Thursday, September 26, 2013


Burying the Hatchet: The Death of the Negative Book Review

(illustration by Jordan Awan for The New Yorker)

I'm an editor at a micropress publisher (of POETRY, for god's sake), a huge supporter of my friends in the literary and visual arts, and a de facto agent for my wildly talented poet husband, so you would think I'm down, but I just can't play.

In a nutshell: I fear we are becoming a people who cannot take a punch, or give or receive criticism, or who are increasingly discouraged to practice intelligent discernment. Yeah, I rail against social media and the 140 character thought too, and lament what I think it is doing to us individually and culturally, but the hallowed book review shouldn't pander to the lowest common denominator, regardless of perceived bloodsport, or the possibility of the reviewed's death knell, or any comment on the self-worth of the author of the review.

Sorry for my obsession with this text at the mo', but I find it a bit micro-meta that the author mentions Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Sigh.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wow, I love this kind of stuff! But, ummmmm, 1) do they not do common sense investigations in Oklahoma like they do everywhere else? Did no one watch Fried Green Tomatoes? and, 2) holy smokes, that Camaro STILL looks sweet

Submerged Cars Found in Oklahoma May Solve Cold Cases

Mental note: do not go missing in Mayberry.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sometimes, I forget that I'm a girl, and then...

(ice cream cone brooches, 1986)

"Jewelry is not only about carats and diamonds," said [jewelry historian and curator of the Bulgari vintage collection Amanda] Triossi, "it's also about design - a work of art in its own right, which is why it should be featured in a museum."

The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950-1990.

Show opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 17, 2014. M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, S.F.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Oh how I love Rebecca Solnit.

Diary: In the Day of the Postman

Where do I begin with this? At the beginning.

In or around June 1995 human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound – and troubling, not least because it is hardly noted. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago.

Now, "our lives have ratings."

The new chatter [of social networking, constant access to email, texting, constant internet access in general] puts us somewhere in between [solitude and communion], assuaging fears of being alone without risking real connection. It is a shallow between two deep zones, a safe spot between the dangers of contact with ourselves, with others.

The older people I know are less affected because they don’t partake so much of new media, or because their habits of mind and time are entrenched. The really young swim like fish through the new media and hardly seem to know that life was ever different. But those of us in the middle feel a sense of loss.

I am one of those in the middle. In 1995, I had just transferred to 4-year university after a trip overseas where I "travel[ed] across the world with almost no contact with the people who loved me, and there was a dizzying freedom, a cool draught of solitude, in that." I remember the fear I had in signing up for a university email account -- my first email account -- and the class I took where the instructor grudgingly asked if we wanted to turn in homework via email, which was met with a resounding "no" from the class and a sigh of relief from the instructor. I remember "dialing up." And yes, now I find myself mourning even as I check my smartphone when the conversation lulls.

It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded those open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void, and filled up with sounds and distractions.

I watched an excellent documentary a few years ago, Walking With Cavemen, about the evolution of man. The thing that has always stuck with me from this program is the idea that it was harnessing fire that propelled our evolution so rapidly. The why is what is so profound. Without fire, we were forced to live in a state of constant fear and hypervigilance to predation. Fire allowed us some sense of protection against those creatures that might make us a meal. It created down-time, introspection, a time to contemplate and think without the constant yoke of fear. A time to dream.

What has happened to our open spaces? We can dream, and this is the world we made?

Right now we need to articulate these subtle things, this richer, more expansive quality of time and attention and connection, to hold onto it. Can we? The alternative is grim, with a grimness that would be hard to explain to someone who’s distracted.

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(UPDATE 9/16/2013: The transcript of The Guardian's original interview regarding Cumberbatch's views on Manning, et al has been placed on their site, and though his misguided quotes are still there, this does serve to soften via muddling his position a bit.

What to take away? The internets: never what they seem -- even this -- and designed for hits, full stop. Actors' -- even the smartish ones -- opinions: still generally not a great foundation to base your own views on, and who knows what they're actually thinking, though good on Cumberbatch for recognizing his power and reach, and/or simple need to preserve his reputation in attempting to clarify that he isn't a daft monster. Cumberbatch does truly own the internets, and damn, I wonder how much his publicist makes.

If you're still wondering about why anyone would care about what someone like Benedict Cumberbatch thinks is at all important: The Banality of Systemic Evil)

Okay, okay.

Giving 26 interviews a day, being thrust into the spotlight because of a starring role in something that tackles extremely complex issues, and being just a plain old human with human vanity and human verbal diarrhea are probably factors. But still, I hate when this happens.

Benedict Cumberbatch: Chelsea Manning Got What She Deserved

Ugh, so disappointing.

But [her] superiors might have been right to say to [her], it’s not your position to be worried about it within the hierarchy of the military organisation, which is why [she] had to be sentenced. [She] took an oath, and [she] broke that oath.

Lesson numero uno, actors: don't open your pie holes when it comes to politics unless you're extremely well-versed in your comprehension of the issue, and your name is Matt Damon.

If they are saving lives, how can we say that’s less important than civil liberties?

Ummmm, maybe I should just stop reading about your opinions and just enjoy the shiny shiny? Oh god, can't. stop. reading.

Isn’t it hypocritical to say, we should know everything about you as a government, but the government can’t know anything about us?

For the reals? Mayday, mayday, hurtling uncontrollably toward becoming un-Batched. Sad panda.

And now a word from our author:

What is heartbreaking about this set of sentences? Aside from the abandonment of the notion that individuals are obligated to the best of their ability to discover and struggle for what is right—especially as they grow up—it’s the contradiction involved in simultaneous claims to sympathy for one’s fellow humans and unthinking deference to authority. With this statement, Cumberbatch leaves us to wonder whether he understands that governments are run by groups of individuals who often use state power for their own underhanded purposes[...]America’s founders accepted a measure of mass insecurity to preserve the personal liberty they knew was essential to democracy and human dignity and happiness. Cumberbatch is not an American, but one could think that the last two-and-a-half centuries of Western fealty to this idea might have made an impression on him.

Thank you for writing what I've been thinking, Alexander Reed Kelly.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Some shameless, sort-of self promotion...

Spooky Actions Books (which I co-edit) will be releasing our second chapbook, yolotl by Lourdes Figueroa, on September 13th! Lourdes will be reading from yolotl, along with Wendy Trevino and Nicole Trigg, at Small Press Traffic on September 15th. If you're in the Bay, we can finally meet!

(gorgeous original artwork for yolotl by Hanae Rivera captures the essence of this body of work beautifully)

Please come by, say hello, and hear Lourdes read her wonderful work. Books will be available at the reading and at our website.

Trevino, Triggs, Figueroa at SPT

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As if I need to remind you, 1) about how real men should dress, or 2) of my forever love for British fashion house Alexander McQueen and how their great accessories can make anything pop, or 3) about why Benedict Cumberbatch.

(Press photo for The Fifth Estate press conference at TIFF)

Cumberbatching aside, I write because I also love fashion and cinema; there's been a lot of jabbering about whether or not Cumberbatch's fashion choices for his full-on three film assault on TIFF 2013 are too conservative, uptight, and British.

This surprised me, because his fashion choices are clearly those of a man who has the right people in his corner to go about crafting a career and public persona based, in part, on his quintessential classic Britishness, sure, but who also dress him** beautifully while adding just the right amount of whimsy to keep the look young and current. Perfect.

Anyway, to wit: the slim cut suit in dark blue, the crisp whites with just enough cuff, and the pocket kerchief square are givens, but it's all about that tie. Isn't anyone paying attention to details?

**or, he's getting his cues himself from Sherlock as well as recycling that tie for a long-ass time. Big ups either/or.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday, September 09, 2013

Russell Brand used to creep me out so much, but in the last few years he has really let both his intellect and his compassion shine through in his comedy.

This Joke About a Sponsor's Nazi Ties Got Russell Brand Banned from the GQ Awards After-Party


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