Archive for Almost Yogurt

You shut your mouth, Galaga Jane

I want so badly to laugh at this, but I fear it’s all true:

Potential baby names may be hiding in the titles of classic arcade games of the ’80s and early ’90s. No, I’m not talking Q*Bert or Pac-Man. But how about Azurian, Zaviga, or Cadash?

Don’t laugh until after you’ve heard this:

Three of them — Kage, Raiden, and Truxton — have already popped up in the [Social Security Administration] data.

Anything but Pac-Man.

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Wonk right in

Why do we have all these damned policy wonks, anyway? The Z Man takes a stab at it, and punctures Bill Kristol in the process:

The policy experts and political wizards of our age are men who possess no standing outside the very narrow field of politics. In the higher reaches, none of them have made a mark in a field outside of politics, like science or business. They prefer to restate, in slightly different terms, the views of a hundred predecessors, so they can invest all of their energies into currying favor with the powerful.

It is often argued that the appeal of politics is that it allows people to gain power and wealth, without having to invent a better mousetrap or figure out a better way to build a mousetrap. The reality is that the main attraction for guys like Kristol is they see punditry and commentary as fields where there is no right answer. Science, math, business, these are fields with right answers and more important, wrong answers. In the productive world, wrong answers have consequences.

Third-rate men will always be drawn to endeavors where everyone can claim to be right, by simply saying that everyone else is wrong. That’s how a Bill Kristol can trade on the family name and his father’s accomplishments to lever himself into positions of authority within the Republican Party. He is good at the small strategies of parlor room politics, but entirely worthless at everything else. It is no wonder that he fell for every crackpot policy idea of the last 25 years. He had no basis from which to judge them.

A corollary to the above: Those inside the bubble have a tendency to resent intruders from without. Witness the quite horrid things said about EPA chief Scott Pruitt and Ed Sec Betsy DeVos, both of whom came under a lot of fire from people who, more than anything else in the whole world, wanted to see a continuation of the status quo.

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Somebody needs to study this stuff

Admittedly, it’s hard to explain in a sentence or six:

If you’re keeping score, the Anishinaabe people are indigenous peoples of Canada and the United States, including, among others, the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, Mississaugas, and Algonquin peoples. Mostly, they live in the northeastern US and southeastern Canada, though some of the Kickapoo, no thanks to the 1830 Indian Removal Act, wound up in Oklahoma.

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Ungulate multiplication

He’d intended to shoot them, but there came a distraction:

Day after day, week after week, the strange lawn ritual with the soccer ball went on and on. In truth, he had long since pulled far ahead of the buffalo in goals, but what do buffalo know about keeping score?

In time, however, the hunting season came around. He looked out of his house on the first morning and saw the buffalo waiting for him, the soccer ball in front of the forward, the defensive buffalo pacing slowly back and forth by the water trough. It came to him then that he could never shoot them. It would spoil the season — and the soccer season, in the deserts of Utah, is never really over.

On a hot afternoon soon after, he looked out his window and discovered, much to his delight and his neighbors’ shock, that the two buffalo on his lawn were indeed male and female.

Now it is two years later and he has four buffalo on his lawn. He doesn’t hunt anything anymore. Says he’s lost the taste for it. His old hunting buddies come by every so often and razz him about the buffalo.

“You started with two and couldn’t shoot them,” one said. “Now you got four.”

Well, we know how this ends, don’t we?

Damned binary.

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The 500-day week of summer

I know, I know: it only seems that way when the temperature hovers far too close to the century mark. What we have here instead is a film critique:

It’s slightly embarrassing to admit that I’m an unhealthily sizable fan of the movie (500) Days of Summer, to the extent that I may well have seen it five hundred times. My reasons are … personal. But aren’t they always.

Of course they are.

So imagine my compounded surprise and delight, when, while watching another movie, The Longest Week, I noticed a number of similarities with the aforementioned. Striking similarities. The narration — heck, the narratOR. Some of the scene framing, in particular the bedroom conversation scenes. How closely Olivia Wilde’s character looked, at times, to Zooey Deschanel’s. The French entertainment scenes. The meeting a guy while reading a book scene. I could go on, but this musing is … ample.

There are, it is said, only seven basic plots. I have had long stretches when I wondered what happened to the other six.

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V for Vanished

“Why just this year?” is my only comment to this proposal:

If I were an activist of any stripe, and someone who people actually listened to, instead of, you know, me … I’d put out a call to “cancel” Valentine’s Day this year.

Not for any reason about frustration with romantic love (though there is that, and I get tired of how V-Day is all about the romance, and so those of us who have none in our lives are left standing on the outside of the restaurant on a cold night, looking in at the happy couples eating good food in the warmth).

No. It’s because I see precious little love in the world: humanity, at least the US culture form of it I see, is becoming more separated and fractionated and I’ve said several times this week that maybe the future of humanity is for all of us to live solo, with as little contact with other humans as possible, because it seems we can’t do interpersonal stuff without it turning into either a fight or a virtue-signalling contest.

Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

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I am furious (yelping)

Joe Dante reviews the 1968 Mondo film Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso:

Calculated to shock middle‑aged conservatives, the P.A.C. Caravel production is the kind of hypocritically moralistic picture which deplores debauchery while wallowing in it. Taking a determinedly lurid approach, it sees liberal Sweden in terms of declining Rome, morality crumbling everywhere, and full of hedonistic degenerates who “think they are happy.” Luigi Scattini’s leering, loaded narration, read by actor Edmond Purdom, and the former’s obviously staged direction will prove thoroughly unconvincing to sophisticated viewers.

In patently titillating manner, and for no discernible purpose, it “depicts” the evils of permissiveness in Sweden: sex education, leading directly to wild immorality, with contraceptives available by vending machine; a gang rape by Swedish Hell’s Angels types (“raped in the dirt by two, or three, or five of the pack”); exploration of adoption problems (an excuse for a childbirth scene); TV interviews with teenage girls who reflect on their first sexual experiences at ages six and up; teenagers who make out freely in front of helpless parents; Swedish women’s preference for black males (“more primitive, more to the point”); wife‑swapping clubs; lesbianism; pornography; rampant alcoholism, with derelicts eating shoe polish for its alcohol; the obligatory drug sequence; and plenty of nudity.

The American trailer for this wild and woolly spectacle, slightly cleaned up:

Inevitably, the soundtrack would contain neo-jazzy poppish stuff by composer Piero Umiliani, with titles like “Fotomodelle” and “You Tried to Warn Me.” Then there was this inexplicable number:

At least it’s memorable.

(Via Meh.com, which inexplicably used “Fotomodelle” to sell a Nicole Miller hat/scarf set.)

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A name to remember

Twitter photo of Trilby BeresfordI caught up with this writer at HelloGiggles, and I stared for several minutes at her name before deciding it was a pseudonym, and a really great pseudonym at that: “Trilby,” of course, from Georges du Maurier’s novel — under the baleful influence of the wicked hypnotist Svengali, she becomes the most honored singer of her time despite being completely tone-deaf — and the very center of John Beresford Tipton, who gave away millions of dollars, one million at a time, on the TV series The Millionaire. (You never saw Tipton, only his operative, one Michael Anthony.) Somebody, I decided, gave this monicker a whole lot of thought before putting it on the road.

In the role of Somebody, it turns out, are Trilby’s parents: film director Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Tender Mercies) and novelist Virginia Duigan (Days Like These). Is Virginia Duigan related to director John Duigan (The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting)? She’s his sister. So we can assume that it’s not a pseudonym at all. My humblest apologies to Ms. Beresford for totally misinterpreting everything, as I too often do.

Oh, and the piece I saw that she did for HG? It had to do with a Britney Spears wardrobe malfunction.

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So it’s come to this

Equestria Daily has commissioned an advertisement on YouTube:

After all, not every pony fan is aware of their existence, or so they tell us. As Sethisto ruefully says:

The very design of EQD has always been essentially suicidal. Unlike other sites that will upload people’s content themselves, we typically embed a preview. Our comic and video posts are a good example. We embed and send you away to go sub or follow on the creators page. This helps them build up a following that incentivizes them to make more, but there is always a bit of attrition when it comes to people returning to us.

Me, I’m just surprised they aren’t pushing Desu Daily harder.

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Welcome to Sevenland

Not sure if I can make it to eight just yet.

10 Signs You're Doing Better Than You Think You Are via XONecole.com

From the original:

We all have days where we feel uncertain of what the future may have in store for us. Sometimes it seems as if everything is going wrong.

Yep.

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Tuning forked

Some time during the last century, I was trying to create the illusion that I could play piano, and the poor woman tasked with Making It So immediately noticed that the family instrument was tuned a hair differently. “The current standard calls for the A above middle C to be tuned to 440 Hz.”

Compulsive math whiz that I was at the time, I immediately found something wrong with this, based on my devotion to C Major: should not middle C, the anchor of the entire keyboard, be a nice binary multiple like 256 Hz? Tune to A=440, and middle C becomes 261 point something, which seems inelegant. She reassured me that the Pitch Police were not on the way, and I went back to fumbling with scales.

And I didn’t think about it for at least fifty years, until an image was dropped into my Facebook timeline:

Conspiracy theory on musical tuning

I note for reference the following:

I decided to flush this from my mind with the playing of Deep Purple’s “A’ 200,” from the Burn album, but I could not find my cassette, and none of the proffered versions on YouTube would play at all.

I blame the Rothschilds.

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Louts and umlauts

This works pretty well when you think about it:

On ITFF (a group for academics on Ravelry), we got an idea rolling for a “fake” music festival, based on the band names that different people proposed “that would be a good band name.” It’s essentially a series of in-jokes, and I am so seldom “in” on “in jokes” that it pleases me to be in on this.

What pleases me even more? One of the bands I proposed (Rändöm Ümläuts — a Spinal Tap tribute band) got a plurality of votes and is therefore a “headliner.”

And we are definitely overdue for a Spinal Tap tribute band, even if they can only crank it up to 10 or even 9.5.

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No mat left unchewed

It’s the perfect Oregon pastime:

Back in August, we discovered potentially the perfect Oregon pastime: goat yoga. Basically, goat yoga is yoga except instead of with no goats, goat yoga has goats.

Those goats walk through the class, blending farm animal with asana. In August, Lainey Morse, owner of No Regrets Farm in Albany where the class takes place, told us, “My goats are very social and friendly animals and love to interact with people.”

“Animals are known to have so many health benefits for humans as well,” she added, “so the mix of goats and yoga seemed to fit.”

Oh, and this is what you wear to participate. If you want to, anyway.

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Maximizing one’s motto

Kayser, before they were Kayser-Roth, used to plug their unmentionables with the slogan “You owe it to your audience.” It was perfectly sensible for them to buy ad space in Playbill:

1935 issue of Playbill including a Kayser hosiery ad

Waiting for Lefty, which opened on this date in 1935, occupies a unique spot in the history of American theater: it was Clifford Odets’ first play to be produced, staged by the Group Theatre, and it was a hit for both Odets and the Group. The subtitle, too long for Playbill — on this page, anyway — was “A Play in Six Scenes, Based on the New York City Taxi Strike of February 1934.” The storyline:

The piece is a series of interconnected scenes depicting workers for a fictional taxi company, but inspired by an actual taxi strike. The focus alternates between the drivers’ union meeting and vignettes from the workers’ difficult and oppressed lives. Not all are taxi drivers. A young medical intern falls victim to anti-Semitism; a laboratory assistant’s job is threatened if he doesn’t comply with orders to spy on a colleague; couples are thwarted in marriage and torn apart by the hopelessness of economic conditions caused by the Depression. The climax is a defiant call for the union to strike, which brought the entire opening night audience to its feet. The play can be performed in any acting space, including union meeting halls and on the street.

And come to think of it, rather a lot of hosiery mills were struck in the 1930s.

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Approved by chowhounds

After a passel of cooking shows on the Food Network, a defense thereof:

[T]he reason I like these shows is probably the same reason a lot of people dislike or deride them: they are unrealistically ideal. The people in them seem to have fairly perfect lives — they must have a lot of money; their houses are always clean; they live near good places to buy food so they don’t have to fight the crowds at the Wal-mart and they don’t have to try to find the least-squashed-looking cauliflower in the produce section there. And you know what? I want that fantasy. I want to believe that someone out there doesn’t lead a life like mine, which feels like it’s about thirty percent making it up as I go along, twenty percent having no idea what I’m doing, and fifty percent fearful that I’m actually doing it all wrong. And I know (intellectually, again) that the people don’t have perfect lives — surely Ree Drummond and her husband argue sometimes, or their kids aren’t as sweet and cooperative as we see on the show, and Ina Garten probably gets angry at times or maybe has that one flakey friend who agrees to do something for her but never does — but emotionally, I want to believe there are people out there who don’t seem to have so many big messes in their lives.

I can’t imagine Ina Garten angry, at least not without the accompaniment of apocalyptic-looking storm clouds just above her brow.

On that Life Ratio, I figure there’s a 50-percent chance that I’m doing it all wrong, but I figure the rest of the species routinely faces basically the same unfavorable odds, which takes some (not all) of the sting out of it.

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Meanwhile in Westeros

Dick Stanley, after avoiding Game of Thrones as assiduously as I do, binged on the first season, and has come to the following conclusion:

The best thing about the series, as the fellow who wrote the introduction to the first book puts it, is the way it proves that no one in their right mind would want to live in medieval times. Even the rich then barely lived above the level of our lower middle class. Their faces are always dirty because they never bathe. The usual Hollywood incongruity of all those impeccably straight white teeth looks even more ridiculous. And instead of focusing on the sorcery, the story shows the real evil to be the people of the times. The powerless as well as the powerful.

And he finds one connection to contemporary times. (No, I won’t spoil it for you.)

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Sarah writes

In 2015, I read a novel called The Look of Love by Sarah Jio. How it unwinds:

Love, they say (for certain values of “they”), is where you find it. Jane Williams finds it in unexpected places, in an unexpected manner: something mysterious takes place in her limbic system, and she can actually somehow see it. The day she turns twenty-nine, she receives a greeting, an instruction and a warning, all rolled into a single communication: she has this gift, she is told, to enable her to identify six different types of love, which she must complete before the first full moon after her thirtieth birthday — or the consequences will be dire. Her neurologist, meanwhile, predicts a different set of dire consequences if she doesn’t have an operation on her temporal lobe, which may kill her “seeing” ability.

It was a dandy book, with an almost-satisfactory resolution — I don’t think having everything neatly tied up would have improved it any — and I looked up more Jio. I found several books, and several amazing photographs:

Sarah Jio portrait

Sarah Jio seated

Perhaps unexpectedly, she sells a heck of a lot of books in Turkey:

Sarah Jio in a Turkish paper

She does enough business there, in fact, to justify a Turkish Twitter account and this video:

This is the Turkish trailer for her third novel, Blackberry Winter:

There are eight Sarah Jio novels in print somewhere.

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Child’s Christmas in Wellsville

Small towns, even today, do Christmas a little differently than does the nearest metropolis:

To me, it seems like there’s a certain bravery (maybe that’s not the right word) in the small-town Christmas decorating. The world is going to heck — it has always been going to heck, whether it was because of the Depression or the war or unrest or a drought or the steel mill closing or layoffs at the Ford plant — and yet, those small towns still decorated. They still said there was something worth celebrating. (And perhaps, in those times when the world seemed especially to be going to heck, the celebrations were even more needed and more important). And you did what you could, even if you couldn’t have much monetary outlay — you made divinity with eggs from the farm and sugar carefully kept back from each month’s ration. Or you took down the mirror from the living room wall and turned it into a frozen pond with some cotton wool and a couple of the children’s toys. Or the city fathers dug out the previous years’ decorations and cleaned them up and made them make do.

The antithesis of Black Friday? Of course. And worthwhile precisely because that’s what it is.

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Stimulating!

Tim Curry’s one and only Billboard chart hit, reaching #91 in 1979:

No one else, I suspect, would have even attempted to work all three Sitwell siblings — Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell — into a song at all, let alone into the very first verse.

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Quote of the week

Severian reads Michel Foucault so you don’t have to, and believe me, you don’t have to:

Like every harebrained idea the ivory tower has farted out in the last half-century, Foucault’s “power / resistance” stuff is trivially true. If you have something I want, you have “power” over me — you can set the terms of the exchange. If I pay your price, I “submit.” But if the price is too high, I will search for other ways to get it — I will “resist.” Of course, all this talk of “price” and “exchange” makes the whole deal look a lot like capitalism …

… because it IS capitalism, squeezed into gimp-suit jargon. I was a bit too young for the singles’ bar scene, but this is exactly how the world’s Kate Milletts described dating back in the Disco Era: commodity exchange, and isn’t it just awful how men expect sex after shelling out a week’s paycheck on dinner and drinks? That they got this notion from a guy who’d give Andrew Sullivan’s RawMuscleGlutes a vigorous spanking tells you everything you need to know about Second-Wave Feminism, but that’s irrelevant. The point is that only a Cheeto-dusted basement dweller would read this stuff and think yes, this is a deep and meaningful way of describing human interaction. Which is why it took academia by storm.

And once you start looking at the world this way, it gets harder and harder to stop. Foucault didn’t; he went full retard, arguing that modern penitentiaries, like modern medical centers, trick us into participating in our own slavery. We don’t draw-and-quarter people anymore, says Foucault, because early modern governments so arranged the “technologies of power” that we internalize the ruling elite’s expectations for us, making gaudy public torture unnecessary.

Actually, a Presidential-election campaign meets my definition of “gaudy public torture,” and God knows it’s unnecessary.

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Get your green on

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment complex called The Greenery. It was anything but.

Now, if Pantone calls something “Greenery,” they’re serious:

Pantone 15-0343, Greenery

[I]f you believe the team at the Pantone Color Institute, which calls itself the “global color authority,” green will be everywhere in 2017. Not just any old green, of course: Pantone 15-0343, colloquially known as greenery, which is to say a “yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.”

That is, the Color of the Year for 2017.

Well, okay. I can deal with that. This, I’m not quite so sure about:

“We know what kind of world we are living in: one that is very stressful and very tense,” said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “This is the color of hopefulness, and of our connection to nature. It speaks to what we call the ‘re’ words: regenerate, refresh, revitalize, renew. Every spring we enter a new cycle and new shoots come from the ground. It is something life affirming to look forward to.”

Especially after a winter of so much discontent.

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The widest variety possible

It’s all in what you’re allowed to see:

Back in grad school, some guy sued our university, claiming that our department didn’t hire him because of his politics. The department members’ reactions were illuminating. While they of course all but admitted to not hiring the guy because he was a conservative,* the discussion quickly devolved into a bunch of leftoid moonbats reassuring other leftoid moonbats that there’s actually all kinds of political diversity in the department. And — this is the crucial point — by their lights, they were right. To any outside observer, this is a real knee-slapper, but inside the ivory tower the Marxist Feminists have real, longstanding beefs with the Feminist Marxists. The Judean People’s Front would, if given power, immediately execute all members of the Peoples Front of Judea, and academia works the same way.

About that footnote:

*the university settled out of court. Which was too bad — I for one was looking forward to forwarding the seventeen zillion daily listserv messages I was cc’d on to the prosecution. Obviously nobody briefed the dingbat grad students on things like “discovery” and “paper trails” and “plausible deniability.” There would’ve been some Trigglypuff meltdowns, believe me.

If you’re not familiar with Trigglypuff, start here. And then finish there. No sense being a damn fool about it.

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En masse

Early in the history of this site, I noted:

It is my lot in life to bear a fairly common name. Most neighborhoods can boast a Hill or two, and as Sam Goldwyn never said, every Tom, Dick and Harry is named Charles.

For a while, I linked to as many as I could, perhaps hoping I’d find one on Charles Hill Road in Orinda, California. But eventually this became more of a burden than an amusement, and I filed away the page.

Still, I wonder: how many of us 323,878,801 Americans are named Charles Hill? This is where How Many of Me came in. I have, they said, the 9th most common first name, and the 41st most common last name, from which they concluded there are 3,779 of us.

I note purely in passing that there are five Taylor Swifts, though I’m only aware of two personally.

(Via New Jersey 101.5.)

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Presumably on channel fifteen

Taylor Swift TV? It could happen. In fact, it’s going to happen:

On Monday AT&T revealed that fans of the 1989 singer will soon have a “new destination for unique and never-seen videos” with the debut of Taylor Swift Now. The new channel will play footage of live performances, music videos, behind-the-scenes videos, and more as part of the company’s DirecTV Now streaming service launch, which takes place Nov. 30.

Truth be told, I could watch her just trying on Keds for hours at a clip, but that’s insufficiently ambitious, for Swift anyway.

Taylor Swift Now will become available via DirecTV, DirecTV Now, and U-verse “later this year,” per AT&T.

Should we read that as “next month”?

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And yet they ask me

Morgan Freeberg has seen Quora, and he understands it slightly better than I do:

I think I’ve got a pretty good bead on the typical Quora respondent. In sum, these are young college-grads who feel like they’re in a class by themselves because they use the metric system. By which I mean, they want to become elitist snobs but they’re not entirely sure how yet, because they’re still prioritizing process over outcome. I can tell this by the questions as well as the answers. I see these questions scroll up like “how many monitors would a good programmer be using?” and, applying perhaps a bit more old-fashioned common sense than would be expected by the person posing the question, I come up with my own counter-question: How come you haven’t already figured it out for yourself? Try one, try two, try three, see what works…

It gets back to the plan that is scary because of what it leaves unplanned. How come everything’s got to be scripted?

I am often frustrated by the belief that if such-and-such works for A, it should therefore work for B through Z inclusive. Which, in turn, explains contemporary “diversity”: it looks exactly the same from any angle.

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Quote of the week

From a friend on Facebook (a species different from “a Facebook friend”) on the dustup when Mike Pence went to see Hamilton:

**Disclaimer: Stop reading now if you’re easily offended. Though ironically, you need to.

To see that not only was Pence booed entering, during, and exiting “Hamilton” on Broadway, but was seriously lectured to by the CAST, and the play PAUSED at certain lines because the audience had to vociferously boo him, is something I’ve personally had enough of.

I’ve personally now lost all respect for anyone who feels it’s a persons right to destroy an up to $1000 ticket performance for ALL present because you don’t agree with who attends the performance and I’ve lost all respect for anyone who agrees with this display. I cannot believe a Broadway cast actually LECTURED. I am literally stunned. And if you believe in this kind of “progressive” behavior then we truly will be seeing the start of a chaotic revolution the likes we have not seen for 240 years.

Protesting peacefully is MOST assuredly a right. I have been about as tolerant of opposing viewpoints as I can possibly be throughout this entire fiasco. But I think what’s going on now is a wonderful representation of how not getting your own way is defining our culture. This has been the most outrageous, most self-serving display of hypocrisy of those who claim to be “tolerant and accepting of all views.”

And I will STOP hiding in the shadows for fear of expressing an opinion different from The New Culture.

Note: NOT a political endorsement. It’s an endorsement for social civility.

Civility, alas, cannot exist without a certain amount of humility, and there is a shortage of humility at every point of the social compass.

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Investing a little green

The outgoing First Lady wants her vegetable garden to be preserved:

The first lady has already taken steps to preserve her fruitful green space, purchasing a stone plaque for it with the inscription, “WHITE HOUSE KITCHEN GARDEN established in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama with the hope of growing a healthier nation for our children.”

But she’s not stopping there — wielding the power she has over the president to ensure the Kitchen Garden is a permanent part of the White House.

“She is pressing him to pass an executive order to maintain the garden after they leave the White House,” a source told The Post.

Surely there must be some way to do this that doesn’t involve executive orders, especially with The Donald supposedly looking for executive orders to undo. Heck, I wouldn’t mind if President Trump ordered this himself; whatever the motivations of FLOTUS, this garden qualifies as some sort of historical display, and I see no good reason to tear it down.

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An unrecycled sentiment

I admit to not getting this at first:

Infiniti is famous, of course, for inscrutable advertising. Go back a couple of decades:

Then again, Brubeck speaks to us all. I had to get an explanation of that tree thing from Matt Polsky:

Eager to cash in on the warm fuzziness of the seasonal aesthetic, Infiniti has partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 35,000 new trees on behalf of drivers, and came up with a corresponding television commercial and digital campaign.

Oh. Okay.

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Not just for kids

Not that anyone of a certain age needs such a thing, but here’s a perfectly good justification of Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase:

I like a lot of these “kid’s books” because of the clear moral arc: there is good and there is evil (or perhaps, in milder books, “bad,” rather than true evil) and good wins over evil in the end because good is persistent and honest and has kind people to help it. (Simon, the goose-boy, helps Bonnie and Sylvia; there are one or two girls at the orphan’s asylum who risk severe punishment to help them, partly because Bonnie has been so kind to the other girls … and yes, there’s also that idea of “you get back what you put out into the world” — that if you are a kind and good person it eventually comes back to you). Real life isn’t so clear cut, and that’s one of the great tragedies (for me at least) of adulthood: that you can be kind and good and still not prosper, and it can look like people who break every rule in the book get ahead, and the reason I keep coming back to these “children’s chapter books” is because they give me hope that what I see as an adult is wrong, and that there WILL be a reward to being a decent person (beyond merely being able to live more comfortably with your conscience) and more importantly, the bad people thwarting those who would do good (or even who would just live their lives unmolested) will wind up paying for it in the end.

“Evil will always triumph,” said Dark Helmet, “because good is dumb.” Of course, he said this to Lone Starr, and Dark Helmet is Lone Starr’s “father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate,” or some such business.

I persist in believing that what goes around does indeed come around, though I am forced to admit that it’s not very satisfying unless you actually get to watch the revolution in progress.

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Movement out of sync

In a dark room in central Texas in early 1970, I learned two things: that I greatly admired the seemingly random movements that were being presented in those days as modern dance, and that I would never, ever be able to participate. (Yes, they brought me up on stage; no, I wasn’t any good.)

My regard for dancers has remained undiminished after all these years, and may perhaps grow as I become increasingly immobile myself. Disonante, choreographed by Ana Elena Brito, seems to speak to me specifically: every movement seems to be planned, yet many of them go utterly wrong.

Venezuelan dancer Vanessa Vargas, on her own, has recently completed Becoming invisible, of which she says:

My project stands on the notions of rootlessness and exile, which I present as the by-products of migration, not only as an internal journey, but also as a social phenomenon. My aesthetic proposal, which stands in the crossroads of dance, performance and visual art, pretends to break down the mainly urban considerations of cartography and topography on stage.

To be honest, I figured out about five-eighths of that watching her dance but before reading her description, which suggests that whatever rarefied mental space it takes to come up with an abstraction that can be made concrete in a mere ten minutes, it’s a space I probably have been to without even realizing it.

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