“National Lampoon” (What, Again?!?!)

Almost all of these depressing and catastrophic developments were news to me.  As I said earlier, in what has proved to be the most surprising frequent topic in this blog, I stopped paying much attention to the operation and its spin-offs after 1978 or so. (I’ve never even seen a “Vacation” movie since I regard Chevy Van Chaser as toxic unfunny.) But the NatLamp story is still enlightening on several levels.

One, in the contest to revive a once-notorious outsider magazine, Punk and CREEM now have to give up the Botch Crown to National Lampoon. Obviously no other publication has fallen as far or squandered so much energy.

Two, this is further confirmation of a most peculiar failure of understanding: reviving a brand is weak and lazy. It’s just throwing out an imitation. Inventing a hit brand is a lot harder, but the real task at hand.

Third, the piece touches on a crucial transformation: NatLamp started as a mixture of the subversive and the sophomoric. And it eventually went with the easier option. Part of that whole horrible wave where racist and sexist and generally bigoted humor was considered “bold” or “rule-breaking,” whereas the opposite type of satire was and is the tough way forward.

Yeh, I know — it’s cheap fun to satirize the squares and the Establishment. But those are extinct. The powerful and smug and cruel and hate-mongers and anti-thinkers are the targets of our time, and they can be fired upon.

The Voynich Finds Its Niche

There’s no point resisting the conclusions of this essay. 

I’ve been fascinated by the manuscript ever since I heard about it as a romantic book-boy out in the sticks. I mentioned it early on in this blog. But I looked at my reproduction around the time I did that post and was disillusioned — how could I have thought the text was a made-up language? It’s merely decorative script-babble. Plus, the mysterious, secret-knowledge manuscript was a lot more common fantasy back in the ’60s and ’70s. I’m almost cynical enough now to put down the Voynich as being too famous for being famous.

“Casablanca” And Its Landscape — Both Faded

Very sharp review by Laura Miller on a book that celebrates the movie. I would add the bitter irony that Harvard Square, where Casablanca was reborn as a fetish object, has all but vanished during the same time period the film started to dim. That is what causes me the most pangs of lost romance.

Perfect: “An Endless Celebration of Nothing”

Charlie Pierce nails the ideal phrase for the mode that will take over the United States tomorrow —   “an endless celebration of nothing.”

I’m going to take my final afternoon walk, covered by Medicare as I have known it, able to write about art and issues I care about (if not as often as I would like), able to enjoy a little while as what I once would have called an old guy in a joyous, long-term marriage.

But all the previous worlds I looked at this month are ending at sunrise Friday. The only new crime that will matter is pointing out the Nothing is Nothing.

I Know I’m Not a Hoarder …

… despite enormous collections I wish took up less room. Because, in the first major book crate-dig in years I had no trouble picking out volumes that no longer meant anything to me. Being and Nothingness? Please. The only disheartening aspect was that I am forced to conclude I’m less avid about my science writing than I was 15 or so years ago. I’m not keeping current as I should and a number of marginal reference books got stacked on the sell piles. And if I hadn’t read a guide to mythology in that span of time, or even remembered I owned it — gone.