Wednesday, March 29, 2006

That's what I get for trying to talk about politics

Yeah, that whole "let's replace government entitlement programs with cash" thing? There's a big conversation on it going on over at Snarkmarket.

Sure, sure, Matt gives you twenty times the background I do, and they talk about politics and social policy far more often than I do, and they have a far more substantial readership than I do. . .

Oh, hell. No more politics for me. Books and lit mags may be a small corner of the world, but it's mine, dammit.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Holy crap

Do my eyes decieve me, or is an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal actually calling for a mass redistribution of wealth to replace our current welfare system? (Thanks to A&L Daily)

Sure, there would need to be some serious discussion of what drastically reduced social safety net should remain, but isn't something like this what we lefties have been looking for in our deepest, most socialistic dreams?

I'm still in a bit of shock. Someone point out the problems with this idea and bring me back to reality. I dare you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Responsible Reader: a long overdue and woefully unworthy follow-up

I'm always on the lookout for interesting and inspiring small literary magazines, and a new one has just caught my eye, thanks to Slate: The Virginia Quarterly Review.

(Click here for VQR's website.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Only a bibliophile may care, but. . .

The New York Times has a interesting piece today about the increasing presence of the paperback original in the world of literary fiction.

I have mixed feelings on the trend. I'm in favor of anything that helps good writing find its audience, but I have to admit that there are few things as appealing as a well-made hardcover. (Hell, I even hate those "deluxe paperbacks" whose covers are made in an imitation of a hardcover dustjacket. It seems like a waste of paper, and even more annoying, I've found that they're more prone than most regular paperback covers to curling as they age or when exposed to humidity.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cartoons and noise

One of my favorite recent cartoons is Samurai Jack, an action-based cartoon put together by the guy who created Dexter's Laboratory and the recent Star Wars "Clone Wars" cartoons. One of the striking features of Samurai Jack, especially in the 90-minute premiere feature, is the long streches of entirely dialog-free action. Jack experimented freely with both various stylized drawing styles and the use of sound and musical soundtrack.

This stands in strking contrast to the recent popular celebrity-voice-driven animated features like Shrek, Madagascar, and plenty of others where the philosophy seems to be that the closer the animated face and personality is to the voice behind it, the better. (This is perhaps exemplified nowhere better than in Shark Tale, where a great deal of effort was made not only to infuse the performance of the voice actor into the characters' gestures and expressions, but to make the fish characters resemble the voice actors as much as possible.)

What prompted this line of thought? Why, an article in the New York Times, of course.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

River reveries

Well, uhm, I haven't really had any serious thoughts lately. I have gotten a lot of reading done, strangely enough. I'm at seven books for the year so far, which already beats all of 2005.

I've also been digging through the archives of Red Cedar Review, the undergraduate-run literary magazine of Michigan State University's English department. I've discovered a handful of surprising things, possibly none so surprising as the fact that I was able to construct what I believe to be a near-complete chronology of the magazine's publication. (If anyone has a copy of volumes 1, 2, or 3 that they'd be willing to part with, please, please, please let me know.) For those of you who are interested, that chronology (with a couple of notes) is as follows:

Vol. 1:1—Spring 1963, Walter Lockwood, ed.
Vol. 2:1—Spring 1964, James Cash, ed.
Vol. 3:1—Spring 1965, Fred Piet, ed.
Vol. 4:1—Spring 1966, Peggy Case, ed.
Vol. 5:1—January 1967, Peggy Case, ed.
Vol. 5:2—April 1967, Peggy Case, ed.
Vol. 6:1—January 1968, Peggy Case, ed.
Vol. 6:2—May 1968, Craig Sterry, ed.
Vol. 6:3—September 1968, Peggy Case, ed.
Vol. 6:4—December 1968, Peggy Case, ed.
Vol. 7:1—May 1969, Peggy Case and James Tipton, eds.
Vol. 7:2—July 1970, Richard Jansma and Howard Shapiro, eds.
Vol. 7:3/4—July 1971, Alan VerPlanck, ed.
Vol. 8:1—April 1972, Alan VerPlanck, ed.
Vol. 8:2/3—Fall/winter 1973, Dennis Pace, ed.
Vol. 9:1—Spring 1974, Dennis Pace, ed.
Vol. 9:2—March 1975, Neal Villhauer, ed.
Vol. 9:3—May 1975, Patricia Polach, ed.
Vol. 10:1—1976, The Postcard Mysteries by Albert Drake
Vol. 10:2/3—1976
Vol. 11:1—January 1977, Michael Tanimura, ed.
Vol. 11:2—May 1977, Randall K. Roorda, ed.
Vol. 12:1—1978, Love at the Egyptian Theater, Poems by Barbara Drake.
Vol. 12:2—June 1978, Sam Mills, ed.
Vol. 13:1—Spring 1979
Vol. 13:2—(1980?)
Vol. 14:1—Spring 1981
Vol. 14:2—1982
Vol. 15:1—1982
Vol. 15:2—1983
Vol. 16:1/2—Spring 1984
Vol. 17:1/2—Spring 1985, Kathy Crown, ed.
Vol 18:1—Spring 1986
Vol. 18:2—Winter 1986, Anne Marie Carey, ed.
Vol. 19:1—Summer 1987, Anne Marie Carey, ed.
Vol. 19:2—Winter 1988, Carol Bracewall, ed.
Vol. 25:1—Spring 1988, Carol Bracewall, ed.
Vol. 26:1—Spring 1989
Vol. 27:1—(1990?) Frank Rossman, ed.
Vol. 28:1—Fall 1991, David Bivins, ed.
Vol. 29:1—1992 – 1993, Jackie Justice, ed.
Vol. 29:2—1993, Jackie Justice, ed.
Vol. 30:1—1993, Zachary Chartkoff and Laura L. Klynstra, eds.
Vol. 30:2—May 1994, Laura Klynstra and Erin McCarty, eds.
Vol. 31:1—March 1995, Tom Bissell and Laura L. Klynstra, eds.
Vol. 32:1—1996, Tom Bissell and Laura Klynstra, eds.
Vol. 33:1—1997, Tom Bissell and Laura Klynstra, eds.
Vol. 34:1—Winter/spring 1998, Carrie Preston and David Sheridan, eds.
Vol. 34:2—Fall/winter 1998, Ari Kohen and Carrie Preston, eds.
Vol. 35:1—Summer/fall 1999, Ari Kohen and Carrie Preston, eds.
Vol. 35:2—Winter/spring 2000, Carrie Preston, ed.
Vol. 36:1—Winter 2001, Doug Dowland, ed.
Vol. 37:1—Winter 2002, Meg Sparling, ed.
Vol. 38—2003, Meg Sparling, ed. MSU Press
Vol. 39—2004, Laura Tisdel, ed. MSU Press
Vol. 40—2005, Jennifer Popa, Teal Amthor-Shaffer, Jon Spielburg, eds. MSU Press


  1. Vol. 7:1 is printed as "vol. 6:1." My numbering is based on publication date.
  2. Pablo Neruda and Margaret Atwood published in vol. 7:1.
  3. Vol. 7:2 is printed as "vol. 7:1." My numbering is based on publication date and the numbering of the July 1971 issue as "7:3/4," which seems to count May 1969 as 7:1 and July 1970 as 7:2.
  4. Stuart Dybek published in vol. 7:2. Biographical note reads: "STUART DYBEK is unknown to us."
  5. Jim Harrison published in vol. 8:2/3.
  6. Vol. 9:1 consists of ten posters in a manila envelope.
  7. Billboard issue likely appeared in 1974 following vol. 9:1
  8. "The Post Card Mysteries is a special publication of Red Cedar Review and represents Volume 10, Issue #1 of that magazine. It was edited by James Kalmbach, designed by Dennis Pace, and illustrated by Gene Stotts. The book is part of our continuing experimentation with new forms for the small press magazine that has led us in the past to place an issue on a billboard over Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, and a small homage to Al Drake whose energy sustained RCR through many issues and changes in personnel until his resignation as advisor two years ago. Beginning with Volume 10 Issue 2/3 we will return to our regular magazine format."
  9. Vol. 10:2/3 is the first perfect-bound issue.
  10. Jim Daniels published in vol. 11:2.
  11. Vol. 12:1 introduction by Diane Wakoski.
  12. Allen Ginsberg interview in vol. 17:1/2.
  13. In spring 1988 numbering jumps from vol. 19:2 to vol 25:1 to mark 25th anniversary. Vol. 25:1 is fold-and-staple binding, and contains notes on RCR history by Albert Drake, Jim Cash, Peter Nye, Etta Abrahams, Maury Crane, and Walter Lockwood.
  14. Vol. 26:1 numbering based on date and numbering of subsequent volumes. The volume itself contains no printed volume number.
  15. Vol. 27:1 numbering based on likely date and numbering of subsequent volumes. The volume itself contains no printed volume number or date.
  16. Steve Almond published in vol. 33.
  17. Vol. 37:1 is printed as "vol. 37:2."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Don't know much

I'm sure I don't need to be the one to tell you that there's a lot of heavy shit going down in the world right now. I don't know what to do about Iran's nuclear program, or Sunni/Shi'ite violence in Iraq, or Muslim/Hindu violence in India, or South Dakota outlawing abortion in a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

But I do know what makes Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme so good. It's the nacho cheese, baby. Aw yeah.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Hooray for Hollywood. . .

The Oscars, of course, were last night. I was excited to see Philip Seymour Hoffman win best actor.

My favorite moment, however, was watching Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock fail to conceal their apparent contempt for each other when reunited as presenters. I could almost hear their thoughts: "What kind of a loser comes back for Speed 2?" "Yeah, well, I'm an Executive Producer as well as a star now, Ted."