Reluctant Habits

I Need a Vacation

Posted by in Personal

Okay, I fully confess (the dropoff in stats and Blogllines subscribers doesn’t lie!) that I’ve been biting the big one lately and that my posts these days leave much to be desired. (Hell, I can’t even find time for the Tanenhaus Brownie Watch.) There are reasons for this — namely, other projects and things that I’m working on, which are whittling away my wit faster than you can say summer camp. So I’ve decided to throw in the towel for about a week or so and come back to this…read more

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RIP Shelby Foote

Posted by in Obits

As noted elsewhere, Shelby Foote has passed on. Technorati Tags: Shelby Foote

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Author Commencement Speeches

Posted by in Speeches

Bill Clinton: 1998 Hilary Rodham Clinton: 1969 (as Hilary Rodham) 1992 Richard Fenyman: 1974 Doris Kearns Goodwin: 1998 John Grisham: 1992 Lyndon B. Johnson: 1965 Nora Ephron: 1996 Erica Jong: [Booed this year; anyone have a transcript?] John F. Kennedy: 1962 Stephen King: 2001 2005 Wally Lamb: 2003 Madeline L’Engle: 1991 Ursula K. LeGuin: 1983 Frank McCourt: 1999 David McCullough: 1986 Toni Morrison: 2004 Conan O’Brien: 2000 Anna Quindlen: 1999 2002 Salman Rushdie: 1996 Richard Russo: 2004 Alexander Solzhenitsyn: 1978 (controversy) Gloria Steinem: 1993 Jon Stewart: 2004 Kurt Vonnegut: 1997…read more

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Yeah, That Thing They’re Taking Back to Mom is Called a Guilt Complex and Endless Therapy For the Next 20 Years

Posted by in Weight

The New York Times on fat camps: “‘Maybe they’re not losing the weight specifically, but instead they’re learning something that they can use 20 years down the road and put into use when they’re ready,’ said Marla Coleman, a former president of the American Camping Association.”

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Leading Alt-Weekly Exploits Workers

Posted by in Journalism, Mergers

All is not well in the New York alt-weekly world. Gawker reports that the Village Voice has proposed a contract for its writers that not only almost completely cuts out benefits, but offers a wage increase of $15/week. $15 may not get you health care, but it might just get you a movie and a few slices of pizza! Or perhaps a mousetrap to buy for the rat-infested warrens that the Voice overlords hope their staff can inhabit. Now perhaps this has something to do with the rumors making the…read more

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Hot Chicks + Ten-Sided Die = Laughs

Posted by in Dating, Geeks

Geek Fantasies: an absolutely absurd take on fetishistic sites. Take Preview #2, where we see a camera crane up a blonde’s bikini-clad body. The end of the clip has this blonde uttering, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.” Or Preview #3, where a girl fondles a Transformer and then replies, “Mint condition.”

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Proposed Titles for Terry McMillan’s Next Book

Posted by in mcmillan-terry

The Litigation of Everything A Few Years Late and a Sexual Orientation Short Disappearing Cash How Stella Got Her Groove Jacked Waiting for Ex in Jail [in relation to this]

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Speedy Gonzales Roundup

Posted by in Cheever, John, Kakutani, Michiko, Poetry, Roundup

Salon revisits John Cheever’s first novel, The Wapshot Chronicle. (Also at Salon: the first of a four-part expose on the Church of Scientology.) Norman Mailer calls Michiko a “one-woman kamikaze.” Presumably, because he hopes to demonstrate that he was spouting forth incoherent comments just before kicking the bucket. Books are apparently making a comeback in Iraq. The Chronicle‘s Edward Guthmann talks with David McCullough. Ismail Kadare will be picking up his World Booker today. A 2,600 year old lesbian love poem written by Sappho has been found and published. It…read more

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My Head Hurts! Therefore, Comic Books Are Bad!

Posted by in Book Babes, Book Reviewing, Comics

Proving once again how culturally irrelevant they are, the Book Babes have declared graphic novels as the harbinger of evil. So suggesth one Ellen Hetzel: I am patiently working my way through two graphic novels, David B?s Epileptic and Marjane Satrapi’s Embroideries, just one more indication in our world that Western culture increasingly depends on visual messages to perceive and understand what’s going on. Do I think this is a good thing? No. It seems like the mind has to be able to wrap itself around abstract ideas in order…read more

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BEA: The Last Post

Posted by in BEA

Several weekends outside of the City prevented me from getting to the remainder of the BEA material I collected. But this weekend, I went through the material, eliminated a good deal of the quacks, and now offer the final installment of my BEA coverage. Media Blasters is a publisher which specializes in translations of Japanese and Korean books. They’ve just produced their first original Japanese book called Death Trance, a tie-in to an upcoming film by Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus). Frank Pannone told me that Death Trance features samurais, zombies, ninjas…read more

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Creature Features and More

Posted by in Television

If you lived in Northern California and remember the UHF programming of the 1960s through the 1980s, this site has done an admirable job chronicling the various ways that UHF stations aired movies during that time (complete with fantastic hosts such as Bob Wilkins and cheesy jokes galore). If you were too young or you weren’t growing up in the area, let’s just say that you missed out an a very important cultural indoctrination process. I’d venture to say that I wouldn’t hold nearly as much regard for Godzilla or…read more

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Round Robin

Posted by in Campbell, Bruce, Frey, James, Kerouac, New York Times, Ozick, Cynthia, Public Broadcasting, Roundup

In light of the assaults on eminent domain and flag burning (and with the frightening prospect of Justice Rehnquist resigning looming in the air), there’s at least some good news on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting/PBS budget cuts. Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted by a 284-140 vote to rescind the $100 million cutback. And that’s really what current politics is about these days: finding scant hope in small victories while the fiber and sanctity of this nation is gutted. So bust out the party poppers while the apocalypse ravages…read more

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Watered Down Knowledge, The Slim-Fast Book Diet: What a Concept!

Posted by in Book Length, Literary Motifs

For the last 12 years, the wax has accumulated in my ears, preventing me from comprehending any book more than 200 pages. Brain cells have been lost thanks to an unfortunate experience with hallucinogenics that occurred during my midlife crisis. And I no longer have any patience for a reading experience that lasts longer than 45 minutes. Since the Times is so gutless when it comes to printing four letter words (yet strangely fixated on sodomy and other carnal activities of the genteel), and since it harbors an illusion that…read more

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Condi’s Teeth Continue Steady Transmutation to Pure Evil; Well On Their Way to Palpantine Proportions

Posted by in Photo Headlines

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Morning Linkage

Posted by in Film, Houellebecq, Michel, King, Stephen, Public Access, Roundup, San Francisco, Wallace, David Foster

I’m trying my best to post lengthy entries (and reply to the email backlog), but other obligations have kept me firmly bogged. In the meantime, here’s some morning linkage: David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College a few weeks ago. (via Scott Esposito, who has returned from Spain and has somehow managed to get the keys back from Dan Wickett) A whole-hearted congratulations to M.A.O. for being selected one of Time‘s 50 Coolest Websites. Ron Hogan has a modest proposal. Even though his idea doesn’t involve cannibalism,…read more

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Primer

Posted by in Film

I have just seen the film Primer, and my head fucking hurts. But in a very good way. Do I know what went on? Somewhat. What makes this film such a delight is how it can be viewed as both a left brain experience or a right brain experience. The left brain can soak up the multiple timelines and time travel devices (I believe there were at least four, but I wasn’t taking notes) and try to keep up. The right brain can relish in the confusion and accept the…read more

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Former House Speaker Farts in Committee “For Old Time’s Sake”

Posted by in Photo Headlines

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Roundup

Posted by in Awards, Film, Libraries, pamuk-orhan, Roundup

Because one can never cover too many awards, I note that Orhan Pamuk has won the 2005 Book Trade Peace Prize. The prize is the most coveted literary award in Germany. Alan Riding points to a quiet controversy that has been unearthed regarding women’s writing prizes (and the Orange Prize in particular). Specifically, novelist Anne Fine is quoted, “I do think the Orange Prize has created a division, an artificial barrier where there was only an awful inequality.” Perhaps the answer is much simpler. Could it be because Fine has…read more

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What to Do at a Reading

Posted by in Uncategorized

M.J. Rose has put up a list of ten things not to do when publicizing your book. Beyond Rose’s troubling Miss Manners-style tone, as a man who tries to attend several readings a month, there are a few reality alerts that need to be addressed. 1. Most of the people who attend readings are probably not going to be familiar with your book, much less you. They are, as Stanley Elkin repeatedly suggested in George Mills, more likely to be there for the free food and wine. This in itself…read more

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Another Ego Who Makes Generalizations About the Locals, Another Ungrateful and Overhyped Author

Posted by in Uncategorized

Like the Rake, I’m mystified why no one in Denver has put this smug bastard in his place. Perhaps the concept of “When in Denver, do as the Denverites do” only applies if you get less press than Tom and Katie. But then I like omelets and I also realize that 99% of Jeep drivers aren’t thinking about Nick at Nite every minute they drive. I think it’s safe to say that now there is no way in hell that I’m reading this memoir, even if the book is placed…read more

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Call in Chabon & Lethem

Posted by in Uncategorized

Patricia Storms strikes again. This time, it’s the publishing industry. Even the LBC “controversy” gets sent up. (via Bookdwarf)

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Roundup

Posted by in Uncategorized

Cory Doctorow’s Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, a very nutty-looking novel about Alan, the son of a mountain and a washing machine, is, like Cory’s other books, available for download under a Creative Commons license. Well beyond the war over “chick lit” (a term that, as far as I’m concerned, refers to those tasty square blocks of gum rather than books) is the more visible war over “women’s fiction.” Elizabeth Berg is the latest to complain. In an unfortunate scenario straight out of Nicholson Baker’s Double Fold, Matthew…read more

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Three Strikes and a Long Way from “Fever Pitch”

Posted by in Uncategorized

Three strikes against Nick Hornby: Stephen Metcalf, TMFTML and Laura Demanski. We gave up on the man after How to Be Good and suggest you do the same. Let’s put it this way: he’s the Moby of literature.

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At This Rate, We’ll Have Regular Three Day Weekends By 2050

Posted by in Uncategorized

The two-day weekend, as we know it, is a mere sixty-five years old. More at Ask Yahoo.

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The Black Helicopters Hover Just Next to the Plunger

Posted by in Uncategorized

Ayelet Waldman: “Every popped light bulb is a catastrophe, every leaky faucet spells if not the end of the world then surely the beginning of months of crack-assed plumbers hunched over my sinks and toilets, flushing my hard-earned dollars down their mysterious drains.” Will someone get her a good therapist? Save the Chabon family!

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Persona Non Grata

Posted by in Uncategorized

Maud pointed out the Neal Pollack/Dave Eggers fracas this morning and made a case for honest criticism. I don’t have any self-serving magazine manifesto or “woe is me” Eggers-style panegyric to contribute to this argument, but there are two additional misleading statements in the Pollack article that should be pointed out. The first needs to be corroborated, but if it is true, then I will update this post with the rather interesting results. If true, Pollack doesn’t have nearly the sense of humor or “thick skin” that he claims he…read more

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Partial List of the Class of ’05

Posted by in Uncategorized

William S. Morricone-Goldsmith; Joaquin Stick; Enrique Insalada Suavo; “Little” Nell Carter-Mondale; Henrietta Hi-Fi Tapa; Georgia Savannah Cargostygian; Gilbert Fishernie Scale; Christian Muslim Disciple; Patricia Pedunda Removal; Abigail Winslow Flexbreeze; Gershwin Girthloss Waverley; Zachary Payne Lastoo; Faith B. Initiative; Octavia Gregoria Calendar; Jesse James Cleaner; Freddie Friday Freedom; Vernice Itralia Carnal; Ryan Whiskian the Fifth; Huey Louie Dewey; Stephanie Stair Io; Debbie Does Dallas; Ami Amy Amyself; Abby Road Listener; Milford Paperchevy Treedodge; Gino Effyes Emaybee; Connie Artis Tree; Quinten Common Divider; Buster Chops; Carl S. McDonald, Jr.; Dusty Bowler; Jay…read more

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James Howard Kuntsler Goes to Raging Waters

Posted by in Uncategorized

While on my book tour for The Long Emergency, I attended a place known as Raging Waters, a “waterslide theme park” that’s a first-class cesspool devoted to energy-wasting frivolities. Given the name, I had hoped that the place might sustain my relentless anger and high blood pressure. But the cabana boys were friendlier (if nowhere nearly as smart as me) than I expected. So I was forced to concede that because I wasn’t in my comfortable, heavily secured and energy-efficient bunker in upstate New York, this waterslide park was yet…read more

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Fuck Two Buck Chuck

Posted by in Uncategorized

Everywhere I go these days, from swank parties to low-key affairs, I see people — charming and intelligent people who should know better — gripping their red plastic cups (and sometimes actual wine glasses) with this godawful ruddy swill called two buck chuck. The whole point of this ghastly red liquid is to get as drunk as fucking possible using as little money as possible. (In this case, two measly dollars.) Which makes it another part of this goddam lofty American ideal: Get there as fast as you can in…read more

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Questionable Axiom of the Week

Posted by in Uncategorized

“No woman is worth dating, much less talking to, if she can’t name the three major oceans. And if she names the fourth (established a few years ago) or the fifth, then she’s more than okay in my book.” — Me, in email to friend.

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