Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Article Reading Group

Romy Schneider via Into the Gloss

Oh, poor neglected blog. You are not what you once were - you no longer seem to fit seemlessly into my life, online and IRL. My reading habits and routines are in flux and it's all kind of awkward. Sometimes I think about putting you down or quietly letting you slip away but I'm not there yet. I still want and need a space to share words and I suppose you have never been on the cutting edge of topicality anyway. Let's see where things go - no pressure; only affection. (And pretentiousness. Sometimes.)

Here are some excellent if slightly dated things I've read and enjoyed enough to make a note of:

  • Lindsay King-Miller (of the Hairpin) wrote a beautiful piece for the Rumpus about pre-adolescence, female friendship and grief. Hold On To What You've Got is the article I want to send to those people who claim female friendship is catty and competitive. 'It’s difficult to articulate the process by which two twelve-year-old girls with a lot of things in common—archetypally awkward, voracious readers, intellectually far ahead of their burgeoning social skills—become inseparable. It feels predestined, unfolding with the simplicity of a teen-movie montage: sleepovers, slasher movies, painting each other’s fingernails, singing into hairbrushes. It’s hard to imagine that there was a time I didn’t know her; that there are aspects of my personality that predate Heather. It feels like we created each other from scratch, scribbling in the details and watching ourselves take shape.
  • I am very fond of Hadley Freeman and her response to Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy was predictably thoughtful. I have had to endure people being snide and unpleasant about Jolie's decision and the subsequent publicity and I should probably forward them this. Whatever your personal opinions on her, publicising breast cancer and preventative surgery is a worthwhile endeavour and a brave one for a woman who effectively made her career as a sexual fantasy.
  • Time's 2011 article on fanfiction, The Boy Who Lived Forever, hasn't aged flawlessly. The world Lev Grossman is writing about is evolving too fast for a two year old piece to be anywhere near conclusive but there is still plenty to think about and some basic truths. Well worth a read if ff interests you. 'Fan fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don't do it for money. That's not what it's about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They're fans, but they're not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.'
  • I didn't hear about the New York Times weekly Sex Diaries column until they closed it. Always the last to the party... Their round up of the twenty most read sex diaries of the series Sex Diaries is diverting. I am assuming that they are meant to be read as short fiction scattered with glittering flashes of social and personal truth. You won't persuade me otherwise.
  • Man, I got a bit overexcited reading Kathryn Schulz's Gatsby piece. There might have been a fist pump or two. I totally loathed the film, partly because I found it bloated and ugly and overlong and I thought the acting was hammy (the whole thing was hammy) and the 3D made me feel queasy, but also, partly because I think the source material is weak. Sure, there are moments of wonder in The Great Gatsby but I think it is massively overhyped and, in many ways, rather unpleasant. Schulz's countercultural analysis is a joy and I could wallow in it all day. 'I find Gatsby aesthetically overrated, psychologically vacant, and morally complacent; I think we kid ourselves about the lessons it contains. None of this would matter much to me if Gatsby were not also sacrosanct.'
Do you have any more current reading recommendations? Sharing is caring. Just saying...

Chuck x

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


O you gods, you long-limbed animals, you
astride the sea and you unhammocked
in the cyprus grove and you with your hair
full of horses, please. My thoughts have turned
from the savor of plums to the merits
of pity—touch and interrupt me,
chasten me with waking, humble me
for wonder again. Seed god and husk god,
god of the open palm, you know me, you
know my mettle. See, my wrists are small.
O you, with glass-colored wind at your call
and you, whose voice is soft as a turned page,
whose voice unrolls paper, whose voice returns
air to its forms, send me a word for faith
that also means his thrumhis coax and surge
and her soft hollow, please—friend gods, lend me
a word that means what I would ask him for
so when he says: You give it all away,
I can say: I am not sorry. I sing.

I have somehow fallen out of the habit of reading poetry. It doesn't always fit seamlessly into my/our crowded life - it requires a moment of contemplation not multitasking. I really must make the time though because it can take my breath away (see above). Mairead Small Staid's lovely post at the Hairpin, In Need of Poetry, was a welcome reminder of the pleasures of poetry and some of the amazing poets who are writing now. Lots of names and links to follow up on...

Have you read anything striking recently? Any contemporary poets you want to big up? I'm putting Lindenberg's McSweeney's collection on my wishlist.

Chuck x

Thursday, June 13, 2013


So I reckon the breakdown of Films I Watch looks something like this:

40% Dumb action films/films where things explode (R's choices)
40% Interesting, beautiful, worthwhile films that I appreciate but do not enjoy/emotionally connect with
10% Old favourites I have watched so many times I can quote at length
10% Surprising, exciting, fun new films that I actually bond with

The latter category are obviously rare and special and deserve to be hyped. Populaire falls into this category. I saw it at the cinema recently and it was a delight. It is charming - beautiful, sweet and silly without being moronic. It is a 1960s style romantic comedy (superior precursor to the romcom) about a French shopkeeper's daughter who dreams of escaping the tedium of rural life by becoming a secretary. [Different times; sure, there are things to be said re gender politics but for once I am going to refrain.] Her new boss enters her into a speed-typing competition and, of course, things snowball...  

The design is gorgeous, the costumes are perfect, the soundtrack is great. The cast is a treat, the romance is understated, the whole thing is cute without being cloying. They manage to inject excitement and tension into typing! And nothing blows up! I didn't cry and my attention didn't wander. That's really all I can ask. This film won't win any awards and it won't change your life but it is a deeply enjoyable 111 mins and if you get a chance to see it I would highly recommend it. There are some really horrible Hollywood trailers so I won't embed any but if you want to watch one this is better than most.

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

Chuck x

Saturday, June 8, 2013


What we're eating:

Toasted Tortillas + Guacamole

Lime Chilli Slaw + Pulled Pork + Grilled Corn on the Cob

No, I didn't grow up with good 'ol Southern cooking but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it.

Food gatherings are my favourite kind of social event.

Chuck x