Thursday various

  • “What’s a Canooter to Do?” Heather reviews Jenny McCarthy’s latest book, so the rest of us don’t have to:

    Is this what the book is about? No, not really. But even my canooter agreed that there was a glimmer of something just underneath the surface — a subtext of what happens when you turn to a life of reality TV and high profile media. And when you finish reading the book — when you finish with McCarthy’s tale of how she has turned to Buddhism to try to find peace and acceptance in her life — you’re left with a vague, nauseous feeling. A feeling that if you want to be like Jenny McCarthy, you’re buying into a view of the world that is tough, jaded, and incredibly cynical. It’s a fleeting feeling, though. Give a moment, and then you’ll be back to laughing about the silly things you can do with your canooter. Hahahahahah. Seriously. I’m not making this up. Hahahahaha.

  • On why dancing is like being a Time Lord:

    When dancing is going well, time does funny things. Sometimes it feels like the most perfect special effect. The suspended water drops. The muffled pause inside an explosion, with every piece of debris hanging still in midair. The only other time I’ve felt the same endless expansion was one evening when I drove down the freeway and a car in front of me lost control, spectacularly and ridiculously. It spun the way cars do in movies, actual elliptical twirls that carried it across the entire spread of lanes, first one way and then the other. It struck the central divider and pinwheeled off again, and everything looked so gentle and so inevitable that when it swung towards me, it seemed to drift along an obvious curve and I had all the time in the world to twitch my own car the smallest degree to the side and watch it slide past. Time suddenly opened up, every edge of it unfolding, like some sort of weird, reversed version of origami. [via]

  • A short but interesting interview with Chevy Chase:

    Let’s not call physical comedy falling down and pratfalls. All humor is physical, no matter how you dish it out. It’s timing, like a dancer or an athlete would have. The raising of an eyebrow, how you do it; when you look, how you look. All those little things are physical. [via]

  • Genevieve Valentine on bad movies:

    If you are on a desert island and Legion is the only movie available in the island-proof DVD player, use the reflective surface of the DVD to angle sunlight onto some dry grass and start a fire; do not use it for any other purpose. I am serious.

  • And finally, Theodora Goss on why she goes to the museum:

    It’s part of a writer’s training, in a sense, to experience as much as possible and to store what is experienced away, not as though doing research, but storing it in the mind so that what is most important is retained. The sheen on a particular piece of glass, for example. Because we create a sense of reality by describing our fantasies as though they were real, and in order to do that we need to draw from what is real, from our experiences. That’s why monsters are hybrids: we always draw from and recombine reality, and so our fantastical creatures are recombinations.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Last week, I read Charles Yu’s lovely How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. I think these two passages are maybe my favorite parts:

I don’t miss him anymore. Most of the time, anyway. I want to. I wish I could but unfortunately, it’s true: time does heal. It will do so whether you like it or not, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. If you’re not careful, time will take away everything that ever hurt you, everything you have ever lost, and replace it with knowledge. Time is a machine: it will convert your pain into experience. Raw data will be compiled, will be translated into a more comprehensible language. The individual events of your life will be transmuted into another substance called memory and in the mechanism something will be lost and you will never be able to reverse it, you will never again have the original moment back in its uncategorized, preprocessed state. It will force you to move on and you will not have a choice in the matter.

My mother finishes her kneeling, and places her incense into a large ceramic urn filled with the accumulated ashes of a thousand, a million, a hundred million earlier sandalwood incense sticks, the dust of past events collected there and made tangible. She pierces the ash pile, fine, talcum-like, soft gray powder, slides her own incense stick down into it, in a perfect vertical, and appears to consider it for an instant, a thin marker, flimsy and direct, an axis, a conduit for prayer, an object and a process that will turn itself from a material thing into the dust around it, transform into visible and invisible substances, will convert itself into heat and smoke to fill the room. The present incense will become the very stuff that props itself up, and allows other, future incense to stand vertically, for a time, each current incense unable to stand alone, only able to perform its function with the help of all other past incense, like time itself, supporting the present moment, as it itself turns into past, each burning stick transmitting the prayers contained within it, nothing but a transitory vehicle for its contents, and then releasing itself into the air, leaving behind only the burnt odor, the haze and residue of uncollectible memory, and at the same time becoming part of the air itself, the very air that allows the present to burn, to combust, to slowly work itself down into nothingness.

Monday various

  • Exploding Chewing Gum Kills Student. I have to admit, this sounded like a hoax or urban legend when I first read about it, but it seems distrubingly legit. At least, I didn’t find anything discounting the story at Snopes. [via]
  • Well this is disappointing and surprising: the Internet Review of Science Fiction is closing after its February issue.
  • Grant Morrison on what appeals to him about comics as a storytelling medium:

    The essentially magical qualities of inert words and ink pictures working together with reader consciousness to create a holographic Sensurround emotional experience. What else?

  • I’ve seen some talk about how 2010 is the real end of the past decade — that the decade is still going on, that is — since there was never a Year Zero. I think this is maybe true on a very pedantic, technical level, but I also think it’s a battle that was lost two thousand years ago, in Year Ten. When people talk about the last decade, they’re including 2000-2001, not miscounting. As Bad Astronomy points out [via], the argument that 2010 isn’t the start of a new decade suggests that “people [are] confused on how we delineate time.”
  • And finally, Daniel’s Daily Monster:

    Every week day (starting from 7th May 2009) I draw a little monster card to go in my son’s lunchbox.

    These are just really delightful. [via]