Weird Quote of the Day

From Weird Al: The Book, by Nathan Rabin (with Al Yankovic):

Al was an unabashed pop-culture obsessive before it was cool. He was a geek before it was cool. He was uncool before being uncool became cool.

Who Is James Bond?

That’s the question your diarist poses in this new Splice Today piece. The answer Ian Fleming’s books suggest is that there are really two James Bonds: the Bond of Casino Royale and the more popularized Bond of the rest of the series and most of the movies.

Daniel Craig’s turn as Bond, the piece argues, is a return to a less comic book, more interesting Bond. To help make that point, it quotes the opening of Fleming’s first novel, which has to rank as one of the better set-ups of all time:

The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by gambling—a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension—becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.

James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired.

Breakfast of Chumpions

Publishers Weekly gives us this handy pie chart breakdown of the hashtagged Twitter votes for Kurt Vonnegut’s greatest book:

Vonnegut books

For the “other” category, Gabe Habash helpfully explains “the following books received one vote each: Hocus Pocus, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Welcome to the Monkey House, Player Piano, Man Without a Country.”

You people are all wrong.

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Look! I Have a New Book!

This month my publisher Thomas Nelson released the book 10 Christians Everyone Should Know (paperback and e-versions here and here). It’s a sort of Reader’s Digest version of the Christian Encounters series of brief lives.

Ten bios were condensed into this book by editor John Perry. The eclectic list of subjects includes St. Patrick, Anne Bradstreet, Jane Austen, Seargeant York and my own take on William F. Buckley. The result is a treasure chest of historical trivia and — leaving aside any judgment on my own contribution — some very solid writing. I commend it to readers of Jeremy Lott’s Diary.

Four More Gore!

1. Sometimes you learn new things. Christopher Buckley, in his obit of Gore Vidal, offers one likely reason why father William F. Buckley didn’t throw a punch at Vidal in their immortal exchange. He sets the scene:

If you look closely at the footage of the 1968 TV contretemps between WFB and Vidal, you’ll see WFB trying to rise out of his chair at the moment of maximum heat. If you look very closely, you’ll see him physically straining, but something holding him back.

This leaves readers wondering, What exactly was that “something” that held WFB back? Answer:

A few days before, [WFB] was sailing in Long Island Sound when a Coast Guard cutter zoomed past his sailboat, knocking him to the deck, breaking his collarbone. During the Chicago debates, he was wearing a clavicle brace. It’s possible that the brace prevented the moment from being truly iconic.

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Gore Vidal Didn’t Stay Plastered

News of Gore Vidal’s death has started the cycle of remembrances and recriminations. Real Clear Books has linked to both and likely will link to more as the week grinds on.

Roger Kimball writes that he found Vidal’s novels “unreadable…where they were not comically repellent” and complains specifically of “the jejune pornography of Myra Breckinridge.”

I didn’t dip deeply enough into the man’s work to render a broader judgment but did make the attempt to get through Live From Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal at one point. That was a mistake. It was supposed to be a send up of the New Testament but was so poorly done that it wasn’t worth the effort to finish.

Vidal is most famous for his feud with William F. Buckley. They were doing dueling commentary for ABC on the 1968 Democratic Convention and Vidal called Buckley a “crypto-Nazi.” He later claimed it was a verbal flub. He had meant to call Buckley a “crypto-fascist,” which would have been So Much Better.

Buckley’s response has been reduced to this statement: “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi, or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.”

That cuts out cross-talk and fails to catch the full fury of the exchange. Watch it below. You can see Vidal taunting Buckley and Buckley leaning forward and only just stopping himself from throwing a punch:

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Self-Plagiarism and Self-Pleasure

After the flap over Jonah Lehrer’s humiliation and firing from the New Yorker for making up Bob Dylan quotes and lying about it, I worry that one really foolish idea will take hold and perhaps even give trial lawyers the scent of money.

Since critics started digging into Lehrer’s work after charges of self-plagiarism surfaced, and since he did eventually get dragged down to disgrace, people may assume that there’s merit to the idea of self-plagiarism.

There isn’t. It’s a ridiculously stupid concept whose relationship to logic and grammar makes exactly as much sense as describing marital sex as self-pleasure.

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