Reluctant Habits

When Will You Be Available For Me to Pick Up My Hat?

Posted by in Parties

From Jerry Felsheim’s “New York Literary Tea,” part of the aborted America Eats project that was never completed by the Federal Writers’ Project, but that is thankfully collected in Mark Kurlansky’s forthcoming book, The Food of a Younger Land: Literary teas are constantly in a state of flux. The uninitiate gravitates toward the author, the author toward the editor or publisher, the publisher toward the reviewer, and the reviewer, in desperation, toward another drink. Since the general rule of conduct is to seek out those who can do one the…read more


A Bona-Fide Reading Recommendation

Posted by in calvo-javier

Every once in a while, there’s a novel that’s been inexplicably ignored. Ignored in the way that a band or a movie could have been a hit, had it been released five years before or after, but that has the misfortune of being dumped into an uncomprehending crowd like a kewpie doll in a gated community. A book so giddy and nuts that you find yourself slowing down just to savor the madness. A book that causes you to get so lost in its warped world that you laugh loudly…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Carl Wilson

Posted by in Bat Segundo

You can listen to the complete 40-minute interview at The Bat Segundo Show #279.


Yes, The Master Race Does Matter

Posted by in New York Times

For more than a week now, people on both sides of the Atlantic have been wondering whether Susan Boyle is a frumpy, middle-aged cipher or someone who actually possesses some skills outside making sandwiches. Fortunately, we here at the New York Times are happy to intellectualize this extremely troubling issue for you. Our demographic data suggests that you are, in all likelihood, a trim, upper middle-class Caucasian. And while these lowly types are getting into our clubs and newspapers, there is now the suggestion that some of us are shallow….read more

CNN Newsroom (In the Key of Whatever the Producer Wants)

Posted by in News


Police Taser Naked Wizard at Coachella

Posted by in Coachella, Naked Wizard, Police Brutality

Naked Wizard Tased By Reality from Tracy Anderson on Vimeo. A six-minute video that is now quickly making the rounds around the Internet (see above) depicts a naked man at the Coachella Music Festival being tasered by police. The Desert Sun has the best summary of events, but essentially Johnathan Frederick Feich, a 23-year-old-man, ran around naked without his wizard costume. Three police approached him — two from Indio and one from Banning — trying to persuade him to put on his costume. “I’ll tell you what,” says one of…read more


Review: Fighting (2009)

Posted by in Film

“Bob Semen is a freak but New York needs freaks. At his best he was hope for the hopeless and at his worst, no more than a lesson. An adventure to be lived and learned.” — Dino Montiel, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints New York does indeed need its freaks. But few artists wish to broach the terrible truth that the richer and cleaner New York under Bloomberg doesn’t particularly desire them. Those seedy characters lovingly portrayed in Richard Price’s books and Abel Ferrara’s films now occupy the realm…read more


Posted by in Twitter

Dear @MyFriend: You unfollowed me on Twitter today, and I simply haven’t been the same. There are salty beads of sweat slithering and agitating the angry furrows of my aging forehead and my left testicle has just popped out of my boxers. I am considering switching back to briefs, but I don’t think this will help. And I don’t think any of this will encourage you to follow me again on Twitter. But I must tell you the truth. Because you are, in no small sense, responsible for all this….read more


Jesus in America #2

Posted by in Jesus in America

Mashup of Drafts (With Annotations)

Posted by in Personal

I cannot be bothered to write anything of importance at the present time. Therefore, I offer the following post composed entirely of random sentences from other posts that I started in 2009, and I never finished, and that I have no real intention of finishing (with pertinent annotations): I am in Midtown Manhattan, where the streets have no name. [1] Thanks to the dependable rage and knee-jerk regularities of the big crunching boot known as the Internet, Billy Bob Thornton has, in the past four days, been widely derided for…read more


Viral Marketing

Posted by in Ellroy, James

As Sarah Weinman reports, in a signed note on the back of the forthcoming James Ellroy novel, Blood’s a Rover, the Demon Dog of Crime Fiction is urging all of his readers to find him on Facebook. This may very well be the most brazen Web 2.0 pitch in the history of book industry marketing. And the last thing I want to do is kick a Demon Dog when he’s down. So go to Facebook, find James Ellroy, and lift this great writer’s spirits for the benefit of arts and…read more

Thunderbolt and IT: Very, Very, Frightening

Posted by in Music


The Hard Quit

Posted by in Addiction

There’s presently a wild perceptive dust floating about in lieu of the daily smoke. It’s a mad balance that comes from giving up one terrible extenuating habit formed in my twenties, committed to (and quit) with varying degrees of government-sanctioned addiction over the past twelve years, and kicked at by the impromptu hooves bucking at salubrity at this present day — just a few years beyond thirty. There have been abject side effects. Sentences unpacked and deployed from my noggin like mad rivets dutifully dipping from a dribbling drill now…read more


RIP J.G. Ballard

Posted by in Obits

Jeff VanderMeer is reporting that J.G. Ballard is dead. If that last sentence doesn’t cause your heart to sink to your feet, then get thee to a bookstore or a library and check the man’s work out immediately. Ballard was one of the greats: an imaginative giant, a profoundly erudite iconoclast, one of those rare talents who came up with a warped concept that needed to be wild while providing the speculative heft needed to keep a thought experiment going. And I hope to have more to say about the…read more


Better Than a Thousand Hollow Words

Posted by in Book Reviewing, Los Angeles Times

Like oh my God! I would SOOOOOOOO like to meet Louisa Thomas, who like reviews, like, books for the Los Angeles Times, and who, you know, seems to like people. Reading her review, I became convinced that she was, like, the kind of BFF (!!!!) who would, like, go with me to get Häagen-Daz. And we’d like spend the whole day gagging each other with our spoons, wondering, like, why there’s those, like, two funny dots over the first A. I think we would be friends. And I also think…read more


The Bat Segundo Show: Alex Rivera

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Film

Alex Rivera appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #281. Alex Rivera is the director and co-writer of Sleep Dealer, which is scheduled for limited release on April 17, 2009. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Hoping to avoid Morpheus’s maquiladoras. Guest: Alex Rivera Subjects Discussed: David Riker’s La Ciudad, splitting screenwriting/directing duties, the collaboration process, the dynamics of globalization, labor and New World Order, the importance of having a heart when making a film, being the “Tin Man” to the “Wizard of Oz”, setting a futuristic story in the Third World, doing…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Laura Lippman

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Laura Lippman appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #280. Laura Lippman is most recently the author of Life Sentences. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Frightened of sleazy and opportunistic biographers. Author: Laura Lippman Subjects Discussed: Cassandra Fallows vs. Kathryn Harrison, writers with peculiar personalities, the memoir dictating the memoirist, Hegelian synthesis, the Quarter Pounder and Proustian comparisons, philosophical modifiers, the inauthentic self, stereotypes of NPR listeners, book smart vs. people smart, satire and gentle fun, shaking the “serious is better” notion, Thomas Pynchon, being true to voice, the problems with the…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Carl Wilson

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Celebrities, Music

Carl Wilson appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #279. Carl Wilson is the author of Let’s Talk About Love and reports indicate that he is loved, in turn, by the actor James Franco. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Evading the pomp and circumstance of cultural taxonomies. Author: Carl Wilson Subjects Discussed: Celine Dion and incompatible tastes, Elliott Smith, the questioning of canonical knowledge, Paul Valery’s concept of taste composed of a thousand distastes, TV on the Radio, choosing sides when dismissing trash, defying the stereotypes of Celine Dion fans, snobbish record…read more

The Octagon

Posted by in Curiosity, Traffic

At the bottom edge of every beer bottle, you will find a series of dots — a crude glass Braille identifying the specific glass moulding. If you examine your medicine cabinet and your building is old enough, you may find a tiny slit that once held razor blades. If you have lived long enough, you may remember when the capsules on jars and bottles were once made of lead or even cork (before health regulations replaced these with plastic and aluminum foil). The octagonal STOP sign, which is well-known throughout…read more

Amazonfail: Postgame Video

Posted by in Amazon


Hachette Imposes Salary Cuts Across Board

Posted by in Publishing Industry

An anonymous source has informed me that Alain Lemarchand, CEO & President of Hachette Filipacchi Media, has sent a memo to his employees. Today’s business environment requires decisive and quick action for the welfare of the company. This includes a number of difficult decisions on my part, some of which impact you personally. In this case, I deliberated long and carefully before coming to the conclusion that one of the steps that needs to be taken immediately is a cut in base salaries. Effective April 27, 2009, the salaries of…read more


Amazonfail: Amazon Responds

Posted by in Amazon

After multiple attempts to contact Amazon, I have at long last received the following reply from Patty Smith by email: “This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection. “It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally….read more


RIP Derek Weiler

Posted by in Obits

I was shocked to learn the terrible news that Derek Weiler, editor at Quill and Quire, has passed away at the ridiculously young age of 40. Derek and I had many heated arguments here in the comments and through email. (He once called me “pathological.”) But despite our feisty exchanges, Derek was a very fair-minded and reasonable man who deserved to live much longer. And I enjoyed our volleys. He had the balls to take me on, and the decency to understand positions that were contrary to his own, which…read more

Amazonfail: A Call to Boycott Amazon

Posted by in Amazon

It’s been called #amazonfail on Twitter, but it represents the greatest insult to consumers and the most severe commercial threat to free expression that we’re likely to see in some time. Amazon has decided to remove certain books that they deem “adult” from their ranking system. But the “adult” definitions include such books as D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Amazon link) (screenshot), Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina (Amazon link) (screenshot), Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain (Amazon link) (screenshot), John Cleland’s Fanny Hill (Amazon link) (screenshot), and numerous other titles. [NOTE:…read more


Review: Observe and Report (2009)

Posted by in Film

Observe and Report‘s most memorable moment involves the appropriately named Randy Gambill’s penis, which flaps in slow motion beneath Gambill’s developing pot belly as Seth Rogen chases him in a mall. Gambill, who the IMDB reports is making his big screen debut with this scrotal ballet, is not an actor of much range. His character has spent a good portion of the film flashing people. And now he has flashed us. I was neither shocked nor offended by Gambill’s flaccid member, but I must commend Gambill and writer-director Jody Hill…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Eric Kraft

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Kraft, Eric

One of the difficulties of managing so many projects is that I continue to forget that I am committing some of these conversations to video. So I must now atone for the slightly delayed missing component. If you missed out on the elaborate roundtable discussion for Flying, or you don’t have the 2+ hour investment to listen to the three-part podcast (Part One) (Part Two) (Part Three), or you just want to get a sense of how much remarkable vivacity Mr. Kraft has, then the above four-minute video excerpt should…read more


IPG Keeping Authors in the Dark About Sales Figures?

Posted by in IPG

I have learned from several sources that book distributor Independent Publishers Group is not permitting its authors to know the number of books that still sit in their warehouses. Authors hoping to call up the distributor and get that pivotal figure that just about any book distributor will give them — so, you know, they can plan to either buy the remainders or figure out new ways of marketing their books — are being told that sales figures are secret. And not even a friendly “Abracadabra” or “Open Sesame” will…read more


Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy!

Posted by in Snacks

The kernel, reviving himself for the fourth time since the specialist had pressed him into this messy business, slowly hauled his sticky, still healing corpse up from the Formica. Before he was a kernel, he’d been a major part of the trail mix. But he’d kept in his martial duties, staving his private thoughts from the messes that were unavoidable. The chain of command was fallible. He hadn’t had a heart-to-heart with the specialist for some time, and resented the constant erasing of memories. But he knew that the specialist…read more


“And Hast Thou Slain the Jabberwock?”

Posted by in Snacks

“I’ve never been to Bavaria,” said the specialist. “Is it nice?” “I wouldn’t know,” said the Bavarian, who was still staring at the barren kernel corpse that the specialist had left on the Formica as a reminder. “Just so you know, I didn’t enjoy that task.” “Oh?” “I give the snacks their feelings and I figure that people will respect them.” “Treat them as pets?” “Well, hopefully more than that,” said the specialist, who stroked his beard to suggest to the Bavarian that he actually had some authority when he,…read more


He Went Galumphing Back

Posted by in Snacks

The specialist’s chest heaved waves of homicidal catharsis. And while this troubled him, he nevertheless cleansed himself of that dreaded atonal compunction scaling its way across four vertical ventricles. His musical heart had been categorized by the visceral taxonomists like so: (1) e.g., the part inside that cried for data and hard examples but could not appreciate the warm aroma of a woman or a child’s laughter; (2) g.b., a bona-fide hard drive, an ambition that was capacious in 1995 in danger of being replaced by the cutting-edge t.b.; (3)…read more