Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Polly Asks: New York Magazine Wants Me to Write Ask Polly For Them. Should I Tell Them to Piss Off?

byeDear Readers,

I need to tell you a story. That means this will be just like every other Ask Polly column, except this story is a little longer than usual, and at first, when you read it, you'll ask, "Where's the tepid dude of the week?" Just bear with me.

In September of 2012, after reading and admiring The Awl for years, and writing a few short humor pieces for them, I sent Choire Sicha an email.

Subject: Existential advice column
That's what I should be writing for The Awl.

Come on, pay me a tiny bit and it's yours! Just enough $ so my husband doesn't roll his eyes and spit whenever he hears the word "Awl."

Choire's one-word reply was:


Two days later, I sent in my first column and The Awl published it, and thus began one of the best gigs of my career. My first editor, Carrie Frye, let the term "pious fuckwinder' run in my second column. My second editor, Choire, was even more tolerant of dubious strings of adjectives. (He also once forgot to pay me for five months, but when I responded with a three-thousand-word screed on the madness of freelance writing, he sent me a check and published my screed and paid me for that, too.) My third editor, Matt Buchanan, let the term "dickweasel" run. In a world full of pious fuckwinders and dickweasels, in other words, The Awl is an island of sanity, and originality, and humility. I had hoped to never leave. READ MORE


Can Femmes Prefer Femmes, Hating Your GF's Therapist, Am I Heterosexual, and LDRs

chicksMy surface question is this: How common, really, is the sort of stereotypical "femme/butch" dynamic in female same-sex relationships?

My real question is this: How can I, as a relatively femme cisgender woman, meet other relatively femme cisgender women? This is not the only sub-population that I'm interested in, but it's probably the most compelling one to me. I tend to be kind of wary of "lipstick lesbian" groups, because the ones that I'm familiar with can be pretty exclusive ("bi/queer folks, trans*/genderqueer folks, and ugly folks need not apply!"). But it often seems that in the larger LGBTQ world, I run into two obstacles: First, my femininity does not signal "queer," and so unless I explicitly share that with people, other queer women don't realize that I'm a potential partner. Second, I'm wondering if most of the women who would be interested in me would tend to be a little more butch than femme.

But actually, I think my real question is this: Should I even be worried about finding a partner who fits with what is consistently and pervasively most compelling to me (femme, cis women)? My sexuality is fairly fluid; I can also be interested in non-femme women, men, and some individuals who are genderqueer. My last relationship was with a cis man and lasted two and a half years, and it was wonderful, and I miss it. But if what most reliably pulls at my heartstrings is a femme woman, do you think I should just take that self-knowledge and zero in on that? From your experience, how successful and sustainable are mixed-orientation relationships, or relationships that may be surprising to oneself? 

It doesn’t matter that much how common butch-femme relationships are in comparison to other gender pairings. What matters is the kind of relationship you want. If you want femme-on-femme action, that is a totally valid desire and you should go after it even if you’re the only queer in the whole entire universe who wants it.

But, fortunately for your sexual and romantic prospects, you’re not the only one. There are lots of femmes who are interested primarily in femmes (and butches who are interested primarily in butches), as well as people of all genders who don’t care about gender presentation as long as you have that [killer smile / cute butt / ability to discuss Russian poetry] they crave. You don’t have to assume that the girl of your dreams will abandon you forever the moment some chick with a crew cut rolls up on a Harley.



The Most Satisfying People to Subtweet (in Ascending Order)

hey you

Facebook friends who don't understand Twitter

Minor media celebrities

Aaron Sorkin

Beloved former boss

Hateful former boss

Current micromanaging boss

Person you are currently dating (and it's going really well!) READ MORE


New Game Alert! Depression or Unemployment?

Having recently found myself involuntarily jobless, I had a lot of time on my hands. And I discovered that I was filling that time in new and unusual ways that made me ask questions like, "hey, is this something a depressed person does? Or is this just unemployment?" So I created a game, because obviously. For fun, divide these behaviors into two categories, depression or unemployment – or just go lay facedown on the floor. You don't owe anyone anything! No one is paying for your time!



Ask Baba Yaga: How Do I Leave the Past Behind?

run yr hands over it
Transcript after the jump.



The Best Friends of Rom Com Heroines, In Order

married? hmph.

25. Lucy Wyman (Judy Greer), 13 Going on 30

24. Mandella (Susan May Pratt), 10 Things I Hate About You

23. Holly (Christine Taylor), The Wedding Singer



Drake and Nicki Minaj Conversation


good friends

Nicki: Hey Drizzy, I have a favor to ask...

Drake: Threesome with you and RiRi?

Nicki: Oh Drake! LOL. Ok, so my butt cheeks are making this new video, and I wanted to see if you could guest rap a verse?

Drake: Oh wow. To be honest, I feel like I already covered starting from the bottom and now I've kind of moved past that, you know?

Nicki: I mean, they're two different kinds of bottoms...my new song features a lot of play on words. Like did you know an anaconda is actually a type of penis metaphor invented in the nineties by Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Paul McCartney, and Sir Mix-A-Lot? READ MORE


Once You Pop... Never Mind, You Don't Pop


As if Wednesday morning wasn't frustrating enough, here is a video of unpoppable bubble wrap. What is this supposed to be, useful? UGH.

[h/t Digg]


Nicki Minaj, "Anaconda"

So can we talk some more about the video for Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda?" The title is a reference of course to Sir-Mix-A-Lot's classic line from "Baby Got Back," "my anaconda don't want none, unless you got buns, hun." The anaconda he is referring to is I believe his penis, which he also calls Sir-Metaphors-A-Lot.

This video is super NSFW unless you work in a factory that makes women who twerk while eating dick-shaped foods. This video is insane and name-checks a ton of high-end brands as well as err, tossing salad. Also Drake and Drake's boner make a special cameo! [Pitchfork]


More Letters from Confused Straight Man

Dear Civilities: Recently, I was watching Larry King interview Anna Paquin, who has said repeatedly that she’s bisexual, and wondered what you thought of it. Now that she’s married to a man (“happily, monogamously,” she added), King asked if that means she’s a “non-practicing bisexual.” She answered, “I don’t think it’s a past-tense thing.” I’m a straight married guy and I think pretty broad-minded about this stuff, but I’m confused because I thought the definition of bisexual was someone who slept with partners of either sex. So what does that even mean, to be a monogamous, married bisexual? If she’s married to a man and never sleeps with women, doesn’t that make her straight?

— Confused straight man

Today everyone's friend "confused straight man" wrote a letter to Washington Post's Civilities column asking about married lady Anna Paquin's abandoned bisexuality. "It makes her straight!" he pleads, "MAKE HER BE STRAIGHT." Of course, this is far from the first time that "confused straight man" has written to America's illustrious advice columnists with a problem. Some of his other quandaries: READ MORE


On Hair, There and Everywhere, and Intra-Cultural Shame

dem brows

“A girl told me today that I would be a lot prettier if I got my eyebrows threaded. So I told her she’d be a lot prettier if she got surgery to turn her fivehead into a forehead!!”

File that one under the “swing and a miss” column of my sick burn top hits listicle, but biting wit notwithstanding, my mother was unperturbed.

“Maybe you should start threading your eyebrows,” she conceded, staring fervently at the thicket perched above my nose like it was an unsolvable calculus problem.

I was not expecting that response. I was nine. READ MORE


Anna Deavere Smith: A YoungArts Master Class is the Greatest Half Hour of TV Ever

the ultimate read

My HBOGo is kind of a waste, because I most use it to watch episodes of The Comeback that I have on DVD somewhere, but there is one reason I plan to keep it and keep it forever: it allows you to view, as many times as you want, for no additional cost, Anna Deavere Smith: A YoungArts Master Class.

If you’ve never seen Anna Deavere Smith: A YoungArts Master Class, get yourself to a streaming-friendly device right now. This 30-minute documentary has all the ambition of Fame with all the self-seriousness of a Yale drama first year, and it is inspiring and confusing and more than a little embarrassing and enthralling.

Anna Deavere Smith, who you might know as National Security Advisor Dr. Nancy McNally from The West Wing, is a playwright, actress, and professor. She’s also the winner of a couple of Drama Desk awards, the MacArthur genius grant, more honorary degrees than I wanted to count and the National Humanities Medal. Like, no big deal, but she’s a serious and important theater lady. She uses words like “the dramatis” and says that actors are “doctors of humanity.” Pretentious? Get out. This isn’t the YoungArts Beginners Class. Smith’s main medium is “documentary style theater” that deals with identity and language, meaning – to lay people like me and maybe you – that she does devastating impressions. It’s more than that but like... basically. To lay people. And thanks to the YoungArts foundation, she’s going to teach six teenagers to do the same.


The Body Counter

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 12.06.38 PM

Michael Lansu has been a crime reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times for the past decade. Since October 2013 his role has been more specific: editor of the Sun-Times’ Homicide Watch blog, where he reports on every homicide in a city which had five hundred murders in 2012.

Each victim receives a landing page on Michael’s blog. Some are bare-bones, just a news brief on their death. Others—where the victim’s family was more talkative, or the prosecution more successful—are elaborate, Facebook-like pages, with in memoriam posts and updates on suspects’ court dates. The overall effect is strangely human: part crime reporting, part obituary.

Summer is the busiest season for Michael—there were and eighty-two shootings over July 4th weekend—but he made time to meet me at Starbucks and share his thoughts on his work and violence in Chicago.


Your blog’s mission is to humanize Chicago's murders, as opposed to lumping them together into statistics. Can you talk a little about homicides that have deviated from the typical, statistics-driven Chicago crime narrative?

Well, first I want to say that statistics are good. They give you a good idea of which neighborhoods are seeing the highest volume of murders, like Austin, South Shore, Grand Crossing. Really, any murder that happens in the lower-crime neighborhoods is one of the outliers.

Age is another dimension—people outside the eighteen-to-twenty range are kind of outliers. Michael Sullivan, he was an older guy who was walking to work when someone shot and killed him in a robbery. Others that were unique: Endia Martin this year, a fourteen-year-old girl, was shot and killed by another fourteen-year-old girl in a fight over a boy. That was out of the ordinary, because of her age and because she was a girl. Shamiya Adams, an eleven-year-old girl, was killed by a stray bullet a couple weeks ago on the West Side, while she was at a sleepover.

But I really try not to think, oh, just because this one goes against the numbers, I should focus on it more than the others. That goes against what I want to do. Homicide coverage in Chicago has gotten much better, especially with social media making it easier, but it’s still really hard to know which murder is interesting when you’re not making an effort to talk to people. Just because somebody was nineteen years old and in an alley at 3 a.m. doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting story.



Dude Text Decoded

I just wanna leave my number.

We dudes can be a confusing, emotionally constipated, nearly-illiterate group of horndogs with smartphones. And since it’s 2014 and most people are paralyzed by the idea of speaking into a phone receiver, we must fumble our path to fornication via cryptic texts which barely constitute as flirting, let alone communication, most of the time.

But hey! I’m a dumb dude with thumbs and a libido! So let me pull back the Old Spice-scented curtain and let you peek inside the mind of the modern bro’s texting intentions:

hey = I am scared, unfathomably scared.

sup? = Please do not discover my insane insecurities, I do not feel cool. Ever.

what are you up to tonight? = I can’t even begin to explain the intense, deep loneliness brewing within me and one more night alone, eating cheeseburgers in my underwear, watching The Wire (have you seen The Wire?) is such a daunting dive into the abyss that I will undoubtedly break.



Just Keep Livin', (Livin' = Wearing a Fanny Pack Without Apologies)

gear pouch

Every generation gets the celebrity man purse they deserve. Remember when John Wayne carried a LeSportsac? No? Well Matthew McConaughey is now sporting a BLACK LEATHER FANNY PACK and he is not apologizing:

“I’m not afraid of the fanny pack, instead of stuffing your pockets,” the Dazed and Confused star told CSN Houston during an in-game interview. “You’ve got to kind of put it on the side to make it look a little not as nerdy, but still, practicality wins out. I’ve got so much gear in here that I don’t want in my pockets.

Ahh, he has to carry a lot of gear! Everything seems more legitimate when you call it gear! Why right now I have the following gear in my bag: wallet gear, FroYo punchcard gear with two punches remaining till I get a free froyo up to a $5 value, five different types of lip gloss gear (only two of which I actively wear), part of an old dry cleaning receipt gear, sunglasses gear, and of course gum gear!

[image via Shutterstock]