Friday, May 27, 2011

Who invented the high five? [UPDATED x2]

(via this, via that)

So when I posted this, just recently, I originally included a screenshot [since removed, for reasons that will become clear momentarily] showing that some guy on Twitter (with way more followers than I have) had posted a word-for-word, verbatim, identical version* of a tweet I had written three months earlier (reprinted here, too)—and had more "favs" and "retweets" for it than I did, by the way, which was a little annoying, but whatever: that's neither here nor there. Actually, the person in question had pretty clearly written plenty of original stuff, too, and I didn't assume he had deliberately stolen it: I assumed that he had seen it, that he had forgotten that he had seen it, and that he then had thought it was something he had thought of himself.

Here's the thing: after I put it up, I thought, "Word-for-word identical jokes seem unlikely, especially in relatively quick succession, but what is likelier than our having come up with it independently is that we both are unknowingly copying a third party." Since I'm terrified of inadvertently being a hypocrite, I poked around Google more carefully [NOTE: I gather, by comparison, that I'm actually somehow a terrible Googler] and found this—a slightly different wording of the same joke from less than a week before mine. Now, I don't follow this other guy on Twitter, nor do I follow any of the people who retweeted that tweet, so I think it's less likely that I saw his than that I saw whatever he saw...but it makes no difference at all. I swear that I did not knowingly copy that joke—I thought I thought of it on my own—but (a) I can't very well take much credit for it knowing that someone else on the same platform made the same joke days earlier, and especially (b) I can't give anyone else shit for having "stolen" "my" joke. And...honestly, it pains me to bring this up, pain really being the right word, but this actually even happened once before, to my knowledge. Can it really be that I'm Robin Williamsing (or Carlos Menciaing) without even realizing it? [UPDATE: Incredible relief! I actually made that same joke myself before the other guy (who follows me) did! A little embarrassing that I'm making the same joke repeatedly, but at least that's one less piece of evidence that I'm a goddamned thief.]

I'm not really exaggerating when I say this is terrifying to me. It's the sort of thing that can paralyze you and make you never try to make a joke again, for fear of unwitting plagiarism. I think I can come around to a place where I'm like, "Dude: you're being too much a purist about this. You're treating originality as some kind of holy, sacred thing. Embrace imperfection. You can't be held responsible for that which is outside of your control" (In this place I think I'm going to get to, I'm kind of a hippie, huh?) But in the meantime—fuck.

My nightmare is the thing that kept Paul McCartney from finishing "Yesterday" for a long time: he was convinced he must have heard the melody somewhere before. But maybe the real moral of that story isn't that, "Nope, he really did just make it up himself, turns out!" but rather that maybe there is something out there with at least a similar melody that was actually what gave him the idea, and the connection just wasn't clear enough that anybody ever complained. [No, probably he just wrote a killer melody. By the way, I tweeted something about an element of that story and, six(?) days later, they did something about that same thing on Jimmy Fallon.† Does that mean somebody read my tweet and was inspired, since McCartney was going on there? Does it mean that the Fallon writers and I both were reminded of that story by something else that was "out there" around the same time? Or—well, totally independent thoughts about the same not particularly obscure story about the most famous band of all time aren't exactly an unthinkable explanation. IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm not saying Fallon ripped me off. I mean, if somebody wants to send me a check, I won't tear it up or anything. But I don't really think that, because—see this whole post.]

Anyway, just goes to underline that I don't think Bridesmaids can fairly be given shit for the "Hold On" thing [see again]. Just, again—if you liked that scene in Bridesmaids and have any inclination to look down on the other movie, think twice, is all. That's all I was fucking saying! (And if someone said exactly the same thing already, well...then fuck me, I guess.)

(via this, via that)

[UPDATE: Not to imply that all this is relative and there are no clear-cut, open-shut cases. This, for example, cannot be possibly accidental (Cf.): the high-five thing is a pretty simple joke that more than one person could arrive at, but the verbatim recreation, punctuation and all, of a complex thought where the humor derives primarily in the phrasing...? That motherfucker cut-and-pasted, beyond a shadow of a doubt. The good news is, he'll spend eternity burning in Hell. So...]

* Redundant. –ed.

† Interesting grammar question: when you referred to the old Tonight Show as "Johnny Carson," was that an abbreviation of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson? I submit that, no, it isn't: it's almost more a kind of synecdoche or metonymy (you could kind of go either way). As such, no italics! I DECREE!

That Wilson Phillips joke. [UPDATED]

[Googled this before hitting "PUBLISH POST" and found it's already been covered. But what the hell.]

Oh, my God. I rewatched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (yes), and it's true: the Wilson Phillips scene in Bridesmaids and the Wilson Phillips scene in Harold and Kumar? INADEQUATELY DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER. I mean, sure, you could make similar jokes about more or less the same thing, but what was funny about the thing in Bridesmaids is not substantively different from what is funny about the thing in Harold and Kumar: more than one of what you could call the intricate moving parts of what you could call this comedic mechanism are flat-out identical.

I want to be totally clear about this here: I am not saying any of this to shit on Bridesmaids, which I really think is an excellent and not-overrated comedy. Frankly, I've become slightly less of a purist about how OK it is for a comedian to do another version of something funny that another comedian has already done. Joke theft is not OK, but this is just short of that, I think—really it's no more and no less than just different excellent comedians doing a version of the same joke (minus part of the original, honestly)—and in fact all I really want here is for people who went nuts over how brilliant a comedy Bridesmaids is to respect Harold and Kumar and not treat it like comedy junk food. (Is that unfair? Am I wrong to think that a certain important kind of Bridesmaids triumphalist would view Bridesmaids as somehow superior to Harold and Kumar? I could be totally wrong about this.)

Anyway: Like the comedy in Bridesmaids? Respect the comedy in Harold and Kumar, because obviously the Bridesmaids people do. PEACE OUT.

[see also]

Hey, everybody: words have spellings!

I may be wrong about this, but—in this ad, the joke, which at first I thought might be spiritually related to that dumb "Good afternoont!" business on Tyler Perry posters lately (not actually "dumb": I just haven't seen the movies and don't get the reference*), is pretty clearly that they're replacing the last syllable of November with the sound people make when they're cold. Right? Since this is a movie about penguins?

Only thing: "BURR"? Again, maybe I'm just not getting the joke†—I really wanted to see the first one and haven't gotten the chance yet!‡—but the correct spelling of the sound you make when you're cold is not burr but brrr.

Yes: "the correct spelling." I say "the correct spelling" because (a) I have lived in this society, speaking English, for decades, and read, and therefore have a working knowledge of the standard spelling of many of our English words, and (b) I confirmed this in the dictionary:

Apple's dictionary widget (Oxford American Dictionaries)

Also, Google (those refrigerator guys know what's up)


Again, maybe the "burr" in "Novemburr" isn't even supposed to be an "I'm cold" sound and I'm attacking what is essentially an intellectual mirage. But at this point I don't care because now I want to talk about a larger issue (which actually I think I probably have complained about before):

Thinking that because a word is slang or "casual" it can be spelled however the hell you want drives me nuts. Partly I think it drives me nuts because in a somewhat counterintuitive or circuitous way it registers as snobbery: somehow these are not "real" words (intellectually congruous offenses—to this, not as much to each other—here and the first full ¶ here). It also drives me nuts because... well, there's like a 10–15% chance that I'm just making this up, but I'm pretty sure that the dictionary is something that first came about as an attempt to standardize the spellings of things, and this sort of thing (also, yea for yeah, ya'll for y'all, gonna' for gonna, etc.) feels like devolution, a backsliding. If there's one thing that does not need democratization, it's spelling. If there's two things, it's spelling and, like, car parts. If my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, I don't want the mechanic to be like, "Shit, this is one of those Southern California cars. I have no clue how to fix it." And if I want to communicate with another English speaker, I don't want to be like, "Well, I know what this word means to me, but Lord knows how you're using it!"

[Or—I don't know. I guess that's a kind of rationalization, or ex post facto reasoning. The real source of my frustration is probably that, in this world, I think the question of the objective versus the subjective, the absolute versus the relative, order versus chaos, is an important one, since I feel like it's in the pre-med program to the medical school of ethics and morality. And so the willy-nilly blurring of objective–subjective lines probably provokes an overreaction in me.
    I mean, frankly, most things are relative, I think—or at least incredibly difficult to nail down as absolute. As such, when you find things that are absolute—usually a function of defined terms, such as, "If we agree that two parallel lines BY DEFINITION can never under any circumstance meet, then it is in fact objectively wrong (and not a matter of opinion) to say that two parallel lines are maybe going to meet"—I'm touchy about acting like it's anybody's guess. In other words, trash the starting point—say, "Well, I don't agree that two parallel lines ever meet!"—but don't agree to that and then act like it doesn't make a difference.
    I feel like when a major motion picture is coming out, a big-budget Hollywood release, there's some reason to treat spelling as a settled, agreed-upon issue,§ some reason to say, "OK, in the English-speaking America, spelling has been more or less standardized, so, where standardized, let's stick to the standards." Acting like there is no standard spelling of slang words registers to me as a kind of backdoor assault on the very concept on shared language and, in turn, on whatever chance we have in this godless world for morality.
     OK, I may be overreaching just a little. It may just be that I feel about misspellings the way a lot of Americans might feel if they heard me say, "Wait, how many rounds are there in a basedball match?"**]

* Still dumb.

† Although I did just Google "happy feet burr" and all that came up was that Ty Burr of gave the DVD an "A-."

‡ No.

§ Unless the spelling is being changed to make a joke or something, obviously: I'm not objecting to the "misspelling" of November because the whole joke is to alter the last syllable. But I defy you to explain to me how (if it's true that burr =  brrr, which, again, I'm not sure it is, but if it is) Novemburr as opposed to Novembrrr is itself a kind of joke. [I wouldn't object as much to "Novemberrr," even. Why the U? A conscious choice, you really think? Or just ignorance? AGAIN: Maybe there's some "burr" joke I'm missing. BUT IF NOT...]

** I went to a basedball match the other day! True story! It actually got really amazing at the end: the local group was down 3-0 at the tail end of the ninth round, but then they scored one point, and there was this amazing moment when the score was 3-1, with one fault left to them, two warnings, I think three throw-error credits, and all the mats "laden" with "dodgers"!! Then the swinger missed a ball the thrower threw, and the visiting group won the tournament.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

movies I liked much better after seeing them more than once [UPDATED]

(a partial list off the top of my head)

I'm gonna shoot! I'm gonna shoot!

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Wet Hot American Summer*
Hot Tub Time Machine (watched it again yesterday!)
The Big Lebowski
Waiting for Guffman
every movie written by Charlie Kaufman

NOTE: All of these movies are comedies! What in the world does that tell us? [Sometimes I think what it tells us is that good comedy can sometimes not "work" the first time around because we're "reading" it based on our assumptions of what kind of comedy it's going to be and kind of have to get used to the new style before being able to "get" it? Like, specifically in every one of these moviesexcept the Charlie Kaufman ones, which now that I think of it are also a totally different kind of comedy and might not belong in the same category—I remember that certain jokes struck me as specifically stilted and DOA the first time I watched them and then weirdly much more alive and hilarious on subsequent viewings: what the hell is that about, if not that I essentially wasn't ready for those jokes the first time around and my mind needed to grow to accept them?? or something? Note, too, that some of my favorite television comedies have taken some time for me to get into (although of course that may actually just have been because they took a little while to "get their legs" [maybe not an actual expression]).]

Must be some kind tub time machine.

* This one I remember actually walking out of the theater and saying, "I bet I'm going to like this more if or when I watch it a second time." I guess I already told that story.

† I liked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind immediately and have not yet rewathced Synecdoche, N.Y. Adaptation I was specifically annoyed by, Human Nature I liked isolated parts of but thought overall was a disaster, and Being John Malkovich I thought was about ⅔ good and ⅓ disastrous. (At first! At first, I'm saying. Fucking pay attention.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rapture, Westboro, and such

This man did his Bible math wrong, is all.

One quick thought: when everyone joins together in mocking a particular religious belief, at first I enjoy it because I'm like, "Yes! We all recognize how crazy this nonsense is!" but then I remember that, statistically speaking, most of these people must think that this nonsense is crazy only because it isn't their nonsense. (PET PEEVE: People who are like, "Oh, man, these Jesus freaks with all their 'Praise Jesus' craziness—what a bunch of wackos! Anyway, as I was saying... I was having a hard time figuring out what to do with my career until God spoke to me and showed me that what He really wants me to do is...")

As I've asked here before (about those Westboro Baptist cretins*), is the belief that the world is going to end on a particular day actually substantively more ridiculous than any other religious belief? If God exists and has a consciousness and a will and does things—does whatever He wants—is it really so absurd and unthinkable that He might hate gay people or choose to destroy the Universe on a particular day? Seriously. Why is that so laughable? Once we accept that God is real, are we really so certain that our preachers and our interpretation of an ancient text are necessarily righter than anyone else's?†

The reason why Harold Camping's May 21 prediction was so ludicrous is not that he was reading the Bible wrong; it's that predicting anything based on reading the Bible is NUTS.

The general response to the Rapture thing was like a bunch of people watching a screaming homeless person on the street and then shaking their heads like, "Radio signals beamed from the C.I.A. into your brain? God, I'm glad I have it together enough to know that the U.N. is beaming signals into my fillings. Poor crazy bastard."

The mentally ill are allowed to raise families.

* BONUS NOTE: Did you know that, etymologically, cretin comes from Christian? True story!

† Or, for that matter, than an all-powerful being with a history of wiping people out might not decide, "To hell with the preachers and the ancient text," and just do whatever He fucking pleases, even if we are reading the Bible right? We're talking about an all-powerful superbeing. Presumably all-powerful superbeings can change and/or break rules if they feel like it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Movies I Don't Remember

Is there anyone out there who likes Alt85 and isn't aware of Movies I Don't Remember? That theoretical person ought to go check it out! What follows, in a weird cross-promotional* move, is an alphabetical list of all current entries, with two more to be added every week.† (In fact, here's a special sneak preview, as a special gift to Alt85 readers:‡ coming tomorrow, May 23, at 12 midnight Pacific time [q.v.], is the phenomenal Phenomenon!).

Ghostbusters (April Fools post)
Porky's (most popular post—on account, I think, of the butt)

[Please let me know if any of the links go to the wrong place, and I'll fix 'em forthwith!]

* No.
† To the site, not to this list. This list will be out of date almost immediately. Stay on top of it!
‡ What a shitty gift.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Appreciation Fest

Things I've been pleased by, lately:

I always forget to watch this, but when I remember I am never disappointed. I'm inclined to say that it is simply "an entertainment" of a richness that it's tough to explain—some cross between Sergio Aragonés' old stuff for Mad* (or Groo), the paintings of Heironymus Bosch, and the druggie-nightmare-comedy of I want to say Liquid Television or something.† Oh, and elements of what made reading "real" comic books so good: the twins and Jailbot are incredible characters that (on an adventure level rather than an emotional level) I care about, very roughly in the same category as Dark Phoenix and Wolverine. Amazing things happen on this show. If you haven't seen it—and if what I've said above doesn't make you go, "Wait, why is any of that supposed to be appealing?"—then run, don't walk.

The double paintball finale was my favorite movie of the year.

Parks and Recreation
Is it getting better and better or am I just getting more and more into it? Ron Swanson: obviously. But Andy and April? When they got together, I think I just assumed, without consciously thinking about it, that that was going to be a pain in the ass. Instead, we have probably the best-ever television couple, now. Is that right? I think it's right. They love each other so totally and so stupidly.
     I haven't seen the last few episodes yet, SHUT UP ABOUT THEM.

Women are funny.‡

Looking a little like Louis CK. (Please, dude. No turtlenecks.)

Jeffrey Eugenides' story in the Jun. 7 New Yorker
Liked it. I've liked—or rather thought of myself as liking—Eugenides ever since I think 1997, when I read the baster story (I think called "Baster"?) that that Jason Bateman jizz movie was based on. But what else of his have I read? I read Middlesex when it came out and felt about it the same way I felt about The Corrections, that it was pretty unambiguously enjoyable from start to finish but then, in the end, turned out to lack what I always think of (thanks to Zappa) as "conceptual continuity": that there's no particular reason it ended where it ended and not 100 pages earlier or 300 pages later.§ The Virgin Suicides my ex-wife** and I read to each other in 2003, taking turns while the other was driving, in a days-long trek from California to Texas, and I think I liked it but don't really remember: after all, I was taking turns reading it out loud during a car trip with a girl. I mean, come on.


* I can speak only to the old stuff, but the new stuff is probably great, too, who fucking knows.

†  Although, to be totally honest, I don't quite remember what that show was like—or was it less a show than a kind of subnetwork, like Adult Swim is? See, I have no idea what I'm talking about.

‡ I have much more to say about this (e.g., "Best comedy I've seen in the theater in years?" and all sorts of discussion about the hype and the politics and their irrelevance), but I kind of like leaving it at that. Cf.

§ I often have this problem with contemporary novels. I blame creative-writing programs.

** I have never been married.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alt85 totally blows, now. [UPDATED]

a room in my dream home (via)

Dude, check the fucking roster or whatever it's called—the "Blog Archive." Nine posts in April, five posts in I write this, 39 in 4½ months. In 2010* it was 230! In 2009 it was 350! Gone from up around once a day all the way down to a creaky, dregsy once a week! Oh, I could offer excuses, but you don't care why. (You also don't care that, most of you. Most of you—if I'm reading Google Analytics right—are here because you were looking for gay sex and came upon this.† Sorry to disappoint!)

I will say this, though, while I've got you here: I'm reading three books, right now. Three! At once! That's fucking nuts! There's something wrong with me! I recognize that this is normal for most people, to have several books that they're theoretically in the middle of reading at any one time, but it is not normal for me. In fact, I see it as a corollary(?) to my not reading at all. I'm reading Tina Fey's book when I go out, Michael Showalter's book when I'm on the toilet, and David Foster Wallace's book when—well, I don't know when. Never? I'm 182 pages into it, but I read all that when I was in New York City a while ago. In New York City I read; in Los Angeles, not so much.‡ The good news, at least, is that I'm happy about all three books: back when I read like a motherfucker, being happy with whatever book I was reading made me like my life more even when I wasn't reading—that part, at least, is true still today.

OK, but that had nothing to do with anything. Here's something that does have to do with anything: whether it's that Alt85 has actually gotten worse or just that it has gotten sparser, the effect is the same, at least for me—because turning out a blog post almost every day took the pressure off to make sure each one was "OK" (see George McFly syndrome), which freed me up in a way that I think made the whole thing better. I mean, people seemed to like it. I can't imagine anyone likes it now—especially since the only thing that tends to motivate me now to shit out an Alt85 post is something that annoys me, which means Alt85 has become a grouchfest. Or was that always true? Or is this false modesty? Or should you shut your House of Pie hole?

God, I decided a while back not to do this kind of shit anymore, this "Whither Alt85?" spacewaste. Oh, well. Maybe I'll get back "on it" and make this blog good again. (But I sort of said that about the Factoids, and where did that get anyone?) Anyway, in the meantime (or forevermore), here's a 95% unrelated photograph of Samuel Beckett with his cats.§


* Pronounced "twenty ten," remember.
† That's not fair. Some of you were looking for "Sasha Grey anal."
‡ A bit of a trick, there: a lot of that shit I read on the airplane there and back. But still.
§ IMPORTANT UPDATE: One of those cats is a dog. Classic Beckett!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

war cat [UPDATED]

Has everybody seen this? I've felt a little out of the Internet loop lately, so apologies if I'm the guy who's like, "Hey, check out this hilarious double-rainbow video," but just in case—

The New York Times had a little thing about how some fucking religious misogynist douchebag–morons (who won't publish pictures of women for "moral" reasons) simply erased Hillary Clinton and Background Girl from that amazing Osama bin Laden war-room photo that by now probably everyone has seen. However, the person who threw the thing up (Krugman, I guess?) used, to illustrate the change, an also altered version of the original photo. Check it out:

(click to enlarge and spot what's wrong)

(Thanks to "dheck" in Ohio, whose comment on the Times web site called my attention it it. Also, BIATRIS.)

[UPDATE: Noticed that the Slate link given is very specifically a joke "Cats of War" feature—so Krugman's being either a little playful or very careless.]

Sunday, May 8, 2011

the winning caption

Here's the winning caption for this New Yorker caption contest:

Ha! That is some good, topical stuff: smokers really are being pushed out of a lot of places, and you can't smoke on hardly any commercial flights anymore, these days, have you noticed?

Also, you know you're on to something, comedywise, when the joke you're making was also made in a major ad campaign 17 years ago:

(click to enlarge this advertisement from 1994)

Remember that one? I do! That's how you know the joke has legs: it's been made before, a long time ago, by a big corporation. Kudos, New Yorker!* Keep on bringing us that good, tried-and-true comedy!

* Not Pignata's fault. (As I've said before, if a hospital held a raffle and let some random person perform open-heart surgery, it would be the hospital's fault when the patient died; similarly, you don't blame the citizenry for not being comedy writers: you blame a supposedly high-quality publication for opening its comedy writing up to the citizenry.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

my extra arm: some (jumbled) thoughts

AAAAA, fuck, no! We were wrong to play God! (via)

I read this in the May 2011 issue of Harper's:
Test subjects experienced fear when they were given a third, prosthetic arm and researchers threatened that arm with a knife.

1. Even when I become conscious of the fact I am only dreaming, still I'm afraid of knives when threatened by a dream assailant. But that's neither here nor there.

2. I read somewhere (who knows, maybe Harper's) that when people carry big things, we have a tendency to incorporate those things into our sense of our own bodies. I'm phrasing this poorly. What I mean to say is that we don't intellectually keep track of where the objects are so much as we treat the objects as extensions of ourselves; that's how we navigate with them. And aren't cats' whiskers designed to give them a sense of whether they can fit through narrow spaces (the whiskers presumably extending beyond their heads' widths to approximate the width of their torsos, maybe)? These ideas seem at least tangentially relevant.

3. When Zaphod Beeblebrox finds out that he had done something to his own brain and then had actually branded his brain with his initials, I submit that what's intellectually stimulating about this idea is not what I think of (in my probably wrongheaded conception) as a Cartesian mind-body split, wherein we are essentially separated from ourselves, but rather what I think of (again, probably wrongly, and here because of Harold Bloom) as a deeply Hebrew "whole-man" conception of the human experience, wherein the human brain, mind, consciousness, etc. are all—in ways both nitpicky and profound—part of us, along with our hair and toes: what's cool about that Zaphod plot twist isn't that Zaphod is multiple people but that his personhood is, you could say, deeper than we had previously conceived it to be...? (Although of course he also has literally two heads.)

4. MOST IMPORTANTLY (to me), a few months ago it hit me that I had always pretty much thought of myself as being a pussy* for having strong emotional reactions to the termination of valued romantic relationships, but that this (the belief that the feelings were silly) was wrong because, when you form an intense connection to another human being, that connection is real: your personhoods grow together: insofar as your sense of self and consciousness have any reality at all, those things become literally connected to this other person (or, even if you want to be cynical about it, at least to your awareness or sense of that other person). As such, a break-up means a kind of tearing or rending of something that is as much a part of you [see "whole-man" idea above] as your appendages, and arguably a more important part of you, because you could lose all your limbs and still be a man,† but if you lose your sense of self, your memories, your personality—your soul, you could say—then haven't you in the most meaningful sense lost yourself?‡
     Anyway, this robot-arm thing got me thinking: in a way, isn't it perhaps the case that when you love someone, the reason why you would risk all to protect that person§—or why you experience injury to that person as injury to yourself (and death of that person as perhaps even worse than your own death—maybe because you don't when you die then have to live with your own death?)—is that you experience that person as part of you? This certainly fits with my theory (I think oddly never laid out in full "in these pages" but referenced [at the end of a footnote, jeez!] here) that, yes, romantic love can be said to be all about sex, and sex can be said to be all about reproduction, but reproduction itself is the mortal's version of immortality—and whereas the way asexual reproduction works is that a lifeform splits into duplicates of itself, we sexual beings have to find other beings to reproduce with, which means that on a certain level what we're doing when selecting mates is selecting people to become one with, in our immortal futures—we're saying, "I want your genes to mix with my genes in my offspring, i.e., in my genetic continuation"—which sort of circles back around to making love meaningful, no?)...
      So, yeah, anyway I'm just trying to say that maybe not wanting a scientist to stab us in our robot arm has something to do with our ability to connect to things outside of ourselves, which also has an awful lot to do with love.

Didn't find the robot-middle-finger screenshot I wanted;
will settle for No. 5 figuring out what death is.

* FOR THE RECORD: I am not happy with this word (in context) and pretty much disapprove of this usage; however, as is often the case (q.v.), there is a kind of conflict of interest between my ethics and politics on the one hand and my aesthetics and, say, expressiveness on the other? The writer in me will not give up the word "retarded," for example; the you could say human being in me (although I think that's unfair) stands fully behind the movement to wipe out the casual, comedic use of that word. (Natasha Leggero, I think it was, observed that now everybody still says "gay" and "retarded" but now just follows it up immediately with an, "I've been meaning to stop using that word.)

† "Man" for "human being" here because it feels aesthetically appropriate, a reference to a kind of discourse, but PLEASE SEE ABOVE FOOTNOTE.

Why all the italics???

§ See intro to Nicholson Baker article in same Harper's.