SAGs 2012

You all will have to excuse me today. I am sick. Zoe is sick. In addition to being sick, I can’t seem to find a way to string more than five hours of sleep together. Like, for several nights now. And I know all you new parents out there are going, “I’d kill for five hours of sleep,” and listen, I swear, it gets better. It gets so much better that you start to question the sanity of ever having another baby. And then you think, but don’t children need siblings? Shouldn’t I for her sake have another one? And then you think, if the little stinker would go to sleep before eleven and/or wake up after 5-fucking-30, maybe we could think about a sibling, but . . .

I digress.

The SAGs!

I have to say, I didn’t recognize a great many people on the red carpet, which is making me feel pretty out of it.

Aimee Garcia

Like this chick. Love the dress. Don’t recognize the girl.

Aleksa Palladino

Or her. But I only bring her up to point out that she and George Clooney’s date have nearly identical dresses on.

See?

Amber Riley

Like the shape, but the bow is dumb and isn’t that a cocktail dress and not a formal gown?

Angelina Jolie

And we’re back to draped garbage bags, huh, Angie?

Ariel Winter

This is confusing to me. Because when I first saw the picture, I went, “Oh! She looks adorable! I love this one! And the color is great!” But then I looked and looked and the bodice and the skirt started looking mismatched to me and I hated them both. But when I look at the whole picture I like it. Like a Monet. You know, from far away it’s okay and all, but up close it’s a big old mess!

Ashlee Simpson

What explains her presence here?

Berenice Bejo

I know who she is! And I must say, the dress is kind of boring and I don’t like the necklace with it. But her facial expressions in nearly every single picture were awesome and increased my already strong desire to see The Artist.

Busy Phillips

Oh, Busy. What happened, you were lying on the beach and suddenly Siri reminded you that you were supposed to be at an awards show, so you just threw on your cover-up and ran?

Or do you just really, really want people to believe that’s what happened?

Diane Lane

(sigh) Okay, fine, I like it. I refuse to like her, though.

Dianna Agron

Not the most interesting clothing anyone has ever worn, but she looks very pretty. And I love the hair.

Emilia Clarke

I am on the record as not liking black-and-white color-blocked evening wear. I think it makes you look like waitstaff. And this one has the weird shoulders and neckline happening, too, so she looks like a shrugging alien.

But her hair and make-up look absolutely fantastic.

Emily Blunt

Love. A strong color and a drapey flowiness do it for me.

Emma Stone

Adorable, if not inventive. Whatever, Emma Stone can do no wrong in my eyes.

Gretchen Mol

I seriously love this one. It’s interesting and elegant.

Heather Morris

This almost makes me mad. Because if I had her body I would adorn it in only the most beautiful of dresses.

Okay, if I had her body, I’d wear this all the damn time.

Jane Krakowski

Oh my God. I have so much hate in my heart for this dress. So. Much. Hate. I don’t understand why anyone would design a dress that looks like this and I sure as hell don’t understand why anyone would wear it.

Probably she’ll be on a best-dressed list tomorrow. I almost always disagree with the fashionistas.

Jane Lynch

She usually wears basically the same dress but I like this one the best.

Jayma Mays

I’m pretty sure Evan Rachel Wood wore this to the Emmys. Still, it’s a hundred times better than the super-weird, body-disfiguring dresses she usually wears.

Jenna Fischer

On the one hand – I love it! I love the color, I love the shape! I would wear this dress!

On the other hand . . . I would wear this dress. In fact, I think I’m going to look for something similar for my cousin-in-law’s wedding. But I’m not a glamorous actress at a major awards show. She should maybe step it up a tad.

Jenna Ushkowitz

This is terrible. This looks like the losing entry in a “Project Runway” challenge to take something from your grandmother’s closet and make it modern.

Jennifer Carpenter

I don’t know who she is, and this looks like you’d wear it to a work party or something.

Then again, this is a “work party” for these folks, isn’t it?

Jessica Chastain

Love the hair. The dress looks like it almost made it to being beautiful but stopped a little short. It needs some neck bling, is what it needs. and maybe something more interesting happening with the straps.

Judy Greer

I kept looking at the name Judy Greer and thinking, that sounds awfully familiar, but isn’t she, like, a pin-up from the ’40s or something? Then I looked at the picture and remembered who she actually is and was excited because I love her and I think she looks great! Although, I am reminded of something my grandmother once said to me. She came to visit and arrived right around the time I was coming home from school. I was maybe fourteen. She looked at my typical school outfit and said, “I’m so glad you don’t flaunt yourself,” which I understood to mean, “You look like crap.” Although possibly she just meant she was glad I wasn’t in a miniskirt and plunging neckline. (My typical outfit in those days was “boyfriend” jeans, a tank top, and either a flannel or one of my stepfather’s button-down shirts. Come on, girls born circa 1981. You know what I’m talking about.)

Anyway, this picture makes me want to say to Judy Greer, “I’m so glad you don’t flaunt,” but I mean it in a totally nice way! While I enjoy sexiness, I also enjoy women who can look beautiful and event-appropriate without particularly pumping out the sex appeal or even showing much skin.

Julianna Marguiles

Now that’s how you do it, Julianna Marguiles!

Julie Bowen

I just love it. I love her a lot already (although she’s been looking super-skinny lately on the show. Like, she’s always pretty slim but lately it’s been verging on stringy. Maybe she’s been sick or extra busy or stressed, but I sincerely hope that’s it and no one is pressuring her to lose weight) and this dress is fun and beautiful and interesting and she looks happy to be wearing it.

On the other hand, celebrities need to stop wearing dresses with interesting backs. It messes up my formatting.

Kaley Cuoco

This is awfully . . . fluffy.

Which is not to say I don’t like it.

Karine Vanasse

I really have no clue who this chick is. I am wondering why she just pulled a dress of the rack at Macy’s and didn’t bother getting it fitted or anything.

Kelly Osbourne

Okay, this dress is much, much better than her last one. But I still don’t understand the hair.

Also I kept mistaking her for Kirstie Alley in the thumbnails. And Kirstie Alley doesn’t even have gray hair. (I mean, she probably does, but . . . oh you know what I mean.)

Kristen Wiig

I would like this dress, except for the stupid choker. And the unfinished-looking waistline.

Lea Michele

Now that’s how you do it, Lea Michele! You look like a sexy glamour-puss without looking like a Joan Collins character. Good job!

Mayim Bialik

Blossom? What are you doing here?

Meryl Streep

I have to say, I kind of like this one. It still carries that vibe of, “Excuse me, I’m Meryl Streep, and I’ll wear whatever the fuck I want to,” but it’s . . . I don’t know, kind of nice. I like the color. I like the draping. I like how she’s waving and smiling in nearly every picture taken of her last evening.

Michelle Williams

I want so badly to like this dress but then it does that weird thing at the bottom and I just can’t.

Naya Rivera

The dress is fine. The vibe she’s throwing off, of being absolutely thrilled to death with herself, is beautiful.

Octavia Spencer

I really like this. I’d like a somewhat lower neckline, but I really like this. It seems I’m having a thing for shades of gray lately.

Regina King

Love it.

Renne Bargh

Don’t know who she is, but Kate, this dress would look great on you.

Rose Byrne

I want to hate it. It’s a jumpsuit, for fuck’s sake. And yet . . . kind of love it.

Sarah Hyland

I love it!

See, this one I would want to own if I had the body for it and a glamorous enough lifestyle to need it. Unlike Jenna Fischer’s dress which I would wear right now to on occasion I actually have.

Shaliene Woodley

This dress reminds me of a story. When I was fifteen, my stepsister and I were going to be in my cousin’s wedding together. My cousin didn’t want to get, like, bridesmaid-y dresses, so we went with her and my stepmom to the mall. This was going to be an excruciating process because my stepsister had a much better body than me and was going to look good in everything while I looked good in nothing.

But then we found these dresses that we both loved, and we both looked good in them. We were so excited!

Did we get those dresses? No. My stepmom felt they were too sophisticated for a fifteen-year-old and a thirteen-year-old. We got different dresses, which neither of us looked particularly good in, although she got to wear the halter-style top and I had to wear the top with the high neck and the puffy sleeves, because when you’re a chubby teenager with wide shoulders, nothing looks better on you then a high neck and puffy sleeves.

(Incidentally, my cousin’s wedding dress is still the prettiest one I’ve ever seen.)

Anyway, the dresses we wanted to wear looked like this chick’s. Of course, this was 1996 and we were just teenagers. Shaliene should step it up.

Sofia Vergara

is looking kind of skinny, no?

Zoe Saldana

This is my dress of the night. She looks awesome.

Gretchen Mol’s is a close second.

Kate?

 

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It’s Not Surprising

Wow, I’ve had a lot to say this week, haven’t I? I’ll tell you the truth – I’m procrastinating on other writing I should be doing.

There are three loosely connected things bouncing around my head right now, and that loose connection is the fundamental misunderstanding of terms when it comes to how one side of the issue (“liberal,” or, in these particular cases, “normal, rational human beings”) understand the terminology in use by the other side (“conservative,” or, in these particular cases, “crazypants.”)*

1. How come it’s okay with alleged “social conservatives” that Newt Gingrich has two ex-wives and had long-term affairs while married to at least two of them? (I mean, for all we know, he’s also cheating on Callista, but he told Marianne that Callista would be accepting of that, right?) This question comes up because social conservatives are allegedly for marriage, and therefore, they must not be in favor of adultery, right?

Well, to the extent that “social conservative” can be conflated with “strong believer in the Ten Commandments”, I suppose, but I think that conflation is not necessarily accurate. Social conservatives are in favor of protecting the status quo, and the status quo – since approximately the Industrial Revolution – is that marriage (for rich people) is an institution in which a woman fulfills a man’s needs in the home while he goes out into the world to make money and amass power. And the more power he has, the more shit he can get away with. So Newt’s done exactly that. What’s the issue?

Furthermore, apparently conservatives just hate women, as we’ll see in . . .

2. How come alleged “family values” guys are trying to make domestic violence harder to prosecute in New Hampshire? Haven’t heard of this yet? Here it is. Now, I try really hard to see both sides (or all sides) of a given issue. I might still strongly disagree with one side or another, but I try to understand why a rational human being might believe in the side I disagree with. And most of the time, I can get there. I can understand; I can even sympathize. Like, for instance, I’m pro-choice. But I really do get that if you honestly believe that life begins at conception, then yeah, abortion is murder. Of course it is. Yes, even in cases of rape. Because the fetus didn’t rape you. (On the other hand, I have no patience for arguments that don’t allow for abortion even when there is a threat to the mother’s life. Because you are allowed to kill those who are threatening your life.) Now, I think that the question of whether life begins at conception is too nebulous and philosophical to be legislated, and on a practical level, I know that abortion being illegal is dangerous for women for many, many reasons, so I still disagree with the pro-life platform, at least insofar as they are focused on legislating against abortion, but I get the position and I even have sympathy for it. And yeah, I know, a lot of the pro-life (or anti-choice) movement sounds purely like they’re invested in punishing women for having sex, and I don’t have any sympathy with that, but I know that’s not the entire story.

I can’t figure out what the entire story is with these New Hampshire bills. I just can’t imagine the other side. Let’s review. I get the abortion thing. “I’m pro-choice because when abortion is illegal, women suffer.” “Well, I’m pro-life because a fetus is a life and you can’t murder it.” Right. Both valid points.

But here we have, “I’m in favor of comprehensive protections for people who are being abused by their partners.”

“Well, I’m in favor of-” What? What’s the other side? “I’m in favor of rights for abusers?”

I just don’t see how there isn’t here a basic hatred for women.

But I don’t think that’s antithetical to what “they” really mean when they say “family values.” “Family values” may sound warm and fuzzy, but it really means a support for the rights of families to run their own affairs without government interference. And by “families,” I obviously mean, “Dad.” Dad can decide who gets what kind of education, what happens to the money he earns, and how he “disciplines” members of his family, without government interference.

(Because you and I may know that men can be abused, too, but I assure you that the authors of this legislation do not. And if you told them it happened, they’d call any man being abused by a woman a faggot.)

Another word that doesn’t mean what liberals think it means? “Choice.”

3. When the Christian right talks about how it’s a “choice” to be gay, they don’t mean it’s a choice to be attracted to members of your own sex; they mean it’s a choice of whether or not you act on it. And even us liberals or progressives or normal, rational human beings can acknowledge the basic truth of that. Your thoughts and feelings, your attractions and identity, they come from inside. How you behave is your choice.

“Homosexuality is not a choice! It’s not it’s not it’s not!”

Again, I know that being attracted to members of your own gender, and wanting sexual and/or romantic relationships with members of your own gender, is not a choice. But acting on that attraction is a choice.

Let’s give an example with which we can all agree. I’m straight. That means I am attracted to men. I’m also married. So I’ve chosen one particular man with whom to have an exclusive romantic and sexual relationship. I can’t help it if I feel attracted to another man. But I can help acting on that attraction. And I should stop myself from acting on that attraction, because I’m married, and it would be hurtful and wrong for me not to stop myself.

Now, I don’t think that acting on attractions to members of the same gender as you is wrong. So I don’t think people who are attracted to members of their own gender should choose not to act on their attractions.

But the people who talk about homosexuality being a choice do think it’s wrong, just as adultery is wrong, and for the same reason – it says so in the Bible. They’re not saying (to the extent that “they” are a monolith and that all of “them” have coherent thoughts about it) that you can choose not to be attracted. But they are saying you can choose not to act.

The difference between us and them is that we don’t think they should choose not to act and they do.

Now, it’s a hypocrisy when the same people who claim that it’s wrong to act on homosexual feelings support known adulterers like Newt for president. And it’s hypocrisy that people who claim that it’s wrong to act on homosexual feelings are adulterers, like Newt.

But it’s still important to understand what they mean by “choice,” as it is important to understand what all the terms of a debate mean to the people using them, so that our arguments do not continue to devolve into both sides shouting slogans at each other that are only comprehensible to their own side.

And a codicil –

“Open marriage” is what happens when two people who are married decide that, although they are each other’s main squeeze, they do not want to or cannot be sexually and/or romantically exclusive with each other, so they work out an agreement wherein they can have sexual and/or romantic relationships with others. Sometimes one person may take more advantage of that than the other; sometimes they decide to keep each other informed and sometimes not; sometimes the two of them develop a sexual and/or romantic relationship with a third party together, as a unit and sometimes that never happens. But the key is, they both are getting what they need in terms of sex, romance, and exclusivity (or at least they’re trying for that); it’s an arrangement that is negotiated beforehand and agreed upon by all parties for the benefit of all parties.

What Newt Gingrich demanded of his second wife was not an “open marriage.” He just wanted to be able to keep a mistress without her getting all up in his grill about it. I know she used that term but she’s an old lady and probably, um, not very cosmopolitan in her awareness of non-traditional relationships. But the journalists who keep using the term wrong know better, or should.

 

*No, I don’t think “conservative” is always synonymous with “crazypants”! But in these three cases, the connection seems to be there.

The Real Housewives of Enabling Abuse

So the second season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has come to a close (well, except for the reunion shows, which we all know are the most important parts). And I have to confess, these ladies are my favorite Housewives. (For the record, I’ve also watched NY and NJ although not the last season of NJ and not the last two or three of NY. I’ve seen the ladies of the OC on occasion but never, like, a full episode. And I’ve not watched Atlanta. Just viewing the commercials brings up my liberal white guilt.) But this season, oh, boy, this season I wanted to smack every one of them. Except for Taylor. Because she was getting enough of that at home.

Seriously, this season was like a study in what not to do if your friend tells you s/he’s being physically abused by his or her partner.

1. DO NOT expect that the minute you’ve heard this piece of information, your friend is packing his or her bags. Because, first of all, many, many people don’t leave right away, for many, many good reasons. And also, the first you’re hearing about it is not the first time it happened. The relationship lasted through other violent incidences; it will probably last through the abused person telling you.

2. DO NOT decide that, since your friend has not left the relationship, your friend is lying about the abuse. People in abusive situations have a hard time leaving. I know I just said that, but it apparently bears repeating, because even if it’s the one thing everyone should know about domestic violence, the ladies of this show had never heard of the concept.

3. DO NOT justify your disbelief by saying things like, “If we don’t see it, how are we supposed to know?”or “He’s always been nice to me,” like it’s somehow surprising that this person who obviously values control hasn’t hauled off and smacked his or her partner in front of you.

4. DO NOT say “There’s three sides to every story; his side, her side, and the truth,” as Adrienne insisted on doing over and over. You sound like you read that in a fortune cookie. And, while it’s true sometimes, this isn’t about divining “the truth.” This is about helping a friend who’s in trouble. Who has reached out for your help, only to watch you shrug your shoulders and say, “Look, I haven’t seen anything. He’s always been nice to me. There’s three sides to every story.” Remember up a few items, where we discussed them not leaving right away? One of the reasons is because when they tell friends what’s up, they get nonsense like this.

5. DO NOT reveal stuff told to you in confidence on camera. I don’t care how mad you are that your friend is confusing you. The friend who is being abused has bigger shit to worry about than your confusion. Like his or her safety.

6. DO NOT gather together your girlfriends to whine – on camera – about how abused you now feel, now that your friend is mad at you for talking about his or her abuse – on camera. Do not treat this like your friend failed to invite you to a party, or said you looked fat in that dress. Your friend has a real problem. You sound like a heartless moron. Oh, and if you are, say, involved with the production of a reality show on which a person is dealing with abuse, you, also, should not behave as if this is the latest “juicy scandal” of your show, on a par with that time Camille was mad at Kyle and didn’t want her to come to her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s premiere. It’s not the same. It’s not in the world of “the same.”

7. DO NOT, oh my God, DO NOT gang up on the couple at a major party en masse and kick them out and furthermore make them stand there while you tell them why you’re kicking them out and try to get them to agree with you that they deserve to be kicked out and place your friend in the position of disagreeing, publicly, with his or her abusive partner, when s/he knows damn well s/he has to go home alone with him or her that night. And then don’t weep and blubber about how bad you feel about kicking him or her out and could s/he please make you feel better by assuring you that you’re doing the right thing? Dude, you’re sending him or her home to get smacked around. I’m surprised that the next episode didn’t feature you visiting him or her in the emergency room. At which point you would have comforted yourselves by assuring yourselves that it wasn’t your fault; s/he’s the one who stays with a person who hits him or her.

8. DO NOT, once your friend leaves the abuser, make him or her apologize to you for all the ways s/he hurt your feelings while she was going through all this stuff. You apologize to him or her for not believing her and for not supporting her when she needed you. And really, don’t try to get your friend to apologize for the law suits your friend’s abuser threatened against you for talking about the abuse on camera. Those law suits were part of the abuse – the “isolate the abused from her friends” part. You know, like, get them to kick the abused out of a party they’re all attending because of the threatened law suits? Yeah. You enabled that part of the abuse. Good on you.

Here‘s the Nation Domestic Violence Hotline’s guide to what TO DO.

And here‘s the latest on Taylor’s situation.

ETA: First Reunion segment – most of the ladies tried to pretend they weren’t this awful all season. Except Camille who continued being a smug, sanctimonious bitch.

Dragon-Slaying

Bear with me; this is half-baked, to say the least.

There’s this abstinence-only bit from a program called “Choosing the Best” wherein they tell a story about a princess in a tower with a dragon and the knight comes to slay the dragon and rescue her. The first time, this goes peachy, and the knight feels all manly and strong and well-disposed towards the princess. But then the next time there’s a dragon-slaying and princess-rescuing operation, she instructs him to use a noose. And the next time (why is this princess so prone to dragon capture?), she suggests poison. And, while these suggestions work, having them offered makes the knight feel all emasculated and sad. So he goes and finds a village maiden who, he makes sure, knows nothing about nooses and poisons and lives happily ever after. And then the “Choosing the Best” curriculum, wanting to leave nothing to chance, comes right out and says, “Moral of the story: Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man’s confidence or even turn him away from his princess.” That’s a direct quote. You know how you know it’s not my rephrasing? Because in my rephrasing, I would have corrected the noun/pronoun disagreement. “Suggestions and assistance” = “them”, not “it”.

What does this have to do with sex ed? Damned if I know. I guess if you’re going to have a semester of sex education in which you plan to avoid at all costs educating kids about sex, you have to fill the time with something, and this sexist, nonsensical drivel will have to do.

I mean, really. The knight’s ego is so fucking fragile that some useful suggestions – that worked! – in the middle of a fight with a dragon who would otherwise have killed him and the princess is too much for him to handle? And he’s going to somehow blame the princess for his lack? What a wilting flower. Man the fuck up, dude.

And I mean, if in crazy-town, “occasional” advice is okay, isn’t “dragon attack!” the perfect occasion?

But it got me thinking. I know more than one woman about my age who has complained about the dearth of manliness in the Y-chromosome-having persons of our generation. I mean, we’re feminists, we believe in equality, but we watch these old movies with Cary Grant or Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart and we go, “Where are our men like that?” And we know it’s stupid and we know that Cary and Clark and Humphrey weren’t really like their characters and there were plenty of men in 1940 who were immature dickwads. But it still seems like it’s different now. “Guys” rule pop culture; “men” are hardly anywhere to be found. And our male cohorts love the “guys.” And we believe in equality not constantly picking up the socks of man-children who are busy playing XBox. You know?

(Dear male person who is friends with me and/or married to me and reading this right now: Not you! You’re awesome! And so manly!)

(And, okay, all due respect to the man who is married to me – he was the unrivaled champion of the Great Spider Battle of 2005. He must have slayed 40 or 50 spiders – scary, poisonous ones that could kill a small child or a dog – that day, and they were coming at him from all sides – above, below, and all around, on our tiny little balcony 34 stories in the sky. But he defended our castle and kept the two princesses – me and our friend Kerri, who was staying with us for a few days – inside the castle safe. Huzzah!)

So is this what we’re asking for? Are we asking for knights who know how to slay dragons and keep us princesses safe? And are we, as feminists, fucking it up by making suggestions?

I know the people who wrote this curriculum would say, unabashedly, yes. That’s exactly what we’re doing.

But let’s be serious. The guys who wrote this curriculum are so delicate the merest whiff of a suggestion from a woman limps their dicks. So what do they know about manliness?

If you want to have this model of gender, wherein you’re the manly, manly knight who doesn’t need no help from no woman to slay the dragon that’s threatening her, you’d better be able to slay the dragon. No messing around, no coming in half-cocked, no thinking that beating the 20th level of Dragon Slayer IV on XBox qualifies you to do the real thing.

And the dragon is not your kindergarten teacher. The dragon does not give you an A just for showing up; the dragon does not reward points for effort; the dragon does not care that your mommy thinks you are the bestest dragon slayer ever. Either you will kill the dragon or the dragon will kill you. Are the guys writing and/or agreeing with this curricula prepared for this? Are they prepared to face the odds and maybe even lose?

(And listen, bub, the feminist movement was at least in part a bunch of princesses recognizing that, hey, the knight is going to lose some of the time – not because knights are worthless but because neither are dragons – and they better figure out how to rescue their own damn selves.)

Furthermore, if you want to be the big, masculine dragon-slaying hero who does it all on your own, you don’t get to turn around and be all, “And princesses are clearly stupid and undeserving because they don’t know how to slay dragons!”

And if a you don’t slay the dragon, you have to be prepared for the princess to deny you access to her . . . heart.  (You’ve all seen Robin Hood: Men in Tights, right? You know what I’m getting at?) No running around whining that women only like knights because knights can slay dragons and it’s no fair how you’re never getting laid; it’s just that women are stupid, shallow, superficial bitches.

But after all, I don’t think women – or feminists, or whatever we’re talking about here – envision as an ideal relationship one in which knights slay dragons according to the suggestions of otherwise helpless princesses. We envision considering the dragon-slaying to be a joint project we can accomplish together using our unique (not necessarily gender-based) abilities. And then we high-five each other, drink a congratulatory pint at the local pub, where we regale the patrons with tales of our mutual derring-do, and then we get a private room and . . . exchange hearts. We want knights who are man enough to be partners.

I don’t know why, exactly, that idea is antithetical to the kinds of people who wrote the “Choosing the Best” curriculum. I guess they are really, really committed to the Great Gender Divide, for some bizarre reason. Also, I guess their male egos are really, really fragile.

The Giving Tree

Why did I get this sick fucking book for my kid? Why do I read it to her? What is wrong with me?

You’ve all read it, right? The codependent martyr tree and the boy who uses her until she’s nothing more than a stump? And then he avails himself of her stump.

I know, I know, I know, it’s supposed to be a metaphor for a mother’s love for her children. She’ll give them everything they need and be happy when they’re happy and not demand anything for herself and isn’t that lovely?

Except that first of all, the tree is not the boy’s mother. You can tell by how she – or what’s left of her – is still around when he’s old and gray. So it’s not just about maternal love, it’s about a particular kind of love that can get applied to any number of relationships. And it’s not an accident that the tree is a girl and the boy is a boy. I’m sure there are plenty of codependent martyr men out there, but a) I suspect their fewer and farther between than women, and b) it’s less normalized in men. Women are supposed to be endlessly giving, nurturing, and supportive of their loved ones, even at their own expense. When men behave like that, it’s because they are pussy-whipped.

Second, even if the tree is Mom, that’s a sick relationship for a mother to have with her children, too! Yeah, when they’re young, they require you to give up a lot of your own interests and needs in order to tend to theirs. But you’re not supposed to do that forever. You’re supposed to give them everything you can while they’re babies, and then slowly ease off so that they develop their own abilities and shit. You’re supposed to be a person, not just a mother, so that you’ll be sane and emotionally healthy and even something of a role model for your kids, someone they could see wanting to be. No kid wants to grow up to be the Giving Tree.

Furthermore, if you make everything you are all about your kid and give away every part of your for their sake forever, you will get one of two results. Either your kid, like the boy in this book, will callously expect you to give him everything you have and everything you are forever, while giving you nothing in return, not even an acknowledgment of your sacrifice or love, even to the point where you are nothing but a stump and then he wants to sit on you. That kid is going out into the world, by the way, equally callous and blind to the needs of those around him. He expects this same kind of behavior from lovers, friends, co-workers. He’s awful. And, because he can’t figure out how to make his own contributions to the world; because he can’t give love, only receive it; he’s massively unhappy.

Or you’ll get a kind, compassionate kid who does genuinely love you and is capable of loving others and is also crushed by the responsibility he bears for your whittling yourself down to nothing for his sake. Because this kid wants you to be happy. He wants you to have your love returned to you. So he’ll still try to climb your trees when he’s sixty even though he’s probably going to break a leg, because you want him to so very badly and he doesn’t want to be a shit; after all, you were the one who gave him all your branches when he needed a house. How could he not do the little things that make you happy? And look, he’ll really try hard to resist it when you want to give him your entire trunk, leaving you nothing but a stump. And then when you absolutely insist that no, you really want to give him your trunk, you only have a trunk because you want it to be useful to him, you’ll even cut your own trunk down and give it to him so now he might as well use it even if he was going to give up on the idea of an around-the-world trip in a tree trunk after all, he’ll take the trunk – and feel massively guilty all the time about it. Or he’ll grow a backbone, refuse the trunk – and feel massively guilty because you’re sad that he won’t take your trunk. He will probably develop ulcers or a heart condition.

And yet, I bought this book! I read it as a kid, and I read it to my brother when he was little, so I knew what was in there, and I still paid actual money so that Zoe could have it, too! And now she loves for me to read it to her because a) it’s got a bright green cover, b) it’s still Shel Silverstein, so the illustrations are appealing and the language is spare and lovely, and c) it makes Mommy cry when she reads it, and Mommy crying is always pretty entertaining.

Lesson to Unlearn from Glee – Season 3, Episode 10

And we’re back!

You guys, it’s hard for me to tell if this was a good episode or not. Because during it, Zoe said, more than once, “Mom, it’s a fast song! Let’s dance! Let’s dance together! Let’s shake our butts!” And then she shook her butt. In her little pink fleece footie pajamas with the horsies on them. And then, “It’s a slow song! Let’s do hit-ups, Mom! Let’s do these hit-ups!” And then she lay on the floor and starting lifting her hips up, which is the kind of sit-ups I do where she can lay on my stomach if she wants. So I did, and she did, and she hugged me and said “I love you,” so I really, really enjoyed this episode of Glee.

Anyway.

The lesson: You and your teacher are really supposed to be close. So close that he tells you, a seventeen-year-old kid who just a few weeks ago forcibly outed one of your classmates and then patronizingly told her why she should be fine with that, that you’re the “best man” he knows, and he wants you to be his best man. Also, the teacher should consider you to be family, to the degree that he will tell you he’s planning to get engaged before he tells his fiancé-to-be, his actual parents, or even his grown-up friends, like Coach Bieste, whom we’ve seen him confide in and talk to before.

The truth: Your teachers are not your friends. They’re your teachers. They should support your educational efforts, even your character growth. But their personal lives should not be your concern, and you sure as hell shouldn’t be the person they tap as their best man. Nor should you be probing into their relationships. Super-inappropriate.

And apparently, this is an actual problem in school, at least for teenage girls. They want to perceive teachers as friends and then, when they get a bad grade, they interpret this as the teacher not “liking” them. So now the teacher is an enemy and the girl does not get the scholastic help she needs because she’s not going to talk about her weaknesses with her enemy.

So it’s actually really, incredibly important for middle and high school teachers to maintain appropriate professional relationships with their students. Yes, you should be a person to them, a person who is accessible and relatable if possible. Yes, they can know that you are dating. But they should under no circumstances be the people you entrust with your proposal plans, nor should they be best man at your wedding. They actually need you to be teachers, not friends.

Also, Finn is no great shakes. He walks around publicly outing people, condescending to less privileged friends, prioritizing football over protecting his gay stepbrother, and so on. Let’s be serious here.

Golden Globes!

I just looked and realized this never went up! So here it is, and I’ll have the SAGs up later today.

The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards were last night! Who won? Who cares?! Let’s talk about dresses. And any other idle thoughts that pop into my head.

Amanda Peet

My favorite columnist Cynthia Heimel once wrote a column called “How to Get a Man (I’m Serious).” In it, she went over all the usual stupid advice and then said this:

If he’s the wrong man, you can turn yourself inside out with wiles and perfume and French-maid’s outfits and nothing will work. You’ll never get him, you’ll never keep him, you don’t have a chance.

If he’s the right man, you can have greasy hair, spinach in your teeth, and your skirt on inside out, and he’ll still be entranced and follow you to the ends of the earth.

As an example, she brought up her friend Nora, who had a rough break-up. Cynthia suggested that maybe she should dress sexier. “You look like you’re wearing a series of lampshades,” she told her friend Nora. Low and behold, Nora’s Mr. Right came along, loving her series-of-lampshade outfits.

Maybe Amanda Peet is trying to bag Nora’s boyfriend.

(An unrelated anecdote: I discovered Cynthia Heimel as a fairly young teen in a bookstore. I saw a book with the title Get Your Tongue Out of My Mouth, I’m Kissing You Good-Bye and knew I had found a lifelong idol. And then I got her Sex Tips for Girls, thinking the title was, um, tongue-in-cheek, like the last one, but no, it’s really a sex tips book, albeit a super-funny and irreverent and perhaps not comprehensive one. So, J, if we ever meet her – if it please God – you’ve got a lot to thank her for.

But I only had her books. I knew she wrote for Playboy throughout the eighties and early nineties, but I was born in 1981. None of my guy friends had Playboys old enough. Then when I was in college my friend and I were in a vintage store on Mass Ave and I spotted a Playboy from the 1960s out of the corner of my eye. I made some comment about being in the market for 1980s Playboys and the clerk directed me to a vintage desk, the bottom drawer of which was full of exactly what I was looking for. My dear and obviously very patient friend looked through them with me to find the ones with columns that weren’t in books I owned. I finally left that store with 20 “vintage” Playboys, which I carted around with me for a while before finally deciding I could just make photocopies of the column. But they were pretty fascinating. There was an article from a 1983-or-so issue about AIDS. You know, before we figured out what AIDS was.)

Amy Poehler (with husband Will Arnett)

You know? I think she looks pretty good. I frequently think she makes very weird choices for herself on the red carpet (or someone makes weird choices for her) but her hair looks good, her make-up looks good, and the dress . . . well, it’s not a great dress. But at least it doesn’t look like a wetsuit.

Andie MacDowell

How old is she now? What has she been doing lately? Because she looks really good. The dress is inoffensive if boring, but she looks sort of glow-y and fabulous. Seriously, how old is she now?

Angelina Jolie (with husband Brad Pitt) (in case you didn’t recognize him)

Okay, Kate, I know you hate her because you’re on Team Jennifer and isn’t she evil with her man-stealing and adopting children and formerly being sort of goth and maybe kissing her brother and not seeming to give a flying fuck what people think of her, but seriously? I f-ing love this dress. I mean, I love it. In a way, it’s almost like she’s being a caricature of Angelina Jolie – sexy, curvy, glamorous, a little cold and maybe a little evil-looking, with the matching red lips and purse, but also awesome.

Brad? Cut your hair.

Ariel Winter

You know, I’m getting the feeling that Ariel Winter the person is not at all like her character in Modern Family. Not that she has to be. But Alex Dunphy would die rather than wear that dress.

How do I feel about it? Love the bodice, hate the skirt, think she’s too damn young for the whole thing. (Commence pearl-clutching.)

Charlize Theron

I first saw a picture of this from, like, the bust up. I thought she looked fabulous. Then I saw the skirt. Oh, the skirt. Charlize. Seriously. You’re stunningly, otherworldly beautiful. You’re like an artificial creation of what the most perfectly gorgeous woman would look like if such a person could really exist, only you really do. And to top it off, you’re a really good actress.Young Adult was all you. It was a decent movie, made a really fantastic movie based purely on how good you were at playing your character. (I mean, I enjoy me some Patton Oswalt, but you carried Young Adult.)

So I guess, as good as you are, if you want to wear a giant poof on your skirt and that weird, reverse-mullet skirt (party in the front, business in the back) thing, then I guess you can. I just refuse to like it.

Claire Danes

When it comes down to it, I suppose that nothing, including a bra, could have saved that dress. So it’s just as well you didn’t wear one.

Connie Britton

Okay, the dress isn’t as fancy as I think it ought to be, or at least I think you need to wear a little more bling or something with it. But you look very nice.

But you’re making that face again. That “What am I doing here?” face. We’ve gone over this. You’re fabulous. You deserve to be at the Golden Globes. So wipe that look off your face before it freezes like that.

Dianna Agron

Wow. I don’t think you’ve gone there before. This is feisty. This is memorable. This is fierce.

Well, okay, the bodice is. The skirt then devolves into curtains in a bordello. Correction: curtains in a cheap bordello.

Still, it’s a lot more sophisticated and interesting than you usually go and the color looks fabulous on you.

Emma Stone

I love it. I mean, the skirt’s got a weird string-y looking thing happening and I kind of in general hate belts on evening dresses and those weird little shoulder pads like you’re an alien species in a SyFy miniseries . . .

Wait, why do I love it?

Oh, the colors are fabulous on you with your alabaster skiing and your gorgeous hair. And your make-up looks perfect and the dress very flattering and sexy without being slutty or excessively “I’m hot, okay? Stop talking about Ryan Gosling!”

And also I just love you. Please call me. We’d totally be good friends.

Evan Rachel Wood

I don’t care what anyone else says, I love it. It’s dramatic and cool and glamourous and even little amusing in a way, with the scales that turn into feathers like she’s some sort of mythological mermaid/harpy hybrid, which is just awesome. If I had a body that could carry it and an occasion that called for some serious amazing-ness, I would totally wear this dress.

I wouldn’t dye my hair that color. But I would wear an awesome smile that tells the world exactly how much I love my dress, like she is.

George Clooney and Date

George Clooney’s date is blonde. I thought he went for brunettes. Sigh.

Heidi Klum

From the back? Whoa, mama!

Wait, is that a little turquoise I see around her neck? That’s great, with her coloring and that dress, turquoise. Let me get a closer look.

Oh. That’s disappointing.

Jessica Biel

I aggressively hate this. I hate the sort of sad-wedding-dress look of it. I hate the ill-fittingness of it. It looks dirty and weirdly proportioned and confused. Like, why the sleeves and the prim neckline and then the slit up to your gynecologist’s office? Hate.

But she looks great. Her hair, her skin, her face. She looks so young and healthy and beautiful and I say this as a person who is not much of a Jessica Biel fan. So maybe she really likes the dress and feels great in it. They say dress in what you love, right?

Jessica Alba

This is already hitting as a top dress of the evening. I feel sort of meh about it. I don’t love the color for her and I think it’s sort of boring and old-looking. But I guess I am wrong.

Jodie Foster

I love the color but doesn’t it look sort of like it’s not really on her but just in front of her? I am reminded of that dress that Vincent of Season 3 of Project Runway made, the episode he inexplicably stayed in and Alison, who I loved, was voted off.

See what I mean? This dress (which, okay, he made out of trash) just sort of hung inches from the model’s body, and I know sometimes fashion is supposed to be “sculptural,” but sometimes that looks holy-shit-awesome and sometimes it just looks like you didn’t take the time to figure out what an actual woman’s body was going to look like in a dress. And that’s kind of how I feel about Jodie Foster’s dress. Or maybe she’s just standing awkwardly or it’s a bad picture. I don’t know.

Julianna Marguiles

Every time I see her picture I think, “Why did I stop watching The Good Wife? I really liked that show.” But that’s neither here nor there.

This isn’t an awful dress – the color is great, it’s slinky and a nice material – but she needs a better bra. And earrings that . . . relate. And hair that’s not in the same style as mine is right now.

And it needs a hem.

She normally looks fabulous on the red carpet. I don’t know what’s up with this.

Julie Bowen

I get what she was going for here, but . . . no. Hair too blonde. Dress too pale. Waistline defined weirdly. Skirt too long. Body simply not curvy enough to pull this off. She looks like a girl dressing up in Mommy’s clothes. (If one had a fabulous Mommy.) It’s just not coming together right.

Kate Winslet

Hair? Fabulous. Face? Fierce. (Both in terms of make-up and expression.)

Dress? Meh. She does look thicker than usual, but that’s not what’s bothering me. I just kind of hate it. Black and white color-blocks always look waitstaff-y to me, even when the white’s on the bottom and the black’s on the top. The sleeves are weird. The gape around her breasts is weird and revealing without being sexy. The white skirt is boring and tablecloth-like.

Maybe it’s just that my expectations for Kate Winslet on the red carpet are so high, she can’t meet them anymore.

Katherine McPhee

This is in strong contention for my favorite of the night. She looks positively lovely. I’m really into the thing that’s happening on the bottom there.

Kelly Osborn

So I get that the silver-white hair on a not-old person is, like, edgy-cool. You know. But I feel like, first of all, Kelly Osborn and I have gone through some similar body issues, and if your body is already heading in the potentially-frumpy direction, you don’t do anything that might actually make it easier for you to be mistaken for an old lady. I mean, her body looks great right now, but I do feel that adopting old-people looks works better on the otherwise slim-nearly-to-the-point-of-prepubescence. Second, I feel that, especially if you are at a fancy, red-carpet-like event, you can do one old-lady thing. You can have silver hair OR a dress that would look more suitable on Helen Mirren (or whoever Helen Mirren’s equivalent was in 1985). Not both.

Laura Linney

The woman can act the hell out of anything. But she cannot, apparently, hire a stylist.

Lea Michele

Oh, lordy.

I’m a little at a loss. I don’t understand what would possess a person such as Lea Michele – who is gorgeous, extremely talented, and only twenty-five years old – to choose this garment. This would have been fabulous on a Dallas trophy wife going to a fundraiser in 1987. Fabulous in a “Is that whore trying to steal my husband? Or is she going to whip off that skirt and go figure-skating?” way. Cher would have rejected this as being too tacky and over-bedazzled. Dolly Parton would think this is a little much.

I just . . . I don’t get it.

On another note, a recent InStyle featured her on their “10 Best Looks . . . Ever!” page. She’s been in the spotlight (on television, I mean, not on stage) for, like, three years. I mean, if they had included what she’d worn to a cast party of Les Mis when she was eight, then fine, the “. . . Ever!” would have made sense. But they didn’t.

And this dress is definitely not going to make any future “Best” lists.

Good lord.

Melissa McCarthy

Designers, do you not understand that more women look like Melissa McCarthy than like, say, Jessica Alba? Can you please figure out how to dress us?

Also, hair? No.

Meryl Streep

does not have to give a flying fuck what I or anyone else thinks about her dress.

Missi Pyle

I’m only vaguely aware of who Missi Pyle is. But I kind of love her dress. That color is definitely one that cannot be ignored, and rock on, her, for wearing it.

Morena Baccarin

I don’t know who she is, either, but she’s beautiful.

Natalie Portman

She looks like a little kid playing dress-up in Marilyn Monroe’s clothes. And I mean that in a totally good way.

Nicole Kidman

Look, this dress has created the appearance of breasts on Nicole Kidman. It must be one hell of a dress on that alone. Miraculous, even.

And actually, I like it on its merits, too. I love the color, I love the shape, I love the embellishments. It’s been a while since Nicole Kidman has worn something I’ve loved but I’m happy to see it again.

Piper Perabo

Piper Perabo is still working? And being nominated for things? Why, for the love of all that is holy, is this so?

Reese Witherspoon

has definitely looked less like a generic California blonde in the past.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

If you wanted people to talk about you come Monday, you definitely achieved that.

The thing is, I’m just enough of a hippie weirdo to appreciate where this dress is coming from and what it’s supposed to be doing. Super-glam silhouette, tie-dye. And even like the way it looks on the bodice and the . . . uh . . . poof. (My fashion vocabulary only goes so far.) But the whole thing looks like a giant joke she’s playing on the fashion-and-celeb-watching community.

And okay, I’m laughing.

The Deschanels

Zooey looks like she usually does. It’s not my favorite but it’s fine. Although, again, hem. What, are the tailors and seamstresses in L.A. on strike?

But, Bones, what are you doing? I know you just had a baby but there are fashionable and attractive ways to dress a body that, while fantastic, is maybe not as slim as it once was. You don’t have to wrap it in a blue polyester sheet and belt it like a bathrobe.

I mean, I am sympathetic with the just-having-had-a-baby feeling. I have only just come to the re-realization that, no really, sweatpants aren’t okay in public, and yes, even under a winter coat, I should wear an actual bra with a wire and all. But if that’s how you feel, just stay home. Don’t make your already-beleagured body walk around in that.

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton, you go on with your bad self.

Tina Fey

finally dressed like she thinks she belongs there. Good job.

Viola Davis

looks fan-fucking-tastic.

Kate?

Zoe Again

1. She really is the best, like, girlfriend. We were taking a Pilates lesson from my friend who is a Pilates instructor at a studio in a pretty upscale neighborhood. Zoe loved to looking the store windows and comment on dresses and jewelry and even furniture. And then she loved being in the studio! She hopped and climbed on the equipment, did approximations of the exercises with me, and then shouted instructions and encouragement at me. “In, out, in, out! Good job, Mommy! You’re doing it!”

2. We took her to Gretchen and Otis’s house while we went out. When we came back she was furious at us, screaming and spitting and hitting me. (I did not find the hitting adorable.) “I want to stay with Otis! I want to sleep in Otis’s bed!”

3. She said to her father, “Do you know why I’m happy? Because I have a daddy.”

4. Her two best lines in San Francisco:

(Zoe pulls her pants all the way up to her chest.)

Tara: I think that’s called ‘camel toe.’

Zoe: I think that’s called ‘pants.’

And, after a discussion about why Zoe loves Daddy:

Jason: So you would love Daddy if he didn’t give you treats?

Zoe. Yes. (pause) I mean no.

5. She says “pinkie please!” I think from watching Despicable Me, she got “pretty please” and “pinkie promise” mixed up.

6. She wants everything to be incredibly precise.

“Can I have a cake pop from that store?”

“Yes.”

“From Starbucks?”

“Yes.”

“I can have a pink one?”

“Yes.”

“A pink one with white sprinkles?”

“Yes.”

“I can have a pink cake pop with white sprinkles from Starbucks?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. That’s a great idea! Thank you, Mommy!”

7. Sometimes she hugs me and thanks me for taking care of her. It makes it really difficult to be mad at her for somehow getting shit on every surface of the bathroom.

8. She loves playing games now, even if she doesn’t really understand them. She played hours of “chest” and War with Grandpa Lalan while we were in New Jersey over Christmas. She also likes Uno and Candyland, although with Candyland she mainly wants to hunt for the lollipop-girl card and the ice-cream-princess card. She doesn’t really feel attached to getting from one end of the path to the other.

9. While we were in New Jersey, she learned to put on make-up with Aunt Kate. It was pretty exciting.

10. She also really enjoyed opening presents this holiday season. Not just her presents. All presents.

11. She likes taking my romance novels and stacking them or making, like, trains of them across the room.

12. I had an opportunity to observe her at preschool recently. She is very independent. She’s happy to play with other kids – if they want to be doing what she’s doing. Which is not to say she’s selfish. If they want to play with the cash register with her, she’ll take turns nicely pressing the buttons and handling the cash and credit cards. But if they take off for the sand table and she’s still working on the cash register, she stays put. She also took the entire cup of chocolate chips designated for her challah dough and pressed each one, very precisely, into the ball so that the overall effect was “chocolate armadillo.”

13. She seems to have absorbed the message that she’s a pretty wonderful and beloved girl. I told her I was so happy to have her and she said, “Yeah. I’m a yummy and delicious girl!”

14. The clothing obsessions are really unending, but what’s especially interesting to me is her attention to even clothing issues that you’d think would be of no interest to a three-year-old girl. For instance, when we went to my friend’s Pilates studio, Zoe was wearing a plain white Henley. Nothing special about it. But when she saw me folding it, weeks later, she said, “That’s the shirt I wore to exercise with Gretchen!” On Chanukah, my father-in-law came over wearing a thermal under a t-shirt. They gave Jason some thermals. The next day he put one one. Zoe said, “Is he going to put a t-shirt over it, like Poppa?”

15. Her bonding with my brother over our Christmas vacation was spent looking at Spiderman costumes on line. She was fascinated.

16. Also, my mother took her to a toy store and basically indicated a willingness to buy whatever Zoe wanted. Zoe wanted three superhero-themed I Can Read books.

17. We’re working a little on reading with her. She keeps asking if a given word starts with a given letter. Usually she’s right. “Does ‘p’ begin for ‘poison’?” “Yes!” “It does! I’m right!”

18. It’s hard to convey in words but she has this way of moving like she’s a little fairy sprite or something. She scampers just about everywhere and holds her hands up and makes delicate little motions with her fingers. Sometimes she lets out high-pitched yips. Then she makes adorable faces at you and insists you “be happy a big bit!”

19. We go to this bakery called Sweet Whimsy. The chef/owner’s sister Amanda mans the front of the store most of the time, and Amanda is just lovely. Zoe concurs. One day we left there and Zoe said to me, very matter-of-factly, that she wanted Amanda to be her new mommy, and that she doesn’t love me anymore, only Daddy and Amanda. She still will occasionally mention how she wants Amanda to be her new mommy. And she is very invested in what she will wear when she sees Amanda. (It should be noted, Amanda dresses extremely cutely and I envy all her dresses.) I have to say, if I had to pick a new mommy for Zoe, Amanda would not be a bad choice.

20. She likes to pretend to be a waitress and take your order. She “writes” it down on a pad and everything.

21. She’s getting better and better at helping me cook. Though it should be noted, she still won’t eat anything. But she’s great at tearing lettuce, putting things in the food processor, layering potatoes for a gratin, pouring and stirring,, rolling cookie dough in sugar, and, especially, cracking the shells on hard-boiled eggs.

22. I just asked her, “What other cute things do you do, Zoe?” She said, “I don’t do cute things. I hate cute things.”

23. When left to her own devices, she wanders around the house dreaming up scenarios and apparently arguing with imaginary friends. One time she staged an argument about the correct pronunciation of “orange.” (We had just come home from New Jersey.)

24. Still cuddly.

25. Likes to watch “Crazy Ladies.” Which is what we taught her to call “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

That’s all I’ve got for now although the thing to know is that she is full-time cute and has some serious personality and is going to be an absolute nightmare as a teenager.

 

Have Y’all Seen This?

Hello. Welcome back from your holidays. Hope you had a wonderful time bringing light into the darkness and/or getting drunk.

So have you seen this?

Google+ commercial

Is this ad seriously suggesting that the appropriate and normal arc of a relationship is:

1. You, the male who is always the “you,” should decide some woman you barely know is the love of your life.

2. She should decide you are a “creeper.”

3. You should then decide to join her book club.

4. She will decide you are not a creeper because you have a car, and girls are all about using men for their material goods.

5. Having (or maybe just being at?) a ski house will also improve her opinion of you.

6. Then she’ll start thinking of you as a “maybe.” Then a “keeper.” And that’s what love is.

?

I just . . . I am inarticulate in my extreme annoyance and confusion. I don’t know what to say. I think I’ll just link to this.

Oh, man. I am on Google+ but I’ve never actually used it (which is how I handled Facebook for the first several years I had an account). And now, seeing this, I’d like to get off of it. If only I had the patience to figure out how.