Month: October 2005

Quotation of the Day: Share-Alike Edition

“Someone asked me recently, ‘Meghann, how can you say you don’t mind people reading parts of your book for free? What if someone xeroxed your book and was handing it out for free on street corners?’

“I replied, ‘Well, it seems to be working for Jesus.'”

, author Meghann Marco, in a conversation with Jason Kottke, on why she has no problem with Google Print indexing her book

TAGS: , , ,

Book review: Shopgirl

I am a fan of the old Steve Martin. The SNL/L.A. Story/“The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!” Steve Martin. I don’t get the New Yorker pieces, and the thicket of hype was too thick around Lapin Agile to entice me into seeing or even reading it.

I picked up my copy of Shopgirl, the book, years after it was first published; this particular softcover had an inside cover price of one dollar when I picked it up at a Salvation Army store on the West L.A. And I walked around with it for a bit before I committed even to that.

It was its heft that was the deciding factor. Shopgirl is a slip of a novel, a novella, as the cover proclaims, slight and ever-so-slightly precious, like most self-proclaimed novellas. It feels good in the hand, though, much like I imagine the gloves that introduce its two main characters must feel.

It is undeniably elegant on the inside as well, both in its faintly-stilted prose and the strange, spare atmosphere it conjures up. Shopgirl evokes a Los Angeles more like the one depicted in 1950s L.A. Confidential than the post-millenial version I tool through daily. The archetypes are modern, but they feel quaint, like girdled Suzy Parkers instead of juicy Carmen Electras.

It’s not so much that the characters are unreal as it is they are remote, real seen through glass, real seen from one cool remove. What the novel(la) did more than anything was make me want to see the movie; I want to see actors inhabit these characters and bring them to life because I could not connect with them on the page: this Seattle millionaire, this alt.rockboy, this Silver Lake artist/shopgirl. Everything is a clean, sleek surface, with no grubby human bits to grab onto.

Steve Martin has the dark side down, like most funny people. He sketches out a sad, beautiful, believable story of two people running up hard against their limitations. But like Capote, a film I reviewed here recently, it’s curiously unaffecting given what the characters are going through. I suspect Martin is a fan of order, and imposes it where he can, thinking the discipline serves the storytelling.

But it’s the mess that makes a good story interesting. A writer can clean it up; a writer and director and editor can’t.

Which is why I enjoyed reading Shopgirl. But I can’t wait to see it.


Buy Shopgirl, the book, on Amazon.
Buy Shopgirl, the DVD, on Amazon.

UPDATE: Marilyn & Neil brought up the whole book-vs-movie thing in the comments, which reminded me that this rare movie-being-better-than-book thing has happened to me before, with Sideways, a delightful film which turned out to be much more tedious and blathery and self-indulgent in book form:

  • My review of the film Sideways.
  • My review of the book Sideways.

TAGS: , , , ,

Quotation of the Day: GFY Edition

“You’re right! This is taking so much time away from my brain cancer research project! I hereby declare all arguments over and this website closed!”

, Ryland Sanders, author of the blog A Boy And His Computer, responding to a comment questioning the sense in “wasting” time creating a review of a rotten movie

BONUS “Great-Minds-Think-Alike” LINK!
The communicatrix wastes her own high-value time trashing Elizabethtown in an uncannily similar fashion

You’ve got (A FRIEND IN) LinkedIn

The interweb is littered with the detritus of my greed and/or optimism: user names from quickly discarded affinity programs; the brokerage account I set up to score 50 MyPoints; ancient reviews I stubbornly refuse to take down from epinions because they are the last remnants of what used to be a useful tool created by a vital, interesting community before it was taken over by the twit parade and made an appropriate commodity for the likes of eBay.

One of my long-lost doody deposits emailed me back the other day. I can’t remember exactly why I signed up for LinkedIn, or, as I like to call it, that classmates-dot-com sibling who put 2,000 miles and a 4-year degree between it and the trailer park, but still isn’t fooling anybody but itself; probably one of my caffeine-fueled attempts to get serious about “networking” and “growing my business” (which, as you can guess by the elaborate portfolio I have set up on the left sidebar and cleverly named “Photo Albums”, is working like a charm).

But LinkedIn dangled an irrestibly orange and well-formed carrot in front of me: the name of a long-lost friend who apparently had added himself to the LinkedIn system, too.

What’s more, they helpfully wrote that tricky reconnect email for me, all I had to do was point and click:


14 hours later, the interweb worked its magic and I received this communiqué from my long-lost pal:

I’m confused.

Are you working for Amway now?

Please do not contact me again.


[Name redacted for reasons of privacy.]

Well, color me corrected! LinkedIn works! It really, really works! I mean, maybe we’re not sitting down for coffee and a long jaw yet, but it’s a start! And all thanks to the infinitely interconnective, completely customizable meet-up of science and commerce.

It is truly a great time to be alive.


Cubs: the thinking artist’s sports team

cubs fans

Let’s be upfront about this: I don’t give a crap about sports. You can have your football, your soccer, your precious curling, with the exception of one strange season in college where I was possessed by the magic that is hockey, up close and personal, I don’t get it.

So this whole World Series hoo-hah eludes me entirely. And I’m from Chicago, current home of GO,SOX!!!WOOFWOOFWOOF!!!! All I know is that King of the Hill was bumped for too fucking long and can we all please just get on with it, already?

And yet.

And yet, while I care nothing about sports or the athletes who play them or the fans who cheer them on…

cubby radio

…while the Super Bowl was, when I was forced to watch it, made tolerable only by the unbelievable Italian beef spread laid out by my ex’s aunt and uncle, and hopefully, a football pool win…

…while I could live my entire life without seeing or hearing about another sporting event…

…there’s something about the Cubbies.

Back in my ad days, we’d get offers of free (box) seats for all the major Chicago sports franchises. I got to see Michael Jordan from the 12th row, and yes, it was beautiful. I got to meet Michael Jordan, when he acted in a delightful batch of Wheaties commercials I wrote (hideous proof to be uploaded to Flickr soonish). But the best graft, the most coveted of all tickets, were to the Cubs games. Even when you didn’t get the fabulous box seats with the high-end booze bar and the off-duty Hooters waitresses who’d roll the dessert cart by.

Maybe it’s because Wrigley Field is so old and glorious, springing up 50 yards from the Addison “L” stop, surrounded by post-war brownstones, in the heart of a fully residential district.

cub kids

Maybe it’s the rich history, so few wins, so many beautiful, beer-soaked afternoons in the sunshine for the fans.

Maybe it’s the way they’ve inspired my old friend from ad days gone by, Tim Souers. I’m mad for his art. Mad, I tell you. He’s been doodling these strange and wonderful illustrative observations with pens and Doc Martin’s Dyes between coming up with brilliant commercials for some 20-odd years now. A few years ago, he started documenting his love for the Cubs in a personal journal, a few pages of which he scanned and sent to me recently (god bless the interweb!).

So if the Cubs are what it takes these days to inspire Tim, then color me royal blue and red and slap a giant “C” on my forehead.

More baseball.

More Wrigley.

More Tim Souers.

Cubs in 2006!


Paintings © 2004 – 2005 Tim Souers

TAGS: , , , , , ,

Quotation of the Day: “Reason #1067 why advertising sucks” Edition

“I think my own addiction to narrow distractions while writing is a hard wire left from my days in advertising; if you aren’t coming up with an idea, you check email to see what other crisis looms. I have found this a terrible and difficult habit to break.”

, former advertising creative director and current novelist Jeff Abbott, in the comments section of Paul Ford‘s 43 Folders guest post about “Amish Computing”