Reluctant Habits

Technical Difficulties

Posted by in Technical

The LCD inverter board on my laptop is dead. I am in the middle of nowhere and cannot find a replacement. Not at Fry’s. Not anywhere. Efforts are still being made to find a replacement part, but I have learned that inverter boards are generally ordered through mail. What this means is that I’m more or less out of commission until Tuesday. So blog updates and emails replies will happen sometime next week. Bear with me.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by in Holidays

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Terrorist Attacks in India

Posted by in Terrorism

Forget the tomfoolery. Some serious news in India (live stream). 80 dead in Mumbai, hundreds injured. NDTV: “A Briton who escaped the terrorist attack at the five-star Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai Wednesday night said the attackers specifically asked for American and British tourists.” Bloomberg reports that “as many as 80 people were killed and 240 injured in India’s financial hub of Mumbai as gunmen armed with rifles and grenades raided five-star hotels in the country’s first terrorist attack targeting foreigners.” Reuters: “The chief minister of Maharashtra state said on Thursday…read more

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To Stuff a Turkey

Posted by in Holidays

Their gaunt faces continue to suggest that our days may indeed be numbered. They do not speak, but they make deranged cooing sounds. I have taught one of the gnomes a few card tricks, and he has demonstrated these skills to his brethren. So the gnomes have momentarily put away their bloody cleavers. Sometimes, we hear laughter in the dead of night. The bargain is this: Things will remain comfortable for us, provided that (a) I prepare the turkey this year (a first for me) and (b) I continue to…read more

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Roundup from Another Location

Posted by in Roundup

We are not in New York. Our gaunt hosts have sallow eyes, aquiline noses, and have muttered some nonsense in Gaelic. I heard one of the footmen mutter the words “kill humanity.” So far, they have only asked us for three pints of blood. The damp stone steps wind downward into a cool cave, with a small gust of stale air providing ventilation from a crenelated crack. We have been informed that various guests have been sacrificed over the past few centuries, but we have reason to believe that we…read more

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The Bat Segundo Show: Christopher Plummer

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Film, Theater

Christopher Plummer appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #253. Mr. Plummer is the author of In Spite of Myself. He is also a highly talented and very distinguished actor. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Fleeing from Mr. Plummer’s considerable achievements. Author: Christopher Plummer Subjects Discussed: The roles that get Mr. Plummer the best seats at a restaurant, Lillian Hellman’s control over director Joseph Anthony during The Lark, whether or not playwrights understand the interpretation of their work, Death of a Salesman, Elia Kazan, the notion of Hamlet as an Everyman, Shakespearean…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: 2008 National Book Awards

Posted by in Bat Segundo, National Book Awards

Our reports from the National Book Awards previously appeared in piecemeal on these pages, and have also appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #252. So far as we know, the National Book Awards has not authored anything aside from programs and informational pamphlets. The people that Our Young, Roving Correspondent talked with on that fateful night, however, have authored a few books. Or at least, this is what they have told us. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Deeply suspicious of Harold Augenbraum. Authors: Joan Wickersham, Annette Gordon-Reed, Salvatore Scibona, Mark Doty,…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Alex Beckstead

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Bookstores

Alex Beckstead appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #251. Mr. Beckstead is the filmmaker behind Paperback Dreams, a documentary on independent bookstores. The documentary is now touring around the nation and is making appearances on PBS. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Surrendering to hard-boiled journalists. Guest: Alex Beckstead Subjects Discussed: Why Beckstead singled out Cody’s and Kepler’s over other Bay Area bookstores, Kepler’s as a prominent fixture on the Menlo Park town square, the Cody’s “hail Mary” play in San Francisco, business location problems in Union Square, the commercial viability of…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Alison Bechdel II

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Comics

Alison Bechdel recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #250. Ms. Bechdel is most recently the author of The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. To listen to our previous interview with Ms. Bechdel, check out The Bat Segundo Show #63. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Overly concerned with modifiers attached to artists. Author: Alison Bechdel Subjects Discussed: The relationship between visual developments and storyline developments, how personal developments worked their way into Dykes to Watch Out For, Tips o’ the Nib, narrative authenticity, research through asking people, being afraid of…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Porochista Khakpour

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Porochista Khakpour recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #249. Ms. Khakpour is the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Avoiding the seemingly erudite man with the flamethrower. Author: Porochista Khakpour Subjects Discussed: Professional doodling, italics that represent facial expressions, acting out dialogue, the protracted difficulties of editing, the creative benefits of neurosis, thinking of an audience vs. writing in a distinct voice, maintaining lists of words, bulleted lists within the novel, the relationship between the equal sign and character consciousness, writing lengthy scenes that…read more

The Stuff That Love Is Made Of

Posted by in Animals, Love

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Attorney General Mukasey Collapses

Posted by in mukasey-michael, Politics

Tonight, while delivering a speech at a Washington hotel, Attorney General Michael Mukasey began slurring his words and lost consciousness. He collapsed and was rushed off to George Washington University Hospital. Mukasey’s Wikipedia page has been undergoing numerous revisions, with versions of the page claiming that Mukasey is dead. But there isn’t any hard or credible information to suggest that Mukasey has passed away. If there is any reliable information to report, I will update this post.

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Billy Joel: “Fuck You”

Posted by in joel-billy, Music

A few days ago, I openly pondered why Billy Joel’s “A Matter of Trust” was released to the airwaves. I vowed to track down the people responsible, but, frankly, I forgot about the issue altogether. But tonight, Billy Joel responded from Australia (where he is now preparing for a few tour dates) through one of his Robert Burns LLC email accounts with the following comment: Here’s my ‘ouvre’ – Fuck You. Sincerely, Billy Joel Presumably, the jet lag that Mr. Joel was suffering from caused him to misspell “oeuvre.” Or…read more

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Fiction Award

Posted by in National Book Awards

And the winner is Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country. An interminable preliminary speech from Gail Godwin….. And then…. Matthiessen’s speech: He’s smiling as he walks up the stage, holding up his award, looking at Gail, and then addressing the audience. “Well, needless to say, I’m very happy and honored to have this National Book Award.” He did not prepare a speech. Thanks thanks thanks. “I’ve had a hard time over the years persuading people that fiction was my natural thing, not nonfiction.” Bringing up Viking, being sued by the FBI. “I…read more

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Nonfiction Award

Posted by in National Book Awards

And the winner is Annette Gordon Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello. Reed’s speech: Tonight is actually her birthday. She lived too much in the 18th century. Thanks to Robert Wile (editor at Norton). Couldn’t stop researching and had to write. “I can’t say what a wonderful November this has been.” “We’re on a great journey now and I look forward to the years to come.”

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Poetry Award

Posted by in National Book Awards

And the winner is Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire. Doty’s speech: “Robert is right. This is really good baloney.” Very nervous. “I am glad to be alive in a time when poems like [my finalists] are written.” Shoutout to Terry, editor at HarperCollins. Shoutout to the late Robert Jones, who brought Doty to Harper. Recently married his partner. “It is very plain that we are on the path to equality for all Americans, and that nothing is going to turn us back.”

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Young People’s Literature Award

Posted by in National Book Awards

And the winner is Judy Blundell’s What I Saw and How I Lied. Blundell’s speech: Always a bad idea to follow Daniel Handler. “Most of you don’t know me, but I’ve probably worked for many of the houses in this room tonight.” “This is the first book I put my name on. When I started in publishing, I was a hapless and very underconfident person. Not much has changed, but I went in the back door of publishing as a writer for hire.” She worked in genre joyfully, because she…read more

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How Much Was “Housekeeping” Edited?

Posted by in National Book Awards

While wandering around the ballroom in search of quotes (and observing Leon Neyfakh’s fine method of collecting quotes from people while standing near the restrooms), I ran into Pat Strachan, who had edited Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. I remain convinced that Robinson can win tonight. But Strachan expressed a few doubts. In fact, a number of people I’ve talked with tonight seem to doubt that Robinson can win. Of course, we’ll know soon enough in the next hour. In any event, being a bit of a Robinson geek, I had to…read more

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2008 National Book Awards Podcast #6: Richard Howard

Posted by in National Book Awards

(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Richard Howard What’s Going On? In a noisy tableau, our young, roving correspondent hopes to get some answers about the craft of poetry from Richard Howard. National Book Awards Podcast #6: Richard Howard (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

Spouse of a Nominee

Posted by in National Book Awards

Outside the ballroom. “Are you nervous?” “Actually, I’m here because of my wife.” “Moral support then?” “You could call it that.” “Was it a big surprise for her to be nominated?” “Well, actually she had the support of many librarians.” “So she expected it.” “It was an honor for her to be nominated.” “And how about you? Are you holding up okay?” “It’s getting cold. I have to go back inside.”

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2008 National Book Awards Podcast #5: Candace Bushnell

Posted by in National Book Awards

(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Candace Bushnell What’s Going On? Attempting to ascertain precisely why Ms. Bushnell is here, but she is more fond of thanking your young, roving correspondent, rather than answering his questions. National Book Awards Podcast #5: Candace Bushnell (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #4: Mark Doty

Posted by in National Book Awards, Poetry

(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Mark Doty What’s Going On? So here’s the deal. Mr. Doty here has arranged a considerable amount of poetry together. But have you ever stopped to consider just how it was put together. Furthermore, there is a good deal of talk here about Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, and the degree to which poets should revere Mr. Whitman. Mr. Doty was a good sport during this interview, and…read more

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #3: Salvatore Scibona

Posted by in National Book Awards

(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Salvatore Scibona What’s Going On? Talk of writing novels over the course of ten years, the advantages of writing on typewriters, and other tomfoolery. National Book Awards Podcast #3: Salvatore Scibona (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #2: Annette Gordon Reed

Posted by in National Book Awards

(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Annette Gordon Reed What’s Going On? Talk about the Hemmings. National Book Awards Podcast #2: Annette Gordon Reed (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #1: Joan Wickersham

Posted by in National Book Awards

(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Joan Wickersham What’s Going On? Talk about Wickersham’s book, The Suicide Index, and how disorderly emotions can’t always be arranged in an orderly manner. National Book Awards Podcast #1: Joan Wickersham (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

National Book Awards Dispatch #1

Posted by in National Book Awards

I am now situated in the press section of the Cipriani Ballroom. Galleycat’s Jason Boog is here, and we are urging him to get his journalistic party started. There are numerous round tables, which one expects from a ballroom, and plentiful waiters ready to kick some culinary ass. But we have not yet located any authors. It is still early. Harold Augenbraum did not recognize me — presumably because I spent a portion of the afternoon with a pair of clippers. There are two friendly reporters here from Publishers Weekly:…read more

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National Book Awards Podcasts

Posted by in National Book Awards

Name That Tune!

Posted by in Music

Not long ago, I listened to a remarkably wretched piece of music, perhaps dating from the late 1980s, while waiting for someone. Now I had not heard this song for a number of years. It was sung by a needlessly husky New Age-like Michael McDonald-sounding singer. Perhaps it was McDonald for all I knew. The song was certainly written and recorded with the intention of being played all the time on easy listening radio. Days later, the manufactured melody has become a dreaded earworm. What is most curious about this…read more

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Again, the National Book Awards

Posted by in National Book Awards

During the past two days, there have been sparse entries on these pages. There are reasons for this: a few deadlines met, a few interviews conducted (one very journalistic, the other involving two people with funny brains approaching strange nexuses, or, nexii, as the interviewee playfully insisted on), some quiet stabs at the enormous humanistic thing that I am trying to finish before January 20th, and serious and constructive thinking about this website’s future aligned with the dawning reality that newspapers and magazines are dying, as jobs also fall off…read more

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Bike Hero

Posted by in Video Games

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