Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Casual Vacancy, stolen from my other blog.



The Casual Vacancy
J.K. Rowling
512 pp.
35.00 list price
20.90 Amazon price

*** 1/2
(1/2 star awarded for knocking Fifty Shades of Grey from the top of the New York Times bestseller list, though it only retained the spot for one week.)

Monday-
Bev: Did you get it from the library yet?
Ari: I pick it up tonight.

Tuesday-
Bev: I love it and I hate it. I wonder what her thought process is in writing this! Not a single likeable character!
Ari: I know, and so trashy too.
Heather: Sticks her fingers in her ears to keep from being spoilered.
Ari: I expect ***** to die of a giant coronary and that poor ***** girl who cuts to kill herself.

Wednesday-
Bev: I am waiting for something good to happen. Where are you?
Ari: 391
Bev: Way ahead of me. No spoilers.
Ari: Stares at Bev all afternoon conspiratorially.
Bev: Stop looking at me!

Thursday-
Ari: I'm finished.
Bev: That was fast. No Spoilers!
Ari: All heck breaks loose.

I was extremely apprehensive upon hearing that an adult book was about to be published by J.K. Rowling. I felt that a J.K. book without magic was like birthday cake with no icing. Well, I read it, and I gutted through it, and I am glad for the experience. I found the book acceptable but trashy. In the wake of Barry Fairbrother's death all heck breaks loose politically in the tiny town of Pagford. I did not find any of the adults likable and the teenagers are absolutely atrocious. The behavior of adults and teens alike within the book is appalling. You have every one of the seven deadly sins in here, plus rape, neglect, drug abuse, self harm, bullying....I am pretty sure I have not named all the atrocities within.

"Shaven vulvas, pink labia pulled wide to show darkly gaping slits; Spread buttocks revealing the puckered buttons of of anuses; Thickly lipsticked mouths, dripping semen."

"A great apron of stomach fell so far down in front of his thighs that most people thought instantly of his penis when they first clapped eyes on him, wondering when he had last seen it, how he washed it, how he managed to perform any of the acts for which a penis is designed"


Ms. Rowling's first novel for grownups is peppered with passages such as the ones above, these make  the reader feel as if J.K. is trying way too hard to write for adults. You don't need to have utter filth in a book for grownups. It is like a few Amazon reviewers have said, "It's like the squeaky clean child star who grows up to make a sex tape". Despite all the books shortcomings, it is still a satisfying read, a multi layered story that only Jo could write, but I will not be re reading this one.

If you want to save yourself the cash and a few weeks waitlist at the library, check out this spoilerific article at The Huffington Post. The New York Times review was brutal.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Unlearn

My name is Ari, and I grew up racist.

I grew up Orthodox Jewish in Brooklyn, NY. My neighborhood, Midwood is mostly white and middle class. I grew up to only play with other white, Jewish children. We were all told to walk the other way or cross the street if we encountered Black children. They were called, and I hate to type this word out, Schvartzahs (I believe Schwarz is Yiddish for the color black). We were told that these folks were barely human, behaimot.  They got drunk, high, whatever and liked to rob and beat people up.

I was not only taught this way at home, but in Yeshivah too. We were taught that us Jews were enormously superior to all goyim. Now being proud of being Jewish, being proud of who you are is a wonderful thing to be, but exceptionalism  and a superiority complex are no way to live. What was it, a little more than half a century prior a failed artist in Germany preached racial superiority and us Jews were nearly wiped out. It is only by the grace of the lord that we were able to rebuild our kehillot elsewhere. Why haven't we learned?

This xenophobic, racist mindset still exists today. This is an actual Facebook update from a friend. "Too many abidos (SY [Syrian Jew] slang for black people) at Six Flags this Passover." I got angry and I told the woman that Passover is our time to celebrate our freedom from enslavement. Abido comes from the term abed which means slave. Did she want to be no better than our captors? Another status update read as such "My son told me that Black people smell like McDonald"s. We keep Kosher, what does McDonald"s smell like son? Fried chicken and caca LOL!" NO! NOT LOL! I would wash this child's mouth out with my fancy vanilla shower gel.

I unlearned racism on my own. No Yeshivah accepted me for high school. I thought that it was the end of my world, but it truly was a blessing. I made my first African American friend in math class, Takeevah. I told her that her name sounded a lot like Tikvah, which means hope. I let her cornrow my curls. My mom hit the roof when she saw my braided hair, but cornrows are glorious. I did not have to brush my hair for 10 days. In college I enriched myself further. I read "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" in English 1 and it brought me to tears.

I still have so far to go. I am not perfect. I still live with my family due to my disability. This means that I can't speak freely to defend my friends when my brother goes on a racist diatribe or calls our president a monkey. I'm scared of getting thrown out. I am ashamed that I am too much a coward to speak out. One day I will be on my own, and I will never be silent again. One day I will be brave enough to post this to my blog.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Na-No-BBQ-Mo

Did you slave away all November on National Novel Writing Month? Did you complete 50,000 words and earned the use of the "Winner" badge? If so, what do you think of your novel now that you have had the chance to read your hastily scribbled words? Do you absolutely hate what you wrote? Did you say "Oh great Flying Spaghetti Monster no! This must not see light of day!"

Well, I finally got to read over the literary fruit of my pen, "Dangerously Dating Davids" and I hated it.  My would be tome was filled with stilted dialogue, purple prose, bad grammar and plot holes you could run a freight train through. Unbearably terrible, unbearably horrible, thoroughly unreadable. If asked, I would deny that this turkey came from my pen. In fact, while writing it, I was so ashamed of it that I never submitted word count to the NaNoWriMo website. So while I am not a registered winner, i still technically won because I felt obligated  to complete the monstrosity.

I am certain that "Dangerously Dating Davids" is not the next "Water for Elephants". In fact, I am certain that if submitted to Harlequin, they would shoot back an email stating "You must be shitting me".  Actually, I don't think that they would dignify my work with a response.

No plot, Yes problem, my dear readers.

I propose National Novel Barbecue Month. Submit not to an agent, but to the firey gates of literary hell. I propose that this event be held in late April on the Jewish holiday of Lag b'Omer. Your local synagogue will appreciate your donation of kindling for its bonfire.

Happy Lag b' Omer, stay safe!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

GTFO

This film needs to get crowdfunded- yesterday!
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1319761157/gtfo?ref=city

GTFO stands for Get The Fuck Out. A common refrain to women who are in the gaming industry as fans or those who create content.

From the KickStarter appeal-
"I am just a casual gamer, so I was shocked about a year ago when a friend told me about the abuse that many female gamers and other industry figures endure on a daily basis. I immediately began researching and filming this documentary, titled "GTFO" in reference to the exclusionary response that many women encounter while gaming. "

This subject is important to me because I am a female gamer. My old friend, Shoshana Kessock was just at PAXEast where she was on a panel about women in gaming. It was called "You game like a girl". Unfortunately Sho was harassed in a YouTube  video where someone just identified her as "Big", not by her name. I find this dehumanizing. Even more disturbing is that this troll was a fellow female. You can read Shoshana's reply here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

To sprog or not to sprog.

I spent second seder by my friend, Donna. I absolutely love, love love going to Donna's house for the holidays. Her home is always super cheerful and fun. It is a nice break from being with my family. Donna has two sweet, adorable daughters. These are easily the brightest children i know. The younger one has a spunky, rebellious personality and the older one is a bit more quiet and dreamlike. I admire the spunky, irrpressable personality of the baby, Lisa, but this makes her a handful sometimes. Now and then she will squeal and talk over grownups. To be honest, if I talked over grownups, I would have been in big big trouble. I left having had a good time, but thoroughly exhausted by all the activity. At many points, I told Donna that I don't know how she does it with Lisa and Amy.

This has me wondering if I was meant to have children. I joke that I love children...battered, baked or fried with a salad on the side. I am a big kid myself. My room is covered in glitter, silk flowers and sci fi art, the asthetics of a 12 year old girl. I am what is known as, and made famous by the Kindle Single of the same name, a "Woman-Child". I think I would make a horrible mom, so I simply don't have any to spare any future offspring of mine my flat effect, poor judgement and other afflictions. That and i enjoy sleep too much. Donna tells me that it's ddifferent when they are your own.

I think that the child free folks have a good idea going. Have no kids and enjoy your time. But I genuinely love the company of kids. I am not like one of those folks on the CFHardcore LiveJournal who gtes super offended if they see a child anywhere. I just enjoy the company of children I can borrow and give back when I am tired.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I wore stockings for this!?

Friends, today was the day. I interviewed at FIT's cosmetics and fragrance marketing major...and i choked. I bombed. I sucked a golf ball through a garden hose.

Turns out, they had me scheduled for yesterday. My planner said today. !@#$!. The chair was nice enough to interview me anyway. What followed was the scariest 20 minutes of my life so far. I don't remember much of it, though it only happened an hour ago (defense mechanism, perhaps?) What I do remember is that my idea for my cosmetics line was politely shot down. I was told that the major is math and chemistry heavy, both things i am bad at. She commented on my heavy arts background and politely told me that Hunter has an excellent fine arts program. I'm so screwed.

Calvin Klein failed out of FIT, Jim Henson failed out of University of Maryland. Time for plan B.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mad About Art.

I was in the Education unit bathroom, spackleing myself with Smashbox primer. Is this stuff supposed to be so...slippery? Hmmm, that beauty blogger was right, it does blur the pores and nasty bits a little. I was painting my face in preparation for the night's gallery benefit and I had my beauty loot spread in front of me. Sixty minutes to artist's call at Skylight West. I applied my eyes, three different muted shades of brown, over a different Smashbox primer, I then top off my lids with Clinique mascara. I finished the look off with Flirt! plum lipgloss. My hair was fluffed out, a little frizzy, but what could I really do this soon before?

Photo

I walk ten blocks to Skylight West. I am very, very early. I see that my work is situated between Richard and Rivky's collaborative collages and Bernie Stoute's ladders. It looks a little dark, but there are folks on ladders tinkering with the lights. I see my work, simple and unframed on the white wall. Even if it does not sell, I have the satisfaction of making it this far. Davida then saunters up to me to tell me that I have one of the first bids of the night, and we have not even started yet. We gather in the green room for pizza and I slip my feet into my heels, smooth out my clothes and touch up my face.

Photo

The function begins. I happily work the room. I go look at the art from other contributors. The piece that moves me most deeply is "Man Down" a very simple sculpture of an American flag folded into a triangle. Such a striking title, you feel the emotion of the work right in the gut. My gramps was a World War 2 veteran. I remembered the flag we had for him two years ago. The night passes. I drink multiple Diet Cokes with cherries in them. I go for a smoke, I talk to a lovely lady who lets me try her perfume. I run into Bevin, I talk up my work a bit more, but it is selling itself. I am at five bids. After I touch up my gloss for the third time, I notice that Davida's work got bid on. She was graceful enough to tell me mine was selling, so I shared the good news with her. At several points throughout the night, I am in danger of losing my eye makeup to tears of joy.

Photo: Bernie Stoute

Azure Bourne totally hits a home run with her moving speech. She was just featured in our Collaged Realities show. I am having a blast, I am fairly sure that the young man from Williamsburg was angling for my phone number. He is cute though. I go back to the green room and exchange my super cute mary jane heels for sneakers, my feet want a divorce. A really sweet man named Steve walks up to me and asks if I am bidding. I tell him that I am the artist. He wants it for his 17 month old daughter's room. I am touched, I hope he wins. I get another coke, I fetch Davida an orange juice. A woman named Priscilla has been bidding up my work all night. In the last nine minutes, all out bid war happens. It's Priscilla vs. Steve in what looks like a fine arts cage match putting through their bids on an iPad. Priscilla emerges victorious. 

Photo

I leave Skylight West at 9:30, people are still talking and eating as I go. I really don't want to leave yet. I give the room one last look and I am bound for the Q train home.