the age of the blog

A brief check-in, taking the form of a rather belated PSA: notable Internet user and Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, 32, has taken down the final post on his erstwhile blog "Internet Vibes"—yes, the post entitled "I HATE BLOGGING," after which we never heard from Mr. Koenig again.

30 July 2016

(It's a well-known post, previously referenced on this very blog.)

You see the lone difference between the two snapshots, barring their dimensions. "New Age Family Vacation Alert" simply preceded "I HATE BLOGGING" chronologically; it's not new material. (When are we getting that from Vampire Weekend, by the way?) It seems that "I HATE BLOGGING" (the post) has disappeared from the blog. It's not much of a reach to thus presume that "I HATE BLOGGING" (the sentiment) has disappeared from Mr. Koenig's heart.

5 October 2016

Perhaps Mr. Koenig sensed the winds of change before the rest of us and used that simple "delete post" operation to tell us—us being his fans, who all tend to skim the headlines every morning, by choice or not—this. The age of the press is, sadly, over. The age of the blog (or the one-man newspaper, take your pick) has begun anew. Stay tuned.


2016: six books you'll like and several you might

[An aside: 2017, for me, is the year I do away with reading challenges -- because a) certain things took precedence, rightly, over my book-a-week goal this year and will continue to do so in coming years, b) if I'm ever going to finish The Making of the Atomic Bomb once and for all, I'll have to spend a solid summer on it, and c) in times like these -- not the times that try men's souls, but the ones leading up to them, if we're lucky -- I'd like to reread the complete works of Laura Ingalls Wilder.]

6. ON WOMEN AND REVOLUTION (Crystal Eastman) if you can find it.
Crystal Eastman (1881-1928; prolific writer, co-founder of the ACLU) was an extraordinary woman, but the titular and is an extraordinarily misleading and. I picked up this long out-of-print book (here!) in the hope that each essay inside addressed women and revolution together, but On Women and Revolution is in fact divided into two parts: Crystal Eastman on Women and (surprise) Crystal Eastman on Revolution. The former section is, I think, of more interest to the casual feminist than the latter is to the casual leftist; Eastman's writings on feminism are at once mordant (Winston Churchill is "full of beans" to her) and moving, and it's worth noting just how many of her concerns remain our concerns -- a full century later.

(Almost) as before: #5 through #1 + extras, under the cut.


here lies harry potter (1997-2016)

(his creator killed him)

Let's get this out of the way: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them isn't a particularly good film. It's like J.K. Rowling tried to combine the childlike whimsy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with the rather grown-up plots and characters of her Cormoran Strike novels. If that sounds like it wouldn't work -- well, it didn't work. Fantastic Beasts doesn't have a cohesive "feel": it never quite decides whether it wants to embody the spirit of its namesake book or be, uh, vaguely American Gothic? (Who knows, honestly?) Rowling also seems to have attempted to write a novel instead of a screenplay: Fantastic Beasts is full of throwaway dialogue that works beautifully as character development in her later, 800-page Harry Potter books, but that sort of thing doesn't work so beautifully in a two-hour film whose most interesting character is a Niffler.

Now, if you ask the Harry Potter fanbase, many of the eight Harry Potter movies aren't particularly good films either -- but the books they're based on are wonderful. After all, that's why Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone became a film in the first place. Fantastic Beasts is a blatant attempt to cash in on the franchise's enduring popularity, and its inspiration isn't a beloved children's story, but a spin-off book that was itself a blatant attempt to cash in on the franchise's popularity (for charity, so I won't complain too much). Like most mistakes, the Fantastic Beasts film would be forgivable if Rowling and Yates promised to never do anything like it again, but --


a choice bit of titus andronicus 3.2, before it becomes thoroughly objectionable

Peace, tender sapling; thou art made of tears,
And tears will quickly melt thy life away.

[MARCUS strikes the dish with a knife.]

What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife?

At that that I have kill'd, my lord; a fly.

Out on thee, murderer! thou kill'st my heart;
Mine eyes are cloy'd with view of tyranny:
A deed of death done on the innocent
Becomes not Titus' brother: get the gone:
I see thou art not for my company.

Alas, my lord, I have but kill'd a fly.

But how, if that fly hd a father and moth?
How would he hang his slender gilded wings,
And buzz lamented doings in the air!
Poor harmless fly,
That, with his pretty buzzing melody,
Came here to make us merry! and thou hast
kill'd him.


la gloire + la guerre

The current political climate makes particularly relevant Combeferre's little anti-imperial staircase-ditty at the end of Les Misérables III.V*, which goes like:
Si César m'avait donné
la gloire et la guerre,
et qu'il me fallût quitter
l'amour de ma mère;
Je dirais au grand César,
"Reprends ton sceptre et ton char!
J'aime mieux ma mère, o gué!
J'aime mieux ma mère!"**


how do you solve a problem like marija?

Only a few months ago, I described a particular HAUNTING and promised updates --


ten books i can in good conscience recommend to almost every single one of you (+ some i can't)

[out of all the ones I read in 2015, the full list of which you can find here.]

10. A MADMAN DREAMS OF TURING MACHINES (Janna Levin) if you like the idea of logic more than you like logic itself.
A brilliant little book that's highly speculative in its detailing of the lives and loves and genius and internal suffering of Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing: but Levin doesn't seek to depict these men with total accuracy (this is a work of fiction, after all) so much as she wants to make us feel the beauty and revolutionary nature of their ideas, contrasted with the ultimately tragic lives they led -- wracked as both were with loneliness, illness and the myriad punishments of nonconformity. Their ideas intersect as their lives parallel each other (resulting in a few genius storytelling moments) and (bonus!) the book's held together by the ever-present Wittgenstein. (I maintain that he's haunting me.)

#9 through #1 + extras, under the cut.