December 2010

AmazonWatch: The Case of the Missing Incest Porn

Sometimes I wonder if Amazon is actually just running a very secretive series of ethics test on the unsuspecting public. 

First we had #AmazonFAIL, which is the holiday weekend when magically every book that had anything to do with homosexuality was disappeared from the site. 

When the entire world rose up in protest (largely on Twitter, but all protests have to start somewhere), Amazon quickly trotted out the "stupid employee in France" excuse.  (Oh THAT old saw.)

Prophecy and the American Voice: Greil Marcus has Watched More Movies than You

Over the last forty years Greil Marcus has gone and made rock writing something of an art form. While the man’s brushed shoulders with folks like the Dean of Rock Criticism and Lester Bangs, Marcus’ style is as unique as his views on American culture and how it all fits together. It’s something of a post-modern approach to understanding culture making, but considering the man’s academic background – UC Berkeley – it’s not too surprising.

What is a shock, though, is the amount of disparate pieces of film, music and literature that work their way through the pages of The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy in the American Voice.

Serial Killers: Had Enough Yet?

Last night over dinner I was talking about how much I hated "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."  The more time goes by, the less I like that book. 

Of my complaints, the one which is gradually creeping its way to the top of the list is as follows: at first, the answer to the mystery of the disappearing girl could have literally been anything.  But as the book progresses, it gradually becomes clear that the answer is - surprise! - a serial killer.

Think of all the mysteries in the world which remain unsolved.  Wanna know how many of them involve serial killers?  Approximately .002% according to my calculations.  And yet, in the world of fiction, the solution to a mystery involves a serial killer approximately 83.6% of the time (again, according to my calculations).

Dickens' A Christmas Carol and the Question of Turkey or Goose

In the third chapter or "stave" of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the Spirit of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to the house of his clerk, Bob Cratchit, to witness the Cratchits' Christmas dinner. Their dinner is built around a goose, stuffed with sage and onions, roasted at the baker's shop around the corner, and served with applesauce and potatoes. It is, Dickens tells us, a goose that was a ceremonial event as much as a meal.

Give the Gift of Free Books

Remember how much we all loved Netflix when it was new? (I still love Netflix, myself. We tried Blockbuster for a while and Netflix was far superior.) Being able to rent movies from home was the coolest thing ever—and even now, when we have video on demand, it’s still a far better deal to use Netflix, especially if you tend to watch a lot of movies.

Now there are a bunch of book swap sites you can join for the same concept. Instead of going to the library every week (or a couple times a week, if you’re in my family) for new books, you can swap them with people online, rent them, or even simply buy them super cheaply. Here are some wonderful book exchange websites that are worth checking out this holiday season.