Thursday, March 6, 2014
Three years later, an answer: Nicole Kidman is Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco. Check out the trailer here. Proposed tagline: Can Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly have it all? Elsewhere, Andre 3000 really is Jimi Hendrix, and zombie beavers are as real as hoverboards and shall be called Zombeavers. You can make your jokes, but I think the trailer already handled most of them.
When I moved to New York from Germany, I didn’t have words. I had written for prominent papers in Hamburg, but in New York my German faded quickly and English was slow to take its place. After a few months here I found myself close to aphasic. All I had now was a hasty, unhappy marriage and an apartment in Bushwick that was cheap and hot. Through the window bars I could see glimpses of a trash-filled backyard and an alley cat with kittens. During the day I could hear the termites in the backyard destroying the wooden benches that were built by the old German winemaker who owned the building at the turn of the century. I could see the neighbors in their cemented yard dancing to reggaeton. Voiceless, I listened to unfamiliar sounds. Everything around me was falling apart: my marriage, the benches, my brain, my language. I decided to take in the cat and her kittens.
As my first, desolate New York summer was thrust away by fall, the outdoor music subsided. The sound of the termites was replaced by that of the mice making their winter nests in my walls.
“Neighborhood was bad when Germans lived here,” my old Puerto Rican neighbor Mira told me one day when I was finally able to ask her whether she, too, could hear the mice in the walls and the termites in the benches. Our short conversations were guessing games. Our English was rudimentary.
I used arrogant expressions like sustainable living, but Mira outdid me in colloquialisms and American pop culture. She knew what There is more than one way to skin a cat meant, for example. At least that’s what she said when we discussed mice extermination. Mira also conspiratorially called me “Sabrina, the teenage witch.” I didn’t get the reference, and I felt insulted.
Had Bushwick really been worse when “the Germans” still made up its majority? At the end of the 19th century, I’d read, the neighborhood was known as “the beer capital of the Northeast”; in 1890 there were 14 beer breweries operating within a 14-block radius. How could it have been worse? I glanced at the gnawed-off chicken wings in my yard. (“To feed the poor cats,” Mira said apologetically when I addressed the garbage flying past my windows. She offered no explanation for the old batteries that littered my yard, possibly one of her ways to skin a cat.)
The mouse problem got worse. Trying to buy mouse traps and being handed mustard in return was beginning to take its toll. The cat, although now employing her kittens, wasn’t able to catch up. She became fixated on my compost pile, which I had started partly to teach Mira a lesson about sustainable living. Later I found out that my compost had attracted rats, which explained the cat’s fascination.
I sat on my noisy backyard benches with my back to the compost and the rats, sipping a glass of wine and fantasizing about the good old times when Bushwick was still primarily German, when people were clean, square and predictable. They understood each other. They carried their walking sticks up their asses. I was embarrassed by my nationalistic sentiments, but in times of chaos, want and uncertainty, humans—particularly German humans—gravitate toward order and safety.
It was then that I received a phone call from my friend Franzi, another recent German immigrant.
Franzi wanted to know if I was interested in searching for words. The German artist Karin Sander had hired her to collect one word from each language spoken in New York City for a conceptual art project titled wordsearch. To add dimension (and because conceptual art works in mysterious and inflated ways), each word was to be translated into the other 250 languages we would find. A grid of 250 x 250 words, wordsearch was to be published as a giant word sculpture in the stock listings of the New York Times. Since there are more than 250 languages spoken in New York, Franzi needed an assistant.
I was happy to accept the challenge to gather words from real New Yorkers, or “word donors” as we called them. I’d spent all of my time in New York searching for words, so the idea of getting paid $25 an hour for it seemed like a small miracle. READ MORE
“Once you go Asian, you can’t go Caucasian. Once you go yellow—hello!” JT Tran told his audience of hopeful men.
This was in a Manhattan conference room on Valentine's Day, and JT was running a weekend-long bootcamp with a simple mission: to help Asian men get some skin in the dating game, and maybe even get laid.
The class's methods and language were taken straight from the pickup artists' world. And yet, the course also resembled a rollicking post-grad symposium on race. Yellow fever. That infamous OKCupid survey that showed Asian women overwhelmingly preferred white men. The culture clash between an Asian upbringing and a Western world that has different expectations for success. And the ease with which people speak racistly of Asian men—like the way Lorde and her Asian boyfriend were recently torn into on Twitter. READ MORE
Put it on toast. Put it on a spoon. Put it on your mouth. Just don't get it on your computer because sticky keys are not conducive to productivity and rouse visions of sex, which will distract from productivity. Sex is not a food. Sex is exercise for the graveyard shift.
JAM IS ALSO A FOOD
Straight from the jar!!!!!
COFFEE IS A FOOD
It is no longer a food if you let it become cold. It is then a poison.
HARD-BOILED EGG, UNSALTED
If you even have the patience to crack this thing, which you don't. Call your landlord and nervously cry, "I'm locked out of my house!" When he comes by an hour later, explain that your house is an egg and you need him to help you break in. There. A naked egg. Share the spoils with your landlord: "Are you a freelance landlord?"
A $32-DOLLAR THAI ORDER, YOU SIGNED THE BILL WITH A SHARPIE
The neighborhood Thai delivery man looks at you in your old lacrosse pinny, it's from 2004.
"Do you still play lacrosse?" he'll ask you. Here are three options for retort:
1. "Lax? Me? Nah. I just stare at a screen all day wondering when the keys will start typing without my assistance."
2. "Lax? Me? Nah. I was good back in '04, but I got a yellow card in one game for yelling obscenities in the locker room. At a computer screen. With no one around. In my sleep."
3. "Lax? Me? Nah. Sports require my leg muscles to not have atrophied. Only three more years until my bedsores heal, though."
Snatch the delivery bag, shove every edible part of the order into your gob, and enjoy none of it. Whoops, you ate the lime whole. Lax 4 lyfe.
Don't have a waffle iron? Make pancakes. Don't have a griddle? Make crepes. Don't give a fuck about eating anything with nutrients when you have to meet a 2 p.m. deadline? Starve. READ MORE
This is low-key the show I've been waiting for all of my life, I think; the end of the second-to-last episode, "Stolen Phone," almost made me lose my burrito. Two more clips after the jump. READ MORE
At the New York times, Michael Musto profiled Gina Rodriguez, a former porn actress who's worked as publicist and manager to Octomom, Sydney Leathers, many Real Housewives, Tila Tequila, Teen Moms, Tan Mom, the White House gate-crashers, Donata Melina Nicolette "Dina" Lohan, her ex-husband, and her ex-husband's girlfriend Kate Major:
Ms. Rodriguez started booking [Michael] Lohan on shows like “Entertainment Tonight” and “Inside Edition,” where he argued his side in various disputes, like swearing that his ex-wife Dina Lohan’s claims of domestic abuse were lies.
Ms. Rodriguez also represents Dina Lohan, Ms. Lohan’s mother, but she tries to stay out of their family battles, except when it is for television. Last year, Ms. Rodriguez booked Michael and Dina Lohan on “The Test” a syndicated TV talk show, which billed the appearance as their first interview together. It didn’t go so well. A typical exchange:He said: “She drank every day. She was abusing herself by drinking and doing cocaine. With my daughter.”
She said: “You’re disgusting and a liar!”
Complicating things even further, Ms. Rodriguez also represented Mr. Lohan’s girlfriend, Kate Major, who has had her share of tabloid coverage. “It seems like everyone’s arguing, but it’s actually easy for me to work with all three of them,” said the unflappable Ms. Rodriguez. “I’m almost like the mediator.”
At the end of the article, Rodriguez says, “I’m not exploiting them. They come to me. Prior to coming to me, they’ve already exploited themselves.” Related: that trailer for the Lindsay Lohan OWN show. Are you gonna watch it? [NYT]
Any woman who’s ever fought with a guy after the kind of movie where Katherine Heigl finds love may be shocked by the findings of a new study. A report published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that watching a romantic film with your spouse and discussing it afterwards lowers your likelihood of divorce as much as going through couples therapy does. Researchers analyzed 174 newlywed couples who either went through therapy or merely watched and discussed romantic movies, and after three years, both groups had equal divorce rates. Here’s a transcript from one couple, who watched the romantic movie “Her,” about a mustached man named Theodore who falls in love a whimsical operating system named Samantha.
What main problem(s) did this couple face? Are any of these similar to the problems that the two of you have faced?
Her: Does this seem kind of crazy to you? He was a human and she was a voice inside the computer. How can we relate our relationship to that?
Him: Lemme think. Um, maybe it’s how you don’t like it when I watch porn on my computer?
Did this couple strive to understand each other? Or did the couple tend to attack each others’ differences? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?
Her: They talked A LOT about their differences. Like, tell me what it’s like to be an operating system. Tell me what it’s like to be a human. And they really seemed to listen to each other, which was nice.
Him: Sometimes I text you so I don’t have to talk to you.
Her: I do that too.
Did the couple have a strong friendship? Did they do considerate or affectionate things for each other? In what way was this relationship similar to or different from your own relationship in this area?
Him: Yeah, she wrote him song that was meant to be like a photograph of their relationship.
Her: I can’t remember the last time I even wrote you a card. I bought one a month ago but then I couldn’t think of anything that meaningful to write on it so I never gave it to you.
Him: I don’t want to be out of line here, but I also thought it was considerate when she organized that threesome.
Her: But it ended with the lady she invited over huddled in the closet crying and saying “I’m sorry.”
Him: We could try it? READ MORE
Australia's Philip Island Penguin Foundation has put up a call for penguin sweaters. This is important for visual reasons, and also general reasons pertinent to tiny penguin survival. At the Guardian:
“If somebody puts oil into the sea … a little penguin swimming along pops up to the surface and finds out he’s come up in a circle of yukky stuff,” Blom said. “The first thing he wants to do is get to shore because he loses all of his waterproofness.”
She said penguins became very cold and waterlogged when the sea water seeped in towards their skin. A ranger or member of the public could then take them to a rescue organisation such as the foundation.
A jumper prevents a penguin from cleaning oil from its body with its beak, and keeps it warm until conservationists can release it back into the wild. The little penguins, which live mainly around the coast of Victoria, are not as immune to the cold as their southern cousins.
Here is a penguin knitting pattern. "Flipper opening about 4 cm in length."
(Excess penguin sweaters will be donated to other organizations or placed on penguin stuffed toys that raise awareness for the penguin cause. Of course, cash is the decidely less cute but more efficient way to send penguin or any other form of aid, and Penguin Foundation also has an Adopt-A-Penguin program!)
I read somewhere that having Sia Furler as your babysitter means that you are contractually obligated to produce great pop music for the rest of your life, which explains this new single from Holiday Sidewinder (another possible origin story here), very much a kooky, cotton-candy, retro-dream-pop jam.
Melissa Gira Grant's written a wonderful long piece at the Nation about how much is elided when sex work is seen as an arena of morality rather than labor:
These are four of the most visible forms of sex work—porn, stripping, domination and escorting—and each offers a distinct environment, [but] it’s not uncommon for workers to draw their incomes from more than one of them. It’s about more than maximizing their earning potential; it’s also a way to negotiate the varying degrees of exposure and surveillance that come with each venue. For every escort who would never give up her privacy by working in a strip club, there’s a stripper who would never give up her privacy by working in porn or having her image posted online, and there’s a porn performer who would never have sex for money outside the context of a porn shoot.
[...]However, as distinct as the work and their environments may be and whatever the dangers of lumping them together, there is a political usefulness in calling all of this “sex work"... To do so is to insist that those who do sex work, in all of their workplaces and in varied conditions, deserve the rights and respect accorded to workers in any other industry. The portrait of street-level prostitution as it’s on display in media accounts—a woman, most often a woman of color, standing in a short skirt and leaning into a car or pacing toward one—is a powerful yet lazily constructed composite. As the lead character of the prostitute imaginary, she becomes a stand-in for all sex workers, a reduction of their work and lives to one fantasy of a body and its particular and limited performance for public consumption. Sex workers’ bodies are rarely presented or understood as much more than interchangeable symbols—for urban decay, for misogyny, for exploitation—even when invoked by those who claim some sympathy, who want to question stereotypes, who want to “help.”
She covers "rescue" organizations and "advocates" whose income comes from taking away sex workers' income stream, and I found this statistic particularly interesting: "One-third of brothel workers had never done any other kind of sex work before, but rather came to it directly from 'non-sexual service work.'" It's a great read down to the last sentence, on the conflation of integrity and the willingness to fake thrilling affection for your everyday job:
To insist that sex workers only deserve rights at work if they have fun, if they love it, if they feel empowered by it is exactly backward. It’s a demand that ensures they never will.
I'm pretty down for this! I never held the original as particularly sacred, and even though I found Cameron Diaz extraordinarily grating in this trailer (RIP how fun she was in The Sweetest Thing), Quvenzhané Wallis will surely be a rad Annie and her little doge-adjacent Sandy is an upgrade. And although I was skeptical of our country's richest fictional character changing his name to Benjamin Stacks, I think I like it now. Benjamin Staxx.
Talking to Heather Doney and Rachel Coleman About Child Abuse, the Quiverfull Movement and Homeschooling Policy Reform
Heather Doney and Rachel Coleman are co-founders of Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, a site that documents abuse under the cover of homeschooling. Recently, they launched a new organization, the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which raises awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, provides public policy guidance through research, and advocates for responsible home education practices.
How did you two meet?
Rachel Coleman: Heather and I both do academic research on homeschooling, and we were both in a Facebook group that dealt with spiritual abuse and some other negative aspects of conservative Christian homeschooling culture.
Heather Doney: Both of us were eldest daughters of families raised in the Quiverfull movement, where adherents reject birth control and have "as many children as God gives you,” so we had a lot in common: research interests, big family/big sister stuff, an interest in class differences in homeschooling.
How big are your families?
HD: I'm the eldest of 10, six girls and four boys.
RC: I’m the oldest of 12 children, seven girls and five boys.
How did you come up with the idea for Homeschooling's Invisible Children (HIC)?
RC: Heather and I were finding more and more cases of child abuse concealed by homeschooling, and at first I tried keeping a list of links, but I needed a better way to organize them. We decided putting them together in a blog might be a way to do that, while raising awareness at the same time.
You were both homeschooled yourselves, right?
RC: Yes. My parents started homeschooling me because my mom wasn’t sure I could handle all-day kindergarten (I took very long naps), and all-day kindergarten was the only option where we lived. It worked pretty well for our family, so I was homeschooled through high school alongside my siblings.
HD: I was homeschooled, but my education was pretty nonexistent. My family was very poor. We lived in inner-city New Orleans, which had a terrible school district, but my parents' homeschooling was even worse. There was no oversight. I was the only one of us kids to even learn how to read. It was only through an intervention by my grandparents that I gained access to intensive tutoring and started public school in 9th grade.
What do you mean by no oversight?
HD: My parents registered as a private school in Louisiana when I was six, which homeschoolers can do, and no one checked on us again. We never had to take standardized tests or report to anyone.
Is it like that in every state?
RC: 25 states have no assessment mechanism whatsoever. Most of the states that do have some assessment requirements also have loopholes—this is how Heather’s family fell through the cracks. Louisiana’s homeschool law requires parents to either create an annual portfolio of their students’ work or have their children tested each year. However, when parents in Louisiana choose to homeschool under the private school law instead of under the homeschool law, which is perfectly legal, there are no assessments or even subject requirements. Heather’s parents were literally not actually required by law to educate her, and there was no system in place for checking up on her and her siblings’ wellbeing.
Sadly, this lack of accountability is the norm for homeschooling law, not the exception. READ MORE