♦ Dreaming of Paris.
The trip to Paris was absolutely wonderful, thanks to the fine planning of my colleagues Molly and Patrick and to a terrific group of students—so wonderful, in fact, that I didn’t want to come home. Ah, well. I suppose what this means is that I mustn’t take too long to go abroad again.
I had three favorite things on the trip: the visit to Musée d’Orsay, our Baguettes to Bistro: Culinary Traditions of Paris food tour with Alisa Morov, and the reading by John Baxter at Shakespeare and Co. I hadn’t been to the Musée d’Orsay before, but I think it must be my favorite museum in Paris (yes, even more so than the Louvre). Their gallery of marble statues was just breathtaking, like Vierge au lys (1878) by Eugène Delaplanche, at left, which just enchanted me. I was also quite taken with The Angel of the Odd: Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst exhibition, which our friend and art historian extraordinaire Laura had alerted Molly to, and we actually saw it on the day after it opened (how fortuitous for us!). The exhibition had a bit of everything: paintings, sculptures, films.
Katherine Langrish wrote a blog post called The Wild Hunt Rides over Paris wherein she examines a painting by Adolphe Willette called Parce Domine (she also references in the post the origin of the word “bistro,” which I learned about on the food tour mentioned above). Her connecting the wild hunt to this painting seems apt to me—a very Parisian wild hunt, but still! Ah, Montmartre! Click to embiggen!
In honor of the Paris Metro, I offer my favorite Berlin song, “Metro.” No, the Metro looks nothing like the stylized depiction in the video, but I love this song:
Not the Paris subway, but the entrance to the Bockenheimer Warte subway station in Frankfurt is pretty darn cool. Via.
Maybe I should have done a section on subways? Here’s a very cool idea I discovered at BookRiot: a subway library designed by Miami Ad School students wherein “posters with book titles and scannable barcodes are placed in subway cars where riders scan a book they are interested in (using Near Field Communication) and immediately get a ten-page preview. At the end of the preview, readers are prompted with the location of the closest library where the book is available.” More images here. Via.
♦ Viewers’ Paradise.
I’m pretty excited about the upcoming season of Mad Men, and the season 6 poster has enticed me (click to see it larger). Don Draper looking back at himself? The street signs “One Way” and “Stop”? Everything kind of tilted? Police in the background? Enticed, I tell you! Also, Flavorwire has fun over-analyzing the Mad Men Season 6 promo photos.
Lisa Stock wrote an Open Letter to Young Indie Female Directors.
Oh, I am happy indeed to hear that a new Jonathan Creek special is on the way!
Haters gonna hate, but I’m looking forward to Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing:
♦ The Ninth Art.
In which an Exception is made:
Check out some previews! Katana #2 by Ann Nocenti, Alex Sanchez, and Claude St. Aubin; Hawkeye #9 by Matt Fraction and David Aja; Batwoman #18 by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, and Trevor McCarthy; Ten Grand by J. Michael Straczynski and Ben Templesmith (art only, which is okay by me as I’m a huge Templesmith fan); and Palookaville #21 by Seth.
Will Sliney profiles Dani Moonstar of The Fearless Defenders.
Also, Jess Nevins has detailed annotations of the latest Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel, Nemo: Heart of Ice. As always, Nevins’ annotations are highly recommended.
Tim Callahan’s Sandman reread continues with World’s End, the eighth volume and the third short-story collection in the Sandman oeuvre. And over at the Sequart blog, Stuart Warren explores “Collectors,” issue 14 of Sandman in Portrait of a Serial Murderer.
I’m not entirely thrilled by Kiel West‘s interpretation of Nightcrawler over at The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe REDUXE Edition (frankly, improving on Dave Cockrum is just plain difficult), but I do like West’s take on his costume (click to embiggen). Fara, fellow and favorite Nightcrawler aficionado, what do you think?
Here’s a slew of mash-up covers from Super-Team Family that I thought really rocked. First up is the Legion of Super-Heroes versus Dark Phoenix, which I think is a pretty perfect mashing.
I love these Wonder Woman mash-ups:
And I love how perfectly Spider-Man and Two-Face mashed up together:
♦ The Horns of Elfland.
My friend Andy has a new post up at Radio Free Other about Cary Hudson’s “Fiddler’s Green”—check it out!
By now, I’m sure everybody’s heard and seen the new single by David Bowie, “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” but in case you haven’t, check it out. Tilda Swinton! I’m swooning all over again. The video is utter wonderful madness!
Indulging my Mad Men kick a little longer: the theme song to MM—“A Beautiful Mine” by RJD2—mashed up with the lyrics to “Nature Boy,” originally sung by Nat King Cole (whose birthday was yesterday). The song’s performed by Allison Williams (of Girls) and a micro-orchestra, and the video was shot in a single take (the 29th of the day) with “no cuts, dubbing, lip synching or auto-tuning.” I’m in love with the idea of a micro-orchestra, by the by. Via.
While I was checking out the youtube page for the above, I also ran across Ask A Grown Man with Jon Hamm, which I thought was too cute not to share.
I’ll spare you where I went from there. Youtube, like the interwebs, is a dangerous place…
Related: Colleen Doran has a great post about making art: “How to make a point that everyone can and should make art if they want, while at the same time, making the point that creating art that is actually good, or of cultural value, or even salable, is not so simple.” Go check it out!
Also, a fox made its way into the Tudor and Georgian rooms of the National Portrait Gallery! Caught by surveillance cameras. More images at the link!
♦ The Book Nook.
Jonathan Lethem discusses his book covers in depth with Sean Manning of TalkingCovers—quite literally, as you’ll find audio files at the link!
I enjoyed this brief piece on bookbinder Paul Vogel, who works by hand and takes about 10 weeks to complete a binding. The photographs are wonderful, like the one below:
Israeli artist Ronit Bigal‘s series, Body Scripture II, combines photography, calligraphy, and floral ornamentation, turning the body into an abstract landscape. Read a little more here and here (all the links have additional images).
A new piece by Su Blackwell is always cause for joy:
Some lovelies from Bookshelf Porn:
♦ Public Service Announcement
I feel so cool: this is how I date my computer files. Wait, does that make me cool, or does it just mean I’m not?
♦ The Writing Desk.
Also from Chuck Wendig: How to Karate Your Novel and Edit that Motherfucker Hard; 25 Things Writers Should Beware; and How Storytelling is Like Tantric Sex.
5 writing tips from Blake Bailey, which are pretty good: Write about things that really interest you; be quiet and listen; action is character; be prepared; and if possible, be funny. What he says about each of these is worth reading.
Myke Cole writes about why he wants to meet China Miéville.
Agent Douglas Stewart on why most publishing companies won’t even consider unagented submissions.
Molly Greene with ten steps to blogging success.
Ask the Writing Teacher: Novelists on First Drafts. Good stuff from Jennifer Egan, Ann Patchett, Emily St. John Mandel, Emma Straub, Ben Fountain, Ivy Pochoda, Ramona Ausubel, Margot Livesey, and Antoine Wilson. Via.
A brief survey of famous authors’ unpublished books (Lucien, anyone?).
From Flavorwire: The Fascinating Self-Portraits of 20 Famous Authors; 25 Fascinating Photos of Famous Writers at Home; 20 Highly Sexy Photos of Highbrow Authors (some NSFW, perhaps); and Learn from the Best: 10 Course Syllabi by Famous Authors.
♦ Turn the Page.
I’d meant to include this link back when it first came out a few weeks ago, but I thoroughly enjoyed Kirsty Stonell Walker’s post about Circe, Snowdrops, Swine, and Seductive Sorceresses. She looks at various 19th-century interpretations of my favorite Greek goddess-sorceress, including several of my favorites, like Circe Invidiosa, painted by J.W. Waterhouse in 1892, conveniently pictured to the left for you. I love how unnaturally long Circe’s legs are here and, of course, the “Oh, you’re well fucked now, you are” look on her face.
Flavorwire has a great list of the favorite poets of pop culture characters–the poets those characters “turned to for inspiration—which revealed the internal dialogue running rampant through their minds.” You should check out the link just to hear Jon Hamm as Don Draper reading Frank O’Hara.
Also, Flavorwire has a selection of playful spine poetry by Nina Katchadourian, part of her Sorted Books project (selections from the project were recently published by Chronicle Books). Below is a fun examples, but click through the links above to see more or buy the book.
Underground New York Public Library caught someone else reading Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (the Michael Karpelson translation)! I am well pleased.
And now, for your ever-famished frenzied ocular jellies:
At Tor.com—The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall. Also, book extracts: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar and Red Doc> by Anne Carson (Emily, are you reading this?). Part of Carson’s note for the excerpt: “To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing.”
At Daily Science Fiction—Fidelity by Ben Heldt; Gullible Georgina Agravaine by Michael J. Greenhut; Doctor was Madman, Family Man by Paul Blonsky; To Maintain the Balance by Jamie Lackey; and Spirit Gum by Mike Resnick and Jordan Ellinger.
Waylines issue 2: magazine of speculative fiction and film (what a great combination—short fiction and short films), plus interviews. Each bi-monthly issue ofWaylines publishes three short stories and three short films.
Edward & Amelia vs. The Vampire King, Chapter Thirteen: The Great Barn by Russell Hinson.
Allow me to suggest some books by friends of mine out this month:
The first book in Laura Navarre‘s Tudor paranormal romance trilogy, Magick by Moonrise (which won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Award for Romance in 2012), came out on March 11th. Rhiannon le Fay, a half-mortal/half-Fae princess, tries to make peace between the human and Faerie worlds before war ensues. Lord Beltran Nemestro hunts those who practice the dark arts, but when he meets Rhiannon he is torn between his attraction to her and his duty. Laura’s got the goods, folks–go read this.
Zachary Jernigan‘s debut novel, No Return, splashed onto the scene March 5th. James Patrick Kelly says of No Return, “Be careful picking this one up, because once you join with the adventurers in this strange and stunning debut novel, there will be no going back to the familiar precincts of heroic fantasy. Zachary Jernigan starts at the very edge of the map and plunges deep into uncharted territory. Mages in space, do-it-yourself gods, merciless killers in love and a mechanical warrior with a heart of bronze await your reading pleasure. For thinking readers who like swashbuckling with an edge, No Return delivers.” Are you still reading this? Shouldn’t you have bought the book?
On March 1st, Will Ludwigsen‘s second collection, In Search Of and Others, hit the shelves. This collection is top-notch, full of weirdness and strangeness and all kinds of perfects “-nesses.” All these stories hit me in just the right way. Last week, Will gave a reading at the College where I teach, and a lot of students told me later how much they enjoyed the stories (and Will). If college students are digging it, shouldn’t you?
♦ Melonball Bounce.