Archive for Almost Yogurt

Paying it backward

The wheel of karma is downright speedy at times:

The author of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Fun Home was so horrified by the actions of South Carolina lawmakers and College of Charleston officials that she quickly joined an effort to bring the off-Broadway show based on her book to campus, according to local organizers.

Alison Bechdel and the cast of the New York City show are volunteering to present a concert version of the musical in Charleston. Two performances will be offered, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday, at Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St.

Origin of the flap:

Fun Home was the selected title for the College Reads! program and made available to all incoming students in the fall of 2013. It recounts Bechdel’s upbringing and explores themes of sexual identity.

In February, some lawmakers took issue with the book, and the S.C. House budget-writing committee moved to withdraw $52,000 of school funding, the cost of the summer reading program.

The censorship controversy flared, prompting acrimony on both sides and concern from supporters of academic freedom.

Next year’s selection, David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers, may be controversial for a different reason: Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning has contradicted some of Finkel’s narrative.

(Via this Will Creeley tweet. Creeley is Director of Legal and Public Advocacy for FIRE.)

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Wag tales

When I saw the hilarious mockumentary Best in Show back in 2000, my second thought — had to get all the guffaws and spit takes out of the way first — was “Dear God, what are actual dog-show people going to think about this?”

On the evidence of this, clipped from a summer-show premium list, they love it:

Best In Show at Pocatello Kennel Club

“Take the Lead” is a charity that “provides direct services, support and care for people in the sport of purebred dogs who suffer the devastation of life-threatening or terminal illness.”

(Source.)

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Here comes the grump

Right on schedule, too:

The approximate moment when grumpiness kicks in for men, according to a recently released report, is around age 70.

Then you’d better get off his lawn.

At a mere sixty, I’m not seeing this on the horizon just yet. Then again, at a mere sixty, I’m busy denying there’s a horizon at all.

Researchers found that as men grow older — from, say, 50 on — they have fewer obstacles and annoyances to worry about in life and, furthermore, they are more equipped to deal with adversity. But around age 70, life — or at least the perception of happiness — begins to go downhill.

The study, published in the March 2014 issue of Psychology and Aging, examined 1,315 men — mostly military veterans who participated in a 15-year survey — between the ages of 53 and 85. Some 80 percent said that at age 50, life became easier. About 20 percent said they were happier after they retired.

Both groups, however, agreed that good feelings about life began to decline at age 70 — for myriad reasons, including health problems, cognitive slide and the losses of loved ones.

I should point out that rather a large percentage of us in the 53-85 bracket are military veterans: there was a war on when we were what we now quaintly call “draft age.”

I’m not sure what to expect at 70, or even if there’s a 70 I can expect to expect. I do know that Zooey Deschanel will be 44.

(Via Fark. And this is where I remembered the title.)

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Where you used to be

You were here; and then you weren’t. But it didn’t happen overnight:

… an occurrence that took place over time, little by little, so I didn’t notice it was happening until someone asked me about you and it took me a minute to recall all the details necessary to answer the question.

Is this happening to me? I’m not entirely sure.

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Leave me alone, but not now

As a species, we like binary — it makes counting so much easier, if a trifle unwieldy — and we especially like to be able to classify people as either A or B. Actual people, however, don’t necessarily fit well into pigeonholes:

Everyone is either an introvert or an extrovert right? Could it be that’s not true — that maybe some people are somewhere in between or a little of both?

Suppose nature made you an extrovert. You like attention and love being around people. But then you go to school and the other kids reject you or even outright bully you. In time you come to feel that being a loner is safer. You discover that being alone with your own thoughts can even be pleasant. You are an introvert. But if this happened to you couldn’t you still retain some latent extrovertedness? Because it’s your nature, crave the company of others and secretly long to be the center of attention but because of your experiences never be comfortable with the attention you crave?

I can speak only for myself here, but I am very much an introvert — unless I have something resembling total control of the situation, in which case I will emerge from my shell. (Those who have encountered me in person on Tour will note that I didn’t have control of those situations, but that I figured it was safe to cede it for the moment.)

Besides, there’s that whole lonely-nights thing, and once you get past a few thousand of them, you start assuming that it’s the default.

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El Darto

While most online ads are, I think you’ll agree, eminently blockable, I figure the least I can do for sites on which I rely for information and/or blogfodder is to let the stuff come through unhindered; not only does this toggle off the site’s usual whine about blockers, but the ads themselves often provide material.

Fark, for instance, has a pretty good chance of sending me something related to things I’ve looked up recently, especially if I’ve looked them up at a retail site. Once in a while, I get something relevant from Equestria Daily, but more often I get something like this:

Dodge Dart ad in Spanish

I have no idea what I did to deserve that.

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Ark of the Clumsiest

After sampling several reviews, Chris Johnson concludes:

So why make Noah in the first place? I can think of only two possible explanations. The first is to sabotage the idea that Biblical movies can make money. “See?! We made Noah and nobody cared! So stop bugging us to film more of this fundie crap!”

Although he prefers his second explanation, and so do I.

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For those who think dung

I’m sure this book would prove useful to someone in a very specific set of circumstances:

How to Poo on a Date has won the 36th annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.

The book, by Mats & Enzo, published by Prion Press, topped a public vote to find the oddest title, in one of the closest contests in prize history. In the end, How to Poo on a Date: The Lovers’ Guide to Toilet Etiquette, took home the title with 30% of the vote, beating into second place Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown (Pan South Africa) and The Origin of Feces by David Waltner-Toews (ECW Press), which both captured 23% of voters.

Were I a minion at ECW Press, I’d be bragging right about now: “The Origin of Feces ties for Number Two!”

Regrettably, the founder of the Diagram Prize has just passed on:

Bruce Robertson, who has died aged 79, was managing director of the book design and artwork partnership Diagram and founder of the Diagram Prize for the Oddest Book Title, an award presented annually by The Bookseller magazine.

Robertson and his business partner Trevor Bounford dreamed up the award in 1978 to avoid boredom at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. The first award went to Proceedings Of The Second International Workshop On Nude Mice. Other winners over the years have included How to Avoid Huge Ships; Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop; and Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way.

Essentials to the modern library, you may be sure.

Incidentally, this is the second crap-related title to win the Diagram this decade: Saiyuud Diwong’s Cooking with Poo won in 2011. And winning the Diagram can do wonders for one’s profile, even if one’s book is out of print: Amazon merchants are asking over $50 for the 2003 winner, The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories.

(With thanks to Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Still unstifled after all these years

It’s the meatheads who never catch on, really:

Funny thing about Archie Bunker. As I understand it, he was built to be the bad guy, but people related to him. He was a traditional, albeit crude and poorly spoken, member of the old generation that was out of touch with the modern, sixties person. But people related to his problems in understanding the changes going on in society and with those who would compel him to change. And somehow that gruff character carried a sitcom twelve seasons. Kind of like the modern day Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation. Although this latter character was originally intended to be a foil for the star’s character, he was a man’s man Libertarian, and he’s the one from whom Internet memes are made. Because people even in the twenty-first century relate. And the sitcom writers and producers are shocked by what sells. Because they’re professionals or something.

These are the days, guys. Even if you’re still obsessed with the Summer of Love and all that horsepuckey.

And while we’re at it, can we declare a moratorium on that “right side of history” meadow muffin? History takes no sides, and wishful thinking won’t make it do so.

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In the year 5041

A new poem by Sarah de Nordwall recalls a time in the distant past when, believe it or not, life was passed down to new members of the species by a strange being now entirely forgotten.

There was a word used to describe this human;

‘She’

But that couldn’t be possible, could it?

(Retweeted from the poet’s original announcement by Dawn Eden.)

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Checking in with the herd

The 2014 State of the Herd Report is out, and this year’s pony fans are marginally more female, a teensy bit more married (though 4.7 percent won’t overwhelm the Los Pegasus wedding chapels), and just about as likely to pester friends and neighbors to watch the darn show already.

A few not-entirely-random quotes from the report:

Utah has the most Bronies per 100,000 … followed closely by Alaska. Mississippi, once again, is dead last in per capita Bronyism.

Utah checks in with 9.03 per 100k; Mississippi, 1.87. (Oklahoma, should you be curious, is mid-pack at 4.47.)

There’s a very distinct gender break on the Pegasister question. While 60% of males basically “meh” at the question ["Women should be pegasisters," as distinguished from bronies], 47% of females either disagree or strongly disagree, with only 14% agreeing or strongly agreeing.

A desire not to be segregated? Fancy that.

On the question of Favorite Character, it takes seven slots to include the Mane Six, since Princess Luna has vaulted all the way to third. (Derpy is eighth.) And this is a trifle alarming:

As you look through the list, stop to consider that Tom, a piece of rock, drew more votes than Flim, Flam, and either Mr. or Mrs. Cake.

And the data-collection period ended long before we met Pinkie Pie’s sister Maud, so I see Tom, if only as a possible ship for Maud, gaining popularity in the near future. Also, Flam outdrew Flim, which makes me wonder if people can really tell them apart.

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Roxanne the Casbah

If you’re pregnant and headed for, or already in, Saudi Arabia, you might need to know this:

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry has banned 50 given names including “foreign” names, names related to royalty and those it considers to be blasphemous.

Saudis will no longer be able to give their children names such as Amir (prince), Linda or Abdul Nabi (Slave of the Prophet) after the civil affairs department at the ministry issued the list, according to Saudi news sites.

It justified the ban by saying that the names either contradicted the culture or religion of the kingdom, or were foreign, or “inappropriate”.

Inexplicably — at least to yours truly, with little knowledge of Arabic — “Lauren” and “Sandy” are on the proscribed list. Best guess: a traveling prince got dumped by a Lauren once upon a time, and, well, the whole darn country is already Sandy.

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The second time across

Yep, this describes me:

Some of you are old enough to remember the Cosmos 1.0 where Carl Sagan fawned at billllions and billlions of stars from the vantage point of what looked, for all the world, like a cathedral without the stained glass.

It was a fascinating series, revealing to the commoner what science had discovered about the greatest WHERE of them all — the universe in which we are embedded and “live and move and have our being.”

The universe, of course, is constantly changing, and the new Cosmos perhaps needs to be different too:

I hope, this time around, the pride of what we know with our science and can do with our technology will be balanced by humility. There is much we don’t know, and some would say much we cannot learn through science — one important way of knowing, but not the only way.

There is much we have failed to do on Earth to the least of our kind (not to mention those other kinds at the margins of our vision and care) even while we’ve sent our surrogate eyes unimaginably far, looking for the physics and chemistry of WHY, WHO and WHAT we are.

Members of this small-c cosmos have certain responsibilities, and while there’s room for debate on what those responsibilities should be, I believe that the moment you decide there are no more questions worth asking is the very moment you give up your soul to whatever lies beyond.

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Be there!

“Eighty percent of success,” said Woody Allen, “is showing up.” Motivated perhaps partly by this, and definitely by Nicole’s plan for Olympia Detroit (cited here), we now have a scheme for education reform:

We eliminate all the actual course work. All the student must do to graduate is show up. On time, every time.

For elementary school, the child must be at the library at 8:00 a.m. every weekday for the whole school year except holidays. Once there, he may read, color, or turn around and go back home. But that’s it. Everything else is up to the parents to require.* Show up every day for the school year, and he can advance to the next grade. Do it eight times and he can start high school.

As for the asterisk:

* This part is actually pretty important.

And perhaps the hardest to pull off.

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Bureaucrats in love

I mean, it sure as hell doesn’t sound like a proper space opera:

In William Forstchen’s new science fiction novel, Pillar to the Sky, there are no evil cyborgs, alien invasions or time travel calamities. The threat to humanity is far more pedestrian: tightfisted bureaucrats who have slashed NASA’s budget.

The novel is the first in a new series of “NASA-Inspired Works of Fiction,” which grew out of a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and science fiction publisher Tor. The partnership pairs up novelists with NASA scientists and engineers, who help writers develop scientifically plausible story lines and spot-check manuscripts for technical errors.

I expect this series to contain lots of weather-related stories, because NASA’s been pumping out climate fiction for years now.

This is, of course, the new NASA. The old one — well, remember the old one?

Anyone remember when NASA put people in space or on other worlds? I am too young to actually remember.

They’ve objected to actual space travel ever since some wise-guy astronomer pointed out the existence of binary star systems.

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Vampire weakened

Can you tell the difference between an actual person and a fictional character with the same name? The court says you can:

The real-life Erin Bates says she was devastated when the character with her name became “shallow, materialistic, promiscuous and heartless” in the 10th book of a popular young adult series about fledgling vampires.

“It was very shocking,” said Bates, 27, who once was the personal assistant of Tulsa author P.C. Cast.

So, Bates sued. And, she lost.

Hidden, the tenth book in the House of Night series by Cast and her daughter Kristen, has been generally well received; some Amazon reviewers have been highly critical, but the series is averaging about 4.0 stars. Bates’ complaint:

“The first books — one through nine — the character was a fine character. There were no issues. Right before the 10th book came out, she and I had a falling out … She fired me without any cause … and, then, a couple of months later, the 10th book came out and Erin Bates was a completely different character,” Bates told The Oklahoman.

Cast says no, this was the 10th story in an arc of twelve, and everything was sketched out in advance.

Said the court:

“The Erin Bates character is a teenager while plaintiff is in her mid-20s. The locale of the book is entirely fictional,” Judge Larry Joplin wrote in the appeals court opinion. “The only similarity is the identity of the fictional character’s name and plaintiff’s name.

“Given the fictitious, ‘otherworldly’ setting of defendants’ book and its cast of wholly fictitious vampyres, no reasonable reader of the defendants’ book would conclude the fictional character, Erin Bates, depicts plaintiff acting in the way portrayed in the book.”

Final blow: Bates — the real one — was ordered to pay $5500 toward the Casts’ legal expenses.

We’ll see if Bill Peschel is available for comment.

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So star-crossed

Someone in Verona let the doge out:

What light. So breaks. Such east. Very sun. Wow, Juliet.
What Romeo. Such why. Very rose. Still rose.
Very balcony. Such climb.
Much love. So Propose. Wow, marriage.
Very Tybalt. Much stab. What do?
Such exile. Very Mantua. Much sad.
So, priest? Much sleeping. Wow, tomb.
Such poison. What dagger. Very dead. Wow, end.

(Originally a collaborative Tumblr effort; via this Georganna Hancock tweet.)

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Quote of the week

A retiring teacher blames the state education bureaucracy for making her profession unbearable for her successors:

Dear State Department of Supposed Education: Just a note to let you know that you and the person who has initiated the stream of useless, unnecessary, counterproductive and completely senseless paperwork, data, and time-filler are killing my younger teacher friends and teaching associates. I am watching the sadness, stress, and tears. You see, I know that my 35 years of teaching has been sound, productive and inspiring. I felt it. I lived it. My students grew up with it. They learned from it. They are successful because of it. They are happy adults and earning wonderful livings. And I never entered a single digit of data but the grade they earned. But my younger counterparts have to put up with your insane, meaningless, time and energy-sapping nonsense that inspires no one and is killing the spirits of these fine, dedicated individuals, but more importantly, the spirits of the children whom we lead.

It occurs to me that the state is probably being “persuaded” (for which read “coerced”) to do these things by the Feds, so if you’re with the federal Department of Education, this very likely applies to you too.

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Callous at the palace

Was this where she was heading all along?

Fox has put in development Queen Of Everything, a half-hour animated comedy executive produced by Zooey Deschanel and Sophia Rossi via their Miss Hawkins banner. It hails from 20th Century Fox TV where Miss Hawkins has a first-look deal. Written/executive produced by Ali Waller (American Dad, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon), Queen Of Everything is a workplace comedy set in a modern fairytale world. It centers on an evil queen who comes into power and realizes that running a Queendom isn’t easy when you have no people skills and everyone hates you.

Rossi and Deschanel are also partners, with Molly McAleer, in the Web site HelloGiggles.

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Type-a-phobia

Once, not on a bet or anything, I turned out 300 words on a requested subject in 11 minutes flat. (I had promised no more than 15.)

This is not to say that I can do this sort of thing on a regular basis:

For someone who writes almost compulsively, the way some people scratch their ass, having to sit down and generate organized words on a specific topic is unbelievably hard for me. Therefore, like any task I find even slightly daunting or off-putting, I am splendid at finding reasons to avoid it.

I think maybe ten of the last fifty Vents were planned more than ten or twenty minutes in advance; a lot of times, I just have to faceplant into the keyboard and hope it makes an impression on me.

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Covered stories

Being a person of the masculine persuasion, I’ve read a few magazines that are supposedly aimed at me, and generally, they’re about Things Guys Like To Do, supplemented with Things Guys Should Buy; see, for instance, Maxim, which once spun off its Stuff section into a separate magazine, only to discover that the readers realized that Stuff was basically Lucky with a neckbeard. And yes, there are babe pictures now and then, but they’re of secondary interest, unless you’ve gone twelve years without any feminine attention.

If this sounds uninspiring, consider what women are expected to read:

Women … are continually exposed to a single message: it’s time to have sex. Don’t women deserve adventures of their own, ones that have nothing to do with sex or sexuality? Shouldn’t their magazines celebrate that stuff first, put that stuff ahead of the bedroom agenda? Why does every magazine aimed at women in the supermarket have sex as its primary topic?

Don’t get me wrong: the day I can’t have sex with women I’m going to stare at the wall in the nursing home and cry. I’m all about it. But I don’t think it should be the primary focus of every woman’s life.

Then again, this is the culture that gave us Sandra Fluke, attorney and potential Congressional candidate, who will forever be remembered, not for any actual accomplishments which may be in her future, but for demanding that her contraception be subsidized. A culture in which a person like this is taken seriously is a culture that can’t help but serve up cover stories like “26 Ridiculously Hot Moves.”

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My way-back pages

It began with this:

I duly followed the link, and came upon this:

Remember those claims that Publish America was a traditional publishing house, and would only publish worthy manuscripts? What if you set the quality bar as low as you possibly could, on purpose, and you still got an offer from them? Wouldn’t that be something? In 2005, a group of Sci-fi and Fantasy writers and some other willing pranksters got together to test the theory that Publish America would publish anything at all. Over a holiday weekend, they bashed out the worst manuscript they could come up with, an utter travesty. They called it Atlanta Nights and submitted it, under the author name Travis Tea (lol), to Publish America. Travis Tea got his book deal. This, then is your unicorn chaser. Read more about Atlanta Nights here, and check out Travis Tea’s website (not produced by Publish America). As soon as the writers made their jolly jape public, Publish America retracted their offer. Atlanta Nights lives on, and is still available for purchase through Amazon and B&N.

The point of that piece, of course, was that Publish America had resurfaced under a new name, and writers ought to beware. But I fixated on that title: where had I seen it before?

The answer: on a table in the hallway.

Yes, boys and girls, I paid actual American dollars to Lulu.com for a copy of Atlanta Nights, circa 2007. I remember it being terrible, if not necessarily trollfic terrible, and, now that I think about it, it may have fallen a notch below the pace-setter for this class, 1969′s Naked Came the Stranger by the nonexistent Penelope Ashe. To my horror, there’s even a Wikipedia page for Atlanta Nights.

I must also note that I once wrote a piece about music publishers seeking poems from amateurs, which they promised to turn into actual phonograph records, so it’s not like I had no idea this could have been somebody else’s business model.

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Demand persisting

Each year, BookFinder.com puts out a list of the top 100 most searched for out of print book titles from the previous 12 months. For 2013, the top three slots are occupied by two people. One wrote under his own name for one and under a pseudonym for the other; the other maybe should have adopted an alias, but never would have.

The latter, in the Number One slot, is Sex by Madonna, which perhaps earns its place at the top for reasons other than the subject matter:

The book itself is spiral bound and actually quite fragile making fine copies relatively rare; copies still found in their Mylar wrapping sheet command an extra premium… After the book’s initial, albeit large, print run Sex has never since been reproduced as Madonna has very typically moved on from this phase of her career. As such one can assume that Sex will probably remain out of print indefinitely.

I’m betting most of you can guess the author of the next two.

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Accounting for the offbeat

One reason I gave up the piano after a couple of years is that I could never get the notes on paper to sound correctly inside my head: they were all there, but they fell all over each other, as though they’d just been shoveled in with no regard to tempo. Actual musicians, however, can keep track of these things:

If musicians always played the music in front of them exactly as scored, it could be dull. And, they aren’t automatons — they hear a piece in their own particular way and want to express what it means to them and they have plenty of freedom to do this, within limits. We, the audience, give them that freedom, and also adjust whatever internal metronomes we listen to music with (even those of us who failed 4th grade music have developed a sense of timing) to go with the flow of the music we’re listening to — within limits. This is the rubato. But there are limits, and apparently they are internalized.

According to Wing et al., musicians use linear phase correction to regain synchronicity with either other musicians or with the tick of a metronome. That is, they know when their count is off, because it has been set previously, by the relationship between note values and time between notes, and they are able to tell when they’re off, and adjust to get back into the beat. Musicians learn their skill by spending tens of thousands of hours counting notes; that they can internalize it quickly, and correct it when it’s off is no surprise.

Music is a fundamentally mathematical enterprise, so it should be no surprise that non-musical endeavors based on numbers produce similar phenomena. For instance:

Just last night I was casting on stitches to make a scarf. The pattern called for 85 stitches. There are too many distractions for me to be able to count stitches as I cast on, so I just take time out to count them a few times as I go along. Remarkably — at least I think so — last night when I stopped to count I had cast on exactly 85 stitches. But I’ve had this happen when the pattern called for 285 stitches too. No phase correcting there, do I have an internal counter that turns itself on as I start to cast on, and then alerts me when I’ve met the target number? If so, it seems like a rather frivolous way to spend brain cells though, even if useful.

This variant, however, I have experienced:

And then there’s the internal alarm clock that always goes off 2 minutes before the alarm we’d set. I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard an alarm — except when I couldn’t figure out how to turn the bloody thing off on my phone.

If the alarm is set for six, I almost always find myself sleepily staring at the clock at 5:58. The sense is weekday-sensitive: I don’t stir at anywhere near that time on a Saturday. And I think it’s confined to one particular alarm clock: I tend to sleep through hotel alarms, though I must concede the possibility that I had no idea how to set the darned thing in the first place.

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The diminution of culture

Not everyone who writes ponylore is a lowbrow, or even a mediumbrow. This discussion has broken out at FIMFiction, and it’s interesting enough, I think, to bring over here. It begins with a difficult — in several senses of the word — piano piece by Brian Ferneyhough, and goes from there:

[I]f Ferneyhough is great, I don’t want to be that great.

The march to self-isolation always starts with great works by a great artist — Picasso, Stravinsky, T. S. Eliot, Miles Davis, Joyce. People imitate them, and try to take it further. Then it goes too far, and no one can admit it’s gone too far because by that time everybody in the elite power structure of that art has gone on record praising it.

Is this a uniquely 20th-century event? Has it happened before in history that the leaders of an entire art form deliberately isolated it from the masses? As far as I know, it hasn’t.

I pointed out that the leaders decide who gets the grant money, and this inevitably must affect the artists, few of whom are independently wealthy. But it seems to me that there’s probably something involved besides retention of face and/or grubbing of money.

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Extra dry

As always, no one says it quite the way the British do:

(Found at National Review Online’s The Corner.)

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Read instruments

This chart from Pew Research has been making the rounds, and I suppose it’s intended to be reassuring to those of us who really don’t have a good reason to assume our fellow Americans are as brilliant as we are. (Not that anyone is ever going to accuse me of brilliance, but work with me here.) Anyway, these are the numbers they churned up about America’s Reading Habits:

A snapshot of Reading in America in 2013 from Pew Research

And then the complaints came in. From syaffolee, a member of None of the Above:

This is interesting, although I’m annoyed with the race/ethnicity category. How hard is it to include “other”?

Bill Quick suspects something:

My guess is that there is a fair amount of lying going on. Admitting you haven’t read a book in the past year is tantamount to admitting that you’re a dumbass.

One of the reasons I slapped that “Currently reading” gizmo on the sidebar was to make sure I actually got around to reading some books; there are, I have discovered, people who notice it. (Week before last, someone actually quizzed me about it on Twitter.) I’d be interested to know how many of the respondents to this survey read at least two books last year.

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Rule 34 and the Mane Six

Musician MandoPony has been contemplating the sheer quantity of sexed-up pony pictures out there, and yes, there are some pervs in our midst, but there’s more to it than that:

It’s rare for female characters to be strong leaders who can take care of themselves and save the world over and over again, but they exist in this show. It’s awesome. The ponies don’t need guys to “save” them. They don’t need men to fawn over them. (with the possible exception of Rarity!) They don’t need men to guide them. They don’t need men for anything. Neither do they look down on male characters. They’re neither above, nor below, the males. They’re totally equal and very capable of taking care of themselves without help from the opposite sex. It’s true equality. I freaking love that.

For most guys, I think this idea messes with their heads. It’s so beyond their reasoning skills that they have to objectify the female characters in order to accept them. They need to sexualize the characters in order to bring them back down.

This makes sense in the context of demographics: the 15-25-year-old guy who puts impossibly large crotchboobs on [name of pony] likely has yet to adjust to the reality of life among Actual Women. (As I haven’t, but then I can’t draw.) Of course, this failure to adapt goes both ways, so this term is non-gender-specific.

And this theory does not exclude a possibility more blatantly obvious:

People are perverts. They like to draw sexy versions of everything. Male, female, animal, vegetable, mineral, it doesn’t matter.

Then again, when was this not true?

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Meanwhile on Fascination Street

Kristina Monllos of the Awl would like to know: Why Do So Many Romcoms Use Songs By The Cure?

Have you ever wondered why The Cure is used to soundtrack so many romantic comedies? Have you ever stopped to think about what that implies, that this British deep-goth turned pop-rock band hits a particular sweet spot, like the meet-cute, for this dying movie genre? A few months ago, I went to go see About Time, a middling romcom by the same writer and director of Love Actually, and when I heard “Friday I’m in Love,” something in me snapped.

I suspect that “Killing an Arab” wouldn’t have been quite appropriate.

Of course, this floundering genre recycles the same storylines and tends to focus on white affluent couples and just how wacky a life of privilege can get when love is thwarted, but that’s besides the point and also a totally cuckoo rabbit hole that we shouldn’t go down. The audacity of the music recycling is what pissed me off (the audacity of the other and way more problematic stuff pisses me off too, but let’s talk about that another time). Do they — they being the movie industry puppeteers, natch — really think we don’t notice this pattern? And are they now trying to use songs by The Cure to condition us to have particular emotional responses to new romcoms based on past romcoms we’ve seen, even if the ones we’re seeing have progressively poorer writing and acting? Is Robert Smith involved? Could he even be behind it?

Or maybe it’s just that said puppeteers turn to blubbering buckets of Jell-O® every time they sing along:

However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you

Not that I would know anything about that, of course.

(Via Five Feet of Fury.)

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Sheepskinned

In terms of actual number of days spent in a classroom, I have probably had less formal education than anyone I know. For the most part, this hasn’t kept me from earning a living; I have occasionally bounced off the bottom of the barrel, but geometry (which was my best subject back in ninth grade, or was it tenth?) tells us that the bounce is, of necessity, upward.

That said, I admit to a smidgen of sympathy for the perennial students, who dare not emerge from academia, lest they face this:

The American economy in our time has proved unable to absorb as many college graduates as our colleges and universities are turning out. This is partly because of the economy’s overall weakness, of course, but it also stems from the disinclination of a young adult with a degree to “work with his hands:” i.e., to enter the labor force as a tradesman, a factory hand, or some other variety of manual laborer. The college experience prejudices the graduate against “menial” labor in several obvious ways and in one not-so-obvious one: the cost of four or more years earning a degree can seldom be defrayed on a blue-collar income.

Yet the skilled trades are precisely where the economy lacks sufficient participants. Who among us has not quailed at the sight of a plumber’s or electrician’s invoice? No, they don’t get rich even at the rates we experience today; they’re not busy enough for that. But skilled tradesmen do well enough to support themselves and their families in acceptable comfort. More, as they tend to be self-employed, few of them worry about “being let go.”

I have never quite determined the color of my collar: it’s not white, exactly, but it doesn’t seem all that blue either. Then again, I usually wear a T-shirt (with a pocket) to work, making collar consideration largely irrelevant.

And anyway, “Weird Al” Yankovic predicted all this thirty years ago, when he tangled with “a plumber and an architect, both with a Ph.D.”

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