Reluctant Habits


Posted by in Public Relations, San Francisco

The San Francisco government had gone out of its way to declare the police station “non-intimidating,” It all started when a young innovator had suggested sending brochures to nearby residents by mail.

Review: [REC] 2 (2009)

Posted by in Film

Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza really love making movies — in a way that seems to have eluded the pretentious and the avaricious. Review of the long-awaited horror sequel.

What Characters Read Books on Television?

Posted by in Reading, Television

The above screenshot is from a Three’s Company episode called “The Lifesaver,” in which even the dimwitted Chrissy Snow could be seen reading a book. The novel is Concerto of Love (fictional, of course) and Chrissy had only reached Page 4. But it does have me wondering. In 1979, even sitcom characters who were more than a few cards short of a full deck were still committed to reading in some form. Can we say the same thing in 2010? What television reading moments have you seen lately? UPDATE: Here…read more

Content Slows Momentarily to a Crawl

Posted by in Personal

Due to my present participation in a rather mammoth undertaking, I don’t anticipate much in this space over the next few weeks — aside from the weekly podcast (several conversations already conducted!) and a few essays on movies. I’m also pushing back today’s podcast to sometime early next week in the interests of balancing content release. Probably curtailing my Twitter activities to a few tweets a day. All is very well. This ain’t exactly a hiatus. But I’m finding myself increasingly committed to offline activities.


The Bat Segundo Show: John Waters

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Film, interview, waters-john

In this jam-packed 40 minute radio interview, the filmmaker discusses taxes, Leslie Van Houten, 3-D porn, horror, William Castle, and numerous other subjects.

Review: Cyrus (2010)

Posted by in Film

Mumblecore filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass get a bigger budget in this tale of middle-aged lovers and prevaricating sons. The review includes a strange encounter with a marketing guy.

RIP Jose Saramago

Posted by in Obits

Nobel Lecture: “The voice that read these pages wished to be the echo of the conjoined voices of my characters. I don’t have, as it were, more voice than the voices they had. Forgive me if what has seemed little to you, to me is all.” Book Magazine, 2002: “You may disagree with such a pessimistic vision. But if there is a way for the world to be transformed for the better, it can only be done by pessimism; optimists will never change the world for the better.” Julian Evans,…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Reed Cowan

Posted by in Bat Segundo, cowan-reed, Gay Marriage, interview, Proposition 8

20 minute radio interview with Reed Cowan, director of the documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition.

The Bat Segundo Show: Gary Rivlin

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview, Predatory Lending, rivlin-gary, working poor

Rivlin: One in every five customers is taking twenty or more payday loans a year. So suddenly this effective interest rate of 400% becomes the actual interest rate. I mean, if you’re taking out twenty payday loans a year, that’s pretty much a loan every two weeks. And so you’ve got a couple million people a year in this country who are essentially paying 400% for their money to put it into dollars and cents. For that $500 loan, they’re paying $2,000 in fees for the year. So it’s the trap that a payday loan becomes, that I focus in on.

Review: Finding Bliss (2010)

Posted by in Film

It’s become increasingly impossible for any movie, whether mainstream or independent, to depict the porn industry with anything approaching accuracy. Show a penis — even a flaccid one — and you’ll be given the NC-17 stamp of death. Show any sexual act and, as the 2006 documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated sufficiently demonstrated, be prepared to get into a lengthy censorship battle with the MPAA. But feel free to maim or kill another human being and you’re likely to garner a PG-13. One of the ongoing hypocrisies about…read more

Ed’s Rules for Interviewing

Posted by in Interviewing

1. Listen. I can’t stress that enough. It’s amazing how few journalists do this. Watch body language, the face, and especially the eyes. Pay very close attention. This will also tell you when the other person is getting tired and when you need to wrap things up. Keep within the time you have (unless the other person really wants to talk). Choose an interview location where the other person feels comfortable. Try to avoid sterile environments such as recording studios and boardrooms. (Cafes and restaurants work very well.) Be absolutely…read more


The Bat Segundo Show: Kathryn Schulz

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview

Radio interview with Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong.

Review: The Karate Kid (2010)

Posted by in Film

Age has always been a dicey variable in the Karate Kid universe. In The Karate Kid, Part III — perhaps the most preposterous entry in the series — the 28-year-old Ralph Macchio passed himself off as a “kid” abandoning college, with his character dating the 17-year-old Robyn Lively (thus lending a creepy and statutory quality to the relationship). One of Daniel-San’s adversaries was the 27-year-old Thomas Ian Griffith, a scenery-chewing babyface who tried to pass himself off as a military man who served in ‘Nam with the 43-year-old Martin Kove….read more

Is the New York Times Banning “Tweet” in the Newsroom?

Posted by in Language, New York Times, Twitter

This morning, The Awl‘s Choire Sicha reported that New York Times standards editor Phil Corbett had issued a memo to the newsroom suggesting that “tweet” (that verb used to refer to the act of posting on Twitter) was being actively discouraged within the Gray Lady’s mighty halls. The memo, which announced that “‘tweet’ has not yet achieved the status of standard English” went on to express dismay about “tweet” being used as a noun or verb. How could a word — reflecting a colloquialism, a negologism, or jargon — ever…read more


The Diary

Posted by in Personal

10:00 AM: Ass in chair. Write 1,000 words. Sometime After: Live life, collect ideas, talk with friends and strangers, maintain giddy and optimistic faith in the universe despite all pessimistic curveballs, read, and do fun shit that is none of your business. Next Day: Repeat. There is no mystique. There are no excuses.


New Review: Tom Bissell’s EXTRA LIVES

Posted by in bissell-tom, Reviews

I don’t confess nearly as much as Tom Bissell in my review of his excellent book, Extra Lives. But I do nevertheless come out to some extent in today’s Barnes & Noble Review: When Valve recently updated its shiny Steam client—that flashy desktop app permitting the user to waste numerous hours on video games and to spend precious dollars on special weekend sales—I received the soul-shattering news that I’d clocked in an alarming 131 hours of Team Fortress 2. I had not asked for this statistic, yet this seemingly benevolent…read more


RIP David Markson

Posted by in Markson, David, Obits

David Markson, who was one of my favorite living writers, has passed away. He was 82. It’s difficult to convey just how much of a loss this is for American letters, but I’ll do my best as I now fight back tears. Along with John Barth, William Gaddis, and Gilbert Sorrentino, Markson was one of the few writers who proved that experimental writing need not be prescriptive. For Markson, chronicling the consciousness was often tremendous fun: both for him and the reader. And if you were fortuitous enough, it could…read more

The Bat Segundo Show: Ander Monson II

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview, monson-ander

Radio interview with author of Vanishing Point.

BEA 2010: An Impromptu Conversation with Gary Shteyngart

Posted by in BEA, shteyngart-gary

The following is a transcript from an impromptu conversation with Gary Shteyngart at BookExpo America. Due to inexplicable file degradation, the color within the video is not what it was in reality. Mr. Shteyngart’s skin proved so stunning that it caused at least 300 heads to turn during the course of the interview. And we only talked for two minutes! 300 heads in two minutes isn’t a statistic to easily discount. We regret to report that the video degraded, thus sullying Mr. Shteyngart’s charismatic complexion. There were several attempts at…read more

Against the Status Galley

Posted by in Publishing Industry

The so-called “status galley” — that is, a prepublication edition of a book, generally of massive size and/or literary challenge, possessed by an underpaid and often illiterate member of the publishing world who has no intention of reading beyond the first few chapters — is among the most vexing amalgams of materialism and literature that the 21st century has ever known. It is a relatively recent phenomenon, augmented by the Brobdignagian burst of journalists attending trade shows. The good ones are savvy enough to recognize a mini-Hubbert’s Peak among some…read more