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Archive for March, 2009

chcuk-norris“On Glenn Beck’s radio show last week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, ‘I may run for president of Texas.’

“That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state. . . .

“Anyone who has been around Texas for any length of time knows exactly what we’d do if the going got rough in America. Let there be no doubt about that. As Sam Houston once said, ‘Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.'” (more @ WorldNetDaily)

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DEU Obama Fingers“Sprehe, a company that has all manner of frozen delicacies on offer, has come up with a new product it calls ‘Obama Fingers.’ Far from being real digits, though, the ‘fingers’ in question are ‘tender, juicy pieces of chicken breast, coated and fried,’ as the product packaging claims. . . .

“‘We noticed that American products and the American way of eating are trendy at the moment,’ Judith Witting, sales manager for Sprehe, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. ‘Americans are more relaxed. Not like us stiff Germans, like (Chancellor Angela) Merkel.’ . . .

“For Americans in Germany, though, there is a risk that the product might be seen as racially insensitive. Fried chicken has long been associated with African-Americans in the US — naming strips of fried chicken after the first black president could cause some furrowing of brows.

“Witting told SPIEGEL ONLINE the connection never even occurred to her. ‘It was supposed to be a homage to the American lifestyle and the new US president.’ she said.” (more @ Spiegel Online; via Newser)

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kerouacradioJack Kerouac, author of “On the Road” and progenitor of the Beat Generation as well as subsequent generations of literary dreamers, was born on this date in 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. He died in 1969 at age 47.

Gilbert Millstein’s 1957 New York Times review of “On the Road,” which Dwight Garner called “probably the most famous book review in the history of [the] newspaper,” can be found here.

The following excerpt from “On the Road” describes Sal Paradise’s (Kerouac’s) first attempt at traveling west alone:

I’d been poring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months, even reading books about the pioneers and savoring names like Platte and Cimarron and so on, and on the road-map was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I’ll just stay on all the way to Ely, I said to myself and confidently started. To get to 6 I had to go up to Bear Mountain. Filled with dreams of what I’d do in Chicago, in Denver, and then finally in San Fran, I took the Seventh Avenue Subway to the end of the line at 242nd Street, and there took a trolley into Yonkers; in downtown Yonkers I transferred to an outgoing trolley and went to the city limits on the east bank of the Hudson River. If you drop a rose in the Hudson River at its mysterious source in the Adirondacks, think of all the places it journeys as it goes to sea forever — think of that wonderful Hudson Valley. I started hitching up the thing. Five scattered rides took me to the desired Bear Mountain Bridge, where Route 6 arched in from New England. It began to rain in torrents when I was let off there. It was mountainous. Route 6 came over the river, wound around a traffic circle, and disappeared into the wilderness. Not only was there no traffic but the rain come down in buckets and I had no shelter. I had to run under some pines to take cover; this did no good; I began crying and swearing and socking myself on the head for being such a damn fool. I was forty miles north of New York; all the way up I’d been worried about the fact that on this, my big opening day, I was only moving north instead of the so-longed for west. Now I was stuck on my northermost hangup. I ran a quarter-mile to an abandoned cute English-style filling station and stood under the dripping eaves. High up over my head the great hairy Bear Mountain sent down thunderclaps that put the fear of God in me. All I could see were smoky trees and dismal wilderness rising to the skies. “What the hell am I doing up here?” I cursed, I cried for Chicago. “Even now they’re all having a big time, they’re doing this, I’m not there, when will I get there!” — and so on. Finally a car stopped at the empty filling station; the man and the two women in it wanted to study a map. I stepped right up and gestured in the rain; they consulted; I looked like a maniac, of course, with my hair all wet, my shoes sopping. My shoes, damn fool that I am, were Mexican huaraches, plantlike sieves not fit for the rainly night of America and the raw road night. But the people let me in and rode me back to Newburgh, which I accepted as a better alternative than being trapped in the Bear Mountain wilderness all night. “Besides,” said the man, “there’s no traffic passes through 6. If you want to go to Chicago you’d be better going across the Holland Tunnel in New York and head for Pittsburth,” and I knew he was right. It was my dream that screwed up, the stupid hearthside idea that it would be wonderful to follow one great red line across America instead of trying various roads and routes.

In Newburgh it had stopped raining. I walked down to the river and I had to ride back to New York in a bus with a delegation of schoolteachers coming back from a weekend in the mountains — chatter chatter blah-blah, and me swearing for all the time and money I’d wasted, and telling myself, I wanted to go west and here I’d been all day and into the night going up and down, north and south, like something that can’t get started. (via Literary Kicks)

Kerouac’s explanation of his “spontaneous prose” writing method can be found here.

Video and audio clips from Kerouac readings, as well as rare tapes of Kerouac and Neal Cassady, can be found here. More can be found here and here and here.

A video documentary, Jack Kerouac – King of the Beats, can be viewed here.

Related

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colsanders540“A statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders tossed into Osaka’s Dotonbori River some 24 years ago by rowdy Hanshin Tigers fans has been discovered. . . .

“The Colonel ended up at the bottom of the river in 1985, when delirious Hanshin Tigers fans celebrating the team’s first Central League title in 21 years decided the figure bore a striking resemblance to Tigers slugger Randy Bass and, lifting it off its base in front of the Dotonbori Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, gave the Colonel a victory toss. The fans put a little too much energy into the toss, and the Colonel Sanders figure went over the railing of the Ebisu Bridge and into the river. Since the statue’s victory dive into the Dotonbori, searches for the statue were undertaken, but none with any success.

“The Hanshin Tigers have not won the Japan Series since 1985, a fact attributed by some to the ‘Curse of Colonel Sanders.'” (more @ Mainichi Daily News; via Newser)

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basketballComing Soon – the WORD Basketball League!

WORD Books in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is setting up a summer basketball league for book lovers. The league will welcome men and women and will likely play its games on the playground courts across the street from the store.

To prove their league-readiness, applicants need not demonstrate their shooting or dribbling skills – instead, book-loving hoopster-hopefuls need to answer the following five questions:

1. Who wrote Ulysses?
2. What is the best selling book of all time?
3. What is J. D. Salinger’s most well-known book?
4. Name a book that has been banned in the United States in the last 100 years.
5. What is your favorite book?

Those who don’t score well (on the test) are invited to cheerlead.

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“The defense never rests. . . . Even though Bush is keeping quiet in Texas before heading out on a lucrative speaking tour, an informal network of former aides is keeping his views in the political bloodstream, defending his legacy in TV appearances and backgrounding reporters about his record. 

“Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer calls the Bush pundits ‘a loose confederation of people united in our belief in what President Bush did, and we’re freer now to talk about some things than we used to be — good and bad.’ 

“The Bush defense forces include Fleischer; former press secretary Dana Perino; Bush political czar Karl Rove, who has contracts with Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek; economics guru Tony Fratto; the prolific Peter Wehner, former director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives; and the graceful speechwriter Michael Gerson, who writes an opinion column for The Washington Post.” (more @ Politico)

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niffenegger“Six years after the publication of her blockbuster best-selling novel, ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ Audrey Niffenegger has sold a new manuscript for close to $5 million, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. It is an especially significant sum at a time of retrenchment and economic uncertainty in the publishing world.

“After a fiercely contested auction, Scribner, a unit of Simon & Schuster, bought the rights to publish the new novel, ‘Her Fearful Symmetry,’ in the United States this fall. The book is a supernatural story about twins who inherit an apartment near a London cemetery and become embroiled in the lives of the building’s other residents and the ghost of their aunt, who left them the flat. . . .

“‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ is set to go on sale at the end of September, and will coincide with the British publication by Jonathan Cape this fall. The film adaptation of ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ directed by Robert Schwentke and starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, is scheduled for a February release.” (more @ NY Times)

RelatedCape confirms Niffenegger deal

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header1Mastro Auctions, responsible for the sale of over $250 million in sales since its inception in 1996, has ceased operations. 

“The suburban Chicago company’s assets have been taken over by a newly formed sports and Americana auction house, headed by former Mastro President and Chief Operating Officer Doug Allen, Vice President Ron Oser and Logistics and Auction Manager Mark Theotikos. The new company will be called Legendary Auctions. 

“Long-time collector/dealer Bill Mastro, who started Mastro Auctions in 1996 and served as Chairman and CEO, is leaving the hobby, according to a press release issued Tuesday night on behalf of Legendary Auctions. 

“‘Circumstances make it clear to me that the business needs to move in a different direction at this time,’ Mastro stated in the release. ‘Legendary Auctions is a positive step that allows everyone to be taken care of, especially our customers who have been so loyal. I am looking forward to taking some time off for now, and wish Legendary Auctions only the best as they move forward.'” (more @ Sports Collectors Daily)

Legendary Auction‘s Press Release announcing the acquisition of Mastro Auctions can be found here.

RelatedIs the Sports Collectibles Industry (or Mastro Auctions) on the Ropes?

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bolanosmall“Two new novels by the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño have reportedly been found in Spain among papers he left behind after his death. The previously unseen manuscripts were entitled Diorama and The Troubles of the Real Police Officer, reported La Vanguardia.

“The newspaper said the documents also included what is believed to be a sixth section of Bolaño’s epic five-part novel 2666. . . .

“It follows the discovery of another novel, entitled The Third Reich, which was shown to publishers at the Frankfurt book fair in October. . . .

“The writer, who spent the last part of his life in the Costa Brava region of Spain, died at the age of 50 in 2003.

“Uncompromising in his style and critical of authors who sold out to the market, he did not publish a novel until he was 43. He supported himself by, among other things, working as a security guard at a campsite and selling cheap jewellery to tourists visiting the Costa Brava. . . .

“Bolaño published his first novel in 1993 and posthumously grew in popularity after 2666 was translated into English and was one of the New York Times‘s top 10 books of 2008. His novel The Savage Detectives appeared on the same list the previous year.” (more @ The Guardian)

Related

UpdateChilean Bolano Posthumously Wins Book Critics Circle Award

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cheers“For nearly 35 years, or almost half of his life, [Eddie] Doyle has been the smiling face behind the bar at Cheers – the Beacon Hill pub that inspired the TV show with the same name in the early 1980s. As one of Boston’s last fabled bartenders, he served drinks and advice for five decades. . . .

“But a few weeks ago he was told by Tom Kershaw, owner of the Cheers bar, that the recession had hit his industry and he was being laid off.  . . . As word spread of his layoff, many people, such as former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn, said that the city has lost an institution.

“‘He’s as important as George Washington to this city; he’s that well known,’ said Flynn. ‘The Cheers bar was internationally famous, but before it was internationally famous I think Eddie really brought them that notoriety and that attention. They say it’s a bar where everybody knows your name but it’s really a bar where everybody knows Eddie Doyle.'” (more @ Boston Globe)

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306abboxlibraryBrooklyn, New York perfume merchant CB I Hate Perfume has just introduced “In the Library,” “a perfume inspired by the proprietor Christopher Brosius’s love of books and his inability to pass a secondhand bookshop without stopping in.

“According to the shop’s description, the perfume is supposed to evoke a first-edition English novel via ‘Russian and Moroccan leather bindings, worn cloth, and a hint of wood polish.'” (more @ The Book Bench)

[Makes me want to curl up with a good book . . . or a woman who smells like a good book!]

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bukowskiCharles Bukowski died 15 years ago yesterday. During the early 1970s, I lived briefly in Denver, Colorado, where I imagined myself part of a “next wave” of beat writers working their way west from New York, via Denver, to Venice Beach in California. I panhandled on Colfax Avenue; I shoplifted groceries; I drank too much; I read my own poetry in bars for spare change; and from time to time, when I wasn’t imagining myself as Jack Kerouac, I imagined myself as Bukowski: I even wrote several poems in which I tried not just to channel his voice but to swallow the poet whole. One of my “Bukowski poems” is “published” here – about a woman who shrieked and stormed from the room during a reading I gave of a poem that mentioned a female body part. Following my poem are Bukowski’s “rules for writing.”

a conversation w/charles bukowski at the international house, denver

florence is wearing red lipstick,
sits with tired legs crossed,
handbag on lap.

“read a dirty poem!”

i hear bukowski
his mad eyes staring at me
through the window

i am introduced &
take my seat by the desk,
head hidden by the globe.

“read a dirty poem!”

bukowski has entered
unseen,
sits on my lap

“this is a filthy,
i mean,
erotic poem!”

he won’t let me speak

i become incensed,
roll my eyes &
tongue around the room.

florence returns my tongue,
pushes the globe aside
to see my face.
she asks me to read.

CUNT I SAY! CUNT! CUNT! CUNT!
THE CUNT IS HOLY: THE EYE OF GOD!

florence shows red teeth &
leaves through the window
with the globe.

bukowski smiles &
picks up my eyes.

(September, 1974)


so you want to be a writer?

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

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kissingercartoon“The Kissinger image [left] (by David Levine) is one of 320 illustrations – by 142 of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary artists – that The New York Times itself originally commissioned for its Op-Ed Pages, but then got cold feet about running, and eventually paid more than $1 million in ‘kill fees’ to hide from public view (sometimes for as long as 38 years).

“What didn’t the Times want you to see?

“Can you imagine illustrations so ‘blasphemous,’ so ‘politically embarrassing,’ so sexually ‘over the line’ that The New York Times gladly paid a fortune just to protect your delicate eyes from being exposed to them?

“You’ll find hundreds of such allegedly ‘not-fit-to-print’ illustrations – together with the bizarre and often ludicrous reasons for suppressing them – in a sly and deliciously funny new book called All The Art That’s Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn’t), by Jerelle Kraus, former Art Editor of the Times Op-Ed and Editorial Pages, who reluctantly quit her ‘dream job’ at the Times after 13 years in order to publish it. . . .

“Unfortunately, if you’re looking for more information about this book — don’t expect to consult a review in The New York Times. You won’t find one. For years the Times tried to discourage Ms Kraus from publishing this book, but now that it’s out, the Times is spitefully refusing even to acknowledge its existence, let alone actually review it. Since the Times‘ Book Section is a bible of the publishing world, not being noticed in its pages can often destroy a book’s chances of attracting a large audience.

“Which may be the the Times’s purpose — a publicity blackout might make the book quietly disappear.” (more @ AlterNet)

[Then there’s the New York Post, which had no problem running the Obama-as-stimulus-writing-monkey cartoon just last month. Seems to me both papers need to redraw their standards.]

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“While Times Square is not known for star gazing — the celestial kind, that is — and few people would normally venture onto a pitch-black ball field in Inwood to see the constellations, two unrelated, if not unlikely, projects hope to turn the city’s night eyes skyward.

Jason Kendall, an amateur astronomer, and Katja Aglert, a Swedish installation artist, want to turn out the lights in different parts of Manhattan and, weather permitting, illuminate the night sky. . . .

“Mr. Kendall and Ms. Aglert, 38 — who do not know each other — face daunting challenges to realize their visions.

“He must persuade the city’s parks department to darken Inwood’s Dyckman Fields, which run north for about 15 blocks from Dyckman Street, on April 3 and April 4.

“She has to persuade landlords and billboard owners in Times Square to cut their lights for one minute sometime this spring. . . .

“On the nights in April that Mr. Kendall wants Dyckman Fields darkened, the moon will rise early, and astronomy enthusiasts around the world are signifying the occurrence to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first recorded use of a telescope. . . .

“Ms. Aglert, who was awarded $21,000 from the Swedish government and given office space by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to pursue her project, faces fewer government hurdles than Mr. Kendall. Since she is not proposing to turn off traffic signals, street lamps and other city lights, she does not need official approval, though the Buildings Department said she had to submit a proposal.” (more @ NY Times)

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shakespearebooksIn The Guardian, Jeanette Winterson, after a recent visit, recounts a bit of the history of Shakespeare and Company, Paris’ renowned Left Bank bookstore, first opened in 1913 and since 1962 owned by George Whitman. No visit to Paris is complete without a visit to this venerable literary institution which always recalls for me New York’s recently closed literary landmark, Gotham Book Mart 

“Way back, in 1913, the original Shakespeare and Company was opened by a young American called Sylvia Beach. Her shop in rue de l’Odéon soon became the place for all the English-speaking writers in Paris. Her lover, Adrienne Monnier, owned the French bookstore across the road, and she and Beach ran back and forth, finding penniless writers a place to stay, lending them books, arranging loans, taking their mail, sending their work to small magazines and, most spectacularly, publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 when no one else would touch it.

“Hemingway was a regular at the shop, and writes about it in his memoir A Moveable Feast. . . . It was Hemingway, as a major in the US army, who at the liberation of Paris in 1945 drove his tank straight to the shuttered Shakespeare and Company and personally liberated Sylvia Beach. ‘No one that I ever knew was nicer to me,’ he said later, rich, famous and with a Nobel prize.

“But after the war, Beach was older and tired. She didn’t reopen the shop that had been forced into closure by the occupation. It was George Whitman who took over the spirit of what she had made, but not the name – until 1962, when Beach attended a reading by Lawrence Durrell at the bookstore and they all agreed that it should be renamed Shakespeare and Company.

“George took in the beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Henry Miller ate from the stewpot, but was too grand to sleep in the tiny writers’ room. Anaïs Nin left her will under George’s bed. There are signed photos from Rudolf Nureyev and Jackie Kennedy, signed copies of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.” (via Books, Inq.)

A New York Times article offering a brief history of Gotham Book Mart can be found here:

PHOTO: A December 1948 party at for Osbert and Edith Sitwell (seated, center) drew a roomful of bright lights to the Gotham Book Mart: clockwise from W. H. Auden, on the ladder at top right, were Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford (cross-legged, on the floor), William Rose Benét, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart, Gore Vidal and José Garcia Villa. (Photo: Gotham Book Mart)

RelatedThe Gotham Book Mart’s Final Chapter?

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“It opened nearly three years ago at an army drill hall in Edinburgh and has toured the world from New York to Sydney. But the play Black Watch only reached London last year – allowing it entry to the UK’s most prestigious theatre awards. Last night it walked away with four.

“The National Theatre of Scotland‘s story of the now amalgamated regiment came away with the most Olivier awards for an individual production, including best new play and, for John Tiffany, best director. . . . An unforgettable play based on interviews with soldiers who served in Iraq, it also won for sound design and choreography.” (more @ The Guardian)

A complete list of 2009 Olivier Award winners can be found here.

The New York Times review from the first of Black Watch‘s two runs at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn (2007) can be found here.

Related

[As much as I admire Black Watch — which I saw during both of its New York runs — I was disappointed that Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County, which I also attended twice, and which won both the 2008 Tony Award for Best Play and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, did not win the Olivier best new play award. My sense is that the war-tested Scottish regiment enjoyed a bit of a home field advantage in London over Letts’s dysfunctional and hard-drinking Oklahoma family.]

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PD*27420284“Professor Stanley Wells, Chairman of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and one of the world’s leading experts on Shakespearean studies, today announced the discovery of a portrait of William Shakespeare, which he believes is almost certainly the only authentic image of Shakespeare made from life.

“The newly discovered picture has descended for centuries in the same family, the Cobbes. It hung in their Irish home, under another identification, until the 1980s, when it was inherited by Alec Cobbe who was a co-heir of the Cobbe estate and whose heirlooms were transferred into a trust. In 2006 Alec Cobbe visited the National Portrait Gallery exhibition ‘Searching for Shakespeare’ where he saw a painting that now hangs in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington. It had been accepted as a life portrait of Shakespeare until some 70 years ago, but fell from grace when it was found to have been altered. Mr Cobbe immediately realised that this was a copy of the painting in his family collection. . . .

“Up to now only two images have been accepted as authentic representations of what Shakespeare may have looked like. One is the engraving by Martin Droeshout published in the First Folio of 1623. The other is the portrait bust in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon; the monument is mentioned in the Folio and therefore must have been in place by 1623. Both are posthumous – Shakespeare died in 1616. The engraver, who was only in his teens when Shakespeare died, must have had a picture, until now unidentified, to work from. Professor Wells believes it to be the one he has revealed today and that it was done from life, in about 1610, when he was 46 years old.” 

The portrait will be on exhibit at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon beginning April 23 (which may be both the anniversary of his birth in 1564 and of his death in 1616). (via NY Times)

A video report on the painting’s discovery was featured on the CBS News “Early Show” and can be found here.

Related

UpdateShakespeare Unfound(ed)?

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greer-funniersexGermaine Greer, author of the 1970 “feminist” classic, “The Female Eunuch,” on whether men are the funnier sex:

“The greater visibility of male comedians reflects a greater investment of intellectual energy by men of all walks of life in keeping each other amused. It is now a truism that men never talk to each other about things that matter. Most of what takes place when men are together is phatic communication, intended to build fellowship rather than intimacy. This kind of communication is sometimes derided by women as meaningless, but it is actually functional, because it draws the group together. Men who drink, play and joke together are boon companions, who hang together for fun. He laughs loudest who laughs last; one joke kicks off another. The man who cannot hold his own in repartee will even learn other men’s jokes off by heart, so that he can fill a void in the general banter. Women famously cannot learn jokes. If they try, they invariably bugger up the punchline. The male teller of jokes is driving towards his reward, the laughter of his mates. The woman who messes up the same joke does so because her concentration is not sharpened by that need. She is not less intelligent, simply less concerned.”

That said, “Given an opportunity to perform a finished comedy routine, a female comedian will make you laugh as hard as any man.” (more @ The Guardian)

RelatedMen can ‘laugh women into bed’ with GSOH, say psychologists

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obama-bushFrom an opinion piece by Jackson Diehl, deputy editor of The Washington Post‘s editorial page, suggesting that Obama may be more comparable to George W. Bush than Franklin Roosevelt:

“So Obama hasn’t strayed far from Karl Rove’s playbook for routing the opposition. But surely, you say, he’s planning nothing as divisive or as risky as the Iraq war? Well, that’s where the health-care plan comes in: a $634 billion (to begin) ‘historic commitment,’ as Obama calls it, that (like the removal of Saddam Hussein) has lurked in the background of the national agenda for years.”

[Forgive me, but I’m having a little trouble accepting a comparison between an illegal war that continues to cost countless billions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of lives, both American and Iraqi, with plans to reform the U.S. health care system, no matter how expensive. There’s more to fume about in Diehl’s piece but I think this gets my point across.]

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marktwain“Almost 99 years after his death on April 21, 1910, Mark Twain will publish a new short story next week in the pages of the quarterly mystery magazine the Strand.

“Discovered in Twain’s archive — reportedly the largest collection of personal papers left behind by a 19th century American author — the never-before-published ‘The Undertaker’s Tale’ is a short tale-within-a-tale about a wretched homeless boy who is taken in by a kindly undertaker’s family. . . .

“‘The Undertaker’s Story’ will be part of a new book, ‘Who Is Mark Twain?,’ that is due out next month. It’s the first collection of his unpublished short works and will include 24 stories and essays.” (via LA Times)

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