- So where will you be when the United Nations invades?
- Poe to Shakespeare and Burns: Lincoln’s favorite poetry.
- Foreign policy flapdoodle and the possible return of ol’ Dick Nixon?
- The Sequaltology bracket is all well and awesome, but is it worth anything without The Road Warrior?
- Admired and disliked all at the same time: rich people.
- When reviews are real, and when they’re really really not (meaning: paid for).
- This is a horrible way to act like a real spy.
- Welcome back, culture war.
- Coming soon: special-edition Campbell’s Soup cans. Yes.
- The end of this particular (race) era.
- Melville, kills career with Moby-Dick, says forget this, I’m going to Jerusalem!
- The dancing, dear Lord, the dancing.
- What, oh what happened to the home state? This happened, and then people started moving.
- Print and read: “A steady ingestion of super-PAC poison, talking-point Novocain and fund-raising spam.”
Monthly Archives: August 2012
Care to run a bookstore for a couple months? That’s the question being asked right now by Wendy Welch and Jack Beck, co-owners of Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books, located in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Welch has written a book, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book, and the two of them are going to be away on a promotional tour.
Welch told Fresh Eyes Now:
It’s ironic that it’s a book about independent bookstores that’s got me in this position, but I cannot close our community bookstore to gallivant off and have fun with other bookstores…. Our shop is in a small rural community of 5,400 and it doesn’t do enough trade to hire someone in at a living wage. Plus we have two dogs and three cats on staff. So what we’re offering is complete room and board for a person or couple (from laundry soap to the occasional pizza delivery) in return for him/her/them watching the shop for October and November, when most of the ‘road trip’ activities for the book take place.
Think of it: Worse employment offers are made every minute of every day, and they never involve dogs, cats, or books, much all three together. (h/t Jacket Copy)
Good enough that Colson Whitehead is covering the Olympics (somewhat post-facto) for Grantland. (His conversations with the W.G. Sebald app beat most of what NBC had to say.)
But even better that once his first piece actually takes him to London itself, Whitehead’s thoughts immediately turn towards the apocalypse:
…I started scoring events in terms of what they’d offer in a human-annihilation-type scenario. Offensewise, archery skills seemed like an obvious asset at first. But the archers’ high-tech bows wouldn’t survive a day of jumping off roofs, tromping through sewers, and escaping cannibal hordes. The bows were items of cruel but fragile beauty, with their carbon limbs and polyethylene strings, their V-bar extenders and side-rod stabilizer doohickeys. Great for the marksman’s art, but no good in a volume-kill scenario. You’d be better off with a simple machete. The qualifying heats made it clear that swimming is a good life skill or whatever, but only marathon-distance swimming was going to help you make it to the island after a squabble over rations or sex resulted in your tiny escape vessel overturning. Triathlon, I decided, with its endurance super-combo of swimming, biking, and running, solved multiple problem areas. I made a note to see it in person.
Whitehead published his own take on the zombie apocalypse last year, Zone One. Not so much archery in it, sadly enough—he left that to Suzanne Collins.
With its can-you-believe-this? story, slacker protagonists, and rueful gravitas, Sleepwalk With Me could easily have been This American Life: The Movie. That it’s not, even though writer, star, and co-director Mike Birbiglia is a longtime favored TAL performer, is a testament to his multifaceted appeal. The movie doesn’t quite translate that appeal, just as it doesn’t translate the original bit’s conversational stage format to a narrative…
Sleepwalk with Me is playing now in (very) limited release; it should be expanding much wider through the fall. My review is at PopMatters.
You can see the trailer here:
When novelist/screenwriter/storeowner Larry McMurtry announced The Last Book Sale, he didn’t really know how many people would trek down to his retail emporium in Archer City, Texas to buy up some of the 300,000+ titles that were on offer. In the end, he reported in the New York Review of Books, “everything sold but the fiction … I was irritated to discover that I still had 30,000 novels to sell.”
The auction went well, overall, particularly in regards to this title:
The star item on the first day was typescript of some twenty-nine story-ettes of an erotic nature. These had been commissioned in the 40s by the oilman in Ardmore, Oklahoma; among the writers who wrote these trifles were Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell and others. The late G. Legman knew the oil man’s name but never revealed it. I have owned this curiosity for more than twenty years; it went to Between the Covers for $2,750.
Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary makes the case that Barack Obama is a man obsessed with fulfilling the “dream” of his dead father, a staunch anti-colonialist, so much so that he is actively working to degrade America as a world power. While this goal has been camouflaged thus far, the film contends, were Obama to be reelected, his true radicalism would be unleashed. To underline this threat, near its end, the film features a picture of Founding Father Ben Franklin, set aflame…
2016: Obama’s America is playing now in limited release, but is due to expand wider in the coming weeks after a stronger-than-expected opening run. My full review is at PopMatters.
You can see the trailer here:
- So where does billionaire Bill Koch like to go and play John Galt? Why here, of course.
- Looks like Superman and Wonder Woman are … ahem.
- Electioneering? Gasp, no! It’s “social welfare” charity.
- Prague, more than hell.
- Who gives more to charity per capita, the rich or the poor?
- Hollande: “This crime took place here, in our capital, in our streets, the courtyards of our buildings, our stairways, our school playgrounds.”
- Niall Ferguson on why Barry’s gotta go; the fact-checked version, and Andrew Sullivan’s take.
- Well, some people say…
- A DHS employee was arrested nearly every day last year.
- It’s like saying that only witches float.
- Print and read: Fixing the unadulterated mess that are American hospitals, and how studying the Cheesecake Factory might help (might).
- Writing advice from David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith, and others, free on the Mac.
One of the late Tony Scott’s films that broke free of his glossy Top Gun / Beverly Hills Cop 2 template was 1993’s True Romance. Scripted by Quentin Tarantino and his old running buddy Roger Avary, it featured Clarence (Christian Slater), an Elvis-worshipping Tarantino-esque comic-book geek who goes on the run with the proverbial golden-hearted hooker Alabama (Patricia Arquette) after killing her pimp (Gary Oldman). Everything ends up in a feather-strewn and John Woo-esque shootout with mobsters, movie producers, and the FBI. With its glossy cinematography and crowded cast of stars who wanted in on the next big thing, this was a turning point for Scott and Tarantino in specific, and Hollywood in general…
My article “What ‘True Romance’ Did for Tony Scott and Hollywood” is up at PopMatters.
The original trailer is here:
Besides acting in too many great films to mention—only one of which, 1938′s The Adventures of Robin Hood, would be enough for any actor to achieve immortality—the ever-enthusiastic Erroll Flynn was also an author of sorts.
Just a few months after his death in 1959, Flynn’s “autobiography” My Wicked, Wicked Ways was published, instantly scandalizing Hollywood for its brazen cynicism and warts-and-all attitude. Of course, it’s never been out of print since.
Crafted mostly by Earl Conrad and a team of stenographers and allegedly cribbed in parts from other sources (including even Thoreau’s Walden), the book is full of pithy declamations about the good life lived hard. Among them:
I have been in rebellion against God and Government ever since I can remember … But I had my vodka—and had faith in that. It came in cases. I got up in the morning and reached. I hawked, coughed around a while, took another drink, started the day.
And also this:
Living I have done, enormously, like a gourmand eating the world, and I don’t suppose it is egotism, but only fact, to suggest that few others alive in the present century have taken into their maw more of the world than have I.
Well, it works for some.