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Archive for March, 2009

ON COMMENTARY

Some famous rich person once said about investors: “When the tide goes out, yuo find out who was swimming naked.”  In other words, it’s easy to hide your failures and fuckups when times are good — there’s always somebody willing to give you a loan, or buy something you have to sell at a premium price, or invest into the crackpot idea that you are peddling.  When times get tough, those people get stingy, and your shourtcomings become apparent.  Your ill-conceived, badly-run business really goes bankrupt, your house/car/flatscreen get reposessed, etc.  We’re seeing a bit of that now. 

The same rule applies in public discourse as in business.  To wit: there are a lot of people out there who make their living by telling you how things really are, by talking on television, writing in the newspaper, speaking into the Congressional record.  Many — I’ll say most of these people — do not know what they are talking about.  Just because someone has a chyron under his image reading “expert” does not really mean anything.   He is probably just talking out of his ass.  Her too.

For quite a while now, we’ve been in the equivalent of some really good times for our public discoursers.  Talk about whatever you want — supply-side economics, vast conspiracies of against religion, welfare queens, the Rapture — and somebody would take you seriously.  If you were really forceful and charismatic, you might even get a nationally syndicated talk show.  And if you were ever really, verifiably, unquestionably wrong about something, you could probably just distract people by spouting even more bullshit on a different topic and waiting for the general public to forget.  We are a nation of amnesiacs, after all.  (And we really seem to care about displaying the Ten Commandments, for some reason.) 

But hard times have come for the bullshitters as well.  Faced with the prospect of real losses in the market, seniors not being able to retire, of families losing the house and the health insurance, it isn’t enough to have the best line.  Suddenly, even if it is difficult to tell who was right all this time,  there are some clear examples of people who were wrong.  (Jim Cramer: wrong.) 

My own opinion is that the current situation is so complicated that no one knows what is going on.  Even the most astute and connected observers are just that: observers.    If anyone tells you they know what is going on, punch them in the throat.  If that it not possible, change the channel.

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BEEN A WHILE

Sorry, gentle reader.

Finished Speak, Memory, and traded books with my wife who has been reading Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene, for her book club.  So now I’m reading it. Supposed to be great.

Saw a couple of movies:

Vicky Christina Barcelona: Enjoyed it while watching, liked it less and less thereafter.  Of couse the women are all hot (Patricia Clarkson, call me!), and it’s titillating to watch Scarlett and Penelope mack on each other, but the whole piece left me cold at the end.  I mean, the two girls go looking for some adventure, and have one in a backpacking-around-Europe kind of way.  (spoilers) But they ultimately make the safe choices stay on the same trajectories that they were on when they went to Spain at the beginning — one marries her rich doof fiance, and the other continues to wander.  Each is offered a plausible alternative in the form of Javier Bardem, but each refuses it.   His character is the only one I feel any sympathy for, locked in his death-grip relationship with Cruz’s character.  And he’s just cool.

The voice-over narration?  Not such a good idea. 

Pineapple Express: Funny and inconsequential, although the ending was jarringly high-budget.  I’m no expert, but I’m guessing that you could have made four of the (superior) first half of the movie for what the second half cost.  but it was funny.  And inconsequential!

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ON TYPOS

Anyone who’s read this or another blog of mine should be aware that my writing is dotted with typographical errors.  Like cold sores or acne, they are a problem that one can manage but will never be able to completely eradicate.  And just like those problems, they impair one’s likelihood of enticing a partner (i.e. reader) to do the do-se-do.  They make me feel bad about myself. 

But that takes us back to the notion that is so basic so as to be tautological but which one (or two) ignoramus(es) that I run into every so often can’t seem to figure out: in order to get people to read your writing, you have to write things that people will want to read.  Nobody wants to read your shit; they want to look at it for just long enough to find something that will make them feel superior.  And typos?  They are it.  Write nesessary on your first page, and it’s all over.  Your extremely original synthesis of psychoanalysis and banana ice cream will remain unappreciated.

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[Originally posted on Facebook — yes, I know how lame that is.]

In place of the 25 things about me:

Here’s a list of albums I like to put on while I’m working. This isn’t my favorite music, necessarily (though I like it all), but these are good to play when I have to do something computer-ish or document-y and can’t be bothered to pay attention. Also, I can let the whole gramophone cylinder spin out on each of these without having to fast-forward through any tracks — which means the music is pretty uniform, but I don’t hate any song so much that I can’t stand it. And some are quite good. In no particular order:

Pink Floyd: Animals
Peter Gabriel: Passion
Grizzly Bear: Yellow House
Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
Charles Mingus: Mingus Plays Piano
Mississippi John Hurt: 1928 Sessions
Rinocerose: Rinocerose
Beethoven: Moonlight, Pathetique & Appassionata Sonatas (Rudolf Serkin)
Buena Vista Social Club: Buena Vista Social Club
REM: Life’s Rich Pageant
The Good, The Bad & the Queen: The Good, The Bad & the Queen
Radiohead: In Rainbows
Keane: Under the Iron Sea

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