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Sprezzatura

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.06

Lee Siegel, he of "blogofascism" and other unhinged rants, has been canned for sockpuppetry. But give the man credit, when he sockpuppeted, he sockpuppeted all the way.

Siegel is my hero

...Siegel is brave, brilliant, and wittier than Stewart will ever be. Take that, you bunch of immature, abusive sheep.

There are a lot more awesome comments from Sprezzatura in that thread.

More great examples here. If you need reminded about Siegel's greatest hits, you can go here.

Ezra Klein, toward whom Siegel seemed to have some personal animus, has more behind-the-scenes details.

Just one comment: TNR doesn't say that Siegel wrote the comments from Sprezzatura, but that they "were produced with Siegel's participation." What's that about, I wonder?


 

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The Singular of Anecdote Is So Data

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.06

Glenn Greenwald writes,

Our foreign policy is driven at least as much by psychological factors as political ones -- at least. So much of the bellicose, tough-guy warmongering to which we are subjected on a daily basis -- all the talk about not wanting to be weak, scared, appeasers who run from fights -- is generated by the same forces that account for David Warren, someone who calls journalists in Gaza "cowards" while he lounges around listening to Ella Fitzgerald and whining about his sore thumb, someone who demands that other men risk their lives and more and more people be incinerated so that he can finally feel strong and courageous and powerful while he sits around complaining about Earl Grey tea ("Earl Grey is an especially contemptible tea, for it was first blended in the kitchens of the notorious Whig statesman").

An MSNBC headline:

Does Iran make the U.S. look impotent?

Next week: Does Syria makes us look fat?


 

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So Confused

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.06

Let a teenaged Iranian woman write an apparently unedited article and you get...a marvellously unrestrained piece hating on Iranian guys.

They're extreme SHOW-OFFS (even though they make the biggest idiots out of themlseves most of the time), IRRESPONSIBLE, impatient, EXTREMELY jealous, RUDE, and THE BIGGEST MOMMA'S BOYS (even worse then Italian guys).

Go ahead, have a laugh. Now, she's describing a particular Iranian subculture; namely, unemployed rich young people, and that combination of attributes will get you hedonism and decadence pretty much everywhere. But one sentence in the piece struck me kinda powerful.

They act, walk, talk like black guys & then get mad at us for dating them, "ye mosht laat" ["laat" is gender-neutral, but in this case, the best translation of that is probably "a bunch of hussies"].

There's a lot of tension in Iran between the appeal of the Western lifestyle and pride in Iranian autonomy and ways of behaving. So lots of people want to get rid of the mullahs and normalize relations with America and everyone wants Iran to have nukes. In this case, the boys and the girls want to party American-style, but they not-so-secretly disdain each other for not acting like good Iranians. So it goes.


 

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Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean They're Not Out To Get You.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 09.01.06

Every so often I read someone suggesting that Republicans are paying people to disrupt conversations on liberal websites, and mostly it strikes me as fairly silly. Really, who's going to bother?

On the other hand, I've been reading the comments at TAPPED for the last couple of days, and damn they have some committed, businesslike trolls. Reading those comments, it's hard not to think that they're being trolled not out of self-expression, or whyever trolls do what they do, but as a planned project to make sure that a substantive conversation can't happen there. Planned doesn't mean paid, but I really wouldn't be surprised.

Or I'm just being paranoid. Who can tell?


 

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With Big Guns

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.06

You know what the world needs? An action movie with out gay stars. That is, some stars need to come out and make an action movie together. A while back, my buddy at WWTDD wrote,

Worst kept sex secrets in Hollywood: 1.Travolta is gay. 2.Kevin Spacey is gay. 3.Whitney is gay 3. Tom Cruise is not. 5.Jake Gyllenhaal is.

You could make a pretty sweet movie with those folks, and if Spacey is the villian, it'll at least be good. Consider it one little skirmish in the culture wars. No camping it up, nothing "gay" about the flick at all; in fact, the point is to make people realize that they've been watching this very thing and loving it. I figure that a lot of homophobes are going to die of old age soon, and it's the young males who weren't lucky enough to grow up in the decadent enclaves of the Left that need a little conditioning. This is something they'll hear and have to talk about, even if they don't pay to see it.

And all those guys have enough money that they never need to work again, so yeah, maybe (maybe) their careers will suffer, but we're not asking them to lop off a limb. This seems like the kind of thing that would be a very big deal for a short time, and then become entirely normal.


 

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"Do You Belong To An Organized Political Party?" "No. I'm A Democrat."

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.31.06

Tom Schaller suggests some methods for unifying the Democratic message for the midterm elections. Not on Iraq: he divides the possible Democratic positions on Iraq into Feingold (always against); Kerry/Edwards (voted for it but regret the vote, particularly given the administrations incompetence); Clinton (voted for it and don't regret it, but think ill of the administration's incompetence); and Lieberman (kill, Kill, KILL, KILL), and thinks that trying to get everyone in step on Iraq won't work, but rather on health care and economic issues.

I think he's wrong about Iraq: Feingold and K/E Democrats are already in step, and Clinton Democrats aren't a problem as long as they keep their lack of regret for their idiotic original support of the war in the background -- it's not going to get them a lot of votes anyway. And Lieberman Democrats can get out -- if you're still for the war, I don't see any reason to try to appeal to you. But his other ideas are pretty good, or at least thought-provoking.

He's got five: (1) Hammer on "Where's Osama" -- nicely agressive on national security, and gracefully points up the fact that the Iraq War is not the same thing as the War on Terrorism. (2) "There was no tax cut" -- invite voters to examine their own, personal taxes for a drop due to Bush's budget killers. Most won't see much. (3) Health Care Solidarity: Have members of Congress refuse the gov't health plan until something's done about national health. Eh. I like the focus, but it's gimmicky, and, you know, Representatives don't make that much money. I bet it'd be hard to get them to line up uniformly for this one, and if it's not uniform, it doesn't look good. (4) Adopt an NO precinct: Every Democratic candidate should be assigned a New Orleans precinct to become an expert in, and advocate for its needs. Green, gold, and purple Mardi Gras bracelets to call attention to it. Maybe. I'm not sure about this one. (5) Fiscal responsibility lapel pins: Every candidate wears a pin with a couple of unexplained numbers, say 0, 4, and 300. When asked, they explain that it's 0 spending bills vetoed, 4 times Congress had to raise the debt ceiling, and 300 billion dollars spent so far in Iraq. This is gimmicky, but I really like it .

Anyway, read the article. I should really subscribe to TAP - I certainly read it enough.


 

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Keep Driving!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.06

I was just on the phone with a relative who'd recently been to Sweden, and he was telling me how nice and warm it had been there. And surely there are lots of beautiful places all over the world that are just a bit too cold to be very desirable now, but will become increasingly attractive to residents and tourists as global warming works its magic. Somebody, somewhere, has thought of this and is currently buying up a bunch of very cheap property that's going to be worth a bundle in twenty years, right? Keep your hands off my beachfront home in Nova Scotia!


 

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"I Owe It All To The Mineshaft"

Posted by Becks
on 08.31.06

An Ask The Mineshaft update! Remember Lothario, our gourmet gentleman who needed help developing a menu that would sweep a lady off her feet? I received an update with the final menu: an heirloom tomato salad with fresh garden herbs, seared tuna with a citrus marinade and a sorrel and chard salad, and sorbet with a fruit compote/white wine syrup sauce.

For breakfast, eggs benedict.

Things have been going very well between the two of them and recently, after a particularly enjoyable night spent together, he said that she turned to him and, apropos of nothing, recalled the dinner he had prepared on their previous date: "That was a nice meal".


 

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Bread, Butter

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.06

We keep track of how many people click each link on the site (with this, which is free), and in the week it's been up, the link in this fascinating post on Iran got about 50 clicks, while the link to Jessica Biel got over 400 clicks in two days. I blame the patriarchy Jessica Biel's ass myself.


 

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A Clearly Superior Perch On The Evolutionary Tree

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.06

It occurred to me this evening that many of the Yanomami of Brazil and the Huli of Papua New Guinea are clean shaven. Is this something they started doing only after contact with the outside world? Are they just naturally hairless? Are there "primitive" ways to shave? Wikipedia describes using "two sea shells" but that sounds more like plucking than shaving. I wonder if you can burn off facial hair, if you're really careful. It's a mystery.

(I own a razor, thanks. This is purely intellectual curiosity. "Hairy Iranian" jokes are declared unfunny for the purposes of this thread.)


 

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Who Wants To Watch Mutombo?

Posted by Becks
on 08.30.06

The best thing about TiVo is when it reads your mind and records something that you didn't even know you wanted to watch. Last night, I was flipping through my To Do list, deleting programs picked up by overzealous Wish Lists, and saw that it somehow just knew that I would love to watch the 60 Minutes Classic interview with Dikembe Mutombo airing this Friday. I pass this information along in case your TiVos aren't as smart as mine.

Also, as I was searching TV Guide Online looking for a link to that listing, I discovered that Mutombo was in Juwanna Mann. I did not know that.


 

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Axis of Countries That Start With 'Ira'

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.30.06

As if in response to my pitiful query in the comments below about whether the administration could really be serious about war with Iran, here's a post from ThinkProgress compiling clips from FoxNews today. Sample quote:

FOX ANCHOR: In a Washington Times article, Arnaud de Borchgrave writes, “Odds makers bet sometime before the end of his second term President Bush will order a massive air attack on a wide range of carefully selected targets in Iran, in partnership with Israel, and against the advice of many of his advisers.”

So, FOX thinks they're serious. What on earth are they thinking? What's wrong with these people?


 

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War Stories

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.30.06

The really weird kind. The Maine National Guard is issuing lifesize photo cutouts of deployed Guard members to their families at home.

Welcome to the ``Flat Daddy" and ``Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.
The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.

This is just incredibly, incredibly, messed up. (Via Steve Gilliard.)


 

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Home

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.06

Yglesias has consolidated, and now has one blog home. He's not entirely moved in, as you can tell from the missing picture on his About page. Might I humbly suggest this one?


 

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Fuck Comity?

Posted by Alameida
on 08.30.06

You know what's funny? Ogged wanted to shut the blog down and instead I saddled him with lots of feminist posters who call him out on sexism all the time. Guaranteed laffs! w00t! Also, if baa is really out there reading the Second Sex right now, that is great. Even if he's reading one of Kotsko's hippie Gaia books--still great. I didn't want to comment for the first time at 758 or whatever, but I sat down and read the whole thread when I got home from my meeting tonight and it was really good. Not acrimonious, for the most part; people learnin' lessons about feminism together. Only sad in that it prompted me to reflect that I spend about 15% of my time thinking about my appearance and how I look bad (or good), and what I am eating, all this despite the fact that I have one of the healthier, confident body images and attitude towards food of anyone I know. I've been losing weight since I stopped drinking--it turns out vodka has calories! Jackmormon's abhorrence of them aside, I fit (barely) into a new pair of size 10 stovepipe-leg jeans the other day. Part of me thinks I should just be satisfied with that. I'm a mom! More importantly, at this weight (148 lbs), I have tits! The rest of me thinks I am repulsive and can never be happy until I fit into my vast collection of vintage dresses again. But hey, at least I can take solace in the fact that I'm better looking than Sarah Jessica Parker.


 

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In The Mood

Posted by Becks
on 08.30.06

Combining two of our favorite topics of discussion, music and sex, I ask: What are some good songs for a non-cheesy playlist of "mood music"? A Makeout Mixtape, if you will.

(With the emphasis on non-cheesy. No Barry White, people.)


 

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Now With Bonus Zipper Sounds

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.06

Mortifying.

CNN apologized Tuesday after an open mike transmitted an anchor's bathroom conversation with another woman live over the network as it was carrying President Bush's speech in New Orleans.

``Live From'' anchor Kyra Phillips had apparently left the set around 12:48 p.m. EDT Tuesday for a bathroom break while the news channel carried Bush's speech marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Phillips' wireless microphone was turned on and picked up about a minute and a half of a muffled conversation she had with an unidentified woman where she apparently talked about her husband, laughed and talked about her brother.
``I've got to be protective of him,'' she said without being aware that the mic was on. ``He's married, three kids, and his wife is just a control freak.''

The CNN feed is here, if you want to hear those zipper noises and the telltale echo of an institutional bathroom. I'm trying to think of something comparably embarrassing from my own life, but I can't compete with this.

And: Transcript here.


 

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Subway Synchronicity

Posted by LizardBreath
on 08.29.06

Scene: the long subway corridor between 42d & 8th and 42d and 7th. A couple is talking as they pass a Chinese flautist, playing something traditionally Chinese.

Man: If I never hear another South American subway musician playing Simon and Garfunkle on the pan-flute again, it'll be too soon.

Woman: Yeah, what is that?

Man: I think they come to the US, and they all learn to play El Condor Pasa because it's a Peruvian folk tune, or something, so it's familar, and they figure that Americans will like it better than the music they really know from home. And then they have the Paul Simon Songbook they bought, so they learn the rest of the songs. And then they never play anything else.

As they walk, they have come to the 42d & 7th end of the corridor. Standing by the steps down to the No. 7 train are two South American musicians, one with an electric guitar and one with a pan-flute. They are playing 'The Sound of Silence.'


 

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The Rule Of Truth And Beauty

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.06

I propose, no, I decree that henceforth, when we discuss the attractiveness of a celebrity, only paparazzi or otherwise candid photos can be entered as evidence. The rest is trickery and technology.

On that note, the woman in this Levis ad is fantastically pretty. I know because there's also this strange and unexpected find

But what I really want to say tonight is, damn, but Jessica Biel is looking great lately. She's all radiant and shapely, and doesn't look twiggy or droopy or augmented or drugged. Just keep scrolling down on that page.


 

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Free Verse

Posted by Becks
on 08.28.06

I was doing some stuff tonight to try to fix the hoohole problem* and, in the course of checking the index status on Google's site, was presented with a list of the words most frequently found on this fine website. Google presented them in a neat and orderly table but I thought they were quite amusing when presented all stream-of-consciousness-like.

* Yahoo works, bitches. It's just Google that's choking.

it's ogged people main archived that's apostropher women ben w-lfs-n matt lizardbreath weiner men bitchphd read post doesn't there's tia new bush labs though fontana isn't pretty might man sex guy blog actually didn't he's war torture michael unfogged work standpipe joe john bridgeplate white fuck guys clown woman maybe name becks asian cala love chopper person seems text art bob kids drymala life saying book religion emerson somecallmetim world games porn story jews reading

(Fuck you, clown)


 

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Hard Landing!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.06

This would scare me senseless...if I owned a home. Bring on the pop!

(Apologies to home-owning Unfoggers. You can crash on my couch.)

via atrios


 

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Off To The Circus

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.06

This post might belong on the other blog, but I want comments. It turns out that the picture of my scar that I posted was misleading, insofar as it made the scar look two feet long. Damn camera phones. I didn't know better because I couldn't bring myself to actually look at the thing in the mirror until recently. That picture was the first I'd seen of it too.

Turns out, it's only 8 inches long, and healing well, but at the top, where they took out half a rib, I now have a distinct notch in my side. Which is to say that I haven't just acquired a scar, but had the look of my body slighty but quite obviously altered. It's not exactly a problem and I think I'll get used to it, but at the moment I distinctly feel a bit freakish and disfigured. It was only a week ago that I finally made myself touch it, which just made me sad. And I'm sure that when I get over that, and resume swimming daily, I'll have to get over it again, since it's the kind of thing that people will notice, even if it's not so bad to gross anyone out.

Any words of wisdom for me? Maybe it's time for the "Fucking bears is dangerous! ------->" tattoo.


 

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Bwahahaha!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.06

Let's say, hypothetically, that I'm bopping around a people-meeting/dating site, and I come across the profile of someone who comments at Unfogged. What are my ethical obligations?

Don't even try to email me about this, you goons.

So: Only four of you emailed me. It would be fitting to strip the names from those emails and amuse ourselves at the various strategies used to attempt to pry the information from me. You goons.


 

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"I will always have a dildo in my window"

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.28.06

Here's a Daily Show clip about a man who moves to the Castro and complains that it's too gay. As if such a thing were possible. (A more serious discussion of the problem is here.)


 

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Memento

Posted by Ogged
on 08.28.06

I'm all for raising the tone, but I was going through old emails looking for something, and found this irresistible picture, which someone sent me the day after the election. Just two and a half years to go...

election04.jpg


 

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The Wire, Reconsidered

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.06

Yes, I'm going to blog about television FOREVER. All right-thinking people believe that The Wire is the best show on television, but I was recently trying to convert a friend who has a good eye for such things, and she said that the acting and directing is actually pretty bad. While remaining heroically steadfast in my opinion of the show, I tried looking at it with fresh eyes, and...damn, the acting (I'm not much qualified to judge the directing) is pretty bad, pretty often. That's not to say that there aren't some consistently great performances: Idris Elba as Stringer Bell is totally compelling, and Wendell Pierce does more with Bunk Moreland than you'd think possible with such a relatively small role. And Andre Royo as Bubbles deserves an award, period. A lot of the other performances are solid, and occasionally very good. But honesty compels one to admit that there are a lot of clunky moments, and we shouldn't be surprised, given that the show often uses non-professional actors. Even so, some of the pros aren't fantastic: Sonja Sohn, though I love her, can't really act. I love Clarke Peters as Freamon, but his acting is geared more toward theater than television. Can Seth Gilliam, who plays Carver, act? A little.

The show still works though, because even when some of the folks can't act, they have great presence, or, often, great voices. Can Slim Charles act? Not a bit. Is he awesome? Yes.

I've been thinking about this because David Simon says, on one of the DVDs, that he thinks one of the reasons the show gets no love for awards is that it has a mostly black cast. I'm sure there's some truth to that, but it's less surprising that the show is often overlooked when you think about someone who isn't converted, and isn't much inclined to be converted watching an episode: not only is there the problem that the episodes aren't really freestanding, but within each episode, there are going to be many minutes of bad acting.


 

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Rumors

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.06

I'm watching E!'s pre-Emmy red carpet show, and Ryan Seacrest, interviewing his colleague Randy Jackson, supposedly talking about the "fried chicken" they had together last night, just said, "I have a confession to make. When you got up to go to the bathroom, I ate off your bone."


 

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Entourage

Posted by Ogged
on 08.27.06

It was inevitable that I watch Entourage. I liked it a lot, despite expecting to hate it. There are the obvious reasons to like it: the hot women, the bling, the mirror it holds up to Hollywood life, Jeremy Piven's performance, and picking out incidents that you recognize from the tabloids. (Yes, some of those might be reasons to expect to hate it.) But the show is actually good, in addition to being entertaining.

But before we get to why it's good, it's worth repeating: Jeremy Piven's performance is awesome. Anytime Piven is on screen in this, you're just along for the ride, as he does a manic, over the top, oily and still sympathetic portrayal of a Hollywood agent. Here's a clip of Piven with Gary Busey; the amused/defensive/derisive smile on Piven's face after Busey insults him is perfect. And here's Piven playing blackjack (contains profanity). If this clip doesn't make you smile or laugh, you might not like the show.

But what makes the show really good is that it's genius at depicting the dynamics of the entourage--four guys from Queens: the young star, and his three buddies. Part of its genius is in almost never making each guy's real role explicit. The normally solid Liz Penn gets all the guys wrong, and it's no wonder she doesn't like the show.

The archetypes of the four friends—the preening alpha male (Vince), the conflicted but loyal best friend (Eric), the insecure but lovable buffoon (Drama), and the walking id (Turtle)

That's not right, at all. Vince is a lost boy, and he needs his friends, because they're the emotional center of his life. Eric she's not wrong about, but the key is that Eric is Vince's rival; they have very different skills, but the conflict between them isn't about what's best for Vince or best for Eric, but about who's boss. Drama is a buffoon, but his role in the group is the protector/father figure, and Turtle is the little brother everyone dumps on, but loves and looks out for. If each of these were made explicit in each episode, it would be sappy and boring, as it is in most "male bonding" shows. The guys give each other shit all the time, and might seem to be nothing more than what Penn sees them as; but over the course of the seasons, there are myriad subtle touches that add up to a very dense and emotionally sophisticated depiction of a group of males friends.

Penn writes,

Entourage has found its niche with those who look back fondly on a time when they could get away with being callow jerks, too

But that's just at the surface; yes, there's the lifestyle and the bling, but my guess is that the power of the show, for a lot of the people who enjoy it, is that it reminds them of what, for a lot of guys, are their happiest days: spent with a group of close friends in complicated, often hostile rivalry, but with the sense, almost always in the background, that these people will go to the mat for you, always love you, even die for you.--"You stupid fucking asshole. Anything you need, ok?"--When people start coupling off, those groups die, and we never really get them back. Even at my relatively young age, when I get together with the guys I shared those days with, we don't restart, but reminisce.

The other remarkable thing about the show is its obsession with honesty, both implicitly and thematically. When my friends and I give each other shit, we all hold back a little and don't say the really true, really hurtful things we might. But in Entourage, everything is fair game. If I had a washed-up two-bit actor friend, I wouldn't harp on his being washed-up, or two-bit, but Drama hears about that constantly. Ditto all the other guys and their flaws (except for Vince, who gets something of a pass, and is a bit of mystery, even to his friends, I think). This is both funny, because the barbs are well-written, and refreshing, because we can enjoy the characters' flaws knowing that everyone else sees them too. There's no "but he's a loser!" feeling that someone is loved because someone else is fooled.

The thematic obsession with honesty is even more remarkable. In real life, and particularly real life show business, people lie constantly and abjectly. But in the show, each lie is treated as an unforgivable breach. The couple of times that Ari outright lies (rather than spins), it threatens to end his relationship with Vince, and when a studio head lies, Vince is willing to kill his own career rather than work with him again; when a friend from the neighborhood joins them, they're willing to put up with just about anything from him, except being lied to. Part of what makes the guys bearable, even lovable, is that they're truth-tellers. And I wonder how much of the appeal of the show, particularly for people in the business, is a kind of wish-fulfillment: what if people just told the truth and only the really evil characters lied?

And: Jeremy Piven just won an Emmy.


 

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Notes on a case of obsessional neurosis

Posted by Ben
on 08.27.06

I managed to successfully avoid thinking about all the music that I'm not listening to (which includes the CDs (far too many) I've bought here, since I lack the needful) while abroad and away from the abundant supply of new releases with which KZSU is blessed and the eternal influx of music of dubious origin from my fellow Soulseek users. So, say, I never read the reviews on the KZSU email list or went to any music review sites and generally deleted any other music-related emails text unread.

Or so I managed … until recently! Now I can once again enjoy the old familiar feeling of there being just too much—I'll never get to it all—think of all the greatness that's passing me by! No doubt when I get back I'll go into the station with a big stack of blank CDs and sit there for hours making copies (though some things will, alas, have vanished already into the giant library never to be played again), then give each album a cursory, enjoyment-free listen just so I can check it off and be satisfied that I experienced, however superficially, its music. But even that won't assuage me, since I know that the station only gets a narrow range of styles and that a lot of stuff that I could have been reading about at Dusted (eg, with its date-free archiving system) has forever been deprived to me.

I used only to be this way about books; maybe in a few years I can branch out even more.


 

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