Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year! (The Year In Blogging)


Happy New Year!

It's been fifteen months already that Dead End Follies has been running. In 2010, it picked up steam and an identity of its own. I narrowed down my focus and was able to pick up a small crew of regulars, exactly like I hope. I started with 600 visits a month, mainly for photos and closed the year with 4 600 visits in two months, resulting in a little over 19 000 unique visitors for the year alone.

I have discovered in 2010 that the best possible PR for one's blog is other people's blogs. Leaving comments, not links or spam, only valid comments, will create a reason in many bloggers mind, to visit your little corner of the internet. I have to thank The Rejectionist for her summer Uncontest and Ingrid @ The Blue Bookcase for the Literary Blog Hop, for creating my two best traffic-inducing activities of the year.

In 2011, I plan on 1)Keeping my relationships with the bloggers I was able to reach in 2010 and 2)Target some higher traffic platforms for my comments. Group blogs, e-zines and news sections, so I can get Dead End Follies to the next level. My goal for 2011? Finish the year with 55 000 unique visitors, which means a 1,9X growth from what I got right now. All starting in January.

So I'm out of town as of tonight. See you on January 3rd for the 2011 programing of Dead End Follies!


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Book Review : Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections (2001)


Country: USA

Genre: Literary/Drama

Pages: 609




I finished The Corrections while riding the subway home yesterday. As I rode the escalator out, a man noticed the copy I held in my hand. He smiled and gave me a nod of approval. The Corrections is that kind of book. It's a six hundred pages emotional trial that leaves its readers scarred like prostate cancer survivors. It's long, terribly involving and leaves you with a sense of unspeakable pride once you finished it. It's not perfect by any means, but Jonathan Franzen has a patience and a dedication to his craft that leads him to create characters that literally jump out of the page and attack you.

You all more or less know the story. Alfred, patriarch of the Lambert family (and dogmatic follower of Arthur Schopenhauer), is ravaged by Parkinson's disease and his wife Enid seeks her children Gary, Chip and Denise, so they can spend one last Christmas together in their house of St. Jude Kansas. The kids are waist deep into their own lives and The Corrections is their stories. There's no real plot, just a path to one last Christmas for the Lambert family. I say there's no plot because it's a known fact that Enid wants to reunite the family for a few days, by page sixty and the only "plot development" to speak of is a yes or a no from Gary, Chip and Denise. That's where Jonathan Franzen's magic kicks in.

The stories the characters emotional/psychological states, a few months away from Christmas, are weaved and streamed the way James Joyce would stream the consciousness of a single character. One page you have Chip Lambert on the sidewalk, brooding over the ruins of his ambitions and as you turn the next page, you dive into a long past memory from eight years ago that explains his current state of depression. In that sense, The Corrections asks a lot from its reader. I can imagine not connecting to the Lambert family if I didn't had three or four long reading stretches to settle in the storyline and understand the structure of Franzen's writing. Every hundred pages or so, he changes the point of view for another protagonist.

Literary realism is not easy, at an age of post-modernist gimmicks. It's a detail-oriented work. Franzen sews the destinies of his characters together with sometimes subtle allusions and sometimes enormous elements. He keeps the reader off balanced. The "real" in The Corrections, what hooks and sinks the reader is that "patriarchal call" that the kids feel forced to obey to, despite the state of their lives, marking the change of eras they went through at their grew up and their respective relationship with their parents as they all reacted differently to Alfred and Enid's own set of values. I found myself rooting for Denise's risk-taking ambition and feeling for Chip's vulnerability.

When I say The Corrections is not perfect, I mean that Franzen himself sometimes indulges into personal stuff that weights the novel even more than the Damocles sword that Alfred has over his head. He sometimes feels forced to channel Henry James and put a page-and-a-half sentence here and there. I find it maddening. Maybe it's some custom from another time, but I find this type of sentence useless. I like my ideas regrouped in paragraphs, not running over endless sentences. He also sometimes makes comments out of the blue, on subjects like the Lithuanian political situation, which led me to mutter "oh dude, come on", from time to time. Fortunately, he kept it short.

Sometimes, these references are playful, like in Chip's story, where the literary theory class he gives is getting torn to shreds his student. That marks a clear rejection of the academic system by Franzen and it makes him score big in my esteem. The Corrections is a physical, intellectual and emotional challenge that will require your total cooperation, but it's a novel that feels rewarding, if not a little depressing. You have to be in the mood to be shaken up, because shake you up it will. Read it, but not for leisure. Read it because you feel strong and ready. It's worth your time.



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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 - The Year In Writing


One sure thing, I worked hard in 2010. I might not have worked smart and focused, but I got some work done and paid some dues. I published many articles, both on the web and in print and I even got paid for it. I'm still very new at journalism, so it's good to get some publications on my resume and get my name out there. The smartest move I made was to go in sports journalism. It turns out I have somewhat of an expertise in mixed martial arts and people like to read about my opinions. It sure feels good to get a little bit of recognition.

Another thing I'm proud I did was to finish a 92 000 words draft of Solace. It's clunky, it sucks and I have only myself to blame for this, but I got over this mental barrier. I can write a novel. I have a great beginning and a great ending, and right now, I'm working on creating an in-between that makes sense and it worth reading. So far so good, three chapters into draft two.

The main this I have learn about writing this year is patience. You can learn as much as you want about the mechanics of the craft, but there are intangible factors that you can't completely control. Nothing is doable in a first draft and it's futile to get angry at critics. There are countless efforts put in an original draft, but the very purpose of it is to show your weaknesses and to get demolished. Readers that try a writer for the first time don't exactly care about his feelings. They want to be grabbed by the throat and entertained. Better have people critiquing your work and pointing your shortcomings than have your book being picked up by indulgent people and not sell.

Writing is a long term activity. Jonathan Franzen wrote two (very good) novels in eighteen years. Fitzgerald took nine years to write Tender Is The Night, who was the last book he wrote after The Great Gatsby. The quality of Chuck Palahniuk's novels plummeted after he started to produce them on an annual plan. It takes great time and courage to write good novels. Writing, reading and doing neither of that for a certain period of time is a balance that's very hard to establish. Try that, being productive and thoughtful about your work at the same time.

What's on the program in 2011? Finishing the novel and starting to query for once. Preferably before the summer, but I don't want to rush anything. Also, I want to start selling more work. I started writing an essay and when I'll be done, I'm going to go balls out and try and offer it to the biggest magazines. We never know who's going to pick it up. Working smarter and taking more chances are on the program for me.


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2010 - The Year In Reading



2010 was very productive, yet very American for me as a reader. Maybe my most American yet. The only book I remember reading in French is Citoyens Clandestins, an award-winning french political thriller, which left me profoundly disappointed. The plot and the story arc were decent at best, but kind of mechanical and monotonous. It's one thing to have a deep and layered plot, but it's another to keep your cast in a manageable number and to develop your characters enough to make them differentiable from each other. Citoyens Clandestins was a long 700 pages.

This year has also marked the end of my path in Academia. I placed so much hopes into a long academic career and left so disgruntled, it made the landing very hard. I have no faith in Academia anymore and my readings reflect this disenchantment. We didn't read much American writers in college, because they don't fit the portrait. At least not as well as some European writers do. Flamboyant wankers with a skill for quoting - within fiction or not - like Umberto Eco gather a lot of attention for other quoting monkeys that are literature students, but his fiction doesn't take risk and doesn't ask questions that matters to him. Eco's novels are enjoyable to a certain degree, but they are only a reflection of his involvement with his own studies.

My two main discoveries this year, Franzen and Wallace, show open contempt for Academia. It's refreshing to see somebody of Wallace's intellect display such a visceral attachment to his work of fiction and level of awareness towards self-indulgent quoting. Reading Wallace this year was to find an answer to how to survive what I call an "Academic Divorce". I thought I knew how to read after college, yet he taught me another way.

So, given that I broke up with any sort of formatted thought process for reading and writing, 2010 was by far the most D.I.Y year of my existence. I broke up with my fiction dogmas and broadened up my perspective. I have read ten, maybe twelve "writing help" books (I can't pinpoint an official title for them yet), only to find out they can get you so far before you have to sit behind the word processor and do the work yourself. The most interesting reads I have made so far in "writing help" are the Donald Maass books, who stand out due to his experience based approach and his motivating skills and the classic The Elements Of Style by William Strunk and E.B White, which was concise, accurate and rather original, when compared to others.

Last, but not least, I have explored the genres of essay and non-fiction novel and somewhat fell in love. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote was by far my favorite reading this year. The elegance of his style and the originality of his approach to the darkest crime was truly enlightening for the young reader (and younger) writer that I am. David Foster Wallace and Chuck Klosterman also made me want to write essays. I've discovered this genre to be fairly trendy in magazines and a fine way to express concern on subjects and be heard by a greater audience...while getting paid for it. It's a genre where writers take tremendous liberties in style and content, so that it never loses its actuality.

So what's on the program for 2011? My love for American writers will continue throughout the years with maybe occasional stops in U.K and Japan. I have a Haruki Murakami itch that is starting to be felt under my left ear. Maybe some Yukio Mishima also. I have read (and enjoyed) many of his works, so 2011 might be the time to read the Sea Of Fertility tetralogy and Sun And Steel. More re-reading also? I have talked so much about Mystic River this year that I feel like reading it over. But all these plans are accessory to one quintessential reading I have to do.



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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Official Rant About Tron:Legacy



I have a chip on my shoulder about the new Tron movie. I'm not going to watch on the principle that I refuse to pay or to spend valuable time watching a movie that represent everything that's wrong with Hollywood today. Like for Eat, Pray, Love I don't turn my back on it if I'm caught on a plane or some place else where I'll have to burn a few hours, but I refuse to watch this movie with two valuable hours of my life. If you think I'm wrong, try to answer this question:

Who thought it was a good idea to reboot Tron at the first place?

I get the whole "rebooting franchises to cash in on the nostalgia factor" concept. It worked admirably well for Star Wars and it somewhat fitted Indiana Jones (I liked the movie. I'm not in love with it, but it was all right), but Tron? Really? It's not even a franchise. It's a dumb 1982 Disney movie, made by people who were clueless about the future and tried to imagine life within a computer with hockey helmets and glow-stick leotards. It wasn't a very successful movie in the theaters, but it was a hit with people like this guy, who found a cult angle and a comedic factor to the colorful and harmless ignorance of Tron. I would've been fine with the movie if it would have been left right where it belongs in cinema history.

What's the target audience for Tron? Film nerds that are in the process of re-buying their whole collection in Blu-Ray Disc (I fit this category at approximatively 40%. I'm a film nerd, but I refuse Blu-Ray). Who is Tron: Legacy targeting? Teenagers and hip young adults who go see a movie as a mean of escapism. It's edgy enough. Oh and to children and families also. It has a lot of colors, it's in 3D and it's in this imaginative world. The warning signs of a monotonous, predictable and cliché ridden movie that aims at no one in particular. Edgy, athletic girl with short hair? Check. Lenghty action scenes that put the emphasis on 3D? Check. Empty main character that Hollywood is trying to push forward? Check. Appearance from the original actor, groomed to look like its best role in his career (in occurence, Jeff Lebowski), check. It's going in all directions.

Like many movies that use the 3D technology, Tron: Legacy will try to keep its dignity by claiming its belonging to the newly born 3D era. I don't believe there is something as 3D nerds yet. It's a cool technology, but it's rather young, gimmicky and underdeveloped. Things popping up from the screen have a certain appeal, but after a while, it will have to be used creatively to keep any appeal. Bottom line, by not going to see Tron: Legacy, you're sending a message to film executives that look at your wallet with the hunger of a Biggest Loser contestant. Instead, go see the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit, The Fighter or Black Swan. If you have kids with you, go see Yogi Bear. There is no valid excuse to go see Tron: Legacy.



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Movie Review : Step Up 3D (2010)



Country:

USA

Recognizable Faces:

Sharni Vinson *really, she's the only name that rings a bell*

Directed By:

Jon Chu



I wanted to tackle a dance movie for a little while now. America's obsession with dancing is the source of endless fascination to me. From the healthy days where Gene Kelly tap-danced to express his overflowing love for Debbie Reynolds and Olivia Newton-John made this sensual leather-clad face off with John Travolta, the perception of dancing in America (and dancing, period) has come a long way. It's been getting some considerable steam from Hollywood's propaganda machine as a mean of saving youth from itself. Dancing is now the sexy and edgy way of being yourself and find true love. It's a non-violent cure for every ill in existence. Now, unless you're a top-notch break-dancer or a mean tango dancer, you're not going to get laid anytime soon from dancing, which leads the conspiracy theorist in me to believe all these efforts are financed by China, to turn young Occidentals into sissies.

I had the pleasure to "stumble" upon Step Up 3D at the in-laws during the Christmas break. It's a tradition over there to watch wonderfully commercial movies for the Holidays. Two years ago I discovered High School: The Musical, just to give you a point of reference. It's enjoyable as the in-laws give me the right to color-comment. I'm a bit late on the Step Up frenzy as the third installment doesn't exactly let you in the gang innuendos, but it's about that street dancing crew called the Pirates who are lead by charismatic leader Luke (Rick Malambri). They are poor, but pure of heart. They train in a facility called "The Vault" and they have this grudge with this rival crew called the Samurai (*sigh*), who are rich and spoiled and very good dancers too. I think they happen to own "The Vault", but I'm not sure. I was too busy commenting and getting over the Christmas party to care about that detail.

If you think that's a simplistic enough plot, you should hear the dialogs. Luke has this new dancers joining the Pirate, Natalie (Vinson). She's hot and she dances like the devil, but she also happens to be the sister of the Samurai leader Julien (Joe Slaughter), who was once the lead Pirate, but got kicked out for fixing a losing performance. Natalie is Julien's spy, but she happens to fall in love with Luke, because of the way he dances (hot male bod might have helped a little bit, but they keep quiet about that). Well, Natalie doesn't know Julien was kicked out for being a prick. When she finds out, the movie grants us its best one liner (best one liners come from Natalie and Julien): "You didn't tell me you were kicked out for cheating, you told me Luke was jealous". Another favorite of mine was when Natalie leaves with Luke at a party, Julien says: "Don't listen to him. He's a loser".

But let's skim on the plot and go to the movie's main point. Dancing. Step Up 3D, as its name implies, was made for 3D shooting and those movies are notorious for stepping back on plot in order to leave creative room for 3D usage. Those young actors dance good. Very good. No style in particular though, a mix of hip-hop dances, ballet, tap dance. They make it look easy. That's well done. The problem I have with that is that it's selling kids a false representation of something. I have a good friend who's involved in the hip-hop dancing scene and there's nothing like that. People dance in basements and school gymnasiums. There's no choreographed rain style dancing. There's also no World Jam to prove your skills in front of an audience of horny young teenagers. Choosing to be a dancer for a lifestyle will never give you the approbation of anyone as you grow older. Not if you don't have a second job to support you. In a sense it's like being a writer. You don't live off this if you're not the best.

Kudos to Hollywood for sexualizing something non-violent. I'm a bit concerned with the energy they spend covering the subject. After seeing The Fighter a week before, a realistic portrait of boxing, I think it's about time movies stop demonize contact sports. It's not bad to hit people in a controlled atmosphere. It gives you self confidence and makes you a better human being outside. Bottom line, I think I'm not impressed by any attempt to sexualize anything.

SCORE:41%



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Monday, December 27, 2010

Back From The Boonies



Hello Dead End Fellows.

I am back from the first part of my rather ressourceful holiday trip. My next three days will consists of a spartan diet of work, gym, Playstation and a handful of blog posts! You bunch of lucky mongrels! Over those few days I've read over 430 pages of The Corrections (and will try to finish it this week), I watched strange movies, grew opinionated about plenty of things and lived to see the most surreal, badass, hardcore traditional Christmas party ever.

A lot of city folks tend to look down on country people and farmers, but do you know what the truth is? They don't need us. Their idea of fun suits me a lot more than cramming myself in a night club and go deaf trying to have conversation. We had dinner, played cards, drank beer, went to a hilarious midnight mass where half of us took a power nap and played games and drank more until the sun came up. Before I knew it, it was 5 AM and the party was over. Even Scarlett was beaten up with countryside energy. Everyone, included Josie's eighty years old grandparents walked out of there while my dog slept on the floor.

I come from the woods, from a mining community. City dwellers don't know the difference between miners and farmers, but there is one. Farmers rock. They don't care what you think of them and they know how to have fun.


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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas, My Dead End Fellows!



So this is Christmas...

...And I'm out the door!

Merry Christmas to you, my beloved readership! Tomorrow, I'm leaving town for a few days, question to spend some quality time with family and different relatives of mine. So no posting for three or four days. Well, maybe one post, because I suck at not posting (I guess you figured it out by now), but the normal flow of blog posts will be interrupted until Monday or Tuesday, depending on how my brain and my liver respond to the multiple excesses I plan on making.

I'm not the most religious guy, but I think Christmas means a lot more than the birth of a skinny and mellow dude, so get together with people you love and please, have fun. You'll have a whole year in 2011 to think about you, your life and your project. So have fun and be nice, like the skinny and mellow dude said. He might have tripped out about his old man with the beard, but he was pretty cool. A good hackey sack player.

Oh yeah...and take some time to read!


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Book Review : John Updike - Rabbit, Run (1960)



Country: USA

Genre: Literary/Drama

Pages: 264



I had this pre-reading beef with John Updike. I thought he smiled too much. To me, a writer that smiles all the goddamn time is a writer who's very content about his body of work. Fellow writers will agree that total contentment is the beginning of the end. I started reading Rabbit, Run with a knife between my teeth and the firm intention to find holes in the multiple prize winning author's game. Well, surprise surprise, Rabbit, Run is not perfect, but it's a gutsy novel that has the courage to dig deep where everybody always simplifies.

To understand the novel, you have to understand the character. Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom is twenty-six years old and he's having a hard time. He was a basket-ball star in high school and eight years after graduation day, he still can't adjust to the reality of working class. His wife Janice is an alcoholic that frequently drinks while pregnant of their second child and one day Rabbit freaks out and leaves. For no destination in particular, but he has one goal in mind. To find back this feeling of freedom and bliss he had in high school.

Rabbit goes to visit first his basket-ball coach Marty Tothero, who got kicked out of his position for an unexplained scandal, but since he introduces him to part time prostitute Ruth Leonard, you can only imagine. From there, starts a series of encounters that Rabbit will start running from each time he's asked to behave with selflessness and take responsibilities. Ruth, Reverend Jack Eccles, Janice, her parents, his parents, will all beg him, then tell him to take his responsibilities, but each time, Rabbit runs off. He's quite the frustrating character, but here's here Updike's genius lies. Rabbit proves a point. He's not a hero, but more of an example. The feeling of blissful freedom of your teenage years disappear as you enter real life and it's never coming back.

Rabbit Angstrom's sorrow is real and understandable. In high school, he was on top of the world. A very small world it is, but he controlled it. That feeling of power is gone and he's scrambling to find some meaning. His attitude throughout the novel is reprehensible for sure, but it's also quite human. Feelings of fear and inadequacy in front of life's responsibilities afflict many people who try to forget the existential dread of the working class condition with alcohol or try to make their world so small that they can control everything again. I can hardly condemn Rabbit from wanting than the dead end he arrived in. His behavior is the one of a confused child more than a true attempt at hurting people. He's pitiful more than despicable.

That said, Rabbit, Run is everything but easy. If you're willing to look at John Updike's ballsy attempt at understanding the problem of irresponsibility, you'll first have to wrestle with an austere text that has little regards for chapters, paragraphs or most conventions of fiction writing (past tense, causality, story arc, etc.) It's definitively not a read that everybody can enjoy, but you can only admire the ENORMOUS risk he took by creating such a character at the start of the sixties. Rabbit, Run dares you to like it, and that makes it my kind of book.


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Literary Blog Hop Part 7:An Overlooked Masterpiece



The Blog Hop is back from its short hiatus. Let's celebrate. It's never too late to participate. All you have to do is written here.


Sometimes you have to make choices. When you reach a certain level of excellence in what you choose, no one is going to be fully happy at the crossroads. I think it's safe to say that most serious literary readers never head the name. Dennis Lehane. They have heard of his works though. They heard of it outside the aisles of the book store and probably in a cinema hall, while choosing what movie they're going to see with their significant others. The novels of Dennis Lehane have been behind three blockbusters since 2004: Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone and by far his strongest offering yet, Mystic River.

If you were touched by watching the movie, then you owe to yourself (you literally owe to yourself like a goddamn mortgage) to pick up the novel. Those who will be expecting a transcript of the bleak (but very good) Clint Eastwood movie are in for a serious shock. While Lehane is often categorized in the money-writer pool like King, Patterson, Rowling and cie. He couldn't be any further from them in terms of style. Reading a Dennis Lehane novel is like experiencing the perfect fusion of James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler and Jonathan Franzen. His stories are grim and turn around unspeakable crimes, their subjects are the deepest characters and their reaction to those crimes will buld a story so strong and so touching, it will knock you off your rockers.

Mystic River is about the signification of murder and unspeakable violence in a tightly knit community. About how no one can be a winner in those situations. The main characters Jimmy, Sean and Dave are marked early by this violence and therefore, it dictated the course of their lives in accordance with their personalities. Jimmy became a criminal and did an jail stretch, Sean became a police officer and Dave, the early victim of violent pedophiles became a permanent victime, a fragile human being, living in the constant fear that violence will sweep his life away again.

When it does.

It's the whole life of the neighborhood that's falling apart.

Mystic River is what a modern, completely fictional In Cold Blood would look like. The liberties Lehane can allow himself with fiction and his savant knowledge of the dark side of human mind make this an object quite unique in the History of literature. Lehane might not experiment with the language or doesn't draw the zeitgeist as well as Jonathan Franzen does, but what he does, he does better than anybody else. And it's to identify the very essence of what makes us human.

Next time you go do the book store, don't be fooled by puffy letters, screaming colors, mass market paperback format or any sort of physical proximity to James Patterson's novels. Mystic River will kick your ass and leave you changed.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Zero Punctuation - Epic Mickey



Who the hell wouldn't like to play this game? I'm pretty sure even Yahtzee did. Did he like it?

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The Traveling Sandman



It works every time. I hop on the train at the last minute. I'm very tired. I spent the day doing something very important. In 2010, it's been a book tour. The day was exhausting and the next day promises to deliver an equally punishing schedules. There are two scenarios. Or I spent the night meeting important people or I spent the day doing some random PR activities.

In the first scenario, it's six or seven in the morning and I can barely keep my eyes opened. It's a sunny and warm June morning and the train starts, for a lengthy trip. I take a quick bite at the restaurant and head up to the wagon-bed. I love this. The train moves forward, no matter what direction I go. Rays of light penetrate the wagon and illuminate the isle with a surreal light. In the wagon bed, the curtain are closed and it's almost pitch black. I find a bed and I lie down on it. It's a huge bed, so sometimes Josie is there. Even Scarlett. Through a crack in the curtain, a ray of sunlight warms up my neck. The train brings me somewhere else and I fall asleep.

The night scenario is similar, but not identical. It's midnight. Maybe even passed that. The rain is pouring outside. Electric storm. You can hear the thunder, the light roar and the subtle clang of the rain against the roof. There also, I decide to take a quick bite. Something quick and satisfying, like a pizza slice. I go to bed in the wagon, but this time I go under the bedsheets because it's cold. I close my eyes and concentrate on the rain. The train brings me somewhere else. It's not important where. Then I fall asleep.

I have never taken the train in my life, but I've been suffering from insomnia for as long as I can remember being alive. Trains help me falling asleep. I can't tell you why, but they do.

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Movie Review : Brief Interview With Hideous Men (2009)



Country:

USA

Recognizable Faces:

Julianne Nicholson
Will Arnett
John Krasinski
Joey Slotnick
Clarke Peters
Frankie Faison
Chris Meloni

Directed By:

John Krasinski



The least I can say about John Krasinski is that he's fearless. Not only he's the first director to have the balls to adapt David Foster Wallace to cinema, but he also chose a short story collection rather than a novel of a story alone. Knowing the fractured and non-linear vision Wallace had of literature, you have to admire the balls of Krasinski for trying to make a coherent eighty minutes about desperate men searching for answers to existential dread.

In order to make the story more easy to follow, Krasinski decided to streamline things and give the silent interviewer an identity. She is Sara Quinn (Nicholson), a grad student, who decided to conduct a research on the effects of feminism on men after a nasty break-up with his boyfriend Ryan (Krasinski himself, he has a funny looking face). Well, that's what I think the chronology is, because the movie doesn't exactly respects any sort of temporality. Interviews are cut with bits of Sarah's life, which is as empty as the academic life can get. This is where the movie loses most of its point. Krasinski's stance of having a feminist researcher driven by empty and vengeful thoughts make you put Wallace's writing in his perspective and makes some of the monologues lose their steam.

Even more twisted, the strength of Wallace's writing catches back to the story and end up making Sara look weak and pathetic. The whole idea behind the hideous men was to prove there was a genuine distress behind the many clichés of male shallowness. Krasinski turns Sara's character into a point of competition in between the sexes about who's more genuine than the other. It's sad, but it's a choice the director had to make to turn Brief Interviews With Hideous Men into a movie. There's a lot of smart idea, like those two undergrad students always turning around Sara are having the role of live footnotes. They pepper the movie with their idiosyncratic presence, break and ultimately take integral part to the movie.

In the end, the text wins. Helped with amazing actors like Frankie Faison (Commissioner Burrell, in The Wire), who delivers a ghastly, unforgettable performance as Subject #42, Wallace's words keep their magic. Time stops, your life doesn't matter anymore and you almost fully synchronize your existence to those of his desperate characters. Even from beyond the grave, Wallace keeps being haunting and not completely reachable. He will never be. Brief Interviews With Hideous Men is a very ambitious movie, but in the end, its most impressive achievement is that it demonstrated that Wallace cannot be fully crammed in an eighty minutes feature.


SCORE: 73%



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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Ruts - Staring At The Rude Boys



Co-blogger Paul D. Brazill revealed himself to be a Ruts fan his week on Facebook. That makes him an O.K guy to me whatever his political opinions and potential sexual fetishes are. Here's to this awesome band that unfortunately made only one album before their singer Malcolm Owen died of an overdose. Many of you know them for In A Rut, which is no doubt their best song, but here's another that's way above the punk rock average of this era.

The Ruts - Staring At The Rude Boys

It's a very small world in the middle of a crowd
the room gets dark when the music gets loud
treble cuts thru' when the rythmn takes the bite
but there's no room to move 'cause the floor is packed tight
A voice shouts loud
'we'll never surrender'
a voice in the crowd
'never surrender'
A hand in the crowds flying propaganda:
'never surrender, we'll never surrender'
The skins in the corner are staring at the bar
the rude boys are dancing to some heavy heavy ska
it's getting so hot people are dripping with sweat
the punks in the corner are speeding like a jet
Staring at the rude boys
staring at the rude boys
dancing with the rude boys
dancing with the rude boys
staring at the rude boys
staring at the rude boys...
A bunch of peers march in on the dm's
with some standing there saluting the air
they wanna be pirates but the sea is not calm
tattooed crossbows on their arm
A voice shouts loud
'we'll never surrender'
a voice in the crowd
'never surrender'
Another hand fly fly propaganda,
propaganda, propaganda
The lights come alive in a blinding flash
dance floor clears as the mutants clash
everyone leaves when the heavy's arrive
someone hits the floor, someone takes a dive
Staring at the rude boys
staring at the rude boys
dancing with the rude boys
dancing with the rude boys
staring at the rude boys
staring at the rude boys...
Staring at the rude boys
staring at the rude boys
dancing with the rude boys
dancing with the rude boys
staring at the rude boys
staring at the rude boys...
(fighting)
We'll never surrender x 8


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My Already Strange Relationship To Infinite Jest



I've been dreaming less. For all this year, my dreams were short, experimental clips more than Hollywood productions. Does it mean I'm happier or that I'm starting to retire my brain, subconsciously? I've never had the most elaborate dreams, but for most of my life, it's been pretty violent and chaotic when the light was turned off. Dreaming has been a positive experience for most of my twenties, so the quasi-absence of Oneiric activity during 2010 has been worrisome.

Two of the most bizarre and marking dreams I had were about buying (or trying to buy) a copy of Infinite Jest. The first dream happened over the summer. It's similar to many dreams I had before, when I was about to buy something I deemed important. I'm at the book store and I can't find what I want. I'm finding all of David Foster Wallace's books, but Infinite Jest. There's Oblivion, The Girl With Curious Hair, new (and completely fiction) editions of Consider The Lobster, but the one I want is not there.

I had a similar dream when I bought the Fight Club novel over from Amazon. Two or three times before I received the actual package, I dreamed I received wrong orders, with cookbooks, shitty video games and all. Somehow, when I got the actual package, the novel changed my life. Same thing when I was a kid and my parents bought me Mega Man 2. For weeks before my birthday, I dreamed I was going to Wal-Mart, I looked and looked for the game and it wasn't there. Mega Man has curiously played its role in my development also. I'm a child of my time after all.

The second Infinite Jest dream was more defined and also weirder. In this dream, I'm buying a copy, but I don't read it right away. I keep it around, I play with it, I weight it, I read the back cover again and again and again. I tell Josie it's because I want to get a good "feel" before I start reading such an important book. I woke up before starting to read.

I'm quite excited to have such a paranormal relationship with such a book. I'm aware those are just dreams and Infinite Jest might or might not live to my high expectations of it, but I am more likely to like it since I'm having these dreams. It gives an aura to this mountain of a work (conceptually and physically, Infinite Jest is a mountain of words). I'm going to read it during my 2011 vacation, that I already know, but I will now buy it way before so I can keep it around, play with it, weight it and read the back cover again and again and...


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Monday, December 20, 2010

Institutions & Individuality



The irreconcilable characters of institutions and individuality has grown to be one of my favorite themes in fiction. There is not one thought system (especially the political ones) that cannot be brought down to its knees by the dark character of human nature. 19th century philosopher Hegel had set out a scheme-to-explain everything from his office that philosophers of the 20th century are still arguing about how to refute. A certain Karl Marx took inspiration in Hegel's Phenomenology Of The Mind to create Das Kapital. Whenever I heard people arguing about Hegel, I say: "Just look at Soviet Russia". Ultimately, nothing survives human nature.

Let me explain.

Let's take a government. An anonymous national government, whose job is to hold the social fabric together. In a democratic system, its supposed to give an equal chance to succeed to every citizen. But in truth it's a lot more complex than that. The elected political party carries himself some values. Since the party is elected by the people, it's safe to say it's an affirmation of the people's values. When a government is elected with sixty percent or less of the votes, there's a big chunk of the population that are not adequately represented.

Then this political party in power is represented by individuals who themselves carry not only a set of values, but personal ambitions and goals as well as a narrower vision of what the party's philosophy should be. This is where institutions start being destructive. Since they have become to be heavily based on bureaucracy, people with the power to chose start to pick who's staying in the piles and who's fished out. Which means the best way of playing the institutions (which I remind you are supposed to keep the social fabric together) is to cheat them. My father always says: "A good networker can find his way almost anywhere". My old man is right. Institutional systems are built for objectivity, but it's impossible unless the person working is completely disinterested. And it's safe to say that institutional leaders are moved by ambition and values, which socially promotes the same values since the government is more likely to fund people sharing the same beliefs. Disinterested people (office functionaries) on the other part, will stick to the rules so bad and will work so slow that people will get lost in the system. Think about Carver and Randy Wagstaff in The Wire's majestic fourth season.

The government is only one institution, but you can replicate the same pattern with municipal governments, religion or like in Solace, the school system. The weirdest thing about institutions is that there's no valid alternative to them. That's why strong personalities are often at both extreme of the institutions. That makes for great ideological confrontations and a shitload of violence. They sure fuel my stories a lot.

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Movie Review : The Addams Family Values (1993)



Country:

USA

Recognizable Faces:

Raul Julia
Christina Ricci
Joan Cusack
Christopher Lloyd

Directed By:

Barry Sonnenfeld



I fucking love the Addams family. I used to watch the cartoons with a quasi-religious diligence (I saw the whole show more than once). The Saturday morning super heroes made their time with me, but the spooky New Jersey family managed to stay with me as I grew up. I suspect I'm not alone. Believe it or not, they were born out of Charles Addams' brain in a 1933 number of The New Yorker, which makes them the most (and only) funny cartoon to ever grace this magazine. I always thought they were a wonderful statement against conformity. They are a loving, caring and FUNCTIONAL family, despite looking like rejects from a Tim Burton movie. They live up to their Hollywood catch phrase: "Weird is relative". And yesterday, they were on TV, on an artsy national channel.

Family Values is the second movie made with the Addams family, with Barry Sonnenfeld behind the wheel. They are placed in this deliciously cliché situation where Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) falls in love with the new nanny Debbie (Joan Cusack). She was hired because Wednesday (Ricci) got jealous of newborn Pubert (Kaitlin Hooper) and tried to deal about it like only she can. Gomez (Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) then hilariously do what every responsibly parent do, they hired Debbie and sent the kids to a summer camp while Pubert settles in the house. Then the movie splits in half. One part is about Fester, falling prey to Debbie, who is in reality a dangerous black widow and the second part is about Wednesday and my personal favorite Pugsley, who try to figure their way out of a camp that bears eerie similaries with nazi P.O.W camps (a wink to The Great Escape if you ask me). But having Wednesday and Pugsley Addams under your responsibility is a lot worse than having to deal with Steve McQueen.

This is obviously a very cliché movie, but the fun part is that the Addams can't help but to corrupt whatever they touch, with their mix of over-the-top slapstick humor and subtle social puns. The plot will pull no punches, but it's not very important. The movie makes a point. You don't need to be like the others to be happy. It's illustrated through the long, passionate and melancholic rants of Gomez about his troubled relationship with his brother Fester (noticeably the most hilarious scene of the movie where Gomez goes to the police station and tries to convince an agent that Debbie is a bad person). Through Wednesday's disgust with the summer camp's racial and historical fallacy and also through the loving relationship in between Gomez and Morticia.

You can argue that the Addams' have been stating the same thing since 1993, which is true, but I can never get enough of their happiness. They stand up to occidental society with debonnaire. It's been seventeen years since The Addams Family Values came out and their presence in the mainstream media have been scarce ever since, but I don't think they are bound to disappear. They are a vigorous remedy to that 1950s monolithic suburban family portrait that still haunt collective consciousness. They will always be relevant.

SCORE: 85%


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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Movie Review : The Fighter (2010)



Country:

USA

Recognizable Faces:

Mark Wahlberg
Christian Bale
Amy Adams
Melissa Leo

Directed By:

David O. Russell



This movie had a lot to live up to. I have been following Micky Ward's career for a long time. It's an athlete I know really well and I kind of like. Is it a sign of time and growing older that I'm now going to see biopics about things I've lived on the moment? Maybe, but it's not important. The Fighter lived up to my expectations and went way beyond. If it doesn't win the Oscar this year, then the game is rigged. It's by far the most accurate movie I've ever seen about the life of combat sport athletes.

For those unfamiliar, Micky Ward (played by Wahlberg) is a legendary slugger from Massachussets. Blessed with unreal toughness and crippling body shots, he was also cursed with hands way too slow for his own good. That made him a really tough stepping stone for up and comers. He eventually walked off in the sunset with a few million dollars after three brutal fights with Arturo Gatti. The Gatti fights aren't part of the movie though. Which is a bitter-sweet decision since it's what he's remembered for. The Fighter concenrtates around his unhealthy family life and his troubled relationship with his brother and trainer Dick Eklund (played remarkably well by Christian Bale). So the Gatti fight was kind of irrelevant anyway.

The movie covers a period that goes from the Mike Mungin fight to his capture of the WBU championship belt, a formidable come-from-behind victory against Shea Neary. It's a period of twelve years, but it's not presented in order. David O. Russell skims a good part of the chronology in order to concentrate on the characters. And it's a wise decision because the characters indeed rule that movie. Much has already been said about Christian Bale's performance, but he's that good. It's his best performance since The Machinist and even then he's maybe better in this one. Mark Wahlberg is a little plain, empty, but he studied Micky Ward enough that he can make himself forgettable. Many times I was watching movie and saw Micky Ward instead of Wahlberg (who by the way, looks a lot more sympathetic than Marky Mark).

David O. Russell is the unsung star of his own movie. His portrayal of the fighter's life is spot on accurate. I've been involved in martial arts for eight years now and I can tell you nothing in cinema ever came close. There's this shot at the beginning, the night after Ward lost to Mike Mungin. He's at home, alone, trying to sleep on his couch, with a bottle of aspiring on the table nearby. This is what defeat is. Isolation, embarrassment and pain. But even beyond that, all sorts of details make it stand out in realism. Like for example when Charlene (Amy Adams) sleeps over for the first time, they sleep on a sofa bed. These guys put their whole lives on the line to look like timeless gladiators, thirty minutes every two months, but most of them can barely afford to live a decent lives outside the ring/cage.

I would suggest The Fighter to anyone who wants to career in the sport. The portrait they're show is about as good as their lives will get. And even then Ward was lucky, because the snakes around him were in his family and finally understood he needed them. Most fighters don't have this chance. The Fighter is a movie that claims its point with strength and accuracy. It can't get much better than this.

SCORE: 100%


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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit



I never really gave that song the attention it deserves until yesterday when my friend Houm and I got really wasted and played Rock Band together. Of course I heard it in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, but I never paid attention to those amazing lyrics. Today, I'm listening to it on a loop, play Final Fight on my Playstation and drink smart drinks, hoping to center myself before the week-end is over (yesterday was intense). It has a weird effect on me. I'm having intense conversations with Mike Haggar as I play. No, just kidding. But still, it's a great, somehow literary song.

Jefferson Airplane - White Rabbit

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the dormouse said;
"Keep YOUR HEAD"


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Book Review : onathan Franzen - How To Be Alone (2002)



Country: USA

Genre: Non-Fiction/Essays

Pages: 309



Funny thing, I bought the brand new edition of this book, but the cover is nowhere to be found on the internet. Anyway, I've been anticipating the read of How To Be Alone for a few months now. It's no secret that I have growing feelings for the essay as a literary genre and following the two tremendous collections published by Franzen's buddy David Foster Wallace got me pumped up for this one, especially that it's about books. Another funny (read curious) thing, is that Wallace warms the reader in his foreword, saying he might have went overboard with the intellectual pedantry in some pieces. After finishing the book, I can confirm this is about right.

It starts with a powerhouse of an essay called "My Father's Brain", where he talks about his dad's battle with Alzheimer. It's a touching portrait of his father, from a perspective I can fully relate to. My dad has nothing to do of intellectual pursuits, we couldn't be more different, but seeing him go out so slowly, so gradually would drive me nuts with grief. Franzen starts so strong than for all the following essays, it's hit or miss. He picks some of the weirdest, most pinpoint subjects to talk about. In "Lost In The Mail", he talks about Chicago's mail system and offers perspective halfway in between a Historical recollection and an citizen letter. I'm still not sure why I should care.

There are also the judgmental essays like the famous "Why Bother" and "The Reader In Exile" where he complains about the lack of importance given to literature in modern society. There's this passage that marked me where he sat in a plane and said a kid marked points with him by pulling a book out of his bag rather than a Game Boy. If I recall well, the kid was nine years old. I mean, chill out J-Franz, kids can do whatever they feel like outside of school. In fact, there are very nice, more emotionally competent people than you that never read in their lives. Basically, through those essays, he's interrogating the relevance of his work and shows how vulnerable a writer can be with his audience. It's hard to really dislike those essays because he's trying hard to figure it all out.

After "My Father's Brain" the two essays I liked the best were "Control Units", on social architecture and inner mechanics of supermax prisons, where he interviews Mutulu Shakur and Ray Luc Levasseur, and "Mr. Difficult". The latter is an essay on the virtues of difficult fiction, the work of William Gaddis in particular. Here's a point he sells with passion, by discussing and demystifying the work of Gaddis for his readers. I was reading "Mr. Difficult" and thought: "Damn, he's finally done whining".

No, it doesn't hold up well to DFW's essays. I loved Strong Motion and like three essays in this book, but the judgmental attitude of Franzen towards the people that don't read turned me away from any kind of spiritual kinship I could've felt with him. I will read The Corrections in the Holidays and I'm pretty sure I'll like it, but reading How To Be Alone didn't convince me that he's someone I should look up to. Not at all.



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Friday, December 17, 2010

Segments



It's funny. Reading How To Be Alone lead me to want to go out more and blend with more people. Solitude is good for work (when you're a writer) and rather enjoyable in general, but it can also turn you into a self-righteous turd that believes to be right about everything. It's funny to read Franzen's foreword in the new edition, where he almost apologizes for the pedant character of some of his texts. It's fine to develop theories about things, but you have to go out in the world and test them. You live in the world, no matter how bad you want to live in your head.

More Franzen. Part of their evil plot to make the universe implode from sheer awesomeness, GQ Magazine has published a profile of Jonathan Franzen, written by Chuck Klosterman. It's the literary equivalent of that fight in between Bruce Lee and a young Chuck Norris in Enter The Dragon. I'm happy Klosterman left his snide "cultural nerd" tone for this profile and put his serious pants on. He's a gifted writer and even more of a gifted thinker. You can read the profile here. It's not a long and complacent essay. In fact, it's a very good read.

Not worthy of its own post here, but in the sports department, the World Extreme Cagefighting held its last event before merging with the UFC. Too bad, this promotion, specialized in small weight classes, always offered the best shows. Anyway, the last show was memorable and the last move ever pulled in the WEC cage was arguably the most spectacular move in the history of the sport. Thanks to Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, the flying-cage-step-kick is not something exclusive to Chuck Norris movies (what's with those Chuck Norris references today?). It's now a reality and it's called the Showtime Kick. You can see it here.

I have watched a very strange (and very short: thirty minutes) documentary about Karla Faye Tucker on Netflix yesterday. It's about how her victim's little brother forgave her because he found Christ. I understand how forgiveness is a Christian concept (it's also cool, but Christianity enforces it with insane rigor), but I don't get how it's supposed to make you feel better. That guy was raised by his sister, she was the very reason why he was alive to talk about her. She got brutally murdered for no apparent reason other than the murderer was high and for some reason, forgiving makes you feel better? Maybe for some, but not for me. The ghost of a benevolent soul that watched over me during my childhood would chase me down way too hard for that.


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Interesting Interview With Jonathan Franzen



I know, it's been a boring week here. A lot of videos and not much of burning-oil-rig intensity rants. I guess I have to allow myself this kind of week if I want to get through 2011 without burning out ten more times. Since I'll be reviewing How To Be Alone tomorrow, here's an interesting interview with J-Franz where he tries to put in words the path that lead him to write Freedom. It translates well how difficult he is as an individual. After reading two of his books, I can already tell you that he's more difficult than his own production.

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Friday's People Thread: Your 2011 Resolutions



2010 is on its way out. Two weeks and we'll have to change the last digit every time we write the date on a document. As the custom wants, people make resolutions before the year start and try to hold on to them throughout the next twelve months. It rarely works, but hey, it's not a bad thing. It gives you goals and a workmanlike perspective to start up the year. I have a trick for that. Usually, my resolutions are my life plans. I just put a deadline on them. I never say I'll do something I didn't think about doing in the first place anyway. There's no records of this, but because of my trick, I must have one of the strongest percentage of held resolutions ever. Here are mine for 2011:

-Finish Solace and start querying. (yeah duh! I know!)

-Sell more work. (Other than getting your name out there and making money, it serves the purpose of training your queries. I have all those essays and shorter stories I want to write. 2011 is about time I do so)

-Be less lazy, professionally. (I put everything into writing in 2010. I never thought that if I'd get a better gig, I might be able to write more!)

-Leave the country more often (I want to take the train to the USA, I got this thing with trains...and go wherever I can....and chalk off another country in my quest for globetrotting. Egypt might be calling).

-Put some boundaries (I want to give my life/work clear schedules so I don't go insane like last September.).

Five's enough for a year. What are yours?


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rob Dougan - Left Me For Dead



OK, I promise this is the last Rob Dougan song I post....for a while. It's a completely different feeling that Left Me For Dead gives. It's the perfect song that end play at the end of a film noir, when the credits roll. It has that feeling of a deadly back alley scuffle. Fuck, I really wish he would make more albums. I asked him on Twitter to do so, but he has yet to answer me.

Rob Dougan - Left Me For Dead

You didn't stop to look round
You were gone before I hit the ground
You went on you're way
And no prayer was said
You left me for dead
You didn't cover my face
I didn't merit a communal grave
You set me aside
And no tears were shed
You left me for dead
And I say I won't stop no 'til hell is your home
There's no where to hide (no nowhere)
You'll feel the cold of my gun at you're head
Ah you left me for dead
And it's not like you stayed by my side or you called me a priest

You searched through my mouth to check for gold teeth
you were pawning my shoes as i bled

You left me for, left me for, left me, for
Dead

You kept on taking your time
Until it was certain i couldn't survive
Judas remained, you turned and fled
You left me for dead
And it didn't trouble your mind
It did not disturb you to see me decline
You turned out my lights
You put me to bed
You left me for dead
(And i say) that I won't rest my head until hell is your home
You'll think that you're safe but oh no
You'll feel the cold of my gun hit your head
Ah you left me for dead
And you didn't stay close to me didn't stay by my side
I was choking in blood as delight filled your eyes
You're gonna burn for each word that you said
Cause you
Left me for, left me for, left me me for
Dead
But I don't want to search no more
There's nowhere to hide
So why don't you come quietly my love
I wanted to say, to say that you sure proved the death of me
Now i've reached a dead end, and i can't go back
But if i'm going down you'll come with me...

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The Place Of Conservatism In Literature



Twilight was on television yesterday. I came back from the gym around 9 PM and caught a part of the second half, mostly in audio as I sat in front of my computer. I won't lie, I'm always inclined to give at least one viewings to movies I'm sure I won't like. Just so I can know exactly what I'm talking about when I'm whining. I like to be well informed better than being happy, I think.

The appallingly bad state of what I saw last night made me think of something. Innovators in fiction are Historically praised. Joyce, Camus and Hemingway formed the face of contemporary fiction. James Ellroy, Dennis Lehane and Chuck Palahniuk re-appropriated noir and re-wired it in order to give it a second life. Innovation is usually good, but it is always? Firearms were an innovation back then and I think it's safe to say the world would be a better place without. Stephanie Meyer is an innovator of her own kind. Her vampires are not violent, bloodthirsty prowlers of the night. Instead, they sparkle, play base-ball and face off with rivals in West Side Story fashion.

Vampires marked the collective unconscious' mind because they are immortal monster that prey on what used to be their own kind. They embody the fear that humans might someday not be on top of the food chain anymore. If they survived over a hundred years since Bram Stoker brought them up, it's because they were done right in the first place. The nature of a vampire is to be menacing, a kind of sexy damnation that Bela Lugosi embodied to perfection. Vampires don't know love and self-loathing, they are powered by a blinding hunger for blood. There are some things that shouldn't change. Vampires have grown to be some rent-a-scare monsters. The greatest fear of mankind is of the unknown, but vampires have been so overused, there's literally a manual made about killing them. In closure, I'll borrow the words of Salman Rushdie, when he referred to Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum: "If Twilight is the new vampire literature, we have to go back, fast"


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A Lesson In Social Networking



If you've been around the bookish blogosphere lately, I'm sure you've heard of Talli Roland. She's a born-Canadian, now U.K based debut YA novelist. She organized what she called a "web splash" for the kindle release of her debut novel The Hating Game on Amazon. It doesn't have much to do with the writing itself, but since mid-November maybe, I couldn't turn around on the blogosphere without hearin of Talli Roland. In terms of D.I.Y marketing, you can't do much better than that.

For months, she crafted relationship with bloggers of different importance, became friends with them and of course, mentioned the upcoming release of The Hating Game ebook, which is available for an obscenely low price on Amazon. On release date, everyone of those bloggers advertised the book and encouraged their readers to buy the novel. She worked herself into being the talk of the town. Result? She got her book in Amazon UK's best selling ebooks list (which I think still is), she created a snowball effect and now, on the verge of her paperback publication, she has already impressive numbers to show. That's the kind of move that gives me faith in humanity. By being cool with people and mostly HONEST (she had a point to get across), Talli Roland put herself in advantageous position for future publishing opportunities.

Now, I haven't read The Hating Game and will probably never read it (and it's cool, I'm just not her target audience), but all of you future unsung Dostoevskys have something to learn about it. The days of Hemingway are over. In the Information Age, literary agencies and publishers are flooded with talented writers' query letters. Most of them will end up being published if they're patient and diligent enough. But being a success doesn't only depend on the quality of your writing anymore. Talli Roland went the extra mile, knocked on hundreds of doors and got her name out there. I'm sure The Hating Game is at least as good as everything else done in YA right now, but I don't know the other YA writers. And I know who Talli Roland is. The fact that she achieved such a feat in a completely ethic way blows my mind.

All the unpublished writers should get a cue from this. I sure will when my time will come. If there's something precious to be learned from YA writers, even if you dislike the genre, is that they know the market and that they don't have as much of an ego. Talli Roland kicked our asses as social networking, but in the trail of her success, she left precious information. If you want to know more about her or buy a copy of The Hating Game, I invite you to go on her blog:

Talli Roland's Blog



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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Zero Punctuation - Splatterhouse



Will the violence of Splatterhouse beat up Yahtzee's violent temper? Who's dad can beat up the other one's dad?

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Analyzing Dancin' Ross



This one never quite got the recognition it deserves. When I show it to people, most of them never saw it before. I've even looked for it on Know Your Meme database and came up empty handed. So this is the original shit you've got right here. I never read it from an original source, but apparently, the story behind this video goes as follows.

Ross and his friends rented a room at this hotel for a LAN party (NERD!). Drunken people from the wedding reception across the hall kept crashing into the room, thinking it was the bathroom or something. The upstanding LAN party nerds got fed up after a while and planned their vengeance. All they needed for that was a video camera and a Batman-t-shirt-wearing nerd that vaguely looks like a young Bobcat Goldthwaite.

Why is it so funny?: Somebody please explain me how the hell Ross came up with such an slick choreography? Not only is he a genuine good dancer, with a sense of timing and smooth transitions, he pulled together the moves with such grace and comical stage presence that Jim Carrey probably wouldn't have danced it better.

There's always been a lot of propaganda made by Hollywood to convince kids that dancing made you more of a badass and a ladies man than any jock contact sport you can ever practice. This video hits the spot more than three seasons of "So You Think You Can Dance?" and two viewings of "Footloose" combined. There are two reasons for that.

1)Ross isn't pathetic. He's bored, mildly annoyed and he's looking for a way to have fun over obnoxious people.

2)Dancing here, is almost unchecked aggression. It's not a "way of self-expression" or "something that saves Ross' life". No, he dances to crash a party as hard as he can. There's a poetic justice to it, but it's devoid of underdog storyline. You don't need to get your head flushed down the toilet bowl to be an aggressor.

Oh yeah and have you noticed how the floor was empty? He probably scared everybody away with his boogeyman skills.

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