Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Every writer who makes a film or book or anything about high school, one of the few periods of life that land on practically every writer's "write about what you know" range, faces the question of which side of high school they're going to show, knowing there's so many they couldn't do the realistic thing and show them all at once. There's time capsules like American Graffiti and Dazed and Confused, there's of-the-moment vulgarities like Project X, and there's those that show high school, and life in general, through a single lens: from a loner's diary to a sexy romp through the golden years: from Donnie Darko to American Pie. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which looks back to it's early 90s setting with a passionate nostalgia, we're taken through the loner high school experience seen through romantic eyes; and we accept the impossible sentiment we see on screen because we accept that everyone goes through high school differently and this could have been someone's high school, same as it could have even been yours.

The loner kid we follow in Perks is called Charlie. He's recently been let out of an institution (from a mental disorder brought on by a traumatic childhood event and more recently a best friend's suicide) and into his first year of high school. It's easy to like Charlie because he does all the things we wish we had been doing while we were uncool: making mix tapes for friends that include his favorite song, which is the final song from a Smith's compilation disk, and giving copies of The Beatles' Something (on vinyl no less!) to girls he likes, although never crossing the line into romantically cool in the process.

Charlie quickly falls in with eccentric and happily uncool step-siblings Sam and Patrick (played by Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) while at a school football game and in that beautiful way you drift from place to place not even knowing how when your young, ends up stoned on the floor of a house party filled with the uncool sub-culture of kids he soon becomes a member of; a bittersweet success in that all these people he can now call friends are in their last year of high school while he, remember, has just started his first.

Although Charlie never says being a writer is what he wants to do with his life, he writes letters throughout the film, which are what made up the book version of Perks. Like all writers he can see what others can't (after all he's a "wallflower") yet he's cursed in that he never loses himself to anything, and Logan Lerman who plays Charlie perfectly acts out the physicality of someone never truly lost in the moment. Instead he's an observer, as Jack Kerouac once wrote "I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me" and so does Charlie shamble after Sam and Patrick and the wonderful band of misfits they're part of.

Stephen Chbosky wrote the original novel, and has done sketchy-at-best work in TV and film since, and here becomes one of the rare authors to adapt their own work with positive results, showing a passion for his own material which has been very illogically lacking in previous self-adapted works like The Cider House Rules. It's hard to tell if it's Chbosky natural direction or if it's a side product of re-working your own work 10 years after originally writing it, but Perks has a scene-by-scene fluency that makes the year in the life of a high school outcast a breezy watch.

It's movies like this, which pull on our nostalgia for things that didn't even happen to us, that can't simply be labeled either funny or dramatic, because it's movies like this that try to hand us truth even though they're unrealistic, and like real life things are funny and dramatic and sometimes weird and awkward and surprising in good and terrible ways, and unlike real life they somehow end up feeling perfect, so I guess the best word I could attribute to Perks is "sweet" which is something no one describes even their best high school years as.

Friday, 7 February 2014


(I don't really know if this was meant to be a journal entry or 'in memory' type post: I wanted to write something about the day Michael Jackson died and here it is) 

The morning Michael Jackson died, or at least the morning after when we all heard about it, I woke up and re-enacted the same routine I'm (depressingly) still doing now. I'm too tired while wetting my face and eating cereal to notice anything, in this case the news; meaning I left the house thinking it was just a normal day.

I walked to a friends house. We'll call him Raj because I don't speak to him anymore to ask permission and probably wouldn't have bothered anyway. He was Indian but born here. He was a sporty type, which clashed with me who doesn't even like sporty video games, and he grew up in a strict family, or at least one that must have filled him with pressure: his sister was a trainee doctor (probably a real one by now) and his dad a maths teacher. A good example: in Raj's living room was a cut out of his only bad school report from years before which his dad had cut out and sadistically glued to the wall and left there for everyone to see, probably still there now, which I found sickly funny.

I sat in their cosy little living room every morning waiting for Raj to be ready, never figuring to just arrive later. He came down that morning and said "I guess you heard that Michael Jackson died" I told him no and after some seconds he summed everything up with "it feels weird, doesn't it" which it did.

Raj's dad was teaching at our school and gave us a lift. He never taught me although I heard the horror stories from friends. In the car Human Nature played on the radio, which I'd never heard before. I should say that I had never given much thought to Jacko, hadn't really tried to get into his music, although I knew who he was. Raj's dad said Raj was a big MJ fan, which I had never figured, mainly because I'd never managed to pin-point which demographic, be it age or gender or country of origin, was supposed to be into Michael Jackson. The media said everyone loved him but up til then it never crossed my mind that anyone really loved him.

I remember the details of the day to a weird degree: it was soggy grey and raining outside, as if the weather itself was feeling sad for our lost hero; and my first lesson was something called "Learn 2 Learn" one of many lessons my school made up. In it we sat in the sofas in the corner of the room and discussed Jacko.

Most of us just made fun of him. He was a pedophile, and that whole thing about not being charged is really murky, and simply ignored by most people. He went from black to white and had that weird nose. He dangled his kid off a balcony. I suppose if I grew up in the 80s I would have seen him do the moonwalk for the first time and release the world's best selling album and marry Elvis' daughter. I suppose it all seemed like some crazy performance art; someone in the center of the disco lights firing himself upwards to the place of mythic celeb-god. But I didn't grow up in the 80s, I had the 00s, better written as the noughties, instead. I didn't know he had got married or ever even had a reported relationship; from the videos I thought he must have been gay. I never suspected his success anything more than other 80s pop stars who occasionally got their turn on the music channels. To be honest I only knew him as the butt of the joke. Some knew Jackson as some sort of megastar genius, but I knew him from a Russel Brand routine and a South Park episode.

One of my friends in the class, who was in the sofa conversation, was Jack, still the only Scotsman I ever met. He was a funny man and had a real confidence to him, like giving presentations and talking to girls, and I'm still not sure if that's what most Scotts are like or if that was just him. I never saw him more annoyed than on the sofa, he called Michael his "hero" and shouted at us everytime an insult came out. Based on his defense I'm guessing he read the Michael Jackson Wikipedia page damn thoroughly. He explained the abusive father, the falling over and broken nose, the pills which changed the skin (y'know, because we all thought that was surgery) and about how Michael Jackson was just some genius who we didn't understand and needed to stop making fun of! We didn't though.

Fun fact about my school: instead of a bell that just rings to signify break or home time or whatever (like those disgusting "normal" schools we obviously don't want to be associated with) our school instead plays Aretha Franklin's Respect through the school at a horrible volume. It's like the Ludovico technique in that I feel only inner violence and anguish if I hear the song outside of school. We went down and asked some teachers if we could get a Michael Jackson song to play today instead, starting up a "rumour" that something by the Jackson 5 was gonna get played, probably Blame It On The Boogie, although they never played it.

That was the day really, it made me feel indifferent. I remember it well though, just like old people who always say they know where they were when JFK got shot, and MJ dying is still the only event I've lived through when I've felt connected to the whole world. I watched the London Olympics Opening Ceremony while everyone else on Earth watched with me but I only felt connected to Britain, who were all looking in at themselves, but when MJ died we weren't all looking at Jackson, probably because no-one knew where to look.

I felt most connected a few days later, or whenever it was, when Jackson's funeral was televised. According to the news billions watched it. The crowd was bigger than I've ever seen turn out for any artist in concert, and the celebrity list was probably the biggest ever assembled. The man himself, in the coffin in the middle, hung over the whole thing. He felt bigger than the stadium where it was all taking place, burning brighter than all of the millions of lights constantly flashing from the crowds. It felt like royalty dying. His kids were there, Blanket - the most parodied of them - is the only one I knew the name of, and they were all dressed up like the kids of a recently deceased military general who had just died in the heart of battle. Jackson had been such a big star there wasn't even any pressure hanging over his kids, no expectation they would follow in his footsteps, because you couldn't really compare someone to Michael Jackson when he wasn't even human anymore; I mean sure he was in the flesh, but in the media and all, even long before he died, he had ceased to be a human and just became an idea, a giant invisible force that everyone knew about, just floating up there in the ether. The sunglasses he wore so frequently never made sense to me: most celebrities hide themselves behind shades but Jackson had nothing left to hide, he'd showed it all.

Then the comedians moved in and had a riot, not that they waited til after the funeral: most comedians got straight to it. Most dead celebrities have a waiting period til they're back on the menu but not Jacko, because as I said, he wasn't flesh and bone, not even in that coffin, he sacrificed that long before, and I guess the tragic narrative so many paint around him (the lack of any movie really is surprising) was him spending his post-success years trying to get the flesh and bone back.

I still haven't gotten through much of MJ's discography. I listened through Thriller which has some great stuff on it (the opening track) some piss poor stuff on it (back to Human Nature) although in the end is hard to listen to as a normal album being it's mostly a collection of such huge hits that most of it's sounds are just part of the status quo. It's close to sounding like an album long cliché. It has the same too-far-to-touch-up-close feeling as it's maker.

The last time I really saw Jacko was on the Christmas day just past. It was night time and everyone was a bit tipsy. Jackson's This Is It show was on TV, which was a gig from his final, uncompleted tour, although I admit we could have been watching a behind-the-scenes documentary since I don't know what's in the film version. My uncle went into a rant about celebrities and how they don't give enough money to charity, and how Jacko himself made all those songs about inequality and helping Africa but he didn't give his actual money away. He even gave us some statistics about how much it would take to stop disease/hunger in third world countries and how if Jackson really cared he'd have just given all of his money away, literally the whole pot, and solved the world's problems in one fine swoop. I do know this argument doesn't make complete sense, even if I haven't got any facts and figures, probably because I'm guessing Jackson did give a lot of money away and not just do songs, and probably did care quite a bit.

I noticed something then though, while my uncle was on his rant and my dad was telling him he was wrong and neither was standing down. I was just looking at the screen and watching Jackson dance during rehearsals. I looked on the screen and realized Jackson was as much alive there - on stage on our living room screen - as he was when he was actually alive. We all made a big deal about him dying but he was dead long before that, he had given himself out to everyone. The same way he didn't really die at all either. All the myth, the crazy myth he spun around himself: the Neverland theme park and bubbles the monkey and his celebrity brothers and sisters; no-one can tell me they feel further away from Jackson now that he's dead. Watching This Is It on Christmas, he was alive in the same way he always was: trapped on the stage and in the persona.

When Elvis died a famous rock critic said we'd never agree on anything like we agreed on Elvis. Jackson was still a kid at the time, if building up successes, and that particular rock critic died before Thriller released, never knowing there was one last person to prove him wrong. Before, I said that the day Jackson died I couldn't figure out who Michael Jackson was for, although I realize now he was for everyone, and always will be.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

R.I.P Philip Seymour Hoffman

I'm guessing the first time most people took notice of Philip Seymour Hoffman, at least if they were around and old enough at the time, was in Boogie Nights. That movie has such a cosy mentality to, of some guys hanging out making a semi-serious movie about porn. I like to imagine all the actors in Boogie Nights were friends before shooting started and they all went down to John C. Reilly's house and pulled straws to see who would get to play each character, and when Phil Hoffman got Scotty, "the gay one", they all had a good laugh about it and patted him on the back, and P.T.Anderson told him he'd get a bigger part in his next movie, and Hoffman decided to be a good sport and play the role with the fiery liveliness, not to mention heartbreaking reality, that you can go back and see on screen.

Hoffman was a working actor; he lacked a movie star quality but had a particularity to his performances, and a certain like-ability that made you relate to him (the nerdier, more sexually repressed character usually the better) that has lead to a hell of a filmography. He worked with a lot of modern greats: the Coens, Spike Lee, Todd Solondz, Charlie Kaufman, Sidney Lumet, and many more, with each name attached to some great movies, although Hoffman will always be Paul Thomas Anderson's boy (and in The Master - possibly Hoffman's last great performance - his big podgy man) who seemed happy to give him every sort of role available: the hard ass boss in Punch Drunk-Love, the good intentioned dweeb in Magnolia, even the scene-stealing gambler in Hard Eight. His movies didn't make him much of a star, but earned him a big fan following.

Regular readers to this blog will understand my excitement when I found out that someone had put Lester Bangs into a movie. Hoffman plays him in Crowe's Almost Famous, and I believe Hoffman's main abilities as an actor are most clear in smaller supporting roles like this one. Hoffman/Bangs doesn't get much screen time, he's not the main attraction of the movie, but he hangs over the movie, always in the back of your mind even when he's not on screen. Most would have played Bangs up to the cool reputation he's gained (gained, it should be noted, after his death) and others would have played him as a cliche of the Yoda style mentor figure, while Hoffman played him just right, he didn't care if you didn't like him, but he made you like him anyway through a vulnerable confidence that he has in all of his movies. It's a small role, but like all of Hoffman's many small roles he did something big with it.

His list of roles is impressive, including on stage where he built quite a repertoire. More than enough to have him remembered as one of the greats. Looking at his last few movies still waiting to be released, none seem to hold any grand final statement, although leaving behind a film by Anton Corbijn is better than most get, and one can only imagine (in a hopeful sense) his part in the upcoming Hunger Games movies will open him up to a younger fan base who'll eventually get around to his best work. 

Hoffman died today aged 46, the authorities having apparently found him dead in his apartment with a needle still in his arm, a sad end that can be linked tragically to reports last year that he had entered rehab for Heroin addiction, not that this makes his death any less of a shock. Hoffman's death is different from that of a young star's death, which creates a big what if? around the star, while we already knew the what of Hoffman, he showed us it in Capote (which bagged him his only oscar win), in the grandiosity of Lancaster Dodd, in the smaller but no less memorable roles like that found in The Talented Mr. Ripley. He gave us such greatness, and now no more.

Then again there's a side of me that doesn't want to morn Hoffman. I felt devastated at the news of his passing, although I haven't allowed it to turn into sadness. I never saw Hoffman in interview, so I can't comment on his personality, or more precisely the side of his personality he felt most comfortable showing to the media, although I do know he was a family man - a girlfriend and three kids - and his death through drugs does seem to cut through any personality people saw in him or any of his career milestones. I have no doubt most will be happy to remember Hoffman unequivocally, although I'll choose to stick him on the list of great artists better remembered only through their work. 

Consider David Foster Wallace

It's hard to write a post trying to sum up a man who from what I can tell wanted to be everything. The contradictions are everywhere: it was Wallace himself who, during interviews, linked his generally accepted masterpiece Infinite Jest to the weight of the impending millennium, yet in a piece written not long after writing this "great American novel" he asked his readers to imagine what it would be like to be one of the best in the world at something, and with the same modesty and self-guessing he summoned through all his career he wrote "I have tried to imagine; it's hard". He was a self confessed SNOOT (or an academic-level member of the "grammar police" as you or I'd label it) yet supplanted his hip image with slang language and iconoclast views. He frequently documented his social awkwardness and anxieties yet willfully put himself forward for many of the crowd-speaking activities that the socially awkward readers who related to him would be so scared to do, like teaching lit courses in college. He cut through the bullshit and gave it straight (gaining what has became a huge following) and was a beacon of a very 90s type of anti-capitalism, yet he seemed very interested in adding to his own myth, in the end leaving behind an unfinished third novel for publication after the demons of his depression eventually caused him to take his own life in 2008. Wallace is a paradox in theory although makes perfect sense on the page; his desire to be the the show-off, the boy wonder, the cool kid, the joker, the relatable nerd and the mythical genius - in many cases all at once - is what makes him reflect the 21st century in a way that few other modern writers do.

Not that I know of everything that Wallace tried his hand at being, just what's in the second-released of three collections of his essay work: Consider The Lobster. There's no general theme connecting Wallace's journalism/essay work which is why Lobster has such a plethora: a report on the 1998 porn awards; the little reported reactions to 9/11 from Wallace's home in the South; a look into the morales of eating Lobster through the lens of the 2003 Maine Lobster Festival; the transcript of a college lecture he did on the easy-to-miss humour in Kafka's work and many many others. The pieces differ so much I'd be greatly surprised if anyone was avidly interested in reading all of them for the subject matter alone, when instead, even for the pieces that might interest you, it's Wallace who you read for. While reading Lobster I kept thinking of a quote, by someone important enough to be quoted on the back of a book, on the back of a Lester Bangs collection I own that called the 70s rock critic "one of life's greatest gurus" which I guess would seem strange to someone who had never read anything by the man, known almost entirely for record reviews and Lou Reed interviews. Although if you read Bangs you'll know exactly what the quote means: he used rock journalism, which I guess doesn't give writers much room to spread their legs, to talk about everything he could, from religion to feminism to sexual desire. He commented on a whole culture while riffing on Blondie. I don't know exactly what Wallace thought of Bangs, although he (Wallace) considered Bangs enough of an influence to dedicate his little read, co-written book Signifying Rappers to him. Wallace's writing is just as far reaching: he's another great life guru. During the essay Authority and American Usage Wallace reviews  Bryan A. Garner's A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, although the "review" is just a book-end for Wallace to talk about language use in general. He praises Garner's book, and Garner's prose in particular for their lack of personality, allowing the reader to take his uses of grammar and phrasing on face value, unconnected to Garner's ethnicity, gender or age, yet the irony here is obvious as Wallace can't even write a simple book review without injecting himself all over the page: he talks about being a kid and learning the songs his mum (an English teacher - explaining a few things) would come up with to make her son remember correct grammar. Then talks about the prosecution he and every other grammar-loving kid would get when showing off this knowledge in the classroom. It's these little injections of personality, and of Wallace's highly opinionated self that comes through on almost every page, that made reading a review of a book I have no interest in so readable.
A frequent comparison Wallace got was to Thomas Pynchon, an obvious comparison in their similar post-modern fictions, but also similar in their prose in which both turned the kaleidoscope of a million inter-connecting thoughts going through their heads into beautiful fluency. They both crafted sentences with a simplicity to them, a gentle flow of language that most writers - dealing with half the weight of ideas these guys had - could only dream of. Yet there is another paradox to be found here: mainly that for the simple pleasure that Wallace's prose are, his writing is certainly intimidating. Not just the length either, his writing is a sea of brackets and italics and parenthesis adding explanations that seem put there by an obsessive need to explain everything. An average one of his paragraphs will have a few footnotes (oh how Davey loved his footnotes) and once in a while a footnote will be so long it spills over into the next page and fills the page after, itself with it's own cordoned off section of footnotes. It's obviously impressive stuff, actually there's such an air of intellectualism to some of Wallace's pieces that it feels like an actual triumph (hence a sort of obligation) finishing them. This style is what makes Wallace so unique, although it sometimes (if only rarely) doesn't work, as in Host, the final essay in Lobster and the only I couldn't bring myself to finish. Wallace's usual bottom of the page footnotes are here replaced by boxes which are fitted around the text, an unintentional visual metaphor for how lost you get within an article about talk show host John Ziegler, where any sense of a message Wallace is trying to get across gets lost in the mess of information. These endless box notes feel like Wallace showing off, but not in his usual modest parade of excellence, which - although it undeniably throws some off - is simply something I think most like to read, if only because so much of what is "great writing" usually gets its reputation from supposedly smart people who explain why it's great, while Wallace's intellectualism quite literally smacks you in the face with the knowledge of it's own greatness, while in Host Wallace tips overboard with his endless explanations and descriptions; that kaleidoscope of ideas never getting smoothed out like it does in his better pieces.

Much has been made of Wallace's arguing style, the weighty description of the subject matter and the frequent diversions covering the surface so you no longer notice an argument is even being made (and just as much has been made of the apparently bad influence this has had on the many bloggers who take to doing bad Wallace imitations). A good example of his essay technique can be found in Up, Simba where Wallace followed John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign. Like usual he opens by telling us how unqualified he is for the job (in the same way he opens so many footnotes with (paraphrasing here) "although you're probably not interested I'm going to explain anyway" or "the editor will probably take this out anyway") and starts by giving us the story of how he got the job in the first place. It's Rolling Stone who hired him for the campaign and he turns up in the Bangs-style leather he thought all people working for RS were supposed to wear. Wallace knew full well he was no political journalist so instead he fills up what is one of the longest essays in Lobster with more information about how a presidential campaign actually works - the backstage rooms, the tour buses, the atmosphere between parties, the chatter between the techies etc - and shies away from going full-detail into the nitty-gritty of the politics. Wallace does report on some of these politics, though, and having written it all just as it happened means the article, which doesn't section off exactly when one time zone in the story has became another, reads like a live journal from a press event. In the end though it's not the end message or even the sudden bursts of personality but Wallace's clear mission to paint for the reader the full picture of whatever he's reporting on. In Big Red Son, about the porn awards, Wallace doesn't pass judgement on the stars or the producers - or even the millions watching at home - yet neither does he have a major argument to get across (although his musings on the modern state of porn and it's place in society/place right next to Hollywood are insightful and sometimes hilarious, like usual) but instead he simply describes, in details most writers don't bother to go into, the porn awards, including the way the award shows work, the people he met there and even the recent history of the awards. It seems like Wallace's mission, more than anything, at least in his non-fiction work, was to give readers the whole picture of something; the truth behind it. There is undoubtedly much more detailed analysis of John McCain's presidential campaign, and the man's politics in general, than you'll find in Up, Simba, yet I know I wouldn't be interested in reading them. Although Up, Simba is interesting, and seeing the inner workings of the campaign and the reactions of those actually close to it make it much more than an essay on John McCain or the 2000 presidential campaign, instead they make it relevant to politics in general, even for those, maybe even especially for those, not interested in politics in the first place.

I loved reading Consider The Lobster, and would recommend it to anyone whether the list of essays particularly interests them or not, although it's hard to separate the subjects being dealt with from the man himself, which is why I'm still not sure if this post was about the book or about Wallace himself and all that is to be found of him in Lobster. Some will say this is Wallace's flaw, that he wanted to be known as a great writer so he made his writing so that he would be. Which is true, although that's just adding to the Wallace myth, isn't it? When he was really just a normal guy, an impressive writer sure, and someone you need to read, but so frequently linked to his generation as a voice or figurehead, when he was actually just like everyone else of his generation, he just never quite wanted to be.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


- I had a topsy-turvy January. It certainly felt long, in both good and bad ways. School was a drag, so much that my week back, which was filled with exams, was the highlight. My results were pretty good but as is traditional with my school there was no celebrating as all my teachers tried hard to make sure all of that exam pressure carried over into our day-to-day lives (and I suppose I'll thank them for it later and etc).

- The rest of school I'll simply mark down as busy. We're studying The Kite Runner now in English, which is basically just me and no-one else putting my hand when the teacher asks (and they've asked a surprising amount of times now) if anyone doesn't like the book or the passage we've just read. I do hope this course entails writing a review of the books we're reading so I can outline exactly why The Kite Runner is over-written, manipulative bullshit. Having to read out The History Boys is fun, even though I'm reading for Lockwood who is one of the most un-memorable characters in the whole play, thank god I'm not involved in any awkward sex scenes though.

- I was having a happy time for the first half of the month before I was hit by nasty bout of depression that had me lying in bed for hours in the middle of the day and practically giving up on the gym. I think I'm fine now, though, which probably has something to do with me falling madly in love with a girl (although it should be noted I fall in love waay too easy) and spending the last week kicking around with her and trying to make her laugh.

- After firing my original driving structure (who seemed to take his almost constant state of agonizing stress out on my admittedly poor driving skills) all my friends have been recommending me their instructors. Right now I've got a choice between "pedo Daz" and "rip-off Dave", great.

- I spent the month crossing off blindspots. I stayed up until 3 in the morning watching Seven Samurai - which deserves it's reputation - and combined with Frances Ha, which I've already wrote about loving, I'm now in a very black and white mood. which I'm never usually in. I also read my first David Foster Wallace, with Consider The Lobster, of which I've nearly finished a post about, and was so impressionable to Wallace's style, which I thought was great, I even wrote an extremely over-written post on The Sopranos, which I finally finished at the beginning of the month, as a form of poor imitation. I also read William S Burroughs' Junkie, which I took as a grand apology for Naked Lunch.

- In my media course we're currently doing a music video unit, with me and a friend making one for a indie band down in Sheffield. Which is why Media is basically now just one big musical discussion class where we argue about if rock n roll is dead and our teacher gets all nostalgic and answers questions about why he quit a job working in TV and meeting celebrities to teach us. I chose to analyze Weezer's video for Buddy Holly, which is why I finally got around to listening to Pinkerton, apparently the jewel within the Weezer shrine. Apart from the first and last track I don't actually recall any highlights, although it's one of those albums that works better as a whole, just taking in the general sound. It sounds like a cheery band stripped bare (probably because that's exactly what it is) and my favorite of the month.

- I said last month I wanted these posts to collect all my favorite writing of the month, which in retrospective was a stupid claim considering how much I read in a month (who knew) and how much I forget to actually save it somewhere, so here's some good internet reading I did this month: I don't know what to think of Bret Easton having not read his fiction and only knowing him from an angry twitter account, but I read an old piece he did on the current state of celebrity that I thought was great; understandably I've been reading a lot about DFW, and how could I not read this conversation that linked him to Lester Bangs; I didn't watch the Grammys, although my friend kept sending me links to videos everytime a member of Daft Punk was on screen for longer than a second, and as always the best coverage is from Sasha Frere-Jones; HTMLGiant continued to be my favorite site with great pieces all around: Lily Hoang wrote a beautiful post on our reactions to grief, if you've ever wondered what Macaulay Culkin was up to then A D Jameson found out for you, with interesting results, while Seth Oelbaum did a series on "boys who kill" which caused such ruckus on the site the first part has already been removed, it was interesting none-the-less, and Janey Smith started up a series where she posts pictures of her facebook friends, with the first post interlaced with a Guardian article about friendship; and although I hate to report on things I don't like (I mean really) the fact the most sentimental, amateurish crap I read all month was on The New Yorker of all places, and about my sacred cow Nirvana too, made it seem worthy of note.

- It looks to be a more relaxed February, I can only hope the sun returns to Britain soon. To whoever reading, have a good one.