Weekly Roundup: PC Is For Political Children Edition

If you think political violence in this country is limited to Portland fascism, er, anti-fascism, you should see what’s been done to an eight-year-old girl who makes fun of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The idea of threatening or intimidating children because their politics disagree with yours is utterly beneath contempt…

…hold on a minute…

…do eight-year-olds really have any politics of which to speak? Aye, there’s the rub.

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(Last) Weekly Roundup: Here Comes The YEET CANNON Edition

There are more things in heaven and in earth, Patricia, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Such as the YEET CANNON. It’s a joke, but it’s also a very real product. For $199, you can buy an American-made 9mm pistol with “YEET CANNON” printed on the side.

“Yeeting”, by the way, refers to the practice of violent displacement, often with some style: “He yeeted that Mountain Dew can into the trash.” My son tells me that “Get yeeted on!” is considered to be quite the insult among his peers.

The existence of the Yeet Cannon, and the story behind it, suggests that the future is going to be a little more complicated than some of us would like to believe.

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Weekly Roundup: Scrap Lover, My Brother Edition

There was a whole year of our lives — some time in the late Nineties, I think — where brother Bark and I did not speak to each other. I cannot remember what started the argument, nor how it resolved. Our friends were not surprised; if anything, they seemed shocked that we didn’t argue more often than we do. Two men, cut from the same cloth, both of us disagreeable and contentious and prideful. How could we not argue? We are also both prone to consider ourselves the smartest person in the room, which makes our shared time in a single room slightly awkward.

Bark and I are not as alike in person as we are on the page. He loves to travel, he goes to church, he enjoys social events, he has a better handle on the world as it truly exists in any given moment. Bark is a team player, a great salesman, a great motivator. Most people, having met both of us, like him better. He is more wholehearted in his enthusiasms, more forthright with his opinions, quicker to anger and quicker to forgive. Plenty of people confuse us as writers but that’s simply because they don’t care enough to look at the byline or because they aren’t paying that much attention. Which is fine. We’re in the entertainment business, not doing pediatric heart surgery.

I mention all of the above because Bark’s contributions to TTAC have been absent from these Weekly Roundups and it’s led to some speculation that he and I are in some sort of conflict about said contributions. It ain’t so. I no longer read TTAC so I wasn’t entirely aware of what he was writing — and he was loath to remind me because he knows I ended my time over there on relatively unpleasant terms.

Everything’s square now, and the Roundups will now contain Bark’s TTAC articles as they’re published. Which raises another question: how is that Bark still writes for TTAC and I do not?

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Weekly Roundup: This Is (Probably Not Made Anywhere Near) BRAZIL! Edition

There’s a new language appearing all over product marketing nowadays and I’ve dubbed it Sustainish. Here’s an example:

We are constantly trying to do things better. When it comes to our leather production, we’ve mindfully approached the process to make our leather sneakers in the most sustainable way possible. Our supplier operates under strict local and international environmental standards (ISO 14001). Their sustainability action demands that 100% of the water that is used in the leather process is reused and treated (with zero chemical waste output). They use solar panels as their primary source of energy. Plus, they also produce electricity from hydro-generated and thermal energy (both renewable sources).

Ah, shades of S’Well, the magic sustainable bottle-maker whose products are also made with solar power and recycled water and zero waste in A MYSTERIOUS PLACE THAT NEVER SEEMS TO APPEAR ANYWHERE NEAR THE MARKETING MATERIALS. And so it is with Cariuma, a new sneaker brand “from Brazil” that describes its procurement processes in hyperactive detail right down to a picture of the device used to get rubber out of a tree but which suffers from a sudden and convenient case of amnesia when it’s time to discuss where their “supplier” is.

Anybody want to guess at the provenance of these Brazilian sneakers?

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Weekly Roundup: You’re So Fancy Edition

It’s been a tough couple weeks for the sort of men who crave the male gaze. Anna Silman took an oyster spoon to a former Esquire editor, then Sniff Petrol administered a thorough beating to babbler-slash-photographer-slash-unaccomplished-son-of-accomplished-father Ted Gushue. Both articles lampoon, with various degrees of bitterness, the heavily traveled intersection of cars/watches/clothing/travel that has proven so irresistibly magnetic to so many wealthy and near-to-wealthy men over the years. Silman writes:

What is it about being a fancy man that seems so uniquely joyful? Surely being a fancy woman, or even a fancy child, might have its perks as well. But when I think of the platonic ideal of a career — one that combines intellect and aesthetics, gravitas and iconoclasm, the cerebral and the tactile — being editor of a fancy men’s magazine takes the cake.

SniffPetrol then drops the guillotine on the Gushue parody with the last few questions of his “interview”:

What most surprises people about you?
I guess how humble I am.
Freddie, thank you.
Yes, it’s a 1967 Patek Philippe Caltrava reference 570 in white gold.

We’re all meant to understand that being a “Fancy Man” is somewhere between contemptible and beneath contempt — but why, exactly? What makes the Fancy Man such a figure of fun? Why are we supposed to laugh at Jay Fielden but genuflect before, say, Paul Newman? Every single writer I know responds to the mention of Ted Gushue with “Oh, that guy” — but David E. Davis rode a similar shtick to near-universal acclaim. What’s the difference?

Don’t worry, I’ve figured it out. That’s what you pay me for, right?

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Weekly Roundup: Your Permanent Record Edition

The envelope from my orthopedist could have contained any number of things which would have in no way surprised me: a treatment summary, an appointment reminder, a “balance bill” for the additional X-rays I had this past Monday morning. This is what it actually contained: the half-completed “Medical History Form” that I’d passive-aggressively shoved into the hands of my X-ray tech on the way back to the machine. There was a Post-It attached.

“Fill this in the rest of the way and bring it with you next time, or mail it in.”

At my age, I have to be grateful for each and every genuine surprise, even if it is unpleasant. I clenched the folded eleven-by-seventeen and summoned up my best Sean Connery voice:

“Then the game is on.”

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(Double) Weekly Roundup: ‘Cause The Players Gonna Play, Play, Play, Play, Play Edition

Just a little over four years ago, Patrick The Bass Player and I drove to Victor Wooten’s Bass And Nature Camp, about an hour west of Nashville, in the hope that we could learn how to “jam”. It didn’t work out for us — but I suspect it didn’t work out for Victor either, because in the years that followed the “jam sessions” disappeared from the camp calendar.

For 2019, the camp listed just one open weekend, at just over three times the price of the old sessions and with quite a bit of rigor added to the schedule. I decided to pay the money and go, for two reasons. The first was that I’d left a Handwired Tube Screamer on the premises, and I was anxious to get it back. The second, and more relevant, reason was that I’d pulled an Eddie Van Halen in the four years since my last visit, which is to say that I’d replaced a likeable and competent bassist with… my own son.

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Weekly Roundup: Calling What Now? Edition

Karen Carpenter’s voice was a constant background noise in my youth, which explains why I didn’t conceive a genuine respect for her until my thirties. She had a tough life; after being shoved into the spotlight by an ambitious brother and a borderline mother, she fell into a truly bad marriage and ended up starving herself to death. The genuine pathos of Karen’s existence makes the sunny optimism of her music just that much more upsetting. I don’t think there was anyone less “cool” in the self-conscious Seventies and Eighties than Karen Carpenter. When she succumbed to anorexia, my local rock station played “We’ve Only Just Begun” with the DJ cutting in to moan “TO DIEEEEEEEE…” at the (in)appropriate time. Along with disco, the Carpenters found themselves relegated to less-than-human status in the Guns-N’-Roses-fueled rearview mirror.

Unlike disco, the Carpenters didn’t get a modern rehab. They’re just too “white” and this is an era where “whiteness” is commonly considered to be a malignant force. They were also capable of making some genuinely odd musical choices. “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” is perhaps the oddest. It was expensive and complex to record, and as with much of the Carpenters’ output it was driven by the desires of the brother, not the sister. Yet there’s something remarkably charming in retrospect about the idea of being so optimistic that you couldn’t imagine anything but a positive outcome from First Contact. Think of this song as a musical version of Iain M. Banks’ Culture books; a love song to the ultimate Other, performed by a woman who was her own mortal enemy.

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Weekly Roundup: You Best Not Miss Edition

Twitter is ABUZZ! with people laughing at actor/controversialist/superglue victim James Woods and his HILARIOUS! attempt to DE-GHETTO-IZE! a quote from Omar Little, the Robin-Hood-esque gangster on The Wire. Regarding the Mueller Report, Woods wrote:

“If you try to kill the King, you better not miss.”

When Everybody Knows! that Omar said,

“You come at the king, you best not miss.”

How could Woods be so ILLITERATE?

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