When books cause break-ups

March 29, 2008 at 10:55 pm (Uncategorized)

Liz just sent me this great article from the New York Times: “It’s Not You, It’s Your Books.”

It talks about how a (potential) significant other’s taste in books can be a turn-off or deal-breaker, and, since I’m a sometimes-judgmental bookworm, it totally resonated with me.

Also, one author says: “I do know people who almost broke up” over “The Corrections” by Jonathan Franzen: “‘Overrated!’ ‘Brilliant!’ ‘Overrated!’ ‘Brilliant!’” (I’m firmly on the brilliant side.)


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March 21, 2008 at 12:31 am (watch)

Last week Pitzer hosted the Black Maria Film Festival, a touring festival that promotes experimental filmmaking. It was cool, although after a while I got sick of the apparently common idea now that quickly flickering images equal edginess.

For that reason, and many others, I loved “The Drift,” by Kelly Sears–she has taken the opposite route, and slooowed down. “The Drift” is about a space-mission-gone-wrong in the 60s, and the images are photographs taken from old National Geographics she found at garage sales. She then animates the pictures–I have no idea how, but apparently frame by frame–so figures drift or disappear or move so slightly that you’re not sure they’re really moving, and the pictures take on a lot of depth. The piece occupies this weird place between documentary and (science) fiction, and still and moving images, and is almost haunting.

Kelly is actually the director of the production center at Pitzer, and was at the screening. She said one of her favorite comments about this piece was when, after a screening, a friend came up to her and said, “That didn’t really happen, did it?”

Watch an excerpt of the 8-minute piece here! 


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Fierce! and funny

March 11, 2008 at 7:40 pm (Uncategorized)


On Saturday, Saturday Night Live had a skit about Project Runway winner Christian and a new make-over show for Bravo. Amy Poehler’s impression is dead-on, although I don’t remember Christian saying “tranny” at all on the show.

I haven’t watched SNL in a few years so I didn’t recognize the other cast members, but the guy who plays Tim Gunn gets his voice dead on.

Watch it here!

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March 10, 2008 at 10:07 pm (read, watch)

J. Robert Lennon (author of Pieces for the Left Hand…in related news, I e-mailed him a few days ago to tell him that I love that book, and he wrote back the next day thanking me and revealing that his grad school roommate had gone to Pomona and used to be in the brochure with bizarre mutton-chop sideburns) runs a blog for experimental writing called the LitLab that I just started reading, although posting has been slow lately. Hopefully it will pick up soon.

The way it works is that authors set themselves up with restrictions or specific challenges (kind of like how Lars von Trier did for Jorgen Leth in The Five Obstructions (2003), for which Leth re-made his old short film “The Perfect Human,” five times. Watch the original film below).

As an example, take the very short story, in Czech, by Lida Sobkova, in which every letter starts with the letter “p.” Then we read it translated into English. Here’s an excerpt:

“Prší. Pátek patnáctého prosince. Pošmourné počasí protíná polední pauzu. Pozdní podzim povzbuzuje pápěří pampelišky poletovat. Plnicí pero popsalo papír poletujíjcí pod podloubím. Proslulý proutník Pavel provází podél podloubí pihovatou Pavlínu. Proč právě Petra? Proradný prostopášník povalil Pavlínu pod platan, poodhalil Pavlínin pihovatý pupík. Pořád poprchává. Pavlína promrzla. Pojď popijeme pro pohodu. Pokračují paloukem, přicházejí k pohostinství „Pod Pařezem.“ ”

I like the attention to the visual aesthetics of writing, not just how it sounds or what it means. To find out what it means, go to the LitLab.

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March 9, 2008 at 1:17 pm (Uncategorized)


Last weekend at the Media Studies Symposium, Marsha Kinder, a professor at USC and founder of the Labyrinth Project, gave a presentation that made me really excited about the possibilities of genre-and-discipline-busting media. The Labyrinth Project puts together hybrid media projects–they blend old photographs, new photographs, video, audio, animation, text, narrative, databases, fiction, history and personal memories to come out with gorgeous, user-navigated projects on topic ranging from Russian Modernism to a detective story in historical Los Angeles to Einstein to the genes that determine aggressive behavior.

I’d studied and written a bit about hypertextual narratives and online narratives for a class in Spain, but one of my main problems with the genre is that it’s sort of clunky to navigate and often not very pretty. Some of the early examples, like Stuart Moulthrop’s Hegirascope 2, from 1997, will let you see just how much progress writers, artists and designers have made to get to works like those of the Labyrinth Project.

Many of the Labyrinth projects are available on CD Rom and DVD Rom–I know prof Fitzpatrick has a couple of them if anyone’s interested. A few, like the work-in-progress Russion Moderning seminar, will be available online. If you’ve got a few minutes, check out the Labyrinth project website to get a sense of the sort of work they’re doing. This is the stuff that makes me think it would be pretty fun to be an academic.

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