You know when you run across something in the intertubez that makes you want to grab the person sitting nearest to you and shake them because it’s just SO EFFING AWESOME and you want someone to share it with right away, even if that person happens to be the unfriendly coffee shop hipster at the next table who has been giving you the side-eye for ostentatiously mouthing Kylie Minogue lyrics for the past 45 minutes while they try to read Crying of Lot 49? No? Because that was totally the reaction I had to this article from the New York Times about The Decemberists’ new video for the appropriately-titled “Calamity Song.” The video dramatizes what is probably the best single scene from David Foster Wallace’s massimum opus Infinite Jest, in which the students at a Massachusetts tennis academy simulate nuclear war through a game called Eschaton that involves lobbing “5-Megaton” tennis balls at athletic gear representing the combatants’ (AMNAT, SOVWAR, IRLIBSYR, SOUTHAF, and IRLIBSYR being more or less self-explanatory) strategic targets, all laid out on a map encompassing several tennis courts. We get Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy as Michael Pemulis/The Peemster, grand don and progenitor of Eschaton, drummer John Moen as aspiring sportscaster Jim Troeltsch, and keyboardist Jenny Conlee as a pink-wigged Ziggy Stardust cum DFW himself, as well as child actors playing Otis P. Lord, who runs the Eschaton show from his computer cart, Evan Ingersoll, who brings on the real chaos by launching a ball at Ann Kittenplan, who in the video looks quite a bit more diminutive than the novel’s steroid-addled version. Director Michael Schur opted not to end the video with Otis P. Lord’s head inside of a computer monitor because “They’re all flat screens, and you can’t put your head through a flat screen.” I only wish he had included the jockstraps re-purposed as MRVs.
Short as it is, this post involved a lot of Googling since I don’t have my copy of IJ handy. In the process of searching, I came across this massively detailed diagram of the book. Regular readers of this blog (hi, Grandma!) know that I have an abiding, albeit pedestrian, interest in maps and cartography, which perhaps explains part of my affection for IJ, given DFW’s extensive use of motifs of maps and mapping. Also, here’s a link to the io9 post that originally led me to the Times piece. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put my head through the monitor.