Saturday, December 8, 2012


Irony (n.) — the art of expressing true feelings clearly and directly, without the distracting business of objective analysis or the distorting gravity of absolute truth (synonyms: poetry, comedy, insanity)

Monday, November 19, 2012

kicking it old shul

I just wrote what follows in what you might call the "private blog" I've been keeping since eighth grade or so (what's another word for that? oh, yeah: diary), and it occurred to me that it's very true to the spirit of Alt85, and/or to the spirit of no longer writing Alt85, more or less in the style of Alt85, and concerning more or less the reasons for ending Alt85. So here it is for the hardcore fans if any remain, copy and pasted right from the source (with only a few specific details redacted):

I’ve asked this time and again—“So what is this that I’m doing here writing this, again?”—but now I ask it armed with the new awareness that I am “talking” to no one. I am this close to abandoning my sense of the absolute; how suspicious it is that the main thing keeping me from doing so is the belief that it might be “wrong” (and how revealing that the voice suggesting so sounds a lot like my dad!). It’s the need to explain myself, the need to get to the bottom of things, the sense of responsibility not for my actions but for their rightness that I’m coming to see as... Well, here’s where usually I’d twist myself into knots by reaching for terms like “wrong” or “unhealthy” or even “problematic”—the problem there being fractally identical to the problem as a whole, that I can only think of these things in terms of their wrongness and rightness, that I can only explore these topics in the mode of analysis, of argument, of proof, of reasoning, of—and here’s the rub, once more—getting to the bottom of things. Even that metaphor: is there any reason why we must get to the bottom of things? Is there some imperative? Even the way I’m thinking of that presupposes “a right answer.” As I’ve said so many times to friends, family, and loved ones when offering counsel about difficult choices big and small, there is no right answer. “I think there’s no right answer here,” here, as distinct from most other places, because the assumption would of course be that there is a “right answer.” That’s what I seek to change.
I’ve been rereading Roth—The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound, The Anatomy Lesson, The Prague Orgy, and now The Counterlife—and yesterday I found out he’s retiring. First I killed David Foster Wallace and J.D. Salinger; now I’ve ended the career of Roth.
But part of the reason I’ve been reading Roth is that I knew, on one level or another (multiple, really)—remembered, is the word—that Roth had been through much of what I’m going through. What are the Zuckerman books but a chronicle of a man’s escape from worry about what others think (as experienced by a mind that can do nothing without turning it into a moral narrative)? Zuckerman’s tragic flaw (and perhaps Roth’s) is that he cannot think or do anything without justifying it, even if the justification is a rejection of the necessity for justification—still a justification!
Maybe it’s foolish to think I can really escape any of that. Maybe it’s who I am. Maybe the goal oughtn’t to be— See, “oughtn’t to be”! Is it futile to try to escape morality?
I think it’s worth a try.
Anyway, back to the original question: what is this? I don’t need to identify it or analyze myself for writing it. Period.
I started this—restarted it, freshman year of college—as a kind of workbook, notebook. Then it devolved back into a diary. I’ve been thinking lately, “What if I took all this energy I put into obsessive self-analysis and turned it onto my writing?” Life has been going so well lately and I’ve been so much happier, and when I “relapse” it seems generally to be because (gonna try not to chicken-and-egg this) I start thinking about how much happier I’ve become. I’m not down on thinking, but I am down on how I seem to think about things. What I call thinking about things, other people would probably call obsessing about things.
Have this be a writer’s notebook. Maybe throw in some details about what I’m up to these days (apprehensively poised above the cliff of rewriting [REDACTED] and turning it into this [REDACTED] idea, [REDACTED]; beginning to whip up, back burner, some pilot ideas like [REDACTED]; back from our “third wedding” in New Jersey, waiting on word of [REDACTED] we thought we’d get more official confirmation of last week, waiting on what’s his name from [REDACTED] to get back to [REDACTED] about [REDACTED], waiting on a residuals check, etc.), just to throw my future self a bone (although fuck my future self)...
I’m not trying to make rules for myself here and regiment my psychological existence. But it is worth remembering: when I direct this energy into my work, I am happier. And I believe that when I am happier, I am a better person. I.e., I am the person I want to be.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Well! I was just wondering how Google works—what their oh-so-secret, fanatically guarded algorithm might be—so I did some poking around, and guess what I found out:


What their so-called "web search" actually does is SIMULATE a web search! With every "search," they just randomly generate infinitely many random alternate Internets, a multiverse of invented content—thereby "matching" every conceivable web result in every conceivable universe at every conceivable point at time! Then all they do is test every link and discard all the ones that don't match something in this universe at this point in time!

So! Turns out those folks over at Google Inc. are nothing but a bunch of smoke-and-mirror grifters!

Shame on you, Google!

UPDATE: I asked a frend who works at Google whether the exposé above was more or less accurate, and his response was extremely illuminating:

Surprisingly close. We found that discarding the links that don't work in this universe used too many CPU resources, so now we just move you into a universe in which the first set of links we generated is accurate.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Remember how in Alien they realize they misread the transmission that brought them to LV-426, and it was actually a warning telling them to stay away? Well, we misread the Prometheus trailer.

You know how Alien wouldn't have been made at all better
by the addition of a huge human-head statue? Yeah. Well...

[Title joke by lowindustrial.]

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vote Romney for an ignorant, bigoted America. [UPDATED]

As I've mentioned before, in 2004 a majority of polled Bush supporters said that invading Iraq was OK if and only if we found weapons of mass destruction; also, a majority of polled Bush supporters said that we did find weapons of mass destruction. (In case you're not up on your history, we did not.) So, by their own account, most Bush supporters wouldn't have voted for him if they had known the facts.

Relatedly, I remember a poll from a few years back that showed that Americans as a whole did not support gay marriage, but that Americans under 30 and Americans who knew a gay person did support it. In the past few years it's become apparent to me that what I used to think was just a nice liberal talking point is in fact an actual real-world truth: bigotry is born of ignorance.

How many Romney supporters support him because they believe that the president is a secret Kenyan Communist? How many because they think he caused the bad economy, that he lost hundreds of thousands of jobs? (By Romney's own logic, the president has actually created about 3.7 million jobs.) How many because they think he wants to raise their taxes? (More than the appropriate 1%, I'm guessing.)

I don't believe it's OK to tell people what to think. But I do believe it's OK to tell people to think. Democracy works if the people understand what they're voting for. The GOP (which ought to be renamed the BCP, for Batshit Crazy Party) draws all of its power at this point from lies, distortions, and paranoid fantasies. (Sorry, not all of its power: much of its power comes in the form of money from the 1%.)

An America that votes for Mitt Romney is an America exploited by charlatans and steered by lunatics. Vote for truth. Vote for an empowered, informed electorate. Vote Barack Obama in 2012.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

a few things I've enjoyed lately

Best necrobestiality scene of 2012!

The Cabin in the Woods
Do whatever you can to go into this knowing nothing about its contents. I liked the movie very much, even though one of the actors in it slept with an ex-girlfriend of mine (while we were still dating). That says something, that that didn't ruin the movie for me, don't you think?

The Avengers
Joss Whedon is on fire. He's well on the road to making it irrelevant that his name is "Joss Whedon."

"Fight for Your Right Revisited" (q.v.)
Watched this again last night. Best thing the Beastie Boys had done in years, and arguably one of the best things they ever did. Written and directed by the late MCA.

the reinvention of government at the end of Family Guy's Tea Party episode
Family Guy has some of the smartest, funniest writers in the business. (Yes, I saw that episode of South Park, too. We all saw it.)

( ) by Sigúr Ros
Somebody once told me that Sigúr Ros was making some of the most beautiful music ever recorded. Based just on this one album, I would say yes, they are.

Boogie Nights
Wasn't too excited about this when I saw it in theaters. Saw it again recently. It's great.

The Occasional
Funny or Die has a humor magazine out now—iPad only, I think, and it definitely takes advantage of the new medium. The first issue had some hilarious stuff in it, and it's really nice to have a humor magazine out.

You could edit this movie down to a 20-minute short, and I might make an argument for its being one of the best things Spielberg ever did.

Mack attack.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thomas Pynchon vs. Brian Wilson: Requiem

When [future writer of Pynchon gossip/criticism (and erotic novels*) Jules] Siegel brought his friend [counterculture Shakespeare and writer of the American Ulysses] Thomas Pynchon up to [schizoeffective Hollywood Mozart and writer of a "teenage symphony to God" Brian Wilson's] house one night, the famous hipster novelist sat in stunned, unhappy silence while the nervous, stoned pop star—who had dragged him into his then-new Arabian tent to get high—kept kicking over the oil lamp he was trying to light. 'Brian was kind of afraid of Pynchon, because he'd heard he was an Eastern intellectual establishment genius,' Siegel recalls. 'And Pynchon wasn't very articulate. He was gonna sit there and let you talk while he listened. So neither of them really said a word all night long. It was one of the strangest scenes I'd ever seen in my life.'

(excerpted from a book by Peter Ames Carlin†)

* Pictured above.
† Pictured below.