Carol Channing turns 88 years young today! Why are the post offices still open?
Off to Skidoo, since it’s the thing to do!
Carol Channing turns 88 years young today! Why are the post offices still open?
Off to Skidoo, since it’s the thing to do!
…but I predict that, upon hearing Obama’s half-brother was just arrested for drug possession, Rush Limbaugh will:
Unless, of course, the Oxycontin has taken away all his sensitivity “down there.”
David Denby’s new book, Snark, puts me in mind of what seems to be a genuine disconnect between my generation and the previous ones. And so, as my post’s title suggests, I feel I must distinguish between the two for this poor, misguided fellow:
Snark is inherently not malicious; rather, it is simply the opposite of reverence. Just as apathy is more aptly the opposite of love than hate, snark is my generation’s answer to chronic disappointment in prominent figures. I realize that we are not the first generation that was made aware that its heroes were people too, but I’m willing to wager one million dollars that we’re the first to know our leader fucked some fat chick with a cigar under his desk. This has been the generation of full disclosure, in which the 24-hour news cycle has uncovered and reported on more disgusting, disturbing behavior from leaders than ever before.
Let me put it in language our more-aged Mr. Denby can understand: I know you probably watched the Vietnam “Police Action” on TV (he’s a film critic for The New Yorker, so I figure his being an ex-hippie is a safe bet). Seeing the bodies fall in Vietnam on the television was moving, I’m sure. It communicated in full-color visuals that the consequences of fighting for theoretical principles can be brutally real. That was its moral. Broadcasting the Watergate hearings also had a moral, a sort of updated and more cynical Washingtonian-cherry-tree cautionary tale against lying. Good morals, right?
Let’s now take a look at the messages my generation has received. The Iran Contra hearings were a joke. They proved to us that, if you blatantly lie about nefarious dealings, you might have to wait 15 years to be a massively rich, well-respected radio personality (oh, Ollie, I will never understand how you slithered out from under that). Follow that with Ken Starr, stained dresses, and Larry Flynt’s revenge. We now have a fairly steady stream of disgusting pedophiles, closet cases, and deviants, all of whose sexploits are fully broadcast by real journalists, and not just the bloggers Denby credits with destroying civilization. And what are the moral lessons we learn from these tales of glory-holing pederasts? That public figures are hypocritical, lying scumbags. Period. What causes more harm, really? On the one hand you have a corner of the “internets” goofily postulating that Palin’s son, Trig, is actually her grandson; on the other, you have a CNN “Top Story” detailing Ted Haggard yankin’ it in front of one of his young, male parishioners.
See what I did there, Denby, my man? I used a snarky phrase to describe Haggard’s higly disturbing sex crime. Why? It’s my generation’s defense mechanism, a way to distance ourselves from the horrors we hear on a daily basis about people who should command respect. Why do we a-hole bloggers refer to Obama as Princess Sparkle Pony, Hopey the Unicorn King, and the like? So we won’t be too heartbroken when–and I just can’t emphasize this enough–you and your colleagues uncover some undoubtedly horrible, shadowy activity in which he engages (feltching, perhaps?).
Long story short (too late): This snarky mess is of your own making. It’s disrespectful, yes, but not with the intention of actually hurting the party against whom it’s directed. Rather, the motive is self-preservation, and, as any lawyer will tell you, motive’s a pretty big deal when it comes to proving the commission of thought crimes.
(See what I did there again? I likened your charge to an Orwellian attempt at thought control!)
Long story even shorter:
Sarcasm (read Malice) implies a derision explicitly intended to hurt or offend someone.
Sardonicism (read Snark) implies a cynical derision expressed either verbally or facially with no necessary intent to offend or cause emotional distress.
Of course, that’s according to an evil word-geek blog, so maybe it’s just mean-spirited crap.
This is mostly a shout-out to engrish.com, which chronicles the funniest moments in mistranslation in public places. I want to think they’re cheap shots, but durnit if I’m not a sucker for potty humor. *sigh*
Never thee mind, on to business:
As my husband so adroitly put, “Just when I was defending American cinema to our local Spaniards,” this happens:
That’s right, sugar fans: Hilary Duff will be Bonnie!
In the words of Ms. Dunaway…
”Couldn’t they at least cast a real actress?”
Not if they wanted to go the ADORABLE route.
Seriously now, how much darker and disturbing will the film be at the end now? It’s one thing to watch gritty, emaciated, no-’count drifters get mowed down in a hail of machine gun fire, but cute and bubbly pop stars? Now that is seriously dark:
(Yes, I know that likening Hilary Duff to a bunny could be construed as taking a shot at her veneers. And it should. Cause, really, in the words of my Pops, “That girl looks like she could eat pie through a screen door.”)
Hollywood is not–I repeat NOT–out of ideas!
Laura Bennett (of Project Runway fame; she was the awesomely stylish mother of a litter of boys who made the super-cute “100% Nuts” dress, among others, but I digress) has an interesting blog in The Daily Beast today.
While I’m sure it’s a good read, in and of itself (I dare not incur the wrath of a woman always so perfectly put together that I would feel impelled to call her “MISS Laura Bennett,” were I ever to meet her), it puts me in mind of a theory I had immediately after giving birth.
If brevity is the soul of wit, my description of giving birth will be hilarious: It is absolutely not a great experience. That said, the payoff is pretty amazing. Hormones, society, and necessity intertwine to make the newly-minted fruit of your loins need you in ways heretofore unimagined. If you’re the mother. If you’re the father, you are still an integral part of the daily life of the child (one would hope), but the connection is different.
I was thinking about this phenomenon this morning when my partner-in-geekdom was dropping off his toddler at the same daycare my baby attends. He reiterated his grudging acceptance of the fact that, even though he spends more time with his son than his wife does, the boy still clings to his mother as his savior, champion, and general be-all-and-end-all. And he’s not alone in feeling this way.
In this, the 200-year anniversary of Darwin’s birth, it is appropriate to blame evolution, so I will. As a multitude of pop-culture self-help books will tell us, human men have evolved to spread their seed, and human women to nurture it. We’ve all heard this tons of times, used it as excuses for bad behavior (hey, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell!), and rejected it as irrelevant. And it is, up to a point.
Women are not hard-wired to stay at home and cook and clean. That’s fucking ludicrous. What we have evolved into, however, are single-bodied baby-caring machines: a house in which to grow, a way into the world, and the primary food source. That last part is especially important, since it is the reason we’ve evolved all sorts of fun toys: the hormones that cause the act of breastfeeding to bond mother and baby, the ability of a newborn to only see breast-face distance, the innate desire of a newborn to look for eyes and hold their gaze. Hell, breast milk is also an antibiotic (tell me that was just an accident, Sarah Palin). This is all by way of saying that women have evolved to be able to physically create a toddler without any outside influence.
It occurred to me that this must be frustrating, to say the very least, for new dads. How unbelievably awful to be confronted with the notion that a crazed nut like Valerie Solanas may have had a point. Maybe she was right in her “research” that noted that men were going to be evolved out of the species entirely in the future, deemed as a footnote to a new matriarchal rule. To be assaulted by nagging little doubts about your own relevance as a gender while simultaneously being forced to reassure a sobbing, sleep-deprived, hormonal mess that she will eventually fit into her favorite jeans again…well, that’s just adding insult to injury.
Putting myself in a new dad’s shoes, I suddenly understood the excessive need I would feel to voice my own relevance. Really, I get it: the urge to say you are absolutely necessary to the world, if only because the species-perpetuator over there is…erm, well I bet she sucks at math. And basketball. And she knows absolutely dick about allen wrenches.
This is not meant to be an excuse for misogyny, but I think I finally understand its genesis. Which, for a physics geek like me, means I can wrap my mind around it and deal with it.*
*This is all by way of saying I think Freud’s a douche. Never trust a cokehead to level with you about anything.
I would say this will just kill John Updike, but…
While I know it’s fairly well-known that geeks and jocks don’t really get along, the body shots the geeks get to deliver once they leave the emotionally-stunting clutches of high school never cease to amuse me. And so I offer, as a palate cleanser (after my previous long-winded and overly earnest rant), a screenshot from a couple of days ago:
Do I think it was not lost on CNN’s online editor that the wording of this headline makes it sound as though there has been study showing a link between brain damage and athletic prowess? Nope. Do I think CNN’s online editor might have received a few wedgies in his day? Maybe.
Parenting is weird. The simulataneous empathy and antipathy of one parent toward another is only the tip of the iceberg. Oh, sure, we all feel for the poor woman whose baby is screaming on the train, but watch her quiet the screaming with a pacifier/bottle/backhand, and you’re sure to hear various and sundry gasps of indignation (“You’ll ruin the shape of his mouth!”/”He’s going to forever think of food as comfort and not sustenance!”/”You’ll ruin the shape of his mouth!”).
So it was with me and the show we’re currently watching, Friday Night Lights. In this season, the wife of the coach gives birth to another baby, 16 years her older daughter’s junior. Waves of pity washed over me watching this woman guiltily admit that she was upset that, 2 years from finishing the serious grunt work of parenting, she was going to have to do it all over again: the sleepless nights, the lack of time to yourself, all topped off with a few wonderful years with a teenager. Yeesh, I wanted to curl up into a ball at the thought of it. I saw her plead with her husband to have a night off, since the breastfeeding was taking too much out of her, and I completely understood. Granted, her baby apparently doesn’t cling to her like the world’s mightiest chimp, making nights out without her…shall we say, difficult? So, yes, I was jealous, but I understood. I watched her wrestle with the enormity of the task ahead, dying for breaks, deciding to stop breastfeeding because it was too Mommy-intensive, demanding everyone else pitch in, and I was absolutely on her side. I may not have agreed with everything she did, but, dammit, I was right there with her.
Then it happened. They mentioned her baby was 2 months old. I lost it. “2 months? TWO MONTHS??? She’s gotten HOW many days and nights off ALREADY because it was all too much??? Is she fucking KIDDING ME????”
Once I calmed down, I realized that this isn’t uncommon, nor is it frowned upon in the United States. Having spent the first almost-year of my parenthood here in Spain, I had forgotten the different mentality that exists in my own “Patria,” which seems to imply that having a family ends your individual life. Right away. Done. You will no longer exist as a person, but only as a mother. Which is just a crappy thing to tell a new parent or a baby.
Granted, I’m spoiled, since here in Spain having a family is viewed as the beginning of your life, the extension of your being into a new generation. As such, children are not only allowed in all public places, but encouraged. It’s great but can border on the weird sometimes.
Still, there is no worry whatsoever about messes, noise, and the like. The extent to which this is true still surprises me (for example, when my daughter spit up on an older lady’s fur coat on the Metro, she elicited nothing by a smile and a chorus of “tranquila”s while I furiously scoured my bag for wipes strong enough to counter a lawsuit).
On the other end of the spectrum, the same is true for caring for your parents. Viewed a chore and another assault on your personal freedom in the United States, here it is viewed as so unbegrudgingly automatic that the word “duty” hardly even applies. It is unquestioned that parents, once they reach a certain age, go to live with their children, care for the grandchildren, and remain that way until they pass on. Period.
Are these two facts coincidental? An overlap of generations? I’m not sure, but, seeing as I’ve always found retirement homes astoundingly depressing, I’m not taking any chances.
This Obama cat’s trying like the dickens to drum all the cynicism out of me. Yeesh, it’s like every day with this guy!
This one’s just too much: The first bill he’s signing is the Lily Ledbetter act, better known as the act guaranteeing legal repercussions for those dipshits who still don’t pay women the same as their male counterparts. Now if we can just figure out a why to legally repossess said “counterparts” (Ooh, a dick joke! How very edgy and hipster-ish!), we’ll be all set.