Report from human foosball

The author plays human foosball, enthralling spectators.

Human foosball on Saturday afternoon at Missoula’s Kettlehouse—photo by Foxhole

Human foosball is much like regular foosball. Rows of players try to kick a ball into a goal. They can only move side-to-side. It is played at a bar while drinking, so as it progresses it becomes both more competitive and more terrifyingly arbitrary. The best way to score is not the carefully considered shot but the element of surprise. The main difference—other than that human foosball is played on human scale—is that tabletop foosball players cannot reach one another, to prevent breakage. Human foosball does not incorporate that design.

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Irony of ironies at Hipster Runoff

Not a photo of the pseudonymous Carles, author of Hipster Runoff

Perhaps, like me, you had heard of Hipster Runoff but never actually read it. The site is a sort of parody of mp3 blogs, but to describe it that way is like describing Andy Kaufman as a wrestling comedian. Hipster Runoff is written by Carles, a fictional character whose style is defined by A) relentless use of chat jargon and B) a proliferation of scare quotes, which he seems to put around any concept he does not feel totally comfortable with. Here’s Carles on the vexing question of what he calls bubblegum indie:

What if MGMT’s “KIDS” had come out in 2011? Would they be able to morph into an intriguing ‘indie’ buzzband. When analyzing their ‘success’ in the context of a bubblegum indie MP3 that propelled them to super-mindie stardom, it is easier to understand their ‘drastic change in direction’ for their second album, just to attempt to get rid of some of the entry-level fans who ‘liked’ them 4 the ‘wrong reasons.’

I guess really those are scare apostrophes, but you get the point. Irony of ironies, all is irony. Besides the hilarious conceit of wondering how everything might have been different if it happened, like, three years later, something is being expressed here. What Carles means by “bubblegum indie” is never clearly defined, and he winds up applying it to pretty much every popular-and-then-too-popular hipster jam of the decade. That’s his point. Hipster Runoff is a blog about the existential bugbear of hipsterism: authenticity.

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Ethical dilemma of the day: hipsters on food stamps

At this point, the iconography of hipsterism has become so esoteric as to just be iconography itself. If your primary focus is your clothes and you still look terrible, you're a hipster. Photo courtesy of

Salon provides us with an interesting ethical question/reminds us of its existence today, with this article about hip, educated young people who use food stamps to buy organic groceries. Much to the consternation of Mose, hipsters have been a perennial object of fascination here at Combat! blog, in part because they’re so difficult to pin down. In reporting the apparent uptick in hipster consumption of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit cards, Jennifer Bleyer acknowledges the difficulty of proving that what she’s writing about is actually happening. “The increase in food stamp use among this demographic is hard to measure,” she admits, “as they represent a cross section of characteristics not specifically tracked by the Agriculture Department, which administers the program.” When writing about hipsters, one must continually examine the possibility that they do not exist. For Bleyer’s purposes, the hipster is a fairly identifiable, if vague, marketing demographic: twenty/thirtysomething, college-educated, and willing to pay money for organic tarragon. In this case, the money is yours.

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Friday links! Nation of fops edition

Heavens! I shall be late for the book-signing!

Heavens! I shall be late for the book-signing!

It’s Friday, November 20th, and it is on such crisp, bright autumn days that our nation should pull on its jodhpurs, bundle itself in its most worsted wool, hike to the crest of the nearest hilly meadow and take a long, hard look at what pussies we’ve become. Mammograms, books, movies about vampires, books by vampires—one look at the news of the day tells us that the whole country is beset by dandyism. If we’re not debasing ourselves with effeminate pursuits like reading and getting cancer screenings, we’re shrieking in outrage at the latest public perfidy and then doing absolutely nothing about it. Ours is an era in which scoundrels run roughshod, and the righteous must content themselves with their indignation. Some might call it a more civilized society, but I—having left my mountain fortress for temporary lodgings in the comparatively urban Castle Faswell, where I am dogsitting—know that the company of strangers is not an obligation to be borne, but an opportunity to be seized. Strangers are morons, as all polls and YouTube comments sections indicate, and they must be corrected. What does Stringer Bell Faswell, excitable labrador, do when he is confronted with a stranger? He leaps into the air and licks him on the inside of his gaping mouth, or bites him on the ear, depending on the quality of his character. No dandy Stringer Bell, and the rest of us fops might take a lesson from him. When a fat morning radio DJ who has found Jesus and therefore gets to be on television gibbers lies from his greasy lips, must we simply press our handkerchiefs to our mouths and swoon? Or can we draw our rapiers, which we presumably have in this analogy although the time period is kind of fuzzy, and challenge him? The truth is in fashion no matter how ruffly our shirts, and I, for one, demand satisfaction. In the meantime, though, I guess I’ll just keep doing the blog.

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New Levi’s commercial offers hope to dirty, half-underwater America

Woman, you also need a shirt.

Bitch, you also need a shirt.

If you’ve recently been to a movie targeted at 18- to 34-year-olds—Zombieland, say, or Couples Retreat, which are basically the same movie when you think about it—you’ve probably seen thew new “Go Forth” line of Levi’s commercials. The campaign involves a variety of spots for film, print and television, but the one I like best opens on a flickering neon sign half-submerged in floodwater. The sign reads, of course, “America,” and the ad proceeds—over a wax-cylinder recording of Walt Whitman reading his famous poem of the same name—to show us a series of slums, riots and scenes of rural poverty, intercut with shots of dirty children/manchildren running around in blue jeans, ending with the gunshot crack of fireworks and the admonition, “Go forth.” As usual, by “like best” I mean “am most disturbed by.” Video after the break:

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