- Last night’s overwhelming support for the Herring Wonder exceeded even my expectations. I felt bad for Craig “The Crippler” Davidson, who maintained gravitas near the end amidst a decidedly pro-Ames audience. I was very impressed with Miss Saturn — and, no, not the way you’re thinking. Swinging forty hula hoops in varying degrees of elliptical rotation is no small feat. David Leslie orchestrated the elements. Gleason’s Gym owner Bruce Silverglade destroyed the Burgess Meredith stereotype. Patrick “The Mangina” Bucklew and Valmonte Sprout were fantastic, but need to work on their timing. They entered the ring on the second round and caused considerable confusion. I was sitting next to Silverglade and he looked as if he was prepared to draw blood when this happened. Others dwelt unduly upon who Ames was dating. Referee Dominic Manatho and I quietly performed our duties. And the call for blood was something to see.
- Gary Kamiya comes to praise the editor, not to bury him, leaving the Rake to meet Kamiya halfway.
- Warren Ellis interviews William Gibson. (via TEV)
- Antoine Wilson locates the vicious circle that many of us out here on the Internets are caught in.
- Oh yes, Brockman, the entendres are fully intentional.
- New York examines the Mediabistro sale and concludes: “In fact, Touby’s success underscores the difference between the current (seeming) bubble and that of the late nineties: The way to cash out now is to get bought out, not to go public. And until the right buyer shows up, all that most of us can do is stand back and guesstimate what’s worth what.” If I didn’t know any better, this seems a disingenuous way of evoking Chris Anderson’s hypothesis without actually typing in the dreadful words “long tail.”
- RIP George Tabori.
- Kassia on why literary embargoes don’t matter.
Remember: the fight is tonight at Gleason’s Gym, 77 Front Street, at 8:00 PM.
The fighters: Craig Davidson (boxing record 0-1) and Jonathan Ames (boxing record 1-4)!
The opening act: Miss Saturn and her hula hoops!
The card girls: Patrick “The Mangina” Bucklew and Valmonte Sprout!
There is also a rumor that a woman will paint her body and play accordion.
I am now prepared for my duties as ring announcer. And there is considerable excitement from all parties.
The after party is at Rebar on 147 Front Street, where I understand there are affordable beverages.
Don’t miss it!
[This podcast continues our two-part interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed. The first part is available here.]
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Searching for penguin brides.
Author: Berkeley Breathed
Subjects Discussed: The rising sales of graphic novels, the future of newspaper comics, reservations about Opus being available in digital form, mass market phenomenons, digital audiences vs. print audiences, the “death” of music, the Beatles vs. Gnarls Barkley, shared audience response, on replacing the cartoonist old guard, YouTube, the Doonesbury motif of characters looking into mirrors, cultural appropriation, Breathed’s rocky relationship with Garry Trudeau, why the first year of Bloom County is uncollected, great cartooning as a synthesis of decent writing and decent illustration, Christopher Hitchens, surreal humanism, the cartoon as populist entertainment, the poor reception to Outland, why the kids from Bloom County have not appeared in Opus, the inadequacies of reader reaction via email, the origins of Oliver Wendell Jones and African-American characters in comics, the Banana 6000 and Apple’s advertising, and being ripped off by Microsoft.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Breathed: We had readerships of 50 to 100 million people in the ’80’s and ’70’s for a given piece of entertainment — a single strip. Same person in Kentucky is going to be reading it. It’s the same person in L.A., New York City. You’re not going to have that. Instead of having seventy-five comic strips with readerships of 20 to 100 million, you’re going to have thousands of comic strips with readerships of several hundred to a thousand. That’s a sea change in its effect on society. And the pop culture, I think, has an effect. The unifying aspect of pop culture, I think, is overlooked. And we’re losing that. We’re not all listening to the same music. We’re not all reading the same cartoons. We’re not laughing at the same joke across the country. It’s a unifying aspect of our nation that’s passing.
I look at Tyler Cowen and I ask for one main piece of information: Does this man have a sense of humor? Yes or no. This is a binary decision.
Once I have the answer to this question, if I happen to be entering my apartment building from its southern angle, I abdicate my own sense of humor to the doorman. The truly successful man — and I learned this from reading Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, and Tyler Cowen — is one who simply says yes or no. Just as when you are presented with a pair of breasts in front of your face. You either nibble the nipple or you walk away and make money. One choice or the other.
There can be no room for vacillating over a decision. No room for irony. No room for emotion. Long tail. Long tail. Tipping point.
We live in a world in which gray areas are no longer possible. It is the critic’s job to write like Harriet Klausner. Forget those who dare to plunge further. Google has made them irrelevant. I bore easily. Like Tyler Cowen. I am more concerned with my dividends.
Imagine that. An asshole who believes in nothing but antipodean qualifiers. Is it any wonder why so many people think Tyler Cowen is a very silly man?
To me, the most valuable economists are those who write silly sentences contained within short paragraphs. Because there is the illusion of pithiness.
Sometimes I think it is enough to replace my brain with Ubuntu and have some hacker control my every critical thought. The unexamined life is well worth programming.
- A quick reminder that Jonathan Ames and Craig Davidson will be fighting tonight at Gleason’s Gym at 8:00 PM.
- Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s excellent comic, Y: The Last Man, is being adapted into a film by the folks behind Disturbia. I am unsure how many Hollywood dollars will be committed to training monkeys, with the animal trainers spending hours attempting to reproduce Guerra’s juxtapositions of Ampersand on Yorick’s shoulders. But I’m convinced that monkey accuracy will be the key indicator as to whether this is a successful adaptation or not. Hell, this particular film could very well set a precedent for persuasive monkey behavior. If Clint Eastwood, who I understand has some experience in these matters, is somehow involved, then this film adaptation will go forth without a hitch.
- Guitarist Brian May is completing his Ph.D more than twenty-five years after he abandoned it for a music career. Presumably, having to endure Ben Elton’s dumbing down of Queen’s legacy was enough to push May over the edge.
- Tod Goldberg offers tips on how to write an essay for Parade.
- A.L. Kennedy has a new story in this week’s New Yorker. (via Maud)
- Dan Green responds to the opponents of the Harry Potter opponents.
- I stopped getting excited about new Noam Chomsky volumes when I turned 22. A glowing orb on my hand went off, signaling that there were better ways to be political than celebrating the art of writing lifeless sentences.
- Tim Rutten insists that the embargo hoopla is all about the green.
- The Weekly World News, one of the most important newspapers of our time, is shutting down. The News‘s fabrications were the best of all the tabloids. And I can’t think of another publication that will be able to offer the same kind of amusement as I wait to purchase broccoli. (via Pete Anderson)
- Speaking of which, here’s Magazine Death Pool — sort of a Fucked Company for periodicals.
- The American Scholar‘s Charles Trueheart revisits Lawrence Durrell fifty years later.
- This is bizarre: Carcassonne has been transformed into an Xbox game. But truthfully, can those delightful tiles actually be replaced by a television screen?
- Harriet Baskas examines the connection between used bookstores and airports.
- An interesting comparison beween Enid Blyton and J.K. Rowling. Blyton, incidentally, wrote 10,000 words a day. (via Book World)
- The Washington Post examines DC Fringe offerings, which are considerably literary.
I’ve met Howard Junker — the man was silly enough to drink a barely drinkable pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon with me — and I also email him from time to time. He’s a quietly intelligent and friendly gentleman. I also know that he’s outspoken about what he likes and what he doesn’t like. He does this not to be spiteful, but because he cares tremendously about literature. Like any good literary enthusiast, he demands the best out of people. And if that means telling people point-blank that their work isn’t up to snuff, then that’s simply the way that Howard operates.
But for Stephen Elliott, a writer who purports to chronicle misfits and the misunderstood, a remark Junker made at a competitive reading contest was enough to send him over the edge.
Elliott misheard a remark that Junker made concerning Elliott’s “literary merit.” Elliott didn’t come up to Junker or ask for an apology or express his anger or initiate any attempt to clear things up. (As Howard wryly notes, Elliott didn’t even ask to settle things in the alley.) Instead, he threw beer onto Howard Junker, as well as the new owners of the Booksmith — who are also both very kind people. There was no explanation. No effort on Elliott’s part to talk things out.
Junker immediately left the room without causing any additional fuss. What was Elliott’s response? “I don’t understand why Junker left that night. I had a shirt in my bag he could have borrowed.”
I realize that Elliott has had a tough life. But this does not justify acting like a boor in the present. Particularly when the target is as understanding a man as Howard Junker. Things did not have to escalate to this level.
As Junker noted, “‘Literary merit’ is not a term I use on my own, and it is certainly not among the criteria I use to judge a man as a man. A man, I feel, should be able to hold his beer. Should be able to take his lumps. Should exhibit courage in the face of adversity. And so on.”
The very least that Elliott owes Junker is an apology. Real men own up to their mistakes.
What Elliott did is far from taking his lumps, far from exhibiting courage, and far from being a gentleman.
- I can truthfully think of no duller candidate for a lead review than this guy.
- Other Ed, currently counting Rowling units, on Walter Kurtz.
- Mr. Mitchelmore raises an interesting point about prejudices before reading. I think that a book, no matter how overexposed the subject matter, is still capable of surprising a reader if an author is good enough and that it’s a bit foolish to discount an author’s creative possibilities within a given formula. If anything, seeing precisely what Coetzee will come up with after so many books about writers writing books is the more interesting question. Hell, is not David Markson’s “Novel” tetralogy — if we must group them together — essentially about a writer writing a book? You’d be hard-pressed to call his approach similar to Stephen King novel featuring a writer writing a book.
- Regrettably, I had to miss the Harlem Book Fair. But Richard Grayson was there dutifully reporting.
- Spoon is not treading water. The new album is a fabulous head game with what the long-time listening base is expecting. (Case in point: the abbreviated “Your” in the title “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb.” And where’s the Y in “Rhthm and Soul?” And why a song about a Japanese cigarette case? That’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a band desperately seeking objects in a hotel room to write a song.) I’m liking this album very much because of these elisions, which also manifest themselves in such “ghost” flourishes as that sequenced horn section which opens up “The Underdog,” only to not quite match up with the bass notes in that chorus’s expected pomposity. (And then the “horns” shift to a clear synth voice around the three minute mark.) No, it’s not as overtly experimental as something like Kid A and these production decisions aren’t immediately clear on the first few listens. But it’s still pretty fun. And even if you don’t sign on for this sort of thing, there are still slacking rockers (“slockers?”) like “Finer Feelings” and “Don’t You Evah.”
- And speaking of Mr. VanderMeer, here he is again in this week’s Book World.
- More after sleep.
[UPDATE: Pardon my laconic post. The news of these two deaths (Duncan and her boyfriend, Jeremy Blake) hit me as I was about to embark on a restful weekend. My immediate reaction was to beat myself up relentlessly on Friday night for not doing more or for not communicating enough to her that her zaniness was peachy keen. Theresa and I had exchanged quite a few emails after the two of us duked it out last December in an Elegant Variation thread, where I encouraged her to maintain her hearty enthusiasm for reporting breakfast. She responded that she was planning to extend her ebullience to lunch and dinner. Whatever her problems, what I do know is this: I observed in Theresa another giddy and idiosyncratic soul — someone who was good for the artistic community by way of her cockeyed perspective. And I’m very sorry that I never got the chance to meet her. If this horrible conclusion says anything, it is this: We must embrace those who are different.]
[For additional reading, see Kay Redfield Jamison’s Touched with Fire. And on the film front, watch Janet Frame and Jane Campion’s An Angel at My Table.]
I wrote a lengthy feature on confessional writing that appears in this Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. Many thanks to the writers who talked with me for the piece and who put up with my laryngitis. I did try to include everyone, but alas, I ended up talking to far more people than I probably should have. So I’m sorry if you didn’t make it in.
[UPDATE: Ms. Bussel and I talked for close to 90 minutes for this piece and she’s offered some additional perspective on her blog: “Me, I’m much more PG than I am NSFW, and yet by dint of what I do for a living, most of what you’ll stumble across on line is about matters sexual. But talk to me at a party and I’ll quiz you about your babies or your workout routine or your creative endeavors. I’ll ask you about your bad dates and favorite cupcakes. Sure, Martha and I probably horrified some of the Etsy folks with our sex talk, but I don’t think that’s a me thing, it’s a comfort with the topic, amongst friends.”]
Andrew Cornell sends me this fascinating link, which contains a lost Philip K. Dick interview cut up into various MP3s for your listening pleasure.
About three years ago, when I talked with fellow theatrical producers at the San Francisco Fringe Festival, many of them told me that they had serious reservations about the New York Fringe scene.
“It’s all money over there,” said one. “They’re just looking for the next Urinetown.”
I was a bit skeptical about this charge back then — perhaps because I’m naive or perhaps because, if you have any ambition, it’s extremely difficult to make money at micro-theatre. (It’s worth noting that my own show cost around $3,000 to make, which I was able to generate after selling off most of my music collection — and that’s not even counting volunteer time. Even if I had filled every seat, there was simply no way to break even. But it was worth it.)
But next month, I’ll be able to confirm the veracity (or paucity) of these charges at the New York Fringe Festival, which occurs between August 10th and August 26th. Are these shows designed to catch the eye of off-off-Broadway producers? I’d like to think — at $15 per show — that the Fringe scenario here is fairly comparable to what I experienced in San Francisco.
I’m hoping to offer some coverage here.
Radar: “According to the Chicago Film Critics Association, 20th Century Fox has instituted a policy of favoritism in the Windy City, providing special treatment to select film reviewers. Others, it is charged, are not given adequate time to craft stories between seeing a movie and its release—or are shut out of screenings entirely.”
So here’s a list on how to become a lifetime reader. But this series of suggestions doesn’t perform true justice for the truly hard-core. Because this list is inadequate if we take this vital reading sector into account, here are seven more handy suggestions:
15. Have friend ridicule you during any moment you’re not reading a book. The shame will then cause you to read further, particularly if there are electrodes attached to your hands.
16. Surround yourself with more books than you can possibly read. But this is too easy a suggestion and it should be taken to the next logical level. If you wall yourself in with interesting books, then you will be forced to remove the books that surround you on all sides. Of course, in removing one book from these many walls, you will then become so interested in it and start reading it. Be careful not to die of starvation and dehydration should you choose this option. Create holes in the book walls so that straws can pass through. (And be sure to hire a valet to slip you the appropriate viands and nutritional supplements. If you don’t have an expendable income, you can always dig a tunnel.)
17. If you wear glasses, replace insides of lenses with text cutups. The nice thing about books is that they can be cut up into sections with scissors. However, this technique may be too time-consuming for the true reader, who may read the text inside the glasses after two minutes and pine for more to read. So be sure to put something truly incomprehensible in there like Finnegan’s Wake.
18. Go to pretentious cocktail parties. Ideally, these should be populated by smug intellectuals who claim to read everything and who seem to talk of nothing but books. There, they will quote chapter and verse from obscure texts and talk about some such author’s “dichotomous thematics limning the main post-postmodernist narrative thrust” and other things that are, for the most part, tough to wrap one’s head around. You may be frightened by this people. After all, you can’t even talk about sports with them and some of them don’t even drink beer. But their banter will inspire you to figure out just what the fuck they’re talking about. Ergo, more books to read! An entire nomenclature to deconstruct!
19. Remain celibate. Pay no attention to all that propaganda from the Western World. There’s nothing wrong in being a misanthrope! A partner gets in the way of reading more books. And sometimes when pursuing a reading life, there comes a time in which you have to make tradeoffs. Sure, you’ll end up jerking off twelve times a day. But that also means reading six more chapters a day than those silly people in marriages and relationships. If this causes you to become socially maladjusted, never mind the labels from others!
20. Read while walking. You’ll get more pages read each day if you read while walking. Never mind such silly things as stoplights and objects you’ll bump into. This is, after all, what peripheral vision is for.
21. Why read just one book at the same time? And I’m not talking about “being in the middle of many books.” I’m talking about setting two books side-by-side and reading them both at the same time. After all, if a tough guy can double-first two beers, surely, you can double-read two books.
BBC: “A Canadian team has created a computer program that can win or draw any game, no matter who the opponent is. It took an average of 50 computers nearly two decades to sift through the 500 billion billion possible draughts positions to come up with the solution.
Ladies and gentlemen, Phil Spector’s hair.
I have no idea if Mark Binelli’s interview with Don DeLillo was killed by Rolling Stone, but Guernica Magazine has picked it up.
- Ron Howard will be
destroyingdirecting Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children for the big screen.
- Douglas Coupland’s JPod is being turned into a 13-part television series. (via Bookninja)
- Okay, this is sort of a Harry Potter link, but not really. Frank Wilson’s words about hubristic security measures are well worth reading.
- Maud on out-of-town bookstores.
- Matthew Tiffany has the scoop on Tom McCarthy’s next novel — excerpt here. And then of course there’s this.
- Dan Wickett offers a third panel of literary translators.
- David Ulin outs himself as a Leonard Maltin Movie Guide junkie. I have to confess. I pick one of these puppies up every year too and have spent too many hours, often with beer and friends, pondering its odd subjective slant (four stars for The Cider House Rules?). It’s always good to have a backup for when the IMDB goes down.
- I don’t entirely agree with Charles Taylor’s argument, but he does have many good points about mass readership.
- Someone has purchased Mediabistro: “A woman with a boa and a dream and a bad laugh has emerged from the hubbub of the internet triumphant.”
- William Gibson “briefly noted” in The New Yorker? The times they are a-changing?
Daily Mail: “For when a budding author sent typed chapters of Jane Austen’s novels to 18 of them, changing just the titles and characters’ names, only one recognised her words. Another managed to recognise they were ‘a really original read’. But the rest simply rejected them or never responded, according to the man who posted the manuscripts, David Lassman.”
- “Your money is now our money and we will spend it on drugs!”
- Simon Owens has written an extensive piece on Harriet Klausner, who is truly a menace to coherent sentences and taking a stand — two things that one would expect from a critic. If Harriet Klausner is a critic, I am a turtle chronically nibbling on Tetra Ropotmin who copulates four times a day with an even-toed ungulate.
- Warren Ellis: “Note: cigarette breaks are built into all signing times.”
- Christ, I can’t take this anymore. Fuck Raincoast. Get your Potter torrents here.* I do not endorse downloading the book, but someone has to offer a contrarian response to the insistent demands, protocols, and other wretched assumptions that the Harry Potter publishers have been dictating to the media, and which the media in turn has been willingly kowtowing too. Christ, folks, you’re literary journalists. Show some spine from time to time. Must you devote every column inch to this “phenomenon?” Any newspaper mention of the Deathly Hallows without the journalist actually reading the book is, as far as I’m concerned, nothing less than an ignoble junket. Nicholas Lezard has more reasons why you must take a stand. Look, if you want a damn good children’s series, seek out Lemony Snicket, which has more brains, imagination, and wit per book than J.K. Rowling has in her whole oeuvre.
- You and me both, Brockman. I underwent a six-hour interview today in an effort to obtain my “cultural credentials.” At the end of the interview, the interlocutor took one of those little hammers out of his suitcase — the kind that doctors have. I thought he had intended to test my reflexes, but he decided to repeatedly hammer upon my molars while two guys in expensive suits were holding me down. This was, they said, “the final stage of the interview.” After half of my teeth were pulled out with a rusty set of pliers and I was left on the floor, paralyzed with pain, my gums bleeding onto the concrete, these three guys laughed and me. “You want your cultural credentials? There’s your cultural credentials!” Then they kicked me in the stomach and the nads, dislocated both of my shoulders, and shaved off my eyebrows. If anybody knows of a better way to earn “cultural credentials” (and, incidentally, if you know of a good dentist who works cheap), please drop me a line.
- It appears that John Steinbeck’s granddaughter is going into the film industry as a scribe. Her first offering, I Travel With Charley in the Biblical Sense, should be uploaded to YouTube next week.
- The independent publisher Night Shade Books is having a sale to clear out their warehouses. 50% off all titles, four book minimum. That means M. John Harrison, Iain Banks, Tricia Sullivan, the remarkably underrated Paolo Bacigalupi, and Joe Haldemann. Do help support Jeremy Lassen, one of the craziest motherfuckers in the science fiction industry.
* — And it appears that the Harry Potter snapper made a serious mistake.
PW‘s Douglas Wolk reports on some of the successful efforts to turn average Joes and Janes into successful comic book regulars. Among one of the comic industry’s more enriching promotional tools is Free Comic Book Day, which disseminates samples and various issues of comics every year in May.
All this makes me wonder why the publishing industry isn’t working with bookstores to institute “Free Book Day.” With all the “sky is falling” hyperbole being tossed around by book critics and booksellers alike, would not disseminating literature on a specific day of the year be an apposite way to hook the next generation on reading?
In fact, if the high cost of printing a fat volume is a consideration, this might be a very good way of getting short stories and novellas into the public consciousness. If the publishing industry doesn’t want to take this up, then perhaps literary journals might want to coordinate with independent bookstores to remind the public that there are all sorts of fantastic stories to be read. And if not bookstores, why not publicize a Free Book Day where literary journals are handed out at subway stations or other places where people face the prospect of staring into space for 45 minutes or getting lost in a narrative?
This may seem a rather extraordinary solution, but this kind of pro-active approach sure beats throwing one’s hands up in the air and shrieking “The End is Nigh!” at the top of one’s lungs. And besides, wouldn’t it be a more interesting world — just for one day — if something like A Public Space or The Threepenny Review replaced The New York Sun as the free handout of choice?
Well, who knew that there weren’t a lot of women who imbibed beer in the 1970s? That is, if we believe Michelob.
There are important questions that must be answered:
1. Who determined that “a lot of women” didn’t like beer? (And this stereotype, despite some progress, has remained a problem in recent years.)
2. How did they decide upon the seven ounce bottle? (And why seven? I mean, if these domestic women drinkers were ostensibly dainty, why not settle for four or five?)
3. Considering that the first shot is very careful to include a gesture of this woman putting down her purse, was this beer an attempt to market to the professional woman? Or the more civilized housewife trying to create a more level gender playing field? (Sentence in this commercial to support the latter rhetorical question: “And he likes it too!” So is the husband the one here making the compromise? Or is MICH VII intended to be the compromise to maintain happy marriages?)
I can find no trace of what happened to MICH VII, although several vintage mirrors seem to be available on eBay.
I used to think that Rachel Cooke’s columns were authored by some sheltered journalist who never left her house and who simply wasn’t paying much attention to rudimentary trends developing in the publishing industry. Here, after all, was an idiot, who was actually collecting a regular paycheck for her foolish generalizations, castigating the litblogosphere based on one day of indolent Web surfing. Maybe she simply didn’t have the smarts to engage with the world around her. Maybe she preferred to furtively pick her nose and watch bad movies instead of doing a bit of thinking or even hard investigation of a genre.
But now, Ms. Cooke declares she’s seen the light! She’s one of us now! These things called graphic novels actually have literary merit! Never mind that Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer in 1992 — a good fifteen years ago — and Maus‘s two volumes were nominated for the National Book Critics Circle. Ms. Cooke dutifully read Art Spiegelman and she could clearly see “how brilliant it was, of course.” But being cast of an utterly lazy and incurious mental disposition, Ms. Cooke, perhaps incapable of tracking down Will Eisner or Alan Moore or any of the countless graphic novelists working around the time, privately declared in 1986 that the landscape to be devoid of any additional talent. The “strips” that Ms. Cooke identified — as opposed to comic books or graphic novels, which every other neophyte was jumping up and down over; presumably, Ms. Cooke was confused and didn’t have a clue as to where to look — were giving her a headache.
But now no more! For comics are now mainstream! And this means that Ms. Cooke can rethink her prejudices against this retrograde medium because, well, these books are now too omnipresent to discount.
I’m very glad that Ms. Cooke has written this column. It is now entirely clear that she lives underneath a rock.
(Thanks to Andrew for the link.)
- The Millions offers a highly subjective ranking of the McSweeney’s issues, although I’d argue that Chabon’s editorial work on the second genre volume (Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, never issued a number) far exceeds Issue #10. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see Garth lay down his subjective tastes like this over a literary journal. Here’s an unexpectedly thorough overview of all the issues — along with pictures. And, incidentally, in light of the AMS fallout, you might want to give the McSweeney’s Store and help them out with a purchase.
- Does David Letterman sell books?
- Andrew Wheeler ahs an advance look at Gene Wolfe’s latest book, Pirate Freedom.
- A review of the two-volume American Speeches offering from Library of America.
- 10 Surprisingly Good Tribute Albums.
- James Marsters on Torchwood? WTF?
- Will Gotham Mart live again? (via Bibliophile Bullpen)
- Can you really trust the Geek Squad?
- If you need a Harry Potter cheat sheet before Saturday, this will serve you well. (via Bill Peschel)
- Apparently, the racism racket has caused Tintin in the Congo‘s sales to leap.
- Footloose is being remade. To paraphrase Sammy Hager, the greed gets around. (via Bookshelves of Doom)
- So here’s some real Harry Potter news. Kassia Krozser exposes the book discount racket.
- There’s an interesting series at Editor & Publisher: 10 Newspapers That Do It Right.
- A blog to investigate: Print is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age.
- Online literary censorship from the Shanghai Information Bureau.
- There’s a legal battle over a Dorothy Parker compilation.
- Dan Green on Tom Perotta: “I understand that practically everyone in the world has a “screenplay” in the works, and that few of them will ever be produced, but if you’re going to write a novel that exists only as a proto-movie, why not just write it up as a script to begin with?”
- Believe it or not, Billy Wilder’s lost classic Ace in the Hole is now available on DVD.
- Apparently, Women’s Wear Daily refuses to electronically disseminate a critical profile of Nikki Finke. Do they fear retaliation from Finke? Before we have clear answers to these questions, in the meantime, David Poland reproduces the profile in question.
- Why is Blade Runner being reshot? More mysterious details from Film Ick.
- Dirk Gently is coming to radio. (via Savage Popcorn)
- DFW in Italy (YouTube)
- YouTube’s 5 Sorriest Questions for the 2008 Presidential Candidates.
- The return of Ayn Rand.
- Apparently, Farscape will be revived in a series of webisodes.
- Reuters: “A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus in the southern town of Lindau because he said she was too sexy, a newspaper reported Monday.” Beyond the troubling discrimination, who knew that Right Said Fred were seers?
This may be the first reading campaign that has expressed the urgency of reading, while simultaneously berating its audience. And that’s not all. The spot also demands, “Your body needs water. So drink that shit,” among other angry catechisms evocative of better living.
I’d like to see more people reading and if this gets at least one kid to read a book, then it can’t be bad. It also takes a truly deranged mind to put BO on one buttock and OK on the other, suggesting in a rather hysterical sense that reading is sexy or as empowering as a booty call. I hope that the crazy motherfucker who came up with that idea is hired for something else.
But there’s an anachronistic groupthink approach to this ad — a sense of severely underestimating the audience’s intelligence — that greatly troubles me. I simply do not believe that people are this dumb or that they will be coaxed into reading because an animated guy named D-Mike says so. (And what’s wrong with the sports page anyway?)
I don’t think Tony Soprano has whacked the novel or that books are going away anytime soon. But surely there’s a better way to promote literacy than this unintentionally hilarious video.
I’ve just been informed that the good folks at the Dictionary of Literary Biography have used The Bat Segundo Show as a source. Clearly, they have been misinformed about this program’s dubious nature. Nevertheless, as someone who has spent countless hours thumbing through the DLB, I’m immensely honored — actually, I’m blushing — at the mention. If the DLB is beginning to cite blogs and podcasts as sources, then clearly the online medium isn’t as “sub-literary” as its detractors proclaim.
Speaking of Segundo, there are a good deal of podcasts that will be let loose in the weeks ahead, with more than a few conversational fireworks along the way.
Publishers Weekly: “The HM Riverdeep Group has agreed to acquire the U.S. business operations of Harcourt Education for $4 billion. The deal, which is expected to close later in early 2008, includes the Harcourt’s elementary school publishing businesses as well as Harcourt Trade. The price includes $3.7 billion in cash plus $300 million in an equity stake for Harcourt in HM Riverdeep. Total revenue of the properties involved in the sale was $1.11 billion in 2006 with the vast majority generated by the school and library operations.”