Reluctant Habits


Posted by in Actors, Film, Journalism, roache-linus, rudnick-betsy

It’s a drizzly Tuesday afternoon in the Meatpacking District. I’m waiting outside a hotel suite. It’s just before a junket interview that will be my last. A film publicist wanders in the hallway, jitters in her stride. She’s gabbing into her cell, calmly trying to placate a difficult client who doesn’t realize how difficult he’s being. Being a journalist, I’m invisible. I’m the barista or bartender of the media system. I’m considered too dimwitted to pay attention to the dismal and terrible things that actors and filmmakers sometimes say. The…read more

Sven Birkerts and the Frightening Fitzroya

Posted by in Birkerts, Sven, Blogging, davidson-jenny

Being wrong is wonderful! It’s a bit like accidentally walking into a fitzroya and suddenly realizing that there’s this large evergreen that you didn’t know about. Suddenly, you’re forced to alter your existence to account for the fitzroya. And when you ponder the fitzroya a bit — as Darwin did, dutifully naming it in honor of the HMS Beagle’s captain — you begin asking a few questions. How did the tree get there? Why does it have such a mammoth diameter? And how can all this be used in tandem…read more

Standard Operating Procedure

Posted by in Abu Ghraib, Film, morris-errol, Uncategorized

It seems particularly fitting to remark upon Errol Morris’s latest film, Standard Operating Procedure, as Armond White offers yet another hysterical fulmination about how online culture is apparently destroying exegesis, ranting in particular about “the shame of middle-class and middlebrow conformity that critics follow each other when praising movies that disrespect religion, rail about the current administration or feed into a sense of nihilism that only people privileged with condos and professional can tenure.” This colorful sentiment is, to say the least, a disingenuous generalization. For Morris’s documentary (and the…read more

Open Source Sodomy

Posted by in Uncategorized

“This should be a better world,” a science fiction convention attendee said. “A more honest one, where sex isn’t shameful or degrading. I wish this were the kind of world where you could say, ‘Wow, I’d like to sodomize you with my nightstick,’ and people would understand that it’s not a way of reducing you to an asshole and ignoring the rest of you, even though the request inherently objectifies the person you ask, but rather a way of saying that I may not know your mind, but your body…read more


Simple as Pie

Posted by in Uncategorized

Ladies and gentlemen, you may have observed the relative silence around these parts of late. This is because I am very angry — furious about Hillary Clinton’s willingness to say anything to get elected, indignant about the White House’s denial about torture, prepared to apply a baseball bat to newspaper racks because the international food crisis and war casualties aren’t appearing in 42 point type on the front page, etcetera. I have been trying to figure out the precise way in which I can articulate my outrage, in which I…read more


New York ComicCon — Podcast

Posted by in Baker, Kyle, Brown, Jeffrey, mccloud-scott, New York ComicCon

Over the course of the weekend, a number of people were interviewed by Our Young, Roving Correspondents on the floor of New York ComicCon. Thankfully, we have managed to assemble a rather strange collection of interviews into a podcast. We had no idea that we had recorded so much material. Many thanks to Eric Rosenfield for interview assistance and his laconic pal Phil for moral support and a shoulder to cry on. Scroll to the bottom to listen or download the 78 minute MP3! 1. Mike Pellerito — In this…read more

On the Exchange of Moments

Posted by in Uncategorized

Dude, like, there’s this whole web conservation moment going down. The same bullshit about how there’s all this bullshit on the Web and how it’s up to us to be responsible and all for our content. I hereby abdicate editing on this post. Because I want to tell you about why I’m up right now and, hell, maybe I’ll go into the the mistake I made of imbibing two cups of coffee and a rather large bottle of Coca-Cola to meet two deadlines and to get through a rather long…read more


NYCC: An Impromptu Interview with Jeffrey Brown

Posted by in Brown, Jeffrey, Comics, New York ComicCon

On Friday afternoon, I began walking the floors of New York ComicCon, collecting strange snippets that will be glued together for a future installment of Segundo. I counted thirty-seven Jedi Knights (some of them portly, making me wonder why Jedi discipline doesn’t seem to involve physical fitness), two Stormtroopers (both in good shape), and two Princess Leias (both in remarkably gaunt shape and dressed to show this). If one must choose a side in the Star Wars/Star Trek dichotomy, I’m more of a Trek man myself, even though I recognize…read more

NYCC: The New York Comics Legend Award

Posted by in Comics, lee-stan, New York ComicCon

Eric Rosenfield reports: The first annual New York Comics Legend Award was held at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square where a number of die-hards ponied up $350 each to see the award given to Stan Lee, co-creator of Spider Man, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, etc. etc. He’s something close to the PT Barnum of comics, fond of such catchphrases as “True Believer” and “Excelsior!” I had come with this guy. At first, we milled around and ate the excellent canapés. We were upset because the luminaries—including…read more


Posted by in Uncategorized

Today, there are two notable pieces of news: The Bat Segundo Show has now crossed the 200 episode mark, with shocking developments involving Mr. Segundo, and Mark Sarvas‘s Harry, Revised hits bookstores. In an effort to tie both pieces of news together, one of the podcasts released today involves an interview with Sarvas himself. But if you’re thinking this is squeaky-clean literary stuff, an excerpt from the show should rectify this impression. Correspondent: Anna is actually a palindrome. Is that intentional? Sarvas: No. And the thing that really troubled me…read more


Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse Plan Season Five

Posted by in Lost

INT. LOST PRODUCTION OFFICE — DAY DAMON runs ALL THE WAY THE FUCK INTO THE OFFICE, passing SIX FUCKING WRITERS. He carries a latte — A FUCKING VENTI LATTE, MOTHERFUCKERS! Teach that FUCKING BARISTA a lesson! CARLTON holds up his hand. Holy. Fucking. Shit. It’s the BIG FUCKING HAND of a FUCKING BIGSHOT TV WRITER! CARLTON Emphasis is important. DAMON We need more fucking. CARLTON More fucking Flann O’Brien. DAMON Jack fucks the dead fucking skull of Flann Fucking O’Brien? Damon spills his latte onto the boardroom table. Holy. Fuck!…read more


Interview with Tobias Wolff

Posted by in Bat Segundo, wolff-tobias

This week, The Bat Segundo Show will cross the 200 episode barrier. A future program will feature a conversation with the writer Tobias Wolff, whose most recent book, Our Story Begins, is a short story collection containing previously collected tales — including the classics “Bullet in the Brain” and “Hunters in the Snow” — and more recent offerings like “A White Bible,” a gripping narrative that takes the notion of entitlement to task, but leaves judgment to the reader. In the New York Times Book Review*, Liesl Schillinger wrote, “To…read more

Anders in the Flesh

Posted by in Baker, Nicholson, siegel-lee

Tobias Wolff’s short story, “Bullet to the Brain” concerns Anders, a critic so removed from the joys and pleasures of life that he is reduced to niggling over every ontological detail. Because of this, reality trumps his existence. The story is unspeakably tragic in its final paragraphs, as we learn that there are pleasures that Anders is incapable of remembering. I don’t know if Lee Siegel has ever read this tale, but his embarrassing appearance at the New York Public Library on Thursday night revealed a sad sack so detached…read more



Posted by in Uncategorized

Reports on the Mailer tribute at Carnegie Hall, the Baker/Julavits/Siegel talk* at the New York Public Library, and a review of the documentary Young@Heart are forthcoming. In the meantime, there are interviews to conduct, panels to attend, deadlines to meet, and taxes to finalize. But there will also be more Segundo podcasts as well. So bear with me while I catch up on the backlog. In the meantime, as others have noted, please support Tayari Jones’s efforts to provide funds for the Dunbar Village rape victims. I’ll have more later….read more


David Kipen: A True American

Posted by in Arts Funding, kipen-david, NEA, Uncategorized

In 2007, the French Ministry of Culture had an annual budget of €3.18 billion. (To give you some sense of how this fits into the grand scheme of things, France’s national budget in 2005 was €288.8 billion. So that’s roughly around 1% of the national budget.) While the National Endowment of the Arts budget is at its highest mark since 1995, the NEA budget as a whole amounts to $144.7 million. A mere €91.94 million to France’s €3.18 billion. A few more things to consider: Irish writers live tax free….read more

Old-Time Music

Posted by in Uncategorized

Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay this morning Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay this morning Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay Old-time music never went away this morning —Bubba George Stringband, Ithaca, NY You see them on street corners and bars, sometimes in the corners of restaurants. Fiddle and banjo players. They congregate in alleyways and parking lots; they come together in houses, apartments, behind barns, next to railroad tracks, all across America, a network of steel strings squealing and thumping. You can see the lines…read more

Jane Smiley is Snobby Enough to Aim Low

Posted by in Book Reviewing, smiley-jane, weiner-jennifer

Just so you know the heights of her hauteur, Jane Smiley’s latest review is about the snobbiest nonsense you can imagine from a book review section. The kind of afternoon balderdash “dictated but not read” by a humorless patent attorney and dutifully revered without quibble by fawning sycophants. Unable to get her arrogant and elitist mind around the idea of a pink book, or rather what’s inside a pink book, Smiley spends four paragraphs devoting her Pulitzer Prize-winning “talents” to sentences that one would expect from a precocious tot who…read more

Charlton Heston

Posted by in Heston, Charlton, Obits

The phone rang. “Charlton Heston died.” “I know.” “Well, what do you think?” I hadn’t realized that my feelings for Charlton Heston were complex. I didn’t even know that I had feelings about all this. Heston was one of those dependable melodramatic actors, blessed with a wonderful and often ridiculous voice that opened the floodgates for the pleasantly overbearing masculinity one now sees in Harrison Ford, William Shatner, and Dennis Quaid. Even before he turned full-fledged conservative, he had a strange libertarian-minded approach to angst which provided an undeniable heft…read more


My Blueberry Nights

Posted by in Uncategorized

As the extreme closeups of gooey ice cream melting into viscous blueberry pie made my pre-lunch stomach grumble, I thought at first that Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights would turn out to be a brave and somewhat unusual art-house film for foodies. Perhaps Wong Kar-Wai would at long last inform snobs of food and snobs of life that there was indeed good eating and good living to be found in the more populist corners of the earth. But as the film played out, the film’s major flaw presented itself to…read more

The April Fool’s Collection

Posted by in April Fool

April Fool’s Day has come and gone. But for those who missed the fun, here’s a list of links to the entries: Samantha Power to “Give the People What They Want” Adam Kirsch Tests Out New Sense of Humor Love in the Air for Gessen and Sarvas? NBCC Plans “The Month of a Thousand Panels” Daniel Menaker Branches Out Into Motion Pictures Rachel Donadio Continues Transformation Into Younger and Stupider Curtis Sittenfeld Litbloggers Agree That Blogging “Takes Too Much Time” Neal Pollack to Write Dad Essays Until the End of…read more


Harriet Klausner Gives Three Star Amazon Review

Posted by in April Fool

Harriet Klausner, known to the literary world as Amazon’s #1 reviewer and known for her generosity towards every book that she reads, stunned the literary world when she rated a book three stars, instead of the accustomed four or five. “She was probably having a bad day,” said Penguin’s Yen Cheong. Publishers are now debating whether they should send Klausner any additional books in light of this critical solecism. They had counted on Klausner for a steady stream of uncritical raves and began to express some concern that there could…read more

Lone Literary Geek Decides to Hate Sloane Crosley

Posted by in April Fool

As reported this morning by Slunch, it has become almost impossible to hate Sloane Crosley. Until now. Josie Harris, a 34-year-old paralegal, has decided enough is enough, and has decided to commit her energies to hating Sloane Crosley. “There is nobody in the literary world I despise more than Sloane,” said Harris. “Nobody can be that fucking nice all the time.” What’s considerably astonishing is that Harris came out as a Crosley hater despite being on a considerable daily regiment of antidepressants. But is Harris simply being contrarian? “No. I…read more

Michael Bay and Bruce Willis On Board for Flann O’Brien Film Adaptation

Posted by in April Fool

Hack Hollywood director Michael Bay informed friends and colleagues that he was “sick to death” of turning out crappy films and announced that his next project would be a film adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds, mainly because, as Bay put it, “the Lost writers may be onto something with this fucking literary trend.” Bruce Willis is now in talks to portray the book’s main character: a college student who writes a novel and spends time shooting the shit with his pals. Some O’Brien enthusiasts have expressed reservations about casting…read more

Border Protection to Ban All Foreign Writers from Entering States

Posted by in April Fool

US Customs and Border Protection, galvanized by their successful efforts to prevent Sebastian Horsley from entering the United States, have decided to take things further in an effort to protect America from itself. Starting on January 1, 2009, all writers who look or sound even remotely foreign — and that includes those pesky Canucks who don’t know how to pronounce “about” correctly — will be prevented from entering the American homeland. “Frankly, these foreign writers all sound a little faggy,” said Cletus Dorrell, a 44-year-old director who rose up the…read more

“Pretentious Literary Fiction” To Get New Section in Bookstores

Posted by in April Fool

This morning, booksellers finally figured out what to do about the massive influx of pretentious literary fiction that has taken over the “Fiction” section in bookstores. Starting next month, “Pretentious Literary Fiction” will get its own section in bookstores, in an effort to hinder confusion for today’s customers. Nearly all books published by Ecco would be part of this new reorganization. “It was really getting out of control,” said Thelma Rhustein, manager of a Barnes & Noble in Peroia, Illinois. “These New York people actually believed that these mutant books…read more

Orange Unveils Male-Only Banana Prize

Posted by in April Fool

In response to recent criticisms from A.S. Byatt, the Orange Broadband Prize announced that it would begin handing out an all-new male-only prize called the Banana Prize, which will hand out awards to male-only writers. Prizes would be awarded to “red-blooded tales” that celebrate masculinity, male swagger, and sexist offerings in contemporary fiction. “We had hoped to offset the literary world’s tendency to give too many male writers money,” said project director Harriet Hastings. “We were wrong. And we wanted to send a message. We like cocks too.” The future…read more

William Vollmann Turns In Uncharacteristically Slim Children’s Book

Posted by in April Fool

National Book Award-winning writer William T. Vollmann stunned the Penguin offices when he submitted a 22-page children’s book to Viking editor Paul Slovak this morning. “It’s the shortest manuscript I’ve ever seen from Bill,” said Slovak, who also told reporters that editing this “would be a breeze.” The book, entitled Shooting Guns at the Gnus, is also illustrated by Vollmann. Vollmann hoped that the book would encourage young children to start firing guns early, so that they could get a sense of “what it means to be free” at a…read more

Neal Pollack to Write Dad Essays Until the End of Time

Posted by in April Fool

Writer Neal Pollack, who found considerable success with his book, Alternadad, has decided to write nothing other than father-related essays through the end of his natural life. “They keep paying me for this,” said Pollack. “So why spoil a good thing?” It was previously thought that the demand for dad essays would run out sometime last year. But like the Hubbert peak theory, nobody really knows when it will happen. The news came as James Howard Kuntsler announced that he was beginning work on a new polemical book called The…read more

Litbloggers Agree That Blogging “Takes Too Much Time”

Posted by in April Fool

Hot on the heels of the Litblog Co-Op’s disbandment, litbloggers decided to combine their collective malaise and stop blogging.’s Gary Hesmith was the man who came up with the idea after experiencing peer pressure shortly after reading Remainder, which other litbloggers had gone crazy over. “I just wanted to type ‘Tom McCarthy is cool’ into Typepad, and even that sentence seemed too much time for me to commit to.” Many litbloggers who stopped blogging had long wondered when the money would start showing up. They had remembered the magical…read more

Rachel Donadio Continues Transformation Into Younger and Stupider Curtis Sittenfeld

Posted by in April Fool

This Sunday, Rachel Donadio continued her regrettable declivity into the morass of embarrassing personal essays — the kind of writing once penned by Curtis Sittenfeld, before Sittenfeld wised up and stopped writing for the New York Times Book Review for good. But this has not prevented literary experts from asking why Donadio, who is in her mid-thirties and really should know better, would bang out such remarkably judgmental tripe. (Sittenfeld was 31 when she wrote her essays.) There is a sad but certain answer. Hard-pressed to answer this question, this…read more