Friday, October 23, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are pre-review

I'm going to see Where the Wild Things Are tonight and I'm NERVOUS. This is an unusual feeling to have before a movie (normally I'm just psyched to get to eat candy), but the stakes here are high: I fear that if I don't like the movie it might ruin one of the greatest children's books of all time for me. In fact, when I first saw previews for the movie I swore I would not see it for this very reason. But the other week I went to see The September Issue (worthwhile, btw) and got there insanely early, and watched the programming they put on for people who get there insanely early. It was an interview with Maurice Sendak about how much he liked the movie, maybe even MORE than the book, he said. So, I felt like, if Maurice Sendak likes it then I should give it a try. But still ... nervous. Will report back later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear DoubleX, Hire me as your advice columnist

Friend or Foe, the advice column on Slate's lady-centric spinoff, DoubleX, is the worst advice column I can recall reading. This is saying something, because I am a junkie; I consume advice columns in bulk. (In case you were wondering, thet best ones are, in this order: Carolyn Hax, Miss Manners, Cary Tennis (Since You Asked on Salon), Dear Prudence, Savage Love, The Name Lady (ParentDish), and Dear Amy).

The idea behind the column, focusing on friendships rather than romantic relationships, is great--it fills a niche that I dont think any other column focuses on, and it makes sense on a website for chicks. But there are two major problems, one surmountable, one not.

The fixable: the author (Lucinda Rosenfeld) bases her answers on HUGE unstated assumptions about the letters she's responding to. Recently she got into a kerfluffle with commenters after she insinuated that a woman who said she'd been roofied at a bar had screwed up somehow, and said that she should not have expected her friends to come pick her up from the hospital. She admitted in a response to the pissed-off readers that she had assumed, based on the fact that the letter-writer said her friends were "angry" at her the next day, that the woman must have asked unreasonable favors of them before. But in the answer itself she didn't say that; instead she said that the friends "must think you're lying" about having been drugged, and snidely commented "Only you know the truth."

If the author thought maybe the woman was lying, presumably that would be an important fact to note and discuss in the column. Relegating it to a parenthetical snark is just bizarre, unless the point is to sound a edgily bitchy, in which case I think that's just a deranged approach to advice column-writing. (For an excellent example of how to write a column that points out the holes in the letter-writer's story and talks about them intelligently, see this recent Carolyn Hax masterpiece.)

Which brings me to the problem I dont think can be solved: the answer the author gives to "Friend or Foe?" is basically always "Foe." (Or maybe "Friend, but keep in mind that men are more important than your female friends.") In the roofie column, she said that it would be a boyfriend's responsibility to come get the drugged woman from the hospital, but not a friend's. This makes me quite sad for Ms. Rosenfeld (and her friends). Why write a column about friendship if you think it's basically a bankrupt institution?

DoubleX editors: If you decide to flip the script, I would be overjoyed to write an advice column about friendship that does not assume friendship is a big farce.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Modern-day dilemma

Should I "hide" updates from my few conservative Facebook "friends" because it raises my blood pressure to have the parade of baby pictures interrupted by "Why would I want the Government to take over healthcare? What will we do when they bankrupt it? Oh, that's right, just print more Obama bucks!"? Or should I keep responding with half-snarky-half-trying-to-convince-them-of-the-error-of-their-ways comments because I live in an insular little bubble of lefties and Facebook is one of my few connections to those Sarah Palin would call "real Americans"?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I am not a cool biker so I might as well get a kickstand

I never really tried to be a cool biker, anyway. My commuter bike (both versions, pre- and post-Bike Theft of 2009) has thickish tires, a very upright stance, and a rack on the back to which I affix my purse or grocery bags or whatever. And I bike in my work clothes, or a skirt, and flip-flops, not form-fitting spandex. So, biking, I look basically like Elmira Gulch, the mean neighbor/Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz (except less intimidating).

But when I bought my new commuter bike, post-theft, I made one little gesture towards coolness--I didn't get a kickstand. NOBODY except tiny children has a kickstand as far as I can tell, so I figured I could hack it without one, and get one or two cool points while I was at it.

Well, not having a kickstand blows. As far as I'm concerned the people who don't have them (i.e., everybody) are doing the equivalent of that crazy "diaper-free baby" movement. The no-diaper people apparently pay so much intense, constant attention to their babies that they can read their "tells" for when they need to go, and they go hold them over the toilet, or their compost pile or something, at those key moments.

Likewise, apparently everybody else is able to get in tune with their bike enough to know whether they have leaned it up against something in a secure fashion, or whether it is about to fall down.

Great for them, but I am the bad parent/biker who forgets to pay close enough attention, or has has not bonded with the baby/bike enough to understand its moods. Hence, my bike is constantly falling over, causing me to curse at it and probably stunt its emotional growth for life. (At least it does not poop on me.) Well no more! Kickstand it is. And, while I'm at it, I may also get a basket with which to steal small dogs.

Monday, October 05, 2009

John and Kate plus the end of the world

The " latest news" thing on my Google homepage has been totally overrun by John and Kate--he threatened to sue TLC if they keep filming the show, she took off her wedding ring, he withdrew $200,000 from their account without telling her, he says she's stealing money, she says their kids are miserable and it's his fault. Ick, meh, good lord, yuck, depressing.

Many moons ago I thought the world was ending because Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were breeding, but I now think that was probably wishful thinking, in terms of the excitement level we can expect from eschatological events. (Watch me use my thesaurus!) It will probably be not so much one big exciting occurrence as a long downward slide of individually discouraging events which, taken collectively, will add up to the doom of civilization. Congrats, John & Kate, you're my new Signs of the End Times!