Sunday, June 10, 2012

Interview at Shelf Awareness. Months later.

Oh. Did I fail to mention that I am famous?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Three Percent Podcast

Oh, hey. I participated in this podcast, too.

Book Recommendation: The New Tourism by Harry Mathews

I joined my colleagues at the bookstores in recommending poetry to the Chicago Maroon. It's a big day!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Book Review: Kornel Esti by Dezso Kosztolányi

Apparently, I wrote this for the Review of Contemporary Fiction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Street View

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Photos from Google StreetView

Hello, friends. I have just discovered the internet and I would love to tell you about some of its most interesting features. Allow me to hint, for example, at the insane high of mindlessly bidding on eBay auctions, hoping all the while that your compulsion to win will not result in an actual win. Competing is free, but winning will cost you. Dearly.

Another thing the internet will cost you is time. Time spent watching teenagers on YouTube do ukulele covers of your favorite songs. Time spent reading the comments on every YouTube video. Time spent deciding whether a cover of What I Got by Sublime is worth one of my coveted "Thumbs up."

And time spent traveling through the south side of Chicago via Google StreetView. And taking screen captures. Because that's how I get around.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

This is definitely where I am from

Suspicious Person
Occurred 5:30pm on 11/1

Highland Grove Drive and West Fabish Drive
Complainant reported a subject in a white mask dancing at the intersection. Officers located a subject that was performing his pantomime. He was advised that some residents apparently find mimes disconcerting and he agreed to go home.

via the Buffalo Grove Police Blotter

Thursday, September 22, 2011

how I spent my summer vacation

Jonas Salk and James K. Polk stalk elk to make caulk and milk worms to make silk. Salk charms folk with slick talk to bilk the folk who buy silk and caulk, but Polk will balk when faced with bilking folk. He’d prefer to use oil and yolk to make mayonnaise in bulk for hulking folk like Peter Falk.

All day, Falk and his ilk skulk about, sipping mayo like milk just to add to their bulk, and looking for talc with which to make chalk. All Falk needs to make chalk is talc, and Falk gets the bulk of his talc on the boardwalk. And Mr. Polk sulks with caulk, silk, and Salk because Falk has no use for worm silk or elk caulk and even less use for a sulky balky Polk and a slick-talking Salk. All Falk needs is talc for his chalk and oil with yolk for his mayo in bulk.

And he has those things.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I wrote this

I wrote this piece about William Gibson for the Chicago Humanities Festival blog. I mentioned it on Facebook, mine and the bookstore's, and I sent it to my mom, and so on. But William Gibson tweeted it and now hundreds of people have read it. Ok.

Umberto Eco, ostensibly the subject of another more self-absorbed blog I wrote for CHF, must not be on Twitter.
If he were, I would be pure famous.

In other news, I was at this book party last month. You would have loved it, maybe. You totally should have gone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

by the way

Monday, August 08, 2011

I am not free

I picked up a day planner from the bookstore today because I have a sense that I will have things to do soon. Currently, nothing is written in my day planner, but that doesn't mean I am free.

I am definitely not free on Saturday, February 11th because, in my planner, there is no Saturday, February 11th. On the next page, there's no Wednesday, February 15th; I won't be making appointments or taking meetings that day, either. The same goes for February 29th.

The day planner was free--of charge, anyway--because there are a few days missing, torn out by some thoughtful customer.

I am not free. Not on those days, and not on any others.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

What passes for a movie review in this day and age

I don't know if THE FUTURE is a good movie or a bad one. I try to judge that sort of thing as whatever I perceive the filmmaker—or author, or playwright—intended against what I actually experienced. But I'm a simple viewer, and if I don't feel like I understand a film—or, in fact, FILM as a medium-- I can't be equipped to judge it. I have no idea what Miranda July might have been trying to do or why. From the opening voiceover by a dead cat to the overexposed closing by the same dead cat, I was terribly affected by a hollow hopelessness, a sense that, as affected as July is or chooses to be, THE FUTURE was one of the darkest, least redemptive movies I have ever seen. Between the consciously too-cute exchanges by her leads, July's characters turn away, over and over again, from anything like redemption. They sleepwalk into filthy relationships, they bathe children, they dance inside too-symbolic t-shirts, and they argue with the moon. They vaguely pursue satisfaction without ever achieving it, without ever even identifying what would satisfy them, and the story grows dense with unrealistic and unrealized aspiration, and with incoherent longing, and with half-hearted movement. For me, this was nauseatingly real and it left me completely subdued, unable even to laugh at the dead cat, unable to laugh at the awkward sex, unable to laugh at the Lollapalooza crowds I saw on the way home. I just felt kind of sick.

It's possible that I've never written a review of a film before, and it's certain that I've usually preferred not to comment on movies beyond whether or not I liked them, or found them funny, or whether or not they made me cry. It's possible that July wanted me to be sick, in which case, bravo, I guess. I don't really understand filmmaking, and I only intermittently understand what is good, and what makes a thing good. Today, though, it seems to me that a movie can have varying levels of depth, and the unfortunate analogy I came up with on my bus ride home from the movie was that of knitting. I know next to nothing about knitting, but bear with me, if only because you already have.

It seems to me that knitting can be tight or loose and that a movie can also be either tight or loose. A filmmaker can present a complete image of a world, a tightly-knit experience on the screen that is complete in itself. Or, in silence and by using a sort of cinematic negative space, a filmmaker can create a loose-knit sort of film through which the viewer can glimpse in what might be a mirror what could be their own experience--or what might be the world outside the theatre. It might be the difference in evoking an emotion, in plucking whatever emotional strings might be there to pluck, and in allowing a person to feel something about what they've seen. I don't know which is more manipulative, but I'm confident in which is more devastating. What Ms. July—that sounds oddly like a centerfold; I take back the "Ms."—has done is she's created a hazy and centerless web of story, a knit that might have been made only for her, that is loose around the middle, and tight at all of the edges.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Sestina

It's no secret that I'm a sympathetic soul. It's no secret that I troll white-power message boards and try to piece together the tiny (hate-filled) dramas of their lives. It doesn't make me feel better about being hated, but it helps me love the them, the haters, in a kind of patronizing way that the white nationalists would probably prefer not to know about. They are lost, like most of the rest of us, and grasping.

Also, they're good for a sestina.

I knew a man who looked at his life,
and didn’t like the crummy future in front of him.
18-years-old and already working for his dad.
His dad was a stern man,
and the work was hard carny work
that wore the body out young.

An 18-year-old is young,
but old enough to want more from life--
old enough to want good work.
He knew the air force would be good to him
and that it would make him a man,
a better one than his dad.

And so, without a word to his dad,
who was no longer young,
the boy went and became a man,
and learned skills that would take him far in life.
Or at least far from home--which was fine with him.
After all, aircraft repair is good work.

And that’s the only way it was going to work,
the only thing that could keep him from becoming his dad,
and save himself from that crummy future he saw ahead of him.
The air force doesn’t care if you’re young,
or where you come from in life.
All they need is a man.

And what they got was a man:
a man who could do all kinds of work,
and who was ready to give his life,
(anything to escape his dad)
a man who wasn’t too young.
What they got was him.

I don’t often think about him,
as a boy or as a man.
I only remember him as young,
dirt-poor, but willing, happy to work,
and his poor old dad,
who worked as a carny for the rest of his life.

My friend's young brothers didn’t follow him
they got work, sometimes, but it wasn’t fit for a man
But that’s life, and who wants to be their dad?