Smart Girls Who Do Stupid Things


Read Gloria Steinem’s Journalistic Lowpoint About Textured Stockings

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PBS and AOL’s joint documentary-slash-video series on the history of the feminist movement, Makers, premiered Tuesday night, and of course, there are plenty of good, never-heard-before stories about how terrible it used to be to be a woman. In one of her interviews, Gloria Steinem discusses the worst article she ever wrote:

“When it came to assignments as a freelance writer, I was assigned things about fashion and food and make-up and babies. Or – the low-point in my life – textured stockings. When I delivered the articles to my editor at the Sunday Times magazine, he generally gave me a choice: either I could go to a hotel room with him in the afternoon, or mail his letters on the way out. Needless to say, I mailed the letters. But I just assumed I had to put up with this.”

Here’s the article she’s talking about, found by Hope Dellon and queried for by The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum. In it, we learn first and foremost that “1964 is officially The Year of the Leg.” It’s an article that is perhaps the most thorough look at stockings ever written outside of a history book. Steinem may have hated writing about “colored lace, floral prints, elastic fishnet, plaid wool, knitted cables, Klee-like abstract prints, alpaca knee socks, thigh-high tweed, hand-painted jersey tights, camel’s hair spatterdashes, metallic threaded anklet’s and stretch-knight hose adorned with polka dots the size of rouge pots,” but she definitely made the topic compelling.

Steinem’s issues with the Times don’t end there; in another Makers video, she remarks upon how long it took the newspaper to start referring to women as “Ms.” and not “Mrs.”, even if they were single. When the paper finally switched, she and other feminist activists took flowers to the editor at the time, Abe Rosenthal. “He said the most infuriating single thing, which was, ‘Oh, if I’d known this mattered so much to you, I would have done it a long time ago,'” says Steinem, laughing a bit.

The best part of the whole thing might be Steinem’s bio for the piece, which reads much less like something you’d see in the Times and more like something you’d read on a modern day blog:
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Read This Article

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If you read or watch or listen or look at anything this year, make it “Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer“, a multimedia piece at the fullest definition of the term from the New York Times. I can honestly say that it is the most moving piece of journalism I’ve seen in a year, and one of the best I’ll probably read in my lifetime. They’ve managed to take a topic that I’m only tangentially interested in — hockey — and spin a tale of the greatest tragedy, full of some of the most interesting and heartbreaking moral questions we can ask ourselves.

In May of this year, New York Rangers hockey player Derek Boogaard died. I didn’t notice, probably didn’t even read about it and don’t really care about sports. Scientists now believe his death, which was from an overdose of painkillers and alcohol, was also partially due to a rare degenerative brain disorder caused by years of head trauma. To try to summarize the piece, which paints a complete picture of Boogaard’s life in the context of the world of hockey and his position as an enforcer, more completely would be a waste for everyone involved; put aside the hour or so it’ll take you to emotionally invest and go through the incredibly thorough work John Branch and Shayla Harris, among others, have done, to fully understand the factors at work here. However, I will say that I’ve found that Boogaard’s story grapples with the same questions and upsetting realizations we’ve seen stirred up in the wake of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal involving coach Jerry Sandusky (which the Times also addressed in a disturbing interview and excellent article this weekend).

I never liked organized contact sports, for the regular reasons, like how I’m not very good at them, and I don’t like things I’m not good at. What I finally got good at and clicked with was swimming, which gets glory every four years at the Olympics, when we drool over hot bodies, and then promptly forget about the underwater aquatic feats these people can accomplish we can only dream about as we paddle around in the pool.

But what I’ve realized after consuming this story about Boogaard is that part of the reason I connected with swimming was that the sport possessed an almost total lack of the machismo masked as sportsmanship we see displayed in modern American sports. I liked that it wasn’t broadcast as part of the highlights on the 10 o’clock news, that there wasn’t an entire channel devoted to it (that many people got). Because of the lack of commercialization of the sport, relatively speaking, there was less pressure on me. And because it was in fact an individual sport masking as a team sport, there was less self-sacrifice for some greater sports godlike diety that was really just money, money, money.

Derek Boogaard was a victim of nature and of nurture. He was never going to be good at hockey in a traditional sense, but he grew up in a place where that was all he could see himself doing. But the problem was is that he was never going to be good at other things, like school, that could have provided him with another path. As disgusting and upsetting the inherent lack of care the NHL has in the health of it’s players (I admit extreme naivety about the amount of literal boxing that goes on during a hockey game, but how on earth is that considered an acceptable part of the sport?), I’m not sure Boogaard could have done anything else but play hockey.

If we lived in a world where the NHL didn’t pick up and discard players at their whim, Boogaard never would have played hockey, and then he never would have done something that, at least some of the time, he seems to enjoy. Why did he enjoy it? Perhaps because he was taught to. But also because some part of him identified with that magical feeling that winning and being validated gave him, just for himself, and hopefully not connected with anyone else’s agenda.

I will say that I’m not naive enough to think this story will drastically alter the shape of American sports. People still get wasted and watch grown men beat the shit out of each other, who then politely pause for a commercial break so their fans can go to the bathroom and buy a Bud Light. No one really cares about those men — at least, not the people who’s faces and voices you see forcing you to care about them.

And why, you may ask, does any of this sad hockey player’s death and sort-of unhappy childhood have anything to do with Sandusky, who allegedly molested dozens of children? At first glance, both the stories are just about sports. But to me, they’re about the power of power, the power of a corrupting force, the power of the “greater good” that we hold over every individual one good. People turn a blind eye. People are scared. People think it doesn’t really matter, that there isn’t really proof for any wrongdoing.

But while a bunch of hockey fans might be disappointed if they don’t get to see a brawl during a game they paid for, I can tell you that I spent a morning with my stomach in knots watching those fights over and over again. And yes, I know how the story ends. Maybe that’s why it’s so upsetting; I can’t be caught up in the moment, I know that guy dies and people are hurt and the people who should care don’t. But you know that too. And if you watch one more time, you might not like it so much anymore either.

Bill Cunningham Is Here, Finally

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I spent several weeks transcribing the documentary Bill Cunningham New York this fall before its full release to theaters, and I’m super excited to see that it’s finally getting out there for all everyone’s viewing pleasure (though hopefully not everyone will have to see it as many times in a row as I had to). As the director Richard Press (who I’ve written about before here) explains, “When people ask how long it took to make Bill Cunningham New York I say ten years: eight to convince Bill to be filmed and two to shoot and edit the film. Had it been any different, Bill wouldn’t have been true to who he is or nearly as interesting a subject to film.” It’s a beautiful case study into an extremely genuine, quirky, and talented man who usually has the lens turned on other people, not himself. The filmmakers use choice dialogue, and allow Bill’s work, what Bill is known for and what he shapes his whole life around, speak for itself. It’s absolutely a testament to Press and producer Philip Gefter’s cumulative background in photography (this is the duos first film).

Bill does things old school. He doesn’t rely on digital cameras; everything is done in film. To watch him go through his film is to take a step back in time, and I found myself almost yearning for a wax pencil with which to circle my chosen shots. Barely anyone in this film has anything bad to say about Bill, making this is less of a full-bodied picture of a man, and more of a film desperately trying to find out anything about perhaps the most private individual ever. Annette de la Renta says, “He catches you crossing a street with boots and blue jeans and this, and he’s so happy. And he’s much happier when you’re in this, looking terrible, and ratty, then he is if he saw you in something, incredibly elegant and smart.”

Not everyone loves him or knows him (there is one shot of him attempting to take a photo of a group on young high school black girls, who shout “Don’t take a picture of us! I’ll break that fucking camera over your head”, but the film is a bit of a love letter, especially with commentary from the Queen of the fashion world, Anna Wintour. “I think everyone who knows Bill, and understands who he is and what he represents, will always be thrilled to be photographed by Bill. I mean I have said many times that we all get dressed for Bill,” she notes.

The filmmakers wisely don’t limit their scope to Bill; his home, and the cast of characters surrounding him paint a picture of a world in fashion and art that is slowly fading, but still represented by some strong personalities. His friend Editta Sherman lived down the hall from him in the Carnegie Hall apartments and was rather famously covered in this New York Times article. In one scene, Editta, a photographer, shows off some of her shots, exclaiming, “See this is uh…you know who she is!” An off-camera voices asks, “Tilda Swinton?” Editta shouts “Yes! Swinton! Isn’t that nice?”

Bill is unique in that he does not consider himself a great photographer, but he does consider himself a great lover of fashion. I would argue that he is a great photographer, in that his compositional skills and ability to see something others would pass by are outstanding. He first started shooting when a friend of his gave him a camera and said, “use it like a pen. Like you take notes,” and it’s clear this mantra has never left him.

Bill’s changing surroundings and his documentation of them are an undercurrent throughout this entire celebration of his work. I would have imagined him to be intensely saddened by his move from his long-time Carnegie Hall apartment (it’s worth watching the film just for the footage of its size and how he utilizes it; it is miniscule, full of filecabinets with his photos, and holds no kitchen). His only comment about moving? “It’ll be an apartment with a kitchen and a bathroom. Who the hell wants a kitchen and a bathroom? Just more rooms to clean….I have more fun going out and photographing.”

Bill is aware of class hierarchy, but he doesn’t dwell on it, because looks are more important, no matter where you are from. At one point he runs into some “kids” who ask where their photo will be printed. When he answers The New York Times, he clarifies that “The Times has a little benefit page. It’s small stuff. Unimportant.” The young man says, “We’ve got to be in it. We’re pretty good looking people.” Bill says, “Yea. That’s what I thought.” His close relationship with Brooke Astor includes footage of him at her birthday party, describing her as “a rarity. She had such a human touch — a correctness about her. But not in a stuffed-shirt way. She immediately made people feel at ease. She believed, not in exclusion, but inclusion. We’re all the same, we all have the same problems, we all have family members that are…whatever the hell it is.” The camera cuts to her son Anthony Marshall, recently sentenced to prison time for embezzling from his mother, saying emotionally, “I’ve loved and admired my mother for more than three-quarters of a century. Let’s all toast to my mother, who was born, not only on the 30th of March, but in 1902, the 30th of March was Easter Day.”

Wealth is never to be taken too seriously, however. At a protest about the lack of clothing actually made in the Garment Industry in New York these days, Bill runs into Michael Kors, and admires his pea coat. “Get ready for the best part of the pea coat. Cashmere and neoprene,” Kors says. Bill laughingly responds, “Oh, too rich for me.” His love of fashion is juxtaposed lovingly with his intense frugality in a way I doubt many could uphold.

This film is not all celebration. I couldn’t escape the feeling of tranquility and melancholy wafting through it, despite the fact that I’m certain Bill wouldn’t have his life any other way, or perhaps he wouldn’t allow himself to even think of having it any other way. I won’t reveal too much about the most touching and personal part of the movie, a stark, one-on-one interview with Bill that covers his sexual orientation, family, feelings about religion, and lack of close relationships. The filmmakers allow long moments of silence speak more than actual conversation does. The one thing Bill will admit about his life is to say that perhaps he is in love with his work, as impossible as that sounds. Better yet, he almost proves no one else could pull it off but him.

The film opens at New York’s Film Forum today for a two week run.

Why Is The Charlie Sheen Situation So Funny? Oh Wait, It’s Not

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I don’t find Charlie Sheen interesting. I didn’t think it was interesting when he was going around hitting women, and I don’t think it’s interesting now that he’s going around talking and talking and talking and not stopping. Now I’m being told that it’s “news” that his obituary is being prepped by most media sources, but let me break it to you: this doesn’t indicate his potential demise, only our shocking acceptance about addiction. Once you reach a certain level of fame, infamy or notoriety, you definitely have an obit waiting for you in each of the biggest papers in the country. Most elderly individuals in the public eye have one that can be quickly edited and sent to print (this tactic has even been taken by The New York Times and spun off into a great recurring series “The Last Word”). In our fast-paced news culture, that list of old fogies now includes young(ish) celebrities with addiction problems.

Sure, Sheen is saying ridiculous things. But he’s only saying them because he’s sick and unhappy and upset, and by listing and laughing and making fun (which I believe we do partially out of discomfort with the reality of his possible demise), we’re feeding his lifestyle and glorifying it. For all the obsession we have with addiction (and curing it), it’s our very treatment of Sheen’s troubles that indicate he’s not much better than us. I’m not going to sit here and spout my opinion on what he wants, mostly because it’s quite clear that he fits the obvious addict archetype. But I will say that our focus on how badly he’s doing doesn’t magically reflect back at us and show how well we’re doing. It merely further substantiates the proof that at the end of the day, we’re all addicts. We’re not better than him — if anything, we’re worse — and instead of seeing a ridiculous person, we should see a very sick one.

So a plea to my dear and devoted friends: don’t send me anymore Charlie Sheen quotes with New Yorker cartoons, or Charlie Sheen memes, or Charlie Sheen anything. When he’s back in rehab and it’s successful (always a possibility) I’ll read about it and then go on with my day. It’s not that I don’t care; it’s that his story is an old one, one that I’ve read too many times and didn’t find that funny or unique to begin with.

Is Spotlight Hindering Charlie Sheen’s Addiction Recovery? [NPR]

Teach Me Things About My Health, NYTimes

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All of the following is courtesy of everyone’s oh-so-scientific publication. Once upon a time, I eagerly waited for the Science Section every Tuesday. This was a time before I was blogging and when I actually had brain cells. Also a time in which I read the paper in HARD COPY over BREAKFAST. So, very very long ago.

Some people get old after a lifetime of eating whatever they want, get away with it, and celebrate this in unusual ways. The authors mother describes herself as “a very naughty girl.” Mary Pyland, 92, of Abilene, TX makes “a caramel pie that was just about the best thing you ever put your lips around.”

My Unhealthy Diet? It Got Me This Far [NYT]

Eating Things Off The Floor
Dr. Roy M. Gulick, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College says that “The five-second rule probably should become the zero-second rule.”

Think it’s all the upholstery’s fault, and you’re safe because you never take the couches you desperately want to haul up your five-story walk-up off the street? FALSE.

“With both wood and tile, more than 99 percent of the bacteria were transferred nearly immediately, and there was no difference by the time of contact. Carpet transferred a smaller number of bacteria, again with no difference by contact time.”

The 5-Second Rule [NYT]

Not Being So Hard On Yourself
“People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic.”

Why? Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin says “that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”

What to do? “…Dr. Neff suggests a set of exercises — like writing yourself a letter of support, just as you might to a friend you are concerned about.”

Yeah, this isn’t going to happen. One time, it was April and I was about 11 and it would not stop raining. New York was the greyest, most dismal place in the world to live and I was so unhappy about it and actually beginning to develop SAD that I briefly renounced my atheism and love for said Science Times and started writing letters to God everyday, praying that he would stop the rain and make it sunny. I even put these letters behind this poem hanging on my wall because I thought that was the least sacrilegious place in my house and there might be a slightly greater chance that He would forget my transgression and help a pathetic, weather-obsessed child out. Moral of the story: letters don’t work. The weather just changes.

Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges [NYT]

Carlina White Takes Matters Into Her Own Goddamn Hands

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Earlier this week the New York Times told us of the happy reunion of a 23 year old woman with her birth parents from whom she had been kidnapped before she was a month old.
Growing up, Carlina White never felt like her mother really seemed like what a true mother should be, which at first (and yes, I am going to hell) sounds all “oh quit being so dramatic, Carlina.” I used to have the same thought when I was 9 and my parents wouldn’t let me have a second pack of gushers after dinner. But Carlina, unlike me, never let the feeling go, and just recently she managed to FIND her birth parents ONLINE after discovering an image of herself as an INFANT on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. WHAT.
Being a total sucker for these kinds of stories, I was underwhelmed by the level of detail the article provided.
How did her abductive mother treat her growing up? What are the motivations to abduct in the first place if you don’t treat your new daughter well?? Ooh OOH what was THE ABDUCTOR’S childhood like??? And what, exactly, happened ‘around Carlina’s 16th birthday’ that started to really tip her off????”
In all seriousness, the topic of child abduction is the horrifying and morbidly fascinating type of thing that people can never get enough of. Such a violation of the natural order, these stories are always devoured by the public and the press.
But abduction tales like Carlina’s are particuarly fascinating. (And so much more palatable than those tragic later-in-life abductions, too often involving tales of sexual abuse and brain washing.) Because, despite the whole illegal-abduction-of-a-human being factor, these abductions go on to look and feel exactly like an adoption. We read about these stories and can’t help but ask ourselves, wait, what if… I were secretly adopted*????
I read The Face on the Milk Carton probably a dozen times in my youth (and once, again during a particularly dull Could-Time-Be-Progressing-Any-More-Slowly Winter Break in college). So there’s Janey: being 15, just doin’ her own thing in the school cafeteria, when she sees (spoiler alert) HER OWN PICTURE on the side of a milk carton! This is prime story telling fodder! But particularly so, I believe, for adolescents. It’s a no-brainer why stories like these are dog-eared favorites in 4th grade classrooms everywhere.

We are told Carlina “long had suspicions about her past.” While we are told that Carlina was treated poorly growing up (which I’m guessing means more than Withheld Gushers), the questions listed that Carlina was asking herself over the years are questions many of us asked while growing up:  Do I relate to my family? Do I really BELONG here? Anywhere?
Struggling to establish a personal identity against the backdrop of so many conflicting influences can be one of the hardest parts of growing up. Reconciling what your parents expect, what the cool kids are doing, what your friends are doing, what TRL (sorry, let me be more current… the Kardashians?) and pop culture are telling you is the norm is a daunting task for anyone, particularly young girls. We can’t help but fantasize about some scenario that would reconcile everything, would make this super challenging process easier.
Clearly I could not be happier for Carlina. And perhaps we’ll find out more about what sort of a woman dressed up as a nurse, said kind words to Carlina’s mother, and then stole her infant only to raise the child unhappily. But probably, we won’t. And it’s not our business to, either. We have ABC Family to fulfill those kinds of needs, right Francesca?
But what I am most happy for and impressed by was Carlina’s ability to not let those scary questions she asked herself growing up to hold her back in the end. To do what she did (never second-guess her instincts, reach out to strangers, completely uproot her life, presumably change her name back, right?) took guts. If Carlina can do all that, it should make all of us believe in ourselves and our right to stand up for ourselves a little more. I guess now I have no excuse not to at least stand up for myself when some douchebag gets all up on ALL MY PERSONAL SPACE on the CTA. Yeah, my life is really hard.
*Speaking of me going to hell, for a year in elementary school I had convinced all my close friends that I, the lone redhead in a family of brunettes, was, in fact, adopted. Yeah. I love you, Mom & Dad!

The Best and Worst of the Best and Worst of the Year Lists

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It is officially the last day of the year 2010, whatever that means to you! Let’s refer to the next year as 2000 + 11. And now, the superlatives for best and worst of the best and worst end of the year lists:

The Daily Beast Award for Best Overall Horrible and Excessive Lists
We get it, your whole staff is on vacation. Write a fucking article. Half of them don’t even have bylines.

TV’s Most Uncomfortable Moments of the Year

14 Best Late Night TV Moments of the Year

Celebrities Who Age Backward

Most Memorable Kisses of the Year

In Memoriam: Celebrity Deaths of 2010

The 20 Smartest People Of 2010

Stars Who Became Felons

The Downers
The 10 Best Graphic Novels and Comics of 2010 [EW]
No one read these and no one will. Until next year.

2010’s Unsafe Skies [The Daily Beast]

Most Vapid
30 Sexiest Stars of 2010 [EW]
Are they sexier or less sexy than last year?!

2010 Obsessions: Year of the mistress [CNN]
“‘In society, one out of every two marriages ends in divorce and in some societies it seems like one out of every one,’ Glass said. ‘We want to see these marriages survive. You want to see a Sandra Bullock and a Jesse James who are so diverse succeed. When we don’t see that, it kind of makes us feel vulnerable.'”
Or we’re just bitchy gossips.

The Year’s 10 Biggest Celebrity Gossip Stories [Jezebel]

The New York Times Makes New York the Center of the Universe, as per the Usual
The 110 Things New Yorkers Talked About in 2010
“55. Oh, the irony: Gawker is hacked.”
Irony? Or justice?

The Best Way to Ruin My Night/Whole Year. WHISKEY SOURS FOR THE WIN
20 Worst Hangover Drinks [The Daily Beast]

The Serious
Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2010 [Wired]

The Not-So-Serious
The Top 10 Animal Photobombers Of 2010 [Buzzfeed]


2010’s Most Bizarre Reality TV Moment: What’s your pick? [EW]
Any of them?

The Best of the Best of the Year
Brian Williams for the win, every time.

The Best Fake Rumors of 2010
Gawker has a lot, see their header:

The Year In Mariah Carey [Jezebel]
Featuring excellent GIF’s like this one:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

What’s sad is that this list is not even close to comprehensive, just a smattering of what the internet has to offer. Did I miss any particularly poignant Best or Worst of lists?
And for your New Years Eve Party, check out this list of Memorable Songs Played on New Year’s Eve.

Maximum Sized Thelonious Monk Memorial Weblog Post Week 6

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1. Not only is Dana Perino hot, she might be smarter than we thought
She says that Palin’s message is mixed.

2. Glenn Gould on PBS’ American Masters
Genius Within: The Inner Life Of Glenn Gould” aired last night. I was born to the Goldberg Variations and am also somewhat related to Bach what uppp.

3. Musicians that died this year

4. DADT repealed, if you live under a rock
The NYT reports: “In the years since President Bill Clinton first enacted “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 1993, some 17,000 service members have been discharged under the policy.”

5. Beautiful cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River” by Fran Healy of Travis

Fran Healy covers Joni Mitchell

Remember this song? So good.

6. Larry David lets us know what tax cuts really mean
I may not be able to stomach Curb Your Enthusiasm, but this is a gem: “Life was good, and now it’s even better. Thank you, Republicans. And a special thank you to President Obama and the Democrats. I didn’t know you cared.”

7. Ricky Gervais explains why being an atheist is the best
I won’t even excerpt this, just read the whole thing. But don’t watch his movie The Invention of Lying. Also about God, it’s a little upsetting.

8. Another young person sails very far
Stop making me look bad, it’s embarrassing.
Teenage sailor on solo voyage reaches St. Maarten [SI]

9. The Original You’ve Got Mail
Both are amazing in that they are the definition of feel-good. Except The Shop Around the Corner doesn’t have Parker Posey or Dave Chappelle in some of the best roles of their lives.

Thelonious Monk Memorial Weblog Post Week 5

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1) Patti Smith Could Get No Cooler
I really like how she’s a huge fan of Law & Order: SVU.

The Unpredictable Patti Smith’s Favorite Cultural Moments of 2010 [NYMag]

2) Blake Edwards Dies
Really, really sad. Husband of Julie Andrews, he directed her in one of my favorite films, Victor/Victoria. He also directed and wrote the original Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers, not the bad ones with Steve Martin (sorry Steve).

3) A viral video of all the black people ever on Friends hits the web
The list (though I think it might be incomplete, I won’t bore you with my endless knowledge of trivial Friends Facts, or what I consider Fun Facts).

Jorge Luis Abreu – The One with the Birth Mother – The Waiter
John Eric Bentley – The One with the Blind Dates – Waiter #2
Mongo Brownlee – The One with Unagi – The Instructor
Sean Corvelle – The One with the Holiday Armadillo – The Salesman
Monique Edwards – The One with Christmas in Tulsa/The One with Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner – Claudia
Jonathan T. Floyd – The One with All the Candy – Gary
Jason Winston George – The One Where They’re Up All Night – Fireman
Ron Glass -The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance/The One Where Ross
Hugs Rachel – Russell
Joyce Guy – The One Where Rosita Dies – The Supervisor
Teck Holmes – The One with the Mugging – Jordan
Michelle Anne Johnson – The One with the Mugging – The Casting director
Cleo King – The One Where No One Proposes – Nurse Kitty
Phill Lewis – The One with the Lottery/The One with the Mugging/The One Where Rachel Goes Back to Work – Steve
Tembi Locke – The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel – Karin
Keith Pillow – The One with Rachel’s Dream – Customer #2
Ron Recasner – The One with Unagi – The Doctor
Dennis Singletary – The One with Joey’s Porsche – Guy #2
Tim Edward Rhoze – The One Where Joey Speaks French – Director
Michael D. Roberts – The One with Ross’ Library Book – The Head Librarian
Timothy Starks – The One with the Boob Job – The Handyman
Aisha Tyler – The One with the Soap Opera Party/The One with the Fertility Test/The One with the Donor/The One in Barbados: Part 2/The One in Barbados: Part 1/The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss/The One Where Ross Is Fine/The One Where Rachel’s Sister Babysits – Charlie Wheeler
Gabrielle Union – The One with the Cheap Wedding Dress – Kristen Lang
Janet Hubert-Whitten – The One Where Emma Cries – Ms. McKenna
Barry Wiggins – The One with the Holiday Armadillo – The Man

4) I went to see Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut at BAM Again
This ballet will probably always be my favorite. A modern adaptation of The Nutcracker, I first saw it at the age of four when our good family friend, Clarice Marshall, was the lead, Marie. I even dressed up as her for Halloween the following year. In the following video, which features clips of different performances of The Hard Nut, but a great deal of footage of Clarice in the original production, Morris explains how the holiday party scene at the beginning of the ballet is influenced largely by improvisation, which I feel largely explains why it is some of his best work.

His Company’s productions benefit hugely from the individual attention that all the dancers get; even those that are not leads have their moments, and he does amazing work with partnering. Something that has always set The Hard Nut apart from more traditional ballet is his use of both men and women in scenes that would historically feature only female dancers. While some might find it “gender bending”, Morris sees it differently: “The topic of the snowflakes and the flowers is an interesting one, because I guess because traditionally in most Nutcrackers, those are danced by women, because most women are more like flowers or snowflakes. And as far as I’m concerned, flowers have different genders, there’s a male and a female flower. Snowflakes I don’t believe have sexual characteristics of any kind, so what I wanted really, frankly, was a stage full of people, and my company is fifty percent men and fifty percent women, so if I want a big crowd of people, it can only be that big with everybody. And so that became a political, socio-political sort of thing, when in fact it’s just, bring on the snowflakes!”

5) Norman Rockwell, the Photographer?
I can’t wait to see this show at the Brooklyn Museum of all the behind-the-scenes pictures he used to paint his works. I love how he thought using photographs was cheating, but he did it anyway. When my dad was in art school, he never told anyone that Norman Rockwell was his favorite artist, for fear of being considered a sell-out. The point that “Rockwell must be rolling in his grave” at the thought of this show is definitely an apt one.

6) A few ways to experience Christmas
Not only has Wendall Jamieson written a very touching story about an important male role model, it really reminded me of my dad, right down to the details.
The Man Who Hated Christmas [NYT]

If you’re in the mood for something more upbeat, the Irish Repertory Theater in New York is putting on a reinvention of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas In Wales. The poem/story with very long sentences is a great way to be introduced to Thomas’ work in a more humorous manner. It also definitely helped me bridge the generation gap with my parents, as I was shocked to read that sometimes, people have relatives who get so drunk as to throw away presents in the fire as they try to burn up all the wrapping paper.

7) Kathleen Hanna Tells Us A Long Story About Kurt Cobain
And now we know how the most famous Nirvana song came about and what “us guys can do to help you feminists.” I also had no idea that there are strippers out there who dance to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, which sounds like a show to see. There’s so much goodness in this video, as well as being a really interesting cover; though I’ll always love this one.

Clean Up

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So there haven’t been many posts lately. I could make up some lame excuse, but basically I don’t have one, and I’m a bad liar even when you can’t see my face giving it all away.

You may have noticed that my brilliant friends have been popping up more and more around this parts. But it just didn’t seem fair that I got to get all this amazing street cred all to myself. So please, when that gets up and running in the next few days, check out what witty and hilarious things I had to say about them, or what they think about themselves, depending on the laziness factor, at the top of this page, under “Contributors” and “Mentionables.”

Also I was in the Times this month. Mothers, they always find a new way to embarrass their children. But UChicago thought it was worthwhile enough to retweet

What I particularly liked about this piece was the nature of the comments. As follows, the most uplifting thoughts:

Tough Love:
December 10, 2010 12:13 pm
Aww get over yourself! Show up, pay attention, and do your best. After that, it is just a crapshoot.

— BJ

The Depressing:
December 10, 2010 12:47 pm
I also went to the University of Chicago, and graduated with an honors degree. On graduating, I did exactly what your daughter is doing, and I unfortunately ended up in a job I grew to hate in a dead-end industry. Now, five years later, I’m going back to school to get the qualifications I need for a career in a field for which I have real passion. My point? Applying for colleges taught me to be good at applying for things. Having to face the realities of a bad job market and the lack of choice that entails taught me a lot more about myself and the things I truly value. I hope Kate has the degree of freedom the author suggests she will, but I’m guessing it won’t be quite that easy.

— Not so sure

The Really Depressing:
December 10, 2010 2:49 pm
We have 2 recent college grads in the family. Grad 2008 –magna cum laude, English major, several PR/journalism internships in hand — has cobbled together 3 part-time jobs and is still looking for a full-time-with-benefits position. Grad 2010 — Ivy grad in chem with honors — found a lab job that will cover his rent and not much more. Their friends are working a variety of jobs — cashier, waiter, temp secretary, etc. Not a career path in sight.

I fear for the kids who have tried to enter the workforce in the past two years. The entry level jobs that should have been open to them are gone, or are demanding 3-5 years experience (because employers can now get experienced people to take entry level positions). And when the economy finally recovers, I fear that these grads who have been making do in a terrible job environment will have potential employers wondering “Why did she work in Home Depot for three years?” and will pass them over for recent grads. A lost generation of employees…

Good luck to Kate. She will need it.

— lp

Corrections: A few weeks ago, one Cassandra Breckenridge wrote me an email, correcting some factual errors in what I assume was this post, as I have unfortunately not written about the Real Housewives since (this Camille/Kyle drama is really stressing me out. I want petty drama, not real hatred. Bravo, take note). She noted that Kim and Kyle, the ones who are half-sisters with Kathy Hilton, do not have the last name Hilton. Their last name is Richards, as Kathy’s was before she married. Cassandra, thank you for writing in. In my defense, in episode 1, Kim talked so much about Paris and being a Hilton that I think I was blinded by that connection.

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