A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘popular literature

[URBAN NOTE] “A new chapter for a beloved comic hideout”

The Globe and Mail‘s Mark Medley describes how Toronto comic store The Beguiling is managing its move from the soon-to-be-defunct Mirvish Village to a new College Street location.

For nearly two decades, visitors to the Beguiling, the charmingly overstocked comic-book emporium in the heart of Toronto’s Mirvish Village, would often be greeted by the sight of long-time owner Peter Birkemoe sitting in his “office” – perched behind his computer, at the first-floor cash register, surrounded by the ever-encroaching comics, artworks, ‘zines and other ephemera that have made it the most important comic-book store in Canada, and one of the greatest in the world.

“I’ve spent more of my life, hour-wise, awake, in this room, than I’ve spent in any [other] building,” Birkemoe said one morning earlier this month, as he took a break from preparing for the store’s last day, on Tuesday. He laughed, quietly, as if realizing this for the first time. “That will be sad.”

Countless obituaries were written about Honest Ed’s, the discount department store that anchored Mirvish Village, an eclectic block of art studios, restaurants and other small businesses, in the days before the brightly lit retailer shut its doors on Dec. 31, the result of a redevelopment that will significantly alter the southwest corner of Bathurst and Bloor in the coming years. The Beguiling, at least to its customers, is as vital an institution.

Since the store moved into its current home more than 20 years ago, it has served as a sort of clubhouse for many in the city’s comics community. It will survive, in name and in spirit, in a different form – a new location, on College Street, on the edge of Kensington Market, opened last month – but at the same time one can’t help but feel a sense of an ending, that a chapter is coming to a close.

“It will definitely be hard to have that feeling of something just so densely packed with history,” said the comics artist Michael DeForge. “I’m sure the new location will eventually get as lived in, and accumulate that history as it goes on, but that’s going to be a hard thing to get back again.”

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Beyond the Beyond links to a US military science fiction contest.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly notes that journalism is meant to offer criticisms of the president.
  • Crooked Timber has an open forum about the inauguration.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos from seminal 1980-era London club Billy’s.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper reporting on a superflare on brown dwarf EPIC 220186653.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ features Doug Merrill’s meditations on 2009 and 2017.
  • Language Log looks at the etymology of the Vietnamese name “Nguyen.”
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at Donald Trump’s desire for a military parade.
  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump as a winner.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a book on the economics of skyscrapers and notes a skyscraper boom in China.
  • Steve Munro looks at buses and their distribution on TTC networks.
  • Transit Toronto looks at how Exhibition Place work will complicate multiple bus routes.
  • Window on Eurasia notes low levels of Russian productivity, shares a Russian argument as to why Russia and the United States can never be allies in the long term, looks at counterproductive Russian interference in Circassian diaspora institutions, and shares argument suggesting Trump’s style of language explains why he wants to forego complicated multilateral negotiations for bilateral ones where he can dominate.

[LINK] “Here’s What Sci-Fi Can Teach Us About Fascism”

Wired shares excerpts from a recent interview with Bruce Sterling on what science fiction can teach its readers about fascism, and about what science fiction has to learn about itself.

“There’s a kind of rhetorical trick that goes on in science fiction, and in fascism, that kind of says, ‘Don’t really worry about what this means for the guy next door,’” Sterling says. “That it’s so cool and amazing that you should just surrender yourself to the rapture of its fantastic-ness.”

As an example he cites the ending of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which astronaut David Bowman is transformed into a superhuman entity called the Star Child. Sterling says the image is so striking and awe-inspiring that few viewers ever think to ponder the potential downsides of the Star Child.

“It’s not like anybody voted on the space baby,” he says. “It’s not like an ethics commission wrote on the space baby. It’s not like anybody says, ‘What if the space baby turns out to be cruel to certain ethnic minorities?’”

Sterling believes that it’s important to retain your ability to be moved and inspired, but equally important to be selective about the images and ideas that you choose to invest in.

“If you don’t have a sense of wonder it’s like you’re dead inside,” he says. “But your sense of wonder can be used to trick you. You can have a sense of wonder over a thing that’s basically a conjurer’s trick, or a con job, or a rip-off.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 20, 2017 at 5:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Bad Astronomy shares photos of the ripple made by moon Daphnis in the rings of Saturn, as does the Planetary Society Blog.
  • The Broadside Blog questions whether readers actually like their work.
  • Centauri Dreams notes evidence for the discovery of a Jupiter-mass planet in the protoplanetary disk of TW Hydrae.
  • Dangerous Minds links to the 1980s work of Lydia Lunch.
  • Far Outliers reports on how the Afghanistan war against the Soviets acted as a university for jihadists from around the world.
  • Kieran Healy looks at some failures of Google Scholar.
  • Language Hat reports on a fascinating crowdsourced program involving the transcription of manuscripts from Shakespeare’s era, and what elements of pop history and language have been discovered.
  • The LRB Blog compares Trump’s inauguration to those of Ronald Reagan.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an exhibition of the maps of Utah.
  • Understanding Society reports on a grand sociological research project in Europe that has found out interesting things about the factors contributing to young people’s support for the far right.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on instability in the binational North Caucasian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, describes the spectre of pan-Mongolism, and looks at the politicization of biker gangs in Russia.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait mourns the death of Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan and calls for a return to the Moon.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling wonders what future historiography will look like when it’s automatically assumed that British imperialism in South Asia was a bad thing.
  • blogTO highlights an impressive new condo tower planned for Mississauga.
  • D-Brief looks at how a literal heartbeat can transform the perception of an individual by race.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the potential for exoplanets orbiting red dwarfs to be habitable, finding that there seem to be no deal-breakers.
  • Language Hat shares the reflections of Russian-born author Boris Fishman who reads his novel, written in English, translated into the Russian.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money links to a paper looking at the potential for industrial espionage to actually pay off.
  • The LRB Blog considers what will happen to Cuban migration now that Cuban migrants to the United States have no special status.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at post-revolutionary Cairo through film.
  • Savage Minds considers the grounds for potentially treating artificial intelligences as people.
  • Torontoist looks at two rival schools of medicine in 19th century Toronto.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that Washington D.C.’s Freedom Plaza can be cleared of protests.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the potential financial catastrophe of Russia’s declining villages, and looks at Belarus’ national identity.

[URBAN NOTE] “There’s a black market for stolen books in Toronto, apparently”

CBC News’ Ali Chiasson reports on Toronto’s trade in stolen books.

Japanese author Haruki Murakami may be known worldwide for novels that straddle the border between the dreamworld and reality.

But in Toronto he’s better known as the most popular author among literary thieves, at least according to the city’s bookstore owners.

An entire shelf dedicated to Murakami books disappeared in December at the Roncesvalles store A Good Read.

“I lost $800 the last two times this guy hit me,” owner Gary Kir told CBC Toronto. “They’re very easily converted into cash, because they’re very high in demand and they don’t turn up that often used.”

[. . .]

Derek McCormack has worked at bookstores in Toronto for 25 years and says the most shoplifted names come and go in waves.

“It used to be all the beats,” said McCormack, of Type Books on Queen Street West. “Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Then it became [Vladimir] Nabokov by far — you couldn’t keep Lolita on the shelf.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 8, 2017 at 7:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait shares a video showing how tacos are made in space.
  • blogTO shares some classic photos of the TTC in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The Crux goes into more detail about the mesentery.
  • D-Brief notes how the binary star KIC 9832227 is projected to experience a stellar merger in 2022.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting that exoplanets and brown dwarfs are as common around A and F stars as around dimmer Sun-like stars, and links to another paper examining the potential of detecting transits of exoplanets orbiting brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to an article wondering if China’s seizure of a US navy drone could set a precedent for satellite seizures.
  • Language Log links to Yiyun Lee’s article about abandoning Chinese for English.
  • The LRB Blog remembers philosopher Derek Parfit.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at the recent riots in Mexico, caused by rising gas prices.
  • Strange Maps shares informative maps exploring the Netherlands’ internal distinctions.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at how the Russian language has multiple standards despite Russian official claims, and shares complaints about Kaliningrad’s vulnerability.