Saturday the Twenty-Seventh of December, Two Thousand and Eight
Wait until you hear my idea for Pride and Prejudice in a Soho clip joint circa 1968!
So I suddenly had a brilliant idea for a retelling of 2001: A Space Odyssey in 13th century Andalus. Wait, wait, hear me out! At first I figured it was just one of those thoughts that enters one's head and should probably just be taken outside and shot, but when I actually pondered it, it started making more and more sense. I picked the 13th century sort of at random, but that was when Al-Jazari published his Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, which included several quite advanced automata—even a programmable medieval drum machine! What if, I hereby postulate, he had created an entire autonomous ship? (Yes, I know it's absurd, but it's
steam clock hydropunk, of course it's going to be absurd.) And what if this ship were being sent out on with a two-man crew on a mission of exploration? And what if the Almohads had discovered a mysterious artifact in the Moroccan wastes and secretly repurposed the mission to find the truth behind it?
(I don't actually want to write this story, but I do want to write about it. Maybe I'll steal a trick from Borges, pretend the book has already been written, and write a review of it.)
defiantly posted by Martin Marks at 3:14 in the afternoon // one comment by:
Wednesday the Twenty-Fourth of December, Two Thousand and Eight
Am I going to get this in exactly at midnight?
So I was all set to quote "Fairytale of New York", but then I noticed that I'd done that last year. I guess I could, theoretically speaking, quote some other Christmas song, but the only one I can think of at the moment is "Wonderful Christmastime", because I've heard it twice today and it gets deeper under my skin each time. (I did manage to get through the season without hearing "Feliz Navidad"... until just now when it started playing in my head. My eternal curse upon José Feliciano!)
Pointless aside: As I get older, I begin to realize just how emotionally complicated all holidays are, and I think that's what Christmas music utterly fails to capture. It's all Happy Happy Joy Joy (Now Buy Something), but honestly joy is the least abundant Christmas emotion for me. The good side of Christmas, for me, is contentment, comfort, and in a good year peace and even hope. Most of that barely even gets addressed in your standard saccharine Christmas song. And they almost never cover the dark side of Christmas, which arguably makes December the most roundly miserable month of the year. I guess that's what I like so much about "Fairytale of New York" (well, okay, besides the fact that it's a Pogues song with Kirsty MacColl on it and I would therefore probably like it even if it were "Feliz Navidad"). It obviously isn't about the dark side of Christmas itself, but it does depict Christmastime not as a month of uninterrupted Glee (and Consumption) but as a very thin ray of sunlight in one poor drunk loser's dismal life. Which, I think, is a good deal more realistic.
Anyway, happy Christmas to that portion of the blogmass that celebrates it, and happy December 25th to the rest of it. May all your lives, dismal or no, be illuminated just a bit.
venturesomely posted by Martin Marks at 11:59 at night // one comment by:
Tuesday the Twenty-Third of December, Two Thousand and Eight
Not so much wishing I'd been in the Stanford prison experiment, though.
Sometimes I wish I had taken part in the Milgram experiment. That is a strange thing to wish for, I know. It's just that I really believe I would be one of the 35% who didn't go up to 450 volts—or, better yet, the 2.5% who stopped before 300 (which is still much too late)—but I have no way of really knowing that. What if I was one of the 65%? What if I really am that... human?
scrupulously posted by Martin Marks at 12:16 at night // three comments by:
Monday the Twenty-Second of December, Two Thousand and Eight
You can tell Dromi still has trouble hearing that T-Rex is dating someone new.
I cannot believe T-Rex got there first.
bawdily posted by Martin Marks at 7:57 in the evening // comment? by:
Sunday the Twenty-First of December, Two Thousand and Eight
Everything I know about suit-wearing I learned from Lance Reddick.
I have a new suit!
First off, I should retell the story of my old one, for those who don't know it. Sometime in October of... 2001, I think, I went to the Annapolis Goodwill looking for a Halloween costume. (It had long been my dream to go as Alex—ideally in that awesome purple dandy frock, though I guess that's probably a little less likely to show up in Goodwill.) I didn't find quite what I was looking for, but I did happen across a lovely little dove-grey three-piece... with a price tag of $15. I tried it on, and it fit perfectly, like it was tailored for me. In fact, as I learned from the nametag I discovered in the right jacket pocket, it had been tailored for State Senator John C. Astle. Naturally, I bought that bitch, and indeed used it (along with a bowler hat) as my costume—first as the Minister of Silly Walks, then, when my legs got tired, as The Son of Man (with the help of a convenient apple). And ever since, I have worn it to every Croquet—and, indeed, at every excuse.
So now, the story of my new suit. My mother went to Singapore on business last month, and had the idea to get me a new suit there as a Christmas present. (Singapore and Hong Kong are possibly the two best cities in the world to get a tailored suit, in that the tailors there are as good as almost anywhere short of Savile Row, but are astonishingly affordable.) So she took my old suit and had a new one made based on the measurements from the first. So technically this one too is tailored for John C. Astle (almost—the jacket arms are slightly longer on this one than the original), but it fits me even better than the first. It's a finer wool than the first, in a charcoal grey with a subtle herringbone, and is utterly stunning.
I really wish I had an excuse to wear suits more often. I think everyone has a natural aesthetic which they will naturally fall into given the right ingredients. Mine is Irish Mob circa 1928. This suit with a jauntily cocked trilby (even a lime green corduroy trilby) and a finger or two of single malt and I seriously look like the guy to talk to about a certain substance you need brought across the Canadian border.
begrudgingly posted by Martin Marks at 10:49 in the evening // comment? by:
Saturday the Twentieth of December, Two Thousand and Eight
I've probably spent more time thinking about this show than watching it at this point.
The fundamental tragedy of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is that the titular doctor is condemned by the false dichotomy engendered by the black-and-white morality of the world in which he lives. Captain Hammer, the designated "Hero", stands for mindless support for the Establishment, for the brutal enforcement of conformity, for anti-intellectualism, and for rule by the powerful. Because Billy opposes all of this, he assumes that he must therefore be a "Villain". And so he allies himself with the like of Bad Horse, Fake Thomas Jefferson, and Dead Bowie, although their goals and his are irreconcilable. If he had only had the courage to break free of the false dichotomy and blaze his own trail, he could have established himself as a different breed of hero altogether—not a "corporate tool" like Hammer, but a subversive hero who fights against the status quo while still helping people. It would be a difficult road to follow, certainly, as he would be making enemies of both the established superheroes and the Evil League of Evil, with no support (except maybe Moist). It would also mean giving up his childish dreams of "anarchy... that I run!"—which, I believe, are based not so much on the desire of power for power's sake as on the well-meaning but ultimately flawed belief that the ills he sees in the world can only be corrected by giving supreme power to the right people (i.e. him)—and instead setting forth a coherent vision of the world he would like to see and finding a means of achieving it without sacrificing his fundamental principles.
One can even make the argument that Billy's romantic failings are another example of a similar phenomenon. In this case, the false dichotomy is between the Nice Guy and the Jerk Jock (which, like the hero-villain construct, is essentially a lie created by the media). What Billy never quite seems to realize is that his attempt to be a Nice Guy only succeeds in establishing him as another kind of Jerk. One commentator who Sumana linked to the other day points out that every single conversation Billy has with Penny is based on lies. The one moment of honesty we see in their interaction is when he talks about homelessness being a symptom of deeper problems—and she agrees, though she still maintains that treating the symptoms is the right thing to do. Just imagine what kinds of interesting conversations they could have had if he had actually come clean with her! If Billy had just had the courage to be honest with Penny, rather than trying to be what he thought she wanted to be (and stalking her to figure out what that was), perhaps the two of them together could have come up with a real vision for change, and used Billy's impressive inventorial abilities to actually achieve it without getting into bed with the Thoroughbred of Sin. (And maybe even getting into bed with each other, for that matter.)
agitatedly posted by Martin Marks at 3:15 in the afternoon // one comment by:
Thursday the Eighteenth of December, Two Thousand and Eight
I don't think it actually had anything in common with the original show besides Bob Saget.
Last night I dreamed at least one complete episode of Full House. I do not recall ever having seen a complete episode of Full House while awake.
venturesomely posted by Martin Marks at 11:40 at night // one comment by:
Wednesday the Seventeenth of December, Two Thousand and Eight
Now it is time for more tea.
I lost my voice yesterday, and took today off work to try and find it, because I kind of need it back. I can't even express the amount I totally do not want to be sick right now. I'm hoping it's just a combination of an irritated larynx and a stressful couple of weeks. In any case, the day off work was a triffic idea. I had a list of things I was Totally Intending To Do, but which I completely ignored; this, too, was exactly as it should have been. (The true luxury in indolence stems from the knowledge that there are much better things you could be doing.)
begrudgingly posted by Martin Marks at 4:12 in the afternoon // four comments by:
Monday the Fifteenth of December, Two Thousand and Eight
In which I whine, and am a dork.
I seem to be having a rather bad day. My car—which spent two days last week in the shop for a litany of small but expensive annoyances—today decided to turn on its "Set Fire To A Hundred Dollar Bill" light, which for some inexplicable reason is labeled "Check Engine" in my car. And then I locked my keys inside it—which, for the record, I have never done before. Also, I spent much of the afternoon running wires through a drop ceiling, and suspect that I have inhaled about three ceiling tiles. It's always fun playing the "how many hours did my job take off of my life expectancy today?" game. Then I got home, my local mechanic quoted me $82 just to diagnose the light, my shower basically just laughed at me when I asked it politely to get the ceiling bits out of my hair, and my fridge completely failed to contain beer.
So the question is this: given how my day has gone so far, do I want to attempt something slightly challenging (but potentially rewarding)? In other words, to put it in the nerdiest terms possible: if I've been rolling ones all day, am I more likely to score a critical failure if I try anything else today (because the day is cursed) or less likely (because I've rolled all the ones out of my day)? This is an ancient question, of course.
unintentionally posted by Martin Marks at 7:15 in the evening // six comments by:
Sunday the Fourteenth of December, Two Thousand and Eight
May I just say that I am extremely proud of myself for getting through all three of those names and only getting one letter wrong?
Last night I saw a string quartet play Szymanowski, Bartók, and, somewhat incongrously, Mendelssohn. It was pretty good times, actually. The passion and energy was definitely there throughout the evening, though I got the sense that the second violin and viola were much more into the Szymanowski/Bartók and the first violin and cello were all about the Mendelssohn. I'm not going to embarass myself trying to talk coherently about what I thought about the music itself before I've had my Sunday morning waffle, but I will say that the Szymanowski was certainly not dull, but failed to really engage me, that the Bartók was probably the high point of the evening, and that the Mendelssohn provided a nice change of pace after the first two.
Also, as the encore, they played "Jingle Bells" in the style of Beethoven. That was an interesting experience.
playfully posted by Martin Marks at 11:10 in the morning // comment? by: