The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, November 13, 2003  

Sloppy Italian Language Dialogue, Shopping at Target (Again),
and Paper-Towel Designs

I can’t remember exactly when, but at least a year ago I ran across several references to some jottings by one James Lileks about odd culinary dishes and trends, all of which eventually or perhaps already had been churned turned into a book. For the most part, Lileks’s doodlings on this subject were rather amusing, and I recall having sent friends and colleagues a link to this material.

Now that I think about it, this likely happened more than a year ago because I launched The Rittenhouse Review in April 2002 and included Lileks’s site, “The Bleat” (which may or may not have anything to do with sheep and lambs), on the original blogroll here. Readers will notice that the link to Lileks has vanished. Unusually astute readers, of which I can only assume there are few, may recall that the link was deleted a long time ago.

Why? Because Lileks is tiresome. A bore. Overrated. Repetitive. Pedestrian. And off the subject of unusual gastronomic offerings, entirely not funny.

When it comes to geopolitics, foreign policy, defense policy, politics, the Bush administration, Islam, American Muslims, shopping at Target, and relaying the latest oh-so-cute foibles of his clearly insufferable, but thoroughly innocent (I think!) offspring, well, Lileks is just plain awful. And that’s an assessment that it would appear, from my own casual web browsing, a growing number of thoughtful people share with me.

If you hurry over to “The Bleat” right now (As if!) you’ll find this offering:

Neinte [sic]. Mi scusi [sic]. Domani? Molto [sic] grazie.

Huh? An inside joke perhaps. Frankly, who cares?

Now, I don’t know if, as Lileks says, Michael Moore can translate those four “sentences,” scribbled in elementary -- and faulty -- textbook Italian, into English, but I can:

Nothing. [Ed.: Misspelled. Lileks meant to write “Niente.”] Excuse me. [Ed.: Grammatically incorrect, and I think Lileks deployed this phrase, mistakenly, to mean “Forgive me.”] Tomorrow? Thanks a lot. [Ed.: Yet another error. Lileks presumably intended to write “Molte grazie.”]

Aren’t you glad I was able to do that for you? I know it was just killing you, along with the fact that Lileks won’t be posting to “The Bleat” until Friday. Can you stand it?

And in case you missed it, Lileks yesterday posted yet another pathetic essay, this one running to nearly 1,500 words -- a degree of brevity and restraint to which Steven “Shut-In Von Clausewitz” den Beste can only dream of aspiring -- about the infamous-and-probably-not-too-happy-about-it-after-she-learns-to-read Gnat and their latest visit to, you guessed it, Target, where they, or at least James, shopped for, if you can believe it, a specially patterned roll of paper towels.

Lileks was looking for towels with a Thanksgiving theme. For God’s sake, why? Other than the lonely and insane (mostly) women who write bizarre notes to Heloise, who does this? Gee whiz, does this guy need a life, or what? Or an editor? Or a career coach?

What’s most remarkable, or maybe not, is that Lileks is revered, absolutely worshipped, by a motley crew of right-wing bloggers who wouldn’t give the time of day to Lileks’s fellow Minnesotan, Garrison Keillor (and, frankly, I’m with them on that), a man almost as unbearable as Lileks.

I can only surmise that such types as these really are interested in shopping Target for the best, the most appropriate, paper towels for the season, or they’re just so desperate to be part of the “in crowd,” such as it is, that they’ll gratefully and enthusiastically accept anyone into their little ersatz Chess Club who falls in line with their latest geopolitical fabrications and delusions.

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