Friday links! Paid pipers edition
I am sick. I had fun in LA; I flew on a plane and stayed up late and drank alcohol, and now it is time to pay the piper. My throat is scratchy and all that meets my vision is dirty dishes. Maybe I have a fever. Maybe I am thinking clearly, and everything objectively sucks. One thing is certain: you cannot have a good time without paying the piper. He may or may not be the same one who led your rats and then your children away from the village, out into the country to do god knows what. We only know that the piper is a jerk, and possibly an allegory for the rule of law, and that he must be paid. Today is Friday, and I am forking it over.
You know who else is a jerk and forked it over? This kid in the Ukraine, who gradually spent his parents’ life savings on candy. It’s a better read if you ignore Caity Weaver’s compulsive asides, like watching Singled Out with the sound off. With the help of an adult friend who had been “diagnosed with a mental disorder,” the nine year-old purchased $4,000 worth of candy using the various foreign currencies his parents had hidden under the couch. He is dead now. No word on which disorder the adult friend was diagnosed with or if he was wearing a multicolored costume.
It’s only a matter of time before leading a child away at immense cost to his parents becomes a named personality disorder, along with all other patterns of behavior that are not strictly crazy but also not good. Benedict Carey establishes himself as the Caity Weaver of periodic AP sentences with his report on the effort to systematize the diagnosis of personality disorders. “It wasn’t supposed to be this difficult,” he writes, before launching into a description of the Greek myths of Narcissus and Ares. When, exactly, was clinical psychology not supposed to be difficult? Regardless, I think personality disorders are great. They’re why your ex-girlfriend was not just a bad choice but actually medically impossible to get along with.
Meanwhile, in all other elements of our culture, personality disorders continue to be celebrated. Zach Baron’s review/meditation/essay on Killing Them Softly is that shit I do like. It doesn’t really tell us if the film is good or bad; it doesn’t startle us with Baron’s expertise/ability to invent new adjectives. It just describes what KTS is like and how it might fit into the larger project of making movies and entertaining ourselves. I strongly prefer that style of reviewing to the thumbs-up/thumbs-down approach, which becomes useless after you actually see the film in question. Baron gives us something to think about going in, which is a whole lot more useful than the conceit that we need him to tell us what to watch.
Anyway, that’s what I spend my time thinking about—fundamental generic conventions of the film and music review. It makes me happy, in the same way that raising a child or addressing social injustice pleases certain weirdos. Or maybe not—maybe what people really like is having sex and drinking alcohol. You think that study of self-reported happiness is a beam of light penetrating the fog of social convention, and then you read about where the studiers found their reports: text messages. “Researchers used text messaging to build up a map of what activities people routinely rated as bringing the most and least happiness to their daily lives,” DNA India tells us. One of the activities that makes people least happy: texting. Self-reflection remains completely absent from both lists.
Click here for an instant Cosby. (Note: actual Bill Cosby, not the sexual euphemism.) Props to Stubble for the link. My current Instant Cosby—number 001121147—is particularly weird and hilarious, and I know that once I click for another one, I will never find it again. Thus does Instant Cosby become a metaphor for life.