Reluctant Habits

Jonah Lehrer: A Malcolm Gladwell for the Mind

Posted by in depression, gladwell-malcolm, lehrer-jonah, New York Times, Psychiatry, Wallace, David Foster

As the terrible news of Andrew Koenig’s suicide and Michael Blosil leaping to his death, both after long depressive bouts, emerged over the weekend, the New York Times Sunday Magazine had aided and abetted Jonah Lehrer’s continued slide into unhelpful Gladwellian generalizations by publishing his sloppy and insensitive article claiming that depression really isn’t that bad. Lehrer, an alleged bright young thing who found his own tipping point with How We Decide, appears to have cadged nuanced examples from such thoughtful books as Kay Redfield Jamison’s Touched with Fire and…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Justin Taylor

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Justin Taylor recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #323. Mr. Taylor is most recently the author of Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Fearful of sanguine book titles. Guest: Justin Taylor Subjects Discussed: Not naming protagonists until well into the stories, dissatisfaction with formality, how characters reveal themselves, gender confusion within “Weekend Away,” Taylor’s aversion to “bright neon signs” within narrative, the dangers of being too specific, similes, concluding lines and addressing the reader, the final line of “Jewels Flashing in the Night of…read more

The Man Who Liked Vowels

Posted by in Language


Review: Cop Out (2010)

Posted by in Film, smith-kevin

As suggested by Peter Biskind’s Down and Dirty Pictures, Steven Soderbergh initiated his “one for us, one for them” plunge into the Hollywood ocean with 1998′s Out of Sight. Richard Linklater’s occasional dips began with 2003′s School of Rock. Both were perfectly respectable movies, but it wasn’t much of a surprise when these distinctive directors’s later compromises floundered. Now Kevin Smith, a tardy arriviste into the strange club of indie filmmakers turned hired hands, has copped a Hollywood feel with Cop Out, a buddy movie that so desperately wants to…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Kevin Sampsell

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Kevin Sampsell recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #322. Mr. Sampsell is most recently the author of A Common Pornography. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Airing his dirty laundry. Guest: Kevin Sampsell Subjects Discussed: Maintaining an emotional spectrum within the two editions of A Common Pornography, balancing sweet material with darker installments, how the death of Sampsell’s father (and subsequent revelations) altered Sampsell’s perspective, the great lie of memory, how memory affected chapter length, wrestling, changing people’s names, telephone conversations with mysterious legal people, the photo that didn’t make it…read more

Steve Weinberg, Russell Carollo, and Christopher Szecheny — Scientology’s Sleazy Bitches

Posted by in Journalism, Journalistic Ethics, Scientology

In today’s Washington Post, Howard Kurtz reports the alarming news that three “journalists” — Steve Weinberg, Russell Carollo, and Christopher Szecheny — were paid money by the Church of Scientology to examine the St. Petersburg Times‘s “conduct.” This ad hoc “investigation” was commissioned because the newspaper has devoted considerable resources to examining the ostensible religious organization. But the new study is highly suspect. Weinberg reveals in the article that the final results may be withheld from public dissemination, should the Church not find the report to its liking. And in…read more

Needless Counting Exercises

Posted by in Reading

Words, being silly little units of language reflecting emotional and synaptic activities, are subject to frequent bursts of growth which are known to frustrate the unadventurous reader, possibly causing a regrettable series of eructations. The ambitious novel containing many words is greeted with suspicion, as if all minds are expected to conform to some craven concision. The slim novel may likewise be received by those eagerly wishing to plant plaints, but these impatient toe-tappers are often considering the words-per-ounce (and unspoken words-per-dollar) text stat introduced by the seemingly unstoppable commercial…read more


Review: Happy Tears (2010)

Posted by in Film

It is difficult to muster much enthusiasm for Mitchell Lichtenstein’s latest film, Happy Tears — in part because Tamara Jenkins gave us the similarly-themed The Savages three years ago, a remarkably moving film about middle-aged scions learning to care for a decaying father — and in part because Lichtenstein strikes me as an insensitive dilettante all too happy to humiliate the talent he has at his disposal. I could very well be wrong, but a gnawing feeling kicked in upon seeing Rip Torn, a talented actor who has had a…read more

Gordon Lightfoot is Not Dead

Posted by in Music

Several major news outlets erroneously reported that Gordon Lightfoot was dead. None thought to perform the basic journalistic task of confirming the news against, oh say, a medical examiner or a coroner. Perhaps everybody wanted to believe that Gordon Lightfoot was dead. His music, after all, has fulfilled some marvelous need for schmaltz. But I’m very pleased to know that Gordon Lightfoot is still alive, still determined to honor us with his unique brand of cheese and sensitivity. Let us all then celebrate the magnificent force known as Gordon Lightfoot,…read more



Posted by in Burgess, Anthony, cavett-dick

Anthony Burgess: I want to ask you a very fundamental question. Dick Cavett: Yeah. Burgess: And before I ask you it, I’m going to answer it myself. In my own terms. This is this: People have asked me, “Why do you write books?” My answer is, “I write books for a living. Because there’s no other job I can do successfully or with any measure of expertise.” Obviously, you have another kind of living. Therefore, why did you write this book? Cavett: It’s that… Burgess: You didn’t write this book…read more


New Scarlett Thomas Novel Has American Publication Date

Posted by in thomas-scarlett

If a new David Mitchell novel wasn’t enough for you, The End of Mr. Y author Scarlett Thomas also has a new book coming out this year. The latest novel, Death of the Author, is set to be published in the UK on April 2010. I’ve made inquiries, and Harcourt has informed me that the novel will also be published in the States, under the title Our Tragic Universe, in September 2010. RELATED: Bat Segundo interview with Thomas from 2007.


Bat Segundo Calls It a Snow Day

Posted by in Bat Segundo

Due to an unexpected delay in getting some equipment repaired, there won’t be a new installment of The Bat Segundo Show this week. But Bat Segundo plans to atone for this deficit by offering a special pair of sister podcasts, the first in the program’s history. The two podcasts will feature two authors, each participating in a separate conversation, with the other offering unusual interjections, jocular banter, and/or possible defenses. The order of these interviews will be determined by a coin toss. Because of this rather silly and elaborate approach,…read more


The Other Google Super Bowl Commercial: Chicago Paranoia

Posted by in Advertising, Ed's Films, Super Bowl

Google’s heartwarming Super Bowl ad, “Parisian Love,” has been viewed by more than three million people on YouTube. But were you aware of “Chicago Paranoia” — the more disturbing version of the ad? The above video could not have been assembled without the help of CamStudio and the invaluable Lagarith Lossless Video Codec — both of which can be downloaded for free.


Super Friends: An Origin Point

Posted by in Animation, Comics, Television

It is difficult to explain the now extinct Saturday morning cartoon experience to anybody under twenty-five, but it shared certain qualities with a Sunday morning religious service, where one dressed in ratty pajamas and multihued Underoos in lieu of serge suit and neck-restricting tie. A soaky bowl of cornflakes replaced the stale sacramental pomp and circumstance of wafers, offering an altogether different eucharist metaphor with slightly more nutritional value. Leaden and predictable hymns, in which one was badgered into belting out a tinny tune identified by number, were uprooted by…read more

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall; What’s the Biggest Cliche of Them All?

Posted by in Film


The Super Bowl: Madison Avenue Misogyny

Posted by in Advertising, Misogyny, Sexism, Super Bowl

It was a great game, perhaps the most gripping final NFL showdown of the past five years, with a second half opening with a daring onside kick and Garrett Hartley becoming the first placekicker to make three field goals over forty yards in any Super Bowl. Marvelous. And I might have come away from the annual experience howling in the streets for my avenged Jets, had not my viewing been sullied by an atavistic rash of misogynistic commercials. Granted, your average redblooded spectator does not necessarily watch television sports commercials…read more


The Bat Segundo Show: Christian Berger

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Film

Christian Berger recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #321. Berger is the cinematographer for The White Ribbon and was, most recently, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. This conversation is related to The Bat Segundo Show #316, in which writer-director Michael Haneke was interviewed. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Wondering why so many moviegoers are named Jacques. Guest: Christian Berger Subjects Discussed: Reasons to visit New York, establishing a black-and-white look with a color negative, specific hues used for gray tones, pressure from financing, grayscale limits in post-production,…read more

Paul Fischer: The Unpardonable Hack Who Charmed His Fellow Junketeers

Posted by in douglas-edward, ethics, Film, fischer-paul, Journalism

There was once a time — before the Internet, or perhaps not at all — in which film critics conducted themselves with something approximating journalistic standards. It was never very much. These were, after all, film critics — often underpaid, most having lost the capacity to marvel at the frequent cinematic magic playing before their eyes and most lacking the dignity to recuse themselves from professional duties before they soured. But the nagging need to catch up with some perceived discrepancy between the fruitless remuneration from their cold analysis and…read more

February 15th! Reader of a Lonely Heart!

Posted by in Uncategorized

Read your work. You always read your work. Never thinking of the future. Prove yourself. You are the book you make. Take your chances win or loser. This silly lyrical reference is a roundabout way of saying that the exuberant Russ Marshalek has organized yet another fantastic installment of his infamous reading series, “Just Working on My Novel.” It’s set to go down on February 15, 2010, whereby new and established writers read unpublished and/or new novels. The latest episode will center around love letters, breakup stories, sad sack notes,…read more


Knock Three Times

Posted by in Music