Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Over the Weekend

I was introduced to my brother's girlfriend's co-worker, an attractive and friendly 28 year old from Dallas. Not five minutes after the introduction, some guy who knew somebody in the group we were hanging around comes up to me and says "I got a mission for you, Brian (he mixed up me and my brother's names a number of times)."
"Whatever. I want you to stop acting so nervous and start talking to ever girl here but that one." He pointed to our co-worker. "Then, talk to her like it's no big deal. When you're fucking her at the end of the night, you'll have me to thank."
This struck me as a faux pas. What if I had come out and said "Pardon me, that's my sister," or "Sorry, friend, I'm gay." I imagine he'd have been red-faced then. Or, what if I said, "Already did last night, bitch-ass..." I really can't tell which one was on this fellow's level.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday, May something or other


This site was launched by a group that Bill O'Reilly compared to the Nazi propogandist Joseph Goebbels. He also said that Amnesty International is a far left group that has recently declared war on America. I guess that turns quite a few Americans into traitors. He also called the ACLU a terrorist organization. Nuance, I guess, is treason to O'Reilly. I actually think Fox News is great, because it's where uneducated Americans get their news, and they are heartened to see supposed upper class people agreeing with them. These people clearly need a pick-me-up from time to time. It's really no use complaining about O'Reilly and Hannity and Asman (who this week referred to the Republican party as "We"). When a war is started and it's proponents start screaming "Holy shit the sky is falling we're surrounded by traitors," maybe you shouldn't pay much attention to them. But, like I said, this is where people who think Aristotle was a pussy listen for their opinions. Clearly, it's no different for Rush Limbaugh. I had a friend who said I should listen to Limbaugh because I would like some things he said, and to this day I can't tell if he was being facetious or not. These types who listen to Limbaugh are deluded anyhow, into thinking that white males are endangered in this country, that there's some vast conspiracy within the United States, full of treasonous homosexuals and liberals, vying to take the country down. Please. So does it count as a meta-joke when the joketellers (Limbaugh, O'Reilly, their supporters) aren't aware that they're telling a joke? Or is that what makes it a meta-joke in the first place? And is meta-joke the greatest, dumbest non-word ever created?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Right next to Krplakistan in terms of Eastern European dictatorships is Uzbekistan. However, this came as news to me. Not because I didn't know that there were protests against the authoritarian government, or that the president is a dictator, but that this many people died, and I didn't hear about it on CNN or Fox. It was mentioned (that there had been violence), but in today's war on terrorism, shouldn't this be HUGE FUCKING news? That a government is visibly and violently keeping down pro-democracy demonstrators? That the Democrats aren't yelling about this and the genocide in Africa is maddening - but they are fighting over the filibuster. Would they score more points by dropping the filibuster fight and taking up the cause of freedom for people throughout world?

Apparently Arrested Development has been re-newed for a third season, and this comes as great news. I hope it finally picks up a viewership like Seinfeld, as it is the best show since. I've been disappointed with the new episodes of the Family Guy, but not that disappointed. I never thought it was the funniest show on television, or that it ever (as has been said by certain people I know) rivaled the Simpsons. The "Like that one time when we were in Hazzard county..."-type jokes get old quickly. The writers for the Simpsons could tell a funny story but keep it going without getting sidetracked trying too hard to get laughs. It seems like Family Guy lately has just taken to out and out plagiarizing scenes from movies and tv shows (Indiana Jones, North by Northwest) and trying to get laughs just by showing it in the context of a cartoon. There are still funny scenes and everything, and funny, edgy shows should always have a place in the wasteland of network tv, but I've been disappointed by Family Guy.

Monday, May 16, 2005

May... what the hell's the date anyway

I've been writing a lot to prepare for the creative writing program at SIU. I have two months to bolster my portfolio (and by portfolio I mean all of the two hundred odd pages of first draft-Word documents that have not been erased through acts of (self-inflicted) malice or weather), so hopefully I'll add a hundred or so pages - and this isn't much, really, if I write 2-5 pages a day as I plan. The problem is when you're writing creative fiction, you really can't read creative fiction - otherwise I'll find that me and Saul Bellow write with much the same style and conviction in spite of his jewishness and my agnosticism. So, I have to read a lot of nonfiction, so as to keep the wheels turning. The hard part for me is to stay focused on my story, when I'm writing it - otherwise something that I think is clever may just take over and take the story in the direction of a shitty-sitcom. I have to force myself to be serious (but not maudlin) and avoid trying to be witty (I'm not saying I'm succesful at wit, either) some times. I was curious to see what writing styles were being employed at SIU so I checked their literary review (here) and if the cover photo didn't keep you from making a negative value judgement about the work as a whole, you're not alone.
Anyway, the poetry was pretty good - I was surprised. Most poetry written at this age is either entirely too mannered or personal or shite (you mean you used the same rhyme... for the whole thing?), but the stuff here is pretty alright. As for the fiction... I do hope it was written mostly by undergrads, because no one cares to read about someone's barely fictionalized break-up stories. And you know what? "Salsa kisses?" not all that creative a title. Sorry. Christ, I'm gonna get torn to pieces by these kids when I go there, aren't I?
It's not even a matter of writing one barely fictionalized break-up account, it's that most of them are like this, and most of them are self-pitying, sad-bastard, listen-to-OK-Computer-when-I'm-pining bullshit stories. So the good news is I won't be entirely out of place, then.
The story that should bring shame upon it's writer though, was the genre piece. My brother, another product of the english program of Marquette, was talking about Prof. Hribel and how every year he outlaws genre-writing in his writing workshop. I first thought that may be a little harsh, but seriously, you must experience genre writing firsthand to understand how awful it is. By genre-writing, I mean people like Raymond Chandler and Ray Bradbury and, I suppose, John Grisham and Dan Brown could be included there, as well. This is to say, the plot supercedes character (and character development, of course), style, and theme in terms of importance. (That is not the standard definition, I'm sure, but it's what I see it as). Almost always, the result is shitty prose. If you think the best writer in the world today is Dan Brown, you are an idiot. Interesting, sure - I especially like how he pissed off people with a 5th grade understanding of religion - but his writing is truly awful. Anyhow, the genre story in the mag is a heinous piece about an archeoligist who is chasing a stone that made it's discoverer go insane (I'm murky about the details, as I had to stop reading). How do I treat something like this equitably if it comes up in the workshop? There's no way I can tell the person to continue writing it - Brown, Grisham, Michael Connelly - they can be considered to have a certain level of expertise in their fields. A 20-odd year old has no such experience, no matter how many movies and books he or she has seen to this end - the story will go nowhere (unless I am overrating the average American reader, and judging by the success of certain books in this country, I am). It will not get published. Certainly, I have a minute chance of being published, as well, at this age or any time in the near future, as well, but I am trying to write what I know with some embellishments.

Another note - our president lied about the diplomatic effort at peace before he blew Iraq to pieces. There is no disputing this, and so it becomes evident that he acted, knowingly, in spite of evidence damning his case for war. Isn't this a war crime? And isn't he directly responsible, then, for the deaths of Iraqi civilians and American troops because of how unprepared his occupying force was in the aftermath of the war? I'll remind you again that Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000. I'll also remind people that they said they were relieved to have Bush in office on Sept. 11th, and glad we had a president who wasn't afraid to act in terms of war. He misled the public about Sept. 11th to justify his war, and the war itself has failed thus far because of egregious errors made by people he put in place. So what exactly is relieving about having him in office now? I remember when at the start of the way, when pro-war people said I was supporting Saddam Hussein by opposing the war, when I said the reason I was against was because this administration had no understanding of the Muslim world, because they could blow shit up but didn't know dick about re-building, and because they'd be more interested in payoffs for their cronies than about true democracy. With the millions (if not billions) skimmed out of the rebuilding efforts by Halliburton (formerly chaired by Dick Cheney) and the various reports of ridiculously large amounts of money simply gone missing, I'll take this opportunity to tell those of you who said these things to me, I fucking told you so. Where's my apology?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Jim Rome is BURNING

I think Jim Rome is hilarious, but not because of anything he does intentionally. I remember a quote from Noam Chomsky that Americans are not stupid, just easily distracted. With the facts any red-blooded male can rattle off about baseball, football, or even pro wrestling, how easily could this mental energy be converted towards following international politics or philosophy?

Perhaps Chomsky was wrong. I'm starting to think he was. I think people don't want to think about things like that, and so let themselves be distracted. This isn't a country with a collective case of ADD - it's a country in the stages of a deep depression. This is why pop-culture spewing wanks like Jonah Goldberg annoy me so much - being up to date in who is dick-deep in Paula Abdul or some ten year old boy at the Neverland Ranch is more important than who is dying in Sudan or Congo, or Iraq. I wonder how Bush or Cheney would hold up to a group of adversarial youths in a town-meeting session, like Blair was in Britain. We'd never do that, because it's unpleasant to see someone of substance go through that if it's not done in the hatchet-job medium of news journalism.

Watch the news and then watch Sportscenter. Is there really that much difference between them? The gravity of the subject, the importance of the subject matter?

Rome is hilarious because of his hot-shit attitude and self-congratulating smirk after calling out Mark McGwire for steroid use. He's so proud of his work, he's a latter day Upton Sinclair. What's the difference between him and his gravitas and that of Sean Hannity or any other news media schlub? What's the point in having ANY of them around unless they serve the role of distraction?

I guess it's moot, many people complain about the shallowness of the media. I needed something to do, though.