Articles, interviews, tidbits and rants from New York entertainment journalist Dan Avery
Friday, April 29, 2005
Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret.
I'm a big fan of Dan Savage and his weekly advice column "Savage Love," carried locally in the Village Voice. He's honest (even when it might hurt) and he's not afraid to call "bullshit" on people who are clearly in denial about the state of their relationships or the messages they're sending out.
But, as much as I love Dan's writing (you should definitely pick up a copy of his book Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America), its the letters he gets that really make the column what it is.
Last week, he ran a letter from a 15-year-old girl who was confused by the whole boy/girl thing (sigh—aren't we all!) She asked for advice from some of Dan's more experienced readers and they replied in spades.
The responses ranged from the heartfelt
Understand that most relationships are not forever—they have a beginning and an end. The fact that something ends does not negate the time you spent together.to the blunt
Some guys will fuck mud. Just because a guy is willing to have sex with you, it’s not indicative that he likes your personality or finds you physically attractive.
Here's one reader's list of tips for teen girls. If any former 15-year-old-girls (or boys) want to comment, please feel free.
The 15 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was 15
1. Confidence is sexier than big boobs, a tiny waist, or long blond hair will ever be.
2. Medicated face wash will save your life.
3. 15-year-old guys are just as shy around girls as girls are around them. Beware the 15-year-old guys who can kick game.
4. Making the first move is no longer taboo.
5. Chances are, he is not picking up on the subtle “I like you” signals you’re sending out. A smile here and “Hi” there will not be enough for him to know you like him; you may have to tackle him in the hallway with a note that spells it all out, in no confusing terms.
6. At 15, three weeks constitutes a “long-term” relationship.
7. Rejection is not the end of the world, unless you make it that way.
8. You have the boobs, you make the rules.
9. That being said, having the power of the boobs is like having the force; be careful how and when you use it.
10. Not all guys are created equal.
11. Your mom is right; that outfit DOES make you look like a whore.
12. There will be rumors.
13. Being fun and funny will get you further than being catty and bitchy.
14. He’s not as great as you think he is.
15. The most popular, pretty girl in school is just as awkward and confused as you are.
In the room downstairs
He sat and stared
In the room downstairs
He sat and stared
I’ll never make that mistake again
Friday, April 22, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Meet My Boyfriend
I have a new boyfriend. His name is Eric Berndt.
Now, to be honest, Eric and I have never met—and I don't even really know what he looks like. But he put Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in his place, and that's enough to send my heart aflutter
Eric and I are both at NYU, so maybe I'll run into him reading case histories in the law library or sipping a latte at Café Reggio on Macdougal. I'll look into his deep, soulful eyes and he mine, and we'll know we were meant to be together.
[note: The previous comments are merely idle fantasy. Big Words does not condone stalking (unless the victim is single and really, really cute)]
Monday, April 11, 2005
Falwell Hospitalized Again
Y ask Why
It's always depressing when some aspect of pop culture you've depended on to brighten your day suddenly disappoints you. It could be a favorite TV show or entertainment magazine—or maybe a boozy white trash gold-digger who suddenly drops, like, 300lbs.
I can't quite place my finger on when it happened, but somehow, for me, the spark has gone out of Y, the Last Man.
In case I haven’t droned on about it to you already, Y: the Last Man is—sigh, was—a brilliant comic book written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Pia Guerra (one of the few female artists in the comics industry) for Vertigo Comics, an avant garde, no-men-in-tights imprint put out by DC Comics (think Disney and Miramax).
In the series, Yorick Brown, a twentysomething slacker/escape artist with low self-esteem, is quite literally the last man on Earth. In one horrifying moment, all the males on the planet (human or otherwise) just dropped dead. 49% of the world's population—and a higher percentage of doctors, politicians, engineers, soldiers, etc.—gone, just like that. Except for Yorick, that is, and his pet Capuchin monkey, Ampersand.
Another post-apocalyptic nightmare, you ask? Absolutely not. What made Y so brilliant is that Vaughn avoided most of the sci-fi cliches to focus on the human interest elements inherent in that kind of scenario. Why all the men died has still not been explained after 32 issues (though a number of interesting possibilities have been hinted at) and we're only now beginning to understand how Yorick and Amp survived.
Instead, we saw Yorick and his companions, geneticist Alison Mann and the mysterious government agent 355, deal with all kinds of stuff—guilt, loneliness, power struggles, sexual politics and the possible extermination of human civilization. It's easily one of the most pro-feminist works of literature I've ever read. And not because Earthwomen, finally free of the shackles of male oppression, create some kind of utopian gynocracy. Just the opposite—they proved to be full of the same mistrust, greed and fear that hindered their male counterparts.
Like other great works of science fiction--Day of the Triffids and "28 Days Later," for example--Y:TLM imagines what the world would really be like after a catastrophic disaster, rather than some monkeys-running-the-world fantasy (Don't get me wrong, I love me some Planet of the Apes, too).
Over the first 30 issues, as Yorick and his friends trekked cross-country to reach Dr. Mann's lab in San Francisco, they dealt with everything from traffic jams and food poisoning to right-wing militias, murder and military coups. The pacing was slow, but Vaughn's gift for dialogue and drama made the pay-off all the richer.
I joined the series late, but went back and collected every issue from number 1 onwards. The first Wednesday of every month, I got a rush knowing the next installment was coming out.
I would talk up the series at parties and buy the trade paperbacks as birthday presents for friends who weren't even into comics. (They all thanked me later.)
Something's changed in the past few months, though.
I'm not sure when it started. Maybe it was the 15th time some mysterious woman showed up to sidetrack Yorick and Co. from their very important mission.
Maybe it was the growing web of conspiracies and secrets that were never fully explained. (What ultimately killed "The X-Files.")
Or maybe it was the fact that since our band of heroes was constantly on the go, we never got much in the way of an extended cast of characters. Interesting characters—like a paranoid Israeli army captain, a Russian astronaut, a Catholic "priest" and various possible love interests for Yorick (who, despite being the last man on Earth, has been trying to save himself for his missing fiancée, Beth)—would pop up and disappear just as quickly.
Finally, last month, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Instead of the rush of excitement and anticipation that usually accompanied finishing an issue, I found myself feeling somewhat bored and disappointed at the end of issue 31, when Yorick set sail for Japan.
The whole experience has been very disheartening. I imagine it's probably like what some people felt when "Buffy" was cancelled or when The Phantom Menace premiered. Your "go-to"—that thing guaranteed to make you forget the stress of life for at least an hour or so—doesn’t work anymore.
I'm not blaming anyone. In fact, I think it was inevitable, given the nature and pacing of the series. Some stories have a finite shelf-life and I think YTLM just passed its expiration date.
Maybe, I'm wrong and this is just a slow patch. I'll keep checking back in periodically—skimming the issues in the store to see if the magic has come back. But I'm not holding my breath.
The upside, though, is that now I have $2.95 a month to invest in a new comic book.
I've been hearing great things about Ex Machina.