If you're a journalist in the trenches, chances are you're too busy and too poor to attend (and your publisher is too poor to send you to) SXSW Interactive, the annual to-do where all the smart, well-funded bastards go to interact with other smart, well-funded bastards who can afford to think for five minutes about how to get us all out of this goddamn mess we're in.
Last week, the inimitable John Hodgman (above, backstage) appeared at the Coolidge Corner Theatre to talk about his new book. (You can read my interview with him here.) It was epic. Ted Leo performed a mini concert, Hodgman orchestrated a script reading of an imaginary competitive hoarding reality show, and a young fella proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes!).
Joan Didion wore a purple scarf and her trademark oversized glasses last night at the sold-out Harvard Book Store-sponsored event at First Parish Church in Cambridge. She was in town to promote her new book, the heartbreaking “Blue Nights,” which concerns the death of her daughter and which can, and likely will, be read as a macabre follow-up to 2005’s deeply affecting “The Year of Magical Thinking,” about the death of her husband.
We're going to go out on a limb and bet that you'll never find yourself listening in on a conversation between these four people again. Thankfully, we've got it on tape. So here it is: this year's "Far Out Fiction" event from the 2011 BOSTON BOOK FESTIVAL.
Our own GENIE WILLIAMSON hosted Saturday's most talent-packed panel at Trinity Church.
There he was: DONNIE ANDREWS, whom most Wire-heads know as "the real Omar." (Even bigger Wire-heads will tell you that Omar is a composite, but Andrews is the biggest contributor to the aggregate.) He was explaining the irony of how, before his prison stint and conversion into a community activist, white women would clutch their handbags when he walked by.
August means two things: it's ice cream weather, and Morrissey's just said something stupid.
Okay, the latter isn't really dependent on the time of year, but it's still true. Equally true is how the Ben & Jerry's truck
is spending the month inspiring childlike glee by dispensing free ice
cream, so there's no better time to answer the dual burning questions
"What can Morrissey's unfiltered utterances teach me?" and "Man, how
cool would it be to drive an ice cream truck?"
William Gibson has been called the father of cyberpunk and coined the
term "cyberspace" back when Internet was little more than a twinkle in DARPA's eye.
That's enough to mean that he's probably developed a fan base devout
enough to build shrines in his honor, or at least commemorative iPad
if you ask Gibson himself -- like one audience member did during a
Brookline Booksmith reading at the Coolidge Corner Theatre last year --
it still doesn't make him a celebrity.
There may be no bigger gluttons for punishment than touring musicians -- and as proof, monthly storytelling series/cringefest "This Has Been A Disaster- Thanks For Having Us"
returns for Round 3 tomorrow night at Toad. For this installment, the
folks joining hosts Ryan Walsh and Steve Almond to grace the stage with
their mortifying tales of gig hell will be Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine), Ben Potrykus (Girlfriends, Christians & Lions), and Amy Correia
are alarmingly unprepared for this," emcee Ryan Walsh announced to his
audience on a Sunday night last month at Toad. As if to prove his point, co-host Steve Almond
was still trying to figure out his stage persona mid-show. (He
ultimately settled on "nonsexual criminal.") But there's no need to fear
catastrophic awkwardness here -- welcome to "This Has Been a Disaster -
Thanks For Having Us," a monthly storytelling series devoted to
real-life tales of gigs gone wrong.
Scared? We are too. And so is author Siva Vaidhyanathan, who read from his recent release The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) at the Harvard Book Store earlier this afternoon.
But if you happened to miss it -- or if you walked out of there craving more, MORE -- we've got just the ticket for you, pulled from our own bottomless podcast vault: two readings from similarly tech-wary authors Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains) and William Powers (Hamlet's Blackberry):
Dust off that VCR grandma gave you in '82 and get ready for the VHS revival! Despite the 3D-IMAX-bells-and-whistles craze happening at your local 65 theatre movie-plex, hardcore videotape collectors are patrolling the web for hundred dollar copies of grindhouse flicks you've never even heard of. Why would these Luddites spend hard-earned recession-era dollars on obsolescence you may ask?
Here's a campaign shocker: RACHEL MADDOW is still not running for Scott Brown's seat. Apparently that full page Globe ad last year wasn't enough for the Huffington Post, the Boston Herald, and eight zillion blogs. It wasn't really true until she showed up at Harvard on Sunday night and made an offhanded comment about it.
"What an amazing building," says DAVID RAKOFF, gazing around at the historic Trinity Church in Copley Square. "I'm going to besmirch it with filth."
Thus began his reading from "Isn't It Romantic," one of the essays in his recent Half Empty. Perhaps you're not familiar with it, but you should be: an epic, bawdy, and dead-fucking-on takedown of the musical Rent, an "insidious middle class lie" that has somehow became more untouchable than 9/11.
NICK BILTON is one of the people we listen to most closely on tech. Now the Times' lead technology writer, he's a veteran of New York Press (during that publication's golden years) and of the Times's research-and-development lab. In his new book, I Live In the Future and Here's How It Works, he begins by checking in on an industry often credited with pushing digital innovation -- yep, porn -- and discovers that it has suffered a death just as ugly as any entrenched old-media vertical.
Every book festival needs legendary dudes like DENNIS LEHANE and TOM PERROTTA -- the kinds of authors whose stories are famous even to people who don't read books. The awesome thing about Lehane and Perrotta is that they've both given far more than their celebrity to the cause: last year Lehane used his star power to throw some shine on Boston's lesser-known mystery authors in Boston Noir, a compendium whose launch party headlined the inaugural Boston Book Festival.
Neil Gaiman presumably could not be torn away from his young goth bride, and Joyce Carol Oates had already been hired to give the keynote. But the two most famous contributors to My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: 40 New Fairy Tales-- an anthology of "new stories sewn from old skins" -- are not necessarily its best.
Inspiration is seldom as easy as it seems. One of the lessons of STEVEN JOHNSON's Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation is that "Eureka!" moments -- sudden pinpoints of revelation -- are usually myths. Instead of coming like a flash of light, great ideas simmer. They benefit from intellectual incubation And this panel, also featuring one inventor, one surgeon, and one designer, is its own greenhouse of genius.
This program was titled, optimistically, "ISRAEL/PALESTINE: NOVEL APPROACHES." Alas, it turned into "Israel/Palestine: Same Old Shit." Well, what did you expect? Put human canonball Alan Dershowitz on a panel with the Palestinian novelist Susan Abulhawa, a daughter of 1967 refugees, and you've got a new version of the old saw: Boston went to an argument about the Israel/Palestine situation and a book reading nearly broke out.
pretty safe to say that no one makes monsters quite like director
Guillermo Del Toro makes monsters. I mean, not only did the dude's
imagination spit out the gorgeously grotesque fairy talePan's Labyrinth, it was also responsible for the creepy crawly creatures of Mimic and the motley crew of do-gooders in the Hellboymovies