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Literature, & Etc.

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Links Galore:

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What the internet knows about you.

I’m not sure why this is entirely necessary as an analysis. I mean how insecure can a guy be…apparently this insecure. Urinal protocol vulnerability.

Slang in the Great Depression. Less’n you’re a dumbcluck, you’re gonna open up that bazoo and speak the language that taught John Swartzwelder everything he knows.

I realize this is not a link exactly but it is still awesome.

Snark.

This blog is hilarious. And this post even more so: 60ish Literary Euphemisms for Masturbation.

Written by thebeliever07

September 3, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Posted in art, media, random, Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Gastronomic Exotica by Louis Bakay

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Several things are interesting about Dr. Louis Bakay. The first being that he is a brain surgeon and historian on the Faculty of Harvard Medical School, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery of the University of Buffalo. The second is that in his past time he enjoys reading and writing about a history of epicures and societies obsession and love for all things food-related. The third is that he is not even a passable cook but an enthusiastic gourmet. flegel3

Random books are the best and I stumbled across this in the food section a week ago while browsing for some gifts for a few of my friends. Dr. Bakay takes the reader through a history of eating from the Stone Age where “the bones of animals found during excavations in Europe reveal what man ate in prehistoric times” all the way to modern French cuisine.

The book is full of interesting facts and random information surrounding the history of how society (mainly Western) has consumed food. For example:

“A typical example of feudal meals was one recorded of the wedding of Wilhelm von Rosenberg at his castle in Bohemia in 1578: 370 oxen; 98 wild boar; 2,292 hares; 3,910 patridge; 22,687 thrushes; 12,887 chickens; 3,000 capons; a large number of eel, carp, salmon, and pike. Also 5 tons of oysters and 40,837 eggs. It was washed down by 6,405 pails of wine.”

You have to love the excess of it all. Not that much has changed since then, but still all of that for a single wedding is impressive.

If you can find this book, it seems to be out of print, or if you can find me and remind me to lend it out, this is definitely a fascinating review of how we eat through the ages. Cheers.

Written by thebeliever07

August 21, 2009 at 11:27 am

A book should be a book, right?

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I’ve read two recent articles over at the Guardian and it has made me reflect on a trend that seems to be occurring at the moment, the blending of mixed media when it comes to the book form.

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Nick Cave, a musician, poet, artist, actor, dare I say it: renaissance man recently released: “Nick Cave’s new novel The Death of Bunny Munro – the story of a sex-maniac travelling salesman taking his last road trip – goes to market through the iPhone App Store, in an enhanced edition that is being launched before the print version.”

The enhanced app has the following advantages:

you can faff with fonts, change colour, bookmark it, and so on; and there’s some smart social networking stuff attached. But it also includes enhancements that could have a noticeable effect on the experience of reading. Instead of paginating the book conventionally, it’s presented as a continuous vertical scroll (one geek-pleasing trick is that you can adjust the scrolling speed with the angle of tilt of the phone), and the App includes an audiobook that syncs with the written text. Pop on the headphones, thumb the screen and Cave’s voice picks up where you left off.

So the question is? Is all of that necessary for the enjoyment of a book? Thomas Pynchon’s latest release Inherent Vice now has an added feature to “enhance” the reading. Pynchon has released a playlist to accompany the reading:

a list of the songs which feature in Inherent Vice, which follows the story of pot-smoking private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello. From The Beach Boys (God Only Knows and Help Me, Rhonda) to The Beatles (Can’t Buy Me Love), Frank Sinatra (Fly Me to the Moon) and Pink Floyd (Interstellar Overdrive), the soundtrack, whichhe designed for Amazon.com, is a journey through the music of the 1960s, the setting for his new novel.

It also includes a few fictional tunes: a song “performed” by Doc himself, Skyful of Hearts, as well as providing a nod to Scott Oof of Vineland fame, whose band Beer “performs” the theme song from The Big Valley.

Again, I have to ask if all of this is necessary for the reading of a book? I guess on the one hand I can understand that in today’s modern world with all of the distractions that are constantly around us, I can understand the desire to add some pizzazz and punch to a work of art in any medium to attract people so that they generate some interest and passion for the work. But it is also sad that it takes this much excess to draw the eye.

A book cannot be a book anymore, it must have a playlist, it must be read to us, it must glow in the dark and be downloaded instantly into our minds.

The fact that books now have “trailers” astounds me and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not? Good in catching the eye, but as I’ve said, bad because this signifies that we are too caught up in the light-show and that these works cannot simply stand on their own now.

I enjoy mixed media and I support the arts in all of its forms, but still, sometimes a book should just be a book. Maybe I’m turning into a curmudgeon (I can hear Erin saying outloud, “turning into….” with a very particular tone).

Your thoughts?

Written by thebeliever07

August 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm

For Worse

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Ok, here goes. I have a long history with this comic strip. For those unaware For Better of For Worse is a long running family comic by Lynne Johnston. The comic ran for 28 years and one of its signature elements is that it aged the characters in “real” time. So as time progressed in our world, so too did it in the characters, a young couple whose family grows and passes through various generations. Her comic is noted for tackling tough issues: marriage, parenthood, homosexuality, death, birth, etc. [ How well it tackles these issues is another matter all together. ]

The comic runs very much like a family sitcom. I think I noticed this comic in my newspaper back when I was a young adult and I would glance at the panels and usually would move on. It never struck me as anything significant, as a child I preferred Peanuts & Marmaduke. About 5 or 6 years ago I was sitting at Chapters during one of my breaks and I picked up a massive anthology of her work, a compendium of 20 years of strips and it somehow infected me. I found myself pouring through the various collections she had released throughout the history of the strip. I found myself looking forward to the events of the family. “Farley is getting old, what’s up with that?” … “Wow, he just came out to his friend, interesting.” … “She’s working with Native Americans up north, didn’t realize they had it so poor.” While the strip is not always politically correct, I mean lets face it, who among us is without a single prejudice or bias; still Lynn Johnston tackled some fairly heavy subjects and it is nice to see a Canadian work of art so popular throughout the world examining the minutia of small town family life.

Recently though, the strip has changed and is not as “progressive” as it once claimed to be.

The comic began in September 1979, and ended the main story on August 30, 2008, with a postscript epilogue the following day. The various family members, all grown up and with children of their own was given some closure. Then, beginning on September 3, 2007,[3] For Better or For Worse changed to a format featuring a mixture of new, old and retouched work, which allowed Johnston to “keep alive her partly autobiographical comic while not having to devote as much time to it.”[1] On September 1, 2008, Johnston began what she calls “new-runs”, restarting her storyline with new art and jokes. The time frame appears to be 26 years before the present day.

Stephen Pastis comic artist and writer of one of the best strips ever made: Pearls Before Swine [ Which I urge you to seek out and enjoy. comics.com & gocomics.com ] made this joke about the new format: In the strip, Pig referred to For Better or For Worse as “that great strip that was gonna retire, but then didn’t, then started running repeats, then didn’t, then ran new ones, but then fixed up the old ones, and now is gonna run new old un-new new ones”.

Ok, so why this blog post on FBoFW you ask? With the new format I and I am sure a few others thought, this will be nice. Her character who started off as a young 20 something wife/mother ended up as a retired book seller, so this “reboot” of her strip into the “classic” era would put Elly back in a more youthful place, providing some more commentary on young women who juggle family and work.

This is not what has happened. One thing that I have noticed throughout this strip is the firm adherence to the “nuclear family” model. Yes, yes, fans will cite the those historic panels and moments where she did tackle issues: homosexuality with Lawrence a friend of Elly’s eldest child Michael who came out to his mother:

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I’ll let you reflect on the way that Mrs. Johnston tackles this issue yet still conforms to basic stereotypes of how heterosexuals view homosexuality. Look at the last strip, oh you’re so witty Michael 😦 Ugh!

Anyways, you can see from this series of panels that she does indeed bring up subjects that people encounter every day and for the most part it is done well. I’m not saying it’s perfect but there you go.

Now with this reboot, she was afforded the opportunity to go back and let a whole new generation see how Elly transformed herself from a young house wife whose sole occupation was the household, to a woman who balanced a hectic lifestyle of work (at a bookstore, and subsequently bookstore owner), along with her husband, and children, and grand-children. It was a nice thing to watch her character grow and as much as the Nuclear Model was still emphasized, it did show a woman in the work force and not simply in a domestic capacity.

This “reboot” is what pisses me off. I think Mrs. Johnston has gone senile in her old age and has reverted back to a 1950’s Ward & June Cleaver idealization of the home. Her current strips reflect the standard: HUSBAND WORKS, WOMAN CLEANS AND COOKS model. Let me post a few strips from the past few months and you reflect on what kind of a message she sends to readers and young adults everywhere. Please, post some commentary and lets get some discussion going, it pisses me off so much. Cheers.

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Why work when you can clean and cook, forget your dreams...right?

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You can't be married and feel beautiful about yourself.

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I just sign shit, I cannot think or read or pay bills, I'm only a housewife."

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You know it's your fault for not keeping yourself pretty for me.

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Housewives are desperate and lonely.

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Translation: You're good enough to be a hooker tonight.

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Having a good education and career are nothing unless you're a MRS.

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I think your friends are hot and I've missed the point of this conversation. I'm an idiot husband/man.

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I'm the provider, just ask for your allowance and I'll consider it, now back into the cage with you.

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Cook, Clean, Lather, Rinse, Repeat!

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I think your son might be gay. He's crying a lot, so not manish, he's what 7 or 8 now, shouldn't he be out working and womanizing by now.

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(Loss for words and caption for this one.)

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This one is interesting. In the original series, Michael meets a girl in university who he falls in love with, they end up married and having kids. Lynn has seen fit to go back and rewrite Michael's childhood so that they once encountered each other and "liked" each other, completing that fantasy of the childhood sweetheart, it's nice when things fit into neat little boxes and packages, life is just this simple and uncomplicated isn't it.

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Don't ask me, I'm just a man and can't possibly understand "womanish" feelings and junk.

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You're doing that "thinking" business again, what have I told you about that.

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Your mom was ugly, and not tv ugly, but ugly ugly.

Written by thebeliever07

July 10, 2009 at 9:14 am

Kevin Van Aelst

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Some people are very talented when it comes to art and media. Kevin Van Aelst is one of those people. Check out his website and a few of my favorites below. Clicky, Clicky.

appleglobeweb

cloudstogetherweb

Written by thebeliever07

June 19, 2009 at 11:39 am

Posted in art, media

Tagged with , ,

“The strangest thing I’ve signed is a woman’s artificial leg,”

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To Marty, This bespells doom! A recent reading in Manhattan at the Strand bookstore by David Sedaris, whose most recent book is “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” may have offered a glimpse of the future. A man named Marty who had waited in the book-signing line presented his Kindle, on the back of which Mr. Sedaris, in mock horror, wrote, “This bespells doom.” (The signed Kindle was photographed, but its owner’s full name is unknown.)  CLICK FOR MORE:

To Marty, This bespells doom! A recent reading in Manhattan at the Strand bookstore by David Sedaris, whose most recent book is “When You Are Engulfed in Flames,” may have offered a glimpse of the future. A man named Marty who had waited in the book-signing line presented his Kindle, on the back of which Mr. Sedaris, in mock horror, wrote, “This bespells doom.” (The signed Kindle was photographed, but its owner’s full name is unknown.) CLICK FOR MORE

Written by thebeliever07

June 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm

With Apologies to Mr. Salinger

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J.D. Salinger sues author over ‘sequel’. 

I’m not sure I agree with Mr. Salinger’s claim: The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and says the right to create a sequel to the Catcher in the Rye or use the character Holden Caulfield belongs only to Salinger.”

I think it is pretty obvious that this is a work inspired by his that has taken a character from his literary world and transplanted it into another. The Guardian writes: In 60 Years Later – scheduled to be published in Britain this summer and in the US in the autumn – a character very much like Caulfield is a 76-year-old escapee from a retirement home identified as “Mr C”.

The novel is dedicated to Salinger, who is a character in it wondering whether to continue Caulfield’s story. 

If every artist started to protect their work in such a manner, so much of the wonderful art that we have in our world would be lost. Everyone steals and adapts and moves forward. As if Mr. Salinger was not influenced by other writers and characters from his own time. 

I have great respect for his works and for he need of privacy but this seems a bit much.

robinfullfinal

Thank You and You’re Welcome. NO THANKS!

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I get annoyed with a lot of things in life, but one that really irks me is when people are proud of their ignorance. 

Kanye West has now joined the ranks of the woefully ignorant and misinformed. 

“I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life,” he said.

“Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed,” West said. “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. 

“My mom taught me to believe in my flyness and conquer my shyness,” he said, defining “flyness” as confidence.

So writes Kanye in a book that he’s recently released: KY_TYYWv2917

Apparently rap-stars who are popular in mainstream media have credibility when it comes to writing and as such can expound on the virtues and vices of life. I am sure that Kanye West has indeed lived an amazing life and faced struggles and tribulations the like of which I’ve never seen. But the quotation above [ click on image for more at his blog ], is something that angers me quite a bit. He certainly has every right to “write” a book and to share his thoughts and life story, or as he calls his wisdom “Kanye-isms.”

It is not so much the latter, but the former part of that quote that pisses me off. To proclaim proudly of the fact that he does not read is the height of absurdity and stupidity. 

As I’ve already said, he certainly has every right to tell his life story or his life philosophy or whatever the hell he thinks this book is about, but to share this one thought pisses me right off. Whether you want to admit it or not, fan or not a fan, Kanye has amazing influence in the world and as a result, with children. 

Another irony of his life, someone who looks down upon the written word, sure seems to rely heavily on their influence, after all what is rap if not poetry set to music. UGH!

He is sending the wrong message by telling children that everything he’s learned he’s learned in life. Kind of ironic, telling people that they should not read a book and go out and live life from a book that you’ve just published. Here’s a small peak inside from his website: 

3164_50b00fd2626877aea5a30753874ca3e7 (1)

Tell you what Kanye, you got what you wanted because I certainly won’t be picking up this trash philosophy that you’re attempting to espouse on the larger public. 

It is already difficult to get children reading when there are so many distractions in the world [ ipods, computers, television, etc.. ], the last thing we need is someone who has influence like Kanye preaching his idiotic message to the world. Here’s hoping this book fails.

Oh and the best part of this entire issue, courtesy of MSNBC:

West’s derision of books comes despite the fact that his late mother, Donda West, was a university English professor before she retired to manage his music career. She died in 2007 of complications following cosmetic surgery.

Written by thebeliever07

May 28, 2009 at 8:29 am

Posted in art, book reviews, media

Tagged with , , , , ,

Hay Festival Blues

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One of the many reasons I wish I lived in England is because here in Canada we lack the Hay Festival.

ziaie07For those unawares:

The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts is an annual literature festival held in Hay-on-WyeWales for ten days from May to June. Devised by Peter Florence in 1988, the festival was described by Bill Clinton in 2001 as “The Woodstock of the mind”. Since its inception, the festival was held at a variety of venues around Hay until 2005 when it moved to a central location just outside of the town. The Guardianhas been the main sponsor of the festival since 2002, succeeding The Sunday Times.

The festival has expanded in recent years and now includes musical performances and film previews. A children’s festival, “Hay Fever”, runs alongside the main festival. It has also expanded internationally and sister festivals take place in Cartagena and Segovia.

The 2008 festival included: Gore VidalSalman RushdieJohn IrvingWill SelfJulian BarnesJimmy CarterJhumpa LahiriNassim Nicholas TalebIan McEwanNaomi KleinChristopher HitchensStephen FryBoris SpasskyGary KasparovHanif KureishiJames Ivoryand John Bolton.

The Hay Festival is one of 11 Welsh winners of The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise for 2009.  [ Courtesy of Wikipedia ]

It would be nice to have an arts festival that celebrated literature in such a way, but sadly we do not. For those who have interest though, there is non-stop coverage over at the Guardian Book Page and here at the Hay Festival Homepage

From the implications of climate change, food supply, eco-footprint, all the way to interviews with authors and their most recent works, the Hay Festival is a hodge-podge of arts, entertainment, and culture of the highest order open and available for people to explore and consume. It’s a wonderful idea to invite top thinkers, writers, artists, musicians, and allow them to interact with society. 

This is me jealous of my lack of access to such a beautiful collection of minds.

Written by thebeliever07

May 27, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Zot! by Scott McCloud

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Zot! by Scott McCloud is a comic book created by Scott McCloud in 1984 and published by Eclipse Comicsuntil 1990 as a lighthearted alternative to the darker and more violent comics that predominated the industry during that period. There were a total of 36 issues, with the first ten in color and the remainder in black and white. McCloud credited Astro Boy creatorOsamu Tezuka as a major influence on the book, making it one of the first manga-inspired American comic books. [ Courtesy of Wiki a00005gt2

If you have some money laying around and I realize it has become more and more difficult to find such things, this is definitely worth investing in.

McCloudScott McCloud is known in the comic/graphic novel industry for his seminal graphic novel on the process and art of graphic novels in his two works: Understanding Comics & Making Comics. McCloud was the principal author of the Creator’s Bill of Rights, a 1988 document with the stated aim of protecting the rights of comic book creators and help aid against the exploitation of comics artists and writers by corporate work-for-hire practices.

Zot! centers around a young teenage girl, Jenny Weaver and her friends who befriend Zot!, a cross between 1950’s Superman & Shazaam. Just think good looking, fast-talking, boy-scout with a sense of humor and an astro-boy like array of powers. Jenny & Zot! travel back and forth between two different worlds, Jenny’s world which is our own and Zot’s, a hyperbolic fantastical mirror of Jenny’s. Super-villains travel in and out of both worlds complicating the lives of Zot and Jenny’s friends. What makes this series stand out for me is the way that McCloud manages to keep a fair bit of reality in the types of teenager-like problems that Jenny faces [ sex, drugs, violence, growth, etc.. ], yet throughout these various issues that are brought up in the backdrop of Zot and his various adventures, there is just enough fantasy and escapism. 

I think this is definitely worth picking up and I plan on re-reading mine soon. Cheers. 

Oh and if you have twitter, Scott McCloud is listed and worth checking out, some amazing insight into the writing process of comics if that is where your interest rests. Enjoy.

Written by thebeliever07

May 25, 2009 at 3:20 pm