Pete Townshend: Who, He? (and Us)

Pete TownshendPete Townshend is writing his memoirs. Or rather, he’s blogging them.

This differs from a decade ago, when Townshend signed with Little Brown to write his autobiography. Work commenced, but the book wasn’t finished. So now, Pete’s blogging his memoirs – on one of two blogs he’s launched in the last week or so to replace his online diaries. He can explain:

The backbone is complete, all the research is in place. And yet, because my creative and professional life is still so active, I feel I will never catch up with the present unless I retire simply to write. To retire, simply to write, when I am already a writer, presents a contradiction. So rather than endlessly write, I am going to publish.

I think this is brave and interesting, continued evidence of Townshend’s rare open mind, even as he cranks out another whopper of a Who tour at age 62. It’s a performance artist’s call.
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Our Little Month-Old

Just a month ago, newcritics hit the feed-stream as an experiment: could a few bloggers come together to write about culture without killing each other. The answer, a month in, is a Beatle-like yeah. Not the bouncy 1963 “yeah!” but more a 1969-style, slouching “yeah…” Followed by “man.” Which is perfect really, because this is a secondary outlet for most of the authors here – a hang-out, a back room. We’ve got no expectations really.

What’s really, though, is the new conversation we’ve started – 15 bloggers (so far), dozens of commenters, thousands of readers. I’ll give you the basic stats: 45 posts and 181 comments, within 22 categories. More than 11,000 sessions and 50,000 pages. Small stuff still, but I’m enjoying the ride. And really, what a great lineup of bloggers. Think about the output in on month, and the variety of posts. If this was a magazine, I’d buy it.

But it’s not – it’s a blog. So you’re in charge here, to the degree I can control it. Your ideas and suggestions are encouraged. Your comments power newcritics. Roxtar says newcritics is “Slick as snot on a glass doorknob, and as cool as the other side of the pillow.” Love it! But we’re only a month old. Can’t hardly walk yet. But we’re learning to crawl. Stay tuned.

Setlist for Tonight

So much to read, so little time. Welcome to the occasional newcritics linkfest (or blog-whoring as the estimable Shakespeare’s Sister would call it). It’s three-dot time, friends. Jim Wolcott pans Woody Allen’s Scoop (“There’s a lot that doesn’t seem to have reached Mr. Magoo.”), a flick that was panned here by Lance Mannion, who gives a long and sincere thumb’s up to a celluloid winter’s tale, The Big White. Maud Newton’s not a fan of winter’s epidemics, but being laid up gave her the chance to review The Mighty Boosh, via YouTube, by way of the BBC. She likes. And if you’re got the bug, use the wifi and the day off from work to read Grasshopper’s Diary of a Heretic, a work in progress. Michael Stickings blogs a winter painting. Blue Girl loved Nora Ephron’s latest, especially the black turtlenecks. Gotham Gal pans the International Center of Photography’s exhibits. Nancy Nall thought Dreamgirls was OK, but she didn’t find the real Detroit. And the Slacktivist has a CEO’s ode to Yertle the Turtle. Oh, and Hugh Hewitt apparently thinks the widely-loved fantasy series 24 is somehow real.

The Sorkin Spectacle

Lance Mannion, who graces newcritics with his presence, runs one of those wonderfully just-because online events that attracts the right crowd: I refer to his weekly live-blogging fest of Aaron Sorkin’s much-maligned Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Lance’s commentpalooza has been on hiatus with the show, but it returns to tonight and we urge visitors here to repair over there around 9:30 EDT, 8:30 Central and log on in. The banter is mostly better than the show, whose main topic is, basically, banter.

From this couch, the problem with Studio 60 isn’t so much the over-stylized walk-and-talk tic that Sorkin has developed (and patented, apparently); it’s that the show is supposed to be about a show that’s funny, about people who are funny. But they’re not. (Except for erstwhile network “suit” Amanda Peet, who is occasionally hilarious in the classic wacky-beauty way that Sarah Paulsen is supposed to be, but isn’t). Ken Levine noted this and other factors in an LA Times piece, eliciting a thin-skinned attack from Sorkin (who took Levine’s considerable writing credits in vain),which in turn prompted this blog post from Levine. Ah, Hollywood. Thy charms are many. Ironywatch: the whole Levine-Sorking-Mannion episode is far more interesting than your typical week of Studio 60! Then again, I only watch it for the blogging.

Zoinks Scoob…

Shakespeare’s Sister writes a brief and heartfelt homage to Iwao Takamoto, who created Scooby Doo, and died at age 81:

I can’t begin to explain how much I adored Scooby-Doo as a kid. For my birthday one year, all I wanted was a Scooby-Doo record player. Never mind that they didn’t make Scooby-Doo record players. Mama Shakes bought a little blue record player and decorated it with Scooby-Doo stickers. When I opened it, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life. Many an evening was spent in my room dancing to my single of Eddie Rabbit’s I Love a Rainy Night spinning away on that Scooby-Doo record player.

Shakes also notes that he also created the wonderful Muttley from the Penelope Pitstop oeuvre. And she puts some great faux final words in Takamoto’s mouth: “…would have made it to 82 if it weren’t for those meddling kids!”

Overlooked Calvin Baker

A great post from the always inventive, eminently book-worthy Maud Newton, the famed literary blogger – read it all but here’s a taste:

Calvin Baker’s strangely neglected Dominion is one of the books I admired most this year. I understand that a novel so allusive, in which invocations of myth abound and the richness of language recalls the King James, isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But I look at some of the hyped-up claptrap that has critics pulling out their trumpets this year, and am amazed that a story this good hasn’t garnered so much as a review in a major newspaper.