I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.
Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.
After they finished watching the Bond movies, I figured the next series John Gruber and Dan Benjamin would discuss on The Talk Show would be Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre. But Gruber refused — too personal for podcasting, he said. Disappointed, I rewatched 2001.
Instead of acknowledging the wisdom of leading from behind, the Right jumped on the Obama administration’s handling of Libya as yet another example of at best incompetence. They lost me there.
Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was still only 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.
It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust this US President.
Nobody from usesthis.com has asked me what my setup us, nor is likely to anytime soon. So I’m just going to mouth off here about it. But first, some background.
On the Leon Wieseltier/Andrew Sullivan spat, Walter Russell Mead seems to want to have his strudel and eat it too.
Defeat in the Olympics bid may focus the mind in the Oval Office where it should be: Afghanistan.
There’s nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. It’s a hot July Wednesday morning. Things are reasonably busy. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown — Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O.
een reading Neil Strauss’s The Game about the workshop movement for teaching guys how to pick up women. At the start of each get-together the gurus appraise the neophytes to give them makeovers and improve their likelihood of success as pickup artists. Well, tonight we were at a nearby dive and I let myself look at the three guys in the band that way and it was heartwarming: rather than what I now understand is my default internal standoffishness, I was seeing their best beauty and how to best bring it out. They were all very low-key dorkily dressed, the bassist wearing saggy jeans and a blue shirt and sweater. It would not have taken much to transform them into star rockers — they were already rockers after all. Svengali in my own mind. That would be a nice way to mentally approach how I look at people when walking the streets: instant makeovers. Suddenly you’re seeing the person in their best light. How lovely! I’m going to try it.
Upon approaching the end of the book I googled the author and his heroine girlfriend and found a video of him, a tv news piece about the pick-up phenomenon. Mild shock. He really is a total superdweeb. His transformation was even more remarkable than I had realized. In the reading I imagined he had gone from regular looking shmoe modest about his looks to an exciting-looking guy. But in fact he has that Semitic or Mediterranean shaped head and features where everything is rounded and looks like it could complete itself as a ball. There’s a photo of him during his before phase, and sure, he looks like your regular mousy intellectual, but in his after stage he doesn’t seem to look any more attractive. More stylish and confident to be sure, though, and the ingredients of style are being well-groomed and having taste, courage and energy, so I guess that’s what’s done it. Strauss makes me think of Telly Savalas actually. This too is a bald man who really had a certain ugliness, and yet was mesmerizing as Kojak because of a confidence (“Who loves ya, baby?”), style (the striped hat) and sense of humor (the lollipop) that doubled as sexiness. As a kid I just loved him. Strauss says something in the TV interview about how the system helps bring your actual self to the fore, and he’s right. That exaggerated actual self is style, and we love it. You’re transforming yourself into an icon, a simplified personality that people can grasp. Groucho’s painted-on moustache, Chaplin’s tramp.
But still, Strauss’s writing voice — not to mention the cartoon of him on the book jacket — made me think he’s more attractive than he seems to be. That’s the magic of the writer’s gift, that you get to sound like your conception of yourself and build it up in the reader’s mind over tens of thousands of words. But though this makes his seduction accomplishments all the more impressive, viscerally I was disappointed, superficial child as I am. Also, from the book I imagined the girlfriend Lucy Leveridge being slightly Latino looking, butch yet soft, whereas in photos she appears less fabulous than I had imagined, more like a big pretty midwestern farmgirl.
But I quibble. What’s more interesting is this: Is this book our generation’s On The Road? Certainly, it’s accessible. Certainly it’s about extreme personalities on the edge of self-destruction who nonetheless seem to be leading a social revolution that may change modern society. And it too has travel around America, returns to families from the foment of the group experiment. And the book succeeds as a novel, perhaps a great one, as it transgresses the norms of today. Even Kerouac renamed Neal Cassady as Moriarty, but Strauss didn’t even bother changing Mystery’s name. You can come out of this novel and go onto the web and it’s all still there, in exactly the same jargon and form as the book — see fastseduction.com or Strauss’s own site, neilstrauss.com or even Mystery’s! They’re all still doing it. I’ve never seen that before, though having Seinfeld play his younger self on Seinfeld is close. It’s like stepping out your door and saying hello to your neighbor, the two-headed Zaphod Beeblebrox. At the end of the book Strauss claims to be moving on to other things, but in reality it looks like the movement is so compelling that even after achieving such success in what he had thought was his life’s calling — the book was a raging bestseller — he’s still at it. It’s exciting stuff, that this revolution is still occuring, these guys are all okay, that in all likelihood there’ll be many more adventures of Mystery and Style.
Right now is a strange and exciting time (though isn’t it always if you’re energized for it?). Maybe we just passed through a golden age without realizing it and we’ll look back with envy at its glory. All this is of course a hyperbolic way of saying I’m becoming disappointed with this season’s 24. With the introduction of the Bauer family, the writers are beginning to get just a little desperate. Do we really believe that this is Jack’s Dad? This new plot may be a disaster similar to having C3P0 be a creation of the young Annakin Skywalker, new backstory that severely shrinks the grandeur of our beloved myth. I came to see Star Wars as the adventures not necessarily of Luke Skywalker but of R2D2 and his sidekick, two amusing long-lived robots unaware of their godlike status who’ve shared countless adventures with great humans through the eons. I suppose my memory of Asimov’s robot stories suggested that viewpoint, with the amazing tragic feeling of R Daneel Olivaw outliving his mentors and friends. The prequels killed that vast sweep, shrank what seemed like a vast universe affected by a handful of people into one containing not much more than that handful of people.
The teasers for the past few days here: I notice they share identical structure. That’s crappy. They all have two sentences, an initial long one then a short allegedly snappy one beginning with “But”. I’m stiffer than I realized. Gotta shake it up, loosen up.
On the Seventh Day
Approaching Infinite Justice