It's Always Some Poor Writer's Birthday: So thank you, I guess, good old Uncle Garrison, for remembering them on good old Minnesota Public Radio. A rather good bunch was born today, too: Nelson Algren [Party in Chicago on Saturday!], Gorky, Vargas Llosa, Russell Banks and Frederic "A Fan's Notes" Exley. [Literary types will inevitably want to play the good old "What do this motley crew have in common?" game. Cheating and false analogies actively encouraged, of course.] In fact, it's been a good week altogether. Be sure to go back to 2001 and 2002 for extra snippets. The notes, written by Keillor, are unassuming, interesting and admirably synthetic. There's also an excellent daily reading of a poem [Real Audio req.] and a running celebration of the calendar's most significant dates. I defy those who are put off by Keillor's sock-knitting, eggnog-sipping, home-on-the-range style not to grudgingly feel, amid the grrrr, an unwelcome twinge of gratitude.
"Listening Post," on now at the Whitney Museum, gathers conversational snippets from thousands of chat rooms and bulletin boards, structures them according to word counts, common phrases and other criteria and then displays them on a grid of more than 200 small rectangular electronic screens. Last week's New Yorker admired the resulting "found poems": "Duct tape and plastic for the White House duct tape, and water in the bathtub, eheh hmmm...."