Episode 135 – Irvine Welsh / Dmitry Samarov

Virtual Memories Show #135:
Irvine Welsh / Dmitry Samarov

“What would young, pre-Trainspotting Irvine Welsh think of you now?”

“He’d think I was a total wanker.”

Irvine Welsh has created unforgettable characters in his novels, beginning with the cast of Trainspotting in 1993. We caught up in his Chicago home and talked about writing, boxing, the art world, the White Sox, the creative flourish that’s seen him publish three novels in four years, the perils of success and exhausting your autobiography, the periods of life he’s interested in writing about, his first meeting with Iggy Pop, his childhood and the school-days’ balance of being a reader and being a jock, the narcissism of online living, Trainspotting over the years, Edinburgh’s failed gentrification, the ways that America’s friendlier than Scotland, and more! Give it a listen!

“I think it’s good for me as a writer not to be hanging out with writers all the time.”

We also talk about his critique of global capitalism, the problems with permanent austerity, American and UK tabloid culture, standing up David Bowie (twice), returning to Ulysses every few years, the ways William S. Burroughs helps rewire his brain, and the great anonymous allure of the first-time novelist.

“Instagram is like Methodone to Twitter’s heroin”

dmitrybw

Then Dmitry Samarov rejoins the show to talk about his memoir-in-progress, his paintings, his latest readings, and his decision to jump off the social network treadmill. This episode also includes my justification for being a New York Yankees fan, as well as my problematic relationship with superhero comics. Give it a listen!

We mention quite a few books in this episode. Here’s they are:

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

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About our Guests

Irvine Welsh is the author of Trainspotting, Ecstasy, Filth (adapted for film in 2013), Glue, and Crime, among other works. His latest novel is A Decent Ride. Welsh is also producing movies and writing screenplays. A native of Edinburgh, he lives in Chicago and Miami. You can find a more extensive bio at his website.

Dmitry Samarov was born in Moscow, USSR, in 1970. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1978. He got in trouble in first grade for doodling on his Lenin Red Star pin and hasn’t stopped doodling since. He graduated with a BFA in painting at printmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1993. Upon graduation he promptly began driving a cab — first in Boston, then after a time, in Chicago. He is the author of two books, Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab, and Where To?: A Hack Memoir. Go check out his paintings, and maybe buy some.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald. The conversations were recorded in the homes of Irvine Welsh and Dmitry Samarov on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on the same equipment in a hotel room in Washington, DC. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro.

Podcast – Jewish Gothic and the Restless Artist

Virtual Memories Show: Sara Lippmann and Drew Friedman –
Jewish Gothic and the Restless Artist

“My father, to this day, will still call and say, ‘It’s not too late for medical school!'” –Sara Lippmann

Sara Lippmann on The Virtual Memories Show

Drew Friedman returns to the Virtual Memories Show

Come for the Friedman, stay for the Lippmann! Or vice versa! This week’s podcast features two great conversations: first I talk with Drew Friedman at Small Press Expo ’14 about his great new book of portraits, Heroes Of The Comics: Portraits Of The Pioneering Legends Of Comic Books (Fantagraphics), then Sara Lippmann and I solve the gender imbalance issue in literature, and the MFA vs. NYC issue, to boot! We talk about her debut short story collection, Doll Palace (Dock Street Press), getting over the fear of writing, how she lost the Rolex account for GQ, and more!

“I drew them older so you could see the weight of their careers on their faces.” –Drew Friedman

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

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About our Guest

Sara Lippmann is the author of the story collection, Doll Palace (Dock Street Press). Her stories have been published in The Good Men Project, Wigleaf, Slice magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, Connotation Press, Joyland and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2012 fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and co-hosts the Sunday Salon, a longstanding reading series in the East Village.

Drew Friedman is an award-winning illustrator, cartoonist and painter. His work has appeared in Raw, Weirdo, SPY, National Lampoon, Snarf, The New York Times, MAD, The New Yorker, BLAB!, The New York Observer, The Wall Street Journal, HONK!, Rolling Stone, Field & Stream, TIME, The Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, and more. His comics and illustrations have been collected in several volumes, the latest, Too Soon?, published by Fantagraphics in 2010. His collection of portraits, Drew Friedman’s Sideshow Freaks, was published by Blast books in 2011. He has published three collections of paintings of Old Jewish Comedians (1, 2 and 3), but none of Old Episcopal Comedians. He also raises champion beagles with his wife, K. Bidus. You can find his full bio and buy his art at his fine art prints site and you really should read his blog.

Credits: This episode’s music is Sure Shot by the Beastie Boys. The conversation with Drew Friedman was recorded at the Bethesda North Marriott and the conversation with Sara Lippmann was recorded at an undisclosed location on the Upper West Side on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photos of Ms. Lippmann and Mr. Friedman by me.

Podcast – The War Poet

Jonathan Rose on the Virtual Memories Show

Virtual Memories Show: Jonathan Rose – The War Poet

“Churchill was one of the last members of the Aesthetic Movement, except he applied his aestheticism to war.”

Professor Jonathan Rose joins the show to talk about his new book, The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale University Press). It’s a fascinating work about the books and plays that influenced one of the 20th century’s greatest statesmen, drawing connections from Churchill’s literary interests (and aspirations) to his policy decisions. Prof. Rose tells us about the most surprising literary influence he discovered, Churchill’s roots in Victorian melodrama, his love of the coup de theatre, his no-brow approach to art, how Hitler was like a photo-negative of Churchill, and why a politician like him would never survive in today’s party-line system.

“Just as Oscar Wilde was a public performer who created a persona, I think Churchill did something very similar in his life. His greatest creation was Winston Churchill. It was his greatest work of art.”

Along the way, Prof. Rose also tells us about the one book he wishes Churchill had read, why Churchill would love the internet, why so many politicians cite him as an influence but fail to live up to his example, what it’s like teaching history to students who weren’t alive during the Cold War, and why we need more literary biographies of political figures (at least, for those who read).

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

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About our Guest

Jonathan Rose is William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew University. He was the founding president of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, and he is coeditor of that organization’s journal, Book History. His book The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes: Second Edition won the Longman-History Today Historical Book of the Year Prize, the American Philosophical Society Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History, the British Council Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies, the SHARP Book History Prize, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize. It was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Award and the British Academy Book Prize, and named a Book of the Year by the Economist magazine. His other publications include The Edwardian Temperament, 1895-1919, The Holocaust and the Book: Destruction and Preservation (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book), and A Companion to the History of the Book (with Simon Eliot). His latest book is The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor (Yale University Press).

Credits: This episode’s music is Mr. Churchill Says by The Kinks (duh). The conversation was recorded at Mr. Rose’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into my brand-new Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Prof. Rose by me.

Podcast: Critical Mass

Frank Wilson on books!

Virtual Memories Show: Frank Wilson – Critical Mass

“We were taught with the idea that these books meant something, that it was something vital to your life, that if you read these books you could understand what was going on around you better than you could if you didn’t. I don’t know if anyone’s doing that now.”

Time to wrap up our August book critics miniseries! Following our conversations with Michael Dirda and Jessa Crispin, we have Frank Wilson, who’s been reviewing books for FIFTY YEARS. Frank, who launched the Books, Inq. blog in 2005, talks about the changes in book culture over that half-century, the marvel of Tolstoy, his picks for most underrated and most overrated authors, the perils of using big-name writers as book reviewers, and more!

“I think that blogging has wiped out the book reviewing business but it does wonders for the literary business.”

We also talk about his life as a Catholic Taoist, the similarities of poetry and religion, whether Catholics can write good novels, the biggest gap in his literary background, when it’s okay to break the rules of Haiku (and other forms), and why he thinks Willa Cather is truly the Great American Novelist!

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

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About our Guest

Frank Wilson is celebrating his 50th year of book reviewing. His reviews have appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines, but mainly the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he served as book editor until 2008. In 2005, he launched Books, Inq.: The Epilogue, a blog about books and publishing. He has an entertaining bio over here.

Credits: This episode’s music is Sinner’s Prayer by Ray Charles (see, because of Frank’s Catholicism and belief in the fallenness of — oh, never mind). The conversation was recorded at Mr. Wilson’s home in Philadelphia on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a brand-new Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were also recorded on that equipment, in a room at the Courtyard Marriott in Creve Coeur, MO. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Mr. Wilson by me.

Podcast: Bookman’s Holiday

covermontage

Virtual Memories: Michael Dirda – Bookman’s Holiday

“I see people walking their dogs and looking down at their phones. When you’re out walking your dog, you should be thinking great thoughts, or reviewing your life’s major blunders, or having some moments alone with yourself.”

It’s a bookman’s life for him! I interrupted Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda from plundering the book-dealer room at Readercon 2014 for a conversation about culling his books, the great age of storytelling, teaching adventure novels, what he dislikes about the tone of today’s book reviewers, his tendency to fall asleep while reading, and the time Neil Gaiman tried to explain Twitter to him. BONUS! I went back and remastered The Correction of Taste, the episode I recorded with Michael from October 2012! Go listen to that one, too!

Dirda returns!

“I never should have gone into book reviewing. I don’t have the right qualities for it. I read slow, I write slow: but I do love books and I’m dogged about it. I’d rather be involved with them than anything else.”

We also talk about his two early career goals (riverboat gambler or Captain Blood), what brings him back to Readercon each year, and why he’s never read Portrait of a Lady but fell in love with Lud-in-the-Mist, a fantasy novel in which the protagonists are middle-aged.

“My aim always has been to champion things that have been overlooked or neglected or otherwise not given the attention I think they deserve.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Michael Dirda is a weekly book columnist for The Washington Post, and he received the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He is the author of the memoir, An Open Book, and of four collections of essays: Readings, Bound to Please, Book by Book, and Classics for Pleasure. His most recent book, On Conan Doyle, received a 2012 Edgar Award for best critical/biographical work of the year. Mr. Dirda graduated with Highest Honors in English from Oberlin College and earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature (medieval studies and European romanticism) from Cornell University. He is a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, the online Barnes & Noble Review, The American Scholar, and several other periodicals, as well as a frequent lecturer and an occasional college teacher.

Credits: This episode’s music is A Soldier’s Tale by The Good, The Bad & The Queen (see, because The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford, is one of Dirda’s favorite novels, and — oh, never mind). The conversation was recorded at the Marriott in Burlington Mass on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Mr. Dirda by me.

Podcast: Four Quartets and Other Pilgrimages

Virtual Memories – season 2 episode 10
Lyn Ballard – Four Quartets and Other Pilgrimages

Lyn Ballard

It’s time for a new episode of The Virtual Memories Show!

In this one, guest Lyn Ballard talks about her gateway books, the metaphysical poets, reading Huck Finn at the age of 5, an embarrassing Stanley Elkin anecdote, the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, the importance of making literary pilgrimages, and more!

This is part 1 of The Bat Mitzvah Tapes, recorded during our St. Louis trip in August for my niece’s bat mitzvah. Next week, I’ll post a pretty wide-ranging interview with her dad (my brother Boaz), in which I reveal the key to just about all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies.

The Virtual Memories Show is now on iTunes! If you’d like to subscribe, visit our iTunes page!

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Credits: This episode’s music is River of Bass by Underworld. I recorded the intro on a Blue Yeti mic into Audacity, and the conversation with was recorded on a pair of Blue Encore 100 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4N recorder. All editing was done in Garage Band. Have mics, will travel!

Podcast: Here at the Western World

Virtual Memories – season 2 episode 7
Tom May – Here at the Western World (The Piraeus Tapes II)

Back-to-back episodes of The Virtual Memories Show! Who’d a’ thunk it?

Around Memorial Day, I took a little vacation to my alma mater, St. John’s College, for a seminar on Flannery O’Connor, and got to interview two of my favorite tutors: David Townsend and Tom May. Because they both had so much to talk about, I decided to split this month’s show into two parts.

St. John's College, Annapolis, MD

This episode contains my conversation with Tom May, the first St. John’s tutor I ever met (that’s him, conducting the freshmen chorus, above). I find Mr. May — sorry, but I can’t get over those Johnnie traditions — fascinating and intensely thoughtful, and I was glad to learn some of his history, how he’s seen the college change during his three decades-plus as a tutor, how we should never read a book for the first time, and and he had to get a note from his priest to read books from the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

It all makes sense here:

Check out the previous episode, in which tutor David Townsend talks about education and the American project. There are also episodes with tutors Peter Kalkavage (2014) and Eva Brann (2013)!

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If you’re interested in seeing some of Annapolis, check out my photoset from that trip:

St. John's College

Credits: This episode’s music is Steely Dan’s Here at the Western World. I recorded the intro on a Blue Yeti mic, and the conversation with was recorded on a pair of Blue Encore 100 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4N recorder. (Also, there’s a Flannery O’Connor pun that I won’t bother to explain.)

Unrequired Reading: Junebug

Just in time for July 4th, it’s a collection of my tweeted links and retweets, for those of you too lazy to get on Twitter and follow me @groth18!

First up, the retweets!

RT @MoCCAnyc (MoCCA): Kirby vs Marvel in the NY Times

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RT @KenTremendous (Ken Tremendous): Wow. RT (@parksandrecnbc) The Ron Swanson Mosaic. Be sure to grab our free hi-res poster! #ParksandRec

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RT @tnyCloseRead (Amy Davidson): David Remnick on the Big Man: Bloodbrother: Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011

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RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle Van Blerk): Need. This. Bookcase.

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RT @simonpegg (Simon Pegg): Memorable ink from the US book tour: 1 and 2

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RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle van Blerk): animalsbeingdicks.com That is all. Have a good weekend.

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RT @MarylandMudflap (Scotty L.): Etch-a-Sketch was really onto something. I wish I could shake the shit out of everything in my life when I need a fresh start.

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RT @scottmccloud (Scott McCloud): OMG OMG OMG http://llamafont.com

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RT @normmacdonald (Norm Macdonald): I’d have to be pretty hammered to see “Thor”.

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RT @DwightGarner (Dwight Garner): Daniel Okrent (I think) said it in Esquire (I think) in the 80s: “John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman” = best LP ever recorded. I’m a believer.

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Anyone know where #ProfessorZoom got his doctorate? #justwondering

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Cover story: #magouflage

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Nazis tend not to design great synagogues? I prefer #BattlestarJudaica! #FrankLloydWrong 26 Jun

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Is #Cars a vehicle (ha-ha) for Intelligent Design?

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Blind drunk: #notreally

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Neat #PhilipRoth interview: #idontreadcontempofictioneither

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If I ever have to move again, I have no idea what I’ll do with all the books. #unpackingtheshelves

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Long-ass @BobMould conversation on wrestling, Catholicism, breakups and more: #seealittlelight

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@SimonDoonan: wildly pro-Jew. #yay!

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I am SO glad I didn’t watch the last six episodes of @TheKilling_AMC: http://bit.ly/mEhcSL #stillsevenhoursiwillnevergetback

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I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to think of #WeAllKilledRosieLarsen. Still, glad I didn’t watch the last 7 episodes of @TheKilling_AMC

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First, only time #AnnaNicoleSmith will be compared to #BleakHouse.

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#SalmanRushdie offers up seven wonders (those Goya paintings the Prado are creepy as all get-out)

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The Girl with the Caffeine Addiction? #TMCM

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NYT sez: Life could be better if we blow off property rights, the environment, consumer safety, etc.: #highspeedrail

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Introvert Myth #11: they don’t get Twitter.

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Time-Traveling Male Sea Monkeys Make Bad Mates

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Great moments in terrible casting, via @fuggirls (No #JessicaAlba as geneticist and/or blonde in #FantasticFour?)

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Accidental Chinese hipsters: #umm

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Bust 2.0? “If you squint just right, our business is actually booming!”

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Do we expect too much of books? #iknowido #ralphwaldoemerson

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(Un)happy Bloomsday.

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Krypto’s got quite a pedigree: #superdog #legionofsuperpets

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Rockin’ the GTH turban: #sikhandyoushallfind

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Mandelbrot, P.I.?

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No Mexican in Paris? WTF? I can’t even call this #firstworldproblems

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Why I never took up smoking: #cheapjew

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The Enhancer: “Yeah, but have you ever Disneyed . . . HIGH?” #weed

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#Masa loses one star for F-U (by @samsifton)

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Haberdashed!

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“Not only is it okay to hate #LeBron, but it’s a fucking character flaw on your part if you do not.” #nbafinals

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Anybody know what this is? #snakeonahike #herpetology

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My hometown: a toxic mess that CAN’T be cleaned up, after multiple Superfund attempts: #ringwoodnj #eatlead

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#JoeJackson & #TheRoots do #SteppinOut on @latenightjimmy

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Apparently, I need to alternate my annual Toronto trip with some Montreal action.

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i found my thrill on N***** Hill? #plaqueremoval

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Never trust your parents, especially when you’re home for the holidays: #drugdeal

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#Seth’s lovely eulogy for his father: #nosethdoesnothaveatwitteraccount

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Every mall should have a bomb shelter: #shoptillthebombdrops

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Puyehue makes an ash of itself: #underthevolcano #alsooverthevolcano

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I’ll get to these right after I finish #ADancetotheMusicofTime. #johnswartzelder #simpsons

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Sunfart: #justsunfart

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Greatest pwnage ever? #nadal #federer #toughcall

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To prize integrity is to fear disintegration” (via @asymmetricinfo)

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Escapistism.

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It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: Greatest. Cast. Ever.

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@comicsreporter on his hoped-for DC relaunches. #bwahhaha

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Kirby. Gods. Watercolor. #nuffsaid

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@michaelbierut on comedic design (sorta): #talkingfunny

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We will be like birds.

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#GeneHackman: “He tried”

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#UmbertoEco on reading and not reading: http://bit.ly/jFXAQZ

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#Francesa = #Jeter?

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“You cook?” “I’m French.” #MelanieLaurent #aurevoirshoshana!

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No one said, “I wish I kept up on Twitter more”? #regretsofthedying