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Sometimes something bothers me but I can’t articulate exactly why. And then someone else comes along and articulates it for me and I want to give them the best high five that has ever happened (ignoring, for the moment, that I am truly terrible at high fives). This Man Repeller article was one of those times. All-female reboots bothered me for…some reason I couldn’t quite identify. I didn’t want to see Ghostbusters, despite everyone talking about it, partly because I didn’t watch it as a kid so I had no nostalgic connection to the story, but also partly because…something about the entire endeavour felt off to me. I just didn’t know what. And then, a few months ago, Haley Nahman told me what in “My Problem With Ghostbusters and the All-Female Reboot“. I particularly like the last paragraph:

But those felt different. They weren’t remakes with a new representation angle unilaterally applied and marketed, a gimmick that’s hard for me to swallow regardless of the group swapped in. I can’t shake the feeling that these reboots are sloppy seconds, plain and simple. That the driving force behind them is patronizing and rooted in money while parading as feminist liberation.

Let’s write new stories.

Read it. I mean it. Read it. And then let’s do it. Let’s write some new stories.

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I’ve always found that I favour difficult female characters. Honestly, I kind of want to be a difficult female. So you can imagine how much of a “duh” moment it was when I read this BBC article on anti-heroines and realized “I love anti-heroines!” Anti-heroines are not a brand new concept, but they do seem to be popping up with increasing frequency. Carrie Bradshaw, Olivia Pope, Alicia Florrick, Gretchen Cutler, Julia George, Hayes Morrison…these are the kinds of women that fascinate me the most on TV. While this article is by no means exhausted, it does provide an interesting framework to consider them within. It also makes the academic part of my brain really want to do research on this topic. If the idea of anti-heroines interests you even a little bit, I recommend you take a moment to read “These are the anti-heroines we’ve been waiting for“.

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan. I went to the NTLive broadcast of this play last week and it has been haunting me ever since. Achingly good.

 

Watching…

Off Camera with Sam Jones. I’ve just been watching this in bits and pieces while getting ready or eating lunch. Jones isn’t necessarily the most articulate interviewer, but there is something about his approach and the format of these interviews that gets subjects to open up in really interesting ways about their professions. I love that Jones kind of circles around similar questions with a lot of his guests. I am really fascinated by the ways artists and performers approach their crafts and how these differ or don’t differ between fields and individuals, and this si something these interviews really get into.

 

Listening…

Angela Hewitt’s newest recording of the Goldberg Variations. Recording a version of this is incredibly impressive. Recording a second version? I’m not sure I have a word for that. Hewitt is a phenomenal talent, and this recording is a total joy.

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It’s been a while since I posted one of these. Though I’m not sure all that many people are reading this blog anyway, so I figure if my screaming into the void is occasionally intermittent, it doesn’t really matter all that much.

This essay by Curtis Sittenfeld is so very well-written. And it is about precisely the kind of friendship that I hold most dear. The kind of friendship that endures across distance. The kind of friendship that greets most things with humour but lapses into gravity when necessary. Take a moment and read “My Friend Sam“. As usual, the first part quoted here. Click the link to go to the full essay.

If you’re trying to tell the story of a friendship, do you start when the two of you met? For Sam and me, that was in the late summer of 1996, after we became co-editors of the arts and entertainment section of our university’s student newspaper.

Do you start with the beginning of your friend’s life? Sam was born in 1976, in São Paulo, Brazil, the younger brother of two sisters, the son of parents who’d left Korea two years earlier and who, in 1991, would resettle in Torrance, California, just south of Los Angeles, and work as garment fusers.

Do you start with your friend’s personality? Sam has always been loyal and generous, neurotic and melodramatic, wickedly but unostentatiously smart, frank and funny and someone who makes the people around him feel funny, too, because he laughs frequently and hard.

Or do you start the story with the day everything changed? Which was in 2014, right around his thirty-eighth birthday, when Sam was given a diagnosis of Stage III-C stomach cancer. For the enviably uninitiated, about nine per cent of people who receive such a diagnosis are alive five years later.

[…KEEP READING…]

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Required Reading. This is what it is like to be a woman in this world. And it makes me angry. It should make you angry too. Read it: Marry Karr’s “The Crotchgrabber“.

I particularly appreciated these paragraphs, early in the essay:

“In case you haven’t been on the receiving end of this sort of assault, you should know the primal physiological response it evokes—in this woman, anyway. The stomach drops, as if you’ve been shoved backward from a skyscraper and are flailing through space. Time dismantles. There are more frames per second, and people’s facial features become very specific. This guy had a squashed-down forehead, wide-set eyes, and heavy but neatly waxed brows.

Cops later told me my description was uncannily detailed—the result, I think, of the kind of change in perception post-traumatic-stress experts call “hypervigilance.” The reptilian area of the brain jolts you either to do battle or to bolt. Adrenaline and cortisol juice through you like a hit of meth, so you might find yourself still up and jittery at 4 a.m. (maybe even watching something as god-awful as “Waterworld,” the way I later did).”

Read the whole piece here.

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

Carl Jung. It’s for the thesis, but I am finding it far more lucid than I recall it being last time I picked his work up in undergrad. This may simply be because a lot of the other things I’ve been reading have managed to give me headaches after only a sentence or two.

 

Watching…

Season 2 of You’re the Worst. I know I wrote about this one in last week’s post, but season 2 deserves its own shout out. This season has the most compelling and realistic portrayal of clinical depression I think I have ever encountered on television. The writers knocked this one out of the park and Aya Cash turns in a truly powerful performance that knocked the wind out of me more than once.

 

Listening…

I’m still on a “songs you could have found on a diner jukebox” kick. Latest addition to the rotation is John Lee Hooker. Blues done right.

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I cannot begin to count the number of times someone has tried to sell me on meditation as a way to deal with anxiety. This concept is laughable to me. Like, I literally burst into laughter most times it is suggested to me. I know it works for many people. I know it is a practice, and therefore I might need to, you know, practice if I want it to be useful down the road. But, honestly, right now, at this point in my life, meditation does sort of the opposite of what it is supposed to. As I once told a dear friend, “Yes, because what I need is more time alone with my thoughts.” So when I came across Casey Johnston’s “A Guided Meditation for the Anxious Mind“, I couldn’t stop laughing. Welcome to the inside of my brain.

Welcome to your Buddha Buddy five-minute guided meditation. During this practice, we will focus on your body and breathing awareness, in an attempt to soothe the mind. Find a comfortable seated position somewhere in nature. Now close your eyes and take a deep breath. Picture your front door. Did you lock it when you left? Even if you did . . . well, we can’t guarantee anything.

As you let your breathing settle into a steady pattern—eyes closed, arms at rest, palms face up—ask yourself, is that a pain in your forearm? You haven’t even done anything yet today. How can your forearm hurt, when there are hardly any muscles in there? Resist the urge to poke it. If you poke it, the pain won’t go away, and it might even get a little worse. Yes, it does feel worse. Do blood clots cause pain?

Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let it out—slowly, very slowly—through your mouth. Draw another breath in, and feel your belly fill with air. Your pants are awfully tight. You haven’t been to the gym in several days. Has it been two weeks already? It seems like you’ve been extra bloated after your last three Seamless orders from the Thai place downstairs. Food poisoning can cause bloat, can’t it? On your next inhale, fill your belly just a little bit less. Stop at, like, eighty per cent full. Maybe not just when you’re breathing, but when you’re eating, too. Just a thought. Now let it go.

[…KEEP READING…]

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself by Jen Kirkman. I’ve been on a personal essay collection kick lately, and I picked this one up because I enjoy Kirkman’s standup. It is less comedic than I expected. That’s not to say that it isn’t darkly funny. It’s funny in the way that I am often funny: through self-effacement and a recognition of both the absurdity and the disastrousness of life. I’ve been most struck, though, by Kirkman’s brutal honesty. It’s a resonating book for me, even though I’m not in the same life space she is, and sometimes those are the most gratifying resonances to find.

 

Watching…

You’re the Worst. I don’t know what it says about me that I find the deeply fucked up relationships between deeply damaged people in this show almost endearing, but it makes for compelling television. Season two drops on Shomi today, and I am so stoked.

 

Listening…

The Next to Normal soundtrack. On loop. I don’t think the angst of this show will ever stop resonating with me. Bonus points for these videos of recording sessions. For some reason, I really love watching recording sessions for musicals.

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I shared his piece in Stanford Medicine, “Before I go,” several months ago. I suggest you read it now if you haven’t already. When Breath Becomes Air is just as moving as I expected it to be, but I was surprised by the genuine lyricism of his writing. I’m only about halfway through, and I’ve already been brought to tears multiple times. It’s the kind of book that I struggle to put down. It’s the kind of book I know I will read over and over, returning to it for guidance and challenge.

 

Watching…

Hawaii Five-0. The remake. It’s gooooood.

 

Listening…

I’ve been on a major Chuck Berry kick lately. “You Never Can Tell” is a favourite of mine. And, no, the Pulp Fiction connection really has nothing to do with my love for the song.