In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Another Technical Note
  2. La Ligne Maginot
  3. Actress Notes
  4. Technical Day
  5. Peripheral Explanation
  6. More Immigration Links
  7. Another Graphic Detournement
  8. Peripheral Artists (5): Mikhail Vrubel
  9. Illegal Update

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« "Sin City" | Main | Volvic »

April 28, 2005


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* The mysterious and firstrate (if sporadic, darn it) J. Cassian is blogging again. He posts an excellent joke here, and thinks out loud about the mysterious Huns here and here.

* One of the proudest accomplishments of the very accomplished Christopher Frayling -- Rector of Britain's Royal College of Art -- is making the spaghetti western films of Sergio Leone intellectually respectable. "I know this may sound vain," Frayling tells The Independent, "but I honestly think it's quite unusual to have almost single-handedly encouraged the world to take such a disreputable body of work seriously and to have pulled it off. Now it's a great cliché to say that Leone is a major director, but at the time I first made the case for him, everyone thought that I was quite mad, that these were just ersatz, and that Leone was utter crap."

* Shouting Thomas has given his blog Harleys, Cars, Girls & Guitars a snazzy new look. He's dating again, and thinks he may have a thing for Filipinas.

* Yahmdallah confesses to being that rarity: a computer geek who doesn't enjoy computer games.

* John Emerson thinks the Swedes are to blame.

* It doesn't seem all that long ago that chain bookstores were the latest blot on the face of literature. And the outrages kept coming: Chain superstores ... Books being sold in discount houses like Costco ... Edward Wyatt reports about the latest retail outlet to start aggressively selling new hardcover books: grocery stores, now responsible for sales of 3 percent of general-interest books. Ah, the dignity of literature -- what's become of it?

* Razib wonders what role DNA might play in our food preferences.

* Poynter Online notices that 26% of adults now prefer getting their news online.

* Around a thousand new magazines are started up every year, writes Anne Field. Most will fail within twelve months.



posted by Michael at April 28, 2005


One would hardly think it possible that anybody with any kind of an eye could have dismissed Sergio Leone as "utter crap." When I first saw his movies in high school at a drive in I knew I was dealing with something rather special. But given how essentially literary most film criticism was back in the 1960s, I guess it's not that surprising that Mr. Frayling had his work cut out for him.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 28, 2005 07:17 PM

What's become of the dignity of literature? Mass literacy, perhaps. Terrible thing, that.

Posted by: Michael on April 28, 2005 08:11 PM

I am a computer nerd and I don't enjoy video games, unless you count Scrabble as a video game. Lots of computer nerds don't play any computer games at all. Not that we could if we wanted to, as so many of them are only available if you run Windows.

Posted by: john on April 28, 2005 08:30 PM

FvB -- Funny to think about how stuffy the mainstream film discussion was back in those days, no? On the other hand, movieyak these days leaves a little something to be desired too ...

Michael -- Indeed!

John -- So there are a lot of computer geeks who don't like computer games? I'm still learning ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 28, 2005 08:35 PM

Frankly the only thing that stops me dismissing Sergio Leone as utter crap is Once Upon A Time In America. God knows I've tried to like his spaghetti westerns, but I don't.

Posted by: James Russell on April 29, 2005 03:58 AM

Michael: "It doesn't seem all that long ago that chain bookstores were the latest blot on the face of literature."

The only proper source for books is the independent bookstore with under 2000 titles. Let hoi polloi read what we tell them to read. They are unable to make decent choices anyway.

"And the outrages kept coming: Chain superstores ... Books being sold in discount houses like Costco ..."

Ah, but they're not real books, don't you know. I'm not quite sure why we should be outraged, since these "books" aren't being sold in "bookstores", but clearly we should be.

"Edward Wyatt reports about the latest retail outlet to start aggressively selling new hardcover books: grocery stores, now responsible for sales of 3 percent of general-interest books."

Convenience, pah! Getting books should be hard; the plebeians will better understand their* worth.

"Ah, the dignity of literature -- what's become of it?"

What is becoming of the children these days.


* Pronoun reference intentionally vague.

ps. Sarcasm directed at a "certain sort of person", which I'd be shocked to learn included Michael.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on April 29, 2005 12:52 PM

James -- I was never the Leone fanatic many are (including FvB). But he certainly had a fantastic style and an influential tone, don't you think?

Doug -- LOL. I think we're sharing the irony/sarcasm/whatever. And using it at the expense of the uptighter segments of the publishing crowd ... I rather like the craziness of the biz end of publishing -- I get a buzz from it, and see it as by no means at war with literature. Although I do have a very different sense of literature than most people do. I wouldn't be surprised if you and I overlap there too.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 29, 2005 12:59 PM

Michael: "I think we're sharing the irony/sarcasm/whatever."

I do too, but I know my humor detector is not especially reliable and assume the same for others, so I wanted to be explicit.

To change the tone a bit more toward the serious, I actually really like the big-box book retailers. I can now go to nearly any city in the country and easily find a better book selection than was available in nearly any independent bookstore ten years ago. Sure, there are stores like the old Tattered Cover* in Denver that had a comparable selection, and there are a few specialty stores** that cover some piece of the book market in greater depth than B&N, but they have always been rare creatures. My ability to find the books, even (especially) the rare books, that I want is so much greater now than at any time in the past as to be a change of kind rather than degree.

* I say the "old" Tattered Cover, even though it still exists in the same location, as it seems to have sadly declined in the last few years. The last time (in both senses, probably) I visited, it reminded me of nothing so much as a noisy, crowded Borders with bad parking.

** The best specialty stores still seem to be able to make a go of it, though will probably have to make a point of soliciting internet business as well as walk-in business -- if not now, then in the very near future.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth on April 29, 2005 03:42 PM

Given lit-book sales, I certainly think they would be happy to offered anywhere, including grocery stores and airports! I bought one of the funniest, most totally interesting books I've read in a long time at the airport recently, and I didn't know anything about it until I picked it up at the airport. It's called "Candyfreak", BTW, and it's really good!

Posted by: annette on April 29, 2005 03:48 PM

On Sergio's films, a fun book filled with gossip, etc.,Once upon a time in the Italian West : the filmgoers' guide to spaghetti westerns / Howard Hughes.(Clint hated the taste of cigars, and Sergio pleaded with him to keep them in his mouth. Van Cleef was actually a faster draw than Clint).

Posted by: Jay Al on April 29, 2005 05:11 PM

I go to Powells about twice a month. Other than that I buy books online at They can find anything anywhere, except that they're not good on Spanish books. (English, German, French, Italian, yes).

Once I find a book I look for an ABE bookseller. ABE is a sort of coop that makes it possible for small booksellers to stay in business.

I buy mostly used books, often rather specialized ones.

A friend of mine closed down his storefront bookstore and does everything on-line now. When he quit, his business was 70% online, and the 30% wasn't worth the cost.

Posted by: John Emerson on April 29, 2005 05:48 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?