Sunday, January 22, 2006

a minor mot

A friend sent me a link to a post complaining about how left wing college campuses are, and I replied:

And yet the indoctrination doesn’t seem to be working even though I hand out inflatable Hillary dolls to the students who best vomit out what I stick down their throats with all the violent love of a mother bird. I need to call a meeting of the conspiracy *right now.*

I mean, we have trouble teaching them to walk upright, and you think we are going to be able to teach them to revolt?

Monday, January 16, 2006

But During the Commercials Time Seemed to Stand Still

Just out of curiosity and since it's a holiday weekend and meant for laziness, intellectual and otherwise, I watched the first installment of the current season of '24,' which must be a success; otherwise, it wouldn't be having a current season.

I have read in the comments of many critics -- or many times in the criticism of the Chronicle's Tim Goodman -- that the artificiality of the "real time" gimmick is irritating. Apparently, Goodman often, or many other critics at least once, find their enjoyment spoiled because if you pull out your stop watch and your yellow legal pad and draw on your Bayesian sense of the nature of reality, then you just can't keep from thinking how the time frame falls short of verisimilitude: Too many events stuffed into an unelastic 60 minutes and how, as a result, we fret.

Pretty stupid criticism -- though an easy one and god knows anyone who writes for newspapers is dry-mouthed and thus in danger of losing focus as the minutes drag on before that first martini -- because in a universe where violent and hectic events of the kind apparently featured in '24' go on, my disbelief better already be dangling a hundred feet up and hoisting it up another six inches to encompass the time frame is no effort at all.

Also, you know, this approach to narrative has a pedigree. I do not recall this of all detective novels I have read, or even most, but I certainly do recall of some detective novels that moving the detective from clue to hectic clue over a space of 24 to 36 hours is part of the charm. The detective only lies down to rest if he's beaten up.

If I were to go out to our storage shed and pull down all those water-stained Ross McDonald novels that gave me so much pleasure 30 years ago, I could find an example or two of the "momentum moment" where the detective starts running after the solution, sometimes showing up just in time to find a warm body, which discovery sends him on on on with a growing sense of urgency to more places and more clues.

I don't recall a novel in which that characterizes the entire novel, but why not? In those episodes where the story gets moving I don't recall ever pulling out a LA street map and trying to calculate if you can get from Tarzana to Pasadena that quickly. I am not thinking that I will continue with '24' because I have work to do and I need to save my TV time for the NFL and NCAA basketball, but if I had the time in my own 24 hours, accepting the happy fiction of so much happening in so little time is a worthwhile sacrifice if it enables us to get on with the story.

Goodman says it worries him that he never sees Jack Bauer urinate. The show''s POV is not confined to Jack. So I assume he has a strong bladder and/or an innate modesty. That's backstory, right? in a show that, I concede, might need some.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mama? Where's Mama?

Sharing thoughts on being 60 with a similarly inconvenienced friend, it occured to me that even though 60 is the new 50 and 70 is the new 60, 75 is the new 18 months -- staggering rather than walking, slobbering while eating and wandering out into the backyard and crying out in loss and confusion.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kind of a Movable Feast, You Know?

Saudi officials say 345 killed in stampede at Mecca.

So the Running of the Mullahs succeeds the Running of the Bullahs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Smith, Johnson, Williams...

Robertson is the 147th most common surname in the United States, right between Rice and Hunt. It does not seem to be the imprimatur of greatness for which I blame the dourness of the original Scots, the poverty of the Scotch-Irish who managed to be thrown out of two countries and the beauty of the Appalachian mountains where so many Scotch-Irish settled. Those green mountains, noble without being monumental, are a diversion from the urge to greatness, that and the fact if you stay deep back up in the hollows the prospect of marrying your first cousin is always at hand, somewhere between a temptation and a family tradition.

When I was a teenager, friends tried to insult me by suggesting the great basketball player Oscar Robertson was a blood relative to which I would answer I hope so. Of course, for some years now, given my accent and my big round face, some people have assumed that I must be related to Pat Robertson, the television evangelist.

I'm not. But whenever he suggests God is punishing or about to punish something or somebody -- Dover, Pennsylvania, for not embracing Biblical literalism in its biology classes; Ariel Sharon for refusing to expel the Palestinians and satisfy some nuance of Biblical prophecy -- I cringe.

My dad used to say that he had no interest in genealogy because the word around the family was that somewhere around 1900 there was an outbreak of illegitimacy in the male line back there in the piney woods.

I take comfort in that penumbra of bastardy. Better to be related to a rogue than a fool.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

All the Best Ones Have Been Semites

We have Sirius satellite radio in the car because we couldn't get the color and the side airbags without taking the radio so we took the radio. I did not subscribe to the service for over a year because we have two NPR stations here in the Bay Area, and those two were keeping me quite happy during my commute -- which is only three days a week, four tops -- so why pay for what seemed to be 80 channels of music I dislike?

(I wish I liked at least some contemporary music. But if it wasn't written by dead people, particularly dead black Americans or dead white Europeans, I really have very little interest, very little.)

But my sister and her husband were coming to town and more or less to show off I subscribed and discovered it is worth $13 a month. A good jazz station. A couple good classical stations. Four NPR stations, plus 24 hours of BBC news. I judge it cost effective.

I did not subscribe because Howard Stern was on his way. Yesterday he arrived. I was in the car in the middle of the afternoon, and -- as a student of the culture might -- tuned to Howard 100. A group of what I guessed were acolytes were doing a roundtable on Howard's first show, rehashing it, spreading the kudos, taking phone calls from fans who found it all rather and pretty generally awesome.

And I thought. If it's a few hours of Howard and many more hours of studying the sacred texts, though in general simply regurgitating the sacred texts for they resist both paraphrase and exegesis, I think what we are experiencing here is an L. Ron Hubbard moment.

At some point down the road will they hide the body or will there be a resurrection, which should be quite possible as we move into a future of virtual everything.

In the beginning were the words, and the words were Howard and Howard was the words. And I was there.

Almost. If not at the beginning at least at the roundtable.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Laziness of the Long-Distance Blogger

This 15-minute limitation I have placed on myself is a burden because I like to tweak what I write, minutes or even hours afterward. I think I like the process as much as I like the result, though that may also be a definition of masturbation.

Anyway, that propensity for retouching violates the limits I have place on this blog -- and it is not in the spirit of the blogosphere where Often Wrong But Never in Doubt and Never Repent and Seldom Correct seems to be what brings in the customers.

So I did the big lazy of posting a photograph. No need to come back to it and tweak. And now I do the bigger lazy of suggesting that my two readers -- three if you count the NSA data spider -- participate in a caption contest for Mr. Daugherty.

Here's my caption:

Nude Offending a Staircase.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Our Friend Patrick Daugherty is a Good Sport

The game is called charades. The thing to be guessed was the novel and movie Scaramouche. If you thought In the Belly of the Beast you were wrong. Posted by Picasa