Reluctant Habits

Five Three Oh

Posted by in New York

At 5:30 AM, you know who is truly fearless. Early birds shuffle into the guarded lobbies of fitness centers, jutting their chins and sticking their hands into hoodies not for warmth, but for protection against the unpredictable aperture between the end of night and the promising onset of the sun. A man rattles the locked door outside Starbucks, wanting his quick fix as the workers unpack big metal bins from the fridge and talk shop before putting on a customer-friendly face. A more subtle addict stands outside a diner with…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Marjorie Rosen

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Marjorie Rosen recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #311. Marjorie Rosen is most recently the author of Boom Town: How Wal-Mart Transformed an All-American Town Into an International Community. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Kicked out of bed. Author: Marjorie Rosen Subjects Discussed: The white and non-Hispanic white majority in Bentonville, Arkansas, numerous houses of worship, multiculturalism, the largest population of Marshall Island immigrants in the United States, work for unskilled laborers, exploitation at Tyson and Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart’s $319 billion annual profit and its failure to offer proper healthcare, sentiments…read more

When Parody Replaces Opportunity

Posted by in meyer-stephenie, Parody

I don’t know if the world really needed a parody of the Twilight books. Stephenie Meyer’s acolytes, as cultural observers have opined, are quite fixed in their passions. I’ve always subscribed to the middle ground version of the “gateway drug” theory. You may not get the kids hooked on Ulysses or ensnare them within the apparent stomach-churning fallow of fan fiction. But you can listen to them instead of dismissing them, and, with enough patience, maybe get them started on Lovecraft or Poe. The Harvard Lampoon‘s Nightlight clearly doesn’t appreciate…read more

The Benefits of Notebooks

Posted by in Paper, Preservation, Writing

I used to write in longhand all the time, filling up five-subject notebooks with the predictable angst of a young man in his early twenties and several early starts on stories, plays, and screenplays that I would revise or abandon. Taking notes was once the thing to do. Back in the nineties, when I wrote film reviews, half the critics took notes. And I learned to write in the dark by taking up large sections of the paper, noting a sentence and then sliding my pen downward to another sector….read more

Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project #8

Posted by in Dramatic Readings, Hate Mail

A few hours ago, I learned that a notable writer wrote into The New York Post to express his disguised hatred for his ex-girlfriend. Therefore, my audio series — Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project — must continue. The following clip represents my dramatic reading of the hate mail in question, read in the style of Jimmy Stewart. I plan to continue reading more hate mail. Again, I will be happy to read any specific hate mail that you’ve received. (If you do send me hate mail for potential dramatic readings,…read more


Posted by in Personal

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” — Eleanor Roosevelt That’s some sensible advice from my favorite First Lady. (Dolley Madison is a close second.) Her other spiffy idea, which is very wise, is that nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. I like First Ladies. They don’t get nearly enough credit. Abigail Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson, concerned about Shays’ Rebellion — that fantastic revolt that the unemployed and the working poor might want to take a few lessons…read more


Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project #7

Posted by in Dramatic Readings, Hate Mail

A few days ago, I learned that a former college friend, who had initiated contact with me, had transformed into an incoherent lunatic. My girlfriend has benignly suggested, based on the evidence I have presented to her, that this man was likely a lunatic all along. I’d prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. But one thing’s for sure. His email was loaded with hate, despite the fact that he claimed to be a peaceful optimist. Therefore, my audio series — Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project — must…read more

Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants

Posted by in Music


Offices Within Offices

Posted by in Business

The office was ensconced within a vicious slab that prioritized desperate spendthrift tendencies over comfort and efficiency. The man who rented out this thin rectangle on the 33rd floor seemed to believe that the $1,200 he paid each month granted him some illusory status. He took advantage of the economic downturn and shouted at the receptionist every time she failed to mention his firm name. The powerless receptionist, who had initiated with an attorney to secure her job just after the Dow first plummeted below 10,000, was forced to comply…read more


Live Conversation with Sarah Hall — November 3, 2009

Posted by in hall-sarah

The Bat Segundo Show may be on temporary hiatus (with several shows still in the backlog). But that doesn’t mean that I’m not talking with authors. Sarah Hall, author of How to Paint a Dead Man (the subject of a recent roundtable discussion on these pages), will be coming through New York. She’ll be appearing at McNally Jackson on November 3, 2009 at 7:00 PM, where I will be chatting with her about her fourth novel. Please note that this conversation will not be recorded or released as a future…read more


Scene from a Mall (1993)

Posted by in Ed's Films

In 1993, I took a film class and was grouped with an amicable ragtag crew. We filmed little shorts with the Panasonic PV-535, the only consumer VHS camera that had chroma key and that was compulsively used at just about every opportunity. The camera had a little mini-camera that you would mount on the top. You couldn’t directly feed in a video signal into the camera, but those who used the camera certainly improvised around the limitations. I would make long-distance telephone calls to video engineers and technicians around the…read more


When I Had Hair

Posted by in Personal

In the mid-1990s, I made my way around various film and theater circles. My interests were mainly centered around the prospect of putting on a good show. I enjoyed being one of those wizards behind the curtain executing an illusion. And it didn’t matter whether it was coming up with a wacky storyline or perfecting a visual detail that only a handful of people would notice. But because I was often so lively when I worked on sets, friends began to insist that I should act in their projects. One…read more


Am I Going to Be Doing This at Fifty?

Posted by in Confusion


Eating Young Jewish Writers

Posted by in Foer, Jonathan Safran

[The following article is an excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, Eating Young Jewish Writers.] When I was young, I would often spend the weekend at my grandmother’s house. She would ask me if I was hungry. And when I would cry, she would tell me that I needed to toughen up and expand my gustatory horizons. It wasn’t until years later that I realized she was testing me to see if I had eaten a young Jewish writer for dinner. You see, my grandmother survived the Great Depression eating young…read more

Happy Columbo Day!

Posted by in Holidays


New Review

Posted by in Reviews

In all the NYFF madness, I failed to note that my review of Morris Dickstein’s Dancing in the Darkappeared in Friday’s edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. It begins: While the intrepid academic Morris Dickstein has been noodling around on Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression (W.W. Norton, $29.95) for 29 years, the regrettable surprise is that the chapters read like airless lectures delivered to a fidgety audience that’s only sitting through the whole darn talk for a college credit or a free barbeque. You can…read more


Coverage Interruptus

Posted by in Film, New York Film Festival

A last-minute deadline for a very fun and entirely unanticipated eleventh hour project has cropped up. This development means a break in New York Film Festival coverage. I have quite a number of films that I still have to write about (and not just NYFF offerings), and my plans are to attempt to unroll as much of this as I can in the next week. But for folks still on the fence about the films that are playing in the final days, here’s a quick rundown of immediate thoughts. Todd…read more


NYFF: Ally Sheedy

Posted by in Film, New York Film Festival

[This is the fourth in a series of posts relating to the 2009 New York Film Festival.] The above video was taken from an October 8, 2009 press conference in relation to Life During Wartime. My thoughts on the film will be appearing on these pages soon.


NYFF: An Impromptu Interview with Ed Lachman

Posted by in Cinematography, Film, New York Film Festival, Photography

[This is the third in a series of posts relating to the 2009 New York Film Festival.] At the Life During Wartime press conference, I noticed that director of photography Ed Lachman was a bit grumpy about differences between shooting on film and shooting digital. Life During Wartime had been shot, like Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant!, on the RED digital system. Now Soderbergh’s film looked a bit soft and strained to my eye. Lachman, on the other hand, had managed to beef up much of Life During Wartime using color…read more

NYFF: Broken Embraces (2009)

Posted by in Film, New York Film Festival

[This is the second in a series of posts relating to the 2009 New York Film Festival.] There once was a time in which I flocked to a new Pedro Almodovar film with a mad and unstoppable gusto, wondering just what iconoclastic ideas Almodovar would unleash upon the screen. You never knew if you were going to get an extended rape scene brazenly challenging gender assumptions (the notorious sequence in Kika) or Antonio Banderas confronting some dormant and out-of-left-field sexual feelings (well, just about every Banderas-Almodovar road show). But then…read more

NYFF: The White Ribbon (2009)

Posted by in Film, New York Film Festival

[This is the first in a series of posts relating to the 2009 New York Film Festival.] (This post will be updated. Review of The White Ribbon TK.) On October 7, 2009, the New York Film Festival held a press conference with writer/director Michael Haneke. To listen to the press conference, as recorded and mastered by Edward Champion, click on the podcast below. Haneke answered questions in German, with English translation by Robert Gray. Press Conference; Michael Haneke — October 7, 2009 (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

Interview with the FTC’s Richard Cleland

Posted by in Advertising, Blogging, FTC, Journalism

This morning, the Federal Trade Commission announced that its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials would be revised in relation to bloggers. The new guidelines (PDF) specified that bloggers making any representation of a product must disclose the material connections they (the presumed endorsers) share with the advertisers. What this means is that, under the new guidelines, a blogger’s positive review of a product may qualify as an “endorsement” and that keeping a product after a review may qualify as “compensation.” These guidelines, which will be effective as…read more

Alan Grayson: The Only Democrat with Balls (Aside from Kucinich)

Posted by in grayson-alan, Health Care, Politics

Alan Grayson: “Well, listen, I didn’t call names. What I said is true. The Republicans have even nothing resembling a plan. And when you don’t have a plan, what that means is your plan is ‘Don’t Get Sick.’”


Bat Segundo Hiatus

Posted by in Bat Segundo

I spent two weeks reading close to 2,000 pages of an author’s work. I wanted to give this author the respect that his work deserved. But this author threw a temper tantrum. The author first suggested that I was talking too loud. (When I played back the audio to my girlfriend, she strained to hear my voice.) Then the author asked me to offer questions pertaining to the “theme” in the book that weren’t “specific.” So I did. But this author couldn’t answer. Didn’t have the chops. And it saddened…read more