January 29, 2006
In print

My review of Dog Days, the first novel by Ana Marie Cox (aka, until recently, Wonkette), appears in today's Washington Times:

Being a celebrity must have its disadvantages. Take the temptations, for example. When you're in demand, it must be difficult not to explore just how badly you can behave or try to exact free drinks, clothes or women. Or to turn down the quickie book deal...

January 28, 2006
Thought for the day

"Equality is slavery. That is why I love art."

--Gustave Flaubert

January 23, 2006
Drive

My review of Neil LaBute's Autobahn, currently playing at Washington, DC's Studio Theatre, is now online:

There may be no better contemporary chronicler of the war between the sexes than Neil LaBute. The film director, playwright, and fiction writer has explored other topics in his work, of course. Most notably, he's examined the interplay of art and life in films like Possession, Nurse Betty, and The Shape of Things. But LaBute is at his best--his sharpest and most brutal--when he's laying bare the truth about how badly men and women can treat each other...

January 22, 2006
Radio silence

I've been pretty quiet here since the holidays. I have a lot to catch up on. I've certainly been busy. I saw Neil LaBute's play Autobahn, for example. But I decided to put my thoughts in long form. A piece on it will be appearing in the next day or so. I'll try to remember to actually post the link. I realized I'd forgotten to post the links to my last two American Enterprise columns. Here's one:

“Oh, it is only a novel!” a character in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey replies when asked what she is reading. “‘It is only Cecilia or Camilla or Belinda’; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”

There may be no better short defense of the art form, examples of which have been banned since its beginnings. There have been many long defenses. One of its most distinguished living practitioners, Jane Smiley, has entered the field with her recently published 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel...

January 21, 2006
Quote of the day

"So James Frey was not the Despicable Criminal his memoir made him out to be, and his book was full of Lies?

And JT Leroy doesn't even really exist?

What next? Dave Eggers' parents are alive and well? Toni Bentley prefers it missionary style? Kathryn Harrison's father really only liked her as a friend?"

Jennifer Weiner

January 09, 2006
Gadgets for Girls

The Times of India has a rather good roundup of gadgets for girls. USB keys, for example, are turning up on everything from watches to keyrings. But what woman couldn't use a USB bracelet? "Slip it on your wrist and you are ready to steal secrets off your boyfriend's laptop." Beats an old-fashioned tape recorder, doesn't it, girls?

There's also the "Smart Mirror":

If you've had enough of fretting in front of mirrors where you get to see only half of you and relying on friends' judgments of how big your posterior looks, fret no more. After computers that can think, it's the time for mirrors to do the trick. Called the Intelligent Mirror (developed for a Mayfair home by London-based property designers Candy and Candy), it combines a 50 inch plasma screen with a hidden camera and a control panel. All you have to do is to dress up in your latest acquisition, and twirl in front of it.
The Times also mentions a sewing machine that get patterns through a USB port and a child monitoring system. (If only there were a gadget to toilet train them!) And it repeats the rumor that "Apple will soon unveil a series of 'lightweight' laptops targeted at women." Lightweight in quotes, indeed. "The new models are expected to weigh in as much as 2 lbs. and 1.5 lbs lesser than the current iBooks (12’ and 14’ respectively)." My Sharp is a mere two pounds, and I can tell you it's very female-friendly. I can fit it into a number of purses. I get comments from both men and women, but the women are always particularly interested to see that I can fit my laptop into my purse.

The Times got their inspiration by a Pacific Research Institute report that says an English study "has found that women are neither frightened by technology nor disinterested. Instead, the study found that women are attracted to electronic gadgets of all types." In other words, they are human beings.

From PRI's report: "Even more telling, 60 percent of the women said their love lives would suffer if they did not have their mobile phone or hand-held devices with them, higher than the 40 percent of men surveyed who said the same thing." I'm surprised the number for men was that high. Wouldn't men think their love lives improved if they weren't easily reachable?

January 03, 2006
Thought for the day

"A man loses his sense of direction after four drinks; A woman loses hers after four kisses."

--H.L. Mencken

New Year's Resolution

Even literary biographers slum like the rest of us. Kathryn Hughes' new year resolution is to stop being such a "book slut":

The whole point about being a literary whore is that you love all kinds of texts equally, refusing to play favourites and treating them all with the same kind of intense but ultimately casual affection. Thus, gearing up for the new university term, my last few weeks have been spent on Plutarch's Roman Lives (which I can still just about manage in the Latin translation), Mrs Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë and Julian Barnes' Flaubert's Parrot.

But the fact that this relatively taxing material has been interspersed with Robbie Williams' Feel and Paul Burrell's A Royal Duty, not to mention Jordan and Peter's year in pictures in OK, may account for the fact that I find it impossible to treat even "serious" books with the kind of material respect they deserve.