Norm Macdonald’s genius is not looking smart

Stubble sent me this video examining the comedic genius of Norm Macdonald, which is a good thing because I am burnt the fudge out. Consider this your Friday link. In its consideration of the moth joke and why Macdonald is not an anti-comic, it touches on some of the same themes as our discussion of the moth joke. Another element of Macdonald’s career that the video points out, though, is how successfully he presented smart material within the persona of an idiot rube. Some of it is the voice. But a lot of it is the way Macdonald manages to cover complex structures in a veneer of meandering confusion. He is doing something very specific and precise, even as he manages to make it seem like he is making it up and/or forgetting it as he goes along. In my opinion, this skill puts him in the tradition of Mark Twain and other humorists who developed the stock character of the wise hick. I don’t know if you noticed this, but I’m super into Norm Macdonald. Also I made a big deadline today, and I feel A) tired and B) good. I’ll see you guys on Monday.

Combat! blog gets that paper, isn’t useful

A memorial to the late Princess Diana in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK

I think I can say without exaggeration that I am in the busiest month of my life. There is no Combat! blog today, because I have expended my working day on remunerative labor and now must go care child. While I take a village, how about you gaze upon this photograph of a, um, heartfelt memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. It was created by a team of volunteers using natural materials, so if you’re among those who “mercilessly mocked” it, in the words of Metro News, you are probably a bad person. Still, most memorials do not commemorate the date of the subject’s death and the date that the memorial was made. We know it’s 2017, you guys. On the other hand, they nailed the hair. We’ll be back tomorrow with something more substantial, or just a broken blood vessel in our eye.




I am old now


Today is my birthday, and I think I can say with confidence that this is the oldest I have ever been. There were a couple years in my late twenties when I wrote obsessively about subway etiquette like a septuagenarian, but now I am even more crotchety than that. I feel good, though. Ongoing physical therapy notwithstanding, I am probably in the best shape of my life. I am engaged to be married, which is a young person’s game, and I have the judgment of a man half my age. Such a man would still be able to buy cigarettes, which is sobering, but I suppose my continued aging is pretty good when I consider the alternative. It is better to be young, but it is best to live. I have lived about half of what a modern person can reasonably expect, and it feels all right. I think I will keep doing it.

I am hereby putting Combat! blog on hiatus until Monday, August 28th. It’s a logistical choice, not an emotional one. My brother and The Cure are here in Missoula even as we speak, and several other good friends will arrive in the coming days to observe my birthday this weekend. On Monday, we are traveling to see the eclipse. On Tuesday, I fly to New York on assignment, and the rest of the week will be consumed with reportage. These are all excellent conflicts to have, and my only regret is that they will deprive you, the gentle reader, of my arbitrary and sometimes destructive opinions. Probably you could stand a break from me, though. In the meantime, how about you watch this amazing Vice segment on the violence in Charlottesville? Spoiler alert: It will make you think that white nationalists are dicks. I’ll see you in 12 days.

Combat! blog gets that paper, isn’t useful


Friends, you would not believe how many deadlines I made today. Did you know you can hire me to do difficult work on short notice in exchange for exorbitant amounts of money? It’s true, especially the exorbitant part. It’s worth it, though, to hire the kind of writer who doesn’t miss deadline. How do I do it? Mostly by passing the savings on to you, the loyal Combat! blog reader, in the form of not posting. There is no blog today, because I have typed my fingers to the bone and cannot think anymore. While I immerse myself in the nonlinguistic world of fencing practice, how about you read this story about two real estate speculators who bought the street portion of one of San Francisco’s most expensive private streets? Tina Lam and Michael Cheng bought Presidio Terrace—home to multimillion-dollar mansions owned by congresspeople and other members of the ruling class—at auction for $90,000, after the homeowners association failed to pay a $14 annual tax for several years running. Now Lam and Cheng are they’re trying to decide what to do with it. Ideas include charging residents for parking or just selling the street back to them for a gajillion dollars. Given the broader socio-economic environment of San Francisco, I’m tempted to call this irony. It’s probably just late capitalism feeding on itself, though. Either way, it’s nice to see the commodification of land biting the investor class, for once. We’ll be back tomorrow with something more substantial.

Friday links! Kulturkampf edition

Donald Trump quotes over images of Lucille Bluth

One of the most reliable depressants of the past nine months has been thinking about the kind of system Donald Trump rises to the top of. What sort of milk do we swim in, if he is the cream? The ready explanations are that America is a nation of morons, hucksters or, most alarmingly, both. It’s scary to consider. The fear we are talking about here is fear of culture. Conservatives have conspired with centrist newspaper columnist to make “culture war” the call of the nincompoop, but we do care where our culture goes, don’t we? There must be ways to make it better, such as reading, and probably ways to make it worse, such as stepsibling-themed pornography. Today is Friday, and kulturkampf is raging whether we enlist or not. Won’t you take a picnic basket up the hill with me?

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