Thursday, October 16, 2014


Forgotten Monsters

Garfel: Over the years, Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid was radically changed from her original form. The sad, painful dancer who turns into depressed seafoam after her one true love weds another became Ariel, a sexy, wide-eyed redhead, who successfully wins her man without even a small jig. In this same manner, Garfel, an ancient Norse demon who kept little Vikings awake for centuries, has been softened for weak modern children. Once known as a mostly-dormant feline beast whose ravenous appetite and formidable rage exploded only at the beginning of each week, today he is a cat who is funnier when he is not even around. His nemesis, Odin, was slightly changed for the modern version as well. READ MORE


"I Want You Back" Is Back


Forgive me for forgetting: last Tuesday was the 45th anniversary of the release of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," ranked 121 on Rolling Stone's list of greatest songs of all time, ninth on their list of Best Pop Songs Since 1963, and listed in the Jazmine Hughes Quarterly as one of the things considered to be damn near perfect (other entries: When Harry Met Sally, Mingus Ah Um, the chicken pad thai found at Jasmine Thai, in New London, Connecticut).

I've missed out on a lot of pop culture, which is unfortunate since I'm obsessed with it. I never hesitate to insert myself into any conversation about it, using background information gleaned from VH1's I Love the 80's and other talking head programs as my fuel. Earlier this year, I was consumed with the idea of designations of "best" or "most important" — since I was already 22 years behind, I only had time to catch up on good stuff. So I started poring over "best of" lists, collated, of course, to organize our history, to make sense of trends, and to track changes, but also to incense and infuriate, to spark discussions and cause disagreements. Any discussion of a pop culture ranking list ultimately culminates in "they're wrong!"/"I'm right!"-based exasperation, resulting in more click-throughs, more copies sold, more times the name of the publication leaves your mouth, all in an effort to prove your point. Arguing with them — the arbiters of best, whoever they are — is exactly what they want.


Ask Baba Yaga: How Can I Make Peace With Death?

unnamed Transcript after the jump. READ MORE

Why My Baby Doesn't Eat Animals

pigHaving a child means that you, as a parent, wield incredible power. You can dress your baby exclusively in green, or never let her hear Simon & Garfunkel (as if) or Iggy Azalea (oops, I wish). Arguably the greatest power arrives with the introduction of “solid food” into your baby’s mouth, around the time they are six months old. I thought for a very long time, even talking it over with friends, about what Zelda’s first food should be. I was told by my doctor to start with something naturally mushy. I settled on a daily vacillation between the avocado and the banana.

Zelda didn’t want to wait until she was six months old. By the time she was four-and-a-half months old, she was trying to grab food from my hands, or off of my plate. So, one afternoon, in a less momentous fashion than I had imagined, I mashed up both an avocado and a banana and offered them to her, minutes apart. She took the spoon from me and hoisted it into her mouth herself. She made a face, but she was also “chewing” as she handed the spoon back to me for a refill. A lot of what I gave her on the spoon fell out of her mouth and onto the floor, where the dog was anxiously waiting. But Zelda clearly understood the ritual: The next day, when I fed her sweet potato which I had peeled, steamed, and pureed, more went in—and stayed in. In less than a week, she’d been introduced to green beans, peas, carrots, and leeks (which I steamed with a small piece of potato and pureed for her).

Now, at eight months old, with just two teeth, Zelda can chomp down anything you hand over, in smallish chunks. She likes her food pureed or not, warm or not. Toast, strawberries, steamed broccoli, pasta noodles. She eats a lot, usually feeding herself, and often sharing with the dog. The one thing Zelda has never tasted, however, is an animal. READ MORE


13 Things That All Women in Their Twenties Who Are Possessed by Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, Are Sick Of Hearing

1. "But how is painting upside down crucifixes with ram's blood going to help you pay off your student loan debts?"
How are *your* dumb questions going to help me pay off my debt?

2. "You'd be so pretty if you just smiled more and kept your neck turned at a normal angle."
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​​Sorry we can't all be as basic as you!


Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Abortion

The article "Abortion: Not Easy, Not Sorry," in ELLE, is stunning; its writer, Laurie Abraham, re-examines her personal history with her abortions, using Katha Politt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, as a lens with which Abraham can embrace her past. Between the two of them, the golden nuggets, the things that made me shake my head and underline passages and say, "Yes, THANK YOU." are plentiful. Try:

I'm tired of the rhetoric, even from pro-choice advocates, who in their understandable defensive posture seem to restrict themselves to discussing the most "sympathetic" abortions: those performed because of rape or incest, because the life or health of the mother is in danger, or when the fetus has some devastating disease like Tay-Sachs. All those taken together account for less than a tenth of the more than one million pregnancies terminated in this country each year, Pollitt tells us in Pro: "So sorry, fifteen-year-old girls who got drunk at a party, single mothers with all the kids they can handle and no money, mothers preoccupied with taking care of disabled children, students with just one more year to a degree, battered women, women who have lost their job or finally just landed a decent one, and forty-five-year-olds who have already raised their kids to adulthood, to say nothing of women who just don't feel ready to be a mother, or maybe even don't ever want to be a mother."


...because there seems to be this cultural fantasy that, as Pollitt puts it, "ill-timed pregnancy" is a bump easily absorbed, a hurdle easily surmounted. It's as if, she writes, "bearing and raising children is something [women] should be ready to do at any moment." If childbirth is compulsory, women's sexuality is what "defines them," she continues, "not their brains and gifts and individuality and character, and certainly not their wishes or their ambitions or their will." Put another way, gender equality is a hollow concept if a woman can't control her fertility except by refraining from sex.


It's Pollitt who offers perhaps the most forgiving perspective on my abortion history, and who says something that seemed to resonate with a number of my friends and colleagues. "Women have to control their fertility for 30 years," she tells me, echoing a line from Pro. "Thirty years is a long time not to make mistakes."

I had one unplanned pregnancy in each decade of my reproductive life, which isn't something to be proud of, but I'm not sure it's anything to be ashamed of, either.

Or pretty much anything else.

The TV Networks' Comedy Depth Charts

depthchartsHow committed are your favorite TV networks to making you laugh? While some networks are happy to stick with a tried and true formula, others are being forced to experiment this season. What’s going on with the rise of the romantic sitcom? Who’s doubling down on family fare? Where should you look for your favorite canceled shows? We’ve examined the comedies the networks and cable have to offer this 2014-2015 TV season to see which network offers the most in quantity, which offers the most in quality, and who’s taking the biggest risks. READ MORE


The Hairpin Halloween Advent Calendar: Halloween Rituals

hh1It's our firmly held belief that Halloween is far more important than Christmas, and therefore more deserving of a countdown calendar. It is, after all, the most wonderful time of the year: there are parties and costumes and terrifying things like Martha Stewart, and candy and then more candy and then even more candy, and your ability to consume that much candy is a marvelous thing to behold.

So, in celebration of the Highest of High Holidays, we're bringing back our Halloween Advent Calendar. We'll post one or two Halloween-y pieces a day in the 13 days leading up to October 31. Why 13 days? Because 13 is a spoOoOoky number!

The first go around we kicked off the Calendar with a round-up of Halloween Confessions; this time, we're doing Halloween Rituals. We asked our contributors to share the traditions by which they observe Halloween — current, or past, or even just something they wished they did? We would, of course, loOooOove to hear yours! READ MORE



I love Monica and Brandy’s “The Boy Is Mine”. Every time I listen to it—and it must have been a million times—the harp part at the beginning of the song just captivates me. It’s everything I love about what could be done with electronic music; a human being could not actually play that, and I found that fascinating. I played that quite a bit for a small grandson when he couldn’t settle, and he went quiet instantly. There’s something about the introduction to that song.

Lindsay Zoladz interviews Vashti Bunyan, discusses several important matters, primarily Brandy vs. Monica. It's great. Should we just watch the video real quick?

Buying Power

Last month, I picked my kids up from Portland International Airport. They had been visiting their dad for five weeks in Pennsylvania, and in the interim, I had moved everything we owned 400 miles. Even though our new home was in a tiny town in northern Washington, I had my kids fly into Portland because Oregon has no sales tax and we needed to shop for school clothes.

This all sounds normal—pedestrian even—and it would have been except for one fact: We had never gone full school clothes shopping before. That’s because as an adjunct, I almost never had classes to teach over the summer, which meant I didn’t get paid for those months. Most summers I cobbled together our existence with freelance gigs, my tax refund, and food stamps. Every fall, I dreaded the school fees, and having to ask for scholarships. I also hated that my kids would have to wait until the end of October—when my first paycheck would finally come—before they’d get anything they needed like jeans or shoes. I usually crossed my fingers hoping their summer clothes would get them through until then and it wouldn’t get too cold.

This year, though, I spent the summer working full-time for my old college with the bright promise of my new job around the corner. I calculated what I still needed to purchase, the expenses I would have before my first check in September, and I realized I had $500 to spend on new school clothes for the kids.

To say this felt like a miracle would not be an overstatement. READ MORE


Let Me Love You

Let Me Love You 2
A couple of months ago a very good friend of mine turned to me as if she had a deep secret. She premised the statement with shame. It was one of those non-verbal cues of uncomfortable realization that I inherently understood. Rendering her incapable of mouthing the full words for a few moments, blistering her sentences with falters and a fusillade of, “how do I?” and then, “okay, so—” and then pausing, again, until finally, she said—“I don’t like it when people compliment you. I feel strange about myself when someone does.” READ MORE


A Cool Book Review By A Hip Writer Who Has Definitely Had Sex

I got my first asymmetrical haircut when I was 8. My mother was in the kitchen, reading, and I walked in with a pair of scissors. "Fuck you, Mom," I said, as I sliced off half the hair I’d grown as a protest against traditional masculinity. “Fuck the whole world.”

My mother doesn't understand me, still, to this day. She doesn't understand my smoking, my drinking, my casual drug use, or my biting and contemporary parody Twitter accounts. To her credit it is impossible to truly know anything. That, like how to make a bong out of a bottle I found in the garbage, is something I know.

One time I was in an orgy. READ MORE


How Many Types of Millennials Are There?

If there's one thing every millennial hates, it's an overly broad generalization about what every millennial thinks.

But is it better or worse to try to carve the 18-34 age group into smaller segments? Would it highlight the diversity of a widely divergent generation, or just amplify stereotypes?

"Are These the 12 Types of Millennials?" Adweek asked us.

I don't even need to list the types for you; the answer's obviously no, and it's offensive to have been asked. I'm sick of companies co-opting my age to make baseless assumptions about me. I'm sick of being pigeonholed into an era accused of being superficial, vapid, and careless, despite my best intentions not to be. I'm sick of being treated like I care about anything other than plants of the nightshade family. READ MORE


What My Mom Wants Me to Write About


My Mom: Hi! Have you been reading the news this week? I have ideas for articles!! READ MORE


Quentin Tarantino Explains Things To Me

Today is the 20th anniversary of Pulp Fiction, a film so devoted to explaining itself that it actually opens with a title card displaying the dictionary definition of "pulp." Watch and learn.

Video by Daniel Reis.