Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"The world is perverse, but it could be worse." [0]

My friend Cotton recently (by which I mean, nearly a year ago), blogged about a non-glowing (that's an RDB-style understatement, in case you aren't yet familiar) review he was surprised to find in the first few pages of a book he was reading by Iain Banks. He asks the questions you'd ask: did someone with a conscience feel the need to warn the unsuspecting reader? Was the idea that potential readers would be so intrigued by the bad reviews that they'd be more likely to read the book? Equal time? Truth in advertising? etc.

One option that I considered that Cotton didn't mention was that it was actually an accident that those reviews were included in final printing, after maybe being in drafts as a spoof or a joke or whatever, and accidentally not having been removed.

I'm telling you this fascinating story because I just had reason to ask these questions myself. I read the fabulous Harper's Magazine and this month's issue includes an ad for the new book by Jonathan Franzen, The Discomfort Zone. Is the text in the image too small to read? The second review says, "[A] total lack of humor... perverse" and the fourth says, "Odious... incredibly annoying."

So, what's the deal? Is it a gimmick to catch my attention (it did)? Is it an inside joke style review, given the title and subject of the book? My theory of the mistaken inclusion is ruled out by the fact of this being one small clear ad, not pages of filler reviews that no one reads. Why'd they do it? Was it Franzen's idea? More importantly, have you bought me this book yet? I loved The Corrections.

[0] From the poem "Sonnet for Minimalists" by Mona Van Duyn.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lights Out LA; Or, RDB is unclear on the concept

Tonight is Lights Out L.A., when everyone is supposed to go dark for an hour to show what a huge difference in saving energy one small concerted effort can make. It's 4pm and I don't even know where I'll be or what I'll be doing at 8pm, so I can plan to participate but I have no idea what that will mean. Am I supposed to sit in my apartment in the dark? I have no trouble with a "TVs Off L.A." plan, since my TV is never on... but it's hard to read in the dark. I suppose I can blog in the dark - does "lights out" mean "computers off" too?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I. Want. This.

Wow. A bookcave. A bookcase with a little nook for you to climb into and read. How is it that no one else thought of this before? How is that I don't have one of these? Wow.

But can my books all be blue, instead of pink? I kind of hate pink.

(By the way, I found this by way of moonrat who calls herself a "bookwench". You probably know by now that I call myself a "bookslut", so the question is, What is the difference between us? What are the philosophical and social implications of choosing one label over the other? Why does she get paid to read books and I don't? Why or why not? If so, as what?
Yeah - both her blogs are cool, so check them out if you're a bookwhore too.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Two words: I'm not that clever.

There is a certain kind of totally-formulaic dumb joke that gets me EVERY TIME.

I'm telling you this because I recently saw it on "The Office" (yes, I don't have a TV, but I can rent DVDs). The guy says:
One word, two syllables: "demarcation."

Ha! Similarly, that thing Dave Barry does all the time:
But then the major oil-producing nations Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Texas got all snotty and formed an organization called OPEC, which stands for "North Atlantic Treaty Organization."

and yet a third variation, which also works for me:
Schick... has announced that it's coming out with a new razor that has... FOUR BLADES. Yes! It will be called the "Quattro," which is Italian for "more expensive."

We also need to give serious thought to the issue of radicchio. I don't know about you, but I hate it when I order a salad, and instead of some nice, green lettuce, I get these scrawny sprigs of radicchio, which is Italian for "tastes so bad that even a starving goat spits it out."

Ha! God, I'm easy. But why is it always Italian?

Monday, October 8, 2007

I still don't get the bit about the "Tina Turner trees"

Everybody has his thing. I mean to say: there are so many people, and so many things, and each one has his own. Early on a Sunday morning at the Santa Monica Pier, earlier than the tourists and the hot dogs and the shopping bags, there is the man doing tai chi and the woman doing yoga. There is the group on the uneven parallel bars and the fat white lady running up and down the wooden steps in time to the barked commands of the big, big black man with the whistle. There are the bikes, the rollerblades, the recumbents. There are almost no skateboards; they come later in the day. There are the treasure-seekers, the metal-detectors, the diviners. There is the man lifting weights - how has he gotten them here? There are the gymnasts and the boxers and the sit-uppers and the push-uppers and the pull-uppers. I mean to say: there are the sitters-up and the pushers-up and the pullers-up. And today, there is a lost, lonely girl, walking slowly, thinking quickly, wanting much. I mean to say: today there is me.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Holy Cow.

  • Phil Rizzuto died a month or so ago. This is interesting news because not just do I know that he's the guy who does the pseudo-sports-announcing in "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" but I also actually own the book O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto which has his real broadcast comments written in verse form and it rules. Bye, Phil.

  • Um, this blog ALSO says "blah blah blog". And here I thought I was so original! Ok, time for the Official Google Test:
    Results 1 - 10 of about 335,000 for "blah blah blog". (0.08 seconds)
    335,000. Damn.

  • How bad do I want to see/be a part of/at least hang out with The Rock Bottom Remainders? Read the Quotations section. LOVE IT.

  • Nice bumper sticker: "At least we're winning the war on the environment."

  • In case you were wondering about car insurance companies: Mercury Insurance SUCKS ASS. Geico rules.

  • Quotation of the week:
    "Night, I have discovered, has a faintly bitter taste, caused by its large ingredient of Unattained Possibility."
    --Christopher Morley in John Mistletoe (according to p198 of Sixpence House)

  • What is it with emotional attachment to clothes? I almost NEVER wear t-shirts anymore but I have huuuuuge stacks of them that I can't get rid of because of some kind of crazy nostalgia. T-shirts, folks. WTF?

  • The Falling Sand Game is kind of fantastic. It's considered the Best Time Waster on The Best of Everything blog, which is in itself an ok time waster but not as good as the same guy's blog Thinking the Lions which I quite like. [Hey, he commented on egg salad! Woo-hoo!]

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Top Six Reasons I Love Yoga

...specifically, Dario's Mixed-Level Flow class at Annie's Yoga:

0. "Feel how wonderful it is to be in your eskin." Dario has an accent, but you don't notice it that often. Words that start with 's' do sometimes acquire an extra vowel sound at the beginning, like in the espeech of many eSpanish espeakers, and I love it, both the reminder to feel good in my skin (why should we need reminding of this?? God!) and the particular cadence of it with Dario's accent.

1. "This moment here and now is for you and you alone."

2. "Open your eyes, from bottom to top." My first thought the first time I heard this was, "What other way is there to open one's eyes?"
But then eventually I slowed my crazy brain enough to slo-o-owly open my eyes, so I could really feel the bottom-to-topness of it, and it's fantastic, especially when you are opening your eyes to a dimly lit yoga studio, looking at yourself in the mirror sitting cross-legged like a yogi. I think of the Southern Oracle from "The Never-Ending Story" every time! Only, in a calm, meditative way, not in a "Run Atreyu, Run!" kind of way (that link takes you to a video clip of just that bit of the movie!).

3. "You brought yourself here, you did the work, the credit is all yours."

4. a) "Deep, conscious, luxious breathing."
    b) "Lubricate the pose with your breath."
Ok, yes, I'm not sure what exactly is meant by this word luxious which may or may not actually exist... but I think of it as a mix of "luscious" and "luxurious" and the idea that my breath can be luscious and luxurious... yum! So great. Lubrication? My breath can lubricate motion? Amazing, Dario, amazing.

5. "Watch your eyes." I love language. I love that you can say a construction like this which on paper would be so clearly meaningless, and yet it can make sense. I love that not only *can* you say it and make sense, but Dario *does* say it, at the end of every class, after the lights-dimmed "final relaxation" stage, before he turns the normal lights back on. It's sweet of him to warn us, and it's even more than sweet of him to remind me, at the end of yoga class, that I love language.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it. --- P.J. O'Rourke

So, there are two definitions of cynical, as I understand the word. I used to just know your basic one, the meaning of this word that basically makes it a synonym for pessimist, or vaguely "suspicious or distrustful, especially of people's motives". But I learned the political meaning from an ex-boyfriend and this is a much subtler shade that I've found hard to articulate. I recently read the following definition in this article in New York magazine:

In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, a seminal social-science book that’s a de facto primer on effective political communication, sociologist Erving Goffman gives a great deal of thought to how people show themselves to the world, viewing all forms of human interaction as a kind of managed drama. "When the individual has no belief in his own act and no ultimate concern with the beliefs of his audience," he writes, "we may call him cynical..."

and I think that does a good job of articulating the political definition, what you mean when you say that Bush or the GOP or the RWNM are cynical.

Why did we go through that exercise in defining our terms? Because I am cynical (classic definition) enough to believe that the aforementioned Current Administration is cynical (new definition) enough to have the endgame for the war in Iraq all figured out NOT to maximize stability in the Middle East, NOT to minimize lives lost, NOT to best smooth the transition to a self-governing democratic power, but instead to maximize political gain in an election year. By which I mean: I listened to a lot of General Petraeus' report and I listened to a lot of commentary on that report and I've read a lot of different opinions on pull-out strategies and things. And people talk about shit like "staying the course" vs. "bring our boys home" vs. "the surge has been successful" vs. "the surge has been a failure" vs. blah blah blah and you know what?

I don't think that what the Bush Administration will do vis-a-vis sending troops there or bringing troops home has anything at all to do with the actual current on-the-ground situation. I think it has to do with next year's ELECTIONS AND THAT'S IT.

I think that the administration has a detailed plan to "bring our boys home" on a schedule that is precisely calculated to maximize voter approval and nothing else. I think that troops will start being sent home in greater and greater numbers as the elections get closer simply because that will make voters happy, (while ending the war and/or bringing them home now would cause an upswing in popularity that won't last long enough to maximize outcome at the polls). Right now Bush can keep saying we're staying the course and doing whatever is necessary for victory blahblahblah and then in six months say "you see, we stayed when it was right to stay even against pressure not to stay, and NOW that it's the right to leave we're going to leave"... we're so strong, we believe in what's right not just what the crazy liberals are pressuring us to do, we know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.... see how great we are, we're bringing the boys home now because now is the right time... and all of this to MAXIMIZE VOTES, almost completely without regard for what is actually happening in Iraq. That's what I think is going to happen.

It's perfect. What can liberals or Democrats say when they get what they want, what they called for? "Thanks, Mr. Bush," meekly? How can they complain when that happens? The rug will have been swept out from under their righteous indignation, the Republicans who stuck by Bush even when inside they were doubting can put on their smuggest faces and their I-knew-it-all-along buttons and our next president will be More Of The Same, leaving the Democrats wide-eyed in the dust crying, "How did this happen?"...


[editor's notes: a) i almost never write or talk about politics, so don't expect much like this, thank god and b) i wrote this two weeks ago and didn't post it because i had already posted six things that day or whatever and c) since then i've only become more convinced there is a strategy for pull-out on an election schedule, not a war/life/peace schedule. i'm very nearly cynical enough to believe some kind of terrorist or war event is actually scheduled to occur or be allowed to occur to maximize political gain in the presidential race, but i'm scared to admit that. maybe there's a terrorist plot that the administration already knows about but is letting go on longer so that they can swoop in and save us at a more politically opportune time? that way no one has to actually die for it, specifically... ok, enough, back to your irregularly scheduled doses of the vagaries of the life of RDB.]

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Donate your frequent flyer miles HERE!!!

Oh man. Have I ever wanted to still be on the East Coast more? If you know me, you know I have one or two minor obsessions. No, ASIDE from ice cream, thank you. Have you seen my profile icon? Have you seen my watch? My apartment?

The whole love of Wonder Woman began for me with Lynda Carter. There is no other. Please please please don't you want to buy me a plane ticket?