Saturday, April 19, 2008

Who's Joe Queenan?

I was generally unaware of who Joe Queenan was before I read Samizdata today. What an oversight!

The link goes to an interview with a guy full of great one-liners spitting vitriol about things I, too, love to hate. In fact, my bone to pick with the Samizdata piece is that they zeroed in on the wrong quote. Surely it should've been this one instead:

But, Bill Clinton has all of the hypocrisy of baby boomers and all of the false sense that if you simply say the right thing, it's like you did something.

Quoted for the bit about saying the right thing, not the specific reference to Clinton (whom Queenan goes on to defend a bit). Right on! Ok, ok, I realize it's bit rich to be saying this on a blog - but that's hit the nail right on the head about what's wrong with political discourse these days.

One of these days I'll sit down and write a compendium of all the undergraduate writing errors that slowly eat away at the precious time I have on this beautiful planet by poisoning me with a bitter vinegar hatred of everything living. The number one worst thing that an undergraduate can do, and of course therefore never fails to do, is use the word "utilize" every goram time. As though there were some phonological process in English whereby taking an ordinary verb and using its meta-aspectual form rendered your writing sophisticated. [-ize] → [+ize]/  [+ intellectual], or something. But if that's number one, then number two is surely clawing for moral approbation from your reader by using ever-stronger adjectives. Like when people say of a racist "I believe in free speech, so I defend his right to spout his vile and disgusing opinions." Just fucking tell me about your support for free speech you twit - I don't have to know that you, like 99.99% of everyone else on the planet, actually takes the extremely normal position of disapproving of racism to even greater heights to get the point there, sport. Call it Tori Spelling syndrome - because my favorite mass media example (with "Islam is a religion of peace" in close second) comes from her gushing about the gay wedding she officiated.

"It was so beautiful as I united Tony and Dex as life partners in love. They wrote their own beautiful vows and there was so much love surrounding them that there wasn't a dry eye in the driveway! ... It was a magical evening of pure love."

So you're saying it was beautiful? And that there was love?

In second place for Queenan's cool lines is this one:

But, [Katherine Powers] really, really hated ["Balsamic Dreams"]. And when I saw her review I thought, "Bingo. This is great. This is really cool. I hit the target. Some old lefty, movement person in Boston hates the book because I made fun of Jimmy Carter or the old hippies." It's better than people liking it. That's an exhilarating feeling.

Eff-n right it is. I would much rather watch some smug leftist sputter with indignation than I would get applause from a room full of the like-minded. Some people deserve to be made angry.

So, maybe I'll pick up one of his books someday. Though I strongly suspect I'm too lazy...


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