October 2009 Archives

Just a Normal Family

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watch both parts.

A Is For Abomination

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Just to prove that I despise other things in the world besides Dollhouse and Glenn Beck, I am going to tell you all about the evil that abounds on A Street in Salt Lake City.

A Street is the first street running north and south in the Avenues. The Avenues is a GREAT neighborhood, with lots of cool historic houses, and lots of liberals who post signs for progressive causes, and several cool coffee shops (including the Jack Mormon Coffee Roasters, which isn't actually much of a coffee shop, but it has awesomely amusing coffee mugs, which I keep planning to give as gifts to the post- or ex-Mormons in my life).

A Street is also the street immediately east of Memory Grove (which I will have to write about because I couldn't find a decent description of it already on the web), and is separated from the capitol building by the mouth of City Creek Canyon. A trail down into Memory Grove opens on A Street, and the street offers some pretty great views. The lots on A Street are GREAT lots. And they should have great houses on them, that take advantage of Utah's pretty great weather and capitalize on the really great views.

And yet, many of the houses on A Street are DREADFUL. Like, SERIOUSLY DREADFUL.

In and Around the Lake

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As I have mentioned, Lake Erie didn't do all that much for me, except for the part where all the water in it fell over a bunch of rocks and flowed into Lake Ontario. Lakes really aren't my thing.

I now live in a city with the word "Lake" in its name. I haven't spent much time at the Great Salt Lake, I confess, and I didn't make it a priority to visit it when I got here. There have been a few times on visits to SLC in the past when, driving past the lake on the way to the airport, the sulfurous stink of the lake was so unpleasant, that I wondered why anyone would ever visit it at all.

But then, in March, I needed something to do on a pleasant Friday afternoon, so I went to Antelope Island, a state park on an island in the northern part of the Great Salt Lake, reachable by a long causeway.

Well, What DO You Think He Fought For?

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This combines two of my favorite topics: military history and gay rights. It's awesome.

Too Much Evil Blonde Per Episode

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I still haven't gotten around to publishing something about WHY Glee is great--I merely said that it was, and promised to provide details later.

And now, before explaining why it's great, I'm going to complain about something wrong with it.

The last episode, "Throwdown," really disappointed me. I didn't much like it. And I had to think about why. Here's what I came up with: there was too much evil blonde in this episode.

Sue, Quinn, Terri, Terri's sister Kendra--they're all blonde, and they're all more or less villains.

I don't plan to make a habit of embedding Glenn Beck clips on my blog, but this one--it's a doozy, and I just have to comment.

This man is so intellectually and artistically impoverished that the best he can come up with when he wants to evoke an earlier, simpler time in US history is A COUPLE OF ADS. That's right: to Glenn Beck, what represents America in its best incarnation are advertisements, which are as manipulated and crafted and unreal as anything can be in all of US culture.

It makes sense, though: Glenn Beck works for an ersatz news organization, and his whole agenda is to manipulate. Most of his emotions, even if real in themselves, are caused by something unreal--a past that never existed, a future that can never exist, a present that bears no correspondence to truth.

His whole shtick is as realistic and likely as a little kid offering a football player an ice-cold, opened, unsipped-from bottle of Coke in the passage to the locker rooms in a major league football stadium--but hey, it chokes people up, so it's all good.

I'll admit that this clip did take me back to an earlier time in my life. It took me back to my childhood, to testimony meetings in a ward with a decent share of crazy old people. Baffled and horrified as I am by this strange tirade, at least I can put it in a context: Beck is crying and emoting because he's "feeling the spirit." He invokes a mundane, didactic, adolescent analogy (staying out past curfew and knowing you'll get in trouble when your parents find out, but having to tell the truth because that's what people in good families DO) because Mormons perennially cast themselves as adolescents, as that is the best way for them to relate to their authoritarian god, and one more reason it's difficult for them to achieve spiritual or moral adulthood.

Also present in this clip is a good dose of the crazy factor. Beck is bearing a totally wacky testimony because he's totally wacky.

Beck has been Mormon for, what, a decade or so? And in that time he's become a kind of uber Mormon, out-Mormoning even lifelong Mormons in his weepy weird delusional didacticism.

At times I fear the church of my childhood. But when I see Glenn Beck doing this, I fear FOR the church of my childhood. I hope his approach remains what it was for ages: a wacky performance you just roll your eyes at and endure.

Two Worst Mormons

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In case you didn't see it on your own, here's Keith Olbermann naming not one but TWO Mormons to his "worst persons in the world" list. Dallin H. Oaks is there for being a pompous, dishonest, blind homophobe, and Glenn Beck is there for being Glenn Beck.

Because the Dolls Are Seriously NOT Having Fun

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This morning I was busy accomplishing great things when I thought, "Hey! I forgot to watch the latest episode of Dollhouse over the weekend!" Of course I forgot; I'm not really interested, and I've been watching only out of obligation. But I tend to meet my obligations, even to Joss Whedon, so around noon I clicked onto Hulu to catch up on Joss's crappy current project while I ate lunch.

The ep started off with some creepy guy arranging a strange croquet tableau with real women propped up by the sorts of stands used to position mannequins. I figured it was a client of the dollhouse using its "dolls" in the most literal ways: as dolls. I continued to think that even after he used a croquet mallet to bash in the head of one of the women. I continued to think that after we flashed to the dollhouse and there was a discussion of helping some guy who'd ended up in the hospital after being hit by a car, which was what happened to the creepy guy we saw using real women as life-size dolls.

BUT NO! Turns out that the creepy guy was NOT a client of the dollhouse, but the nephew of a stockholder of the dollhouse's parent company! And Creepy Guy's brain scan reveals so clearly that he's a serial killer, that even the amoral, idiotic Topher is unwilling to bring this guy out of a coma.

Dying Art

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In Lolita, monstrous pedophile Humbert Humbert feels nothing but contempt for Charlotte Haze, the woman he intends to marry because doing so will give him access to her nymphet daughter, Dolores, aka Lolita. One of the primary signs that Charlotte is a philistine and an idiot HH need not feel bad about duping and exploiting is her admiration for the work of Vincent Van Gogh, a painter both HH and Vladamir Nabokov detested and despised.

I mention this because it really sort of freaked me out when I read some of Nakobov's tirades about how overrated and awful Van Gogh is, and how a sign of our culture's idiocy is the fact that most people like his work. Because the truth is, most people do. Van Gogh is revered not just by college students who put posters of Starry Night up on their dorm room walls, but by critics and by art collectors who pay outrageous sums for his work.

I confess to long having loved Van Gogh. I liked his work until I went to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam in 1984; at that point, I fell in love with both his work and him. I remember standing in front of Wheatfield with Crows or Crows over a Wheatfield, his final painting, and weeping. It sounds cheesy, but there's something in the actual brushstrokes of his works that speaks, very eloquently, of pathos and confusion and curiosity and interest. I mean, there's always something different about seeing an actual painting and mere reproductions, but with Van Gogh, there's REALLY something different.

Which is why I would really like to see, in person, this display of his letters, which include illustrations and drawings--there's even a sketch for the painting he did of his room in Arles. Translations have been published online, but they're, you know, translations, in print, not the letters written by his hand.

I love email, I do. But I miss letters. I've written about this before, about how a good letter is art that fits in an envelope. I wish art in an envelope was something we still sent each other.

It Lives Up to Its Name

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Yesterday I recommended that anyone who hasn't already watched the pilot of Glee do so immediately. If you haven't already seen it, you might stop and ask yourself WHY THE HELL NOT, since it's been available on Hulu or wherever since May. Or you might not waste any time with that question and instead just watch the pilot while you still can.

I had heard from a dozen people how great this show was before I finally watched it in June or so; I trusted them and everything but I don't really like watching shows on my computer and I was lazy. But I got around to watching it eventually, and I had a reaction television doesn't usually arouse in me: I WEPT. Seriously. I shed big, sloppy, noisy, wet tears of joy and sympathy and admiration and amazement at the beauty and pathos and complexity that is the human condition.

I'm not kidding. I've watched the pilot three or four more times since then and while I haven't cried every single time, I still think it's the best 47 minutes of television I've ever watched in my life.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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