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American For A Day

Bart: “Wow. I feel so full of…what’s the opposite of shame?”
Marge: “Pride?”
Bart: “No, not that far from shame.”
Homer: [quavering] “Less shame?”
Bart: [happy] “Yeah…”

Wow. Just wow. Congratulations, America. I feel so full of “less shame,” I can’t tell you. The votes have been counted, the people have spoken, and Malia and Sasha are getting a new puppy. Well done.

But I know Americans and the world woke up this morning with one burning question on their minds: “How, Rob, does this historic election affect you?”

I’m glad you asked, Americans and the world. The answer is: My job just got a lot easier. (Warning: long gushy post with lots of caffeinated generalizations after the jump.)

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Weighty Historical Matters

There has been some great, chewy stuff over at Cliopatria recently: Miriam Burstein’s essay on the aesthetics of history, Manan Ahmed and Nathaniel Robinson’s conversation about reconciliation and historical memory, and today our newest member, Claire Potter, on the history of everyday rage. I’ve been so derelict in posting there, I wanted to return to the fold with a similarly weighty and scholarly piece of work. And so I give you:

A thriving LiveJournal community, which examines historical figures and asks of each the vital question: Were They Hot? Recent contestants include Lord Byron (surely a no-brainer?), Frida Kahlo, Robespierre (“he’s got a slightly squished face but I reckon he looks good naked”), and the Roman Emperor Philip (“I would ride this man to Damascus and back if I had to”).

Kate Beaton’s History Project and History Project Two, a series of winsome and ridiculous cartoons about history, much of it obscure and/or Canadian. I can’t pick a favorite cartoon, as they always have a cumulative effect on me, but it’s hard to argue with Sandford Fleming’s beard. I wish the CBC would scrap the hokey old Heritage Minute and give my tax dollars directly to Kate.

Sometimes blog posts seem so blatantly written for me and me alone that I feel like a chimp when I link to them. But I suppose the internet is big enough that everybody feels that way from time to time. Anyway, one of our buddy Bill Turkel’s digital history students recently wrote a software ‘bot that impersonates Benjamin Franklin. I must admit it is not the most cunning impersonation one could imagine:

Turkel: So what do you think of Rob MacDougall’s blog?
FranklinBot: Does it have anything to do with reductionism?
Turkel: Why yes it does.
FranklinBot: Yay!

Finally, here is some more of the internet-enabled infomancy I celebrated on my blog last week: Caleb Crain and Paul Collins track the origins of the essential phrase, “Mad, mad, I tell you!”

That’s really all I want for my blogging life: to make a robot Ben Franklin say “yay” and to follow Paul Collins and Caleb Crain around like a dorky third wheel. “What are we doing today, guys? Guys?”

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Damn Right Your Dad Drank It

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
–Mark Twain

Does this (via my college chum Joey “Accordion Guy” DeVilla) count as found history?

Faux-retro Canadian Club Ad
(Click thru for larger version.)

It’s a clever ad in a lad-magazine way. They’ve done a nice job with the retro look, and they play right to the “gee, maybe my Dad was cool” realization I and so many of my buddies have been going through as we age. Of course, if you’re sorry you missed out on unabashed Kennedy-era sexism, they also play to that too. (Why no distaff version: “Your Dad Wasn’t Your Mom’s First”?)

The sequel to the ad, Your Dad Wasn’t A Metrosexual, doesn’t work for me. Real or not–I’m assured in comments that all the photos used in the campaign are genuine pics from the 60s and 70s we seem to have confirmation now that these pictures are recreations, not originals, which is what I had assumed all along–the guys in the main picture look like 21st-century frat boys in Abercrombie & Fitch. My own Dad might have dressed like the guy in the first ad to go to a party, but there’s no way he ever wore a powder-blue cardigan to go fishing. Plus it’s pretty bold for the men’s lifestyle-magazine-industrial complex to take shots at “metrosexuals”–the very pseudo-phenomenon they created just a few years back to sell crap like men’s moisturizer, hair gel, and, yes, whisky cocktails.

What I want to see now is an ad where the retro Dads are awake and bleary-eyed at 4 am, pacing the wood panelled rec room with squalling babies, up to their necks in dirty diapers: “Your Dad Drank It… Because You Cried.”