Thursday, August 31, 2006

He's Old, and his Skin is Cold

I like George Bush, because he's willing to tell everyone else what he's thinking, no matter how innapropriate or crazy it is (link).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine

See, I like Katherine Harris because she's willing to say what everyone else is thinking, no matter how insane everyone else is:


and I dislike Katherine Harris because she helped engineer the fradulent, illegal non-election in 2000.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Spend-o-Crat Problem in Central Russia

A Quick Note on my Fiction Career

California fifth or sixth estate representatives Beeswax Magazine have sent to print the second issue of their literary journal, one which contains my only notable non-fan fiction writing, “The Narwhal.”  The issue is now available for $6 plus shipping and presumably contains the works of artists and writers other than me.

A Quick Note on my Dance Career: A Review of Step Up

In this toes a-tappin’ dancetacular dense-faced Coach Carter alum Channing Tatum stars as Trance Banderwagon, a white boy from the ‘hood of Baltimore (AKA BODYMORE MURDALAND!).  A wholesome lad, he wiles away his time dancing at high-concept houseparties, shooting hoops with his pals Mac and Skinny, and also stealing a huge number of cars.  After a particularly ribald evening of spastic dancing at the local salon our hero and his friends indulge their sweet tooth for vandalism with the most delicious morsel of all: an ugly and amateurish stage set at the local performing arts school.  Their black crime disclosed, our heroes come to grips with the ministrations of justice found body in a security guard; our hero takes the fall for his two friends and is assigned 200 hours of community service at the scene of the crime (I plan to commit a crime at the Bikini Inspectors training academy as soon as I finish this blog).  This sets the stage for the true star of the movie: dancer/actress Jenna Dewan’s shrugs and bolero wraps.  Dewan sports a new wrap or scarf or dance pinafore in almost every scene, to the extent that it begins to feel like they cut a subplot about her having terrible OCD or aphasia or something.  The rest of the movie is charming and ultimately a few minutes too long.  Watch for Six Feet Under’s Rachel Griffiths as the oddly wooden and bizarrely accented head of the dance academy, and The Wire’s usually fun Deirdre Lovejoy as Dewan’s mother.  Griffiths seems heavily medicated and Lovejoy just sits around her Baltimore townhouse all day, oiling and re-oiling the furniture.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Christmas Ape's Calypso Adventure

Give a hoot! Read a book as belonging to an essential category!

University of Minnesota English professor David Treuer, an Ojibwe Native American, is publishing two books which attack traditional ways of reading literature by or about Native Americans (New York Times article). Prof. Treuer is annoyed that academics read both kinds of writing as ethnography rather than literature. Native American writing and writing about Native Americans should take its place, he argues, alongside all other literature and should be read as such, rather than as a sociological document or piece of fieldwork data. This argument has a somewhat musty odor since it relies on the idea that we should read documents in particular, regimented ways; I’m not interested in getting into a theoretical citation contest here, but my experience in anthropology (the home discipline of ethnography) has been that everyone reads novels as ethnographies and ethnographies as novels or any other permutation of the two, whatever is most interesting. Insisting that literature be read as literature assigns essential and enduring qualities to literature as an object and is thus rigid and unreflexive. Dr. Treuer’s ideas are interesting and welcome and certainly persuasive (I am no expert on the scholarship of Native literature, so I have reason not to believe that it generally gets read as ethnography), but I find it more interesting as a description than as a manifesto. Certainly, he should draw attention to how the writings get read, but trying to re-assign them to a more correct category ignores their existence as a object in full contact with academic and popular readings. It’s also puzzling that he spends time criticizing Louise Erdrich for screwing up important details of Ojibwe language and regional dialect; if we are supposed to read her writing as novel rather than ethnography, imagination rather than empirical document, why should we hold her to such exacting standards?


As boring and un-frightening as a horror film could possibly be. Even the angular charms of Veronica Mars’s Kristen Bell can’t save this badly-paced, dull tale of evil ghosts who fax themselves to their unwitting victims. Led by a pasty white naked Sir Ben Kingsley, these ghosts travel through cellphones and IM to sap the life from their victims, leaving them deadened and without a will to live (much like the movie does to its viewers). As The Onion pointed out, the riot-proof apartments of downtown Romania don’t stand in for Ohio very well, especially since everything is covered with a thick layer of blue Final Cut filters. When I went to the bathroom after this movie a man with huge sideburns and his little son told me, unsolicited, “Whatever you do, don’t see Pulse.” Too late!

The Descent
It occurs to me that the monsters in this movie actually look almost exactly like the ghosts from Pulse, but have the advantage of being so scary that I had to have major heart surgery during the credits. The Descent is basically The Cave sans Piper Perabo and plus about a zillion times more directorial talent and nerve-wracking cinematography. Six no-name British or possibly Norweigan actresses enter a cave complex bearing climbing rope and emotional baggage and OH SHIT CAVE MONSTERS BITING EVERYONE’S FACE OFF OH SHIT A PIT OF CONGEALED BLOOD EVERYONE’S DEAD OH MY GOD! Highly recommended.

Miami Vice
I thought this was the big-screen version of Dr. Katz, but it turns out it’s Miami VICE, not ADVICE. That’s a little psychiatry/media humor just for you, no charge this time! This movie was very good but was so plotty that the actors didn’t have much room to move – Gong Li was the exception, delivering a long slow reveal of an interesting character and somehow seamlessly going from sharp-faced shrew to beautiful movie star without any obvious changes. You know the setup for the movie so I won’t summarize, but it’s definitely fun and worth seeing.

Talladega Nights
This was a pleasant surprise: Sacha Baron Cohen’s evil French NASCAR driver steals the entire movie, but even the scenes he’s not in bore a relatively light touch and were actually funny, unlike Anchorman and Elf. Watch for John C Reilly’s nuanced performance as imbecilic sidekick Cal Naughton (seriously).