Thursday, March 29, 2007

As for today's Mallard Bloodpool...

...I just want to note that when he says "according to this book" he almost certainly actually means "according to this article in USA Today." Oh, Bruce--you're so cute when you pretend to read books.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A brief note on the Super Traverse Bros.

Yeah I know, Against the Blog badly needs updating. WILL DO! But now I just want to note a brief thought.

So basically, Reef Traverse will fuck anything that moves. I was bemused by the attempted bestiality scene a while back, but that scene--along with many others on the same theme, albeit less over-the-top--that he's more or less a slave to urges, and he doesn't care much about what the target is. In the chapter I just read he enthusiastically broke the homosexuality barrier with Cyprian. Pynchon puts a lot of sort of crude American vernacular in his mouth, which clashes noticeably with the sensibilities of the European characters around him, and Yashmeen even refers to him as a cowboy with very uncomplicated sexual desires. So is it fair to say that this represents a view of America--running roughshod over the world, fucking the shit out of everything without much concern for the consequences? Reef does exhibit some remorse over abandoning his infant son, but it's kind of too little too late. It seems like a fair hypothesis.

By contrast, Frank seems sort of asexual--Pynchon may have alluded to him having a partner or two earlier; I don't remember--but it's certainly not a big part of his life. Kit is somewhere in the middle. Lake--who knows? She hasn't gotten a lot of screentime compared to her brothers.

So: Reef, id; Frank, ego; Kit, super-ego. Is that overly reductionist? Nonetheless, it sort of rings true to me.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mallard Bloodpool

I can't believe it took me so long to come up with that. Any Actraiser fans in the house? Seems appropriate, especially with this moronic global warming denialism thing he's had going lately. I feel that I'm experiencing a snark deficit here--I don't really know what to say. He's really taking this to the point of psychosis. I can't understand why anyone who isn't a giant corporation who benefits financially from being able to fuck the environment would cling like a rabid rat to this obvious delusion. Well, yes I can: libruls are fer it, so ahm aggen it. This would all be sort of funny if it weren't DESTROYING THE FUCKING PLANET. Fuck you Tinsley, you loathsome little apparatchik.

This post wasn't very funny, was it?


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Against the Blog: 4-3

Scarsdale Vibe in Venice, with Foley Walker. Scarsdale is suspicious about Kit's disappearance from Germany. Scarsdale is here collecting art, as I may or may not have mentioned before. Scarsdale is using underwater breathing gear to inspect a submerged mural, and Foley is repeatedly tempted to cut off his air supply. But, he doesn't, to our regret.

Kit and Reef are covertly observing them--will they be able to pwn Scarsdale in this setting? They meet up with Dally Rideout, along with Hunter Penhallow. Dally is still kind of attracted to Kit. Ruperta is here to. Apparently, Hunter knows her from somewhere. Dally offers to help with the whole assassination thing.

Andrea Tancredi. An anarchist with visions of Venice's fiery destruction, whom everyone has totally forgotten about because he appeared ONCE before, a long way back. Dally was attracted to him then, although seemingly that never went anywhere. Anyway, he's here.

At a ball that night where Kit and Reef are going to make their move, Tancredi, trying to preëmpt them, is shot and killed by Vibe's bodyguards. Do you know how few actual named characters have been killed throughout this book so far? Bloody few, is how many: Webb Traverse, Sloat Fresno, now Tancredi...there was that guy that Fleetwood Vibe ordered to drop down a mineshaft way back when, but I don't think he was named. I'm probably forgetting someone, but it really seems as though, with all this shit blowing up left and right, more people should be biting the dust.

The Super Traverse Bros' cover is blown; they have to get out. Kit and Reef's parting is fractious, and Dally is upset that Kit has abruptly left her AGAIN.


RIP Mr. Humphreys


Are You Being Served was actually a fairly terrible show by any objective standard (who's up for ANOTHER goddamn "joke" about Mrs. Slocombe's "pussy?"), but Mr. Humphreys was a pretty appealing fellow. I don't really understand the criticism (mentioned in the obit) from gay rights activists--sure, he was swishy, but he was pretty much a completely positive character, not to mention the only competent one on the staff.

So yes. Sad times.

Monday, March 19, 2007

If you want to play that way, you need to listen to different bands.

This AV Club article poses the question: is it all right to be annoyed when your favorite cult band becomes a huge, mainstream success. Because everyone like feeling like part of an elite group, right? Well, of course. Me too. But the thing is, if your favorite obscure band DOES become a big success, it's because they play a kind of music that can appeal to a wide audience. And if THAT'S the case, then maybe you shouldn't have been so goddamn smug about liking them in the first place, eh? Just because a band isn't super well-known doesn't mean that their music is wildly out of the mainstream, and if they get big, it means they weren't that out of the ordinary in the first place and your tastes were ALWAYS laughably pedestrian HA HA!

That's why you should choose really WEIRD obscure artists to idolize. If Reverend Glasseye or Jay Munly or even 16 Horsepower suddenly became worldwide sensations, I think I'd have to reconsider everything I think I know about the world and its denizens.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Against the Blog: 4-2

I'll finish this if it kills me. And it just might.

Who is back in Vienna? Cyprian is back in Vienna.

Who does he meet there? He meets Yashmeen Halfcourt there.

How is she doing? She is somewhat shaken by world events and by possible conspiracies and whatnot in her own life.

Who do they meet with? They meet with Ratty McHugh.

What do they talk about? They talk about all sorts of geopolitical business that it is difficult for me to adequately summarize.

What do they do then? They go to a café.

What sexual act does she perform on him at the café? She gets him off under the table with her foot.

What does Cyprian experience? Sexual confusion.

What does he do next? He returns to Venice, when he was summoned.

How does Derrick Theign react to the thing with Yashmeen? He reacts in an enraged manner, as this somehow ruins years of work.

Is it somehow useful to write these entries in catechism format? It is not useful so's you'd notice.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So great.

xkcd, that is. The webcomic. You never know what you're going to get, but it's invariably super neat-o, even when it involves complicated math that is totally inscrutable to me. I found today's installment ("Kite") especially super-cool.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Free music for all

NOTE: Okay, I never finished writing this, so there's only ONE recommendation. It's a pretty sweet album, though.

I feel compelled to share this blog with all--it's devoted to providing full-album downloads of insanely rare folk music, mostly from the sixties and seventies. A lot of this stuff was only ever released on extremely limited-run vinyl, and would be totally impossible to find actual physical copies of. A few recommendations:

Silver Birch. Beautiful vocal harmonies--I'm not sure if any of the songs are originals (some of them are new to me), but who cares? Great versions of great traditional songs like "The Wife of Usher's Well," "Lord Franklin," "Lyke Wake Dirge," and "The Trees They Do Grow High" (yes, they were obviously big Pentangle fans--like that's a bad thing?). And "Daddy Fox" was sort of a revelation, because there's TOTALLY a version of this song (under a different name) by (surely?) Gordon Bok, that I LOVED as a kid, but haven't heard lately because I'm pretty sure whatever album was on never saw a CD release. *I* don't have it, at any rate. Anyway: a seriously great album.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fuck Daylight Savings Time

Or Standard Time--I never know which one is which. All I know is, I will vote for any candidate who runs on a platform of going ahead an hour in the Fall AND the Spring. Some defeatist, cut-and-run, liberal naysaysers might whine that if we did this, it would be dark at noon after a while. This is because they are not Serious about the War on Time. If they're not willing to do everything necessary to defeat the forces of chronofascism, how can we trust them with the highest office in the land?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Against the Blog: 4-1

This section comprises most of the rest of the book. La.

Cyprian Latewood. As you will OF COURSE remember, he was Yashmeen's flame (kind of? maybe?) back in England, in spite of being a "sodomite." How he is in Trieste, monitoring ships and whatnot.

But what he REALLY does is work as a prostitute--he makes contact with two Russians named Misha and Grisha who arrange for him extremely clandestine meetings with a mysterious colonel. If you fucking tell ANYONE about this, EVER, you are fucking DEAD, they tell him. Fair enough. His duties mainly involve being stripped, tied up, and whipped.

He runs into his old schoolchum Ratty McHugh, and decides, seemingly on a whim, and probably partially because it's such a dangerous thing to do, that he wants out. Ratty knows people in British intelligence who might be able to help, and he introduces him to a functionary named Derrick Theign. Theign helps him get away, threatening the Russians with forged documents meant to demonstrate that Cyprian was their ward, and they corrupted him.

Theign and Cyprian go to Venice for the time being. They end up fucking. Eventually, Cyprian gets transferred to Vienna. And I am done.


Against the Blog: 3-18

Man, I was getting sort of quasi-caught-up, but now I've stepped up my reading pace because I want to write about the novel for a class, so now I'm way behind again. I've read up to page eight hundred; we're only at 678 with Against the Blog. Ah well. Qu'est qu'on peut faire?

This section is back in England. Lew, Nigel, and Neville are at a jolly musical about Jack the Ripper. Professor Renfrew is there as well. Lew encounters Max Khäutsch, who, you might remember if you read these entries over and over really, really obsessively, was the bodyguard who helped Lew mind the Archduke Ferdinand waaaaaaay back. Now he's a colonel. What is he doing here? He's guarding Renfrew's counterpart and rival, the German Werfner, who also happens to be in town.

Later on, Lew has twin epiphanies: first, that Nigel and Neville are, in fact, only pretending to be buffoonish fops; and second, that Renfrew and Werfner are, like, totally the same person. So he goes and does research on bilocation and whatnot to try to figure this shit out. He ends up chatting with a Swiss "alienist," who puts forth the theory that Renfrew/Werner is acting out some inner contradiction by being two different people representing countries with opposing interests.

The Grand Cohen (Nickolas Nookshaft! No, I will never cease to find this name amusing) had suggested to Lew, in an oblique way, that maybe it wouldn't be totally bad if something bad happened to RenWer. But, he doesn't. He DOES wonder how much of all this crazy shit has happened to him, and how much to some bilocated version of himself.

After visiting Renfrew, he catches a brief glimpse of the nefarious Gentleman Bomber, but he gets away. Is Lew the Gentleman Bomber also? Anyway, he decides to quit this TWIT lark and set up his own thing. section le troisième, elle est finis!


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-17

So you remember, Kit and Yashmeen, pretending to be a couple, traveling to Switzerland. La la la. They visit Reimann's grave, where Yashmeen recalls how when she was a young lass in Russia, her father would take in various fugitives of some sort whom "the government feared...more than it feared Social Democrats, more than bomb-throwers" (663). I'm not sure what this is getting at--are we talking about Trespassers? Or is there some historical context that would make things clear?

So anyway, they're meant to meet up with some TWIT people in "the fabled Sanatorium Böpfli-Spazzoletta," where there is a fraternal reunion between Kit and Reef. next part sorta may lend credence to people who would contend that Pynchon is just goofing around with this novel. So Ruperta has a lapdog, which, Reef somehow infers, has been trained "to provide intimate 'French' caresses of the tongue for the pleasure of its mistress." SO ANYWAY:

"Oboy, oboy." He stroked the diminutive spaniel for a while until, with no warning, she jumped off the couch and slowly went into the bedroom, looking back now and then over her shoulder. Reef followed, taking out his penis, breathing heavily through his mouth. "Here, Mouffie, nice big dog bone for you right here, lookit this, yeah, seen many of these lately? Come on, smells good don't it, mmm, yum!" and so forth, Mouffette meantime angling her head, edging closer, sniffing with curiosity. "That's right, now, o-o-open up...good girl, good Mouffette now let's just put this--yaahhgghh!

Reader, she bit him.

So yeah, I laughed, and I get the Jane Eyre echo, but uh...well, I dunno; maybe it's just meant to be farcical, but how is one supposed to take Reef at all seriously after this? WELL NEVER MIND. MOVING ON.

It seems like Yashmeen and Kit might be sort of on the verge of actually starting something, but then he doesn't say the right thing, and they don't.

Scarsdale Vibe is in Europe, Reef tells Kit. Buying fine art. Kit immediately wants to make him dead. This is largely because he feels guilty at having accepted the patronage of the presumed agents of his father's death. Reef sort of agrees with this, but easier said than done. If only we could talk to pa! But...wait a second, here's TWIT's resident medium, Madame Natalia Eskimoff! Reef is skeptical, but they decide to try a channeling. It doesn't seem to be working, but then, using Reef as a conduit, they're able to get through to him. He sort of half-apologizes for alienating his family, but they're unable to get him to answer, with absolute certainty, whether he was killed at Scarsdale's behest.

Ruperta and Yashmeen end up getting it on, I'll note, because everyone likes salacious details.

Anyway, Kit and Yashmeen part--he's going West; she's going to Austria then Hungary to participate in some sort of psychic experiment for TWIT.

And that's about it.


Inscrutable dreams

Sometimes when I wake up from a dream, still half-awake, I stagger over to the computer and write it down. And sometimes they turn out looking something like this:

dream where whife (actually husband (dies of heart attack) and husband is trying to find way to bring her back, which translates to attaching files, but he seems to find a way by going into the root directories that no one goes about so then there are two of thme a while, and at the point where he's supposed to die, he goes off on break to rest, but then he dies anyway, of "normalcy"--was it predestination? So now there's still a guy left, though, albeit the other one. This might all be a this american life story.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-16

Reef, in fact, is working digging tunnels through the mountains in the Austrian Alps, along with Flaco, the explosive guy he met in New Orleans. One of the other workers is an Albanian named Ramiz. Ramiz relates an alleged custom of the region where a wronged family is allowed to take one shot at the guy who wronged them, but if he survives the day, they can't do any more as long as the family remains on their property. So Ramiz's family is thus stranded. But he escaped. What does this say about the Traverse family's quest for revenge? Not sure.

There be tatzelwurms in these mountains! Arr! Reef doesn't believe it at first, until he saves Ramiz by driving one off with a jackhammer. So the point is, they DO exist!

Ruperta. The indolent Englishwoman who was Reef's fuckbuddy for a while back in the states. Why is she here? DON'T ASK SO MANY QUESTIONS. They rekindle things for the time being, 'cause why not?

These tunnels are haunted, and a spirit berates Reef for wasting his time here when he should be looking after Stray and Jesse (his son), and avenging Webb. Who? It is a mystery blarg!


Against the Blog: 3-15

Yup. Reef's ex, Stray, is now a weapons dealer, and Frank meets up with her about the business thingie that was started in the last chapter but which I didn't understand because it was sort of confusing. All these odd place names! Their conversation is fairly awkward, as you might expect. Frank is sure that Reef lives yet; Stray, not so much. The meet a menacing fellow known as Hatch. He thinks he's being cheated somehow, not sure how, but anyway, that's why he's menacing. But then Ewball appears, and tensions are broken.

Stray has heard that Frank pwn3d Sloat Fresno, but that he's not that keen on going after Deuce unless he happens to randomly come upon him. He's been having recurring dreams about Webb, though.

So anyway--after the deal's done, they part. Will they meet again? They don't know. Maybe!

And that's it. Another short section.


Lips Like Sugar

Sugar Kisses

Friday, March 02, 2007

Against the Blog: 3-14

Frank on the Mexican border. He runs into Ewball Oust again (love that name), and the two of them get a little gunrunning business going. And whaddaya know, they happen to meet Günther.

Some old acquaintance of Ewball, formerly called "Steve," now "Ramón," invites them to a little party. There, he gets involved in some sort of gunrunning deal that involves a guy named Eusebio Gómez, who turns out to actually be Wolfe Tone O'Rooney, whom Reef knew in New Orleans. This is getting a bit soap operatic. He's looking for weapons to fight for Irish independence and whatnot.

Okay, ONE more old acquaintance, and THAT'S ALL! Dwayne Provecho. The guy who betrayed Frank and Ewball after their escape from the Mexican prison. He gets an initial hostile reception, as you might expect, but then he tells them about some heavy weaponry that they can make use of in their business.

And that's all. Short section. Is this becoming less coherent, or is it just me? Possibly both. I'm reading more slowly lately, but I'm still habitually a hundred pages behind where I am in reading, postwise. I'm enjoying it, but it's sort of difficult, as you would imagine, to really get a grip on such a long, unwieldy novel, especially when you have all these academic and social distractions breathing down your neck. But persevere we will!


Thursday, March 01, 2007

A brief note

I was thinking about Pulp after the last post, so let me just take this opportunity to note: "Last Day of the Miners' Strike" is a brilliant fucking song. You don't tend to expect much from a new track recorded just for a greatest hits album, but in this case--WOW. Seriously. I haven't heard Jarvis's solo album yet, but the man is undeniably some sort of genius, and his band absolutely went out on top.

An incomplete list of lesser-known Pulp songs with great lyrics:

Being Followed Home
This House Is Condemned
Sheffield: Sex City
Your Sister's Clothes
59 Lyndhurst Grove
The Professional
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