July 18th, 2005

flavored with age

Weekend Updike

- Friday: made the new apartment official by plunking down the fat security deposit and picking up our six hundred keys. Carlos, our new landlord, is still doing all sorts of fidgeting around with the place (among other things, he wants to put in a new phone jack, lay down some new kitchen tile, and replace the cabinets), but he told us we can go ahead and start moving stuff in starting today. So, after work this afternoon, look for us carrying over boxes and boxes of books, like a bunch of highly literate cavemen. For thems of you keeping track, it looks like our phone number and e-mail will stay the same, as will our address for the most part: same city, same state, same zip, still on the second floor -- only the house number will be 4043, not 4029. Update accordingly.

- Saturday: even though I'm brokey-down, I scraped together some dough and had dinner at Lalo's with some pals from out of town: the lovely and talented Elizabeth Ellen and the talented and lovely Aaron Burch (proprietor of Hobart Pulp). I'm not extremely fond of the mediocre food, noisy atmosphere and eight-dollar margaritas at the former Michael Jordan's, but the company was good and included the likewise lovely and talented Ann Logue and her husband Ric and Claire Zulkey, who is, even as I write this, planning a horrible revenge against me for having paid off some mariachis to play "Guantanamera" at her. Afterwards was the Long Room for drinks, then an early break because we are all old and boring.

- Sunday: more housecleaning and a few errands, followed by a trip up to Evanston for the Ethnic Arts Festival. My fears were justified in some cases (I was surrounded on either side by extremely sincere people telling extremely sincere stories, and at least half the crowd didn't seem to get the satirical gist of my first piece) and not justified in others (the crowd was a bit bigger than I anticipated, and I didn't actually get booed or vilified), but all in all it was pretty pleasant. Due to extreme busyness with moving, writing, and all kinds of other stuff, I didn't linger long at the festival (just long enough to purchase and devour an extremely ethnic orange-peach frozen fruit bar), but it was enjoyable enough, and the city of Evanston paid for my trip to the grocery store with the check I got for my reading. Thanks to all who showed up, including Aaron and Elizabeth, Chris, Lara, and Jeff.

- Note that I have nothing to say about the San Diego Con, because I wasn't there. I hope you all had fun you BASTARDS.

- Likewise note that I have nothing to say about the new Harry Potter book, because I doubt I will read it just as I have not read any of the other books. Which leads me to a question. My friends list has been pretty much non-stop HP for the last four days, to the degree that I'm teetering on the verge of a shut-the-fuck-up-about-Harry-Potter-already fit even though I know exactly nothing about Harry Potter. A number of people (I mean, a LOT) have reported that they've actually read the damn book already, which is just insane. Which leads me to my question: are these books actually, I mean, you know, any good? I ask because...well, okay. If I think of three authors who I really, really, really like -- say, Thomas Pynchon, Haruki Murakami and Don DeLillo -- I can't imagine, can't even fathom, going to a bookstore and lining up to buy their newest book the same day it comes out and then reading it that same day. So, and I promise I am asking this in as sincere a way as I can muster, are the Harry Potter books actually good books? Or are people just really, really heavily buying into the marketing hype here?
flavored with age

Reality show taxonomy

- Competitive Show
* People compete to win money
> People compete to win the right to continue being on television
* People compete in a performing talent show
> People compete in a performing talent show with or against celebrities
* People compete in a race, sport, or other physical challenge
> People who are not professional athletes annoy people who are
* People compete for a high-profile job
> People compete to get fired from, or not get fired from, a high- or low-profile job
* People compete for no good reason
> People are unpleasant to one another for the sheer hell of it

- Celebrity Show
* People compete to become famous
> People who once competed to become famous: Where are they now?
* People who were once famous compete to become famous again
> People who were once famous: Where are they now, and how did they become non-famous?
* People who are currently famous lord it over people who are not currently famous
> People who are currently famous bitch about other people who are currently famous
* People who are currently famous discuss how great it is to be currently famous
> People who were once famous discuss how awful it is to be no longer famous
* People who are currently famous pretty much go on with their everyday lives, and we watch them doing it, because after all, they're famous
> People who are currently famous pretend that they are just like every other non-famous person

- Self-Improvement Show
* People allow their personal dress style to be altered to fit another person's idea of acceptability
> People allow their entire lifestyle to be altered by a gaggle of homosexuals
* People allow their living space to be altered to fit another person's idea of acceptability
> People allow their modes of transportation to be altered to fit another person's idea of acceptibility
* People allow their physical appearance to be altered to fit another person's idea of acceptability
> People are mocked and humiliated for their non-mainstreamed personal appearances and are then 'rewarded' with surgery
* People allow their social behavior to be altered to fit another person's idea of acceptability
> People's unacceptable social behavior turns out to be a ruse to mock the unacceptable social behavior of others
* People allow every aspect of their lives to be altered to fit another person's idea of acceptibility
> People allow thousands of people they will never meet to dictate every life-altering choice they ever make just to be slightly famous for ten minutes

- Documentary Show
* Normal people are viewed under normal circumstances
> Normal people are viewed under normal circumstances without their knowledge
* Normal people are viewed under abnormal circumstances
> Normal people are viewed under abnormal circumstances that have to do with their otherness
* Abnormal people are viewed under normal circumstances
> Abnormal people are viewed under normal circumstances but everyone pretends they're not abnormal at all
* Abnormal people are viewed under abnormal circumstances
> Abnormal people are viewed under abnormal circumstances until it actually becomes normal
* Abnormal people are viewed under abnormal circumstances, but the whole thing is presented as normal
> Abnormal people are viewed under abnormal circumstances by juxtaposing them with normal people in normal circumstances

- Humiliation Show
* People humiliate themselves
> People humiliate themselves in front of or alongside their family and/or friends
* People are humiliated by a stranger
> People are humiliated by a stranger who is a military or civilian authority figure of some kind
* People are humiliated by a celebrity
> People are humiliated by a stranger who becomes a celebrity by virtue of his or her talent at humiliating people
* People are humiliated in a romantic or sexual context
> People are humiliated in a romantic or sexual contest involving a person who is fat, boorish, deformed or otherwise abnormal
* People are humiliated for no good reason
> People are humiliated or humiliate other people even though they don't have to in order to live up to the terms or premise of the show
flavored with age

James Lileks needs your HELP!

From his latest Bleat:

I need this for the Backfence. Cast superhero/comic book movies using old-school movie heroes a la Bogart, John Wayne, etc. You can do it! fence@startribune.com

Yes, now that Jim is really busy reading books about how western civilization is doomed and our culture is a wreck due to the perilous influence of moral relativism, he can't be bothered to actually write the columns for which he gets paid anymore. So help him out! He needs to know what stars of the obviously preferable yesteryear could be cast as the superheroes of today, sparing him the agony of having to see some talentless prettyboy unfit to shine the Duke's show boots (and probably a liberal pantywaist Hollywood hippie at that) play the Flash.

Some suggesions I thought of:

- Franklin Pangborn as Captain America.
- Peter Lorre as the Spirit.
- Leni Riefenstahl as Wonder Woman.
- Sydney Greenstreet as Doll Man.
- Percy Kilbride as the Spectre.

Keep 'em comin'! Jim needs you to help pay for his next trip to the Apple store!