January 20th, 2003

flavored with age

Thanks for liberating the coloreds, now fuck off

Pretty much every columnist on Town Hall today celebrates the life and sacrifice of Dr. King by telling us how we should quit letting blacks get into our universities. No, the GOP doesn't have an image problem with minorities! HA HA!

Meanwhile, over in LileksLand, brother James counters charges that he's a demented crank who thinks everything sucks today by pointing out that everything sucked in the 1970s, too. To quote:

"When a certain flavor of nihilistic cynicism starts to taint the debate, anything that smacks of optimism and cheer tastes saccharine and cloying. The clever people would always rather listen to Chumbawamba sing an Iranian mullah's fatwa than hear the Captain and Tenille sing the American Constitution."

If you ask me, Lileks is just saying stuff like this so often lately because he's trying to get people to stop making fun of him. I mean, when you write something like that, you're pretty much parody-proof, you know? But let's take one more look:

"To some, fascism is always on the upsurge, always around the corner. And they always expect it to appear as it did before, wearing black shiny boots, whistling Wagner. They never recognize it when it marches beneath the hammer and sickle, or the crescent moon."

You hear that, you smelly anti-war idiotarian commie hippies? You're supporting fascism!

Anyway. In this rambling essay, where he mentions that his friend the Giant Swede is a bad-ass and that people who like Tolkien are nerds, he actually does talk about how great things are today, but his example is that video games and computer animation are awesome, and movies don't have a point anymore. So I guess this really is the best of all possible worlds!
flavored with age

The joy of sloth

I work well under pressure. No, I really do, that's not just something I say at job interviews. Give me a fearsomely short deadline, and I will work magic.

But on the other hand, I work even better not under pressure. Saying "I work well under pressure" is like saying "I become strong and charged with adrenaline when my life is threatened". I mean, great, but wouldn't you rather be sipping iced tea?

What's the point of this, you would ask if you weren't afraid of me, because I am big and tough and strong like the Giant Swede. The point is, yesterday was meant to be an all-day writing day. And instead of waking up early and getting right into the groove, I fucked around all day. I went out for a while, I blew off laundry, I watched a bunch of TV, I played the Sims, and before I knew it, it was 5:00PM. The whole day, pissed away. I decided to just write it off, which I did with some reluctance and great self-loathing, because the weekends are vital time if I'm ever going to finish my stupid novel.

But then, having taken all the pressure off myself to produce anything, I ended up opening the file just to do some edits, and damned if I didn't write twelve pages before bedtime. And not twelve shitty pages, either, but twelve pretty decent pages that moved the story along, brought in a new character, and solved a plot problem that had been nagging me for a couple of weeks. All after I had expected nothing of myself that day.

The lesson: laziness is fun.
flavored with age

Speaking of awful lite-pop

I realize it's cliched to say this, but I really, really hate Celine Dion. I hate her voice, I hate her appearance, I hate her music, I hate her personal life, and I hate everything she has ever had to say on any subject.

But most of all, I hate her stupid new car commercials where they play one of her migraine-inducing 'hits' as she dotes over her precious little angel baby. I keep hoping it will turn into one of those anti-drunk driving ads where the car gets totalled, but no such luck.
flavored with age

I like movies

We rented DVDs this weekend: "Human Nature" and "The Importance of Being Earnest". Microreviews follow.

HUMAN NATURE: A lot better than I thought it would be. I'm unfamiliar with the director, but Charlie Kaufman, it seems, can do no wrong. Funny, profound after a fashion, competently if not spectacularly directed. Some great, quotable lines and clever gags. Relentlessly postmodern, cutting the rug out from under you at every turn (which I mean as a compliment, of course, not a criticism). Tim Robbins was terrific, and the movie allowed me to nurse my growing crush on Miranda Otto by having her trot around in her underwear a lot. Not quite as spectacular as "Being John Malkovitch" or as brilliant as "Adaptation", but better than "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind". And, strictly from a chauvinist point of view, I'm extremely pleased that we're in the rare position of talking about a writer the way we normally talk about a director or an actor.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: Bleah. The problem with this adaptation is that it underplays the main strengths of the play. The director (another one unfamiliar to me) tries to expand the plot (TIOBE has a dull, predictable plot) and the settings (TIOBE is a prototypical drawing-room comedy) and gets altogether too fancy with his direction (TIOBE is a writer's play, not a director's play). Worst of all, the actress who plays Aunt Augusta is subtle and refined, where the play screams for a terrifying dragon lady. The tremendous strength of the play rests on its incredible dialogue; that's what you have to lead with. If you want plot and setting, adapt a different play. Also, Reese Witherspoon is grossly miscast as Cecily; it's not quite Keanu-Reeves-in-'Dangerous-Liasions' level, but it's close.
flavored with age

Condiment lamentations

Much is made, and rightly so, of the woe that betides he who upends a mustard dispenser and has his sausage doused in a foul torrent of mustard-water.

But for myself, there is no pain that can rival the opening of a small service packet of mayonnaise and discovering that it has separated, leaving you with a bunch of oil with some loathesome eggy goop floating in it. Miracle Whip is particularly prone to this. Oh, rueful day!
flavored with age

No, not that dream, the other dream

Hey, did you ever notice that Martin Luther King is rightfully lionized today for all of his work and all of his oratory about the struggle for civil rights, but no one ever mentions his struggle for economic justice? All the class-struggle stuff just gets wiped out of every commemoration, as if it had never happened. Which is too bad, because although racism is always with us (despite the claims of the end-of-racism crowd, most of whom are white), a good argument could be made that King's position on economic justice is a far more timely and urgent message today than his stance on racial harmony.

It's like Labor Day; it didn't take long to turn into a generic "day off work" rather than an actual day to remember a message, or anything like that. We're still very cognizant, as a nation, of one of King's dreams; but we're apparently in danger of completely forgetting the other one.

Good article on the subject here.