Relate?

April 4, 2019

“If I had a dollar for every time I wish someone I loved dead, I’d be the richest woman in the world.”  ~Big Love

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Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, Trans-Asians (Alternative Title: Ugh)

March 26, 2019

This just strikes me as the most entitled white male writer shit ever.  A TIBET OF THE MIND?!  If these guys were alive and tweeting in 2019 they’d be flayed alive.

“Thinking to have a horoscope of Durrell drawn up, [Miller] asked for details of his birth.  Told that he had lived on the borders of Tibet, close to the Forbidden Land, he was thrilled, he said, because he himself was a Chinese at heart.  Miller‘s interest soon took Durrell back to his childhood in Darjeeling, and, soon after, he discovered My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neal, who had gone on foot to Lhasa in 1923.  It confirmed his Tibetan ‘ancestry’ and he began to cultivate his ‘Tibetan’ side, claiming he lived in a sort of Tibet of the mind.  If Miller was a Chinaman, then he himself was a Tibetan.”

Through the Dark Labyrinth: A Biography of Lawrence Durrell, Gordon Bowers

True Crime

March 21, 2019

You know how true crime is big?  Of course you do!  And true crime podcasts are the BIGGEST!  You are definitely plugged in enough to know that.  Well, while researching an article about an Amish thing, I came across this old news story, and I’m convinced it’s the next big true crime podcast subject (it’s basically a solved murder, but they’ve made well-reviewed podcasts about Charles Manson, so I don’t think knowing who did it is that much of a deterrent).  I would love to do some of the work on this, but the thing is, only some of it: pitching it, organizing interviews and travel, arranging for advertising, etc., I’d prefer someone else do.  Do you think Sarah Koenig is free?

A trailer:

The break came in 1987, when Reader’s Digest published an article about Little Boy Blue. A woman in northern Ohio, a member of an Amish community, read the story and wondered whether the mystery boy was a relative who had not been seen for several years. She contacted authorities, who, in the days before forensic DNA testing, used a fingerprint to confirm the identification.

Little Boy Blue was Danny Stutzman, a 9-year-old from Dalton, Ohio. The sheriff and Nebraska State Patrol investigator Jack Wyant furiously searched for the boy’s father, Eli Stutzman. They found him in Azle, Texas, almost two years from the date of Danny’s discovery in Nebraska.

I mean, it’s a gay Amish murder story.  Gold, Jerry!

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Privilege-O-Meter

March 7, 2019

I’m having one of those days when I’m obsessing over the fact that everyone seems so careless and self-centered––and I have those days a lot, which says more about me than it does about people––so I keep trying to do the whole “this is water” thing.  You know, the David Foster Wallace speech?  Where he talks about how you shouldn’t assume people acting like dicks are dicks because they could be dealing with something way worse than you are?  Herewith, a (long) bit of the stuff I’m talking about:

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it’s not impossible that some of these people in SUV’s have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he’s trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he’s in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.

Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket’s checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don’t think that I’m giving you moral advice, or that I’m saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it’s hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won’t be able to do it, or you just flat out won’t want to.

But most days, if you’re aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she’s not usually like this. Maybe she’s been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it’s also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

So of course, today while I was trying to convince myself not to burn down the whole damn thing and doing my “this is water” TM mantra thing, all of a sudden it occurred to me: what if some of these people really are just dicks?  Or what if they’re not, they’re just normal people, but their lives are actually easier than mine and therefore they should be all “this is water”-ing me?  Am I still supposed to give everyone a pass for not holding the door of the bodega open for me while I try to wheel out my mammoth baby buggy with my toddler yelling inside MOMMY, MELON and my baby strapped to my chest starting to wake up and root around to suction on to me like a hungry barnacle?  Or is that millennial on her iPhone really just a lazy POS who didn’t see me struggling because she was texting about Kylie Kardashian’s lip balm?

I have an idea for the dystopic disruptors out there (I know there are a lot of you!): make some kind of program or app or something, that gives everyone a privilege rating, so that if you come into contact with someone who treats you poorly, you can just look up their number (or see it in your eyeballs or whatever Google is up to these days) and then you’ll know if you should forgive them or street fight them (or, let’s be real, just curse them in your mind).

In the words of Ken Jennings: BOOM, I just made a Black Mirror.

We Are Living in End Times Part a Million

March 3, 2019

This is sadly not fake news:

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And by “this is not fake news,” I mean these are actual things people have published and thought people would care about recently.

WHAT

February 28, 2019

How did I not know that Jordan Peele had confirmed that Get Out was a sequel to Being John Malkovich?!

Via Wikipedia:

Following the financial and critical success of the 2017 film Get Out, varying fan theories arose delving into the social horror themes of the film. In December of that year, the film’s writer/director/producer Jordan Peele had an interview with Vanity Fair in which he discussed the major fan theories surrounding the film, confirming which of the most popular were true and false. Peele stated that he and Being John Malkovich director Spike Jonzehad discussed the theory that Get Out was a secret stand-alone sequel to Being John Malkovich, and, although admitting that Get Out was never conceived as a sequel to Being John Malkovich or thought of as such until after the film was released, Peele stated that since hearing the theory both himself and Jonze viewed the connection as both films being set in the same continuity, saying that “as far as I’m concerned, it’s true”.[47]

The theory states that Catherine Keener‘s “Maxine” in Being John Malkovich is the same character as “Missy” in Get Out; Being John Malkovichconcludes with Maxine and Lotte raising a child fathered by John Malkovich, but unbeknownst to them, the spirit of Craig is trapped inside the child’s mind. With the portal to Malkovich’s mind officially closed, they sought out other avenues for mind-transplant experimentation, eventually coming across Roman Armitage (Richard Herd), a neurosurgeon. Lotte entered the body of Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), Roman’s son, and Emily, combined with the spirit of Craig, living in his own “Sunken Place”, grows up to become the malevolent sociopath that is Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), all completely complicit in the scheme.[48][49][50] Regarding his video about the theory in the January 2018 issue of Empire, Peele expressed interest in casting John Malkovich in a Get Out sequel, stating that it would be “cool” to “do the full trilogy”.[51]

Weirdly, Yes

February 20, 2019

From a media-related listserv:

Do you wish you could express the joy and mystery of science through the medium of Peeps? Enter The Open Notebook’s Science-Themed Peeps Diorama Contest.

New Fashion Inspo

February 18, 2019

The Amish have been fashion fodder before, but I’m going to do one better and declare that my new look this summer is MEXICAN MENNONITE.

Yes, there are Mennonites in Mexico, approximately 100,000 of them, mostly in Chihuahua and Durango.  They’re from Russia via Canada, the former of which might explain the cool headscarves these little girls wear.  Their clothes seem to differ from their Midwestern American counterparts in that the dresses are brighter and more often patterned, the hats are big, and the sleeves can sometimes be short.    The dresses look like Batsheva creations, jo?  Which, in truth, I’m not really that into.  I think I just like these hats!

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By the way, this obsession was brought on by watching Silent Light, a rather amazing film about Chihuahuan Mennonites in Mexico, starring a number of locals there.  Don’t you think there should be a name for movies featuring non-professional actors playing basically/borderline-themselves?  Like, autofiction, but for film?  Examples include: Menashe, Krisha, this film, and many others I don’t have the time to compile here.  If there is a term for this, please do let me know.

Envy

February 15, 2019

I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day about this story––I liked the documentary, but I was so into this story I’d like anything about it, no matter how poorly done.  Anyway, they briefly interview a detective from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office who was in charge (I think) of the investigation into the deaths (I tried and failed to take a screenshot of him).  He says, AND I QUOTE, “I’d never even heard of the self-help movement.  I didn’t know there was a self-help movement.”  Never in my life have I envied and pitied someone so much in equal measure!  Ross Diskin might be the most accidentally enlightened man in the universe.

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(This post is categorized as “It Could Be Worse…” because of course it could be worse: you could be James Arthur Ray.)

Anonymous Advice

February 6, 2019
My husband and I are on a huge local parenting listserv––thousands of subscribers, thousands of pages and multiple groups and sub-groups, etc.––and we both get a daily dispatch from the Advice section.  Mostly it’s people asking for pediatrician referrals or the name of a good roofing guy, but occasionally someone writes in anonymously because what they need advice on is sensitive.

Early on in the days of this most recent maternity leave, I was super bored, so I read through all the old anonymous posts, and boy was it entertaining.  There were a lot of repeat issues (fertility problems, requests for therapist recs, nannies being assholes) but some really out there ones.  This is probably my favorite:

Hi – I have a situation with my nanny that I can’t wrap my head around.  She is claiming a spell was put on her a long time ago and it is causing her to not sleep, get sick & be all around miserable feeling.  However, she still comes to work and is doing a good job, always has & my daughters adore her.  She is in the midst of trying to get help through spiritual guidance.  To date I have not worried a second about my children.  My perspective is there is some mind over matter going on and maybe some mental issues?  However, this is a perspective that doesn’t believe in spirits & black magic.  Has anyone been through this? How understanding as a employer should I be?  I wouldn’t get fired for seeing a therapist, but after what happened on the UWS I am a bit nervous.  Any advice would be much appreciated.  My nanny is from Trinidad. Thank you! 

Honestly, though, the best part might have been how half the responses were like “These beliefs are part of indigenous Caribbean cultures!” and the other half were like, “I think it’s offensive to assume Caribbean people are unsophisticated and still believe in witchcraft!”