An indictment really helps your novel zoom up the charts... [Amazon.com sales rank for Lewis "Scooter" Libby's The Apprentice: yesterday - #16,249, today - #387] All I want to know is this: why does a full-grown man, supposedly old enough (55) to know better, encourage everyone to continue using the nickname "Scooter"?
Seven Souls, by Bill Laswell and Material: an album which hypnotically blends dub, Egyptian wailing, late-25th-century dance music, and incomparably strange prose-poetry composed/performed by the late William S. Burroughs (sample from track 4, Ineffect):
Sound can act as a painkiller. To date, we do not have music sufficiently powerful to act as a practical weapon.
The game is called find your adversary. The adversary's game plan is to persuade you that he does not exist.
Musical intelligence. Agent attends a concert and receives his instructions. Information and directives in and out through street singers, musical broadcasts, jukeboxes, records, high school bands, whistling boys, cabaret performers, singing waiters, transistor radios.
"Red sails in the sunset
Way out on the sea..."
This is music for slipping into the headphones late, late at night, when you're not really sure if you're dreaming or hallucinating.
Tock Tick: a dreamy, rhythmic collaboration, with music by Simon Heselev. Kurt Vonnegut's original artwork, "Astronomy," is on the cover, and Vonnegut reads excerpts from his novel, Slaughterhouse-Five:
Billy Pilgrim could not sleep on his daughter's wedding night. He was forty-four. The wedding had taken place that afternoon in a gaily-striped tent in Billy's back yard. The stripes were orange and black. Billy padded downstairs on his blue and ivory feet. He went into the kitchen, where the moonlight called his attention to a half bottle of champagne on the kitchen table, all that was left from the reception in the tent. Somebody had stoppered it again. "Drink me," it seemed to say. So Billy uncorked it with his thumbs. It didn't make a pop. The champagne was dead. So it goes. He went into the living room, swinging the bottle like a dinner bell, turned on the television. He came slightly unstuck in time, saw the late movie backwards, then forwards again. It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. He came slightly unstuck in time. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:
American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen.
They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation. The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes.
The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes.
But there were still a few wounded Americans, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighter planes came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new. When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work.
The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve. So it goes.
Entropy in the world of sculpture. Nam June Paik (1932—) and his family left their native Korea in 1950, during that country's civil war. After studying art and music in Hong Kong, Japan and Germany, he became associated with the Fluxus group in the early 60s, and moved from avant-garde music to happenings/performance art. He also began making "altered TVs" which manipulated television signals with magnets and used video feedback, synthesizers, and other devices to produce kaleidoscopic shapes and luminous colors. Paik housed these images in the bodies of cheap, secondhand televisions. He is now often called the father of video art.
In 1985-86, Paik used the American flag as the basis for three sculptures: Video Flag X (Chase Manhattan Bank collection), Video Flag Y (Detroit Institute of Arts) and Video Flag Z (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). The latter piece was a 6-foot-high grid of 84 white Quasar monitors flashing a laserdisc-driven mosaic of images that together formed an American flag in pulsating red, white and blue. Today, those screens are dark, and the artwork is packed in the museum's warehouse. "We can't find replacement parts anymore," said LACMA conservator John Hirx. "We're a museum. We're not a TV manufacturing plant."
No good deed goes unpunished: Publishers try to halt Google library plan. Google's Library Project was created to scan and index the book collections of several major research libraries (Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, University of Michigan and the New York Public Library) to make the content searchable through Google Print. Now they're being sued by a small group of shortsighted publishers: McGraw-Hill, Simon & Schuster, John Wiley & Sons, Pearson Education and Penguin Group.
The Google concept resembles Amazon's Search Inside feature; it also could be seen as a high-tech version of Project Gutenberg. So this is an idea whose time has come - in fact, it arrived 34 years ago. But I guess there will always be Luddites to fight the stupid fight. Sigh.
It was encouraging to notice that Google's CEO responded quite effectively in their corporate blog. What's next for these "don't be evil" guys... bringing back the Great Library of Alexandria?!
Beneath the Shadow of Perpetual Defeat - A Graphic Design Manifesto, by Faruk Ulay: Yesterday, an advance copy of the English translation arrived, and it looks sooooo cool. [The Turkish original will be published simultaneously, in approximately two months.] The book consists of 99 pages of extraordinary double-page photos, with 99 design philosophy statements sandwiched in between, like this:
An effective design serves as a catalyst, starting a relentless dialogue between Explicit and Implicit.
Do not design your way through coded messages. Struggle to escape from the realm of structured semantics.
The contemporary penchant for encouraging viewer participation to increase the effectiveness of a design only manages to turn the visual form into an iconographic riddle.
The effortless look of a simple, powerful design bears a strong correlation to the energy spent in developing its concept.
Style, because it follows the current fashion, is temporary. A stylish design becomes obsolete almost instantly. The true designer is a survivor of style.
To avoid the tedium of homogeny, translate words from unpopular languages and make note of what changes.
Last spring, I helped Faruk translate his Turkish material into "literary" English; it's an honor to be associated, even peripherally, with such a high-quality project.
Author: Faruk Ulay, Locus Novus + Ulay Design + Stories in a Bottle
Publisher: Akin Nalça; ISBN: 9759205939.
Updates: 5¢ense review, Rain Taxi, clusterflock, photos, IDéEFIXE (idefix) and Amazon.
"Does anyone around here smell blog pussy?" Steve Almond is a promotional genius: last Thursday, he used his trademark satire to "beat up" Mark Sarvas, a well-known blogger who had repeatedly criticized Almond. The entire blogosphere took notice, of course, and Mark chose to respond in the imperial *we*. The resulting flurry of attention has pushed Almond's book sales through the roof. You can't buy publicity like that. But the funniest thing about this whole incident is the number of bloggers who took Almond seriously.
Rolling thunder. At about 11:30 p.m. last night, I was doing some writing and slowly became aware of a persistent loud noise coming from outside the window. It sounded alarmingly like a squadron of bombers in an old WWII movie, so I went out on the back patio to see if we were under attack.
A thunderstorm was moving through our desert valley and the rainy sky was alive with lightning: air-to-air strikes, well above the first layer of clouds. It was as if an enormous group of high-altitude paparazzi were trying to photograph an earthbound movie star. The individual flashes weren't clearly visible, but a quick brightening would emanate from one segment of the sky, followed by another... and another... and another, in every direction, at one- or two-second intervals. There was never one big "boom," but thousands of small thunderclaps echoed off the mountains which surround our home, and the individual bursts of sound merged into a continuous roar.
How did I arrive at this ripe old age without knowing what the phrase "rolling thunder" really meant?
The spectacular maelstrom continued until nearly 1 a.m.
Hurry! During last Wednesday's Blogging 101 session, we stumbled across this Technology Blog Master Class. The $500 tuition buys you a 1.5 hr online meeting every week (or is it every other week?) for 12 weeks. The webpage was loading poorly, but after I tried a few workarounds, we finally got it up onto the Annenberg's big screen. Funny thing is, the TBMC page contains so many coding errors—220 at last count—that it completely refuses to display on my home computer.
TBMC students are limited to 12... and the beret-topped, tech-savvy instructor writes: "I already have one applicant, so hurry."
Desert over-50s are jumping into blogosphere: yesterday's newspaper contained this lovely feature article on Alan's class.
\\\ BackslasherBlog.com \\\ is our latest spec screenplay project. [More shameless self-promotion.] Log line: "Surfing for romance in cyberspace can be murder." (Teen Suspense\Comedy) [3-page sample] [more info]
Corporate Blog: why your company needs one for P.R. and why I'm the guy to do it. [Shameless self-promotion.] Quote from the Business Week magazine cover story: "Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they're simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they're going to shake up just about every business - including yours."
Quote from journalist A. J. Liebling (1904-1963): "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents: "Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they're tremendous tools of freedom of expression. [¶] Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest. [¶] Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to remain anonymous and to get around censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicize it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles."
Also: Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers.
Lulu Blooker Prize 2006: the world's first literary prize devoted to "blooks" (books based on blogs or websites). [Times article]
On Saturday, October 15, 2005, Jim Ruland will be celebrating... the release of his debut short story collection, Big Lonesome, at The Mountain (in L.A.'s Chinatown) with a night of readings, book signings, giveaways and miscellaneous mayhem, with help from a few friends.
What's Big Lonesome, you ask? Sam Lipsyte says its "full of grim human comedy." Chris Bachelder calls it "strange and exciting." And Todd Goldberg likens it to "being hit in the face with a slam-pit elbow."
Can't make it? Check out vermin.blogs.com/bl for updates and recaps on readings in St. Paul, San Diego, Seattle, Salt Lake City and other cities that start with "S"!
Better yet, pick up a copy of Big Lonesome online.
The Mountain is located in the plaza between Hill and Broadway at 475 Gin Ling Way directly across from the Wishing Well. Fun starts at 8; don't miss it!
Four Minutes, on ESPN2 this Thursday (and ESPN, later): The historic one-mile race which occurred on May 6, 1954 at Oxford's Iffley Road track. [Watch and listen to story #4 here, designed by Faruk Ulay at Locus Novus.]
The Old Negro Space Program: the shocking-but-false story of America's Blackstronauts.