Virtual Memories Show 358:
Daniel Mendelsohn

“Achilles is a hero who is mesmerizing without being penetrable, whereas Odysseus I think I understand (perhaps hubristic to say that).”

His wondrous new collection, Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones (NYRB), brings a dizzying array of Daniel Mendelsohn‘s critical-essayistic-memoir pieces together. We sat down to talk about the work of the critic and the drama that makes for a great critical piece, as well as the temptation to make a name by going after easy targets, his need to criscross genres and categories with personal writing and criticism, and why his negative review of Mad Men got him more pushback than anything else he’s written. We get into his amazing 2017 memoir, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic, its gorgeous structure and its insight into Homer and our present day, while we try to suss out why the great Greek translators have either produced a great Iliad or a great Odyssey, but not both (he’s working on a new translation of The Odyssey). We also discuss the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the nature of contemporary mythmaking, my pet theory about the tragedy of Achilles in the Iliad, Emily Wilson’s question about Odysseus’ true homophrosyne, the role of erudition in criticism, how institutions like The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Paris Review etc. handle succession, our love of the finale of The Americans, his one conversation with Philip Roth, and SO much more. Give it a listen! And go buy Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones and An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic!

“When you start as a critic, there’s a great drive to make your mark and be noticed.”

“You need to be bothered a little bit by something, in order to want to investigate it.”

“There is no act of intimacy in the world of literature that is greater than translating.”

“Identity becomes more interesting the more multiplex it is.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Daniel Mendelsohn teaches at Bard and is Editor-at-Large at The New York Review of Books. His books include An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic; The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken: Essays, and, from New York Review Books, Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture. His new book is Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones, also from NYRB.

There’s a longer version at his website.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Mendelsohn’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Mendelsohn by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 357:
Walter Bernard

“The first thing you try when you’re called in, is to find out how the top people see the problem. That’s often similar from project to project: the disconnect from the readership.”

Legendary designer Walter Bernard joins the show to talk about Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines (Columbia University Press), the new book he co-authored with Milton Glaser. We get into the art and necessity of collaboration, the relationship he and Milton developed over half a century of work, the pros and cons of doing redesigns for globally established institutions, and the decline of print in the digital age. We get into his stellar run of redesigns for Time, Fortune, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, the one magazine Walter would have loved to redesign, his design pet peeves, how he learned to learn the culture of newsrooms, how he came into his own and could feel like a true partner to Milton, and plenty more! Give it a listen! And go buy Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines!

“Magazines are not done by one person. They get better with all these ideas and collaborations.”

“Sometimes type designs are marvelously successful and innovative, and other times you’re thinking, ‘Why are you showing off like this to a reader?'”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Walter Bernard has been the designer and art director of many of the best-known magazines and newspapers in the United States, including Time, Fortune, and The Atlantic. He coproduced the documentary Portraits of a Lady (2008). In 2013, he received the Henry R. Luce Lifetime Achievement award for his work at Time Inc. His new book is Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines, co-authored by Milton Glaser.

There’s a much more extensive bio at his consultancy’s website.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Walter’s studio on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Walter by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 356:
Emily Flake

“My personal brand tracks so well with physical awkwardness.”

With her new book That Was Awkward: The Art & Etiquette of the Awkward Hug (Viking Books), cartoonist and humorist Emily Flake explores the world of awkward hugs. We get into how that book landed in her lap, why she hates drawing other people’s jokes, and how she learned (and pushes the boundaries of) the New Yorker cartoonist’s voice. We talk about the massive influence of Shary Flenniken’s Trots & Bonnie comics on her work, the question of “age-appropriate” reading and her 7-year-old kid, performing stand-up cartooning and hosting the Nightmares and Shitshow series (and getting Robyn Hitchcock to guest on that evening’s Nightmares!), how making 4-beat comic strips taught her to write humor, the guilt she felt the first time she saw someone with a tattoo of one of her gags, building up immunity to editorial rejection, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug!

“Halfway through art school, I realized my work got better reception if it was funny.”

“I stopped going in for Look Day. Once you can e-mail things in, why wear pants?”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Emily Flake‘s cartoons and humorous essays run regularly in The New Yorker, The Nib, and many other publications. Her weekly strip, Lulu Eightball, ran in alt-weeklies for many years. She’s written and illustrated two books: These Things Ain’t Gonna Smoke Themselves and Mama Tried. Her illustrations and cartoons appear in publications all over the world, including the New York Times, Newsweek, the Globe and Mail, The Onion, The New Statesman, and Forbes. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, daughter, and a new cat. Her new book is That Was Awkward: The Art and Etiquette of the Awkward Hug (Viking Books). She’s on Twitter and Instagram.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Emily’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Emily by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show:
The Guest List 2019

It’s time for our year-end Virtual Memories Show tradition: The Guest List! I reached out to 2019’s pod-guests and asked them about the favorite book(s) they read in the past year, as well as the books or authors they’re hoping to read in 2020! More than two dozen responded with a dizzying array of books. (I participated, too!) The Virtual Memories Show offers up a huge list of books that you’re going to want to read in the new year! Give it a listen, and get ready to update your wish lists!

This year’s Guest List episode features selections from 25 of our recent guests (and one upcoming guest)! So go give it a listen, and then visit our special Guest List page where you can find links to the books and the guests who responded.

Also, check out the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 editions of The Guest List for more great book ideas!

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guests

The guests who participated in this year’s Guest List are Christopher Brown, Nina Bunjevac, Caleb Crain, Joan Marans Dim (episode coming 2020), Boris Fishman, Katelan Foisy, Mort Gerberg, Eva Hagberg, Peter Kuper, Kate Lacour, Liniers, Kate Maruyama, Edie Nadelhaft, Sylvia Nickerson, James Oseland, Dawn Raffel, Witold Rybczynski, Frank Santoro, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Karl Stevens, James Sturm, Frederic Tuten, Chris Ware, and me, Gil Roth! Check out their episodes at our archives!

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The episode was recorded at stately Virtual Memories Manor on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of my 2019 books by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show:
Tom Spurgeon
Memorial Service,
Dec. 14, 2019

“I had an amazing life, and my love for my family is unsurpassed, followed nearly as much as the love for my closest friends. Be kind to yourselves, and live in laughter as much as possible. I love you. Thanks for everything.”

This special episode of The Virtual Memories Show features the memorial service for Tom Spurgeon, held December 14, 2019, at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. The speakers (in sequence) were Whit Spurgeon, Sunny McFarren, Rob Eidson, Dan Wright (slideshow here), Fred Haring, Eric Reynolds, Jordan Raphael, me, Jeff Smith, Laurenn McCubbin, Rebecca Perry Damsen, Caitlin McGurk. The following people spoke during the open comments session: Bruce Chrislip, Christian Hoffer, Carol Tyler, Evan Dorkin, Darcie Hoffer, Shena Wolf, James Moore. To get a greater understanding of Tom’s life and his impact on the world around him, please listen to these heartfelt, emotional, and sometimes funny remembrances of our friend. If you’d like to make a donation in Tom’s name, he requested that your gifts go to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, but he also would have been happy to know you supported your favorite artist, writer, or creator, however you can. Give it a listen!

“You realize I don’t do anything I don’t want to, right?”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Tom’s obit by Andy Downing will tell you plenty.

Here are some pix I took of the speakers. I forgot to take one of Whit.

Credits: These remarks were recorded at Tom Spurgeon’s memorial service at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum on a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Memorial pins were designed by Chris Pitzer of AdHouse Books, based on a caricature of Tom by Sam Henderson. You can get one here. Memorial card portrait of Tom by Julian Dessai, with lettering and scrollwork by Emi Gennis, and layout and color separations by Laurenn McCubbin.