Category Archives: NYT

How to Look Pretty

I am the beautiful reflection / Of my love's affection ...

The Gray Lady has been full of useful advice for the ladies the past couple of weeks! Here are some of her thoughtful suggestions:

Feeding tubes for brides. Looking to fit into that too-small wedding dress in a too-short amount of time? Why not go the Terri Schiavo route? Members of Congress might not judge you brain dead but I certainly might.

Get your husband to sponsor your waxing and obscenely-expensive footwear.

Take multiple exercise classes per day.  Take so many, in fact, that you have no time for men and totally lose sight of why you’re trying to get thin in the first place: “Ms. Greisman, who is single, said she often forfeits other social events for her workouts — ‘the gym is where my friends are,’ she said — and does not make plans on Saturday apart from three of her favorite classes, which run from 11:45 a.m. to nearly 5 p.m. Dating, she mused, ‘would be challenging.'”

* Last but not least, corsets! “Getting the look requires some grit. Tugging on a faja can become a desperate bout of woman versus fabric. Flesh must be coaxed inside, battened down by hooks and, finally, sealed with a zipper that can force the air out of your lungs. ‘The first day you can’t stand it,’ Ms. Murillo said. ‘But then it loosens it up.'”

You Should Be Ashamed

Several notable people in the media spotlight these days should be ashamed: Muammar “Mad Dog” Qaddafi, for mowing down civilians in the city center; Rush Limbaugh for calling Michelle Obama (THIS Michelle Obama!) fat; Baz Luhrmann for deciding to remake the Great Gatsby.

In 3-D. In Australia.

I mean, I *like* Baz. I own his Red Curtain trilogy — Romeo & Juliet, Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge — box set. And even I know that is a terrible idea on par with an all-cat ballet production of “Hamlet.”

My award for the person who should most be ashamed of themselves is none of the above. Of Qaddafi, as my old co-worker Adam astutely pointed out, no more could be expected. Limbaugh has been burbling offensive nonsense for too many years for us to suddenly take umbrage now. And Baz? Well, at least he’s taking artistic chances, and at least he’s offering us the fascinating Michelle Williams as Daisy.

NYT graphic

My award goes to Modern Love contributor Andrea Askowitz who succeeded, this weekend, is publishing the most smug, sexist, cringe-inducing piece of narcissism I have seen in a long while. In it, she describes her efforts to snare “a young wife,” one with, she specifies, “big breasts. A pretty face is nice too.”

But she’s not shallow! Far from it. She’s overeducated. Quoth she:

Scientists have discovered that the lower the body’s waist-hip ratio (medically known as the WHR), the more attractive the woman. Marilyn Monroe, for example, had a 0.7 WHR, meaning her waist was 30 percent smaller than her hips. Salma Hayek and the Venus de Milo also have small waists relative to the size of their hips.

I didn’t know any of this at the time, but I would find myself walking along Lincoln Road on South Beach, where I’d notice a woman between the ages of 18 and 35 spilling out of the top of her dress. She’d pass by and I’d turn to leer at her behind. If it was big, I’d have an uncontrollable urge to club her over the head and drag her to my fertility cave.

I wasn’t objectifying women. I was a woman of science.

Anyone out there want to vomit with me? We could make a party of it. I’ll go, then you’ll go, and then we’ll admire the newly splatter-painted carpet. Because this offensive, unselfconscious blathering goes on.

Once she tracks down the nubile-seeming future mommy, *she* wants to do the inseminating.

“Can I do the insemination?” I asked.

Before the nurse answered, Victoria said, “I don’t think you can do that.”

I felt clubbed in the head.

MY moment was now and the woman I loved — my woman with childbearing hips — was thwarting my destiny.

“My woman with childbearing hips.” Her woman! Who is there to serve her needs! Who dares to have opinions of her own about how her own body should be treated!

This is all about power and control, where the woman who has the sperm — who, btw, seems to have the most serious case of penis envy I’ve ever seen in real life — gets to make the decisions. If she actually thought it would be hot to do the turkey-basting, all Andrea had to do was ask her poor girlfriend IN ADVANCE, and not wait until GF was stretched out naked and uncomfortable and cold and with a nurse looking on. I can’t think of anything more awkward than fighting with my partner in that position; of course she gave in rather than continuing to argue.

Andrea gets everything she wants–first, her “top pick” sperm, baseball-playing, college-educated, mother-loving man juice (10 vials at $250 each), which produces one child; then, a wife & mommy with a perfect waist-to-hip ratio willing to be impregnated by that sperm; and finally, getting to do the impregnating herself. And she writes about her triumph in the New York Times!

Comfort comes from one source, anyway: Hubris of this magnitude is exactly the kind of thing that makes the gods snort with laughter.

“Recommended by 0 Readers”

This contender for “best comment ever” appears on a Gray Lady article called “The Mommy Penalty,” documenting the damage done to women’s salary prospects after they take off time to have kids. Doctors fare better than MBAs; PhDs fall somewhere in the middle. Starbucks employees? Who cares? Not the NYT!

But that’s not important right now. What’s important is, this man (who sure does love his exclamation points!) has probably never spent several hours pacing in the dark while carrying, and singing to, an inconsolable infant who is squalling and leaking fluids onto his shoulder.

If I had to choose between repeating that night I spent babysitting a six-month-old and “material riches,” you’re damn right I would dive for the MBA — or the MBA, or the PhD –, and so would he. I mean, if the tedious, thankless work of keeping babies alive is “priceless,” why the hell doesn’t he do it?

Judging by the resounding silence that greeted his comment — if you listen hard, you can even hear cyber-crickets! — the Gray Lady’s fan base agrees with me.

The More You Know …

PSA of the week, courtesy of my having time to kill. You’re welcome.

 Men more likely to cheat on women with bigger paychecks, study says – Like MUCH more likely: “Men who are completely economically dependent on their female partners are five times more likely to cheat than men in relationships with women who earned similar amounts.”

Thanks, CNN! I needed an excuse to hop off the career ladder and focus on my writing which, in the past six months, has netted me a total of $100.00. It does seem to me, though, that a man who is completely economically dependent on his female partner is a unicorn. Could anyone really gather enough unicorns to make a statistically-significant sample?

Mythology aside, I can’t resign myself to a happy, faithful, penurious marriage just yet, because, as we know from the Sopranos, Mad Men, and the entire history of EVERYTHING since we got down from the trees, “A man who makes significantly more money than his girlfriend or wife is also more likely to cheat.”

Hmmm, it’s wet and salty in here. Where are we again, exactly? Oh yes: we’re in a pickle. By “we,” of course, I mean ladies. We’re damned if we support a guy and damned if we are supported by him. Is there any hope in sight, CNN-cited pseudo-scientists?

“Men in relationships with women who made about 75 percent of the men’s income were the least likely to cheat.”

Well! There it is. Make exactly 3/4 of whatever your resident male rakes in and you’ll be set. Or go lez. I know which I think would be less of a hassle.

There are fun facts aplenty in this article about How Not to Die While Walking from the NYT. Don’t cross in the crosswalk, for example. Avoid “crosstown thoroughfares like 125th Street or Canal Street,” where half of all pedestrian deaths occur. (Yikes!)

You want more? Of course you do:

Do not go anywhere between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., stick to the side streets and skip Manhattan entirely. … cabs accounted for far fewer pedestrian accidents in Manhattan than privately owned vehicles. Jaywalkers, surely the city’s most numerous scofflaws, were involved in fewer collisions than their law-abiding counterparts who waited for the “walk” sign — although accidents involving jaywalkers are more likely to result in death.

And one discovery could permanently upend one of the uglier stereotypes of the motoring world: in 80 percent of city accidents that resulted in a pedestrian’s death or serious injury, a male driver was behind the wheel. (Fifty-seven percent of New York City vehicles are registered to men.)

This edition of “the More You Know” is brought to you by my latent anti-man bias, apparently. Some of my closest friends are guys, I swear!

One last tidbit: “Pedestrians would be well advised to favor sidewalks to the right of moving traffic — left-hand turns were three times as likely to cause a deadly crash as right-hand turns.” Left-hand turns: sinister & deadly. Got it.

By the way, feeling good about America these days? You shouldn’t be.

Lastly, this just in: Power corrupts! No word yet on “absolute power,” but I have a working hypothesis.

So Sexual!

This article about church counselling for women who are addicted to porn goes off the rails so fast you don’t even hear the squeal. All of a sudden, the train is lying on its side, smoking, its wheels spinning pitifully in the air.

The piece begins innocently enough:

Ms. Renaud, who is taking a DVD course in sexual addiction counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors, said she started the group and the Web site based on her own experiences. She became interested in pornography at age 10 after finding a magazine in her brother’s bathroom. After that, she said, “I wasn’t able to get enough of it.”

“At school I wanted to go home and look at it more,” she said. “Then I went online. I’d stay late at the library to look at it. Eventually I got into masturbation, phone sex, cybersex.” She also cracked the code on the family’s satellite television service, she said. “That was my life for eight years.” Then, she said, she met a Christian woman who helped her stop.

Porn can be addictive; addictions can disrupt your life. Problem, meet Solution. Great!

Then the article gets wacky:

The programs at Ms. Renaud’s group and at XXX Church diverge from secular sexual theory by treating masturbation and arousal as sins rather than elements of healthy sexuality. Emphasis is on recovering “sexual purity,” in which thoughts of sex outside marriage are illicit.

There you are, Gentle Reader, meandering through the flowering meadows of NYT prose, and out of nowhere, a great white shark bites you on the leg. That is how strange & abrupt this twist is. “Arousal” is a sin? You know that’s biological, right? As for “Thoughts of sex outside marriage,” well, yikes. If you don’t even think about it, how do you know you want it — and what “it” even is in the first place, or what kind of “it” you think you may like when the time comes?

This piece purports to be about porn addiction. What it ends up saying is that there are churches out there — whole faiths, even — that are making biological truths into religious crimes. Maybe not a significant majority of women has a problem with porn, but surely a significant majority thinks about sex. Especially since we are, you know, wired to.

It goes on:

As an adult she needed pornography to be aroused with her husband, she said. “I’m learning the correct way of intimacy and bonds,” she said of the group. “It’s learning what your spouse wants, his needs.” In her first weeks, she recalled, she struggled to avoid masturbation.

I feel awful for that woman. She was using porn with her husband. Consensually! In the context of matrimony! Why does she need to be shamed for that? Why does “the correct way” to have sex have to eliminate the aids to her desire? If she’s already married, why can’t she masturbate? Is it okay if she promises to only think of him?

Presumably porn is titillating because it is forbidden, because it seems “wrong.” It must seem even more so to people whose community norms are so extreme. Vilifying porn, even in the context of marriage — and not just porn but, as the article lists, “Masturbation, Lustful Thinking, Cutting, Feeling Useless, Dad’s Bad Choices, Self-Gratification, Self-Mutilation, Unhealthy Thoughts” — only adds to the cycle and makes those activities more enticing.

Also, part of me wonders whether there is a queer subtext to all of this. Are the women under discussion drawn to porn because they are attracted to women? I mean, of course there are lots of reasons to watch the stuff, but in my experience the men are as gross as the women are fake. Maybe the stigma against admitting an attraction towards the same gender is worse than the stigma of admitting an addiction to smut.

The purity of childhood

This NYT article showcases — and, naturally, frets about — the young, female star of a violent movie. Not because she is violent, but because she uses naughty words.

the filmmakers are bracing for the reception that the movie and Ms. Moretz may receive. In Britain, where the movie was released at the end of March, David Cox of The Guardian assailed its creative team and Ms. Moretz’s mother for allowing that swear word spoken by Chloë to become “acceptable parlance for children in mainstream movies,” adding, “We’ll be the poorer for it.”

Now, I don’t know which bit of verbal raunch is being referenced here. Perhaps it’s garden variety (“shit,” “bitch”). Perhaps it’s what Kurt Vonnegut in Mother Night called “the most offensive compound word in the English language.”

(Speaking of Vonnegut, let’s hear what he has to say on the impact of salty talk:

There is the word “motherfucker” one time in my Slaughterhouse-Five, as in, “Get out of the road, you dumb motherfucker.” Ever since that word was published, way back in 1969, children have been attempting to have intercourse with their mothers. When it will stop no one knows.)

God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut. I hope that, when you got to Heaven, they gave you a perch with a good view of all the nonsense that goes on down here.

Regardless, is this really something to get all yelpy about? Me, I love “bad language.” The more creatively vulgar, the better. Cursing features prominently in some of my favorite movies. And what makes me particularly disappointed in stuffy old Mr. David Cox of the Guardian is that British profanity is even more gleeful and entertaining than the American kind.

When I was thirteen, the same age as this tender young actress, I could turn the air around me so blue you would think Cookie Monster had exploded. I turned out okay and so did my friends, who were occasionally shocked but usually on board. “A word after a word after a word is power,” says Margaret Atwood, who is one savvy lady, and who understands that for young girls especially saying what folks don’t expect them to is an excellent way to be not just looked at but seen.

The article goes on:

Mr. Vaughn said this kind of condemnation was hypocritical because it attacked the movie’s language while essentially forgiving its violence. “I was like, ‘Does it not bother you that she killed about 53 people in this film?’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Would you rather your daughter swore, or became a masked vigilante killer?’ They’re going, ‘Yeah, I don’t know.’”

freakish and disproportional

I INQUIRED about the price of a ladies’ tuxedo jacket, since I couldn’t find the tag, and learned that the jacket was not sold separately from its matching black satin teddy ($1,700).

“Would you still like to try it on?” one of the tattooed ladies asked.

“I’d rather see it on you, actually,” I replied.

She very sweetly and immediately obliged.

I inspected the peplum and the Balmain-esque shoulder pads. “It’s a very small size, isn’t it?”

“Well, I’m a 32D, so it fits great,” my helper said in response.

It was refreshing to hear a demi-couture jacket’s merits discussed in terms of cup size. I was surprised that a 32D didn’t look at all freakish or disproportional, like a Japanese robot or Pam Anderson during her Kid Rock phase.

Is it my imagination or does this seem like the opening of a mediocre piece of erotica? Maybe handling all those ben-wa balls made this author feisty. Regardless, I’d appreciate it if, in the future, she kept her surprise that ordinary-sized people are not, in fact, hideous monsters to herself.

Pamela Anderson is 36DD, which would translate to a 32G. Not that that makes her freakish, either, but the author may as well get her insulting facts right. Seriously, Meghan McCain is on the right track here, and you, Cintra Wilson, are feeding guppies to the piranhas of women’s insecurity and body-hate.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: WTF, NYT.

Choice Quotes for a Choice Season

Let’s get some happiness going! Right? It is, after all, the season of joy and giving and stuffing and family and light and gifts and puns — the holly-jolly-days! And if I am not full on in the spirit of things, I may as well pretend!

To get us started, here are some amazing quotes from today’s internets:

“At one point, Mr. Hatch unbuttons his white dress shirt to expose the golden mezuzah necklace he wears every day. Mezuzahs also adorn the doorways of his homes in Washington and Utah. Mr. Hatch keeps a Torah in his Senate office.

“Not a real Torah, but sort of a mock Torah,” he said. {NYT}

Is a mock Torah anything like a mock turtle, or a mock turtleneck? As we ponder, let us read on:

“It makes me sad sometimes, but I don’t care because I try not to think about it. Sometimes your dreams get crushed but you just keep going.” {NYT}

This one is beyond mocking. (Although, ha ha! See what I did there?)

If you can see with those tears in your eyes, check out this Jewish version of Lady Gaga, singing “Bad Shiksa“:

Key takeaway, in case you can’t watch videos at work:
I’m your Bad Shiksa

I want your horah
I kvell for your kiss
I want that scrap of skin you lost at your bris
I want your love
(Love-love-love I want your love)

I’ll dress up jappy, I’ll dress up all frum
I’ll call you Shabbos and pretend I’m your mom
I want your love
I want your love
(Love-love-love I want your love)

You know that I want Jews
(’Cause I’m a trayf bitch baby! )
I’m just a bad, I’m a Bad Shiksa

Beat that, Orrin Hatch.

As a Box of Hammers

When experts come off as idiots in the pages of the Washington Post, I wonder whether the problem is with bad ideas or bad expression. Or both? For example:

“No man is an island,” said Nicholas A. Christakis, a professor of medicine and medical sociology at Harvard Medical School

“Loneliness is more than just feeling bad,” said Chris Segrin, a professor of communication and health at the University of Arizona

The researchers said the effect could not be the result of lonely people being more likely to associate with other lonely people because they showed the effect over time. “It’s not a birds-of-a-feather-flock-together effect,” Christakis said.

I’m going to put together a study showing that even really bright people speak almost entirely in cliches. Although how bright are these guys? First they tell us our fat friends make us fat, but don’t abandon them! (“‘We are not suggesting that people should sever their ties with overweight friends,’ Christakis adds. ‘But we are suggesting that people are influenced by the behaviors of those around them, and if they’re interested in losing weight, forming ties with people who are the proper weight is likely to be beneficial.'”)

Uh huh. Now, they tell us that having lonely friends will make us lonely. In its lukewarm conclusion, the article does not advise against pushing these folks off on ice floes. At least, not per se. The implication, though, is clear.

These studies are heartbreakingly, essentially American. They present us with “experts” who affirm conventional wisdom, and they “prove” that losers have a social contagion. The fat, the lonely, everyone you instinctively avoided in high school (or else WERE in high school) — all those weirdos — they are not just repellent. They are bad for you.

As awful as these men should feel for wasting our society’s time and resources, the editors of articles such as “Loneliness is transmittable from person to person” should feel worse.

Over in the New York Times, whatever editor was responsible for article juxtaposition shouldn’t be feeling too great either. Roger Cohen’s elegiac opinion piece (currently #3 on the Most Emailed List) ends extolling color-blindness in America, the Land of Opportunity:

Westminster, like Britain, has changed. Openness has grown. Bigotry’s faint refrain has grown fainter still. But I think my old school should throw more light on this episode. And I still believe the greatest strength of America, its core advantage over the old world, is its lack of interest in where you’re from and consuming interest in what you can do.

Directly below it on the Most Emailed List, however, is the article “In Job Hunt, College Degree Can’t Close Racial Gap.” In other words, Cohen’s words will totally apply to you — unless you’re black. Ouch, NYT.

Postcards from the Verge

Jonathan Dee’s NYT Magazine’s article “The Tell-All College Tour” came out this weekend, making half of my face famous, offering new evidence on the Who’s Bigger, Me or Katie Price question (don’t I look TINY in that picture down there in the corner?), and catapulting my fledgling company into the spotlight. Our internet traffic spiked on Friday as soon as the link appeared on the NYT website, and there was much whooping and sending it back and forth in the office.

The media attention guarantees nothing, of course, except that we now have a chance. And although we at one point hit #1 on the Most Emailed list, the Sunday loudmouths have crowded the top and bumped us down to #6. Just what you’d expect of the media elites.

Though I’m glad Jonathan Dee had a positive take on us, I have to say that I’m astonished by the utter lack of fact-checking that occurs over at Gray Lady HQ. You’d think the Paper of Record would take note of the following, wouldn’t you?:

  • there were initially 15 editors, not 20; now there are 13
  • we each were assigned 14 schools to cover, not 10
  • our office is on Park Avenue South, not Park Avenue, though I agree that the latter fits better into Dee’s narrative
  • there are only 20 of us in the entire office, not 26
  • my brother, the quoted “current Cornell student,” is, as he should be at 27, an alum

and so on. Also, I maintain that “the New Face of College Admissions” would have been a better title. But it’s churlish to complain. The buzz is beginning! Perhaps we are well on our way to becoming the next medium-sized thing.

My coworkers and I hooted over Dee’s dour-sounding note at the end of the piece:

It all might seem less suggestive if it weren’t for the fact that this whole “grass-roots movement” seems poised to make a lot of money — most of which seems destined to find its way to the usual suspects, none of whom are part of a grass-roots anything.

As someone who is yet to have made over $30K a year in New York City, I can only say, Amen, brother JDee. Amen.