Random Offerings Upon Return

I’ve been lame in posting lately, so here’s an attempt at playing catch-up:

I recently watched “Tarnation,” which was tremendous (opening with Low’s “Laser Beam” didn’t hurt its chances of making an impression on me); “In Good Company,” which was decent; “The Upside of Anger,” which I didn’t finish; “Broken Flowers,” which hit its own minor notes with integrity but which I think is overrated; “Mondovino,” which was a bit jittery and amateurish but offered a compelling glimpse into the old-vs-new wine conflict; Ingmar Bergman's  “Saraband,” which was depressing but quite good; and “Jay Z: Fade to Black,” which was terrific. Man, he’s impressive.

My friend Anders Smith Lindall, a Chicago-based rock critic, has written a really nice piece on lyric-writing for The Loft Literary Center. His look at Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan is particularly interesting.

Last night I was interviewing the writer Stephen Grace, a former St. Louisan, and he brought up the writer (and former book editor) Tom Bissell. I remembered Bissell’s name from The Believer, but even more from a long essay he wrote for the Boston Review called “Unflowered Aloes: Why Literary Success Is a Matter of Chance, Not Destiny.” I highly recommend it. I haven’t yet read Grace’s novel, “Under Cottonwoods,” but I intend to. Anyone whose favorite novel is “Suttree” gets at least one gold star in my book.

I’ve spent almost no time at the somewhat new blog shared by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, but I dug these photographs of the installation of Richard Serra’s “Joe,” which I never tire of experiencing from the inside.

In an attempt to balance out my literary consumption with books on other subjects, I’m 100 pages into Brian Greene’s “The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality.” Some days it goes okay. Other days (“No one has ever directly seen a probability wave, and conventional quantum mechanical reasoning says that no one ever will”) are less promising.