Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ready on Day One

Senator McCain pledges to firmly face down the threat posed by, uh, Spain.

Prime Minister Zapatero: Mr. President, my government offers our support in this crisis. I give you my word as a Spaniard.

President McCain, through clenched teeth: No good. I've known too many Spaniards.

McCain also promises to take a firm stand on aggression by the King of Siam, and to take swift and decisive action against the Barbary Pirates.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Black, Billowing, Shapeless.

(David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008)

But in the importance and noise of tomorrow...
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

W.H. Auden

"But on this one afternoon, the fan's vibration combined with some set of notes I was practicing on the violin, and the two vibrations set up a resonance that made something happen in my was as if a large dark billowing shape came billowing out of some corner of my mind. I can be no more precise than to say large, dark, shape, and billowing, what came flapping out of some backwater of my psyche I had not had the slightest inkling was was a bit like a sail, or a small part of the wing of something far too large to be seen in totality. It was total psychic horror: death, decay, dissolution, cold empty black malevolent lonely voided space.
I understood on an intuive level why people killed themselves."
Infinite Jest (1996), 650

Yeah, he knew about this. And we knew he knew. Oddly and horribly, that makes it more shocking--you thought, this guy understands so intimately the stuff a mind can do to itself, and he can write about it more cleanly and funnier and more nakedly than, like, anybody else ever. And that made you think that he was ahead of the game, somehow, that he was smarter than all the awfulness and somehow that made him free from it. That he'd won. Doesn't work like that, and it's always obvious after the fact. Damn.

He never could finish a story, damn it. He was allergic to endings. He was mocking you for ever thinking that everything would ever wrap itself up neatly. This is either one Big Ending or one final Unfininished Story. Seems obscene to think of the end of somebody's life that way, but we're stuck with it. Fiction is what we do.

I wouldn't be writing phrases like "funnier than, like, anybody else ever" if it weren't for him. I also wouldn't have read a fraction of the stuff I've read since 1997, and therefore I wouldn't be here. So there's that.

...fully aware that the cliché that you can't ever truly know what's going on inside someone else is hoary and insipid and yet at the same time trying very consciously to prohibit that awareness from mocking the attempt or sending the whole line of thought into the sort of inbent spiral that keeps you from ever getting anywhere...the realer, more enduring and sentimental part of him commanding that other part to be silent as if looking it levelly in the eye and saying, almost aloud, "Not another word."

"Good Old Neon" (2004)

The board will nod and you will go, and eyes of skin can cross blind into a cloud-blotched sky, punctured light emptying behind sharp stone that is forever. That is forever. Step into the skin and disappear.


"Forever Overhead" (1999)


This sucks.

David Foster Wallace, whose darkly ironic novels, essays and short stories garnered him a large following and made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, was found dead in his California home on Friday, after apparently committing suicide, the authorities said.

Don't know what to say yet. And I have to go to work. Later.

all we gotta do is be brave and be kind...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tonight, I call upon all Americans...

...To get the hell off my lawn!

Liveblogging Senator McCain's big speech.

Blue screen! When they replay clips of this speech, he'll be on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

Crikey. He even says "Warshington." He probably sits on a "davenport." Senator, do you now or have you ever owned a davenport?

Camera found a black person!

He said "latina." I don't know why that's funny, but it is.

He said "culture of life" really slowly, like the secret code phrase that it is, while looking right at the camera. YES I AM ON YOUR SIDE YOU CRAZY JESUS NUTS. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Obama will raise your taxes. Because he's black.

Scary socialized medicine. Not convincing. He just can't do red meat; he just doesn't care enough. Crowd liked it okay.

Camera found a latino dude!

Obama "wishing away" the global economy? Huh. Why?

Boring clintonian worker retraining stuff.

"Education will be the civil right of this century." Not a bad line, but I don't think we're done getting all the other civil rights yet.

School choice. More demagoguery. But unexceptional.

"Obama" "bureaucrats" "unions" in the same sentence.

Biggest cheer yet--stop sending money to countries that don't like us! What's he even talking about? Foreign aid? A miniscule part of our budget? But nothing gets angry white people more riled up.

Drill! Everybody drill! Even bigger cheers. These people are parodying themselves. Make a joke about Hillary Clinton, John! They'll eat it up!

He will develop "electric horseless carriages."

"Reassembling the Russian Empire." Ooooooooooh. But apparently "our prayers" can help.

Seems a bit defensive. "I know how the world works. I am not afraid. I can handle it." Weird, hectoring tone.

"I hate war." Aw, don't lie, dude. You hate being in wars, everybody does. But planning wars is awesome--and you don't got to pretend for this crowd; they're with you.

Here's the line about the scars that everybody was talking about. They love it. Ecce homo.

"Let's try sharing." Wow. Also in favor of caring and good manners.

"Imperfect servant." Nice, actually. Still pretty messianic, but it works here.

Vietnam. Vietnam. Blah blah blah. "Hadn't any worry that morning." Sure.

Wow. John McCain was in Vietnam? That sounds like it was pretty horrible. What decade was that again?

Oh, it really was a good story the first thousand times. There's no way to say that that wasn't the Real Thing. (Unless he's been lying all along.) But it just doesn't have anything do with the job he wants. There are all different kinds of Character.

Let's see if he tells the lying "cross in the dirt" story. Probably not. People called shenanigans on that one.

"Learned to love this country when I was a prisoner in someone else's." Good line. But has he ever really internalized, or publicly acknowledged the fact that it was, in fact, someone else's country? That even though he did his duty, and did it honorably, anyone looking honestly can now see that he never should have been there at all? Not to my knowledge.

Somebody had a sign with "maverick" spelled wrong. Love the GOP. Love 'em!

Stop saying "fight!" I thought you hated war!

Stand up, you pathetic sons of bitches! Pull yourselves together. We never quit! He needs to grab a weak-looking guy in the front row and slap him silly.

That's enough for me, I think. Really didn't seem all that great, especially by comparison with his opponent's big moment. But who knows how it'll play with the Mysterious Undecided Voters. I just really hope that some of them couldn't help giggling when he did his weird jerky arm gestures.

Clear and new -- both good things!

I'd sorta given the Palin-blogging a rest after an enthusiastic start. It got to be like shooting dead fish in a barrel--and where's the fun when everybody's doing it? But this is's just wonderful, is all. Josh Marshall brings something to our attention:

Anybody notice anything odd about this part of the transcript of the Palin speech released to the press?

Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines ... build more new-clear plants ... create jobs with clean coal ... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.
...and at first I thought, what? Seems innocuous. Sure, "clean coal" is bullshit, but Obama totally went with that line, too. But then...OMG. I got that beautiful warm feeling of liberal smugness that we get when everything we believe in is justified. You see? They spelled out "nuclear" PHONETICALLY! They were taking no chances! Yeah, we've got a lightweight on our hands, and yeah, she comes from state where "alternative fuel" refers to burning the furniture for heat. But we can't risk any more links with Bush! She's got to say it right!

(See, if only somebody had thought to do that for W ten years ago, this wouldn't be a problem. Oh, who knows? Maybe they did.)

And then somebody went and undid all of their excessive caution and made the situation a hundred times worse--they handed out the WRONG transcript! Thereby announcing that yes, we're pretty sure our candidate ain't too bright.

Jon Stewart better know about this. I want this joke pounded into the ground by the weekend.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Everybody's Having a Good Time! In Maine!

You know, I'm not much of a journalist; I've only just now figured out that I can actually get paid for it. But I know enough to know that you can wait your whole lifetime for a chance to write a headline like this one:

8-foot mechanical ape missing, owner mystified

And if you're the guy woman who gets that assignment for the Bangor Daily News, you know perfectly well that you could go your whole career without your work getting picked up by the national wire services. Destiny is banging on your front door, and you'd best answer! I think Diana Graettinger rises to the occasion. And if you're the bored guy at the AP scanning headlines from all over all day long, you'd better believe your eyes are gonna light up at that one. County Commisioners Debate Sewer Proposal. Ball Bearing Warehouse to be Sold At Auction. GIANT FREAKIN' GORILLA MISSING!!!!

So what I'm saying is that a lot of people are having the best day of their lives. And we haven't even talked about the college guys who are high-fiving and cracking beers around the GIANT MECHANICAL GORILLA in their damned living room. They've never felt so alive! On a day like this one, you feel that there is hope for us all.