Hotsy Totsy members: Juliet Clark - Ray Davis - Anselm Dovetonsils - Christina La Sala
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The Hotsy Totsy Club

2000-01-18. . . Cholly Kokonino reporting

Headlines for a New Society: It's not news till it's in Salon.

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Character is destiny because destiny is determined by the accumulation of whims. And whims are those decisions that are insignificant enough to be based on character.

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The formula I've used since pre-Mosaic days still explains it all: The Web == low-cost very widely distributed publishing.

To put it another way, Alamut publishes for me, but he doesn't write for me. He doesn't have to (second clause), which is why he does (first).

It appeareth to me that the writing of history is a simple matter. Let each man, from the age of puberty, write of the things which happen to himself. So few men can write that not more than enough will be written.
-- Fr. Rolfe, Don Tarquino: A Kataleptic Phantasmatic Romance

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And speaking of weblogs, "The Deconstructed Journal - a new model for Academic Publishing" suggests that the best current scholarly publishing model (fastest access, most accurate time-of-discovery staking, widest peer review) would be for researchers (or their institutions) to self-publish reports on the Web and for online "journal editors" to publish commented links to those reports: the Web takes care of primary publishing faster, cheaper, and farther than paper, while the "journal" continues to handle focus and peer review.

. . . 2000-01-21

I got up at 4:30 am yesterday and walked home a little after 8 pm, and through fatigue and clouds the lunar eclipse looked for all the world like a wavering flashlight being played alongside a road -- something lost? somebody lost?
All that I have to say is to tell you that the lanthorn is the moon, I the man i'th'moon, this thorn-bush my thorn-bush, and this dog my dog.

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Movie Comment: David Cronenberg's Crash - We are all in the ditch, but some of us are looking at the scars.

. . . 2000-01-23

Must be a pretty recent era -- I'm a decade older than these guys, and my mom had no qualms about making me and my brother split the chores....

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But if you want to raise a young executive, it's probably best to accustom him to indulgence from the start. How can anyone who's scrubbed a toilet manage a decent vision statement? "Visions" (that aren't visions) and "toys" (that aren't toys) are what the "boys" (that aren't boys) need to save themselves for; as for dealing with that-which-is, The Girl will do that for us.

A while ago, I sat in a white-collar-crimes grand jury and heard a year-and-a-half of buffoonish CEOs deny their own competence (more plausibly than they might think) with a formula so consistent that it must be part of the MBA program: no decision had ever been made by them, no memory had ever been set; they were no more than perpetually adorable infants fed and changed by "The Girl." "Sorry, but I let The Girl take care of that kind of thing." "I have no idea, but The Girl would be able to tell you what went on." "Oh, that's over my head; you'd have to ask The Girl."

Grand jurors are allowed to question witnesses, and so the obvious question was occasionally put: "If 'The Girl' does all the work, how come you make all the money?" Though we might briefly eclipse their winsome twinkles, our curiosity was never satisfied, and finally, like everyone else, we got tired of asking.

. . . 2000-01-26

Self-expression: Yes I believe the messages I've paid to have my computer display to me yes I said I do Yes oops go away now (via Beth Rust)

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Movie Comment: Having finally gotten around to The Straight Story (Juliet Clark: "If you're in a bundle of sticks, you can't move"), it's nice to find out that Paul Verhoeven isn't the only Hollywood director with the courage to flaunt his interest in fascism.

The odd thing is that so many reviewers have acted as if the movie is an anomoly in David Lynch's career. He's always maintained good fascist family values: drugs, perversion, urban life, and foreign things are evil; tidiness, lawns, and young Aryans are good. It's just that this time round he didn't try so hard to creep us out with his idea of "evil." For that relief, I'm willing to count it as the best thing he's done since the full-bloodedly Victorian Elephant Man.

But relief and Freddie Francis aren't enough to bring it to the level of his first, where the creepiness came from within. Or, for that matter, to the level of Starship Troopers. I mean, which Nazi visual trope do you think looks coolest on the big screen: bucolic nostalgia or shiny uniforms?

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These United States: We're usually so bitchy about journalism that I feel duty-bound to point to this article from the Miami Herald (via Obscure Store), whose last line is a masterful example of comment-by-placement.

. . . 2000-01-29

Drink

DREAM

EVERYONE'S . . .

. . . ANYTIME

INGREDIENTS ON CROWN
CONTENTS 6 1/2 FL. OZ.
BOTTLED UNDER LICENSE OF
THE DREAM COMPANY
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
LICENSEE'S NAME ON CROWN
Drink DREAM everyone's ... anytime Martha Soukup is an excellent writer. She's also nice to her friends, which is why her "DREAM" bottle went to me rather than to eBay.
The DREAM that Martha gave me was battered, chipped, and empty. All as expected per licensing terms of THE DREAM COMPANY, LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- I'm not complaining! But I couldn't help but wonder....

What INGREDIENTS were on that missing CROWN?

What LICENSEE'S NAME was on that missing CROWN?

To my curiosity's relief came eBay -- yes, the very eBay that I'd cheated out of Martha Soukup's DREAM! -- with an unopened DREAM for sale and a close-up photograph of that DREAM's CROWN.

The INGREDIENTS are "ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR & COLOR"

The LICENSEE'S NAME is "ORANGE SODA"

I don't deserve my life.

DREAM

. . . 2000-01-31

It's odd to think of Beatrix Potter in the Blitz.

It also seems odd that 1940s-top-guy Raymond Chandler was only a couple years younger than James Joyce, whose career ended in 1939.

Well, Chandler didn't start writing until he was 45. And since he didn't live in Europe during WWII, he lasted longer....

Maybe it's just WWII that seems odd.

"John Taylorís compliments and thinks he might pass for a dormouse."

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Dreams: Last night, I attended a surprise birthday party with a couple of friends. Later, I dreamt that when we'd attempted to leave, we had instead been whisked into a back room of the apartment and secreted there for a couple of hours until the guest of honor was finally thanking the host and saying goodbye, at which point we jumped out of the room shouting "SURPRISE!" to startle him all over again.

Having done so, we were at a loss as to how to proceed, and an awkward silence followed.

. . . 2000-02-01

Movie Comment: It's not surprising that the best parts of Topsy Turvy ("IT'LL MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE WATCHING A BUNCH OF EXTRAS STAND UP AND CHEER!" - NY Film Critics) are the backstage-verité scenes -- given his working methods, rehearsals are probably pretty much all Mike Leigh sees of life nowadays -- but even some of those seemed a little queasy. Like the orchestral runthrough where an undisciplined fiddler refers to superstar conductor-composer Sullivan as "Dr. Sullivan" and is heartily corrected ('cause I guess it's supposed to be "Sir Arthur") by a fellow orchestra member, earning appreciative chuckles from the elderly Berkeley audience, who undoubtedly have their own problems with uppity underlings.

Man, I was with the sloppy guy: the only really proper title for a musician is "Perfesser." "Doctor" was already pushing it!

As Nature's Nobleman, H. L. Mencken, pointed out in The American Language: Supplement I, us Americans don't get a lot of practice when it comes to English titular grammar like "Lord before His Grace except after Excellency." Since it was clear that his copyeditors were never going to get titles right, in 1942, Robert R. McCormick, editor of the Chicago Tribune, decided it wasn't worth the trouble to print them at all. But then the English Disapproval Chorale (lead tenor the London Daily Telegraph, owned by Baron Camrose of Long Cross, né William Ewett Barry) turned out not to like that either.

Mencken quotes McCormick's response:

Obviously there would be no confusion in any one's mind if we omitted the Sir from Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery. Nor would any one be in doubt about the identity of the person described as Gov. Windsor of the Bahamas. These changes in style would promote the idea in American minds that our allies, like us, are fighting for democracy....

So far as this country is concerned it will make considerable sacrifices to preserve a British democracy, but it doesn't find any great satisfaction in fighting for an aristocratic Britain. In deference to American opinion we should expect the British to abolish their titles and the privileges that go with them. After all, the deprivation wouldn't amount to much; it isn't as if Camrose didn't have another name that sounds less like soap to fall back on.

. . . 2000-02-02

Where there's a swill, there's a sway.

. . . 2000-02-03

"Thus an agreement may require constant reassurance and work at maintaining relationships to prevent breakdown. This, however, depends on the imperfectness of the conflict resolution obtained. It requires characters not to be quite sure of the common, conflict-free model to which they've converged. If they were sure of it, and it exhibited complete resolution, they'd have no need to bother about each others' feelings." (via Alamut)
At the end of June, 1989, my lover of over eight years left me without warning and without explanation. She came home a little late and was gone two hours later. Two friends told me independently that they'd always secretly thought our relationship was too content to be healthy.

She married a lawyer from her office. I collapsed like a tower of pickup sticks.

And I wasn't the only thing to fall apart.

Who was that pre-Socratic who called the universal binding material "love," as opposed to "the weak attraction force" or "Elmer's"? That guy, yeah. Well, cold turkey withdrawal of the local binding material reduced everything to its constituent elements, and those aren't an appealing sight. Favorite books became ugly over-packed stacks of graphemes. Food was kuk. I couldn't crawl into a bottle 'cause the major constituent elements of even nice wine turns out to smell like poison. The idea that anyone would make noises on purpose seemed absurd. And I reverted to a pre-Griffith state as far as movies went: I could sometimes manage the illusion of movement, but connecting individual shots into a narrative was beyond me. I remember sitting through Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and having no idea why people around me were laughing. (Oddly, I still have that reaction to Seinfeld....) I was a bug pinned to a perfectly blank index card.

Like with other recurrent infections, the best way to get a pleasure back is to weaken your immune system with a new strain: Robert Musil's cold-blooded analyses of emotional extremities revived reading; I also encountered some Language Poetry for the first time and said, "Hey, this makes sense!" I was nursed, weaned, and set back to film school with a little pat on my fanny by repeated viewings of Cat People.

And so forth. Not so much getting over it as planting around it.

After a few years, even the nightmares dropped off. The last one I remember was from 1993 or so: I dreamt I got a phone call from my ex. She was crying, and I had to work to find out what she was trying to say. Finally she told me that she was really really sorry, but she had to sue me.

"Sue me?! What for?!"

"Somewhere between five and fifteen thousand dollars; it depends on your assets."

. . . 2000-02-04

Critics rave: "The drinking man's weblog... the stinking man's weblog. The blinking man's weblog." -- Juliet Clark

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"I let them go on and on, and boy are these dissidents capable of it."
-- Keith Geffen, "Exiles on Main Street"

He ain't just whistling dixie. (When I sold my car to a Russian immigrant, I had to throw in five or six hours of monolog attending.) And after watching Geffen carefully prod each and every possible source of self- or other-loathing, you'll probably say the same about their American-born children. But the fate of Soviet dissidents is one of those subjects that can only be exhausted by exhausting everyone else, too. So it's a good exhaustion. Like with endorphins, except more depressing.

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 2000 Ray Davis.