Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pop culture whoredom

I have a few obsessions in various media these days. Because I am a narcissist, I have resolved to share these with you.

It's funny that I'm spending time doing this at 2 am. This morning, I embraced yet another of those great "there are two kinds of people in the world" dichotomies. There are people who get up at the first ring of their alarm, bounding out of bed, energetic and ready to face the day. And there are people like me, who spend 7 5-minute snooze-button intervals dreaming about punching those first people in the face. I feel like my rage might be quelled somewhat if I just committed myself to sleeping at a rational hour on a regular basis. Nevertheless, onward ho...

Television: Flight of the Conchords (HBO)
This one isn't specific to me, but this is one example where, just because everyone else likes it, doesn't it mean it isn't really good. Well, maybe not everyone, maybe just my self-selecting group of indie-oriented, great-taste types. But anyhow. Flight of the Conchords is the Kiwi Tenacious D, with the deadpan comedic stylings of the original BBC Office (for an interesting comparison of the Conchords and the D, you might consult Tyler, the fine proprietor of Just Another Flaneur). It gets better with multiple viewings...the first time you watch it, you think, "This is pretty good. The sort of thing I should probably find funnier than I currently do." But with every additional episode you watch, you actually do find it that much funnier. Personally, I chuckle almost every time I look at Jermaine, because I remember him from those ridiculous Outback Steakhouse commercials. At the time, I watched them and thought, "Who is that American man doing that atrocious Australian accent?" And now I realize, it was a New Zealander doing an atrocious Australian accent. Probably on purpose, what with the whole Kiwis-vs.-Aussies thing. Can you imagine how hilarious they would have been if Bret was there with him?

Radio: Social Studies (KCRW)
For 4 minutes every week, Iris ("e-reese") Bahr transforms into Svetlana Maksimovolskahyah, Russian prostitute to the rich and powerful. Having grown up around accents like this (hers is remarkably dead-on), it's always nice to see them put to such deliciously subversive use. It's fast-talking, name-dropping, ADD-like fare. A representative quote from last week: "But I have to tell you something, Iraq war is nothing like Vietnam for one very important reason: recreation. Back in Vietnam the soldiers had nightclubs, alcohol, hot Asian girls, they were in Heaven. Find me a man that does not have Asian fetish, I will close up shop and start teaching pottery in Oxnard. And I hate pottery. It's 21st century, stop living in the past with the pinchpots and the ugly ashtrays, we are not Incas in Machu Picchu." And if I wasn't a fan already, this week's entry is basically pandering to my vanity, featuring a discussion of my main two celebrity lookalikes, Daniel Radcliffe and Elijah Wood.

Literature: David Rakoff
I raced pretty quickly through both Fraud and Don't Get Too Comfortable. David Rakoff is basically David Sedaris, but Jewish and angrier (sidenote: between David Sedaris, David Rakoff, and Dan Savage, every witty writer-essayist in the country is apparently gay...and has a first name that starts with D). The books are good, although you have to read them with the right mindset. The review blurbs on Don't Get Too Comfortable talk about how it's this scathing indictment of American superficiality and excess, but let's face it: the New Yorker-and-GQ-contributing Rakoff is precisely the kind of effete, coastal intellectual he's looking to indict (no comment on where I fit in with that type). I mean, yes, he is quite self-aware about his general shortcomings, but it seems like his attitude is that, because he recognizes the absurdity of preoccupation with artisinal olive oil, his own obsession with the stuff is therefore absolved, and he can go on mocking other people with the same character flaw. Frankly, Rakoff is kind of an asshole, and not really someone you should accept as a moral paragon. But for some good, sassy reading, it's worth the effort. And if you're a fan of Andrew's famous Harvward Bound, you may fine some remarkable similarities in the writing style. I was quite sad when I realized that I'd left my copy of Don't Get Too Comfortable in the seat-back in front of me on the flight back from San Francisco. Especially since I'd dog-eared the pages with the quotes I found especially entertaining.

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