Friday, November 30, 2007

As the worm turns

Ouroboros fans! In my new Astral Weeks column over at the L.A. Times site, I discuss Rafael Ábalos's Grimpow: The Invisible Road and E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros. (I give a shout-out to the Erasing blog, but the link isn't operational yet?!)

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Some residual New-York Ghost drama—first from Mediabistro, then from Time Out. (Levi also has a rather hilarious post.)

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Ange Mlinko has a terrific piece on Ashbery in The Nation. Her favorite title: "Yes, Dr. Grenzmer, How May I Be of Assistance to You? What! You Say the Patient Has Escaped?" (I, too, like long titles.)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Strings attached

Those of you who swooned over Joe Hagan's Bill Fox piece in this year's Believer music issue should check out the Driftwood Singers Present for some tracks from The Revelers, a band featuring Fox's brother Tommy. (Woah...suddenly I had an out-of-body experience and thought I was writing about the Replacements!)

And those Driftwooders also lead us to this sublimely bad idea: Dylan interpreted by a string quartet.

* * *

And—WOW—while I was trying to think of a headline for this post, I thought: Strings...Air on the G string...I'm not air?

And then I thought I'd Google around to see if this 7" by a group called Baby Steps could be found online...The title of their (lone?) single "Air on a G-String" clever plays on Bach's "Air on the G string," and it's so great...I put it on the turntable all the time...and now you can listen to it right here! I love this song!

Here's Sarah Chang playing the Bach:

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(Time codes unavailable, because I watched it on DVR.)

--:-- I wholeheartedly agree with this statement: "There is nothing wrong with eating Chinese food on Thanksgiving." (emphasis mine) (Source: Lily van der Woodsen)

--:-- I wonder what Blair Waldorf's Chinese sidekick is eating for Thanksgiving.

--:-- (For Thanksgiving this year, I ate a turkey roasted Peking Duck-style.)

--:-- It would be entertaining if America's Next Top Models ran into the cast of Survivor: China during their "Shanghai adventure," and then Richard Gere barged in and un-yoked them all.

--:-- It would have been entertaining if Richard Gere of I'm Not There had pulled back a branch, only to see Richard Gere of Days of Heaven peering soulfully back at him.

--:-- Chinatown Brasserie on Lafayette: where the food is as bad as the decor is authentic. Note the globular ceiling-mounted, Tiananmen-style surveillance camera--like the one that opens Gere's Red Corner.

--:-- All things considered, though, Gere wasn't terrible in I'm Not There.

--:-- But Christian Bale--was he going for Dylan or W. Bush with that ridiculous accent? Sidebar: It would have been entertaining if the journalist looking for the Bale of I'm Not There had been the plucky bloodhound Christian Bale of Velvet Goldmine.

--:-- Favorite line from a book I read this year: "Don't be ridick!" From G.V. Desani's recently reprinted strobelight of a novel All About H. Hatterr.

--:-- (Wait, what the hay? Christian Bale is British? This changes everything.)

--:-- I thought the Humphreys (or is the plural form Humphries?) lived in Williamsburg. Why are they playing football in DUMBO?

--:-- That Boredoms show in DUMBO was one of the best things ever. And now they're playing touch football there. As if it never happened.

--:-- I can't believe that somewhere on Lily van der Woodsen's C.V. of Life lies the line "once spent eight hours on the Ohio turnpike with Jane's Addiction."

--:-- I need to finish that dissertation.

Extract from my memoir

Wanted vaguely to go to this Sebald panel at the Mercantile, then of course forgot about it until now, but luckily Selfdivider was there.

Incidentally (oh man he's going to talk about Keeler again RUN FOR YOUR LIVES) joining the Mercantile helped immensely during my early induction into the world of Harry Stephen Keeler; they've got a wonderful collection of his work. I don't even know if I read all of them; at least a dozen, though. A recently unearthed datebook includes my noting of the Merc's hours! How many times did I stop by, before work, in order to return a Keeler due on that day, and sit and furiously read the last 20 or 30 pages before handing it over? Well, maybe twice.

UPDATE: As I suspected, I already blogged about my Mercantile/Keeler days! (Cue: Pixies, "Where Is My Mind?")

* * *

A new New-York Ghost is out.

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UPDATE: Dizzyhead Hua returns to the fold—watch this space for his live-blogging of the next episode of Gossip Girl!

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"Gossip Guy"

At the Poetry Foundation, Alice Boone has a nifty Q&A with Sophie Gee, whose novel The Scandal of the Season recreates the milieu and the writing of Pope's The Rape of the Lock. I especially like these thoughts on the tension/problem of animating the inanimate—

Gee: One of the most exciting parts of The Rape of the Lock is when Belinda heads up the Thames on the boat and the sylphs are playing around the sails and blowing on the sails. What I love about it is, if you had a videotape of that scene in real life, obviously it’s not the sylphs, it’s the breeze that’s blowing on the sails. But he manages to give the breeze a kind of translucid materiality, and the sylphs occupy the space of wind. What Pope does that’s very innovative is to assign a kind of animate spirit to inanimate materialism. The sylphs are the obvious way that he does that, but he does it less obviously with the slipper, the bell, and the things on the dressing table. What Pope is giving us is a personified inanimate world, and that explains for me why a poem that’s really rather stiff and not very lively in terms of the quantity of animation nonetheless feels very volatile and fluid and shifting.

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Scotch tape

The final selection in C.S. Lewis's On Stories and Other Essays on Literature (ed. Walter Hooper) is an "informal conversation" between CSL, Brian Aldiss, and Kingsley Amis. Excerpt:

LEWIS: Would you describe Abbott's Flatland as science-fiction? There's so little effort to bring it into any sensuous—well, you couldn't do it, and it remains an intellectual theorem. Are you looking for an ashtray? Use the carpet.
AMIS: I was looking for the Scotch, actually.
LEWIS: Oh yes, do, I beg your pardon...

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Folding stars

New Thermals video!

(Via Brandon/Stereogum)


U & I for the third time

Dizzyhead Jason—our Canadian correspondent!—asks: What's the best thing you've read all year? It's like j'aime/pas without the pesky pas!

Any takers? E-mail: thedizzies at gmail dot com.

Jason's list: "I think it was probably Ooga Booga but also...Michael Tolkin’s Return of the Player (which I found weirdly delightful) and U & I (for the third time). And the latest Derek McCormack, of course, The Show that Smells—coming to a bookstore near you in fall ‘08..."

(Derek is Jason's this rave of The Haunted Hillbilly!)

* * *

Can't get enough of Dizzies Team Member Matt? Listen to his commentary for the new DVD of Gymkata.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A very elegant pirate

I pop up again as "Mr. Park" in this nice Observer piece on author/publicist/New-York Ghost contributor Sloane Crosley.

(Photo: New York Observer)


Burn this

I wrote a rather startling comment on one of Levi's posts!

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Marabou alert

Jane Yeh reads tonight! In London! 7:45! With Francis Leviston!

More info here.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Everything's gone Greene

Love this post over at Selfdivider on the intersection of mystery writer S.S. Van Dine and Kafka...Continuing in this mysterious vein, Levi points us to a note for "The Speckled Band" in the humongous annotated Sherlock Holmes, containing something I hadn't come across before: A possible pseudonymous Nabokovian contribution to Baker Street Miscellanea. (I don't think it's VN's handiwork—I don't think he'd be so obvious as to offer that "Vivian Darkbloom"—an anagram he's dropped into several of his novels—was a fan of Nabokov...i.e., of himself!)...Incidentally, it was the Harry Stephen Keeler Society's Mike Nevins who helped clarify some points regarding mystery stories that cropped up in the Nabokov-Wilson letters...(Is it just me, or is the "Dear x, Dear y" titling format a touch corny?)

Snow crash

More from Jessica Cutler:

I like: olive oil cake

I don't like: snow, people who say they like snow

Send your lists to thedizzies at gmail dot com.


The word for word is...

What's the word for when you first learn of a word and shortly thereafter hear/see it again, in an unrelated context?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Your cover's blown

Saki Knafo reports on The New-York Ghost:

Although Mr. Park had originally envisioned The Ghost as an homage to historical New York gazettes, the newsletter became less about the city and more about whatever Mr. Park found amusing. For example, he started a feature called “Ask the Yes Man” in which readers sent in questions to which the response was invariably “Yes.” Yes was the response, too, when a reporter recently requested an interview, having overheard someone leak Mr. Park’s identity at a party.

—"The Wizard of Whimsy," NYT


Saturday, November 24, 2007


Brian Aldiss in the TLS:

I have come across no reviews of Hodson's book [AD 2516 — After Global Warming]. A couple of months ago, Duckworth published my novel HARM, which airs the fact that Britain and America regularly “harsh-question”, ie, torture their prisoners. A not unimportant matter, surely? It received only one review — in The Times — apart from a long notice in, er, a SF magazine. The most hackneyed crime novel receives attention. But SF is not “beach reading” — not unless you know of a very stony beach.

Yes...but HARM was reviewed in the L.A. my column Astral Weeks!

Unfortunately, the article is no longer available on the site...but you can find it here.

(Via Jenny D)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Psychic Thanksgiving

"Indian summer"!


A tribute to Loren Goodman

Blair from Facts of Life


Blair from Gossip Girl

—who would win???

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds for November 21

What's the "best remunerated poem in history"? Dizzyhead Rachel sifts through the competing author theories for the Christian verselet "Footprints," with some fascinating excursions into the realm of cryptomnesia...Termite Artist Matt on Lust, Caution (smartly comparing it to Black Book) and...Ruthless People?! (invoking Roger Ebert's definition of "idiots")...Isn't it time you enjoyed an episode of Cavemen?...Best line in a recent e-mail: "I'm on my third Sam Adams in the Pittsburgh airport..."...Josh Glenn has a great slideshow on the possible cinematic influence of Winsor McCay's Dream of the Rarebit Fiend...(For one more film reference and some literary ones, check out this piece by Parkus Grammaticus)...Look at how I persist in neither italicizing nor enquoting names of comic strips...J.G. also takes aim at a very specific fetish found in the oeuvre of certain Boston-based rock legends—including my beloved Modern Lovers:

(Bonus trivia: Did you know that David Lee Roth was from the Beantown area?)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You're not here

Hot off the wires: Our man Devin on the new Todd Haynes film (in the Guardian):

Maybe the happiest thing to say about I'm Not There is that it is bold enough to be a mess, and self-indulgent enough to embody the worst tendencies of its subject. That is, it's a failure of the kind that Dylan himself is uniquely prone to committing. —"Bob Dylan #12 and 35 (and 47, and 66...)"

Speaking of which—the latest New-York Ghost features an interview with Haynes himself. It's not too late to subscribe!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds for November 19

Over at Slate, Dizzyhead Jessica looks at Redacted and the meta-movie-ness of recent war films...At Harriet, Steve Burt makes some interesting connections...Landis Everson has died, an apparent suicide...Scott looks for the Brautigan-Jobs connection...First song on the new Jens Lekman sounds like Scott Walker, next song sounds like Bobby Goldsboro!...Still formulating my defense of Cavemen...Arlo sends us a new Destroyer song, "Foam Hands":

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Slap shot

At Bookforum, Gerald Howard looks at Amazons—one of "DeLillo" 's best? (We thought so!)

"Reviews were appreciative of the book’s off-center humor (one inevitably called it “puckish”), and then a sharp critic for the Worcester, Massachusetts, newspaper decided that, simply on the basis of style, Amazons had to be by Don DeLillo."

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Hoop dreams

"Oh spare me," I wail back, moving across the first floor. "Jesus—you think Christian Laettner is going to fit under one of those things?" —Bret Easton Ellis, Glamorama

Squash bucklers

Time to row your pumpkin!

Via Dizzyhead Thomas

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Or get a new tailor

I make a brief appearance in Scott Timberg's article on Mailer in the L.A. Times.


ARC of a diver

What will become of my old, marked-up review copies? Sometimes I have this delusion of grandeur. Then it passes.

(The headline to this post doesn't make too much sense, but maybe Jenny can use it for her other blog? Also someone needs to do a uke version of "When You See a Chance, Take It.")

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dogs aren't safe either!

“Russell H. Greenan is a one-of-a-kind writer, and The Secret Life of Algernon Pendleton is a one-of-a-kind book. Madness, two murders (three, if you count the dog), baroque vengeance—and the whole thing turns out endearing. That's right, I said endearing.” —Ira Levin

But Hodge shan't be shot

The prosecution argued that the cat, which lived under a toll bridge, was not feral because it was cared for by the toll bridge operator. The jury was shown pictures of pans of food, bedding and toys hanging from strings under the bridge as well as images of the cat, a white-and-gray tabby mix, after it was shot. —NYT


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Pillow Book of Parkus Grammaticus

Back when the Likes/Dislikes meme started, I drafted a longish and quite confusing introduction that jumped off a recent viewing of Chris Marker's Sans Soleil and that film's use of the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. I deleted it—basically the point was that the lists of "Things to stop the heart" or whatever struck me as related to the whole L/D form. Now, recently, and coincidentally, both Selfdivider and I've Been Reading Lately have blogged about the I'm off the hook!

(And of course everything can be related to this.)

Two technical notes:

1. Jenny tells me that if you align a photo "left" (rather than "center") in a blog post, the reader will be able to click on it to enlarge. Did not know that!

2. Though I've tagged all the various "Likes and Dislikes" entries, if you click on the tag (try it here), you only get to read the most recent 20 entries. Annoying!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gateways to forever


Raised eyebrows

“Never look a monkey in the eye, never raise your eyebrows at one: it’s interpreted as a challenge.” —NYT


And worms grow from horsehairs

Mr. Stevenson said heatedly that cat fanciers who have condemned him and sent him hateful correspondence “think birds are nothing but sticks.” —NYT


The Connections: Library Edition


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds for November 13

Andrew Lewis Conn has a long appreciation of Norman Mailer up at The Fanzine: "Let us sing of the man’s ambition: that wild, prodigious, uneven, infuriating, embarrassing, brave and blustery and bruising arc, the longest, greatest song of himself in American letters."...Shades of End Zone: "After Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma sustained a knee injury this season, Coach Eric Mangini was asked at a news conference if he knew which play the injury occurred on. He said no.

Q: Do you know which knee?

A: Yes.

Q: Are you going to tell us?

A: No.

Q: Right or left?

A: Tricky. It’s one of those two."

—"Paranoia Strikes Deep, Into Your Headset It Will Creep," NYT (via Dizzyhead Jane)...

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Monday, November 12, 2007


Dr. Who vs. Matthew McConaughey!

Dizzyhead Mike gets in on the likey/no likey action—

Likey: popcorn, outer space, seitan, Lee Perry, snoozin, soup, Jean
Luc Godard, Marx (both Bros. and Karl), Curb Your Enthusiasm, the
Village Discount Outlet, mobile computing, train rides, my wife, "free
jazz," Louis Zukofsky, sweeping, blazers, seltzer, the San Francisco
Sweater Company, walking, Derrida, the beach, pizza, pragmatism,
Projective Verse, brick sidewalks, early Nas, inexpensive sneakers,
potato chips, CSNY (at least the first two albums), local television
news, social justice, Dr. Who, bagels, Nick Twemlow's Karate poems,
the New York Post, 45s, Madlib, leg room on planes, conservation,
celebrity news, Robert Duncan and Michael Palmer's Field Theory
lecture, dialectical materialism . . .

No likey: riding in cars, people who take Foucault's early work
seriously, no exit, mail order, ideology, "Hotel Chevalier," late Nas,
"traditionalists," hippies, waiting, grammar, Fox News, Matthew
McConaughey, Tom Waits, driving through Pennsylvania, repeating
myself, print media, wasting food, sour kraut, turbulence, formal
dinners, books about Freud that are barely about Freud, Brazil nuts,
new age music, Robert Frost, trying to be shocking, strict
rationalists, entitlement, damp weather . . .

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Autumn vs. flight delays

The proprietor of Cromulent shares her likes and dislikes:

I like: black coffee takeaway, red wine, gin, cheese, strawberries in season, macarons, autumn, After the Quake, The History of Love, The Art of Loving, continental philosophy, romanticism, new journalism, Gelly Roll Lightnings, moleskine notebooks, writing letters by hand...

I don’t like: bad subway passenger etiquette (not stepping aside to let passengers out, leaning on the pole in a crowded car, etc. etc.), elevators that stop on every floor, flight delays, slow pedestrians, umbrellas...

(Go here for the complete list...and send yours to thedizziesATgmailDOTcom! The contest is still going! It's not even really a contest!)

* * *

Unrelated: I saw an episode of Cavemen—and kind of liked it?


Creaturely life

This book sounds good...but then so does this.

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Last orders

Four years ago, I attended a Veterans Day observance in Orleans, Mass. Near the head of the parade, a 106-year-old named J. Laurence Moffitt rode in a Japanese sedan, waving to the small crowd of onlookers and sporting the same helmet he had been wearing in the Argonne Forest at the moment the armistice took effect, 85 years earlier.

I didn’t know it then, but that was, in all likelihood, the last small-town American Veterans Day parade to feature a World War I veteran. The years since have seen the passing of one last after another — the last combat-wounded veteran, the last Marine, the last African-American, the last Yeomanette — until, now, we are down to the last of the last. —Robert Rubin, "Over There—Gone Forever," NYT


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Platinum card

Dizzyhead Ben in the NYT:

Rosenberg’s business model at Platinum, which he calls “full-circle commercialization,” complicates the very idea of adaptation.

I think this is one of our Ourobori? (And of course they talk about the Ouroboros in Adaptation!)

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Also in the Times, The Limster talks to Noah Baumbach and others about Margot at the Wedding:

“Margot is me at my worst, probably,” Mr. Baumbach said. “I try not to analyze the characters when I’m writing, but I’m very analytical in my life.” Still, he is more guarded than Margot about voicing his diagnoses: “I say them at home, quietly, to Jennifer, and she’ll say, ‘What are you talking about?’ ”

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Kiddie modernist flatland

Who wrote this about Peanuts?

Never sentimental, never ironic, it took place in a kiddie modernist flatland where every gag was deadpan and every day held its little heartbreak, its little revelation.

Bill Watterson in the WSJ? Nicholson Baker in the NYO?

No—Devin McKinney in the Guardian! Here's some more:

Its title was quickly changed to Peanuts by the head of UFS. Apparently Schulz hated it because it didn't mean anything-were the characters the Peanuts or what? No explanation-hence it's the perfect name.

Read it all here.

* * *
In Britain, [Werner Kleeman] was transferred to division headquarters to serve as a post-invasion interpreter, an assignment in which he would forge several lifelong friendships, one of them with a counterintelligence man named Jerry Salinger, who wanted to be a writer.

“Jerry was just a nice little boy then,” Mr. Kleeman said of the man who would become the celebrated J. D. Salinger. “He was kind of quiet.” —NYT

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Friday, November 09, 2007

"A Dance to the Music of Time" on DVD

Thanks to Netflix, I recently finished watching the 1997 British miniseries based on Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time. I've been wanting to see these for a while, despite some less-than-glowing notices, so when the American DVDs became available this year, I clicked "Add." (I probably began reading Dance around ’97 or ’98.)

The 12-book sequence has been boiled down to four films (one per disc), and thus a lot of the characters are barely there, their presence so brief as to mystify anyone without some familiarity with the books. But overall it's hard to stop watching this series, and each disc is broken up into four or five parts, allowing for compulsive viewing (Oh, well then I'll just watch one more before bed...). The acting is mostly solid, sometimes excellent: Simon Russell Beale (as Kenneth Widmerpoole) and Miranda Richardson (as Pamela Flitton) are necessarily strong in complicated roles.

Otherwise, Dance isn't a roll call of Famous British Actors—John Gielgud, Alan Bennett, and Emily Mortimer are here in small parts, but mostly the faces are unfamiliar to me (a plus). I was especially impressed by James Purefoy, who plays Nicholas Jenkins (the book's narrator) through most of the series. How to be there, yet not there? In the book, Jenkins is a personable narrator, connected to everyone, the spider at the center of the web, yet he's not always forthcoming about details of his personal life—most alarmingly when he writes about his wife for the first time: Wait—when did he get married? (Wife Isobel Tolland is well played by Emma Fielding—a character who sometimes seems barely there in the books.)

The third disc is the strongest; the last one, the weakest, though not necessarily because the final books in the sequence are (considered by some, like Christopher Hitchens) the weakest. No, the reason that disc four suffers is...bad makeup! How do you cast a film with a timespan of decades? Early scenes of Jenkins as a schoolboy are played by a different actor (James D'Arcy); then Purefoy is in the role till the end of disc three (growing a mustache during the war years). Disc four opens with Jenkins doing research for his book on The Anatomy of Melancholy—but it's startling to see him played by John Standing, 30 years Purefoy's senior.

Once you get used to Standing, you have to deal with the discrepancy of other characters who are now played by older actors (Nick's wife, Isobel; Jean Duport) and others (Quiggin, Odo Stevens, Members, and alas Widmerpoole) played by the same actors...but with distracting, comically bad makeup! But maybe it's interesting that Pamela Flitton (Richardson) looks exactly the same?

Remarkably, Beale plays Widmerpoole throughout—from school days to the Age of Aquarius.

Is anybody reading this post anymore?

In any case, I didn't mean to write a long post today—I just wanted to jot down in cyber-ink the titles of Jenkins's own (fictitious) books, which we glimpse at the end of the series, the only time we see them:

The Silent Summer
Mornings in Wiltshire
Fellow Members — a memoir
Knowing the Right People
Paying the Rent — Collected Reviews
Borage and Hellebore

Q: Are the books, save the last one (the study of Burton) mentioned in Dance at all? (X. Trapnel's are.)

That's all for now. (I was trying to get to 12 points, but I'll leave that for another time.) I'm convinced this post is full of errors.

Well, maybe a few more things.

The story of the decline of Nick's friend, Charles Stringham (Paul Rhys), is heartbreaking.

There was one performance that seemed markedly weaker than the rest: James Callis as Russell Gwinnett, the American academic working on a book about X. Trapnel. (Actually: Trapnel's one of my favorite characters in the books, and I wasn't crazy about his portrayal here.) He seems at first to be speaking in a watered down accent (Scottish?) that you realize is supposed to be American! My tip is just to get an American actor to play this sort of role! (This would always bother me in the otherwise enjoyable Jeeves & Wooster series...though I do think Hugh Laurie is good as "House.")

Callis is better known now as the sweaty-palmed, oppurtunistic scientist in the new Battlestar Galactica series. (Imagine Gwinnett getting frozen at the end of the ’60s and defrosted in the far, Cylon-populated future! How's that for a dance to the music of time?)

The very ending of the miniseries is very good.

(Image from here.)

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Personal daze

Selfdivider: "There was a weird phase in my life when I didn’t do anything right and I didn’t want things to go right."

From Erasing:

May I be the first to welcome you to Room 3b. You will find the working conditions primitive, the hours antisocial, the amenities non-existent and the catering beneath contempt. On top of that the people are for the most part very very boring, with interests either so generalized as to mimic wholesale ignorance or so particular as to be lunatic obsessions. Their level of conversation would pass without comment in the lavatory of a mixed comprehensive and the lavatories, by the way, are few and far between. —Tom Stoppard, Dirty Linen

[Footnote: I just moved into...3B!]


Two kinds of recycling

“It’s getting a little decrepit,” Mr. Beeny said of the cutout sign [of Elvis]. If no one wants it, he said, “I’ll make it a working man — repaint it with blue jeans, an open shirt and a tool in his hand. I’ll have a sign that says: ‘Our Mission Is to Serve Others.’”

Much more valuable, Mr. Beeny said, are results of a DNA test that he claims proves that the man buried at Graceland is not Elvis Presley.

“That’s the biggie,” said Mr. Beeny, who has written two books, “Elvis’ DNA Proves He’s Alive!” and “DNA Proves That Elvis Is Alive!” “That’s what really put this place on the map.”

—"Giving Up the Memorabilia, but not the Belief: Elvis Lives," NYT


Song of the day!

Hello, Blue Roses (Dan Bejar and Sydney Vermont) sounds great!

From the press release:
“When I listen to the sound of it, I hear European pastoral music butting up against a harsh 80’s reality,” Bejar says. “The Hello, Blue Roses songs are completely untethered to any of the bullshit streams coursing through the scene right now. That’s just how Syd writes them; it’s not her fault. They’re completely melodious, but still so strange. It’s a product of not really caring what people think, but still caring a lot about people.”

(Via Andrew)


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Against the Grain

I love this—Trong G. Nguyen's First Chapters (The Prince, Faust, Autobiography of a Yogi, Radio Free Albemuth)(2007):

(Thanks to Dizzyhead Sam.)

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Dizzies Newsfeeds for November 7

There's a blog called Vertigo—and it's about Sebald! (Via Selfdivider)...Dizzyhead Hua is on Wikipedia...How about this Barthelme review done in the style of D.B.?...Dizzyhead Andrew is mainstream America...Tomorrow: Come to "Make It News," a symposium at Columbia's J-School as poets, journalists, and critics talk about poetry, journalism, and criticism! Update: For a preview of topics TBD, check out Dizzyhead Jessica's feature, up at the Poetry Foundation site...A 10-year-old speaks 11 languages and resembles Robert Donat (via Paperpools)...Meanwhile a worker putting floral patterns on NYC taxi hoods, with the great name Hamed Fall (like a jumbled hall of fame), is "a Senegalese-born former taxi driver who speaks French, a bit of Arabic, Wolof and Fulani"...I myself speak a little bit of English...rimshot, please...We just bought milk but the milk is almost gone, at least I can read Levi on milk. Here he quotes from Peter Ackroyd's London: A Biography:

It was certainly true that, as Addison wrote in 1711, "People know the Wares [tradesmen] deal in rather by their Tunes than by their Words." The words were often indistinct or indistinguishable: the mender of old chairs was recognised by his low and melancholy note, while the retailer of broken glass specialised in a sort of plaintive shriek quite appropriate to his goods. . . . There was also in the passage of years, or centuries, the steady clipping or abbreviation of jargon. "Will you buy any milk today, mistress" became "Milk maids below," then "Milk below," then "Milk-o" and, finally, "Mieu" or "Mee-o." . . . Pierce Egan, author of Life in London," recalled "one man from whom I could never make out more than happy happy happy now."

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The Sound of Music


Eddie Van Halen

(via Dizzyhead Halterius and the Driftwood Singers)

(The rest is noise.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Best review ever

There are no words.


Cinema cope

At The Fanzine, Scott Bradfield reviews Steve Erickson's Zeroville:

A sort of pop-culture-retelling of American history from 1969 through the early eighties, it follows the life and career of a renegade ex-Calvinist named Isaac Jerome (though he prefers to be called by the weirdly-appropriate name of Vikar.) Raised without any of the usual cultural amenities—television, radio, magazines, and simple human affection—Vikar eventually defies his father by going to the movies. He has a disparate introduction to world of cinema by viewing everything from Blow Up to The Sound of Music, and this turns out to be only the first step in an escalating series of transgressions.

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Boogian meditations

The movie Hostel is meant to be read: Hostile.

Saw is a verb, not a noun.

Tulip Hysteria Coordinating

Leland de la Durantaye in Cabinet on a famous urinal:

When Pierre Pinoncelli walked into a white room in Nîmes in 1993, he knew he was not in the bathroom; he knew the urinal in front of him was marked as Duchamp�s Fountain, and he also knew it was not the Fountain refused by the Independents in 1917. Pinoncelli was not only a seed merchant; he was also an artist. He revered Duchamp and his reverence fueled his disappointment with Duchamp's decision to replicate the original readymade. For him, in reissuing and reproducing Fountain—in merchandising and franchising it—Duchamp had betrayed it. Feeling that the punishment should fit the crime, Pinoncelli took matters into his own hands. He peed into the false idol, and before the guards could overpower him, he produced a small hammer from his pocket and gave the urinal a single sound whack.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Dizzies Newsfeeds for November 5

It's a Dizzyhead Ed-Supp ("Edlife"?!) in the Times: Christine answers your questions....Rachel: “These are the quietest classes you’ll ever be in."....Sweeney on a samurai movie, Love and Honor: "Emotions burble, framings are precise, katanas get polished, and the plot flows smoothly until the ritualized duel that may restore Shinnojo's dignity"...In music news: Psychic Envelopes have posted the track listing for Cryspace, available incrementally on their MySpace page. (The second installment has just gone up.)...The Spinster Aunt investigates old Nancy Drew adaptations....Jane Dark on Michael Clayton: "With his blocky size, his surfeit of charisma and screen gravitas, Clooney looks like something beyond the mere human, like he has swallowed every leading man in Hollywood and perhaps had Casey Affleck for a palate cleanser."...Someone remind me to return my library books....

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Details of a sunset

I loved coming across this glimpse of Nabokov as a teacher, by Barbara D'Amato, on a blog called The Outfit:

In grade school, high school, even college, I read fiction without much—or maybe any—sense of the structure that supported it. Even when I was lucky enough to take a course with Vladimir Nabokov, who led us to focus on details, rather than just coast along enjoying the events, I don’t think I had any sense of structure. That didn’t come until I started trying to write.

Read through the comments for more nuggets!

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The connections: Korean cinema edition

In "The Bong Show," my essay on Bong Joon-ho's first two (pre-Host) films, originally published in Cinema Scope, I mention a TV show that the cops are watching in one scene: Inspector Chief. Man-of-many-hats Mike Atkinson (Babylon Fields! Zero for Conduct! Some novels! Flickipedia!) is compiling the index to Exile Cinema, an anthology of film writing in which the piece will appear; he asked if I knew whether the show was real or a fiction created for the film. A few mouseclicks revealed...It's real!:

Now their upcoming project has been announced: Han Hyung-Mo's 자유부인 (Madame Freedom) from 1956. The film is perhaps the prototype for future Korean melodramas, describing social and popular trends in postwar Korea, along with Director Han's usual eye for composition, innovative editing and filming techniques (he was the first Korean director to seriously take advantage of crane shots). The film was adapted from a work by Jung Bi-Seok, which was serialized over 8 months in the Seoul Shinmun from Fall 1954. It aroused a big debate in the Korean Press over the issues depicted, the morality and social values of the characters, with Professor Hwang San-Deok criticizing the film so much it became even more popular. It starred Park Am - who would later star on many TV Drama, including the landmark 수사반장 (Inspector Chief) - Kim Jung-Rim and Joo Seon-Tae.

The connections: When I spoke to Gina Kim this summer about her film Never Forever, she cited Madame Freedom as an influence.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007


He paid bills by teaching, working for a high-school yearbook company and doctoring books for vanity presses. Less lucratively, he wrote an unpublished history of a train-robbing gang, and 1,200 poems, of which he said five, maybe six, were good. —"Robert Shields, Wordy Diarist, Dies at 89," NYT


Coast to 'Ghost'

Bicoastal book coverage from me this weekend: There's the aforementioned Crowley action in the LAT, and now my review of Alan Lightman's new novel, Ghost, for tomorrow's New York Times Book Review, is online.

UPDATE: The same NYTBR runs a letter to the editor from...John Crowley!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Classic McKinney

In the L.A. City Beat (via MG): "Is it presumptuous to anoint a book only five years old this October a 'contemporary classic'?"

Not when it's Dizzyhead Devin's Magic Circles: The Beatles in Dream and History!

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Big as the size of thoughts

Part two of my Astral Weeks column exploring Endless Things, the final book in John Crowley's Aegypt tetralogy, is now up at the L.A. Times. (Here is part one.)

Endless Things reminded me of the closing line in...either Nicholson Baker's The Size of Thoughts, or Maureen Howard's Big as Life (part of her ongoing tetralogy)—half my books are still in boxes so I can't look it up: "Books open, then they close."

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I was told there'd be blogging

1. So there have been other reviews of Laura Warholic! Check out what Dizzyhead Darren dug up—Dizzies fave Richard Stern writing on Theroux in the Chicago Tribune. It begins:

Want to know what J. Edgar Hoover's three favorite drag ensembles were, or the names of the women who invented the safety pin, goat cheese, the child's car seat and the circular saw, or the kind of patrons a "doom-dark," "cavernous" club called The Sewing Circle attracts? Want to read brilliantly virulent tirades against women, whites, blacks, Jews, Christians, Generation X, the U.S. and mankind a la Alexander Pope's "Dunciad" and Juvenal's satires?

If so, the novel "Laura Warholic; or, The Sexual Intellectual" is the book for you.
(Can't find a link, but will e-mail the text if you like.)

2. Why I love country music: The Sweenster on Porter Wagoner:

I feel especially lucky because my wife and I were able to see him perform twice this year—once at the Opry on our trip to Nashville, and again at MSG when he opened for The White Stripes, which we saw the night after we were married. Porter was there for us when we needed him...

3. Via Hua, Buffalo's own Mercury Rev covers "Isolation."

4. Excited about these recent arrivals on the new doorstep—two less similar books, there can not be!: Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake and Lynne Sharon Schwartz's Emergence of Memory: Conversations With W.G. Sebald.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Late-day post

New Believer is out—the incredible visual issue! Sheila Heti interviews Dave Hickey...Claudine Ko talks to Ai Weiwei...temporary tattoos...Paul Collins...Alexander Provan on Las Vegas carpetry and Dizzyhead Fhyll on Eileen Chang...the first review I've read of Alexander Theroux's massive new novel Laura more Dave Hickey...and more more more, it's really good!

And the new New-York Ghost is out—the incredible letters issue!

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