Archive for HAPPENINGS

Wiki-Polanski

blog_wikipolanskiThe arrest of Roman Polanski and the impending extradition attempt by the United States for the filmmaker’s 1977 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl set off such a buzz on Wikipedia that the website’s administrators froze his entry — warring factions were battling over whether the director’s cinematic achievements deserve more space than his extra-legal affairs; Wikipedia’s policies have been under increased scrutiny since it announced last month it would review public edits before they go live, and additions to the site overall have seen a general slump in the past few years — stats show its most frequent editors are a mostly homogeneous group, which is contrary to the idea of the whole project; meanwhile, Criterion released a new version of Polanski’s Repulsion this month, sales of which his arrest will certainly not hurt.

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Granta Does Chicago

blog_grantaThis week, UK-based literary journal Granta will descend upon the Windy City to celebrate the launch of its new issue, which is dedicated entirely to Chicago; the publication will host a series of events around the city, including one at the STOP SMILING Storefront on Tuesday, September 15; contributions to the issue include fiction and essays by George Saunders, Stuart Dybek, Aleksandar Hemon, Don Delillo, and Sandra Cisneros, a photo essay by Camilo Jose Vergara and a book jacket designed by Chris Ware; Stop Smiling put out its own Chicago Issue in 2006, which is available via our online store.

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Hollywood Remake Wagon Rolls On

blog_harveyThe announcement that the next picture from Steven Spielberg will be a remake of the 1950 film Harvey, which starred James Stewart (pictured here), has roused us to round up some notes on remakes and franchise reboots that reveal an idea drain in the Hollywood dream factory: today the Los Angeles Times reports on how Paramount Pictures, the studio releasing GI Joe, is “sidestepping the traditional Hollywood showcase” in favor of “taking the picture directly to America’s heartland” and arranging screenings on military bases; last week it was announced that Ridley Scott will direct a prequel to Alien, a film that has already spawned five wildly divergent rebrandings; and just when it seemed like the real canary in the coalmine was the fact that even the board game Candy Land was getting the big-screen treatment (rivaled only by news that a movie based on the 1979 Atari game Asteroids will be coming to a theater a near you), now comes the ultimate cry for help: Warner Bros has announced a remake of the 1935 film Captain Blood, only the Errol Flynn swashbuckling movie will not be set on a pirate ship, but in outer space.

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The 2009 Printer’s Ball in Chicago

blog_printersball2009STOP SMILING will be on hand for the Poetry Foundation’s fifth-annual Printer’s Ball this Friday, July 31, at the Ludington Building in downtown Chicago; this annual event brings together the Chicago publishing community and its patrons to evaluate where the industry is headed; this year’s Printer’s Ball will be the first to include publishers from outside of Chicago: presenters include Joe Meno speaking for McSweeney’s, Nick Twemlow for jubilat, Eula Biss for Iowa Review and John Beer for The Hat; also in the Ludington Building (which houses the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts) personal projects and collaborations by Chicago rabble-rouser Anne Elizabeth Moore will be on display in the first exhibit of this work in one location. -SS

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Advanced Artificial Intelligence is Lurking

blog-kubrickOn the day that would have been the late Stanley Kubrick’s 81st birthday, the New York Times ran a fascinating cover story in the Sunday paper focusing on the ethics and evolution of robot intelligence — it’s no doubt the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey and producer of AI: Artificial Intelligence would have taken note (and been well ahead of the curve): “Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence,” writes John Markoff, “a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone”; the piece is also an intriguing companion to a Times story two weeks earlier about how “Japan’s legions of robots, the world’s largest fleet of mechanized workers, are being idled as the country suffers its deepest recession in more than a generation as consumers worldwide cut spending on cars and gadgets.”

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Shifting Roles for Historic Landmarks

blog-hancockFollow the money: In Washington, DC there were no buyers for the famous (and infamous) Watergate Hotel, which went up for auction this week after the previous owners defaulted on their loan; in Los Angeles, despite the efforts of preservationists like Diane Keaton, the plans to destroy the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, which is the a cornerstone of a development designed to evoke the New York World’s Fair of 1964, are underway; and one announcement in Chicago has purists breathing a sigh of relief — unlike the newly renamed Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), representatives of the John Hancock Center, pictured here, have publicly stated that no name change is in their plans. SS.

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Work to Win, from France to Chicago

blog_revoltFrench workers have been finding innovative ways to protest their worsening situations this week — the AP reports on a spate of “bossnappings,” where factory workers locked employers in their offices until they agreed to meet and discuss ways of circumventing layoffs; another group of French workers announced they might resume their threat to blow up a failed auto parts manufacturing plant after a meeting with company officials ended unsatisfactorily; STOP SMILING will celebrate a victory of hometown worker action Thursday night at 7 pm at its Chicago storefront, as it hosts the launch of Revolt on Goose Island, a book that chronicles the events surrounding the worker takeover of the Republic Windows & Doors factory in Chicago last winter.

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In the Sky, it’s a Bird, it’s a Stealth

blog-stealthWhile attention remains fixed on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, let’s take a quick glance upward at a couple airborne episodes from last week: citizens of Detroit were angered when an F-18 fighter buzzed an apartment building during a low-level demonstration flight, as part of the opening ceremony for a speedboat race on the Detroit River (check the jaw-dropping photo here); while President Obama may have had his mom-jeans moment on the baseball diamond at the MLB All-Star Game, it was the bizarre appearance of a menacing B-2 Stealth Bomber flying overhead that was the genuine eyesore (also reported this month were new findings about how close the Nazis came to developing a stealth bomber); meanwhile, back on the ground, it’s worth taking a moment to see what happened when the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile took one giant leap for mankind into someone’s house. How would Kronkite have reported that one?

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The Latest Issue of Bidoun

blog_bidounThe new issue of Bidoun is out — the 18th installment of the New York-based quarterly that covers art and culture from the Middle East; as always, its pages brim with content that examines creative endeavors from Beirut to Baghdad, Cairo to Punjab, without the slightest hint of exoticism; the print magazine is a pleasurable object to handle, although a selection of content is available online, including interviews with Lebanese comic collective Samandal, Turkish curator/publisher Banu Cennetoglu, and the founder of the Baghdad Country Club, who spoke with STOP SMILING editor-at-large Alexander Provan.

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How to Remember McNamara?

blog-mcnamaraThe question of how to remember or acknowledge the passing of Robert Strange McNamara, who served as defense secretary from 1961 to 1968 and was a primary architect of the Vietnam War, remains hazy. One qualified voice on the subject is the filmmaker and inquisitor Errol Morris, whose 2003 film The Fog of War offered a rare glimpse into the conscience of a global figure who had withdrawn from public life, armed only with his own judgments and assertions — “McNamara in Context,” the latest entry from Morris’ column on the New York Times site, opens the discussions (click here for more on Morris’ 2006 cover story in STOP SMILING); meanwhile, the front page of the Times offered a meticulous obituary, written by Tim Weiner (who appeared as one of the interview subjects in our 20 Interviews issue back in 2007 — click here for more) ; and Fred Kaplan of Slate charted McNamara’s rise to prominence, concluding with an acknowledgment that during his retirement the former “whiz kid” was prone to “misremembering” vital statistics and consequences of his actions while serving as defense secretary.

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