Random neuron firing, lame philosophy, literary pontificating, movies, sex, clothes & other femme stuff

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Katie has posted on her blog a legion of compellingly written and deeply affecting anecdotes (acerbic and hilarious ones, too) recording throbs of urban life --but none more more so than her latest, a characteristically spare narration of overhearing from her window, but not being positioned to see directly, a fatal shooting and its aftermath. God. She scrapes your heart with the situation's terrible, incongruous aura of inconsequentiality. I wasn't even there, and I still can't purge from my mind her account of the irritable inflection in the dying victim's voice.
Another cute banner ad

It kind of spoils it if you know that Philosophy is the pretentious brand name of an expensive cosmetic line. So just pretend it isn't.

Absolutely, some of my best philosophizing is borne of a combination of medical research, makeup, skincare, and fragrance.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Bronze medallions

While I'm at it, I might as well mention that puffy nipples gets third place among my search terms, because I mentioned them once, too (although that blog page seems to have vanished at this moment). Btw, there are several yahoo groups claiming to have an interest in puffy nipples (you may remember I was speculating about that), the most likely of which seem to me to be Big Puffy Bra-less Nipples (5000+ "members") and puffy-nipple, concerning, according to the posted description, a "puffy nipples Outdoor cocksucker - movie."
We get letters

I mentioned recently how surprised I am at some of the search strings that lead surfers to this blog. You dear readers who come here for the highbrow cultural criticism and you who, because Greta's so pathetic at returning phone calls, come to garner some meagre sense of what she's up to these days (this week her latest hit, "Bleak House Grouse," is in heavy rotation, indeed saturating this market) might be interested to learn the number one search string bringing people here --300% ahead of the number two search string (which unsurprisingly is mikarrhea). The number one search string is . . .[drumroll] . . . CFNM. If it weren't for the myriad enthuasiasts of cfnm and the nollningen initiation ritual (which I posted about only once, albeit with approbation), sadly, you six other regulars would constitute my entire readership. What astounds me is that surfers manage to get to Mikarrhea despite the fact that, for a simple "cfnm" search on Google, my site is so far down the list even I don't have the patience to track it down. (When, however, I typed cfnm pix into Google, Mikarrhea came up well within the top 100 out of 17,000 or so hits and when nollningen initiation ritual --even better-- the second out of two.)

Anyway, from time to time I get e-mail asking for advice. The other day I received the following request for assistance from a polite gentleman whose identifying information for understandable reasons I'll keep to myself. I'm stymied. For once, I really don't have any good suggestions to offer. Is there a chance that any of you other cfnm fans can be of help? If you would be so kind as to offer some advice, please e-mail it to me. I'll be sure to pass on your words of wisdom.
Hello Michaela. I first would like to compliment you on your web page. I
have only recently discovered it but have since enjoyed the reading. There
is so much I would enjoy talking with you about but I wanted to touch on one
thing specifically. You mentioned the web site 'Visual Sensations for Women'
and talked about 'Nollningen Initiation Ritual'. I thank you very much for
introducing me to those. I am a 35 year old male who went through something
similar when I went to college. I actually love things such as that.

Anyway, to keep this short. I have been divorced now for about 6 months and
am learning to be single again. I love to travel and have a question for you
that maybe you or your readers will have suggestions. I enjoy CFNM a great
deal and would like to experience situations with this on my travels. I have
been to nudist resorts but that isn't the same as a CFNM situation. What
should a guy do who sincerely enjoys CFNM and wants to incorporate it into a
vacation? Any suggestions? Please help.

Thank you again for your writings.
Speaking of people with way too much time on their hands

I neglected to relate in the last post that the reason Bart's party devolved into a simulacrum of the one in Gatsby where Tom Buchanan smashes Myrtle Wilson's nose (has anyone ever noticed the vulnerability and, well, prominence of noses in that novel? Myrtle, Wolfsheim, butler w/silver polish, servant w/gasoline, guest at party) was undoubtedly that after the Model Café closed (where the congregation had migrated to change scenery for a few hours) we made the mistake of returning to Bart & Peter's apartment and, caught up in a sort of lather-rinse-repeat spirit, drinking yet more. The return's rationalization: Peter wanted us to watch a couple of films made by a friend of his. One film, Titler (pronounced like the Nazi, not like the person responsible for screen credits), consisted of a series of black & white MTV-style sequences depicting Adolph Hitler (Peter's screenwriter-lyricist-director-editor-star friend) in an evening gown sashaying through the decrepitude of what appears to be the long-abandoned Boston State Hospital (insane asylum) site, belting out obscenely reworded lounge standards ("Cocksucker, cocksucker, suck me a cock"). That single prolonged joke-- hilarious at moments but too often lame, if not pathetic-- constituted the length and breadth of the experience.

So today I'm doing my customary circumblogulation and I see chez one of my loves, Cynthia Rockwell's Boston+Film+Girl, that at a benefit at T.T.'s tomorrow night a "classic" of the Boston Underground Film Festival is being screened--Titler! Well, who knew? Not me, obviously. Clicking around a bit, I see Titler can actually be found on the web, in one corner of an extensive and undeniably imaginative (but to my taste excruciatingly over-wrought) site-- whose patently hyperchronologically-mitted authors occasion the present post's title. En route to Titler (granted, I didn't find the most direct path, which is this way) I ended up clicking through a virtual Mardi Gras of pages blending the surrealistic menace of The Ring's video-of-inevitable-doom, the anxiety-provoking split-screen attack of Kiefer Sutherland's 24, and the psychotic giggling nonsense of Terry Gilliam's animations for Monty Python.

Here are the names of the songs in Titler as given on the site.

: : 05. hello mom
: : 27. cocksucker
: : 09. pardon
: : 35. lesbian love
: : 17. fat gerl
: : 69. diane chutkowski
: : 31. i hate myself
: : 41. ! ada va diezshna da duzshnata !

The one called "i hate myself" resonated completely with me and evoked some admiration. The one called "fat gerl" quickly withered it. It's that kind of work. But as Lincoln is reputed to have said, those who like this sort of thing will find that this is the sort of thing they like. So you might wanna look at the site, just in case.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Well I've been up all night (again?)

Party time wasting is
too much fun.

Bart's 25th birthday. Got him the new André Codrescu novel, Wakefield, and Blood Siblings, a book of Coen bros. interviews. We're friends again. He's seeing a cool photographer, Galadriel (bestowing pseudonyms is fun), who's totally clever and presentable.

Bart's friends, almost flagrantly ordinary heterosexual couples (guys such total guys, girls girls), were a hoot nonetheless.

Some drunken drama. Damian's girlfriend, Phoebe, was loopily plastered and adorably flirty (she kissed me wetly & gorgeously). Bart's roommate, Peter, sort of slapped or patted her on her butt playfully and Peter's fiancée, Brenda, just completely lost it (How can he do that sort of thing when we're about to get married? I'm from a small town and I'm not used to stuff like that. . . .). It was like she found out Peter had just had sex with Phoebe in the next room. She wept in my arms for an hour or so. Then she lit into him and he --your standard stocky former frat guy in chinos and a hockey jersey-- started bawling fluently. I liked her tremendously and felt we completely bonded over the hugging and comforting but wished she could blunt her hair-trigger jealousy by a couple of orders of magnitude.

At seven o'clock, the only ones still conscious to face the day were Bart, Greta, and I. I had a craving for fried chicken (you have to understand, I'm mostly vegetarian these days, so that was weird). We went to the supermarket a couple of miles from our house. I dropped Greta and Bart at the door and then parked directly across the narrow deserted side-street from it, so I could easily see them come out.

Next, I opened my eyes, which I hadn't realized were closed, and I was in my car across from the supermarket. It was ten o'clock, sun high and bright, street bustling. What the fuck was I doing there? Oh, yeah. I had had a craving for chicken. Wait a minute. Hadn't I been with Greta and Bart? Had I dropped them off at our house before coming here? Where were they? I looked at my cell phone. A billion calls. Several messages, all from Greta, all saying some version of: Where are you? We're waiting for you! Where did you go? Are you OK? Please call or come back right away!

It turns out, when they came out of the supermarket, alcohol-hazy, chicken laden, they didn't notice the car parked directly across the street from them, about forty feet away, Mika unconscious at the wheel. After phoning a billion times and getting no response, and looking all over the parking lot next to the supermarket, they drunkenly trudged the two hilly miles to our house and passed out on the couch.

When I got there, Bart's cell phone was ringing. It was his new girlfriend. She had just awakened in Bart's bed and was aimlessly circumambulating a dismal post-partyscape in which, bizarrely, there were no people, sleeping or awake, anywhere to be found (despite the fact we'd left several vehemently unconscious partiers there but a few hours earlier). I drove him back to her, then went to hang out with my kids at my ex's. My ex was spending the day at the très intime Jack & Suzy show (a 400-million-dollar affair, in a couple of senses), to which, I suppose, I would have been invited, if we had still been married. Thank goodness for small mercies. I must admit to a sort of anthropological curiosity, though. They sure do seem different from you and me. Even if only, as Hemingway jibes, 'cause they've more money.

Greta slept all day. She woke about an hour ago, went into the kitchen, came out with some melatonin in hand and said she was going back to sleep.

So I step back thinking of life's inner meaning and my latest fling. It's the same old story--all love and glory.

Looking for love in a looking glass world.

Friday, April 23, 2004

2001 in a Flash

This is simply the fucking coolest Flash animation I've ever seen. (Thank you George Wallace!) It's a matter-of-fact reading in Flash of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Whoever did it had way too much time on his or her hands--but made unbelievably delightful use of it. I swear: my jaw locked in dropped position for the duration.

Optimum conditions for viewing:

  1. You know 2001 well
  2. All the lights are out
  3. You're totally stoned out of your mind

But even if you can't fulfill any of these conditions (sadly, I couldn't manage the last one), it's well worth your time to watch it anyway. Not only is the reading plausible and well thought through, but also the images are imaginative and beautifully rendered, and the whole thing exhibits a sharp sense of humor.
New (to me) scrumptious blog to follow

Andrea Seigel's This Afternoon in Drama

Her piece on tampon advertising is, uh, spot on.

via Nathalie
Banner day

In case it's gone by the time you read this:

(click image for full size)

OK, so maybe it's no whole sale body bags. Nevertheless, don't you like the the phrase "related searches: cedar point amusement park david hume"?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Date rape?

Police bust homeless man for necrophilia in Sunset funeral home

Ethan Fletcher
Staff Writer
Published on Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A man was arrested and charged with sexual assault on an elderly woman's corpse Saturday, according to police.

The act of necrophilia allegedly occurred sometime Friday night when 48-year-old Mahdi Allah slipped into the Hogan, Sullivan and Bianco funeral home at 1266 Ninth Ave.

A funeral home employee discovered Allah Saturday on top of the corpse with his pants around his ankles, passed out drunk, according to police spokesman Dewayne Tully. Allah, a former employee at the funeral home, allegedly used a key to let himself in sometime the previous night, went downstairs and removed the corpse from a storage freezer before placing it on the floor.

He is being charged with two counts of sexual assault upon a person who is unconscious or unaware and one count of burglary, according to Tully. The investigation is ongoing.

Just going through the motions

Naughty automata

via Boingboing
Michigan Preparing To Let Doctors Refuse To Treat Gays

Read all about it here. Via Atrios.

I hate Michigan. I spent the first twenty years of my life there.
Happy Birthday, Vlads

Nabokov and Lenin

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Awaiting new developments in narrative theory

Scott McLemee pasted this marvelous observation by Michael Bérubé in the commonplace book section of his abundant literary site (& blog), which I've just begun having fun rummaging around in:
The truth is that most of my life is spent in tasks so utterly mundane and banal that it would require new developments in narrative theory simply to try to relate them.

I've always enjoyed reading Michael's pieces on popular culture, the state of higher education, politics, whatever, in the Voice, Harper's, NYT Mag, PMLA, and it's a treat that he has so many of them posted (& that he has a blog).

Monday, April 19, 2004

Spalding Gray

One last bit from Crooked Timber, a link to an article in the Houston Press relating an extraordinarily painful story about Spalding Gray's having a sort of nightmarish dissociative episode on stage in Houston last year. I met him once after a benefit show in the Tunnel and spoke about inviting him to do a show at my school. He was absolutely open and cordial about the idea, giving me the phone number of his agency, and we chatted for about half an hour about random stuff. I lost the piece of paper with the number and never followed through. Reading about his suicide I had two responses I don't generally have when reading about other celebrities' suicides. First, his death hit me hard, like that of a casual acquaintance. Second, how many ways, subtle and glaring, am I an asshole?
Philosopher Action-Figures

We collect action figures in a desultory way. On display around our house at this moment: Norman Bates (in mom's dress, w/ chef's knife), Freud, Shakespeare, Trinity, Godzilla, Shoe Barbie, Talking Dr. Evil ("Where do I begin? My childhood was typical-- summers in Rangoon, luge lessons; in the Spring we'd make meat helmets"). You can imagine, therefore, how excited I was to find Philosophical Powers (via John Holbo at Crooked Timber), the site for philosopher action-figures (note hyperpedantic deployment of hyphen here and in title, but not in first sentence).

Some of my faves:

"Plunderous" Plato
With divided line accessory. Enemies progress from imagining to thinking to believing to knowing they're in trouble!

"Hurt 'em" Hume
With Constant Conjunction Karate Chop Action. Works every time you press the lever on his back, but you observe no causation!

Would have listed more, but the site just got blocked for hitting bandwidth limit. John also likes the Frege figure, "with both Morning Star® and Evening Star® accessories (only one accessory included).” Don't you love philosopher's in-jokes (e.g., Bububu, baby)? The site was inspired by its author's seeing an ad for an Adam Smith figure with, you guessed it, "invisible hand" action.

John also vouchsafes another joke that must knock 'em dead at the APA:
[C]an ‘carnal knowledge’ be adequately defined as ‘justified, true carnal belief’? Answer either as Dan Savage or Edmund Gettier.

I have a sort of ironic relation to jokes like that. I can't decide which is funnier-- the joke-an-sich, so to speak, or the idea of anyone's --my, for instance-- laughing at the joke-an-sich.
You will, Oscar Dept.

via Electrolite

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.” (Otto von Bismarck)

“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Anne Lamott)
Iraq: I was wrong but I was right anyway

Kieran at Crooked Timber links to Matt Yglesias's post predicting an onslaught of sua culpa pieces:
David Brooks offers the first of what I think will be many retrospective I was wrong but I was right anyway articles. The implication here is that though Bush may botch everything in Iraq, Brooks was nevertheless correct to have supported the war because he, after all, was not in favor of botching things.

One anticipates that other people -- Thomas F., or shall we call him T. Friedman -- will be offering similar theories soon.
This reminds Kieran of a remark by the late philosopher David Lewis, which I'd never heard before but will certainly remember:
You say you have a counterexample to my argument, but you must be misunderstanding me, because I did not intend for my argument to have any counterexamples.

Matt's post is worth quoting further:
The trouble, however, is this. When George W. Bush is president and is advocating a war and you, too, are advocating for war, then the fact of the matter is that you are advocating that the war be conducted by George W. Bush. That Bush would botch things was a perfectly predictable consequence of said support, based on -- among other things -- the fact that he'd botched everything else he'd ever done.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Should we stay or should we go?

I readily admit I don't swim as far out as many bloggers in the swells of Iraq analysis, but I do take a daily casual dip in the shallows. It suddenly struck me today as weird that I haven't seen any discussion of using the opportunity of our military occupation to organize and, along with sufficient legitimate U.N. observers, supervise a sweeping [isn't that the usual adjective?] Iraqi referendum just on the U.S. presence (nevermind the constitution of the Iraqi government). Of course, logistically a referendum would be difficult and expensive to pull together and conduct openly and fairly. But it's certainly not impossible. Would it really cost us more in the long run to hold soon a legitimate nationwide vote on our presence than to continue sluicing money into our military approach, in the dark about the will of the people? Sure, extremist parties might threaten to boycott the polls. But mightn't we come up with some sort of incentive to vote that would be difficult for non-extremists to turn down (vouchers for food or some govt benefit, plus a credible guarantee of voters' security and anonymity)? Then the world would have at least a version of a sense of the Iraqi people's voice. The question could be fairly simple and straightforward:
The United States military should either:
  1. pull out of Iraq completely as soon as possible by [June 30, or whatever]?
  2. continue its role in maintaining Iraqi security and inhibiting internecine violence until [some date arrives or condition is met] and then pull out

I was tempted to add a question about the form the Iraqi govt should ultimately take, but I think that a simple referendum on the desirability of our presence/assistance should be the first step.

Maybe this is pie-in-the-sky thinking.

I've never actually spent time thinking about a pie in the sky.
String 'em out

For a long time I've been meaning to post something on the search strings by which innocent readers are wafted onto the exuberant shores (originally wrote sores, perhaps shouldn't've corrected) of Mikarrhea. An entry on today's list of referrals finally drove me to it. Somebody typed into the Google in Singapore: cow erection semen. Why? we don't know. But here's a capture from the screen I got when I did:

Oh well. Regardless of the original reason, I suppose if I had typed that string and received that result, I would've clicked on Mikarrhea too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Using the Kalver training cow where?

I like to gaze every once and a while . . . ok, every morning . . . lovingly upon my inspirational and toothsome Richard Norris. Rereading his course description yet again for that old thrill, I noticed for the first time (well, I was distracted before) that the following choice sentence has a modifying clause misplaced so gratifyingly it's worth reviewing: Students will simulate the step-by-step procedures needed to non-surgically remove embryos from the uterus of a superovulated cow using the Kalver training cow.
Artificial Stupidity

Robots Seen As Companions for Elderly

...In one of a budding series of robot-therapy sessions at Japanese hospitals and senior citizens' homes, the elderly patients suffer from severe dementia, but their faces light up when they see the dog-shaped robot, swaddled in soft clothing, waddle around the hospital floor. Some clap; others break into feeble smiles.

...The patients with dementia at the hospital in Ohbu, central Japan, suffer from significant memory lapses. They can't remember their names, faces of family, everyday things such as the difference between food and dirt. Some are prone to wandering at night.

...Tamura also found that introducing a stuffed animal shaped like a dog got almost the same effect from patients.

But a stuffed animal can't be programmed to, for example, help an Alzheimer's patient remember the names of their visiting children. Neither, of course, can real animals.

...John Jordan, a principal at consulting company Cap Gemini who has studied how technology shapes human expectations, believes it's inevitable that robots will provoke in people the same strong feelings that video games, movies and cars elicit.

More of the story at Agenda Bender, who also offers some useful synomyms for "Your zipper is down."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Vicissitudes of history

Isn't this pretty much how the Arab Street sees us nowadays?

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Another crash on Mulholland Drive

I'm totally depressed.

My ibook crashed again. Same problem. Just won't boot. Fortunately, I can get into Mulholland Drive, at least, by using it as an external hard drive for one of our other computers. So I don't think I'm gonna lose anything, except patience, peace of mind, pastimes, pleasure, playfulness, and purpose.

and all my mirth.

Worse, my old reliable standby, the G4 powerbook I dropped on the floor ages ago, transforming it from lap- to desktop, is now starting to have bootup problems of its own. It actually refused to boot up for about half an hour, just now. Oh dear.

That leaves just Greta's powerbook. I hope they're not all coming down with a virus. . . .

Posting may be erratic until these problems are . . . rectified. (You may remember I have associations with that word.)

Friday, April 09, 2004

Smoked fish

I really like it. All kinds. Especially with hot mustard or tabasco sauce.
Always read limetree first

Even as I posted selections from Elvis Mitchell's sprightly execration of the new Dawn of the Dead a couple of days ago, I thought I should check Kasey's estimable lime tree first. He had mentioned teaching a course recently on zombies (or, I guess, representations of them), and it occurred to me he might be quick to post smart and interesting observations on the new film. My ADD butterfly, however, flitted enticingly past. I ended up posting before I checked. Oots. Sure enough: as I feared. If you took the time to read the bits of Elvis Mitchell's review I posted here (notable more for enthusiastically snide nastiness than for those verbal pyrotechnics of his I'd been lauding), then you might want to read Kasey's lucid and knowledgeable discussion of the same film.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The return of the repressed

Er, she's back. With some others.

I always kinda liked Troy. I hate Nick.

What a pathetic choice! Either run a Jessica Simpson concert or a golf tournament? Uh, can I shoot myself? At least I'd have a lot more enthusiasm for the project.
Onward Civilization Marches

I knew Japan's was a patriarchal society, but . . .

via erosblog

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Sidetracked by Celebrity Jeopardy

I was starting to tell a story that would eventuate in a rollicking discussion of this fabulous page devoted to musical modality, including some wonderful ancient and medieval theories of modality and also a catchy original composition called "The Phrygian Paraquat Dirge," when I got sidetracked by SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy. This is what I had written:
Greta and I were looking over the fabulous list of exotic "L"-words I linked to yesterday to provide those in need a definition for "lupanar." "L"-words is one of those
If you're familiar with SNL Celebrity Jeopardy, you'll probably see right away what my association was. I suddenly had the urge to link to Sean Connery picking "Swords" (which I copied from here):

Connery: Ah, I'll take Swords for $400.

Trebek: It’s, actually, not Swords, sir. These are words that begin with "S". The answer is: Popeye is this sort of man.

Reynolds rings in

Trebek: Burt Reynolds.

Reynolds: What is… Popeye?

Trebek: No.

Connery rings in

Trebek: Sean Connery, and remember, these are words that begin with the letter "S", not swords.

Connery: Saber.

Trebek: No.

Connery: It began with a bloody "S"!

Jerry Lewis rings in multiple times, laughing

Trebek: Mr. Lewis.

Lewis: I got the answer, Alex. You want the answers, it's simple. They're terrified of a perfectionist, they being the people who are running the studios this week. - time buzzer rings.

Trebek: I'm sorry, Mr. Lewis, time's up. "What is Sailor?" was the correct response. Tough start for everyone. All three celebrities are 800 dollars down.

Connery: The hell if I'm going to pay you a bloody 800 dollars!

Anyway, Greta and I proceded to waste more than hour rolling around, wailing, and crying exorbitantly while watching the entire Celebrity Jeopardy series, posted as rm files here.

Go there. Now. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll pee in your pants.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Do Be Cruel

I don't know if I've ever mentioned that my favorite film-reviewer is Elvis Mitchell of the Times (you may need to register --free-- to read Times stuff).

His writing pops and snaps and spins deliriously, always wise, wry, and deliciously surprising. Plus I almost always agree exactly with him. Plus he's dead gorgeous, as you see.

For about a year, I've been collecting files of some of my favorite reviews of his. What prompted this post, however, was reading his review of the new remake of Dawn of the Dead. I loved George Romero's original film and would teach it sometimes in American Studies courses. A chronicle of four people taking refuge from an Anacharsis Clootz procession (nurses, hara krishna people, mommies, policemen, businessmen, etc.) of American zombies in a shopping mall, eliminating the "savages" to make way for their "civilization" (and loving it, as Agent 86 used to say), the film invokes so many quintessentially American motifs (not least the interracial homosocial pair at the story's center whose prominence in American literature was chewed over delightedly by D. H. Lawrence and later Leslie Fiedler) and has such fun sending up the American mass media's reflexive disaster response.

Anyway, here's some of the fabulous Elvis on the latest Dead taken from the Times:
A Cautionary Tale for Those Dying to Shop

Correction Appended

The original 1978 horror splatter-comedy "Dawn of the Dead" had an idea that played like cast-iron satire: zombies invading a mall. The one good exchange from that film is repeated in Zack Snyder's single-minded scare-tactic remake: when someone asks why the zombies congregate there, the response is: "Memory, maybe. Instinct."

Otherwise, Mr. Snyder's blood feast is strictly by the numbers: this second-rater could be the world's most expensive Troma film. . . . [T]his is the first studio picture to exhibit the tacky Troma influence, which means —— something, like the end of shame in Western civilization, perhaps. However, since "Dawn of the Dead," which opens today nationwide, doubtless thinks of itself as a reimagining rather than a remake, the concept of shame was probably obliterated the moment the script got a green light from Universal.

"The Dead" — with apologies to James Joyce — notches its frights early, before the introduction of the, excuse the euphemism, characters. The first undead we see is a little girl with part of her face rotted away, who goes right for her dad's neck. The mother, Ana (Sarah Polley), barely escapes the house intact and drives away through an apocalyptic version of the dozy suburban tract neighborhood she had come home to the night before. The graphic point of zombielike conformity was made earlier with an overhead shot of the neighborhood.

. . . .

Milwaukee, the home of the bubbler, is transformed into the subdivision of the living dead. Ana runs into Kenneth (Ving Rhames), a uniformed cop, who makes her speak. It's one of the few ways to tell the zombies from the living — though with dialogue like this, who's better off?

. . . .

C. J.'s intolerance is evident early, when he calls Andre "Shaq." His ragtag minimum-wage squad is determined to keep the zombies out, especially once Ana figures out that the life-free scourge is spread from a zombie bite. Isn't it always funny that people in zombie movies have never seen zombie movies, so they have no information whatsoever?

. . . .

[W]e're left with a movie dependent on generating its small amount of sparks by setting an order in which to eliminate the annoying cast members. A scene in which weapons have to be liberated from a gun store so the group can carry out a plan to get to a marina and sail away to safety — don't ask — shows why zombie pictures aren't unsettling anymore. The flesh-eaters are picked off like video-game targets.

The eventual video game is bound to be a lot more fun — and less slowed down by bad dialogue — than this "Dead."

Mitchell often mocks the required end-of-the-review statement clarifying its MPAA rating. He's what he wrote, for instance, at the end of his Black Hawk Down review:

''Black Hawk Down'' is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for a barrage of violence, dismemberment and mayhem, and the usual accompanying panicked strong language.

Here's what he wrote for this one:

"Dawn of the Dead" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has scenes of limb slicing, blood spewing, flesh chomping and decapitation. Oh, yes, and strong language and sexuality.

The best part of the review, however, is probably not written by Mitchell at all. It's the following quotation that seems like an intentional caricature of the latest incarnation of the much-wrangled-over New York Times corrections policy (discussed with respect to columnists in this article, or here, if you can't easily load that one) as it leaps yodeling breezily off a cliff:

Correction: March 25, 2004, Thursday

A film review of "Dawn of the Dead" in Weekend on Friday misstated the relationship of one zombie to the heroine, Ana (Sarah Polley). That zombie, a little girl, is the child of a neighbor, not Ana's daughter.
Foxy Ladies

Earlier in the week, Mia had circulated a call to go out Saturday night to strip clubs in Providence (where, unlike in Massachusetts, you can legally have haptic relations (albeit highly ritualized ones) with professionals displaying their labia), so I skipped the final banquet of the Philly conference and flew home. Greta met me at the airport and we zoomed down to Providence, where, more or less feeling about in the dark, we stumbled upon a very nice restaurant, Z-bar, at which we realized we'd eaten a couple of years prior, on what may well have been our last Providential ecdysiast safari. It was the time, anyway, Greta borrowed a stripper's, um, costume (which, in accordence with The Universal Law of Sex Attire, took exponentially longer to don than doff) and shed it thoroughly during an amateur set garnering fifty-odd dollar-bills and the manager's instant offer of a full time position.

I don't know whether it's that we're polite or dress weird or exude pheromones or something but everybody is always astonishingly nice to us, even without our offering to shed clothes. We made great friends at Z-bar with the hostess and waitresses, who zippily supplanted Greta's medicinal orange-vodka "breakfast [sic (and sick)] martini" ("I forgot to tell you the bartender says nobody ever likes them") with a substantial Sapphire and gave us interestingly precise directions to the Foxy Lady.

When we got there, veteran strip club maven Sherman and enthusiastic disciples Mia, Desirée, and Eliza were already dollar-stuffing garters big time. It made me really happy that Mia said she liked being Mia in Mikarrhea. And Eliza lamented that she didn't yet have a blogonym, so after a few moments we came up with "Eliza," which Eliza said she'd always wanted to be called, so I promised then I'd call her Eliza in this sentence here, now.

I like the Smullyanesque tempero-referential unheimlichkeit of that sentence.

Speaking of unheimlichkeit and venues where flesh is sold and sex and smoke swirl you breathless: isn't it hilarious that Freud's whole theory of the "uncanny" germinated from his reaction to unintentionally finding himself three times in succession wandering among Viennese lupanars?

Oops! Vat am I doink in zhe prostitute district? Better make zis vay home. Achtung vher I'm goink! [zwanzig minuten später] Oops! Vat am I doink in zhe prostitute district again?! Must haf taken a wrong turn somevher. . . . Now vee goink shtraight home right away! Mach schnell!. . . . [zwanzig minuten später] Ach, du Lieber! Wiedermals! Again, zhe Vienna district for connecting up with zhe prostitutes[Die Wienerprostitutenanschlussbezirk!] Vat is zhis funny feelink I'm haffing? It's, ja, it's the uncanny!

The big difference I noticed in the couple of years since I've been in a strip club is the unremarkable inclusion of female customers, both those "escorted" by males and those not. (What a wonderful word, escorted! It's very insistence on platonism doomed it to an ineluctable tarring with sexual meaning by onrushing language's ironic swipers.) In the admission line behind us (a line otherwise, I concede, sequencing forty-or-so testosterone-twitchy butt-pocketed wallets) there was a pair of conventional (i.e., plainly presenting neither as obvious sexworkers, nor lesbians, nor sex-scene-makers) young women in bland jeans, sweatshirts, and long straight hair, looking like they might as well be queued for the late show of the remake (whose idiotic idea was that?) of Walking Tall, starring the Rock (who on SNL once looked really cute--and, well, almost passable in a Cory Eversonish way--decked out in drag doing a skit with Drunk Girl). I'm not saying they weren't lesbians or sexworkers or whatever, just that they weren't presenting themselves that way, and that fact was taken totally in stride.

In the "old" days, take it from veteran strip-club maven Mika, the customary demeanor of the one or two female customers --always accompanied by a male-- in a crowded strip club was a visibly game performance of polite interest, edgy raciness, and the desire to show willingness to dutifully accompany her guy into the very bowels of masculinity. That's a figure of speech, of course, not a euphemism for fisting, a propensity for which neither dyad member would ever be advertising. Performers either ignored the female partner, assuming a lack of real attraction, or offered her a few perfunctory spread-legged genuflections in the interest of feminism, before venturing on with erotic fires ablaze again before the penis-obliged wallet perched woozily on the stool next door. Female customers would never ask for, let alone receive, lap dances.

A few years ago, when we would go to the strip clubs somewhat regularly with Sherman, the situation had changed markedly. Some performers would perform enthusiastically for women, some wouldn't. Some would gladly give you lap dances, many would decline and look at you with the offended superciliousness of mainstream homophobia.

But last Saturday at the Foxy Lady, women totally ruled! Not a single performer in any way stinted any of the women in our gang. On the contrary, the women got boobs rubbed all over their faces, faces in crotches biting the insides of their thighs, clitorises rubbed on the backs of their necks, totally wild pitches at arousal--and the guys mostly got the standard ritual face rub between boobs. The women on stage and the women in the audience were totally bonding around real (ok, controlled, but much more real than the men's) sex!

As we left, our scantily clad waitress, who was gorgeous, said to Greta, "I don't usually do this, but I wanted to give you this." And gave her her phone number. Her name is Sarah.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Error message

My friend James from Omaha sent the following instructions, which return a clever result:
Go to google.com, type weapons of mass destruction and click feeling lucky and check out the error message which appears.
Everything's fine

Greta picked me up at the airport & we went to a strip club in Providence. More on that later.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Airport Hilton

Here I am in my room at the Philadelphia Airport Hilton, a bit overhung. Since Thursday I've been attending the annual convention of the International Foundation for Gender Education. This is the fourth hotel room I've occupied in two weeks-- Wyndham Orlando, Sugarloaf Grand Summit, Millennium Bostonian, and Airport Hilton. And this is the only one with unencumbered high speed internet access.

Why did I stay at the Bostonian, when I live in Boston? Greta & I went to see David Bowie on Tuesday; afterwards we hiked to the Bostonian bar for a drink. They have really spectacular martinis. I mean really spectacular. It's hard to make what is, after all, merely a glass of cold gin really spectacular, but trust me, they've got it down. After a couple of them, staying at the hotel seemed much more appealing than trudging back to the car.

Bowie's penis (an article in which I take some interest) was still in evidence, I can report, having studied his jeans carefully through my binoculars.

Greta & I were even more desperately over-in-love (isn't that a phrase from somewhere? noel coward?) than usual in recent days. Marissa was visiting Greta while I was away with the kids last weekend, and the night after I got back we stayed up all night making out with her. She is one of the world's greatest kissers. It's like you're strolling casually along a tropical beach, letting warm waves wash over your toes, when suddenly a rogue wave big as a house overwhelms you and rips you far out to sea.

We took her to the bus station in the morning and basically started having sex in the car on the way home. When we got there, we put on a porn dvd and were deliriously drowning in each other for what seemed like a year. I had these weird extended orgasms or chains of orgasms or something that kept exploding on and on and felt like the universe had turned completely inside out several times like a windsock in a cyclone.

We didn't want to stop touching each other for the next two days. My first night here, Greta left ten messages on my cell phone, saying how much she loved and missed me. We talked into early hours of the morning. She said she'd try to get a flight here the next morning.

I didn't hear from her the next day. I figured she probably had a hangover and slept all day. After my sessions were over I called her cell. She was at an art opening with the lovely Bart, whom, you may remember, she had sex with not too long ago. I called her later and they were at a restaurant. I was drunk and unhappy. She said she'd call me when she got home. She didn't call. She may well not have made it home. I really do hope they didn't have sex again. I used to like him fine until he started having this big crush on her.

Now she's calling.

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