Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin cartoon

Or should it be, "Palin, cartoon."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Favorite flicks in September

The Fall
Burn After Reading
Son of Rambow

Cassandra's Dream

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I'm ill too!

"I'll try to find ya some and I'll bring 'em to YA!"

A slightly more comic version...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I got a new kitty today. Kevin's feral cat had kittens who mostly lived in the bathroom, going in and out of the cupboard. Posey's last moment of happiness was running out to greet Kevin and prancing around the room before he put her in the cat carrier and spirited her out to the car.

She has her own bedroom here until we see how King Deighv reacts. Bella has been standing guard outside the door and can't figure out why she can't go in and see the kitty.

Posey is hiding in the closet next to some luggage. She alternates between crying and hissing at me. I hope it doesn't take long for her to adjust, it's making me feel like a terrible person, wrenching her away from her brothers and 24/7 fun.

I'll take some pics as soon as she is relaxed.

This isn't her.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Dude Abides: Zenlightenment

The 10th Anniversary of The Big Lebowski is here and I have nothing to wear!

Not to worry, it's just a DVD. Back in all their glory - John Turturro as Jesus, Sam Elliott as The Stranger, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the assistant, Steve Buscemi as Donny... poor Donny. Not to mention Aimee Mann, Tara Reid, Julianne Moore, Ben Gazzara, David Thewlis - everyone was in this movie, even Carlos Leon, Madonna's baby daddy. Flea, taking a real stretch in his role as a nihilist: "We believe in nothink!"

But Jeff Bridges stood out from the crowd like Elvis Costello stood out from disco. The Dude, the Dudester, or Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing. What's it like to live in the moment? Ask the Dude. No one gets him - he is written off as a slacker, a stoner, a thief, etc. But he is steadfast, he is himself, he is always the essence of Dude. He is the moral compass in a whacked out morality tale, the better Jeffrey Lebowski. Not for him your easy cash, your 9-5, or even your beer with bowling. He just liked that rug - it really tied the room together.

In keeping with the Coen Bros pattern - slouching towards a line-up of awards and critical drooling, and then pulling back and flipping the bird with an absurd, surreal adventure, they're following No Country for Old Men with Burn After Reading. See Blood Simple into Raising Arizona, and Fargo into Big Lebowski. And it's probably no coincidence that the Lebowski anniversary DVD release coincides with the release of Burn After Reading.

But hey - is there ever too much Coen Brothers? Not in this house, Dude.

Friday, September 19, 2008

This is water, this is water.

OK, time to move on.

Thanks to everyone who sent emails and phoned and especially thanks to Kevin, who gets me. The Wallace Listserv rocks beyond all belief.

Here's to all the other brilliant, depressed people out there who manage not to kill themselves on purpose or by over-self medicating.

I was going to delete the blog but Kevin's right, it can be an homage and the pain of seeing the title every day will lessen in time.

So here are some words from Himself to remind us to make the most of right now, from the Kenyon commencement speech:

"The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness -- awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: "This is water, this is water."

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

From Mark Leyner

Fellow post modernist:

"What we're losing is someone who saw a
kind of profundity in almost everything as a human being and as a
citizen and as an artist. ... He's irreplaceable and at a moment in
the culture when he's desperately needed, he's gone."

From the Onion

SEPTEMBER 18, 2008
NASCAR Cancels Remainder Of Season Following David Foster Wallace's Death

LOUDON, NH—Shock, grief, and the overwhelming sense of loss that has swept the stock car racing community following the death by apparent suicide of writer David Foster Wallace has moved NASCAR to cancel the remainder of its 2008 season in respect for the acclaimed but troubled author of Infinite Jest, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, and Brief Interviews With Hideous Men.
In deference to the memory of Wallace, whose writing on alienation, sadness, and corporate sponsorship made him the author of the century in stock car racing circles and whom NASCAR chairman Brian France called "perhaps the greatest American writer to emerge in recent memory, and definitely our most human," officials would not comment on how points, and therefore this year's championship, would be determined.
At least for the moment, drivers found it hard to think about the Sprint Cup.
"All race long on Sunday, I was dealing with the unreality presented me by his absence," said #16 3M Ford Fusion driver Greg Biffle, who won Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the first race in the Chase For The Cup, and would therefore have had the lead in the championship. "I first read Infinite Jest in 1998 when my gas-can man gave me a copy when I was a rookie in the Craftsman Truck Series, and I was immediately struck dumb by the combination of effortlessness and earnestness of his prose. Here was a writer who loved great, sprawling, brilliantly punctuated sentences that spread in a kind of textual kudzu across the page, yet in every phrase you got a sense of his yearning to relate and convey the importance of every least little thing. It's no exaggeration to say that when I won Rookie of the Year that season it was David Foster Wallace who helped me keep that achievement, and therefore my life, in perspective."
"I'm flooded with feelings of—for lack of a better concept—incongruity," said Jimmie Johnson, the driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet who is known throughout racing for his habit of handing out copies of Wallace's novels to his fans. "David Foster Wallace could comprehend and articulate the sadness in a luxury cruise, a state fair, a presidential campaign, anything. But empathy, humanity, and compassion so strong as to be almost incoherent ran through that same sadness like connective tissue through muscle, affirming the value of the everyday, championing the banal yet true, acknowledging the ironic as it refused to give in to irony."
"And now he's gone," Johnson added. "He's taken himself away. We can't possibly race now."
David Foster Wallace's work came to stock car racing in the mid-1990s, just as the sport began experiencing almost geometric yearly growth. But the literary atmosphere of the sport was moribund, mired in the once-flamboyant but decidedly aging mid-1960s stylings of Tom Wolfe, whose bombastic essays—notably "The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson. Yes!"—served as the romantic, quasi-elegiac be-all and end-all for NASCAR fans and series participants alike. Racing was ready for new ideas, and when a new generation of young drivers like Jeff Gordon arrived on the scene, sporting new sponsorship deals on their fireproof coveralls and dog-eared copied of Broom Of The System under their arms, an intellectual seed crystal was dropped into the supersaturated solution of American motorsports.
"Suddenly DFW was everywhere," said #88 Amp Energy Chevrolet driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose enthusiasm for Wallace is apparent in both his deep solemnity and the Infinite Jest-inspired Great Concavity tattoo on his left shoulder. "My Dad was against him, actually, in part because he was a contrarian and in part because he was a Pynchon fan from way back. But that was okay. It got people reading V and Gravity's Rainbow, and hell, nothing wrong with that. But now, to think we'll never see another novel from Wallace...I can't get my mind around it."
"David himself said that what he knew about racing you could write with a dry Sharpie marker on the lip of a Coke bottle," said NASCAR president Mike Helton, who announced the season cancellation late Monday after prompting from drivers and team owners in a statement that also tentatively suggested naming the 2009 Sprint series the Racing Season Of The Depends Adult Undergarment in referential and reverential tribute to Wallace's work, a proposal currently being considered by Depends manufacturer Kimberly-Clark. "But that doesn't matter to us as readers, as human beings."
"Racing and literature are both huge parts of American life, and I don't think David Foster Wallace would want me to make too much of that, or to pretend that it's any sort of equitable balance," Helton added. "That would be grotesque. But the truth is that whatever cultural deity, entity, energy, or random social flux produced stock car racing also produced the works of David Foster Wallace. And just look them. Look at that."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is this Really Happening?

Trying to escape into entertainment; yes, that was the ploy, despite the layers of irony surrounding the action, it is what we do; well, what I do anyway. Then only to come face to face with a noose, on a new episode of Weeds. Someone actually making a noose and putting their head in it.

There is no escape from it. It is really happening.

Then watching the movie The Fall, the ominous soundtrack a loop of Beethoven's 7th, themes of lost dreams and a suicide. A monkey named Wallace, dies, but his death is explained as a happy one, one that is in the natural order of things.

There is no escape from it. It has really happened.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Remembrance: David Foster Wallace

I'm going to post some remembrances over the next few days that I'm collecting from other places. Please feel free to post your own as well. Then I'm going to discontinue the site. At best, the title is too ironic; at worst, it's too depressing.

He was my favourite. I didn't feel he had an equal amongst living writers. We corresponded and met a few times but I stuttered and my hands shook. The books meant too much to me: I was just another howling fantod. In person, he had a great purity. I had a sense of shame in his presence, though he was meticulous about putting people at their ease. It was the exact same purity one finds in the books: If we must say something, let's at least only say true things.1 The principle of his fiction, as I understand it. It's what made his books so beautiful to me, and so essential. The only exception was the math one, which I was too stupid to understand. One day, soon after it was published, David phoned up, sincerely apologetic, and said: "No, look ... you don't need anything more than high school math, that's all I really have." He was very funny. He was an actual genius, which is as rare in literature as being kind—and he was that, too. He was my favourite, my literary hero, I loved him and I'll always miss him.

1 And let's say them grammatically.

—Zadie Smith

We first contacted David Foster Wallace while we were putting out Might magazine back in 1996. We had read Broom of the System and so asked him if he would send us something—an essay, a story, a note on a napkin. He sent an essay, about sex in the age of AIDS, that was easily the best thing we ever published. I remember it came in flawless, without any errors or punctuation mistakes at all; it was not really editable. But one of our editors dug right in and began red-lining it like it was something by a first-timer. We all came to our senses just in time and realized the man knew more about writing than we did or could.

It was a year or two later that I first met him in person. I was living in New York and working at Esquire; he had just written a short story in the magazine. Adrienne Miller (then the magazine's fiction editor) and I took him out to a diner around the corner. I was relieved that he seemed to know as little about food as I did, or care as little as I did. The diner was a relief to us both. We talked about how he'd grown up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and how I'd gone to college there, how his father taught there, about the pleasures and quirks of east-central Illinois.

There's something very strange and uniquely powerful about meeting a guy whose writing you find world-changing but who also comes from your part of the world—and who seems exactly like someone who would have come from your part of the world. He was funny, decent to a fault, and thoroughly unpretentious. He was, as everyone has said and will say, exactly what you would hope; he was the human you wanted writing those books. You knew it within two or three minutes with him. He was an actual human, far more colloquial and normal than you could imagine, given what he engineered on the page.

During dinner he kept a cup right below the table, semi-out-of-view, into which he spit his tobacco juice. Until that time I had no idea he was a dipper. It was hilarious, because it's such a strange habit, and so problematic for any life lived indoors. For a cowboy or baseball player, there's always the dirt to spit on, but for anyone else you always have to carry around a cup full of brown spit. Which is what he had below the table all during dinner. I had to stop looking at it.

A few months later, Dave was the first person we asked to contribute to McSweeney's, thinking we could not start the journal without him. Thankfully, he sent a piece immediately, and then we knew we could begin. We honestly needed his endorsement, his go-ahead, because we were seeking, at the start at least, to focus on experimental fiction, and he was so far ahead of everyone else in that arena that without him the enterprise would seem ridiculous.

Along with his first piece, he also sent a check, for $250. That was the craziest thing: he sent a donation with his contribution. Thus he was the first donor to the journal, though he insisted that his donation remain anonymous in that first issue. I had such a problem cashing that check; I wanted to keep it, frame it, stare at it.

The note he wrote was printed in 8-point type, with a serif font, and was cut so that no paper was wasted. This was before he e-mailed; he was a very late adopter to that method. Until that point, he would send envelopes from Bloomington, Illinois, with one single piece of paper inside, cut so that only the paper that had been used for the note was included. He cut the rest away, or used it for other notes. So you would get a four-inch-high-by-eight-and-a-half-inch-wide note in your envelope. And again, never a word out of place.

These letters in the mail became the main way I personally communicated with Dave. Though I admired him as a man and a writer more than I could ever express to him, we remained professional friends. I asked him to send us any work he could, and we published whatever he sent.

My in-person anecdotes, though few and not deeply evocative, will be posted as the week goes on. But part of the reason we so badly want to hear from those who knew him is that we didn't know him as well as we wished we had. I certainly did not. But even reading the contributions so far has been, however painful, so enlightening and healing and warming, and in an absolutely necessary way. Let's continue.

—Dave Eggers

Saturday, September 13, 2008

DFW's words on Kafka

"[T]he horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self
whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our
endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home. ...
[E]nvision us approaching and pounding on this door, increasingly
hard, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing
it; we don't know what it is but we can feel it, this total
desperation to enter, pounding and ramming and kicking. That, finally,
the door opens...and it opens _outward_ -- we've been inside what we
wanted all along. Das ist komisch."

David Foster Wallace is dead

Sad, sad, sad.

Apparently David Foster Wallace committed suicide last night. It's not on any of the news sites except the LA Times, which confirmed it with the Claremont Police Department.

He has been my favorite author for years, since I read Infinite Jest in 1997. This blog is named for a concept in Infinite Jest, his most famous book.

I don't know what to say.