All the News that Fits the Puzzle

Spoiler promise: Stay to the end and you will see animated puzzle-creating.

Corruption, Politics, Talking Heads. Not much has changed. Kajmeister photo of Birthday Puzzle.

It is perhaps a personality flaw of mine to analyze Everything, even gifts. On my recent birthday, I received a puzzle based on The New York Times headlines on the day I was born a few decades back. (rhymes with -ixty). Of course, it got me to thinking about so many things.

The world, at first, in pieces. Kajmeister photo.

I decided to do the puzzle without looking at the cover, so it was first a jumble of pieces. But this became a fun analytical exercise on several fronts: first separating light from dark, secondly finding meaning in all these letters, and thirdly evaluating what made news in those days. Letting the meaning rise from the ashes, so to speak. As to the last part and what made the news of yesteryear? plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as the saying goes. Things haven’t changed that much.

All you need to see is a headline like “Theobald says Brooklyn class built his boat…” to know that someone is in trouble. I don’t know who Theobald was, but I suspect the Brooklyn class was not supposed to build his boat. It seems odd that such provincial issues for New Yorkers are treated side-by-side with international incidents. But that’s the NYT for you. And they wouldn’t have known–at the time–which of these issues were nitpicking and which would escalate into years of grief. We know now.

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Thanks for the Pride Reminder

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

So much irony! They came in matching shirts and hats. They brought special effects to liven up their display. They came from far around to gather and display their pride–they brought trucks, to pull floats perhaps? There was a U-Haul, which is ironic given that old LGBTQ U-Haul joke… They even wore bandanas! I’ll bet they played music on the road… what kind of music do you play, when you’re a white supremacist traveling to Idaho from Texas? Is there Neo Nazi death metal country western?

There was a second group, too, that chose this Pride month, this month that marks a history to commemorate a riot. The original spark for June to be Pride month was the Stonewall riot in June of 1969, when a group of spunky drag queens (that’s probably redundant) stood up to the cops and decided not to put up with the abuse any more. How ironic that this new group of Proud Boys chose to be disruptive! Although instead of standing up to oppression this time they decided to be oppressive–to harass a bunch of little kids at a library story hour.

Land of the Free and the Home of the Chickensh*t

You’ve probably read by now about the U-Haul full of good ol’ boys that drove up to Idaho. This group, which called itself the Patriot Front, wore matching outfits and had apparently come from eleven different states. Their aim was to disrupt a Pride in the Park event in the booming metropolis of Coeur d’Alene.

I kind of want to see them do the can can, in those matching outfits. Photo of the Patriot Front from CNN.

Have you ever been to Coeur d’Alene? It’s a town of 50,000 people, which is to say slightly larger than my little northern California village, Castro Valley. Three freeway stops and a Petco. Coeur d’Alene does happen to be the only population center across a large rural area. So it’s probably the “big city” to the locals.

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Wasn’t It Only Yesterday?

The now nearly invisible Harry Potter. Photo from Warner Bros.

I recently came across a headline that gave me the frowns. It was a week or so ago, but in the midst of my “why don’t people get their history correct” rant, Part One. So consider this Part Two. The caption was:

Why so much Obama-era pop culture feels so cringe now: How Hamilton, Parks and Recreation, and Harry Potter lost cultural cachet.

Constance Grady, Vox.com

Much of this is a calculated irritant. The headline was recommended by a browser algorithm that is the technological equivalent of supermarket tabloid stands. It’s designed to be a wet fish slap. Obama somehow seems to share in the blame. At least in the supermarket, you can also contemplate the Snickers bars. On the Internet, it’s just you and this headline and the other stories cum ads about the “Last Bed/Pizza-Kit/Migraine Remedy You’ll Every Buy.”

It’s clickbait. It’s written by people whose profession is to tell you what to think and how to live. Those folks in the ancient days were the rule-making priests, then the culture-stamping bosses; now they are self-appointed influencers. (I was going to add barely-known bloggers, but then I’m a barely-known blogger, so never mind).

We all shouldn’t care so much. And yet…so many questions spring to mind.

Who decided Hamilton, Harry Potter, and Parks and Rec are completely out of favor? Who decided these were Popular in the first place? How is Harry Potter even “Obama-era,” when all of the book were published before Obama? I dispute the premise, and I dispute the facts. And it’s worth spending a few minutes on this because we should not stir together opinions about politics, art, and facts as if they are interchangeable. When we do that, it becomes much easier to dismiss videos from January 6th as “that’s your opinion.”

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