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Tuesday, 03 May
That's How I Get By

I recently picked up the much talked-about novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, written by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's getting a lot of play in the press because 1. it is a novel about 9/11 and 2. Mr. Foer is only eight years old, so his accomplishment is that much more remarkable.

The book does have a lot going for it. It is a hefty tome, but not dauntingly so, so it could be used, say, to flatten chicken breasts in the kitchen. On a more aesthetic level, its professionally bound hardcover version makes a satisfying THWOCK! when hurled against a wall--a sound so pleasing, actually, that I enjoyed throwing the thing against many surfaces, including the ceiling, the floor, and in one memorable instance, my wife, who made her own interesting noise.

It could also be used as an effective warding tool for fending off small bats attempting to entangle themselves in your hair, it occurs to me. The book is certainly massive enough to kill many bats, provided your aim was true.

But it must be admitted that the book is not good for everything. Among the things I would recommend against doing with it are opening it, reading it, attempting to enjoy it, or in any way attempting to consider it as an enjoyable piece of literature. Foer's writing is so excruciating, so grating, so cloying that . . . that I'm out of "so"s. I did not last more than fifty pages, and already by then I'd been subjected to a supremely insulting amount of from-the-mouths-of-babes fake profundities, dorm-room blue haze "what if?"s and, to top it all off, CrAZy paaaaage

LAYOUTS AND typography

that I did the only rational thing, which was to fend off the bats attacking my hair. Maybe they were trying to get at the book, in which case I am certainly sorry for killing them.

This book is so intolerable that I can only assume that it's being made into a Hallmark TV movie with Rosie O'Donnell.

But the weekend wasn't all bat-attack this and spousal-abuse that! Oh no! Something quite wonderful happened! I watched a little movie called--stop, my heart!--Cabin Fever!


I need to calm down. Okay. If you haven't seen it--SPOILER STUFF--Cabin Fever is, on its face, a standard-issue Teen Meat Stuck In A Cabin Waiting To Die kind of film, but this film simply jettisons the Jason or Freddy or Michael in favor of something even better: flesh-eating disease! Yeah, run from that, Geek-O! Can't fuck your way out of this one, can you, Hot Slut? (I mean, not that they ever do. But in THIS movie, it's not the hot slut or even the black guy [there isn't one] who gets it first! It's the tease-y virginal type!)

The film takes pretty much every stock teen horror trope and then starts fucking with them one by one. Geek-O Hero is sort of a cruel asshole and not very heroic! Mindless Drinking Lout kinda tries to behave admirably! Skeevy Blonde Guy . . . well, he's skeevy and pretty much hateful, but whatever.

I won't even try to talk about the jaw-dropping scene featuring a demented towheaded kid with . . . biting issues, or the sight gag involving an unfortunate harmonica player. You'll just have to treat yourselves to them.

All of this, and the movie does have some horror chops as well. I mean that in a good way, not in a Rosie O'Donnell or Jonathan Safran Foer way. I preach the gospel now. The gospel of Cabin Fever. (END SPOILERS.)

I also preach the gospel of profligate drinking with friends, and to that end, the wife and I took our friend K. out for drinks on Saturday in belated celebration of her birthday. We went to a tiny little cubbyhole of a place called Bleu, helpfully located mere blocks from our homes.

Bleu's name is somewhat mysterious, as there is nothing identifiably blue in the place, which is all wood grain, dimly lit and claustrophobic. As best as I could tell, the name referred to the sounds you would make into your toilet after a few too many of their lethal drinks. BLEU! (This is an admittedly similar theory to my wife's on how grappa came to be named. All I can say is, maybe it's just that a lot of French and Greek words sound like vomiting noises. I don't know.)

Bleu's M.O., you see, is to charge you a nervy $8 or $9 per drink, but their pours make you see why. Order a martini? Here it is! Oh, and here's a backup glass to handle the overfill--so you're getting like a drink and a half or more per order. This became interesting when I momentarily lost my mind and decided to have a shot of Laphroaig, which is a high-end single malt scotch that, according to K., tastes like "shoes." I received my glass, and the wife observed, "Wow, nice pour." Indeed. It was easily the heftiest shot of scotch I've ever seen outside of my home, my friends' homes, or the homes of casual acquaintance/lushes. I really enjoyed it, as well I fucking should have, as I found out later that it cost me fourteen bucks. (Sadly, not the most I have ever paid for a drink.)

After a delightful while of this, we galumphed back over to K.'s apartment, where she treated us to a slideshow of her recent Hawaiian vacation, gabbling along merrily and tipsily, describing all their adventures (she and her boyfriend), many of which seemed to involve insane things like hiking, enjoying the outdoors, and getting close to lava flows. Her tipsiness also led to some enjoyably fond and nuttily specific recollections. On their little rented bungalow or whatever, she confided happily: "We had a toaster oven." On black sand: "That's black sand!" It sure is!

But this is the way you--well, I--dig on stuff like this. Most of the time, looking at pictures of people's trips and shit like that is a real drag. "And here's a grainy shot of my thumb and half a church! Oh, and this is where we saw a dog! He's not in the photo, though." (Mine are certainly like this.) But sitting around doing the woozy recall two-step? Sign me up.

They had a toaster oven, Jonathan Safran Foer! That was black sand, Rosie O'Donnell! You hear me? Are you listening?

Ahhhh, you do what you want. I don't care. I've got Cabin Fever. That's all I'll ever need.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


i wish all book reviews were like this.

Comment number: 005761   Posted by: bushra on May 3, 2005 02:34 AM from IP:

I want the six hours back that I spent reading "Everything is Illuminated." To phooey with precocious Jonathan Safran Feck-off.

Not that I'm jealous he got published, or anything.

Comment number: 005762   Posted by: Jane on May 3, 2005 08:49 AM from IP:

Whenever someone tries to bring up Jonathan Safran Foer in conversation I just go:"More like Jonathan Safran NO-SIR!" This ends things quickly and we can all get on with our lives.

Comment number: 005763   Posted by: rhorsman on May 3, 2005 11:33 AM from IP:

Heh. Someone else who appreciated Cabin Fever. Teens humping, people set on fire and FLESH-EATING VIRUS. What the hell more could you ask for?

Comment number: 005764   Posted by: CG on May 5, 2005 12:22 AM from IP:

Hey! HEY!

Spouse abuse is NOT FUNNY!!!

Now CLOWNS! CLOWNS are funny!

So next time, have your wife put on the greasepaint before you wallop her. Otherwise, it's just sad and tragic.

Comment number: 005765   Posted by: Jado on May 5, 2005 09:28 AM from IP:

i was incredibly confused for a bit there, because my brain someone registered 'cabin fever' as 'cabin boy' (the chris elliot film with david letterman and the monkey). VERY confused.

of course, that's not really had to do... but... yeah.

Comment number: 005766   Posted by: koroshiya on May 11, 2005 02:26 PM from IP:

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