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Tuesday, 06 July
Our Country's Sort Of Good

Heigh-ho and a happy past Fourth and all that (for non-Americans, if any: Just hi, I guess). The weekend at Chez Pfaff was mostly low-key and for me, at least, slightly longer, which was nice. The wife did not manage to get the 5th off, and because she is a much less infantile person than myself, managed even not to get cranky about it. If I had had to go to work today, God knows I'd be rending garments, weeping to the skies and performing various other etc. Biblical expression-of-nameless-grief kinds of things. Instead, I was able to sleep in and then watch baseball, which is about as nonbiblical as it gets.

Friday found us staying in and watching a movie, the latest box office catastrophe perpetrated by Mr. John Woo, Paycheck. A most ironic title for a movie based yet again on a Philip K. Dick story, who himself spent a large part of his life searching for same. At any rate, the movie surprised us in that it was not as horrifyingly terrible as we were expecting it to be (this is a quintessentially American thing to do, it strikes me: to willingly pay for a product that one feels certain is going to lead to profound disappointment). This despite the best efforts of veteran movie-ruiner Ben Affleck, who toyed briefly with the notion of actual acting in Good Will Hunting but has since only committed grave filmic crimes. I need only cite here Daredevil, a film so ghastly that it moved Pauline Kael to claw her way out of the grave to pan it. ("Death will not stop me from condemning this movie . . . ")

This is not to say that the movie was good; rather, it was merely less disappointing than we had expected. It was sort of like getting excellent service at Arby's. The final product might be gray and dank and unpalatable, but at least you felt unhassled and full-bellied. I was even able to forgive the scene (which I had joked about well in advance, so there was much laughter) when a door opened and, per the Woo canon, a white dove flew out. You have to kind of give it up to a director who so tirelessly sticks to such a dull, unimaginative visual metaphor whose presumed emotional freight is so embarrassingly tiny.

Nothing interesting happened on Saturday, unless you count the enthusiastic droves of people who flocked down to the pool, which lies right outside our patio door. What people failed to realize, however, was that the early part of the day was a bit overcast and chilly, so the pool hadn't had a chance to really get up to speed. So the annoyance of having to listen to the slap-slap of bare feet on concrete was somewhat allayed by the endless reactions to people joyfully leaping into the startlingly cold pool. Sploosh! (Pause.) "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! IT'S FREEZING!" This happened over and over, causing me much joy. Sploosh! (Pause.) "AAAAAAHHHHHH!" Sploosh! (Pause.) "My pacemaker! My pacemaker stopped!"

On Sunday, the wife and I strolled over to our friends' place a couple blocks away to eat many buckets of chicken and drink beers and basically waste time until nightfall when the fireworks would begin over Lake Union. The only problem with this idea was, once people had eaten and settled in with beers, there wasn't anything to do but sit around and mock things (this is what happens when actors get together). So we turned on the TV, that most mockable of media. We were instantly rewarded with visions of Barry Bostwick, garbed in an alarming cobalt suit, yell-singing something at us from the bowels of Washington D.C., surrounded by thousands of aggressively white people who cheered and generally went crazy at pronouncements to the effect that America is pretty swell. It was, of course, gaspingly horrible, and we ate it up, even when appalling entities like Clay Aiken were trotted out to tonsil up some patriotic rah-rah vibratos: my friend P. remarked, "If I were fourteen, I'd totally be in love with him!" I understand. However, this is why young teenagers don't get to vote. Ten years ago, we might have had to endure President Carrot Top and his cabinet of Jerky Boys.

When we got bored of that, we also found, on public TV, for God's sake, an extended commercial for old Lawrence Welk DVDs. They showed much ancient footage featuring doddering weirdos in mindbending toupees, and frighteningly corseted women attempting to breathe, and of course footage of old Larry grabbing old, startled women and forcing them to leadenly dance with him. He would seize their arms savagely, and the poor old hens would try and make their legs work while Welk grinned vampirically, as if to say, "America! I'm eating your old women! And I'm loving it!" This is to say nothing of his vaunted side players, who were visions of horror. At one point, they showed a terrifying she-beast gnawing relentlessly on some forgotten melody, and I screamed, "It's Divine! She's going to eat a dog turd at the end of this song!" Sadly, that particular episode had not been directed by John Waters, so we were denied that payoff.

Later, of course, we retired to view the fireworks, which, seriously, are really boring. The wife and I viewed them from our patio, and it says something when the loudest cheers are reserved for the smiley faces. "SMILEY FACE!" screamed the people on the balcony. Wow, yes . . . it's a smiley face. Do you also scream at Ziggy cartoons? Because that's just about as exciting. More puzzling was the semi-political commentary: "FUCK GEORGE BUSH!" screamed one guy after a vague purple explosion. Was he seeing something I wasn't? "This is the SHIT!" screamed another after that one pyrotechnic effect that looks like hair growing in the sky. It is? I obviously fail to appreciate the aesthetics of your average fireworks show, which seems to me about as interesting as Laser Floyd. Perhaps if I hadn't given up pot.

But it's all over now. Back to work tomorrow, where I will resume my new terrifying supervisory role. Which I am supremely incapable of fulfilling; I'm going to really irritate a lot of people over the coming months.

Now that's American.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

Glad to know I'm not the only one who doesn't get the big fecking deal about fireworks. They're dull, damn it! Okay, the first few I can muster up an "oooh, pretty, sparkly light!" but within a minute my attitude shifts to "can we go inside now? These mosquitoes are vicious."
I'm also a little bitter because I broke up with my last ex on the Fourth last year...but it still makes me giggle to look back on when we were fooling around and the fireworks started going off, and I yelped, "holy shit, I didn't think that happened outside of crappy movies!" or something along those lines. It was funny in the moment...
Nobody wanted to know that. I know.

Comment number: 004916   Posted by: CG on July 6, 2004 01:46 AM from IP: 68.160.210.117

"AAAAAAHHHHHH!" Sploosh! (Pause.) "My pacemaker! My pacemaker stopped!"

Sixy-Vision: "My babymaker! My babymaker stopped!"

DAMN AND BLESS YOU, JOHNNY 13!

Comment number: 004917   Posted by: avogadro on July 6, 2004 06:29 AM from IP: 24.75.116.128

Hi back.
My gov. spends $100 000 on fireworks on the first. Yours should try it.


non-merican

Comment number: 004918   Posted by: annielaurie on July 6, 2004 07:36 AM from IP: 216.209.247.185

OK, look dude, you can mock Barry Bostwick and fried chicken and Clay Aiken (but I repeat myself), but when you dare to impugn Laser Floyd, YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR!

Comment number: 004919   Posted by: TheBrad on July 6, 2004 07:50 AM from IP: 216.114.64.26

Am I the only one around who thinks working for Skot would be fun, if only for the horrifying storiies one would be able to share with cow-orkers over Angry Hour sloppy shots at the local grumpy watering hole?

Comment number: 004920   Posted by: DaveP on July 6, 2004 05:06 PM from IP: 208.210.144.28

Nice Timberlake Wertenbaker reference.

Comment number: 004921   Posted by: Tim on July 7, 2004 09:49 AM from IP: 12.172.137.4

"...Paycheck. A most ironic title for a movie based yet again on a Philip K. Dick story, who himself spent a large part of his life searching for same."

I know I'm behind the 8-ball here, but I just need clarification on one thing: Did Philip K. Dick spend most of his life searching for his dick, or searching for a paycheck?

Comment number: 004922   Posted by: apple chunk on July 14, 2004 03:37 PM from IP: 172.148.210.240

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