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Friday Afternoon Confessional: Don’t walk angry

I confess that as a result of walking and texting, I ran into a tree branch, with sufficient force to leave a mark.

I confess that my motivation for keeping up with my language acquisition routine seems to have dissolved entirely in recent weeks.

I confess that I have been overly fixated on the idea of achieving certain goals by the end of the month, i.e., today. Finding an apartment and finishing the manuscript of the awkwardness book have been achieved; the reader report still awaits my actual reading of the article to be refereed. I will never again be quite so impatient when I send an article out.

I confess that after watching Raging Bull (due to its inclusion in Dan Barber’s top five movie list), I was filled with despair and anger and, at least immediately following my viewing, felt I would never quite be able to shake it. I confess that my “light completism” routine seems to have landed on Martin Scorsese without my quite intending it and that, in the same vein, I seem to have overdone Fellini in recent months. As I told Brad, the best scenes in all the movies seem to be tangentially related to the plot at best — it’s like a really high-brow Family Guy in that regard.

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July 31, 2009 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional

25 Comments

  1. You left a mark on the tree?

    Comment by Rachel | July 31, 2009

  2. I confess I hate the cyclic nature of my functioning the first half of the month is so lethargic though with a smoother skin, I eat a lot, the second half I’m pretty active, sometimes even hyper bordering with anxiety, pimples show up and no appetite, the other day I circled around the cafeteria and was unable to choose anything to eat, so ate the chicken sandwich the burger king’s which I swore to never eat again
    especially I hate the cyclicity when planning to travel 14 hrs of flight

    Comment by Read | July 31, 2009

  3. the sandwich felt improved in its quality, maybe the management has changed
    i confess i hesitated to write v or w in sandwich, the phone’s autocorrect is too quick to disappear so i didn’t catch its sight

    Comment by read | July 31, 2009

  4. I confess that I want to read Adam’s *Awkwardness* book.

    I confess that I’ve been watching more of Conan than Dave, which makes me feel like I’m cheating on Dave. Why did Leno have to quit and ruin my perfect late-night lineup?

    Comment by Jon | July 31, 2009

  5. John Tesh reported on the dangers of being in motion while texting the other night on his radio show. I confess I try to do all my errands when his show is on so I can listen to my daily dose of “intelligence for my life.” I confess I thought a new skid mark on the highway was actually an animal and I initiated avoidance procedures.

    Comment by Craig | July 31, 2009

  6. I hate that I’m still doing this index. I’ve only got Matthew left in the Scripture Index, but Jesus Christ did these Papists quote Matthew a lot!

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | July 31, 2009

  7. I confess that I’m excited about the free “Birth of Cool” event at Coda this weekend.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | July 31, 2009

  8. I confess I just finished the second season of “Mad Men” last night. It was pretty great.

    At the same time, I hope that the third season will be the last. One of the charms of the show is its depiction of 1960 as the end of an era that was completely distinct from our own – in values, mores and interpersonal style. Whereas the conventional manner of depicting a different culture is to try to get the viewers to empathize with the characters, and to show how the characters are relatable, “Mad Men” does the opposite, by giving the viewer only superficial access to the characters, and by making their motivations totally opaque. As much as you like Peggy, or feel sorry for Betty, their actions are too inexplicable, and their personalities too alien, to invite anyone’s empathy.

    The result is that the predominant feeling of the show is one of total alienation. And, obviously, this sense of alienation has its purpose in the show – it underscores Peggy’s status as a foreigner, Betty’s loneliness, Don’s estrangement from his true identity, and Peter’s inability to make the world work for him in a predictable way. But it also helps explain a world which – as posited in the show, anyway – is totally about appearances, and uninterested in thoughts or feelings or internality.

    In the second season, this starts to change, bit by bit. Partly, the sense of strangeness lifts because the show introduces elements that recognizably modern. It gave me a jolt when Peggy went to listen to Bob Dylan in Central Park. (Although it was a typically hilarious and masterful stroke when the show makes Paul Kinsey seem like a total douche for wanting to march with the Freedom Riders.) But also, the show begins to look beneath the perfect surfaces. Joan in the first season was described by Roger as “a beautiful ship sailing around the office,” and that’s pretty much all she was – supremely competent and perfectly beautiful. That’s all we want from Joan. But in the second season, she’s tied to an awful fiancé, and there’s that horrible rape scene. And compare Roger’s relationship with Joan in season 1, which is almost professional in its cool purposefulness, and his season 2 relationship with Jane, which is all icky confessional love poetry and fantasies of running off and getting married.

    This can only get worse in the third season, as we move further into the sixties and closer to a recognizable modern American society, with its preference for the natural over the artificial, and its unseemly interest in feelings and opening up to other people and all that. Plus, if Don’s going to have a redemptive arc in the third season, which he’s all set up for, it’s presumably going to require some soul-searching and truth-telling. Of course, this show has a solid track record of letting its characters make the unexpected choices, and Don’s just as likely to avert redemption. But even then, the rest of the world will move on around him as he ages, silent and out of touch, increasingly embittered and bewildered by hippies and feminism and men who are not only willing, but want, to talk about how they feel.

    I’m sorry this comment is so long.

    Comment by jms | July 31, 2009

  9. great analysis, i want to see the series myself
    cos Peggy Betty Don Peter sound pretty much me
    i just found this joke
    “Stirlitz opened a door. The lights went on. Stirlitz closed the door. The lights went out. Stirlitz opened the door again. The light went back on. Stirlitz closed the door. The light went out again. “It’s a fridge,” concluded Stirlitz.”

    Comment by read | July 31, 2009

  10. ^have

    Comment by read | July 31, 2009

  11. I confess that I’m about to quit my job.

    Comment by ebolden | July 31, 2009

  12. I confess that I’ve been spooked two nights in a row after watching Antichrist. Usually the only movies to do that are zombie ones. Or The Ring. That fucked my shit up.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | July 31, 2009

  13. I confess I’m still at the office, and I wish someone would talk to me about Mad Men.

    Comment by jms | July 31, 2009

  14. I confess I’m confused by Jimmy Fallon on Late Night. Is he terrible, or is he intentionally uncomfortably unfunny, in the manner of Neil Hamburger?

    Comment by voyou | July 31, 2009

  15. Terrible, it seems. There are very few reliably funny people out there, you know. The Internet is littered with blogs that “used to be funny”, for example.

    Comment by transportinburma | July 31, 2009

  16. Does anyone remember Neal Pollack? I was a huge fan back in the day.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 31, 2009

  17. Jimmy Fallon is basically the male Tina Fey. Except funnier. I provide “Taxi” as proof.

    Comment by Craig | July 31, 2009

  18. I remember Neal Pollack.

    Comment by ben | August 1, 2009

  19. It’s hard to do funny on the regular, unpaid basis that blogging demands.

    Comment by stras | August 1, 2009

  20. another joke from wiki i read yesterday goes
    ‘Stirlitz was walking through the forest when he saw two eyes staring at him in the darkness. “An owl,” thought Stirlitz. “You’re an owl yourself!” thought Müller.”
    so funny if you know the movie, Muller is the gestapo boss with the thick glasses

    Comment by read | August 1, 2009

  21. I confess that I’m tired of right-wingers thinking that my impatience and dismissiveness reflects poorly on my character. I have been hearing right-wing talking points since I was like 13, and they’ve always been the same. In the intervening 16 years, I’ve managed to track down the information that debunks them. Yet every time I disagree, it’s as though I was born with my current beliefs and can’t bear to be contradicted — no, I can’t bear to hear your boring, made-up bullshit for the millionth time.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 1, 2009

  22. I confess that I saw the film linked in comment 25 of this post. I confess that it does not as fully pay off the premise of comment 15 in that post as I had hoped, though it would make a welcome addition to Adam’s awkwardness file, if too late for his book. I confess that though it had its faults, it provided an unsettling prism through which to consider my friendships and boundaries.

    Comment by Wrongshore | August 3, 2009

  23. I confess I like the new film covering my phone’s face no fingermarks anymore, so great
    and with the headphones working properly life is good and bearable

    Comment by Read | August 3, 2009

  24. This is a good post on 30 Rock that addresses some of the complaints about its politics that I seem to remember around here, stras.

    Comment by Wrongshore | August 3, 2009

  25. Wrongshore, I’d agree with that take on Tracy Morgan’s character for most of the first season, when he’s played as primarily crazy – a caricature of an eccentric celebrity more than a caricature of a black man (although, to be sure, an eccentric black celebrity). The best episodes of the show’s first season depend on the fact that Tracy isn’t merely unreliable, but insane (“The Aftermath,” “Tracy Does Conan,” etc.)

    In the second and third season, however, the show doesn’t invest enough time in his character to let him be much more than a stereotype, and so instead of coming across as weirdly unpredictable he just comes off as just stupid, lazy, childish, and ignorant – which is to say, a racist stereotype of a black man. And the linked post’s attempted defense of those later seasons is pretty lame – the central joke of “The Natural Order” is that women and black people get special treatment, and that white men, who have the terrible burden of running the world, are the ones who have it tough. The episode is not exactly subtle about this. It has Tracy Morgan yelling “race card!” when he doesn’t want to do stuff.

    I still have some residual fondness for 30 Rock (although mostly left over from the first season), and it can still be a funny show on occasion (I liked the episode with Larry King this year, for instance – which, again, had Morgan’s character being insane instead of doing Tina Fey’s impression of a black man), but really, the show is racist, and anti-feminist, and just generally reactionary.

    Comment by stras | August 4, 2009


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