The Novel is My Lottery

Today I was having a discussion about stuff, stressful stuff, and I remarked that the Butcher buys a lottery ticket every week, just for the chance to dream about winning. And there’s a way in which writing is like that for me. It is my dream of winning.

I still remember that it was the Corporate Shill who was taking a class on experimental fiction and she would come back and tell me all about these strange books with these strange conceits and each one sounded more marvelous and strange than the next. This is a book about you and how you go to the store and buy a book only to find out that the book isn’t complete, so you go back to the bookstore and get a different copy, hopefully one that is not defective, and it’s a completely different story, and one that still doesn’t have an ending. Or there is a book of sonnets written in French and each line can be swapped out with any other of the lines at that same row in any of the other poems. Or there’s a book that comes loose in a box and you can read it straight through or you can read it in the order the author says which jumps you all over the book or you can just read it in whatever order you want. There is a garden of forking paths.

Once you know that’s what literature can do, how can you not try your own strange thing, you know?

And yet, I’m not sure that strange things win the lottery. Is a row of sevens really as likely to win as any other combination of numbers? It seems like probably not, but if playing all sevens is your thing, how can you then stop yourself?

I don’t know if this is self-doubt or existential angst, really. I go down both paths.

Stevie Wonder’s Dog

Did I ever tell you about how, when I was little, my dad told me he ran over Stevie Wonder’s dog? He had this whole elaborate story about how he and his brothers had been at a Tigers game and how they left early to avoid traffic, but were in the handicapped parking area because of my uncle and my dad was driving and, oops, Stevie Wonder was at the game, too, and Dad hit his seeing-eye dog and I went to school and told everybody and my dad still thinks that’s the funniest thing ever, that I would so gullibly believe that he hit Stevie Wonder’s dog.

I dream, someday, of somehow running into Stevie Wonder and having him call my dad and say “So, you’re the asshole who ran over my dog.”

Booker T

I’m listening to Robert Gordon interview Booker T and I am blown away. It is literally one of the most informative, entertaining interviews I’ve heard in a long time. And Booker T’s voice is so beautiful. One thing about the South, which Hollywood never gets right is that not only are there just a shit-ton of regional dialects–for instance, someone from West Tennessee sounds nothing like someone from East Tennessee and neither sound particularly like someone from North Carolina–but there are also different dialects by age.

There’s a way, for instance, that old Southern men who’ve been to college talk that sounds much different than how everyone else who’s been to college, certainly I’ve never heard it in anyone younger than 60.

And there’s something about the way that Booker T pronounces his vowels, the way they sound like the fill up his whole pallet before they make their way into the world that sounds like…

Holy shit! Now he’s talking about his years at Indiana University!

People, I tell you, old Southerners have a college accent!

“Sam Bacile”‘s “Movie”

Now they’re saying there is no Sam Bacile, may not even be a whole movie, just some dude who used stereotypes of Jews (who of course control Hollywood) and of Americans (who of course watch blasphemous crap) to end up endangering Egyptian Coptics by pissing off Muslims with a long movie trailer.

I have a lot of thoughts, most of which are ill-formed and ill-informed. But the Butcher watched the trailer last night and we were both howling at how bad it was. But it strikes me that it apparently seems utterly plausible to a great swath of people that we would watch crap like this in all seriousness. Which, you know, on the one hand, we as a country totally would, but on the other hand, if we are going to make a movie about how blood-thirsty and perverted non-Christian religions supposedly are, we’re going to get Mel Gibson to direct it, you know? It’s going to be a spectacle of offensive stereotypes, terrible but beautiful to look at.

But maybe not. Maybe a strange truth to come out of this is that most of the movies we export are so awful that it’s not immediately clear to people that this is obviously a con job of some sort.

Situations like this tear me. Obviously these folks have a right to make whatever kind of movie they want and I don’t want the government to step in and stop them. But this was specifically designed to insult people and piss them off. And obviously, the people who were insulted and pissed off to the point of violence? Their actions are on them. It’s not like this is “Bacile”‘s fault to the exclusion of the people who actually did it.

But “Bacile” reminds me of those guys who put ads on Craigslist setting up encounters for their wives or girlfriends to be “raped” by someone when really, surprise!, they’re having their wife raped. It’s not a direct analogy, obviously–the husbands/boyfriends have more legal culpability, for one thing–but there’s something about folks who not only know what a potential outcome will be but seem to be instigating that outcome that is really fucked up.

Something like this seems designed to see how many people it can hurt.