Archive for April, 2008

Lost Nabokov Novel To Be Published

After years of agony and mental gymnastics, Dmitri Nabokov, the American-born son of Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov (pictured here), decided he will publish The Original of Laura, the unfinished novel he was instructed to burn as a final wish to his father. The manuscript, written on a series of index cards, have been sitting in a Swiss safety deposit box since the author’s death in 1977. Dmitri broke his silence over this issue with the German magazine Der Spiegel last week. From his winter home in Palm Beach, Dmitri justified his decision by telling the Guardian, “I’m a loyal son and thought long and seriously about it, then my father appeared before me and said, with an ironic grin, ‘You’re stuck in a right old mess — just go ahead and publish.” He did not want to take on “the role of literary arsonist,” he told Der Spiegel.

Literary critic Ron Rosenbaum, a life-long Nabokov admirer, who had been publicly feuding with Dmitri to make up his mind in a series of columns (Part One, Part Two) on Slate, will certainly be thrilled (and may take credit for) this recent development.

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Abbreviations of the Absurd

Islamo-fascism, BRB? The New York Sun reports that the Bush administration “has launched a new front in the war on terrorism, this time targeting language.” Gone are the days of “mujahedeen” and “jihad.” The reason: “Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.”

Meanwhile, in America’s classrooms, a new study says that the informal style of electronic messages and email shorthand is showing up in schoolwork, and is bleeding into what students refer to as “real writing.” As the English language evolves, said one source in this piece in the New York Times, “some e-mail conventions, like starting sentences without a capital letter, may well become accepted practice.”

And a sad truth of this run-off: OMFG now passes — and is, in some cases, praised — as a bona fide marketing slogan.

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Exclusive Video: Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley’s first book — a collection of essays titled I Was Told There’d Be Cake (Riverhead Books) — has already debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. (You can read Wendy Walker’s review on the site today.) But Miss Crosley’s storytelling skills are boundless: To help illustrate some of the essays in her debut, she created dollhouse-styled dioramas out of Plexiglas. “In a way, these dioramas began long before I started writing the essays they represent,” writes Crosley on her website. “That would be in 4th grade. At least 4th grade is my first real memory of a Crosley Family diorama, though I feel certain there were labor-intensive crafts projects prior to that. Dioramas like the ones we built simply don’t appear from nowhere without a background of meticulous creativity. Either way, it was a fun extraction and one which allowed for a lot of inadvertent glue-sniffing.”

Check out an exclusive Sloane Crosley diorama video from the essay “Smell This,” a story about three college friends who she’s lost touch with. While hanging around her apartment, catching up, one of them leaves a surprise she won’t soon forgot.

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Two Record Collectors Walk Into a Bar…

Professor, writer, record collector, DJ and proprietor of the always-wonderful blog Soul Sides (and STOP SMILING contributor), Oliver Wang, sat down for an enlightening chat with Chairman Mao, co-founder of ego trip magazine and a legendary record collector and music scholar in his own right. From the sousaphone to racism to the Beatles to the new ego trip show, Miss Rap Supreme, the interview is not only a humorous look into the mind of one of hip-hop’s most impressive voices, but sums up much of how many of us aging hip-hop fans feel these days. (Bonus: Check out two of the other ego trip collective, Brent Rolling and Gabriel Alvarez, on the Sound of Young America podcast here).

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To the Right, To the Right…

The Guardian focuses on the “politics of defection” by profiling the “new generation of rightwing rebels,” including Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis and David Mamet (pictured here). On the campaign trail, Barack Obama offered faint praise for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, conceding that a McCain administration would be superior to the current administration… And on a marginally related note, this video clip of Fox News correspondent Marianne Silber unloading a machine gun live on the air is must-see weirdness. Has a member of the media ever been so unabashedly jingoistic?

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The latest free-music-on-the-internt gem we’ve come across is from the UK’s Heatwave collective. They’ve been putting out killer reggae / ragga-tinged remixes, mostly on limited edition 45s. Now they’ve posted a handful of them online, available as free downloads. If that isn’t a good way to start to your weekend, I don’t know what is.

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A Sea Change for Animation

This week, Ollie Johnston, the last of the “nine old men” (the core of animators who created the Disney studio’s most famous works), passed away at 95. Click here to read an appreciation of Johnston’s pioneering work by Brad Bird, the Oscar-winning director of Ratatouille and The Incredibles… As for the preservation of the printed page, the New York Times checks in with Joe Simon, 94, in the piece “A Creator of Captain America, Fighting On.”

Also related: Slate asks, “Is Takashi Murakami Japan’s Next Andy Warhol — Or Walt Disney?”

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Q65 – Get Out of My Life, Woman

Who knew that mid ’60’s Dutch rockers could be so funky? With Albert King, Lee Dorsey, Solomon Burke and Allen Touissant (among others) all claiming highly respectable versions of this song, this one might be my favorite. The wicked drum break at the beginning, the saxophone sqounk, the dirty swagger where there once was a bluesy crunch, they’re all elements of a what a good cover should be: the track should find a new twist without sacrificing the intention or integrity of the original. Where many other versions of this song seem like a plea, there’s almost a venemous undertone to this one, more of a warning than a lament. Whereas their Krautrock conterparts of the day were pulsing their own beat (formed largely by Klaus Dinger, who, sadly, recently passed away, R.I.P.), this Dutch quintet claimed Sam & Dave and Willie Dixon as their benchmarks, and did as good of a job as any American contemporaries of theirs at injecting their brand of rock with just a little more soul.

Audio — Q65 – Get Out of My Life, Woman

– Post by Ben Fasman

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A Reason to Watch TV Again

They’re back. (Bonus: Here’s some thoughtful commentary from David Cross, one of the stars of Arrested Development, on why the show was cancelled).

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The Boss Weighs In

Whew. If any of the rest of you were holding your breath like I was, waiting to see who the Boss was going to vote for, your lucky day has arrived as he just posted an open letter to his fans announcing his intentions.

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