Driving a cab (or just “driving cab,” as the drivers themselves call it) is one of those jobs that remains overwhelmingly dominated by men. There are women in the business, but they’re rare — I got a ride from one a few weeks ago and interviewed her on the spot about her job, as I do almost every driver I meet, and she claimed to be the only female cab driver she personally knew.
It’s also one of those unglamourous positions, like, say, front-line combat soldiers, men’s room attendants and restaurant dishwashers, about which almost no one discusses the patriarchal glass floor that women are having trouble descending below. It’s a shitty job, and a dangerous one, and I get the impression very few women are interested in taking it up. (more…)
(Backstage at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, photograph by Edward Burtynsky.)
In the sixth grade, I played Lysander in the Iles Elementary School’s presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was as professional a production as you’d imagine it to be. The fairies danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”; Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and I wore pyjamas (it was nighttime, you see, and we were very sleepy); and Christie Walden’s memorable Titania looked like a twelve-year-old cross between the Bride of Frankenstein and Diana Ross on the cover of Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
I wasn’t cut out to be an actor, and it was my second and final appearance on stage. (The year before, I’d played a senile mountie in a show about an old folks’ home. My job was to intermittently wander across the stage singing, “I love the North.” Video survives.) In fact, I’ve grown to vaguely dislike the theatre. I prefer my artifice in the form of anapests and enjambments, and I do not like being seated in a crowded room. In high school, I tried to avoid the theatre kids, and was largely successful. I went to one play in university, and only because a friend was playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, a role that I knew (from reading, not seeing) that I liked. While she was good, I enjoyed the version in my head better. (more…)
Like most kids worth their fluorescent slap bracelet and Air Jordan kicks, I can break out The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song on command. So the day Vivian Banks inexplicably morphed into another woman was a strange one indeed. (Unbeknownst to impressionable ten-year-old fans such as myself, the original Aunt Viv was too busy suing NBC for breach of contract to attend Will and Carlton’s graduation. Her double silently stepped in a few episodes later.) This wasn’t a case of a bad perm job; it was identity theft. And yet, the Banks residence didn’t seem to notice. I was spooked. (more…)
Christopher Goodwin at the Sunday Times of London laments “The sorry state of masculinity in American movies”:
Segel’s flaccid member looks pathetic and laughable, especially because it’s attached to a body that is doughy and pallid. It can’t seriously be accused of being capable of anything, let alone of breaking a taboo. So obviously devoid of sexual intent, it symbolises not so much his character’s abject emotional condition at his girlfriend’s rejection of him, but the sorry state of masculinity in American movies today. (more…)
My friend the Baronist recently loaned me the Simon Schama’s Power of Art DVDs. The BBC series, which first aired in 2006, crafts episodes around eight seminal works, combining biography, social history, and criticism to give a sense of what made each one significant during its time and what keeps it so today. I’ve thus far seen the ones dedicated to Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath (1601), Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa (1652), Rembrandt’s The Conspiracy of the Batavians Under Claudius Civilis (ca. 1666), David’s The Death of Marat (1793), and Turner’s Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On) (1840).*Update for all you completists: I’ve since seen the rest. Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Crows (1890), Picasso’s Guernica (1937), and Rothko’s Black on Maroon (1958), for scorekeeper-completists. All have been riveting, with the exception of the one on David, who, as a painter, makes for a great revolutionary.*The violent kind, not the artistic genius kind, in case that wasn’t clear.
Megan McArdle at The Atlantic points out the macabre reaction of the governor of Florida to the Supreme Court decision allowing resumption of the use of lethal injections for death-penalty executions. (Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he was “grateful that the Supreme Court rendered the decision that they did,” according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune.)
McArdle quotes at length from Camu’s The Plague, in a passage that has Tarrou relating his memories of seeing his father prosecute a capital case; focusing on the pathetic humanity of the criminal and the cold-blooded thirst for vengeance his father showed: (more…)
This week is the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Columbia University by Students for a Democratic Society, a group that makes today’s wildest student activists look like doe-eyed puppies. Whether you think the decline of confrontational politics is a mark of a) growing civility or b) growing apathy, the occasion deserves mention, especially as another political movement sweeps American campuses. For more, I highly recommend a look at this.
Are you sick to death of hearing about Twitter and not knowing what it is? Of feeling behind the times?
Here is a step-by-step Twitter video instruction guide presented by a pioneer lady. In just a few minutes you can be part of the modern era!
Are you ready for even more? You’d better be:
Behind the toilet isn’t usually the best place to look for treasure. But at the Kimnyong Maze Park, a “symbolic hedge maze” located just outside the fishing village of Kimnyong on Jeju’s northeast coast, that’s where you’ll find it. It comes in the form of one Frederic H. Dustin, the seventy-eight-year-old founder and proprietor of the park, who planted the first sapling for the maze with his own hands, and who happens to be the foreigner who’s lived in Korea independently longer than any other — a kind of Ur-waygookin who predates the explosion of the ESL industry by at least a couple decades, and therefore has a lot of interesting stories to share from the time before it was common for white people to enjoy eating fermented cabbage in sour hot pepper-and-fish paste. (more…)
Viewing Knocked Up as a fairy tale about a male damsel saved by a brave princess answers (even if it doesn’t excuse it from) its most frequent critique: that the female characters are humourless scolds, and not very well realized ones at that. Dana Stevens put that complaint forward at Slate way back when the movie was fresh, and Bridget brings it up in the comments on my earlier post:
The only problem I did have with Knocked Up was the utterly one-dimensional portrayal of the female characters. Sure, I know women like that, but then there are women like me, who are, you know … normal and stuff, and probably have more in common with the guys in that movie (I’m thinking of the poor beleaguered husband who plays fantasy baseball to escape the dull reality of his suburban life) than the women.
The thing is that it isn’t really a movie about gender relations, or about pregnancy. It’s a movie about one guy’s struggle to become (more of) a man. (more…)