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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Getting very close to the start of my term at [Undisclosed Location], which will mean a lot less blogging. I won't be blogging much during the day at all.

In other words, it'll be kind of like today.

* In the comments earlier today sb offered me a much-deserved Trophy of Perpetual Futility.

* Today's Infinite Summer writeup comes from the L.A. Times book blog. Via Paper Cuts.

JC: Might this turn into an annual tradition, perhaps with other books?

MB: I have already received a raft of suggestions for next summer's reading, including "Ulysses," "Underworld," "Don Quixote" and the entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Whether this becomes an annual or year-around thing will depend largely on how successful this one proves, and whether or not I am utterly exhausted by its end.
* Non-Essential Mnemonics, at McSweeney's.
What about Jersey? Mafioso, murderers, addicts, juvenile vagrants, Bon Jovi. Here they praise these felonious people. Blighted little Jersey: guns, hookers, Goombas, Atlantic City. "Come home, criminal miscreants" reads the tourism website. And here come the hucksters, racketeers, trannies, and every korrupt-cop. Jersey, news flash: Criminals rarely benefit children, businesses, or organizations.

A short essay on the socio-political climate in New Jersey and a mnemonic for the last names of all 44 American presidents.
* "Locavore," "frenemy," "staycation," and "vlog" make Webster's.

* Salon's David Rakoff and Anthony Lane review Brüno. Here's Lane:
How efficient, though, is embarrassment as a comic device? It’s a quick hit, and it corrals the audience on the side of smugness; but its victories are Pyrrhic, and it tends to fizzle out unless held in by a plot—as it was in “Fawlty Towers,” which, from its base on the English seaside, fathomed the most embarrassable race on earth. Baron Cohen, in exporting his japes, comes up against a people much less devoted to the wince. I realized, watching “Borat” again, that what it exposed was not a vacuity in American manners but, more often than not, a tolerance unimaginable elsewhere. Borat’s Southern hostess didn’t shriek when he appeared with a bag of feces; she sympathized, and gently showed him what to do, and the same thing happens in “Brüno,” when a martial-arts instructor, confronted by a foreigner with two dildos, doesn’t flinch. He teaches Brüno some defensive moves, then adds, “This is totally different from anything I’ve ever done.” Ditto the Hollywood psychic—another risky target, eh?—who watches Brüno mime an act of air-fellatio and says, after completion, “Well, good luck with your life.” In both cases, I feel that the patsy, though gulled, comes off better than the gag man; the joke is on Baron Cohen, for foisting indecency on the decent. The joker is trumped by the square.
I'm sure I'm not the first to think of what George Saunders wrote of Borat, or, for that matter, of the bad taste it still leaves in my mouth.