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The need not to know

I remarked the other day on Twitter and Facebook, “I find myself operating more and more on a need-not-to-know basis.” Let me flesh that out a little.

I am on a permanent need-not-to-know setting for the entire Kardashian family, their retainers, minions, and devotees.

For similar reasons, I do not require further information about the squalid career arc of Lindsay Lohan. I already have Scott Fitzgerald as a cautionary example, and a more interesting one, of youthful promise blighted.

With luck, it will now be several months before Tim Tebow is much talked about again. No particular animus here—he seems like a serious and devout and athletic young gentleman. It’s just that ostentatious public displays of piety are not to my taste.

Neither, apparently, to the Founder’s (Matthew 6:5-6).

It’s nice that you are cooking a tasty dinner for yourself or the family, but unless you are prepared to divulge recipes or cookery techniques, I do not need to be informed on Facebook.

The same with what you’re drinking, unless you’re buying.

What anyone wore on the red carpet.

Public non-apology apologies (“I’m sorry if I offended anyone”) can be dispensed with as a waste of time, attention, and breath.

I am fairly sure that there is no information I need in any online top-x-number list that demands a separate page view for each item to jack up the site’s page view count.

Make that any top-x-number list.

As you have likely concluded from previous posts, published fulminations about how the Young People/Twitter/slang/whatnot are “destroying the language” may be safely ignored. And should be.

Peeves. I have little or no interest in your pet peeves. Probably you have no interest in mine, which makes this post something for your need-not-to-know list.



Posted by John McIntyre at 12:11 PM | | Comments (17)


I actually resent the fact that all sorts of need-not-to-know info has made its way into my brain with no intention on my part. Why is it I know as much as I do about the Kardashians? Or can name all 4 women - both characters and actors - in "Sex and the City"? Or that Natalie Portman has a son named Aleph? I wish I had better control over the lumber that clutters up my brain. I'm sure it's pushing out more important things.

Trouble is, squire, that you DO need to know this stuff. Otherwise you can't satisfactorily edit or decide the merit of stories that refer to them. I've no idea who these Kardashians are (is it a breed of sheep?) but you sure as hell need to know.

When I escaped the madhouse of newspaper journalism and found myself in the panopticon of newspaper production, what made it all worthwhile, what reduced my alcohol intake and left me sleeping soundly despite the deadlined horrors of the next day, was the knowledge that I no longer needed to know the tripe that was in that day's Sun or Mirror or News of the World or Mail or Express, or the plots and characters of the soaps, or the latest talentless twit on the talent shows.

No such luck for you, Mr McIntyre, I'm afraid.

Picky wrote "I've no idea who these Kardashians are (is it a breed of sheep?)"
Time out for a ladylike snort.


Hmm....... and here I thought a Kardashian was a native of the tiny Eurasian country of Kardasianistan? You know, that little country bordering on 'Kurkmanajamabobamaramawhateverstan' that former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, for some strange reason, could not remember. (Although he was able to memorize whole passages from The Pokeman Movie, and incorporate some of them, word-for-word, into his political hustings speeches. Go figure.)

Aah...........Kardashianistan, where their young women tend to display a rather distinctive, exotic, raven-haired beauty, wear way too much makeup, exhibit bodacious derrieres and ample bosoms, have very limited vocabularies, have a penchant for wild partying into the wee hours, and fancy frequent carnal bliss, preferably w/ studly black males*.

Frankly Dahlink, I've about reached my ultimate threshold of infotainment consumption, yet ironically, like when eye-witnessing a horrible car crash and it's difficult to just completely look away from the carnage, it's equally as hard to entirely shut out this incessant flow of pop-culture media dreck from our lives. It's everywhere, 24/7.

For instance, my Yahoo! home page is obviously squarely aimed at a target audience 'demo' of mid-teen-to-maybe-late-20-year-olds, judging by the ever-changing "NOW TRENDING" sidebar index, where maybe 8-of-the-10 trending items pertain to either some pop star's current travails, or triumphs, some sport's figure's recent exploits (on or off the field of play), those valuable lifestyle/ health tips, or the latest YouTube video, say of a trained squirrel playing Mozart on a mini-toy piano, with its little back feet no less. (I made that one up. HA!) But hopefully you feel my pain.

Actually, I'm heartened that our online pal Picky has nary a clue as to what a Kardashian is. A breed of sheep is as good a guess as any, I suppose.

Alas, like a herd of compliant, dimwitted sheep, many of us avid media watchers have sadly become seduced by the sleaze-and-tease of those admittedly comely Armenian-American sisters-of-privilege, following their every misstep and public embarrassment, almost celebrating w/ glee their cumulative tabloidized humiliations; wondering how-in-hades these women have generated a virtual celebrity cottage industry; raking in mega-bucks by just being their shallow, cosmetically-enhanced, talentless selves. Who knew banal reality paid so handsomely?

As they say....... "Only in Hollywood".

*Re/ the young Kardashian taste for men-of-color, I'm merely stating a fact borne out by their romantic relationship history, to date. No racial bias intended.


P.S.: ----Picky, at least you have Dame Edna. (Well technically an Aussie-born broad/ dude. HA!) I'm pretty certain Herman Cain didn't grope her....... but you never know. A little birdie told me that Dame Edna likes her pizza w/ EVERYTHING on it, but hold the sausage. (Oh behave!)

Oh, Picky, how I envy you....

I wish to know nothing about almost everything in the so-called Popular Culture - and, Picky, sheep are more interesting, use less make-up and are more useful than any of the Ks.Happy New Year, Lord Pick.

Happy New Year, Miss Terse, and I'm afraid I largely agree. Among the more interesting television personalities at present are the border collies on One Man and His Dog (the sheep are a little less interesting). Do you have televised sheepdog trials in the US, or is that too ridiculous?

... although I must admit to having welcomed Popular Culture into the home in the past week in the form of the last episode of the latest series of Sherlock, and the first episode of the latest series of Time Team. And I have a regular assignation with the weather forecast.


I can kinda sense you aren't a complete popular culture 'agnostic', but do tend to be quite picky (very apt) re/ what entertainment content is allowed to filter into your consciousness.

Sadly, so much of this 'pop culture' schlock is delivered to us accompanied by those infernal advertisements, and annoying, repetitive commercials; unless one has the luxury of a DVR, or TIVO-ing device where one can prerecord one's favorite shows and merely fast-forward thru the recorded commercial pitch bits.

Now technically, I wouldn't classify your "regular assignations with the weather forecast" as falling in the realm of pop culture (More of a daily necessity, or habit, I'd argue.); although here in America we have some TV weather reporter folks who fancy themselves as on-air comedians. Here in L.A. we have our rather nerdy, bespectacled veteran NBC weather guy, Fritz Coleman, who actually occasionally moonlights as a professional standup comic. Who knew 'weather' could be funny?

Fritz goes : ---"Did you hear the one about 'Offshore' Flo and Cuttoff Low sauntering into a Manhattan Beach bar.............." and so it goes. (OK, i'll stick to my day job.... if I had one. HA!)

TV weather reportage out here in the highly competitive Hollywood/ L.A. market also attracts a large demographic of males-of-our-species; particularly when the weather gal is runway, or bikini-model-gorgeous. Lets just say the meteorological 'fronts' aren't the sole 'projections' most guys are tuning in for. Our popular Spanish language stations employ bevies of stunningly attractive, young, and sexy on-air news personnel from anchors to regular weather reporters. It's very clear that they are selling much more than 'hard' news w/ these broadcasts. But I digress.

Picky, we do have something here in the U.S. that has some affinity to your "televised sheep breeding trials', but sadly it's only a two day televised affair, which is actually coming up very soon (Feb.13th -14th) in New York City. It's the annual Westminster (Kennel Club) Dog Show from Madison Square Garden, NYC, and has been contested since 1877----the second-longest-running continuous annual sporting event in America, save the famed Kentucky Derby, which debuted two years earlier in 1875.

Apparently this year the Westminster show will have some 185 breeds and 'varieties', w/ six first-time breeds entering the judging ring this time round. The lucky newbies include:

----the American English Coonhound (Hound group),

----the Cesky Terrier (Terrier Group)

----the Entlebucher Mountain dog (Herding Group)

----the Finnish Lapphund (Herding group)

----the Norweigian Lundehund (Non-sporting Group)

----the Xoloitcuintli (or Mexican Hairless--the national pooch of Mexico)

This whole dog lovers extravaganza will be televised on both the USA Network and cable's CNBC. With the sheer love, and compassion of Americans (and Canadians, I might add) for their dogs, millions of folks from around the continent, and I dare say the globe, will be tuning in to this annual grand pooch fest.

It's always fun for the viewer to try to speculate who will win the coveted prize of "Best In Show" *, yet for most dog enthusiast I would imagine just taking in the competition, judging and actual showing of each dog is enough to keep one glued to the fast-moving proceedings. You can also pick up a lot of doggie 'facts' as a keen observer.

As I recall last year's all-round 'best' was a kind of outwardly fairly ordinary looking, smallish dog (I forget which breed), yet appeared to score a lot of points w/ the judges on personality, or as they say, pooch charisma. He must have displayed strong key diagnostic breed markers, as well. It appeared as though he was a popular choice, nonetheless.

In my books all those beautiful creatures competing out there are winners.

*Picky, i recommend a very funny mockumentary film that came out in theaters maybe ten years back, titled, "Best In Show"; a clever spoof of the whole serious, emotion-wrought dog competition scene, and the various eccentric, and totally driven characters the 'sport' appears to attract. It's a real hoot.


Ah, no, Alex, what I'm talking about is not that sort of competition (yep, we have those, too) but sheepdog trials, where different border collies and their handlers try to manoeuvre a mob of sheep around various hurdles and through various gates and into various pens, losing points when things go awry. Very popular in the hill farm country of these islands. Makes weirdly good television, too.

Picky, I trust the contestants have better herding instincts than Gabriel Oak's sheepdog did in _Far from the Madding Crowd_.


I kind of got the gist, right away, of what you were describing in your initial post regarding that sheepdog trials reality show. Just thought I'd give the folks a little heads-up on the upcoming Westminster Dog Show, 'tis all.*

However, dear Sir, I noticed that I thoroughly misquoted you in my last post, referring to your favorite sheepdog herding trials 'reality' show, quite inexplicably, as your "televised sheep breeding trials". (Say what?)

Hmm ...... now come to think of it, that could be a real winner of a TV reality series, no? Chronicling the sophisticated courtship behavior of studly, macho rams, doing battle, horn-to-horn, w/ their challenging male rivals, fighting for his eventual harem of comely, and receptive ewes. And then, of course, the filming of the coital bliss of sheepish sexual union that would ensue, surely shot w/ ultimate discretion, since the show would likely air on Animal Planet.

I say if sexologist Alex Comfort could come up w/ several fully illustrated iterations of his "Joy of Sex", decades ago, I think it's high time we bring the panoply of beasties out of the closet, and celebrate the 'intimate' lives of our so-called lesser brethren of the animal kingdom.

What say you, Picky? (A little too out there for your tastes?)

Picky, we might want to draw the line at elephants........ and whales. (Definitely no 3-D there.) Although realistically, actually catching a pair of whales, on-camera, doing the-wild-thing is about as likely as the current rank-and-file GOP members agreeing to fairly tax the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Just sayin'.

*Picky, my girlfriend and I had a wild, unforgettable experience watching amazing Aussie sheepdogs do their thing, 'down-under', on a ranch on Kangaroo Island (off of Adelaide,), back in 1993. These truly brilliant, lively, and athletic dogs demonstrated their astute herding skills by quickly rustling maybe 80-some sheep from pasture into a small corral. After they had completed their task, they jumped up on the backs of the compactly gathered sheep, and walked about like they were on terra firma. It was truly a sight to see.

Ta! Ta!


There tend to be few cliff edges at the trial grounds, happily, Laura Lee. Anyway, most collies have more sense! I suppose any dog, finding itself unfortunately in a Hardy novel, would feel obliged to bring on a bit of misery.

Laura Lee,

Perhaps you're thinking of the more obscure lemming herding trails, where cliffs definitely would come into play. A little birdie told me Animal Planet is working on a pilot for such a series? (Naturally, the lemmings aren't too enthused. And there's nothing amusing about an irate lemming. When provoked, they can be nasty little buggers.)

But seriously, do you recall a number of years back there were a couple of very cute TV commercials w/ the theme of domestic cat herding, and then a sequel involving squirrel wrangling? Clearly a lot of CGI/ photoshopping was involved in creating the fairly convincing illusion that these hardened, saddle-warn cowpokes were actually trying to rustle up these free-range varmints; just as they would cattle, w/ lassoes and all.

The ensuing aprês-herding campfire-side conversation amongst the warn-out cowboys was priceless, as they vented their collective frustrations in not being able to catch all the rogue cats and squirrels. But their delivery was kept deadpan serious.

As is often the case w/ a great commercial spot, for the life of me I can not recall what enterprise/ company was pitching this ad. Seems like it may have been a financial planning outfit, but can't say for sure. Very funny concept, nonetheless.

Hope all is well w/ you and yours, Laura.


There is always some obligatory misery in Hardy, isn't there Picky.

Alex, I'm afraid I don't recall the ads you're referring to, but then I've watched very little TV in the past few years. Other than Mad Men.

Laura Lee, I hope you don't have to wait too much longer for the return of Mad Men!

As to Hardy's "obligatory misery"--spot on, as usual.

Laura Lee,

Aah, you're a woman after my own heart. I too am a huge Mad Men fan, and was heartened a few weeks back when the show's dashing leading man, actor Jon Hamm cleverly let the cat-out-of-the-bag re/ the premiere date of the upcoming 5th season at some TV trade-show in Pasadena CA. .

The inordinately long hiatus between season four and five (apparently a span of some 525 days), will finally end on March 25th w/ a two-hour-long premiere episode, airing as usual, on the cable/ AMC network. The buzz is that Jon Hamm will be directing (or has already?) the season five, 2nd episode.

For me, and I'm sure other Mad Men 'Meniacs' out there, this last break felt like the show hadn't aired SINCE the '60s, the era in which the show takes place. Frankly, I was a little perplexed at how Mad Men even qualified for consideration in several categories for last years Emmys, since it had been missing-in-action for so darn long. Yet the suave and debonair Jon Hamm was still up their vying for best actor in a continuing dramatic series. (Of course, he didn't win the coveted prize, although that Cranston guy from "Breaking Bad" missed out on garnering his 4th straight trophy in the category. Go figure.)

Laura, I did a little followup research on those hilarious cat and squirrel commercials I mentioned in my earlier post, and discovered they were run by an enterprise called EPS, who boast that they manage "the complexities of today's digital economy".

I didn't realize these commercials initially ran over a decade ago, and the initial "Running With the Squirrels" bit premiered on the 2001 Super Bowl telecast. This was a clever parody of the famous annual Running of the Bulls spectacle in Pamploma, Spain, and was apparently, for authenticity sake, shot in the Basque country of Spain.

For some reason my vague recall of the commercials had conflated the followup cat wrangling one w/ the squirrel spoof, but my 'research' proved that it was only the free-range cats that actually involved hardened cowboys. Oh well.

Heres the YouTube rendition of the cat rustling commercial:;_ylu=X3oDMTE0ZWFocWljBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA3NrMQR2dGlkA1FJMDI2XzE4OQ--/SIG=120h1p405/EXP=1327704577/**http%3a//

Laura, I've always been partial to Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge", although I don't recall any sheepdogs stealing the limelight in that one. HA!



In my last post that should have read EDS, not "EPS"----- the company that ran those engaging cat and squirrel-themed TV commercial spots some years ago.

The YouTube video attachment I posted, incorrectly labeled the title of their video, using "EPS", and I failed to catch it before I posted. Oh well.

Frankly, I don't even know if these EDS folks are still around; what w/ the heavy attrition in business-related .coms, since the fallout from the grand economic implosion of 2008?


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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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