I Didn’t Want to Win Money. I Avoid Competition. So How Did I End Up on Jeopardy? (Part II)

This is part two of a two-part essay. The first part is here.

The first, and maybe most important thing, is that the game show mentality is intense and fucked up. I was wary of it going into taping, but naively I assumed that because Jeopardy! was somehow a more intellectual game, the game-show creepiness would be in the background. I didn’t go into this blind, you know – I’ve watched Requiem for a Dream, I’d read The Hunger Games right before my trip, and so I was understandably wary of any artificial construct of winning and losing in front of a live studio audience. Read More I Didn’t Want to Win Money. I Avoid Competition. So How Did I End Up on Jeopardy? (Part II)

I Didn’t Want to Win Money. I Avoid Competition. So How Did I End Up on Jeopardy? (Part I)

This story starts at the end: Last week, I watched myself on national television. I was a contestant in regular-season adult Jeopardy!, and I lost spectacularly, but I think I looked pretty good in the process. I had not been looking forward to the viewing party, though.

Read More I Didn’t Want to Win Money. I Avoid Competition. So How Did I End Up on Jeopardy? (Part I)

My Pins, My Self: Getting Pinned and Liking It

I work in tech, and over the past few weeks I’ve found myself in various conversations about the resounding success of Pinterest. The site just reached 10 million users, and is growing rapidly. But something I’ve repeatedly been hearing from my male colleagues is that they don’t quite get it. They have accounts, and they’ve played around with it, but they don’t understand why it’s so appealing. Meanwhile, I have to impose an embargo on Pinterest during work, because if I start, I won’t be able to stop. So their confusion, in turn, puzzled me. What’s to get? Read More My Pins, My Self: Getting Pinned and Liking It

Is “New Girl” Secretly Feminist?

Completely despite myself I have been watching FOX’s breakout sitcom of the year, New Girl, and enjoying it. When this show debuted, I was one of many feminist critics who wrote it off, in part because it was marketed as a show about an “offbeat and adorkable” girl who moves in with three bros who proceed to try to teach her how to get guys. Starring Zooey Deschanel, no less. Zooey Deschanel! Really? Does anyone really think that this woman playing this hipster fantasy role, in this day and age, would have any trouble finding guys? We’re not in The Princess Diaries or She’s All That, in which taking off a girl’s glasses magically made her ten times more attractive. We are not post-feminist, post-racist, or post-gender, but I think we might be post-glasses. Read More Is “New Girl” Secretly Feminist?

Pretty/Ugly: Young Adult and Tiny Furniture, reviewed

In part because I saw them within days of each other, I kept thinking about Young Adult when I watched Tiny Furniture earlier this month. I’d like to say I hated them both, but it’s not that simple. Rather, neither made me feel very good about myself, or about anyone in it, or really about humanity in general. After Young Adult, I walked out despising the main character, Mavis Gray, played ably by Charlize Theron. In Tiny Furniture, I couldn’t stand our main character Aura, played by the film’s writer/director, Lena Dunham. They’re very different characters, but I noticed a lot of similarities. Chief among them was this: It’s not just that Mavis and Aura kinda suck – it’s also that they never redeem themselves. Read More Pretty/Ugly: Young Adult and Tiny Furniture, reviewed

Book Review: Cleopatra, A Life

“Can anything good be said of a woman who slept with the two most powerful men of her time?” asks Stacy Schiff in the introduction to Cleopatra: A Life, the biography that has topped book-of-the-year and bestseller lists since its publication in September. Unlike most of Cleopatra’s myriad biographers, Stacy Schiff is female – and one of the very few to see Cleopatra as not merely a woman, but wholly a woman. It’s impossible to talk frankly about Cleopatra without addressing what her femininity did to the narrative. Schiff puts that issue at the front and center of her work. For that alone, this book is worth picking up. It’s a slim biography, as far as biographies go: a tad over 300 pages, without endnotes. Read More Book Review: Cleopatra, A Life

The Art of Rewatching

Technically speaking, I’m more of a rewatcher than a watcher. I’ve seen a lot of movies and television shows in my life, but what ultimately gives them meaning is the second/third/tenth/nth viewing. I used to do this with books. There are books from my childhood I can still quote wholesale from, an ability I have utterly lost with my grown-up, theoretically more sophisticated reading. Read More The Art of Rewatching