Monday, February 28, 2011

The Vagaries of Fame

It's hard to be famous. The constant demands on your time and money, the tax headaches for all that income and all those residences in all those different states, and keeping your oeuvre straight with all the fans. Let's face it: if hundreds of people are screaming and cheering at a regular jerk like you or I, the exact reason will probably be obvious. We just made a half-court shot during halftime of an NBA game. We just rescued a small girl child from a well (nobody really cares when bad things happen to boys). This doesn't happen every day for us. But for a legitimate celebrity, who the hell knows? If somebody's cheering at Tom Cruise, how's he to know what the dude is thinking? Did he love Days of Thunder or is he just applauding the hard work Mr. Cruise does to promote the acceptance of crazy people in decent society?

I'd imagine the problems are amplified by events like last night's Oscars ceremony. Outside the theater are fans you who love you because of your work and media workers who love you for the money you make them. Inside, it's just an orgy of LA onanism as you celebrate, along with your industry, the members of your industry that you've chosen to celebrate. Not only that--the self-congratulation is broadcast on national television to the millions of fans who couldn't be waiting right outside the theater to see you walk into it. It's not all bad--during the portion of the show that's not broadcast on TV, they hand out technical awards to all kinds of hard-working non-famous people. Also, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for composing the music to The Social Network. "Tony, there was no goddamned music in that movie. Just people talking nonstop." It was so subtle you barely noticed it! Whatever, Trent Reznor won an Oscar and that's awesome. If you're going to complain about something in that film, how about the fact that they gave the single worst line to foxy Rasheeda Jones? Timberlake should have taken the bullet on that one.

During the show, I was actually at a Chinese seafood buffet eating myself sick. Not from the volume, from the accumulated heavy minerals I absorbed from eating all that cheap shellfish. There were a lot of strange dreams that night. Anyway, all this got me thinking about what celebrities are famous for, as opposed to what they should be famous for. I've touched on this idea in the past in the context of Jon Malkovich's performance in Mutant Chronicles. I called it Celebrity Conversation Starters; this isn't quite the same thing, but it should be obvious that you'd ideally lead a conversation with the "should be famous for" items. You want to talk to Malkovich about Being Jon Malkovich? What an asshole you are or would be.

Dan Marino
Is famous for:Being the statistically greatest NFL QB in history until Brett Favre took his records. Probably the greatest pure passer ever. Greatest QB to never win a Super Bowl. Lots of commercials. Being dumb as a bag of hammers.

Should be famous for: His role in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," where he played himself in a handful of scenes despite being the focal point of the film's climax. Brett Favre tried to copy him here as well, being a major plot element in "There's Something About Mary" but mercifully only appearing at the end. Marino KILLS this role, especially the shot where they're both driving to the stadium with their heads out the window. Best question you'd ask in person: "Did Jim Carrey ever give you any bubble gum when the cameras were off?"

Malcolm McDowell
Is famous for: A prolific career stretching forty years. Narrating "The Compleat Beatles." Starring in Kubrick's classic "A Clockwork Orange." Voice acting in a host of cartoons and video games. Crazy eyes.

Should be famous for:
His role in "Doomsday," as a mad scientist turned medieval king. I'll admit, he could put a little more energy into the role, but the guy's old! And he gets to spit contempt at somebody during his only scene with any real dialogue, which is really McDowell's specialty. Best question to ask in person: "Hey, I know you weren't in that scene, but how did all those hooligans in broken-down shitwagons catch up to Rhona Mitra in a Bentley?"

Christopher Walken
Is famous for: Prolific decades-spanning acting career. Being intensely weird in almost every performance. Possibly being really weird in person, but it's hard to tell because HE ALWAYS TALKS LIKE THAT. His fantastic performance in "Catch Me If You Can." His ability to nail every single performance essentially just by being himself. Having an AMAZING fake Twitter account until The Man took it down (it's not like the real actor has an account!).

Should be famous for: His appearance in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, as The Headless Horseman. He has a head (with a face on it!) in a handful of scenes, and those are all Walken. YOU CANNOT REMOVE YOUR EYES FROM HIM. He doesn't even get a line in the script, making it pretty apparent that Tim Burton did this just because it's awesome. Walken wears hilarious fake sharp teeth and all he does is yell GRAAAAAHHH and chop people's heads off and bite the villain's face at the end. His hair is crazy, his makeup is crazy, everything about the dude is nuts in that movie. And he doesn't even get to use his ridiculous speaking cadence! Best question in person: "Will you please please please smoke pot with me and then record my phone's voice mail?" Final thing: this picture is a young Walken in 1955 sporting clown make-up. If he re-enacted that photo today, it would be the single most terrifying image ever committed to film.

Charlie Sheen
Is famous for: "Platoon," a modern classic. "Two and a Half Men," the show proving nobody is better at creating the television equivalent of empty fast food calories than Chuck Lorre THE EVIL JEW. Charlie's been especially topical lately, doubling down on crazy by calling Alex Jones and anyone else who will agree to put him on the air to rant about how he's a space fighter with laser cannons who bangs seven-gram rocks all night long (and porn stars for brief spells when he can achieve an erection). Muammar Qaddafi's been the craziest motherfucker on the planet for the last couple weeks, but the former Carlos Estevez is really tearing away at the chains of reality.

Should be famous for: His role in "Hot Shots!" as Topper Harley, who's Tom Cruise in "Top Gun" but actually tall enough to realistically land that hottie. Though I'm not sure she'd be down to share with two coke-dusted hookers named Powder and Donut. Guess which one does anal. Yeah, you're right, both do anal. Anyway, "Hot Shots!" is basically that generation's Wayans Brothers Topical Comedy Shit Casserole. But it's directed by Jim Abrahams of "Airplane!" fame, so it's actually funny. Best part of the movie: how the character of Goose is basically unchanged from the original. That character was so ridiculous in "Top Gun" that he didn't need to be altered for comedy. Best question in person: "Hey, I'm from a porn company. We're gonna send some girls by later. Can I hang out with you for now?" I guarantee two hours later, he's convinced you're his friend and you're in the Sheen Zone for at least the next couple days until you OD or get mauled by a syphilis bacterium the size of a Labrador. Because unlike Charlie, you do not have tiger blood.

My take on the dude's latest issues: I think he finally woke up. Think of him like Kobe on the Lakers before they were handed Pau Gasol for nothing: he was destined to be one of the greatest ever, but he'd never be the greatest. He sulked away and pined for a trade, like Charlie when he tried to give the marriage-and-kids thing a go. He even found a nice girl (Denise Richards) who LOOKS like a porn star. Anyway, one day Kobe/Charlie woke up and realized he had a chance to be The Greatest all along. Kobe got Pau and went back to winning titles (during one year where KG was hurt and another where Perkins ACL blew up in Game 6 of the Finals FUCK YOU). Charlie realized if he could just SURVIVE his binges, he could make a run for Most Depraved of All Time, right at Caligula--the MJ of ridiculous excess (and played by Malcolm McDowell in the famous film!). So he split from Denise, shot himself up with tiger blood, and went to work. Remember, he kept working on his terrible show for a LONG time to make sure he'd have enough money to pull it off. He explicitly wanted to have a retirement where he did drugs and hung out with a gaggle of porn stars all day and night. So I can't really take him to task for it, the same way nobody could criticize Kobe for wanting to supplant MJ. This is what he really wants, and he's got some truly historic goals in sight. I say let him go for it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Juxtaposition

I'm not in the habit of doing mini-posts. There's an awfully slippery slope between "hey guys check this out real quick" and "hey guys here's an iBook webcam shot of me with my dog. Check out the bomb-ass pattern I just painted on my nails!" Which is to say, a descent into girlblogging. I've resolved not to let this happen (or to ever "re-blog" something--Jesus Christ, write your own content), but please allow me to share these videos. First, right-wing talk radio host Alex Jones attempts to re-define political discourse:

Unfortunately for Doctor Jones, John Cleese beat him to the punch by about 35 years.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Guide to Proper Crowd Violence

Before the Guide
It's been a rough few days, physically speaking. On Saturday I played ultimate for over two hours , which would have been strenuous on its own, but I was also wearing my brand-new Nike Mercurial Vapors and they took the skin off my heels. That's the actual color, by the way. I thought I might be able to get neon pink, but they only had the green in size 12. I could not have gotten a tasteful color if I wanted to (and why would I?). Anyway, we're way past blisters--the blisters have developed, been popped and sheared away, and the skin beneath them as well. It's just what happens if you don't take it easy with new cleats--and honestly, it's gonna hurt even if you take it easy. So have fun, deal with the pain, and complain about it afterwards on your blog. Also, buy Neosporin and a lot of band-aids.

That was Saturday. Sunday night, The Humboldt hosted a group excursion to San Francisco's "DNA Lounge" to see the Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive. The DNA Lounge has no genetics- or helix-themed themes whatsoever, not even a spiral staircase. Slim's is presumably named after some shifty and probably fictional proprietor, who put Playboys in the bathrooms back when people were capable of being offended by something so tame as exposed breasts and genitals. I should be able to understand why you gave your club this name, is all I'm saying. The East Bay punk/hardcore act Set Your Goals opened, and they owned pretty hard. The crowd was ROWDY AS HELL during their set, which was obviously enhanced by the fact that these guys were local. I was getting knocked around pretty well and the stage dives were going--it was clear at this point that we were all in for a bumpy night. If these relatively tame punk rockers ("Gaia Bleeds" might be their heaviest song) had the crowd this riled up, the very legitimate brutality of Parkway Drive might actually incite a riot.

When the time came, even I was not prepared. To be fair, it's not the first time this has happened. It was the most violent show I've ever been to, though a couple others have come close. Circle pits--typically the most dangerous things you'll encounter at metal shows--were the least of my problems. We all got separated immediately, and the surges going back and forth across the crowd were easily enough to knock people off their feet. Stage divers, when they started up in the first song ("Samara/Unrest"), were wild and got wilder. The singer made matters worse at every turn, escalating the violence by demanding MORE MORE MORE. See, a true frontman makes YOU want to please HIM. Only by the intensity of your devotion will he ever accept and love you, and you NEED that love. As Stephen Colbert has noted, the craving for the love of a distant authority figure whom you can never truly satisfy marks all the best relationships. Parkway Drive's Winston McCall was insatiable on Sunday, demanding more stage dives and more circle pits and more crushing of the floor. Always more. It does help that the whole band is really appealing in general; not only do they write amazing face-crushing music, but they're all effortlessly handsome, fit Aussie surfer guys. My sister (who came to the show and risked her surgically repaired back on multiple stage dives, proving yet again that she's way braver than me) was drooling over them, and even if you don't want to bone hot Aussies you can't help but be dazzled by their smiles.

The problem was this: the crowd's energy was probably the best I've ever experienced personally, yet it was so sloppy and out-of-control that it ultimately detracted from the experience. It's not Winston's fault (I would never blame you!). It's the crowd's fault. It was a young crowd (all-ages show, what can you do?) and so I understand their sloppiness. What I don't understand is their fashion taste, or their utter lack of shame in promoting said taste. Shame is an important part of teenaged life; it's one of the few things that can actually regulate their awful behavior. Every teenager is an awful embarrassing stain on the Earth, and if you aren't appalled by the memory of your teenaged self you don't have a good memory. The point is, I'm here to help. But you've gotta cut your fucking hair.

Now It's The Guide
First, let's talk about general behavior; you're up near the stage in standing room, but not looking to do anything crazy (crowd surfing, stage diving, or going in a circle pit). We'll leave wall-to-walls out of this; that's some really advanced stuff and honestly if you ever participate in one you need to evaluate your life choices. If you're standing and the crowd is surging back and forth, these are the important things:
--KEEP YOUR FEET. No matter what happens, keep your feet on the ground. Falling is the worst and most dangerous thing that can happen. If you are really confident in your footing, you can dance or jump around. If you choose to do this, try to keep your movement vertical only. You've seen what happens when a basketball player lands on somebody's foot? He gets hurt, and like all mammals you also have feet. Plan accordingly.
--ELBOWS OUT. These are your best friends in the crowd. Keep your arms up and elbows out, to make sure you have a bare minimum of space. If you're crammed so tight that your chest and back have other peoples' chests and backs pressed against them, you can be pushed off your feet. Remember rule 1? Yeah. Also, like in rule 1, this rule can be broken if you expand vertically (putting your fists/hands in the air) and you have enough space.
--CORE STRENGTH. This isn't really something you can work on at the show. But if you do a lot of push-ups, sit-ups, or other core exercises you'll find it MUCH easier to deal with occasional surges. Go along with them, bend, but don't break and fall. Also, if you have a cut stomach or something there's always the chance somebody hot will notice. I mean, it's never happened to me, but there's a lot of things my ass don't get. "Like pussy and respect!"

Next, circle pits. This is the biggest problem a typical concert-goer will run into. Or rather, get run into by. Because that's what happens; people careening at high speed around a pit smash into the walls. The walls are made of people! It's an irritant up until the point when you're getting hammered so hard that you have to turn away from the stage to watch the pit and protect yourself. If you do decide to get into the pit, they can actually be a lot of fun. I dove in several times myself during particularly awesome segments of particularly awesome songs. Normally I don't do this, for two reasons. First, I'm a pussy and I don't like getting hit. I love watching football, but I'm sure I would have hated playing it. Second, in my experience the circle pits are always dominated by the most orc-like denizens of the venue. 5'9" guys who weigh 230, took their shirts off before even entering the club and probably have at least one neck tattoo. I'm willing to bang bodies with my fellow rock fans, but I'm not looking to get drilled by a drunk'n'angry bulldog. See: the above speculation on playing football. At this particular show, there were so many teenaged kids that I was one of the bigger, stronger men in the venue (standing an imposing 6-foot-nothing and 160 pounds).

If you hop in, go with the flow. Clockwise or counter, try to move in the same basic direction as the other moshers. This lets you enjoy yourself without high-speed collisions, where people fall. KEEP YOUR FEET. If you hit other people, use the meat of your shoulder or the palms of your hands. Stay away from joints and bones, because they hurt. Above all, beware of a particular kind of mosher. He's young, often a teenager, and possessed of all the myriad jackasseries endemic to his race. He will often wear a shirt commemorating over-caffeinated guttertrash bands like A Day to Remember or Bring Me the Horizon (if there's a four-letter acronym, that's a bad sign). His style of moshing can best be described as "fighting the invisible ninjas," as he kicks his legs and windmills his arms in furious punching motions. Nobody knows why they started doing this, but on the Internet these children will actually defend their ridiculousness by claiming "it's about protecting your body." I suppose so, in the sense that punching a complete in the face is self-defense. Space is limited in a circle pit, and the last thing you want to do is piss everyone off by smashing your fists into their bodies if they get anywhere near you. Honestly, the best solution is to drill the kid directly in the back with your shoulder. It's the one part of his body he can't protect with his fists, and it'll typically wipe him out into the wall of the pit. He might get kicked in the face, and it might be a learning experience.

Finally, stage dives. These were a big thing on Sunday night, since the only security employed by the DNA Lounge was stationed outside the venue. Which made sense, I think, in case an army of gun-toting hoods tried to take the club hostage Die Hard-style. That didn't happen, so the arrangement was a smashing success. People could jump onstage at any time, and did so with abandon. Mr. McCall encouraged this by letting them scream into the mic, high-fiving them, and explicitly demanding more stage dives after every song. I heart you, Winston. During the set there were an average of 1.4 non-band-members on the stage at any given time. During the encore, it was probably 2.3, which is to say a LOT of people were taking dives. And, well...a lot of them were getting fucked up. This happened for a variety of reasons, because 16-year-olds are prone to a variety of mistakes. Let's review some important tactics:
--PEOPLE ARE NOT FURNITURE. If you want to stage dive, you need to get up to the stage and climb up on it directly. While you can be crowd-surfed to the stage, getting up over that crowd should be done with the assistance of your buddies. Your buddies, not random strangers. I had a half-dozen kids try to vault over my shoulders to get up, and it feels really weird to get jumped from behind like that. The good news? I don't have to put up with it, and would just drop my left shoulder every time. The stupid kids then lose their balance and fall on their faces, serving the cause of Justice. For those kids: use the stage, or your buddies.
--THE CROWD HAS LIMITS. Any time you stage dive, you are asking up to a dozen complete strangers to carry you, lest you smash your face into the concrete floor. Keep this in mind. Particularly if you take a leap, that's a lot of work that needs to be done. If stage dives are happening fast and furious--as they were on Sunday--divers need to take care that they dive into a region of the crowd that can actually support them. If one long-haired douchebag kid dives and is absorbed by the crowd on the left side of the stage, and his skinny-jeans-wearing douchebag friend dives into the same general area, what's going to happen? Sorry, skinny jeans, hope somebody grabs your arm before you faceplant. So, no matter your size, even if you're a girl (they always get caught), wait at least ten seconds before diving into roiling waters.
--BACK OR STOMACH. If you're willing to take the extra risk, you can take a big leap. But remember, somebody has to catch you, and that somebody really needs to be like five somebodies. Those five guys need to have somewhere to grab, so you present surface area, meaning your stomach or back (ladies should obviously go back-first to keep the groping to a socially acceptable level). If you lead with your head, nobody's going to catch you. If you do a backflip, nobody's going to catch you. If you jump feet-first, I hope you break your fucking legs because the LAST thing anyone's catching is a pair of rock-hard shoes flying at them. You're going to kick somebody in the face. Speaking of which, I was kicked in the face by some guy at the show who pulled this exact shit. He hurt my neck and cut my forehead, and I went after him with the legitimate intention of socking him in the eye. Because if you get to kick me in the face, I get to punch you in yours. My initial shove of challenge caused him to fall, terrified and flailing, back into the circle pit where he got stomped on. Call it a draw. Interestingly, I could have beat the shit out of this kid without a single security guy in sight. Something to think about, DNA Lounge.

We'll close this with a Parkway Drive live video, to commemorate their spectacular performance. I wish they'd played this song and a few others, but that's how set lists go. Also, the show started late and had to end at midnight. It's not a perfect world.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Unifying Theories, vol. 1: Romantic vs. Industrial Societies

Welcome to the Unifying Theories course, here at the Mountain View Scientology Center! I presume you all brought your copies of Dianetics and a check for $2,000? Seriously, though, there really is a Scientology bookstore/center/future site of mass suicide in Mountain View, California. It's downtown right next to an amazing Turkish restaurant. Come for the food; leave with both diarrhea and reading material for the toilet! This is the first of what may be a multi-part series on my larger unifying theories for how the world works. The next one could be "Men are stupid, women are crazy." But maybe not--you remember Ludicrous Video Game Tropes? Only two issues. Sometimes bad things happen to good ideas.

The Idea
I submit that among European societies, all can be divided into two broad categories: Romantic and Industrial. The theory is limited to European societies because I'm broadly ignorant of most others. If there's one thing I've learned about humor, it's that if you're going to generalize about other peoples' cultures they should have at least the same skin color as you. And honestly, I'm not sure it even holds for others. Third-world countries by definition aren't industrial. East Asian societies seem to exhibit characteristics of both. So let's stick to what works. And by the way, you should treasure this paragraph. How many times do I proclaim my ignorance on my own blog? You should probably make a wish, as you would for any other cosmically rare event.

Anyway, the theory is that Romantic and Industrial societies share common weaknesses and strengths. It starts from the bottom, from the collective Ids of human beings over the course of centuries. Eventually, a national character forms, with a number of tendencies that shape the aspirations and capabilities of the entire society. If nobody in France cared about painting, they'd have far fewer painters in general and likely no great ones. I think you get the idea.

What do I mean by Industrial societies? To name a few, Britain, Germany, Australia, America, and Canada because that's basically America.

What do I mean by Romantic societies? To name a few, France, Italy, Spain, and Quebec because that's basically France.

Russia is kind of an exception. It's got elements of both societies, but it's really a Fucked Up society. In Fucked Up societies, they drink vodka. Russia is a fucked-up place filled with fucked-up people and always has been. I took a Russian History class in college, and it was more depressing than my Milton class.

Industrial Societies

The drink of choice for the industrial man. And his woman. And their children. Beer was one of the few things that was actually safe to drink a thousand years ago, and countries like England and Germany specialize in it. The unique brutality of Australian metal is made possible only by throats well-lubricated with Foster's. Americans similarly love their beer and metal, and while we do produce wine I should note that all our wines are rip-offs of French and Italian wines. So there. Beer is the result of production, not cultivation. You can craft it, yeah. But you can't have beer until you can process grain, and beer is essentially liquid bread. It built the fucking Pyramids! Well, beer and whips. Lots of whips. By contrast, you've never had an Italian or French or Spanish beer, and it's not because they don't exist. It's because nobody outside of those countries wants to drink their particular flavors of swill.

American cars, though they suffered a decline in the past couple decades with the rise of Japanese manufacturers, were long considered the standard across the world. The British and Germans also make great cars. For Industrial societies, automobiles represent the cutting age of engineering and manufacturing. The two greatest highway systems in the world are the US Interstate and the Autobahn. England might be able to compete if they weren't concerned about rampaging bands of Picts destroying any infrastructure they invest in. Don't believe me? King Arthur, Centurion, now The Eagle. All involve battling shitloads of Picts. I don't make these things up. In contrast, Romantic countries make shitty cars. French cars are such a joke that Paris drivers routinely jostle each others' parked vehicles around to wedge into a space. Nobody cares, because these are such pieces of shit. "But Tony, what about all those Italian sports cars?" While flashy, they are more products of visual design than amazing cars. Ferraris in particular are known for their unreliable transmissions. They make Vespas. I guess those are cool.

This is closely related to cars. Why? Because the same kind of technological superiority represented in a BMW as opposed to a Peugeot translates into battlefield superiority. The Spanish Armada was sunk by England. Need I remind you of the tempestuous relationship between France and Germany? It was a rivalry in the sense that the Yankees and Red Sox had a rivalry prior to 2004. When France used the spoils of World War I to build the mighty Maginot line, Germany was like, "You realize that there's another French-speaking country to your undefended North, right?" The greatest French military leader of all time was defeated by snow. Germany is so fantastic at war that we had to essentially ban them from the local ballcourt. And the greatest war speech of all time? English.

Romantic Societies

Wine and Food
They get a combined section because they're intrinsically linked. Wine is an accompaniment for food; beer is a substitute for food. I've never developed a taste for the stuff personally (one of a thousand misconceptions I had about adulthood: that I would "grow to like" wine) but I can acknowledge its role in human civilization. In fact, this might be one of the earliest determinants of whether a society becomes Industrial or Romantic: thousands of years ago when alcohol was the only way to ensure the safety of your beverages, did your society turn to wine or beer? If it's beer, your men will spend the next few centuries taking enormous shits, designing toilets to handle them, and eventually applying that toilet engineering to cars and war. If it's wine, your men will spend the next centuries eating too much and trying to get laid. German food essentially exists to keep you from throwing up your beer; it's just sausage, sauerkraut and heavy grains. Mustard is a food group for German people. English food is so legendarily bad that Nobel-winning economists have written papers on it. Swedes are incapable of creating any food or drink that isn't REALLY WEIRD. Indeed, the best food you can get in either England or Germany is from kebab stands run by Turks or North Africans. Meanwhile, just walk into a sandwich shop somewhere in Barcelona. I defy you to come out of there with something that isn't one of the five greatest things you've ever put in your mouth.

Art and Music
The single most important edge the Romantics have over us stuffy Industrialists. The greatest artists and creative forces in the history of Western civilization were all French, Italian or Spanish. England and Germany have some good prose fiction writers, but the novel is an industrial product. Compare that to poetry, which the Romantics are awesome at but which we can't touch without being embarrassed. "But Mozart was German!" No, he was AUSTRIAN, and both Austria and Switzerland are Romantic societies who happen to speak German. Visit those places sometime; fairy-tale whimsy practically drips from their architecture. Mozart's Austrian operas are amazing; Wagner's German operas are fourteen hours long and inspired the aesthetic of National Socialism. And shall we talk about painting? Italian artists brought about the Renaissance; French artists gave us Impressionism, which is exactly like having your contact lenses get all dry and blurry but without the scratching sensation. Picasso was a Spaniard (and probably un-trustworthy for that reason). And here, by contrast, is the most representative sample of English art I can find:

"It's dreadful, isn't it? God, it's a bore." Those words were actually used by John L'Heureux to describe Joyce's Ulysses, but it's utterly appropriate here. The painting is called "The Northwest Passage" by John Everett Millais, and it's supposed to represent the English national shame at being unable to find and navigate the Northwest Passage--the mythical shipping route across the Arctic ice cap. So, what does Millais give us? A women looking sad as she pores over charts and ship logs. Meanwhile, her grizzled sea captain husband sits inert in his chair and stares out to sea. He's a broken man, confined to his chair for fifteen hours a day by joints corroded by salt and suffering. His arthritis is so bad that he can't un-ball his fists. Erections are a distant memory. He's got nothing to do but sit and rot here in drydock, like his barnacle-encrusted vessel long since broken apart for scrap lumber. Inside, he's already dead, and the sadness in his wife's eyes is less shame for her husband's failure than shame for her own. She wasn't meant to live like this, locked away with a mouldering ghost until at last her Sad Keanu goes to his meager reward of damp earth.

This is a tricky one; everyone thinks they're good at sex just like they think they're good at driving. The good news is that sex is easier than driving; there's less to pay attention to. It's also lamer because you're allowed to change the music at any point while you drive. Anyway, let's be real: Industrial societies are bad at sex. Our women are intimidating, and our men aren't emotional enough to crack their shells. Industrial societies also tend to be cold and sunless, especially in the winter, so everyone ends up pale and unattractive. As a result, Industrialists are like Pandas: they're just not that into sex. They recognize the practical need for it, but MAN would it be easier if we didn't have to think about this. Interestingly, everything I've just written describes the prevailing sexual attitudes at Stanford University during the time I was there. Girls in general seem to have become skankier since then; maybe it's different. Industrial people are embarrassed by their inner drives in general; the idea of taking our clothes off and flopping around to fulfill a biological need seems...un-dignified.

By contrast, people in Romantic societies spend huge amounts of time and effort on these pursuits. It's why we Americans fear our women going to Italy or France alone; it's not that we fear direct competition with those greaseballs, it's that we know Romantics will happily embarrass themselves for sex. A French dude has no problem begging any attractive woman he sees to sleep with him; after all, if you ask fifty women to sleep with you, at least one of them probably will. And by corollary, if your girlfriend is directly propositioned by fifty greasy long-haired dudes in skinny jeans with unbuttoned shirts, she's going to bang one of them. We can't compete with those guys; they're not even playing the same game.

Thanks for reading.