Normally, my life only surfaces on this blog after being twisted by some formal constraint designed to transform tragedy into hilarity. The Neurophilosopher tagged me with a meme general enough to accomodate a number of things I would've posted were this one of those blogs, so I'm running with it:
- Yesterday, I had lunch with Kevin Drum. The hostess seated us next to Danny Bonaduce. When I pointed this out, Kevin didn't recognize the name.
- Ninety percent of what I know falls under the category of "Useless Information." Headquartered near The Corey Ian Haim Collection of the Foibles of Former Child Stars is The Center for the Study of the Positioning of David Wright Relative to the Third Base Line. Thanks to a generous grant from The Society to Prevent Panic Attacks and Binge-Drinking, the Center has collated an entire season's worth of data and is set to release its findings in a report tentatively titled "By Far Too Far: He Should Move Two Feet to His Right."
- This desire for trivial information extends to my academic work. Instead of focusing on major figures of actual artistic merit, I have chosen to write about the Coreys of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Popular authors like Silas Weir Mitchell, Winston Churchill and Thomas Dixon wrote pedantic historical novels in a style I'll call "stilted" when I'm feeling generous and much, much worse when I'm not. Admirable though the desire to work on noncanonical literature may be, I suggest others distinguish works justly from those unjustly forgotten before devoting three years to studying them.
The Not Entirely Unintellectual
- I believe that minds work best when crammed full of on-going narratives. Not quality narratives—at least not necessarily so—but a brain full of bookmarks helps keep a mind healthy. What do I mean? What happened on the last episode of House? Battlestar Galactica? The last issue of Y - The Last Man? The Runaways? You see where I'm headed here: earlier print cultures forced people to track hundreds of characters as they danced through serial entertainment. Movies are events—forceful but quickly forgotten. They aren't lived with the way serials are. I throw my body on the couch and my brain kicks into overdrive: "Where are we? What happened to him? Her? How did he react? How did she? Why are we here?" Question piles upon question until I've sorted through everything and form a reasonable approximation of the present in media res moment constituted by the splash page or opening credits. With a novel, the involvment is intense but fleeting. Even the longest novel is only inhabited for a few days tops. You can re-read it, but re-reading brings a different set of critical faculties into play than does the up-to-now reconstruction a serial demands. Plus, those moments when you distinctly remember Greg House slugging it out with a fifty-foot tall cybernetic Godzilla? Priceless.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the first book I took myself too seriously for reading. I made a show of my profundity by ostentaciously reading it at Coffee Call, café intelligent women were known to frequent. Of course, intelligent women didn't actually frequent it ... and if they had, none worthy of the adjective would've flown to the Pirsig fan. They would have laughed. The women most likely—statistically speaking—to have laughed at this preening high school junior worked at the chocolateer across the mall-way. Future biographers (and lonely, pretentious bachelors) should take note: one such women would eventually marry me.
- I considered Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance the first "intellectual" book I'd ever read despite having spent every Christmas break since I'd had two digits to my age re-reading Moby Dick. You need no longer imagine the depths of my stupidity. My routine, for those interested, consisted of looking out my window to see whether it was raining again (it was); sticking my hand out the front door to see whether the rain stung (it did); trying to squeeze in a few hours of Nintendo before the downpour killed the power (inevitable); filching a bag of Christmas-colored, sprinkle-covered chocolate chips from the cookie jar (easy); lighting enough candles to read by but not so many as to set off the smoke detectors (tricky); and reading Moby Dick to the sound of driving rain, by the Goldilocks o' candle light and with a bowl of stolen holiday confections on my lap (priceless).
The Entirely Unintellectual
- I won't be posting tomorrow because I'll be watching the Mets fulfill my wildest dreams ... by which I mean 1) clinching a spot in the next round of the playoffs or 2) not clinching so that I might watch them clinch it on Sunday.
- Two nights ago, I was up until 4 a.m. reading The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Current Opinion in Neurobiology and the like. Tonight, I notice the clock says 1:45 a.m. and I'm watching stuff about mounting next generation subwoofers in the center console and building a mobile office in a trunk. As much as I hate to say it, I'm a fan of the "How Things Work" genre. Give me an hour on the Discovery Channel about how analgesics work and I'm a happy man. You want to deconstruct the house of the future? I'm your man.
- By which I mean, I'll watch professionals do anything. Hire a carpenter and I'll stand over his shoulder making him uncomfortable. The plumber? He better not mind showing me how to do whatever the hell he's doing under there. Sure, it's a tight fit ... but that doesn't mean he can't give a blow-by-blow account of what's happening.
Who am I tagging? No one. I want someone to surprise me. At least one person, but six would be great. So one of you lurkers take up the task and send me a trackback. I'll gladly share my traffic to get to know y'all better.