Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Literary Fiction Rears Its Ugly Head Again

In my never-ending cycle of market research (can it be a market if I never sell anything?), I picked up a copy of Gentlemen's Quarterly (save yer click, no content, just "offer" of a subscription and the cover), which somehow gets published every month. Aside from the eyecandy cover phototeeenay on Eva Mendez, ranked SOTSF (Some Of That + Small Fries), GQ includes some articles, a piece of criticism, and Heaven help me, a Short Story.

So the plot of "Side Angle Side", this month's obra, is: Married middle-aged editor of an alternative weekly paper goes for an illicit weekend with the young hot pants up-and-coming writer. They share some joints and some sex, and then she gets weird on him and they get kicked out of the cabin they'd rented, he drives them home, she's weirder on him, he goes home to his wife and young child, and hot pants writes something weird and resigns. I didn't count, but it looks like it took several thousand words.

This story seemed like deja vu all over again. Didn't I just read that story in Harper's? No, wait, it was a college professor going off with a student, or maybe a struggling writer and a teenage bookstore clerk.

Let's face it, literary fiction in the slicks is too much like Mad Libs for the intelligentsia in mid-life crises. Aside from the occasional sprinkling of pieces containing Cause-of-the-Week imaginings of what it was like to be an oppressed member of the opposite sex in the past or some sort of deviant (sorry, rebellious oppressed spirit), old-dude-sleeping-with-hot-young-chick again (or for once) is all they got. It's the snooty equivalent of a Penthouse letter, and not as titillating.

As every single protagonist in literary fiction could tell you, Thoreau said that most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Because life is the constant struggle against the entropy that the cold universe offers as the only alternative, I guess the desperate struggle sort of makes sense. But it's the quiet part that might bug literary authors. Perhaps they, and their protagonists, would rather rage, rage against the dying of the light by fornicating and affecting adolescence. Here in the Midwest, we rage against the dying of the light by getting up in the morning and going to work.

Maybe once, or twice, this problem, undoubtedly first discovered by Literary writers, of growing older and the hypothesis "struggling through casual sex is good" could have been interesting. If the protagonist had grown, or learned something, or maybe just regretted. Instead, the drugs, booze, and sex have just become Largest-Ball-Of-Twine tourist attractions in the same landscape of quiet desperation that other people, with real jobs, travel through without making those particular stops. Instead, each writer goes through his or her (paging Ms. Jong) own struggle, which includes a lot of humping with no resolution. The protagonists, and the authors, don't seem to get past it.

While I wait for some writer to arise, somehow fighting through the tenured culture of the established writers and established subject matter for the dogmatic slicks and orthodox university presses, to go all Hemingway on the literary bunch and break their walking sticks of his or her head, I'll continue to prefer the genre stylings of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. The types of short stories and novels wherein the protagonists confront a problem and overcome it. Well, not always, but the struggle's admirable.

Of course, I could start the revolution, but I don't have time. After I finish meddling with this sci-fi piece I have open in another window, I have to get to bed. I have to work on Monday.

A Blogger Brethren

Looks like I am not the only blogger who's shopping a book and who links incessantly to his wife. This pseudopsalms fellow does the same.

Thursday, May 29, 2003
Automation Threatens My Job!

I never thought it would happen to me, but /. has shown me that scientists have built a robot that can do what I do.

Once my employer gets one of these, I'll be pounding the pavement looking for a new job or sitting at home eating bon mots while I live on my beautiful wife's bountiful developer dollars.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Long Live Mozilla and the Re-Ascendent <blink> Tag!

I cannot help but recommend that you download the Mozilla Web browser. Not only does pop-under ad blocking come free (and very accurately!), but it accurately renders the oft-maligned <blink> tag. To illustrate, you only need to view today's posts in Mozilla, or go to Lambert Field, the official Web site of the St. Louis airport and the place I first noticed the suhweet blinking.

Party like it's 1995!

Trivia To Make Them Wonder

A ninety minute porn film has a six page script. Drop that nugget into conversation mysteriously-but-knowingly sometime.

It's better if you don't mention you learned it from Business 2.0.

I Was Just Mocking Negra Modelo Yesterday

In a conversation with friends last night, I told some friends that Negra Modelo beer was unpalatable, and that the definition of a Mexican dark beer is beer that is made downstream from las maquiladoras.

James Lileks, in his alway-amusing column "The Bleat", disagrees. He dislikes Corona, but can consume Negra Modelo. Of course, I don't care for Corona, Negra Modelo, or Heineken (the other beer in his column, which takes issue with a Wall Street Journal ranking of favorite beers).

Corona, the number one beer in the United States? What a travesty! What about Guinness Draught?!

Although one thing that Guinness, Heineken, or any American beer lacks is a young, attractive woman billionaire running the show. Grupo Modelo has Maria Aramburuzabala, a bachelorette last time I checked. (Attention, my bachelor reader!)

There's only one way to top a wealthy beer heiress as a mate.

Washington Post Laments Intrusion of Real World into Workplace

Although its fifth paragraph acknowledges that workplace safety has improved significantly in the past, this article in the Washington Post laments how dangerous it is in workplaces these days, especially jobs where you don't get to surf the Internet or talk on the phone all day.

Not content to examine how some jobs are really hazardous, the WaPo brings it home to the white collar and near-white collar employees by telling them how some formerly safe jobs are now DANGEROUS! Suddenly, the world of terrorism, workplace violence, and new super-cool, super deadly diseases like AIDS and SARS are intruding on the workday world, and surprise, surprise, surprise, but employers are choosing not to emphasize the inherent dangers of modern life and how they apply to an above minimum wage but below "living wage" jobs.

Seems to me that the movie Article 99 covered that in 1992. The trailer depicted an angry disabled veteran chambering a round in a semiautomatic rifle as he and his comrades chained each other togethter to protest the cutting of their benefits by the ruthless Republican administration of the era. A hospital administrator tells the army of renta-cops, "Disarm that man!" The rent-a-cop replies, "Not for $5.50 an hour." So you see, the WaPo scooped by an obscure Keifer Sutherland film.

Perhaps the WaPo forgets the days when people died on the job, or Heaven forbid, drank beer while operating industrial machinery on the job, or when children were used because they could crawl into or under the enormous, steam-belching, coal-fed machines. Instead, going to work is in many cases not much more dangerous than going to the mall, but since it's not padded with comfortable, non-toxic foam padding, it's still too dangerous, and someone should do something!

Do It Yourself Reparations

Got a hard-to-meet diversity quota? No problem! Rent-a-Negro to the rescue!

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Trouble Recruiting for Big Parties a Boon for Libertarians?

Fox News reports that the major parties, in particular the Republicans, are having tough times finding candidates for office.

If the Libertarians can field strong candidates, and by strong candidates I mean "not the usual crackpots," perhaps they could win a statewide or national (legislative) election. If only they could field candidates who have a firm grasp not only of the Libertarian platform, but how to explain the platform and its benefits for common Americans without resorting to broadsides against prevailing authority and sounding like they're one rock away from an anarchist, maybe the Libertarians could have a shot.

The blogomockracy is full of able-minded individuals with predilections toward libertarianism. Will any of us hear the call, or are we to wedded to our high-paying blog careers to make the leap into public service?

Someone's Vandalized My Keyword Spam

At one time I was the only Google hit for "Brian J. Noggle is a Cheesehead" but The Artist Formerly Known as the Guy with Blue Hair ruined it by posting something about my admission on his fledgling blog.

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

However, by continuing to repeat that I, "Brian J. Noggle is a cheesehead," at least I shall remain the number 1 hit. And in several days, I shall be the only hit for "Brian J. Noggle is a cheesehead" number 1 hit.

The things I do for recognition.

Point: James DeLong,

James DeLong, in his piece on Tech Central Station, describes the way some peer-to-peer pirates are scrambling for rationalizations now that the Apple Music Store has made individual tracks available cheaply. Seems Apple went and spoilt their excuse that they didn't want to pay $16 for a CD when they only want one track.

Hey, you freaking bloodsuckers, help yourselves to a couple apples or sodas in the supermarket. Maybe drive off in that Hummer you have been admiring, too, while you're at it. Your whole raison d'etre is:

From each according to his ability, to you according to your desire.

Counterpoint: Some Cosmopolitan Open-Source Pinhead

Once, to get my dander up, The Artist Formerly Known As The Guy With Blue Hair provided me this bit of commentary, which he found in some XML source to an introduction to Python (which apparently is not "(A*A) + (B*B) = (C*C)"):
    As I write this, the year is 2000, and the Internet is a battleground of intellectual property disputes. Some people would like you to believe that, without proper financial incentives, music, literature, and computer software would disappear. After all, who would make music if they can’t make money on it? Who would write? Who would program?

    I know the answer. The answer is that musicians will make music, not because they can make money, but because musicians are the people who can’t not make music. Writers will write because they can’t not write. I’ve been programming for 16 years, writing free software for 8. I can’t imagine not doing this. If you can imagine yourself not doing what you’re doing, do something else. Do whatever it is that you can’t not do.
To which I responded, vigorously:
    Truly written from the perspective of an enlightened software developer whose day job is probably some $80,000 a year or more IT position.

    I'm sure the garage band lyricist and songwriter checking this guy out at the 7-11 would differ, or the writer who has to teach three sections of undergrad English while he writes nearly-free (paid in contributor's copies) for unread literary magazines.

    I assume by "appreciate" you DID mean "get your dander up."

    Sure, writers and artists will always create; however, it would be nice to get some sort of market value for it, and not get screwed over by cosmopolitan open-source pinheads.
Hey, buddy, it's 2003, and the deflated IT industry's droopled all over the floor. How's that free software working out for you now?

Point: Harley Sorensen,

Writing about the recent "commencement" speech by the New York Times reporter Chris Hedges that was booed and eventually trumped by the attendees at Rockford (Illinois) College, Harley Sorensen uncovers another tentacle of the vast right wing conspiracy, that is to say, Midwestern values.

Hedges got to a-foaming at the mouth with the treatise:
    I want to speak to you today about war and empire.

    Killing, or at least the worst of it, is over in Iraq. Although blood will continue to spill -- theirs and ours -- be prepared for this. For we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige.
Welcome to the working world, graduates. Your mark will damage our souls and prestige. No, wait, he was talking about the gummint, but with a different tone since his antigummint tone is condescension, whereas the antigummint tone coming from those who disagreed with the previous administration was the raving of madmen. Or something. But Rockford didn't want to hear his antigummint diatribe. They probably wanted to hear about overcoming challenges and accruing enough wealth to retire and not run out of grubzits before the end of retirement.

Sorensen knows to indict the Right Wing because its 11 spices were all over the crispy skin. How does he know They were in on it, and that it was not a spontaneous outpouring of heartfelt disgust?
    In all, it was a remarkable performance by the audience. And, judging from the presence of "foghorns," it wasn't spontaneous. It was planned.
Unlike the spontaneous protests where the audience produces whistles to drown out opposing speakers in cosmopolitan or enlightened towns like Berkeley, right? Foghorns at a graduation = conspiracy! Obviously, the worldly Mr. Sorensen has not spoken at many, make that any, graduations here in the Midwest where foghorns make their presences known at most, if not all, graduations from high school or college.

But Sorensen understands why the audience booed: ignorance! Armed with a transcript, he can at his leisure point out the errors that listeners made while transcribing the speech for a write up. I'll leave it to you, ungentle readers, to read the column to see about what I am talking.

But let me hit, well, not really hit a couple more points. Sorensen saith:
    But even ignorance doesn't translate necessarily into violence. It's rare for me to understand a church sermon, but I've never felt the urge to beat up on a minister because of that.
Interesting. He goes from shouting down to physical violence as though they're merely different settings on the same potentiometer.

Oh, and:
    Yet the Rockford incident had a chilling aspect to it. As described in the press, it could well have been a scene out of the recent miniseries on the rise of Hitler to power in Nazi Germany.

    The difference between the many incidents at Berkeley and the Rockford incident is that, at Berkeley, it's usually the rabble against an Establishment spokesperson. At Rockford, it was just the opposite; the incident had the feel of a government protest against an outsider.
Speechless. Wordless. Perhaps when I can once again work my mandibular musculature and can close my mouth, I can tell you what I think of this comparison and straw army.

Counterpoint: John Leo, New York Daily News

On the other hand, John Leo says, in his column, deal with it.

Think of it as "dialoging with the text."

Monday, May 26, 2003
Musings on the Matrix, Part VII

Yo, mainstream, get a schnucking clue. Everyone, at least everyone who's a sensitive albino, is throwing a shoe over the presentation of the Twins as lightly pigmented. Albinactivists are roaring as loud as they can about the poor light in which these characters portray albinos, since most albinos really don't know martial arts. Or something.

However, textual evidence in the movie would lead one to think that the Twins were not albinos, but ghosts. Remember, they talk about how supernatural-esque beings representing problem programs in the Matrix. Remember, Primeridian keeps old flawed programs like werewolves (two of whom Persephone shoots with silver bullets) around. Ergo, when confronted with a pair of pale characters who can discorporate at will, I don't think of albinos, I think of ghosts.

Unless the albino community has something they're keeping from us.

(On another note, do you think my characterization of Merovingian as "Primeridian" is enough of an offense to the greater geek community to be banished from the Elgeeksian Fields, or has my frequent escapades as an ad hoc software tester already taken care of that?)

Sunday, May 25, 2003
I Don't Want To Hang Out With You Any More, Rob

Far be it from me to step into Aimster's territory (that is to say, blogging about music while wearing a snazzy bikini top that shows my smooth, albeit slightly convex, belly--normally I blog about other things while similarly attired), but Rob, I have got to tell you I am not buying the new album from Matchbox Twenty, or matchbox twenty, or Matchbox 20, or MaTcHbOx 20, or however your keyboard fluctuates this week. The album, More Than You Think You Are. More than I think I am? I don't doubt it. I thought I was a music fan, but obviously I am your therapist, and I am not a good one, because we're not making progress.

Rob, you have been coming to me for almost seven years now since Yourself or Someone Like You came out in 1996. On that album, we covered your bad relationships ("Push"), your lack of connection to reality ("Real World", a wonderful exercise in free-association, don't get me wrong), and apathy ("Hang"). I listened to that album and I really connected to you, man. I was 24 years old and enjoying some late adolescent angst as well. We were commensurating with experience, bub.

Four years later, in 2000, you came back and described a similar set of misery with Mad Season by matchbox twenty. Your relationships remained co-dependent or self-destructive ("Crutch"), your relationships had gone bad ("Rest Stop") and you were in denial ("Angry"), which understandably led you to a sense that something's not right ("Bent") that you want to project to lunar cycles or something ("Mad Season"). Okay, I listened, and I felt bad for you.

But dude, it's 2003. I haven't bought your latest album, and I probably won't. I mean, you're telling me via the radio about your same old girl problems ("Disease") and how that still makes you feel "Unwell", but listen, Rob, I have grown up, gotten a job, and bought a house whose lawn I procrastinate mowing. I have a lovely wife and several cats to take care of. I cannot keep spending long nights in bars and coffeeshops listening to you mumble into your beer or caffe su da.

I mean, come on, life's not so pathological as you make it out. Maybe if you revealed a more playful or optimistic side more frequently (remember Smooth"?). I mean, yeah, it's an existential world out there, but why not describe a sincere love ballad every once in a while. Even Trent Reznor, the Dark Lord of NIN, explained the depth of his love for his significant other in "Closer". Why can't you capture more of that spirit in your work?

That's just what I am saying, man. Listen, I am going to finish up this Moosehead lager and then I am going to head out. You'll be all right? Good. See you.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."