Wednesday, January 30, 2002

My old roommate Justin just let me know that Sound Opinions, a Siskel and Ebert-style show about music based in Chicago, has started archiving their old episodes online. Their web site is still a bit basic but I'm taking this as great news. Intelligent talk about contemporary music is practically nonexistent and it's been several years since VH1's "Four on the Floor" shone briefly across the sky. I'm gonna have to add this to my regular rotation.

It looks like Stephen King is retiring from writing. I'm not a huge fan but boy, what a run.
Just found out this morning that Goonies 2 is officially going to happen and, most likely, Indiana Jones 4. Here's the lowdown (via my old college chum Dave).

Sign #1 of Aging: Your totems of pop culture are now nostolgia or worse, kitsch.

Monday, January 28, 2002

I finished an interview I did with Jennifer Egan over Thanksgiving today. Only took two months. When we retool Central Booking in the coming weeks, I'm going to have to come up with a way to keep the interview section fresh. Content moves like a dead snake over there.

That's the big writing hump for this week. I've got a prison memoir to review for The Chronicle (due Friday) which shouldn't be too bad. Which means by Friday, I'll be able to get back to reading for fun. Whoopppee!

Just in time for next month's Central Booking Book Club.

Got any suggestions?

Quote of this weekend: "Art schmart. Let's get ice cream."

--My friend Laura dismissing the paper art show at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in favor of a trip to Mitchell's.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

The Times Literary Supplement turned 100 this week. Considered the best critical journal in the English language, the TLS has published 30-50 reviews (about triple that of the New York Times Book Review) of fiction , non-fiction and poetry, once a week for a century. Its contributors (invitation only) reads like an all star team of 20th century literature: T.S. Elliot, Virginia Woolf, Anthony Burgess, Gore Vidal. Although the paper is owned by the Times of London (and it by Satan himself Rupert Murdoch), the parent company has largely left its venerable spawn alone. It has thus ticked along as a haven for wise critical thought, an idea out of fashion and barely in gnat-like attention span universe of today.

So happy birthday TLS. I've just bough my first issue, your Centenary. Looking forward to getting to know you.

Friday, January 25, 2002

The South By Southwest Blog is back, which is really neat. I'm so excited about this year's conference since many of the other attendees from San Francisco are now friends and I'll get to see old comrades from my days back in Tejas.

I will not be sleeping. And not by choice.
I'm going to stay in tonight. I deserve it.
A former Enron executive was found dead in his car this morning, an apparent suicide. Oy what a mess.

Comments? (I'm going to use the Central Booking Forums until I redesign. You need to register but its way easy)

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

I'm on the phone with Dell ordering a new computer. At long last.

Monday, January 21, 2002

I had a long and rather somber thing to say about race today, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. But I'm feeling too happy.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Wow. I just got back from celebrating my one year anniversary with Suzan. Amazing. More tomorrow.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

I have a thing or two to say about Stephen Ambrose. But it's taking me awhile.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Writng a business plan is very very hard.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Talk of the Nation, ordinarily an intelligent and mature NPR program, has now squeezed the last drop of media play out of September 11th (I'm not calling it 9-11. It's an event, not an automobile).

This morning, there was a show on the decision to have children and raising them after September 11th. About 75% of the callers read NPR's conceit as "It's a scary world. Do we want to have kids?" and they were probably right. Most said they didn't feel like they could give their offspring the "protected, ideal childhood" that they had and were worried about bringing another life into this world.

Horeshit. That's what I think of this premise. Not only has the world never been safe (believe me, parents in the 11th century freaked out about raising kids in a world with gunpowder), but this question shamelessly panders to the affluent, white demographic drop zone of National Public Radio. I haven't asked, but I didn't hear any callers saying "I'm just worried about paying my bills" or "My kids have to duck gunfire on the way to school." Plenty of people aren't in cirumstances to have "ideal childhoods", and are just trying to make it each day, world events notwithstanding. The idea that kids live in little aquariums and that a national tragedy can be seen as nothing more than pissing in the water is not only offensive, but bad parenting. The world has never been safe and the notion that it once was and was then stolen from us is about fear. Nothing more. It's very possible for kids to still be kids. We just have to raise them to be smarter, faster than we did in the past, not less innocent, not weary, just smarter. It's not easy but my guess is the result is a helluva lot healthier than hiding behind a nation's pain with our eyes squeezed shut, hoping it will all go away.

Monday, January 14, 2002

I have one thought on miniature golf courses: The more garish, the better. I want windmills, moats, putting brightly colored balls between the hoofs of large ceramic giraffes. That orange, blocky motif at a Putt Putt to me always seemed like playing golf in an aisle at Target.

Which is why I'm headed to suburban Chicago immediately to play Ahlgrim Acres, a nine hole course. In a funeral home.
I just heard that director Ted Demme has died. He was only 38 and made some ok/good movies including Beautiful Girls and Blow. He was also one of the first white filmmakers to see and embrace the potential of hip-hop through a long association with "Yo, MTV Raps."

Sunday, January 13, 2002

I, being of average intelligence and limited patience, can't stand pop up ads. Here's a way to make them all go away (thanks Dinah).
This is kinda neat. I can now stereotype myself as a blogger.

My Blogger Code: B2 d+ t k s- u f i o+ x e- l- c--
Dragging ass all day thanks to that micro-dose of sleep. Had a great lunch with my buddy Jay where we discussed activism, erosion of privacy and living by example. Now it's Sunday and I'm trying to write my letter of the week. Without much success.
Just saw a whole wad of people at a party thrown by Laura Johnson of She's got a nice little blog, a fabulous Noe Valley apartment and superb taste in music. Plus it was neat to see my friend Ev for the first time in the new year, boogie along to Purple Rain on the DVD player with Wendy Beck and see old social buddies Jish, Kristin and Peter Merholz. Now I have to get up in 6 hours. Goodnight.

Saturday, January 12, 2002

It's so beautiful here. Especially today.
Documentary filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl is 99 years old and has a new film called Underwater Adventures about her lifelong scuba hobby coming out this summer just in time for her 100th birthday. She hasn't made a film in nearly 50 years but her Triumph of the Will is one of the scariest yet most influential documentarys ever made. The young Riefenstahl was handpicked by Adolf Hitler to sculpt his cinematic image and she did it so powerfully that it got her vilified for decades afterwards. Riefenstahl didn't exactly handle it well, claiming that politics had nothing to do with her creating the visual language of the Nazi party. Yeah right. Nonetheless, her achievement and her contribution to the art of cinema are undeniable.

There's a pretty good documentary on her called The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, available and any fine local videostore.

Friday, January 11, 2002

I didn't have much of an opinion of the historian Stephen Ambrose (Band of Brothers) except I was a little sick of his notion that history started and stopped at WW II. Now that he's being accused of copying from other scholars for nearly every book he's written over the last decade, I'm a little more interested. Also I had how to learn how to spell plagiarism.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Now this is a really cool use of a big pile of data (via my buddy Jish).

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

I just finished my next book review for the Chronicle. This one was like a religious experience, all-consuming, passionate, and highly rewarding even though it kicked the shit out of me. Guess what the book was called? Rapture.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Wiretap Magazine, my old employer, had a nice little piece on print zines, and where they might go in the age of message board communities, chat rooms, and weblogs. I became a zine reader when I moved to San Francisco, and have struggled valiantly to keep up with those that intrigued me. Yet while being a zinester has a low bar to entry (part of the appeal), being a loyal fan is a pain in the neck. Zines by nature are ephemeral, flames of creative energy, quickly extinguished. Zinesters bore easily and rarely print second runs of back issues (therefore if you pick up issue #9 and love it, issues #1-8 are probably already a memory) and distribution houses, usually the tireless work of one person, go out of business very quickly. Even the old big ass catalogs are mostly gone. Finally, without recommendations from other zine reading friends (of which I have exactly none), quality is a very slippery proposition.

Yet I push on. The giddyness and zeal of putting words on paper just because you have to no matter who listens, no matter how ghetto your Kinko's copied pages are, is what independent media's all about. And a big part of what I'm about too.

And just what the hell are zines?
Michael Moore is set to die. I've about had it with state-sponsored murder, its wastefullness and appallingly high rate of error. When I get a moment, I'm going to be posting some resources for anyone out there who also thinks the death penalty is a disgraceful scar on the face of this country.
Two fans from Seattle have already begun a four-month wait in line for Star Wars, Episode II. For pete's sake, grow up!
A neat peaen to libraries in these uncertain times, these low-lit places of "endless comfort and pleasure". (via

Monday, January 07, 2002

Makes me think I should have been an Apple user.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

Just emailed Mena Trott (who designed this here template) about the redesign of this here site which she gallantly offered to do in exchange for some stuff off her Amazon Wish List, the official currency of the 21st century. This site will probably be powered by Moveable Type and have its own domain. Hooray!

Saturday, January 05, 2002

I just wrote an enormous post about writing that seems to have vanished. I'm going to kill somebody.
News strategy went ok today. I'm also thinking about sending the articles I print to a prisoners books program.

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Had a good long conversation with my college roommate Justin tonight, which mostly centered around where to get news and whome to trust in these days of fear, hysteria, and war-hungry blowhards. Justin is among the most savvy media consumers I know, always about 3 months ahead of me on what to read and whom to listen. I owe him for introducing me to Salon (word for word perhaps my favorite site) and AlterNet, where I ended up working 2 years later.

I haven't been great with news lately, glancing at the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle on the bus ride to work, then submerging myself in the book world for the rest of the day. When Enron bit the dust a few weeks ago and my friends and colleagues were shaking their hands in anger, I could only nod blankly. I knew the company had gone bankrupt, knew they had sunk much of their employee's 401k's into their own failing stock but that was about it.

I asked Justin where he gets his news, when he reads and how he makes time. Then I made a mental list of all the first class writers I used to read as a journalism student then as a cub reporter. Then I found their columns on the web and created a aggregate link using Quickbrowse, which I also use for collecting stories for the Re:Read newslog at Central Booking. My plan is to cycle quickly through them in the morning, print what I'd like to read further then either read the printouts later before dinner or on Saturday morning.

My News List, Draft #1

Everyone at the New Year's Day party I went to was all giggly about this mystery Apple product, isomethingorother.

Where have I been?

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Some guy tried to spend 16 consecutive hours at a Home Depot and kept a journal of the horror. And no, it wasn't me.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Right before I left Derek's house this afternoon, he said "Here's to better things in 2002." It reminded me of a song that always sets me off, with promise, on my way. This one's for Derek and everyone who is looking into the morning of this year with hope.

"I know you've got a lot of good things happening up ahead.
The past is gone, it's all been said.
So here's to what the future brings.
I know tomorrow you'll find better things."

---The Kinks
Socialized my little tuchas off today: Suzan and I spent most of the afternoon at the stunning Cole Valley home of Derek Powazek and Heather Champ. Ate some yummy bagels, finally met Mr. Ben Brown after several months of emailing and alternated holding their two little Chihuahuas up to my nose. Then made a quick stop at the South Beach home of Susan, a new friend and colleague who has graciously voluntereed to introduce me to Andy Ross, the owner of Cody's Books in Berkeley. Mr. Ross and I talked publishing, books and decided to get together in the new future and discuss working together.

2002 is off to a roaring start.
My entry for the mayfly project (a 20-word summary of my 2001) is as follows:

"Got fired, hired myself, got serious with someone. And with myself. Made it out. Will play on."