Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The New Yorker: Volume LXXXV, NO. 35, November 2, 2009

Spotlight on “Wild, Wild Wes” by Richard Brody
 wes anderson 2
Liking Wes Anderson is fashionable. It’s trendy. All the cool kids are doing it. Before reading Richard Brody’s profile, I only vaguely acknowledged the connotations and assumptions tied to Wes Anderson fandom. It wasn’t until after reading the nine-page article that I began to feel self-conscious about my own admiration for the director. Brody writes:

Anderson’s idiosyncrasies, personal and artistic, resonated from the start with a certain segment of the population: hipsters—young bourgeois bohemians—who came of age with the Internet and took from it both a trendsetting attunement to pop culture and a chance to make quick money while remaining artists at heart. A generation born of a paradox, its members recognized themselves in the romantic ironies of Anderson’s movies, as well as in his embrace of the expressive power of luxury objects.

An Internet search shows me that Brody is a bearded older gentleman, both bespectacled and bald, so I think it’s safe to say that he isn’t a “young bourgeois bohemian;” this means that when he discusses the hipster ethos, this “trendsetting attunement to pop culture,” it isn’t self-reflexive; it’s objective—he genuinely believes that these are the defining characteristics of a Wes Anderson fan. Though I don’t consider myself a hipster—I’d say complete and utter nerd, if anything—there’s something very scary about Brody’s assertion. It’s discomfiting having some old man writing in a hoighty toighty magazine presume to know who you are; and even more discomfiting when you realize that he’s gotten it right. It’s almost enough to put you off of Wes Anderson movies. Almost.

Best Moment:
(discussing Anderson’s upcoming stop-motion animated film The Fantastic Mr. Fox) “Moreover, the figurines had tailored clothing, made with fabric. (Anderson designed the clothes himself, having his tailor send fabric samples. He has a suit made from the same corduroy as Mr. Fox’s)”

Movies name-checked by Anderson:
The Whole Town’s Talking, Les Enfants Terribles, Day of the Dolphin, Local Hero, The Tresure of the Sierra Madre, Murmur of the Heart, Day for Night, Phantom India, The river, Husbands, Dune, and Star Wars.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Jack Black 2

Jack Black 1

I watched Yo Gabba Gabba today instead of being productive and all I have to say is: Day. Well. Spent.

*Experiment #1*

In 1996, years before Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, Chuck Klosterman ate nothing but Chic
ken McNuggets for a week. His experience is chronicled in “The Amazing McNugget Diet." In the introduction to the piece he says:

One could argue that McDonald’s is the vortex of American society. Granted, this would be a horribly weak argument. But McDonald’s is the epitome of fast food, and fast food is the epitome of accelerated culture. It is the intersection of obsessions: a media-driven chain restaurant that tries to feed America as fast and as often as possible. For seven consecutive days, I embraced this theory with every fabric of my existence. With the exception of McNuggets and sauce, no solid food entered my body. I ate absolutely nothing else.

This Halloween I’ve decided to follow in Klosterman's footsteps. Sort of. Today I will eat nothing but sugary treats (with a special emphasis on Peanut M&Ms).

I will also be watching episodes of Count Duckula, Eerie Indiana, and of course, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Even though this is primarily just an excuse to pig out and lie around all day, if I had to place my plan within some sort of intellectual context, I’d say that this is an attempt to revert back to a state of mind when I didn’t obsess over consequences, when I didn’t know what a calorie was, and when I didn’t consider the sociological or intellectual merit of anything.

I don’t know what the end result will be—perhaps vomiting, perhaps swearing off of sweets forever, perhaps unparalleled joy—but I’ll be checking in over the course of the day to update my progress.

*Update: 5:22 pm*

Hours 1-3

Sweets Consumed:

1 Pumpkin Shaped Sugar Cookie

1 Black Cat Shaped Sugar Cookie

2 Fun Sized Peanut M&M Packs

2 Halloween Betty Crocker Fruit Snack Packs

1 Standard Sized Sandwich Baggie Full of Peanut M&Ms

DVDs watched:

Disc 2 of Count Duckula


As a kid you think that it’d be fun to be given a sack of candy and carte blanche; as an adult you see all of the problems inherent in this sort of scenario. I started eating at 2:00 this afternoon with child-like enthusiasm, gobbling down treat after treat, ignoring everything I’ve come to understand about the world. About an hour ago the inside of my mouth dried up and right now I can literally feel the sugar clinging to my tongue and the back of my throat. I know that if I tried to eat regular food—not that I’m going to—I wouldn’t be able to taste it. I’ve decided to take a break from the candy while I watch Eerie Indiana. Downstairs there’s this chocolate chip cookie cake that everyone is going to eat after dinner—we’re sort of sponsoring a little get together for all of the smaller members of the family. Since I won’t be eating dinner, I think I’ll use the time to drink plenty of water, maybe brush my teeth again, and hopefully in an hour or so I’ll be ready to enjoy that cookie cake.

*Update 8:08 pm*

Hours 4-6

Sweets Consumed:

2 slices of Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake


DVDs Watched:

Discs 2 and 3 of Eerie Indiana


I feel as though my stomach is full of air. Unfortunately, it isn’t. It’s all cookies and chocolate and candy-coated shells in there. I’ll probably be falling into some sugar-induced coma soon, so I won’t have to worry about continuing with the experiment. There is an upside to this, though, and that’s Eerie Indiana. I don’t think I understood how smart this show was when I was a kid. I rented The Secret World of Alex Mack last year and I couldn’t believe that I’d ever liked it; it’s horrible. But Eerie Indiana really holds up. I wonder what ever happened to Omri Katz. Not only does he have an awesome first name but he’s totally adorable with that 1990s haircut of his.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

eerie indiana 4.JPG

Bet you didn't know that Tobey Maguire was in an episode of Eerie Indiana...

eerie indian 5.JPGor that his character wanted to get it on with an old lady.

*Final Update 10:56 pm*

Hours 7-9

Sweets Consumed:

1 Slice of Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

DVDs Watched:

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Final Comments:

I don’t think I really proved anything with this experiment but I do feel kind of cheerful. I must be experiencing the “sugar high” that Coyote Shivers and RenĂ©e Zellweger sang about on that roof in Empire Records. My mouth tastes gross. My teeth feel weird.

*Nerd Inspected and Approved*

Book Review: Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman


Chuck Klosterman is responsible for validating my debilitating pop culture habit. After reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, I started to see entertainment journalism as a viable career option (for better or worse).

His essays are droll and chock-a-block full of curious interpretations of everyday objects and cultural phenomena; he’s amusing even when he’s criticizing something that I—unhip lady that I am—enjoy; and he’s insightful but not intimidatingly so—all of his books are conversational, sprinkled with slang and mild profanity, addressing issues that are accessible to the PhD-less.

Klosterman, I think, embodies a different kind of intellectualism, a more relatable kind. Armchair intellectualism. His essays impose a deeply philosophical, scholarly, and often, historical context upon banalities sans irony. We aren’t meant to laugh at an elaborate analysis of ABBA, we’re meant to laugh at how legitimate that analysis is—the It’s-funny-‘cause-it’s-true paradigm.

Since the release of his definitive work, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs in 2003, Klosterman has become a bit of a celebrity—ostensibly a part of all that pop culture debris he’s so apt to critique. In Eating the Dinosaur, his latest collection, he overtly addresses that issue in the book’s opening essay, “Something Instead of Nothing,” which is essentially a meditation on the art and practice of interviewing and being interviewed. In the essay, Klosterman who has contributed to Spin, The Washington Post, and Esquire, writes, “For the past five years, I’ve spent more time being interviewed than conducting interviews with other people. I am not complaining about this, nor am I proud of it—it’s just the way things worked out, mostly by chance. But the experience has been confusing.”

Eating the Dinosaur feels like Klosterman’s attempt to replicate the content, style, and success of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. But this isn’t something that he’s able to do. I’m not criticizing him, I’m just saying that his psychic distance has changed. He very literally cannot write the same way that he wrote back in 2003 for all of the reasons that none of us can write or think or behave the way we did in 2003, but also because he is, whether he wants to admit it or not, a celebrity. So while reading this book, there’s this mildly uncomfortable tension sort of haunting the margins. Despite my love for pop culture reportage—I almost would have preferred to read something completely devoted to his transformation into a public figure.

Although, there were a few things that weren’t working for me in Eating the Dinosaur—the discussion of sports, the rehashing of issues discussed in previous work, how meta the whole thing is—I did enjoy the book overall and would recommend it, especially to people who haven’t read Klosterman. There is an articulate, satisfyingly geeky dissection of time travel called “Tomorrow Never Knows” that should go down in history as the authoritative text on the subject.

When Klosterman is good, he’s really good.

Here's a clip of Klosterman and Marc Maron talking like a couple of glasses-wearing, smart people.


Any increase in mental capacity that I may have achieved earlier this week was surely diminished by tonight’s events. First Lance-uh-Lot and I ate these massive burritos.


So massive, in fact, that this poor little flour tortilla was unable to contain the innards.


Lance-uh-Lot washed his burrito down with a forty (my Cherry Coke Zero had bottle envy). And then we caught the 8:00 showing of Saw VI down in Emeryville. By now I feel like I’m just programmed to watch these Saw movies. They aren’t even good. This new one is by far the most gruesome and somehow, also, the most tedious. Like I said, I’m not exactly sure why I saw Saw VI but it wasn’t to sit through forty to fifty minutes of lame back-story. Now, I probably should be embarrassed to admit that I immediately recognized that one of the actresses in the movie was Tanedra from the Vh1 reality showScream Queens. And I probably should be down right ashamed to admit that a single tear ran down my cheek when Tanedra won the competition (and this role in Saw VI ). Truth be told, I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it.

Oh well. I did read a book this week, so maybe that balances things out a bit.

I leave you with the best moment in VH1 history.