Saturday, February 24, 2007

In one week

The "Write All Night" challenge is one week from today! Well, technically, it's one week from midnight tonight/tomorrow morning. But really, next Saturday I'm going to wake up thinking about it, trying to save my energy. After 11 pm, I'll start brewing coffee. JPG, Mike, George, and I will be writing, staving off sleep as long as we can, posting updates. Go read JPG's challenge and sign on to do it. You know you want to.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hey Douchebag! John Dickerson Edition

I know I'm posting a little too regularly for someone who claims to be on hiatus, but John Dickerson's latest nonsense on Slate required another addition to my occasional "Hey Douchebag!" series. (For more, click here; for an explanation of the "Hey Douchebag!" series, click here.)

The background: David Geffen, founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of Dreamworks, said the following in an interview with Maureen Dowd: "Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling." Geffen also called Hillary Clinton an "incredibly polarizing figure." Geffen's no right-wing hack; now a Barack Obama backer and fundraiser, he used to donate lots of money to Bill Clinton.

In response, the Clinton team demanded that Obama sever ties with Geffen and renounce his comments. Given the Clintons' history with politics and money, that demand is incredibly ironic, to say the least. (Note: Generally speaking, I like the Clintons, but they have some major moral failures I cannot reconcile with my own personal beliefs.) Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs, responded thusly:

"We aren't going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters. It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because 'he's black.'"

Pretty apt, and a fair defense. Sure, it's a negative response, but it's certainly fair. Geffen's an independent person with no obligation to vet his public views.

Dickerson's Douchebaggery: Dickerson claims Hillary Clinton looks better in this battle because Obama has vowed to run a campaign without mudslinging. Here's the relevant portion of Dickerson's piece:

"The response from the Obama campaign was good, old-fashioned hardball. You call me a hypocrite, and I'll respond by raising something out of your ugly past. But that wasn't the way Obama has said he'll play the game. It's very hard to run in the political system while simultaneously running against the system, but that's what has seemed so audacious about his campaign rhetoric. He has promised to lay down a lot of political weapons, and voters will reward him for taking that risk. But apparently, the weapons are still in his back pocket. (An Obama aide says I'm "overthinking" things.)

Does the Clinton team look a little thin-skinned? Yes, but they'll take the rap for being thin-skinned if they can show their opponent to be a hypocrite."

Ridiculous. Dickerson's first problem: Gibbs' response was accurate and fair; if every campaign had to disavow every statement from a contributor and return donations, campaigns would have little money. Politicans are responsible for what they and their staff members say, not for what their supporters say.

Dickerson's second problem: He says the Clinton team looks "a little thin-skinned." Actually, they look very thin-skinned, shrill, and unnecessarily reactionary. There's something very desperate about their behavior. One of Clinton's top advisors, Howard Wolfson, absurdly refers to Geffen as Obama's "finance chair," even though Geffen is only a fundraiser. Plus, he calls Gibbs' response an attack on "personal behavior." Actually, no, how one uses the White House to repay big donors and relies on endorsements that make baldly backward claims (Ford) is political, not personal. Of course, the Clinton campaign is apparently pointing to Dickerson's piece as support. Douchebaggery all around.

What Chicky missed last night

Last night, I hosted a graduate reading, and it went very well. The three readers were fantastic, and a good time was had by all. Most, anyway.

But C-Wang wasn't there! Chicky, why hast thou forsaken me (and three other people)? Oh, yeah, you're reading for comps. Okay, fine, that's a good reason. But here's what you missed: in honor of yesterday's being Ash Wednesday, I shared an early draft of T.S. Eliot's poem "Ash Wednesday." Enjoy.

Cash Wednesday

Because I hear the train a-comin’
Because I hear
Because I hear the train
I’m stuck in Folsom prison
and time, time present and time past,
both perhaps present in time future,
keeps draggin’ on.
April is the cruellest month in Folsom.

In the room the women come and go
Talkin’ of a boy named Sue.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare to shoot a man in Reno
just to watch him die?” Yeah, I do.
“Do I dare to take a shot of cocaine
and shoot my woman down?” Hell yeah.

I bet there’s rich folks eatin’ on a fancy dinin’ car;
They’re probably drinking coffee
and measurin’ out their lives in coffee spoons.

O O O O that Shakespeherian rag,
so elegant,
so intelligent,
because it’s mine. I walk the line.

We only live, only suspire,
Consumed by a burning ring of fire.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bloggus interruptus

Just to let you know, I'm going on a little hiatus. I'm a little busy even though I have the month off, writing and reading and finishing off some long overdue work. But I'll be back soon, definitely before the all night writing starts.

Monday, February 12, 2007

This seems right to me

"So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one's days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance conversations, but the stream of the unconscious continues to flow undisturbed, solving problems, planning ahead: one sits down sterile and dispirited at the desk, and suddenly the words come as though from the air: the situations that seemed blocked in a hopeless impasse move forward: the work has been done while one has slept or shopped or talked with friends." --Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

Well, maybe not 100% correct, but close.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The voice of Funkytown

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The Inland North
The South
North Central
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ahem, Part the Second

Or, An Open Letter to the Students Masturbating at the Urinal of the Third Floor Men's Room of Aged Philanthropist Hall

Dear Masturbators:

It’s time we had a frank, open discussion about your public habits. Despite years of schooling, you’ve decided that you must, you must masturbate in the third-floor men’s room right by my office. About a quarter of my trips to the restroom are marred by your obsessive, noisy, distracting, and just plain sad self-love. For God’s and Pete’s sakes, you’ve chosen to shake hands with the unemployed in a dank, poorly lit public restroom with stalls painted black and a window that looks out on a closed-in bit of roofing, a restroom that often runs out of soap. Have you no dignity, not even the barest shred of care for cleanliness?

Look, I understand The Call: you keep thinking about that ad on the side of the bus, or you almost asked that girl out but didn’t because she saw her friend across the quad, or you had an in-class argument with that girl who annoys you but also kind of turns you on, or you were listening to “We Are the Champions” and felt like the coolest motherfucker on the planet. We’ve all been there. (Well, maybe not “there,” but you know what I mean. Don’t you?) But believe me, you can wait. Even if you live far away from campus, you can hold it in.

I feel compelled to address you not only as a group, but also singly (though God knows you’ve been addressing yourself singly quite a bit). So here goes, in no particular order:

  • Tall Guy: If you’re going to rub one out in public, at least have the decency to sit down. I can identify you; anyone who walks into the restroom can. Your entire head sticks up over the stall when you stand. You’re tall. Believe me, as a tall man, I understand how that goes. But not only do I immediately hear you working when I walk in, I can see your head shaking a bit. Oh, by the way, your hair looks uneven in the back.
  • Radio: Can you hear me over the song you’re playing? I think you can, because I can hear the faint tell-tale sounds of a man turning Japanese, as the saying goes. I suppose I could credit you for trying to cover the sounds of your pleasure, but, quite frankly, it’s odd to sit on a toilet and hear a person quietly walk in, enter a stall, and turn on music. And could you really find nothing better than generic mid-90s rap? That seems like it would be too distracting. You couldn’t listen to, say, Kylie Minogue or Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”? Could you not find your Madonna CDs?
  • Cool Shoes: If you’re going to play with yourself, for Thor’s sake, don’t wear a cool pair of shoes. You don’t want to ruin them. Oh, and could you tell me where I could get a pair? Seriously, those are cool shoes.


Crazy L. Thing

Interesting link on copyright

Slate has an interesting pop-up photo essay on copyright in art and photography. It's worth your time.

It's me, Thomas Pynchon!

Actually, no, I'm not Thomas Pynchon. Not even close. However, I will be taking part in the most famous midnight ride since Paul Revere's:

This challenge we'll call Write All Night and it's too take place in the wee hours as March 3rd fades and March 4 begins. There's one rule. Start at midnight and go as long as you can, till dawn if possible. If you crap out, you crap out, but at least you tried. I'm going to do it and I'm going to post an entry every couple hours that night/morning just so you know you're not alone.

Feeling the funk? Join in. I'm looking at you, Wanda.

I wonder if Pynchon ever types his name into Google.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Your Ultimate Super Bowl XLI Pick

Why you should pick the Chicago Bears:

Do you really want to be in a group (other than, say, income bracket) with the Director of the CIA, Bill O'Reilly, Larry King, noted predictologist Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, the guy who created Dilbert, Dick Vitale, Jack Valenti, Jim Christ Caviezel, Adam West, Vanilla Ice, Carrot Top, Terl, and Jim Cramer?

Of course, there is one very good reason not to pick the Bears.

One can hope, I suppose

I think Yahoo! News is getting a little invasive, don't you?