Tuesday, 08 August 2006

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A Gigantic Non-Announcement & a Desperate Plea for Help A tremendous, life-altering announcement sits slightly over the horizon, but the details are not mine to divulge yet. If everything falls into place, the odds of my making a career of this academic thing have improved fifty-fold this weekend. So for now, I blog happy ... and all the world's tiniest violins play for me alone. Before I continue, I want to apologize for indulging in a bit of meta-blogging, but I'm working on my MLA presentation and need a little help. For the first time in months I spent 20 minutes digging through my profile on Technorati. I did so not from the rank vanity I'm barely six centimeters (if even) above, but because in the comments to this item I learned that the ratio of spam logs to actual blogs is 28:1. Pace this, I wondered how many of the blogs which link here are spam blogs, and whether that could account for the fact that if you look at Technorati's Acephalous page, you learn that I have 695 links from 264 blogs and that 954 blogs link to me. I've confessed my mathematical shortcomings before, but even I can see that 954 and 695 are different numbers. Anyone know how to account for the difference? Because reconciling these numbers could change some of the conclusions I draw during the MLA panel. I don't want to stand before the masses unaware of the egg on my face. All of which is only to say that I'm not sure I trust Technorati (or anyone who who fails worse than I at Excusing My Dear Aunt Sally). So if you've linked to me of late, drop me a line via email or in the comments below. Tomorrow afternoon I'll combine all the links of those who contact me with all the ones I can find by other means, in order to gauge the relation between my potential and actual readership. I know, you can barely contain your excitement at the prospect. But I promise that as soon as I tame this beast, you'll suffer no more meta-posts from these quarters. (Or any others I may inhabit.)
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Festivus; or, The Other Holiday Born of High Modernism [x-posted from the Valve] While noodling around Wikipedia last night, I discovered that not only did I share my birthday with a visionaries (Nostradamus, Joseph Smith), politicians (Helmut Schmidt, “Dan Quayle’s Brain”), famous singers (Bruce Hornsby, Victoria Williams, Eddie Vedder) and a Corey (Haim)—but that it falls on Festivus. Reading this detailed account of the origin of and rituals associated with a fictional holiday, I learned, to my surprise, that not only is it not a fictional holiday, but that it’s based on a work of high modernism. Can you guess which one from the following description? (Video is also available.) After learning of the holiday from Jerry and Elaine, Kramer calls George’s father. The elder Costanza explains the holiday’s origin (1:16): Frank: Kramer, I got your message. I haven’t celebrated Festivus in years! What is your interest? Kramer: Well, just tell me everything, huh? Frank: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reach for the last one they had—but so did another man. As I rained blows opon him, I realized there had to be another way! Kramer: What happened to the doll? Frank: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born. “A Festivus for the rest of us!" And its traditions (1:47): Frank: And at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year. Kramer: Is there a tree? Frank: No. Instead, there’s a pole. It requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting. Later, Frank and Kramer arrive at the coffee shop carrying a pole and a tape recorder. They approach George and Jerry (3:09): Kramer: Well, Happy Festivus. George: What is that? Is that the pole? Frank: George, Festivus is your heritage—it’s part of who you are. George: (sulking) That’s why I hate it. Kramer: There’s a big dinner Tuesday night at Frank’s house—everyone’s invited. Frank: George, you’re forgetting how much Festivus has meant to us all. I brought one of the casette tapes. (Franks pushes play, George as a child celebrating Festivus is heard) Frank: Read that poem. George: (complaining) I can’t read it. I need my glasses! Frank: You don’t need glasses, you’re just weak! You’re weak! Estelle: Leave him alone! Frank: Alright, George. It’s time for the feats of strength. Figured it out? The answer (and overlong-but-still-inadequate discussion of its significance) is below the fold. Everyone who said Krapp’s Last Tape raise your hand. Figured as much. According to Wikipedia: [Seinfeld writer Daniel O’Keefe’s] father, Daniel O’Keefe [Sr.], had discovered the Festivus holiday in a book that outlined obscure (mostly European) holidays published in 1966; the book described many of the features later included in the Seinfeld episode. The father was inspired by the Samuel Beckett play Krapp’s Last Tape, whose protagonist tapes himself speaking at different times in his life. The original Airing of Grievances was spoken into a tape recorder, and the O’Keefe family retains some of the...

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