Archive for the 'what, this is humor?' Category

This is all just a big misunderstanding.

1 October 2008

This whole Sarah Palin episode has reached such heights of ridiculousness that it’s hard to know what things are scurrilous rumors and which are facts. So far, the more outrageous things are the true ones, but I do think she’s gotten an unfair shake.

For example, I hear (but am too busy with sarcasm to look up) that she didn’t know what the morning-after

Uh-oh, indeed.

Uh-oh, indeed.

pill was. I think the important thing to remember is that in Alaska, the morning-after pill is pretty useless and therefore not widely known. After all, as far north as they are, the “morning after” is actually sometime in the middle of the second trimester.

And then there’s the interview in which (I shit, dear reader, you not) the two authors most influential on her are C.S. Lewis and a guy who for many years had a column in Runner’s World.

Now, if I were running for high office, and didn’t know much of anything about anything, I would probably look for a “reader’s digest” — a primer, if you will — to help me get oriented. If I’m running, then I would probably see Runner’s World there on the shelf and think, Hey, I’m running for something! This is probably pretty helpful.

The most recent issue of Foreign Policy Quarterly

The most recent issue of Foreign Policy Quarterly

And put yourself in her shoes: you open up Runner’s World, having heard for the last several weeks about all of the strange exotic places in the news, and half the sentences start with “I ran.” What would you think? it’s an easy mistake to make.

This whole thing is just a big misunderstanding.


Relationship suffocation, anyone? Anyone?

8 January 2008

I’m new here, so imagine my feeling when I take my first look at the search-engine terms which have drawn people here in recent days and find this one: “suffocate a relationship.” What are you looking for, a how-to guide? It’s weird, and kind of creepy. Maybe it’s something about the word “suffocate.”

Yes, it may say something about me that that search brought them here, but for me it was a turn of phrase, not what I’m looking for. Who searches for that? (Not to judge or anything. Whoever you are, pull up a chair and stay for a while. Just don’t get too close, or, well, you know.)

Deconstructing my own pretension.

29 December 2007

I can be pretentious sometimes. This comes as a great shock to you, I know.

This pretension takes several forms. Sometimes it’s the subject matter. Even though my enthusiasm for Gustav Klimt and W.A. Mozart is genuine, it’s undeniably pretensious. The important thing to remember is that I do this from a broad and honest love of all these things.

(Sometimes, I mention things just to sound classier, but when I do, I usually just make up a name, to avoid being disrespectful of genuine artists and thinkers by using them for such selfish purposes. Jorge Federico del Campo, the late Bolivian poet, often did much the same thing.)

Just as often, though, my pretentiousness is in the way I express my interests. I make no apologies for this, either. I try to speak and write well, and I do make an effort for rid my speaking, writing, and manner of unnecessary pretension — as much as I can and still expess what I mean to. I am precise to communicate, not merely to be stuck-up: As a faithful minister of the Gospel of Strunk and White I try not to use more words than I need to and mean to.

Still, I often fail at this, because I have a love for the elegant turn of phrase. Witness:

WHAT I SAID: It has come to my attention that a number of people I’ve never met are reading my LiveJournal. (18 words, counting the contraction as one and “LiveJournal” as one)
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: Strangers read this. (3 words)

WHAT I SAID: There’s a good piece in the New Yorker about Arthur Rimbaud. For all you uncultured people out there, he was an important poet. (23 words, plus the patronizing air and the fact that anyone pretending to like Rimbaud is pretentious to start with)
WHAT I COULD HAVE SAID: Check out Rimbaud. (3 words)

Me: So it’s not just me being ignorant?
My Friend: Well, that probably makes it worse. (13 words)
Me: Not just me ignorant?
My Friend: Not just. (6 words)

Incidentally, I don’t think my friend is pretentious. Maybe if he knew more about classical music, he could be.

And that’s really the heart of it: I may be pretentious, but I do my level best to do it in an accessible sort of way. I’m like a doctor or a cop in that ideally, I work myself out of a job. If people were smarter, better educated, more cultured, more artistic, I wouldn’t have to be pretentious. I could focus on being self-absorbed. Wah.

Reposted from the old site: Tuesday, December 16th, 2003