Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I experienced a strange form of synchronicity yesterday, as I suffered from a serious stomach virus while California held its recall election. It literally started at about the time the polls opened, and the fever broke just as the "Daily Show's" live coverage began. Accordingly, I emerged from my clammy intimacy with the toilet to discover that Arnold Schwartzenegger was the governor of California. And it all made sense. Somehow my convulsions were a sympathetic reaction to the pangs wracking California.

So, here's hoping that California doesn't suffer from a "morning after" like I'm feeling today.

But, because the California recall is even less meaningful than the usual political drivel, I have a few thoughts that might be more worthy of your time:

1. John Adams, by David McCullough, was a fine biography and history, but contrary to the prevailing winds of opinion, I thought it wasn't as good as Joseph Ellis's bio of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx. I was particularly taken with McCullough's ending, in which he noted that Adams (ever the stolid New Englander) had refused to have an epitaph, and offered this line from one of his letters as a fitting epitaph for Adams:

"Griefs upon griefs! Disappointment upon disappointment! What then? It is a gay, merry world notwithstanding."

God grant that we could all have such an epitaph. And God grant that we could reconcile ourselves to our greatest enemies, as Adams and Jefferson did.

2. Other fine books that I have read recently include "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big, Hungry Bear" and "Sometimes I Like To Curl Up In A Ball." Both are epic works of literature, full of adventure and tension. Frankly, I feel that "John Adams" would have benefited from more focus on wombats and strawberries.

I am also pleased to report that as the little guy gets older, he turns more of his attention to looking at the book and less of his attention to trying to eat it.

3. I've been getting more and more into the album "Shootenanny!" by The Eels. It's definitely an interesting mix; the lyrics seldom match the tone of the accompanying music (except in the mournful "Restraining Order Blues"), and the songs get under your skin in the most interesting way. Given the overwhelming tone of depression on the album (even in the uptempo songs), it seems particularly apt that the lead singer's side project is a jokey series of dance tunes under the nom de plume "M.C. Honky."

4. "Mr. Show: The Third Season." I've seen every episode at least a dozen times by now, and I still love them. At its best, Mr. Show was hilarious and achingly smart -- and the third season was the very best. Run, do not walk, to buy these discs. Give them as Christmas presents. Use them as drink coasters. Decorate the house with them.

 11:18 AM

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