R. Kelly fails to impress the Fray.

R. Kelly fails to impress the Fray.

R. Kelly fails to impress the Fray.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
July 22 2005 3:28 PM

Did You Ever Stink

R. Kelly fails to impress the Fray.

Bald Tony Applies to Pitchforkmedia.com: In the words of Rex Barney, "give that fan a contract":

I think criticism is an art form itself. And I guess if I were an aspiring twenty-something writer I'd have to face the fact that my subject matter is going to be the current crop of "artists" such as R. Kelly. And I'd do my best to deliver the most compelling piece of music criticism I could. But, in reality, if having the "courage" to spew forth the unedited contents of one's head is the measure of an artist.....well I don't know what.

R Kelly wrote:

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky

He belongs in jail for that, if for no other reason.

For more from BaldTony on the relative virtue of perversity in pop, go here.

Top of the Ninth: The forgotten sister of the Bill of Rights is the topic of discussion here between Jack_Baltimore (natural rights advocate) and TheRanger (textualist). This has been a recurring theme on the Fray this week, not surprising given the SCOTUS nomination. HLS2003 has done some related work on the topic here and here.

Department of Strange Bedfellows: This just doesn't get articulated enough in American Jewish circles. Those who should have the most circumspect view of history have committed themselves to a program of political myopia, and rarely bother to ask themselves the most obvious of questions — what happens when the agenda of Jews and evangelicals diverge completely? Read Dilan_Esper hereKA12:20 p.m.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Who the Hell is Rachael Ray and Why is She Flooding My Boards? One of the qualifications of Fray Editor—aside from being functionally bipolar—is that he be a generalist. And Fray Editor feels comfortable that he knows a little bit about a lot of things.

So, it always comes as some surprise when more than a dozen pages of posts are composed on a topic completely foreign to Fray Editor—say, the mating habits of sea otters or Rachael friggin' Ray.

Most are rabid defenders of Ray's populist approach to cooking—moms with busy households who have neither the time nor resources to prepare an herb-encrusted sea bass over salsify and lentils. Morgstress "loves food, but [hates] foodies" and impales Slate pro Sara Dickerman with a meat tenderizer:

It must be a hard life, being supported in all of your extravagant snobbery. Most freelance writers are glad to scrape by, yet you denounce Rachel Ray for eating out "on the cheap"? Who are you, and what planet do you come from?

Not everyone has the same advantages as you. We don't all get to pursue our hobbies and write an article when we feel like it and call it a career. Most of America is eking out a living on much less than $40 a day, and Rachel addresses our issues. Food for the rest of us.

Man, I'm not even a "hausfrau" and I'm pissed. Come down from your ivory tower and work at a real job for a few 50 hour weeks and see if you feel like going home and scrubbing scallops!

For the rest of America, we may watch and dream about making the latest lobster saffron creation from the Iron Chef, but when it comes time to cook, we're flipping to Rachel Ray.

Then there's Chef donuts4everyone's curious piece of triangulation vis-à-vis both food writers and Ray:

I am a professional chef and have been slugging it out in kitchens for 25 years. If you idiot food writers think that some immature TV "chef" is a savior, I truly feel sorry for you. Part of the Culinarian's Code is to cultivate the talents in ones subordinates. Arrogance has no place in the kitchen. Let me tell you all something, IT'S JUST COOKING! I get so tired of these so-called foodies criticizing people in order to make themselves look "elite", when they've never spent the first day on a hot line. And as far as Rachel Ray goes, I am delighted that, in this age of anorexia and bulimia, A beautifully well proportioned woman is not ashamed to eat and cook. No, she not a chef, nor is Nigella, Emeril or the great Julia. But, she is a woman that likes food. And as a man who has EARNED the right to critique, she is fine with me. And all you writers, stick your truffles where the sun don't shine.

Rachael Ray: cook, but not chef? Join the buffet line hereKA11:20 a.m.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Apply Within: Fray Editor's perceived biases aside, I've been begging for the better part of two years for more conservatives in the Fray. Gregor_Samsa makes a formal entreaty for BOTF:

One of the things about BOTF I find lamentable is the acute shortage of intelligent, articulate conservative posters…

This is not good for BOTF. This is not good for America. In the final analysis, this is not good for mankind (because the world looks up to America for guidance, and America looks up to BOTF for the same). As a liberal, you must appreciate the value of diversity in everything, foremost in the field of ideas…

So, rising above partisan politics, let me propose a solution. Let's create a spot for a Guest Conservative column. Each week, one towering liberal figure fights it out for the other side, defending the conservative ideas of the day against the merciless onslaught of logic and evidence. Why the President should bomb Monaco, why returning to barter should keep inflation in check, why Laura Bush is just the right choice for the SCOTUS, and so on. I don't think it's fair to burden any thinking person with this for more than a week, so it should be a voluntary service and done by rotation.

So, any volunteers for next week?

What about this guy?

Noah's Lark: One man's porn is another man's bedtime story, or so say MatthewGarth and omnibus1. While Tim Noah lambastes Steven Spielberg for appropriating September 11 imagery in War of the Worlds, users in Chatterbox Fray compose that ubiquitous "doth protest" top post in response. In the case of omnibus1, who has a nifty sense of the performative, she's excused:

Noah wasn't offended by Schindler's List, but David Mamet said it was exploitation. David-fucking-Mamet.

I wonder what the Chicago monosyllabist is saying about War of the Worlds. Maybe the guy who fictionalized Kosovo in Wag the Dog is enjoying a send-up of 9/11. You never can tell.

After all, whoever staged it, 9/11 was intended to be theatre. And so a filmmaker (inside of many of them there is a Hamlet) stages a disaster which bears a shocking resemblance to it. But he wears it with a difference.

9/11 was used to take us to Iraq. 9/11 was obscenely exploitational. Like the death of Hamlet's father it was used both by domestic exploiters and the foreign enemy.

If someone wants to pull apart the wool over our eyes and give us a fresh perspective, what's wrong with that?

I would think that Mamet would feel Spielberg had improved his art since Schindler's List, by making it more fictional.

MG feels that Spielberg has an ulterior motive:

Tim Noah is guilty of underestimating Spielberg in the same way most critics underestimate most bad movies. Figuring out that Spielberg is being exploitative is where the thinking starts, not the point at which you go into condemnatory mode. So allow me to guess: Spielberg wants to aestheticize, exploit, and otherwise betray the memories of the experience of 9/11 so that we will get over it.

Now, this is not something you can say to Entertainment Weekly. It may not even be something you can say to yourself. But deep in his conflicted heart, where the big bad dad, the Grerat Santini of the unconscious, can be redeemed, even emulated, Spielberg wants to grab us by the shoulders and say "Enough! Grow up, sissy boy!" You can still dislike the guy (dad, Spielberg, Tom Cruise, David Koepp), but at least you'll respect him.

Getting over 9/11 while we're still at war in reaction to it? Never let it be said that Spielberg was behind the curve.

And kygirl93-2 lights a spark when she huffs, "We don't own that imagery, it does not belong to 9/11 and using it for effect in a movie shouldn't make us think that Spielberg was giving an elbow to the gut of all of us."

A Liberal is a Conservative Who's Been Groped: Stick around this place long enough, and you'll read everything, including the case for affirmative action by conservative stalwart Ele_KA 6:05 p.m.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Coulda Been Worse: That's the consensus among Democrats on the Fray. Juris-Frayster JohnLex7 handicaps Roberts against the field:

Oh, there are lots and lots of people who would have been way worse than Roberts in this position. Brown and Owen for starters. Could he have done better? Sure. Prado would have been better. Sotomayor would have been better. Clement was probably the female version of Roberts, without the government lawyering experience, but with private practice experience. I think that it is interesting that Bush chose to nominate a Roman Catholic, given that Catholics flocked to the Republican Party in huge numbers in the last election. I thought that evangelicals hated Catholicism though, and thought that Catholics were all going to hell because of "idol worship" and stuff like that. Guess that stuff all goes by the wayside when you are trying to be Caesar, rather than just giving him what is his. Bush made a play to solidify his base of rich white men by nominating one, while also solidifying his newly found Roman Catholic friends. Whether this nomination pisses off Hispanics, women and the religious right remains to be seen.

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TychoBrahe goes Russ Feingold:

Based upon Bush's track record of nominating fire-breathing wingnuts to important judicial posts, Roberts' nomination is surprisingly tame. Not that I favor Roberts or any other conceivable Bush choice. However, the president has the right to pick whom he wants, which is one of the reasons I believe that the Bush election and re-election were unmitigated disasters…

BTC says that "Fred Thompson was robbed":

He had it all: the voice, the controlled but impatient gestures, the law degree, advocate for state control of uteri, never met a spotted owl he didn't want to eat ... Plus it would have got him off Law & Order, which I think everyone could have gotten together behind. Another missed opportunity to unite the country.

And now the poor guy has to work under future White House chief of staff Ed Gillespie to get Roberts through the Senate, not that that'll be much of a challenge.

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HLS2003 and BTC initiate the long-form thread on whether the judiciary can be both efficacious and political. Here's HLS:

I'd rather avoid seeing the judiciary politicized, but perhaps it's inevitable. However, I take umbrage at efforts -- by both sides of the aisle -- to simultaneously make the judiciary political, and decry their opponents for opposing (or nominating) "overtly political" candidates. That's the sort of bullshit -- trading on the residual public trust -- that the public hates about politics. So it's no wonder that the public's residual trust in the Courts erodes away more and more.

BTC responds:

It isn't as though judicial appointments, or even the nature of the judiciary and the Supreme Court, were ever free of politics, and Karl Rove has gotten at least two state Supreme Court justices elected. Can't get much more political than an elected judge.

That aside, don't you think there's such a thing as a mainstream in judicial thinking? And doesn't that tend to change over time? What strikes me as poisonous are political attacks on the independence of the judiciary, a la DeLay and Cornyn, not the application of politics to selecting federal court judges.

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And JohnLex's Jurisprudence post, "At least he didn't nominate an idiot," is hereKA 10:05 p.m. Monday, July 18, 2005

Whatever Floats Your Boat: Michael Crowley attracted a number of card-carrying Scientologists to the Assessment board with his piece on the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard

And they're not happy. 

I have seen myriad successful applications of Scientology in helping others to enjoy higher levels of happiness and understanding. Technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard has been used extensively and successfully in education, drug rehab, business and the prison systems…

 In a world gone mad with terrorists attacking thousands of innocents, with the number of inmates in the prison systems rocketing, with the number of adults and children dependent on chemical solutions multiplying at alarming rates, with children graduating from school unable to effectively read or write, one would think that a journalist with any real interest in truth would research his subject thoroughly, which would include, in this case, an analysis of L. Ron Hubbard's contributions to the fields of religion, education, business and health.

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And, proving that you can root for both L. Ron and Roy Tarpley, mavsfan8 lashes out at Crowley:

To portray the evolution of Dianetics to Scientology as though Hubbard was sitting around saying, "Gee, what am I going to do now", again shows a complete lack of research into what was occurring during those years. In fact, Hubbard was continuously engaged in writing books and lecturing over that period. These materials, if you took the time to review ANY of them, would show the gradual shift of focus from the human mind, to the nature of human spirituality.

The interesting story here is not how colossally whacko Scientologists are or aren't, but rather who decides where we place the threshold of nuttiness. Here'sArkady:

I have no problem with the media bashing L. Ron Hubbard and the absurdities of Scientology. What I have a problem with is this double standard in the media whereby L. Ron Hubbard is the only major religious founder it's OK to bash in polite company, and whereby we're all supposed to pretend Scientology is the only religion built on a pack of absurdities.

Are L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology any weirder than Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

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Oh, it gets better. Arkady leaves no rolling stone unturned, as it were—taking out the holy trinity, the exodus from Egypt, and Buddhist conceptions of reincarnations in his path to self-actualization. But his point is well taken. Should spiritual authority and membership in the unofficial Council o' World Religions be derived from sheer numbers? You decide here.

You Might Be a Presidential Candidate If: … you're decoding video games in search of surreptitiously hidden booty. Apparently, users of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas can solicit sex from street prostitutes by asking them for a "hot cup of coffee," a feature unadvertised by the game designers.  

Who knew that joe yielded ho? Certainly not Fray Editor. When he asked the good fellas at the Echo Park 7-11 for a hot cup of coffee, Fray Editor was merely directed to the self-service nook. Though he found no prostitutes, Fray Editor was able to pawn about half a dozen flavored half-and-halves for the ride home. 

From the Washington Post piece:

In March, Clinton delivered a speech to the Kaiser Family Foundation in which she called media sex and violence "a silent epidemic" among children, and sought federal research into how exposure to such graphic content affects young minds.

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Unfortunately, it's those unsilent epidemics that'll kill ya.

Apparently, Hillary has decided to space out her Sister Souljah moments over time. But then again, this is obviously a winning issue; I mean, nobody has ever lost with Joe Lieberman by his sideKA8:50 a.m.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

This is how a  Mixing Desk Fray post is supposed to read:

If emo's central theme is society's unwillingness to let sensitive males be as sensitive as they want to be, then I guess heavy metal's central theme must be society's unwillingness to let dudes like Glenn Danzig and Kerry King kick the crap out of emo dudes whenever they start to cry.

Why don't you dicks ever review real music, like fuckin' Mastodon?

Respond to matt666 here. While we're on the subject, stephenwo offers a curious generational interpretation of emo hereKA 5:45 p.m. 

Certainly one of the Fray's better pissing wars during my tenure:

(In chronological order)

Thrasymachus, "The Truth About Rove"
locdog, "two words: preview post"
Thrasymachus, "Four Letters"
locdog, "i'm meeellllllllting meeellllllting ooohhhhh"
Thrasymachus, "Well, Now You've Gone And Done It. . ."
locdog, "thrasymachus head on a pike"
Thrasymachus, "Locdog's Cruccifixion: Stations of the Cross"

Fray Editor has little tolerance for petty flame wars, but this ain't the J.V. squad. Grab yourself a beer and a chair from the kitchen table … KA4:50 p.m.