Maureen Dowd: Ivanka and Vodka, on the Rocks

“Donald Trump is the meanest man I have ever met.”

— former top Trump administration official, quoted by Maureen Dowd

So happy to be reading Maureen Dowd again. It’s been too long. In her piece in the Sunday, 24 June 2018 New York Times, she dissects the First Daughter.

It turns out Ivanka really does just want to please Daddy, which reflects the panic she felt when Trump left Ivanka’s mother for Marla Maples. Ivanka “called him constantly.”

When she became a model, her father “suggested to friends that breast implants might help her along. One friend recalled getting a frantic call from Maryanne Trump, Donald’s sister, urging him to talk Donald out of letting her get plastic surgery that young. It’ll ruin her, she said into the phone. When his friend confronted him about it, he denied that she was getting implants. At the end of the call, he asked, Why not, though?”

The poor girl. The poor, poor girl. She’s mastered the art of being Trump’s daughter so well, and now she’s nothing but a prop. A prop who can’t think on her own.

This prop is having a hard time controlling “the ultimate wild child. An authentic jerk trumps an inauthentic brand ambassador.”

Trump is “the all-consuming maw . . . an infinite pit of need,” according to Emily Fox, author of the just published Born Trump. He’s “a time-sucking vampire who fed off those around him to sustain his own vanity.”

“Nobody,” writes Dowd, “is buying her blond savior routine any more.” Rest assured, however, that she has inherited her father’s “preternatural ability to self-promote.” She can still make money, just not from touting her association with Daddy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Letter to the Editor, New York Times, 24 June 2018

This letter was published weeks before the Trump-Putin Summit. Every word could have been published today.

Wake up, America! Our democratic institutions are under attack — from within.

To the Editor:

Many of us watch these developments in international relations with a mix of sadness, anxiety and extreme anger. It’s almost as if President Trump were saying to us, well, the system that enormously benefited me and my generation for the last 70 years was wonderful, but you don’t need it and can’t have it.

Most infuriating, many of the people now rapidly trying to destroy what took generations to build and maintain won’t be around to see the aftermath. But we will, and so will our children. We need to start voting all these people out in November and begin the hard work of repairing the damage.

D.P.D., Seattle

Stay tuned.

 

Self Learns Something New Every Day!

Self has a two-week-old issue of The New York Times on her coffee table. On p. D6 is an article on The Season’s Best Fruit, by Pete Wells.

#3 is Blueberries

  • Blueberries are the only big-deal summer fruit that isn’t native to North America.They earn their high ranking in part by appearing so often in the wild, spread across valley meadows and mountaintop clearings. The ground-hugging, scrubby bushes have the darkest, smallest, most concentrated fruit, while the high-bush varieties will fill your hat or basket faster. A small haul can be enough for pancakes, muffins or a bowl of cereal; more means a fool or a pie. For either one, try making half into a compote and, after it cools, stirring in the other half. Big portions of blueberries alone can be a luxury.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

We Have Just Bombed Syria!

And The New York Times wrote a drippy article which made it seem as if Trump was such a humanitarian for doing so! He did it to stop chemical gas attacks on innocent civilians, you understand.

Since I’m still recovering from the whiplash of a CNN pundit (Zakaria) announcing that Trump appears to be “growing into” his Presidential role, I will dispense with the “self” point of view and go into a list of celebrity interviews that were ticked off by Hadley Freeman in her Style column in The Guardian of 21 March 2017 (I clipped it out; it was so entertaining).

In it, she cites some glaring differences in interview styles between men and women who do celebrity interviews.

Exhibit # 1: Rich Cohen interviews Margot Robbie for Vanity Fair, and puts in “She can be sexy and composed … ” never mind the rest of the sentence. The fact is he put in “sexy” and I don’t know if that’s a thing with male interviewers or what but if I interviewed, say, Tom Hardy, and called him “sexy” everyone would call me a cougar.

Exhibit # 2: Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s interview of Tom Hiddleston for US GQ in which “she teased out his private-school shallowness.” I like! I make a decision to search out this interview. (I’m so hyper today! I already looked up and read the entire interview — all right, I admit, I find Tom Hiddleston attractive! I think it’s okay to say that. He looks grrrreat in a brown suit. Just sayin’.)

Exhibit # 3: Anna Peele’s interview of Miles Teller in US Esquire “in which she unforgettably skewered his pretentiousness.” Another interview I decide I must search out.

Ms. Freeman points out that there “is something vaguely prostitutional about” doing a celebrity interview: “there you are, the journalist/client, demanding this far more beautiful person simulate intimacy with you for an hour.”

Okay, I like this woman.

One big difference between English journalists (i.e. Hadley Freeman) and US journalists is that Ms. Freeman gets commonly asked if she slept with any of her interviewees (I am shocked! So shocked at that question! But I do want to hear Ms. Freeman’s answer. I expect absolute candor!) and her answer is NO.

Other celebrity interviewees listed in the article: Paul Rudd, Idris Elba, Selena Gomez, Alicia Silverstone, Scarlett Johansson.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The New York Times Magazine, 1 January 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Comfort the mind with this wonderful excerpt from Jonathan Mahler’s “Search Party,” in the 1 January 2017 New York Times Magazine.

Our most famous self-investigator is, of course, our incoming president, Donald J. Trump; perhaps no one is more committed to embracing and trumpeting unproven claims from the internet. Six years ago, as he flirted with the idea of running for president, he became especially preoccupied with a theory being advanced by a right-wing extremist named Joseph Farah. A self’described ex-Communist, Farah presided over a nonprofit organization, the Western Center for Journalism, which was dedicated to promoting “philosophical diversity” in the news media, and now runs a popular website, WorldNetDaily, which bills itself as “America’s Independent News Network.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors U.S. hate groups, has a different point of view, calling Farah “the internet king of the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement.

Farah had floated plenty of specious arguments in the past, among them the claim that gay men orchestrated the Holocaust, and that Muslims have a 20-point plan for conquering the United States by 2020. But the Farah campaign that captured Trump’s imagination held that America’s first black president, Barack Obama, might have been born outside the United States.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Can You Explain Trump? Please?”

“Ooof,” self says, waving her hands dismissively. “Don’t worry about him! American voters aren’t as dumb as you think.”

Then self opens The New York Times digital edition today and sees:

DONALD TRUMP SWEEPS FIVE STATES; HILLARY CLINTON TAKES FOUR.

Everything starts moving in slow motion: her fingers wander to the half-full bottle of pinot noir in her kitchen. She wonders if there’s ever a time when it’s a good idea to excuse herself from an election. Like, say, I GOT LOST IN RURAL IRELAND!  or BRIGADOON HAD ME AT HELLO!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Reading Manohla Dargis in Paris: a Review of “Magic Mike”

It is starting to get dark.  Self is in Bonnie’s living room, on her red couch, reading the International Herald Tribune.  In the building directly across the street are banks of picture windows, some of which are lighted, all of which have little ironwork balconies.

So this is what she’s spent the last 10 minutes reading:  Manohla Dargis’ review of “Magic Mike,” the beefcake movie of all beefcake movies.

Before self left Scotland, she happened to read a Guardian story on Matthew McConaughey (“From Himbo to Highbrow”).  Oh my goodness, there was one shot of McConaughey taken from a scene in “Magic Mike,” and —  let’s just say self was never a Matthew McConaughey fan (though she did like one recent movie, “The Lincoln Lawyer”) but that shot was absolutely fabulous.  McConaughey’s rippling abs are on full display; his right hand is raised to the ceiling, two fingers fully extended.  He’s wearing a cowboy hat.  My God, self thought, if McConaughey looks as good in that movie as he does in this picture, self is rushing out to catch a screening, the minute she gets back to California.

And, wow, can you believe it?  Channing Tatum, who Entertainment Weekly once referred to as “an animate Bologna column” was the movie’s co-producer.  Self thinks the guy’s career does have legs.

The Manohla Dargis review is accompanied by a photograph of Tatum and his co-star, Alex Pettyfer.  The picture is a nice picture, of course.  Tatum is bending forward, caught in the middle of delivering an admonition or advice to the other fellow.  Until she saw that picture, self had no idea who this Alex Pettyfer was.  But, boy, does he ever outstage Tatum in the “hotness” category, at least he does in that picture.

Here are a pair of excerpts from the Dargis review:

  • ” . . .  few directors can sell the goods —  whether it’s Che in Cuba or Mike in a thong — as shrewdly as Mr. Soderbergh.  A restive talent who toggles between big-studio and low-budget work, he has a genius for wrapping tricky ideas, like capitalism and its discontents, into commercial packages.  Never before has he put them into cheek-baring chaps.”
  • “Those cheeks, smooth as a hairless Chihuahua, will receive considerable attention, as will the rippling muscles . . .  “

The owner of the club is called Dallas, and he’s played by McConaughey, who Dargis says gives a “spectacular, amusingly sleazed-out” performance.

Dear blog readers, the iconic beef-cake shot of a few years ago was of Tom Hardy, in a still from a scene in “Inception.” Hardy is wearing a kind of pink-ish, tailored shirt, and he looks like he’s contemplating the odds —  no other actor can pull off that kind of look, not even Michael Fassbender.

Self used to make fun of McConaughey because he was always in People Magazine with his shirt off.  But in the shot in the Guardian, it’s not McConaughey’s chest we’re riveted to, it’s his hand.

And self is so grateful to Dargis for finding a way to describe male cheeks without sounding prurient.  “Smooth as a hairless Chihuahua!”  That’s priceless!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Forget the Pulitzer! Here’s the Orange Prize Shortlist

The mighty Pulitzer declined to award a prize to any of the novels on the 2012 shortlist, which then made — according to a headline in the Arts section of the Wednesday 18 April 2012 issue of  The New York Times — the publishers of the shortlisted books “cranky.”

Who cares?  The Pulitzer is so yesterday.  Let’s turn our attention to more important things, such as who is going to win The Orange Prize, “an annual prize in Britain that is awarded to a novel written by a women in English” (which is how the “Arts, Briefly” section of the Wednesday 18 April 2012 Times described it)

Here are the novels that made the Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist.  Self browsed the web and found that “Four Northern Americans, including Booker-Prize winner Anne Enright, made the list” and that Georgina Harding is “the only one” of “six nominated authors” who is British (quoting from THE WEEK)

  • Canadian Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues
  • Dublin writer Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz:  (Self doesn’t know why the Times article abbreviated the title of Enright’s novel to The Forgotten)
  • Georgina Harding’s Painter of Silence:  Self thinks this title is pretty fab.
  • American Madeline Miller’s debut novel, Song of Achilles
  • American Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies (Ozick’s seventh:  According to the British paper The Guardian, Ozick is “the favourite” to win the Orange Prize)
  • Previous Orange Prize winner (10 years ago, for Bel Canto) Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder

The winner, says the Times, will receive “a bronze statue and about $48,000.”

BTW, three of the shortlisted share the same publisher:  Bloomsbury.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Still the First Wednesday Post-Washington DC Trip: No Longer Cleaning the House

The house is reasonably clean.  That is, the living room doesn’t have any dog hair balls.  But now self notices that the hardwood floor is badly in need of refurbishing.  And the house plants by the window facing the street look a little peaked.

Instead of cleaning further, self will water (Later, when it cools down a bit).  And then she will do laundry.

Self did a couple of errands, which took her to Menlo Park (Guy Plumbing & Fixtures, El Camino Real; the dry-cleaner’s), then to Sequoia Station in Redwood City, where she:

  • Looked up Yasmina Reza’s novels in Barnes & Noble:  nope, they don’t carry any of them (Self knows of two)
  • Went to Safeway and bought a bag of mesquite charcoal briquets in preparation for next week’s visit of sole fruit of her loins (She also bought four huge avocados:  $5 for 4.  Self loves these, mashed with evaporated milk and drizzled with sugar.  BTW, there goes self’s diet!)

Self discovered that Safeway no longer stocks The New York Times.  This presents a small problem because now she will have to get her Times from either:  a)  Starbucks, and they only carry about five copies a day:  If self doesn’t go early enough in the morning, they are usually sold out; or  b) Whole Foods, which she has avoided like the plague since getting back from Bacolod, because the cake display is right by the entrance (!!!@@##)

Well, self does make it to Whole Foods.  She believes she deserves a pat on the back for restricting herself to buying only one small dessert (fruit tart), which she is saving for the husband.

And then she opens the Times, and in short order discovers the following:

  • The name of Michelle Obama’s initiative to counter childhood obesity is “Let’s Move.”  The whole country is very admiring of how slender the Obama girls are, and we are constantly reminded of this by Mrs. Obama’s emphasis on how unhealthy fat kids are.  Not to mention:  un-attractive.  Self speaks from personal experience because she was once a Fat Kid herself.  And she had no dates in high school.  Though that may have more to do with the “nerd” factor than with her weight.
  • The Kurds, according to an article by J. Michael Kennedy (p. A6), “are the largest ethnic group in the world without a state.”

Here are the countries featured in the rest of the “International News”:  China (missing persons; a British national dying in Chongqing under suspicious circumstances), Palestine, and Egypt.

Self is mighty interested in the case of the dead British national.  His body was cremated before post-mortem, his friends described him as a “light” drinker (even though Chinese authorities attributed his death to “excessive alcohol consumption”), and the prime suspect is a local politician’s wife, who the British national had inadvertently angered by – – – doing what, exactly?  Self reads almost to the last paragraph, and she never discovers what the British guy did to make the wife of the local Chinese official so angry, angry enough to want to murder him.

And then there is an article about the trial of the Norwegian mass murderer.  Thankfully, this doesn’t show him raising his fist in some kind of Nazi-like salute, which self finds extremely sickening.  In some photos, he is even smirking.  But she has only the utmost respect for the Norwegians, who did not “tighten up” their security restrictions in the aftermath of the tragedy, even though the number of murder victims (77) is horrifically large, particularly for a country whose entire population is only 5 million.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Of Interest in the Arts Section of Yesterday’s New York Times (Tuesday, 10 April 2012)

Self feels moved, for the first time ever, to quote from a Michiko Kakutani review.  This one’s on the recent publication by Famous Publishers of Only The Best Fiction and Poetry (Farrar etc) of The Complete Poems by Philip Larkin.  Here’s how the review begins:

“Deprivation is for me,” Philip Larkin once observed, “what daffodils were for Wordsworth.”  He was right, of course:  unhappiness, loss, disappointment, boredom and fear of death are the bread and butter of his verse.  Larkin was the Eeyore of poets, the Debbie Downer of modern literature.

(It is really really funny that Kakutani compares Larkin to Eeyore and to Debbie Downer, but she gets even funnier with the very next sentence, which self will refrain from posting, as she realizes she is wading into muddy waters)

On p. 2 of the Arts section, self begins reading what sounds like it’s going to be a glowing review, by Brian Seibert, of a new ballet by Avi Scher, performed by ballet star Herman Cornejo. Self is intrigued by this sentence:

The young choreographer Avi Scher likes to say that he has a mission:  presenting top-quality ballet dancers in intimate spaces at affordable prices.

For that alone:  All Hail, Avi Scher!

Alas, the rest of the piece laments that Mr. Cornejo’s “gifts” were “wasted” by the choreography (“Emotional incoherence,” Mr. Seibert writes, is “typical” of Mr. Scher’s work):  “For no apparent reason,” Seibert continues, “Ms. Kuranaga (partnered with Mr. Cornejo in the piece “Phased”), kept curling up on the floor like a pill bug . . . ” Uh.  Self will stop right here.  She feels so bad for Mr. Scher.

And then there’s The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, which self decides to skip, because only once in the past almost four decades of doing the Times Crossword Puzzle has self ever managed to solve a complete puzzle, and it is just mighty frustrating.

And then, in the “Arts, Briefly” column comes the real smasheroo:  David Byrne and Fatboy Slim have collaborated on a new musical, which is purportedly (Self is so proud of herself:  it’s not easy slipping a word like “purportedly” into a blog like hers) a “deconstruction of the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines.”  Why oh why oh why oh why did David Byrne and Fatboy Slim decide that Imelda was a worthy subject for their sublime talents?  Worse, what led them to feel that it should be staged at the Public, an icon of theater-dom, to presumably enthusiastic reverence and widespread applause?

When self was just a struggling 22-year-old administrative assistant, she used to live right around the corner from the Public, in a sublet on Eighth and First.  How she saved and scrimped her miserable $800/month salary (Thanks much, Famous Accounting Firm of Ernst & Whinney!)  just so she could watch every single one of the productions!

Of course the article is accompanied by a visual:  there is Imelda in her trademark terno with —  is that a peacock on the front?  OK, some type of bird appliqué — and a hair-do that is something of a cross between the Amy Winehouse bee-hive and the Doris Day flip, of course lacquered to helmet-like perfection by the strenuous application of salon hairspray.

But wait — didn’t David Byrne, several years ago, decide to bike around Asia, and wasn’t one of his stops Manila?  Self knows because the book he wrote about that experience was reviewed in The New York Times.  So in his biking around Manila, he did display a very adventurous spirit, because, as dear blog readers well know, someone like David Byrne could have sat around all day in the lobby of the Peninsula sipping Remy Martin, if he had wanted to.  After all, he is David Byrne.

And he probably likes Filipinos — as, who wouldn’t?  Filipinos are the best, absolutely the fun-nest people on the entire planet!  And he must have gotten to know a number of ordinary people —  self means while he was biking around.  He presumably didn’t tell people he met while biking:  “Hello, I am David Byrne, famous lead singer and songwriter.”  They probably thought of him as just another white adventurer, of the kind that are becoming more and more common in places like Bacolod and Dumaguete and Siquijor.

Self, haven’t you ever heard of the saying, Quit while you’re ahead?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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