Sunday, November 29, 2009

Globe & Mail 2009 book lists

The Globe & Mail (Toronto) lists the top 20 Canadian fiction titles of 2009 (they should have specified that these are the top English-Canadian titles). It has also just released its top 100 list for the year. Here's their list of foreign (that is, un-Canadian) fiction.

Canadian New Wave Music Videos (all 80's)

At Retrospace there's a great list of 150 new wave fav's. Some good Canadian groups didn't make the list, perhaps due to lack of exposure south of the border. So, I thought I'd start my own small list here.

In this list, the first links on each line are to band histories while the links to particular songs (after colons) are to YouTube videos.

Strange Advance: We Run and Worlds Away;

The Spoons: Nova Heart and Romantic Traffic (with Toronto subway footage, inc. the old red trains);

The Extras: Can't Stand Still (nice song and one of the best animated videos I've seen);

Platinum Blonde (part British): Doesn't Really Matter and Standing in the Dark;

Men Without Hats: Pop Goes the World and Safety Dance;

Blue Peter: Don't Walk on Past (Warning: ankle injuries have been sustained by people trying to imitate the dance moves that start at 3:01);

The Box: Must I Always Remember?

Chalk Circle: April Fool;

Images in Vogue: Lust for Love; and

Saga -- I'm not sure that they were New Wave but I love this band and they do work the synthesizers. They were bigger in Germany than at home. Among their best tunes were:

Don't be Late (German concert version), On the Loose and Wind Him Up.

Update (Dec. 6, 2009): NPR has a list of 50 favourite New Wave tunes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Potpourri (Nov. 23, '09)

The photo is of Tamara Dobson in Cleopatra Jones.

'Only the Nobel Prize eludes [Philip Roth]. “I try not to think about it,” he says.'

'Anyone wishing to sketch a picture of Dutch literature of the past fifty years must look at five major writers: Willem Frederik Hermans, Gerard Reve (both now deceased), Harry Mulisch, Cees Nooteboom, and Hella S. Haasse.'

A 1945 letter by Kurt Vonnegut, POW

Terry Eagleton on Walter Benjamin
A review of The Wall in My Head: Words and Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain

Imre Kertész stirs controversy in Hungary: 'He reckons that in today's Hungary, it is extremists and antisemites who have their voices heard, and the tendency of lying and suppressing the truth is stronger than ever.'

Eric Hoffer 'was a crank, in the best sense, in an age of poseurs.'

A Guardian interview with Mavis Gallant

Aussie radio interview of Michael Gazzaniga on split brains, etc.

Aussie radio on Seneca and Aristotle

Annabel Lyon interviewed about her Aristotle novel: 'I would come home from going on a date which was kind of miserable, and I’d feel gross and wasn’t ready for bed right away, and I would start reading Aristotle. No wonder I didn’t get more dates.'

Aussie TV documentary on BIID (in which someone with a healthy arm or leg wants it amputated)

Sartre's mescaline visions

Selection bias in the Stanford Prison Experiment?

Frank Wilson on 'Philip K. Dick's deconstruction of madness'

Retrospace lists the best 150 New Wave tunes

WSJ article on cafes (inc. a bit about Vienna cafes) (ht Books, Inq.)

One impact of The Impact Agenda: 'Forty-eight academics, including ten Nobel laureates and 26 fellows of the Royal Society, write an open letter to Research Councils UK calling for the withdrawal of the "ill-advised" policy.'

National Film Board (Canada) posts a 72-minute documentary about Troy Hurtubise's quest for a grizzle-bear-proof suit

The Five Stairsteps:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two reviews of Jonke's System of Vienna

In December, the Dalkey Archive Press is releasing an English translation of the late Gert Jonke's short novel, System of Vienna, of which two early reviews have appeared. The reviews are in Emprise Review and The Collagist. The translator, Vincent Kling, had a nice remembrance of Jonke in Calque last summer. Here's a complete list of Jonke's works.

Update (Nov. 29, 2009): Here's a review of System of Vienna by John Madera at The Millions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Potpourri (Nov. 12)

Photo of the Vienna International Chamber of Commerce Convention (1953) -- from the archive.

"Something [Coetzee] does not yet seem to have found a way to joke about is the cold class and money exclusions of the Southern Suburbanites of Cape Town. One gathers that even Australians seem warm and friendly after them." From a review of Summertime, the Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg, South Africa)

"London, more interested in Mesopotamian oil than rewarding its erstwhile allies, responded with brute force: 2,200 British troops and 9,000 natives died in the ensuing bloodbath." From a review of The Arabs: a history in The Scotsman

Six greatest fantasy books selected by Lev Grossman

Whither withering Detroit? "The fact that Urban Farming moved to Detroit is exactly the effect I’m talking about. To anyone with aspirations in this area, it is Detroit that offers the greatest opportunity to make your mark. It is the ultimate blank canvas."

"In Germany romanticism did not stay within the boundaries of art and philosophy, it gave momentum to political nationalism, to an irrational Lebensphilosophie and to a fatal departure from the path of the Enlightenment. All this, as Safranski narrates in detail, added to the ideological powder-keg that eventually exploded in Hitler’s Germany."

"Intellectual voyeurism is alive and well, especially when it is permitted to intrude into the private life of a classically repressed personality like Max Weber. Joachim Radkau’s biography accomplishes the task of scholarly snooping well, and will satisfy even the most prurient curiosity."

"Anyway, my friends reminded me, writing for a porno mag is an important American literary rite of passage...." (ht Books, Inq.)

Yankee physician in Toronto defends Canadian healthcare in an Alabama paper.

Martha Nussbaum interviewed on Aussie radio about Stoics and Epicureans.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New on-line journal

Interesting new journal on-line, The Berlin Review of Books.

'Grass' by Carl Sandburg


Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

Carl Sandburg

Update (Feb. 17, 2010): Here's a video of Sandburg reading this poem (ht the amazing Open Culture site):

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bits & pieces

Lawrence Welk introduced us to many wunnerful tunes, including this stirring rendition of 'One toke over the line' by Gail & Dale (that's Dick Dale), originally by Brewer and Shipley. (I missed this when it was linked on Boing Boing in '08.)

Loads o' book lists.

I like digging up neglected, good books, and two more lists of them have appeared.

"Anyway. What? Yes. Anyway. One study says that e-mail is more corrosive to your I.Q. than pot."

Vanished Persian army found.

That von Hofmannsthal was oh! so precious.

Video of London in 1927. (ht Crooked Timber)

In preparation for Remembrance Day, explore WWI poetry. (ht Books, Inq.)

Update (Nov. 10): A paper charging Bernard Malamud with plagiarism. (ht Legal Theory Blog)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Potpourri (Nov. 5, 09)

This photo is from the Life Magazine archive (highly recommended for quality browsing)

Margaret Atwood, Duchess of Wit

Kermode on Golding: "Matty, as Golding himself said, was the character who binds together so many of his concerns: sanctity, the uncanny, the numinous."

'Her fascination with mysticism, math, and Spinoza' -- podcast of an interview with Clarice Lispector's biographer

A look back at Ford's Good Soldier in The Hindu: "The Good Soldier is a novel about brittle social graces that mask savage hatreds"

Someone's starting a group discussion of Gaddis' Recognitions. "The plan ... is to read between 75-100 pages per week. Each week there will be one post or open thread...."

A reminiscence of Claude Levi-Strauss

Review of The Angel of History: Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Scholem

Aussie radio posts a tribute to (and an old interview with) Sir Isaiah Berlin

Forthcoming Thomas Bernhard books

Mr. Waggish and Kleist on speech and thought

A timely study of timeless myths (Plato's myths)

Pics of Bela Lugosi as Jesus

More police blogs (and another that was shut down), and paramedic blogs, and a magistrate's blog, and a bit from The Times (UK) on career bloggers

British career bloggers seem more bitter, esp. about intrusive, nannyish bureaucracy ('creeping managerialism' is the vice du jour), and you hear a similarly resentful tone even in the musings of British philosophers

Retrospectives of the past 40-100 years in brain studies, in physics, and in psychology

Appearance (curve-ball illusion) and reality (e.g., a ribosome's relative tiny-ness)

The Wellcome Library posts 1917 footage of British shell-shock victims. (Also available on YouTube.)