If I make the unfortunate joke about how, between two streaming services and cable television, the one constant result is regretting ever having thought there might be something worth watching, then, sure, it probably stands to reason I will eventually notice that the actual television provider, i.e., Comcast Xfinity, would drive the nail by being utterly unable to serve television.Last night, my DVR fouled; today, it turns out the on-demand recording is also fouled. Couple that with news programming—any time of day—unwatchable for audio loss and actual static snow, and the same for what few sporting events I bother with, well, hey, I can always get a cooking show, and if not, maybe I can watch rich people buy property in the Caribbean.Maybe.They can’t even serve the bloody music in the 900s. Actually delivering product is apparently bad for the business model.Which, in turn, is another unfortunate morbid comedy verité.
With many thanks to Sean, a friend who pointed out this particular iteration of the morbid spectacle otherwise known as
¡Jesus’ fucking tits! Westboro Baptist Church―see Anna Merlan’s report for Jezebel about the latest Westboro wannabe Christianishesque clodhopping―a certain question arises, a reiteration that occasionally demands address:
• Is it wrong that I only pay attention to WBC at all anymore because they’re like a comedy troupe performing a Christian version of The Aristocrats? I mean, it’s true: It was cruel of kids in my junior high to encourage the overweight, developmentally impaired kid to do stupid and humiliating things just so people could have a laugh. The Westboro heritage is similar; there is a tinge of guilt about paying attention to anything they do, as if we’re denigrating them just by watching.
Every once in a while, inevitable humor just happens to coincide with one’s mood. That nexus of circumstance is the difference between this sort of thing being mildly amusing or just annoying enough to make one cuss beneath his breath. On this occasion, the merchandise arrangement at a Barnes & Noble had everything it needed, though in this case the one factor that makes the joke work is beyond the control of any hapless employee who figured it would be negligent, even counterproductive, to skip the obvious. One would not be surprised, indeed, if these were the merchandising instructions. But with comedy, timing is everything, and yes, in those days ‘twixt Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is also more generous. Besides, it’s all more decent than I would be. You know, Keep calm and go f―
That is to say, er … um … ah … as we were saying.
Carry on, then.
In the history of ideas … right. It is not so much that there are good ideas and bad ideas; rather, every once in a while the question arises, “What, this is an idea?”
No, no, no. That is not really about the artistic product. Playing with such ideas is part of cartooning, especially in the network century. Given that truth is stranger than fiction, we can expect the cartoonists will never actually catch up, even those who catch on.
There are some ideas that seem so removed from the realm of good ideas that we might wonder whence they rise. That is to say, given the content of the annals of life, the idea that one might try such an approach is, well, yes, it is possible. And, given that this is the twenty-first century, after all, why not? Think of politics. If you do not like the question, make something up. And if someone complains that you did not answer the question, argue that you did. So that if the question is the economics of family and you hear a Republican declare that intra-uterine devices are abortifacients, bear in mind that it is, after all, an answer. What would make anyone think it is a good or even relevant answer has nothing to do with anything.
Divorce humor is one thing. Humor in divorce is quite another. The saddest part is that we can rest assured that something like this has happened before. It has all happened before, and it will all happen again until humanity chooses extinction, which, in turn, is an idea, and with the benefit of being applicable to nearly any question.
Meanwhile, Zach Weiner tries his hand at something having to do with divorce and humor, and considering the history of ideas, the disheartening thing is the realization that while life is not so simple as to be adequately explained in eight frames, neither is it so routine that such a proposition should seem extraordinary.
“Maybe you’ve got a little buddy there to help you eat a strawberry three times the size of your body, but we all die alone.”
No, really. Who writes this shit?
So, the setup is simply that I have a friend who adores turtles. A life passion sort of thing. Naturally, I am compelled, then, to forward her any turtle-related stuff I encounter in the n’ether*. Such as a HuffPo temptation called, “24 Tiny Turtles Who Need A Reality Check”. And, yes, the pictures run the gamut from cute to fascinating, but perhaps the most striking thing is the open nihilism of the captions for the slide show. No, seriously, it is clearly somebody’s idea of a joke, but come on:
• “Do you think life is a game? It’s time to stop eating that strawberry and get a job.”
• “What could you possibly accomplish with your life? You’re smaller than a banana.”
• “Oh, look at us, we’re three tiny turtles all in a row. Well, NEWSFLASH: life is full of pain.”
• “Not only does this penny show your scale, tiny guy, it’s a reminder that you’ve never earned a penny a day in your life.”
• “Maybe you’ve got a little buddy there to help you eat a strawberry three times the size of your body, but we all die alone.”
And, no, the advice to not attempt to write comedy while hung over and jonesing for a rail has never really worked out well for anyone who has ventured forth from such crossroads.
Really, though: Who writes this shit?
* That would be “net aether”. No, it’s not some trendy word. I just thought of it. Figured to try it out. I mean, you know. I loathe cutesy words like interwebs, and the intertubes joke gets old after a while.
It is not so much that we should leave humor to the comedians. We all make jokes. Laughter, as the trite saying goes, is the best medicine; especially if you laugh yourself into injury. Maybe you hear something on the radio and drive the car into a telephone pole while cracking up. Perhaps you catch something on television, and laugh so hard you fall off the couch and gash your forehead on the coffee table. Or maybe you read an article on the internet and double over in agonizing amusement until you pull a muscle.
Okay, so it’s not that funny, but here’s the thing: Politics in America is a nasty business, and some people resent this. Many of them, of course, are perfectly willing to support their own brand of nastiness while condemining others. Sometimes this is justified. Wit, after all, is a bit more civilized than punching someone’s teeth. And, probably, a little less unhealthy to the wit than the fist.
Still, though, while our political cycles often play out amid a cacophony of disgusted and derisive laughter, sometimes genuine humor arises. In 2010, we had Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, to say the least. Or that Nazi celebrant from the midwest. Or the DA in Colorado who had a rape accusation and a rape confession, but decided to not press charges because it was obviously a case of buyer’s remorse.
I know, I know, I’m only picking on one side of the aisle right now. Fine, to be fair, we can all chuckle at the fact that Sen. Harry Reid survived his re-election bid, but that only brings the Democratic side of the aisle back to Sharron Angle.
In 2008, it was Sarah Palin.
I even remember in 1996, when President Clinton stuck his foot in his mouth about some cheap rap song by Sistah Souljah, Republican candidate Sen. Bob Dole came to his rescue by saying if he was president, he would outlaw that kind of music. I mean, c’mon, Bob: Before we can even argue about whether you can legislate like that, tell us, just how exactly would you destroy, evade, or otherwise overcome that nasty little thorn in your side called the First Amendment?
Yet none of these people are the issue for the moment. Rather, let us turn to Michael Reagan, son of the late former president, Saint Ronald:
We are rapidly becoming a nation whose distaff leadership is allowing radical feminists to redefine the role of motherhood.
Our moms are being all but ostracized by a raging cadre of radical feminists should they dare to consider cooking for their families to be a major part of their traditional role as wives and mothers.
I have a new vision of Hell, which is sitting around the “conversation pit” getting stoned with New York Times columnists David Brooks and Gail Collins. Apparently, the two get together and talk about issues for the newspaper’s Opinionator blog every Wednesday. To borrow a phrase from Supreme Court Nominee and current Solicitor General Elena Kagan, I wish they wouldn’t.
This week, the Dullard Duo took on one of the vital economic questions of the times: Deficit reduction or job creation?
Gail Collins: David, I was very interested in your column attacking the idea of a second stimulus. In fact, I was so interested that I almost put down my copy of this week’s New York Magazine, which has a big profile of you and your “charming, levelheaded optimism.” I agree totally with that assessment, although I part company with the author when it comes to your suits, which are certainly not shapeless.
The article also says that because of your book deadlines, you are only getting four hours of sleep a night. So I feel terrible asking you to converse about anything, let alone the economy.
David Brooks: My suits are absolutely shapeless. They are sartorial cumulus clouds. Given my body, shapeless is the best option, believe me. Other than that, I thought the profiler was admirably gentle and forgiving.
I’d like to say things could only get better from there, but … yeah. I’d also like to say it would be enlightening to hear an actual recording of this conversation in order to pick up some of the nuance, but, again … er … yeah. Continue reading