Dana Spiotta (BSS #28)

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NOTE: This podcast includes a free book giveaway of Spiotta’s Eat the Document. Listen to the podcast for details.

Author: Dana Spiotta

Condition of Bat Segundo: Self-important and sleep-deprived, but surprisingly generous.

Subjects Discussed: Katherine Ann Power as inspiration, the ambiguities of terrorism, comparisons and similarities between Eat the Document and Lightning Field, witty political activists, the Billboard Liberation Front, cinematic influences, Don DeLillo, plotting, reader expectations, on stopping just short of September 11th, justifying pop cultural references, food as a Balzacian character indicator, the Beach Boys, literary influences, dialogue, how people talk in restaurants, the rise in contemporary novels dealing with 1960s & 1970s activism, innocence, and unanswered questions for the reader.

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Categories: Fiction

Ron Hogan (BSS #27)

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Author: Ron Hogan

Condition of Bat Segundo: Frightened of the 1970s, abdicating his position to a maniac.

Subjects Discussed: David Frum’s How We Got Here, Peter Bogdonavich, how filmmakers and actors are responsible for their own legacies, Karen Black, the accidental nature of casting, whether or not the 1970s is the Great American Movie Decade, Peter Biskind, “one for them, one for me,” George Clooney, David Kipen’s The Schreiber Theory, movies as business vs. movies as art, Hal Ashby, Roger Corman, Brian De Palma, The Muppet Movie as Joseph Campbell-Candide epic and the film’s influences, what Ron did while crashing at Mark’s, the problems of post-1970 photographic film, coffee table book vs. chronicle of 1970s cinema, the influence of film critics, Shaft Goes to Africa, film against instantaneous culture, the culture of scrutiny, television shows on DVD, and a good deal of idle speculation.

[INTERVIEW NOTES: The interview was conducted by telephone.]

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Categories: Ideas

Live Segundo Podcast in the Works

If you are in San Francisco in early April, you may have a chance to see Our Young, Roving Corresponent interviewing an author in person. The Bat Segundo Crew is putting together a “live”* Segundo podcast with a Very Special Author. We’re working out the details as we speak. More details to follow.

* — “live” meaning interviewing in front of an audience and offering this as a podcast later

Categories: Uncategorized

William T. Vollmann (BSS #26)

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Author: William T. Vollmann

Condition of Bat Segundo: A bit over his head and not particularly uncentered.

Subjects Discussed: Copernicus, the relationship between religion and science, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Ptolemy, Intelligent Design and contemporary parallels, Iraq, life lived according to the “cash nexus” versus life in other countries, the Bush Administration as muse, politics in fiction, Shostakovich, on writing Rising Up and Rising Down and revealing individual human identities, research and Europe Central‘s historical inventions, how Vollmann creates vernacular, repeating phrases, Madison Smartt Bell, the use of narrators in Vollmann’s fiction, Lautréamont, Vollmann charms his escort, the two narrators of Europe Central, and Vollmann the entrepreneur.

(Special thanks to Ami Greko, Paul Slovak and the fab folks at Norton for helping to make this happen.)

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Categories: Fiction, Ideas

Segundo Podcasting Rig

In the past few weeks, we’ve received several emails on the equipment we use for the show.

Shure Beta 58A (x2): Our main recording mikes for the interviews. (You may have noticed a slight boost in audio quality with the last few shows. These mikes are one of the reasons why.)

Shure SM-57s (x3): Backup mikes, what we were using before we nabbed the Beta 58As. (Don’t ask us what we were using before that!)

Behringer UBB1002: A battery-powered mixer we use for large-scale interviews for more than two people. We can record anywhere on battery power! That was our goal in the first place with these podcasts: a sort of nouevelle vague romanticism of having audio facilities that we could schlep about without the need to plug in anywhere. What, our minds asked, if the power went out and the authors we talked with were in the middle of a stunning story? Of course, with real-world conversations, you simply pull the votives out of the cabinet and carry on. This may be a rather odd justification, but consider the other reason: In a public place, finding a place to plug in is often a pain in the ass, particularly if it makes our subjects have to uncomfortably hunch over or the like. We do our damnedest to make our guests comfortable. Hence, battery power.

This replaced our Samson Mixpad 9, which we picked up used, not realizing that it was designed for live PA situations rather than what we were doing.

Samson Mixpad 9: We maintain this as a shaky backup. Or in the event that all audio production facilities suddenly stop manufacturing mixers. Actually, we’re not quite certain why we still have this. Probably because it sounds like a drum machine when it really isn’t. (Used for Show #11.)

Sony Minidsc Recorder MZ-R70: We’ve had this puppy since 1999, believe it or not. And it’s served our purposes extremely well. We’ve definitely put 200,000 miles on this trusty Dodge Dart, but catastrophically dropped this in a Manhattan subway a year ago. The thing still works, but it does have its occasional quirks, which we clean up in post.

SOFTWARE:

Audacity: Yes, we use this. It actually works very well for a lot of basic cleanup and cuts. And the best part is that it’s free.

Cakewalk Sonar: We can’t say enough fantastic things about this multitrack editor. We haven’t tried Cubase or Garage, but there’d have to be an utterly compelling case to get us to change.

Sound Forge: If Audacity doesn’t do the trick for a specific audio gaffe, you’ll find us firing up this application and doing our damnedest to restore the audio.

FURTHER NOTES:

It takes us at least 20 hours to produce a podcast. That includes booking the guest, reading the book(s), doing the research, preparing our questions, doing an equipment check, conducting the interview, dumping the audio into our computer, engineering the puppy, uploading and promoting it.

Radio Shack is actually quite fantastic for affordable mike stands, Y-adapters and ancillary doodads. It is not so good for mikes. Believe me, your microphone matters!

The better it sounds in production, the less work you’ll have to do in post. So it’s important to get the best signal possible in the field!

Organizing and booking guests is sometimes more time-consuming than you might imagine. But we do enjoy the many people we’ve talked with along the way and hope to meet several of them in person at BookExpo America.

Categories: Uncategorized

Jonathan Ames II (BSS #25)

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Author: Jonathan Ames

Condition of Bat Segundo: Too easily complaisant to charlatan announcers.

Subjects Discussed: The controversial cover of I Love You More Than You Know, self-promotional footnotes, rules for writing, writing originating from unexpected requests, “tossed off” essays, depression and writing, essays which involve the penis, the somber and introspective feel of Ames’ latest collection, Ames’ lengthy self-asseessment of his book, George Plimpton, Glenn Gould, honesty, “throwaway pieces,” graphic novels, fiction, making a living as a writer, Graham Greene, Dean Haspiel and The Alcoholic, comic book scripting, Neil Gaiman, The Extra Man screenplay, upcoming pieces in GQ and Spin, on Ames letting down his guard, comedy vs. tragedy, the audience response to “Midlife Assessment,” Tim O’Brien, an odd and paranoid use of coffee, Ames’ place as a writer, the financial realities of being a writer, Moby, on getting distracted, the burden of email, writing discpline, chicken soup, San Francisco restaurants, Anthony Trollope, Jonathan Lethem, writers named Jonathan, Jonathan Franzen, living life to write about it later, on Ames bringing pleasure to himself (not the way you’re thinking), what Ames has been collecting from hotel rooms, and a hairy call.

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Categories: People

Liz Perle (BSS #24)

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Author: Liz Perle

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Vengeful and nostalgic for bad investment decisions.

Subjects Discussed: The quiet contract, what power means, responding to Ariel Levy’s review, the emotional middle class, lying to partners about money, conspicuous consumption, status, the two tiers of women-centric economics, guilt, women not being allowed to talk about money, describing women with aesthetic qualifiers, money and marriages, how younger women view money, gender income disparities, political obstacles, Caitlin Flanagan, value shifts over the past thirty years, on being a Target and IKEA queen, materialism, working class economics, Larry Ellison, David Denby’s American Sucker, and the “exclusivity” of quotes.

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Categories: Ideas

Kirstin Allio & Dan Wickett (BSS #23)

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Authors: Dan Wickett and Kirstin Allio

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Snubbed and pining for Beelzebub.

Subjects Discussed: The ideal of the perfect sentence, Faulkner, research, New Hampshire, 1920s vernacular, the controversy of Mrs. Heald, drafting Garner, agents and literary fiction, literary influences, Wallace Stegner, naming names, cemeteries, the difficulties of writing about girlhood, and being skeptical about craft.

[INTERVIEW NOTES: The interviews were all conducted by telephone.]

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Categories: Fiction