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Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people… – Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The term “keeping up with the Joneses” originated with Rebecca and Mary Jones (old money of 19th century New York’s high society and aunts of novelist Edith Wharton). In 1868 they ordered the…
Read the rest of Russell Koharchick’s excellent essay on keeping up with the Joneses and buying a busted old truck right here.
Los Angeles and New Haven, back and forth forever.
rental histories are back! thanks zan! <3 <3
Two days ago, I put all my almonds in a big glass jar so that I can always keep an eye on them. They used to be in an opaque burlap sack but I’ve found that storage method too exploitable by my enemies. With this new system, if I ever think there’s something fishy going on concerning my almonds, I…
One time I was sitting in an almost-empty café in Asbury Park, typing on my old laptop which has a “Fleetwood MacBook" decal on the back. I had headphones on. Two middle-aged guys in suits came into the café, got their lattes, and sat down a few tables away from me. After a few minutes I noticed…
Dawn, Edmund Hodgson Smart
would wear this to a hallowe’en party, a dance, around the house
I think I just choked on my ironic crucifix necklace with all the studs.
According to that Huffington Post (which…?), "Teens" aren’t interested in Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle or Aeropostale anymore. As in they don’t want to wear teen clothes anymore. They’re rebelling against it and…
This little guy is Harry, my parents’ kind and wonderful golden retriever. He died today at the age of 12, my mom petting his head and whispering to him about all the things he liked, reminding him how many people loved him, what a truly good, good dog he was.
I know I post too many schmaltzy sentimental things on this blog, but I felt like I wanted to say something, maybe just to myself, about what a sad day today was. And about how strange it is to know and love and lose a pet. I was in the room with my childhood dog Walter when he was put to sleep, my hand on his leg until he stopped breathing. I had just graduated from college and that day felt like some terrible rite of passage. I cried for the first time in years. I saw my dad cry for the first time ever. It was August too.
We got Harry in another August, of 2001, just before I was to pack up and head to college and leave my parents empty-nesters. The joke was that Harry was the replacement for me, and I don’t know, maybe there was some truth to that, but really he was for all of us. My mother and I drove to get him from the breeder’s house together, me down in Rhode Island for a rare weekend, so wrapped up in my friends and various dramas and intrigues in Boston as I was that summer. We didn’t know if we were definitely going to get a dog as we made our way there, or at least I didn’t, but the minute we saw Harry with his brothers and sisters, squirming around in their little outdoor pen, it became pretty clear what was happening.
We picked Harry because he was a funny little thing: He really liked to sit right in his water bowl. He had lots of other quirks, as all pets do, but the thing I will remember most about him was simply how gentle he was, how affectionate and, yes, even a little nudgey. He was scared of thunderstorms and doors left ajar, but he usually didn’t bark, instead he’d shrink away and come to you, cautious little guy, a big baby in the best way. And now, after all that life, he’s gone. It’s such an odd thing.
Louis CK has a funny, unbearably true bit about how getting a pet is basically saying “Well, here’s a really sad thing that’s going to happen in 10 years.” He’s right, but we still keep doing it. Because the having is worth the losing, I guess. Of course, we could look at all of life as an inevitably really sad thing, the potential for infinite really sad things is around us at all times. But, y’know, we still keep doing that too. So now I’m here on my couch, somehow 30 years old, crying by myself about a dog I knew, about how tricky and wonderful all of this can be.
People probably spend too much time fumbling and grabbing for the past, wanting to somehow wrestle it back into existence. But for now, today, I’m letting myself do it, boggled at how quickly and busily twelve years can go by, that I can still picture something so long ago so clearly in my head. My mother and I in the car, a nice summer day, just the two of us. I moved out of the house only a couple weeks later, so, from a certain perspective, this was one of the last moments of my childhood. How sad that seems now! But then it was just exciting. Racing down that pretty green road, on our way to get something new, yet another something else to pull close to us, the simple happiness of the moment blinding us, blessedly, to where it all ends.
My friend Larry turned my Jurassic Park / Dennis Nedry post into a trailer. Watch the bejeebus out of it.
TOWARDS A UNIFIED FIELD THEORY ON HOW THE INTERNET MAKES EVERYTHING TERRIBLE
I have nothing bad to say about Breaking Bad. I was completely gripped by Sunday night’s episode. I’ve watched it twice and enjoyed it more the second time. I think when the show concludes it is certain to go down as one of the great dramas in TV history. What quibbles I have with the show I recognize as just that - quibbles.
So why on Monday did the internet make me ashamed to have watched the show, much less to have liked it?
Part of the revulsion is no doubt due to some vestigial adolescent need to feel myself ahead of the crowd and just getting cranky when I find my tastes are actually not particularly unique or special.
But beyond that, I think there is something terrifying about the way the internet turns out for these events and cranks up the GIF, meme, Tweet and think piece machines like some sort of disembodied 4th of July parade. These moments carry a desperation with them; the logical conclusion of the Bowling Alone thing, where now living our lives glued to our individual screens cut off from actual human interaction, we are desperate to find ways to march together. I’ve noticed that these events- awards shows, series premieres, etc. are becoming bigger and bigger of group phenomenons. Super Bowl ratings have never been higher. The Grammies for chrissake inch upwards. We want to watch together. In our own homes, in front of our own multiple screens.
All to some extent harmless enough. If the world (or the upscale, urban sub-sub-subset of the world) can find some comfort in cheering on an episode of gritty drama together, then good for it for finding some in this cold machine driven world. But the downsides, as I see them are:• In our desperation to make a community out of watching an episode of a TV show, we pour more of our hopes and desires into that show than any hour of entertainment can bear. We meme the life out of whatever is original and striking about a work within minutes, overexposing it so much it becomes noxious. In olden times, it took years for enough VHS copies of Scarface to trickle back to frat houses so that every brother could do a passably awful Tony Montana imitation and make you wince when you heard the real thing. And in the mean time people could talk about the film, consider it, pass judgement and change their mind before the re-use of the film became this world devouring thing apart from the show itself. Today, “I’m the one who knocks” and “say my name” are reproduced in every form upside down and backwards literally before the show is even over and any hope of a quiet place to take it in is in vain.• The fancy media instead of calming the crowd, now only stokes the flames. Once they could have put things in perspective, but now they see their job as articulating the frenzy of the mob. What is the good of having a blog or a Twitter account if you’re going to be the only corner of this corner of the internet not enjoying the hooplah? And if you’re a professional reviewer and get screeners in advance you can actually get ahead of the mob by declaring an episode the best thing since Euripedes before anyone else has even watched it, and hope that your words are printed on banners in the parade.• Frenzied mobs, history has shown us, are not always just about fun, games and watching TV together. Now and then, they can have a dark side. Once we say this is all about us just piling on together for some kind of group ecstatic transformation, that can lead to all kinds of places, and I have noted in the past, Twitter’s less attractive tendency to transform into a lynch mob at the drop of a hat. Its hunger for fresh blood has not in the least abated.• Of late, its hunger has actually become an industry. Sharknado represents the internet now creating material for itself to mock. In olden times again, the camp fun of watching old disaster films was mocking the dead serious overacting and unintentionally hamfisted actions. Now at Twitter’s demand, networks are producing intentionally hamfisted and overacted pieces so the internet can tear them apart. They are even letting us - in a contest - pick the name that we find most mockable. So we pick the thing we most want to rip to shreds, like a school bully making a nerd dress up in the most ridiculous costume, so we can make fun of him for wearing it.What is the solution? Well, as America’s leading anti-First Amendment crusader I have advocated the power and dignity of shutting the hell up many times before. Short of that catching fire, we can pray the internet continues to be merely annoying and only sporadically dangerous. And short of that, networks that want their shows to be appreciated by the peoples and not just the subject of a mass spectacle should stop sending screeners to critics. That part of the conversation at least we can put a lid on.