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Five Things on a Monday – December 8th 2014

He hungers for souls.

He hungers for souls.

Since I don’t have any opinions on hotly-contested topics I wanted to express – today, anyway – I thought I’d fall back on an old thing I used to do, five brief blurbs about something that I find interesting or annoying or happening or some kind of ing. Here are those five things for today:

1. I saw BBC’s Sherlock for the first time this past weekend. I’d heard a lot about it from people – well, mostly about how people of all sexes want to carry Benedict Cumberbatch’s babies – but I’d never gotten a chance (well, actually, I’d never carved out the space for it) to see the show before. I thought it was a great show, with an excellent cast doing an amazing job of putting Sherlock in the modern day without losing the Holmesy feel. BC (even I have my limits on how much I want to type) and Martin Freeman absolutely sparkle in their interactions and make a script full of superb dialogue really crackle like a mouthful of locusts. Moriarty, Lestrade, Irene Adler – they all put a different spin on the classic characters and really shine, but none more so than Moriarty (played by Andrew Scott), who makes both the funniest and scariest villain I’ve seen in a long time – he is just flat-out crazy and awesome. So if you have missed this obscure series (it’s only won several Emmys, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes and is the most-watched drama series in the UK and insured international stardom for BC – it’s been flying well under the radar and you’ve probably never heard of it), I’d recommend you give it a whirl. And unlike those people who expect you to watch the entirety of The Wire and Dexter and the Sopranos and Parks and Recreation and Scandal and etc and so forth – watching all of it would take you just one longish Saturday binge.

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V-Day, Whitney, and Other Random Stuff

I haven’t gotten a chance to watch The Walking Dead yet, but I plan on doing so soon and posting my heartfelt and warm fuzzy feelings about it. So in the meantime, I’ll just spew some random things circulating around my head on this lovely Valentine’s Day.

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Lana Del Ray and Other Ephemera

Not to imply that Lana Del Ray is ephemeral. Of course, in the cosmic sense she is, but so are all of us, and if you think of our world as a pebble on a beach of blah blah insert philosophical bullshit here. I just wanted to make a post, which I haven’t done in a while, and I figured it would probably be about random shit off the top of my head, said thoughts to be considered transitory and not really lasting and therefore ephemeral. Maybe Lana Del Ray is going to be ephemeral. I’m not here to say. Anyway.

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The Second Annual Aravan Awards, 2011 Edition

I Googled "cheap plastic statue" and got this. I think it qualifies.

Last year, I gave out awards in random categories for the following reason:

…Coming up with a top ten list has to be the easiest writing job in the world.  Jot down ten things, come up with superficial reasons for their inclusion, and then explain how blatantly wrong you are as just “a way to get people talking about it.”  It’s the ultimate mail-it-in, who-gives-a-shit approach to writing.

So I am TOTALLY in!

This year will be no different! As with last year, the Aravan Awards are a group of awards in arbitrary categories for arbitrary reasons.  Oh, and since I am both lazy and have a horrible memory for time, I won’t restrict myself to things that came out this year, just things that I think I remember seeing this year.  Or am at least pretty sure I remember experiencing in 2011. Seriously, time is a big-ass blur to me quite often. Maybe it’s the drinking. Anyway, it’s time to haul out the cheap plastic statuettes and give credit where credit is due.

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Some Things I Don’t Understand

There is a lot about life that I don’t get. String theory. Or, for that matter, physics in general. Well, to be honest and to take it one step further, I don’t understand any of the physical sciences. Or math past algebra and geometry. Or 90% of biological science. I just can’t understand them. It’s not that I don’t have the ability to learn about them. I think I’m smart enough to grasp the concepts of moles in chemistry and irrational numbers and all that horseshit. It’s just that as soon as I come across these subjects, my brain waits one minute, decides if it cares about anything just mentioned, then just veers off into imaginationland as it tries to entertain itself. My apathy is strong, and it takes a lot to overcome it. It’s the reason why I can’t understand physics or chemistry or calculus or architecture or art history or poetry or fishing or the million other things I don’t understand – my brain won’t let me, and instead tries to figure out which color has been used most often in Marvel superhero and villain names.

Then there’s the stuff that my brain wrestles with over and over, and still can’t come to grips with no matter how hard I try. These are the issues that vex me, that I ponder as I drive for long stretches, letting my brain work on them like it’s part of the SETI program, and one day it’ll filter enough information that I will finally understand one of those things that for the life of me I just don’t get. What follows are some of those things I’m trying to work through.

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The 2010 First Annual Aravan Awards

Every December, every publication on Earth (and I also believe on Betelgeuse IV, but there might be a magazine there that doesn’t believe in linear time and so form an exception) feels an overwhelming urge to put out a Top Ten List for 2010 of some variety, or hand out awards based on flimsy criteria and dubious decision making.  Some wait until later, like The Academy (fitting in America that our most prominent Academy has nothing whatsoever to do with learning), to hand out their own stupid awards, but that’s only so they can milk the process. 

Why not?  After all, coming up with a top ten list has to be the easiest writing job in the world.  Jot down ten things, come up with superficial reasons for their inclusion, and then explain how blatantly wrong you are as just “a way to get people talking about it.”  It’s the ultimate mail-it-in, who-gives-a-shit approach to writing.

So I am TOTALLY in! Read the rest of this entry

The Sordid Truth Behind “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”

In December 1978, a man named Randy Brooks gave a song he’d written to Elmo and Patsy Shropshire, who played it at the Lake Tahoe Hilton.  By the early ’80’s, the song was a seasonal hit, delighting young and old with its catchy tune and humorous lyrics.  Like “Ring Around the Rosie” and many other popular ditties, however, the truth behind the music isn’t pretty.

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Christmas Carols

There are many songs of the season that evoke warm feelings of nostalgia or spark childhood memories.  For me, Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas” is one of those, as every time I hear it I can see the battered 8-track of my childhood, Burl’s white-bearded face smiling at me like Mr. Kringle himself.  Other songs just evoke a joy within, not necessarily tethered to a memory but engendering a feeling of happiness and of the season.  Again, for me, Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” (if that’s the name) are two of those songs.  This post has nothing to do with anything that I have described above.

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Five Things for Friday, 10/23

1.  Have you ever really liked a song and enjoyed everything about it except one little thing that just starts to stand out to you every time you hear it?  Then the more you hear it, the more time you spend dreading the part you don’t like?  Eventually, you end up not liking the song nearly as much as you did and every time you hear it gets a little more disappointing?  If no, then fuck off and read something else.

For my wife, one of those songs, I think, would be “China Girl” by David Bowie (and just now, the part she hates ran through her head and for a second she hates me just a little bit for bringing it up).  For me, that song is “Paradise City” by Guns n Roses.  The beginning of that song is like the perfectly distilled essence of what is good about rock music.  The extended musical intro, the wailing refrain, simple and pure: “Take me down to Paradise City/ where the grass is green/ and the girls are pretty/Oh won’t you please take me home.”  If for one song, I was blessed with the ability to play guitar, sing, and dominate a stage with my presence, it would absolutely be “Paradise City.”  Except for one niggling thing.

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