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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Fark blurb of the week

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A study in grey and black

You go to San Antonio with two expectations: that your fouls will be called and theirs won’t, and that the Spurs will always find a way to foil your defense even when fouls aren’t involved. There were instances of both this evening, though not as many as the stereotype might suggest — and not enough to allow the Spurs to walk away with it. And with the fourth quarter winding down, Kevin Durant, who’d been fairly quiet for the last few minutes, tossed up a pair of treys. With the Thunder up 108-100 and 38 seconds left, there was a ridiculous little contretemps which for all the world looked like a wrestling match between Derek Fisher and Patty Mills. Offsetting T’s were assessed and a jump ball was called. That was the last of the drama, and the Thunder head off to the dreaded (or dreadful) East with a 111-105 victory in hand.

San Antonio started down a couple of players: Danny Green and Tiago Splitter were in recovery mode. Then Kawhi Leonard exited at halftime with a hand injury, and there was some brief concern when Tony Parker, just coming off a bruised shin, took a trip to the locker room. Not to worry; Parker carried a great deal of the load tonight for the Spurs, with a game-high, almost Durantesque 37 points (14-22), while the ageless Tim Duncan came up with his twenty thousandth double-double, 14 points and 13 boards.

KD himself hit for 36 on 12-22 shooting, though he turned the ball over a very unDurantesque eleven times. And anyway, the real story for OKC was Reggie Jackson, who has gone for 20 points or more in all three games against the Spurs: this time he knocked down 27, tying his career high, and served up eight assists. Serge Ibaka had 14 points and five blocks, in what is starting to seem normal for him. In the Battle of the Benches, the Spurs won, 35-30. (The Steven Adams Foul Report: three in 14 minutes.)

Travel day tomorrow, followed by a Friday night in Beantown and a Saturday in the City of Brotherly Fisticuffs. The Celtics and the Sixers between them have 27 wins; the Thunder just got their 33rd. Despite that, no predictions will be made from this desk.

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The unflirty dozen

A title I could not resist: “12 Fashion Trends MeredithAncret Hates (But Apparently Some Idiot Put On A Runway Anyway.” I looked at all twelve, and maybe one might have been marginally defensible. Maybe.

One thing she cannot stand is the over-the-thigh boot:

Are you a pirate, a dominatrix, or an extra in The Matrix?

Otherwise, please no.

Does this mean that a woman becomes undatable for owning — or worse, wearing — stuff like this? Well, no, but:

I’m allowed preferences in my own clothing and I’m definitely allowed to have preferences in what I like to see on a woman. So what? Do I expect random women on the street to strip off the offending item right there because I think it looks stupid?


And I bet most men don’t expect that either.

I don’t expect that even in the unlikely event that I’ve lured them away from the street.

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The truth will be painful, but it must be spoken:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why doesn't my automatic car not hit 5th gear?

We’ll ignore the double negative and read on:

Hello, I have a 2012 corolla. It has 30,000 miles in it. I’ve noticed that whenever i drive it never hits 5th gear and it just stays at 4th and it will get up past 3,000 rpm without shifting while keeping a constant shift. I heard it may be the overdrive button but i don’t know where to find it in my car. Please help. Thank you.

The overdrive button is almost certainly on the shift lever. But the key here is “2012 Corolla,” which was sold with a four-speed automatic. There’s no fifth gear for it not to hit.

I’d hate like hell to find this out at 30,000 miles, but not as much as I’d hate not finding it out at all.

And yes, this is probably in the owner’s manual, but I’m beginning to think that people throw it away the moment they leave the dealer’s lot.

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Wiener unwrap

“We’ll fix it in post” is a standard excuse in the making of motion pictures, in case someone left a boom in the frame, or the dresser forgot the talent’s pocket square, or all manner of unwanted visuals — including, it appears, condoms:

Since the passage of Measure B [pdf] in 2012, which strictly imposes the use of condoms on all porn sets in Los Angeles, triple-x movie production has largely begun to move out of the San Fernando Valley. However, gay porn company Falcon Studios is now attempting to hearken back to the days before the measure was passed. In their latest release California Dreamin’ 1, the studio filmed all its scenes with condoms but managed to digitally remove the prophylactics in post-production.

But Falcon’s not in Los Angeles, but up in the Bay Area, where Measure B does not apply. What’s the deal?

[T]he film is meant to tap into fantasies of bareback sex in the 1970s and 80s, while also aligning with the safe sex ethos that is currently being enforced in LA. “With this movie I really wanted to capture the essence of that time, when life seemed more carefree and spontaneous,” said [director Tony] Dimarco. “In keeping with this concept, I felt that condoms need to be addressed.”

I feel a twinge of pity for the technicians who had to perform that particular task: I have to figure that there likely weren’t too many scenes in this film that didn’t involve wangage.

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Strange froot

“Froot,” of course, is an entity distinct from “fruit”:

It turns out the “fruit flavored” circles touted by Toucan S[c]am are actually just “froot-blend”-flavored. Yep, all those pretty ROYGBV dyes don’t mean diddly, since each color tastes exactly the same!

This, of course, called for further investigation:

We handed our three blind tasters random samples of Froot Loops and asked them to guess which color they had been given. The results were pretty sporadic, with nearly each color being wrongly identified as around three or four others. The yellow loop, for example, was guessed to be red, orange, and purple twice; the purple loop, red twice, and then yellow, and green. Our Trix and Fruity Pebbles tests afterward yielded similar results.

Sigh. Maybe we’re all better off with plain old Cheerios.

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Call it a breakthrough

If I’m Terry Stotts, my game plan against the Thunder is pretty simple: let Kevin Durant do what he will, and box out everyone else. For the first half, it seemed like they were doing exactly that, and Portland held the lead for the first 23 minutes and change; OKC managed to pull ahead by one, briefly, but it didn’t last. About midway through the third, radio guy Matt Pinto observed that in the previous two games in the series, the Blazers had outscored the Thunder in the third quarter, 64-45. At the time, the Blazers had indeed outscored the Thunder in the third quarter. That string was broken by, of course, Durant, who capped an 11-0 Thunder run with a 24-footer assisted by Jeremy Lamb to give OKC the quarter, 26-23, and a two-point lead, 77-75.

The unraveling came with about four minutes left, after Lamb bricked two freebies, two particularly heinous calls and a Durant expostulation that earned a technical. As has happened before, though, irritation led to something very like inspiration, and the Thunder cranked up the defense, highlighted with three blocks on a single Blazers possession. With 48 seconds left, OKC had bounded to a seven-point lead; just for the sheer hell of it, Durant dropped a trey, his sixth of the night, the Blazers finally got a shot after a five-minute drought — they had even missed the free throw on Durant’s T — and the Thunder finally got a win over Portland, 105-97.

As always, the Thunder didn’t have any consistent way to contain LaMarcus Aldridge until the fourth quarter, when the combination of fatigue and Kendrick Perkins negated his efforts. Still, Aldridge finished at 29 with 16 rebounds, and equally big Robin Lopez had a double-double of his own (10 points, 10 boards). Four other Blazers scored in double figures.

Only four from the Thunder scored in double figures, but one of them was Durant, who knocked down 46 on 17-25 shooting. (Aldridge, I note, was 12-26.) Serge Ibaka was down on points (just 10 on 4-15), but up on swats (five blocks). And Steven Adams got through 17 minutes of playing time with only two fouls.

There’s maybe just enough time to catch one’s breath before tomorrow night in San Antonio. Then again, the Thunder are 2-0 against the Spurs this season; if they’re not thinking “Aw, hell, we can take these guys,” well, they ought to be.

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Down to earth, practically

After you’ve seen Sandra Bullock in a spacesuit, kinda sorta, you need something like this as a palate cleanser. This Lanvin wrap served her well at the Screen Actors Guild Awards:

Sandra Bullock at the SAG Awards 2014

Bullock, never taking herself too seriously, deadpanned to a correspondent from E! that she’d made it herself, after Lanvin sent over the fabric and a sewing machine.

I doubt, though, that she actually went to Taco Bell after the show.

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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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Roth waxing again

With Doctor No saying no to the last two years of his term, all of a sudden there’s some political news in the state that doesn’t involve gay couples, Satan, or Satanic gay couples.

Congressman James Lankford, never, ever short of ambition, has already announced for Tom Coburn’s Senate seat. And he has name recognition in one-fifth of the state, which surely will help. (Folks down in Little Dixie will go “Who?”)

A more interesting race, I surmise, will involve the selection of Lankford’s replacement. Tom Guild, the previous Democratic sacrificial lamb, has yet to say anything. Meanwhile, former Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth has let it be known that he’s around:

“I have always said, that public service feeds my soul,” Roth said. “The citizens of Oklahoma have given me the honor of serving them in public office, and I look forward to discussing the possibility of serving the citizens of this great state, once again, with my friends and family over the coming days and weeks. I do believe our democracy is best when it includes all people.”

The one possibly worrisome aspect of Roth — when he was on the Corp Comm, he seemed awfully buddy-buddy with Chesapeake’s Aubrey McClendon — may or may not have evaporated with McClendon’s departure from CHK. Still, who among the Republicans can beat him? Maybe another Commissioner:

Edmond businesswoman and Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas said today she will seek the Republican nomination for Congress in the 5th District… “My roots here in Oklahoma’s Fifth District run deep, with connections in communities from Shawnee to Bethany,” said Douglas. “All across the district, conservatives like me believe in the same things: lower taxes, limited government, and protecting our Constitutional freedoms.”

The 5th is very Republican — R+13, last I looked — but a Roth/Douglas matchup might be pretty close, and maybe even entertaining.

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It does not say “Please re-Mitt”

So how, exactly, would things be different today if a few hundred thousand more people had pulled the lever, or the dysfunctional equivalent thereof, for Mitt Romney? Not a whole lot, says Bill Quick:

I’d be hard-pressed to figure out how our post-2012 governance would have differed under Romney versus what we did end up with.

I mean, do you honestly think that Romneycare — whoops, I mean Obamacare — would have been repealed by now? Or that the Senate would not have passed scamnesty for illegals, and the House wouldn’t desperately be trying to figure out how to do likewise? Or that the NSA wouldn’t still be scooping up every conceivable bit of data about every American it can get its hands on?

Jim Hightower, from the way-left side of the fence, called this one a long time ago: “Some people say we need a third party in this country. I think we could use a second one.”

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My life in a nutshell

Even vaguely resembles my desk:

Osborne Executive

The computer on display is the Osborne Executive, intended as the follow-on product to the Osborne 1, two of which I used to own: only a handful of these — and you had to have big hands, because they were large and unwieldy — managed to slink out of the factory before the company went bankrupt.

And given the retro technology that pervades Equestria, I’ve got to believe that if ponies have computers, they’re running CP/M.

(Unsourced picture from Derpibooru.)

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That’s all she rote

You want the young’uns to learn the basic stuff? Drill, baby, drill:

We all used to learn one standard way to multiply two-digit numbers, now there are a variety of strategies. Sometimes more strategies is better, but sometimes it’s just confusing and unnecessary. As one math prof says,

“The lack of structure in the curriculum really interferes with the students’ ability to become procedurally competent enough, so when they’re challenged with higher level math, their working memory overloads, and they’re completely confused and can’t cope. But it’s not because the children are stupid or unable [to do it]. It’s just that the structure of the learning experience has been too casual.”

That one method that was drilled in our heads was — and is — very effective. And now that we’re seeing that this new way that offers numerous strategies and requires written explanations to prove understand — “Why does 7 x 6 equal 42?” — isn’t working as well as we hoped, and the numbers are starting to look bad for us, hopefully we’ll switch back.

Nor is this premise limited to arithmetic:

The same thing happened when I was a kid, and we learned a 44-letter alphabet to teach us how to read better. Luckily, my mom taught me to read at home already, but I still can’t spell worth beans. When that failed across the board, we went back to regular phonetic learning for an interim until some guru discovered the “whole language” method — which was also a disaster. We’re currently back to sounding out words again because it’s worked for a really, really long time.

Education, no less than other segments of the culture, has its own periodic fads, which eventually pass. At least, you hope they pass.

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Sea shells? See shore

Modest aspirations, these, or maybe not:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I want to create a website for creating websites. like people can create website directly using that website?

Oh, he could probably do it, but I’d hate to see the documentation, which would inevitably read something like this:

Read the rest of this entry »

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The order of stone-casting

A Shreveport Councilman gets his world rocked, so to speak:

A City Council member in Shreveport, La., has abandoned his effort to repeal an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance, following outcry from the public, including a transgender woman who dared him to stone her to death.

The council passed the ordinance in December by a vote of 6-1, following a successful campaign by a pro-LGBT coaltion known as Be Fair Shreveport. The ordinance, which bans discrimination in housing and employment within city limits on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, received its lone “no” vote from Councilman Ron Webb. During the council’s debate last December, Webb voiced his opposition, saying, “The Bible tells you homosexuals are an abomination,” adding that he does not socialize with LGBT people, according to TV station KSLA.

At least, he thinks he doesn’t.

Still, he wasn’t about to give up:

Ten days after the council approved the ordinance, Webb drafted a proposal designed to repeal the nondiscrimination policy. On Tuesday, dozens of people registered to testify at the City Council meeting, ready to speak out against Webb’s measure, report Lone Star Q.

But none were quite as bold as Pamela Raintree, a transgender woman. Raintree called out the Bible-quoting councilman, daring him to stone her to death.

“Leviticus 20:13 states, ‘If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death,'” Raintree began. “I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smoke screen for personal prejudices.”

By the end of the meeting, Webb had withdrawn his motion to repeal.

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