Monday, June 25, 2007

Monthly Sidebar Update

This month's Object of My Affection is Anna Faris, a little cutie who has a grin I might go so far as to call "impish." Yes, I might! In fact, I will! I do! Impish, it is! She's a very charming performer, but she seems to alternate between interesting work in great movies (May, Lost in Translation, Brokeback Mountain) and making a quick buck in hacky crap (the Scary Movie series, The Hot Chick, Just Friends). I hope she gets a shot at more high quality films in the future; I think she has the potential to really deliver with A-list material.

The Kurt Vonnegut Project is rolling along like crazy. Since my last Sidebar Update, less than a month ago, I've finished Galápagos, Cat's Cradle, Player Piano, and Breakfast of Champions, and I've begun Hocus Pocus. I can't tell you how much I've fallen in love with Vonnegut's oeuvre all over again, and how invigorating it is for me to be reading a greater quantity, and quality, of books than I have since probably during, and the first few years after, college.

I feel a nagging urge that I should be writing a review of every one of his books I finish here, and maybe I will at some point, but this is a more personal project for me. I wanted to reacquaint myself with a writer and a thinker who was more important and more influential to me than any person I never actually met in my life (and hell, most everyone I have met).

Just a few quick notes:

--I forgot that Vonnegut's books are as interconnected as those of, say, Stephen King -- most of his novels (at least, the ones I've reread so far) refer back to an earlier character (usually Eliot Rosewater or Kilgore Trout), or setting, or event.

--I find it interesting that Vonnegut's first novel, Player Piano, about the menace of rampant industrialization, defends the intelligence and dignity of the common man, while much of the rest of his body of work tends to refute the intelligence and dignity of the common man.

--I found Breakfast of Champions at times uncomfortable, even difficult to read, due to Vonnegut's all too frequent and casual use of the N-word. I don't believe Vonnegut was a racist; I know (or I believe that I know) that his use of that epithet was to underscore the vast inequalities and barriers between classes and races in America. And I think the era in which the book was published has something to do with the casualness of the word's usage; in the 1970s, a white man using the N-word for a punchline was so common it wouldn't raise an eyebrow (see Blazing Saddles, The Jerk, Kentucky Fried Movie, etc., etc.). Still -- it's a little discomfiting to read in this day and age.

--Aside from that complaint, Breakfast of Champions is so brilliant, so breathtakingly original, it boggles my mind.

--Cat's Cradle is even better. In fact, I would probably say it's the best book I've ever read.

--Vonnegut really likes destroying the world.

Watching (and Hating, and Loving): Dodgers baseball. I've been watching more baseball this year than in about the past five years combined. (And coming to appreciate Vin Scully even more as the true genius he is. He's like a master magician; he makes the incredibly complicated look so darn easy.) It's been tremendously exciting at times, and at times tremendously frustrating. As usual. The Boys in Blue are fielding a better team than they have in ages, it seems (though the absence of closer extraordinaire Eric Gagne, now with the Rangers, pains me greatly), but they're still not breaking out of the pack they way they could, and should. They've been in a virtual tie for first with Arizona and San Francisco Diego for weeks now. Which makes for thrilling viewing -- as long as L.A. comes out on top in the end. Which recent experience (as in, nearly the past two decades) tells me will not happen. Well, that's what being a fan is all about: rooting for your home team, even while you're simultaneously screaming at the TV, "STUPID DODGERS!!!"

Bonus OoMA: while doing some random Googling (it wasn't even for the Dodgers!), I discovered that Alyssa Milano maintains a Dodgers-devoted blog, called *touch* 'em all. That is hot. And she is way more into the Dodgers than I am. Way more. That is super hot. Of course, that's probably partly because she's dated some of the players, which would naturally make her closer to the game than I could ever get. (I mean, hey, I could date a ballplayer, if I wanted to... ah, who am I kidding -- even if I wanted to, they're out of my league.) Check out that picture of her in Dodgers gear. That is HOTTT, with all caps, three Ts, and an invisible Q.

I've got nothing for Listening this time out, since I haven't bought any new music in the past month. But if I were going to list something, it would be Fountains of Wayne's new album, Traffic and Weather, which I keep meaning to buy, but never do. The Lyric of the Month comes from the lead single from that album, "Someone To Love," and I leave you with the video for that song, featuring alterna-comic Demetri Martin.

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