Open Thread: Jim Henson’s Into The Woods

I’ve been reading Sondheim’s second collection of his lyrics, Look I Made A Hat, which was a Hanukkah gift from my wonderful mother. Here’s a bit of trivia I didn’t know: in 1995, Jim Henson was making a movie of Sonhdheim’s “Into The Woods,” with human actors but with Henson creators playing Jack’s cow and Cinderella’s birds. A screenplay was written, Sondheim wrote two new songs for the movie, they did readings of the screenplay featuring stars who probably would have been wrong for the actual movie, but some who would have been great, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Baker’s Wife), Neil Patrick Harris (Jack), and Rob Lowe (Cinderella’s Prince Charming). Then Columbia Pictures changed management, and the project was killed. The thought of what might have been could easily keep this blogger up at night, staring at the ceiling and periodically yelling “Why, Columbia Pictures, why?”

Anyway, consider this an open thread. Self-linking, selfless linking, and shellfish linking are all welcome.

  1. Matthew Rodney draws Wonder Woman with the word “wonder.”
  2. Stunning photo of NYC’s Central Park.
  3. New Reports Track Devastating Impact of Alabama’s Extreme Immigration Law on Residents » Immigration Impact
  4. Philippe Legrain on the case for open immigration laws.
  5. Probably my great-grandparents would never have been let in if they had come to America today.
  6. David Romer: Evidence for the Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy
  7. Highdeas, a collection of people’s ideas thought of while high. “The word OK looks like a sideways person. I’ve said OK my whole life and never noticed him. What’s up little guy?”
  8. There really is no difference between men and women’s math abilities: “None of our findings suggest that an innate biological difference between the sexes is the primary reason for a gender gap in math performance at any level. Rather, these major international studies strongly suggest that the math-gender gap, where it occurs, is due to sociocultural factors that differ among countries, and that these factors can be changed.”
  9. QUOTE: “Want to know what’s evil? Nice people’s lies.” –Stephen Sondheim. The speaker is the character of the Witch in “Into The Woods,” in a song that got cut and replaced with “Last Midnight.”
  10. Why Biased Refs Are Good Business
  11. Double Standards Galore: Differences in how ordinary Americans and corporations are treated by the government.
  12. The results were surprising. Women in the study who were told they had a serious illness were seven times as likely to become separated or divorced as men with similar health problems….”
  13. I’ve long been fond of the two-time Tony award winning actor George Rose, whose has a brilliant career in his day, and whose turn as the Major-General in Pirates of Penzance is one my earliest theater memories. Earlier today I was indulging in “whatever happened to…” browsing and looked up Rose. I was shocked to read out Rose was brutally murdered in 1988, and his murderers (including his adopted son) got off nearly scott-free.
  14. FYI: 100% of Your Body Fat Should be in Your Boobs
  15. This infographic about Harley Quinn may arguably be inaccurate (her new, much more skin-baring costume has technically gotten a lot of fan interest, if interest includes “disgust and derision”), but you can’t argue with its elegance.

Happy holidays, no matter what holidays you enjoy! (If you enjoy any at all, of course. No pressure. It’s cool to pretty much coast by ignoring the holidays, if that’s what you want. Me, I tend to work through them.)

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25 Responses to Open Thread: Jim Henson’s Into The Woods

  1. 1
    Elusis says:

    “Into the Woods” is one of my favorite musicals of all time. I keep meaning to buy the DVD of the broadway production with Bernadette Peters. Now I’m really sad about the film – NPH as Jack!!

    Apologies for the re-flog but this probably got buried in the conversation about immigration on the previous open thread, and it relates directly to the embedded video about gendered toys – I did a takedown of Jimmy Kimmel’s Christmas prank challenge, first from a developmental standpoint and then from a gender policing standpoint. The little girl in the video you posted has a really thoughtful, supportive dad when it comes to allowing flexibility in gender norms. I wish every kid did.

  2. 2
    Robert says:

    I posted this in the last open thread, right before Amp – in his discourse-poisoning, passive-aggressive way – started a new open thread. So I’m reposting it. And there’s nothing anyone can do to stop me! (Any moderator who tries to delete this comment will find that they can…but that the comment will mystically reappear one hour later, and the moderator will find themselves increasingly sexually attracted to Rush Limbaugh, more and more with each deletion attempt. Don’t fight the curse, kids.)

    The working poor are getting fucked.

    Mythago responded to this with:
    “Robert – quoting Megan McArdle on economics is about as good as quoting Noam Chomsky. That is, there’s no reason for it other than the person in question shares your political leanings.”

    I’ve asked you before – what do you have against McArdle? I’ll grant, she is not the leading light on economic thought of our generation. She is often glib and falls into the trap that most of us do, of overgeneralizing personal experience into universal truth. But on balance I find her fair-minded; she agrees with me more often than she does not agree with me, but even in the many instances where I think she’s off target, I find her observations to be of value. Megan McArdle knows something about how economies work; Noam Chomsky is famously illiterate on the subject. The comparison isn’t apt; Sarah Palin and Noam Chomsky would be a good comparison. Both know some soundbites and quasi-clever wordgames that advance an agenda; neither has original thought or analysis of any value to contribute.

    But leave that aside – let us assume that Megan McArdle is the [insert most jointly-agreed-to-be-cognitively dysfunctional individual in the world here] of our time. Is she wrong, or is she right? Further, I’m not quoting her in any meaningful sense, and a moment’s examination of the link indicates that she presents a graph compiled by someone else (a Federal economics research bureau), a lengthy expository quote by someone else (a rather well-regarded Harvard economist), and her own contribution to the story, a one or two sentence narrative gloss along with a (highly valid) criticism of conservative economic thinkers, me included (tacitly, she doesn’t call me out. She never calls. Heartbreaker.)

    So what exactly are you disagreeing with her on? That working poor people are getting fucked by tax policy? That conservative economic thinkers (“supply siders” in the vernacular) are ignoring this very real example of how their theory often does work in the real world, presumably because it involves poor people? That incentives are real and we’ve got a seriously fucked up set of them operating right now for the working poor?

    Pardon the dead. horse. beating., but this is actually an issue I care deeply about. As a capitalist and supporter of capitalism, the ONLY way the system can be morally justified to a decent human being, by my lights, is if the moral imperatives of the system work out, roughly, in the intuitively correct way. A guy who goes out and toils for 50 hours at a shit, but honest, job doesn’t have to earn a king’s ransom, or even a living, but he does have to be ahead of the game vis a vis the guy who deliberately sits on his ass and refuses to contribute his labor to the system. Some people would say that the truths (for they do seem to be truths, empirical observations about the world-as-is, rather than theories or attempted explanations) indicated in McArdle’s linked summary piece mean that we need to make entitlements suckier, others would argue that we need more money for workers, others (me) would have a nuanced and multi-megabyte epic sheaf of modifications and reforms – but it’s worth talking about, and I think the people here are people who would make a good contribution to the conversation.

  3. 3
    Robert says:

    TL;DR version: working poor people get deeply screwed and face the highest marginal tax rates of anyone in America. That is, each dollar of additional income costs them more in taxes and lost benefits than it does for any other socioeconomic group. To the point, the analysis finds, that for people in some brackets, an improvement in wage ends up costing them more – in some cases far more – than the improvement itself brings in. This is deeply, deeply dysfunctional.

  4. 4
    mythago says:

    Robert – “she agrees with me more often than she does not agree with me” is not how I rate whether someone is intelligent, thoughtful and not afflicted with the NYT/Marcotte problem of “my experience is the sum total of how the world is, and if it isn’t, it goddamn well ought to be.”

    I happen to care rather deeply about this issue, too. That means that in support of my views on this issue, I’m not willing to cite to or rely on a glib, privileged, economics-is-what-I-say-it-is pundit.

  5. 5
    Robert says:

    OK. Are you willing to rely on the Federal statistical bureau, and the world-renowned Harvard economist, whose findings she is transparently passing through without a shred of alteration?

  6. 6
    mythago says:

    Oh, Robert, c’mon. This is like offering me a cup of that coffee pooped out by civets. “But it passes through undigested!” Yeah, not really.

    Am I going to reject Federal statistics or an essay by an actual economist simply because they got McArdle cooties through not fault of their own? Of course not. But I’d rather read the actual economists’ writings, and not shit like “Everyone I’ve spoken to about the problem seems to agree…..”

  7. 7
    Robert says:

    OK. So go to the blog post I linked – you can burn some anti-McArdle-cootie candles for protection against the bad juju – and CLICK ON THE LINKS THAT SHE PROVIDES THAT GO DIRECTLY TO THE PRIMARY SOURCE.

    I mean Jesus, you’re acting like it’s 1955 and you’re Joe McCarthy and Pravda has just republished a table from an international astronomical body showing the next 100 lunar eclipses. OK, by all means do your due diligence and give it a once-over to make sure that they haven’t renamed “eclipses” to “Glorious Effulgences of Proletarian Light Against The Oppressive Glare of the Capitalist Sun” or some shit like that, but her contribution to her post is two. sentences. The rest is LINKS and QUOTES of PRIMARY DATA. “We cannot trust this communist propaganda broadsheet” is a lot more, I dunno, coherent, when it’s addressing actual propaganda.

    And hey, if the “it has to be better than Amanda’s drivelings or the NY Times’ snivelings” is going to be our criteria for blog posts – OK, so much for pretty much *every single open thread ever posted at Alas*, most all of which are chock full of hugely biased, individualistic, bloggy posts (along with, to be sure, some nuggets of pretty objective material).

    Did McArdle fuck your husband or take a shit in your flower garden or something? Because, seriously.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Please dial it back a couple of notches.

  9. 9
    Robert says:

    See? Here poopy Mythago and I are having a perfectly civil discussion about how she sucks and along comes Mr. Discourse Murderer.

    Sorry. Dialing back. (Who put amphetamines in the amphetamine jar? It’s supposed to be benzodiazepine!)

    Tried to edit to remove the two items of excessive snark but it’s too late. Please feel free to do so yourself.

  10. 10
    mythago says:

    So let me see if I follow Mr. Angrypants: he asks why I don’t want to read a McArdle blather, and then he shits the bed when I answer his question. Okey doke.

    I did, actually, go back and read one of the articles she linked to and thought it quite sensible. Why Robert couldn’t have linked to that in the first place, I have no idea. Maybe he was too busy fucking McArdle’s husband.

    (ETA: Seriously, Robert, you know I’m one of those liberal Bay Area perverts. If McArdle were fucking my husband I’d be more worried about his judgment than about the fidelity of my marriage.)

  11. 11
    Robert says:

    I couldn’t help it. He has such a pretty mouth.

  12. 12
    mythago says:

    You *sure* you don’t live in Silicon Valley?

  13. 13
    Robert says:

    Pretty sure…let me check. Yep, bought my comfortable but modest single family home in the mid 200s, not the mid 2000s. It’s still worth that. This here’s America.

  14. 14
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    This is getting very strange.

    Robert is arguing a position which appears to be supporting poor people. Mythago is arguing against him. (that in itself is strange enough.)

    Robert is posting a link. Mythago is refusing to even engage with the linked arguments. (also strange, since Mythago is usually very enamored of links.)

    Is this some sort of holiday prank? I’ve read Robert’s link. It has, as he states, basically nothing to do with McArdle, seeing as it’s essentially a repost of someone else’s post, the original of which is at

    I have no idea who McArdle is, but what’s the issue? Just click the link.

    I was personally surprised at the extreme tax rates. I didn’t know it was that problematic.

  15. 15
    mythago says:


    – I actually agree with Robert that things totally suck for the working poor, and that the way benefits are distributed offer perverse incentives.

    – What part of “I did, actually, go back and read one of the articles she linked to and thought it quite sensible” did you not understand? The part where it turns out Robert and I actually agree on the major points here and it stopped being fun for you?

    – I am enamored of evidence. Links are not, by themselves, evidence. You’re an attorney; you should know as well as I do that useless string cites only sway the dumber class of judges.

  16. 16
    Robert says:

    “only sway the dumber class of judges.”

    So…95% of them or so? :)

  17. 17
    mythago says:

    I could not possibly comment.

  18. 18
    Robert says:

    Yeah, ‘cos they know who you are.

  19. 19
    Solo says:

    Re #12, That study only covered 515 patients with a narrow range of brain tumors and/or multiple sclerosis. In larger studies covering a wider variety of cancers, rates actually fell in the years following the diagnosis, with little difference along gender lines.

  20. 20
    Ampersand says:

    Is covering a “wider variety of cancers” actually a good thing? It seems to me that it makes the two studies apples and oranges, since many cancer diagnosis are (on a relative scale) less serious medical conditions than brain cancer.

    Also, I’m not sure if it’s safe to assume that something isn’t happening in the US because it’s not happening in a Norwegian sample.

  21. 21
    Solo says:

    If you title the article as “Divorce Risk Higher When Wife Gets Sick”, then yes, it is reasonable to clarify that this effect has been observed over a narrow range of illnesses for a very small sample size.

    The article is addressing gender roles and marriage expectations based on a grand total of one divorce under ‘male patient – General oncology’ and another under ‘male patient – Multiple sclerosis’. IMO the fact that we do not observe this phenomenon in the general case, including under several classes of malignant cancers with poor prognosis is important to that discussion.

    Your point about it being specific to the US is a valid one but I would put more faith in a study that covered a far more diverse sample of 200K afflicted families with 5K divorces than the one the article listed.

  22. 22
    RonF says:

    Re: #4:

    The author holds “America should open its borders. Anyone who wants to immigrate to the U.S. should be allowed to, with the bare minimum of bureaucracy. Those already here illegally should be legalized. Open borders would make this country richer, more entrepreneurial–and more secure.” He further says “Fears that immigrants threaten American workers are mostly misplaced. Just as working women haven’t deprived men of jobs, immigrants create jobs as well as filling them–both when they spend their wages and in complementary lines of work. Mexican construction workers, for instance, create jobs for Americans selling building materials, as well as spending their wages at Wal-Mart. Nor do immigrants depress wages, since they rarely compete directly with native-born Americans for jobs.”

    I wonder if this guy actually knows anybody in the trades? Because I do. One good friend of mine hasn’t worked in weeks. He is a union elevator maintenance man. Working full time his income equals or exceeds mine and he never spent a day in college. But his work requires training, certification and experience. Work that according to him he and a great many other union workers don’t get because they’re getting undercut by non-citizens will do the work (not nearly as well, they don’t have the training or certification) for much less.

    I have a few relatives in the trades and you can hear the same story from them in many of the trades. Anecdotal? Sure. But I hear it a lot. And Legrain gives no sources at all for his assertion that seems to me to defy common sense.

  23. 23
    mythago says:

    RonF, the guy also apparently doesn’t understand that there are illegal immigrants here who have committed crimes other than working without a green card. I’m not particularly interested in granting amnesty or legal residency to MS-13 gang members, for example.

  24. 24
    Silenced is foo says:

    I am totally stealing the Harley Quinn Paradox.

    Seriously, has anybody tried to look at DCNu Suicide Squad? It’s just hilarious how ugly her new costume is.

  25. 25
    Elusis says:

    RonF – this is why some cities like Oakland have laws that regulate what workers in some heavily unionized trades like various construction/carpentry jobs must be paid, in order to try to prevent non-union shops from undercutting by using untrained, often non-English-literate workers. Of course the problem then becomes that employers break this law, and state wage/hour law, by altering time cards so when a worker works for 12 hours at $10 an hour (without mandated breaks and overtime) it looks like they worked for 4 hours at $30 an hour, allowing the law-breaking employer to submit a lower bid and get the contract. And fear of deportation usually keeps these workers from saying anything. With a more rational immigration and work policy, unethical employers wouldn’t be protected by the “code of silence” and law-abiding, union employers would be on a more level playing field.