Pursued by a Bear »

  • Simon Cowell is an artist?

    April 30, 2010 @ 5:15 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Just to get my back up of a Friday, I’ve been checking out the 2010 Time magazine list of the 100 people “who most affect our world.” And among the 25 artists carefully selected is the artist currently known as Simon Cowell. He of the art.  Not trying to be all high-browy about this, but if Simon Cowell is an artist then hells bells, we all deserve inclusion.  Granted, he “affects our world”, whether we like it or not, but artist? I’ll even allow Conan O’Brien entry on the list based on his comedian credentials, but Cowell’s inclusion is  taking this definition a leeetle too far. All I’m saying is if he moves to West Cork and gets a tax exemption, I’m outta here. Bertie’s artist exemption was bad enough, but adding Cowell to the list would put me over the edge, is all I’m saying.

    Anyway, also the list are Lady Gaga, Kathryn Bigelow, Oprah Winfrey (surprise!), Robert Pattinson, Ashton Kutcher, Neil Patrick Harris (a.k.a. Doogie Howser), one of the actors from Glee, the guys who wrote Lost and Sandra Bullock. Writers at least get a look-in, if you count the guys who wrote Lost, and Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, authors of the online comic strip Penny Arcade. Chetan Bhagat is there, alright, alongside Han Han, now best known for his blog. But Banksy’s on his own as far as the visual arts go. Sure, the list is qualified as being the people who most affect “our life”, our being Time magazine staff, presumably, or Americans, or some royal “our” of Time/CNN-ness that encompasses everyone who reads the one or watches the other. For the rest of us, however, the list might look a little different. So if I tell you you can all pick ONE artist for “our” list, “our” in this case referring to Pursued By A Bear readers, who would you include? I’m gonna go out on a limb myself and say Malcolm Gladwell. HAHA! Just kidding, as they’d say in Time magazine! I’m really tossing around names like Jeffrey Eugenides, Sufjan Stevens, Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Safran-Foer, Lenny Abrahamson, and Will Oldham, but right now, I’m going to say Marilynne Robinson. Over to you . . .

  • Opening lines

    April 28, 2010 @ 11:33 am | by Fiona McCann

    Sinead Gleeson has a lovely piece in today’s newspaper about opening lines, with eight writers chipping in on their favourites. “Call me Ishmael” is mentioned, as is Camus’s “Mother died today”. Nobody went for “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” nor the even more recognisable “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.” Here are some more well-known opening lines: top marks if you guess where they’re from without recourse to Google. Do they work? Why? Have any better opening lines to add? (more…)

  • Offset videos now online

    April 26, 2010 @ 5:41 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Remember when you couldn’t nab tickets for Offset earlier this year and you were all gutted about missing the likes of Massimo Vignelli or Chip Kidd or Oliver Jeffers? Well now’s your chance to catch up on at least some of what you missed, with new videos available of a few of this year’s highlights, including Hugh Linehan’s interview with Peter Blake, and the ever-amusing Chip Kidd on book cover design. All available if you clicky here. As you were, then.

  • YouTube, for all your arts and culture hits

    April 22, 2010 @ 8:39 am | by Fiona McCann

     Apart from hilarious rewrites of the famous bunker scene from Downfall, now sadly an endangered species, YouTube has plenty more to entertain the erudite and amuse the artsy, as Brian Boyd points out in today’s paper. Here’s the top ten arts gems of YouTube as the Irish Times sees it – any more to add to the list?

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  • Get thee hence, vile ash plume

    April 19, 2010 @ 4:36 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Begone volcanic ash, at least in time for June 1st, when the Dublin Writers’ Festival kicks off. Philip Pullman’s conversation with Fintan O’Toole scheduled for Saturday has already been scuppered thanks to Icelandic eruptions, so we’ll have no more of that, particularly given the cracking programme that’s just been announced for the DWF. Ian McEwan (not his biggest fan, though was very fond of On Chesil Beach), David Mitchell (he of the remarkable Cloud Atlas fame), history heavyweight Antony Beevor and lots of other uncancellables on the programme. Course, if you can’t wait till June 1st, you can get your literary fix at the Gutter Bookshop this Friday for the first in the Some Blind Alleys Reading Series. Molly McCloskey will be given this week’s talk, on the theme Is autobiography reality? which will be followed by readings of autobiographical work by new nonfiction voices in Ireland. The series continues on July 3rd when the delightful Brian Dillon will discuss the question When is nonfiction art? and concludes with Carlo Gebler’s discussion of How does death influence truth? on September 3rd. Can’t wait that long? Looky here, then, it’s Paul Muldoon on popstrel Ke$sha’s Shakespearean references.

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  • Another day, another short(ish)list

    April 14, 2010 @ 5:17 pm | by Fiona McCann

    This time it’s for the Irish Book of the Decade, and it’s to be decided through an online vote. (Link now updated, folks: should work, finally). There’s a strange mix of apples and oranges in there, so it’s hard to know how we can compare The Speckled People by Hugo Hamilton with Lessons in Heartbreak by Cathy Kelly or The Pope’s Children by David McWilliams. Still, it’s our task as readers to judge like with unlike in this instance. So what gets your vote for this Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards’ prize? Find the shortlist of fifty after the fold . . .
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  • Shortlists and shutters

    April 13, 2010 @ 4:25 pm | by Fiona McCann

    The Impac shortlist is out, winnowed down from 156 novels to eight final contenders. Eileen Battersby is a big fan of  The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker, while we both welcome the inclusion of Joseph O’Neill’s excellent Netherland. It’s also pleasantly predictable to find Marilynne Robinson’s Home up for inclusion, the only Robinson novel I have yet to read. Both Housekeeping and Gilead knocked my socks off, however, so good things are expected of Home. As for The Believers? Zoe Heller‘s second novel is a clever, funny and astutely observed book, but I’m not picking it for the 100,000 prize. It’s still all to play for, but I’d be interested to hear some more informed views about the other books on this list. Anybody read the Barbery or the Edric, for example?

    Course, while I should have been brushing up on my Barbery, I was off at the flicks getting thoroughly played by Scorcese in his anxiety-inducing horror/thriller Shutter Island. Sure, it was scarey-by-numbers stuff: The storm! The crazy asylum inmates! The creepy doctors! The flickering lightbulbs! But it was scarey stuff all the same. Di Caprio makes a fair enough fist of the protagonist, and even if you don’t get all the cinematic in-jokes and hommages to B-movies past, there’s still something impactful about an old-school film made with a hefty dollop of overstatement and some 21st century pizzaz. Plus, it’s hard not to love Mark Ruffalo, at least for me. Not for dodgy tickers, mind. (more…)

  • One down

    April 7, 2010 @ 12:36 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Will Ronald be suitable for this refrain? Might a steer be so festive? Is a star starry along with fifty more? All questions posed in today’s Crosaire, compiled by the inimitable Derek Crozier who died on Saturday. Described by Irish Times crossword editor Lorna Kernan, as “a real gentleman”, Crozier had been filing his crosswards for the newspaper since 1943. Stimulating many and stumping many more, Crosaire became a daily challenge for hordes of crossword fans, myself included. My best Crosaire memories involve sitting by the fire with my mother, who would eventually start filling in words that fit the grid, regardless of the clues, and hide giggling behind the newspaper when challenged on her entries. Still, she was slick on the Crosaire draw, and the more time she spent with Crosaire, the better she became at solving his daily puzzles, despite recently cheating on him on more than one occasion with Sudoku. Even still, I know I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Crozier for hours of head-scratching happiness. What about you? Are the Crosaire crosswords your daily delight or the bane of your existence? What were your favourite clues over the years? What’s your Crosaire completion record? And what’s the answer to today’s seven down?

  • Update

    April 6, 2010 @ 2:22 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Reading: A Preparation for Death, by Greg Baxter. Who says contemporary writers aren’t writing about contemporary Ireland? Baxter is all over 21st century Dublin, and all over a lot more besides. Will come back with more thoughts when I’m done.

    Watching: The West Wing, Season 4. Yes, I know, but I missed it the first time around. Fascinating insights into a fantasy presidency. Claudia Jean gets my vote.

    Listening to: Po’ Girl. Because I’ve run out of Be Good Tanyas albums to buy. Which, as you can see (below) is a crying shame.

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