Tag Archives: women

Lazy, Self-Indulgent Little Girls

Real and troubled: Claire Danes as Carrie on "Homeland"

I’m about halfway through catching up on a program, Homeland, that wrapped its first season some months ago. It could not be much better: a Federal agent (Claire Danes, as Carrie Mathison) tries to exorcise her guilt over the botched intelligence of 9/11 by preventing the next big instance of domestic terrorism from occurring. She becomes convinced that a former Iraq POW, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), now returned and trying to adjust to American life, is working on carrying out such an attack. Once convinced, Carrie is not the kind of person who’s likely to change her mind.

One of the best things about Homeland is Carrie herself: an intense workaholic who is both an asset and a liability at work. Early on, we see her struggling with a medical issue, then we learn that it’s a mental issue, next that it runs in the family. Throughout, this woman is persuasive. She has a knack for convincing her colleagues that the things she believes are really happening.

Hell, she convinces us.

But Carrie’s lows are dramatic. She cusses, rants. Has alcohol-fueled impulses, sleep disturbances, crying jags. Declares that I just can’t do this anymore (never mind this is her life, her passion, all she seems to want to do). Naturally she does these things. I’m not sure you can depict a mental patient in fiction without showing them. Continue reading

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What Not To Drink Now

Ladies, countrywomen, friends. The Skinnygirl Margarita probably won’t make us “skinny”. Even if it could, it doesn’t taste good. If it did, the boys would tell us.

Found, on page 38 of the February Esquire Magazine (helpfully headlined We Try It So You Don’t Have To):

WHAT IT TASTES LIKE …

Say the cute little four-year-old down the block made a bowl of lemonade but instead of sugar used Splenda and instead of lemons used lemon flavoring and put it in a big bowl filled with ice and set it in the sun so all the ice melted and the “lemonade” got kind of hot and she got bored and went inside and a Labrador retriever came along and lapped some up and then stuck his head in the bowl and got the stuff all up his nose and sneezed uncontrollably into the bowl for a while. That’s what it tastes like. On ice.

Ladies, fruit is good. In 2011, let us make a pledge to one another, to life, to fruit: we will let ourselves have the real thing, not fake doggy-sneeze mixes like this.

Limes don’t cost much. Sugar and salt aren’t that bad.

Let’s live a little.

The Real Problem with the Fake Blogger

Image from Operation Beautiful: a great idea, from a real blogger.

By now, everyone has heard about it:  “blogger” Maura Kelly’s screed for Marie Claire Magazine about “fat people kissing”.  Last night people reacted:  New York City held its Big Fat Kiss-In, staged in front of the Marie Claire offices.

(Has this magazine ever had a worse week?  Month?)

For anyone who does not know:  Marie Claire started the month in rare form, going after the most popular female health and fitness bloggers in a piece called “The Hunger Diaries”.  The editorial angle on that one is all negative:  fitness blogs by women, it implies, are not about good writing or healthy living but body image disorders.  From there, it was a glaring straight line to Maura Kelly’s post.

About Kelly, and her rant against those who have never looked at a meal with a mind to what it’ll feel like coming back up:  I wonder how many people have actually read it.  I did that, because real writers do research, and because (unlike more responsible publications), Marie Claire has left her post on its site, to encourage further troll … excuse me, comment.  (NOTE:  As of this writing, MC appears to have removed the post without explanation or apology.  I have linked to a cached copy below.)

That post — taken in context with the rest of what’s on Maura Kelly’s page — is one of the saddest, most revealing things I’ve seen in a long time. Continue reading

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Saturday, noonish.  Three beautiful young women sit around a table in a cafe.  Two of the three girls work there; as one of them waits for the next walk-in customer, she knits.  One of the three does needlepoint.

Though the day outside is cold, two of the girls are dressed delicately, in flowing skirts and dark tights.  Needlepoint Girl wears a petticoat with her flowered skirt.  The third, her blond hair bobbed, wears jeans under a soft tunic.

Blond Cafe Girl describes a recent vacation.  “It kicked ass,” she says softly.

“We watched open-heart surgery.  In an operating theater.  Six hours.  With a chest spreader, like everything.”

“Awesome,” says Needlepoint Girl.

Knitting Cafe Girl nods vigorously.  “I’ve donated my body to science,” she adds.

“Really?” says the blond.  “That’s so great.”

“Right?”  Knitting Cafe Girl smiles.  “They’ll pull back the sheet, and have like this fully-tattooed cadaver to dissect.”

All three girls smile.

“That’s such a gift,” says Needlepoint Girl.

“It is,” agrees Knitting Cafe Girl.

‘True Blood’ to Women: “I Am Death”

Okay, guilty-pleasure-I-had-to-pay-for:  you’re Death.  And I choose life.

BFFs Tara, Lafayette and Sookie, in better days.

In the past couple of episodes of True Blood, I’ve noticed female characters getting punished for the apparently unforgivable crime of being female.  After the rape scene at the end of this season’s Episode 3 (do I spoil?  Oh.  Whoopsie), I thought I’d give the show I’ve watched for its entire run another hour to see if I should keep going.

Here’s what I saw in that hour (Episode 4, aptly titled “9 Crimes”):

  • The main character, Sookie, wearing a skimpy outfit to a bar (a place she’d have gone by herself, dressed very differently, in Season 1), chaperoned by a man
  • Another female character kidnapped by a male who claims to be “in love” with her
  • A fight between two women, on the topic of being “redheads”
  • Not one, not two, but three torture scenes, with a woman as the focus of each

It was the first time in my experience of media that a TV show closed two consecutive episodes with rape scenes.  As a female viewer, I got the message.  Loud and clear:  Better not come back.  Thank you, I won’t.

I know that the series creator is busy now, working on something else, and may not know what’s up on his old project.  He should, though.  True Blood is churning out some squicky, truly misogynistic stuff.  Earth to Alan Ball:  this moment, of women outnumbering men in the workforce and making the clear majority of purchasing decisions, is not the time to be pushing the ladies out of your clubhouse.

From The Ampersand:

… Something’s changed this season. Can you feel it? In the absence of a kick ass villain in Maryann, or a comedic Jester in Jane Bodehouse, or even the archetypal evil mother in Maxine, it seems like this season is focused on putting women in crappier and crappier scenarios… But something’s going on here. I find more and more that I spend a good portion of each episode wagging my finger around the screen. “What’s going on here? What is this? What am I looking at?”

… I feel a bit icky, and so I’m questioning it. I know I’m not alone.

You’re not, dear blogger.  Pop-culture barometer The Gawker weighs in on the subject, and is bummed.

From New York Magazine’s Vulture blog: Continue reading

The Chick Movie, Updated

When we were growing up in our Los Angeles suburb, my brother Mikey – a few years younger than I, always a great wit – used to describe the Chick Movie in these terms:  “A movie where women hang out together, and one of them dies.”

This was in the 1980’s and early ‘90’s:  the years of Fried Green Tomatoes, Steel Magnolias, Beaches, Boys On the Side, and even Thelma & Louise (a push for inclusion in the genre, but I’d argue it is one.  It’s a raging-chick movie, but a chick movie nonetheless).

That was then.  A new era has definitely arrived.

In Winter’s Bone, a 17-year-old girl hunts relentlessly for her missing father.  Though her mother is present, she’s more or less useless – as are most of the men Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) meets.  Ree generally interacts with other women, for better and worse.

Sonya (Shelley Waggener), a neighbor who always seems to know how bad things are for Ree, offers food, power tools, and stronger stuff when she can.  April – the only face in this film I recognized (Sheryl Lee, once famous as Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks) – meets Ree in one of her dad’s hangouts, and gently fills in part of his story for her.

And there is Merab, gatekeeper for the local heavy.  Played to the rusting hilt by Dale Dickey, Merab’s face tells us more about her life than her words ever can.  When she asks Ree, who wants to ask the boss about her father’s whereabouts, if there “isn’t a man [who] can do this for you,” we can tell Merab already knows the answer.

Watching this movie is an interesting experience.  Continue reading

This Freaking Kid.

I have two kids.  They couldn’t be more different.

One:

This lovely young person has never given us more than five minutes of trouble in her life.  Now 19 and a half, she has always been the least teenagery teen you can possibly imagine.  She is wonderful.  A delight.

She’s in college now, a sophomore.  She calls me on her way to a Tuesday-morning class every week.  We talk about her weekend, plans for the day, her complex social life (she came out as a lesbian in her junior year of high school, and she’s doing well:  more girls are interested in her than have been interested in any man you know in his entire life).  But mostly we talk about her classwork, which really seems to interest her right now.

The kid writes a lot of papers.  She’s a film and lit major, and she loves speaking up in class, as The Gay Kid.  I have warned her that eventually, the novelty will wear off.  (“Like when you move back to San Francisco,” I remind her, helpfully.  “Everyone’s gay here.”)  But for now she’s doing well.

How well?  Gonna-be-a-TA-next-spring, kind of well.  She’ll be teaching.  At 20.  “Yeah, no one really cares that I’m two years old,” she shrugs.

Then there’s Kid Two.  Sigh.  Two: Continue reading