Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You know the popular show called "The Slogra and Gaibon Comedy Hour?"

No? Google doesn't either, and I think that's a darned shame.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sir Launcelot on the problems posed by the rarity of real dragons

"One understands that a man does not wish to come home to his castle of an evening and say to his lady, 'God wot I had the fight of me life today--no sooner had I fewtered my spear than the monster was upon me,' and have the lady say, 'But, good Sir Giles' or 'But, good Sir Hebes,' and then have the awful question come, 'What manner of monster was it?' and be forced to reply, 'Lizard.'"
--Donald Barthelme, The King

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Internet meme advisory

Dear Internet,

The way the thing goes is thus: "[X] is one of the best [Y]s of all time." That "one of" is important, because it makes the statement much more inconclusive and therefore funnier. Please keep this in mind.


PS. Example: Yes, this sign (scroll down to the third image) is good, but it would be great if it didn't omit the "one of." Let us work together to stamp out this terrible scourge.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The kind of statement that makes you want to weep silently. Or loudly, for that matter.

"What is the purpose for a book that analyzes how much television we watch? I personally don't think it matters. Being that this book was written so long ago, I found it hard to relate to because times have changed."

Sitting there for four weeks, absolutely impervious to anything I said or anything she read halfheartedly skimmed. Augh. And this is hardly an isolated sentiment, including the part about how holy shit, we can't possibly comprehend this; it was published in 1985--the dim mists of antiquity, when mankind's most pressing concern was to avoid being squashed by the mighty baluchitherium! We can't identify with that!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Very briefly noted

The New Yorker frequently features interesting/mysterious snippets from newspapers when there's an inch or so to fill at the end of an article. Here's a good one from the September 21 issue:

From the Lake Oswego (Ore.) Review.

Following up a report of screaming at a residence on McVey Avenue, an officer defused a situation by assisting in the making of peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

It's nice that cops aren't always getting into power-mad fugue states and indiscriminately tasering people.

Since I'm sort of vaguely free-associating about violence, I will take a moment to note that The Onion may have finally gone as far as it's possible for them to go, with the advent of this brilliant and horrible video:

Little Boy Heroically Shoots, Mutilates Burglar

What am I not necessarily saying today?

I am not necessarily saying that anyone deserves to be forcible castrated sans anesthetic, but if I were saying that, I would most certainly be saying it about Tucker Max. I mean, he's certainly not any better than Duane Marvy, and no one complained when he got his, amirite?

What the HELL, humanity? I put in a good faith effort to not completely lose faith in you, and you insist on barfing up things like this? People made this movie. Other people think it's the funniest thing ever.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Childhood obesity is NO LAUGHING MATTER.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

He totally became the hero of all the aspiring pirates.

There's an interesting article in last week's New Yorker about the economics of piracy--actual, arr-type, seventeenth-eighteenth-century piracy. And in this article, a pirate about to be executed is quoted as follows:

"Yes," one declared on the gallows, "I do heartily repent. I repent I had not done more Mischief."

Say what you will about the ethics of the whole enterprise--that is one badass pirate. I guess if you're going to be hanged anyway, there's no reason not to go out with some totally awesome last words.

A brief Tinsley-related note

Here's this Mallard Fillmore comic. You think, huh. Just the usual "Mallard hates everything" stuff--but I think it's worth emphasizing something about this particular comic. Now, I'm not denying that the oversexualization of young girls is a problem. Does Bruce Tinsley actually believe that it is a problem? No. No, he does not. Rather, this represents a sort of knee-jerk, reflexive position on his part. Why do I say that? Because if he genuinely cared about the plight of pubescent girls--if he were at all serious about this--he would not use a phrase like "Pop Tart" to describe them (this isn't the first time he's done this, either). It's a term that vaguely and hypocritically combines titillation and moral censure. (feel free to browse the definitions at the ever-authoritative Urban Dictionary for more on this). You think Mary Pipher ever has recourse to it? The very thought is absurd. As with so many things that the right professes to believe, this is nothing more than an effort to get that get that good self-righteousness going in spite of a lack of any serious moral conviction. If Tinsley suddenly, for some reason, became self-aware, he would almost certainly hurl himself from a steep embankment from the years and years of accumulated, retrospective shame.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The vicissitudes of young Richard Nixon

And I wasn't too happy about the anonymous parody I got in the mail shortly after that, titled "The Farting Quaker," with a picture of me like a train engine chugging butt-backwards--was it my fault I had stomach problems? Some agent of the Phantom, I supposed, like all pornographers and irreligionists. I was used to it by now, I'd been called just about everything as far back as I could remember. When I was in high school, our Latin class put on a play based on Virgil's Aeneid, it was maybe the most romantic thing that ever happened to me--I was Aeneas and Ola was Queen Dido and we wore white gowns and fell in love--but even then they started calling me "Anus" and not even Ola could keep from giggling. Years later, when I was in the Navy, I realized we could have called her Queen Dildo, but we were all too green at the time to know about that. It was amazing we knew about anuses.
--Robert Coover, The Public Burning

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Duck Comics: "Days at the Lazy K"

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Fun fact about "Nixon Fun Facts:"

Despite what some would have you believe, there is no such thing as "Nixon Fun Facts."

A little bit of healthcare blathering

Now look, health insurance companies are basically scum--their entire job revolves around doing their damnedest to deny people necessary medical care. It's fucking disgusting, and it's difficult to see how individuals involved in such an enterprise are not cold-blooded sociopaths. It's people like this who make you wish to GOD there were a hell.

So yeah, healthcare reform, it it were anything like ideal, would smash such companies like bugs. It's nonsensical to imagine that this would somehow be a drawback of comprehensive reform. It would be one of that reform's best features. An excellent blog post laying this out in stark terms.

But I recognize that, since this is basically a barbaric country, that kind of reform isn't going to happen, and there's absolutely nothing to be done beyond grinning and bearing it. Still, there are people hurting, and even some lameass compromise would be better than nothing. Perhaps irrationally--I guess we'll see soon enough--I'm vaguely optimistic that at least something better-than-nothing will occur.

But what really bothers my ass is some of the other compromising-with-evil-people things. Specifically: abortion is a medical procedure. The idea that it should be unavailable to women based on socioeconomic status because we have to appease misogynistic, christianist psychopaths (hey, I calls 'em as I sees 'em) is deeply repugnant to me. Am I allowed to opt out of funding our illegal wars? No? Then I even-more-fail to see why I'm meant to be concerned with THESE assholes' delicate sensibilities.

Likewise: "Oh, don't worry! This reform won't give money to illegal aliens!" Oh, thank god. It would be very, very bad and unchristian of us treat such people as if they were human beings! Olbermann and Maddow are going on and on about a part in Obama's speech where he says that this bill doesn't cover undocumented aliens and some asshole republican representative shouts "that's a lie!" from the audience. Sure, the guy's a dick, but how bizarre are our values when something like that outrages us, but the idea of letting unpeople die…shrug. Whatevs?

Sometimes I really wonder what it would be like to live in an actual, honest-to-god Christian Nation.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The most pointless post on this entire blog?

Could be! I now present to you the lyrics of Sparks' classic, breakthrough single "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us," every line having first been filtered through Translation Party. Your mileage may vary, since the results differ depending on punctuation and capitalization. Interestingly, I found that "This town isn't big enough, not big enough for both of us."--with the period--nets the following result:

Only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, only, size is important enough for both the only town not been made.

Why so only-y? It is a mystery! Anyway:

Contact Size Is Sufficient

We met her at the zoo.
Your favorite type of mammal, she is tonight.
Heart rate, heart rate increased.
Cy bond shall hear the thunder tigers and elephants stampeding.

The important towns on both sides is not enough.
And it is going to leave me alone!

Flying flying domestic routes.
Every time I was afraid to close the cabin crew.
Heart rate, heart rate increased.
Presence, Hiroshima, khaki, and his death is imminent.

The important town on both sides is not enough.
And it is going to leave me alone!

Daily except Sunday,
One day, she is a waste of time, the cafe on the display.
Heart rate, heart rate increased.
Another protein, 20 now, people must eat more to maintain required.

The important towns on both sides is not enough.
And it is going to leave me alone!

Separate shower.
Now, the best chance to clean her.
Heart rate, heart rate increased.
Foreign investors reduce the hail of bullets without.

The important towns on both sides is not enough.
And it is going to leave me alone!

Census, the latest census.
Live close enough in town, another girl.
Heart rate, heart rate increased.

And it is important to know the size of the festival in the town.
Important town of the size of the patch.
I'm not disappear!

Monday, September 07, 2009


New rule: you are NOT allowed to refer to this novel as "lesser Pynchon" just because it came out seventeen years after Gravity's Rainbow and everyone was expecting something more along the lines of 2 Gravity 2 Rainbow. I'm putting my foot down on this one. This idea--that there's some sort of platonic ideal of Pynchonosity from which any deviation is a step down--is absurd. Is Vineland his best work? Maybe; maybe not. But the point is, it's not a rhetorical question. You could make a darn good case for it.

Now, I do have one biggish criticism of Vineland, and one smallish criticism. The biggish criticism is this: Frenesi's redemption at the end comes WAY too easily, and seemingly with no particular effort on her part. I'm all about redemption in a general sense, but her great betrayal is central to the novel, and to just sort of wave it away at the end doesn't feel very satisfying. The smallish criticism is this: there are several (as far as I can tell) totally unresolved plot threads; i.e., the Godzilla business and the airplane hijacking thing. The *extremely* brief mention of these issues at the end really isn't even enough to qualify as desultory. These are narrative slip-ups; there are no two ways about it.

That said, I still think Vineland is pretty fantastic from start to finish. This is the first book of what I think of as Pynchon Mk2, in which the characters are as important as the concepts. In the introduction to Slow Learner, P expresses his undying hatred of "Entropy," partially because, in his view, he put the cart before the horse: he had a concept and forced the characters to adhere to it rather than the other way round. While this is less the case in his early novels (in my devotion to which I bow to no one), you still sort of see a bit of that going on. Not so in Vineland: the ideas are important, but the characters are perfectly integrated. The two parts are neatly balanced.

And what characters! Zoyd is surely the most purely likable character that Pynchon had written to date, and Prairie--well, who would have imagined from his previous work that he could so effectively write a young teenage girl? Nobody, that's who! Then there are DL and Takeshi, whose relationship is one of the greatest pleasures of ANY Pynchon novel. And what can one say of Brock Vond, his best-ever villain? Given this concentration of great characters, it's hard to say how the novel can be described as lesser anything.

It's not just the characters, though; the postmodern setting, though obviously more limited in scope than Gravity's Rainbow, is if anything more effectively realized. I hate to break this to you, but: ninjas are more folklore than actual fact, and the martial-arts-movie kind of ninjitsu that DL practices is, I think we can safely say, made up from whole cloth. And yet, here she is! Because we're dealing with a simulated world, in which these pop culture images ARE reality. There's no Godzilla in the so-called "real world" either, unless I have been badly misinformed. And let's not forget about the Thanatoids, either. They're not really there, you know. And yet--there they are! Prairie even becomes friends with one! Who else could do something so simultaneously inexplicable, funny, and haunting and make it work?

Look at the series of increasingly surreal biopic titles, culminating in my favorite, "Peewee Herman in The Robert Musil Story." We're well and truly through the looking glass, people! Everything is mediated through the screen. The way the flashback story is told--through a complex series of stories and stories-within-stories viewed by Prairie through old film footage. We are dealing with a virtuoso here, folks.

And all of this on top of a genuine, old-school utopia--"Vineland the Good." That's what really makes it, in my opinion. In spite of the surreal, postmodern atmosphere, the novel remains firmly grounded in--well, not "reality," exactly, but in something authentic. Although the simulated world is clearly part of what did in People's Republic of Rock'n'Roll, that doesn't mean that it's all bad or that there's nothing worth fighting for. Look: there may only be ninjas because this is a media-saturated environment, but the fact remains that DL's ninja skillz come in awfully handy. It's a tradeoff, but the point is, the world isn't nothing but a barren, desolate hellscape.

Some people criticize the ending as overly Hollywood-ish. The fools! On the one hand, yes, obviously, part of the reason it ends this way is because that's how a movie would end. But on the other, it is quite apparent that Pynchon is really very fond of these characters, and that doesn't prevents him from despairing, somehow. Look at Against the Day's ending--same thing. In the midst of all this suffering and oppression and artificiality, somehow, always, there is a light that never goes out. That could be his credo.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A few quick questions

Why is Glenn Beck dressed in what appears to be a Stasi uniform on the cover of his new book? And why is he affecting a "ve haff vays uff makink you talk" expression? Okay okay, the answers are obvious: it's because the man's a lunatic. It's probably futile to speculate on what sort of rhetorical point he imagines, in his fevered, twisted mind, he's making; since it clearly doesn't have any sort of relationship with the real world, it's undeducible. But...doesn't he have editors? Someone who could at some point have said to him, uh, Glenn...? Were they really all scared away by the prospect of having to deal with a "GET OFF MY PHONE!"-type psychotic episode? Is he really just so powerful that what no one at any point could bring him/herself to challenge The Madness Of King Glenn? Because I know I've written about how people like him are making mental illness into a legitimate political stance, but the notion that this stance would be so widely and unquestioningly accepted that he's able to get away with nonsense like this--that's a scary thought.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

New Chick Tract

It's sort of interesting because it shows us features of the workings of Hell that have been heretofore mysterious. I'd like actual scriptural citations for this shit, personally. But that is not the point. No, my only point is that this tract features Heihachi in Hell.

That is all.