March 16, 2024

Sunrise — 6:58, 7:02, 7:16.




"Tonight was wild…. no hard feelings, Extinction Rebellion Crew. Michael is on your side, but Mayor Stockmann is not. Much love."

Wrote Michael Imperioli, quoted in "Michael Imperioli responds to climate protestors who crashed his and Jeremy Strong's Broadway show: 'Wild'/'No hard feelings,' the Emmy winner wrote after helping physically escort one protester from the theater" (Entertainment Weekly).

Mayor Stockmann is Imperioli's character in the play — "An Enemy of the People" — that was disrupted by the climate protesters, Extinction Rebellion Crew.

"Actors were called to leave the stage while the protestors were removed, but many remained in character throughout the disruption, with [Jeremy] Strong and Imperioli reacting to Extinction Rebellion as if the interruption were part of the script...."


I'm reading "Without Senators in Sight, Christine Blasey Ford Retells Her Story/Her lucid memoir, 'One Way Back,' describes life before, during and after she testified that Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in high school" (NYT). Excerpt:
Published more than five years after her 2018 congressional testimony, Blasey Ford’s new memoir, “One Way Back,” is an important entry into the public record — a lucid if belated retort to Senator Chuck Grassley’s 414-page, maddening memo on the investigation — but a prosaic one.

 The book is important, lucid, belated, and prosaic, we're told.

Why should we trust the purchaser of TikTok to keep it going? Remember when NBC bought and then killed Television Without Pity?

Here's the Wikipedia page for Television Without Pity, in case you don't remember that wonderful website.

Here's my post from 2014:

Paul Simon loathes feeling groovy.

I'd seen that clip yesterday, and then this morning, when I was out on my sunrise run, the song came up in a "Daily Mix" Spotify had made for me, which I was listening to shuffled:

March 15, 2024

Sunrise — 7:03.

IMG_5639 2

"New York prosecutors said Friday that they expect to get an additional 15,000 pages of potential evidence in Donald Trump’s hush money case...."

"[F]ederal prosecutors previously investigated much of the same conduct that became the basis for Bragg’s office to charge Trump last year with violating state laws on business records. Trump is accused of scheming to cover up his payment of hush money in 2016 to hide from the public an alleged sexual liaison years earlier with an adult-film actress. Lawyers for Trump... have accused prosecutors of deliberately withholding reams of such documents until the last minute before the scheduled March 25 trial. In recent days, federal prosecutors turned over more than 100,000 pages of documents...."

WaPo reports.

For one reason or another, every one of these criminal cases against Trump is getting delayed:

"[Michael] Imperioli... shouted at another, 'Go back to drama school!' But [Jeremy] Strong, remaining in character, said, 'Let them speak.'"

From "Climate activists halt Jeremy Strong, Michael Imperioli Broadway play ‘An Enemy of the People’ mid-show" (NY Post).
Because the second half of Henrik Ibsen’s play begins at a raucous town meeting, concerns poisoned water and, in this production, already involves audience participation, many in the theater believed the shouters were a part of the show.

One audience member, Ashley Wolfgang, wrote on X, “You know you’ve seen too much experimental theatre when you immediately assume climate protestors in the middle of ‘Enemy of the People’ is part of it.”

Yeah, I've seen plays where someone sitting in the audience starts talking, seemingly interrupting the actors, and it's part of the show. 

You can see video of the disruption, here, at Reddit.

I usually decline to blog about these protests that leverage art to get attention. I'm blogging this because of the way the actors — 2 actors I greatly respect — rose to the occasion and stayed in character and used their own brute strength to oust the asshole. Michael Imperioli (Christopher from "The Sopranos") is 57 years old. Good for him! He took the lead. Jeremy Strong (Kendall from "Succession") is 45. Look how vulnerable they are to random jerks. Where was security?!

"Small clips of his craziness can be too easily dismissed as the background noise of our times."

"The condemnation of his critics, up to and including the current President, can sound shrill or simply partisan. The fact checks, while appalling, never stop the demagogue for whom the 'bottomless Pinocchio' was invented... In the next few months, the Biden campaign and its allies plan to spend close to a billion dollars attempting to persuade Americans not to make the historic mistake of electing Trump twice. My thought is a simpler and definitely cheaper one: watch his speeches. Share them widely. Don’t look away."

Writes Susan B. Glasser, in "I Listened to Trump’s Rambling, Unhinged, Vituperative Georgia Rally—and So Should You/The ex-President is building a whole new edifice of lies for 2024" (The New Yorker).

Below is the speech Glasser watched in full. I've watched it. It's a standard Trump rally speech. Is Trump "vituperative"? Why not "fiery" or "feisty" (the words used to describe Biden's loud, angry SOTU)? Is he "rambling" and "unhinged" or a marvel of stamina and spontaneity? But Glasser is convinced — or poses as convinced — that watching the whole 2 hours will persuade voters who might vote for Trump that he's as awful at Trump haters insist he is:

"Judge Says Fani Willis Can Stay on Trump Case, but Only if Former Romantic Partner Leaves."

The NYT reports. 

The ruling by Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton Superior Court cut a middle path between removing Ms. Willis for a conflict of interest, which defense lawyers had sought, and her full vindication, with the judge sharply criticizing her behavior....

Judge McAfee said that no “disqualification of a constitutional officer necessary when a less drastic and sufficiently remedial option is available.”... Either “the District Attorney may choose to step aside, along with the whole of her office” or “Wade can withdraw” allowing the case to proceed without further distraction....

Mr. Trump and his co-defendants could appeal the judge’s ruling, as could Ms. Willis, further delaying the proceedings and leaving the matter unresolved indefinitely. ...

ADDED: Here's the text of the opinion.

"Every right that the government has ever taken away from citizens was removed under the pretense of national security."

"My father's favorite philosopher, Albert Camus, wrote that the welfare of the people is always the alibi of tyrants and it provides further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a clear conscience.... People love TikTok. It's the digital public square. If there are security concerns in the tech backend, let's address them there, but let's never reduce Americans' ability to freely exchange ideas. TikTok has become an avenue for young Americans to grow businesses, to express themselves, and to join the political discourse.... President Biden enjoys censoring and silencing those who dare question him. I know that because I just won a case in the court of appeals on that issue against him. So it's no surprise that he supports banning TikTok. The First Amendment should not be disregarded for any reason...."

Says RFK Jr., on TikTok:

"Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities."

That's from "Statement from President Joe Biden on Nex Benedict" at the White House website.

A young person committed suicide, and the President has responded. 

I just want to add that if something is a right, you have it. You don't just "deserve to have" it. Your rights may be violated and you may choose not to exercise your rights, but you still have those rights.

Here's the one other post on this blog that's about Nex Benedict, a teenager who got into a fight at school and who many people believed had died as a result of that fight. 

March 14, 2024

At the Controlled Burn Café...

... you can write about whatever you want.

A reason — other than the sunrise — to take a walk in the woods at sunrise.

Golden hour photograph (7:22 a.m. (sunrise time was 7:13)):


Midday photograph (12:46 p.m.):


"These attacks against an individual’s right to make decisions about their own body are outrageous and, in many instances, just plain old immoral."

"How dare these elected leaders believe they are in a better position to tell women what they need, to tell women what is in their best interest. We have to be a nation that trusts women."

Too early to call the election?

"Less than two weeks before Donald J. Trump is set to go on trial on criminal charges in Manhattan, the prosecutors who brought the case proposed a delay of up to 30 days..."

"... a startling development in the first prosecution of a former American president. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which accused Mr. Trump of covering up a sex scandal during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, said the delay would give Mr. Trump’s lawyers time to review a new batch of records. The office sought the records more than a year ago, but only recently received them from federal prosecutors, who years ago investigated the hush-money payments at the center of the case...."

"The judge presiding over the classified documents case in Florida denied Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss charges based on unconstitutional vagueness...."

"'Although the Motion raises various arguments warranting serious consideration, the Court ultimately determines, following lengthy oral argument, that resolution of the overall question presented depends too greatly on contested instructional questions about still-fluctuating definitions of statutory terms/phrases as charged,” [Judge Aileen] Cannon wrote. Cannon noted in her denial that the issue of the potential vagueness of the statue would be better brought 'with jury-instruction briefing and/or other appropriate motions' instead of in Trump’s motion to dismiss charges. Cannon has not ruled on Trump’s motion to dismiss based on his argument that he had the authority as president to declare documents as his 'personal' records – or on any of his other motions to dismiss the case."

CNN reports.

"Tara McGovern, a transgender musician who was arrested last fall after protesting a speaker on the University of Iowa campus, was acquitted Wednesday..."

"... of charges that they contended went to the heart of the constitutional right to assemble.... University police claimed the protesters were 'chanting and constantly trying to walk in the street in front of the vehicles … preventing them from driving away,' as a detective wrote in his report.... McGovern, 45, insisted they didn’t break the law during the demonstration against Chloe Cole, the speaker who once identified as transgender and now opposes gender-affirming care for minors.... The charges filed against McGovern included interference with official acts and disorderly conduct obstructing streets, the more serious of the two misdemeanors...."

"You’re not leaning toward anyone? Because...."/"I'm leaning away...."

"In recent months, Mr. Kennedy and his camp have approached at least a half-dozen people... to gauge their interest in serving as his running mate."

"Aside from [Aaron] Rodgers and [Jesse] Ventura, he is said to have spoken with former Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky; and Andrew Yang, the former candidate for president and New York mayor, the two people familiar with the discussions said.... All have turned him down, or their conversations have not advanced, except for Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Ventura, the people familiar with the discussions said. If anything could be interpreted as a hint of where Mr. Kennedy might lean, the domain name was registered last week using a GoDaddy host....

From "Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura Top R.F.K. Jr.’s List for Running Mate/Mr. Kennedy said he had been speaking with the Jets quarterback 'pretty continuously' for the past month" (NYT).

"Selling TikTok to a big tech company such as Google, Meta or Microsoft — after all, who else could afford its estimated price of $84 billion? — would not make U.S. users’ data more secure."

"In fact, it would simply give the tech giant buying it a new trove of information about all of us that the new owner could use to enhance its already astoundingly detailed portraits. Right now, for example, Google has most of my email, my documents, my web-browsing behavior and my search queries. The videos I watch on TikTok are, in fact, among the few things it doesn’t have. Adding those videos would add valuable new data to its dossier on me and allow it to monetize it with advertisers, data brokers and anyone else that uses its self-service online advertising platforms and services."

Writes Julia Angwin, in "TikTok Could Disappear but the Problems It Poses Remain" (NYT).


Must everything be declared — in advance — "history"?

What is the history? That anyone is acting out on the notion that an abortion clinic is a good campaign photo op?

"I made a joke and said, ‘We have to quit talking like this. I can barely type through the tears.'"

"She typed back: 'Well, I have Kleenex and margaritas. By Google Maps, you live 34 minutes from here.' 'When she opened the door, I said, "How about a hug for an old friend"... And she hugged me. And I gotta tell you, that hug alone was kind of like putting an electric blanket on high around me.'... They remarried... Why? 'To right an old wrong,' [she said], 'I say this to him over and over again, how incredibly rare it is to have a chance to right a wrong. To have a chance to have a redo is just nothing short of a miracle.'"

From "They Married, Divorced and Then Married Their Ex-Spouses Again/Five couples share how and why they decided to reconcile and tie the knot again" (NYT)(free access link).

From the comments over there: "I have never forgiven our parents for divorcing while we children were teenagers — because years later they got back together again and eventually remarried. They put us kids through a lot, and apparently it was completely unnecessary. It's unfashionable for couples to 'stay together for the sake of the children,' but absent abuse, I wish more would consider it."

"One day I opened my eyes from a deep sleep and looked around for something, anything, familiar. Everywhere I looked was all very strange."

"Little did I know that each new day my life was unavoidably set on a path that would become unimaginably strange and more challenging."

"We’ve seen many people through the end of life. It’s never dramatic, like Snagglepuss..."

"... staggering around onstage clutching his throat. It can be rough, and then one slips over gently to whatever awaits. My old pastor told me it is like going to bed on the living room floor and waking up in your own bed."

Writes Anne Lamott, in "Age is giving me the two best gifts: Softness and illumination" (WaPo).

The pastor's remark calls to mind Percy Shelley's "Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats":
Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep,
He hath awaken'd from the dream of life;
'Tis we, who lost in stormy visions, keep
With phantoms an unprofitable strife....
As for Snagglepuss... I'm old enough to get the reference, and I thought it would be easy to find a YouTube clip of the ham-actor lion on stage overdoing a death scene. I began to suspect that YouTube was censoring death. I don't know. I did find this collection of bad actors dying:

ADDED: Maybe Snagglepuss is an up-to-date reference. I see that he was reenvisioned in 2018 by DC Comics as a gay playwright in "The Snagglepuss Chronicles: The Need to Enter Stage Right":

March 13, 2024

Sunrise — 7:12, 7:14.



"Across most of the battleground states, President Biden’s re-election campaign is trailed by worrisome polling, gripes about a slow ramp-up..."

"... and Democratic calls to show more urgency to the threat posed by former President Donald J. Trump. Then there is Wisconsin. Mr. Biden — who was set to travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday to visit his state campaign headquarters — did not have to rev up a re-election apparatus in Wisconsin. Local Democrats never shut down a vaunted organizing network they built for the 2020 presidential campaign and maintained through the 2022 midterm elections and a 2023 State Supreme Court contest...."

I'm reading "Trailing Trump in Polls, Biden Can Be More Bullish in One Battleground/The president faces lagging energy in many key states. But in Wisconsin, which he will visit on Wednesday, rolling clashes over abortion rights and democracy have kept Democratic voters fired up" (NYT).

Another visit by Biden to the campaign headquarters in Milwaukee. When does he interface with the people? 

"The House overwhelmingly passed a measure Wednesday to force TikTok to split from its parent company or face a national ban, a lightning offensive that materialized abruptly..."

"... after years of unsuccessful negotiations over the platform’s fate. The legislation, approved 352 to 65 with 1 voting present, is a sweeping bipartisan rebuke of the popular video-sharing app — and an attempt to grapple with allegations that its China-based parent, ByteDance, presents national security risks. The House effort gained momentum last week after President Biden said he would sign the bill if Congress passed it.  But its fate now rests in the Senate, where some lawmakers have expressed concern it may run afoul of the Constitution by infringing on millions of Americans’ rights to free expression and by explicitly targeting a business operating in the United States.... Biden and his campaign opponent, former president Donald Trump, have taken conflicting public stances on the matter, with Biden endorsing it and Trump speaking out against the prospect of a ban."

WaPo reports.

Here's a WaPo article from yesterday about "Why Trump is now against a TikTok ban."

"They coerced her into carving their screen names deep into her thigh, drinking from a toilet bowl and beheading a pet hamster..."

"... all as they watched in a video chatroom on the social media platform Discord. The pressure escalated until she faced one final demand: to kill herself on camera. 'You just don’t realize how quickly it can happen,' said the mother, who intervened before her daughter could act on the final demand.... Unlike many 'sextortion' schemes that seek money or increasingly graphic images, these perpetrators are chasing notoriety in a community that glorifies cruelty...."

From "On popular online platforms, predatory groups coerce children into self-harm/Vulnerable teens are blackmailed into degrading and violent acts by abusers who then boast about it" (WaPo).

"In a surprise move on Wednesday, a judge in Atlanta quashed six of the charges against former President Donald J. Trump and his allies..."

"... in the sprawling Georgia election interference case, including one related to a call that Mr. Trump made to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state in early January 2021...."

From "Judge Quashes Six Charges in Georgia Election Case Against Trump/The ruling said charges that Donald Trump and allies solicited public officials to break the law were not specific enough; it left the rest of the case intact" (NYT)(free access link).
“These six counts contain all the essential elements of the crimes but fail to allege sufficient detail regarding the nature of their commission,” Judge McAfee wrote in his ruling. “They do not give the Defendants enough information to prepare their defenses intelligently, as the Defendants could have violated the Constitution and thus the statute in dozens, if not hundreds, of distinct ways.”...

 Read the full text of the judge's order here.


"No, not dickwads — although, I hear you — but dinkwads: the acronym for 'dual income, no kids, with a dog,' a designation going viral on a social media site near you.... I am particularly fond of @MattAndOmar jumping for joy in their pants, waving their pooch’s little arms: 'When we remember we’ll be a dinkwad household forever.' Terence and I jump for joy in our pants all the time. And nothing wobbles, because I am a child-free adventuress, taut of thigh and upstanding of breast, and my beloved is a 6ft 4in man-god with all his own hair and a backside as tight as a walnut. He tosses his hair as we dance, and I toss mine, and Pimlico, our media whippet, tosses hers, and we laugh as only child-free lifestyle gurus can laugh — musically, like the tinkling of so many wind chimes...."

The "dinkwads" slang I can absorb, but what's up with that "in their/our pants"?

"It feels like you’re almost handling it badly in an impressive way at this point."

Biden and Trump clinched the nominations last night and Elon Musk posted this video of Joe Rogan more or less endorsing Trump:

Meanwhile, "Neil Young says he's returning to Spotify , 2 years after exit over Joe Rogan."

Old man, look at my life....

March 12, 2024

Sunrise — 7:14, 7:14, 7:15.




"To make 'thoughtfulness' a requirement of any universal right is to taper that right into an exclusive privilege."

"That trans kids’ access to care will in most cases be mediated by parents or legal guardians is an inescapable fact of the way our society regards children, rightly or not. For now, parents must learn to treat their kids as what they are: human beings capable of freedom. The freedom of sex does not promise happiness. Nor should it. It is good and right for advocates to fight back against the liberal fixation on the health risks of sex-changing care or the looming possibility of detransition. But it is also true that where there is freedom, there will always be regret. In fact, there cannot be regret without freedom. Regret is freedom projected into the past. So it is one thing to regret the outcome of a decision, but it is a very different thing to regret the freedom to decide, which most people would not trade for the world. If we are to recognize the rights of trans kids, we will also have to accept that, like us, they have a right to the hazards of their own free will. This does not mean shooting testosterone into every toddler who looks at a football. But if children are too young to consent to puberty blockers, then they are definitely too young to consent to puberty, which is a drastic biological upheaval in its own right...."

Note the suggestion that puberty is nature's sexual assault upon the child. The author doesn't quite say that, but she put the thought into my head. It would prove too much though. We wouldn't ask whether any given children can consent to take puberty blockers; we would ask whether all children should be required to take puberty blockers.

Also in this article is an acronym I'm seeing for the first time: TARL. This is a "trans-agnostic reactionary liberal":

David Sedaris is such a great talk-show guest.

Here he's talking about a children's book he spent about 5 minutes writing:

"Kids — they can be nice and stuff, but I don't think they're that bright.... It can't be that hard."

He says his parents never read to him when he was a child. Mine didn't either. Sedaris's parents put the kids to bed with "2 words: 'Shut up.'"

The book's illustrator is Ian Falconer, famous for the "Olivia" books, who died last year, as Sedaris mentions, in a set up to a remark that only he could make.

Falconer is quoted in his NYT obituary: "If I had to say one thing, it would be to not underestimate your audience. Children will figure things out; it’s what they do best — sorting out the world."

You know who did not underestimate his audience? David Sedaris, when he told that joke about Falconer on the late-night talk show.

The best satire of the Oscars that I've seen.

Below the line, because it's TikTok...

"The judge later tried... to argue that the jury 'implicitly' found Trump liable for rape...."

"The transparency of the pants..."

"... quickly became an online sensation.... 'Whenever I’m nervous public speaking I just pretend people in the audience are wearing Fanatics baseball pants,' another person joked. The problems with M.L.B.’s new uniforms extend beyond the lewd pants. The league signed a 10-year, $1 billion deal with Nike and Fanatics for the design and manufacture of its uniforms in 2020, but it was only this year that the uniforms underwent a considerable redesign, with... revamped fabric..... Daniel Bard, a relief pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, said in a telephone interview that when he first joined the league in 2009, the uniform he was given was the nicest one he had ever worn. 'You could literally get it perfectly tailored to your body.... They were pretty damn near perfect. Not anymore. It’s a different material. It’s not as soft.... They look funny — too small and too curved.... None of the players asked for this....'"

From "See-Through Baseball Pants Have Fans, and Brands, Pointing Fingers/A redesign of M.L.B.’s uniforms has put Fanatics and Nike at the center of a debate about performance versus quality in sportswear" (NYT).

March 11, 2024

Sunrise — 7:10.


"Where have all the emus gone? We have about a quarter as many as we did two decades ago..."

"... new data shows. Llamas and ostriches plunged even more precipitously. Meanwhile, the bankable animal superstars you grew up Seeing ’N Saying on Fisher Price toys — think chickens, cows, pigs and turkeys — haven’t lost a step. What happened to our loony livestock?..."

Asks Andrew Van Dam, in "The great American llama (and ostrich and emu) collapse" (WaPo).

Did any of you "invest" in wacky animals?

As in any investment strategy shaped like a pyramid, exotic livestock schemes rely not on selling animal products like milk, eggs, wool, meat or leather, but on selling the animals themselves to a new sucker.... [T]he classic mark for these dubious investments probably would have been a couple who had just retired or moved to the country and had a few extra acres burning a hole in their pockets.... During the boom years... every month as cadres of savvy bird brokers would spot new money the instant they walked in and bid up prices accordingly.... More dumb money flowed in as friends and neighbors worried about missing out on the ostrich-and-emu game.... [F]resh rounds of new rural residents [would] convince themselves it made sense to pay $40,000 for an emu....

ADDED: Is it true that the stress was on selling the animals and not on the products that could be made from them? I seem to remember the touting of emu meat. Here, there's this from 1992 in the NYT: "Emus and Ostriches Studied as Future Food":
"There is a huge market for ostrich hides, feathers and meat," said Dr. Kenneth Page, an avian venterinarian who has been working with Georgia's rapidly growing ostrich and emu industry for more than a year. It is $100 million to $200 million-a-year industry.

"The meat is red and it tastes just like steak, but it doesn't have any cholesterol," Dr. Page said. "In California, especially, it is becoming the new yuppie food." Ostrich and emu meat is also higher in protein and lower in fat than beef, he said....

And it wasn't just the seemingly amazing meat:

Ostrich feathers are used in the clothing industry and their hides are used for everything from billfolds to belts. "I like cowboy boots," Dr. Page said, "so I picked up a pair of those darn ostrich boots in October, for $695, and I understand that was a cheap pair."

Oil extracted from the emu, which is slightly smaller than an ostrich, standing close to six feet tall and weighing 110 to 115 pounds, can also be used as a pain reliever, its proponents say. Besides, said Charles F. Powell, the president of the Georgia Emu Association: "It's one of the best moisturizers on the market. When you put it on, it goes right down into your muscles without a greasy film or anything."

But there was still the worrisome news that the business had mostly to do with selling the birds (to suckers?):

[It] is essentially still a breeder's market. Because of the lucrative potential of the birds, nearly all are sold to people eager to raise ostriches or emus for themselves. A pair of mature breeding emus sell for $15,000 to $20,000, while an ostrich couple are close to $50,000....

"In the early days of online life, there were 'flame wars,' performatively absurd and vitriolic debates among the people who posted messages on various bulletin boards."

"These endless arguments prompted efforts to better moderate discussion. The resulting desire, on the part of posters, to depose the moderators, or 'mods,' has been a constant of the Internet’s existence ever since—on Usenet groups, on Reddit, and on every form of social media. Who are the mods? The big ones are establishment institutions that aim to govern and to regulate, to maintain credentials and decorum. The mainstream press, obviously, which includes me and my employer, is a mod, and we are the target of endless ire, often rightly. The academy—particularly its most élite schools, the Harvards and the Yales—is another mod. But the mods have been weakening for some time.... The mods do have supporters: 'normie' liberals and conservatives who still put a degree of faith in the expert and media classes and who want, more than anything, to restore some bright line of truth so that society can continue to function...."

Writes Jay Caspian Kang, in "Arguing Ourselves to Death/To a degree that we have yet to fully grasp, what rules our age is the ideology of the Internet" (The New Yorker).

The article title "Arguing Ourselves to Death" is a play on the book title, "Amusing Ourselves to Death." The book, by Neil Postman, came out in 1985, and mostly took aim at television.  

The article's subtitle reference to "the ideology of the Internet" is also inspired by "Amusing Ourselves to Death." There's this quote from the book:

"The male body is not a joke" — that was the joke, last night at the Oscars.

I understand the humor — I remember the streaking incident from 50 years ago — and I think John Cena played his part well, but I find the body very weird, so weird that I googled whether he was wearing some sort of nakedness body suit. Is that the male ideal these days? Swollen and devoid of hair? And he couldn't have side-stepped out barefoot? He needed Birkenstocks? 

Note: He was wearing panties.

March 10, 2024

At the Caution Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"In theory, the recent push for racial representation in elite America should have made the establishment more attuned to the concerns of nonwhite voters."

"But in practice, this push tended to treat representation and progressive politics as a package deal, making nonwhites with moderate-to-conservative views more exotic, not less — as mystifying, in a way, as any MAGA-hat-wearing white guy in a rural diner. Again, I’m part of that establishment, and I don’t want to pretend that I have my finger fully on the pulse of, say, blue-collar Hispanics who went for Biden in 2020 but now lean toward Trump.... But the first step to saving Biden’s re-election effort is to acknowledge the need for such an explanation — because unpopularity that you can’t fathom can still throw you out of office."

Ross Douthat is having a hard time explaining "Why It’s Hard to Explain Joe Biden’s Unpopularity" (NYT).

"There’s a part of me that doesn’t have anything to say, and so I try to festoon myself with things I think are interesting."

Said Jeremy Strong, quoted in "Jeremy Strong Isn’t Sure He Knows Who He Is" (NYT).

I put that quote in the post title because it had "festoon" and I'd just written "festoon" yesterday. A lot of people in the comments talked about "festoon," so I infer that you might want to talk about "festoon" again today.

The word began as a noun, and the original "festoon" was a garland of flowers. The etymology is "fest" (feast) plus the ending "-oon" (which is just an ending used way to make a noun). There are many words with "-oon," and I feel that a certain silliness is conveyed: balloon, cartoon, baboon, Brigadoon, doubloon, dragoon, lagoon, lampoon, maroon, harpoon, macaroon, pantaloon, saloon, saskatoon.... not to mention all the spoon and moon words and those outdated racial words quadroon and octoroon.

But the passage in the Jeremy Strong interview that I really wanted to highlight is this discussion of something in the book  "Diaries, 1898-1902," by Alma Mahler Werfel:

"People want to regain their agency, their sense of control, and do something to match their fears to their actions."

Said Chris Ellis, a U.S. Army colonel who researches the prepper movement, quoted in "US 'prepper' culture diversifies amid fear of disaster and political unrest" (Reuters).
Researchers say the number of preppers has doubled in size to about 20 million since 2017. Much of that growth is from minorities and people considered left-of-center politically, whose sense of insecurity was heightened by Donald Trump's 2016 election, the COVID-19 pandemic, more frequent extreme weather and the 2020 racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd.... 

"It can’t be. It can not be! If he is, he wins the election. You won’t be on this show anymore. He’ll come looking for me. You know, there’ll be things that happen that none of us can imagine...."

Said Robert De Niro, quoted in "Robert De Niro Goes Off on ‘Total Monster’ Trump and His Fans In Epic Rant on Bill Maher — Calls Him Every Name In The Book" (Mediaite).

Ironically, De Niro's rhetoric is quite similar to Trump's — predicting a decline that no one can imagine. We won't have a country anymore! 

"But I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates."

"The word negotiate is a courageous word. When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate."

Said Pope Francis, quoted in "Pope says Ukraine should have 'courage of the white flag' of negotiations" (Reuters).

"Snippets of speeches, impersonations, and other organic content involving Trump routinely rack up tens of millions of views on TikTok."

"Prominent MAGA figures, conservative comedians and other cultural commentators with large followings are highly active on TikTok, which has become one of the top sources of news for Gen Z.
The Nelk Boys, for example — hosts of a podcast Trump has appeared on twice — boast a staggering 4.6 million followers on TikTok...."

From "Inside Trump's TikTok flip-flop" (Axios)(looking into why Trump isn't against TikTok anymore).

"Saturday Night Live" satirizes Katie Britt and — wow! — it's Scarlett Johansson.

I don't know what the satire is, but the blast of feminine beauty is thrilling:

Katie Britt has become a larger-than-life icon.

Anyway. What is the satire here? "Republicans wanted me to appeal to women voters, and women love kitchens." And of course, it's funny to watch an excellent actress playing the role of a bad actress.

AND: What are some other examples of an excellent actor playing the role of a bad actor?

ALSO: I wondered how SNL would do this well since everyone was already reacting to the original as something that seemed like SNL, including me, the morning after the SOTU:

It's the old conundrum: How do you satirize something that is already self-satirizing? Is pre-self-satirizing possibly a good strategy? Could it explain Trump? Does it get at what makes a person choose the demeanor of a clown? Who can mock me when I am already perfectly ridiculous?