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May 23, 2005


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Tinkertytonk wonders how it can be that -- in this multicolored, multicultural age of ours -- the covergirls all look alike?

* The Fat Guy's faith in zydeco music has been renewed.

* Has feminism encouraged women to become alcoholics?

* Steve Sailer covers a lot of interesting ground in his review of Thomas Sowell's new book, notices that most Asian-Americans aren't voting Republican, watches a foreign movie with the sound off, and fields some sensible advice about publishing a book.

* Alex has the key to a good marriage: selective forgetfulness. Tyler confesses to five important books he hasn't yet read.

* Razib muses about the women-and-chess thang in the context of the Larry Summers mess. There still aren't many super-high-level female chess players around. Will there ever be?

* Is it a put-on? An art-thing? Some combo of the two? Whatever it is, "Karl Merleau-Marcuse"'s blog made me laugh out loud. Sample blogposting:

It's a sad day when you wake up and realize that somewhere deep down in your subconscious you're basically a Habermassian. This makes me want to go draw moustaches on all your billboards.

OK, maybe this kind of thing represents a very special taste in humor ...

* Bixblog feels like she's recovering her inner sensualist. I can't say I find that a surprise.

* Evan Kirchhoff takes a ride to the Paris airport with an unstereotypical French cabdriver.

* Kodak has been hit by the digital-imaging revolution hard, shedding tens of thousands of employees in recent years. But maybe the corner has been turned. In terms of digital-camera sales in the U.S., Kodak is now #1.

* Those little-wisp glamor dresses stars wear to awards events? French actress Sophie Marceau shows just how wispy they are. By the way, have I ever mentioned that I enjoyed "Telling Lies," Sophie Marceau's novel? Short, spare, chic -- yet absurdly overripe and narcissistic too. Whew: a combo I often find irresisitable. The Wife refers to this genre of book as "Moi, Actrice."

* What style of thinker are you: visual, musical, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, or verbal? Take a test based on Howard Gardner's notion of seven kinds of intelligence. My own style is "interpersonal." Me and Mother Theresa, apparently.



posted by Michael at May 23, 2005


Well, regarding the all women look the same in fashion link - I suppose they do, but that 'sameness' sure does change. Look who won the last two America's Top Model contests...

For some bizarro reason, whenever I would procrastinate in college I would go down to the basement of the University Library where they had every issue of Vogue back to the 50s. (It was an engineering/agricultural/technical college, I have no idea why they were there and they were largely untouched, too). Until about 1980, every single model was not only white, but blonde haired and blue eyed on the cover. It didn't seem to change until the 80s, and then it was all Cindy Crawford....

Women have always tried to conform to the standards of beauty: corsets and ribs removed for Victorian ladies, flattening your chest and slumping for flappers, wearing falsies and going platinum for the 50s look, ironing your hair and starving yourself to look like Twiggy, and I could go on and on and on. Is it really just a current phenomenon? Although I agree, there is great irony that the actress pre-feminist revolution are about a thousand times more unique, iconic and interesting. Is that because the golden years in film were directed at women, who supposedly bought most of the tickets?

Posted by: MD on May 23, 2005 3:59 PM

I tried that intelligence test, and it says I'm both "linguistic" (which fits in fairly well with my occupation) and "naturalist." Strange, in a way, as those two types seem quite dissimilar.

Posted by: Peter on May 23, 2005 4:00 PM

"actress pre-feminist revolution are about a thousand times more unique, iconic and interesting"

Bah. June Alysson and Debbie Reynolds sold more tickets in the fifties than either Hepburn could dream of. And Sophie Marceau is pretty interesting to me.

On the other feminine fashion is not constant, but possibly cyclic, and Thorsten Veblen becomes relevant again. One could say that the bustle and padded bra are signs of their conservative eras, but then one is confounded with short skirts in the 20s and the 60s.

Anyway, the magazine covers aren't selling Penelope Cruz, but the idea that anyone can look like Penelope Cruz. In order to sell that concept, they have to take the individuality from Cruz.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on May 23, 2005 4:27 PM

I'm an "Existential" thinker---like Ghandi and Socrates! So...a little respect! (Of course, who knows, it might also be like Aerosmith! :)).

I think women covergirls all look alike coz most of the people picking them are gay men, and they want a feminized version of pretty boys...or they think everybody else does. Orrrr...the makeup artists just threw in the towel awhile ago, and said---look there's only one kind of makeup I know, I'm going to apply it to all of you, and you're all going to look pretty in a very manufactured way, and just shut up about it. Who knows? Who really looks closely at cover girls, beyond, yeah, she's young, she's pretty, next...Which might be the point---she's nice background for the headlines that are really what they are selling.

Posted by: annette on May 23, 2005 4:38 PM

I am also getting in touch with my inner sensualist. Just wanted to mention that.

Posted by: annette on May 23, 2005 4:40 PM

bob mcmanus - aren't June et al pre-feminist revolution? :) Anyhow, I was referring the Star Wars phenomenon and selling films to 12 year old boys, hence the looks of film, and women in them, is now different than in the past, but I defer to those who have more movie knowledge than I do, which is pretty much everybody...

Also, Penelope looks more or less individual depending on the magazine - I forget which magazine cover I saw her on recently where she was wearing a gorgeous frock - like a Victorian dress updated to the 21st century and had more natural hair and make-up....maybe Vanity Fair, which isn't really a fashion magazine. The dress was gorgeous, though, and very, very unique.

Posted by: MD on May 23, 2005 4:50 PM

But MD and Bob -- We aren't going to let you get away without reporting how you scored on the personality test!

I put the covergirl thing down to Photoshop myself. Weird, though, isn't it: the way, as things have opened up for women, pressures on them almost seem to have increased, not decreased? I mean, it's great the gals are playing soccer and being out in the world, for instance. But contempo standards of beauty are really unforgiving in many ways. You get to wear ethnic jewelry and have dark hair. But you absolutely, absolutely must be slim and athletic. It's like the market opened up and the competition got ever more ferocious.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 23, 2005 5:02 PM

"Bah. June Alysson and Debbie Reynolds sold more tickets in the fifties than either Hepburn could dream of. And Sophie Marceau is pretty interesting to me."

Whether or not that's true would be an interesting research assignment. Certainly, Elizabeth Taylor sold more than June Alysson and Debbie Reynolds. Doris Day probably beat them all. Also, there are three decades of film prior to the 1950s. It's no joke that white women (and probably men as well) got better roles back then. In the 50s, the roles actresses had separated out into either Virgins or Whores. I guess the real question is how do you get women out to the movie theatres again? I know that in Japan the market is geared more toward women than men.

As for the sensualist blogger, if you're out there, next time you're in sephora take a whiff of Lolita Lempicka. Z'amazing. It's not a citrus smell though. Sephora classifies it as a Woodsy-Oriental. It has Iris in it :)

Posted by: lindenen on May 23, 2005 5:03 PM

BTW---June Allyson is the biggest mystery movie star of all time. She's a total Plain Jane, she can't sing worth a damn, and she had no sex at all. In fact, I'm quite ashamed of postwar males in the U.S. that she was ever "America's Sweetheart"---what a bunch of dull, de-sexed men they must have been! Thank God Marilyn came along.

Posted by: annette on May 23, 2005 5:04 PM

MD, you might be thinking of Salma Hayek on the cover of Vogue. She has on a Victorian frock that's white with leaves on it. I don't like the leaves myself. Also, someone told me yesterday that Salma Hayek is 39 years old! 39! My god!

Posted by: lindenen on May 23, 2005 5:14 PM

"June Allyson is the biggest mystery movie star of all time...she had no sex at all."

Yeah, but she had zip!

Posted by: ricpic on May 23, 2005 5:17 PM

Michael Blowhard -

4 years of college, 4 years of med school, 5 years of residency and 1 year of fellowship. Unless required to do so, I will never, ever take another test again :)

annette - I've always wondered about June Allyson, myself. And Alice Faye? Do you get her? I mean, I'm surprised John Payne didn't run off with that lady with the fruit instead (in Weekend in Havana). The lady with the fruit on her head was in that one, wasn't she? What awful movies....

Posted by: MD on May 23, 2005 5:20 PM

Also, I am a Spatial thinker, like Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Picasso. hahaha My careers are: "Careers which suit Spatial Thinkers include
Mechanic, Photographer, Artist, Architect, Engineer, Builder, Set designer". Who knew?

Posted by: lindenen on May 23, 2005 5:22 PM

It was Salma Hayek! LOL. I guess I have just been proven wrong, the covergirls do look all alike, don't they.

Ok, this commenting must stop! Really, it's some kind of addiction.

Posted by: MD on May 23, 2005 5:22 PM

June Allyson is a mystery, so is Betty Grable. I can't figure out the charm of Julia Roberts either, for that matter. But as for the girls of today, I think it is the photoshopping and the makeup artists.

Anyway, I'm a linguistic thinker. Suggested field: Librarian. Ho hum.

Posted by: Rachel on May 23, 2005 5:39 PM

"It's a sad day when you wake up and realize that somewhere deep down in your subconscious you're basically a Habermassian. This makes me want to go draw moustaches on all your billboards."

Okay, I'll bite: what's so funny?

I know, I know, you either get it or you don't. And I know, I know, asking for an explanation of humor is the ultimate conversation freezer. But I'm asking anyway. Better an inquisitive square than a hidebound philistine, I always say.

Posted by: ricpic on May 23, 2005 6:02 PM

Betty Grable? Are you kidding? What a pair of gams on that broad!

Posted by: ricpic on May 23, 2005 6:03 PM

Ha! It says I'm a linguistic thinker. But since they suggested to put down answers from gut feeling rather than thinking too hard about it--I think the results from the quiz will depend on how one is feeling at the moment.

Posted by: sya on May 23, 2005 6:04 PM

Re: "women all look the same in fashion" - there was a short wordless animation film oh, about 20 yrs ago that showed contemporary disco ideal from the magazines (blush, smoky eye, blue shadows and magenta lips, etc), applied to beauties depicted on paintings of various periods. I remember in particular what it did to Gainsborough's Dutchess of Beaufort and to the Lady with an Ermine: they became twins. Clown twins. I think it was Czech, sorry the title escapes me.

Lindenen - didn't you wanted to become an architect? Also, In the 50s, the roles actresses had separated out into either Virgins or Whores For some of us, it's still holds true, although along with accelerationg times two are slammed into one. Even one's personal cliches are fit for compact urban living, I guess.

Sophie's dress: c'mon, it's all orchestrated for publicity. Do you really think Mlle Marceau have no access to the double tape Jenny from the Bronx used for that famous "navel dress"?

Born-again sensualist W (or M, if you are who I think you are): try to find *Turbulence, I think by Cacharel.

Pro-Bush French cabbie: but he is a Spaniard!

Karl MM's blog (which was short-lived, apparently): nice juxtoposition "cynicism is new sentimentality" to "my ABBA collection..."

And I'll keep all I have to say about a good marriage and forgetfullness to myself.

Posted by: Tatyana on May 23, 2005 7:06 PM


Betty Grable had great legs, tho not as good as Ann Miller's, who had the best legs imaginable. Grable also had the tough broad sense of humour.

And I'll bet Sophie just didn't give a damn. French, you know. If that is a recent picture, she is, umm, holding up well.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on May 23, 2005 7:35 PM


Dzękuje for the fragrance recommendation. Is it Turbulences by Revillon? By the way, when it comes to perfumes and other sensual goodies, I think the Poles and Russians leave everyone else in the dust. I always bring home at least one suitcase crammed with mysterious lotions and potions.

Posted by: Searchie on May 23, 2005 10:00 PM

Right, Revillon!
I bit warm, but citrus note is quite distinct.

Polish perfumes...I remember Byc moze (too sweet) and classic Pani Walewska, in a violet bottle(?)(I was too young for it at the time but would love to try it now). Pollena has wonderful shampoos, too (perl and egg come to mind).

Posted by: Tatyana on May 23, 2005 10:32 PM


Pani Wałewska I know it! Also, Turbulences contains bursztyn, which I love, so much so that I own several bottles of my favorite Polish superstition: bursztyn na nalewkę (which is impossible to explain).

Posted by: Searchie on May 23, 2005 11:33 PM

That Scottish article about feminism and alcoholism is on the level of Maureen Dowd.

But it does buttress my theory about how the English can stand their country and culture: they're simply drunk ALL the time. Drinking 3x more than the Italians and French puts young Brit women in the Russian class.

Posted by: jult52 on May 24, 2005 8:50 AM

Searchie, I prefer to wear my amber on, not in... even to "uspokaja sie", as advertised here...

Posted by: Tatyana on May 24, 2005 4:57 PM

I looked through the BBC website and still don't get how Howard Gardner came up with his seven kinds of intelligence? Is there a system involved, or did he just get tired after dreaming up seven categories?

I tested as "linguistic" which doesn't strike me as particularly apt or unapt.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on June 5, 2005 7:00 PM

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