January 2009 Archives

Meanwhile, back in Austin....

Thanks to Jerome Weeks for pointing this out via the Dallas coverage.

Hard to believe it has been under a year since I wrote a column about zombies. One month after it appeared, I returned to Austin for the first time since leaving it two decades ago. This comes close to a "plate of shrimp"-style convergence.

Another intersection in the "lattice of coincidences"....That clip ends with another great Repo Man line: "The more you drive, the less intelligent you are." Could it be that's what the prankster in Austin was thinking?

All part of the cosmic unconsciousness.....

UPDATE: Via the Little Professor, see also the forthcoming novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which "features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action....a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers--and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead."

See also my call for zombified high modernism.

January 29, 2009 2:32 PM | | Comments (3)
Thomas Friedman is fascinating. Not his work itself, of course. Rather, the mere fact of his existence, and the mystery of what function he could possibly serve in the social system that created him. Friedman's ongoing crimes against both rational intellect and the English language make him a challenging problem in whatever the secular-humanist equivalent of theodicy would be.
January 28, 2009 11:47 AM | | Comments (2)

The board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle met in New York on Saturday to chose the finalists for its 2008 book awards.

Board members are not supposed to discuss the process. I will, however, offer this short film, which sums up the experience quite well.

I chaired the committee that named Ron Charles as this year's winner of the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and after getting home yesterday a short item about him for Critical Mass.

See also Leon Neyfakh's article for The New York Observer asking whether this was an effort to lobby The Washington Post to preserve Book World. My two cents:

Anyone saying that has things precisely backwards. We are raising the alarm about Book World in order to make sure that critics of the calibre of Ron Charles have a nationally prominent venue in which to publish their work. To the best of my knowledge, nobody raised the idea that we were sending semaphore messages to The Post when Charles was a finalist in years past.

All the book finalists are listed here. Members of the board have to read everything on the list that we haven't already between now and early March. My eyeballs can hardly wait.

January 26, 2009 6:41 PM | | Comments (2)

What can I say? Dave Haan is absolutely right -- for while Peter Gabriel has recorded other versions, nothing can compare to the one on Robert Fripp's Exposure. And I did indeed have all that in mind. I really didn't expect anyone to pick it up.

See/hear also the album's title track.

Goal for 2009: Work references to all of Fripp's League of Gentlemen songs into my columns!

January 25, 2009 9:22 PM | | Comments (1)
Ben Alpers charts the rise and fall, from Kennedy through Ford, of "the White House Intellectual-in-Residence" (not that it's existed as a post officially so signified, of course):
January 21, 2009 8:57 PM | | Comments (1)
When I went out for coffee this morning, the streets in my neighborhood were quiet, like on a Saturday morning. Not so surprising. I'd guess lots of people in DC are taking a four-day weekend.

On my way back home about two hours later, a striking development: Groups of three to five National Guard members in combat fatigues were stationed roughly once each block. (Considered snapping a picture, but figured this might lead to some kind of interrogation.)

Recurrent thought: Please let the next 48 hours pass without a stampede. For the past year, the Metro system has been prone to constant breakdowns on a good day. Now this.  
January 19, 2009 12:34 PM | | Comments (2)

At the National Book Critics Circle blog Critical Mass, Eric Banks passes along word that "a reliable source at the Washington Post passes along the scary word that among the budgetary recommendations new editor Marcus Brauchli is making to his board is the elimination of Book World."

I heard the same thing via a prominent young American historian just before seeing this.

Once again ... Members of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) ought to contact Brauchli to let him know that this is not acceptable.

The idea that such changes have anything to do with a lack of advertising by book publishers is nonsense. Is a sports section funded by advertising from the teams it covers?

UPDATE: Brauchli tells Critical Mass, "We are absolutely committed to book reviews and coverage of literature, publishing and ideas in The Post. Our readership has a huge interest in these areas."

But please note what he does not say -- that Book World is safe and its future secure. This is pretty basic "we are deeply committed to doing whatever it is we are supposed to be deeply committed to doing" language that would be used even if coverage were reduced to printing stuff off the wire.

Politico reports: "High-level discussions about ending Book World have indeed taken place, according to a Post source with knowledge of the talks. However, no final decision has been made." 

(crossposted)

MORE:  I've heard from someone involved in Washington Post Radio (now defunct) who writes:

"We heard all that 'we are deeply committed...' talk right up until the very day that we found out the plug was being pulled...The way we found that WaPo radio would be no more was by way of a Paul Farhi column in the Post (May or June of '07). Yup, we were kept completely in the dark about things until we read about it in the Post."
January 16, 2009 6:09 PM | | Comments (5)
My former neighbor Alex Billet (the District's loss is Chicago's gain) has addressed an open letter to Aretha Franklin about her appearance during the inauguration next week.

It's too much to hope that she'll actually see this. But I can't help wishing she might respond appropriately.


January 15, 2009 10:58 AM | | Comments (0)

There's a fork in the road ahead
I don't which way I'm gonna turn
There's a fork in the road ahead

About this year
We salute the troops
They're all still there
In a fucking war
It's no good
Whose idea was that?

I've got hope
But you can't eat hope
I'm not done
Not giving up
Not cashing in
Too late

There's a bailout coming but it's not for me
It's for all those creeps watching tickers on TV
There's a bailout coming but it's not for me


January 14, 2009 11:30 AM | | Comments (0)

I was in touch with Astra Taylor about her documentary Žižek! quite a long time ago, or so it seems. She has a new film called Examined Life consisting of what might be called philosopher-in-the-street interviews. The talking heads include (to reshuffle the list alphabetically) Kwarne Anthony Appiah, Judith Butler, Michael Hardt, Martha Nussbaum, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Sunaura Taylor, Cornel West, and Slavoj Žižek.

Here's the trailer:

I haven't seen the film yet -- it's only showing in NYC now, it seems -- but would welcome a screener DVD. It's not like I'm going to bootleg it out of the trunk of my car or anything. I don't even have a car, if that makes the folks at Zeitgeist Films feel any better.

(crossposted)

January 6, 2009 1:31 PM | | Comments (2)

After getting a cold at the MLA -- and going several days without enough sleep -- it seems that now I've succumbed to a flu. At this point the days are starting to blur together into one long effort to take a nap, variously disrupted by the cats. (Peanut, our little calico, snores like a cartoon lumberjack.)

I'm falling behind on work and email, and for that matter even the opening the boxes of books that keep arriving.

Thanks to whoever introduced me to Danielle Ate the Sandwich, whose CD is probably very different from my usual fare. But I'd go see her perform in a minute. At least if I could go outside for that long.

Collected videos here. For some reason I'm partial to the Hall & Oates cover.

January 5, 2009 10:46 AM | | Comments (0)

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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