Posts in weeknote
An audacious plan to save the world

I have consumed X,000 mg of caffeine since 5:30 a.m. while listening to The Blend on SiriusXM, although I had to change the channel when Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” came on. Blech. For the record, these are songs I will change the channel on:

  • Candle in the Wind

  • Sympathy for the Devil

  • Imagine

  • It’s a Wonderful World

  • Hotel California

  • anything by that flute band

+ Important news: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! starts streaming on Tuesday!

I set some low bars for myself this week.

The song I listened to the most

No comment on all the trash floating through the universe, but this song is the best.

Some things I read

🔗 9 Big Bang Theory episodes that will win over skeptics

In my experience, trying to convince anyone to love anything you love is a useless effort. I have succeeded exactly one time, when I talked my friend SarahB into watching 20 hours of Battlestar Galactica over a single weekend, but that was just me being a good friend. The best kind of friend.

Anyway, a woman in this sitcom writing class I took back in ’08 tried convincing me that The Big Bang Theory was actually a funny, smart sitcom with well-developed characters, and I said “hogwash” with confidence, because based on what I knew about this sitcom at the time (which was nothing), how could this possibly be true? But it is true. It’s been on for a billion years now and is a prime example of a series that has used those years to expand and deepen its own universe in incremental yet profound ways. Individual episodes can be dumb and lazy, based on who’s doing the writing that week, but name one television show where that is not the case. Everything has clunkers.

Over the past five years it has become my blue mood show, the one I seek out when nothing else works, even though I can’t say exactly why, As favored NPR critic/Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes writes, “How do you explain what makes you laugh? How do I explain that Jim Parsons is just funny to me? And that some of the darling comedies of modern criticism, highly valued for their incisive, dark, weird insights, are not funny to me? How do I explain that sometimes I am, comedically speaking, a cheap date? The cheapest date?”

Sheldon has always reminded me of a cross between Jiminy Cricket, Barney Fife, and Mr. Rogers. My #1 episode is the one where he gets all the cats because he’s sad about Amy (“The Zazzy Substitution”). I will watch it repeatedly until the end of time:

A grasp of narrative is the one compliment you can give the country genre even when you can’t give it anything else. Its roots are in folk music, and its towering figures are oral historians like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Not cool enough to be relevant to any streaming age existential crises, the winning country formula has not seen a major change in my lifetime. Two beers deep on Tuesday night, I thought about all the barns and hardware stores I’d heard Womack’s “Mendocino County Line” or “Little Past Little Rock” drifting out of as a kid, and tinkered with the idea that country songs are functionally like podcasts—linear entertainment you’re entitled to enjoy during the workday. A story is more vital than a hook or beat, in that context. A story built from tropes is even better, like falling asleep streaming a romantic comedy you’ve seen before. Country music is maligned—and rightly so—for corniness, misogyny, and flat, unexamined whiteness, but it is unendingly winning at the short story.

🔗 Warren Ellis on withdrawing from social media: “I still get broadcast waves.  I’m still engaged with the world and learning every day.  But I’ve chosen a quiet life in the fog.  I leave you to that other world. I like it better where I am.”

SOMETHING ABOUT SOAP OPERAS

From Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera:

Finally, the genre’s structure encourages viewers to develop certain ways of watching, and the daytime audience’s unique viewing practices help to explain the special power of issue-oriented story lines. Regular viewers have a rich, complex relationship to their favorite programs and possess a dense historical knowledge of the relationships among the characters. Whether they watch in real time or on videotape (ed. !), the daily broadcast of soaps permits viewers to make the shows part of their regular domestic routine, and that repetition works to build an intimate connection with the individual characters.

A clip from General Hospital

It’s all true. I watched the relationship between these two characters develop over decades. Knowing everything about their history is everything that makes this storyline and these scenes deeply resonant and precious to me: the care that they take with each other, the trust between them, even just the way they sit and talk to each other. The way that they grew and changed together. This is what soap operas do. Again I repeat: for all their faults and insanity, there is no other format that enables this in the same way, that allows and demands it, that embeds and rewards this patience and this loyalty in the bargain it makes with its viewers.

One thing I did

I took a cooking class at Sur la Table on Wednesday; it was me and two dudes learning how to make pizza at home. And lo, it was good! Good for the heart and the soul and the belly. My goal for the rest of 2018 is to not be afraid of flour. Cross your fingers!

Your weekly Bruce

Bruce performing an earnest sermon for an audience of thousands beneath a setting sun is one of my favorite Bruces: “A dream of life comes to me / Like a catfish dancin' on the end of my line.” BRUUUUUUUUUUCE. He always makes me happy.

In other news, I like to reward people for reaching the bottom, and your reward is knowing that what I keep thinking are bald spots in my eyebrows are actually, upon closer inspection, only patches of gray. So life goes on. Congratulations!

weeknoteKari G Comments
Going back to go forward

Among friends I’m known for my serial ravings on trivial, non-controversial topics: hot weather, shredded lettuce, the shocking lack of spatial awareness displayed by tourists on New York City sidewalks in the midtown area or anywhere, really.

It’s true that I love the sound of my own voice and have opinions on many idiot things and also feel friendship has costs that should be silently borne by others. In turn they generally submit, knowing eventually it will burn itself out like the flame of a well-priced Yankee candle. Usually nobody cares enough to fight back, except this one time in college when I was ranting for so long about women’s names that end in the letter “i”—Juli, Sandi—that finally my roommate Debbie (wise) put her hand on my arm and gently said, “Um, Kari?”

Here's what happened this week.

The song I listened to the most

Apple Music and others keep trying to foist new music on me with their crafty personalized algorithmic mixes that mysteriously appear under the presumptuous heading “For You” and I defiantly stand up and shout FUCK OFF at all of them. All I want is this Bob Seger song that I used to listen to on my Sony Walkman late at night late in the summer at my grandparents’ cabin on the lake, when everybody else was sleeping and the world belonged to me. It is wistful and autumnal in all the best ways. Even in my teens I suffered from a gauzy, romantic view of time passing and I have always loved the part where he sings about the cold wind blowin’ from the north and how the summer birds are leavin’. And it’s true! They really are! I can hear them outside right now and my feet are freezing!

Some things I read

I flew to New York for a meeting this week so I finally had time on the plane to read some of the millions of Instapaper articles I save daily. There were so many good ones! Don’t believe the internet when people on it say it’s only garbage. It’s people who are garbage. The internet will save us all.

🔗 Ruby Tandoh on respecting old loves:

Obviously it's good to try something strange and expand your horizons. I don’t want to always tread the same paths. But you can’t go boldly forth if you don’t know what you’re made of, and away means nothing if you don’t know home. All around is bad news and bad men and awfulness, but I’m building a little fortress that’s helping me keep afloat. I’m patching up a ‘me’ that’s been neglected for too many years, and surrounding myself with all the things that make me who I am: Mars bars, that threadbare tea dress, Green Wing. For maybe the first time in my life, I’m really savouring the experience of being the same old me. I'm a muddle of all the boring, weird, melodramatic, awful, saccharine, unglamorous, awkward things that I've loved. And you know what? It tastes great.

🔗 Jazmine Hughes buys a new bra:

Earlier this year, I couldn’t stop buying Woman things. Delicate jewelry with curves slimmer than the white of my fingernail; luminous foundation that costs more than dinner; white wide-legged jeans that emphasized the width of my hips. I wanted to feel ladylike and graceful. Grown-up, deliberate. I wanted to experience the sensation, the sound—or what the sound brought to mind growing up—of my mother’s gold bracelets as they jangled or her keys as they clinked together right before entering our home. For months, I wanted everything to smell like roses. I washed my face and balmed my lips, and dotted my neck, and sprayed my hair with the same scent, trying to smell freshly plucked.

🔗 Justin Illingworth on the journals of John Cheever:

Each entry is perfectly sized, strangely lambent, its effect concentrated and distilled. One is astounded by the lightness of his touch, his piquant or affecting details that bathe an observation in grace. “The storm moves around to the east and finally strikes the valley. The air is aromatic the instant the rain falls. Ben cuts a paper airplane for his little brother. The old dog will not leave my side.” The economy of such sentences belies their emotional weight and inexplicable familiarity. There is no better conjuror of this particular atmosphere: the happy-sad, window-dreaming melancholy of late afternoon.

[lambent: adjective: playing lightly on or over a surface: flickering]

Something about soap operas

There is not as much writing about General Hospital online as there should be, but I stumbled across a couple of blog posts last spring while cleverly googling “General Hospital.” These posts from 2014 were actually essays written by an English professor named William Bradley who used to watch the show daily when he was undergoing chemotherapy in his early 20s. This is from “On Soap Operas, or, We Read and Watch Our Stories in Order to Live”:

While it’s dangerous to live in the past, to give in to nostalgia’s deceptive pull, I think we’re well-served by making an effort to remember the world as it existed, as we perceived it at the time. Holding onto what was real keeps us rooted to who we have been, and reminds us of the world– or, perhaps more accurately, worlds– we have lived in. The history books will remember the presidents and the captains of industry. Neither Nabokov nor Twain will ever go out of print. Scholars and culture critics will make sure we remember the Citizen Kanes and The Wires.

But who is going to remember the One Life to Lives? Or the Howard the Ducks? Or The Gong Shows? These things were part of our cultural landscape for a time. People worked hard on them, and surely their efforts and the work that resulted ought to be remembered in some way. They might not have had the lasting impact the works of high art are supposed to have, but they mattered to a lot of people, who labored on them or experienced them as an audience that cried, laughed, or played along at home.

And who, for that matter, will remember me?

That post includes a lovely tribute to the actor John Ingle, who played the role of Edward Quartermaine for two decades and who died of cancer in 2012.

He died of cancer as well, this writer, William Bradley, sometime last summer. I didn’t know him, but we loved the same thing in the same way, and I was deeply, immensely, wildly grateful to him for writing about it. And I will remember him for that.

A clip from General Hospital

Monica Quartermaine’s breast cancer storyline played out over a three-year period in unsparing yet soapy detail, and as with all soap opera storylines it was cross-pollinated with other subplots along the way—not only diving into its profound effects on her husband Alan and their marriage but also her best friend Bobbie Spencer, a newly adopted daughter, and the affair Monica had with a hot young doctor who later sued her for sexual harassment (and who even later she kidnapped and threatened to lobotomize for reasons I am not quite clear on).

This clip includes a sweet, short scene where Alan and Monica talk about her leaving for treatment at a hospital in Arizona. But it kicks off with John Ingle, as family patriarch Edward Quartermaine, telling his wife Lila about a woman he had an affair with long before who, unbeknownst to him, gave birth to an illegitimate son Edward was later accused of killing and burying in her back yard. God bless soap operas and the people who love them. Vive le soap!

One thing I did

I told my boss I’d like to work from home full time and she said okay.

A blog post that’s making me happy this week

Rebecca Thomas wrote this in her newsletter, which as far as I’m concerned is the same thing as a blog:

This little newsletter is an experiment into what’s possible. Setting aside big plans and the pressure that accompanies all that is the only way I’ve ever propelled myself to something better.

I’ve published seventy-six issues of something no one asked for. I love the dogged obtuseness of that. More than mastery, I’d like that to be my trademark.

I’ve published hundreds upon hundreds of posts that no one ever asked for, that no one has to care about, that no one even has to read. I’ve shared them with you but I wrote them for me.

Your weekly Bruce

Oh it’s nothing, just a used car salesman wearing his daddy’s best jacket playing some rock ‘n roll.

weeknoteKari G Comments
How to plan for your retirement

It’s all fun & games until you stab yourself with the meat thermometer.

Ravinia Bob asked me a couple of weeks ago what my dream job would be and I said writing about old soap operas. Luckily that will never be a job, unless somebody is paying in unicorn dollars. Then I told him about my strategy to avoid revealing too much to others in conversation, which is to keep asking questions. Most people really only want to talk about themselves, so I let them do it. This is my policy at work and even in life most of the time, to be cagey about my own affairs and wisely keep the other person talking. I save all my secrets for this important blog.

Here's what happened this week.

THE SONG I LISTENED TO THE MOST

In truth this is a song I've listened to for most of the past six months, ever since I first heard it on The Highway (SXM™) while pulling out of the parking lot at Target, which is a weirdly specific memory (cf. memory + music). I heard the opening of the chorus first and said out loud to myself, what a deeply offensive song this is! I can't believe it's playing right here on the sat rad that fueled 30% of my retirement funds! (Jk, I'll never be able to retire.) And then I clapped my trap and listened to the rest of it, and quickly came to appreciate how he wedges the word "difference" into what's essentially a one-syllable beat. This is a feat I haven't been able manage no matter how many times I practice (it's been six months, as I said, so I've practiced a lot). 

Any of the following could be used to identify me as the writer of an anonymous op ed

This whole stupid story feels like it happened a million years ago, doesn't it? I truly believe experiencing the daily dread of this cracker-fuck phase in American history is what is making me feel so old lately, and sucking the soul out of my own American soul. Anyway, here's my list.

  • Anyway

  • Exclamation points

  • Semicolons

  • Em dashes!

  • Egregious commas,

  • Sly parenthetical asides

  • Kind of

  • Sort of

  • Extravagantly self-indulgent run-on sentences

  • FYI

  • Lol

  • Ugh

  • Gold doubloons

  • Unicorn dollars

  • Hatred of birds

  • Hart to Hart

  • Bruce Springsteen

  • Loops

  • Buckles

  • Nora Ephron

  • Stephen Sondheim

  • James Salter

  • George Saunders

  • Mamma Mia

  • Soap operas

  • Quartermaines

Some things I read

🔗 Glenn Close on Jeff Goldblum: "Jeff is charm personified. The demented smile, the verbal agility, the jerky yet somehow graceful way he moves. A lot of arm stuff." She really nails it—"a lot of arm stuff." That's all you need to know about Jeff Goldblum. I first came across that GQ profile last year at the hairdresser, where I did all my Man Reading, and then it was referenced in a Washington Post article this week about the upcoming release of a jazz album by none other than Jeff Goldblum. Good luck & godspeed to all you faithful Goldblumers! It is your time of plenty.

🔗 Sheila O'Malley on Burt Reynolds:

There are people with big talent. Some of them become big stars. They appear in serious movies and win awards. This is all fine. I love some of those actors. But the charisma of Burt Reynolds – the way he carried himself – the way he wore his fame lightly, making fun of it – the way he handled his sexuality in an almost casual and self-deprecating humorous way (“Relax, honey, I’m not that good” he says into Jill Clayburgh’s ear before they go to bed for the first time in Starting Over) … all of these indefinable things that made him a superstar … these are the reasons people have such affection for him, this is why he was a star. For the “silly” stuff, the silly stuff that entertained millions. It’s undervalued, this kind of thing.

She's writing about how most people list Boogie Nights as their favorite Burt Reynolds performance, which is fine. I guess I believe them. But that performance wasn't everything great about Burt Reynolds, it's just everything to a certain type of person who wants to believe a certain type of thing, who wants to tell themselves a story about what makes a certain type of art worthy of their attention and approval. And it dives right into my thinking not only on soap operas and romance novels but sitcoms and most musical theater, which is to reject this garbage notion that only "serious" art is worth elevating and appreciating. Love what you love! Loudly and often. Love what makes the quotidian tedium of life bearable and memorable for you and you alone. For me it's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which I watched again last night. Burt swears a lot and struts around in tight khaki pants and makes out under the stars with Dolly Parton, and once in a while he warbles a tune. What's not to love about that?

Something about soap operas

"On the genre"—this is actor Charles Keating, who played Carl Hutchins on Another World, from Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera:

This is a genre, unlike all others, that requires one thing of its audience—its memory, its collective recollection of who you are and what you've done. That is extraordinary.

Another extraordinary thing is that they shoot us from neck to crown. Now, if you have a face on the screen in your home, several times a week, that is powerful. There's no other form that concentrates on faces, eyes and mouths, and things being said to each other—oftentimes lies.

A clip from General Hospital

Yes! I've talked about talking long enough, when everybody knows soap operas are about love in the afternoon. So here's another fight ("And my last word to you is, I'm leaving!") followed by some lip-lock action with extreme crown shots (8:00), tied together by a petulant and deliciously drunk Alan Quartermaine in plaid flannel.

There's a reason the marriage lasted 30 years in both soap and real time, that's all I'm saying, and that reason is he's irresistible.

A BLOG POST THAT'S MAKING ME HAPPY THIS WEEK

This interview with Seth Godin at The Old Reader:

You’ve said that even if nobody read your blog, you would still blog every day. What is the value to the pure act of blogging?

Every day, I have to stand for something. Notice something. Put it down for all to see. The act is clarifying. It requires me to be a bit less of a hypocrite. And on a good day, it’s generous. That’s a pretty great combination.

My act of blogging is self-referential and self-regarding, but sure, also clarifying. Blogging is how I reflect on events and process my own thinking and the world at large, and as I mentioned in the lede it's also how I let people know I'm still alive.

My #2 happy blog post is Kelly Conaboy on Sam Neill's "farmland situation" at The Cut. I'm very glad Kelly Conaboy has found a new place (The Cut) to appreciate things I likewise appreciate. Appreciation for dumb small things is what blog posts are for and all they should be about, in my opinion. This has never been a secret.

Another bonus

I also enjoyed this Elizabeth Gilbert video (h/t swissmiss) on understanding the difference between a hobby, a job, a career, and a vocation (see as always "You don't have to love your job"):

 "If my career as a writer ends, guess what I'm gonna do next? I'm gonna get a job. I'm gonna get a job, and I'm gonna keep writing in my bedroom like I did before anybody cared."

I love to write but I don't want it to feel like a job, ever, so it's wedged between a hobby and a vocation, which is okay with me. I don't want editors! I don't need tips for improvement! It's something I do for play and sanity, nothing more, and when one day this blog dies, as nothing gold can stay, I'll keep on writing in my bedroom, too, just for me. It's the one thing in the world that I have that nobody else can touch.

Your weekly Bruce

I reactivated my Twitter account last week bc I still like to fav things but I will never tweet again. My pledge to you (probably a lie)! I also deleted most of my timeline, and the posts I left behind are a real distillation of my true self; it’s all about dogs and Bruce Springsteen.

Thanks for listening and keep on rocking, even if it kills you.

weeknoteKari G Comments
tl;dr

I’ve never been much of an activity blogger. I mean, I participate in activities— I’m awake and breathing, all my parts operate—but “then we did blah blah blah" narratives aren’t really in my swim lane, since I have zero interest in plot and would rather cough up disconnected moments or “here are things I thought about while activities were going on around me" blog items instead. In blogland I function best as a passive observer, self-regarding, inward-facing, bellybutton-gazing. A plague on all your houses! 

Here's what happened this week.

The song I listened to the most

I downloaded this Lori McKenna album a few moons ago but don't remember why, or who would have recommended it (Twitter, probably. NPR, the usual culprits.). Streaming services make it easy to cosign something without actually committing to anything, so I download all sorts of music I never actually get around to listening to. A real song hoarder, I am. But I gave this album some good attention this week and was rewarded, and then I went back to Apple Music and purchased it, which is the very least that musicians or artists or app makers or newsletter writers who reward us with their care and time and effort deserve. Support the people who make your days a little brighter or those who grease the gears even a little, that's all I'm saying. Over and over again.

In your chest there is a compass, in your blood there is a calling
And in your head there is a vision, you called that "the dream"
And leavin's part of it, if you didn't you might never know
Keep a Bible by your bed like headlights comin' up the road

Keeping a Bible by my bed seems like a good way to unintentionally invite unwanted specters or vengeance-seekers into the house, but the rest of it really rang true.

p.s. The woman who moved into my apartment in New York emailed earlier this summer to ask if I'd ever experienced any "ghostly encounters." Sadly I had to report that I'm not a person who operates on that frequency. Either that or my life was truly too boring to bother reaching through time and space and ectoplasm to interact with.

Some things I read

🔗 Another Joan Acocella piece! What a boon late summer has been, Acocella-wise. This one, a review of a new book on Louisa May Alcott and the enduring popularity of Little Women, ran in the New Yorker, and it contained many gems. Here are two:

Her father, Bronson Alcott (1795-1888), was an intellectual, or, in any case, a man who had thoughts, a member of New England’s Transcendental Club and a friend of its other members—Emerson, Thoreau.

There she is, my favorite master of asides, forever tucking sly burns inside a series of cheeky commas.

She ends with this:

Some people complain that university syllabuses don’t accord “Little Women” the status of “Huckleberry Finn,” which they see as its male counterpart. But no piece of literature is the counterpart of “Little Women.” The book is not so much a novel, in the Henry James sense of the term, as a sort of wad of themes and scenes and cultural wishes. It is more like the Mahabharata or the Old Testament than it is like a novel. And that makes it an extraordinary novel.

🔗 A John McCain tribute from Jon Lovett at Crooked Media:

He was complicated. He believed in America. He was big in a place filled with tiny tiny little fuckers.

🔗 Kelly Conaboy at The Hairpin (RIP), proposing a pause day (which is not unlike Ellyn Burstyn's theory on "shouldless days"):

So, again, to explain what you do on pause day: you lie around. You think, or you don’t think. It’s up to you. You take a moment. You sit in a chair and you know that at least, for the moment, nothing is happening. Everyone is pausing. It is not a day, technically, it is just a momentary shared presence. It’s a small pause. I think this would be good. Please donate to my pause day Kickstarter. Just kidding. But please sign my Change.org petition, just kidding. But please make Pause Day, if you are in a position to do so.

Something about soap operas

From Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Operawhich you can own in hardcover for 95 cents and enjoy for eternity:

Soap operas also share important connections between the distinctive ways they engage their audiences and the kinds of things they tend to be about. A complaint heard about soap operas wherever they are produced or watched in the world (made principally by those who do not watch them) is that we never see anything happen on soap operas, that all people do is talk and emote. That is, I would argue, in part a fundamental misunderstanding of the way soap operas, particularly open soap operas, work: what happens is not nearly so important as the effect of an action on relationships. But however widely this criticism misses the mark, it does point to a common feature among soap operas: soaps are about talk, and, as a consequence, much of what we see on soap operas around the world is people talking.

Of course theater—at least my favorite kind of theater, the wordy, shouty, smarty-pants Sondheim kind—tends to be much the same thing. Soaps are certainly "about" plot (Renata Adler, in the New Yorker, says they're "pure plot"), but plot only interests me to the degree that it reveals character. Otherwise I might as well be watching horses circling a track, or reading an Agatha Christie novel. Also worthy pastimes! Just not what I'm after with this project.

A clip from General Hospital

To wit: This clip includes a long interlude at 10:20 that's just Monica talking to her father-in-law Edward about how, five years into her marriage, she has become more of a Quartermaine than the Quartermaines (“cruel, avenging, wicked, truculent: ruthless”). The Quartermaines are all terrible people, it’s true.

Leading up to that, they are spying on her husband Alan through a telescope as he fights with his dumb mistress, Susan Moore, who Edward calls "Little Miss Muffet" because he knows she's not fit to be a Quartermaine. And she isn’t!

A blog post that's making me happy this weeK

I gather most of my entertainment news from Pop Culture Happy Hour, which ends every episode with a tally of "What's making us happy this week" from all its guests. Their answers usually involve music or movies or video games, while mine will be about blog posts.

My answer this week is this blog post from Martha Stewart where she had someone follow her cats around her Bedford, NY, home (aka the Winter House) and document their cat-like poses with a crappy camera. Where was Martha? you ask. In Maine with the dogs. It's summer, after all. The post is called "Summertime with My Cats," even though technically she is not with them.

In this post—which, like all of her posts, contains approximately 5,000 photos ("Martha Stewart knows how to embrace the mundanity of being alive and of blogging")—Martha offers commonsense tips like "I always cover the pets’ favorite resting spots with towels. Doing this keeps these areas extra clean, and extra cozy. This chair is in my smaller dining room." And then she ends it with an endearingly punctuated casual message to both her outdoor cat Blackie and her greater blog audience, encouraging further engagement. I have no doubts that Blackie and indeed all of Martha's cats are regular readers and frequent commenters on Martha's blog.

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 8.03.20 AM.png

Some thoughts

A dude on the train yesterday morning talked all the way from home base to Union Station. I choose to occupy the top deck of the train most days, since I like gazing down on America and her peoples from a position of withering scorn and dominance, and this fellow was seated across from me but in the corner, facing me, in one of those weird end seats that directly faces the seat in front of it, meaning he was uncomfortably (for my tastes) close to the person closest to him (this isn't going well, is it), who it seemed he was accompanying at any rate and who perhaps, therefore, didn't care.

I cared though. I cared enough for all of us, because this dude jabbered non-stop at his either willing or unwilling seatmate so loudly that I could hear him right through my headphones, which to me is an unforgivable sin at 7:46 in the morning. I kept hollering at him from inside my head, the same thing I always holler inside my head when people are loud in the wrong places, which is "Pipe down, chatty Cathy!" It'll lead to a brain aneurysm one day, I'm sure. But then it occurred to me that I shouldn't lay this at the feet of innocent Cathies so readily, that in my morning transit experience it is invariably the dudes who cannot keep their traps shut. "I'll bet this whole train will be interested in my opinions!" is how I imagine their self-talk goes. So I tried switching my own internal shouting monologue to "Pipe down, chatty Carl!" or "Zip it, stupid Steve!" neither of which proved satisfying. They're pretty lame actually, so I'm open to suggestions. Anything that will keep me out of prison.

Your weekly Bruce

Bruce salutes L-O-V-E, carnival-style, while wearing the protective armor of high-buttoned shirt, jacket/vest, and bolo tie that were hallmarks of this introspective and growth-oriented period in his life:

Btw here's a useful comment someone posted to this video four days ago: "Remember when he took up political causes in the 80s. The communist Chinese government murdered over 10,000 students in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and he said nothing. Why didn't he sing for them. Silence is violence folks."

It's raining here again, obviously, the continual torrential downpours of a planet stripped of all its buffers. I plan to see a movie today, and pick up a few things at IKEA. Silence is violence, folks!

weeknoteKari G Comments
p.s.

Last Sunday, writer Sheila Heti sent out a Tiny Letter follow-up to another Tiny Letter she had sent earlier the same day. It was titled "Ps" and was an apology for the first Tiny Letter, which she had deemed inadequate after hitting send. It seemed unnecessary, in my opinion, since the first letter was fine and I have no rules or expectations for what constitutes a Tiny Letter, but I appreciated it anyway. That she cared enough about this to send a related note.

I highly approve of the p.s. and use it frequently myself, as I always have more to say after I think I'm done. The Grammarly blog has a lot to say about the correct use of P.S., which I didn't read since I use it however I want and don't need no stinkin' rules fouling that up. But they do include this lovely quote from Shaun Usher, the author of Letters of Note:

The P.S. is the most charming part of a letter. It’s the wink you give as you walk away.

Here are some other things that happened this week.

The song I listened to the most

I’m very protective of things from my past that I still love wholeheartedly, not just because they’re comforting in their familiarity or because they’re inherently better than other, newer things (they're not!), but because anything that sticks around in your head for 20 years or more should be respected, while also gently mocked. I think you need to honor the things that made you who you are, because without them you might have grown into an asshole or a serial killer (not that those are mutually exclusive). Who knows what turned the tide in your case, or mine? Plus, in uncertain times like these, we need to appreciate what we can, especially when it’s free for the taking and not suspected of committing any tax fraud through sketchy third-party payments to porn stars.

For me this week that was Jimmy Buffett. Yes! The one and only. I still love the scruffy, hairy Jimmy of the early 70s, who wrote almost exclusively about beach bums and deadbeats and drunks. I love not the famed party songs that turned him into a cash register but the quiet story songs about sad, shabby lives in far-off places. This one is a small epic and it ends with a real bang.

Also this photo

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Actually he looks a lot like my cousin Greg.

See also: A listen to Jimmy Buffett before he was the mayor of Margaritaville

Some things I read

🔗 Joan Acocella in a review of a new book on Bob Fosse ("Crotch Shots Galore"):

His first big role was the lead in a 1951 summer-stock production of the Rodgers and Hart musical /Pal Joey/. If ever there was typecasting, this was it. Like Joey, a small-time nightclub emcee, Fosse could reel out breezy, lame jokes and get good-looking women to do him favors. This role, to which he returned many times, may have helped to form his rather sleazy personality, and vice versa.

🔗 Ephrat Livni at Quartz writing about loving your job (or not):

It’s not the job itself that gives us a sense of purpose, but the pleasure of work. Yes, that’s right. Pleasure. Because work at its best—whether it’s pouring coffee or defending the indigent accused in a county jail—is a kind of play. In the moment of doing, meaning doesn’t matter, just the task. That’s a relief from spending time dwelling on the big picture: who you’re meant to be and what you should try to achieve in your life.

A bonus

This was the DVR description for the Hart to Hart episode "Murder in Paradise": "After murder interrupts their Hawaiian croquet game, Jonathan and Jennifer postpone vacation plans for intrigue."

Pause for a moment while I repeat that for you:

"After murder interrupts their Hawaiian croquet game, Jonathan and Jennifer postpone vacation plans for intrigue."

Here, I even took a picture of it:

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So. It's a little tough to know where to go after that.

Something about soap operas

From No End to Her: Soap Opera and the Female Subject by Martha Nochimson:

[T]he linguistic syntax of women's entertainment, which is constantly breaking the action, challenges the intellectual as well as the psychological foundations of patriarchal culture, which emphasizes the need to suppress femininity in order to maintain a concept of order. Perhaps the severity of the linguistic assault on male domination in the structure of soap opera and women's movies explains why power establishments of all kinds would rather laugh at than cry about these two subgenres of screen fiction—and why, of the two, soap opera is more daring in its resistance to the linear syntax of conventional narrative. As we have noted, gaps abound: during commercial breaks, between the intercut segments of the many plots that make up a daily show, and at the end of each installment. Its defiance of ordinary (masculine) narrative syntax, its permanent disruption of the linear, suggests why soap opera is commonly the target of an intrinsically masculine power establishment.

A clip from General Hospital

Monica disrupts the masculine power establishment by yelling at two dudes at once even though Alan tries to shut her up (5:30). It's not a secret that there was some amazing hair happening in 1983. She's a heart surgeon, btw. Always important to bear that in mind.

Monica and Alan spent the whole back half of 1983 fighting about whether or not she would allow him to bring his illegitimate infant son to live in their enormous mansion after the child's mother (Susan Moore, Alan's former mistress) was murdered in the midst of a blackmail scheme (spoiler: eventually she gives in, and then raises the kid as her own, which goes very well until 20 years later he loses his memory in a car crash and becomes an angry mobster).

Some thoughts

I’ve repeated this claim ad nauseam but my favorite thing in the world is things (plural) that exist on the internet for no reason. Like this weekly-ish / occasional newsletter called "famous people" that I subscribe to, which is a review of parties the writers attend with people who are famous only to them, the writers of this newsletter. Like this guy named Jon who just moved to Berlin and hosted a goodbye party for himself. I don’t know him, nor the writers of this newsletter, yet I was sad to see him go.

This newsletter is deadpan and sunny and light, and it makes me smile every time it arrives in my inbox (usually Wednesdays I think, I haven’t tracked it). It’s the kind of newsletter where you’ll read something like “Then I sat next to the stove with the salt potatoes while my mom drove my grandma and her Crockpots full of meatballs over to the party.” Low key missives. It’s just nice to hear from strangers out in the universe once in a while who have interesting ideas about what to take note of in their lives. What captures their fancies, I guess. Details. And then we all continue on with our own separate battles until the following week or so. Similarly I hope the three people reading this blog who don’t know me at least think to themselves, well it’s weird that she always talks about soap operas, but okay. The people who do know me, I’m not sure what excuse or justification you’re using, although sooner or later there will be a quiz. Take notes! Nostalgia may be free but friendship is not, FYI.

Your weekly Bruce

I went to the YouTube and distractedly typed "Bruce" into the search box, which resulted in a lot of Bruce Willis videos showing up, who not coincidentally I also once paid to see in concert at Summerfest in Milwaukee with my friend Michelle. We crafted a huge multi-colored banner for this concert (BRUCE), which happened in the 80s (obviously), and then the concert was canceled or postponed due to a thunderstorm that threatened to blast us right out of our metal bleacher seats. This was during his "Bruno" days, I believe, when he was calling himself "Bruno" to separate his harmonica self from his Moonlighting self, like Garth Brooks temporarily adopting the alias "Chris Gaines" while wearing a wig and a lot of eyeliner. I honestly don't think I'm making any of this up.

Here's correct Bruce singing with Bryan Adams, for some reason (another hero of my youth, although as my friend Kris reminded me, our prom song was not "Heaven" as I've long arrogantly claimed without performing even the most rudimentary fact checking, but "Meet Me Halfway" by Kenny Loggins. Kris is a police detective so I should have believed her from the start, although I have no memory of that song at all. Kris also has a lot of patience, as you can tell.).

“And that's life,” as they say. Good luck with yours!

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