Category Archives: Books

Pynchon Trivia Contest

Pynchon Trivia Contest with Simpsons Inspired Question Mark Masks -- by Joe Reifer

Pynchon Trivia Contest with Simpsons Inspired Question Mark Masks — by Joe Reifer

The new Thomas Pynchon book Against the Day was released on November 21, 2006. Moe’s Books in Berkeley had a party on the night of November 20th, and began selling the book at midnight. With some help from the Belligerati Reading Club, I prepared a Pynchon trivia quiz and served as the emcee. We even got some PR for the event from Publisher’s Weekly!

The quiz was 20 questions with a bunch of bonus questions. Two extra points were given to the four people who wore the Pynchon masks based on the Simpsons episode. We also provided a small culinary sampling of Pirate’s Banana Breakfast, which you would only understand if you’ve read Gravity’s Rainbow.

Musical entertainment was provided by guitarist John Schott and drummer John Haynes. They played a wonderful mix of jazz and improv, with some great interpretations of Thelonius Monk tunes that were appropriate for this particular book.

I’d like to thank the nice folks at Moe’s for staying up late to host such a great event. I had a great time. And in case you’re wondering who won the trivia contest, there were two ringers. The winner runs the Pynchonoid blog, and the runner up runs Pynchon pages, including the new Pynchon wiki for Against the Day. I’m looking forward to getting started on the book over Thanksgiving. Happy reading everyone!

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Sharpening Book Review

I’ve just written a detailed review of Bruce Fraser’s excellent book Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2 for one of the best photography blogs on the internet, The Online Photographer. Look for the review to appear in the next few days. Thanks to Jay Watson for the book recommendation. Not only is Jay a nice guy and great photographer, he is also kind to animals.

Update — 11/8/06: The book review is now live on T.O.P.

Celebrity photographer: Michael Grecco

If you’re hungry to learn more about photographic lighting, you’ve probably run across the popular instructional books from Amherst Media. A few years ago I checked out Michael Grecco’s The Art of Portrait Photography from the library. This book has been out of print for a few years, and online prices for it are ridiculous. If you do some digging, I bet you can find a copy for a reasonable price — it’s worth tracking down.

Grecco is a well known celebrity photographer, who often shoots conceptual location portraits. He has a unique lighting style that relies on tightly controlled light on his subjects. You will want to by some grids for your strobes after reading this book. Grecco uses a 3 degree grid on his subjects quite often, and also employs a custom fresnel which was gutted and replaced with strobe innards. A good mix of studio and location work is covered in the book, and the hand drawn lighting diagrams are quite effective.

What got me thinking about Michael’s work was a blog post over on Death to Film which has a short interview with Grecco, and a super cool time lapse video of Michael shooting a portrait of Martin Scorsese on a New York rooftop.
Grecco just came out with a new book called Lighting And the Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Celebrity And Editorial Photography, which I plan to purchase soon. His website is

A dangerous man: Vincent Borrelli

Vincent Borrelli is a Albuquerque based bookseller who primarily specializes in photography books by contemporary artists. Limited editions, signed copies, books that come with a print, and other drool worthy items are available by searching his catalog at abebooks, and he also sells items on eBay. While prices are often justifiably pricey for some of these items, there are also some quite reasonably priced books and prints. Whether you are a collector, or just a fan of modern photography, it’s both fun and dangerous to peruse Vincent’s catalog.