Reluctant Habits

New Review: Gail Godwin’s Unfinished Desires

Posted by in Reviews

My review of Gail Godwin’s Unfinished Desires appears in today’s Chicago Sun-Times. Here’s the first paragraph: Over the past half-century, the extreme religious right, as documented in Michelle Goldberg’s Kingdom Coming, has transformed certain fidelities about faith into snaky traducements that resemble a spastic Tex Avery cartoon. This surrender of common sense has sullied the more sober connections between spirituality and American life, creating an exploratory reticence among novelists that has softly settled into the cultural berm. But Gail Godwin, one of American literature’s best-kept secrets, has quietly eked out…read more

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Macmillan: The New Amazonfail

Posted by in Amazon

As widely reported, Amazon has removed all Macmillan titles from its site. This means that you won’t be able to buy new print or digital books from Paul Auster, John Scalzi, Richard Powers, or countless other authors bundled inside Macmillan’s many imprints through the Amazon website. The dispute, according to Macmillan CEO John Sargent, arose from a Thursday meeting Sargent had with Amazon, in which Sargent proposed new terms of sale for eBooks. Sargent desired to set the price for eBooks on an individual basis and under an agency model,…read more

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The Bat Segundo Show: Sue Grafton

Posted by in Uncategorized

Sue Grafton recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #320. Grafton is most recently the author of U is for Undertow. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Looking for a man named Snake to help him escape from Santa Teresa. Author: Sue Grafton Subjects Discussed: Kinsey Millhone’s early announcement to the readers regarding the bad guys, foreshadowing murder, not writing the same book twice, the ethics of investigation, the emotions associated with kidnapped children, Jaycee Dugard, Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan, gray areas of moral conduct, the difficulties reconciling real crime and…read more

JD Salinger Dead

Posted by in Obits

The Associated Press is reporting that JD Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, has died of natural causes at his home in New Hampshire. He was 91. In honor of J.D. Salinger, I have recorded a dramatic reading of his famous short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” which can be listened to below. “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” as read by Edward Champion (Download MP3) This text will be replaced UPDATE: The Barnes & Noble Review has enlisted some folks for a Salinger tribute. My remarks can be…read more

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The Mountain

Posted by in Personal

If your ambitions are confined to nothing more than ambling up a twenty-foot hill and declaring this easily accomplished task as something special, that’s perfectly fine. I do not wish to judge. Ambition means different things to different people. But when you tread up and down a small hillock so many times, it becomes more like a flat prairie. It’s nice to saunter about a hardpan patch. There’s the comfort of the familiar, the warm faces smiling in the wind. But if you have any grandiose sense of adventure, you’re…read more

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RIP Howard Zinn

Posted by in Obits

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Anticipating the Apple Tablet

Posted by in Apple

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The Bat Segundo Show: Gail Godwin

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Gail Godwin recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #319. Godwin is most recently the author of Unfinished Desires. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Combating an uncertain relationship with the faith. Author: Gail Godwin Subjects Discussed: A Mother and Two Daughters, allegorical personality change tied into a historical framework, characters who dictate into a tape recorder, sense of time and character motivation, saving up character place, three (maybe four) versions of The Red Nun, nuns who hit boys with rulers, unfinished statues, representations of representations, David Copperfield, Henry James, The Beast…read more

New Review: Charlie Huston

Posted by in huston-charlie, Reviews

I’ve interviewed the extremely entertaining writer Charlie Huston twice now for The Bat Segundo Show: once in 2007, where Huston rather devilishly attempted (and failed) to employ a minor Yojimbo between the good Rick Kleffel (also a Huston fan) and me, and again in last February (accompanied by a short video excerpt). But as funny and as enthralling as his last standalone novel was (The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, nominated days ago for an Edgar), Huston’s most recent novel, Sleepless, as I argue in today’s Barnes…read more

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Too Much Kirsch in the Fondue

Posted by in Uncategorized

At some unspecified point in the future, words will be transmitted along these pages at the older frequency. But my services, such as they are, have been increasingly required elsewhere. For now, this space serves as a depository for podcasts, odd video clips (many of my own making), quick quips, short announcements, and the odd review or essay every now and then.

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Woody Allen’s Stalking Annie

Posted by in Allen, Woody, Ed's Films, Film

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Donate to Haiti

Posted by in Haiti

There are numerous ways to donate to Haiti. Here are text-based donation options in the United States. SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts SMS text “GIVE10″ to 20222 to donate $10 to Direct Relief Here are links to some organizations accepting donations: UNICEF Direct Relief Partners in Health Red Cross

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The Bat Segundo Show: Peniel Joseph

Posted by in Bat Segundo, History

Peniel Joseph appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #318. Mr. Joseph is most recently the author of Dark Days, Bright Nights. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Wondering if he lands on Plymouth Rock, or Plymouth Rock lands on him. Author: Peniel Joseph Subjects Discussed: Whether or not the bold declarations within Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech has been entirely heeded, the progress of African-American politics, revolutionaries vs. political pragmatists, Harold Washington, Jesse Jackson, Michael Eric Dyson’s critiques of Obama, Jeremiah Wright’s perception, Obama’s failure to confront race, the…read more

The Most Important Absence

Posted by in Ed's Films, Film, Male Gaze

The above film, “The Most Important Absence,” is the first one I’ve made in 2010. And I intend to put together several more of them. All clips were taken from public domain sources — mostly stag and burlesque films from the first half of the 20th century. The title is taken from a very influential essay about image, which I leave viewers to seek out. But the content contained within the film will probably reveal its source. Different viewers will come away with different interpretations, but the onus falls upon…read more

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I’m Feeling Plucky

Posted by in Google

Inspired by recent experiments conducted by Predictably Irrational, whereby Dan Ariely typed in certain terms into the Google search bar and Google preceded to suggest possibly queries, I took the liberty of typing in a few words, obtaining these results:

The Racist Senate of the United States

Posted by in Politics, Racism, U.S. Senate

Here is a listing of racist incidents involving United States Senators presently in office: BENNETT, ROBERT F. (R — UT) On March 13, 1998, during investigations pertaining to the 1996 Presidential Campaign, Sen. Bennett remarked, “I stepped in and said, `No. I have owned a business in Asia. I have done business in Asia. Charlie Trie’s actions are the typical actions of an Asian businessman.’” (CSPAN — video and transcript) BOXER, BARBARA (D — CA) On July 16, 2009, at an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, Sen. Boxer was…read more

I Wanna Droid You Tender

Posted by in Star Wars

For Comparative Purposes: Armi & Danny’s “I Wanna Love You Tender”

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Review: Daybreakers (2010)

Posted by in Film

The vampire film has needed a kick in the ass for quite some time. Popular audiences have endured the emo complacency of the Twilight films, suffered through the soporific bastardization of Bram Stoker with 2004′s Van Helsing, and settled for the mediocre Underworld trilogy — all relying on tired and tedious tropes that have made recent vampire movies about as desperate as a burned out bookkeeper flipping through a community college catalog for a new hobby. But Daybreakers is a vampire flick with a brain: a fresh and much-needed corrective…read more

Review: Youth in Revolt (2009)

Posted by in Film

Michael Cera, a reedy actor known for grilling his thin mix of thespic tricks into crepe-like pipsqueaks quietly braying the predictable coups de foudre, is not necessarily a man to be disliked. But there doesn’t seem to be a filmmaker with the guts to discourage his predictable instincts. Miguel Arteta would seem to be that man. The director has served up a commendable body of work (the underrated Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, and episodes of Six Feet Under and The Office) reflecting his knack for getting quirky and…read more

The Major

Posted by in Fame

Observe the Major on a red carpet, and at any given moment three or four paws are on him. His heroism has been well received by the dogs, particularly those in dire need of lubrication and those that possess tongues the size of throw towels. The more feral members wanted to touch him, carve him up, put him on a platter with an apple in his mouth and masticate upon his roasted innards over a Sunday dinner. He obliged, again and again, even after an exhausted publicist denied him the…read more

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Kid Chocolate

Posted by in History, Sports

On January 6, 1910 — precisely a century ago — the Cuban boxer Kid Chocolate proceeded to undergo a ten-round bout with his mother’s uterus. He was declared the winner by a doctor (no referees were available in the hospital) and was awarded an umbilical snip for his preborn pugilism. It is safe to say that Kid Chocolate is no longer alive. Indeed, he has not been alive for a good twenty years. But there was a time in which Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo — once referred to, in all seriousness,…read more

Dave Eggers and the Journalism Sweatshop Model

Posted by in Eggers, Dave, McSweeney's, Newspapers

In recent months, Dave Eggers has continued to insist that newspapers, contrary to recent developments, are not dying. In May 2009, Eggers spoke before a crowd and announced, “If you are ever feeling down, if you are ever despairing, if you ever think publishing is dying or print is dying or books are dying or newspapers are dying (the next issue of McSweeney’s will be a newspaper—we’re going to prove that it can make it. It comes out in September). If you ever have any doubt, e-mail me, and I…read more

Get Parkour

Posted by in Animation

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David Pogue and the Gray Lady’s Double Standard

Posted by in Journalistic Ethics, New York Times, pogue-david

In a post on Saturday, the NYTPicker, a website devoted to “the goings-on inside the New York Times,” pointed to the recent firing of Mary Tripsas, who was let go after writing a positive column just after taking an all-expenses paid trip from 3M. The NYTPicker also highlighted Clark Hoyt’s recent column, in which Hoyt reported that the Times had “parted company” with Joshua Robinson after Robinson had “represented himself as as a Times reporter while asking airline magazines for free tickets to cities around the world for an independent…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Katharine Weber II

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Candy

Katharine Weber appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #317. Ms. Weber is most recently the author of True Confections. She previously appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #130 with Levi Asher. Ms. Weber and Mr. Asher will be appearing at the Greenlight Bookstore on January 11, 2009 at 7:30 PM. (Please note: The Bat Segundo Show has discovered a rare and rather alarming remix of the infamous Little Sammies television commercial by a rather untalented 27-year-old DJ, who goes by the name “DJ Danger Titmouse,” presently living in San Ramon,…read more