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Quiet Days in Malibu: Beck’s Recent Album

Below is an excerpt from a review by Dave Coon of Beck’s most recent album, “Morning Phase,” originally published on Avidly, one of our LARB Channels. 

Artists have been trailed out of the box canyons north of Los Angeles by enemies, real or imagined, for decades. Jules Amthor, Chandler’s sociopathic psychic, cornered Phillip Marlow in one of these canyons. Joan Didion haunted the curves of the PCH in her white corvette and Neil Young was pursued by an army of mutant machine gun toting dune buggies down the dunes and onto the beach.

Other than the need for record sales and lunch, what is chasing Beck out of Malibu these days?

Beck is among us again, staring out at his listeners from the cover of “Morning Phase”, his recently released record, and his first for new label home, Capitol Records. His twelfth long-player dropped this spring and — other than the fact that it is a gorgeous sounding record — I’m not sure what to make of it. Continue reading

Wang Zihao, photo credit Dou Yiping

Why Study Journalism in China?

Photo: Wang Zihao. © Dou Yiping

By Lu-Hai Liang and Dou Yiping

China’s journalism schools, like those in many countries, are packed full of students preparing to join an industry where the supply of graduates far exceeds the number of positions available.

The press may be perceived as the fourth estate in the West, but some journalism students in China follow a “Marxist view” that includes supporting party principles, criticizing the “bourgeois concept of free speech,” and maintaining correct “guidance of public opinion,” according to an article on the China Media Project’s website. Continue reading

Sidney H. Griffith, The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the ‘People of the Book’ in the Language of Islam. Jews, Christians and Muslims from the Ancient to the Modern World, Princeton University Press, 2013, 247pp.

The Arabic Bible Before Islam: From Marginalia

Clare Wilde on Sidney H. Griffith’s The Bible in Arabic, Excerpted From Marginalia

Non-Muslims, including Jews and Christians, have spoken Arabic since before the revelation of the Qur’an. Was there an Arabic Bible before the rise of Islam? Or, did the appearance of the Arabic Qur’an shape the Arabic Bible? These are among the questions addressed in Sidney Griffith’s masterful book, The Bible in Arabic. Continue reading

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Dear Television Weekly Roundup: June 8–14

By Jacob Surpin

It’s been an unusually quiet week for Dear Television. Mad Men is currently on a mid-season hiatus, and there is no essay on Louie this week. Still, a quick glance at the LARB Main Site leaves no doubt  the section is doing ok: Dear TV pieces currently hold the nos. 1, 4, and 7 spots on our “Most Viewed” list. Last week’s roundup is here; this week brought a singular essay on the new Game of Thrones.

Dear Television, June 8–14

  • Sarah Mesle on the latest Game of Thrones episode, “The Watchers on the Wall.” Mesle’s coverage this week is, loosely, about genre. Picking out the central tension in the episode, and connecting that tension to a topic of debate in the intellectual community, Mesle, as usual, is at her insightful best toying with the big ideas oft inspired by Thrones. As she notes in her discussion of genre: “Rules and formulas are not the rejection of subtle meaning but rather the condition of their possibility… Perhaps Game of Thrones can help us remember that the question is less ‘is there a formula?’ than ‘what is done with that formula?'”
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Ramona at Forty: From Avidly

 

(Editor’s Note: This piece was originally posted on Avidly, one of our LARB Channels, and was featured on USA Today this morning. What they said: “If you read Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books as a kid like I did, you’ll want to read this piece.” We’ve reproduced it in full below; read it here, or read it on Avidly.)

By Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

I always knew Beverly Cleary was a great writer. I read every single one of her books growing up — even the lesser-discussed ones like Otis Spofford and Ellen Tebbits with all the angst over something called “long underwear” that was mystifying to me as a kid in the 80s. I read most of them multiple times, and certain, VERY IMPORTANT aspects of those books have stuck with me for life. I still want to make Fong Quock’s rice “so that each grain was separate and fluffy and there was a crisp brown crust on the bottom of the kettle,” I still want to know how Emily’s crust rose through her custard pie for the church potluck, and I still really, really want to squeeze an entire tube of toothpaste into the bathroom sink.

So, yeah, Beverly Cleary: great writer, as certified by 10-year-old me. However, I didn’t realize just how great a writer she was until I reread her books as an adult. Or, more specifically, as a parent. Continue reading

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Graffiti in Beijing

By Cutler Dozier

A skinny 21-year-old Beijinger with shoulder length hair, wearing baggy jeans and a worn t-shirt, stares through his paint-speckled glasses, transfixed by the stack of multicolored graffiti cans arranged in front of him. He goes by the name WEK, and is deciding what colors he will use to paint his name on various walls and shop fronts around the city. He is part of a booming graffiti scene in Beijing and is possibly the most prolific graffiti writer in mainland China today. Continue reading

Marginalia Radio Interviews Elizabeth Johnson

Marginalia’s interview with Elizabeth Johnson, part of their ongoing series of radio-style interviews, was published today. Elizabeth Johnson is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University, and author of many bestselling books, including Quest for the Living God. Her new book is Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love. The book’s title comes from chapter 12 of Job: “Ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea, will declare to you [that they come from the hand of God.]“

 

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Dear Television Weekly Roundup: May 31 – June 7

By Jacob Surpin

It’s summer, and times are changing here at the LARB Blog. In addition to the LARB Channels features, today’s post is the first in our weekly roundups of the essays written by the lovely folks of Dear Television. The essays are originally posted on the LARB Main Site (and can usually be found in the “Most Viewed This Week” section), and we’ll be cataloging them here each week for convenience. This week brought essays on Game of ThronesLouie, and Mad Men.

Dear Television, May 31 – June 7

  • Sarah Mesle on the latest Game of Thrones episode, “The Mountain and the Viper.” Mesle manages both to recap the episode as only a true fan can, and also advance a painfully clever argument about names, and how “private names intersect with public categories — the categories a culture makes to create its sense of what’s real and normal.”
  • Lili Loufbourow on the last two episodes of Louie, “Elevator, Part 6″ and “Pamela, Part 1.” A careful exploration, via longform essay, of Louie’s agency, his redeeming qualities (or lack thereof), and his instances of misogyny – and how they intersect.
  • And because we didn’t do a roundup last week, but this essay is too good to miss: Phillip Maciak on the latest Mad Men episode, “Waterloo.” From the second paragraph: “So Ida Blankenship wasn’t an astronaut. But neither is Roger Sterling, neither is Don Draper, and, most pointedly, neither is Bert Cooper. Burgerchef isn’t a family table, a Carousel isn’t a time machine, and the little boy who watches TV in your living room isn’t your son.”
Kevin Hector, Theology Without Metaphysics: God, Language, and the Spirit of Recognition, Cambridge University Press, 2011, 302pp., $31.99

To Speak Truly About God: A Review From Marginalia

The beginning of the essay over on Marginalia, by Rowan Williams:

When we say that something is true or adequate, what are we claiming?

We might be implying that we have captured the essence of what we are talking about, that we are representing exhaustively or isomorphically the structure of the object. Increasingly, though, philosophical discourse has rendered such a claim problematic, and in connection with language about God it is especially difficult: such claims can be morally objectionable as well as philosophically over-ambitious. Continue reading

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Satire, Cyberspace and the 25th Anniversary of the June 4th Massacre

I learned several weeks ago that China Digital Times was about to publish Crazy Crab’s Chinese Dream in Cartoons, an e-book featuring material by a satirist whose work I had enjoyed seeing displayed on their site. When I got my advance copy, I began looking through it eagerly, expecting to be amused or moved by cartoons that I hadn’t seen before as well as appreciating the chance to look at some old favorites again. I wasn’t disappointed. And an added plus was making my way through the accompanying explanatory material provided by Sophie Beach, a central figure at CDT, on topics ranging from the derivation of the cartoonist’s name to the symbolism of some of the harder to parse panels.

It was nice to learn as well that the proceeds from sales of the e-book, which was published on May 12, were to be split between the cartoonist and CDT. It’s a site worthy of support, as it’s one of the key online ventures that I rely on—as do many others interested in Chinese current affairs—to keep up to speed on how China is being covered by the media and on how the Party tries to scrub the web clean of the many things it fears or simply dislikes. Continue reading