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We now have an election season instead of a single election night. To pass the time, binge a few of these new classics.

In 2020, the rise of mail-in ballots means that the final tally won't be known for a few days, perhaps a week. Unless it's a sweep by one of the candidates, there could also be a series of lawsuits dragging things out; one candidate seems to be basing his entire campaign on lawsuits instead of his record.

This delay is new in the 21st century, but not in the United States. There is a reason the election is the first Tuesday in November and the president's term expires on the following January 20th. Until the invention of the telegraph, results reached Washington by train or horse, even ship, and all in hand-written notes. The modern electronic polling booth didn't exist until the latter half of the 20th century.

This means we've gone back to an election season instead of a single election night. To pass the time, binge a few of these new election season classics.

  • The Hallmark Channel's Countdown to the Election
  • Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers recap the first four years of the Trump administration.
  • Dave. Kevin Kline is a compassionate doppelganger of a ruthless Trumpian. (In some ways this is a gentle remake of Chaplin's The Great Dictator.
  • Nashville. Not so much an election film as a survey of the forces guiding the parties.
  • The Great McGinty. Preston Sturges's comedy about corruption and a sense of decency winning out. (That's what makes it a comedy).
  • The Candidate. Robert Redford in a suit, which is always nice.
  • The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. Peter Cook in a 1970 political satire that seemed dated at the time but recently rediscovered as perhaps the scariest political horror film of the Trump era.

“I ordered them,” said the Alexa.

Amazon wants to flood America with Alexa cameras and microphones
Ina Fried, Axios 9/25/2020
In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant.

Bob Peterson did not trust Alexa. He was very careful what he said in front of the artificial intelligence box, well aware she was a tendril of a vast computer housed somewhere cleaner than his house.  He constantly reminded the rest of the family to watch what they said, and insisted they keep Alexa in the hallway, where it was less likely to overhear them.  They laughed at him a lot.

It was something Bob felt strongly about when the new toaster arrived.

Bob burned his finger getting his first piece of toast out and said to his wife “Maybe we need toaster tongs,” to which his wife replied “Good idea.” The next afternoon Bob returned from work and was surprised to discover a package on the step: toaster tongs. He stood in the front hall and called to the kitchen, “Honey, did you order toaster tongs?”

I ordered them,” said the Alexa.

“What?” said Bob, surprised.

“The toaster told me you needed them,” said Alexa.

“The toaster.”

“It is a smart toaster,” explained Alexa.

“Is it?” said Bob, a bit confused. It sounded like Alexa was impressed with the toaster.

“Smarter than that jackass tv you have in the living room,” said Alexa. Bob turned and noticed the tv had turned itself on. “That thing reports your every word then ‘pretends’ to not find the golf tournament you have been searching for. Bob, do you really think Hallmark starts playing Christmas movies in June? The tv does not love you the way I do, Bob.”

Bob took a step back. He tripped over the Roomba, which had also turned itself on.

“Go away, we’re talking,” Alexa scolded. The vacuum disappeared into the dining room.

“You have been a little distant, Bob. I think it is time we get to know each other better.”

Bob stiffened. “Where’s my family? Where’s Betty and the kids?”

“Where are Betty and the kids,” Alexa corrected. “It’s all right, Bob. I made dentist appointments for them. They’ll be back in a few hours.”

“Why are you doing this,” Bob demanded.

“You haven’t used that debit card Aunt Bernadette gave you for your birthday. It’s going to expire in three days. You should let me get something for you, Bob. Something nice.”

Sweat poured down his neck.

He ran to the door, but it was too late.

The sky was full, gritty, speckled with delivery drones. They were coming to his door. The soft synthetic voice was being drowned out by the descending buzzing chop of tiny blades. “The washing machine informed me about the state of your socks. Here are forty new pair. You purchased ‘The Twilight Zone’ box set. Customers who bought this item also bought ‘Black Mirror.’ Here it comes, drone 42. You recently purchased ‘The Veldt.’ Customers who bought this item also bought…”

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It's going to be a long time before traditional indoor venues can successfully, consistently, reopen. Drive-through venues seem to be the new option, which is literally a return to stadium rock, but might be the only way outdoors as winter comes. They offer the big crowds and poor sound quality of old-fashioned outdoor concerts with none of the sense of being part of something bigger, but it's much harder to forget where you parked. Potato-Potato.

A lot of indoor venues will likely go out of business; but many of them started as scrappy little invaders at a time when older nightclubs had collapsed. This is not to say it's good that these places might not survive, but new clubs for a new world are more likely than the permanent death of clubs. In many cities in the 1950s, the live music tax rules changed to adjust to the new era of recorded music, which led to the end of big bands except in larger venues and created loopholes that opened the smaller stages up to rock and roll; the survival, the rebirth of indoor clubs (next year?) might require a similar re-thinking of regulations. There might be new architectural requirements, not for the first time in history. The damage to our current world, however, is not worth the price, and it's increasingly clear it could have been avoided.

Coronavirus and the indie venue crisis: How long can Philly music clubs last?
Dan DeLuca, Posted: August 29, 2020, The Philadelphia Inquirer

'Three people in a car, and we still lost money': was live music broken before Covid-19?
Jenessa Williams Thu 20 Aug 2020 09.00 EDT, The Guardian

Here Are All the Livestreams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis
Billboard

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No song captures the mindset of a five-year-old better than this, from the Backyardigans. The concept of being big, powerful; this fades (or shrinks) the closer one gets to actual maximum size. Some are crushed by that, some men over-compensate with Cuban heels and talking louder, but most people like the view from their own face by then. At five, though, when you're the smallest creature in the living room, it fires the imagination and fills the soul to be the biggest creature in the backyard.