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In which I certainly do not judge anyone

Posted by Ben
on 12.01.07

As you all already know, I recently attended a concert given by that ├╝ber-hip chamber ensemble, Alarm Will Sound. What you may not have known is that they have a staging director who helps them come up with stagings for some pieces in their repertoire—they had such things for one of the Aphex Twin pieces, I think both of the Nancarrow arrangements, and maybe a few other pieces as well. Now when, as an untried youth, I used to hear the Pacifica String Quartet, even the extremely demonstrative flailings of their first violinist would occasionally put me out, and they all performed seated, so you can certainly imagine that I was a bit turned off by this much more thoroughgoing choreography.

But, you know what? It worked pretty well. I didn't mind it all that much in the end at all, and even, though I hesitate to admit it to myself, enjoyed it a bit. And it's just the same with many of the so-called indicators of preciousness Carrie Brownstein adduces. To be fair, it's not clear in what sense she means "indicator": whether it's just a sign pointing in the direction of probable preciousness, or one of the sure and inerrant accompaniments/manifestations of it. But it's clear that we can't locate preciousness in any list of particular traits. For one thing, one can adduce counterexamples to each of her suggestions. Toshio Hirano was pretty nervous opening for Richard Thompson—as what rather small-time local hero wouldn't be—but it wasn't precious; Blixa Bargeld instructs the audience as to how to create the background hum of the universe for Rede/Speech, and the result is surely not precious; matching stage outfits (odd that she specifies "old-timey") and being asked to lie on the floor, I admit, escape my net, but in the former case it would clearly be a matter of whether the performers can carry it, and we can certainly imagine that a group interested in exploring the browner notes of the scale might find their research more effective with people lying down (maybe they would also have their amps tilted over). The point, of course, is that preciousness is not to be associated with any particular trait, for any trait can, in certain circumstances, be manifested without preciousness ensuing, if you can carry it. (That doesn't mean that certain things might not make it more difficult to avoid preciousness.) It's a matter of carrying something off, not of avoiding a checklist.

And, of course, it's terribly unclear what any of this has to do with "art being able to stand on its own two feet". So you've got a complicated sort of singalong—say it's "Sam Hall", how to sing along to which the audience on Thompson's 1000 Years of Popular Music probably would not have known without instruction—suddenly you aren't self-sufficient as an artist?

I confess that when I first encountered this blog post, in an email from Becks (not necessarily to me, that's just how I encountered it), not knowing its author, I was so enraged by the seeming complacency in the (obviously false) opinions of the author that I wanted to liken her to the first two characters one encounters in The Man without Qualities, aided somewhat in the ability to have this desire by having had to read the first chapter two days previously. Now I am free from that wholly uncharacteristic and ungenerous urge, but since I was shocked to discover that practically the only source online for the best phrase in the passage in question is a title, not much further elaborated upon, of a post by none other than SEK, I now wish, without implying that it applies to anyone at all, to copy it out for your pleasure, because, let's face it, it's pretty great:

The two people who were walking up one of its wide, bustling avenues naturally were not thinking along these lines. They clearly belonged to a privileged social class, with their distinguished bearing, style of dress, and conversation, the initials of their names embroidered on their underwear, and just as discreetly, which is to say not for outward show but in the fine underwear of their minds, they knew who they were and that they belonged in a European capital city and imperial residence.

 

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Touch

Posted by Becks
on 12.01.07

New York Magazine has an article up about the spread of beauty salons and how many treatments (manicures, waxing, etc.) that were pampering treats just a few years ago are now considered necessary maintenance by many women. As evidence:

In 2000, there were 431 registered waxers in New York; today that number has risen to 3,301.

It also does a good job of exposing the often exploitative conditions in which the aestheticians work and people working to improve them. I'll somewhat sheepishly that, even after reading this yesterday, I went and got a manicure today. I tipped even better than I usually do as a result of guilt from reading this and felt uneasy from not knowing whether the conditions in the salon I went to were like those in the article or not. I wish there was like an independent certification that spas could display that validated that they were following labor laws and treating their employees fairly. And yet, it's really sad that it sounds like so few are that I'm hoping someone would give gold stars to people actually following the law.


 

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Other, Smaller Minds

Posted by Ogged
on 11.30.07

Long ago, back in Chicago, I knew a cute little redheaded boy, about three or four years old, whose "k" sounds always came out as "t" sounds and whose "r" sounds didn't come out at all. "Why is yo titty dying?" he once sweetly asked a friend. But he was pretty cute even aside from his funny talk.

Kid: I'm going on vatation!
Me: That sounds like fun, where are you going?
Kid: Faw away.
Me: Sound exciting! Where is it?
Kid: Faw, faw away.
Me: Does this place have a name?
Kid: Wistonsin.


 

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Non-Standard

Posted by Ogged
on 11.30.07

I'd only seen pictures of Giuliani in drag. They don't come close to conveying the weirdness.


 

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A Simple But Mysterious Bleg

Posted by Ogged
on 11.29.07

If you are or know someone who is affiliated with Psychiatry at Duke University, could you email me? Thanks.


 

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How Did You Know?

Posted by Ogged
on 11.29.07

A dedicated lurker wonders about the worst gifts people have received from significant others, and offers this example, given while the recipient was sick with the flu.

kind of a witch/monster stuffed animal thing the size of a soccer ball, that had wheels on the bottom and would roll around the floor cackle-singing halloween-ified versions of Elvis songs

That's pretty bad, but surely some of you got some bad meth or something once.


 

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Chicago Meetup: 12/28

Posted by Ogged
on 11.29.07

Coordinate!



 

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Pink Collar Doctors?

Posted by Becks
on 11.29.07

On a not-too-long-ago trip to the emergency room, one thing that struck me was that most of the medical residents and doctors I encountered were female. While this seemed unusual, it follows the national trends: women are outnumbering men at a lot of med schools across the country.

When a lot of women start entering a profession, it sometimes takes on a "pink collar" taint and the associated status gets diminished. It made me start to wonder - could this ever happen with medicine, long considered one of the most prestigious professions one can enter? And if medicine starts getting slandered as "women's work", what will take its place as the aspirational professional career?


 

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Do Jews have the most bad-ass religious text?

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.29.07

McLemee points us to this selection of the best Bible passages ever.

Thanks God, as this shows, the actual Bible is nowhere near as lame as the irritating Evangelicals would have you believe. But the big mystery here is how Jews managed to get themselves this kind of nerdy, not-at-all-scary stereotype when they open the holy books and see things like this, from Judges 3:

15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer--Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half [e] long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols [f] near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king." The king said, "Quiet!" And all his attendants left him.

20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace [g] and said, "I have a message from God for you." As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch [h] ; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

I mean, if I knew someone had grown up on a steady diet of Divinely-guided shiving, I would be worried. The New Testament is scary in a gauzy metaphoric way, and while the Quran has lots of boiling water and thorns-for-dinner-again, there's also a lot about being nice to people even when they're dicks. But the OT is Ehud making a clean getaway after losing his sword in some dude's gut.


 

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Stay Away!

Posted by Becks
on 11.28.07

Pulling this up from comments because it's a good question. Baa asks:

What type of person should preemptively decide not to date you? What are the aspects of your own personality or avenues of your self expression that are so important to you that, if someone was not enthusiastic about them, you would want them to avoid engaging with you even if you were predisposed to like them?

 

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Feeling Good, Louis

Posted by Ogged
on 11.28.07

I admit I was occasionally amused by Christopher Hitchens' recounting of his course of self-improvement, including efforts to quit smoking, spa treatments, dental work, and a brazilian wax. If you don't feel like reading the articles, you can get most of the funny from the two-part slideshow: 1 and 2.

It's an interesting question whether we can be (should be) amused by loathsome people. There's no joke Dick Cheney or John Yoo could make or participate in that would crack me up. But I guess I just don't hate Hitchens quite that much.

via pz


 

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Meet Unf, Jr.

Posted by Unf
on 11.28.07

As a result, my blogging may be light for the next 18 years or so.

DSC01087.jpg


 

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Back to business

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.28.07

Congratulations to Unf, but let our attention return to people who do not get laid. Ogged is right about the badness of the band in question, but I think it's important to qualify the sort of badness we're dealing with. It's not like the way your teenage garage band is bad, because there's some competence. It's bad like this: when I listen, I imagine that I'm watching some kind of commercial about how zesty, yet funky, your life would be if you (a) drank this sort of coffee or (b) purchased this stupid upscale furniture. Probably the ad would feature a racially diverse group of friends in their early 30s dressed entirely in clothes from the Gap. That's the kind of badness involved in this problem. Would Ogged learn to like this music? Therein lies the danger.


 

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Reinterpretation

Posted by Ogged
on 11.28.07

I didn't realize that if you mouse over each expression, you get a different scenario being portrayed, and thought the whole series was in response to the cue that's up when you load the page. It was better the wrong way. Particularly this one.


 

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Don't They Have Real Work To Do?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 11.28.07

The NYPD is engaged in a rivetingly dumb entrapment enterprise. They're abandoning purses and wallets in public places, watching to see if anyone picks them up, and then arresting the person who picked up the purse if they walk past a policeman without turning it in. This is idiotic on so many levels. First, even if people are picking up the abandoned bags with larcenous intent, who cares? It's not really a form of crime that's striking at the foundations of our society -- by the time you've accidentally left your wallet on the subway, not getting it back is expected, and getting it back is an unexpected bonus.

But more seriously, who'd think of handing a lost wallet to a cop to be returned? I'm a disorganized idiot, and have lost wallets not once but several times on NYC mass transit. At least one of those times, someone picked it up, found my mother's phone number, called her, and returned it like that; another time one turned up in the MetroNorth lost and found, with the cash cleaned out but everything else intact (for which I'm grateful. Anyone who finds my wallet and does anything reasonably calculated to get it back to me is welcome to any cash therein). And I'd do the same. In a store, I might give a wallet to a clerk; in a museum, ask a guard for a lost and found; on the street, take it home and use the stuff in it to find the owner. I wouldn't ever hand one to a policeman -- at least in New York, they very clearly convey that if it's not an emergency, they don't want you bothering them. The idea that a police department with the NYPD's sort of attitude toward minor interactions with the public has the gall to set up a sting operation that assumes that anyone who doesn't ask a cop for help returning a wallet is a criminal is appalling.

And they're actually charging people with crimes on this basis (although according to the linked story, the Manhattan DAs are refusing to press charges in at least some of the sillier cases). Hopefully publicizing the program will get it shut down.


 

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Just for today, all you punks can stay on my lawn.

Posted by Apostropher
on 11.28.07

Today marks the start of my last trip around the sun while still in my 30s. Who wants to sex Mutombo wish apostropher a happy croning? I started the day by getting a cracked filling replaced and now I'm home with a febrile, pukey baby. Because I know how to party, bitches. Wooo! However, I'm listening to this, so it ain't so bad.


 

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Bang Bang Bang

Posted by Ogged
on 11.27.07

Enough about love. This video of former mixed-martial arts star Bas Rutten demonstrating four dozen ways to grievously injure someone in a bar fight is goddam hilarious. Make sure you have the sound on.

via a decent Slate article on the proliferation of video clips of amateur fights


 

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The L Word

Posted by Becks
on 11.27.07

Two different takes on when to say "I love you": The Dating Columnist vs. The Economist. Who do you believe?


 

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Matchmaking

Posted by Becks
on 11.26.07

Asilon recently booked a hotel room for UnfoggeDCon and was wondering if people were looking for roomies. Also, I know some other people have emailed us to ask if we have any information about hotels in the DC area. Honestly, we're kind of useless, having never really been in the market for them. So feel free to use this thread to share tips that you've found from any research you've done and try to find yourself a roommate if you're looking for one.

And please RSVP to unfoggedcon at unfogged dot com if you haven't already!


 

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Germs, schmerms.

Posted by Apostropher
on 11.26.07

The germiest places in America, and you've certainly been in almost all of them.


 

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I'd Kind Of Like To Know, Frankly

Posted by Ogged
on 11.26.07
WHICH secret relationship between two editors at an online blog empire almost became public when the woman editor wrote unflatteringly about her hookup with an unnamed, but identifiable male editor on her own Web site? Her short-lived sex partner responded by posting a video of himself simulating sex with a dead fish - a commentary on her lack of animation in bed .

Seems like it can't be much of a secret if they both posted about it. But I don't know.


 

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Sundry Trivialities Noted While Traveling

Posted by Ogged
on 11.25.07

-- The soldier who passed the crowd massing at the gate for a flight and said "That's how they line up in Korea."

-- The young, married woman waiting next to me at the gate who looked straight ahead, except when a dramatically dressed woman walked by, when she'd look them up and down and follow them with her eyes.

-- Non-baseball hats make pretty much anyone look better, or at least more interesting.

-- "Ok, can you just be really honest with me right now? Is Julie there? Did they hook up last night?"


 

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Nomad

Posted by Becks
on 11.25.07

I ran into a long-lost friend today! We were really close when I was a teenager but we'd attended different high schools so I never saw her at reunions and such. I'd tried googling her not too long ago but she has a terribly common name and I wasn't able to track her down. I mentioned this as we were catching up and she said she shouldn't have been that hard to find -- she'd bought her parents' house and had even kept her parents' phone number. That someone might have that much stability in their lives hadn't even occurred to me.


 

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Thesis

Posted by Ben
on 11.25.07

If you have a stack of papers or, indeed, of other things to alphabetize by hand, mergesort is far preferable to quicksort.


 

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Hairy

Posted by Becks
on 11.25.07

My mother:

"I don't remember seeing any men with back hair before about 20 or 25 years ago. Now it's not uncommon. What happened? Is it a change in diet? The fluoride in the water?"

What say you, internet?


 

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