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Category: pop culture

Fug Girls get 'Messy' with young-adult follow-up [Updated]

FuggirlsJust in time for summer beach reading season, professional celebrity skewerers the Fug Girls are back with another young-adult sendup of Hollywood celebu-spawn. We caught up with Go Fug Yourself bloggers Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan to talk about their "Messy" new book.

Jacket Copy: In your young-adult debut, "Spoiled," a vacuous blond ladder climber goes Manolo a Manolo with her surprise half sister. In "Messy," she continues to spar but with a different female character. What is it about rivalry that appeals?

Heather Cocks: It isn't so much about rivalry as outsiderness. In "Spoiled," Molly was a geographic outsider. In "Messy," we get someone who’s emotionally an outsider. Those are the kinds of feelings that anyone can relate to. A lot of teen rivalry is feeling you’re different from someone else and being judged for being different. I don’t know any teenage girls who look back on that time and say, 'What a wonderful, magnificent time of personal growth.' Usually you're thinking of the girl who made you feel like an idiot.

MessyJC: Like "Spoiled," your new book is a takedown of celebrity culture. But, like your blog, it's a takedown that unfolds in the blogosphere. Why did you want the rivalry to center on a Hollywood insider blog?

Heather Cocks: There's definitely the idea that the Fug Girls are writing a book, so there’s a fun wink to how we met and got started. The reason these books even exist is because we have this blog. People often assume that we ourselves are anonymous because we don’t put our pictures on the website and we have facetious bios we put up. My picture is from Joan Collins when she was on "Dynasty" and Jessica’s is Shannon Doherty from "90210," so people see that and assume we’re trying to stay anonymous and sometimes disbelieve we’re women or that our names are really Heather and Jessica because they’re cheerleader names you would cherry-pick to write a blog like ours. That brings up the whole idea of whether you can believe what you see on the web. It was a fun way for us to deal with identity issues. [Updated June 6, 2012, 8:51 a.m.: The original version of this post said the Fug Girls don't put their fiction on their blog. They don't put their pictures.]

Spoiled_pbJacket Copy: How is writing young-adult fiction different from your blog, especially writing as a team?

Jessica: Heather and I are very comfortable writing together because we’ve been doing it for eight years. Our posts on Go Fug Yourself we write ourselves, but our work for New York magazine and other freelance we do together, so it feels like a natural extension. Logistically, we had a very detailed outline and then we traded.

JC: Why did you even want to write fiction for teens?

Heather: It’s such a different muscle from what we do on the blog because it’s creating something new as opposed to riffing on material. To have a picture that’s your base is different from creating the world yourself. We both watch a lot of CW and ABC Family. We're very soapy people. We read a lot of young-adult because there’s so much really well-written fiction for young adults. God knows the number of times we mention "Sweet Valley High" on our website. It felt like a really natural arena to step into.

JC: What's so great about your books is that the humor from your blog completely translates. What makes fashion and celebrity culture so fun to make fun of?

Jessica: We sort of see Go Fug Yourself as the online version of sitting around with your friends watching the Oscars. It's a virtual coffee klatsch to sit around and say, "What is she wearing? What is he thinking?" We intend it to be good-hearted, but I also think if I had all these resources -- all the money and the stylist and the trainer and the time -- I would look fantastic all the time. There’s something confounding when someone who has all the resources to look amazing all the time sometimes looks totally insane.

JC: Brick was such a narcissistic, movie-star dad in the first book. Without spoiling "Messy," does he step up in book two?

Heather: One of my favorite scenes is when Brooke achieves a measure of professional success early in the book and she tells Brick and they have a little moment together. Anyone who read "Spoiled" knows she’s very much driven by wanting his attention. Brick in this book becomes a little more involved in her life, so I think people will be happy to see him spending some time. But he just finished work on "Avalanche," his epic snow movie shot in Key West.


"Spoiled" review

Novelist James Patterson preaches the power of kids' books

"Fated" review

-- Susan Carpenter

Photos: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan; book covers for "Messy" and "Spoiled." Credit: Kim Fox; Little, Brown and Company.


'The Hunger Games' stars to tour national malls, starting in L.A.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."
The stars of "The Hunger Games" will be traveling the country in advance of the film's March 23 release, starting March 3 with a stop at Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles.

Actors Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, along with director Gary Ross, will appear at the March 3 event. Subsequent stops are scheduled at malls in Atlanta, Phoenix, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Minneapolis and Seattle.

"The Hunger Games," by Suzanne Collins, is an international bestseller with more than 23.5 million copies in print in the United States alone.


The eagerly awaited song of the Mockingay

"Mockingjay" book review

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in the upcoming Lionsgate film, "The Hunger Games." Credit: Lionsgate.

The gift of Gaga


Amid the torrent of images of her alter ego in elaborate makeup and futuristic fashions, the stripped-bare face of Stefani Joanne Angelina seems startling.

The Grammy award -winning singer has teamed up with outré photographer Terry Richardson for a book of photographs, “Lady Gaga X Terry Richardson” “(Grand Central Publishing, $50), a showcase of more than 350 color and black-and-white photos taken on a nearly yearlong global odyssey.

Richardson, known for his risqué, clothing-optional style, captured all sides of the chameleon-like pop star, commencing with the 2010 Lollapalooza festival, continuing to her unforgettable egg-encased arrival at the 2011 Grammys and on through to the final show of her Monster Ball tour.

It’s a not-for-kids picture book with a sententious foreword by Gaga. The rest is pure, unadulterated visual dialogue. Fans won’t be disappointed with extreme behind-the-scenes and concert shots of the expected snarls and outlandish get-ups. Included are images of Gaga’s it's-what's-for-dinner meat  dress and her poses with Cher, the godmother of attention-grabbing, barely-there Vegas showgirl couture. But most revealing are the black-and-white images with no fuss, no props or theatrical makeup in the way. It’s when the singer takes a moment from the madness, pulls back her hair and ditches the costumes, that we see the real girl who is the mastermind behind the monster.

View a gallery of photos from Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson

Images: From the book LADY GAGA x TERRY RICHARDSON. Working. Photo by Terry Richardson/Grand Central Publishing.

- Liesl Bradner

Lady Gaga and Slavoj Zizek?


Lady Gaga has been spending time with internationally known philosopher Slavoj Žižek, if you can believe the heated headlines of the New York Post. Lady Gaga is even more widely known, a pop-culture one-woman phenomenon of singing, dancing and crazy out fits. Žižek, a lively philosopher and theorist, is a critic who often turns his attention to pop culture.

And when it comes to pop culture, where else to turn but Lady Gaga?

The New York Post writes:

Sources say Gaga and Slovenian-born Zizek -- who like Salman Rushdie seems to be intellectual catnip to beautiful women and who was once married to Argentine model Analia Hounie -- spent time together discussing feminism and collective human creativity. The pop star also agreed to support Zizek at a March rally in London when the lecturers' union UCU was on strike.

In a recent blog post titled "Communism Knows No Monster," Zizek called Gaga "my good friend" and said, "There is a certain performance of theory in her costumes, videos and even (some of) her music." He says her infamous meat dress is a reference to "the consistent linking in the oppressive imaginary of the patriarchy of the female body and meat, of animality and the feminine."

The New York Post calls Žižek a Marxist, but his thinking, while leftist, is more complex than the label implies. His most recent English-language books are "Hegel and the Infinite: Religion, Politics, and Dialectic" (2011) and "Paul's New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology," "The Idea of Communism," "Living in the End Times" and "Philosophy in the Present," all published in 2010.

As for the other implication -- that Lady Gaga's connection with him was somehow romantic -- Žižek told the New York Post, "I am terribly sorry to disappoint you, but this is all a fake! The only thing I share with her is the support for the [London lecturers' union] strike."

Sometimes a meeting of the minds is confluence enough.


Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek packs house

Lady Gaga bio on the way

Even Lady Gaga can't battle the e-reader buzz at 2010's CES

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Lady Gaga performs. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

50 Cent to publish anti-bullying book, 'Playground'

50centBullying has long been a schoolyard scourge, but it's more in the spotlight than ever as the age-old problem evolves with insidious new technological twists. Getting to the root of the issue is a new young adult novel from an unlikely author: superstar gangster rapper 50 Cent.

Embracing the author credo, write what you know, the multi-platinum, multiple-Grammy-nominated artist will soon publish the semi-autobiographical young adult novel "Playground," about a 13-year-old bully who's forced to face what he's done. Published by Razorbill, the novel will be out in January.

Like 50 Cent's music, which draws upon his rise from the streets as a crack dealer, his book "Playground" will also pull from events in his own childhood and adolescence. In a statement released Monday, 50 Cent said his YA book "would have been very helpful for me growing up... Now that I have a teenage son, it is my goal that this will have a positive influence on all teenagers."

50 Cent is the bestselling author of two books -- his 2005 autobiography, "From Pieces to Weight," and his 2008 follow-up, "The 50th Law."  


Yale to launch $150,000 writing award

'Harry Potter' star Daniel Radcliffe on new Rowling project

A lesson from the bestsellers: What are you waiting for?

 -- Susan Carpenter

Photo: 50 Cent. Credit: Dominic Favre

Tonight in LA: Bruce Sterling and Simon Reynolds

Tonight, science-fiction author and Wired blogger Bruce Sterling will sit down to talk cyberpunk, post-punk and pop culture moving into the future with music writer Simon Reynolds, author of "Energy Flash" and "Bring the Noise." The event, which is free, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Pasadena.

Sterling, who holds the awesome title "Visionary in Residence" at Art Center College of Design, writes about what the audience can expect:

Retromania. Atemporality. Anachronesis. Hyperstasis. Gothic High-Tech. Favela Chic. The Hipster International. The Rock Curator. Steampunk. Network Society. Collective Intelligence. Revival Cults. Techno Sampladelica. Time-Warp Tribes. Frankenstein Mash-Ups. Piracy. Dead Media. Hauntology. The Shock of the Old: Past, Present and Future in the First Decade of the Twenty-first Century....

The evening’s goal: to confront the implications of Simon’s latest book, “Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past.”

The event will be at Art Center College of Design, Hillside Campus in the Los Angeles Times Media Center, 1700 Lida Street in Pasadena.

-- Carolyn Kellogg


Art in the Streets: At MOCA Sunday and on shelves now


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

The highly anticipated and controversial "Art in the Streets" exhibition opens this Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Geffen Contemporary. Dozens of art books have been published over the last few years on the subject and its prominent players as it has become more accepted into the mainstream art world. 

Two books published this month are ideal companion pieces to the show: "Art in the Streets," by curator Jeffrey Deitch and co-curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose, and "The History of American Graffiti," by Gastman and Caleb Neelon.

" 'Art in the Streets' celebrates the exhibit with a broader scope and includes more historical essays on the people involved in the show," said Gastman during a break while preparing for the show. The book also explores other subcultures connected to street art such as hip hop and skateboarding in Southern California in the 1970s.

" 'The History of American Graffiti' gives an overview of graffiti from Houston to L.A., telling the true stories of the people involved," said Gastman. With Neelon, Gastman spent four years researching and interviewing more than 500 people in roughly 25 cities about the first visual art form created by teenagers. Many of the early participants considered themselves writers and that what they did was writing as opposed to tagging. 

"For the book, Caleb and I defined graffiti as the act of writing your name over and over for the sake of  fame. It's not street art," Gastman noted. But it has evolved since those early days with the abstract Wild Style and the addition of characters from pop culture.

Continue reading »

John Lennon's letters to be published by Little, Brown


The letters of John Lennon will be published in October 2012 by Little, Brown, the publisher announced Friday. "The Lennon Letters" have been compiled in cooperation with Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow. It's the first time she has given permission for a selection of his letters to be published.

Editing the book and writing its introduction is Hunter Davies, the official Beatles biographer, who has tapped Ono's own archives as well as tracked down correspondence from Lennon that is in the hands of collectors, dealers and the original intended recipients.

In the release about "The Lennon Letters," the publisher points out that Lennon, who died in 1980, never had a chance to convert to email. He was inclined to reach for pen and paper:

He lived -- and died -- in an age before emails and texts. Pen and ink were his medium. John wrote letters and postcards all of his life; to his friends, family, strangers, newspapers, organisations, lawyers and the laundry -- most of which were funny, informative, campaigning, wise, mad, poetic, anguished and sometimes heartbreaking....many of the letters are reproduced as they were, in his handwriting or typing, plus the odd cartoon or doodle.

Letters by John Lennon that have come up for auction in recent years tend to do well. Apparently, even people who got lambasted in a letter by Lennon -- like an art critic at the Syracuse Post-Standard -- wanted to save what he'd written. That letter to the art critic, handwritten by Lennon in 1971, sold in 2003 for more than $38,000.

Although the price for "The Lennon Letters" has not yet been announced, it will be considerably less.

After the jump: a video of John Lennon's "Starting Over," for your Friday afternoon enjoyment.

Continue reading »

Lauren Conrad gets another book deal; 'L.A. Candy' selling for 99 cents

Laurenconrad_2011 Lauren Conrad, former star of MTV's "The Hills," current clothing designer and author of "L.A. Candy," has scored a new three-book deal, it was announced Wednesday. HarperCollins will publish the trilogy, called "The Fame Game."

Conrad's new book begins with a main character from "L.A. Candy," Us Magazine reports. "We took the mean girl of the ['L.A. Candy' books], spinning her off," Conrad told the magazine. "This series is about a girl who loves everything that fame is, and that's all she's ever really wanted. [Madison] has fun with the press, she enjoys the attention, she welcomes scandal!"

How does she feel about the bargain basement?

Alibris.com -- an online storefront for many used bookstores -- currently lists 15 copies of the hardcover for sale for 99 cents. It's selling dozens of copies of the book, new and used.

Used copies of "L.A. Candy" can be found on Amazon for as little as $1.48 -- that's for the paperback version.

Resellers with new copies of the hardcovers are asking a bit more, $3 and up.

The other books in her initial series -- "Sweet Little Lies" and "Sugar and Spice" -- are holding their value better. The bargain price new hardcovers can't be bought for less than $7, and used copies don't fall below $5.

Conrad started with HarperCollins and she's staying there. Maybe her publisher can afford to launch a new series, even though the first one is now selling for so little, because it has already made enough off the initial retail sales. Because it wouldn't make sense to launch a new celebrity novel series if the first one couldn't turn a profit, would it?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Lauren Conrad celebrating her birthday in Las Vegas in February. Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

10 'Mad Men' books to keep you going until 2012

  Madmen_drapertypewriter Tuesday's news that AMC's hit show, "Mad Men," won't be back until 2012 was devastating to many; viewers have so many unanswered questions: Does Don marry his secretary? Will the new dress code include miniskirts and bell-bottoms? Will Sally run away to Woodstock?

Current contract disputes have also delayed the publication of a Benedikt Taschen-Matt Weiner collaboration on a behind-the-scenes guide in Taschen's sleek XL edition style. The book was tentatively scheduled for a fall release date.

In the meantime, as fans wait, here's a list of "Mad Men"-related books that hopefully will take care of their withdrawals for at least a few months.

1. "Mad Men (Reading Contemporary Television)," by Gary R. Edgerton (I. B. Tauris): a collection of essays and analytical observations by television scholars on the effect of the show on popular culture.

 2. "The Ultimate Guide to 'Mad Men': The Guardian Companion to the Slickest Show on Television," by Will Dean (Random House UK): For those not initiated into Don Draper's world, this episode-by-episode guide covers through Season 3 and includes interviews with the show's creators and stars.

3. "Analyzing 'Mad Men': Critical Essays on the Series," by Scott F. Stoddart (McFarland) (forthcoming in July): Here are 12 critical essays that offer a scholarly and psychoanalytical approach to the relevance of the show with parallels to contemporary issues such as consumerism, capitalism and sexism.

 4. "Mid-Century Ads: Advertisements from the 'Mad Men' Era," by Steven Heller, Jim Heimann (Taschen) (forthcoming in the fall): The authors present 800 color pages of American print advertising from the 1950s and 1960s that give insight into the industry and campaigns on which the show and its storylines are based, including Lucky Strike, Honda and Jantzen.

5. "Mad Men's Manhattan," by Mark Bernardo (Roaring Forties Press): A guide to New York City taverns, restaurants, hotels and other locations that inspired memorable scenes.

 6. " 'Mad Men' Unbuttoned: A Romp through 1960s America," by Natasha Vargas-Cooper (Harper Design): A historical look at the news and artifacts of the time period in which "Man Men" takes place. The book is filled with trivia, a profile of real-life ad man Leo Burnett and events and people linked to episodes, including skinny ties, "Think Small" Volkswagen ad campaign, John Cheever and Jackie Kennedy's White House tour on CBS.

Which Nobel Prizewinner makes the list? He's after the jump at No. 7.

Continue reading »

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