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  • Donald Trump Is the First White President, excerpt from Ta-Nehisi Coates' latest book, We Were Eight Years In Power - argues that race trumped everything for his supporters/voters. Whenever I read critiques of Coates, there's always people arguing that he never has solutions. Like, since when does a writer have to be prescriptive? He's a writer describing a problem that few people want to acknowledge, or at least the people who should be confronting it head-on, are too cowardly to. It's not his job to solve racism and white supremacy.
  • What the Rich Won't Tell You, NYT article by Rachel Sherman. Striking how the privileged, whether it's via class/race and/or both, live in denial in order to cope with the large inequalities in their daily lives. That denialism is going to kill all of us.
  • The Drone King, newly discovered short story by Kurt Vonnegut
Jan. 6th, 2007 08:50 pm


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A Whiter Shade of Guile - Joe Queenan writes about the whole white-people-save-black-people-from-themselves movies, and in a really funny way. "If there is anything black people the world over have learned from Hollywood - and there isn't a whole lot - it's that no matter how bleak the situation seems, they can always rely on some resourceful, charismatic and, in some instances, shapely white person to bail them out."

It's been a long time since I've read Queenan, who was snark-incarnate before "snark" became the most overused word on the Internet. I remember him because he used to write for Movieline - the well-written, funny, honest magazine before it got bought out and turned into a worse version of Premiere. Before it got bought out, Movieline was (in)famous for its annual sex issues, and the Jennifer Lopez interview where she insulted almost everyone in Hollywood before she broke out.

Dammit, now I'm on a total nostalgia trip. Salon did a short profile of the magazine some years back. Some of my other favorite writers from that era of magazine-goodness were Stephen Rebello - see interview with Steven Soderbergh, and Martha Frankel - see interview with Christopher Walken, who I also remembered for her interview of Leonardo DiCaprio before he hit it big, and for her rant about how Hollywood portrays pregnancy in movies. I can't find that article, but I remember her revealing that she and her best friend started taking birth control pills before they even really knew what sex was because they were so freaked out by the consequences of Hollywood-depicted sex. There's one part where she describes a movie where the protagonist has to decide whether to save the baby, which means the mother will die, or save the mother and the baby will die and the lead of course decides to save the baby because killing the baby would be a sin and she writes something like "These are my choices? No thanks!"

And there was also Edward Margulies, the former editor, who also co-wrote a feature with Stephen Rebello called "Bad Movies We Love".

Good stuff.
toastykitten: (Default)
I've been following with interest the unmasking of JT Leroy and The Smoking Gun's investigation of James Frey. I have read neither, but as soon as I saw the mug shot of Frey, I thought, holy shit, it's an overgrown frat boy! Criminal my ass.

He reminded me of the kids I met in Seattle, some of whom were older than me, but were still so focused on being the cool hipster who's down with the minorities and the poor people that they forgot they were really overprivileged brats. I would have liked them so much better if they had just been comfortable with themselves, but they seemed pretty hellbent on proving that they were down and real and never letting you forget it. I bet he talked himself into believing the things he wrote. Why be so insecure?

But anyway, so I've been thinking about what these people are trying to get out of lying the way they do, and there's some discussion about how their "authenticity" (or lack thereof) destroys people's enjoyment of their actual writing. But shouldn't the writing speak for itself? If you didn't know the real story, would you find their writing to be as compelling? From what little I've read of Frey's work, I think he wants to be Chuck Palahniuk, but there is only one Palahniuk.

I think I hate "authenticity". I like fake things - I like going shopping, I like visiting tourist spots, I like Disneyland and I like reading about outrageous things that aren't real because they give me an escape from reality. I don't understand everyone else's quest for the nitty-gritty or the fucked-up; to me that only seems like misery. I hate it when people have preconceived notions of what the "real world" should be because I got that lecture all the time when I was a kid, and you know what? Real is banal; it's boring, and there's no better way to escape it than reading some fantasy novel or going somewhere new and exciting.

That isn't to say that I like dumb things, or that I prefer fake things all the time. I just wonder about how obsessed people seem to be with attaining the authority of authenticity that they forget who they really are in the process.

Dammit, where is Mark? I need food.
Dec. 30th, 2005 11:42 pm


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Am I enough of a geek to qualify for this call for submissions?

I don't code, I've barely learned any HTML or CSS, I glaze over at techspeak, but I discovered the Internet in 8th grade and have been in love ever since. And I fell in love with a geek.
Dec. 20th, 2005 11:02 pm

life sucks

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My week sucks already and it's only Tuesday. Bleh.

In lieu of the bitching, I'm going to write about the Chronicles of Narnia. We watched the movie over the weekend, and I thought it was a pretty faithful adaptation, which also sort of exacerbated the books' weak points.

1. C.S. Lewis was no Tolkien. Tolkien crafted a meticulous world with its own language and then set a story in it. Lewis pretty much sat down and said, I have an image of this little girl walking into another world, and that was it. Reading the Chronicles of Narnia is sort of like reading a first draft of something - when you're a kid with a huge imagination, this doesn't matter because the concepts are so intriguing. When you're an adult, the plot holes and anachronisms totally take you out. Like, how did Santa get to be an arms dealer? It's so random. And then he doesn't ever show up again.
2. People always point out the Christian message of the works, as if they were the overriding message, or as if that will be the only thing people will get out of it. I think people forget that most of modern Western literature are rewrites of various Bible stories, so the whole Aslan resurrection thing doesn't bother me. What does bother me, however, is The Last Battle aka Revelations Part II, in which everyone but Susan dies, and Susan doesn't die because she's too interested in "nylons and makeup" and has forgotten Narnia. Most of the time I just pretend this book doesn't exist. The movie's Christianness is quite muted.
3. The one line of the movie that annoyed me? "No, you're trying to be smart!", said as an insult by Peter to Susan. Lewis has this weird aversion to skepticism and reason, which makes itself shown throughout the novels - Edmund's presented as sort of a "bad egg" because he wonders why they should trust the faun over the queen, Peter and Susan are chastised for using logic, etc.
4. Lewis hated "modernism" and that's evident in the way he depicts Eustace, someone who "almost deserved the name". It's so hilarious and so jarring, to read about how these hippies are so evil and mean to these nice, upper-class kids.
5. Some authors, accuse other children's authors of being "mean-spirited". Philip Pullman accuses Lewis, Ursula LeGuin accuses Roald Dahl. I think they're not taking into account that a lot of times the meanness is just revenge fantasy for kids who have no other outlets to channel it into.
6. I liked the movie, but didn't love it. I liked the books, but didn't love them either. I only read the books within the last year or two, so I think I missed reading them as a kid and being sucked in like I was with Andrew Lang's fairy books, Tolkien, Christopher Pike, and Roald Dahl.
Aug. 24th, 2005 06:54 am


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I hate writing for money.
toastykitten: (Default)
Entering this essay contest: What is on the minds of America's youth today?

What should I write?

Edited to add: Seriously, what should I write?

From this month's issue: More than 30 years ago, young people across the country staged sit-ins for civil rights, got up and protested against a misguided, undeclared war, and actually gave a damn if a president lied to them. Although a lot has changed since then, there are still racial divides, and America is once again mired in a largely controversial war. Back in the 1960s and 70s, a similar climate motivated great numbers of young people to act, organize, and take to the streets in defiance. Today it seems as if younger Americans are content to watch their MTV, fiddle with their game players, follow the love lives of Brad, Jen, Jessica, and Paris, and assume the hard work is being done for them by others. What has changed? Is it simply that we do not have motivating factors such as a draft or Kent State to bring us together, to anger us? What is going on inside the minds of American youth today?

First prize is $15k and a week in Tuscany. And a pen.

What changed?
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