Monday, June 06, 2005

Lileks Diversifies or Gives In, Depending

I have been a huge fan of James Lileks (pronounced LYE-lex) personal blog The Bleat. I sometimes joke that he's the writer I'd like to be when I grow up. Here's a bit from today's post:
That was Saturday, more or less. Hauling up bags, dumping cedar chips, rearranging the lighting, then standing outside in the Jolly Green Giant posture beholding my work and savoring the cedar aroma. Went inside, showered, finished up Doom 3. Yes, I saved earth from Hell. You’re very welcome. I listened to old radio, watched “Man on Fire” – essentially, a Charles Bronson revenge movie set in Mexico with a fine lead actor and supporting cast, a brisk enough script, a Heart-Tugging Relationship between a sullen man at the end of the line and the young child actress who gives him reason to have an emotion worth repressing again, and the usual ADD direction from Tony Scott. It’s a graphic novel, really – complete with subtitles to emphasize the dialogue, even though the dialogue is in English. Nice touch, but you can only do it once. Also watched the spiffed up reperfected version of THX 1138, the second half of which can be FF’d without missing a thing. Bottom line: it's bad to be shaved, drugged, and living in a totalitarian dystopia. I'm glad George cleared that up for us.

Tonight I’m with Gnat while my wife is at a movie, and that means I’ve been playing board games and doing puzzles while trying to work. Which means no work has been done. I’ve banged this out in the few minutes while she watches Spongebob (let me tell you, if have the slightest headache, Spongebob’s laugh is enough to make it a very large one.) This is also the night where I'm trying out Adobe GoLive CS, which has proved itself useless for on-the-fly editing; on my 1ghz G4 latop it has about a two second lag between typing a letter and seeing it appear on the screen. It’s a column night too. Also the start of the Screedblog, where polarizing grumpy reactionary drivel can be placed in a cordon sanitaire, leaving the Bleat as neutral ground where we can all get along. I advise those disinclined to like my screedish side to avoid it, since the spotty quality, haphazard reasoning and predictable conclusions will only serve as a depressing reminder of what I have become. On the other hand, it may be amusing to see what a jackass I can really be. Everyone’s a winner!
Effortlessly funny and slyly jabby. Once in a while, I wonder what it would be like to put him and Dennis Miller in the same studio. Their politics are similar, but they both have that amazing ability to pull from the air cultural references that are perfectly suited.

So, for a while now Lileks (no one seems to call him James or Jim) has had a tendency to apologise when his politcal side gets wound up. He'll block off his screeds from the rest of that day's Bleat with an apology and a warning. Today, he's made the break with the beginning of Screedblog. Here's a sample:
Kicked, stepped on, and splashed urine. Splashed. The word suggests that someone waddled over with a brimming pot of urine and gave the vat a heave-ho, just to motivate the detainee. Stories like these must be told, of course, if only to show what the media finds important, and remind us how good things are going. I can imagine in late 2001 asking a question of myself in 2005:

What’s the main story? The smallpox quarantine? Fallout from the Iranian – Israeli exchange contaminating Indian crops? A series of bombings in heartland malls?

"Well, no – the big story today has to do with soldiers mishandling terrorists' holy texts at a detention center."

Mishandling? How? Like, you mean, they opened it up without first checking to see if it was ticking, and it blew up –

"No, they handled it in a way that disrespected it. Infidels are supposed to use gloves."

Oh. So we lost, then.

Don't get me wrong. I want us to do the right thing. I don't think there should be a policy that permits interrogators to treat the Qur'an like it was, oh, a Bible discovered in the Saudi airport customs line. But when it comes to the revelations of these Gitmo tales, I cannot care as much as they would like me to care. I cannot. Not to say we should treat the Qur’an with casual disrespect. But if an infidel touches the book with the wrong hand and people react like a two-year-old whose peas are touching the mashed potatoes, well, I understand why this matters, but when measured against the sins of headchoppery and carbombs, it pales to an evanescent translucence. Odd how the story isn’t about the rules and the precautions and the spine-cracking efforts to bend over backwards to make sure infidels get out the tongs when approaching the sacred book of the terrori – sorry, the detainees - Sorry, the murderous gynophobic gay-hating fundamentalist theocratic cultural imperialists. No, the story is the infinitesimal number of times in which the rules were breached over the course of years
On the one hand, I'm glad he's writing more now, but it also means I have two blogs to watch now. An awful burden, I know.

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