Sunday, April 13, 2003

THE LONG GOODBYE You can visit the antic muse here.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

HAVE STRUCK GOLD Well, MT is up and running and I didn't even have to post any pictures of my dog.

Hope to see you all at on Monday.
LONG TIME NO SEE I apologize for the conspicuous absence, folks. What with history being made and all, I doubt if there was much interest in what goes on in Ballston, anyway.

The reason for my disappearing act actually has to do with a reappearing act: Soon (Monday?) I'll be moving to my very own domain (, running MT like a good little blogger and everything. Well, that's the hope.

I am actually in the process of trying to install MT and making what I think are fairly stupid mistakes. If there's anyone in the reading audience that has some expertise in this area, I extend an Corner-style invitation to email with suggestions. (Jesus, next thing you know, I'll be selling T-shirts with pictures of my dog on them.)

Back to the code mines,
The Muse

Monday, April 07, 2003

YOU'VE GOT TO BE PULITZERING MY LEG! Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post has won this year's Pulitzer Prize in criticism for "his authoritative film criticism that is both intellectually rewarding and a pleasure to read."

Let's unpack that, shall we?

"Authoritative." Well, he does seem to have a handle on the mechanics of the art form:

It's an almost perfectly structured story, which puts it miles beyond modern moviemaking. It actually has -- kids, don't panic, you can handle this! -- a plot. Lots of plot. Lots and lots of plot. ("Sweet, Sweet Revenge; 'The Count of Monte Cristo' Thrusts and Parries With the Best of Them")

There's not a lot of plot , just as -- have you noticed? -- in life. Plot is for movies that are about, uh, plot. ("'About Schmidt': Sublimely Ordinary")

Of plot , there's not a lot. Indeed, the few pleasures in "Mr. Deeds" are entirely incidental to star and plot. ("Adam Sandler, A 'Mr. Deeds' Gone Lame")

Tell me you don't want plot. You don't, do you? You do. Ach. ("The One Ring, The True Sword")

"Intellectually rewarding." There's no doubt he has a way with words. Or, er, "word.":

He has no self-doubts, he has no irony, he is charmingly, aggressively superficial, and success just, duh!, happens to him. ("'Adaptation': Tweaking Reality")

Liu plays Sever, some kind of Asian super-agent, evidently recruited to the America DIA, a play on -- duh ! -- CIA, evidently betrayed by her own recruiters and now gone rogue. ("Goosey Lucy: 'Ballistic,' a Lot of Noisy Dumdum")

When his sister's daughter was born, he -- in a fit of actual pretending to be a man -- promised to pay her way through college if she got into a good one. Well, she got into Harvard. . . now, obligated again to pretend to be a man, he has to -- the movie treats this as some incredible, wacky craziness -- keep his word! Like, duh! ("'Stealing Harvard': Magna Cum Lousy")

[T]he relationship between the swimmer and his coach (Dan Hedaya, the only name actor in the cast), it just falls flat. "You've got to swim faster, son!" the coach barks. Duh! ("Director Saves 'Swimfan' From Drowning")

Soon enough, they're sharing trysts in the storage room and the no-tell motel down the street (she puts it on her credit card -- duh!), and the journey from sexual liberation to catastrophe is just a minute or two. ("'Girl': Too-Simple Tryst of Fate")

[U]nexpectedly, we're in plantation-house, kudzu-cloaked Mississippi, where for unfathomable reasons Ellie has sent Porter with the recently separated and distraught Mona, and duh!, guess what happens? ("'Town & Country': Unbearably Rich")

As for "a pleasure to read," well, something about the endeavor is pleasurable for somebody:

She made a great Beelzeboobs -- oh, folks, a typo, a typo! of course I mean Beelzebub! -- in "Bedazzled. ("'Sara': Serving Up Plenty of Chemistry")

Diaz, who is 29 and plays a 28-year-old but acts a consistent decade younger than that, plays Christina Walters, a serial relationship-terminator, who loves to play in the clubs of Frisco, but never for keeps, never for real. She has a problem. Dear Carolyn, I love handsome men, but I can't commit, yours, Leggy by the Bay. Dear Leggy, for a good time, call Steve Hunter at The Washington Post . . . no, no, let's be serious. ("Sugar Cookie; She Can't Act, but So What? Cameron Diaz Is Most Definitely 'The Sweetest Thing.'")

That's all these kids think about: sexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsex. Life is a copulation-o-rama, a whirl on the orgasm-go-round, a bodily-fluid exchange sock hop. Can they get that much sex? Can there be that much sex to be gotten? Where's my Viagra? This bears investigating. ("'40 Days': Only One Thing on Its Mind")

Friday, April 04, 2003

THE COMMENTARIAT REACTS With the left losing so often these days, why do we let the right dominate the debates we can win? Instablogger pointed a thousand browsers to the Indymedia site, and now the comment board looks like

Now more than ever, folks: Let them know, as I posted, "this is not the left I signed up for":

I'm no friend or fan of Michael Kelly's, either, but calling him a "Nazi" just gives the folks at Instapundit (as a opposed to the "folks at Indymedia") a chance to prove to themselves that they're right about the left. The comments thusfar (20 in the last 30 minutes or so) tend toward "Little Green Footballs" knee-jerk jackhammering (an incomprehensible favorite: "I only hope that San Francisco is conquered by the satanic Saracens. Then you can enjoy as the the real Nazi-Arabian beasts teach you how to practice human sacrafice, bloodlust and how to worship Satan/Allah.").

This is not debate. This is not, to paraphrase protesters, "what democracy looks like." This is just dumb.

I can only hope that this board is swamped by more than just ugly comments from justifiably enraged right-wingers -- who no doubt will be calling the talk radio shows tomorrow to brandish this as an example of the left's "anti-Americanism." I hope more people like me -- Nader-voting, national-health-care-supporting, card-carrying ACLU feminists -- weigh in with our justifiable outrage. You aren't the left, Indymedia, we are.
ANY POLITICAL MOVEMENT THAT WOULD HAVE THEM AS A MEMBER Michael Kelly was not my friend. I think I met him once, as most journalists in DC tend to meet each other once. I disagreed with most of what he wrote and thought that The Atlantic's renaissance was perhaps over-appreciated. (Any magazine with David Brooks as a regular columnist can't be doing everything right.)

But he was a good reporter, by all accounts a decent fellow, and a father. Unless the folks at Indymedia can dig up a photo of him yakking it up with Goebbels, I'm afraid that their irresponsible, juvenile tagline to the news of his death:

WP Nazi columnist bites the Iraqi dust

is more than just petty, mean, and wrong, it's a sign of the End of the Left As We Know It. Or it should be. Who are these fucks? If they're what passes for "a viable alternative to corporate media's profit-driven agenda," then I'm going to buy stock in Clear Channel and start writing crawl jokes for Fox News.

I was going to call for anyone out there who cares to not give these kids any more attention than they deserve, but I figure that they consider lack of response to be business as usual by the corporate infotainment-industrial complex. So post on their bulletin board, give them a hard time, and -- especially if you're a liberal/left/progressive/Democrat/libertarian whatever -- let them know they aren't allowed to come the meetings anymore.
GRATUITOUS SELF-PROMOTION For me, the lasting lesson of the Eggers empire has been that if you call attention to your own short-comings, particularly in a knowing, pop-cult-conscious way, then it's ok.

So it both without shame and with a great deal of expectation that I call your attention to this piece in Slate, which mentions yours truly (twice!) in connection with the Eggers phenomenon/cultural tsunami that is the McSweeney's publishing empire.

I especially like it that there's no appositive explaination of who, exactly, I am. (You should just know!) I especially, especially am pleased to be associated with both the "good," "early" McSweeney's (before they sold out, man) and with the "bad," "over-self-conscious" (is there such a thing?) McSweeney's.

Is this why Dave stopped asking me to write? I actually suspect that it might have more to do with my beloved's singular pan of A Staggering Work of Over-Praised Genius. Or, you know, "Rick Moody" just looks better in a TOC. Or I just wasn't very good. Also a possibility!

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

"MARGE, IT TAKES TWO TO LIE. ONE TO LIE AND ONE TO LISTEN" Halliburton withdraws from the "invitation-only" bidding process to rebuild Iraq--they will continue to compete for secondary contracts, however. Leave it to our Simpson's quote machine to turn this marginally good news into a Homeric verbal pratfall:

I mean who cares if Halliburton works on reconstruction? Aside from symbolism, there's absolutely nothing disturbing or unpleasent about the idea.

"Aside from symbolism," indeed. I guess if you consider Halliburton pocketing millions in what would amount to an influence-peddling scheme as just a symbol for "one hand washing the other," rather than, oh, I don't know, one hand actually paying off the other.

But still, I wouldn't call it "disturbing or unpleasant" either. To cite another comedy eminence, The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert, the proper term for this may be "oh-Christ-just-when-I-was-about-to-buy-their-line-of-crap-ical."