Monday, August 18, 2014
I spent my first afternoon in Rome laying in my narrow hostel bed, talking to the Australian boy I’d just met, who was laying in his matching bed across the room as torrential rain poured on the charming front garden for hours. We had one of those intense conversations you sometimes have when forced into proximity with an affable stranger – I told him about a breakup, he told me about why he decided to leave Australia for a year. (Because that’s what 20something Australians do, mostly, but there were other reasons.) READ MORE
I know everyone's probably seen this already, but have you guys watched Chris Pratt's ice bucket challenge yet?? [In other news, have you guys seen that Ellen selfie from the Oscars yet also??!] The comic timing is so wonderful on this, and obviously we can't not post something featuring the phrase "That went down my buttcrack! AHHHH!"
No body part inspires puritanical pearl-clutching in decent Americans quite as much as the humble nipple. Ten years ago, Janet Jackson slipped the nipple heard ‘round the world, prompting comic levels of outrage and morality policing. This summer, the MPAA banned Eva Green’s Sin City 2 poster for hinting at the possible existence of a nipple through her sheer robe. In between, there was a decade’s worth of similar incidents regarding this particular brand of anatomical exposure:
Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII
The nipple-baring that started the national conversation about wardrobe malfunctions took place at the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. When Justin Timberlake dance-ripped Jackson’s top, viewers caught a glimpse of Jackson’s nipple for 9/16th of a second. 1.4 million people went on to complain to the Federal Communications Commission about the supposedly indecent exposure. (Yes, Americans complained more about 9/16th of a second of nipple on CBS rather than the 10+ years of Two and a Half Men they’ve been airing.) CBS was fined $550,000 by the FCC, and Jackson’s career arguably suffered after the fact. Timberlake is doing just fine for himself.
We have all heard of ghosting (or the fade away, as some call it), probably – that thing when a person you're dating just disappears. But like real ghosts (which are real, as I just said), there are many different types of relationship phantoms. And fortunately for all of us, these types correspond to famous spooks. How lucky! Herewith, a breakdown. READ MORE
This past Friday, 13-year-old Mo'Ne Davis became the first female Little League player to pitch a shutout in the World Series. She only allowed two hits, which I understand is very few hits, and struck out eight other players. It was her second shutout in a row, as she performed the same feat to qualify her team for the World Series.
Clearly Davis is a star, and an incredibly cool new role model for little girls, who have mostly been lacking in the baseball hero department. She also might be pretty damn inspirational for any former little girl who watched The Sandlot obsessively before being cut from her middle school softball team and realizing that movies don't actually hone athletic ability. Not only is Davis very good at throwing fast balls, she is wonderful in the public eye. Davis has appeared in the media as collected and level-headed, but still wonderfully excited about the sport she loves. And possibly coolest of all?
When Davis was asked by ESPN post game how she dealt with excess media fascination, she had a perfect answer.
"I can always say no," Davis said.
Just say no to media fascination, kids.
You may want to check out The Killers' cover of "Fancy" (2014's "Get Lucky" ??! :/) from the V Festival this weekend. Also, now I'm listening to "Mr. Brightside" and I forgot how listening to this song was one of my favorite things during the Bush-era years. [Vulture]
Hello Hairpinners! So, I realize it's Monday morning and it's like, who are you? Why are we? What is world? Where is coffee? So I wanted to take four seconds to introduce myself before immediately segue-ing into a video that made me happy-cry, because that is the emotion I like to start a week off with. I'm Meredith, and I'll be guest-blogging with the wonderful Michelle this week. I once wrote this thing about the afterlife for you lovely people and, more secretly, this thing about my vagina (sorry, Mom!). I like fireworks, pie, Matt Damon's shockingly thick neck in Elysium, and bars that allow dogs. You can say hi on Twitter if you want but also, you know, no pressure. I am just here for y'all.
Most importantly, I spent pretty much all of this past weekend tearing up and then sighing happily because I was watching and rewatching this Garfunkel and Oates video in which fake, gay puppets get married. That's what I am like! Let's have a fun week!
We did it. This was a week full of feels and we made it through. We followed the devastating news in Ferguson, Mo. We said goodbye to Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. We owned our dislike of Boyhood. We learned what it felt like to be pregnant week by week, then overheard what people talk about when watching childbirth videos (“Annnnnd that's your butthole."), then we thought about eating our grandparents.
We saw Instagrams from the Bay Area Femme Cartel. We discussed the worst flirting in the world, then we promised to be really cool brides! We heard a sad, beautiful story about two men named Victor. We ate something called a saladcake and almost went to the Prom. Baba Yaga taught us how to not be shitty. We apologized. Then we made something to eat. Then we reviewed some dicks of course. We compared the videos for "Break Free" and "Oops!... I Did It Again." We were cruise ship comedians. We heard our boyfriend Joseph Gordon-Levitt tell us why he's a feminist. We got really into the Backstreet Boys.
Have a great weekend, ya'll.
[photo via US Magazine]
I am so glad about what’s happening at this moderately well-known hair accessory review blog: Haley is just the definition of A game, and in the interim period before her official start you’ll be in the loving hands of Meredith Haggerty and true pal Michelle (who suggested this morning that we do a Q&A for my goodbye post and then started it by reasonably asking me “how I felt,” after which I straight-up had to go look at the dictionary.com definition for “feelings” and subsequently decided that the Q&A route was not for me).
But I have traversed the tiny sea between my emotional continents of “THAT SONG, I’M DYING” and “This is pretty chill” and found the small odd-shaped island of being sad, of course, to leave this place. I can’t think of a better place to have started working on the internet than the Hairpin. It's a coup for a writer to get such total and sustained freedom, and it’s just as great as an editor to be able to solicit horoscopes from Russian bunnies and advice poetry from witches alongside fake magazines for depressed bitches and instructional tutorials about the dickhole. To everyone who has let me edit you, I am luckier to have gotten to dip into your brain, and excluding the sentient spambot struggle, this job has been entirely and only a really good time.
Soon I will elaborate on where I'm going, but in the meantime know I'll be around. If you want to keep hanging with my musical inclinations I have decided to Do a Thing: please sign up here if you want to receive an authentically bespoke, disruptively curated collection of fully erect tunes each week. And you can also find me here, here and here.
Thank you to the cuddly teddy bears of the Awl Family DoBro Wig Shop, to Edith and Jane and Nicole for making this site what it was when I got here, and to Emma for literally everything since. And thanks to all of you for reading.
Ask a Fancy Person: Talking About Military Service, Finding Goodbye Gifts, Being the Broke Friend at the Wedding
Recently I met a gentleman on the Air Force Cycling Team during a statewide bicycle ride. I had a great time talking to him, and we covered a lot of topics, which was awesome during tough hills! Eventually he took off in a blur of blue spandex and quadriceps, and I realized that though I was curious, I never felt comfortable asking about his service as a member of the U.S. Military. And THEN I realized that I didn't know how to ask people about their service, or if you should, or if there are times when you should or you shouldn't!
It seems to me that this a pretty big and nuanced issue, but overall I just want to know when it's okay to say, "I'd love to learn more about your experience, if you care to talk about it." I care about our servicemen and women and the jobs they do (especially, if I'm honest, the ones that get to train dolphins to find bombs. Seriously). But on the flipside, of course there are hard parts (see: tours of Afghanistan and Iraq, disturbing memories for Vietnam vets, the difficulty of returning to civilian life, etc) and I don't want to hurt people with my curiosity.
I'm also aware that I'm a civilian, and that there are definitely things I can and can't ask.
So, can you provide me with some pointers on talking with former and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces about their service?
-Standard Operating Procedure
As you may or may not know, I grew up near Fort Knox, Kentucky. They don’t still keep the gold there though they do keep something there and the best guess I have ever heard is the bodies of the Roswell aliens. I am close to a lot of servicemen and servicewomen as a result (I’m even related to a couple!), so I am something of a civilian expert on this particular topic. You’ve come to the right place.
Since we don’t have a draft anymore and the American armed forces are the smallest they’ve been since before WWII, a lot of people don’t know anyone who is in the military at all and are pretty misinformed about how it works and what being in is like. Before I say anything else, I want to emphasize the diversity of experience and background in the military: they aren’t inherently heroes or villains, just people with a job that has a little more structure than yours. Some people will have entire careers without ever firing a weapon, some spend years in warzones with only brief interruptions. What I’m saying is you can’t know what they’ve seen or what their preferences will be just by knowing they served.
With this in mind, here are some good, safe questions you can start with: What branch of the military are you in? How long have you been in the Navy? What do you do for the Navy at Parris Island? Where have you been stationed previously? Have you ever done an overseas tour?
Those are some pretty basic things that are pretty much like asking someone what they do for a living and what places they’ve lived in the past. It’s neutral, and if they get upset at you for asking things that basic, they’re being needlessly difficult and you are not the problem. I have yet to meet anyone who is uncomfortable talking about things at that level. That said, some of them have jobs that are very secretive, so if the person with whom you are speaking is purposefully vague about their work, drop it. Most of them, though, have pretty normal jobs, like "being a dentist," or "doing HR stuff." I typically stay away from the word “deployment” because that is one that changes meaning and scope from branch to branch; "overseas tour" is more neutral and less risky.
If you’re reading an advice column on how to be mannerly, I probably do not need to tell you this, but it bears repeating: do not ask if they have killed someone. Do not ask if they have lost friends. Do not ask if they have been shot at. Do not ask about PTSD. READ MORE
There would have to be a heist!
To become the super-famous painting we know today, “Mona Lisa” needed an epic event — something momentous to transform her into one of the most iconic images in human history.
She needed to disappear. That’s exactly what happened on August 22, 1911, when the painting was stolen. It is the greatest art heist story ever told, because it was absurdly simple, relatable in one sentence:
After hiding in a broom closet until the museum closed, a former Louvre employee walked out with the painting under his coat.
But who would do such a thing?
The heist, as later recounted in the Saturday Evening Post (this was a long time ago!), involved several players: It was the Ocean’s Eleven of its day. There was at least one burglar, but he was essentially a patsy. The ringleader did not participate in the theft, but he did unite the dream team, including the most crucial members: forgers.
According to the account, the thieves never actually intended to sell “Mona Lisa” — that would have been foolishly dangerous. Instead, they intended something much more lucrative — to copy it.
Before even stealing it, the conspirators forged six passable copies of “Mona Lisa.” Then, after snatching the original, they sold those six copies — for millions of dollars each — to doofus American millionaires.
This is a low-key addictive track from Annabel Jones (Davy Jones' daughter, apparently!): its heart is a gentle, full-throated, early-'00s singer-songwriter reliance on melody; Jones's voice flits against the clear-sky instrumentation like a bird.
Peter Mendelsund is associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf Books, which makes him perhaps the preeminent expert among those who judge books by their covers. He’s designed covers for everything from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to classics by Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Joyce, and De Beauvoir. Last week, he published two books: What We See When We Read, an incisive exploration of the phenomenology of reading, and Cover, a monograph of his best work, which includes his thoughts on designing and several short essays from authors.
I talked to Peter the other day about his work as a cover designer, which began eleven years ago, after a past life as a classical pianist.
So, you were a classical pianist for many, many years, and you mention in Cover that that you still self-identify as such. Is the pleasure you get out of designing at all different than the one you get playing?
Oh yeah, it’s different in kind and degree. The joy I get out of playing piano—there are very, very few things in life that match that particular form of communion. Of course, it’s also hard work, but when it’s going well it’s just one of the great feelings a person can have. If one is playing great music, if you’re playing Bach or Beethoven, and you’re playing it in a way where things are working properly, then your self dissolves, and it’s absolutely a transcendent experience. And nothing, nothing, in design matches that.
It’s not like I’m sitting in front of my InDesign documents swooning. I wish I did. Designing evokes a much narrower range of emotions; that range is somewhere between cool, which is one response, and oh, that’s pretty.
You say in Cover that with book design “clever” and “pretty” are the main benchmarks of quality—that design doesn’t need to deal in profundity. Is that really true, though? Looking at some of your covers, I find profundity. Is that incidental, or do you aim for that?
Well, what you’re trying to do is make something that structurally maps the text. So if there is some unintentional profundity, it has to do with the way the author has written the book and the way the reader has read the book. You’re gonna bring your own experience and feelings to bear on it. I don’t think there’s ever been a moment where I’ve said or felt, “this cover is really profound.” It’s really profundity by association—if it’s a great text, Dostoevsky or whatever, then you connect the experience of reading with the paratext.
"Sorry, we went with another candidate."
I briefly considered putting this on my tombstone, but then I realized the better idea would be to get cremated and have a trusted friend blow my ashes into the eyes of job fair recruiters. If I were to die this instant, that is. You don't want to hire me? Too late, I fired myself from being alive.
"You'll get something,” my mom assures me. "How is your writing going?"
I spend all my extra money on a video player for the TV. It's small and compact enough that I could probably lose it if it didn't have wires attached. I rip it out of the package and sit nearly immobile until one of my roommates returns.
"Look," I say, holding up the remote. "We can all watch music videos together."
She is excited like she would be if I’d just made alternate on the spelling team. You’re happy so I'm happy. I decide this is sufficient.
That night my roommates and I watch everything from My Chemical Romance's "Helena" to Crazytown's "Butterfly." I drink champagne out of a boot-shaped mug and fist pump when I put on "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)."
I have seen it before, but each view brings a new revelation. All of the Backstreet Boys are trapped for a night in a mansion so spooky that they turn into horror movie characters. Nick is wrapped in gauze, flanked by two female mummies. Howie is a vampire doing a slow-mo bite of a lady in a red, ruffled dress who looks stoned.
I decide that a world without a high-budget haunted-mansion boy band video is not a world I can feel comfortable living in, just as I would not feel comfortable living in a world where the question "Am I sexual?" is left unanswered.
"Wait," I tug at my roommate's sleeve, sloshing champagne into my lap. "Let's watch another Backstreet Boys video." READ MORE