Saturday, May 30, 2009


Thanks for mentioning my millennial list in your hilarious column. The Milennium Book, as you recall, was published in 1991; just think of the '90s bad ideas we didn't get to include. The living hell that was the dial-up Internet connection – a rotten idea that could very well have made the list, had we but known.

In fact, re-reading it in the harsh light of the present, not to mention your Early Bird Edition of our new millennium’s worst ideas (and I couldn’t agree with you more about reality television, btw; nothing against schadenfreude, but it's just not enough), I’d say the list needs some tweaking.

I’ll stand by Chamberlain’s appeasement, trial by fire or water (can we include water-boarding here?), foot binding, flagellants, the ontological proof of the existence of god, trench warfare and scientific creationism. They were and, imho, still are, a bunch of bad, bad ideas.

But wine in a box need not be bad at all, especially if you’re willing to pay more than you think you ought to pay for wine in a box. I don’t like the fact that you can’t see how much wine is left in the box you're drinking from, which can lead to drinking more than one thought one might, followed by suddenly and horribly running out of wine. Still, there are worse things in the world: hazelnut flavored coffee, for instance, or Bud Light Lime, or all flavored coffees and light beers, for that matter. And I’m only considering beverages.

And what's sociology doing on the list? What was I thinking?

Finally, my view of French mime has undergone turbulence and, finally, a sea change, especially since last week’s auction of items from Marcel Marceau’s estate, the proceeds from which from which went to retire the considerable debt Marceau left at the time of his death in 2007 -- as if anyone need further proof that mime is not an easy gig.

But in an age in which political correctness and fear of violent revenge have rendered the traditional targets of ridicule and abuse -- people weaker, poorer, or sometimes simply different from ourselves -- strictly off limits, mime has been there for us all.

No matter your color, creed or station in life, everyone can make fun of mimes. And many do. And do, and do again. And that's a good thing.

And yet.

Without mime, Shields and Yarnell would’ve had to retrain and Bill Irwin probably wouldn’t be so slim.

Besides, how annoying is mime, really? Compared to, say, Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals or Quentin Tarantino movies, it’s not even close.

Mimes of the world, pardonez-moi.