Archive for November, 2007

Lindelof on the WGA Strike

Monday, November 12th, 2007

supportwriters.gifI’ve been following media coverage of the Writers’ Guild strike, and it’s really unsettling to see how the writers are being portrayed as greedy bastards who don’t care that TV crew-members will be losing their jobs soon. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Damon Lindelof, who writes for Lost–a show I watched on TV here and streamed online when I was in Morocco on my Fulbright–explains why the strike is necessary:

The motivation for this drastic action — and a strike is drastic, a fact I grow more aware of every passing day — is the guild’s desire for a portion of revenues derived from the Internet. This is nothing new: for more than 50 years, writers have been entitled to a small cut of the studios’ profits from the reuse of our shows or movies; whenever something we created ends up in syndication or is sold on DVD, we receive royalties. But the studios refuse to apply the same rules to the Internet.

My show, “Lost,” has been streamed hundreds of millions of times since it was made available on ABC’s Web site. The downloads require the viewer to first watch an advertisement, from which the network obviously generates some income. The writers of the episodes get nothing. We’re also a hit on iTunes (where shows are sold for $1.99 each). Again, we get nothing.

Read it all here. You can send a message of support through this website.


R.I.P. Norman Mailer

Monday, November 12th, 2007

As you no doubt have heard, Norman Mailer died on Saturday, at the age of 84. I have read too little of his work to contribute anything personal in this space, but there are articles and remembrances in the NY Times, the Washington Post, the SF Chronicle, the Nation, the New Yorker, TEV, Critical Mass, and many, many other newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Here in Los Angeles, the Times had a front-page obit yesterday, a long article that covered Mailer’s entire literary career and included photos from key moments.

Trampling Marrakesh

Monday, November 12th, 2007


The New York Times has a travel piece on Marrakesh, which I fear will result in even more tourists crowding the city. When we were there last spring, I saw a moronic British tourist sticking his ass out of one of the windows of the Ben Youssef Medersa. The floors of the seminary’s student rooms were damaged by all the activity, and one of the guides kept touching the exquisite plaster work in the inner courtyard with his bare hands. (The photo above gives you a small idea of what you’ll see on any given day at the famous medersa.) The tile floors at the Bahia palace were completely falling apart, and people had no regard for the artifacts. The Menebhi palace was also starting to show signs of wear. Sad.

Panel: Georgetown University

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

This week, Georgetown University and the Moroccan Embassy are co-organizing a conference in Washington, D.C. on “Morocco: Recent Trends and Future Prospects.” I will be doing a panel on Moroccan literature with Abdelfettah Kilito and Mokhtar Gambou on Thursday afternoon. You can view the schedule here and here. If you live in the area, do come by and say hello. The event is open to the public.

All The Research That Fits

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, the esteemed (by Bush & Co., I mean) scholars of the Middle East have started their own academic organization, an alternative to the renowned Middle East Studies Association. Lewis and Ajami are calling their group the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, and they’re organizing a conference, starting a journal, and soliciting members.


Coetzee’s Critical Library

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Critical Mass, the blog of the National Books Critics Circle, has a fairly regular feature called “The Critical Library,” which, as the title suggests, asks critics to name their favorite volumes on criticism. Today, J. M. Coetzee contributes his list, so take a look.

You want to know what my own critical library–for the English language anyway–would look like? Here’s a picture:


Book Club: Akutagawa’s Mandarins

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

The Complete Review‘s Michael Orthofer leads a book club discussion of Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s Mandarins for Words Without Borders. I haven’t read anything by Akutagawa, not even Rashomon, upon which Kurosawa’s famed film is based, so the background information that Michael offers is really helpful. I’m looking forward to reading the book along with the group.

Musharaf’s Mess

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007


Cartoon by Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung, Austria. Via Truthdig.

Persepolis, Le Film

Monday, November 5th, 2007

The Los Angeles Times has a sneak peek at Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronneaud’s film adaptation of Persepolis. I was fortunate enough to see the movie at the Internazionale Festival in Ferrara last month, and it was beautiful. It opens here on December 25.

Deparment of WTF

Monday, November 5th, 2007

If you’re Muslim, the L.A.P.D. wants to know where you live.

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