April 12, 2006

Don’t Ride the Ducks, Please

Filed under: philadelphia — ted @ 7:09 pm

Found this on Philebrity:


How Not to be a Good Critic

Filed under: books, criticism — ted @ 3:50 pm

Today’s Slate contained a well-written, insightful article by Ben Yagoda, concerning prominent N.Y. Times book critic Michiko Kakutani. While Yagoda’s disarming of Kakutani is most fine, what I appreciated about the article was the wisdom it shed on criticism as an enterprise:

As a student at Oxford, the future drama critic Kenneth Tynan got back a paper with this comment: “Keep a strict eye on eulogistic & dyslogistic adjectives—They shd diagnose (not merely blame) & distinguish (not merely praise.)” Tynan’s tutor, who happened to be C.S. Lewis, was offering a lesson Kakutani could have benefited from. “Utterly devoid … wonderfully acute observations … debut novel … savvy social and psychological insights … cringe-making … embarrassing new low”: Virtually every word or phrase is a cliché, or at best shopworn and lifeless, and evidence of Kakutani’s solid tin ear.

Lovely how a mere jot on a page from C.S. Lewis correctly diagnoses the problem many critics have: resorting to simply praising or disparaging a work, without truly and deeply explaining why it’s good or bad.

Yagoda ends his article with a plea to Kakutani to “try using the word “‘I.'” This would be a good step, indeed; but it should be kept in mind that for every critic like Kakutani, who avoid speaking their own minds, hiding behind outdated objectivity, there are ten or twenty who merely explain why they liked or didn’t like a work of art, neglecting the larger picture.

April 8, 2006

New Sufjan Album: July 25

Filed under: music — ted @ 12:42 pm


Pitchfork media is reporting that Sufjan Stevens will release The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album on July 25. Here's the info:

The disc collects material originally written for Pitchfork's favorite album of last year, revisited by Sufjan in late 2005 and early 2006. It includes three versions of standout track "Chicago", songs concerning Saul Bellow, Ann Landers, Adlai Stevenson, and Henry Darger, and musical contributions from drummer James McAlister, trumpeter Craig Montoro, singers Shara Worden and Katrina Kerns, and, of course, Rosie Thomas.

The article also dispels a rumor, started by Denison Witmer and Rosie Thomas, that Sufjan was having a baby. Seems they decided to play a joke on Pitchfork, and it worked. Well done, folks.

The Asthmatic Kitty website has more info, as well as a tracklisting.

01 The Avalanche
02 Dear Mr Supercomputer
03 Adlai Stevenson
04 The Vivian Girls Are Visited in the Night by Saint Dargarius and His Squadron of Benevolent Butterflies
05 Chicago (Acoustic Version)
06 The Henney Buggy Band
07 Saul Bellow
08 Carlyle Lake
09 Springfield, or Bobby Got a Shadfly Caught in His Hair
10 The Mistress Witch From McClure (Or, The Mind That Knows Itself)
11 Kaskaskia River
12 Chicago (Adult Contemporary Easy Listening Version)
13 Inaugural Pop Music for Jane Margaret Byrne
14 No Man's Land
15 The Palm Sunday Tornado Hits Crystal Lake
16 The Pick-up
17 The Perpetual Self, or "What Would Saul Alinsky Do?"
18 For Clyde Tombaugh
19 Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)
20 Pittsfield
21 The Undivided Self (For Eppie and Popo)

And all this time I was upset about Saul Bellow not making it onto Chicago. I can't wait to hear that one.

April 7, 2006

Gospel of Judas

Filed under: christianity — ted @ 11:44 am

According to a Times article, scholars have found a "Gospel of Judas," an ancient Gnostic text defending Judas' betrayal of Christ:

Unlike the accounts in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the anonymous author of the Gospel of Judas believed that Judas Iscariot alone among the 12 disciples understood the meaning of Jesus' teachings and acceded to his will. In the diversity of early Christian thought, a group known as Gnostics believed in a secret knowledge of how people could escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came.

The complete article has more information.

UPDATE: A fine article from the S.F. Chronicle, with some pictures. 

Blog at WordPress.com.