Just in time for Passover, my dad was on Slate's Explainer in an installment that is curiously esoteric -- I mean who really posed a question about what's the best kind of advanced digital optical technology to re-examine crumbling palimpsests?
For those further interested on the topic, I did a Q & A with my dad on this topic in McSweeney's volume 4 that includes more detail on multispectral imaging, biblical sectarianism, as well as a momentary incident with my dad's dog, Heschel.
Again the assault on meaning. Sure there's activist judges. Lots of them. Plenty of berobed activist behinds on activist Federal benches all across the country. Except they're not the godless monsters Bush insinuates when his mouth turns down at the corner, fills with saliva, and drips out: "We can't let the country be run by these judishal activists."
You'd think Bush would be all for judicial activism, since 7 of 9 Supreme Court justices and nearly two-thirds of the Federal judges on the 13 circuit courts were appointed by Republicans.
Yes, it's true. When down is up and black is white, all you have to do is flip the script! Those legions of "activist judges" -- they're not busy scheming to keep good Christian children from their Scriptures at school. They're overturning environmental regulations and hardlining criminal justice. Only 9 of Carter's appointments still have seats. Another 59 were appointed by Clinton. The names of the rest came from the desks of Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. More than half the bench is already conservative -- but not, apparently, conservative enough for the new breed of pietists who want to create a Christian theocracy in America. That why the true blue conservatives are really not interested in packing the courts. They're already packed, so the new strategy is: dismantle the courts altogether.
That's right, the guardians of tradition have decided to chuck checks and balances and jettison the judicial system. First there was the LA Times expose of christian conservative firebreathers Tony Perkins' and James Dobson's conference with supporters last month in which they detailed their strategy. Here's Perkins: "There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench." That's beyond "going nuclear" over appointments; it's skipping constitutional process to remove judges. "Very few people know," Dobson said, "that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court. They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore and it's gone." Dobson explained how they'll try a new back door method for their extra-constitutional strategy: stripping funding for "un-Christian" judges until they are forced out. Delay agrees, managing to toss off this ominous barb, as he gets ready for his ethics investigation: "We set up the courts. We can unsetup of the courts. We have the power of the purse."
Unset up the courts? I must have missed that volume of the Federalist Papers.
Yet another nugget from the Crypto-files! Since Bigfoot is apparently so hard to capture on film, the evidentiary body often turns to trusty old audio. Nothing like heading out into the woods with some mail-order mics and alligator clips from RadioShack to help prove that the Big Fella is out there. But check out this 911 call from Texas. Sounds like emergency dispatch captured a "hairy surprise"! (Researchers: Note the early mention of canine mutilation.)
Seek and ye shall find. Since taking on the editorship of Yeti Researcher, the Journal of the Society of Cryptic Hominid Investigation, I've started seeing the supposedly elusive hirsuite fellows everywhere: on beer bottles, at Disneyland, old Halloween photos, stray persians, and, just las week, Amon Duul II records. Mystery primates, hah!
Then I get this in my inbox, from one Kelly Sears:
And on the Yeti...you may be over this by now since you are done editing, but here are some lyrics by a metal band I'm into on the subject:
Beyond the mountains of ice Exists a creature of frost His secret lies in the skies Eternal legend survives His powers unknown by man To catch a glimpse if he can Wandering deep polar caps Communication with saucer Abominable nomad The ancient monks know his clan The time of yeti will rise Because his ways have been wise The yeti's feet take flight, upon the tundran ice Carries the saucer's key, upon the space bound seed The yeti's feet take flight, upon the tundran ice Carries the saucer's key, upon the space bound seed
it sounds even better in song...
It does sound even better in song, but optimal listening requires full accessorization with a one-toke keychain pipe and one of those foreign legion-type hats with two flaps in the back. (Anyone know the proper name for those?) For those looking for a seven-minute metal jam about the mystical powers of reclict hominids in the Himalayas, the tracks can be peeped an album purchased here, although I should point out, for the sake of accuracy, that serious Yeti researchers understand the creatures to be fully flesh and blood, magic-less, and entirely ordiinary descendents of Gigantopithecus who have anything to do with UFOs, which are not real.
Was it just pure chivalry motivating Mario or was he really after something else? (I'm talking about purity, not prurience, for those among you with dirty minds.) I always had a suspicion that there was something more than gold coins that lured the little plumber across fire puts and up into secret-level heavens. Cory Arcangel has engineered the implicit spiritual ascension in Mario's original 8-bit Nintendo quest by unlocking the cartridge's code and extracting only the blue sky and softly floating clouds. (Click on the above picture to glimpse nirvana for yourself.)
Taking that idea and making it "40 times as awesome," Cory recently showed a similarly engineered movie at Deitsch Projects, also derived entirely from the 32K Super Mario cartridge but with a re-arranged pseudo-narrative where Mario's world is falling apart -- "like Mad Max," he says. The show ended in New York already. I happened to be there at the time (for the Little Gray Book lecture), but I hadn't heard about the project, so I missed it. Hope it comes to LA.
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.