"I'm more worried that people will think you're a Grateful Dead fan," she said.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
"I'm more worried that people will think you're a Grateful Dead fan," she said.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Becker and Fagen claim that "some hack writer or producer" heard Steely Dan's "Cousin Dupree," about a hormonal houseguest, and "when it came time to change the character's name or whatever so people wouldn't know what a rip the whole (insert explicative) thing was, they didn't even bother to think up a new (insert explicative) name for the guy!"
They go on to trash the movie (a "summer stinkbomb") and Wilson.
"Instant karma is a fact, Jack," the pair writes.
If karma doesn't get the actor, they say, then an apparent tough guy they know might.
"One time we saw this guy, with his bare hands, do something so unspeakable, that — but, hey man, let's not even let it get that way, you know?" say Becker and Fagen.
Larry Solters, a spokesman for the band's management company, declined to comment on any details beyond the letter, including whether Wilson showed up to the July 19 concert or if legal action would be taken.
They also note that their enforcer may or may not have heard of Bottle Rocket, but "there are some pretty heavy people upset about this whole thing and we can't guarantee what kind of heat Owen may be bringing down on himself." I didn't expect that this would be the #2 story on Microsoft's entertainment news listing, but I guess it's a slow day.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The X. It is the Moon Winx Lodge. That X does a lot of work. There is the X that visually represents a cartoon wink. The eyes are X'ed out in death or drunkenness, the unconscious X that mimics the XXX labeling of the jug of moonshine. At night when the kinetic neon of the sign blinks and winks, what flutters on and off is an X of braided tubes. The man in the moon X's out for a moment, then snaps awake again. And why the knowing wink? The X of the unknown or, more precisely, the X of the not wanting to know, the hidden, the disguised, the censored. X'ed out. It is the X of sex, of course, the ultimate rating. The excesses of sex. Or the string of drunken kisses. XXX. The cheesy lodge is a testimonial for itself: The No-Tell Motel. X marks this spot. It now is X-rated. Winx is a kind of poem. It multiplies its meanings. X times X.
I'm reminded of Edgar Allan's Poe's delightfully weird story, "X-ing a Paragrab," about an editor who's teased about his tendency to overuse the ecstatic "O!" in his stories:
'We quote from "The Tea-Pot" of yesterday the subjoined paragraph: "Oh, yes! Oh, we perceive! Oh, no doubt! Oh, my! Oh, goodness! Oh, tempora! Oh, Moses!" Why, the fellow is all O! That accounts for his reasoning in a circle, and explains why there is neither beginning nor end to him, nor to anything he says. We really do not believe the vagabond can write a word that hasn't an O in it. Wonder if this O-ing is a habit of his? By-the-by, he came away from Down-East in a great hurry. Wonder if he O's as much there as he does here? "O! it is pitiful."'
The editor tries to exact revenge on his critics by writing a semi-univocalic article in retaliation, but a rival newspaperman steals all of the O's from the printer, leaving no choice but to replace all the O's with X's:
Next morning the population of Nopolis were taken all aback by reading in 'The Tea-Pot,' the following extraordinary leader: 'Sx hx, Jxhn! hxw nxw? Txld yxu sx, yxu knxw. Dxn't crxw, anxther time, befxre yxu're xut xf the wxxds! Dxes yxur mxther knxw yxu're xut? Xh, nx, nx!–sx gx hxme at xnce, nxw, Jxhn, tx yxur xdixus xld wxxds xf Cxncxrd! Gx hxme tx yxur wxxds, xld xwl,–gx! Yxu wxn't? Xh, pxh, pxh, Jxhn, dxn't dx sx! Yxu've gxt tx gx, yxu knxw, sx gx at xnce, and dxn't gx slxw; fxr nxbxdy xwns yxu here, yxu knxw. Xh, Jxhn, Jxhn, Jxhn, if yxu dxn't gx yxu're nx hxmx–nx! Yxu're xnly a fxwl, an xwl; a cxw, a sxw; a dxll, a pxll; a pxxr xld gxxd-fxr-nxthing-tx-nxbxdy, lxg, dxg, hxg, xr frxg, cxme xut xf a Cxncxrd bxg. Cxxl, nxw–cxxl! Dx be cxxl, yxu fxxl! Nxne xf yxur crxwing, xld cxck! Dxn't frxwn sx–dxn't! Dxn't hxllx, nxr hxwl, nxr grxwl, nxr bxw-wxw-wxw! Gxxd Lxrd, Jxhn, hxw yxu dx lxxk! Txld yxu sx, yxu knxw,–but stxp rxlling yxur gxxse xf an xld pxll abxut sx, and gx and drxwn yxur sxrrxws in a bxwl!'
The editor vanishes in shame--or x-centricity, or x-asperation, or x-uberance, the town guesses--but...
The more common conclusion, however, was that the affair was, simply, X-traordinary and in-X-plicable. Even the town mathematician confessed that he could make nothing of so dark a problem. X, every. body knew, was an unknown quantity; but in this case (as he properly observed), there was an unknown quantity of X.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Since my elementary school report on Pluto, I've been following its fortunes with an eccentric attachment. You think that's a joke, an obvious ploy to get "eccentric" in there, but I've even written short fiction about the tiny planet and its moon, which were discovered in part in New Mexico by Clyde Tombaugh. Somewhere, I have a short story about the ghost of Tombaugh intervening in the Pluto Crisis of '99, when astronomers were considering demoting Pluto to the status of Minor Planet since Pluto has more in common with Kuiper Belt objects than it does with other planets. Wilkinson introduces Brian Marsden, the director of the Minor Planet Center and so-called "emperor of the solar system," who handled complaints from my fellow Pluto-philes:
In 1999, the Minor Planet Center suggested removing Pluto from the list of planets. Marsden got a lot of mail from people who told him that Pluto was their favorite planet. He tended to write back saying that his favorite planet was Earth.
Wilkinson quotes Brown's thoughts on the eight/ nine/ ten/ twenty-three planets debate (here's more from his web site):
"Ten requires the subtlest argument. You add Xena, but why would you, if you have any credibility? Some people think I might like to force the issue, to be known as the guy who found it, but I don't feel that way. When I used to argue for eight, I felt as if there was a public sentiment that you couldn't get rid of Pluto. If you did, you were a mean person, is what it felt like. I wondered why there appeared to be an emotional attachment to an inanimate object that most people who are arguing about had never seen. The epiphany was understanding that people love planets the way they love dinosaurs. Planets are like continents. 'Continent' is a good geological word, but like 'planet,' it has no scientific meaning whatsoever. There is no scientific reason why Asia is a continent and Europe is a continent, and India is not. If you said you were going to take away Australia as a continent, people would not like it."
Since I'm attached to Pluto for sentimental rather than scientific reasons, I'll note that my favorite part of the article was about how astronomers come up with the names for these objects:
In parts of the sky, specific rules pertain. Asteroids near Jupiter called Trojan asteroids must be named for heroes of the Trojan War. Minor planets with orbits between Jupiter and Neptune but not directly engaged with them--not moons, that is--are called centaurs and are named after them. Objects whose orbits approach Neptune's, or cross it, but are not satellites are named for mythological figures associated with the underworld. Brown's object fell into the category including objects sufficiently distant from Neptune that they are not substantially affected by it--the technical word is "perturbed." Such objects are named for figures from mythology that have to do with creation.
Brown and his group thought that it would be nice to have a name from a mythology close to California. They typed into Google "creation god, los angeles, indian," and were referred to a site that discussed the creation myths of a tribe called the Tongva, who lived in the Los Angeles Basin and were also known as the Gabrielino Indians. Brown liked the name Kwawar, which was one of the Tongva's creation gods. Since the Tongva still existed, Brown and Trujillo thought that they should ask the tribe's permission. ... The chief referred Trujillo to the tribe's historian. The historian was delighted, but said that the tribe preferred the spelling Quaoar. The historian was also the tribe's chief dancer, and he choreographed a dance in honor of Quaoar, although Brown has yet to see it.
Brown picked the name Sedna, an Inuit goddess of seas, for a planet so far away it's not even part of the Kuiper Belt.
While it's certainly not impossible for a freelancer to crack Talk of the Town or other sections of the magazine, the odds are still pretty long. Susan Morrison says the section receives upwards of 100 pitches and submissions weekly, while only greenlighting about 10 unsolicited contributions per year. Over the years, she says, Talk's already sparse real estate has increasingly been taken up by the magazine's staff and contract writers. "These days," she says, "there just isn't that much space left after our own writers have written their stories." But every once in a while, a particularly enticing pitch comes over the transom and catches her eye. This was the case with a query by freelancer Erik Baard, whose story, in a recent issue, revealed that a rare and famous Revolutionary War–era painting of a black mariner is actually a clever forgery. The painting, which was slated to be featured at an exhibition at the Fraunces Tavern Museum dubbed "Fighting for Freedom: Black Patriots and Black Loyalists," was in fact a portrait of a white sailor that was at some point repainted to depict a black man, ostensibly to increase the painting's value.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Christine: It was on Pitchfork... I can't believe this...
Alice: Oh. Well, did you see that Carrie Brownstein's favorite writer is Lorrie Moore? That's cool, right? [long silence]
The second stage of grief appears to be indignantly inappropriate nostalgia on Salon:
I've been listening to music and going to shows for more than half a lifetime now, watching indie rock devolve into backward-looking, fashion-damaged pop, while the culture grows ever more unwilling to admit feminism did anything but give women delusion, heartbreak and resentment. In this blue moment for indie rock fans and feminists alike, I need to pay my respects to three women whose noise never sounded like anyone else's and kept getting louder and larger the older they got. I need to see that, like vocalist Corin Tucker, you can be a 30-something mother -- a 30-something woman -- and still jump around onstage and smile and yell and unleash a thunder, that you can also exude joy while being tethered to a partner and a child, because increasingly, women seem to think marriage and parenthood mean you agree to bury yourself alive under a mountain of stuff -- state-of-the-art strollers, art-directed diaper bags, and 12-packs of toilet paper. I need to be reminded that my peers and friends are living correctives to those who believe that it's useless to free yourself from the bonds of biology, history and society, and that you can indeed live a life according to principles that pundits with nannies want to make you believe are quaint unworkable utopian relics of the '60s and '70s. I need to watch three women issue a billowing cloud of noise and in doing so defiantly redefine what it means to be female and an adult.
I liked it better when we were at a loss for words.
I think we can be sad about Sleater-Kinney, but Carlene Bauer's article doesn't do anything productive with the nostalgia except spout some overstated doomsday stuff. If the band made the author feel powerful, can she access that power in positive way that's not complaining? When you write a "X is gone and look at everything that's gone with it," you limit what you can say about X to negative comparisons. When I listened to Call the Doctor recently, I noted how many of the songs are about what you can do with nostalgia (for failed relationships, old rock songs, etc.), and there's not a sense of "this is the end, let me mourn." There's a good discussion of the "end of an era" limitations on the Salon letters page.
The piece is so negative: note all the negative comparisons not only to easy non-musical targets like Caitlin Flanagan, Maureen Dowd, and (bizarrely) Jennifer Weiner, but also to other female musicians like Chrissie Hynde, Courtney Love, Liz Phair, and Debbie Harry. But Bauer shouldn't need to tear them down in order to laud Sleater-Kinney--there's room for more than one female rock group out there. Even the riot grrrl scene gets a dismissive paragraph:
Confession: While I find Sleater-Kinney necessary now, I didn't come to them until 1999's "The Hot Rock." I was never a punk fan, and I couldn't get past the shrill bleat Corin Tucker began with. Also, the riot grrrl movement that they came out of -- lowercased radical feminism that gave men, those powder kegs of violence and selfishness and aggression, no benefit of the doubt -- sounded like dogma couched in terms of the playground taunt, and a sloppy, bratty presentation didn't seem the best way to convince your opponents that there needed to be change. I shied away from the scene for some of the same reasons I finally rejected Sassy: The furious jazz of opinion in the magazine made Seventeen read like Vogue, and it felt, finally, like a sorority of name-dropping queen bees lording it over the lit mag.
It's not like name-dropping for negative effect is any less of an exclusionary sorority. It's worse, because it narrows the field instead of expanding it, as does characterizing an entire genre as "dogma[tic]." The only other women who get positive appraisal in the piece are Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, and Simone de Beauvoir. They don't write rock music, and they're not producing anything anymore either. So why not look forward to people who are doing cool stuff now, or say a few things about the great albums (there's only one song mentioned in the entire column, and that's in the final paragraph)?
And if they're on hiatus, maybe Carrie Brownstein got to see Lorrie Moore at this. I love the line about the bat lobby, of course (link from Bookslut).
Friday, July 14, 2006
Charles Tatum: Mr. Boot, I was passing through Albuquerque, had breakfast here. I read your paper and thought you might be interested in my reaction.
Jacob Q. Boot: Indeed I am.
Charles Tatum: Well, to be honest, it made me throw up. I don't mean to tell you I was expecting The New York Times, but even for Albuquerque, this is pretty Albuquerque.
Jacob Q. Boot: Alright, [sic] here's your nickel back.
He's sent up to Taos to cover a rattlesnake hunt (things like this still happen), but he finds a better story in Escondido, where a man has gotten trapped inside a mine. Tatum sees that milking the story will make his career (cut and paste parentheses from previous sentence here), and he turns it into a media circus, complete with a Ferris wheel. I see from Wikipedia that the story is loosely based on real events. On a lesser but related note, fifty-five years after the movie was made, the desert truck stop hasn't changed a bit.
The movie contains one of my favorite noir lines of all time: "I've seen hard-boiled eggs in my time, but you, you're twenty minutes."
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Try this: a seven-letter word, starts and ends with "A," the clue is "Neighbor of Georgia."
Did you say "ALABAMA"? I hope so. I hope you wrote it in non-erasable ink, in really big letters, and I hope you were saying to yourself, "Jeez, this crossword puzzle is way too easy" while you were writing it.
The correct answer, it turns out, is ARMENIA.
Slate has also put up a section from Gaffney's new book about crossword construction, Gridlock : Crossword Puzzles and the Mad Geniuses Who Create Them,. Gaffney tests his construction skills with two grid-filling databases:
When people find out that I write crosswords for a living, they often ask, "Can't you just write crosswords using a computer program now?" After I finish crying—some people really know how to hurt a guy—I respond that, yes, computers play a role in crossword design these days. There are three parts to constructing a crossword: coming up with a theme, filling in the grid, and writing the clues. Until artificial intelligence makes some serious leaps, humans will do the heavy lifting when it comes to theme creation and clue writing. But the second part, filling grids with words, is quite computer-friendly. It's here that machines have revolutionized the construction of crossword puzzles.
Early efforts in computer-aided crossword design spat out marginal little grids filled with obscure words. But in the late 1980s, Boston computer programmer Eric Albert had an insight while tangling with this problem: A computer could generate high-quality crossword puzzles if each entry in its word database were ranked on, say, a scale from one to 10. An excellent puzzle word like JUKEBOX (gotta love all those high-scoring Scrabble letters) might be worth a nine or 10, while a hacky obscurity like UNAU (a type of sloth that has appeared in crosswords more times than it's been spotted in real life) would be a one or a two. By ranking the words, the junk would be left out and just the good stuff would go in.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Touring through Georgia is at times like examining the scarred body of a battered veteran. Here are wounds the Persians left behind, there's where the Arabs pierced through, the Mongols, the Turks...
Sometimes I fear that modern Georgia could suffocate on all this bloody glory. It's all well enough for the women, whose worth was never based on derring do, but could these men, with their warrior ancestors summoned up at every toast, be content as accountants and bank clerks should the opportunity arise in Georgia?
The most elegant and resigned riposte to this is from Rebecca West. In her Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, it so happens that her Serbian friend is telling a legend about a certain Bosnian village. It's a war legend about when the Turks were attacking and how the women and men of the village came up with a plan that involved the women bravely acting as bait so that the men could surprise the Turks and save the village.
The Serb tells the story, and then he says something that could be precisely about Georgia:And so a man can give himself great pleasure in telling himself that story, and he can imagine all sorts of like happenings... with all the loveliest little ones being brave for his sake, and all his enemies lying dead in the marshes, with water over the face; and on that he can build up a philosophy which is very simple but is a real thing; it makes a man's life mean more than it did before he held it. Now, will you tell me what in peace is so easy for a simple man to think about as this scene of war? So do not despise my people when they cannot settle down to freedom, when they are like those people on the road of whom I said to you, 'They think all the time they must die for Yugoslavia, and they cannot understand why we do not ask them to do that but another thing, that they should live and be happy.'
Friday, July 07, 2006
And here two really weird ones from the Guardian on July 4:
In a column headed Let teary pain turn to bongo-playing joy, page 20, Sport, July 1, the writer, in a reference to the World Cup match between Holland and Portugal, said: "Valentin Ivanov, the referee, made the pitch his Hungerford, and with an insecure, itchy trigger finger dispatched like a whimsical Michael Ryan." This was a totally inappropriate and offensive metaphor, the use of which the Guardian regrets. Sixteen people died after being shot by Ryan in the Berkshire town of Hungerford in 1987; Ryan shot and killed himself.
In a column, High notes may be out of reach etc, page 6, Sport, July 1, we suggested that if Portugal went through in the World Cup, St George (ie England) would be sick as a parrot. Possibly not. St George is patron saint not only of England but also of Portugal (and Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Germany and Greece ... ) (BBC website).
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The murder of the reclusive author Allan Chappelow evokes many responses, the least noble being to worry about oneself. Most novelists have reclusive tendencies, and even the most gregarious disappear for long periods - to hovels in the Western Isles, or holiday homes borrowed out-of-season, as they try to complete overdue novels.
No murderer seeking a candidate for a perfect crime could do better than J D Salinger or Thomas Pynchon: few people have any idea what they look like or where they live, and their publishers do not expect to hear from them any time soon.
(link from Bookslut)
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
My dad and I saw Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man this weekend, and though I'm not much of a fan (one of the weird things that showed up in some of the performances is that there's sometimes little to differentiate Cohen's mordant, self-deprecating humor from, say, the warbling of sensitive singer-songwriters that I can't tolerate. Also, I really can't tolerate Bono. Rufus Wainwright gives delightfully low-key interviews in the film; Cohen is exactly as you'd expect him to be; but Bono over-reaches in his reverence and ends up sounding silly. No more talking, Bono. You too, Edge.), I thought the tribute concert in the film was wonderful. Several days later, I can't get Antony's performance of "If It Be Your Will" out of my mind: I wasn't sure if I liked it for the first thirty seconds, but I was completely rapt by the end of it. Is that style the kind of thing that works best in performance, though?