Reluctant Habits

Do Not Trust This Man!

Posted by in Uncategorized

“I think we should publicly shame him,” said one of our party. “Okay,” I said. “Why not?” There were five of us waiting to meet up with Dan Wickett at the Sheraton Hotel Hudson Bar. But Mr. Wickett was not there! We hung around for around 40 minutes. But no Dan Wickett! Et tu, Dan? Despite the fact that there was a need to beat a deadline, your correspondent evaded his responsibilities and will be chained to his laptop for the next thirty hours to get the assignment finished. But…read more


Class Distinctions

Posted by in Class Division, Edward Champion, Perception, Personal

Back in the days when I played at the gilded trap known as the nine-to-five rap, there were often times in which my failure to distinguish social hierarchies was at odds with policies practiced off the clock. There was a night when I went out to dinner with my fellow co-workers. One of those terrible fusion places. The kind of place not so keen on food and atmosphere and social camaraderie, but where the individual goes to be seen. I have never cared too much about being seen, but I…read more


The U.S. Copyright Office

Posted by in Copyright, Edward Champion, Systems

Paramount Pictures Corporation holds co-copyright on David Foster Wallace’s “Host.” Nicholson Baker’s first two records, registered in 1981, were for two stories: “Snorkeling” and “K.590.” Both stories have not been collected. But the former appeared in The Little, v. 13, no. 1 and 2, p. 74-81. The latter appeared in the December 7, 1981 issue of The New Yorker. George Romero has been busier than you think. Romero is understandably meticulous about copyright — perhaps because Night of the Living Dead was, quite famously, issued without a copyright and entered…read more


The Decline of Book Reviewing: A Case Study

Posted by in Book Reviewing, Edward Champion, J.R. Moehringer, Rene Denfeld, See, Carolyn, Vollmann, William

It is said that the Eunectes murinus — referred to by laymen as the anaconda or the water boa — spends most of its time shooting its slimy body beneath the water, waiting for a hapless gazelle to stop and take a drink, only to grab the lithe animal with its jaws, coil its scaly muscular husk around its quivering body, squeezing and constricting until the animal is helpless (the animal is never crushed), where it then feasts upon the meat. It does this, because, while the boa does surface…read more


Weekend Diversions

Posted by in Uncategorized

Pardon the lack of new posts. We should have some fresh content here on Monday (along with two new Segundo shows you’re not going to want to miss). In the meantime, you can read two new reviews from me this weekend: my take on the new Vollmann in the Chicago Sun-Times and a review of Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times.


Night at the Boxcar

Posted by in Boxcar Lounge, Ceridwen Dovey, Edward Champion, Jami Attenberg, Lee Siegel, Mark Sarvas, Readings

This was roughly the view you received if you had the privilege of attending the Boxcar Lounge on Wednesday night. The venue was indeed shaped like a boxcar and it was SRO for those souls, like Levi and me, who had arrived from McNally Robinson. (Of that counterprogramming, while John Freeman made a valiant attempt to ask questions of Lee Siegel that would cause him to think instead of fulminate more on his puerile anti-Internet views, the two of us left after twenty minutes. Siegel, as a speaker, has the…read more


Technical Difficulties

Posted by in Uncategorized

There is no entry today. I am now wasting precious hours trying to recover the folder structure that Thunderbird screwed up and attempting to quell homicidal sympathies towards the bastards at Mozilla. [UPDATE: I have managed to hack the directory structure and restore everything.]


Interview with Charles Burns

Posted by in Charles Burns, Comics, Edward Champion

Four new podcasts were released today at The Bat Segundo Show. And since we’re on the subject of Segundo, what follows is a short excerpt from my conversation with Philadelphia-based artist Charles Burns, who I chatted with during a recent visit through New York. You might know Burns’s work from his advertisements or his illustrations for The Believer. But he’s best known as the writer and illustrator of the graphic novel, Black Hole, a compilation of his twelve-volume comic book. Burns worked on this over the course of ten years….read more


The Video Game as Art

Posted by in Early Cinema, Edward Champion, Film, Fraction Fever, Jason Roher, Roger Ebert, Video Games

In 2005, film critic Roger Ebert ruffled a few feathers when he suggested that because video games require player choices, games are therefore an inferior medium: To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers. That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most gamers, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves…read more


Weekend Diversions: Dwarf Complete

Posted by in Uncategorized

To the person who developed the madly addictive Dwarf Complete, thank you for taking two hours and twenty-six minutes away from my life.


Beware of the Owl

Posted by in Edward Champion, Owls, Thought Experiments

The reports promised snow but prevaricated. My mind marinated. You get that feeling when you are conned into picking away at a slice of red velvet cake because it’s there and you have only poor penmanship instead of an able fork. Never mind culinary sullies. The owl’s snooty hoots belied a ballistic solipsism suggesting the sword was mightier than any midnight rambler. And we were rendered into spittle and drivel hoping that flurry would scurry and leave us with some natural marching power. Do not attempt this at home. This…read more


Quadruple Bypass

Posted by in Canada, Elvis Stojko, Ice Skating, Quadruple Jump, Sarah Weinman

The first time I saw a quadruple jump performed live, I was barely a mile from the house I grew up in. It was December 1995. The Nepean Sportsplex, constructed in 1972, featured rickety rafters, off-kilter air-conditioning and smaller-than-regulation size skating rinks. This was a place designed more for vicious hockey hits than quadruple jumps, but two-time defending world champion Elvis Stojko was in town to compete in the Eastern Nationals, a three-day long competition for skaters determined to qualify for the National Championship. He didn’t have to be there;…read more


Hillary’s Tears, Our Tears

Posted by in 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Cult of Personality, Edward Champion, Hillary Clinton, Politics, Television

Lorrie Moore’s naive essay on Hillary Clinton not only demonstrates the unspoken precept that skilled fiction writers are sometimes remarkably simplistic when they write about politics, but deploys the same scripted liberalism that every progressive is now expected to chant to peers in coffeehouses. The formula, it seems, boils down to this: Hillary Bad, Obama Good. Now I’m not exactly a Hillary lover. Clinton waffled from a 1993 universal health care plan which mandated all employers to provide health care for employees to her latest “universal” plan, which shifts the…read more


Sprezzatura the Maligned

Posted by in Critics, Edward Champion, Insanity, Lee Siegel, New Republic, Sprezzatura

It’s been more than a year since the manboy cultural critic Lee Siegel was temporarily suspended from The New Republic for allegedly posting anonymous comments on its blog, under the name “sprezzatura.” And while Boris Kachka has interviewed Lee Siegel, Filthy Habits recently received an email from an individual claiming to be “sprezzatura.” He wished to set the matter straight. Sprezzatura’s email, which contained three mysterious JPEG attachments (among them, a picture of an alpaca in a compromising yet family-friendly position), claimed that he had been misrepresented, that Siegel was…read more


Forgotten Statue, Forgotten Spirit

Posted by in Carl Schurz, Edward Champion, History, Karl Bitter, Morningside, New York, Parks, Statues

Like many statues nestled along the rectangular trestles of Manhattan’s parks, Karl Bitter’s bronze depiction of Carl Schurz — situated at the corner of Morningside Drive and 116th Street — is regularly overlooked by many New Yorkers. They walk their dogs. They chat on their cell phones. They rush to important appointments or set out to beat a jogging record. But they rarely stop to observe this rather tall and intriguing figure who remains memorialized. That’s saying something, considering that Schurz is quite vertical in design (he stands nine feet…read more


Weekend Sightings: “People in Order”

Posted by in Film, James Price, Lenka Clayton

The question of whether life represents a parabolic arc is taken up by Lenka Clayton and James Price‘s short film “People in Order” — in which 100 people are edited together and proceed to beat on the same drum over the course of three minutes. It’s an inventive spin on the Michael Apted formula. The people here have been arranged by age, starting from the age of 1 and ending at 100. What’s particularly striking is the varying levels of enthusiasm, both in the people expressing their age and in…read more


Rosebud 2.0

Posted by in Amateur, Erin O'Brien, Internet, Porn, Sex, Women

I lean into my computer screen chin on fist, eyes leveled. Before me, a woman lies face down on an unremarkable bed. A man moves the woman’s hands behind her back. The woman waits patiently as he ties her hands together securely but comfortably with a simple rope. His wedding ring gleams as he pushes up her cotton frock and takes his time easing her panties down over her thighs. For the next several minutes, he fondles her. His caresses move from the swells of her buttocks to the folds…read more


Interview with Jami Attenberg

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Brooklyn, Edward Champion, Jami Attenberg

(Note: The full interview excerpted here can now be listened to as the 172nd installment of The Bat Segundo Show) For my first 2008 interview, I met up with writer Jami Attenberg at her Williamsburg apartment. During our conversation, Attenberg’s very friendly and intelligent cat, Cracker, proceeded to climb upon my leg and claw at the wires. He then deposited his slinky corporeal mass upon my lap and, later, climbed atop the table and deliberately occluded my notes. I was then forced to wing a portion of the interview. But…read more


Rep. Randy Forbes: Revisionist Historian

Posted by in Christian Right, Edward Champion, Historical Revisionists, Politics, Randy Forbes, Religion

House Resolution 888 (presumably 666 was unavailable) aims to celebrate and glorify a little bit of that ol’ time religion in a very big way. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia and signed on and unquestioned by 31 co-sponsors, wishes to “rejec[t], in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure or purposely omit such history from our Nation’s public buildings and educational resources.” It also wishes to set up an “American Religious History Week” each year “for the appreciation of and education on America’s history…read more


Mothlight and the WGA Strike

Posted by in Colbert Report, Daily Show, Edward Champion, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Unions, WGA Strike

America’s troubled soul snaked around two building corners on a late Monday afternoon. It read books. It offered quizzical pikers when WGA strikers handed out pink papers containing the phone numbers and emails of eight Viacom head honchos. It took pictures of the fourteen placard-holders as if on holiday. But there were no visible signs that it was registering the hypocrisy of standing in line for a show that was allegedly progressive (and pro-union) in tone as strikers quietly expressed their rights with signs. Maybe the strikers were performance artists…read more


Pommes Frites

Posted by in Edward Champion, Food, French Fries

It was an unwonted warm afternoon in January when my corpus decided that it required protein. My culinary id had screamed for the wrong kind of protein, the messy kind that requires many napkins. We settled ourselves inside a rectilinear restaurant in Fort Greene. I procured a burger, along with a large gantry-like basket of fries that towered over my small glass of RC Cola. I was hungry and had eaten without wisdom that day, but there were more potato slivers here than even the most ravenous soul could devour….read more


Filthy Habits: An Introduction

Posted by in Edward Champion, Technical

“Habits in writing as in life are only useful if they are broken as soon as they cease to be advantageous.” — W. Somerset Maugham Welcome to Filthy Habits (working title, possibly subject to change), which isn’t really a blog and isn’t really a online magazine, and may not even be about literature all the time. But it does reflect the inevitable continuation of this site. What you will find here are long-form entries on a wide range of topics: some involving strange journalism, some involving cultural commentary, some involving…read more


Transitional Post

Posted by in Uncategorized

Bear with me as the new incarnation is being tinkered with. Here are some links to recent activity. Recent Reviews, Essays, and Articles: “The Perils of Literary Biography” (Chronicle of Higher Education, December 21, 2007) Gonzo and The Gonzo Way (The Philly Inquirer, December 30, 2007) In defense of the single-sentence paragraph (The Guardian, January 2, 2008) Review of Stephen King’s Duma Key (Penthouse, April 2008) Bat Segundo Podcasts: #160 — Will Self #161 — Stewart O’Nan #162 — Ken Kalfus #163 — Jess Walter #164 — Peter Fernandez and…read more