Friday, July 30, 2010

just some random, disconnected crap, all of it regarding movies

I watched Hostel: Part II today. Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that these Hostel movies, at least the ones I've seen, are not gratuitous*—by which I mean that they are ultimately "interesting" on one level or another and do not in fact deserve the "torture porn" moniker they've received: they aren't porn, they're movies. Sick fucking crazy movies, yes, but movies all the same: stories, ideas, interesting shit.  The Human Centipede, on the other hand, is fucking gratuitous, like the definition of gratuitous, and is a kind of porn: in fact when watching it I couldn't help but feel (unfairly, unfairly) that the creator of this bizarre movie was basically just filming a fantasy he had.  The Human Centipede is not "interesting"; The Human Centipede is just fucked up.†

[IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm not really saying that the Hostel movies are good, exactly, or that anyone should see them—to be clear.]

Sick but not pornography.‡

I watched Halloween again yesterday—not Rob Zombie's (basically very stupid) remake, but John Carpenter's amazing original. People, Halloween is, just as my writing partner had insisted to me, an amazing movie! Friday the 13th is a trashy rip-off. Halloween is—you know what? I'm going to go ahead and say that it is a good movie (despite the fact that some of the acting is, for want of a better descriptor, porn acting§).

[I tickled myself by imagining my analyst—whom I left behind when I moved to L.A.—following me across the country and searching for me like Loomis.  I should probably talk to my analyst about this fantasy.]

Mikey likes it!

Inception, predictably enough, is not as good as a lot of people said it was and is much better than some people said it was. Christopher Nolan's a smart cookie. For me the main reference point is more Memento than The Dark Knight.

No picture for you. Ah, hell. Here you go.

Yes, yes, Marion, you're very pretty, we get it.

I saw Resident Evil again the other day on TV. I forgot that you get to see Milla Jovovich's pubic hair. (Dear God. I've turned into my dad.) When I saw that movie, the thing with those lasers blew me away. What came first, Resident Evil or Cube? I AM UNWILLING TO CHECK.

Google Image Search: "cube film"

In conclusion, it's funny to refer to movies as "talkies."

* Well, the thing with the eye in the first one was gratuitous.
First Sequence. I'm talking about First Sequence, here. Don't want to confuse anybody about the sequences.
‡ I mean this differently, the word pornography, from the way I mean it here. Here I'm talking specifically about what, in the above context, you might refer to, strangely, as "sex porn."
§ Porn again. This time this kind.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27

Let's get autobioey.


     So let's say, hypothetically speaking, that I stay with [then-girlfriend] through college and live with her and then after a few years ask her to marry me and marry her. Let's just say. I asked my Magic 8-Ball in a moment of extreme silliness whether I'd end up marrying [her], and it told me to ask again later, which I thought was easily the most appropriate answer a useless toy reeking of careless superstition could have given such a silly young-love question. I was very pleased. My foolishness was vindicated by authorless humor and literary justice. I asked it again later, though, as in a few days ago, whether I'd stay with [her] through college, and it said that the outlook looked good, or something along those lines.
     So let's just say. What are the objections? The life of a bachelor. Countless sexual encounters with countless women. Or perhaps not countless, but distinctly plural. To be honest, that doesn't concern me. Empty encounters are just that—empty—and really pale when compared the prospect [sic] of an actual true love. As I learned in "Fox Trot," giving up something good for an abstract notion of what's supposed to be done is one of the dumbest and easiest mistakes to make, fitting in nicely with some of the pseudophilosophy I spewed back in the summer of 1992, about "missing the point," which I'm not sure but I probably wrote with a capital M and P.  When the older son (Peter?) broke up with his girlfriend, Denise, saying that he thought he needed to see other girls, his mother led him Plato-like to the realization that his motives were nonsensical. "You have to date lots of people," was something like what this comic strip character said earnestly to his comic strip mother, "so eventually you can meet somebody Right," and the realization he was supposed to have had was that his sole motive for breaking up with Denise was this, and but she was Right, or something. My dad (and I) would point out that his faulty logic was less significant than the fact that he wanted to break up with her, and it was probably just justification for a nonlogical but equally valid desire just not to be going out with her anymore, but fuck the psychologist and his son, right? I hated the Fox Trot strips that had morals. Nevertheless, this particular moral sort of stuck with me. What if [then-girlfriend]'s right for me, and I for her? Why arbitrarily decide I need other women?
     Well, objection 2, then. The life of the single guy, bachelorhood aside, is important. This I have trouble refuting. Living alone, traveling with friends to some other country with really not nearly enough money—that sort of thing. Am I going to give myself up to another person wholly before experiencing what it means not to have given myself up? It's a surrender, isn't it? Perhaps an escape from individualism? And but if we're still expected to find someone and get married, which we are, convention-bashing aside, then how can you really justify saying that you should just put off the surrender? It's all very arbitrary. And yes, it's good to find yourself or something before getting married, but when do you decide you've found yourself?
     I admit also that I can easily see myself going for decades without a mate of any permanence and then when the time comes that I feel I'm ready to get married find that the best women, the ones who really seem to be right for me, have already gotten married. Not that I feel I must get married, but in some ways I really do believe that I'm more objective now than I'd be as a thirty-year-old unmarried guy, just because then there'd be some urgency. As much as it's true that I never have to get married, I have to even less now than I will then. How horribly I just mangled that infinitive. We must carry on.
     When I call [then-girlfriend] my girlfriend, I become confused. "Girlfriend" is not an appropriate term. It is too restrictive, too dismissive... Grigory is bothered sometimes by the fact that language has all its meanings and connotations already laid out, and he says this means that you can never really write anything original, because each word you're using has so much attached to it. Grigory gets bothered by lots of abstract things. That's the curse of the brilliant: dull-minded types do not, I think, spend large amounts of time worrying about their significance in the Universe. But as for language, "girlfriend" is a perfect example. "She's my girlfriend." I have not said a thing, but have rather stuck myself into the prewritten history of everyone's life.
     I think I've got a budding wart on my hand. Either that or skin cancer.

You shouldn't masturbate while in the shower,
for you'll feel dirty for at least an hour.


     A fissure, a break, a shift, a degradation(?).
     Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. Bullshit.
     The problem is that I dealt [with getting dumped by girl discussed above] by not dealing, is what it's looking like to me, so now it's coming in installments, like I'm buying a house. Like my college tuition. I want[ed] very much to evade depression, that directionless fall, but it's simply more complicated than evading depression, which (it turns out) is just Charybdis, Scylla writing right behind me. Maybe I should learn how to write.
     The problem is that my narrative has not yet changed back: I'm still addressing [her]. Every realization, every emotion, everything—all of it I need to tell her, or am thinking as though my thoughts were to be reviewed by her. But that's not exactly it. An example: I'll realize that I shouldn't be turning to her anymore to discuss these things, that to try "to work things out" is treating the break-up as part of the relationship when in fact it signifies the termination of the relationship... I'll realize all that, and my first instinct will be to tell [her], and when I realize how paradoxical (or at least hypocritical[?]) that is, I feel like explaining to her that I can't (and why I can't) tell her. You see.
     The problem is that deciding that I'm over her doesn't get me over her.
     The problem is etc. etc.


     Finished reading Paradise on the plane yesterday. [Caveman] and I are talking of adapting it together—for the silver screen! I can't tell so well how feasible that is. It would certainly lie on the "arty" end of the spectrum. But, God, Donald Barthelme, what a guy. A Barthelme adaptation I could affix my real name to, for sure. [Caveman] and [Short Round]. I like it.
     Meanwhile, I want more money. I would like to fly first class, to buy whatever clothes I like (suits, for example, and fancy shoes), and to live in a bigger apartment. I'd also like to work for myself full-time: all this summer vacation stuff, regardless of the fact that I owe it all to [school where I was working], makes me long for a time before [school where I was working]. Or after [school where I was working]. Between [school where I was working]s?
     I do think I'm making some progress, "being myself" more and more in a way that doesn't require scare quotes...

my would-be writing partner (but seriously)

     I think I may have just discovered that while staking myself on a promise to myself—by which I mean simply stating, "One last game" [Tetris? Snood? I forget], and knowing that my dignity and trust in myself (same thing?) would be harmed by my going ahead addictively and playing again—doesn't work, imagining that I've promised Grandpa I'd stop actually does work... Where's my grandfather? [Stuff about how I don't believe in an afterlife.]
     [My "ex-wife"] and I had a big fight the other day and resolved it better than ever. We looked right at what's wrong with us and how it affects our relationship, and it was hopeful. [Stuff that's way too intimate to share but super insightful! Anyway, six days later she was gone. And I do mean gone.]
     I want to find my feelings on this. Although, of course, to paraphrase the maybe-authentic-maybe-not AA slogan or truism or whatever quoted or invented in Infinite Jest, I don't have to worry about finding my feelings because they'll find me...
     They sure found me when I was up there giving my little talk about Grandpa. Fucking cried my eyes out, came real close. I think it was saying [personal detail redacted, single word] that really got me.

Family Guy

     Today I have [approximately $22,000 more than I have today]... Maybe I should just stop keeping track because this shit makes me anxious.
     I'm still writing my 2,000 words/day (always more, never less). I even wrote over the weekend: 1,000 words on Saturday. My goal is to write at least 1,000 words on at least one of the two weekend days; 14,000 words/week would be ideal. Scrivener calculates my current word count as 15,000, which in eight days is pretty damned close.
     Too much travel around the corner. We'll see how August is. Could be pretty fucking bad.

(Aren't they cute, folks?)*

(that's what we're going on and on and on about)

  • I had a dream last night and I think it may have turned into a song that my brain is writing almost without my help. If so, you know where you'll find it.†
  • Finally, finally, some money's been rolling in. Well, trickling in. But money! Money! I've been doing some temp work and also some transcription work. (And I have been shocked by how many people don't know the difference between a and an—as in the phrase, "a idiot who somehow never learned to speak English.")
  • Got a meeting Friday for this script we've been trying to sell. Glacial, the pace is glacial. When do I get my hundreds of thousands of dollars (American)?! But, yeah, anyway, I'm excited.
  • Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, died. Oh, no, wait—that was in 1452.
  • I've also been spending way less money, finally. Did you know you can buy two days' worth of really tasty, easily prepared pasta for like $4? Yes. Yes, you did. Well, I didn't. Color me retarded.‡
  • A former student who now goes to Yale said that "hilarious, perverted surrealism is probably [my] best 'mode.'" (He liked "Romantic & Sexual Defeats." That's nice.)
  • I had my Improv 201 graduation show on Sunday.
  • I saw Inception the other night.
  • Gary Shteyngart's new book came in the mail today.
  • I fell into my bed and a geyser of blood blasted out all over the ceiling.
Short Round in Los Angeles

* It would be adorable enough if the only way these creatures had sex was rape, but no: the only way they have sex is by impalement rape. The male screws the female THROUGH HER ABDOMEN. Goodnight, everybody!

† Here.

‡ I'm sorry! I know I shouldn't say retarded. It just—no other word would have—I can't not—don't you see how— Argh! (Seriously, though, I'm trying to stop using that word. It's super gay.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Against "absolute relativism"

Hot and cold are not entirely relative concepts because there exists such a thing as absolute zero—and because, more essentially, cold is the absence of heat.  In other words, it's not as if cold and heat are rival concepts battling it out in the heads of observers: that there can be no heat—and, arguably, that there cannot be "no cold"—means that hot and cold are not what I might call absolutely relative.

I think we think in extremes, human beings. I know I do. This is where the old opinionating tends to come in: if we sense a "dangerous" position, we feel we have to fortify ourselves against it, and that means entrenching ourselves in positions that normally would be a little more...portable?  (I'm not sure whether I'm mixing metaphors, mangling metaphors, mishandling metaphors, or what, but I'm pretty sure metaphors are being abused here.)

This isn't merely neurotic; it has a more rational, pragmatic motivation.*  Take abortion, for example. I am "pro-choice."† In a perfect world, would I feel as strongly about protecting all third-term abortion rights as I do about first-term abortion rights? Do I think a woman's right to choose to abort a pregnancy if she changes her mind at the last minute is as sacred as a woman's right to choose to abort a pregnancy as soon as she finds out about it? Well, let me put it this way—and this is my whole point: YES! Officially. Because the question isn't really just what I think in an absolute, perfect-world vacuum-sense: the question has to take into account the political import and ramifications of the positions we take. I know that abortion opponents are eager to chip away at abortion rights any way they can, and that, the way the law works, once you start to build in exceptions and loopholes, the whole damned thing is at risk. So to say, "Well, meh, third-term abortions? Maybe not as much," is like being in a castle under siege and opening the back door for some air.

After all that, the relevance of the example is somewhat in question (by me, at any rate). I guess what I'm getting at, or fumbling towards, is the idea that absolute and relative are themselves too extreme—a too-absolute dichotomy, say. (Can a dichotomy be absolute?)

Taste. On a very basic level, musical taste cannot be wrong: you like something or you don't like something, and only you can answer that question. However (and in a way this applies to all sorts of things: ethical, logical, metaphysical—actually especially logical), it's possible to be wrong in two key ways: wrong by your own definition and effectively wrong by virtue of a failure to define your terms (or false universalization of your terms).

So if I like this Z-Rock Hawaii album‡ that I finally got my hands on and you don't, it would be ridiculous to say that one of us is right and one of us is wrong—unless I said I liked it because I liked that it adhered to some musical principle that, I was wrong, it just didn't actually adhere to, or you said you hated it because it was just plain bad music, and you defined bad music as music that wasn't acoustic and just assumed that that was a definition that didn't even need articulating because it was just agreed upon or built into the meaning of the word bad.§  I was like that, the latter, in high school (see here).

Or what about my friend who does not have bad taste in music so much as he does not have taste in music? Can you understand that I do not mean that as a slight? He does not listen to music, does not pay attention to music, does not have feelings about music, does not care for music, does not hear music. He once put up—I think on his Friendster page, so this was a little while back—a list of favorite music that he plagiarized from someone else's Friendster page.  (I was like, "You like Queens of the Stone Age?" and he was like, "What's Queen of the Stone Age?" He had "QOTSA" written on there and didn't even know what it [the initialism] stood for.)  Or what about the girl I knew who said she hated Amy's Ice Cream in Austin and acknowledged later, as a footnote, without any recognition that this was relevant to her criticism, that she does not like ice cream?  Her opinions on ice cream and my friend's opinions on music, presented out of context, are effectively meaningless ("context" in this case being, "I do not in fact know what I'm talking about: please discount my opinions").

So when Tea Party types assert that Obama is stupid, well, that's pretty objectively, measurably false. But if Sarah Palin says that America doesn't need smarts, doesn't need—what did she say, something about a professor lecturing from his lectern?—that's a little harder to prove wrong, you know? "I don't like the Beach Boys because Brian Wilson didn't know how to write music: my five-year-old could write those harmonies": unless you can knock my socks off when defining your terms for me, you're just plain wrong. But, "I don't like the Beach Boys because that music is just annoying"—how can I argue with that? "I support Palin and hate Obama because I don't like these smarty-pants politicians who know so much and are so hung up on what's technically factually true of just relying on their God-guided gut impulses"—well, I think you're wrong and awful and that your position's bogus, but it's a little harder for me to say that your reasoning's wrong, per se.

Now, what would you do if I told you that all of this is essentially just one big introduction—or rather that it's all one big gloss on, or expansion of, that first sentence there up at the top, which is itself an introduction—to my "real" point, which has very little to do with any of this?  You'd probably close your browser and maybe even smash your computer with a rock and move to the desert and find ways to get water out of cacti and lizards. And that's your right.

This is what I'm like when I'm not all doped up.

* Which I suppose doesn't actually mean it isn't neurotic: see note on paranoia here.

† Potentially misleading scare quotes explained here.

Ween + the Boredoms. Can you even imagine? (By the way, I just got this yesterday and I'm not completely sure I do like it. Judgment: reserved.)

§ So, to be clear, I'm saying that if you said, "I don't like it because I only like acoustic music," then, OK, no beef. But if you say, "It's bad," and you mean, "It's not acoustic," and you assume that's clear, then you're being stupid—stupid in a way we're all stupid sometimes, unavoidably, but stupid all the same.

Friday, July 23, 2010


(Click to enlarge.)

I'm guessing what happened here is Fair Day Fair Dry Cleaners (or the person they hired) misspelled premises—sort of more the sign-painting equivalent of a typo than a real misspelling, I would actually assume*—and then caught the mistake and went back to fix it but figured that bisecting the O was just as good as really going through the trouble of replacing it with an E?  I mean, I suppose it's possible that they actually thought prθmises was a reasonable way to spell that word, or even that they were making some sort of a joke.  But man oh man, I doubt it.  One way or another, I find this charmingly ridiculous.

In other news, are any of these special characters coming through? Goddamned Internet.  Goddamned computers.

* Do people make this distinction? Misspelling suggests to me that someone spelled a word a certain way both mistakenly and deliberately; a typo is something anyone can do regardless of how good a speller she is. Of course, "auto-correct" introduces a whole new category of error (q.v.).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

not to be confused with synesthesia

This may sound weird, but these are two albums—maybe the only two, I'm not sure—that have strong sense memories associated with them: specifically, smell.  For me, I mean.  Any time I hear songs off one of these albums (actually maybe particularly the first few tracks from each), I can smell it, smell the albums.  I'm being completely serious, here.



I guess what I'm smelling—or remembering smelling, or memory-smelling—is the liner notes, those little booklets that used to come Jesus, do come with CDs (the format is not yet dead!—poor fuckin' CDs).  I mean, Blood Sugar Sex Magik in particular definitely did smell like something.  Something about the paper, or the ink they used—something.  Has anyone else had this experience?  One funny thing about the phenomenon is that I find I can't generate the smell myself (in my head, I mean) at will—from memory, as it were. It just comes to me when I listen to the music.  But funnier yet:

What was the smell of Blood Sugar Sex Magik?  Well—

You know when you go somewhere new and then later it becomes very familiar and you look back and it's as if you've got two different mental maps of the place that look quite different, one current and one old? (I think it's usually because the maps are rotated differently, like east–west.) This happened to me with the college I ended up going to: at some point I thought back and found I had a very different picture of the campus from when I was a pre-frosh.* I could "see" the same buildings and geography, but it was all sort of in the wrong place.  I think I originally saw the big library as "left" instead of "up"...?

Anyway (and this is surely because the strong sexual content of that Chili Peppers record made a huge impression on me when I was in—what, eighth grade?), some part of my brain still has that Blood Sugar Sex Magik smell filed away (incorrectly, I now know, but apparently all the same ineradicably†) as (I'm sorry) "vulva smell."

Good night, everyone!

* Is "pre-frosh" not a universal term?  I used it recently and a (college-educated) friend of mine was baffled.

† Like the part of Zaphod Beeblebrox's brain that he cordoned off from himself under neurosurgical lock and key.

Monday, July 19, 2010

fæce unique

I don't want to make a big deal out of this because it isn't a big deal, but I do think it's worth noting that being an only child is one of the things people still think it's totally OK to basically talk trash about.*

The only part of this that is a big deal is the way in which it connects to a larger issue: you'd hope that once people started to figure out (or be forced to figure out) that you're sort of not supposed to make generalizations about groups or discriminate against them, they (people, not the groups) would be able to universalize this principle rather than having to relearn it group by group by group—but this does not appear to be the case. Like, you'll learn that you're not supposed to say shitty things about people of different races or cultural backgrounds or sexual orientation, but then you'll still think it's OK to make fun of midgets (preferred term: little people).

The big difference between the above mentioned prejudices and prejudices against only children is that there's no history of discrimination or violence against—or oppression of—only children, which means the worst that can really come out of it is probably thoughtlessness resulting in bruised feelings. But it's still fucking stupid: it's still giving people grief about something that they can't help, based on uncritically received wisdom (read "prejudice").

Like one time, maybe a year ago, I was talking to a woman whom I liked and respected (and still do like and respect)—smart, nice, all that jazz—and when she found out I was an only child, she said, clearly meaning it as a compliment, "Oh!—but you don't seem selfish, fucked up, and obnoxious!"—or something along those lines. And I came very close to saying, because she's gay, "Thanks! And you're not a fat, short-haired man-hater!" (I restrained myself: I've learned not to make that kind of rhetorical gesture because it's inevitably misunderstood—enough so that I'm not sure I should even be saying here. But you see that my point would have been that that would be an analogously ignorant thing to say, yes?—and quite specifically not that lesbians are actually any of those things?†)

So I took the above photograph in a CVS, briefly (irrationally) excited about it and specifically thinking, "Hey, I'll put this shit up on Alt85 and write about how people are sometimes jerks about only children."

And as I was taking the picture—I swear this is 100% true—this CVS employee wandered up behind me and started talking to me, and the following totally real (and impressively well-reported, verbatim) dialogue took place.

CVS: Oh, no! Only child! I don't want that!
S.R.: What do you mean?
CVS: Only child? It's terrible! I grew up with four brothers and sisters...
S.R.: I'm an only child.
CVS: Who did you play with?
[very brief pause]
S.R.: I turned out OK. At least I'm not rude.
CVS (reassuring me): No, it's OK! I had brothers and sisters I could play with—
S.R.: Yeah. And you're rude.
[Exit S.R.]

But now, see, what begins as an amazing, almost too-perfect illustration of exactly my point does lead into a bit of a change of subject, or redirection, because if there's one thing I think being an only child did do to me in a negative way, it's that it made me too goddamned sensitive. My ideal me would not have engaged with that guy, at least not like that. I mean, who fucking cares? There was no need for me to get huffy about it.

With brothers and sisters making fun of me all the time, I imagine I would have (1) gotten used to it and, more importantly, (2) learned that when people say stupid shit to you, it (a) doesn't matter and (b) doesn't mean they're your enemy.‡ See what I'm saying? When I got to grade school I had an awful time because every time a little kid bumped into me or was otherwise dismissive, I was basically like, "What the fuck?!" And as I said once about paranoia...

Actually, I don't think I ever did, not on Alt85. Here: I once told my imaginary friend "Gottlieb" that I didn't think I was paranoid: I didn't imagine things that weren't there, I told him, but instead perceived real, present things and just blew them out of proportion. "That," he said, "is what paranoia is."

Similarly, when people were jerks—thoughtless or even cruel—I was very bad at putting that in its proper place. Still am, surely. [See Alternate 1985.] To be totally frank, I sort of wish I had a brother or a sister. That's probably why I enjoyed The O.C. so much (first and second seasons only, please): it was sort of a dramatization of a "Hey, I've got a brother after all!" fantasy. And if/when I ever reproduce, I'd like to have multiple offspring—like probably two?

Still from Check It Out! (via)

All that said, I do wish people would pull their heads out of their asses as far as only children are concerned. Next time you meet an only child, how about you keep your stereotypes to yourself? They're ignorant and wrong. And besides, the only child you're talking to is probably an oversensitive baby.

BY THE WAY, you assholes... (click to enlarge) (Wiki-wikipedia)

* Another is New York. Tell a stranger—at least an American stranger—that you're from New York, and she'll likely have no qualms at all about telling you how much she dislikes the City, how noisy it is, how she wouldn't want to live there, what a terrible place it would be for raising kids, etc. Imagine the reverse: "You're from Iowa? God, does anyone actually live there? I can't even imagine it, living so far from anything that matters." Jaws would drop, tempers would rocket...

† Of course, the place where the parallel breaks down is where a history of oppression and marginalization comes in, as I discussed above: just as black people have worlds more legitimate cause to be upset about the word nigger1 than white people do about the word cracker (q.v.), so a lesbian would have much more reason to be upset by my making dumb assumptions about her than I would to be upset by her making dumb assumptions about me. Although of course in this particular instance the one would be deliberately ironic whereas the other was evidently sincere...but whatever. Let me note again that the person who said this to me was very nice and smart and likable and surely just not thinking.

‡ It also might have been helpful if my parents were emotionally abusive.

1 I have lost the ability to write "the N-word." Thanks a lot, Louis C.K. [q.v., NSFW].

Sunday, July 18, 2010

plot summaries, from memory, of movies I don't remember [UPDATED]

[UPDATE: Now see Movies I Don't Remember: the blog!]

An impressively inaccurate synopsis of Jurassic Park III gave me a good idea—or let's just say "an idea."

Below please find my synopses—from memory—of movies that I haven't seen in decades and only dimly remember. [Important note: I found the photographs after writing the text. In other words, I really did do this. I'm a professional, people.]

The Rescuers (1977)*
A girl is held captive in a well by crazed Australians who are using her to turn a mill, or holding her for ransom, or getting her skin ready to be turned into a coat. For some reason some mice come to rescue her. It is possible that the mice are Australians; one of them I think wears a hat. This movie is terrifying.

There's something about this scene that I like.

Munchies (1987)
Two teenagers have sex, and monsters kill someone by turning the volume up too high on a stereo. If you cut them in half they multiply. The teenagers have sex.

It's not a Gremlins rip-off if it's better than Gremlins!†

Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)
Eddie Murphy instant-messages Whoopi Goldberg on a computer. People are trying to kill him and then they also try to kill Whoopi Goldberg. As far as I can remember, this entire movie takes place in her office and is about five minutes long. I'm not sure I ever actually saw this movie: I may have just read the Mad magazine parody.

Still from the major motion picture Jumpin' Jack Flash, apparently.

Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
Aliens that look like Freddy Krueger kill everybody with laser guns. Ewoks have to travel with children to get somewhere to do something. Actually that part might be from An Ewok Adventure. This movie is terrifying.

Children's entertainment.

Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
Santa Claus is recruited to be Santa Claus. Then I think maybe Dudley Moore steals his sleigh. Presumably Santa gets the sleigh back and Dudley Moore learns a lesson, but it might be that Dudley Moore is devoured by reindeer. All copies of this movie in all media have been lost forever, so we'll never know.

Yep. Dudley Moore.

Without a Clue (1988)
Sherlock Holmes (Michael Caine) and Watson (Bob Hoskins, maybe?) go up against a 19th-century Timothy Leary who is making people hallucinate and jump out windows. Actually I'm pretty sure that's the other Sherlock Holmes movie, Young Sherlock Holmes, starring Yahoo Serious. In this one, somebody gets his throat cut and it makes a terrifying noise. Also, lotsa laffs.

Who is that? Kingsley?

All right, that'll do for now. More to come, perhaps. God bless America, and may God bless these United States.

* This movie must have been rereleased at some point in the mid-1980s because I saw it in theaters.

† It isn't.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

God is...


...a toy for cats?


July 17, 2002

I was reading Aristotle's Poetics in the plane in preparation for tenth-grade English at [school that employed me], and the following passage in Francis Fergusson's introduction ignited my imagination. I have a note in my Palm, a reminder: "Poetics p.11: pathos & praxis, man & God." The passage in question is this:

Action90 is active: the psyche perceives something it wants, and "moves" toward it. Passion is passive: the psyche suffers something it cannot control or understand, and "is moved" thereby. The two concepts, abstractly considered, are opposites; but in our human experience action and passion are always combined, and that fact is recognized in Aristotle's psychology. There is no movement of the psyche which is pure passion—totally devoid of purpose and understanding—except perhaps in some philosophical states where human quality is lost. And there is no human action without its component of ill-defined feelings or emotion; only God (in some Aristotelian philosophies) may be defined as Pure Act.

Isn't that fascinating? I found it especially interesting in relation to some of the questions that have arisen in my experience this year, primarily in terms of breaking up with [REDACTED] and pursuing [my "ex-wife"]. To do what you want to do is godlike, but wanting—can wanting be anything but human? The question is not rhetorical.
My love for [my "ex-wife"] has such a good blend of pathos and praxis, doesn't it?*
Now wait: the pathos–praxis contrast is not analogous to man–God. No, pathos is just part of the human experience. Fergusson says himself that pure pathos can exist only if "human quality is lost." The human character is not strictly pathetic: it's pathos and praxis together. Praxis is godlike, yes, but pathos—pathos is childlike.
[There's an interesting thought. George Fayen said something about how a good metaphor, comparing A to B, tells us not just about the B-ness of A, but also about the A-ness of B (yes, the anus of be).91 If praxis is godlike and pathos is childlike, what does that say about God?]
A blend of pathos and praxis, then—that's human. God and a child. Black Francis had it right: God is seven.
But so [my "ex-wife"], my love for [my "ex-wife"]. Pathos and praxis. I move, and I am moved. It's what I was saying: crazy about her but also so sane. That's love, and we see now that love is definitively human. Loving someone truly, you're as human as it's possible to be; how do you like that?


90 [original footnote—yeah, there were 90 already] N.B.: "action (praxis) does not mean deeds, events or physical activity: it means, rather, the motivation from which deeds spring. Butcher puts it this way: 'The praxis that art seeks to reproduce is mainly a psychic energy working outwards.' It may be described metaphorically as the focus or movement of the psyche toward what seems good to it at the moment—a 'movement-of-the-spirit,' Dante calls it" (Fergusson 8).

* I was such a romantic.

91 I wasn't able to recall whether he actually said this ("the anus of be"), or if it arose accidentally from my retelling. At any rate, it has become the story, which I've told already to members of the [school] class of '05.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"C'mere, Stay."

(click to enlarge)

The first bumper sticker almost (almost) works as one of those paradoxes like "This statement is false," but what it's much more like is one of those T-shirts women are invited to wear that have writing over the breasts chastising people for looking at their (the women's)* breasts—the joke being (I mean, I assume it's supposed to be a joke—it is, right?) that the writing draws your eyes somewhere it then attacks you for looking.

In fact the main difference I can see between the breasts T-shirt and the "Watch The Road" bumper sticker—which by the way the The shouldn't be capitalized, but whatever—is that I'm not as sure the "Watch The Road" bumper sticker is meant to be a joke. So it's like, "Hey, you, look over here and read this [by the way not especially large-print] reminder not to read bumper stickers while driving."

But honestly I still might not have cared if it weren't for the second bumper sticker. The second bumper sticker is written with evidently no regard for who might be reading it at what distance. Look at that goddamned font size! I took this picture while stopped directly behind it at a traffic light, and I imagine you'll have to click to enlarge if you really want to read it. Essentially you can't read that bumper sticker while driving behind that car at anything even remotely close to a safe following distance, and you certainly can't read it while watching the road. Thought, effort, and squinting have to go into it. I assume the person who designed the sticker held it in his or her hands and was like, "Looks great!"—forgetting where it goes. (Maybe he or she imagined it on one of those postcard-style spinning bumper-sticker racks?)

One thing I can tell you for sure: these bumper stickers sure distracted me. This car—with CA EXEMPT plates, I should have mentioned already—ought to have a third bumper sticker between the first two, with arrows pointing out, reading,


* This parenthetical is very David Foster Wallace—stylistically/mechanically/grammatically, I'm saying. Does anyone else do that shit?

Saturday, July 10, 2010



I've changed a lot in the last couple of years, mainly for the better. For example, I used to be ambivalent about sex, but now I kinda like it!* But another example is my George McFly syndrome: I successfully conquered that shit, which is good in itself, but I maybe overshot: now when I get what I think is a good idea, I find it exceedingly hard not to write about it—even if there's reason to think it's disadvantageous to have people associate it with me.†

Reassurance. Also, don't associate this with me. (via)

Part of what's frustrating about this is that—well, if I were an established comedian, say, then I think I'd have no problem posting hilarious shit that might offend people. If I were an established anything!‡ But now if I'm on Facebook and it occurs to me that it would be funny to write in the "Write something about yourself" box that "I'm a grower, not a shower,"§ I (a) have a lot of trouble not doing that—opposite of George McFly syndrome, remember—and (b) really had better not! I mean—right? If my career picks up (read begins), I think I'll even go nononymous** and drop the Short Round baloney and put a big picture of myself (q.v. q.v. q.v.) up on here in my underwear. (Well, maybe not in my underwear.) But...

Ah, what the hell, there's no time like the present. Here's a picture of me right now:

I would never put something like this on my blog. [q.v.]

[IMPORTANT NOTE: Was this whole post just an excuse for me to write, "I'm a grower, not a shower"? Maybe it was, and maybe it was. PEACE OUT.]

*And I used to think on a certain level that no woman would ever want to sleep with me ever, but now I assume that all women are dying to sleep with me always.

† Yes, I'm more or less anonymous on here, but the people likeliest to know my real name are also the people likeliest to know me personally and therefore to have opinions about me, and for it to matter at all, in a practical sense, what those opinions roughly might be.

‡ A vicar, say, or the principal of an elementary school.

§ Or to tweet, "Been a hankie fan for 5 yrs, but accidentally grabbing a used one today & painfully scraping my nose with a dried booger does give me pause," or, "I just became the mayor of my own dick on Foursquare," or something like this.

** Meaning not-anonymous (not actually a word).

some shit I found in public restrooms (no...wait)

I've taken great strides in getting over my public-restroom neuroses, but it's still gratifying to see a sign like this:

(click for more careful inspection)

Can you tell why? Look at step 5. UCLA shows its poster hand-washer turning off the tap with a piece of paper towel!

I've never seen that move officially endorsed by any institution. But think about it: if you are going to worry about germs that much (which you shouldn't, but if you are—like if you're reading or making a sign about it), then what sense does it make to wash your hands and then touch a piece of metal or plastic that innumerable strangers have handled with fingers that were just seconds ago all over (or partway inside of) their shitty anuses and pissy, herpetic sex parts?! It's not like the faucet gets washed in between every use. It gets a little wet, sure, but it doesn't get cleaned—it doesn't get 20 seconds of lather and 10 seconds of rinsing.

Again, I am not in fact endorsing this attitude or these actions. It probably makes sense to assume you're going to get germs on your hands and that your immune system can take 'em on. But if you're going to wash your hands for 15 minutes after taking a piss, then, yeah, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet (and to open the door) afterwards, too. Otherwise it's like this weird thing where you're doing something in both a half-assed and a hysterical way. Like half an ass, but a BIG ass. Or—I don't know, scratch that last part.

Only tangentially relevant:

(click to be mystified/amused)

I don't know if you can see this in my crappy blurry picture, here, but—in the bottom-right corner, a skeleton on a cell phone. On a cell phone, note! Is this a clip-art mishap or what? Love it.

They just really GET me.

(click to enlarge)

I probably shouldn't be giving this the "fuck this ad" label because (a) I feel like I must just be missing something and (b) I kind of love it. But what the fuck is going on with this ad? What's the message? Who's its audience? What does it want from us?

"You know when you're fishing and you catch a fucking octopus? Pacifico!"

Is that it? Or is it more like,

"You know when you catch a fucking octopus and your friends are like, 'Eh, whatever'? Pacifico!"

I seriously don't get it. Is this a fun scene? A funny scene? What does it have to do with beer? Well, scratch that last question: obviously making sense is always going to come second to appealing to [read manipulating] audiences.* But how does this appeal to what audience?

THE CONSUMER (looking at this ad): "OK, they're fishing, and they—whoa, a fucking OCTOPUS? Wha—? HA! OK, we—you guys, wow! Yeah, we'll buy your beer. We'll buy your beer."

* In fact "come second" is probably generous. Second if at all.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 8, 2010

A dear college friend (maybe not the most objective judge) told me she likes "the auto-bioey-ness of the blog." So—special for her:

by Short Round, age 32


These include:
  • watching a lot of Parks & Recreation on Hulu
  • coming up with Parks & Rec and 30 Rock ideas for the TV-writing class I'm taking at UCLA
  • getting word that a director "loves" the screenplay my writing partner and I wrote
  • playing a not very involved game of fetch on a Southern California patio with a mostly blind dog with his head in one of those plastic cones
  • doing a little of the transcription work I recently started in exchange for the promise of American currency (worth roughly 16 times less per hour than the tutoring work I did back in Manhattan)
  • cooking and consuming eggs and bacon
  • making and consuming a salad (baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, garlic salt)
  • cooking and consuming linguine with Newman's Own Sockarooni™ sauce,†
  • reading a little of my friend's script (at the breakfast table)
  • reading a little Bloom County‡ (on the toilet)
  • attending that TV-writing class at UCLA
  • meeting up with a close friend for a late-night drink and deep conversation

...but do not include:
  • showering
  • exercising
  • getting a steady job

(click to enlarge—via)

* It's a little after 1 a.m. Friday (PDT): I still call Thursday "today" because I haven't been to sleep yet. I mean, gimme a break.

† I wish I could say that this amount of food preparation is normal for me. It is not.

‡ I used to love that shit when I was like 10 years old—and I was right: it's good!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

the inconvenient


There are at least 12 errors in this sign. "Sorry For Inconvenius" just goes too far.

See also this picture I took in New York City's Chinatown:

I submit that this is not merely a cheap "Engrish" joke—I prefer not to make fun of people's English* unless it seems to be the tip of a more important conceptual–perceptual–philosophickal† iceberg (q.v.)—and that instead what's amusing about it is that these folks are apologizing not for this particular inconvience, but for the inconvient in general. Also, Chinamen are stupid. (Look at that scribble-scrabble! Those aren't words!)

* What?! –ed.

† Deliberate, deliberate, damn it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


"Hundreds Killed and Injured."* Now, I'm not totally sure about this, but—that's not right, is it? Shouldn't it be "Killed or Injured" (emphasis mine)? I mean, you wouldn't say, "Two Killed and Injured": you'd say "One Killed, One Injured"—and I submit that that's not only because it would be silly not to specify, but also because two were not killed and injured. It's like the difference between each and both, like the way/fact that either is singular. Am I right about this? I mean, I guess you could argue that it depends on how many were killed and how many were injured: if hundreds were killed and hundreds were injured, my objection goes right out the window and this headline is fine no matter how you slice it. But my guess is that what they mean is that hundreds of people had something happen to them, and what happened to them was that some of them were killed and some of them were injured, and given that I'm inclined to say that they, collectively, were not killed and injured.

I think I might be right about this. Central here (in case this isn't obvious) is that killed and injured are mutually exclusive—in much the same way that murder and attempted murder are mutually exclusive: if you were killed, it's absurd for someone to say you were injured (and vice-versa, even more so).

It's not much after six in the morning, Eastern time, and even earlier where I'm headed [back to]. And I've been awake for almost two hours. My brain is like a bag of Scrabble letters.

*Let me note that this is terrible news. My response will be focused, inhumanly, only on the grammar (like my letter-to-the-editor on 9/12/01).

Monday, July 5, 2010

B. Boys, makin' with the freak-freak

My two favorite Beach Boys albums right now* are Friends and Wild Honey, but I just got Sunflower and Surf's Up, and those are great, too. Discovering all this music that I didn't know existed, within a career arc I (foolishly) thought I had at least a loose grasp on, is exciting in itself—a bonus, on top of the already considerable enjoyment of the music.

This experience of unexpected discovery is like entering a small structure and finding an impossibly larger space inside,† like discovering a hidden door in a (probably 8-bit) video game, like the kind of infinity that doesn't spread vertiginously outward but instead folds fractally inwards, the infinity that exists between any two points or integers instead of reaching out beyond them.

Incidentally, this is also what metaphors and similes are like.

* I mean non–Pet Sounds Beach Boys albums—although between you and me, I'd rather not think about ranking Pet Sounds in there because it might get too confusing and upsetting: the established-greatness problem makes the whole thing so damned heated.

† Q.v. Yellow Submarine cartoon and the planet-building planet, Magrathea.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


OK, so passive, anecdotal research [see also] is leading me to the surprising conclusion that most dudes hate sex.

The first time a woman suggested to me that liking sex is more an exception than it is a rule, I was like, "What? Girl, you trippin'."* But then I started hearing it more and more. Ladies, is this so??

I mean, I know that a lot of guys are misogynists, or crypto-misogynists, and I should think sexism is even more common than that,† but somehow it never occurred to me that... Or, forget "somehow":‡ our society very specifically insists that men love sex, that it's all we all think about. I'm just starting to get the impression, though, that this is a myth—that for a lot of men, sex is only about conquest, or that it's something they think they're supposed to act like they like, or that it's more compulsive than it is motivated by real passion, or something. It's certainly easy to be self-conscious and scared of sex; I mean, I'm not sure I really got comfortable with sex until I was like 30 years old.

But so seriously—I'm serious, here—ladies, answer this question: In your experience, are most men as sexually voracious as our culture suggests, or do you run into a surprisingly large number of stand-offish or cold-fishy sexual skeptics?

Inquiring minds want to know.

* Because that's how I talk.

† Actually, that's an interesting question: is it? What's more common in our society: sexism or misogyny? Obviously the two are not mutually exclusive, but neither do they necessarily or automatically go together.

‡ Don't put a comma after a conjunction. This is a stylistic exception. [Q.v.]

high juvenalia? [IMPORTANT NOTE: I have both misspelled and misused this word.]

"Judgment Day." "Judgment Day."

I wrote this, for better or for worse, a little more than 10 years ago, when I was still in college. It was supposed to be in this script I wrote (that a friend is still trying to get made, fantastically enough), but I removed it, for better or for worse. Here it is, for better or for worse.

For better or for worse:*


SHEM Do you believe in God?
GOTTLIEB Who's that?
SHEM I do.
GOTTLIEB Hm, well. That's entirely untrue.
SHEM I believe in God.
GOTTLIEB No, Shem. You don't.
SHEM You don't know that, Gottlieb. You don't know what I believe.
GOTTLIEB No, no, you're right. You're right: there are...limits to human knowledge.

They drive in silence for a moment.

GOTTLIEB The smell.
SHEM Ambrosia.
GOTTLIEB Death. California would fall into the sea immediately.
SHEM That fart would put the world's nuclear arsenal to shame.
GOTTLIEB It would uproot trees.
SHEM Level mountains.
GOTTLIEB Obese people, filling the sky.
SHEM Whirling crazily against the flatus-blackened firmament.
GOTTLIEB Tossed about like leaves.
SHEM Like so many leaves.
GOTTLIEB Centuries upon centuries of human history, innumerable lives dedicated entirely to this heavenly bag of borborygmi.
SHEM Blessed be His name.
GOTTLIEB We can't be the first people to have come up with a fantasy about the gas of the gods.
SHEM Fantasy? (glances meaningfully at Gottlieb) Gottlieb, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is that God has been farting?

They drive for a second in uneasy silence.

GOTTLIEB How about some music?

He switches on the radio.

SHEM Yeah.

Ready to believe you! [Q.v.]

* The formatting's wrong because—trying to get it right on Blogger? Nightmare.