Archive for Almost Yogurt

It wasn’t part of the plan

The IMDb page for actor Gregory Walcott lists over a hundred credits, but there’s only one everyone seems to remember: Jeff Trent, the pilot in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the glorious mess created by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Even Walcott’s Wikipedia page has a picture of him as Jeff Trent.

From The Hollywood Reporter’s article on Walcott’s death last Friday at eighty-seven:

“I read the script, and it was gibberish. It made no sense, but I saw Ed Reynolds [J. Edward Reynolds, nominal head of the production company] as a naive, sweet man. I had done some pretty good things prior to that, so I thought I had a little credibility in Hollywood. I thought maybe my name would give the show some credibility… The film was made surreptitiously. My agent didn’t even know I did it.”

For years, Walcott sought to distance himself from Plan 9. But eventually he came to terms with Jeff Trent: he appeared in a brief role in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, playing a character not unlike Ed Reynolds. And he later conceded: “It’s better to be remembered for something than for nothing, don’t you think?”

Besides, as we learned from Mystery Science Theater 3000, there are plenty of films out there that made Plan 9 look like Citizen Kane.

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Quote of the week

The next bozo who goes on some ranty rant about “cultural authenticity” has earned a bitchslap from Jack Baruth:

Peter Green was a white Englishman who heard the Chicago blues on pirate radio and wanted to imitate it. Robert Cray grew up in a middle-class household and was performing for a living before he turned twenty. Even Albert King, who picked cotton on a plantation in his teens and then drove a bulldozer, was firmly into the pro-musician groove by his early twenties and could afford a Gibson Flying V. None of these guys ever shot anybody or went to prison or got poisoned by a woman or worked on a chain gang or plumbed the depths of human sorrow before they started making records. They didn’t live the blues — they played the blues.

Muddy Waters reportedly told Little Walter, “We don’t live the blues, we play it.” Miles Davis said something similar to his bandmates. I repeat: The best musicians to ever play the blues didn’t live the blues. You think that’s unique to the blues? Ask Dr. Dre how much crime he’s actually done in his life, how many people he’s shot. Rick Ross was a correctional officer, not a gangster. Ice-T was a gang member once — but he’s spent a much larger portion of his life playing a cop on television. Axl Rose wasn’t born in Los Angeles. Robert Plant wasn’t actually a character in a Tolkien book. Barry Manilow wrote a lot of songs but “I Write The Songs” wasn’t one of them.

Musicians are performers, assuming a character for the purpose of performing music. If you want authenticity in your life, you’d better look somewhere else besides music, maybe “upcycling” or “curating” or something like that.

And if you ever hear me claim this five-million-plus-word unauthorized autobiography to have been “curated,” you can slap me.

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Gleaming, sinuous curvature

There are, admittedly, stories hung on flimsier premises than this:

Christie Aackerlund doesn’t need help with anything. So when the world’s biggest technology company offers to fly her to a remote location and investigate an alien artifact, all by herself, she’s all like “I’ll do it!” But the artifact isn’t what it seems, and soon an overly helpful giant living paperclip is getting her all bent out of shape.

Yes, children, it’s smutty Clippy fanfic, and it’s a mere $2.99 for your hungry, gasping Kindle. Author Leonard Delaney has also written Taken by the Tetris Blocks.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Models of consistency

And the formula never failed them:

Although Bill Lava’s latter-day music was arguably not quite as inspired as Carl Stalling’s or Milt Franklyn’s. Still, that’s not a script problem.

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Call it negative feedback

Earlier this year, reasoning that saving a single sheet per copy per week would save several million sheets of newsprint over a twelve-month period, the Oklahoman cut the Sunday comic section from six pages to four, shrinking the strips to fit. The reaction was decidedly unfavorable, and this past weekend the six-page section was reinstated.

Then again, there’s “decidedly unfavorable,” and there’s this complaint to an Indiana daily:

An 8-year-old boy named Mac got on the phone Sunday and complained to Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg about some of his favorite comics no longer appearing in the paper.

“OK, I want back these comics now,” the boy demanded. His list included Peanuts, Dilbert, Nancy, Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Ziggy, and others.

“I’ll give you all my money” if the comics are returned to the paper, the boy said before ending his call by blasting the “idiots, jerks, [and] shitholes” at the paper.

This wasn’t a newsprint-volume issue, though; in this case, the paper actually lost those strips, and a few others, when they couldn’t negotiate a lower rate from the syndicator.

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Days of antiquity

Definite +1 to this declaration:

I know this isn’t an official definition but I have a strong feeling that anything made in my lifetime cannot be an antique and anything made since I have been an adult cannot be vintage and that last is a bit of an emotional compromise because I really feel that anything made since I was about 10 cannot be vintage.

I’m willing to extend “vintage” up to my 16th birthday, but no farther.

What prompted this, you ask?

A couple of days ago I joined an antique sewing machines group on Facebook. (Oooo, big surprise, right?) It appears that some members were recently up in arms because someone had posted a picture of a sewing machine from the 1980s. The 1980s? Really? Well, you can bet that if I had been there I would have been in the group wielding torches and pitchforks.

Contemporary torches and pitchforks, I’ll wager.

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Second thoughts

There are times when it seems that national patience is at an all-time low:

[S]omething has happened to us as a society since about the end of the 1970s. We’ve lost track of time.

Arriving at a party plus or minus 30 minutes was typical. When you took some photos, it then took a few days to have them processed and get the prints back. Waits of 25-35 minutes between ordering your meal at a restaurant and the arrival of the entree were considered normal. Just the very idea of “waiting” was okay — it wasn’t a big deal. Time was divided into blocks of 30 minutes; it was rare to have to narrow things down to 15 minutes. To put it simply — life was slower, more relaxed, and less clock-driven.

Now, with computers, cell phones, iPads, and their ilk, we have instantaneous communication. And we time things in MINUTES. Not half-hours, quarter-hours — our days seem to get eaten up as fast as we can live them, with nary a spare few moments to catch our breath.

“But what about productivity?” they ask. Tell me why it’s worth my time, my health, my life, to live on your cockamamie schedule.

There are darned few things that can’t be put off for a few hours, or even a few days.

Tell that to the manager whose entire self-image is based on wishful thinking masquerading as scheduling. Surely you know one, or more.

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O R’lyeh?

The correct pronunciation of “Cthulhu,” from H. P. Lovecraft himself:

I referred to this story one day, pronouncing the strange word as though it were spelled K-Thool-Hoo. Lovecraft looked blank for an instant, then corrected me firmly, informing me that the word was pronounced, as nearly as I can put it down in print, K-Lütl-Lütl.

Why? Because reasons. (Read the whole thing.)

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Stash management

Laura of Fetch My Flying Monkeys has been posting crafts-related stuff on Facebook, and I figure I have several readers who can relate to this item:

You promised you wouldn't buy anymore fabric

Spies lurk everywhere, I tell you.

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Quote of the week

Roberta X, on the debased condition of our politics, and by extension our culture:

[W]e live in a bumper-sticker kind of world, where Twitter’s 140-character limit about matches the typical attention span. Buckley, Vidal and Mencken are all dead and buried deep and the latter’s “boobocracy” is in the driver’s seat, encouraged by as rotten a pack of politicians as we’ve ever had — no worse than the worst, but certainly not a patch on the best.

The Right have become modern-day Know-Nothings (and even the Left has learned to drop final g’s when hectoring the unwashed); the Left encourages a culture of smug superiority, especially among the average (and the Right emulates it with a wink and a chortle), with a resulting downward pressure on the intellect of the body politic: Sure, both sides say, we’re Average Folks, but we’re way smarter than those crooks and fools who support the other party. Next thing you know, we’re all extras in Idiocracy. (I’m not talking about who does or doesn’t have a college degree — you can walk out with a Ph.D. and still be an ignorant lout about anything outside your specialty.)

By under-estimating themselves and way underestimating the other guy, by measuring “smart” and “savvy” in terms of buzzwords and unexamined bullshit, The People generally act dumber than they are — and our “Leaders,” who were supposed to be high-minded public servants, have become rulers, laughing behind closed doors at the milling pack of rubes who comprise the electorate. It ain’t no way to run a railroad, let alone a nation of people who were supposed to be largely left alone, neither run nor railroaded unless they violated the peace.

Then again, The People, or some substantial fraction thereof, voted for those “Leaders”; they can’t foist off all the blame on Washington and the state capitals. As Mencken put it, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Of course, this nation was never intended to be a democracy; but once again, The People dropped the ball.

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Fibbage

Lynn offers up some truth about lies:

Most of us know the difference between a truly bad lie and a merely kind or courteous lie. In between these are “lies of convenience” (I was stuck in traffic. The check is in the mail.) that we know are wrong but that somehow don’t seem so bad. There are, of course, people who push the limits, people who tell lies in order to sell us stuff, to sway us to their cause, or to get elected. We must expose and punish liars but this leads to finger pointing, witch hunts, and better, more careful liars. What more can anyone say? We are an imperfect species. Trying to get rid of our imperfections is like killing bacteria. The strongest bacteria survive and multiply but we can’t stop trying or the bacteria will wipe us out.

Yea, verily. The major advantage of telling the truth, of course, is that you don’t have to worry about keeping your story straight. And in this era of (anti)social media, there are always people to remind you what you said the first time.

Additional truth: There exists a game called “Fibbage,” from the makers of “You Don’t Know Jack.”

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Fifty grains of salt

Violet Blue tells you the things that Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t:

It’s not a BDSM novel. It’s “The Ultimate Guide” to revoking all the hard work sex-positive sex educators have done over the past 30 years to create a culture of informed consent around kink and keep people from sticking household objects up their asses. It’s not a romance. It’s a book about a rapey douchebag with borderline personality disorder who obsesses over an invertebrate whose insecurity should win her a Darwin Award. Instead of reading Fetish Sex, people are reading 50 Shades and sticking dangerous things up their butts. Instead of a sexy, relevant, redeeming film version of the book directed by Erika Lust or Anna at FrolicMe, we got another reminder that Hollywood and the mass book market for sexual content hasn’t quite grasped this whole internet fad.

Rather a lot of those links should be considered NSFW.

(Via Nudiarist.)

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PDA

When I was in school, back in the Old Silurian times, they hadn’t come up with the term “Public Display of Affection,” probably because we wouldn’t dare do such things in class. I remember the siblings discussing it, so it apparently filtered in during the 1970s. Truth be told, I’m not sure if my own negative reaction to the concept is based on some sort of devotion to order — or on sour grapes, inasmuch as I was never in a position to engage in such a thing myself.

Aw, heck, let’s put it as flatly as possible:

I’m not the prudiest prude who ever pruded, but seriously, it’s GROSS to be trying to teach and out of the corner of your eye see two people practically feeling each other up.

Especially two people who, if pressed, will argue that they’re actual adults despite their teenage-crush mutual fondle session.

And while I’ve seen “prude” turned into an adjective before, this is the first time I can remember seeing it verbed.

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Either oar

Apocryphal picture of Shit CreekThe paddle dealer portrayed here is probably enhanced by Photoshop — what isn’t these days? — but there is, in fact, a television series called Schitt’s Creek:

The series stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as Johnny and Moira Rose, a wealthy couple who are forced, after losing all their money, to rebuild their lives in their only remaining asset: the small town of Schitt’s Creek, which they once purchased as a joke.

Even more à propos, Chris Elliott is in this show, playing a descendant of the original Schitts.

And apparently the phrase “shit creek” is old enough to have this sort of history, as Nancy Friedman reports:

Shit creek or shit’s creek (“an unpleasant situation or awkward predicament”) is no shitty-come-lately, according to the OED. “Up shit creek” first appeared in print in 1868 in no less august a publication than the Annual Reports of the (U.S.) Secretary of War: “Our men put old Lincoln up Shit creek, and we’ll put old Dill up.”

Who knew? But this is the part that gets me. From that Wikipedia piece:

Schitt’s Creek is a Canadian television sitcom which premiered on CBC Television on January 13, 2015… On January 12, 2015, CBC renewed the show for a second season.

Renewed the day before first airing! Now that’s confidence. (In the States, Schitt’s Creek debuted Tuesday on Pop, which used to be TVGN.)

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You’re on your own

Rather a lot of us live alone, not that there’s anything wrong with that:

Mic just gathered some scientific research that claims living alone boosts your social skills, chills out your overactive brain, and forces you to get in touch with yourself.

Yeah, I can see some of that:

Spending time by yourself helps you value time with friends. And the time you spend with other people is all by choice, not forced.

You’re becoming the chillest person that ever was: When you live with roommates or a significant other, there’s always some sort of clamor: your roommate’s Spotify playlist, your other roommate vacuuming his bedroom for the third time this week. Not so when you’re alone. (Well, assuming your apartment is blessed with thick walls.)

Which is why I live in the middle of a largish lot and share walls with no one.

Still, this poses some additional challenges:

It’s a weird thing, not having someone double-check that you’re legally prepared for the outside world. That is on you, when you live alone. Of course, you’re probably not going to forget to wear clothes, but the thought that you could tends to cross your mind for a second. Because, technically, you could walk out of the house wearing nothing but a headband, sipping a cup of coffee, and nobody would say anything until you left the house. It’s like a childhood nightmare come true.

Two words: car keys. Fumbling around for them will make me excruciatingly aware of my condition.

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Make mine drab

Hey, somebody has to keep this place from falling apart:

Sometimes I wish I were the creative one. Or the good singer. Or the athlete. Or more comfortable taking risks. Or something else. I don’t know why. I know that it’s valuable to be able to count on someone to get stuff done, and that there are a lot of people who aren’t reliable … but it’s kind of an awful thing to be known for, I think. If we’re talking Hollywood stereotypes, instead of the “fun dame” or the “manic pixie dream girl,” I’m the spinster schoolmarm who disapproves of everything.

Considering how much in everyday life deserves disapproval, I don’t see this as being so terrible.

And how many times has that “fun dame” been passed over to the next guy, and the next, and the next? Probably more often than we’d want to imagine.

I close with a quote from one of the most quotable people I know: myself.

Be wary of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The most immediate effect of being swept off your feet is losing your equilibrium.

Some of us would just as soon not lose ourselves in the moment.

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Not that we’re busy or anything

News Item: Gov. Scott Walker said the University of Wisconsin could ask its faculty to teach more classes and do more work to offset funding cuts in Walker’s state budget proposal.

Why this will not go over well with the faculty, from Professor James Hanley, who does not teach in the UW system:

My department completed our program review document last week. On Tuesday I spent most of the day just writing the one page executive summary. (Have you ever tried summarizing a 100 page document in one page, while emphasizing your own tremendous awesomeness and how any imperfections could be solved easily if somebody outside your department would do the right thing while not offending that person who could do that right thing by making it sound like it’s their fault?) On Friday I spent 5 hours reviewing and editing the final draft. And today, Sunday, I am working on a new assignment for my American Government class that will require them to work with real data, which requires long pauses in writing while I think about how to make the directions clear to non-data oriented students.

There are, of course, worse ways to make a living:

This is not to say “pity us poor college profs.” It’s not a bad gig. I worked a lot harder, at much greater personal risk, and for much less pay as a bike messenger. One of my own profs had previously worked at a nitroglycerine factory, until the old guys there — who all had occupational-induced emphysema — told him to get out and go to college so he didn’t end up like them. It’s just to say that the job takes time; that classroom hours are not synonymous with workload; and that Walker can only get what he wants by damaging the impressive reputation of UW-Madison and thereby diminishing the reputation of the state as a whole.

As is often the case with politicians, Governor Walker got this idea into his head, and just having that idea proved to be so invigorating that worrying about things like mere consequences got pushed to the side.

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Quote of the week

Severian’s heard it all before:

The entire apparatus of academic-leftist discourse, stem to stern, top to bottom, exists solely to justify the raging narcissism of rich white kids. They have everything in the world, yet still feel empty inside. They’re deathly afraid that they only exist because of their massive head start in life, and they’ll do anything to ease that pain. If you’re endlessly searching for “microaggressions,” and you’re the ever-vigilant champion of the oppressed, you’ll never, ever have to be alone with your own thoughts.

Where are the macroaggressions, now that we need them?

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Subspeciesism

There are, according to Equestrian lore, three pony tribes, or subspecies, or whatever. There are also similarly-configured creatures which are not ponies at all:

And then I thought, wait, there are donkeys … or are they mules? (The show seems to use the term interchangeably, which bugs me ever so slightly, because donkeys and mules are different). And then I got to thinking: wait. If there are mules in Equestria, if they are like the mules that exist in the human world, that would have to mean a donkey and a horse got married at some point and …

Heh. Inter-species marriage. And you thought some people had a hard time accepting inter-racial marriage.

This chap is apparently a mule:

There exists a fanfic in which a dragon and a pony mate, and the offspring has characteristics of both and is accepted by neither.

I caught a fair amount of flak a couple of years ago for suggesting that a pony/human relationship might be possible; I suspect it might be easier, if only for logistical reasons, if both partners are quadrupeds.

And in a couple of places I’ve advanced the notion that despite all these years of Harmony, there might be some lingering inter-tribe resentment, which drew me further flak.

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And the singer sang her song

Nu metal, perhaps?

Earth and the stillness broken by reply
Through the night tide I lie down in the sky
Beyond the waves wipe out the joyous light
And dancing in the power of the night
Want things to go before it is too late
Night tide I lie here in this world of hate
Away like the mist of the desolate
I’ll show you all the world is full of hate

Not the beginning or the end: that section came out of the middle. And I can see someone screaming this into a microphone, maybe, though whether I want to hear someone screaming this into a microphone is another matter entirely.

Anyway, the poet apparently did not intend this to be a song:

We’ve seen (and heard) worse, believe me.

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The ultimate intersectional

To what level of privilege is the Judeo-Christian God entitled in the age of the social-justice warrior? Captain Weeaboo examines the evidence:

Since God is a spaceless being without a skin color or bone structure it shows that God cannot be classified in any race that we currently know of. Meaning that he is a whole classification of race himself. Since this race has not even be classified or acknowledged it clearly shows that God’s race is in fact extremely oppressed and marginalized, combine this with the fact that he’s the smallest minority to exist he is very oppressed and underprivileged.

Furthermore:

God does not appear to have any sexual interest, meaning that he is asexual. An orientation so oppressed it doesn’t even appear to be in the LGBT initials.

And on and on, though not necessarily unto eternity.

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set syllables = 17

This has serious charm, given its alleged mechanical origins:

The AIs are coming for us.

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Driveover zone

Lynn’s been reading the Extinction Point series by Paul Antony Jones, and she has a question. maybe two, to ask:

A mysterious red rain falls, destroying almost all life on Earth. Emily Baxter, a journalist for a NYC newspaper heads off on a cross-country trip to find other survivors. (And I have another small quibble. Emily is from Iowa. Is it just me or does it seem like young women who move to New York are always from Iowa? More bothersome is the fact that she does not know how to drive. If she was from Iowa and moved to New York City as an adult she would at least know how to drive. She might not own a car and might not have got a license in NY but she would know how to drive.)

There is the theory that the moment you take up residence in the Big Apple, your ability to drive instantly atrophies, since theoretically you don’t have to anymore.

And if you live in Iowa and want something seemingly better for yourself, you’re probably not going to go to [redacted to avoid nasty letters].

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I’ll take Continuous Exhibition for $1000, Alex

Now this may be an idea to conjure with:

Is such a thing technically feasible? I think it is. Even assuming the tapes of the old Art Fleming version are lost forever — which would be consistent with NBC tape-handling practice from the 1960s — there are about 7,000 episodes from the Alex Trebek days (1984 to present). At 48 episodes a day, they could go 20 weeks before having to repeat an episode, though it’s not likely they’d run a full 48: the temptation to turn the late-night hours into a venue for vendors may be too much to resist for niche channels.

So it’s doubtful whether such an enterprise would be financially feasible. But at any given moment on any given cable system, there are at least 60 programs less interesting than Jeopardy!

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Nobody saw it

One institution apparently not doing so well these days is the American motion-picture theater, with the butts/seats ratio in decline:

The next time you’re at the movies, look around — does there seem to be more empty seats than they’re [sic] used to be? Your eyes aren’t lying, as we just left one of the worst years for movie theater attendance since 1995. That is the year of Waterworld and Showgirls, so you know it’s bad.

Bad films, yes; bad box-office performers, only moderately so. Showgirls made back $37 million of its $45-million budget; Waterworld, which cost about $175 million, earned $88 million in the States, but twice as much overseas, enough to balance the books.

You want a box-office bomb? Try Cutthroat Island, with Matthew Modine as the dull-witted cabin boy to pirate captain Geena Davis. It cost just under $100 million to make, and has yet to clear $20 million in revenue.

North America had its lowest number of folks heading to the movies in two decades in 2014, reports the Hollywood Reporter, citing about 1.2 billion consumers who purchased movie tickets between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

I contributed, I suppose, to that dismal performance, having attended exactly one film last year; everything else I saw was either DVD or over the Net.

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Rained on, evidently

It wasn’t that long ago that a Sunday edition of the Oklahoman had about 50-60 pages of classified ads. These days, it’s 16. I’ve gotten used to that, I suppose, but of late something else has shrunk: Parade magazine, the granddaddy of all Sunday supplements, is down to around 16 pages. You’d think there’d be enough vendors of senior-citizen crap to fill up twenty or so and still have room for Marilyn vos Savant and that tedious hack Walter Scott.

But no. And a few months ago Advance Publications, also the owner of all those upscale-or-die Condé Nast magazines, set Parade adrift on an ice floe, where it floated into the nets of Athlon Media Group, which promptly — okay, not so promptly — announced the slicing of the rate base from 32 million to 22 million “through measures like concentrating distribution in larger, urban markets.” Yeah, like those suave urbanites have been screaming for a weekly quiz by Ken Jennings.

Athlon, which hasn’t yet bothered to connect parade.com to its own Web site except through murky bottom-of-the-page links, could actually be sitting on a gold mine, Gannett having killed off Parade’s primary competitor, USA Weekend, last weekend. But maybe it’s all part of that same dreaded evolutionary cycle, in which newspapers mutate from daily reading material to quaint anachronisms to mere apps.

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Quote of the week

Lynn can’t take this nonsense anymore:

I am so very, very tired of “my suffering is worse than your suffering” screeds.

Listen boys and girls, suffering is always individual and very personal and is not necessarily proportional to the sufferers actual situation and the injustices suffered. What one person can easily shake off might be a deeply personal and hurtful attack to another and telling someone that “your suffering is nothing compared to mine” is just as hurtful as actual bullying.

Not to mention the fact that it’s not about you: if someone else is in pain, hearing about your pain is not going to improve matters even slightly.

This might work with mild discomfort, maybe: I know I get exasperated during the winter, and then I think about way-colder places like Flin Flon and Saskatoon, and finally I shut up. But the person contemplating walking into the front of a moving truck? Clearly there are needs that simply can’t be met by trying to compare comfort levels.

And we can start by holding our heads up and not whining quite so much no matter what our position in the hierarchy. We can show sympathy to other people who are suffering instead of belittling their feelings. We can refuse to play the game that keeps some people down while protecting those at the top.

If we’re all in this together — and we are — jockeying for position is an exercise in self-aggrandizement, and not a particularly good one at that.

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Count every star

I subscribe to Consumer Reports. The magazine. Not the Web site, and definitely not the smartphone app. This is, I suspect, because I have only so much patience for “buying advice,” even from the pros, which puts me at odds with much of the world:

Today we live in the era of the JD Power rating, the Amazon stars and comments next to every product, and the Equifax background check that includes a lifetime’s worth of medical history. Even prostitutes need favorable reviews from the Internet in order to make real money. For a while, it was possible for women to get a pre-game preview on their Tinder hookups. Who doesn’t check Urbanspoon or Yelp before making a dinner reservation? (The answer is: me, because I only eat at Wendy’s and Ruth’s Chris.) It’s not excellence that’s being sought out in this cultural obsession with track record and customer satisfaction; it’s safety.

And frankly, the idea of rating something, say, 3½ stars out of five seems ludicrous to me: I grew up with Dick Clark and “Rate-a-Record” and a 35 to 98 scale. Now that’s precision.

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Double O nothing

There’s a lot of yammering going on about the possibility of Idris Elba as Bond, James Bond, and while I’d argue that he’s more capable of being a memorable Bond than some of the characters shoved into that role over the years, there’s still that Creator’s Intent business:

Lefties, #VaginaVigilantes, and other envious wussies hate the original, true James Bond, which was based as much as possible on the original character created by Ian Fleming. Why? Because that James Bond is the archetypical white male patriarch, feared by evildoers, lusted after by beautiful women, hyper-capable, suave, sophisticated, and perfectly at home in his white, patriarchal skin.

They hate that, and have been trying to change it since near the very beginning of Bond’s on-screen existence.

Now I’m one of the guys who used to call for Morgan Freeman to play Abraham Lincoln, simply because no one else had that level of gravitas except maybe Daniel Day-Lewis, and DDL has done it already. Besides, Lincoln’s Creator wouldn’t be turning over in His grave.

So I’m forced to imagine what Jim Henson might have thought if, some night, the role of Kermit were to be played by an elk. (I’m sorry: Anne Elk.)

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Rabbit is retrying

We begin with a paragraph from Hugh Hefner’s The Playboy Philosophy, December 1962:

Some seem to feel that a happy, even frisky and romantic attitude toward life, and a savoring of its material pleasures, preclude seriousness, work, sensibility, a viable aesthetic. In our book (literally and in the slang sense) this position is untenable. It belongs with such other evidences of semantic dysfunction as the unreasoning suspicion that medicine can’t be good for you if it doesn’t taste bad; that robust profanity bespeaks a limited vocabulary (rather than one equipped with condiments as well as nutrients); that dullness is the ordained handmaiden of seriousness; that the well-dressed man is an empty-headed fop, perforce, and that conversely, the chap who can’t distinguish a fine Niersteiner from a plebeian bottle of hock is probably possessed of more intellect of character than the man who can.

In the Age of Dudebros, this sort of claim to the epicurean high ground gets exactly the amount of respect you’d think, which is why the keepers of the Rabbit are actually considering turning away from its signature offering:

“You could argue that nudity is a distraction for us and actually shrinks our audience rather than expands it,” says [Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott] Flanders. “At the time when Hef founded the company [in 1953], nudity was provocative, it was attention-grabbing, it was unique and today it’s not. It’s passé.”

So passé that he predicts it will eventually vanish from the Playboy brand altogether. Probably not as long as Hefner still owns a third of the company and personally selects all of the nude spreads in the magazine, along with each Playmate of the Month and Year.

Which, notes this thirty-year reader, do tend to be repetitive, though there does seem to be life in the old leporid yet:

Though he claims he has no actual editorial pull, Flanders nudged others within the company to contemporize the overall look and feel of the publication. He felt it had grown “stale,” mostly due to using essentially the same pool of photographers for more than 25 years. Updating the visual aesthetic, he says, particularly the eye candy, of Playboy was far from an easy sell.

“People said, ‘Oh, we know what Hef likes. He likes this type of photography,’ and I said, ‘Well that’s bullshit. That’s like saying he likes the same meatloaf he’s been eating for 25 years. Let’s give him a piece of steak and see if he likes that,'” Flanders says. “And, sure as hell, as soon as they gave Hef more contemporary photography he loved it.”

Still, Hef is nearly 90. (Note: This Web site started on his 70th birthday.) At this point, we have no idea of the sensibilities of younger son Cooper, who is the designated heir to That Which Is Hef. And Playboy is trailing the recently de-fratboyed Maxim by half a million copies a month, which proves, if nothing else, that there’s a market for sideboob alone.

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