Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's definitely a misstep to post twice about Joan Didion in my sensitivewhitegirl blog, but since I never post, nobody's counting. I've been rereading After Henry, which she published sometime in the nineties. The essays are preoccupied by the question of how we allow narratives--or their lack--to govern our lives. The essay about Patty Hearst turns on the question of Hearst's ability to "cut her losses" and abandon her former identity in favor of something that makes more sense at the moment. Didion believes this to be a Californian trait; the West rejects narrative and embraces chaos, whereas New York floats in its own history. Kind of like Bill's mom's outlook on baths, for those of you who like "Freaks and Geeks."

Needless to say, this is something I've thought about. There are days that I can't get through without making some arguably useless effort to order my own Filth. On "Madmen," Don Draper tells Peggy to cut her losses; he says that it will shock her how little responsibility she'll feel to her past. Bobby Barrett tells her, "you have to start living the life of the person you want to be." Maybe I am a New Yorker--I think I like the drain better when it's clogged.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


When I was in middle school and "Friends" was in the height of its popularity, my mother didn't let me watch it. It affirmed her principled opinion that "primetime sitcoms" were "too risque." She objected to its cavalier attitude toward sex. "People are always just...sleeping together," she used to say.

Maybe because of the mid-'90s ban, I've experienced a huge surge of interest in "Friends" for about a month now. Maybe it's because I'm now officially twenty-something. I keep thinking I'll get sick of it, find its Normalcy ultimately unappealing. But what Nick termed its "blandness" is, I think, exactly what gets me about it. "Friends" appeals to a universality that shows like "Seinfeld" ignore. I long to be as comfortable with the structure of my existence as these six seem to be. Though the theme song alludes to their Troubles ("your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's DOA..."), they seem really happy being humans. They don't feel driven to distinguish themselves from one another, or to accomplish wordly goals. Their personalities are enough.

Central to the universal appeal of "Friends" is, clearly, the boner everyone gets for Jennifer Aniston. In the first season, Rachel's miniskirts and white lace aprons and that blue velvet mock-turtleneck (!) render her basically irresistible. But one does wonder what it is about Jennifer/Rachel. She's not THE most beautiful woman in the world (her chin is really strong, none of her features are delicate---dare I compare her to Blake Lively??), and as Ross points out when he's deciding whether he should date her, she's Ditzy, Spoiled and Just a Waitress. Nonetheless, the impression one gets when watching "Friends" is that men are powerless in the face of Rachel Green. And it makes sense--she plays by the rules. She plays her evolutionary role, and it's super attractive. Also, duh, she has great boobs.

In "The One With the Fake Party," (click "read more" at the bottom to watch a crucial section), Rachel stages a party for Ross's girlfriend Emily in order to invite over the man she has a crush on. As the night progresses, she walks herself through the process of attaining Joshua, growing increasingly desperate, but never losing confidence in the basic tenets of her method. She plays hard to get, she demonstrates to Joshua that she can knot a cherry-stem with her tongue, she changes into her "lucky" black dress, she stages a game of Spin-the-Bottle, and finally, she relies on the powers of her high school cheerleading uniform. It's really hilarious, because everyone knows that Joshua must at least be attracted to Rachel. Who wouldn't be? And Rachel never suffers from any real loss of self-esteem; instead, she experiences intense frustration that things aren't going her way au moment.

I wonder about this alpha-female prototype. To me it's totally exotic and fascinating, and yet all women have some idea of how to play the game at which Rachel displays such expertise. It's not that hard to impress dudes, and yet I have trouble imagining myself as Rachel---so fully entitled, and so fully committed to her own femininity.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


This is an internet survey. It's called, Jason Schwartzman: Do-able?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Bethany: yep.
I wonder if youtube and such will decrease our ability to decide things.
I mean, describe things
like, we can just show exactly what we mean.
me: hyperlinking in conversation
4:38 PM Bethany: yeah.
me: yeah
Bethany: you should write a blog post.
me: i did
Bethany: no, I meant about what I just said.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I've been reading a collection of profiles by Claudia Pierpont-Roth, who writes for the New Yorker, on notable twentieth-century (female) minds. I thought my blog's (ever-expanding, because I post so much) audience would appreciate the following:

on Eudora Welty's family/her relationship to the South--
"Her loyalty to a past and now often despised way of life was naturally intensified by a loyalty to the family she'd lost, but also, it seems, by her need to justify her years of sacrifice to them. (Compare Faulkner on the subject of the artist's sacrifice: 'If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the 'Ode to a Grecian Urn' is worth any number of old ladies.')"

on Doris Lessing's men-troubles--
"And the very modern 'men-babies' that the age was producing certainly weren't going to give anything--there were now spoken rules about this--even as they pillaged her emotional store and absorbed all the loving and cooking and the nursing and the sex that any sensible Victorian woman would have set at a far higher price."

Pierpont-Roth seems most interested in these women as mother-figures, and as sexual partners to men, using their intellectual work as a lens. She really hates Anais Nin. More soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


When asked by a colleague what brand of eyeliner I wear, I came up short. I had no idea. Our conversation stalled because of my failure to produce this information. I recently saw the Sex and the City movie, and though I don't often feel like a traitor to my sex, my first and only consistent thought was: "I really hope there are no men in this theater, and that no men I know ever watch this movie."

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I promise I will post about something interesting soon. But isn't this weird? I guess movies and TV are cheaper than other forms of entertainment, or so I'll persuade myself. And I have seen some good movies in the past three months: There Will Be Blood, Harold and Maude, Murmur of the Heart. But can the same be said of the hours of Project Runway and The Office? Probably not! At a whopping 37.3%, television is clearly my cultural priority! Something needs amending.

Other notes: Though live music makes up a nice chunk of this pie chart, don't be fooled. Andy Friedman and the Other Failures and Boy Crisis make up a disproportionate amount of my musical agenda. And though that experience might help me someday write some sort of treatise on American Masculinity, I doubt it's enriching my life or elevating my taste.

Well, this is silly. But comments are encouraged! What do you think your pie chart would look like?

*Correction: On the chart, "Reading" means "going to a reading," not "reading books," which I do a lot but didn't think counted.