Sunday, August 05, 2007

Biweekly Sidebar Update!

Yes, a mere two weeks after my last Sidebar Update, here's another one! Try not to be shocked, those few of you still out there! (Sigh... I remember a short time ago, when a sizable amount of people actually read and left comments on this blog. I suspect it's all the posts about my little trips here and there that have scared the visitors away. Or my self-pity. But I digress.)

The new Object of My Affection is Marg Helgenberger, who has been professionally hot for a good two decades now. She first came to my attention on the great late '80s/early '90s Vietnam drama, China Beach (which is also what brought former OoMA Dana Delany to my notice). Now, of course, she is on C.S.I., which is entering its 40th season, I believe. She's one of that select group of women who grow even sexier with age. (Such as Holly Hunter, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Katey Sagal, as I recently pointed out.) Whether that's a genetic blessing, or a miracle-working plastic surgeon -- I don't wanna know. Don't spoil it for me with your cattiness. And that picture of Marg over on the Sidebar may very well be the hottest picture of anything ever.

I'm still on the Vonnegut reading kick; I'm up to my tenth book, Mother Night, a novel about an American spy in WWII whose undercover role as a Nazi propagandist destroys his life, and in which Kurt drops this bit of wisdom: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." This, by the way, is one of the 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will, as itemized by the Onion's AV Club. They're right, and Vonnegut was right, too.

In non-Vonnegut reading, I recently finished John Moore's A Fate Worse Than Dragons. Moore specializes in humorous fantasy, which nobody else seems to be doing these days, ever since Terry Pratchett cornered the market. His works are light, and can be a bit repetitive, but they're delightfully funny, a throwback to the '80s, when Robert Asprin and Craig Shaw Gardner and the like packed the shelves with parodic fantasy.

Before that, I read Lennie Lower's Here's Luck, which I loved. Published in 1930, it is still considered by many the funniest Australian novel ever written. For a Wodehouse fan like me (Bully, you might want to take note), many of the book's charms lay in its familiarity; it's packed with ambitionless ne'er-do-wells who drink and scheme and bet on horses and get engaged at the drop of a hat. It's got exclamations such as, "Balm of Gilead!" It's peppered with religious quotes such as, "Truly, man that is born of woman hath but a short time to live and is full of sorrow." It's got craftily twisted logic such as:

True, politeness costs nothing, but then, taking into account the laws of supply and demand, anything so plentiful as to be given away without cost must naturally be common; or, to use another word, vulgar. I abhor vulgarity.
It's a bit rougher around the edges than Wodehouse's works; its scamps are a bit less lovable, and a bit more genuinely destructive. But they're no less funny, and this is a wonderful book. Sadly, Lower didn't produce a hundred others, like Wodehouse; this was his one and only novel.

And I'm currently reading Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman, a semi-serious take on a world filled with superheroes and supervillains. It's very enjoyable, when I'm not clenching my fists in frustration and shouting, "I should have written this first!!"

Watching: Howard Hawks' classic Western, Rio Bravo, which I mentioned the other day, and will mention again soon. I've watched it three times in the past three days, once for its commentary from John Carpenter (whose Assault on Precinct 13 was inspired by it) and twice just for the pure entertainment of it. Love this movie.

Listening: I've actually bought several albums over the past few weeks, which is unusual for me, these days. I'll save them to parcel out one at a time on the Sidebar, in preparation for the CD drought sure to follow. This week: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Are a Drag. A few months back, I wrote about my joy over the latest Me First album, Love Their Country, which was all punk covers of classic country tunes. This earlier album is all punk covers of show tunes. Highlights include the opening track, The Wizard of Oz's "Over the Rainbow;" "Favorite Things," from The Sound of Music; The Muppet Movie's "Rainbow Connection;" and of course "Science Fiction/Double Feature," from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Great, great fun.

The Hating and/or Loving feature on the Sidebar has been preoccupied a bit much with baseball over the past few months. If I'm not showing love for the Dodgers, I'm hating Barry Bonds. Well, both of those things can be assumed as givens, so let's go with something completely different: football. And Michael Vick, the sick bastard who thought it was a good idea to sponsor a dogfighting ring. A dogfighting ring! What kind of a twisted fuck do you have to be, that torturing dogs into a vicious frenzy so that they maim and kill one another is your idea of a spectator sport, your version of a gambling weekend in Vegas? Here's another thing Kurt Vonnegut said (I'm paraphrasing, perhaps poorly, because I can't find the original quote, which I'm pretty sure was in Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, unless I'm just making it up): "I like dogs better than I like people." That sentiment has always stuck with me as an eminently sensible position to take, and Michael Vick is a good reason why.

I may have taken the Dodgers off the Sidebar, but the Bonus Dodgers-style OoMA remains: this time, it's Sarah Silverman sporting Dodger Blue. Bless her filthy, filthy little heart.

And Lyric of the Month or Week or Whatever is from Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." Just because I heard it again recently, and that line really struck me as nifty.

And that'll do it for what I thought was going to be a quick update, and which has turned into an epic-length ramblefest instead. You're welcome.

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