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Thursday, May 5, 2011
On 'proofiness', 'randumbness' statistical boo-boos and other high-level mathematical theories.

Numbers lie. How so? Because they always act more innocent than they really are.


As professor of journalism Charles Seife explains in Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception, numbers as used in everyday life are accessories to objects, people, money, votes, and everything else that is endlessly shady and complex. This is perhaps better grasped with humor than with respect, and so Seife introduces us to ‘proofiness’, the easily manipulated, fake authority of figures, and its associate ‘randumbness’, the tendency to identify patterns in data where none really exist.


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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Floyd Gottfredson's strip was a fluid, rubber-limbed, sassy, slangy, breathless, seamless mix of absurdity and adventure.

Over the decades, much has been lost from the world of newspaper comics. With the reduction in size came a reduction in scope, grandeur, and ambition.


In the ‘30s, the comic pages were littered with gag strips, adventures, and a wonderful screwball hybrid of the two. The most popular was Sidney Smith’s The Gumps, now shamefully forgotten. Others were Wash Tubbs (later Captain Easy) and Thimble Theater (later Popeye).


And then there was Mickey. Walt Disney started the daily strip in 1930 and turned it over to one Floyd Gottfredson as a two-week replacement. He stayed with the strip 45 years.


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Thursday, Apr 14, 2011
Candid style photos make Grey's book a very personal work. She urges mainstream media to “send a positive image. Don’t just give the image of sex. Talk about it."

I don’t want to have to be what you expect of me. I want to be what I want to be. I feel I’ve done that and I’ll continue to do that by making my own choices.—Sasha Grey


For those of you who do not recognize her name, you may recognize her face. Sasha Grey has been featured in music videos from the Roots (“Birthday Girl”) and the Smashing Pumpkins (“Superchrist”), has starred in HBO’s Entourage as Vincent Chase’s girlfriend and she’s appeared in American Apparel ads. Grey also played a high class call girl in The Girlfriend Experience, an experimental film by director Steven Soderbergh who selected Grey as the lead because she was someone forging a new path in the adult film business. Though she has moved on from the adult industry (only making it official very recently), fans of that period of her life may find her latest release engaging because it pulls from those experiences. But Grey doesn’t transition into Hollywood naively thinking it is a vast improvement. She urges mainstream media to “send a positive image. Don’t just give the image of sex. Talk about it.”


Tagged as: neu sex, sasha grey
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Monday, Mar 7, 2011

To open Shade Rupe’s Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms at random is to drop into a vortex. It’s 500 pages of double-columned interviews, conducted over a 20-year period, with artists in some way “trangressive”, pioneering or peculiar.


These include filmmakers such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, who discusses his Paris happenings with the Panic group and his fateful encounter with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Other directors include William Lustig (Maniac), Gaspar Noé (Irreversible), Jim Vanbebber (The Manson Family), and Buddy Giovanazzo (Combat Shock). There are also performers (Udo Kier, Divine, the recently deceased Tura Satana) as well as various writers, illustrators, musicians and performance artists.


Check out Zamora the Torture King, who says “You’ve got your body and then this mysterious area inside, and these sensations that can happen that you’re not normally coming in contact with.”  Indeed, this is a book that’s littered with not-safe-for-work photos.


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Friday, Feb 25, 2011
Mills revisits fond memories of reading the Guinness Book of World Records as a child (it sure beats Nightmare on Elm Street), and the lasting distortion the series has wrought upon her life.

A while back I was reading an article on the potential of celebrity children to feel frankly a little silly about being named, say, Peaches Honeybloom Geldof, once they come of age and start wanting careers of their own.


Besides real sympathy, the whole thing—as things are wont to do to me at the oddest moments—triggered off nostalgic flashbacks to my boon companion of rainy afternoons past: the Guinness Book of World Records. Now, I’m not talking about the post-millennium “Guinness World Records’; in fact, leafing through these new ‘relevant’ editions, all foil-gilt covers and colourblocked gossip (“Most Successful Plastic Surgery!”) makes me kind of sad.


The Guinness book of my preteen-hood was a fat Bantam Books paperback, densely packed with doggedly businesslike prose (“The claims of M. Michael Lotito to have eaten a bicycle must, however, be regarded as apocryphal.”) The combination of kaleidoscopic detail and determination to make sense of it was just endlessly charming to me. I can’t really recommend a better way to inspire wholesale fascination with the human experience.


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