Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bradfield Holiday Cheer

Get yourself into the spirit of the season with a short story from Scott Bradfield's 2005 collection, Hot Animal Love, called 'The Anti-Santa' which will be broadcast Christmas Eve on Renassiance 104.4 sometime between 8pm and Midnight. I'm sure there's some way to stream the broadcast from the web. Or you can go to the source and download the recording from the Spoken Ink website.

The Washington Post has called Bradfield "a master chronicler of the absurdity, emptiness, and beauty that riddle modern life," and 'The Anti-Santa' sounds as though it fits the bill:

"Christmas is a-coming and Santa, throbbing with fairy dust and subliminal advertising, is out with the prezzies. Poor old Anti-Santa who wants children to grow into mature, well-rounded and responsible citizens, is not having a very good night. Things go from bad, to worse to awful when his present of parsley is turned down by a six year old and he gets attacked for being a smart-ass."

Kassie Rose, book critic at WOSU, our NPR-affiliate here in central Ohio, raved about Bradfield's fifth novel, The People Who Watched Her Pass By upon it's publication in April, saying: "This short novel is a wake-up call shouting Bradfield's humorously erudite take on modern American life." The book made the critic's year-end best-of list as well, which is very cool and very much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Big Ups, Sanjay Bisht

Apparently we belong on the West Coast. I feel like it would be kinda like the Bee Girl finding all those other Bee People in the Blind Melon video for 'No Rain.' We lived in San Diego for two years and are often haunted by the urge to return.

Here's another West Coast-er who has gotten the TDR tat, Sanjay Bisht out of San Francisco. I think Shawn Mitchell, of Carbondale, IL, is the only one not stationed on the left coast who has gotten the tattoo.

From Sanjay: "After touching down in the middle of the delta blues in the middle of the pouring rain, I went to sit in the dock of the bay, and ran into my teenage hobo vampire junkie friends. We sucked down GK's Orange Eats Creeps, and craved more Two Dollar Radio blood and hence the tattoo!"

Big Ups, Brian Manning

Here's a guy named Brian Manning out of Portland, Oregon, who heard about our Tattoo Subscription offer (get a Two Dollar Radio-logo tattoo, get TDR books for free for life) from the MobyLives blog.
Brian claims to have a video, so you may be seeing that sometime soon . . .

Monday, December 20, 2010

Big Ups, Shawn Mitchell

Shawn Mitchell done got inked up in November, and while we've had his pic up in our virtual wall of fame since then, I'm just now getting around to posting a note to this here blog.

Shawn is "pursuing my MFA in fiction at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. I contribute to the Fiction Writers Review, and my fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Torpedo, NANO Fiction, and Crafty Magazine. This bio sounds so formal compared to the others. I like your books. I like your colophon. I'm looking forward to having both around."

You should also lay your eyeballs upon this often hilarious interview Shawn did largely concerning his tattoo with Fiction Advocate.

CAVELIGHT FILMS: Cost of Construction

Cost of Construction Pitch Reel from CaveLight Films on Vimeo.

Our friend, Jordan Ehrlich, started his own production company called CaveLight Films. From the start they've been putting together some fantastic and impressive projects. Their latest is a documentary on the safety of American workers, called 'Cost of Construction.' The film unravels a national scandal, where the race for profits trumped the safety of American workers while the country’s top safety agency failed to enforce their own regulations - all during the most expensive commercial construction project in the United States. Apparently, an average of 4 workers die every day in America.

'Cost of Construction' is on its latest stage of production and could use some financial shoving to help it cross the finish line. To help support CaveLight's efforts, you can make a tax deductible donation here.

And be sure to check out the other CaveLight happenings on their website.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yet Another Solution to the Health Care Crisis

Walgreens now provides flu shots, advertising that they’re covered by most health insurance policies and you don’t have to bother with long waits and the difficulty of getting an appointment from your healthcare provider. If you go into a Walgreens, the pharmacist will come out from behind the cash register where he or she normally takes prescriptions, put on rubber gloves and expertly plunge the syringe into your bicep muscle. With the Obama health plan still jeopardized by Republican attempts to whittle down its impact, discount pharmacy chains, which are proliferating virally, may soon take up the slack. Does it seem implausible that pharmacists will do prostate and colorectal exams? Will there be a room in the back of Walgreens with stirrups so that the pharmacist can offer Pap smears on the go? If I’m having chest pains, will I go into a Walgreens to get an EKG? And if I’m suffering from a headache, might I pop in for an fMRI before I bother to take two Tylenols. Pharmacists are not trained to take the place of doctors—they fill prescriptions rather than prescribing. But there are a thousand other tasks associated with your yearly physical that could easily be handled by a discount pharmacy chain. Amongst these are the taking of pulse and body temperature, X-raying the lungs, examining the eyes for dilation (something many pharmacists who are experienced in dealing with addicts have practical experience in doing) and measuring for height and weight. And who’s to say that the average pharmacist can’t triage, performing minor and even major surgery when necessary? Is it farfetched to think that the solution to our healthcare crisis may lie in the big discount pharmacy chains: Walgreens, Duane Reade, CVS and Rite-Aid? What about having a triple-bypass at Duane Reade instead of merely renewing your Lipitor? What about having a prefrontal lobotomy, which makes it unnecessary to continue coming back for SSRI’s. Want therapy? What better place to start than under the harsh white light of the pharmacy, with its shelves of condoms, lubricants and pregnancy test kits? Suffering from appendicitis? Walk over to your CVS in the next decade and the infected organ will be removed by liposuction. Perhaps Walgreens and the other big chains will start making deliveries, and not just of drugs. A pharmacist is not a licensed doctor or surgeon, and some procedures might not work out. But what M.D. bats a thousand?

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

127 Hours

Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours is a perfect film school assignment. How to make a movie about a guy who is trapped by a rock—more specifically, a rock that pins his arm so that he can’t move from the brooding beauty of a remote crevice that threatens to become his tomb? It’s also a parody of the notion of individualism and independence. The character of Aron (James Franco) is as industrious as the actor who plays him, and whose hyperactive productivity has been widely documented lately. Aron is haunted throughout the action by the fact that he never returned a telephone call from his mother or told anyone where he was going when he set off on his own for the mountains. If he had told someone, they might have noticed he was gone in time to save him. The answer to the film school assignment, if you are not a student but legendary director Danny Boyle, is to have a flair for fantasy and for depicting the mind in a state of shock. The famous toilet sequence of Trainspotting is the embryo of Boyle’s style, and its swirling appears like a footnote in the scenes involving liquids, whether they be water or urine. On the matter of bodily functions, it’s lucky that the real-life character Franco plays was not a vegetarian, as he might have had qualms about drinking his own blood, as he does to survive in the movie. On the matter of fantasy, there are two kinds that the movie depicts: that which occurs in Aron’s head and that which is played out for the camera Aron uses to record his experience. At one point, Aron realizes his fantasy life when he masturbates while looking at a photo of a female hiker he’d met along the way. “This rock has been waiting for me its entire life, waiting to come here, right here. I’ve been moving towards it my whole life,” he says. Ironically, Aron’s statement is discountenanced by the sudden turn-around of his predicament that the movie so brilliantly portrays. One moment he is free, insouciant, daring reality, and the next he is totally humbled and reduced. There is no build-up, no intimation of the fate that will befall him, unless of course you’ve read the reviews.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eulogy to Those Who March to the Beat of a Different Drummer

“He marched to the beat of a different drummer” is a derogatory description of the non-conformist. We are all supposed to goose-step to the same drummer, and anyone who heeds a different beat will not be the kind of majorette we want in our parade. Those who march to the beat of a different drummer end up who knows where. Do they become toy soldiers? Do they end up encased in those novelty crystal balls with the fake snow? Do they wind up as prostitutes or worse? Do they get syphilis and go mad like Oswald in Ibsen’s Ghosts (a play whose greatness may not be sufficiently credited by contemporary critics)? The Unabomber Ted Kaczynski marched to the beat of a different drummer. He had brains and talents that could have made him rich, but he chose to live like a hermit and hurt people. The average member of our band of weary travelers who marches to the beat of a different drummer isn’t so extreme. You can usually identify someone who is going to be out of step even before they set foot on the pavement. Firstly, those who march to the beat of a different drummer are usually the ones who don’t realize they have a big glob of green snot hanging from their nose. Then there are the ones who locate the snot and see nothing wrong with eating it. If you have ever gone to the St. Patrick’s Day parade and seen a majorette out of step because they are trying to eat their own snot at the same time as they’re marching, you will know exactly what we mean. Does anyone remember Tiny Tim or Arnold Stang, who did the Chunky commercials? They both marched to the beat of different drummers, but neither ate their own snot or sent lethal packages to computer scientists in the mail.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fuck You!

You can say something is bullshit, which means it is as worthless as the feces of bull, but how did fucking become an adjective? Fucking, as we all know, began its life as a gerund, referring to the act of sexual intercourse. It then evolved into a modifier, as in the case of a woman on 23rd Street the other day who was overheard angrily saying, “You take the fucking car.” But how did the adjectival form of the noun come to take on the same connotation as the imperative of the verb, as in “fuck you”? Now, “fuck you” means you will get fucked, which is basically a nice idea, unless fuck in some way implies that in being fucked rather than doing the fucking you are getting the lesser end of the deal, as in Philip Larkin’s famous line, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.” For instance, people who feel they have been taken advantage of frequently refer to themselves as “being fucked in the ass.” But there are lots of people, male and female, who enjoy being buggered—at least an equal number (if not more) than those who enjoy doing the buggering. It all doesn’t make a helluva lot of sense, but there is no mystery to language. Idioms tell us something, and the message in “fucking,” “fuck you” and “fucked in the ass” is that there is something about a normally pleasant experience that is not pleasant. This negative association seems to derive from the folksy and now anachronistic notion that it is better to be the giver than the receiver, better to penetrate than be the one who is penetrated. But passivity and vulnerability, as we all must realize at some point, are highly successful ways of gaining knowledge.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Waste Land

Lucy Walker’s Waste Land is a film about Vik Muniz, the Brazilian artist who, to put it euphemistically, uses organic matter in his art. The net result of his preoccupation, which started with making portraits of children out of sugar to point out the sweetness that was missing in their lives, becomes a project based on the Jardim Gramacho, the enormous garbage dump in Rio where equality finally asserts itself when the waste produced by millionaires is mixed with that of the impoverished occupants of the favelas. The catadores who occupy the dump are pickers of recyclable goods. From the beginning, comparison with the artist is unavoidable—the artist recycles reality just as the pickers recycle garbage, transforming often-painful circumstances into beauty. The dump, in fact, looked at from afar, resembles a palette, in much the way that Monet’s water lilies assume their form when looked at from the distance. Muniz, who himself grew up in a poor family, employs extensive art historical referents. In one iconic setup, for instance, he employs a pose based on David's Marat, using a tub that has been extricated from the garbage. The dump’s resident intellectual, an autodidact who has read a volume of Machiavelli’s The Prince that he found in the detritus, compares Rio to the world of Machiavelli and its fiefdoms. The transformative power of art is another theme the film explores, since Muniz looked at the film as a social act, in which his pickers would participate in and profit from the production of art. The project that Munoz describes is utopian, in that it aims at liberation, and yet it is curiously Candidian. The film ends with Muniz offering a whole new world and life to his subjects (one of the most affecting scenes takes place at an auction in London where the work is being sold off), whose expectations are heightened and whose ability to survive without him must be a source of concern to both Muniz and anyone who views the filmic document of this esthetic and social experiment.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This is Mail Worth Rifling Through

Pics above from Bookshop Santa Cruz, Grace Krilanovich's hometown, where the book was a staff favorite for the year. For those who missed it, Grace had a great big essay on the LA Times website yesterday, talking about her experience publishing The Orange Eats Creeps and it's path toward her being selected as one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35.

W Magazine took '5 Minutes' with Xiaoda Xiao to discuss his new memoir-in-stories, The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life. This is an intense, incredibly ambitious book -- tell your friends and friends' friends about it!
The Fanzine, a great site that regularly features the work of some talented writers like Kevin Sampsell, Dennis Cooper, Trinie Dalton et al, ran an excerpt from Barbara Browning's forthcoming novel, The Correspondence Artist, called 'La Rire de la Meduse.' It's a long-ish excerpt, which is the nice thing about the web and a place like The Fanzine, that they can publish longer pieces and disregard word and page counts.
So that's a truck-load of reading material that'll hopefully keep you busy for a while.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Big Ups, Small Beer

It hurts my soul that our books are available through Amazon. It's like that guilt from not recycling something or leaving an unnecessary light on.

This is a great quote from 'Books After Amazon' by Onnesha Roychoudhuri in the Nov/Dec issue of Boston Review:

"For small publishers Amazon provides unprecedented access to a larger audience of customers. The costs of reaching this audience can, however, outweigh the benefits. For Gavin Grant, keeping Small Beer Press afloat without slashing already-modest author royalties means making cuts in advertising and marketing budgets. Grant isn’t shy about Amazon’s role in keeping him in this tight spot: “If I meet a reader and they say, ‘I buy all your books through Amazon,’ I often say to them, ‘That’s great for Amazon, that’s great for the shipper. It does nothing for me, and it doesn’t do much for the author.’”

On a more chipper note, I'm obsessed with this band: