Reluctant Habits

Review: Crossing Over (2009)

Posted by in Film

Wayne Kramer has made two exceptional motion pictures. The Cooler presented us with the wild premise of a pathetic loser played by William H. Macy whose temperament was particularly suited to “cooling” the luck of gamblers at a casino operated by Alec Baldwin. It needs no further encomia from me, but it’s certainly worth seeing. 2006′s Running Scared was a giddy, unapologetically caffeinated action flick that presented creepy child pornographers and a crazy climactic battle on a hockey rink. It was the kind of fun and scruffy and overexcited movie…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Charlie Huston II

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Charlie Huston appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #267. Charlie Huston is most recently the author of The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death. To listen to our previous interview with Mr. Huston, check out The Bat Segundo Show #98. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Looking for an efficient and affordable cleanup service. Author: Charlie Huston Subjects Discussed: Huston’s concern for locative detail, unusual sentence structures, sequential details within sentences, the run-on sentence in relation to narrative action, the burdens of writing novels quickly, rhythm and alternating sentences, whether…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Catherynne M. Valente

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Catherynne M. Valente appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #266. Catherynne M. Valente is most recently the author of Palimpsest. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Looking for a way into a secret city. Author: Catherynne M. Valente Subjects Discussed: Writing a novel with four character perspectives, how structure influences perspective, the importance of numbers, color theory, thriving on restriction, Neal Stephenson, the importance of flow and reading out loud, Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves, synesthesia, the purpose of puns, being a child of the Internet generation, Italo Calvino and the literature…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Posted by in Astronomy, Bat Segundo, Science

Neil deGrasse Tyson appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #265. Neil deGrasse Tyson is most recently the author of The Pluto Files. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Reconfiguring his planetary paradigm, with the aid of minatory electrodes. Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson Subjects Discussed: The Great Planet Debate, sensible classification systems, “reorganizing” the solar system, why the International Astronomical Union wasn’t approached before the Rose Center display was established, the usefulness of the word “planet,” playing 20 Questions to gain insight into what Tyson talks about, Copernicus, acceptable groupings, quibbles with the…read more

Another New Review

Posted by in Reviews

There’s a lot of fresh content that will be unloaded onto these pages over the course of the day, including three podcasts and a film review. But while you’re waiting on all this, you can find my review of Christopher Moore’s Fool in today’s Barnes and Noble Review. About a month ago, this assignment caused me to delve into any number of King Lear adaptations and reworkings, getting in touch with a rather obsessive interest of mine that I’ve kept quiet about (for reasons cited in the review). And while…read more

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New Review

Posted by in Reviews

A new issue of h+ Magazine has left the building. The quarterly magazine, edited by the incomparable R.U. Sirius, features contributions from the likes of Alex Lightman, Douglas Rushkoff, Tara E. Hunt, John Shirley, and yours truly. (You can find my unusual comparative review of Mac Montandon’s Jetpack Dreams and Brian Rafferty’s Don’t Stop Believin’ on Page 67.)

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Amazon Profiting Incommensurately Off Bloggers?

Posted by in Amazon, Blogging, Kindle

As I pointed out more than a year ago, Amazon has been offering monthly blog subscriptions to Kindle readers, but, in some cases, it hasn’t been paying the bloggers a reasonable cut of the revenue. And as my investigation revealed, in some cases, Amazon didn’t even bother to ask permission from the bloggers. While the monthly subscription cost has gone down to 99 cents per month, as Rebecca Skloot discovered on Twitter this afternoon, Maud Newton’s site is now for sale on the Kindle. (Maud has since revealed that a…read more

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Success

Posted by in Success

Now imagine living a life, like Elizabeth Gilbert, in which you’re convinced that your greatest success is behind you. That seems to me a boring and not particularly ebullient existence: you’re holding onto a trajectory in which you’ve done the best you can and there isn’t anything better that you can do. You’ve hit the big time, and that’s it! Finito! It’s all downhill from here! But at least some elitist organization meeting out in the middle of nowhere will pay you a good sum of money to speak to…read more

The Publishing Industry: An Economic Thought Experiment

Posted by in Board Games, Comics, DRM, Economics, Publishing Industry, Video Games

Case Study 1: During Presidents Day Weekend, the software company Valve tried out an experiment. Valve, the company behind the successful Half-Life franchise, temporarily halved the price for Left 4 Dead, a cooperative first-person shooter title, from $49.99 to $24.99, over the course of a few days through its centralized Steam client. The results exceeded Valve’s wildest expectations. Sales rose 3,000 percent, and the revenue generated over the weekend dwarfed the game’s sales during its launch. By temporarily offering the game at a price point that was affordable to everybody,…read more

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The Appeal of Babbington

Posted by in Kraft, Eric

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It’s the Content, Stupid

Posted by in Book Reviewing

Dick Meyer’s sad, little article about the impending death of newspapers fails to pinpoint several root causes. The end of stand-alone book review sections may strike a symbolic blow to those, like Meyer, who remain blissfully terrified of the present. But if the coverage still remains available and accessible, how then can this be a blow to literacy, wisdom, and intellectual agility? The coverage, as has been repeatedly documented, isn’t going away. It’s just going online and finding its way into other sections of the print newspaper. Meyer’s uninformed position…read more

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The Occupational Hazards of Book Critics

Posted by in Book Reviewing

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The Future of the Ebook

Posted by in Animation

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Meaningless Infograph #2

Posted by in Infographs

This above graph continues our very important series, Meaningless Infographs, in which various infographs, often of a personal nature, are presented to the public in an effort to demonstrate that blogs can present just as much meaningless data as newspapers. Now here we have an infograph with some very disturbing information. On February 16, 2009, the subject stayed inside most of the day. He had work to do. We can aver that the two boobs he noticed were likely someone close to him and permit other scientists to draw their…read more

Meaningless Infograph #1

Posted by in Infographs

In an effort to keep things somewhat unpredictable, I will be juxtaposing meaningless infographs — most of them of a personal nature — at random intervals on this website. Since other newspapers seem needlessly fond of meaningless infographs and these newspapers continue to view blogs as threats to their business models, it makes sense for blogs to begin inserting meaningless infographs on their pages. In this way, the newspapers and the blogs can work together to saturate the media landscape with meaningless data, rather than information that minds can masticate…read more

New Review: George Friedman’s THE NEXT 100 YEARS

Posted by in Reviews

Well, the Gerald Celente post continues to draw plenty of haters to this site. And that’s fine. Because everybody needs a hobby. But I’m pleased to report that I’ve taken on another dubious futurist in the fine pages of the San Francisco Chronicle. I had truly hoped for more from the book. I have a soft spot for futurists and I always start reading a book hoping for the best. But, alas, it proved to be grand bunk. Today, if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can pick…read more

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Roundtable Discussion: Eric Kraft’s FLYING

Posted by in Kraft, Eric, Roundtable

Beginning on March 2, 2009, this website will be kickstarting a lengthy roundtable discussion of Eric Kraft’s Flying over the course of the week. (For those hoping to follow along with the discussion, this is the same week that the book comes out.) Who is Eric Kraft? Well, as I learned when enlisting roundtable participants, a lot of people aren’t all that aware of him. In fact, I only found out about the guy by accident about a decade ago, when I stumbled upon a series of paperbacks labeled The…read more

I’m Done With Facebook

Posted by in Facebook

It was bad enough with all the apps and the winks and the intrusive nonsense that greeted you every time you logged on, but this was the last straw. Facebook, showing how smug and contemptuous they are of community, now wants to seize the rights of anything you create and happen to distribute through their networks, by changing the Terms of Service to suit their avaricious purposes. I never agreed to these Terms of Service, and chances are that neither did you. For the record, I sure as hell do…read more

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Tools of Change 2009 — Kevin Smokler

Posted by in tools of change

There will be one last (and extremely lengthy) post that will attempt to corral all of my remaining notes concerning Tools of Change, which will include the above panel that Kevin moderated.

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Review: Friday the 13th (2009)

Posted by in Film

Why in the hell would anyone want to see a reboot of Friday the 13th? Well, the killings, of course. Jason has such a physics-defying command of the machete that he can stab the top of a woman’s skull through the floorboards of a dock, pull the woman up with the machete so that the camera can conveniently film her tits, and then plunge her back into Crystal Lake. I’m surprised that Jason never made an appearance on Letterman’s Stupid Human Tricks or Playboy After Dark. Over nearly three decades,…read more

Tools of Change 2009 — Plastic Logic

Posted by in tools of change

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A Brief Interregnum from Arnie the English Bulldog

Posted by in Dogs

While the proprietor attempts to come to terms with the many emails that poured in over the last several days, the considerable notes he took for several TOC panels, the video footage he has to put together and get on YouTube, and the rather insane obligations he has going on during the next few days, the proprietor interrupts the scheduled program to present a photo of Arnie the English Bulldog, which should tug gruffly at heart strings and serve as an interregnum to the considerable e-chatter about ebooks that has…read more

Tools of Change: Nick Bilton

Posted by in tools of change

The New York Times may very well be the only newspaper that has an R&D Lab. And as Nick Bilton boasted on Wednesday morning at a keynote address, there don’t appear to be any publishers with an R&D lab either. Bilton had called about ten publishers “just for fun” to see if any of them had an R&D department. The receptionists were baffled. But what Mr. Bilton may not understand — particularly in this publishing environment in which ebooks again represent less than 1% of the market — is that…read more

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Tools of Change: Smart Women Read Ebooks

Posted by in tools of change

Panelists: Kassia Kroszer (moderator), Angela James, Malle Valik, Sarah Wendell (For related coverage, you can check out my video interview with Wendell shortly after the panel.) So if you’ve been following these lengthy reports, you’ve probably developed a sense that there is a profound disconnect between the geeks who develop the technology and the readers who imbibe it. Jon Orwant may have talked with readers during his magazine editing days, but is he really doing this to the greatest possible extent now? Do web stats and trends of the moment…read more

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Tools of Change: The Rise of Ebooks

Posted by in tools of change, Uncategorized

Panelists: Mark Coker (moderator), Joe Wikert, April Hamilton, David Rothman, Russell Wilcox If I had to compare Tuesday’s panel with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, I would say this. Claire Danes was superior to April Hamilton. Russ Wilcox, a rather cocky gentleman who spoke like some snobby Yale know-it-all with his head held high and dashed off a number of wild and extravagant and unprovable claims, would be comparable to Nick Stahl. The difference is that Wilcox isn’t living off the grid. Indeed, despite the technological benefits of his…read more

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Tools of Change 2009: Sarah Wendell

Posted by in tools of change

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Tools of Change: Jon Orwant

Posted by in Google, tools of change

Jon Orwant is a highly confident man. Some might say (and a few certainly did to me) that he is one of the great egotists of our epoch. By his own admission, he is certainly not an amateur. But then when you’re the Engineering Manager for the world’s biggest search engine, and you’re white, and you’re rich, and you’re male, and you’re at a conference with an egregious gender divide in place, and the likes of Tim O’Reilly and Cory Doctorow are there trying to throw a few jabs and…read more

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Tools of Change: Bob Stein & Peter Brantley

Posted by in Reading, tools of change

The morning started off with Bob Stein, founder and co-director of The Institute for the Future of the Book. It’s worth pointing out that for thirteen years, Stein worked for The Criterion Company, which he founded. Stein observed that he had always viewed the Criterion discs as items that he published and that this notion of “publishing” arose from a then groundbreaking video in 1980 that depicted the moving image with text on a screen. In Stein’s view, there was a McLuhan-like distinction to be made between user-driven media (books)…read more

Tools of Change: Initial Report

Posted by in Uncategorized

During a morning in which news of layoffs at HarperCollins and the future of BookExpo America was severely reduced in time and topography, here at the Marriott Marquis, Tools of Change rolled on. I appear to be the only guy here wearing a T-shirt, but not the only one nursing a hangover. I’ll have some reports of the panels later in the afternoon. But I can report that the crowds here are largely male, that the recent publishing news has left those attending this conference with their hopes somewhat crestfallen,…read more

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“Now I Understand That Frustration…”

Posted by in Politics

Or does he? Has Rep. Paul Kanjorski ever known a day without a hot meal? Or a day in which he had to scrape together change from under the sofa to buy groceries so that he could feed his family? Has he ever fallen behind on rent? Utilities? The electric bill? You see, those are the facts that millions of Main Street Americans — many of them recently unemployed — are now living. Or is Kanjorski one of those types who believes that one cannot live in New York City…read more

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