Friday, December 18, 2009

open paprika

A bad year ends. A worse is coming.

One funny thing. When I wrote The Seventh Samurai, to give it its correct title, I imagined that a man might be driven to despair by all the ugliness he had seen and want to see some unprompted dazzling act of goodness. I think this may not have been right. What I find is that if you deal with bad people for long enough you treasure even trifling acts of courtesy. If I go to a café and order an espresso, I'm charmed, disarmed, speechless with gratitude if the waitress brings an espresso.

Ben Birdsall, anyway, has drawn to my attention his excellent blog, There Are No Fours, a sports blog which makes use of Adorno and Marcuse. It would be stretching a point to say that it makes life worth living, but it's a terrific blog.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Writing & That Clinking Clanking Sound

Great piece by Michael Greenberg on the Electric Literature blog.

electric literature

Scott Lindenbaum (my partner at EL) and I worked on The Brooklyn Review, a literary magazine published out of the MFA program at Brooklyn College. One day I spoke to a distributor who told me only 40 independent bookstores in the US carried literary magazines. "That can't be true," I said, "every store I go to carries them." "Where do you live?" he asked. "Brooklyn." "12 of them are in New York," he said.

Interview of Andy Hunter of Electric Literature at The Rejectionist.

Friday, December 4, 2009

rogue hypnotists foiled

Back when I was working for the Indiana General Assembly, one member (and not the member who was, no lie, a radio psychic) became convinced that it was crucially important for the state to address, via statute, the problem of rogue hypnotists travelling the land, preying upon unsuspecting Hoosiers. He wasn’t anti-hypnotist, mind you–he thought the government needed to protect people from unqualified hypnotists. If you ask me, real hypnotists are the ones we should be worried about (You want…to give me…your credit card…information…) but then I’m not a duly-elected public servant.

So the state passed a hypnotist licensing law, complete with the requisite boards, professional standards, forms to fill out, fees to pay, and so on...

Then, after the law was enacted, a funny thing started happening: The state began receiving license applications from people who didn’t live in Indiana. People who lived in states (i.e. most states) that didn’t require hypnotist licensing of any kind. Some were from as far away as California. It turns out they were doing it so they could advertise in the yellow pages and on bus-stop billboards as “state-licensed.” They would just neglect to mention which state.

On The Quick and the Ed, hat tip Marginal Revolution, hat tip Matthew Yglesias. (Hard to believe I have any readers who read neither MR nor MY, but could naturally not pass up the chance of a post on rogue hypnotists.)