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Film Review—The Graduate

“Matthew Arnold set up three criteria for criticism: 1. What is the writer trying to do? 2. How well does he succeed in doing it? (…) 3. Does the work exhibit “high seriousness”? That is, does it touch on basic issues of good and evil, life and death and the human condition.” —William S. Burroughs, from A Review of the Reviewers

Let’s have a look. Number One on the list—what were the minds behind The Graduate attempting to accomplish? I believe the main objective was to constantly play Simon and Garfunkel songs while Dustin Hoffman stares at stuff, and also provide a set-up for the church scene in Wayne’s World 2.

Number Two—did they succeed? Well, the whole movie centers around Dustin Hoffman, staring at various things while Simon and Garfunkel songs play. They succeeded in that goal. The Wayne’s World 2 church scene also makes a whole lot more sense to me now. Success there as well.

Number Three—did the work touch on good/evil, the human condition, etc.? Yes, opposing forces meet, mingle, and ultimately clash. The themes and symbolism present in Hoffman’s erotic hotel rendezvous’ with the older woman which then segue into a relationship with that woman’s daughter are relatable, and could even be said to be archetypes present in Jung’s collective unconscious. And, finally—being honored with a parody by Mike Myers is a hallmark of “high seriousness.”

Going by these criteria, the movie appears to be flawless. By my criteria, it appeared to suck.

 

 

I Get The One Subway Sandwich “Artist” Who Was Influenced By The Minimalist Movement

It’s my own fault, really. I wasn’t paying attention when my sandwich was being made right in front of me.

I got home, bit into the sub. It made a whooshing fart sound, then deflated. I opened it up. The general layout was an embarrassment. The few ingredients in the sandwich were concentrated in the middle. A few pickles, a light splattering of black olives, a couple of tomatoes. Even the cheese had somehow withdrawn and puckered. A total of two pieces of green pepper were visible.

I’ve never had a Subway Sandwich Artist drop this kind of bomb on me before.

I would have gladly eaten a sub prepared by a Dadaist or Surrealist Sandwich Artist, if it would have gotten me more than four banana peppers. The sandwich I crave needs someone, maybe and Expressionist or Impressionist, who isn’t afraid to bombard the sub with rich, girthy, experimental swaths of ingredients, and more than one pass with the mustard bottle. But a Minimalist? I love a diversity of styles, but Minimalism has no place in Subway.

This sandwich artist was clearly rejecting the bombastic array of rich textures and colors before her in some sort of sick rebellion against the norms of conventional Subway Sandwich Art. I wanted a sandwich that would make me feel like this:

The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1893

But got this:

Black Square, by Kazimir Malevich, 1915

Next time I go to Subway, I will be asking the potential Sandwich Artist to display a catalogue of previous works, as well as a list of creative influences.

Product Review: Lay’s Chicken & Waffle Potato Chips

“Short of examining the entire history of each individual participating, short of anatomizing each soul, what hope has anyone of understanding a Situation?” —Thomas Pynchon, from the novel V.

So, what is the situation here? We have chicken. We have waffles. From what I’ve heard, the combination is wildly popular in the deep American South. Then we have a potato chip company, trying to fuse the two into a flat, crunchy, wafer-like substance.

We’ll start at the beginning—what do we know about chickens? They taste good, especially when cooked and slathered in any variety of sauces—teriyaki, barbecue, sweet & sour, the list goes on—but what business do they have canoodling with potato chips?

And the waffle—a doughy member of the cake family, commonly stamped with a gridded pattern of craters that house syrup, butter, and any other condiment desired by the diner.

Then comes Lay’s, a potato chip manufacturer with origins in the American state of Ohio. Of what interest is a soul food classic to a corporate giant? All signs point to something vile, sinister, and altogether dastardly that will probably in one way or another screw over immigrants or the lower class.

Prelude to the taste test: I properly cleansed my palate—three saltines, washed down with a glass of water. Room temperature, lingering between 69 and 70 degrees, Farenheit. Optimal for ingestion, and its successor, digestion. Comfortable seat. Napkins. Hands washed. Heart at resting rate. Other vital signs—appeared to be normal.

Presentation: The chips had a very light tannish-orange color to them. They didn’t differ in basic appearance from any other potato-based crisp product I have ever consumed. I briefly thought, in a flight of whimsy, that it would be pleasantly delightful if Lay’s had invested in the research and development necessary to produce a waffle-like grid pattern on each individual chip. Then my mind came back to earth, and I chuckled at the notion of how ridiculous that would be.

Initial impression: First chip, of an ovoid shape, equal in area to four quarters, American. There was a noticeable transfer of oil onto my fingers. The crunch, nothing special. If Lay’s thinks they’re gonna come into my house with a groovy new product, believing that I’m not hip to chip culture, and then drop a lackluster crack-a-lack on me, well, then, they’ve got another thing coming. I’m not saying it was a bad crunch. It could have been better. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder, was this a sly allusion to the delicate, yet noticeable crust of an expertly-crafted waffle, or the first bite of a fried-chicken drumstick, where there is a palpable crunch, but not in an overpowering manner? If so, well-played. If not, then I give them a hearty “eh.”

Taste: I suppose I could have just said this at the beginning—the chips just taste like syrup.

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