Outside the Strib, Nov. 12

It didn’t snow Tuesday morn. It didn’t even try. I woke, stretched, threw open the shades expecting to see Instant Winter, a sight that always makes me think of the horrid screech-clank chord from “The Shining” when we see the frozen Jack, the Nicholsicle, staring ahead with dead eyes. Nothing. I blame Bush. But rumor has it that the snow is due tonight, in quantities that will paralyze the land. We will see. Me, I will dream of cacti.

You can always visit snow.

Woke early. Went back to bed. Woke with the alarm. Ignored it. Slept late. Gnat slept very late. Life is gooooood. Got her on the bus, went to the office, filed a column, and now I’m here in the second floor coffee shop, looking at the rain and listening to Beethoven’s first piano concerto. Ain’t I culchered. Today’s list of things to do is rather small; do the Institute update, write a column, scan some postcards, and rewrite a Joe chapter. (Two more until the book’s ready to sell – then I can spend December on the Gallery proposal, and greet 2006 with two books in the hopper.) So let’s get to it; later.

Just came over the wires: “50 Cent signs book deal.”


Upon further reflection, rewriting the chapters for the sixth time isn’t helping them any. So I’m just going to send it as is, and let my agent weed it out.

So I’m done. It’s off in the mail tomorrow.

That’s an odd feeling.

Now the iPod is playing the first movement of Mahler’s 6th; I tell you, if ever there was a boon to clarinetists who are perpetually sharp, it’s Mahler. You can’t not play that stuff sharp. Also the only composer who ever took the SNL skit dictum “more cowbell” to heart. On the jacket of one of the books I have – his letters to Alma look like a 3/4 scale model of Frank Lloyd Wright; same sort of damn-the-fools-history-will-judge-me-well posture we used to associate with artists.

Not anymore. I was reading Entertainment Weekly – which passed on reviewing the book, so I can savage them for a year before starting to kiss up again – and came across a story on Sarah Silverman, a female comic famous for swearing and “breaking taboos.” Because, as you know, we have so many taboos, and the penalties for breaking them are so severe. The article talks about the “disconnect between her feminine beauty and the decidedly unfeminine spew that comes out of her pretty mouth.” According to this article, this includes “the final gag in ‘Jesus is Magic,’ when she comes on stage for an encore and sings ‘Amazing Grace’ in three-part harmony with her butt and her vagina.” How very transgressive. You know, that was the thing I thought was missing from every performance Ingrid Bergman ever gave. She never harmonized out of her butt. Would have brought a whole new meaning to “here’s looking at you, kid,” but it would have been better. More honest! None of that hypocrisy! I mean, are we supposed to believe that Ingrid Bergman never used the bathroom? C’mon, man. The article continues: “Silverman admits that Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t love all of the material she does at his expense (she recently serenaded him on his show with a song about his chronic diarrhea)”

And wouldn’t it be funny if she threw a pail of the stuff in his face? I mean really! Oh lighten up. The punchline comes when the comic admits what she won’t joke about. She pauses, and says “Personally, I wouldn’t make jokes about fat women. It just bums me out. I think all women in their heads. I know I talk about rape and stuff, so it’s completely ridiculous.”

Attention up and coming comics! There is a massive wide huge gaping hole through which you may now stride, if only you will come with a drop-dead funny routine about how Sarah Silverman’s fat off-key vagina! It’s the last taboo! Have at it! The article concludes with the comic pressing her face against a store window, leaving a grease imprint, and drawing a sad face in the slime. “Could it be that maybe deep down inside, the funniest and lewdest woman in America is indeed a crying clown? I run the theory by her. And without missing a beat, Silverman laughs and fires back, ‘how do you know it’s not a rainbow?’”

A rainbow that ends in a pot – of diarrhea! Okay, I’ll grant she may
be high-larious; sometimes a good blue act can be mercilessly amusing. It’s the mainstreaming of shite jokes that annoys me. There’s a big pull quote in the story: “It’s nature for a comic to tell jokes about their boyfriend. When I do it, it becomes a joke about Jimmy’s balls.”

That’s nice, dear. Thank you for sharing. And you’re absolutely right. These are crucial taboos, and you are brave. The downside to the phrase “Jimmy’s balls” in big letters in a mainstream PG-13 entertainment rag? You’re right! There’s no downside at all!

I predict that competitive projectile vomiting will be a reality show by 07.

Oh, it’s coming down now. Must be half an inch on the ground. Blizzard! By the modern wussified standards of this state, I suspect the schools will not only be closed tomorrow but razed, just in case. But while this is hardly a storm of note or consequence, it is unpleasant. The snow is hard and sharp. A good blizzard is thick and constant and confident. This one is petty and snide. It could be a blog comments page with two-line ripostes from drive-by snark merchants hiding behind fake yahoo accounts.

But of course:
So we stayed inside; where else to go? Turned up the heat, turned on the fire. The smell of the warmth is one of the comforts of the season; the aroma of heated air triggers some neuron responsible for flooding the brain with COZY signals. Makes you want to sit by the window with something mulled, and mull. Makes you want to listen to tinkly careful piano music, preferably something irrigated with draughts of deep contented cellos. All that krep. It’s times like this I wished I lived far away, and saw only a trackless expanse outside the window in the morning. A forest at the end of the field. After breakfast - sturdy porridge and hotcakes and eggs and mulled coffee – we’d lace up the horses, or whatever you do, and go to the forest for wood. Then we’d double back because we forgot the fargin’ jingle bells, which are obligatory. After getting the wood – which had been felled, chopped, and heaped by the servants the day before – we would head back and have some mulled bourbon, then stuff a turkey with sage and play whist, content in our splendid isolation, so far from the madding crowd. And when granddad got the appendicitis, we’d shoot him. Sorry, old chap. Viking funeral, everyone! Viking funeral! Get your marshmallows!

Off to bed. New update to Patriotica here, a sad reminder of the days when nearly everyone agreed there was actually a war on, and it had to be won. With Lysol, if need be. See you tomorrow.