Reluctant Habits

The John Birch Monthly

Posted by in Racism

I never thought I’d see the day when the Atlantic advocated racist generalizations. Actually, it’s the white guys who never seem to wash their hands in the bathroom. Generally the Caucasians about to broker a deal, the suits fond of the handshake. People like Cullen Murphy. Scary shit really, but all it takes is hanging out in a fancy-schmancy men’s room for an hour and keeping track of who doesn’t wash their hands. Oh, and Happy New Year! [8/8/05 UPDATE: Now of course, these things don’t come as much of…read more

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Your Brain’s Guide to a Safe New Year

Posted by in Satire

Today, please adjust the settings in your mind, as follows: 4:00 PM: Yearly Self-Diagnostic. Run defrag program. Check for viruses. Finish organizing and prioritizing memories of 2003 events. 5:17 PM: Finish Kith and Kin Telephonic Check-In program. 7:22 PM: Register 2004 New Year Resolutions with CPU. 8:42 PM: Determine whether Body Unit intends to drink. If blood-alcohol levels = unmanagable, then capitulate keys to Sober Mind Obligated to Protect Other Body Units. 9:06 PM: Kiss Long-Term Companion Unit, listen to L-TCU’s last thoughts and resolutions. 10:34 PM: If 2003 New…read more

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Cutting Off the Collectors

Posted by in Book Collecting

Patrice Moore, a 43 year old one-time mail clerk, was trapped under a pile of books and paper. Emergency workers filled 50 garbage bags with paper. It’s still not nearly as bad as the Collyer brothers, extreme reculsives who never threw anything out, got caught within their own debris, and who died of starvation and being gnawed upon by rats, respectively. (And, in fact, there’s a book on the Collyers called Ghosty Men.) A Moore-Collyer type in training might be this 18 year old, who chooses books over partying. An…read more

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More Quickies

Posted by in Roundup

Way to go, Brian! And, another good victory. Bertrand Russell’s last essay: “There could be a happy world, where co-operation was more in evidence than competition, and monotonous work is done by machines, where what is lovely in nature is not destroyed to make room for hideous machines whose sole business is to kill, and where to promote joy is more respected than to produce mountains of corpses. Do not say this is impossible: it is not. It waits only for men to desire it more than the infliction of…read more

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Gaddis Was The Man

Posted by in Gaddis, William

Today, Wood S Lot reminded me that eighty-one years ago, one of the most underappreciated American novelists was born. I first came across Gaddis when I was 25, stumbling through a bookstore and coming across some book called The Recognitions that had an incredible Hugo van der Goes painting on the cover. Something that looked like an anguished Neanderthal, but could have easily been a tortured wrestler. Plus, the book was thick. And instinctively, I’ve always been drawn to anything huge. It took me three weeks to finish the sucker….read more

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Snaps

Posted by in Ripoffs, Roundup

No less an authority than University of Wisconsin professor Barbara Chatton has revealed that the film form is bad for Dr. Seuss. Chatton notes that the predictable rhymes make the Seuss books encouraging for beginning readers and points out that kids tend to resist the tacked-on morals Hollywood insists upon. Next year is the 100th anniversary of Mr. Geisel’s birth. The Boston Globe profiles thriller writer Derek Raymond. All of his books are out of print in the States. Also in the Globe is an interview with Marion Cunningham, a…read more

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Mayfly

Posted by in Personal

Here’s my Mayfly 20 word capsule: Holed up, reborn, maturity, resolve, decisions, less damnations, hitting the ground running, whipping my lazy ass for next year’s kill. [8/8/05 UPDATE: Yup, this is clearly a description written by a guy in his late twenties, if not younger. As to the "reborn" silliness, I was going through a lot back then. But I did whip my ass into shape and accomplished quite a lot in 2004.]

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The Un-Ethicist

Posted by in New York Times

Shortly after Xmas, I was astonished to get this email: Dear Mr. Champion: Randy’s at it again. Every time our family gets together for the holidays, not only does my older brother go on and on about the ethical way to carve a turkey, but the little fucker can’t stop going on about his lucrative Times and NPR gigs. I’m sick and tired of being the odd sibling out. I’m sick and tired of introducing myself as “Randy’s younger brother” at cocktail parties, only to have these people gloss over…read more

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Solid Contentions

Posted by in Literary Adaptations, McEwan, Ian

Apparently, Ewan McGregor’s uncle (Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars trilogy) turned Ian McEwan’s infamous short story,”Solid Geometry,” into a film last year. [Denis Lawson interview.] While this version doesn’t appear to be available online, this wasn’t the first film adaptation of “Solid Geometry.” This forum thread includes an article that chronicles the initial 1979 version. Set to be directed by Mike Newell, BBC-2 pulled the plug when they learned of a nine-inch penis prop. Producer Stephen Gilbert issued public statements, was fired by the…read more

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Putting the Cock in Caucasian

Posted by in Racism

Angry Asian Man points to this fascinating article on the booming plastic surgery in Asia: “The culturally loaded issue today is the number of Asians looking to remake themselves to look more Caucasian. It’s a charge many deny, although few would argue that under the relentless bombardment of Hollywood, satellite TV, and Madison Avenue, Asia’s aesthetic ideal has changed drastically. ‘Beauty, after all, is evolutionary,’ says Harvard psychology professor Nancy Etcoff, who is the author of Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty?not coincidentally a best seller in Japan,…read more

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Quickies

Posted by in Alcohol, Coetzee, J.M., Hemingway, Needless Intellectualizing, Radio, Roundup, Shields, Carol

The Guardian has an excerpt of Carol Shield’s unfinished novel, Segue, which she was working on at the time of her death. Terry Gross interviews Stephen King. Hearing Terry Gross describe the beginning of Gerald’s Game in such clinical intellectual terms (apparently, without irony) is pretty hilarious, as are the additional queries that jump from third-person to first-person (“Let’s get Stephen King to the kind of gore and terror and suspense that you create.”). But the second interview has King talking about his accident. The Globe and Mail features a…read more

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Res Ipsa Loquitur

Posted by in Media, War

According to the Google News algorithm, six American lives are worth more than 20,000 Iranian lives.

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Report

Posted by in Personal

The streets remain quiet, even after Xmas has come and gone. Those who remain hide behind locked doors. But some can be found on buses or in bars, reclining in cafes, quietly socializing on public steps, or catching up on movies, alone or with companions. The sun peaks above three-story Victorian edifices, but it gets very cold, California cold, at night. It is a San Francisco that resembles 1970s cinematic imagery: Bullitt, Dirty Harry, The Conversation. Before it was impossible to find a parking spot. Back in the days when…read more

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A Very Scary Xmas

Posted by in Rove, Karl

Karl Rove reads “Santa’s New Reindeer.” Beyond the expected lack of conviction, let me count the many ways that this is wrong.

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Can They Sink Any Lower?

Posted by in Sex

Melissa Panarello’s One Hundred Strokes of the Hairbrush Before Going to Sleep, the latest “sexually frank memoir,” is different from the usual memoirs, but only in the sense that Larry Clark’s Kids is an artier, more teen-centric approach to the oeuvre of Zalman King. As the Times reports (user: dr_mabuse, pw: mabuse), “The title of the book refers to a kind of purging ritual that the book’s narrator, also named Melissa, performs after she is prodded by one of her sexual partners into having sex with him and four other…read more

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Script Before the Book

Posted by in Literary Adaptations

Sarah points to this article on Philip K. Dick adaptations, which suggests that the best PKD movies are those made by directors dismissive of the source material. The Post article points out that Ridley Scott dismissed PKD’s work and hadn’t even bothered to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? But what the article fails to acknowlege is that, unless the director is also writing the script, the director’s job is to visualize the story, not actually develop it. With Minority Report, Spielberg was more attracted to creating a future…read more

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The Eggers Rumor

Posted by in Eggers, Dave, Literary Adaptations

Okay, folks, here’s what I know about the Eggers-Where the Wild Things Are connection. I contacted Playtone Productions, the production company that’s behind Where the Wild Things Are. (I won’t dare reveal how I got the number.) I was told by Playtone that they could neither confirm nor deny that Eggers was involved on the screenplay, which suggests that Eggers is possibly involved, but no one is ready to make an official announcement as of yet. I asked if they could tell me if any writer was involved, and they…read more

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Nice Guys & Lesbians

Posted by in Everyday World

Oddly enough, I had a “date” similar to this, though nowhere nearly as extreme: ME: Why is she walking home and why are you picking her up. AFV (now in full blown rage) BECAUSE YOU TRIED TO KISS HER you asshole! Why did you try to kiss my girlfriend. What the hell do you think you’re doing?!?!?….. ME: What are you talking about? I was on a DATE with her! AFV: You weren’t on a date. ME: I picked her up, I bought our tickets to the concert, and I…read more

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Work in the Prison

Posted by in Prison

Jospeh T. Hallinan’s Going Up the River has countless revelations for anyone interested in how the prison-industrial complex has changed American life. But two, so far, have particularly stuck out for me: “Well,” he says, “my wife and I have been married twenty-eight years and lived nineteen years in a travel trailer.” He looks me dead in the eye. “Do you have any idea?” After ten years, he will be eligible to receive medical coverage after retirement, a benefit so precious, he says, that he is willing to spend his…read more

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Bah Humbug

Posted by in Holidays

For all those who have offered, “Happy holidays,” thank you for the well-wishes that don’t specifically reference Xmas. Happy holidays and good cheer back to you. For those who have polluted the air with insufferable carols, for those who have tried to induct me into their hellish Xmas-Christian propaganda with almost complete artifice and ideological solipsism, for those who say hello to their family and friends but once a year (now, but never any other time), for those who think that a pre-printed card with a mere signature below some…read more

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Quickies

Posted by in Eggers, Dave, Roundup, Wallace, David Foster

Infinity expert A.W. Moore compares David Foster Wallace’s Everything and More against two other books specializing in the subject and concludes that DFW is wrong: “The sections on set theory, in particular, are a disaster. When he lists the standard axioms of set theory from which mathematicians derive theorems about the iterative conception of a set, he gets the very first one wrong. (It is not, as Wallace says, that if two sets have the same members, then they are the same size. It is that two sets never do…read more

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Prisoner’s Dilemma

Posted by in Needless Intellectualizing, Relationships

4,000 men were questioned in Britain. The results: Married men are more likely to suffer mental health problems than those who live with their partners. But the reverse holds true for married women. And women, in general, are actually better off without men. Meanwhile, single men are more likely to suffer from depresison. So if you’re a man, you can remain single and depressed. Or you can get married and get depressed. But if you live with your partner sans commitment, you’ll be dandy. And if you’re a woman, you…read more

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Their Threat Fatigue and We Need To Do My Things On Your Alert

Posted by in Language, Politics

What Tom Ridge Said: “I don’t think we’ve got to worry about threat fatigue. We need to be on the alert and America needs to know that those who need to do things are doing them, that their government is working 24-7 to protect them against terrorist attack.” What Tom Ridge Might Have Meant: “threat fatigue” — A little known cousin to “chronic fatigue syndrome.” Either that or, as Wordspy notes, “ignoring or downplaying possible threats because one has been subjected to constant warnings about those threats.” So if Tom…read more

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Doctors, Lytton & More

Posted by in End of Paper, Faber, Michael, Harry Potter, Reading, Roundup, Strachey, Lytton

British practitioners are tired of writing doctor’s notes. Apparently, there’s a rampant epidemic of comparative note shopping. This collection of notes, however, suggests that the aspiring malingerer might be better off forging their own. One note reads: “Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.” Indeed. Unfortunately, doctor’s notes don’t make for compelling drama. That didn’t stop these guys from trying. Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians has been a hoot, filled with some great reductio ad absurdum arguments: “Now, two propositions were accepted by both parties — that all…read more

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I’ve Always Wanted to Do This

Posted by in Amazon, Libraries

Reading on a Dream: I hope these kids take their show on the road. Opening night at the Library of Congress? Somewhat Related Link: If Libraries Were Like Amazon.

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Beyond the Pale

Posted by in Everyday World, Personal

Maud’s posted a great little ditty on pallor. But I must assure Ms. Newton that she don’t have jack on my albino ass. For years, I was terrified of wearing shorts. I wore T-shirts to apartment complex swimming pools, and I resented the fact that, no matter how powerful the sunblock, I’d return home with ruddy, blistered flesh. Beyond this brutal reddening, I was hopelessly etiolated. P.E. was always the toughest period to get through. Beyond my scrawny, clumsy self being among the last selected when softball or basketball teams…read more

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I’ve Got the Power

Posted by in Personal

Last night’s planned baking extravaganza went awry. The situation was perhaps best described by today’s Chronicle in a remarkably redundant headline: Blackout puts S.F. in the dark. Personally, I’ve always wondered if a blackout could bathe a city in light. And, last night, it did in spurts. Flashlights, headlights, candles, and small halogen lamps replaced cruddy fluorescents. There was a rustic silence in the air. Who knew that so many things turned on, locked behind multi-unit buildings and overlocked doors and Victorian facades, created such a subtle din? It was…read more

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Who the Hell is Emeril?

Posted by in Cooking, Personal

While trying to score some bakeware this afternoon, I ran smack dab into a huge display that read “Emeril.” Physically, I was unharmed. Emotionally, however, I was quite devastated. “Emeril,” you see, was photographed with his arms outstretched on the various boxes. I did a quick search on the Internet and found the following photos: There doesn’t appear to be a single photograph of this man with his arms close to his body. Can someone tell me who this Emeril guy is? I don’t have cable television. I’m completely in…read more

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Bad Santa

Posted by in Holidays

Like everyone, the Muthafu’in Holidays have kept me so perplexed that I’m dropping key letters from colorful adjectives and creating nonsense. Expect something coherent again on Monday. In the meantime, why not try some of the many fine establishments on the left?

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___________ of the ___________

Posted by in Film

Well, now that I’ve seen It (It being a high-profile film release that will make many people rich this week alone), I must confess that I’m a bit disappointed. Not outright hostile towards the film, not hating it, but decidedly underwhelmed and, if it can be believed, even more ill-disposed towards the source material than I was before. The last twenty minutes of It featured more anticlimaxes than I had seen in five years of summer blockbusters. Even the effects played out like cut scenes from a crudely rendered computer…read more

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