“Getting Kicked in the Teeth”: Elizabeth Warren

Warren is on the Left? So sayeth The Guardian in a feature on Elizabeth Warren (2 May 2017)

  • For many on the US left, Elizabeth Warren embodies best of Sanders and Clinton.
  • With Sanders still a leading vice and centrist politics around the world in retreat, it might be tempting for Democrats to turn left.

Stop doing that, Guardian! Stop labeling our politicians.

  • Warren: I think left/right is less and less an accurate description of the political landscape.
  • Warren: GDP, unemployment, no longer reflect the lived experiences of most Americans. And the lived experiences of most Americans is that they are being left behind in this economy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Front Page, The Guardian, 20 April 2017

Theresa May (one of Trump’s only remaining BFFs, after Putin) hints to the Sun that the UK may be cutting back on its spending commitments on overseas aid spending (current target: 0.7% of GDP on aid)

On the day the British government voted to hold an early general election, Bill Gates, billionaire philanthropist, spoke with The Guardian. He said: “The big aid givers now are the US, Britain, and Germany — those are the three biggest, and if those three back off, a lot of the ambitious things that are going on with malaria, agriculture and reproductive health simply would not get done.”

Gates said “the leadership role taken by the UK could determine whether ambitious efforts to eradicate malaria in Africa were launched. He added: “Malaria has always been the disease we really want to take on, and the UK has always, in terms of research capacity and aid, been a leader. In terms of where the aid ambition gets set, the UK can be a huge leader in driving that malaria eradication, or the world may have to back off and not get started on that.”

In an interview with the Sun, May “gave an evasive answer to the question of whether she would continue to back the 0.7% commitment . . . ”

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.

2nd Quote of the Day: Kellyanne Conway

“I’ve noticed a lot of people are very bold and blustery on Twitter, because it’s easy to do that with the poison keyboard and a hundred and forty characters.”

— quoted by Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker, 17 October 2016

Quote of the Day: Aimee Nezhukumatathil (The Writer’s Chronicle, Sept 2016)

“I do think persona is helpful in however heavy or light the disguise, if only to announce to the reader that if my persona says or does something they don’t find agreeable, it’s just a character, not the person.”

— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, in her interview with Eric Farwell, The Writer’s Chronicle, September 2016

Quote of the Day: BRAZILLIONAIRES, Chapter 8

Never in self’s wildest dreams did she imagine she could go as far as p. 207 of a book about Brazillionaires, but here she is. She did, briefly, consider giving up, but Cuadros is a very dogged and thorough writer and well, she’s pretty sure she’ll never read a book like this again, so what the hey.

Quote from Jorge Paulo Lemann, worth an estimated $20 billion, according to Alex Cuadros:

Brazil is full of people who think equality is great. I think equality is great, too, just that it doesn’t work. Equality of opportunity, yes. But equality for equality’s sake . . . People are not equal.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Loneliness of the Swimmer

  • You get very tired and depressed, and you wish you had the social life that a lot of your friends have, you wish you could go out with this girl, but it’s so hard to have that. You’re too tired . . .  You wake up and your alarm goes off at five, and you just, you just hear the snow blowing outside, and you’re in a nice warm waterbed and you say, I don’t wanna go out there. Who wants to dive into water at five o’clock in the morning?

Victor Davis, in the swimming documentary The Fast and the Furious, by Alex Baumann

Lynn Barber for The Guardian: Self Dies

Paul Theroux, 19 February 2000:

. . .  he didn’t look remotely like the Paul Theroux I met 15 years ago at a dinner party in London. That Theroux was urbane and elegant — this one is wearing shorts and has a string of dolphins tattooed around his ankle. Oh, please! You cannot be a serious writer and have dolphins tattooed around your ankle — I am sorry, it would take too long to explain, but you just can’t.

She is hilarious. Self first made her acquaintance (via The Irish Times) at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (or TGC), spring 2014. She was instantly smitten.

Then forgot about her. Until just now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Short Stories, Plays, Process: An Interview With Playwright Penny Jackson

Penny and self have been friends for a long, long, long time. Since before either of us were even married.

Self remembers having Penny over to her little one-bedroom in Menlo Park. She met Thomas, Penny’s then-boyfriend, soon-to-be-husband.

We were in the Stanford Creative Writing Program together. Penny lived in the City. She hitched rides to the writing workshops with Jeffrey Eugenides and his dog. They split on the gas.

In recent years, Penny has been writing plays at a terrific rate. Her most recent production was during last fall’s Solo Festival in New York City.

Self wrangled an interview out of Penny. No mean feat, as Penny is terrifically busy. Here are some of her answers to self’s questions:

What attracts you to playwriting as a form as opposed to, say, writing a novel or a short story? What was the first genre you started writing?

I first began writing stories when I was in college (Barnard). I am very comfortable with writing in short forms, and I have adapted three of my plays from three stories, All Alices, Louise in Charlestown, and Before, which have worked very well onstage. Although I wrote a novel, Becoming the Butlers (published by Bantam when Penny was a 20-something), I find writing a novel to be more challenging. Keeping track of the plot and characters over a length of time is difficult. Perhaps I like playwriting now because each scene is like a short story to me, with a beginning, middle, and end. That’s not to say I won’t return to novel writing. I still love fiction writing, and unlike playwriting, you have a sense of control you have to somewhat relinquish when you hand your play over to your director and actors.

Are there conditions that need to be present before you feel you can write your best?

Absolute quiet and no distractions. I joined The Writers Room, which provides a haven for writers. I wish sometimes that the Internet did not exist. When I was at MacDowell, there was no Internet, and I could really focus.

What keeps you writing?

The world. I am inspired all the time by the news and what I see in the city and hear from my friends. I write to be able to understand the complexities, the unfairness, and also the joys of life. If I didn’t write, I think I would go a bit crazy. I hear the same sentiment from actors: if they don’t act, they can’t handle the world. Right now I’m sick about the gun violence in our country, and writing about the issue really helped me with my sadness and disgust at our politicians.

What is the biggest difference between playwriting now and playwriting when you were just starting out? Does it get easier? Why or why not?

Playwriting is becoming somewhat easier. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with several brilliant directors, actors, and dramaturges. I understand the form better now. What is not easier is finding a theatre to produce your plays if you are a female writer who is not a recent Yale graduate. Ageism and sexism very much exist in theatres, when I began and still today.

Do you experiment with form and/or dialogue? Who or what inspires you?

Because I’m trained in fiction writing, which is character-based, I always begin with people. An old lady drinking in a decrepit Irish bar. Two teenage girls talking to a mysterious older man at Starbucks. A drag queen waiting for his show in Las Vegas and having to talk to his daughter about marriage.

I love dialogue. I write down snippets of dialogue I overhear in the streets of New York City all the time. And if you follow me on Facebook, you can frequently read about remarkable conversations with New York cab drivers.

In your opinion, what is the best play ever written?

I am a huge Eugene O’Neill fanatic, so I will say Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Family secrets and family guilt and pure poetic language. But of course, King Lear is top of the canon. King Lear howling about his dead daughter still takes my breath away.

Which playwright has taught you the most about your craft?

Rogelio Martinez is a wonderful playwright who has taught me so many important aspects about playwriting. I also love the Lark Development Center which gives you the space and time to try out new works in a safe environment.

Did you have a mentor? Do you think playwrights need one?

Yes, having a mentor is important. So many women directors have been my mentors: Joan Kane, Gloria Kadigan, and Shira-Lee Shalit are three tremendously talented women artists who inspire and instruct me. Writing is a very lonely business. You need a cheerleader!

What’s the worst thing about being a playwright?

That it’s just too damn expensive to produce a play in America. Unlike Europe, we don’t have government funding for theatre. The costs are astronomical. As a female playwright, I face other challenges. Walk down Broadway or The West End. Do you see any female playwrights on the marquee? My organization, The League of Professional Theatre Women, is working so hard for gender equality in theatre, but it’s a very long, frustrating, and seemingly endless battle.

 

 

Quote of the Day: Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren is such a Fabulous Goddess of Cinema. She’s the new face of Dolce & Gabbana’s beauty line (Self wants that lipstick!) Here’s a snippet from her answers to “20 Odd Questions” in this week’s “Style & Fashion” section of The Wall Street Journal.

One of my secrets to success is: you should never do too much of one thing. You have to leave people saying, “If she had done even more, it would have been better.” Let them suffer!

LOL.

Stay tuned.

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