Archive for July, 2007

There is a scene in Farenheit 451 (that’s Truffaut, 1966, not Moore) where Linda, wife of disillusioned book-burner Montag, greets his return home with great enthusiasm about her role in the evening’s television program. She sits on the living room floor in front of the screen, as a bland scripted conversation unfolds between two actors, interrupted by brief pauses when a red light flashes and a buzzer sounds. At these moments the actors turn to the viewer and say something like, “What do you think, Linda?” about party seating arrangements, or something equally superfluous. During the pause, it is Linda’s turn to say, “I agree,” or, “Why not seat her next to cousin Mary?” and then the program continues, regardless of her response.

I watched a number of clips from the CNN/Youtube hosted debates of the Democratic presidential hopefuls with a bit of the same unsettling dissatisfaction this scene produces. (more…)


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Bringing up pacifists

“Do you think Hulk and Spider-man would like to drive your tractors?”

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I figure a hat tip is in order once somebody’s directed me to more than one book I can’t wait to read. As with most living breathing folks, Kester’s not someone I know personally, but I’m really digging his stuff. Surely one of you knows him: The Dope Is That There’s Still Hope.

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Legislating morality

Today we saw a guy in a Prius smoking a cigarette, and it gave us a great idea for a new LA city ordinance.

On a related note, we were in IKEA the other day, and they are now selling their merch lugging bags for 49 cents or something, with the warning that they will soon be charging customers 5 cents a bag to use disposable plastic. You can read more about it here (please do not print this article).

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1) I’ve got a lot of music in the just-what-I’ve-always-wanted new release pile this summer, but somehow Ryan AdamsEasy Tiger is tickling me just right. It’s got this wonderful, easy, meandering Emmylou Harissness to it. Adams was an alt-country darling who never captured my heart, but I’m into this album. Guitar solo.

2) We saw Junebug this weekend. We get through the wife’s queue a lot faster than my cinemambitions. It was good. Strong and silent. I’m still in the rumination phase. Amy Adams.

3) Flight of the Conchords, my friends. Flight. of. the. Conchords.

4) We’ve been building the young’un’s library recently, and here are a few of my favorite recent adds: My Book of Thanks, The Man and the Vine, M Is for Music, Our Father. Of course, we are also very well read on trucks. Editor’s Note: And, grateful for the gift books! Notice above I said these were “my” favorites. 🙂

5) I’ve been using myYahoo for some time as a homepage, a good place to collect my favorite headlines and a few links, but always feel like Yahoo (or Google, which I tried for a while) is the man, and the man is against everything I believe in. Yahoo hates Santa. Anyway, I’m quite pleased with Netvibes, which doesn’t give me that “the man” feeling, and, after a little adjusting, does the job nicely. It’s probably still the man, I know. Mac is the man. Peet’s is the man. Bob Dylan’s the man. You gotta serve somebody.

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Weeping and gnashing

I wonder where that sheet of paper is
with the instructions
and warnings
about how to care for my wounded mouth
after my wisdom teeth were removed.

I hope it didn’t say
that chicken curry
is not a good choice,
or that exact measurements are critical
when mixing the saltwater rinse.

How long after anesthesia should I have avoided
important decisions
(“because the next day you might change your mind”)?
Like, sending a church-wide e-mail
about loosening restrictions on distribution of medical marijuana?

I wonder where that sheet of paper is,
and whether,
if I had read it again,
the left side of my head would feel less
like a glowing cattle brand is wedged in my jaw?

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At the behest of my two favorite podcasts, WBEZ’s This American Life and WNYC’s On the Media, I tried out WNYC’s Radio Lab this week, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It sounds like what the Sesame Street/MTV generation did to visual culture happening in your ears. The two shows I’ve listened to have focused on a more or less scientific question – the origins of morality and memory – but given a cultural and human take, along with some compelling data to start from.

Today I listened to the show on memory. They quote Proust saying, in an unfamiliar setting when you momentarily lose yourself, memory is a “rope let down from heaven” that reaffirms identity and meaning; reality. The scientific opening pitch suggests that the act of remembering is always imaginative, always creative. Almost like in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it is possible to locate and effect a memory as it is recalled. Memories are formed each time they occur, rather than stored complete in a safe place for convenient and accurate replay (they didn’t address where the building blocks of those memories are when not in use, unless you go with the rope metaphor). The scientists interviewed assert that the most pure memory is one less often recalled. Context and experience continue to reshape memories over time. (more…)

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