Monthly Archives: January 2008

looking homely, angel

1/30/08

Hey, so we’re going to be in Chapel Hill on Monday to guest-lecture for the brilliant Peter Kaufman again, so I hope to see some of your shiny faces soon. Alas, the Lulubeans is staying in California for our brief visit, so Godmother Annie, you’re just gonna have to come out here!

I will be attending my 23rd home dook game in a row, and will be worked up into a stiff lather. This year, I’m bringing my nephew Sam, who has long been a Heels fan, and miracle of miracles, applied to Carolina and is awaiting their decision. There is no better candidate, in my book (and many of you know what an incredible person he is) but some decisions are left to higher powers.

But, you know how I have a wife named Tessa, and she’s completely and utterly awesome too? How she’s put up with my shenanigans and loves Roy and Tyler and Wayne and Danny as much as anyone in North America? I haven’t yet found a ticket for her, so if anyone out there in blogland happens to know of one or two seats floating through destiny, please let us know. You would enable a hot blonde to turn sky blue yelling for our guys!

check one two

1/29/08

StrikeFullViper(bl).jpg

Anatomy of a band gig

For a full year now, I’ve been semi-secretly playing in a band here in Los Angeles. I’ll semi-use the term “semi-secretly” because it’s really been an exercise in Approaching Things Differently, and as such, I’ve kept the whole enterprise pretty low-key for myself. Only my wife and a few friends have heard about the shows from me, even though the rest of the band can typically draw 40-50 people on a rainy night without even trying. On Sunday night, we played a gig at the Viper Room in Hollywood, and it was pretty amazing. Our name? The Strike.

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the marquee outside the Viper Room, 1/27/08

The Viper Room has always been legendary, even before River Phoenix died outside. It didn’t just house every band you’ve ever known, it was other projects like the Pussycat Dolls, co-founded by my stepsister Cyia when they were still a burlesque dancing troupe, who cut their teeth on the tiny stage. Of course, when you say you’re playing at the Viper Room, everyone says, “Wow! Don’t, um, die outside.”

The four of us have been playing together for a full year now: Lauren on vocals/piano, Jim on guitar, Andrew on drums, with me on bass. Lauren is a hot young TV agent, Jim’s a razor-sharp exec at Paramount, and Andrew owns his own cell phone company. I’ve been in several bands where the personalities should have meshed and didn’t; this band, however, is a case study in how to effortlessly get along. Even when the writer’s strike put Jim and me on opposite sides of the divide (with Lauren in the middle), we mostly just made jokes about it. In a business this insane, we’ve mostly used the band to forget about worldly issues for three hours at a time.

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Jim at rehearsal, Sept ’07

Our practice space is on the west side, and usually populated by Los Angeles’ eclectic mix of pissed-off hipsters. We’ve been next door to bands SO FUCKING LOUD that the ceiling tiles were falling on us. We’ve also been next to quintets full of ex-sorority girls singing three-chord pop songs and blisteringly good hip-hop artists.

As for us, Tessa describes our vibe as Aimee Mann meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Actually, that’s what she was saying last year, but I think we’ve actually gotten slightly more classic-pop-song-structure and straight-up punk(ish) since then, so it’s anyone’s guess. What I can say is this: we’re all good at our instruments. I was a B-minus bassist last year and blossomed into a B-plus bassist. Lauren is classically trained on both piano and cello(!), Jim is a total natural on the axe, and our drummer Andrew fucking kicks ass. Also, every time we play out, Econoline-Van-fulls of Andrew’s hot friends from Maryland pile out and create an awesome ruckus.

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Lauren at our gig at The Derby, May 2007

Lauren wrote a ballad a few months back, and I decided to play violin, which meant getting my intonation back – which is not easy, when you’ve been barely playing for the last decade. First, though, I needed a pickup better than the clamp-on foam-mike I was using before, which sounded like I was playing inside a cardboard box at the bottom of a filled swimming pool.

Thank god L.R. Baggs makes a new pickup that is an actual replacement bridge – you remove your original bridge, whittle the Baggs bridge to size (not easy), re-string, and you’re off. It sounds utterly natural, easily the best violin pickup I’ve ever used, and I’ve used plenty.

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placing the bridge over the sound post

Anyway, the Viper Room runs at a tight clip, and our band was allotted the usual 35 minutes exactly. They plugged us in, opened the curtain, and immediately, the smoke machines poured forth, clouding us in the effervescent haze of ROCK. Sunday’s show was long on energy, strong on attitude, and junky on accuracy, but we didn’t care. I got to introduce my violin to the Viper Room, which was a little piece of my childhood made good. What once got me beat up now allowed me to play on Sunset Boulevard. Take THAT, Kent Butler, you goddamn bully in 3rd grade!

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I was going to put a clip of the show on here, but when we talked to the sound guy, he’d forgotten to turn on the RECORD button. We were bummed, to be sure, but as I said, it’s all part of Approaching Things Differently. I have tried to give up both ego and control, the two things that made my life suck so badly in my twenties. Years ago I would have ruined things with my silly opinions, and now I just play the bass. Years ago I would have freaked out hearing the news of our botched recording, but now I understand the gig as an evening that gets better every minute that passes.

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our encore number: “Kiss Me Deadly” by Lita Ford, esq.

rapid ire movements

1/28/08

Last night I had a dream I can’t shake. I never post such things on here, knowing full well that hearing other people’s dreams ties “watching snot dry” for Most Boring, but I’ll make it quick. Basically, Tessa and I were in a giant gathering of our friends (nobody specific) and important business relations and peers, in a huge auditorium in the round. We were all encouraged to speak, and when I took my turn, I basically had a meltdown that embarrassed everyone I knew.

I mean a totally scorched-earth, cannot-be-unsaid rant that was so awful that none of my friends could look me in the eye, and my wife was forced to contemplate sticking with me. As soon as I woke up, the specifics of my transgressions were lost to the sobering sunlight of a beach morning, but the emotional weight stayed with me.

All day, I’ve felt like I’ve fucked something up irrevocably, that my friends are hideously embarrassed of me, and that a special intervention is about to be called on the state of my character. I wrote emails to people, then immediately regretted sending them. We talked to our manager about possible post-strike projects, and I felt shaky and unworthy.

I even watched part of the first season of “Project Runway” on Bravo tonight, and flinched with horrifying recognition at the hatred unleashed on Wendy Pepper, the mom from Virginia. I recognized her odd, insecure defiance, how she seemed to soak in the disgust of her competitors. Here I am, watching reruns of a reality cable show from three years ago, and recognizing how infinitely hate-able I have always been (the sickening byproduct of charm).

The only thing I’ve ever been able to count on is paralyzing self-awareness. I’ve always known what I look like, always been able to tell what everyone thought. When I felt some of that hatred coming my way, fair or not, I always knew how to disappear for a week, seeking the tincture of time.

I hope tonight I dream about robots with big boobs.

pork chops and arkansas

1/27/08

Not that anyone especially needs to hear Johnny Leftist Pinko O’Radical to chime in on the Democratic race for President (as I’ve done for several years now) but things have become much clearer for me personally over the last few weeks. I was a huge Bill Clinton fan from way back in the spring of 1992, when he came to Chapel Hill and met some of us – ostensibly to talk politics, but he embarked on a brilliant rant about the lameness of the “designated hitter” rule in baseball, and it devolved from there. When he won later that year, we joyfully threw our Halloween pumpkins off the roof of the Purple House on McCauley Street, and I was ushered quickly into Adult Political Awareness™.

My affection for the man wavered not, even strengthening during the horseshit of the Monica year, and into the Y2K so-called “Clinton fatigue” peddled by a bored media whose news cycles demanded fresh meat. Y’see, when you spend what seems like your entire life living with Reagan and Bush I, you really appreciate someone from your side of the tracks. I think people forgot about that, which is why there was very little outrage when Bush II and the Supreme Court subverted the American electorate and disastrously changed the direction of history.

Fast-forward to 2005, when the Hillary presidential run began in quiet earnest. I prayed for her not to run, because of this: I don’t believe she can win, and if she does, it’ll be at the cost of one of the most mean-spirited and profane election battles since latter-day Rome. Even after a victory, her term will be marked by vicious attacks from a revved-up right-wing machine and a few particularly rotten members of the House and Senate. There will be no civility, and no partisanship.

I realize this is patently unfair, and pretty much every member of the media has gone out of their way to smear Hillary for eighteen years. She’s had to endure the kind of vitriol that would make the rest of us want to crawl under a rock and die, especially when she tried to do things like “give us all health insurance”. It has been misogynistic and fucking cruel.

That said, timing is everything, and this is not the time for another divisive figure leading our country, fair or not. I might have been able to overlook Hillary’s oft-pilloried polarizing nature, but she has been stunningly inconstant to her constituents on gay rights, and frankly, her votes on the Iraq war (and the Iran resolution) are the decisions of someone who doesn’t fucking speak for me.

It came to a head in New Hampshire, when, the day before the primary, she played the Al Qaeda card. I couldn’t believe she’d stooped that low. My reminisces of Bill notwithstanding, I was done. I would have loved a woman President – in fact, it’s shameful we haven’t had one already – but this (and her behavior in South Carolina) have sealed it for me.

I routinely kept my mouth shut during other disastrous Democratic nominees out of home-team spirit (Dukakis, Mondale, Kerry) and if Hillary is our nominee, I’ll bloody well pull the lever. No matter her flaws, she’s miles above the execrable, war-infatuated McCain. But just think of the true debate, the inspiration and grandeur, the opportunity we have to suture part of our country back together, if we were to choose someone else.

popcornea

1/24/08

Oh sure, I had a great blog to write today, but while I was bathing Lucy tonight, I accidentally put down a bottle of Kiehl’s Liquid Soap Pour Homme too hard, sending a perfect glop out of the tube, straight into my right eyeball. At first, it didn’t hurt too much, and besides, I couldn’t run off and flush my eye with water because I wasn’t going to leave Lucy alone in the bath.

But then the searing agony began. I thrashed my head around like there was a queen wasp stinging the insides of my brain. Honestly, it felt like someone had toothpicked-open my eyeball “Clockwork Orange”-style and was injecting tobasco sauce into my retina with a syringe. I tried not to howl in agony (so’s not to completely freak out my daughter) but finally shrieked “TESSSSSSSSSAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

She came running, and let me thrust my head under the bathroom sink in a vain attempt to dilute the pain. But the soap didn’t seem to be going anywhere, and after lying on the bed moaning, I had to run back to the bathroom and put my eyeball under the faucet for another two full minutes until it went from “life-changing torment” to “fucking cruel and unusual”. Three Advil, quick.

My eye seared shut for a half-hour, during which Lucy (who’s very good at these sorts of things) climbed onto my chest in her pajamas and kissed my throbbing eyeball, saying “I’m sorry.” Oddly, it really did make me physically feel better. That girl is something.

Anyone else done something needlessly painful lately?

no, i have time

1/23/08

Um, yes. I got your piece, and yes, I read it.

First of all, good job on getting it done. I know you have several, um, finishing issues. So that’s something to be proud of.

Yes. Well, I have several comments, but perhaps the best way to start is… okay, have you ever heard of a bathtub story?

No? The bathtub story is where a guy is in the bathtub and thinking about what he wants to do, all the memories he has, and the problems he’s facing. We don’t mind being with him for a while, but pretty soon, we – the audience – realizes he’s never going to get out of the bathtub. And that’s a big problem, because it… um… makes people not want to finish the story.

No, I know nobody is literally in the bathtub in your piece. Nor are they locked in a room or a basement. But one gets the feeling that… well, let me be more succinct. I got the feeling about halfway through that nobody was actually going to do anything. Pretty soon everyone – and I’m including myself here – starts to get desperate for things to go from A to B.

You also do two things that I personally… can’t stand. You use the word “azure,” which nobody says, except when they’re having their first lesbian experience and looking at the sky. Yes, the actual word “azure”. It’s uncanny how many times I’ve seen it.

The other thing? It’s the character who is looking out the window at a swingset while she’s washing dishes. I don’t know, it kind of makes me want to kill myself.

No, not literally. But yes, literally. I know that if I’m reading a story and someone is looking out the kitchen window while they’re doing dishes, I can pretty much take it from there. I know what happens. Meaning, of course, nothing happens, and nothing is ever going to happen.

Oh, and not to pile on, but there are a few things here that might be considered cliché. Every possible sentiment about “the small of a woman’s back” has already been done. Also, a character who says “be careful about what you wish for,” I dunno, I kind of want to punch him in the mouth. And nothing should ever be heightened by the phrase “like crazy”.

One more thing, and I know this is niggling, but spelling “retarded” like “retarted” proves an unintentional point. I’d even go so far as to call it “irony”, or as you say on page 32, “ironical”.

That’s really about it. I mean, overall, it was a… compelling piece. It just needs a slight overhaul of plot, character, and most of what happens in between, like descriptions, word choice, nouns, verbs, stuff like that. Oh, and it needs to be about two-thirds shorter.

No, no – I just hope I was of some help.

nonplussed means something else

1/22/08

We’re sitting atop a mountain here at Mammoth, waiting out a pretty good snowstorm for a day of skiing tomorrow, as we take a very rare two days away from Lucy. I know many parents feel the inexorable need to get away from the baby/toddler vibe every few months, and I totally get it, but Tessa and I have never had that jones. It’s an interesting thing when we actually do it – we slip comfortably back into our 2-person fightin’ unit almost immediately upon leaving, but there is also the concomitant longing for the sweet li’l Punkinpants.

Normally, I don’t write anything when we take these trips (or get my family members to do it, as Michelle did wonderfully yesterday) but the news is so bad in almost every corner of this country, that I wanted to make a little sounding board to see if any of you were feeling despondent, you know, in the general sense.

If the stock market loses 500 points in a day, it’s a crash – but if it loses 1,580 points in three weeks, what do you call it? The housing market is a disaster for anyone not living in LA, NYC or the moon. Iraq is still a bloodbath – nothing can possibly improve while that cruel monkey is in the White House, and the two hopes for the future – Obama and Clinton – won’t stop arguing about irrelevant horseshit.

I understand the irony of saying these things, all the poetry and hypocrisy, while on top of a resort mountain. And I confess I used to have a schadenfreude about bad news in America, as it made me feel better having been right about George M.F. Bush. As each successive horror of his Presidency was unleashed on those who voted for him, I would say, like Lady Montague, “give them the gout! give them the stone!” Those days have long passed. It is all too close to the jugular now, and besides, we want to raise kids in whatever resurrection we can muster.

I remember the summer of 1986, the bright beaches, crazy colors and exceptional pop music. I recall the fall of 1992, when it looked like Bill Clinton would be elected, and how those of us in college felt so hopeful. I sure as hell remember the spring of 1996 and the summer of 1999, and how the internet was going to change everything, how technology would surely save us, and how the tide of money lapped into the living rooms of even our least-organized compatriots.

Now we live in darker days, cocooning, anaerobic, unconnected. Sure, on a day-to-day basis, there is always room for joy and occasional ecstasy, but I think we all know how this era will be remembered. The mathematicians say that tomorrow, January 24 is always the most depressing day of the year. Dare I ask if the country gets better starting Friday?

You guys playin’ cards?

Hello, fair readers. Michelle here, Ian’s little sister, guest blogging for Ian as his family is on a skiing adventure somewhere in the mountains with no internet.

Ian asked me to write about boys. I would, except it would either be extremely dull or extremely fantastic and definitely not very interesting. Although I did have an “Animal House” Flounder moment at the gym today: I was on that contraption that looks like a large torture chair, designed for pull-ups and leg lifts and I was halfway through a third set of leg lifts when I realize a rather tall and strange looking young man is standing in front of me, waving and talking. I, of course, had my earbuds in, my workout mix firmly in the middle of “Groove Is In the Heart”, so I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. He, too, had earbuds in, but didn’t seem to be similarly impaired.

Assuming I must know him, even though I don’t recognize him, I put my legs on the rungs of the chair, pull out an earbud, and say, “… hi?” And he stands there, nods, smiles, and says, after a bit, “You, uh, working out?” I take a moment, look around at the thirty other people in the weight room, look back at him and say, “Yeah. Yep. Um, you?” He starts to answer, but I realize that this is going nowhere, so I put my earbuds back in and resume my lifts. He weirdly followed me from machine to machine for the rest of the hour, but at least he didn’t try to break in again. It reminds me of when I was working on my computer at Ozzie’s, a coffee shop in Brooklyn, when an obviously very sweet but slightly misguided young suitor tried the following line: “I see you have a clamshell iMac. I, too, have a clamshell iMac!” as he fondly patted his bulging messenger bag.

I suppose you could say that both men found the common element, the potential conversation starter, the foot in the door, and that they had the cajones to actually say something. I guess I’m just waiting to be swept off my feet with just a little more eloquence.

So rather than write about boys, I’d like to write about connections. I’ve made several reconnections with old friends in the last few months, and although staying connected can be challenging, I’m really happy that I’m making a new practice of it. When 2007 was drawing to a close, I spent a fair amount of time thinking about how I wanted 2008 to be different. I loathe the whole idea of New Year’s “resolutions”, because resolving to do something is very different than doing it. (To quote Yoda: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”) So rather than making a list of resolutions, I’m actively doing just a handful of things that I believe will make my life better, and one of them is staying in touch with a number of friends far and wide. But I’m also realizing how little I see my friends who live within walking distance of my home.

This last year has taught me that most of the world- or at least, most of the people who live in this little place I call home- might feel the same way. I’ve been involved in a county-wide public process that sought input from the full community on arts issues. We held open meetings in every city and town in this county, and the common theme was that people did not feel connected to one another. People in the small towns- populations of 5000, and even less- felt like they didn’t know what was going on in town, and didn’t even know their neighbors. We heard the same feedback in the city with a population of 75,000.

This reminds me of the study I read that had some terrible number- something like only 1 in 15 people- knew the names of their neighbors. I think that’s sad. As much as it’s great that we have the internet and email and all the other technologies to connect with each other, it’s created, I think, a troubling distance and a lack of real human connection. I feel that lack, and I mourn it. So one of the things I’ve started this year, a little thing that I think can make a difference, is a series of dinner parties. It’s a themed series, and the latest name is Dinner With People I Really Like Who Probably Don’t Know Each Other And Whom I’d Like To See More Often. Every month, I’m going to host a dinner party (which means I get to bake and cook!) with 6-8 colleagues or friends I’d like to get to know better, and who probably don’t know the other folks I’m going to invite.

For my first dinner, early in February, I’ll be cooking for two artists, one microbiologist, one early childhood advocate, one CPA, and a funder at a local foundation. I’m the degree of separation between all of them; we all live within a couple of square miles of each other; and this will be a first meeting for the bulk of them. I think I’ll make lasagna. And pie.

So, dear readers, how do you combat this problem? How do you stay connected with the people you know and love who are far away; and how do you stay connected in your own community?

secondary brake

1/20/08

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our team at the Rutgers game in December – we had kickass seats

Yes, I’m talking about basketball today, so if you’re not interested, please turn your head and cough while I cup your balls. You’ve been warned.

I don’t need to tell most of you we lost our first game this weekend: the number one ranked college team in the nation got beat at home by one of the shittiest teams in the ACC, an 18-point underdog with a usually-bad, always-shit-talking point guard who managed 400 assists. Now, I’m not sure where I stand on the “what does losing teach you” spectrum. There are those who think it’s the best thing ever to happen to a team, and there are those who keep moaning “the only thing losing teaches you is how to lose.”

Because Carolina hoops is my religion, I have to opt for the former. In this day and age, going undefeated is not just about talent, it’s about a zen-like emotional laser focus mostly lost on folks aged 18-22… and luck. There are reasons no team has gone undefeated in the modern era, not since Bob Knight (the patron saint of fucked-up, sociopathic rage-aholics everwhere) did it in 1976, with far fewer games.

Nobody, especially this particular squad, is going to be cool with losing on network television to a team we should have oiled, sanded and shellacked. I have faith that Roy will set them to rights, either by giving them a few days off, or putting the fear of God (However Roy Sees Him) into his players. Certainly, I’m in a better mood than the fingertip pundits unleashing their inner demons on the message boards of Inside Carolina.

Seriously, when did the internet become such a terrible place to find succor when you’re low? Even when we win, our message boards fill with “sky is falling” missives, usually misspelled, heaping rancor on Roy Williams or whatever player hasn’t hit their shots (this week, it’s Wayne Ellington – never mind his mind-blower at Clemson). As with any public gathering, you need to do an immense amount of curation and read entries only from people you can stomach, but at some point that percentage dipped below .01%, which makes it hardly worth your time.

Given that, I’ll voice my worries. I love my Heels. With this particular generation, there’s a lot to love – even ABC’ers have got to find it in their hearts to appreciate the likes of Marcus Ginyard and Danny Green. Ty Lawson is quietly stunning in the way he drives, and has never shown anything but total grace to opponents. As for Tyler Hansbrough, I can see why other teams can’t stand him, or think he travels half the time he has the ball, but that’s only because I’ve harbored such hatred for opponents. As for me, Tyler has been a true inspiration for the last three years, to battle relentlessly through my own shortcomings and find a way to make things work. And my daughter is completely in love with him.

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yes, she’s wearing number 50 and those Play-Doh smiley faces are probably for him

My take on the last few games? We’re simply exhausted. I think we’ve hit something of a wall, and I’m not sure what coaching staffs do about it. I know the feeling: willing yourself past your endurance and then having nothing left, at least for a while. The way this team runs, their tempo, I wonder if it can be maintained. Those defensive screw-ups? It just looked like fatigue to me. It’s not like our guys didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing; the flesh was merely weak.

There’s a name for a team that peaks in January, then gets run so ragged, with so few substitutions in the name of a draconian coach, that they always flame out in March… and that name is “dook”. Please, for the sake of all that his holy, that ain’t us.

What do you do when this kind of thing happens? I mean, besides giving them backrubs and letting them watch “Fried Green Tomatoes?” Are there any sports psychologists around here?

i’m with stupid

1/16/08

There’s something fascinating floating around the internet right now, so if you haven’t seen it, you might want to check out the leaked Tom Cruise Scientology video. Nobody knows exactly where it came from, but it’s a pristine copy (i.e, not filmed from a cell phone) of the introductory video for his Best Scientologist Ever award in 2006. Incredibly magnetic. Creepy, sure, but once he gets going, you’ll either be mesmerized or be reminded of a family member who used to beat the shit out of you.

I’ve been something of a Scientology apologist, because I don’t think it gets a fair shake from intellectuals or theologians. As I’ve oft said, if you’re calling thetan auditing in Scientology “crazy”, then you’ve also got to explain transubstantiation in Catholicism, reformed Egyptian tablets in Mormonism, 83% of the Old Testament, and your lucky Atlanta Braves towel. Scientology’s real transgressions occur on the administrative level (the blackmailing, etc.) but as a belief system, I find it as believable as most others.

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the Scientology cross(?)

But that’s for other entries to tackle. What fascinates me is Tom Cruise’s refrain of “you’re either in or you’re out!” and the perfervid look he gets in his eyes when he talks about being a part of the action, forcing himself to change, offering details about being unable to pass an accident because he – and you, fellow Thetans – are the only ones who can be responsible.

What is it about the Burning Intensity of the Personally Responsible that people find so easy to adore when searching for a spiritual belief system? Two things strike me about this video: the binary, nuance-free essence of being ALL IN – and the clarity offered by accepting TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise, as most people looking for a way out of their addiction, depression or meaninglessness find a lot of help in letting go of the ego and taking responsibility for their actions. Hell, it’s almost the prime directive of AA, an organization for which I have incredible respect. But AA always seems to remain human, and they generally reject orthodoxy with a good dose of humor. Their phrase “one day at a time” has been lost to coffee kitty-cat cliché, but it’s subtly brilliant: they’re not saying you can NEVER DRINK AGAIN, they’re saying “just don’t drink today.”

Conversely, the Scientologists offer their way or the highway, which has got to be attractive to someone who has been strung out on the highway too long. But the constant emphasis on personal responsibility starts to sound a lot less like compunction and more like another drug. Scientology’s distant cousin, the Landmark Forum, dabbles in the same pool: I’ve seen friends emerge from Forum meetings awash in the revolutionary spirit of Taking Back Their Lives From Themselves, and for about three weeks, it’s a crazy ride.

To me, taking ferocious personal responsibility is just the flip side of shame, and not too far from the untreated addict behavior of someone like Mel Gibson or George Bush. Gibson flagellates (or, more accurately, gets off on) his demons by making grisly Bible porn like “Passion of the Christ”, while Bush (by my best guess) sublimates his alcoholism with bizarre bursts of evangelism and thousands of milligrams of antidepressants (which, in turn, makes him behave with wanton cruelty and robs him of the ability to admit – or care – about fault).

Even the most proletariat dime-store psychologist we’ve got going, Dr. Phil, has made millions telling people it’s all their fault. Audiences lap up his admonitions, and infantalize in the presence of his glowing pate. The problem is, self-recrimination may feel good, but like masturbation, its effects are temporary.

I think AA has it right. I sometimes wish there was an AA for non-alcoholics like me, but I swipe the stuff I like: the relief of the happy medium. Understand your faults, but also, make sure to tell yourself it’s okay to fail over and over. There’s nothing more invigorating than an epiphany that you adopt with fiery fervor, but what good is a revolution that doesn’t last the afternoon?