Sunday, November 30, 2003

my outrage is better than your outrage

because mine gets published! check out my letter to the new york times magazine. it's the last one on the page and it's in reference to an article from two weeks ago (unfortunately you have to pay for it now. the intro paragraph should give you an idea). judson said the author medicalized gender. if i were really smart, i woulda thought of that -- but i was smart enough anyway to get published.

forgive my bragging, but i am 2 for 2: one letter in the washington post last year, one in the times.

in other non-outrage related news, i'm back from what has never been my favorite holiday. of late my family has been hoofin it up to vermont and celebrating there. after a few days with all of us in that house either micromanaging or snapping pictures it usually gets a little, um, special.

this year we gathered in dc. it seemed in some ways like an extension of the funeral, since it was the same folks gathered in the same place. but there were also important holiday elements, like more corners to escape to and more tvs to watch and a computer to fight over. ultimately it was really good and i enjoyed seeing my family under less strenuous circumstances.

and no, i did not eat the turkey, but, yes, i had plenty to eat.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

cake or death

cake, please!
okay, here's a real question. how many movies have you walked out of or stopped?

my list:
  • waking life GOD that film is a pretentious waste. those conversations are not deep. they're intellectual roadkill. we have those conversations during the first week of college before we realize college students are meant to limit their conversations to the subjects of teleology and poop.
  • playing by heart
  • age of innocence
i mean, as a general rule, i don't see bad movies, so as a general rule i don't stop or walk out of things no matter how badly they are in need of stopping or walking out of. case in point: love, actually to which i subjected not just myself but four others on friday.

a bit of advice, gov. when you're making a romantic comedy -- or eight at once -- you do not need to begin with a pious lecture to your audience about how Love is All Around Us.
your audience is watching your movie either because (a) they believe that already, fervently, and expect you to back them up; (b) they are skeptics reasonably willing to be convinced; or (c) they think liam neeson, emma thompson, alan rickman, & colin firth are terrific actors and wouldn't be in a movie all together if it were rubbish. for the (a)s, the lecture is redundant. for the (b)s, it induces vomiting. for the (c)s, it starts heart palpitations and alarm bells ringing and the unpleasant thought, "christ, what i have gotten myself and/or four others in for?"

romcoms are by definition not radical acts of resistance against the man (tho wouldn't it be could if they were?). still it's downright CREEPY to populate a supposedly sweet movie with adulterers, wannabe-adulterers, chronic sexual harassers, and men in positions of power who take advantage of their female underlings. especially when you're not given time to know these people or understand their intentions, if they have any besides "it's christmas! i'll do what i like!" in the spirit of jesus, the original hedonist, of course.

rant To Be Continued and To Lead Up to a Point about Do The Right Thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2003


at dinner tonight, someone brought up teleology, which, in respect to history, refers to the belief that events happened because they had to, one after the other, to lead up to the present moment. more than anything it affirms the endpoint. the present.

teleology falls under the rather expansive category of Things That Are Not Okay.

i do not espouse teleology. i find theory tedious in general; i'm not going to spend my valuable snood-playing time decided whether to identify as 40% New Historicist, 40% Feminist, 20% Kid in the corner who didn't do the reading.
however, when i dismiss ani difranco or the indigo girls [simply?] because they featured prominently in a rearview mirror part of my life, i am being teleological. ditto when i make fun of my old poetry or old friends or pre-swarthmore modes of thinking.

they should teach classes here in how not to be disdainful of the past. (SOAN 087: RECLAIMING ANI. 1 credit. cross-listed under MUSIC AND DANCE and EDUCATION.) it's SO tempting. so easy. who wasn't an underdeveloped twerp at the age of 13?
it might be a touchy subject to me because i still look more or less the way i did when i was 13. under such circumstances, naturally i would want to differentiate myself from my tween self as much as possible, in the only way possible.

but um, i was kind of cool when i was 13. i didn't care what people thought of me. i spent no time or money on fashion. i wrote limericks. i asked out a boy. even after that didn't work out (see entry, November 19) we remained friends. my posse of friends were the coolest people ever; i didn't NEED a boyfriend. in fact, when a boy asked me out -- a boy i thought i really really liked -- i surprised both of us by saying No.

good to remember. go ahead, try it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

unlucky in love day

apparently word spread that i managed to convince several people in our class that our film teacher would be showing porn classic deep throat instead of midnight cowboy. after seeing cowboy i almost wish i'd been right: i'm discovering a newfound antipathy on my part to films that are THAT depressing. unless, like, say, Happiness, they're also THAT good.

the plan this evening is to celebrate Unlucky in Love Day, which dates back to November 1994, by going into the city, toasting each other with $3 margaritas and watching a free screening of high fidelity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

blueberry pie

i needed to write six pages of my screenplay this afternoon. i wrote eight, AND did my laundry, AND put it away, AND wrote my review for the phoenix (on the station agent, one of three indie, character-driven, written-and-directed-by-a-white-man flicks i've seen lately. two of the three have starred the remarkable patricia clarkson, who is to this year what carrie-anne moss was to 2000).

the way i see it, i have earned my right to enjoy tonight's screening of midnight cowboy. after that, however, and more or less for the next two weeks, it's back to work.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

between 3 and 6

my first night back at skool, i considered a play, a movie, an evening of games, and decided i wanted quiet. a book and a bed.

at 1 a.m., the fire alarm went off.
at 1:45 a.m., the fire alarm went off again.

at 2, i finally crawled back into bed. at 3:30 i finally fell asleep.

i woke at 6, at 8, at 10. at 10 i got out of bed, urged by an unusual feeling of activity around my nostrils. i wish i could say i woke up, bleeding out of my face, after dreaming of mountain climbing or hand-to-hand combat with donald rumsfeld.

it has stopped. my worry that all of a sudden today someone will point at me and shriek, "ohmygodBLOOD!" has not.
otherwise, i'm fine. it's good to be back.

Friday, November 14, 2003


the jewish ritual of mourning involves spending a lot of time sitting in little chairs. they look like something out of a fairy tale, especially set among the high-backed chairs and sofas of my living room.

already my time among the little chairs is winding down. tomorrow my cousin eric drives me to skool, barring the same kind of unforeseen circumstance that detained us earlier in the week. i've been gone since last friday. i'm braced to see that skool life has managed to continue without me, but people have been exceptionally sweet.

i spoke at the funeral yesterday.
i shoveled earth into the open grave.
when the limo dropped us back at the house, the electricity had gone out. it came back on just before the 7:30 service in my living room. before then, the candles everywhere and sheets over the mirrors gave the appearance of a seance.

and now, what.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

everyone says "not yet," no one says "yet."


as it turns out, it was the end. i'll be at home for a while.
for whom the phone tolls

as it turns out, this is not the end exactly. this is the beginning of the end. i head back to swat tomorrow morning in time to make it to my film class. but of course for the rest of november i'll be hovering over my phone, waiting for it to ring.

at least i got a chance to sit with my grandfather, to thank him for everything he's done for us, particularly the challah he made every friday night for shabbes dinner. he got to call me ester bloomie. he got to hold my hand. i'm his only granddaughter. he's my only grandfather. at least we got a chance to say goodbye.

Monday, November 10, 2003

i look

three red bumps plotted on my face like the vertices of a triangle. glasses. hair parted straight down the center, pulled straight back into a ponytail. i don't know how many days i will wear these clothes. i only expected (packed) for a weekend.

family trickles in by plane, train, car, phone. everyone murmurs, feeds each other. when the need strikes each of us, we move to a different room in my grandparents' apartment and face a different wall, a different window. or sometimes. we hold each other. the rabbi comes when called, surprising pleasing me, and stays, encouraging my grandfather's stories. for the rabbi's sake, my grandfather speaks more than he has all day and in a stronger voice. he likes to say the word, to call him simply "Rabbi." the rabbi listens until the tape in the player runs out. he speaks to my grandfather with respect, not the way you fear people will speak to a man in the last stages of cancer.

the siddur sits open on the kitchen counter to the "viddui" page.

my father sits open in the kitchen dressed for the yeshiva, white button down shirt, dark pants, dark kippah, reading, not the New York Times, but "Psalms." he says things in yiddish to my grandfather, who answers in kind.

deli, chinese in the fridge. i make tea. everyone loses it but no one really does. it is as though we carry ourselves in our fists. politics. movies. a day passes, a full day, not just the time between lunch and dinner. there is no lunch and dinner. there is tea, deli, chinese. coffee cake. my grandmother tells me gently i made the tea too strong. i make more.

inevitably, because the family has gathered, it feels like a celebration. we make jokes. we suggest movies to see. we try to watch the english patient but who has patience for it even outside of this apartment? my grandmother amazes me. my uncle amazes me. everyone amazes me. my father, my mother. my grandfather tells the rabbi, She'll be America's Poet Laureate someday.

he is conscious, at least for now. he knows who he is, who we are, if not who we'll be. of course, he amazes me. the rabbi asks him, Do you want me to read the viddui, the confessional? my grandfather says, Not yet.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

thank heaven for ...

- rational human beings and courts that work with them:
Allowing Congress to practice medicine without a license endangers the lives and health of women," said Vicki Saporta, chief executive officer of the federation.

- billionaires with consciences:
When Ray Kroc died in 1984, she took control of the San Diego Padres, which her husband had purchased 10 years earlier. And though Ray Kroc had been committed to philanthropy, opening the Kroc Foundation in Chicago to support medical research, his wife took giving even more seriously
my dad gave the salvation army $1 million once, $1 to each of three other national charities. it wasn't his money to distribute, it was the government's, but it pleased him that for once government money was being allocated the way it should be.

it makes me wish i had a lot of money to give away. first i'd have to have a lot of money, which would also be nice.

- tamara jenkins, writer-director of slums of beverly hills, is going to be my honors examiner. for you non-honors-program-swatties, that means my senior year will culminate in an intense discussion with her about my screenplay thesis. she will read and then grade my thesis. considering that slums is the most authentic, effective film about an adolescent female, this is (a) intimidating, and (b) um, fucking amazing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

planning my last semester

how about:

- film theory & culture (req. seminar, only 1 credit, w/ patty)
- film production workshop (hands-on camera experience)
- VAMPIRES in film, lit, and music (!!)
- olde english (learning the lang, man)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

die bold!

swarthmore makes it into the new york times, and not in reference to its football team! the article is in the business section, which sucks a little, but it's also FIVE PAGES LONG. and, if i may say so myself, sympathetic toward the students involved.
�It�s very different from the way that Diebold has been doing things.� Mr. Rubin, who has received a cease-and-desist notice from Diebold because of his research, said, �The solution is to stop selling insecure voting machines and not to continue threatening students who are only trying to protect our democracy.�
that's right! tell 'em! democracy!

i'm feelin peppery cuz i just saw the one-and-only blacklisted american film, salt of the earth (1954). it deals with so many issues that it's hard to know which straw broke the projectionist's back: the mexican-americans demanding equality? the women demanding respect from their men? the workers standing up to the evil white mining bosses? the fact that the film was made by a member of the infamous hollywood 10?

the dvd case says it was the only american film to be shown in china for fifteen years, which probably makes it the most watched movie of all time. it's funny: of the messages in the film, many of which are revolutionary, especially for 1954 (!!), the one that comes across least strongly to me is communism. it's about workers' rights and the power of unions, but not in a What Would Mother Russia Do? kind of way.

Monday, November 03, 2003

how to teach the worst workshop in history

[censored out of worry/wisdom. if you want to see the full text, you can find it as a friends-only entry on my lj. if you REALLY WANT to see it and don't have a damn lj, leave a comment and i'll email you the entry.]
november and november and november ...

usually november is one of those months where depression claims me, like february. by "usually" i mean "habitually," at least here. the past three years i've gotten beaten down by november, by assassins or paranoia or plain old american malaise.

come to think of it, novembers in high skool were never too hot. one november i fought with my best friend on and off and passionately all month, culminating in a letter that went on longer than the month itself that i wrote over thanksgiving weekend at my cousins' house in westchester.
another november -- november 19th, to be exact -- i asked out a male friend of mine over the phone. he laughed and said no. later, when he realized i hadn't been joking, he apologized to me, chagrined.

yeah, november. up to no good.

the weather hints otherwise, to the point where i'm not sure what to believe. the store i wanted to go to today was closed. the movie i saw was mediocre. i missed my train by three minutes. the next movie i saw was mediocre too. none of it made me sad, though, ameoliorated as it was by company, the afore-mentioned weather, and frank o'hara's lunch poems.

the smartest course of action seems to be, Stay low, don't try anything risky, don't play assassins, don't give in to the feeling that your friends have stopped liking you, and enjoy the unseasonable warmth.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

it feels like june!

or at least may. it's AMAZING. i almost regret not getting up til 2. almost.

at around 2 last night my body had definitely had enough. it was enough of a rough week (what with my exorcist-type relationship with the toilet that one morning, and the two nights made possible by NyQuil) that even though i was feeling up to celebrating halloween by halloween, i reached my tolerance early-ish. this made an unfortunate shivery walk back to my dorm from ross-n-reb-n-ian's place.

but the party at ross-n-reb-n-ian's place was largely delightful. my costume went over well. the glasses, as it turned out, MADE the costume: what's a nerdy half-earnest superhero without glasses? i carried around a vinnie's tampon case -- black and red, it matched the rest of me: red stockings, topped with red'n'black thigh-high socks, my red'n'black velvet suit, a red'n'black tablecloth cum cape -- filled with Consciousness Raising slogans.

when people asked who i was, i presented them with a notecard that read something along the lines of "What would bell hooks do?" or "Look at your vagina in a mirror!" with the exception of one person who merely Looked at me, as though to say, What, do you think you're funny?, it was a hit.

terrific costumes abounded. reb made a frighteningly accurate droog. kross flitted around as a neon bug man. we had 2 greek philosophers, several characters from harry potter including a basilisk, donatella versace, charlie chaplin, buffy and willow, AND, my favorite, little adam as eminem.