Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dear Blogger Readers:

After much agonizing, I've decided to move my blogging over to my LiveJournal, at least on a trial basis. As Alan pointed out a few days ago, most of the discussion tends to happen over there anyway. So, this blog will be inactive at least for the near future. Come on and join the fun over there.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm So In Love With You, I'll Be Forever Blue

I got my first LJ comment spam last night! It turns out, this guy? His wife left him for another guy? And there's video now on the Internet of her doing this stuff with the other guy? That she would never do with the first guy? So this guy wanted me to see the video of his wife and this other guy? . . . Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me either. BUT, I figure this is some sort of rite of passage, and I fully expect to have chanting and nude bonfire leaping later.

I am experiencing the fatigue and heartburn that usually presage a cold. (Does anyone else get heartburn pre-cold? I hardly ever get it, so if it happens two nights in a row I can be pretty sure I'm getting sick. I've never heard of this as a cold symptom, but there it is.) I suspect that by tonight, or possibly tomorrow morning, I'll be miserably stuffed up. So I have that to look forward to, which is nice. (Maybe I should pass on the nude bonfire activities.)

It occurs to me that the whole Astronaut weirdness really just signals a new acceptance of the Astronaut people into our culture. Now they really are just like us! Just because they come from space doesn't mean they don't occasionally decide to murder each other. Man, I can't wait until the first Senator plots someone's murder. What? Why are you laughing?

I wonder if Pynchon already knew that the Vikings used crystals to navigate when he wrote Against the Day? (Which is AWESOME, BTW. It has airships and anarchists and journeys through the center of the earth and that's just in the first hundred pages. I'm still reading, though, so please don't spoil me for anything!) (I must say that the linked article is some pretty bad journalism: "Vikings were a seafaring race from Scandinavia who used their longboats to explore and conquer parts of Europe, Greenland, Iceland and Russia." WTF? The Vikings were a separate race? Did they came from space as well?)

Look! Smart people talking!

The fashion must-have for WisCon 50. (Via Warren Ellis.)

Excuse me a second. (What? Really? . . . huh. I, uh--are you sure?!? Well, I just thought . . . OK, fine.) Sorry, folks. Turns out Astronauts don't actually come from space. Turns out they are HUMAN BEINGS. (Vikings too?) Vikings, too.

Now I've got a wiggins.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I did not take this picture . . .

Am I a lost Oliphant, or what?
Originally uploaded by 2composers.
. . . but I love it.

Take a Picture, Sweetie, I Ain't Got Time to Waste

According to yesterday's poll happiness is "Something to do with food," with "A warm puppy" and "A chemical imbalance in the brain" rounding out the top three. Please adjust your expectations accordingly. [Blogger-readers note: I gots no polls over here. Sorry.]

On the way to work I saw a woman doing perhaps the weirdest walk I've ever seen in a non-physically challenged person. She would walk normally for a quarter-block or so, then hunker down and sort of lope forward (in the lupine sense, not the equine), taking really long strides and staying low to the ground like she was stalking prey. It was like running, only really slow so I can't figure out any benefit as far as speeding up her commute. I was fascinated and also freaked out. Keep on keepin' on, weird lady! Rock on with your weird self!

Today I am very excited about my book, specifically the new one I am still writing. This doesn't happen every day, so I thought I'd mention it.

Speaking of rocking on with your weird self, as we were before the commercial break, HOLY SHIT DUDE I KNOW EVERYONE ALREADY LINKED THIS BUT IT'S LIKE THAT "ASTRO-NUTS" SHOW COME TO LIFE IF IT WAS ABOUT CRAZY ASTRONAUTS. I think Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin need to give this woman a good talking to.

The Writers' Block has an interview with rockstar editor Ellen Datlow. Check it out. And Strange Horizons has a story from the talented Joey Comeau. It's kind of a meditation on the scary power of blood and words. Check that out as well.

I had this whole thought forming about how 24 is a workplace drama and the turnover is making it a less interesting show, but then last night's episode wasn't bad so I kinda lost interest in it. I was going to tie it into Studio 60 and how Sorkin's shows all pretty much reflect a worldview in which everyone loves their jobs and works all the time, which is pretty far from my own experience. The shows sort of work--Sports Night is a fun place to work, and The West Wing is about the most important place in the world you could work, but one of the problems with Studio 60 is that everyone is too caught up in their little dramas all the time, and they won't shut up about them, and pretty soon you just want to go get a nice quiet job as a parking lot attendant.

Prince at the Super Bowl. (Part Two is here.) Man, that makes me feel good.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Some Synapses Not Firing

Right, because there must be hundreds of screenwriters in Hollywood who'd come up with a better take on Wonder Woman.

Three hours of cable news as background noise has led me to believe that people are stupid. I'm not sure this qualifies as news.

It's too cold.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tammy Todd's Door

Tammy Todd's Door
Originally uploaded by Snurri.
"The immediate cause of the Exile may never be known. In those soggy April days immediately following the event, when mobs were the rule, accusations and counter-accusations flew with regularity. As Walter Wenstrup pointed out in his pamplet A Call For Civic Order (largely ignored at the time), there are several factors which make isolating the cause largely an intellectual exercise. As Wenstrup states, '[n]either the offender(s), nor their offense(s), nor the aggrieved and/or their agents, nor the precise magickal means of this punitive action are known. One piece of the picture might help bring the rest into focus, but our scope of investigation being limited by our very isolation, patience and diligence are our only recourse.' Wenstrup himself postulated that some collective crime had precipitated the city's removal from common geography. Of course, Wenstrup himself was on more than one occasion singled out as the probable target of the Exile. . . . One of the more popular targets of public suspicion was Micah Ogden AKA Tommy Todd, one half of the popular co-ed burlesque act 'Maggie and Todd' with Alyx Scarpetta AKA Maximum Maggie. Ogden's solo portion of their nightly performances was notorious for the feats of erotic magic he performed, including the apparent summons of a female sex demon with which he simulated intercourse (amidst a complex arrangement of scarves and loincloths in order to circumvent the local decency laws) and a routine in which he danced with his shadow which some observers found offensive for its homoerotic undertones. (Ironically, such performances would be considered tame by today's standards, as any evening spent in the Robinson Tunnel clubs will illustrate.) . . . Todd and Maggie's act (as well as their romantic relationship) had ended some months prior to the Exile, and Todd had dropped out of sight. It was rumored that infernal orgies took place behind the bright yellow door of his home on South Oak Street. A recently divorced fireman accused Todd of seducing him in his dreams. In truth, Todd was in seclusion recovering from recent sexual reassignment surgery; his isolation was so complete that he did not learn of the Exile until a full week after it had happened. By that time he (more correctly, she) was the favorite scapegoat of high-rise demagogues and radio call-in shows. Todd, using the first name Tammy, granted an interview to the Star-Chronicle in which she tried to defend herself from the mounting wave of attacks, to no avail. Maximum Maggie appeared on the Channel 9 news to refute some of the charges, claiming that congress with demons had never been a part of their act and that she herself had appeared, disguised as a succubus, in those portions of Todd's act. . . . The public would not be mollified, however, and on April 14, 1966 a mob marched on Todd's home and demanded that 'he' surrender himself. (In the face of the marvels of the previous ten days, the collective refusal to accept Todd's re-gendering is perhaps unsurprising.) When Todd did not emerge, the restless crowd surged forward, only to be repelled by what one citizen described as 'some force both electrical and concussive, which caused me to lose consciousness for some minutes . . . [w]e soon found that we dared not approach the door, let alone lay hands upon it; even projectiles could not damage it.' It seems that Todd had sealed herself inside, and as far as anyone has been able to determine, she is there to this day. . . . Not long after, Maximum Maggie went into hiding as well, although she is still known to do voiceover work." (p.17-18)

Super Bowl Snuffle

So I called up my friend Kiljoong to ask him if he wanted to go see Volver, because it's Almodóvar and I like Penelope Cruz when she's acting in Spanish. (For some reason her voice grates on me something awful when she's speaking English. I realize that I am insane.) He doesn't pick up so I leave him a voice mail saying, "Blah blah blah Century Centre Thursday or Friday would work but if that's no good for you Sunday would be fine too." (As I'm typing this I'm realizing that tonight wouldn't have worked, actually, but it turns out not to be relevant.)

A couple of hours later he calls me up to tell me he's sick as a dog.

"Do you have finals?"

He laughs. In all the time I've known him, the only time Kiljoong ever gets sick is during finals week. Like clockwork. He put so much pressure on himself and works so hard that he invariably develops a debilitating cold. Since he's been in school for most of the time I've known him--he's working on his PhD now--it's become a regular cycle.

No, he tells me, he doesn't have finals. Furthermore, Thursday and Friday are no good for him, and am I SERIOUS ABOUT SUNDAY?!?!?



". . . oh." The Super Bowl.

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

I start laughing, which is perhaps unwise. "I don't pay attention to football, you know that."

"Dave. It's the Bears. You live in Chicago."

Both good points. And of course I see the Bears stuff every day on the TV and the newspapers and the streets and OK everywhere. But it's part of a reality adjacent to my own.

Kiljoong tries to talk me into going to some Super Bowl party with him.

"I wasn't planning on watching it."

"Don't you watch the commercials?"

"Sometimes? I guess? If they put them online."

He sighs, and asks me if there's a showing before the game. I ask him what time the game starts. This sets off a whole new round of apoplexy. I can hear him shaking his head at my apathy.

"If there's a 12:00 show or something, I'll go. But you'll have to understand if I'm tense."

"Think of me as a calming influence, since I'm not worried about it."

"You're indifferent. It's not the same thing."

Suddenly it clicks. "Oh my god! That's why you've got a cold! You're so stressed about the game that you've made yourself sick!"

"Shut up."

"You're pathetic. God, what if it was the Cubs?!?"

"If it was the Cubs," he says patiently, "I wouldn't even be speaking to you."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What About the Voice of Geddy Lee?

Archaeology! Ancient City Found in Mexico! Village Discovered Near Stonehenge! Police to Reunite! (At the f*&%ing Grammys. Now I have to watch the Grammys. Someone kill me.)

Warren Ellis subjects us all to shares an excerpt from Jeff Lint Steve Aylett's surreal parody comic "The Caterer." SMOOTHING THE CHEEK OF REALITY HAS ITS DANGERS!

Hannah links to the poem "Library" by Arthur Goldbarth, which turns out to be awesome.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My Handwriting Has an Expiration Date

If anyone knows what the last word on the fourth line there is, let me know.

Monday's Child Is In Your Face

Note to the young man on the train: (Yes, I called you "young man." I'm thirty-six, but I have the crankiness of a much older gentleman.) Dude, if I can hear your iPod over the train as if I was wearing your headphones, it's too fucking loud. Or your hearing is shot. In either case, you need to get your head checked.

I had kind of a crappy weekend, but it's over. It's not like my life is falling apart or anything; overall things are really good. But I do get kind of lonely sometimes. That's all I got. Let's not make a big thing out of it.

Something cool: Ricky Gervais meets Garry Shandling. I love both these guys. Parts one, two, three, four, five and six. (Yeah, it's long.) The person who put these up on YouTube says Shandling creates some awkwardness, but all I see is Shandling being Shandling, which is awesome. Overall the interview has some unexpected depths, and makes me realize how much I miss Shandling. (I first fell hard for his comedy when he guest-hosted "The Tonight Show" and shot off this zinger during the monologue: "The Meese Commission"--ah, for the days when Ed Meese was in the public eye--"has determined that there are [four-digit number] pornographic publications in the United States. Which is frustrating for me, because I can't figure out which three I'm not getting.") Why the hell isn't more of his stuff out on DVD? "The Garry Shandling Show" was sort of cultish, so I can see it being a harder sell, but "The Larry Sanders Show" is a no-brainer. I see they're putting out some sort of a DVD set with highlight episodes, but why not the whole thing? That man's a genius.

I saw "The Departed" on Friday during the old people showing (3:30). A few people walked out, which I don't get. Was it the violence they were not expecting, or the swearing? Have they ever heard of Scorsese? It was unexpectedly funny in parts, and really very good. Unbelievable cast. I used to really despise DiCaprio, but that guy can act. I haven't quite placed it in the hierarchy of Scorsese films, but it's up there--very tense, with some great visual metaphors about voyeurism/observation. I have to admit that the last shot almost ruined it, though. I can only guess that it was meant as a humorous touch, but in the context of the last scene it was off-key.

Speaking of the cinema, I see that Strange Horizons has a review of "Children of Men" up this week, and as much as I think it might be good to review a film for them that I didn't love, I'm glad it wasn't this one. I dislike the movie even more in retrospect, which makes no sense. I know there were things I liked about it as I was watching it--it's nice to look at, and Clive Owen was good--but overall I thought it was clunky, manipulative, and heavy-handed. I know some of the reasons I feel that way, but I can't pinpoint the reason for my overall loathing for the film, especially since so many folks have loved it. It can't just be my Julianne Moore hate. Did anyone else not like the film? Maybe I am just that cranky.

I've belatedly begun doing some research on the French Revolution, since the WIP is supposed to be in part riffing off it and I don't in fact know hardly anything about it. I picked up The Days of the French Revolution by Christopher Hibbert and so far it's great; very readable and evocative, with the sorts of details that make me realize there are things I've been glossing over. I'm going to want to read more of Hibbert's books after this.

I think I need a nap.