The year in pictures, part two.

Almost there. Not quite yet though…

But, man, what a frustrating year.

I felt like Tyler Coates‘ picture here summed up what my attitude was going into this year. And what all of our attitudes should’ve been. As it always should be.

And now Alec Baldwin sums up how I felt about this year.

Though this year has brought some things that I desperately wanted to see.

Or never thought I would see (all together in the same club).

Or things that I would be okay never seeing again.

And some things, things from my childhood, came to an end.

Some things, I think, I realized I was glad to see go.

And it really hit me in this past year that some things will not last forever.

And some of those things are through. Professionally, I mean.

Oh well. Shit happens. Things come. And things go.

And they keep going.

It’s all about perspective.

Isn’t that what they say?

This was the year of hope.

This was the year of rejections.

This was the year of saying that you wanted a revolution.

And it was also the year where you said, “Could you try not to rub your beard up against my forest of tears?”

It was about new things.

And new things to regret (in the morning)(probably)(but hopefully not).

It was, for me, the year I just accepted the often hellish, nonstop barrage of celebrity bullshit.

…Especially in the face of weird hookups that I just can’t condone.

And seeing things I loved shat upon.

But these things happen.

We hold onto the good.

And let go of the bad.

Time to dust yourself off.

Maybe you’ve learned some things. About life, the world, and yourself.

And made some decisions.

And had some fun.

But just remember…

It’s easy to ride off into the sunset.

It’s hard to still be there when the sun rises. But that’s where the true excitement and the fun lay.

Hopefully we’ll see you there.

from here.


Incognitum Hactenus.

Just a quick note here, from Shoplifting From American Apparel to the book I’m currently reading over the holiday…

It’s Cyclonopedia by Reza Negarestani, which I first discovered in a quick mention on Warren Ellis’ website, and the description of it alone told me that I just had to have it. That description:

Cyclonopedia is theoretical-fiction novel by Iranian philosopher and writer Reza Negarestani. Hailed by novelists, philosophers and cinematographers, Negarestani’s work is the first horror and science fiction book coming from and written on the Middle East.

‘The Middle East is a sentient entity—it is alive!’ concludes renegade Iranian archaeologist Dr. Hamid Parsani, before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. The disordered notes he leaves behind testify to an increasingly deranged preoccupation with oil as the ‘lubricant’ of historical and political narratives.

A young American woman arrives in Istanbul to meet a pseudonymous online acquaintance who never arrives. Discovering a strange manuscript in her hotel room, she follows up its cryptic clues only to discover more plot-holes, and begins to wonder whether her friend was a fictional quantity all along.

Meanwhile, as the War on Terror escalates, the US is dragged into an asymmetrical engagement with occultures whose principles are ancient, obscure, and saturated in oil. It is as if war itself is feeding upon the warmachines, leveling cities into the desert, seducing the aggressors into the dark heart of oil …

At once a horror fiction, a work of speculative theology, an atlas of demonology, a political samizdat and a philosophic grimoire, CYCLONOPEDIA is work of theory-fiction on the Middle East, where horror is restlessly heaped upon horror. Reza Negarestani bridges the appalling vistas of contemporary world politics and the War on Terror with the archaeologies of the Middle East and the natural history of the Earth itself. CYCLONOPEDIA is a middle-eastern Odyssey, populated by archeologists, jihadis, oil smugglers, Delta Force officers, heresiarchs, corpses of ancient gods and other puppets. The journey to the Underworld begins with petroleum basins and the rotting Sun, continuing along the tentacled pipelines of oil, and at last unfolding in the desert, where monotheism meets the Earth’s tarry dreams of insurrection against the Sun.

I can tell you right now that comparisons to Danielewski’s House Of Leaves aren’t too off the mark, but this is much more “theory” than “fiction” in the “theory fiction.” And a lot of it is scary true.

One review, by Pamela Rosenkranz of Artforum International’s best of 2009 gives an even more descriptive review:

An American artist, Kristen Alvanson – out of curiosity or simply boredom, it’s not clear – travels to Istanbul to meet a mysterious online contact. The contact never turns up. However, Kristen, as she relates in her jour­nal, does find a manuscript called Cyclonopedia, which in turn purports to be based on the disturbing and dis­ordered notes of an Iranian archaeologist who disappeared while researching a very eccentric theory about oil’s role in history. So begins Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (published by Melbourne’s, a nihilistic but fanciful tour de force of meta-­fiction. Kristen, in addition to being a character, is the creator of the book’s magnificent cover; she is credited on the title page beneath Reza Negarestani, who is the book’s author – and also the author of the manuscript Kristen finds. In this welter of attributions, of course, it becomes doubtful whether Negarestani really wrote the book at all, but whoever the author is, he or she has a profound knowledge of, or a profound imagination about, Middle Eastern archaeology and Islamic mythol­ogy, to say nothing of contemporary petropolitics.

Apocalyptic visions and solar catastrophes have been making their way into my own work, so Cyclonopedia feels especially resonant to me, but its urgency isn’t just personal. The text strips away its own layers to reach a bedrock of premonotheistic symbols and tropes subverting, as it goes, common understandings of “East” and “West” and the relation of these ideas to each other. Creating its own lexis via a Deleuzian philosophical constructivism, building a quasi-scientific machine with madly beautiful illustrations, Cyclonopedia is marked by a peculiar theoretical style. It discovers hid­den paths to a kind of chthonic knowledge; from its speculative abyss issues a horrific “philosophy of oil.” Gazing into this confounding complexity of groundless grounds thrilled my new awareness.

Clearly, the fact that all of that interests me confirms that I’m possibly insane. But it’s fun. And being an fun mental case means you need interesting things to read. I wasn’t feeling too well last night and was up most of the night with this book keeping me company. Perfect late night reading.

from here.

I may talk about it more when I finish it, but as of now (and I should hurry so that I can actively follow the progress of the sequel, which is currently being developed), I’m enjoying it. And… I’m terrified of it. And that’s perfect.

The end of time, part one.


This is a Doctor Who post. Sort of.

I should talk about the part one finale of the Tenth Doctor era, “The End Of Time, Part One,” but instead, especially in the spirit of the approaching New Year, this is about the anticipation of the concluding episode, which airs on New Year’s day in the UK, and the day after here in the colonies.

If I were to talk about part one, I’d tell you that it was a truly silly and ridiculous episode, just incredibly over the top at times. But wonderful. Just perfectly strange and nonsensical at times, but then within that wildnerness of weird, you’d get little scenes, like the one between David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins in the cafe. With just the faintest possibility of a tear in my eye, I could probably watch that scene again and again.

Also, thank you mightily Timothy Dalton for all that Time Lord spittle.

Definitely something that I think the thespians in America need to appropriate from across the Atlantic: The glorious art of just throwing some of your own saliva in another actor’s faces while chewing the scenery. Making someone blink and possibly having to take a handkerchief to their face is really what should decide who gets Oscars and things like that these days.

Play along at home:

from here.

Now, some mad linkage as the year draws to a close…

Ricky Jay and the secrets of the magus.

The man who is scaling Mt. Criterion film by film.

Julie Klausner and the end of the 00s.

15 reasons to live for the next ten years. If a meteorite doesn’t kill you, that is…

The Russians are going to chip in to save the Earth from destruction via meteorite in 2032. I remember reading about 99942 Apophis, the asteroid that will get dangerously close to our planet two decades from now and emailing a few people about it, not freaking out or anything, just saying, “You know, this is kind of interesting.” And I remember people telling me, “If this was a big deal, we would’ve heard something by now.” The time is now.

Notes on A Lover’s Discourse.

My Dinner With Andre is online.

Why do so many terrorists have engineering degrees?

Dear Benjamin, Light: Ap-Ro-Po. You cunt.

Jeff Dunham’s show has thankfully been canceled.

The sudden exoticism of Africa, and how ridiculous such a notion is.

Joeblog, you are missed.

Dylan Moran’s Black Books is on Hulu!

Republicans, Obama, and failed airplane bombs.

This article linked here: 2009. Independent film. Brave. Free thinkers.

Clean your screen.

The year in pictures, part one.

…but not for much longer.

Midnight In Dostoevsky” by Don DeLillo, who has a new novel in 2010!

Plotting the ruination of Radiohead?

Lady Gaga and the Queen.

This is easily the film I’m most looking forward to next year.

2009 was the year to set aside childish things. Namely, the last eight years.

Putin to retire soon? “Don’t hold your breath,” he says.

“Like taking candy from someone who seriously likes candy.”

There’s always time in time and space to stop and smell the flowers.

from here.

There’s water on the moon!

What this decade has been lacking thus far: Authenticity.

Who’s your favorite Beatle?

The end of love, part one.

Person of the year?

Is this what the culture’s come to?

You know what, don’t answer that.

Going where others have gone before.

Iran pisses on itself just a little more.

“You better be in fear.”

If you are neighbors with Sarah Palin, I guess that puts you within visual range of Russia?

New terror in the skies?

First rap is dead, then love (part two)?

Serious contender for best picture of the year, right?

Both Winston Churchill and Pynchon love inherent vices.



New Justice.

Hacker of the year?

Just think about all the sex you’ve had in the past year (or should have been having.)

MISS U, Batman (though not for much longer).

MISS/LUV U, Juliet.

Tiger Woods killed Brittany Murphy!

“Memes” and “Contraflow.”

I saw her again last night.”

Birds successfully begin phase one of their attack on humanity.

In the year full of recurring royalty and ending love affairs, of course the king of pop songs would die. Makes me want to scream.

Was 2009 the year of sci fi?

The end of love, part three.

To be continued!

The Fucked Generation.

This is a picture of Tao Lin:

This is his new book, his fifth, Shoplifting From American Apparel:

This is a picture of his new book, Shoplifting From American Apparel, which is a novella, being sold at an Urban Outfitters:

from here, here, and also here.

And this, that which you’re about to read, is my review of Shoplifting From American Apparel, a review I am calling: “Oscar Wilde said a genius is a spectator to their own life, to the point that the real genius is uninteresting.” Please enjoy.

Before I begin, you can click here is an excerpt from the novella.

Or, you can click here for another excerpt.

Or, you can click here for yet another excerpt.

And click here for an interesting interview with Tao Lin over at The Rumpus.

The plot of  the largely autobiographical Shoplifting From American Apparel, which was originally a short story in Vice, is a simple one: Two years in the life of Sam, a New York writer with a cult-like following, as he moves through life, dealing with “two parts shoplifting arrests, five parts vague relationship issues,” hanging out with friends, talking on gmail chat (from here on referred to simply as “g-chat” or just “g chat”), “feeling” and discovering “things” all from a surface perspective. It is a story that is described by it’s author as “a shoplifting book about vague relationships,” or more accurately, “an ultimately life-affirming book about how the unidirectional nature of time renders everything beautiful and sad.”

One review has compared the author and his new novella to this piece of internet art…

…and it’s an interesting comparison, and a somewhat accurate one, for sure. That particular piece of art, like I said, is one that I’ve seen online many a place (especially in the world of tumblr) and likewise, Tao Lin is an author that I could only discover online. Tao Lin is a creature that could only be nurtured and pushed forward by the internet, whether it be his interesting “PR stunts,” constant self promotion, or his sponsorship team up with Hipster Runoff’s Carles (and I’m still not convinced that they’re not one and the same), and likewise, the main character of his novella, Sam, of whom the essential DNA is supplied by Tao Lin himself, is a character who is constantly talking to friends through via g-chat, hanging out with people he’s met through the internet, or living the life of a young man “caught in the soft blue light of Internet Explorer.”

Speaking of the internet and Tao Lin’s “PR stunts,” I should mention that in the spirit of full disclosure that a few weeks ago Tao Lin offered a free copy of his book to anyone who agreed to review it online. Now, I consider myself a “fan” of the author, but free? The price was certainly right. This is a recession after all. Review? Gladly. And a previous “PR stunt” by the author was to offer a free copy of his book to anyone who blogged 1500 words about him (or posted at least a 500 line g-chat about him online), something that Peanut St. Cosmo and myself were very seriously planning on doing (but were collectively too lazy to finish).

Speaking of which, here is a picture of the lovely and amazing Peanut St. Cosmo reading Tao Lin’s first novel, Eeeee Eee Eeee:

The simple gist of any review about Shoplifting From American Apparel from yours truly: I enjoyed it quite a bit, with some reservations. Then, as I pondered it over the course of an afternoon, then an evening, then a week that followed, I realized that I enjoyed it quite a bit. As a character within the novella would say, I liked how it made me feel. It’s not a book for everyone, nor is Tao Lin an author for everyone, but as I said, it all goes back to the internet. Those who would seek out such a book and author will be happily rewarded. Tao Lin, though a bit “twee” of course, is a brave step forward, both a lover of literature and someone who seems to want to live in literature, immersed in it’s warmth, and to help further fan it’s flames. If you have a problem with that, you should probably stick with your fucking James Patterson books.

Even more simply put, Tao Lin is not my favorite author. Not even close, I’m afraid. But he is the living author that I most want to succeed. The next time he goes to check his Amazon rankings, I hope he’ll find that they’ll have risen exponentially and that he will feel “happy.”

I mention the author quite a bit because it seems that you can’t talk about his books without doing so. Sure, his writing is minimalist, and yeah, it dabbles in “K-mart realism” at times, but it’s also aggressively one of a kind. It saddens me that 9 out of 10 articles/reviews/write ups about him just have to mention (including this write up to now, it would seem) that his blog, once upon a time, was called “READER OF DEPRESSING BOOKS.” Then, as a joke, he changed it’s title to “SERIOUS LITERATURE.”

And now, appropriately, it’s simply called “heheheheheheheeheheheehehe.”

An early review of Shoplifting From American Apparel compared it to a hipster version of My Dinner With André. I like that. I mean, I like Louis Malle’s My Dinner With André, quite a bit in fact, but maybe I don’t like hipsters so much. I consider myself quite the opposite of a hipster, though I do like a lot of the same things they do. So, at the point I read that review, I was all jazzed for a novel that was nothing but a transcript of a g-chat between two people. I can live with that, I figured, if I could enjoy two men talking about life and themselves and exploring the existential dread and ennui all around them in My Dinner With André, or if I could enjoy two people talking about sex in Nicholson Baker’s Vox. And I could.

“Ennui,” is another thing that people harp on about Tao Lin’s work and his persona. Not inaccurately, I don’t think, but just too much. Much like you could say that the works/persona of Tao Lin are about ennui and drenched in ennui and doing somersault-ish backflips for show into the great lakes of ennui, as much as you could say that, and be right, a reviewer will probably say it a hundred million more times.

But that’s not all there is to a Tao Lin book, especially not Shoplifting From American Apparel. There’s ennui, and there’s more. There’s the slow realization that the characters in the novella live in a world without any meaning, at least not a readily apparent one. Friends come and go, narratives change every twenty pages, and your ex-girlfriends end up in mental hospitals. You touch things and you don’t know what they are, but you touch them all the same. You give them new names. Everything around you is merely a surface detail, and it’s up to us to supply the meaning. Your generation may be “fucked.” Time passes. It always passes. One moment you’re having a stare off with Moby, the next you’re looking at youtube videos of child prodigies with a girl you’re in an uncertain and vague “relationship” with, and the next thing you know you’re going to a Ghost Mice show and sleeping in an empty bus, just like Christopher McCandless, only in Florida. And then you play some music on your macbook, you shoplift some headphones, and you lust after a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich.

Oh, in a quick glance, I noticed I was wrong about that review calling Shoplifting From American Apparel a version of My Dinner With André for hipsters. Actually it is “like a version of Malle’s My Dinner with André written especially for glue-huffers and self-loathing masturbation addicts.” Eh, maybe. But that’s a far more noble goal than just being a thing for hipsters, right?

That said, in case, you were wondering, my favorite bit from the book was:

“Don’t steal shit for a while,” said Luis. “And try to make yourself happy in some way.”

“Okay,” said Sam. “I’ll buy a new emo CD.”

You have to feel bad for people/characters named Sam. It’s such an unfortunate name.

A possible sequel?

That same review I just mentioned also says “Tao Lin writes in impotent, staccato sentences, like Hemingway after a lobotomy and a sloppy castration.” Parts of that sentence are true and parts are unnecessarily cruel, I think. Also, Tao Lin clearly likes authors such as Lorrie Moore, Richard Yates, Raymond Carver, and Ann Beattie, but who knows how he feels about Ernest Hemingway.

You could just about the meanest, harshest criticism of Tao Lin and you know what’s most interesting about it? It’s probably true. It’s hard to argue with some of his flaws because he is an imperfect novelist. But he’s good at it. If you dislike his works or if you dislike his online persona, you can’t argue that he is a serious writer. Always pushing himself forward, working on something, constantly writing in an age where everyone else bitches about writer’s block. And regardless if you like or don’t like a writer’s style, I think an admiration for having a style has to be cultivated.

I think the brilliant and adorable Peanut St Cosmo agrees with me. I think.

Again, Tao Lin’s website can be found here.

His tumblr presence can be found here.

His art can be found here.

And the original short version of the story, from Vice, can be found here.

My second favorite line from the book is: “When I’m talking to someone I think ‘can I use this dialogue in a book,'” said Luis. “If the answer is no I try talking to someone else.”

According to two of Tao Lin’s former roommates, the events of the book are more or less true. But they do suggest that you don’t discount the mischievous trickster aspect of the real Tao Lin. Here are some examples.

And if you click here, you can read Tao Lin’s review of Thomas Bernhard’s Woodcutters, or Cutting Timber, depending on the translation. I read this review quite some time ago and the next day, I bought Bernhard’s novel on ebay for all the “shit talking.”

My third favorite line from Shoplifting From American Apparel is: A few minutes later Sam walked out of American Apparel holding an American Apparel shirt. Why? It’s the titular moment of the story and to me, there’s something genius in the fact that you don’t even realize that this is theft until a plain clothes security guard says something.

This is a video of Tao Lin reading his poem, “I went fishing with my family when I was five,” and at first you’ll think it’s brilliant, then it’ll annoy you, and then it’ll annoy the shit out of you. See here:

…but afterward, it may just brilliant the shit out of you.

Speaking of the “shit talking” up above, if you click here, you can read Tao Lin talking about “K-mart realism” at This Recording. It’s a good post, but I especially mention it because if you scroll down to the comments, you can find one commenter who does some “shit talking” and says that he doesn’t get the appeal of Tao Lin. So Tao Lin tells him to drop him an email and he’ll send him a copy of his book. I like that. I think that’s cool. It can only happen on the internet, of course. Then again…

I received this for for free, but you can buy it here.

This is artist Jeffrey Brown illustrating a line from the novella:

from here.

(1000)(-493) Days of blogging.

500  posts. Plus 2. Then 5 more.  That’s exciting. Shocking, too. Exciting and shocking. Reminds me of my last few marriages.

More random notes:

One: Christmas Eve, all by myself. Plenty of drink and food and a lot of DVDs piling up. And sleeping dogs. I was planning on watching an old movie I enjoyed entitled A Midwinter’s Tale, but I ended up watching it last week instead out of impatience…

from here.

It’s an old comedy from 1995, directed by Kenneth Branagh, going back to his bread and butter, of course: the bard.

It’s the story of a group of poor has been and would be and never was actors putting on a Christmas play in a drafty old church in a small English village. The play they pick, of course, is Hamlet, partially because it’s all the silly things one thinks of Shakespeare – men in tights yelling silly things at each other and then sword fighting – but also because it is the ultimate play, the ultimate endeavor of theatrical drama. And somewhere along the way they find themselves, some light within themselves that’s still burning bright. Of course.

It’s a minor film, but a likable one in my book. It’s 90s comedy and independent film making at it’s finest, also. Branagh is a capable director with a good eye for finding new angles within Shakespeare to reveal to an audience and the cast is tight and enjoyable. Especially Absolutely Fabulous‘ Julia Sawalha as the female lead.

Two: So, right, but I’ve already watched that. I’ve got some work to do but I want to squeeze a movie or two out of this night. I doubt It’s A Wonderful Life is on, though it should be, of course, and I’m actually a bit sick to death of X-mas already. In fact, you know what I’m in the mood for? A ghost story, or something like that. Something creepy. I wish there more adaptations (that were good) of Shirley Jackson’s novels. Sigh.

My choices are, and this is interesting, a South Korean horror film called A Tale Of Two Sisters or it’s American remake, The Uninvited? Granted, the traditional logic here is to watch the original first, especially when the remake is an American take on an Asian original, and I’ve heard good things about the South Korean film, but obviously I’ve never been excited enough to watch it before now.

Though, slight exception to the rule: I really did like Gore Verbinksi’s remake of The Ring. Not the most logical film, of course, but Verbinkski did a remarkable job at effectively capturing dread in the cinema, something that is a lot harder to do than one would think. Actually, previous only Roman Polanski and David Lynch have been truly good at it in my book.

Actually, you know what I really want to watch? The Others. That movie was brilliant.

Three: Speaking of the cinema and adaptations, a few posts ago I was talking about how I was worried that a remake of Home Alone would end with gun violence, and that actually got me thinking a bit…

I’m surprised it hasn’t made the leap to the movies yet, but could one effectively stage a version of Clifford The Big Red Dog series of kid’s books? Especially in this period of economic turmoil, could a family realistically afford to feed this furry monster? And, much like E.T., wouldn’t the government want to step in and take a look at this canine behemoth?

Maybe that’s the angle right there. In the first act, the family gets the puppy, and the little girl’s love causes it to grow to gargantuan sizes. Act two, the government shows up and steals the thing concurrently with the parents, already struggling to pay their bills and buy truckloads of dog food at a time, gets laid off.

Act three: I don’t know. Something to do with the family getting a reality TV show, a take on the Gosselins meets the Balloon boy and his family, and the giant dog escapes the government holding facility in Dreamland/Area 51 where they’re keeping him after peeing on a captured alien spaceship there, which looks like a fire hydrant to him. Jesus, that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? But it’d work. They’ll probably cast somebody like Breckin Meyer as the patriarch and Elizabeth Banks (who’s in the remake of A Tale Of Two Sisters, by the way) as the matriarch, and get somebody like Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the evil Army General who… well, you get the gist, right?

Four: Tomorrow, in the UK, they’re airing the penultimate episode of Doctor Who featuring David Tenant as the Doctor, “The End Of Time, part 1.”

How sad is it that this excites me more than most other Christmas-y things, right? I imagine that somewhere in the vicinity of 3 PM to 5 PM my time, I’ll be online, scouring to find where somebody will have no doubt uploaded it. Then, on New Year’s day, there’s “The End Of Time, part 2,” and after that, well, after that is when that weird looking fucker Matt Smith takes over. Well, Matt Smith and the lovely Karen Gillan too:

Five: I’d much rather watch a movie based on Clifford The Big Red Dog rather than Walter the Farting Dog. That poor creature. The covers of those books just make me sad.

Tell me that dog doesn’t look like he’s in incredible pain. Just try.

Six: This picture is just for you, Peanut St. Cosmo:

Seven: Hmm. Shit. How much chocolate is too much chocolate for a dog to eat? Fuck.

Eight: This picture is just for you, August Bravo, since I know that you’re in love with Morrissey:

from here.

Something to do with him working with Stella McCartney on a line of shoes with no leather in them. Speaking of living my life just fine without slaughtering animals…

Nine: In the last few weeks, two travesties of decency have been committed upon me: The first being that Burger King canceled their “Angry” line of burgers, which was really just pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, and some kind of spicy sauce on their regular burgers. But their angry tendercrisp chicken sandwich was like hot flavorful sex in my mouth and now… now it’s gone…

The following week I went into a McDonald’s and was informed that they cancelled the McSkillet burrito. What the shit? I calmly asked the employee working there. She has no clue and just shrugged. Also, she did not speak English. So the following day, I went to another McDonald’s and discovered the same thing. The McSkillet was gone. Sigh. It felt like a part of myself was gone with it.

It may be remarkably easy to give up fast food for the New Year, should I be foolish enough to even verbalize a resolution this year.

Ten: Also… well, also there’s nothing else. Nothing that can’t wait. Well, except for this:

And this:

Have a lovely Christmas Eve, regardless of your religion, your race, your sex, your situation, or how ugly you probably are. I hope you’re someplace safe and warm doing naughty things with someone you love, or care about, or at least know the first name of. And to all a good night!