Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I’m heading to Chicago in about six hours. Please adjust your altimeters.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Michelangelo Antonioni is two for two.

Last night I watched Blow-Up. It was high-class flickery. Not as nicely crafted as L’Avventura, but with a more tenable arc and better editing. It also had a scene in which nipples popped out and jiggled around. And that, we all know, always makes for fine cinematic fare.

Blow-Up reminded me a lot of The Conversation. In both movies (IBM), the main character is a genius in his chosen profession. IBM, the protaganist (protag) feverishly tries to reveal something mysterious in a piece of his art. IBM, that mysterious something (something mysterious) turns out to be connected (attached) to a murder. IBM, the protag is compelled to hand over this evidence of a possible murder that previously was only something mysterious (something mysterious).

Chance? Coincidence? or Lightning? You decide.

There is an excellent scene toward the end of Blow-Up in which the protag stumbles into a London rock club while the Yardbirds are on-stage. Jimmie Page looks like he’s about 14 years old. Jeff Beck throws his guitar into the crowd and there is much rejoicing.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I’ll be driving along in the left lane and some driver at an intersection or driveway ahead rolls up to make a right turn. Fine. I’m in the left lane. The right lane is all theirs, as far as I’m concerned. They can peel out and pop wheelies over there — I really don’t give a shit.

It never happens the way it’s supposed to.

The guy makes his right turn as I’m coming up and, sure enough, the nose of his fucking Oldsmobile comes jutting out into my lane and I have to make an evasive maneuver and I hit three puppies and have a heart attack. (My car is 90% fiberglass and 10% sand. If I get touched by anything more than a stiff crosswind, it will pretty much evaporate.)

This problem has become increasingly, um, problematic as vehicles have gotten bigger. I don’t hate SUVs. I don’t hate Cadillacs and Town Cars. But you’ve got to be smoking high-grade heroin if you think you’re going to make that right turn without encroaching on my flight path. Is it that hard to wait a few seconds and let me pass before you join the flow?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Dallas Morning News recovered nicely from last Wednesday’s op/ed page debacle, opting this time to publish blog excerpts in eight categories (News & Politics, Dallas-Based, Foreign, Legal, Media, Religion, Arts & Culture, and Free for All) instead of last week’s tepid sampling. In addition to an excerpt, the DMN also published additional URLs in each category. The presentation was complemented by a nice, fluffy column on blogs that ran below the fold.

My only complaint about the package was the enormous illustration of the earth that dominated the page. I mean, this thing was fucking huge. So huge, in fact, that two people got credit for making it. Not only that, but these two people, working in consort, managed to come up with the same earth-transposed-over-circuit-board graphic that’s run — at one time or another — on the front page of every Business & Technology section in the free world.

(For the record, this week’s excerpt in the Dallas-Based Blogs category was lifted from the Front Burner, whose contributor Tim Rogers also has a complaint.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I miss Illinois.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I don't know what's more unsettling, the fact that someone did a Yahoo search for "why bleeding after heavy petting" or the fact that my website came up in the results.

It’s raining again. But at least it’s not raining men. Hallelujah. The day it rains women will be a sad day. They will probably die when they hit the ground. And that’s no laughing matter. The raining of women should stop.

Speaking of people falling from the sky, I saw an excellent movie this weekend about two guys who did the opposite. These brave chaps climbed toward the sky on what’s called a mountain. One of them fell back down and got a song stuck in his head. The movie is called Touching the Void, and it’s one of the best adventure movies I’ve seen in a long time. It made my palms sweat. It made my heart beat fast. It reminded me of that scene in Deliverance when John Voight has to climb the sheer rockface and shoot a hillbilly with an arrow while Burt Reynolds waits in an eddy. (Elements of this brief review may be plagiarized. But I doubt it.)

If I had just one complaint about the television show “Who Wants to Marry My Dad,” it would be that I had only one complaint.

Television producers are very careful about who they put on TV, especially when it comes to women. On dating shows, they always make sure to pick plenty of women with equine faces. Watch “The Bachelor” or “Any Other Dating Show” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I haven’t seen that much horse-face since last year’s Dallas Horse-Face Festival. (If you turn on the Closed Captions, you might notice that most of the dialogue is translated as “whinny” or “neigh” without any considerable loss of viewer comprehension.)

What would Chauncey Gardener say?

Friday, June 18, 2004

Is it just me, or are older men a lot more apt to rip farts at the urinal than their younger counterparts?


Do libraries still loan out CDs? And if so, why isn't the RIAA going after libraries?

It's time for impoverished artists to stop these government-sponsored dens of iniquity from freely distributing the fruits of their labor. Rise up against your local library. Stop the wholesale distribution of copyrighted work.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Dallas Morning News yesterday began what will someday be considered a groundbreaking feature in journalism: It is publishing blog excerpts on its op/ed page. Unfortunately, the ones published Wednesday were about as compelling as a pocket lint derby. They will not be remembered as groundbreaking features in journalism. They will be remembered as boring, quickly forgotten, yawn-inspiring. And I’ll tell you why.

What was particularly vexing was that, in spite of the fact they have an index of almost every blog in Dallas at their fingertips, the editors opted instead to run professionally blogged verbiage by syndicated guns. Is there any difference between running syndicated columns and running excerpts from blogs written by syndicated columnists? The whole exercise smacks of a half-hearted attempt to be hip and contemporary. That is, making an effort to jump on the blogwagon without actually having to publish hip and contemporary (and local) bloggage.

One of the great things (maybe the great thing) about blogs is that they give voice to people who heretofore had no ready access to an audience. And while it’s cool that a major metropolitan newspaper recognizes that some bloggers write legitimate, print-worthy prose, it’s disheartening that they’re choosing to publish polished content written by professionals. This in spite of the fact that some of the best content out there isn’t the best because it’s well-written, but because it’s off-beat and interesting. If you’re going to take a chance on us, at least extend us the courtesy of playing fast and loose.

The DMN’s enterprising spirit is admirable. But its insistance on playing safe tastes just like a plate of waffles.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Last night it became official. I’m heading to Chicago two weeks from today for a weekend of alcohol-fueled debauchery and possible murder charges. If things should take a turn for the worse and someone ends up bisected by a falling plate-glass window, detectives will check out my website and think I was behind it all. No good. So forget that stuff about possible murder charges and replace it with “possible getting down on the dance floor,” which is not a crime.

Speaking of crime, I was delighted to see Kobe and Co. ousted from the finals by the Detroit Pistons, a team I hated a little over a decade ago. I haven’t watched much professional basketball since the Bulls folded the tent at the end of the 1997-98 season. I did, however, get into the last two games of this year’s finals. I haven’t seen a team play with the kind of competence the Pistons exhibited since the days when mighty Bulls roamed the hardwood. There is hope for pro ball.

There is hope for us all, if we squint our eyes and look in the right direction. Much respect to the man who got out of his car on the service road near the Hotel Santa Fe. Got out of his car in the thick of afternoon rush hour and helped an old lady push her ailing Datsun out of traffic. I sat there in my car wondering why I wouldn’t have done that.

Good night, sweet ladies. Good night. Good night.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I want me some of these.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Does Dallas even have a Department of Streets and Sanitation? Two weeks ago, we were hit by a huge storm that swept down from the northwest and wreaked havoc until the wee hours. The next morning, as I drove to work, I saw a dead dog on the southbound on ramp at Mockingbird and Central. Confused and lost in the previous night’s climactic mayhem, the large German Shepherd had wandered into the traffic flow and ended up the way animals end up when they wander into the traffic flow. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

And it didn’t get any prettier.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the unique privilege of watching that once-proud carcass degenerate into a ratty pile of animal matter. Driving by the scene this morning, the poor pup looked like nothing more than a carpet remnant. Since Streets and Sanitation has no intention of bringing out the spatula to clean up the mess, I will hereby dub him “The Central Expressway Welcome Mat.”

A city that lets large animals decompose in the streets needs all the positive press it can get.

Other items of uninterest:
• I went to the bookstore Saturday and stumbled upon Oblivion, David Foster Wallace’s latest. Most of you know that DFW is my favorite living writer. But did you also know he is my father? It's true. And by true I mean completely false. Anyway, he recently released a book about infinity, so I wasn’t expecting Oblivion to come along so soon. But there it was. I purchased the fuck out of that shit. There’s some good reading ahead.

• I saw a coming-soon selection on one shelf for a book called “Stranger than Fiction.” When I was in high school, I always thought that if I ever wrote a book — regardless of what it was about — I would call it “Stranger than Fiction.” Because “Stranger than Fiction” seems like a really clever title to a high school kid.

• Do not rent In July. It sucks, according to me.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The first R-rated movie I ever saw was Under Fire at the Lake Theater in Oak Park, Illinois.

(The first R-rated video I ever saw was Blood Beach.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

We spent the weekend in New Braunfels, Texas. The camp site was rife with Good Ole’ Boys and latter-day Confederates, all of them tooling hither and yon in towering pickup trucks, tires tall and pebbly as the surrounding hills. We were there to tackle a scenic stretch of the Guadalupe River. On Friday night, after we set up tents and organized our dry goods with great care, we drank beers till the moon came up. I curled up in my sleeping bag just as the lightning began to dance on the horizon.

The storm gained on us rapidly and hit us an hour after bedtime. We busily patched leaks in the tent’s armor (with sunscreen, no less) as the rain came down with increasing fury. All the while, the lightning illuminated the fabric and raised our neck hairs. We were losing the battle. We pushed our pillows and bags toward the center of the tent as the wind threatened to take us down for good. A solid white bolt found purchase nearby and we could hear neighboring campers voicing their panic. I put on my shoes — we all put on our shoes — and we ran to the car. And there we sat, the four of us, as the witch fingers of light spread out across the sky and the downpour continued for hours.

We woke up the next morning worse for wear. None of us got much sleep. We ate sausage and eggs and prepared to float the river. We had our butts in the water shortly after noon. The chilly Guadalupe kept us alert as we advanced slowly down the first leg and left toward the rapids. When we finally plunged into the whitewater, I held fast as inner tubes flipped around me. Bruises were got. I stayed afloat, and would remain so for the balance of the trip. We meandered through canyon’s of limestone. The rivers blade had spent millennia carving lines in the walls that flanked us.

I reclined in a warm puddle on the bank to revive my core temperature and then continued down the river. As we closed in on the last chute, we kept left and shot down the final rapid, then paddled ashore to catch a ride back home.

That was only the beginning.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I don’t mind when the hysterical Hollywood bigwigs make an effort to protect their investments, but do they have to be such assholes about it? I mean, first it was the multiplexes force-feeding us 20 minutes of commercials because apparently we weren’t buying enough popcorn. That was bad enough. But now we get this:

“You are not permitted to use any camera or recording equipment in this cinema. This will be treated as an attempt to breach copyright. Any person doing so can be ejected and such articles may be confiscated by the police. We ask the audience to be vigilant against any such activity and report and matter arousing suspicion to cinema staff.

Thank you.

There’s a small movement by some disgruntled moviegoers to combat this heavy-handed lecturing. I doubt it will catch on.

And if you do decide to go to the, um, cinema, you might want to check this out. If for no other reason than to send the message to Hollywood that we need more movies about the death penalty.

Then, when you’re done checking that out, check this out. Because nothing makes a Friday morning like the pleasure of having your synapses fucked with.


Thursday, June 03, 2004

The office was cold this morning and I couldn’t stop thinking about aluminum siding. That was then. It is now 2:38 p.m. and I have dined on the finest fare the local Mexican restaurant had to offer. Tonight, I’ll be packing for tomorrow’s sojourn: south to the Guadalupe River for a weekend of camping, rafting, drinking. I am ecstatic. I have not tubed down a river since my days with the Spanish infantry. Alas, the 1950s were a different time. Things were simpler then. The hookers, cheaper.

I am sitting at my desk and my lower back is stiff. The muscles running parallel to my spine feel like industrial pistons. I arch my back, twist and stretch. This provides me with little relief. My computer screen is, quite possibly, the most uninspiring thing on the planet. When I sit here too long my shoulders start to pull inward until I am hunched over the keyboard like some cellar-dwelling Victorian organist. My spine is coiled in this spot five days a week. It is in this defeated posture that I have wasted more down time than I care to mention.

I have a notebook wrapped in leather that’s been languishing in the passenger-side footwell of my car. There was a time when I’d bring it everywhere — to observe things in the moment and fill as many pages as I could.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

My London correspondent has pointed out that I am pretty much wasting my time:

I was just looking at your profile on Blogger. Did you realize that
since June 2002 you've written over 87,000 words? Seventy thousand
words is the average length of a published novel.

Just sayin'.