Monthly Archives: March 2008

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Switching gears to another polemic

It was another big day for fraudulent memoirs.

I find it so interesting that authors keep lying about their real lives when they could just write fiction. Is there a huge difference between saying “I lived with a pack of wolves” or “I was a teenage drug pusher,” and “Jane Eyre lived with a pack of drug-addicted wolves”?

The fabricated memoir trend resembles the reality TV trend (can trends last a decade?). In reality TV, actual people become actors. The audience demands overweening drama. We* want reality to seem like the movies. And everything on the small screen is more compelling when it’s staged as “reality.” We are complicit in the lie, and yet we’re furious when we find out that the apparent spontaneity of reality TV is actually scripted.

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Funny hoo-ha

I realize that anybody who is anybody on the internet has already blogged today about the “Who Says Women Aren’t Funny?Vanity Fair article, itself a response to the VF article “Why Women Aren’t Funny” by Christopher Hitchens. [Full disclosure: Christopher Hitchens will always be a god to me because he devoted an entire book to putting down Mother Teresa. Who else would have the audacity to do that?] Nevertheless, I want to weigh in on this important debate contrived to sell magazines. Are women funny?

Let me start by saying that all those SNL hotties were ugly in high school. I lack the evidence to back up that statement, but I feel in my gut that it’s true. They were ugly and that’s why they cultivated their personalities. And I have to put that out there because a large portion of the latest Vanity Fair article, supposedly extolling the comedic talents of the fairer sex, is about how pretty these funny ladies are. Alessandra Stanley writes:

It used to be that women were not funny. Then they couldn’t be funny if they were pretty. Now a female comedian has to be pretty—even sexy—to get a laugh.

At least, that’s one way to view the trajectory from Phyllis Diller and Carol Burnett to Tina Fey. Some say it’s the natural evolution of the women’s movement; others argue it’s a devolution. But the funniest women on television are youthful, good-looking, and even, in a few cases, close to beautiful—the kind of women who in past decades might have been the butt of a stand-up comic’s jokes.

Of course female comedians are beautiful. Vanity Fair loves to take pictures of beautiful people. Vanity Fair gets to pick and choose who to put on its cover. Vanity Fair gets to slather the funny women in makeup and dress them in revealing “costumes” and Photoshop them into oblivion and then slap rubber chickens in their hands and pretend that their sexuality is not being exploited.

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Digging lately

In the tradition of ripping off McSweeney’s, here is a list of things I’m digging lately.

1. The movie Charlie Bartlett. It’s a little overly neat, but there’s nothing wrong with an hour and a half of poetic justice. It’s a charming film about a quirky high schooler, but it made my day like Juno didn’t. It’s funny and heartwarming, it’s got Robert Downey Jr. in it, and the kids actually act like kids for the most part. Gustin Nash, the film’s writer, is also adapting Youth in Revolt. I can’t wait.

2. This New Republic review of What Is the What by Dave Eggers. When culture critics mourn the death of the book review, I want to direct them to this fine piece of writing.

3. Bananas. They are so good. I must have a potassium deficiency.

4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This FX show got so little publicity and so few viewers in its first season that the producers had to recruit Danny Devito in order to raise its celebrity quotient. Danny Devito. But it turns out he’s hilarious. Why isn’t Devito in more stuff? I think It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will do for Devito’s career what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta’s.

5. Taking out the compost.

5. My new C.L.A.W. t-shirt, designed by Thomas Dean. Get ’em while they’re hot. Next arm wrestling match is March 11th at the Blue Moon Diner.

6. Being off the sauce. It’s really not so bad once you get used to it. Last night I craved a margarita, but I just ate five pounds of tortilla chips instead. Alcohol has been one of my biggest expenses, and I am now free to spend this month’s savings on dental bills and car insurance payments. It’s a sumptuous reward for all my hard work.

7. Good & Plenty’s. Because I have a lot of siblings, I quickly learned to love relatively unpopular candies like licorice and Necco Wafers. This way, no one would get into my stash. I know it’s a Machiavellian tactic, but Catholics have to find some way to get ahead in their families.

CNN can even make book news tabloid-worthy

It’s no “Woman reunited with monkey,” but it’s still pretty sensational:

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — A Belgian writer has admitted that she made up her best-selling “memoir” depicting how, as a Jewish child, she lived with a pack of wolves in the woods during the Holocaust, her lawyers said Friday.

I hate it when I can’t help blogging about something that I KNOW Leno and Letterman are going to monologue about, but honestly? She said that she lived with a pack of wolves? And that she and the wolves walked 1,900 miles to find her parents? And that Anne Frank was her lesbian lover?* And no one called her a liar until today?

*I made up that last one.

If you are remotely unstable, do not read this book

Justin Evans did not write A Good and Happy Child for mentally unhinged readers. Before you read this thriller, you need to be sound in mind and body, otherwise the book will mess you up. If you have graduated, like me, from your psychological helper person, or you never needed one to begin with, then you are allowed to read A Good and Happy Child. You will love it as only the sane can love something terrifying. If you have ever been visited by demons, witches, or have been prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, then stay away from this book. It will only make things worse for you.

Justin Evans looking boyish

Evans will appear at the Virginia Festival of the Book at the end of March. And don’t let his boyish haircut and eyeglasses deceive you – this man will make you pee your pants.