Archive for July, 2008
Mike Edison appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #226. Edison is the author of I Have Fun Everywhere I Go.
Condition of the Show: Reinvestigating the purported death of Bat Segundo. (See also Show #199.)
Author: Mike Edison
Subjects Discussed: [List forthcoming]
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: First off, you have a lot of critical things to say about a lot of people.
Edison: I name names, brother!
Correspondent: Yeah, I know. But there’s a lot of shit-talking going on.
Edison: You think?
Correspondent: And I’m wondering if this book was written out of revenge or what?
Edison: Absolutely not. I mean, you know, I feel sorry for the people who weren’t nice to me in the last twenty years of my career. But, no, this was not written from a point of view of malice. That’s not a place to write a book from. The book’s a celebration. And, of course, a few people crossed me over the years and I do kind of take joy in sticking pins in them now. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there weren’t. But success is the best revenge. And history is written by the winners.
Correspondent: You consider yourself a success? You’re writing your own history here?
Edison: I’m on your radio show. I think there’s no greater sign of success than that.
[John Fogerty] once immortalized [Saul] Zaentz in a song called "Zanz Kant Danz," while Zaentz countered with a plagiarism lawsuit, claiming that Fogerty's solo song "The Old Man Down the Road" ripped off the Creedence hit "Run Through the Jungle." The litigation went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. —Reuters (Yahoo)
Peter David appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #225. He is most recently the author of Tigerheart and the Incredible Hulk novelization.
Condition of the Show: Investigating claimed nemeses of Goliath.
Author: Peter David
Subjects Discussed: [List forthcoming]
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: I’m wondering though if there has ever been an instance in your comic career, in which an editor has come to you and said, “Hey, Peter, the sales for this particular title are flagging. What can we do to raise things up?” Has this ever an influence?
David: Sure. Of course it’s an influence. I mean, look, when it comes to — particularly my work-for-hire material — my job at the end of the day is to do two things. As far as the publisher is concerned. This is purely my job as far as the publisher is concerned, okay? Number one: Turn in a publishable script. And number two: Do everything that is within my power to write a book that will sell. Okay? Because I could turn in absolutely kickass scripts that aren’t going to sell for crap. But I feel to a certain degree that part of my job is to try and do everything I can to keep the book marketable. I’ve been doing that my entire comic book career. When I was writing Hulk, during my initial twelve-year run, I regularly had access to sales figures ahead of time. Three, four months ahead of time. Because that’s how far ahead we were soliciting. And they were incredibly instructional. Because what would happen is, I would be aware of a sales drop months ahead of time. Months ahead of time. So that I would have the Hulk in a particular incarnation going through a particular series of events. If I saw sales starting to flag, I’d say to myself, “Okay. That incarnation of the Hulk seems to be running its course. Time to come up with something else.”
So if you want to have an idea of when sales were starting to drop during my twelve-year run, at any particular time, look to a point where the Hulk undergoes some kind of transformation, backdate yourself about six months and that’s when I was looking at the sales figures, going, “Okay. We have a drop.” The problem nowadays is that we don’t know sales figures until after the book is already on the stands. So instead of having a three to four month early warning system, so that I can course correct ahead of time, we are always behind the curve by three to four months. Because we don’t know the sales numbers until at least two months after the book has come out. I mean, you know, we see the sales numbers on ICv2 or whatever it is. That’s when I see the sales numbers. We see those sales numbers come out two to three months after the book is on the stands, plus we’re soliciting three months down the line. So you can find yourself in free-fall before you’re aware of the fact that you’ve got any kind of attrition problem. Because every book’s always going to have attrition. Every book. Every book. There’s no stopping it. There’s always going to be. You’re going to get a build. And then it’s going to level off. And then it’s going to start to drop. Always. No matter what the book is. Always. The thing I was able to do on Hulk is, when I saw it start to drop, I would say, “Okay. Time to do something different.” And I could come up with a new angle on The Hulk that would boost sales. Because we’d have people going, “Oh, they’re doing something new and different with The Hulk? Let’s see.” As it is, I can’t course correct. And it’s incredibly frustrating.
Correspondent: But I’m also wondering if some of the stuff that you do with, say, Fallen Angel — I mean, you had a post on your blog recently in which a gentleman couldn’t purchase it from his neighborhood comic store. Because he was the only person purchasing the issue.
David: Buying it, yeah.
Correspondent: So for something like this, is Fallen Angel more of an unfettered territory to write in?
David: It’s unfettered territory. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see sales be brought up.
Transcriptease offers a very helpful summation on the racist shenanigans of Helix editor William Sanders. For those who missed out on this piece of news, writer Luke Jackson sent Sanders a story. The story featured Muslim characters. Sanders rejected it, noting in his rejection letter, “You did a good job of explaining the worm-brained mentality of those people.” The email then made the rounds on several science fiction sites. And several Helix contributors asked for their stories to be removed from the Helix archives.
Rather than perform the gentlemanly act and apologize for his mistake, Sanders issued an ultimatum to his contributors. If they wished to remove their stories from the archive and did not express their wish to do so within a month, they would be forced to pay $40 to have it removed later. Soon, Sanders retracted this offer and declared that nobody could have their stories removed at all.
Assuming that there is no written instrument, Sanders is in no position to make such demands of his contributors.
The question that nobody has asked here is whether any of the Helix contributors ever signed a contract or another written instrument upon having their stories appear in Helix. Sanders’s magazine lists all of the contents as falling under the copyright of Helix. This itself is fallacious, because according to Helix’s website, Helix is published by the Legends Group, which is described as an unincorporated association. Since Helix is based in Maryland, according to the Maryland Business Regulation Code, § 19-201, it can therefore be described as an organization. Therefore, if the copyright notice on the site is valid, should not the copyright read “©2008 The Legends Group” instead? And if The Legends Group has performed due diligence, then surely this would be reflected at the Register of Copyrights, right? After all, § 409 of United States Code, Title 17, states that each application for copyright must contain “(10) in the case of a published work containing material of which copies are required by section 601 to be manufactured in the United States, the names of the persons or organizations who performed the processes specified by subsection (c) of section 601 with.”
But over at the Library of Congress’s public catalog, we discover no such notices for these stories by either Helix, The Legends Group, or William Sanders. Searches for “Legends Group” and “The Legends Group” reveal no registered copyrights. And searches for “Helix” or “Sanders William” do not match up with any of the stories listed on the Helix site.
If the Helix contributors simply sent in their stories into Sanders and he agreed to publish them, and there was no contract, then this means that they retain the unregistered copyrights for their stories, and Sanders is in violation. If Sanders did not have a written instrument in place specifying that there was a transfer of copyright to Helix, then the copyright belongs to the author. Which would mean that the author controls whether or not the story appears on the website. To cite the specific code section under §204 of Title 17:
(a) A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner’s duly authorized agent.
Of course, to uphold Sanders’s numerous copyright violations, the stories would need to be registered. If the writers who wish to have their stories removed from Helix were to register their stories with the Copyright Office, then Sanders be in clear violation of copyright and damages could be pursued.
Either way, Sanders does not come out of this looking well at all. The best thing for him to do is to remove any stories that authors wish for him to remove. And if Sanders cannot perform this basic courtesy, then the writers have the obligation to register their stories with the Copyright Office and take up the dispute in court to collect the dutiful damages that come from being associated with a racist editor.
This tendency is exacerbated by the fact that
a) I moved seven times in two and a half years
b) in a hasty move, which they always are, I'll throw all the remaining stuff into a box at the last minute, allegedly to be later unpacked, which it never is
c) whenever a pile of papers accumulates in my room or coffee table or kitchen chair, my quick-clean solution is to toss them into a box in the capacious garage/studio.
Now I have to deal with it.
Nothing in the world stirs up the emotional sediment more than moving. Any song I play, regardless of genre, can make me teary. That kind of goes for everything I do, actually. And it doesn't matter that I'm not leaving my house for good, that my things will remain stored here, that I'm leaving for a place I'm thrilled to be headed to, and that I'll be back in less than a year.
There is something about Going Through Stuff.
Old homes, old story drafts, old tickets, old programs, old lists, old lovers, old photos--photos I took, photos others took, photos sent to me across the country, the letters, oh the letters. Old tapes, VHS, cassettes, floppy disks, hard disks, ZIP disks, obsolete technology, all-access passes, address books never filled before becoming obsolete, an old Mac Powerbook from 1993, old journals, old trinkets, old boxes, old papers, old receipts, old bills, old statements, old promises, old articles, old scraps of writing, old love. Old life.
The old life is still in me of course; it can't be returned to, but neither can it be obliterated. All these scraps and files and shoddy archives overcompensate on both counts. The archiving impulse is a weak little fist shaken against mortality and forgetting. Universe: I was here, and I remember!
And I have the magnetic refrigerator calendar from Le Gamin in the East Village from 2003 to prove it.
- Primarily, the pill prevents ovulation. No egg, no chance of pregnancy. Most months, a woman taking the pill won't release an egg.
- The pill changes your fallopian tube motility. If an egg is released, the pill makes it harder for it to travel to the uterus.
- The pill thickens your cervical mucus. This thickening makes it difficult for sperm to get to an egg if one is there.
- The pill alters your uterine lining. So if an egg was released, and if it manages to get through the fallopian tube, and if sperm were able to get to the egg, and if the egg was then fertilized--and that's a whole lot of ifs--the different lining makes it harder for a fertilized egg to implant. So at no point does the pill interfere with a fertilized egg: it just makes it less likely that the egg will land and become a pregnancy. It is this function of the pill that causes such a ruckus among those who hold that disruption of implantation is the same as an abortion--even though this function of the pill rarely comes into play.
WCBS: “Cephus said he was bringing ice into a park, when he encountered two police officers checking for liquor. He dropped his bag, and says he was hit 10 to 12 times on the shoulder and upper arms, before a bystander’s camera even started.”
Amazingly, Police Union President Patrick Lynch claims this to be an appropriate amount of force. And while the officer involved has not been suspended, he has been confined to desk duty.
This violence comes only a day after a NYPD officer assaulted a Critical Mass cyclist, brutally pushing him from his bike while he was simply riding down the street.
The officer who assaulted Cephon is Michael Harrington. The officer who assaulted the cyclist is Patrick Pogan, and even Mayor Bloomberg believes Pogan went over the line.
Proving once again that its editorial team now prefers thoughtless and narcissistic essays over writing that chronicles the human condition, the Atlantic has commissioned Ann Patchett to throw a pity party about book tours. Look, if you’re an author and you can’t be bothered to have a bit of fun with a book tour, then you should either (a) insist on no book tours (as Denis Johnson and John Twelve Hawks have) or (b) stop bitching and moaning. Unless you suffer from Asperger’s or a Napoleon-like hubris, it takes exceptionally little skill to listen to someone and to remain patient even when a person has a predictable question that you’ve been asked four hundred times. (And besides, people are damn interesting, even when they ask obvious questions.) If you have any kind of brain, you can turn that question around into something complex and get the reader to think differently. A novel of yours from six years gets discussed? Tough titty, sweetheart. Once you’ve released the books to the public, they are no longer yours. Works you may deem greater or more significant won’t necessarily be what the audience deems greater or more significant. And what’s wrong with that? I don’t care if you’ve won the PEN/Faulkner or the Nobel. If you can’t appreciate the privilege of a literary life, then you deserve all the flack you get.
Robots and Monsters is finally done: above is the last one. Almost 200 drawings by myself, plus 35 by some fabulous contributors. Thanks to everyone who donated, devoted time to it, and helped out, be it blogging, drawing, helping mail or just looking. I, and more so, the people helped by the 12 K raised for AIDS support and research, very much appreciate it. Thanks.
So what's next? A bunch of stuff, most of which I'd rather not talk about for fear of jinxing it: let's just say this isn't the last you've heard of the project. One thing I can say is that the site will reopen soonish...as you or may not know, I am getting married in a few months, though, so if it takes a little longer to get back up to spped don't be surprised (note the lack of blogging for evidence of the awesome timesuck this seems to require.)
Thanks again, everyone!
I love the covers of international editions of our books—this is particularly delightful. A free copy of the English-language edition of this to the first person to e-mail me the English title.
A List Apart, the ne plus ultra site and community for people who make websites is doing an annual survey to learn more about the people in the larger web community. If you make websites, please take their survey.
“The pure examples of Camp are unintentional; they are dead serious,” Susan Sontag wrote in her famous essay “On Camp.” “The Art Nouveau craftsman who makes a lamp with a snake coiled around it is not kidding, nor is he trying to be charming. He is saying, in all earnestness: Voila! the Orient!”
And so, in all earnestness: Voila! the Olympic spirit, as reflected by the ceremonial outfits of the Canadian and Australian athletes. And Voila! the Orient, too, as the Canadian designers incorporated Chinese motifs in their clothes to honor the setting of the ’08 Games.
O, Canada: oh, my [...]
The long-awaited moment—something the three of us have been dreaming about since standing together in a parking lot in Normal, IL nearly two years ago—has finally arrived: the first copies of Open Letter’s first book, Nobody’s Home by Dubravka Ugresic, showed up this morning at Open Letter Plaza on the bucolic campus of the University of Rochester. We couldn’t be any more excited.
Here is the package:
You can see the books peeping out, just waiting to take a look around their new home:
Here they are, shrink-wrapped for safe keeping. Can they breath in there?
That’s better. Spines out, like you’d do it on a book shelf:
A first look inside:
And Milan, the designs look great on the finished books:
And, while I'm at it, here's a funny post on Storm from Rocco at What's Good/What Blows. I agree that Karl Miller is hott.
I’m not a huge fan of generation-based generalization, or people who make a living from such generalizations, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by an assertion by Neil “Millenials” Howe in a recent Q&A with Brandweek. Here’s the bit, with the key parts bolded:
I think that millennials are capable of regenerating the whole notion of the big brand. The idea of the big brand went into decline with the Gen Xers and certainly during the late boomer period. Gen X was a generation that didn’t even want to be thought of as a generation, and it had a lot of little niches. There was never a Top 40 group of songs everyone listened to, and the generation is spread out in terms of wealth. They were cynical toward anything that was big, and this gave rise to niche and viral marketing. The whole concept of the Long Tail is perfectly designed for Gen X.
With millennials you’re returning to the fatter portion of the bell curve. This is a generation that wants to feel that they do have a center of gravity. So you’ll see the emergence of huge brands with this generation. Look at [what happened with] Harry Potter. Think of the idea of the big brand as being a dimension of the return to community.
I’m not sure if I agree, but it’s refreshing to encounter an angle on the mass-vs.-niche discussion that isn’t just about technology. It’s undeniable that technology has fractioned the marketplace, and will presumably continue to do so – but culture is affected by other factors, too. Possibly this is one of them.
What do you think?
I’ve been sitting on this link for a while but I figure it’s worth tossing out here. Secrets of book publishing I wish I had known what authors should know about how most (not all) publishers work.
[Images: Boston's Big Dig, before and after].
The project, however, was plagued with engineering difficulties, cost over-runs, and the periodic collapse of public support (even the periodic collapse of the ceiling).
From the Globe:
- In the short term, mental health experts say, tempers may flare as the public deals with the logistical inconvenience of detours, lingering uncertainty about the safety of the tunnels, and mounting cynicism about the project. (...) And there may be long-term effects as well – ones that could subtly reshape the city's identity.
A new tunnel, say, is being dug between Manhattan and New Jersey, so moods in the city begin to change. Psychiatrists notice a strange surge in patients; people come in complaining of nightmares of forced reunion, being in the same room again with an annoying relative they thought they'd left long ago behind. Homeowners wake up at 3am each night, convinced someone's trying to break into the basement. The whole island is ill at ease.
And it's all because of that new tunnel getting closer and closer to completion.
Or, say, a new flood barrier is under construction outside London – a gleaming wall of metal that will rise from the tidal murk. Would it change the dreams of city residents? Would this distant piece of hydro-infrastructure affect how Londoners feel about their city – or about themselves? A new confidence. Dreams of survival. Psychoanalysts report that no one dreams of drowning anymore.
On one level here, the answers are both uninteresting and obvious: of course, these sorts of projects would affect the dreams, thoughts, and nightmares of a city's residents – after all, those new landmarks would be a part of the world these people live within.
But a less obvious, or less easily tracked, impact might be postulated here – that, say, a new bridge between San Francisco and Oakland might subtly change how San Franciscans think about their peninsular city, and that this only becomes obvious in retrospect, when someone notices that prescription rates have changed or the divorce rate has plummeted.
It was the psychiatric implication of a new bridge that did it.
Put another way, if a new highway can have a measurable, and easily detected, impact on a city's economic health and administrative well-being, then could a new highway – or bridge, or tunnel, or flood wall, or, for that matter, sewage treatment plant – have a detectable impact on the city's mental health? After all, these sorts of massive public works "may carry a psychological burden," the Boston Globe wrote back in 2006.
It's the psychiatric infrastructure of the city.
(Thanks to Josh Glenn, Eric Fredericksen, and the Hermenautic Circle for the Boston Globe link).
Things are pretty quiet event-wise. Everyone’s on vacation or enjoying lazy days without the hustle and bustle of students, teachers and customers. See, that’s one upside to a sour economy.
I’ve been checking out the latest local library news.
- City of Glendale Library Hours Reduced-As threatened during the City budget crisis, local libraries are restricting hours for access. Glendale Public Library just posted their new schedule:
- In December 2008, UCLA will display its complete collection of artists’ books commissioned by the Norton Family Christmas Project. You’ve got to see Kara Walker’s–it’s an amazing pop-up book with movable parts.
- UCLA’s acquired lots of cool new books:
- The Charles Young Research Library’s Toy and Moveable Book Collection is a remarkably well-preserved edition of the Mammoth Menagerie (Essingen, Germany, late 1880s). This charming book consists of six chromolithographed pop-up illustrations, including men riding camels, an aquarium depicting undersea life, a lion tamer, and tropical birds in a jungle setting. It was purchased with funds from the Theresa G. Aaron Endowed Collection in Children’s Literature.
- The department has also purchased a scarce copy of Sketches in the History of the Underground Railroad, Comprising Many Thrilling Incidents of the Escape of Fugitives from Slavery, and the Perils of Those Who Aided Them (New York, 1879) by Eber Pettit, a deacon in the Fredonia (New York) Baptist Church who was for many years a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
- Donated by her nephew, Charles Matthews, UCLA just received the personal papers of UCLA alumna Miriam Matthews (1905-2003) which records her eventful life as the first credentialed African American librarian in the state of California. “During her thirty-three-year career with the Los Angeles Public Library, she was involved with organizations concerned with censorship and the freedom to read, libraries, archives, health, education, youth problems, civil rights, and black history. She was among the first to promote the celebration of Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month.”
- Also over at the Charles E. Young Research Library, the Research Library has licensed the online Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Burney Collection Newspapers, which contains newspapers and news pamphlets gathered by the Reverend Charles Burney (1757-1817). The largest single collection of English news media from this era, it features items published mostly in London, though there are also English provincial, Irish, and Scottish papers and a few examples from the American colonies, Europe, and India. Many students and professors requested access to this collection.
Recently I did a Q&A with GoodReads, for its newsletter. I enjoyed this one because it included a few questions very different from those I’m usually asked. Like this:
Q: Despite having multiple websites and a weekly column all jam-packed with your writing and ideas, a publicity headshot is nowhere to be found. Your readers also have to dig pretty deep to find any kind of biographical information. You don’t include anything like the “I grew up here and had these formative experiences” bio that is so common on writer sites. Are you shy or is this all part of a larger scheme of marketing yourself as a writer?
Here’s the whole Q&A.
(** As mentioned earlier, I’ll be answering questions (or criticisms, or whatever) from anybody who joins this GoodReads discussion group and chimes in. That’s August 11-24, but you can join and post questions or make comments anytime.)
As of this morning, no matter what you search for in the books section of Amazon.com — “Plato,” “gardening,” “self-help,” “ultimate fighting” — the first item that pops up is J.K. Rowling’s “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.” It’s kind of creepy. At first, you wonder what’s going on.
Rights to the bookOne of seven nearly identical copies of the original “Beedle the Bard” books, hand-written by Rowling and intended as gifts for friends and family members, was bought by Amazon last December for a reported $4 million — with the proceeds going to charity. Mass-produced versions will be available exclusively from Amazon this December. Currently you can only pre-order them. Clearly the company has an incentive to recoup its investment, but thisThis approach to advertising seems awfully heavy-handed and likely to inspire a backlash — if not among the Harry Potterites then among enforcers of web etiquette.
The least Amazon could do would be to label the search result as a special advertisement. That’s what other search-engine proprietors do in comparable situations.
Looking for a book on Amazon today? You can’t avoid this one
UPDATE: A scant two hours after I blew the whistle on this, it’s no longer happening. Now that’s accountability journalism! (No, I’m sure there was no cause and effect. I’ll try to find out what actually happened.)
UPDATE 2, 3:45 p.m.: An Amazon spokeswoman tells me the company would never promote a book in this way. “If you’re looking for a Plato book, you should get a Plato book in your search.” She was unaware of any search-engine glitch that would produce the result I saw, but I’ve asked her to investigate further. I wasn’t hallucinating!
Meanwhile, she points out errors in my original posting (fixed above): Amazon bought one of Rowling’s hand-crafted “Beedle the Bard” books last year at a charity auction. It did not buy the rights to the book. All proceeds from the sale of the mass-produced versions, which will be sold exclusively by Amazon, will also be going to charity.
As of this morning, no matter what you search for in the books section of Amazon.com — “Plato,” “gardening,” “self-help,” “ultimate fighting” — the first item that pops up is J.K. Rowling’s “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.” It’s kind of creepy. At first, you wonder what’s going on.
Rights to the book, a supplement to the Harry Potter series (though not truly a part of it), were bought by Amazon last December for a reported $4 million, and it will be available this December. Currently you can only pre-order it. Clearly the company has an incentive to recoup its investment, but this approach seems awfully heavy-handed and likely to inspire a backlash — if not among the Harry Potterites then among enforcers of web etiquette …
I thought this blog post containing a librarian’s response to a challenge to the book Uncle Bobby’s Wedding — an easy reader book that has a gay wedding in it — to be a model of responsiveness and informativeness and, at the same time, upholding the policies and procedurs of the library with politeness and compassion.
Finally, then, I conclude that “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” is a children’s book, appropriately categorized and shelved in our children’s picture book area. I fully appreciate that you, and some of your friends, strongly disagree with its viewpoint. But if the library is doing its job, there are lots of books in our collection that people won’t agree with; there are certainly many that I object to. Library collections don’t imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life.
There’s a lively discussion going on in the comments sections as well as on MetaFilter which is where I first read about it. Nicely done, Jamie Larue.
Lots and lots and lots on George Pelecanos as THE TURNAROUND is released this week. Paper Cuts asks for his current playlist, the Philadelphia City Paper has a lengthy Q&A (with tidbits on his next book, possibly inspired by HARD RAIN FALLING by Don Carpenter which is fantastic and yes, it should be reissued) and Janet Maslin has her say as well.
Creative Loafing catches up with Karin Slaughter about writing violence, her new series and an independent streak active from childhood. Nashville Scene has a ruler-centric review of her latest, FRACTURED.
The AP likes the promise Marcus Sakey shows with his new and excellent thriller GOOD PEOPLE.
The Peninsula Daily News plumbs the bestseller depths of Aaron Elkins.
USA Today's Carol Memmott rounds up new thrillers by Christopher Reich, Tana French, Julie Kramer and Meg Gardiner.
Andrew Klavan explains to NRO why he thinks after his latest novel, EMPIRE OF LIES, he'll "never win another writing award again."
The NYT's Andy Newman interviews "Kate Brennan" about her memoir of a decade-plus long stalking campaign by her former boyfriend.
After this, nothing more needs to be written about the so-called print vs. blog debate, but of course there will be tons more ink spilled.
Not even 48 hours from now, bookstores all over the country will go insane for BREAKING DAWN. More Meyer coverage at USA TODAY.
The Southern California Book Award nominations are out, and the mystery category is now the T. Jefferson Parker mystery award.
I thought there could not be a startup company dumber than Pets.com. I was wrong.
And finally, Johnny Depp as the Riddler? I could buy it.
As charming as I found the movie Juno to be, my instinctive reaction was that the musical predilections of its precocious teenage heroine—the old soul anti-folk charmer who thoroughly upstages the cynical guy whose head is stuck in 1993—had to be an adult artifice, created for people over thirty to validate their own moldy tastes as “classic” and bring a few kids for the ride. But generational truth is more complicated than that. It turns out that Juno herself, actress Ellen Page, was the one who touted the Moldy Peaches’ Shaggs-meet-Jonathan hardcore shoegaze to the film’s director, turning “Anyone Else But You” into a late-blooming sensation. (It could have been worse; they could have made the Peaches’ equally catchy “Who’s Got the Crack” the latest teen anthem).
Blowing away any remaining generational snobbery, I randomly discovered a recipe for Monterey Jack muffins on an intermittently updated music blog called Half a Person, whose sixteen year-old author, Nina, says she “likes music and long walks on the beach.” Nina’s accompanying “Muffin Mix” seemed uncannily close to home:
Stay Positive- The Hold Steady
Two Halves- My Morning Jacket
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb- Spoon
The Sons of Cain- Ted Leo
Eraser- No Age
Sequestered in Memphis- The Hold Steady
Alex Chilton- The Replacements
I’m Amazed- My Morning Jacket
Constructive Summer- The Hold Steady
Sheila Take a Bow- The Smiths
A Little Bit of Feel Good- Jamie Lidell
This is how close I live to the Muffin Mix: Swap Bon Iver and Tinariwen for No Age and Jamie Lidell, and you would come very close to my own heavy rotation for the same week. Nor is Nina a guitar-rock one trick pony; her latest post displays precocious taste in rap both new (Nas, Lupe, Lil’ Wayne) and prehistoric (De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest). And I doubt I’ll read a better review of Mamma Mia than the following from Nina: “I now have every ABBA song simultaneously stuck in my head. It was charming at first, but now I’m just feeling suicidal.” Nina’s hall-of-fame post thus far, however, is intriguingly titled “Sorry I Accosted You” (details after the click-through).
Smiths, “Half a Person”
Replacements, “Alex Chilton”
When Nina and her friend were in line to buy summer books at Barnes and Noble, an unsuspecting couple were poised to buy a copy of The Best of Radiohead, which Nina correctly identified as “EMI’s plan of revenge after Radiohead left their label to give away In Rainbows.” In prose worthy of a sober Lester Bangs, Nina recounts the following:
“Oh, Radiohead!” said the man, picking up a copy.
“They’re great,” replied his girlfriend tracing her finger down the back
I fretted. “These people can’t purchase this sham of an album! Radiohead wouldn’t want that!” I thought. So, I did what any partially insane teen would do.
“You can’t buy that!” I said abruptly.
The couple stared at me blankly. I stared back. “Um. EMI, Radiohead’s old label, released it without permission. Radiohead, uh, doesn’t want people to buy it,” I stammered. The couple stared at me blankly.
“Um.Ok,” said the male with a forced chuckle, placing the album back on the rack. “Why is this nervous girl with braces yelling at me about Radiohead?” he was probably thinking. My friend Victoria looked at me with an amused smile. I turned around and walked away. Mission accomplished.
My apologies for accosting you, friendly couple. But you really shouldn’t buy the album.”
Nina’s little vignette actually gives me hope for the future, because it’s a story only a real fan could tell and it’s free of the cool distance that too often accompanies music writing. I’ve also been there before. As a partially insane teen, I came close to accosting someone at Chicago’s Wax Trax records who was on the verge of buying Squeeze, an album by a Lou Reed-less version of the “Velvet Underground” fronted by bassist Doug Yule. In retrospect, Squeeze wasn’t terrible, and it’s not as if cranky old Lou Reed needed the money; it’s just that something viscerally bothered me about allowing that record to be purchased on false pretenses. I cared enough about what the Velvets had done for me that I didn’t mind looking like a nutcase trying to defend their honor.
Years from now, when Nina is old enough to be me, I hope she stays positive, finds new and adventurous ways to mix her muffins, and never lets her enthusiasm molder. If I’m still around, I’ll still be listening.
Radiohead, “House of Cards”
Moldy Peaches, “Anyone Else But You”
Hello...this is Ed Park in a photo by Sylvia Plachy speaking...Remember when I said I'd remind you about my upcoming readings etc., constantly?
I'll be reading tonight at 7 at KGB (85 E. 4th St.). Here's what New York has to say:
Ed Park, while a founding editor of The Believer, is really making his name with his debut novel, Personal Days, which was inspired by how shitty it was to work at The Village Voice in the time leading up to—and after—the paper was bought out by the weekly-paper conglomerate known as New Times. If that book were not such a fantastic leap away from his specific experience (we were there), into realms more universal, and more hilarious, you might think the new short story he’ll read tonight would just take a spade to the same territory. But Park digs deeper—wider, even!—and we can’t wait to hear what he does in the short form, and how his impish language sounds out loud.
And while we're talking music? You need to check out Dzyd Bbbecky's latest post, on "Sleng Teng," and download those two songs! (It's a tantalizing form—essentially, these are ecstatic variations on a rigid theme: "Sleng Teng was created on a Casio keyboard...The riddim has been versioned near two hundred times...") The first song especially is a TOTAL KNOCKOUT. Maybe I will just play it tonight in lieu of a story...
Horatio thinks he saw a ghost.
Hamlet thinks it's annoying when your uncle marries your mother right after your dad dies.
The king thinks Hamlet's annoying.
Laertes thinks Ophelia can do better.
Hamlet's father is now a zombie.
In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin has woven a visual narrative which tenderly romances Lennon’s every word in a cascading flood of multipronged animation. Raskin marries the terrifyingly genius pen work of James Braithwaite with masterful digital illustration by Alex Kurina, resulting in a spell-binding vessel for Lennon’s boundless wit, and timeless message.
Hi-res version also available.
Thanks Tim Lesle
- Zero-G Watch
Telling time on this Tokyoflash watch "just takes a little practice. (It's nothing like some of Tokyoflash's other watch designs, where you basically can't read the time without a manual.)"
- Can’t Find a Distributor, Indie Filmmaker? Then D.I.Y.
"Increasingly, indie filmmakers find themselves caught in a glutted marketplace with too few theaters to handle all the movies."
- What Does Your Grocery List Say About You?
"Hillary Carlip has agreed to take one list submitted by a user/listener and turn it into a whole new character. Then she's going to take Day to Day shopping in character. Want your list considered?"
- 10 Questions with Rob Walker
From Goodreads newsletter.
- Ariana Huffington: The non liquid version of Red Bull
Huffington as brand, deconstructed. Entertaining. (Riffs on Buying In & murketing, just so you know.)
- Ida Maria
"Better When You're Naked" is the song of the day. Video here. Via AndrewAndrew.
- Popular Cartoon Series Makes Japanese Shrine a Magnet for Fans
Devotees Are Mainly Young Men, Who Dress Like the Characters -- in Miniskirts
Interesting piece on citizen video in the occupied territories, documenting settler violence
R. Stevens of Diesel Sweeties discovers that he makes less money with print comics than web comics, gives up a syndication deal
Dense and beautiful story from George Dyson about emergent, unprogrammed models of computing, digging back into ancient computing history and forward to the rise of Google’s international data centers
Flickr users wonder how interestingness is defined
USC just announced that Dan Schnur, a veteran of four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns, has been named director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, housed in USC College.
Schnur served as the national director of communications for Sen. John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign and as the chief media spokesman for former California governor Pete Wilson.