’80s movies postscripts

Say Anything
Diane Court arrives in England and discovers men with accents. She starts looking sidelong at Lloyd, who’s always drinking lager and shuffling around in his trench coat and asking why she has to study so much. Eventually she and Nigel go public, and while she’s worried an American scholar marrying an English poet might be a little too Ted Hughes/Sylvia Plath-y, she can’t resist. Alas, she is no longer afraid of flying.

Sixteen Candles
Jake sleeps with Samantha and then two weeks later is like, Sorry, I think I made a mistake? I like this other girl? Samantha’s grandmother visits and gives her a cigarette to calm her nerves. Samantha dies of cancer at age 50. 

Some Kind of Wonderful
Keith realizes he really does love Amanda Jones and asks Watts for the earrings back. Watts beats him with her drumstick. Keith is suddenly this disfigured guy with a very unfortunate skull deformity and Cher as his mom.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron go away to college—Illinois State, Yale, and USC, respectively. Even a state school doesn’t tolerate Ferris’s bullshit, and at the age of 20 he moves back to his parents’ house, where out of sheer misery and self-disgust (and a failed stint on Wellbutrin) he drowns himself in the bathtub. No one bothers him for days because they think he’s faking it. Cameron and Sloane come to the funeral but don’t recognize each other.

Can’t Buy Me Love
Ronald Miller grows up to be a successful surgeon and no one can believe how good-looking he got. Cindy Mancini works at Rave.

Less Than Zero
Clay and Blair are married and live in Scarsdale. They find pot in their teen daughter’s room and ground her for three weeks. Their Shih Tzu is named Julian.

Pretty in Pink
Andie regrets going to her senior prom because she’d rather be the kind of girl who was too cool for prom than be the kind of girl fairy tales happen to. 

My Regrettable Sleep Aid

Better than Ambien: Tinkers. I never ever give up on books. If I start one I finish it, because I think that no matter the book, there’s something to learn, whether it’s simply how to be a better writer; or some strange fact, like the status of dogs in Uzbekistan; or a history lesson, such as poverty in nineteenth-century France—you get the idea. 

But dear, dear Tinkers. You won the Pulitzer Prize! And you are so delightfully written. And I have learned much about the mechanics of clocks. Yet I cannot pick you up and read three pages without dozing. Do I give up on you? I promised I wouldn’t; I even slept on this decision! Then this morning I decisively deleted you from my Goodreads—quick, so I couldn’t change my mind. Adieu, my delightful, boxy little hypnotic. 

re: http://gawker.com/5972454/journalism-is-not-narcissism

I think Hamilton’s last sentence is a terrible argument: “The real tragedy of journalism-as-narcissism is not the general pettiness of the stories it produces; it is the other, better stories that never get produced as a result.” But it’s ridiculous to assume that Elizabeth Wurtzel or Lena Dunham might have produced some Pulitzer Prize–winning narrative on, say, civil war in Syria. Or maybe they could have, but they shouldn’t be faulted because they chose to write memoir. Plus, the serious reporting that Hamilton refers to is still being produced—just in other outlets. And what defines a “better” story? Is a story always “better” just because it shows some gravity? Some “better” life experience? 

That said, it does break my heart a little when some kid with a Tumblr gets a book contract because she overshared—and not because she’s truly talented. Or when someone on xojane writes about her pimple. But there’s good memoir out there. And if we’re gonna find it, we should encourage people to tell their stories, even if we have to sort through the slush pile of the Internet. The real tragedy is when we discourage storytelling, no matter how “bad” it might be. You never know what may turn out to be good. 

Dubious Career Advice from eHow.com

How to Make a Living With Macadamia Nuts

“Whether you start this business because you love the nuts or because you have a cheap source of them, plan carefully and you can succeed.”

How to Make and Sell Gold Teeth

“With a little start-up capital and the willingness to market yourself as a craftsman, you too can profit from the popularity of grills.”

How to Know If You Are a Psychic

“There are Phone Psychics, Personal Psychics, TV Psychics, Pet Psychics, Psychics that are Pet Detectives and many many more.”

How to Make a Living Finding Golfballs

“While individual earnings may vary greatly, there is no doubt one can make money by retrieving and selling lost golf balls.”

How to Open an Ibogaine Clinic in Mexico

“As of yet, Ibogaine treatment is not authorized in the United States, and is still being researched for its effectiveness.”

How to Become a Rapper in 6 Months

“Just remember if your good it’ll show, if you stink it’ll show even more but at least you can say you tried and when its all said and done if someone ask you have you ever took a chance on something you can reply Yeeeeah Boyeeeee!”

How to Make a Living by Prospecting for Gold

“While gold prospecting found a peak during the early 1900s, it is still more than possible to make a living off of finding gold.”

As you can tell, I love content farms. 

This Is Me Being Service-y: My Favorite (Roman) Things

This was my second time in Italy and I can now say with certainty that my least favorite thing about the country is its lack of queues. At the coffee bar there is no definite line and this disturbs my sense of order. In America I would be yelling if a woman cut in front of me, but in Italy I can only shame myself for not being quick or wise enough to cut in front of her, and this makes me sad. So I accept my lowly spot—my own fault, after all—and vow to push over the next person who butts in front.

Two years ago I bummed around northern Italy alone, but this time, in Rome, I was lucky enough to be with two friends. Also fortunate: I discovered I love a good macchiato, even if I have to wait in “line.” Here are some other favorites:

Ristochicco, Pio Borgo, 186
Escorted by a deacon studying at the Vatican, we dined at Ristochicco after a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. I ordered what I think was called a crostina; it was cheese and tomatoes and greens on thick bread, which sounds rather simple, but it was delicious and the best thing I ate in Rome. We sat and talked for hours over wine, and then an after-dinner drink whose name I don’t recall, and then espresso. An ideal dinner.   

Ristorante Pepita, Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 140/A
After walking around on New Year’s Eve, we discovered that most restaurants are “chiuso,” or closed. (Apparently Romans prefer to spend NYE with their family or at a friend’s apartment, and don’t celebrate the American tradition of going out.) Pepita had a special menu for the evening—80 euros each!—but our waitress mercifully let us order from the regular (and much less expensive) menu. I had the pesto linguini, which was exceptionally tasty. Plus, there was karaoke! On the back patio, which is heated by lamps, a DJ played songs and scouted for singers in the small crowd. It was hilarious, it was charming, and it was the most fun I’ve had on a recent New Year’s Eve.

Cul de Sac, Piazza di Pasquino, 73
Cul de Sac is all about sharing. Order a bottle from the extensive wine list, select some cheeses, and devour the free bread. We also sampled the eggplant (tastes better than it looks). Cul de Sac is near the Piazza Navona, which hosts a carnivalesque Christmas market during the holidays. There are musicians and food stalls and even a carousel.

Trastevere is a neighborhood that used to be gritty (or so they say) but now is coolly hip, and I expected to hate it. People who love Trastevere seemed to me like those tourists who visit NYC and then go home and tell their friends about this great little neighborhood called Williamsburg, and it’s like, “Oh, really? No one’s heard of that.” But I liked Trastevere. I especially enjoyed window-shopping in its boutiques, like the Chihuly-esque Vetro Soffiato, Via Della Scala, 11, and La Via Della Seta, Piazza di San Giovanni Della Malva, 16, a haven for handmade arts. My friends and I had eaten lunch near the Gianicolo Hill, at Carpe Diem, Via San Pancrazio, 3, and then wandered down streets and staircases into prime Trastevere. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Freni e Frizioni, Via del Politeama, 4
If you only have enough dinero to buy a drink but no food, head to this aperitivo bar, housed in a former mechanics garage. The night we were there they had a good spread of Indian food up for grabs.

Galleria Borghese and Villa Borghese
It would be wrong to leave out the Galleria Borghese, an exceptional art museum that houses the stunning Bernini sculpture “Apollo and Daphne,” which I could stare at for hours. The detail of Daphne’s hands and feet transforming into laurel branches is mesmerizing. I could have sworn the sculpture moved; it was that fluid.

After the museum, we sauntered through the Villa Borghese, which was developed as a park in the seventeenth century but not open to the public until the early 1900s. We strolled down the wide pathways and gawked at the loveliness around us. We eventually came to the end of a pathway and decided to cut across the lawn. We approached a dandelion-esque tree, large and fluffy and welcoming. As we neared its trunk we looked down and were surrounded—by used condoms. To the left, to the right, in front of us; we’d even unwittingly crossed a sea of condoms to get where we were. Well, that’s amore. 

I meant to post this last month, but I neglected to, and so I’d just like to say, if you are ever considering flying Air Europa, just don’t. Don’t do it. The story I have to tell is exhausting, and while I’m sure it pales in comparison to other airline horror stories, it was enough that I never want to fly them ever again. They are not good.

The one good thing I can say about them is that after your flight leaves six hours late, and after you miss your connecting flight because the original flight was one-quarter of a day late, and after you wait in three lines for more than an hour trying to figure out what to do, they will put you up in a very nice hotel. It will be in the middle of nowhere and have a creepy elegance to it, but it will be very nice.

Seriously, though, just don’t get into that situation in the first place.

I was watching the BBC miniseries of Brideshead Revisited and thinking about how I couldn’t possibly have picked up on everything in my first reading of the novel. There’s so much beauty in there; it begs to be read again. But that got me thinking of the other books I should reread too.

So, a list of novels I would like to reread to squeeze out every last ounce of meaning:

Brideshead Revisited
Wuthering Heights
Lithium for Medea
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Play It As It Lays
The End of the Affair
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Madame Bovary
Jude the Obscure

I’ve reread parts of some of these books, sure. But the only book that I can promise you I’ve definitely read twice is To the Lighthouse. And that opened up a whole new world. It was like reading a different book, the second time around. Have I been missing out? Do our favorite novels demand a second reading?

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

— Hemingway

Hello, handsomes. This image makes me want to be a Flyte.

Hello, handsomes. This image makes me want to be a Flyte.

I recently had to take the GRE, and I did pretty shitty on the math portion. This was expected, and I’m not too bothered by it. However, it got me thinking. Why can’t we have specialized math sections for math-impaired individuals? I present my version: Copy Editor Math.

1. Susan’s daughter, Betty, eats seven pears on Monday and three on Tuesday. How many daughters does Susan have?
2 or more
Cannot be determined

2. Marge’s son Donald sleeps in a tepee that is 16 feet wide and 9 feet tall. Is Donald an only child?
Cannot be determined

3. Hungry Marcus orders four entrees but eats only 75 percent of them. Ravenous Lily orders six entrees but sends one-third back to the kitchen. How many accents aigus are missing from the previous two sentences?
None. Everyone knows they’re missing accents graves

4. Traveling Evelyn has saved $1,276 for one week in Paris, $738 for one week in Bamako, and $2,098 for one week in Mumbai. How much money has she saved?
Three week’s worth
Three weeks’ worth
Three weeks worth

5. Joe’s sister Caroline said she was going to jump off the roof. If Caroline’s a goner, how many siblings will Joe have left?
2 or more
Cannot be determined

Looking for an old clip, I googled myself and found: “Recipes From New York Chefs—Gin, Marti Trgovich.” I’m not sure if this is charming (gin and I get along delightfully) or creepy (someone is going to roast me with gin).

Love, love, love the idea of having a circular table, similar to the kind you might see in a child’s library, in the center of the living room. A great excuse to spread out books and keep things messy. Via sfgirlbybay

Love, love, love the idea of having a circular table, similar to the kind you might see in a child’s library, in the center of the living room. A great excuse to spread out books and keep things messy. Via sfgirlbybay

Today I went to the Met to see the exhibit Art and Love in Renaissance Italy. It exceeded my expectations, fusing art, history, and literature; visually, it was even more stimulating than I had expected. Plus, it had an unexpected sense of humor—who knew that fifteenth-century lovers found fruits and veggies so erotically humorous?

One of the most interesting items was a comb (part of a bride’s trousseau) painted with birds and a flaming heart—interesting to me, if only because poets of the time reportedly used the comb as a metaphor for desired intimacy. The exhibit was full of little literary tidbits like this, often referencing that famous sonnet-spinner Petrarch and his Triumphs. In fact, the gorgeous and allegorical “Combat of Love and Chastity" was inspired by the latter.

I somehow had never seen (or just didn’t remember) Pollaiuolo’s gorgeous “Apollo and Daphne,” pictured. (Daphne, of course, was transformed into a laurel tree after she begged to be freed from Apollo’s unwanted advances.) There’s something so smug, so complacent in her face—because she knows he can’t have her now, or because she doesn’t have to run anymore? This piece isn’t representative of the collection necessarily, but you can see other pieces on the Met’s site. Petrarch, too, was inspired by the myth of Apollo and Daphne and used a laurel tree as a symbol for unattainable love. (Totally random side note: Petrarch loved someone named Laura, which makes me think more of an ’80s mall rat, not a Renaissance muse. Regardless, I’m sure she was lovely. And hopefully didn’t have hairsprayed bangs.)

One room in the exhibit was devoted to widows. Apparently it was commonplace to have one’s portrait painted as a widow—clothed in black and looking somber, of course. I couldn’t decide what the modern equivalent for this might be, or if there is one. It seemed to be done out of respect. In fact, something about it overwhelmed me with the idea that widows were not only expected to grieve, but they had a responsibility to grieve. I assumed, then, that remarriage was frowned upon, but a quick Google book search says that it was actually quite common.

And, so, an excellent and highly recommended exhibit! See it. It’ll also teach you how to say in Italian: “I give you my hand/Give me the ring.” Not exactly useful, but if you like saying bossy things in foreign languages, totally for you.

I love Carrie Fisher for two reasons. First, she was in Star Wars, one of the greatest films of all time, and—even better—she got to play Princess Leia. Lucky gal.

Second, as she ages, she’s taken on this crazy-fun-old-aunt persona, which I absolutely adore. She’s funny and wise, and that’s why I asked for (and received!) her new book, Wishful Drinking, for Christmas. The cover, by the way, is genius.

The book itself is only slightly longer than a really long magazine article, and it’s pretty evident that it blossomed from her one-woman show. As many reviewers have criticized, it’s more a collection of one-liners than an in-depth memoir. That didn’t bother me so much in this instance, and I rather enjoyed the book. Fisher is witty and revealing and self-deprecating and everything else we expect her to be.

However (total dork alert), the copy errors troubled me! As I was reading it (on vacation in south Florida), I took notes on errors I found. (Shame, Simon & Schuster!) Of course, I lost that napkin somewhere between Fort Myers and New York. So here are two sentences that bothered me.

  • Page 104, misuse of em dashes: “The first use of the word was in 1382—so I suppose prior to that there was either no way to put a name to one’s difficulties—or everyone lived in a world of different levels of inconvenience.”
  • Page 121, first comma should be deleted: “Without the substances, I had used to distort and mask my symptoms, it was now all too clear that I was a bona fide, wild-ride manic-depressive.”

I had written down a few more examples, of course, but what do they matter? I’m probably the type of person who is preoccupied with these trivial details and would do better in life to overlook such things (except at work, for obvious reasons). If Ms. Fisher were here, she’d probably just say, “Oh, Jesus Christ, Marti,” and roll her eyes. I don’t blame her.

Sunday was the Brooklyn Book Festival, and I had Joan Didion on the brain. She was speaking on a political panel at 5 p.m., and since I’d never seen her speak before, I made sure to get in line early for the free tickets, which went quite fast. Then of course there was the line to get into the actual event, below, which turned out not to be so bad either.

Robert Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books, was somewhat funny because he insisted that the four panelists—Didion, Mark Danner, Ronald Dworkin, and Darryl Pinckney—issue a response regarding the presidential election alphabetically. I had expected more of a heated debate format among the four, but I enjoyed it anyway. Didion read a brief essay about story or narrative and how we, as a culture, delight in the “story” of Sarah Palin or the “story” of Barack Obama or John McCain, while suggesting that stories do nothing but “downplay the potential for trouble.” In other words, it’s easy to go on about narratives, but what are the real issues at stake? What do stories conceal? Stories, too, contribute to our amnesia, or (I rather enjoy the term) “national coma,” and Didion offered the example that 70 percent of eighth graders in America cannot read at an eighth-grade level.

But this stat, too, is clouded by stories—like Sarah Palin’s rags-to-riches tall tale. She succeeded by working hard, and so can you! Even if you go to a shitty school where no one can read! Anyone who still believes that America is a meritocracy is completely deluded. But perhaps I digress.

I also attended a conversation between A.M. Homes, who wrote one of my favorite short stories, “Adults Alone,” and Richard Price, a novelist who also writes for TV and film. They digressed—like a lot—but it was nonetheless an entertaining chat, and it made me want to read some of Price’s work. I learned that David Foster Wallace had passed away a couple of days before—sad, sad, sad—when Nathaniel Rich attempted an apologetic eulogy before his reading. And I finished the evening, waiting in yet another line, for Joan Didion to sign my hardcover of The White Album. I was pretty nervous, so I didn’t say anything except the usual pleasantries—Hi there! Thank you so much!—but I suppose those words were sufficient. She probably just wanted to get out of there at that point. Hell, I did too.