Monday, January 31, 2005
Keep a shovelin' that coal and let's roll!
Let's roll, roll, roll, roll, roll...
If her trademark application had gone through, I would have loved to see Lisa Beamer try to sue Liz Phair. It would have been almost as good as the Fifth Circuit's decision on who owns the phrase "back that azz up."
Legal Profession: a visiting professor is teaching this class, and she's made it her mission to convince us that it's not the "dog of the curriculum" that some people think. I had heard that her section of the class was pretty work-intensive from those who took it from her in the fall, but after reading our casebook I am glad not to be in the other section, which is taught by one of the authors. The book is even more slanted than our class discussion today, which seemed to begin with the notion that we all have moral obligations to help each other and went downhill from there. The economically rational perspective was articulated but most members of the class went on the attack. I may have to start speaking in class again. This is also, I believe, my first class with the estimable Mr. Blachman.
Church and State: a very full class taught by a charismatic and energetic visitor. We went over Sherbert and Smith and the professor got over half a dozen people deeply engaged with the material, presented some interesting background information about the development of American religious diversity, and managed to call out the entire Supreme Court - all with a sore throat! This guy's a rock star. Too bad I hear he's heading back to Yale in the fall.
BTW, random kudos to Athena's Mom for having a tag line referencing the Carbolic Smoke Ball case. That's a Contracts classic.
In other news, I am finally sending out my bar registration and application for moral fitness certification. This is happening because I, like Dylan, did not have all my paperwork. My mother had to make a trip to the Harris County courthouse,* old address books had to be dug up, and I had to scrounge up enough character references to satisfy them. Good thing I am not applying for a government job. I hear that they get twitchy if you have fewer than 50 friends. I certainly know 50 people, but I'm probably not "friends" with more than a double handful.
* This was because I had a legal name change when I was adopted by my stepfather. I'm generally in favor of keeping adoption records sealed, but that's because I believe in keeping the terms of a contract even when third parties claim they should be broken. If the state promised an adoptive mother privacy in exchange for her giving up parental rights, then it should keep its bargain. If the mother wants the records unsealed, that's her choice.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
The NZ regulations are interesting. Does this
Workers’ clothing should be comfortable and should not affect the employee’s posture.mean prostitutes should not wear high heels?
(This post inspired by Vice Squad)
It's impressive but somehow silly. You could be a blind painter, but why? Being a blind musician would be easier.
Old School is short and slight, but well written and true. It seems loosely autobiographical. (Wolff, if the credits in This Boy's Life were accurate, was a scholarship student at an Eastern prep school like our narrator; like him, Wolff was expelled.) The school brings famous writers in as visitors and the boys compete for personal audiences with the masters by way of writing contests judged by their idols. This device allows Wolff to show the boys' deep commitment to writing and how reading shapes adolescent character. The chapter discussing Ayn Rand's visit to the school and the narrator's embrace and subsequent rejection of her philosophy captured something common to many teenagers. The narrator's expulsion from school is treated in an oddly amoral manner, but this is consonant with the sentiment expressed by the teacher who takes him to the train station:
"Send a boy packing if he breaks the rules, by all means. Plant a boot in his backside, but do please leave the word honor out of it. . . . No need to be pawing at their souls. Honor Code? Pretentious nonsense."Wolff's an excellent writer, despite his inability to use quotation marks (at least some remarks are attributed, which puts Wolff above the execrable Cormac McCarthy). I would recommend Old School.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
A recent conversation about Oryx and Crake (inspired by this snobbish and blinkered review) spawned the question of whether a book can be considered great if you hate the characters. Not hate as in wouldn't-want-to-hang-out-with or think-should-be-killed, but as in can-barely-stand-reading-about (because they are annoying, tedious, boring, hateful, just plain unlikeable, etc.).
Rejected as having terrible characters that you secretly like, or at least like reading about: A Clockwork Orange, Silence of the Lambs, Les liaisons dangereuese. A possible contender is Wuthering Heights, except I think it's a terrible book in addition to its having a very hateable character or five. (See Jasper Fforde's Well of Lost Plots for an amusing depiction of the awfulness of Heathcliff and Co.).
So: are there any great books that have terrible characters? Comments not just encouraged but demanded.
Friday, January 28, 2005
In some senses these criticisms are well placed. The near-future world in Oryx and Crake is nothing that a hard-core SF fan won't have seen before: genetic engineering run amok, strict segregation between the scientifically literate wealthy classes and the rabble teeming on the rest of the earth, man-made plague, artificial Edens. But this work stands out for Atwood's grasp of the pace of revelation (no monologuing here) and its skill at sketching character (whether any of the characters besides Oryx is someone we'd like to know is another matter). Her vision of the world is vivid, but her characters are unlikeable or inscrutable. The narrator is a rather annoying fellow; nearly superfluous in his own society, he's only marginally necessary to the tale, aside from stepping in at two crucial points in of the story. The flashback structure which gives those events narrative punch means we are forced to slog through survivalist interludes with him before coming back to the real meat of the tale.
Like most apocalyptic fiction, this book doesn't leave one with a rush of pleasure. And for the aforementioned hard-core fan, it doesn't leave one with the rush of excitement that the illustration of challenging new ideas can bring. Atwood is a marvelous writer, and she's to be commended for attacking speculative fiction once more, especially in a work that addresses what some see as pressing ethical concerns of our time. But I couldn't help but think that her immense literary talents are better used in works such as Alias Grace or The Blind Assassin - works with a lighter touch, more deft characterization, and less pedantic themes.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
That explains my dawdling, for I knew that any ending would inevitably disappoint. King already has terminal diarrhea of the word processor and is too big a name to submit to rigorous editing anymore. He wrote himself into the tale and out of it again. He took us on 800 page detours without giving more than the barest outlines of other past events. Yet I persisted. Like Roland, I had come too far to turn back.
Books 6 and 7 of the Dark Tower series cannibalize King's own writing, since he's using them to tie together the threads of his books that only elliptically refer to the quest. But they also needlessly cannibalize others' works, randomly snipe at "literary fiction" authors who King had a personal tiff with a few years ago, and whipsaw between reluctance to deprive the reader of a happy ending (mere saccharine pandering) and brutal savagery. I much prefer the latter, but even that sags; King's horrific images are repetitions of what he's given us in earlier books of even earlier chapters.
The quest has ended, and supposedly King's career has as well. I bid him farewell, and thank that younger King for the pleasure he gave. For the King in this world, the King who wove himself within the tale, I have less warm regard. But I respect him for at least partially repressing his urge to throw us all back into the journey again. For me, once is enough.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
take the WHAT INTENTIONAL TORT ARE YOU test.
and go to mewing.net. because law school made laura do this.
So with An Equal Music. Vikram Seth's second prose novel is a story of one artist's tiny madnesses: his obsession with the lost love, Julia, his looming fear of having to give up his borrowed violin, his sleepwalking through life. Emotional walls are thrown up willy-nilly. Michael, our hero, cannot bring himself to confront or forgive his old teacher, a tyrant of expectations who drove him to a nervous breakdown that made him flee his studies in Vienna and thus abandon Julia. His partners in the string quartet have a long list of topics that may not be brought up (mostly relating to past members of the quartet). And Michael cannot bring himself to ask his elderly benefactress to give him the valuable violin she has lent him for most of his life, leaving him always on the edge of losing his livelihood.
The narrative takes us through Michael's re-introduction to his first and only love, their guilt-ridden and bittersweet affair, and his eventual estrangement. Michael has spells of disconnectedness and panic attacks that would send the average person to a psychiatrist, but here seem to act as mere devices to accent the poignance of certain scenes and his own artistic temperment.
If the characters had gone much of anywhere, I might have enjoyed this novel more. Seth's writing is lovely, and his grasp of psychology is acute. But the characters wallow in their own miseries without learning to deal with them, and despite their hopping from London to Vienna to Venice (all cities I love or shall love, and which Seth evokes skillfully), they come back to more or less the same positions at the story's end. By the last page I wanted to shake Michael and ask him what the good of all of it might have been. That's no way to feel at the end of a book.
Monday, January 24, 2005
I am running behind on the 50 Book challenge, but I am about to curl up with book number 4, so perhaps I'll have a review for you tomorrow.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Brian asks why I blog. It's not an intellectual outlet. I tend to keep it light around here, if only because the drain of law school has severely reduced my enthusiasm for the intellectual pursuits I once found so consuming. Hopefully a summer vacation with minimal obligations (bar study, teaching myself Latin for fun) will give me a chance to decompress; perhaps then this blog will be more of an intellectual outlet (not least because I will doubtlessly be faced with many intriguing problems as a clerk that will lead me into backwaters of the law that I'll feel compelled to share).
The blog has functioned as a great way to keep up with old friends, but that wasn't my reason for starting it. I started blogging because I spent such a huge amount of time reading blogs and surfing the internet. This meant I found tons of interesting things and people, most of which I was only able to pass along to my long-suffering flatmate. I also had very strong opinions about some of these people and things, but I'm constitutionally incapable of jumping into a discussion in which I feel I don't belong. I once paid for a year-long membership to a message board and then stopped posting because I felt like an intruder in their close clique. I don't email bloggers as a rule - it feels too intimate and intrusive. So how to convey my thoughts without imposing? Setting up a blog seemed ideal; if I wasn't interesting, I could be ignored, and friends could check in at their leisure rather than absorb a stream of random references.
This sounds astonishing pathetic and it is. But that's why I blog: because I am too shy to interact with people in any other way, and because I can't keep things like this to myself.
The view from my front door.
From the back door.
We recently received the following email:
Hi everyone-This seems to assume we won't lose power and telephone access. Fingers are crossed.
At this point, classes and exams are still scheduled for Monday (an announcement to that effect is posted on the registrar's exam page).
In the event that anything changes, announcements would be made
in the following ways:
1. The front page of the law school's web page would be updated.
2. An email would be sent to the entire HLS community announcing a closing.
3. An announcement would be available on the law school's snow hotline (617-496-SNOW).
I hope you are all safe and warm and not stuck in an airport right now.
Incidentally, Bound is one of the best noirish caper dramas I've seen in a long time. The promise of the Wachowski brothers was painfully apparent throughout (painful because I paid to see Matrix 2 & 3) and the pairing of a sultry Jennifer Tilly with a sulky and sexy Gina Gershon is something to see. A recommended rental.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
(I always assumed that the name New Crobuzon signified the age and corruption of the city - that perhaps an age ago the city of Crobuzon had been razed and a successor built on the midden pile of the old. But that's rank speculation, and the D&D explanation definitely matches the author's biography.)
Friday, January 21, 2005
The film manages to combine the sadly and poignantly realistic (the carefully selected tool kit Lee uses to cut herself, the well-meaning parents of Lee's sometime boyfriend) with more outlandish elements (the overdone lushness of the office, the bed of grass, a date in which Lee drinks wine at a laundromat, and of course the intricate rituals and devices set up by Lee and her employer in their S&M relationship) in such a way as to evoke a truly organic weirdness. And how many love stories today end with the happily married woman gleefully tossing a dead bug on the marital bed? I highly recommend Secretary to anyone who is interested in finding out about alternative ways of loving or in seeing a pair of truly dysfunctional people find a way to cope with their problems instead of going through some unlikely metamorphosis to normality.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Since I was involved in a discussion of libertarian and conservative women in DC this summer, I thought an additional data point might be interesting to some readers.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Spring break in Ibiza (one possible destination for my soon-to-be married friend's last spring break as a single woman)
Hot or not? An analysis of 1-10 rating scales by Glen Whitman. (BTW, that Dudley Moore movie bites)
More informative than three seasons of Oz: this post on prison guards.
And an anonymous poster at Clearly Erroneous relates the tale of a wealthy acquaintance who received hGH treatment and ended up with an endowment proportional to his family fortune. Side effects of hGH do include "swelling of the soft tissues in the body" and "abnormal growth of the hands, feet and face." Yowsa.
And yet all the bitter Yalies serving their law school sentences at HLS grouse about how much they miss it. Scheherazade Fowler lists it as one of the best places to live (ranking above San Diego!). I can only hope that Will Baude will not succumb to the warping influence of this malevolent burg.
Monday, January 17, 2005
It is no "cruel hoax" of feminism that they are so hard to find and that instead we have an excess of insecure bullying louts out there. Maybe it is up to us feminists to breed with the good guys like crazy and then raise really great, secure and intelligent boys, thereby bringing hope to the next generation.Nina Sankovitch, meet Sheri Tepper.
I think Maureen Dowd would really get off on being part of the Marthatown Women's Council and having a servitor.
"The sisterhood has been let down when women can’t accept the natural stages in their life."So remember, ladies: when you have children late in life, you're not just flouting David Brooks's recommendations, you're letting down the sisterhood.
Seriously, the woman is single and 66; it wasn't the wisest choice in the world. But on the stupid decision scale, it's hardly worthy of international protest.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Copy this list of 10 authors. Remove the ones not on your bookshelves and replace each of them with ones that are (replaced authors are in bold).My List:
1. Audrey Niffenegger
2. Dave Eggers
3. A.S. Byatt
4. Nancy Farmer
5. Alexander Dumas
6. Don DeLillo
7. Margaret Atwood
8. Art Spiegelman
9. E.L. Doctorow
10. William Shakespeare
1. Jeffrey Eugenides
2. Umberto Eco
3. A.S. Byatt
4. Jane Austen
5. John Irving
6. Italo Calvino
7. Czeslaw Milosz
8. Vikram Seth
9. Vladimir Nabokov
10. William Shakespeare
But to the book: The epistolary format's one weakness is that in order to depict a character as boring, simple, and naive, we must read entire letters from that person's point of view. This could have been more than a little tiresome, but the character development undergone by most of the initially unengaging personalities saves the reader from this fate. My ability to imagine the characters themselves was severely hampered by repeated viewings of the 1988 film adaptation, but this is a weakness on my part, not the book's.
The Marquise may be one of the great Machiavellian women of literature. One can almost have no sympathy for her, but she is, as the author wishes us to know, simply a creature of her times, the most successfully adapted of all those women driven to artifice and deceit by the demands of the culture and religion. In contrast, Valmont comes across as far more self-absorbed and far less skillful. It's no surprise that he loses their war.
One note: 18th and 19th century literature (and its predecessors) all too often gives us the image of the woman who literally dies of love: she pines, falls into a swoon, perishes of a sudden fever or convulsion. This book is no exception. To whst extent can this be a real phenomenon along the lines of psychosomatic illness or "voodoo"?
Saturday, January 15, 2005
More good news: the proposed law requiring pregnant women to report to police within 12 hours of a miscarriage has been pulled.
Huzzah for internet activism! The state legislator who drafted the bill was not pleased to be "blogged" and is upset that nobody spoke with him before discussing his bill on the internet. So take note, bloggers: you might want to ask permission from our elected representatives before talking about them online. *snicker*
I was a short child and have become a short adult. Memories of having my growth plotted by the pediatrician on a red chart, with my tiny data point always off below the curve of "normal" kids still stand out. My genetic legacy was to blame: my banty rooster of a grandfather and father, a 5'0" grandmother, a 4'10" mother. I always took it for granted that I would top out around 4'8". It seemed destined. And at some point (I think when I was seven or eight), the doctors asked my parents if they would consider hGH treatment. They discussed it with me, and I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to be normal-sized, to be like other children. And my mother, who had to get a medical waiver to be able to serve in the military because of her height, said no.
So I was stuffed in lockers, tossed in trash cans, picked up by much larger bullies and harassed. My parents turned down a school offer to allow me to skip a grade because they were aware that the social disadvantages of my size would only be greater in a group of older children. Maybe this has given me more "character" than I'd otherwise have developed. But so would other forms of adversity, like a giant birthmark or a childhood brush with cancer. I resent the Leon Kasses of the world, who seem to think that they should decide how my character should develop, who use the abnormal as means to an end of encouraging virtue and tolerance in the broader society. Life might not be roses if I'd reached 5'4", but there are distinct advantages that would have accrued, and I will fight anyone who seeks to deny those advantages to future children out of some false sense of the merit of genetic chance.
Friday, January 14, 2005
As a war film, the movie does a fine job of conveying the misery of World War I and the horrors it inflicted on the soldiers: horrors that motivated four men to mutilate themselves in an attempt to escape the front (a fifth was wrongly convicted after shooting himself by accident). It also succeeds in sympathetically depicting cowardice. Unlike the protagonist in Saving Private Ryan, the condemned men did not impose the consequences of their inability to continue fighting on the men around them, except in the sense that by trying to be sent home they left the trenches less protected. However, the war scenes are some of the most baffling in the movie; the parties depicted are integrally important to the mystery plotline, but telling apart a dozen mustachoied Frenchmen who are covered in mud makes things rather difficult.
The plot is complex, but the unlikely coincidences (Mathilde's cafe encounter with a German woman who just happens to have a clue to Manech's fate, her sudden ability to break the code in a letter) weaken an already shaky and convoluted structure with the additional burden of their unbelievabilty. A carefully plotted mystery should be like a pocket watch. In AVLE, the director's inability to resist throwing in interludes that do little to advance the story (the most obvious example is the ten minute sequence involving an unbilled Jodie Foster as the wife of a man who was friends with a man who was condemned with Manech) hampers the pacing and detracts from our engagement with the puzzle of what happened in the trenches. Like Mathilde, the movie limps along.
While one reviewer took issue with the lack of passion between Mathilde and Manech, I found their lightly traced progression from childhood sweethearts to engaged lovers sufficient to believably motivate Mathilde's obsessive search. But AVLE shares one defect with Amelie: it's too long. "Overstuffed" was the adjective one reviewer used, and I tend to agree. By the film's end, we're so worn from pursuing loose ends and red herrings that the relief we feel upon resolving the mystery is more of a sagging collapse than a singing triumph. And the film's ending is problematic for another reason . . .
SPOILERS FOLLOW (highlight to read): Mathilde finds out that Manech is still alive, but has lost his memory. She finds him, gentle and kind, but oblivious to their history, and "looks at him, looks at him." I could not help but ask myself what would happen next. Will Mathilde try to make Manech fall in love with her so her feelings for another version of him are reciprocated? What is the point of finding an old lover if he doesn't even know you? Mathilde's love for Manech reminds me of parents who wish to clone a child they've lost; he may look and even act the same, but it's not the same person, and pretending it is seems unhealthy.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
- Secret Asian Man, Da Vinci's Notebook
- Praise, Kinnie Starr
- Kamikaze, PJ Harvey
- Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Santa Esmerelda
- Favorite Shade of Blue, The Softies
- Can't Hardly Wait, The Replacements
- Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Nina Simone
- Ghetto, Supreme Beings of Leisure
- Cancan, Moulin Rouge Soundtrack
- Malibu, Hole
A repeat test yields:
- The Full Monty, Anne Dudley
- Battersea, Hooverphonic
- Runnin' Down a Dream, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- It's De-Lovely, Ella Fitzgerald
- Push It, Garbage
- Battle Without Honor or Humanity, Tomoyasu Hotei
- Who Am I (What's My Name?), Snoop Dogg
- Rose Tint My World, Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Walking on Sunshine, Katrina and the Waves
- Straight Outta Compton, NWA
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Not that I need to work that hard. You know how Zaphod Beeblebrox makes plans and then forces himself to forget about them, because otherwise they wouldn't work? I've been working myself like a dog researching and writing my 3L paper, because I remembered only two things about the deadline I turned in on the paperwork to the registrar: it was this semester, and it was in close proximity to some noteworthy day. I had this sense of creeping dread and decided that meant it was due on Valentine's Day: thus the torturous pace. But after having my productivity hampered by this cold, I thought it best to double check and see if I would need an extension.
The email came from the registrar. My self-imposed (and tongue in cheek) deadline? April 15th. Tax day.
*Heaves sigh of relief; kicks self for not keeping a copy of the paperwork and preventing this whole mess -- but if I had, would I have eleven pages written by now? Probably not. The value of masochism and studied ignorance manifests itself . . .*
Gay Factor 1.3
60% Anglo-Saxon, 39% Eastern European, <1% Middle Eastern
YOUR ARCHETYPE: Beta Academic
You are a long-term planner, diligent worker and avoid risk as much as possible. You are of above average intelligence and have the ability to focus on tasks that seem unimportant at present, but can lead to greater things in the foreseeable future. You are not keen to interact with others or make social connections. You would rather gain material wealth before putting yourself in a position to be judged. You are not confrontational unless someone directly opposes your intellectual beliefs. You are highly concerned with your social status. You are keen to avoid risks that could jeopardize your long-term plans. You take a calculated approach to life, working hard to control all aspects of it in order to not leave anything important to chance.
You tend to be a perfectionist and quite self-conscious. You sometimes wish you were less reserved and more like some others you see who are more bold and outspoken in social situations. But as much as you try to be like them, you cannot, because you care too much about the future to ever be comfortable taking risks in social situations.
Beta academic: Not as intelligent or ambitious as Alpha Academics, but still focused on being materially successful.
Expected Occupations: Lawyer, Doctor, Investment Analyst, Accountant, Architect, Engineer, Professor, Researcher, Psychologist
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Monday, January 10, 2005
1. What did you do in 2004 that you’d never done before? I went to the former Eastern Bloc. I worked in a law firm. And I drove to Delaware.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn’t make any last year. This year I am trying to read 50 books and blog about them.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No.
4. Did anyone close to you die? No.
5. What countries did you visit? Turkey, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovak Republic (on the train only), Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria.
6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004? Ten straight board game victories over Will Baude. Admission to the bar. A job I am passionate about.
7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory? June 12.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting a federal appellate clerkship.
9. What was your biggest failure? Getting terrible grades.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No more so than usual.
11. What was the best thing you bought? New sneakers.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My sister transferred to Rice University.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Everyone involved with the election of 2004.
14. Where did most of your money go? I buried it in a hole in the ground. No, really, I saved a lot of money in 2004. Yay for firm jobs.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? My personal life. Living in D.C. again. Traveling.
16. What song/album will always remind you of 2004? A Kiss to Build a Dream On, by Louis Armstrong. And Fighter, by Christina Aguilera.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
• Happier or sadder? Oodles happier. But perhaps more stressed.
• Thinner or fatter? My NP says I am the same. My pants agree.
• Richer or poorer? Slightly richer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Working on my paper last spring, reading books.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Surfing the internet. Seriously, it’s unhealthy how much I’m online.
20. How will you be spending Christmas? Pbbth.
21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with? My boyfriend.
22. Did you fall in love in 2004? See above.
23. How many one-night stands in this last year? Zero.
24. What was your favorite TV program? No TV.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Yes.
26. What was the best book(s) you read? Don Quixote.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Mashups.
28. What did you want and get? A certain someone.
29. What did you want and not get? A certain geographical proximity to that someone.
30. What were your favorite films of this year? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Incredibles, Garden State, and Saved!
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I went to Monticello. I was 24.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A winter escape to New Zealand.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004? Preppy slob in winter, flappy dresses in summer.
34. What kept you sane? The light at the end of the tunnel: graduation.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I didn’t fancy any particular celebrity.
36. What political issue stirred you the most? Reproductive rights.
37. Who did you miss? Just about any pop culture not filtered through Fametracker.com, most major media news that didn’t get filtered through blogs, and all the election debates. On purpose.
38. Who was the best new person you met? See Question 21.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004. If people say, “nobody cares about grades if you went to Harvard,” kick them in the knees.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. I feel the sun on my back/I smell the earth in my skin/I see the sky above me like a full recovery . . .
(More on Mucha and Modigliani - it's an arts and gender kind of day.)
Relevant to the discussion below: you can also feminize a man's photo or masculinize a woman's. Participants in the great gender debate are encouraged to check themselves out.
Women learn to be women/And men learn to be men/And I don't blame it all on you/But I don't want to be your friend
men need women to be women and women need men to be men. And if you don't know what that means, or know and object to it, then life among the humans may turn out to be tough for you.Julian Sanchez is also unsure. Is the point that men require women to conform to whatever their cultural standard of femininity may be, even if that's not constant from culture to culture? Whither attraction toward the androgynous? Why does every culture need a binary division to which we must conform? What is going on here?
But yes, life is difficult if you lack an easily followed map to obtaining culturally important goals in life that pertain to relations between the sexes or if you reject those goals outright.
UPDATE: Will Wilkinson backtracks a bit here. Matthew Yglesias (on his shiny new site - pretty!) says we shouldn't let that get in the way of a good fight. I agree!
Sunday, January 09, 2005
"I knew it was 10 cents a message," she said, "but I didn't really realize how much that would add up."Because adding it up and modifying your behavior accordingly would require self control, as well as some basic intelligence. Says one principal:
"The students are not reading the fine print. No one understands the contract until they get the first bill and it's $800."Moral of the story: ask questions, read the fine print, and if you can't read the fine print or add up 10 and 10, take it up with your local incompetent school principal.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
But Sexing the Cherry does not live up to the promise of that work. The best parts of the novel deal with a Rabelaisian giantess in Charles II's England, who narrates from the perspective of an outsider who has never known sexual love. Her son, a foundling, narrates the remainder of the novel. He sails the seven seas and his own imagination, retells fairy tales and recounts his pursuit of a woman who doesn't exist (sometimes these are the same stories), and brings strange fruits back to England. Winterson's meditations on the nature of time might seem profound to someone who has not read other superior works treating that subject, but her final decision to locate the characters in a modern setting and to toss in some strident feminist and environmentalist arguments derails the fragile narrative and breaks the reader from the fairy tale spell wrought by the previous hundred pages.
If you wish to delve into Winterson's writing, I recommend Gut Symmetries or Written on the Body instead (she is best known for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, but I've not read it and thus can't speak to its quality).
Friday, January 07, 2005
Thursday, January 06, 2005
(Please rate my quiz)
Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
(Via E. McPan)
50 Book Challenge #1: The Crying of Lot 49
"desert Arabs in Niger . . . [whose] women strive to be as fat as possible. Girls are force-fed to achieve this ideal; stretch marks are regarded as beautiful. Yet somehow this beauty norm doesn't create the same sense of anguish that afflicts Western women striving for thinness . . . In Niger, failing to achieve the prevailing beauty standard isn't a personal failure; it just means someone has bewitched you, or you have a thin constitution."A specific account of the anguish produced by such methods is outlined here. I would rather be an American neurotic strapped to a treadmill than have my female relatives feed me until my skin split open, but then I am rather stubborn and thus could probably look forward to broken fingers and toes under the fat-positive system.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Monday, January 03, 2005
But did my evil postman deliver my mail today, the selected end date? No. So I have to go to the damn post office tomorrow, and they will probably claim to have no idea what I'm talking about because I did it online, and if they do they will claim that it's out for delivery/was already supposed to be delivered -- unless, of course, they returned it all to sender again.
Bastards. Government monopolies must be destroyed. I demand an alternative to my passive aggressive mailman. He is probably using my credit card bills to insulate his house or something. The ones he doesn't leave in a soggy lump in the bottom of my open mailbox, of course.
On a bloggier note, this site has taken my favorite form of entertainment in public places and brought it online.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Milbarge also attempts to deflect some of the anti-Crescat hostility that emerged in the anti-Blachman postings. Don't be haters! Contrary to what you might think, the Crescatters read fiction and watch American movies. I can personally testify to one Crescatter's consumption of both Spiderman 2 and Lemony Snicket, a fantasy series for children.
I disregarded the comparisons to Ulysses (never read it, probably never will) and the "postmodern" tag. I slogged through 400+ pages of agglomerated anecdotes. But now that I've finally made my way to the story, I feel sufficiently drained of energy and enthusiasm that I can barely bring myself to continue. I procrastinate to avoid reading a novel I bought for pleasure. Clearly this is not the time in my life for an 864 page postmodern exploration of family history, fathers, and sons. I suppose the midpoint is the ideal time to set a book like this aside; I can take up the narrative at some point when I am in need of a story, instead of after I've been flooded with hundreds of retellings of the family life of dead Hungarians.
GN: By the time I left, it had warmed up and all two feet melted.
BN: I had to part from the darling boyfriend.
GN: We'll be seeing each other again in a matter of weeks.
BN: When I arrived home, our internet service had been cut off.
GN: A phone call rectified the situation and I am again plugged into the Matrix.
BN: I have no food and I must eat!
BN: Class starts tomorrow.
GN: The class is full of people with very, er, strong opinions. Even if the subject matter doesn't turn out to be exciting, the discussion should be fabulous. And I am excited about the professor!
Saturday, January 01, 2005
1. The Crying of Lot 49
2. Sexing the Cherry
3. Les Liaisons Dangereuses
4. An Equal Music
5. A Song for Susannah & 6. The Dark Tower
7. Oryx & Crake
8. Old School
9. Old Man's War
12. Look to Windward
14. Blankets & 15. Atonement
16. Wide Sargasso Sea, 17. Dry, & 18. Invisible Cities
19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
20. A Changed Man
21. The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh
22. Norwegian Wood
23. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
24. Selected Stories by Alice Munro
25. The Little Friend
26. The Stars My Destination
27. Thinking in Pictures
28. The Lathe of Heaven & 29. The Remains of the Day
30. A House for Mr. Biswas
31. Bastard Out of Carolina
32. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
33. Cloud Atlas
34. Pilate's Wife
35. The Curse of Chalion
36. Paladin of Souls & 37. The Hallowed Hunt
38. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
39. Never Let Me Go
40. Master & Commander
41. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2
42. The Historian
43. We Need to Talk About Kevin
44. Dark of the Gods
45. Falling Free & 46. Ethan of Athos
47. The Fifth Child
48. Niccolo Rising & 49. Small Island
50. Water Music
51. Mirror Dance, 52. Komarr, 53. A Civil Campaign, & 54. Diplomatic Immunity
55. On Love
56. The Wasp Factory
57. Player of Games
58. The Traveler
60. Inside Job
61. Magical Thinking
62. The Plot Against America
63. A Feast For Crows
64. City of Diamond
65. Children of God
66. A Canticle for Leibowitz & 67. The Wise Woman
68. As She Climbed Across The Table
69. Under the Banner of Heaven
70. Girl in Landscape
71. Monstrous Regiment, 72. Going Postal, & 73. Thud!
75. In the Heart of the Sea