Reluctant Habits

Uzbekistan: The United States’ Dirty Little Secret

Posted by in Politics, Torture

In an effort to protest the United States government’s recognition of Uzbekistan, a nation that specializes in torturing prisoners to death with boiling water (their names were Elena Urlaeva and Larissa Vdovna) as well as torturing children in front of their parents, I mirror the following documents, as per the viral stratagems of Blairwatch, in an effort to draw attention to Craig Murray‘s memos, information that the UK government is currently trying to oppress: Series of telegrams sent by Craig Murray to UK Foreign Office Copy of legal advice the…read more


Of Course, It Helps Not to Be as Humorless as Otto Penzler

Posted by in Keeler, Harry Stephen, Uncategorized

Jenny D notes that Harry Stephen Keeler is far from the worst writer in the world.


Frank Zappa on Crossfire

Posted by in Censorship



Meanwhile, Sam Tanenhaus Wastes Column Inches on Another Bitter Joe Queenan Review

Posted by in Book Reviewing

Now this is the sort of comparative review that is quite helpful. Sylvia offers a thorough breakdown of four different versions of Jane Eyre. Her verdict? The Norton Critical Edition. (And I should note that I have a thing for the intricately detailed Oxford World Classics.)


Of Course, It Could Also Be That Midlist Literary Writers Need Something on the Mantle to Justify Their Poverty

Posted by in Awards

Louis Menand offers this interesting overview of book award circlejerks-cum-review of James English’s The Economy of Prestige: “What makes them valuable is the recognition that they are valuable. This recognition is not automatic and intuitive; it has to be constructed. A work of art has to circulate through a sub-economy of exchange operated by a large and growing class of middlemen: publishers, curators, producers, publicists, philanthropists, foundation officers, critics, professors, and so on. The prize system, with its own cadre of career administrators and judges, is one of the ways…read more


Blind Zeal as Expertise

Posted by in Privacy

Timothy Naftali, a so-called “expert” in the history of intelligence and spying, has no clue what he’s talking about. The following interview is intended to be a discussion attempting to understand the complexities on why the U.S. government would need to skirt around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but Naftali’s gushing tone, to say nothing of his lack of nuance in examining the issue in question is baffling in its stupidity. Coming across as a big-time NSA booster on Morning Edition, Naftali let loose the following priapic monomania this morning….read more


BREAKING NEWS! Long Bouts of Day of Defeat: Source Decrease Homicide Rate

Posted by in Video Games

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 29 /PRNewswire/ — While our colleagues at Popcap have announced that their video game products can, to paraphrase their words, keep you casual, we here at Valve Software wish to weigh in on the dramatic sociological effects that our titles, Day of Defeat: Source and Counterstrike: Source, are having upon the online population at large. As everyone in the gaming industry knows, empirical evidence, meaning data that is not accepted in a scientific environment, is the lifeblood of marketing spin. It’s the Flying Spaghetti Monster that floats…read more


Calling All Typography Geeks

Posted by in Typography

The Top 10 Fonts of 2005


The Not So Magnificent Seven

Posted by in Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling: “For 2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series….I have been fine-tuning the fine-tuned plan of seven during the past few weeks so that I can really set to work in January. Reading through the plan is like contemplating the map of an unknown country in which I will soon find myself.” Translation: “Holy shit! The cash cow’s running out. Will they even take me seriously as a writers once Harry Potter’s done? Did they take me seriously? Better make…read more


Why Current MTA Procedures Operating In Clear Violation of the Fourth Amendment Are a Terrible and Invasive Idea

Posted by in Privacy

Languor Management: “He was getting more and more suspicious of me, and aggressive. I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything I could have possibly done but I was scared to death about what would happen to me. I didn’t even want to move because I thought any sudden movement might give him a reason to shoot me….Why was he putting me through this? Why should I have to tell him that I hoping to have sex tonight? “


Write Ghettoized Fiction or Die Tryin’

Posted by in Book Reviewing, Literary Motifs, Speculative Fiction

In the latest edition of Emerald City, Matthew Cheney offers us “Literary Fiction for People Who Hate Literary Fiction.” Cheney writes, “A reader only interested in a narrow type of writing (hard SF, for instance) is not going to find much pleasure from any literary fiction, but a reader who is interested in experiencing new realities, strange visions, visceral horror, and supernatural events has plenty to choose from,” and proceeds to offer a helpful list of authors for those who’d like to experience some of these alternative visions. I think,…read more


Ed Wood’s Got Nothing on Them

Posted by in Publishing Industry

Miss Snark, who may have outdone Dan Wickett, has, if you’re willing to sift through them all, some fifty rum synopses with her thoughts on why they don’t work. For any author assembling a pitch, it’s an intriguing glimpse into just what the competition looks like (“surviving dragonlings have been enslaved as power sources?” WTF?), with each synopsis served with an abrasive chaser.


Could It Be That People Are Tired of Walking Away with Nothing?

Posted by in Games

If, like me, you spent large chunks of your twenties meeting for five-card stud poker, which generally involved getting together with a bunch of friends with some pennies and some suds, and using the whole exercise as a pretext to shoot the shit with oddball conversationalists who didn’t mind congregating in oddly decorated and often smoky dens, then you were probably somewhat annoyed by the rise of Texas Hold ‘Em. The winner-take-all approach changed everything. People no longer wanted to converse. They wanted to win. Even if it was some…read more


Yours Is Not to Question Why

Posted by in Author Publicity, Bookstores

An employee who worked at a bookstore and wrote about a Rachael Ray appearance has been fired for venturing his opinion. We don’t have cable ourselves and watch television perhaps once a solstice, but we have to agree that we’re a little skeptical about colossal attention given to someone who has created something called the “mini-cheeseburger salad.” (via Bookslut)


Amazon Author Blogs

Posted by in Advertising, Amazon, Author Publicity

I suppose the move was inevitable, but Amazon has started hosting author blogs. The highest profile name on the list is Meg Wolitzer, whose posts can be found here. But I can’t buy into the ethics of a retailer pushing a blog while simultaneously encouarging people to buy things. Whatever the merits of Wolitzer’s posts, however much she feels that “Anything that can get fiction on people’s radar is good,” I get the unsettling aura of Shirley Maclaine talking with the dead during an infomercial. Even the language of Wolitzer’s…read more


At This Rate, The Breakfast Club and Bill & Ted Should Be In By Next Year

Posted by in Film

Look, I love Fast Times at Ridgemont High as much as the next child of the 80s, but does it really merit entry into the National Film Registry?


Of Course Cut Into the Major Bank That Golden’s Making Off the Movie Rights and the Pride Will Dramatically Shift

Posted by in Literary Adaptations

Arthur Golden writes the Washington Post about the film version of Memoirs of a Geisha: “The criticism of experts in the geisha world, as recounted in Sarah Kaufman’s Dec. 15 Style article…had little effect on the pride I feel in Rob Marshall’s beautiful and moving film based upon my novel ‘Memoirs of a Geisha.’”


Full List of Things That Benjamin Kunkel is Angry About

Posted by in Needless Intellectualizing

Culled from Mr. Sarvas’s painstaking retyping of a TLS article: “‘We’re angrier than Dave Eggers and his crowd,’ he told the Observer. Well, that’s promising, kind of. Angry about what? The war? Religious fundamentalism at home and abroad? Race and its discontents? – the big, Mailerite subejcts. No. Kunkel is angry about dating.” For the benefit of those who follow n+1, here is a full list of issues that Ben Kunkel is angry about: The whole hot dog to hot dog bun ratio. Standup comedians have been mining this territory…read more


Snowed Under

Posted by in Personal

Tied up through most of the day, but if you insist on a daily dose, you can catch me over here. Apparently, the good folks over at Bloggasm thought I might have worthwhile things to say. You make the call.


RIP Vincent Schiavelli

Posted by in Obits

Damn. Another great character actor gone.


The Chair Update

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Mitchell, David, Personal

We are pleased to report that the chair that was wounded during the course of engineering The Bat Segundo Show #16 has been replaced. (We had sentimental attachments for that chair, but it had a solid six year run and it was probably due for a replacement anyway.) The new chair is a large and quite comfy leather chair that we almost fell asleep on yesterday evening. Further, this chair has a five year warranty and reliable casters to boot. In short, the upshot here is that the chair’s comfort…read more


Schlotts and Coupling: An Uncredentialed Take on Human Relationships

Posted by in Relationships

If, like me, you are a Single Bipedal and Sentient Mammal Over Thirty (to which I shall apply the term “schlott,” if only to abridge such a pesky mouthful to a clearly ridiculous and monosyllabic term), inevitably there comes a point where a certain fatigue sets in. Schlotts of all ages experience a certain malaise, not exactly a hopelessness per se, but a lengthy moment in which the warm, witty and wonderful entity that a schlott has established themselves to be is compromised by the fact that their warm, witty…read more


Another Crime, Another Cultural Scapegoat

Posted by in Journalism

So now we have a case where Stanley Kubrick is going to be blamed for a violent crime. Three teenagers, obsessed by A Clockwork Orange, set fire to a homeless woman. The woman died in a hospital. Here are the questions that I would like to know and that should be asked of the 16 year old referred to as Juan Jose and the two 18 year old kids, Ricard Pinilla and Onol Pinilla. How were they raised by their parents? And why is there nothing here in the article…read more


“Wish List! No More Sweaters” by Joe Queenan

Posted by in queenan-joe

A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine, whom I tolerate more than those clearly horrible people who give me Navajo books, spent about twenty hours knitting me a sweater. She had gone out of her way to use very specific yarn imported from Guatemala with what she called “good weave” and had designed the sweater pattern herself. Apparently, the bitch actually expected me to wear the thing. Of course, I was gracious and took the sweater, even as the tears flowed down her cheeks after she saw that I…read more


Nextbus MUNI Secret Links

Posted by in San Francisco

Tipped off by the fine folks at the SFist, I’ve learned that there are “secret” links to MUNI routes not listed in the main Nextbus directory, meaning that for a good chunk of MUNI’s routes, you can see exactly where the buses are in real time. (This will probably mean nothing to you if (a) you do not live in San Francisco or (b) are not a hard-core public transportation zealot. You have been warned in advance that this post contains some frighteningly pedantic information.) This is fantastic because, at…read more


Happy Holidays

Posted by in Personal


Calling All Noir Geeks

Posted by in Film, San Francisco

Eddie Muller’s Noir City starts up again next month. And this time, he’s got both the Balboa and the Place of Fine Arts to program his films. There are some fantastic films on the list. If you haven’t seen They Live by Night or Thieves’ Highway, then you’re seriously missing out.


Can Actors Get Fired for Blogging on the Clock?

Posted by in Blogging, Television

From a Rainn Wilson interview: “Yeah, we have working computers on the set, though the internet connection can be really bad. A lot of times, if we’re just doing background work, if they’re shooting a scene with Steve Carell [in the foreground], we have time to play around with [our web sites]. I’ll try to think of something from an upcoming episode, or just keep track of funny observations that I write as Dwight. Yeah. It’s a virtual reality set, people are working on their Web sites all the time….read more


Reason #426 Why Ohio Sucks

Posted by in Privacy

EXHIBIT: The Ohio Patriot Act


Auctorial Doppelgangers, Part Sixteen

Posted by in Doppelgangers

PICTURED LEFT: James Caan, actor, Dogville PICTURED RIGHT: James Patterson, author of shaggy dog thrillers