In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« The Renaissance | Main | Say Hello to Fenster »

August 28, 2004


Dear Vanessa --

* Lynn Sislo's "Ten Things I Have Learned About Blogging," here, is oh-so-true, right-on, and tone-perfect. My favorite isn't one of the ten; it's something Lynn volunteers in the comments:

As soon as you start a blog, every little, insignificant thing that happens in your life suddenly becomes something you just have to blog about. This occurred to me when the diet Dr. Pepper fountain at Subway exploded all over me and the first thing I thought of was possibly posting something about it.

Have I mentioned that The Wife has taken to announcing, before introducing certain discussions, "This is a blogging-free zone"? Life to a blogger is nothing if not grist for blogging.

* NoseyOline sifts through the evidence that Bush has been bad for the economy, here.

* Greg Ransom's Prestopundit (here) seems to be the blog to visit if you want to keep up with everything having to do with John Kerry and his war record. "All over that story" doesn't begin to suggest Greg's work.

* Bad-boy Belgian artist Wim Delvoye (about whom FvB blogged here) has made a mischievous, witty, and very naughty series of X-rays, one of which can be seen here.

* Terry Teachout writes about a few of the factors that made him become a critic, here.

* Fred Himebaugh's got one wide-ranging, take-no-prisoners mind, that's for sure. I've been enjoying The Fredosphere, his blog (here) and general website, for a few weeks now, and am putting it on the blogroll.

* I've also been enjoying Architecture Matters, here, an architecture blog by buff and author Rich Beaubien. Rich recently visited and loved Frank Gehry's MIT Strata building, here, the same flamboyant showpiece James Kunstler gave a recent Eyesore of the Month award to.

* Yahmdallah sorts out the good rock bios from the bad ones, here.

* A who-needs-Cinemax photo of beach-volleyball champs Kerri Walsh and Misty May celebrating their gold can be enjoyed here. Beach volleyball, eh? Wink wink, nudge nudge. Hey, don't even the names "Kerri Walsh" and "Misty May" sound like made-up porn-star names? Once again, I find myself suspecting that American life is self-transforming into a reality-porn-show version of itself.

* The Brazilian-gal beach-volleyball team displays some of what Brazil's famous for here.

* Thanks to Paul Deppler, who sent along a link to this wonderful account here. In 1935, two Soviet writers -- the satirists Ilya Elf and Evgeny Petrov -- made a ten-week drive across America and then back, taking evocative photos all the way. They wrote about the trip for a Soviet newsmagazine, and the online mag Cabinet has reprinted the piece, complete with some of the photos. Good lord, America looked different in 1935 than it does today. "The roads are one of the most splendid phenomena of American life," Elf and Petrov write cheerily. Be sure not to miss their account of what it was like to stop at a service station. The piece is full of Russian humor and charm. Oops, I just indulged in a stereotype! I wonder if it's a permissable one. Tatyana: verdict, please?

* The Jesuit scholar Walter Ong wrote brilliantly about popular culture, and about the differences between oral, written, and visual cultures; he's one of the rare really helpful theorists of culture. Thanks to ALD (here), which pointed out this good Jeet Heer intro to Ong and his thought for Books & Culture (here). A good Ong book (and, I confess, the only one I've read) is "Orality and Literacy," which is buyable here -- it's a gem.

* Thanks to James Morss, who pointed out this terrific piece here by "Spengler" for the Online Asia Times. It's about youth culture, the Internet, and the Internet stock bubble. You don't have to share Spengler's gloomy views to find much of what he says enlightening and provocative. Fab passage:

"Youth culture" is a meaningless term because the young do not require culture, because they feel themselves to be immortal. The aging live with the presentiment of death and create cultures in the hope of cheating mortality. Yet the credulous world put such faith in the triumph of global youth culture that it assigned to Internet stocks a trillion-dollar valuation.

* I spent 'way more time than I should have sampling the videoclips collected on this page here. Vulgar, disgusting, insane, hilarious, a few of them tragic ... One thing I was left marveling at is how really, really, really stupid teenage boys can be. Have I emphasized that enough? Another is how the webpage-of-found-video-clips seems to be turning into its own ... well, I don't know if "art form" is the right term. But something, anyway. Ashley Judd fans won't want to miss this clip here, where she gives some autograph hounds an exasperated treat.

* Thanks to Seablogger (here) for linking to this vivid and enlightening, if somewhat hard to take, description of German toilets, here. I may be putting off that long-dreamed-of trip to Berlin for another few more decades ...

* Randall Parker comments on a new study of the costs of our current immigration policies, here. Noting here that President Bush is doing his best to sneak his absurd illegal-immigrant-amnesty program by the public, Randall has decided that Bush needs to be defeated for the good of the Republican party.



posted by Michael at August 28, 2004


Heh, Townes van Zandt's: 'Where I Lead Me', sounds Buddy Hollyish. Yea.

I'm not familiar with the nuances of this site, hence if I've found myself posting erroneously in the 'Dear Vanessa' comments, that might be for babes only, I apoligize. Musta been somethin about being in the company of intelligent Russian women, among others. Sorry. I'm not hitten on your babes blowhards.

Seems that possibly a more effective angle in the Cold War for the Russians might of been sending boatloads of beautiful women over, instead of building up their military. Surrounded by goddess's, albeit in a zero-sum-game world of poverty, might of been livable. I don't completely fault them for attempting to live out Marx -- it mostly is what the Democratic party projects in the US anyway.


Posted by: reader on August 28, 2004 1:12 PM

Glad that you're stopping by and joining in!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 28, 2004 2:10 PM

Very nice volleyballs, indeed!

Posted by: ricpic on August 28, 2004 3:05 PM

Hey, reader, Russian women don't mind to be "hitten on "(hah?) We'll can it and store away for a rainy/snowy afternoon...

About Ilf and Petrov (Ilf, not Elf, Michael, and he wasn't elf, no siree. Pronounced with soft "l", like in French Ille).
They were incredibly funny satirists, Ilf being the motor and Petrov the chassi of the duo, if we're to continue automobile theme.

Small outline of their work contains this passage:
...A trip to America in 1935-1936 proved to be more fruitful for the two writers. They produced an amusing travelogue with in-depth observations known abroad as Little Golden America and published in Russia in 1937. This book turned out to be their last major joint work. Subsequently the book would also be the object of scathing attacks, and Ilf and Petrov were accused of idealizing American imperialism...

Ilf was lucky to die of consumption in 1937. Petrov continued to work alone but didn't produced anything on the same level; he died during the War.

"One-storied America" is full of double and triple-plane episodes that written weightlessly and funny - if you don't know the background.
F.ex., an episode of meeting Hamingway in NY, who over highballs - and thru his father-in law (?)- arranged for the writers a visit to Sing-Sing. They got lost along the way to the prison and every time their driver asked a passerby for direction he joked - "We're in a hurry to get to electric chair". Ilf and Petrov noted the joke was successful every time; as it's easy to imagine, they were not that impressed with it themselves.

Posted by: Tatyana on August 28, 2004 3:36 PM

reader, 1935 was before the Cold War began.

I'm going to check out their book but one of the things that struck me was how much it looks the same. With the exception of the kindness and good service given to them, (kindness and benevolence from a business!) it seems the same.

Posted by: lindenen on August 28, 2004 8:36 PM

every little, insignificant thing that happens in your life suddenly becomes something you just have to blog about.
That is the principle popularised by Seinfeld, surely? Posted by: Toby on August 29, 2004 5:17 AM

I consider Terry Teachout to be a national treasure. That is an accolade usually reserved for figures at the end of their careers. He's already earned it, IMO.

In just one brief essay, like the one linked to, he manages to highlight a dozen "truths of life."

Keep typing Terry.

Posted by: ricpic on August 29, 2004 10:32 AM

I'm waiting for "the wife's" anti-blog.

Posted by: j.c. on August 29, 2004 7:46 PM

As if my own mind is not busy enough contemplating potential blog stories to regale my readers, my family has taken to laughing and saying, " Mom, that's a blog!"

Kman and I often have discussions late night in bed. A few long pauses after one somewhat personal conversation, he rolls over and queries, "no blogging on this, huh?" Hey, I know where to draw the line. I can just change the names to protect the innocent!

Posted by: Cowtown Pattie on August 29, 2004 10:27 PM

Don't miss this photo:


Posted by: tim on August 30, 2004 12:01 PM

The funny thing about Ilf and Petrov is that the tone of their little travelogue--smirking, yet genuinely awestruck and charmed--reminds one of nothing so much as the account of the American road given by that very un-Soviet Russian, Nabokov.

Posted by: Colby Cosh on August 31, 2004 8:50 PM

Colby, I hope you're not referring to similarities of "mysterious Russian soul" here...

I blame translators (who else?); in Russian you wouldn't mistake the styles of two (three?).

Posted by: Tatyana on August 31, 2004 10:02 PM

Youth does not require culture? But I thought it was well established that culture was basically a byproduct of the desire to get laid - surely youth requires that.

Posted by: David Fleck on September 1, 2004 7:07 AM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?