For Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant: First, Success. Then Sleep. – NYTimes.com

Kobe Bryant: Exactly. I’ll give you an example. When you watch me shoot my fadeaway jumper, you’ll notice my leg is always extended. I had problems making that shot in the past. It’s tough. So one day I’m watching the Discovery Channel and see a cheetah hunting. When the cheetah runs, its tail always gives it balance, even if it’s cutting a sharp angle. And that’s when I was like: My leg could be the tail, right?

Arianna Huffington: That’s amazing.

KB: Inspiration surrounds us.

Maybe it was a cheetah named Dirk Nowitzki. Also really interesting in this interview: both of them weaning themselves from the “I only need {{very small number}} hours of sleep” lie. They both wised up and made changes to sleep more.

For Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant: First, Success. Then Sleep. – NYTimes.com

15 Questions for San Antonio’s Matt Bonner

15 Questions for San Antonio’s Matt Bonner

Don’t focus too much on this idea that your influences will be similar to people whose films you admire. In fact, it’s really the opposite: You like people who are doing something completely different, and it’s very relaxing to you because they’re dealing with all kinds of problems you don’t have to deal with.

I like to read my poems, but I don’t like to hear other people read theirs.

Kay Ryan. Zing!

M: Roger Angell, A Hall-of-Famer at 93

I don’t go for nostalgia. I try not to. It’s so easy to sentimentalize the good old days, but I don’t ever do that. I’m aware that things have changed, but I try not to go there. It’s very easy, and you get sort of a mental diabetes.

I also liked this:

If you do enough reporting, then you don’t have to gush about the emerald field, the white streak of the ball, and that.

M: Roger Angell, A Hall-of-Famer at 93

Kanye West

I was a music producer, and everyone was telling me that I had no business becoming a rapper, so it gave me the opportunity to tell everyone, “Hey, I need some time to recover.” But during that recovery period, I just spent all my time honing my craft and making The College Dropout. Without that period, there would have been so many phone calls and so many people putting pressure on me from every direction—so many people I somehow owed something to—and I would have never had the time to do what I wanted to.

Kanye West

Jerry Seinfeld on how to be funny without sex and swearing

And:

To this day, Seinfeld still marks crosses on a calendar, keeping regular hours (albeit relaxed ones: most days, he says, he’ll meet a friend for a two-hour breakfast) and spending 20 minutes a day doing Transcendental Meditation, which is the only topic to jolt him from his default nonchalance into real enthusiasm: “I could do the whole interview about TM, to be honest, but we’d just lose everybody. I’ll describe it very simply: it’s like you have a phone, and somebody gives you a charger for it. And so now you can recover from this exhausting experience of being a human, twice a day. It’s deep rest. Now that’s something that can help people. As opposed to this idiotic calendar thing.”

Jerry Seinfeld on how to be funny without sex and swearing

Critical thinking #4: Daniel Mendelsohn

I always tease them at the beginning of the semester about their writing—I say, “Whenever you write me at 11 o’clock on a Thursday night begging me for an extension on the paper, the prose is always so beautiful and the email is so wonderfully structured.” It’s a joke, but it’s also not a joke—in that situation they understand the rhetoric of the form to which they’re committing themselves: They understand who they are as a writer and a beseecher, they understand who I am as the person in charge, they understand what evidence to adduce in their favour—their dog died, their computer broke or whatever. Which is why the email begging for the paper extension is always a well-written piece. But whenever they have to write three paragraphs about women in Genesis or whatever—when they have to make an argument—it’s basically “word salad,” because they’ve never read anything that presents a text, wrestles with it and comes up with some conclusions. For that reason, I think it’s better that they should be reading Pauline Kael reviews in the New Yorker than Derrida.

Filed under: Daniel Mendelsohn.

Critical thinking #4: Daniel Mendelsohn

An Interview With Steve Reich, Who Rewrote Radiohead

Steve Reich can talk a mile. The most amusing, Reich-splaining part of this interview is him talking about how, exactly, he was influenced by jazz.:

Yeah, sure, all jazz is improvisation. What I’m saying is what jazz is for me is yes, improvisation is a big part of it, I understand that and I’m just not a very good improviser and I’m not interested in improvisation at all, but I understand that it’s a very, very important part of music. What interests me in jazz is the feel of jazz, the tones of jazz, the gestures of jazz, the way John Coltrane sounds as opposed to some classical saxophone is like two different universes. I’ve had a tremendous influence where, when I was a kid I took piano lessons, but it wasn’t until the age of 14—when I was a kid before the age of 14 I never heard a note of music before 1750, I never heard a note of music after Wagner, and I never heard any real jazz, I heard you know, pop music and all kinds of Broadway shows and that kind of stuff. But at the age of 14 for the first time I heard the The Rite of Spring, the 5th Brandenburg Concerto, and Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and the drummer Kenny Clarke and I decided I want to be Kenny Clarke and I started studying percussion at the age of 14. I studied with Roland Kohloff, who was the local great drummer and later became the timpanist with the New York Philharmonic, and I remained a drummer ever since. And so hence all the percussion in my group. And I went down to hear Miles Davis and Kenny Clarke and Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and all those groups started when I was 14 years old, on through high school, on through college when I got to Juilliard and continued doing it, and I started listening particularly to John Coltrane.

I got out to the West Coast and I was studying with Luciano Berio during the day, and every time he was in town I would go to hear John Coltrane at night. Now what was it I learned, improvisation? No, forget about it. What I learned was this: John Coltrane could play for half an hour on one harmony. Think of the album, or if you don’t think of it, go out and buy it or steal it whatever, called “Africa Brass”. Do you know it? “Africa Brass” is 17 minutes and it’s all on the low E of the double bass. So if you go to a jazz musician and say ‘hey man, what are the harmonic changes of “Africa Brass” – “This is E” “well what changes?”.”E for 17 minutes!” “Well that sounds strange, how are you going to play one harmony for 17 minutes?” Well I’ll tell you how: you have incredible melodic invention from Coltrane himself, who’s either playing gorgeous melodies or screaming noise through his horn, you have incredible timbral variety because he was working with another great jazz musician Eric Dolphy, who arranged all the brass in the “Africa Brass” and part of it was french horn, which sounded like elephants coming through the jungle. He also was working with Elvin Jones, who as you may know, is a drummer who sounds like he’s two or three or four drummers all at once. If you have rhythmic complexity, timbral variety and melodic invention, then you can stay put on a single harmony for half an hour, and it’s fascinating, it’s fantastic, it gives it more intensity because you’re focused on these other things. And in a funny way my piece “Drumming” doesn’t sound like “Africa Brass”. I didn’t even think about “Africa Brass”, but really it syncs the exact same way. There’s one slight change of key in the glock section, but basically it’s in six sharps for an hour. It doesn’t change. Because of the rhythmic complexity in the drums, the complete change of timbre into marimbas, and the rhythmic complexity and the melodic invention of the women’s voices and then the complete change of timbre into glockenspiel and the melodies in the flutes and piccolo and whistling, and then the complete change of timbre to all those instruments playing together you can listen to one key for an hour and enjoy it. So my interest in jazz is in gestures, the way Kenny Clarke could make an entire band sort of float in a magical way I never heard in any classical music, and the gesture of tones, the style of playing, THAT’S what I loved about jazz.

He also closes talking about his Radiohead piece and a great rant about artists getting expensed out of NYC. Filed under: Steve Reich.

An Interview With Steve Reich, Who Rewrote Radiohead

The Arts – €”Agents of Change and Source of Enchantment | Catholic World Report

Dana Gioia:

Dana’s brother Ted Gioia:

If you asked me to sum up my view of music in one sentence, I could do it: music is a change agent and a source of enchantment. When people start understanding the arts in those terms, you don’t need to sell them on culture. They come out of curiosity, desire, and self-interest. Teachers can help spur this process, but it’s a different kind of teaching than you find in most classrooms

The Arts – €”Agents of Change and Source of Enchantment | Catholic World Report

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia

What I do wish is that we were in agreement on the basic question of what we think we’re doing when we interpret the Constitution. I mean, that’s sort of rudimentary. It’s sort of an embarrassment, really, that we’re not. But some people think our job is to keep it up to date, give new meaning to whatever phrases it has. And others think it’s to give it the meaning the people ratified when they adopted it. Those are quite different views.

Really enjoyed this interview. I need to keep an eye out for this Jennifer Senior character, as I just remembered her really good article on high school.

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia

Emmys: Jerry Seinfeld on Why He May Never Go Back to TV (Q&A) – The Hollywood Reporter

I made Comedians in Cars out of that show [The Marriage Ref]. If you look at it, you’ll see what I was going for on that show. I think it’s interesting to hear people talk about something that’s powerful and interesting to them out of the box. But I couldn’t make it happen. One of the big things I realized was that the audience is stopping these people from talking. The other thing I realized is that I was much more interested in comedians than I was in a lot of other people whom I thought I was interested in. So, in some ways, I took that pot, smashed it on the ground, took four or five pieces and re-glued them into another thing.

Emmys: Jerry Seinfeld on Why He May Never Go Back to TV (Q&A) – The Hollywood Reporter

bookforum talks with karl ove knausgaard – bookforum.com / interviews

Good interview. My Struggle sounds so strange. Here’s Knausgaard talking about the magic that happened when he stopped filtering and perfecting his writing, and just started going for sheer volume:

When I was nineteen, I went to a yearlong course in creative writing. There, some simple rules dominated, and the most important one dealt with quality: if a sentence was bad, you removed it. If a scene was bad, you removed it. The critical reading of the texts always resulted in parts being deleted. So that was what I did. My writing became more and more minimalist. In the end, I couldn’t write at all. For seven or eight years, I hardly wrote. But then I had a revelation. What if I did the opposite? What if, when a sentence or a scene was bad, I expanded it, and poured in more and more? After I started to do that, I became free in my writing. Fuck quality, fuck perfection, fuck minimalism. My world isn’t minimalist; my world isn’t perfect, so why on earth should my writing be? I then did the same thing with every other rule. Show, don’t tell? What happens if you do tell, really try to tell EVERYTHING, and don’t give a damn about subtext? Something else happens, something you can’t control. No matter how explicitly you describe a person or a scene, there is always a shadow in the text, a kind of tone or sound, and that tone or sound is the important thing. When I freed myself from these restrictions and started to insist on quantity instead of quality, my texts started to get long. Not necessarily good, but long!

Reminds me of Borges on the baroque style: “The Baroque is that style which deliberately exhausts (or tries to exhaust) its possibilities and borders on its own caricature.” In a similar section of the interview I liked, he talks about the balance of family and ambition, and how he started being easier on himself, in a way:

Karen Blixen, the Danish writer, said something like “you can’t go hunting the Grail with a pram.” And she’s right. When I started to write this book, I was deeply frustrated and alienated. We had three kids in four years, and the dominant feeling for both my wife and me was that of living on the edge of chaos. There was a lot of quarreling going on, and at the same time, I was not able to write anything. So at one point I decided to let go of all ambition whatsoever and just write about that: The domestic world, the banality and tristesse of everyday life. I really hated the idea, because I didn’t want trivialities, I wanted the Grail, and when I started to do this, I was ashamed of my writing. The struggle was really to overcome the shame. But taking care of kids and writing do not exclude each other—I would start to write at 4am, then either my wife or I would take them to Kindergarten at 8, and then I would write until 3 pm and spend the rest of the day with them. It’s not Hemingway’s way—as I understand, he wrote from 6 till 12, then started to drink—but it is a way, if not to reach the Grail, then at least to finish some pages every day.

bookforum talks with karl ove knausgaard – bookforum.com / interviews

austinkleon:

An interview with Rick Rubin

On not-knowing:

I never decide if an idea is good or bad until I try it. So much of what gets in the way of things being good is thinking that we know. And the more that we can remove any baggage we’re carrying with us, and just be in the moment, use our ears, and pay attention to what’s happening, and just listen to the inner voice that directs us, the better. But it’s not the voice in your head. It’s a different voice. It’s not intellect. It’s not a brain function. It’s a body function, like running from a tiger.

On producing:

So how would you describe your role as a producer, in general?

Just as fan. Making music that I want to hear. You’re so close to something when you write it that it’s hard to have any perspective on how it hits someone else. My job is to be a professional version of the outside world—a listener who is not attached to any of it, who doesn’t know the story of how it was written, who doesn’t know how it works, who doesn’t know why this is important to you.

On stripping things down:

There’s a tremendous power in using the least amount of information to get a point across.

Wonderful interview.

So great. That part about being a “professional version of the outside world” reminded me of Jeremy Denk’s New Yorker essay about recording, and how hard it is to get perspective. A favorite quote:

In the moment of playing, the logistics of just hitting the notes distract you somewhat from the continuous choices you are making. In the edit you have nothing but choice. And yet you feel helpless, since everything has already been played.

And since he talked about Kanye, remember the rules: No hipster hats. No acoustic guitar in the studio.

Sinking Into the World of ‘Upstream Color’ With Director Shane Carruth – Movies – BlackBook

I love narrative and how it exists and why it exists and how it’s meant to be used. You can come up with a paragraph full of some truth, something that’s universal, some exploration, and it can be really informative, but it’s likely to not be that interesting. But you can spin a story, you can tell a narrative, and you can infuse it with this stuff, and if you’ve done your job right, you haven’t just captured somebody’s attention long enough to take them on this journey, you’ve also figured out something about the exploration through the act of the story.

Says the guy who made one of the most interesting movies I’ve seen this year.

Sinking Into the World of ‘Upstream Color’ With Director Shane Carruth – Movies – BlackBook

My Perfect Adventure: Frugal Traveler Columnist Seth Kugel | My Perfect Adventure | OutsideOnline.com

Wow. Seth Kugel is delightfully self-aware.

Q: What motivates you to keep writing?
A: Not to be facile, but if I don’t write, I don’t get to do the things I later write about. An editor once asked me whether I was one of those writers who liked writing or who hated writing. The implication—that there are journalists who struggle with writing and that that’s completely normal—was a huge relief.

Also this:

Q: Name three things you still want to cross off your bucket list.
A: Get married. Have kids. Write a great book. Disappointed?

My Perfect Adventure: Frugal Traveler Columnist Seth Kugel | My Perfect Adventure | OutsideOnline.com

In Conversation: Steven Soderbergh — Vulture

I loved this long interview.

On the few occasions where I’ve talked to film students, one of the things I stress, in addition to learning your craft, is how you behave as a person. For the most part, our lives are about telling stories. So I ask them, “What are the stories you want people to tell about you?” Because at a certain point, your ability to get a job could turn on the stories people tell about you.

Also:

I was watching one of those iconoclast shows on the Sundance Channel. Jamie Oliver said Paul Smith had told him something he hadn’t understood until very recently: “I’d rather be No. 2 forever than No. 1 for a while.” Just make stuff and don’t agonize over it. Stop worrying about being No. 1. I see a lot of people getting paralyzed by the response to their work, the imagined result. It’s like playing a Jedi mind trick on yourself, and Smith is right. That’s the way I’ve always approached films, the way I approach everything. Just make ’em.

He’s become one of my favorite directors.

In Conversation: Steven Soderbergh — Vulture