Re: Patterns

1

Memories?


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 3:52 PM
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It's like every comment thread here distilled into 20 seconds.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 3:59 PM
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Misty, pencil-sketched memories of earlier this afternoon...


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:02 PM
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Thanks for outing me, you bastard.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:05 PM
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Has anyone seen my exactlywhat? It broke free of its chain.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:05 PM
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6

I don't get it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:09 PM
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7

Sadly, in a week where there have been a lot of comments about aging, I can't hear it. I can hear the girl, and I can figure that the boy went on with some continuation of the joke that flummoxed her, but darn if I can tell what he's saying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:11 PM
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Great, start 'em young.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:12 PM
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9

That girl is evil.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:15 PM
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10

"Superman on what?"

"[something] That's all I know of the joke."

"Maybe on a hotdog."

Wonder Showzen was the bestest.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:16 PM
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11

Girls rule, boys drool.


Posted by: counterfly | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:17 PM
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12

The boy is a little twitch.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:18 PM
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13

I think it's her semi-practiced "You weirdo" writhe+eyeroll at the end that is making me hate her.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:20 PM
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I think it's her semi-practiced "You weirdo" writhe+eyeroll at the end that is making me hate her.

Every girl I grew up around knew how to do this from birth.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:21 PM
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Yeah but it doesn't seem like he deserves it.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:22 PM
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I didn't deserve it either!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:23 PM
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Gonerill you still haven't figured out that he is a weirdo?

By he, of course, I mean you.

And by you, of course, I mean me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:25 PM
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13-16: I finally understand the point -- it's that she's mean for calling him a weirdo? But dude, he fucked up her joke!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:26 PM
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19

6, before we make everything completely explicit, is hilarious.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:27 PM
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18: girl meets boy, girl makes fun light conversation with boy, boy makes inexplicable, tone-deaf conversation, girl rolls eyes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:28 PM
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21

Nobody does straightman better than Bitch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:29 PM
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22

Nobody does straightman better than Bitch
I understand that Bitch does several straight men very well.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:31 PM
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23

Every girl I grew up around knew how to do this from birth.

Hm. What's the common factor here, I wonder.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:31 PM
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24

It would of course be rude as well as inaccurate to change the second e in 21 to an a.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:31 PM
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But dude, he fucked up her joke!

On her hegemonic interpretation, maybe. I prefer to see him has subverting her joke, and turning it into a way to articulate a protest at being the subordinated "straight (sic) man (sic)" with no real autonomy in the joke-delivery practice.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:31 PM
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15: These are the ways we establish social norms for "funny" and "not weird." She did the creeped-out shimmy for his own good.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:31 PM
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girl meets boy, girl makes fun light conversation with boy weak attempt at humor, boy makes inexplicable, tone-deaf conversation helps her out with an actual punchline, girl rolls eyes.

Nobody does straightman better than Bitch.

On a hotdog.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:31 PM
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28

It would be entirely logical to change switch the freestanding e and a in 24.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:32 PM
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29

It would be English to learn language commenting before good me of.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:32 PM
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30

23 is even funnier than 6.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:33 PM
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31

25: See, if boys had any wit about them, they'd learn to just roll with it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:33 PM
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32

27: dude you're harshing my self-loathing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:33 PM
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33

25: Thereby converting the heirarchical but ultimately cooperative joke-telling paradigm into one of almost explict conflict for supremacy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:35 PM
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34

31: Uh...

(stammers, hides tears with comic book)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:35 PM
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35

Don't recognize myself in that at all.

First of all, I didn't get glasses until I was much older (a mixed blessing, since it probably saved me a wedgie or two at the margin, but definitely caused me to take a few more baseballs to the head than I needed to).

Secondly, my stilted attempts at light conversation with the opposite sex tended to founder not on their absurdity, but on the allusions to classical philology that went over the girls' heads.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:35 PM
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Sifu, isn't that for the Standpipe blog?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:35 PM
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37

33: jack-booted thugs always knock knock.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:35 PM
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38

what's classical philology?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:35 PM
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the allusions to classical philology that went over the girls' heads

::rolling eyes::


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:36 PM
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40

36: that blog is taking all my best material!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:37 PM
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41

8 to 6.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:37 PM
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42

Okay, stop me before I start taking this seriously -- I'm feeling humorlessness coming on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:38 PM
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43

42: on a hot dog?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:38 PM
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44

42: Maybe it's just the bean burrito you had for lunch?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:39 PM
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45

At that age I looked like that, but I didn't listen that long. That explains everything, right?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:40 PM
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46

[slides away from Emerson]


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:42 PM
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47

45: In some cases, "everything" is over-determined.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:42 PM
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48

::::rolling eyes::::

Hmmm. Would you believe...algebra jokes? Trivia gleaned from the The Guinness Book?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:43 PM
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49

My very handle is a relic of a time when I was utterly fascinated with non-sequitors.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:45 PM
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50

It might be a mistake to assume the boy isn't trying to produce that reaction from her.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:46 PM
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51

I used to be fascinated with non sequitors. I like ice cream.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:47 PM
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52

42: Psst, LB, wanna step away from these guys and go get a drink?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:47 PM
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53

It might be a mistake to assume the boy isn't trying to produce that reaction from her.

Or, more probably still, that he is utterly indifferent to her reaction. That period lasts through the better part of of elementary school IME.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:47 PM
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50: I thought they were brother and sister (mostly, I think, because they roughly correspond in coloring and relative size to my two), and assumed that was the case. Newt does this sort of thing to Sally all the time.

42: I sorely need one. A brain, character, and job transplant would also be nice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:51 PM
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Sorry, I have neither character nor brains on me at the moment. But I can offer you a "job" helping out in my kid's classroom all day!

Just the sort of thing that makes me realize I'm about ready to take up paid employment again, thankyouverymuch.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:53 PM
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56

Nah, what you really need is a lair.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:53 PM
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57

I would also like a lair.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:54 PM
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58

We need a lair that serves drinks.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:55 PM
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59

We need a lair that serves drinks.

They have these things, you know. Tended by persons experienced in the mixing of drinks.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:55 PM
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60

When I was really young, I told a joke that started "Why do trains run on tracks?" I don't remember how it went or even telling it at all. My sister and my parents say that I'd break out in laughter after asking the question.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:56 PM
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61

I think that moves it from lair to grotto, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:56 PM
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62

Quick, someone write a pun on lair/lay-er.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:56 PM
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59: But I have to clean the kitchen and fix dinner. And I left my bike at PK's school today. I'm STUCK!!

OTOH, I could fix myself a drink and drink it while I wash the dishes. Hmmmmmm!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:57 PM
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Tweety's handle reminds me of when I found out that the cat genus (or order, or whatever) is Sylvestris. I never knew the writers of those shows were actually educated.


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:57 PM
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65

PK's favorite joke:

What kind of key doesn't open a door?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:57 PM
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66

.....


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:58 PM
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67

A mon-key!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:59 PM
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68

OK, what kind?


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:59 PM
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69

A turkey.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:59 PM
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70

Gawd, pdf. A monkey. Key. Get it? It's a pun.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:59 PM
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71

Mine are fond of one about a three legged dog who walked into a small Western town, and slowly swaggered down the main street before entering the saloon, where he walked up to the bar and said "I'm looking for the man who shot my Paw."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 4:59 PM
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72

We need a lair that serves drinks.

That can be arranged.

65: a hon-key!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:00 PM
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73

Slol's kids know the same joke, I see.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:00 PM
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74

The well-equipped lair includes several cases of spirits with which to mourn (or celebrate, if you're so inclined) the destruction of everything outside.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:00 PM
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75

Who needs a hobby like classical philology?
I have a hobby studying the art mixology.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:00 PM
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76

We are all fond of the interrupting--MOOO!


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:01 PM
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77

Pwned by PK's joke. (68 x'd with 67).


Posted by: pdf23ds | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:01 PM
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78

73: WANT.

Okay, dishwashing time now. Mustn't make the babysitter think we're slobs.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:01 PM
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79

A joke for PK: "what's that in the road? Two feet! A head!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:01 PM
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80

Slol's kids know the same joke, I see.

Sifu doesn't have kids, I see.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:01 PM
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78: Also a favorite in the Breath household. As well as "Orange you glad I didn't say banana."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:02 PM
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82

78 s/b 76.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:03 PM
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83

79: I'll pass that along, thanks.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:03 PM
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84

"Orange you glad I didn't say banana."

A favorite, which we are mystifyingly incapable of telling properly.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:03 PM
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85

Tangelo you glad I didn't say the Bangles?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:04 PM
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86

You don't pronounce it like duck a l'orange, slol.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:05 PM
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You don't pronounce it like duck a l'orange, slol.

It seems there's a compulsion to start off by saying "orange," which rather spoils it.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:06 PM
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88

"... who's there?"

"Orange."

"Orange who?"

"Orange you glad I'm not going to bother saying 'banana' over and over?"


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:07 PM
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89

What's brown and sticky?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:10 PM
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90

A stick.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:11 PM
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91

I think I still act like this kid. An exchange from earlier today:

Female Friend: Guess what I made last night?
Me: Out?
Female Friend: Huh?
Me: [snicker]
Female Friend: You're an idiot.

Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:13 PM
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92

Anyone ever play smoke/fire?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:14 PM
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93

What kind of key doesn't open a door?

A mon-key

Unless it is one of the ones that has been specifically trained as a simian shabbos goy.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:15 PM
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I remember Keegan's first joke, which to this day, still cracks me up.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Somebody.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:18 PM
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20 gets it right for me.
the kid is tone-deaf, whereas the girl oozes nuance from every pore.

the girl also does all of the demonstrative emoting, while the boy pretty much remains in a constant state of mild undemonstrative self-satisfaction. i know it's not cool to mention autism in these contexts, but that's partly because most of us have an inaccurate caricature of what autism looks like.
the inaccurate caricature comes from episodes like this one.

and, yes, it's certainly a pattern familiar to me.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:24 PM
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96

mild undemonstrative self-satisfaction

Isn't that pretty much what we're all shooting for?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:25 PM
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97

96--
eh, more like a protective posture, second best to really being with it.
quietly defiant flying of the geek-flag.
but aware of being a geek all the same.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:38 PM
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98

Can I interrupt this thread to brag that my wife's picture is featured in Dan Savage's post on The Stranger's blog? Awesome.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:57 PM
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99

i wish there was a bot that could send me #25 every morning when i need to laugh.

And boys are bad at verbal jokes because they do physical comedy until high school.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:01 PM
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100

Only if you finger your wife.

Heh.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:01 PM
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101

100 to 99, implicitly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:04 PM
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102

I love this girl. I love the dance she does after "Superman!" and then saying "sorry". And I love, love, love when he goes, "Superman on what?" and she says, "I have no possible idea. That's all I know of the joke."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:10 PM
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103

My wife is Knitting Jesus.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:11 PM
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104

Oh, interrupting cow is way to big around my house. When my son first learned it from my sister (evil girl) he was psychologically unable to interrupt someone else, even if you said 'who's there' really slowly.

A couple months later a switch flipped in his brain, and he could/would tell the joke for hours for the sheer satisfaction of it.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:12 PM
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105

It occurs to me that the boy actually was making sense, in his way: soup is food, therefore souperman would be food, food combines with other food: what do you put souperman on? A hot dog?

Certainly a fair question.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:15 PM
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106

Oh please. He asked the question without having any clue of the answer. I think he was thinking of a broom.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:17 PM
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107

Doesn't make at any less valid of a question. What does souperman go on?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:23 PM
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108

I'm thinking toast.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:23 PM
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109

Wry.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:24 PM
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110

Mrs. Souperman.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:25 PM
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111

Crank dat Souperman.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:30 PM
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112

Heterosoupernormativity rears its frothy head.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:30 PM
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113

110--
i'm rolling my eyes and sliding away from b.

okay, so: do girls accuse boys of cooties earlier than boys accuse girls of cooties?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:31 PM
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114

Frothy? If you're talking chi-chi froth soups, that's totally gay.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:31 PM
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115

I was just thinking about philology (is classical philology an oxymoron?) the other day while reading the Berube Bloomers thread. I was wondering when the last time a writer could drop a Greek language quotation into a work with the reasonable expectation that his readers would recognize and translate it for themselves. Nietzsche did it, IIRC, which of course, is why philology came to mind.

I consider this comment a joke. A dry humour, essence of gall.

I am that boy, still, laughing on the inside.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:33 PM
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116

See? Foam isn't a lifestyle choice, B. It's who souperman is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:33 PM
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117

do girls accuse boys of cooties earlier than boys accuse girls of cooties?

Cooties seem to be out these days, but boys and girls both play the "we rule, you drool" game. I've scolded many a child over this.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:37 PM
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118

What does souperman go on?

A super potty?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:39 PM
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119

117--
yeah, i'm not surprised that the phoneme "cooties" is not in current use.
i'd be more surprised if there were not some functional equivalent still in play.
"rule/drool" is golden; why you be scoldin?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:40 PM
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120

Cootie-catching has gone the way of cony-catching.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:41 PM
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121

102--
i have the same strong reaction. the girl is adorable. the boy is just hopeless.
that's all part of the pattern.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:43 PM
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122

Boys go to college to get more knowledge
Girls go to Jupiter to get more stupider


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:46 PM
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123

Boys take baths to get more math
Girls take showers to get more POWERS.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:49 PM
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124

My impression (based on my observation of my 6-year son and his classmates, an admittedly limited sample) is that the boys are more concerned to distance themselves from the girls than vice versa. "Ew, that's for girls." I don't feel any obligation/inclination to scold for this.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:51 PM
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125

Wow, 124 could set me off on a really angry gender-bias tirade. One must ask herself, "Am I in the mood for an ulcer tonight?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:53 PM
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126

Ulcers are for manly men, silly heebie.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:54 PM
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127

"Ew, that's for girls."

You see, back on the veldt....

Aw, fuck it. I move we impose a permanent moratorium on facile ev psych jokes on this blog.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:55 PM
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128

My mom gave me lots of dolls to play with, heebie!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:56 PM
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129

125: an angry tirade against 6-year olds? Really?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:56 PM
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130

I mean, they didn't take, really. But I had them!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:57 PM
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131

Newt hangs out with more girls than Sally does boys, but I think some of that's hangover from spending a lot of time when younger chasing around after Sally and her friends, and there being a family in the building they hang with with a girl Newt's age. But he's got good girl friends in school -- one who taught him to read last year in Kindergarten. Sally's got some boy friends, but no one she's really tight with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 6:59 PM
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129: No, kinda against you (but don't hate me for it) for having an opportunity to set these kids straight and being indifferent.

One of the studies that makes me most angry is the one where they ask boys and girls of different ages whether they would like to spend a day as the opposite gender. The girls tend to say, "Sure it might be fun to try it out" and often say things about being good at sports, or getting to do stuff outdoors. The boys tend to say, quite emphatically "No, I'd rather die than be a girl. For a day."

I think that's a horrible paradigm for girls to live within, and I think they're totally aware of it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:02 PM
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131: But Sally is a couple of years older, right? My boy continued playing with girls longer than most, but boys and girls in his grade had mostly segregated themselves by the end of first grade or thereabout. Now they're starting to mix a bit more again (5th grade), but the game's a little different....

Also, elementary school girls can be very, very scary. The queen bee thing starts young.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:04 PM
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134

Newt hangs out with more girls than Sally does boys

I'd count this a very good thing. Most adult men I've known who are notably comfortable with women, who genuinely *like* women and enjoy their company (and therefore tend to get a lot of action, I note strictly tangentially) spent more time than usual with girls as kids. Sisters, sisters' friends, and so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:04 PM
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133: Yeah, he may self-segregate more now that he's in first grade. But he really does seem close with his girl friends.

Also, elementary school girls can be very, very scary. The queen bee thing starts young.

Mmm. Sally seems to have a fair amount of social capital (which is very weird and unfamiliar for me) and I do get on her about putting a stop to any clubbiness meant to exclude or hurt people, if she sees it happening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:09 PM
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135.1: Mine had girls as his closest friends through kindergarten. He's still a long way from "girls drool", but that's not who he spends most of his time with.

135.2: On the queen bee thing, my son's school is probably more likely than most to end up with that sort of thing. The school does what it can, but some of the families are frighteningly status-conscious, and it filters down to some of the kids. The girls seem to be much, much worse about it than the boys, which I suppose isn't surprising.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:15 PM
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I will indulge in my own misogyny for a moment to say that, without a doubt, male eggplants rule, while female eggplants drool. I have a boy one roasting at the moment, and it's like nothing I've ever seen in the eggplant world--heavy as a brick, nearly seedless.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:17 PM
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On the other thread, someone said that parents must take care not to just tell their kids they're smart. I would add that parents must also take care not to just tell their girls they're pretty. It took ages for me to deal with the different information I was getting. At home, I was the most beautiful girl in the world. At school, I was a hideous monster. Why do I have to be either?

It's only been since I was 22 or so that I came to terms with the fact that I'm like a 4 or a 5, a 6 if I've just gotten a good haircut. Sure, it "doesn't matter" and "all beauty is relative," but I live in a world in which people judge me by my looks, and coming to terms with being exactly the amount of good-looking that I am was a really difficult first step into figuring out what kind of figure I cut in the world.

Most Queen-Bee-ish stuff, without a doubt, is a product of the "prettiest!" "most stylish!" language girls get from their parents. It makes it sound as if the whole world is nothing but a runway for us, even though for everyone except the "top five" girls in a class, it's so clearly not.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:24 PM
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I will indulge in my own misogyny for a moment to say that, without a doubt, male eggplants rule, while female eggplants drool

By contrast, male cannabis plants are totally worthless, whereas female ones are dreamy.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:32 PM
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No, kinda against you (but don't hate me for it) for having an opportunity to set these kids straight and being indifferent.

Naw, I don't hate you. And I'm not indifferent, exactly. It's just that one has to prioritize and pick one's battles and etc. Also, frankly, I don't want my kid getting beat up on the schoolyard. Mind you, I don't want to raise a caveman, because after all, we're not back on the veldt. But I also don't feel responsible for single-handedly effecting a revolution in gender relations through my privileged access to the tender male pysche that has been placed in my care.

So here's the scenario: my son has a friend come over after school and they're watching the Cartoon Network (yes, I really am a sad excuse for a mother, I should be doing an art project with them or something, but instead I'm letting them watch TV so I can troll the blogs), when an ad comes on for the latest doll, and the two lads stage this elaborate ritual of mock horror, where they cry out in unison, "Ew, that's for girls." No question about it, this repudiation of the feminine is a form of male bonding, and it's not that I'm untroubled by it, exactly, but what am I to do? Well, I guess I could read them a lecture on gender equality, or maybe read them a choice passage or two from Wollstonecraft's Vindication, but honestly, I don't want to do that to my son. I don't want to embarrass him, basically. He is shy and a little bit, geekish or bookish, say, and it really matters to him to have some friends, and I'm not inclined to make things more difficult for him.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:38 PM
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Most Queen-Bee-ish stuff, without a doubt, is a product of the "prettiest!" "most stylish!" language girls get from their parents.

This sounds intuitively right, but when I think about the one group of girls Rory hangs with, and the Queen-Bee-ish stuff, it really doesn't seem to revolve around pretty or stylish so much as belonging to the right group. Most of which seems (in this group) to be defined around what church they all go to. I think kids (hell, people) find some way to differentiate themselves and exclude the unworthy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:40 PM
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I would add that parents must also take care not to just tell their girls they're pretty.

For the love of god why not? Most parents find their own children at least a little bit beautiful, and it's almost reflexive to tell them so from time to time. Mine are almost painfully beautiful for me to look at (they get it from their mom), and I can't imagine suppressing that thought for their better good.

I'll grant you that the notion of healthy limits applies here (and that limit is well shy of entering them in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant), and I will grant that it is important to explain to children that beauty doesn't signify someone's worth. But where's the harm in sharing a compliment with a child?

Put another way, AWB, would your self esteem have been helped by hearing from your classmates that you're plain and not getting any contradictory opinions from home?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:41 PM
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The specifics of your situation leave me totally sympathetic, and it sounds like you're handling it best by keeping your son's best interests at heart.

In 124, think I interpreted as a global proclamation that boys-will-be-boys, and that parents ought to indulge and smile at their boyness. That made me bristle. (Even though you said it was based on the small sample of your son and his friends.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:46 PM
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143 to 140 of course.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:46 PM
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I am feeling cranky about issues to do with telling girls and women that they're pretty. Earlier this week, an older professor I'm friendly with dropped by my office to pay me a complement: He'd been at a lunch sponsored by the So/ciety of Wo/men Engi/neers and couldn't help but notice that lots of the women, though perfectly attractive, were dressed gosh, so frumpily! Unlike me. Don't ever change, l'il foxtail!

I did not blow up at him. I just said, in a friendly way, a bunch of stuff about how I often think of what a luxury it is for men not to have to worry about such things in the same way. I don't know if I'm mad at myself for not being more obvious about how appalling he was being, or not.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:56 PM
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delurking to mention another aspect of invisible adjunct's scenerio, which is how, when her shy kid and his friends go to school, the "Ew, girls!" they can't bear to play with, well, that's my kid, who also has feelings. She comes home and tells me that the boys who were her friends, last year, now won't play with her, b/c the other boys mock them and say "Ew, yuck, girls!" if any boy plays with girls.

Why do they think that? she wants to know. What's wrong with girls?

So it's nice you want your kid to have friends. I want my kid not to think there's something disgusting about her being alive. Maybe, once your kid's friends have gone home, maybe then you could mention to him that it's really not okay to hate people because of their sex?


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 7:58 PM
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That's "li'l", of course, I meant.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:00 PM
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Giving a third perspective, I was that shy little boy with girl friends who didn't feel like he could admit they were still his friends, and it was always a put on. I still liked 'em fine. But being shy, and a little kid? I wasn't well equipped to stand up to the crowd.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:01 PM
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Re: 145, FWIW I think Redfoxtailshrub handled the situation appropriately; you can always second guess whether you calibrated your outrage correctly, but at least you didn't just let it go.

Also FWIW, although I reserve the right to tell my daughters I think they are beautiful, this does not translate into my thinking I have license to comment on the appearance of my colleagues / subordinates.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:10 PM
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I reserve the right to tell my daughters I think they are beautiful

I think the thinking here is that you shouldn't praise those things which aren't under the kid's control, or it's a fair bet you'll give them some kind of complex. Just as telling a kid she's smart doesn't seem problematic on its face, it makes being smart seem very important and discourages them from doing those things that don't seem smart, like admitting they don't know something, or working hard to understand something. Similarly, telling a girl she's pretty makes being pretty seem important (her parent is praising her for it, after all), and makes any realization or hint that she's not pretty devastating. You can still praise a kid's appearance, I think, but it's probably best to do it in a way that responds to something they've done to look nice, "what a great job you did with your hair, what great clothes you picked out" kind of thing. I'm making up that last part, and mostly speculating, but it makes some sense to me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:15 PM
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It's really not okay to hate people because of their sex

This is little more than conjecture, but I think that children widely though tacitly acknowledge that schoolyard gender enmity is artifice. I think it's a rare child who truly hates or is disgusted by the other gender: hate and disgust are merely the labels attached to another emotion, namely taboo fascination.

I'm not standing up to defend either the "Eeww, girls" or the "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" camps, merely to suggest that even children who voice these thoughts see through them and stand apart from them, to some degree.

If true, this could be interpreted either as an argument for IA (leave them be, it's artificial and it will pass) or delagar (it's artificial, so knock it down and it won't come back).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:20 PM
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You can still praise a kid's appearance, I think, but it's probably best to do it in a way that responds to something they've done to look nice, "what a great job you did with your hair, what great clothes you picked out" kind of thing.

I accept the general principle of this. The most sensible sounding parenting guides all say similar things: Don't say "I'm proud of you," say "You should be proud of yourself"; don't say "you're so talented," say "you must have worked very hard on that."

I buy all that, and I tend to practice it as well. But I defy you, confronted with that cherubic face that millions of generations of hominid evolution compel you to adore, to stop yourself from saying "I love you, my beautiful child". If that's bad parenting, then fuck it, I don't want to be a good parent.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:25 PM
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someone said that parents must take care not to just tell their kids they're smart

Ignoring the "just" completely changes the meaning of the sentence.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:28 PM
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This is little more than conjecture, but I think that children widely though tacitly acknowledge that schoolyard gender enmity is artifice. I think it's a rare child who truly hates or is disgusted by the other gender: hate and disgust are merely the labels attached to another emotion, namely taboo fascination.

On one level, yes, hate and disgust cover up for fascination.

On a different level, there's a real layer of hate and disgust, as I interpret the study in 132.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:36 PM
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there's a real layer of hate and disgust

Not for me there wasn't. Can't speak for anybody else.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:41 PM
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Not for me there wasn't

Cootie lover.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:42 PM
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Most adult men I've known who are notably comfortable with women, who genuinely *like* women and enjoy their company (and therefore tend to get a lot of action, I note strictly tangentially) spent more time than usual with girls as kids.

If I interpret you correctly, you're reversing the causation. Guys who are comfortable with and good with women show those skills early, I think it often shows up in elementary school. Chances are the boy in the video is not going to be naturally that good with women (though he might eventually learn).


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:44 PM
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Dude nuh uh! Girls are icky! Look, Transformers!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:44 PM
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Me neither. My bestest playmate was my sister, and half the time she wanted to play role-playing games in which we were both girls. That's when we weren't playing Barbies.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:46 PM
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You'll have to prove your manliness, and you know what means, Sifu.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:46 PM
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160: Tweety has to blow Labs?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:47 PM
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The wide stance again? Being manly sucks.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:48 PM
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See, all guys know immediately what it takes to prove their masculinity.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:48 PM
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I buy all that, and I tend to practice it as well. But I defy you, confronted with that cherubic face that millions of generations of hominid evolution compel you to adore, to stop yourself from saying "I love you, my beautiful child". If that's bad parenting, then fuck it, I don't want to be a good parent.

Hear, hear. I'm aware of the principle about how to praise your child, and I do what I can, but I think there's a lot of falling off the other side of the horse going on. AFAIC, as long as the bulk of praise is targeted towards performance/effort, the remainder being about the child's brilliant embodiment of the parents' genetic material is just fine (although I should note that my daughter is far more beautiful than my wife or I, but will perhaps turn into an ugly duckling yet).

As for the boy/girl thing, she's very matter-of-fact: "I really don't have much of a relationship with the boys in my school." Mind you, she's 3, and her voice saying this articulate, considered thing, is as cute as can be. But she's very girlie, and I foresee gender battles in her future.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:49 PM
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145: you know, there's such a thing as guys who dress badly too. I think your stereotypical male engineer-type can pay a price in the business world for not knowing how to dress.

In fact, here in DC the men and women all wear identical blue power suits, so I don't see what there is to choose between the situations.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:49 PM
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JRoth, the ugly duckling BECAME a beautiful adult, not the other way around. Otherwise it would be a less popular story among parents.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:50 PM
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Not for me there wasn't. Can't speak for anybody else.

Sifu, I totally believe you. But I definitely had a lot of hate and disgust for the female gender, which shows you how pervasive that kind of thing is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:53 PM
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the ugly duckling BECAME a beautiful adult

I happened to be flying to Copenhagen during the 100th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen or something like that, and SAS was giving out Ugly Duckling booklets to the children on board.

I started reading it to my daughter, and man, is that story *dark* in the unabridged, undisneyfied version!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:55 PM
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Guys who are comfortable with and good with women show those skills early, I think it often shows up in elementary school.

Marcus, are you saying that cross-gender comfort is innate? To a great extent, that seems crazy to me (except insofar as it's all an intricate tapestry, yadda yadda).

I think that early - as in Years 1 & 2 - socialization has an enormous effect on cross-gender comfort. I suppose I've nothing stronger than my own anecdotal example to go from (admired big sister, strong-personality mom), but it's hard for me to imagine that a boy growing up in a more feminine household won't be more likely to grow up with increased comfort with (and respect for) the feminine. Even if there's a latency period of he-mannery in the later school years.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:56 PM
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Sure, societally it's very pervasive. But I think ascribing too much relevance to what little boys say to people doing studies is probably a mistake. I would've said "I'd rather die than be a girl!" too, no doubt..


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:56 PM
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167: Anecdata foul (but I believe you).


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 8:57 PM
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145: you know, there's such a thing as guys who dress badly too

I do know. Indeed, part of my friendly blah-blah was something like "engineers and academics in general are not known for their sartorial prowess." Presumably the men in the room were just as frumpy, but that's not what my friend saw fit to mention. (And certainly none of the men were wearing lipstick, unlike charming old me.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:00 PM
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I think the thinking here is that you shouldn't praise those things which aren't under the kid's control, or it's a fair bet you'll give them some kind of complex.

Bullocks. The rest of the world will subject them to scrutiny for all they do or don't do. Parents get to praise them for the just becauses. I say they get a complex if they are only praised for things under their control, for performing well. It's good every now and then to hear someone tell you they think you are amazing just because you are you.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:01 PM
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But I think ascribing too much relevance to what little boys say to people doing studies is probably a mistake. I would've said "I'd rather die than be a girl!" too, no doubt.

Yeah, okay, BUT THAT'S FUCKING DEPRESSING, yo.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:01 PM
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Andersen

Was one fucked up, unhappy man.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:03 PM
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When I was a kid the conventional wisdom seemed to be that girls were smarter and cleaner than boys, but lacked leadership and athletic qualities. But I don't remember anything from before age 7 or so.

Later in middle school it became clear that because girls were smarter and quieter and got along better with adults they would also take most of the leadership positions in school, whereas boys could console themselves with athletic success and the ability to be funny.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:04 PM
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Marcus, are you saying that cross-gender comfort is innate?

I'm saying the personality characteristics that lead to it are. At least, it's my own memory that starting by about 4th-6th grade, you could tell which guys were going to be popular with the opposite sex.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:04 PM
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174: no doubt. It's just slightly less depressing than the idea that, at the age of six or seven, boys actually believe that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:04 PM
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THAT'S FUCKING DEPRESSING

Just like a woman to totally downplay the tragedy of cooties.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:06 PM
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At least, it's my own memory that starting by about 4th-6th grade, you could tell which guys were going to be popular with the opposite sex.

That's a lot different from being able to tell in kindergarten or having it be innate. 4th grade starts when kids have had 9 years of socialization (or lack thereof) at home already.

Sad that age 9 may be too late to develop this capability, though.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:06 PM
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Plus, isn't this the same type of study that formed the argument that was made with the school desegragation? That the little black girls thought the little black dolls were ugly and preferred the little white dolls? The things that that little kids do in off-handed manner are sometimes a pretty straight-forward window to their psyche.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:08 PM
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Andersen

Was one fucked up, unhappy man.

Lifelong virgin, too.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:09 PM
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by about 4th-6th grade, you could tell which guys were going to be popular with the opposite sex.

That's not the metric I was talking about. I guess I'd shorthand what I was trying to describe (and what I thought the original comment was about) as "proto-feminist." I'd say there's two parts: A. Not being hung up on masculinity, and B. Affirmatively appreciating aspects of femininity (whether innate or cultural is irrelevant for this point). Neither of those characteristics relate in any discernable way to success with the ladiez, but they're going to lead to a good husband, friend, and citizen.

IMHO.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:10 PM
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Lifelong virgin, too.

Somebody needs to stop studying up on this stuff and go get laid already.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:10 PM
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But I defy you, confronted with that cherubic face that millions of generations of hominid evolution compel you to adore, to stop yourself from saying "I love you, my beautiful child".

I'm in a rather unusual situation in this regard. Where other parents are, no doubt, conditioned by millenia of evolution, it just happens that my two-year-old daughter is, in fact, the most beautiful and delightful creature on the planet. It's pretty much impossible for me to withhold this information from her.

As an abstract matter, I'm sympathetic to ogged's view expressed in 150. That said, there are a lot of ideas that one has about child-rearing that go straight out the window once one actually has a child.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:11 PM
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I was careful to say that it wasn't necessarily my view.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:12 PM
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180: I knew a number of pairs of brothers where one had the touch, the other didn't. It has a lot to do with being comfortable in your own skin. Looks help too, of course. I just think a good chunk of that is innate, though of course socialization and genetics always interact.

But talking about a single quality "good with women" is a gross simplification, although some guys really do have the touch. Like, I had a friend who was plenty bashful and awkward around the opposite sex, not to mention generally dorky. But he had such a combination of good looks and innate kindness, solidity, and decency that there was always a girl or two interested in him. I can't imagine he could ever, like, pick up a girl at a bar, but his quality as a person shone through with any kind of interaction.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:14 PM
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It's one thing to blather on and on to your pre-school aged tot how precious you find her. It's another to tell your ugly-duckling 12-year-old that everyone tells her she's hideous specifically because they're jealous of how outrageously beautiful she is, or would be if she'd lose a little of that baby fat. There's a difference. The first is a harmless doting. The second is reaffirming your daughter's suspicions, that it is, indeed, all about beauty, and that, indeed, she could outshine them all, if only...


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:16 PM
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181: I dunno. The more I think about it, the more I realize I don't have that much useful to say, except that I very much found the whole process of "Girls are friends! Oh, no! Girls! Girls... really very okay, in strange and different ways" confusing and a big pain in the ass. Maybe this is not the general case? Probably it is a bigger pain in the ass for girls? Probably it is a product of a fucked up society? Can Sifu Tweety shed any light on any of these questions? Signs point to no.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:17 PM
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It's another to tell your ugly-duckling 12-year-old that everyone tells her she's hideous specifically because she needs implants.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:18 PM
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I might add that what I'm talking about doesn't necessarily relate to the dork boy in the video, either. I am, in case it wasn't clear, using myself as a synecdoche for cross-gender comfort, for the ways in which I could play with random girls in grownup social situations (eg, dinner at home of parent's colleague), the way that I always wanted to play with girls when I was in ~3rd grade, the way that I always had friends of both genders. IOW, even when I was 8, I thought that girls kick ass.

But none of that meant that I didn't do things like the dork in the video (a dork is a dork), that I didn't kick girls I had crushes on (one of whom was just mentioned here the other day), that I didn't fret over cooties, etc. Kids are kids, and are socially awkward. It's the underlying attitudes (and, obviously, truly problematic manifestations) that are key.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:19 PM
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I think for girls there's less socialized difference between liking boys and liking-them-liking-them. It's less confusing, perhaps because it's okay for girls to do boy things, so it's not like "Those crazy weidos who like [e.g. playing soccer] are suddenly growing physically attractive in a mysterious way!"

Replace "playing soccer" with "playing dress-up" or "cuddling dollies" and it seems obvious. Girls are weird to boys who have been raised to hate girl stuff.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:22 PM
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I totally wasn't raised to hate girl stuff. Quite the opposite. I just couldn't figure it. Girls didn't seem to be into robots; how could this not be confusing to me?

I did do some bitchin' needlepoint as an eight year old, though: counterpoint!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:28 PM
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It's another to tell your ugly-duckling 12-year-old that everyone tells her she's hideous specifically because they're jealous of how outrageously beautiful she is, or would be if she'd lose a little of that baby fat.

AWB, I understand why you find this praise of a child inappropriate, and I understand why you find the implicit criticism inappropriate for a child, too.

But this isn't an easy problem for a parent. What do you propose as an alternative for a child who doesn't meet conventional standards of beauty ?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:32 PM
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It seemed to me as a kid that girl social networks were a lot stronger than boy social networks. Try to talk to a girl and her whole posse gets involved. This, combined with their superior intelligence, leads to fear.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:33 PM
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I think AWB's 192 raises an interesting point, but I tend to look at simpler, more direct things - by the time the romantic/sexual thing starts to happen, girls may as well be on another planet biologically, and I think that most close cross-gender relationships strain or become more distant.

I guess it's a bit of a Hollywood cliche, but I think I noticed it at the time, too - the 12 yr old boy is still where he was at 11 and 10, while the 12 yr old girl (who was always a bit taller and more mature) suddenly has breasts and is 12 feet tall. The girl I mentioned the other day I literally had a crush on from 2nd-3rd grade to 7th. I was not prepared for showing up on the first day of school and she and all her friends were like little teenagers. I was wearing the same clothes I had the previous school year, and they were ready to cruise the mall.

Again, I fully cop to being a dork (especially at that time), but I think a lot of guys get blindsided around that age. It's not that they don't/can't think romantically/sexually about these girls, but that they're in no way equipped to do so.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:33 PM
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Try to talk to a girl and her whole posse gets involved. This, combined with their superior intelligence, leads to fear.

Holy shit, talk about blindsided. This is really a bit past the relevant age period, but freshman year, in a new HS in a new state, I got the gumption up to ask a girl out on a date sometime in late February. She very nicely says yes. Suddenly in school everyone's asking me what's the deal, are we "dating?" I had no idea, and was utterly unprepared to respond. She ended up breaking the date by slipping me a note at the end of the next day.

I predict that I will get over this bitterness before death, provided that I live a good, long time.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:37 PM
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194: I don't know. Let her know that she's beautiful to you, but that maybe not everyone sees it? I dunno. I felt like all I got back was a reinforcement that being The Most Gorgeous Woman Alive was the only way anyone would ever love me, so I gave up on that project pretty damn fast.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:41 PM
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Somebody needs to stop studying up on this stuff and go get laid already.

I'm working on it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:44 PM
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It sounds like you got exactly the wrong message, AWB (not to harsh on your parents). It's certainly a tricky balance, but I don't think it's actually that narrow a beam (to overextend the metaphor). As long as the average message is right, the kid gets the right reinforcement. But it sounds like your parents managed to stay on one side of the beam most of the time, when a little "they're wrong, you're a lovely girl, but looks aren't that important anyway" would have gone a long way.

That said, teenagerhood is too late to do good parenting. You just have to hope the foundation laid in the first 12 years proves strong enough to withstand the storm. [the temptation to overextend this metaphor as well is amazing. Praise my self-restraint]


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 9:49 PM
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198, 200: Yeah, this makes sense. I got alot of "You'd be so pretty if..." growing up and, while in retrospect I see that it was well intended, it certainly left me feeling like the ugly duckling. Yes, it would have looked nice if I brushed my hair -- but there's also something terribly unattractive about being self-conscious all the time.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:01 PM
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I got alot of "You'd be so pretty if..." growing up

No joke, my mom still pulls that shit. "You'd be so handsome if only you'd shave", etc . . .

Also, not buying this thing that the boy-girl split is socialized. Elementary-school kids are petty pricks who will zero in on any hint of difference to facilitate division. I recall great controversy over whether or not pumpable shoes were cool. To imagine that , in the absence of external socialization, status-conscious third graders would ignore gender is pure folly.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:10 PM
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146: Yeah, I do want my kid to have friends. So sue me. And if you want to blame my 6-year old son for the past 2-4-6 thousand years of the patriarchy, well, by all means go ahead, and I'm sure I won't do anything to stop you, but, in all honestly, I think this will make you look more than a little bit silly.

Well, I'm a woman too, and not at all the personification of the patriarchy. I suspect I'm also at least a little bit older than you, and old enough to have gone through a Catholic school system that was, by today's standards, way hard-core, and wonderfully baroque though not at all pretty.

Pray for the unbaptized babies who were resting in limbo, and man, you could stay up nights worrying about those innocent souls. Go with your mother to some church downtown to have your throat blessed, and you could start worrying that you were going to choke to death on a fish bone. Fr. Whelan (admittedly my own second cousin once removed) railing against the "young pups" who thought they could follow Vatican II and take Communion by hand, and I can still see him gesturing madly and impotently against the forces of the modern age. The good padre was having none of it, and he would shame his congregation of 7-year olds into sticking out their tongues, and we complied, of course, but of course we already knew he was on the wrong side of history.

You think I didn't know what was going on even when I was 7 years old? You think I'm some sort of cheerleader for the patriarchy?

Well, please.

But for all that, I never once got the message that I shouldn't actually be alive. It was just that I was supposed to be alive in a certain way and to a certain purpose. And frankly, given my own reactionary background, which did tell me, for all that, that is was okay of me to even exist, well, I'm a little bit sceptical, to be honest, and more than a little bit inclined to think you're grandstanding, frankly. And also, well, I'll be goddamned before I make my own son into some sort of symbolic pawn in some sort of struggle that is largely gestural anyway.

Sorry to get all earnest and shit, but jesus christ.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:15 PM
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I scold for several reasons. One, I do not want my son to associate "girl" with "bad." I'm proud that when people mistake him for a girl, he isn't offended; he just corrects them. He gets tired of it, but he doesn't think it's a bad thing.

Two, he himself gets very angry and hurt when girls tell him he's not allowed to like x or do y because "that's for girls." It's important to me that he not feel like he's not allowed to, say, be fond of cute things because doing so would be Unmanly. I want him to grow up to be a whole person.

Three, I don't like the little kid exclusion game, and the gender wars are part of how they play that. If a girl and a boy are telling a third kid that they rule and he drools, I'm going to tell them not to be mean; if two girls or two boys are saying the same thing to a third kid of the opposite sex, I'm going to do the same. Meanness is not okay.

Four, I don't want boys or girls to uncritically accept the idea that certain things are 1) gendered and 2) stupid. They'll learn plenty of sexism all on their own; I don't need for them to think it's okay.

Five, I think we don't do boys a favor by accepting their teaching one another that liking a doll, or Hello Kitty, or whatever the hell, is embarrassing/sissyish/bad. Letting kids teach each other shame over their feelings or preferences, frankly, sucks. Especially for a shy kid, I would think; it's important for shy kids to feel accepted, but it's even more important for them to realize that who they are is okay--even if that includes things that other people are foolish enough to think they're not supposed to like.

Finally, AWB, I'm afraid, is wrong about not telling kids--girls and boys--that they are beautiful. I think it's crucial that we tell kids that they're attractive; the world we live in is one in which looks matter, and it's not like they're not going to think about their looks if we just don't mention it. And again, I think we do kids a lot of favors by instilling confidence: I think one of the reasons I'm not neurotic about my looks is that my mom constantly gave me the message that I was terribly attractive and had nothing to worry about.

Of course, you don't want to send the message that their looks are the only thing you value, or even the primary thing: they should be praised for being strong, for being clever, for working hard, for asking good questions, for taking good care of their pets or siblings, etc.

And they should certainly have it pointed out to them that so-called "girls toys" are often about making oneself pretty, and how one-sided and silly that is--PK and I had just such a conversation yesterday, actually, when he suddenly noticed that most of the magazines at the grocery checkout talked about losing weight. After a quick sketch of the history of body image, the way that different places have different ideals, which in some places means force-feeding girls and other places means that some girls get a disease that makes them starve themselves, he put together--all on his own--that his frustration about being told that pretty/cute things are "just for girls" cuts both ways; that even though it sucks to be told that he's not supposed to have long hair, that on the other hand, he also isn't told that being beautiful is the most important thing in the world, and he doesn't feel like he has to "wear pink and froufrou stuff every single day just so that people will like me."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:26 PM
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To imagine that , in the absence of external socialization, status-conscious third graders would ignore gender is pure folly.

Awhile back, there was a dress-for-success columnist - maybe his name was Malloy? - who wrote weekly about how important it was to dress appropriately because appearances are so important. I got a chuckle out of a column he wrote excoriating a black people for imagining that race was holding them back.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:28 PM
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It's another to tell your ugly-duckling 12-year-old that everyone tells her she's hideous specifically because they're jealous of how outrageously beautiful she is, or would be if she'd lose a little of that baby fat.

Well, "if you'd X" is just awful, especially about the fat thing. And the "they're just jealous" thing is dismissive. But you can certainly tell her, for instance, that 12 is an awkward age because your body's changing a lot, but look at you: you have gorgeous eyes, naturally curly hair, a charming smile, and you're already beginning to have a womanly curvy body--just wait a few years, you'll see.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:32 PM
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206 strikes me as a pretty satisfying answer to my question in 194.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:37 PM
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204 and 206 make me wish I could hire B to come help raise my kid.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:46 PM
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208: In real life I smoke and my kid tells me to get off the computer and pay attention to him.

But I talk a good game.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:55 PM
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eh... B's principles are sound, but the results don't always work out well. My folks were dirty hippies like B, and now I'm proud of my ridiculous facial hair. Also, it took until I was thirteen to realize that I was not, in fact, the Adonis my mother assured me I was, and that not all of my social problems could be attributed to the hearts my mom insisted on drawing on my lunch bag. I got laid a lot in high school due to a)the presence of a cafeteria and b)irrational self-confidence, but that schtick gets old quick.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 10:59 PM
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I do not draw hearts on PK's lunch bag.

Though I did do a mouse in fabric paint on his lunch box, at his request.

Irrational self-confidence in high school is better than the alternative, smartass.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:03 PM
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There is a difference ebtween letting your kid know that you, hte parent, think they are beautiful, and trying to convince them that most people won't think they are ugly; the latter is just postponing the inevitable. But i'm not really a proponent of self-esteem per se.

Unlike most of these threads i think there is some potential for reducing the level of status competition, becasue one's kid is bit more pliable than one's nieghbor.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:11 PM
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I remember my mom would always compliment me on lots of things, but by the time i was 12 i was more knowlegable about what was cool and what wasn't, and she mostly like the uncool things. She just recently suggested i grow out my hair to something i imagine to be roughly like this: http://www.ece.wisc.edu/~ramsay/pictures/picture/matt.jpg


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:14 PM
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I just determined that a girl who has a crush on me is the daughter of one of the Powerline bloggers.


Posted by: james k. polk | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:14 PM
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I got laid a lot in high school due to a)the presence of a cafeteria

I'm sorry, what now?

I'm 99% positive I recall the presence of a cafeteria in my HS, and I'm even more positive that I didn't get laid at all.

Which makes me think that you may not need "a)" as one of your two reasons.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:17 PM
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I just determined that a girl who has a crush on me is the daughter of one of the Powerline bloggers.

"So it's like my dad says, Bush is a super-genius, people just don't know it."

"Pres. Polk, the kerning on your letters is so dreamy."

"Wanna come over to my folks house for dinner? Dad's making corn dogs!"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:19 PM
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It's like ogged's example of "Yellow Fever": daughters of crazy-ass rightwing motherfuckers falling hard for bad-boy liberalish-moderate guys who think health care might be an okay idea. (I'm guessing.) "That's right, Dad! I think I saw one of Bérubé's books on his nightstand. Yes, his nightstand! Next to the conveniently-placed birth control!"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:23 PM
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by the time i was 12 i was more knowlegable about what was cool and what wasn't, and she mostly like the uncool things.

When I was 12 (and younger), I had an odd notion that I knew what the hell I was doing with my personal appearance. The main instance of this was my refusal to part my hair. My mom, quite rightly, thought it would look good, but I somehow was convinced with the fiery certainty of prepubescent ignorance, that this was a bad idea. It wasn't even about wanting the opposite of what my mom wanted. I just was set on this stupid bit of independence.

Meanwhile, I always knew that my mom was cooler than I was. When my older sister went off to college, her younger friends continued to stop by the house to hang out and chat with my mom.

Oh, and s/b " folks' " in 216.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:23 PM
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bad-boy liberalish-moderate guys who think health care might be an okay idea. (I'm guessing.)

I dunno. He picked Polk as his pseud - sounds to me like the guy has a soft spot for militaristic interventionism, not to say outright imperialism. He'll make a fine son-in-law to Assr/cket.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:25 PM
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My high school cafeteria was torn down either my freshman or sophomore year and I don't think it was rebuilt until after I graduated. They used a temporary building for school-lunch and general sales purposes.

The only times I saw the inside of the cafeteria was when we had "self-scheduling." The cafeteria was set up with a table for each department and we were supposed to go up to each table and request the classes - outside of electives, this meant choosing teachers and/or times - we wanted. If they didn't have space, we had to choose a different class. This was later moved to a different building and then replaced by computers.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:26 PM
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Oh, and the cafeteria looked from the outside like a UFO brought down by weaponry made of ketchup and mustard.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:33 PM
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I just determined that a girl with a crush on me is also the daughter of one of the three powerline bloggers.


Posted by: james k. polk | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:54 PM
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I just determined that a girl with a crush on me is also the daughter of one of the three powerline bloggers.


Posted by: james k. polk | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:54 PM
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Now someone is just gloating.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 11:56 PM
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Is she Mexican, President Polk? Your prior incursions into Mexico resulted in the eventual statehood of Texas. Let us not repeat past mistakes.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:02 AM
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My mobile web browser was not displaying the comment as having posted.


Posted by: james k. polk | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:06 AM
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Wait, I got my chronology wrong. Texas was already a state when that happened. As you were.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:08 AM
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Well, sort of, actually, but you were involved, good sir. Mm hmm.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:10 AM
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sounds to me like the guy has a soft spot for militaristic interventionism, not to say outright imperialism

Or I might be a TMBG fan.


Posted by: james k. polk | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:11 AM
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I was hoping for a fan of Charles Sellers.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:13 AM
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The least that President Polk can do is live blog the pillow talk.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:17 AM
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230: I was hoping we were getting the band back together.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:17 AM
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But after the initial incursion, Texas became great with territory. Her inclusion into the republic was controversial and despite emergency measures taken in 1850, the seed of conflict was planted.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:18 AM
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Texas was already a state when that happened. As you were.

Yeah, Tyler's the one to blame for that. Although I think the actual annexation happened under Polk.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:19 AM
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Teo, teo, teo. Tyler's from the great Commonwealth of Virginia. Surely, he could've done no wrong. At-issue here is how much we all hate Texas.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:22 AM
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Statehood was in 1845, but I don't know if it was before or after the inauguration.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:24 AM
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Fuck Texas and Virginia both. I want the sexing of the Powerlet, I want the liveblogging of the sexing, I want links, and I want to watch the whole fucking wingnutosphere explaining that Dan Rather made up the whole thing.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:27 AM
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236: I'm fuzzy on details, but I think we admitted TX in December, and then promptly moved troops (whoops!) into disputed territories, got shot at, and then kicked ass in the name of Christ our Lord amen. (Not the official version, mind you.)

So, hostilities beginning under Tyler, continuing full-force under Polk.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:29 AM
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And DaveL also makes good points.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:29 AM
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Polk was prepared to go to war over unpaid debts. But the conflict over the border - Nueces or Rio Grande? Polk claimed Rio Grande and sent troops there despite a lack of historical evidence that that had ever been the southern border - allowed him to escape delivering that speech.

I think.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:32 AM
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One of the salutary aspects of the current presidency is that it has led to much interesting discussion of who, exactly, was the worst president in U.S. history.

I've been interested to see Polk show up as a Bottom-Fiver and a Top-Fiver, depending on who is making the list.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:32 AM
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240: That sounds about right. Armchair history at unfogged.

Just before the Iraq war I perked up at a lecture on the Mexican-American War—holy shit, provoked war by the US: this is like Iraq. Er, sort of.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:37 AM
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Lincoln wasn't happy with Polk's version of the border. That speech is probably better known today for statements like this:

As to the mode of terminating the war, and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and indefinite. First, it is to be done by a more vigorous prossecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemies country; and, after apparantly, talking himself tired, on this point, the President drops down into a half despairing tone, and tells us that ``with a people distracted and divided by contending factions, and a government subject to constant changes, by successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may fail to secure a satisfactory peace[.]'' Then he suggests the propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels of their own leaders, and trusting in our protection, to set up a government from which we can secure a satisfactory peace; telling us, that ``this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace.'' But soon he falls into doubt of this too; and then drops back on to the already half abandoned ground of ``more vigorous prossecution.[''] All this shows that the President is, in no wise, satisfied with his own positions. First he takes up one, and in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of it; then seizes another, and goes through the same process; and then, confused at being able to think of nothing same process; and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches up the old one again, which he has some time before cast off. His mind, tasked beyond it's power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature, on a burning surface, finding no position, on which it can settle down, and be at ease.

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:40 AM
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Result of 243: Sherman's toothpicks. As a military thinker, Lincoln was way ahead of his time.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:49 AM
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242: Huh. I've just been reading (rereading?) Barbara Tuchman on WWI and marvelling at the parallels between Bush's military strategery and that of the pre-war French general staff. It's all about will, and audacity, and always believing that you'll win.


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:54 AM
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243: beyond it's power

Noting the typo, the Mexican Chargé d'affaires Benjamín Hijo de Lobo was noted to have asked, "Pero, ¡¿por qué?!"

So, it's really w-lfs-n's fault. Really.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:54 AM
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211: No kidding.

Irrational self-confidence in high school is better than the alternative, smartass.

Such as the alternative I explored at length; not getting laid in high school at all.

In fact, there's an extent to which foolishmortal's dismissal of all the teenage booty he got in high school makes me hope that lightning strikes him. I'd pay blood to have had one single makeout session with Mary Beth Carosello, the Aphrodite of my teenage dreamscape.


Posted by: Nbarnes | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:57 AM
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241: How does Polk make either list? I'm inclined to put him near the ten spot (ascending), but am not that bothered about him either way. Andrew Johnson is always way low down, but I prefer a eunuch to a rapist. IMO, Ford and McKinley are often overlooked in the "worst president" rankings. I agree that this is a fun game, but surely we could have found a cheaper way to play.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:57 AM
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247: Don't worry, Karma has done its duty; God need not bother. It is against this Karma that I warn: women will eventually expect more than irrational exuberance.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 1:02 AM
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If people are taking great to mean something like impact, Polk managed in one term to get pretty much all American territory outside of Alaska, Hawaii, and the Gadsden purchase west of the Louisiana Purchase. Not too many presidents have done things like that.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 1:03 AM
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Of course, The Archives tell us all we need to know about the past presidents.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 1:05 AM
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248: Polk is blamed (or credited) with the war, which is cast as either a despicable imperialist venture or a successful imperialist venture.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 1:08 AM
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If anybody wants a cool James K. Polk-themed T-shirt design, email me. I made a good one.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 1:27 AM
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252: I am way tired, and am going to sleep, but I promise I will read any response tomorrow. That said, Polk was neither the first nor the last President to say something along the lines of "Nice land, too bad I don't have any territorial clai...oh wait!" That said, he fucked up the political implications of expansion rather badly. In my book, Polk was an important exponent of making the United States a continental power, but he fucked up the domestic consequences. 9/43.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 1:30 AM
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This Mary Beth Carosello?

She seems to be an interesting person.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 7:24 AM
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I just determined that a girl who has a crush on me is the daughter of one of the Powerline bloggers.

Oh please, President Polk, you gotta do this. I'll pay you money!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 7:35 AM
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I just determined that a girl who has a crush on me is the daughter of one of the Powerline bloggers.

You realize that your mission is clear? You need to get this girl to invite you back to Minnesota for a long weekend, meet the parents, and report back. Jesus, what an opportunity!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 7:45 AM
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You realize that your mission is clear?

No, your mission is to click the link in 256 and then do likewise.

A m/oveon.org tee-shirt might work just as well as a Bin Ladin mask, come to think of it.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 8:35 AM
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I really think that Hans Christian Anderson is a much more significant author than people think. "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Ice Princess", "The Ugly Duckling" -- it's all pretty dark and/or subversive.

The famous Danish authors that I know of are Kierkegaard, Anderson, and Dineson. Quite a motley crew. The stereotypical Dane is cheerful, complacent, and sensible to a fault. These guys were doing the reaction formation in a big way. (Dineson was one of the major fag hags of her era, they say.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 8:45 AM
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You realize that your mission is clear? You need to get this girl to invite you back to Minnesota for a long weekend, meet the parents, and report back. Jesus, what an opportunity!

I'm sure that young Ashleigh Big Trunk has been approached by countless suitors hoping for this kind of infiltration. President Polk will have to be very persuasive.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 8:51 AM
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Polk ought to flirt with Hindrocket himself, just to check out the rumors.

Seriously, I do not believe in visiting the sins of the fathers on the daughters, except for the Bush girls. And I alsodon't believe in using relationships for cruel purposes, though I am keenly aware that cruelty is what relationships are best for.

Back on the veldt, people needed to find non-murderous outlets for their anger and cruelty, so the "relationship" evolved.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 8:58 AM
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I really think that Hans Christian Anderson is a much more significant author than people think.

Oh yeah, I had no appreciation for the Ugly Duckling until I read the copy they gave out on the plane. The difference between it and the mass market version that American children get to know is like the difference between Mozart's "Variations on 'Ah vous dirais-je, Maman'" and a music box playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:04 AM
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261: Maybe you and Burke can hug it out now.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:12 AM
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For "non-murderous" read "less-murderous". See, a virus which is immediately and inevitably fatal will go extinct itself. You want the slow drip of malice disseminating through the pool in a series of relationships.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:13 AM
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Okay, I just looked it up. Congress approved annexation of Texas after Polk's election but before his inauguration, and delegated the exact manner of annexation to the president. The intention was to let Polk decide how to do it, but everyone seems to have forgotten that Tyler was still president, so they were pissed when he went ahead and did it his way. Polk had no objection, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:18 AM
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In 1816, his father died and, in order to support himself, Andersen worked as an apprentice for both a weaver and a tailor. He later worked in a cigarette factory where his fellow workers humiliated him by betting on whether he was in fact a girl, pulling down his trousers to check.

The Anderson Wiki is worth a look. A hellish life and a generally unappealing personality.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:20 AM
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I really think that Hans Christian Anderson is a much more significant author than people think.

No kidding, he's brilliant. There's been an amazing decline in the quality of children's literature since the 19th century. There used to be really rich, imaginative, and psychologically complex stuff in that genre. This next sentence should be a Harry Potter slam, although I haven't actualy bothered to read those.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:23 AM
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I'm ordering HCE's works to find out whether it works as adult literature. I have vivid memories of half a dozen of his tales.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:43 AM
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267: Sally's just reading those -- we have a book of his stories. Weird, complicated stuff.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:48 AM
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I remember reading a version (the Brothers Grimm one I think) of Snow White at a relatively young age and if I recall correctly, at the end there's the wedding and Snow and the Prince invite the Evil Stepmother and say "no hard feelings" and gift her with this spiffy pair of bright red shoes.

The queen steps into them only to realize that they're actually made of iron and are red hot. They sear to her feet and she dances herself to death.

Happy stuff.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:58 AM
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Their Cinderella also involves exciting, fun foot mutilation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:02 AM
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255: I'm not honestly sure. That picture isn't the best for recognizing her ten or so years later. The hair is about right. I'm wary because that Mary Beth Carosello may have the last name because of marriage.


Posted by: nbarnes | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:02 AM
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Ogged is right about Little Miss Powerline, and DaveL is an evil man.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:08 AM
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There's been an amazing decline in the quality of children's literature since the 19th century.

Bull. Most "children's literature" in the 19th century was horribly didactic, and there is a ton of great stuff out there for kids now.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:10 AM
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264: Yes, and the XIXc didn't have My Little Pony, which is why boys then were not close to their feminine side.

Almost all children's literature is soehow didactic, and as far as I'm concerned it should be.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:13 AM
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maybe it's just survivor bias, we only read the good stuff from the 19th century.

Anyone ever read "Goblin Market", I think it was by Christina Rossetti? Holy shit.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:14 AM
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I'd say there's been a decline in the assumed level of literacy among young readers. You get books aimed at pre-teens now with short, simple sentence structure, as opposed to something like Louisa May Alcott which is written for an audience of fairly young children for whom reading complex sentences is assumed to be effortless.

That doesn't speak directly to which is better, but it's fair to say that modern kids books are simpler.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:16 AM
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276: Goblin Market wasn't for children, was it? With the climactic lesbian makeout scene and all?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:17 AM
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Not sure, but when I was young we had an illustrated version that did look to be for kids. A few lines per page, with lots of drawings of goblins and fruit. Incredibly sexy poem, though I was too young to fully understand it. Just knew it made me feel funny.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:19 AM
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Most "children's literature" in the 19th century was horribly didactic

Word. My parents got a book of children's stories by Oscar Wilde (!) once, and it turned out that only a couple of them were not so overbearingly didactic and allegorical as to be practically unreadable.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:34 AM
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back to Minnesota

Someone's checking IP addresses again. There's also a way to figure this out from my facebook page, if you know the last names of the p-line bloggers.


Posted by: james k. polk | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:36 AM
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I think that children's literature written in adult language has a mysteriousness and elusiveness that makes reading seem appealing. Kids always have to figure out what's really going on in life anyway, and hearing stories you can't quite fully understand which use vocabulary you've never heard can be very enticing.

Recent children's fiction is liberal-didactic. Tolerance, freedom, non-violence, non-sexism, blah-blah-blah. NTTAWWT.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:39 AM
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Almost all children's literature is soehow didactic

Probably, but there's plenty that isn't, except in the broad sense that all literature is didactic.

we only read the good stuff from the 19th century.

Exactly.

277: Little Women was written for older children--the same age group that's now expected to read, say, Harry Potter or A Wrinkle in Time. And much of the traditional children's lit--Gulliver's Travels,
Robinson Crusoe
--was abridged or bowdlerized stuff from the previous century. Hence 20th century illustrated editions of "Goblin Market," for example, which was not written for children, no. Younger children, especially, did not have much that we would consider engaging reading 100 years ago; the shorter sentences, etc., in a lot of kids books now have to do with their being aimed at young or new readers and is largely due to the example of Dr. Seuss.

Honestly, kids today have so much more interesting reading material than kids did even fifty years ago--including the best stuff from the past. Our children are terribly lucky in that respect.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:41 AM
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Most "children's literature" in the 19th century was horribly didactic, and there is a ton of great stuff out there for kids now.

This is the discussion we always have about literature that's been around longer than John & Bob. We forget about the dreck (or it fails to survive at all) and treat the entire [prior era] lit as Greatest Hits only.

That said, we do, in fact, have direct parallels - the old stories have been rewritten constantly, and I'm not aware of any post-Disney versions that hold up as tolerable lit from either a prose or a storytelling standpoint.

As Emerson rightly notes, the didacticism is a red herring - Beverly Cleary's didactic if you want her to be, that's nothing to do with its merits. The didacticism of 19th C lit stands out because the lessons are so weird to us (Struwwelpeter, anyone?).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:43 AM
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I even think that Dr. Seuss is didactic.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:45 AM
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Absolutely. The Lorax? The Sneetches? It's good stuff anyway, but straightforwardly pushing a message, lots of it. I don't really understand the anti-didacticism, unless the message is both wrong and still relevant -- like, Andersen is all about the Christian message, but not in a way that I think is likely to affect my heathen children, so I can appreciate it as pure esthetics, and the same with those Oscar Wilde stories, or someone like George MacDonald, who I love.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:50 AM
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My 284 would've had more value had I finished it before B's 283.

I must say, she's right - it's when you look at the real young-kid stuff that our current era shines, thanks mostly to Dr. Seuss.

That said, I wonder if there was quite as much dreck in the past. We're very conscientous in choosing books for our daughter, but I'm often shocked when visiting others' homes at what is considered acceptable kids' books. How does this shit get published!? Nursery rhymes that don't, "songs" that don't maintain their rhythm, illustrations that took someone an afternoon (for the whole book's worth).... 50 years ago, books were too expensive to bother producing such worthless stuff (yes, I know about pulps, etc; my understanding is that 5 yr olds weren't the market for nickel novels).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:51 AM
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280: But if you give someone a collection that has, say, his Nightingale story, then they'll wax nostalgic about how great kids literature was back in the day.

282: I know you're trolling, John, but, um, no. It's not. Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg, the Harry Potter books for chrissake, Kate diCamillo, William Steig, Avi, Jean Craighead George--plenty of violence in all of those, plenty of acknowledgement of dark feelings, plenty of traditional sex roles (plus thank god some realization that girls, too, have dark feelings and enjoy adventure), plenty of slavery and imprisonment, plenty of negotiating intolerance and prejudice, plenty of acknowledgment that sometimes Bad People really are bad.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:52 AM
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I would like to apologize for my overuse of commas, not only in that last comment but generally. I tend to edit briefs by taking out all the commas, and only reinserting the ones that are absolutely necessary -- it improves my prose immensely.

Speaking of briefs, I should go write a couple.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:52 AM
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What I find interesting about older kids' lit - like mid-century - is the slightly-off nature of the didacticism. You can see the incipient Fifties of legend, with a pervasive sense of submission and Natural Order. It's like visiting Canada - familiar, but just different enough to feel foreign.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:54 AM
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The key is cutting against the didacticism with emotional complexity and undercurrents, etc.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 10:58 AM
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Maurice Sendak, Chris Van Allsburg, the Harry Potter books for chrissake, Kate diCamillo, William Steig, Avi, Jean Craighead George--plenty of violence in all of those, plenty of acknowledgement of dark feelings, plenty of traditional sex roles (plus thank god some realization that girls, too, have dark feelings and enjoy adventure), plenty of slavery and imprisonment, plenty of negotiating intolerance and prejudice, plenty of acknowledgment that sometimes Bad People really are bad.

I don't recognize a lot of those names (daughter is 3.5), so maybe I'm wrong, but are you talking about stuff that's targeted to older kids? I know PK isn't that much older, but HP, for instance, was originally targeted towards 8-10 yr olds (give or take). I have not encountered anything written for under-fives in the last 3 decades with 1/3 the darkness of one of Grimms' lighter tales. And, as I said, the stories that have come down continuously have been blatantly bowldlerized.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:02 AM
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Struwwelpeter would count as good children's lit from the past, because--though didactic as hell--it had a lot of exciting violence and Bad Things happening.

Andersen is all about the Christian message, but not in a way that I think is likely to affect my heathen children, so I can appreciate it as pure esthetics

Exactly. And a lot of contemporary kid's lit that isn't *overt* in its didacticism worries parents. My mother in law gave her kids Strewwelpeter (which Mr. B. loved) but withheld Where the Wild Things Are because it was Too Frightening for Children.

This is the sort of thing young ladies (older teenagers) were given to read in the 18th and 19th century, rather than those awful novels that just encouraged young women to chase after men, and is the reason Becky Sharp threw her book of Johnson's Essays out the window of the carriage as she left her school in Vanity Fair. Look at this timeline and notice that illustrations didn't show up until the mid-19th century, and sentimentalism was the dominating force in children's lit until the 20th. Here's a good essay overview--notice, e.g., the statement that

The Edgeworths, Goodrich, and many others held that Greek myths, fairy tales, and romances were too violent and belonged to the past; that science and practical matters along with the building of character were more suitable subjects for youthful reading. They held that edification and instruction of the young should be effected by the reading of the truth, and, in fiction, works should be of moral and instructive content. Virtues to be explored included honesty, kindness to the poor, industry, sharing, and obedience to adults.
I am sorry, Maria Edgeworth wrote some fun novels, but her children's lit is godawful and John Bunyan? For kids? You must be kidding. People love to love Blake, but Songs of Innocence and Experience are just grossly didactic and schmaltzy--undergrads love to think of them as being "good for children," but come on.

Here's a shorter outline-type overview.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:09 AM
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I have not encountered anything written for under-fives in the last 3 decades with 1/3 the darkness of one of Grimms' lighter tales.

But the Grimms' tales aren't written for under-fives, either.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:10 AM
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The Harry Potter books for chrissake....

Are you talking to me, lady?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:22 AM
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But the Grimms' tales aren't written for under-fives, either.

I was thinking that as I wrote it. What was their nominal target audience? Does anyone know with any certainty?

Furthermore, it's complicated by the fact that literacy comes much earlier than it used to, and so you've got this balance between what kids need in books to help them learn to read (Seuss) and what kinds of stories interest them by age 5 (much beyond Seuss).

Oh, and B's MIL is insane. Wild Things too scary?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:23 AM
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I have not encountered anything written for under-fives in the last 3 decades with 1/3 the darkness of one of Grimms' lighter tales.

Look again at Maurice Sendak and Chris Van Allsburg. I think you'll be surprised. Check out some of the Caldecott winners you haven't heard of--The Story of Jumping Mouse, for example, is terribly sad, Outside Over There (which is by Maurice Sendak) has a lot of dark scary stuff going on, and for heaven's sake, this year's honor books are about endangered animals and Rosa Parks. Even Kitten's First Full Moon, from last year, has a dark subtext (and suitably beautiful, melancholy illustrations). I think a lot of people don't realize the darkness in contemporary lit because they're not looking for it--just like our ancestors didn't realize the darkness in Struwwelpeter or Grimms Fairytales, or they wouldn't have even considered giving them to their children.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:23 AM
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I think that we've gotten B. started. Could someone distract her with something about shoes or bras or koi or something?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:25 AM
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Dunno what happened with the html in 293.

B's MIL is insane. Wild Things too scary?

See? Are you not recognizing the darkness of that book? Honestly, it *is* dark; my MIL's insanity wasn't that she realized that, it was that she thought it was the kind of darkness that upsets children. Plenty of people don't like that book for that reason, and plenty of books that we view as light and cute can be very upsetting for kids--e.g., PK cannot bear to have me read the Velveteen Rabbit to him.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:29 AM
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Interestingly, I was a child who preferred the dark or upsetting stuff, but one thing PK has taught me is that attentive and sensitive young kids *can* be extremely upset by books that have, say, death or illness in them. A lot of my favorite kids books were things that I read to him once and he refused to ever hear them again and was angry at me for picking them up in the first place, so some of the darker stuff now I deliberately alter my affect when I read to him, so as to downplay the sad bits (e.g., in The Story of Jumping Mouse, the mouse is progressively crippled until it basically dies and is reincarnated as an Eagle, but I read it in such a way as to emphasize the gift-giving that cripples him and how fabulous it is at the end that he retains all his senses *and* he can fly! Plus we agree, at PK's suggestion, that *of course* the mouse has the power to turn back into a mouse when he wants to--after all, he's a magic mouse.)

At the same time, however, things like Dumbledore's death don't really faze him. It's hard to tell which "dark" things are going to get to a kid and which aren't--I think it has something to do with whether the darkness is right there on the surface (okay) or buried in the subtext, which tends (I think) to affect kids on a much more sensitive level.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:38 AM
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What was their nominal target audience? Does anyone know with any certainty?

They were originally anthropology, not literature, right? Folk tales told by adult folk to adults and children, and collected as scholarship.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:40 AM
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is the reason Becky Sharp threw her book of Johnson's Essays out the window of the carriage as she left her school in Vanity Fair.

It was the Dictionary, wasn't it? Dull, but reasonably so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:41 AM
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302: Actually I think you're right, but I think the reason for her tossing the dictionary is that the essays were canonical reading for girls (Austen talks about this, too), and she'd developed a virulent hatred of the man.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:46 AM
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Well, so do I, so I guess I'm a Victorian girl. To me he's the most overrated guy in the Canon, and a generally unpleasant person.

Boswell is mildly fun because Boswell and Mrs. Williams (?) clearly don't agree with him.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:49 AM
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Oh, Johnson's lovely. I'd think you'd totally identify with his crotchety old guy shtick; have you no sense of humor?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:52 AM
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when a man is tired of johnson, sir, he is tired of life.

velveteen rabbit, on the other hand, is definitely sick fuck material.
like, who would think this would be appropriate for kids?
ditto most of h.c. andersen. tin soldier? match girl? sick sick sick.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:55 AM
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don't much like chris van allsburg, for the same reason i've always hated the cat in the hat.

in same genre, but very good, imo, is tim wynne-jones trilogy on zoom the cat. illustrations and dialogue both first-rate.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:57 AM
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Huh -- I find myself having a version of Emerson's reaction; listening to Johnson as if he were a modern-day conservative and disliking him for his politics as if they were current. I don't know why: generally I have an easy time judging people by the standards of their own time, but not Johnson for some reason. He's Bill Buckley to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:58 AM
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Shit, stepped away too long. Yes, I do see the darkness in Wild Things. I also see that no one is mutilated, that punishments don't crazily outstrip transgressions, and that a safe, loving home is the baseline. Maybe I (and others) have mistakenly used the word "darkness" when we really mean "bloodiness." And I'm not really advocating more blood in my preschooler's books (although it doesn't freak me out, either). But I don't think that a book about Rosa Parks - even though it will cover a lot of heavy material - is in any way comparable to, say, the original Little Mermaid, in which she dies at the end.

Oh, and Velveteen Rabbit is preemptively banned from our house. Fuck that weepy-ass shit.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 11:59 AM
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308--

granted, you can't take his politics seriously.
(tho i've always liked his jibe at u.s. hypocrisy: something like
"why do we hear the loudest yelps for freedom from the drivers of slaves?" it's a fair cop, no?)

but i love him for other stuff. surprised b does, tho.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:03 PM
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Do you guys realize that Velveteen Rabbit is actually a resurrection story? I don't think I got the Christian subtext until I re-read it before sending it to my godson.

Anyway, if you're going to ban VR while arguing that there's no kid's lit that's comparable to the Little Mermaid because she dies (um, so does the rabbit?), well, there's no arguing with you.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:03 PM
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you can't take his politics seriously

Why the hell not?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:05 PM
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don't much like chris van allsburg, for the same reason i've always hated the cat in the hat.

Which is what, exactly?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:06 PM
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when a man is tired of johnson

Too easy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:13 PM
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B is just crazed with Emerson-hatred.

Water is wet, B! Suck on that!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:13 PM
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VR is banned for our sakes. I actually think I might be able to get through it, but my wife wants no part of it.

I accidentally made my daughter weep with the story of Echo and Narcissus. She was devastated when Echo wasted away. In retrospect, I could've seen it coming, but....

I never read VR before or after college; I don't recall if I got the resurrection imagery at the time. But, you know, as a heathen, I could give a shit for resurrection imagery.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:14 PM
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312--
sorry, suppressed antecedent: if you want to develop any affection for johnson; if you want to sift the wheat from the chaff; if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, and see if there's something worth while in him.

313--
i don't like movies with "girl in peril" plots, where the heroine is simply a passive object of predation, standing wide-eyed while action-sequences gallop around her. i like them even less if there is a strong defilement/pollution theme, where she is threatened by being defiled in a permanent, indelible way.

i like them no better when the plot adds a "boy in peril", and the two are siblings.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:14 PM
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317.2: Bah. Talk about wanting didactic literature. Also, that's not the entirety of Van Allsburg's work by a long shot, and it's certainly not the entirety of the Cat in the Hat, either.

B is just crazed with Emerson-hatred.

I'm covering the walls of our house in photos of you with scribbled dark symbols in magic marker, how did you know?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:18 PM
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I'm covering the walls of our house in photos of you with scribbled dark symbols in magic marker, how did you know?

The otherwise unexplained stabbing pains in various body parts?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:22 PM
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i'm very fond of didactic literature. i learned to farm from hesiod's works and days.

but your 'bah' seems misplaced: by saying that i think the cat in the hat uses repellent sexist tropes, and that i dislike it for that reason, i am asking for didactic literature? that just seems like a weird inference.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:23 PM
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By the way, "didactic" and "dark" are not opposites.

The most horrifyingly didactic thing I ever read was Melville's "Piazza Tales". He must have had a stroke or fallen in love or something. He got better later.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:25 PM
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sure, 'didactic' is a traditional excuse for dark. will scare the devil out of them.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:26 PM
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I thought the "Piazza Tales" at the time helped revive Melville's popularity after a work or two, which no doubt went on to become considered masterpieces, bombed horribly. The only Melville I've ever finished is Typee.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 12:52 PM
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The Dancing Cats of Applesap made me cry huge bawling tears at the age of six or seven or so. I barely remember it, except that my parents were very puzzled as to why their oldest child was suddenly (rather late at night, as I'd already developed the habit of staying up late to have more time to read) crying his head off his in bedroom.

And The Velveteen Rabbit bloody well is sad and tear-worthy. *sniff*


Posted by: Nbarnes | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 8:58 PM
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but your 'bah' seems misplaced: by saying that i think the cat in the hat uses repellent sexist tropes, and that i dislike it for that reason, i am asking for didactic literature?

I just mean that that reading of it is awfully dogmatic. And if *I'm* saying that, well....

I think it's a story about kids love of chaos and naughtiness. And it's all okay because in the end it gets taken care of and no trouble is gotten into.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-27-07 9:13 PM
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255 Update: I just Googled around and it turns out that, yes, in fact, that Mary Beth Carosello is the exact same Mary Beth Carosello that was in my class at Webster Groves High School, St. Louis, MO. It seems she went on to get a Master's in Art History and move to southern CA.

*pitter-pat*


Posted by: Nbarnes | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:44 AM
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308: I love Johnson. All even semi-depressive types should read him, he has a knack for giving in to depression but not giving in to it at the same time. He makes cheerfulness acceptable.

He was sort of crazy, though. Don't read him for his politics. Burke is the acceptable 18th century conservative.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:24 AM
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but Songs of Innocence and Experience are just grossly didactic and schmaltzy

Please! What an utterly bizarre comment. These are some of the greatest English-language poems ever written.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:27 AM
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328: Oh yeah.

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

That doesn't sound at all like something a pretentious high school kid would write, nuh-uh.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:34 AM
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Or even better:

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

Weep! Weep! Weep! Weep! Now *there's* shmaltz and forced-rhyme scheme for you. Not to mention "in soot I sleep."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:38 AM
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'weep, 'weep, 'weep 'weep, in notes of woe.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:39 AM
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I swear to god the only reason Blake's in the canon is because his stuff teaches well to hyper-sincere undergrads with zero life experience.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:43 AM
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330--
don't the apostrophes on
'weep
indicate that blake is not using the word "weep",
but rather indicating the hawker's pronunciation of "sweep"?
(like 'all alive-o', 'cherry-ripe', etc.)

my point: the rhythm of the line-end is less problematic if the audience has a particular call in mind, a quotation of which immediately fixes a rhythmic pattern in their mental ear.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:44 AM
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And OHMYGOD it feels good to be out of academia and be able to say these things.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:44 AM
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333: Ah, the lisping child and the fortunate double meaning! That's DEEP man. And it really touches me right here.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:45 AM
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335--
you needn't like blake.
i don't like blake.
i just thought you might be interested by another possible
reading of the line.
and, yes, being in academics can be un-freeing, though after a while it can be freeing again.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:47 AM
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332--

hyper-sincere undergrads with //// innocence.

why's he in the canon? yeah--good question.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:52 AM
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I think it's crucial that we tell kids that they're attractive; the world we live in is one in which looks matter, and it's not like they're not going to think about their looks if we just don't mention it.

This is really important. AWB said not to tell girls 'just' that they're pretty, and I think that is right. But my parents erred on the other side... they were not going to raise someone who thought she was only valued for her looks, so they never mentioned it, except to complain about my hair or wonder why I wouldn't wear a little bit of makeup (but I couldn't show interest in those things because that would mean I wasn't serious enough about school)

It doesn't make you into a person who is ignorant of how she looks... it turns you into a kid who when made fun of at school for her looks thinks that her parents probably agree with the kids who think she's ugly.

This all goes to show that parenting is probably an impossible task.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:52 AM
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still, the sad truth is that i formulate judgments about most of
the women on this blog at least in part on the basis of their looks.
their self-reported looks, of course, since i've never seen any of them.
that's how hard it is to relate to women without appearance playing a role!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:56 AM
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Yeah, I'm trying to work with "Of course you're beautiful, but that's not terribly important as personal qualities go." It seems to have come through -- I just picked up a story Sally was writing, and while I didn't read the whole thing (she strews stuff she writes all over the place, but gets very private about it if people read it. So I snoop a little, but not much.), it was about Princess Sally, who was really smart and could lift 10,000 pounds and was beautiful!! which is about the right order for your fantasy self-image, I think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:57 AM
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340--
that's very sweet.
cala is right that parenting is impossible,
but you should definitely pat yourself on the back for that particular progress-report.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:59 AM
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339: still, the sad truth is that i formulate judgments about most of
the women on this blog at least in part on the basis of their looks.
their self-reported looks, of course, since i've never seen any of them.
that's how hard it is to relate to women without appearance playing a role!

kid, for the record, I am totally hot. Hope that helps!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:00 AM
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342--
that's exactly the judgment of you i'd already formulated.

and you can doubtless imagine my self-reported hotness.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:03 AM
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329: you're right, it doesn't. Although being the first poet to write lines that you could kinda-sorta imagine in heavy metal lyrics is a plus in my book. There's a reason pop music has utterly displaced poetry in the culture.

It's common to get embarassed by sentiment nowadays, but sentiment is the heart of all poetry. The ban on it is one reason basically nobody reads "good" contemporary poetry except people who are forced to do it for a living. (Although some sentimental confessionalism is permitted today when its made "authentic" through personal confession -- one reason I prefer Blake's sentiment is because it's never personally confessional).

Also, Songs of Innocence and Experience is a unified work, and you have to read poems against corresponding pieces in the "opposite" class.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:04 AM
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Six to eight times hot.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:05 AM
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345 to 343.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:05 AM
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345--
true, but i try not to capitalize on it.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:06 AM
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He was sort of crazy, though. Don't read him for his politics. Burke is the acceptable 18th century conservative

At the time of the Revolution, perhaps, although the "Created equal—except for slavery" angle is always worth remembering. Perhaps as a Canadian of partly loyalist ancestry, the morality seems more naturally ambiguous to me.

By the time of the French Revolution, Burke had become a different kind of reactionary. As Hirschmann demonstrated in The Rhetoric of Reaction, he was the founder of some of their most corrosive tropes. It's hard for me to imagine Johnson would have taken such a turn; he's a wonderfully attractive and admirable character, the more you know about him.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:07 AM
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Also, the fact that people still like to read a poet 220 years later is an odd reason to say that he shouldn't be in the canon.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:09 AM
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What surprises me is the sense of inhibition implied in 334.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:14 AM
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348: very interesting. As I remember it, Johnson seems to have this transparent (if curmudgeonly) personal decency, but can then veer wildly into abusive language when he talks about politics. So I always had a hard time knowing what to think. But perhaps I'm not familiar enough with him.

And with Burke, I was thinking about their contrasting positions on the American revolution. But Burke's critique of the French revolution always struck me as intellectually coherent at least.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:18 AM
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I tend more towards the adorable in need of a haircut, myself. While I'm on the subject of wonderful me and my glorious appearance, I spent kind of a foolish amount of money on a FABULOUS and charming fall/spring coat yesterday, and I can't wait until it's just a little bit cooler so that I can start wearing it all the time.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:20 AM
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People. I have taught the long 18th century many, many, many times. I know how to read Blake, and yes, I point out to the cynical undergrads that sneering at his sentimental crap is part of the point of the poetry, and that punctuation matters, and that "inexperienced undergrads", according to Blake, have a kind of Innocent Purity that I, with my cynical Experience, lack, and that he was at the beginning of a lyrical tradition blah blah blah.

Nonetheless. His poetry fucking sucks.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:24 AM
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342 kid, for the record, I am totally hot. Hope that helps!

I always knew you were hot by virtue of your intellect as revealed in your comment threads. But alas, I am too old for you and far, far away. Sigh!


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:28 AM
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Burke's critique of the French revolution always struck me as intellectually coherent at least.'

Oh yes. "Those terrible revolutionaries, they THREATENED the QUEEN in her BEDCHAMBER!!1!!"

Intellectually coherent, sure. Defensible, no.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:30 AM
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354: But wait! I'm old! Honest!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:36 AM
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Swamp's got grown kids, though, so a generation or so off. How's your daughter doing in Iraq, BTW?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:40 AM
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Which is worse: age discrimination or geography rejection?


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:41 AM
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Neither one -- it's getting rejected despite being age-appropriate and local.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:42 AM
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Any grown sons, by chance? I'm putting together a matrix of age and mileage...

What branch is your daughter, SC?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:44 AM
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Age discrimination is definitely worse. Geography is just a matter of being practical.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:46 AM
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I think that flirting while saying "but of course you're too old/too far away/too married/too whatever" is bad, period. Nothing says "classy" like "I feel the need to point out that I'm not REALLY serious, because if I don't you're liable to fall in love and/or jump me."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:50 AM
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LB, I had the strangest experience earlier this week. My daughter called from Iraq on Monday to tell me ... "guess what, Dad, I got married by proxy."

She and her intended got married two weeks, and her matter-of-fact announcement, after the fact, struck me as a kind Kafka moment.

What kind of marriage ceremony did proxy perform, I wondered, not that it really matters.

Now, here is the legal question: If a marriage ceremony is performed by proxy, and geography prevents consummation thereof, is it annullable?


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:51 AM
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363: Whoa! Congratulations. (?)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:53 AM
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363: Congratulations to your daughter, and I think you're right, it's annullable until consummated. (Although I bet there's some really archaic research you could do on the legal implications of premarital sex, followed by an unconsummated marital ceremony, consummation-wise.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:54 AM
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Di, no sons, only daughters, my oldest a Captain in the U.S. Army.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:56 AM
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LB, you are the consummate legal counselor. Thanks everyone for the congrats.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:58 AM
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Nonetheless. His poetry fucking sucks.

Impasse! Do you even like the illustrations, you heartless bitch?



Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 10:58 AM
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362: I dunno about that. We live in a world where people have very individual expectations -- you're married, but free to flirt with intent to act, I'm married and not, but someone would have to know both of us for a while to know that we were in different situations there.

I'm uncomfortable saying that explicit communication is disfavored, in a context where miscommunication could be a bad thing -- while perfectly sensitive, graceful people can always keep themselves out of trouble, most of us aren't perfectly sensitive and graceful. It kind of sucks condemning the sort of explictness ordinary clods need to get by.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:00 AM
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I think of "annull" as a canon law concept, and the unconsumated marriage as being "voidable," but I may be mixed up. Do you know the person she married?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:02 AM
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I could be dead wrong -- the only time I ever really knew this stuff was the three weeks between the BarBri lecture and the bar exam.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:19 AM
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Maybe non-lawyers will be exasperated that there might be a difference, and that people would talk about it, when the concept is so clearly the same at bottom.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:22 AM
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I didn't think that marriage by proxy was recognized in most places in the U.S.

I usually think of 'annul' as as canon law concept (and you can manage that even if you've had children with your spouse), but I think there's an equivalent concept in civil law that basically says the marriage never occurred.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:29 AM
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370. Do I know the person she married? Yes. They had been engaged for two years, but a fact of military life is Family Interrupted.


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:31 AM
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"Annul" is both a legal (common law) and canon law concept. Civil marriages which can be anulled may be either void or voidable. E.g. iwhere there is lack of consent it is void, where it is not consummated it is voidable.

I think there is Irish case law to the effect that pre-marriage consummation doesn't count - we had an extensive nullity jurisprudence here before divorce came in.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:37 AM
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353--
so defensive. i have no doubts about your expertise.
if my comment about 'weep' suggested any such, then i put it badly.
and i certainly don't wish to question your assessment of his value as a poet.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:39 AM
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375: That sounds right for NY state as well, albeit possibly archaic -- things may have been simplified in recent decades and I'm remembering the history rather than the current law.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:43 AM
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Do you even like the illustrations, you heartless bitch?

Meh. They're okay.

369: Well, sure, but there are broadly understood social norms, like most married people are not free to screw around following a flirtation. I assume that I have to actually make that explicit if the flirtation starts looking intentional. And I'm all for explicit communication, but if you're talking about (as I assume we usually are here) the kind of flirting that goes on in Unfogged comment threads, I mean, it just seems rude to imply that anyone's Really Serious about that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:00 PM
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376: Ranty /= defensive.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:05 PM
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fair enough.
hope ranty is funner.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:09 PM
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And I'm all for explicit communication, but if you're talking about (as I assume we usually are here) the kind of flirting that goes on in Unfogged comment threads, I mean, it just seems rude to imply that anyone's Really Serious about that.

Here you're completely right; I would have thought so too, although there's been enough "aren't you marrieds" and "really olds," not always directed at me and not always obviously kidding. And some people's style of kidding suggests that these issues, particularly age, are important to them, even in comments.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:12 PM
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378: Eh, in a reasonably short history, with a reasonably small number of participants, I can think of more than one Unfogged flirtation that's gone somewhere IRL. I think cautiousness isn't irrational, just cautious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:15 PM
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I think that flirting while saying "but of course you're too old/too far away/too married/too whatever" is bad, period. Nothing says "classy" like "I feel the need to point out that I'm not REALLY serious, because if I don't you're liable to fall in love and/or jump me."

You know, or sometime that explicitness isn't intended as "I'm not really serious" but rather as "I'm sure if you knew these details, YOU wouldn't be serious, so I'm being up front and giving you a chance to run, run like the wind." Or even as just a wistful, "if only..." I mean, everyone loves a good tale of unrequited love, right? The star-crossed lovers whom fate has cruelly, cruelly kept apart....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:30 PM
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383--
which is so much more romantic than the star-favored lovers who get together, talk for a while, and think "why exactly did i think i had anything in common with this jerk?"


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:32 PM
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384: Excellent point, and a very solid argument for unrequitedness.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:34 PM
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353: "and that punctuation matters"

You're doing God's work, B.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:42 PM
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w-lfs-n is god?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:44 PM
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I thought that was Eric Clapton.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:45 PM
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In China a rooster stood in for the groom in proxy marriages. They were not voidable. AFAIK, marriages were not automatically voided even when one partner died before they ever met.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:49 PM
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B should help Yglesias out.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:49 PM
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389 - Gives a new slant to the term "cuckolded."


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:52 PM
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