Monday, May 20, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Will it disappear as it enters the mainstream?
From a piece in the Observer...
The genre, with its allegiance to all-or-nothing street politics and a firebrand code of ethics, was initially fostered by a cadre of authors like Ms. Clark who had actually lived the lives they narrated on the page.
Now that street lit seems poised to jump from the ghetto into the mainstream, it’s an open question whether that authenticity can survive. A major record label has snapped up several of the most popular authors, including Ms. Clark. Reality stars are co-authoring books.
Suddenly, a genre that built its cachet in the hearts and minds of voracious readers is wondering if it’s losing its soul.
And then there are academics like the writer Nick Chiles, who struggle with the notion that street lit is recognized as belonging to the proud, up-you-mighty-race tradition of the African-American literary canon. “Is street fiction some passing fad, or does it represent our future?” Mr. Chiles asked in The New York Times in 2006. “It’s depressing,” he continued, “that this noble profession, one that I aspired to as a child from the moment I first cracked open James Baldwin and Gabriel García Márquez about 30 years ago, has been reduced by the greed of the publishing industry and the ways of the American marketplace to a tasteless collection of pornography.”
ESPN's Rick Reilly wrote a sports poem so bad it changed the way I see the world. In the chaos of our new sports media dystopia, we hold a handful of gray ash and wonder: how did this happen?
From a story on SB Nation...
And now the poem.
How did this happen? I don't pose this question with the intent to answer it. I am asking it sincerely and earnestly: I genuinely want to know how, in the year 2013, Rick Reilly and the so-called "Worldwide Leader in Sports" published a poem so ham-fisted it barely belongs in a high school newspaper. This is my public and heartfelt plea for answers in a world I no longer understand, a message in a bottle that I'm throwing in the general direction of Bristol, Connecticut: how in the living fuck did this see the light of day?
How many editors died or quit or threw themselves out 12-story windows in order for this childishly amateur work -- and I use the word "work" as loosely as possible -- reach the viewing public? Who was the brow-beaten chump who said, "Sure, okay, Mr. Reilly, let's run with this"? Or is there no brow-beaten chump with the misnomer of "editor" at all? Does Reilly truly have the unfettered freedom to publish without an editor? I'm not kidding: if you work or worked at ESPN and can offer me insight into this, please email me or explain that peculiar alchemy in the comments.
When Alice Kober died at the age of 45, she was a forgotten and ignored classics professor. But she arguably did more than anyone to decode what was then the oldest written European language known to exist.
From a story in the Daily Beast...
The story of Linear B is well known. This 3,000-year-old language was discovered on clay tablets excavated in 1900 on the island of Crete. It thereafter puzzled scholars for half a century before it was decoded by Michael Ventris, an English architect with no formal training in archeology or linguistics. Linear B’s history is an absorbing tale, full of mysteries both intellectual and historical, and it’s been told and retold since Ventris made his breakthrough. The problem, as Fox sees it, is that what’s been published so far is by no means the whole story. Previous versions, she argues, neglect a major player, so much so that the story as we know amounts to if not a lie then certainly a libel. The Riddle of the Labyrinth is her attempt to set the record straight, to apportion credit correctly, and by doing so to explicate the solution of Linear B in a way that at last makes sense.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The Independent unearths the story of it being discovered.
From the article...
It is one of only three journals that the poet is known to have kept and covers the period shortly after what he described as the “eleven happiest weeks of my life” – the honeymoon period of his relationship with the American poet Chester Kallman.
The frank details of his personal life are set against the build-up to the Second World War. He wrote: “I am happy, but in debt… I have no job. My [US] visa is out of order. There may be a war. But I have an epithalamion to write and cannot worry much.”
The journal is 96 pages long and covers the background to his feted poem September 1, 1939, written at the outbreak of the Second World War.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Merriam-Webster digs deep.
From the piece...
Spelling-fight,” “spelling school,” “spelling match,” “trials in spelling,” “spelling combat,” “spelldown.” It seems that no fixed name for the activity existed, and yet Americans always understood exactly what was meant. Evidence of the term “spelling bee” in print dates from this period of nostalgia and renewed interest. Thus, paradoxically, the new name “spelling bee” dates from the very time when the activity was used to evoke the past. The New York Times used “old-fashioned” to modify “spelling bee” in 1892 and again in 1908; by the time of its coverage of the congressman’s victory of 1913, the terms seemed to be linked inextricably.
The word bee had been used in conjunction with other group activities, such as a “quilting bee,” or occasions when farmers or neighbors would help each other, such as “husking bee,” “apple bee,” or “raising bee.” More grimly, The Oxford English Dictionary also provides evidence of the terms “hanging bee” and “lynching bee.” Despite the obvious link to industriousness and teamwork, this use of the word bee seems to have nothing to do with buzzing insects. The word’s etymology in the Unabridged shows that this bee is an alteration of a word that meant “voluntary help given by neighbors toward the accomplishment of a particular task,” and descends from the Middle English word bene. Bene also gave us the word boon, understood today to mean “blessing” but which also has the meaning of “benefit” or “favor.”
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The list, care of the AV Club.
From said list...
7. Gene Hackman, Wake Of The Perdido Star (1999), Payback At Morning Peak (2011)Of all the collaborations for Gene Hackman to pursue, a series of historical-fiction novels with underwater archaeologist Daniel Lenihan was probably the least expected. Their first project together, the seafaring 19th-century pirate adventure Wake Of The Perdido Star, was published in 1999, and two more collaborative novels followed after Hackman retired from acting in 2003: 2004’s Depression-set Justice For None and 2008’s Escape From Andersonville, about a Civil War prison break. Although Hackman reportedly has some voiceover work in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film The Wolf Of Wall Street, he’s been far more prolific as a writer recently. His first solo novel, a Western paperback called Payback At Morning Peak, came out in 2011.
8. Johnny Cash, Man In White (1986)Johnny Cash’s only novel, Man In White, is a fictional biography of St. Paul, the fanatical, murderous enemy of Christianity who experienced a visionary conversion on the road to Damascus and became an equally fanatical proselytizer for the new religion. The book, which Cash began writing in the ’70s, grew out of the same period as The Gospel Road, the 1973 movie about the last days of Christ that Cash produced, co-wrote, and narrated. (He eventually grew frustrated while writing the book and set it aside, only to resume work on it at the urging of Billy Graham.) By the time Man In White appeared, Johnny Cash, the reformed pill-popping wild man, was probably the best-known “saved” figure in popular culture, and the book is most notable for how openly he identifies with Paul, a figure who even hardcore Christians tend to regard as more than a little scary.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The list, care of Mental Floss.
From said list...
This year has a number of cities as names on the list: Brooklyn, London, and Memphis among them. Cities as names is not a new thing, however. Boston was a boy's name in the 1880s. Dallas and Denver have been around since the 1880s, as has Cleveland (though it peaked in popularity during the presidency of Grover Cleveland, so perhaps should count as a president name instead.)
Some of our state names come from women's names, so it is expected that states like Virginia, Carolina, and Georgia should be represented on name lists. But other state names have made the list too. Missouri made the girl's name list from 1880 until about 1900 and Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas also showed up a few times as girl's names in the 1800s.
The owner of a ice cream shop is auctioning off his immense comic book collection to offset costs to repair his business.
From a piece on WNYC...
Wenzel faces $850,000 worth of repairs, most of which are needed to get his ice cream and treat shop, Salty’s in Lavallette, open for the summer. He didn’t have flood insurance and the storm punched holes in the walls and floor, as well as trapped water in the walls.
To help offset the cost Wenzel, who was named for a comic book character, decided to auction off his three-generation-old comic collection.
“There comes a time where you collected 'em for not only the enjoyment of having them and being able to read them and look at them, but also in case of times of distress like we've been placed in with Hurricane Sandy,” he said.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
...via cell phone.
From a piece in the Christian Science Monitor...
As e-readers boom in popularity in the West, African publishers are stretching their reach with the help of a device millions already have in their pockets: their cellphones.
"You can give people instant access to work now," says Angela Wachuka, executive director of Kenya's Kwani Trust, which publishes the popular Kwani? literary journal. "Before, you had to rely on delivery or people coming to find you."
Mobile internet now accounts for well over half of all web traffic in some African countries, and it is expected to grow 25-fold on the continent in the next four years, according to the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, an industry organization.