Monday, July 24, 2006



Whiskey Ashes is Moving! Name changing, too.

Go here for the new site:

whiskeyfire dot typepad dot com

Don't be a square. Check out the new digs.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Holy Shit


Holy shit.

Man, these people are brazen.


Too cool...

Good news, and a preview!


Saturday, July 22, 2006



This is so shocking in its shockitude that you will not merely be shocked -- you will be shocked!!!!

I was in the grocery store today and I saw THIS:

T Rex, dude, you are so busted.

Why did you do it man? WHY! WHY!

This story by the way is from The World's Only Reliable Paper -- says so on the front cover. And that's even more persuasive than "All the News That's Fit to Print." So you know this is true.

So I exclaim to the Heavens:
Oh wait. Sorry. Here is what I shout:
Damn. I mean:



Big changes a-coming. Hold on to your hats.

Friday, July 21, 2006



Can anyone explain why on earth anyone sees any value at all in "vlogging," besides its capacity to permit crazy people to gibber nonsensically at you in the comfort of your own home? I mean, damn, I used to have to go down to the N train at 2 AM to see these people...

Though yellow walls are a pretty appropriate look for Althouse, all things considered. Can't deny that.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Sex and Power at Disneyworld!

The Happy Panopticon

At Crooked Timber, the question is asked, was Foucault secretly a Habermasian? Tongue in cheek, but also semi-seriously. Without getting into the whole argument (read the post and thread if that's your thing), this caught my attention:
To me, Foucault is a little like Bourdieu – his theory of power is less valuable as an abstraction than as a method; an intellectual tool for critiquing social practices that we would otherwise take for granted. But for a critique to really work, it should hint (at the very least) at a vision of how things might be better if they were organized differently. The Foucault of Discipline and Punish isn’t entirely the Foucault who wrote The Order of Things and is more attractive for it (just as the Marx of the Eighteenth Brumaire is more attractive and complicated than the Marx of the Grundrisse).
Foucault and Bourdieu are not often mentioned together, at least in the States. I think part of the reason is to do with an assumed distinction between "method," as the CT post calls it, and capital-T Theory. Foucault and Bourdieu don't necessarily work well together as Theory, perhaps because of the pressure that you first start to feel in grad school to sort of pick your theorist to be loyal to like you'd pick a football team to root for. But for practical purposes I see no reason why various aspects of what they say about specific social and political modalities can't be used in a complementary way to illuminate a particular issue or phenomenon in literature or history or literary history or whatever. The question is, what do you put first, the work to be done or the theoretical theorizing? I've always thought it was the work before all, and then you install the theory to support it, as it were, or, maybe a better image, to help you examine and reweave the knots as you untangle them. (I mostly lean towards Bourdieu myself, but really, my work on censorship owes a lot to Foucault, whose insights on sexuality and repression are more or less right on and indispensible for my project.)

This is why I'm a bit suspicious of the remark that "for a critique to really work, it should hint (at the very least) at a vision of how things might be better if they were organized differently." I don't see why; if a theory helps one produce a compelling description, that is a fairly major accomplishment. Description, I've come to somewhat sourly observe, is rather a lost virtue in the humanities. More of a premium is placed on arguments that are directed at ambitions such as "liberation," or an overthrow of the patriarchy, or an end to neocolonialism. Not that these aren't worthy goals. I just could never get my head around how an analysis of the minor works of Walter Scott was supposed to advance them particularly. (My dyspepsia here is genuine, though my more patient readers will be perhaps recognize the comedy of the fact that this has been my position for literally years in the light of certain of my recent online adventures. Oh well, what the hell.) Anyway, I don't like the notion that the ultimate value of criticism lies in its ability to point a way forward to a better future for all humanity. This strikes me as the ghost of Arnoldian sweetness and light knocking feebly at the door. Ah... that's maybe too harsh. I really have no beef with progressive literary analysis. I just stubbornly refuse to concede to it the capacity to ultimately judge what is and is not good theory or analysis. If that makes sense. And if it does, drop me a line, and explain it to me...

Oh, and yes, Disneyworld. (I admit, I used the word "sex" in the title of the post purely to titillate. I am SO ashamed.) ANY-way, a brief aside here:

Is it not obvious that the architecture of Foucault's Discipline and Punish is precisely the inverse of that of the EPCOT Center attraction Spaceship Earth? Disney sees the emergence of new communications technologies, such as video cameras and computers in every home in the world, all connected to a central "Network Operations" command center, as profoundly liberating, in that in the future it can help your extremely blond kids talk about karate with some prepubescent Japanese girl with an accent like she grew up in Scarsdale (I'm not making this up). Foucault was perhaps somewhat more skeptical of these sorts of technological advances.


Corpse Metrics

In the 1990s I closely followed the unfolding Irish peace process. This was and is a confusing, complex issue laden with all sorts of political and historical and cultural contradictions. And the process itself was and is perpetually on the verge of collapse. At various points it actually did collapse, only to rise again and stagger on.

It's easy to get lost in all the arguments and counterarguments when you're trying to make sense of this kind of a messy situation, where even the most apparently sincere actors clearly have more than one motive and are obviously responsive to more than one set of imperatives and one class of audiences. But of course the fact that some political issue is difficult is no excuse for ignoring it, or for refusing to pass judgment on the grounds that it might damage your own standing, whatever that is; that is of course the dishonorable way out, tempting as it may be to keep silent, or to just ignore it altogether. I have this crazy idea that reasonable people need to develop a reasonable language with which we can describe these seemingly unreasonable conflicts, in the hopes of perhaps maybe one day solving them. Eh.

I mean, there is a powerful censorship effect that is exerted by all such struggles, like the Troubles, and also of course Israel/Palestine. This censorship effect is not just negative, producing silence, although that is of course quite powerful. Whatever you say, say nothing, as Heaney diagnoses it. But even more important: all knotty conflicts produce their own jargon, their own set of cliches and expressions, their own more or less irreducible linguistic chunks of ossified ideology. "Israel has the right to defend itself"; "the Zionist entity." This is an insidious kind of productive censorship, one that defines the conflict in language that does not explain anything but protects the speaker from having to, well, run the risk of encountering an uncomfortable explanation. Heaney again:
As to the jottings and analyses
Of politicians and newspapermen
Who've scribbled down the long campaign from gas
And protest to gelignite and Sten,

Who proved upon their pulses 'escalate',
'Backlash' and 'crack down', 'the provisional wing',
'Polarization' and 'long-standing hate'.
Yet I live here, I live here too, I sing,

Expertly civil-tongued with civil neighbours
On the high wires of first wireless reports,
Sucking the fake taste, the stony flavours
Of those sanctioned, old, elaborate retorts:

'Oh, it's disgraceful, surely, I agree.'
'Where's it going to end?' 'It's getting worse.'
'They're murderers.' 'Internment, understandably ...'
The 'voice of sanity' is getting hoarse.
It occurred to me at some point as I was watching the events in Northern Ireland that part of the confusion I felt was confusion over what I really wanted to see happen. What would be the best outcome?

I think the kind of censorship I'm describing obscures a simple answer to this question.

It is my opinion that the only reasonable metric that can be used to figure out the best way forward in these situations is to count corpses. The best approach is the one that produces the fewest dead people. This approach would be the one that performs the magical feat of transforming an actual armed conflict to one that is essentially symbolic, where saving face is a matter of diplomacy and not of missiles or special forces.

To put this another way, a difficult conflict, like the one in Northern Ireland, or in the Middle East, can really only be achieved when the true goal is shifted from that of victory to that of peace.

Sounds banal, I know. But I don't think this argument is widely understood, let alone accepted. Certainly not by this administration.

Fewest corpses wins. How about that as a foreign policy objective?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


A Response to a Critic

What shall I say to this?

Merely, that Phila exhibits, inevitably, a lamentable misapprehension of the ontological res ipsa of the conservative Weltanschung, perpetrating a lachrymose conflation of the ineffable, foundational values of the national genesis with an ahistorical, anachronistic hothouse exhibition of contemporary mores, producing in extremis, naught but jejune animadversions upon the essence of the contemporary genus of the American l'homme naturel; and, more is the pity, Phila is also indelibly guilty of a disgusting liberal inability to accord Mexicans all due contempt, especially the gay ones.

Monday, July 17, 2006



This really is the most astonishing thing I have ever seen.

This is the President of the Unites States of America. Let me repeat: this is the leader of the United States of America.



My Loves

Probably my favorite show on television is E!'s The Soup. Why? Because nowhere else on television can you regularly see clips of, say, rapper DMX saying things like:
I don't give a fuck how big he is, how small he is. I'll fuck a midget up. Straight up. Straight up. I'll bust a midget's ass.
I, for one, believe him.


Oh, I know. You only come here for this shit. Very well, then, here goes:
Nevertheless - and herein lies the aporia - one cannot at once demand that the intellectuals leave the masses to their untutored, uncritical feelings about things, their unsophisticated, unphilosophical, often quite arbitrary and incoherent emotions, and demand that they be liberated from the `tyranny' of schoolmarms, busybodies, and the other parasites the Derb claims to perceive in their toils for the Culture of Life. Either one will demand, and to some real extent, strive to teach, everyone to think for himself, or one will strive to inculcate in all a reverence for authority as this is embodied in custom, tradition, inherited norms, folkways, the Church, and so on. What one cannot reasonably do is maintain, as the twin poles of a neopagan ethos of nonthought, that people ought not be subjected to the authority of those institutions and persons who have been the embodiments of wisdom in a culture, and must be left to the imagined sanctity of their utterly untutored, unelevated, wo wo wo feelings. Men must either think for themselves, and that deeply, to the depths - and conservatives have always been sceptical of both the process and the results of this - or they must yield, even bow, before some authority; but what they cannot do - what they should not attempt, for it is the peril of any civilization - is to wall themselves within their uncultivated feelings and urges, refusing to think about them save in some narrow, unspecifiable sense, and within some undefined limits, while repudiating the wisdom of those who may have, of whatever origins, some superior insight into the matters on which they are content merely to ejaculate their ignorance, as though feeling something intensely were equivalent to either thought or knowledge, however obtained.
Therein lies the FUCKING APORIA, MOTHERFUCKER. Motherfucking jackanapes. Go ejaculate your feelings elsewhither before the bugbear of the escutcheon masticates your spondee, you.

Wo wo wo, Ichabod.


A Rare Delight

Via Roy Edroso, I am pleased to announce the discovery of perhaps the Very Greatest Writer on All the Internets. This would be one "Maximos," a commenter on Tacitus's blog. Maximos's style is very much in the Tacitus idiom, only -- and this will amaze you -- much, much better. Here is a sample of his deft touch, his mastery of metaphor:
It is this shattering inability to reckon with reality that kindles in me a desire to simply turn away, to turn away so as not to witness the insalubrious spectacle of a society so etiolated as to manifest no righteous anger, but only either indifference or further rounds of self-inquisition. It is this spiritual torpor, this unconscious despondency of the national soul, in which, bewitched by the illusion that there is virtue in national self-abnegation, Britain imagines that she will manifest virtue by courting the favour of those who, if they only remain true to what they are, cannot but despise her and seek her violation, that moves me to indifference. Is there not a time to bid the fool enjoy his folly while it endures, for after that there will be judgment? - especially when the fool refuses to acknowledge the judgment? One may, perhaps, offer prayers for such an one; nothing else will be availing, except perhaps some unutterable extremity of horror.
If you got lost there in the subordinate clauses, I'm pretty sure what he's saying is that he wants a sandwich. Or else he's talking about organic gardening, or how he thought the third season of The Sopranos was a bit of a letdown. Whatever. Excellent stuff.

Best writer since Amanda McKittrick Ros, easily. As this Grande Dame of Letters put it so memorably in her classic novel Irene Iddesleigh:
The silvery touch of fortune is too often gilt with betrayal: the meddling mouth of extravagance swallows every desire, and eats the heart of honesty with pickled pride: the imposury of position is petty, and ends, as it should commence, with stirring strife.
To this, Maximus might perhaps reply:
I have longed to return, as well as to revisit many of the other nations of Western Europe; but, of late, the desire has ebbed. To behold the great cities and cathedrals of Europe, and to know that Europe has chosen one of two futures - perhaps both - the first A Brave New World, and the second, one characterized by the call of the muezzin, is to behold a land of which it may be said, “Ichabod!”, and to feel a palpable darkness that constricts the lungs and emtombs the spirit.
Indeed. Indeed.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Thers's Law of the Internets

95% of what happens online is not worth getting upset over.

When you find yourself bogged down in that last 5%, turn off the damn computer.

Friday, July 14, 2006



Because watertiger is here...

It's uncanny. It really is the same creepy smile. Not to mention the same lipstick.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Good Lord

So I'm sitting here with our friend watertiger, and we're looking at this picture from the front page of Newsday.

Well, shit. Story here.

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned,
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in he empty house of the stare.

A barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war;
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart's grown brutal from the fare;
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.
I see no good from this, nor any "good guys." Only gathering evil, and chaos, and the rule of fools and bigots.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Blind Nonpartisan Squirrels (Nasty as I Wanna Be Remix)

I've spent several months now reading Ann Althouse closely, mostly because she is entertaining as heck for fans of self-obsessed banality. So when she says something actually interesting, it would be less than integritudinous not to acknowledge it. If you don't know the background to what she's referring to, count yourself lucky and reread one of the amusing anecdotes in one of the last two posts, you'll be much better off:
I agree Frisch has a big problem. She's the weakling who entered a drinking match with a man who can drink you under the table. She lost control. She paid the price -- a big one. Goldstein's you-talked-about-my-child move is a strong one, but it's a move nonetheless, made by a person who likes to play the game... hard. He's not a victim. He's one of the people who has advanced himself in the blogosphere by making it hostile and ugly. Like all of us, he is capable of being hurt by a genuine crazy. But why not just delete the trolls? Why rile them? Some of them really aren't playing with a full deck. Why push weak people until they lose control? It's an ugly game, and I think Jeff knows he plays it.
On this, I'll just quote the Editors:
That Althouse comment was not only not stupid, not only right, it was downright penetrating. That is the dynamic, how she describes it, perfectly.

Pretty much, yeah.

Now, let's realign the planets.

This Althousian eruption is pretty funny, really. She sounds far more obsessed with my old blog than I ever was with her. Or than I ever was with my old blog, for that matter. As a clever person once said, "But why not just delete the trolls? Why rile them?" Why not just not read a blog that drives you ape, you big gorilla? Oh well.

The comedy though lies in her speculations as to just why I would be so driven to make fun of her every so often. She comes up with "jealousy," because as a community college professor what I must really want in my secretest heart of hearts is a job just as FAB-ulous as hers!

God, that's great stuff.

Me, I'd always thought I'd made fun of her because she is a liar with a nasty streak as well as just plain goofy.

Criticizing Althouse is like taking Occam's Razor to a giant jelly doughnut.


One More Kid Story...

A short one. The Almost-Two-Year-Old gets a hold of the portable phone and delightedly starts pushing buttons. But she's then quite startled to hear a voice suddenly say:

"If you'd like to make a call, please hang up..."

So she thinks a second, listens some more, looks up and screams in joy:


So now you know exactly what my wife's voice sounds like. She also has a fantastic memory for phone numbers -- just ask her the name and town, and she'll hook you up. (Hahahahaha. Little phone humor, there!..... Sorry.)

Monday, July 10, 2006


Learning By Example

So I was in the shower, and I hear the bathroom door bang open, which means the Almost-Two-Year-Old is coming in for a visit. Sure enough, her little head soon pokes in through the shower curtain. We have a little talk about bathroom things; I turn off the water, say "I'm wet" and she yells "TOWEL!" She knows what's what.

As I'm drying off the conversation inevitably turns to poo. She has a potty chair, and so we've been introducing her to its use and functions.
The Almost-Two-Year-Old: Poo-poo.

Me: Yes, poo-poo in the potty chair.

TATYO: Chay-ah!

Me: Right! How do you go poo-poo in the potty chair?
She shrieks in delight, opens the lid, peers inside.
TATYO: Poo-poo?

Me: You have to sit on it first and make the poo-poo. How do you do that?
A look of enlightenment crosses her angelic little face. She runs from the room... and comes back in with a book. At this point she sits down in the chair and cries out in triumph:
And of course is holding the book upside down.

Always have something to read in the bathroom. I'm kinda proud she learned that even before she knows how to properly take a dump in a toilet.

Incidentally, the book was Nuala O'Faolain's Are You Somebody. It's a good read, but try to hold it rightside up.

BTW, I've been reflecting for a few days now that I'm glad I did what I could to keep this kid out from the epicenter of a blogwar, even if I was only semi-successful and was initially & briefly pissed off enough to think otherwise. People can make their own decisions about what to do when their child is slandered in a blog comments section, but personally, the idea of making hay of it ultimately turned my stomach. (Details about the actual events here and here. I again thank Bas-o-Matic.)

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Right jolly old elf

Christmas in Hell

So I'm reading Boehlert's Lapdogs and enjoying it. Most of the stuff I already knew, as will anyone who's followed liberal blogs for a while, but it's still pretty powerful seeing it all compiled.

This passage stuck me, much in the same way that having one of those giant cans of Progresso soup fall on your head at the supermarket would strike you. Boehlert is talking about the cozy relationship between the press elite and the Bushite junta, and cites this gem from Andrea "Mrs. Greenspan" Mitchell:
In her memoir, Mitchell descibed this inside-the-Beltway holiday scene, as cabinet members and celebrity hournalists socialized: "At the Rumsfelds', everyone seemed especially jolly. The defense secretary was almost bouncing on his heels. The vice president and my husband huddled in a corner. George Tenet was cracking jokes. At one point, Tim Russert told the CIA director that he'd dreamed Saddam had been captured."
Gah. Among the disturbing images here is the notion of a jolly Rumsfeld bouncing around dressed like a Christmas Elf, with little bells and green tights.

Instead of a Christmas ornament, picture Rummy sitting on a cluster bomb...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

NY Gay Marriage Appeal Loss

Well, nuts.

I'd sort of expected it, though. For one thing, Spitzer has been consistent in his opinion that the NY constitution does not provide a basis for legal challenges to a ban on same-sex marriages. I'm not going to slam him for this, unlike some others. (I understand the anger, but, well, Spitzer is a lawyer and I'm not. He's consistently made it clear that he supports same-sex marriage in principle, and I don't think that on this issue there are any politicians who would say this if it were not actually true, even in NY.) The upshot is, based on what I understood about Spitzer's opinion and upon what I'd gathered about NY judges, especially the high court, I'd not been very optimistic about the outcome. Which was, in the end, a lot of blather about the children, Oh! The CHILDREN!, and a punt to the lege. Feh.

The question is of course, what next? Well, Spitzer has pledged to seek a change to the law to allow same-sex marriage if he's elected governor, as seems more than likely. Suozzi, his Long Island primary challenger, and Faso, the latest complete lunatic dredged up from the cesspit that is the NY GOP, are agin' it. So we'll vote for Spitzer and hold him to his word. What the hell else is there to do?


The Suozzi campaign sure seems quite like a circus-train wreck -- dead and dying clowns littering the ground, their noses honking a mournful dirge.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Bourdieu is here talking (Rules of Art 58-9) about France in the middle of the nineteenth century, but it applies equally well to Ireland in the middle of the twentieth. And who knows, maybe it applies to other times and places as well.
Thus it is clear that the literary and artistic field is constituted as such in and by an opposition to a "bourgeois" world which had never before asserted so bluntly its values and pretension to control the instruments of legitimation, both in the domain of art and in the domain of literature, and which, through the press and its hacks, now aims to impose a degraded and degrading definition of cultural production.
Bourdieu is referring at the end here to one of his IMO more interesting and useful ideas, about the best way to explain the more or less constant fighting over Art -- and indeed, anything humans seem so driven to create.

All artistic judgements are in one sense arbitrary. You like this, I like that, they liked that 400 years ago, they wore THAT crap in the 1970s! That was horrible! (Well, it was. Most 1970s clothes were indeed empirically horrible. But I digress.) So if it is all arbitrary, why do people get so worked up over arguments that we all know will seem silly in a decade or so? (Whitesnake still, of course, sucks.) What's up with all the fighting?

Bourdieu's great insight (for me, anyway) is that this is an essentially political question. People get so worked up over these sorts of issues because what is really is at stake is what he calls the power to impose the dominant definition of legitimate cultural production.

The point of any specific conflict may be, say, Janet Jackson's tit, or Ulysses, or The Passion of the Christ, but take a step back from each of these controversies, and what do you have? Different groups and individuals struggling mightily over who gets to decide what we can and cannot, what we should and should not, say and do in public.

That is power at one of its most basic levels. What you wear, your haircut, the music you like, the books you read, the films you hate -- all of these define you as an individual and express a whole universe of data about how you see yourself (consciously and unconsciously) and how you relate towards the wider culture in which we all must exist. Ever dyed your hair, picked out a shirt, played a particular song, whatever, knowing that it was some sort of "message" about who you are and what you aspire to be? Ever refused to do so, because it was not who you thought you were, or think you are?

That's some powerful shit, man. Think about what it means to be able to influence such decisions for masses of people. If you can establish control over these obscure, arbitrary, contradictory, confused impulses -- THAT is power.

The natural corollary is that when you can define what people CANNOT so or say, that is also an expression of this same power. (All this explains why NRO gets so hysterical about this kind of nonsense.)

As for the rest of the excerpt I excerpted above, Bourdieu is arguing that in the middle of the 19th century in France, writers like Flaubert and Baudelaire had to struggle against a dominant bourgeois class that roughly, and even violently, asserted its power to define what could and could not be said in public, and deeply resented the capacity of "artists" to express their own unique view of the actual dynamics of the contemporary social and cultural order.

Wait, what was my topic?...

Oh yes, lesbian smut. See, in the debate in the Irish Senate I mentioned earlier, the fighting over Kate O'Brien's The Land of Spices centered over a single sentence in that book -- and it is, indeed, in my opinion one of the most shocking and deliberately offensive sentences ever written, considering all the circumstances.

That's why it is, to this day, officially stricken from the official Irish parliamentary records, even 65 years later.

I won't tell you what that sentence was. You won't be able to handle it. It would horrify you to your very marrow. No: I will remain silent, and will not reveal the most awful sentence in all of modern Irish literature to you.

I respect your honor and sense of decency too much.

(PSSSST: The sentence is about teh GAY! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!)

UPDATE: Oh, OK. The sentence is "She saw her father and Etienne in the embrace of love."

Monday, July 03, 2006


These are pictures of the chicken boursin on brown rice with asparagus I cooked for my wife. She also got pate and a glass of wine. And why not? She deserves this.

The mommy duck is doing well. All seems right with the world tonight.


What a Country

The always delightful Bull Moose opens a post on torture with, appropriately enough, ruminations on Yakov Smirnoff:
As we approach Independence Day, the Moose waxes rhapsodic about the wonder and glory that is America. He recalls the Russian-born comic Yakov Smirnoff who was hot back in the eighties. When he was confronted with another marvel of his new home, Smirnoff would declare, "What a Country!"

That was the response the Moose had to the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision.
It is indeed wacky that the Supreme Court declared that the president does not have the right to torture whoever he wants. What a gas.

Anyway, it makes sense that someone who fails to recognize just how grating his affected third-person schtick is would similarly fail to realize that Yakov Smirnoff didn't actually tell "jokes." As I recall it from endless 1980s talk show appearances, Smirnoff's act was comprised of simple declarative sentences that formally resembled jokes, but were in fact merely banal and indeed largely meaningless observations.

But maybe he got funnier, so I looked him up.

Hoo boy. Smirnoff now owns his own theater in Branson, Missouri. He informs us at his site that this municipality has twice voted him "comedian of the year." I do not doubt it. He puts on a regular show, which he describes here:
There ought to be a caution sign as you enter the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre in Branson, Missouri. It should read “Warning! Hold on to your seat ‘cause this guy is about to blow you away with dynamite comedy!” This ‘guy’ of course is Branson’s Two-Time Comedian of the Year, Yakov Smirnoff, the famous Russian Comedian. He delivers explosive laughter in a show filled with brilliant special effects, dazzling dancing, heartfelt moments, and just plain fun. Yakov’s entire show is packed with comedic tall tales and witty perceptions, funny facts and huge laughs.
You know, it's your own damn theater. If you think there ought to be a sign put up, then go ahead and put up the freaking sign. Gah.

Laughs keep on coming, though:
From the heartland of America, our funny philosopher takes us on a comedic journey and brings us unique insights into life, family, and these United States. As Yakov says, "Only In America can a Russian and a Japanese own a theater in the middle of the Ozarks!"
This is truly the sort of thing that can only happen in America, because that is where the Ozarks happen to be located. You have to give him that. Well-spotted.

As for the "philosopher" bit, we read that he "has just completed a new book, 'Smirnoff For The Soul', that shares this funny philosopher's life-changing stories from the heart." Noted without comment.

All this is of course kitsch. But I find something grotesque about all such warm, fuzzy patriotism, because it's an eruption of thoughtless emotion. One expression of this ideological tangle can be found in Branson, Missouri. Another can be located in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's all part of the same long-running American clown show, booked solid for years, get comfortable because they've bricked up the exits.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Who's Your Favorite Wingnut Shitbag?

The cretin who runs the New Editor wants to know who is your favorite chickenhawk. Apparently, this smug little git believes he has us On The Ropes if we use the "chickenhawk meme" against himself and his cohorts:
Some critics of the Iraq war like to use the 'chickenhawk' argument in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of those who support the war, but did not themselves serve in the military.

This rhetoric ignores many things, the history of this country being chief among them.

So, in the spirit of the Fourth of July weekend, The New Editor lists ten prominent Founding Fathers who were 'chickenhawks,' and asks, "Who's your favorite 'chicken hawk'?

Oh, fuck you. "This rhetoric" still lodges itself deep up your can. The "chickenhawk meme" is valid. Why? Because if this idiotic war in Iraq were what its proponents claim it is, the Central Front of an Epic Clash between Barbarism and Civilization, Necessary for our Survival, you would fucking volunteer to fight it. No?

The Iraq adventure was sold as WWII re-animated. Appeasement, and all that rot.

If anything vital were at stake in Iraq, I would go there. If my children's safety depended on the war in Iraq, I would go to Iraq. If vital priciples of our democracy could only be defended in Iraq, I would go to Iraq. If the WWII parallels, if the historical and patriotic imaginings were real, I would go to Iraq.

But they ain't.

You wingnut idiots are the ones who conjured the bugbears and ogres. That you cower beneath your bedsheets still, says you are, well, fucking despicable. You decided to fantasize about a lie, and you won't back up a matter of life or death with even your word.

You are utterly contemptible cowards and fools and, well, gits.

But you knew that.

Back to Business

Kate O'Brien

So below I rambled semi-coherently about Flann O'Brien, Kate O'Brien, and Irish censorship. Let me get my thoughts in order, or in an approximation of such.

Ahem. Two of the masterpieces of 20th century Irish fiction are Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman and Kate O'Brien's The Land of Spices. Nobody really disagrees with this assertion, by the way. Sure, critics nowadays have problems with this and that in either book, or have this or that for or against either author. But nobody would dispute that these are two of the most important and fascinating books to come out of Ireland in the 1940s. Neither can be dismissed by the serious literary historian, to put it more negatively, much as the serious literary historian might like it to be otherwise. (Flann and Kate were not related, BTW, if you were wondering; "Flann O'Brien" is a pseudonym for Brian O'Nolan.)

All right. That said, well... Readers of my blog are pretty damn smart, they read voraciously and intelligently, and are careful consumers of culture. They're not Irish literary historians, though, and I'd venture to guess that until I started raving bizarrely about Kate O'Brien, they had not heard of her. Or had heard of her, but had not realized how important a figure she is, or that she is as brilliant -- and even, in her own slyly patrician manner, as funny -- as he is.

Why? Well, part of it is that K O'B did not engage in obvious formal experimentation. She is very much a realist, in the BBC Very Special Miniseries Presentation sense; if you like George Eliot, you'd like K O'B. F O'B, with his ostentatious formal pyrotechnics, his metafictive fun, gets more recognition because his stuff works with a broad narrative of international modernism. Fair enough. He does look like the Joyce heir apparent; a good candidate, actually.

But you can only push that so far. You have to realize that in their day, K O'B was much better known than F O'B. Her books, uh, sold. So did her plays. She was unabashedly Irish, in subject matter as well as outlook; she was taken seriously as an artist (her novel Without My Cloak was a runner-up for the Hawthornden Prize.

So what's up with the fact that F 'OB gets the rep and K O'B doesn't? Well, a lot of things. But sexism is a part of it. And what's really amazing here is that it is Flann, the formal rebel -- who in the end comes across as far more timid than Kate.

Kate O'Brien in her quiet way was the most severe and cutting critic of the deadly hypocrisies of Irish Catholic sexual orthodoxy currently going in the 1940s. Why doesn't she get her due...?

Hmmm. Look at her picture up there. Bet you can't guess what new perspective she brought to Irish literature about sexuality and gender roles. Bet you can't. Neener.

More to come...

Saturday, July 01, 2006



A Christmas miracle! We have power again. Back to normal posting soon.


No power until July 4. That's the latest.

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