You and me and the war at the end times

Today's post addresses a pretty small audience:  Those who have read at least 3/4 of Infinite Jest, who remember it, and who have also, somehow, never seen the video for the Decemberists' "The Calamity Song."  If this describes you, you're in for a treat.

Michael Schur, who created Parks and Recreation and The Good Place, owns what is surely one of the least valuable assets in the world of entertainment:  The motion-picture rights to David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest.  I'm pretty sure he bought them for a song (no pun intended) because no one else was making offers.

Colm Meloy dropped oblique references to the novel in "The Calamity Song" ("the Year of the Chewable Ambien Cap" isn't found in IJ, but it surely could have been).  Schur heard the song.  Somehow the wheels started turning, and this is what dropped out:  the game of Eschaton.

Almost all of the details are here.  Mike Pemulis's cap.  Hal's NASA glass (though it's a cup here, so that you don't have to see what's in it).  Little Otis P. Lord and his color-coded beanies.  The folded gym shorts and the labelled tennis balls.  The Enfield Tennis Academy logo on the buckets.  The computer screen showing that the game takes place during the Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment.  About the only things they got wrong are that it starts raining, not snowing, and Ann Kittenplan isn't a big, hulking, weird-looking girl.  And, as many comments point out, Otis P. Lord comes out of this in better shape than he does in the book.

I love the overhead shot of the tennis court that in a second of showing does more than minutes of telling would.

Actually making a movie out of Infinite Jest would be a terrible idea.  But finding a whole scene out of the Infinite Jest movie that was never made, that's like discovering a lost film by James O. Incandenza.

(Speaking of him, some very dedicated person designed the covers for the Criterion Collection editions of JOI's complete works:

The first time I saw this video, I had to go back and reread the Eschaton chapter, and I ended up continuing to read until I'd reached the end of the book.  Don't let this happen to you.

It's a good song, too, with the unmistakable Peter Buck adding a lovely little guitar lick.


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