Friday, October 21, 2011
May I Taxi You To Your Next Link?
Gulp -- another Friday! I'm in constant taxi-mode, with one daughter getting schooled 20 minutes away from my computer terminal, and the other neck-deep in rehearsals for a community theatre musical located 20 minutes off in the other direction. Is there some way to blog and drive at the same time? I don't mean in the way that Jim blogs -- that's fine enough, but he got there first, and I need some way to capture the thoughts that fizz over the surface of my consciousness the way hydrogen-peroxide fizzes over the surface of a wound.
Achievement in anything requires discipline in all things, of course, and I am not quite the embodiment of that precious trait. I do have "computer time," but rather than devote that time to composition, I prefer to scour the webs for thoughts to keep the fizz bubbling. Besides, it's easier to read than to write. So, as a stand-in for my own words, here are others you might dig just as much as I did:
There is a heap of God-verbiage to be had on the web, most of it ugly as sin, minus any trace of sin's surface appeal. I've been meaning to add to it, under the dubious conviction that if we leave it all to the pros who are certain of their convictions, then we might as well write the epitaph for our species (in which case I'll settle for this one.) One Old Pro whose name keeps coming up in these free-for-alls is Reinhold Niebuhr. It doesn't seem to matter what shade of the conviction spectrum a person falls on, Niebuhr has written something to affirm the arguer's point of view. What's up with that? Jordan Smith gives a short, and possibly too tidy, answer to that question.
In response to some nameless televangelist's cash-grab, Bono famously snarked, "The God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister." The evidence for such a God was probably to be found in Bono's own wallet, the contents of which will be increased by multiple reissues of Achtung Baby, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Today listening to that band throws me into Jerry Lewis conniptions, but 20 years ago I was very much into Achtung Baby and its near-immediate follow-up, Zooropa. Those albums, and the band's live shows, seemed to channel the excitement and anxieties that attended the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the rise of global media, better than any other act on the scene. But does that necessarily mean Achtung Baby deserves the Nevermind treatment?
It is all but given that the last two publishers in the world will be Amazon and Google. Should writers wring their hands, or celebrate?
And speaking of celebrating writers, Cowtown Patty celebrates James Lee Burke's Feast Of Fools as Burke's Magnum Opus. I'm a big fan of Burke, particularly his Hackberry Holland novels. This is a Feast I can't wait to tuck into.
Finally, Terry Teachout's laudatory review of "The Agony & Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" struck several nerve centers for me. First of all, Mike Daisey's dramatic monologue exposes and flays with some mighty thorny truths about everybody's (including, especially, the evangelical church's) favorite product and brand. But secondly and not incidentally, Daisey's mode has pointed similarities to that of the late Spalding Gray, whose Swimming To Cambodia really should have placed in my Fifteen Film Faves. Gray is experiencing another, possibly final, resurgence in public attention thanks to the publication of his journals, to which Daphne Merkin applies her own particular zest of candid articulation here.
All of which leads me to think, what better, more pertinent tribute to Spalding Gray could there be than a proper Swimming treatment of Daisey's controversial performance?