Books are going back to the library, baby

I’m a little sheepish about the fact that I chipped away at John Le Carré’s A Perfect Spy for…let’s see…two months and even got 3/4 of the way to the end before throwing in the towel. I should have seen the signs much sooner that I was wasting my precious reading time with The English! The Americans (ugh, no class, those Americans)! The wives and their prattle! The Czechs! What’s the deal with Pym anyhow - is he running away because he’s sad about his father or because he’s been double-crossing the English and spying for the Czechs, or has be been double-crossing the Czechs the whole time, or is he really only loyal to the one Czech guy, the father-figure who loved him the way his asshole of a real father never could? Magnus Pym writes through all of this, addressing himself to his own son, but is he really a reliable narrator? WELL? IS HE?

Read More

Go Ahead and Love Something an Embarrassing Amount: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in the age of the Male Glance

I finally managed to write a thing about what I consider the best show on TV right now. And I did it without spoilers! Even though it’s in its final season and it just keeps getting better, and even though I would love to write about what’s happening right now, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend had the goods starting with Season 1, Episode 1. It knew exactly what it was doing the whole time, and while we were busy laughing at its near-constant jokes, it was setting itself (and us) up to become a masterful exploration of mental illness and the damage people are coping with in their lives from a joyfully feminist perspective. It’s still really, really funny, too. But the point is, if you haven't seen the whole series, or any of the series, this essay was written for you.

Read More

The post-Frozen utopia and the feelings it left behind

The Frozen aesthetic is powerful, and it should come as no surprise that Disney would package and sell its sparkly ice-castle exterior while conveniently ignoring its turbulent and emotional insides. Enter the sequels, the spin-offs, the Frozen expanded universe, courtesy of the Frozen industrial complex. Elsa and Anna having a carefree slumber party in Frozen: Ghost Hunt makes me think to myself, “do you people remember anything about the actual movie you made?” More likely, what you’re going to have is two women who will need some serious time to rebuild their relationship after a couple of decades of forced emotional distance! I mean, really! Before slumber parties, let’s see the one where Elsa and Anna go to family therapy, maybe. I don’t know how you package that and sell it to a three-year-old, but wouldn’t anyone like to try?

Read More

Go ahead and Love Something an Embarrassing Amount: The Gang's Philadelphia gets rainy for a change

I spent many years not particularly liking It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, for reasons I could rarely explain very well. It was grating, and intense, and I just didn’t get it (although I am sure I never admitted that last part). I eventually gave it more of a chance and grew quite fond of it, finding myself at times fascinated by it, but I would never have said I truly loved it. With this episode, I am Sunny’s forever. What happens at the end of Season 13 makes me retroactively love the show’s entire run in a way that I never could before.

Read More

She Dissents

Recently, we’ve received lots of beautiful books containing stories of amazing women in the world: Ada Lovelace, Joyce Chen, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just to name a few. Ruth is the clear favorite, though. In I Dissent, Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley have created a compelling and enriching narrative of RBG’s life in picture-book form. It is a serious book, and assumes seriousness on the part of its readers. It’s been around for several months now, and Ros seems to periodically remember that it’s there and subsequently request that it be read to her multiple times a day for a while, before getting distracted by some other (usually inferior) book.

Read More

Go ahead and love something an embarrassing amount, Vol. V: Lightness and its meaning

The world is an objectively heavy place to live in right now, and this has paradoxically become almost routine. As Sarah Koenig put it in the fifth episode of Serial’s third season, “‘what are you going to do’ starts to feel like an answer, rather than an urgent question.” But even when you do pose it as a question…what are you going to do? If you are so weighed down by the heaviness of the world at every moment, how will you ever see the ways in which you can engage with it? Italo Calvino means, I think, for us to stop thinking of literature as an escape or a frivolous pursuit and to reframe it, instead, as an engine for creative and flexible thinking.

Read More