranoia.) In his inaugural column, Wennermark prides himself on being a fake librarian, meaning that he’s man enough to confess that he doesn’t have the full MLS credentials, while pointing out a secret library dogma: don’t rag on the poor…read more

0

The Worst Kind of Blogging Hiatus Imaginable

Posted by in Uncategorized

A blogger, merely worrying about his Japanese report, posted an eerie entry just before he was murdered. Police used it to find the killer. Eerie stuff. (via MeFi)

0

The Robert Sheckley Fund

Posted by in Uncategorized

Neil Gaiman provides the link for a Paypal fund for the noted science fiction satirist Robert Sheckley. Sheckley, as reported here not too long ago, is currently recovering in Kiev from respiratory failure. According to this press release, Sheckley’s condition has improved. His lungs are now clear from infection. But upon his return to the United States, Sheckley will require hospitalization. This is where you come in. Alternatively, checks to Mr. Sheckley can also be sent to P.O. Box 656, Pine Plains, NY 12567. (Additional details are available at Sheckley’s…read more

0

Whither the Beach Book?

Posted by in Uncategorized

To whit: Phil at Collected Miscellany asks whether reading choices are related to the season. Anthony Miller looks into the “summer reading” semantics. The Columbus Telegram takes the tone of a schoolmarm, perhaps losing potential summer readers in the process. And there are lifelong cognitive advantages to reading during the summer. To address all of this, I should start by saying from the offset that I view “summer reading” as a load of poppycock. This may have something to do with living in a city where the weather remains fairly…read more

3

Pynchon Anecdote of the Month

Posted by in Uncategorized

Said Laurie Anderson: “She tells a story about asking Thomas Pynchon whether she could turn his novel Gravity’s Rainbow into an opera. He said yes, but only if it was played on one instrument: the banjo. ‘Some people have the nicest ways of saying no.’” [RELATED NEWS: Holy cow! The new Bookforum will be a special issue on Pynchon. Hat tip: Rake and Derik.]

1

The Impetus Behind CliffsNotes

Posted by in Uncategorized

If you’re like me, you avoid CliffsNotes with a passion and go out of your way to remember pedantic book details that the slackers salivating over those by-chapter summaries in those hideous yellow pamphlets will never possibly account for. (For example, I still remember almost two decades after I read Animal Farm that Napoleon was a Berkshire boar.) If you’re also like me, you’re probably curious about who this Cliff character was, the man who opened Pandora’s box back in the day. Fortunately, Ask Yahoo! has some of the details….read more

0