The Cold War is back and better than ever, but the Internet was a barrage of Oscar news Monday morning, most notably Liza Minnelli. Does it count as sexual harassment if Liza Minnelli sports a blue pants suit without underwear to the Oscars and I have to look at it, even if I don't want to?
I haven't watched the Oscars in years and years, but for some reason, I'm forced to look at Liza.
Is this just a consequence of allowing the Internet into my own home?
First fact: No, I really haven't watched the Oscars in a long, long time. I can't even tell you what is nominated year to year. I don't really care. You can imagine this is an annual problem for me the morning after the Oscars, when every news item seems to be about Oscar minutiae.
Second fact: I don't even think Liza Minnelli was an attractive woman when she was younger, although Cabaret is an excellent movie. But her mother gives me rashes.
Third fact: I think this is why people get so mad online, because you are constantly seeing things that you don't want to see and not all of them are appendages attached to Liza Minnelli.
It's part of the peril of seeking things online that you do have an interest in -- like Julia Child performing Tubby the Tuba with the Boston Pops. Nothing bad about that.
Or this armless cat named Mercury that is really, really adorable, I hate to admit it, because it is, in fact, armless.
Or this fantastic dissertation by doctoral candidate Teachers College, Columbia University that is done entirely in comic book format.
Which is to say, there are good things in the world. Not everything is Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine burning and new Cold Wars. It's not all Paula Deen painting herself a victim on the same level as "that black football player," which is her special nickname for openly gay college football player Michael Sam. I can only hope his nickname for Deen is "that gross redneck racist."
The insidiousness of the Internet, though, is that sometimes you encounter things that you think will make you feel good, but just don't, like this map on a Time magazine blog that highlighted each state's favorite musician. I thought it would be fun to look at, since I've lived in a lot of states, but it turned out like a kick in the gut for every ounce of alienation I've ever felt in my life.
It's started out OK, not great. Massachusetts gets Neil Young as our fave. He is not one of my faves, not even close. I'm not even really a fan, but he seems like a decent, nice guy and I have nothing against him. And he has at least two songs that I like.
The more states I looked at, the further away from anything resembling reality I felt. Who are these bands? As I poured over the map, each state favorite became a reminder to never turn on the radio if I am in that particular state.
At no point did I think that Liza's blue pantsuit would make me feel good, though, any more than the return of the Cold War. I do think, though, that Liza's indiscretion matched against Putin's is a bit like a new manifestation of Mutual Assured Destruction. One vulgarity canceling out another, though if you add Paula Deen into the mix, we might just beat Russia in this tacky new Cold War.
John Seven, a writer, lives in North Adams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at johnseven.net.