"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Cup of Chicha attended a Q & A with Lorrie Moore. Maybe Moore isn't that much of a recluse.
Survivor's Guilt
This past Thursday, PBS's Frontline ran a two-hour long documentary about the Rwandan genocide which occurred 10 years ago this month. The clips with General Romeo Dallaire, head of U.N. peacekeeping forces in Rwanda at the time, are particularly heartbreaking. You just want to hug the guy, tell him it wasn't his fault and he did the best he could do under the hellish circumstances.

If you're suffering from survivor's guilt such words don't really do much for you. All you can do is muddle on with the essential help of family and friends.
My suicidal attempts were based on booze. I starting falling into these depressions, and I'd just drink and drink and then I'd cut myself or try to jump off things, but more often than not that was totally ineffective because I was pissed to the gills. It's only that and people checking up on me that prevented me from killing myself. … I'm not the man I was, and never will become [him again], but hopefully with some drugs or medication that I take, just like someone who's got diabetes takes insulin, to keep me stable … -- that will be my life.
Having read Philip Gourevitch's We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families and Samantha Power's "A Problem from Hell" I knew a bit about the genocide but I wasn't aware of the heroism of Capt. Mbaye Diagne, a young Senegalese U.N. military observer and "Cool Hand Luke" character. A devout Muslim, he'd go out on solo rescue missions and charm his way past the genocidaires' checkpoints. From the video you can tell he's a grade A badass with a sense of humor that would put bloodthirsty killers in stitches and would keep up the morale of comrades like General Dallaire and the others the U.N. abandoned.
The Staggering Sunshine of the Heartbreaking Mind
The word on the street was right again, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind makes you think and laugh. Plus, it's got David Cross and Mark Ruffalo who at one point goes off on a digression about the Clash, "the only band that matters." And if a smiley Kate Winslet flashing her pantied crotch at you won't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will.

Still, it seems to be a film directed more at the ladies. It's a relationship movie which tells us we should "hang in there" because "it's worth it." A nice sentiment, but if I were Joel (Jim Carrey) I wouldn't have tried to get back together with Clementine (Kate Winslet) because she's too high maintenance and bitchy. Joel can be a neurotic dick so maybe he doesn't have grounds for complaint.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Ill context
Garofalo and co-host Sam Seder had Dave Chappelle on as one of their guests on the first show which made it really funny and "edgy." One of the funniest things on TV in recent years, and many others agree, was a Chappelle Show parody of MTV's Real World. Setting up the segment, Chappelle pointed how the Real World always puts one black person with a bunch of crazy whites and the black would end up going crazy and getting voted off the island. So he took a naive, suburban white guy and stuck him with a bunch of crazy black roommates. His comedy special that was done in DC a few years back is hilarious if you can get your hands on a copy.

Chappelle admitted he never voted before, but he's planning on voting this time around. He added he's not partisan which caused Garofalo to chime in and say being partisan is not necessarily a bad thing which Chappelle agreed with. I don't know anything about Seder, but he said Chappelle and a friend wrote "Half Baked" in Seder's apartment or house.

They talked a bit about how fucked-up the media and Entertainment Complex is. "Fear driven" was the consensus. Everyone's too afraid of getting fired to be risky. Chappelle had a post-911 airport anecdote and talked seriously about the "ill context" of these strange days and how everything's politicized and crazy. He ended sincerely by saying that Garofalo is the bravest celebrity out there "because she says what she believes!" Both of them come off as honest and sincere in their edgy comedy which shows respect for the audience and makes for good radio.
Positive developments
The oh-so-dreamy and whip-smart Janeane Garofalo will preside over her very own radio show, starting today (7-10 p.m. CST, 950 AM, here in Chicago). The show's name "The Majority Report" is inspired by Al Gore's victory in the popular election of 2000. I can't help but wonder if it is based on the name of a column Christopher Hitchens once wrote for the Nation. Hitchens admited to stealing the name for his column, "Minority Report" from a column H.L. Mencken wrote back in the bad-old days. Garofalo once said she admired Hitchens, however these days the two disagree on much. For example, he penned a trademark takedown of Howard Dean for the Wall Street Journal and "Ms. Garofalo was in the audience on the night of the Iowa caucus, before [Dean] gave what she described as his "so-called 'I have a scream' speech.""

In other E! Channel news, the next Wilco record, "A Ghost Is Born," is due out this summer and Jack Black and Naomi Watts signed to star in the "King Kong" remake which will be directed by Peter Jackson. Finally, good news for male masturbators who are into sci-fi: Charlize Theron has signed to star in Aeon Flux.
Never Again* (or depends on what the meaning of "genocide" is)
President Clinton lied. Surprise, surprise. Clinton claimed he didn't know genocide was occurring in Rwanda before it was too late, but the Guardian reports otherwise.
The National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute based in Washington DC, went to court to obtain the material.

It discovered that the CIA's national intelligence daily, a secret briefing circulated to Mr Clinton, the then vice-president, Al Gore, and hundreds of senior officials, included almost daily reports on Rwanda. One, dated April 23, said rebels would continue fighting to "stop the genocide, which ... is spreading south".

Three days later the state department's intelligence briefing for former secretary of state Warren Christopher and other officials noted "genocide and partition" and reported declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis".

However, the administration did not publicly use the word genocide until May 25 and even then diluted its impact by saying "acts of genocide".

Ms Des Forges said: "They feared this word would generate public opinion which would demand some sort of action and they didn't want to act. It was a very pragmatic determination."
Here's another case where Clinton wasn't a "leader." They were right to fear the morally superior public. It's not for nothing the Democrats are often known as the lesser evil.

* Except in Africa. I doubt a black president, as supporters called Clinton, would have been so complacent.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Didn't you know, fiscal discipline is hip
And Neal Pollack is back in Blogistan once again hawking his book and shilling for the Democratic National Committee. A Nader satire should be coming any day.

Nader is hurting Kerry in Pennsylvania, where he's polling at 7%, and conceivably could keep the Democrats out of the White House again. Not surprisingly, liberals aren't taking it too well (click on Naderite Nursery Rhymes. If Bush is reelected, I imagine some liberals' heads will explode like the fembots in Austin Powers. Nader will certainly be a persona non grata.)

Learning from Gore's mistake, Kerry has agreed to a sit-down. Who knows what they'll discuss, but maybe Nader can convince Kerry not to pull the Democrats too far to the right on economic policy as Clinton did.

For Kerry's four main economic advisors are all Clintonoids according to a New York Times article by Louis Uchitelle. Robert C. Altman and Gene Sperling were both high ranking officials while 33-year-old Jason Furman worked as an aide and 31-year-old Sarah Bianchi was an intern....
Above all, the restored tax rates would finance Mr. Kerry's pledge to cut the budget deficit to $250 billion by the end of his first term from roughly $500 billion now, most of it a result of the Bush tax cuts.

"It is a credible, enforceable pledge that will position Kerry to the right of Bush on fiscal policy," Mr. Altman declared.

THAT sort of thinking does not appear to sit so well with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, who played a central role in Mr. Kerry's primary victories. The two senators are political allies and speak often to each other, although Mr. Kennedy is not officially on the Kerry economic team. Still, he is arguing in his speeches for what amounts to a bigger role for the government in job creation, a position clearly to the left of the Kerry team.
Kerry has little reason to listen to Kennedy, while Nader has a bargaining chip - the 5% who say they'll vote for him rather than Kerry. See MaxSpeak, You Listen! for the politics of deficit spending.
Both Bookslut and Cup of Chicha link to a Guardian piece about the McSweeney's/Believer constellation.
There was an elaborate chart tracing the international provenance of magic realism. (Many McSweeney's regulars - Lydia Davis, Ben Marcus, William Vollmann, Jonathan Safran Foer, George Saunders - made it on to this list). Small ink drawings of animal skulls were dropped randomly into the text.

As recently as five years ago, such a winsome, even kittenish, tone, and such graphic and typographic interventions were rare in mainstreams novels. Now they are so common almost to have become a convention; signs of a highbrow endeavour whose (possibly off-putting) serious tone is cut with doodling examples of author-graffiti and liberal doses of high irony. It could be argued that, in this way, Eggers's influence on young writers coming out of the creative writing departments of the universities (and posting things on the McSweeney's website in their hundreds) is as pervasive as Raymond Carver's was in the austere, cut-to-the-marrow, sackcloth-and-ashes, "dirty realist" years of the 1980s.
When McSweeney's first came out, the old-timey design and cutesy graphics dispersed within the serious prose immediately reminded me of The Baffler. The Baffler first appeared in the early 90s and the look was created by Daniel Raeburn, The Baffler's Typographer who happens to have a brilliant piece on H.L. Mencken in the current issue. Mencken is sort of the Patron Saint of the Baffler crowd, gruff and cranky yet funny as hell. (If The Baffler were a Bad News Bear, it'd be scrappy Tanner). In his piece, Raeburn acknowledges he stole the Baffler's look from the Mencken-era magazines the Smart Set and The American Mercury.

I don't know if Eggers pilfered from The Baffler, but he has blurbed Baffler editor Tom Frank and has given readings with him.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Put your game face back on
A couple things stuck in my mind about the Al Qaeda attacks on 9.11.01 and recently in Madrid. Both involve the horror of eye-witness accounts. The New York Times Magazine published one by a Spaniard who witnessed the Madrid bombing. It reminded me of something I heard about the rescue workers at the Madrid scene. What really got to them was the sounds of cell phones ringing amidst the carnage.

Perhaps it's all a little morbid, but I imagine the look on the rescue workers' faces was similar to the facial expressions of the firefighters in the French documentary 9/11 (narrated by Robert De Niro and Steve Buscemi). On that day, two French brothers happened to be making a documentary about the NYFD - tough, tough boys, the firefighters. After the World Trade Center had been hit and the firemen received the call, they allowed the filmmakers to tag along. At one point, the firemen are inside the first floor of one of the towers and they're standing around waiting for a strategy to be hashed out. You can hear bodies periodically hitting the ground outside the blown-out windows nearby - people jumping to escape being burnt alive - and you can see it's really messing with the firefighters who are trying to keep their composure.

In a recently published book about the Bush dynasty by a married conservative couple, there's a quote from an unnamed source: "[President Bush] doesn't have a p.c. view of this war. His view of this war is that they are trying to kill the Christians. And we the Christians will strike back with more force and more ferocity than they will ever know." If Kerry's elected, I hope he agrees with this except for the religious stuff. Dean certainly didn't.