Not So Funny Now, Is It?

Poor John Spragens is trying to have an intelligent conversation about Joel Stein’s piece in the LA Times on Tuesday over at Pith in the Wind. It quickly devolved into the usual “I can read liberals’ minds”, “I’d read conservatives’ minds but they don’t have any” bullshit that happens when you don’t keep the well-being of the community in mind (But shout-out to my buddy Jon for being the funniest motherfucker ever).

Which is too bad because it’s actually a thought-provoking piece. Stein is clearly trying to be funny, to make some kind of humorous commentary on all the “support the troops” bullshit. And the people you’d expect to be outraged are properly outraged.

But I haven’t seen anyone ask the question I’m about to ask, which is, is this funny?

I think I have a pretty broad sense of humor. I love “South Park” and am probably the only person who snickers at “Drawn Together” and I laughed all the way through The Devil’s Rejects. So, I’m not immune to outrageous humor.

But I didn’t find this funny at all. I can’t decide if it’s not funny because the whole situation is too raw or if it’s just not funny because it’s not well-written.

But I think it’s not funny because it’s too trite. The whole problem most liberals have with this war is that the world is a complex place and that this administration is and has been waging this war as if “close enough” is the same as certainty. And so to see someone who opposes the war in Iraq casting blame for the war so casually, as if holding whoever he can accountable–in this case the troops–is the same as actually holding the administration accountable, reeks of hypocrisy to me.

Troubling Revelations about Elvis Costello

[Let me just say up-front that this post deals tangentially with Sarcastro. I know some of you–Sarcastro especially–live for my posts about him, so here we go.]

First, you must know that I have a high tolerance for convivial bullshit. I like good-natured teasing and stories told with a hint of “maybe it didn’t happen quite like this.” And probably anyone who knows me knows that there’s always an air of good-hearted dissimulation. In other words, if it doesn’t really matter and it’s easy enough to fake my way through it, I’m faking my way through it.

Second, Sarcastro and I have a friendship based on mutual admiration and the belief that we’re smarter than the other. I mean, Sarcastro thinks he’s just a tiny bit smarter than me and I think I’m just a tiny bit smarter than him, and on such pompousness and charity, our friendship is built.

Third, Sarcastro is obtuse. I can’t think of any specific examples of his obtuseness, but, in many ways, hanging out with Sarcastro is like boating on the Mississippi above Alton. You’re going along just fine down the middle of what you think is a deep and wide river, when all of a sudden, you’ve run aground. It’s one of the most startling things about him, because, he’s 95% of the time so astute that you just take for granted that the other times he must clearly get what’s going on.

And, you know, I’m not perfect. Since I was kept in a hermetically sealed tube for most of my life, lacking basic necessities like cable and access to a big city and good radio stations, there’s a lot of pop culture shit that I just don’t know–books I haven’t read, movies I haven’t seen, music I haven’t heard.

So, the other day, Sarcastro lends me Elvis Costello and the Imposters – Club Date – Live in Memphis, because he’s got this idea for a book that came to him while he was watching the extras on this DVD. And he sells it like this “Listen, I have this great idea for a book. Elvis Costello writes about Delta blues places…” and I’m totally like “Well, hmm, that sounds like a good idea but…” totally trying play it off like “Does Elvis Costello even want to write a book?”

But really, I’m thinking, Elvis Costello? Isn’t he the dude in the hat?

Yes, that was the extent of my Elvis Costello knowledge–he’s some dude in a hat. But I take the DVD anyway, because I’m not about to admit to Sarcastro that I wouldn’t know Elvis Costello if he were sitting across the table from me.

It turns out he’s British. And that he sings some songs that sound vaguely familiar. And he’s good, so that was a nice treat. But from watching the extras, it turns out that dude’s in his fifties.

How do I totally miss out on a long musical career like that? Are there other things I’m missing out on and don’t know it? The whole incident troubles me.