Reluctant Habits

BSS #152: Richard Russo

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Spending the days sighing. Author: Richard Russo Subjects Discussed: The origins of Bridge of Sighs‘s dual narrative, writing a long novel without an end in sight, Byron, characters who approach Lucy’s elbows, a protagonist’s blind spots, Marconi — the character and the telegraph, the American dream in post-World War II, hidden niches and the architecture of Thomaston, Gabriel Mock and his fence, the influence of Mark Twain, the chasm between the working class and the middle class, narrative dichotomies, the benefits of computers for ambitious novels,…read more

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BSS #151: Oliver Sacks

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Dwelling upon the rotten fruit that comes from musical relationships. Author: Oliver Sacks Subjects Discussed: Musicophilia, emotional responses in patients with dementia and Tourette’s, an amazing musical rendition from Alzheimer’s patient Woody Geist played by Dr. Sacks on his CD player, the relationship between music and the auditory cortex, the memory of performance, responding to rhythm, the overpotent stimulant qualities of music, earworms, music as “advertisements for toothpaste,” being bombarded with tunes in interior environments, the dangers of iPods, neurological speculation upon having a “soundtrack to…read more

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RIP Robert Goulet

Posted by in Music

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“Spaced” To Be Remade, Dumbed Down for U.S.

Posted by in Uncategorized

Edgar Wright: “I can confirm too, that Simon was never contacted either. I don’t really want to get involved at all, but it infuriates me that they would a) never bother to get in touch but still b) splash me and Simon’s names all over the trade announcements and infer that we’re involved in the same way Ricky & Steve were with The Office.” Even worse, McG is involved in this remake. Which is entirely unnecessary.

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Joe Meno’s Next Book

Posted by in Uncategorized

From Publishers Lunch: Nelson Algren Literary Award winner and author of HAIRSTYLES OF THE DAMNED Joe Meno’s THE GREAT PERHAPS, the story of an eccentric family in the weeks leading up to the 2004 presidential election: two bumbling professors, two strange daughters, and a grandfather limiting himself to thirteen words a day, then twelve, then eleven — one less each day until he will speak no more, to Tom Mayer at Norton, by Maria Massie at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin (NA).

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The Impact of the Writers Strike

Posted by in Television

Variety; “The canaries in TV’s creative coal mine are latenight hosts such as David Letterman and Jay Leno, whose monologues and sketches are dependent on union writers. If history is any guide, both shows will almost instantly go dark, as would ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Comedy Central’s latenight stalwarts ‘The Daily Show With Jon Stewart’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ would also likely switch to repeats in the immediate aftermath of a strike.” It’s 1988 all over again. And there’s a part of me quite curious about how long it will go…read more

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Coming on November 14, 2007

Posted by in Uncategorized

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Pain! Drama! Knife Licking!

Posted by in Film

And the runner-up is this Dunkin Donuts brawl. As for Riki-Oh, well let’s just say that his opponent needs better eyeball makeup. But attempting to choke your opponent with your own digestive tract is pretty inspired.

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A Letter Sent to the Pabst Brewing Company

Posted by in Beer

Bernard Orsi Chairman PABST BREWING COMPANY 121 Interpark Blvd., Ste. 300 San Antonio, TX 78216-1852 Dear Mr. Orsi: I write to you because I am beginning to have doubts about your beer. You see, in a moment of weakness, several months ago, I enjoyed Pabst Blue Ribbon with the famed editor of a literary journal based in San Francisco. However, since I have moved to Brooklyn, I have, at the urging of a few of my readers (I am a writer whose work appears in newspapers and strange magazines, as…read more

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Maybe She Loves Men Too Much

Posted by in Music

(via the warped mind of Beckett Boo)

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Clarifying the PBR Rumors

Posted by in Beer

It is important that I respond to recent provocative claims made by Howard Junker before the rumors get out of hand. Junker declares me “a PBR addict.” While it is true that Junker and I enjoyed one enchanting moment in the evening drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon together, I wish to point out that it is largely economic circumstances that determine whether I imbibe a particular beer. When the difference rests between a $3 can of PBR and a $7 Guinness, as it did last week at Happy Endings, well then…read more

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Defying the Ominous Ghosts of Death-O-Meters in the Morning

Posted by in Brooklyn

A spate of posts is forthcoming. But for the nonce, I’m pleased to report that Shauny (now an author!) is every bit as kind and glorious in person as she is in print. I’m ashamed to report that I overslept and sprinted (well, intermittently; athletic prowess is not one of my best qualities) down Seventh Avenue in an effort to meet up with her without she and Gareth falling victims to the Godot scenario. After breakfast, I found myself offering an impromptu historical tour of Brooklyn, learning in media res…read more

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Joe Queenan: Incurious Harbinger of Death

Posted by in Uncategorized

Pity Joe Queenan, who with his sad, bitter, and predictable essays has secured his position as the Bobby Slayton (or perhaps, more appositely, the Bobby Slayton knockoff) of the literary world. The amaroidal (or perhaps hemorrhoidal?) lout actually thinks he’s being funny with this smug piece that pillories Henry Petroski for having the effrontery to dwell at length upon the history of the toothpick. Who knew that those reckless microhistorians were the true brutes of our world? Forget sexism, racism, or even the Bush Administration. As far as Queenan is…read more

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The Unusual Combination of Michael Jackson, Martin Scorsese, and Richard Price

Posted by in Film, Music

Part One: Part Two: The video also features a young Wesley Snipes. See also Weird Al Yankovich’s “Fat.” (via Sarah)

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The Case Against World of Warcraft

Posted by in Video Games

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Five New Podcasts

Posted by in Bat Segundo

The capsules will be completed later. For now, the latest five podcasts are also available on the main Segundo site, where additional streaming options are available.

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BSS #150: James Lipton

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Stepping away to preserve his dubious legacy. Author: James Lipton Subjects Discussed: Lipton’s balance between writing about Inside the Actors Studio and writing about himself, throwing actors out of the Actors Studio, whether or not Lipton is still perfecting aspects about the show, the 1970s talk show environment of tables and chairs vs. the contemporary environment of desks separating interview from guest, scraping the set together in Inside‘s early days, why blue cards are used, training with Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, cross-examination and interviewing, sense memory,…read more

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BSS #149: David Michaelis

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Heckled for peanuts. Author: David Michaelis Subjects Discussed: The connection between Charles Schulz’s emotional reticence and his Minnesota childhood, Peanuts characters who aren’t explicitly reflected through Schulz’s life, the connection between Lucy and Schulz’s first wife, names borrowed for Peanuts characters, balancing probing into Schulz’s life and examining the comic strip, the kite-eating tree and the psychiatric booth, Bill Watterson’s review, the difficulties of compressing biography, exploring happiness, the connection between Jefferson Airplane and Peanuts, Peanuts as a prism for all ideologies to see their messages…read more

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BSS #148: Naomi Wolf

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Contemplating the end of The Bat Segundo Show. Author: Naomi Wolf Subjects Discussed: James Madison’s prescient statement about the American republic in 1829, the end of America, despotic blueprints, on the prospect of Americans taking up arms against the government, closed societies, the staging of “Mission Accomplished,” the efficacy of protesting, Nancy Pelosi’s ineptitude, the American Freedom Campaign’s failure to adopt impeachment as a position, Andrew Meyer and John Kerry’s failure to react, paramilitary forces crushing democracy, Blackwater, the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, the failure…read more

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BSS #147: Steven Pinker

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: He knows his first name is not Steven. Author: Steven Pinker Subjects Discussed: The Starbucks coffee cup size hierarchy, L.A. Story, “divorce project” and unusual noun phrase connotations, perceptive illusions in language, connotation and denotation, polysemy, campus slang and being hip, euphemisms, the unpredictable nature of words and terminology, the origins of “spam,” the absence of specific terms, locative elements of verbs, meanings and brute memorization, “giggle” vs. “Google,” profanity, offensive language, the difficulties of the surname “Koch,” groups adopting pejorative terms, Lenny Bruce’s infamous routines,…read more

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BSS #146: Danica McKellar

Posted by in Bat Segundo

[PROGRAM NOTE: For background on this podcast, see this post.] Condition of Mr. Segundo: Contemplating mathematical positions. Author: Danica McKellar Subjects Discussed: Whether the relationship between prime numbers and monkeys is equitable, metaphorical criteria, factor trees, teenage girls and shopping, “fun and friendly” math, relying upon teenage memories and teen magazines to communicate with girls, testimonials as a form of empowerment, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem and its mathematical applicability, settling upon middle-school girls as a reading audience, middle-school “confidence,” speaking in front of Congress, promotion vs. education, the “proof” that math…read more

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More Perplexing Than the “Parallax View” Test

Posted by in Uncategorized

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Unhappy Endings

Posted by in Uncategorized

But there’s another reason he never finishes, if he’s honest with himself. He’s afraid of being disappointed by the endings, which is the reason he stopped reading fiction. He’d read Great Expectations at Rikers and had loved it — this story of a criminal secretly sponsoring some poor kid’s life — until the jail librarian pointed out that Dickens had written two endings. When he found the original ending Vince felt betrayed by the entire idea of narrative fiction. This story he’d carried around in his head had two endings?…read more

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Oliver Sacks Profile

Posted by in Uncategorized

My profile of Oliver Sacks can be found in this week’s Time Out New York. Dr. Sacks and I talked about quite a lot in the short time we had, and the entire conversation will be unveiled in a forthcoming podcast, which likewise includes Woody Geist’s remarkable version of “Shooby Dooin’.”

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Cowards Killing Castro

Posted by in San Francisco

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau City and County of San Francisco, apparently, is proud to announce that “There will be NO Halloween celebration in the Castro in 2007,” which is akin to telling a martinet-minded headmaster telling a bunch of eager students that there is no Santa Claus. If this isn’t a sign of how frightened the United States of America is, I don’t know what is. The campaign has been launched because last year, a few assholes proceeded to stab people, despite vigorous police protection. I cannot…read more

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Quick Spottings

Posted by in Uncategorized

Not only does Carolyn have a piece in today’s Los Angeles Times, but Dan Wickett has made Wired! It seems that some of these litbloggers don’t seem to be spending much of their time in Terre Haute these days. Speaking of Mr. Wickett, I have unimpeachable evidence that he’s in New York right now. Roy Kesey, an author who has published two books with Dzanc, will be appearing tonight as part of the Happy Ending Music and Reading Series. The bar’s at 302 Broome Street. The show begins at 8:00…read more

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Geek Alert! Geek Alert!

Posted by in Television

Peter Davison will reprise his role as the Fifth Doctor. And yes an “Eeeeeeeeeeeek!” is in order for this.

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Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

There are more Beatles books now than at any other point in human history. And this considerable sum shall likewise continue to accrue so long as pop music is heralded worthy of discussion. Two months from now, there will be even more Beatles books than there are now. Two years from now, who knows how many people will probe inside George Harrison’s solitude or give John Lennon’s assassination yet another dissection? USA Today‘s Anthony DeBarros says that the secret ingredient is context. But how much context do we need? What…read more

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Might As Well Choke

Posted by in Music

Here’s an explanation for why this hilarious snafu happened. (via MeFi)

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Edmund Wilson, Incompetent Genre Snob

Posted by in Book Reviewing

In between books I have to read for work, I’ve sneaked in a few pages of the two-volume Edmund Wilson set recently put out by the Library of America. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that, when not defending Hemingway against his political critics or concluding that Intruder in the Dust “contains a kind of counterblast to the anti-lynching bill and to the civil-rights plank in the Democratic platform,” the man was a bit of a douchebag. And I say this as someone who enjoys some of his…read more

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