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Sunday morning, New York Times

YHB goes through the New York Times Sunday Arts and Leisure section on-line, these days, which is not a good substitute for the real thing, as a good deal of the fun is the ads. Still, there’s a good half-hours fun about it. You’ll need to register, of course.

There’s an entertainingly awkward article about Playgirl TV, and the attempt to make money making video porn for women. Or at least video porn ... for women!. It was funny to see somebody in the business claim that porn for women was “a blank page” in 2002; it’s like Good Vibrations never existed. Still, it’s has some interesting observations, and it’s better than completely ignoring the multi-billion-dollar industry that nobody thinks exists. I liked the different responses when they ask a woman what she wants in porn and ask her what she would improve about a particular video; the things that are distracting or annoying about a particular video are more likely to be the acting and the look of the thing, while the general complaint is likely to be about relationships and communication. As a rule, if you make something good, it doesn’t have to be right. If it’s right, but clumsy and ugly, good luck. Give ’em the old razzle-dazzle.

For something completely different, there’s an article about the popularity of klezmer music among non-Jewish Germans. There are tons of conflicts, lots of layers of difficulty, for those playing the music, those listening to it and those teaching it. I’m amused by the idea of the Deutchers, viewed as stuck-up city-folk by the shtetl folk of Eastern Europe, putting up with this low-class riff-raff music, because it’s what the goyim like. Hee hee. Of course, the few Deutchers left alive are pretty much all in Florida, so there’s no look-on-their-faces aspect, but I can imagine it.

Then there’s the story about Hollywood Hell House, where a group of lefties take a script for a fundamentalist Hell House (like a haunted house for Moral Lessons, where we see how people Sin and go to Hell) and put on a version of it that manages to spoof the thing without changing any of it. Aside from the whole anti-clericalism aspect, and the thesis-worthy post-modern formalist aspect, there’s the red-county/blue-county thing. I had never heard of Hell Houses; are they really popular? There are whole worlds that people don’t experience, even within the U.S.; I hadn’t realized until moving South that the famous “Waffle House” line in 1992 was very much intended to speak to Southerners’ sense of separation from the North and the West, where (by coincidence) they don’t have the Waffle House chain. It failed, which isn’t surprising considering Poppy Bush’s tin ear and faux Southern charm, but that’s how it was supposed to work.

What else ... if you are interested in audio, there’s a fascinating article about the SoundLab using computer modeling to recreate (or create) the sounds of different rooms. There’s an amusing interview with Ellen DeGeneres, a bizarre (and confusingly written) story about Stradivarius violins which might not be by Stradivarius, a little note about type design, and the other forty-seven articles I’m not interested enough to bother with.

The other problem, though, with reading the section on-line, is that I’m likely to think that I’m not interested enough to bother with an article, and then it turns out to be a great little thing about Slava Polunin and “Slava’s Snowshow”, which seems like the Blue Man Group, only better. The best line, though, is when Mr. Polunin, a Russian clown if you don’t mind, says “When customs agents check the lists of the things I'm bringing with me, they always laugh. It's written down on the customs form: ‘moon, wind, rainbow, stars.’” I can’t help combining that with the airport question: did you pack that yourself?


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