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The latest books and literature reviews, comment, features and interviews, with extracts from famous texts and neglected gems.

James Joyce crayon marked manuscripts for Ulysses and Finnegans Wake

ulysses-manuscript joyce crayon

James Joyce crayon marks on his manuscript for ulysses

 

James Joyce wrote Finnegans Wake “lying on his stomach in bed, with a large blue pencil, clad in a white coat, and composed most of Finnegans Wake with crayon pieces on cardboard,” says Maria Popova. “The large crayons… helped him see what he was writing, and the white coat helped reflect more light onto the page at night.”

His obituary in the NYTimes noted:

While living in Zurich Joyce began to suffer from severe ocular illness and eventually underwent at least ten operations on his eyes. For years he was almost totally blind and much of his later writing was done with red crayon on huge white sheets of paper.

 

joyce_ulysses crayon

 

crayon james_joyce

 

“Joyce used a different colored crayon each time he went through a notebook incorporating notes into his draft,” adds Derek Attridge in a review of The Finnegans Wake Notebooks at BuffaloThe crayons were “a scrupulousness which has never been satisfactorily explained”.

And steeped in deep meaning, of course, Unlkess the witer was a great meketeer. As he said: “I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant – and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.”

Spotter: Flashbak, Open Culture

Posted: 26th, June 2018 | In: Books | Comment


Philip Roth RIP – with replies by John Updike, The Atlantic and Wikipedia

Philip Roth, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1998, has died. He was 85.  Claudia Roth Pierpont said his books looked at “the Jewish family, sex, American ideals, the betrayal of American ideals, political zealotry, personal identity [and] the human body (usually male) in its strength, its frailty, and its often ridiculous need.” And, boy, was he funny.

In 1996 Roth reacted to Claire Bloom’s memoir Leaving a Doll’s House. The actress commented at length on her and Roth’s marriage. “He’s tense; she’s tense,” said Gore Vidal said. “Each is neurotic. They were together 17 years; it couldn’t have been all that bad. It’s always best to stay out of other people’s divorces. And their civil wars.”

The book was trailed thus in the NY Times:

Ms. Bloom was 47 when she began her romance with Mr. Roth. In the memoir, the opening scene of their relationship reads like a parody of the daily life of two cultivated New Yorkers, with Mr. Roth on his way to his psychoanalyst, and Ms. Bloom on her way to her yoga class….

 

But soon there were signs of trouble. Mr. Roth was suspicious and mistrustful, she said, and pressed her to send her daughter elsewhere. In the memoir, Ms. Bloom expresses guilt for having done so. But the real problems began when Mr. Roth had a knee operation, she said, and became addicted to sleeping pills and an anti-anxiety drug. She writes that a terrible depression ensued, and that the couple took refuge on Martha’s Vineyard in the home of their friend William Styron, who has written a moving book about his own depression.

Later, when Mr. Roth wrote ”Deception,” he named the character of the deceived wife ”Claire,” Ms. Bloom writes, changing it only after she begged him to do so. Still, as if teasing his readers, Mr. Roth reserved the name of ”Philip” for the book’s narrator.

In 1999,  when the book came up in a John Updike essay about literary biography in The New York Review of Books, Roth wrote to the Editors:

To the Editors:

In your February 4, 1999, issue, John Updike, commenting on Claire Bloom’s 1996 memoir Leaving the Doll’s House, writes: “Claire Bloom, as the wronged ex-wife of Philip Roth, shows him to have been, as their marriage rapidly unraveled, neurasthenic to the point of hospitalization, adulterous, callously selfish, and financially vindictive.” Allow me to imagine a slight revision of this sentence: “Claire Bloom, presenting herself as the wronged ex-wife of Philip Roth, alleges him to have been neurasthenic to the point of hospitalization, adulterous, callously selfish, and financially vindictive.” Written thus, the sentence would have had the neutral tone that Mr. Updike is careful to maintain elsewhere in this essay on literary biography when he is addressing Paul Theroux’s characterization of V.S. Naipaul and Joyce Maynard’s characterization of J.D. Salinger. Would that he had maintained that neutral tone in my case as well.

Over the past three years I have become accustomed to finding Miss Bloom’s characterization of me taken at face value. One Sara Nelson, reviewing my novel American Pastoral, digressed long enough to write: “In her memoir, Leaving the Doll’s House, Roth’s ex, Claire Bloom, outed the author as a verbally abusive neurotic, a womanizer, a venal nutcase. Do we believe her? Pretty much:Roth is, after all, the guy who glamorized sex-with-liver in Portnoy’s Complaint.” Mr. Updike offers the same bill of particulars (“neurasthenic…, adulterous, callously selfish, and financially vindictive”) as does Ms. Nelson (“neurotic, a womanizer, a venal nutcase”). Like her, he adduces no evidence other than Miss Bloom’s book. But while I might ignore her in an obscure review on the World Wide Web, I cannot ignore him in a lead essay in The New York Review of Books.

Philip Roth
Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut

John Updike reply was slo printed in the magazine:

Mr. Roth’s imagined revisions sound fine to me, but my own wording conveys, I think, the same sense of one-sided allegations.

In 2012, Roth had more words for the World Wie Web. He wrote an open letter to persuade Wikipedia to let him adjust inaccurate description of his novel The Human Stain. Wikipedia refused to accept him as a credible source.

Dear Wikipedia,

I am Philip Roth. I had reason recently to read for the first time the Wikipedia entry discussing my novel “The Human Stain.” The entry contains a serious misstatement that I would like to ask to have removed. This item entered Wikipedia not from the world of truthfulness but from the babble of literary gossip—there is no truth in it at all.

Yet when, through an official interlocutor, I recently petitioned Wikipedia to delete this misstatement, along with two others, my interlocutor was told by the “English Wikipedia Administrator”—in a letter dated August 25th and addressed to my interlocutor—that I, Roth, was not a credible source: “I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work,” writes the Wikipedia Administrator—“but we require secondary sources.”

Also in 2012, Roth wrote to the The Atlantic over an essay’s claims that he suffered “a ‘crack-up’ in his mid-50s”.

“The statement is not true nor is there reliable biographical evidence to support it,” wrote Roth at the time. “After knee surgery in March 1987, when I was 54, I was prescribed the sleeping pill Halcion, a sedative hypnotic in the benzodiazepine class of medications that can induce a debilitating cluster of adverse effects … My own adverse reaction to Halcion … started when I began taking the drug and resolved promptly when, with the helpful intervention of my family doctor, I stopped.”

The letters have stopped. But the books remain brilliant.

Spotter: Dangerous Minds, NYRoB

 

Posted: 23rd, May 2018 | In: Books, Celebrities, News | Comment


Mertesacker outlines his Arsenal vision

Per Mertesacker, Arsenal’s new academy manager, is the German known as the ‘BFG’. He’s written a book. In it he advocates yoga and using both eyes.

…I was a big fan of yoga from the beginning because I had seen that it improved stability and flexibility.

Even at the age of 33 I was one of the most flexible at Arsenal when it came to my back muscles. Hardly anyone came to the yoga sessions that the club offered. Often there were only four of us: Héctor Bellerín, Nacho Monreal and Tomas Rosicky.

The youth players who were promoted to the first team smiled at these exercises. They thought we were meditating. They were happy with the ball at their feet but for everything else there was a lack of desire. “I play football and go to training. That’s enough.”

But no, it isn’t enough when you want to maintain a certain level for a long time or want to improve.

Either you are learning from scratch, from your parents and the teachers and coaches around you, to take responsibility, or you don’t do it at all. This is the kind of dumbing down we must fight against.

The well-rounded Per:

When I injured myself against Sunderland [in the 2011-12 season] I started working with Lars Lienhard. A former athlete, he is a sports scientist as well as a pioneer when it comes to neurally controlled training.

Working with him was a huge success. We always assume that we can run and see properly because nothing hurts. But that is a mistake. Lars showed me that our eyes are a big factor in everything, above all when it comes to our timing.

On my right side my timing was super but I had the feeling my left eye was not really up for it. Why was that? And was it possible to train and improve [the left eye] so that I didn’t have to turn my whole body in order to look left? It all meant that in 50% of the times the ball came towards me my brain said: “Hey, I can’t really see that ball so I’m not going to jump for it.”

And as my left eye was not really looking at the ball I was always twisting my neck to use my dominant right eye.

Football doesn’t really deal with those things, despite the fact they can be decisive. Players would rather lift weights, stand on their own with their dumbbells – but how does that help me on the pitch?

During the exercises with Lars one could see quite clearly that my eyes were moving differently when an object was approaching me. My left eye always remained in the middle rather than focusing on the object.

He showed me how to make my left eye stronger. I had a patch on my right eye, forcing my left eye to focus on the objects. And after a few weeks I could really notice the difference in games. If there was a high ball from the left I had a much better feeling for where it would end up.

With Lars’s help I stayed injury-free for four and a half years. Meeting him changed my life as a footballer.

 

The important thing was to do exercises myself before games as well to adjust the eyes. One example was a kind of push-up for the eyes. You bring a pencil in towards your nose and force your eyes towards the middle. When you do that at the training ground a lot of people think: “What is he doing now? Is he completely stupid?”

Mainly I was doing it at home or in the hotel room. I had six or seven exercises that I did, sometimes just before kick-off in the dressing room. I didn’t care what the others thought or if they laughed. But you saw again that something new, something unknown, led to laughter rather than people asking: “What are you doing there?”

The Idlers:

Footballers are used to working only three hours a day. And out of the three hours they are at the training ground they are on their mobiles for half of that.

We have all the money in the world but do not realise how important the body is. A player on average has a seven‑year professional career, 10-15 if everything goes right. You have to do everything possible to be at your maximum.

Weltmeister ohne Talent by Per Mertesacker. Via: Guardian.

Posted: 19th, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Books, Sports | Comment


Action comics Number 1 yours for a bargain $300,001

To the attic in search of a pristine copy of Action Comics #1 (1938). It’s the magazine in which Superman appeared for the first time. On the Heritage Auction website, the top bid sits at an impressive $300k. The auction house hopes the bid will soar to double that figure at its Comics & Comic Art Auction May 10-12 in Chicago:

 

Action Comics #1 

 

Form the auction house:

“This auction has a chance to be among the largest comics auctions of all time, if not the largest,” Heritage Auctions Comics Director of Operations Barry Sandoval said. “It will be in a vibrant city that is easy to reach from just about anywhere, and we have an extremely strong collection of valuable comic books that will draw the attention and interest of comics collectors from just about everywhere.”

Action Comics #1 (DC, 1938) CGC VG 4.0 Cream to off-white pages(est. $650,000+) is among the most coveted comic books in the hobby. The issue generates major interest regardless of its condition, and this is one of the highest-graded copies ever offered by Heritage Auctions. Ernst Gerber’s The Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books rated it “scarce,” and CGC’s census lists just 40 unrestored copies. The first appearance of Superman launched the Golden Age of Comics, and every superhero that followed is in debt to the character created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster (artist). The issue also sits atop Overstreet’s “Top 100 Golden Age Comics” list.

 

http://www.anorak.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Action-Comics-1-.jpeg

 

In 2014, a mint-condition of Action Comics No. 1 sold for a record $3,207,852  in an auction on eBay.

Spotter: Boing Boing, Flashbak

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Books, Money, News | Comment


Andrea Dunbar: ghastly review of Rita Sue And Bob Too warps the story to support the narrative

In the Sunday Times, a theatre review of Andre Dunbar’s excellent 1982 play Rita, Sue and Bob Too, currently showing at London’s Royal Court. It was made into a film in 1987. Readers are told:

 

Rita, Sue and Bob Too is a prickly, thought-provoking and sometimes hilarious little period piece, but there is one huge elephant in the theatre. No one, surely, can watch a piece about underage schoolgirls being groomed for sex in Bradford and not think of more recent scandals. Perhaps the most sickening thing is how innocent Rita and Sue’s experiences seem compared to those of young girls in Bradford and Keighley over the past few years: girls as young as 12, drugged into a stupor, raped by five men or more at once, abortions at 13 and many worse details. Such things leave deep scars and lifelong trauma.

Andrea Dunbar drank herself to death in 1990, at the age of 29.

Tosh then. Dunbar’s play is better than some moralising guff. Much better. Dunbar (22 May 1961 – 20 December 1990) died from a brain haemorrhage.

Spotter: Mic Wright. For further reading on Dunbar, this is a better start.

 

Posted: 16th, January 2018 | In: Books, Broadsheets | Comment


Fire and Fury: Michael Wolfe’s Donald Trump expose is available as a pop-up book

“I’ve made a pop-up easy reader version of Fire and Fury so Donald can see what all the fuss is about,” tweets Happy Toast. The book, by Michael Wolfe, is making waves, accusing Donald Trump of not wanting to become president and being a doofus.

 

 

Spotter: @IamHappyToast

Posted: 6th, January 2018 | In: Books, Politicians, The Consumer | Comment


William Gass and his hates (July 30, 1924 – December 6, 2017 )

the tunnel william gass hate

 

William Gass (July 30, 1924 – December 6, 2017 ) has words to the wise, telling the Paris Review in 1976

“If someone asks me, ‘Why do you write?’ I can reply by pointing out that it is a very dumb question. Nevertheless, there is an answer. I write because I hate. A lot. Hard. And if someone asks me the inevitable next dumb question, ‘Why do you write the way you do?’ I must answer that I wish to make my hatred acceptable because my hatred is much of me, if not the best part. Writing is a way of making the writer acceptable to the world—every cheap, dumb, nasty thought, every despicable desire, every noble sentiment, every expensive taste.”

Hate has been criminalised. Hate crime. Hate speech. Haters. Hate is bad in the therapeutic age of conformity.

Posted: 9th, December 2017 | In: Books | Comment


The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump: Ode to 45

The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump

 

Donald Trump’s poetry is composite blend of Tweets, speeches and interviews  edited by Rob Sears, who notes the “little known alternative fact that the 45th President, Donald J. Trump, has long been a remarkable poet.”
The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump considers Trump “a modern-day Basho or Larkin” with smaller hands.

The greatest misapprehension about DJT corrected by this volume, however, may be the idea that he sees money and power as ends in themselves. In fact, just as Wilfred Owen turned his wartime experiences into poetry, and Slyvia Plath found the dark beauty in her own depression, Trump is able to transform his unique experiences of being a winner into 24-karat verse. He didn’t build a huge real-estate empire for the billions; he did it so he could write poems…

Highlights:

I won!

Well, we’ve had some disasters, but this is the worst

Bad hombres

I’ve known some bad dudes
I’ve been at parties
They want to do serious harm
I’ve seen and I’ve watched things like with guns
I know a lot of tough guys but they’re not smart
We’re dealing with people like animals

But they are the folks I like the best—by far!

I am the least racist person there is

I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks
I remained strong for Tiger Woods during his difficult
period
Oprah, I love Oprah. Oprah would always be my first choice
Kanye West—I love him
I think Eminem is fantastic, and most people think I
wouldn’t like Eminem
And did you know my name is in more black songs than any
other name in hip-hop?
You are the racist, not I

I respect women, I love women, I cherish women

Vagina is expensive
No more apologies—take the offensive!

Hot little girl in high school

I’m a very compassionate person (with a very high IQ)
Just think, in a couple of years I’ll be dating you
It must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees
Come here, I’ll show how life works. Please.

We’ve got to stop the stupid

You know what uranium is, right?
It’s a thing called nuclear weapons and other things like lots
of things that are done with uranium including some bad
things
I have to explain this to these people, they don’t even understand basic
physics, basic mathematics, whatever you call it
I mean, they’re like stupid

Look at the way I’ve been treated lately

I should have been TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year
Just like I should have gotten the Emmy for The Apprentice
I should have easily won the Trump University case
I should have won New York state but I didn’t
I unfairly get audited by the I.R.S. almost every
single year
No politician in history—and I say this with great surety—
has been treated worse or more unfairly

Spotter: The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump , Dangerous Minds

Posted: 13th, November 2017 | In: Books, Politicians | Comment


Peter Dahmen’s stunning pop-up books

 

Pop-up books done well are gorgeous. So here’s a peeks at the work of Peter Dahmen and his video Most Satisfying Video of Pop-Up Cards.

 

 

Spotter: The Kid Should See This

Posted: 26th, October 2017 | In: Books, Gifs, The Consumer | Comment


A flame-activated edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

 

The Anne Petronille Nypels Lab at Holland’s Van Eyck Academie showcases the work of French graphic design collective Super Terrain. They’ve created a version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in heat sensitive ink. At room temperature the book’s text is secreted under a layer of black substance. Heat it up and the words are revealed.

 

Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451

 

Spotter: Open Culture, Flashbak

 

Posted: 22nd, October 2017 | In: Books, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


KLF issue instructions for getting your book signed

If you want the KLF to sign your book, you’ll need to obey their rules.

 

Posted: 23rd, August 2017 | In: Books, Celebrities, Music, The Consumer | Comment


Children’s book confuses readers with 5 bananas graphic

fail 5 bananas book

 

“I imagine a child learning to count from this book and then just being incredibly confused for the rest of their life,” writes GooseHerder on Reddit.

 

Posted: 10th, August 2017 | In: Books, Strange But True | Comment


Stephen King’s recipe for successful writing

Stephen King In On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft addresses the importance of a good night’s sleep and become a better writer:

Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream. Your schedule — in at about the same time every day, out when your thousand words are on paper or disk — exists in order to habituate yourself, to make yourself ready to dream just as you make yourself ready to sleep by going to bed at roughly the same time each night and following the same ritual as you go.

In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. And as your mind and body grow accustomed to a certain amount of sleep each night — six hours, seven, maybe the recommended eight — so can you train your waking mind to sleep creatively and work out the vividly imagined waking dreams which are successful works of fiction.

How do you achieve wakeful dreams?

The space can be humble … and it really needs only one thing: A door you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world that you mean business. . . .

If possible, there should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall. For any writer, but for the beginning writer in particular, it’s wise to eliminate every possible distraction. If you continue to write, you will begin to filter out these distractions naturally, but at the start it’s best to try and take care of them before you write. … When you write, you want to get rid of the world, don’t you? Of course you do. When you’re writing, you’re creating your own worlds.

 

Nonsense, of course. Distraction is welcome. Although it does reduce the risk of some spilling coffee on your laptop.

Spotter: Brain Pickings

Posted: 19th, June 2017 | In: Books | Comment


Why Hunter S. Thompson typed out The Great Gatsby & A Farewell to Arms word for word

hunter s thompson great gatsby

 

Learning to write is hard. Leaning to write well is a grind. Hunter S. Thompson put in the hard yards, typing out whole pages of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. He did this “just to get the feeling,” writes Louis Menand at The New Yorker, “of what it was like to write that way.”

Johnny Depp told The Guardian:

“He’d look at each page Fitzgerald wrote, and he copied it. The entire book. And more than once. Because he wanted to know what it felt like to write a masterpiece.”

Josh Jones adds:

In a 1958 letter to his hometown girlfriend Ann Frick, Thompson named the Fitzgerald and Hemingway novels as two especially influential books, along with Brave New World, William Whyte’s The Organization Man, and Rona Jaffe’s The Best of Everything (or “Girls before Girls”), a novel that “hardly belongs in the abovementioned company,” he wrote, and which he did not, presumably, copy out on his typewriter at work. Surely, however, many a Thompson close reader has discerned the traces of Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway in his work, particularly the latter, whose macho escapades and epic drinking bouts surely inspired more than just Thompson’s writing.

Spotter: Open Culture

 

Posted: 11th, June 2017 | In: Books, Celebrities | Comment


Vladimir Putin is playing things by the book: this book

21st Century Bastards Vladimir Putin - action figures for the post-truth age

 

Is Vladimir Putin following a book, namely The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia by Aleksandr Dugin, aka “Putin’s Brain”. You can read it on Wikipedia:

The book declares that “the battle for the world rule of [ethnic] Russians” has not ended and Russia remains “the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois, anti-American revolution.” The Eurasian Empire will be constructed “on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us.”

The United Kingdom should be cut off from Europe.

Ukraine should be annexed by Russia because “Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics”.

The book stresses the “continental Russian-Islamic alliance” which lies “at the foundation of anti-Atlanticist strategy”. The alliance is based on the “traditional character of Russian and Islamic civilization”.

Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke “Afro-American racists”. Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements — extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”

Spotter: Kottke

Posted: 6th, June 2017 | In: Books, Politicians | Comment


The screaming abdabs: Anthony Burgess’s Dictionary of Slang

Anthony Burgess,

 

Manchester-born writer and academic Anthony Burgess began work on a dictionary of slang –  “the home-made language of the ruled, not the rulers, the acted upon, the used, the used up. It is demotic poetry emerging in flashes of ironic insight.”

Entries in A from Anthony Burgess’s lost dictionary of slang

Abdabs (the screaming) – Fit of nerves, attack of delirium tremens, or other uncontrollable emotional crisis. Perhaps imitative of spasm of the jaw, with short, sharp screams.

Abdicate – In poker, to withdraw from the game, forfeiting all money or chips put in the pot.

Abfab – Obsolescent abbreviation of absolutely fabulous, used by Australian teenagers or ‘bodgies’.

Abortion – Anything ugly, ill-shapen, or generally detestable: ‘You look a right bloody abortion, dressed like that’; ‘a nasty little abortion of a film’ (Australian in origin).

Abyssinia – I’ll be seeing you. A valediction that started during the Italo-Abyssinian war. Obsolete, but so Joyceanly satisfying that it is sometimes hard to resist.

Accidental(ly) on purpose – Deliberately, but with the appearance of accident: ‘So I put me hand on her knee, see, sort of accidental on purpose.’ (Literary locus classicus: Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine, 1923.)

Arse – I need not define. The taboo is gradually being broken so that plays on the stage and on radio and television introduce the term with no protest. The American Random House Dictionary … is still shy of it, however, though not of the American colloquialism ass. Arse is a noble word; ass is a vulgarism.

NOTE: Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange is cited three times in the historical Oxford English Dictionary: ‘thou’, ‘your’ and ‘droog’ which was invented by Burgess in the novel and appears on the first page: “There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim.”

Via: The Anthony Burgess Foundation and Flashbak, which has more.

Posted: 3rd, June 2017 | In: Books, Celebrities | Comment


This Is How We Dot It: the daily lives of seven kids in seven countries

 

This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe features the daily routines of seven children from different countries around the world (Japan, Peru, Iran, Russia, India, Italy, and Uganda).

In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days — and this one world we all share — unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences.

 

Spotter: Kottke

Posted: 17th, May 2017 | In: Books | Comment


F.T. Marinetti’s Futurist Cookbook: the recipe for every faddish dinner you’ve ever had

Faddish, modish food was played with brilliantly in 1932, when Italian futurist Filippo Marinetti (1876–1944) published Marinetti’s Futurist Cookbook, a cookbook that would trigger a “revolution of cuisine”. Humans, said Marinetti, “think, dream and act according to what they eat and drink”.

 

futurist-cookbook FT MArinetti

 

The introduction is choice:

Contrary to the predictable criticisms, the Futurist culinary revolution, illustrated in this volume, is aimed at the high end, noble and useful at all to radically change the power of our race, fortifying, dynamizing and spiritualizing it with brand new dishes in which experience, intelligence and imagination economically replace the amount, the banality, repetition and the cost. Our futuristic kitchen, set like a seaplane engine for high speeds, will seem crazy to some trembling and dangerous traditionalist. It wants to eventually create a harmony between the palate of men and their lives today and tomorrow… It is optimism at the table.

Suzanne Brill notes:

Futurist food was full of suggestiveness and provocation. Sex was one topic, the thrill of air travel another. Along with recipes for “Sculpted Meat” and “Man-and-Woman-at-Midnight” came whole scenarios for acting out themed meals while sitting in a biplane. The art chefs of our day, Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià, surely perpetuate what Marinetti began.

By way of a taster, here’s the recipe for The Excited Pig: A “whole salami, skinned” is cooked in strong espresso coffee and flavored with eau-de-cologne.”

Spotter: Flashbak, which has a lot more on FT Marinetti’s recipe book.

Posted: 1st, May 2017 | In: Books, The Consumer | Comment


500 Years of “Vulgar Tongue” Slang In One Dictionary

Green’s Dictionary of Slang

 

If you’ve ever wondered about the meaning of obscure words, Green’s Dictionary of Slang is the place to go.

“The three volumes of Green’s Dictionary of Slang demonstrate the sheer scope of a lifetime of research by Jonathon Green, the leading slang lexicographer of our time. A remarkable collection of this often reviled but endlessly fascinating area of the English language, it covers slang from the past five centuries right up to the present day, from all the different English-speaking countries and regions. Totaling 10.3 million words and over 53,000 entries, the collection provides the definitions of 100,000 words and over 413,000 citations. Every word and phrase is authenticated by genuine and fully-referenced citations of its use, giving the work a level of authority and scholarship unmatched by any other publication in this field.

Green tells us a bout the roots of slang:

Slang is a product of the city and without cities there is no slang. London was a great city – in contemporary terms – by the 16th century, and was seen as such before that. It had upper, middle and working classes. But slang is also a product of the street, a bottom-up creation, and as such condemned as a debased and marginal lexis. In a world where printing was still a relative novelty, and books therefore tended to be devoted to the concerns of the educated and powerful, slang was simply ignored. It is my belief that just as the criminals of the 16th century used their own non-standard language, there existed alongside it a non-criminal slang vocabulary, used primarily, as it is now, by the poor.

He adds:

I would call slang a ‘counter-language’, the desire of human beings, when faced by a standard version, of whatever that may be, to come up with something different, perhaps parallel, perhaps oppositional. For me, that is what slang does in terms of language.

See more at Green’s Dictionary of Slang. I hope to featrrue his writings and work on Flashbak

Posted: 26th, April 2017 | In: Books | Comment


You can buy George W. Bush’s portraits of US military veterans

Former US president George W. Bush’s portrait of post-9/11 US veterans is on sale. Called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, all author proceeds will be donated to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, “a non-profit organization whose Military Service Initiative works to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war”.

The book’s authorship and the eponymous ‘Center’ suggest the project is mostly about Bush, rather than the veterans. But do we mind the grandstanding so long as the hurt get help?

Can we overlook what many see as the ‘lies‘ that led to Bush declaring the “second stage of the war on terror” on 11 March 2002, six months after 9/11? The Bush administration went looking for the enemy. It identified Saddam Hussein and then hunted around for a cause to get him. Was the Iraqi leader behind 9/11? Did Saddam have Weapons of mass destruction?

Was it as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it ‘the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America’s sense of Manifest Destiny. Extirpating Saddam is about proving how tough we are to a world that thinks we got soft when that last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975’?

 

bush portraits courage

 

Is this book a self-help book for Bush, who only continued the long-held US policy of intervening in foreign affairs?

The book’s blurb tells us:

Each painting in this meticulously produced hardcover volume is accompanied by the inspiring story of the veteran depicted, written by the President. Readers can see the faces of those who answered the nation’s call and learn from their bravery on the battlefield, their journeys to recovery, and the continued leadership and contributions they are making as civilians. It is President Bush’s desire that these stories of courage and resilience will honor our men and women in uniform, highlight their family and caregivers who bear the burden of their sacrifice, and help Americans understand how we can support our veterans and empower them to succeed.

So long as it helps, right…

Posted: 5th, March 2017 | In: Books, Politicians | Comment


Game of Thrones spoilers

Books. Ever hear of them?  The Sun says “SHOCK LEAK Game of Thrones fans sent into a frenzy as ‘entire plot for season seven leaks online’”. Games of Thrones is based on a series of books by George R.R. Martin. If you want to know what happens in the TV version, why not just, you know, read the books?

Yes, yes, the TV version does differ from the books. Producer David Benioff says the show is “about adapting the series as a whole and following the map George laid out for us and hitting the major milestones, but not necessarily each of the stops along the way”. But you get the gist of the plot.

The Mail says “a Reddit user going by the name awayforthelads posted an enormous list of very detailed spoilers”.

How do we know to trust awayforthelads? Maybe they made it up? After all, the Sun looks at the leaks and says it is”reveals a pregnancy and a saucy romp between two main characters”. Sex in Game of Thrones is like the weather at the end of the evening news. It’s expected. As for a pregnancy, the show is about dynasties. Kids are part of the process.

And then comes the truly conniving part: the Mail wants to turn the taps open on that leak.

 

Game of thrones spoilers

 

If you want to read the leaks, you can, of course. If you enjoy escapism, you might want to pass over the leaks and just wait for the entertainment.

 

Posted: 8th, November 2016 | In: Books, Reviews, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment