Reluctant Habits

Auctorial Doppelgangers, Part Seven

Posted by in Uncategorized

PICTURED LEFT: Henry James, author of The American Scene PICTURED RIGHT: Winston Churchill, author of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples

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Auctorial Doppelgangers, Part Six

Posted by in Uncategorized

PICTURED LEFT: Doris Lessing, author of The Golden Notebook PICTURED RIGHT: Unidentified woman in Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.”

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Auctorial Doppelgangers, Part Five

Posted by in Uncategorized

PICTURED LEFT: Neal Pollack, former satirist and one-time front man of band. PICTURED RIGHT: Jack Black, former satirist and one-time front man of band.

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Auctorial Doppelgangers, Part Four

Posted by in Uncategorized

PICTURED LEFT: William T. Vollmann, with pistol. PICTURED RIGHT: Francis Ford Coppola, with pistol.

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Acutorial Doppelgangers, Part Three

Posted by in Uncategorized

Not here, mind you, but over at Tito’s.

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Because the “Value of a Person” Comes From How Womanly You Look As You’re Tearing Your Guts Out During a Prison Psychotherapy Session

Posted by in Prison

The Chronicle: “Onuma Chumsri, a 24-year-old Thai woman awaiting sentence for drug trafficking, was the winner Thursday night of the annual Miss Spring contest at Santa Monica Women’s Prison in Lima’s Chorrillos district. ‘Sex appeal is important but it is not as if we are seeking just the physical aspect but rather the value as a woman, the value of the person is the essence of all of this,’ said Maria Jaen, director of the prison. Prison officials said preparations for the contest started two months ago. Entrants were required…read more

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Auctorial Doppelgangers, Part Two

Posted by in Uncategorized

PICTURED LEFT: Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. PICTURED RIGHT: James Callis, “Dr. Gaius Baltar” from Battlestar Galactica [NOTE: Both tormented by significant other. Coincidence?]

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Auctorial Doppelgangers, Part One

Posted by in Uncategorized

PICTURED LEFT: Jerzy Kosinski, author of The Painted Bird. PICTURED RIGHT: Richard Kline, “Larry” from Three’s Company. (Inspired by Languor Management.)

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Roundup

Posted by in Uncategorized

Voodoo Lounge author Christian Bauman has apparently promised to reveal some of his personal foibles or, minimally, to blog naked during his guest appearance today at the Elegant Variation. We understand that the man is hot. Smoking hot. So hot that he’ll be serving as a surrogate pair of mittens in December or devoting said thermal energy to more fantastic offerings. In any event, Joe Bob says check him out. Frances Dinkelspiel offers a report on the film version of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Don’t let the Ohio…read more

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I Do Believe We Have Us Another Potential Watergate

Posted by in Politics

First, DeLay gets indicted. And now Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, has been outed by Judith Miller. Corruption leading all the way up to Bush and Cheney? Why, say, it ain’t so! Not in America! (And I should point out that given the dollops that anyone with progressive stripes has had to digest in the past four years, the lives lost, displaced and otherwise disrupted under the hands of the GOP goons, you are hereby granted permission by me to engage in as much schadenfreude as you need without…read more

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Prescient Remarks on the Swinging Pendulum

Posted by in Speculative Fiction

From a 1975 interview with William Tenn (aka Philip Klass): “I think we live in the freeest goddamn time in the history of Man. Insanely free time. There are freedoms now that I never thought would have been available. Just the kind of language I can use, and I wish — the things I could write about. And this — of all the criticisms of our society, so far as I’m concerned — is the ultimate freedom to date. We are the only society that is examining itself in an…read more

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Up Next: Ron Howard’s A Clockwork Orange

Posted by in Film

Brilliant.

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Set ‘Em Up

Posted by in Roundup, Uncategorized

Over at Maud’s, Tayari Jones (of whom we approve) weighs in on the Jim Crow approach to literature seen in Barnes & Noble and other places. Ghettoization, it seems, is not limited to genres. And Ms. Jones’ response is quite interesting. Robert “Is That a Tape Recorder in My Pocket?” Birnbaum talks with Paul Collins. Strangely, the recipe for a Tom Collins isn’t revealed during the course of the interview, leaving us with only one possible conclusion: Paul Collins is a bore at a cocktail party. Mary Lee Settle, founder…read more

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Harper’s and the Realities of the Internet

Posted by in Literary Magazines

We’ve only just been released from the hospital and we’re spending a good deal of time adjusting to our unexpected euphoria. We have some things to say about Ben Marcus’s Harper’s essay on Jonathan Franzen and experimental novelists (which we read ourselves the other day) that we hope we’ll find time to get to, although, at the present juncture, it looks unlikely. We’re as surprised as anyone that, save Reader of Depressing Books, the litblog scene has been so silent on it. (You lapped up Dale Peck. You lapped up…read more

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The Continued Collapse of Edward Champion, Part Six

Posted by in Uncategorized

The minute I heard the news that Tom DeLay had been indicted, I experienced a sudden burst of euphoria. I felt a wave of equanamity settle over my entire mind and body. I was good-natured and friendly. I didn’t mind if others won at the board games. Hell, I was feeling so good that I’d happily play the UnGame again. The doctors took me into a room and gave me a checkup. Then Heidi (the doctor) took me aside and said, “I don’t believe this, kid, but not only will…read more

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The Continued Collapse of Edward Champion, Part Five

Posted by in Uncategorized

I have to ask: What is the point of playing a board game when you can’t screw someone over? Is not the purpose of a game (whether life or Life) to win with as great a margin as possible? If I learned anything growing up in a chronically miserable and highly competitive family, it was this: If you don’t screw them over, then you’ll get screwed over. Play the game until they run to their bedroom sobbing. I’ve played several games of Monopoly, tittering like a smug bastard every time…read more

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The Continued Collapse of Edward Champion, Part Four

Posted by in Uncategorized

Like other folks, I had seen this Heidi Julavits article on nudity just before I checked in. It was one of the last things I had read just before the men in white suits packed me into the back of the ambulance. In fact, it was not the straitjacket that had me howling in the back of the vehicle. Whenever my limbs are bound, I’m generally a good sport about it — particularly when the people binding your limbs are medical professionals who might have some input into how long…read more

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The Continued Collapse of Edward Champion, Part Three

Posted by in Uncategorized

This afternoon, as I was holding a cold compress to my lower lip, hoping that my toothache would go away, I found the following handwritten note that I thought I’d share with you: Patient shows signs of chronic self-loathing and repeated hyperbole. Patient spent most of afternoon session talking about a writer named Dave Eggers and revealed closet fantasy of writing novel and having it eviscerated by Dale Peck in a metropolitan newspaper. Patient repeatedly used the word “ass-fucking,” alluding to the New York Times, and insisted upon accessing my…read more

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The Continued Collapse of Edward Champion, Part Two

Posted by in Satire

Today, I obtained a Xanax subscription. If the Xanax fails, then I’ll try Trazodone. If the Trazodone fails, I’ll have to resort to stuffing sizable amounts of powdered sugar down my throat. The question now is one of functionality. If there are drugs to help alleviate this premature midlife crisis, rest assured that the doctors will prescribe them. The doctors have been commissioned to keep me in the locked room away from the laptop, reminding me not to refer to myself in third person or use the first person plural….read more

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Aw Damn…

Posted by in Obits, Television

Don Adams has passed on. Damn. I grew up with that curious generation just at the beginning of the Internet (i.e., the Usenet days) and near the end of UHF saturation (before I gave up television). And Adams was one of my unspoken comic heroes. If I learned anything from watching Get Smart, it was this: deadpan ardor with dollops of sincerity can get you through a lot of life’s unexpected scrapes. It didn’t help that Smart worked with a damn sexy and damn smart gal named Agent 99. The…read more

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Brief Encounters

Posted by in Roundup

Over at Beatrice, Emily Gordon covers the New Yorker. J-Franz and J-Updike make cameo appearances. Laila Lalami meets Salman Rushdie and gets an unexpected surprise. John Leonard returns momentarily to the NYTBR to offer thoughts on James Agee (in our view, one of the finest film critics of the 20th century). More Banville interview to come over at Mark’s.

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After Blog Life

Posted by in New York Times, Satire

1 Blog life changes fast. Blog life changes more times than you can change your underwear. You sit down to lunch and you know that there’s a blog awaiting you. The question of pity parties. Those were the first words I wrote after it happened. I had sent off yet another epistle to a media outlet. Mr. Tanenhaus’s assistant had personally telephoned me, telilng me that I was “chasing windmills” and that the New York Times office would no longer be accepting my brownie shipments. I can’t be sure about…read more

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SF Sightings: Tom Robbins

Posted by in Author Readings

The Love Parade, the Blues Festival, Webzine 2005, antiwar protests, and that remarkably sunny weather that creeps into San Francisco during this time of the year didn’t stop about 250 people from gathering at the All Saints Church to listen to Tom Robbins read from his newest book, Wild Ducks Flying Backwards — an event sponsored by the Booksmith. The crowd consisted mostly of people in their twenties and early thirties, with a few hoary-haired holdouts that had somehow kept their humor and idiosynchratic faith while flaunting sartorial garb from…read more

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Book Reviewers Wanted

Posted by in Technical

Situation: There are more books here than I can possibly read. I would like to give all of these books a fair chance, given that the publishers have gone to great lengths to send them my way. But I am one person and, in order to exist in this world and have something of a life, it would be completely unrealistic for me to read them all. I can read three books a week, but not fifteen. Now I am far from a trust fund kid, but here’s what I…read more

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The Ultimate Development in the Frey-Eggers “Best Writer of My Generation” Fiasco

Posted by in Awards

Just when you thought that Oprah had confined herself to dead writers and the “Summer of Faulkner,” Oprah recently announced a return to living writers. Her first new book along these lines is actually quite interesting: James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. I must confess that I’m highly amused at the idea of suburbanites in upstate New York and Orange County reading Frey’s gritty memoir. But if this represents the timbre of Oprah’s future offerings, then Return of the Reluctant strongly endorses the Oprah Book Club revival with the following…read more

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Mabuse on Music

Posted by in Beatles, Moody, Rick, Music

1. I have recently discovered The Avalanches. If you enjoy goofball hip-hop with a wide range of samples and influences, then I highly recommend their album, Since I Left You. If you’re interested in sampling the Avalanches, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” one of the album’s grand highlights (with something in the area of 50 vocal samplings), exists as a highly inventive music video that truly needs to be experienced. Strangely enough, these folks originate in Australia of all places. 2. I’ve loved Weller from the Jam onwards, but Paul Weller should probably…read more

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Meme

Posted by in Silliness

In lieu of content today, I’ll point to a meme uncovered by Rasputin: 1. Go into your archive. 2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to). 3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to). 4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. ANSWER: “A pomaded, well-oiled machine slightly better than Willie Brown, but no less accountable.”

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Rita Headlines

Posted by in Rita

Detroit News: Rita could push economy over edge. NASA evacuating Johnson Space Center. Kas Log: Storms May Do What Politicans Cannot. Flickr Rita Tag. USA Today: 558 drilling rigs evacuated, 73.2% of Gulf oil production impacted. Foolish letter wondering what the fuss is all about. RESOURCES: Eric Berger: Houston-based science blog. The Houston Chronicle. Stormwatchers: citizen journalists covering Rita. Laurence Simon: “If you’re getting your Houston news through the New York Times, Washington Post, or some out of state blogger, you might as well shove your head up your ass,…read more

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And So It Begins Again

Posted by in Katrina

Rita: the third largest hurricane in history. Source of Texas oil supply. Population thankfully moving north. This will not be pretty.

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Desperate Covers for Desperate Measures

Posted by in Uncategorized

The Los Angeles Times: “The paperback publisher of Tom Wolfe’s unevenly reviewed latest novel “I Am Charlotte Simmons” is hoping that a dramatically redesigned cover — and a youth-oriented marketing campaign, complete with a contest featuring a trip to Cancun — will help draw young adults to the book, mocked by some reviewers who found the septuagenarian author’s accounts of campus sex life unconvincing.” INSIDE A MANHATTAN OFFICE, NINE MONTHS AGO: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have some terrible news.” “Dave Eggers wants us to publish a book of McSweeney’s lists?”…read more

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