Friday links! Affected nonchalance edition


Just one of many faces made by a man who won’t be president, so whatever

Welp, Hillary Clinton wrecked Donald Trump in Monday’s debate. You can tell he lost by the mania with which he insists he won. Now that the queen has slain the frog prince, as we always knew she would, we can go back to treating Trump’s candidacy like the joke it is. Remember last week, when FiveThirtyEight had them in a dead heat? That was before Hillary got that sweet, sweet three-point post-debate bounce. Now that people have seen Trump is belligerent and nonspecific, he can’t win. And isn’t he orange? I find this to be the drollest election of our lifetimes, and certainly not a clear rupture between the American experiment and its decline. Today is Friday, and Republicans sure will be embarrassed when we look back on it. Won’t you count these eggs as chickens with me?

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A theory of taste: fantastic naturalism

First, I’m warning you right now that there is going to be way less Combat! blog than you want this week, yet way more than I actually have time to write. Here’s a pro tip for all you freelancers out there: tell everyone you’re going on vacation. I have received more projects labeled “emergency” since I went on vacation than I had previously gotten in my entire career. The next time you see me, I will be wearing a panda skin monocle. Second, the Theory of Taste promised in the headline is not the useful kind of aesthetic theory. It is a theory of my taste, which is notoriously bizarre. Ready? Yesterday, while inflicting an interpretive rendition of a cartoon I had seen six years ago on my brother, who has long since reconciled himself to such tortures, I realized that there is a through-line in much of the animated humor that I like: ultra-naturalistic dialogue and voice acting in the context of fantastic situations. I think that cartoons in which monsters, superheroes, space cowboys and other fantasy characters have to live in apartments and work at jobs are hilarious. Those of you once forced by the pursuit of English degrees to read the execrable Gabriel Garcia Marquez are familiar with the literary genre known as magical realism, in which key aspects of human consciousness go unaddressed in favor of love turning women into butterflies. That sucks. But what does not suck is the style of humor that I’m going to call Fantastic Naturalism.

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Trident commercial lays out worst argument in sales history


The fanciful commercial above is for Trident Layers, a chewing gum that contains a layer of mouthwash or food coloring or industrial epoxy or something in the middle. The candy industry is a fresh, minty mystery to me, but I assume now is not a great time to try to sell a new kind of gum to adults. Perhaps for that reason, Trident has broken the standards set by Juicy Fruit* and Doublemint** to go with something funny—sorry, “funny.” Like many commercials, this one is essentially a comedy sketch. Unlike many commercials, it is predicated on the viewer believing that the product being sold is not worth the money.

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