Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Time for cheer

Via I Am Bored.
If California and New York State were businesses, they'd be going bankrupt. If you're among the nearly 20 percent of Americans who live or work in these two states, the fiscal crisis is coming home for the holidays. And the worst is still on its way.
-First paragraph of John Avlon's "What if New York goes bust?"

I am not keen on the "forget about the auto industry, journalists have the real trouble" argument, but I wish we could still afford to make heroin jokes this year.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Paris Is Burning

Image via The New York Times.

The Times recently published a tribute to Ball culture at Club Remix. This was especially a tribute to Willi Ninja, who made voguing look so good even Madonna was in. (Watch his SHOULDERS in this video. The man is incredible.)

We watched Paris is Burning, the documentary of the Ball scene. This was my parents' New York: the mid-eighties, gay culture influencing everything trendy and exciting and getting remarkably little credit for it.

Now Willi Ninja's successor Benny Ninja is featured on America's Next Top Model, training girls like Isis to strike a pose.

It's not a perfect world - certainly the documentary hits issues that are alarmingly resonant in 2008, and the ending is deeply sad. But the fact that the people who were playing dream roles in underground clubs are on television strutting their stuff - well, TV isn't the be-all, end-all, but it's publicly viewed and accepted. And modern choreographers, dancers, actors, etc. are more likely to be open about their sexuality, without fear of ruining their careers (I hope). It's not as much progress as I wish we'd had in the twenty years since this documentary was released (the homeless man on my subway tonight still used the words "the virus" to describe his condition), but it's something.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just try to catch him

Image via Mahalo.

Best place to watch the Giants online:

So thrilled about that game. Derrick Ward had 215 yards on 15 carries! And Jacobs was back.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Now in 3D

Image via Lifehacker and Gizmodo.

Check out the new intensely detailed images of New York on Google Earth.

Netbooks aren't new

...but they're catching on.

Drawing from 1972.

Gruber links to Dave Winer, both responding to the question, "Are netbooks something new?"

I would say no. Netbooks are just a new word for an old concept. As my boss pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Alan Kay invented the concept of a dynabook in 1968. This is, on a very basic level, a small computer that is quick enough to run what you want it to run. The laptop must have been a response to this concept, and those little Mac Powerbooks, and the PC tablet. The iPhone is perhaps the most advanced of any of these, but we won't count it since it is pocket-sized and there is no keyboard (other than the touch screen). Something that is small, light, has decent memory (if you can find that - Gruber makes a fair point against Vista on such a small machine), and costs $400 to $600, you might have something marketable.

Is this "the first Dynabook-like computer good enough to criticize?" No, but it'll take some heat anyway.

Ordinary polar bears

"My life is pretty ordinary," said Tracy Day, 47, wearing a bikini and clutching a Thermos of peppermint schnapps. "I've worked for the Social Security Administration for 26 years. I ride the bus five days a week. I come home and watch TV."

Then the Green Lake resident saw the polar poetry event on Craigslist. "I said, 'It's time to create.' "

The Seattle Times covers the Polar Bear Poetry Club. (via Silliman's blog)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There's a bear in there

Image via Said the Gramophone.

We always talk about how websites serve as places (you go to them and from them, you arrive somewhere and you interact with others employing certain terms and social codes). It makes sense that writers go to great lengths to make them homey.

There are lots of chairs around blogs these days. Take a seat, make yourself comfortable. We've got Wright, natural crystal, or bear.


Elbow-Toe has an opening tonight in L.A. C-MONSTER posted "Carleton Arms" this morning - lovely.

I realize I've been posting more beautiful pictures these past few weeks than stories about publishing. I hope that's not too bothersome. This industry is gruesome at the moment; when we finally have our hands on a copy of How To Talk To Girls, or the economy improves, maybe the publishing angle for blogs will be rejuvenated.

I'd like to post a little bit about each of the books I read this year. It's nice to put together a list so none of them is forgotten. If you've done the same, please leave me a little comment - I'd love to read what you're reading.

Bicycle bell watch

Currently I'm taken with Poor Life, who designed all of those lovely clothespins that were popping up on blogs last week.

Things that make you wonder

Art made from money. Some very nice paper hats for our presidents and others'.

The Explainer posts many questions they did not answer in 2008. A few favorites:

"Could you please explain why it is that squirrels are capable of such amazing athletic feats? What is it about their brains and, to a lesser degree, their bodies that allows it? I watch them at my house and have seen some amazing things."

"It is a common baseball prank to give someone a cream pie in the face during a TV interview. Where do these cream pies come from? Do baseball teams keep cream pies in the dugout?"

"My toaster identifies which of the two slots should be used for making a single slice of toast. Why does it make a difference which slot I use?"

The New York Public Library is on Flickr (via C-MONSTER). Flickr is getting some serious institutional action these days. Here's Ruth St. Denis in Yosemite Valley.

Time to hook up the holiday microwaves

I am still enamored of this video from AKQA (via SwissMiss and others).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two things we learned on the internet today

Photo via The How Zone.

1) "In a situation in which part of the troposphere is very near or just above freezing, the snowflake will partially melt. This produces a liquid film on the snowflake. This makes it much easier for snowflakes to stick together. Thus, it is liquid water that is the "glue" to producing large snowflakes and snow that is easy to make snowballs with. While a dry heavy snow tends to have a huge amount of small snowflakes, a heavy wet snow tends to have a smaller number of snowflakes but the individual snowflakes are large." (The Weather Prediction)

2) The four founding Warner brothers (born Wanskolaser) are named Harry (born Hirsz), Albert (born Aaron), Sam (Szmul) and Jack (born Itzhak), Jews who emigrated from Poland, Russian Empire to Ontario, Canada. (Wikipedia)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Play with the Life photo archive

Go make yourself a fake book cover.

Even the critics are stumped

Earlier this fall, I saw John Ashbery read at the 92nd Street Y.

I wish I'd read this piece by Meghan O'Rourke first.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Journalists can live off the land this winter

Here's how:

[This video refuses to embed, no matter how much I sweet-talk it. I admit defeat.]

Interview tips for lion-tamers

And other people, too.

(If they ask, "Do you have any qualifications?" just say, "Yes, I have a hat.")

Scared of Santa

What a brilliant idea for a photo collection online. And timely, too. (via Gothamist) [A note: this may be one of the trashiest things I've posted on the blog.]

One more Post-It

Via Language Log. I took on their challenge of finding an example of "will have been being" in a reasonable context, but all I found was a rather dirty nonsense poem.

On a sad note

All the best to Alex after the loss of his dog. She looks so lovely on camera and in photos.

From his archives:
The body is a language sculpture. It is a thing built from a circular story - the double helix code that tells a stomach to be a stomach, the liver a liver, the brain a brain and the heart to be a heart. When the grammar of that language breaks down and the body starts to babble to itself, the body grows in chaotic, nonsensical ways. That is what cancer is.

The media of the recession

Post-Its by Marc Johns. (via My Love For You Is A Stampede of Horses)

Clockwork Atomics x302 by Scott Wilson. (via C-MONSTER)

Perfectly spectacular uses of scrap paper.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

To Eyeballs

This is a really good girlfriend. (via SwissMiss)

Since I chose the picture of lots of eyes, I figured I'd show you this, too (video by ENESS, via CoolHunting):

Always seemed fishy to me.

"Ghoti" is a Klingon joke.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another gossipy article that's a vaguely interesting topic of conversation

“It‘s hard for me to imagine a big corporation that’s not already involved in books wanting to buy a publishing company now,” said Laura Owen, who spent a year working at independently owned Skyhorse Publishing after graduating from Harvard in 2006 and currently serves as the editor of the monthly trade newsletter Publishing Trends. “I mean, it’s funny. There must have been something that was more appealing about it then.”

An article from The Observer about moguls in the publishing business. A few nice quotations in there from Lindy (she's right; we rarely spoke of Perkins during the course - we were more anxious to meet new editors who were doing excellent work).

It is hard to make a blockbusting book. You can put a great cover on a vampire novel and market it well and get a couple of movie deals out of it if you're a very smart company. But buying a small collection of short stories from a new literary fiction writer isn't going to please your investors.

On a related note: MobyLives pointed out last week that a publisher inadvertently differentiated between fiction and literary fiction (via Three Percent). Today in a rough interview on Bookslut, Cynthia Ozick differentiates between culture and high culture. How big is the gap between these two? If you specify that fiction and literary fiction are different demographics, does that make you a snob?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A tall order

Christoph Niemann has a perfectly adorable collection of napkin illustrations chronicling his relationship with coffee. (via SwissMiss)

Can you find the artist?

Just found Todd Selby's portraits - writers, artists, editors, film directors, fashion designers, multitaskers, ice cream truck drivers, all photographed in their homes or offices. Really strange and really vibrant. (via SwissMiss)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let the music wash over you

Sara the Walrus can play the saxophone. And she claps! Thank you, Telegraph (and thank you, Dan). For one minute and two seconds, I absolutely did not need a job.

Black Wednesday

Yet again, we're on the cutting edge of things at our company: we're all unemployed, at least for now. Guess who else is? The publisher of Houghton Mifflin, 10% of Thomas Nelson, much of Simon & Schuster and Random House, according to Editorial Ass (also on Andrew Wheeler's blog, via GwendaBond). Maud Newton elaborates.

Even my coworker wrote about it. Gosh, we are so trendy. But we knew we might be laid off well before the economy crashed. That's what you have to do when you work in Williamsburg: be way ahead of the trends, and act pouty and pissed when you become a trendsetter. Or when you become homeless.

You can almost hear it

I've been spending a lot of time at IT IN place. This is a piece I found in Alex's archives. Check out his blog here.

Video from 4th Estate

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

(Thanks, Gene.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thousand Miles Crane

1000 Miles Crane from Alex Itin on Vimeo.

When I'm being pulled in a lot of directions, I like to be in motion. Cars, subways, planes, whatever. When I can't move, time lapses are a decent substitute. I watched this one by Alex Itin without sound and felt a little better.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Let's go clubbing

Photo via The Gothamist.

I don't know why we're not going out more. We could be hanging out with Plaxico Burress and this angry girl. I just hope Bloomberg doesn't shake his head and say we're bad citizens.

Fey has her cake, eats it too, before Annie Leibowitz photoshoot

Photo from Flickr, by Tracey Gessner.

The Tina Fey interview is as bland as a grocery store cupcake with a photo sprayed on it, except for one section:
Her true vice is cupcakes.

Beyond Helvetica

Everything you ever wanted to know about subway fonts.