Alan Arvesen (aarvesen) wrote,
Alan Arvesen
aarvesen

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Waiting for my Man

I'm in San Jose again, surprise surprise, and I'm two hours ahead of everything due to jet lag.  Not so bad, really.  Getting up at 5:30 in the morning has its appeals when it's not making your whole body scream in pain.  Go down to breakfast and there's not many folks, just the one group of young people (do I really call these kinds of folks "young people" now?) from the same company, comparing notes about how one guy slept in a bush on Saturday night after he got drunk, and the same guy is introducing a young lady to his co-workers whom I assume he picked up pre- or post-bush snooze.

Me, I've installed Warcraft so I could keep up my raiding commitment.  Heh, raiding commitment.  Remember how I was going to cut back?  My team killed three new bosses on Friday night in Karazhan, leaving only one boss in the whole place unpwnt.  Making in-roads on Gruul the dragon killer after our 2nd week or punching High King in the face.  Ah well, ah well.

I read Harry Potter, and man it was good.  The epilogue had me in tears.  Michelle hadn't read anything past the first one.  So we caught her up by going to see "The Order of the Phoenix" this weekend, and she is now reading "Half Blood Prince".  She asked me, "does Snape turn bad?" and of course I had to bite my tongue.  Someone I know said that book 7 was as good as "Dickens or Irving", hmmm, by which I assumed she meant John Irving, but maybe she was talking Washington.  Book 7's plot twists do remind me of something like "Tale of Two Cities", where everything gets all tied up at the end.  And, of course, we see Dumbledore as Basil Exposition, but that can be forgiven.  It's a role he's played in all the books, particularly the ones that followed the formula of trouble at privet - go to hogwarts - dumbledore alludes to some mysterious danger - children are plagued by Snape and Malfoy throughout the year as they close in on danger - fight danger and voldemort - dumbledore ties it all together - end of school year.

Mentioning Voldemort, the "Order of the Phoenix" was as good as all the HP movies have been.  Good all except for... Voldemort.  Hogwarts looks cool.  The Great Hall looks completely cool.  Quidditch looks cool (though no Quidditch in this one, and the broomsticks across London scene was a little cheesy but forgiveable).  Hagrid looks exactly like you expect him, as do Snape, Dumbledore, the children, everyone.  Everyone but... Voldemort.

In "Order of the Phoenix", Voldemort doesn't look menacing.  He looks... stupid.  The first view we have of him is in the the train station, King's Cross I suppose, in his... pin stripe suit?  What?  I guess this is some dig at Fudge, but Fudge isn't possessed by Voldemort, he is in denial.  But with the pale bald head and the sharp suit, he struck me as an 80's fashion icon of some sort.  Like David Bowie at his most insipd 80's look when he was winding off of the whole Ziggy Stardust thing.  And then during the climatic battle, when Harry is having these flashbacks and flash forwards of scenes of descruction, we keep seeing Voldemort pop into the picture, offset to one side, swinging his arms around.  Obviously he is meant to be casting spells, and supposed to be terrifying, but it's as scary as an 80's music video.

In fact, the first thirty or forty seconds of the Eurtyhmics' video "Sweet Dreams" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OufZbzsUtIo) stikes the same note as this supposedly terrifying descent into madness.  And Annie Lennox's beautiful mouth aside, she's got the pale, bald, suit wearing thing down.  Hell, she's even got a wand.

(now I'm listening to "Into the West" on youtube, what a wonderful song)

In the airport, the book selection seems to have been drastically reduced.  Either hardcovers or trashy paperback novels.  Now, I am not a snob when it comes to trashy novels (I read the Danielle Steele book "The Gift" whilst skiing one year).  But none of these particular ones appealed to me, not even good old Robert Ludlum who still appears to be cranking them out.  So I bought a "Harper's", which I hadn't read since undergrad when Traci subscribed to it.  Hey, David Foster Wallace wrote some funny stuff for them, maybe it will be cool.

Well, there was a cool article about a bizarre 3,000 mile race that's run in Queens around one city block (yeah, they just go around... and around... and around).  The rest of the magazine, though...  it was obsessed with its own intellectual and moral superiority.  I mean, there was an article about how environmentalists were sell out capitalist lap dogs.  The friggin Nature Conservancy was just a sell out organization, and you were a sell out too since you had the audacity to have a job.  Mmmmkay.

There was a reasonably interesting story called "Fiction", and an atrociously stupid short story called... uh... something else that started off without any verbs ("The beach, the sea, the blue umbrellas.  A sail. Then another, like a long arm climbing the horizon...Flat, feverless, an ocean too exhausted to make waves, an ocean that had see too much travel".  The story, btw, is called "Self-Portrait with Beach").  A paen against school choice vouchers (another insidious aspect of capitalism), a hatchet job against Giuliani (how he's a crypto-racist and drag queen), an incredibly snide interview with an author you've never heard of  (he doesn't bother to quit reading the paper), and a flaccid, meandering piece that was stitched together from a dying's man outline of a story about "Battling the Hard Man".

That "hard man" thing, in and of itself, was ridiculous.  Not only was obviously incomplete, but it didn't even make much sense.  The subtitle was "Notes on addiction to the pornography of violence."  Man, how I have come to hate that term "war porn."  It's once of those things that was shocking and now is just silly.  I get it, I get it - porn is a trope that represents that which satisfies our basest instincts.  So let's trot it out because people are morbidly fascinated with death.  While we're at it, let's use to label Lifetime movies (though "divorce porn" and "adultery porn" are probably already niches filled in the real porn world) and ESPN (where, also, the cheerleader is a staple in actual porn).  "War porn" is hardly new.  Look at any Grecian urn.  Friggin' Plato was writing about the tripartite soul and how that guy couldn't tear his eyes away from the dead bodies of the battlefield.  Is it because we can all say "porn" now without it sound so naughty, so low class, since we've all come to the tacit realization that we have the internet, and after all, the internet is for porn?

Heh.  Also mixed into all this "left winger than thou" are ridiculous bits about sex.  A prison house dictionary which obviously contains many sexual terms.  An excerpt from a scholarly work that a guy wrote about ejaculations - I kid you not - and by scholarly I don't mean medical, I mean referring to Aristotle, Beaudrillard, and Derrida.  One guesses that Derrida took up the mantle of Masters and Johnson after he tired of the pomo shtick.  A poem by Jerry Hall, yes, that one, which ends with the complaint that all Mick gave her was VD.

Bah.  Look we're so intellectual so we can titter at all this base sexiness.  Word porn or something.  Grapho--pornography.  Yeesh.

Anyway, I was pretty disappointed with Harper's.  It's getting harder and harder as I get older to bear with the Left.  Yet I can't bear to read the New Republic or any of that other claptrap.  Can't we get some good old Clintonian triangulation around here?
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