In last night's Nevada Senatorial, Sharron Angle told Harry Reid to "man up." This was in response to Reid's pressure on Angle regarding her stance on Social Security. The exchange:
Reid: Don't frighten people about Social Security. The deal that was made by President Reagan and Tip O'Neil is holding strong. The money is there and taking care of our folks and will for the next 35 years.
Angle: Man up, Harry Reid. You need to understand that we have a problem with Social Security.
Or: How Robyn Released Three Albums in a Year And Kept Them Interesting.
When I look back at 2010, it will probably have been the Year of Robyn. It was the Year of Pop Music for me, really, but I came back to Robyn again and again. Part of that was accidental—I finally sat down and listened to Robyn, really absorbed that a really great dance-pop track was as brilliant an achievement as a really great, multilayered indie rock song.
Oh, Ken Buck. You make my job so easy, what with your refusing to prosecute a rapist because you thought the victim had had an abortion. Maybe you've heard of the Douchebag Decree, and you got so excited that you tried to be as outrageously bigoted as possible so that we would give you a shout-out? Was that it? Or are you...oh no... you are... just a HUGE DOUCHEBAG ALL ON YOUR VERY OWN.
I'm probably alone on this one, but my secret obsession at the moment is NBC's completely milquetoast Parenthood, and I wish I could better explain why. The show is, of course, well-cast—I'd watch either Peter Krause or Lauren Graham pick their noses for an hour if it came to it—and has that patina of shiny Bay-Area bourgeois healthfulness, complete with artfully cluttered ranch houses and comfortable-looking, natural-fiber clothing and that "no-makeup" look. But dramatically there's very little about it I can recommend to you on a principled basis. It has basically no aspiration to any kind of social commentary whatsoever. (The show does make some gestures towards addressing disability—there is a child with Asperger's depicted on the show—but it is largely framed as how the parents coming to terms with the "tragedy" of having such a child.) But every Wednesday morning, it's the first thing I watch on my DVR lineup. It's soothing, somehow, like warm milk, bland and inoffensive, without challenge. In my overly cerebral, often quite stressful life, it doesn't demand much of me, and it's without the sort of shameful prurience one attaches to, say, certain guilty-pleasure reality shows.
Books that use food as a gateway to emotion can be pretty unbearable (hi again, Eat, Pray, Love). Thankfully, Aimee Bender's new novel is more like one of the fairy tale rewrites I wrote about a few weeks ago than one of those self-indulgent food memoirs.
The story follows Rose Edelstein, who discovers on her ninth birthday that she can taste feelings. When Rose takes a bite of food, it tastes like all the emotions of whoever made it. And not just "happy" and "sad": as she ages and her palate develops, she can sense desires, regrets, hesitations, and many other subtleties hidden inside everything she eats. She knows where every ingredient came from: she can taste the metallic coldness of factories and the specific locations of farms.
Speaking as one of the few women at the Pan-African Congress conference in London, 1900, founding the Colored Women's YWCA in 1905, and pushing W.E.B Du Bois to write Black Reconstruction are only three of Anna Julia Cooper's achievements. Sure, when you live to be 105, you can set your sights high, but in an era of progressive depravity when it came to race and gender, Cooper's position as one of America's formidable scholars and educators is no small feat.
I've been following the discussion about the representativeness of The Social Network, about whether it accurately depicts women and "toxic masculinity" in technology particularly—a conversation which, as I said last week, I've been sort of surprised we're even having. Such a jaded feminist have I become, I guess, since I'm now actively surprised when people actually care about how women are depicted in this culture, but I digress. Personally, I thought the movie was sufficiently infused with internal comment on the misogyny of its characters that I wasn't as upset as I might have been by it's flat depiction of femininity.
I'm hardly the first to observe this sort of thing, of course, but I am, lately, obsessed with this question of how you reconcile your politics to your art. Rather than wade into the discussion on The Social Network particularly, though, since I'm only supposed to be blogging about television here, let's just situate some of these issues in that context.
I double-checked a map of the United States this evening just to make sure that Nevada is not on a border with Mexico, because an ad from Sharron Angle's campaign against Harry Reid implies that undocumented workers sneak into Nevada on a regular basis. Only the ad doesn't call them "undocumented workers," it just refers to "illegals," and I hate when people use adjectives as nouns. The commercial goes on to make a load of misleading or false assertions about Reid's voting record when
it comes to immigration, as comprehensively described by Fact Check.org's website. When it comes to making claims about someone's votes in the House or Senate, there are easy ways to respond and defend one's campaign. Unfortunately, the "Friends of Harry Reid" did not take this approach.
It's something I can never quite put my finger on but I use certain songs to play my own emotions like a musical instrument, to change the way I feel (as long as I can handle feeling something intensely).