Thursday, August 27, 2009

It Looked Like This....But Real

This starts out ok but halfway through becomes amazing. Sublime, almost. That's the job I want to have: to stand behind the cutout of a cardboard bear and try to manipulate it so that it looks like it's really alive.

For some reason this reminded me intensely of my friend, Johannes. J, if you're out there: this is for you. [Via Andrew Sullivan]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

There Might Be A Rabbit in La Regle De Jeu

This short film by the Coen Brothers made me laugh out loud. It also made me want to see this movie, Climates. And by the way--for anyone wondering--there are actually dozens of rabbits in La Regle De Jeu. That's pretty much the source of its greatness, right there. The rabbits.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Post Which Starts Out With Me Trying To Be Funny But Ends Up With Me Just Being P*****

At some point during my first year of marriage, I originated a exciting coping technique, which I call “conversation retire.” (I know: it needs tuning. Let me know if you can think of something better). "Conversation retire" works pretty much like it sounds. Once a certain conversation topic has come up a certain number of times (43), without in any way drawing close to a resolution, either one of us is allowed to declare that that topic is, from that day forward, banned from public consumption. It has been “retired.” We could think about it; we just couldn’t talk about it.

Almost immediately, it proved a hit. Gone for good were the most emotionally agitating (and dialectically unsatisfying) of our conversations. For example: Angelina Jolie. My wife, as it turns out, has a LOT of anger towards Angelina Jolie. Probably, she should. I don’t know. But I have now heard about the many faces of Angelina Jolie’s evil enough times to be able to recite them all by heart. Even worse, despite how frequently it comes up, the subject STILL sends my wife into something approaching a frenzy. So, in the interest of the common good, I’ve had to have it banned.

Other topics that we’ve decided to ban include: Oprah Winfrey (Who, Even Though She May Not Be As Evil As A********* J****, Is, in Reality, MUCH Worse than Certain Na├»ve Unknowing Husbands Might Suspect); Felipe, Our Ex-Housepainter, And How Stupid We Were Not To Have Done A Last Inspection Of Our In-Fact-Badly-Painted House Before We Paid Him; The Unbelievable Gall of Certain Friends of My Wife Who Never Bought Us A Wedding Present (Despite The Fact That Some Were Actually Members of The BRIDAL PARTY); Jon and Kate Gosselin, Relationship and Parenting Skills Thereof; Hugh Hefner, Relationship and Business Acumen Thereof; and, finally, above all else, THE TOPIC—the one for which the whole idea of ‘retiring’ conversations was originated…Michael Vick. More specifically: How Michael Vick, As Punishment For His Crimes, Deserves the Death Penalty.

Ok, now understand. I don’t like Michael Vick. I didn’t like him before the dogfighting stuff came out. I like him less now. He’s a terrible person, and deserves to be permanently banned from public life. But I don’t think he should be put to death. And my wife, hyperbole aside, actually did. And does.

This ended up becoming a long-running debate. Her side of the argument was that after he got out of jail, he would re-sign with another team, make a lot of money playing football and eventually be totally rehabilitated. In a few years, it would all be forgotten; therefore to make sure that didn't happen, he should be executed. Really.

My argument was that it wasn't necessary. Even before the dogfighting stuff, Vick was on the way down. He was never better than a second-tier quarterback. He couldn’t pass; he wasn’t a great leader; he wasn’t well-liked. Add to that the massive public outcry that would greet any team crazy enough to sign him, and there was no way—NO WAY, I explained (in the Knowledgeable, Man-Who-Understands Sports voice I trot out from time to time)—that he would ever play again in the NFL.

You all know what happened. Somehow—stunningly—my vast insight into the mechanisms of pro football has proven insufficient. Vick’s been given one more chance. My wife, it saddens me to say, was totally 100% right. (Which suggests, by the way, that Angelina Jolie lives entirely on the blood of slaughtered kittens). It makes me sad. It makes me angry. It makes me want to root against the Eagles.

I started this thinking I’d write a funny post about the travails of marriage. Now, though, I’ve become upset. I was grouchy (well, grouchier) all last week because the Bink was going through some sort of unhappy emotional phase (it manifested itself in a lot of mean-spirited growling and excess barking). Literally 1/3 of my waking involves me worrying in some way about his happiness. And I don’t even like animals! Meanwhile, Michael Vick is charging money so people can come watch dogs fight to the death!? I mean…what the bleep is that?

I guess no one deserves to be punished forever, but somehow this seems to have all gone away so fast. I just feel like somehow there is something deeply wrong with Vick. Anyone who would willingly inflict pain upon something innocent and helpless is profoundly broken. And two years in jail is not enough. The death penalty may be too much. But this.... This is not enough. It can't be. It just can't.

What a great guy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Review

I have a new review up over at The Second Pass. Here's an excerpt:
It is hard to explain why the American, except in his exhortatory and passionately argumentative moods, has not struck deep into American life, why his stories and verses are, for the most part, only pretty things, nicely unimportant. Anthony Trollope had a theory that the absence of international copyright threw our market open too unrestrictedly to the British product, that the American novel was an unprotected infant industry; we printed Dickens and the rest without paying royalty and starved the domestic manufacturer. This theory does not explain.
Wait a second. No. That's not right. My review is of a book called The Magicians. It's about, uhm, Magicians. College age kids. Anyway, read it. What else do you have to do?

(The above quote, by the way, comes from "American Literature" an essay written in 1921 by John Macy).

Friday, August 7, 2009

It's Coming

My friend Dez, over at GNABB, has just finished compiling a list of his "Top Fifty Movies of All Time."  It's got me thinking.  It's got me inspired.  It's got me riled.  And so, my fellow readers, be prepared.  Soon, I too will have a list.  Magnificent and shining it will be as a beacon, giving light succor to the blighted citizens of our weak and weary world.

Probably it will feature The Muppets.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Name That Tune

The following is excerpted from a classic work of literature.  My challenge: can you identify the book in question?  It's one I believe many of my readers have read.  It was written in the last 150 years, in English, and continues to be read to this day.  I've removed all proper names, so as not to give it all away.

By the way, in case it's not clear: the passage opens with someone speaking.
`And you, you will come too, young brother; for the days pass, and never return, and the South still waits for you. Take the Adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!' 'Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new! Then some day, some day long hence, jog home here if you will, when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, and sit down by your quiet river with a store of goodly memories for company. You can easily overtake me on the road, for you are young, and I am ageing and go softly. I will linger, and look back; and at last I will surely see you coming, eager and light- hearted, with all the South in your face!'

The voice died away and ceased as an insect's tiny trumpet dwindles swiftly into silence; and _____, paralysed and staring, saw at last but a distant speck on the white surface of the road.

Mechanically he rose and proceeded to repack the luncheon-basket, carefully and without haste. Mechanically he returned home, gathered together a few small necessaries and special treasures he was fond of, and put them in a satchel; acting with slow deliberation, moving about the room like a sleep-walker; listening ever with parted lips. He swung the satchel over his shoulder, carefully selected a stout stick for his wayfaring, and with no haste, but with no hesitation at all, he stepped across the threshold just as ____ appeared at the door.

`Why, where are you off to, ___?' asked ___ in great surprise, grasping him by the arm.

`Going South, with the rest of them,' murmured ___ in a dreamy monotone, never looking at him. `Seawards first and then on shipboard, and so to the shores that are calling me!'

He pressed resolutely forward, still without haste, but with dogged fixity of purpose; but ___, now thoroughly alarmed, placed himself in front of him, and looking into his eyes saw that they were glazed and set and turned a streaked and shifting grey--not his friend's eyes, but the eyes of some other animal! Grappling with him strongly he dragged him inside, threw him down, and held him.

___ struggled desperately for a few moments, and then his strength seemed suddenly to leave him, and he lay still and exhausted, with closed eyes, trembling. Presently ___ assisted him to rise and placed him in a chair, where he sat collapsed and shrunken into himself, his body shaken by a violent shivering, passing in time into an hysterical fit of dry sobbing.