Archive for May, 2011

Monday Medley

What we read while Oprah commenced Phase Two…

A Brief Explanation of Toilet Humor

The popularity of “toilet humor” is a commonly accepted, and often lamented, fact of comedy. Some—particularly fans of “smart” comedy—complain that a meticulously well-crafted punchline will sometimes get less of a laugh than a hackneyed fart joke.

People also tend to read a lot into the popularity of crass humor, citing it as an example of society’s declining intelligence, or its immaturity. They accuse a certain type of comedian of pandering, or doing cheap jokes.

A scene from Bridesmaids provides a perfect recent example: Nearly every review I have read of this film has specifically mentioned a scene in which the bridal party gets food poisoning—of a particularly graphic kind—while trying on dresses at a fancy bridal shop. Continue reading

What We Assume Tampa Bay’s Locker Room Looked Like Last Month

Ranking Bob Dylan Songs, #100: Down the Highway

Happy Birthday, Bob

http://www.vbox7.com/play:1ccec3f1?r=google

The Bob Dylan Rankings have been on an extended hiatus, but they’re back today—in honor of Dylan’s 70th birthday— with “Down the Highway,” from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. It’s something of an odd selection: In addition to not being a particularly memorable song, it’s also incongruous with Dylan hitting an age so neatly associated with old age. “Down the Highway” is a playful and undeveloped song, and in some ways immature.

Nevertheless, “Down the Highway” allows us to delve into one of the most ubiquitous motifs of Dylan’s now seven-decade-long life: the road. What, after all, is Dylan’s obsession with highways? Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while believers got their comeuppance…

TV on the Radio: The Survivor Finale

As if Tim hasn’t written enough on the subject, today he’s teaming up with John S to break down the finale (and reunion!) of Survivor: Redemption Island. Was this season exciting? Was Rob a villain? Was Philip actually crazy? Who was better looking: Andrea or Ashley? And will Parvati be back next season? Click here and all these questions and more will be discussed and speculated on.

Survivor Survival Guide: “Seems Like a No-Brainer”

“I obviously have the most to lose.” —Rob

“Let’s just focus on relaxing today.” —Natalie

In the end, it was bound to be disappointing. There were two ways the Survivor: Redemption Island finale could have gone last night: It could have been just and unexciting, or it could have been exciting and unjust.

It was the former.

Boston Rob Mariano finally broke through, claiming the $1 million prize in his fourth attempt on Survivor in a finale that lacked drama or controversy. It was, as the season has been pretty much since the fourth episode, a coronation of Boston Rob.

But let’s save those final thoughts for the end. First, a recap of “Seems Like a No-Brainer.”

Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while trying to replace Tim with Ashton Kutcher…

The Pale King and the Absence of Finality

DFW's Unfinished Novel

“He felt in a position to say he knew now that hell had nothing to do with fires or frozen troops. Lock a fellow in a windowless room to perform rote tasks just tricky enough to make him have to think, but still rote, tasks involving numbers that connected to nothing he’d ever see or care about, a stack of tasks that never went down, and nail a clock to the wall where he can see it, and just leave the man there to his mind’s own devices.”

“The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theater. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all—all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify an audience[…]Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality—there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand? Here is the truth—actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.”

After David Foster Wallace’s death in 2008, his former literary agent, along with his widow and his editor, ventured into his office to find a 250-page manuscript left on the center of his desk, as if Wallace were offering one last gift to the literary world. As Bonnie Nadell, the agent, told The New York Times, “If there had been a spotlight on those pages, it could not have been more obvious.”

The Pale King is being greeted as a kind of swan song for Wallace, one of the greatest writers in American history. In that respect, it is doomed to fail for a few basic reasons. First, I would be very surprised if The Pale King is indeed the last work that is published under Wallace’s name. Since Wallace’s death in 2008, publishers have managed to find very creative ways to release his older works* and even the inside flap of The Pale King seems to imply that there is more to come (“He died in 2008, leaving behind unpublished work of which The Pale King is a part.”).

* These have ranged from good-faith attempts to expose an unpublished work, to rushed efforts to feed the growing demand for his voice, to downright exploitive attempts to turn his work into a mass-market self-help book.

The other main reason that The Pale King can’t really grant “closure” to his fans is that the work itself lacks closure—the novel remains unfinished. Continue reading

Survivor Survival Guide: Previewing the Finale

It’s really the finale already? Sure doesn’t seem like it, does it, what with the eight castaways still having a chance and only a single big move made all season, way back in the third episode, right?

It’s nigh impossible to judge this 22nd season of Survivor and its concomitant introduction of Redemption Island now, on the day of the finale episode, since so much about the season has yet to be defined. This is true to an extent of every season, but how Redemption Island plays out in tonight’s finale will go a long way toward determining how this season is remembered. If one of the four remaining castaways on Redemption — Matt, Mike, Andrea and Grant — comes back to win the game, well, it couldn’t help but cheapen the concept just a little.

So it is with more trepidation than usual that I approach this finale, anxious not only that someone I don’t want to win will walk away with $1M, but rather that someone I find overwhelmingly undeserving will.

Continue reading