Archive for the ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Category

Troll Idea

October 5, 2018

Sometimes I just want to create a grammar troll avatar, and then underneath all the comments with poor punctuation and spelling I come across while browsing the Internet, I’d just write things like “*you’re not your” or “*too not to.”  It would be like a massive prank on the whole web, but surely no one would ever connect it and I would just be doing it to amuse myself.  Which doesn’t really distinguish it from lots of other things I do, come to think of it…

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The Official Ruling

September 5, 2018

MB: Hey!

ID: Hi!  What’s up?

MB: Is it too early to be having a mid-life crisis?

ID: Nope

ID: Lots of people I know have had one.

ID: I had a mini-one

MB: Okay then it’s official

Theresa Duncan’s (Missed) Yahrtzeit

August 29, 2018

So this is truly embarrassing, but I had it in mind to write something acknowledging the 10 year anniversary of Theresa Duncan’s death, and I thought it was somewhat recent, but then I Googled it just now and saw that it was actually LAST summer.  This is what having an infant/toddler will do to you.

Anyway, I wanted to memorialize the summer of Duncan’s passing, which of course, being twenty-three at the time, I made into a commentary all about me, but obviously I’ve missed it.  And so did, it seems, everyone else: there was no gossip-y Nancy Jo Sales piece, no memorial service at Saint Mark’s Church, no biopic from Brett Easton Ellis playing at my local Alamo Drafthouse (although I’ve always thought the story was better suited for avant garde opera, no)?  There was a pretty good essay about it by a writer named Patricia Grisafi, although clearly not timed for the anniversary; there was nothing specifically mentioning the anniversary on her mother’s blog homage (blomage?) to Theresa, but then again, maybe she doesn’t mark the anniversaries the way us Jews do.

And also, maybe there weren’t those things because… there isn’t really much to say?  I’m realizing now that I don’t have anything to add to the story except that we should try not to forget these two people, or at least that I don’t think I will be able to forget these two people, which is something else entirely.  Wherever you two lovebirds are, I hope it’s sunny.

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A Mystery

July 24, 2018

I’ve noticed that here in Jerusalem, there is an enormous amount of… bread litter.  By that I mean, rolls lined atop a fence, or clawed-open plastic bags of a sourdough slices tucked next to a stone stairway, or a mound of challah loaves sadly languishing in an alleyway.  What is going on here?

Well, dear reader, I’ve just figured it out, thanks to a two-second Google that, had I done sooner, would have saved me a lot of head-scratching: throwing away bread is a sin for us Jews.  Ugh, another thing I didn’t know I should be beating myself up for until now!

From a website called Jerusalem Perspectives:

The importance of sharing one’s bread with the poor has remained in the Jewish consciousness until today. Many people do not want to throw away bread. Instead of dumping their bread along with the rest of their garbage into the garbage carts parked along the streets, they save the bread in plastic sacks and hang it from the metal projections on the sides of the carts (used to hoist the carts into the garbage trucks). That way, the bread is potentially available to the poor. Not all Jews in Israel follow this custom, but lots do, especially here in our neighborhood of Maoz Zion.

It is not unusual to see hunks of bread or part of a roll lying on a curb, or on top of a wall.

If you Google Image “bread in the streets of Jerusalem” (poetic name for… something), you mostly just get a picture of that guy who sits near the Jaffa Gate with his big pastries on a table, which is not what I was going for here.

Hot Take

July 15, 2018

#hottake alert: Sharp Objects is the lady True Detective.  Discuss.

PS I should say I only watched the first episode, begrudgingly, because my WiFi wasn’t working in our apartment in Jerusalem, and there was this irritating but not uncommon thing happening with the TV where I couldn’t hear any of the dialogue but the second there was a score/song in the background, it was SUPER LOUD.  But my first thought, upon seeing the final scene in which Amy Adams disrobes to take a bath, revealing a body horrifically scarred by self-inflicted wounds, was, “Oh please, no way you could carve someone’s name onto your shoulder blade with any degree of accuracy.  Any adolescent cutter knows that!”

Curmudgeons I Love

June 15, 2018

Two brief anecdotes, to begin:

1. When I was in high school, my French horn teacher (I know, I know), a sweet but wan young woman who lived with her mother, often wore latex gloves just like, around.  I was always very curious about this: was she OCD?  Was she trying to protect her precious instrument-playing fingers?

2. Right before the release of my book, my editor, my agent, the publicist at my agent’s office, and I went out for coffee to discuss pre-book buzz.  One of the things that came up was potential blurbers––you know, people who provide one or two lines of praise you can slap on the book jacket.  Because Lionel Shriver had recently written a book about her brother’s obesity (my book was about weight issues, to put it broadly), someone suggested her.  My agent got a grave look on her face, and silently and slowly shook her head, “No.”

The reason she did that, I later learned, is because Lionel Shriver is fucking terrifying!  She’s also at the moment (and maybe just generally?) loathed, for lots of un-zeitgeist-y views and what appears to be a broad disdain for people.  At times in interviews, she refutes that, but mostly the impression she gives off is that of a reed thin, slightly eccentric battle-ax.

Recently I was reading old profiles of her because I find her whole persona mesmerizing, and I noticed that she’s often photographed wearing cheap knit gloves.  She reminds me immediately of a strict Muslim who just forgot to wear a burqa but remember to cover her hands.  One article I read said she wears them because she refuses to pay for heating in her house; another said she had a circulation disease.  Is it possible she just wears them to bolster the “weirdo” image?  I get the sense she thinks of herself as very authentic, and not that she isn’t, but there is also a delight evident in knowing that she is very different from the rest of us bare-handed mite brains.

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Eulogy for an Essay

May 9, 2018
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Contact Siobhan for framing options.

A Tweet

May 4, 2018

I’m about three minutes into the Rachel Dolezal Netflix doc and I’ve already learned a lot.  For example, no one knows how to pronounce the last name “Dolezal.”

Spare Me the Hallelujahs

May 3, 2018

You guys probably saw that there was a “Beyonce mass” at a church in, I believe, San Francisco.  I could Google it and confirm, but I find it too depressing, so I won’t.

Why do I find it depressing?  This is yet another example––perhaps the most damning one of all––of our culture ceding morality and expertise to celebrities.

Listen, as far as celebrities go, Beyonce is a fine one.  She donated all that money to historical black colleges for scholarships, she donates money for clean water in Burundi, she preaches female empowerment (although interestingly, often single female empowerment, over a period of time when she was coupled).  But this is also an individual who likes to symbolically claim that high fashion is radicalism (it can be radical, but it isn’t principled), and who dresses her six-year-old in Gucci.  This not someone who is qualified for the position of saint.

To be clear, I think Beyonce would dig the idea of the mass, but I don’t think she wants to be a saint.  I think in this case, a lot of it is because we project onto her.  A lot of celebrities-turned-something-elses actively portray themselves as fit for their other roles.  Cases in point: Jenny McCarthy, whose medical advice people actually took (it still boggles the mind.). Less egregiously, Tom Hanks and Sean Penn, who offer up mediocre literary offerings and then are deemed “authors.”  Of course, who could forget the leader of free world?  Celebrities are now our pediatricians, politicians, clothing designers, childcare experts, and UN ambassadors.

“You should read this great new book about the true cause of depression,” my friend texts me.  “Elton John gave it a fantastic blurb.”  My first thought: why on earth would I care what Elton John has to say on a book about depression?  When I think about who should be vetting a book on depression, the people who come to mind are doctors or cultural critics or sometimes both––Gary Greenberg, Allen Frances, Peter Kramer, Andrew Solomon, Daphne Merkin, and so on.  When I say I’m not particularly interested in what Elton has to say on the subject, she responds, “If you don’t like him, Emma Thompson also gave it a blurb.”  I don’t think she was getting my point.

Now, they are also our moral guides and our prophetic proxies.  This is truly disturbing.

Shout out to a few people who saw this coming and said DOOM: Jarrett Kobek, author of I Hate the Internet.  Here’s an excellent interview with him in which he sounds off on this topic for a long time.  My favorite part is when he says to cure ourselves of this problem, we need to start thinking of celebrity as a disease: “If we think about the conflation of celebrity and politics, we start to understand this disease’s socially debilitating effects. We’re trying to use entities which are no longer human and thus no longer contained by our social constructs to have long and pointless discussions about major social issues defined, primarily, by those constructs.”

DFW also foresaw this, in Infinite Jest among other places.

And of course, my main squeeze, George W. S. Trow: “Celebrities have an intimate life and a life in the grid of two hundred million.  For them, there is no distance between the two grids in American life.  Of all Americans, they are the most complete.”

My fellow Americans (and everyone, because let’s be honest, many other societies are following us toward certain cultural oblivion): we can do better than this.  We can see past the sheen and choose instead to look to the possibly unsexy but still better educated experts in their chosen fields.  We can elect politicians (or the otherwise qualified!), read books by writers, trust in the medical advice of our doctors, and venerate our saints.  Join me.

Who Wore It Better

April 25, 2018

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All thanks to my brilliant husband for pointing this out.  Also this gave me an excuse to re-watch The Holy Mountain trailer and may I just say, *raises gathered fingers to puckered lips* mwah.  Exquisite.