So, Milk is by no means a good movie. So I say, though I am apparently very much in the minority on this. Which I don't mind being; Harvey Milk's is a vital and inspiring American story. As first told in Rob Epstein's 1984 doc The Times of Harvey Milk, discussed, marvelously, by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert at the height of their geeky grandeur...
Hey, did you know that all of Home for the Holidays is on youtube in ten-minute sections? Ours is truly an age of wonders. Also, David Strathairn is so, so sad in this movie.
I'm gonna eat you sucka bird.
Here at The L Magazine, we're trying to figure out the terms and conditions for our annual Secret Santa. One of rules being floated is that we can only purchase anonymous presents from our local pharmacy or liquor store, which, we guess, means everyone will be getting either booze or condoms for Christmas this year. But it doesn't have to be that way! The current issue of The L, on stands right now, is all about gifts, and guides to purchasing them. Because, dear reader, just because the credit crisis canceled the holidays doesn't mean they're truly over -- it was never over, and it still isn't over, to quote one Ryan Gosling of The Notebook, which we know you sometimes watch when you have retreated into your Holiday Dark Place, or maybe that's just us? Anyway, we have some ideas for you: stuff to put on your wish list, stuff to buy yourself because you deserve a treat, stuff to get for others, and ways to save, economically, as well as environmentally!
Eww, it's gross just writing headlines like that, but go ahead and look at this snippet of pre-Thanksgiving awkward literary gossip: The Literary Review has given John Updike a lifetime achievement award for writing bad sex, or good sex, depending.
The 76-year-old novelist was a finalist for the official Bad Sex in Fiction prize. The editors entered him based on his description of "an explosive oral encounter in his latest book, ''The Widows of Eastwick,'' according to the Times. He lost to British writer Rachel Johnson.
Writing a heart-racey literary love scene is not simple task any longer, as previously documented.
Come back, come back, come back, baby, 'til I get enough.
This is the NYR's third encounter with Daniyal Mueenuddin, and the third time we feel moved to say basically the same thing: this story is unremarkable in style or form; seemingly precise and certainly lived-in in the detail; educational in its focus on the social structure and stuff-of-life in Punjab; and inevitable in its lessons, which mostly have to do with the all-determining and unoutrunnable nature of class. (This one ads a bit more about gender roles and sex.)
All three of the stories are centered, I realize upon looking back at them, around the same family's estate (though mostly focused on the marginal and less-marginal people around the estate). I suppose when these stories are collected in one place ("linked stories"!), Mueenuddin may seem to have painted a rich canvas — but reading them months or years apart they didn't really feel particularly immersive. There's not much of a spark here, just studious accounts of people stuck in their stations. I guess I find it more repetitive than accumulative.
There are two Happy Ending readings left at the actual Happy Ending, but before Amanda Stern's series packs off for bigger digs, the Book Bench has a nice little round-up of some literary stage risks Stern has taken in the last five years.
Catch the next event on December 10th, featuring Joan Wickersham, Marion Winik, Ammon Shea and, maybe, music from
Jeffrey Lewis. The final Happy Ending show is on December 17th and brings back the original line-up: Nelly Reifler, A.M. Homes, the Wingdale Community Singers , plus a big thank-you/good-bye party.
Then, it's off to Joe's Pub once a month.
One day, I believe, Suri Cruise, the Jolie-Pitt wunderkind clan, Bronx Mowgli Simpson-Wentz, Apple Martin, Kingston Rosdale, et. al., will comprise a not-so-secret support group for the spawn of celebrity who crept through childhood during aught-years. It will be like Skull & Bones, except instead of controlling the world and doing coke together, they'll do coke together and share battered scrapbooks of articles written about them when they were innocent, baby-faced younguns prancing in front of cameras without any sense of how their parents' exposure might contribute to their future (un)happiness.
You know, like this one, from the Daily Mail, which quotes all sorts of nuggets Tom Cruise gave away to Australian magazine Grazia:
Why Tom is suddenly being so easy-breezy freebie with letting the aggressive snappers at his helpless, ridiculously cute daughter? Could it be because he's trying to not-so-covertly use his newfound "family man" image re-brand himself as a laid back Pops? The chillaxin' Daddio in the aviators, who doesn't make his wife crouch down in wedding pictures so she'll appear shorter than him? A kind supastar who loves his kid but doesn't might her posing and helping to sell magazines and click-through slideshows when the opportunity presents itself? Instead of, um, the tight-lipped aging hearthrob who called Matt Lauer "glib," practically strangled a faux-reporter for squirting him with a water gun, jumped around on a yellow couch, and made this video for his Church.
'As a parent you protect your children but Suri is a very open and warm child and she will just wave to people on the street. She is such happy, fun girl.''It is certainly different these days with the media, but people have been very good to us and do give us space so I am not going to be difficult.'
Big refurbished website, mostly, but a better arrangement of their films and essays, some more interactive stuff and a modified iTunes Movie Store set-up, which is excellent. And the whole thing is explained to you in a video that's basically a much tricker elapsed-time version of the freehand frames of the promotional site for that Miranda July book. Even if you don't care at all about movies, the drawings are quite nifty.
It will be a Barnes & Noble holiday for many of us (or Borders: sign up for their rewards card and you'll get emailed coupons every single day, until the end of the world), but not for the acquisition editors at Houghon Mifflin's Hardcourt imprint, reports Publishers Weekly. The VP of communications for HMH, Josef Blumenfeld, attempts to make sure we know that this doesn't mean everyone should cuddle up in bed with their Xbox and Gchats and movie-films and gossip blogs. Don't stop reading, etc.:
"In this case, it's a symbol of doing things smarter; it's not an indicator of the end of literature," he said. "We have turned off the spigot, but we have a very robust pipeline." The action by the highly leveraged HMH may also be as much about the company's need to cut costs in a tight credit market.as about the current economic slowdown."Of course, some literary agent, who wouldn't provide their name for fear Blumenfeld will come and egg his/her house for being such a Negative Nancy/Ned, called the climate and HMH's decision "very scary." We're screwed, obvs.
Opie is interested in the idea of a new American landscape, both
politically and also quite literally, which is why her series have
ranged from photographs of surfers, mini-malls and freeways to the
domestic lesbian American home to portraits of transgendered subjects
at all stages of transformation. It is almost shocking how mundane and
empty of punch her suburban and city landscapes are. The ideas in them
always seem to point back to the portrait subjects that she is most
famous for, and surely this is intentional. To lend example, to create
breathing room, to show range and depth and scope of interest as well
as over-normalcy alongside hidden angles of America, these plain
inanimate images are certainly necessary.
With her depictions of the American mini-mall, Opie deals reverently with something almost universally dismissed as ugly and considered representative of a certain overall architectural downturn. Clearly this is a nod to the way we disregard leather and S&M subcultures, which in formalized portraits she re-frames with dignity. Her "Homes" series looks at houses built in the 1950s and 60s that are composites of historical architectural styles, referencing the ancient tribal body modification techniques brought together on and through the skin of her friends. But even without these comparisons, the weight Opie's iconic portraits hold is enough to color everything else she photographs. The affect is similar to Sally Mann's position: although she shoots primarily landscapes these days, Mann's images will always carry the memory of the famous, controversial photos of her naked children.
Ice houses and surfers line the walls in a fifth floor space, creating a meditative room with a feeling of waiting and quietude. A floor above, "In and Around Home" includes a series of personal photographs of Opie's children as well her neighborhood, which are interspersed with Polaroid images of news shows on television. Contrasts make obvious political statements: her son in a tutu and tiara, George Bush smiling, New Orleans under water. In a small back enclave, there are large floor to ceiling Polaroid pictures, taken with the worlds biggest Polaroid camera, of the performance artist Ron Athey in all his tattooed, scarred and pierced glory. In Opie's vision, Bush on television can fit in the palm of your hand while Athey in 8-inch heels â dress hitched up over his waist, a string of pearls gliding gracefully out of his bare ass â is larger than life.
Opie has said that she imagines her photographs will be important in 100 years as historical documents. I can just see myself then: 126-years-old and remembering a time when these images â a few syringes, a little freshly carved flesh â still had the power to make me uncomfortable, and really, really sad.
Catherine Opie: American Photographer
Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Ave, through January 7th
So my beside table and stationary bike book of the moment is the Collected Fictions of Borges and this is the first section of that book, being the first collection of his fiction. In it, he rewrites the stories of scoundrels — Billy the Kid; pirates; mountebanks; impostors — from their original sources (most of them American books). The closest thing I can think of, in terms of matter-of-fact thumbnail retellings of unsavory people, is Javier Marias's more wry Written Lives.
These are knowing genre stories — adventure tales to be devoured by dime magazine-reading adolescents — and, especially as they're drawn from the sources, the stories seem to be about the act of writing as almost a subset of reading — both, ultimately are built on imaginative leaps (especially if you're a kid reading crime stories). The collection works, too, as a progression to "Man on Pink Corner" — a wholly original story, the only one set in Borges's own Buenos Aires, and a more detailed story of a much smaller incident — making it quite clear how reading leads to new, more personal, closer-to-home possibilities for fiction. ("Borges" is revealed, late in the story, as the name of the narrator's interlocutor — that is, his listener, his reader.)
In his notes, the translator Andrew Hurley pauses over discrepancies between Borges and what he claims as his sources, even down to some tiny changes of dates or outright lies — as if with each invisible swerve away from the actual he was creating secret microfictions for his own private amusement, an audience of one.
Tonight, the British journal will announce the winner of the most prestigious award in fiction, the (slither slither slither) Bad Sex in Fiction prize. And the nominees are:
James Buchan for The Gate of Air
Simon Montefiore for Sashenka
John Updike (of course!) for The Widows of Eastwick
Kathy Lette for To Love, Honour and Betray
Alastair Campbell for All in the Mind
Rachel Johnson for Shire Hell
Isabel Fonseca for Attachment
Ann Allestree for Triptych of a Young Wolf
Russell Banks for The Reserve
Paulo Coelho for Brida
The gory details after the jump:
In observing the Twilight phenomenon, I think it's important to note that its hardest-core fanbase must employ word-of-mouth at twice the strength of your typical young-adult-and-beyond property. Whoever's actually recommending these books rather than sheepishly admitting to having read them must be describing them the way I would describe 30 Rock or something, because I know a lot of people who have read the Twilight books, but unlike, say, Mad Men, no one has ever, ever told me I really have to give this Twilight thing a shot.
But also unlike Mad Men, I totally checked out Twilight anyway, because of its trashy YA roots, and also because there is a movie version. Hoping for the contact high from crazy fans, I joined a little group for an opening-night viewing — a diverse assembly of an actual fan of the books, a love-hate fan of the books, another bemused non-fan, and the actual fan's husband, who was under strict orders to be at least kinda nice.
We've spent quite some time imagining what would happen if Alex Ross and Sasha Frere-Jones â The New Yorker's classical music and pop music critics, respectively â teamed up on some kind of super-project. We still await the day that will actually happen, whether it's in print, blog, or New Yorker Festival form (hint!). But until then, an interesting mash-up of sorts occurs tonight at the 92nd Street Y. Ross, the of The Rest is Noise and the recipient of the MacAruthur "Genius" Grant, will steps out of the classical music bubble and decides to tell you all about the contemporary compositions he favors. Does he like Rihanna as much as we do? Is he obsessed with Okkervil River? Do the first few bars of Tokyo Police Club's âYour English Is Good' make him want to grab his partner and hit the dance floor? We don't know, but we will. Soon. Very, very soon.
Alex Ross reads tonight at 8:15 pm at the 92nd Street Y. Tickets are $27. 1395 Lexington Ave, at 92nd St, 92y.org.
Specifically its managing editor Larry Hacket. He's less than thrilled. You know, about that whole Times throwing them under the bus by stating Angelina Jolie forced America's Favorite gossip rag to skew their coverage of her in exchange for pictures and insane magazine sales...thing.
Well done, Sam!!!
I hate paying full price for anything. For restaurant deals and bar specials in NYC…
Uh. Reality check. What Hollywood does may not be "important" but they do work hard,…