Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I think I'm better at making break-up mixes than I am making actual, real, "Hey, you're rad" mixes.  It might by my affiliation to the Smiths, but I absolutely rock at making a mix to get dumped by.  I've absolutely perfected the art of saying "to hell with you" through song.

Exhibit A: I made this for the same guy who adored me with Matthew Sweet's "Winonia" dumped me via Billy Bragg's "A Lover Sings"--one good mix deserves another.

-"Human" The Pretenders
-"Change Your Mind" The Killers
-"Wrapped Around My Finger" The Police
-"King of Wishful Thinking" Go West
-"(Still) Terminally Ambivalent Over You" The Real Tuesday Weld
-"Bouncing Off Clouds" Tori Amos
-"No Reply At All" Genesis
-"Not About Love" Fiona Apple
-"Boys on The Radio" Hole
-"I'm Still Standing" Elton John
-"You've Got Everything Now" The Smiths
-"Here's Where the Story Ends" The Sundays
-"I Don't Love You Anymore" Magnetic Fields
-"Nothing Lasts" Matthew Sweet (see what I did there?)

I mean, how is that not awesome?  It must have worked, because I never heard from him again, which is fine, because he had turned into kind of an ass.

I don't know if I'm going to ever actually get around to giving this one out (or finishing it--it's a tad on the short side), but it's too perfect not to share:

-"Take a Bow" Madonna
-"House of Cards" Radiohead
-"Swallow Tattoo" The Long Blondes
-"I Don't Believe You" the Magnetic Fields
-"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" The Smiths
-"Passion Kills" the Fontanelles
-"Off My Line" the Spin Doctors
-"Cabo Cad" JaR

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Joel Stein is Manlier than Me

Saturday night generally suck for me, because everyone I know/like is either a) living a hundred + miles away from me, b) married with kids or c) off having some lovely grand love affair.  Or d) at work, like Ian, so I'm stuck home.  And since Ian works with kids and kids get whatever they want, like his Xbox, I don't even have access to the wide world of MST3K on youtube, which I'm sure as hell not going to watch on my teeny tiny laptop like some commuter.

Being lonely and therefor in a bad mood, I decided that Tom Waits Nighthawks at the Diner would be a good choice for music, since the conversational parts of it make it seem like Tom is hanging out in your own living room, drinking all your beer, and having a drunk hipster around might remind me of college.  I had just picked up Joel Stein's Man Man: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity and decided now was as good a time as any to sack out on the couch and read a few chapters.

I read the entire thing.

I didn't even get up to turn over the record.  I barely got up to eat.  I read for five straight hours.  It was that good.  Waits generally trumps everything, but lat night, Joel Stein was the only man in my life. (Sorry Joel Hodgeson).  I read for so long that the next day, I couldn't turn my head.

I've always found Stein's work witty, engaging and conversational, which is what I like/strive for in my nonfiction.  Also, if by some chance he's reading this, he is also handsome, especially with his Marines-issued Buster Bluth haircut.  And generally I find stunt memoirs trite and tiring (although I'm really looking forward to My Year of Living Biblically) Man Made lacked the petulant selfishness all-to-inherent in the traditional memoir, but this one lacked all of that too.  Instead of the usual "I am awesome and special so look at me" bullshit, there was a sweetness, a genuine sense of wonder and enough gray matter to realize what the whole thing was really about.

Joel Stein is a literary rock star.  He can come hang out at the diner with me and Tom Waits any day

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Patriarchy: The Hands of Fate

My super-smart friend Ari and I have been going back and forth about the term "patriarchy," in terms of theoretical vs. literary device.  Ari is insanely well-read and versed on the subject, and I, having done two years at Bra-less MFA would, frankly, rather have something all be a dream in the end than even see the word patriarchy in a manuscript.

Patriarchy is a Big Bad.  It is predominantly used in memoir writing by rich white women complaining about why it sucks to be wealthy and white and privileged (see Eat. Pray. Love. Don't literally see it, because it's stupid, just click the link and read the Something Awful review of it).  I recently read a piece where a woman blamed the patriarchy in one paragraph and then got her panties all wet over her rich boyfriend's "manservant" (yes, she used "manservant" because I guess "Negro" was too polite) and how her rich boyfriend ordered dinner for her and how romantic the whole thing was.  I don't get too offended, but this made me so mad I was pacing around the room while I was trying to make notes and it took everything I had not to toss the whole thing in the fireplace and slap the woman who wrote it.

Memoir writers use The Patriarchy as a way to avoid blame or actual introspection on anything in their work.  It's much easier to blame the husband for the failure of your marriage than to admit that maybe you could have done some work too.  It's easier to blame some faceless white men for you not getting the keys to the Scrooge McDuck's vault than to say "Maybe I'm just a selfish bitch who thinks she's entitled to everything."  It's much easier to blame the chef than to say "Maybe I shouldn't have ordered that discount blowfish."

In my experience, the same writers who use The Patriarchy in this way generally are the first to strongly dictate how other women should behave.  Women who don't fit their narrow construct of feminism (wealthy, white, modest in dress albeit braless)  therefor fall into two categories:  In need of saving ("My Black Friend") or The Enemy.  I mean, thank goodness for Yale educated poets.  What would we do about our soul-crushing poverty without a bunch of women to teach us interpretive dance!  And of course, they deserve those $2K grants to teach us, after all, those dancing women work hard, and now that we all have the gift of interpretive dance, who needs food?

I tend to wear spike heels, short skirts, cut-up shirts and skinny jeans.  I think you can guess which category I fall into, despite the fact that I am economically disadvantaged and worked insanely hard to crawl my way up to where I am now.  But clearly, I'm not a feminist because I own thong underpants.

If we as writers want to something about The Patriarchy, which is back and badder than ever (trans-vaginal ultrasound, anyone?) we have to confront it head-on.  Name names.  Describe the men who've stood in your way.  Make them real, flesh and blood, make them accountable for their actions.  Simply lumping them together makes them little more than word too easily dismissed and lets them continue to get away with stripping us of our dignity and our hard-fought rights.

But more importantly, we, as women, need to solidify ourselves.  No more us vs. them.  No more feminists vs. sluts, working moms vs. stay-at-home.  It's too easy to divide ourselves, and divided, we will fall.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Overheard from a college-age waitress at a local diner:

"What's the difference between Crisco and butter?"

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I stopped teaching.

Rifftrax Live Report

Ian, Eeon and I went to see Rifftrax Live! Manos: The Hands of Fate last night in Albany, and it was the absolute best movie-going experience I've ever had.  The place was packed, the show was great (although I have to say I preferred the original Joel riff) good shorts and this:
What made the whole experience so awesome was not just that I was there with two of my favorite people on Earth (although that helped) but that we were all there together.  There was not a single person in that audience who got dragged because it was their boyfriend's turn to pick the movie.  We all wanted to be there.  This was something all of us had been waiting for.  No one was bored or disappointed.  Strangers complimented each other's themed tee-shirts.   I was going to bring Servo, but he had a slight accident on the car ride up and had to stay laying down in the backseat.  I did, however, wear my silver Servo necklace (Ian loves me).  If I'd had time, I would have made a sheer white Manos Bride costume.

And when the lights went down, something magical happened.  Not a single cell phone screen lit up.  No one's "Firework" ringtone went off.  And it stayed that way for the entire movie.  Think about the last time that happened.  I can't.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has always done what few other shows have--it makes the audience a direct part of the show.  Joel/Mike opened the show by welcoming everybody--not a live studio audience, but everyone watching at home as though you were there in the studio with him.  You were part of the experiment, and that tradition continued last night most notably during the "Welcome Home Norman" short, which is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen.  Our homecoming hero, Norman, does nothing but groan the entire time, so after the short, Kevin invited us to give a big ol' Norman catchphrase.

Obviously, we were watching a simulcast.  We were not in the Nashville audience.  Mike, Bill and Kevin couldn't hear us.  But we all did it anyways because it was part of the experience.  And normally I hate when people clap at movies, but this time, I didn't mind, and clapped heartily and often.  We hooted and hollered and stomped with laughter.  And no one that night left unsatisfied.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

As someone who writes a lot of stories that take place in the south, I can no longer stay silent on the horror that is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.  I've never watched the show or it's former monstrostity, Future Jon Benet Ramsey and Tiaras, because if I did, I surely would have consumed a nice strong cocktail of Allen's Coffee Brandy and Drain-O, neat.

For starters, her mother makes Divine look like Kate Moss.  She's a strawberry jello mold in a bridesmaid's dress.  She's a Hutt wearing lipstick.  She is the single most disgusting person I've ever seen, and I used to go to the Sunshine Fair, so I'm kind of an expert on ugly people.

It's not about the horrificness of TLC exploiting a family who really needs to have CPS called in.  It's not my smug, over-educated feminist outlook on beauty pageants.  It's the fact that this show continues to perpetuate the myth that the South is made up entirely of trailer parks and populated by rednecks who fornicate with gay pigs while gumming grits.  And I am so fucking sick of that version of the south because it's just not true anymore.

The south has made huge strides in culture.  Great bands like REM and the B-52's came out of Atlanta, Georgia.  High-end restaurants in North Carolina are fusing Korean  cuisine with grits and pork belly.  The Oxford fucking American, people!  It's in the middle of a renaissance, and it's garbage like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo that continue holding it back.

I remember watching The Blue Collar Comedy Tour with my then-boyfriend, his brother and his brother's wife.  She, being from Queens, thought it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen.  She couldn't understand why the three of us, being from Cobleskill, weren't laughing.  It wasn't that the jokes weren't funny, it was that we knew those kind of people.  It wasn't anything new or shocking to us.  But to her, the thought that someone might have sex in a satellite dish was so far out of her imaginative grasp that we might as well have said "You might be a redneck if you've got three heads, all named Billy Bob."

There are hicks everywhere.  If you ever want to see white trash at it's absolute finest, visit beautiful Cobleskill, NY, fantastically far north of the Mason-Dixon.  They just held the Redneck Blank in parts of Maine that might as well be Canada.  Rural America exists beyond Alabama and Georgia.  It's in PA and WI and CA.

I couldn't even read William Gay's Provinces of Night because it took place in the 1950's despite being published in 2000.  It just seemed like such a cliche, and damn it, I LOVED the film version of "That Evening Son."

PLEASE, people, enough with the old South.  MOVE ON.  It's one of the reasons I love Ray McKinnon so much--in the "Making of" featurette on Randy and the Mob, he says that he wanted to write a story set in the south he knew--the modern south, where people drive Kias and work in offices and wear khakis and occasionally have mob dealings.

We need to start embracing the south as a real place with real people, not some deep-fried Brigadoon that exists solely so Northerners can laugh at while they cram another organic Chipotle burrito into their gaping maw.  Find some other poor people to write a story about from your grant-funded beach house.