What It Is: 9/14/09

What I’m reading: This note about the 400th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Loew inspired me to re-read Introducing Kafka (mainly for R. Crumb’s drawings & strips). I also read Locas II, a huge collection of Jaime Hernandez’s comics. Occasionally I forget how wonderful it is to live in an era when artists like Xaime are doing such fantastic work (and making great illustrations).

What I’m listening to: A great B.S. Report podcast with Patton Oswalt, and an okay one with Bill Hader.

What I’m watching: The Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2009 induction ceremony, in which I learned that John Stockton can be kinda funny, Vivian Stringer had a tough life, Jerry Sloan has enormous hands, and Michael Jordan cannot handle retirement. Also watched a ton of NFL, and the Vandy-LSU game.

What I’m drinking: Cascade Mountain & Q Tonic.

What Rufus is up to: Meeting a ton of greyhounds at the annual grey-picnic in Bridgewater, NJ on Sunday. Pictures to come. (Here’s one from my wife!)

Where I’m going: No plans! Got any ideas?

What I’m happy about: Writing those Gary Panter & Gillian Welch posts last week.

What I’m sad about: Norman Borlaug’s death. He did have a full life, reaching 95 years and saving countless lives, but still.

What I’m worried about: Not my conference next week. At least, not as much as past years. We’ve already taken care of a lot of the things that usually get taken care of late in the game — the USB drives are much better than last year, for example — and our attendee count is surprisingly good, esp. given the economy. I’m sure something crazy will happen that throws everything askew, but I’m less nerve-wracked about things. Now I just gotta hope all 11 speakers actually show up for their sessions.

What I’m pondering: Whether I’m too old to start a band called Umvelt of the Dog.

Hell is for trolls?

I was enjoying this A.V. Club Patton Oswalt interview about his new movie, Big Fan, enough from the outset, but he won my heart with this riff about internet commenters:

AVC: You yourself are not a sports fan. Is that right?

PO: No. But nowadays—and I don’t want to make some dopey cultural statement here—everyone can be, just by existing in society, a nerd like Paul Aufiero, because we all have a ship that we follow. Even if it’s other people, like on MySpace pages, we’re just as collective of enthusiasts now. That seems to be the world we’re in. In a way, Paul seems like he’s almost this old-school enthusiast, because it’s not the Internet or the Twittering or the text-messaging. It is just flat-out, “I will go and worship this team in my own quiet way.” Which is a very real way, but it’s almost a form that’s dying out now. Rob sees that type of fan sort of flickering a little bit.

AVC: Though you could say that he does create this “Paul from Staten Island” persona for the radio that’s related to him, but anonymous. In that sense, it’s like an Internet persona.

PO: Oh, totally. There’s something kind of beautiful about that pure love of things. Like, “I’ll show that I love the thing I love by hating everything else.” Yeah, I’m not a sports fan, but I certainly am good to ask about film and food and literature and comic books, so there’s certainly a big part of that guy in me. And you know, look at the comment threads on The A.V. Club. [Laughs.] Full of delightful little Paul Aufieros. They either want to say how much they love this thing that is being written about, which I always think is beautiful, or what I think is even more beautiful, they have to make sure that the world knows that, under their pseudonym, they hate this thing. They think, “I’ve got to go on record.” In their minds, there will be an afterlife where they’re presented with an inventory of everything they could have commented on, and are asked, “Did you step up and make your voice heard?” Maybe there’s like a weird commenter’s nirvana. Is there anything different if you go into every comment thread to say that something sucks? How is that different from a guy who goes to church every single week and praises God and rebukes Satan? There’s some weird afterlife that they’re doing time for.

AVC: They have to make their stand on every little thing.

PO: Exactly. “I want to be able to get into commenter’s paradise.” [Affecting voice of God.] “Well, Dr.WhoFan07, there was a blog written in 2004 which stated that Tom Baker was not the best Dr. Who, and you did not get on the comment thread to say what a shithead the writer was. So because of that, you are denied access forever!”