April 29, 2005
The Late, Great Dennis Miller
I rant, therefore I am. ~ Dennis Miller
I happened upon Miller's Crossing today. It's as dead-on-balls-accurate now as it was when I first read it.
Once upon a time there was no man higher on my CILF list than Dennis Miller. He was smart and cocky and sexy and glib. He knew geeky references you can't look up in books. Even when his writing was obviously aided by others, he carried it off. When his rambling started to skew more smug than fun, that Cheshire cat grin of his just continued to work for me. His anchor time on the SNL news segments will never be equaled as far as I'm concerned. Hell, I was even one of the three people who enjoyed him on Monday Night Football.
He was never a true liberal, although many try to remember him as one. He was an equal opportunity ranter and his politics were down the center. That was okay with me. I am not above laughing at the liberal party. It's very laughable, more's the pity.
Then came 9/11. And something in Miller's demeanor started to go horribly astray. The angry-young-man turned smug-middle-aged-smart-ass was, quite, obviously, frightened by the world he was trying to mock. Because of that, his punchlines started sounding more like the American hate-mongering that was so prevalent at the time than the smart "don't try and bullshit me" bull he'd once been. Yosemite Sam replaced Bugs Bunny in the Looney Toon of Miller's life.
I remember very distinctly watching an episode of the last season of HBO's Dennis Miller Live with Alec Baldwin as the featured guest. The topic was supposed to be "Truth in the Media" but Miller ended up, well, going off on a rant. In fact he was borderline psychotic, casting out ridiculous notions like nuking the Middle East ("sand and fire make glass"). It had never been more obvious that somewhere, deep down, what he was saying wasn't meant to be funny. He wasn't kidding. No, he didn't think we would really nuke the Middle East, but it was clear it would have been okay with him if we had.
Baldwin said something along the lines of "we really have to try to heal some of the anger people like you are feeling because it's scaring the rest of us." I've never been a big Alec Baldwin fan, but I think it was possibly the smartest sentiment he's ever voiced.
After 9/11 I was less afraid of terrorists and way more afraid of Americans. That remains true to this day. Terrorists can only take my life. What my fellow Americans can take from me is far more dear. It was clear that Miller's fears and mine weren't on the same wavelength any longer.
What followed was a horrible path of zig-zagging on his part. He embraced George Bush as a great leader for reasons I'll never be able to fathom. He began spewing GOP talking points as if they made sense. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I believe he grabbed a memo and told Karl Rove he'd suit up, exactly. I just think he was hanging out with too many people who say the same things to each other over and over. It infiltrated his dialog and invaded his sense of humor. His funny was no longer funny. It was just downright depressing.
I have never been a fair-weather fan (my football teams are the Dolphins and Saints for all that's holy. Trust me, I beg for the occasional bout of fair weather!), so, I held on as long as I could. But after an HBO stand-up hour where I didn't laugh but twice (and I think that was more out of sympathy than genuine humor), and a showing on Bill Maher's Real Time where he got served by Ariana Huffington of all people, I was starting to lose my respect for the man. The last nail in the coffin as far as I wan concerned was the first episode of his CNBC talk show. Somewhere around the time he started blowing kisses at his pet ape, I felt ill. I made it to the end, and then decided to mourn what was gone and move on. I really haven't thought about him much since.
I couldn't help feeling pleasantly surprised recently when he popped up on The Daily Show. Of course, that "happy to see you" feeling was not to last. There was Dennis, riffing off old stock jokes, defending George Bush and explaining once again how he thinks global warming is a non-issue in one-liners that really do make sense if you're comfortable thinking in two-dimensional terms instead of the three that are required for complex issues. But what I found most interesting (and disturbingly piteous) in the interview was the almost apologetic way he kept repeating "Hey, I'm a libertarian." I don't watch his CNBC show, but I'm of the opinion that if you have to brand yourself two or three times over a five-minute segment, you're trying to make up for something. At the end of his appearance I couldn't help thinking, "I obviously haven't been missing anything."
I must admit, I caught a glimpse -- just a glimpse -- of something familiar. It might have been hopeful thinking. It probably was.
Among with all else that was lost on 9/11, I have to say that it pains me just a touch to have lost Dennis as well. I continue to hope he heals enough to buy his soul back from whatever machine he sublet it to. Although, it's been my experience your soul is something that, once hocked, is damn hard to buy back.
Then again, I'm not sure Mr. Miller would give a fig about the opinion of your average everyday American phone slut ;-)
April 28, 2005
The Girl I Am
Girls have an unfair advantage over men: if they can't get what they want by being smart, they can get it by being dumb. ~ Yul Brynner
Why do I take such foolish pleasure in silly quizzes that cannot possibly measure the worth of a person or deliver any sort of real insight? Who knows. Well, I always take them twice and I always come out with two different results each time. So, I'm apparently somewhere between:
Think this is dumb? Blame Ray.
April 12, 2005
Tell your friend a lie. If he keeps it secret, then tell him the truth. ~ Portuguese Proverb
I'm not sure whether Post Secret is ultimately fascinating or disturbing, but it is often both for me. It reminds me somewhat of MTV's late "Love Line" where you had the impression 80% of the questions weren't legitimate, but were being asked to give the person what they thought of as their five minutes of fame.
But it's the other 20% that gets me. When you see confessions like:
"I liked myself better as a boy."
"I started shooting heroin again."
"Everyone who knew me before 9/11 thinks I'm dead."
"I haven't told my father that I have the same disease that killed my mother."
"For years I hurt myself so that he'd notice me."
And you think: "...if just one of those is true...."
Police say that the urge to confess has helped solve more cases than fingerprint identification.
So, I'm not sure. Is it more cynical to believe the majority of these are true, or to think of them as bogus, even when the potential "fame seekers" have little to gain attention-wise?
March 31, 2005
Burnt Out Ends of Smoky Days
"I have done that," says my memory. "I cannot have done that," says my pride, and remains adamant. At last, memory yields. ~ Nietzsche
Memory is a funny frickin thing.
In my first year of college I took a music appreciation class wherein I was exposed to a piece of contemporary instrumental music that made a lasting impression. I remembered that the piece had to do with Hiroshima, but not the title or the composition period. It wasn’t really important to me at the time, but a few years later I started wanting to lay ears on it again. So I began looking from time to time, or asking friends who I thought might have an idea. Each time, every piece I was exposed to in the quest never seemed familiar. Until recently when I was provided with “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima” by Krzysztof Penderecki. The sequences about 5 minutes into the piece is exactly what my memory recalls. But the first 5 minutes is nothing at all of what I remember. In my mind the start of the piece was a lush, exotic mix of reeds and winds and bamboo all leading to an abrupt siren scream of strings.
Where on earth did that impression come from? Did I somehow mix Platoon’s “Adagio for Strings” and Haydn’s “Surprise Symphony” and this piece all together in my head? Where did this false memory come from and how can I remember my high school locker combination clearly while this musical piece is like overwritten hard disk space with ghosts of other data jumbling the stored files?
Bad medicine. Bart no like.
I have some comfort that the phenomenon is not isolated to either a single medium or singularly to myself.
While having a conversation not to long ago, I was discussing how sexual sequences in otherwise mainstream films are often played up in our memories. I had, for example, played up an attempted rape sequence in Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider in my memory as something yummy. Upon seeing it again, it was so brief and non-erotic that I could hardly believe I’d even made room for it in my pre-teen hormonal storage banks.
A friend had a similar experience with Death Wish (the original). In his mind the rape sequence in the beginning (which is still deliciously filthy despite featuring Jeff Goldblum in a Jughead cap) had the hooligans spray-painting a bull’s-eye onto the behind of the daughter character during her rape. However, the spray-painting in question is all willy-nilly and not at all as organized as a bull’s-eye. Yet this had been a very specific memory replayed for erotic purposes in his mind’s eye many times.
Aside: I was shocked at the sequence when I saw it recently. For a film made in 1974 the language and violence were graphic (not “bloody graphic” in a Tarintino or Peckinpah style, but graphic none-the-less) and the content was surprisingly complex. Quite a contrast against the heritage it would eventually lend to.
But, anyway, back to memory. Where do these Frankenstein “I’m sure I’m right, I remember it clearly” false memories come from? How can something so vivid be nothing but phantoms playing tag with reality?
The human body is seriously flawed. I want root access. We need medical sci-fi geeks to pick up the fucking pace already.
March 20, 2005
The God of Cream Cheese
You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!" ~ Dave Barry
My puppy dog (and, constant companion) was not well. Sure, his vet appointment to update his shots, et al,l was only two weeks away, but after a sleepless night of listening to him barely breathing, I opted for the next-day emergency appointment. (Under the best of circumstances I am a nag to friends and family about being better safe than sorry -- for a creature relying entirely on my care, I'm a basket case).
When I spoke with vet reps on the phone I got that lukewarm response you always get when you try to explain symptoms over the phone to medical personnel. He had a bad cough, fits of reverse sneezing, and had to gasp for breath every time he moved or attempted to eat or drink. It turns out these were symptoms for everything from kennel cough to heart worms.
Being a little dog, my nibblet doesn't ask for much. I mean, sure, he is spoiled beyond comprehension, but that's his due. By and large, so long as he can snack with me and get his belly rubbed 15 hours a day, he's happy. Sure there is the occasional tendency to hump squeak toys when I'm on with clients, or bark at those silly passersby who don't understand the sidewalk is still considered his territory. But he's not a demanding, fidgety hard-to-please sort.
Infectious Tracheobronchitis in dogs is commonly referred to as "kennel cough" and it is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract that affects mostly the trachea and bronchi. It's viral and is either caught by contact with another dog who has it, or via some kind of bacteria. In my pup's case, I'm pretty sure patient zero was my housekeeper's dog. Since this was such a serious case of it, my pup couldn't even leave the vet's office via the waiting room, but instead was ushered out the back door. It was one of the worst cases the vet had ever seen, and while it is a somewhat common thing, it's dangerous to leave untreated.
Now, I was relieved that it was just a case of kennel cough (however bad) and so when I was given Clavamox (amoxicillin trihydrate / clavulanate potassium)and some other cough meds to administer, I didn't think anything of it. But, it turns out that spoiled dogs don't so much like the taste of medication. Go figure.
Enter cream cheese.
After wrestling for 20 minutes trying to force-feed a pill the size of a ladybug into my dog's mouth, I gave up and pressed the damn thing into a finger full of cream cheese. He sucked it down like it was the best thing in the world.
Now all I need is a doggie treadmill to help him work off those extra calories.
February 26, 2005
She Ain't Heavy, She's My Diary
A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double. ~ Toni Morrison
Of two sisters one is always the watcher, one the dancer. ~ Louise Glück
I have issues with people who blog about blogging. Which is a trifle silly, being as blogging is about your life and the activities within that human subset. Naturally, given that blogging is one of those actions, you may, from time to time want to rant/talk/rhapsodize about it. But it gets all space-time-continuum on me. Like standing between two mirrors and looking to the side to glimpse the infinite reincarnations of yourself. A little narcissistic and dizzying.
But it occurs to me that while I'm still tinkering with the style sheet and trying out colors (yes, I picked these colors ON PURPOSE -- some colors were rejected and went away bitter) and agonizing over layout quirks I might want to explain why I am going to maintain both a Diary and a Blog. At least in theory.
Short answer: I'm too stubborn to give up Diary. Long answer isn't that simple (thus, it is the long answer).
Yes, I have an affection for Diary. In fact, when I started out Diary was php and used dynamic software (its software was intended for use with news sites, but that's neither here nor there). It just didn't work for me. From a business standpoint, straight HTML reads better in search engines. From a me standpoint, I could control every aspect of the html: I understood it and could manipulate it as I wished. I didn't ever have to rely on someone else for aid. But now, updating Diary is a hassle in comparison to dynamic blog software. And so, I've carved out this space -- for my day to day silliness. I can post pics or rant about politics, or flitter about the weather and it is nearly effortless. Besides, it will keep me off message boards were trouble breeds.
But I can't just do the same thing to Diary. First of all, many people have linked to individual entries and it feels disingenuous to change it all now. Second, well, the search engine benefits still apply business-wise. And, lastly, I just *want* it there. I want it to be hard work to update it. To be a deliberate act; my personal little ritual. To be there when I have something more to say than just the banter that pops into my head. Something I needed to stew over and delve into more deeply. And I'd like to keep the industry stuff over there instead of here. Sort of like separating my work space from my personal space. Though, let's face it, we all know I'm going to overlap. The tracks of my various trains of thought criss-cross diabolically, which is why there are so many collisions.
Who knows. Maybe I'll fall in love with straight-up blogging and retire the Diary. Or maybe it'll just be one more duality in a life already flush with dualities.
Anyway, I thought if I'm going to give this space its due, I needed to explain to it what made it different from its older sibling. Hopefully, it'll cut down on the hair-pulling.
February 23, 2005
I haven't fought a windmill in a fortnight
A little gossip, a little chat A little idle talk of this and that... ~ Joe Darion
Finally! A place to spew my daily insanity and dust out the bric-a-brac of my noggin.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.