Sunday, November 18, 2018

Bad Poetry Night

The best of the worst:
“Trees” made Kilmer famous, but his reputation slipped as tastes changed and modernists like Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot ascended. Carefully rhymed poems like Kilmer’s suddenly seemed, well, sappy. Eventually Kilmer was considered dreadful enough to parody with a contest that values the ability to string thoughts together the way he did: enthrallingly, even absorbingly. But also badly.

… all that a poem can do is make the heart feel
Lifeless illusions of things not quite real...

This is just a bad poem and I have no remorse.
This is just a bad poem and for it I’ve no recourse.
And if you say this poem’s bad, I’ll say: no, it’s worse.

Yeah, I just rhymed remorse with worse. Case in point.

— From an untitled poem by David Lalo

So, in its way, the Kilmer competition complements the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which recognizes atrocious opening lines for novels and is named for a 19th-century British writer infamous for beginning a novel, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

At the Kilmer contest, the entrants took their commitment to badness almost literally. One ended his poem like this: “Bad, bad, bad, bad.”
If you can't do the time, don't commit the rhyme crime...

Welcome To Flatland

One big happy Flat Earth family?
Sure there are schisms. Multiple YouTubers make snipes at other YouTubers during their presentations. Trolls like one or more of the Tim Ozmans make bomb threats. All the major speakers are at odds with the Flat Earth Society, whom many describe as “controlled opposition.” The first night concludes with a formal debate between a Christian literalist who believes Earth is flat and a Christian literalist who believes Earth is round but that the solar system orbits Earth, not the sun.

But overall, the conference is a barrage of reinforcement. Earth is flat and you’re here with your Flat Earth family. Earth is flat and you’re here with your Flat Earth family.

I take a break from a presentation to type in the lobby. Two strangers, a man and a woman, sit down across from me, and over the course of a long conversation, scooch closer and closer to each other until I relocate to another couch. For all the presenters’ talk of open-mindedness and debate, people are really looking for others like them.
Insanity breeds familiarity...

Super Ego

You don't mess with the fan base:
In a blog post published on his website Saturday, Maher wrote: “The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning. Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.”

“But then twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature,” Maher continued.

“The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff. I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important,” the comedian wrote.
Maher’s comments drew immediate ire from comic book fans and writers alike, with cartoonist Greg Capullo and writer G. Willow Wilson denouncing Maher’s analysis.
Bill Maher, super-villain? 'Nuff said!

True Believers

Jerry Brown says the unfaithful will convert:
On the California fires, Brown said, “Well, how they started is now the subject of investigation. The consultation occurs because the brush, the vegetation is so dry, and the humidity is so low. And when you have that and then the heat and years of drought, that gets it going. In paradise, there were a lot of buildings that also caught fire, and it just went from one to the other. So it’s a mixture of many things, and the president talked about how our forests are managed. That’s an element. But there is also the way the houses were built, the materials, what kind of vegetation is around, and then there’s also the changing climate and the increasing drought and the lowered humidity and water vapor. All of that is combining to create the tragic situation that we saw today in both northern California and here in southern California.”
But there's still plenty of hot air over the issue...

Saturday, November 17, 2018

GOP S.O.S.

Whatever happened to the Republican Party?
The entire GOP landscape across the country is undergoing a seismic shift. Suburban voters -- once a source of tremendous strength for the GOP -- are abandoning the party in droves. The same holds true for much of the Midwest, where the term "rock-ribbed Republican" was born.

Looking at the GOP today, we see a party strong in the upper and lower South and mountain West, but becoming increasingly isolated in the Midwest. There are still pockets of Republican strength in rural areas of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, but those areas are shrinking while Democratic cities, suburbs, and ex-urbs are growing. East of the Alleghenies, it's a Republican wasteland.

Is Trump accelerating the GOP decline? There's no doubt that Trump's antics as president have energized his base. They are, if anything, more loyal and enthusiastic today than they were when he was elected.

The rest of the country? Not so much.

As leader of the party, Trump is responsible for its growth or decline. Right now, it's declining across the board. The answer is not goosing Trump's base supporters. The answer has to be broadening the appeal of the party.
And perhaps reclaiming actual, conservative values?

Lunchables Time

In praise of lunchables:
The brand has had its shifts—introducing and later phasing out hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as dabbling in breakfast—but its core selling points of convenience (for parents) and fun (for kids) have remained constant since its early days. At a time when many parents are attuned to shifting nutritional advice and want to avoid wasteful consumer products, there is still ample appetite for a sugary, fatty prepared lunch that comes in a disposable plastic tray.

“It’s been that fun lunch … and I think that’s what kept it evergreen,” says Greg Guidotti, the head of marketing at Oscar Mayer, which makes Lunchables and is owned by the enormous food company Kraft Heinz. “There’s a ritual involved with opening it, and stacking it, and building it,” he told me, in describing the enduring appeal to kids of assembling the components in a Lunchables tray.
Gather ye crackers and ham slices...

Poor Man's Jacket

Don't flaunt that coat:
The Independent reports that according to headteacher Rebekah Phillips, parents had asked for the prohibition:

“We are very concerned about the fact that our children put a lot of pressure on parents to buy them expensive coats,” she said. Pupils were attending classes in coats that cost up to £700, she said, adding “a lot of parents at our school cannot afford that”.

Those pupils who did not have expensive outerwear were upset, she continued. “They feel stigmatised, they feel left out, they feel inadequate,” she said.

Phillips said some parents previously had had an issue with students’ “designer rucksacks.”

From the story:

“The support from parents/carers has been overwhelmingly positive and we are very thankful for this.

“Some have also asked whether Pyrenex coats, which are also in a similar price range (with some also having real fur) will also be prohibited.
You will wear what they want you to wear...