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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Hatin on Palin

"Palin Derangement Syndrome has reached epidemic proportions among the left in America. People are really going insane. The condition is chronic, with acute flare ups. In Madison, Wisconsin, the SWAT team had to be called in because a man went nuts when Bristol Palin wasn't voted off 'Dancing with the Stars.' Seriously. He shot his television before turning the gun on his wife. Lucky for her she escaped unharmed.

"The TV shooter isn't the only one upset about 'DWTS.' There have been wild accusations of conservatives of rigging the vote, and the media is paying attention. Too bad they don't have as much curiosity about real voter fraud in America. (We should go easy on the media, they too are afflicted.)

"Lefties are in a tizzy because of some things the Palin girls wrote on their facebook pages. Who, but the deranged, spends time reading teenagers' facebook postings? ... It's very sad, as there is no cure in sight. As long as Sarah Palin and her family are happy, leftists everywhere will continue to suffer from this mentally debilitating disease."

- "Karen," writing on "Palin Derangement Syndrome has Reached Epidemic Proportions" on Nov. 17 at her blog Lonely Conservative

Marshmallow music

"John Coltrane, [Thelonius] Monk's most famous collaborator during his Five Spot residency, recalled that playing with Monk was 'like falling down an elevator shaft.' One misstep, one lost measure, and you were flailing with no help on the way. And when Monk wasn't letting his sidemen flounder, he was leading them with an insistence that sometimes felt too fierce. '[Monk's] comping was so strong [when he was] playing his own music,' [Johnny] Griffin noted, 'that it's almost like you're in a padded cell.'

"The 'padded cell' is a telling metaphor, not only because Monk's music seems to evoke a self-enclosed world, with its own telltale harmonies and rhythms, but also because Monk spent stretches of his later life in mental-health institutions. Indeed, observers of all stripes have puzzled over the link between Monk's unconventional music and his personal dissociation from everyday norms. ...

"Elaborating on the padded cell, Griffin found a more surreal image: Monk's music was so "overwhelming" that expressing oneself within it was like "trying to break out of a room made of marshmallows."

- Scott Saul, writing on "Off Minor," in the September/October issue of the Boston Review

Joy of sex

"When I first saw 'Blue Velvet' back in 1986, I actually felt kind of bad for Isabella Rossellini. Her performance was brilliant, but I always suspected that she was the sole sane person in a cast and crew of perverts and sociopaths. Maybe she didn't know exactly what she was getting into until it was too late, and being the consummate professional, she didn't protest when asked, as the 'Guardian' so eloquently described it in a movie review, to submit to 'a myriad of indignities.'

"Twenty-four years later, the now 58-year-old actress is the star, writer, and co-director (with Jody Shapiro) of 'Seduce Me,' a series of online shorts created for the Sundance Channel about the sexual proclivities of animals. Last August, her strangely erotic take on bedbug [sex] went viral, thanks to a perfectly timed bedbug epidemic in New York City. ... It was a moment when many of us realized that Blue Velvet might not have been entirely a product of David Lynch's twisted imagination."

- Eric Spitznagel, writing on "Isabella Rossellini Does Not Want You to Have Sex With Animals" on Nov. 18 at Vanity Fair

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