’tis the season for janklow to be annoyed with the holidays II: now with more goats

happy holidays, internet!

that’s right, your hero janklow makes personalized cards featuring robots for the holidays

i think we’ve said and done this in years past (or, at least, in 2007), but here it is: the holidays are the hottest of hot garbage and once against we find ourselves trapped in the middle of the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s-President’s Day-Valentine’s ordeal that goes on and on and on until you just wish Flanders was dead. and you know what? that’s not fair to President’s Day. Washington and Lincoln are far too cool to have to be stuck in the middle of THAT mess. so consider this your official notice of the foundation of my movement to get President’s Day moved to March 16th: James Madison’s birthday. i know, i know, the shortest president of all time (5’4″ and a whopping 100 lbs) gets no respect, and that will be corrected with this altered holiday.

but, you know, since last year this space was reserved for a very stereotypical “here’s why the holidays just make us wish we were dead” style of rant, this year, i think i’ll mix it up and come up with a list of excellent things that have happened during the holidays, specifically the Christmas-related time of the year.

Ghostface X-Mas
just in case you doubt the following commentary, well, check out track 16

“Ghostface X-Mas”
this seems like a terrible idea, but in practice, it’s the best idea of all time. we all know that the holidays are the time for musical artists to crank out shitty holiday songs, be they covers of traditional works or their own original messes. and as a fan of hip-hop, this basically leaves me a couple of options: either i can rock “Christmas In Hollis” for the 13000th time (though this being recently appropriated by that weird “Centro Claüs” campaign makes me not want to) or i can run with some ridiculous “Dipset Christmas” concept that makes the baby Jesus want to choke himself to death in the womb. these are not good choices; Kurtis Blow will always have a place in my heart because the man wrote “the Breaks,” but his Christmas material is well-aged at this point.

however, luckily for me, my musical hero Ghostface came out with a weird compilation album that, despite whatever problems it might have (track selection, mainly), features a little song called “Ghostface X-Mas” that is essentially, well, Ghostface and friends describing their holiday adventures. “them little elves gettin’ busy in Santa’s workshop” and “eggnog splashed with Hennessy” indeed! i will absolutely be listening to this song every Christmas.

a Raiders victory over Houston?
this is where i am supposed to make a joke about an Oakland Raiders victory being similar to Christmas in that it happens once a year or something like that, but you know what? that seems a little intellectually lazy. and the fact remains that they DID win a game and that there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

my sibling cracking wise during a church service
so perhaps this really only works if you’re familiar with that Christmas album John Denver made with the Muppets, but a) we both absolutely are (don’t ask why, you know, it’s like that whole Seven Brides For Seven Brothers thing) and b) it was probably bound to happen when the church busted out with “Silent Night.” now, okay, maybe it wasn’t the most appropriate time to be making jokes, but it cracked me up. it’s my holiday joke of the year! and no, i’m not going to explain it, because that would ruin it, but i will say this: it was even better than the whole thing about not abhorring virgin wombs. i know, i know, we really need to grow up over here.

and then there are the goats:

goats goats goats
Christmas goats chilling out with the PIP-Boy

like i said, maturity is in short supply around these parts. happy holidays!

mailed pink children’s underwear and other poor decisions in marketing

now while i do think i have some understanding of the concept of selling a product and/or service to a consumer that might not yet realize he NEEDS said product and/or service – after all, Dunkin’ Donuts DID totally rip off my excellent “random expository song to sell beverages” idea – i wouldn’t go so far as to claim to be any sort of expert on the matter. that being said, i know enough to know some things you should NOT do in an effort to sell me a product or service:

waking me up far too early and claiming i am not who i say i am

this is actually the story of why it’s pointless for me to have a home phone, because i never answer it. well, that’s not 100% accurate, but this part is: i refuse, REFUSE, to answer it before 10 AM. why? because our local shitty newspaper won’t stop calling me before 10 AM and claiming i’m a past subscriber that needs to renew his subscription. if i answer the phone then, i know it will be them. i could also make a case for not needing ANY phone (it seems to be designed solely for people to leave me a message on should they need me to do something for them), but that’s a little sad and, anyway, it would be digressing, and we know i NEVER do that.

the in-the-flesh telephone of your hero janklow
whether or not i actually need it, neither this phone or my schedule is your toy, telemarketers; act accordingly

now, i have no personal vendetta against that newspaper; my parents still subscribe to it and it features things like “local crime stories” and “pictures of my Irish sidekick’s pit bull terrier dressed up in ridiculous outfits” that make us laugh (or cry, whatever; for his part, that pit bull certainly seems depressed in the photo) from time to time. what i DO take issue with, though, are a couple of their policies about renewals:

01. phone calls requesting former subscribers seem to all take place between the hours of 8 AM and 10 AM. i don’t know about everyone else, but your hero janklow works a late shift and that is my sleeping time (as are the hours of 10 AM to 3 PM on the weekends);

02. when i tell the telemarketers that i am not the person that had the subscription (and apparently, my phone number has been used by 4 or 5 of these past subscribers), they at first ask if i’m sure (what the fuck, man), then presume i am another former subscriber by another name (i’m not), and then start just giving me the default sales pitch.

now, i understand the concept behind trying to sell me your paper anyway (i’m already on the phone, so hey, make the most of it, salesman), but what’s up with CONFIRMING that i’m not someone that i’ve told you i’m not? maybe i’m just sour because these are 99% of the phone calls i receive.

getting so incensed at my refusal to purchase that you yell at me over the phone

now, while i hate dealing with telemarketers because i’m not going to buy their product and, thus, know that ANY time they spend talking to me is wasted, i try not to be rude about it. they’re just doing their job, objectionable as it may seem, and there’s no percentage in being rude just to be rude. generally, after a succinct “let me save you the trouble: there’s no way i will be giving you money today,” they say “have a nice day” and end the call, and the crisis is averted. however, the key word there is “generally.”

however, on one occasion i had a heated debate with a credit card company’s telemarketer who would NOT get off the goddamn phone. he was pushing some service i could sign up for that would save me money (hah) and i wasn’t having it because those things never work, and yet he would not stop arguing this point, which eventually resulted in us having roughly the following childish exchange:

janklow: “again, i am not interested in this service.”
telemarketer: “but it will save you money! DON’T YOU WANT TO SAVE MONEY? WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO SAVE MONEY?”
telemarketer: “WELL- well, okay, fine, okay.”

Glengarry Gary Ross or something like that
i would admittedly be more sympathetic to telemarketers if i believed that they had been screamed at earlier in the day by Alec Baldwin to “always be closing,” but, sadly, i don’t

now, there are really two questions here: why would a telemarketer think that he would convince me to pay for a service by yelling at me and calling me stupid? and also, why didn’t i just hang up the phone a lot earlier on this guy? the world may never know.

that whole “pink children’s underwear” thing

okay, apologies in advance to anyone that’s heard this anecdote before; this is one of those stories i have been known to perform on command in the past (others include my various escapades with turkeys and some workplace anecdotes), so it may have gotten around already with the 2 or 3 people that actually read this website. redundancy ahoy! but if you haven’t heard this before… well, get ready to hear about the worst ad campaign of all time.

so the thing about being janklow is that i try to give money to charitable organizations on a regular basis; personally, i tend to support groups that worry about bats (which are awesome no matter WHAT Smilez says about them), firearm ownership and related rights, dogs that might or might not get killed in a pound somewhere, whatever those Salvation Army kettles support, and elephant sanctuaries. no, that’s right, i’m talking about sanctuaries that allow female former show elephants to live free and eat whatever elephants eat. this is not a joke at all; in fact, i made some totally bitter remarks about groups that deserve money less than these elephants recently that i won’t get into right now because, hey, the mood here is light and we shouldn’t ruin that. suffice to say this: elephants get the money.

ANYWAY, the catch is that some of these organizations supplement their income(s) by selling their mailing lists to a mass of random organizations, and then people like me get approximately 13000000 requests for money during the year. that’s right, VFW, i’m talking about you. this is why i will never give you any more money. because you’re the reason why i got the single worst marketing move ever mailed to my house: a manila envelope containing a letter and a pair of small, pink, little girl’s underwear. yeah.

defend Brooklyn
while the underwear that came in the mail were almost nothing like this, i have selected this “pink panties” picture for a reference that a couple of you might note

you see, some group (i believe it was the Southwest Indian Foundation, but i cannot recall for sure) decided that the best way to convince me that i needed to give them money to purchase underwear for American Indian children was to send a tiny pair of girl underwear to my house. forget that this is creepy on a couple of levels: one where the underwear could end up in the wrong hands, and another that when the guys at SWIF got together and thought “how can we raise money,” one of them immediately thought “LITTLE GIRL UNDERWEAR!” if these children need underwear so badly, why is ANY of it being mailed to me? what exactly about the sight of little underwear is suppose to motivate me to dig deep and give to this charity?

needless to say, their request was not successful. i hear they might be kind of a fake charity anyway.

also, i tried to find the original package of letter and underwear that was sent to me to quote it and take a photo of it for this update, because that would have been BEYOND ridiculous, but alas, i couldn’t find a trace of it.

“her presence, even with side-boob, is completely unnecessary,” or HILTSWAHD

now, while my joking series of capital letters there might stand for “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Hate Dexter,” at this point, i still kid, because i don’t REALLY hate Dexter – yet, anyway – but i DO have some gripes with this whole “season three” thing that’s going on right now, and because i don’t have much else to discuss (what else is new), well, it’s time we got to this as a topic. another note: that cryptic post title was liberated from remarks made about Dexter by another person, not myself, but it made me laugh and thus i simply HAD to abscond with it. and for the record, personally, i don’t find side-boob to be that wonderful or redeeming of a concept. though i guess it seems that said quote’s author might actually agree with me on that.

also, we won’t dwell on the fact that it’s been said i have similarities with the character of Dexter, what with me having to fake emotional closeness and the whole “eating junk food and staying trim regardless,” except to say that i don’t serial kill in my off-hours to keep my weight down or anything like that. sorry to disappoint. or, well, i WOULD be sorry if i could empathize with humans like that. hah! i don’t need emotions, i have Frankie Valli records that generally allow to figure out how they work. anyway, we were talking about the show?

Dexter strangling a victim, though not fatally
ah, there’s nothing like sitting back and savoring the moment as you strangle another serial killer into submission

so what the fuck is this Dexter thing we’re talking about?

well, kids, in 2004, this guy named Jeff Lindsay cranked out (or published or whatever, because i really don’t know when he first set pen to paper) a book by the name of Darkly Dreaming Dexter which, along with a LOT of alliteration, introduced us to the serial-killing character of Dexter Morgan. it was then almost immediately recreated in the form of the Showtime series Dexter in 2006, and it is this that we’re going to talk about today. basically, it’s a show about a serial killer who kills killers and who works as a blood spatter specialist in Miami. ooo… EDGY.

but seriously, who gives a fuck about a show about an “edgy” serial killer on the poor man’s HBO?

yeah, i have to admit it: despite the fact that i have been known to find serial killers an interesting topic for books and films (shout out to the Zodiac and his related books and movies), i was at first resistant to the concept of this show. this was mainly due to two things: a) the show seemed to be edgy for the sake of being edgy, which is lame, and b) the fact that Showtime is, let’s face it, not as cool as HBO. HBO gave us the Wire and the Sopranos; Showtime gives us cheaper versions in the form of Weeds or Brotherhood or whatever. i GUESS this makes Dexter the poor man’s Six Feet Under because of the Michael C. Hall connection, but i have to admit that that one’s a little weak.

anyway, i was maintaining my snobby outlook for a while until basically everyone i know convinced me to watch it; anyone that gets why the Wire is the best show of all time OR who gets why the “California Love” ending to that one zombie-themed episode of South Park is awesome can redirect my viewing of television any time. well, not ANY time; 2-4 PM is “reruns of Law & Order” time. but other times are up for grabs.

all we're missing is Doakes
oh, supporting cast of Dexter, there was a time when the only ones of you that were annoying me were the ones that were SUPPOSED to annoy me

so seasons one and two were totally fine?

surprisingly, yes, i really enjoyed them; at this point, i’m going to attribute that to Daniel Cerone, one of the show’s executive producers and the one who left after season two, because that would explain the drop-off, but we can come back to that. for seasons one and two, i think the basic concept of Dexter as a character is solid, not cheesy (what if a serial killer’s compulsion could be turned against people who deserved it?), and there’s a lot of endearing stuff about the show: Michael C. Hall does good work, which i was unaware of due to my refusal to try and watch Six Feet Under; supporting characters like Matsuka, Doakes and Debra add some color to the show without overshadowing Dexter; and villains that molest children and the like end up stabbed and dismembered. and if there’s one thing that puts a smile on America’s collective face, it’s the murder and mutilation of a child molester. plus, let’s get serious here: there’s a chainsaw murder or two in those seasons and everyone loves a good chainsaw murder.

season two got a little sketchier with some of the plot – really, there’s been a degree of repetition in both the second and third seasons, which is the kind of thing that annoys you exponentially – and Lila is a generally annoying character with a LOT of screen time, though some of that is intentional. but the show remained solid, overall, probably due to the fact that the plot still has the same reliable “will Dexter get away with all his schemes and scams” plot line.

didn’t you say this show was originally created in book form or something?

yes, it also helps that i think the show compares well with the books, a couple of which i’ve read since i began watching the show. i’m going to have to spoil them, but they introduce notions like “Dexter training his girlfriend’s children to be serial killers like him” and “Dexter might have magical powers and gets stalked by a cult.” do i have to elaborate as to why these notions are TERRIBLE? well, okay, i will.

–“Dexter training his girlfriend’s children to be serial killers”: on a more intellectual level, i think it cheapens a notion behind the character of Dexter (and his brother) in that they’re stated to have become killers because of their exposure to a horrific crime, while his girlfriend’s children haven’t seen anything on that level; on a pettier level, this is one of those things that some people think are cool, but which i don’t, like iPods. that’s right, i’m comparing the iPod to youthful serial murderers. deal with it.

–“Dexter might have magical powers and gets stalked by a cult”: the former is terrible because it ruins the dangers of being Dexter that add tension and excitement to the show. look, everyone knows Batman is better than Superman because Batman’s just a regular guy and you can kill him while Superman’s an asshole who’s basically immune to harm; that’s why he fights shitty alien adversaries and his movies suck. think of Dexter as Batman in this scenario. as for the cult thing… look, it’s just lame and it’s also tied into the supernatural magical powers thing.

the bottom line, though, is this: Lindsay’s not a great writer, but he did have a great concept (Dexter) and the show’s done a better job with his source material than he has; the only advantage of the books, as far as i can tell, are that they kill off annoying characters the show doesn’t, keep alive non-annoying characters the show doesn’t, and feature excellent characters like Dr. Danco that the show can’t.

Doakes looking displeased
speaking of things season three could use more of, Doakes seems to share my disappointment

so… season three?

yeah, so, here we are with one episode to go and i have to say this: i’m disappointed. generally, when i watch a show i like, i’ll absentmindedly leave it on in the background when it airs again, but with this season of Dexter, i actively avoid doing so. and there are many reasons:

–annoying secondary characters: okay, Matsuka’s still money, but in season three, everyone else seems to have gone downhill (and even Matsuka might be going that way). Dexter’s sister has been given an even MORE annoying love interest than in the past two seasons (which, frankly, seemed impossible) and the actress portraying her (Jennifer Carpenter) is getting worse at acting by the episode, especially evidence in a scene about trimmed trees. fellow detective Angel Batista has a stupid fucking romance going on that both a) moved WAY too fast and b) doesn’t add anything to my viewing experience beyond the taste of the small amount of vomit it makes me throw up into my mouth. there’s this new Quinn character who’s a complete default cop stereotype who ALSO seemed to have a subplot that better have something to do with the last episode because if not … well, then we wasted a lot of time on it. LaGuerta’s still trash, and the scene time they gave the Ellen Wolf character to make LaGuerta REALLY CARE ABOUT HER made me want to break stuff. i cannot think of a character who i like more than or even the same as last season.

–annoying Dexter-home-life-related characters: granted, you know i always celebrate characters that are free of libidos, but this season’s had Rita’s become too sexualized and, dare i say, “normal,” and her character has this every-episode-character-arc where she’s annoyed for no reason until Dexter does something that makes her OH SO HAPPY (moving in with her or giving her or something ELSE that didn’t matter until it mattered this week). and her kids… actually, wait, one good thing about this season is that i think we saw them once and then they got phased out. seriously, i couldn’t tell you when the last time we saw those kids was. i don’t miss them, though i guess that means that we’re at least not going to see them torturing fish or anything.

–Jimmy Smits? really?: however, the king of all the annoying secondary characters is Jimmy Smits’ new character: some people seem to legitimately like him, but if i didn’t know he was actually Hispanic, i would almost consider him to be an offensive caricature. actually, he works if you think he’s supposed to be a joke we’re all in on (he’s ridiculous), but as far as serious drama… not so much. actually, what this reminds is that i’m not sure i can think of anything i have ever enjoyed Smits doing. and THAT does make me laugh. oh, Jimmy, how your life has been a waste!

–not enough Dexter: the worst thing about all that secondary character nonsense, though, is that half the episode always seems to be about them and not Dexter. i don’t care that Angel’s seeing prostitutes and almost gets busted for it but then, wait, cleans up his act and is now romancing the vice cop that almost busted him. see how that seems to have NOTHING to do with Dexter? there’s more of that in an episode than there is “Dexter stalking and killing a a recidivist who preys on children.” seriously, if i wanted emotional and poorly-acted drama about love, i would watch Lifetime. i want to see murderers taped up and slain! granted, this seems like the same complaint i just made, but it’s more about the screen time. it’s fine for Carpenter to suck at acting when she pops in for two or three lines and leaves; it’s different when she’s on screen for way too long.

–Dexter too friendly: actually, this was not my exact contention, but hearing it voiced made me consider it as essentially valid because it ties in with my feelings on another fictional killer, Hannibal Lecter. originally, Dexter was an interesting character to follow, and we could just enjoy the ride, but season three Dexter, more than before, is a character we’re supposed to sympathize with. this is the same thing that happened with Lecter as Thomas Harris fell more in love with him – remember, Lecter is a minor character in Red Dragon who sics the serial killer of that novel (the Tooth Fairy or the Dragon or whatever) on the hero of that novel (Will Graham) who has become the hero himself by the time of Hannibal Rising. just as that made later books and films shittier, i am concerned about the same thing happening to Dexter.

so, yeah, i have some complaints. and if the plot seems redundant, true, it might always have been that way; sadly, for about three seasons now, you can boil the main plot down to “Dexter having to kill someone who came to know and empathize with his secret,” even if you think that there ARE variations on that. but this redundancy wouldn’t be as big of a deal if i could enjoy it more. since the show’s been renewed for another two seasons, we’ll see where this all goes, and maybe the season finale in a couple of days will make a big difference in my position here… but we’ll see.

next week, i might try and punch up a topic that relates to a blast from the past (think weird stuff i have received in the mail and maybe you’ll think of a topic or two there), but i’ll probably just phone it in again. this is what i do!

not buying yourself designer jeans: martyrdom for 2008

recently there has been a lot of talk about our economy and, i suppose, our financial system as a general concept; if what i hear on the streets is any indication, things are “incredibly fucked up” and “about to be fixed by Obama!” but all the emotion involved in this chatter can be confusing to the average man, who needs calm, wise voices to explain the situation to him. luckily for that man, much of the discussion about the economy comes from the following calm, wise sources:

–television talking heads who overreact for a living;
–professional financial analysts who, as far as i can tell, are paid to keep the US (and other nations) on some kind of stock market “shame spiral” where you say everything sucks and that makes everyone depressed and, in turn, makes everything suck more, thus allowing said analysts to be “right” about things;
–random fucking idiots that you know, are friends with, work with, are related to, and so on. you know, the kind of fucking idiots that fell for that shitty “We Deserve It Dividend” e-mail? yes, those are the idiots who are convinced they know “the answers” to things like economic troubles and “how do you solve a problem like Maria?”

now, as for myself, i can’t tell you the answer to the economic woes of America and/or the rest of the world, but i’m not going to try. what i AM going to do is get super-disgusted by the way people have reacted to it and try to fit some jokes in there. okay? okay. let’s get started.

greedy spoiled woman with toys
not buying yourself new designer jeans, scrimping and saving so that your children don’t go without: what’s the difference?

spoiled women claiming a slight decrease in shopping is “going without”

let me start this by pointing out something subtle about this article: its title is “To Buy Children’s Gifts, Mothers Do Without,” which evokes a O. Henry-esque level of sacrificing for the happiness of your young ones and implies that these mothers are undergoing some serious hardship to make their children happy… but the title of the actual page is “Mothers Cut Personal Shopping to Buy Children’s Gifts,” a much weaker tug on the heartstrings, and the description goes “Parents, especially mothers, are putting off personal spending to buy their children the latest toys.”

so this is really about a bunch of vapid cunts going without designer jeans (that they covet) and new coats and then wanting me to believe they’re making a great sacrifice? a sacrifice would be SELLING YOUR DESIGNER JEANS AND USING THAT MONEY TO BUY YOUR CHILD A TOY. or not buying your child a toy because your child is very sick and the only money you have has to pay for their medicine and Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to give you a raise. yeah, ghosts will eventually straighten him out and you’ll score a huge goose, but until that time, real sacrifice is going down.

the article also claims that “the downturn, analysts said, is being exacerbated by unexciting fashions in stores. and the lack of pressure to conform to one particular style these days means women do not have to update their work wardrobes”; this all leads me to believe that these ladies don’t have it as bad as, say, my grandmothers did during the Great Depression.

Wal-Mart, home of the low-priced trampling death
Wal-Mart: where shoppers go for everyday low prices and to feel the rush that comes with trampling a man to death

people demanding to shop even after they’ve trampled someone to death in a rush for televisions

i recall some events in the past where people have gotten WAY out of control in a rush for cheaply-made and cheaply-priced goods; it’s a bit ridiculous, but as long as the results remained restricted to rude behavior and Wal-Mart profiting from it, well, i didn’t approve but also wasn’t going to allow myself to get very worked out about it. but when a 34-year-old gets trampled to death by a couple hundred people because they’re RUSHING TO SHOP ON BLACK FRIDAY… well, we have to draw the line somewhere.

now, granted, this guy can’t have been the most tough and athletic guy, because the article claims the cause of death was actually a heart attack, not trampling, and the EMTs who were trying to save him ALSO got stepped on and, well, they didn’t die. but he also was a guy with a job who wasn’t in a wild-eyed panic over $70 cameras and $9 DVDs. he also didn’t chant “push the doors in” at a store that wasn’t open for shoppers at 5 AM, and he didn’t refuse to leave a store when asked to because someone died there by saying “i’ve been on line since Friday morning!”

and for that matter, that’s really a huge wait? Friday morning? when this event happened at like 5 AM on Friday? that IS Friday morning! so people are being asked to leave because they’ve trampled someone to death, and their justification for refusing is “i’ve been on line for over several minutes?” man, do we live in a society of instant gratification or what?

i also hear now that the family of the victim are not wasting time trying to find people responsible for this because they’re very busy filing a lawsuit against Wal-Mart due to Wal-Mart’s low low prices enraging people to cause this man’s death. hey, i get it, Wal-Mart should have KNOWN that when you sold a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as “The Incredible Hulk” for $9, people would get SO worked up that they’d kill for them, and so it’s Wal-Mart’s fault. this surely has nothing to do with the likelihood of getting a 7-figure settlement.

also, i used that listing of products because apparently it gets stated in every news story – even the one about the family suing – that relates to this topic. wow.

stupid, stupid idiots
in case you’re wondering what the kind of people who believe in the “We Deserve It Dividend” look like, here is a picture

that shitty “We Deserve It Dividend” e-mail

yes, i know, i JUST brought this thing up and bashed it, but allow me to be redundant to point out the two major problems i have with it:

a) the terrible math involved. whereas any grade school student could tell you that dividing $85 billion between 200 million people wouldn’t get you anywhere NEAR to $425000 a person without even doing the math, apparently the geniuses who have read it don’t even think about anything beyond reading something that says “you deserve $425000!”

b) the sense of entitlement involved. look, if you didn’t like that specific bailout concept (the $85 million bailout of AIG, specifically), fine, but your response should be something more like “borrowing against our childrens’ futures is fiscally irresponsible,” not “GIVE ME MONEY GIVE ME MONEY GIVE ME MONEY!” the latter is just greedy and, frankly, indicative of the effects of all that “self-esteem” bullshit you got spoon fed in school. don’t complain about the greed of executives if you act like that, because YOU ARE GREEDY TOO.

…also, it occurs to me that i should have saved the whole “ecstasy of gold” title reference for this week given, you know, the above topics. oh well, better alignment of title and subject next time!