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AS WE WERE mailing out yesterday’s item about the previously unexplained disappearance of Kate Wagner’s long feature story about Formula One from the Road & Track website, Defector got an emailed comment on the subject from Road & Track’s recently promoted editor-in-chief, Daniel Pund. Pund wrote: “The story was taken down because I felt it was the wrong story for our publication. No one from the brands or organizations mentioned in the story put any sort of pressure on me or anyone else.” Pund told Defector that the story was “assigned and edited by the digital team” when he was working as executive editor, focused on the print magazine, although as Rusty Foster noted in today’s Today in Tabs, that still left some six weeks between when he became editor-in-chief and when the very prominent feature was published and unpublished.


HERE IS THE prequel, if you will, to Indignity’s latest wall-to-wall coverage of the Dune-iverse.

Timothée Chalamet in Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

ON TUESDAYS, THE movie theater right by my house has a $7 ticket special for shows all day, so I declared it DUNE2SDAY™ and went to see the 4:20 p.m. screening of the new sciencer, a giant sandpile of a movie, Dune Part Two, the sequel to Dune (part one), with the two films encompassing the story told by Frank Herbert in his book Dune, which is all about the Planet Arrakis, a/k/a Dune, which has the valuable spice called The Spice Melange, but mostly just The Spice, a mind-expander that enables serious addicts—who spend their time locked into contraptions that allow them to just breathe the stuff 24/7—to navigate interstellar space. Suspension of Disbelief! DUNE-belief!

I will go to any movie with a rocket ship or a space alien, so I lack perspective, but this one has it all, different planets, great desert scenery, all kinds of weirdos. Plus: space witches! Also-plus, thanks to the viral Dune: Part Two promotional popcorn cup prophecies, most people who might give a crap about this movie already know there are giant worms that rip shit up! Furthermore, there are disturbing scenes with people who are wormy-looking! Notably a dread-inspiring gladiator/arena scene on a creepy black-and-white planet of bad-guy bald sickos, featuring a repellant Stellan Skarsgård as the gravel-voiced Baron Harkonnen, and Austin Butler, who was in that Elvis movie, as the Baron’s nephew. Dude does not lose his Elvis-accent until his third or fourth scene, where he successfully channels Skarsgård’s growl-y delivery.

There are lots of great actors in this flick, and the costumes and settings are rich and familiar while they are being strange and other-worldly, does that make sense? Unfortunately, Charlotte Rampling has to work behind a veil a lot of the time, but she really brings the Big Witch Energy, also unfortunately, Javier Bardem’s character Stilgar, a rugged indigenous leader, has his character ultimately reduced to kind of a hype-man. At the screening ($7) I attended, his lines were getting laughs from the audience, every time he witnessed a possible fulfillment of the prophecies, which are all bullshit. The fun thing about Dune: Part Two is that religion is a lie, with prophecies being introduced into the great masses of civilizations in a millennias-old campaign by a buncha lady space witches called the Bene Gesserit. Their deal is they’ve been managing bloodlines of rulers, royal families, in order to breed the ultimate super being, the Kwisatz Haderach, a male witch—yeah, totally sexist, 10,000 years of female witches but they spend their time doing eugenics to get a male—who has the genetic memory of all their ancestors, plus the interstellar space thing. At the same time our hero Paul has real (for the movie) prophetic dreams, and again, there’s people riding around on giant worms and huffing red dust and traveling at the speed of light through folded space, OK?

The giant worms!

The film gets a little murky in the middle of the second half. I kinda lost the whole point of the hero Paul, and there’s all these not really very well presented battle scenes, hundreds of fighters running around wearing somewhat different outfits, but since it’s all kinda desert-monochrome brownish gray, I had trouble sorting out the combatants in the wide shots. People are carrying banners I imagine so you can tell who’s who, but I couldn’t remember which team had which logo, and, Full Disclosure, beyond a large popcorn and a large Coke, I did not ingest any mind-altering substances even though I was attending the 4:20 p.m. screening. It picks up at the end because stuff gets blowed up real good, and part of the ending was a little like a drawing-room scene at the end of a murder mystery, but ultimately, the ending was satisfactory and forward-looking.

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in Dune: Part Two

I dunno if this thing really passes the Bechdel Test because while lotsa female characters talk to each other, it always seems to be about the hero Paul Atreides Muad'Dib Usul (Timothée Chalamet, with really great hair) or the female characters trying to get the bloodline headed toward super-male. The one non-witch character who lives on the planet Dune, Chani, played by Zendaya, spends a lot of her time being mad at the hero, plus she loves him.

Zendaya in Dune: Part Two

I might need to see it again at another 4:20 p.m. screening and see if I can prepare my mind to fold interstellar space, maybe that’ll help? Dune: Part Two, fold your brain!

I Sure Wish I Could Know When I Can Go Watch Dune: Part Two

Josh Brolin in Dune: Part Two

DUNE: PART TWO sounds like a real spectacle, the kind of thing you need to see in a theater. We watched the previous Dune gathered around a laptop screen, and it was reasonably compelling and enjoyable that way, but all the while it was obvious that the things that were happening in the movie were supposed to be big things—visually and sonically monumental relative to the human body, not just relative to the 13.3 inch Apple Retina display.

I haven't been to a movie theater since September of last year. I remember it because it was the last thing I did before my legs went out from under me, thanks to the autoimmune attack that went out of control after I got Covid. Medication has my legs working decently now, but at the cost of a suppressed immune system, so I've grudgingly given up on eating raw oysters, and I have to be careful about taking off a mask indoors in public or about joining large gatherings of people. Such as, for instance, a gathering of people watching a blockbuster science-fiction movie featuring giant sandworms on a giant screen, with sandworm sound rumbling all around them.

It's not impossible for me to go see the movie, or it shouldn't be. Dune: Part Two is listed at two hours and 46 minutes, presumably three-plus hours with trailers. My masks are pretty good; I can spend that long in a room full of strangers sometimes, especially when the Covid numbers are low. Things were looking decent, with the most recent Covid outbreak past its peak and fading.

And then the Centers for Disease Control told people to go back to work when they're contagious. Even in all the back-and-forth between people who are cautious about Covid and people who don't want to be cautious about Covid, nobody has knocked down the fact that asymptomatic people can and do spread the virus. Nevertheless, the CDC, running out of other Covid precautions to roll back, declared that people don't need to isolate when they've tested positive for infection, as long as they aren't feeling any symptoms.

The CDC may have put some caveats in there encouraging infected people to wear masks when they go out in the world. It's hard to tell because the CDC didn't really identifiably release the new guidelines to the public; it just leaked that it was going to put out new guidelines, and then two weeks later it announced that it had done so. Good luck finding the actual isolation guidance on the CDC website: if you click on "What you need to know about COVID-19," and then you click on "Isolation," you get redirected to an archival search-results page with links to now-obsolete isolation policies.

So whatever nuanced Covid-control policy the CDC claims to be promoting, the only message it has effectively put out is that you should go out in public with a positive test. And that means now I have to worry about even more people in any given crowd being actively contagious. That would still be manageable if there were some central agency for controlling diseases, say, that made regular public announcements about the rise and fall of outbreaks, and if that agency systematically advised people when to wear masks. But instead what we have is the CDC.

Rebecca Ferguson in Dune: Part Two

An Unranked List of Some Phrases That Rattle Into the Brain-Hole Created by “Kwisatz Haderach”










Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Rebecca Ferguson, Austin Butler, and Timothée Chalamet in Dune: Part Two

RESEARCHERS ANNOUNCED THIS week that with the help of ground-penetrating radar, they had determined that an immense sand dune named Lala Lallia, located in the Sahara at Erg Chebbi in Morocco, is 12,000 or 13,000 years old at its base, but that most of its 100-meter height accumulated in the last 900 years or so. The dune, of the sharply peaked variety known as a star dune or pyramid dune, is migrating at a rate of about half a meter a year, the scientists said.


PEOPLE WHO WANT to be angry on the Internet this week picked up on a story published in D Magazine last year, which told how the amount of capsaicin in jalapeño peppers has decreased over the years. Growers have been standardizing their products, the magazine reported, to give the food industry predictable, low levels of pepper-heat—which can then be modified upward by adding more capsaicin, to turn mild salsa into medium and hot varieties.


This resolved a question that had been nagging at me for a while now: why jalapeños, which I remembered from childhood as the hottest peppers in the mid-Atlantic Anglo supermarkets—peppers that recipes warned should have their seeds removed, and which would burn your eye when you took out your contact lenses at night after removing the seeds—were now a mildly piquant garnish on nachos or a banh mi. I did not think my tolerance for hot peppers had increased very much (quite the opposite, from the neck down), but I didn't know what else might account for it.

Now I do! This would all be another story about big corporations ruining everything, were it not for the fact that while the jalapeños were cooling off, the rest of the hot-pepper industry seems to have been  focused on finding, breeding, and distributing other, weapons-grade varieties of peppers. The jalapeño may be under the godless orders of Big Food, but it has nevertheless been swimming upstream, toward the underserved part of the pepper market. I look forward to buying and eating some.

Léa Seydoux in Dune: Part Two

HERE IS THE strategy board game of Dune, as documented on Wikipedia. “Both supplements included additional Treachery Cards.”

The Avalon Hill Game Co., via Wikipedia
Spice serves as money. Each turn, one territory (determined by a card draw) produces a "spice blow", which places an amount of spice in that territory. This is one of the two ways in which all factions can earn spice for auctions, transportation, revival, and negotiating deals. The other is by winning a battle in which a leader is killed, which earns the faction the leader's value in spice.
Javier Bardem in Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

A GIANT SANDPILE of a sciencer, this one has it all, planets, weirdos, space witches, great desert scenery, and giant worms that rip shit up. Furthermore, there are disturbing scenes with people who are wormy-looking, featuring Stellan Skarsgård as the repellant and gravel-voiced Baron Harkonnen, and Austin Butler, who was in that Elvis movie, as the Baron’s nephew. Dude does not lose his Elvis-accent until his third or fourth scene, where he successfully channels Skarsgård’s growl-y delivery. Charlotte Rampling has to work behind a veil a lot of the time, but she really brings the Big Witch Energy. Javier Bardem’s character Stilgar, a rugged indigenous leader, has his character ultimately reduced to kind of a hype-man. Heroes Paul Atreides Muad'Dib Usul (Timothée Chalamet, great hair) and Chani (Zendaya) have great chemistry and provide a solid emotional core to a preposterous story involving prophetic dreams, huge battles, people riding around on giant worms, and people huffing red drug-dust and traveling at the speed of light through folded space. You witnessed the promotional popcorn cup prophecies, now see them fulfilled on the big screen!


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 231: Running with the mob.

Tom Scocca • Mar 6, 2024

A scale with a hand doing "thumbs up" gesture opposed by another hand also doing a "thumbs up" on the other side of the scale but weighing more even though they look the same

Ask The Sophist

GOT SOMETHING YOU need to justify to yourself, or to the world at large? Other columnists are here to judge you, but The Sophist is here to tell you why you’re right. Please send your questions to The Sophist, at indignity@indignity.net, and get the answers you want.


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS in aid of the assembly of a sandwich from The Central Cook Book: A Collection of Tested Recipes, compiled and published by Circle Number Three, Central Methodist Church, Raleigh, N.C. in 1924, now in the Public Domain and available at archive.org for the delectation of all.

Club Sandwich
On a thin slice of buttered toast place a lettuce leaf, then a layer of sliced chicken. Spread over this a salad dressing, preferably mayonnaise. Place strip of bacon over this, then a second slice of toast. On top of this place a lettuce leaf, slice of tomato and sliced cucumber; spread with mayonnaise. Place the third slice of toast over this.
—Mrs. G. C. Henson.

Egg Sandwiches
4 hard-boiled eggs.
1 tablespoon mustard.
1 tablespoon butter.
1/2 teaspoon pepper.
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1 tablespoon mayonnaise dressing.

Mash all up fine together, spread on thin slices of bread.
—Mrs. C. D. Luavister.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to indignity@indignity.net.


The second printing of 19 FOLK TALES is now available for gift-giving and personal perusal! Huddle up against the raw damp of late winter with a cozy collection of stories, each of which is concise enough to read while you’re waiting for the heaviest part of the rain to pass.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, available for purchase at SHOPULA.

INDIGNITY is a general-interest publication for a discerning and self-selected audience. We appreciate and depend on your support!