Criticism. Essay. Fiction. Science. Weather.
1"Mark it 8, Dude." Get it?
Plus, fake facts are for sissies. 2The reality of the unreal
and the art of chewing. 3Getting interrogative with the Dark Continent
and ants are the Internet's idol. 4The author displays his clothes in piles on his bedroom floor. And 1,000,000 Rhode Islanders can't be wrong. 5One size counterfeits all, plus there's a run on limes and the movies don't talk good no more. 6The sweet and no-so-sweet of time travel
and the rigors of uncancellation. 7Personal Parties and Friend Finders considered 8Gamers of the world unite too much
and the new Star Wars scores. 9This week: one guaranteed way
to make yourself more famous. 10Awkward and tacky journalism in celebration of journalism. Plus, individuality now more expensive. 11There are balls in your head
and buds in your heart. 12The upsides of federal incorporation.
The downsides of shoddy adevertising. 13The first 90ways Quaterly Review begins!
1, 2, 3 pieces of Criticism! 14Not being able to look away from
bad grammar and junk material but still LMFAO. 15Spam can be fun if you don't
mind the corporate pimping. 16Some movies go Direct-To-Video.
We feel their pain. 17What the American media doesn't
want you to know about the Tour. 18Dumbing down The Honeymooners for
the preschool set; plus, pain as upper. 19It's 2005. Do you know what your
building's ecological ethic is? 20That building is whispering
ethical nothings in your ear. 21These movies will never know the
warm embrace of a projector lamp. Direct-to-video reviews return! 22The English language is growing & 90ways is on the case.
Neologisms Spoken Here. 23The American frontier is back and ugly as ever:
Here comes Sheriff Privatization. 24When making a British book into a British movie, it's all about the British, no matter what galaxy you're in. 25Condi bites the big one, Apple bites Condi, or Apple just bites. Plus, all the news that's packaged poorly. 26The Second Quarterly Review cometh... 27The rap album based on [adult swim]
has already been leaked. 28The road to Blockbuster is paved with good intentions: Direct-to-Video reviews are back! 29The preschool set belongs inside the lines
and the rain belongs in It. 30They're what everyone's talking with:
Neologisms Spoken Here. 31What time is it?
It's Standard Candy Time. 32Transportation is overrated.
And underrated. 3390ways' investigators go into the field.
And are vaguely saddened. 34See it again, whether you want to or not.
Picture this, in spite of yourself. 35Old comedians don't die,
they just get taken seriously. 36Pro: It's a 90ways debate.
Con: Both sides are just so salient. 37As long as Brokeback Mountain is sold out, we'll keep giving you Direct-to-DVD Reviews... 38At least we can all agree those people who say "Happy Christmas" are insane. 39The Third Quarterly Review
is ringing out the old year! 40New words for the new year. 41False starts and happy endings.
There's value in dead-ends. 4290ways has a confession to make.
We made up our history, too. 43Bringing you the latest from the world of dissembling: 90ways inaugurates the Hoax Report. 44It ain't about the facts, ma'am.
It's about the truth. 45Oscar nominations have been handed out. Direct-to-DVD movies snubbed again. 46What are the 90 points of it all? 47Spring: new growth, redemption,
Spring Traning. 48Technological advances notwithstanding, there's a whole new kind of static over the 6 o'clock news. 49O'Reilly's on the warpath.
The Chinese are not. 50The Hoax Report returns. And Canada beats Team USA. (That last part's actually true.) 51There's a lot packed into that intro and we feel no need to approach it in an organized manner. 52It's a surprise;
that's why you should have seen it coming. 53It's our party and we'll cry if we want to. 54Now that big, gothic banner looks positively antique. Plus, who cares about which cares about baseball. 55Being proud of Junior and bored in June. 56Every time I hear that song, I see a Cornell alum hitting a home run. 57What do heroin and Christian prayer have in common? They both star in the Direct-to-DVD finale! 58The cutting room floor in the desert.
The recording studio at first base. 59Tinted contact lenses and poorly delivered jokes. Foolproof. 60If you can't make a real quick 70 mill, how else do you justify a $125 million budget? 61Landmark case of 2006:
Orchestra v. Organ. 6290ways is interested in the words here, too. 63Everything in Criticism today is not quite right. 64Sports Utility Vehicles. Sort Of.
Sports. Golf, anyway.
65It's our Second Annual First Quarterly Review! 66Behold: The return of new word reviews. 67Bringing global warming in from the cold,
one dollar at a time. 68Don't believe the zinc industry's hype. 69It's crazy on the street.
It's best-selling on the teevee.
70Still crabbing about lost CD revenue?
Time to learn to shake your new moneymaker. 71Thrown into a plane.
With snakes. 72Space and Worlds and
snakes on planes. 73One giant vehicle is for war,
the other is for one day sales. 74It's all laid out for you.
From the numbing consumerism to the noble freedom. 75Sure the natural majesty was great,
but how about that Motel 8? 76One of life's great mysteries:
An Arby's in Mountain Time. 77Fall teevee is upon us.
Maybe some of it won't suck. 7852 + 26 = 78.
One and a half years of Ways. 79The smell of pigskin is in the autumn air. 80Someone needs to speak up in the name of common sense. 81New words are all around us.
Neologisms Spoken Here. 82What Dallas is now to someone who never knew it before: The Nostalgia Watch. 83Oh. The Horror.
A special Halloween installment of The Hoax Report. 84It was awful.
WomenAndChildren awful. 85It's like Carrie, but even better.
And somehow that became a great movie. 86He's in the corner.
And he wants to help you sleep. 87Up in the air. It's a bird. It's a hot-air balloon.
It's the 90ways Hoax Report! 88Tearing through the sentimentality and the water-colored memories: It's the Nostalgia Watch. 89Of all the Anabaptists in all the world... 90It's the week we've all been waiting for. 91We're reviewing the quarter to ring in the new year. 92Ringing it in is a burden we all carry. 93Am I my brother's keeper? 94This is all true. 95Notes to Notes.
Sometimes ears taste better than pens. 96Neologisms Spoken Here.
New words created through misappropriation. 97The lies of the diamond dealers. 98Crime, punishment, and the bits in between. 99Same name.
Different albums. 100All the forensics in the world can't
turn up any evidence of character. 101What makes America great
and not so great. 102Fanboy hand-wringing. Shocking. 103Panic in the streets,
Monsignor style. 104It's our second anniversary.
Break out the cotton. 105He kills for all the right reasons. 106The World's Cheese Imagination is within our grasp... if only. 107It's never an easy choice. 108Just give me one thing I can play for.
This week, for the first time, we will be serializing a piece of work across houses. Mr. Evans has provided us with two seemingly disparate observations bound by the principle that everything in the world that appears disparate in fact is connected. In the spirit of connectivity, we're keeping those observations close together and using them as the bridge from Criticism today to Essay tomorrow.
Diamonds, part I
There is a commercial for diamonds that recently played on television, I suppose in honor of the holiday season and in the hope that people would buy diamonds for other people this holiday season. This is not a commercial sponsored by any business in particular but rather, it seems, sponsored by the diamond industry in general, and perhaps paid for by this or that association or society of diamond producers or manufacturers, or perhaps, more likely, diamond dealers, given the fact that diamonds are neither produced nor manufactured but, in fact, mined, and at that by people who most certainly do not have the power to organize themselves into societies or associations that could subsequently fund television advertising ventures, and if they could we can be quite certain that their message would be something other than to encourage their audience to go out and buy diamonds. The story of this particular commercial, in any event, is as follows: It is early in the morning. Perhaps it is Christmas morning. This much seems likely. It is winter, and you can tell this because of the way the light filters into the bedroom, white and muted, as though passing through or reflected off of snow. This is a bedroom in an upper middle class suburban type house. It is the kind of house that is featured in holiday type movies about upper-middle-class suburban type people, the kind of house whose semiotic weight is not wealth -- not an opulent mansion, that is -- but, rather, whose modesty assumes a wealth far beyond the means of most. In just this house, a man and a woman are sleeping next to each other, but, as the commercial gets underway, the man wakes up, stealthily climbs out of bed, folding back the heavy comforter, and a moment later we see him, as I recall, downstairs, plucking a small gift-wrapped box from under the Christmas tree. A moment later, we are in the bedroom again, and this man is gently and stealthily climbing back into the bed, holding, we can imagine, that which he has taken from this small gift-wrapped box he has plucked from underneath the Christmas tree. It is, we can see, a necklace with an elegant diamond pendant. Back in the bed, he leans over the woman, who we can more or less assume is his wife -- perhaps we even see a wedding ring on his hand when he reaches to pluck the small, gift-wrapped box from under the tree -- and gently places the necklace, without clasping it, around her neck, so that the elegant diamond pendant rests lightly against her sternum, then puts himself back into sleeping position, on his back, in the bed next to her. A moment later, we can imagine due to the light pressure it is exerting against her sternum, the sleeping woman, who we can assume is the wife -- do we see her own wedding ring now? -- reaches up with her hand and grasps the diamond pendant. She opens her eyes and holds it in front of them, just above the bridge of her nose. In the next moment, from a classic sex-scene camera angle, at bed level and very close to the lovers, we see the face of the wife above the face of the husband, lowering toward him. As her lips move closer to his, we see him break into a smile, and then the screen goes to black -- while, we can imagine, she is beginning to fornicate him vigorously in celebration of this joyous surprise -- except that at the center there is the image of a small diamond and underneath that image, as I recall, the word "diamond" or "diamonds," or perhaps, the classic tag-line, "diamonds are forever." Now, I know that this holiday season, in particular, turned out to be a tough go for the diamond industry -- the Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle Blood Diamond reputedly blew the lid off the already far too well-known ills and evils of the diamond industry in Africa -- and I know that things in the advertising department at the association of diamond dealers, or whatever it is, must be getting a bit desperate, but I have to say that there is something about the narrative presented by this commercial that really doesn't work at all. To understand exactly what, try the following experiment: The next time that you are sleeping with somebody other than yourself -- you lush! -- come morning, while that person is still sleeping, and while muted, white light is filtering in through the bedroom window as though through or reflected off of snow, or even if it's not, stealthily sneak out of bed and go find something about the weight and density of a small, elegant diamond pendant -- perhaps a Cheerio or a paper clip or half of a toothpick -- and then, after stealthily returning to the bed, gently place that item on the sternum of the person with whom, you lush, you are sleeping. Now, watch what happens. I can quite nearly guarantee that the person with whom -- you lush -- you are sleeping will, if the pressure against the sternum is light but detectable, stir irritably and then, without opening his or her eyes, rather than carefully grasping that which you have set upon his or her sternum and holding it up for examination, will in fact swipe at it like an indistinct itch or, even more likely, flick it away like an irksome bug. Because this is what we do when we are asleep, or even half asleep, and even often when we are awake, and we feel a light unidentified touch: we flick it off, or flick it away. It is, therefore, at precisely that point at which the husband gently sets the diamond necklace around his wife's neck without fastening it -- which would surely wake her up at once -- allowing the small, elegant pendant to rest lightly against her sternum, that the narrative of the diamond commercial here in question loses its verisimilitude: the wife in this case would almost certainly flick off the small diamond that sits lightly against her sternum and the small, light diamond would, like just such an irksome bug, go flying, and it would probably end up lost amongst the copious winter bedding, or roll off into the darkness under the bed, or slip into the crack between two floorboards, and the husband would leap up in a panic -- he spent seven hundred dollars on that thing, for God's sake -- and bedding would be overturned and shaken out or there he would be, down on his hands and knees, hurling invectives, crawling under the bed and then knocking his head hard enough to rattle his teeth on the way out, and the wife would be crying, and perhaps the small diamond pendant would never be found at all, which would of course constitute an unspeakable disaster, become a symbol of what was lost already in their marriage, and what no mere jewel could return, and perhaps result eventually in divorce. Or perhaps, more likely, it would be found, but already, by the time it was found and it was hers, it would be saddled with this negative energy, or the pathos of this near-disaster would be clinging to it like residue, like the very filth from which it must have been mined by suffering and interchangeable Africans in the first place, and in the moment of its reception would not be one of joyous discovery, as the commercial intends to suggest, but rather, at its very best, one of relief that it wasn't lost and money was not wasted, the irony of which would be that, in fact, if the purpose of the gift is to produce just such a moment as the commercial depicts, then even if the pendant were found, at this point, the money would have been wasted, since its purpose was not precisely to acquire this pendant but rather to produce this moment, not of relief, but of joyous discovery that leads to vigorous fornication. Do people who can afford diamonds fornicate vigorously?