Friday, December 6, 2013
It's almost the weekend! Over the week, we:
• Mourned a great American Girl doll and an even better grandmother and made our peace.
I'm sailing off with one gorgeous sentence ("I was trying a new Biblical approach—Eve with earning power, Eve without shame") on repeat and planning what I want for dinner. What about you?
My friend lives in suburban San Diego and he is not a fan. He lives here due to fairly random circumstances, which anyone who ended up without a chair when the music stopped during the recession might understand.
He’s been here for more than four years and likes it no more today than the day he arrived. But he has come up with a plan for dealing with this. “I call it the I don’t give a shit plan,” he explains, as we make a left off of West San Marcos Boulevard into the Albertsons parking lot. “Oh, see, there’s a guy on the side of the road that needs help. But you know what. I live in Southern California now, so I don’t give a shit.” He pulls his used BMW into a parking space. “Oh, there’s Yogurt World,” he observes. “They have Wi-Fi. Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that just so incredibly generous of them? If you worked in a an office around here, as a cost cutting measure you could just get rid of your Wi-Fi, and you’d be like, ‘Hey, guys, if anyone wants to talk to me, I’m just over at Yogurt World.’ Oh, and if you want to know how much I really don’t give a shit, you see the Supercuts, over there next to the Yogurt World? That’s where I get my hair cut now.”
Albertsons is empty. His wife has instructed him to get fruit. He throws a bag of oranges into the cart. “Fruit,” he says. He also needs razors. “16 dollars,” he exclaims. “How stupid do these people think we are? They must think we’re so stupid that we’re willing to work our asses off to live in hell and spend all our money on razors. Well. They are lucky because… because why?”
“Because you don’t give a shit?” I guess.
“That is correct,” he says, adding the razors to the cart. He finds generic contact lens solution. “Three dollars,” he says. “I feel good about that. Today is a good day.” READ MORE
1. "Outside, dead ants began pooling around the base of the house in heaps so high that they looked like discarded coffee grounds."
2. "(It’s common in Texas these days for a person who is shown one of these heaps of dead ants to take several seconds to realize that the solid surface he or she is scanning for ants actually is the ants.)"
3. "Mike laid out poison, generating more heaps of dead ants. But new ants merely used those dead ants as a bridge over the poison and kept streaming inside."
4. "With crazy ants, so many will stream inside a device that they form a single, squirming mass that completes a circuit and shorts it."
5. "Edward LeBrun, an ecologist at the University of Texas at Austin who has been studying the area, believes a single “supercolony” of crazy ants occupies as many as 4,200 acres in Iowa Colony and is spreading 200 meters a year in all directions." READ MORE
Christmascats.tv is the desert of the real. Click only if you would like to lose the rest of your day in a quiet funhouse of holiday cat magic.
I’m not, strictly speaking, a Molly. I had a Samantha and a Kirsten, and both of them spoke volumes about who I wanted to be (privileged, so well dressed, urban) and who I was (Scandinavian, solidly built, rural). Chiara Atik has already written the definitive statement on what your doll says about you, and I don’t disagree with her assessment of Molly-owners:
If you had Molly, you probably wanted Samantha instead, but contented yourself with Molly because you too wore glasses, liked books, were bad at math, and would concoct various schemes to get attention. (Oh, Molly.) If you were a Molly, and had a Molly (as opposed to being a Molly and aspirationally owning a Felicity), you were imbued, then and now, with an immutable sense of self. At least Molly could tap dance, which is frankly more talent than any of the other girls exhibited.
Truth: Molly was the least showy and, at least of the original, lily-white, middle-class American dolls, the only one with any sort of class consciousness. It was a consciousness enforced by the war, but still, the book’s renderings of thrift were my introduction, other than A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, to what it meant to sacrifice, and how to substitute the feelings of resentment with those of purpose and solidarity.
It was, of course, propaganda—the sort of retrospective rendering of World War II and the role of the greatest generation, and their children, within it that allows us to continue allocating money towards the military industrial complex, etc. etc. But in comparison to the equally ideological and nationalistic tales of Felicity, Kirsten, and Samantha, Molly suggested, somewhat ironically for a doll that costed over $100, that the key to survival and family happiness wasn’t consumption, but the lack thereof.
As children, we papered over that contradiction, lusting after the “simple party dress” that cost (our parents) $20. And I read all of Molly’s books, even if my devotion was reserved for Kirsten and Samantha. In some ways, I think of that devotion as a personal failing: an aversion to Molly’s glasses, I think, that said more about the crippling knowledge that I was a nerd and always would be than any identification with Samantha.
But my Grandmother Helen was an actual Molly. She was a young woman during the war, but she was Molly’s age during The Depression, and that experience—a second generation Norwegian-American, second sister of three, living in rural Minnesota and, along with her older sister, tending house and caring for her baby sister after her mother passed away—would inflect the rest of her life. She never had the privilege of going to college or had a career that would grant her a pension, and spent the last thirty years of her retired life scraping by on social security. When I obliviously asked for items from the glossy American Girl catalog, all above the Christmas budget she split between six grandchildren, she did what Molly would’ve done: she made them. READ MORE
Via our Hairpin pals at Neon Gold, here's a massive, brilliant song by a new Irish singer-songwriter called Hozier. "Take Me to Church" was released in the fall, and is so hook-heavy and powerfully broad, dark and bluesy that it should by rights be all over the place in 2014. The video, directly referencing the growth of anti-LGBT violence in Russia, brings this song's metaphor (Take me to church, I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies/ I'll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife/ Offer me that deathless death/ Good god, let me give you my life) into alignment with Frank Ocean's "Bad Religion," and it's beautiful.
Last week, I got sucked into a Wikipedia-wormhole on the subject of History’s great prison breaks. This led to some interesting reads, but turned up little to nothing on female escapees. It’s time we give some credit where it’s due.
The most screenplay-ready escape story is that of Samantha Lopez, who was whisked out of a California Federal Correctional Institution in November 1986 by her husband in a hijacked helicopter. The Helicopter Escape, it turns out, is a relatively common strategy among prison breakers, both male and female. (Wikipedia has a whole article on the subject.) It works as such: your accomplice steals a helicopter, dives it into the prison yard, scoops you up, and flies out before the guards have finished lacing up their shoes. But Samantha Lopez’s was not any regular helicopter prison break. It was a helicopter prison break of love.
Samantha Lopez met Ronald McIntosh in the prison business office, where they both worked as convicts. The couple first began dabbling in insubordination together by sneaking a kiss when the guards had their heads turned. McIntosh proposed within a year, but was soon afterwards transferred out of the prison; he left Lopez with the seemingly heart-wrenching request that she spend the next five afternoons sitting in the recreation yard, thinking of him. On day five, McIntosh appeared from above.
He had chartered the helicopter by posing as a property developer. Once in the air, he pulled a gun on the pilot; having flown helicopters in Vietnam, he was able to take control and guide it to the prison. He touched down on the prison yard for no more than 10 seconds, enough time to scoop Lopez up while her fellow inmates screamed and cheered. They ditched the helicopter a few miles away and headed to an apartment that McIntosh had rented in Sacramento.
Ultimately, it wasn’t any flaw in their escape plan that doomed them; it was their impatient love, suddenly unchaperoned and unrestrained: they used a bank account that the police were monitoring, and were nabbed at the mall on their way to pick up wedding rings.
If any of you work for the Lifetime Network, here’s some real-life imagery you would get to exploit in the made-for-TV-movie Hot and Heavy and Helicopters: The Samantha Lopez Story (…or whatever title you come up with. Honestly, it’s sort of incredible that this doesn’t already exist, anyway.):
• A prison-yard full of women celebrating Lopez’s escape by waving their shirts and throwing napkins at the receding helicopter;
• Lopez and McIntosh leaning out of separate police cars after their recapture, being driven in opposite directions, calling out, “I love you!”
• Lopez identifying McIntosh, in a sentence hearing, as "the man that I know and that I love deeply."
• Their courthouse marriage in matching prison uniforms.
THE NIANTIC FIVE
A prison break doesn’t need to be sensational to be great, though, as proved by five women at the Niantic Correctional Institution in Connecticut in 1984. These convicts pulled off the prison’s first maximum-security break in 10 years, and its single largest break-out of the time, simply by pushing a screen off a window, squeezing through the gaps between the window bars, and strolling off the grounds.
To me, slipping out of a prison window like some kind of Zen Houdini is more incredible than an audacious helicopter escape. The window bar gaps at Niantic Correctional were seven-and-thee-quarters inches, a little less than the length of a drinking straw, and there was no evidence of tampering other than the removed screen. The escape was made easier in that Niantic Correctional Institution is “open-campus,” which means it’s not walled or fenced in (not that walled perimeters pose much of an obstacle for any of the other escapees covered here), and a Niantic Correctional spokeswoman stated vaguely that guards “were not in the immediate area, if any were there.” READ MORE
Tonight, NBC will air The Sound of Music Live!, a three-hour rendition starring Carrie Underwood as Maria. In preparation, some favorite things.
Teenage abandon and bobbing on TV,
Snapchats from girlfriends and outselling Britney,
Trying my best not to see diamond rings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Buying newspapers and squeezing my dollars,
Next-day delivery, efficiency scholars,
Not drones at all are you fucking kidding,
These are a few of my favorite things.
When you take photos or look my direction,
Gossip and rumors and general attention,
Unhappy daughters and press that they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things. READ MORE
If you’re anything like me—a neon-blooded selfie-taking party slug with an APPetite for Disruption and Media Diets—you’re probably flailing in an ever-spinning maelstrom of opening and closing tabs, like, all the goddamn time. (While also struggling to maintain the appearance of being human!) One oft-encountered problem we NetLords run into as the tabs careen into our fat faces with a squawking, Hitchcockian fury, is whether or not we fall into the wide chasm of the term “millennial.” It’s a classification as broad as fellow alien Metta World Peace’s shoulders—Certified Journalists have calculated the birth year of millennials to fall anywhere between 1980 and 2000. So where on this fabricated, niche spectrum of dizzying asininity should we align our portrayals? I’ve broken the category into seven simple sub-classifications to ease the process of assimilation. And remember! Your traits are generational and handpicked by a select, microscopic amount of Humans just as lost as you are pretending to be! READ MORE