If you've got nothing going on this evening, you should come see Wizard People, Dear Reader, the hi-frickin'-larious reimagined narration of the first Harry Potter movie. And if you do have something going on this evening, you should cancel it and come see the movie instead. Say hello if you see me; I'll be the one obsessively trying to make my ear pop. It's $5 at Southpaw in Park Slope, and you can pick up a copy of Stay Free! while you're there.
This would be awesome if it worked out -- new episodes of Futurama may be produced and released straight to DVD. Wouldn't it be great if all the cult TV shows started doing this? No worries about ratings or pissing off advertisers -- if people want to buy it, someone will produce it.
Too bad all the "Freaks and Geeks" actors are no longer age-appropriate for their roles.
Rose and I actually had a simultaneous day off for once, so we went to the Met and checked out a few exhibits -- Diane Arbus, Coco Chanel, Max Ernst. In particular, I would like to talk about the Coco Chanel exhibit, or, as I came to call it, "Spot the Lagerfeld".
It seemed logical that an exhibit purporting to be a Coco Chanel retrospective would focus on her designs. Instead, it was more of a "House of Chanel" exhibit that featured Karl Lagerfeld designs alongside the Chanel designs they were riffing on. And I would say that, of the Lagerfeld designs, Rose and I thought, oh, 80 percent of them were atrocities. The one in particular that got us het up was an outfit featuring a tank top with the Chanel logo on it and a necklace of fake pearls bigger than golf balls.
It was also an odd exhibit to be in after a week off from work since suddenly I felt like I was walking through the pages of a Conde Nast magazine, what with all the quotes about fashion all over the walls. The one I found most irritating was, of course, from Lagerfeld (paraphrased from memory, also with slight editorial changes, especially in the second sentence): "Coco Chanel was brilliant, of course, but she only ever did one thing. It is my job as a genius fashion overlord to take what she did and modify it for modern times by taking her beautiful designs and peeing all over them."
The exhibit itself was a pretty darn good refutation of the charge that Coco Chanel could only do one thing. Her designs still look great. And some of the Lagerfeld-era Chanel dresses were nice as well, even I must confess, but mostly all his designs seemed utterly mired in 1980s excess.
At least Cargo is probably never going to feature a profile of Mr. Lagerfeld, being much more of the "practical advice for guys who are slightly clueless about fashion" kind of magazine, which I feel more generously toward than the "pretending that crazy clothes that could have been featured in The Fifth Element and which are held together with a single piece of fishing line and generous amounts of body adhesive are things which normal people might consider wearing" kind of magazine.
As those of you who read her blog know, Rose has become a runner. She's gone from not being able to run a quarter mile (as of...about a year ago?) to doing three miles in a row on the treadmill, so, pretty awesome, yes?
As for me, I've jogged on and off for many years now, as gym memberships and shin splints have permitted. I'd never had any goals in particular except my usual self-competitive ones of "go faster than I did last time" or "run for longer than I did last time"; I did generally improve on my performance over time, although this progress was made more sporadic than it might otherwise have been because of gaps in my exercising. Like, I hadn't had a gym membership for a while when Rose and I joined the Boerum Hill Y, and found myself back at only being able to run ten-minute miles for 30 or 40 minutes, which was about where I started.
But Rose does have a goal -- she's training to run a marathon this fall. And, inevitably, some of her seriousness about running has started to rub off on me. For instance, I now actually own running clothes, and not just one of my crappier T-shirts and my old cut-off pair of suit pants that I used to use for workout shorts. (I realized a better shirt might be in order when my nipples started feeling chafed after one of my longer runs, and I realized new shorts were called for when my MP3 player fell through a hole in my pocket.) So I picked up a fancy moisture-wicking shirt and pair of shorts as part of a sneakers-buying expedition to Rose's favored running store (Jackrabbit, in Park Slope). It's a very cool store. The staff totally did not make us feel like running pretenders, and they get all high-tech on the issue of buying sneakers -- they have you run on a treadmill while they take a digital video, and then you get to watch yourself run in slow motion as they analyze your stride and figure out what kind of sneaker would be best for you. Turns out my ankles tended to roll inward in my old sneakers, so I got a pair with better arch support, and now my ankles are muuuuuuch happier when I run.
And, of course, my stamina and speed have continued to increase -- my best performance so far was eight miles in 64 minutes -- but I had still never ventured off the treadmill at the gym. Rose, however, does not love the gym, with its poor air conditioning and constant barrage of closed-captioned TV, and spring weather (when the world has deigned to give us spring weather) and the park have been calling to her for a while now. So she picked up a running belt, with a doohickey to hold a bottle of water and various pockets for tissues, keys, and whatever, and took her first loop around Prospect Park the other day. (It's about three and a third miles around.)
So I, in my "I'm not really motivated enough to do the things one would probably want to do to prepare to run laps around the park of my own accord, but if there are a running shirt, running shorts, decent sneakers, a running belt, and an MP3 player lying around the apartment, then, yeah, that does sound fun, running around the park, let's do that!" kind of way, decided to venture out today myself.
And it was pretty exhilarating, but I believe the first thought I had was, Damn! Running in the real world is way, way harder than running on a treadmill! If I am getting a little tired on a treadmill, I can simply tell it that I would like to not be on a slope anymore. In the real world, hills are just as long as they are. I was so tired after my first loop of the park that I considered calling it a workout and heading home, but I walked for a bit and stretched my tibialis anterior muscles, which are invariably the ones that get achy when I run nowadays (I think they used to be stronger when I was taking tap-dance classes) and stuck it out.
As a prelude to my second observation, I should mention that I like to run with music on, and when I say that, I mean that I like to run to music. That is, I like to run to music whose tempo matches my running pace. And so, aided by my considerable obsessive streak, my MP3 player has a lot of songs whose genre has been changed to "Running", and I tell it to shuffle among those songs as I run. And so, today, I felt like I was running superslowly, because all the songs that I was running to were ones that I normally skip over at the gym for being too slow. But then when I finished my first loop of the park, it turned out that I had been running approximately eight-minute miles, which is perfectly respectable for me (and better than I had expected to do, as I had already assumed that my running times would be slower in the real world). I guess treadmills are bad simulators of outdoor running in more ways than one.
So anyway, I ended up finishing two laps of the park (which Rose tells me is equivalent to a 10K race) in 57 minutes (not counting my stretching time), which works out to about seven miles an hour -- not bad for my first time out. I'll probably do better next time...if only because by then, hopefully, this MONSTER BLISTER on my right foot will have turned into a callus and will not be distracting me for the entire second lap.
Incidentally, here are some songs which are totally swell to run to:
Cibo Matto, "Working for Vacation"
Marshall Crenshaw, "Something's Gonna Happen"
Adrian Belew, "Beat Box Guitar"
New Order, "Age of Consent"
Soul Coughing, "Collapse"
Hall and Oates, "You Make My Dreams Come True"
The Futureheads, "Decent Days and Nights"
Belle and Sebastian, "Wrapped Up in Books"
Jonathan Coulton, "I'm a Mason Now"
Public Image Ltd., "Rise"
That last one was playing as I finished my run, and I found its refrain of "May the road rise with you" quite heartening as I sped up for the home stretch.
Hey, it's another new song. This represents another chapter in the ongoing saga of "Francis plays with alternate tunings"; I was going for a sort of raga-ish feel, although I think it ended up sounding more like a raga crossed with Robyn Hitchcock. Anyway, check it on out, if you are so inclined. It's called "Safety Valve".
If you are the sort of person who cares about continuity errors in science fiction universes, or if you merely wish to walk a mile in the shoes of someone who does, I commend this very funny article by my friend Todd Seavey to you.
(P.S.: Re the Wesley Crusher joke -- You're okay, Wil Wheaton! We know it wasn't your fault!)
Well, I guess I'm mostly glad that the filibuster compromise happened, even though it's still a pretty bad deal that three crazily ideological hard-right judges now have what amounts to a lock on lifetime federal court appointments. I mean, that is what compromises are -- things in which both sides don't get everything they want. But it is the first time the evangelical wackjobs in the GOP have been basically told to chill, would you chill already? by party moderates, and that is a good thing.
However, I do have one request, and that is this:
I don't believe I had ever heard the phrase "up or down vote" until quite recently, and I am already done with hearing it. Could everyone in the world please never ever use it again? Thank you.
I continue to be snubbed by the New Yorker Caption Contest. Failed entry for #4: "You know, everyone goes on about how dangerous radiation is, but it's been very good to us."
The day I thought would never come has finally arrived, and all I can say is that it's a good thing I am usually sitting down when I check my e-mail. I just learned that the Newsradio DVD set (containing the complete first two seasons of the show) -- which I originally ordered on November 16, 2003 -- has finally shipped. (The original release date was pushed back multiple times.)
Anyway, it's good to know that they've upgraded me, at no cost, to the special new super-expedited shipping:
(Also: Six Things will be going on semi-hiatus next week. Cargo's schedule is pretty light at the moment, so the services of we freelancers will not be required until a week from Monday...and the office is where the scanner is. However, I have drawn a couple extra cartoons and pre-scanned them, so the week will not be entirely cartoon-free.)
But in really important news, red pandas are evolving!
(Via Boing Boing.)
You are perhaps already aware that Senator Rick Santorum compared Democrats, with their efforts to save the filibuster, to Adolf Hitler occupying Paris. Not that Democrats are exempt from such rhetorical puffery -- Robert Byrd pulled much the same trick in March. The noteworthy part is that Rick Santorum condemned him for it.
But that's standard Senate hot air. The thing that really galls me is the way the GOP twists and turns to justify breaking the rules of the Senate (that is, bypassing the supermajority required for a legitimate Senate rules change in favor of a bogus claim that filibustering a judicial nominee is unconstitutional, which only requires a majority vote). In particular, Senator Santorum said:
We shouldn't go mucking around in this institution and changing the way we've done things, particularly when it comes to the balance of powers between the three branches of government. And the independence of one of those branches of the judiciary. We must tread very carefully before we go radically changing the way we do things that has served this country well..."
I know, you're thinking, wait, is he defending the filibuster? Oh heavens no. He's saying that the Senate shouldn't change the way it does things as an argument for changing the way the Senate does things.
...and we have radically changed the way we do things here. Some are suggesting we're trying to change the law, we're trying to break the rules. Remarkable, remarkable hubris.
Yes, remarkable hubris indeed. And I haven't so much noticed the press do a great job of calling the GOP on its attempts to publicly rewrite history. (Although I'd be happy for someone to send me citations.) Does anyone actually need reminding that the GOP was blocking Clinton nominees even when they were the minority party in the Senate? Does it not enter into the debate at all that the only reason Priscilla Owen is even up for a federal judicial post is that the Senate blocked all of Clinton's nominees for the same position?
If you're following this whole filibuster mishegas with as much interest as I am, you may enjoy reading Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's floor statement.
Speaking to fellow Republicans on Tuesday night, he said that the Senate "has a duty to promptly consider each...nominee on the Senate floor, discuss and debate their qualifications, and then give them the up or down vote they deserve."
Duty to whom? The radical right wing of the Republican Party who see within their reach the destruction of America's mainstream values?
Molly Ivins has had it with the Newsweek-bashing.
Apparently wearing red helps you win at sports. Maybe the Boston Red Sox wouldn't have had that long World Series losing streak if they had been name the Boston Red Uniforms. But anyway, I really mention this to highlight the last sentence of the article:
Tiger Woods wears an iconic red shirt on Sundays, the day when most tournaments are won.
Aren't tournaments won every day a tournament is held?
...here's yet another example of the media parroting the GOP line:
Reid also suggested that Frist call a senators-only meeting in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber — no aides, just all 100 senators — where they could hash out the controversy on their own, just as they did to work out how senators would handle President Clinton's impeachment.
"Have all of us retire to the chamber, sit down and talk through this issue to see if there's a way we can resolve this short of this nuclear option," Reid said. His reference to "nuclear option" was to the terminology Democrats have given to Republican threats to curtail their ability to filibuster judicial nominees.
Well, okay, except "nuclear option" wasn't coined by Democrats; it was coined by Republicans, who then tried to disassociate themselves from it because it sounded negative. Read more about it here. And browse the other articles while you're there, if you feel like causing yourself to rend your clothes to shreds in frustration and fury.
I'm thinking the Hindustani Times took this article straight from a press release.
Answer: Chuck Schumer is.
Not that anyone should be surprised that Bill Frist is a hypocrite. But it's entertaining to read a transcript of him fumfing around it.
(Via Talking Points Memo.)
Does everyone agree that Diane Keaton's little avatar over at the Huffington Post is hella freaky?
Every so often, I see someone who behaves in a way that makes me think they haven't quite gotten the hang of this whole being-human thing quite yet, and that perhaps they need more practice. For instance, this morning I was on the subway, sitting on a long bank of seats that had room for one more person:
If you were on this car and wanted to sit down, you (being normal) would probably head to this spot and ask the two guys sitting on either side to scootch in their legs a bit:
But the woman who wanted a seat this morning picked a spot where there was absolutely no room to sit (indeed, I was periodically being bumped into by my animatedly talking neighbor) and asked me (and by extension, the guy next to me) to move over to make room for her:
Do you agree that this was really weird? The interaction was made more difficult by the fact that I and the guy next to me were both wearing headphones and couldn't hear what she was asking, and she didn't make the universal could-you-take-out-your-headphones sign before she started talking.
Then when I got to the office, there were three people in my elevator. One got out at the cafeteria, leaving the elevator in this configuration:
Two people leaving the cafeteria got on the elevator, and you would think that they would go to the empty half of the elevator to do the things one does on an elevator (push buttons, stand around), thusly:
But no! Each of them dithered momentarily in the elevator doorway, and then they both went the opposite direction, leaned in front of me to press the appropriate button, and then went over to the other side of the elevator:
Surely they have worked in the building long enough to know that there are buttons on both sides of the elevators? I guess the impulse to turn right when you walk through a door is very strong.
Not that I'm immune from dimwitted behavior. As I was leaving the apartment this morning, I saw a flyer had been stuffed in our mailbox. It was obscured a bit by the edge of the right-hand door, so I leaned to the left to better see what it was. Unfortunately, I did this as I was opening the left-hand door, and totally hit myself in the head with it. Back to Door Opening 101 for me.
A few years back, I participated in a "24 Hour Plays" production, in which playwrights, with no preparation, write a one-act play in the wee hours of the night, give that play to a director and some actors, who rehearse the play all day and perform it that night (using only costumes and props brought to the theater by the participants). At some point I may type up my play and post it here, but the reason I bring this up is to point out that plays are not the only 24-hour project out there; there's also 24-Hour Comic Day, on which cartoonists try to whip up a 24-page comic in 24 hours (again, without preparation). This one, by Enrico Casarosa, is particularly good (even though he admits that it took over 24 hours, since he did sleep for a while in there).
So, New York City has a theme song now. And no, it's not Jonathan Richman's "Springtime in New York", as it should be. It's "New York: For the Time of Your Life". I know. Already: bleh. And it's by Frank Wildhorn, who gave us such ossified musicals as "Jekyll and Hyde" and "Dracula: The Musical", so I'm sure your eardrums are already cringing in anticipation. Let's just say the song itself totally lives up to the promise of the title and composer.
(Side note: That little clicking sound you don't hear is my imaginary odometer clicking over -- this is Heaneyland's 1000th post!)
I, along with you and everyone else on the planet with an e-mail address, get a lot of spam. And most of it gets sent to my spam folder, thanks to Bayesian filters, but every so often some new genre of spam appears and crops up in my regular inbox. Today, that heretofore-unsent-to-me spam was: German spam. Here are the subject lines (translated by Google):
60 Jahre Befreiung: Wer feiert mit?
(60 years release: Who celebrates also?)
Auf Streife durch den Berliner Wedding
(On patrol by the citizen of Berlin Wedding)
Paranoider Deutschenmoerder kommt in Psychiatrie
(Paranoid German murderer comes into psychiatry)
I guess it's reassuring that foreign spam has subject lines that are just as inscrutable as those of domestic spam.
For the small percentage of my readership that is interested in such things, I've taken down one of the archived MP3s in the column to your left and replaced it with two different archived MP3s: "Bluebeard" (a peppy little number about the guy with all the dead wives; see the indicated blog entry for more info) and "Fate" (the finale of the "Oedipus Rocks" section of my musical, "We're All Dead"). Enjoy, if you are so inclined.
Sure, they're blue and squishy. But how squishy?
(Thanks to Debby for the tip.)
Holy crap, people, I don't know if this is a delayed boost from The Next Big Thing, or a sudden boost from Joey Reynolds, or what, but Holy Tango is currently ranked #634 at Barnes and Noble. Dude! I am very jazzed.
Alas, my entry for this week's New Yorker cartoon contest did not make the cut. But you can still vote on the finalists.
(My caption: "The motion to relocate to a less smelly car is carried.")
If you're still awake and reading blogs at this hour, you might want to stay up slightly longer and listen to me on the Joey Reynolds Show at 1:00 this morning (repeated at 5:00 in the morning for people who rise at ungodly hours and read my blog the moment they rub the crustiness out of their eyes). It will be live and I will be playing guitar. Eeeeek.
I wonder how much time the Wikipedia editors have to spend making this sort of correction.
Interesting. Senator Voinovich opted not to endorse John Bolton's nomination but not to prevent to prevent the nomination from going to the floor for a vote either (he has already indicated he will vote "no"). I wonder which will be more embarrassing to the administration: the nomination going down in flames, or Bolton being confirmed and then, inevitably, making an ass of himself in public?
For those of you who heard my appearance on The Next Big Thing and wept big, sloppy tears when my segment of excerpts from Holy Tango ended, so much did you want to hear more poetry read by me, it is time for you to stop your sobbing, because here is an outtake from my WNYC recording session: "Lars, NBC Guard" (by Carl Sandburg).
Gawker is probably excitedly spilling food all over the place right now, because Radar magazine's website is finally live. I point this out because I'm responsible for the top-of-page news ticker text.
The new issue of Stay Free! is out, featuring two contributions from me, a Brooklyn-themed crossword and an interview with the originator of flash mobs. For now, you'll actually have to get a copy of the magazine (free at various Brooklyn locations) to solve the crossword, but the interview is online for your perusal.
This reminds me: while I was helping stuff issues of Stay Free! into envelopes this weekend, one of my fellow volunteers was the very cool cartoonist Nina Paley. I say this mainly as a way of pointing out that if you haven't checked out any of the segments of her animated version of the Ramayana, you should.
The first time I saw my friend the ungodly talented Andrew Chaikin perform, he was a special guest of Toxic Audio, performing after their show as a sort of nightcap. Toxic Audio is a highly accomplished a cappella group that performs comedy in a somewhat shticky '70s-variety-show way that usually grates on me, but that they managed to make entirely charming.
I was brought onstage during the show as an audience dupe for one of the skits, in which I was given a stack of cue cards to hold up for the ostensible aid of one of the singers. The gag was that the song was "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?", and all the cue cards said the exact same thing. So the fellow sang one line, looked at me expectantly, and then I dropped the first card on the stage so he could read the next card. When all the cards were on the ground, he and another member of the group panickedly ran up on stage and made a big show of getting the cards in the right order and handing them back to me. One of the cards was upside down, and I think this was usually the source of a comedy bit as the singer stopped, unable to read the card until it was righted, and waited for the audience member to notice what the problem was and fix it. I was too fast for him, though. Really, if I hadn't felt like it would be rude to horn in on their practiced comedy bit, I would have dug out a pen and hastily written "No one will be watching us" on the back of one of the cue cards, because they cut that line out of the song for simplicity...which threw me slightly at the end of the bit when they grabbed the cue cards and had me sing the song instead, because I reeeally reeeeeeally wanted to sing that line instead of another repeat of "Why don't we do it in the road". But apparently I acquitted myself well, singing-wise, because in the intermission between acts, I had a lot of people ask me if I was a ringer. Fun.
Anyway, the main reason I bring up Toxic Audio is because one of the songs they performed was "Mah-na Mah-na", and they performed it in the traditional fashion, as pioneered by the Muppets, with the "Mah-na Mah-na" singer chafing at his constraint of being forced to sing the same nonsense word over and over again in the same rhythm, and cutting loose periodically into wayward solos which are then brought down to earth by the disapproval of his fellow singers (as can be seen in this Muppet Show excerpt). It was competently done by Toxic Audio, but was, I thought, one of the weakest parts of the show, since it was essentially a wholesale lifting of a previously existing bit.
But where did the song come from before it became part of the collective memory of every child of my generation? Now it can be told.
(Via Dual Excess.)
Another installment of the irregular series in which I answer search queries from my referral log. Today:
how to pronounce analogous
Of course, the query is ambiguous. I have chosen to interpret it as "How do you pronounce 'analogous' correctly?" although taken more literally, it could be interpreted as "What are some of the many ways to pronounce the string of letters 'analogous'?" (in which case I would be forced to admit that two attractive possibilites are an-uh-loe-GOOSE and AIN-ull-oh-gouse).
After months of having my Amazon rank hover around 120,000, I'm up to 6,413 as of this moment, thanks (no doubt) to my appearance on The Next Big Thing.
Also kind of cool: I learned from a new review at Barnes and Noble that a high school English class was given my Gwendolyn Brooks parody to read. (I assume the student read the rest of the book on her own, because I think giving high school kids a copy of David Mamet's "Dammit, Dave" is probably enough to get one fired.)
A couple weekends ago, Rose suggested, in lieu of her customary morning jog at the gym, that we walk through Prospect Park to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; she would then take the train from there to Yarnivore.
On the way out, we stopped at our favored corner store, Chino's, for breakfast sandwiches. Rose and I were chatting as our breakfast was being made, and so we were distracted when we were asked if we would like [something] on our sandwiches. Rose said, "Yes!", thinking the question was about salt and pepper, but I wasn't sure that "salt and pepper" mapped to what I heard.
When we stopped in the park to eat, we discovered that something mysterious had definitely been added to our sandwiches -- but it was good! We couldn't quite place it (and there wasn't much of it -- just enough to add flavor), but it was tomatoey and spicy, and given that Chino's is a corner store of the Latino variety (they are also our source for tamales), we figured salsa.
Next time Rose went back to the store, she asked for salsa on her breakfast sandwich, and they were nonplussed. They don't usually put salsa on breakfast sandwiches, they said, but they'd put some on if she wanted. Her sandwich was fine, but it definitely wasn't the sauce we had previously had.
You may be way ahead of me on this, but it turned out that the mystery sauce was -- ketchup. I don't know, man, if I'd had the connotations of "ketchup" in my mind when I had that breakfast sandwich, my reaction might well have been different. Every time someone's asked me if I'd like them to put ketchup on a breakfast sandwich, I've scoffed internally and thought, how tacky! Must we put ketchup on everything? But with salt and pepper adding a bit of spiciness, plus the savoriness of the sausage patty (which hits my taste buds in a way that's different than any of the things I would normally put ketchup on), and the whole blind-taste-test angle of it, I seriously would never have guessed that what I was eating was ketchup.
Somehow I feel this reframes the world. I am now a person who likes ketchup on my breakfast sandwiches. Dude.
You'll want to prepare yourself for this next link; unfortunately, nothing can prepare you for it. Click here and wait a long time for the sanity-destroying video to load.
(Thanks to Emily for the link.)
I am dumbstruck. (That is to say, I am struck by an example of incredible dumbness.) Are you familiar with finger-finder #2? Not the woman with the chili and the getting arrested and the apparent hoax and whatnot, but the guy in North Carolina who found a finger in his frozen custard that had been cut off by a custard mixing machine? Well, apparently, it might have been possible for the finger to have been reattached to the unfortunate worker it used to belong to, but the guy who found it refused to give it back, declaring as he exited the store "that he would be calling the TV stations and an attorney." (Read all about it here.)
I mean, what a brilliant plan! Keep the finger so that you can sue the custard stand for emotional distress, while opening yourself up to a liability claim for wantonly depriving an injured man of a body part! (Not to mention just being a cold-hearted bastard in general.) Truly, this fine land of ours is filled with idiots.
(Via Boing Boing.)
George Lucas apparently brought in Tom Stoppard as a rewrite man for the Revenge of the Sith script. (Scroll down for the confirmation.) Makes my Harold Pinter version of Star Wars seem that much more plausible.
(Via Low Culture.)
Well, I had a swell time in the WNYC recording booth, and you can hear the result this Sunday at 11:00 if you're a fellow New York City dweller; if not, here's a list of other radio stations that carry the show, or check here for an archived edition you can listen to online.
As for the poetry debate...bleh. I lost by a vote of 7-4, with a few abstentions. It was a frustrating debate, since my opponent, the unpleasant J.R. Taylor, spent much of his time arguing an entirely different point than I was arguing. His contention was, basically, that poetry did not matter anymore because it is no longer as popular as it once was. I agree that poetry is not as popular as it was 200 or even 40 years ago. My contention was that this was irrelevant -- if we cede our entire cultural identity to the entertainment choices of the majority, then pretty much all the arts are irrelevant except for movies, TV, pop music, and hip-hop. Is that the way we want to define ourselves as a people? I don't sit around thinking to myself, "Oh, I guess Arrested Development isn't that great a show after all...I mean, not that many people watch it." But my opponent never engaged in any debate on the point of whether poetry could matter in any other way than by a metric of popularity. The audience apparently felt that his definition of "mattering" was the meaningful one -- but why even have a debate if that's the yardstick by which we are measuring poetry? Is there anyone who could honestly say, oh, no, poetry is as popular as it ever was?
J.R. earned my animosity for many, many reasons, including constantly interrupting Rose when she was trying to ask a question, because she was my wife and therefore obviously hostile. He also made a smart remark at the end of my closing statement, apparently needing to have the last word in addition to insisting that the order of the debate be changed so that he could speak first. Some of the questions I got from the audience were pretty aggravating as well, including the one from a guy who got affronted that I described a modern poet as using proselike rhythms; he asked me to define poetry. I mean, god, we can't possibly discuss whether poetry is relevant unless we get into an idiotic semantic discussion about what poetry is, can we? What are we, stoned in someone's dorm room? All in all, a hellish experience I wish I had avoided.
Sadly, there will be no installment of "Six Things" today, because of lack of time. But it's for a cool reason -- I'll be leaving work early today to head over to WNYC to record some excerpts from Holy Tango for The Next Big Thing. And then, of course, it's over to the Lolita Bar for the debate.
But I hate to leave you with no cartoon, so here is a deleted scene from the deluxe DVD edition of yesterday's cartoon, cut in favor of panel 4 because it wasn't specifically enough about food (or buildings).
Saw two movies this weekend -- Sin City and Hitchhiker's Guide. Hitchhiker's Guide was quite enjoyable, albeit not brilliant. The pacing was a little wonky, some of the new bits didn't really work (Ford's interaction with his enormous ex-girlfriend seemed particularly gratuitous), and some of the truncated versions of old bits were noticeably not as good as they were originally. I mean, I don't mind jettisoning jokes for the sake of an adaptation -- it's not like I haven't heard the jokes before, after all -- but to bother including the exchange "The plans were on display," "On display? They were in the basement," and stop there without going on to the "beware of the leopard" bit is lame. (Equally aggravating, but in a different way: when Humma Kavula is preaching, he says "alliterative" when he means "onomatopoeic.")
That said, the casting was inspired all around, the Guide animations were excellent, most of the new bits worked, and when things clicked, they clicked really well. I was amused throughout, even if there are plenty of plot holes that could be retrospectively picked at.
So that was Sunday night. The way Saturday worked out, I had dinner by myself at the restaurant next to the theater (Circles) and Rose met me before "Sin City". And let me say, they really know how to make a solo diner feel welcome. To start with, no one noticed me after I came in the front door -- there was no one at the maitre d' station, and none of the waitpeople took any notice of me, even as I inched my way toward the dining room to make myself more obvious. Finally I walked into the dining room to try to get someone's attention. I got all the way across before a waitress asked, "Can I help you?"
"Yes, I'd like a table for one."
Now, I knew this would be a bit of a problem because they only had four-person tables available. Still, this wasn't really the prime dinner-eating hour, so it wouldn't have been the end of the world to seat me at one of them. Instead she took me toward the back room, which is a room I don't love since it isn't so well trafficked by the waitstaff, but I was willing to put up with it, since I wasn't going to require all that much attention. An individual pizza and a glass of wine and let me read, thank you, that will be all.
Anyway, before we got to the back, we were waylaid by another waitperson. He pulled my waitress aside and a whispered exchange ensued during which it was revealed that the back room was closed. "But he's ONLY ONE PERSON," my waitress hissed. "And I've only got fours!" After a third person consulted on this intractable problem, I was delivered to a table near the bar, where it may have been noisy and distracting for one who wanted to read, for all I know, but I put my MP3 player on.
So. Sin City. Amazing. This really is the first comic book adaptation I've seen that totally looks like a comic book. I haven't read the Sin City graphic novels, so I can't comment on the movie's success as an adaptation of its source material, but I'm quite familiar with Frank Miller's brand of grimness, and the movie skimped on it not at all. It's a violent, disturbing, sour movie that is visually exhilarating and absolutely gripping. I'd buy the DVD today if it were available.
From today's referral log: "Is Justine Bateman still alive?"
Yes, she is.
Tomorrow night at 8:00 I will be taking the "pro" side in a debate on the subject "Does Poetry Still Matter?", hosted by the Jinx Society downstairs at Lolita Bar (northeast corner of Broome and Allen on the Lower East Side, one block south and three west of the Delancey Street stop on the F train). My opponent will be J.R. Taylor of the New York Press, and I can only hope his preparations will be as last-minute as mine are proving to be. The debate is free and the drinks are whatever they cost. Questions will be taken from the audience (but not by force).
Being happily married is not always especially motivational when it comes to writing songs. Fortunately, I have a lifetime of romantic frustration and disappointment to draw upon! This is a song that I originally started writing quite some time ago, after an intense but brief relationship that didn't end so well, but that I didn't complete until now. It's called "About a Girl". (Yes, I know Nirvana has a song with the same title. I don't think anyone is going to mistake the two songs for each other.)