Sunday, December 20, 2009
I think she delivered a tremendous performance. I was impressed by her ability, through the script and her stage presence, to completely control the audience. Seriously, she brought people from laughter to heartbreak exactly when and how she set out to. It was masterfully done and a pleasure to experience.
Since I had read the script before, some of the jokes fell flat, but I still found myself laughing heartily many a time. Audience participation however stresses me out to no end. I am too anxious for such things. I have little faith in humanity and therefore always expect things to go tragically wrong. They didn't. But it was still awkward.
Cynthia NIxon was in the house. That was fun.
I really found the moment where she talks about her daughter's ability to laugh, despite all madness, as the key to her salvation quite moving.
So, all in all, I'd say well worth the frostbite.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I've copied this from ThinkProgress.org because I think everyone needs to know what "facts" are being presented to the American public (well, at least the public that for some inexplicable and inexcusable reason turns to the Fox network for their news).
Fox fudges poll numbers to claim 120 percent of the public believes scientists falsify global warming data.
Last week, Fox and Friends showed a Rasmussen poll graphic revealing that a whopping 120 percent of the American public believes scientists may be falsifying research to support their own theories on global warming:
Media Matters explains Fox’s fuzzy math:
Well, here’s the Rasmussen poll Fox & Friends cited. They asked respondents: “In order to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming, how likely is it that some scientists have falsified research data?” According to the poll, 35 percent thought it very likely, 24 percent somewhat likely, 21 percent not very likely, and 5 percent not likely at all (15 percent weren’t sure).
Fox News’ graphics department added together the “very likely” and “somewhat likely” numbers to reach 59 percent, and called that new group “somewhat likely.” Then, for some reason, they threw in the 35 percent “very likely” as their own group, even though they already added that number to the “somewhat likely” percentage. Then they mashed together the “not very likely” and “not likely at all” groups, and threw the 15 percent who were unsure into the waste bin. Voila — 120 percent.
Last month, ThinkProgress also caught Fox showing a pie chart documenting that 193 percent of the public supports Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, or Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination in 2012. So much for “zero tolerance for on-screen errors.”
Friday, December 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Yesterday I was browsing at Idlewild Books and decided I would pick up a short story collection or two. There were many to chose from so I asked the (handsome) guy behind the counter if he was a short story reader. He said yes, much to my surprise, as I always hear that short stories are a dying form and collections unpublishable.
Monday, November 23, 2009
— From God? It’s Margaret Again… (sequel to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume)
I’ve got another question.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The N.E.A. is currently funded at $155 million, and the White House had requested an increase to $161 million. The agency received an additional $50 million through the stimulus bill. This summer, the House approved $170 million for the arts endowment, while the Senate proposed $161.3 million. The final budget was decided in conference this week and passed by a vote of 247-178 in the House and 72-28 in the Senate.
“This important budget increase recognizes the essential role the arts play in our lives, schools, and communities,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and chief of Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group, in a statement.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Pocket burn spirit free
Took my twenty on a shopping spree
No regrets, passed a pack of cigarettes
Bat eyelashes at a nerdy hunk
A blue and purple purse made by a Buddhist monk?
Hmm, I think I like
Holds cell phone, camera, pack of Mike and Ikes
Made my three dollar purchase, made the economy good
wanted to hail a cab, but there I stood
never once thinking that on my way back
I would wet my phone, break my camera, spill my Mike and Ikes
give myself a heart-attack!
Why did I not use the purse you ask?
Because taking it out, packing stuff in,
Broke my twenty on that stupid purse
should have spent more time being careful first.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.
My friend Michael The Girl recently sent me this link to a blog discussion of the value of the denouement because I am working on a project that begs to end slightly ambiguously.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
David Small, Stitches
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped
Coe Booth, the fabulous author of Tyrell and Kendra and contributor to The Longstockings blog and generally awesome and intelligent human being, was one of the judges this year so that gives me an extra boost of confidence for these titles.
I haven't yet read any of these books, but I am very curious to hear a lil sumpin' sumpin' from any of you who have. Keep me posted!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Let's start with the cover. So goth. So cool. Reading it on the train certainly broadcasts a certain don't sit next to me unless you're as cool as I am kinda vibe. Or at least it would if you were a Hot Topic shopping teenage girl looking for a black nail polish sportin' boy. And then that super stylized strip of comics on the side. Dizzying. Just like what's inside. The narrative is fragmented. Time and space are distorted. Characters question what is real. For a teenage-person who is just becoming a grownup-person this book might inspire some metaphysical inquiry.
14 year old me would have been super stoked to stumble upon this book. Present day me...not so much. But just look at the girl on the cover. She doesn't trust anyone over thirty anyways.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
“Poor boy, long way from home” . . . “The cuckoo, she’s a pretty bird, she warbles, as she flies/ And she never, hollers cuckoo, til the fourth day, of July” . . . “Sun gonna shine in my back door, someday/ Wind gonna rise up, blow my blues away”—those lyric fragments and thousands like them are part of a pool of floating lines and verses—the raw material of the commonplace, commonly held American song. They took shape in the years after the Civil War; in the first part of the 20th century they reached a kind of critical mass, and thousands of voices emerged, speaking this new, common language.
Throughout American history people excluded from or ignored by the story the country teaches itself have seized on music as means of both affirming and questioning individual and cultural existence. Music has been used to make symbolic statements about the nature of the singer, the country, and life itself. These are big words for ordinary, anonymous songs like “The Cuckoo Bird” or “John Henry”—but it is in songs that seem to have emerged out of nowhere, and in songs that are self-consciously made to reclaim that nowhere, where much of the American story resides.
This course examines commonplace, authorless songs as elemental, founding documents of American identity. These songs can be heard as a form of speech that, with a deep foundation, is always in flux—especially in the work of Bob Dylan across the last fifty years. In that work, a single performer can be seen to have taken the whole of this tradition and translated it into a language of his own—a language that, today, with other artists, such as Todd Haynes with his film I’m Not There, a movie filled by Dylan-like figures, composites, and specters, is itself becoming a form of the commonplace.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
"As Americans, and as African-Americans, obviously there's a special sense that on the one hand this place was a place of profound sadness; on the other hand, it is here where the journey of much of the African-American experience began. And symbolically, to be able to come back with my family, with Michelle and our children, and see the portal through which the diaspora began, but also to be able to come back here in celebration with the people of Ghana of the extraordinary progress that we've made because of the courage of so many, black and white, to abolish slavery and ultimately win civil rights for all people, I think is a source of hope. It reminds us that as bad as history can be, it's also possible to overcome."
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
Published: May 16, 2009
New York Times
Sometimes the best way to understand the present is to look at it from the past. Consider audio books. An enormous number of Americans read by listening these days — listening aloud, I call it. The technology for doing so is diverse and widespread, and so are the places people listen to audio books. But from the perspective of a reader in, say, the early 19th century, about the time of Jane Austen, there is something peculiar about it, even lonely.
In those days, literate families and friends read aloud to each other as a matter of habit. Books were still relatively scarce and expensive, and the routine electronic diversions we take for granted were, of course, nonexistent. If you had grown up listening to adults reading to each other regularly, the thought of all of those solitary 21st-century individuals hearkening to earbuds and car radios would seem isolating. It would also seem as though they were being trained only to listen to books and not to read aloud from them.
It’s part of a pattern. Instead of making music at home, we listen to recordings of professional musicians. When people talk about the books they’ve heard, they’re often talking about the quality of the readers, who are usually professional. The way we listen to books has been de-socialized, stripped of context, which has the solitary virtue of being extremely convenient.
But listening aloud, valuable as it is, isn’t the same as reading aloud. Both require a great deal of attention. Both are good ways to learn something important about the rhythms of language. But one of the most basic tests of comprehension is to ask someone to read aloud from a book. It reveals far more than whether the reader understands the words. It reveals how far into the words — and the pattern of the words — the reader really sees.
Reading aloud recaptures the physicality of words. To read with your lungs and diaphragm, with your tongue and lips, is very different than reading with your eyes alone. The language becomes a part of the body, which is why there is always a curious tenderness, almost an erotic quality, in those 18th- and 19th-century literary scenes where a book is being read aloud in mixed company. The words are not mere words. They are the breath and mind, perhaps even the soul, of the person who is reading.
No one understood this better than Jane Austen. One of the late turning points in “Mansfield Park” comes when Henry Crawford picks up a volume of Shakespeare, “which had the air of being very recently closed,” and begins to read aloud to the young Bertrams and their cousin, Fanny Price. Fanny discovers in Crawford’s reading “a variety of excellence beyond what she had ever met with.” And yet his ability to do every part “with equal beauty” is a clear sign to us, if not entirely to Fanny, of his superficiality.
I read aloud to my writing students, and when students read aloud to me I notice something odd. They are smart and literate, and most of them had parents who read to them as children. But when students read aloud at first, I notice that they are trying to read the meaning of the words. If the work is their own, they are usually trying to read the intention of the writer.
It’s as though they’re reading what the words represent rather than the words themselves. What gets lost is the inner voice of the prose, the life of the language. This is reflected in their writing, too, at first.
In one realm — poetry — reading aloud has never really died out. Take Robert Pinsky’s new book, “Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud.” But I suspect there is no going back. You can easily make the argument that reading silently is an economic artifact, a sign of a new prosperity beginning in the early 19th century and a new cheapness in books. The same argument applies to listening to books on your iPhone. But what I would suggest is that our idea of reading is incomplete, impoverished, unless we are also taking the time to read aloud.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Written by Edward Champion
Posted on May 4, 2009
Filed Under Whitehead, Colson, YA
The blog A Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’ recently posted an item from an appearance that Colson Whitehead made at The New School. At the event, Whitehead was reportedly asked about whether his latest novel, Sag Harbor, could be classified as YA. And it was reported that he got “huffy” about the issue. This surprised me, because Sherman Alexie and China Mieville have both written specifically for a YA crowd. And it might also be argued that David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time could swing both ways as a YA and an adult title. If Whitehead had indeed said these things, it seemed counterintuitive to reduce his novel’s possible audience.
Curious about Whitehead’s side of the story, I contacted him by email and he responded to my questions quite quickly. Here is his answer:
Thanks for letting me address this “controversy.”
I remember the exchange. Do you have a transcript of it? Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t do “huffy,” but I do roll my eyes in exasperation, as I will when asked at a writers conference about “how will it be marketed?” I’ll talk about writing, how I got started, my work process, what have you, but marketing is boring and not what a writer should be asking about. Write the book. Make it the best book you can make it. All the other stuff is crap. So if I seemed “huffy,” that’s the reason: I’d rather talk about the work. I’m not hawking Flowbees here. I don’t “target” my work to a “demographic.”
Labels bug me. My first ideal reader was a teenage version of myself; someone who might randomly come across my book and be changed by it, the way I was changed by so many books in that key time. Then I started publishing, and the people who came to see me read were so varied – old, young, black, white, redheaded, balding, etc. – that it seemed dumb to have a mental picture of my ideal reader. It’s a blessing if anyone reads your book at all. But if she or he is a “Young Adult,” great. With braces & a bad slouch, even better.
If I had my way, there wouldn’t be any categories at all. For me, it’s all just “writing.” Is The Colossus of New York non-fiction? Not strictly, but it has to go somewhere in the bookstore, and if it’s in Essays or in the About New York section, I don’t care. I’m just glad that it’s getting out there. But we need classifications, I guess, and this has to go here and that has to go there. If Sag Harbor is in YA tomorrow, I wouldn’t care, as long as people who want to read it can pick it up. In some bookstores, I’m in African American as opposed to Fiction; this is a category failure, but it’s out of my control and in the end I’m glad that I’m in the store at all, and hopefully the savvy consumer who is looking for me will find me. What I’m saying is that we write, and then the world categorizes us, and the next day we get up and start writing again.
I’m publishing in the age of the web. You don’t have to go far to find that I’m not a snob about genres, and go out of my way to say that I came to writing by loving comic books and Stephen King, because that’s how it happened and you should read what you want to read, and not what someone else thinks is proper for you to read. Frankly, I don’t really know what YA is. Does that mean it features kids or teenagers and is only intended for kids and teenagers? I’m sort of out of the loop about these turf battles. They seem kinda dumb. If it’s a good story, I don’t care what section I find it in.