Wednesday, April 22, 2015


"Your Fave Is Problematic, And That's Okay For You, But They Still Need To Apologize"

We tend to hold the people of whom we are fans to the same moral standards we hold friends, often expecting them to echo our politics or sensibilities in the same way that their art, whatever it may be, speaks to us. By definition, fame requires those on the outside looking in to rely on imagination to prop up celebrity narratives; the public's glimpses into the lives and personalities of the famous are so mediated that though we think we know, we have no idea. Fame encourages us to fill in the blank spaces around these people with what we want to see, with what reaffirms our pre-existing assumptions. It's no surprise, then, that when it comes to art we like, and to the artists who make it, we expect to see reflections of ourselves in them, even on the simplest of levels.

Ultimately, I'm fairly confident Björk is not a hateful person. But, as a longtime fan, it's the privilege that empowers her to prioritize her commentary about sound over the lives of black people, past and present, that stings most.

Rawiya Kameir on Björk is your afternoon required reading.

How to Name a Baby

zeldaIn the earliest days of pregnancy, the easiest thing to focus on, when you know nothing of parenting or babies or life after giving birth, is what you will name the baby. Josh and I didn’t so much “focus” on it as we glossed over it, around it, and through it, nightly, as we gathered ourselves onto the couch with Penny, our dog. “How did we name Penny?” Josh asked one of those early, first trimester nights. “You named her,” he added. “Yes,” I agreed, always happy to take credit for anything good we have done. “Well,” I continued, “I remember looking at her, after she fell off the couch, talking about the spot on her head, and it was really copper, and I thought, ‘Oh! Like a Penny!’”

A few days after naming Penny, I emailed my cousin a photo of her. “She looks JUST like our dog Penny!” she said. My heart sank. There was, in fact, another Penny. Inspector Gadget had a Penny. I knew a Penny in grade school. The TV show Lost had a Penny. The world was, in fact, lousy with Pennys. “I’m not so original, maybe!” I thought. But Penny grew into her name until, she was the only Penny I know. She inhabits the Penny name better than any Penny, before or after.

So, when I thought of naming my child, I took Penny as an example of “good naming.” I would name my child as I had named my Chihuahua: a good, strong name, not very common but not so obscure that it stuck out. And, for whatever reason, I operated, in the earliest days of my pregnancy, under the false assumption that my baby was a boy; I considered the possibility that it would be a girl, but discarded it because naming a girl seemed like a chore. Our son’s name would be Max. It was the only obvious and pleasing choice. READ MORE


By Any Other Name

White-Teeth-006My son Kunal is biracial. Multiethnic might be more accurate—he is part white American from my husband Kris, part Indian from me. When he was born the first thing I said was, through the grin that had spread across my face, Wow, he’s really white. I was being funny, but no one in the operating room laughed. Maybe there was something in my voice that said to them that I wasn’t joking, at least not entirely.

Throughout my pregnancy, I had been worried about Kunal not looking like me. I would look at white teenagers hanging out in the ice-cream shops where I live, and think—what if he ends up looking like that, or liking a girl (or a boy) who looks like that? Would I see myself in him? Would he see himself in me? Out loud, to friends, I’d say, “I hope the baby gets all of Kris’ genes!” And that wasn’t a complete lie; Kris has good genes. But I worried that people wouldn’t know immediately, without a doubt, that my son was mine, that they would scan the crowd to find the parent of the crazy kid running in the park and look right past me. Sometimes that fear crawled into my throat and closed it up. READ MORE


Come Be Obsessed With Coming To America

arsenio i miss you
Coming To America was on ABC Family last night, and I don't know about you, but for me that movie is a movie I have to stop everything to watch. I don't care what my other plans were, if Coming To America is on, that's what's happening. I regularly imagine which friends of mine fit in which roles. My husband is definitely the old Jewish guy in the barber shop. I aspire to be a Lisa but in reality I'm Elaine Kagan.

Here are a few other thoughts I have on Coming To America:

1. "Soul Glo" is the catchiest song ever written.
2. If they live in Queens how did they get to the Brooklyn Bridge promenade so quickly for dinner?
3. From the looks of the palace, Zamunda is actually in South Beach.
4. I need to see the Tamil language version of this movie.
5. When Eddie Murphy says "I'm not interested in Darryl either" my clit explodes.

OK now it's your turn.

...in their love for guns and pizza, Canadians seem to be more stereotypically American in their emoji usage than Americans are.

Poop, pizza; seems about right. | April 22, 2015


Jazz Cartier, "Wake Me Up When It's Over"

This is my favorite song from "Marauding in Paradise;" in my biased opinion, it seems like there are lots of good things coming from Toronto these days.


When You Put A Stripper Pole In Your House

it me
Pole dancing gets a lot of flack. Either you’re a stripper, and that’s seen as a bad thing even though all it means is you are probably really strong and know how to walk effortlessly in heels and get lots of money thrown at you, or you’re the type of person who falls for fad workouts. Pole fitness has been and on and off “trend” for years, with plenty of hand-wringing about it being feminist enough, or #actually acrobatics or whatever.


Anyway, I’m not here to sell you on pole dancing. It’s either your thing or it isn’t. But it is my thing, so much so that I installed a pole in my living room for personal practice.



Lydia Davis is Smarter Than Me

I have a one-sided love affair with languages, in that I believe that I can better understand the world metaphorically if I could only understand it more literally. I studied French and Spanish in school, and have over the years attempted to teach myself Hindi, Russian, Dutch, German and Danish, with varying degrees of success, usually using some combination of free resources including grammar books from the library, podcasts, polyglot forums, apps (Duolingo I love you so much Duolingo), the "foreign movies" section on Netflix, whatever. Yet every time I start to feel comfortable with a language and try to communicate in it or turn the subtitles, I am immediately reminded that, haha, no, I don't actually know anything about anything, also I can't barely even do English good, who am I fooling.

I've never read any of Lydia Davis's original work, but I have read her translation of Madame Bovary. Lydia Davis understands languages in the way that I only dream about. Lydia Davis can get to the heart a story written in her second or third language better than I can with a story written in my native tongue. Lydia Davis is currently teaching herself Norwegian using a single book, which has been described as "unreadable" by Norwegian critics, and which she is simultaneously translating into English, because Lydia Davis is better than any of us:

“It all started with a resolution. After my books started coming out in various countries, I made a decision: Any language or culture that translates my work, I want to repay by translating something from that language into English, no matter how small. It might end up being just one poem or one story, but I would always translate something in return.

Lydia Davis, how are you real? Lydia Davis, would you like to come over and watch Norwegian movies on Netflix? Lydia Davis, have you seen Turn Me On, Dammit!? I've already watched it, Lydia Davis, but I'd be willing to watch it again with you.

Acceptable Catcalls

4619835763_72e4b77c9b_bHoooo boy,

You look like someone who really knows how to PROCESS things. I can tell you’ve been hitting the shrink lately because you look like you’ve been making progress on your historically fraught relationship with food! I’d like to get you and your doctor alone in a room and support you while you tell her why you think it’s time to decrease your dose of SSRIs. READ MORE


The Best Time I Went to Christian Charm School

LfVBPS7UoYB5rx7csldkZgzuI4SNT_LUvcBuMxcAks0In 1981, supermodel Cheryl Tiegs wore a plaid shirt on the cover of the Sears catalog. Tootsie Roll lip balm was the latest innovation in skin care, and Leggs pantyhose took up more aisle space than you'd think in drugstores.

That was the year I attended Christian charm class. In the same decade where Madonna sang about feeling like a virgin, the Christian Charm Manual was required reading for girls at my school.

I attended a Baptist school befitting my family’s evangelical fundamentalist persuasions. Girls wore skirts that extended at least two inches below our knees, a detail subject to inspection by the principal’s wife, who wore her hair in a permanent beehive. But the dress code wasn’t enough in 1981. It was time for our official submissiveness training.

The pink-accented manual still in my possession is a meandering onslaught of Biblical warnings and hair care instructions. Early in the workbook, the prayer to become a born-again Christian is complemented, presumably for the first time in 2,000 years of church history, by another vow: “I want to be attractive and charming, so that I will please others. I realize that this will not come about through wishful dreaming...I must work toward that goal diligently and steadfastly.”

I was already a literalist—I believed I would live forever in a mansion in heaven, where I would wear a crown to show how admirably I’d conducted myself on earth. Adding religion to my beauty care wasn’t my biggest leap of faith. READ MORE


Shipwreck Champagne Tasted, Enjoyed

"It was impossible to smell," Prof Jeandet said, because of the tiny quantity. "But it was fabulous—just tasting 100 microlitres."

He remembers flavours of tobacco and leather, he said. "The taste remained for two or three hours."

Champagne from an 1840s shipwreck allegedly tastes like your grandpa.


"I'll play you." "For what?" "For your heart."

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of Love & Basketball, which I re-watched this weekend and am pleased to report still holds up, would highly recommend you do the same and then come back so we can talk about our feelings, I'll be here all day.


Miguel, "Do You..."

A song that functions as both a question and a promise, posted today for no particular reason.


How Divorce Works According to The 1998 Remake Of The Parent Trap

maybe they just loved each other tooooooo much
1. There will only be one photo of you. Upon your divorce, you will ceremoniously rip it in half, and gift the half depicting you to your ex. This is entirely normal.

2. Should you have children, a custody official will see it perfectly fit to separate them, so long as you have already called dibs on your favorite. Definitely make sure to get the one with the English accent.


I Can't Wear Heels

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 4.15.28 PM
and it tears me up inside!!!!!!!!!!!

On Friday I took a real lunch break to celebrate the incredible weather, doing that wide-eyed blinkey thing people who live on the garbage side of this planet’s hemisphere do when all the snow goes away and you’re really, really sure it will never come back, just like “ah sunshine,” faces tilted up like dumb little tulips. So I was out partially because of the weather and partially because I had ordered these shoes off The Internet™ from a mass-market mall brand that waives the shipping fees if you pick up the item in store which seemed like a responsible decision. The shoes are pretty cute, but honestly, the only reason I ordered them was because they were the only reasonably-heighted heels that came in my size. Do you know how rare it is to find heels in my size?!? For the record, I wear a size 5, yes I know that is cartoonishly small, yes I know it’s a miracle I can even stand upright, moving right along. Anyway, as soon as I saw the size 5 number I was like SOLD put these on my body immediately.

I have a Cool Wedding™ to attend in early June and the prospect of going in flats was weighing heavily on my tiny feet for a lot of reasons. First, I love heels the way I love all the most impractical kinds of fashion: recklessly, stupidly. Heels, when worn correctly, fake a kind of self-assurance and strength in their wearer. The sound they make!! The shape of your legs, elongated by a crisp point!! They connote power and they force a very unnatural kind of grace because every step matters so much. No one can forget they’re wearing heels while they’re wearing them. Heels encourage mindfulness. And, I mean, they just look fucking sexy. They’re gorgeous and terrifying, two qualities I’d most like to embody in my daily life.

But I go back and forth between two competing instincts: first, trying to make peace with the fact that I cannot walk properly in heels, and more than that, three hours in a pair of ill-fitting heels and the pain will turn me into such a monster no one will ever mistake me for a gorgeous boss bitch and just a red-faced menace, and that the beauty of heels comes from the confidence the wearer feels in said heels, and since I do not have that I just have to embrace cool flats or slight platforms with whatever of my dignity remains, and second, the completely irrational “but I’ll look so cooooooooooool” that echoes through my head when I hold a pair of really good heels in my equally tiny hands.

I have a really beautiful dress for this wedding, but it’s simple; My Look™ is going to be all about the accessories. So, getting back to the point, I ordered those dumb small shoes and walked to the store, headphones in, sunshine on my head, just daydreaming about how my entire life was going to change once I put these shoes on. Surely my previous issues with heels came from the size, not my own confidence issues; trying to fake my way into a size 6, typically the smallest size manufactured in North American shoe markets, had been my downfall (literally) (because I fall when I wear shoes that are too big for me) (you get it). I walked with the kind of stride I imagined I would feel when these perfect shoes would be on my feet and did that thing where I impulsively stopped into a store wearing one pair of sunglasses and walked out wearing a completely different pair (plus a new purse, lol) because I was just having a GREAT DAY.

Let’s back up for a second so I can talk to you about why these shoes were so important.

For the last few years, I have played an incredibly fun and thought-provoking game with some of my friends: it’s called “What’s Your Look?” As the name implies, the question requires a single answer that encapsulates the references, inspirations, aspirations, and effect you hope your seasonal look will communicate to everyone who looks your way. We play this game right as the seasons change: What’s Your Summer Look, What’s Your Fall Look, etc. I like to turn it into a story with a character, location, and conflict, but that’s not entirely necessary. As an example, my Winter Look was “recently divorced mom [see: Alicia Florrick] goes on ski weekend with the friends she lost touch with while her marriage imploded.” So, like, light blue jeans, big hiking boots with red laces, big knit sweaters in neutral colours, huge soft scarf, slightly messy hair, tasteful and minimal gold jewelry. When I explained this look to Jazmine she was like “why does the mom have to be recently divorced” and I said it was because that would make her prime for a sexual reawakening and I’m pretty sure that’s when she was like "I quit." BUT I DIGRESS. READ MORE