Archive for Almost Yogurt

If real life were only like this

If your first question is “Woody Allen? Is he still around?” you may, or may not, be interested in this:

Woody Allen has launched legal action against Amazon Studios, accusing it of breaching their contract by refusing to distribute his latest film.

The 83-year-old is seeking more than $68m (£52m) in damages, alleging the company backed out of a multi-picture deal without cause.

Amazon released two of Allen’s films and also distributed his TV series, Crisis in Six Scenes.

But it dropped his most recent movie, A Rainy Day in New York.

Allen’s argument is, um, interesting:

According to a lawsuit filed on Thursday in New York [pdf], Allen claims Amazon backed out of the deal in June 2018 because of an old accusation that the director had molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow in 1992.

The legal action said Amazon knew about “a 25-year old, baseless” allegation when it entered into deals with the director and that it “does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract”.

A Rainy Day in New York was shot in 2017 with a cast including Jude Law, Rebecca Hall, Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet.

Several cast members have sought to distance themselves from the film; while Allen is not known for paying generous salaries, a number of them have donated what they were paid (Gomez, it is reported, even more than she was paid) to presumably pertinent activist organizations such as RAINN.

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Far from cute

But not far from Quora:

Most of the time in public places, when strangers walk past me, they would stare at me & say out loud to themselves “she’s ugly.” It doesn’t matter where I go. This happens in the banks & grocery stores. Why do some strangers act so unkind to me?

Either she’s a dead ringer for Cthulhu’s sister, or she’s off her meds. I’m not sure I want to know which.

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Life imitates Springfield (2)

But doesn’t it always, eventually?

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Forever unbound

I have a little plugin called Blog Metrics which keeps track of the word count here; it goes back to the beginning of the WordPress database, the first week of September 2006, and as of last night it reported something like 7,351,000 words.

And yet:

I’ve decided I don’t have a book in me. I’m not sure I could sustain a theme for long enough to write a coherent book. Yes, I feel kind of bad about that; I have colleagues who have written books and I look at them and think about how that’s something that will actually outlast their time on earth and … there’s nothing like that for me; a couple years after I’m gone I’ll be forgotten.

Some of us, I aver, are forgotten without even being gone.

But taking the longer view, Christopher Hitchens once said:

“Everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly where it should, I think, in most cases, remain.”

And that word “coherent” surely would be my undoing. Sunday nights on Twitter there’s a gathering called #blogchat, and much advice is dispensed therein. I remember one night when the subject of tags was discussed, and one chap who might actually be making money off his site said something to the effect that “if your subject matter is diverse enough, you could support fifteen, even twenty different tags.”

At the time, I had twelve thousand tags. Then again, I’m not actually making money off this site.

Bonus question: Should Fillyjonk write a book? She’s got seventeen years’ worth of material to draw from.

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De-accession the whole damned thing

The Newseum, at Pennsylvania Avenue and 6th Street Northwest in Washington, is about to become Something Else Entirely:

This may or may not be a factor:

[T]he numerous free museums in the National Mall area, such as those of the Smithsonian Institution and National Gallery of Art, make it harder for visitors to justify paying the Newseum’s steep entry fees.

I’m leaning toward “may.”

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Be nice and clean

If we’re going to have shaving-material commercials as adjunct cultural avatars, they should all be like this one:

There are, after all, only so many women with legs that go on for days.

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Let the sunshine in

And that goes for you too, Frank Mills:

CityRep announcement of a production of Hair

Five decades after the fact, Hair is about as relevant today as The Vicar of Wakefield. But as period pieces go, it’s a damned good one, and you probably already know some of the songs.

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Quote of the week

One Fine Jay, on one mostly-lousy year:

As a cultural observer, I can sum up 2018 as an immense dick measuring contest of public piety.

It wasn’t enough to be not racist; one was required to demonstrate how anti-racist one is. It wasn’t enough to to live a quiet life of virtue; one was required to demonstrate to that virtue in the name of public approval.

This pharisaism combined with the rat-race, competitive, and individualist nature of American culture led to the infamous Summer of Snitches in 2018: the Barbecue Beckys, Permit Pattys, Pool Pass Patricks, are all children of the same whore. They didn’t even care they were being filmed. In their minds they were doing the right thing.

Here in Baltimore we have someone who enters restaurants, engages the patrons as obnoxiously as possible, films their reactions, then claims to be a victim of racism as he earns money through his YouTube channel. His victims become targets of harassment from his followers.

I enjoy my time on social media but that’s because I have rules for myself and those whom I follow or engage. I’ve come around years ago that call-out culture is toxic and unhelpful. Outrage culture is just as bad.

I think that after the madness that 2018 felt like, it’s time we personally took steps to not feed that beast. If you kept in mind that no amount of good you do will inoculate you from attention to your negatives, perhaps you’ll learn to do good for its own sake, quietly and humbly, so as to not draw attention to yourself and your virtue. You can’t be milkshake ducked if you’re more a rumor than a legend.

But more importantly, the faux spirituality offered by social media engagement needs to be an idol we smashed, and to do that, we need to recognize that we have bowed to that idol more than we are willing to admit.

We need to rediscover the value in letting your neighbor be; and the value in being left alone. Public life through social media will draw us away from those values. It will demand we tell on our neighbors to draw attention away from our own faults. It’s already a totalitarian environment; we just tell ourselves it isn’t.

But remember this, for 2019: perhaps our greatest freedom is not from the government but from each other.

It might be worth trying. What else have we got to lose?

What, indeed?

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Get those halls decked, stat

So what is this “gay apparel” business, anyway? Erin Palette has the specifications:

Gay Apparel
Light Armor

  • Aura: Faint illusion
  • Caster Level: 4th
  • Cost: 1,151 gp

Gay Apparel is a masterwork reinforced tunic of red, green and white, usually decorated with bells and festive designs of snowflakes, candy canes and reindeer. Because it is essentially a shirt, Gay Apparel can be donned (or removed) as a Move Action (there is no “don hastily” option for Gay Apparel).

When worn by anyone possessing bardic performance, Gay Apparel grants the Lingering Performance feat. When worn by anyone with at least one rank in Perform: Sing, it grants the use of the Basic Harmony teamwork feat even if they lack the prerequisites.

Construction Requirements: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Basic Harmony, Lingering Performance, Auditory Hallucination.

And a fa-la-la to you all.

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Hottentots not so hot

Tip your hat to the Cowardly Lion, pour out a couple snifters of apricot brandy, and reflect on the miracle of self-reflection:

Lacking opportunities to test ourselves — I should say “thankfully lacking opportunities,” as a world war now is the end of the human race — we’ve lost sight of what courage really means. Instead, we’ve elevated cruelty to its place. Just as Marxism turns envy from the worst vice (it’s what caused the angels to fall) into the best virtue, so Leninism turns ruthlessness and brutality into sham courage.

It helps very little that much of the not-all-that-civilized world covets their neighbor’s anything at all:

Envy may be the most powerful immaterial force known to Man. It’s been the principal retardant of all human progress. No “natural disaster” can compare to its corrosive effect. When envy is mated to a perceptible difference between the envious and the envied, the combination frequently proves deadly.

Come to think of it, I don’t remember any of that corrosion going on in the Emerald City.

“Oh, our friends think nothing of it,
To sit around and covet
The things they do not need;
They become downright vicious
When their thoughts are avaricious
And we see them for their greed.”

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She just wants to dance

I had to watch this twice at half speed to catch on:

Netflix will be showing this film in January, barring catastrophe, and I suspect their definition of “catastrophe” includes backlash from transfolk who resist the idea of a trans girl played by a boy — even though the trans girl whose story was retold in Girl defends the film.

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Filling out the New World Order form

This, I suppose, was imevitable: I have learned important, public interest information from Youtube videos regarding government conspiracies. How can I share this info?

You’ll notice he didn’t offer to share it with anyone who might actually answer his question, so I’m just going to assume he’s trolling.

Don’t ask how tempted I was to Rickroll the little snotwoofer, either.

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A word for nothing left to lose

There is liberty, and there is license, and most people apparently can’t distinguish between the two:

The ages-old answer to the question “What is freedom for?” doesn’t make sense anymore. Hell, the very question itself doesn’t. I defy anyone, anywhere, in the modern world to find a commonly accepted definition of “freedom” that doesn’t boil down to “do your own thing, man” — in other words, what the Greeks would call license.

And the results are pretty easy to see:

We’ve so thoroughly conflated freedom with license that most college kids I know — and I have met thousands — don’t even know what the word “license” means, outside of a laminated card that lets you buy beer. Our kinder, gentler police state is just lousy with license, and most people will go along with that, because they like it — and because they think they ARE free. Start handing out a government ration of porn, fentanyl, Big Macs, and free wifi, and I promise you not one “American” in 10,000 will care that freedom of thought, of conscience, are gone … whatever the fuck that means. All I know, dude, is that I can pierce anything, watch anything, stick anything up any orifice, and get retweeted and upvoted for it. So what if you can’t read some dead white guy any more? The new season of Stranger Things is out!

In case you’d forgotten:

Freedom — ordered liberty; the ability to choose not what one wants, but what one must — is a meaningless concept in a postindustrial society. Our fraternal socialist comrades in the USSR didn’t rebel because they wanted freedom; they rebelled because the kommissars promised them more stuff, and didn’t deliver.

Or, to borrow a line from John Derbyshire: “Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.”

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Get down on Frey day

The award finally came:

Years after gaining notoriety for embellishing parts of his memoir A Million Little Pieces, the US author James Frey has a new notch in his bedpost: the 2018 bad sex in fiction award.

Seeing off competition from an all-male shortlist that included Haruki Murakami and the Man Booker prize-nominated Gerard Woodward, Frey won for his novel Katerina, a “fictional retelling” of a love affair the author started while on a hedonistic trip to France in the 1990s. The story follows Jay, a young American would-be writer, as he drinks and bonks his way around Paris, particularly with a Norwegian model named Katerina.

The award’s judges at the Literary Review said they had been swayed by several sex scenes in the novel, which include encounters in a car park and in the back of a taxi, but were especially convinced by an extended scene in a Paris bathroom between Jay and Katerina that features eight references to ejaculate.

You can read it at the link. I don’t think I want that stuff dripping all over the server.

Frey, who shot to fame with his 2004 memoir about his drug addiction, A Million Little Pieces, and later became even more famous when the book was proved to contain embellishments, has been nominated for the bad sex award before, in 2011 for his novel The Final Testament of the Holy Bible.

Heh. “Shot” to fame.

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At least it’s easy to spell

Poor child. Let’s hope she doesn’t suffer a fate like Asswipe Johnson’s.

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The operative word is “suck”

I caught this paragraph in a Marvel Universe fanfic in which Sue Storm, having apparently had a fight with Reed Richards, seeks out and seduces Peter “Spider-Man” Parker:

“You know what I think?” he asked the empty air. “I think our lives suck. Everyone’s life sucks, at least a little, somehow. And when your life sucks in a certain way, you figure out how to deal with that kind of sucking. And someone else whose life sucks in a different way, they have their own way of dealing with their sucking. And so, if their life sucks in some new way that’s something like the way your life sucks, you can tell them how to deal. And they can tell you how to deal when your life sucks like theirs. And maybe if we all just stopped thinking how our lives are sucking and thought about how other people’s lives suck — maybe we could all figure out what we’re supposed to do with this huge, sucky world.”

Not precisely the way Stan Lee would have said it, but it is what he would have said.

Incidentally, the story in question is seriously NSFW, and not just for sucking.

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Why won’t Vanya play with us?

“Oh, shut up, Alyosha.”

(Via Dawn Eden Goldstein.)

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You dunderheads are supposed to be eating

This is not M-S-N-B-melonfarming-C, dammit:

Pass the dinner rolls, fail the rhetoric.

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The invisible hand job

It is seemingly de rigueur these days to disparage the economics we learned from Adam Smith, but if you ask me, they’re just jerking us around.

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Under the bored walk

It’s not like the sacred formula has been untouched all these years:

Monopoly for Millenials

Over the last few years, millennials — people born between the years 1982 and 2004 — have been the butt of many jokes; and now it seems they were the inspiration for a new board game. Hasbro has just released a “Monopoly for Millennials” game and people aren’t quite sure how to feel about it.

The game, which is currently sold out on Walmart’s website, retails for $19.82.

It features Rich Uncle Pennybags (a version of the classic Monopoly man) prominently on the cover. He is holding a coffee cup and wearing a medal labeled “participation,” mocking how millennials are sometimes referred to as the “Participation Award” generation.

“Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway,” the game’s tagline reads.

I blame inflation. It wasn’t that long ago that rent on Mediterranean Avenue was a mere two bucks.

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Unlikely reference

I remembered them from when I was younger: extremely minimalist drawings with surprisingly complicated explanations. But what were they, as a group, called? I didn’t find out until I actually looked at one of them:

Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch

Frank Zappa’s 1982 album Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch, also the title of this original Droodle by Roger Price, dating to 1953. (Price went on to collaborate with Leonard Stern on a little something called Mad Libs, which even today, some 60 years after their creation, continue to __________.)

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There’s a lane for you

And perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s self-selected:

The conservative is not a spoiled-rotten nobleman from the court of King Louis XVI who wants to keep his inheritance and his lands and his status and his privilege; it’s a frazzled shopkeeper downtown who doesn’t want bums crapping on his sidewalk. When he’s done with trying to see what he can do about that, he has to use his remaining hours attending to his business, which may or may not be profitable. But he’s got something he needs to do, and a sense of purpose to it. He belongs. That’s the issue.

Liberals are in the process of building a whole new world, atop the ashes of this one as soon as they’re done destroying it, in which the people who belong somewhere today, don’t belong anywhere then. And the people who don’t belong anywhere now, will have a place to be in this new world.

This is why they accuse dissenters of “not going with the science.” It’s got nothing to do with science, it’s all political. A carrot to be dangled before the nose of the ones who seek to belong.

It’s not that “the marginalized” have some compelling desire to exist on the margins, or that anyone who isn’t “marginalized” has any good reason to want those folks to stay there. (Well, yeah, there’s racism, but we said “good reason.”) At bottom, it’s just an acknowledgment that life is essentially unfair, which you’ve presumably already noticed, and if you haven’t noticed, Marcus Cole has:

You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.

The only true community of equals exists on the side of the topsoil facing away from the air.

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Paint by numbers, sort of

Portrait of Edmond Belamy by an AI programYou probably don’t know Edmond de Belamy, the subject of this portrait. I certainly never heard of him. But he’s in the news because of this very portrait, and Christie’s, which sold the portrait at auction, listed it as follows:

Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy

generative Adversarial Network print, on canvas, 2018, signed with GAN model loss function in ink by the publisher, from a series of eleven unique images, published by Obvious Art, Paris, with original gilded wood frame S. 27½ x 27½ in (700 x 700 mm.)

In other words, this portrait of Belamy was created by an artificial intelligence:

The artwork was produced using an algorithm and a data set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th Centuries.

To generate the image, the algorithm compared its own work to those in the data set until it could not tell them apart.

The portrait is the first piece of AI art to go under the hammer at a major auction house. The sale attracted a significant amount of media attention.

And a fair chunk of change: Christie’s anticipated $7,000-$10,000; but the hammer came down at $432,500.

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Things you must know

In case you were thinking that the concept of a core curriculum is utterly outdated, Ursinus College in Pennsylvania would like you to know about the Common Intellectual Experience:

The Common Intellectual Experience (referred to as CIE) is composed of two semester-long seminar courses which seek to investigate three of the central questions of the traditional liberal arts education: What should matter to me? How should we live together? How can we understand the world? What will I do? The courses are characterized by students in all CIE classes discussing the course texts at the same time, and studying the works in both the seminar room and through additional avenues of scientific and artistic exploration. The course is taught by faculty in all disciplines and the assigned texts and materials are altered yearly, allowing students and faculty a mutual experience of discovery and critical engagement.

Sounds very contemplative. The Friar remembers being contemplative during his college years, though perhaps not in compliance with anyone’s syllabi:

I also spent time contemplating how to stretch my barley and hops budget without crossing over into the realms of Wisconsin Brews Of Unknown Grains, those 12- and 24-packs in the darkest corners of the liquor store, their boxes covered in the dust of the eldritch past. And I spent time contemplating my fellow students of the fair sex, especially when spring increased temperatures to above freezing and reduced layers of outerwear so that they no longer resembled the Michelin Man.

With the threat of a barley shortage on the horizon, these are more serious questions than you perhaps might think.

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Nobody puts Shetland in a corner

Another instance of pique outweighing practicality:

The Islands Bill, which aims to offer greater protections and powers to Scotland’s island communities, was unanimously passed in May.

It gives island councils extra powers over activities on and around their coastlines and requires ministers to have a long-term plan for improvement.

So far, so good. But then:

Thanks to an amendment from Mr [Tavish] Scott, it also includes a “Shetland mapping requirement”.

The Lib Dem MSP said the common practice of placing Shetland in a box off the Moray Firth or the Aberdeenshire coast was “intensely annoying” to islanders, and created a false impression of the challenges they face on account of their remote location.

What the islanders want, apparently, is for all maps to be drawn this way:

Map of the UK to scale, with Shetland in its actual position

That’s Shetland in red.

The final rule written into the bill requires the islands to be “displayed in a manner that accurately and proportionately represents their geographical location in relation to the rest of Scotland” in any documents published by Scottish public authorities.

One opponent: the Ordnance Survey mapping agency, which said the inset boxes, when used, would avoid “publishing maps which are mostly sea”.

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Even older, and thanks for asking

Actually, this is just a pretext to run this picture:

And live from her very own Southern California back yard:

Maybe I shouldn’t be a cowboy?

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Subtlety is not his strong suit

Not that anyone in Hollywood is likely to care:

Bill Cosby may be in jail. Harvey Weinstein may be in hiding. But Roman Polanski is alive and well, and planning his first movie in the #MeToo era. He even has an Oscar-winning actor attached.

French producers Légende Films confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Polanski will begin filming his next movie, the political thriller J’Accuse, this fall in Paris. Louis Garrel will star as Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the real-life French-Jewish soldier wrongly accused of spying for the Germans in the 1890s. The scandal, which divided the country, concluded dramatically in 1906 when Dreyfus was exonerated after spending five years in the Devil’s Island penal colony for high treason. The Artist’s Academy Award–winning actor Jean Dujardin will star as the counter-espionage officer who vindicated Dreyfus. Mathieu Amalric, Olivier Gourmet, and Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner will round out the cast. Polanski has been developing the film for the past six years, with a script from British novelist Robert Harris.

All of which seems perfectly reasonable until you remember:

The subject matte — a man being wrongly accused and proving his innocence decades later — will likely make for interesting press conversations conducted around the time of the film’s eventual release. Polanski is currently evading sentencing in the U.S. after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor — then-13-year-old Samantha Geimer — in 1977. In spite of the plea, Polanski has maintained a successful movie career — even winning a best-director Oscar for The Pianist in 2003.

No, Polanski did not make it to L.A. to accept the award. Harrison Ford accepted it on his behalf, and then presented it to him at the Deauville Film Festival later that year.

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Yeezyer said than done

Or perhaps he meant “formerly”:

Sean P. Diddy Brother Love Combs was not available for comment.

(Via the BBC.)

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Best series title ever?

Certainly so long as it’s true:

Norm’s finest moment might have been hosting the ESPYs in 1998; it demonstrates his mastery of getting the audience to whisper “Did he really say that?”

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Sic transit

Geoffrey Owens played Elvin Tibideaux (Sondra’s main man) on The Cosby Show for seven seasons. He’s still a working actor, when there’s work. And when there’s not, he bags groceries at Trader Joe’s.

And no, he doesn’t want your sympathy. The average member of the Screen Actors Guild doesn’t earn enough from acting to put food on the table. Ask anyone who’s been there.

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