phamos: (brain poison)
This is a placeholder for the eventual post to come about how ridiculous it is to write a book that depends entirely on a convincing definition of "fascism" that ENTIRELY SKIPS OVER THE YEARS 1922-1943 IN ITALY UNDER MUSSOLINI. I mean, that's just STAGGERING. "Let's write a book about fascism but not mention what actually HAPPENED UNDER FASCIST RULE!" That's pretty much the most intellectually dishonest move I've ever seen in a piece of historical writing -- and I've read the whole neocon canon, so that's saying something!

I would like to rant about this further, but I must go to sleep. So I will try to post a longer rant tomorrow that will also discuss Jonah Goldberg's complete lack of irony and possibly a comparison of Sorel's "myth" with Plato's "noble lie" and Leo Strauss and Abram Shulsky and OSP/intelligence gathering/nous blah blah blah. Possibly. But probably not, because I haven't actually read any Sorel and that would make me as intellectually bankrupt and disingenuous as Mr. Goldberg -- probably I'll just post more rants about my cat's effect on my sinuses, or a deconstruction of the recent South Park parody of Heavy Metal, wherein I try to decipher how much of the boob-scenery was actually in the original movie. (I really should have watched more Bakshi while I was at Kim's.)

Also, Weeds is a good show. Romany Malco is hot -- but I think he might be kinda crazy in real life. That's the impression I got from the 40-Year-Old Virgin commentary track -- and obviously I should base all my judgments of human beings on how they come off when being peppered with vulgarisms by Seth Rogan.
phamos: (dignity)
I'm finally reading Liberal Fascism, by Jonah Goldberg -- it didn't take very long for me to work my way to the top of the request list in the Madison Public Library system, which makes me think that a whole lot of people read about one chapter, realized the book was just as silly as all its publicity made it out to be, and returned it within a couple of days. So here we are. Most of my complaints so far are structural rather than substantive. It's actually kind of hard to read the book, because it is pages and pages of three word quotes taken completely out of context and nestled snugly inside Goldberg's overly florid verbiage, with no way for the reader to know whether or not the words are being used as originally intended without constantly flipping back to the endnotes -- which are insufficient and inconsistent and, indeed, often negate their very use. Example: The epigraph for chapter one is a quote from what he calls "an early version of the Cole Porter song 'You're the Top'":

You're the top!
You're the Great Houdini!
You're the top!
You are Mussolini!

The quote is footnoted, and as such I'm immediately suspicious of just HOW early this version is. So I flip to the back.

Many authors have referenced these lyrics to demonstrate Mussolini's widespread popularity, but it is a common mistake to ascribe these lyrics to Cole Porter, the original author of the musical Anything Goes. Porter almost certainly did not write these lyrics. Rather, they were probably added by P.G. Wodehouse when he helped adapt the musical for the British stage. It also appears that there were multiple versions of the song with the Mussolini lyric, which hopscotched back and forth across the Atlantic.

OK, I have a NUMBER of issues with this footnote, starting with the incredibly lazy construction "Many authors have..." -- Seriously? That's the sort of thing you see in high school papers, not supposedly somewhat-scholarly works disseminated by major publishing houses. You're already in the endnotes, why not list a couple of examples of those "many authors" who make this incredibly "common mistake"? And if it's such a common mistake, then why are YOU basically indulging in that same mistake by quoting the damn line out of context as a stand-alone epigraph that you yourself contradict in the endnote? Because the endnote is basically saying 1) the line was written for comedic effect 2) by a British writer for non-American audiences, thus negating any relevance it has to an argument about American political elites. But OK, sure, it makes for a funny epigraph, you'll put it up there at the front of the chapter and then the pedants who bother to read the endnotes will know that you were really just kidding around by using it. Except then you cite the exact same quote in the text itself:

When Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, Americans finally started to turn on him. In 1934 the hit Cole Porter song "You're the Top" engendered nary a word of controversy over the line "You are Mussolini!" When Mussolini invaded that poor but noble African kingdom the following year, it had irrevocably marred his image, and Americans decided they had had enough of his act.

!!!! But! But! You just yourself said that the lyric wasn't IN the original "hit" version of the song, it was in the British version of the song! So what does it have to do with the American public's views of Mussolini? And don't even get me started on the incredibly infantilizing way he calls Ethiopia "poor but noble" -- it's like he's patting Ethiopians on the head, saying, "Look how cute you are with your 'emperor'. Haile Selassie is God? That's ADORABLE. Have a lolly."

So, yeah, he then spends a lot of time taking three-word quotes from articles of the time (like Ida Tarbell calling Mussolini "a despot with a dimple") and making it seem as though you can judge the content of any given article by a blurb pulled out from the middle. Anyone who's watched a movie preview in the past 20 years knows that's not true; did Roger Ebert really say that Daddy Day-Care was "hilarious" or did he say "anyone who thinks Daddy Day-Care is hilarious should be institutionalized"? The word hilarious is in there! Slap some quotes around it! Far too many years of higher education and a childhood subscription to Penny Power magazine have taught me to be inherently skeptical of quotes with no context. Whether this is unfair to Goldberg, I don't know -- it would be helpful if he had a footnote that cited the issue of McCall's in which Tarbell printed her supposedly rapturous toe-sucking of Mussolini. He doesn't. Like I said, the footnoting is incredibly inconsistent. I generally expect that from books published for mass consumption -- but then why bother having endnotes at all? Probably Ida Tarbell did write an incredibly flattering article about Mussolini in McCall's in 1926 -- but I'll never know for sure, because Goldberg quotes so selectively as to make me immediately suspicious, and then doesn't footnote properly. So, I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt.

What REALLY got my goat enough to make me stop reading and come post this, though, was the following sentence:

Boasting 169 mistresses over the course of his sexual career, Mussolini was also, by contemporary standards, something of a rapist.

What? What, exactly, are our "contemporary standards" that make someone "something of a rapist"? How is someone "SOMETHING" of a rapist? Helpfully, though, Goldberg HAS footnoted this particular assertion. What might Mussolini have written in his autobiography that, by our CONTEMPORARY STANDARDS make him SOMETHING OF A RAPIST?

I caught her on the stairs, throwing her into a corner behind a door, and made her mine. When she got up weeping and humiliated she insulted me by saying that I had robbed her of her honor and it is not impossible that she spoke the truth. But I ask you, what kind of honor could she have meant?

Oh, Jonah Goldberg. I know you like to use 20 words when four would suffice, but in this particular circumstance your verbal diarrhea just makes me hate you. Try this edit on for size: "Mussolini was a rapist." Hey, look at that! It takes out all the offensive moral equivocating you just engaged in! HTH. HAND.
phamos: (Default)
I was extremely disappointed with the Lee Siegel interview on The Daily Show last week. To recap, Lee Siegel is a writer for the New Republic who wrote some really crappy blog post about Jon Stewart, then sockpuppeted his way through the comments talking about how Lee Siegel is an authentic American hero, and you guyz r totally teh suck, so shut up! When his douchetastic sockpuppetry was found out, his blog got shut down and he was briefly suspended from the magazine. To kill time during said suspension, Siegel decided to write a whole book about how the internet is totally stupid anyway, and he totally doesn't care about what all the webdorks think of him. Actually, the totally BRILLIANT irony of the book is that his central thesis is that the web is an invalid forum for social criticism because you never know who is doing the posting. Everyone's a sock puppet! Not just me! And it's destroying Western culture, through its mass sockpuppetdom! As such, he insists that his "Sprezzatura" alter-ego on the blog was created as "a prank and a provocation", not because he's a whiny baby. So he's not really a petulant flouncy sock puppet, he's simply a damn troll.

Given that Siegel is a giant wank, and given that the post that started the whole thing was ABOUT JON STEWART, I was expecting at least SOME MENTION of the original incident during the interview. But the interview was surprisingly inert -- the New Republic blog disaster never came up, so there was a glaring lack of context for the book itself. Siegel just sat there, choading it up in his black-mock-turtleneck/tweed-sport-coat/self-satisfied-shit-eating-grin combo. I honestly think Jon Stewart was going to talk about it, but as soon as Siegel opened his mouth, he realized it would be totally futile to talk about anything of substance with the man, so instead he decided to make the interview as boring as possible to avoid stoking book sales for this absolutely useless human being. Pretty much the opposite tack as he took with Jonah Goldberg. (I'm still dying to see the unedited cut of that interview, by the way. I'm hoping against hope that now that the writer's strike is over, they'll post it on the web.)

But yeah, here's the Siegel interview. If you click it, prepare to be bored stiff. (Although it's kinda worth it just to see how lame and smug this guy is.)

phamos: (superpower)
Sometimes, in my more brainfarty moments, I mix up Harold and Allan Bloom. This is unfortunate, since Allan Bloom was all Straussy, so I should really keep that straight if I'm going to be taken seriously when I blather about neocons. The best way to distinguish between the two? Harold Bloom tried to fuck Naomi Wolf when she was his student. Allan Bloom totally wouldn't have thought to do that.

In other conservative-scholars-and-their-relations-to-sexy-type-things news, I totally learned today that Jonah Goldberg is Lucianne Goldberg's son! As I have only recently become well-acquainted with Mr. Goldberg's work through the evil machinations of Mr. [ profile] rationalpassion, I did not know that. He looks a lot like her, too -- I could really see it in that Daily Show interview, or what was left of it after the editors whittled it down to a nonsensical nub. Oh my god, do I ever want to see the directors cut of that interview. He may be cranky about it now, but his book sales are gonna go through the roof -- and that's obviously the only point of these book tours.
phamos: (dahl)
These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicise that you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. Add an asterisk to those you've read more than once. Underline those on your to-read list. (For the record, I take exception to the "COULDN'T finish" part of this exercise. With most of my italicized books, I sorta just never BOTHERED to finish. I got distracted by something else. The only ones where I felt like I came to a total dead stop are Anna Karenina, The Fountainhead [cuz I hated it so much -- sorry Mark], Tess of the d'Urbevilles [holy crap SO BORING] and Ulysses.)

many books... )


Oct. 1st, 2007 02:37 am
phamos: (Default)




phamos: (animal)
Aw, Madeleine L'Engle died. I was never as big a fan of hers as my sister was, but I loved Wrinkle in Time and got a kick out of the fact that she went to St. John the Divine, down the street from me. R.I.P.
phamos: (Spoiler)
Some British TV presenter is probably going to get fired for "spoiling" Harry Potter on air. Look, folks, I understand -- nobody wants to get spoiled for the ending of a book. But firing someone for it? This has officially gone too far. People need to chill the fuck out. Besides, there's no one big "thing" to reveal from the end of the book, like there was with the last book. To really completely spoil the book would have taken him more than the momentary joke he apparently made. The book has been out for almost two weeks. If you haven't read it by now, people may well spoil you. You can't sit around and expect everyone else to tiptoe around you because at some point in a few months you might decide to read it. Millions of people now know what happened -- odds are, someone's going to spoil something for you. And it will suck, but you're going to have to get over it and not throw a hissy fit. (Unless you actually are a five-year-old. Then, I can understand being upset. But still, not so upset that your mom should TEXT-MESSAGE the TV station to vote to get the guy fired. Yikes.)
phamos: (Spoiler)
For some reason, while I read the climactic scene in Deathly Hallows, I kept thinking of the fight between the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya in Princess Bride. i.e. if William Goldman wrote Harry Potter, it would go something like this:

phamos: (Default)
So. I've realized something that was cut from the fifth movie that's going to backfire in the seventh.

Dungbombs...(spoilers) )

In other news, I have a t-shirt that's totally on its last legs. It's a Death t-shirt, circa "Time of Your Life", and it's way too big and basically crumbling. Not a flattering piece of clothing, but it's incredibly comfortable to just lounge around in, and I love the artwork on the front:

I've been thinking, though, that if I need to do another clothing purge before we move, I might have to chuck it. BUT NOT ANYMORE! Because today I went to the mailbox, and as I was bent over checking to make sure everything had been successfully deposited, I heard a quiet voice behind me say, "Nice Death shirt." It took me a second to realize the guy was talking to me, and as I stood up I said thank you, but he'd already walked on. And I was like, yes, it IS a nice Death shirt. And Death brings people together! (Like Moki, or Old Dirty Bastard.) So I'm keeping it, for now.
phamos: (ramona)
This article on family leave from the New York Times Magazine was written by Eyal Press, who went to my high school and graduated with my sister. Eyal wrote a book a couple of years ago about his father, who was the only abortion provider left in Buffalo after Barnett Slepian was shot and killed. I think he's a very good writer, which pains me to say because he credits Dick Stratton in his book. (*gag*) He's also got a more distinguished record at the Times now than his classmate Dave Kirkpatrick, who's best known for getting in a ridiculous feud with Dave Eggers that conveniently disappeared from the McSweeney's website at some point in the last year. OK, that's not being fair to Dave Kirkpatrick, who's been doing solid work for the Times for ages now, but the Eggers thing really did taint his reputation. For the record, Dave Kirkpatrick is a good writer, and his sister was an awesome babysitter.
phamos: (headdesk)
The Harry Potter issue of Entertainment Weekly is cracking me up. Apparently whiny fandom wank has made it to the level of major weekly publication. There's a sidebar by a guy named Andrew Keen decrying the carpet book and bitching about how people on the internet are just big fat meanies.

Online spoilers need to be held much more accountable. Websites must be more aggressive in deterring antisocial action. Otherwise the jerks really will take over the internet. And the tears of Harry Potter fans will become all of our tears.

Really? REALLY?!? If this were an argument about copyright violation (which he makes a quick and very vague mention of earlier), then I might be willing to listen. But this is just...goofy. Keen isn't involved in that whole Bill O'Reilly "Daily Kos says 'fuck' in the comments and ALL OF SOCIETY IS GOING TO COLLAPSE" ridiculousness, is he? I've honestly never heard of him before. It looks from his wikipedia entry like he's a columnist for the Weekly Standard who thinks web 2.0 is some sort of Marxist conspiracy. I bet he and Bill Kristol have really fun cocktail parties.
phamos: (wedge)
Ha ha ha ha, I just read a comment over at fandom_wank that called Neville the Wedge Antilles of Harry Potter. I suddenly understand why I love Neville so damn much! (I still contend that Luke Skywalker tampered with Wedge's ship so that Wedge had to pull out and Luke could blow up the Death Star and get all the love. Totally bogus.)

And, for everyone's enjoyment, here's a picture of Neville out-hotting the Weasley twins.

phamos: (straightforward)
Oh, Entertainment Weekly. You've got to love a magazine that follows a puff propaganda piece about the Transformers movie with a solemn profile of Joyce Carol Oates and a rapturous tribute to Xanadu. The cognitive dissonance is too much for my brain to take on a Friday night.
phamos: (regent)

to THIS?

My brain is no longer functioning properly.
phamos: (gonzotwirl)
Slate article in which Maurice Sendak calls Mickey Mouse a shithead = My favorite Slate article of the week.
phamos: (dahl)
Any of you guys like YA fiction? I know you do. Stop lying. Buy my friend's book. I went to her wedding this past weekend, and she's totally fab.
phamos: (posers)
Enjoy the new book about the single most important publication in teen girl history. Sassy changed their lives? It changed mine, too. I'm sure I've written about Sassy on here before at some point, so I won't babble for too long. But I was weird in middle school. Sassy taught me that it was cool to be weird. And even if that mentality has bubbled over to unfortunate effect into the totally overwrought hipster scene, it doesn't change the fact that some funky 20-something girls in New York once told me that it was OK to wear Docs or Birkenstocks and listen to Liz Phair and dye your hair with Kool-aid (although they didn't recommend the latter, just for the sticky-and-impractical factor). It's hard to overstate how revolutionary that was for a gawky, dorky 12-year-old girl at a private school in Buffalo. I know many of you can relate.


phamos: (Default)

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