Category Archives: culture

Bitches, man

Pax Arcana

It’s become fashionable among red-faced TV shouters and slope-shouldered Internet trolls to blame the demise of newspapers on content quality, rather than the inevitable result of a shifting landscape for information consumption.

This is rubbish. Newspapers are still the primary organ for gathering and reporting news, and without them we’d be far worse off. Case in point — if the New York Times makes good on its threat to close the Boston Globe, how the fuck are we ever going to know what the most popular dog names in Wellesley are?

From the top-front-middle of Boston.com comes this awesomeness:

Bailey is the top dog in Wellesley. Lucy is the queen in Newton.

In the battle of dog names, the most popular dog name in Wellesley is Bailey with 38. The most popular dog name in Newton is Lucy with 33. Molly, the second most popular dog name in Wellesley, with 34, doesn’t even crack the top ten most popular names in Newton.

ugly_dog

Critics of the Globe often say that the paper has hastened its own death by ignoring the city of Boston in favor of fluffy who-gives-a-shit stories from the wealthy suburbs. Those critics just don’t understand that a sophisticated exegesis of dog names in the rich suburbs adds a wealth of value to the every day lives of Globe readers.

Because it is in such stories that we discover that people in the Boston area like sports! CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE IT?

A lot can be learned about a town from its dog names, but to get a real feel for Newton and Wellesley you need to dig deeper than just the top-ten list of names.

This being Red Sox territory, dog owners like to name their pooches after just about anything from the Olde Towne Team. Wellesley has 10 dogs named Fenway to Newton’s three. Both towns have three dogs named Remy. There are also a combined four dogs in the two towns still named Manny.

Of course Manny was a good dog until we decided he was the worst dog ever. Then we got a Canadian Syrup Collie and pretended he was the most bestest dog in the world.

But lest the town’s are accused of forgetting “the other” sports dynasty, Wellesley has eight dogs named Brady, a dog named Tom Brady and a dog named Tedy Bruschi, and Newton has seven dogs named Brady and three named Bruschi. No one has gone so far, however, as naming his dog Gillette.

But lest the newspaper’s be accuse’d of slacking on the job, they may wan’t to revisit that firs’t sent’ence.

Both Newton and Wellesley are more than just sports towns, however. Lovers of literature will see dogs named after great men and women of letters. Wellesley’s literary heroes include Shakespeare, Yates, Hemingway and Shelley. Newton’s include Oscar Wilde and Nietzsche.

This gives me an entirely different appreciation of the erudition necessary to live in such towns. Come now, Bulwer-Lytton the Beagle, we must upgrade you at once! From this day forth, you shall be known as Oliver Wendell Holmes the Beagle!

There are fans of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic series in both towns, as Newton has four dogs named Snoop and Wellesley has three, plus a dog named Charlie Brown. There are also a combined six dogs in the two towns named Peanut, and one in Newton named Peanuts.

Okay, you’re fucking kidding about the “Snoop” thing, right? Seriously. Please tell me you’re kidding.

For Newton and Wellesley entertainment is more than just music and comics. It is something that should be recognized. So, to recognize the recognition of the arts, Newton and Wellesley have 10 and eight dogs named Oscar respectively, Wellesley has 3 dogs named Emmy to Newton’s one, and Wellesley has a dog named Tony.

I’m going to invent a new award based on this article, just to name my dog after it. Say hello to Poopknuckle the pug puppy everybody! Isn’t he adorable and sticky?

As lovers of fine things it’s no surprise that the most popular car brand that became a dog name is Bentley, with five in Newton and four in Wellesley. Similarly, no one will be shocked to know that the most popular beer brand/dog name is Stella with seven in Wellesley and five in Newton (although Guinness is a close second in Wellesley with five.)

OK, you realize that Bentley is also the name of a university nearby. And that the likelihood that people named their dogs Stella after the beer rather than the famous movie/play is virtually zero.

Sometimes a dog name is nothing more than an indication of potential size. If this is the case, watch out in Wellesley. With 10 dogs named Bear living in Wellesley, and only two in Newton, you might want to watch out when you are walking down the street in the former.

That’s why I take Bear Killer with me everywhere. I tell people it’s an ironic name because he’s a Scottish Terrier dressed in a pith helmet — but in reality he’s an actual bear dressed like a Scotty in a pith helmet. It’s still ironic, though, because he’s a bear named Bear Killer that kills dogs named Bear. And Bentley.

From Remy to Yates: most popular dog names in Wellesley [Boston.com]

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Michael Minelli is an unhappy douchebag (allegedly)

Pax Arcana

The Grand Council of Great and Serious Men of Science recently devised a formula to guage the awesomeness quotient of a given Web site. Using algorithms so advanced they’ll make your balls explode, we determined that the best the Internet has to offer are sites replete with simple, yet multi-textured, repeatable memes that often create for the reader an alternate reality in which the contours are narrowly defined yet the depth of humor available is limitless.

That’s why, even in the face of grave global financial distress, the geniuses behind I Can Has Cheezburger and the FAIL Blog are raking it in. These sites have mastered the art of the repetitious meme. And I salute them.

Another such site, and a personal favorite of mine, is Hot Chicks with Douchebags.

The concept of HCwDBS is simple. This guy named Jay Louis finds pictures of horrifyingly douchetastic guidos and other nightclubbing nightmares greased up and posing next to attractive women. Then he makes fun of them. Here’s a sample of the commentary:

The Lobster

douchebagUrge to kill rising…

There’s a certain plateau of douchitude a scrote reaches in which nothing touches him. And by nothing touching him, I mean that literally.

Then again, this perky carrot is touching him. Which makes me want to touch a light socket.

Why, perky carrot, why? The man has literally undone his shirt in public to show the camera his lobster abs. And you smile? What happened to you, perky carrot? Were you dropped on your head as an infant? How has lobster’s douchey charms worked on you?

Then again, the gold hoop dress suggests a covert Bleeth infection. Which would explain that pile of sea cockroach to her left.

I think you get the idea. Anyway, the real humor in the site is that there is a seemingly endless parade of these lowlifes fit to ridicule. It’s the kind of thing that makes us — especially those of us from New Jersey — question the existence of the human soul.

The site got so popular recently that Louis got a book deal out of it. Suprisingly, all of the men pictured in the book had a good sense of humor about the whole thing and took it in stride.

(pause)

BWAAAAHHAHAHAHA! OF COURSE THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED DON’T YOU PAY ATTENTION TO HOW WE DO THINGS IN THIS COUNTRY?

One alleged douchebag, named Michael Minelli, is suing Louis over the inclusion of his photograph in the book. According to the lawsuit, posted by The Smoking Gun, Minelli claims libel, invasion of privacy, and damages resulting from using his image for profit without consent.

Also, he apparently has some terrible friends and stuff:

Plaintiff has been, and continues to be the subject of ridicule in that he has been, is now, and continues to be called a Douchebag by friends, acquaintances, coworkers, employers, and strangers alike.

As a direct and proximate result of the Publication, Plaintiff has suffered loss of reputation, shame, mortification, injury to his feelings, and business.

Poor grammar aside (hey douchelawyer, you’ve got one too many commas in that second part and one too few in the first), it seems that Michael Minelli has had a rough go of it. The self-described “marketing and promotion contractor in the entertainment industry” was probably just a few steps from stardom and global acclaim before this unfortunate series of events.

On the flip side, hey look! Michael Minelli read a book!!

Alleged “Douchebag” Sues Author [The Smoking Gun]

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Peruvians give crappy gifts

Pax Arcana

I’m not going to lie — I’ve dished out some garbage presents in my lifetime. In my early 20′s, I gave my brother a used book for Christmas because I had totally forgotten to buy him something. Not only was it a used book, but a paperback that I had taken it to the beach that summer, dog-eared about 50 pages, written in the margins, and bent the spine lengthwise.

Sorry about that, homey.

Anyway, crappy as that gift was, it was a magic cotton candy dispensing HDTV hovercraft compared to what a bunch of Peruvians want to give president elect Barack Obama to celebrate his election.

According to this article, aficionados of the Peruvian national dog would like to send one to the new first family. In case you didn’t know, this is what they look like:

peruvian_hairless_dog

The above monstrosity is called a Peruvian Hairless Dog, and its supporters say it is good for those with dog hair allergies — like presidential daughter Malia Obama. It is also good for snarling at the gates of hell at the time of reckoning and for chasing Simba and Nala through the elephant graveyard.

You hear what I’m saying people? I’m saying that is ONE UGLY DOG! That dog is so ugly it looks like it caught on fire and they put it out with a rake! That dog is so ugly that even Rice Krispies won’t talk to it! That dog is so ugly it has to sneak up on a glass of water!! HEEYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Peru offers bald dog of Incas to Obama family [Reuters]

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Saudis get medieval on some birthday cake

Pax Arcana

We can now add Saudi Arabia to the list of countries Father Scott could never call home (that list also includes Japan for height reasons and the principality of Razoria for its continuing blood fued with the neighboring state of Beardsylvania).

That’s because Father Scott loves cake. He loves it like a fat kid loves… cake. We once had an hour-long email battle about whether cake or pie was the superior dessert.

And in Saudi Arabia, cake-eating is against the rules:

The Saudi ban on birthdays is in line with the strict interpretation of Islam followed by the conservative Wahhabi sect adhered to in the kingdom. All Christian and even most Muslim feasts are also prohibited because they are considered alien customs the Saudi clerics don’t sanction.

birthday_party
BLASPHEMER! Let’s get her!

The great Saudi cake ban came to light recently when a prominent cleric said on national TV that birthday parties were OK, as long as they didn’t pretend to be an official muslim eid, or feast. The Saudi religious establishment responded with predictable reserve and broad-mindedness:

There is no question that the television remarks by Awdah, who is not employed by the country’s religious establishment, contradicted several fatwas, or religious edicts, issued by senior Saudi clerics over the years.

One such ruling, by the previous mufti, Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Baz, said Muslims should not emulate the West by celebrating birthdays — even that of Muhammad, which is marked in most other Middle Eastern countries as a holiday.

“It’s not permissible to take part in them,” he said. “Birthday parties are an innovation . . . and people are in no need of innovations.”

He’s got a point. You know what else is an innovation? Bras. People should stop wearing bras all the time.

Don’t let them eat cake, Saudi cleric says [LA Times]

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This post is irritating

Pax Arcana

I personally believe — at this moment in time — that you shouldn’t of come to Pax Arcana to read this post. It’s fairly unique, but it’s not rocket science. At the end of the day, we strive for 24/7 hilarity and curiosity-piquing content. But sometimes it’s a nightmare. With all due respect, this post will only annoy you. Am I broken up about that? Absolutely.

According to researchers at Oxford University, the above paragraph should be just about the most annoying thing ever committed to cyber-paper. That’s because I used every one of the “Top Ten Most Irritating Expressions in the English Language.”

Here it is with the irritations bolded and marked by their rank on the list:

I personally (3) believe — at this moment in time (4) — that you shouldn’t of (8) come to Pax Arcana to read this post. It’s fairly unique (2), but it’s not rocket science (10). At the end of the day (1), we strive for 24/7 (9) hilarity and curiosity-piquing content. But sometimes it’s a nightmare (7). With all due respect (5), this post will only annoy you. Am I broken up about that? Absolutely (6).

dilbert_moralify1

Of course the Oxford list is more British than American, and British people are irritated by funny things. Like Americans. And orthodonture. And when you slap them and say “USA! USA!” Such sensitive bastards.

Anyway, I would add the following terms to the list were it up to me:

Thrown under the bus
Utilize
Individuals
I could care less
Going forward

And for the love of all that is good and righteous in this world, please stop saying:

Fierce

I’m sure my massive readership will have some thoughts on the matter…

Oxford Researchers List Top 10 Most Annoying Phrases [Wired]

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Vote

obamalogo

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Your daughter looks like a slut

Pax Arcana

It is a fact of life that the overarching theme of Halloween for the past 10 years or so is outright sluttiness. For whatever reason, young women have increasingly used the holiday as an excuse to don the most skantastic outfits they can squeeze their bodies into.

At first, this trend was awesome.

Believe me. It was awesome:


“Hey, sailor…”

Now it’s boring and stupid.

“Oh, you’re a naughty nurse? HOW OUTRAGEOUS AND DARING! Have you met my friends the sexy cat, the hot librarian, and the saucy bunny?”

Even worse, the trend seems to be polluting the minds of our children. Over at the New York Times site, parenting writer Lisa Belkin bemoans the predominance of sexy halloween costumes for children in the aisles of a local costume shop:

There were kimonos with slits up to here and down to there, Catwoman costumes that looked like something from a bondage video and get-ups that would have been TMI on the real Britney Spears, never mind a 9-year-old. There were cinched waists and bodices stuffed to hint at breasts. The photos on the packages were of Lolitas in training, with pouty red mouths and one hip angled just so.

And if you think Lisa Belkin is one of those overreacting, hyper-protective suburban moms who will strip all the fun out out of their kids’ childhoods in the name of protecting them — well you may be right. Here’s what she says about boy costumes:

More recently, when my sons were in the market for costumes, my issue was not with sex but with violence. I drew the line at those masks with the fake blood pulsing through an acrylic layer on the face. Anything that might resemble a real weapon or might be mistaken for a real weapon or might be somehow used as a real weapon was out, too. I told them that they were not allowed to scare little children.

Scaring little children — ruining Halloween since the Middle Ages.

Girls’ Costumes Gone Wild [NYT]

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A great loss for beer lovers everywhere

Pax Arcana

A few months ago, we reported on the groundbreaking work being done by the geniuses at the MillerCoors brewing company, which had just announced a new line of craft-style Miller Lite. The new beers were aimed at beer connoisseurs like me who demand craft beer-sounding names without all that annoying craft beer quality.

I have some bad news, fellow beer lovers. After testing poorly in its target demographics, the line of craft-style Miller Lites has been shelved, for now:

MillerCoors LLC is ending testing of its trio of craft styles of top-seller Miller Lite so it can rethink the brand, the company told distributors.

The so-called Miller Lite Brewing Collection didn’t perform as well as expected in test markets including Baltimore, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C., spokesman Julian Green said.

The good news is that the project hasn’t been permanently scuttled. After studying why consumers were forgoing the new beers in favor of small-batch varieties, MillerCoors thinks it has found an answer:

Green said testing showed the firm had to build consumer awareness to help people separate Miller Lite from the Brewing Collection.

So the trick is to get consumers to forget that the Miller Lite Brewing Collection has nothing at all to do with Miller Lite.

Phew.

For a second there, I thought they were going to start monkeying around with the recipe.

Craft collection of Miller Lite shelved [Chicago Tribune]

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The myth of “getting away from it all”

Pax Arcana

Many of us see vacations as an escape from our hectic lives — a chance to flee from civilization and take pleasure in the simple life, if only for a week or two.

Then why do so many of us choose to flee our comfortable suburban lives for more densely-packed areas?

That’s a question that bugs urban planners, as they seek to convince the exurb-dwelling populace that despite their worst fears of back-alley stabbings and doo-wop singing, greater density can actually improve your quality of life. This article in Next American City illustrates the conundrum with a closer look at the most bestest place on earth, the Jersey Shore:

Every block has a sidewalk used for short walks to shops, schools, churches, and of course the ocean.  If the walk is too far there are trolleybuses, provided at low cost as a quasi-public transportation amenity. Single-family homes sit snugly next to each other or next to townhomes, which often sit close to lowrise hotels. Sandwich shops without dedicated parking spaces are full of patrons all day. Most homes have porches and families wind down the day by sitting in them and waving to anyone who walks by. Nearby Cape May was America’s first seaside resort town, and is now an international destination where the most treasured homes and restaurants front the busy sidewalks. Front yards are small and side yards even smaller, yet nobody seems to mind. Each of these features is part of a good planner’s urban design “toolkit,” and they help increase quality of life and set the stage for neighborly interaction (even among “shoobies,” or daytrippers.) They are things that planners struggle to convince towns to allow, yet are often denied by citizen groups who protest, citing concerns including…reduced quality of life.

There is a lot of truth to this. When the extended Pax Familias ventures to Long Beach Island every summer, one of the biggest draws is that our cars sit mostly idle in the driveway while we walk to the beach, the coffee shop, or the ice cream place. For longer trips, however, there is always the patented Pax Arcana human catapult-o-tron. Didn’t I tell you about that?

During the Summer, Opponents of Density Go on Vacation [Next American City]

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Scotland doesn’t really exist

Pax Arcana

We all know that guy with the Scottish pride, right? He wears a kilt to weddings and took bagpipe lessons in college. He shows you the tartan of his clan then tosses a caber around on the local soccer fields.

Unfortunately for ol’ Pridey MacHaggis, much of what he thinks constitutes the Scottish heritage may be — in the vernacular of the highlands — total bullshite.

Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper died in 2003 after finishing eight chapters of a book on Scottish history. Those chapters were just published by Yale University press as “The Invention of Scotland.” According to this review in the New York Sun, the book illustrates how even the most Scottish-seeming things aren’t necessarily indigenous:

Sad to say, the kilt was invented by an Englishman, Thomas Rawlinson, who came to Scotland in the 1720s to manage an ironworks in the Highlands. Rawlinson observed that while the actual native costume of the Highlanders — the long belted cloak called the plaid — might have been suitable for rambling over hills and bogs, it was “a cumbrous, inconvenient habit” for men working at a furnace. So he hired the tailor of the local army regiment to make something more “handy and convenient for his workmen” by “separating the skirt from the plaid and converting into a distinct garment” — the kilt. This symbol of Highland tradition, as Trevor-Roper notes, was “bestowed … on the Highlanders, not in order to preserve their traditional way of life, but to ease its transformation: to bring them off the heath and into the factory.”

And by an Englishman, no less.

The whole book appears to be a chronicle of how many of the bulwarks of Scottish national identity — history, literature, culture — were invented or concocted to fill gaps in history or promote political nationalism.

It’s a shame, really. I feel bad for the Scottish. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if some jackass historian published a book about how Vikings weren’t eight foot tall marauding superhumans with horned helmets and magic hammers.

Hugh Trevor-Roper’s ‘The Invention of Scotland’ [NY Sun]

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