The Good Soldier of Cinema

Herzog on Ebert:

The good soldier of cinema. I kept calling him that and he kept calling me that. He saw in me a good soldier in cinema. I said you are even more. He was a wounded soldier. He was ill and struggled and was still plowing on relentlessly. And that was completely and utterly admirable and I love him for that.

Unrequited glove

A walk anywhere during winter will discover single, lost gloves, sometimes impaled upon iron railing spikes, more often lying forlorn and trampled on pavements, in gutters. There are so many on these streets, torn black leather, rainbow-striped wool, a tiny Hello Kittty mitten, all bruised with mud, all longing to be reunited with their long gone twin. I wonder what happened that they now lie lost and hopeless in the rain. They look so sad, so lifeless.

I will take a piece of white chalk on my walk tomorrow. It will join the smooth pebble in my pocket and the tiny silver hoop earring (itself an orphaned twin), my constant walking companions, and when I see my next lost glove I will dig the chalk from my coat pocket and with fingers red from the cold and white from the chalk, I’ll crouch down and trace a white line carefully around the fallen thing, across the wrist, up the thumb, down and up and down and up just so. Then I’ll walk on, leaving the glove with its own chalk outline to show that someone noticed its passing and will be back with the forensics kit. One day.

An entry from friend of clusterflock Justine Kilkerr’s tumblr Discombobulated.

Faint Praise

Your hair is as healthy and shiny as any I’ve ever seen, although it’s true that scruffy, dull locks suit many people, too, and total baldness implies toughness or sophistication.
Read more

Zizek on Zizek in the Guardian at more length than necessary but still, in part, amusing:

“For me, the idea of hell is the American type of parties. Or, when they ask me to give a talk, and they say something like, ‘After the talk there will just be a small reception’ – I know this is hell. This means all the frustrated idiots, who are not able to ask you a question at the end of the talk, come to you and, usually, they start: ‘Professor Žižek, I know you must be tired, but …’ Well, fuck you. If you know that I am tired, why are you asking me? I’m really more and more becoming Stalinist. Liberals always say about totalitarians that they like humanity, as such, but they have no empathy for concrete people, no? OK, that fits me perfectly. Humanity? Yes, it’s OK – some great talks, some great arts. Concrete people? No, 99% are boring idiots.”

Most of all, he can’t stand students. “Absolutely. I was shocked, for example, once, a student approached me in the US, when I was still teaching a class – which I will never do again – and he told me: ‘You know, professor, it interested me what you were saying yesterday, and I thought, I don’t know what my paper should be about. Could you please give me some more thoughts and then maybe some idea will pop up.’ Fuck him! Who I am to do that?”

Žižek has had to quit most of his teaching posts in Europe and America, to get away from these intolerable students. “I especially hate when they come to me with personal problems. My standard line is: ‘Look at me, look at my tics, don’t you see that I’m mad? How can you even think about asking a mad man like me to help you in personal problems, no?’”

smoke signals

Read more

In Defense of the Diaeresis

The New Yorker‘s Mary Norris responded to criticism about the diaeresis, recently maligned repeatedly by The Atlantic.

Which side are you on, boys? (and girls)

from the comments

Joel Bernstein:

All my characters have enormous penises.

Small Penis Rule

The small penis rule is a strategy used by authors to evade…

from the comments

Rick Neece:

When I think of pianos or organs, big or small, or any other instrument (writing fits in this thought, or any one collection of things one gathers to put together) I think of them as animals to “tame” to bend them to convey the expression one wants to convey. One rarely knows in the beginning what one is after.

Whatever else is going on, make sure that you keep buying typewriter ribbon.

In the February issue of The Believer there’s a fantastic interview conversation. Neko Case shares an exchange she had with Sherman Alexie “a couple of winters ago.”

SA: I tell them, “I write this shit for you!” But a lot of writers won’t admit to that, a lot of artists won’t admit to that. They’ll get artistic, or pretentious, or, you know, talk about some “higher calling.” The fact is, I want to move rooms full of people. I want to move someone sitting alone under a reading lamp. I want to move someone sitting on a beach. I want to make them laugh and cry. I want them to see me and come running up to me and tell me how the books made them feel. I love that!

The Future of Reading

Tim Carmody’s keynote speech at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference. Beautifully articulated.

Celebrity Letterhead

Web Urbanist selected the letterhead of seventeen celebrities from a larger catalog at Letterheady. This is Leonard Cohen’s. Make sure you compare it to Richard Simmons’.

(via @gary_hustwit)

Lydia Davis’s Twitter Feed

Friend of clusterflock Mike Topp retweeted a Lydia Davis tweet yesterday, which prompted me to hope she was a regular on Twitter. Alas, this is the entirety of her Twitter feed:

Of course, there are other ways to read Lydia Davis.

once upon a time

I started dreaming there were empty rooms — an unknown space that suddenly existed at the turn in the stairs, or if you crouched beneath the mantel of the fireplace. I also dreamed my mother wore a mask, and if you reached to take it off, another one appeared. The empty rooms came back. There’s a gap between at least of twenty years. I feel the potential now of waking up and they’ll still be there, an extension of the default.

Fictionaut: Cooper Renner

I am almost envious of the simplicity of living that long time flocker, Cooper Renner, describes:

What is it like living sparely and simply, something you have mentioned to me, having a simple life as a creative person in all the ways that you do…

I wish I could live even more simply. I guess it all started twenty years ago when I started getting geographically restless. Moving lots of things around gets really boring (not to mention heavy and time-consuming), so I started divesting. About five years later I bought and moved into a travel trailer for the first time and started living in RV parks. One simply can’t pile up a lot of stuff if one has only 200 square feet to live in. And then several years after that I switched to a trailer with less than 100 square feet, so… Having a Nook helps in the book area, and using an iPod helps musically. I’ve long since gotten to the point that things feel like a terrible burden to me, something to care for and worry about. If a university somewhere would give me an office to work out of, then I would almost certainly let books start piling up again, even against my own will, in that office, and still keep my living space light. I tend toward the thought, though I haven’t quite attained the reality of it, that I don’t want to own anything that anybody would want to steal from me.

Cooper, however, mostly talks about his writing with a rather nice hat tip to clusterflock’s creator, Deron Bauman:

Because I didn’t go through the MFA (or any comparable) system, most of my learning about writing has come through reading (mostly older) writers and from contacts with editors (generally writers themselves) who published my poems, notably Gordon Lish and Deron Bauman. I also had long and encouraging correspondences with Donald Hall and Guy Davenport, though we didn’t necessarily discuss my work all that much. We wrote about books, writers, all sorts of things.

Tim Tebow & Why Faith Makes Us Nervous

If you all haven’t already happened upon it, Chuck Klosterman wrote an absolutely fascinating essay for Grantland describing the significance of Tim Tebow and why he seems to be so polarizing as a professional football player. It’s mostly about Tebow and football, except that it’s not – it’s about so much more than that:

I doubt many Christians believe that God is unfairly helping Tebow win games in the AFC West. I’m sure a few hardcores might, but not many. However, I get the impression that especially antagonistic secularists assume this assumption infiltrates every aspect of Tebow’s celebrity, and that explains why he’s so beloved by strangers they cannot relate to. Their negative belief is that penitent, conservative Americans look at Tebow and see a man being “rewarded” for his faith, which validates the idea that believing in something abstract is more important than understanding something real. And this makes them worried about the future, because they see that thinking everywhere. It seems like the thinking that ran this country into the ground.

I don’t think I’ve read such a straight-forward and correct explanation for why I get so nervous in a culture preoccupied more with feeling something than knowing anything. Also, I’m fairly convinced that some of the best writing happening today is on Grantland, the little sports website that could.

The New Breed of Writers

It’s chock full of gold:

The biggest shock to their increasingly delicate systems occurs when they actually see Big Name Writer’s copy emerge from the hands of an editor. How disillusioning to discover that BNW’s article doesn’t arrive in perfect form, that thoughts may be muddy, that insights may be unobserved … and that an editor actually pushes the writer to think, to make the changes, or wades in and makes the changes on his/her own, usually after discussion with said BNW. It is a bruising business, and only the highly articulate need apply. The goal, after all, is to say something worth killing a tree for.


Don’t eat so much. You don’t have to keep going until everything is gone. The Clean Plate Club is not looking for new members. You are already full, so why do you continue eating? You taste nothing.

Review your hardware-store shopping list. Arrange the items in two categories: things that must be fixed before they break something else, and parts for projects you will never start. Stop choosing tools based on whether you think they will outlast your span of years. Do not synthesize memories and likely scenarios as you did last time.

Read more

from the comments

Michael Grant Smith:

I’m making a lot of notes next to your names in my spreadsheet.

Yelping with Cormac

And so. This is how the uprising began. How in the towns of that country under the cobalt vault of the sky impassive and immutable the villagers took to arms under the banner of the halfeaten taco. What was to come was not man’s doing but of some celestial machinery. Who are we to ask why? For once the taco was eaten it could not be uneaten nor could the tragedy looming be diverted or waylaid.

Excerpt from “Taco Bell, 2nd Review”, Yelping with Cormac

(via Coudal)



Please disregard my recent emails. Forget about the phone messages, too. I know I sounded angry and excited, but I’ve had a chance to think things over and I don’t feel the same as I did when I said all of those hurtful words. I won’t apologize for the basis of my comments—I have a right to my own opinions, especially because they are correct—but regret your exposure to that barrage of toxicity. And the physical threats. You’ll notice I did not say “sorry.” That word is for the weak.

Read more

42 S. Deacon St. #5

There are at least fifty things about her you cannot stand. Maybe a thousand:

She is soft and smells nice. Talks on the phone all day. Makes your favorite meals without being asked. Throws your Maxim magazines on the floor when she’s angry with you. Is sad when an animal gets hurt. Loses your car keys. Asks your opinion and listens to your response as if it matters. There’s more.

Read more


The gate was open. Down the hill a canal. The soft edges of the end of the day. By the time I returned, I knew they were looking for me. She took her turn. He was still out. When he saw me, he beat me in front of her. We had an agreement. If you let this happen again, I’ll finish it. Then he held me and said it was love.

from the spam

Then she suddenly hears the noise a few minutes later. Amy walks out of her apartment to the next door apartment and knocks on the door. Then she hears the noise get louder. Amy tries to open the door but it is locked.

headline of the day, II

Bad Handwriting Foils Bank Heist

Next Page »