January 16th, 2003

flavored with age

Darkies to the back, Klan to the front

In honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, the President decided to complain about how coloreds keep getting into college. 'Racial preferences' were his target du jour, which are bad, apparently, because they let you get an education even though your test scores may not be the best, based on nothing but your race. Which is unconstitutional, and we all know what a deep and abiding faith the Bush administration has in the Constitution.

As per Ari Fleischer, President Bush has no intention of getting rid of the preferencing system at Yale that allows 'legacies' (the children of graduates) automatic admission regardless of their grades. You may recall that George W. Bush was himself a recepient of this sweet little largess.

Class warfare, anybody?
flavored with age

Frodo wept

So, in between slogging through page after page of the depressing, impenetrable but excellent novel "The Tunnel" by William Gaddis, I decided to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I figured, well, I only read them once, and that was in my junior year of high school (which was a really, really, really long time ago), and it might be fun to read them before the last installment of the movie trilogy comes out this Christmas. I'm about halfway through "The Two Towers" right now.

A few random observations:

- It's really surprising how well the novel reads, given that it breaks so many of the basic rules of writing: it's got far more description than dialogue; it often tells instead of shows; and it's ultra-heavy on exposition (in fact, the first book starts with about thirty pages of exposition, and you're NEVER supposed to start your book that way). He pulls it off, which is certainly a testament to his skill as a storyteller while standing as a rebuke to his skill as a stylist.

- I know -- I KNOW -- what a lame thing this is to point out, and the last thing I want to do is toss any kind of P.C. filter over the trilogy, but it's a little numbing how often the bad guys are referred to as "dark", "black", "dusky", "slant-eyed" or "swart". Especially when the good guys are simultaneously being referred to as "Whiteskins". OKAY WE GET IT ALREADY. I shouldn't find this so dismaying, but I do.

- I think they should have played up the Gimli/Galadriel relationship more in the movies. Because the "son of Gloin" quite obviously has a big hard-on for Galadriel, and what audience wouldn't like to see a filthy midget dry-humping Cate Blanchette? Am I right? Come on.
flavored with age


Speaking of 'The Two Towers', anyone got a line on this Miranda Otto dame who played Eowyn in the movie? I ask because she's hot, and now that Neko Case is moving away from Chicago, I need a new ridiculous celebrity infatuation.

In other news, I made a big thing of soup last night. I mean a BIG THING. Of soup. I call it "soopl-du". And my plan was to bring a heapin' helpin' of its hospitality to work today, and eat it for lunch. SO OF COURSE I FORGOT IT. And of course I have no cash to buy lunch. And if I go to the gym tonight without eating first my stomach will explode or something. Possibly I could mug somebody, who knows.

Irritatingly, the industrial complex where I work has only crappy chain stores within walking distance, so my meal choices are limited to shitholes like McDonald's, Subway, and 7-11. Also, my office is right in between two huge high schools, so when school is in session I have to compete for my processed, cruddy chain-food with about ten hundred thousand slack-jawed teens. GIVE ME MY QUARTER POUNDER WITH CHEESE! GIVE ME.

There is a locally owned, independent hot dog joint called Pipo's. And I really, really want to like it. It's local, it's family-owned, it's not a chain, it has a cute counter-girl, and it has lots of Chicagoey food. But it sucks. It sucks so bad. Their food is just totally crappy. I can't like it no matter how much I try. THIS IS WHY IT'S SO TRAGIC THAT I FORGOT MY SOUP.

You may say this is of minimal importance when you look at the life of an Afghani child who has lost a leg to mines. I say screw that kid, I want a decent char cheddar dog. This is a million times worse than the worst thing that ever happened times ten.
flavored with age

Bleat, Jimmy, bleat

James Lileks, who seems to get crazier with every passing day, has yet another endless screed about how ignorant, hysterical and foolish is anyone who dares disagree with him anent the Iraq situation.

I don't want to do a tedious point-by-point takedown of his piece -- I leave that sort of thing to him -- but a few things stood out:

"Look: reasoned, principled objections to the war are necessary; we need good debate."

This is about the ten millionth time since September of 2001 that Lileks has trotted out this exact same line about how it's good to have reasoned, principled debate about the war. The only problem is, he never, ever mentions any reasoned, principled debate about the war. He only trots out the line when he's about to mock someone who objects to the war for any number of reasons (which he does with numbing regularity). So, what are we to assume from this? There's two interpretations: the first, that there is no reasoned, principled debate about the war. This, I would guess, is his preferred interpretation. The second is that there actually is quite a bit of reasoned, principled debate about the war from both sides of the ideological fence, but he isn't paying any attention to it, nor does he care to.

"I’m pretty sure Stephen King is skeptical about the war, for example. I know his politics. But he hasn’t made the leap so common to others in the scribbling, warbling and gesturing arts - he doesn’t think we’re all dying to hear his prescriptions for Middle East foreign policy."

Lileks pulls this argument out most recently in reference to John Le Carre's recent tirade against the Bush administration, but in truth, he uses it against anyone -- singer, artist, writer, actor, newspaper columnist -- who opposes the war and is not an actual politician. (Not that he lets elected officials get a free pass if they oppose war.) But, oddly enough, the presumably well-read Lileks is unfamiliar with the "physician heal thyself" maxim, because he apparently believes that even though he gained fame as a modest, Dave-Barry-level humorist, and most visitors to his site came there to look at funny pictures of food, they are nonetheless dying to hear HIS prescriptions for Middle East foreign policy.

I'll leave aside his juvenile prodding of Le Carre, his convoluted attempt to make him seem cowardly and effeminate by making fun of Le Carre's French-sounding pseudonym, and his ridiculous claim that journalists and newspaper columnists can write anything they want in America with nary an interfering word from their superiors, and close with this:

"I'd mail LeCarre all the copies of his books I owned, postage due - if I hadn't dropped them off at the Salvation Army the last time we moved."

Recently, Lileks has been on a big kick of mentioning how he finds himself in the position of forsaking the artistic canon of artists he previously enjoyed because they were foolish enough to express opinions contrary to his about political notions. He can no longer listen to Sheryl Crow because she wore an anti-war t-shirt at the American Music Awards; he can no longer enjoy the films of Martin Scorsese because he fussed needlessly over the possibility of civilian death in Iraq; he can no longer rock out with Chairman Pete Townshend because someone accused him of being in the vicinity of child pornography. Now he proudly thumps his chest that he has forsaken the novels of Le Carre, perhaps sensing in advance that the author would someday express an ideologically unsuitable opinion.

Well, I don't know any kinder way to put it, but that this is a completely juvenile, immature behavior. I long ago realized that while the art and the man are inextricably linked, I don't have to like one to enjoy the other. Many people I admire for their work -- Ezra Pound, Bob Black, Lou Reed -- were pretty abysmal human beings who were either personally or politically reprehensible. And you know what? I don't care. I still enjoy watching the movies of David Lynch, even though Lynch is a right-wing kook. I'm not going to throw away my Miles Davis albums just because Miles was a wife-beating pimp. And I'll keep reading James Lileks (who only yesterday wrote an extremely funny column, and whose Institute is a never-ending delight), even though he's a timid, petrified, ignorant reactionary with as much political insight and sophistication as a little green football.
flavored with age

Fifty ways to getcha

I finished a bunch of pages in my crappy novel last night, more than I had hoped to get done. Did they rip off Bendis? Did they rip off McBain? That's not important right now; the important thing is, they're DOWN.

Tonight's supposed to be comic pages, although after the gym I'll be lucky if I can lift my arms. Also, I still have no hopes of getting an artist for this fucking thing, so it may just constitute a more lenghty and convoluted form of jerking off than I'm used to, but that's never stopped me from doing something before.

The Roommate tells me, draw it yourself. Anyone can learn to draw. Then I beat myself in the face with a hammer.