Hmm Weekly for January 28, 2020

Tuesday was named after Tiw, the Nordic god of single combat

Hmm Weekly for January 28, 2020

Another Week, Another Hmm Weekly

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Some Rules of Dodgeball

THE FOLKLORE OF moral panics about moral panics says that the game of dodgeball has been driven to extinction, because it has been deemed too invidious and violent for the well-protected children of today. And yet the children play dodgeball. Here, Hmm Weekly’s third-grade correspondent Dominic Scocca-Ho tells about three versions he recently played:

Army Dodgeball: “Each team has a general, a medic, and a spy, and everyone else is just throwing balls that are set up on the middle line for the first round. The general is basically the guy who you're trying to protect. He can throw balls, but if he gets out, you lose the game. The medic, if you are hit by a ball, he will come over to you and "heal" you so that you can come back. And you can take out the medic, so that means you basically can't get people back. [Ed. note: This is a violation of Article 24 of the 1949 Geneva Convention.] Then the spy, he can like blend in with the other team—cross the line, blend in with the other team, and start throwing balls at them. And can cross the line whatever time he wants. The game usually ends when either the general is hit by a ball or the time limit you're playing it goes off.”

[Ed. note: In the 1970s and 1980s, "Army Dodgeball" meant that if you were hit on a limb, you had to stop using that limb, but you weren't out until you got hit in the torso or head. There were no generals, no spies, and certainly no medics.]

Fortnite Dodgeball: “So Fortnite dodgeball, instead of a starting line, it's called the Battle Bus line. The first round the balls are set up in the middle. So people can obviously run up and get them. But instead of you being hit and being out, what you do if you get hit is you go to the floor and maybe crawl on the floor, and a teammate can revive you if they touch you for five seconds. But if they get hit before five seconds is up, then they have to get down on the floor too. Eventually at a time limit if it's getting near the end of the game, if you get hit, you will be permanently out until the next round or until the game ends.”

Dungeon Dodgeball: “It's kind of like Kingpin. There's a line, you can't cross it. You're throwing balls at each other. If you get hit, you walk over the line to a box surrounded by cones—to signal where the box is, usually in a corner. Then one of your teammates has to throw a ball to you, you drop it and run out. If there are multiple people in the box and you catch the ball, or somebody else catches the ball, only the person who caught the ball gets out of the box. And you cannot take the ball with you.”

Colin Farrell and Charlie Hunnam in The Gentlemen

Review Dep’t.

The Gentlemen, directed by Guy Ritchie

THIS MOVIE IS director Guy Ritchie going back to his early, funny pictures, stuff like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which featured motley assortments of underworld crooks and characters all tied up in a labyrinthine plot, with snappy banter and brutal (and sometimes comical) violence, and it’s all super U.K., super British, except for the odd American, in this case Matthew McConaughey, who is pretty much playing the guy Matthew McConaughey plays in the Lincoln automobile commercials, talking to himself a lot, except he’s a drug kingpin and he wants to get out of the business.

Michelle Dockery and Matthew McConaughey in The Gentlemen

If this movie had been made back in 1998 or the year 2000, the racial slurs coming out of the mouths of street toughs might have seemed understandable, or gritty, but 20 years later in Mr. Ritchie’s career, after the success of the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, the stylish failure of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (and the regular failure of a few other movies), having the undereducated—but of course entertainingly philosophical and streetwise/moronic—assortment of goons, crooks, and yobs utter racist remarks may be defensible as movie-logic, but the movie-logic reminds you it’s only a movie, and the material doesn’t play for a laugh anymore.

Colin Farrell in The Gentlemen

Having a white character unpack/rationalize the phrase “black bastard” to a subordinate black character, having characters refer to an Asian (Henry Golding as “Dry Eye”) as a “Chinaman” and execute the classic Ls-for-Rs comic Asian accent, and in what seemed like a super-unnecessary reach, having a Jewish character (Jeremy Strong from HBO’s Succession) threatened with losing a pound of flesh (that last bit was astoundingly jarring), ripped me right out of the movie and made me wonder why it all seemed like a good idea to the writers.

Hugh Grant in The Gentlemen

On the bright side, the conceit of the tale’s presentation is clever, there’s lots of fun fashion for men, the music cues are tight, Hugh Grant channels a compelling permutation of Ricky Gervais’ dim, yet somehow cunning, David Brent from The Office, and Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey gets a couple of solid scenes, although one of them involves the now-cliche splattering of blood across the face. Again, a thing that would have startled back at the turn of the century, but now it’s just a shopworn gag, as compared to an appearance of the MIRAMAX logo, which, at the screening I attended, got a good laugh.


Another trip to the craft store

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Spam Filter Letters to the Awl

WHILE WE MULL over what to serialize next, here's yet another installment of Spam Filter Letters to the Awl, from the 80,000-word collection of dummy-text cover letters I wrote to make sure that when I emailed that site a photograph of the sky, the filters would allow it to go through.

Subject: An OFFICE. Desks, chairs. Computers.
To: Awl notes
A: Well.
B: So.
A: Let's have a cigarette.
B: Yes. We should have a cigarette.
[They cross through doorway onto FIRE ESCAPE]
B: So.
A: Well—
Here is a photograph of the sky, and the review is in the system.

Subject: FIRE ESCAPE. Neither A nor B is smoking.
To: Awl notes
B: So that's how it happened.
A: They do make it a surprise.
B: Even when it's not.
A: The manner. The manner will always be a surprise.
[C steps out on to FIRE ESCAPE, holding a silver VAPORIZER]
C: Oh.
A: Hey. [Nods.]
B: We're havin' a smoke.
[A and B continue not to smoke. C looks at them, hesitates, then takes a puff on VAPORIZER]
Here is a photograph of the sky, and the review is in the system.

Subject: dramas
To: Awl notes
C: So, yeah. Wow.
A: How's that working out for you?
C: I'm getting used to it?
B: Decided against the light-up one?
C: Yeah, I wasn't really into the light.
A: The blue light is the future.
B: And nobody wants that.
Here is a photograph of the sky, and the review is in the system.

Subject: so scandal
To: Awl notes
Much journalism
Very anger
Such concerning
Here is a photograph of the sky and the review is in the system

Subject: technical challenges
To: Awl notes
The usual challenge of remembering to take a photograph of the sky is supplemented by the challenge of making sure that the photograph of the sky has survived the three-year-old's various explorations of the functions of the phone. Is it still there? No, there, beyond the half-dozen identical and blurry photos of the shoe rack. Why are only half of those photos of the shoe rack appearing in Google Plus? Is it his fault (my fault) or Google's?
It is Google's.
Here is photograph of the sky, not of a shoe rack, and the weather review is in the system.


WE PRESENT A selection of recipes for ancient but reproducible sandwiches, found in The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich, by Eva Greene Fuller; 1909; McClurg and Co., Chicago, now in the public domain for the delectation of all.

Chop cold boiled ham very fine and rub smooth in a mortar; pass the yolks of four hard-boiled eggs through a sieve and add a little mayonnaise dressing. Cut white bread very thin and lightly butter; on one slice spread the ham, then cover with another slice, and on that spread the egg mixture with a crisp lettuce leaf between, topped by a third slice of lightly buttered bread. Garnish with a pickle.

Mince finely some cold boiled ham and add to it about half the quantity of finely chopped peanuts. For every cupful of ham add a teaspoonful of chopped pickles and a little chopped celery. Mix to a paste with salad dressing and spread on this slices of lightly buttered white bread and serve on a lettuce leaf.

Spread thin slices of Boston brown bread with butter; then chop English walnuts fine, sprinkle with salt, and put a layer of the nuts between two slices of bread.

If you make one of these sandwiches, before you eat it, please send a picture to


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