Adam Reger | Pittsburgh Writer, Editor, and Teacher

Pittsburgh writer, editor, ghostwriter, and teacher.

Month: July, 2010

Deeper into slavering fandom

Relishing, savoring, basking in this audio interview with Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster (while I’m supposed to be doing work).

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New things that are already things (or, Using algebra to explain things)

I can remember, during my first year of college, standing in line for a movie with a friend. It was at a big multiplex in Yonkers, New York and the place had an air-conditioned, mass-appeal feeling to it that made me feel vaguely uneasy. Because I was eighteen and considered myself a writer in the slightly haughty way an eighteen-year-old can, I thought that an awesome way to “freak out” all the “mainstream” people standing in line with me would be to show an adult movie instead of whatever they had paid to see. (This was a year or two before Fight Club used a similar idea. Also, in case I’m not conveying the silliness of my college-freshman attitude, the movie we were lined up to see was either The Matrix or 10 Things I Hate about You. The new Harmony Korine flick it was not.)

I liked this idea so much I verbalized it to my friend, and as he looked at me and considered how to respond, I went further. I suggested that it would actually be a really awesome avant-garde thing to do, to bring people together at a theater and show an adult film and have people just, like, respond to it. They could laugh, or be uncomfortable about their arousal, perhaps they’d find their political convictions challenged by their response at the bodily level.

I was picking up steam with this, trying to think through the subversive aspects of rendering a private and taboo genre public, re-contextualizing what was considered a shameful and—when my friend asked, “You mean like at a porn theater?”

I briefly struggled against this simple summary—No, because the films would be shown at an art house, and people would get it, man—but then gave it up. We were able, still standing in line, to see the brief sad trajectory of my avant-garde movie theater, the shift of its clientele from beret-wearing intellectuals to raincoat-wearing sad sacks who’d prefer to sit in a row by themselves. “Oh,” I said by way of concession, “I guess that already exists. And it’s terrible.”

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List for this week: beard-shaving scenes

The time has come to get rid of the mangy beard I have been cultivating since the great snow event of February. Some time this week or over the weekend, it’s happening. It’s a feeling I’m waiting for, a moment whose rightness will be self-evident. Also, I keep forgetting to buy shaving cream.

But, towards bucking me up to just do it, a list of portentous beard-shaving scenes from movies. I’m not sure I like the suggestion that these are symbolically weighty (and thus that my ditching the beard will be, too), because things have gone well with the beard; I suspect, though I imagine it would be impossible to prove, that men with beards get more respect in Pittsburgh than without (it’ s just that kind of town).

Adorable Economists

Slightly related to this earlier post on economics and how I find it fascinating, to the extent that I ever understand it, I ran across something interesting this morning.

At my office, there is a department that publishes a journal that is essentially a bibliographic list of economics books. They receive a ton of books on various strains of economic thought, of varying levels of seriousness, from Freakonomics-level stuff for people like me to data-heavy reference books for the hardest of hardcore econ weenies. Every few months, there accrues a surplus of these books and an e-mail goes out announcing that whomever so desires can take whatever books he/she wants (from certain, marked shelves; it’s usually a surefire laugh (for me, no one else) to reach for an adjacent shelf, which will send one of the bibliographers into a mini-conniption, as they go to great lengths to keep their shelves organized and have to account for every book).

Anyway, I ended up taking Peter Leeson’s The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates. It looked interesting, meant for the layman, and concerns an area that I’m doing some minor research in for a project. (See this earlier entry re: pirate research.)

I went to thumb through the table of contents and came across this dedication: “Ania, I love you; will you marry me?”

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The great Teddy Wayne

has cracked The New Yorker‘s “Shouts & Murmurs” section. Why great? The man is a beast. See here for the exhaustive list, but do especially peep “Saved by the Bell: The Grad School Years” (dear to my heart), “Your Best Friend in a Romantic Comedy Is Always There for You,” and my most favorite of all, “Ashton Kutcher Fan Fiction: ‘The Middle School Dance’ by Melissa Bell, Age 13” (also in video form here, though I think seeing someone perform it makes it less funny; this girl is not quite who I pictured in my head).

Wayne’s debut novel, Kapitoil, recently came out. I have not yet read it, though every time I remember it exists, I ask myself, “Why haven’t I read it yet?” My friend and noble roommate, Salvatore Pane, reviewed the book for BOMB and had nothing but good things to say about it.

Also, as an aside, the fact that Teddy Wayne produced all this screamingly funny stuff for McSweeney’s website and now has this (still funny but decidedly) tamer piece in The New Yorker reminds me of this article in The Onion, the upshot of which is that pitcher Mike Mussina has no problem getting his satirical pieces into “Shouts & Murmurs” but finds McSweeney’s a tough nut to crack.

On Burying Fiction

My friend, colleague, and, tantalizingly soon, roommate Robert Yune hosts a few thoughts I had in response to this crotchety Lee Siegel article (which I think came out last month). His earlier, scientifically rigorous thoughts on the question here (seriously, that one has a reference list at the end) and here. Another takedown of Siegel’s piece from another former classmate here. This guy can’t catch a break!

Also, someday I’ll have a blogroll. And on that day, I’ll surely include a link to Robert’s blog, which is what my blog would be if I had more patience, focus, and seriousness of purpose, and less propensity to making ball jokes and writing about cheeseburgers.

Inception Redux

A wealthy and enigmatic businessman has hired me to implant an idea in a target’s mind. I considered infiltrating the person’s dream, then going inside a dream within a dream, and another dream within that dream, but, well, it seemed like kind of a lot of work. I think I’ve found a better way.

(The idea, in this case: “You are blue (da ba dee).” Weird message, but whatevs. For this kind of payday, you don’t ask questions.)

Everyone talks about the weather, but almost no one attempts ball jokes about it

. . . Until now.

In Philadelphia this weekend, it was literally as hot as balls.

Thank you. Thank you.

Animal Party

More to come later (including an off-color joke about the weather), but for now, a song that has been at once rocking me and convulsing me with laughter.

Cheeseburger Bulletin (or, Reason to Love Pittsburgh #4: Noble Cheeseburger)

I did not want it to pass unremarked-upon that I ate a truly superlative cheeseburger this week at the Brillobox, one of my favorite Pittsburgh bars. Others’ takes here and here. Grass-fed beef (cooked medium) with gruyere. Amazing. And as a side: mixed greens! What a world!

The cheeseburger was off a “transitional menu,” as the new menu is coming out in a week or two. The menu is here and it’s full of other stuff that sounds more exotic and appealing, perhaps, than the Brillo burger. And it’s true too that there’s a distinct vegetarian bent to the menu, that would lead one to look askance at the burger. But this burger is not to be dismissed.

The conventional wisdom on the Pittsburgh cheeseburger scene is that Tessaro’s is tops. And it is quite a good burger. But the Brillobox is serving notice to all comers. Watch your back, Tessaro’s.