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Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: May 23-29 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010




Dear Internet:
Welcome to Issue 28 of the Tendown; my look at the top cultural happenings of the previous 7 days.  The conceit, for you new readers, is I start with an expansive thought, labeling it First - and then I countdown, nominally in order of importance, the next ten items, some of which draw more discussion than others; usually related to the amount of time in which I have to write. Probably, there's something in here which you will find of interest; probably, there's something in here which won't mean anything at all to you; the calculus is less "what is of most interesting to the interwebs this week" and more "what's in my brain".

And what's in my brain this week is the brain.



First: I don't watch The Curiously Obscure Adventures of Old Christine which may not be the actual title of the show, but Saturday I watched a recent episode of The Curiously Obscure Adventures of Old Christine which contained the following premise, Julia Louis Dreyfus (who will hereafter be referred to as Elaine; she says here that she has not had plastic surgery; and while this seems implausible I will decide to accept it as truth) is engaged to Eric McCormack (who we'll now call Will - the thought about Will is that he's got an Uncle Miltie/Ed Begley situation going on below the waist, also, presumably not surgically enhanced - the Elaine/Will hookup is good fantasy booking on the part of the show; like when Noel dated Monica on Cougar Town for a handful of episodes this season) but is threatened by Will's too-friendly relationship with his ex Beth Littleford (who I occasionally confuse, for no good reason, with Alexandra Wentworth - so we're going to refer to her as the woman not lucky enough to have married George Stephanopolis; like - you know who I think of when I see Brad Garrett?  Marc Curry.  Giant, largely unfunny comics from the same era.  But Garrett's got retirement money from Raymond and Marc Curry would kill to get a MyNetwork TV sitcom with Ray J.  Just goes that way sometimes.  Julia Louis Dreyfus used to battle for sketch time on SNL with Mary Gross.  Now she has 8 figures in the bank and is on the tv making out with mighty donged Will; while Mary Gross, you know, isn't.  When I was 10, I looked a lot like Jason Bateman.  Now, not so much, to the detriment of my Lady Type Friend.  It isn't the life that we have chosen, but it's the one we have). Specifically, Elaine thinks (with good reason) that she isn't as smart as Will and Not Mrs. Stephanopolous; the comedic part of this manifests itself when Will and Not Mrs. Stephanopolous are having what we, the everyman audience, is supposed to recognize as generic, placeholder braniac talk - having a debate if the physical composition of the brain itself changes as a result of psychotherapy, and Elaine responds first with a not particularly timely but a well executed reference to that Miss Teen Whatever from a few years ago "the Iraq, and such as" who finished third on the most recent Amazing Race  (I didn't like any of the final 3 teams; I may never get another Tammy and Victor for whom I can unabashedly cheer.  Tammy and Victor were bad ass; I don't have the sort of encyclopedic knowledge of the Race that I have over the two other CBS reality competition series such that I can qualitatively place them in a list of best Racers ever, but I rooted hard for them.  Tammy and Victor!) and then Elaine showed that her level of sophistication was simpler by trying to engage them in analysis of Russell's mastery of locating hidden immunity idols on Survivor 19.  My Tendown thought is I try to do both here; sometimes within the same paragraph - as I've already talked about the Race and now I get to why this is first on my list this week -- this article from Wired which presents evidence that there are physical changes in the brain - not during psychotherapy, but from spending time online.

Like when writing (or reading) Tendown, for example. 

And those physical changes (spoiler alert) are not for the better. 

I've thought a lot about, for example, what the loss of a tactile relationship with the written word will mean - when magzines and books and newspapers are largely consumed through electronic means; I've thought about how far away we are from simply being able to upload content information into our brains - to consume a book and the analysis thereof as opposed to working our way through the material - it could be democratizing; if Elaine doesn't understand brain plasticity she could just upload a couple of textbooks into the chips implanted in her hand and she'd be, more or less, on a playing field equivalent to Not Mrs. Stephanopolous as they fought to enjoy the genetic bounty in Will Truman's pants.  Or there will be a commodification of knowledge to a more extreme extent - the quality of medical care is vastly, vastly, vastly different in the US depending upon your bank account; Brad Garrett, Mrs. Stephanopolous, and Jason Bateman have, if you're playing the odds, a significantly better chance to live longer, healthier lives than do Marc Curry, Not Mrs. Stephanopolous, and me - one assumes that as advanced medical treatment begins to regularly consist of a master race of neuroenhancers, the distance between the blessings given to haves and have nots will include, even more than it does today, access to all the knowledge that man possesses. 

Much like with the Hollywood Walk of Fame misspelling her name on the star and CBS cancelling her show - it looks like Elaine's going come up short one more time. 

That's the best thing this week.  After the jump, the rest of the Tendown.

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