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ABF Friday:  If only we could get rid of X edition!

Woo hoo!  For years I’ve believed that I have no hope of winning universal assent to anything I say.  But finally, species-wide concord!  Everyone in the world agrees that the zither soundtrack to The Third Man is an abomination in the sight of Moloch. Now, at last, we’re getting somewhere.  If only we can build on this foundation a plausible doctrine of “humanitarian intervention,” all will be well with the world. 

Likewise, it appears that everyone in the English and Elvish-speaking worlds agrees that the epilogue to the Harry Potter series is the worst thing ever written, so awful that even B. Hussein al-Obama has declared it ineligible for trade-in under the socialist “cash for clunkers” literary program.  (Lance Mannion joins the universal concord here, and has a bunch of perceptive and intriguing things to say about the HP6 movie as well.)

So, because it’s Friday and because some Fridays are Arbitrary (don’t ask why some Fridays are and some Fridays aren’t), here’s today’s Fun Game.  We have all agreed to strike the zither music from The Third Man and the epilogue from Harry Potter and the Couples Who Found Their Life Partners During Adolescence.  We have the technology to do this, too, what with the amazing Epilogue-B-Gon® and the space-age Dezitherer®.  What else should we do while we’re at it?  What cultural artifact is nearly ruined for you by just one thing whose removal would enhance your enjoyment of it immensely? Bull Durham without Kevin Costner? Salon without Camille Paglia? Remain in Light without “The Overload”?  Get out your blue pencils and your white-out and your antipagliafiers, people, and let’s have some fun—with a purpose!


And this time the Fun Game can last all week. Yes, I have decided to take the advice offered to me by commenter “John Smith” in this recent thread:

You’re a cheap race hustler. Why don’t you step down from your academic position and insist that you be replaced by a non-white female? Of course, you won’t do that; your largess should never cost you a thing. Just keep going on vacation and posting pictures to your cutesy little blog. Asshole!

Thanks, Mr. Smith (if that is your real name)!  I hadn’t planned on taking another vacation and posting pictures to my cutesy little blog, but now that I think of it, it sounds like a fine idea. I’ll be taking a week-long “now it’s time to paint the tiny little patches under the roof that no one will ever see except maybe if he or she takes a look at them” vacation!  I might even post pictures to my cutesy little blog!  Sayonara, folks!  See you all right after the Mad Men premiere!

Posted by on 08/07 at 08:14 AM
  1. If only we could have a world without hate. I hate hate.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  09:26 AM
  2. Laughing with me, not at me. Especially when I’m only chuckling knowingly, not really laughing or even smiling for that matter.

    Yes, I do cut my own hair.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  09:56 AM
  3. Thanks for the link, Michael.  And I agree with you about the zither.  But isn’t it an abomination unto Nuggin as well as unto Moloch?

    Posted by LanceMannion  on  08/07  at  10:02 AM
  4. I’m rather fond of the zither of all discord but am quite “pro” on this idea of viewers’ editions of artistic works reducing the input of those over-privileged authors. It has already been done a while back but the removal of the odious and arguably racist caricature of Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Edit stands as a milestone in the genre.

    Captcha: nations, as in why do they rage so furiously together?

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  10:31 AM
  5. Also, I should add that I am a particularly expensive race hustler.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/07  at  10:42 AM
  6. I’d love to remove “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World” from Achtung Baby .  That song absolutely kills the momentum of an otherwise perfect album.

    Also, while it’s not a very good movie anyways, the ending of Vanilla Sky/Abre los Ojos (Spoiler forthcoming).  Really?  You’re going to pull the “it was all just a dream” crap on me after two hours of mediocrity?

    And I’d like to get rid of that 21st and final chapter of “Clockwork Orange”.....oh, what?  That was already done, and it took the political and philosophical bite out of the book?  Oh, well then...nevermind.

    Posted by Mr. Trend  on  08/07  at  10:43 AM
  7. Wronglinkitis:

    The Phantom Edit

    Carry on.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  10:47 AM
  8. Some sports ones:

    Soccer: lose the “World Cup acting school” histrionics on every tackle/near-tackle. Really, really lame. (Would also like to get rid of game-ending PKs, but do not have a viable alternative).

    Hockey playoffs: I’m tired of the freaking playoff beard trope. “Grew a playoff beard” is the new “jump the shark”.

    Baseball without George Will.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:18 AM
  9. I just wonder if the Olympics might be a wee bit more enjoyable without the tedious pontifications of Bob Costas.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:23 AM
  10. I think Titanic would be a much better movie if only they didn’t sink the damn ship. It’s really way over the top.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:24 AM
  11. Oh, and sports: I’d prefer baseball without the 8th inning of the 2003 NLCS. Just sayin’.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:25 AM
  12. Jerry Garcia would have been better without heroin. But that’s water under the bridge to Nowhere.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:37 AM
  13. Parsley, Sage, Rosenmry and Thyme without “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night”. Borderline effective and clever the first time you hear it. Unlistenable after the third. They add “Bonus Tracks” to CDs, so they can correct errors as well.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:57 AM
  14. I could have languished as a teen forevah under the spell of Little A and I’s, listening to their album over and over and over (setting the record machine so, you know the needle always comes back to the edge of the lp and starts over) were it not for that stinking “Shimmy shimmy coco pops” (or wev)—on an otherwise hearthrobbing, weeping, teen broken-hearted—why oh, why, endless loveless state…

    oh, and i coulda floated endlessly in a sea of morose Celtic mist—much later in life, just wasting away listening over and over to “Watermark” by Enya, were it not for her cover of “Shimmy shimmy coco pops meets lucky stars” aka “Orinoco Flow”

    git them songs outta here… please

    Posted by neill  on  08/07  at  12:12 PM
  15. I think as well as getting rid of Jar Jar, we should probably just go ahead and scrap the whole Menace.

    Also, while we’re on the subject of Star Wars, we could scrap the Ewoks from Jedi (although it does leave a gaping hole in the plot, I mean, how else does one neutralize an entire battalion of crack Empire troops if not with stone-age teddy bears?)

    And continuing with the Star Wars theme, we need to edit back out some of the things that Lucas edited in, Han Solo shooting Greedo in “self-defense” topping the list.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  12:30 PM
  16. And for sports: In football, how about getting rid of the super-tough manly-man iron and steel graphic thingies that make super-tough manly-man iron and steel noises when they go up on the screen.  Actually made me stop watching.  Well, that and I actually don’t like football much…

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  12:37 PM
  17. Continuing with the U2 theme, can we strike the odd strings epilogue at the end of “All I Want Is You” from Rattle & Hum?

    @12:  Not only would Garcia have been better, he’d probably still be alive, which would be way better.  But as we know, this is not a Grateful Dead kinda blog.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  12:38 PM
  18. Is it too early on a Friday to say I’d like to have drinking without the hangovers? I mean, doesn’t everyone prefer drinking’s solo career?

    (Sorry, it’s Fiesta week in Santa Barbara.)

    Posted by George  on  08/07  at  12:41 PM
  19. For my part, I’d appreciate Achtung, Baby and Rattle and Hum better if they removed all the U2 and replaced it with a band that didn’t suck.

    Captcha: Who--as in “The,” which would be a good replacement.

    Posted by Jason B.  on  08/07  at  12:51 PM
  20. Digging deep back into everyone’s past here, I’ll continue on the musical theme: “Synchronicity” by The Police would be a fucking perfect album if someone could just hit the shiny, candy-like History Eraser Button and retroactively delete “Mother” from side one. 

    Although of course, retroerasing “Mother” would deprive me of an excellent tool with which to torture pompous blowhards who like to work the “Andy Summers was the real talent in The Police” angle, but I’m willing to accept that as a reasonable cost.

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  08/07  at  12:57 PM
  21. The Big Sleep without the horrible kind-of happy ending?

    Posted by lisa Bickmore  on  08/07  at  01:18 PM
  22. The Big Sleep the *movie*, of course.  The ending of The Big Sleep the *novel* is perfect.

    Posted by lisa Bickmore  on  08/07  at  01:19 PM
  23. Agreed Lisa, although for a long time (before I read the book), the horrible movie ending allowed me to watch the movie several times and still be in suspense as to how it would end…

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  01:25 PM
  24. continuing the u2 theme. How about getting rid of Bono’s voice?

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  01:33 PM
  25. @24: That’s what I’m screaming. That MF sounds like an air-raid siren.

    Posted by Jason B.  on  08/07  at  01:40 PM
  26. David Lynch’s *Lost Highway* would be so much better if we removed Trent Reznor’s godawful soundtrack choices and replaced it with classic Badalamenti tunes and Lynch’s personal choices.

    David Bowie’s *Let’s Dance* album could be re-recorded without the Nile Rodger’s cocaine-glass production sound and be a fine album.

    Remove every song not written by Stuart Murdoch from every Belle & Sebastian album.

    And while we’re talking about film endings, could we restore once and for all the creepy ending to *Kiss Me Deadly* and get rid of the happy ending?

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  01:51 PM
  27. FrontPage Magazine would be aces if they got rid of David Horowitz.

    Posted by Roger Ailes  on  08/07  at  01:53 PM
  28. Tim Burton without 2000-2005

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  02:09 PM
  29. It’s been over a quarter-century since I’ve watched The Third Man, but I really don’t remember the zither music being annoying. Maybe everyone is confusing it with the bouzouki in this noir classic.

    Captcha: john. Reminiscent of Harry Lime’s transportation medium.

    Posted by Dr. Drang  on  08/07  at  02:13 PM
  30. You’re a cheap . . . hustler. Why don’t you step down from your . . . non-white female? Of course, you won’t do that; your large [a]ss should never cost you a thing. Just keep . . . your cutesy little . . . Asshole!

    Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow WOW!!!

    Oh, right, the ABF thing.  How about a Michael Bérubé blog without mds repeatedly commenting “Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow”?

    I thought Battlestar Galactica redux was going to tackle the notion of what to do when faith fails, and then they pulled that deus ex deum ending out of the hat.  Also:

    Also, while we’re on the subject of Star Wars, we could scrap the Ewoks from Jedi

    Indeed, I vaguely recall ttalk of it originally being Wookies, which would have made a successful insurrection a tiny bit more believable.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  02:42 PM
  31. My sister recently asked me why we couldn’t leave ventriloquists behind, like we did leaded gasoline. I didn’t really have a good answer. It looks like the timing is right to put it out there as an option.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  03:29 PM
  32. Also, Blonde on Blonde without “Just Like a Woman.”

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  03:29 PM
  33. Rubber Soul without “Michelle.” Gag.

    “The Lord of the Rings” books without all those goddam songs!  And without Tom Bombadil!  The best advice I ever gave my kids was to skip the songs when they read the books.  Say what one will about the movies, but they had the good sense to leave out everything but some snatches of those songs, and to cut Tom Bombadil.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  03:44 PM
  34. "The Wizard of Oz” movie without Dorothy waking up from a dream. I thought I was the only person who felt this way until I saw it with an audience at the Castro Theatre once in San Francisco where people started yelling at the screen near the end: “Don’t go back to Kansas, Dorothy. It’s in black and white and it’s depressing. Don’t click those heels!”

    Posted by sfmike  on  08/07  at  04:09 PM
  35. Continuing the Raymond Chandler theme, how about erasing the end of “The Long Goodbye” with Elliott Gould?  [Vague spoiler] That is NOT what Philip Marlowe did or ever would have done, and it pretty much either undid or completely misunderstood what Philip Marlowe’s life-view (if fictional characters can have one) was.

    Posted by Mr. Trend  on  08/07  at  05:26 PM
  36. As a student I would have said college without the dull professors.  As a professor, I now say college without the annoying students.  Non-annoying students are great

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  06:10 PM
  37. Fight Club without Meat Loaf (although it may be his best role).

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  06:17 PM
  38. Michael Gazzo in “The Godfather Part II” is good, but Richard Castellano would have been better.  Likewise Jan Malmsjo in “Fanny and Alexander” is also good by Max von Sydow would have been even better.  I wonder whether Keir Dullea’s role in “2001:  A Space Odyssey” would have been better done by Catherine Deneuve.  Oh, I know.  “Murder on the Orient Express” is one of my all time favorite movies.  ("You must be mad,” think all other bloggers).  But contrary to popular reputation, the book isn’t one where everyone does it.  It’s a book where instead of there being a group of suspects one person is guilty, there’s a group of suspects and only one person is innocent.  So the Jacqueline Bisset character should be innocent in the movie as well.

    For what it’s worth, I like “Mother.”

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  06:28 PM
  39. "Indeed, I vaguely recall talk of it originally being Wookies, which would have made a successful insurrection a tiny bit more believable.”

    Not to mention completely AWESOME!

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  07:09 PM
  40. Which makes me think, are we only subtracting here, or can we add too?  Can we only add to what we subtract?

    My Star Wars would have a lot more Wookies, let me tell you.  Might want to throw a few into the Harry Potter franchise too, while I’m at it…

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  07:12 PM
  41. The White Hotel was a fine novel until the last chapter, when all the dead people wind up in heaven.  It’s like Thomas was imagining a happy ending for the Holocaust.  It made feel sick and creepy for days.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  07:22 PM
  42. Neal Stephenson’s books – the ones I’ve read anyway – without their crappy endings.

    Oh, and Remain in Light is just fine the way it is, thank you.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  08/07  at  07:31 PM
  43. One of the things that pissed me off most about that third Star Wars movie (besides the wookies, of course), was when they showed Luke’s father at the end all reborn and beautified (having been de-eviled) in the afterlife. It would have been soooo much better had they just left us with seeing Luke remove Vader’s helmet and look upon his father. Leave the rest to our imagination. But noooo, they gotta ruin that, too.

    I guess that’s not really an official answer to this ABFF question since it’s not like that 3rd Star Wars movie was perfect up until the very end where they ruined it by showing us Luke’s father. I’m just sayin’, since Star Wars was mentioned above.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  07:32 PM
  44. From TPM: Palin is now out claiming that Obama’s “death panel” might decide to euthanize her Down syndrome baby.

    Needless to say, I think the health care bill would be better if only we could get rid of the death panels.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  07:46 PM
  45. How about all the endings of John Grisham novels?

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  07:57 PM
  46. Four Weddings and a Funeral without Andie MacDowell.  Groundhog Day without Andie MacDowell. There’s a theme here.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  08:14 PM
  47. Oaktown Girl, agreed—Jedi needs some pretty major surgery to make it anywhere near perfection, and I’m not at all certain the patient would pull through.  Still, fits the bill for ‘cultural artifact’ doesn’t it?

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  08:24 PM
  48. Much Ado About Nothing without Keanu Reeves.

    Actually just about anything without Keanu Reeves.

    Except perhaps Bill and Ted, which is his best work.

    Posted by Kathy  on  08/07  at  08:29 PM
  49. Four Weddings and a Funeral without Andie MacDowell.  Groundhog Day without Andie MacDowell.

    Yes! Let’s toss in Sex, Lies, and Videotape for the trifecta.
    Also, who’s the wife in Field of Dreams? Better without! (Costner can stay, in that one.)

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  08:44 PM
  50. I agree with Paula—the first thing I thought was how great 4 Weddings and Funeral would have been without Andie MacDowell—so that plus Hugh Grant minus the creepy prostitute action.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  08:50 PM
  51. "Hey Jude” without the last 4 minutes, just a cold stop at ‘make it better.”

    Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away” without the strings.

    Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away” without Robert Plant’s upper octave.

    Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” without the tortured castle metaphor.

    Posted by Gary Oxford  on  08/07  at  08:59 PM
  52. Will it make me incredibly unpopular if I request “L.A. Confidential” without Kim Basinger?  I know she won the Oscar and all, but it always seemed to me that she wasn’t doing anything in the film but being Kim Basinger.

    And not that it would be my favorite film or anything, but since I just saw it, how about Valkyrie without Tom Cruise.  I wonder if he noticed that he was outclassed in every single scene by every single other actor.  I would have been embarrassed to be him.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  09:40 PM
  53. Will it make me incredibly unpopular if I request “L.A. Confidential” without Kim Basinger?

    Yes.  Wildly, wildly unpopular.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/07  at  10:35 PM
  54. Here’s something for all the Hugh Grant Fans.

    Will it make me incredibly unpopular if I request “L.A. Confidential” without Kim Basinger?

    But Marita (and everybody!), the question is, did she “nearly ruin” it for you, or was she merely an irritant? Just checking, because I don’t want to see a long thread of minor irritations. I want to hear about the stuff that made folks nearly “get medieval” on somebody’s ass they were so pissed off. Yeah, that’s the good stuff.

    captcha: personal, as in, this time, it’s

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  10:53 PM
  55. how about physics in the late 80’s without Cold Fusion?

    Posted by David  on  08/07  at  11:03 PM
  56. From TPM: Palin is now out claiming that Obama’s “death panel” might decide to euthanize her Down syndrome baby.

    There’s just no bottom to the lows to which those people will sink. Oooh...Live update: I’m listening to the radio machine right now. News at the top of the hour (8pm Pac time) AP Radio News is reporting that Sarah Palin is calling Obama’s health care reform plan “evil”. So that’s news?

    Needless to say, I think the health care bill would be better if only we
    could get rid of the death panels.

    Sure, we’d all love to see an end to the medical insurance industrial complex.

    home - as in, losing yours to medical bankruptcy

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:07 PM
  57. Fair enough, Oaktown Girl.  Basinger was probably just an irritant.  But she does annoy me every time I see the film, and Michael will just have to live with that.

    Cruise, on the other hand, was worse than that.  I can’t even gauge how well I would have liked the film without him in it (meaning I’m not sure if he ruined it or just made a mediocre film much, much worse), but it’s probably pretty telling that we were actually cheering for Hitler by the halfway point of the film.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  11:07 PM
  58. Cold fusion, David, was actually chemistry.  The whole thing was a blow to chemists’ self-esteem, which is already low - they feel terrible status anxiety compared to physicists.

    As for other things we could do without - how about the last, what?- 20 pages? - of Huckleberry Finn?

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  01:06 AM
  59. The last chapter of E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (the one on humans). I’m actually fine with what he wrote there, as speculative as it is, but a pity to take all the focus away from the outstanding synthesis of much less controversial stuff in the first 25 chapters.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  01:14 AM
  60. Here’s a u-pick-em. Love Story without....

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  02:32 AM
  61. Nutella without calories.

    Television without commercials.

    Comedies without laugh-tracks.

    Work without a commute.

    A commute without other drivers.

    Other drivers without cellphones.

    Cellphones without the constant barrage of petty interruptions. Especially while I’m driving.

    Life without the death of a loved one.

    Faith without religion.

    Excellence without fame.

    Europe without Belgium.

    Sex without disease.

    Orgasms without the feeling of profound emptiness and loss of essence that leads to the fluoridation of water.

    Children without whining.

    Electricity without pollution.

    Government without partisanship.

    Friendship without having to help someone move.

    Art without pretense.

    Radio without repetition.

    Fun without guilt.

    Velcro without that sound.

    Recorded music without live albums.

    Brains without mental illness.

    Doctors Without Borders without Without Borders.

    Men without Men Without Hats.

    Games without frontiers;

    War without tears.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  03:30 AM
  62. Riding the Bus with My Sister without Andie McDowell . . . no, wait . . . Blonde on Blonde without “Temporary Like Achilles”?  I dunno if I’m getting this right.  How about that one Elvis Costello album without that tuneless, tasteless song on side two?

    As for The Long Goodbye:  I quite like the Brackett screenplay’s deconstruction of Philip Marlowe; OTOH, if none of Robert Altman’s movies had endings, it’d be cool, ‘cause they’d go on FOREVER!

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  05:11 AM
  63. There’s just no bottom to the lows to which those people will sink.

    And I think those people would be better if there were a bottom low past which they wouldn’t sink.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  08:34 AM
  64. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament w/o Billy Packer. Worst moment of many such insults to humanity: 1997 finals. Late in the second half on an out of bounds play, Arizona guard Miles Simon makes a crazy-ass improvised shot at the foul line, cross-over double-clutch hang-time, you name it. Fantastic courage and creativity to invent and pull it off at a crucial time. Billy Packer credits the great play coach Lute Olson drew up.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  08/08  at  08:45 AM
  65. Removing Andie MacDowell from The Cinema was my first thought too - add Short Cuts to the list of good films she pollutes. And remove Jon Seda from Homicide while you’re at it.

    Posted by Jason  on  08/08  at  08:52 AM
  66. Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” without the cheesy little spoken-word play in the middle.  Hasn’t aged well.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  08:57 AM
  67. The electric sitar on “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops.  Lose it today!

    And all the cheesy honky-tonk piano playing on Lefty Frizzell’s classic country recordings (not that anybody in this joint appreciates that stuff!)

    In the infinite number of alternate universes science tells us may exist, there is at least one that is identical to our own - except that it lacks those two abominations. 

    I want to go there.

    Posted by RJ Eskow  on  08/08  at  09:13 AM
  68. "Dances with Wolves” without “Dances with Wolves.”

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  09:41 AM
  69. Every Moody Blues album without spoken words.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  09:43 AM
  70. 69 et al raise the question; is there a spoken word part to a song that works? And as I finished typing that question I thought of “Is That All There Is?"—so yes there is. Carry on.

    This thread without this comment.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  10:38 AM
  71. The world without Rod Stewart.

    Posted by Mr. Trend  on  08/08  at  11:30 AM
  72. "the world without Rod Stewart”

    or Grace Slick

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  01:04 PM
  73. The 2005 NCAA final without North Carolina.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  02:03 PM
  74. Every Hugh Grant movie without Hugh Grant.

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s without Mickey Rooney (the horror! the horror!). And without the ending, too.

    Semi-random zither anecdote: as an undergrad I was a projectionist with a student film society that specialized in classic movies. One semester we screened The Third Man, and at the screenings leading up to it we showed one of the original trailers for it. The trailer included a plug for the zither guy, with the immortal line “He’ll have you in a dither with his zither!” It never failed to make the audience howl with laughter.

    Posted by Amanda  on  08/08  at  02:27 PM
  75. us open(tennis) coverage on cbs without dick enberg’s clips with cute narration they show on the final weekend---it’s a month away and i’m already dreading it

    i always start blonde on blonde on track 2----not interested in stoned

    spirit of the beehive w/o showing the monster

    trout mask replica minus “pena”

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  02:49 PM
  76. 70: ...and Laurie Anderson fer chrissakes. I ban myself.

    (also 72, not my world)

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  04:17 PM
  77. We have the technology to do this, too, what with the amazing Epilogue-B-Gon® and the space-age Dezitherer®.

    Hey Michael, my inside sources tell me there’s going to be a coupon in all the Sunday papers tomorrow for a new product called Dezitherizer Plus™. Studies show it works as well as Dezitherer®, but it also contains fumes that help scrub the brain and psyche of all zither-related bad memories - I guess that’s the “Plus” part of it. Sounds like a good bargain, especially in this economy.

    The bad news is that the price of Epilogue-B-Gon® is continuing to go up. Apparently all you Harry Potter fans gobbling up the supply has caused the price to spike.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  04:30 PM
  78. The bad news is that the price of Epilogue-B-Gon® is continuing to go up.

    Oh no, I see the next bubble economy coming…

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  04:50 PM
  79. There are an awful lot of Hollywood movies that would be vastly improved without their final scenes, which often bring about a tortured happy ending in defiance of narrative logic and the integrity of the characters. The one that springs to mind is Something’s Gotta Give, which I think would have been a fine filme if Diane Keaton had ended up with Keanu Reeves (and, if the doctor had been played by someone other than Keanu, perhaps a great film).

    To be fair to Keanu, there were a few roles in which he was not only good, but essential. Bill and Ted and Parenthood would certainly have been worse without him, and the original Matrix would have been much different.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  04:52 PM
  80. Younger Than Yesterday without Mind Gardens

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  05:41 PM
  81. Billy Mays without the cocaine.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  07:30 PM
  82. speaking of Mr. K Reeves, we all would have been better off without the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Possibly the worst remake ever.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  07:50 PM
  83. Literature without Stephenie Meyer

    True Blood without the godawful accents (or, you know, with a dialect coach)

    Mad Men without Sneaky Pete’s rifle: that thing is driving me MAD with the stress of knowing. that. it. is. always. there. somewhere.

    Sokal without the hoax

    A Christmas Carol without all the useless retellings (I’m looking at you, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past)

    Posted by Auntie Maim  on  08/08  at  10:06 PM
  84. American culture without Walt Disney!

    Posted by Hattie  on  08/08  at  11:12 PM
  85. Hattie - right the fuck on! And as I side note, even as a kid, I never liked Mickey Mouse or any of his crew. Never, ever did.

    Posted by  on  08/08  at  11:35 PM
  86. Re: 74b, and passing over 84-85 in silence, The Aristocats without the ten seconds of outright, screaming Rooneyesque racism. There are few Disney movies that don’t have the racism baked in; this one, minus that little song interlude, would be fine. A little surgery, the patient is much improved. Disney DVDs ought to offer you “Racist” and “Non-racist” versions when possible.

    I heard the Amazon Kindle is going to rescind bad parts of your books for you, for a small subscription fee of $79.99.

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  01:18 AM
  87. American culture without Walt Disney!

    OK, but can we keep that sleek Gehry edifice in LA?

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  02:12 AM
  88. ...And lose the polychrome plotz in Seattle?

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  02:21 AM
  89. FearItself - forgot about Parenthood, K. Reeves was indeed excellent in that and can stay. He was an abomination in Dangerous Liaisons, though. My four-month-old kitten would have done better.

    Posted by Kathy  on  08/09  at  07:05 AM
  90. Penn and Teller without Penn.

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  11:51 AM
  91. Literature without Stephenie Meyer

    Fortunately, any Venn diagram including both “Things which are Stephenie Meyer” and “Things which are literature” has no overlap at all.

    Posted by Jason B.  on  08/09  at  12:03 PM
  92. I liked Andie McDowell in Hudson Hawk.

    But then, I would.

    I also think Zooropa is more interesting than Achtung Baby, and I am a lover of the zither.  Hail Moloch.

    I will also defend on one small point the abominable Harry Potter epilogue.  I think Rowling did this for herself, to stamp out the temptation to write more Harry Potters, when she meant to be finished.  I don’t know what would be preferable, needing to excise only a few pages from one’s mind, versus having to slog through a possibly increasingly mediocre second series of books.

    To end, I will say that the recent finale of Battlestar Galactica was a travesty of incalculable proportions.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  08/09  at  12:40 PM
  93. Fortunately, any Venn diagram including both “Things which are Stephenie Meyer” and “Things which are literature” has no overlap at all.

    An excellent point.

    Posted by Auntie Maim  on  08/09  at  12:41 PM
  94. Actually, I always kind of liked Xx is another story.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  08/09  at  12:55 PM
  95. Keanu was quite good in River’s Edge.  or perhaps the role fits his “acting range”.

    Amy Madigan was the wife in Field of Dreams

    How about Ben Stein and freecreditreport.com commercials

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  02:48 PM
  96. "Blood on the Tracks” without “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts.” Especially since “Up to Me” is from those same sessions!

    Elvis without Colonel Parker. 

    The Corrections without the interminable cruise ship storyline.

    Mad Men without the exceedingly silly “stole another man’s identity in the Korean War” storyline.

    Defenses of atheism and criticisms of religion without Christopher Hitchens.

    Incidentally, after the Deathly Hallows came out, the girl I used to babysit for (we need a word for that) and I had a long talk about the intentional fallacy.  She decided that she was allowed to disregard Rowling’s stated outcomes for the characters.

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  07:20 PM
  97. What cultural artifact is nearly ruined for you by just one thing whose removal would enhance your enjoyment of it immensely?

    at this moment?

    pocahantas* sans john smith.

    *matoaka, amonute

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  08:04 PM
  98. sp. pocahontas

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  08:06 PM
  99. BetsyD for the win.

    I think the entirety of Dylan’s corpus, without Lay Lady Lay, comes close to fitting the bill.

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  09:17 PM
  100. oh, fuck no!
    It is not universal. I believe that the zither track on TM adds an eastern european/balkan flavor that the script neglects.
    Millieu baby, millieu.


    Posted by Poicephalus  on  08/09  at  11:38 PM
  101. Buffy without Angel.
    Hollywood without comic books, including graphic novels.
    The Godfather Saga without III.

    Posted by  on  08/10  at  05:55 AM
  102. I’ve been waiting 40 years to get this off my chest. 

    There must be some parallel universe where the classic Star Trek episode “The Galileo Seven” was made without the dippy yoeman woman falling off her seat and crying out “We’re moving!” when the shuttlecraft “Galileo” lifts off Taurus II, landing (the girl, not the spacecraft) in that ever-so-awkward pose in that ever-so-short Starfleet mini-dress.

    It just takes my mind places where I’d just as soon it not go.

    Otherwise, it’s a great episode.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to purge myself of this terrible burden…

    Posted by  on  08/10  at  09:51 AM
  103. You can keep “x” as far as I’m concerned, just get rid of “z"..."thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!”

    Posted by  on  08/10  at  12:37 PM
  104. Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” without the cheesy little spoken-word play in the middle.  Hasn’t aged well.

    What, like “New York—just like I pictured it” hasn’t entered the lexicon?

    And all the cheesy honky-tonk piano playing on Lefty Frizzell’s classic country recordings (not that anybody in this joint appreciates that stuff!)

    I was so into Lefty Frizzell before you were.  Gonna go downtown on Saturday night....

    O-Girl @ 77:  Dezithizer Plus!  I can’t wait to read the fine print about the side effects.  May cause baldness, eczema, and a sudden increase in Rod Stewart, Andie McDowell, and Denise Richards.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/10  at  04:45 PM
  105. What, like “New York—just like I pictured it” hasn’t entered the lexicon?

    No, it was the absurd brevity of the sentence. Not the spoken one. The one the judge handed down.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/10  at  07:15 PM
  106. Psycho without the psychologist’s “explanation” of everything at the end.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  09:34 AM
  107. War and Peace (the novel) without Tolstoy’s tedious reflections on the nature of history.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  09:54 AM
  108. Ohmigosh!
    For years I’ve been saying that the movie -Untouchables_ would be better if we could edit out Kevin Costner’s character. I’ve never seen Bull Durham, but perhaps this is true of every Costner movie.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  11:49 AM
  109. We encounter here the Costner problem in epistemology. There is a debate over whether the unbearable lightness of Costner’s performances in older, otherwise-pretty-good movies is an artifact of hindsight, since we have seen him revealed, unsupported by script or cast, in popcorn movies that only a good actor, or even a good movie star, could have carried. This may color our viewings of early Costner.

    So, are his performances retroactively worse than they used to be? Or is there an objective measure by which they are good, but the present-day observer is biased? Or were they always objectively bad, but the past observer did not have the capacity to recognize their badness in full?

    Dances With Wolves seems to be the turning point; it can be seen as good or bad. I do think it’s a pretty okay movie, but would have been better without the white poeple. Or even if Costner had not shaved. Or even if he had not blow-dried his hair. Mary McDonnel, who was a great space president, just seems miscast, but maybe her performance will be better in retrospect if I ever have to see it again.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  01:19 PM
  110. 108: A movie I struggled with this on is Fandango. It is an uneven build out of a student film that Kevin Reynolds had made, but it really was not partiucalrly “hurt” by Costner (a very early role for him). But when I watched it recently, you could see (or maybe just project) the makings of his future trajectory. The glory of Waterworld, on the other hand, would have been nothing without Costner.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  02:00 PM
  111. Tom, I love the psychiatrist at the end of Psycho.  It’s part of the comedy of the movie--he makes this smug, facile analysis that tries to erase all the horror and weirdness that’s come before, and then the movie cuts to Anthony Perkins with his voiceover as Mother.  As I recall, it’s something about how sonny will convince everyone that “he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  05:25 PM
  112. Lawyerbob:
    Eh, I don’t know.  It just feels like Hitchcock didn’t have confidence that the audience would understand who Norman was and what he was doing, so he had to tell them in detail.  I get that there is still some ambiguity about Norman at the end, and that he still may have “tricked” everyone, but ultimately the explanation DOES erase all the preceding weirdness.  You ought to finish the film still feeling some sympathy for Norman: the whole film is about Hitch playing with his audience and forcing them to transfer their sympathy and attention to a sick murderer immediately after he kills the leading lady. The explanation gives them an “out,” which the best Hitchcock films don’t do (e.g., Vertigo, which implicates the viewer in Scotty’s obsession). Its length is a problem, too: Hitchcock films are so narrative-oriented that they don’t benefit by stopping the action and talking about the plot for the final five minutes.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  08:07 PM
  113. War and Peace (the novel) without Tolstoy’s tedious reflections on the nature of history.

    This occurred to me, too.  I try not to skim the first time through a novel, but W&P was the gravest test of this.  Here we are, following the latest tragic developments in the lives of these families, when hooray, it’s time for page after page of the same authorial argument again.  Yeah, Leo, we get it.  It’s almost enough to make me switch over to Wuthering Heights for the nonstop excitement.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  10:25 PM
  114. mds and christian h. - War and Peace is a lot less tedious in the original Klingon.

    Posted by  on  08/11  at  10:48 PM
  115. I prefer literary ripostes served lukewarm.  Fair balance is paramount these days, dontcha know?

    Posted by  on  08/12  at  03:12 AM
  116. War and Peace is a lot less tedious in the original Klingon.

    Oh, mevyap.*

    (Your reference might be a tad bit obscure, Ms. Girl, since I doubt The Undiscovered Country is big on the viewing lists of this hoity-toity clientele.)

    *Not guaranteed to be authentic.**

    **And no, I didn’t use the Klingon alphabet, either.  What am I, a nerd?

    Posted by  on  08/12  at  09:27 AM
  117. Wow, some of you folks are Wrong.
    One example:

    Recorded music without live albums.

    This is Wrong.

    Posted by  on  08/12  at  01:13 PM
  118. Whole Foods without John Mackey.

    Posted by  on  08/12  at  09:29 PM
  119. Yeah, some may be Wrong, but to point it out would invite bloodshed, and—y’know, it’s arbitrary. That’s why I will not write a word to MDS about Wuthering Heights, even though it is too nonstop excitement and the last half is the best.

    I like to think that there are certain Star Trek lines that are now canonical Cultural Literacy, even for those who have not seen it, like “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a mechanic,” and “Live Long and Prosper” and “beam me up” and “revenge is a dish best served cold” and “. . . in the original Klingon” and “resistance is futile.”

    And, in the original Klingon, Tolstoy’s ten-page digression took about 50 words.

    So . . . there are recording artists that should not use back-up vocals. Neil Young, for instance. “Hey, Hey, My, My” would be a lot better without anyone else echoing “Johnny Rotten!”, and this goes for all of his other songs too. And the Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang” would be better without the “ooh . . . ah.” Basically: classic soul: background vocals; classic rock: no.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  01:08 AM
  120. The Usual Suspects without an ending that negates everything that came before it.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  07:15 AM
  121. That’s why I will not write a word to MDS about Wuthering Heights, even though it is too nonstop excitement and the last half is the best.

    I’ll grant you that the swordfight on top of the madly rushing Hansom cab was pretty good, but I could never get past the use of semaphore code for the dialogue.

    Tolstoy’s ten-page digression

    Which one?  Which is precisely the problem.

    The Usual Suspects without an ending that negates everything that came before it.

    Or, in a similar vein, King Kong was going great until Kong got killed at the end.

    (I don’t have my notes handy, but I seem to recall some sort of highly abstruse technical analysis of The Usual Suspects suggesting that the ending’s retroactive effect was the frelling* point.)

    *I presume that this is still sufficiently obscure to avoid Canonical Literacy.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  09:26 AM
  122. You all know I’m reading Wuthering Heights on the beach, right?  The semaphore code makes more sense here.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/13  at  10:13 AM
  123. I like the Third Man soundtrack. So there.

    Posted by ctterry  on  08/13  at  11:13 AM
  124. The part where Heathcliff tries to throw Young Cathy off the mountaintop to keep her from marrying Young Hareton, and lightning strikes and sets all the trees on fire, and Hareton stops him at the last second, but Heathcliff almost has Hareton beat until Cathy trips him, and Heathcliff falls off the cliff until his wrist is caught by Hareton, who tells him to drop the bag of gold and hold on with both hands, but Heathcliff can’t let go of the gold so his grip loosens and he falls into the abyss where he is eaten by the hyenas he betrayed, well that part was over the top, I admit.

    Oh, sorry Michael . . . I hope I didn’t spoil the story.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  12:11 PM
  125. 121, 123: Actually the book is an extended analogy for what will happen to the country if Barack “Heathcliff” Obama imposes his foreign (where was the swarthy Heathcliff born, huh?) way with our health care. Healthcliff is more like it. What’s scarier than Death Panels? Death Panels of the Moors!

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  12:22 PM
  126. Tom:  I haven’t seen Psycho in a long time, so you may be right.  Your point about Vertigo is spot on--we’re totally absorbed into Scotty’s obsession.  The ending of Vertigo is the opposite of giving the viewer an out. [SPOILER ALERT] We are literally left stranded with him at the edge of the abyss.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  04:16 PM
  127. Good point on background vocals: that would be the way to fix Tom Petty’s “American Girl” too.

    Also, any Neil Young collection which includes “Southern Man” would be the better for its excision.

    Posted by Bill Altreuter  on  08/13  at  04:33 PM
  128. Lord of the Rings without the racism.

    Posted by luo lin  on  08/13  at  04:44 PM
  129. Lord of the Rings without the racism, and WITH Pippin getting squooshed by a rogue oliphant in the first twenty minutes of TFOTR.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/13  at  04:51 PM
  130. Hey now, Chris, without Pippin, Denethor offs Faramir as well as himself, and… Hmmm, I guess the ledger still shows a surplus.

    And while we’re at it, can we condense The Two Towers to something more manageable?  Book IV is almost enough to make me switch over to Wuthering Heights for the nonstop excitement.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  07:40 PM
  131. Moby Dick without the excruciatingly detailed chapters on whaling. I could probably finish reading it if not for 50 pages of recipes for cooking blubber.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  08:32 PM
  132. Moby Dick without all that pesky story. Better to have all digression all the time. Wait, I think that’s called Tristram Shandy.

    Indeed, Lord of the Rings without the inflated pseudo-biblical diction.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  09:14 PM
  133. The 1980’s without Reagan

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  01:57 PM
  134. Van Halen without Halen.

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  07:39 PM
  135. Travis Mcgee books without The Green Ripper, Free Fall in Crimson, or Magnum PI.

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  10:01 PM
  136. Every minute counts.

    Posted by 超声波清洗  on  08/15  at  01:49 AM
  137. Van Halen without Halen.

    Hell, yes. I hate all that excellent guitar playing, and the steady drumming pisses me off. What I’m really concentrating on is the lyrical brilliance, Dave and Sammy’s vocal prowess, and Michael Anthony’s hypnotic bass mastery.

    Wait . . . what?

    Posted by Jason B.  on  08/15  at  12:13 PM
  138. Kinda like The Beachboys without the harmonies.

    Posted by  on  08/15  at  01:04 PM
  139. Van Halen without Halen.

    Wait . . . what?

    Um, I might be misinterpreting fardels bear, but here’s a possible hint, Mr. B:  count how many people named “Halen” are in Van Halen.

    Posted by  on  08/15  at  07:53 PM
  140. Okay, I’ll play that game.

    How many people in Van Halen are named “Van?”

    Nope--still doesn’t make sense. What are you talking about?

    My guess is you’re misinterpreting Mr. bear.

    Posted by Jason B.  on  08/16  at  02:15 AM
  141. hi , Thanks for provide information .Many professionals who already have a bachelor’s degree are turning to distance learning MBA programs in order to get their master’s in business on their own time or while working a job that may be very demanding.

    Posted by education  on  08/17  at  07:22 AM
  142. According to certain Democrats, health insurance reform without a public option. Because 60 votes in the Senate is so last year.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  10:23 AM
  143. Well, Christian, as Kent Conrad explained, a bill needs 67 votes in the Senate, and seven of them must be from Republicans.  It’s right there in the Constitution.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/17  at  10:47 AM
  144. Well, Christian, as Kent Conrad explained, a bill needs 67 votes in the Senate, and seven of them must be from Republicans.

    And since Kent Conrad has also signaled that he won’t vote for a public option, and will probably be joined by at least Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and the Baucus Himself (going by number of suitcases stuffed with cash received from insurance lobbyists), we’d actually need eleven Republican votes.  Perhaps we could trick Tom Coburn by whispering that the mandatory euthanasia would only apply to ethnic minorities and gay people.

    What cultural artifact is nearly ruined for you by just one thing whose removal would enhance your enjoyment of it immensely?

    Joking around with this premise using a deliberately nonsensical band name example, without the people who announce their inability to get the joke.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  11:19 AM
  145. 143: Violating the “never bring an earnest comment to a snark fight” rule, I wish someone would then ask Mr. Conrad, “Do you think that a public option is so evil that it does not even deserve an up-or-down* vote in the Senate? How would you vote on cloture and why?”. Fine, don’t vote for the bill you misguided twit if you think you need the political cover, but let it come to the floor. Eff the horse-race obsessed media.

    *Hate the term, but might as well go with the vernacular.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  12:13 PM
  146. Well, Christian, as Kent Conrad explained, a bill needs 67 votes in the Senate

    Or: California is everywhere. Sigh.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  12:22 PM
  147. Joking around with this premise using a deliberately nonsensical band name example, without the people who announce their inability to get the joke.

    Also, meta-snark without the meta-meta-snark.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  12:24 PM
  148. What is this “cloture” of which you speak, JP Stormcrow?  Everything I read in the print media or hear from television news states that legislation requires sixty votes in the Senate.  (With the little-noticed proviso from Article VIII referred to in 142, that barring sixty-seven Senate votes, any progressive policy openly campaigned on by the winner of a presidential election is to be blocked by incoherent shrieking from the craziest wing of the losing side.)

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  12:29 PM
  149. Also, meta-snark without the meta-meta-snark.

    Oh, now it’s war again, Professor h.  Nested recursive snark makes everything better.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  12:32 PM
  150. As trivial as this might be, any movie containing Hugh Grant would be vastly improved by the negation of his hideous presence.

    Posted by jazzbumpa  on  08/17  at  08:45 PM
  151. Surrealism without the Lutherans.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  08/17  at  11:13 PM
  152. I beg to differ - the signature bit of the Third Man soundtrack “The Harry Lime theme” is spot on perfect as it keeps changing subtly each time it is heard, getting creepier and creepier as we learn more and more about what a rotten shit Harry Lime appears to have been.

    Star Wars without ewoks (Wookies would be good, poison-spitting lizard-men even better)

    The United States Constitution without the second amendment

    television news without bimbo newsreaders (of either sex)

    The New York Times without Ross “I would do anything for love, but I won’t” Douthat

    Posted by rev.paperboy  on  08/18  at  05:54 AM
  153. and while I’m at it:

    Ray Charles without strings or lame vanilla/white bread choirs (as per his version of “Take These Chains from My Heart” and “You Don’t Know Me")

    the only singers who should back up Ray Charles are the Raylettes.

    Posted by rev.paperboy  on  08/18  at  06:00 AM
  154. Re 120:


    I would be happy to discuss The Ususal Suspects if you would be so kind as to rephrase your comments so as to eliminate, say, 50-75% of the assholiocity.

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  08:46 AM
  155. Tootsie without the pop music.

    Robocop without the shootout in the drug factory.

    The Motor-Booty Affair without “Aqua Boogie”.

    Posted by  on  08/21  at  11:10 PM
  156. Stop Making Sense without City of Dreams

    Posted by  on  08/22  at  11:53 PM





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