So thanks! I love all the comments, good and bad, and all the links and emails (even when it takes me way too long to respond to them), and all the readers I've met at various events over the past few years.
Keep in touch – and happy 2009!
I started a tradition last year that I thought might keep me a little more honest in terms of my career and what I want to happen in my life. I put down on paper (or screen, I guess) all the stuff that I achieved over the past year, and what I hope to achieve next year. Nothing like a little public failure to really move your ass into gear.
Without further ado, here is last year’s post.
Let’s take my goals one at a time:
GRADE: A+. I did indeed get married to the Greatest Girl on the Planet. The shebang was a total blast
GRADE: B+. I do have several interested major publishers, and I also in the process got an amazing literary agent, Gretchen Stetler. So it’s sort of there. No contract yet, no check in hand, no book tour. The framework has been set. Which is totes sweet.
GRADE: C. I did start a few studies, and I know much more what the finished thing will look like, but I screwed up my show dates in Seattle, and had to drop out, and I haven’t done much in terms of actual piece production. Get it together, Alterio.
GRADE: F. Didn’t even try. I did get a comic in Mark Kingwell’s 2009 book, though, which is rad, so that’s a more than amazing consolation prize.
GRADE: D. There’s some talk about others wanting to serialize it, but that has been all talk up to this point.
GRADE: A. I fixed my motorcycle, and then I sold it, which I’m actually very happy about. Owning a motorcycle in the city with a garage or parking space is a real drag. I’m strictly walking now, and it rules.
So, all in all a really awesome year personally, but just a so-so year in terms of accomplishing the goals I set out to do, which is always a little disappointing. However, when I take a stock of everything, I can be pretty proud of myself. I am getting more illustration work than ever, I’m still way busy, even in these lean economic times, and our start up, Squonk Studios, is on the verge of getting a big client, and Robots and Monsters is more popular than ever, with over 4 Grand raised for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
My grandma died this year, which was tough. But then again, Barack Obama was elected, which rules, and I also won my Fantasy Football Superbowl. So all in all, I’m pretty damn happy about 2008, on balance.
In 2009 I will:
+ REALLY nail down a publisher for R and M. Seriously.
+ REALLY do something with the Basic Virus. Seriously.
+ REALLY get going on a solo show. Seriously.
+ Go on my honeymoon to Hawaii, Land of Intriguing Tropical Drinks
+ Do my best to get my name out there more, be it throguh print, web, or word of mouth.
Here’s to your best health, a happy family, and a great 2009. Thanks for reading this humble blog.
Richard Foreman reads from his plays and prose.
Patricia Cornwell appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #257.
Patricia Cornwell is most recently the author of Scarpetta. This interview serves as a companion piece to Sarah Weinman’s Los Angeles Times profile.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Checked in for narcissistic personality disorder.
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Subjects Discussed: The genesis of Kay Scarpetta after three unpublished novels, Sara Ann Freed’s input into Cornwell’s early career, on being rejected by the Mysterious Press, Susanne Kirk, the unexpected success of Postmortem, how Charles Champlin’s Los Angeles Times review changed the publisher’s perception, writing a Scarpetta book before the last one was published, switching from first-person to third-person midway through the series, tinkering around in the movie business, being unable to write anymore in the first-person perspective, on later books lacking the warm element of character interaction, trying to get better through experimentation, listening to fans and readers, bringing back Benton Wesley from the dead, the differences between Cornwell and Scarpetta, writing sex scenes, privacy and reluctant fame, reporters who have the temerity to follow Cornwell into the bathroom, cops and submachine guns, Ab Fab, Judd Apatow’s films, Cornwell’s continued involvement with forensic science, taking out full-page ads to correct being misquoted by a journalist, pursuing the Jack the Ripper case, making various investments, surviving in the dour economy, and Cornwell’s political involvement.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: What’s interesting too is that your career essentially started at the behest of very legendary people in the mystery world.
Cornwell: Right. That’s right.
Correspondent: And then Susanne Kirk found it at Scribner and picked it up from there.
Cornwell: And she was quite a champion for it. Because the publishing house, from my understanding back then, was very dubious about it. This was so different. Nobody wrote books like this back then really. First of all, you had a serial killer who was a stranger to the victims and a stranger to everybody. And the tradition of “mysteries” is that it was someone in your midst. And there were so many traditions that were shattered. Because real crime shatters those traditions. And I was writing about what I saw, and really taking a journalistic point of view. Although I was weaving it into fiction. And some of the rejection letters were “Nobody wants to read about morgues or laboratories.” And certainly not a woman who works in an environment like this and sees what she does. It seems silly now. But back then, that just wasn’t done.
Susanne though had the futuristic vision to think, “This is new and different. And this is pretty cool. And I want to publish this book.” But she had to have yet another opinion. She had to have another person read it. And they deliberated. And they just barely decided. In fact, the telephone call I got — the famous telephone call that changes your life — it was iffy. It was “We think we’re going to publish Postmortem, but we want to get one more person to read it.”
Correspondent: So it had to go to the editorial board in other words.
Cornwell: It was actually an outside consultant they had. Someone they considered an expert. A man, whose name I don’t remember. And they needed one more person to look at it to see if they really were going to do this. And that was my great turning point. My telephone call was a maybe. And then they did decide to take it on. But it was a very small printing. 6,000 copies. $6,000 is what I got paid. No advertising. No marketing. No nothing. And by the time people discovered it, it was out of print in hardcover.
So, it’s taken me FOREVER to decide just whose present was the WORST (or best, although “OMG, WTF, what the hell were they thinking” outweighed “OMG! You didn’t!” by about 493 to 1).
A lot of the presents were what I call “bowling ball presents” — stuff people get you because they want it for themselves (qv: pepperdove getting a VCR … at age 15 … when there was only one TV in the house … after the family VCR broke. Elizabeth getting an air conditioner — then being told they couldn’t afford to install it!). And then some were “I love you, you’re perfect, now change” presents. (qv: Riva getting offered laser hair removal! Mickey being given a can of Slim-Fast!)
Then there were a lot of “I don’t know what the word “present” means, so I’m going to give you this random item” (like Ann’s boyfriend giving her a RED LACE TEDDY FROM A PREVIOUS GIRLFRIEND — seriously, wtf? — and Colleen getting a PLASTIC TRAVEL URINAL, Beth B getting PAPERCLIPS, Denise getting USED MAKEUP).
Some presents seem to have been thinly-veiled assassination attempts: MsManners got two bottles of Fen-Phen (from an ex, natch) and Angel getting a basket of hair clips and dollar-store scented soap from her sister-in-law when she A) had no hair after undergoing chemo and B) was highly allergic to everything, which the chemo exacerbated. (I would have pressed charges on that one!)
“I think you must have meant this for someone else” seems to have been another theme — Neighbourhood.Gal got (at age 11) a Teddy Ruxpin (remember those?) and a remote controlled monster truck and a skateboard (and she lived on a street with no sidewalks). Cookie got what sounded like the Worst Coat in the History of Coats: “VIOLENTLY acid-washed denim, knee-length, lumberjack style jacket with BRIGHT white, puffy fleece lining.” Mere got a BOX of DICKIES. In 1987.
I was heartened by all the folks who got ironing boards, dress forms, sewing machines, and sergers … except for poor RavenzTarot, whose daughter got a new sewing machine (after trashing RavenzTarot’s old machine). That machine REALLY should have been Ravenz!
Is it any wonder it was hard to decide? I chose two bads and a good. The good-present-winner is anthrokeight, whose parents had her kindergarten art project of an angel professionally framed … (altogether now: AWWWWW). The bad-present winners are La BellaDonna, who got a necklace and earrings SUPPOSEDLY from her husband, but since he conveniently didn’t have any cash on him when it was time to pay for them, ended up being bought on her own dime … … and Sewducky … well, I can’t give you details of what Sewducky got that was so awful, but let’s just say this: If you are going to give someone WWII memorabilia as a Christmas present, you might want to pick some FROM THE WINNING SIDE. Just a tip, there. [So, guys, email me your mailing addresses and I'll forward them to Rita so she can send you a copy of that pattern!]
It was SO hard to decide, though, that I am going to give out more prizes. If you left a comment about a bad (or good!) present, email me and I’ll send you a free Dress A Day measuring tape! (Let me know what comment was yours, and don’t forget to include your mailing address!)
Here’s what they look like, iffen you don’t remember:
Happy New Year!
Allison Amend most recently appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #256.
Allison Amend is the author of Things That Pass for Love.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Pondering the troubling things that pass for love.
Author: Allison Amend
Subjects Discussed: Dealings with the Atlantic Monthly, what constitutes a proper golf story, miniature golf, how Jewishness and faith relates to sustaining a narrative, speaking multiple languages, Pig Latin, the connotations of “molested,” small animals in short stories, whether an author should be concerned about manipulating the reader, grabbing the interviewer by the beard, discovering stories through subconscious intent, stories that “need more gerbil,” writing stories that run counter to an innate perspective, verisimilitude, magical realism, whether multifarious themes and motifs disguise the primary premise of a story, the narrative complexities of romantic intimacy, avoiding the “chick lit” label, Curtis Sittenfeld, the Glimmer Train essay, Amend’s two unpublished novels, dealing with potential editors who issue demands to include a love story, how much one should compromise for art, authenticity vs. marketability, frequent appearances of Zima within Amend’s stories, authors who include brand names in fiction, experimenting with lists and found documents, planning the endings of stories, selecting stories for the collection, and thematic unity.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: Golf figures prominently into a number of these stories. In “How Much Greater the Miracle,” you write, “The soul and golf are interrelated. I try not to wax too philosophical, but the soul is like a golf ball.” Now is this particular statement one of the reasons you frequently return to golf in your writing? Do you feel that golf gets a bad rap? Is this your way of essentially taking it, or absconding it, from the upper-class country club associations? Are you trying to counter the John Updike/Richard Ford/Kevin Costner kind of approach to golf? I think this is a very important question!
Amend: Sure, sure. I think that your answer is much better than the one I’m going to give you.
Correspondent: No, I’m sure your answer is going to be fantastic.
Amend: Which is that back when I was in grad school, Michael Curtis, who edits the fiction for the Atlantic Monthly, requested some golf stories. He was editing the fiction section of Golf Digest.
Correspondent: Oh wow.
Amend: And he needed some golf stories. So I was like, “I can write a golf story.” And he said, “Oh, it’s very good. I don’t want it. But it’s a good story.” And I said, “Thank you. I’ll write another one.” So I wrote another golf story.
Amend: He said, “I don’t want this either. But I like your writing.” So I wrote one more just to see. But actually I do really like golf as a literary theme. Because, first of all, it’s something for your characters to do without really having to have them do a lot of business. So everyone knows how you play. I mean, everyone sort of knows the theory of golf. You hit a ball towards a hole. And so your characters can talk a lot and can think about things without — it’s not like it’s basketball, where you have to describe the reaction all the time. So I really like golf that way. But also it’s this really absurd game. I played a lot when I was younger and don’t play so much now. But if you told me that you can’t see there’s a hole about the size of your palm and you can’t see it from here. But if you hit the ball three times, you will hit it in the hole. I would never have believed it.
Correspondent: Now you say that you had had golf experience before when you had been asked to do these stories. Or did you have to go into golf again and do a refresher course so to speak? Or a refresher run?
Amend: Well, I was at Iowa. We had a lot of free time.
Correspondent: Okay. They have golf in Iowa.
Amend: They do have golf in Iowa. And it’s actually pretty accessible. There’s a great municipal golf course. A nine hole golf course. And so I actually played a decent round of golf. But mostly I just asked my parents. They are very into golf. And so when I needed some golf details to make the story seem more authentic, I just asked them. I said, “What do you do if the ball’s on the side of a hill?” And my dad’s like, “Well, you hit down on it obviously.” I’m like, “Oh, of course.” And I’m taking notes as I’m talking to them. So that was my golf experience.
Correspondent: But this is an interesting notion of what a golf story is.
Correspondent: Because if one plays golf, it’s automatically a golf story? Or golf happens to be a motif? I mean, how golf-intensive does a golf story have to be?
Amend: You know, I don’t know. I don’t think that the golf story is going to be the next hot genre. Although there is the golf novel that does pretty well — apparently every year. But for me, it’s just a story where I have to ask my parents a lot of questions about golf to write it. So to me, that’s a golf story.
Correspondent: I’m just wondering if there’s any golf criteria for a golf story. I’ve never been asked to write a golf story. And I’ve never actually considered, until we just talked about this subject, about what a golf story entails. And so I’m wondering. Maybe it’s like a Christmas story.
Amend: It just has to be some Christmas.
Correspondent: Yeah, I don’t know.
Amend: Yeah, I think so. I’m not sure that I’m the best person to ask, since none of my stories were accepted for Golf Digest.
Correspondent: But they’re in here! There’s like three golf stories in here.
Amend: But they’re in there. In which case, golf is sort of a theme.
Correspondent: Yeah! So you are a golf story person.
Amend: Apparently, I’m a golf story person.
Correspondent: Among many other things. Well, okay.
Amend: Well, I could be. I’ve been called worse.
When the eminent chemist, political radical, and theological dissident Joseph Priestley arrived in New York in 1794 — hounded from his native England by conservatives — Americas founders tussled over where he should settle. Vice President John Adams put in a plug for Boston, while New York and Philadelphia trotted out their scientific luminaries to impress the great man. Priestley finally settled on #133; Northumberland, Pennsylvania, roughly as great an intellectual capital then as now. There he made just one of the many discoveries that marked his career: the idea of American rural isolation can more enjoyable than the experience of it.
Priestley serves as the center of Steven Johnsons new book The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America, and he lives up to Johnsons description of him as a Zelig of the revolutionary period …
Here it is, the one you’ve been waiting for: BEST JOKES OF THE YEAR!!!
1. “Hey, it’s really cold! I guess someone forgot to tell GLOBAL WARMING about that!”
2. “Hey, did you notice Hillary’s pants? I guess they really SUIT her!”
3. “Why do chickens make better lovers? Because they NUGGET!” (pronounce “nugget” like “snuggle”)
4. “Hey, the Olympics were in China! Does that mean everyone ate chinese food? Because does that mean they used chopsticks? Because gymnasts need to STICK their landings, so I bet that was great!”
5. “Why did the economy go to the psychologist? Because it was having DEPRESSION.”
6. “I guess President Bush is really excited to leave office and go home; after all he’s a real MOMMA’S BOY.”
7. “What did Rev. Jeremiah Wright say when his car broke down? GODDAMN CAR!”
8. “Hey, did you hear about Dick Cheney’s blog? It’s really crazy!”
9. “What’s the difference between MTV and VH1? Who knows, all I see is a bunch of weirdos jumping up and down!”
10. “I saw a really scary movie last night; it was called THE ECONOMY.”
Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses is one of the most famous pornographic films in the world. Striking a blow against censorship, Oshima also crafts out of this true story a cautionary tale of lust, art, and emotional obsession, and the dangers when out-of-control desire, desires to control.
"Looking less geisha-like and more demonic as her obsession consumes her, Sada pushes through to its inevitable violent denouement, as Kichi, exhausted past resistance, seemingly gives his permission for the final act. Wanting to get higher and higher, she requires more and more and is less and less satisfied, Kichi being the heroin to her heroine. Which leads us to the final troubling issue: since her arrest, the fascination with Sada has gone beyond that of a sensationalistic crime. Sada’s story has been claimed by both the left and the right, as a stand against patriarchal tyranny and as an argument for stronger family values. Oshima uses it to fight censorship. But he also includes a larger social critique. Sada’s story is a cautionary tale against the dangers of interiority. With obsessive inward focus, personal values become distorted, while equally destructive social trends go unrecognized, like soldiers on parade. In terms of social critique, Oshima is not afraid to go all the way."
Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) follows in the tradition of Jean Renoir's The Grand Illusion (1937), and David Lean's Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957), in introducing a sympathetic enemy, yet casting a cold eye on the risks of sympathy in wartime.
"The casting here is no coincidence. Bowie and Sakamoto, both pop music icons, were huge at the time. Their real-world celebrity was crucial to their onscreen characters: celebrity generates fascination, but must preserve distance to do so. The fan is drawn to the icon and projects the fulfillment of all sorts of inchoate desires upon him or her; but the distance between the fan and the icon allows these fantasies "to be," as Yonoi significantly quotes from Hamlet. Similarly to how the lens in a film projector is required to be a certain distance from the screen for the movie to be seen, so the icon is required to be a certain distance from the fan for the fantasy to be imagined. But distance prevents a personal relationship. Any attempt to bridge the distance will collapse the fantasy, and the icon will cease "to be," as such.
Oshima uses the distance between celebrity and fan to inform the taboo of homosexuality in the military. When Bowie-as-Celliers strides across the parade grounds in a time-is-suspended-type long shot, he collapses this distance, culturally, erotically, and conceptually. His gesture can be interpreted as a Western type of seppuku, performed to save another officer. By collapsing the bubble of celebrity, he destroys Yonoi's fantasy relationship with him, and in consequence destroys himself. The icon is brought down to earth in a particularly gruesome way, as illustrated by Celliers' subsequent punishment."
Susan drives me mad with her long explanations of things one only needs
the eyes and the sensitivity of someone like Irene to see. She
discoursed on Bosch at the Prado and was just now explaining that women
are the main support of the Church. She launches into these textbook
dissertations, like footnotes, which I find unbearable.
Never once while reading Susan Sontag’s diaries (column) did it occur to me that “H” might still be alive.
Thanks to Caleb Crain for pointing out this fascinating, but mostly appalling, item.
Here’s my list of the TOP TEN MEMES OF 2008:
1. “Make it yourself” (”MIY”)
2. “Blogs are like diaries”
3. “Go for the gold” (because of the Olympics)
5. “Eat healthy, act healthy, BE healthy!”
6. “You only live once in 2008″
7. “SPICY MEATBALLS!!!”
8. “Privatize the profit, publicize the rest”
9. “Party like a rockstar”
10. “Computers, computers, computers … look at all the computers.”
Brad Pitt’s marital choices will continue to inspire debate, but the man has good taste in architecture. A year ago his Make it Right Foundation unveiled 13 designs by leading architects for new low-income housing in New Orleans. The first half-dozen single-family houses have been finished, Architectural Record reports, and they’re adding much-needed splashes of inspiration and verve to some downbeat neighborhoods.
This is probably my last post for 2008. While I cannot personally identify the last 365 days as a triumph or a disappointment, I can say this: It was the year of promise; it was the year of squandered possibilities. It was the age when we finally realized that Bush would finally be gone; it was the age when we hoped that Obama would work his magic. It was the epoch of bailouts; it was the epoch of Madoff’s avarice. It was the season of sixty degree December days in Manhattan; it was the season of government deficits we can’t possibly pay back anytime soon. It was not so much the spring of hope, nor was it entirely the winter of despair. But many good people were laid off. And it is hard to view any of these terrible developments with beatific ecstasy. We do indeed have everything before us, but we likewise have nothing before us. Particularly when so many of us are determined to give up. And if we go to hell, then we’ll certainly fly business class. Assuming that the airlines don’t bump our flights.
Come to think of it, Dickens was a bit of a self-righteous twit when it came to establishing these dutiful dichotomies in that famous opening chapter. And I say this as someone who loves Dickens. I’ve chatted a number of people with over the past few weeks and they’ve attempted to explain to me why they didn’t fully “blossom” in 2008, concocting strange theories in the process. A redoubting Thomas looks to the year’s last integer and says, “Well, 2008 was an even year. I never accomplish much during an even year.” One’s life, however, cannot be boiled down to a ridiculous numerological maxim. You can’t apply the “every even Star Trek movie is good; every odd Star Trek movie is bad” approach to life. Life is, after all, what you make of it.
Yet if life is what we make of it, why aren’t we doing more?
One is tempted to panic, to freeze up, to defer decisions and actions to others who seem to know what’s going on in an age of social and economic crisis. But if 2009 represents an opportunity to reclaim our stunned inactions over the past twelve months (and, some might argue, the past eight years), then why not start asking questions right now or whipping up a few answers? Why not figure out some place — even a small one — where you can do something rather helpful or interesting?
I have a number of fiery opinions about current events that I won’t bore you with. But I’ll say this much. If we take any disgraceful developments lying down, then we more or less deserve what’s coming. If we continue to grant license to those who would deceive us again and again, then we’re well past the “fool me twice, shame on me” stage and comfortably nestled in the “swallow the Kool-Aid without question” phase.
The time has come to take back America. To challenge everything and to throw around interesting ideas that stick. To restore the environment we had before 9/11. To demand accountability. To refuse to accept any and all malarkey and live up to a grand American credo.
We are a nation of innovators. A nation that can produce such astonishing individuals as John Brown, Amelia Earhart, and Larry Walters, to name only a few. Where are today’s misfits and cultural revolutionaries? Where are those who would try something different? While some life choices may be limited by silent responsibilities, this does not necessarily mean that the grand range of louder choices has evaporated.
It is my hope that 2009 will be the year in which America wakes up. And by “waking up,” I am not talking about some progressive fantasy. I am talking about reviving and spicing up the national dialogue. I am talking about a nation that welcomes as many perspectives as possible. Because we’re now at a place where we need them. I am talking about a country in which the number of crazy things that happen from time to time becomes better memorialized. I am talking about mischief. I am talking about tomfoolery.
Paralysis of spirit simply will not do as we face a whole host of problems. I am speaking of a particular type of success, and the words date back to Emerson:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.
I’m at my parents’ house, looking through Adventures in Writing, a collection of winners of the 1987 Superintendent’s Writing Awards from the Montgomery County Public Schools. My 10th grade self is represented here by a very earnest essay on The Glass Menagerie (big finish: “Either way, the contrast provides an effective comment on society.”)
I flipped through the table of contents hoping to find famous writers of today; the biggest name I came across was Adam Ostrow, now editor-in-chief of Mashable, then a sophomore at Gaithersburg High School. His story, “Insignificance in the Two Thousand Nineties,” does a pretty good job with the future — his late 21st century teen views images of new clothes on his computer and pays for them via direct deduction from his bank account. When he needs to arrange some travel, he “telecomms” to make a plane and hotel reservation. Count against Ostrow that the reservation is from Pan Am. And it’s to the moon.
Best line in this story: “Just then a robot came in with what was to be his lunch.”
A couple days late but dead is dead, right? Likewise, while Indiana-native Freddie Hubbard (1938-2008) was probably not the signal example of jazz genius, during his peak years, he demonstrated a still staggering ability to be there and do his inside pushing outwards thing for Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Herbie Hancock, Hank Mobley, Ornette Coleman, Oliver Nelson, Wayne Shorter, Brooklyn hero Max Roach, my beloved Sam Rivers: the list is goes on, a roll call of American miracles. Being there the nights of April 9 and 10, 1965 meant the Club La Marchal on Fulton Street. The lineup— including Freddie’s contemporary, Lee Morgan, drummer Pete LaRoca, percussionist Big Black— is more impressive than The Night of the Cookers albums, which are blurrily raucous but not so much more that I won’t recommend a dozen (two, three, four dozen) other albums with either Lee or Freddie first. Back in the winter of ‘82-’83 I had a girlfriend (let’s call her “Jackie”) in Fort Greene whose parents were big Freddie fans— that’s how I got turned on to the dude, in fact, although marijuana and Jackie’s crimson kimono helped. Cut open anyone hip to the early-mid ’70s African-American musical diaspora and you’ll almost certainly find of heavy layer of Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay there. It don’t wash off! — The Music Director
The Music Director has more stories about the corner of Nostrand and Fulton than most yokels in the blogidad; so what?
With available time this year running out to do just about anything, let alone making blog posts, here’s what was going to be a much more robust rundown (a la the music post) of the books that made commutes more bearable and the imagination and intellect a little more fertile in 2008. Time and travel got the best of our dear blogger, so you’re left with a mere abbreviated list of authors and titles. [Note: The book review department here at tirado/thrown resolves to generate a better year in books for you, our dear readers, in 2009.]
Best wishes from tirado/thrown for an outstanding 2009! We hope to be posting more in the coming year. Thanks for dropping by and reading!
[Image Credit: Georges Seurat, Man Sitting on a Terrace, Reading, Chalk on Chamois Paper, 23 x 30 cms / 9.1 x 11.8 inches, 1884, found at Fine Art Prints on Demand.]Posted in Books, Literature, Philosophy Tagged: Books, End of Year, Lists
The comma key fell off of my MacBook Pro. Thus, my first resolution is to regain easy access to commas in 2009. Trust me that each comma in this post was a pain in the ass to type. Remember when people used to have to write out commas by hand? Not as laborious as the ampersand, but still.
Rein in my love affair with Facebook. Yes, we’re still in the honeymoon phase, but I’d rather do the preemptive break-up than end up hurt and rejected. A few months ago, Facebook membership among my friends reached a Gladwellian tipping point. A lot of people who would theretofore never have considered joining a social-networking site caved in, shed their mistrust of visibility and nostalgia, and embraced the concept wholeheartedly. For the two Monitor Mix readers who are not on Facebook, think of it like this: Do you ever wonder what the guy you sat next to in high-school math class is doing? Right now? Well, Facebook answers that question. He is doing his laundry. Yes, it’s that exciting. My highest Facebook achievement to date entails a mobile photo upload of a Gresham police officer issuing me a speeding ticket. But I actually do love the site for making sense of all of the disparate groups of friends I have around the world, gathering them in a single virtual sphere, and making my relationship with them present instead of past-tense. Facebook has also become a repository for our old photos — the pre-digital ones — creating a fluid historical space, linking one music scene to another, charting one decade’s transformation into the next, illuminating a generation of citizens’ effect on their predecessors, and acting as a simultaneous artifact and living museum. So, for the most part, Facebook has been a positive, sometimes exciting enterprise. Yet over the holidays, I found myself discussing Facebook at parties, which gave me pause. Here I was, in person with my friends, talking about our virtual friendship. Then, another friend of mine sent me a note that read, “Wow, you are taking this Facebook thing seriously.” My skepticism was reborn.
Avoid free shows and spend money on worthy bands. The other night, I saw a Swedish performer called The Tallest Man On Earth perform for free at Rom Tom’s. After reading a glowing preview of the show in our local weekly, I decided to be spontaneous and head out for the night. I was shocked to pull up to the bar and see a line around the block — SXSW- or CMJ-style. Apparently, Portlanders will attend anything that allows them to spend more money on alcohol by spending less on art. And that is a shame, because the self-proclaimed Swedish Dylan was a highly contrived act with a huge audience. So in 2009, I want to seek out more live music — and not just when it’s free or easy or convenient, but when it’s likely to be both inspiring and edifying.
Additionally: Be patient, read and write more, drink less soda pop, continue to volunteer, and be appreciative of what I have.
Please feel free to share your own resolutions for 2009.
And, lastly, thanks for being a part of Monitor Mix.
Happy New Year.
I have a new source of historical sheet music: odin.indstate.edu. It’s not large or well organized, but it does have stuff that nobody else does, and it does have the real music stuff and not just the covers, so I have added it to my custom search engine for public domain sheet music.
I certainly didn’t plan it this way, but it appears that I’m now on record at five separate places (with many individuals who are smarter than I am) to discuss the best books of 2008. In the past few days, Ready Steady Book has issued its annual symposium and the Chicago Sun-Times has posted its favorites for 2008. You can also find my top ten books of 2008 on this site, as well as my Barnes & Noble Review contribution and my take on this year’s essays at The Millions’s Year in Reading series.
I’m tempted to single out the top ten sentences I read in 2008, but this would be overkill. And the last thing you need is another list to sift through. But if you need more, you can always head on over to Largehearted Boy’s comprehensive list of lists.
Can’t believe I forgot this one! 2008 was an exhilarating year for fashion. And with today’s economy, we can only assume it will get better, as people sink all their investments into the hottest fashions and courture (sp).
Here’s my list of the TOP TEN FASHIONS OF 2008:
1. Women’s Fashions
2. Men’s Fashions
3. Tween Fashions
4. Extreme Fashions
5. Political Fashions
6. War Fashions
7. Celebrity Fashions
8. Online Fashions
9. Community Fashions
10. Fun Fashions!