Archive for Almost Yogurt

But they’re classics!

At least, that’s what we’re told:

Let me get it out of the way. I may well be an uncouth, uncultured, redneck from a backwater, flyover state. Guilty, guilty, maybe, and yes. Despite these serious cultural deficiencies I am not necessarily uneducated. My Alma Mater is consistently ranked fairly high in the various rankings published every year of colleges and universities. In addition, I have always read — a lot. If you take the various lists of 100 books you should read, I have read most of them, including War and Peace.

To the meat of the matter: Catch-22 is drivel; unreadable schmaltz. So is From Here to Eternity. In fact, many of the so-called classics are crap, Moby Dick first and foremost. Joyce, Cervantes, and Milton all are impossible to read. Hawthorne I can manage, but why would I want to? Bunyan, blah. I will take bawdy Moll Flanders over The Vicar of Wakefield any day.

I’ll defend the Vicar should it become necessary. Still:

I wonder how many people who tout Proust as a genius ever tried to read his work? How many finished it? That, my friends, is the point of this post. Do not let anyone tell you what to like or what is good.

I’ve known people who started À la recherche du temps perdu; I’m not sure if I know anyone who finished it.

Comments (8)

Game of Thrown Up

Severian remains unimpressed with Game of Thrones:

George R. R. Martin obviously thinks he’s brilliantly “deconstructing” the tropes of your standard High Fantasy sword-n-sandal epic. By making everyone in Westeros a vicious, nihilistic, amoral scumbag, he thinks he’s mocking the pretensions of the 1%. In Martin’s world, anyone who thinks he’s a hero — or even aspires to be anything other than a vicious, nihilistic, amoral scumbag — is either a fraud or a fool. The only “sympathetic” character left standing (for a very loose value of “sympathetic”) is Tyrion Lannister, a malformed, hideously scarred dwarf.

In terms of irony level, this is about 0.72 Alanis.

But that’s the thing. The more grimy details he packs in — the more rapes, gaping wounds, tortures, degradations, rapes, betrayals, double-crosses, rapes, triple-crosses, rapes, incest, rapes, etc. he shows — the more he reinforces his own pretensions. Like the professor inventing ever more arcane jargon, Martin thinks that by rubbing our faces in it yet again, he’s really putting one over on us. In reality, of course, there’s no “there” there, and there hasn’t been for about 2200 pages.

This is not to say one must be a conservative to write epic fantasy. But again, as with Conan (my interpretation, anyway), even a thorough deconstruction of a trope must acknowledge the trope’s conventions. A hero has a tragic flaw that brings him down. Martin has no heroes, only viewpoint characters, and they’re nothing but flaws. The world is interesting and the writing is intermittently good, but without a moral center, epic fantasy — even a deconstruction of epic fantasy — is just one damn thing after another. Plus rape.

To be fair, this rape shtick was done better by Mel Brooks.

Comments (2)

Quote of the week

News Item: In January 2018 curators at Manchester Art Gallery caused controversy by suddenly removing one of [John William] Waterhouse’s most famous and popular works, Hylas and the Nymphs, from public display. The painting was replaced with a notice explaining that a “temporary” space had been left “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection”. On its website the curators explained that this was being done in connection with a current debate on historical cultural depictions of submissive women.

The Hyacinth Girl, on this controversy:

The thing about the movement (although Waterhouse is a bit late to be considered a proper Pre-Raphaelite, from what I’ve read) is that it preserved more than arbitrary beauty standards of the time. The Waterhouse painting in question, Hylas and the Nymphs, is the rendering of a Greek myth about Hercules. Waterhouse also painted Circe from the Odyssey, Ulysses and the Sirens, Boreas (wind), Jason and Medea, Echo and Narcissus, and so on. He envisioned scenes from Shakespeare: Miranda, Ophelia. He created a visual representation of the famous line from Herrick: “Gather ye rosebuds.” The movement loved beautiful women, classic literature, and mythology. They preserved more than beauty. They preserved major themes and ideas from throughout Western history and culture. Their paintings recall the best and most beautiful milestones of a culture that has shaped the world for the better. But this culture is one we are taught to despise.

So the censorship of Hylas, and similar censorious acts throughout the art world, are about more than naked nymphs (although they are quite lovely). They are about the censorship of cultural memory, and the attempt to erase our contributions to civilization as a whole, in order to create a historical narrative more in line with the revisionist SJW worldview. You can’t have art students asking what happens to Hylas after those pretty girls get done with him. You can’t have indoctrinated youth looking up King Cophetua after viewing the all-consuming longing with which he gazes at the beggar maid captured by Burne-Jones. You can’t have them asking about Millais’s Ophelia and her madness. Just as the Renaissance painters are capable of starting conversations about the Christian Bible, the Pre-Raphalites draw you into their worlds of myth, fairy tales, and unparalleled works of literature that the SJW community has long fought to erase.

If 1896 is irrelevant to your worldview, believe me, 2018 is more so.

And Hylas was returned to public exhibition this week, telling me that this was basically a stunt to sell a point of view that they couldn’t get anyone to swallow otherwise.

Comments (3)

No explanation is required

Not that this is the only example of HP songcraft:


Never not working

Connie Sawyer circa 1935In 2014, Connie Sawyer, by all appearances quite the ingenue in her day, appeared in an episode of New Girl as the Oldest Woman in the World. What makes this remarkable is that (1) she has three other credits in IMDb in that year of 2014, and (2) that photo dates back to the early 1930s. At the very least, you’d think of her as the World’s Oldest Working Actress,” and so she was; she took on a recurring role as James Woods’ mother in the Ray Donovan series when she was 101.

Clearly she had a lot of fun in this bit from Dumb and Dumber (1994):

The only way she was ever going to stop working was if the skinny guy with the scythe showed up, and he didn’t make it until yesterday. Connie, born Rosie Cohen in 1912, died quietly at her Southern California home yesterday at the age of 105.

Comments (1)

Quote of the week

The First Amendment shall ultimately prevail, says Cobb, because its opponents are too stupid for words:

Despite the fact that feebleminded nitwits are accorded one vote in this great nation, they have proven incapable of staging the kind of revolution among their fatuous fraternity required to overturn the First Amendment rights of the rest of us. While we are mindful that a number of dubious “institutions of higher learning” as well as many dainty lily-livered website editors have been cowed by the shrill whinging of the moronic meddlers, these are but farts in the wind: offensive, boorish, putrid and largely imperceptible by those who dealt it, yet soon to be dispersed but not forgotten.

The greater threat are those duplicitous criminal facilitators who have been made wealthy through the aggregation of the nickels and dimes of idiot attention, the purveyors of “reality” in the media and legal professions always looking to cash in on the lowest common denominator. In league with the humorless screechy drama queens who interrupt sensible society with their obsessions, there is a cadre of cads, ever present and primed to overturn the works of more thoughtful and reflective citizens of the republic. These creepy comrades have managed to twist legitimate universities into Möbius contortions of civility and discourse which only appear to be two-sided.

We are now at the point where all news should be considered Fake News until proven otherwise. Efforts by the likes of Facebook and Twitter and Google to persuade the public that they’re doing something about that may be easily dismissed as mere corporate desires for a piece of the action, nothing more. Truth is worth nothing in a phony marketplace of ideas that constantly clamors for bigger and better lies. This situation cannot prevail for long, and it won’t.

Comments (1)

Floundering philosophy

Before you shout “Abalone!” I remind you that this does, however, scale.

Your job is fish

(Via Miss Cellania.)

Comments (2)

But don’t even think about looking

Brooke Ventura, editor of Modern Reformation, on beauty as a commodity in this secular-ish age:

Beauty has a hard time in confessional Protestant circles, and it’s easy to understand why. In our sex-saturated society, this powerful and elevating value has been exploited and degraded to the level of commercial property. Once ranked as the necessary companion to truth and goodness, it’s devolved into little more than the ultimate selling point for everything from smartphones and cars to Hollywood starlets and politicians. As heirs to a historically iconoclastic church, we’re not sure what to do with it. Scripture at once gives us Solomon and his bride’s ecstatic rejoicings at one another’s beauty, and Peter’s admonition that women ought not to let their adorning be with “the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry.” If we’re honest, the simplicity (we won’t call it ugliness) of the church buildings we worship in today has more to do with primarily pragmatic considerations than scriptural principle.

I’ve seen the first half of this paragraph pasted onto various Tumblr nudist posts. Go figure.

Comments (5)

Tragedy Central

Always a good thing, say I:

Look at the movie The Sound of Music, which I absolutely do NOT have in my collection and I don’t want it, I have normal plumbing and it won’t go down no matter how long you flush. Let’s imagine a multiplex. In one theater, there is Julie Andrews shrieking melodiously. In the other, there’s Fight Club, a movie based entirely on despair so deep and empty that the hero becomes two people. Now, do I want to be Maria or Marla? Which movie are people lining up with pockets full of smuggled snacks to see?

Your entire membership depends on this, so answer carefully.

The answer is, of course, the third theater, which is showing Deadpool and honestly, if you didn’t guess that, you have to buy lobby popcorn.

There is, of course, a point to this:

The point is, as much as I have one, is that sad beats glad. Mostly.

The other point is, everyone has a different idea of sad. And in entertainment, sad often equals glad.

Especially if you’re having to choose between The Lost Weekend and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Comments (1)

Somewhat fractured fairy tales

Title to remember: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, adapted for the stage by William Massolia. City Theatre in Blue Springs, Missouri is putting it on in March.

Enter Gunner. He’s the youngest of my son’s three kids, and after doing a school play and stuff like that, he went up and auditioned for the show.

And got in.

I’m just tickled at the idea of Kids Being Really Good At Things, especially since I myself never was.

Comments (3)

Can you dig them?

Holes are in the news these days for some inscrutable reason:

How about the countries maligned by Trump — El Salvador, Haiti, and countries in Africa? In El Salvador, La Prensa Gráfica renders it as agujeros de mierda, “holes of shit” (or “shit holes”), but in the headline made it agujeros de mier.., which is like putting shi…holes. I’m sure their consideration for the delicate eyes of their readers was appreciated; they could all pretend he said Wednesday holes (agujeros de miércoles) and imagine the accent on the e. (There’s really no other Spanish word that mier… could stand for.)

In Haiti, of course, the description would be in French:

In Haiti, if you look in Le Nouvelliste, you will find it rendered as trou de merde, which is literal. But the French word trou is a more all-purpose word than Spanish agujero; it can also mean “pit”, “grave”, “mouth”, and — yes — “insignificant town”. (As it happens, though, trou de merde can be found in French literature — all the way back in Rabelais — meaning “asshole”.)

Curiously, the niftiest variation on this theme comes from a non-maligned country:

[N]o one can quite top the Croatians for this. It’s not that their best word translates exactly to shithole or Bumfuck nowhere. It almost does it better (although Google Translate does render it as “shithole”). It’s vukojebina, and it means “the place wolves fuck” — or, if we were to make a real equivalent English place name, something like Wolffuckington or Wolf-fuck-ville. (Birds may not lay eggs there and dogs may not shit there, but the wolves? They get busy.)

Which should insure a steady supply of wolves for the next millennium or so. And if nothing else, this is a dandy illustration of how Donald Trump, whether he wants to be or not, is a source of inspiration to us all.

Comments (4)

It seemed funny at the time

And then I ordered a couple of sheets of them, which diminished the humor factor by about 13 percent:

US postage stamp - Repeal of the Stamp Act

Of course, this had nothing to do with postage, or, for that matter, the United States of America, which did not exist as such in 1766. The Act itself — well, this was its title in Parliament:

An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties, in the British colonies and plantations in America, towards further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; and for amending such parts of the several acts of parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned.

Passed on the 22nd of March 1765, the Act went into effect in November and set the standard for Unpopular Legislation in the colonies. In February 1766 Parliament voted to repeal the tax; George III gave his assent the following month. Imagine that: getting rid of an unpopular law.

Comments (2)

Rice is nice

That’s what they say, anyway:

The trailer did not go over so well with the Indian press:

The … Basmati Blues trailer is a montage of stereotypical scenes of rural India with focus on spicy food, overcrowded public transport, farms, and bad English.

For the defense:

Director Dan Baron and co-producer Monique Caulfield issued a statement expressing regret, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “We deeply regret any offense caused by the Basmati Blues trailer,” they said. “We have heard a number of voices that have understandably reacted to a trailer that is not representative of the film as a whole. Unfortunately, the international trailer has given the wrong impression of the film’s message and heart.”

The makers clarified that the movie is “not about an American going abroad to solve India’s problems.” They added: “At its heart, this film is about two people who reach across cultures, fight against corporate greed, and find love,” and called it “a love letter to multiple eras of Bollywood cinema, musicals, and classic Hollywood romantic comedies. We are confident that the film, when seen in its entirety, will bear out our appreciation and respect for India and its people.”

That said, the trailer has been recut.

And if you’d like to think of this as a Bollywood picture in English, you’ll want to know that Basmati Blues runs a mere hour and 46 minutes, at which point a real Bollywood picture is just getting warmed up. Still, anything with Utkarsh Ambudkar in it can’t be all bad, can it?


Animated antitrust

This makes more sense than I expected it to:

Warner Bros. owns both Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera. These are pretty compatible properties, in the overall. Both have a lot of cartoons with shorter segments aimed at younger audience. They could even do things like put them in the same “universe” for their next project like Tiny Toons, in effect making Huckleberry Hound a Looney Tunes character. Why not?

The problem is that the most popular Hanna-Barbera property (except, perhaps, Scooby-Doo) already has a Looney Tunes counterpart: Tom & Jerry. Does a universe with Sylvester and Tweety really need a Tom & Jerry? Huckleberry Hound meets Foghorn J. Leghorn has some appeal, Tom meeting Sylvester would just be weird.

Although Tom and Sylvester do have that one thing in common: constantly being bested by the Smaller Creature.

How about Yosemite Sam and Quick Draw McGraw?

Comments (3)

Why we rule

It’s simple: we survive crappy weather like this. Hell, some of us flourish in it:

Weather extremes remind me why humans are the predominant creature on this planet. We are remarkably adaptable. We can survive in a wide range of temperatures from bone chilling cold to numbingly hot. We thrive in deserts and swamps. We live in mountains and prairies. Not the fastest of animals, we can run for hours on end. A man can run a horse into the ground. Man is cunning and despite our veneer of civilization, surprisingly vicious. Man can eat nearly anything, including our fellow man, in a pinch. Whether you credit an infinite Supreme Being, Mother Nature, or random genetic mutation, Homo Sapiens is adaptable. I could fly from freezing weather to overheated tropics today with no ill effects at all. There is a reason we are at the top of the food chain, the true King of Beasts. I am willing to prove it if anyone wants to send me to the tropics. I can name some Caribbean Islands that would suffice as proper testing grounds.

And there’s just one more thing:

Further evidence of our exalted status as top predator: it is cold outside. I could go out and survive, but I don’t have to. And I won’t.

I’ll just point out that nobody ever mentions these facts on a sunny spring day.

Comments (1)

The Ungoodlands

Bifurcation, HO!

We are seeing two distinctly separate sub-genres of adventure-drama, being put together for the benefit of two distinctly separate classes of audience. The world, after all, is divided into two groups of people: The ones who do, and do not, lust for adventure in The Badlands.

That’s a term I am coining — I can think of none other — to describe the situation in which you immerse yourself when you travel through the actual badlands. Out there, in the badlands of the United States, if you get yourself hurt, it’s bad. If you find yourself at the mercy of the wildlife around you, for whatever reason; if you run out of water; if you bust a radiator hose, run out of gas, or discover it’s been too long since you changed the oil, it’s bad. Hence the name. In fiction, such a situation brings a flavor of drama that is altogether missing from Coruscant and Hogwarts.

I mean, just think about it. If the snake bites you, not only are there no medical services available, but there’s no one to hear you holler. No one would ever know. Not for awhile, when the sun is bleaching your bones. In the inner city, maybe you’d be surrounded by hostiles and this would bring a whole different sense of danger. But, that sense of danger would be different. The badlands bring a story that is unique unto itself. Obi-Wan summed it up succinctly: “The Jundland wastes are not to be traveled lightly.” The Old Trilogy, like this new Disney project, writhed away in The Badlands. The Prequels merely poked around a bit with such settings, concentrating for the most part on murky political intrigue in the capitol. This, more than Jar Jar Binks, brought about their ruin. It wasn’t because of what was there; it was because of what was missing.

I suppose it ought to be possible to fuse these two settings — say, Harry Potter and the Treasure of the Sierra Madre — but I imagine that might be hard to sell.

Comments (2)

Writing for one’s trunk

Few of today’s scribes, says Francis W. Porretto, will be remembered as “great”:

In part that’s because there are so many writers today, if we allow the title to anyone who’s ever emitted a Kindle eBook. But in larger measure, it’s because there’s a whole lot of detritus obscuring good storytelling in our time. It begins with emphasis on “style.” It ends with “message fiction.” In the middle are the emissions of critics, most of whom couldn’t compose a comprehensible note to their mothers, and literary prizes most commonly awarded by prize juries on the basis of personal acquaintances, commonality of style, and “politically correct” sentiments.

Most of the garbage will get caught in the filter of time. The good stuff will be read by generations to come. Their readers will select from those survivors which books and writers are to be called great. We won’t be given a vote, except by what we choose to buy, read, and recommend to one another today.

And the contents of our future shortlist might well surprise our present-day selves.

“Message fiction” ranges from innocuous to inane to insulting. Every subgroup of the species apparently has to have its own subgenre. Amazon sent me a couple of snippets of what passes for “nudist fiction,” because algorithm A happened to collide with algorithm B. From what I’ve seen, these stories exist because otherwise-uninteresting people in their birthday suits want to read about other otherwise-uninteresting people in their birthday suits. (And there’s Stranger in a Strange Land, in which Valentine Michael Smith is perfectly comfortable when skyclad, but that’s about as minor a plot point as exists anywhere in Heinlein.) I did read a perfectly scurrilous novella about the secret love life of Donald J. Trump, but it did have its amusing points, and more important, it wasn’t intended to make any political points at any level anyone would consider serious. Authors who want to Save The World are doing readers no favors.

Comments (3)

Just for the taste of it

HelloGiggles tossed this up on Facebook:

Let's talk pubes

I guess this is the way you get some clicks on an article you posted a year and a half ago.

“Their own flavor”? Just seems awkward somehow.

Comments (2)

Coffee, hold the starfish

Pantone told us earlier this year:

Prince’s legacy and love for purple will live on thanks to Pantone. The global color authority announced that they’ve teamed up with the late singer’s estate to pay tribute to his life and legacy with a custom hue called “Love Symbol #2.”

Somehow I have a feeling this isn’t it:

Pantone Ultra Violet for 2018

For some reason, that makes me think more of The Artist Formerly Known As Elizabeth Woolridge Grant Lana Del Rey than of Prince.

Comments (4)

Free-range action figures

And if you’re not the kind of guy who pales when he realizes the truth of the matter, you can call them “dolls.” Because, you know, they are. And there’s no need to keep them locked away in their original packing material:

I always chuckle when I remove these from boxes — way back when I was a high schooler collecting dolls, there were a lot of arguments in the doll magazines about whether or not to remove from boxes. A lot of people were really hardcore that the dolls should not merely have their boxes kept (I usually don’t, any more — no room) but should be NRFB — never removed from box. And even back then, when I still believed I could sell them for actual money some day, I thought that seemed like no fun.

Nowadays, I realize that you’re not going to recoup any sort of investment on these. It’s only the really old rare stuff — like the old Jumeau bisque dolls, or the odd rare celebrity dolls of the 1940s — that fetches high prices, and you’re better off unboxing and enjoying. (And also — some modern doll collectors have found their dolls get discolored or otherwise spoiled from the packing materials. So even more reason to let the dolls be free and have fun.)

Twilight Sparkle still watches over my desk. (And lurking in the shadows somewhere is Aflac’s quacked-up duck. Both talk, when I can be bothered to check Twi’s batteries.)

Comments (5)

Grey Fox

The 24-hour news cycle, suggests the Z Man, doesn’t have a whole day’s worth of demographics anymore:

The trouble these days is the legacy media has an audience that is very old. The audience for Fox News is close to 70. The young and hip Rachel Maddow is popular with menopausal cat ladies. The Sunday chat shows have a similar demographic. Gen X was probably the last generation to engage with newspapers and TV chat shows. Even there, most people under 50 are getting their news from on-line sources. Increasingly, those on-line sources operate in opposition to the legacy media, politically and culturally.

That’s where a guy like Ben Shapiro is seen as the millennial Bill Safire. None other than the New York Times has declared him “the voice of the conservative millennial movement” and “the cool kid’s philosopher.” Shapiro is described as a rock star on the college campus, meaning his audience is not on blood thinners.

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention for the last half-century, the same “legacy media” have always had an audience of maiden aunts and such. Barbara Walters was hired by the Today show as eye candy back in 1961; now pushing ninety, she’s only partially retired, because, well, who else is there? And the perennial Fox lineup of gloriously miniskirted blondes is easier to deal with when the audio volume is down near zero. Very little reason for millennials and GenXers to bother. Good night, Chet.

Comments (6)

Talking about Kevin

As American baby names go, “Kevin” is on the downward slope after peaking in the early 1960s. As far as Europe is concerned, that’s a Good Thing:

Have you heard of “Kevinism”? It’s Europe’s bias against people who have first names that are “culturally devalued” like Kevin, Chantal, Mandy and Justin — names that were popularized by American pop culture, typically.

In the case of Kevin, actors like Kevin Costner and Kevin Bacon — not to mention the very successful 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone, in which the lead character was a young Kevin — made the name very trendy overseas in the early 1990s. In fact, it hit #1 in several European countries, including France and Switzerland.

But after the trend cooled off, the backlash began. And it’s so bad now that, just a few years ago, a German schoolteacher told researchers that Kevin is “not a name, but a diagnosis.”

As for the French:

A Reddit thread on “what name is considered to be trashy in your country” had commenters from France saying that calling someone “a Kevin” is “practically an insult” denoting childishness and low intelligence because of the association with film and TV.

Yet to be established: any anti-Kevin backlash in the States, largely because Americans, with the possible exception of John Kerry, who incidentally served in Vietnam, give at most half a damn what the Europeans think.

Comments (4)

Antisocial strata

Now and again, Francis W. Porretto will quote a passage from his fiction to illustrate a point applicable down here in the Teeming Milieu, and this one (from Chosen One) strikes me as being especially so:

“The age of kings is far behind us, Malcolm.”

“It never ended. Men worthy of the role became too few to maintain the institution.”

“And I’m … worthy?”

If he wasn’t, then no worthy man had ever lived, but I couldn’t tell him that.

“There’s a gulf running through the world, Louis. On one side are the commoners, the little men who bear tools, tend their gardens, and keep the world running. On the other are the nobles, who see far and dare much, and sometimes risk all they have, that the realm be preserved and the commoner continue undisturbed in his portion. There’s no shortage of either, except for the highest of the nobles, the men of unbreakable will and moral vision, for whom justice is a commitment deeper than life itself.”

Down here in Serf City, we commoners follow the pattern. But our nobles are wholly undeserving of the term: they see nothing, and dare nothing that might risk their individual positions in the hierarchy. Wills are easily breakable today; moral vision exists only in myth and legend, and “justice” has been perverted far beyond recognition.

The preening dimwits who speak of “the right side of history” have never read any, and have themselves experienced only the tiniest fragment thereof. They are the men, the women, who have become “too few to maintain the institution.” Inevitably, an institution will be forced upon them.

Comments (5)

This poo is a sham

One of the many secrets that They (you, of course, remember Them) have been keeping from us all these years:

I am nearly 51 years old and I only recently found out that I am not supposed to wash my hair every single day. What? It was about two years ago when I started working retail in the cosmetics section of a department store when I discovered this information.

Still, “your mileage may vary” continues to be the rule in the Real World:

One time, I did try to go a few days without washing my hair every day. I made it three whole days. Oh my word, I thought I was going to go insane. My scalp all itchy while my hair lay limp with oil. Gross. Just gross.

I backed off from the once-a-day regimen about three years ago. I could be wrong, but I think I’m losing less hair. Not that I had all that much to begin with.

Comments (6)

As the eye gets lost

“Sensuality, elegance and creativity are the key words of the stiletto creator, whose objective is to highlight a silhouette, reveal a personality or a style, through shoes and accessories collections combining sophistication, seduction and innovation.”

This quote jumps out at you from the Web site of Charles Jourdan, shoemaker. M. Jourdan himself died in 1976, and the company continued to be operated by his family until 2002.

During his later years, Jourdan commissioned fashion artwork from surrealist photographer Guy Bourdin. If Bourdin did his job, you spent twice as much eyeball time on the Jourdan advertisements, which, were they released today, might be considered to have a high WTF factor.

This fall-1979 picture for a relatively conservative dark-green pump is a case in point:

Guy Bourdin for Charles Jourdan, 1979

The downside, of course, is that you spend most of those extra seconds not looking at the shoes, but wondering how the bloody heck Bourdin did that.

Comments off

Blame the Boomers

Something wrong with the world as you know it? It’s those damned Baby Boomers:

Their generation essentially froze the music business in place for the better part of forty years. Consider the fact that “classic rock” stations played ten-year-old music in 1980 — but in 2010 they weren’t playing the rock hits from 2000. No, it was still all about 1970. The music, movies, and art made by the post-Boomer generation has been relentlessly derided and criticized as “disco-era garbage” for my entire lifetime. Mick Jagger has been essentially canonized for making a fool of himself on stage; Neal Schon has become a punchline for the same kind of swaggering behavior. The only difference between the two is the fact that the Boomers were teenagers when the Stones were hot and they were callow thirtysomethings when Journey was selling records.

Our entire culture has been semi-permanently held hostage by the teenaged preferences of people who are now in their early seventies. A 1957 Bel Air became a classic car when it was seventeen years old, but a 2000 Impala is not a classic car now. Hollywood carpet-bombs the theaters with 65-year-old men “playing young” for action roles. Jimmy Page’s touring Les Pauls are worth maybe fifteen million dollars each; Neal Schon’s touring Les Paul was a no-sale at a thousandth that amount.

And it’s not just the performing arts and the motor vehicles, either:

This may all seem like a trivial matter but I would like to suggest that depriving multiple generations of their own storytelling is far from trivial. It perpetuates the comfortable and enfeebling subjugation of Generation X to its parents. We sit around and listen to our parents’ music, watch our parents’ favorite movie stars, and indulge in feeble hopes that Mom and Dad won’t burn through every penny of their seemingly effortless post-war wealth before they die. Modern couples work one hundred and forty hours a week to live dim shadows of the lives their parents enjoyed courtesy of Dad’s 9-to-5. The California homes that Boomers bought easily on fifteen-year mortgages are three-million-dollar bubble beasts today. There are no pensions, no retirements, no ends in sight.

The good news is that it will all come to an end, and remarkably soon. In ten years the Boomers will be effectively powerless. Their cherished possessions will be estate-auction junk, their oversized homes will sit empty, their taste-making abilities will dwindle to nothing. The much-derided Millennials will be the beneficiary of it. They’ll have the chance to reimagine their adult lives in their own images. They won’t be interested in your vintage Les Paul or your Yenko Camaro or your McMansion.

And if a radio station in 2027 is playing BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business,” what format will that be? For that matter, will there actually be a radio station in 2027?

Comments (7)

Pockets of incompetence

A five-minute animation about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, narrated by David Dunning himself:

And he should know, right?

(Via Ed Driscoll.)

Comments (7)

On the giving of thanks

Wisdom from Roger on a possible difficulty on Veterans Day:

“If you want to thank a veteran, be considerate, be genuine, and be willing to listen or have a conversation. Dr. [Nancy] Sherman suggests simple alternatives that may actually contribute to repairing the military-civilian gap. If the service member appears to be willing and able to talk with you, you should invite a respectful conversation.

“‘I am grateful for your service. Where were you deployed? What was it like?’

“You might also ask: How is your transition back home so far? What is/was your job in the military? How is your family doing with your service? What do you want to do now that you’re back?

“It’s also true that many [vets] do have physical and emotional scars or moral wounds as a result of their service and are dealing (or not) with lingering feelings of guilt, shame, or helplessness, among others.”

Of course, the nature of the military is that some of the troops are in harm’s way and the rest of them aren’t. I didn’t face a whole lot of threats to my very existence. The guy whose best bud got taken out by an IED will have a far different story to tell.

So I’ll probably do what I’ve been doing all along, which is giving the knowing head nod, hoping that it’s adequate, at least for the moment.

It’s fine with me. Someone else’s mileage may vary.

Comments (2)

Floating below C level

One has to feel some sympathy for the instructor who had to grade that:

Very bad research paper

No, there’s nothing you can do for extra credit.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

Comments (2)

Each replacing a thousand words

Start the video, and you get:

Of course, it’s not just the Times. Almost all printed media have done the same. (So has this Web site, which in its earlier days might run one picture a week. Today, it’s more like twenty.)

Comments (2)