Friday, March 30, 2007

This Thing is No Longer in Diapers



Friday's Cheers and Jeers from Daily Kos:

Democratic leaders in the House juggle hearings:

Let's see... I'll need room number two tomorrow for the Prosecutor scandal testimony.

Can't. Walter Reed scandal's in two. You'll have to use room number three.

But three's being used for the FBI illegal spying investigation. What about room one?

No good. That's for the Katrina hearings. Oh wait, never mind, that's Lieberman's committee...nothing scheduled there. You can have room one.

Hold up there, pard'ner. I reserved room one for the Valerie Plame scandal. Use room four.

Nah, four's taken. Investigation into bogus reasons for going to war.

Five? Nope. Torture scandal's in five.

Six? No can do. War profiteering scandal.

Seven? Nope. Subprime lending scandal.

Eight? Sorry. Abramoff scandal.

Nine? Booked. GSA scandal.

Ten? Nope. Boehner ethics scandal.

Boehner? Really?

Shook down a Girl Scout. Made off with 43 bucks and a case of thin mints.

How about room eleven?

That's the men's room. But it's wide open.

Fine. I'll take it.


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In other news, I am done with October Road. I couldn't get through the second episode. I love you, Bryan Greenberg (and you, too, Mr. Minkus), but Bryan, you do not have enough acting talent to carry a series, especially one this poorly written.

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Open memo to Joseph Gordon-Levitt:

Please do a movie that makes me laugh. 10 Things is one of my faves, but I've already seen it at least 20 times. This depressing Lookout, Shadowboxer, Brick indie oeuvre isn't doing it for me. I don't care what those Sundance people are telling you; bring back the funny. Don't make me have to get my fix from buying Seasons 2-6 of 3rd Rock.

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Finally, Daily Show, you are on notice. Mr. Stewart, hire some new writers and some funny correspondents I can relate to (John Hodgman, Larry Wilmore, and Rob Riggle: don't worry, you're all safe), because your show is this close to SNL country.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Desi isn't the guy from I Love Lucy?


Kal Penn, UPenn, Wait...what happened??

This IM conversation about Kal Penn that I found through Racialicious has been cracking me up all day. My favorite part is when NjDe$iQTpie complains that GujuHottiee120586 made her sit through The Namesake twice:

…so effing BORING. waaaah, my parents r immigrants, n im like sooo confused about who i am, i think ill date white girlz until i get wat i deserve from some desi bitch. then ill cry some more in some guava orchard b4 my arranged marrage with some chic in cheetah-print heelz who smokes which ill agree to bc now ive returnd to my rootz and shit after living with some widow n a bunch of lower cast peepz in the motherland…waaaaah


Hee! I love learning more about other diasporic cultures in America. I'm still not exactly sure what desi means, though. I know it's an adjective about being South Asian. If anyone would like to enlighten me, please feel free!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Thought It Was Just My Parents.


From Extras, “Episode 6: Patrick Stewart”:


Maggie, a career movie extra, enters her messy single apartment and checks her answering machine. She has one message:

"Hello, dear. It’s your daddy here. Um, with your mummy. Um, uh, nothing important--”

"Oh, give it to me. Hallo, dear. Great news about Andy. We're so pleased for him. And it just got us thinking that maybe you should try and do something with your life. I mean, your dad and I aren't expecting anything spectacular. We were just thinking maybe a wee job you could be proud of. You know, we love you so much. We hate to think of you growing old and being poor and living in squalor and dying a spinster. So just give us a call to put our minds at rest that you're not just frittering your life away. Would you? Okay? And if things get any worse, you can always come back home. We've still got your room."

"Well it's sort of my study now."

"We could easily squeeze in a tiny, wee single bed. All right then, give us a call, sweetheart. Bye for now."

"Bye, dear."

The message ends.

Maggie, now slumped on her couch, mercilessly beaten by this parental psychological onslaught, responds to the machine with a downtrodden, "Bye."

#

In other news, here are some articles, found via Racialicious and Feministing, that have intrigued me this week:

Kal Penn turns into a Professor. To teach at University of Pennsylvania.

Building an Old Girls' Club
, including links to High Power and High Heels, and Male Attorneys: Totally Victimized. Hee!

Also, check out, Women-Only Networking Events & The Law, if only for quality comments, like:

My father once said “Son, if there’s a sign on the door stating ‘Irish Need Not Apply’ that means you, so keep walking.” I feel the same about these women-pnly [sic] events and I don’t attend.

And:

...they don’t really welcome male participation and membership and they just say that so people won’t complain. The idea that these events marginalize women is a crock. These events are exclusionary and the exclusion is often premised on negative stereotypes about men.

Really? Apparently if women who work in the male-dominated arenas of business and law decide to get together to support each other, this is in some way discriminatory towards men. Yeah. Okay.

Here's another gem about including non-white people on the TV: Diversity Rewrites Prime-time Script, by A.J. Frutkin/Mediaweek.

...casting scripted and nonscripted shows is vastly different.

Scripted series demand talent from actors, whereas nonscripted programs often hinge more on personality from cast members. And when acting talent is removed from the casting mix, "you have the entire U.S. population to choose from," said Peter Golden, evp of talent and casting at CBS. White, black or otherwise, Golden said finding the right actor for the right role is a much more challenging process. "You're looking for people with the skill to deliver certain characters, and very often with the strength to carry an entire series on their backs," he said...


What exactly are Frutkin and Golden saying? That “ethnic” people don’t have talent, but they do have personality? And how do they explain the almost exclusively white casts on nonscripted shows like The Bachelor and Maui Fever? What a crock.

And then:

...CBS took enormous heat earlier this season for splitting the cast of Survivor: Cook Islands into four ethnic groups: African Americans, Asians, Caucasians and Latinos. But finding contestants to fill each of those teams forced the network's casting department to aggressively recruit within those ethnic communities.

Whether "grabbing people off the street," as Golden said, or advertising on ethnic Web sites, CBS helped establish recruitment policies that likely will be used to funnel diverse casts into other reality programs...


Yeah, CBS took deserved heat for their Separate but Equal Survivor: Race Wars edition last year, which yes, I did already write about. But I still remained shocked at the ineptitude of the people running casting for CBS. The population of Los Angeles is over 44% Latino, and the casting department needed to advertise on "ethnic Web sites" to recruit people? Now I know I have a problem finding black friends, but really. Is it that hard to find brown-skinned camera whores in Hollywood?

Finally, from Racialicious, Where da white women at? Details Magazine plays up on racial stereotypes, a response to the article, Meet the Mandingos, on the
Details blog.

Oh dear. And I thought Gay or Asian? was bad.

Friday, March 23, 2007

We Don't Need A New One.


From The Showbiz Show with David Spade, here is Jessi Klein's humorous take on the CW's latest series about "female empowerment" (whatever), Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll.

We don't need another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie either, Weinsteins.

My Kid Will Have My Hair.


At least, my biological kid will. And if she's a girl, how I look forward to the years of painful coiffure ahead of me and her.

My hair was and is the thickest conglomeration of kinky strands I have ever encountered. I bet my present and former hairstylists would say the same thing. The kicker is, I have an extremely sensitive scalp. Combing my hair in its natural state is a horror. And making it easier to comb by chemically straightening it burns my scalp, even if my parts are greased and the relaxer is mild. That's why since my junior year of college, I've kept my hair in braided extensions. I still get it straightened every so often to make it easier when I take the old braids out and get the new ones put it. Now that is a harsh trial. :(

Whenever I think of doing my future kid's hair, I get all worried. Then I think about something else, like teddy bears or ice cream. How am I supposed to do my kid's hair when I can't do my own hair? Then I came across this New York Times article via Racialicious: "I Have Taken On My Daughter's Hair And Won," by Randal C. Archibold. Mr. Archibold writes:

I’ve been doing Lyla’s hair since she has had enough hair to do, receiving my first lessons from my wife and subjecting Lyla to my continued training by my sister, mother-in-law and other female relatives. Combing and brushing and, most important, braiding her hair seemed another way to help out and participate in the joys of having a daughter.
I had never even thought about having my partner do my kid's hair. One, because when I imagine my kids, I've always thought that their hair would just be magically done all the time, without anyone doing it, like on TV. Two, since I haven't married the soon-to-be-lanced Elijah Wood yet, I'm not really confident that I'll be having these kids with a partner.

But after reading this article, now I'm having all these visions of my partner doing my kids' hair. Just like he'll be staying home with said children for their first year, until they go to daycare and preschool, etc. And he'll be happy to do it. I'm aiming high, because why shouldn't my partner take care of our kids? Hello, they're his, too. I'm not going to be the Primary Parent (scroll down for reference) just because I have the vagina. Our kids will know that both of their parents are equally responsible for them and equally capable of raising them.

My favorite part is where Mr. Archibold talks about his inspirations: his cousin's husband Kirk, and Brad Pitt, whose daughter Zahara has helped him empathize with "white people who might be having a little trouble with black-person hair." Mr. Pitt apparently endorsed Carol’s Daughter hair products in last October's issue of Esquire, which got him quoted in the Say What? column of Essence.

On the other side of dealing with a black daughter's hair, I also discovered this article via Racialicious: Black Baby is Born to White Pair.

A Park Avenue fertility clinic's blunder has left a family devastated - after a black baby was born to a Hispanic woman and her white husband, the couple charges in a lawsuit...

...Despite the alleged baby bungle, little Jessica was born healthy.

The Andrews, however, fear that because of the circumstances of her birth "she may be subjected to physical and emotional illness as a result of not being the same race as her parents and siblings," according to their suit.


According to the couple's attorney, Howard Stern (insert joke here), the baby doesn't look like them. Really? Because when I look at that photo and hear, "One of these things is not like the other," the voices in my head are talking about that confused looking white guy on the left.

Furthermore, his wife? Is not white. I don't know what the New York Post is talking about. Then again, do I ever? The woman is clearly a dark shade of Dominican. Even if the baby had been conceived with that man's sperm and that woman's egg, considering the mestizo history of the Dominican Republic, there is a good chance the baby would have come out brown anyway.

If this couple wanted a pure white baby, they should adopt one, or find an acceptable Aryan egg donor. And if after three years, these people still can't get over the fact that their daughter--this woman's biological child--will not "get lighter over time," then those people should give this child to a family who will love and appreciate her, regardless of the "abnormality" that is her dark skin. Angelina is always looking.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Radical Transparency?" Yeah, okay, Wired.


Insert eye roll here.

It all started as it usually does: I was reading Feministing. This article about the revolting cover of the latest issue of Vanity Fair caught my attention. As I was scrolling through the growing number of comments, I noticed one that suggested I "check out this month's Wired." So I did.

Here is the cover of the April 2007 edition of Wired magazine:

First part.

Second part.

Here is the article, which I did read before writing on anything on this matter: "What We Can Learn From The Office." If you click on the image to enlarge the words, you'll notice that Jenna/Pam has absolutely nothing to say in the article. Michael Scott is quoted extensively, as he is the star of the show. So why isn't Steve Carell posing naked in Wired with random white male hands sticking Post-Its on his body?

I am disappointed. In the same way that I was disappointed by this Vanity Fair cover from last year. Though I did enjoy Salon's astute commentary, "Topless bodies found in brainless magazine," about the issue's twisted compilation of photos. I am also disappointed in the same way whenever I watch almost anything on BET. Have y'all seen College Hill? Eek.

My reaction remains the same to whomever I am disappointed in at the moment: You can do better than this. If you have enough star power to headline a blockbuster movie or a critically-acclaimed hit television show, and you can therefore sell truckloads of magazines because your face is on the cover, YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO BE THE NAKED GIRL! Yes, I AM SHOUTING! I have yet to see a magazine cover with John Krasinski or BJ Novak posing partially nude. And somehow these guys can sell last month's Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair with only their faces and hands left bare. Yet many women of the same caliber are under the impression that they need to take off their clothes to move product.

I'm not saying that Jenna, or Scarlett or Keira for that matter, are bad people because they disrobed for magazine covers. I'm not saying those particular magazines are bad for continually putting semi-clad young women on their covers, while all of their male models are always fully clothed, older, and arguably less attractive. Because that is another post for another time.

I am saying that if you are encouraging others to "Rule the World"--like the placard covering your apparently naked body is ironically telling us to do--you, and your obvious talent, might be taken more seriously if you put your clothes back on.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Still Angry, Retroactively.

The other prisoners, by Luke Harding, The Guardian.
May 24, 2004.

Late [2003], [Amal Kadham Swadi], one of seven female lawyers now representing women detainees in Abu Ghraib, began to piece together a picture of systemic abuse and torture perpetrated by US guards against Iraqi women held in detention without charge. This was not only true of Abu Ghraib, she discovered, but was, as she put it, "happening all across Iraq".


Military Hides Cause of Women Soldiers' Deaths, by Marjorie Cohn, TruthOut.org.
January 30, 2006.

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This makes me angry.



The Women’s War, by Sara Corbett, New York Times Magazine.

If the link expires, you can also read the article here, and here, sans pictures.

A summary of the (not-so) shocking points, posted at Feministing:


...Holy shit, one-third of a nationwide sample of female veterans said they experienced rape or attempted rape during their service. Well, of course rape is rampant in a war zone based on humiliation, sexism, and blind submission to authority. (Hell, rape is rampant everywhere.)

Holy shit, female soldiers are more likely to be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, sometimes at twice the rate of male soldiers. Well, of course women exposed to the “double whammy,” as Patricia Resick calls it, of sexual trauma and exposure to combat are coming home with some serious mental health issues. Though the 160,000 female soldiers that have been deployed in Iraq often are in roles technically classified as “combat-support,” the violence of this war is ubiquitous. (There were just 7,500 females who served in Vietnam and 41,000 who served in the gulf war.)

Holy shit, the Department of Defense isn’t doing anything to support these women: of the 3,038 investigations of military sexual assault charges in 2004 and 2005, only 329 have resulted in a court-martial of the perpetrator.” Well, of course the government isn’t taking responsibility. Just like they’re not taking responsibility for the rampant brain injuries resulting from this new kind of warfare or the civilian casualties or the lies that got us into this war in the first place or the…you get the point...
And an excerpt from the article that resonated with me:

...There appears to have been little, too, in the way of female bonding in the war zone: most reported that they avoided friendships with other women during the deployment, in part because of the fact that there were fewer women to choose from and in part because of the ridicule that came with having a close friend. ''You're one of three things in the military - a bitch, a whore or a dyke,'' says Abbie Pickett, who is 24 and a combat-support specialist with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. ''As a female, you get classified pretty quickly.''

Many women mentioned being the subject of crass jokes told by male soldiers. Some said that they used sarcasm to deflect the attention but that privately the ridicule wore them down. Others described warding off sexual advances again and again. ''They basically assume that because you're a girl in the Army, you're obligated to have sex with them,'' Suzanne Swift told me at one point...


Read the entire article. It's long, but informative. I have my own observations to make about the article, but I'm too tired to post them all now. Though I will say, I sense a pattern of abuse emerging.

New Addition. No, Bobby Brown is not involved.


I am adding a new blog to the Sites I Like: Catherine Avril Morris' Of Course I Write Romance Novels. I've been there almost every day for the past two weeks, and she linked to my blog without my even knowing it. So. Go read it. I find Catherine humorous and endearing.

I still can't bring myself to add irwin's blog to my list, even though I've commented on almost all of his posts from the past two weeks. Maybe I'll get over the squickiness some day.

Look out for another New Addition soon. Lance Mannion may be next.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Having A Wonderfalls Weekend



I have been watching Wonderfalls all day. I woke up this morning and discovered the 13-hour Wonderfalls Windfall marathon on Logo. The theme song's sucky, but I really like the show. It reminded me of Dead Like Me, probably because the same person created both shows. And Heroes, which my friends say I should watch. But I've already missed the first 18 episodes. I didn't want to start watching last year because Milo Ventimiglia is a show-killer. And The Bedford Diaries sucked.

I don't know who the main stars are, but Tracie Thoms of Rent fame is the token black best friend, and Jewel Staite (best known to me from Flash Forward, but others know her from Firefly/Serenity) plays the cute bartender's wife who blew the bellboy on their honeymoon. Ew. That cute bartender needs to move on, no matter how much I like Jewel Staite. She needs to get a good project. The Tribe is not acceptable.

I'm guessing it's on Logo because the sister comes out as a lesbian in the first episode, then dates the UPS guy's ex-wife throughout the rest of the series. Or because the co-creators are both gay. I don't know. I'm just disappointed it doesn't seem to be coming on the Logo schedule again after today. Boo. :(

That is all for now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This is Bad News.


Bravo nabs popular TV Web site: Television Without Pity bought by cable station.

[Co-founders Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting] will remain as editors of TWOP, overseeing all content. Bravo execs said the site will maintain complete editorial independence, despite now being a tiny little division of General Electric.

I feel quite uneasy about this takeover. Having a multi-billion, multi-national corporation like GE owning a previously independent forum for speech and ideas sounds very, very wrong. How can we snark on the TWOP boards about 30 Rock riffing on NBC being owned by the Sheinhardt Wig Company when the boards we are snarking on are now owned by the very same company?

"If Television Without Pity didn't exist, we would have built it," said Bravo exec VP Jason Klarman, who's at the center of Bravo's online strategy.

Then why didn't you build it four years ago, when Queer Eye for The Straight Guy took off and pretty much made your network?

[Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick] said she wants the cabler and its Web sites to speak to people who, like many TWOP visitors, don't necessarily watch a lot of TV--but who get worked up over the shows they do watch.

"They have to get smart and rich by reading a lot, going to movies, going to school and having big jobs -- therefore they have less time to watch TV sometimes," she said. "But they seem to have infinite bandwidth, so to speak, to love television, talk about television and go places and spend time deeply with their kind of most essential core television connection."

Um (which is a word forbidden on the TWOP boards), doofus? I learned about TWOP from my fellow TV obsessed friend three years ago, when both of us were unemployed.

While searching for more news about this development, I stumbled upon this article in the LA Times: 'Real Housewives of Orange County' eye greener pastures.

I don't really care about the battles between those fame-whores in Coto de Caza and the cable television network they are contractually obligated to obey. What I am concerned about is the passage that appeared towards the bottom of the article:

"Internet blogs have blazed with crass and incendiary comments about their looks and their past and present personal behavior. After attorneys for one participant contacted Television Without Pity, the fan-based website shut down a "Housewives" thread. (Bloggers on the Orange County Register's website complained their negative comments were not published on Bravo's website in favor of more favorable ones.)"

So supposedly, "No massive changes are planned to the site in the near future," but TWOP coincidentally shut down the Housewives thread last month because people were speaking about negatively about the show. I thought maybe this was a temporary closure, as is done from time to time on the TWOP forums when discussions get overly heated. But no. The still locked Housewives thread states: "In response to concerns raised by various show participants' lawyers, we're no longer hosting a thread about the show. Don't start one." posted by Wing Chun (aka Tara Ariano), on "Feb 8, 2007 @ 1:58 pm."

This sucks.

In even creepier, more twisted news: Halliburton will move headquarters from Houston to Dubai. For those of you who aren't what the words "Halliburton," "Dubai," or "Houston" mean, please look them up, then tell me your take on this story. There are as many theories floating around as there are blogs on the interwebs. The Halliburton discussion is still going strong at Daily Kos.

This news is bad, but not at all shocking to anyone who owns a working television set: Black leads still absent from network dramas. And network comedies. And non-syndicated comedies on cable.

Here is the excuse given:

"There is a feeling that the vast majority of the audience is not black, and having a black lead dominating the show makes most viewers feel shut out since they don't work with an African-American in a dominant position in their daily life," TV historian Tim Brooks says.

Who is having this "feeling?"And can this person or persons back up that feeling with any statistics proving their racist theories?

Furthermore, this theory that "black people don't watch black dramas--therefore they fail" is ridiculous. Happy Hour and 'Til Death and 20 Good Years didn't fail because "white people don't watch white comedies." They failed because the shows sucked.

Lastly:

Latinos, who overtook blacks as the largest minority in the U.S. in 2003, have a good chance at landing their first drama series on commercial broadcast TV this year with CBS' untitled family drama pilot featuring an predominantly Latino cast, including leading man Jimmy Smits.

So let me get this straight. Latinos (all of them, regardless of their countries of origin) have been the majority minority in the United States for four years now. And they have chance of getting a drama on broadcast television for the first time ever. Over 35 million people in this country identify as "Hispanic or Latino," and this is the first drama series that they might get on the air? It's not definite, even though Jimmy Smits has starred in three of the biggest network television series in the past three decades?

Yes, I'm sure that they're aren't many black people or Latino people on primetime because black people and Latino people obviously never watch TV. I obviously don't. And don't get me started on the lack of Asian people anywhere in the media, and yeah, having Hiro on Heroes and that guy on Lost is great, but that's two people.

It's nice that these articles never question how many non-white people have Nielsen rating boxes in their households. I don't know anyone of any color with a box on their TV. The articles also never mention that most of the people in charge of writing, directing, greenlighting, producing, casting, and advertising on these television shows are straight white men. Not that the race, gender, ethnicity or orientation of the people who control corporate media would have anything to do with the type of people who are shown on our television screens. Clearly these issues are unrelated, so there's no need to bring them up.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Springing Forward.


Yes, I did forget to set all my clocks before I went to bed on Saturday night. But I did set them all after I woke up late on Sunday morning.

Did y'all see 30 Rock on Thursday? One: Anna Chlumsky as Liz Lemler, or, "Other Liz." I'm never sure of how to pronounce her last name, but I am glad she is working. She's not so bad at the writing thing, either, as evidence by her essay, Peaking at 10, found at Sirens Magazine, and in the book, Before the Mortgage.

Two: the episode was called, "The Fighting Irish," but I would have titled it, "The Black Donaghys." Hee!

Have any of you all seen Maxed Out? I learned about this movie on Pajiba, then I heard the director talking about it on Air America. It's a documentary about credit card companies and American debt. I'm hoping to see it soon.

Last night I watched The L Word, and I so identified with the control freak in Bette. My favorite character is still Alice, because she's funny. For those of you who haven't been watching the show...you should be watching the show! Rent the DVDs, or make a friend with someone who has Showtime. It's so dramatic. And, where else are you going to find this many strong women's roles on TV? Nowhere. Anyway, Bette is a perfectionist, and so am I. We have other things in common, like a half-sibling and a deceased father. That's about it, though. I've never dated anyone who was deaf. I've never hosted a dinner party with place cards for eleven of my friends. I don't have her stylish, expensive clothing, or her fabulous hair, or a cute baby (pictured above). Oh well. Some day.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Stuff that I Can't Stop Talking About: The Prep Edition.



Last weekend, during my trip to Albuquerque to visit my mother at one of her many nursing conferences, I read Prep, a novel by Curtis Sittenfeld. I certainly had a lot to say when I got to the end of the book, especially after perusing the "Reader's Guide," which included "A Conversation with Curtis Sittenfeld" and a list of ten "Reading Group Questions and Topics for Discussion." I'm guessing the Guide was less an insult to the reader's intelligence and more a opportunity for Ms. Sittenfeld to avoid invitations to speak at someone's book club.

I don't have the energy to repeat the caustic prose about Prep that I launched at any of my friends and associates who would listen to me this week. I like to call my interpretation of the book the Studio 60 effect. No, Aaron Sorkin was not involved. I mean that I was affected by the hype surrounding the book and the author before I actually read the material. I had owned the book for over a year, but I never had time to read it. But during that period, I did have time to read other shorter writings in the challenging world of Fiction Written by Women Authors. And, oh, what I learned about Curtis Sittenfeld.

Cutting to the chase, here is "Sophie's Choices", Ms. Sittenfeld's review of Melissa Bank's book The Wonder Spot:

"To suggest that another woman's ostensibly literary novel is chick lit feels catty, not unlike calling another woman a slut -- doesn't the term basically bring down all of us? And yet, with ''The Wonder Spot,'' it's hard to resist. A chronicle of the search for personal equilibrium and Mr. Right, Melissa Bank's novel is highly readable, sometimes funny and entirely unchallenging; you're not one iota smarter after finishing it. I'm as resistant as anyone else to the assumption that because a book's author is female and because that book's protagonist is a woman who actually cares about her own romantic future, the book must fall into the chick-lit genre. So it's not that I find Bank's topic lightweight; it's that Bank writes about it in a lightweight way."

The rest of the review only gets better from there. (Is better the right word?)

Here is how Jennifer Weiner, a prolific writer of "chick lit" (I hate that moniker even more than "chick flick") responded on her blog:

"...Curtis Sittenfeld’s quote-unquote review of THE WONDER SPOT – a nastier-than-it-needed-to-be takedown in which the book is dismissed as lightweight, inconsequential fluff -- is less about the book, or its author, than it is about Sittenfeld’s anxiety about how her own work has been perceived.

"Think about it. Sittenfeld's young, she’s educated (Stanford and that obligatory Iowa MFA), she taught English at St. Albans, published in all the right places (Salon, The New York Times) and was reviewed and profiled, or both, in all of them as well.

"But when her book went out into the world, was it perceived as high-minded literature, a la the Jonathans (Franzen, Safran Foer), or sparkling satire a la the Toms (Perrotta, Wolfe?)

"It was not."

Now that one definitely only gets better from there. I LOLed repeatedly.

My condensed take on the book? It was really long. The main character complained in her head a lot, but never did anything to change what she didn't like about her world. I like the It-Girl series better, even with its insidious brand-name dropping.

Additional stuff I can't stop talking about:

The Pajiba review of Black Snake Moan, by Dustin Rowles. What happened to the Christina of The Ice Storm and Now and Then? I miss her.

But White Possum Scream looks like a can't miss!

The last two episodes of 30 Rock: Capturing Obama before he strikes again? Osama in 2008? Oh, Jenna. And then came "The Source Awards." Wait till I tell Tupac about this.

I'd never had any interest in CSI:Miami until I spotted this series of clips on Defamer in which David Caruso displays his acting ability by repeated putting on a pair of sunglasses. I then watched the original seven-minute clip show of David Caruso's ridiculous cold open one-liners. Wow. Mr. Caruso is something. He actually made Jim Carrey look funny.

I tried to watch an episode of the show when I was in Albuquerque, beleaguered by the dearth of programming called hotel cable. But I couldn't get through more than 20 minutes of bad dialogue. So I won't be doing that again. Sorry, Rory Cochrane.

I have found yet another show on Logo that I enjoy: First Comes Love. From the website:

"Hosted by stand-up comedian Elvira Kurt and wedding planner extraordinaire, Fern Cohen, this series challenges about-to-be-married gay and lesbian couples to fulfill a long-held wish to have the wedding of their dreams. How will they express their love for each other? Will it be old-fashioned wedding bells or a brand new sense of style and tradition? Find out on First Comes Love."

Elvira Kurt makes me laugh. I saw her Comedy Central Presents special, and I was so thankful that my Mummy didn't raise me like hers did. My mother never crocheted me a back-to-school outfit. I would have pitched a fit if she had tried.

Note to readers of my blog (all three of you): Feel free to leave comments; I like discussion. Also, if you notice any typos, or have any questions about my grammar or syntax, please let me know. Thank you!

Friday, March 02, 2007

This makes me sad.


US soldier gets 100 years in prison for rape, murder of Iraqi girl, Yahoo! News

"A US soldier was sentenced Thursday to 100 years in prison for his role in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the slaying of her parents and younger sister.

"But under military law and following a plea bargain Sergeant Paul Cortez could be eligible for parole after 10 years."


Rape, Murder, and the American GI, by Robin Morgan, on AlterNet.


"The soldiers noticed [Abeer, the 14-year-old victim] at a checkpoint. They stalked her after one or more of them expressed his intention to rape her. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky mixed with a high-energy drink and practicing their golf swings, they changed into black civvies and burst into Abeer's home in Mahmoudiya, a town 50 miles south of Baghdad. They killed her mother Fikhriya, father Qassim, and five-year-old sister Hadeel with bullets to the forehead, and "took turns" raping Abeer. Finally, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and lit them on fire to destroy the evidence. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings.

"These details are from a sworn statement by Spc. James P. Barker, one of the accused along with Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pfc. Jesse Spielman, and Pfc. Bryan Howard; a fifth, Sgt. Anthony Yribe, is charged with failing to report the attack but not with having participated."


Next:


Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility, by Dana Priest and Anne Hull, The Washington Post.


"...the despair of Building 18 symbolizes a larger problem in Walter Reed's treatment of the wounded...Many agreed to be quoted by name; others said they feared Army retribution if they complained publicly.


"On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of 'Catch-22.' The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.


"Disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers fumble with simple needs: feeding soldiers' families who are close to poverty, replacing a uniform ripped off by medics in the desert sand or helping a brain-damaged soldier remember his next appointment.


"'We've done our duty. We fought the war. We came home wounded. Fine. But whoever the people are back here who are supposed to give us the easy transition should be doing it,' said Marine Sgt. Ryan Groves, 26, an amputee who lived at Walter Reed for 16 months. 'We don't know what to do. The people who are supposed to know don't have the answers. It's a nonstop process of stalling...'


"...Danny Soto, a national service officer for Disabled American Veterans who helps dozens of wounded service members each week at Walter Reed, said soldiers 'get awesome medical care and their lives are being saved,' but, 'Then they get into the administrative part of it and they are like, "You saved me for what?" The soldiers feel like they are not getting proper respect. This leads to anger.'"



And third:


Walter Reed patients told to keep quiet, by Kelly Kennedy, Army Times:


"Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.


"'Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,' one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.


"It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training."



I wish I could do something to stop this unnecessary despair called "war."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Studio 60 Effect: The Black Donnellys Edition


So, Studio 60's gone, thank goodness. I hope Steven Weber, Ed Asner, Nate Corddry, and Cal/Danny Concannon can find other shows where they can display their distinct, yet underused talent.

In the wake of Aaron Sorkin's overhyped trainwreck, NBC has given us Americans The Black Donnellys. I only taped this on Monday night because my friend told me it looked not so bad, and I had extra space on the video cassette. I would have recorded over it later this week without watching it, but I stumbled across this witty piece of writing: the Black Donnellys review over at Pajiba. The TV Whore writes:


As you have surely figured out by now (if you didn’t already know this from the endless NBC promos), Paul Haggis is the exec-producer of the series and the writer of the premiere. So you should already be able to figure out the show’s core: bad characters, worse dialogue, and clichés out the yin-yang. But you’re in for a real treat here, because at the show’s tasty center is a heaping pile of bad acting, overblown music, bad acting, flashy quick cuts, and, lest we forget, bad acting.

The acting wasn't that bad, but the writing certainly was. The music was heavy handed and often unnecessary. The worst part was the voiceover, coming from Joey Ice Cream, a locked-up friend of the Donnelly Brothers, who won't tell the coppers where his friends hid the bodies.


I had gotten temporarily excited because Tom Guiry, of Lassie, The Sandlot and We Were The Mulvaneys fame, was going to be on the show. Of course, I didn't know this until I read the Pajiba review. Good promotion, NBC. Sadly for me, Tom has not aged well, and his character in the show, Jimmy, is a profligate heroin(?) addict who can't stop finding trouble for himself. Additionally, Sean, the brother who's supposed to be cute enough to steal his brothers' girlfriends, is not as good-looking as Jonathan Tucker's Tommy, or their actually cute brother Kevin.

My biggest source of irritation is that the pilot episode, and therefore the premise of the entire series, is a ripoff of The Godfather. We the audience are supposed to sympathize with Tommy, the leader of the Donnelly family, because he committed every action in the show to protect his brothers. Except, his brothers brought the problems on themselves. His brothers gambled, lied, stole, then kidnapped and murdered a man to somehow rectify the first crimes. So, I'm not buying this latest excuse to show more disturbing, egregious acts of violence during primetime, masquerading as a dark family drama.


I still haven't seen Crash, but I coming to understand the Haggis hate. Any show that could make me long for the self-righteous whimsy of Studio 60 needs to take a hard look at itself.


Addendum: The LA Times review of the show. With a line like, "[The Black Donnellys]... is in a familiar-seeming if less tangible place — it might be Hell's Kitchen, but it feels like Scorsese's Creek," how could I resist? Read it while you can!