The Canadian Club











{June 14, 2010}   Whatever

Math is hard.

I am back.

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I was in India!

With a long stretch of stressful physiognomy research and my subsequent travels to one of the oldest and most hallowed civilizations, I had neglected the pleasures of professional football (where people don’t do crazy stunts with unloaded firearms in team locker rooms) for what must be over a month.  Yikes!  So, it was good today to squeeze in at least one game before my girlfriend, who is Indian, returns tomorrow.

Watching the Saints demolish Jesus-freak sore-loser Kurt Warner, I was at first alarmed.  Something had happened to the NFL.  Why were they talking about the earthquake in Haiti?  What’s up with that?  Not only did they offer advice on donating to rescue efforts, but they even interviewed a Haitian player on the Saints sidelines, asking him about his family.  Lost in all this, was the real message of football: support for our troops!  Seriously, this is the first time I’ve seen football announcers shirk their responsibility to remind us that the real reason we watch football is to remind ourselves of the freedoms being protected by our amazing young men (and some chicks) on Iraqi and Afghan soil.

Oh, and the other reason we watch football is to be reminded of how tough it is to be a white man in a world full of chicks who get on our case and people of color who are just weird.  Although this sometimes plays itself out on the field, most of this message is conveyed through advertising.  For example, it had been over a month since I saw this awesome ad about how much it would be awesome if women were potato-heads, so you could just dismember their faces and make them finally shut up.

I think only today, after a long time away from the U.S. boob tube, did I actually figure out that this is selling tires and not the trailer for the next Almodovar film.

It is always comforting to turn off the TV at the end of a football game secure with the knowledge that chicks are stupid and annoying. But football also goes hand-in-hand with race-anxiety, even where this concerns model minorities, such as your usually technically adept, funny-talking South Asians.  This superbowl ad from 2008 is the perfect demonstration:

Usually, you have to wait for the Simpsons later to a couple of hours later to find Indians this hilarious!

Of course, Ramesh, satisfyingly, is still working to meet the exacting expectations of a comfortably white middle manager.  But look what happens when you let these guys run the show.

OMFG!  Any frakin’ day and Indians are still adorably hilarious — but kind of dumb, too.  I mean, don’t they realize that they can’t dance?  Clearly, not amongst the more graceful, football-lovin’ people of this nation.  Thanks, Metro PCS!  It’s good to know that — since blacks always play the race card and never get the joke — we can still get good, innocent chuckles from Indians!

Speaking of which, I would just like to point out, now that I’ve been to India — so you can’t accuse me of making this a race thing, Dave — that more Indians look like Naveen Andrews than do Iraqis.  Yet television keeps on trying to cast Indians as some kind of undefined Middle Easterners!  I mean, are actual Arabs/Persians just not swarthy enough to represent shiftiness and inscrutability?  Or do they only want to cast Arabs in unambiguous terrorist roles, reserving good guy Middle Eastern roles for good guy, non-Muslim Indians?  What’s up with that?

Meanwhile, there are actually Indians who can pass for Iraqi:  those hunky, brooding Muslim Bollywood superstars of whom I’ve now grown quite fond!  Did you know that so many Indians now want to look Iraqi, that it is actually perceived as a precondition to being cast?  See for yourself:

Thankfully, those of us who watch football can just grab a beer, relax, and thank G_d for other people’s insecurities.

By the way, did I mention I was in India for the past two weeks?



{January 17, 2010}   Delhi-cious

Some tomb somewhere in Delhi

You were right, Dave.  This India country is pretty good.  Who knew you’re supposed to find the girl before obsessing about the country?  I suppose the last twenty years of my life would have unfolded quite differently if someone had told me then.  Not that I’m complaining about how things have worked out…

So my prolonged spell of romancing under the radar may have spared your highly functioning gag reflex for the past couple of weeks — though I do feel somewhat remiss about not providing a running commentary — but believe me, I sure tested mine.  Let me just say, I don’t plan on eating paan again anytime in this life.  Just remembering the texture as my teeth pierced through an assemblage of unknown ingredients, some of which were sweet and gooey and others savory and crunchy, all bundled in the tough betel leaf, sends shivers of disgust through my body.  Maybe had I, like you, known about something else for which India is famous, I might not have been so eager to seize the opportunity to try this common, local treat.  And the worst part is, I could tell, watching the man dip his fingers into various bags of unspecified spices and swab the leaf with unspecified salmon and maroon colored jellies that this spelled certain doom — that first big test of constitution when one travels abroad.

As it was, I was laid out for two days with severe chills and mild nausea.  Sure, that was bad, but at least it afforded me the opportunity to engage in two of my favorite activities:  puking and watching crap television.

Despite puking my guts out, I still managed to put on about 20 pounds.  Perhaps it’s because most of the Punjabi-style food served in Delhi is dripping with either butter or ghee.  Or perhaps it’s due to the sheer excellence of Bengali home-cooking. Just to offer you a glimpse into my heaven:  amazing aloo ghobi, saag with fenugrek and potatoes, mutton curry, deep fried eggplant, fried bitter melon, and, of course, fish in mustard curry.

The essential Bengali ingredient

Of course, the highlight of Bengali dining is not only the flavors — and it’s amazing what one can do with just turmeric — but also using one’s fingers.  I may not have learned how to cook during my stay, but, importantly, I retained how to say, “It’s good” in Bangla and managed to eat dal, rice, fish, and most everything else with my fingers.  It’s a very simple process of mashing things together — this is especially fun when there is potato — using three fingers as a scoop, and then one’s thumb serves to push the mashed food from scoop to mouth.  The rewards for this are yellow fingernails and a totally unselfconscious eating experience.  You will be surprised to know that I didn’t even need a finger bowl of lemon water, although these were offered at restaurants after the meal.  However, the feeling of being messy may have been a factor in how quickly I would eat everything.  While one can give up the idea of wiping one’s hands for a full meal, the salutary napkin and thorough handwashing at the end are always something to look forward to for this guy.



Well, Dave, the 7th Chokra of Ganeesha has been eclipsed by the night lotus for the past 5 flights of the bulbuli.  Or, for those of you who don’t speak Hindu, the network here has been down for the past five days.

Nevertheless, I wanted to make a brief surfacing to show how deeply I have penetrated the quotidian of this seemingly complex and layered culture by sharing this beautiful masterpiece of Indian art.

Indeed, here — as in all cultural manifestations of the aughts — it’s all about the geek getting the hot girl.

Now, off to the Taj Mahal!



{January 1, 2010}   Plus ça change…

Luann

Well, Dave, here it is, the big 2010 — and I’m still working hard testing everyone’s gag reflex.  Let’s just say, I’ve soooooo been there!

Right now, ‘there’ is Dubai, where I’m chillin’ at the airport.  Man, this airport — free Internet and all — is a fancy gem, worth the trip all in itself.  It would be better without the fleck of spittle that just hit my eye from the hacking fellow traveler lounging next to me.  Dude, does he not see all the signs about A(H1N1) at the transfer points?  Next time, I’m coming here before X-mas, since it is the ideal place to shop for gifts… But, I have to say, I’m a bit

Anyway, so they’re saying it’s a new decade — which brings me to my thoughts about the aughts… So, Dave, if you were going to make a list of the top 100 things from the past decade, what would you put on it?  Isn’t making lists what blogs are for?

I was going to put the great accomplishment of grafting an ear onto a mouse… but then I discovered that that happened in the 90s.  So, isn’t there anything we can feel good about from the past ten years?

Well, since we’re — and by we, I mean me — in Dubai today, let me offer up the Palm Islands as one of the things we — and by we, I mean people — can be proud of from the 00s!



Well, Dave, someone heard my earlier plea about obtaining a free ticket to the Deli.  I mean, except for the free part.  And so it is that I am headed off to Hindustan today to see my Hindustani girlfriend!

But, I wouldn’t leave without throwing some questions your way, Dave… And so here are some things I was thinking about:

So, sifting through this compilation, I noticed this press release for something that calls itself  “Bezi Bra Discs,” basically subtle pasties.  This apparently resolves an age-old predicament

“With so many air-conditioned rooms, women wearing sleek bridal wear are seeing more than just wedding cake. They are seeing they outline of their nipples through their dresses,” says Anne Zuckerman, owner of Edith’s Inc. “This is not they way most brides — and their bridal party — want to stand out on such an important day as a wedding.”

Now, I have to admit to finding it a really bad sign that our contemporaries are horrified of this.  And yet, don’t you have some old acquaintance that “invented” and sold the same thing?  What were they called? Who has a patent on this?  And how could several people have the same bad idea at once? In essence, this invokes the Almodovar paradox, where what is presented as particularly sensitive to women, strikes me, rather, as sneering misogyny.

And, to answer your question, Dave, yes, I have seen three Almodovar films.  They basically have a drag queen‘s portrayal of the feminine mystique.  Perhaps it is in those grand gesticulations of mocking hyperbole that modern criticism reads feminism.  Or maybe I have it all wrong, and there is some confusion and distinction that I’m not making between movies that are feminist by nature, and those that are sensitive portrayals of women.

Moving along, I’m very curious about this thing called Momofuku.  Why is it extremely popular as a subject of Facebook status updates?  What is it?  Is its appeal related in some way to the popularity of those French Connection UK T-shirts?  Help me out here, Dave.

Finally, you have a kid, right?  Well, can you ask him what the deal is with all these poopyheads?

Well, that’s about enough out of me.  I best be shining my shoes and sliding my passport in its protective sleeve.  See ya on the other side of 2009!



{December 31, 2009}   Taint the Season…

So*, I broke from tradition this year and switched up the Chinese food for some righteous vindaloo.  Hell, I didn’t even get to the movies!  But you know who didn’t flip the script?  The frakkin’ NBA.  After spending all of the 08-09 campaign carrying water for big shoe and slowly setting in motion the hidden gears that would pit “Bruised ribs” against “Crybaby” in a Finals match-up of the most unbearable, self-serious ballers in the L, David Stern is at it again.  Rather than scheduling a X-mas day rematch of the previous Finals, the NBA chose again to inflict its aspired championship match-up on the viewing public — a significant portion of whom would much rather have seen Kevin Durant lead Oklahoma City against the High-flyin’ Hotlanta Hawks.  That would have been an East-West meeting of worthy rivals, with a little bit of brio…

What did I get instead, Dave?  A crap game between a bunch of whiners, all of which was a pretext to sell shoes via the most atrocious ad campaign in the history of footwear!!!!!!!! Yes, that’s right.  Nike brought back the frakkin’ MVPuppets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So a contrived rivalry among the most self-congratulatory, self-serious athletes in the NBA begets the criminal perpetuation of the most self-serious, self-congratulatory and, overall, presumptuous commercials in the history of sports.

Now, I have a few things to say about this…

  1. Beware all ad campaigns that propose a television pilot as a sales pitch… This is a corollary to the Murphy Brown phenomenon of self-congratulatory television programming, which holds that once a series substitutes zeitgeist for character, it becomes unbearably pompous and unfunny — this is especially true for those series where the zeitgeist participates in my mother’s weltanschauung, for some reason… Obviously, these two categories can actually overlap.
  2. The idea that we should welcome back the MVPuppets  makes me want to puke.
  3. The MVPuppets don’t actually look anything like Kobe and Lebron.
  4. Most upsetting, the MVPuppets ads are blatantly trying to rip-off and thus, thrive on the magic of the greatest sports-related ad campaign EVER:

Neither of these guys will ever exude wit and charm like Lil’ Penny. And, of course, I hate being told which playas I’m supposed to like.  Go ahead.  Call me a playahata!

The other thing that happens when one watches sports is this immersion into the bizarre world of advertising aimed towards an exclusively male demographic.  It is sobering to have all my insecurities revealed to me in a way that usually only happens while watching Mad Men.

My specific takeaway from my X-mas day experience, however, was the realization that, while I may be capable of obsessive love for movie trailers — television series trailers have got to be the most depressing and nauseating form of advertisement.  Not only am I incapable of watching sitcoms — I think since they canceled Perfect Strangers — but I find it truly depressing the insistence on how much we’re supposed to love the characters in television shows.  I think television series trailers, ads — what have you — are kind of like dog owners who insist on you loving their dogs, even though you’ve never felt a sympathetic glint of appreciation for any canine in your entire life.  It’s just this absence of understanding that sometimes, what you have doesn’t have to be lovable.  In any case, I was wondering if Pajamas was going to watch this:

I thought the part about: “Cliff, they’re worthy clients! And I’m head litigation partner, so no matter what you say, I’m taking the damn case!” would really resonate.

So, it’s been almost seven months since I’ve had the Lifetime network… I think I feel the loss most acutely during the holidays…

*This post was initially prepared for publication on December 26.


{December 24, 2009}   Schadenfreude goes to the movies

Dave, nothing could please me more right now — except maybe a free, round-trip ticket to the Deli — than this movie Nine being greeted like the piece of crap it is.  I mean, seriously, we’re almost out of the aughts, and we still have to put up with Latin-lover-mythologizing, misogyny-as-art bullshit being marketed to us as if we have the brains of big dumb people.

I mean, I thought only the French (and Almodovar… oh, and Bertolucci) were allowed to put out movies in which women stripping down passes for a thinking person’s entertainment… How could somebody see this movie idea and give it the greenlight??!!!??

Oh, and as you’ll notice, all the usual culprits are involved, Penelope “People get off knowing that I’m dumb as a brick and every character I play is dumb as a brick — but with an accent which makes it alright” Cruz; Nicole “I was in that Kubrick movie in which I emoted way too much” Kidman’; and, worst of all, Anthony “Can you make your characters die already — oh, and Juliet Binoche sucks, as does Kristin Scott Thomas” Minghella.

Now, I know, Dave, you have a personal axe to grind with Audrey Tautou (as do I, btw)… but she should at least be temporarily exonerated for not having anything to do with this flick.

Obviously, I exempt Marion Cotillard and Fergie from my opprobrium. The former due to her being awesome, the latter, because she taught me how to spell.

But back to why Nine is so appalling.  I think it may have something to do with Any Vow-bag European nostalgia.  Whaddya think Russ, will there be a time in the near future when our culture moves past our massive Jones for European accents, Robert Brassai and 1960s infantilism? In any case, I think this about sums it up:

Stacy Ferguson, known to pop-music fans as Fergie, is Saraghina, the village prostitute who provides the boy Guido with a glimpse of forbidden pleasures. Nice for him. The rest of us watch Ms. Ferguson stomp and gyrate through a number called “Be Italian,” which, like so much else in “Nine,” resembles a spread in a Victoria’s Secret catalog, only less tasteful. Ms. Hudson, for her part, struts through an embarrassing hymn to “Cinema Italiano” — with inane lyrics about “hip coffee bars” and Guido’s “neo-realism” — that recalls not Visconti or Antonioni (or even the Italian sex farces of the 1970s) but rather those lubricious Berlusconi-esque variety shows that baffle and titillate visitors from other countries who turn on their hotel-room television sets.

Right on!

On another, related note:  Do you remember when we went to see Natural Born Killers, Dave?  Do you remember that I hated it and thought it was stupid?  I like to think I have had some measure of vindication in the past few days.



{December 23, 2009}   Resentful… Put down… but Back!

OK, they don’t make this physiognomy thing for lightweights!

As you know, Dave, this past month and a half, I have been trying to muddle through some problems of an intellectual, smarty-pants nature.  Somehow, that had nothing to do with this blog.  And let me tell you somethin’… Over that kind of time, a guy can build up a lot of hatred and simmering resentment.

Well world, this is to tell y’all that I’m about to bust loose with some major hate bombs — oh yeah, and maybe some kudos, too.



{December 17, 2009}   Jed Bartlett FTW!!!!!!

Minimum Security
Dave, if you’re like me, you’re absolutely sick and tired of this HRC process.  Like WHEN THE HELL is it ever gonna end?  And, what’s up with Nate Silver?

By the way, I don’t think a bill with a public option would constitute fundamental reform either — it would be better, but it’s still tinkering around the edges of a flawed system.

I can’t believe that punk.  He should go back to collecting baseball cards. I mean, seriously, Nate Silver?!?!  Nate Silver can go Serve The Fiery Undertaker!!!!!!!!!! This massive give-away to his pals in Big Pharma and our Feudal Overlords Aetna and Cigna is going to be wrapped around Obama’s neck in 2012!!!!! I hope he’s already making his early retirement plans with Joe Liebensraum and Rahm The-Man-Who-Drools. I am sick — sick — of getting sold-out by…  centrist fat cats!!!!!!!!!! JED BARTLETT was the BEST PRESIDENT EVER!!!!! If he were still president, he would have known how to twist Olympia Snowe’s and Ben Nelson’s arms to get them to sign in blood for a frickin’ PUBLIC OPTION.



On a Claire Day

On a Claire Day has, over the past couple of weeks*, been sticking its nose into nobody’s business.  Claire’s boyfriend, Paul, has been exploring Facebook and finds it wanting.

Now, some comic strips bring the awesome sauce, while others are just plain scolds, shoring up society’s rear guard and staking out a plea for a return to decency. I say “decency” as opposed to traditional values, as the funnies tend to position themselves at the sitcom Left of the values vote, at a place where Life goes on, and Family matters.

Now it should be obvious to anybody reading this strip that co-creators Carla Ventresca and Henry Beckett must not have Facebook accounts (Carla, do you also go by “Carly“?) — either that, or they are being purposefully misleading.  Dave, we have seen some boring and lame status updates, but, really, Paul?  That’s what you imagine being a parody of Facebook posts?  Gee, you really are quite a boring twit.  I mean, talk about cutting close to the bone — you didn’t even get the gristle.  It’s like Dave and I are already sucking marrow and you’re still peeling artichokes.

And, then, of course, there’s the cryptic message from JER98… Excuse me, wouldn’t the proper FB argot go something like Jeremy Greenfarb commented on your status?  No, really, do you even do the basic leg work before you blab off about Facebook being an inane wast of time.  On a Claire Day, what is a waste of time is the 80 seconds I spend everyday reading your badly drawn strip on My Comics Comics.com merely in order to simulate the experience of poring over a print comics page… So, what can I say except that I hope Claire dumps Paul’s boring ass and then gets gobbled up by Cathy in some bizarre funnies accident:  “I eat insecure comic strip women when my mother-in-law visits for Thanksgiving…” Ha ha ha!

In any case, Dave, I think this meets up with your previous query about the kind of thing Facebook is, and what our critical positioning in the blogosphere represents in the broader world of online networking.  One of the most prevalent misconceptions about social networking is that it is a playground for narcissists.

For a time, I thought that FB could be said to have the collegial forum quality of a water cooler: a place to regale people you vaguely like with your love for television and the Wizards, your irritation at gay marriage repeal initiatives and whether or not you scored over the weekend.

However, I believe that you have truly seized upon the right metaphor for this new space which we and our peers are carving out with the help of annoying app generators.  It is indeed a school cafeteria — although more of a high school — rather than a middle school as you have suggested — lunchroom.  It is the supreme terrain of face-presenting, the apprehensive fashioning of an adult persona, and that nagging interior voice begging all saints that your best friend from 5th grade who has become a pimpled reprobate hesher doesn’t think he can sit at your table.  Yeah — eww!  Of course, there’s also the blabbing about food, gym class and, naturally, gross PDA.

And, where do we fit into all of this?  Well, I think that, unlike the armchair anthropology of On a Claire Day (talk about wearing the “stupid people” T-shirt) we are actually assuming a sound critical stance as participant observers in our research terrain.  That, I believe contributes mightily to the utmost radness of our blog here.  And, yet, at the same time, are we not also anthropologists much as the effete high school boys just turned 18, going to the strip club — you know, for anthropological purposes?  Yeah, just to see what it’s like… We may scoff at the dirty girls and the sad old men, but, when we get home at 2 AM (‘rents are out of town, see) and pop open the Bartles & James, we have to admit that we were just a little turned on by the whole thing…

*This post was initially intended for publication on Thursday, November 12



{November 10, 2009}   Modern Love

Andy Capp

I don’t know about you, but I think Andy Capp herein provides conclusive evidence that technology is ruining modern love.  Indeed how can you not hate your wife, if you can’t escape her for a few moments at the local pub?

Well, Dave, I’ve gotta hand it to ya:  Your last post provides much food for thought.

To coin a rhetorical flourish to which I was first introduced at our old intellectual stomping grounds, since MY GIRLFRIEND and I both approach physiognomy through a Language and Literacy frame of reference, we spend most of our time thinking about the authenticity of technology-mediated languages and their potential contribution to developing literacy and L2 proficiency.

weird_science

Russ's first girlfriend... finally.

As a result, we pretty obsessively experiment with Facebook and texting as forms of flirtation and PDA.  So far, these experiments have yielded a fairly significant amount of second-hand barf and neglect for basic responsibilities: in other words, quite an old-fashioned courtship that may not have been possible without written and multimedia supports.  So, yes, I agree with you, Dave, and further feel the need to mention that David Brooks gets much more credit for being interesting than he merits.

I don’t think we can leave this issue there, however, and I would further like to use this occasion of my shamefaced and overdue return to the blog, to raise the question of Facebook PDA.  I know you have an interesting theory on this somehow being — at least, in established couples — in inverse relationship to connubial bliss.  But, more generally, when, if ever, is Facebook PDA acceptable?  And what limits would you set on such a new practice?  We need your advice on this, Dave.

NDLR:  I have no idea what’s going on in this video, but, I frackin’ love this joint.



{November 3, 2009}   Even Bob Hope had off days

bob_n_bing

Remember when there was that guy Russ who used to contribute to this blog?  Wonder what happened to him…

I hear he’s hiding his head in shame over something — maybe a little hypocritical — he said about Halloween and parties.  Boy, Russ’s Mom really gave him what for!  There certainly was a creative set of costumes and very little flesh.  Perhaps staying sober during such an event ensures that one’s memories are more positive.  I guess the lesson I learned was quite opposite from that set forth in Frazz, below:

Frazz

Now, to address your concern about The Prisoner remake, I think we can only conclude that all remakes of mod British classic television is destined for failure, essentially because Hollywood has a particular knack for screwing up both camp and offbeat adventure.  This reminds me of a lecture I attended recently that veered quite unexpectedly into a tragi-comic over-analysis of Little Miss Sunshine. (More on that later)

However, another reason why The Prisoner thingy will fail is, as you have noted, Jim Cazazwhatever.  This guy has a serious Billy Crudup problem.  Not to say that Billy Crudup does not really have a Billy Crudup problem of his own.  Here’s a guy who totally crudded up the early prognostics of a ‘serious acting’ career!  Still, the unique position of Jim Xaxasville is that nobody wants to watch him in bad movies when they could watch Billy Crudup in bad movies instead.

All that to say, however, that someone told me I have to prepare for class in a few minutes, which will be relatively more arduous than remembering that I used to participate in a vibrant and clever blog.  Yet, I have a feeling that Bob will be hitting the road with Bing again, and quite soon!

 



{October 31, 2009}   I’m too sexy for this holiday

sexy_pirate_hat

You know, Dave, I’m glad you asked.  In fact, I have been brimming with impotent rage — to quote a coinage — since about a week or two ago, when I realized that there would be this holiday at the end of the month.  Fortunately, I have found some succor in this brilliant series of articles in my old, beloved and much missed Washington City Paper.  It sort of gets straight to the heart of the matter. And I have been meaning to treat at length my displeasure here on our blog, and yet kept running up against the wall of other people‘s expectations.  As if!  Can’t I just keep the stipend and you wake me up in six years and tell me if I’ve won anything?

In any case, I think the worst of it came it last Sunday when I read this Op-Ed piece in the Times.  At first, I was surprised to see Peter Mayle alive.  I guess it must be that wonderful French red wine, fermented on the time-worn clichés of French villagers and their shocked bewilderment at AngloSaxon customs.  I would have to guess that the startling success of his Year in Provence series has likely shaped an entire generation or two of gatekeepers.  But honestly, did we need one more frackin’ article about how Halloween is catching on in continental Europe?  Can we stop congratulating ourselves on the continuing victories of the British Empire?  Does the New York Times have to open its pages to every writer coming out with a book? (Fortunately, the answer to that, is no, it doesn’t.)

OK.  The coffee only begins to kick in around mid-way through my second rant.  I’ll try to focus, forthwith.

In answer to your question, it should be pretty clear that any adult celebration of Halloween is taking the joke too far.  The only time it isn’t is when the adults in question invite me to their party.  Then, they are granted a momentary reprieve.  But the first time someone walks in the door wearing lingerie as a costume, count me out.

The Meaning of Lila

You grew up in the Valley, so you might have had an entirely different experience — but I don’t recall the fact of life whereby being an adult meant making up occasions to strip down to one’s underwear until our college years.  In addition to the misnomered Pimps and Hos parties (I hear they were giving that shit-my-pants away!) and the uniquely well thought-out stagings of poorly thought-out plays, there were the Halloween parties that became increasingly indistinguishable from the aforementioned Pimps and Hos parties.  Given this context, then, it is difficult for me to tell whether Halloween began to take on its current lupanaresque dimension in the early 90s, or whether my parents had just shielded me from it during my delicate childhood and adolescent years.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Speaking of these latter, I think it should be noted that perhaps my current distaste for the holiday also stems from the extent to which I thought it was rad during a couple of years of high school.  Believe me, had you been there, you would also want to distance yourself from that phase of life.  Now, however, listening over and over to Samhain (with a little Coven thrown in — remember how you hated that album?) via the Youtube for about the last twelve hours, I am beginning to feel quite tenderly toward that period of credence in the coolness of wearing black leather, kohl eyeliner, and chicken blood.  Perhaps, also, the inability to take that aesthetic fully seriously combined with the distaste it elicited in me for skimpy, bunny-eared costumes, protected me throughout college from succumbing to any unfortunate entanglements with the ladies.

Now, I envy your being able to approach this holiday from a parent’s perspective, as it seems that the holiday shoud cater to the 4 to 13-year-old crowd almost exclusively.  After that, really, what else is it but glorified paganism?  Still, you are faced with this problem, expressed so succinctly over the past week by Luann, of what to hand out to trick-or-treaters in this era of health-counscious paranoia.

Luann

Can candy still be a viable way to treat kids?  I have to ask that question or else I’ll end up wearing down my enamel by crunching tubes of Spree.  So, what’ll it be, Dave?  Are you handing out old children’s books?

Now, as you have noted, given that I have actually been invited someplace for the first time in about seven years, I am obliged to do some costume thing.  Unfortunately, when I moved, I left behind the disparate elements of the home-made glam rocker costume that won me 25 bucks when I was waiting tables.  And I still hold as a firm principle that never should one be forced to shell out more than ten bucks for a costume.  Which leaves me with few options at this late date.  I have alternatively passed through my mind taping balloons and fake vomit in strategic places and going as “sexy balloon boy”; also just getting blue greasepaint (We all know how much I love face-painting!) and going as Grouchy Smurf — but then I worry that I might be confused with Vishnu, which would be blasphemous.  So, digging through my possessions that could turn an OK costume, I have found a green salwar kameez and a pasthun hat.  Understanding fully that this is not a costume, I thought of taking along the acoustic guitar that SMP recuperated from my childhood home and calling myself Cat Stevens/Yusuf.  So:  Thumbs Up?  Thumbs Down?  Whaddya say?

My only other thought, in keeping with the true spirit of the holiday goes something like this:



{October 29, 2009}   On Clarity of Purpose

Big Nate

The small but important lesson Nate teaches us in this comic strip is that, to get anything in this life, you need to figure out which wizard you are. Well, Dave, which wizard are we?

A lot has been said recently about the distinct possibility that people hate this blog, that, perhaps, we may be taking this joke too far, and that our audience is quite solidly 70% Dave and Russ.  I believe it’s important, then, to briefly discuss our goals in beginning this blog:

  1. It is our solemn intent to get a book contract for an elaborated version of the content of this blog by December 2010.
  2. The movie deal should follow shortly and The Canadian Club:  The Movie should appear on screens for the summer blockbuster season of 2013.

I don’t think this could be any clearer.  And remember, reader, if you do not read this blog, you are letting Tucker Max win.

Now, it has come to my attention that most book-deal-achieving blogs have one commonality: A Gimmick.  Tucker Max has a penis.  Cake Wrecks talks pretty consistently about cakes that are wrecked. Stuff White People Like talks pretty consistently about that stuff that white people apparently like. Some chick cooks a lot — like once a day.  Another chick asks people to send her lists that you have made.

Now, you’re saying to yourself, “That’s a nice exposition, Russ, but where’s your gimmick?”  What’s the single-minded theme behind this blog that will keep me riveted to your pixels?”

So, I’ve been scratching my brain, trying to figure out what will push us over the cusp of fame and fortune (if cusp fame and fortune do have), and I’ve come up with the following idea.  Bear with me:

So, two pals, Dave and Russ, feeling stuck in boring careers about which they are quite passionate, watch Mad Men.  Suddenly, they realize that the Mad Men season is over, and they wonder what will fill their lives with drama and exquisite aesthetics until Mad Men Season 4.  Russ stumbles upon his old, timeworn copy of Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme.  Hmm — he says to himself — does anybody really take the time to read Stendhal anymore?  He then sends Dave a message over Facebook saying, basically, “Hmm, does anybody really take the time to read Stendhal anymore?” Dave replies back, “You know, I think I’ve told you this before, but I really barely ever read anymore except the same battered, dusty classics I read growing up.  So, yeah, actually, I just cracked open The Red and the Black the other day.”

All of a sudden, it comes to them.  They have to take a year just reading the complete works of Stendhal (including his history of Italian painting) and describe the specific Stendhalien emotions that beset them each day.  A couple of months into their experiment, their feeling of empowerment becomes so magical, that Stendhal’s ghost appears to Russ.  “Russ,” Stendhal says, “You have to help me find the reincarnated soul of my very last romance…”  Thus begins an exciting adventure across France and Italie, where Dave and Russ accompany the ghost of Marie-Henri Beyle on a journey that reveals to them life’s mysteries and helps a dead French author find love and fame one last, bittersweet time.

So, tell us, reader, is that what you want to read on this blog? Is that the kind of wizardry it’ll take to get you to pay attention to us?



{October 26, 2009}   You’re no Einstein, Baby!

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In regards to your earlier post about the diminishing returns on your cultural IQ, I think reader pjs (Pyjamas?) made an important point:

What is stupid is thinking that liking movies is a worthwhile way to be smart.

I believe that this gets to the root of the rot that is eating away at our meritocracy.  We have this belief that watching things makes one smarter.  However, as recently attested to in this important piece in the Times covering refunds offered by Disney for its Baby Einstein videos, this is not ever so:

“We see it as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds,” said Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

You know what they say:  What doesn’t work at ten months, doesn’t work any better at thirty years!  I think this is a massive concession that media consumption is a poor substitute for actual smarts.  Lucky for us, actual smarts is measured by attending an awesome undergraduate institution of higher education — whether small liberal arts college or Ivy League.

This criteria is really what counts as far as whether your bound copy of other people’s To Do Lists gets published or thrown in the trash.  This is what counts when editors go looking for strippers — er, burlesque dancers — to write memoirs about the seedy underbelly of something or other.  It lets you wear hats that would otherwise be offensively garish, and, most importantly, it really pushes you over that tenuous line between saying something stupid and saying something ironic.

The great thing about the undergraduate degree is that, once procured, it can never be taken away.  Thus, no matter how few movies or — yes, pjs — Eagles games you watch, you are always entitled to be heard out and respected.  If not, what would be the point of us blogging?  So, no Dave.  Your smart card will never be revoked.  Not now, not ever.  So cancel the Netflix account and get to work on those sweaters!

[NDLR:  In the interest of other pressing obligations, many hyperlinks have been temporarily left out, feel free to imagine them.]



Just something on my mind…



Luann

Check out Luann and Tiffany.  Does Luann have a hate crush on Tiffany?  Probably. Does Luann hate herself? Go figure. Is this hilarious? Yes.

Are hate crushes for reals? Whatever!

Whoever is selling the hate crush meme should go stick her head out the nearest window and vomit. That’s what she makes me want to do.  But I didn’t make it that far…  Blech.

Oops!

Oops!

Not for the first time and definitely not for the last, I’m totally with you on this one, Dave.  Do these people have any clue what they’re talking about?  The hate crush marketeers have the emotional finesse of “I love my fiancee, but I’m not in love with him.”  To quote again what you brought up:

If a crush is about seeing the best version of yourself as you envision it, a “hate crush” is about the worst.

Two things.  One, I have not heard that BS about you hate in others what you don’t like about yourself since — like — fourth frickin’ grade!  Two, must we explain everything through the prism of narcissism?  I think we’ve spoken before about the odd and subtle generational disconnect between us and the Jezebel crowd, namely manifested in matters of sentiment — where there is, on the part of a latter, a certain tendency to take themselves waaaaaay too seriously and to, in general, dismiss nuance and casuistic. Is it because they have been brought up on wonky non-fiction and the Internet?  I won’t speculate.  All I can say is — again — if these chicks read anything like Stendhal we would not be having this conversation. I mean, not only did they get the hate part wrong — put they even fracked up the much more traditional concept of the crush.

Yeah, I give up, folks:  I really hate the fact that I’m a wannabe fetish model.  I’m extremely insecure about how I look in leather.  I fear, at times, that my love of hip radical European Marxists militias who kill people combined with my healthy, thoughtful skepticism of affirmative action, may not necessarily express a coherent weltanschauung.  You’re right. It’s all about me.

Look at Luann.  Yeah.  Up there.  At the top of this post.  Does she hate Tiffany because she hates the superficial broad in herself?  No, she hates Tiffany, because she’s a stuck-up, preening, lousy lady who is acting all possessive of the Australian exchange student and — worse than that, she looks enough like Luann, that this latter worries that people will associate blond cartoon characters with a fracked up sense of community service.  Her position, then, is two-fold:  1) It is a proud, confident disassociation with the superficial similarities shared with Tiffany, while at the same time 2) a strict sense of moral censure best expressed with the word “scoff.”

Like, a lot of the people I hate are people who resemble me — say, picture a slightly shorter Peter O’Toole (when young, of course) with a nose for fresh bread and fine truffles and a certain ability to speak French and other languages, not least while talking about the weather in fine metaphoric terms that beget dreamy expressions in the eyes of the ladies.  Well, so, you take that kind of person: Lovable, right?  But then, say he learned his French in Quebec, drinks fine wine instead of manhattans, thinks Arcade Fire rocks, and thinks that Obama compromised liberal ideals when he let Van Jones go.  And throw in a few carrots and chicks in the mix.  This, my friends, is the perfect recipe for a hate crush:  Again, not the incarnation of your worst faults but, rather, everything ersatz and pretentious that one fears could potentially be associated to your charming person and everything morally wrong that occurs in your vicinity.

Now it would be nice to pathologize and to remedy our capacity for moral censure.  But then who would be there to do such a tough job?  Do we just let these stupid poseurs hang around with a bunch of carrots and chicks without pointing and laughing?

Hate is fun!  Hate is cathartic.  And it keeps giving.

Oh, and a couple more points, Dave.  There was no like, and, thus, no dry-heave-inducing epiphany.  Just another joke gone too far.  That’s my official version, and I’m sticking to it.  Also, I think there is something odd about the fact that I don’t Google stalk my friends.  I thing you’re right that that should be the exception, not the rule.  Whatever.



{October 24, 2009}   Kudos

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Kudos, Dave! Kudos, Russ’s Mom!  Good points all round!  Especially that one about Brendan Fraser being in GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra — and I thought it was subversive genius because of this guy

In any case, I have to run to — as they say — “Pick up Mrs. Horner.”  I’ll check back with y’all in the PM.
Luann



{October 23, 2009}   Everything I cannot see

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So, I have been telling myself since seeing The Kingdom in two, three hour installments in Brussels in 1995 that I would see the next Lars Von Trier movie every time one came out.  And, for whatever reason… it just never happened.  And now there’s this:

The viewer hovers between genuine shock—whatever your tolerance for on-screen gore, what He and She do to each other’s and their own bodies is sickening to watch—and the eye-rolling resignation one might feel at a teenage son’s gothcore concert. You win, Lars—if I’m the bourgeoisie, consider me épatée.

And also this:

There has already been some debate among critics about whether “Antichrist” is grossly misogynistic or slyly feminist, an argument ultimately as fruitless as the question posed by the movie about the nature of women (see above). That talking fox has given the movie a handy catchphrase — “Chaos reigns!” — but a more apt one is delivered by Ms. Gainsbourg among bouts of howling, sobbing and penis smashing: “None of this is any use at all.”

And yet, there’s something so tempting — like the Devil? — about this new movie.  Could it be that I’m letting my love of Charlotte Gainsbourg overwhelm my judgment here?

So, my question for you, Dave, is:  If you were me, would you go see Antichrist?  And if so, would you strategically walk out?

What’s truly intriguing is that the genital mutilation has caught so much attention that the Brown Bunny-esque exigencies placed upon Defoe and Gainsbourg in the opening sequence have raised few eyebrows.  It’s as if the American movie critic can just shrug and say, “Ah, those Europeans!”



et cetera