Hotsy Totsy members: Juliet Clark - Ray Davis - Anselm Dovetonsils - Christina La Sala
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The Hotsy Totsy Club

1999-07-30. . . Cholly Kokonino reporting

"I only eat solid foods," Tom said overweeningly: I always wondered how my favorite cartoonmaker, Robert Clampett, got his gags past the censors. For Baby Bottleneck's painful confrontation betwen mama pig and suckling alligator, it turns out that he relied on the bait-and-switch tactic favored by live-action directors of the time:
  1. Original punchline had mama pig screaming "DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL!"
  2. Punchline was duly excised.
  3. Rest of scene squeaked through.

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There Must Be a Folksy Way of Putting It Dept.:

Although we fill this box right up, our product may settle in time.
-- on breakfast cereal from Nature's Path Foods Inc.

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Juliet Clark writes:

Speaking of film noir: when somebody at the movie site where I used to work suggested doing a special item on Pam Grier, the 23-year-old Minnesota-born Swedish-American who was the company's most favored "content provider" sprung out of his slouch and cried, "Lemme do it! I AM Blaxploitation!!"
And in a way I suppose he is....

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Twentieth Century Ooze: Like any smart science fiction writer, Bernard Wolfe, author of cult-novel Limbo ("I think it is a masterpiece" -- David Pringle, Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels), knew that he was describing the present, not the future: "I am writing... in the guise of 1990 because it would take decades for a year like 1950 to be milked of its implications." Mind-control was a global preoccupation in the novel's birthyear, and so Limbo plays as many variations on lobotomy as Philip K. Dick on hallucinogenic drugs or Rudy Rucker on fatuous preening.

Equally accurate but not quite so self-aware is Wolfe's depiction of sexual attitudes among the educated and heterosexual. In a central episode of the book, the hero undergoes the indignity of having a women straddle him ("only a frigid woman would have to make such an issue of the top billing.... the most difficult of positions, a man-deposing position which for most women would exclude the possibility of any real orgasm at all -- a full vaginal one, not a pale clitoridean substitute") followed by the further indignity of her autonomous movement ("he did not relish that part of him which could be aroused in this passive way.... beholden to no man for her triumph, involved with her partner only insofar as she had momentarily borrowed him as a necessary prop....") and, worst of all, mutual satisfaction ("The most frustrating and humiliating erotic moment of his life, he thought with a grimace.").

And what a waste of time! "You had a full experience, sure, but it took you a hell of a long time to arrive at it: well over thirty minutes, I'd say, whereas the average normal coitus lasts for only a few minutes. And like all women who achieve satisfaction only with great difficulty, and only under special aggressive circumstances and only after prolonged tension and anxiety, you were determined to be the pace-setter. That's quite characteristic of frigid women too -- the men's mechanism must be only a passive reflex of theirs. You'll find this hard to believe, but the normal state of affairs is quite the other way around.... With a kind of warm melting you don't know anything about."

To prove his point, he rapes her. In the proper missionary position.

But she even manages to screw that up! "It was not, although it had started out to be, the genuine full reaction of the wholly yielding, wholly warm woman -- she, or her ornery unconscious, had executed a diversion to defeat him at the last moment, at the price of her own full satisfaction."

If all of the women he meets are either openly frigid or covertly frigid, how can he talk so confidently about "normal" women? Ah, the age-old problem for male pontificators, solved in the age-old way with the invention of a fantasy: the perfectly yielding Gauguinesque island girl, Ooda. Good old puddin'-headed Ooda. Nothing like his first wife....

Much more straightforwardly instructive than work by such old prevaricators as Norman Mailer, Limbo is highly recommended to postfeminists, Lacanians, and the nostalgic.

And only a quarter-century after Limbo's publication, noted heterosexual intellectual male Woody Allen was ready to debunk the two orgasm theory, although, naturally, he had it mouthed by a silly-billy blonde bimbo rather than by a heterosexual intellectual male.

. . . 1999-08-04

D.A.R.E. to fund useless PR programs!

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A long survey of recent celebrity stalkings has been added to the Web's own encyclopedia of crime, including a note on recent legislation that "makes it a federal crime to cross state lines with the intent of harassing someone." Bon chance, Michael Moore!

In related news, reports at the last Kokonino shareholders' meeting indicate that our Tuesday Weld neighborhood still receives more than ten times as much traffic as the Vertigo or Samuel R. Delany pages.

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It's humped and scarred and disgustingly hirsute
Hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's back.

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The mass-media reaction to meaningless blips like JFKJ's crash reminds me of Daffy Duck's travelling phrenologist: "I will now analythe the thignificanth of thith event. Hmm. No thignificanth? We make thome!" Whappata-whappata-whappata. But the cultural and legal outcomes of such thignificanth-orgies as Columbine and Klaas force me to recognize an all-too-breakable skull beneath Elmer's shiny scalp....

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How Programmers Stole the Web: Tog's favorite example of Web-programmer parochialism is JavaScript -- which has its share of problems, but which is, after all, for programming. My favorite example is the use of six-digit base-sixteen numbers to specify color. Have you ever tried to explain this to visual designers? (I have, god help me.) For that matter, have you ever seen a programmer's idea of visual design? (We all have, god help us.) Didn't any Netscape employee ever even use a graphics application, where 0-255 and 0-100% are the standard color-value scales?

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Supperly Mobile: I come from peasant stock. The kind that makes good soup.

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Hey Hey in the Hays Office: Sex, (Christian) blasphemy, and violence were explicit targets of the written Production Code, and they make great marketing for pre-Code film festivals. But the individuals responsible for implementing the Production Code also took care to safeguard such American family values as racism and antisemitism.

On The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, 1939

The original plan was to show Astaire and Rogers accompanied by black musicians, to represent the orchestras of Jim Europe and others who often worked with the Castles. The idea was scrapped, however, when Hollywood's censorship office gratuitously pointed out to RKO that this would "give serious offense to audiences throughout the sourthern part of the United States... and your studio is likely to be deluged with protests." A similar admonition was wired from RKO's New York office: ".... strongly advise use of white men. No one remembers or cares which they used and we should not take chance with colored."
-- John Mueller, Astaire Dancing
On Three Comrades, 1938
... many changes between the original script and the final one were requested by the Hays Office before approval was granted.... no use of the Nazi emblem or mention of specific German leaders were to be used; a scene in which a bookburning takes place had to be removed; a "We are Jews" speech delivered by the character Dr. Becker was to be deleted; some additional lines of dialogue, situations and character names concerning Jews were to be deleted.... Additionally, suggestions were made to change the setting of the film from the 1930s to two or three years after the end of World War I. According to a 27 Jan 1938 letter sent to Louis B. Mayer by Joseph I. Breen, PCA director, the Hays Office suggested, "It might be better to make the Communists the 'Heavies'... do not indicate by emblem or uniforms that the period is other than following the war." Another suggestion offered by Breen was to delete a reference to Felix Mendelssohn.
-- The American Film Institute Catalog, Feature Films, 1931-1940
Much of the crew from Three Comrades reassembled two years later to make The Mortal Storm, which was able to attack the Nazis openly -- albeit with a blanket substitution of the term "non-Aryan" for "Jewish."

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Amazon stretchmarks: If you decide to check out The Complete Films of Buster Keaton, you'll receive a specially tailored message that

Our auction sellers recommend:
The scary thing is they were able to figure out that I wear a 42D....

. . . 1999-08-07

My Malaysia; Dr. Mohamad's Air.

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"Life goes on." Whoever said that had a surprise coming.

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It's got its good paragraphs, but E. E. Cummings's allegorical reading of Krazy Kat -- with Kat as democracy caught between Mouse-anarchy and Pupp-fascism -- has always rubbed me the wrong way.

For starters, Cummings refers to Krazy as "she" throughout, whereas the strip used "he" much more often. (Bowing to public pressure, Herriman experimented with unequivocal she-ness once, but decided it just didn't suit that dear kat.) Following a natural train of thought, Ignatz's rage could be better described as homophobic than as anarchistic: he hates Krazy not because Krazy is a symbol of authority, or repression, or respectability, or even stability, but because Krazy is eccentric, flamboyant, unaggressive, affectionate, and a little kwee.

For the main course, any historically-dependent reading misses Herriman's achievement: a complete universe grown from one necessarily inexplicable but endlessly fecund triangle. Jonathan Lethem came closer to the mark in his story, "Five Fucks," where the triangle is a mysteriously universal solvent; even Lethem took the easier way out, though, in making the triangle violently entropic rather than pleasurably generative.

As Herriman demonstrated in later strips ("A mouse without a brick? How futile."), Coconino's reality depends on support from each point of the triangle; as he demonstrated throughout the strip's three decades, the triangle supports an infinite unfolding of reality. Lacking that central mystery, other comics, no matter how minimalist or how beautifully drawn, seem artificial and puffy by comparison.

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Must See News: What did Walt Kelly use to draw Pogo?

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Undercover girl reporter Constance Kandle joins the club with the first installment of her investigative series, the Nonprofit Chronicles, featuring Bossy the Clown:

Here Comes Bossy

Bossy's Day
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9:45 Arrive at the office

9:45-10:05 Call Dad to thank him for the credit card bailout, complain a little about the struggle of working "40 plus hours per week," and promise that his money really will go to pay off debts

10:05-10:10 Talk to personnel manager about candidates for director of the institution, "even though my opinion doesn't count for much around here anyway." Express concern about "the first guy," who seemed nice but used "embarrassingly low-resolution" digital images in his presentation to staff: "We're arts professionals! He should have known better than that!"

10:10-10-12 Leave phone messages for friends on the East Coast

10:12-10:15 Read email

10:15-10:35 Call a friend to discuss the breakup of her marriage

10:35-10:40 Tell Constance about breakup of friend's marriage and difficulty of being a shoulder to cry on

10:40-10:45 Cigarette break

10:45-10:50 Call back friend on East Coast who called during cigarette break; tell her too busy to talk

10:50 Leave for an optometrist appointment, after asking Constance to make sure to be around at 1:00 to open the research center (it's Bossy's day to sit at the desk) in case nobody else can get back from lunch in time

... an' anotha thing ...... then again ...

Copyright to contributed work and quoted correspondence remains with the original authors.
All other material: Copyright 1999 Ray Davis.