One of the books I’m reading now begins with a youngish guy discovering a crate of forgotten documents in a used bookstore in rural Japan. The documents helped establish the historical record of Japanese experiments in biochemical warfare in WWII.
I dream about someday making a similar type of serendipitous discovery the way many women of my age dream about Clive Owen.
The vitrol in Moe’s writing and especially in the comments of this Jezebel post really surprise me. I started reading The Lost Girls this winter after they were mentioned in an article on open-jawed tickets in the Times and enjoyed stories of their adventures. Having taken courses in travel writing and service journalism and done some freelancing, I can testify that it is a deceptively challenging medium, especially if you’re writing real-time reviews with compromised technology and are doing a dual style of reporting and personal essays.
That they traveled like they did, gave back to the communities they visited through volunteering and wrote about their experiences in an engaging way is great. Is their style a little too girly for my tastes, and do they make more Sex and the City references than is really okay for 2008? Sure. But every creative type has to know her audience, and this style seems to be working pretty well for them. Your work will get read by a lot more people if it fits into a defined paradigm than if you try to reinvent journalism or be someone you aren’t. There’s nothing shameful or wrong with finding a niche you write well in and developing your skills in that context. Not everyone can be the next Hunter S. Thompson, nor should they try. There really is not anything wrong writing, making music, behaving or dressing like that most vilfied and despised segment of society: ”the mainstream.” Oprah isn’t a fascist dictator just because a lot of people do what she says, Black Kids can’t be "over" when only a few hundred people in America have ever seen them play, and it’s okay to admit that you’re jealous of the cute girl with the fun job who got to travel around the world instead of calling her a bitch.
I’m feeling sensitive about this topic because I’m on the verge of making a life change that involves a major financial commitment and a lot of X factors. It’s something I really want and that arguably needs to happen if I’m going to finish what I started with my degree, but it’s scary and a gamble and I’m getting nervous. With “Marketplace” playing ever more depressing news as I get dressed every morning, making this leap feels selfish and not entirely un-stupid. I’m prepared to make the sacrifices for it, and I’m prepared to explain it to people who really want to know why I’m doing it, but I know that I can’t control the future and that scares me.
So seeing all these commenters attack Holly for having the same concerns I’m having— balancing financial cost with personal gain, leaving friends and loved ones behind, how to responsibly visit and live in a foreign culture— has me icked out. It seems like a lot of us are wondering how to be our best selves, and sometimes we make mistakes or look back and want to change things. Some of us are better at it than others, some of don’t do it enough and some of us (*raises hand*) do it way too much. In my perfect world, a world where frat boys don’t write newspaper columns mocking rape victims, where men focus on treating women like partners in crime instead of prey to be snapped up, where the media stops perpeptuating a RACE OR GENDER? WHICH WILL IT BE, BITCHES? approach to the Democratic primaries, we would all just shut up for a little while. We would examine arguments on their merits and not confuse something we happen to not love for something that is inherently bad. What happened to Megan Meier is inherently bad. An article on how hard it is to start life over after taking a year off? Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t, no one died because of it.
Having not read the article they’re ripping apart I can’t comment on the specifics, but far be it for me to begrudge a writer for a women’s magazine who— GASP— makes money off of a lifestyle piece. She worked hard, made sacrifices, got lucky with a fun career and life experiences, but that doesn’t mean life is perfect. Life is never perfect, and exploring why not doesn’t make her a bitch, it makes her human.
And as always, if you don’t like something on the internet— all together, kids— don’t read it.
“We must realize that all traditions are ambivalent and that it is therefore necessary to be critical about all of them so as to be able to decide which tradition to maintain and which not.”—Jurgen Habermas
it's a catch-22! aw hell, he's gonna be there too!
If I watch full episodes of 30 Rock on NBC’s website because there is absolutely nothing besides Project Runway worth watching on regular TV, am I helping or hurting the writers?
On the one hand, my pageviews help line the pockets of the overlords at the Shinehardt Wig Corporation (or, um, NBC). But on the other hand, the very fact that they make money off my desperation validates the writers’ claim that there IS money to be made on web content and content re-broadcast online, and that there is at least one American who still craves witty, fresh and intelligent programming that does not involve portly homosexual gentlemen weeping while sewing.
“Liberal intellectuals, who have rather well-rationalized systems of political beliefs, tend to expect that the masses of people, whose actions at certain moments in history coincide with some of these beliefs, will share their convictions as a matter of conviction and principle. Intellectuals, moreover, suffer from a sense of isolation which they usually seek to surmount by finding ways of getting into rapport with the people, and they readily succumb to a tendency to sentimentalize the folk.”—Richard Hofstader, The Age of Reform
Having seen neither There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men, I keep thinking of them as one movie full of dirty dudes and over-emotive acting called There Will Be Old Men or No Country for Blood.
It never fails to shock me that when faced with a situation like this, many people’s first response is to defend the instigators and pick to death the people who find fault with them. Someone does something bad, another party calls them on it and that party is mercilessly dissected by trolls and a misguided need for a “balanced perspective.”
Who cares if people are making slightly awkward race analogies? Who cares if it’s Yale or Central Connecticut State? Who cares if the people calling out examples of jackassery are physically attractive or not, using perfect grammar, wealthy, of a certain race, of a certain gender? None of these tangential details at all changes what caused the ruckus in the first place.
Can’t we all just agree that it’s plain not okay for people to be assholes and then blame their bad behavior on not knowing any better? Am I reaching for the stars here?
I’m thinking about selling my car. Now that I live in NW, steps from a decent grocery store and a reliable bus line and the Metro, it really doesn’t make sense to have one. I’ve spent over two grand in the last year on insurance, repairs, gas and taxes. That’s money I don’t really have to spend on something I use a few times a month.
Have any of you privately sold a car in DC? How did you go about determining a price, advertising, making sure it was legal, keeping records for taxes? I would really love some advice. Please email me at ejtakeslife at gmail dot com if you have advice/warnings/stories.
Very interesting interview with the founder of Zingerman’s Deli in my hometown. Watching the Michigan sad-excuse-for-a-primary and seeing candidates stumble around the immensely complicated question of how to fix a state with a declining population, multiple dead industries and 7.2% unemployment rate despite one of the best state education systems in the country… well, it’s nice to know there are some thriving businesses there.
Especially businesses that make the best bread known to womankind. Give me a Farm Bread over a F-150 any day.
stolen from g's facebook, because i have too much work today. and yes, it was awesomely delicious
made squash ravioli from scratch last night with EJ. it wasn’t that hard, and it was really fun. here’s how you make it:
pasta dough (for any type of pasta) -5 cups of fine flour (preferably “tipo 00”, but i couldn’t find it at my ghetto safeway. i think it affects how thin you can get the pasta) -12 egg yolks, 6 whites
either make a “volcano” with the flour and put the “wet team” (as alton brown would say) in the middle and mix it up, or use a food processor until it gets “bread crumby”. start with just the yolks, and then add whites until it gets doughy enough. our original recipe called for no whites, but it was too floury without them.
once the mixture starts to look like bread crumbs, you have to really knead the shit out of it. it helps if you have a friend so you can take turns. you work it over until it’s smooth and no longer floury. then you put it in a bowl, cover it tightly with saran wrap, and put it in the fridge for a half-hour.
when you get it out, you need to get it really, really flat. we used a rolling pin, which is the old-school way to do it, but i now understand the benefits of a pasta machine (which i will be purchasing this week). once you get it exceedingly flat, you can cut it to make noodles, or you can make ravioli by plopping your filling (we made acorn squash with brown sugar, fennel seed, and sage) in a grid along one sheet of dough, sprinkling the sheet with water, and then plopping another sheet on top. you press the seams between the pockets of filling down tight (so there’s no excess air), and then you cut them up.
you’re supposed to boil fresh pasta for a shorter time than dry pasta. our recipie called for 3.5 minutes, but it wasn’t nearly enough. i like my pasta REALLY “al dente”, but i think the thickness of our dough required just a bit longer. we went just over 5, and ended up with a really nice product.
EJ suggested we use our excess sage to make a sauce. the sauce consisted of browned butter, pepper, and sage. brown the butter SLOWLY over medium low head until the bubbly foam goes away. sprinkle on a TINY bit of pepper (i was astonished at how little), and then sprinkle pieces of sage leaves into the butter. when your pasta is done, remove it from the broth/water with a slotted spoon, and then coat the pasta in the sage butter until they get just a little bit browned on the outside.
we then proceeded to eat this deliciousness while watching “crouching tiger, hidden dragon”, and drinking old scratch IPA, which went very well with the wintry/autumny flavors of the sage, fennel, and squash.
I started taking German lessons last fall, in the hope of having a decent enough proficiency to apply for some funding to study in Germany after I finish my masters. This will almost certainly not happen, in large part because I foolishly signed up for 9:00 AM Saturday morning classes. The brief era of responsibility and drive lasted about five weeks before, felled by a triple-play Friday night, I ultimately sucummbed to the inevitable and slept until 1:30 the next afternoon. Oops, mein Fehler.
Learning a new language is a painfully humbling experience for virtually everyone, but takes on a special level of torture for overly verbose souls like myself. I like words. I like big, messy words whose layered meanings ooze like cream squishing between layers of a Napoleon. I like double entendres, similies, metaphors, quips, uneccessary pop culture references, snobbishly quoting well-worn aphorisms and making groan-inducing puns. People who are learning new languages can’t do any of this stuff. They speak in simple, declarative sentences that convey the most minimal biographical information and their current likes and dislikes, “avoiding both the past and the present,” to quote David Sedaris, ”embracing the moment with a stoicism common to Buddhists and recently recovered alcoholics.”
"Mein Name ist Em! Ich lebe in Columbia Heights! Ich habe eine Katze, und ihr Name ist Sadie!"
But even if I never get it together enough to hold a conversation in German, I will always be glad that I came across this podcast in my studies. It’s a ostentiably a German language instruction course. In practice, it’s a German dude living in Switzerland who talks about his day in awesomely-accented English. It’s like reading his journal, but with the occasional vocabulary lesson. I’m not exactly learning a whole lot of German from it, but I adore his blustery, somewhat improvised approach to language instruction and his accent makes me giggle. When he had a cold, we learned how to describe a Swiss doctor’s waiting room (“das Wartezimmer”). When he broke up with his girlfriend and had to find a new apartment, we learned about the German distinction between apartments (“Wohnung”) and group houses (“Wohngemeinschaft,” which don’t necessarily have to have groups of people or be a house, just a place you live with a roommate with whom you do not have the sex [“Haben das Geschlecht”]).
It is a small, strange, delicious little pleasure to peep into other people’s lives. It’s why a lot of us blog, read one another’s blogs, offer comments on one another’s choices and actions. We all want to be unique and special snowflakes, but simultaneously want the comforting assurance that we are not alone and that we fit whatever definition of “normal” we’ve decided to use as a guide. Sitting on the bus this morning, my earbuds braying the voice of a German stranger describing the contents of his kitchen, I felt both very far away and very close to the people sitting around me and to the German podcaster alike. It’s an odd world we live in, that we ignore the people sitting next to us so that we can listen to strangers halfway across the world talk about themselves.
But then, the Man in the Grey Flannel suit sitting next to me probably can’t make me giggle just by describing a cheese course.
“However, Barack Obama is a muslim period. He should NOT be president, period and it disgusts me that there are people in America that would actually vote for him. My husband was in the military for 14 years sacrificing his family and life for this country. They say that the terrorists are working their way from the inside and Barack is a classic example. I researched about the whole Barack refusing to put his hand over his heart for the pledge, TRUE. His church that he belongs too, BLACK people only are allowed in. So, unless you want to raise your children under communism, I would do a little more research. Anyone can say they want to do this, or they want to do that, but like it was said, they do what the money wants…….”—