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November 20, 2010

saturday night saloon ep 3

Time for the obligatory Saloon post!

Join me, if you will, at the third episode of the Saturday Night Saloon, presented by Vampire Cowboys, in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, NY, which is cooler than you are.

Six different plays in six different fantastical genres will be presented, episodically!  We're at the halfway point, and each and every play is awesome.  Even mine.  And in honor of the upcoming holiday (not really), the event is free free free (five bucks to drink beer).

And my awesome play, "Jack O'Hanrahan and the One-Sided Window", will be especially awesome, with snappy dialogue and dropped lines, and stellar performances making up for so-so writing.

And I'll be there, wondering if you're coming or not.

Eight o'clock sharp, location in the link above.  Though, show up early if you want a seat.  This sucker draws.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:38 PM

November 19, 2010

bryan fischer: making no friends fast

So there was the Medal of Honor awarded, which I noted because is made me sniffle, and then following there was a small contretemps as Bryan Fischer, a public face of the American Family Association, used the awarding of the MoH to Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta as an opportunity to say that we as a society have "feminized" war:
So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?

This naturally caught the attention of TPM, at least, and became a bit of a public issue.  Which was probably the intent, right?  If your strategy to advance your viewpoint is to do so by hogging the headlines, then saying patently ridiculous things is a way to get there.  But at the same time, there seems to be a bit of an insult to the actual Staff Sergeant who received the Medal of Honor, so you'd expect Fischer to back down.  He did not.

The bottom line here is that the God of the Bible clearly honors those who show valor and gallantry in waging aggressive war in a just cause against the enemies of freedom, even while inflicting massive casualties in the process.

The American Family Association (careful, auto-playing music) is your standard Christian Right social advocacy organization, very prayer-y, but enough "We Hate Gays!" and "War On Christmas!" to obviate any Christliness that might be buried in there.  So my question is, why is Fischer on and on this?  Is it "feminization" that he's trying to straw man?  Or is he going off the reservation with some Audie Murphy flashback?

Either way, it's a mind-bogglingly stupid fight to pick, because all of a sudden it's not just the pinkos and the commie liberals that disagree with Fischer, but also every service member in America, who would disagree that some old coot gets to redefine valor as a function of body count.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:49 AM

i know me some biscuits

So I have a new piece up on The Awl, a little rambling thing about biscuits and the ways one can make them, and I got a comment from my sister on my FB page: "Come on now, did you really have to give up on the rolls?!??!"  Because in the piece I talk about opting to make biscuits instead of dinner rolls because I make biscuits better than I make dinner rolls.  So I saw my sister's comment, and I'm like, wait, am I really gonna make biscuits, or is that just a thing I wrote about?  Or worse, did I just write that even though I do not intend to give up on dinner rolls because pretending that I was would make for a better piece and now will alter my plans accordingly so as not to be that guy?

Like, am I now a little more James Frey than I was before I wrote about the UPMBP?

Hey look, my navel!

Posted by mrbrent at 9:29 AM

November 18, 2010

good morning 11.18.10

I have nothing bad to say about "The Takeaway" this morning, because instead of listening to it I was transfixed by "Mike and Mike in the Morning", ESPN Radio's little morning drivetime concern.  They were interviewing Tiger Woods, who is on some kind of image-rehabilitation media tour, for an entire hour.  I don't care so much about Tiger, but the interview was tough (but polite).  Not so much fawning, many uncomfortable questions.  Actually good, as far as interviews go.

So I guess I'm saying something bad about "The Takeaway" after all.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:04 AM

November 17, 2010

buying the british government

This is from a bit back, but it's a healthy dollop of weird, as Charles Stross notices that someone almost bought the British government.  Not really bought, per se, but offered unknown billions to the British government to aid in international recovery.

The source is a transcript from the floor of the House of Lords, wherein a peer details not only his contact with the shadowy "Foundation X", but also his own personal history of laundering money from terrorist organizations, such as the IRA, and his efforts to find someone, the Bank of England, the Treasury, to take the offer seriously.

The mechanism of this transfer is a bit over my head, but it speaks to the Hidden Mechanisms That Run the world that are so not like anything you are acquainted with.  Conspiracy is the short-hand for it, but that's a dodge.  The legitimacy of the source is verified, and is it some mind-blowing shit.  Very much worth a click-through.  (And a follow-up?)

Posted by mrbrent at 3:33 PM

medal of honor

Sincerely: I defy you to read about the first living recipient of the Medal of Honer since the Vietnam War, Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta, and not get throat-lumpy and something-in-your-eye:
Sergeant Giunta looked down as the president described how he and his squad mates threw grenades, which they used as cover to run toward the wounded soldiers.  All this, they did under constant fire, Mr. Obama said. Finally, they reached one of the men. As other soldiers tended to him, Sergeant Giunta sprinted ahead.

“He crested a hill alone with no cover but the dust kicked up by the storm of bullets still biting into the ground,” Mr. Obama said.

And there Sergeant Giunta saw “a chilling sight” — the silhouettes of two insurgents carrying away the other wounded American — his friend, Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan.  Sergeant Giunta leaped forward, and fatally shot one insurgent while wounding the other.  Then he rushed to his friend.  He dragged him to cover, and stayed with him, trying to stop the bleeding, for 30 minutes, until help arrived.

I'm pretty much one of those anti-war pinkos, but the dudes that volunteer to conduct these wars I don't agree with are at their finest a brave and capable lot, and the Medal of Honor is a start for this particular staff sergeant.  We should make sure that veterans are taken care of, like this fine organization does.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:10 AM

tomorrow: more the takeaway

This is the last time I'll talk about "The Takeaway" ever ever I swear, but the lesson I "took away" from this morning's dose is that the only thing more embarrassing than the hosts of the program trying to out-conversation Dick Cavett is the fact that Mr Cavett is one of those who refers to a weblog post as a blog, as in, "a blog I wrote."

I am an enormous fan of Mr Cavett, and will remain so, but, dude: it's not a blog you wrote, it's a thing you wrote for your blog.  We are building speed and will cross over into delivery-neutrality like, real soon.  They're all just things we write, whether they get read on a desktop or an iPad or fax paper.  Yes, words are still worth getting touchy over.

Also, if you are interviewing Dick Cavett, for Christ's sake let him lead.  If you are stepping all over Dick Cavett in an interview then you don't get to interview anyone anymore.

Here, I even found a link, like a responsible Internet person.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:38 AM

November 16, 2010

mike doughty on the 24 hour plays

You've probably heard of The 24 Hour Plays.  It's been performed here in New York (and literally all over the world) for a long time now &mdash: is it fifteen years already?  I was pretty closely involved with the project for the first ten of those years, which is a whole 'nother story.  But it's still running in its various forms and it is a monumental accomplishment by some of the people I love most in the world.

And recording artist Mike Doughty has an awesome little piece up on his blog talking about last night's show and the Two Four's history and Times Square in general:

I am fiercely in thrall to the sublime mishegoss that is the 24 Hour Plays.  I've done it, now, eight times as a playwright, and three times as the musical-interluder for the Broadway version.  It's a process like no other. Engrossing, terrifying. This year, the plays were uniformly excellent, and they all had a certain 24-Hour-Plays-ness, which is hard to explain, but there's a certain kind of play that's written in a caffeinated smog of fraughtness, and performed by actors inordinately scared and thus bursting with a peculiar adrenaline.

It's ends up with an exhortation of sorts, which I totally agree with, and there's celebrities in there too if that sort of thing moves you.

Also: buy all Mike's albums.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:26 PM

again with the takeaway

This is perhaps the worst part of the terrible "The Takeaway", which is NPR's answer to "USA Today" read to you by robots and morning drunks, and which I am on the record as not liking:

In what I think of as the cold opening, that little teaser at the top of the hour in which the hosts construct a possible reality in which you will listen to the next hour of the program, the hosts of "The Takeaway" never fail to come off as performing in a poorly-written comedy sketch about a radio news program cold opening.  On the good days they come off as the umpeenth iteration of someone's dad trying to act 'cool' and get down the 'lingo' all the 'hepcats' are 'digging', and on the bad days they come off as hosts who have lost a random page of the script.  And then comes the theme and the beeping noises and the de facto devil's advocate interviews with junior professors from community colleges.

I know, I know, stop listening to it (sorry, Zeebs), or even switch over to the FM NPR station, which plays the actually good "Morning Edition".  I hear you.  But it's so terrible I can't pull myself away.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:04 AM

November 15, 2010

even the crappy parts of the world are flat

Realization: any blog post/essay started with something like, "driving through Bartow, FL, on Route 17," or, "talking with an old smoke on the curb that counts as the Greyhound Station in middle Arkansas," makes you a L'il Thomas Friedman.

Sadly I had this realization eating "breakfast" in the "lounge" of a Staybridge Hotel in upstate New York, so there you go.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:35 PM