Reluctant Habits

Young Hillary

Posted by in 2008 Election, Cllinton, Hilary

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The Been Caught Stealin’ Wi-Fi Roundup

Posted by in Roundup, Uncategorized

Thanks to some technical trickery, I am now stealing wi-fi on my relocated desktop computer. This casual pilfering should last only a few days, and I have tried to keep this bandwidth theft to a minimum. Which means that email is spotty these days. (I should also point out that I am not really answering email because of this thing called settling in.) But now that we’re all here (or, rather, some of us are here; many are at BEA), let’s get down to business. Here is what I am…read more

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Amateur Hour at Studio 360

Posted by in Andersen, Kurt, Ellison, Harlan, Radio

Kurt Andersen has offered the uncut version of his conversation with Harlan Ellison. But what is particularly astonishing is just how much of an ignoramus Andersen comes across as. He constantly interrupts Ellison. At around the 26:30 mark, Andersen cannot get Dreams with Sharp Teeth director Erik Nelson’s name right and must utter the intro again. An embarrassing suggestion that Ellison wrote “Paladin of the Lost Hour” for the original Twilight Zone is there. In short, Studio 360 is a program that is made almost entirely in the editing room…read more

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Instinct is a Remarkable Thing

Posted by in Uncategorized

Some fascinating reading in the meantime: the adaptive social behavior of stray dogs in Moscow. As the economy and social makeup of Moscow has changed, the dogs’ behavior has changed. (via MeFi)

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Pardon the Absence

Posted by in Uncategorized

Currently negotiating a shaky wi-fi signal, but stage one of the move (i.e., the shifting of possessions) is complete. More to come!

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Adieu Apartment

Posted by in Moving

And so we come to the final blog post I shall write in this apartment. As others nimbly perambulate through airport security gates, their rucksacks and tote bags brimming with books to read on the six hour flight to Los Angeles for the annual cacophony to score galleys and gratis cocktails, I shall be driving a van in New York, negotiating the BQE and doing my best to remember that you can’t make a right turn on red. The desk is half-disassembled. Twenty boxes of stuff reside in the other…read more

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Joseph Minion Plagiarized Joe Frank

Posted by in Film, frank-joe, minion-joseph, Plagiarism

After Hours is perhaps my favorite Scorsese film. I am also a big Joe Frank fan. So it was considerably astonishing to learn that screenwriter Joseph Minion appears to have pilfered a Frank monologue for the first 30 minutes of the film. The details are, in many cases, taken astonishingly verbatim. In a March 2000 interview, Frank was apparently “paid handsomely by producers of a Hollywood film (which he won’t name) that plagiarized his dialogue.” (via Fimoculous) [ALSO: Minion also plagiarized “Before the Law” from Kafka’s The Castle for this…read more

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Jeffrey Jones + Bad Makeup = Grade Z Classic

Posted by in Film

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The NAFTA Superhighway: Credible or Conspiracy Theory?

Posted by in NAFTA, superhighway

The Nation (2007): “It would be a heartening story but for one small detail. There’s no such thing as a proposed NAFTA Superhighway.”

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Dave Sim: The Stalin of Comics

Posted by in Comics, Misogyny, Sexism, sim-dave

In case you haven’t heard the news, the once great Dave Sim has demanded that anyone who corresponds with him must pledge that Sim isn’t a misogynist. The whole business has erupted into a sad and terrible train wreck in which Sim has nearly alienated his friend Chester Brown and spurned long-time fans. And it’s all because Sim doesn’t appear to be acquainted with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions…read more

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Solving the Literary Critical Crisis

Posted by in Literary Criticism, miller-laura

Nigel Beale points to some startlingly reactionary remarks from Salon’s “Internet Killed the Critical Star” article. Now that I’ve read this “discussion” a second time, Nigel is right. Why would anyone go to the trouble of reading a literary critic if there is “no intention of ever opening books they tout?” Is Miller really so recalcitrant a reader that she’s incapable of picking up a book that James Wood has liked and deciding for herself whether it’s any good? Is she seriously suggesting that there isn’t a single work of…read more

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Roundup

Posted by in Roundup, Uncategorized

First, R. McCrum was against blogs. And now he’s for them. Or was he for them before he was against them? Or was he against them before being for them before being hopelessly confused? There seems to be a common trait among those who rail against litblogs without providing sufficient examples: schizophrenia. (via Jeff) It seems I’m not the only person having strange moving-related conversations. Last night, I spent fifteen minutes talking with a stray dust jacket. It did not respond back. This is most certainly a sign that I…read more

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RIP Sydney Pollack

Posted by in Film, Obits

I have long been baffled by the suggestion put forth by hip film folk that Tootsie is an “overrated” picture. The film may not be on the level of Some Like It Hot, but it is nonetheless the kind of elaborate comedic farce, a natural descendant of Lubitsch, that nobody makes anymore. It is funny, immensely subtle, and full of wonderful performances (well, save Jessica Lange, a one-note performance that arose from a one-note character). It is a rare film in which the side characters are just as essential as…read more

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Literary Skeleton Crew

Posted by in Language, Moving

There remain four books in the old apartment: Iain M. Banks’s Excession (which I am currently reading), Steven Gillis’s Temporary People (which I hope to get around to reading quite soon!), a galley of The Letters of Allen Ginsberg (which I hope to read after all the other books I have to read, which are now sitting in the new apartment), and my trusted Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. There are a handful of oversized volumes now in boxes, but I choose to leave these contents alone. Cardboard bottles for…read more

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Life is an Occupation

Posted by in ebert-roger, life

Roger Ebert on Studs Turkel: “The lesson Studs has taught me is that your life is over when you stop living it. If you can truly ‘retire,’ you had a job, but not an occupation. Observing people like Studs and the author Paul Theroux, and the great sports writer William Nack, and directors like Robert Altman and Sidney Lumet, I have seen those whose lifelong occupations absorb them, and who are not merely maintaining, but growing. How astonishing it was to learn that Altman made great films after having a…read more

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Happy Memorial Day

Posted by in Uncategorized

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Roundup

Posted by in Roundup

I’ve been reading a lot of Iain Banks of late. And I haven’t had this much fun reading in a while. Anyone who can write the sentence, “What the crushingly powerful four-limbed hug would have done to a human unprotected by a suit designed to withstand pressures comparable to those found at the bottom of an ocean probably did not bear thinking about, but then a human exposed without protection to the conditions required to support Affronter life would be dying in at least three excitingly different and painful ways…read more

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RIP Dick Martin

Posted by in Obits

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Contents of Box

Posted by in Moving, Personal

A yellow legal-sized writing pad containing mysterious ideas and plans. An issue of Mike Hampton’s Hot Zombie Chicks. Minidisc case reading “Babbling — Raw #7. Also, The Babbling Project #1.” (No minidisc.) Minidisc case reading “1. Babble 2 6/6/00.” (No minidisc.) Mindisc (with case) reading “Babbling #8.” Y adapter for telephone line. Minidisc case — scratched and unmarked. (No minidisc.) Floppy disk with label scratching out Intellipoint driver, reading “ME — Startup.” Floppy disk (unmarked, unlabeled). Various audiocassettes from November 2004 containing interviews that I conducted to research a still…read more

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Ancient Job Evaluation Report

Posted by in Personal

Employee: Ed Champion Strong Points Flexible with hours and volunteers for evening and daytime overtime when available Recently demonstrated a willingness to help others in the office Willing to take criticism and improve Knows WP and Excel well Tasks are completed timely Good at staying in contact with attorneys Points for Improvement Interactions with some people are defensive and prickly; needs to work on improving working relationships Pay better attention to detail, proofread work, do filing promptly Prioritize and delegate when appropriate Needs to focus on ______ work between 9…read more

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The Summer Digitalization Project

Posted by in Summer Digitalization

While moving, I located an astonishing number of videotapes and audiotapes entailing both film and journalistic work that I did in the 1990s — some of which I had completely forgotten about, some of which I never got around to turning into profile pieces. Since many of these tapes are just on the cusp of deterioration, my current plan is to convert everything I can to digital. Interviews that I conducted in the ’90′s will be converted into future Segundo podcasts. And films that I made as a younger and…read more

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Message Back to R. McCrum: We’ll Keep on Bloggin’

Posted by in Blogging, Uncategorized

Syntax of Things: “Did I miss the seminar or not read the pamphlet that listed the qualifications of responsible book reviewing? Damn, I’ll have to Google around for it. Then again, it could be that it’s written in invisible ink on the back of the hand that feeds everyone this crap and calls it a gourmet meal. Highly responsible for what? Here at Syntax of Things, we are highly responsible and possibly, in the eyes of outgoing literary editors for major newspapers, highly contemptible for reading books published by a…read more

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The Real Mathematical Question is How They Nabbed That Secluded Picnic Spot

Posted by in Mathematics

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Counterprogramming

Posted by in Personal

Everybody has strange feelings in their early twenties. It’s a time in which you really don’t know a damn thing and, in trying to figure out who you are, you end up wandering down many solipsistic avenues, thinking that you’re sure one thing is going to work out and not knowing that something entirely unexpected will find you. Confused by these feelings, you think that other people (a loved one, for example) will somehow help you find your way. But the answer lies in being true to yourself so that…read more

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Character Assassination

Posted by in 2008 Election, Cllinton, Hilary, olbermann-keith

I thought Hillary Clinton’s comparison about Obama and the Bobby Kennedy assassination was very foolish and disrespectful, but this Keith Olbermann response is ridiculously histrionic. Even by Olbermann standards. If one is to impugn Hillary, and there are many good reasons to, it should be for more substantive reasons than three sentences. Or is Western culture now in the habit of taking down a public figure based on a mere snippet? An individual is more complex than a few sentences. To judge a person entirely on a sentence is just…read more

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Spot the YouTube References

Posted by in Music, YouTube

See also Barenaked Ladies’s “Sound of Your Voice,” which also featured a number of YouTube celebrities. The upshot is that YouTube now matters so much to major recording artists that they are willing to employ online stalwarts for artistic and marketing purposes.

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The New Guy at Random House

Posted by in Asher, Martin, Bertelsmann, dohle-markus, olson-peter, Publishing, Random House

Peter Olson’s surprise resignation as CEO has caused several to wonder what effect this will have on Random House. Publishing News reports that Markus Dohle (hereinafter referred to as “The New Guy”) won’t be hindering the present autonomy and independence of the imprint. The Observer‘s Leon Neyfakh pointed out a few days ago that the key modifier used in relation to The New Guy is “entrepreneurial.” Also interesting is The New Guy’s determination to strengthen the publisher’s defenses against the “might of the retail chains.” One detects more than the…read more

Same Mailing Address

Posted by in Uncategorized

There have been a number of emails from people asking whether the mailing address has changed because of the move. This is not the case! You can still ship sundry propaganda to: 315 Flatbush Avenue, #231 Brooklyn, NY 11217

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RIP Robert Aspirin

Posted by in Obits

Robert Aspirin is dead. He was 61. His passing greatly saddens me. I read nearly all of the Myth Adventures books as a teenager, enjoying the way that Aspirin had transposed the Hope-Crosby Road movies over to fantasy. He wasn’t the greatest writer in the world. But I was very fond of his books, which were extremely enjoyable. As the Myth Adventures books carried on, at times, Aspirin perhaps had more characters and dimensions in his universe than he could possibly manage. But he always had a cheesy joke or…read more

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Roundup

Posted by in Roundup, Uncategorized

While I must confess that there was a minor impulse to satirize the sad, icky, and delusional article that is currently making the rounds and sullying the New York Times‘s credibility, I think I’ll simply stay silent on the matter. I urge all parties to do the same. This was a calculated and desperate effort from the Gray Lady to get you to link to the piece, comment upon the piece, eviscerate the author’s reputation, and otherwise drive traffic their way. If there’s one thing New York media welcomes, it’s…read more

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