Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I love the Chicago Reader. Where else is one to read an article like this: http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/moviereviews/080522/ that trashes one of America’s most loved movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark? Granted, they give a good review to the Crystal Skull movie, and this piece is clearly designed to prop up the cultly DIY home movie adaptation (which, from what I’ve seen of the first ten minutes, is pretty impressive) but I feel the formula of this new generation of Reader critics is pretty much set up like this:

1. Trash a loved/respected icon.
2. Celebrate a more whimsical/obscure dabbler in the medium.
3. Snark, snark, snark.
4. Establish all-important indie cred and secure position as someone in the know.

Hey, who among us is not guilty of some form of this behavior? We like to be the source of knowledge, to show-off to anyone who’ll listen, to demonstrate how much we know and how deeply we’ve thought about it all. We like to introduce others to things and we like it more when we can do so in a way that calls attention to the lesser tastes of others. It’s exhilarating. Sort of.

Of course, I’m guilty, though I at least acknowledge that guilt. Anyway, I fought it a while back when I sent the Reader a letter in response to a critic’s dismissive and ridiculous review of the last Mark Strand collection. And I’ve read every issue of the Reader since then and will continue to, despite (or, perhaps, because of) the guarantee that I will at some point shake my head and softly laugh.

I turn 37 in less than a month

All I want for my birthday is money for Europe. Donations are accepted, thank you. I’ll bring you back a cheap souvenir.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Geek moment, pardon

So last night I’m in class and I get back from break to hear my professor discussing Nabokov with one of the students. I ask both of them if they have read Felipe Alfau, who, in an essay I read recently, was compared to Nabokov, as well as Borges and Calvino (though he predates all of them). The prof sort of dismissed Alfau, though he said he has not read him. He then, for some reason, compared him David Foster Wallace and Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen, saying he was like them in the sense that he was show-offy and wrote as if to convey how much more than you he knew. Now, I think all the other writers mentioned are indeed too cute and clever for their own good, but Alfau? A Spaniard who published his first of only 2 novels in 1928? A writer of the inventive and incredibly fun Locos: A Comedy of Gestures that does, indeed, play with the conventions of the novel, though not in the overly academic manner of David Foster Wallace (yawn) or the hipper-than-thou fashion of Dave Eggers. My jaw hit the desk.

The prof then said something equally dismissive about the Dalkey Archive writers, which is absurd considering one of his heroes is Flan O’Brien, a Dalkey Archive writer, in fact, the writer for whom Dalkey is named.

I’m counting the days until summer.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trying to decide what to eat

Find a Grave

In case you want to find a person’s eternal resting place:


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Increasingly, I find I have little to say and more pressing concerns than this here page. I like posting pictures and links to sites run by people with time and energy to burn. I’d ask for forgiveness if anyone actually came here and expected something. In the meantime, check out my photo site that serves to explore the phenomenon of writers and their need to pose with hands to their face:


Gato: the literate cat relaxes

What’s he hiding?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today’s Funny

Mas 2666

From the Chilean Embassy in Washington, D.C., an old article on Bolaño that only raises the anticipation of 2666:


Monday, May 12, 2008

New frames for the new prescription. I have to say, these glasses make me look almost too handsome.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"A Woman's Work is Trevor Dunn"

Trevor Dunn has a new site:


Here he explains the meaning behind my favorite composition of his, Mr. Bungle’s “Retrovertigo”:

"While certain 'retro' fashions and lifestyles are considered hip, the on-going tradition of human suffering continues. As the world progresses technologically, certain people value and emulate 'the good ol' days', while others are born into poverty never having progressed past the dark ages. The title 'retrovertigo' is a term I came up with to describe my nausea regarding this phenomena. At the time I was living in SF where swing dancing was making a come-back, silicon valley was exploding, vintage clothes were expensive, and the notion that anything could be bought or sold--a soul, a tragedy, the end of the world---seemed viable."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Son of Nabokov

A quite funny interview with Nabokov’s son, who appears as learned and smart-assed as his father:


Thursday, May 01, 2008

“Throw shoes at the local children.”