Author Archives: Colin McEnroe

Renee Z and the Uncanny Valley: Notes for This Week’s Nose

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Frazer Harrison / Getty Images Renee Zellweger as a 27-year-old on the verge of her big break in 1996, left, and at age 45, right.

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
Renee Zellweger as a 27-year-old on the verge of her big break in 1996, left, and at age 45, right.

From Wikipedia:

The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some human observers.

Some version of the uncanny valley phenomenon is tangled up in the national freak-out this week over actress Renee Zellweger’s post-nip&tuck coming out party. Of course, the uncanny valley usually flows in the other direction — from the artificial toward the almost-natural. Cosmetic surgery can work in reverse. We almost recognize Renee. It’s so close — but also indubitably the result of manufacture — that we are unsettled by it. I have a second — otherwise undiscovered — theory about this week’s Zellwegangst. Look at this montage of photos from the Elle event. Am I imagining it or is there, in the words of Jackson Browne, “just a trace of sorrow in her eyes?” Not in every shot, but frequently enough so that we know she knows the way she’s being looked at. And it makes us uncomfortable.

These days, it’s tough to beat Russell Brand at the raw comic commentary game:

That is but one of a series of interlinked topics this week as an all-female panel convenes on the Nose. Featured are dolphin mom Irene Papoulis, Patty Mcqueen and Carolyn Paine.

Men are hard on women. Consider this idiotnik who referred to the Wiliams brothers. Women are sometimes hard on each other. Consider Annie Lennox’s possibly ill-conceived take on Beyonce. Women sometimes exploit little women to trigger an important dialogue. Consider the pink and frilly f-bomb video. (The four of us are split up the middle about it.) And even when you’re 60, 70 or 80 you might still be contemplating the fine line between “getting men off and celebrating women.”  Oh, and does Fox News really have a “leg cam?”   Hot women from outside their ideological framework, however, should not speak up.

Our panelists today. Go ahead. Objectify them. pm ip1 cap1

En Garde!

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The road to the governor’s mansion always leads through the Garde Arts Center in New London.

It’s always the rowdiest debate crowd. It can be exceptional in other ways.

Tonight’s debate was the first to include third party guy Joe Visconti, and he did shake things up a little. I’m not sure how much it matters but Visconti probably outperformed a lot of people’s expectations. It’s a measure of how horrible this campaign has been that the guy who wants to be armed to the teeth, the guy who wants lots of bullets in case he needs to shoot people, came across as far more likable than either of his opponents.

And Visconti had some genuinely good moments, especially when talking about the state budget. He’s not honey-tongued, has a little trouble getting the subject, verb and object lined up, but he makes sense anyway.

The climate change conversation, induced by a question from my colleague Harriet Jones, was probably the headline moment. Visconti was a little hard to follow: there’s a problem, might be a mini Ice Age, human activity is part of the cause but not the human activity you think (then what, twerking?), people should read the book by this guy. Tom Foley just tanked on the question. Part of his pattern is that he often leaves you feeling you don’t know what he would do about a problem and that maybe he doesn’t either. This time he said he wasn’t sure what causes climate change but that it doesn’t matter.  Of course it does. If you don’t know the cause, how can you craft a solution? Malloy just destroyed him on this point, and Foley’s already the Roberto Duran of this debate season.

A good night for Visconti is a bad night for Foley. The numbers just work that way.

Notes for the Nose, Week of of Oct. 17

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Our Friday show, the Nose is coming near. Anti-football fella Steve Almond will join the panel for the first time, along with veterans Tracy Wu Fastenberg and James Hanley. What will we talk about? Steve just came out against high school football. But are a tiny Asian nursing mother and a gay cineaste raised in Britain the right panel for that conversation? (Actually, James has probably seen a lot of football movies. And Wu seems like she’d be pretty nifty at returning punts, if she weren’t lactating.) But maybe Steve has some stories about the current reaction to him as a creampuff enemy of America. Those we could discuss.

Photos by Chion Wolf for WNPR

Photos by Chion Wolf for WNPR

wu

Is this too petty to be on The Nose?  Martha Stewart throwing shade (I just learned that term)  on Gwyneth Paltrow? I can’t decide. It has a lot of things in it, including, yes, the preciousness of people who insist they are “consciously uncoupling” when, in fact, they are just splitting up like everybody else. And why does Martha so dislike Gwyneth? Could it be the universal truth: that we are most bothered by qualities we see in ourselves. Or, more pointedly, are we bothered when we see a younger person indulging certain qualities which, over time, we have striven to rid ourselves of?  But they still get to do it? Asking.

That’s not fair! Charlie got a fan!

Amazon must be stopped. Are you ready to go up into the hills? Wolverines!

Sorry about that. I got a little carried away.

Gamergate burst on the page one of the NYT today. It’s basically ISIS for pasty, pudgy white dudes with no dating history. Deadspin tracks its origins here. 
Oh! Speaking of pasty tech freaks, is the fashionless IT look over?

This is probably not all that talkable but I love this guy’s battle against overweening social media language. 

The Mystery of Giving

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I read this, and I think: $8 milllion for UConn soccer? Really.  Please tell me you’re also giving four million to Doctors Without Borders. Lots of people will actually go on living, instead of dying.

Of course, you can’t say that. Generosity should never be faulted. And I spend a lot of time asking people to give money to public radio, which doesn’t save lives. But you do hope people find a mix. I don’t have a lot of money to give away, but I like the seeing, at tax time, a bunch of contributions that reflect a spread of concerns.

So much major giving seems almost fetishistic. Like, really, dude? It’s great that you left $9.6 million, but did it have to be restricted to art from just one place and time? There’s so much the museum could do, with its hands untied. It could take steps to make some of the art you love a lot more relevant. It could nurture the aesthetic sensibilities of Hartford kids, who would become the kinds of people who love what you love. Dude. Please.

Do You Believe In Trendlines?

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If you do, Dan Malloy is going to win his election.

The Q Poll dropping today shows Malloy erasing the six-point lead Foley had a month ago. There’s also this week’s PPP poll that showed him with an eight-point lead . Let’s set that aside for now so we can focus on trends in the Q.

A few things jump out:

1. Foley is losing women 47 -36. 2. Foley has a ten point lead among unaffiliated voters, but it’s not enough because of the huge Democratic registration advantage. 3. Visconti’s numbers are still screwy — 9 percent of Democrats and only 6 percent of Republicans. More women than men(10-8). This trend of Visconti’s overall number being the same as his Democratic number is consistent and hard to explain. 4. Malloy continues to have the wrong kind of gap between favorable (41) and unfavorable (51). The number of statewide candidates — in any state — who win with that number has to be pretty small. But in the space of a month, Foley’s unfavorables went up 6 pts, Malloy’s, down 2

How should we interpret all this? It’s possible that Malloy ‘s bad September poll was due to what we might call “distant election fallacy.” When the election is two months away and you’re unhappy with the incumbent, you don’t have to rein in your unfocused petulance. You can say you’ll vote for the other guy. In October, it feels a little different. You really have to be able to picture yourself filling in the Foley circle. Some people are finding that hard to do.

What you’re probably seeing is Malloy winning back voters who should have been locks for him in the first place. This group may include members of his immediate family. And maybe it’s truer to say that we’re seeing Foley losing a lot of low-hanging fruit because he’s running such a dreadful campaign. He should have done well with a lot of 1990 Weicker voters, but, based on strictly anecdotal conversations, he really grosses them out.

Watch the Visconti number.  It almost has to be wrong and probably in a way that’s bad news for Foley. I can almost guarantee Visconti won’t pull 9 percent of the Democratic vote in November, and some of that number will end up in Malloy’s column.

Do you believe?

 

 

Dress Like Bill Curry. Win a Fabulous Prize.

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There’s still time to reserve a spot at our Fifth Anniversary Party.

Here’s how. 

If you’re coming, consider entering our Best Bill Curry Outfits contest.

We are prepared to award multiple prizes to people who achieve the Full Curry:  Blue blazer, blue shirt, red (or maybe blue) necktie, khaki pants, brown shoes. Points will be subtracted for originality. Here’s some inspiration.

If you can nail this obverse tie thing, it could be worth something in the scoring.

If you can nail this obverse tie thing, it could be worth something in the scoring.

bill_curry_chion

Clinton would not have won our contest

Clinton would not have won our contest

 

This looks like a suit. If so, it was undoubtedly purchased from conservative commentator Don Pesci. No kidding.

This looks like a suit. If so, it was undoubtedly purchased from conservative commentator Don Pesci. No kidding. By the way, those aren’t guys who LOOK like Gus Fring and Guido the Killer Pimp. Those are the actors in question — Giancarlo Esposito and Joey Pans. 

 

 

Dean Pagani, you are no Bill Curry. That shirt if way too fly.

Dean Pagani, you are no Bill Curry. That shirt is way too fly.