- Is a jail in South Carolina denying prisoners any books except the Bible? [via]
- New York under siege by Will Smith’s ridiculously huge trailer. More, with video of the trailer in (in)action here. It’s not in my neck of the Manhattan woods, fortunately or unfortunately.
- I’ve mentioned before that WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show has recently started posting short exit questionnaires with guests. This week, there’s one with actor Tom Wopat, who says the “one thing [he’s] a fan of that people might not expect” is bluegrass. Tom Wopat, star of The Dukes of Hazzard, is a fan of bluegrass. Yeah, color me shocked.
- Forget what I said here, though. UK book sales have sprung back from an eight-year (Royal Wedding-caused?) low.
- And finally, Ken Jennings makes the bold claim that the criminal activities depicted in Scooby-Doo don’t make real-world sense.
- Montana GOP Rep. Defends Drunk Driving. Yep, that’s sure what it sounds like he’s doing.
- Inexplicably famous Perez Hilton is writing a children’s book. I don’t usually like to toss around phrases like “end times,” but… [via]
- Even Billy Joel doesn’t want to read his own memoir! Okay, that’s unfair. I actually do like Joel, or at least much of his music — I think I’m obligated to as a Long Islander — but I don’t think I’d want to read his memoir even if he hadn’t canceled it.
Though I do find it weird to think that he’s been “retired” from writing new music for almost twenty years now. [via]
- This really puts things in geographical perspective: European cities overlaid on a map of the U.S. at an identical latitude (and the other way around).
- And finally, It’s not a crime to be poor. Yet. [via]
- A couple of weeks ago, they unveiled the new costume for NBC’s upcoming Wonder Woman series. The internet responded with the appropriate amount of disgust and horror. “I feel like my eyes are not only bleeding,” I myself wrote, “they’ve been top-coated with a carcinogenic plastic laminate.”
Well, not to worry: NBC and producer David E. Kelley have heard our complaints and all is better now. Her boots are now red instead of blue.
- Making Light lays out a recent timeline of Dorchester Publishing, explaining why it’s probably a good idea for writers and readers alike to stay very, very far away from them.
- Military ranks of the British Invasion. [via]
- “Though the efficacy of standardized testing has been hotly debated for decades, one thing has become crystal clear: It’s big business.” [via]
- And finally, Ryan McGee on the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump:
All of this proceeded banally for the first half of the show, until Sorrentino [the Situation] got up and did something that, had it been done by an Andy Kaufman, Norm MacDonald, or Zach Galifianakis, might have been called performance art. What he did was manage to stretch seven minutes of stage time into what felt like 36 hours of aural waterboarding. Trump, who was already a nearly invisible presence up until that point in the overall proceedings, receded even further as each ensuing comic opened up both barrels on The Situation, sensing blood in the water. Sorrentino’s performance will probably get the roast more publicity than anything else, but that’s part of the problem: The show clearly booked him so he’d bomb, not because he would do a good job.
And maybe that’s fine with you, if you enjoy train wrecks that involve baby seals and orphans inside said flaming train.
- On WNYC, the Leonard Lopate Show has recently started posting picks and suggestions from any given week’s guests, asking them questions about what books they’re reading, what music they’re listening to, etc. They also ask, “What’s one thing you’re a fan of that people might not expect?” Teller, the silent half of Penn and Teller, answered, “Novel forms of pancakes and waffles.” I love that I have almost no idea what he means.
- All this time, I had been avoiding the Huffington Post mostly just because it’s a time-sink. Like io9, Metafilter, or Boing Boing, I was only visiting occasionally, and even then only when another blog redirected me there. But, it turns out, there’s a whole bevy of other reasons to avoid it, namely that, although it earns millions of dollars — and even more in its recent merger with AOL — it still doesn’t pay its writers, nor did it even pay for the blogging platform that runs it. Plus, it seems less like an interesting time-sink and more one that just re-purposes what other news blogs have written, with occasional liberal celebrity cameos, for the purpose of aggrandizing the Huffington Post. Maybe that’s unfair. As I said, I don’t spend much time with it, except when others occasionally direct it there. But it would be nice if some of that AOL money went to the people who day by day create the product AOL bought.
- A teenage burglar killed three goldfish because he didn’t want to leave any witnesses behind. In his defense, he may just have been reading The Cat in the Hat one too many times. Then again, reading might not be too high on this brainiac’s agenda. [via]
- I don’t think it will surprise anyone that Donald Rumsfeld is full of shit. This is what I think he himself would call “a known known.”
- And finally, Wolverine or two Bat Men? [via]
An uneventful and rainy day here in New York, punctuated only by a trip out to Huntington for my semi-regular writing group. My prompt this week, such as it was, was a recipe for a high-rising pancake in GQ. This wasn’t exactly my choice, but we draw inspiration where we can. Not so sure about this piece — I had fun writing it, and I think these exercises are good crafting skills regardless, but it’s not something I see much hope for developing. It’s a silly little disposable semi-story, and as such I have no problem posting it here:
“The High-Rise Pancake”
So this was it. They were kicking Jerry out of the architectural program, and he would be lucky if he didn’t lose his scholarship and get booted from State altogether.
Designing an apartment complex that resembled a pancake, complete with a light, fluffy interior to a butter- and syrup-coated exterior, probably hadn’t been his smartest move ever. But was it really his fault that the griddle had malfunctioned, then exploded, in class? It was just a short circuit and a splash or two of buttermilk batter; no permanent damage had been done. Imagine if he had followed his original model’s design specs and included blueberries!
But according to his professor, Jerry didn’t take his studies seriously, and this was just the final straw in a long line of…well, many other straws. Enough straw, perhaps, to build that cabana shaped like a giant straw hat that Jerry had designed for the first midterm. His professor had called that impractical, too, however, and she certainly hadn’t appreciated the coconut rum and orchid leis he had unsuccessfully tried to distribute in class.
“It’s all about setting a mood!” he had insisted.
“You can’t drink in class and your building has no doors,” his professor countered.
And so that was that. No one in the degree program had any appreciation of art, of whimsy, of the avant-garde. You couldn’t make a building look like a pancake, or a hat, or even a eighteen-foot-tall Scarlett Johansson — both for anatomical and legal reasons, apparently. The only thing the dean and his subordinates cared about was practicality, efficiency — dull, dry buildings no better or different than the dull, dry buildings already all over campus.
“Maybe you should move into the art department or something,” his advisor suggested.
“My scholarship won’t pay for that,” Jerry said.
“Son, you convinced the scholarship board you had some talent for architecture. Either they like you a lot or they’re clinically insane. Convincing them their money and your time are better applied somewhere else should be easy by comparison.”
“So you’re saying you wouldn’t want to live in a giant pancake?”
The “ending” is more than a little rushed — enough that it deserves those air-quotes — but again, I had fun. Oh, and yeah, Scarlett Johansson was on the GQ cover. Again, we just go where the muse decides to lead us.
Do you think there are Marvel vs. DC arguments in the Johansson/Reynolds household, with the former playing Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and the latter soon to be Green Lantern on screen? I’m sure there must be, right?