"When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect – but do not believe him. Never put your trust in anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel Laureate, may be wrong... So you must always be skeptical – always think for yourself." --Linus Pauling

8.20.2004

We pause to discuss What I Am Reading And Watching.

Any minute now I am going to be done with Neal Stephenson's The Confusion and baying at the moon in anticipation for Volume Three of The Baroque Cycle: The System Of The World. It's taken me quite a while to finish, but I've been distracted these past couple months. Having said that, let me say that I can't wait to re-read the whole close-to-3000 page trilogy. Methinks I will love it even more the second time.

When that one's cast aside, I'll be picking up Letters To His Son by the Earl of Chesterfield. Subtitled 'On the Fine Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman', this is a collection of the correspondence the Earl wrote to his illegitimate son (starting in 1737) as a way of supplementing the bastard's education.

Samuel Johnson despised the book saying it, "taught the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing master." Now I'm reading it in the 21st century, which goes to show that there really is no such thing as bad publicity.

Also on deck is Give Our Regards To The Atomsmashers!, an anthology of essays about comics by such literary worthies as Jonathan Lethem, Glen David Gold, Greil Marcus, Luc Sante, and Aimee Bender. It's edited by Sean Howe. Just think, if I had spent the last fifteen years busting my ass proper at this writing thing I might have had an essay in this book. (That's what I tell myself anyway.)

And... I'll be re-reading Ross Thomas's Chinaman's Chance. This is for a thing I'm working on with friend soon to be collaborator Mark Miano. I don't think I've ever mentioned Thomas here before. High time for it I suppose. Ross Thomas is one of the hidden treasures of late-20th century crime/espionage fiction. How a man who wrote so well and made it look so fucking easy remain so totally unknown staggers imagining.

You can read an article about the late, great Mr. Thomas courtesy of the LA Weekly. St. Martin's Press is currently reissueing his complete backstock of twenty-five titles. Try The Fools In Town Are On Our Side or his first, The Cold War Swap (which he wrote in six weeks and won an Edgar Award for Best First Novel). You owe it to yourself.

In the watching department I joined Netflix a couple months ago and my life has been made immeasureably better. I've been watching the first seasons of Monk, The Gilmore Girls (the turn-on present in gorgeous brunettes spouting witty dialogue should not be underestimated), and the occasional movie.

I feel the need to point out that I bought a dvd of The Winslow Boy. Based on Terence Rattigan's play and directed by David Mamet, it is one of the most profoundly satisfying movies I've seen in the last decade. At the end of it nothing would have made me happier than to watch ten more hours of the same characters. Give it a look.

I am leaving for Burning Man this weekend and will be back with many tales to tell in just over a week. At some point I have to remember to write about silent films, why the 1960's James Bond/secret agent craze died out but lives on in me, and ruminations on the opposite sex.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi jack!
surprise!
not sure if you remember me...anyhow, mark told me about your site and it is fabulous...you sound great...
best,
astrid

PS: yes the only astrid you probably know..;)

Anonymous said...

For christ's sake, are you STILLL trying to rub the playa dust off your skivies? Get off your ass and write something about Burning Man. We all know you've been back for two weeks. Get crackin.

Mr. FattyFat

Baked_Alaska said...

what's burning man like these days? I've heard tell of what it was like 15-20 years ago but nothing recently. same with Rainbow..