The other day my father, who needs to assert his place in the world, bought a shiny black BMW and unloaded his ancient Honda onto me. At long last after May's debacle, I once more have a working carexcepting the nonfunctional tape deck and the weird complaining whine of the radio.
But he who inherits his father's
1984 Honda Prelude
inherits the strife of generations,
holding the Scythian bow
backbent in his hands,
washing away the death stain accursed.
Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers
It says something that we had to wait for the New York Times to give a cogent analysis of what this election means for Arizona. It certainly would be nice to swing this one away from rampant conservatism; when I was growing up, Tucson was the one little liberal outpost in this state. These days it seems much less so.
Ken Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion. I stayed up until three to finish this one, and I don't know what higher approbation there is. For the first fifty pages or so I wasn't at all sure about itmy old-maid Workshop hackles rose against the irresponsible mixing of person and tense, the page-long parentheticals, the rampant italics and ellipses, the pausing of action to say portentous things like "Reality is greater than the sum of its parts, also a damn sight holier." I would have written the whole thing off as Beat excess, but for the real people who were undeniably taking shape on the pagethis wasn't your typical Beat solipsism at all. And then Kesey's actual inspiration became very clear; he's taking after Grandaddy Faulkner. The mythic family rivalries, the deep extraction of a small town's soul, the narrative tricks that are avant-garde but always in the service of character: they're all there. And Lee Stamper out-Quentins Quentin Compson. Note that I'm not slamming Kesey for being derivative; a good homage to Faulkner is far better than anything most of us are ever likely to do. No question Oregon needed this.
The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. These folks have been in a rare aerie at least since Clouds Taste Metallic. This album is a more direct take on the strategy they've been employing for some time, which is to address science-fiction clichés so earnestly that they completely bypass camp and become downright affecting. At first it's merely cute when Wayne Coyne sings about the robot who tries to learn love or the black-belt karate girl who is going to save the city, but by the time he comes around to asking point-blank "Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?" the music-box melodies and keyboard bloops start to seem a lot less silly and a lot more solemn than you first thought. This sort of thing is damned hard to pull off; I can think of some Japanese animation that achieves a similar effect, but that's about it.