Re: The evolution of The Onion

1

I liked "Gore then delivered the first of seven consecutive State of the Union addresses."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 8:42 PM
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Zow, you aren't kidding. That recent piece is terrible. The final line!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 8:42 PM
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The final line was bad. I blame the internet. It's the exact kind of pretending to be acting in real life we do around here. [blushes, smiles, looks around]. And you can imagine how a stand-up comic could nail it. But the whole point of the Onion is to parody newspapers, where that kind of a moment could never happen.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 8:49 PM
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I've long thought that the Onion's problem is that they come up with a moderately funny headline, then ruin it with a very unfunny article.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 8:50 PM
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The Onion's problem, for years now, has been that their best talent gets scooped up by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 8:59 PM
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5: My understanding is they get a fair amount of their material from free-lancing. I had a friend in college who was looking into the process. I think you had to send in samples, and if they liked your samples, you were deemed a person from whom they would considering submissions.

I *think* Pitchfork works similarly or did for a time, but I'm not sure.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:09 PM
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Then they should do the only decent thing left to them, and fold.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:09 PM
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I declare this post an EPIC FAIL!!1!, since Onion stories vary from whimsical to non-whimsical without any discernable evolutionary trend. Here is an Onion story from just this past October:

Supremes Court Upholds Stopping In The Name Of Love In 2-1 Decision
October 31, 2008 | Issue 44•44

WASHINGTON--After months of deliberation, the Supremes Court, the soulful judicial body that oversees federal matters of the heart, issued a historic decision in the case of Holland v. Baby, Baby, opting to uphold the practice of stopping in the name of love by a 2-1 vote.

"The court has given careful consideration to arguments from both sides, and tried so hard, hard to be patient," Justice Cindy Birdsong said in her well-choreographed majority decision. "It is our opinion that stopping in the name of love is not only the compulsory duty of the philandering party, but it would be irresponsible for him to do otherwise, pursuant to the aforementioned instances in which we have been both good and sweet to you, as well as the imminent risk of breaking the court's heart."

Added Justice Birdsong, "Think it o-o-ver."


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:10 PM
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I *think* Pitchfork works similarly or did for a time, but I'm not sure.

Not exactly a model of quality writing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:11 PM
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6: This may now be true. But the original Onionistas were, by and large, UW Madison folks of my vintage. And most of those Badgers subsequently went on to work for Stewart and then Colbert, a pattern that, as I understand it, continues to this day.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:12 PM
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Whimsy was a last-minute, unvetted addition.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:12 PM
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Also, Teofilo is absolutely right in #4. Even their "whimsical" articles these days aren't actually very good. This one remains my all-time favorite "whimsical" Onion story, from 1999.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:14 PM
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What went downhill first, the Onion or this blog?


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 9:59 PM
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The last line of the whimsical Onion story is awful too.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 10:03 PM
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The Onion.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 10:04 PM
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You know what else used to be whimsical and funny, but now is just tiresome?

That's right, my homework.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 10:22 PM
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What about the series of stories about W undergoing massive physical trauma, which aren't even trying to be funny? (Like "Crocodile Bites Off Bush's Arm" and "Bush Passes Three Pound Kidney Stone".) What's up with those?


Posted by: Chris Conway | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 10:28 PM
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Wow, the one line I really liked, and it's noted in the first comment. Good work, Wrongshore.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 10:37 PM
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FWIW, I enjoy the Onion's sports writing a fair amount, but sports journalism is ripe for parody, plus you can get a lot of juice just from playing with well-known player/team traits. There's a hundred instantly recognizable sports figures, maybe a couple dozen politicians.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 10:41 PM
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17: We've come a long way since "Bush Finds Error in Fermilab Calculations....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 10:44 PM
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21

In other news, perving on Hermione goes mainstream.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-10-08 11:58 PM
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22

Those are hardly what I'd call sensible shoes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:08 AM
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21 makes a good case.

I find that at the age of 25...I am suddenly noticing women's asses. This was not what I noticed ever before.

Also, there is a trojan thing on my computer that keeps taunting me. Hard to do Xmas shopping when I don't want to type my credit card number or even any of my passwords on my home computer.


Posted by: Cryptec nid | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:10 AM
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ARE YOU *SURE IT'S IN?


Posted by: OPINIONATED TROJAN THING | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:13 AM
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there is a trojan thing on my computer that keeps taunting me

ACHAEANS ARE LAME!


Posted by: ANOTHER OPINIONATED TROJAN THING | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:27 AM
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Cassandra, would you shut the fuck up for two seconds? Damn.


Posted by: THE ORIGINAL OPINIONATED TROJAN THING | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:05 AM
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27

COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS FROM THE EAST SUCK!!


Posted by: OPINIONATED VIRTUAL PETE CARROLL | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:13 AM
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Fortunately, in Britain we've taken the Onion's structure and installed a proper Rolls-Royce engine, like we did with the P-51 Mustang. Check it out. I'm confident we can maintain snark superiority at least until the arrival of snarkturbine technology.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 6:08 AM
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Onion stories vary from whimsical to non-whimsical without any discernable evolutionary trend.

Right. Also the Onion's always been hit-or-miss. I call sensationalism on this post.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 6:50 AM
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27 -- So we can put you down for the Griz in tomorrow night's game?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:08 AM
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Not surprising that The Onion has tailed off. In general it seems that comedy "projects" with any kind of edge do well to stay fresh for more than 5 years or so without major overhaul. Cf. Firesign Theater, Monty Python, National Lampoon, SNL Milli Vanilli and any number of individual comedians.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:09 AM
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So we can put you down for the Griz in tomorrow night's game?

ABSOLUTELY! THE GRIZS OVER THE BULLS EASILY. THAT OJ MAYO FROM USC IS REALLY COMING ON STRONG. AND HE HASN'T KILLED EVEN ONE PERSON YET!


Posted by: OPINIONATED VIRTUAL PETE CARROLL | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:20 AM
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Talking Cock, the Singaporean equivalent, pushes boundaries only by the standards of a censored society, and is rarely all that funny, but is worth it for the out-of-left-field Singlish and accompanying dictionary.

GOR CHIAM TUA KUAY GU CHIA LENG

Hokkien phrase which literally translates as "five cents bigger than a bullock cart's wheel". Used sarcastically to criticise someone for thinking that his money is worth a lot.

"Wah, you want to buy this for only $1 ah? You gor chiam tua kuay gu chia leng ah?"


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:25 AM
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34

I've never understood the French equivalent, Le Canard Enchaîné, much to my regret.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:28 AM
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||
Via Michael Bérubé, a little ditty, "All My Internet Friends", from one of his commenters, Amanda French. Some might relate to the lyrics.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:37 AM
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36

21- I don't think it's considered perving now that she's over 18.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:47 AM
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37

32 -- It wasn't that big a non sequitur. How is it that teams from James Madison University are the Dukes? Article I section 9: The man must be rolling over in his grave.

(I see, by the way, that the Titles of Nobility Amendment, introduced in the first Madison Administration, is still pending ratification).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:56 AM
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How is it that teams from James Madison University are the Dukes?

Heh. That should have been the mascot Duke University chose.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:58 AM
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How is it that teams from James Madison University are the Dukes?

A Duke can be quite cavalier. Which doesn't change the fact that those who attend the institution in question J(ust) M(issed) U(VA).

Surely, I can't be the first to share this tired joke with you.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:16 AM
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40

Madison - the poor man's Jefferson? Discuss.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:43 AM
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37: It wasn't that big a non sequitur.

No it wasn't. VIRTUAL PETE sent me an e-mail explaining that he was merely amused by the fact of there being another "Griz" game that evening and that those Grizs being led by a former USC athlete. VIRTUAL PETE is apparently easily amused. I bet that he still laughs at The Onion, for instance.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:51 AM
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CN, you're moving in the wrong direction.


Posted by: Defoe | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:53 AM
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43

40: Madison was the Jefferson of Orange County.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:53 AM
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Here in Japan, another Gaijin has started a shameless print-only Onion rip-off called the Negi (scallion). Sample story: "Japan Airlines to Replace Fleet of Aging Stewardesses."


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:06 AM
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Um... I guess it's not print-only if I just linked to it. Whatever.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:07 AM
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46

From an ad on the site:
GB you possibly qualify to be a "Harlequin hero in Japan":

You must be of age between twenty to forty years old.
You must be male.
You must be a foreign national or of mixed parentage.
You must be able to legally stay in Japan through December 2009.
You must have a Japanese residential status or a Japanese student/work visa.
You must have some command of English and Japanese (conversational level OK.)

Indicate which one of the following categories you are applying for:
Mr. Latin(Latin Lover)
Mr. Cool (Rugged Outback Hero)
Mr. Royal(European Royal)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:18 AM
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44: I'll just go ahead and take that as confirmation of all my stereotypes about Japanese sexism.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:22 AM
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I like the W-undergoes-massive-physical-trauma stories, though the joke works better in the print edition (where they've all been printed on the page 2, "these are all the ideas we didn't think were funny enough for a full article" section).


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:25 AM
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47: Could the same article not have been written in The Onion? Has it not?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:26 AM
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17: Oh look, there's another one on the front page

I can only infer that someone is getting a little personal satisfaction from writing such things.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:40 AM
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A) Everything was always already better than it is and was.

B)28 has it wrong. The pinnacle of British fake journalism remains the majestic Framley Examiner.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 9:46 AM
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52

The Onion videos are great, though.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:08 AM
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52: Yes, and one of the best things that's happened to the site. The robot roundtable, the "reason for the season" one on Halloween, the ones with Cosmo and the Make-a-Wish foundation - all beautifully brilliant. And the one on the Chinese Olympics - "are they a trap?" - encapsulated Western coverage of the games (and of Chinaphobia in general) better in three minutes than anything else I've seen.

As for the print edition, I remember complaining pretty loudly about how the Onion was getting dull back in 2000, but the Bush years really helped them, and satire, in general. These are just a few of my sentimental favorites; one, as you can see, is from just a couple months ago.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:35 AM
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Bush has allowed comedy to get lazy. There will be a winnowing of the flock soon, I suspect.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:36 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:42 AM
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I've long thought that the Onion's problem is that they come up with a moderately funny headline, then ruin it with a very unfunny article everyone knows better to read the article unless someone else has vetted it for them.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:43 AM
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better than


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:44 AM
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I remember complaining pretty loudly about how the Onion was getting dull back in 2000, but the Bush years really helped them

As best exemplified in my most favoritest Onion headline ever: "Jenna Bush's federally-protected wetlands now open for public drilling".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:45 AM
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The story linked in 12 is excellent.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:53 AM
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58: I think it's hard to beat "War on String may be unwinnable, says cat general"


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:57 AM
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I thought the Onion's 9/11 issue was very successful, though not their funniest. They held off publishing for a week, but if they had avoided 9/11 entirely Bush and the terrorists would have won.

"Our Long Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity is Over" made eight-years of newspaper reading more or less unnecessary, though it didn't explicitly mention the vastly increased authoritarianism.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 11:04 AM
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The Onion 9/11 issue was actually pretty weak, but I really don't blame them for that - any decent 9/11-based satire immediately following 9/11 would've gotten the satirists lynched.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 11:09 AM
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I anticipate that after Obama replaces a few inconvenient justices,

Turns out that there is a new wingnut case that will be brought to conference this Friday (the last one was dismissed without comment).

The new case, Cort Wrotnowski v. Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut secretary of state, also makes a dual citizenship argument. It had been rejected by Justice Ruth Ginsburg Nov. 26 but then was resubmitted to Justice Antonin Scalia. There was no word of its fate for about 10 days, then today the court's website confirmed it has been distributed for Friday's conference, a meeting at which the justices consider whether to take cases.

There may well be a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, but Scalia and Thomas forfeited any claim to being given the benefit of the doubt 8 years ago. Impeach the bastards.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 11:55 AM
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58: I think it's hard to beat "War on String may be unwinnable, says cat general"

I'm rather partial to Meth Addicts Demand Government Address Nation's Growing Spider Menace


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:46 PM
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I actually like the Onion even better these days, as it's become really feminist in a lot of its humor.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:48 PM
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Not least because it's a rare example of an Onion piece where the article itself is as funny as the headline.

For example:

"These spiders are unstoppable," meth addict and self-described spider-hater Christine Mitchell said. "We've tried everything from scrubbing ourselves raw with bleach, to burning them off with lit cigarettes, to scrubbing ourselves raw with bleach. We've even tried burning them off with lit cigarettes. We're out of options."


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:49 PM
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as it's become really feminist in a lot of its humor.

I think this is what ben is referring to when he writes "neither of those".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:50 PM
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68

Yes, so do I. But I probably don't draw the same conclusion you do.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 12:52 PM
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69

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/man_finally_put_in_charge_of


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:04 PM
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68: That ben is such a little bitch?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:09 PM
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71

I bet it's terrible if I think the article linked in 69 is funny.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:17 PM
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Yes, so do I.

It has? and you do? What?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:17 PM
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71: Not terrible, but the fact that you think so exposes one of the nasty truths and political weaknesses about good satire: that it should not be unusable by the people it mocks.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:20 PM
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The audio version of this one made me laugh more than anything else...back at age 16.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:22 PM
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73: Agreed. I wouldn't find it unusable, but I feared some people here would. I actually think it's rather brilliant.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:25 PM
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76

that it should not be unusable by the people it mocks.

The question is, whom does it mock.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:29 PM
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77

71: wait, it seemed clear to me that the macho chief executive attitude was being mocked and the idea that the feminist movement could use such a douche was obvious sarcasm.

Is this a feminist piece usable by misogynists or vice versa?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:29 PM
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76: While I'm tempted to just write, "Exactly," I'll venture to say that it mocks the well-meaning phallocrat who doesn't understand how there could be a feminist take on his use of "dynamic" and "agressive" as loaded terms or an objection to the existence of an old-boys network if he uses it for unobjectionable ends.

But yeah, it's pretty easy to suspect otherwise.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:32 PM
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I'll venture to say that it mocks the well-meaning phallocrat who doesn't understand how there could be a feminist take on his use of "dynamic" and "agressive" as loaded terms or an objection to the existence of an old-boys network if he uses it for unobjectionable ends.

And you think it should be usable by old-boy phallocrats?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:33 PM
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71: That article's funny and feminist. What's the problem?


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:33 PM
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75: to be clear, I agree with 77 but think it's hard not to read and think, "that's kind of making fun of feminist organizations in a way that would be comforting to douches."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:34 PM
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82

You know what's not funny at all? This thread.


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:35 PM
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83

77: The lines about -- here:

"If you want to enjoy equal rights, you have to have a real man-to-man chat with the people in charge until you can hammer out some more equitable custody laws."

This is reminiscent of some of the internal criticism among feminists about the extent to which some wish to become as men, so to speak, to master and thereby acquiesce to existing structures and just play the game as it is given. In order to hammer things out.

The piece cuts both ways, or in all ways.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:36 PM
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"that's kind of making fun of feminist organizations in a way that would be comforting to douches."

HEAVENS ABOVE


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:36 PM
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85

There's a Barthes line about how irony always reinforces its surface meaning. That's what I'm getting at.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:37 PM
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82: I have a good Mark Twain quote about analyzing humor I could throw in about now, if that would help. I find a good Mark Twain quote can be found for all occasions.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:38 PM
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There's a Barthes line about how irony always reinforces its surface meaning.

I like this formulation. I've been idly seeking after a way to articulate my dissatisfaction with irony when it's a default stance.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:45 PM
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There's a Barthes line about how irony always reinforces its surface meaning.

Real genius, that Barthes. Intellectual superstar.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:49 PM
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88 is sooooooo funny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:53 PM
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90

ben probably needs to get laid.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:54 PM
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91

Is 90 supposed to be irony or something, whose surface meaning is reinforced? Or a more straightforward explanation of the wonder that is ben?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 1:56 PM
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I don't even know anymore.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:01 PM
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91: I don't know, Ben, when was the last time you got laid?


Posted by: inaccessible island rail | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:03 PM
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Following back to the original AV Club list, I had no idea that the Krusty v Gabbo episode was from 1993! In fact many of the episodes they list are from before I entered high school, when giants still bestrode the earth. I see they're being listed in chronological order and the last good one before no more good ones appear is the Apu deportation one, from 1996.

And to think, Adam Kotsko didn't start watching until the year 2000!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:07 PM
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91: I don't know, Ben, when was the last time you got laid?

Nearly 18 months ago.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:11 PM
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I don't remember the Barthes, but to me irony keeps an awareness of a problem alive while acquiescing to it and not proposing resistance or a remedy. It's Janus-faced that way. That's the criticism of "Dilbert". Irony comes when you realize (or decide) that anger and indignation are futile. One version is consistent with unwilling coexistence and passive resistance, whereas other ironists decide that the only smart thing to do faced with inalterable evil is to play along and get on the gravy train. (EG the Enron scam artists joking about stealing money from poor old Grandma).

Ironists are probably a little slower to actively resist than moralists, but they survive longer too. Eastern European black humor (e.g. Havel) did contribute to resistance, I think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:16 PM
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Nearly 18 months ago.

Should we take up a collection?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:21 PM
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Ironists are probably a little slower to actively resist than moralists, but they survive longer too.

I'd contest this; or at least, it's contestable. It's not clear what survives in the ironist if s/he has effectively acquiesced.

ben: It's an unjust world. Goddammit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:22 PM
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Active resistance can often be fatal. Irony is a survival mechanism. XIXc Jews, for example, faced all kinds of formal and informal discrimination which they could do nothing about.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:25 PM
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It's not clear what survives in the ironist if s/he has effectively acquiesced.

I'm not sure that John was talking about some Deep True Self that survives, as opposed to, you know, the continued existence at all of the person.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:25 PM
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ben: It's an unjust world. Goddammit.

Actually, ben's failure to get laid much reaffirms my faith in the just nature of the universe.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:26 PM
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I've become an ironist to an unfortunate extent. Most of my contemporaries became ironists decades ago. I held out pretty well.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:28 PM
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103

That's why I do it, M/lls. Rescuing just one soul from cynicism and restoring it to hope is worth more to me than anything, even the giving and receiving of wild transports of pleasure.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:28 PM
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100: John's 99 has clarified. Is there a claim that irony used outside of scenarios involving actual oppression is a completely different animal?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:31 PM
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101: He's lying to you, M/tch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:33 PM
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Ben is on fire. 103 is great.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:38 PM
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107

Apo and Ben had sex together just last week.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:38 PM
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108

105: It was more than 18 months ago?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:38 PM
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106: What, I get no credit for the assist?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:40 PM
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96 is very good, John, thanks.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:43 PM
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I still look at the Harry Potter books and giggle about the head Satanist point out that not only are they getting millions of converts, given that they're nine, most of them are virgins, which is just gravy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:43 PM
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I may be having a slow motion stroke -- my comments for the last few days have had a remarkable number of bizarre grammatical errors that I haven't noticed until after posting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:45 PM
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110 was said in a witheringly ironic tone, no doubt.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:45 PM
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What, I get no credit for the assist?

A limited amount. What makes 103 great is not the joke, but the tone which strikes a perfect balance between deadpan and over-inflated self importance.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:53 PM
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Irony is Sin.


Posted by: soren kierkkegaard | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:54 PM
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It's so gratifying to me, Nick, to see someone who really understands my work.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 2:55 PM
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Some people are confusing irony and sarcasm. It was ever thus. Sigh, etc.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:07 PM
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Sarcasm is a species of irony, no?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:11 PM
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Most instances of verbal irony employ sarcasm, suggesting that the term sarcasm is more widely used than its technical definition suggests it should be (Bryant & Fox Tree, 2002; Gibbs, 2000). Some psycholinguistic theorists suggest that sarcasm ("Great idea!", "I hear they do fine work."), hyperbole ("That's the best idea I have heard in years!"), understatement ("Sure, what the hell, it's only cancer..."), rhetorical questions ("What, does your spirit have cancer?"), double entendre ("I'll bet if you do that, you'll be communing with spirits in no time...") and jocularity ("Get them to fix your bad back while you're at it.") should all be considered forms of verbal irony (Gibbs, 2000).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:23 PM
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119: Don't forget litotes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:28 PM
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I'd been about to write that there was doubtless some hierarchy out there, and Apo provides it.

But I'm sad to think that we can get away with talking about all of those things as irony. In which case, what would we mean to suggest that the postmodern hipster whatever whatever stance, described as ironic, is troublesome in some way?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:32 PM
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But I'm sad to think that we can get away with talking about all of those things as irony.

Why?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:33 PM
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122: Because then Alanis Morissette would win.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:42 PM
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And that would just be like a black fly in your Chardonnay.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:43 PM
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Or a cah-ah-ment that's been already made.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 3:56 PM
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Or meeting the man of your dreams and then shooting yourself in the face.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 4:01 PM
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126: Anyone else have Unfogged meetup predictions?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 4:07 PM
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127: For surely, that one's been done.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 4:46 PM
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Sarcasm is a species of irony, no?

No.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:04 PM
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I don't like Gibbs.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:05 PM
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129: Oh, thank you! I was afraid to take issue. Not prepared for class.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:12 PM
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But we sing for you, Ben.


Posted by: Gibbs | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:21 PM
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I don't like Gibbs.

How do you feel about Quintilian and Samuel Johnson? (I just finished co-writing a paper on the topic of what might unify different phenomena that have oft been called irony, including sarcasm, Socratic irony, situational/cosmic irony, satire, Romantic irony, ironic appreciation, and structural irony. It's truly weird, though, the way that the psycholinguistics literature focuses on so-called "verbal irony." Even if sarcasm and its allies are a species of irony, they're hardly all there is.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:36 PM
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That wasn't meant to be a refutation of him.

I like Herb Clark on irony, only in part because he agrees with Lisa Pea.

I also don't like so-called "ironic appreciation" and mostly don't see where irony fits into it. (On the pretense theory there's a more or less obvious way that something could be ironic appreciation, I just don't think that much of what is called ironic appreciation is that.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:41 PM
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Re: #65: Here's another example of the Onion's pro-feminist sensibilities these days! (video at link)


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:43 PM
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Have you read John Haiman's Talk is Cheap? I like it a great deal. It basically subscribes to the pretense account, but (a) doesn't define its subject as irony per se, sidestepping that issue, and (b) has lots of finely wrought observations about the different resources people use to signal "I don't mean this".


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 5:46 PM
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i've grown like reluctant to offer my matchmaking advices here, coz people like disappear after that
some even permanently
but the cupcake girls looked very nice


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 6:27 PM
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Well, thanks to ben and rfts for at least pointing me toward terms of discussion, e.g. "pretense theory" and ironic appreciation. About the latter I find little so far that's not just referring to the phenomenon: various mentions of kitsch, of insincere (this is the 'ironic' part) appreciation, of the tension between this and that.

I see that Clark and Gerrig on the pretense theory are Gricean, which makes sense. Forgive me for being a rube. The Haiman rfts refers to, with its finely wrought observations about the different resources people use to signal "I don't mean this" is interesting to me.

I used to follow and even work on this sort of thing, but haven't for some time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 6:30 PM
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I don't think you have to be a Gricean to buy into the pretense theory, though. That's just how they do it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 6:31 PM
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Ode on a Gricean Urn?


Posted by: John Keats | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 6:35 PM
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I'm only slowly working through google results on pretense theory, to be honest. A number of links just give me an abstract. It's enough to get the idea, though if there's something more substantial you can point me toward, that'd be nice. Jeepers, is there something at the Stanford Encyclopedia?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 6:37 PM
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137: Is that a threat?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:07 PM
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By the way, some of this stuff on the mention (echoic) theory of irony is hilarious taken out of context, or even in context:

Results support the mention theory of irony in that Subjects did not perceive a plausible nonnormative utterance to be ironic unless it echoed some antecedent use.

That an investigation of the nature of irony should be undertaken under the rubric of CogSci is ... just stops me.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:08 PM
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And okay, I'm on tenterhooks by the end of this account of the debate between a mention theory and a pretense theory of irony.

Money shot: Your pretense theory is nothing but a theory of parody! Haha! It is not irony! What say you?!?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:14 PM
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Fascinating!


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:24 PM
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Hey! I'm way too late to The Onion conversation, but what the hell.

17: That series is actually very funny. To paraphrase Mel Brooks, comedy is when Bush walks into an open sewer and dies.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:26 PM
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But I am fascinated, Biohazard. Or at least intrigued. It stops in 1984! What happened?

(Okay, I'll quit. Even though the entire fabric of the universe is at stake, and you don't even care.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:36 PM
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Comedy is when Bush falls off his segway. Irony is when Mel Brooks falls into a manhole and dies. Of irony. And manholes.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:37 PM
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148: That also is correct. Especially about the irony.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:42 PM
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You guys sure know how to kill a thread.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 7:52 PM
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I could try walking into an open sewer to liven things up a little.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:05 PM
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It's been done, sweetheart. Nice to see you, also.

So Michael Ignatieff, eh?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:10 PM
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10: ari, whats your UW Madison vintage? The most famous Onion headline of '94-'95, I recall, was "Area Bowl Cashed".

Also, a good friend of mine was the Onion's Drunk of the Week.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:12 PM
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152: Always nice to see you. Though you should really be denouncing me as an asshole who doesn't answer his e-mail.

Yeah, Michael Ignatieff. I've never liked him much, but the Grits desperately needed someone with a modicum of political skill at the helm and Iggy's at least saying the right things at the moment. We'll see.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:18 PM
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DS is an asshole who doesn't answer his fucking email.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:19 PM
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See? Emerson knows how it's done.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:20 PM
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154.1: I've told you before that it's fine.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:25 PM
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I'm also a gentleman and knight in armor who rescues abused American women from Canadian assholes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:27 PM
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Nah, DS said early on that he's a shitty correspondent, and lo, he is. I prefer the term haphazard, which is one I'm willing to accept for myself as well. There should be no worries about this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:34 PM
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Canadians are like that. Look at hockey players. A bunch of thugs and jerks, that's what they are.

I really admire the way Mary Catherine has risen above her Canadian-Irish origins. Talk about a double whammy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:36 PM
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A bunch of thugs and jerks, that's what they are.

Hey, come up here and say that to my face, you Wobegonian bum.

(160.2 has me chuckling, though.)

159: Well, damned decent of you, and at any rate now I've finally e-mailed you back, so I will cease to worry.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:39 PM
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at any rate now I've finally e-mailed you back

jesus christ, man, it's only been five years two months a couple weeks, 'bout goddamn time.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:46 PM
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That's the spirit!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:49 PM
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I should go look at the response at some point, is that right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:51 PM
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Anytime in the next four months would be cricket, I guess.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:52 PM
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Hey, come up here and say that to my face, you Wobegonian bum.

I've found that Canadians and Scandinavians are the safest people tp abuse. I ain't scared of you.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:52 PM
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Nohow.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 8:53 PM
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Lame-o Canadian-American sartorial geography.

The Southern Ontario Elephant.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 10:50 PM
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I've been listening, when in the car, almost exclusively to the Canadian Comedy satellite radio station. Do they have some funny boot camp up there? I'm suspicious.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-11-08 11:14 PM
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147: It stops in 1984! What happened?

I noticed that too. Actually, it a rather interesting. I like the idea of doing actual experiments to see which theory works better. Maybe they killed each other off?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-12-08 12:07 AM
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147: It stops in 1984! What happened?

I noticed that too. Actually, it is rather interesting. I like the idea of doing actual experiments to see which theory works better. Maybe they killed each other off?


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-12-08 12:07 AM
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Grrr!


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 12-12-08 12:08 AM
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