The problem, I often find, with young “cool” male teachers of either high school English or “social studies” is that they get so much mileage out of being one of the few males in the profession that they develop a bit of a God complex, which, to be fair, is an affliction that high school teachers of either gender are susceptible to. But with dudes it’s worse.*
* This has been confirmed anecdotally by Friends in the Profession.
Anecdotally, and also by episodes of every teen drama on TV — the canonical example is MSCL episode 6, “The Substitute.” “Get out before it’s too late, Amanda.” [ … ] “It’s Angela.”
Hi. I’m Val and this is my tumblr. On it I will talk about my favorite thrift store finds, because I’m totally the girl who responds to offhand compliments with an annoying gleeful, “You like it? It only cost 5 bucks!”
Okay seriously you have to follow Val’s tumblr. She gets the weirdest shit at thrift stores and on Ebay. This bear tin!!!
Lately I have been a vegetarian, not a real one, precisely the kind of vegetarian I hated when I was a vegetarian — the kind who eats fish, and who doesn’t particularly care whether that fish comes wrapped in a crispy blanket that may or may not be prosciutto. But I haven’t been going out of my way to order or acquire any beef, chicken, pork, lamb, etc for the past few weeks — since circa those dramatically underdone Cooking the Books burgers that Jami and I speculated on-camera would poison us, basically — and I have been enjoying it on every front. I can look at adorable photos of farm animals without feeling guilty for the first time in 10 years, that’s nice. We are shooting another episode of Cooking the Books with Julie Powell next weekend though so I’m *pretty sure* my poseurish vegetarianism will meet its downfall then (her book is about learning how to be a butcher; she has promised to bring sausage stuffing equipment).
One fun aspect of my pseudovegetarian lifestyle is that I am having to dredge up recipes that have drifted out of my repertoire. This one surprised me by being totally great. It is a Mom Gould classic and I think the original recipe might have come from the booklet in the Cuisinart box. You do need a Cuisinart or other sort of pureeing device to make it.
1 lb pasta of your choosing (penne is a good shape)
1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends trimmed, blanched. Cut the stalks into inchlong pieces and reserve the tips separately.
chicken or vegetable stock, or pasta water
zest of one lemon
juice of half the lemon
good olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
smashed garlic (one or two cloves or more if you love garlic)
While making the sauce, cook the pasta in heavily salted water. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
Sweat the garlic a little in the good olive oil; don’t brown it. Add whatever liquid you’re using to the saute pan, bring to a simmer, then add the asparagus stalks. Let them get totally soft but not overcooked. Then put this mixture in your Cuisinart or puree it however you are going to manage to do that; get the texture totally uniform. Add the lemon juice and zest and kosher salt to taste. Toss the pasta with the sauce, the reserved asparagus tips, the grated parmesan, freshly ground pepper and a little splash of the good olive oil. If the sauce is not coating the pasta nicely you can loosen it up with a bit of the reserved pasta water.
This is a wonderful thing to eat in the winter if you can find even vaguely decent asparagus. It tastes so springlike that it might even deceive you for a second that it is not 17 degrees out. If there are leftovers don’t reheat them; the sauce will get weird. Instead eat them cold — this pasta is great (maybe even better) cold. (For breakfast.)
I don’t know if this is a “shouty” or “whispery” post because I’m using proper capitalization in tandem with run-on sentences, but I fell asleep at 10 because I was SO TIRED, and woke up at 4 because my land line was ringing with some oddball robot-beeping on the other end when I picked up instead of the news of a loved one’s death, so I had that going for me. Now I can’t etc. etc. and there’s so much iPad and State of the Union stuff clogging my Twitter and I care about neither right now, though Andrea Pelosi’s face is a thing of deep American beauty and maxi pad jokes are very Cathy Ladman’s gorgeous stand-up circa 1994. All I will say is that I’ve done a few interviews this week about “Le Book,” and if one more guy asks me how I think the people in my book will react to my writing about them, and was it revenge and did I use their real names and aren’t I worried, I might crack like Mink Stole in Desperate Living. Because, first of all, who am I, Babs Walters writing Audition? I am nobody who slept with anybody. There are no boldface names, just pseudonyms and other details I added to protect the characters in my stories after consulting with Penguin Legal and my own lawyer who is Jewish, by the way, in case you need his contact info. Important: It’s MY real name that’s going on this thing—I’m the one putting myself out there, in whatever cross hairs, looking the most like an idiot, if anything, or at least the most vulnerable and honest and ideally ridiculous because HEY EVERYBODY I AM DANCING AROUND AND TELLING JOKES A LOT IN BETWEEN THE STUFF THAT IS SAD. Meanwhile! Nobody protected me when I was in the thick of these situations; and look at John Edwards, or don’t, look at David Letterman, whom I have always IDOLIZED as a comedian, and who had to be told over the weekend between his glib announcement about doing “creepy things” and his apology to his wife and staff that he actually may have hurt some people and needed to apologize? Steph was the one fielding internet remarks about her “butter face” on TMZ and Dave was the one pulling in Hugh Grant interview ratings once his dabblings were forgotten and he was killing it, taking to the recent Late Night World War II hostility like a cat to sunshine. He should have protected her and Clinton should have done the same with his brunette matzo ball, I know ancient history, but come on, who’s the one with her last name forever used to describe (by hacks) a sexual act, and who’s the guy who has two thumbs and gets to live happily ever after in Chappaqua? My book is about me, A-DOY. The stories are self-portraits with other characters in them. Read together, they tell you sort of how and who I am, and it’s exposing and scary and I feel naked even though I’m in a one-piece on the cover and God Bless and keep Photoshop, by the way. But I “went there” (“Don’t GO there!”—The 90’s) because I knew that unless I did, it would be a shit read. And also because I have a good story to tell, and because Penguin paid me to tell it. Duh, I know, but also head scratch and things that make you go hmmm. So that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it and other things you should know tonight is that non-cinnamon flavor Puffins are just organic Corn Bran that will make you thirsty if you eat them plain, and that half a Xanax takes exactly one hour and 23 minutes to sink in.
Night, all. x
I am surprised by this every time it happens, too, even though it happens so often. Many dudes — and some ladies who have internalized dude values — hate it when women write honestly about sex. They get angry. They express their anger by feigning concern for the men these women have supposedly hurt, as if books are supposed to be produced under ethical conditions, like Murray’s chicken. I’m not sure why this is exactly; anyway too many reasons to get into in a blog post, especially a Tumblr reblog, probably. But I’m interested in finding out.
But yeah, women’s sexual honesty is very destabilizing to these dudes, so they tell the women that they are attention-whores, or just plain whores, and imply that they’re clearly out for revenge. However when male writers do the same thing we call them courageous and generally grant them an HBO series.
And that seems like a good note to go out on — I will be offline, totally, for five days, in a place where I hope to eat and love some things, the specifics of which I will keep to myself. I hope you liked our journey to the heart of my inner monologue, and if you didn’t, I’m sorry I chained you to your computer and forced you at gunpoint to read it. Oh wait, I didn’t do that, did I? So um, I guess I’m not sorry at all.
Considering your interest in astrology, I wonder, if you ever decided to have a child, would you consciously plan the conception in order for your baby to be a certain sign? Is that crazy? But also, which sign?
Is this Marisa? Ha.
I am going to sound like a complete loon but yeah, I have thought about this. Partially because my mom is a Virgo and I’m a Libra (with Aries moon and Aries rising) and obviously (OBVIOUSLY) this is the source of a lot of our personality clashes. She’s hyper-organized and great at planning, and I’m more chaotic, striving for a balance that’s always slightly off.
That said, though, I think I’d take my chances with my own (hugely hypothetical) child. My mom and I learn a ton constantly by having to deal with someone so constitutionally different from ourselves and that seems like an important part of what you’re signing on for, as a parent. Also because of the slim outside chance that astrology is hokum.
OH! But: which sign … I get along with Taurus, Cancer, Pisces, and other Libras almost always. Aries would be intense but I could handle it.
What are some songs that you would love to sing at karaoke, but are never ever ever in karaoke machines?
Oh my god, such a great question. F Mac, “Angel!” I would not be good at it, but I’d just really love to sing it. Dusty Springfield, “What Do You Do When Love Dies.” They never have anything from the Into the Woods soundtrack except “Children Will Listen,” and, zzzzz. I think “Moments in the Woods” would kind of kill.
Luckily a great solution to this problem actually exists at Baby Grand, where they have Live Acoustic Karaoke once a month with Brandon Patton. The song list is a little Shins-heavy but Brandon can learn things fast. I have sung “Anti-Pleasure Dissertation” (no one really “got it”) and, much more gratifyingly, “Flower” with the entire rest of the bar singing the “Ehhvry-time-Iiii-Seeee-Yooour-Faaace” backup part. It was probably one of the peak moments of my life.
What is the cutest animal link on the internet, in your opinion?
I’m still not over Rich Fourfour’s cat Winston. I got to meet him once and it was everything I had dreamed of and more. I also have touched two out of three of Matthew Gallaway's cats. I'm very blessed in this regard.
Hey, that Ellen Willis piece you posted was so smart (thanks for typing out the passage). Read anything else lately that’s that smart?
Nothing is as smart as Ellen Willis basically. But I am so excited about books lately. I loved Sam Lipsyte’s novel “The Ask.” It comes out soon (March 2). I also loved Adam Haslett’s novel “Union Atlantic;” it comes out even sooner (Feb 9). I keep Julie Klausner’s book nearby and read a little chunk of it whenever I need to LOL. Marisa’s book “Girl Power" made me totally rethink the way I’d thought about the 90s while they were, you know, actually happening; it’s also a great read. I am reading "When Everything Changed" by Gail Collins right now and really digging it; it’s unexpectedly pageturny, like, "What will HAPPEN to Women?" (even though you already basically know). I also recently got obsessed with a writer whose books are mostly OP, an early 20th century compulsive-memoirist named Mary MacLane. She is a blogger, essentially. Her books "The Mary MacLane Story" but even moreso "I, Mary MacLane" (I know, right?) are way overdue for the NYRB reissue treatment. I love them.
In an odd reversal of internet-fame fortunes, don’t you think you may now be too good for Gessen? In all seriousness, these days you come off as a fresher & more nuanced thinker than does the n+1 brand.
I had never thought of it that way but whoa, you are so correct. Please inform me of your location so I can immediately start going out with you instead.
Ok but seriously, dear questioner, how familiar are you with n+1, beyond having a sense of how nuanced of a thinker its “brand” is?
I ask mostly because until relatively recently I had never read the magazine. I knew of “n+1” only as that group of guys who posed for that annoying photo one time, and they had a reputation as ladies’ men, and also one of them had written a novel. Doree and Choire had read the magazine, though, and so I adopted their opinion, or what I thought was their opinion, uncritically. I was busy! There was so much information to slot into little categories all the time! And I could barely read anything longer than the back of a cereal box by that point, anyway, because my attention span had become so deformed by constant Internet consumption, digestion, and regurgitation.
Later on, though, I was so, so unemployed and sitting around my apartment. At some point Keith had sent a box of back issues to the office and I’d taken a few of them home. I was just sitting there watching like 10 episodes of the Sopranos in a row on HBO On Demand and chainsmoking and eating Frosted Mini-Wheats (because they were the only thing I could stand to eat for some reason) so it’s not like I was busy.
I read Mark Greif’s essays about Radiohead and exercise and food. I read Elif Batuman’s essay about Isaac Babel and the inherent ridiculousness of grad school. I read Keith’s essay about money. I read Marco Roth’s essay about last cigarettes. I was surprised not to find any of these things pretentious at all. The actual purveyor of pretentiousness, I was ashamed to admit to myself, was the person who had pretended to have read these things, and to have found them pretentious.
I’m not saying I am 100% on board with every n+1-related thing that has ever happened (what magazine could anyone say that about? Well, besides Sassy. Real Sassy, not latter-day zombie Sassy.) But in general n+1 is just this excellent magazine that publishes long, interesting articles and essays about, and reviews of, things I am generally already thinking about. And nothing else does, really. Freshness and nuance aside, I think maybe you should give n+1 a shot. Subscriptions are cheap.
I live in rural Indiana and the most exotic grocery store around is a Wal-Mart up the road in a corn field. Can you recommend an appropriately savory & perhaps exotic Indiana via Wal-Mart meal?
Hi! Thank you for not asking why Nick Denton has/had it in for me. (Questioners: um, does he not have a formspring.me page of his own? Because I’m not a mindreader.)
To answer your question I started by perusing the Wal-Mart website and found that their grocery selection is sort of … good? In fact, I got so hungry looking at their olive page that I had to turn away from my screen and go make dinner. I made salmon with the leftover white miso compound butter from New Year’s and baby brussels sprouts sauteed with some horseradish mustard. Yum. I’m eating it as I type this.
So in New York we get to fetishize all this Greenmarket produce but I’m sure there is way better produce, at least during the summer, at various farmstands near you, right? And even if there isn’t, one important thing for everyone to remember is that canned and frozen, but especially frozen, vegetables are secretly really good. (And good for you, not that TIATIL ever concerns itself seriously with nutrition.)
Nigella Lawson has a recipe for pea soup that is, essentially, a bag of frozen peas cooked til tender in vegetable stock then pureed with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (Wal-Mart stocks it, I checked). You serve it with a splash of olive oil (ditto) and a sprinkle of Parmesan. It’s easy and even seems vaguely fancy, and you can make it anywhere.
A slightly trashier soup that you can make with ingredients found in most convenience stores, which I ate often when I lived in Nowhere, Ohio for two years, is one can of a cream-style soup (like cream of asparagus, celery, mushroom or, best, potato) combined with one can of creamed corn, plus red pepper flakes. Heat and serve. Corn chowder!
Neither of those are very exotic but exotic is not really my thing, most of the time. I just like eating. Salty, sweet, spicy, pickled or fatty things especially.
I literally meant you can continue eating the Korean things for several days. Not like “FOR DAYS” although that is a really good catchphrase. But I am trying not to let Internet things infect me. Like: ALL CAPSness, repeattttiing letterrrrrrsssss for emphasissssss, the word “bros,” “scare quotes” that “defuse” something’s “realness” while still, you know, “saying it.” I am trying not to get seduced by these patois-memes but it’s really hard. TWSS.
Did you know that you can get little plastic tubs of all the things they give you at the beginning of a Korean meal, like crunchy seasoned bean sprouts, sesame spinach and red stewed tofu, at that Korean grocery store on 32nd btwn Broadway and 5th, for like $2 each, and then eat them for days whenever you are hungry? True story.
How bad do anticipate Gould’s book will be? Please be honest. How many years do you think it will take the publisher to earn back it’s advance?
I finished it!
I’m still gathering my thoughts on what to say about it. I promised to sit on it for a while, but I think I can say this: The first thing that most people will notice is how much it leaves the media drama off the table. There’s notably little about Gawker, Gessen isn’t ever actually mentioned, the NYT Mag article is discussed only in passing, not a word about Julia. This was initially disappointing, but it’s actually much better this way. In a weird way, it probably took courage to leave that stuff alone. And it gives Emily a much better chance at having a long-term writing career.
It’s nice of you to say so, but actually it did not “take courage” to leave that stuff alone. I just don’t care about that stuff enough to write a book about it. So I didn’t! Rex, I admire a lot of things about you (your discretion is not one of them) but you are maybe one of about ten people in the world who will be disappointed, even if only “initially,” by this.
in fanatical housecleaning — the kind where you’re rummaging through closets, tearing open year-old junkmail, taking multiple loads of paper-filled trashbags down to the curb, and wondering whether you qualify as a Hoarder for hanging onto every ID you’ve ever been issued and every CD you’ve ever owned, though none of them are actually relevant to your daily life — that I forgot to do anything about dinner and now I’m eating a wedge of brie like it’s an apple. Alternating bites with an actual apple.
Things I ate that are super pathetic, I wonder if that tumblr is taken.
Ruth came over for dinner after her first shift at the Park Slope Food Coop where, six months after submitting her application, she is now a member. She brought cheese, high-gravity beer, and ice cream, all bought at a deep discount, and regaled me with tales of interaction with a fellow box-unloader who lives with with like ten housemates and a kombucha culture in Ditmas Park. The more Ruth described this person the more it seemed like an Agatha Christie level mystery as to how she is currently in Brooklyn and not at Burning Man.
I made a vegetarian meal with our winter CSA vegetables: spinach salad with quick-pickled red onions and feta, and roasted vegetables. I roasted these mini-beets they keep giving us in the CSA box, but even though I cut off all the skin, they still tasted like dirt. Poison dirt. Winter CSA might be a fail, as the Internet puts it.
A couple of high-gravity beers into our dinner Ruth mentioned that she had not yet had time to watch an Internet video I sent her this week, so we rectified that. It was “Badder Romance,” the shot-by-shot Lady Gaga homage made by enterprising wonderful teenagers. We loled continuously throughout it. “It gets even better,” I said at one point. “I hope not, because if it does I might wet my pants,” Ruth said. It did get even better but Ruth maintained continence. This kicked off a YouTube Party that included the real Bad Romance video, then the first little bit of the Ke$ha video so that Ruth could compare it to this Justice song which it is just exactly like, and then Ruth said “I’ve never heard “Party In The USA” but I bet I’d like it better than this song” and we tested that theory and it proved untrue. Then Ruth was like “I can’t believe her dad is Billy Ray Cyrus” and I was like “Really? I totally can believe that,” and then we watched the Achy Breaky Heart video, which contains shocking intensity and sweaty concert footage, as though BRC was Bruce Springsteen or something. We talked about how he’s not a good singer because he sings basically like how I sing when I’m imitating a man (true). Then while Ruth moaned about the terrible middle school gym class flashbacks this all was bringing up, I looked up funny names of country line dances on Wikipedia and found out that both the Time Warp and the Soulja Boy are considered line dances. Then we watched videos of people’s moms doing the Soulja Boy dance. Then we watched both of this week’s episodes of 30 Rock even though Ruth had already seen them.
We’re pretty cool, is basically what I’m trying to say.
"People who are not hungry are not obsessed with food."
For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about how youngish famous American straight white male writers think and write about sex, and why it is that we care so much about how they do these things, because of this awkardly-premised but thought-provoking Katie Roiphe essay in the NYTBR. This post may seem to be outside the declared purview of this Tumblr. But if you consider that eating is a displacement activity then it turns out this blog is latently all about sex. Hot, right? Anyway, I promise that we will be back to our regularly scheduled kittypix and cell phone photos of half-eaten sandwiches just as soon as I get this out of my system.
This = I realized today that no one is going to have a better response to the issues Roiphe raised than Ellen Willis did, in 1982. From ‘Toward A Feminist Sexual Revolution' (subscription [to JSTOR] only, I typed this out because it's just that important):
"The emphasis on sex that currently permeates our public life — especially the enormous demand for sexual advice and therapy — attests not to our sexual freedom but to our continuing sexual frustration. People who are not hungry are not obsessed with food.
It is in this context that we need to examine the male sexual pattern that feminists have protested — the emphasis on conquest and dominance, the tendency to abstract sex from love and social responsibility. Sexual liberalism has allowed many men to assert these patterns in ways that were once socially taboo, and to impose them on reluctant women. But to conclude from this fact that male sexual freedom is inherently oppressive is to make the uncritical assumption that men find predatory, solipsistic sexual relations satisfying and inherently preferable to sex with affection and mutuality. As I have noted, some feminists argue that male sexuality is naturally sadistic. Others grant that men’s predatory tendencies are a function of sexism, but assume that they are a simple, direct expression of men’s (excessive) freedom and power, the implication being that anyone who has the opportunity to dominate and use other people sexually will of course want to take advantage of it.
This assumption is open to serious question. If one pays attention to what men consciously or unwittingly reveal about their sexual attitudes — in their fiction and confessional writing (see: Portnoy’s Complaint and its epigoni), in their political polemics (see George Gilder’s Sexual Suicide), in sociological and psychological studies (see The Hite Report on Male Sexuality or Lillian Rubin’s Worlds of Pain), in everyday interaction with women — the picture that emerges is far more complicated and ambiguous. Most men, in fact, profess to want and need mutual sexual love, and often behave accordingly, though they have plenty of opportunity to do otherwise. Many men experience both tender and predatory sexual feelings, toward the same or different women, and find the contradiction bewildering and disturbing; others express enormous pain over their inability to combine sex with love. Often men’s impulses to coerce and degrade women seem to express not a confident assumption of dominance but a desire to retaliate for feelings of rejection, humiliation, and impotence: as many men see it, they need women sexually more than women need them, an intolerable imbalance of power. Furthermore, much male sexual behavior clearly reflects men’s irrational fears that loss of dominance means loss of maleness itself, that their choice is to “act like a man” or be castrated, embrace the role of oppressor or be degraded to the status of victim.
None of this is to deny men’s objective social power over women, their reluctance to give up that power, or their tendency to blame women for their unhappiness rather than recognize that their own oppressive behavior is largely responsible for women’s sexual diffidence. My point is only that the behavior that causes women so much grief evidently brings men very little joy; on the contrary, men appear to be consumed with sexual frustration, rage, and anxiety. With their compulsive assertions of power they continually sabotage their efforts to love and be loved. Such self-defeating behavior cannot, in any meaningful sense, be described as free. Rather it suggests that for all the unquestionable advantages men derive from “acting like a man” in a male-supremacist society, the price is repression and deformation of spontaneous sexual feeling.”
I can continue to type out the whole book, or you can buy it here.
The part of Us Weekly where a “celebrity nutritionist” with a new book out details an eating plan that will enable readers to “drop a dress size in one week” is a regular source, for me, of amusement/ predictable anger and sadness and concern for the magazine’s more impressionable readers. I hope no one actually follows these plans — sheer labor-intensiveness (“snack: 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt with one tbsp pumpkin puree and a dash of nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon”) seems like it would be a deterrent — but you never know. This week’s 1,200 calorie a day diet eliminates fat, carbs, and and non-disordered thinking. See the recipe for Tuesday’s “Lunch”:
"Veggies with chicken
Combine chopped celery, cucumbers, radish, endive, carrots and beets. Drizzle with balsamic. Top with 4 oz white-meat chicken (grilled) and 18 pistachios.”
Des: “That’s the dark side of feminism.” Charlotte: “What?” Des: “You have a kind of free pass to make any kind of wounding or derogatory comment you want.” Charlotte: “I am hardly a militant feminist.” Des: “No, you’re not. A militant feminist would be a lot fairer. It’s women like you whose attitudes to men are so dehumanizing.”
(My Mind Google timed out so I Google Googled it.)