For Buzzfeed: The first edition of the Historical Feminist Roundtable
The self-explanatory If Critics Wrote About the Male Best Director Nominees the Same Way They Write About SELMA Director Ava Duvernay for McSweeney's Internet Tendency
A List for McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Security Questions for Single, Childless People
An essay on Ferguson, et al. The Boys I Know
An essay about memory, for Narratively.
"Pretty Close By," a First Person essay in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Twenty Line Trap, an academic-style paper for Dialogue Journal.
Snoodles, flash fiction up at Litro.
At Mud Season Review, my short story, The Buddhists.
My short story, DeSean, is at Kweli Journal.
We're still working on Spring here, in the Alleghenies. And I'm still finishing up my MFA! But the work is starting to dwindle -- ever just the slightest -- and I can see a time when I won't have a stack of students' papers to read before turning to my own interests in books, movies and so on. Here's what I've been enjoying when that pile is at an ebb...
Something to Watch: Does the phrase "They Alive, Dammit" mean anything to you? If so, you may also be a fan of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt now streaming on Netflix. I went in skeptically -- sorry, Ellie Kemper, but I wasn't a big fan -- but lured because of the Tina Fey/Robert Carlock credentials. Andrew said it would take a couple of episodes to get into it, but I was hooked in the first few minutes. Ellie Kemper is a comic genius! The show is sweet and funny and a little mean! Carol Kane is the best bat**** crazy New Yorker available on a small screen! Titus Welliver is hilarious! Oh, watch this show. It's ridiculous fun: Even the theme song is fantastic.
Something to Read: When people ask me what they should read lately, they almost always also ask, "Did you read The Girl on the Train? Is it good?" I did read it, and it was...ok. I turned all those pages rapidly, but I didn't love it how the structure manipulated readers. I'm far more likely to recommend either (for fiction) Glow by Ned Beauman, which I loved, and which I reviewed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here and which you can buy here or (for non-fiction) Michael Meyer's In Manchuria which you can buy here. Honestly compels me to admit that Michael is the professor of the class I'm taking this semester, so I picked up his book with a mild sense of obligation. But it was finished with regret since I was sad to see it end! I even read all of the notes. Michael spent three years living in Northeastern China in the village where his wife is from, among her family and friends. The book is jam-packed with historical research, interesting people and an insider's perspective that is simply otherwise unavailable. I must admit that I knew nothing about China -- or Asia -- or, for that matter, any world history beyond the UK's -- and certainly very little about how that part of the world lives today. After reading this book, I wanted to know more and stay engaged with news from the region because I felt like I knew people there.
Something to Listen to: I can't stop listening to the Rolling Stones' "Shine a Light." The perfect song for anticipating the end of something.
Something to Make: Hey, wanna come over later and make this?
Something to Read Online: More props for friends, but this is well worth your time and deserves a larger audience: My friend Robyn wrote a beautiful piece about Braddock, PA, a down-and-out-and-maybe-up-again town near Pittsburgh. It's in the Wilson Quarterly here. And hey, I wrote something for Buzzfeed this week!
To My Student, on the Death of Her Grandmother(s)
Please accept my sympathies on the death of your grandmother(s). How tragic that she inconveniently died right in the middle of Finals Week. It is particularly sad, and terrible luck, that she did so on the six-week anniversary of your other grandmother’s death, during midterms. Although you have never mentioned your grandmother(s) in any other context, up to and including when the class discussed Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying when you told us that you couldn’t “get into it” because death’s “not that big a deal,” I am sure that you are heartbroken, the way a normal human being would be at such a doubled loss.
With regards to your direct request, of course, I will be happy to accept your final project late, so long as you agree to the terms laid out in the contract below:
1) That you will bring me any two of the following:
a) A copy of your grandmother’s obituary from a newspaper
b) A bulletin from the funeral service for your grandmother
c) A videotape of the eulogy you said you needed to spend several days writing before delivering it at the service because you were, as you put it, “her favorite”
d) An audio recording of your singing of “Somewhere Out There (Theme from An American Tale)” at her funeral because she “loved Aaron Neville’s voice.”
(Please note that if you are unable to locate a copy of the video or audio recording of the funeral, you may perform these pieces during my office hours as a substitution. I will leave my door open.)
2) That you will follow a modified version of Victorian mourning, wearing full black clothing for the semester following this one, and then grey, purple or violet clothing for the semester after that.
3) That, again following Victorian mourning customs, you will remain chaste for one year after your second grandmother’s death.
4) That I may, at any time over the next two weeks, visit your home, sorority, workplace or gym in order to assess how you are “holding up” in the wake of your grandmother’s sad passing. This agreement extends to Saturday evenings after 10 and Sunday mornings before 11. Should I find you indulging in any behavior that I deem to be disrespectful to your grandmother(s)’ memory, I am authorized to perform the entirety of M’Lynn’s final monologue from Steel Magnolias, to remind you what real grief looks like.
5) That whenever we run into each other on campus, I am authorized to grip your shoulder and ask in a worried tone, “How are you?” and that you will, in turn, provide a lengthy and detailed explanation of how life has changed for you since you endured your grandmothers’ tragic death. You further agree that I may tell you one long, somewhat pointless story about my own beloved grandmother(s) and that at the end of said story, you will hug me while saying, “Thanks, Professor Reed. That really helps.” Upon parting, you agree to walk three paces, turn, and give me a thumbs up.
6) That should you try to claim a step-grandmother’s passing during a future midterms or finals week, up to and including your pursuit of a post-doctoral degree, lightening will immediately strike you down dead.
Given all of the above, I agree:
1) To buy your bullshit excuse.
Please sign and return.
Snow for days, here. Cold, too. You too? Yep, we need stuff to pass the time. So, here are my Thursday Things for 2/19!
Something to Read: I'm reading Forcing the Spring by Jo Becker. It's about the fight for marriage equality and covers the legal battles from the suit against Proposition 8 in California all the way to the Supreme Court. In another life, I would have been a lawyer, so I really enjoy the way the author covers the court case with just enough depth. It's not boring reading, but it is very focused on the suit itself. The testimonies presented are mind-blowing -- either people explaining how their horrible prejudice is justified or people explaining how others' horrible prejudice as harmed them.
Something to Read Online: This article on a typeface is captivating far beyond one might think a story about typeface could be. And made me miss London, too: The Gorgeous Typeface That Drove Men Mad.
Something to Make: This is the time of year when I simultaneously crave big, carb-y meals and light, refreshing greens. Compromises must be made. I'm loving these fried eggs crispy tortillas and greens from my go-to cooking bog, How Sweet Eats. Yum.
Something to Watch: I didn't like the book Death Comes to Pemberley, which was supposed to be a sequel to Pride & Prejudice. And also a murder-mystery. Yeah, didn't quite work, mostly because PD James, the author, didn't have an ear for Austen-like writing. But the miniseries, now on Netflix, is much better! There's a good cast and a spritely pace...and the lavish settings and costumes are a lot more convincing than the prose was.
Something to Listen to: I may have mentioned this before, but I'm finding a great deal of comfort in U2's "Song for Someone" off of their Songs of Innocence. It makes me sad that in all the to-do about that album (the one that Apple "forced" people to own or whatever), this song got lost. It's lovely.
Snow on snow on snow out there, y'all. Hope you're keeping warm. I'm spending a lot of time daydreaming about baseball coming back... only five more weeks until Spring Training! In the meantime, here are my picks for Thursday Things this week.
Something to Watch: I finally got around to seeing Boyhood, and I was...underwhelmed. The passage of time is a fascinating thing, though, so I've been thinking it might be time to watch the Up series of documentaries (more here) which have followed the lives of 14 British schoolchildren since 1964, when they were 7. I've heard that they are fascinating, and I think I might finally be ready to watch them without getting horrifically, overdramatically sad about aging.
Something to Read: I'm still plugging along on the Norman Rockwell book, but I can mention how excited I am to learn that Sarah Vowell's got a new book coming out this fall? Puts me in the mood to re-read Assassination Vacation, one of my very favorite books, ever. She looks at each of the presidential assassinations, or attempted assassinations, in the U.S., through travel, history and extremely dry humor. Love that book.
Something to Make: It is Super Bowl Sunday this weekend, or, as I like to think of it: Dip Sunday. I really want to try this one out, because it looks like it is both amazing and extraordinarily, memorably terrible for you: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Dip
Something to Read Online: I brought up this article in class this week, and it's worth a read. It's about the growing academic field studying hoarding. It's a great motivator to de-clutter.
Something to Listen to: I must be the last person in America to catch on to this artist, but, um, Sia? "Chandelier"? Stunning and haunting. Can't get it out of my head.
It's been a bad week. I'm currently typing this with a wad of gauze taped onto my thumb, since I sliced it open on my brand-new mandolin about an hour ago. That is not the worst thing that's happened this week, by far. Let's distract ourselves with culture, shall we?
Something to Read: I read Blood Will Out this week, which was on lots of "Best of 2014" lists, but I can't say I recommend it. Better, so far, is Deborah Soloman's American Mirror, a biography of Norman Rockwell. It's well-written and moves along at the kind of brisk pace I want in the childhood portion of a book about a person famous as an adult. I'll let you know what I thought of the entirety soon!
Something to Watch: I really enoyed Sarah Polley's documentary about her life, Stories We Tell. I think the press for it was overinvested in the idea that there's a "twist" about halfway through. Yes, there is, but anyone can see it coming. What I appreciated more was the clear-eyed way everyone in Polley's family is portrayed, and how she turns that gaze unflinchingly on herself too.
Something to Read Online: I have no shame, and am happy to pimp my own work when it's newly out! My short story, The Buddhists, is up at Mud Season Review.
Something to Make: I feel like eating healthy, lately. And I love kale, which still surprises me. If you agree, here are 12 Healthy Kale Salads.
Something to Listen to: I've been feeling very nostalgic lately, which means lots of John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot. Their songs remind me of my childhood, but I realized after a re-listen that "If You Could Read My Mind" by Lightfood is just a great song, nostalgic or not. It feels rich and sad and lived-in, which is pretty much how January 2015 is working out for me right now.
Back from holiday break to wish you a happy new year! I hope good things come your way in 2015, and that you are the cause of good things for others too.
I'm super-excited to give you my recommendations for this week (so excited that I, um, am a day late...whoopsie...), so here goes...
Something to Read: I read a ton of books over the holidays, so it's hard to choose just one. But I want to especially recommend Michael Hainey's After Visiting Friends. Hainey is a journalist by trade, and in this book, he turns his investigative skills towards trying to figure out the circumstances of his father's passing when he was a boy. It is absolutely riveting, one of those "Sit on the couch and read all day" books.
Something to Watch: In New York for the new year, I saw Selma with my friends. We were all blown away by it. I cannot recommend it more highly. I know that there's been some controvery over how LBJ is portrayed in the film, so if that concerns you, resolve to read a biography of him, but see this movie!
Something to Listen to: In a similar vein, I fell in love with the song "Glory" that closes the movie. It's by Common (who's in the film) and John Legend. Neither was an artist I felt particularly interested in, but I've been playing this song every day since hearing it -- it's majestic and inspiring. (And references my favorite hymn of all time, as does the film).
Something to Read Online: This essay from Narratively, The Night My Fiance Died is pretty upsetting, but well worth a read.
Something to Make: I had forgotten the trick of making oatmeal overnight in your crockpot, so that you wake up to the yummy smell of it all cooked and ready to eat. Then, after too many disspiriting mornings with instant oatmeal packets, I remembered. Life is good. Here's how.
How to Watch Love Actually
December is an angst-filled month. As if worrying about family get-togethers and fretting over gifts weren't enough, we must all face the most difficult question of all: Should we, or should we not, watch Love Actually this holiday season?
It's a tough call. On one hand, young(ish) Liam Neeson! Emma Thompson causing all the feels! That scene where Hugh Grant gets caught shaking his booty by an employee! On the other hand, the entire Laura Linney subplot, which is so much of a downer, we may not even feel like watching the rest of the film. Glad tidings, though, my friends: Herein, I present my indisputable, timed-to-the-second guide on how to watch Love Actually.
You’ll want to prepare your viewing area: cuddly blanket, chocolate, popcorn. Glass of wine if you like. Snow falling gently on the pine trees outside, if possible. Make sure there’s a clock nearby, or use your phone. Cue up Netflix, noticing that Netflix says this film is a “charming treatise on romance.” Hmm. “Charming” yes. “Treatise,” no. Hit play. Start timing.
00 Minutes: Let our Anglophile hearts swell at the Working Title card. Hail, Britannia!
01 Minutes: The people hugging at the airports! They’re the best! Director and screenwriter Richard Curtiss says that they filmed real people arriving and departing Heathrow and then got their permission to use the footage in the film.
01:30 Minutes: Hugh Grant starts telling us about how love, actually, is all around. He evokes the Twin Towers. I am already crying. Pass the tissues.
02:00 Bill Nighy, National Treasure. I feel fairly sure that the recording engineer to the left of Joe is Michael Stipe.
04:00 Myriad of shots of London at Christmastime. Sorry, can’t finish writing this, must hop on a plane to London.
04:00 Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor appear in the credits, pretty far down, years before “The Walking Dead” and Twelve Years a Slave. Let us take a moment to be pleased at ourselves for recognizing their talents early.
04:15 Ohhh, Colin Firth. Things are going to go bad here. But we can persevere because we remember the ending to his tale.
05:00 Oooh, young(ish) Liam Neeson. That gray sweater. That rumpled hair.
05:15 Emma Thompson! Notice that the first thing she does is put off grieving Liam Neeson because eh, emotions. That’ll come back to haunt you, Emma.
05:45 British people saying “lobster” back and forth to each other. Cutest thing ever.
06:00 Here’s where you can check out for the first time, unless you really enjoy the subplot of Creepy Colin, the not-as-funny-as-he-thinks young British guy trying to get laid. You’ll miss meeting Mia, the woman who seduces Alan Rickman, but we all know how that ends. Skip.
06:30 Martin Freeman, who I will refer to as Bilbo Watson for the rest of this article, begins his porn-based plot. I don’t mind this one so much, because I like young Bilbo Watson, but some find this excruciating to watch.
07:00 The Andrew Lincoln subplot begins with Kiera Knightley’s entrance. It’s ok for now, but the rest of the plot goes downhill.
08:00 It’s interesting that both Terence and Pat, members of the Prime Minister’s staff, get screen time. Then never appear again. Huh.
09:00 Rightly declared to be many peoples’ favorite scene in the movie. Please do appreciate that the choir points to the just-married couple as they sing “Love, love, love.” Yeah, we get it. They are in love.
11:00 Colin Firth’s brother and wife break his heart. Fast forward! Fast forward!
12:00 Actually, just keep fast forwarding. Creepy Colin is on the prowl in this wedding reception scene AND we get the first shot of Laura Linney on the phone to her brother. I feel sad.
14:00 If you are skipping Bilbo Watson, keep fast forwarding. Otherwise, welcome back.
15:00 Liam’s wife’s funeral. Skip if you’re mourning someone this holiday season. Although: Sam! And I must say that the shots of Liam Neeson reacting to the Bay City Rollers is a beautiful moment of acting.
18:00 Alan Rickman! And the beginning of his skeevy subplot with Mia. And the beginning of the Laura Linney/Karl subplot. I love you, Alan Rickman and Laura Linney, but this I cannot watch. Let’s go pee.
20:00 Back to Bill Nighy! Love this scene. “Is that an important message to you, Bill?” “Not really, Mike.”
22:00 Hugh! These scenes are absurd, but delightful, as if “Scandal” was a romantic comedy.
24:00 Bilbo Watson skippers, skip.
24:30 Creepy Colin. SKIP. This subplot would bother me a lot less if there was a female equivalence in the film. Wait, come to think of it, how often are women the protagonists in these subplots? Are there any female protagonists in this film? Or do they all merely react to what their men do? Oh, this is a rabbit hole. We shouldn’t go down there.
25:00 Alan Rickman and Mia. Keep skipping. (Although yay for Alan Rickman saying “guacamole.”) [[Aside, in case you do want to watchthis scene: The actress playing Mia rarely blinks. Weird.]]
26:00 Come back, it’s Liam and Emma!
28:00 Second scene where Emma tells Liam to buck up and stop crying. Karma is a bitch, Emma.
29:30 Laura Linney at work. Inexplicably focusing on her eyebrows in her makeup reapplication. Skip.
30:00 Colin Firth. In France. In a Pinterest-worthy cottage. Life is good. Not for him, but you know, for us, watching.
31:00 Why isn’t the woman who played Natalie an international star? She’s so charming.
33:00 “Of course you did, you saucy minx.”
33:30 Liam and Sam! This is the heart of the movie, here, the good scenes. It trucks along so well.
34:00 I bet Bill Nighy is just a hoot to work with.
35:00 The gallery scene with Andrew Lincoln. The problem with this subplot is that once we know the big reveal at the end of it, it’s so clear that it was written to mislead us. Skip.
36:00 Alan and Laura and Mia. Skip.
37:00 Colin! I just noticed that Colin’s character’s last name is “Bennett.” Nice Pride and Prejudice shout-out!
39:30 Billy Bob Thorton – holy shit, remember Billy Bob Thorton?! – arrives. I do not care for this subplot within a subplot. It really bugs me that Hugh doesn’t just punch him out instead of using the international diplomatic stage to one up the president. Skip.
42:00 Or, better yet, let *Natalie* punch out Billy Bob. Yes, this would be unrealistic, but this film is not Bowling for Columbine.
42:30 Boy, this film just grinds to a halt for Billy Bob’s appearance, no?
44:00 We find out that Emma and Hugh are siblings! And that Emma and Alan Rickman are married. She’s played each of their romantic interests in other films, by the way. This is Exhibit A in my theory that there are only 25 working actors in England.
45:00 Hugh + Pointer Sisters = 4Eva. This scene does not age for me. I am as delighted seeing it now, 30 times later, as I was in the theatre for the first time.
46:00 Since we already met staffers Pat and Terence, either one would have been the better choice to catch Hugh at the end.
46:30 Colin! Aurelia! See how good this film is in this middle bit? It’s like Laura Linney never even existed! We’re so happy!
49:00 These scenes are silly – they can’t understand what the other is saying, but talk as if they can – but they’re still so charming, almost moving.
51:00 Andrew Lincoln. How yucky is it that what he loves about Kiera Knightley is her face, not her words, or personality, or… you know what? SKIP.
56:00 I miss Colin and Liam. Oh my God, Liam, you guys! How long has it been since we saw Liam?
57:00 Hugh! The infamous “chubby girl” scene. I don’t know how I feel about the fact that a woman says this about another woman. “Huge thighs.” Actually, I do know: I don’t like it. Right?
58:00 Wait, why can’t Hugh and Natalie be together? It really doesn’t seem like he has all that much to do, to be honest.
58:30 Liam! Oh, thank God.
59:00 Titanic, for those who feel that Richard Curtis should have cast Kate Winslet.
1:00 Another wasted opportunity for Pat to get more screen time.
1:02:30 I totally understand that this is a movie, but I still, in my heart, believe that Colin Firth married Aurelia and they live together in Portugal.
1:03:00 Bill Nighy! And perhaps the last time a parody of Robert Palmer‘s “Addicted to Love” video was relevant.
1:03:30 Sam’s libido blossoms into maturity.
1:04:00 Laura Linney. Just now realizing that we’re an hour into this film and we still do not know whom she’s talking to when she’s on the phone. Here, she just places a Christmas tree in the office. Acceptable.
1:04:15 Alan Rickman’s office Christmas party. I can’t bear to watch this at all. At all. See you in a few.
1:05:00 WTF with the devil horns, Mia? (Glimpsed while fast forwarding.)
1:05:30 Brief interlude with Hugh watching Bill on the telly. See? The Prime Minister doesn’t do that much.
1:07:00 If you want to see some of Laura Linney’s romance with Karl, you may watch this scene. I can’t bear it.
1:07:15 #norahjones #rememberher?
1:08:00 Why hasn’t Karl made a move before now? Everyone keeps yelling at Laura Linney, but it’s not like he’s been putting himself out there.
1:09:00 It’s that moment when Laura Linney silently screams with joy that makes me unable to watch this section without covering my eyes.
1:11:30 There’s a lot of debate about whether Karl is a jerk. I just want to point out that she gives him no explanation and tells her brother “No, I’m not busy.” Um, yes, I would walk out on that. Yikes.
1:12:00 Unbearable. This subplot is so out of place in what should be a relatively light Christmas film in which things generally work out.
1:13:00 Welcome back! Emma and Alan: A very fine acting moment. “Mia’s very pretty.”
1:14:30 Laura Linney’s brother. SKIP SKIP SKIP. I know this makes me sound like a person who doesn’t care about mentally ill people. I just want to say that I do care, quite a bit, actually. (Ahem). But this is not the right movie for this subplot to be in.
1:16:00 Incredibly creepy Mia/Alan Rickman scene. Skip.
1:17:00 That he leaves and calls her and then meets up with Emma is just the worst, right?
1:17:30 Followed by the Rowan Atkinson scene. I do not hate Rowan Atkinson, nor would I advocate that you hate Rowan Atkinson. But this entire bit does not belong in this movie. I feel like it was written on the day that Richard Curtis had an encounter with an annoying salesclerk and this is his revenge for all eternity.
1:20:00 See? That scene was three minutes long! And you can just keep on skipping because we’re back with Creepy Colin, whom I bet you entirely forgot was in this movie.
1:21:00 Bilbo Watson! Also forgot you were in this film! Wait, this sex flick you’re in has been shooting for over four weeks now. That seems…off.
1:22:00 Alan and Emma and the Package.
1:22:30 Colin learning Portuguese. Unlikely, but we’ll allow it.
1:23:00 #JoniMitchell #AlthoughEmmaDoesNotYetKnow
1:23:30 Oh, go away, Creepy Colin. Skip.
1:24:00 A young(er) January Jones! But not worth watching this scene to see. It’s so sexist and self-satisfied and dreadful.
1:27:00 And one of the worst sequences in the movie is followed by what is almost unanimously hailed to be the best: Emma Thompson receives some karma in the form of a #JoniMitchell CD. All hail. [Ignore the brief Mia interlude, pointless overstatement that it is].
1:28:00 The worst part is that Emma still has to take the kids to the pageant. I feel so badly for her every time I watch this. The sheer will it takes.
1:29:00 Why isn’t Emma Thompson in every movie?
1:31:00 Liam! You’re back!
1:32:00 The soon-to-be-meta Claudia Schiffer joke – does it work? Discuss.
1:33:00 Bilbo Watson wraps up the sweetest and most predictable subplot of the film. And his new girlfriend delivers the line – “All I want for Christmas is you.” – that I suspect was at one time in every plot thread but only survived, oddly, here.
1:34:00 “I hate Uncle Jamie!”
1:35:00 Laura Linney, Karl, I leave you to your deserved fates for being people who won’t just talk things out. Skip.
1:36:00 Completely ludicrous Christmas card scene. They’ve been opened! Why would some 10 Downing Street staffer read and then pass along Natalie’s personal message without comment!?
1:37:30 Another terrifying Andrew Lincoln sequence. “Say it’s carol singers” could be the tagline to a horror movie.
1:38:00 “With any luck, by next year, I’ll be…” starring in an American television series about zombies?
1:38:45 Kiera Knightley does a lot with a severely underwritten character.
1:39:00 “Enough.” Ok, good. “Enough for now.” Wait, wha?
1:39:00 Aw, it turns out that Bill Nighy had an emotional conflict throughout his subplot and now it’s resolved!
1:41:00 It’s even the third card Hugh opens! #moviecliche On the other hand, this subplot, and the finale of the movie, now get kicked into high gear! Hold on to your tissues!
1:41:30 I guess Natalie’s card, in which she tells Hugh she loves him, is as close to the movie gets for having a female protagonist. We’ll take it.
1:41:45 More opportunities to include Pat and Terence, wasted.
1:43:00 Oh, I love these girls. Love the singing bodyguard too. Hugh’s reaction to his voice is just about my favorite thing ever.
1:44:00 See ya, Mia.
1:45:00 No, my favorite thing ever is how Natalie’s mum immediately starts calling Hugh by his first name.
1:46:00 “Eight is a lot of legs, David.”
1:47:00 Yes, this is the most satisfying subplot in the film, because both people are trying to get together. One is not just beautifully standing around being adored.
1:48:30 You go get her, Colin! And thank you for not being part of the school pageant plot line!
1:49:00 I love how happy Emma is to see Hugh here. Even if he is not there for her in any way.
1:50:00 I’m surprised a rendition of “Catch a Falling Star” hasn’t become part of the traditional Christmas pageant thanks to this film.
1:51:00 Yay! It’s time for “All I Want for Christmas!”
1:51:30 Richard Curtis said they roughed up this kid’s voice in post-production because it sounded too good. She’s still amazing. I totally believe that the entire school would organize itself to give her a starring role in a big number.
1:53:00 If I were backstage during this song, I would be completely weak-kneed. I would not hesitate to kiss Hugh Grant, or Emma Thompson, or Alan Rickman, or even Creepy Colin. I would kiss Pat. I would kiss Colin Firth’s landlady.
1:55:00 And the last great Emma Thompson scene in this film. This performance is flawless. And some great work from Alan Rickman too.
1:57:00 The payoff of the meta Claudia Schiffer joke…does not…quite…pay off.
1:58:00 Yes, it is absurd that Colin Firth would fly to Portugal to find Aurelia and ask her to marry him. Yes, it reduces her to a woman waiting around to be rescued. Yes, we all still cry with delight every time because they do seem so right for each other.
1:58:30 I’m so happy that we don’t have to skip anything now!
2:01:00 I’ve been through Heathrow many times. Sam is really lucky she wasn’t even further away. That airport stretches for, like, 10 miles.
2:03:30 “…and I will inhabit here…” Oh, Colin Firth. [Aside: A second running joke about a woman’s weight. Thanks for that, Richard Curtis.]
2:06:00 Back to the airport. So, we’re going to have to endure Creepy Colin and the reappearance of Andrew Lincoln, but at least Laura Linney’s brother doesn’t show up.
2:07:00 I lied, Emma gets one more good, if brief, scene. She looks great here, too, ahem, ALAN.
2:07:30 Not quite sure why Johanna left the country and came back already, but ok.
2:08:00 Equally unsure how two of a group of women who can’t afford pajamas bought tickets to the UK, but I really don’t want to think about this subplot anymore.
2:09:00 It really was about love, actually. Yay!
I hope we can agree, that while it’s by no means a masterpiece, it’s at least a good a Christmas film as, say, White Christmas, which includes a few questionable subplots itself. Although Laura Linney’s character will drive me crazy through all of my days and I can’t stand the sight of Creepy Colin, I still love this film, because it makes me feel like magical things can happen. And that’s not bad territory to stake out this time of year, right? Because, as it turns out, love is pretty magical and worth celebrating. Actually.
A little humor for you today...
Before we begin, I’d like to invite those members of the press huddled on the left side of the room to take a seat. I promise, I will not be heaving the podium, this bank of mics or even an assistant athletic trainer off the dais and into the press pool. This is a new me. Namaste.
As for tomorrow’s game, let me be clear: We're going to go out there and pursue this disagreement over who is the better of the two teams in a sportspersonlike manner. I want to emphasize my respect and admiration for the other team. Although we see things differently, they are fully formed people with their own thoughts and feelings that stand separate from how I might see them, due to the way I have been conditioned by set of paradigms that come with being a professional athlete. There may be no “I” in team, but there’s also no “I” in “Being a More Aware Person,” except for that one “I” right at the beginning.
Since I have this time, I would also like to apologize for anything I have said that caused the other team emotional pain, emphasizing that while I meant no harm, authentic insult might have been taken. This is particularly relevant given my statement earlier in the week that we were going to "kick some pansy ass." Pansies are beautiful flowers; it should be an honor of the highest magnitude to be compared to them. I apologize sincerely to the other team and to pansies.
While we're here, I would also like to take back my comments about how my team is going to "give 110 percent 110 percent of the time." There are several flaws in this statement. First of all, it is actually impossible to take up 110 percent of time. This is hubris, and I apologize. Secondly, I would like to express my regret for the way this comparison insults the other team by implying that they occasionally or even regularly take the field to give 100 percent -- that is, “only” all of their energy and effort. My statement insinuates that my team can go beyond all rational science to give more than that. But to give 110 percent mathematically requires taking 10 percent from someone else. From what I now understand, that would probably be a woman or a person of color. It would be very wrong for me and my teammates to take any portion of a woman’s 100 percent to boost up our own percentage to a level beyond 100 percent. I apologize sincerely and without reservation, and would like to offer to give 98 percent in tomorrow's game, donating the other 2 percent to the National Organization for Women.
I also want to formally apologize to my teammate, Boodle Jenkins, for yelling "Get your head in the game!" at him last week, a moment that was captured on national television and over which, as Boodle told me in our Feelings Huddle today, he has lost many hours of sleep. Boodle, I am sorry I made a snap judgment. I should have stopped the game, called for a time out, and asked, "Boodle, what are you thinking about? Are you in pain, buddy? Do you want to talk it out?" Boodle has since made it clear to me that he was thinking about the majestic flight pattern of the flock of Canadian geese who were flying over the field. Nature is indeed a worthy thing to contemplate, and Boodle's attempt to do so should not have been curtailed by my thoughtless demands that he try to catch the ball that was being thrown at him. After all, BOLO: that is, Boodle Only Lives Once. I would also like to apologize to those geese, who I did not see at the time and whose work, I am told, was transfixing.
Lastly, I would like to apologize to our fans. In particular, I regret screaming "Who da?!?" at the stands as I entered the game last week. I have been informed that some of our elder fans felt excluded by current slang that they did not recognize, while others felt forced by my aggressive tone to respond that I was da man although they were not sure – then or now – that I was, in fact, da man. In the future, I will be sure to make eye contact, and then, in a respectful and even tone, ask if everyone is ready for what I hope will be a fun, enjoyable game for all. In the meantime, I am sorry and I wish I could give each and every one of you fans a hug. But, of course, only if you have clearly indicated that is acceptable to me using a verbal or physical cue that is easily recognized across all cultures. And with at least 12 inches between our groins.
Thank you, God or Goddess bless you, and, instead of leaving it all on the field, let’s sort it all into recyclables and trash, and neatly bag it before leaving.
I believe it's federal law that 80% of blog posts have to start with the assertion that it was "a crazy week." Still: it's been a crazy week. I was in NYC for the weekend, came back to a billion tasks, taught all day yesterday, co-leading a workshop tomorrow, applications and job materials being sent left and right...all together, crazy. But good. Did I mention good? Any week that begins with watching the New York Marathon run so close by that you can walk over to see it in five minutes is a good week.
Here are my picks for Thursday. Enjoy!
Something to Read: I just finished Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I have loved her other books, but this one was a slow burn for me. I was about 100 pages in before I stopped telling myself that I didn't have to read it, but I should give it 10 more pages because she's usually so good. I just found the narrative voice perplexing (while also being cool -- a good reminder that what I tell my students about clarity in writing is true for me as a reader!).Well, I'm glad I stuck it out. By the end, I was crying. This is the second book I've read this year wherein I let my past admiration for the author overrule my belief that the topic of the book wasn't for me. The other was Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, which was about a trip down the Amazon and life in the jungle. Not my thing. Neither is the study of primates, which is a big part of this book. But both were wonderful, in the end. Highly recommended.
Something to Listen to: November is Lyle Lovett weather for me, particularly the song "North Dakota" from his Joshua Judges Ruth. It sounds to me like the month is.
Something to Read Online: Ok, I haven't read this yet. But I'm so excited to, soon: The Closed Mind of Richard Dawkins.
Something to Watch: You guys, Jane the Virgin is sweet and funny and a little raunchy. And makes me gasp in surprise at least once per episode!
Something to Make: Ladies and gentlemen: I give you slow-cooker Chex Mix. You are welcome.