This ringtone thing is really getting out of hand:
Scene: Elevator (stopping at every floor, alas)
My co-worker's cell phone begins to ring, with some rhythmic, "angular"* tune.
Me (thinking to be a wit): Is that "Eye of the Tiger"?
Co-worker: No, it's Franz Ferdinand.
Me (shocked to the core): (Silence)
*This word is the giveaway; it comes up in searches for this band 9,750 times.
For those who remember the "giant fish" flyer I posted here some time ago, you'll be glad to know that the creator of the flyer has come forward and filled in the back story (see the comments).
Seems like one can't safely surf these days without crashing into one of those accounts of a "blogging vs. journalism" discussion in recent weeks. I keep thinking of addressing this issue and then I go back to something less aggravating, like teaching the cat to type. But here's one that is worth reading, featuring well-known folks like EJ Dionne, Ana Marie Cox, Andrew Sullivan, Jack Shafer from Slate, and others. It is purportedly about "new media" but, like an obnoxious relative at Sunday dinner, blog issues take up a lot of the discussion. I don't agree with every opinion voiced here but it seems to me a more thoughtful discussion than seen elsewhere. (It is a 94-page transcript, so print with caution.) Also, there are some funny bits. Here, a panelist from the Pew Research Center touches on the au courant "where are the political women bloggers" question:
Ms. Allen:...As for why women are less represented in opinion journalism, I think that women are less likely--I mean, opinion journalism is basically what? Thumb-sucking. And I think women are less likely to think that their thumbs are tasty enough to want to--
Ms. Cox: What a metaphor there.
Mr. Shafer: Thumbsucking.com will soon be a--
Mr. Dionne: If there isn't one already.
The Village Voice SXSW blog is worth a read. It also pointed me toward Kitty Magik, the online presence of an entertaining zine with an ill-considered title. (Intentional misspellings really bug me.) Because E. is just discovering them, I'll point out an interview with the Decemberists.
I liked their column heralding 2005 as well. (It being March, this is not exactly timely, but anyway.)
2005 will be the year food tastes better and "alt-country" just becomes "country." 2005 will be the year people realize Joan Hiller is America's greatest music writer. 2005 will be the year reality TV dies, and the year we all renounce television, anyhow, and don't even notice. 2005 will be the year all our books are published, and the critics fall back in their stuffed chairs, and slap their foreheads with a weary palm, and go, "ahh, so THAT'S what they were trying to say!"
It's been a little quiet around here lately. Where have I been? you might well ask. And you might well keep asking, because an explanation is not going to be provided in this forum. But the hits just keep coming.
A minor literary kerfluffle has kicked up in the UK literary world as the editors of a new literay collection complain in their introduction that their contributions from women writers were disappointing. They take it one step further and say that indeed, the submissions from men are better:
On the whole the submissions from women were disappointingly domestic, the opposite of risk-taking - as if too many women writers have been injected with a special drug that keeps them dulled, good, saying the right thing, aping the right shape, and melancholy at doing it, depressed as hell. ...What this book reveals, most interestingly, is a generation of, yes, young male writers who have gleefully ignored Short-Story-Land and all its dutifulness...
Breaking down the submissions by gender seems such an obvious and lazy distinction I wonder why they bothered to make it at all, unless this was a carefully considered ploy to create "controversy." At any rate, the inevitable feminist reaction and the response from the editors makes for interesting reading. Without reading all the submissions, we'll never be able to judge for ourselves whether the women writers did truly submit pieces of lesser quality, whatever that means in this context. But some commentators have taken a longer view about what this tempest in a teapot might suggest in a bigger cultural context.
In my experience it is not usually the writing that is domestic - more the response, a way of reading that is all too often a conditioned response, one that cannot see the sweeping universal in the minutiae of experience.
In other literary news, a hometown blogger is hitting the road with a book tour. Mark your calendars now!
This sign gave us pause when we were in Southern Indiana last weekend.
How would this kind of seminar work? Does the student learn how to make prophecies? One's mind boggles at the syllabus ("Day One: How to Scare the Pants Off People"). Or is it a Great Books kind of thing ("Day One: Nostradomus Deconstructed")? Is there some sort of certification involved?
On the other hand, it could be just a seminar about this guy's prophecies, with no chance to make your own, which doesn't seem like much fun unless he were able to make customized predictions, like whether it's time to rotate the tires or who's going to win the NCAA.
There's no mention of how many people can attend this thing. Perhaps they have a screening procedure. I think it would be rather difficult if everyone became a prophet. Indeed, about one per workplace would be all we could stand. ("I predict that it's time to call maintenance for the copier!") Although it could be an effective management tactic ("If I don't have that report by Friday, you're going to be smited!"). Still, "prophet" wouldn't look half bad on a business card (and while I'm at it, let's bring back the use of nautical titles. Who wants to be "first mate"?)
So many questions, so few answers.
At a certain trendy restaurant last week, some shrimp heads joined us. At first it seemed like they might need booster chairs, but things worked out fine with a plate.
More from the beach: great seabirds.
Flying Birds. Excellent Birds. Watch them fly. There they go.
*Also, some sand. And a sunburn.
Sometimes I think McSweeney's print version has a lot to answer for, design wise--like their lovable but quirky type treatments. Not that those designs aren't a marvel, but sometimes their influence* can have baffling results. In my local bookstore recently I caught sight of a book with a McSweeney's-esque spine and the curious yet eye-catching words:
A Life in Ham
Did I pick that book up? Of course, because a life in ham is the kind of life I want to read about.
Alas, on closer inspection the quirky type proved to read: A Life in Ham Radio, which is an entirely different thing. And not nearly as fun, if you ask me.
*Direct or indirect; I have no idea if "the McSweeney's look" was any influence on this particular book jacket or not.