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Archive for September, 2009

Keep Coming Back

So! Moving on from talking about one form of highbrow entertainment to another, we go from celebrating iCarly to Infinite Jest.

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of 2009 to finally read and finish reading Infinite Jest. I had no idea that Infinite Jest would become the target of a mass online book club. I just knew that I couldn’t call David Foster Wallace my favorite writer with any air of legitimacy until I had finished the Big Book.

But oh, I got so lucky to have Infinite Summer was there for me.

I am certain I would have had a much more difficult time with Infinite Jest had it not been for Infinite Summer. Infinite Summer made the entire experience a thousand times more fulfilling, and it made me so much more motivated to Keep Coming Back than I would have been if I were reading it on my own. The book is so much to digest. Digesting it with a community of other readers–even if I never was an active participant on the forums–was invaluable.

When I got to the end of the book, it was midnight, and while midnight = bedtime, the only thing I felt like doing was running around in circles and tearing my hair out. I’m not trying to spoil any potential readers, but the ending of the book is exactly what you would expect it to be, which means it is an almost impossible, yet completely perfect, ending. The book does have the word “infinite” right there in the title, so it’s not like I was expecting Hal Incandenza and Don Gately to happily ride off into the Great Concavity’s sunset, but I was not fully prepared for how it ended.

So, I rushed to my computer to read the thoughts of other people who had finished the book. I was able to find a blog post that came up with a theory for the ending, and while reading that felt a little like cheating, it also gave me the peace of mind I needed to find closure.

Reading this book, of all books, with a community of readers made it a much more satisfying and meaningful reading experience than any I have had in a long time. I am so happy the universe gave me the help I needed to finish this goal.

Now that I have read all the 1,079 puzzle pieces of pages, I can see why people say it is their favorite book. I can see why people say it changes their life. Most of all, I can see why everyone said they felt like they needed to immediately start reading again from the very beginning. The end is the beginning; the beginning is the end. One might say it’s like a circle. A circle in which one travels INFINITIVELY. (Har har!)

The book has been lodged in my mind ever since I finished it, and my brain keeps piecing together bits of information in new ways. Even though I finished the book, I have this feeling I am going to keep coming back to it, until I pick it up again.

Next up, I am totally going to reward myself with an Enfield Tennis Academy t-shirt. I can’t figure out which name to put on the back. Gately? Because Don Gately is my favorite character? (Seriously, the scene in which the utter sincerity of his cooking is described made me cry.) Even though he (obviously) didn’t attend ETA? I am open to suggestions, here.

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I love television. Television is not only entertaining when it’s good, but it also brings people together, can provide non-chemical based escapism, and is inexpensive. I love having a TV show I enjoy so much that just watching it becomes one hell of a festive F-ing occasion.

Lately, I have felt betrayed by my favorite television shows. There is nothing deserving of festivity. Shows that I was previously madly in love with are either no longer on the air (“Pushing Daisies”) or are now pathetic shadows of their former selves (“The Office”). There are shows that I enjoy on an intellectual level, but that for whatever reason don’t hook me on a visceral level (“Mad Men”). And there are shows that I still hope can live up to their potential, but which have been disappointments so far (“Glee”–though I am more than willing to place the blame on FOX for that mess of inconsistent writing).

NBC’s premieres of their Thursday night comedies used to be something I hotly anticipated with cupcakes and parties and excited butterflies in my stomach.

Right now, there isn’t a show to get excited about. There is nothing event-worthy. Then I realized that my sister and I were planning our Saturday night around the airing of a new episode of iCarly.

Dan Schneider, the executive producer and writer for iCarly posted a blog today about adult fans of iCarly–and how there are more of us than one would think. (“There are dozens of us! DOZENS!”)

As much as I have been unwilling to accept the fact that iCarly makes me laugh more than any other show on TV right now, it is the shameful truth.

The thing is that iCarly is really well written. It doesn’t let a moment of the show go to waste, and its pop culture parodies are perfect.

The most recent episode had a parody of Bobby Flay (the Food Network chef) named Ricky Flame. When Ricky Flame was cooking on iCarly, he finished his spaghetti tacos with sauce he squeezed out of a squirt bottle. I am guessing that most of iCarly’s target audience may not be familiar with the fact that Bobby Flay has an over-fondness for sauces that he squirts out of squirt bottles. But I am familiar with it! The joke wasn’t in there because 8-14 year olds were necessarily going to find it funny; it was in there because it is funny.

The more I think about the show, the more impressed I am with it. And, almost strangely, it seems like the show is getting funnier and smarter with each new episode. Apparently iCarly, despite the fact that it is primarily targeted for tween girls, is the show this season that I’m going to be excited about. On the one hand, I am delighted that there is a team that puts so much thought into what is technically a children’s show.

On the other hand, I kind of want to shake everyone else in television, because come on, Greg Daniels. iCarly made me laugh more than the season premiere of The Office, a show for which I actually did a years-long a podcast. Come on. Isn’t it maybe time that everyone else got their act together?

* This is an unfair, hyperbolic statement to make, because, of course, there are many comedies on television that I have never watched. And also, you know, superlatives are according to personal taste and all. Plus, SNL hasn’t premiered yet, and I am really pretty fond of SNL. Also, The Daily Show is really consistently smart and funny. But none of this makes iCarly less freakishly good.

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