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Thursday morning there was a pair of believers parked on a bench outside the train station handing out their literature. Various twosomes affiliated with some local god machine occupy this bench several times a week, and they are invariably cheery and nonthreatening. My policy regarding religion—and strangers in general—is you don’t get up in my grill and I won’t get up in yourn. Therefore, as always, I smiled and said good morning and kept on walking.

Then when I got into Union Station there was a pair of missionaries standing on the sidewalk warning passersby to repent for their sins. The woman silently waved a sign around while the dude shouted into a megaphone, which seemed like par for the course. I had no choice but to laugh out loud and keep on walking.

That same afternoon on my way back to the office after lunch there was a white van covered in “END TIMES” stickers blasting the word of the looord unto the street over a loud speaker. I could hear it booming from halfway down the block, which was how I knew it was the lord driving before I even spotted the van. I paused on the sidewalk and stared for a while, until the light changed and He pulled away.

So. p.s. Have you ever seen The Leftovers?

Here's what happened this week.

The song I listened to the most

In truth I haven’t slept in approximately one hundred billion years so I have nothing of import to report. My brain simply isn’t functioning up to its normal (tremendously high) standards, so I laid on the sofa and watched three hours of Golden Girls last night. When in doubt, go to the source. I suppose that’s why others turn to religion in the first place, so let my choice be known. Traditional multi-camera sitcoms will have to save me in the end.

This week I listened mostly to a playlist I made for my dear friend Robert G way back circa 2004, which kicks off with this Ryan Adams classic but also includes good hits by Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Everclear, and Hanson. It’s a real crowd pleaser, this playlist, amongst a crowd of me. It reminds me of Diana and of fine autumn days and sometimes it just feels like stepping back into a better world, if only for a couple of minutes. Sometimes a couple of minutes is all it takes (though naturally I would take more if they were offered).

Some things I read

🔗 Zadie Smith is 100% who I want to be when I grow up, although that will be some trick as she is years younger than I. Alas. This is from a piece she wrote for Elle India:

I grew up in a culture suspiciously eager to convince me that an 80-year-old woman with a 20-year-old man was at the best comically grotesque, at the worst, some form of perversity, while Chaplin and his youthful loves, by contrast, were an example of the ‘agelessness’ of men. But the truth is — as I think those teenage boys suspected — age exists for us all. It comes to you whether you believe in it or not. And I am now very grateful to be in a body that reminds me every day of this simple human truth. Which is not to say age does not bring me sadness, that I don’t sometimes mourn for my 27-year-old self, nor miss a certain version of my face, breasts, legs or teeth. I feel all of that natural, human sadness. And I do all the usual things — exercise, eat decently, dress optimistically — in the hope of slowing the inevitable process. But there are limits to that hope: limits like the menopause, limits like the end of my fertility. And thank God for them, because hope without limit is another word for delusion.

🔗 An important twete; i.e., it’s important to find and follow people who randomly and repeatedly tweet short sexy excerpts from Dorothy L. Sayers books. Take your joy where you can find it, turkeys.

🔗 This oral history of Frasier in Vanity Fair is a nice coda to my Year of Frasier and makes me think I should probably start watching from the start all over again. The world is still a shitbox, after all. There is still a desperate need for laffs. cf. multi-cam note above.

Kelsey Grammer: People always ask how Frasier and Niles came from a father like Martin. Martin’s in public service, into knowing what’s right and wrong. That’s exactly what his sons were. On the simplest level, he was a good man, and their hope was to become the same thing.

David Hyde Pierce: I think there’s a parallel there with Kelsey, me, and John. John was a little older than we were. He had his own “Martin” acting style—no nonsense, no fuss, a Chicago-based approach. Kelsey and I came from New York theater with a slightly more highfalutin style, but we both aspired to be the kind of actor John was.

Something about soap operas

From Louise Spence, Watching Daytime Soap Operas: The Power of Pleasure, which is based on a series of interviews she conducted with soap fans over a period of 15 (!) years:

To some, my respondents' cooperation, forthrightness, and sometimes even pleasure in the interview situation might be interpreted as another indication of their loneliness and powerlessness. To others, it will seem like tangible evidence of their freedom, that they are mistresses of their fate. It may be their secret vice, talking about soaps, but it is also a small act of self-affirmation.

A related bonus

This week on an episode of Hart to Hart called “As the Hart Turns,” Max entered Jennifer into a charity drawing to win a walk-on part on a soap opera called “Doctor’s Hospital” that somehow turned into her being asked to write for the show when the head writer was suddenly murdered by an actor whose character was being killed off. It was too far-fetched even for me, a devoted lover of both this insanely stupid series and of soap operas. What soap opera invites a journalist who is not even a fan of the show to step right up to the writers’ table? How would she even know who the characters were? How would she know whose illegitimate baby was secretly whose? I was frankly insulted, even though I watched the whole way through.

A clip from General Hospital

I do however self-affirm this 12-minute, 32-second carnival of idiocy with zero hesitation, only wonder. It occurs during a period of their marriage when they actively loathe each other, and in fact she is getting ready to kick off a long affair with another dope that will haunt them for all the rest of their days. Ah well! Whatever it takes to be a Quartermaine.

One thing I did

I had my new passport photo taken at Walgreen’s and I honestly looked like a criminal. I couldn’t even believe it was my face, or that this lady who took the picture thought I would ever voluntarily submit such a record to any government agency. I wondered why she had it in for me, or why she wouldn’t just tell me the camera exploded, although I guess it’s unfair to blame her for my face. Then I wisely got a flu shot because one thing I am not a fan of is global pandemics.

A blog post that’s making me happy this week

“Happy” isn’t the appropriate word for it, but I’ve already backed myself into this corner and now I just have to see it through. From Rebecca Fishbein at Splinter, a post called “Who Edited This?” about these screwball White House twit vids:

Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted a similarly exuberant 9/11 message. Later, he did a fun fist pump ahead of a memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And on Tuesday night, the White House permitted him to tweet the above message featuring Trump awkwardly shouting in the Rose Garden along with some interspersed shots of him lumbering around various memorials. I very much liked the image of him presumably glaring at a flag.

She goes on to ask “Who edited this? Was it Eric? I bet it was Eric.”

Your weekly Bruce

Quiet Bruce, somber Bruce, singalong Bruce: very Bruce! In the words of one interplanetary listener, “💟💯💋🌹🌹😭😘🌹😘😭😭💛”

Okay, my parents are coming down today with my brother Todd and his wife so I gotta clean this shitbox STAT. God bless & et cetera, obviously.

Kari GComment