Tuesday, March 25

Lurking Just Under The Marzipan -

Did we have better quality
Literary Feuds back in the Twentieth Century?

Dick Cavett's is presenting a new theatrical
production about a classic Literary Feud. [nypost]

# SoFlo: Cyber Prof Alex [see sidebar] has been instrumental in bringing Feynlabs computer coding educational program for kids to Miami-Dade, while Broward County seems to be falling into further decline.

The organization hopes to eventually offer some free instruction online for the rest of us, too.

#  Wes Anderson's latest movie,
The Grand Budapest Hotel is reviewed by Rex Reed.

:: Anderson's Austrian Muse ::
:: More on Stefan Zweig ::


Sunday, March 23

More Mean Streets -

Much Awaited: Philip Marlowe's new mystery adventure, The Black-Eyed Blonde, penned by John Banville writing as Benjamin Black has made its publishing debut.

The pressure of many people's expectations must be a heavy weight on Banville, but I'm guessing there's also some interest in making a movie out of it, which prompts the burning question of who should be cast as the new
Philip Marlowe.

# Jake Kerridge reviews it.

# Mark Lawson reviews it.

# David L Ulin at LAT reviews it.

# Reinventing Philip Marlowe by Banville.

# Jon Wiener interviews John Banville.


FL's News in Tights -

Buddy Nevins reports that Warren Buffet has purchased local TV Channel 10-WPLG, an ABC affiliate, from the WaPo Graham Family holdings.

# MegaCon (like ComicCon)
opens this weekend in Orlando.

# Carl Hiaasen, speaking in Sarasota recently,
described Florida as a "vortex of weirdness."


Saturday, March 15

Amanda Knox: Student or Diva?

It was a real struggle this past week to set aside some quiet time in which to view the videotape of Amanda Knox made by the UW DAILY people. I finally managed to view Part One twice through - but only in the middle of the night. There is no way I am going to sit through Parts Two and Three.

I don't make it a practice to be cruel, but I am going to share some of my reactions and impressions with you.

It doesn't bother me that university academics wanted to make a documentary record of Knox's story, but I have some problems with them posting it on YouTube for the random public. This could have been kept in a university library for legitimate scholars to view.

What journalistic ethics justify simply giving Knox yet another platform on which to air her theatrical perplexities? Has she not had the opportunity to tell her story over and over again before? This is not appropriate viewing material for those under 18 years old who are already having a hard time distinguishing between fictional entertainment and external reality. But it continues to drag on like a stale Reality TV Series long past its freshness date and designated shelf life.

Judging by the comments, it may be making a fabulous impression on teenyboppers who adulate her and who may want to emulate her. Then, we have to be concerned with copycat crimes. On the face of it, there is nothing to distinguish this videotape from any teen slasher movie Hollywood debuts every summer: turning yourself into a celebrity by killing your roommate.

She starts out by saying:
I remember thinking,
I don't know what to think.

Over and over again she keeps saying that everything seemed strange, but she left out the part in which she took mind-altering drugs which make one's perception of the world seem strange. So, it's up to her to manufacture an exaggerated melodramatic teen slasher movie out of this trail of utterly banal and prosaic bread crumbs (eg: feces in the toilet; someone cut themselves while shaving their legs; and a funny! dismembered foot). It looks like an elaborate setup from the start.

Here, Knox claims she didn't know how to call "911" in Italy. And I don't believe that for a second. She planned an extended stay in a foreign country, but never read a basic primer for everyday life there? This claim has no credibility whatsoever.

For the record, I don't hate Amanda Knox. But the more she tries to perform as a pretentious pseudo-intellectual, the more obnoxious she is making herself. What is the theme of this UW DAILY videotape? Wait, let me guess: even skanks can aspire to be eggheads.

*  *  *  *  *
What is that foul odor? Can you recognise the smell of death if you encounter it? Experienced Homicide Detectives can.

When a person dies, the body begins to decompose and it enters into a putrefaction process. The smell of death may fill the room and permeate your nostrils. You may feel it clinging to you.

Some killers manipulate the cadaver after death or pose their victim's corpse for presentation or dress the corpse in different clothing. We have such a case at No 7 Pergola.

*  *  *  *  *
My patience with this case is wearing thin.  The sooner this entire process is over, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

:: UW DAILY on Knox: Part One YouTube ::

:: Complete Transcript pdf ::

:: DAILY UW: Knox Returns ::


Friday, March 7

The Misdiscovery of a Cadaver -

The story of a homicide generally
begins with the discovery of a cadaver . . .

Thus, the story of the homicide at 7 Pergola St in Perugia begins in the usual way: a neighbor noticed something amiss and called the police to investigate.

The police made an effort to track down the owner of a couple of mobile phones found on the neighbor's property. They went to the address listed for the owner of the mobile phones and, when they arrived at 7 Pergola, they discovered the cadaver of Meredith Kercher through an intermediary acting on their behalf.

Amanda Knox never saw the cadaver, but rapidly emailed her friends back in Seattle that she was under direct orders from the Italian police not to talk about this homicide case with anyone and that she was disobeying their direct orders because she was going to tell them about it anyway. Here's how she started her account:

"this is m account of how i found my roommate
murdered the morning of friday, november 2nd."

Right from the start, she told them a flagrant untruth. And it was only the first in an endless series of untruths, inconsistencies, contradictions, and spins.

It was already at this point that the story of the homicide at 7 Pergola developed a malignant tumor called Amanda's Fairytale, and the two stories diverged ever more widely.

Amanda's Fairytale is a combination of classic teen slasher movie combined with a Reality TV Series which features Knox in a starring role as a sort of superannuated Nancy Drew, Girl Detective. It is riddled with melodrama manufactured out of otherwise prosaic details.

And then, she quickly violated one of the Top Ten Commandments: Thou shall not bear false witness. She claimed to be a material witness to the homicide which she claimed was committed by her boss, who had an ironclad alibi.

It was at the point of this divergence in the two stories that the executives at the American Mainstream Media made a crucial policy decision: they decided to cover the homicide at 7 Pergola St strictly for entertainment purposes only and not as news at all.

This pathological form of entertainment continues today. Recently, student reporters or videographers at the University of Washington put a camera in front of Amanda Knox and turned it on. They must be adding this videotape to their Ted Bundy Vault.

Eventually, I expect, someone like Dog the Bounty Hunter will pick her up and dump her on the doorstep of the Italian Carabinieri. Until she is collected from her bolt-hole in Seattle, residents of that city will just have to put up with her.


Thursday, February 27

Through The Picket Fence -

Chicago-based Tribune Co's proposed spinoff of its newspapers will probably happen by midyear, according to a recent Bloomberg news report. Tribune is the parent company of the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is going to use Nextdoor Dot Com to alert residents about crimes in their neighborhoods. The website is free to use, but may feel intrusive to personal privacy for those who are sensitive to such issues.

The San Francisco-based company which designed the templates and code for this operation has already established pages for 69 different neighborhoods within the city’s boundaries, which should cover about three-quarters of the local population.

And in other
local Communication News . . . 

For the third time in two days, burglars have used a car to smash through the front entrance of a South Florida cell phone store.

Although fewer than 3 in 5 adults in the U.S. currently own smartphones, the popularity of these gadgets has increased among the illiterate population with their ability to respond to spoken directions or to translate oral dictation into text.

"Unfortunately, it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person."

Sunday, February 23

Perusing Some Literary Signposts -

As a teenager, I dropped into the Limelight Cafe on Sheridan Square one weekend afternoon with a friend. We were sitting there, chatting over our beverages, when a rumpled man in a heavy tweed overcoat entered the premises. He was carrying a large bundle of newspapers.

Then, I heard a voice nearby narrate the explanation as if it belonged to an announcer on the radio: "Oh, look, it's Joe Gould! He's a well-known Greenwich Village character."

If Joe Gould had his secrets, so did his biographer, Joseph Mitchell. Theirs was some sort of fateful conjunction. Joshua Prager writes about Gould's mysterious benefactress, whom you may have already encountered elsewhere in the annals of Literature.

This was a transitional era for Greenwich Village. Although there were still some old-fashioned Bohemians living there, including poet EE Cummings, increasingly, the artistic and creative residents were those who found commercial employment in advertising and tv, etc.

Some of the old bars and restaurants continued to prosper, but the demographics of the neighborhood were inexorably changing.

# Sally McGrane takes us on a
literary junket to Davos, Switzerland. 

# Huw Nesbitt stirs up old controversy for a younger generation: the success of two scandalous authors, Celine and Henry Miller.

# How the Internet Uses
Nostalgia by Megan Garber.

# What about those Selfies?
Keep Smiling by Tara Isabella Burton.

# After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman is a new mystery novel based on the real-life disappearance of a Baltimore con man and bookmaker; reviewed here by Adam Woog, who described it as spellbinding.

# JK Rowling's new crime novel
The Silkworm will debut in London on June 19th.

# Fantômas is Louise Doughty's guilty pleasure.


Monday, February 17

A Musical Sucker Punch -

Some Headline Briefs From Florida . . .

Items from Lily Pulitzer's estate will be up for auction on February 22nd.  The fashion icon died at her Palm Beach home in April. Furniture, art, and decorative objects are included in the offerings. A preview opened Friday.

# An off-duty Corrections Officer accidentally discharged his handgun Saturday night, wounding six people in a Fort Lauderdale restaurant.

# Condo Commandos
blocked pickup of cadaver by hearse.

*  *  *  *  *
There has been a noticable decline in Civility in our society in recent years. Two Florida cases which have received national attention are examples of this phenomenon: a man using his mobile phone in a movie theater and some teenagers playing loud music.

In a previous era, movies were shown in ornate palaces with numerous ushers in attendance who would eject miscreants. Today, movies are shown in movieplexes having a dozen or more screening rooms, and I can't remember the last time I saw an usher. Is there a sign at the ticket window directing viewers to turn off their mobile phones before entering the screening room?

I haven't gone to a public movie theater since the first Harry Potter film, so I don't know what's happening in that environment these days, but I expect that in a darkened movie theater it might be hard to discern that a missile being hurled at you is just a package of popcorn.

Teenagers playing loud music can be a painful problem. Some of their equipment has an intensely reverberating base speaker which can feel like it's vibrating through your bones and teeth. Since Sound Battery has been used as a weapon by the military, it might be considered a form of anti-social agression.

I am not implying that all rude people should be shot to death, but the MSM has not been discussing the issue of Civility in public behavior, as far as I've seen.