Truthful speaking would be a simple way to tell the truth, if the truth were simple and could be told.

21 September 2009

Best of the NBAs

No, not that silly basketball stuff, but the National Book Awards. In a similar vein to what the Booker did awhile back (of which Midnight's Children was the winner -- twice), the National Book Award Foundation are asking what you think is the best book with the NBA.

So go here:

Look through the five nominees. And pick one.

I suggest Gravity's Rainbow. If you haven't read any of them, just pick Gravity's Rainbow. It's the best of the bunch. Easily. There's more going on in it than any short story collection. I mean, within the first hundred pages, there's a mad scientist who gets his foot caught in a toilet while chasing a dog through London ruins. The first hundred pages. There's also sex slaves, giant octopi, monstrous aenids, dream-jumping, sympathetic lightbulbs, and a multi-volume study of King Kong. How does that not warrant attention?

Besides, at the time of this posting, Flannery O'Conner's story collection is leading the races and come on. Flannery O'Conner? Even over John Cheever? Or William Faulkner? Not that I've read a whole lot of her, but really she just seems so . . . determined to be literary and depressing and dark and is that what American letters is really about?

Vote Pynchon!

19 September 2009

John Krasinski Made a Movie

Not only did John Krasinksi make a movie, but he also took the premise from a ridicuously difficult source material. Right now in select theaters, you can see Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, the film adaptation of the David Foster Wallace story collection. Signed off with Wallace's approval (and even apparently graceful acknowledgment that Krasinski was so able to tie the different stories together), it looks as bleak, dark, depressing, and all around hilarious as the short story collection, which you haven't read, it's worth trying. Like most story collections, not all the pieces are spectacular and you do get some clunkers, but hardly any of that comes from the hideous men segments (though "Octet" is still hauntingly amazing and achingly discomforting). Is it a good way to indoctrinate yourself to Wallace's work? Sure, why not? It was the first David Foster Wallace book that I ever read, though that's not to say you cannot be ambitious and just go for Infinite Jest or anything.

From interviews I've seen with Krasinski, he seems like a genuinley nice, warm-hearted guy, not to mention remarkably intelligent. Which makes you wonder why he did something like Liscence to Wed, unless he was liscenced for a paycheck, boo-yah. I know he's a great admirer of Wallace's work, which all right is not an ultimate qualification for intelligence, but . . . . Anyway, you can kinda tell that he's put his all into the production of this thing and it does indeed look captivating.

Here are some Hulu videos regarding the film:

I'm not entirely sure how it was recieved at Sundance, but I think it was taken fairly well and hey, why not bring it to more attention? Another interesting note: apparently after the film has had it's small theatrical run, Hulu will be streaming it on their Web site for some time. So it sounds like it might get a bigger audience.

Oh and check this out. You can read one of the brief interviews (which isn't actually so brief and you better get comfortable because this is probably the most compelling of them, the most involved, hideous, and heartbreaking, the closer of the collection [almost] and winner of a prize in fact) over here at The Paris Review. Or buy the book.

P.S. In the behind the scenes video above, what did you think of Christopher Meloni name dropping Mamet and Neil LeButte in his interview (for the Interviews; how postmodern)? Was it honest and that was where his mind went, or could it have been more of a "I know you see me as the muscle on Law & Order and one of the prisoners in Oz, but I'm smart, too, see? See?"

16 September 2009

A Book Review

All right, so we're all well aware now that the new Dan Brown book was released like yesterday. I was at the bookstore earlier and there were seriously enough copies of that book that it was able to support a table, filled with more Dan Brown-ish type stuff. The first print run is something like five million copies and the publishing industry is putting a lot of faith and hope into this, as if Dan Brown can be the savior of the book business, which is unlikely and silly and sad. But I'm willing to bet that the book itself is just a reiteration of that last, big famous one, which, okay, was kind of fun when reading it but afterward was like, "That was the dumbest thing I've ever experienced!"

Still, there are plenty o people out there on the ball and the one-star Amazon reviews are cropping up. Normally one-star reviews on Amazon are silly, whining people who either didn't get the book and didn't want to get it, are simply out to troll and declare that they are like the little boy who revealed the emperor's new clothes (such a worthless piece of criticism and a major indicator that they have no idea what they're talking about), want to make a scene, or just bring attention to themselves -- a lot of these contribute to being one in the same thing, but that's irrelevant. Occasionally you get some honest criticsm, some carefully thought out and well-stated observations about why a work didn't work with a person, but that's about the same as finding someone who Twitters using correct grammar, or one of the few people now online or in general who knows that the word "all right" is never a singular word (i.e. 'alright' [sic]), but I stumbled upon this one for The Lost Symbol -- whose original title was The Solomon Key, which I think is a lot better -- that I thought I'd like to share with you. It's a blast. And see if you can crack it's own little code!

Three years ago, Dan Brown and top executives in Hollywood and the
publishing world assembled Thomas Harris, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, Paulo
Coelho, Jimmy Wales, Abir Taha, and Rhonda Byrne in one room and said:

"Hello and welcome, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight you are being tasked with creating a novel of epic proportions - one that will keep multitudes of airline travelers
mildly entertained for a few hours while simultaneously insulting the intelligence of anyone who possesses anything higher than a Bachelor's Degree in Communications. Gripping intrigue; explosive revelations; multi-dimensional, original and sympathetic characters; realistic, cutting-edge technology; finely crafted and astonishing plot twists; meticulously researched detail - this book will have none of these! Instead, randomly tear some pages out of your own manuscripts, staple them together and have the product on my desk by Tuesday night; we need at least a week to whittle down your blathering drivel into a 120 minute screenplay.

"I'll be on the phone with Hanks' agent negotiating a deal where we send him a blank check, and he reciprocates his end of the contract by laconically intoning his dialogue while stumbling about in a tweed jacket, so just slide whatever you come up with under my door. Remember, it's got to be at least 450 pages - if it doesn't snap the strap of a Timbuk2 messenger bag, it's not literature!

"Someone needs to throw in at least three dozen references to "things people do on the internet" too, please. You know, just try to work in the words 'iPhone,' 'Twitter,' BlackBerry,' and 'Google' every ten pages, that way readers will know it's a taut techno-thriller. And set it in Washington DC. Yeah, like National Treasure 2. People liked that, didn't they? Jimmy, have your boys just print out everything they have on the Freemasons, George Washington and Isaac Newton. Yeah, I know we used him before; we honestly don't know any other scientists. What do you mean your editors don't actually fact-check their information? So it's all just a hodgepodge of hearsay and conjecture? Actually, that's perfect.

"So, yeah, we have to have a love interest, too. And by love interest I mean "woman with whom the protagonist has no chemistry whatsoever." I don't know, a beautiful, wealthy, impossibly intelligent woman who not only is involved in ground-breaking research in a scientific field that doesn't technically exist (but is going to change Everything Forever!) but also somehow gains the ability to make incredible leaps in logic minutes before our protagonist, thereby completely undermining the purpose of his entire character. Which reminds me - we're going to need a villain, too. Has there ever been a 6' tall, rich, muscular, bald, psychotic antagonist with giant tattoos who kidnaps his victims for the purposes of his own "transformation"? What's that, Tom, you don't think so? Good - run with that. Throw in a plot twist about him too. Something that's never been done before. And how about some minor characters as well - an impeccably dressed black man who has keys that open every single door
in Washington, an old blind priest who speaks solely in riddles, and oh, what the hell, a deformed, female chain-smoking Japanese midget with a gravelly voice. Yup, all in the same book.

"Um, ok folks, I think we're done here - Oh, right, thanks Rhonda, I almost forgot - the ending! People have been waiting years for Dan's newest, colossal secret! One that will be sure to rock the very foundations of every society on our planet, destroy centuries-old beliefs and shatter ideologies into powdered glass! Here it is - get ready - The Bible. Reading the Bible will teach you things. Things that every single human being alive already knows, but they don't know they know. But once these things are pointed out, people are going to feel incredibly stupid that they didn't see them before. But they're also going feel uplifted because they now know that they're one with God. Or they're the same as God. Or they made up God. Or they're made of God. It doesn't matter. Just mention "God" and "hope" and people will get all choked up. Abir, you have some experience here - just make it sound spiritual, inspiring, and wishy-washy all at the same time.

"Can you also make sure to bury this Bible in some well-known, but highly implausible location that certainly won't be figured out in the first 20 pages by anyone more observant than a small, retarded child? I don't know, Dean, somewhere in Washington - but it's gotta have a pyramid on top. Yeah, a pyramid, like at the Louvre. Dan likes pyramids, ok? Are there any places like that in Washington? Anything vaguely pyramid-shaped? Just Google it, you'll find something. And make sure a shadowy government agency first tries to stop our protagonist, then ends up helping him using sophisticated technology that couldn't possibly do the things the book says it can do. Just make something up - like time traveling thermal cameras or
something. Or how about that liquid breathing fluid stuff from The Abyss? That's got blockbuster written all over it. No, Michael, we're not actually going to mention The Abyss in the book - that would be utterly ridiculous.

"Koontz? You had another question? Yes, of course - I was just getting to that. Every single chapter should end in a mini-cliffhanger that doesn't actually advance the plot, but instead leaves the readers completely unsatisfied, forcing them to stay awake for another two hours in order to reveal some insignificant and unlikely plot point. Typically, each chapter should end with one character literally pointing out something to another character, but never telling the audience what it is they are pointing at until the reader has consumed at least 30 more pages. Needless to say, the thing they are pointing at should leave both characters either "shocked," "incredulous," or "amazed."

"Everyone knows what to do? Great. All right guys, let's get cracking. Paulo, if you could stay behind for a minute; we found 87 more languages to translate your repetitive, mindless pedantry into. The rest of you, thanks for coming, please pick up your cartons of money on the way out..." Done. Congratulations; you've just read The Lost Symbol. I just saved you $17.00 and six hours. No need to thank me. And if you're still interested in ciphers, riddles and secret messages, I've embedded my own within this review - a diabolical code that I spent as much time crafting as Brown did on this steaming pile of pulp.

--Valannin "Pantheon Outcast"

01 September 2009

These Are Pretty Cool...

Just watch. Hardly any commentary necessary.

Salutatious Dinosaurs

24 August 2009

I'm of the Opinion...

...that there should be a lot more videos like this.

You know what would be fun? Making a movie in this type of puppetry style. We should get on it. You and I.

17 August 2009

Let's Read a Story

This week, the New Yorker posted an excerpt from the other upcoming Dave Eggers book, The Wild Things, which, you guessed it, is loosely based off of Where the Wild Things Are, taking in both the screenplay for the upcoming film, that I'm very excited for, and Maurice Sendak's original book, which if I become a professor sometime in the future I'm totally going to throw on the curriculum.

It's titled "Max at Sea" and really . . . speculations are vague. I haven't had a chance to read through it yet but I'm going to in a moment, I promise.

Since I'm sure there's a whole lot of copyright issues going forth, I'm just going to post a link to the page. And who doesn't want to hang around the New Yorker website anyway? So much to do!

All right, read here.

07 August 2009

Oh Yes, It Gets Even Better....

By which I mean the new trailer for Where the Wild Things Are. WATCH.

06 August 2009

One Fantastic Photo

This came from an article in the Guardian regarding an exhibition about a photographer whose latest project involves people reading. This one is my favorite one, though there's another with an older man stooped outside a New York book rack that's also so...wonderful. This one, however, is simply captivating. To see the rest head you can go to:

09 July 2009

Infinte Summer

Most people hadn't heard of David Foster Wallace until his sad sad death last fall. Like the departure of Michael Jackson the attention that went toward him helped garner interest, so perhaps it's because of that that the a group of readers decided to form Infinte Summer. Not only does Infinite Summer (do you italicize the names of websites or put those things in quotes?) offer a sort of memorial for readers who were fans of the man's work, but it also provides incentive, a group therapy reading session, if you will, to get through DFW's masssive tome (yes, that extra 's' is necessary), Infinte Jest.

Like a lot of other people I picked up my first copy of that book a couple years back, I think my sophomore year in college. I found the ten dollar tenth anniversary edition online and asked my friend, Nate, to buy it for me, with the promise to pay him back (I don't think I ever actually gave him that ten bucks, so thanks bud!). For the next few years it sat on my bookshelf, adding to the weight that sagged down the wood panels or whatever they were placed on. Other DFW books started to appear around it, including Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, both of which I read before his death, so I can claim to the uber-pretentious claim of discovering him before he recieved more attention (though let's be honest: anyone who pays attention to anything that's going on in the literary world, even with half a head turned, would know the name David Foster Wallace: Chuck Klosterman is a pale imitation; Mark Z. Danielewski swiped his excessive footnote use and while House of Leaves may seem fun the first time you've read it, after you discover other things you realize how silly it really is, apart from a few geniunely good moments) but I still never managed to get past page 10.

Actually my most gallant effort came over the Christmas holidays where I made it a whopping 130 pages into the tome (including like 5 pages of footnotes) before giving up.

Anyway, the people at Infinte Summer had proposed that we all read along, perhaps even participate in some discussion, the massive novel Infinite Jest, which is 1000 pages long plus 100 pages of endnotes -- which are very important to the story and if you think you can skip, you better think again. They plan to read 75 pages a week and already are in week three, but that's all right if you're just jumping aboard now because lots of people, if you pay attention to their constant lines of updates, are behind in the quota.

Me being me, I finished the book earlier this week and it did take me longer to read than a lot of other things. It's really a piece that demands your patience and attention. It asks you to make as many connections as David Foster Wallace plans to reveal. And it might be one of the saddest things you'll ever encounter, though the relentless depression is offset by the fanatic hysterics, giving you this amazing balance of emotions, which is a part of what fiction should do. The first 200-250 pages are the most difficult to get through, and DFW gets a little excessive in what he's trying to do, as if calling more attention to prose acrobatics and multi-paged paragraphs than giving us progression. Until page 500, things start getting more interesting and you're laughing and wincing and squirming and still finding bits of the excessivness, the overabundance that DFW probably was saying mirrored the events of the book but there's still a point. From 500 to the end, with only a few scenes that could have been reduced a bit, the book is breathtaking and exhilerating. Truly magnificent, I kid you not.

But this isn't a book report, is it? Or even a critical evaluation/review. I just wanted to tell you about this website.

It's a thing well worth your time and if you're the type of person who needs structure and communion to get through something huge, then it might be perfect for you. Or if you're just interested in seeing the different effects literature can have on different people, read a variety of opinions and interpretations and usually fairly well-thoughtout and reasoned explications, then check it out.


31 May 2009

In a Perfect World

In a perfect world, the new Dan Brown novel would be sliding under the radar: no one would be able to find it, no one but the most serious consipracy theorists would at all be interested in it, and it would be published by some crummy print-on-demand company that would cheaply bind it and overprice it. The fact that Dan Brown can become so popular is a kind of sad, and the reason I say kind of is because while Dan Brown simply exists in a realm of mediocrity or horridness (choose whichever one you think would be the worst), he is bringing people into bookstores -- despite the fact that the books, like the Twilight series, do nothing to make people think about anything apart from or inside the narrative.

The point is: the new John Crowley was released last Thursday and I have yet to see a single bookstore in Colorado Springs carry a copy. Even the indie bound ones, although being indie bound doesn't necessarily mean that a bookstore is going to stock an item. Let's take into consideration the trouble I had finding John Wray's Lowboy, which is very good and I think that you should read it. I looked everywhere, all the indie outlets first, but they were stocking about the equivalent, in terms of new releases, of what is stocked at Walmart or Kmart or Target (the chain department store I like). Finally I found and bought a copy at Barnes & Noble and did I feel guilty? No. But then again you have to take into consideration that this is Colorado Springs we're talking about, a city that's not exactly the pinnacle of culture or thought. The same thing kind of happened with Wells Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned but I eventually decided not to buy a copy of that book and just check it out from the library (I actually did hold a copy today, not from a downtown bookseller, but again from Barnes & Noble).

All right all right, Barnes & Noble isn't exactly the best place in the world either. What happened was this: I preordered the new John Crowley, Four Freedoms, from the store expecting, as with all preorders, that it would arrive on the day it was released. Most times I've preordered, books have come early, which is nice. I figured that with Memorial Day weekend and everything, my book might be a little delayed, but it's almost a week later and there has still been no word on its arrival. I called a store and they said, "Oh yeah, it should be here in 3 to 8 business days." Don't you think that totally defeats the purpose of a preorder? Which is making me frustrated because I've been looking forward to this book for some time already and there's this hindrance.

Also, in a perfect world, no one would stop and record over the first new episode of Pushing Daisies in months for some stupid basketball game. I'm going to find that person and punch them in the eyeball. Several times. Despite the fact that they could probably turn around and beat me up without a problem. Still. It's the principal of the matter. Now I gotta go to the ABC Web site and fight through all the download this download that junk to finish this episode, which was going so good and was a great reminder of what made this TV show such a wonder in the first place (although I hear that it went virutally unwatched: this, however, could be part of ABC's plan to validate their decision to 86 it: I still hope that ABC goes totally under -- once Lost is taken off the air). I missed Ned so badly.

14 May 2009

The New Wilco

Follow the link to listen to the brand new Wilco album, which ups the label of eponymous by being titled Wilco (the Album).  I am not making this up.  

I think with this new record, Wilco, as a whole, are doing a lot to show that they don't take themselves as seriously as some might think.  Have you seen the album cover?  It's like Lawrence of Arabia displaced but happy.  Yet, on this first listen, the music is still fantastic.  I love Jeff Tweedy.  As a group, Wilco are probably the best American musical act out there right now.  Not to say that there aren't any other good ones, but man oh man are Wilco awesome.  

16 April 2009

Pushing Daisies News

First and foremost, Amazon has listed that the season two DVD of the greatest TV show in recent memory is slated for a July 21st release date. That might seem so far off to find out what happens in the last three episodes of the series, but you know what? We Daisies fans have been waiting so long to see these (apart from those who were actually at the Paley Festival) that another three months -- or less if you count from today -- aren't even that terrible to think about.

Secondly, io9 and Sci Fi Wire -- things I don't normally read and only accessed when I typed Pushing Daisies into Google News Search -- are also reporting that the comic book series, which will serve really as the third season of the show, might be dropping before 2009 is over (take that recession). Fuller, apparently, has pulled in most of his writing staff and hired an artist that I've never even heard of, which honestly isn't a fair assessment because most comic book artists have had to won Pulitzers (Art Spiegelman) or drawn album covers (Craig Thompson) or written other novels (Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore) for them to hit my cultural radar. The online comics ABC had up before ABC went all stupid were entertaining enough and I think with the same devotion that Fuller has always shown, these will be fine. The only thing lacking: the wonderful performances of the cast. Chi McBride, for one, is too good for a great majority of the work that he recieves (Let's Go to Prison? I, Robot?).

Anyway, here are some key quotes:

I am going to pull together the Pushing Daisies writing staff. It will be run
like a writer's room, where I will write the first story, and we will arc out
the other issues, which will comprise what we were going to do in the back nine.
We'll also make it accessible for those who are not familiar with the TV series,
as well as introducing villains we couldn't do on ABC. There is a villain from
the Comic-Con preview comic about a guy who got his head cut off. Ned touched it
to get some answers; the body came alive too and proceeded to grab his head and
get away. We definitely want Head to come back as a big villain.

Is the comic book considered season 2.5, then?
Fuller: In many respects, it's probably season three. We're going to see a lot of exploration with Ned and his father, which we teased but were never able to make good on. We had George Hamilton save Ned and Chuck, and by having Emerson and Dwight Dixon clean up the whole mess we're going to understand who Dwight was to Chuck and Ned's dad. Dwight will be making a return, and we'll be seeing the adult Eugene Mulchandani and Danny that involves helium smuggling. There's a lot of fun stuff woven into the series that we were intending to pay off that we can now do in the comic-book series. The fans of the show will see a lot of stuff come to fruition, but new fans will have a greater appreciation, too. Since it's Marvel, I would also love for the Pie Maker to touch Captain America.

Also, some speculation about the cancellation:

The writers' strike is the big bully to blame for the plummeting ratings. There was a writers' strike in 1988, and television shows lost around 30 percent of their audiences. During this one, shows lost 20 percent of their audiences. It was a combination of the writers' strike and being off the air for 10 months.

The other problem was our timeslot wasn't good, since we didn't have a lead-in. When we aired at 9 p.m., we went up by 3 million viewers, which was really dramatic. ABC refused to move us from the 8:00 timeslot, which had worked previously the season before, but after the writers' strike and the erosion of the audience, it wasn't sustainable, so we asked them to move us repeatedly. We would have even taken Friday night at 9 p.m., because people don't watch TV earlier. All the Nielsen ratings indicate people start watching TV at 8:30. That was a big indication, but I certainly don't think the quality of the show went down. If anything, it got stronger and clearer.

Oh, if you're reading the articles, be wary because there's a lot of stuff being spoiled.

12 April 2009

The New John Crowley Book

On May 26th, John Crowley is publishing his 11th book, Four Freedoms, which seems to be more in line with The Translater and The Evening Land: Lord Byron's Novel than it does with Little, Big. Or maybe it is a conflation of everything, that undefinable thing that makes John Crowley John Crowley (check out the Aegypt cycle). Regardless of that, it's another book that I want to read and the second-most that I'm anticipating.

Sorry Professor Crowley, but a new Thomas Pynchon book is a new Thomas Pynchon book....

25 March 2009


This is all over the blogosphere, I'm sure, but goddammit, Warner Bros. just put up the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are and it looks...amazing. Click here for the hi-def trailer, or just watch the YouTube thing, which who knows how long it'll last?

18 March 2009

A Book I Want to Read

I haven't actually read anything by John Wray quite yet -- he only has two books out thus far: The Right Hand of Sleep and Canaan's Tongue -- though I have been meaning to and there have been times I've been at the library and had copies of either of those under my arms, which were shoved out of the way for some other thing eventually, but his newest novel sounds incredible. Starred review from Publisher's Weekly, the top of the list of Amazon's best of March '09.... Here are some reviews, reprinted without permission or MLA format:

I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last reader to herald Lowboy
for the subtle homage it pays to one of the best-known
in 20th century fiction, or to envy and delight in its masterful
vision of New York City as seen from its darkest, most primal places. What's
most seductive for me about John Wray's third novel--and arguably the one that
puts him squarely on the map alongside contemporary luminaries like Joseph
O'Neill, Jonathan Lethem, and Junot Diaz--is how skillfully it maps the mind's
mysterious terrain. This isn't exactly uncharted land: John Wray's Will
Heller--a.k.a. Lowboy--is a paranoid schizophrenic who, certain of both his own
dysfunction and of the world's imminent collapse by way of global warming, could
easily remind you of Ken Kesey, but Wray handles that subtext delicately and is
careful to make Will's mission to "cool down" and save the world feel
single-minded without being moralistic. Wray invokes all the classic elements of
a mystery in the telling, and that's what makes this novel such a searing read.
As Will rides the subway in pursuit of a final solution to the crisis at hand,
we meet (among others) Will's mother Violet, an Austrian by birth with an
inscrutable intensity that gives the story a decidedly noir feel; Ali Lateef,
the unflappable detective investigating Will's disappearance whose touch of
brilliance always seems in danger of being snuffed out; and Emily Wallace, the
young woman at the heart of Will's tragic odyssey. The novel moves seamlessly
between Will's fits and starts below ground and Violet and Ali's equally
staccato investigation of each other above. This kind of pacing is the stuff we
crave (and we think you will, too)--the kind that draws you in so unawares that
before you know it, it's past midnight and you're down to the last page.

Atop that, I found, via YouTube, a great reading, very blogotheque or whatever that is, where John Wray reads his book on the actual subway (it was apparently written there, too; a romantic guesture, I presume).

I also like the further premise of this video:

15 March 2009


So I'm back in Colorado Springs for Spring Break (the ultimate travel spot; I mean, seriously, I pity all of you who went to Chicago or Mexico or San Francisco or France, because Colorado Springs is where it's at, baby) and suddenly have gone through a couple remissions. Recently I suffered through one remission when in a week I watched the entire 30 Rock series, which, because Pushing Daisies has been cancelled, is now the best show on television. Funny, smart, rounded characters (I have a friend who tried to argue with me, saying that I was looking at them on the surface levels, and blah blah blah; yet this is a kid who thinks Family Guy is funny and entertaining and is a biology major and reads Ways of the Peaceful Warrior, so it's really difficult to judge anything he says about characters and stories and effective storytelling seriously), great cast, and just spectacular joke after joke. That was all fixed up with last Thursday's episode.

You know, lately I've noticed that I've been watching a lot more TV, yet I don't actually watch it on my television set, but more on the Internet. is a wonderful Web site, and I seriously found the original Addams Family sitcom from the 60s -- all 64 episodes. Movies are just sort of flying back and I'll watch one occasionally, though I haven't seen anything in theaters since Coraline, which if you haven't seen, I'm very very sorry, and I don't think there's really anything interesting coming out till . . . all right, I'll be honest and admit that I do want to see that new Star Trek, which looks like it'll be a boatload of fun. The Boat that Rocked looks like the right kinds of goofy too, though is it difficult to do a radio movie? I haven't seen Talk to Me yet, but I wanted to. I haven't actually attempted a radio based story quite yet, bizarre considering I work at a radio station. Anyway, I refuse to see Watchmen because I hate both the comic and Zack Snyder, and God knows if anything good was released this week. Scorsese has a movie coming out at the end of this year; that new Michael Mann film looks interesting; and yes yes I'll admit it, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince looks fairly wicked awesome. Seeing as we got detracted from the original point, I'll sum it up at this: at the moment I'd rather watch a season or series of a good TV program (and I am picky when it comes to TV, moreso than movies or books or music) than a single movie.

Another story: I watched the very first Star Wars last weekend, you know, the one from 1977 (though it was the special edition because that's what I have on DVD; honestly, outside of some of the obvious fakeness, it doens't really bother me) and, let me start off by saying that I really enjoy those movies, that though none of the Warss match the heights of the Indiana Jones pictures (especially w/r/t Raiders of the Lost Ark), they're really a lot of fun. But that first one (Episode IV or whatever), dammit, is such a handjob to Joesph Campbell! There was a lot more exposition in that thing than I initially remembered. They don't even leave Tatooine until an hour into the movie, and the picture's only like two hours long. And there's still a lot of talking and plot to get through! Regardless, I like those movies and Han Solo, again a more flattened less badass version of Indiana Jones, is, spell it out, a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

All right. There's this nice break from KCSU, though I do like getting new music. Benjy Ferree released a concept record called Come Back to the Five and Dime, Bobby Dee Bobby Dee, which traces the lift of one Bobby Driscoll, who you might know from giving the voice of Peter Pan and playing Jim in the original Disney Treasure Island. His story is the quintessential child star piece, the epitome of what happens and it goes: as a kid, Bobby Driscoll was given all the attention, actually taken under Walt Disney's wing and was living the life . . . until he hit puberty and his roles dropped off. He starred in a bunch of smaller, more adult (i.e. R-rated things, not pornography) pictures, dabbled in drugs, and in fact devoted most of his fortune to keeping up with the heroin. He ended up dead at 31, his body buried in a pauper's grave because some kids discovered his remains and they had no identification, and there's this legacy all about him. And there's the story for Benjy Ferree's record. "Fear" is a great song, looped in the doo-whop tradition and totally appropriate for what's going on.

The best release so far this year, however, I feel is still the Andrew Bird, which isn't even his best record, but still! Really, I'm holding out for the new Wilco, due out in June, and apparently (through the grapevine I've heard) returns more the the layered structures of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born rather than the jam band sessions of Sky Blue Sky, which was of course the followup (a decade later) to Being There. Wilco in any incarnation are the best band from America so I'm really excited.

Yesterday was the first day I had gone without any form of caffeine in some time -- no coffee or tea or anything -- and I had a headache by the end of the day. Today I had some and it feels wonderful. Like New York in the spring, or so I hear.

I want to share this with you before I go, it's a link through a blog that offers the a transcript of the brainstorming sessions that went into making Raiders of the Lost Ark. I guess if you're making something with somebody this might be the best way to start the writing a major sort of project. If I still wrote scripts and movies and stuff, this would be a lot more revelatory, but now it's just sort of interesting.

Story/fiction/prose writing is a lot more fun anyway. And you don't have to rely on anyone else other than yourself in order to get something done. And budgetary issues are never a problem. Of course, you get another batch of problems which at times have driven me super super crazy, but still, it's all on you to finish the drafts, before you show it to other people, and you don't have to worry about them, while reading the typescript, not showing up for the appropriate times or goofing off too much so production gets pushed behind and then trying to interject to do things that don't match the characters and blah blah blah. Egotistical and God-complexed? Sure. But I should admit that everytime I've finished a story, I've felt more accomplished than any movie.

One more thing: "Ojitos," a short story I wrote and which won me 1600 bucks through a competition has so far been rejected from three of the five magazines I've sent it to (Southwest Review, McSweeneys, and The New Yorker). I'm expecting another couple rejections in the next few weeks, but at least these editors know I exist and one of them did offer me to keep trying. Yay.

02 March 2009


It's no secret that I really really hate the Watchmen comic book. Jason Moses, a good friend, introduced it to me my freshmen year of college and I just didn't like it. Yes, I may be in the minority on this, but regardless. It left me cold, not in the sense that it was Moore's intentions to leave me cold, but that the story deteriorated in on itself, that it got lost within its own ambitions and couldn't find a way out so it pulled the fastest punch it could think of (though this ending was obvious, the clues toward it were sprinkled in later and sometimes felt out of place). The characters want to be rounded, but were flattened in their Technicolor conventions; Moore's desire of vengence and undergrad politcal sprouts overruled any real message that they had; and it just went on and on and on and on and on and on and on, seeming to glorify the fascisim contained within more than the actual questions of watching the watchmen or whatever.

As everyone knows, there's a movie coming out at like the end of this week, and the New Yorker put out a nice little review of it, featuring a passage that ultimatley describes my feelings toward the comic book:

“Watchmen,” like “V for Vendetta,” harbors ambitions of political satire, and,
to be fair, it should meet the needs of any leering nineteen-year-old who
believes that America is ruled by the military-industrial complex, and whose
deepest fear—deeper even than that of meeting a woman who requests intelligent
conversation—is that the Warren Commission may have been right all along. The
problem is that Snyder, following Moore, is so insanely aroused by the look of
vengeance, and by the stylized application of physical power, that the film ends
up twice as fascistic as the forces it wishes to lampoon.

For all I care, people can have their Watchmen, it seems to be the kind of story you love at a certain point unconditionally then outgrow (see: House of Leaves), but, come on, why read that when you have much fuller, much more impactful and important and wonderfully complete graphic novels and comic books like Maus and Blankets? In all, I still think that it's just a dreadful piece and hearing people talk about it incessently, freaking out about it as if it were to be the greatest thing this side of divinity, is getting old and silly.

Also at the New Yorker this week, a couple pieces about dear departed David Foster Wallace. There are plans, rumors brewing, that the segments and notes of his last, unfinished novel are going to be put out sometime next year, which is expected. I bet there's another short story collection in there too.

23 February 2009

Last Night's Oscars

Such a predictable show last night. I only tuned in for some parts and luckily saw the ones that I actually cared about. Of those, there were two pretty good speeches, both coming from the Milk wins.

Dustin Lance Black's was elegant and wonderful, not preachy but comforting and welcoming and just very well delivered. Watch here:

Sean Penn's was a little long on the graitudues at the beginning, but his postscripts were....

Frankly, I don't understand why there's still all this opposition; this hiding behind facades of church and religion; this overall fear of basically nothing. How long do you think it would take people to just get over it? To make them realize that everytime they throw out an attack, make their protesting statements, say their bigoted comments, they are putting themselves in a negative light? Making themselves come off as less intelligent and more wicked? Why do people need to feel this way, projecting their own frustrations and fears onto another group of people that has no true differences than them? How can these people possibly think that they're doing the right thing?

I don't understand it at all.

09 February 2009

A Collection of Silly Love Songs

Check it: NPR has a playlist (compiled from a variety of NPR member stations) of love songs. It's the February fever, which makes single boys like me all the more depressed and liable to write terrible love stories (or re-read the terrible ones I've written before -- who knows? I may post one at some time!), and read things like My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead, which is a fantastic collection and I recommend that you get it.

Anyway, there's some great songs here:

Also, All Songs Considered focuses this week on little known love songs. I haven't listened to it yet, but I have it all synced up and ready, baby.

26 January 2009


Sunday found The Guardian writing, I believe an op-ed piece (I could be wrong) about what makes Obama's speeches captivating, boiling it down to essentially that he knows how to tell a story.

You can read the article here (and you should, it's pretty good).

For instance:

Obama, like a good writer and a better politician, seems to understand that, as much as gorgeous language or big ideas, what matters is story, story, story, a national narrative. That, in a riveting psychodrama, was what he supplied on the steps of the Capitol.

His 18-minute speech, low on rhetoric, was just brutal. He simply slew his predecessor in front of a global audience. It was done, politely, with a surgical efficiency but, breaking with a tradition of inaugural niceness, it was still the visceral, close-quarter knifing of a rejected leader. Among many lethal thrusts, the killer line was: "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."