Re: How long?

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The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. The answer is blowin' in the wind.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:17 PM
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Many people have complained that this season of The Office is a disappointment; I'm going to blame those fucking Bee Movie advertisements that occupy half the commercial breaks.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:20 PM
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Sunday bloody sunday.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:20 PM
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Seinfeld and Seinfeld should be judged independently. An inability to appreciate the latter is one of the Five True Tests of Antisemitism.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:20 PM
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4: my conversion to radical Islam is complete!


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:21 PM
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5: That's one of the other tests.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:21 PM
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I am probably somewhat unusual in never having seen an episode of Seinfeld. When it was in its prime, I lived overseas, and Seinfeld was not the sort of fare that translated well for international markets (even something as distinctively American as King of the Hill could be dubbed for local tastes; Seinfeld, apparently not).

Once the show was in syndication, it had become a point of perverse pride for me never to have seen an episode, so I have deliberately avoided ever watching it. The same is true of a couple of other hit shows from the era, including Friends and Everyone Loves Raymond

Unfortunately, Seinfeld references are so ubiquitous in popular culture that I am vaguely acquainted with several of the plot lines and tropes, in much the same way that I have a concept of the character Falstaff without ever having read Henry IV or The Merry Wives of Windsor


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:25 PM
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4: What about avoiding the Upper West Side Fairway on weekend afternoons?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:26 PM
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Great, now we have a dedicated Seinfeld thread in addition to all the other threads, which are also about Seinfeld.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:32 PM
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Daseinfeld is the being for whom every little thing is an issue.


Posted by: Toadmonster | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:33 PM
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I was teh first guy in my trig class to say that Seinfeld sucked.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:33 PM
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Seinfeld was not the sort of fare that translated well for international markets

I always wondered about this. It always seemed to me that Seinfeld was the American sitcom that would be the hardest to translate to any other country (even other Anglophone ones). Not just that it was extremely culturally specific, but so much of the humor was based on wordplay and verbal nuance.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:33 PM
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It's funny, but the Seinfeld people do not seem especially terrible to me. They seem like ordinary, average, generic, semi-liberal, semi-hip young people. They seem like everybody. I wouldn't want to know many of them very well, and they wouldn't want to know me very well, but I don't want to know most people very well, and they don't want to know me.

Perhaps they're the grumpy old man's idea of Kids Today, but I don't think that that's where they're audience comes from. Their audience likes them, I think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:36 PM
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Daseinfeld is the field of being in which the Lichtung is opened and into and from which Being sways, withdrawing and making itself present sort of like the different colors of a marble rye.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:40 PM
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If I had a better command of mid-to-late Heideggerese 14 would have been much better. Try to imagine it that way.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:42 PM
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Meh. Add me to the Seinfeld haters.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:45 PM
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I wish I could find a copy of the book that contains the footnote in which Kaufmann makes it clear that Heidegger had no sense of humor whatsoever, so that Heidegger and Seinfeld could be at last united. As it is, only a God can save this thread now.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:46 PM
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One thing that I didn't notice when I watched the show in my youth, but which leapt out at me unavoidably the last time I was (unfortunately) exposed to it is that Seinfeld the human being is a terrible actor, by far the worst on the show. It is conceivable that, even if his "creative" input had been retained in full, had his part been played by someone who didn't objectively suck, the show would have been decent.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:47 PM
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Seinfeld was pretty popular over here in the UK for quite a while, albeit in a fairly niche-y 'late night on BBC2' way - it attracted the same people who've been going nuts over Curb your Enthusiasm more recently, come to think of it. I don't really get that either. (But I was addicted to The Larry Sanders Show. Right up there with the best sitcoms ever in my book.)


Posted by: sharon | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:49 PM
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Daseinfeld is only Being in its most petty everydayness.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:49 PM
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Seinfeld the human being is a terrible actor

Yep. He played himself (or played his persona, maybe) on a recent episode of 30 Rock, and it was embarrassingly bad.

Seinfeld the show could sometimes make me laugh, but I never liked it at all, and never liked any of the characters.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:52 PM
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Daseinfeld is the Being that nothings about nothingness (über das Nichts nichtet).


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:53 PM
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I thought George was very funny. Kramer only occassionally. The rest of the characters mostly annoyed me.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:55 PM
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18: So true. When I was in high school I used to watch reruns of the show all the time, and I liked them, but when I watch the same episodes these days I have a lot less tolerance for them.

19: Sounds like the rough equivalent of the crowd over here that watches British comedies on PBS (and, now, BBC America).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:55 PM
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In college, one of my few attempts at cartooning featured Jerry Seinfeld greeting an unseen presence as it comes through the door. The caption: "Hello, noumenon."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:56 PM
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Does anyone else find it odd to read "Martin Heidegger", that is, to see his name in full? Surely the big H is someone to whom (suck it, Idp!) one can refer using only his surname in the confidence that it will suffice?

Cf. "If I knew more about Saul Kripke I would make a joke about rigidity.".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:57 PM
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I am ashamed to admit that I found 25 funny.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:57 PM
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19: Also, welcome. I haven't been reading your blog much lately, but I'm a big fan.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:58 PM
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Seinfeld is an actor?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 3:59 PM
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"Actor" is not an honorific, eb.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:00 PM
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Seinfeld was quite popular in Sweden. My mom, who I wouldn't say has cutting edge tastes, loved it. I never liked it, though.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:00 PM
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28: Now give her a fruit basket, teo!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:00 PM
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the grumpy old man's idea of Kids Today

Aside from the fact that the characters were in their late 30s.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:01 PM
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I do think that we're dealing with the narcissism of small differences here. My guess is that 95% of the world would think of us here as Seinfeldian. The absolute absence of substance in Seinfeld is somewhat a function of it's pure entertainment comedy function, though there are people like that in the world, alas.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:04 PM
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I am not ashamed to say I found 25 funny.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:04 PM
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Apo, young fella, late 30s is kids.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:05 PM
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we're dealing with the narcissism of small differences here

Tonight, we can be as one.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:05 PM
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I had an odd moment during one of the later seasons of Seinfeld where I had a total gestalt shift. I had been a huge fan of the show for a long time, and would giggle at each joke for days.

Then suddenly, it all seemed really awful. Why are these people yelling at each other? Why should I want to watch them? God, humanity sucks.

It took about a month to shift back.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:06 PM
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26: It's important to disambiguate Nathaniel Hawthorne's prescient fictional Dr. Heidegger.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:06 PM
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I really like the new direction unfogged is taking. May I humbly suggest some future threads?

- Jessica Alba is unattractive
- Puppies are not cute
- Dick Cheney is quite likable
- Pizza tastes bad


Posted by: bonecrusher | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:07 PM
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- bonecrusher has good taste


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:07 PM
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In the same way, many do nat realize that Georg and Chuck are two entirely different Hegels.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:08 PM
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32: Am I still the one who does that? I think I lost track.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:08 PM
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24: yep, that sounds plausible. The equivalent of the (obviously highly gifted) Americans who've seen every episode of Spaced and *got* it.

32: I prefer amusingly shaped vegetables.


Posted by: sharon | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:09 PM
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26: There's a Herr Heidegger in a Sherlock Holmes story.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:09 PM
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38: Boy, that sounds familiar. Not about Seinfeld, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:09 PM
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41 is funny.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:10 PM
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Oh gosh, I love Spaced. I am highly gifted!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:10 PM
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38: Boy, that sounds familiar. Not about Seinfeld, though.

Oh man. Teo slides the blade between the ribs of Unfogged.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:12 PM
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I prefer amusingly shaped vegetables.

You're in luck; we've just found the most astounding turnip...


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:12 PM
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Funny how, as soon as one of the unfoggers proclaims Seinfeld to be unfunny, all of the others rush to give their two cents' worth. Even someone who seems to like the show (i.e., 18) feels compelled to express this as a hypothetical contingency in order to comply.

The thread is quickly becoming one of those "I think that thing which everybody likes actually sucks; therefore I rule" kind of thing.


Posted by: glasweegie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:12 PM
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I'll note that despite what I said in 24, I do still like Seinfeld.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:15 PM
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Don't I get authenticity credit for being personally insulted by Seinfeld, rather than merely thinking it's unfunny? I figure that as a position, that's batty enough that I'm cleared of holding it just to look cooler-than-thou.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:15 PM
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You're in luck; we've just found the most astounding turnip...

I was just watching some Blackadder last night. Still love it after all these years.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:15 PM
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I figure that as a position, that's batty enough that I'm cleared of holding it just to look cooler-than-thou.

You are correct in that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:15 PM
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Funny how, as soon as one of the unfoggers proclaims Seinfeld to be unfunny, all of the others rush to give their two cents' worth.

That's kind of how comment threads work.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:15 PM
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I was just watching some Blackadder last night. Still love it after all these years.

Yeah, there's a show that really holds up.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:16 PM
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Don't I get authenticity credit for being personally insulted by Seinfeld, rather than merely thinking it's unfunny?

Maybe you get credit if you explain your reasoning.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:17 PM
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Funny how, as soon as one of the unfoggers proclaims Seinfeld to be unfunny, all of the others rush to give their two cents' worth.

That's kind of how comment threads work.

But it's funny, isn't it? Like Seinfeld!


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:18 PM
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The worst Seinfeld episode was the one where Kramer catches that dove on a rooftop.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:20 PM
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I prefer amusingly shaped vegetables.

For a year and a half, all we talked about was zucchini. Then for another year it was green peppers - that was a nice change.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:23 PM
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personally insulted by Seinfeld

I'm curious about that as well. Was his character sleeping with a thinly veiled caricature of you?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:24 PM
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"Seinfeld" is about Manhattanites and New Yorkers, who are portrayed as shallow, selfish, and materialistic.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:25 PM
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Jerry being a disastrously bad actor is both true and funny.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:25 PM
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I prefer amusingly shaped vegetables.

I still chuckle over Stanley's cucumberbund.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:25 PM
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jade cabbage


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:27 PM
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Oh, I explained this on the other thread: it felt like a mean, unpleasant caricature of New Yorkers, to the point that if 'New Yorker' was a racial category, I would have thought it was racist. I couldn't enjoy watching a set of characters that seemed clearly intended to portray me and all the people I knew, except loathsome.

I will accept that this reaction is somewhere between idiosyncratic and insane, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:27 PM
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Maybe there's an age effect here, in that what Seinfeld did well is now broadly available in various sitcoms. After all, it came out in 1989, when, IIRC, w-lfs-n was naught but a fifth of gin in his mother's cupboard waiting for a rainy day.

I will accept that this reaction is somewhere between idiosyncratic and insane, though.

I don't think the continuum needs to extend all the way from idiosyncratic. They were lovable because they were loathsome in everyday, recognizable ways.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:31 PM
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To me it just caricatures young people today. They could be in California or Seattle, but NYC gives pizazz. They probably couldn't be in Omaha or Atlanta. [enumeration of 100 cities redacted]. Probably not Fargo either.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:32 PM
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Seriously, what is loathsome about them? Aren't they ordinary Americans?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:33 PM
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70: Culturally Jewish. See #4.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:34 PM
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I don't see Seinfeld as insisting a whole lot on its New Yorkness--at least not WRT the manners that were the main subject of the humor.

Northern Exposure, I thought, gave more cause for offense there.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:36 PM
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They're completely self-centered and indifferent to the considerable suffering they inflict on others. But in a hilarious way.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:36 PM
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Also, culturally Jewish. It was kind of absurd how the writers kept trying to insist that George and Elaine weren't Jewish, even after reluctantly admitting that Jerry was.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:38 PM
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Kramer was a total goy, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:39 PM
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Like or dislike the show, can we all at least agree that it is long past time to cease dropping Seinfeld quotes into daily conversations?

There's a guy at my office who gets excited about an idea and exclaims "That's gold, Jerry! Gold!" at least a few times a week, and every time I want to bash his nose with a stapler.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:40 PM
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Perhaps because the humor depended on their low characters.

I was in my late thirties then; I suppose they're more-or-less my age.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:40 PM
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Seinfeld was the straight man on Seinfeld . He provided the neutral, vaguely amused background for the hysterical funnies erupting around him. One can't isolate the straight man from the mix and expect him to be funny.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:41 PM
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77 -> 74


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:41 PM
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Kramer was a total goy, though.

With that height? Of course.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:45 PM
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One of the themes of Seinfeld was delayed adolesence, so late 30s people were as irresponsible as early 20s. But that's a real cultural phenomenon, especially in big cities.

Somebody name a better 20th century American comedy of manners than Seinfeld.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:46 PM
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There's a guy at my office who gets excited about an idea and exclaims "That's gold, Jerry! Gold!" at least a few times a week, and every time I want to bash his nose with a stapler.

It's kind of funny again to say that a full decade after the show went off the air.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:47 PM
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81: News Radio, though I'm not sure "comedy of manners" quite fits.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:50 PM
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I miss Phil Hartman.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:56 PM
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The straight man isn't supposed to be incredibly fucking annoying, though. I don't have any particular beef against Seinfeld the show (although I've become distinctly uninterested in it since I moved to the city seven years ago), but Seinfeld the character and actor made me violent.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:56 PM
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Also: I know several people who've gotten food poisoning at Tom's Diner.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:57 PM
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The straight man isn't supposed to be incredibly fucking annoying, though.

This is a problem with having a comedian play him.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:58 PM
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Recorded comedy has a quick half-life. Try to watch a Cheers rerun sometime.

You can't blame Seinfeld for not being funny ten years later when every other sitcom has spent the last 10 years mining the same material.


Posted by: joeo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:58 PM
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I miss Phil Hartman.

Me too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 4:59 PM
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Cheers.

And yes, I know that that debate is particularly old and particularly tired. But I still think so.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:02 PM
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"Yadda yadda yadda" and "double-dipping" can stay in the lexicon, however.

My sister provided "frenna frenna frenna" as a thinking man's "yadda yadda yadda". I use it sometimes, but its meaning is not obvious to others.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:02 PM
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Phil Hartman would have done a good Mitt Romney impersonation.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:02 PM
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90 to 81.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:03 PM
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Damn right on NewsRadio. Probably the most underrated show of the 90s.


Posted by: xyzzy | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:04 PM
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Recorded comedy has a quick half-life
John Laroquette. But Dick van Dyke. Everybody Loves Raymond. But Bob Newhart. No, Seinfeld is just contemptible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:06 PM
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My guess is that 95% of the world would think of us here as Seinfeldian.

Truer words have never been spoken. (By Emerson.)

I'll be an out-and-out partisan: without Seinfeld's commitment to excessive self-reference you wouldn't have Arrested Development. Moreover, the idea that every element introduced in the show would a proverbial Chekovian gun and that they would all go off simultaneously in a 21 gun-salute of pain was groundbreaking. (Larry David does this to even better effect in Curb Your Enthusiasm.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:09 PM
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96: Actually, probably 99.9%. Almost everyone but us.

Scott, you should hang out here more. Otherwise you're at risk of finishing your stupid dissertation.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:19 PM
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all the larry davidish stuff was great.

all the ping-ponging repeating a phrase and thinking it was 'funny' was really bad.

Seinfeld was good in the sense that most people liked it but it was also good. It wasn't the best thing ever, although i don't remember what else was on in the late 80s.

I don't think people properly understand what 'comedy of manners' means. seinfeld was one, but a lot of what passes now doesn't count. it has to have scandal and status, and what htat involves now isn't sex, but what generally is called 'politcal correctness.' Being a racist is the bad thing to be now, not a slut.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:24 PM
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Re: Seinfeld insulting New Yorkers and New York, in one episode Kramer is referred to as a "hipster doofus."

Both hipsters and New York must have changed alot since the 90s. It seems so far off it fails to insult, now.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:31 PM
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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned that Seinfeld says Scientologists taught him how to do standup.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:32 PM
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If I weren't here, John, I'd just be re-re-re-rewatching the funniest video ever produced by God or Man. Either way, that dissertation ain't getting written.

yoyo, I think you're right about the comedy of manners: unlike most shows, in which the poor, the wealthy, and the Jews intermingle, Seinfeld forced people to think about class distinction in a fairly sophisticated (if exaggerated) way. Short of celebrations of the working class (Roseanne, &c.), class functions as a distinction without difference on television. Only not on Seinfeld.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:33 PM
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99: <elderly person>Not all that long ago, 'hipster' was an archaicism like 'beatnik' or 'hepcat', and meaning pretty much the same thing; a jazz-listening-bongo-drum-playing-Greenwich-Village-living type in the 50's or early 60's. Using it to refer to a young person on the cutting edge of cool, or whatever it refers to these days, is a post-Seinfeld usage.</elderly person>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:34 PM
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Haters! I liked Seinfeld. Bee Movie notwithstanding, I like Seinfeld.

When a Seinfeld re-run comes on, I'll watch it. It's hit-or-miss, like any other sitcom, but generally reliably funny.

You can't blame Seinfeld for not being funny ten years later when every other sitcom has spent the last 10 years mining the same material.

This is truth.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:38 PM
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Some things age well, some don't. Soup Nazi and 'master of my domain' will stay with us.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:40 PM
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102: I think it's always referred to young people on the cutting edge of cool, it's just that those young people have changed. Hearing that term applied to Kramer highlights the change, and makes me terribly nostalgic for the New York I never even knew.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:40 PM
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It wasn't the best thing ever

Yes it was too the best thing ever.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:44 PM
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Just turned on the TV before coming here and there was a rerun of the 1st half of the last episode. Now that sucked.
You want sad? Here's sad- a counselor I had at camp when I was 16 looked like Seinfeld, and he was a comedian. So he was working on a TV show about a guy who looks like Seinfeld trying to make it as a comedian. I first met him when I was ~12, and he was a comedian then but Seinfeld wasn't big yet. He was a nice guy, sucks that his career ended up being ruined like that.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:44 PM
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105: Are you working from memory of the 80s and early 90s? Because I am, and I really don't think the word was used for present-day-young-cool-people then (or, maybe, was just barely beginning to be used as such). I'm pretty sure it had a long fallow period between the 60s and the 90s.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:45 PM
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108: My sense too.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:48 PM
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101. I love Bollywood. My family does not understand why I watch Namaste America on the uhf channel. They will learn, as God is my witness.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:50 PM
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27: I made ben ashamed. Score!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:52 PM
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I watched just about every episode of Seinfeld as a middle-high-schooler and liked almost all of them (hated the particularly awkward, Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque ones like the one in which Babu's restaurant fails), without ever thinking the characters were supposed to be caricatures of New Yorkers rather than caricatures of certain types of personalities.

In the last 3 seasons both George and Elaine were really too mean. But earlier, I don't think they're unrealistically unlikeable characters, especially compared to the character Larry David later played in his own show.

Also, Kramer is just fascinating. He seems like this animal-like figure, but every now and then he chooses a moral principle and unexpectedly stands firm in favor of it.

Frankly I don't know how people can even compare it to other sitcoms, let alone say it's a subpar sitcom. It's unique.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 5:53 PM
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I never felt like I got Seinfeld. It must be, I thought, that I am just not cool enough. If only I lived in NYC!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:05 PM
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108: You're probably right. What I meant to emphasize is that hearing the same term applied to two very different cultures is jarring - it makes me realize just how much New York has changed. (It's not as if there are no linkages between the two cultures, after all: modern hipsters have appropriated the same neighborhoods and literary figures old hipsters used to claim.)


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:07 PM
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Season 3 of Seinfeld was the best single season of a sitcom, ever. Later episodes never live up to it, to the point where some of the last ones were unwatchable.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:23 PM
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I doubt 102.

""you're so transparent, I can guess without question, you need some thing or other, to cover your expression. I'll buy you some sunspecs, from the local, hipster's store; you need me more or less... I need you more and more" - 1982.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:27 PM
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116: Who the hell knows how the Scots were using the word hipster in the early 80s? I'm talking about Americans.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:34 PM
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I knew a Heidegger joke once. It had something to do with Hannah Arendt having daseins on him.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:36 PM
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115: Don't you mean season 4? Season 4 was the peak of the nested Chinese boxes storytelling. It had the handicapped parking space, the whole Susan arc, "not that there's anything wrong with that," the show within a show, "master of my domain"...I could go on. I'm on board saying the show declined after that, but Season 3 is a weird choice for the height of the show.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:48 PM
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When did they have the guy that killed millions of people with soup? That was funny.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:50 PM
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A google search reveals that "Arendt-controlled" has been used in a joke referring to rent control. Once.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 6:54 PM
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Who the hell knows how the Scots were using the word hipster in the early 80s? I'm talking about Americans.

I think we did, too. What did we call the ska guys (who I think self-consciously modeled themselves on the jazz hipsters)?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:06 PM
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122: Rude Boys, no?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:07 PM
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122: I don't think ska types were 'hipsters' -- I wasn't one, but my cooler friends were, and I don't think there was really a name for the social group. Kinda arty punky types, but not a one word 'goth' or 'hipster' or whatever.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:10 PM
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123: That's right! I'd forgotten that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:14 PM
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122: Mods? Maybe that was just the scooter subgroup of the ska types.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:15 PM
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123, 125: Oh, true. I guess I was thinking of punky types who listened to ska as well, but not exclusively.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:16 PM
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And . . . topical full circle. I had a boy, when I was a college freshman, say to me in all seriousness, "I'm not a punk; I'm a rude boy." We made out a little. I think he's a lawyer now.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:20 PM
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I am neither a punk nor a rude boy . . . laydeez.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:22 PM
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THERE WAS A BOY / I WAS IN COLLEGE / I CALLED HIM PUNK / HE SAID RUDE BOY
YEAH WE MADE OUT / NOW HE'S A LAWYER / HE USED TO TALK / SO SERIOUSLY

Sung to the tune of either "Burn & Rob" by Paleface or "Freedom of Choice" by Devo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:26 PM
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Is it too late in the thread to tip a 40 for Phil Hartman?

Too bad. "Nothing makes yo' feet stank like Rocketfuel Malt Liquor... DAMN! It's crezappy!"


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:26 PM
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It's never too late to tip a 40 for Phil Hartman.

Waazzuuuuup.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:27 PM
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Shit, I'll tip an 80, man. For two Phil Hartmans. Then maybe she'd've missed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:28 PM
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130: Ha! Songs for the Superannuated.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:29 PM
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I agree with LB that "hipster" only came to mean emo kid slash denizen of Williamsburg in the last 10 years or so. I disagree with destroyer that 50's hipsters lived in Williamsburg and Red Hook.

I deeply, deeply disagree with everyone who thinks that Seinfeld-the-TV-show isn't funny. I think it has only mildly dated and the only reason it's not so funny anymore is I've seen every single episode innumerable times in syndication.


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:30 PM
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I will buck the counter-trend and express my unreserved and undying love for Seinfeld.

The show, that is. I went to see Jerry in concert and he was blech. I can't see myself seeing the bee movie.

But the supporting cast! Putty! Peterman! Mr. Costanza! And Elaine's much-despised but long-forgotten roommate Tina! And NEWMAN!!!

Recognize, yo.

PS -- I lived in NYC during much of the show's run and never knew a New Yorker to be offended by it. But obviously mileage varies.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:32 PM
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And HELL YEAH on Phil Hartman. Good times.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:33 PM
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Recognize, yo.

You just said that with respect to Seinfeld? Hip hop thinks about rolling over in its grave, can't summon the energy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:35 PM
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I lived in NYC during much of the show's run and never knew a New Yorker to be offended by it.

Offended? They loved it. Remember Giuliani on it in frozen yogurt episode?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:35 PM
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Hip hop thinks about rolling over in its grave, can't summon the energy.

Whitey always wins.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:37 PM
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Another quality Seinfeld endeavor was the movie Comedian, which follows Jerry as he builds up a new act in clubs a few years after the show went off the air. It also features a fairly douchey younger comedian (Orny Adams) who illustrates the hardships of the profession. The best part is the commentary track with Jerry and Colin Quinn mercilessly mocking Adams...


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:37 PM
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138:

Hater in the house!


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:38 PM
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"hipster" only came to mean emo kid

Not quite right.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:39 PM
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142: dear sir, this is a hizzo.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:40 PM
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Michael Richards is a brilliant physical comedian.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:56 PM
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145: an a proud member of the white race!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:57 PM
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On which see 140.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:58 PM
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(Sifu briefly considers how much he should press his luck, given how mean he was to Sir Kraab last night, then shrugs and imagines himself in the lead role of the GG Allin biopic Hated, albeit wearing frilly panties and allied obscurely with Newman)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 7:58 PM
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Feel free to rag on Richards as much as you want. He's a racist asshole, as I myself said in the thead right after The Incident. (Which I'm not linking to because I'm on my phone and it's a pain.) He's just also really good at falling down, an underappreciated talent these days.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:10 PM
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I don't think Richards' own racism should function as an indictment of the show on which he played a character whose words were written by other people ...

... but I've been wrong before.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:12 PM
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Citing late Seinfeld as evidence that Seinfeld sucks is just as stupid as citing post season-11 Simpsons as evidence that Simpsons sucks. JS is perhaps the second best straight man of his generation(after Dave Foley), and is ideally suited to Larry David style comedy. Seinfeld's a love/hate type of thing; I hated it while it was on, but I've taken to watching reruns and am quite fond of it now.

News Radio was underrated of course, but it tanked disastrously after Hartman died.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:16 PM
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There's a Newsradio where Phil Hartman, I believe, takes on the falling down Matthew role before the opening credits.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:17 PM
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150: I agree completely. I wasn't saying that and I didn't think Sifu was either.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:19 PM
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I like the New Model Unfogged, where all posts are trolling, and its the comments that bother to make actual intelligible arguments. We may have just stumbled here on the formula for Web 3.0.

A sitcom contains its own context, one that you pick up in weekly doses, and one that fades when you haven't watched the show in a long time. For example, the first episode of News Radio I ever saw was the one about the gelato in the refrigerator, and it seemed like every sitcom episode ever. I saw it again later when I'd seen 60 other episodes, and it seemed very funny.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:20 PM
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It's puzzling to me that News Radio couldn't survive without Hartman. He wasn't in any obvious way the main character, but somehow without him episodes never quite added up to the sum of their parts. I think of specific episodes from that season (the ones about Johnny Johnson in particular), and they seem like funny ideas, but they're not quite funny episodes.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:24 PM
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148: Even so, 'stabby stabby' made me laugh.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:27 PM
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Well, phew, then. Dead baby!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:28 PM
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Disturbing outbreak of 1980s rapperisms in this thread. The management needs to reconsider banning policies.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:30 PM
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153: I didn't think you were. (Sifu, however, is a rank hypocritical bastard, who was surely ... alright, alright, didn't think he was either.) It's just something that I've seen thrown against the show recently, as if you can identify Richard's latent racism in the words someone else wrote for him.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:30 PM
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154 speaks truth. I thought "Spin City" was the best sitcom since "Seinfeld" for a while, but that was just because I found myself watching it much more often than any other sitcom. The context made things funny.

"Okay...there's the setup...I wonder what the gay black guy is going to say to get the laugh track roaring? --- WHOA, he outdid himself this time!"


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:32 PM
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Richards did apologize and seemed genuinely troubled and sincere about it.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:32 PM
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161: Let be be finale of seem/The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

Thesis: The cultural politics of public enactments of sincerity work against the sincerity that may, or may not, underlie said theatricals.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 8:44 PM
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I assume all the Newsradio lovers are familiar with Newsradio and the Art of Comedy by Adrian Foo? He has a quite interesting take on the post-Phil dynamic. IIRC, he claims that Dave, Lisa, and Bill are the Three Pillars of the show and without Bill, the comic energy was out of balance...


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:18 PM
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119: You are right.... I was conflating Season 3 and 4. Season 3 was when it started to get really good. Season 4 was the height.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 9:50 PM
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SEK obviously isn't reading the right blogs, else he wouldn't be a a month behind.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11- 5-07 10:51 PM
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re: 12

The word play and verbal nuance came over perfectly well to a British audience. I'd be surprised if there was anything made in America that we couldn't follow. The volume of US TV and film that makes it into the British media means that we are pretty immersed in large swathes of US culture. The cultural interchange is asymmetric.

The problem I have with them is that the foible(s) that are exploited for humour in Seinfeld -- a certain kind of prissy judgmentalness that fixates on details, say, along with that relentless patrolling of in-group boundaries -- is/are just utterly alien. I don't know anyone who is even the slightest bit like that.*

It's not like comedy that features, say, people who are grumpy, snobbish, curmudgeonly, lazy, self-obsessed, arrogant, self-doubting, or stupid. All traits that I recognize, sometimes share, and can find humour in.

* well, I do. But they are Americans, visiting from overseas.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:58 AM
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A sitcom contains its own context, one that you pick up in weekly doses, and one that fades when you haven't watched the show in a long time.

No.

A good sitcom is one you can watch without knowing anything about it and laugh. It shouldn't be "oh I recognise that punchline so I better laugh now".

Seinfeld is awful because the characters in it are all whiners or loons and unfunny. It's only because almost all American comedy is even more awful than Seinfeld that y'all think it was any good.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:27 AM
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hmmm, as a long time exponent of mindless contrarianism, I've always thought that the joy of the genre is in the twisted rationalisations and logical leaps you use to support your damn fool argument. Just saying "admit it, it sucks!" about something that's obviously really good just seems a bit pointless to me. Mind you, I never got it with all this "rap 'music'" stuff either. Do you know what I call it? "Crap music"! Now that's funny.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:55 AM
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Am I the only person here who has no strong feelings about Seinfeld one way or the other?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:54 AM
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No.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:55 AM
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The cultural interchange is asymmetric.

It's a pity, too, because the folk arts of the native peoples of Britain are really quite nice.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:57 AM
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166 to 12.

I find it hard to believe that The Simpsons makes any sense when dubbed.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:12 AM
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Oh, 166 referred to 12. Meh.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:12 AM
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a certain kind of prissy judgmentalness that fixates on details, say, along with that relentless patrolling of in-group boundaries -- is/are just utterly alien. I don't know anyone who is even the slightest bit like that.

And you've been commenting at this blog for how long?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:13 AM
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* well, I do. But they are Americans, visiting from overseas.

What are we, chopped liver?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:14 AM
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Right, that bit where JE was saying that the people who have seen the blog and don't like it would consider us, "the kool kids," to be Seinfeldian? Get that all the time.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:23 AM
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I was thinking of flesh and blood people. Not the little voices in my computer.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:24 AM
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That said, I have now met three Unfoggeders. So I might eventually have to revise this 'they are only wee voices in the computer' world view.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:26 AM
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"Voices" is interesting; I've met about a dozen of the people here, and doing so effects my reading of the rhythm of their writing, I do use a version of their voices as I remember them to render it, in my mind.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:29 AM
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re: 179

One of the three people I've met had a voice that surprised me. I wouldn't have read his comments in that voice, at all.

But yeah, I sort of do that with people I know in real life and see regularly who also comment on the same internet sites as me.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:31 AM
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I think of several people here with faces that I know are wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 6:42 AM
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Of the blogpeople I've met IRL, I can't think of anyone who really surprised me, in terms of appearance, mannerisms, etc.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:07 AM
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The father of a friend of mine in high school was a fantasy and mystery writer, and I'd actually read one of his books before I met her (which made me his favorite teenager ever; he was just ridiculously pleased). Reading another of his books after I'd met him, I could hear him narrating the whole thing, which was very peculiar.

That doesn't happen nearly as much for online people I've met, though -- I'm not hearing AWB, or Becks, or whoever when I read comments.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 7:55 AM
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I may have mentioned this before, but when I first met the publisher of the weekly I used to write for, he said 'You're J&mdash M&mdash? Huh! You write like you're six feet tall!'

Uh, thanks, asshole. NB: I am well under six feet tall.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:04 AM
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Buck is a computer journalist, and does a lot of writing for a UK publication. A couple of times he's met long-term readers (with whom he had email correspondences and so on) at conferences who recognized him from the website photo, and were entirely freaked out when he spoke and turned out not to be English.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:07 AM
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I don't know what it is, and he's certainly ethnically close enough, but he does look kind of English in the pictures. And the name is a hyphenated of two "English" (close enough) names.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:10 AM
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Oh, ethnically, sure -- he's NE-US-mutt, but going back to the boat after the Mayflower for some of the family. So Englisher than anything else. It's apparently very funny, though; he's run into a couple of people certain enough of his nationality that he got an exaggerated doubletake out of them the first time he said anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:14 AM
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Is he a fop?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:16 AM
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Sadly, no. I like fops. He is bald, bearded, and vaguely professorial in an ectomorphic kind of way in the winters. In the summers, the effect is more beachcomber/moderately homeless guy, with the straw hats and tattered shorts.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:17 AM
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And you don't think this even sounds English?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:20 AM
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And the name is a hyphenated of two "English" (close enough) names.

I've actually wondered about this... LB's name is hyphenated but in a very large number of the (relatively few) times I've seen Buck's name in print, it's lacked the hyphen. Is that deliberate or just an oddly-widespread mistake?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:22 AM
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Oh, I'm not saying it's an unreasonable mistake if you look at his picture on a UK publication's website. But he's not intentionally posing as English or anything, and the degree to which people seem disturbed by getting his nationality wrong is funny. (Personally, I think part of it is the vague US assumption that anyone with any variety of British accent is smarter than we are. There's a certain shock when people "I've been relying unquestioningly on market analysis from a guy from New Jersey?")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:24 AM
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I find it hard to believe that The Simpsons makes any sense when dubbed.

It does and it doesn't. One of the distinctive virtues of The Simpsons is that it can be understood on several levels: a grade schooler can laugh at Bart's pranks, and adults can laugh at the subversive takedowns of respected institutions. The former translates without a problem, the latter often does not. That explains why foreigners often don't "get" why America was agog over The Simpsons: if all you grasp is Bart's pranks, it's not that funny.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:25 AM
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Now I'm imagining that his name is something like Buckminster-Fuller Fotheringham-Rowbotham.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:25 AM
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191: No, it's an esthetic decision that went weird. When we decided to combine our names we initially decided that it looked better without a hyphen -- Fotherington Smythe rather than Fotherington-Smythe, but still filling in the whole thing in the Last Name box in the form, and filing it under F rather than S. I tried that for a couple of months at work, and couldn't handle it bureaucratically -- everything got filed under S, I couldn't get my nameplate for my door because we weren't allowed middle names, and so on. So I started hyphenating, and he does too on most things. Writing, though, he started with the non-hyphenation, and didn't change it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:30 AM
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193: this is also why a lot of relatively uneducated US adults don't get it. (My father, for example.) He misses the subtlety and only sees Bart's pranks, and so, believing that this is what the show is "about", thinks it's just a show that "liberals" like because it promotes disrespect for parents and other authority.

(Some other relatievly uneducated US adults see mostly nothing but Bart's pranks--oh, and Homer's stupidity I suppose--and think it's pretty funny. Which is sad in its own way. But my dad and a lot of other conservatives find it off-putting.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:31 AM
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195: I see, that makes sense. Except: you wanted to have two, unhyphenated last names? Even leaving aside the inappropriate stretching of the definition of "last", surely that was just asking for trouble.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:35 AM
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195: That's so annoying! A Canadian friend of mine with a two-word Korean first name has had problems with her visa and with American tax forms because her name has been spelled with a hyphen some places and without it in others. She's had to go to great lengths to explain to the U.S. government that the hyphenated and the unhyphenated name belong to the same person.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:36 AM
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How does your dad account for the show's having been a big money-maker, and signature product, of Fox?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:37 AM
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Even leaving aside the inappropriate stretching of the definition of "last"

Two last names is common in some other countries, no?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:38 AM
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197: In retrospect, yup. That's why we gave up and started using the hyphen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:38 AM
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199: He understands it's popular, he just takes that to be a sign of our national depravity.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:39 AM
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It's the Fox aspect I'm interested in; is that not a trusted brand for his ilk?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:40 AM
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200: but not in Christian nations, right? I can't comment on the practice of the cannibals.

I would think such cultures would exclusively say "family" name (or something roughly equivalent to that). That's a recognized term here, but the fact that we so frequently say "last" name synonomously with it tells me this is a losing battle.

If one were given a two-word last name and chose to keep it as a matter of pride, I think it could be done (with much headache). But voluntarily to adopt one seems like a great battle that few would be willing to fight.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:45 AM
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Even hyphenated is more difficult than I'd realized. People have a strong tendency to treat it as if the latter component were the real last name, and the first component was optional, and could be dropped at will. Which gets everything misfiled.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:46 AM
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Uhh, Spain?

You're right about 'last' vs. 'family' name, though. Hard technically to have two last names.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:47 AM
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204 sounds right. I've never met anyone with a two-word last name that wasn't hyphenated.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:47 AM
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surely that was just asking for trouble

Just going by your middle name causes plenty of bureaucratic problems, I can attest.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:47 AM
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In the blogosphere, there are the Nielsen Haydens -- I hadn't heard of them when we decided to do the unhyphenated thing, but they've successfully done exactly what we tried to do. Two last names, treated as a unit and alphabetized under the first of the two.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:48 AM
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In Spanish-speaking countries everybody has two last names, paternal and maternal. Official forms always ask for them both.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:48 AM
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I would guess that 207 is the case because many foreigners use hyphenated versions of their names in the U.S., in order to avoid exactly the problems mentioned here.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:49 AM
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Spanish surnames can grow to great length if both father and mother are of illustrious heritage.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:50 AM
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203: not a trusted brand at all. Fox news, sure, but Fox network television? He views them--and, especially in the early days, viewed them--basically as smut peddlers. The early shows were all known for pushing the boundries of network tv: Married with Children, In Living Color, and--he would include--The Simpsons. He viewed (and, to a lesser extent, views) FOX as more or less akin to MTV: a celebration of cultural depravity.

That they have a fair and balanced cable news station doesn't really influence his judgment on the rest of their offerings.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:51 AM
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213: I've always wondered why that wasn't more of a marketing problem for FOX.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:52 AM
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But voluntarily to adopt one seems like a great battle that few would be willing to fight.

When Kennedy cousin William Kennedy Smith was on trial for rape, the TV news commentators consistently referred to him as "Kennedy Smith", as if that were his surname, when in fact he is plain old William K. Smith. Pretending his name included "Kennedy" made for better television, I suppose.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:52 AM
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215. Pretending his name included "Kennedy" made for better television, I suppose.

I think you misspelled "propaganda".


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:54 AM
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Yes, I forgot about Spain and her Spanish-speaking colonies. Papist nations, so Christian only by technicality. And I think most of their emigrants to the US do wise up and hyphenate.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:55 AM
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204: Not unless Spain and Latin America have left Christendom.

This seems the right time to invoke Adam Kotsko's brilliant system for last names. I'd sign on for this in a heartbeat, but it requires broad social acceptance to work.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:57 AM
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I've always wondered why that wasn't more of a marketing problem for FOX.

This is actually generally true of media empires owned by right-wing moguls. You can't run a proper media empire without a lot of lowest common denominator publications, and ideally you'll have a fair amount of smut. So the Murdochs, the Springers, and all the rest tend to have their hands pretty dirty w/r/t cultural rot.

In a way, it's a great business model: you pour gasoline on the flames of the culture wars with your lowbrow programming, then condemn the degeneracy in your political programming. It's a self-licking ice cream cone.

Also, IME experience there is a non-negligible amount of overlap between consumers of smut and cultural conservatives.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:58 AM
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My honey has a two-word last name. The first bit is short, so I always explain it to people as being analogous to "von" or "de", even though he tells me that's pretty much wrong.

His paperwork is a little all over the place: one word run together, two words, one word without the opening bit... He's in the process of standardising the spelling, but he can't do it fast enough to suit me. Guantamano, you know.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:59 AM
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OK, quadruple pwned. Note the useful links, however.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:59 AM
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Just going by your middle name causes plenty of bureaucratic problems, I can attest.

Aaaaaaaargh.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:00 AM
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209: I think they've been semi-successful; they've kept at it, but ISTR seeing some stuff on Making Light/their website talking about the same alphabetization problems you guys have had.


Posted by: the Other Paul | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:00 AM
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220: Jackm?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:01 AM
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Am I correctly understanding that under Kotsko's system a husband and wife would have different last names? That seems less than ideal.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:02 AM
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We have a kind of etiquette problem, not severe or troublesome, of how to agree, without seeming not to have noticed a prior comment. So 217 is not really disregarding 211, I'd guess, even though making the same point. The now disused W-pwnage was an attempt at addressing that. Many of us italicize quotes, or reference the numbers, just to make it clear.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:02 AM
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220 was me, obviously.

A friend from HS with a long hyphenated name came up with perhaps the worst solution I've ever heard. Her last name was something like Leventhal-Stein, and she married a guy named something like Rosenbaum, and they both legally changed their last names to "L.S. Rosenbaum."


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:04 AM
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225: Well, they'd be made up of the same components, just reversed in order. I'd be Fotherington-Smythe and Buck would be Smythe-Fotherington, if I've got it right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:06 AM
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Just going by your middle name causes plenty of bureaucratic problems, I can attest.

I can believe it. My permanent resident card has only my first name and surname, but not my middle name. This I find bizarre. It also irks me a bit, because I always go by first and middle name.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:06 AM
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226: Far from disregarding, 217 was responding to and 206 and agreeing with 207/211. I didn't know it was an etiquette problem. I could have included comment numbers, but thought the reference was clear.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:08 AM
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228: that's how I read it too. Which seems less than ideal.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:09 AM
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Spanish surnames can grow to great length if both father and mother are of illustrious heritage.

And then there's Brian Eno's full name: Brian Peter St John Le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. What's his excuse?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:09 AM
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Ancestral ambient noise.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:11 AM
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231: Yeah, I'd like the system slightly better with names uniform within a nuclear family, and ordered for euphony. Ours works much better, pronounceability-wise, in the order it's in than the other way around.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:11 AM
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I swear by husband and wife keeping their names, naming the children one or the other, usually the dad's, for lots of reasons having to do with presumptions—if they don't have his name, at least in part, whose kids are they?

It's caused trouble only to the outer reaches of our families, the ones living on other planets. But we've established that we live in a different subculture than what many Americans need to contend with, and our deep-blue experiences may not be transferable.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:13 AM
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They got rid of Christian Names, why not Last NAmes?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:14 AM
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I stll use the term "Christian name", yoyo. Stop oppressing me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:14 AM
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Am I correctly understanding that under Kotsko's system a husband and wife would have different last names? That seems less than ideal.

Standard in China. And most/all Asian countries??


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:15 AM
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Didn't feel slighted by lack of explicit reference to my comments.


a husband and wife would have different last names? That seems less than ideal

This seems like no problems at all to me. Should I one day get married, that's how it will be.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:15 AM
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Obviously the solution is that we should all start identifying exclusively by our SSN.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:16 AM
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I do not like the kids-take-the-dad's-name solution. As for the "whose kids are they?" argument, it could just as easily go the other way. It's not like everyone in the world was around when the mom squeezed out the kid, so you could say "is she really the mom?" too.

If and when I have kids, they will either be have a hyphenated "my name"-"dude's name", or just my name.

I figure there are already thousands of families that thought "we have to pick one" and picked the man's, so I'ma do a little balancing out.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:16 AM
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Am I correctly understanding that under Kotsko's system a husband and wife would have different last names?

No, everyone would have a two name pair as their last name. You would have to consider the pair as the last name. Husbands and wives would have the names in a different order, because the matrilinear name would be first for women and patrilinear first for men.

I love how it preserves matrilinear names for married women and patrilinear names for married men.

I don't really see why it's less than ideal, as long as everyone understands that the identifying last name is a pair.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:16 AM
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230: I guessed you were ok, but it's not always clear, and I was reminded by my slight doubt of the issue. There are times when everybody feels nobody has read their comments. Unavoidable, get-over-yourselves, yadda yadda. I'm still going to try to make it as clear as possible that I've read upthread.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:18 AM
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239: well sure, lots of people do it that way now, but that's partly from convenience and sticking with what you've got. It seems odd to me to have both parties change their names and yet still end up with different names.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:18 AM
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I swear by husband and wife keeping their names, naming the children one or the other, usually the dad's, for lots of reasons having to do with presumptions--if they don't have his name, at least in part, whose kids are they?

We did a version of the Kotsko system, so everyone's got the same names. I'm cranky and hostile and picky, but straightforward traditionalism (everyone, wife and kids, takes the man's name) bothers me less than halfhearted egalitarianism (the wife can keep her own name, but she can't pass it on -- the husband names the kids.) The halfway measures make me feel as though nothing will ever change significantly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:19 AM
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All this fussing about names is overwrought. In Egypt, your "last" (really, "second", in truth your name goes on for as long as you can remember relatives) name is your dad's first name, for ever and ever. Women don't change their names when they get married, kids don't have the same last names as either of their parents or grandparents or cousins. But everyone knows who is related to who.

Hypothesis: American hand-wringing about names, hyphenating, kid-naming and marriage-name-changing is all sublimated anxiety about the decline of the family, particularly extended families, as an important, and culture-defining social unit. Discuss.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:20 AM
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I'm not saying Kotsko's system wouldn't be workable. Just that it seems less than ideal.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:20 AM
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241: thats awfully selfish.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:21 AM
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When I lived in Asia nobody seemed to know anybody else's name. It was always something like "little sister," or "Grandfather," or "woman old enough to be my mother, if my mother had had me when she was 16," depending on who was addressing whom.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:21 AM
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I have a two part first name, which means I'm constantly correcting people, and I didn't change my last name, but about half of the people I associate with assume that I did, or that I hyphenated, which means at the end of the day, I'm answering to a lot of names. I'd like to take shivbunny's name as a middle name, but that would probably explode the Social Security Administration.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:21 AM
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I have the same feeling as 245. Then it's like everyone in the family has the same name except for the mother, the one who birthed the damn things.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:21 AM
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It seems odd to me to have both parties change their names and yet still end up with different names.

But it's perfect, you see; each party is changing his or her relation not just to the other but to the outside world and—and is this not the deepest change of all?—to him or herself. But each does not simply become the other; instead, each reflects the other back to him or her, different, but the same.

The Kotsko naming system is the truth of marriage.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:21 AM
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nah, we just have lots of anxiety. we certainly have enough not to need to borrow it from other areas.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:21 AM
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245 crossed with leblanc's 241, which I agree with.

To 256, I think there's also a fair amount of straight anti-feminist backlash in the stress around naming issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:22 AM
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As for the "whose kids are they?" argument, it could just as easily go the other way. It's not like everyone in the world was around when the mom squeezed out the kid, so you could say "is she really the mom?" too.

No, it does not just as easily go the other way. The mother who gives birth to a child always knows it's hers, and is never in any doubt as to maternity. Whereas the presumption of paternity always involves an element of faith. Which faith is generally well placed, but...no way are the two positions equivalent.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:22 AM
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Or, as Thomas Hobbes put, "the birth follows the belly."


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:23 AM
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Hypothesis: American hand-wringing about names, hyphenating, kid-naming and marriage-name-changing is all sublimated anxiety about the decline of the family, particularly extended families, as an important, and culture-defining social unit. Discuss.

God knows I'm glad that my sister kept her name after getting married, since it means I won't have to have kids to keep the name alive.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:23 AM
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hm, i wonder what 256 is going to say


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:23 AM
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everyone in the family has the same name except for the mother, the one who birthed the damn things

Guess she should have taken her husband's name. Oh, that 20/20 hindsight.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:23 AM
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If endless calls to the wrong person, mis-identifications on programs and class-lists, fights with librarians, etc., don't bother you, than I see no problem.

Convenience and not confounding expectations were actually explicit priorities of ours, but I know yours are different. Couples sometimes find "they" have different priorities than either would have had as an individual, or in their own hypotheticals.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:24 AM
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Should I one day get married, that's how it will be.

Because who would want to give up a beautiful name like "Blume", right?

One of my former colleagues was named K/rummfuss ("crooked foot"), and took his wife's name upon marriage. Our boss (the same one I left stranded in the snow) reacted as if this were incomprehensible, saying he would never take his wife's name, "es sei denn, ich hiesse Faustfick"


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:24 AM
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Most of my grad school cohort have not changed their names, and they report it's a bit of a pain once there are children when the names don't match and someone has to, e.g., pick up a sick child from school.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:25 AM
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255, 256: But there's not an obvious connection between the mother's certain knowledge of maternity and the father's uncertain knowledge of paternity, and patrilineal naming. Naming is an assurance to the outside world, not to the father, of family relationships, and the outside world, not witnessing the birth, has as little basis for assuming maternity as paternity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:26 AM
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But what if his wife were named Faustfick, and he had a totally boring name?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:26 AM
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255, I'm saying that to the outside world, it could go the other way. Of course, to the individual parents it's very clear that the woman in question is the mother. As to the question of whether the man is the father, well presumably his certainty or uncertainty doesn't depend on what the kid is named. Either he's sure, because he knows he was the only one around and trusts his wife, or he isn't.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:26 AM
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The staff at Chuck E Cheese wouldn't let me leave the restaurant with my cousin's kids last night.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:27 AM
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sublimated anxiety about the decline of the family, particularly extended families
Yes. Mao's first wife had no given name. On the other hand, a generous supply of village crones and gaffers who constantly remind you of the shiftless uncle would be almost as bad as living in Seinfeld's building.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:27 AM
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260 to which?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:27 AM
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I'm with IDP on the kids' name/presumption thing. More controversially, I'd say this is especially true for unmarried women. There is a presumption that a married woman's children are biologically her husband's, a presumption that I'm not sure requires his last name to enforce. But I wonder whether (and am inclined to think) unmarried women should* give their children the father's last name, to identify their paternity. To my knowledge, almost NO ONE does this.

*Should is too strong here. I think I mean something closer to "should consider".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:27 AM
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I have no purpose on this blog, LB always says what I mean to say, better, and more quickly. Damn you, LB!


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:27 AM
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KR, Springer is smut, but he's not a right-winger. At least he's vaguely embarrassed by the smut stuff. When people talk to him about politics and policy, he's always quite polite. In fact he's seems to be the opposite of Ann Coulter in this respect (as well as in the obvious political sense.) She's very polite and considerate when she's doing book deals and dealing with private issues, but an ogre when talking about political stuff.

The analogy isn't perfectly apt, because Jerry Springer is probably perfectly polite off-camera; but, he limits his depravity to purely domestic topics.

ttaM, Would you say that Frasier played better in the UK than Seinfeld?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:28 AM
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255: Assuring dad of his paternity wasn't Leblanc's point, though, and I don't see that giving the kids dad's name does anything as far as his personal assurance. The point of assigning the last name is to signal the child's parentage to people other than the parents. When walking down the street with a 2 year old, the woman's maternity is no more immediately evident than the man's.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:29 AM
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This K/rummfuss guy should have considered that he might well be related to a former tyrant of Thebes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:29 AM
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269: I like Kotsko-esque hyphenation even in that circumstance. Unmarried Jane Smith and Richard Roe would be the parents of little Doreen Roe-Smith.

And if 260 was to me, Kotsko-esque (with standardized order) hyphenation leaves everyone in the nuclear family with the same last name. No confusion at the school level.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:30 AM
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KR, Springer is smut, but he's not a right-winger

Axel Springer, BG. He was most assuredly right wing.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:30 AM
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Solution to paternity problems: all people should only have children with people of a different race. The peculiar set of features that arise make it very easy to be sure that the kid is yours.

There! Solved!


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:31 AM
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I just reminded myself that one of the teachers at my old school was named H/appy F/ick. That was a source of great amusement for the German exchange students.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:32 AM
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270: Providing a warm and comforting assurance that I haven't gone off the rails? (It is funny when we get three people in a row (welcome to the group mind, Di) making precisely the same point simultaneously.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:32 AM
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263: I think there's a pretty standard assumption that a woman with kids is the mother of those kids, and if the father has a different last name than the kids, he's a stepfather. It's not really about who sired and who birthed the child, but in a world where mothers still tend to get primary custody and most women change their names, the assumption that if the father doesn't share the kids' names he's not their 'real dad' is one a lot of people will make.

A professor couple I know alternated the last names they gave their kids, and she gets a lot of 'but why did you keep your ex-husband's last name?'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:33 AM
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It was more to m. You've made your choices, for your own reasons.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:33 AM
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I don't think my proposed solution would cause that many problems. If hypenating.

I'm Julie Smith, dude is Brad Jones
Kids are Cutie Smith-Jones.

I think the school can figure it out.

If just taking my name, then the only problem will good old Brad being addressed by Cutie's teachers as Mr. Smith, which I think he can go ahead and just deal with.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:33 AM
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Or, if everyone would just use SSNs like I suggest, we could just mandate standardized paternity testing on newborn infants, and then brand the father's SSN on the child's neck. That way he won't have any difficulty picking the kid up from the school nurse.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:34 AM
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The place I don't like the Kotsko naming scheme is in his examples of same sex couples. The other stuff seems fine.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:34 AM
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Gawd, why do I write comments with no/horrible punctuating?


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:34 AM
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278: Eh, I think I'm resolving to not comment anymore unless I see either you or m.leblanc say something I disagree with. Otherwise, I should just accept that one or both of you will have already said what I wanted to say long before I manage to say it.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:35 AM
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282 made me guffaw.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:36 AM
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You've made your choices, for your own reasons.

Of course I have. What's the point, though? Everyone makes choices for their own reasons, including women who decide to change their names because "we all have to have the same name." I think the less frequently we make choices based on other people's convenience and not having to have annoying conversations, the better a world we will live in.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:39 AM
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263: I think there's a pretty standard assumption that a woman with kids is the mother of those kids, and if the father has a different last name than the kids, he's a stepfather. It's not really about who sired and who birthed the child, but in a world where mothers still tend to get primary custody and most women change their names, the assumption that if the father doesn't share the kids' names he's not their 'real dad' is one a lot of people will make

This is the way we think, and agreed about. There was no process of compromise, no hashing it out, so I think that sensibility, perhaps arbitrary took us in that direction. Had she or I felt differently, we'd probably have made different choices. Ours were "soft," not hard choices in this regard.

But I know that the very point Cala made is what bothers LB. She. wants. change. I understand that.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:44 AM
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re: 271

It had a better TV slot, certainly. Seinfeld was on BBC2 and bounced around a lot in the schedules. It was often on late at night. It had a fair bit of loyalty from people who really liked it but it wasn't consistently on at the same time or on the same day in any given week.

Frasier, on the other hand, had a 10pm Friday night slot, iirc. It was more or less straight after Friends.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:44 AM
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As 280 was a reply to LB, which referred to leblanc in the 3rd person, you was LB "that time." My point was different to you, leblanc, and is what I addressed in 288. You'll have to agree with another person, sometime in the future.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:47 AM
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But I know that the very point Cala made is what bothers LB. She. wants. change. I understand that.

I'm always kind of bemused by my online persona. I'm really very meekly conventional, most ways.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:48 AM
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Hyphenating is just not an option for me, should I ever marry my honey. The combination would end up something like: "Smith-Abu Ahmadinejad." Complete with the space. I think I'd have to keep my name. God only knows about the poor potential progeny.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:48 AM
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292: Yeah, I feel that, given that I'm most likely to marry a White Dude. My weird-sounding name just does not hyphenate well with anything I can imagine, nor any of the people I've dated or considered dating.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:50 AM
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250 -- Should we be saying CaLa then?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:50 AM
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In high school I had a crush on a guy with the last name Blackwood. I thought if I married him I'd take that name. It's so dreamy and old hollywood sounding.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:52 AM
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What's with gmail displaying your email address in the browser thingy? I hate change.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:52 AM
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I think I should hyphenate. Ca-la.

I ended up not hyphenating on the grounds I was pretty much too lazy to bother. 'But what will immigration think?' Fuck immigration.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:54 AM
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296: Oh good, I'm not just going crazy. That's driving me nuts. It also broke the Stylish script I was using to hide the spam count, since it's distracting and I really don't need to know that I have 1245 junk emails waiting for me. Bah.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:55 AM
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276: plus, hybrid vigor! It's a one generation solution though, like hyphenated names.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 9:58 AM
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296,298: There is a new link to "older version" in the upper right-hand corner.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:01 AM
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I really don't see the problem with husband and wife having different names, fwiw.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:02 AM
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It's a one generation solution though, like hyphenated names.

That's the real problem, unless we adopt some Kostko-esquely elegant solution.

I suppose I'm down for M.LeBlanc's semi-solution in 276, if only because the odds look good for it anyway.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:13 AM
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I really don't see the problem with husband and wife having different names, fwiw.

Now that it is common for a child's parents to be divorced, it isn't that unusual for a child to have parents with two different last names.

When you have children in extracurricular activities, you begin to understand how often parents have different last names. Every team communicates by email and the email lists are a mile long.

The real fight becomes what last name the children should have.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:14 AM
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And now I've just read 299 properly. It's true, I suppose, but given the number of distinct ethnic groups out there, interbreeding could easily be stretched to a 3-4 generation solution in my mind.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:15 AM
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I have no purpose on this blog

Now we have to justify our continued presence here?

Yea, I have no purpose on this blog either.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:15 AM
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When I lived in Asia nobody seemed to know anybody else's name. It was always something like "little sister," or "Grandfather," or "woman old enough to be my mother, if my mother had had me when she was 16," depending on who was addressing whom.

Navajos do this too. A person's real name is a closely guarded secret, used mainly in ceremonies, and people address each other with relationship terms (based on an elaborate system of both actual and fictive kinship). The traditional way to refer to a specific person who is not present was to use nicknames, but these have been more or less entirely supplanted nowadays by legal names. Asking someone's name is considered a serious faux pas.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:16 AM
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I answer to my wife's last name all the time, if it's clear the addresser means me. I'm sure my sister's husband or other members of my extended family would feel dissed by such developments, but I find it a useful alternative identity. We almost always use it for takeout, because it's short and clear, which mine is not, and there must be lots of stores and service-providers who think it's my name.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:19 AM
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306 sounds like paradise. I hate remembering names, mostly because I usually don't.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:20 AM
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Yeah, it's pretty sweet. You basically never have to remember anyone's name.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:23 AM
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And if you're white (and therefore don't have a clan), you just address everyone by one of three or four generic kinship terms depending on age and gender.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:24 AM
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I have vague memories that Denmark (or maybe it was Iceland? somewhere cold like that) has a system where the child's last name is just a reference to who the mom is. So Rory would by Rory Disdottir. I think you could do it with father's name, too.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:25 AM
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311: Sounds like a plan, my imaginary friend.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:26 AM
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So we should be calling Jacoby Ellsbury "Quick Young Man" instead of disgracing him by publicizing his name?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:26 AM
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I actually don't know most of my family's names, outside of my immediate family. I know my paternal grandmother's, because I help her fill out her social security paperwork. But everyone else? Just "paternal grandfather," "mother's older brother's wife," "So-and-so's father."

You don't have to remember names, but you do have to remember everyone's relationship structure -- "X's father" could also be "Y's husband," "Z's brother's husband," and on. So lots of terms can be used interchangeably to refer to one person.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:30 AM
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Iceland does still work that way, iirc. Not Denmark, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:30 AM
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So we should be calling Jacoby Ellsbury "Quick Young Man" instead of disgracing him by publicizing his name?

"Jacoby Ellsbury" is not his real name.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:33 AM
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315: Yeah, Iceland. But it's the father's name, not the mother's.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 10:33 AM
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One of the drawbacks of patrilineal succession is that it inevitably leads to the extinction of surnames in a stable society over many generations. That's why China and Korea have relatively few, and why there are some Caribean islands where everyone has one of a handful of surnames.

The government of Quebec has figured out that English names will eventually extinguish French names in the province if patrilineal succession prevails, so it has changed the default rules for marriage so that a woman has to seek a court order to take her husband's name. Presumably the hope is that this will preserve the diversity of French names in the province.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:01 AM
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I think the less frequently we make choices based on other people's convenience

Hmmm, I think you're missing the point. Social convention eases interpretation, and I'm hungry for convention that reflects our social world better. Individual hyphenation doesn't offer a long term solution. I'm more with Kotsko, that we should develop a good convention and then brook no deviation. Which is why he spends so much time on annoying exceptions rather than making the case for the basic approach.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:49 AM
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The real fight becomes what last name the children should have.

I think I told this story in the last thread on this topic, but I knew a couple that flipped coins for each kids last name. The father lost every toss, and he was so desperate for a kid with his name he traded his wife permanent control of their finances for naming rights.

They were a much better couple than it sounds like from this story.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 11:52 AM
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All my children have my last name, because I believe in maintaining the proper lines of authority.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:03 PM
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320 is kinda heartbreaking. Once a kid is named for you, the next should automatically get the other name. (If you aren't deciding on names for other reasons.) You'd only need to flip for odd numbered kids.

Perhaps, though, both wanted to make the last-name/contol-of-finances swap.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:10 PM
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Yeah, I could see control of finances being the sort of thing that clearly should go to one member of the couple, but it being difficult to actually state that openly. Having an excuse can help.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:13 PM
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321: Until they change it at 18, just to spite you.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:13 PM
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I like Kotsko's idea.
My last name is very usual, my partner has one of those ethnically endangered last names. So I felt good about giving that name to our son, even though it's not a feminist solution.
This woman ended up with one of my favourite last names ever, but don't try this at home.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:30 PM
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link!


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:32 PM
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325/326: yes, the linked name is nice but no, that wouldn't work for most people. My preferred approach (which *would* have worked for my wife and I, and I insist would work for most people, or at least I've never seen a real life example that wouldn't work) is to take all the letters in the two partners last names, combine them and then re-arrange them freely into the sinlge most aesthetically pleasing name you can (or at least the best name on which the two spouses can agree). Equality *and* creativity! *And* everyone in the nuclear family gets the same name! *And* with any luck you'll *both* have new names that are better than either of your previous names!

It's okay, don't hold back--I won't be embarrassed if you call me a genius.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:41 PM
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My name is one of those endangered surnames. It is an idiosyncratic spelling of a vaguely ethnic last name. Ironically, my family is ginormous: my paternal grandmother had over 100 lineal descendants when she died. And yet, because of probabalistic flukes in the gender, fertility, and sexuality of grandchildren, there will be almost no descendents in the fourth generation with my surname: the boys carrying the name have all had girls, with only one exception, and he is adopted into the family.

I was the last boy of my generation (that is, the last of almost 40 first cousins) to have children, and there was palpable disappointment among my older relatives that they were girls. More than once a tipsy aunt has told Mrs. Ruprecht that she needs to produce a male heir so that the name doesn't die out.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:46 PM
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So I felt good about giving that name to our son, even though it's not a feminist solution

I doubt anybody was being that strident about it, that doing so would be considered not feminist


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:47 PM
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Equality *and* creativity! *And* everyone in the nuclear family gets the same name! *And* with any luck you'll *both* have new names that are better than either of your previous names!

Dave Plotz (Slate) and Hannah Rosin (Washington Post) have done this: their children carry the name "Rosinplotz". Whether that is an improvement over either of the antecedents is open to debate.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:48 PM
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330: they didn't do any rearranging. They didn't technically need to ("Rosinplotz" is fine, I guess), but I think they could have done better.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:50 PM
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327: For that matter I like the `pick one you both like' approach, if you feel a need to change anyones name.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:50 PM
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Oh, once you bring stridency into it, sure I will. Not that it's always a bad thing to do, or makes you a bad person, or not a feminist. But in our society, a decision to name the children of a family for the father only rather than the mother is not an actively feminist decision.

Strident enough for you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:51 PM
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333 to 329


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:53 PM
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Sure, that'll do.

Which poses the question:

Which decisions need to be, and will be judged to be, informed by your views about feminism, so that having made them in fact you've made a declaration, and which don't?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:55 PM
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LB, you're stirring up controversy where none exists. There's a big gap between "not an actively feminist decision" and "an antifeminist decision". I think everyone here puts naming-children-after-the-father squarely in that gap. Right?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:55 PM
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Oh I'm "not feminist" thing was a big consideration for me when choosing the name. I never would have believed that one day I'd give my kid his father's name only. It felt, and still feels like the right thing to have done in this particular case, but I'd say no, it wasn't helping feminism one bit.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:58 PM
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336: Right. As in, see the post that IDP was quoting. Penny said "it's not a feminist solution", which, there are other factors including the rareness of the father's name, you make all sorts of decisions for all sorts of reasons, and so on, but she's pretty much correct in her characterization of her own actions -- it's not an actively feminist solution.

IDP's rush to assure her that no one would be so 'strident' as to say what she had, in fact, just said about her own actions, a topic on which she is presumably well informed, rubbed me the wrong way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:59 PM
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"I'm" s/b "the"


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 12:59 PM
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Crossed with 337, and making the same points. Hi!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:00 PM
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336: It's not squarely in the gap. It may be, in particular situations, in the gap. And it isn't inherently antifeminist. That's about all you can say.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:02 PM
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336: I think the idea is that naming children after the father is historically rooted in a system that relegated women to second class status, treating them as property of their fathers first and thereafter their husbands. In this context, while a family might decide today to give children their father's name for reasons other than a patriarchal desire to suppress women, the decision nevertheless has a tendency to reinforce the patriarchal structure creating an antifeminist effect despite neutral intentions.

(disclosure: my kid has her father's name)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:05 PM
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the decision nevertheless has a tendency to reinforce the patriarchal structure creating an antifeminist effect despite neutral intentions.

I say, as long as the woman promises to unquestioningly obey my husbandly authority as God intended, I'm not going to get hung up on trivial details like what to name the kids.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:09 PM
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Well, okay. I thought LB was trying to be a dastardly lawyer and imply that a certain natural looseness of phrasing represented some real controversy when everyone was actually in substantive agreement. It sounds like maybe everyone's not really in agreement.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:12 PM
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342: right, so an unexamined decision to go along with this pattern just reinforces it. How important that is in the scheme of things is debateable. That doesnt' mean that an examined decision might not result in a decision to go with that naming scheme, anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:12 PM
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(I for one don't think it's in any way antifeminist for a couple to decide purely for convenience's sake to name their children after their father. It's certainly not actively advancing the feminist agenda, but it's also a decision that could still be made in a fucking feminist utopia.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:14 PM
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344 Brock, yeah sounds like. I haven't thought about this enough to have an opinion, but my 345 etc. were meant as `I can see where this argument comes from'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:16 PM
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right, so an unexamined decision to go along with this pattern just reinforces it. How important that is in the scheme of things is debateable. That doesn't mean that an examined decision might not result in a decision to go with that naming scheme, anyway.

Yeah, exactly. You may very well wind up deciding that there are plenty of things that take priority over bringing down the patrilineal naming system, and I don't think anyone here is going to be critical of that.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:22 PM
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340: Hi! Sorry I have to take off for a bit.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:22 PM
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take all the letters in the two partners last names, combine them and then re-arrange them freely into the sinlge most aesthetically pleasing name you can

OK, this is a good starting point. But now we need to bring the community in. I think everyone at the wedding should get to vote on the alternatives and assign one to the couple.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:24 PM
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348: Right. Saying something is not a feminist decision just means that that particular decision is not a feminist one, not that it's necessarily important, or that the feminist re-education units have to come after you for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:25 PM
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It's certainly not actively advancing the feminist agenda, but it's also a decision that could still be made in a fucking feminist utopia.

True, but the implications of the decision are certainly different in a fucking feminist utopia, where there would presumably be no lingering relics of male domination and the decision would be as meaningless as choosing between red and blue for the bridesmaid dresses.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:27 PM
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Yeah, I thought for a while that I didn't care if my kids had someone else's last name and not mine. But it turns out that I have visceral feelings otherwise.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 1:35 PM
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346: I've been partly pwned by 352, but I would like to add that in Fucking Feminist Utopia, societal annoyances would make the father's name the choice of convenience maybe 50% of the time, instead of 99%.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:03 PM
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I wouldn't think much of a man who, learning his wife felt like 353, wasn't willing to hyphenate. Convenience be damned.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:17 PM
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Seinfeld backlash


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:25 PM
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Solution to paternity problems: all people should only have children with people of a different race. The peculiar set of features that arise make it very easy to be sure that the kid is yours.

So very, very wrong. It can be hard enough to see resemblances among siblings, let alone between child and parent.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 5:26 PM
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So sad I missed this conversation, as my wife and I have been agonizing for years over what last name to give our as-yet hypothetical children.

We've half-seriously considered the mash-up of our last names that we used for our wedding website, Sparvey. Sounds so cheerful, doesn't it?


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:12 PM
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You guys sure do post fast... But anyway...

Combining 10 and 22:

Dasein is the entity which ... is an issue for itself;
Daseinfeld is the entity for which nothing is an issue. (182) [143]

Re: 209

And then there's Ralph Vaughan Williams...


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:45 PM
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Sorry, 359's me


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 11- 6-07 8:52 PM
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