Thursday, August 11, 2022

Out for a walk

I like to highlight quirky works of animation now and then. If you're a regular reader you probably know this. I think this counts in a low key way. The movement of the simple figure along the somewhat more complex photographic background has a soothing effect, as does the somewhat Zen-ish narration.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Playing the pandemic to win

There's a review here of Deborah Birx's new book. I'm already fuzzy on the title, so I'll be thinking of it as If I Did It. Birx is probably the official most responsible for making COVID-era America look as much like China as she could make it, which was never enough to her satisfaction.

In an excerpt from Scott Atlas's own account of the same period Senger quotes Atlas as saying that Jared Kushner had been assured Birx was "100 percent MAGA." After that she had a free hand for an alarming length of time. That kind of gullibility is why I'd prefer Trump not be reelected or renominated, although Joe Biden and Merrick Garland seem determined to bring him back.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Just add...

Seasonal water intake is interesting. Probably most of us drink a little more during the summer. There's also the matter of at which temperature you drink it. It would be an exaggeration to say that I'll just let an ice cube melt in my throat, but I do tend during these dog days to drink it straight out of the fridge.

During the winter, by contrast, I can make a glass last for a couple of hours. There was a winter when I forewent putting my water pitcher in the fridge at all, but that turned out to be a bad idea.

Friday, August 5, 2022

QWERTY troubles

These might sound familiar.

You try to use the letter "A" and hit the wrong key, so everything thereafter is capitalized.

You try to use quotation marks and skip to the next line.

You make an attempt to backspace and erase some mistake, but the mistake is still there, followed by a string of equals signs=================

I'm prone to all of these and more, especially on a small keyboard. I tend to discover the error at some point, though.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

For I am a jealous god

Today in "Authoritarian Mainstream Culture Killing the Counterculture and Dancing Around in Its Skin":

First Avenue, a storied Twin Cities nightclub, booked beloved comic and perennial cancellation target Dave Chappelle to do a set. Local wokesters, including some First Avenue employees, broke out into the usual hysterics. First Avenue cancelled the show with the kind of groveling apology that's also become familiar.

There's a kind of activist―really the dominant kind today, at least in terms of attention received―who's entire modus operandi can be boiled down to "me or him"? Do they actually conceive of life as a zero sum game? Their own portion of it, at least. So activism is geared towards making things more restrictive, punitive. What's old cannot be allowed to stand, especially if there are people who still enjoy it.

Liberal authority figures operate under the hilarious pretense that they're more open, so they'll try to placate extreme and unreasonable demands, at least from their own side of the aisle. Activists demand more punishment for the heretics, and so the dance continues.

But people notice. If you're outside of this dynamic you can't help but notice that your values are not only discarded, but actively demonized. So all First Things have succeeded in doing is alienate some who may have thought well of them before. If trouble arises, CBGB's fate of going broke and reopening as a clothing boutique may look enviable.


Monday, August 1, 2022

Go ghoti

One thing the English language is notorious for is not having any consistent pronunciation rules. French or Spanish might turn up an exception to a couple of their rules here and there. English is nothing but exceptions.

The common explanation is Britain's patchwork history: a once-Celtic land ruled by Romans, then Teutons, Norse, and finally the French-speaking Normans. This makes sense until you remember that being colonized by multiple other nations is actually the norm in European--and world--history. The historical explanations are a little more complex and interesting.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Yes, Virginia, Christmas in July

There's a strange aspect to slasher movies, one that may have more to do with audiences and even more to do with the state of criticism in general. What I mean is this: while they're basically horror movies of varying degrees of style and shock, they're expected to show their allegiance in terms of sexual politics. Is the heroine/"final girl" virginal, or the opposite of that? Who does the killer target and what are they doing with each other? All this is evaluated in terms of how feminist and sex-positive (a verbal🚩if ever there was one) they are.

That's one of the things that makes the 1974 chiller Black Christmas refreshing. The killer, who calls himself "Billy", isn't enforcing sexual conservatism, nor could you use him to subvert the patriarchy. He's just nuts. Part of this, you could say, is because the subgenre was still in its cradle at the time, four years before Halloween and five before Friday the 13th. But really it goes beyond that. The heroes of the movie―both the sorority girls and the police―make assumptions about the case that lead them so far astray, they still haven't figured things out at the end. And while the red herring for the killings is definitely an asshole, he's not bad in the way he's assumed to be. So in part it's about not seeing what's in front of your face because of what you believe should be there.

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Another note about the movie. One of the sorority sisters is played by a pre-SCTV Andrea Martin. The movie's Wikipedia page claims that Gilda Radner was offered this same role but turned it down due to her commitment to Saturday Night Live. This seems very dubious to me, considering the movie came out before SNL―how you say?―existed. Radner wouldn't have had any real time commitments until the summer of '75, when it would be time to start promoting it. My conclusion here is that urban legends come easy and die hard.