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Some basic thoughts on “Friends”: it’s roots and its relationship to screwball comedy


It’s the 25th anniversary of “Friends”, and a number of reviews I read talk about it looking backwards.This piece, though, does something better: it looks at where the series came up from.  Key quote to me was this:

Chandler, who is so indifferent about what he does that he is unable to pay his job even the small courtesy of hating it—Chandler, besuited and bedraggled, whose work in computer-something-or-other summons the amorphous anxieties of the coming digital age. … It is through Chandler, in the end, that Reality Bites finds its way into Friends’ otherwise chipper cosmology. His work is simply there, looming, draining, tautological. His laconic resentments of it invoke the precise strain of Gen Xed ennui the novelist Douglas Coupland had described earlier in the decade: the mistrust of institutions, the mistrust of professions, the mistrust of meaning itself.

You can see in the quote the tie to Douglas Coupland’s  book Generation X and the film Reality Bites. These are the roots of “Friends”. ‘Friends’ at 25: The Prescience of Chandler Bing’s Job – The Atlantic. That generation after the boomers needed a show, and many of them found it in “Friends”. Now people look back at it and many mock a show about six well dressed people living in an amazing apartment in NYC. But “Friends” then tried to make sense of becoming an adult, or “adulting”, to use a word that came along later. The fact that people have such fondness for it makes me think it resonated with them and it represents part of their lives.

I always liked “Friends”, but for a different reason. I am a fan of screwball comedy, and that series often went there. Seinfeld did absurdist comedy well, but I loved that this series did a comedic style I loved so much. Watch some episodes of “Friends” and then watch a classic screwball comedy like “Bringing Up Baby” or “His Girl Friday” and you will see the similarities.

All comedy series go pear shaped after a time, and the things that made it originally great fades. For a time “Friends” was one of the best comedies on TV, and it was great then because of the form of comedy it aspired to and because of the way it represented the time it was rooted in.

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You want short novels? The Paris Review got your back


As they say, here is: A Very Short List of Very Short Novels with Very Short Commentary.

Some of these you may have read, but chances are there are a few you haven’t. I recommend short novels to people who want to read more and are stuck with not having read anything recently. Better still, read good short novels. Every book on that short list is a good book.

Enjoy

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Secure Your Digital Life – a relatively pain free guide from the New York Times


I highly highly recommend this: NYT Programs – Secure Your Digital Life in 7 (Easy) Days

You can never do enough to security your information technology, but the more you do, the better off you are.

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How to Read More Books, According to an Editor Who Finishes 60+ a Year


It’s Saturday. You are thinking: I should start reading more books. But I suck at it. Well then, read this: How to Read More Books, According to an Editor Who Finishes 60+ a Year

I can’t promise it will get you to 60 books, but it will help.

Things I’d add:

  • Toss books you don’t like.
  • If you get stuck on a book, move on.
  • Put down your phone.
  • Don’t just sit there: pick up a book!
  • Have more than one book on the go, but mix up the genres.
  • If you get put off by big books, get smaller books. Finishing any sized book is satisfying.
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The Embroidered Computer. Fascinating.


First off, what is it?

The Embroidered Computer is an exploration into using historic gold embroidery materials and knowledge to craft a programmable 8 bit computer.

Brilliant. For more on the design and more photos, see here:  The Embroidered Computer | Irene PoschIrene Posch

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Is the Citroën Ami One the future of urban vehicles?


I am not sure of the viability of this vehicle, licence or no: You don’t need a licence to drive the Citroën Ami One in Yanko Design,

I do think it is interesting though. And Yanko Design has great photos and a write up on it. Worth reviewing and considering it. We need alternatives to the automobiles we have now. Perhaps this is it.

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The Best Do-It-Yourself Spaces in Toronto


In a big city it can be hard to do DIY projects, especially if you live in a small place. Fortunately, in a big city there are often places to go and satisfy your DIY itch.

Here’s a list of some of  The Best Do-It-Yourself Spaces in Toronto. Via BlogTO.