Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dangerous Doll Dilemmas

Omg, throwback!

So, you know how there are those cultural icons that we all recognize and "get" even if we haven't checked out the original? We all know the line, "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all," but was it Shakespeare or Yeats or wrote it? (It was Alfred Lord Tennyson, in case you were curious.)

Well, this month's novel is one of those. It's Valley of the Dolls, darling.

Valley of the Dolls was first published in 1966 by Jacqueline Susann. 1966. That's kind of way before my time. Super Mario didn't even exist yet. (Do you see how history can be a cruel mistress?) But people reference this novel left and right; "oh God, this is like a scene out of Valley of the Dolls," people say, especially when referencing one of those tragic soap operas. *"Nadia's Theme" starts playing in the background*

But what is Valley of the Dolls really about?

I'll tell you, so you'll know, and you can impress your friends. It's a novel about three young women, Anne, Jennifer, and Neely, who work in the arts and discover the helpfulness of little dolls (codeword for pills) that help them lose weight or sleep. Anne is the most formal of the trio, and is more or less the main character. Jennifer is a sweet girl known only for her amazing body, which causes her to question her intelligence capacity, and Neely is a young woman trying to make it big in Broadway and Hollywood.

The novel is a clear reflection on another cultural icon we have (that I won't try to explain here): the feminine mystique. All the girls really want to do (except for Anne, who feels crappy about the fact) is get married and bang out kids. That's the goal, and career comes second. Way to reach for the sky er, uterus, right? That's what makes this novel so interesting; it's Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique in fiction form.

One thing that Susann does that really kind of shocked the pants off me was use the "f" word. And she used it a LOT. Not the f**k one, but the f*g one. Consider this exert from one of the secondary characters, Helen, a famous but lonely actress:
"Oh, I can always scare up someone. My designer will take me, or Bobby Eaves, my accompanist. But they're both fags. That's the trouble--no real men these days. Plenty of fags, but no men. I hate to go to an opening with a faggot. It's like wearing a sign: 'This is all I could get.'"

(Welcome to the entertainment industry, toots.)

With such a pottymouth, it's no wonder that this novel was so salacious, on top of scandalous infidelity moments, including that of one of the men sleeping around on his wife with other men. But in terms of narrative structure and social issues raised without bashing the reader across the face with them, Susann performs an excellent job. For being such an old (and therefore potentially outdatable) novel, it's certainly worth the read in one's free time to consider more than just it's cultural quote. It's rating? Totally Awesome.


But as a warning, totally don't skip out on the novel and only watch the film. I watched the film, and it was a bit of a disappointment. They changed the ending entirely, so, don't try to pass off as having read the novel and have just watched the film. You might get called on it. And barbiturates may get shoved down your throat.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ok, One More Christmas Video

Because, I couldn't resist. I'm going up to New Jersey/New York for Christmas and I actually have family that sorta sound like this. Plus John Roberts is just hilarious.

Who wants Baileys? Yes. My Holiday. Please.

Have An Awesome Christmas*!

My FAVORITE Christmas song, from me to you. Time to chug some eggnog.

*And other assorted winter themed holidays.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's a Cruel, Cruel Cruel Summer...


I'm not dead. Although it seemed like it because I couldn't remember what day it was for about 3 weeks.

My intention was to do a sort of "this semester in numbers" post where I listed an object or an activity and then the number of times performed, but it kind of got boring after "numbers of books read," "number of pages written," and "number of wine bottles consumed." Maybe next year.

Instead, I'm going to reflect back on this year with remembrance and a fondness that mirrors sharks giving birth. (You know they eat all of their siblings in utero, right?)

1/2 Winter 2010
I know, it's super weird that I'm starting with winter, but you can't really consider January "Spring," now can you? It was cold. Super cold. I was living in Tampa in my own apartment, and working hard going to school and working part time to pay for all of those graduate applications. I fell in love with my crockpot and Netflix (these are ongoing affairs, in case you're curious. *rubs crockpot gently*). I like never slept, and was freaking out about whether or not I'd finish undergraduate school, but I made it.

Spring 2010
The problem with applying to so many graduate schools is that they all send you rejection letters in the same 2 week period. It was completely Pavlovian; I started to avoid going to the mailbox at all costs, but then one accepted me! And it was exciting because I got into grad school - yay! So I made preparations to move and to say goodbye to Tampa, a city I still miss greatly.

Summer 2010
You know what song never goes out of style? "Cruel Summer" by Ace of Base. Every year, you have to listen to it at least once. In fact, it's December, and I must listen to it now. During the Summer, I resurfaced on this earth as a bright eyed, bushy tailed kid with a degree and respectable Fall plans. I applied to over 67 different jobs (I stopped writing down the number after 67, but I'm sure there were a few more after that). The only one that got back to me was the one that didn't pay - the internship. So, to add some experience to the old resume, I drove an hour outside of town and back twice a week. It was dull work, but I loved their computers. (Giant screens FTW! *computer nerd* :B)

Fall 2010
New town, new school, new hair-do. I just like to refer to this semester as rough, and leave it at that. I'm still impressed that I made it through. There's so much I learned so quickly that my head's still spinning. My days began to blend together, and for a while there, I forgot how to spell my own middle name.

Then I remembered that I didn't have one.

It's been really bizarre standing around in that place where you're a student, but you're a teacher too. I went out to dinner with people who had Doctorate degrees and who were successful businesspeople, and they treated me like one of them instead of the kid who tagged along. All of a sudden, people were listening to what I had to say, and I had to keep double-checking myself to make sure that what I said wasn't my usual vapid air-headed drivel. (Omg, speaking of, did you hear about Michael C. Hall - the dude who plays Dexter on Dexter - getting a divorce from his wife and co-star, Jennifer Carpenter? Granted, I will forever picture Michael as the uptight homo on Six Feet Under, taking it up the butt from his black lova, Matthew St. Patrick, who just happens to be from one of the coolest cities on the eastern seaboard, Philadelphia. That's the home city of P!nk, who's totally starting to show in her pregnancy now. Could you imagine being like, "yeah, P!nk's my mom"? Why can't my mom be a pop icon? Are you reading this mom? Now's your chance to lead the nation in the latest drinking ballad!)

1/2 Winter 2010
Well, that pretty much brings us up to date. Next week, I'm heading up north for Christmas and New Years. Maybe I'll take a bunch of pictures of me hanging out in snow and stuff. Or maybe just some sophisticated stuff like some pictures of me standing next to influential works in the Museum of Modern Art or something.

Or maybe another great picture of me slipping on black ice and falling on my ass. What a magical time of year.