Posts Tagged ‘kurt vonnegut’

Teevee Time: the Brady Bunch — Sobbing

July 2, 2011


via.

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion…I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”

(Kurt Vonnegut.)

Vonnegut month: The meaning of life

February 12, 2011


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The moral of the story is, we’re here on Earth to fart around.

(“David Barrancio Interview With Kurt Vonnegut”, NOW, PBS. Original airdate: October 7, 2005.)

This gets misquoted a lot as, “We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anyone tell you different,” but the gist is the same.

Vonnegut Month: The people on the edge

February 8, 2011


Nous allons a la lune! via.

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

“Big, undreamed-of things — the people on the edge see them first.”

(Player Piano. Scribner, 1952.)

I think this is more important now than I ever have before. I stayed comfortable in the past, I kept nervously to the middle and tried not to draw attention to myself even though I found it unfulfilling and dissatisfactory, purely because the idea of doing anything else and letting the real me out seemed far too iffy.


via.

And now I have been galvanized in to action, in to pursuing the things I want, and I can’t believe I ever kept away from the edge, kept myself boxed-in and low-key and up-and-up. I don’t regret the time I spent hiding and gathering courage to myself, because that’s no use, and I don’t disdain myself for my fears or insecurities, nor anyone else for feeling like they are not able to be a jumper just yet, but I’m just so glad I’ve begun.

Vonnegut Month: A sensational invitation

February 7, 2011


via.

She was a dull person, but a sensational invitation to make babies.

(Slaughterhouse-Five. 1969.)

Is that often the case? I’ve been trying to get to know dull people more, because I did this thing when I was younger where I participated in cheer and rushed a sorority and I discovered that all those people that I’d a), reverse discriminated against by assuming they thought they were too good for me; therefore, I considered myself the superior one and assured our mutual alienation and b), speculated must be completely empty-minded automatons programmed to do nothing but stroll down the street saying, “Where you at?” on their cell phones like cockroaches who keep living despite having lost their heads, were at any rate just as real and authentic as me, and during this time of social expansion I found that I was the guilty snobbish one, and they each had their own personal memories and dreams and private tragedies. This probably seems overwhelmingly evident to you but it was brand-new shit to me: I’d always assumed that those type of people were just dull sheep. I’ve found myself slipping back in to that sort of deliberate ignorance of slick or facile-seeming people, and I’ve been trying to fight this bullshit reverse-elitism by purposely starting conversations with waitresses with bump-its and guys in leather car coats at the bank. I encourage you to give it a whirl, too. … Especially the waitresses.

Vonnegut month: Welcome to Earth and ramblings about kids

February 6, 2011


via.

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

(God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. p. 129.)

Everybody’s always preaching on about what the world is coming to and how everything’s changed and children aren’t being raised right anymore, and perhaps that’s so in more cases than it used to be, but, when I am with my kidlet and her friends or I’m in the classroom teaching and interacting with children, I don’t generally find these bell-ringing end-of-days declamations of “oh-kids-these-days!” too be true at all.

If “kids” seem as a group to behave in a way that runs counter to previous societal standards, that is not reflective of their motivations, but of their parents’ lack. If they act out in a way they did not do twenty years ago, it’s because they’re being allowed to be fed bullshit from the television and other media by people too lazy to lift a finger to defend their minds from rot.

Children are still people, and as long as we continue to try to teach them to be compassionate and to love, they will have the same things in common with the people of history (who were never any of them that great to begin with, don’t be fooled) that every other generation has done: love, sex, passion, greed, honor, and the whole scope of personal emotions. Kids cannot be cut off from the birthright that is human feelings by technology — only we, and our attitudes, can cut them off from that.

Vonnegut month and Movie Millisecond: Only in superstition is there hope

February 5, 2011


Land of Silence and Darkness (Werner Herzog, 1971), via.

We would be a lot safer if the Government would take its money out of science and put it into astrology and the reading of palms. Only in superstition is there hope. If you want to become a friend of civilization, then become an enemy of the truth and a fanatic for harmless balderdash.

(Kurt Vonnegut, Graduation Address to Bennington College. 1970)

Vonnegut month — Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: The future ain’t what it used to be

February 2, 2011

Art by Kurt Vonnegut.

Vonnegut month: Inaugural edition featuring pharmaceuticals

February 1, 2011

You are all like, “It is nice what you do and all, E, but why haven’t you had a Vonnegut month yet?” and I am all like, “I was planning to have this month be exactly that,” and you are all like, “It’s about time,” and you know what? When you start a blog, I will have nothing but kind, nourishing, supportive things to say about it. Because that’s how it should be. Snap.

Anyway.


via.

“I’m not a drug salesman. I’m a writer.”

“What makes you think a writer isn’t a drug salesman?”

(Cat’s Cradle.)

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. Nous allons a la lune!

edit: When I went to make sure I had my french phrasing and spelling right, I googled “nous allons a la lune” and the only links that returned the exact phrase were all my own shit. So I’m thinking no. It’s a shame, because I say that a lot. Little help?

Flashback Friday: New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2010

This post originally appeared, arranged differently, on December 31, 2009 at 10:35 a.m.



Lot’s Wife, 1989. David Wander.

As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: “Flee for your life! Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.”

The Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah (from the Lord out of heaven). He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:17-23, 26.

It’s good to learn lessons from the past, it’s wise not to pretend it never happened, but I am concerned that too much auld lang syne will fuck your world apart, you know what I mean? So take it easy on yourself with the nostalgia today. I am going to try.

All you can do, all you can ever do, is keep going forward.

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Textual healing, “chin up” edition

October 28, 2010


From the 1983 African documentary by Jans Rautenbach, not the Elke Sommers movie about the prostitute who tries to go straight but her madam won’t let her (1985).

It’s probably not physically possible, even. It might seem like it is, but it’s not. I’ve been a blubbery bitch from time to time recently myself as October is hitting me hard this year in fresh, worse ways than last, but, as I have checked myself out and I’m not one of those people who weep diamond tears, I’m going to try to get my chin up and knock it the fuck off. Being happy is a choice.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

(Vonnegut.)

Daily Batman: Laughter and tears, frustration and exhaustion

September 29, 2010


Photographed by Nicolas Silberfaden.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

(Kurt Vonnegut.)

Shared the Batgirl photograph in this series in July and thought it was a goodly time for the Catwoman shot. I had a little bit of a weepy day, just kind of processing recent events which I’ve of course been dodging because it involves difficult introspection about Big Shit vis-a-vis life and death. But my chin’s back up and I look forward to a lot of laughter tomorrow as the Cappy comes in to town on a use-it-or-lose-it leave for a Very Special Episode of “How E. Got Her Groove Back.”

Special thanks again to Gordon Fraser for the heads-up on the article from which the pictures come.

Daily Batman: Ladies and Gentlemen

April 22, 2010


“All women are psychotic. All men are jerks.”

(Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake.)

Weekend warrior friendohs, and a brief bookfoolery follow-up edition

February 22, 2010


Gorgeous George and Corinnette on our way to find undiscovered country.

Had a great weekend up in the great white woods with the fabulous friendohs, other than the kidlet being wretchedly sick; if she dies of double-pneumonia-screaming-meemies-and-bad-hair (very common and tragic disease) it is sure to be my fault for falling prey to her “I’ll be fine, Mommy, please please please let me go to the snow!” baloney sauce and not just keeping her home like I ought to have. The only component missing that would’ve made the weekend even more perfect were Paolo and Miss D, who’d sadly decided, with greater wisdom than the kidlet and me, to stay home so Paolo did not compound his cold. We are hoping to do a follow-up trip in the Spring and I can’t wait for them to come along and appear in my annoyingly copious pictures (my friends are kindly tolerant of my photographic shenanigans, but I’m very lucky they’ve never seized the camera and thrown it off a cliff).


Did You Know? This beautiful child is actually a festering harbinger of plague and germs that can singlehandedly fell a houseful of hale and hearty adults in Just Two Days. “Think I’m cute, do you? Enjoy the bronchitis, suckaaaas!”

Poor Corinnette, who rode with me and Gorgeous George and the kidlet, was probably sick to death by Sunday night of Elvis, which we bumped in the car nearly the whole weekend, partly because we’re both huge fans and partly because Gorgeous George was the driver which left me as the passenger with way too much time to look over cliffs and dread death at the hands of unknown reckless drivers (I trust Geo implicitly: it is those loose cannon other sons-of-bitches that I fear will careen around a corner and cost me my child’s life), so we played tunes that I could stare out the window and sing “Little Sister” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” along to, giving me something familiar to focus on rather than hairpin turns and speeding Subarus.


Elvis Presley and Sophia Loren clowning around. I am telling you this because though talented they are virtually complete unknowns of whom you have probably never heard.

At one point along Highway 140, when we were on a straightaway and I was feeling less Nervous Nellie —had my eyes open and everything! just like a big girl!— I remarked to Geo, “Elvis Presley really was a great performer. It’s too bad he wasn’t more popular,” which we thought was hysterical.

Gorgeous George’s wonderful parents were as wonderful as they always are, and Saturday night, after playing word games and bullshitting over beers and barbeque for a few hours, Pam-tastic and Senior (Geo’s folks) screened this nothing-less-than-cool-as-shit movie for us about the early career of Shirley Muldowney that seriously revved me up.


Still from Heart Like A Wheel (Jonathan Kaplan, 1983), starring Bonnie Bedelia and Beau Bridges as Shirley Muldowney and Connie Kalitta. Anthony Edwards (pictured) plays her grown son, who is on her pit crew. It’s a really great, great movie. I sat next to Pam-tastic, who had posters of Shirley all over the den we were watching the movie in, and she filled me in on extra details while we watched. Amazing experience. They’re so great.

Shirley Muldowney was the first NHRA female champion drag racer; her struggle was totally engrossing, and a story I’d never even heard of, which I love finding out about all new shit when it comes to deeply detailed sports, and for it to be a lady driving fast on top of it just sealed the deal. I am going to try to find more screencaps and factoids to share more about her in the coming days. Pam and George even know her. They are rad. Kick ass, I’m serious. Best in the West!


Lo-Bo and the Gentleman when we’d finally stopped trekking past protected meadows (normally I’m all in favor of those but cheese-and-rice, I had a sick kid and it was really coming down; it was a great relief to stop walking). They are watching Corinnette gather the materials needed to demolish the Great Dane’s mini-snowman. All respect due to Niels and his snowman, I need to say that for being built by an engineer, that thing sure went down like a bitch.

As a follow-up to my last entry before leaving town, on the bookfoolery front: I took neither Vonnegut short stories in the wake of Jonohs’s novel-loans nor Panda’s much-maligned copy of Oates’ Zombie up with me to read while on our weekend Yosemite retreat. (Although I did let kidlet bring her comic book, and I did not at any point attempt to swipe it: I can be taught!)


l to r: Corinnette, the Great Dane, and Michelle-my-belle at the lea, watching Gorgeous George destroy the snowman.

I realized the only logical choice to take for a trip to the snowy woods with friends was a book about a trip to the snowy woods with friends: Dreamcatcher, by Stephen King. It was perfect to sink in to bed at night and re-live the highs and lows of that admirable group of old friends after spending the day having so much fun with my own.

I really dearly love every one of the four lead characters in Dreamcatcher and will happily tell you all about why I think they are some of the best and most shining examples of King’s already-wonderful pantheon of character creations if we are ever stuck on a tarmac at the end of a runway while they repeatedly de-ice our plane; lord, how a real estate secretary from Miami wishes this were just a random example of a situation and not pulled directly from my real life.


Jonesy and the Beav (Damian Lewis and Jason Lee) attempt to hail a helicopter in Dreamcatcher (Lawrence Kasdan, 2003). This movie is jam-crack-packed with hot men bein’ hot. And nice and brave and heroic. Great book, great flick.

Anyway, snow and friends in the novel. Snow and friends in my life. Synchronicity. Except we did not encounter aliens. That I remember. Moving along, the free time I have today while watching my little sicklet means I have almost no choice but to pass the time between making her food and giving her cold medicine by finally crack-a-lacking on posting up the undone Valentine Vixens. Come sail with me. HMS Sexytimes, ahoy!

All-night bookfoolery once again, or, “Vonnegut, be-gone-agut.”

February 20, 2010

So because, as I mentioned, I’ve been sick, that means I have been sleeping a lot during the day and furthermore taking weird cold medicines, and consequently have had some strange, sleepless nights this week. Jonohs is moving away soon, a fact which I’m frankly pretty distressed about, but its up side is that it forced me to finish up under the gun all the books I’d borrowed from him over the months of our friendship. I’d managed to return some here and there but I still owed back two Vonnegut novels. After finishing up the book I was already in the middle of (First Among Sequels, by Jasper Fforde), I read God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater somewhere in the wee small hours of this morning, and, staring at the clock and feeling feverish but wired once I’d finished, I decided to crack in to Mother Night.

The crew is headed to Yosemite this weekend and I thought it’d be nice to already be mid-book when I settle my brains for tonight’s winter’s nap. I don’t dislike starting a new book under any circumstances, but I do prefer to begin a serious literary undertaking from the comfort of my own bed as I find familiar and unobtrusive conditions to be the most ideal for minimal distractions and maximal speed of absorption.

But, typically, I fell down in to the guts of it and forgot I had only meant to get a good bit in and then stop. Kurt Vonnegut has done that to me many a time — I’m really glad Jonohs got me on his novels but I do miss my phase of reading his short stories because time was so much better measurable — although once I did nearly forget to get off my bus when I was reading “Harrison Bergeron” for the first time.

Long story short (short story long?), I wound down Mother Night just before sunrise, closed it, dropped it on the floor (sorry for admitting to sort of abusing your book, Jonohs; the floor is carpeted), and lay on my back drumming on my own abdomen for around fifteen minutes weighing my options. I was feeling logey-headed-toward-tired, and I noticed when I blinked I was weirdly sandy in the eyes, but it was too near waking-up time to take anything to help me sleep.

I thought, why not start Zombie, by Joyce Carol Oates, which Panda had loaned me about six months ago after her pronouncements of its disgusting loathsomeness piqued my interest (I love a freakshow but I hate violence against kids —I once unceremoniously threw a book away* when it opened with the brutal and needless murder of a child— so we’ll see how far I get in it; I am not predicting too far). However, I remembered it was in the garage, and that seemed like a long way to walk, plus I’m not sure it’s a good thing to be mid-read in for tonight when I’ll be wanting something light and put-down-able with the friendohs, so instead I snuck over to my kidlet’s side of the room and swiped her Super Friends comic.

Bad decision. She woke up to find me reading it and became indignant at what she saw as trespass on her side of the room. She sat on her bed with her hands on her hips (we sleep in twin beds separated by a night stand like a couple in a 50s sitcom or as if we are Jan and Marcia Brady — three guesses which of is which in that metahpor) and began chastising me for not asking before I borrowed her comic book. Something about how self-righteous her posture was coupled with the fact that she was clearly parroting some now-forgotten lecture which I must have given her in the past about “being respectful of others’ property” made me spontaneously throw a balled-up kleenex at her face, so we had a little pillowfight and then shuffled off to the kitchen to scare up breakfast.

I know, right? Stellar parent, amazing intellectual, and super-put-together adult, thoughtful and never-perverse journalist — people often ask me, how do I do it? To them I say, “I drink?”

*I do not remember the title but the book was by Iris Johansen, who I roundly encourage you to boycott. Not only because her fucking piece of shit novel opened with the murder of a child (sorry for the king-size cusses but she really pissed me off), but also because she was on thin ice with me already due to her overuse of synonyms for said — such a hack hallmark — especially “grimaced,” in my prior experiences with her “work.” People grimaced at each other left and right in the few books I read by her. “He grimaced.” “She grimaced.” UGH. First of all, using anything other than “cried,” “asked,” “replied,” or, on very isolated occasions and with great restraint, “sighed,” as a signifier for said is cheap amateur hour bullshit. It breaks up the narrative flow and smacks of junior high purple prose. Second, people do not go around grimacing their words. So it was not only redundant and unimaginative, but also basically not even picturable. And topping that previous bad impression by graphically killing a kid in her this-is-your-last-chance-with-me-bitch novel? Fuck her. I threw it away and I’d do it again; I’m sorry if that horrifies you, but I didn’t want anyone else to read it either. Some shit is trash.

Valentine Vixen: Barbara Ann Lawford, Miss February 1961

February 4, 2010

Miss February 1961 was the lovely and talented Barbara Ann Lawford. This shoot (with a few exceptions) has not got much of a story but it does have a really crisp, consistent feel to it, with some great colors and a stark simplicity that dovetails nicely with Ms. Lawford’s clear, elegant Black Irish features.


Photographed by Mario Casilli.

The textures of the garments in the pictures are really, really clear — look at the weave on that sweater — and their kind of warm nubbiness makes a nice constrast to the simple lines and cool, white-and-beige color scheme of the shoot. The red of her lips also stands in contrast to the ambient colors and light in the pictures, contributing to the overall unity of effect. Also, there are breasts.


TURN-ONS: Dogs, hot fudge sundaes.
TURNOFFS: People who judge without knowing.

(Playmate data sheet)

One of the features in this issue of Playboy was a short story titled “Come On Out, Daddy,” written by Bernard Wolfe. Wolfe was quite an interesting guy — he was a war correspondent for several science magazines, a Merchant Marine, and the personal secretary/bodyguard to Leon Trotsky during his time in Mexico. A prolific writer, he covered both fiction and non-fiction topics, and collaborated with jazz legend Milton Mesirow on Mesirow’s autobiography Really the Blues. Like a real-life version of Kurt Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout,* Wolfe was best known for his reams of genre-busting speculative fiction.

His most famous and significant contribution to the literary world is his science-fiction novel Limbo (1952). Set in the 1990’s, Wolfe’s novel is the first book to describe a dystopian futureworld where cybernetics mean that humans and machines not only interact, but are symbiotic, with the limbless having robotic enhanced prosthetics, the aim being the creation of a superior hybrid species which would be overlords to the unenhanced.


This is my favorite picture from the shoot.

Pretty next-level shit for 1952, eh? Penguin Books wrote on the jacket of Limbo’s reprint in 1961 that it was “the first book of science-fiction to project the present-day concept of ‘cybernetics’ to its logical conclusion.” According to the wiki,

Wolfe added heavy doses of Reichian sexual psychology, Trotskyite sociology, and Conradian literary themes like exile and primativism. Thus, Limbo is an early example of the New Wave movement in science fiction.


Of recent years there have been some signs of a raise of interest in Wolfe who is now being read as a precursor of cyberpunk. The dustwrapper to the U.S. first edition promised the reader that Limbo was “a novel of action, suspense, adventure, science fiction, and sex.” For once this description does not overstate the case. [Limbo] includes with intself among other genres the novel of espionage, journal, dystopia, and narrative of scientific experiment. It covers an extraordinary range of texts from ribald jokes up to summaries of brainmapping and the origins of game theory.

(Seed, David. “Deconstructing the Body Politic in Bernard Wolfe’s Limbo.” Science Fiction Studies 24.2 (July 1997): 267-288.)


Am I crazy or is that all-covered-up cover model the ONLY lovely and NOT talented little looker Joni Mattis, Hef’s special lady and social secretary for Mansion West who is infamous in the Empire for not baring all in her November 1960 gatefold appearance?

Besides appearing as the gatefold model in February of 1961, Barby Lawford returned to cover model for September of the same year. I’m not sure if she did more modeling work after that or not: so far I am coming up goose eggs on my “what is she doing now” searches. I will come back and edit if I find out!




*The real Kilgore Trout was named Theodore Sturgeon, and he died in 1985; I know that. I am just sayin’.

New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2009


All you can do, all you can ever do, is keep going forward.


Lot’s Wife, 1989. David Wander.

As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: “Flee for your life! Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.”

The Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah (from the Lord out of heaven). He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:17-23, 26.

It’s good to learn lessons from the past, it’s wise not to pretend it never happened, but I am concerned that too much auld lang syne will fuck your world apart, you know what I mean? So take it easy on yourself with the nostalgia today. I am going to try.

Daily Batman: It happens

October 17, 2009

“In each of us there are two natures: good and evil. If this primitive duality of man could be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that is unbearable. It is the curse of mankind that these polar twins should be constantly struggling.” — Dr. Henry Jekyll

Welcome to the monkeyhouse, Bruce Wayne. We’ve been waiting.

Advice: Pretending

September 2, 2009




like maybe it would be best to not pretend at all. think about this.