Reluctant Habits

Did Someone Hook Tanenhaus Up With Some Acapulco Gold or Something?

Posted by in Tanenhaus, Sam

I am absolutely stunned to see this week’s edition of The New York Times Book Review contain not one, but TWO, pieces devoted to comics: Stephanie Zacharek’s review of The Completely Mad Don Martin and Douglas Wolk’s column. Plus, there’s this cheeky review of the David Levy book and Liesl Schillinger reviews Zeroville and makes this very astute observation: “Both Biskind’s and Erickson’s books begin with the Manson murders and an earthquake.” Regrettably, Joe Queenan is also in there with another bland attempt at wit. One can’t have everything. But…read more

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Segundo Cleanup

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Apologies to all for the unfinished capsules for the last seven shows and the delay in getting these most recent shows up. It’s been extremely busy around here. I should have the capsule situation rectified in a few days. In the meantime, four new shows are available. Beyond the two part interview with Tom McCarthy, which touches upon a remarkable range of topics, you won’t want to miss Show #157 if you’re interested in the future of independent publishing. Multiple streaming and downloading options are, as always, available at the…read more

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BSS #157: Roy Kesey & Dan Wickett

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Wondering if Roy Kesey is a “real” Roy. Author: Roy Kesey and Dan Wickett Subjects Discussed: Writing stories in Beijing, exotic stories, conversational vs. descriptive stories, Carlo Ginzburg, working from pre-existing conversations, text that kick-starts a character’s voice, personal experience and intuitive narrative choices, the relationship between art forms and words, Jack Kerouac’s scroll, the worst case scenario of the artist’s lifestyle, baroque vs. conversational stories, finding the heart vs. putting together the puzzle pieces, imbuing a baroque character with a human sense, the advantages and…read more

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BSS #156: Andrea Barrett

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Praising the smell of authors. Author: Andrea Barrett Subjects Discussed: The similarities between pre-World War I and contemporary environments, stumbling upon 1916, sanatoriums, The Magic Mountain, ethnic backgrounds, dwelling upon immigrants and working class backgrounds, blowhard intellectuals, cure cottages, the American Protective League, writing in first person plural, working from two green volumes of chemistry, amateurs in science, X-rays and radiation, the dark underbelly of science, research and ensuring verisimilitude, period clothing, symbols of an ethereal environment, unintentional imagery, stylizing a love quartet, characters who maintain…read more

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BSS #155: Tom McCarthy, Part Two

Posted by in Bat Segundo

(This is the second part of a two-part interview with Tom McCarthy. To listen to Part One, go here.) Condition of Mr. Segundo: Baffled by French artistic references. Author: Tom McCarthy Subjects Discussed: Guns and weapons, the smell of cordite, authenticity, Remainder‘s protagonist as revolutionary, the ethical imperative of bearing witness, Antonioni’s films, Andy Warhol, Lockean nouns, the central axis of art, philosophy, and literature, Stanley Milgram’s experiments, Jeremy Deller’s reenactment, The Cramps, prisoner reenactments of the “Thriller” video, the common motif of the Michelin Man within Remainder and William…read more

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BSS #154: Tom McCarthy Part One

Posted by in Bat Segundo

(This is the first of a two-part interview with Tom McCarthy. To listen to Part Two, go here.) Condition of Mr. Segundo: Pondering whether he may be a reenactment. Author: Tom McCarthy Subjects Discussed: Really good rhubarb tarts, cappuccinos and loyalty cards, the relationship between caffeine and psychosis, repetitive patterns, writing a book with the maximum number of ambiguities possible, cracks in the wall, unintentional allegory, writing Remainder in three drafts, J.G. Ballard and the “Eureka!” moment, the illusion of a brisk read, weird guys at bars, modulating dialogue, the…read more

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RIP Evel Knievel

Posted by in Obits

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Too Bad Amazon Doesn’t Offer 1.21 Gigawatts

Posted by in Amazon

Amazon Customer Reviews for Uranium Ore: “I ordered a bunch of cans of this, and still couldn’t get my time machine to work. I can’t wait to get back to 1985 and my hot girlfriend. Meanwhile, I’m stuck working at the Cafe 80s, dammit.”

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One Sentence Review

Posted by in Music

Bruce Springsteen, Magic: “Yo, Bruce, I liked ‘Radio Nowhere’ the first time when it was called ‘Jenny (867-5309).”

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Pindeldyboz Party on December 10th

Posted by in Events

Sometimes, when it comes to literary journals, everything good just leaks out of me. Looking at the dark road that has caused Pindeldyboz, a publication with a long history of posting the post-modern, to run out of gas and cease print publication, perhaps it was a fairy tale to expect Pindeldyboz to continue publishing in print forever. The interruptions here of may leave terrible cavities, but I suppose this means that one really long seven-day day comes to an end. Maybe we become that with which we interconnect. Or it’s…read more

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Suggestive Music

Posted by in Music

A remarkably thorough list of album covers with nudity. Strangely, there appears no sign of Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins. (Correction: found here.) But there are some odd design concepts here — even a daring group called Women of the SS. I’m not sure who came up with the conceptual cover on the right or why the manager or publicity person figured that raw spinach carefully arranged on a woman’s body would somehow make these guys cool. But it was 1973 and people had a lot of ideas back…read more

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Unintentionally Hilarious BBC Pilot

Posted by in Men, Television

And here’s Part 2. Mainly for Men was a disastrous 1969 pilot in which the BBC attempted to get in touch with “what men wanted” by filming this magazine show. The result involved awkward attempts at interviews, how to fill up your leisure time with shark hunting, and even a song that you could sing along to (with a blonde polishing furniture in the foreground): “Men say they don’t just want little to make up an ideal woman / They talk about hair, the clothes that you wear, as part…read more

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New Guardian Post

Posted by in New Reviews

A Guardian blog post, which, believe it or not, has a few positive things to say about Dave Eggers and Jonathan Safran Foer, appears in today’s Guardian.

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Quick-Ass Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

A University of Alberta researcher has discovered that men are more likely to enjoy a story if they know it’s fictional, whereas women are more likely to enjoy a story if they know it’s based on the truth. (via The Valve) Tao Lin on the levels of greatness a fiction writer can achieve in. Dubious music criticism from NPR. Some background on Mae West’s SEX. George R.R. Martin interviewed. OS: “I don’t want to get started on a rant over here, but why can’t male celebrities have the same freedom…read more

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Jimmy Breslin Returns on Semi-Regular Basis?

Posted by in Journalism

It appears that Newsday is publishing Jimmy Breslin again. There have been three Breslin columns so far this year. And Breslin has a new book out in February called King Rat.

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NYTBR: Safer Than Pat Boone

Posted by in Tanenhaus, Sam

If there are four words that best describe the NYTBR‘s Top Ten Books of 2007, they are: We Take No Chances.

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Because a Hindenburg Tribute Really Pounds the Point Home

Posted by in Politics

Ron Paul Blimp: “Two of the three airship companies we contacted had 3-12 month minimum contracts at a range of $225-$350K a month for various different features and blimps. Many airships only seat 3-9 people plus the pilots.”

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The NYPD Cracks Down on Human Decency

Posted by in New York

New York Times: “In fact, all three items had been planted by police officers in plainclothes during the previous six weeks. And the three people who picked them up were arrested, and now face indictment on charges that could land them in state prison…. Unlike the initial program, in which the props were worth at most a few hundred dollars, the bags are now salted with real American Express cards, issued under pseudonyms to the Police Department. Because the theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a Class E…read more

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Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

Regrettably, my Hound has not yet come to life. Nor has my mouth become lathered with her sap. But I’m on deadline right now, with an avidity that could come only from the Evil One. So cut me some slack. Awards season is far from over. Indeed, if a literary award did not exist, it would be necessary for Voltaire to create one. Never mind that he’s been dead for centuries. In any event, the NBCC blog has long, long, long lists for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. These lists represent…read more

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A Message from the Bloglines Plumber

Posted by in Blogging, Internet

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Terry Gross Responds

Posted by in Censorship, Franzen, Jonathan, Gross, Terry, NPR

Terry Gross, recently referenced in this story involving a Jonathan Franzen interview that had been cut for broadcast, has been kind enough to respond to my questions. She informs me that “there has been no self-censorship or deals cut to suppress the Franzen interview.” Gross tells me that the audio for the original October 15, 2001 broadcast should have been available on the Fresh Air website and that she was surprised to learn that this wasn’t the case. Fresh Air has asked NPR to restore the original Franzen interview on…read more

The Beginning of the End at Time Out?

Posted by in Journalism

I had my own run-in with Time Out New York editor-in-chief Brian Farnham. But it appears that there may be additional problems within the Time Out empire. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Time Out Chicago Editor-in-Chief Joel Reese has been fired for “violating a company policy.” There’s no word yet on what specific company policy provision was violated. And not even TOC Marketing Director Tony Barnett knows, or, at least, he’s not willing to reveal what happened to the press. This abrupt sacking — Reese was only on the job…read more

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A Rose for Norman

Posted by in Sex

CNN has announced that Norman Mailer is the first posthumous winner of the Bad Sex Award. (via Jeff)

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Something to Sing at the Next Family Get-Together

Posted by in Music

Mail & Guardian: “As he sang Lijepa Nasa Domovino (Our Beautiful Homeland), Henry mispronounced some of it — instead of singing “Mila kuda si planina [You know, my dear, how we love your mountains]“, he sang “Mila kura si planina“, which sounds like “My dear, a penis and a mountain”.

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Sloane Crosley: Not a Skeleton in the Closet?

Posted by in Uncategorized

I have nothing bad to say about Sloane Crosley, except that I’ve yet to receive The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps (and that’s really more my fault, because I didn’t voice my affinity for that pulp period). Apparently nobody else has any dirt either. Normally, I’m suspicious of such people. But since this is a piece from Observer journalist Leon Neyfakh and Ms. Crosley has the additional imprimatur from a figure known only as “Mr. Park,” I believe that Mr. Neyfakh did pound the pavement and looked vigorously for…read more

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Carson Daly and Ellen DeGeneres, Scabs

Posted by in WGA Strike

Reuters: “While ‘Last Call’ is the first talk show in late-night to re-enter production since the strike began November 5, it’s not the first talk show in all of television to do so. Ellen DeGeneres began taping new episodes of her syndicated daytime talker, ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show,’ on November 6.”

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Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

A side question for library geeks: When it comes to research, are you more of a SIBL or a Central BPL advocate? I have my own thoughts on the pros and cons of each library, and I do indeed like each one in different ways. (Sadly, SIBL has replaced Lexis with Factiva. But there are still some worthwhile resources here.) The one thing that has truly astonished me since moving to New York is the remarkable protectiveness that university libraries have towards their collections. You can’t even walk into these…read more

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RIP Kevin Dubrow

Posted by in Music, Obits

Yes, it’s hair band day here at Return of the Reluctant. But that’s only because the dubious winds of news have breezed along a strange tendentious trajectory after the Thanksgiving holiday. Quiet Riot singer Kevin Dubrow has been found dead in Vegas — a place where his services were, I hope, appreciated. Nevertheless, “Cum On Feel the Noize,” despite its crude mangling of monosyllabic words, did blast many a time on my speakers over the years. (And in Quiet Riot’s defense, it was Slade who first performed the song and…read more

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Janet Maslin: Abdicating Her Critical Faculties One Review at a Time

Posted by in Book Reviewing, New York Times

Slushpile has dug up further evidence of Janet Maslin’s critical inadequacies, as evidenced by this review of John Leake’s Entering Hades. Apparently, the fact that Michael Connelly did not give the book a blurb is reason enough to quibble with it. In fact, I’m wondering why Maslin didn’t just throw the book in the fireplace and devote her 900 words to qualities that had nothing to do with the book. What of John Leake’s pronounced fro or the fact that he sits with his arms crossed, but doesn’t appear intense…read more

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Kindle Redux

Posted by in Amazon, Kindle

My investigations into the Amazon Kindle have yielded some names. And I plan to follow up on this very soon. But in the meantime, Simon Owens has presented us with a observation so patently obvious that it appears to have been overlooked by everyone: What good is a blog if you can’t click on outbound links?

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