“Ten days later I am at a Forever 21 in the worst city in the world trying to figure out what sunglasses most closely resemble Matthew Lillard’s in 1995’s Hackers when I get the email: I, a dumb slut, have been admitted to Mensa, a virginal organization created by English barristers for people who only want to hang out with other virgins. I make the decision immediately before purchasing my seven dollar spoils: I am going to ruin the Los Angeles Mensa chapter by dragging my dumb little ass around on their boring, elitist carpet if it’s the last thing I do. And so, to quote Lillard in that same frosty-tipped film, “I’m in. Whoa. I’m in.” Mensa has been hacked by an idiot, and now it is my cursed duty to investigate what goes on in the remains of what was once maybe possibly a trendy organization but currently stands in stunningly low membership and, as many fully erect commenters on message boards have postulated, ever-lowering standards for admission (hi, bitch). So what do you actually do once you’ve hacked into the mainframe of Mensa?” Jamie Loftus from “Good News, They Let Dumb Sluts into Mensa Now”
“Joel Miller, the friend who defended (Weird Al)Yankovic from college bullies, said the relationship between Weird Al and his hard-core fans is deeply personal. ‘He’s giving them validation,’ he told me. ‘They feel a kindred spirit. When they’re at his concerts, they are in a safe space. They are able to be stupid or outlandish or whatever, exactly as they want. And nobody judges them. In fact, it’s the opposite. People appreciate them for what they are, not for what they aren’t.’ The connection is so deep that it is more like a merging, and after a while it struck me that Weird Al has spent basically his whole life making his music for exactly these people, which is to say for his childhood self. For many decades, he has been trying to delight Alfred Yankovic, the bright, painfully shy kid who grew up alone in his tiny bedroom. For the benefit of that lonely boy, he reshaped the whole world of pop culture. His ridiculous music sent out a pulse, a signal, and these were the people it drew: the odd, the left out. A crowd of friends for that lonely kid. As I watched him with his fans, sometimes I felt as if Weird Al was multiplying all around me, multiplying inside of me. We were one crowd, united in isolation, together in a great collective loneliness that — once you recognized it, once you accepted it — felt right on the brink of being healed.” from “The Weirdly Enduring Appeal of Weird Al Yankovic” by Sam Anderson
“So while the grownups owned the night (prime time was for folks who bought things), the kids divvied up the rest: third-string musicals, dumb comedies, creaky melodramas and back-lot jungle flicks. The western was especially well represented in this B swarm. The moguls of discount Hollywood had been turning out hundreds of oat operas, most of them running five or six reels—an hour-ten each, give or take. These films had served in World War II, entertaining the troops in barracks and aboard ships all over the world. Westerns were perfect diversions: guy-friendly morality plays, easy on the cerebrum but full of fightin’, ridin’, and shootin’, with just a threat of chicken-fried humor. Good guys and bad guys were clearly marked: the guys in the white hats, like the USA, always won. After the war, the well-traveled reels found new homes Stateside, just in time for the you-know-what boom. My little pals and I parked it in front of the home screen and absorbed many kid-hours of chases, showdowns and punch-ups. It was largely boy-stuff, but my sister and her friends were fans as well. (We’ll cover the “a six-gun for Billy, a dolly for Sue” social model at another time, or never). ” Michael McKean
“Babies do not want to hear about babies; they like to be told of giants and castles, and of somewhat which can stretch and stimulate their little minds. When in answer I would urge the numerous editions and quick sale of Tommy Prudent or Goody Two Shoes: Remember always that the parents buy the books, and that the children never read them.” Dr. Johnson
There’s no rhyme nor reason to what follows because sometimes you just gotta get rid of stuff that’s been sitting around.
Was it something I said?
My younger years had a distinct break. Before I was 15 or so people used to tell me, “You weren’t invited because you’re a loser.” After that someone would invariably say, “You weren’t invited because people were afraid you’d say something.” Usually I’d ask, like what? To which they’d say, “You know very well what!” That left me no choice but to say, hey, it’s your paranoia not mine, how the hell would I know?
Which leads us to the email I received from someone named Enid, who lives in Provo, Utah. Enid said she’s been passing time in quarantine brushing up on her genealogy. She thought she’d reach out to let me know she’s my 41st cousin. Per her – our mutual ancestry goes back to some guy who was once a guard at The Tower of London.
For the sake of argument and to save time we’ll call him Norman Piltdown.
Years ago I would have said something along the lines of, “Did he do anything interesting like supervise Cromwell’s conjugal visits?”
Instead I sent Cousin E a brief email thanking her and hoping she was well.
Looking E’s profile it seems she’s just a little over a year older than I am which makes her one of only a scant handful of women born after WW2 who were named Enid. Looking at her original note I was overcome with the thought that I hope she goes by her middle name or a nickname like ‘Tammy” or ‘Suzie’ which was assigned to her for no damn good reason at all.
OK – other than being named Enid.
Some of you might ask, “Are you mellowing with age?”
My personal theory revolves around having been caught up in some emotionally and physically traumatic event that I have no memory of which sounds a whole lot cooler than just getting old.
Enid comes from my mother’s side of the family, who were all very, very tight lipped about their pasts. By the age of 20 I decided that if they didn’t want to talk I had no choice but to give them all a backstory. In this case I have decided that Grampy Piltdown did supervise Cromwell’s conjugal visits. In his later years he was something of a dirty old man who endless pelted his coworkers and the passersby with vulgar jokes about “inspecting the crown jewels.”
And Now a Virus Free Musical Interlude
1. For those of you just tuning in, Alaska Wolf Joe’s institution of corrosive nihilism, which is hellbent on turning against us while being a wellspring of cultural Marxism, disbanded due to the bug. That means he’s taken to fomenting revolution from his room. In turn, he’s also subject to our once-a-week quarantine grocery runs which can be hit-or-miss.
The house brand? Shitty paper towels? A size larger or smaller than what we usually get? Frozen vs fresh?
I’ve come to think of making due as Fallout Shelter Cooking.
2. Riddle me this, Batman.
WTF is this?
Since I think that “gun” is nothing more than a word in the dictionary maybe one of you well-armed folks can help me out here.
Is this some sort of COSTCO thing I wouldn’t understand? Meant for someone whose hand shakes? Necessary for someone who loves to hunt but has all the deadly aim of Elmer Fudd?
3. Every time I look at IFC they’re running a Hogan’s Heroes marathon.
Did somebody lose a bet?
4. Interesting item from the shank end of last week – “Is the Virus on My Clothes?” As pointed out in the article – it’s a mini-lesson in aerodynamics. It was all the more interesting as someone on NextDoor related the tale of how her daughter goes through an rigorous, personal decontamination process every time she comes home from Target.
YMMV because NextDoor.
If you’re not familiar with NextDoor here’s a short video primer.
5. Yesterday there was a worldwide concert featuring no end of famous names. This morning Seattle’s NBC affiliate ran a story which mentioned many of the performers, but neglected to mention the local kid.
“Boy the way Glen Miller played, songs that made The Hit Parade”
As a public service we’d like to remind you that there’s an election going on.
In a follow-up study, citizens were exposed to a variety of things—celebrities, snacks, movie franchises, corporate logos, cultural attitudes, and more—only one of which they were familiar with. The study found that 100 percent of those surveyed immediately smiled, pointed at the only thing in the group they recognized, and said, “That one.”
“I don’t like new things unless the new thing is a lot like an old thing,” said Phoenix resident Jennifer Alvarez, 54, explaining that she likes it when someone takes a thing she already enjoys and makes a newer version of it that is almost identical to the original thing. “When a new thing isn’t like any old things, I don’t like it at all.”
“If a few old things are put together to make a new thing, that’s good, though,” Alvarez added. “I like things like that.”
At press time, Americans appeared pleased when told that everyone would continue to make and do things they were already familiar with for the foreseeable future.
If that doesn’t explain Joe Biden I don’t know what does.
Moving along –
The original Pitchfork article revolves around the neuroscience as to why your brain doesn’t want to seek out new music. Supposedly, what you like is what you hear first and that’s what sticks with you which I supposed is fine unless you came of age in the 1970s. If you had achieved some level of awareness by 1970 or so you were then subjected to Gilbert O’Sullivan, disco, fern-bar Boz Skaggs, dumbed-down Fleetwood Mac, or the many hours of listening to the once interesting Steve Miller phone it in. It created a body of music that was not only hardwired to our brains, but to our lower intestinal tract as well. Any given song was less likely to invoke a warm and fuzzy feeling than it was to spark a major bout of acid indigestion.
Make no mistake, if rock and pop had a discount factory-outlet phase it was the 1970s.
This leads to something I failed to mention in the last post.
Somewhere around 1980 there was an opinion piece in Melody Maker c. 1980-81 which put forth the idea that The Eagles were the progenitors of punk. The author of the piece moved forward from the idea that at some point around 1973 or 1974 we’d experienced one too many peaceful easy feelings and it was time for an allergic reaction. While a novel idea it didn’t take into account the larger view which would include Warren Zevon and Tom Waits. Over the course of the decade they wrote songs about warm beer, cold women, lawyers, guns, money, and coming home to a refrigerator full of science experiments. That would lead one to believe that they were the decade’s first insensitive singer-songwriters who followed many who were dubbed as “mellow” and in touch with their feelings like this Nosy Nate.
In closing may I just say, Prine?
You fucking useless sickness!
Steve Goodman’s biographer lives in the neighborhood. Per him, this addition to “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” by David Allan Coe is pure bullshit.
Well, a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song and he told me it was the perfect country & western song. I wrote him back a letter and I told him it was not the perfect country & western song because he hadn’t said anything at all about mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin’ drunk. Well he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me
and after reading it I realized that my friend had written the perfect country & western song and I felt obliged to include it on this album
The last verse goes like this here:
Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison, and I went to pick her up in the rain, But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck, She got run over by a damned old train!
Interestingly enough, Mr. Prine departs the planet leaving even more questions as to the real lyrics of that song.