Thanks, Mr Trump!

Employees at two plants operated by distiller Jim Beam have gone on strike, saying they are overworked amid a nationwide revival of interest in Kentucky bourbon.

Sure, it’s a more than a little too-too.

But Chris Kluwe explaining to Donald Trump what gets said in actual locker rooms is pretty funny.

I was in an NFL locker room for eight years, the very definition of the macho, alpha male environment you’re so feebly trying to evoke to protect yourself, and not once did anyone approach your breathtaking depths of arrogant imbecility. Oh, sure, we had some dumb guys, and some guys I wouldn’t want to hang out with on any sort of regular basis, but we never had anyone say anything as foul and demeaning as you did on that tape, and, hell, I played a couple years with a guy who later turned out to be a serial rapist. Even he never talked like that.

Idiots who hire hitmen to target innocuous people in the middle of the day for cold-blooded killing never seem to anticipate…

… that the first question investigators will ask is Who would want this good and kind person to be dead?

People like the Adelson Three (mother, daughter, and brother look guiltier by the day) never seem to realize, as they plot their contract murder, that when a perfectly virtuous, perfectly harmless human being has his brains blown out one afternoon in his driveway, there are unlikely to be more than a few obvious people who will have wanted that to happen.

His sister described Dan Markel at a memorial service:

He was a serious guy, an academic, a professor, and yet he always knew his priority was his boys and he wasn’t afraid to let the entire world know it… As painful as these last weeks have been, my family and I find a measure of solace and comfort knowing that Danny lived and embraced life fully and in turn was embraced so warmly by all of you.

Poor Markel, professor of law at Florida State University, seems to have done nothing much wrong in his life (he was a devoted father, a popular teacher, and an extremely impressive scholar) outside of taking the terrible step of marrying a member of the Adelson family, and then offending her in some way so that they divorced. She did all she could to move far away and remove custody from Markel, but he fought to live with his children, and this seems to have been a step too far for that … peculiar clan.


After Markel bled to death alone in his car, his ex-wife “changed the children’s surnames from Markel to Adelson and removed her son’s middle name of Markel’s deceased grandmother.”

Again, one wonders what an otherwise intelligent (she was a law prof too) person is thinking when she honors the murdered father of her children in this way…

I mean, to begin with, Markel had loving and now rageful and mournful parents, and the whole series of events, starting with his poisonously vindictive wife, and then his slaughter, and then the systematic removal of any reference to their grandchildren’s father having existed, doesn’t seem to have sat well with them. Maybe they aren’t too surprised about the tons of circumstantial evidence that’s coming out (payments to the killers, incriminating phone records). Maybe it’s a good thing that they’re already arranging, with the prosecutor, a “plan for emergency placement [of Markel’s children] due to arrests” — i.e, it looks as though the Adelson Three are going to be out of commission for awhile…

So reasonable. Why not ask for more?

In 2006, Trump said … [a] “terribly written” book had defamed him [by saying he was worth far less than what he claims], and he demanded $5 billion in damages.

… Trump sat for a two-day deposition for the case in 2007, during which he made a series of false statements… A New Jersey appeals court ruled in [the book’s author’s] favor in 2011.

“… [Vladimir] Medinsky … implies that Catholicism is not a part of Christianity and [he] does not appear to know that Denmark is in Scandinavia.”

This is Russia’s culture minister, whose medieval history dissertation is, experts say, “scandalous, a real parody.”

Erection Update

The latest.

‘She used to go through the house groping in dark closets for a lone Salem left faded in some coat pocket.’

Okay so Bob Dylan wins the literature Nobel and everyone – specially ol’ UD – is astonished. UD is thrilled. It’s good. It’s great. Instead of spending her pre-election-day hours in a snit, she gets to spend them in a ‘sixties trance.

But I want once again (check the DeLillo category on this blog for earlier posts) to try to get at why Don DeLillo is perennially close to his own Nobel Prize in Literature.

UD could choose glorious passages describing postmodern cities and the countrysides to which people in those cities escape; she could visit the streams of consciousness in the heads of characters like the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald and a conscience-stricken CIA agent. She could show you how DeLillo throughout his novels lyricizes political as well as metaphysical thought, and even infuses the commercial detritus of American culture with poetry.

But instead she’ll show you what he could do with just a sentence, a casual seemingly unimportant sentence of the sort you see in this post’s headline.


The divorced narrator of The Names (1982) recalls his ex-wife, with whom he remains in love — a woman now fanatically engaged in archeology, wanting no human intimacy but only to be left alone to spend her days digging for fragments. (The novel’s narrator is at the opposite terrestrial extreme: a consultant in risk management, he’s almost always in the air, flying from one turbulent country to another.) He remembers her, even when they were married, engaged in a sort of domestic archeology:

She used to go through the house groping in dark closets for a lone Salem left faded in some coat pocket.

DeLillo’s prose somehow ennobles this mundane and even grubby act of tobacco scrounging; the poetic language conveys the pathos of her archeological disposition, ever-engaged in obscure searches for faded goods, for old and hidden (and therefore somehow more authentic) forms of sustenance.

Obviously the sentence gets its greatest weight from the larger context of The Names itself, as you read it. But let’s anyway go ahead and try to clarify how DeLillo lyricizes these words.

Go/groping/lone/coat – Assonance and near-rhyme pull the sentence into a coherent mood of melancholy, with the mournful murmur of all those O‘s. But there are many more O‘s in the sentence: to/through/house/closets/pocket. The sentence is a veritable exploration of the tonal range of O. In this second group of words, we find exact rhyme (to/through) as well as very close rhyme (closets/pocket).

All of this conveys not only the sadness and occasional panic of not being able to fix yourself meaningfully in the world (here, you’re after your tobacco fix, if you will), but also the sense of being – as Thomas Wolfe (another player of variations on O) put it in one of his titles – O Lost. You are in search of (Wolfe’s subtitle) the buried life. All three main characters in The Names are in various ways digging for clues, for a sense of balance, a sense of reality, a sense of situatedness in some deep and true cultural actuality, amid a simulacral, drifty, and menacing postmodern world. As the narrator puts it:

It seemed we’d lost our capacity to select, to ferret out particularity and trace it some center which our minds could relocate in knowable surroundings.

DeLillo’s prose, however, does relocate; he has what all great artists have — singular control over his medium. The world may be out of balance, but his sentence has balance – and not merely tonal balance. There’s a nice metrical regularity here too, as in the repetition of similarly stressed phrases:

dark closets
lone Salem
coat pocket

Even that “Salem” cigarette is carefully chosen, no? To be sure the gentle two-syllable word, a sibilant whisper, fits the soft sad insinuating feel of this sentence; more than that, though, the word derives from peace (Salaam, Shalom)… And though as our eyes run over these words we’re not going to stop and say Hey Salem peace, if we’re reading this as it wants to be read, as a species of prose-poetry, we may obliquely pick up on that connotation, especially if the rest of the novel’s text has been amplifying the idea of peace.

Within the aesthetically ordered and meaningful world of DeLillo’s novels we can encounter and explore our own driftiness, embodied in characters and places, and even gain a bit of insight into/leverage over it.


Indeed a major theme of many DeLillo works involves the very serious trouble we get ourselves into when our desire for meaning and groundedness and belonging gets so desperate that we form or join cults.

My life is going by and I can’t get a grip on it. It eludes me. It defeats me. My family is on the other side of the world. Nothing adds up. The cult is the only thing I seem to connect with.

Cults tend to degenerate into violence. At the moment, in America, we have a ringside seat.

Halloween, Front Garden


“[David] Seidemann says his problems began after a student anonymously complained about his syllabus, saying the triangular emojis [Seidemann put on it] could actually be interpreted as an attack on LGBT students because during World War II, Nazis forced gay men to wear triangles.”

And that was just the beginning of it…

That Shakespeherian Trump

A brilliant little essay that doesn’t even mention his name.


As Trump’s campaign collapses into one long lost weekend, more and more observers zoom out and get literary.

There’s something both grotesque and bracing about the confrontation between Clinton, with her disciplined professionalism, and Trump, with his increasingly frenzied assertions of male prerogative. Like the female protagonist of a quest narrative — or, perhaps, of a dystopian fantasy — Clinton has made it through all her challenges to face the bull-headed Minotaur of sexism at the end of the maze.

Beautiful dead sunflower on a bench on a sunny day…


…at a ‘thesdan pumpkin patch.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm LOVES Matt Taibbi, and Seldom Finds Anything to Scathe in His Writing.

[Great visual on this article, by the way.]

Keeping up with Trump revelations is exhausting. By late October, he’ll be caught whacking it outside a nunnery. There are not many places left for this thing to go that don’t involve kids or cannibalism. We wait, miserably, for the dong shot.


All 16 of the non-Trump entrants were dunces, religious zealots, wimps or tyrants, all equally out of touch with voters. Scott Walker was a lipless sadist who in centuries past would have worn a leather jerkin and thrown dogs off the castle walls for recreation. Marco Rubio was the young rake with debts. Jeb Bush was the last offering in a fast-diminishing hereditary line. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer.


Duped for a generation by a party that kowtowed to the wealthy while offering scraps to voters, then egged on to a doomed rebellion by a third-rate con man who wilted under pressure and was finally incinerated in a fireball of his own stupidity, people like this found themselves, in the end, represented by literally no one.

[Okay, fine, a little over the top. His images are all over the place. But worth it for “fireball of his own stupidity.”]


That was the highlight of the evening, unless you want to count Rudy Giuliani’s time onstage, with his eyes spinning and arms flailing like a man who’d come to a hospital lost-and-found in search of his medulla oblongata.


How Giuliani isn’t Trump’s running mate, no one will ever understand. Theirs is the most passionate television love story since Beavis and Butthead. Every time Trump says something nuts, Giuliani either co-signs it or outdoes him. They will probably spend the years after the election doing prostate-medicine commercials together.

[For her part, UD has predicted that, post-election, Trump (and Giuliani?) will head up America’s first Female Genital Mutilation citizens’ militia.]


10 a.m.: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

Shackled! Only in America can a man martyr himself on a cross of pussy.


Trump from the start had been playing a part, but his acting got worse and worse as time went on, until finally he couldn’t keep track: Was he supposed to be a genuine traitor to his class and the savior of the common man, or just be himself, i.e., a bellicose pervert with too much time on his hands?


Trump can’t win. Our national experiment can’t end because one aging narcissist got bored of sex and food. Not even America deserves that. But that doesn’t mean we come out ahead. We’re more divided than ever, sicker than ever, dumber than ever. And there’s no reason to think it won’t be worse the next time.

“Take a look, you take a look. Look at how ugly and disgusting New York looked after 9/11, you tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

Donald Trump explains why he didn’t, after all, give a $10,000 donation to a 9/11 fund.

Some nice writing, as a Utah newspaper asks Trump to resign from the campaign.

Update: Thanks to a reader, I’ve taken a second look at this writing. I think I liked the content so much that I overlooked some pretty obvious problems. Here’s the excerpt:

When choosing the ostensible leader of the free world, the American electorate requires the clear assurance that their chosen candidate will consistently put the well-being of others ahead of his or her own personal gratification. The most recent revelations of Trump’s lewdness disturb us not only because of his vulgar objectification of women, but also because they poignantly confirm Trump’s inability to self-govern.

What oozes from this audio is evil. We hear a married man give smooth, smug and self-congratulatory permission to his intense impulses, allowing them to outweigh the most modest sense of decency, fidelity and commitment. And although it speaks volumes about sexual morality, it goes to the heart of all ethical behavior. Trump’s banter belies a willingness to use and discard other human beings at will. That characteristic is the essence of a despot.

Okay, let me first say that given the historic importance of this editorial, the Deseret News should have done a far better job of writing this thing.

Start with ostensible. That word means apparently the case, but not necessarily. The American president is indeed known to many as the leader of the free world, so this can’t be what the paper intended. The word next would have worked nicely; person considered the leader of the free world would have been awkward but okay. But ostensible is simply wrong.

In general, the writing is wordy. Consider:

… the American electorate requires the clear [drop the clear] assurance that their chosen candidate will consistently put the well-being of others ahead of his or her own [drop his or her own] personal gratification. The most recent revelations of Trump’s lewdness disturb us not only because of his vulgar objectification of women, but also because they poignantly confirm Trump’s inability to self-govern. [Poignantly, like ostensibly, is simply not what the writers intended. The word suggests heart-rending, moving… That’s all wrong here. I think the writers were going for sharply or acutely or something like that.]

The next sentence is great: What oozes from this audio is evil. Listen to it and you can hear why. First, it’s short – not wordy. Second, it ends on its most important word: evil. Third, it’s poetic: oozes, audio, evil. Three words beginning on a vowel in a short sentence give the thing a lilt as well as a punch. And finally, oozes somehow conveys the deeply sordid nature of these gradually emerging revelations. See James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

His sins trickled from his lips, one by one, trickled in shameful drops from his soul festering and oozing like a sore, a squalid stream of vice. The last sins oozed forth, sluggish, filthy.

One last point: The writers misuse, in the last sentence, the word belie. They mean to say reveal, while belie means to show something to be false.

Election getting…

snatched away.

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