Monday, May 24, 2010

So it ends in Unitarian heaven?

I totally didn't see THAT coming.

Update: This refers to the series finale of "Lost".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

but of course...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb

I don't recall the article that spurred me to put Marry Him on reserve at the library, and thus was a bit puzzled when it arrived. Took it home anyway, trusting my former self's selection of reading material.

I'm glad I did because Marry Him is a joyous waltz with Schadenfreude (for a guy, at least).

The primary topic is how a certain amount of women end up alone and/or dateless because they're just too freakin' picky and/or have too many criteria that allow for easy disqualification of a potential mate (much like any given Seinfeld conversation on relationships or dating; "man hands" comes to mind). A corollary is how many of these women have such an elevated view of themselves - how hot they are, how wonderful, such a catch, etc. - that no one is really worthy of them.

The author offers herself as the poster child of these issues and delusions, bless her heart. It's a very brave book in that sense. I don't know if I could hoist myself on my own javelin like that, then grasp the shaft and keep pulling earthward.

Ms. Gottlieb made matters even worse for herself; when she approached 40 still single, she decided to go ahead and have a baby to get past the biological clock thing, fully expecting she would be "away for a year" and then could resume the hunt for Mr. Right right afterward. Again, she does a good job of scoffing at her own stupidity, but how can someone get to a place where it doesn't immediately occur to them how stupid something like that is? Is it too much fiction? Is it too many things going right in their lives, giving a false sense of imperviousness? Believing too much in "you can have it all"?

Ok, so once we get past the author's real-life voyage through the needle machine that scralls your sins on your flesh ala Kafka's "In the Penal Colony", and embrace sniggling Schadenfreude, the book is fun. A lot of fun.

Reading about all these fussy lonely-hearts who've ended up hugging their couch pillows rather than Prince Charming is akin to watching stuff blow up real good in an action movie. Especially that trope where we are shown the same explosion three times in a row for emphasis. And a bit of vindication, if you will.

Most guys I know have been dismissed or dumped for reasons we suspect were pretty trivial or overly harsh. Sometimes we merely suspect that, sometimes we get pretty good evidence that that was the case. (I was dumped once because I had chapped lips when I kissed her goodnight after a long, mid-winder outdoor group date (how many guys do you know that carry chapstick?); she told me this herself about a year later.)

When various mentors, gurus, and yentas figuratively slap Ms. Gottlieb upside the head and tell her she's not getting the point, you shake your head in wonder as you see someone live out that definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (It's also a testament to her honesty, and her ability to convey a story. As stated, I don't recall reading anything non-fiction where the author was so able to viciously critique themselves and yet still evoke empathy and sympathy.)

Btw, guys do this too. Heck, I did it apparently. One of the things my grandma told my brother and myself on her deathbed was that we should be less picky about the women we dated. We both were a bit picky at the time because we both hadn't been picky enough and had wasted too much time on someone we shouldn't have. Still, we both took her advice, and, in spite of it, I landed someone awesome - though not without dating a few frogs along the way.

Let me state that in a fair world there would be a book like this directed at men but that women enjoy for all the same ugly reasons. Alas, the women tend to get things like He's Just Not That Into You. The few that exist are more "get over yourself and take a shower and get a haircut" rather than "get over yourself, princess, you ain't all that", which aren't nearly as fun a read for women as Marry Him is for men.

So, gentlemen, pick this baby up. You're in for a blast.

Ladies, I'd avoid it unless you discover this book is about you. However, if it is, a dose of the tonic my grandma gave me might be your love potion number 9.

For your enjoyment, here's the original "Atlantic" article: Marry Him!: and some related articles: un, dos, tres.
Naked Lunch Does Suck

Most of my friends are avid readers, and to my puzzlement, many of them have loved the odious Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Especially back in the mid-80s when we were immersed in the Minneapolis music scene, where quite a few artists and musicians were adherents to the turgid tome.

I was never able to get beyond a few chapters (or pages, don't recall which), and at the time just wrote it off as one of those books that were beyond ME - meaning I was the problem, not the book. I have since reversed that opinion, particularly after seeing the movie with my wife (her review: "I never want to see anything like that again. Ever.").

So, I read this article in Salon with relish. (My but some of the comments are nasty. You'd think this was a discussion on religion - which I guess for some it is.)

Here's my favorite quote:
Still, "Naked Lunch" serves a very valuable and reliable purpose. Get to it early enough, somewhere between the Hardy Boys and Holden Caulfield, and the fatigue and tedium will inoculate you against all sorts of intellectual malfeasance. You'll never swallow the line that obscenity is a hallmark of genius, or that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom (usually it leads to the palace of excess, except when it leads to the hovel of incomprehensibility). Dismiss Burroughs as a pull-my-finger bore and you're ready to dismiss Matthew Barney, Damien Hirst, the Chapman Brothers, Jonathan Littell and a host of others too dull to mention.

Oh snap!
Taking Notes

I usually avoid writing about work because I think it can be dangerous (Dooced anyone), and it can just be deadly dull (not that we've shied away from that around here). Ask the wife about having to listen rants about work.

Anyway, I was in the bizarre, nay surreal, position lately where it was suggested to me that I take notes in a different fashion. (For the second time - read on.)

Yes, there I was, and something that I think we all unconsciously view as somewhat of a personal thing was brought up as a "I've noticed this, and here's how I think you can improve" topic - unbidden, btw. Among all the things that are wrong with that, the reality that someone was actually watching how I take notes and was mentally criticizing gives me the creeps.

If I were eight, or maybe even thirteen, and a teacher was giving me tips on note-taking, that'd be OK. Or, if I was taking notes for someone else's consumption, I'd produce what they wanted. But when it's notes for myself, who gives a flying fuck whether they're in Swahili or just a bunch of doodles of animals?

TLD: Way back in high school, one teacher warned us that we better take good notes during the guest lecture about to be given, because he was going to compare his notes to ours. He sat next to me in the back (my favorite place as I am genetically incapable of sitting still), and he drew some pretty decent renderings of pheasants - which were not the topic of the lecture - and nothing else. Back then I was a little more willing take a chance and jab at an absurdity, even if it could have consequences for me, so I drew a pheasant on my notes too (which did have actual content about the lecture), and handed that in. I got a "B", I believe.

For a class in college, we were supposed to keep a journal with the end goal of using it for the fiction we were eventually supposed to produce. The prof. informed us from the start he would also be reviewing these journals, so we were to keep that in mind when recording them and don't include things like "Jill in Econ 201 has a nice butt." The comment he made upon giving mine back was something like: you don't take notes so much as to record reminders of what the original thought was. Which is true - save for some phrases I want to preserve whole.

So maybe my mystery note-taking spy has also gone so far as to read over my shoulder and see that my notes are very concise and not exact reproductions of the information. But again, who should give a damn other than me?

My current form of note-taking when I don't have a laptop (or it's one of those meetings where computers are verboten) is employing notebook-like post-it notes. I came across this idea using Microsoft's wonderful OneNote application and fell in love with the paradigm of being able to rearrange notes taken on the fly into a more cogent form later. With a pad of notebook-like post-its, you can do the almost the same thing. And if a page is meaningless, you can discard it.

Well, that was apparently the offense I gave with my note-taking style: I was observed (again, creepy creepy creepy) throwing away some of the pages from amongst my notes right after a meeting. This (as reported) gave the impression that my notes were "too ephemeral", "too disposable".

The suggestion then made was that I get a sturdy notebook or bound volume and take "better notes" (actual words used) in sequential order, and then just store them when I'm done, in case I ever need to refer to them. I do eventually throw my paper notes away after I capture them on computer, so yes, I do not have the original hardcopy sitting around. But, I implore you yet again, why should anyone but me care?

Oh, and one of the reasons I use paper notes at all is I used to use my blackberry, because I'm a decent miniature keyboard typist (though most teens type circles around me), and I'd use the note feature to take my notes. However, this prompted the first unsolicited commentary on my note-taking, which was: it gave the impression (and that phrase was used both times: "gave the impression") that I was texting and not listening, so bring a pencil and paper next time. Which means I have to spend cycles transcribing paper notes into electronic form.

I could tell as this (second note-taking suggestions for a better future) encounter went on that I wasn't doing a very good job of disguising my incredulous facial expressions. I don't really know, but I had the strong impression that the person telling me these things was not the person who conceived them. So, while I was miffed at actually having to have a conversation like this, and not having the option to burst out laughing and suggest this indivdual find better things to do with their time (in the most obscene way I could think to phrase it), I did have pity for them as they were probably instructed to pass on this information, and thus had to face the absurdity of delivering the same.

Can you believe this shite?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

More Trivia from the Special Features

As noted below, I'm going through the special features on DVDs from the library, since they're all later or deluxe editions.

Here's a great one from Lilo and Stitch. In the actual film, they use a spaceship that the aliens used to come to earth to rescue Lilo. This is the original sequence, which as you can see was finished for the most part, but then 9/11 happened, and they felt using a jet this way would just be wrong. It would be interesting to have a list and a cost of all the films and other media that were changed due to that evil event.