Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Disambiguations™ for February 3, 2011

I. At the Rumpus, Rachel Khong has a wonderful piece on one of my favorite books—Russell Hoban's Turtle Diary. I like this: "The novel is about sadness, obsession, and giant sea turtles, but mostly it’s about how to be okay." What a book!

II. Hua Hsu on cassettes (in Artforum)—I laughed out loud reading about the gradations:

Even in the 1980s, when the cassette tape represented the apex of consumer technology, its advances—the workmanlike auto-reverse button; various gradations of Dolby; “IEC Type II High (CrO2) Position,” whatever that means—seemed puny, stopgaps to tide us over until we could engineer more elegant solutions.
III. A.O. Scott in the NYT on the documentary Into Eternity, about a subterranean waste storage site in progress called Onkalo ("hiding place"):

Who or what will even be around when the danger of the spent fuel stashed at Onkalo finally lapses? Intelligent robots? Highly evolved molds and fungi? Some kind of alien life form for which plutonium is a source of nutrition? As one of Mr. Madsen’s interview subjects notes, most science fiction looks ahead only a hundred years or so, and thus is not terribly helpful.

The mindbending profundity is broken only by the necessary clarification that director Michael Madsen is "a Danish Conceptual artist, not the American tough-guy actor."

IV. Felt like I had a list of interesting vocab/word-usage-y things, but all I can remember is this bit, from an NYT piece on car-pooling (via Jenny):

People car-pool here with strangers in a practice called “slugging” — the term comes from fake bus tokens, because bus drivers sometimes mistake car-poolers, who often wait near bus stops, for bus riders. Each waiting spot has its own destination, like the Pentagon or L’Enfant Plaza, and drivers call them out as they drive up.
V. Some upcoming appearances—next Tuesday (2/8) at 7:30 I'll be reading and panelling (new word?) at Fordham (113 W. 60th St.) with Arthur Phillips, Mary Elizabeth Williams, and Jim Dwyer. The topic: "Living and Writing New York." In April I'll be reading some nonfiction—but what??—with Deb Olin Unferth, whose memoir Revolution is just out. (More details on both these events here.) Looking forward and slightly backward, there's something in March and another thing in May that I might be doing.

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