Friday links! Dumber than fiction edition

God bless you, Village Idiot Fail girl. Everything in this photograph—birthers, the slogan “Nobama,” nose rings, Dr. Pepper, college—is refuted by your endorsement. You are internet famous, even though your utkatasana is passable at best, and you could not have made a funnier picture if you did it on purpose. The truth is dumber than fiction. It’s Friday, and we have survived a week more mind-boggling than anything literature could invent—even Italo Calvino in his famous story, “A Village In Kenya is Missing There, Idiot.” Won’t you invert traditional distinctions between actual and artifice with me?

Like a toddler whose parents are kissing, Ann Coulter Tweeted her ass off during the presidential debate. To wit:

That ticking sound is the countdown to Coulter’s last television appearance, after which she will be alone with her assessment of self. That flapping sound is the wings of comeuppance, bearing aloft this open letter from Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephens. You don’t need a high IQ to know how to seize the moral high ground. I assume that Coulter issued a rebuttal in which she accuses Stephens of being a socialist and compares him to Nazi eugenicists, after which she hung upside-down from the curtain rod and waited for dark.

As a person who types for a living, I greeted the New York Times’s Draft feature with excitement followed immediately by disappointment. Garfield was right: it’s easier if you cut out the middleman. This week, however, Ben Yagoda finally stopped talking about the Force long enough to discuss my favorite punctuation mark, the em dash. I could have used it twice in this paragraph, but I restrained myself. His assessment of its effect in Emily Dickinson’s poetry is so good that I will forgive him the claim that the following sentence is correctly punctuated:

He was worse than a provincial, he was parochial.

Every time I see a comma splice, I think of Carolyn Jacobson. Every time I see a momma slice, I think of Sarah Palin, who went far wide with her criticism of the president’s “shuck and jive schtick” re: Benghazi. “Shuck and jive” refers to the performance of blackness in order to subvert or deflect the expectations of white people. “Schtick” is a Yiddish word that nobody cares about. Sarah Palin’s schtick is to not worry about saying verkakte stuff, because it will just give her an opportunity to indignantly defend herself later. At the bottom of that page, you can see the context of Palin’s claim that liberals are hypocrites because Chris Matthews used “shuck and jive” with Rachel Maddow. I submit that there is a difference when you say it about a black man, in the same way people would not have freaked out if Palin had accused Obama of “munching box” on Libya.

But maybe we’re reading too much into an innocent remark. Chuck Klosterman has written a fascinating meditation on how analysis can produce its own meaning, which manages to address both New Criticism and the claim that Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing. Klosterman addresses a phenomenon he calls “immersion criticism,” whereby the availability of movies on DVD and the internet allows us to watch them more times—and therefore examine them more myopically—than ever before. In high Klostermaniacal style, he both acknowledges that such criticism is insane and commends it. “I always want people to go further,” he writes, “even if their espoused destination does not exist.”

That’s only cool for cultural artifacts, though. Applied to real phenomena, our willingness to connect everything to everything can get out of hand:

You can see a bigger version of those charts here. You can’t make that stuff up, although you can put it together and make a bunch of other stuff up. Video, however, is pure, unadulterated truth. To witness another thing immersion criticism can give us, advance this video to 16:50 and watch a sixth-man violation that has gone undiscovered since the 1992 NBA playoffs:


In the upper left-hand corner, you can see number 22 casually wander onto the court and play the last seconds of the game. The refs didn’t. Props to Stubble for the link. It’s not important now, anyway. That game is gone, as are the Seattle Supersonics, and nothing really matters except for the new Titus Andronicus album, as the new Titus Andronicus album reminds us.



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  1. We move blithely from Sarah Palin’s “shuck’n and jive’n” comment regarding the President of the United States to John Sununu’s
    opining that Colin Powell is endorsing Obama only because he is (also) black. (“When a member of your own race……”)

    What is truly extraordinary here is that these two public figures actually said these things out loud.

    But, then, this is the party of candidates who speak of “legitimate rape” and “God’s will” (in reference to rape-caused pregnancy).

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