We’re not spying, but it feels like we are. Each moment is tracked on surveillance monitors, recorded, studied. On one screen, a man, dressed moments ago in cowboy gear, is now postcoital with a robot prostitute. She soon makes herself scarce, heading back to recharge her circuits in the break room. The cowboy stares up at the ceiling, his six-shooter cooling in a holster draped over a chair. He’s luxuriating inside a simulacrum of an 1880s Western whorehouse, one situated within a network of amusement parks in an unnamed desert expanse. It’s the end of the first act of the 1973 film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, a master of the techno-thriller novel whose occasional forays into filmmaking—he directed a half dozen features over two decades—yielded more modest, earthbound results than the fantastical predictions he packed into his paperbacks. But Westworld, his feature debut, continues to haunt. Its vision of a pleasure dome with exploited, humanlike robots as moving targets has been reprogrammed into a highly anticipated HBO series, premiering Sunday. Read More
While we’re on the subject of the Florida Keys, here’s Annie Dillard, Laurent de Brunhoff, Robert D. Richardson Jr., and Phyllis Rose singing the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” in Key West, circa 1995. If the sheer infectiousness of Dillard’s dancing doesn’t get you, maybe the nineties-era video effects will. This is Rising Star Video Karaoke, after all—not amateur hour.
- Labeling it gay propaganda, an official in the Saratov region of Russia has called for the removal of LGBT history book Gays: They Changed the World (pictured above) from bookstore shelves.
- “When you meet somebody who bores you, you have to put up with him until he leaves. But when you meet a boring character, you turn the page.” In memory of Elmore Leonard, Esquire runs the “What I’ve Learned” feature the author did in 2005.
- Meanwhile, the New York Times gives us a compendium of the vast number of adaptations spawned by Leonard’s work.
- Rob Sheffield, author of karaoke memoir Turn Around Bright Eyes, suggests appropriate song choices for Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and others.
- Bookshelfies—in which people take self-portraits in front of their bookshelves—is both a word and a thing.