Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Bloggy Sunday

Just got back from a shoot in Colorado, where I played a self-satisfied University professor. I got to wear a silk shirt and wool blazer, and ride a scooter around the CU campus in Boulder in 105 degree heat. Fun! I got to do a stunt (get hit by Frisbee, fall over), and have a water balloon land on my head. Refreshing!

This will be part of a web series, called KollegeTV, or kollegetv, or … something…. We are aiming to launch the series (which I co-wrote with my director Bill Allard, and producer Peter Garrity), on October 1. I will keep you informed, whether you want to be or not.

There are many enthusiastic young people involved. I hope to god we do not betray their blind trust! But then again, it wouldn’t be the first time….

What we have so far does seem pretty funny to me though.

Book Review
I was asked last month to review a book, THE KILLER BOOK OF TRUE CRIME by Tom and Michael Philbin (Sourcebooks, Inc. Nashville, Illinois, 2007). I agreed immediately, because it made me think that I have Pundit Power at last, or at least I’d get a free book out of the deal.

I did! I passed the book on to the Wee Bride first, because she is a True Crime fanatic. She gave it a tepid endorsement. If you are new to the genre, she opined, you will find it interesting. Unless, of course, True Crime repulses you. But if you are a True Crime fanatic, there is not much new here.

There is some good stuff. There is a story about Jay Silverheels (Tonto, children), being pulled over for DUI in Manhattan. There are descriptions of shoplifting techniques, results of the JonBonet Ramsey autopsy (ew!), the most common locations for car theft (Modesto, California leads the list), most common stolen cars (1995 Honda Civic heads the list), the last words of condemned prisoners, John Wayne Gacey’s response to a questionnaire, etc.

However: the text is bedeviled by typos, repetitions, and lazy weirdness. In a segment about the real life murders that inspired THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, for instance, there is this: “On the day after the murders, my wife and I went to 112 Ocean Avenue to drive past. What I remember, mainly, are the religious statues outside the house, but also a sign that hung by the house number: HIGH HOPES. In light of what happened, in my mind it will always be savagely ironic, and very, very sad.”

For one thing, which author is talking? Tom or Michael? For another thing, yes, HIGH HOPES hung above a mass murder site is ironic and sad. And then…? Couldn't you have talked to the cops? Are you a reporter, assemblagist, or what? What makes this book different from, say, a blog?

All in all, I have to give this book one of those little tepid waving of the hand, parallel to the ground, at chest level sort of gestures. It was a fun read, but marred by the utter lack of an editor.

Sorry! Send me more books! I will read them! I will review them! Whether you like or not!

Speaking of which…
I’m about halfway through AGAINST THE DAY, Thomas Pynchon’s new doorstopper, which alternately makes my eyes glaze over or makes me laugh. It gave me a sudden insight about Thomas Pynchon, though. I’m a big fan of his, if only because he thinks big. I like big books.

Here's my insight: Pynchon, except for the CRYING OF LOT 49, does not have characters who, you know, seem to really want to DO anything. They’re always threatening to do something, or wandering around trying to avoid doing something, or doing something despite themselves…. But they mainly roam the globe in a state of confusion as to what and who they are, and what the world is. Even in his novel about Lewis and Clark, the two mapmakers seem to be more drifting than driven. In AGAINST THE DAY, there are brothers seeking to avenge the murder of their father, which does happen (at this point, halfway through), but accidentally. This ain’t Cormac McCarthy world (though I detect a disdainful nod to McCarthy in this trope).

One of Pynchon’s early short stories is called “Entropy.” Pynchon’s view of entropy seems to be more literary than scientific (and AGAINST THE DAY has a lot of physics in that same vein), in that everything seems to veer towards chaos and/or mystery. As explained by Pynchon, it seems like gibberish to me, but hey, I'm a fan....

Entropy itself, as I understand it, basically means that all ordered systems lead, eventually, to disorder. That makes sense to me. Snow melts. So what?

You scientist types out there, please don’t yell at me. It will only hurt my feelings, and increase either entropy or a world view first evinced by Vico and WB Yeats. Nobody wants that.

Except me and Thomas Pynchon.

Entropic news?
AP: “ Here's news that Fox's series ‘Anchorwoman’ wouldn't want to deliver: It's been canceled after one low-rated airing.

“The debut of the reality show about Lauren Jones' attempt to turn herself into a news anchor for a Texas TV station drew an estimated 2.7 million viewers Wednesday, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen Media Research.

“That number is about a third of the viewership Fox attracted a week earlier with the finale of its popular ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’

“Jones was a Barker Beauty on /The Price Is Right,’ Miss New York and featured WWE Diva before the series put her into the newsroom of KYTX Channel 19 in Tyler, Texas.

“Unaired episodes of ‘Anchorwoman’ will be available on Fox's website through Fox on Demand, the network said Thursday.”

Avoid the water slide, that’s all I’m saying.
Headline of the week, USA TODAY: “10 great places to absorb the reality of slavery”

From Terry Castle’s piece on Susan Sontag in LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS:
“She’d been telling me about the siege and how a Yugoslav woman she had taken shelter with had asked her for her autograph, even as bombs fell around them. She relished the woman’s obvious intelligence (‘Of course, Terry, she’d read The Volcano Lover, and like all Europeans, admired it tremendously’) and her own sangfroid. Then she stopped abruptly and asked, grim-faced, if I’d ever had to evade sniper fire. I said, no, unfortunately not. Lickety-split she was off – dashing in a feverish crouch from one boutique doorway to the next, white tennis shoes a blur, all the way down the street to Restoration Hardware and the Baskin-Robbins store. Five or six perplexed Palo Altans stopped to watch as she bobbed zanily in and out, ducking her head, pointing at imaginary gunmen on rooftops and gesticulating wildly at me to follow. No one, clearly, knew who she was, though several of them looked as if they thought they should know who she was.”

Come on, baby….
David Bamber in the London Telegraph: “The hokey cokey, the popular dance, has always been seen as an innocent, if raucous, form of entertainment. But an Anglican clergyman has now discovered a more sinister side: it originated as a parody of the Roman Catholic Church's Latin Mass.”

Here in America, we call it the “hokey pokey,” and while its origins may well be in “hocus pocus,” “ the words believed to be used by magicians when they were casting spells,” it nowadays strictly refers to a dance that has not been performed since 1967 at the end of a school prom which ended, alas, in my not getting laid.

Why libertarians should not inherit the earth….
From, “Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and author of the GPL under which the GNU/Linux operating system is licensed, was in Peru during the quake, we asked if he would share his experiences with us. Here's his report.”

“I was supposed to take a bus to Chimbote that night. We thought for a while that the bus would be cancelled, because communications were out and the line could not tell that the roads were safe. That would have meant missing my speech the next day. However, the bus departed on schedule and I gave the speech as planned.

“I read that a church collapsed on worshipers during mass; later I heard that the priest had been rescued. Believers surely attributed the rescue to the good will of a benevolent deity. They probably did not attribute the collapse to the ill will of an evil deity, but it would be equally logical. In the 18th century, an earthquake destroyed a cathedral in Lisbon, killing thousands of believers. Many in Europe began to doubt religion as a result.”

Thank you Richard Stallman, for that heart-rending report. Glad you made your bus!

Mo Rove
ATLANTIC MONTHLY, Joshua Green, “The Rove Presidency”

Dick Armey, House Republican majority leader when Bush first took office, would offer the name tag that gave him access to the White House to President Clinton (whom he did not like, nor he him) to sign, so Armey could give it to some “schoolkid” as a souvenir. Bush?

“Armey said that when he went to his first meeting in the White House with President Bush, he explained the tradition with Clinton and asked the president if he would care to continue it.”

Armey said, “Bush refused to sign the card. Rove, who was sitting across the table, said, ‘It would probably end up on eBay.’”

Armey concluded, “The Bush White House was tone-deaf to the normal courtesies of the office.”
This little anecdote seems more telling to me than a thousand revelations of torture, lying, and bullying. The nation is being run by clueless impolite jerks. That’s. Not. Right.

Off to Wisconsin this next weekend to attend the 1st birthday of a niece. Will be back week after next with another exciting adventure. Stay tuned!


Blogger Allison Pripet said...

I agree with that about the characters not doing anything! That's why I was so happy to discover that a big influence on him is The Hardy Boys, who spend most of their books (at least the older ones) stopping off to eat somewhere, and almost drowning while swimming, but not actually getting around to solving the mystery!

4:08 PM  

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