Monday, October 22, 2007

Time For Bed

I know I'm so overtired that I'm squinting, but I just saw that 1) tomorrow's weather forecast is for 34 C and "smoke" and 2) the deputy mayor of Delhi was killed by being attacked by monkeys on his balcony. Que?

A Navel Gaze on Navel Gazing

I was talking to Katie the other night about a whole bunch of stuff and she brought up a forum she had watched or read on media heavies weighing in on the issue of blogs and their extreme dibilitating shock that anyone with a Dell on dial-up can hang a shingle on the "I've Got Something To Say" street of media-making. This is so stupid it barely merits discussion, but hey, I'm newly re-enamoured of posting again, so here goes.

Of course media heavies hate bloggers. They subscribe to the idea of their own journalism as high culture and have enduring faith in the passive voice and its invisible author. They believe in an objective, factual reality for god's sake. But who turns to a blog for late-breaking national news? That's not the point of blogs, the point is commentary. And first person perspective. And ideas and reflections that will not make it into the newspaper. I don't think I've ever seen a blog in which the writer tries to sit in for a newspaper or other media source. There are certainly many that discuss the same things that traditional media sources discuss, but more often they are reflecting facts and originating opinions and ideas. The blogs that do report are telling stories about tiny, weird, specialized news-- the microscopic interest nuggets that would never see play in a mainstream publication.

Blogs are about curating a series of ideas and observations for a community of whoever is willing to show up. Like Homi K. Baba, asshole theorist, I too write for an audience of about six people in the world. If a loyal CNN watcher doesn't want to read about my toenails or my ideas about what the people at the DMV who are making me take a road test can go do to themselves, they can move on. Or flag my blog for being inappropriate.

But if they like my collection, they can stay a while and browse.

I am still super excited about that.

Lunchtime Thought

A vinegar-rich greek salad may not be the smartest lunch option when you have a tiny cut in the corner of your mouth.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Funny Ha Ha

A little while ago Greg wrote a blog entry about how "women aren't funny." Apart from being absurdly reductionist, not to mention other things ending with "-ist", this assertion has caused the idea of what is funny and what isn't to bounce around in my head for the last week or so. I watched the end of "She's the Man" on TV again and laughed at Amanda Bynes (cf: debutante luncheon in which she eats a drumstick like a neandrathal and excuses herself by getting up and saying "Ladies." out the corner of her meat-filled mouth and stomping away). I re-read the 2nd Bridget Jones book (cf: describing a fussy toddler as "writhing like a deportee" and the scene where this kid sneezes snot all over himself and his sister reacts by vomiting on Bridget's head). These things were funny to the point of making me laugh loudly while alone, which is a pretty high level of funniness. (Also: it seems like I'm way into gross humor?) A lot of the stuff on icanhazcheezburger makes me laugh, especially this one.

But there's a lot of stuff out there manufactured to be funny that isn't. When discussing the humor issue, Greg asked me to name funny women that we knew and then we tried to name anyone funny that we knew. We couldn't really name anyone. I think this is for several reasons, the most significant being that real life is pretty different from entertainment. There are people I know who consider themselves funny, and they are sometimes, but they are also really annoying sometimes. For someone to be funny all the time, in real life, I think they'd have to be kind of an idiot and not really your friend. Who's consistently funny? The rotund, heavy-breathing accountant at the real estate company I used to work for, but not because he was meaning to be. Also: the drug-addled hippies I used to sell ferry boat tickets to who would get out of their VW buses without putting it in park first and be rummaging in the back while it was putt-putting away from the booth. But these people are funny because they are not real people to me, which is part of what makes things funny in an entertainment context. The famous Mel Brooks quote on tragedy vs. comedy is that when I walk down the street and fall into a manhole, it's tragedy, but when you do it, it's comedy.

Last night I saw a sketch comedy show, some of which wasn't very funny (perhaps partly,in a tragically ironic twist, because of the desperate strain on the part of some performers to be funny). The best part of one act's shtick was a Lewis and Clark skit in which the Clark guy eats a sandwich that was obviously pranked by his comedy partner and full of rocks or possibly cat litter. Sadly, he did not capitalize on this genuinely funny (and real) problem, not even with a throwaway line, but ditched the sandwich and moved on with the script. A comedy tragedy.

So people trying to be funny = not funny. People trying to be funny all the time = not funny. People falling into manholes = funny. More on this difficult equation later.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Things and Other Things

I've never used Coca Cola to clean my toilet, but I plan to at some point and when I do, I will report my findings on this blog. I like using things for purposes other than their original, or especially, marketed, intent. I like cleaning things with white vinegar. I worked with this woman once who had a story about using the toothpaste treatment on a zit while selling tickets for the boat at work and the zit having this insane reaction but it was a rush and she had to just keep selling cars with a burbling pustule on her face. Yeah, gross, but still: toothpaste on zits! When your nose is peeling, rip off the dead skin with scotch tape! Pennies in the bottom of the tulip vase! Clear nailpolish to halt runs in your nylons! The other day I gave myself a razor cut on my fingertip and when it kept opening and refused to heal shut, I fused it closed with clear nailpolish. Only because I didn't have any crazy glue. It worked, though. I won't deny that the most exciting aspect of Back To The Future to me is not time travel, or flying cars, or Bon Jovi walkman blasts, or Marty's suspenders, or even when Cripin Glover's hand clenches into a fist, it's a car that cuisinarts garbage into fuel! How totally subversive is that! I remember seeing the movie for the first time and the To Be Continued letters made me think about all the plotlines yet to come on garbage fuel. Sadly, that plot point never really paid off. Though, to be truthful, I think the floating skateboards distracted me from missing it too much.

The B is for Bullshit

Today I spent a fair amount of time at a BMW dealership and repair outfit in Santa Monica. I already had a strong suspicion that luxury cars are fucking bullshit and today was a strong vote of confidence in that resolution. I mean, if you are paying thousands and thousands of extra dollars for a fancy car, shouldn't the fancy-car makers strive to provide you with a fancy experience? I mean, obviously, instead of just purporting to provide you with a fancy experience. I don't need a flat screen and the most insane coffee machine in the world in the waiting room. I'd far rather have someone give me a straight answer and try and help me when I say things like, "I need to leave here with this car in the next ten minutes or I will lose my job." There's this cliche that people in the film business are flaky, but here's the thing: they get stuff done and they get it done quickly and correctly. Movie-making may not be the most honorable occupation in the world, but it beats overpriced incompetence and manufactured obselesence.

Smog Report

My internet connection is cranky like a wet cat and it's been refusing to load pages owned by Google. So I've been storing up posts in my cheeks, waiting for the day when the wireless fuckwittage would stop. And lo, dear readers, it was today.

The Friday before last I went to see Bill Callahan play at the Echoplex. The Echoplex is located underneath the Echo and is found by wandering around until a bunch of people halfway up an alley alert you to its location. This is the third time I've gone to see Bill by myself and it's become something of an aesthetic excursion. As I have found in myself a certain kind of glee in underdressing for social occasions, I have also located a satisfaction for going to shows by myself and observing people and talking to no one. Maybe this is not glee/satisfaction at the act itself, but rather my comfort in what used to stress me out when I was a self-conscious teenager. I can recall spending part of my lunch hour in the bathroom stall in middle school because I had no one to hang out with and was too embarrassed to be seen in the hall sitting by myself. Also, there's a certain kind of mystique that you manufacture when you do something socially antagonistic. In any case, it's interesting.

The show was good. Bill was dressed all gentlemanly, and his band was too. For some reason, he always shows up with the most lovable drummers--strange hippie men who look like they could be jovial galley slaves or chubby tantric sex instructors. The guy this year was pretty dear: womanly bum, drummed standing up, had all sorts of weird instruments that he would twist around and start fiddling with, and thanked us for our applause with a little namaste bow. Some idiotic girls in the audience talked during the set, which always makes me want to KILL people, but the serious nerds outnumbered the scenesters and other people told them to shut up so I didn't have to. When Bill played River Guard, as he always does, it because very quiet in the room and we all listened very closely like small children hearing a story they've heard a thousand times before. I liked the show very much, though it didn't move me as much as when he plays all by himself. The genius of Bill Callahan is particularly in the notes he doesn't play, or the spaces he leaves between the ones he does. It's a relevation each time, like that moment in university when my sexist and unbathed professor of philosophy pointed out that what makes a room a room is perhaps more the absence of material that allows for the space, rather than the material that confines it.

Whoa. Then we all smoked a dube in the blackberry bushes and played some frisbee.

In other news, tonight driving home it occurs to me that the opening of Rain On Lens 1 is kind of totally ripped off as score for Babel. Maybe Inarritu liked the film reference?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


This morning I'm wondering what the world would be like if we all married our first crushes at nineteen or whatever, like people did 60 years ago. Not that everyone did this, but I think a lot of people managed to, or at least managed to settle down when they were still in the wet-behind-the-ears stages of ecstatic, euphanistic, giddy love. The crushes I had in high school had an intensity that I don't think I could ever rival at this point in my life. Of course, high school crushes, at least for me, were based upon never talking to the object of the crush, but only sighting them from afar on Thursday morning when they got off the bus near where I walked to get to school and if I timed it perfectly, then I could maybe get one fire-tinged instant of eye contact--enough of a interaction to live on for the rest of the week.

Hardly the fodder of a solid and happy marriage, but still-- if your early feeling for the person were bound up in all those hot-blooded, magical feelings, maybe you could go back to that spot later in life, or at least raise a glass to it now and again.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Measure Twice, Cut Once

I've been on a cooking and baking kick ever since we had A Little Fall Weather (which is as atmospheric, if not more, to me as A Little Night Music). I figure I ought to capitalize on this hankering and make a bunch of stuff when I'm in the mood for it because it's not every night I'm willing to pre-grill the tofu so it stays firm and slightly crispy in the curry. Last night I made cookies and the kind of butter I get, that is from Ireland and has a cute little clover on it, has weight markings, but not volume markings on the label. How much trouble would it be for them to print up those little markings on the wrapper that say half cup, quarter cup, all that? Instead, this kind of butter has tablespoon markings. (You can tell by the way I'm carping about this that the lack of cup markings steered me wrong, poor workmen blaming their tools, etc) And lo, the lack of cup markings on the label steered me wrong and I screwed up the math and ended up putting twice as much butter as needed in the cookies. Twice as much. More butter than flour.

I didn't realize that I had done this until I took them out of the oven and they had fused into one giant monster cookie and were dripping of the sheet and burning on the bottom of the oven. I let their soupy mass cool and then spent a long time prying the crumbling remains from the sheet.

They are very tasty, though. Following the rule that "fat makes things taste better". It does, o it does.