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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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I saw a girl my age sneak her two brothers up to her room; a staff member appeared on the eighth floor to kick them out within 30 seconds. While brushing my teeth in the shared bathroom, I’ll often hear the slow clacking of a metal cane inching down our hallway, announcing the arrival of an elderly neighbor in her nightgown; she’ll shuffle up to the sink for her nightly beauty routine. Every week, a maintenance man arrives on each floor to make repairs: “Man on the floor!” he’ll say, and then go about his business. At dinner, after we file through a cafeteria-style serving line, I see more camaraderie among the foreign girls, who share a language, and among the older women, who sit together in small groups and banter about a friend’s new pacemaker, or echo one another’s complaints about the food. The twentysomething Americans more often sit alone, hunched over their phones. Perhaps these girls are like me, recalling middle-school lunchroom woes and adapting to solitude while dining among strangers. Refrigerators aren’t allowed, so during the winter I placed food up against my window; in summer, I’ll buy a small cooler and get ice from the machine downstairs.

Why I Live in an All-Women Boardinghouse in New York City, or How to Make A Certain Ladyblogger Appreciate Her Pantsless Life. | March 25, 2015

Toward a Theory of Normcore Food

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Small-batch pickles, Greek yogurt, and quinoa are all high-stakes trendy foods with loads of moral and aesthetic baggage. We ingest them to prove to ourselves that we are ethical by way of being health-conscious, multicultural, hard workers. Of course, the labor required to produce and consume a pickle won’t have any measurable effect on the health of your body, the quality of your soul, or the degree of your authenticity. This constellation of foods, which might be crudely labeled “hipster food,” are the means by which our sense of goodness is outsourced through our gut.

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Beverages I Have Loved

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The best blogger is a well-hydrated blogger.

Pictured: Marlo Yarlo "Just Relax" cup, Art Metropole. Tap water.

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What Should I Name My Plant?

keep-calm-and-love-plants-15Last night, I decided to leave my blogging cave and enjoy a nice walk around my neighborhood. Like an idiot, I "just stopped in" to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's gift shop, and went into a fugue state that only slightly cleared when I arrived 30 minutes later (the gift shop is TINY but if you don't touch every single plant in there did you really go???) at the cash register. "Errmmm, oh yeah, I am a member...did you...need to know that?" I stammered to the employee, exhausted from my hours of dutiful blogging and singing jazz standards in my empty house.

"Only if you want a discount!" she chirped back. Dang, I thought. If I knew that, I would've bought another plant.

My recent and more serious interest in plants (in college, I had two: Miles, who jumped from a ledge, and a cactus I named Orenthal while trying to subversive) is for a few reasons: one, they look cool. I mostly own succulents and the corner of my bedroom in which they live could definitely get at least 1,000 notes if photographed for Tumblr. Two, I feel like I can take care of something, aware of the privilege that comes with taking care of a life but feeling relatively chill about the potential for failure. A friend who works at a Greenmarket gave me my first adult plant; I was leaving her apartment one night and she mentioned a woman had given it to her at work, trading nature for nature. It was brown and scraggly, sort of withered; I took it home in a plastic bag and had my boyfriend teach me how to pot it. Within days, it perked up; weeks, it turned fully green; after a few months, flowers bloomed. I look at it and I think, I did that, and I relish the tangibility of my power and my care.

Three, I really like giving them stupid names. I don't have any real rules, just that I try to make the names unexpected and sort of funny. So, back to the point: last night I bought two new succulents, which you'll see below. I decided to name one Chirlane McCray, New York's First Lady and my tier supreme, but her sister-in-soil remains unnamed! So I decided to turn this into a celebrity contest, only instead of flying you and three of your closest friends out to New York for a dinner, an all-expenses paid luxury suite, and a chance to meet your favorite blogger, I'm just letting you name my plant.

I might've had a lot of wine around 6 o'clock last night and decided to embark on a very casual photo shoot with all my plants that wasn't styled at all no what I just always have a leopard-print snuggie casually hanging on my kitchen counter!!!!!!! Below are the plants I own, which I photographed because I want to know about yours too (and in the event that you are a plant scientist and you can tell me what I'm doing wrong)! My plants are my babies— let's make like some Park Slope moms and brag about them! READ MORE

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Only eighteen?!?!!? | March 25, 2015

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Totally Official, Very Earnest, Not-Joking Book Recommendations for the Next Hairpin Book Club

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The First Wives Club Franchise

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We’re going to shake things up a little in this month’s edition of Casting Couch. Instead of simply remaking a film, we’d like to present the case for a hypothetical franchise. We all know and love The First Wives Club (with the exception of Jazmine, who has not seen this or literally any movie ever). What if the film didn't stop with just the first wives? What if, much like The Fast and The Furious franchise, we simply got 2 Wives 2 Furious? YOU’RE WELCOME, HOLLYWOOD. READ MORE

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Teenage Bedrooms on Screen

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Thank you, Tracy, for sending me this Tumblr scrapbook of teenager's bedrooms in movies. As someone who still has posters taped to her wall (with really nice washi tape, but: still) and who still enjoys a good slammed-door "ugh get out of my room you don't understand me I told you to knock before you come in here!!" end to an argument, these images really speak to me.

An Interview With a Wealthy Retiree About His Taxes

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George (not his real name) is a 47-year-old retiree living on investment income.

So, George, tell us a bit about your taxes this year.

My adjusted gross income was $502,000 last year, mostly in the form of long-term capital gains. I had about $169,000 in deductions, and owe $61,000 in federal and $29,000 in state taxes.

Both my income and deductions are unusually high this year; the income because I sold a lot of stock to pay for an apartment purchase (triggering capital gains), and the deductions because I made a large charitable donation to a donor-advised fund this year, in order to bring my taxes down.

That's incredible. I assume at this point you are well aware of your yearly tax burden; finding out that you owe $90,000 in taxes is not a surprise to you?

Having a high tax bill is always good news for me, because it means I had high income.

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Helen and I

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Growing up half-Indian, half-Afghan in a less-than-average English town mostly populated by white people meant I was never really able to be in touch with my ethnic cultures. The closest connection I developed was one forced upon just about every brown kid ever: Bollywood. I danced to Hoothon Pe Aisi Baat, wore out my Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dil To Pagal Hai videotapes, cried to Ek Pyaar Ka Nagma Hai, wondered how much Kajol restrained shivering as she stood in a lightweight sari on a crisp snowy mountain in the Swiss Alps while she was caressed by one of the Khans.

The entire Bollywood-watching populace is obsessed with the movie Sholay, a spaghetti Western-inspired masala film that even ran in some Indian theatres for years. The movie was my introduction to an item girl known mononymously as Helen.

An “item girl” is a seductress who often has a minor role—often a song—in a movie where she and a leading man would work together to make the leading lady jealous, or she may just have a cameo in one song which is used tirelessly to promote a film.

The concept of an item girl has been a subject of much contention in India. Item girls were crafted and developed for the male gaze, and some people, such as actress Shabana Azmi, have attributed it to the “sexualization of children”, but her justification lies in a familiar rhetoric: the notion that sexual liberation is always gratuitous and needs to be toned down. Seeing women celebrate their bodies is not something to avoid—women’s bodies belong to the women themselves and no one else.

Famous for her work in Bollywood movies throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Helen approached her roles with her own definition of seduction; a scrappy elegance that was a big middle finger to the clean, pure, beehived, cat-eyed, plain-sari wearing leading lady so often seen in films of this era. The notion of “purity” and “modesty” in a woman and particularly their clothing was imposed on India by the British Raj. Helen came out of nowhere—the antithesis of the ‘respectable’ lady—like an explosion of sparkly eyeshadow and allure.

I would like to share with you—whether you know Helen or are a complete newbie—five of my favourite Helen numbers. READ MORE

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BAUMGARTNER: It was certainly an inappropriate thing for someone to do in the workplace, but the message behind that was the same message that was behind a lot of the episode. His naiveté got him in trouble, but part of what he was doing, in an age where you were so overloaded on the PC side, and nobody was able to say anything, was forcing people to examine from a naive perspective, why isn’t this something we can talk about? Obviously a work place setting is what makes everyone uncomfortable, but I think just bringing up the issue of race and not hiding is why I’m proud of it.

KINSEY: Whenever I read our scripts, there were so many that we did that were part of the cringe humor. I think Archie Bunker did that on All in the Family, which is a super old call-back because I’m an old lady [laughs]. But one of your lead characters is inappropriate, you get to call them out on their crap. Say, “No, that’s wrong, dude!” And I feel like we did that throughout all those seasons. I have such fond feelings for this episode and obviously for this show.

Uproxx has a great oral history of The Office's "Diversity Day" episode, the one where Michael reenacts a Chris Rock joke, which premiered ten years ago this week. Like the highbrow self-important ~*~*internet critic~*~* that I am, I always bought in to the popular opinion that The Office took a long time to get its footing, but this was their second episode ever, and arguably one of their best: the episode reinforces the idea that even well-intended allyship can still go horribly awry, and that people—particularly heterosexual white men in positions of power—shouldn't be praised for just trying. (I watched this episode a lot when writing an essay on the politics of racial humor; all "research" should have Steve Carrell in it, in my opinion.)

I've always loved this episode because it's just such a good example of how to deal with racial humor: there are tons of racist and stereotypical jokes within it, but those tropes are not the joke—Michael Scott's absurd belief that adopting them and having others guess one's identity accordingly is the way towards racial harmony is. It's a refreshing upending of norms: instead of singularly relying on hoary stereotypes for humor (I'm looking at you, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), BJ Novak, who wrote the episode (with Larry Wilmore as a consultant!) throws those stereotypes into our faces. By inserting them into farcical scenario, we can then see that the stereotypes themselves are farcical, and then we can eschew them, all while laughing and amping up hope that Jim and Pam will end up together. Let's just take 30 and rewatch it real quick? | March 24, 2015

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"Sound The Sexy Alarms"

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MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE *airhorn* *but a sexy airhorn*

Lola Pellegrino and Krista Burton have blessed us with the third instalment of their excellent series, "The Sex Crylebration." It's funny and sweet and a little weird and arousing in unexpected places, just like...well, you know. Read it!! You'll like it!!

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Having It Some posts the policies of parental and family leave of various workplaces, because we all have a right to know. | March 23, 2015

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5 Ways to Tell If He's Into You: Kingdom Animalia Edition

the-trouble-with-mergers-september-10-1994If You're A Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis):

Okay, I know how very fine this dude looks: long neck, those rogue-ish horns, but don't rush it. Instead, try casually flirting with him by urinating close to where he's grazing. You'll know he's into you if he approaches, sniffs, and helps himself. If he likes what he tastes, it's on! Lift your tiny tail and get your booty down. But girl, if he's not into your flavour and trots away, remind yourself that it is his loss. At times like this, it's helpful to remember your mother's favourite adage: there are plenty of necks in the savannah.

If You're A Peacock Spider (Maratus volans):

Girl! This guy's definitely feeling you if he's waving his brightly coloured abdominal flaps and applauding you with his third set of legs. You might not be in the mood, but he's certainly willing to risk it! While he avoids your attempts to maim him, stop to admire his smooth sideways dance. Remember to award points for effort. If you're into it, (and he's still alive) go for it and let your hairy palps down! But if you're still not feeling it, don't worry, you can always eat him. READ MORE

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Hilary Duff Returns to TV in Brand New Series

Brought to you by TV Land

TV Land’s newest original series Younger, is brought to you by the creator of Sex and the City and stars Tony Award® winner Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar and Miriam Shor. The comedy, based on the novel, Younger, follows 40 year-old Liza (Foster) as she tries to get back into the working world, only to find it’s nearly impossible to start at the bottom at her age.

Liza tries to pass herself as a 26 year old in order to get a job in the highly competitive world of publishing – and succeeds. After landing the career of her dreams, Liza has to figure out how to balance her real life with bestie Maggie (Mazar) and her “pretend” work life with her new coworker Kelsey (Duff).

The series Premieres on Tuesday March 31 at 10pm/9pm C.

Be sure to tune-in every Tuesday and join the conversation online by using #YoungerTV. For more information, visit tvland.com/shows/younger