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November 07, 2003


Dear Friedrich --

* Time to hit the 1-Click button: Volume 2 of Christopher Alexander's "The Nature of Order" has gone on sale and can be bought here. 2Blowhards favorite Nikos Salingaros has posted a helpful review of the book on its Amazon page, and makes it sound like the one of the most substantial volumes Alexander has ever written. Salingaros himself has a fascinating essay on Planetizen; it's about fractals, networks and cities, and is readable here.

* Along with Christopher Alexander, the wonderfully ornery Jane Jacobs is one of the gods of people who love buildings and neighborhoods that work and evolve, and who have no time for top-down modernist chic. What does she think of the New Urbanism? Find out in this q&a with her by Bill Steigerwald for Reason, here.

* I don't know what to say about the work of this pumpkin-carving artist here. Examples of folk-art genius? Pure silliness? It makes me feel awfully happy in any case, as well as grateful for the web.

* I had a good time playing with this create-a-face webpage (here) by the photographer Eric Myer.

* George Hunka is now reading Clive James, here.

* Mike Snider has posted a bittersweet new sonnet, here.

* I forget if you've ever watched any of the films by the French filmmaker who goes by the name Chris Marker. He's one of a kind -- someone who has mainly made nonfiction films, but isn't a documentarian so much as a maker of lyrical, complicated and touching poetic essays. (Oliver Sacks and Ryszard Kapuscinski might be his rough equivalents in book-writing terms.) A few of his pictures are among my very favorites: "Sans Soleil" and "The Last Bolshevik," especially, though I also like "La Jetee" (the basis for Terry Gilliam's movie "Thirteen Monkeys") and "Le Mystere Koumiko" a lot too. I wonder why so few of his movies are available on DVD -- they seem naturals for a nonlinear medium. But I've run across videocassettes of them at good video parlors -- here's hoping you've got one near you. Anyway, here's a decent Film Comment article by Kent Jones about "Immemory," a CD-ROM Marker has made. Here's a website by Adrian Miles dedicated to Marker's work. And here's a piece about "The Last Bolshevik" that I have no trouble agreeing with.

* Remember that Eric Rohmer film "Pauline at the Beach"? Remember how the guys in the film press flipped for the film's star, Arielle Dombasle? For a few weeks, she was the thinking man's sex symbol. I just stumbled across Dombasle's own website here. In a section devoted to her marriage, there's a passage that says, "Arielle est, par nature, une amoureuse passionnée. Elle partage sa vie, et un bonheur sans nuages avec le philosophe-écrivain Bernard Henri Lévy." ("By nature, Arielle is a passionate lover. She shares her life, and a happiness without clouds, with the philosopher-writer Bernard Henri Levy.") Ah, actresses. Ah, the French. Ah, French actresses.

* Jon Walz has further evidence that Arnold wasn't always the dignified statesman he is today, here.

* Aaron Haspel compares and contrasts W.B. Yeats and T. Sturge ("Who?") Moore, here. 'Way over my head, but a crackling posting nonetheless, and followed by tons of lively comments.

* This web parody (here) of an Olympics-like athletic tournament made me laugh a lot as well as marvel at its skillfulness. Warning: R-rated. (Link thanks to Daze Reader, here.)

* Profane venting alert: could the young Asian-American woman behind this blog here be the online Gen-Y version of Sam Kinison? (Unless the site's a put-on.) She cracks me up, in any case. Don't miss her posting from October 20th, the one where she starts out ranting that what "Lost in Translation" really needed was for the Bill Murray character to be a flesh-eating zombie.

* Speaking of profane Asian-American funnygirls, here's the blog of the standup comedienne Margaret Cho. I find her humor pretty hit or miss, but when it hits it hits hard: she had one posting I can't find any longer about getting her crotch waxed by a gay man ... Well, my eyeballs certainly bugged right out, I can tell you that.

* Are videogames addictive? Really? And in what sense? A few of these questions are semi-answered here.

* Have you run across Sam Vaknin? Quite the phenomenon: an expert on narcissism who's a self-declared narcissist himself. He's a brilliant guy, and I've found his descriptions and explanations of narcissism helpful. God knows that, living as I do in the NYC media-arts world, I've run into more than my share of narcissists. Thanks to Vaknin, I understand them, as well as how to handle them, a lot better than I once did. Here's the homepage of his ultra-extensive website. Here's a q&a with Vaknin by Bob Goodman. Here's an online chat with Vaknin.

* A friend who lives in Paris tells me that younger French women no longer know how to cook. What with jobs and work, and what with ever-cheaper, ever-better convenience foods, French mothers are no longer passing along the old skills to their daughters. Too bad: a centuries-long chain of skills and tradition has been broken. No more whipping up a little something delicious from whatever happens to be in the fridge, I guess. Chris Bertram discusses the decline of cooking in France by reference to something called the Baumol effect, here.



posted by Michael at November 7, 2003


"Nikos Alexander"? Do I know this fellow? :)

Posted by: James Russell on November 8, 2003 12:31 AM

Damn, how'd that happen? Further evidence of a rotting brain. Thanks for the catch, now fixed.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 8, 2003 12:43 AM you guys, always have always will... should i achieve just 8% of your collective brilliance in this world or in one beyond, i shall die a very happy man...

cheers! jon

Posted by: jon walz on November 8, 2003 04:55 AM

Margaret Cho seems to be a sad and messed up chick. Yick.

Posted by: annette on November 9, 2003 03:47 PM

Holy Cow! $63.75 for a book? I feel like I'm back in college. Maybe I can find a copy in the library.

Posted by: Bob on November 9, 2003 10:54 PM

Too Many Monkeys...
Gilliam's film: 12 Monkeys

If Marks inspired that kooky-but-brilliant mess, I look forward to finding some of his works.

Posted by: Kari on November 10, 2003 01:43 PM

Hey Kari, Thanks for the correction. Eager to hear how you react if you ever do get a gander at a Chris Marker movie. Some of them are pretty fab.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 10, 2003 08:56 PM

A friend has told me that Las Vegas is a very pedestrian-friendly city--even though the blocks are long, it's flat (a factor ususally not discussed as a factor in pedestrian-friendliness), mixed-use, has endurable weather ("it's a dry heat"), and there are no limits on signage.

Posted by: Nancy Lebovitz on November 12, 2003 09:50 AM

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