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Why I Despise The Great Gatsby
1. I found it fascinating that the book's ubiquity stems - in part - from its distribution to servicemen during WWII. What led to that particular decision, I wonder? Classy enough not to offend, yet debauched enough to interest? Upholding standard American values but still containing sex? Or was it just short and fairly simply written?

2. There are a lot of short, simple-ish books that get given to high school students on the theory that if something is short and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:47 AM on May 7, 2013
There are a lot of short, simple-ish books that get given to high school students on the theory that if something is short and simple-ish, high school students can experience it fully (in class, no less!) and get the best out of it.

By which I was trying to say that plenty of short, simple-seeming books actually require some life and literary experience to read and really get the best out of, and they're not best approached in a high school classroom anyway.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:49 AM on May 7, 2013

the modern man
In the sense that affluent Americans love pretending to be "hard working joes" I can maybe grant they are classic. But they are also pretentious.

Wait, in what way are regular boring jeans (we're not talking some kind of ringspun selvidge denim here) pretentious? I am pretentious, and until I happened across my recent pair of consciously retro eighties/nineties floral ones, I have not even owned a pair... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:39 PM on May 5, 2013
'Round here, Carhartts are what the smelly kind of slightly older green anarchist is wearing out, since they were trendy up through a few years ago and they never really die - inasumuch as anything is trendy when worn by green anarchists. I mean, they're great pants, but I associate them with maybe the late nineties, early 2000s, wiry-skinny bearded guys who don't bathe and spend a lot of time on their bikes and in the woods, wintery-feeling punk houses where nothing is that clean but they have... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:13 PM on May 5, 2013

Oh, Frowner, I am so not the right person to be wearing these jeans, then.


Well, I mean, anyone can wear them! Although if you grind enough dirt into them and yourself, you could perhaps pass as a green anarchist...Honestly, Carhartts are classic because they are cultural/subcultural in so many ways. Lots of people wear Carhartts to do actual physical work in, for instance.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:38 PM on May 5, 2013
It's the middle class folks that have to care about that sort of thing.

And then everyone comes down on us/them for it - "you're too conformist!" "no, wait, you think you're special, stop wearing that hairstyle, it's pretentious!" "no, actually you are conforming by pretending to be individualistic, stop that too!" Et patati et patata.

As a broad generality, people's clothes... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:48 AM on May 6, 2013

Saving the planet, one bag of Doritos at a time.
I don't know. I have some concerns about how this would really play out.

We're a carless household of single/childless people who live near several (admittedly inner city and thus high prices, bad produce) grocery stores, so we wouldn't use a delivery service if one was available anyway. I add that while I could probably do a week of shopping for a family using a bike cart, that would add a level of difficulty even for someone who bikes a lot and lives close to the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:04 AM on May 4, 2013

We will create and destroy ten art movements in ten years
Janelle Monae is pretty amazing. I feel like there's maybe also some response to Santigold in this, in terms of her costuming and some some the general aesthetic royalty/nobility stuff? Also I suppose Michael Jackson, what with the jacket and all.

She is just so sharp. And whoever her aesthetic allies are in bringing all of it together, also very sharp.

In this video and the one for Tightrope, I really love the group... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:15 AM on May 3, 2013
The music is nice and all, but could someone explain what makes her work "groundbreaking"?

Oh, dude, I'm sorry that you don't see it.

For me, her work is groundbreaking because:

1. The density of images and references and the way they are interwoven and used. I have not done a close reading of this one yet, so I can't really unpick too much, and honestly I have, like, not enough familiarity... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:31 AM on May 3, 2013
I love all y'all. I do. But can we please stop with the vaguely anti-R&B, anti-hip-hop qualifiers? Because as much as you're saying "I dig this and I wouldn't usually," that kind of statement has a tinge of "this genre is beneath me" to it.

I will say that because I personally grew up in a very white town during the "moral panic" about rap music (anyone even remember that? Mid-nineties?) and thus... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:45 AM on May 3, 2013
She's really good at deflecting the queer question in interviews "I'm not gay, I'm an android."

And that's so exciting! I mean, heck, I would feel very sad if it's really "I can't come out because I will lose audience, family, etc" but at the same time, speaking as someone whose sexuality and gender are both a bit weird and hard to really explain even for a queer person, it's cool to be able to depict non-standard genders and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:49 AM on May 3, 2013
How did I miss the George Clinton post? I totally did not see it!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:42 AM on May 3, 2013
She is such a good dancer. It's like she's actually floating on, like, 3mm of air above the floor. I mean, everyone in that video is a really good dancer....It's so amazing the way she is doing different but related things with her arms/shoulders and legs/feet.

Also, someone could sell me a hell of expensive pair of those black and white shoes from the video - I would break out the credit card in a red hot minute.

Okay,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:13 PM on May 3, 2013
But inasmuch as it becomes --- "I know you don't enjoy her actual artistic output, but you should, because you'd admire and agree with her avant-garde politics!"

I think that in Janelle Monae's case it's strange to think that you can separate her aesthetic politics from her performance - I mean, you can't take someone who is working constructivism, afrofuturism, mod and about ten zillion different other things and just say "well, I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:27 PM on May 3, 2013
(I pulled a Beyonce! But it was more of a "let's talk about how I used to dismiss Beyonce because I was too ignorant to appreciate what she was doing while assuming that Janelle Monae, by virtue of her particular way of engaging with the avant garde, was all, like "smart"" - honestly, I kind of went on this tumblr-fueled "I Frowner do not value the world of black women musicians who produce dance music enough because I am ignorant" kick a couple of years ago, so I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:39 PM on May 3, 2013

I promise there's a pith helmet involved.
(I just want to pop in to say that I myself (late thirties, learned Palmer script) found the close-up script shots pretty easy to read - I was actually reading the titles of the book catalog to try to figure out what books they had in their library. Indeed, it's really interesting to me that people can't read that - it's like reading type, the physical text is so transparent that you aren't really conscious of "oh the letters look like this now here is the meaning".... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:31 PM on May 2, 2013

In a City of Hipstercrites
God, that is a terrible article. I mean, it gets at some interesting stuff, a little - the whole situation of being middle aged and how that changes your relationship to youth culture. I am very aware of this myself in my late thirties. You get used to being part of "youth culture" because you are young first, after all, and then you realize over time that the zeitgeist has changed and you have not, or that you've changed but not in sync with the zeitgeist. It's... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:31 AM on May 2, 2013
The NYT is always good at keeping us in touch with what the young people are up to.

Oh, yeah, I remember when that happened. I still have that issue of the Baffler, actually, although the Baffler itself shows what happens when you were once right on the money, zeitgeist-wise, and now are not but don't really realize this fact.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2013
I think a lot of these questions of class and cultural appropriation are case-by-case, and this gets obscured in larger, more general pieces.

And I also think that these questions point to systemic issues of inequality - that's why they are felt so deeply.

Yes, it's pretty creepy when some obnoxious rich person is wearing a trucker cap because he thinks working class people are hiLARious and not actually really real like he is... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:20 AM on May 2, 2013
I actually know lots of people who practice "ironic" fashion - I mean, the punks I grew up with sure did. "Wear the ugliest shirt you can find at the thrift store" isn't that uncommon, and the "ugliness" of the shirt is usually predicated on some kind of contempt for the shirt's "natural" owner - the shirt is the type of thing that the ironic wearer associates with a middle-aged secretary, or grandma, or someone working at a gas station, or someone who... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:16 PM on May 2, 2013
While being a lot less offensive.

In some ways yes, in some ways no. I mean, it's certainly a lot harder to pinpoint - if I show up in native regalia, it's unquestionably wrong, but if 1992-Frowner showed up in a mother-of-the-bride dress (I had one I thought was really pretty), it's rather difficult to tell to what degree I was wearing it because it seemed funny to wear a MOB dress since I was not a middle-aged woman, to what... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:23 PM on May 2, 2013
Obviously, if the point of dressing—how should we say it—in "working class attire" or "beneath one's economic status" is to mock the very idea of these people, then, yes, that falls somewhere on a spectrum between merely juvenile and actually hateful, but is to do so necessarily unsavory? I have a hard time believing that it is because if it is, then that suggests that "appropriate dress" isn't judged by time and place only, but by economic status also.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:16 PM on May 2, 2013
Let's unpack this a bit- I have a couple of friends who wear thrift-shop "secretary sweatshirts". The kind with kittens and sparkles and such. They wear them for two reasons: one, they usually get them at thrift shops because they have no money; two, the genuinely like kittens and sparkles and things. As far as I can tell, they have always liked kittens and sparkles and things. In fact, I think a big part of the reason they wear sweatshirts like this, is that for years they... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:34 PM on May 2, 2013
And to continue: I think it's really easy to feel that we're doing things because we're special snowflakes who make individual intelligent choices rather than because we're immersed in larger cultural currents. Every hipster is a hipster because they are "really interested" in beekeeping and beards and whatever else is fashionable; I wore fifties dresses and plastic barrettes and carried a lunch box as a handbag in 1994 because I "really" liked those things, just as now I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:48 PM on May 2, 2013
Man, white people really hate being generalized about.

And yeah, I think there is a race angle on this, in that as a group white people in the US are encouraged to imagine ourselves as deracinated individuals unconstrained by the past. Being a "hipster" is troubling only if you really, really worry about being an extremely self-regulating individual type of individual; otherwise, why worry about the mere fact that your cultural preferences... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:54 PM on May 2, 2013
The question is, who cares? What does it matter? Why is this a problem? Should I be excising any trend that enters into my consciousness like a vile cancer?

It matters because a lot of people respond to any critique or any label by saying "but it's just me!!!! I'm doing my unique individual thing because I just really like it!!!! You are insulting the empowerful choices available to me under capitalism!!... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 3:25 PM on May 2, 2013

the history of Taco Bell's disruptive faux cheese-dusted taco
Wait, what do you mean subsist? As a single dude, $100/week is roughly double my budget for purchasing a shitload of food and wild-raised, etc etc meat, cheese, etc. Are you saying you spend double my monthly budget eating fast-food? The mind boggles.

I assumed that Daily Alice meant "$400 for everything including some kind of ultra-cheap rent". This must have been in the nineties, right? You could back then get a whole fairly adequate... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:45 PM on May 1, 2013

Snitches get stitches, fool *BLEAT*
Yeah, basically this is people leveraging racism and misogyny (seriously, what possible non-misogynist rationale is there for battered-woman humor?) to make money and get more famous. Obviously, people know this stuff is racist, they know it's misogynist, and they do it because it's racist and misogynist.

I think that's what makes it the "most racist" commercial - the regular old racist ones advertising chocolate or soap or whatever with... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:03 PM on May 1, 2013

Lamar Smith Chairs House Science Committee
That's awful!

I mean, first off they want projects to be "groundbreaking" but they don't want actual scientists to peer review them, so "groundbreaking" is presumably subject to all kinds of political hackery.

Second, what the fuck with the "groundbreaking"? I work with researchers. Most of them are not doing "groundbreaking" research - just research that is... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:57 AM on May 1, 2013

Posthumous Papers
If the novel was originally to be the misadventures of a "cockney sporting club", wouldn't a lot of the humor rest on their class failure? Ie, gentlemen hunting aren't especially hilarious, but proles hunting is comic gold? IIRC my Orwell correctly, in the UK hunting is not - as it was in Russia or is in the US - a sport widely accessible to working class people.

If that's the case, it renders Seymour a little less sympathetic, frankly.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:51 PM on April 30, 2013

BBC: How to Eat Healthily on £1 a day
Here's a thing: I have a friend with a baby daughter. She's on food stamps. She can't afford childcare and does, basically, odd jobs while living with her [awful] parents because even with the odd jobs she can't make rent. She's out of food stamp money until the 8th. She has enough to eat until then, sort of. And I have lived with her and the baby - she is a meticulous cook who makes everything from scratch, no junk ever, not least because she has a lot of health... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:01 AM on April 30, 2013

This was a horrible idea. After a year of eating this way, I got to the point that I would start to gag if I even smelled turkey soup. I actually have a whole turkey still sitting in the freezer from those days that I haven't even bothered to cook.


See, this is why the whole "oh, just subsist on beans and rice it is so cheap and nutritious, you lazy whiny poor person, you can cook it in bulk for pennies" line of reasoning drives... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:24 AM on April 30, 2013
Gah, this is making me so angry. A la lanterne, you smug rich motherfuckers.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:25 AM on April 30, 2013

Madame, it is an old word and each one takes it new and wears it out
Lambert vehemently disputes suggestions that he is motivated by sexism (or racism, as the case may be). He cites principles of Wikipedia categorization: arguing, for example, that huge categories should be broken up and “diffused” because they become useless for navigation. “This whole hullabaloo is really missing the point,” he told me. “The people who are making a big deal about this are not being up-front about what happens if we do not diffuse categories.” Others argued that... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:16 AM on April 30, 2013

So you don't have a different shelf in another part of the store for African-American History, you just stick a label to the part of the shelf that has African-American History within various other history sub-topics.


Strangely, this never occurred to anyone volunteering there, even though there were some very sharp-edged conflicts over shelving. I wonder if we could have prevented a lot of conflict and problems with... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:14 AM on April 30, 2013

A generous barrage of narcissism
She's the one with the gross Evelyn-Evelyn fake conjoined twins thing, right? And the vaguly "sex workers are gross and risible" song titles? And the snarking on fat people via Twitter?

I mean, I've never heard a good thing about her politics, ever, just a sort of fake feminism where being "empowered" to make money and get famous equals feminism because she's, like, a woman and stuff and talks about sex while being cute, young, white and well off.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:39 PM on April 29, 2013
Obviously there's a lot in play, though, and I expect that some of it is misogyny - woman judged harder and expected to be nicer; woman married to heartthrob [heartthrob to some, at least in my circles anyway] Neil Gaiman must be run down as "not good enough"; woman who is arrogant and entitled seen as much worse than man who is the same; male artists who create insanely twee women characters (as NG does) seen as quirky and charming, women who act twee seen as... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:49 PM on April 29, 2013

CO2 to hit 400 parts per million next month, highest since the Pliocene
I had the most depressing conversation with my father recently. My dad has always been sort of a climate optimist - "oh, global warming is happening, but I lived through predictions of Soylent-Green style overpopulation and followed by predictions of nuclear winter, so I tend not to believe in apocalyptic scenarios, plus there must be some kind of planetary homeostasis effect or we will figure out the technology" - but when we last talked, he said he felt like... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:59 PM on April 25, 2013

H7N9
In the second week of May, (while I popped massive doses of aspirin to hopefully keep my temperature from rising again)

I know everyone makes choices in the moment that make sense to them - and that good choices made in the moment with full on-the-ground knowledge of the situation may not make sense to the uninformed - so please read the next paragraph in a sympathetic, friendly tone rather than a hostile one.

Did you ever... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:16 AM on April 25, 2013

"Oh my God, it's orcas attacking sperm whales."
I was kind of hoping that he jumped in on the side of the sperm whales. Not as some kind of neutral observer of nature's murderers attacking the gentle, hippie giants of the seas. Tsk.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:09 AM on April 25, 2013
Sperm whales are hardly "gentle, hippie giants of the sea." We are talking about the world's largest predator, an animal with teeth the size of your hand that dives thousands of feet into the inky depths to do battle with giant squid, its primary food source. That they are outmaneuvered in this case does not mean they are some kind of benevolent, mild-mannered sea beastie.

Ah, you see, I was being silly. Although I do tend to like the big... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:19 AM on April 25, 2013

Jocasta Innes, 78, influential writer on decor, cooking
Oh my goodness, I have several of her books! Faux bois and other surface treatments like that actually have a long and honorable history and can look pretty cool.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:13 PM on April 24, 2013

We've got a kotton krown, gonna keep it underground
I find it incredibly depressing that the split turns out to be the result of the male half of the couple having an affair. (One assumes with a younger woman.) I had hoped that it was just, you know, a divorce, not a "famous dude can't keep it in his pants or stay true to his amazing partner" divorce.

Seriously, straight people of metafilter, I would love not to feel this way: but this really makes me glad that my... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:37 AM on April 23, 2013
Blaming one half of the party based on the other half's intentionally vague story doesn't solve anything.

It's not even blame, though. It's that it always happens - it's as though I have only to admire a male intellectual or artist to discover that he has cheated on his talented, age-appropriate partner as soon as she is, like him, out of her first youth. I mean, I've gotten to the point where I assume it's a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:52 AM on April 23, 2013
I add that, as a broad generality, the "famous person cheats on partner and leaves them for someone younger" thing is not something that women generally do. I view this as more a function of patriarchy than anything else, but lord is it depressing.

Don't imagine me cackling and rubbing my feminist hands over male perfidy; imagine me getting depressed that the world sucks.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:54 AM on April 23, 2013
Is this kind of idiocy really your best response to this kind of situation?

OmniWise, I've just realized that I tend to view "people in a less privileged position getting kind of depressed about that situation and speaking with some hyperbole in the moment" as a bit emotionally different from "person hostility directed at one individual", and that I assume we feel differently about that.

I mean honestly,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:04 AM on April 23, 2013
But anyway! In retrospect, I recognize that I should not have turned this in the direction it's going! I will personally stop going this direction! And hope others will too, except it would of course be fair for OmniWise to reply.

On that note, boy, Goo was virtually the first really nineties-esque alternative album that was available in the regular record stores near me, and it sure was a revelation even though it's one of their lesser works. I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:06 AM on April 23, 2013
As far as being an "aging hipster" (or an aging punk) - I think that a problem with certain kinds of hipster / punk /arts cultures (probably compounded by being famous) is that it is very difficult to figure out how to get old. I assume that when everyone around you is invested in telling you that you are basically not getting old, you still have it, you're still the same - and when you want to hear that, because you're in a subculture with no model for being old,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:46 PM on April 23, 2013

"Coffee ... is still just roasted beans and water"
I might conceivably pay good money to have a Fancy Thing (probably not coffee, as I'm not really fussy about coffee) made by someone at a Fancy Hipster Shop provided that there didn't have to be a lot of ideology associated with it. Like, what about "Fancy Thing is tasty! Many people enjoy it because Reasons!" rather than "Fancy Thing is made in the artisanal tradition of The Peasants Before They Were Corrupted By Capitalism and we should all be harking back to peasant ways -... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:12 AM on April 16, 2013
I mean, all this is really the capitalist sublime, right? The assumption being that once we learn to consume correctly, to make an artistic performance out of consumption itself, our problems will fall away and we will be perfectly well adjusted to capitalist society, we will effortlessly be fashionable, well-dressed and healthy, we will have upper middle class incomes, etc. The problem is that we don't understand how to consume right.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:14 AM on April 16, 2013

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