Archive for December, 2010

New Year’s Eve

: any ideas?

: i just want to have fun

: stop

: i just want to have fun

: i get it

: all i want, is to have fun

: you done? happy?

: this is fun

: im sure it is

so im guessing you have no ideas

: i have no ideas

aside from the having fun part

: ok, i think i have one

: really?

: i think we should see the black swan

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The Best Book of 2010: Paul Murray’s “Skippy Dies”

“We’re too old

We’re not old at all.”

“Bear,” The Antlers

In the opening scene of Skippy Dies, in which the climactic and eponymous action of Paul Murray’s novel occurs on the floor of Ed’s Doughnut House, Daniel “Skippy” Juster attempts to scribble, with jelly as his ink, his final message to the world. “Tell Lori” is all he manages, but the intention seems clear. “Tell Lori you love her? Is that it?” his friend Ruprecht asks desperately, and Skippy exhales, smiles, and passes away.

Set in Seabrook, a fictional all-boys’ Irish secondary school, Murray’s second novel is best described as an attempt to fill in the blanks—those left by Skippy’s final message (was his final smile an affirmation of Ruprecht’s clichéd hypothesis or simply an acceptance of his death?), by his death, by lives that don’t correlate to the expected narrative arcs we seek, and by this quizzical and evolving universe around us. How exactly do we explain ourselves? Indeed, Murray quickly makes an analogy between the Big Bang and puberty: “[E]verything that is, everything that has ever been…all crammed into one dimensionless point where no rules or laws apply, waiting to fly out and become the future,” in the words of Ruprecht.

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Hindsight 2010: Top Five Most Memorable Episodes of TV

5. “God,” Louie

One of the reasons the superlative in the title of this post is “memorable” and not “best” is to make room for episodes like “God.” It wasn’t the funniest episode of the first season of Louie—and it wasn’t even necessarily my favorite—but it was certainly the most distinct and memorable episode of a show that was consistently original. I remember watching the scene in which the creepy, nameless doctor tells a young Louie to stab Jesus Christ in the wrist and thinking, “It’s very unusual that this is on television.” The dark humor, the nuanced take on religion, and the controversial point of view are all things rarely seen on TV, and yet they were precisely the kinds of things that made Louie such an innovative and enjoyable show. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while regifting…

Hindsight 2010: John Paul Stevens, Retiree of the Year

Hindsight 20/10– Over the next few days, we will be reflecting on the past year in a series of posts. Josh begins with the Retiree of the Year:

Since 2005, Supreme Court Justices Rehnquist, O’Connor, Souter, and most recently, Stevens departed from their coveted positions on the bench. As a law student, I read a lot of legal opinions by justices of the Supreme Court and federal circuit courts. The judge’s name is generally listed before the text of the opinion and naturally, some judges excite me more than others. I know I’m going to get a well-written opinion with Justice Scalia, an intellectually stimulating economic analysis of some aspect of the law under the guise of an opinion with Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner, and a witty, brilliant analysis with Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.* Only a handful of other justices’ names alone get me excited for an opinion: Of the Court’s four most recent retirees, Justice Stevens is the only one who fits into this class.

*He also showed his wit on The Dating Game (second contestant).

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This Day in Revisionist History: Christmas Edition!

December 25:

“Okay, I’m just spit-balling here, but what if we organized some type of Secret Santa?”- the rather feckless Lt. Cecil Farnsworth to his commanding officers during World War I, shortly after combat with the Germans was unofficially suspended in the famous “Christmas Truce.”

Cecil Farnsworth had been an only child, and with no siblings to compete for the affection of his parents he had enjoyed a rather privileged, sheltered childhood, especially when the holidays came around and he was spoiled with presents. But Cecil, if perhaps entitled, was also very generous, wishing to share the gift of Christmas with those around him. And it was this benevolent spirit, long engendered within him, that led to his naïve, entirely inappropriate question in the brief intermission of an otherwise savage battle. Continue reading

Jacob Marley’s Initial Reaction to “Saving” Ebenezer Scrooge

No, I’ve just got one question: What the hell, man? Why him and not me? Why was it all cool for me to proceed uninterrupted into this nightmare of chains, but oh, we can’t bear to let poor old Ebenezer rot in the same way? What has he done to earn redemption that I didn’t do, except live longer and torment more people? Seriously, it was Scrooge & Marley. His name went first! He was the alpha miser! Why does no one else see the hypocrisy in this??? Where were you Ghost of Christmas Past when my salvation hung in the balance? Ghost of Christmas Present, you couldn’t slip by the old Marley homestead eight years ago and say, “Hey Jacob, might want to not carry out that eviction on that orphanage tomorrow. Keep doing stuff like that, and you’ll end up damned eternally, if you know what I mean.” And Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come, you could have shown me an image of this blooming farce and I would’ve altered my worldview real quick. All it would have taken was a bloody hour for each of you! One hour! But no, what was the money a little tight that year, so you cut back—“no saving anyone this year”? Were you down in Whitechapel saving some whore you sanctimonious chokers? No, I’m not done. Am I wrong in wanting a blasted explanation? Am I that off base in wondering why I have to help that miserable magsman when none of you saw fit to throw a little counsel my way?

Go to hell!

A Word on Christmas Specials

If John S can rerun his attack on Christmas, Tim is compelled to react in kind. Here’s his breakdown of Christmas specials from last year.

Unlike my I-can’t-believe-I-still-call-him-a friend, John S, I love Christmas. It is, without doubt, the most wonderful time of the year.

The week before Christmas, I indulge in one of my favorite traditions: sitting down in front of the television and watching about 12 hours’ worth of Christmas specials. Now, not everyone has the time to consume all that holiday goodness (which admittedly gets a little repetitive at times), so here’s the official guide to what’s worth your time.

Must-See Specials

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The standard to which all half-hour holiday specials should be held, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) highlights Charlie’s all-too realistic desires to understand Christmas amid the haze of Christmas cards and commercialism—here represented by things such as aluminum Christmas trees, Snoopy’s Christmas decorations, and Sally’s Christmas list (about which she explains, “I only want what’s coming to me. I only want my fair share”). Charlie’s depression around the holiday is legitimate, and its ultimate solution—provided of course by his best bud, Linus—is one of my favorite scenes ever from television, with a little help from Luke. Continue reading

This Day in Revisionist History

December 22:

“Wow, talk about déjà vu! Although I still don’t know why you’re not armed, or how you guys talked me into doing this.” – Bernhard “Bernie” Goetz, after rapidly shooting four unarmed black men in a game of paintball several hours after escaping the scene of his subway shootings.

Bernie, Jamal, Deion, Marcus, and Raymond—or the “Jive Five”, as they were known in college—were virtually inseparable. In fact, Bernie’s famous (or perhaps infamous) adventure on the no. 57 subway earlier that day (read it–this whole thing will make a lot more sense if you do) marked the first time in a week that the crew had been separated for more than a few minutes during the day. They all worked together at a bread bakery they had opened just after graduating, a popular local joint by the name of “Baggoetz”, and when a bank statement detailing an unsettled loan repayment was discovered in the back office, they were left with no choice but to send one person out in the middle of the day. Bernie volunteered, telling his best friends only half-jokingly “You know they’ll go easy on a white guy!” He hurriedly finished handing out orders to the long line of customers, apologizing for the delays. He even offered an extra loaf of sourdough to a black man seated in the corner, saying “You look like you could use some bread…here’s another.” Continue reading

Survivor Survival Guide: “What about Me?”

“It comes down to knowing yourself very well. I’m very aware of the vibes I’m giving off and how people perceive them.”

—JudFabio, summarizing in two sentences the essence of Survivor

So much of this 21st season of Survivor has paled in comparison to its 20th iteration. The castaways were not only unfamiliar, but seemingly unenlightened in how to play the game. The outsize personalities were less polarizing than simply unpleasant, and none of the final five could really lay claim to controlling the game for extended periods of time.

But Survivor: Nicaragua did deliver something that Heroes vs. Villains couldn’t: a completely compelling and satisfying finale with a more-deserving-than-we-thought winner. Let’s take a spin.

FROM FIVE TO FOUR

The “Previously on…” established the narrative arcs and the relative strengths and weaknesses for each of the final five castaways. Dan had done nothing, but that included not making any enemies. Holly had a nervous breakdown before taking down the game’s most powerful player in Brenda. Chase seemed to show genuine remorse each and every time he voted off an ally. Sash had made innumerable side deals, allying himself with everyone (and, as a result, no one). JudFabio was dumb—or was he?—and is a physical threat to win immunity.

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