Friday, May 27, 2011

OMGaga: Stephen Fry Interviews Lady Gaga


The Financial Times has a long interview with Lady Gaga conducted by British actor/author Stephen Fry which the paper will publish over the weekend. We were given a little sneak peek of what Gaga said to Fry during the exchange, and she makes some insane claims, including that she went bankrupt funding her Monster Ball tour.

I don't really agree with GAWKER's interpretation of the Lady Gaga's quotes, but O! to be a fly on the wall of the room in which Oscar Wilde Stephen Fry interviewed Gaga!

You Had Me Until the Highheels Beau

Flashmob involving half-nekkid pole dancer on New York subway.

Via Unicorn Booty

Summer Reads: Beach Book Makeover Edition

Okay, okay. So he's not reading a "book"! Sue me.

Via the NYT:

The beach book has undergone a makeover for 2011. As the season’s traditional big names and story lines run out of gas, new variations on old formulas have emerged. Want a story of power, greed and conspicuous consumption? Forget Hollywood; think hedge fund. Want a killer mystery? Forget that corpse in the opening chapter; think about the heroine who wakes up with amnesia and can’t trust anyone around her. Want a topical family drama about teenage lovers? Think “Romeo and Juliet” with sexting thrown in.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Burning Up the iPod

I've given you enough words today, so let me leave you with some images too. And some sounds. :)

Next Reads: Fantasy

Demon Song by Cat Adams

Urban Fantasy. Between learning to use her magical powers, dealing with the demonic curse that's dogged her since childhood, and controlling her blood cravings (the result of a near-fatal vampire attack), half-siren bodyguard Celia Graves has a lot on her plate. And that's before all hell breaks loose at the California State Paranormal Treatment Facility, where supernatural baddies are incarcerated. If you don't know Celia Graves yet, you should start with the first two Blood Singer novels, Blood Song and Siren Song. With its extensive world-building, action-packed plot, and tough-as-nails heroine caught between the mortal and supernatural worlds, this series may appeal to fans of Kat Richardson's Greywalker series.

The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

Dark Fantasy. While on a skiing holiday in the Pyrenees, married couple Zoe and Jake are buried by an avalanche. Although they manage to free themselves from the snow, they soon begin to wonder if they're trapped in some other, stranger place. The couple reaches civilization only to discover that they're completely alone, the hotel empty and the town deserted. There's no way to contact the outside world and, what's more, they can't seem to leave without ending up back where they started. What's going on? You'll wonder, too, as you read this suspenseful, romantic, and "gently haunting fantasy thriller" (Publishers Weekly).

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Heroic Fantasy. Here's the spoiler-free scoop on this long-awaited installment of Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicle: continuing where he left off in The Name of the Wind, retired hero Kvothe tells the story of his life and many adventures to a Chronicler who happens to be passing through the backwater town where Kvothe (under the alias "Kote") runs the Waystone Inn. Since Kvothe's is a long and complicated tale, readers new to the series will want to start with the 1st book before picking up The Wise Man's Fear.

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

Fantasy. Moon is an orphan boy with unusual abilities: he can transform into a dragon-like creature and fly. So far, he's spent his entire young life wandering from one human settlement to the next, seeking shelter--and eventually getting thrown out when the inhabitants discover his true nature, which reminds them of the ruthless winged predators known as the Fell. Then, one day, Moon encounters another shapeshifter like himself, who promises him the home he's been seeking. Moon thinks his journey is finally at an end; in fact, it's just beginning.

It's a SciFi/Fantasy Kind of Day

Image from the movie The Fantastic Planet

Via The Guardian: The stars of modern SF pick the best science fiction

To celebrate the opening of the British Library's science fiction exhibition Out of this World, we asked leading SF writers to choose their favourite novel or author in the genre

Kim Stanley Robinson's pick? The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

One of my favorite novels is The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K Le Guin. For more than 40 years I've been recommending this book to people who want to try science fiction for the first time, and it still serves very well for that. One of the things I like about it is how clearly it demonstrates that science fiction can have not only the usual virtues and pleasures of the novel, but also the startling and transformative power of the thought experiment.

In this case, the thought experiment is quickly revealed: "The king was pregnant," the book tells us early on, and after that we learn more and more about this planet named Winter, stuck in an ice age, where the humans are most of the time neither male nor female, but with the potential to become either. The man from Earth investigating this situation has a lot to learn, and so do we; and we learn it in the course of a thrilling adventure story, including a great "crossing of the ice". Le Guin's language is clear and clean, and has within it both the anthropological mindset of her father Alfred Kroeber, and the poetry of stories as magical things that her mother Theodora Kroeber found in native American tales. This worldly wisdom applied to the romance of other planets, and to human nature at its deepest, is Le Guin's particular gift to us, and something science fiction will always be proud of. Try it and see – you will never think about people in quite the same way again.

Lexington Queer History Walking Tour

For more information and to sign up, click here.

Hugo and Nebula and Locus, OH MY!

Well, no, not Hugo Weaving, though Mitzi is a fantastical creature all on her own; rather the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards given in the SciFi and (in some cases) Fantasy genres. (No, they aren't the same thing.)

From a SciFi/Fantasy-loving friend's email:

For those who don't read scifi, Hugo Gernsbach (editor of the Amazing Stories magazine pictured) is the editor the Hugo award was named after--fans of SciFi who attend Worldcon vote on this one. The other well-known award is the Nebula, which is voted on by members of Science Fiction Writer's of America (SFWA). You might think of these as the People's Choice awards and the Academy awards if it is helpful to draw a distinction, although both winners in a given year/category are usually pretty good. You'll see more fantasy genre works win in the Hugos (sigh, fans), more scifi stuff in the Nebulas. But both are good, and you'll often see the best works of the year on the ballot in both.

Also, if looking for a less well-known scifi award, Locus magazine awards several categories voted on by readers annually (including separate awards for best scifi and fantasy novels, their reaction to the fantasy and scifi split in taste), and the readers of Locus usually have a good eye for quality.

Finally, if you want to stay on top of scifi, read Gardner Dozois's annual summary in The Year's Best Science Fiction -- you'll often learn about up and coming sci-fi authors before they get books published, learn about who's who in this world of writers, etc. I'm pretty sure, for example, I read stories in there by Paolo Bacigalupi long before he wrote Shipbreaker and The Windup Girl (both excellent near future apocalyptic works), and it's in this book that I first read established writers like Mike Resnick and Joe Haldeman. The editor (Gardner Dozois) is a legend in the field (chosen best editor 15 times) who chooses a good mix of well known and less well known writers for the anthology.

Also check out "Where Did Science Fiction Start?" British Library Exhibit Asks

Thursday Beau: Christopher Fawcett

Via Hangover Heaven

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

O! Happy Bedunkadunk

Via Gerhard.treu

NextReads: Historical Fiction

Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

As British rule comes to an end in 1950s Sudan, paving the way for independence, the wealthy, Westernized Abuzeid family faces uncertainty, both on political and personal levels. As patriarch Mahmoud deals with the domestic discord caused by his sparring wives--dutiful, traditional Waheeba, who's happiest in the family compound, and modern-minded Nabilah, who longs to return to her native Egypt--Mahmoud's son Nur, heir to the family trading business and engaged to be married, suffers a devastating accident that destroys all his plans...and leaves him determined to make a life for himself. Leila Aboulela's "elegantly written family epic" (Kirkus Reviews) portrays a society torn between its history and its future.

You can read my other reviews of Leila Aboulela's books here and here.

Galore by Michael Crummey

Set in the fictional fishing village of Paradise Deep, Galore recounts, in rollicking fashion, 200 years of Newfoundland history by tracing the tangled rivalry between two families: the Irish Catholic Devines, whose elderly matriarch is known as "Devine's Widow," and the English Sellers clan, headed by tyrannical magistrate King-me Sellers. Into their midst comes Judah, an ageless (and unaging) man miraculously rescued from the belly of a beached whale, who influences their destinies in surprising ways. Full of colorful characters and sharp dialogue, and with a hint of magical realism, this novel by the author of River Thieves was originally published in Canada in 2009.

Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna

Growing up on the southern Indian coffee plantation of Tiger Hills, a spirited and precocious girl named Devi befriends a boy named Devanna, whom her family adopts after his mother commits suicide. Devanna soon falls in love with Devi, but Devi's heart belongs to Machu, a young man famed for killing a tiger. While Devi chases Machu, Devanna pursues his education at Bangalore Medical College, where his intellectual gifts incur the envy of his more privileged classmates--setting in motion a tragedy that will define the lives of all three. This tale of star-crossed love, which begins in the 1870s and ends with the Indian independence movement, is also a story of India's turbulent coming of age as a nation.

The Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker

In 1813, Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of notorious U.S. vice-president Aaron Burr (who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel), survives abduction by pirates followed by abandonment on the shores of Yaupon, an isolated island in North Carolina's Outer Banks. There she meets a hermit, who helps the refined young woman survive in a harsh environment populated by fugitive slaves and society's outcasts. Over 150 years later, in 1970, the island's three remaining inhabitants--two of whom are Theodosia's descendants--find their lives inextricably tied together as they contemplate their shared past and uncertain future.

Leaving Van Gogh by Carol Wallace

At the request of his brother Theo, brilliant but tortured painter Vincent Van Gogh spends the summer of 1890 at the home of Dr. Paul Gachet, a specialist in mental illness. A compassionate physician and amateur painter, Gachet recognizes Vincent's artistic genius (even allowing Van Gogh to paint his portrait) but worries that it will be his patient's undoing. As Vincent's grip on sanity grows ever more tenuous, Gachet is forced to reexamine his own life and career in this introspective novel full of "empathy, compassion, and insight" (Booklist). If this premise intrigues you, you'll be pleased to know that Vincent Van Gogh's final days are also explored in Alyson Richman's The Last Van Gogh.

Drood by Dan Simmons

This novel, narrated by author Wilkie Collins, is an eerie, psychologically complex look at the last days of Charles Dickens' life, when he was hard at work writing the (never completed) novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. During a horrific train wreck, Dickens rushes to aid his fellow passengers, only to encounter a man named Drood, who appears to have been traveling in a coffin. Although Dickens becomes obsessed with Drood, there's little evidence than the man exists--although that doesn't stop the literary lion from scouring the darkest corners of London's underworld to find him. Does Drood merely provide a convenient excuse for a respectable writer wishing to indulge his hidden vices, or could there be a more supernatural explanation?

Happy Hump Day

Via Man Crush Blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Good Read: Half Empty

Damn, I realized that I misspelled his name on Twitter! I'm one essay away from reading David Rakoff's hilarious Half Empty. And, though, I imagine Rakoff would describe himself (almost) as a luddite, I have him to blame for my desire to be on Twitter - not that I gave into that desire too much. (However, I did happily Tweet my favorite Rakoff line - hence the cause of the name misspelling.)

As a once-purveyor of all things self-help and optimistic, I found a home in David Rakoff's writing. He's funny, he's biting but not snarky. If he must sink his teeth into some tidbit of idiocy, hypocrisy or over-self-indulgence, there is a reason for it. He's quite intelligent, and though I imagine he downplays his attractiveness, I found all these qualities quite attractive - not to mention he's quite cute.

I also like that he doesn't talk down to his readers as though he has to help them keep up: whether he's talking about Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, Jonathan Larson, or a porn convention in New York, his writing expects you to keep up, and keep up you will...AND if you must, take notes and google them later.

On Being an Artist:

...hanging out does not make one an artist. A secondhand wardrobe does not make one an artist. Neither do a hair-trigger temper, melancholic nature, propensity for tears, hating your parents, nor even HIV - I hate to say it - none of these make one an artist. They can help, but just as being gay does not make one witty (you can suck a mile of cock, as my friend Sarah Thyre puts it, it still won't make you Oscar Wilde, believe me), the only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out. (48-9)

It was the parenthetical that had me tweeting (and snorting loudly with laughter at 1 in the morning).

On Living in Brooklyn's Penal District:

On the ground floor below me was an office that did...what, exactly? Résumés, taxes? I can't remember. What I do remember is the man whose office it was: Raul Rivas. That is his real name. Raul Rivas was knee-buckingly handsome. Perhaps if my life had been different, had I been a hot girl with a driver's license, say, I might have put on a tube top and gone outside to wash my car in slow motion, dousing the cherry-red hood of my automobile in a spew of water from a long hose and then working it up into a suggestive and creamy froth, while Raul Rivas watched me through the open office door, sweating through his white undershirt, just like Burt Lancaster in The Killers...but, I digress.

Once during the day - it must have been a weekend because I was at home - I could hear Raul Rivas having sex in the office downstairs. I skittered about the apartment like a cockroach on a frying pan, trying not to make noise while desperately looking for a knothole in the crappy floorboards. Eventually I just lay down flat against the tile of the kitchen floor, listening.

Lying flat against the tile of the kitchen floor listening to someone else have sex is essentially my early twenties in a nutshell. (54)

On Being Cast in a Movie Involving Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker:

My presence there would have been the classic Cinderella story if instead of being delivered from her grimy scullery to the carefree life of the palace, our dainty-footed heroine was a thirty-something guy who had left his evil stepsisters to go off and play a mincing fairy interior decorator. The Stepin Fetchit aspects of my part extended beyond the sexual to the ethnic. My part was that of an ersatz food-court Latin of indeterminate national origin. Even his name, Duarto, does not exist in Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese, a testament to the deep research for which our author [of the book of the movie] was known. Snippy ectomorphs like Duarto have been a staple of the movies since the early talkies. You have seen us, I am sure. Generally, we are slim, our hair is often brilliantined and pasted down like a phonograph record molded directly to the skull. We have been known to sport the occasional eyebrow-pencil mustache. Our jobs tend toward the mildly creative and powerless - tango instructor, wedding consultant, Hays Offce-approved neutered gigolo. Also, traditionally we exhibit two modes of behavior, both of them manifestations of displeasure. There is our comically outraged ethnic or sexual pride, the former eliciting from us a fiery Chiquita Banana "You een-solt my cohn-tree?" (which, as we have established, with a name like Duarto, does not actually exist and is therefore not really insultable), and the latter a dubiously macho defense of the molested honor of our woman, our own interest in whom would have to increase tenfold to reach the level of repelled. The far more common state of Duarto, however, is one of peevish boredom and affronted aesthetics ("Dios mío, where did you get that agonizing talbe?"). This makes us speak in a kind of enervated drawl that broadcasts to all the world that we would much rather be anywhere else than here, preferably somewhere holding a teacup poodle while being the willing recipient of vigorous anal sex. (65-6)

On Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty:

The notion of pilgrimage was central to Smithson's vision of the work's impact. He chose Rozel Point [Utah] because of its remoteness. As for the jetty's shape - a snapshot in stone of an unfurling galaxy - it spoke to his interest in notions of entropy. "I am for an art that takes into account the direct effect of the elements as they exist from day to day," he wrote. "Parks are idealizations of nature, but nature in fact is not a condition of the ideal...Nature is never finished."

Nor are we. Around us are odd bits of industrial detritus - a barely standing low concrete structure where we left the car, the decoy jetty we mistook for the real thing - all remnants of human effort, spinning out in ever-wider circles. Smithson saw it all as "evidence of a succession of man-made systems mired in abandoned hopes."

Smithson's right about everything except for that penultimate word, "abandoned." Maybe it's the unwavering brown that greets the eye, or the parching airborne salt one can taste on the breeze that jump-starts some atavistic impulse to defy such inhospitality and to shape this intractable land to our will. Looking around, it seems that aspiration might be the only thing that has not pulled up stakes here. The pioneers who founded Zion are long dead. The dust that was once those railroad barons has little need of the personal fortunes they amassed, but aspiration remains as green and tender as a lily stem. Even Smithson himself, devotee of atomizing dissipation, dead in a plane crash before the age of forty and gone from this earth for more than thirty years, constructed what might as well be a diorama of this unyielding faith. Newly emerged from decades of underwater obscurity, Spiral Jetty is now visible from space. (157-8)

I loved Rakoff's writing about the Utah countryside and the Spiral Jetty. I love it even more now as I re-read and type it out for you, as the sun sets in Lexington, the light moving down the sides of the buildings and now the blue shadows struck against a slither of pink sky.

The Believer Book Award

Via The Believer: <-- Click over to read an excerpt.

At first glance, a novel about a middle-aged man who disembarks from an airplane in Austin, Texas, and kills a few spare hours before a job interview by stealthily tracking a hot (and much younger) woman to coffee shops and organic groceries hardly seems the stuff of high drama. But do not underestimate the technical chops of James Hynes, nor the size of his literary quarry. Next quickly hairpins inward, taking stock of both the personal and the cultural pasts of its protagonist, Kevin Quinn, and funneling him inexorably forward, into the now, with poignantly tragic results. At times it feels like nothing less than a state-of-the-art Mrs. Dalloway, from which the novel takes one of its epigraphs: “She always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”

Next begins with a horny older guy musing about his younger horny-guy past, and intensifies its backward-glancing scrutiny as Kevin loses the younger girl, is knocked down by a dog and cuts his knee, is mended and fed tacos by a depressed and defensive Latina physician, is dropped off at a mall to buy new pants, is delivered by taxi, finally, to his job interview, just as radio news of something bad in Minnesota penetrates (barely) his backseat solipsism. What happens “next” is the tragic payoff of Hynes’s investigation: even the most sentimentally recalled episodes from the past exert explosive pressure on our current lives.

Kevin is a flaneur of the mind, though less a gentleman of leisure than the possible victim of twenty-first-century trans-industry obsolescence putting his internal affairs in order before the biggest party of his life. An often witty eulogy for sex, youth, Sigourney Weaver’s Alien-era biceps, and American notions of financial and physical security, Next is a work of intense nostalgia that never fails to comment upon the present as well as—in its final pages of split-second daring, and optimism, and heartbreak—the future.

The Believer is a monthly magazine where length is no object. There are book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and that are very often very long. There are interviews that are also very long. We will focus on writers and books we like. We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt. The working title of this magazine was The Optimist.

The Believer is published by McSweeney's.

Tuesday New Books

I like China Miéville in theory. (Though honestly I liked him better when I thought he was a she.) I've gotten excited and breathy over each of his books, but I've never picked one least not yet.

China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer — and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field — with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties — to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

Vaclav and Lena seem destined for each other. They meet as children in an ESL class in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Vaclav is precocious and verbal. Lena, struggling with English, takes comfort in the safety of his adoration, his noisy, loving home, and the care of Rasia, his big-hearted mother. Vaclav imagines their story unfolding like a fairy tale, or the perfect illusion from his treasured Magician’s Almanac, but among the many truths to be discovered in Haley Tanner’s wondrous debut is that happily ever after is never a foregone conclusion.

One day, Lena does not show up for school. She has disappeared from Vaclav and his family’s lives as if by a cruel magic trick. For the next seven years, Vaclav says goodnight to Lena without fail, wondering if she is doing the same somewhere. On the eve of Lena’s seventeenth birthday he finds out.

Haley Tanner has the originality and verve of a born storyteller, and the boldness to imagine a world in which love can overcome the most difficult circumstances. In Vaclav & Lena she has created two unforgettable young protagonists who evoke the joy, the confusion, and the passion of having a profound, everlasting connection with someone else.

Considered to be António Lobo Antunes's masterpiece, The Land at the End of the World — now in a new and fully restored translation by acclaimed translator Margaret Jull Costa — recounts the anguished tale of a Portuguese medic haunted by memories of war, who, like the Ancient Mariner, will tell his tale to anyone who listens. In the tradition of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, Lobo Antunes weaves words into an exhilarating tapestry, imbuing his prose with the grace and resonance of poetry. The narrator, freshly returned to Lisbon after his hellish tour of duty in Angola, confesses the traumas of his memory to a nameless lover. Their evening unfolds like a fever dream, as Lobo Antunes leaps deftly back and forth from descriptions of postdictatorship Portugal to the bizarre and brutal world of life on the front line. The result is both tragic and absurd, and belongs among the great war novels of the modern age.

Healthy foods that you can prepare in 15 minutes? I'm there! (Or possibly I just really like the salmon dish on the cover. Yum.)

Via Library Journal:
Board-certified nutritionist Bowden and nutrition educator and personal whole foods chef Bessinger (coauthors, The Healthiest Meals on Earth) have chosen recipes based on nutrient density (greatest nutrition for the dollar), glycemic load (low in sugar or processed carbs), and fiber. Busy families will appreciate such recipes as Speedy and Spicy Curried Apricot Chicken Salad, Fortified Fish Soup with Sweet Onion, and Healthy Jalapeño Cornbread Chili. Nutritional information for each recipe lists calories, fat, protein, and fiber. Recommended for health-conscious cooks short on time.

Via Publishers Weekly:
First published in South Africa in 2001, this haunting novel from the late postapartheid intellectual Mpe (1970-2004) ventures into South Africa's xenophobia and the devastation caused by the AIDS epidemic. The story takes the form of a eulogy by an anonymous narrator, addressed directly to its deceased subject, Refentse, revisiting the events leading up to his suicide. The first from rural Tiragalog to get a Master's in Arts and become a university lecturer, Refentse arrives in the rough-and-tumble Johannesburg suburb of Hillbrow and quickly becomes mired in a web of passion and betrayal among friends and lovers. Despite his stormy personal life, Refentse pursues "a mission to explore Hillbrow in writing" and decides he must forgo his native Sepedi language and write in English to reach a wider audience, a theme Refentse explores in a short story about a female author whose loyalty to her native tongue ensures the marginalization of her career and whose ambitions are eclipsed by her rapid deterioration caused by AIDS, a fate readers discover might have mirrored the fictional author's had he not taken his own life. Heavily influenced by oral storytelling traditions and yet fully engaged with the world it's set in, this is a powerful novel from a talent cut down unfortunately early.

An Empty Room is the first book by the celebrated Chinese writer Mu Xin to appear in English. A cycle of thirteen tenderly evocative stories written while Mu Xin was living in exile, this collection is reminiscent of the structural beauty of Hemingway’s In Our Time and the imagistic power of Kawabata’s palm-of-the-hand stories. From the ordinary (a bus accident) to the unusual (Buddhist halos) to the wise (Goethe, Lao Zi), Mu Xin’s wandering “I” interweaves plots with philosophical grace and spiritual profundity. A small blue bowl becomes a symbol of vanishing childhood; a painter in a race against fading memory scribbles notes in an underground prison during the Cultural Revolution; an abandoned temple room holds a dark mystery. An Empty Room is a soul-stirring page turner, a Sebaldian reverie of passing time, loss, and humanity regained.

In the oil-rich and environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta, the wife of a British oil executive has been kidnapped. Two journalists — a young upstart, Rufus, and a once-great, now disillusioned veteran, Zaq — are sent to find her. In a story rich with atmosphere and taut with suspense, Oil on Water explores the conflict between idealism and cynical disillusionment in a journey full of danger and unintended consequences.

As Rufus and Zaq navigate polluted rivers flanked by exploded and dormant oil wells, in search of "the white woman," they must contend with the brutality of both government soldiers and militants. Assailed by irresolvable versions of the "truth" about the woman’s disappearance, dependent on the kindness of strangers of unknowable loyalties, their journalistic objectivity will prove unsustainable, but other values might yet salvage their human dignity.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Repost: How True Believers Dealt With the Failed Apocalypse


Nice to see that Buffy was once again on the job!

Mother Monster's Born This Way

So during lunch, I went to the local record store and bought the 2 CD limited edition set for Lady Gaga's Born This Way. I also got the 12" vinyl single for "Born This Way." (The collector in me has to tell you that it is 1 of 5000.) I hope to go back and buy the first two albums on vinyl as well, but given that I would like to eat sometime before Wednesday, I thought it best to hold off.

But in honor of Mother Monster's big day, I'd like to present to you one of my favorite children's books, Monster Mama:

Patrick Edward's mother is a monster--literally. An impish-faced woman experiencing a decidedly bad hair day and needing a manicure, "Monster Mama" lives in a cave behind the family house. In addition to her roaring and spell-casting skills, this unique parent bakes cookies, drives Patrick Edward to school in bad weather and nurses him with "the sweetest touch in the world" when he is feeling poorly. But when three bullies ruffle Patrick Edward's feathers with a crack about Mama, the boy gets his chance to prove he's his mother's son--roar and all. Rosenberg creates a light mood with her matter-of-fact description of strange circumstances. Any thrill here is derived from curiosity rather than gruesomeness, and youngsters will find comfort in the oddly tender mother-child relationship that permeates the story. Gammell's trademark electric palette and airy, spattered paint technique make for illustrations that crackle with childlike energy. Except for a couple of portraits, many of the scenes are abstract, with some indiscernible shapes and obscured faces. The effect, however, is not distracting, and gives the text a sense of universality.

I Love You, Mother Monster

And you too, Robin Skouteris!

It's Not Gay If It's in a Threeway! LOL

Via Unicorn Booty

Patricia Clarkson, Susan Sarandon AND Lady Gaga! Wow! Maybe I WAS Raptured on Saturday! :)

Woman Dials 911 to Report Two Men Kissing on Park Bench

Via Unicorn Booty

Stupid stupid stupid! And the fucking police apparently showed up to tell them to stop! Yeesh!

It's Da Tea Party, Bitch!

Via CourierPostOnline:

A Cherry Hill High School East [New Jersey] sophomore who challenged Tea Party champion Michele Bachmann to a constitutional debate says she is concerned for her personal safety.

"A lot of them are calling me a whore," 16-year-old Amy Myers said, referring to anonymous comments reacting to online news reports about her challenge to the 55-year-old Minnesota congresswoman.

In a letter addressed to Bachmann and dated April 29, Myers leveled pointed criticisms at the Tea Party Caucus founder.

"I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted," Myers wrote.

"As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere."

Myers and her father, Wayne, posted her letter to Bachmann on CNN's iReport website on May 6. News outlets including Yahoo and The Atlantic picked up the story over the weekend.

Amy and Wayne Myers said the comments on conservative websites alarmed them most. Several commenters threatened to publish the Myers' home address.

Others threatened violence, including rape, they said.

"They're targeting me just because I'm challenging Bachmann," Amy said.

Keep strong, Amy!

Thanks for the heads up, cineMatt

Screen Capture of the Day

A good quote for many of us, especially on a dreary Monday morning.

Via Vimeo: Born to Express Love

Friday, May 20, 2011

Distractedly Aggressives of Twitter

Via NYT:

Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud. The upside is that this frees a lot of gray matter for important pursuits like FarmVille and “Real Housewives.” But my inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.

The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions. Unlike the virtual fireplace or that nesting pair of red-tailed hawks we have been live-streaming on, Twitter is not just an ambient presence. It demands attention and response. It is the enemy of contemplation. Every time my TweetDeck shoots a new tweet to my desktop, I experience a little dopamine spritz that takes me away from . . . from . . . wait, what was I saying?

My mistrust of social media is intensified by the ephemeral nature of these communications. They are the epitome of in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, which was my mother’s trope for a failure to connect.

I’m not even sure these new instruments are genuinely “social.” There is something decidedly faux about the camaraderie of Facebook, something illusory about the connectedness of Twitter. Eavesdrop on a conversation as it surges through the digital crowd, and more often than not it is reductive and redundant. Following an argument among the Twits is like listening to preschoolers quarreling: You did! Did not! Did too! Did not!

Prevent STDs like a porn star

Via CNN:

"When I'm with someone new, my primary bit of nervousness is I have no idea if they'll like me, or be attracted to me, or be interested in me," Ryan says. "It's sort of akin to a first date situation."

But this wasn't a first date -- it was strictly business. After chatting, Ryan and Wylde got to work, which in their case meant having sex. Ryan and Wylde (their stage names) are adult performers.

While hooking up with a new co-star can provoke some anxiety, there's one thing they're usually not anxious about: getting a sexually transmitted disease from their co-star, since both get tested for STDs at least once a month.

"Before you start shooting, you go online to see the other person's test results," Wylde explains. "Or sometimes on set, before you start, they show you the results on paper."

Such diligence about STDs is a good idea for anyone having sex with a new partner, even if you're not a porn star, says Dr. Craig Strafford, director of clinical research at the Holzer Clinic in Gallipolis, Ohio.

"It really shows they're thinking conscientiously," Strafford says. "I think it really works."

Talent Testing Service, which does STD screenings for adult performers, routinely tests for HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, according to Sixto Pacheco, president and CEO of the service. In addition, some performers opt for an additional panel of tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis.

So far, Ryan and Wylde say it's worked for them. Ryan says in her eight years as an adult performer -- she has about five sexual partners a month professionally -- she hasn't contracted a single STD. She says when she has sex with men outside work she always uses a condom. Wylde says about once a year he comes down with a case of chlamydia or gonorrhea.

I think this level of conscientiousness is good even for those of us who don't want to wear condoms or who may be HIV+. HIV is now considered a chronic disease but somewhat less harmful to you than, say, Diabetes. In this day and age, you most likely will NOT die of HIV.

However, there are other diseases that are either short-term yet can be rather painful (i.e. chlamydia, gonorrhea) or are chronic and painful (i.e. warts, herpes).

If you are having sex (condom or bare) with another person, I think we should quit pretending to be fainting flowers and be upfront. If you have sex with someone who is HIV+, it doesn't necessarily mean you will contract the disease (especially if that person has been on medication AND has had an undetectable viral load for 6+ months). In the same token, if you ARE having sex with someone who is HIV+ AND YOU have something, you could potentially spread that to your poz partner which will make their future treatment more precarious.

So, I guess, in all things knowledge knowledge knowledge.

Know what you have and what your partner has so you can make the right decisions for your one night together or your short or long term relationship.

Just In Case... find zombies shambling (or possibly running full-tilt) about tomorrow and your really REALLY Christian "friends" are have this man to blame.

Via Telegraph:

In 1970, Mr Harold Camping published the Biblical Calendar of History, in which he dated the creation of the world to 11,013BC and the flood which Noah survived to 4990BC. His timeframe was based on the idea that the word "begat" in the Old Testament does not necessarily imply an immediate father-son relationship, but could refer to a patriarch and a distant descendent.

He also argues that a calendar exists in the text of the Bible which details the imminent end of the church age, implying that churches are no longer used by God for salvation, and the Rapture, when Christians will gather to meet Christ, and finally the end of the world. The current date for the Rapture is May 21, 2011, and Mr Camping believes, according to Thessalonians 4:15-17, that this is when "the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord".

Also: Make My Bed? But You Say the World's Ending

Friday Beau

Via Gerhard.treu

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Rear Window Beau


Thursday New Books

With the British Industrial Revolution, part of the world’s population started to experience extraordinary economic growth—leading to enormous gaps in wealth and living standards between the industrialized West and the rest of the world. This pattern of divergence reversed after World War II, and now we are midway through a century of high and accelerating growth in the developing world and a new convergence with the advanced countries—a trend that is set to reshape the world.

Michael Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, explains what happened to cause this dramatic shift in the prospects of the five billion people who live in developing countries. The growth rates are extraordinary, and continuing them presents unprecedented challenges in governance, international coordination, and ecological sustainability. The implications for those living in the advanced countries are great but little understood.

Spence clearly and boldly describes what’s at stake for all of us as he looks ahead to how the global economy will develop over the next fifty years. The Next Convergence is certain to spark a heated debate how best to move forward in the post-crisis period and reset the balance between national and international economic interests, and short-term fixes and long-term sustainability.

A witty, provocative, story-filled inquiry into the indispensable virtue of loyalty—a tricky ideal that gets tangled and compromised when loyalties collide (as they inevitably do), but a virtue the author, a prizewinning columnist for The Wall Street Journal, says is as essential as it is impossible. Felten illustrates the push and pull of loyalties— from the ancient Greeks to Facebook—with stories and scenarios in which conflicting would-be moral trump cards trap the unlucky in painful ethical dilemmas. The foundation of our greatest satisfactions in life, loyalty also proves to be the root of much misery. Can we escape the excruciating predicaments when loyalties are at loggerheads? Can we avoid betraying and being betrayed?

When looking for love and friendship—the things that make life worthwhile—we are looking for loyalty. Who can we count on? And who can count on us? These are the essential (and uncomfortable) questions loyalty poses.

Loyalty and betrayal are the stuff of the great stories that move us: Agamemnon, Huck Finn, Brutus, Antigone, Judas. When is loyalty right, and when does the virtue become a vice?

As Felten writes in his thoughtful and entertaining book, loyalty is vexing. It forces us to choose who and what counts most in our lives—from siding with one friend over another to favoring our own children over others. It forces us to confront the conflicting claims of fidelity to country, community, company, church, and even ourselves. Loyalty demands we make decisions that define who we are.

The horrors that thousands of lesbian and gay couples face are detailed in this moving political and personal story of immigration and love. As Judy and Karin’s legal battles reveal, when only one half of a gay couple is an American citizen, immigration struggles are confounded by the fact that the partners cannot legally marry in most parts of the United States. With resources that outline which organizations can help and what the challenges and the realities of this situation are, this reference reaches out to couples, their friends and family, and anyone interested in assisting by offering advice and camaraderie on this subset of the gay marriage issue. Royalties from the book, which is published in association with Immigration Equality and Out4Immigration, go to groups working to overcome immigration denial for gay couples.

Africa does not give up its secrets easily. Buried there lie answers about the origins of humankind. After a century of investigation, scientists have transformed our understanding about the beginnings of human life. But vital clues still remain hidden.

In Born in Africa, Martin Meredith follows the trail of discoveries about human origins made by scientists over the last hundred years, recounting their intense rivalry, personal feuds, and fierce controversies as well as their feats of skill and endurance.

The results have been momentous. Scientists have identified more than twenty species of extinct humans. They have firmly established Africa as the birthplace not only of humankind but also of modern humans. They have revealed how early technology, language ability, and artistic endeavour all originated in Africa; and they have shown how small groups of Africans spread out from Africa in an exodus sixty thousand years ago to populate the rest of the world. We have all inherited an African past.

Channeling Steven Millhauser by way of George Saunders, The Great Frustration is a sparkling debut, equal parts fable and wry satire. Seth Fried balances the dark—a town besieged, a yearly massacre, the harem of a pathological king—with moments of sweet optimism—researchers unexpectedly inspired by discovery, the triumph of a doomed monkey, the big implications found in a series of tiny creatures.

In “Loeka Discovered,” a buzz flows throughout a lab when scientists unearth a perfectly preserved prehistoric man who suggests to them the hopefulness of life, but the more they learn, the more the realities of ancient survival invade their buoyant projections. “Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre” meditates on why an entire town enthusiastically rushes out to the annual picnic that ends, year after year, in a massacre of astonishing creativity and casualty. The title story illuminates the desires and even the violence that surges beneath the tenuous peace among the animals in the Garden of Eden.

Fried’s stories suggest that we are at our most compelling and human when wrestling with the most frustrating aspects of both the world around us and of our very own natures—and in the process shows why he is a talent to be watched.

There is something that publishers of poetry need to learn: Quit putting sucky images on the covers of your poetry books. YES, you are selling ART but nobody cares about the symbolic representations/suggestions of the cover, if the image is bland and dated. You are doing your/our poets a disservice! Do this not that. Especially when the poetry is actually good:

My Mother As Penelope

Lemon rinds in the dried brook bed,
fireflies failing to light -

all, like me,
suffer the occasional drought.

Outside my window,
no islands of foliage

block my view to the shore.
No river noises trickle in.

Listen, after years of waiting,
I tire of the myth I've become.

If I am not an ocean,
I am nothing.

If I am not a world unto itself,
I need to know it.

"Living Extra Lean has allowed me to enjoy food more than ever, while maintaining my best health, and I want nothing less for my family or yours!" -Mario Lopez

Understanding that a long and healthy life starts at home, actor and host Mario Lopez carefully developed the Extra Lean plan with one simple understanding: what you eat affects those closest to you. As a proud new father himself, Mario is committed to helping his family start on the right foot when it comes to what they eat by applying the principles of Extra Lean to the household. And the first place to start is in the kitchen.

In Extra Lean Family, Mario shows readers how to use the vital resources from Extra Lean to broaden the spectrum of foods your family eats and how to enjoy food and maintain your best health by cooking healthy, quick, and delicious meals. You and your family will take charge of what you eat, control the quality and preparation of meals, and consistently achieve lean results with the guidance of Extra Lean Family. Includes:

  • Detailed food planning tools-including weekly grocery lists-to ensure efficient food prep to jumpstart the week and keep your health on track

  • More than 40 appetizing and exciting recipes that can all be prepared in 20 minutes or less

  • Dozens of simple and satiating snack options that can combat hunger between meals and keep your metabolism moving fast

This fool-proof plan also offers a food journal and nutritional guidelines for different builds and ages. Extra Lean Family will transform the way your family eats, achieve short and long-term health goals, and allow everyone to enjoy delicious food, without the guilt, for life.

And if you don't like Mario in his so-ever cute blue polo, you can buy the same book with him sporting a very so-ever cute black polo.

Thursday Beau

Via Super Underwear Perverts