Apparently, Saudi Arabia has an American Idol-style poetry contest show. (!!!!.) In this clip at Jezebel, which aired on state-run TV, a competitor named Hissa Hilal recited a 15-verse poem criticizing–among other things–clerics who issue fatwas, and suicide bombers. The clip, though untranslated and unsubtitled, is worth watching. The audience applauds occasionally, and she goes on to win the round. And now she’s getting death threats, but I guess that’s just to be expected. The Abu Dhabi National has a decent-size article on her. In English, duh.
The Rumpus has a long piece on Darius Rucker’s weird second career as a country singer. Also, Funny Women #20: Holiday with Communists. Also^2, The Rumpus will be at the Highline Ballroom in NYC on 4/6, featuring Sam Lipsyte, Colson Whitehead, Michael Showalter, Alina Simone, & more. You’ll be hearing from us about this again, but consider this the early warning system.
Vanity Fair presents something they call The Bookopticon, a kind of half-brilliant half-idiotic look at “the incestuous web of the publishing world.” The “interactive field guide illustrates how 10 young authors with potential best-sellers coming out this spring and summer fit into the firmament.” The first thing the chart reveals, before you even start clicking around, is a rather generous conception of the word “young”, which I think here means “under 40.” Now, I’m sure I’ll appreciate that generosity in 10 years’ time, but right now I’m going to go call BS (except on Simon Rich and Nick McDonell, who are both 26) because even the NBCC and Granta manage to cut their “young whippersnapper” lists off at 35 (though sometimes Granta cheats–but they also don’t know what the word “novelist” means; so let’s just figure they’re doing the best they can). ANYway. The chart is worth checking out and clicking around on, though a few key pieces of information are missing. For example, it’d be interesting to know how many of these people have the same agent, or who their agents are. Second, Vanity Fair fails to state the obvious, which is to identify themselves as participant observers, whose creation and presentation of the chart will almost certainly affect the thing they’re measuring/predicting (and hey- good for these guys!). There ought to be a VF node on the chart itself, to which all ten writers are connected. For those of you playing along at home, here’s how to figure out where you fit in: Start by ignoring everything but the Big 10 Names. Give yourself two points for each person you know personally. Give yourself one point for each person who is known personally by one or more people that you know, and with whom you could reasonably expect to be put in touch by the end of the business day (assuming of course you had some business to conduct, which you probably don’t–but if you did). Give yourself half a point for each person you do not know and could not reasonably be put in touch with today, but whose name rings a bell to you. Deduct a point for each person you have never even heard of. Also, if any person who got you two points is linked to Norman Podhoretz, you lose ten points. Now spend the rest of the day trying to figure out what those points translate into. I bet you can’t. (Also, I scored a 4 1/2.)
And finally, one more piece of useful advice from our friends in Dentonville, this thorough and practical post from Lux Alptraum at the very NSFW Fleshbot explains “How to be a dirty perv in the digital age (and not get caught).” The first answer, obviously, is dress like the Saudi poet whenever you’re going on Chatroulette, but the other stuff might be good to know, too.