Blog Archives - THE CATASTROPHIZER
 
Rob Ford and the study of grammar have conspired to addle my wits. I don't have a whole lot to say about Rob Ford, in part because everything has already been said, and in part because the situation is so outrageous that on some level jokes and quips just bounce off it. The situation doesn't need jokes, because all the jokes that could be made are somehow already manifest in it.

I will say only that it seems almost like colourful sayings have become somehow imbued with transformative power. "Rob Ford! That guy's on crack!" And voilà! HE IS. Instead of his behaviour inspiring the "That guy's on crack!" because that comment is appropriate because HE IS ON CRACK, it felt like that comment itself might have made the crack smoking happen. It's like figurative language might have started to have literal effects. "Rob Ford! That guy's bananas!"
I don't even know whether what I just wrote makes any sense whatsoever. My brain is sick, because this is what I just finished reading:

"As with the future perfect, [future perfect progressive] combines concepts of both the future and the past. Imagine that some scenario is happening right now, at the present time, and will continue to happen for some time into the future. Or, the scenario has not yet begun, but it will, and once it does, it will continue for some time. Hold that thought. Now, imagine jumping into the future while this scenario is still is progress, looking back on it, and observing how long it has been in progress at that point. That is the future perfect progressive."


               - from Anne Stilman's Grammatically Correct

     OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD
 
I have a not-very-important thing to say about Homeland's first season, which aired about five years ago and is no longer of much interest to anyone.

What I am going to say does not, oddly enough, relate to the fact that Claire Danes seems to be the worst spy ever ("I just know he's bad! Did you see him play imaginary piano with his fingers?" "But do you have any evidence?" "Screw you, Mandy Patinkin!" Then repeat this exchange every five minutes while Claire Danes fails to discover any actual evidence and grows increasingly agitated).

It relates instead to my almost-forgotten, violent, uncontrollable hatred of instrumental jazz. And of all those people who believe that making a character listen to jazz in a tv show or movie will clearly and incontrovertibly communicate to the audience that this character is interesting and crawling with all kinds of unfathomable depths.

The credit sequence is bad enough: it's like something produced by a grade 12 student who elected to do a video essay instead of a real essay for her final project on the fragmented psyche of 21st-century America and how it relates to some dreams she had once. (I fast-forward it now, so all I remember is that at some point, a young girl in a sun dress is stuck in a garden maze and maybe there's a mushroom cloud--or something like that.)

But the worst is when Claire Danes is (a) riding in her car listening to jazz and pensively grooving it up, or (b) preparing to try to romance a secret Muslim she should really still be suspicious of by pouring some wine and putting on some smooth Miles Davis. I feel like every time she listens to jazz, I myself am listening to someone yelling "SHE IS COMPLICATED, DAMAGED, AND SUPER COOL." And instead of believing that, or thinking of smoke-filled rooms and musical innovation, I immediately imagine an affluent, middle-aged white man with a cottage.
 
This man is not the handsomest to have appeared on Murder, She Wrote (that was George Clooney), or the coolest (that was Bryan Cranston), or the Christian Bale-iest  (that was actually Jim Caviezel) - and yet, he is the awesomest.

First, there was the role of Rick Rivers in 1989's "Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble." An unscrupulous writer (played by Brad Dourif - Wormtongue. WORMTONGUE!) descends on Cabot Cove to drum up interest in his book about a long-dead Cabot Cove witch (Cabot Cove had witch trials, just as it had the Battle of Cabot Cove during the American Revolution). He has employed a sneaky, unscrupulous, ferrety young media consultant - Rick Rivers - to stage mysterious events in order to make people care more about witches and snooty authors in hats. Someone dies; people are extremely perplexed; Jessica notices something and later remembers noticing it; she identifies the murderer; the murderer inexplicably confesses.

Then, there was the role of Frank Albertson in 1990's "Good-bye Charlie," an episode I've already discussed, because  Bryan Cranston was also in it. Frank Albertson is a sneaky, unscruplous, ferrety young man who decides to identify a random corpse as his uncle in order to claim an inheritance. Someone dies; people are extremely perplexed; Jessica notices something and later remembers noticing it; she identifies the murderer; the murderer inexplicably confesses.

Both roles, as I have already suggested, required an actor capable of conveying a particular kind of sneakiness, unscrupulousness, and ferrety-ness. Both roles also required an actor capable of cultivating a particularly luxuriant, era-specific hairstyle. As Dean Stockwell was too old and shunned mullets, both roles went to Bill Maher.
We know him now as a controversial, atheistic, free-thinking talk-show host, but then, he was simply an atheistic free-thinker who was forced to makes ends meet by appearing on Murder, She Wrote. Twice.

Here he is in action on Murder, She Wrote, saying only "wallet."


 
I am not posting anything here this week, in part because I feel Murder She Wrote–related anticipation could use more time to really hit a fever pitch, and in part because I recently said some really nuanced and thoughtful things about literature, and they're now posted on my friend's excellent website. I use the word "douchebag" only once.