Archive for the ‘Really Awesome Insults’ Category

A Bad Way to Start a Personal Essay

September 2, 2013

In my late teens, when the Air Supply song “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All,” was popular, I developed an allergy to wheat flour and white flour.

Terry Castle Says “Fuck You” to Iconic Feminine Suffering

August 9, 2013

“It will come as no surprise that I”m one of those who will always be turning away from Plath.  Or trying to.  I find her tasteless, grisly––unbearable, in fact––precisely because, even five decades after her suicide, she and her corpse-infected verses hold on with such ghoulish tenacity.  She seems never to tire of creating tragic inhuman mischief from beyond the grave.  That the infant ‘Nick’ addressed in those final poems from Devon, the very poems cited as ‘nature poems’ by the kindly Boland, hanged himself in 2009 seems only the latest malignant turn of the Plathian screw.  A respected fisheries biologist––he taught at a university in Alaska––Nicholas Hughes had apparently done everything possible to distance himself geographically and psychologically from his parents’ cursed history.  (Most of the people who worked with him knew nothing of his family story.)  Yet Lady Lazarus caught up with him at last.  He was said afterward to have been ‘lonely’ much of his life and depressed by his failure to find love.  His mother was by then long dead––he had never had any memory of her––yet even so I couldn’t help wanting to kill her.”


In the NYRB.

Fuck You, Woody Allen

June 5, 2013

After falling in love with Annie Hall in college, as college sophomores living in NYC are wont to do, I remained a die-hard Woody fan for a good stretch of time, until finally, over the course of the past four years, I’ve sunk into the realization that I fucking hate Woody Allen.  My reasons for coming to loathe Woody are so cliched and varied that I won’t list them here; instead, I will quote from Joan Didion’s 1979 dissent in The New York Review of Books:

“‘Overeducation’ is something Woody Allen seems to discern more often than the rest of us might. ‘I know so many people who are well-educated and super-educated,’ he told an interviewer for Time recently. ‘Their common problem is that they have no understanding and no wisdom; without that, their education can only take them so far.’ In other words they have problems with their ‘relationships,’ they have failed to ‘work through’ the material of their lives with a trained evaluator, they have yet to perfect the quality of their emotional consumption. Wisdom is hard to find. Happiness takes research. The message that large numbers of people are getting from Manhattan and Interiors and Annie Hall is that this kind of emotional shopping around is the proper business of life’s better students, that adolescence can now extend to middle age. Not long ago I shared, for three nights, a hospital room with a young woman named Linda. I was being watched for appendicitis and was captive to Linda’s telephone conversations, which were constant. Linda had two problems, only one of which, her ‘relationship,’ had her attention. Linda spoke constantly about this relationship, about her ‘needs,’ about her ‘partner,’ about the ‘quality of his nurturance,’ about the ‘low frequency of his interaction.’ Linda’s other problem, one which tried her patience because it was preventing her from working on her relationship, was acute and unexplained renal failure. ‘I’m not relating to this just now,’ she said to her doctor when he tried to discuss continuing dialysis.

“You could call that ‘overeducation,’ or you could call it one more instance of ‘people constantly creating these real unnecessary neurotic problems for themselves that keep them from dealing with more terrifying unsolvable problems about the universe,’ or you could call it something else. Woody Allen often tells interviewers that his original title for Annie Hall was ‘Anhedonia,’ which is a psychoanalytic term meaning the inability to experience pleasure. Wanting to call a picture ‘Anhedonia’ is ‘cute,’ and implies that the auteur and his audience share a superiority to those jocks who need to ask what it means. Superior people suffer. ‘My emptiness set in a year ago,’ Diane Keaton is made to say in Interiors. ‘What do I care if a handful of my poems are read after I’m dead…is that supposed to be some compensation?’ (The notion of compensation for dying is novel.)

“Most of us remember very well these secret signals and sighs of adolescence, remember the dramatic apprehension of our own mortality and other ‘more terrifying unsolvable problems about the universe,’ but eventually we realize that we are not the first to notice that people die. ‘Even with all the distractions of my work and my life,’ Woody Allen was quoted as saying in a cover story (the cover line was ‘Woody Allen Comes of Age’) in Time, ‘I spend a lot of time face to face with my own mortality.’ This is actually the first time I have ever heard anyone speak of his own life as a ‘distraction.'”

Upon Hearing of the Website “Idealist.Org”

October 29, 2012

NG: i very nearly said something to the effect that i had no ideals and was there a job site called “cynic”?


October 9, 2012

So I had to tell Joyce Wadler, who wrote the genius NY Times article that started the whole thing, and here is her response:


What a great idea!! So often people who are dead to us are long gone before we have the pleasure of telling them. These cards would take care of that. Hope you sell a million. And congratulations on getting the go ahead from The New Yorker, a magazine I could not do without.


That last little NYER reference is a secret, that you will perhaps know of soon :).


October 8, 2012

My brother IS sent me the most hilarious article in the Times the other day entitled “Unfriending Someone, Before Facebook.”  Below is an excerpt:

Nor were your choices in those days only friend or unfriend. There were levels of unfriending culminating in that magnificent big gun, “dead to me,” a phrase my family wrapped their mouths around with a relish other people saved for steak.

Dead to me was not achieved with a cowardly little click on the keyboard under cover of night. Dead to me took nerve, it took strength. It also wasn’t for children. You had to be an adult with a house and a job. You cleared a space in the conversation when a certain name came up – let’s use Marvin; waited three beats to make sure you had the attention of the house, and then, and only then, did you say, “He is dead to me.”

I have no choice here but to return to the master of the form, my mother. There came a time when she and her younger brother came to a fork in the road regarding religion, hers being our ancestral one, which eschews pork and enables us to write television comedy, my uncle’s newly adopted religion involving ringing doorbells and giving people pamphlets on Sundays. As he had moved to Los Angeles, this switch might have gone unnoticed but regrettably, one of his converts, returning home after visiting, was 13-year-old me.

My mother’s screams on the phone after she made this discovery are still remembered in Greene County. It remains one of the most powerful denunciations I have heard in my life.

“Aaron,” my mother said, “I never want to hear another word from you. You are dead to me.”

He remained dead to my mother for the rest of life, about 40 years, and from what I could see, she took great satisfaction from it. This was another reason unfriending someone before Facebook was so much better. You didn’t dispatch someone once and move on; you had a lifetime of satisfying moments in which you could unfriend them over and over again.

“So, Milli, what do you hear from your brother Aaron?”

“Dead to me.”

“Your brother still married to that nice woman?”

“Dead to me.”

“I was going out to L.A. and I thought maybe I would look up Aaron, you know we were in the Army together –”

“Dead to me.”

I enjoyed it so heartily that I began to imagine what weird, profile-less hermits like IS and I could do in lieu of “unfriending” and my mind turned to a company called Set Editions, which makes the beloved “Stop Talking” business cards, among other funny things.

I hand out at least once a day.

So I’ve written to Set Editions to ask them to consider making a DEAD TO ME card.  Here is my email pitch:

To Whomever Receives This Email:

I’m an enormous fan of your merchandise –– at the moment, I’m coveting just about everything on the site –– and a proud owner of the “Stop Talking” cards, which it seems are quite popular.  I have a small idea for you based on the below article, which is hilarious and short and should go down easy:

(I put the link here but I’m not going to do it again because that just seems excessive.)

I think it would be great to create a little card that says “YOU ARE DEAD TO ME” or, more succinctly, “DEAD TO ME.”  There also could be something in the idea of unfriending –– i.e. THIS IS ME UNFRIENDING YOU –– but I myself am partial to the “dead to me.”

Anyway, if this idea appeals to you at all, what I’d ask for in return is just one set of cards!

Again, big props.  You guys are hilarious.


Itinerant Daughter

Oh my, oh my, I DO hope they like the idea!

UPDATE:  They did!  The woman behind Set Editions wrote me the below:


Thank you so much for taking the time to write with your idea. I get to hear many ideas in the course of doing business, most of which are categorically not hilarious, but “Dead to me” is right up my alley. I will work on it and I promise to let you know if it comes to pass. I suspect it might. You’ll be the first to effectively kill off your friends if it does.

Thanks again. Set Editions is really just me at the end if the day and it still gives me huge pleasure that other people even notice.



Yay!  I’m off now to inform Joyce Wadler of the Times.  While you’re waiting for these cards to come out, everybody support Set Editions and buy me these good grief glasses!

Get it?

Researching Fiona

October 4, 2012

… (for a legitimate reason, I swear!)

… and came across a quasi-famous 1998 Rolling Stone interview with her filled with some pretty badass anecdotes, such as:

“One of the subjects she keeps referring to onstage tonight is the boyfriend about whom she wrote some of Tidal‘s more barbed songs.  She tells the audience that she recently spoke with him for the first time since they broke up, and how good she feels because she doesn’t hate him anymore.  His name is Tyson.  She tracked him down at his college one morning after she’d been up all night and had ended up drunk and alone and wanting someone to talk to.  They told her he was sleeping.   ‘Tell him it’s Fiona,’ she said.  They talked for three hours.

“Still, I am a little surprised a few days later when she passes on his number for me to call him at college in Atlanta, where he studies bio and moonlights as an acid-jazz DJ.   He tells me about how they got together, a year after they first met, when he was out rollerblading on the Columbia University campus.  ‘After that day,’ he says, ‘we hung out with each other for 10 days straight without going home.’   They went out for two and a half years, on and off.  He was her first real boyfriend.  Then it ended.  ‘I remember it being all my fault,’ he says.  ‘Well, 95 percent my fault.  I started seeing this other girl and liking her a little bit.  And she said one day, ‘I never want to see you again.’   And then a year later an album’s out.’ (Later, Fiona tells me that afterward she became friends with the other girl.  One night they tried ecstasy together and were kissing.  They were going to take a photo and send it to   Tyson.  ‘We thought, ‘This’ll be the greatest,’ she laughs.   ‘The two girls that he fucked over.  Let’s make him think that we’re together now.’)

“Tyson remembers listening to Tidal for the first time.  He knew he was in there, and he would go through the songs, over and over, figuring it out.  ‘Sleep to Dream,’ pretty much it felt like that’s what she was saying to me the last time I talked to her,’ he says.  ‘And the video was set up in a way so it looks like her bedroom — a futon on the floor, a TV.’  The first time he saw that video, he was on his bed at college, lying on his back, with a girl on top of him, kissing his neck.  And suddenly he saw Fiona, ‘Kneeling on the ground, looking through the TV, looking straight at me,’ he says.  Saying those words.   This mind, this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways/So don’t forget what I told you, don’t come around, I got my own hell to raise.

“He had to ask that girl to get off him.  He couldn’t carry on.”

800 Anxiety

October 3, 2012


Guess what.

This is my 800th post.

I’ve had a lot of anxiety about it, actually, because while there have been a bunch of things that I wanted to post about, none of them seemed “special enough” for this milestone.  Then I thought maybe I should just let it pass unmentioned, and finally I settled on revealing my anxiety so as to preemptively soften the judgments of my critical readers.  It’s this type of psychological gymnastics that keep me going, folks.

What I’ve opted to do is make a little list about the number 800 and pretend that, because it’s a list, there is some interesting interconnectedness to all these random facts.  Very Harper’s Index of me, I know.  Anyway, let us begin:

800 is a Harshad number.  A Harshad number, or Niven number in a given number base, is an integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits when written in that base. Harshad numbers were defined by D. R. Kaprekar, a mathematician from India. The word “Harshad” comes from the Sanskrit harṣa (joy) + da (give), meaning joy-giver. The Niven numbers take their name from Ivan M. Niven from a paper delivered at a conference on number theory in 1997. All integers between zero and n are Harshad numbers in base n.

800 is the first year that the Anno Domini calendar became the dominant year-numbering system in Europe.  800 AD was a leap year that began on a Wednesday, and on Christmas of that year, Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

In numerology, the number 800 carries the energy of 8 only, which possess the following “energies”: material possessions, abundance, authority, leadership, cosmic awareness, self-motivated, prosperity, and infinity.

1-800-222-1222 is the toll free number for every poison control center in the US.

In some Biblical Gematria shit… well, I can’t think of how to segue, so here’s an excerpt from the Bible Wheel Archives:

The historic Christian Church has traditionally associated the Number 8 with the entrance into the Covenant of God. This understanding comes from God Himself who commanded Circumcision – the Sign of the Covenant – to be performed on the Eighth Day. God used the same language – אות ברית (Ot B’rit, Sign of the Covenant) – when He gave the Rainbow (Genesis 9.13):

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

Genesis 17:10f

The word “rainbow” (קשת, qeshet) used in this verse sums to the Number 800 which also is the value of the Greek words “Lord” and “Faith.” It also is the value of the final letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega (cf. Eight and the Resurrection below). This is the essence of Faith – trusting in the Lord who will see us through to the very end, signified by Omega. This lifts us above our present state to behold our Shepherd who is Lord above all.

Given the extreme significance of Circumcision as the Sign of the Covenant, it is no wonder that the Rabbi’s have long expounded on the spiritual significance of the Number Eight and its relation to God’s Covenant. For example, on page 134 of his book Alef-Beit, Rabbi Yitzchak declares:

The Torah prescribes that the circumcision of a male child take place on the eighth day from birth. These eight days always include at least one Shabbat, the seventh day, which corresponds to the experience of perfect harmony with nature. The eighth day of circumcision represents the power of the soul to contact that light which totally transcends nature. Through circumcision the Jew is given the power, throughout his life, to overcome all the obstacles nature may seem to place in the face of his service of G-d.

The transcendence associated with the Number Eight – recognized by both Jews and Christians – ultimately manifests in the everlasting New Beginning found in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For the Olympics this past year, the London-based design firm BarberOsgerby designed a torch that was 800mm heigh, weighed 800grammes and featured 8,000 perforated circles representing the 8,000 torchbearers who would carry it on its journey.

A random urine osmolality should average 500–800 mOsm/kg.

No social security numbers with an area number [first three numbers] in the 800s or 900s, or with a 000 area number, have been assigned.

The Book of Kells is generally thought to have been created ca. 800.

In Wolof, a language native to the peoples of Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania, 800 is pronounced “juróom-ñetti téeméer.”

In California, the interim statewide Academic Performance Index target for all schools is 800.

The gardens of Versailles cover approximately 800 hectares of land.

In regard to the LIBOR scandal of earlier this year, the number Barclay’s fiddled with is used as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion-worth of financial instruments, ranging from complex interest-rate derivatives to simple mortgages.

In the Dewey Decimal system, 800 numbers are Literature, English Literature, American Literature, Rhetoric and Criticism.

And last but not leasts (as you’ve probably realized, this could go on for 800 mind-numbing years), in order to get your tickets to the annul Faerie Festival, please call 1 800 922 TIXX.  The 2012 festival featured “I-Knew-the-Maharishi-First” Donovan, Tricky Pixie, and what seems to be the incongruously named “Heavy Hammer.”




September 10, 2012

Did Ariel Levy just tell Naomi Wolf she has a first world white girl problem? I believe she did!

“This epiphany was prompted by a ‘medical crisis,’ Wolf explains, after which she ‘had a thought-provoking, revelatory experience that suggested a possible crucial relationship of the vagina to female consciousness itself.’ It came at a time when she felt ’emotionally and sexually happy, intellectually excited, and newly in love,’ and yet she ‘started to realize that something was becoming terribly wrong.’  Her ‘clitoral orgasms were as strong and pleasurable as ever,’ and yet ‘I realized one day, as I gazed out on the treetops outside the bedroom of our little cottage upstate, that the usual postcoital rush of a sense of vitality infusing the world, of delight with myself and with all around me, and of creative energy rushing through everything alive, was no longer following the physical pleasure.’  This may sound like a high class problem to you.  For Wolf, it was ‘like a horror movie.'”

~ From Ariel Levy’s review of Wolf’s Vagina: A New Biography in last week’s New Yorker

And yes, Ariel, to me, it kinda sounds like a high class problem.

This Book is Fucking Amazing

August 1, 2012

“Just then a young girl stopped us and invited us to partake of her.  My friend asked at once: ‘How much?’

She mentioned a sum.  ‘That’s too much,’ he said.  She came down.  Still he shook his head.

‘Come,’ she said finally, with a weary expression on her sallow face.  ‘I don’t want any money.  I just want you.’

Whereupon he took his watch out and said: ‘It’s too late.  Sorry, some other day, if you don’t mind.’  And taking me by the arm he started to move off.  She caught and held me.

‘For nothing,’ she repeated with despair in her deep-sunk eyes.  See, I’m rich.’  She opened her purse and pulled out a roll of bills.  Rolls of bills mean nothing much in France, but indeed she might have been rich.  She was well dressed, I noticed.  Nothing extravagant, but certainly not poorly.  Her whole body trembled as if in fever.  And the tremors coursed through her hand and communicated themselves to me.

My friend tore me away.  As we hastened on, I looked back and saw her standing where we had left her, her hands covering her face.

‘Why did you do that?’ I asked.  The action of my new acquaintance had disgusted me.  He had meant only to tease her.

‘I wanted to see how far down she would come.  I’ve had them come down to two francs, but never to nothing.  But her case can’t count because she wasn’t after money.  She’s a pathological case.'”

–– Guy Endore, The Werewolf of Paris