Sunday, January 31, 2021

From the Archives - Bicycling Glossary


You know what’s a real hassle? Reading! It’s much easier to just kick back, click Play, and let the ocean of words wash over you (and perhaps occasionally pummel you). On that note, below is my vlog version of this post, and if you don’t like it, you can a) get somebody else to read the post to you, or b) just read it yourself as the full text follows below.


Lately I’ve been going through a bunch of decades-old Winning magazines, including their special oversized Tour de France special editions, and I have to chuckle at the ubiquitous full-page cycling glossaries. They always have a bunch of terms that no newbie really even needs to learn. For example, “bottom bracket.” When’s the last time a Tour de France stage was won or lost due to a bottom bracket? The other is “bidon.” Nobody actually calls a water bottle a “bidon” except those Velominati clowns. The glossary also claims that “tubs” is a nickname for “tubulars” and I’ve never heard that in my life.

Many years ago, I wrote a (satirical) cycling glossary for the online magazine Daily Peloton. Alas, when DP’s server crashed a few years back, evidently without having been backed up, all my stories there were lost. One by one I’m rerunning them here on albertnet. Look, here’s the glossary now!

Veteran’s Dictionary of Modern Biking Usage – March 13, 2008

A couple of days before the Tour of California started, I checked the official website for a start list, and couldn’t find one. But right away I found the inevitable glossary of bike racing terminology. It had all the normal cycling terms: attack, bonk, etc. (You can tell this glossary was written for American readers because it has “bonk” in it. My wife and I used to ride with her British Reuters colleagues, and one day she told her boss, “I brought a Powerbar in case I bonk.” Her boss blushed and stammered, “I beg your pardon?!”)

This got me thinking about all the cycling glossaries I’ve seen over the years in the backs of race programs and such, and I realized how incomplete they all are, like they’re all quoting from the same out-of-date document. Cycling has a rich oral tradition that is highly regional and evolves rapidly. I fear that some of the newer riders on my (or any) bike club may not be up on some of the more obscure cycling terms, while we veterans may not be familiar with the newest additions to the vernacular. Thus, I created this dictionary.

ABCs: Angry Biker Clothes, also known as costume, strip, uniform, or kit. See Angry biker.

Angry biker: a biker who has a fancy bike, fancy clothes, and usually a stern expression, who really needs to lighten up. In other words, just about everybody on the road.

Arseless: a generic term for your bike, especially the old three-speed you ride to work. [Origin: from a novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle, shortened from “Arseless Horse.”]

Backwards: slow, especially when you’re supposed to  be going fast; e.g., “Dude, I was so blown, I was going backwards.”

Bald: the condition of a veteran biker’s scalp being hopelessly worn out. Also refers to bike tires suffering the same affliction.

Ballast: the aesthetically ameliorative but physically cumbersome padding that a veteran angry biker tends to develop despite his or her best efforts to remain skeletal.

Basso Lamento: 1. [Music] Also called “descending tetrachord.” A musical scale of four notes, bounded by the interval of a perfect fourth (an interval the size of two and one-half steps, e.g., c-f). 2. The widespread sorrow surrounding Ivan Basso’s admission to doping (or “planned doping,” the lying sack of shit).

Bibs: cycling shorts with shoulder straps instead of an elastic waistband. Popular among juniors who fear being “pantsed,” and among older riders for the comfort and corset-like effect.

Bike porn: glossy bike catalogs that incessantly arrive, unbidden, in your mailbox.

Biker: the preferred term for “cyclist” among crusty old veterans, as they mock the relative newcomers who insist on being called cyclists. Note: particularly senior riders may despise the term “biker,” as they were around when this term was used contemptuously (perhaps because real bikers rode Harleys).

Bike widow: a wife forced to seek companionship outside her marriage, especially during weekends, because her angry biker husband is always off pursuing his suffering centers.

Bitter biker: an angry biker who is also old.

Bleb: the almost, but not completely, broken membrane on a gel packet, when the top has been torn off at just the right point so it won’t dribble out but can be zipped into your mouth. [Etymology: unknown; possibly borrowed from medical nomenclature.]

Blow chunks: to ride very poorly; e.g., “Dude, I totally blew chunks in the time trial.” [Originally a term for projectile vomiting, though this only happens in the minority of cases.] See Backwards.

Bonk: 1. To lose all energy while cycling due to depleted blood sugar. 2. To lose all energy while cycling for reasons you’re still trying to figure out. 3. To partake in a non-athletic but nevertheless vigorous activity with a compatible partner, which is far more enjoyable than cycling [chiefly British].

Break:1. Short for breakaway. 2. A respite from cycling that, when it inadvertently becomes permanent, is called Retirement.

Bulby: see Young Bulb, The.

Carbo-load: to eat a whole shitload of carbs, because you love them and because you can, and because you despise the Atkins craze. Not to be confused with the training nutrition système once used by Bernard Hinault, which just about nobody actually understood.

Cawbun Fibuh: carbon fiber. [Origin: crazy Berkeley-area angry biker who assailed a fellow bike shop customer who was innocently checking out a steel road bike. The crazy biker ranted, “Steel frames suck shit! Cawbun-fibuh! You want cawbun-fibuh”! The crazy biker was eventually asked to leave the store. Neither customer ever returned, and steel framesets are now a rarity.]

Chamois (pronounced SHAM-ee): the soft pad sewn into cycling shorts (originally made of the leather of the eponymous antelope but now almost always synthetic), designed to give angry bikers another thing to complain about. See also Mr. Flippy Floppy, Skid Mark.

CO2 inflator: a malfunction-prone device used by an angry biker to increase his blood pressure, while adding needlessly to our landfills, all because he’s too lazy to use a proper pump.

Coked to the gills: see Lubed. [Etymology: from the short story “The Catbird Seat” by James Thurber.

Crapture: gratifyingly swift evacuation of the bowels, especially right before a race.

Crash hat: bike helmet.

Cripple: a triple crankset, used by angry bikers who are not only weak and worthless, but also shameless.

Cyclo-sportif: a popular type of amateur race popular in Europe. Almost the opposite of an American race; instead of dozens of bikers paying $40 each to suffer for 40 minutes riding around an industrial park, thousands of bikers pay $20 each to suffer for 8 hours tackling some of the more amazing mountains on Earth. The most famous cyclo-sportif in Europe is La Marmotte in the French Alps.

Datas: the arguably interesting but probably valueless information that can be gleaned from modern bike computers and heart monitors. [Etymological note: this odd double-plural form derives from instruction manuals poorly translated from the German.]

Dawn patrol: post-ironic term for a very early morning group ride.

Derailleur: the component on a bicycle which shifts the gears, and which is often used as an excuse for losing a race (e.g., “Dude, I would’ve made the break but I threw my chain!”).

Detonate: to suddenly become unable to pedal the bicycle. Usually the consequence of going too hard for too long on too little training, or from just being fricking old.

Dr. Shimano: The big brother of this guide’s author, a college team’s mechanic known for proselytizing about the superiority of Shimano components.

Flat: The sensation you have at the beginning of a ride that your tire is flat, or you’re dragging an anvil behind you. Formerly used to indicate the state of being overtrained, as if that were ever actually possible within our amateur cohort.

Flats: a popular Berkeley area ride, known to be about the flattest ride in the area as it features only 1,400 feet of vertical gain.

Float: the foot rotation offered by modern cleats, to allow your feet to do any damn thing they want instead of being fixed where they ought to be.

Geriatric sports: bonking. [Chiefly British.]

Glycogen windowthe period of 30-40 minutes after exercise during which an angry biker eats gobs of sugary snacks because he has convinced his wife/girlfriend and/or himself that this is actually useful somehow.

Goggles: sunglasses. Used by those who arguably go a bit far in avoiding the use of terms like “eyeshade système.”

Gooseneck: preferred term for handlebar stem, intended to indicate lack of techie-dweebhood. Real old-timers can remember when a stem actually slightly resembled a goose’s neck.

Grind: anything undesirable; e.g., “Dude, those Speedplays are such a grind.” [Etymology: post-ironic mimicry of the Wheels Manufacturing founder’s favorite expression.]

Hardtail: a word used by dorks to describe non-suspension mountain bikes and moreover to demonstrate their utter dorkiness.

Intervals: the increasingly long periods between a veteran biker’s rides. Formerly used to describe some kind of training method that is too distant and painful a memory to recall in detail.

Kitsee ABCs. [Etymology: the widespread myth that expensive clothing can turn you into a great biker, like assembling something from a kit.]

Knackered: Totally exhausted, either through completing a difficult ride or race, or having detonated during a failed attempt.

Light it up: see Throw down.

Lima bean: a frame with compact (i.e., undersized) geometry such that more than a foot of seatpost is showing. [Origin: an area rider’s analysis of these frames: “They’re like lima beans ... I suppose they have a right to exist, but I don’t like them.”]

Lubed: assisted by illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Material: see Ride.

Mech: derailleur (not to be confused with the French “mec,” meaning big thick guy).

Megamix: post-ironic term for an MP3 playlist created for working out on the stationary trainer. [Origin: overheard by an area biker; uttered by some dip standing in line for an early-80s U2 concert.]

Mr. Flippy Floppy: a biking-shorts-related ailment occurring only in males; usually results from geriatric sports.

Muffin ride: an easy ride, whether or not a bakery exists on the route.

Novocain legs: an all-encompassing muscular complacency making it impossible to ride hard, usually resulting from geriatric sports.

Out of shape: a term of deceit used by an angry biker to indicate that he secretly plans to attack you and hopes you’ll underestimate him; e.g., “Dude, let’s go super-easy today because I’m soooo out of shape.”

PCT: peak conversational threshold. The degree of effort beyond which a rider can no longer keep up a conversation, and a useful indicator of who’s got the upper hand.

Plastic: a derisive term for carbon fiber. See Cawbun Fibuh.

Pocket climber: a very lean, slight biker who specializes in hill climbs. Generally used bitterly by someone too heavy to climb well.

Podium: the three-tiered boxy platform that winners get to stand on, not to be confused with a lectern, which is the stand that holds a lecturer’s notes. [Etymology: Latin, from Greek podion, base, diminutive of pous, pod-, foot. Okay?!]

Positive sensations: general feeling of surprisingly plentiful strength. [Origin: countless bike racing news stories; either a popular expression in the European peloton, or a lazy approximation of one or another non-English expression.]

Post-ironic: indicative of a biking term that was mimicked in the spirit of mockery until it gradually evolved into standard usage.

Psyched: caffeinated, especially in accordance with an un-doping regimen. See Un-doping.

Race weight: the weight of your bike without pedals, as if you could pedal without them. [Origin: formerly referred to a rider’s weight during the racing season, before the focus shifted from fitness to equipment.]

Rack: see Stationary trainer. [Origin: short for “torture rack.”]

Rain bike: the second road bike that an angry biker would ride on rainy days, if he actually rode on rainy days. Mainly used when the primary bike has a flat tire.

Recovery: the occasional return to an area biker of one or more of his stolen bikes. Formerly used to indicate restoration of a biker’s physical capacities, back when this was actually possible.

Retirement: the phase of life during which an angry biker pretends he doesn’t race anymore, but actually merely refocuses his competitive impulses on friends and innocent strangers. See Break.

Ride: a bike; e.g., “Dude, just four more months and I’ll be rockin’ my brand-new ultimate super-fly ride!”

Road Look: term that describes a relative novice who is shaming you; e.g., “I was going about as hard as I could and then this frickin’ Road Look dude passes me.” [Origin: from the saddle with “Road Look” printed on the back that came on cheap Fuji road bikes in the 1970s.]

Royal: the coffeeshop at the corner of College and 63rd in Oakland, regardless of what the current owners feel the need to call it. Meeting place for local angry bikers.

School: to shame by outperforming on the bike. See Road Look.

Sew-ups: bicycle tires with a casing, usually made of silk or Egyptian cotton, that is sewn together so that it completely surrounds the inner tube. These must be glued to the rim (ideally with Vittoria or Clément cement known as “red death”). They are gradually going extinct because they’re a total pain in the ass.

Skid mark: discoloration of the chamois caused by sweat—only sweat, I swear!—and the reason for the modern chamois being blue or black instead of brown.

Soaps: See Sew-ups.

Spank: see School.

Spare tube: the contents of a veteran biker’s spare tire. See Ballast. See also Carbo-load.

Stack hat: see Crash Hat.

Stationary trainer: apparatus that enables an angry biker to turn his regular racing bike into a stationary bike; used primarily as a paperweight or conversation piece.

Stuffing: the sum of an angry biker’s physical resources; e.g., “Poor fellow, he’s had the stuffing knocked out of him.” [Chiefly British.]

Système: a fancy word for “system,” used by somebody who is trying to seem sophisticated and Euro; e.g., “Dude, these aren’t sunglasses, this is a highly advanced factory eyeshade système, okay?”

Technova: 1. Overly modern, gimmicky, unproven, and/or shoddy; e.g., “Dude, that aero helmet is so Technova.” 2. Defunct nickname for Dr. Shimano’s kid brother. [Origin: model name of awful Panaracer tires that came on late-80s Miyatas.]

Throw down: to attack, usually foolishly.

T.I. : bike bling; e.g., “Man, Eden is really a high-end shop, so much T.I. there.” [Origin: uttered by an area biker who refuses to divulge what, if anything, the letters stand for.]

Ti (pronounced TIE): See Titanium.

Titanium: one of the most plentiful elements on earth, used for increasing bike industry profit margins.

Toe-clip overlap: the characteristic of a properly designed frame, where the shoe hits the front tire when clipped in to the pedal with the crank in the 3-o’clock position. Lack of toe-clip overlap indicates too shallow a head tube angle. Understanding of head tube angles indicates nerdiness.

Tool: 1. See School. 2. Somebody who unpleasantly increases the pace of your group ride at a time when other angry bikers want to loaf.

Torched: see Wappered.

Tranja [pronounced TRON-yah]: energy drink. [Origin: an episode of the original 1960s “Star Trek” in which the Gentle Ben-looking alien says, “Drink ... it’s tranja. I hope you relish it as much as I.”

Tubulars: see Sew-ups.

Un-doping: the systematic non-consumption of caffeine, designed to create a freakish lack of tolerance for it, so that a single pre-ride NoDoz can instill the effect of an illegal performance-enhancing drug.

Vein: possessed of a specific type of vanity common to bikers with really veiny legs.

Wappered: See Knackered. [Chiefly British.]

Widowmaker: a dangerously rusty bike, or one that has been inherited from a fellow angry biker who is convinced it harmed his knees somehow.

Young Bulb, The: a young rider, especially an enthusiastic one. [Origin: nickname for Paul Kimmage in the early 1980s.]

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Should You Eat Less Salt?


I would love to have an albertnet podcast, but the fact is, I don’t know how. I would have to learn some new platform, and figure out how to make it available to the 4.3 billion users of the Internet, and I simply don’t have the time. Knowing that many people would rather passively listen to podcasts than scroll through large bodies of text, I’m providing the next best thing: a vlog version of the following post. If you aren't enthralled by the sight of me pretending not to read, just close your eyes. Or open another tab and look at pictures of Gal Gadot while you listen. Or bite the bullet and scroll down for the text. Your call.


I am not a doctor or nutritionist, nor a scientist of any kind. I’m not in the business of making specific health recommendations to anybody. That said, I think blanket advice from nutrition experts to the population at large can be imprecise. This post examines the question of whether you, dear reader, need to worry about your salt intake. I don’t know who you are, of course, but I aim to slice and dice the question of “who” more finely than other sources you might encounter. I also review here the results of a simple survey I sent out to my cycling friends. You won’t (and shouldn’t) come away with a new approach to your diet, but perhaps with a few good questions and some (low-fat, all-natural, free-range) food for thought.

Why do I care?

Humans need salt. And so does food. As a dumb kid I thought salt just made food salty, but that’s wrong. Salt makes food yummy. As I learned to cook I was astonished at how you can have a dish 99% done and it won’t taste right until you salt it, and then suddenly it can go from edible to delicious. The end result doesn’t necessarily taste salty; it just tastes right.

Now, if salt were utterly, incontrovertibly bad for you, I might consider it a necessary evil. I’m not willing to go without it, despite being sufficiently health conscious that I’ve essentially given up bacon and other cured meats. But the amount of added salt needed for a complete gastronomic apotheosis doesn’t need to be large. Have you ever tried to eat unsalted peanut butter? It’s revolting. I’d rather eat my scabs. Hell, I’d almost rather eat your scabs. If salted peanut butter had twice the FDA’s recommended daily allowance of sodium in it, and cost twice as much as unsalted, I’d still choose it.

But you know how much sodium regular peanut butter actually has? A mere 140 mg, just 6% of the recommended daily value. (Note that trying to go lower than this wouldn’t necessarily be beneficial: humans actually need about 500 mg of sodium a day to conduct vital functions, as described here.)

So why does unsalted peanut butter exist, other than as a specialty product for sufferers of hypertension? I’ll tell you my hunch: many people who buy it are reacting to the vague sense that less sodium is always better for you. And peanut butter is just one example of this phenomenon. It breaks my heart that well-meaning people are eating inferior meals based on rule of thumb that may or may not apply to them.

[Above: this PBJ was such a work of art, my daughter asked for a bite and then made off with half of it. This never would have happened in my household growing up. More on this later.]

Does sodium actually increase blood pressure?

I won’t bother to provide a wide survey of the science on this, but here are the high points of an article from the Harvard Medical School, based on an interview with Dr. Nancy Cook, a professor of medicine there:

  • On average, Americans eat too much salt
  • Whether or not sodium is bad for everybody, vs. only those with certain risk factors, has been a matter of some debate
  • There is a fairly undisputed effect of sodium on blood pressure, and it’s stronger in people with hypertension
  • People respond differently to salt, one to the next

Regarding the mechanism of sodium’s effect on blood pressure, Cook explains, “When you eat too much salt, your body holds on to water in an effort to dilute it. This extra water increases your blood volume, which means your heart works harder because it’s pushing more liquid through your blood vessels. More strenuous pumping by the heart puts more force on the blood vessels. Over time, this increased force can raise blood pressure and damage blood vessels, making them stiffer, which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read that, I didn’t immediately have an “Oh, shit!” reaction. Perhaps my salt intake does cause water retention, but not for long because every time I exercise, which is generally around four times a week, I sweat a lot, and in fact after a particularly hard ride I’ll get these head rushes every time I stand up—a classic symptom of low blood pressure—until I rehydrate. Not that I expect Dr. Cook to base her guidelines on my particular case. Given that a fairly recent CDC study concluded that only 22.9% of Americans get enough exercise, it’s not hard to see why Dr. Cook would advocate for reducing sodium intake when addressing the general public.

Meanwhile, the CDC reckons that “Americans consume an average of more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day,” which is far more than the 2,300 that the U.S. Department of Health recommends. Clearly, overconsumption of sodium is a public health problem in this country.

But does this mean you and I and everyone should all cut down? I think that would be a problematic conclusion. If Americans by and large use too much petroleum and create too much pollution by driving giant SUVs, then yeah, I can try to mitigate the damage by driving a Prius. But if someone eats too much salt and doesn’t exercise enough, I can’t help him by lowering my salt intake. In other words, I may or may not be implicated in this public health crisis. (Again, I can’t fault the article; the safe bet when advising a wide audience is to advocate caution and restraint.)

As is so often the case, there’s a bit of a conundrum here: the people who are concerned about their health and go looking for dietary advice are often not the ones recklessly eating a lot of processed food, fast food, and salty snacks, and thereby creating frightening statistics around widespread hypertension. A good many conscientious folks may heed these general warnings about salt and reduce their consumption, thus depriving themselves of its goodness for no legitimate reason.

My own experience

In brief, I’ve been seeing borderline high systolic blood pressure readings since high school, while my diastolic numbers are always nice and low. Meanwhile, my blood fats (cholesterol etc.) are remarkably good, my body mass index is spang in the middle of normal, and my resting heart rate is in the low 40s. I’ve never had a doctor recommend a change in diet, and over time my systolic reading has come down a bit. I chalk this up to being less of a hothead than I used to be. In general I suspect the benefits of life balance, of stress release achieved through exercise or yoga, and of emotional hygiene such as self-compassion are underrated. Modern life has people working too much, exercising too little, over-consuming news and social media, and then trying to undo all the damage by eating less salt. Nice try.

My survey

I surveyed a bunch of my cycling pals, because they’ve always been an insightful and amusing bunch. Being cyclists, most of them seem to eat basically whatever they want, and they’re all pretty much fit as a fiddle. That said, they take their health seriously, which statement I base on a couple of decades of riding and eating together, and also on their reactions to a couple of articles that have come out about too much exercise possibly damaging your heart. I was curious about my cycling team’s approach to salt so I emailed them this simple question: Do you make any effort to limit your salt intake for health reasons?

Of the 23 responses I got back, 17 were some version of no (i.e., they eat all the salt they want) and 6 were yes (they limit their salt). Of course I got some interesting comments, too:

  • No, but I’m also pretty naturally salt-averse. One of my most frequent complaints about restaurant food is that it’s too salty, and one of my family’s most common complaints about my cooking is that there’s not enough salt in it.
  • No. But then again, I don’t really make any effort to limit my intake of anything. I’m a gluttonous hedonist. What could possibly go wrong with that philosophy???
  • I double down on salt - I’ve got low blood pressure and find getting light headed when I stand up a bit irritating.
  • How can a person cook without salt? It’s my understanding (possibly inaccurate) that salt is only a problem if you have high blood pressure, so not really an issue for healthy people with normal blood pressure.
  • Switched to dry brining with kosher salt. Definitely healthier and tastes better but I cannot speak to any metaphysical benefit.
  • I’m casually aware of salt intake but never limit myself vs. what tastes appropriate. I don’t buy potato chips very often but when I do I want ‘em salty.
  • No. But I know when I’ve had too much and I don’t necessarily enjoy that feeling.
  • No. Well, maybe. I salt liberally from the shaker/cellar, but I do try to be aware of how much sodium certain prepared foods contain, and err on the side of less is better there…
  • Well, occasionally I think about limiting my salt intake but it doesn’t really happen.
  • Yes and yes - Simply put, Salt= Hypertension, Sugar= diabetes. Controlling these substances through diet can extended the life of several organs. It’s no secret that food companies fill processed food with these as a preservative and as a sales angle. We don’t even realize how much is added … I haven’t added salt to anything in years.
  • Several years ago, I went to the doctor and my blood pressure was slightly higher than it used to be, almost 140/70. (Getting older sucks...) Since then I’ve generally cut back on the Mexican and Korean foods, and now it’s back to 120/60. However, if I ride 4+ hours in the heat, then I’ll always reward myself with some Mexican food.

My favorite comments were from the two MDs in my survey:

  • I maximize salt intake!
  • Salt is not a major contributor to hypertension. The processed food that contains a lot of salt probably is. (I spent a 1/3rd of a course in college studying sodium.) However, from a public health perspective, telling the public to limit salt probably has beneficial effects.

Now, there are (at least) two conclusions I could draw from these results. One, I could assume that by not worrying about salt whatsoever, we are consuming huge amounts of sodium and yet somehow getting away with it. On the other hand, we could be well within the recommended range of sodium consumption quite by accident. Granted, we cyclists love us some big, rich meals, but we tend to cook them ourselves. I’ve never known any of these pals to eat fast food, and as health-conscious types we avoid processed food like frozen entrees, “lunch meat,” and snack foods, because of all the other crap in them (trans fats, nitrates, refined flour, artificial flavors, etc.) and because we’re frankly too epicurean. (I get frozen pizza for my kids a couple times a year as a guilty pleasure, and indeed, only the scarcity of it makes it a treat.)

Honestly, the Recommended Daily Value of sodium, 2,300 mg, seems pretty generous. I tallied up the amount of sodium I get from my typical lunch, and found no cause for alarm. Lunch is often my biggest meal of the day, and it’s invariably a big burrito (basically homemade but with canned refried or whole beans and store-bought tortillas). Look, here’s one now.

I just read some labels and have calculated that one of my big-ass burritos contains about 1,400 mg of sodium. Of the US Recommended DV of not more than 2,300 mg, that leaves just 900 mg free for dinner (since I don’t eat breakfast). This is probably okay because my wife does most of the cooking and seldom resorts to things like canned beans. Besides, even if I’m a bit over the guideline, I’m a big guy and my daily caloric intake is very high—some would say legendary. But I guarantee I’m far from the 3,400 mg of sodium that the average American takes in, without even trying … that is, without compromising the tastiness of my food.

According to the CDC, “Most of the sodium Americans eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurant foods. Only a small amount comes from salt added during cooking or at the table.” A Harvard medical school article concurs: “At least 75% of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed foods, such as cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, burgers, and sandwiches.”

This makes perfect sense, of course. Food is big business, and if sacrificing the health of consumers is what it takes to ensure shareholder value, so be it. Take the case of Campbell’s soup: they were famously required by the FDA to desist using their old slogan “Soup is good food” because their soup had too much sodium to be called “good.” More recently, Campbell’s experimented with lowering sodium, but then reversed course when sales dropped. As described here, their new CEO announced at an investors’ meeting, “For me it’s about stabilizing [sales] first.” Campbell’s contends that “the proposed nutritional principles ‘describe products that manufacturers will not produce because children and teens will not eat them.’”

Obviously we can’t stake our health on the companies that pander to philistine tastes. But that doesn’t mean when we cook at home we should gild the lily and err on the side of blandness. If anything, that will just tempt us to eat out more. And with restaurants, of course, all bets are off.


Again, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I think I can you give this bit of advice: before you automatically seek to lower your sodium intake based on the general messaging we get from the FDA, CDC, etc., find out what your own blood pressure is and ask your doctor if you’re at any risk. And if you do have a need to keep an eye on your sodium intake, do so with precision, by reading labels and knowing what goes into your food. It could well be, for example, that a person with mild hypertension could still afford the amount of sodium in regular peanut butter, and doesn’t need to be shaking Mr. Dash on his or her dinner.

Appendix A – salt in peanut butter

I grew up eating a lot of PBJs. My mom was a great cook, but these sandwiches were atrocious. The bread was fine, and the jam (generally homemade) was great, but the peanut butter was awful. It was a brand called Deaf Smith, and as detailed here, it was the first organic peanut butter on the market. It came in a giant plastic bucket—it had to be at least a few gallons—and it looked like a cross between diarrhea and that old-fashioned Dijon mustard with all the seeds in it. It was a roiling, gritty, grainy, wet mess and we called it quicksand because if you lost your grip on the knife (which happened a lot because it’d get oily), the knife would quickly sink and you wouldn’t see it again until you eventually got to the bottom of the tub and there’d be like five knives there.

But you have to understand, my brothers and I were not picky eaters, and all this would have been completely forgivable if Deaf Smith didn’t taste so damn bad. It was just awful. We suffered through those PBJs because we had to—we were growing boys, after all—but it was just so gross. As soon as I moved away from home I switched to Skippy and discovered that peanut butter could be delicious.

A few decades later, though I’d moved on to natural, non-hydrogenated peanut butter, usually Adams or the Trader Joe’s brand, I was still totally digging it. And then one day my wife bought unsalted by mistake. The horror! It tasted exactly like Deaf Smith! Completely disgusting—I was right back in my miserable elementary school lunchroom! This was an epiphany. I realized that there had never actually been anything really wrong with Deaf Smith except the lack of salt. This omission was totally unnecessary and surely not why my mom chose that brand. She has always maintained that salt won’t hurt you if you don’t already have high blood pressure—it can only exacerbate it. She probably chose Deaf Smith simply because it was organic and available in bulk. So why did Deaf Smith eschew salt? Probably because they were a bunch of hippies and salt seemed evil to them somehow.

Postscript to this sad tale: a year or so later I mixed up a fresh batch of Trader Joe’s peanut butter (yes, this mixing is a pain in the ass and I do miss the hydrogenation of Skippy at times), and then made a PBJ. Yuck! Foiled again! Staring, enraged, at the label, wondering why my wife would poison the family again by buying more unsalted peanut butter, I realized this jar wasn’t actually labeled as unsalted. It was their organic variety, which had just 40 mg of sodium per serving, vs. 140 mg in the normal version. I guess they decided those who like organic food automatically want less sodium. I wrote an angry email to Trader Joes, which I’ve just found and reread. It ends, “When this jar is empty I will probably remove the label and burn it in effigy.” (In fairness, Trader Joe’s did apologize and gave me a refund.)

Appendix B – fact-checking the Deaf Smith tale

I fact-checked the bit about Deaf Smith peanut butter with my mom, to confirm that lowering our sodium intake wasn’t her goal in choosing it. This she corroborated, but she denied that we ate it that much. “I got it from the co-op, and hadn’t tried it before,” she said. “I think I only bought it once, and had no idea it wouldn’t be salted. It probably just seemed like we got it a lot, because it took so long to get through that giant drum.”

I thought this might have been wishful thinking … after all, no mother wants to admit she tortured her offspring for a protracted period. So I asked my brother Bryan. He responded, “It was just for a time as I recall, we didn’t really like it because it was so natural, and it separated so badly that the last few gallons of it were like concrete.”

My brother Max had a host of other memories around the Deaf Smith. “As I recall, the Deaf Smith was from ‘the co-op,’” he told me (via text). “That’s where those ginormous cylindrical loafs of Colby and Colby-Jack cheeses came from as well. I think there was more than just one five-gallon tub of Deaf Smith that came through [our household]. The Deaf Smith was really good in rice crispy squares. I remember that! When we complained about the Deaf Smith mom would laugh … for some reason she just didn’t believe that we really hated it.

“Remember the story of how Deaf Smith became deaf? He was a San Francisco kid and he had to take the trolley to school. One day he was a little running behind, as they say, and the trolley was already taking off. He ran up to the trolley and a man, who was just trying to be helpful, used the young Smith’s ears as handles to haul him up onto the trolley and he was deafened.”

At this point I replied, “I do not remember that story. Is that from the archives or did you just make that up?” Max’s answer: “True story as I remember it. I recall feeling that we had to eat this peanut butter because mom felt sorry for Deaf Smith. It may have been that the man ‘boxed’ his ears to punish him for his tardiness. I remember asking Mom what that meant, boxing the ears. I guess it was common back then for men to box the ears of wayward youths. As she described it, boxing the ears involves essentially punching a kid in both ears at the same time with the fists turned inward so the contact with the ears is made with the fleshy part of the hand between the wrist and bottom knuckle of the pinky finger.

“I recall that she may have been unsure whether the man dragged him up by his ears or dragged him up and then boxed his ears, but either way it resulted in two sure things: Smith became deaf and there was nothing more for him but to make peanut butter.

“Everyone who buys this product feels a bit guilty and a bit absolved simultaneously. I always tried to like the Deaf Smith out of guilt for the human condition. I’d think about the trauma that that kid endured, having his life ruined by some a-hole on the trolley, and how he had to crush peanuts for the rest of his miserable existence.

“It had to have been a miserable existence. If he had made any sort of meaningful recovery, he might have put some sugar or at least some salt in the peanut butter. It was almost as though he accepted being boxed in the ears. As though he deserved it for being late. That peanut butter was practically a punishment. Austerity in a five gallon tub.”

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Friday, January 15, 2021

A Wide Net Approach to New Year’s Resolutions


A couple of successful bloggers have advised me that my posts should always include a vlog version. I think this advice totally makes sense if the blogger is really good looking. As for myself, I’m a bit skeptical anyone could really enjoy this, but I’ll do my best. Tip: the below vlog is also a podcast if you don’t look. And it becomes a regular old blog if you scroll down.


In years past in these pages, I’ve offered general suggestions on how to formulate New Year’s Resolutions. Well, it never worked … the closest I’ve had to getting a comment like “this changed my life!” is “This unique in fact perhaps even a very good arrange that i believe it or not in fact really enjoyed looking into. It is not necessarily consequently routine that i range from the substitute for verify a precise detail. trusted medicine.”

So this year, I’m taking the cast-a-wide-net approach: I’ll just throw a ton of suggested Resolutions out there and maybe a few will grab you. It’s kind of like the speed-dating concept.

Personal brand

Stop worrying about cultivating your “personal brand.” Consider that every so often a winery tries to produce a really special wine but loses their nerve at the last minute, and releases it under a fictitious label, only to see that wine win all kinds of awards. Shouldn’t your intrinsic value, if any, also speak for itself? 

COVID tents

Do you live in a community that sets up outdoor tents to get around the pandemic-instituted prohibition on indoor dining? This is exactly like tenting a house for termite mitigation, except instead of fumigating with poisonous methyl bromide they let diners bring their own coronavirus-rich CO2. This practice is pretty much Kevorkian. They should call them Superspreader Tents. Don’t go in there.


Stop reading the instructions on the shampoo bottle. This product is just not that complicated. Really … you’ve got this.

Physical comedy

Stop syncing up your loud belches and/or bursts of flatulence with fist pumps, as if you were cranking them out. Family members witnessing your little spectacle probably don’t find it nearly as funny as you do. I suppose you could resolve to do this only when you’re alone, but really … ask yourself if that makes any more sense.


Stop calling things “hacks” that don’t represent a major circumvention. If you use yogurt instead of butter in box mac ‘n’ cheese, that’s not a hack. That’s a tweak. Using the uncooked elbows for your kid’s art project, and then using the powdered cheese mix as a propellant in an improvised explosive device—now that’s a hack. I hasten to point out that I don’t advocate building IEDs. For that matter, I don’t advocate box mac ‘n’ cheese.


If you find yourself short of breath while eating, you might be going too fast. Another sign is if you keep getting grains of rice or short bits of noodle caught in your nasal passages. Considering eating a bit more slowly.


Crickets themselves are fine. But saying “crickets” to draw attention to a general lack of response to something someone has said (e.g., a joke) is both hackneyed and stupid. Just be frank: “Clearly nobody is very impressed with you. I hope you feel bad about yourself. I, meanwhile, am quite clever.”

Mute button

Did you know that the COVID pandemic has sped up global digital transformation by at least ten years? Wait, come back, I’m sorry, I was blathering ironically!

But seriously: we might as well face the fact that videoconferences aren’t going anywhere. So how about mastering the mute button? So you know at all times whether you’re muted or not? So you don’t ever have to say, “Sorry, I was talking on mute”? And nobody ever has to say, “Bob, you’re muted”? And so nobody hears you bawling out your kid or your pet? Practice a lot, do drills, hold a clinic, I don’t care what it takes—just become aces at this because things are really getting annoying.


When you pee, stop timing the operation by counting in your head, “One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand …” unless your doctor has recommended this.

Cleaning the drain

When you scoop the wad of hair out of the bathtub drain before your shower, stop throwing the wet clump at the tile wall where it will stick. If you’ve been doing this for fifteen years and your family members still haven’t taken the hint, they’re not going to. Just throw the wad away, or better yet, recycle it.

Zeal inflation

If every single thing you recommend is the most amazing thing ever, you may be overdoing your enthusiasm. Consider ratcheting it down a bit: instead of “Oh my God, you have got to try their burger,” consider something like, “I really think you should try the burger.”


Look, vegans, I grant that you have the moral upper-hand. But please, no meat-shaming. Meat is just a weakness I have. Besides, by insisting on grass-fed beef I’m helping to create a market for it, to gradually shift the ranching industry. What example are you setting? Carnivores just think you’re crazy!


Stop eating pizza with a fork and knife, even if it’s deep-dish. Consider that Miss Manners gives you her blessing to eat asparagus with your fingers. Pizza is finger food. So what if you make a little mess? That’s what napkins are for.

When you order takeout pizza, ask them to cut the pie into 12 slices instead of just 8. This makes it easier to share and may slightly increase your chances of having leftovers. (Note: this is not a “hack.”)


Make a playlist of calm, mellow songs to listen to before bed. This probably won’t keep your dreams from featuring hard rock or heavy metal soundtracks (which is likely a sign of too much stress in your life) but it’s worth a shot.


When emailing a colleague you don’t know very well, whose name is Michael or Christopher or Elizabeth, stop fretting about whether you should be addressing him or her as Mike or Chris or Liz. If this person can’t put his or her preferred name in his or her auto-signature, that’s not your problem. Also, if you have an Aussie colleague who has always gone by Mick but suddenly wants to go by Michael, probably in an effort to be taken more seriously, don’t give him the satisfaction. Keep calling him Mick. You’re grandfathered.


When you fill a carafe or bottle, and the rising water makes a slightly flute-y whooshing sound that gets higher in pitch as the level rises, stop pursing your lips as though they were making the sound. This is ridiculous and if your fiancée saw you doing this she’d break off the engagement.

What do you do?

Have an unhelpful answer all staged up for when someone asks you what you do for a living. Some examples:

  • I do bratwurst rehab.
  • I do PR for a money laundering firm in the Caymans.
  • I stuff envelopes for a blockchain startup incubator in Bangalore.
  • I’m a cattle buyer for Office Depot.
  • I refurbish gnome ornaments.

Then, turn it around with a more direct version of the same question: “What good are you?”


When you put on a jacket over a sweater, hold down the cuffs of the sweater sleeves with your ring and middle finger. Otherwise, the sleeves will get all bunched up. If you don’t grasp what I’m saying, watch any child put on a jacket. They’ve all figured this out for themselves; what’s your problem?

Proud parent

Stop humble-bragging about your kid(s). Humble-bragging is still bragging. In fact, answering a simple question honestly can still be bragging. If somebody asks where your kid is going to college and the honest answer is “MIT,” you cannot answer honestly without being boastful. And don’t settle for a dodge, either. If you say “near Boston” that’s still bragging because you know what the next question will be. The only acceptable answer is “He’s enrolled in the DeVry Technical Institute,” even if it’s not true.

Bucket list

Stop using the term “bucket list.” It’s lame. And no, adding air quotes doesn’t help. Just stop. We don’t even need this phrase because nobody is actually very interested in things you hope to do during your lifetime. Get over yourself.


Before you record your vlog, do a 10-second trial recording and scrutinize it to make sure you don’t have a weird, wiry, paper-white hair growing right out the edge of your ear, or conspicuous dandruff on your dark garment, or anything else that’s grossly human. Also, as you record, resist the temptation to periodically moisten your lips with your tongue, which makes you look like a frog. In short, don’t make your vlog any more painful to watch than it has to be.


Stop beating yourself up over indulging a silly superstition, like not putting a hat on a bed just because you watched Drugstore Cowboy back in 1989. Yes, superstitions are silly, but as habits go they’re pretty harmless, so why waste brain cycles worrying about it? Just don’t embroil others in your superstition. Keep it to yourself.


If you need to sneeze while using an oral thermometer, take the dang thing out of your mouth and cover your face completely. Trying to keep the thermometer in and just cover your nose isn’t going to work—no kleenex can withstand that kind of focused spray. Yes, you’ll have to start all over again taking your temperature. That’s just how it goes.


Stop fretting about using “cheers” to sign off an email even though you’re not British. We Americans stole the rest of their language; why shouldn’t this expression be fair game too?

But seriously

Here are some less flippant suggestions:


Is there actually any point in this annual ritual? Has anybody ever stuck with his or her Resolutions? Well, I looked back at my own from last year, fearing the worst, and was surprised to find that I’d stuck with some of them … sort of:

#1: Get a colonoscopy … it’s time – Done!

#2: Work with a physical therapist – This was supposed to be for my back as a preventive thing. I did end up working with a physical therapist, quite a bit in fact, but because I broke my collarbone. So … done? Sort of?

#3: Research 401(k) catch-up contributions – I actually looked into these, discovered it’s kind of complicated, and decided to leave well enough alone. Done? Ish?

Here’s a Resolution my brother Max suggested last year, which was prescient to say the least:

Be alone with someone else who likes to be left alone and leave each other alone.

Nailed it!

Further reading

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

What’s Wrong with Wonder Woman?


I offer this post as a vlog for those suffering from bibliophobia (fear of reading), along with anybody else who prefers to passively receive words rather than having to decipher them. If you tire of my face, I cannot blame you for closing your eyes and pretending this is a podcast. Be ready to open them, though, for the Wonder Woman photos sprinkled throughout.


To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Wonder Woman as a concept. And there’s nothing wrong with Gal Gadot. (For that matter, I don’t see anything wrong with Barbie, but that’s another post.) The problem is actually with Wonder Woman 1984, the new movie.

I recently watched this with my family (as we somehow have HBO Max now). I frankly didn’t expect to enjoy it much, but in the event found it surprisingly annoying.

To be honest, I’d probably be writing about WW1984 anyway, simply so I could include some photos. Like this one:

Admit it: you’re enjoying albertnet more than usual right now. In fact, you probably decided to check out this post simply because the photo grabbed you. I get that. I’ve noticed lately that my local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, has a tendency to build stories around Wonder Woman photos. I read one about Hollywood’s strategy toward blockbuster movie launches during the pandemic—and I confess, I was pulled in by the Wonder Woman photo more than the subject matter. (I’m sure that was the point in including it, as neither Wonder Woman nor Gal Gadot featured prominently in the story).

There was another Chronicle story recently about one of the WW1984 producers switching to decaf in the afternoons (if I’m remembering correctly). This ran, of course, alongside another Wonder Woman shot. Needless to say the latest humdrum story, about WW1984’s opening week box office take, gave us another great photo. I decided albertnet really needs to get in on this action.

But actually, I have a serious bone to pick with this WW1984 movie, beyond standard-issue lameness, so read on. Here’s another photo, just to fuel you. (Rest assured, there will be more.)

Typical flaws

Needless to say, the movie had the usual flaws associated with movies based on comic books. (I hope I can say this without offending comics lovers; consider that these movies invariably could and should do better at the job of honoring your beloved childhood memories.) As I said, I didn’t expect to love this movie; I only watched it because my kids wanted to (and because as a human I’m absolutely hardwired to enjoy watching Gal Gadot in her awesome costume). But it was a particularly lame movie, not nearly as cool as the first installment. WW1984’s story was needlessly complicated, there wasn’t enough action, and the whole magic-golden-rope thing was lame to begin with. (If the original comic books had Wonder Woman on a pogo stick, would the movie honor that, too? Who cares about fealty to the source material? Jettison the damn lasso already!)

What particularly irked me was the lost opportunity to have a truly strong female hero. This movie (and franchise) had a golden opportunity here and they inexplicably fumbled it.

(In case you’re wondering, my concern with strong female representation isn’t some attempt to be “woke” or selfless or self-congratulatory. As someone who has benefited from the wage gap, unconscious bias around gender, and the ability to pee standing up, you might assume I should be fine with the status quo. But as a parent of daughters, I naturally want humanity to get its act together.)

Is it fair to demand a strong heroine?

When I broached this topic with my 19-year-old daughter, she initially stuck up for the movie, arguing that it’s a comic book action movie, not a work of art or a public service. Does every movie with a woman in it have to be progressive? She’s right, partly—though frankly, one of the big flaws of this movie was how it tried to be deep and have some higher meaning, which goal was far beyond the capabilities of its screenwriters, and nothing the audience asked for anyway.

As the conversation with my daughter progressed (and her sister, who soon joined in), they cried foul as well. We all agree that things started to fall apart the moment the love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) showed up. Look, I get that the movie needed to have eye candy for all viewers, and I don’t have a problem with Steve per se, but Diana just got all soft and mushy as soon as he arrived. She stopped being badass and was mainly clingy and needy, pining for him (I know, bad pun, I couldn’t resist), which was distracting and annoying.

Was this really necessary? Is it that hard to develop strong female characters? We’ve certainly seen a number of great ones. Right off the bat we’ve got Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in Mad Max Fury Road; Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) in True Grit; Judy Hopps in Zootopia; Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) in Silver Linings Playbook, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) in Fargo, and Ava (Alicia Vikander) in Ex Machina. These are not highbrow films designed fundamentally as social commentary; they’re just cool flicks with great female characters who more than hold their own. Furiosa, far from swooning over Max, isn’t particularly interested in him and has bigger fish to fry (and bigger asses to kick). Mattie Ross, at age 14, upstages all the adults around her, calling the shots and never flinching. Judy Hopps, though a tiny rabbit, refuses to accept the lame traffic cop job given to her after she’d finished at the top of her police academy class. Tiffany puts a roomful of retrograde men in their place with the greatest sports-based diatribe I’ve ever heard. Marge Gunderson is just generally badass, this big pregnant unflappable Midwest cop. (I won’t tell you about Ava in case you haven’t yet seen Ex Machina, in which case you should do that right away.)

So why shouldn’t Wonder Woman 1984 give us a character who’s a real leader? Why should we settle for mere eye candy, like what we see below?

Well, I will concede that as eye candy goes, she’s pretty awesome … so I would have settled for merely ho-hum. But what we get is actually insulting.

The crux of the matter

So what exactly do I take such objection to? I shall now explain (and yes, there are tons of spoilers here). The basic plot of the movie is that there’s this “dreamstone” that works like a genie in a bottle. You ask for a wish, and you get it, but there are consequences such as becoming really weak eventually, just like the movie. The main villain, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), whose looks must appeal to somebody because he gets way too much screen time, is all clever so his wish is to become the dreamstone, so he can grant wishes to others, with the caveat that Lord will now take whatever he wants from the person. (It’s even dumber in the movie than I’m making it sound.) Lord takes to the airwaves over military satellites to grant virtually everyone in the world their wishes, which almost causes a nuclear war. Diana thwarts Lord by lassoing his ankle and declaring to the world (by proxy, over the airwaves) that everyone needs to voluntarily rescind his or her wish and get back to truth and love etc., which backs out the bad magic.

So, this willingness to freely give up your big wish is the entire moral center of the movie, and the simple communication of it makes a bigger difference than all the punching, kicking, lassoing, and flying around that Wonder Woman could ever do. And yet, she never would have survived long enough to deliver this message if it weren’t for Steve. You see, Diana had her own wish, which was to have him back (since he’d died in the first movie). So he is reincarnated, inhabiting the body of some random guy (and by the way, this was in no way consensual, but the movie doesn’t seem concerned with that).

So after Diana moons over Steve for at least half an hour, while her strength gradually ebbs, he realizes that to continue on, and save the world, she needs to renounce her wish and give him up. She refuses. She becomes, in fact, stubborn and irrational and petulant about it (just like a woman, we’re apparently meant to conclude), and Steve has to very sternly mansplain the whole thing to her until she eventually capitulates. Only when she obeys him does her strength return. And then she takes his message and saves the world with it. Yay Steve! Way to save the day since obviously Diana was just botching the job!

What the hell is going on here?! Steve isn’t even a superhero! How does he have so much sway, and since when do superheroes rely on average joes to save their bacon? Imagine if Superman became paralyzed with anxiety and indecision until his life coach came and gave him a pep talk, or if Captain America became listless and dissipated and stopped being heroic until some glib politician reminded him how special the USA is. Ridiculous.

Meanwhile (and as my daughter pointed out), how realistic is it that the absolutely gorgeous Diana would be voluntarily single for forty years because she’d been so in love with Steve? Wouldn’t she move on? How heroic is it to be lonely for ever and ever because you heart belongs to one man (whom you knew only for a matter of days), who’s dead and gone? I think it’d have been so much cooler if Steve had shown up suddenly in 1984 only for Diana to say, “Uh, sorry Steve … I’m actually in a relationship.”

But wait, there’s more!

All of this would be bad enough by itself. But there’s also a weak female villain in the movie, which just stinks everything up even more. She’s this meek, nerdily pretty character named Barbara Ann Minerva who is very sweet but awkward, and her wish is to have the same charm, strength, and beauty that Diana has. This being granted, she immediately becomes totally evil. Huh? How does that work? Is that the natural consequence of empowering women—that they become total bitches?

There’s one scene in particular where Barbara, who is gradually turning into The Cheetah (no, she doesn’t seduce a younger man, this is apparently some pre-existing DC Comics character), is walking down a dark alley and some dickhead man, who appears to be homeless or close to it, starts coming on to her. (He’d done this before and Diana saved the day with a single punch to his solar plexus.) Furious, Barbara beats the crap out of the guy. She doesn’t just stop him, she proceeds to give him a total beatdown, kicking the shit out of him for what seems like several minutes. I don’t know how we were supposed to react to this, but it was as awkward for me as the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty. Granted, I don’t know what it’s like to field unwanted advances, but my daughters and wife were weirded out, too.

Again, there’s no reason this movie, with its $200 million budget, couldn’t have done better. Think of the great female villains we’ve enjoyed: Annie Wilkes (Cathy Bates) in Misery; Greta (Isabelle Huppert) in, well, Greta; Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in Sherlock Holmes; Aunty Entity (Tina Turner) in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome; and May Day (Grace Jones) in A View to a Kill. These are intriguing, multi-dimensional characters or at least a lot of fun, or both. In the case of A View to a Kill, Grace Jones was the only good thing about the movie. Is WW1984’s Cheetah good for anything besides running around, beating on people, and shrieking? Well, she does fall in love with the other villain, the douchebag Lord, but that’s hardly endearing. The audience has zero temptation to root for the Cheetah, and I say this as someone who found the character of Satan oddly beguiling in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost.

To make matters worse, the Cheetah in this movie isn’t even fun to watch. She doesn’t have the grace of a cat (which many ballet dancers totally do); she takes you into uncanny valley territory; and she’s pretty much the opposite of eye candy:

Look, WW1984 people, why go for anything like verisimilitude? It’s a person who’s also a cat … could that ever be realistic? Why try, when the viewers of this movie obviously have a weakness for pleasing images and that’s mainly why they showed up? You could have made the Cheetah more like Catwoman:

Sure, this Catwoman doesn’t look much like a cat; I’ve never seen a cat wearing leather. And yet, there’s something catlike—or, if nothing else, something awesome—about the Catwoman above. And speaking of eye candy, let’s have another look at Wonder Woman:

Why is she shushing us? Beats me, but I’m really not complaining. The modern Wonder Woman looks so good … how did they screw this up?

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