Saturday, February 28, 2009

flaming out.

Today...along with a enough mangled circulars to choke an environmentalist...I got another job rejection letter. You know the kind. "While your skills and experience are impressive we're not impressed."

Not surprisingly, I'm pretty much over getting these letters.

What I'm thinking is that the rejection letter needs a makeover. Instead of the dry, flavorless kudos that no one believes anyway (1) why not lead things off with some book cover-like blurbs? I think this latest turn down would have been much easier to take if I had been greeted with (2):

"'Artboy belongs on any list of people writing in English at the moment who are revising our ideas about what's funny.' (3) Unfortunately, blah blah blah."

That kind of rejection I could appreciate.

1. If you were really impressed you'd probably be showing me where the legal pads are kept about now.
2. Thank you San Francisco Chronicle book review of David Sedaris's When You Are Engulfed in Flames.
3. I chose this blurb because if you really read it it actually says very little and could thus be adapted easily to the form letter style. I mean...people writing in English revising our ideas about what's funny? How about reviewers revising what it is to actually review a book? A "list of people writing in English at this moment revising our ideas about what's funny..." Not even "revising what's funny," which would be a kind of concrete task. Revising our ideas. And only those doing it at this moment.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Are you serious?

Did you know that the Library of Congress maintains a collection of comic books?

According to the Library's Web site the current collection includes approximately 100,000 pieces from 6,000 titles with about 200 issues added to the stack each month.

But this is my favorite line from the Library on visiting the comics: “Because of the rapid deterioration of the paper and the value of older issues, full access to the comic book collection is restricted to readers engaged in serious research.” (1)

Which is funny because I impose the exact same rule for people who want to read my comic books.

1. Yes. Of course the emphasis is mine. It’s the Library of Congress. They’re not so into the font play.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

porn.

So you have your food porn: Saveur, Food & Wine, Gourmet...

You have your house porn: Metropolitan Home, Dwell, Elle Décor...

You even have your city porn: Washingtonian, Boston Magazine, San Francisco’s 7x7...

Glossy, highly styled magazines created to sell you on the sex appeal of a certain city’s nightlife or designer of the moment’s nightlight. Yes there are articles (1), but let’s face it. The page you stop on is the photograph of a piece of parmesan cheese that is nothing short of drop dead gorgeous.

There is nothing wrong with this.

Just as there is nothing wrong with book porn. Except for the fact that book porn sounds like plain old porn. Which it is not.

Book porn is not so much judging a book by its cover but judging just the cover. And if that unread eye candy sprawled out on the coffee table at home isn’t enough for you, you can always visit this online peep show (2).

1. Yes. Of course. You only read them for the articles.
2. Who’s Chip Kidd? He’s the Betty Page of book porn.

You are so totally undead to me...

Killing time at one of those old school bricks-and-mortar book stores I found myself confronted by a coffin load (1) of Twilight-esque books about teen witches, vampires, occult academies and undead cheerleaders.

"OMG!" I thought (2). "I would so TOTALLY go back to high school if I could do it as a vampire." (3)

1. Not really. It was just a regular old overstacked library table.
2. Not really. I actually thought, "Are you freaking kidding me with this?" And then I spent 20 minutes reading book flaps.
3. No. Not really.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Silly, fancy book learnin’

An article in yesterday’s New York Times book section (1) reports on the drop of opportunities for humanities professors in higher education.

According to The Modern Language Association “end-of-the-year job listings in English, literature and foreign languages dropped 21 percent for 2008-09 from the previous year, the biggest decline in 34 years.”

In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth” also notes that in the “last three months at least two dozen colleges have canceled or postponed faculty searches in religion and philosophy.” Even ignoring the actual content of the article let’s let the title sink in for just a minute. “Humanities Must Justify Their Worth.”

Hear that you ivory tower elitists? It’s time to justify how an extended study of religion and foreign languages can possibly have any worth in this society. I mean…really…what are you going to do with a degree in…I don’t know…Islamic studies or Farsi or Uzbek?

This comes on the tail of legislators in Georgia trying to put an end to the study of queer theory because it’s not only unnecessary but…and I’m paraphrasing here…icky. My reading of the argument made by State Rep. Charlice Byrd leads me to believe that she doesn’t actually have a clue how broad a scope queer studies encompasses. Areas like art history, literature and sociology. Queer studies isn't some prurient Jane Goodall journey through Saturday night in the Castro, but a study of the role sexual orientation and gender identity have played in the evolution of various societies.

And while some queer theorists (2)—as Byrd gleefully pointed out—elect to study areas like male prostitution and oral sex, others have turned their attention to developing comprehensive academic studies of same sex marriage, and gays and lesbians in the church, and attitudes toward and understanding of transgender individuals in various societies.

No practical applications there and again, ewww.

Perhaps these things are in no way connected but it’s gotten me thinking about nerd chic. How many of us have decided to take the label of geek and nerd (3) and use them as passwords into our own secret society. A hip underground club where displaying a genuine interest in debate and learning new things and being unapologetically intelligent (4) is embraced (5).

Maybe the geeks will inherit the earth...if only because an increasing number of folks seem to be less and less interested in it.

1. One of just two book sections left in the newspaper industry…thanks a lot Washington Post.
2. As someone who is, technically, a queer theorist, I have to say how much I hate that this was the best we could come up with name-wise. No, I don’t have a better suggestion…but I’m not so much a “reclaim the slur” kind of person.
3. OK...sometimes I'm into the "reclaim the name" thing.

4. About anything. I don’t care if you’re a physicist or know the history of the pizza or collect Shirley Bassey on vinyl. If you love it and know it…own it.
5. And sometimes we have nachos.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fries with that?

At some point…I’m not sure when…Peter Parker (Spiderman), shifted from being an underpaid and much abused newspaper photographer to being a freelance newspaper Web designer.

Very hip. Very now. But maybe not the best career move ever.

Peter Parker is about to experience a very real and not so amazing newsroom event. According to the New York Daily News, Ultimate Spiderman’s teenage Parker will be laid off. Downsized. Sacked.

In lieu of crashing on Bruce Banner’s sofa Parker will be making ends meet by taking a job at your friendly neighborhood McDonald’s. Not that there's anything wrong with working at McDonald's but this is not giving me a lot of hope.

I mean, Peter Parker has saved the world a few dozen times. It kind of makes my resume seem a little pathetic.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good company.

Condoleezza Rice has signed a book deal with Crown. A three book deal. Count ‘em. Three. Somewhere, out there, countless writers are dabbing their eyes with the corner of their barista aprons.

The first will be about her time as national security adviser and then secretary of state with the Bush administration. Because, really, there are countless gems of wisdom just waiting to be scattered across the page from those eight years.

The second will reportedly focus on her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights movement. And then, so that the former president will be able to enjoy at least one of the books, Random House Children’s Books will publish a young adult version of the childhood memoir.

If you know me you know I’m not a fan of the “Hey famous person, would you like a book deal?” school of publishing (1). There are too many talented writers and not enough book contracts out there.

But then I took a stroll through the Crown Web site and, well, there could be a method to the madness. Here are some of the other titles Ms. Rice’s books will join over on the Crown shelves:

No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels
Jay Dobyns

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam
Pope Brock

My Lobotomy
Howard Dully and Charles Fleming

And, straight from the New York Times Bestseller list:

Guilty
Ann Coulter
1. If you don’t know me you now know that fact because, well, I just wrote it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hear that James Frey?

Quote of the evening, from The Soprano (okay... by now you've figured out that I'm making names up for people(1)), "These are going to make great chapters in your memoir."

1. No, I'm not talking about Italian mobsters...I'm talking about an Italian singer. Who may or may not know mobsters. But I don't think so.