Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

discover inner beauty

September 17, 2009

I think this is genius. I have too many little places to post things, so I don’t update at this blog much, am just as likely to post something on facebook or twitter or something, but for some reason this seemed worth putting up a more proper link… It finds any inadvertent haikus within larger texts. This is especially fun to do for your own long texts (I found 3 in my dissertation and many more in a long fiction manuscript I have – guess there are more short sentences in it…)

But it’s also just neat to see what’s in famous texts, e.g., in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals there was only one:

The reason of this
appears sufficiently from
the treatise itself.

While Anna Karenina (gutenberg’s english version) had easily a couple dozen, a few of which I’ll copy below:

And his face expressed
serious hesitation.
“Are the oysters good?

Tried them: worse. Well, then,
there’s nothing left but to pray
to God. Tried it: worse.

Give me some morphine.
Doctor, give me some morphine!
Oh, my God, my God!

The whole day long there
was fever, delirium,
and unconsciousness.

On the contrary,
I am glad at the very
loss of my freedom.

But now her beauty
and elegance were just what
irritated him.

I speak from my heart.
We’re all gentlemen, aren’t we?
Above suspicion.

See me as you are.
It’s been going on more than
two hours already.

A quite addictive little game… and if it’s a book you’re familiar with, intriguing to catch snippets through a new window…


plato called it

November 12, 2008

very funny though perhaps actually quite depressing video behind the scenes at the daily show, on interviewing voters in this election. It’s further reminder that these systems don’t work not because of some particular disorder regarding the method or implementation or dynamic of power, but simply the force of that power itself, the intelligence of human beings. Hopefully we will muddle through with all our checks and balances 🙂


October 18, 2008

Oliver Stone’s new movie might have made a better mini-series – it was really long, but felt like it could have been much longer; it didn’t really have much of a plot; and except for Josh Brolin, who was excellent, and Cromwell & Burstyn, who were realistic as people but don’t really bother with the details in their portrayal of the senior Bushes, most of the cast feel a bit like caricatures (especially thandie newton as Rice, who is just awful – I don’t know if that’s the fault of the script, which didn’t leave much room for a character to develop, or if they cut the part down because her portrayal belonged on SNL). It seems like in order to try to make it fit into a movie, it focuses around Iraq and the father-son relation – Junior goes in to finish what Daddy never did, in order to get approval/ one up his stand-offish but never far away father.

It’s an interesting and I think well balanced story – it’s not told harshly, but reminds you of the amount of psychology and insider string-pulling and so forth that actually ends up running our government – how so much of what happens is built on just as emotional or shakespearian ‘reasoning’ as the statesmen of the past… we imagine it’s rational democracy now, but it’s not nearly that different… sure, we have more safeguards, but the impulses, the underlying motivations of the people in charge, haven’t changed much. We just have slightly better ways to keep them in check.

Overall, Bush comes across as a nice enough guy who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing, but has a motivation to show his dad he can do it. He isn’t malicious; he’d just rather be a center fielder. But as the continual sports day dreams show, he is never very good there either… he can’t box his father, and he can’t keep his eye on the ball in the stadium. The movie ends before the ball drops for sure, with just the dazed and confused GWB looking around him, which does seem appropriate. You almost feel sorry for him. But… not really.

NYC map of awkward social interactions

October 7, 2008

Just what I said above. This creation (of someone I knew in high school) reflects the juxtaposition of our need to catalogue and track everything like good rational vulcans, with the ever present and inescapable aspect of human experience, our very real inability to figure out what the hell is going on and how to deal. It’s a lovely little observation.

Plus, it’s interactive! go wild! (if you’ve ever been to New York and are a little emotionally exhibitionistic).

david foster wallace

September 14, 2008

Apparently he hanged himself. Reading this made me cry. I have had trouble eating this morning, and it’s even possible I am premenstrual so we can blame this on various physical weaknesses, but nonetheless, I … This is really hard for me.

I feel like this is my Nirvana moment, the way my musician friends felt when Kurt Cobain killed himself. For me, that was sad, but nirvana wasn’t really my thing anyway… But I remember stopping by the guitar shop where my friend Jason worked that day, and seeing him near tears. DFW isn’t so much one of my favorite authors as just a voice of a generation, one of the original definers of the meta-ironic overly-self-conscious intellectually wittily effusive, that others have tried to copy but few have really achieved.

God. Maybe I’ll try to clarify what I’m thinking later… [1]

[1] RIP

7 years

September 11, 2008

This cartoon does a pretty good job of capturing how america should probably be dealing with today’s anniversary. Mostly I just like the drawing of the 9-11 character I think.

But wow, can you imagine having a president who told us “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”? Can you imagine if 9-11 had happened under Al Gore? All this bullshit about living in a culture of fear reminds me of growing up in the 80’s under Reagan when I would lie awake at night worrying about nuclear war. Republicans seem to thrive on this. “no attacks for 7 years” is such crap! We hadn’t had attacks for 7 years before 2001 either! We had never had anything like 9-11 before in our history! In 1993 there was an attempt that failed. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh, an American, killed 168 people in Oklahoma – nothing to do with international terrorism or the middle east or really anything but timothy mcveigh.

And really that’s what middle east terrorism is too. We can escalate it to all out war, but you’re just getting more young excitable kids more excited to terrorize, just like McVeigh was, and in the end they’re the same. It should just be treated like police action…

more movies…

August 16, 2008

On Tuesday, Blue Velvet was playing at McCarren Pool, the currently unrestored but gigantic old pool in McCarren Park, Greenpoint.

We got there at around 6, even though the movie itself wasn’t scheduled to begin until around 7:30 or 8, because we read that the venue opened at 5:30, and we wanted to get good seats. Well, when we arrived, the place was empty. There were a few tents in the back serving mexican food, and a tent in the middle giving away starbucks energy drinks, and then a few people wandering around, but only maybe one or two people actually sitting down in front of the screen. It seemed like the reason was probably that the sky looked slightly on the grumpy side, but when we went in, the guy at the front, who checked our bags for food & drink to make sure we weren’t bringing in our own instead of buying theirs (I had to finish an Odwalla before he’d let me past) assured us that there was no way they’d be rained out. I specifically asked, how rainy is too rainy, i.e., is a little drizzle enough to put off the show, or does it need to be a downpour, and who makes the call, etc, and he said, oh no, nothing will stop the show, we will go ahead no matter what. I was a little surprised by the answer but didn’t think too much about it as the weather prediction had been only 30% chance of showers and I figured even if it did rain it probably wouldn’t last too long, so I thought he was going on that assumption.

Anyway. We got some mexican food and it started to rain. We decided to find a spot to stand underneath the brick arches to stay dry until the showers were over, so found a little niche behind some electrical wire and opened up a crossword puzzle book (& finished the last wednesday! yay!). The rain got much harder. It started to look like it was coming down at quite a severe angle and possibly really screwing with the tent cuisine. We were quite safe, although the puddle of water in front of us was getting quite deep… Eventually, the rain let up, and a magnificent rainbow appeared directly across from us and it seemed as if everything was right with the world… except that we were meant to see the movie in a pool, and it was flooded. The show was cancelled.

Still, we saw a gorgeous rainbow, had a great dinner in williamsburg, had fun in the pool, got free coffee flavored energy drinks, and walked through parks, so it was worth it.

The next night we discovered Fellini’s 8 1/2 was playing in Socrates Sculpture Park at about 6:30. It was meant to start at 8. We basically just ran for the subway and hoped there’d be seats left, though we were worried about getting a seat where you could still read subtitles.

I had never seen 8 1/2 before. But we got fine seats, even though it was pretty crowded, because it is one of N’s favorite films, and so he basically just walked right up to an empty spot next to the projector and sat down… no one seemed to mind.

I enjoyed the movie, although it had been very hyped and wasn’t really what I’d expected. It wasn’t exactly a Good movie because it was basically a discussion about the impossibility of a Good movie, which I agree with, fundamentally – yet, like all art, we try to make something anyway, as impossible as it is to ever make what would actually be worth making. And this project did work, because it was so self-aware, although at the same time, it offered little beyond its own self-awareness, so it felt limited as well: but it knew it was limited! so you couldn’t fault it for that; it was always ahead of you, so to speak. And really, many of the fantasy / dream sequences or lines back and forth were just so wonderful that it didn’t really matter what the set up was, exactly. Any excuse to create that scene or character… But altogether it didn’t tie up and satisfy something, because its essential point was about the hopelessness of that goal, so a frustration always hung there a bit for me. Like the filmmaker got away with more than he should have because he said from the start that nothing was happening. But maybe the secret is the title: 8 1/2 refers to the number of movies he’d made; every time as a director he goes through this and the 7 1/2 other times he had sucked it up and made it into a story of some kind, he had put that symbolic girl in the white dress, he had cast all the characters, he had made all the decisions and gone forward and just completed the thing, and it had been a movie, Good or not, a finished thing. This time we see what happens when you just can’t deal with all the imperfection of art, all the pain of trying to create when the product is never what you hope for, but it’s just one among many, and Fellini still goes on to keep sucking it up in his other movies even though he never does in this one. (almost related: woody allen discusses creative process with the Onion…I basically just wanted to link to this interview)

Finally, last night I saw Tropic Thunder. I had been expecting a sort of silly comedy about a bunch of guys too dumb to notice they’re not in a movie anymore, with lots of references to serious war movies – a spoof that could be fun but might get a bit eye rolly. This wasn’t that movie. Yes, there were silly jokes, plenty of them, but the whole angle of the thing was self reference rather than movie reference, and the satire was all pointed toward hollywood, or really, our general cultural thinking that we can represent something that someone else has been through and thus, make it more true by making it more accessible to everyone. This was brilliantly pointed out in Robert Downey Jr’s monologue explaining that you “never go full retard” in a movie, since the audience has to relate; it was subversively portrayed by his character being a white man playing a black man; and it was the basic plot with regard to war movies all the way through, as a look at the disparity of actual war and creating a movie about war and the emotional experience of the audience watching the movie about war and thinking it is meaningful: when those emotions they are feeling are based on people’s presentations who have very little idea about what war is actually like. Much like Robert Downey Jr in that blackface.

It was really funny too.

rhymes with complaining

July 8, 2008

I finally saw the Simpsons Movie on Sunday night (on TV). I had skipped it when it came out as it didn’t look good, and the show hasn’t been worth it for years, in my estimation. But, Matt Groening was a hero of mine during my adolescence, so I was kind of curious, and there’s not much else on on a Sunday night anyway… (well, I don’t even have a tv of my own. this was all at N’s house. who, by the by, I should probably credit with the “Zohan” twist in that post below).

Yeah, anyway. So I was really into the Life in Hell comic series in middle school and high school, and was amazed when I saw color clips on the Tracy Ullman show – as I said in another blog, I’d have recognized those overbites anywhere. For those of you without much pre-internet memory, it may be hard to understand why this was so surprising, but there were no cartoons on prime time and there certainly was no humor like matt groening’s on prime time, and maybe more than anything, matt groening was a small-market, alternative artist. He was like R. Crumb or Jules Feiffer or Tom Tomorrow – it had just never occurred to me that he would be on national television. But, just as it turned out that everyone loved Nirvana, it turned out everyone loved the Simpsons, too. What had seemed alternative was actually pretty well shared by a lot of the population – and as I went into college, my favorite cartoonist became the best show on television.

For years, the gift kept on giving. But somewhere along the way something changed, either in the show or in me. I think it’s the show, because I think I still find the early ones funny… The movie was really the epitome of it for me. It started out with some promising moments – mostly because the itchy and scratchy segue was cute. I was totally willing to give it a chance, and I was smiling at ralph in the O and the “I will not illegally download this movie” opening stuff. But the movie itself did not deliver. The characters have become unlikable. Homer was really portrayed as an abusive father, which just cast a shadow over the whole family, esp Bart & Marge, and Lisa was even more self-righteous than usual (of course she was right, since they wrote that too)… basically Maggie was the only likable one – until her first word during the credits.

The story was predictable, and had been used in various forms in regular episodes – Lisa tries to warn springfield, Homer fucks up & dooms them all, springfield comes after Homer with torches, they escape, Homer has a revelation and comes back to save the town. The plot had holes in it, though I guess it’s silly to worry over the consistency of a cartoon. (I was especially annoyed that they escape through a sinkhole but no one else ever tried to dig a tunnel out of the dome, though. Maybe it was supposed to be a joke.) But really what was unappealing about it was just how there were no surprising moments, no real laughs where you are caught off guard because you didn’t see something coming, or because the writers presented such a perfect reflection of our experience that you feel almost a sense of epiphany – yes, that’s how life is, kinda thing. Those are the kinds of jokes that make something truly funny, and I am just sorry that Matt Groening attaches his name to an enterprise that is so unconnected to anything like that anymore. There are funny cartoons out there, but the Simpsons is not on the list anymore. South Park is still very often funny. King of the Hill is still very often funny. American Dad has gotten to be very often funny. The Simpsons paved the way and had a lot of brilliant moments over the years, but in replaying the same joke over and over they have lost the original sense of it that made it funny in the first place, and they can’t deliver it in a way that makes us believe it’s funny (-and delivery is 90% of the joke to start with…) so it falls flat. I don’t know who still watches it – presumably people who weren’t fans at the beginning.

bare humor

February 26, 2008

I can’t really explain why I find this so funny, but Garfield minus Garfield made me laugh out loud on every page for like five pages… It’s just somehow bizarre and pathetic and familiar enough to seem hilarious. Of course it could be that I haven’t eaten in 5 hours. Whatever. I give credit to the idea.

Speaking of funny, I saw Be Kind Rewind over the weekend. I found the beginning wonderfully funny, in a ridiculous, weird, random sort of way; the middle, where they remade the movies had some great moments too, and then the ending I found too soppy and sort of christmas storyish, though I guess perhaps the idea was that the movie and being the movie and remaking the movie were all interwoven in a way… so maybe it had to have a kind of hollywood ending if it was going to be a movie about movies in that way. Another interesting component was how there were really no love storylines in the plot, and in the beginning the 3 main characters all sit around talking about how the other two never seem to get any action. You can see potential interests, but no one really makes a move – is that a commentary too, somehow?

maybe I just like bees.

November 5, 2007

I saw Bee Movie the other night. I had originally thought it sounded fun when I heard about it over the summer – I am kind of a sucker for insect related things, for some reason. But then the press about it was pretty bad (53% on tomatoes), and the one clip I saw on TV (Conan, I think) didn’t look that good either, so I felt pretty half-hearted. But N. is a Seinfeld fan, and wanted to see it one way or another, so I went along, and I actually found it really fun. I’m not sure why the critics have been so harsh… maybe just because more was expected, and we’ve seen plenty of animated stories before.

Some of the reviews suggest that there is no story to keep the whole thing together, that it’s just a series of jokes without a backbone, but I didn’t find this to be the case at all. The story isn’t all that suprising, perhaps, especially if you saw Antz, but it comes to at least a slightly different conclusion, & there definitely is a plot. There is a lot of silliness, but I didn’t see that as a negative, and I liked how it was mixed with a fair amount of more subtle humor. I suppose it could just come down to expectations; I went in just hoping not to be bored, whereas other people say after Ratatouille, nothing could match up. (I didn’t see Ratatouille, so I can’t really comment there.) I was consistently entertained, and laughed out loud pretty regularly, and basically found the whole premise pretty funny (the primary relationship – the bee-human flirtation – was hilarious to me, though the courtroom stuff was less interesting).

While we’re on B(ee) movies, here’s some zombie deconstruction.