Philip Galanes Answers It All For You

Self just discovered the New York Times‘ Social Q column, in which Philip Galanes dispenses advice on dealing with awkward situations.

So here’s a letter from Ben from New Haven (New Haven = Yale, self is almost 97% sure)

I am a junior in college and have an amazing relationship with my roommate.  We hang out together all the time, and I love him like a brother.  Trouble is, he is really good looking, and as soon as girls see him, they ditch me.  I can be talking to a woman all night (and getting along really well), but as soon as he appears, she loses interest in me.  I don’t think he’s doing it intentionally, but it’s starting to get me down.  What should I do?

Galanes’ Answer:    Transfer!  Or at least start socializing on your own, Ben. Because when folks have “Moves Like Jagger,” as Maroon 5 has been bragging from the top of the charts (for months now), there is little mere mortals can do to interfere with their Mick-like mojo.

To which Kanlaon can only respond:  BWAH HA HA HAAAAA!

Stay tuned.

Envy and Jealousy: The New York Times Explains the Difference For You

Self is on the Science section of yesterday’s New York Times.  So fascinating!  The Times and The Economist have the best Science reporters.

In an article on p. D2, Times writer John Tierney explains the difference between envy and jealousy.  It seems that researchers at Texas Christian University and the University of Texas-Austin were doing a study to examine “quintessential envy, which is distinct from jealousy.  Envy involves a longing for what you don’t have, while jealousy is provoked by losing something to someone else.  If you crave a wife like Angelina Jolie, you’re envious of Brad Pitt; if you’re upset about losing your wife to him, you’re jealous.”

So here’s how the researchers conducted their study:

They showed college students a half dozen bogus newspaper interviews and photographs of other purported students at their school.  Female students saw photos of other young women, while male students saw photos of other men.  Both sexes saw a similar mix of people, including some described by the researchers as “advantaged peers.”

In the photographs, some of the fictitious students were hot and some were not.  The interviews revealed clear disparities in wealth.  One mentioned owning a new BMW; another drove an old clunker.  One had a parent on the board of trustees of the school, another received financial aid.

As the real students went through each of these profiles, the researchers asked them about their own emotions and measured how long they spent studying each one.  Sure enough, they spent more time contemplating the ones toward which they expressed envy:  the good-looking students with new BMWs and rich parents.  And afterward they were better able to recall the names and other details of these “high-envy targets.”

The results show that envy can “evoke a functionally coordinated cascade of cognitive processes . . .  ”  One of the researchers, Sarah E. Hill, said, “We can’t get our minds off people who have advantages we want for ourselves.”

Self really loves the term “high-envy targets.”  She doesn’t consider Jolie a “high-envy target.”  Who, then, are self’s “high-envy targets”?  Good one.  She’ll have to ponder that a bit more.

Okay, how about this:  Any writer younger than 30 who’s already been anointed by Granta or The New Yorker as “The Next Great American Writer.”  Talk about having “the whole world on a plate” — !

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Who Are We? The U.S. Census Bureau Has Answers

Self discovered from The New York Times today that the U. S. Census Bureau has released its 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States.  So that dear blog readers will be spared the ordeal of paging through the 1,400-page print edition, self will summarize highlights from The New York Times article, which was written by reporter Sam Roberts.

  • We are more likely to play computer games than to do crossword puzzles.
  • The state of Iowa has six times as many hogs as people (“For the record, hogs outnumbered people in Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska as well as in Iowa, which counted 3 million human residents and 19 million hogs.”)
  • 26.6 million households rely on cellphones rather than land lines.
  • One in 13 women in their early 20s self-identify as gay or bisexual.
  • In 2009, “blacks, who represent less than 13 percent of the population, outnumbered whites arrested for murder, robbery and suspicion.”
  • Half of respondents “said they had not dined out during the previous year.”
  • In a one-year period (2008 – 2009), the number of 18- 24-year-old men who smoke “rose to 28 percent from 23.6 percent.”
  • Since the last census (in 2000), “there were fewer gas stations” and “a lot more walk-in health care clinics. There were also more liquor stores, bars and health and personal care establishments.”
  • “Montana had the highest motor vehicle accident death rate.”
  • “Fewer doctoral degrees were awarded in library science, engineering and computer science, while the number increased in business, the health professions and philosophy.”

In 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau employed son as a census-taker, which enabled him to remain in San Luis Obispo over the summer instead of going home.  Son imparted that he had to hand out census forms to the homeless who slept under bridges and to the residents of migrant camps.  More than once, when he’d knock on the door of a shack on some out-of-the-way farm, there would be an explosion of movement from behind the door, and he’d hear a voice say urgently, “La migra!”  More than once, someone set dogs on him.  After a while, he found it easier to do his census-taking after midnight.

“But don’t you need to be awake to fill out a census form?” self said, incredulous.

“Not necessarily,” son replied, with the most absolute poker face.  “It’s easier to count the homeless when they’re sleeping.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


This Week on Eric D. Snider

Ah, the hedonistic excitement of being in a tropical island city during the rainy season, when (through God’s bountiful mercy) it has not rained, except for the one time, the afternoon when self fortuitously found herself in Museum Café, swilling Bacolod rum, and not minding at all that the rain was coming down in buckets  . . .

(Self!  Pull yourself together!  Right this minute!)

Of course, self has her trusty laptop with her, so she can keep up with all her usual websites.  This week she happened to be exceedingly absorbed by Eric D. Snider’s movie blog, because he gave an A- to “Drive” (Self not a Ryan Gosling fan —  pace, niece G! —  but hubby saw it and said it was very good)

Good Lord!  Someone in the room next to hers seems to be in a frightful temper, throwing furniture about!

He gave a D to Sarah Jessica Parker’s new movie (This poor woman!  Keeps trying to replicate the success of “Sex and the City” on film, but has so far not found the right formula!), and C+ to the re-make of “Straw Dogs” (Really, any film-maker who has the bad judgement to cast James Marsden in a role that Dustin Hoffman once played —  well! ‘Nuff said) and then F to “Bucky Larson:  Born to be a Star” (Even if Eric had given the film a passing grade, self would never have been able to bring herself to see it)

Self spent hours going over the “Straw Dogs” review (on because it had so many links.  Self clearly remembers when just the two words —  Sam Peckinpah —  were enough to set her mind alight.  She was too young to see any of his movies, but for some reason she cut out reviews of “The Wild Bunch” and “Straw Dogs” and kept them in her desk (along with Assumption Convent report cards and medals —  Bwah.  Ha.  Haaaa! If only self’s parents had known what was lurking behind those thick, owlish glasses she wore!)

She looked up the director on Wikipedia and saw that he wasn’t really old when he died.

She also looked up Susan George and found that the actress is still with us.

She loved the poster of the original “Straw Dogs” (tight close-up of Dustin Hoffman’s face, with broken glasses).

Here’s an excerpt from Vincent Canby’s review in The New York Times (Jan. 20, 1972)

Curiously enough, it’s not really the violent climax that is objectionable about “Straw Dogs.” Although it is extremely explicit, it does serve a dramatic function in a film that seriously attempts to define the meaning of manhood in such terms.  However, I was more than a little surprised by the poor quality of either the staging of or the editing of this final sequence, which results in total confusion as to who is doing what . . .

To which self can only respond:  shaky-cam.  Exhibit A:  Bourne.  Exhibit B:  “United 93.”  Must one even go as far back as “The Blair Witch Project”?

Roger Ebert has a much more interesting review (Dec. 27, 1971).  Ebert’s review has a great —  even, thrilling —  introduction:

Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch,” one of the great movies of the decade, saw violence as essentially unselective.  That was unusual in a Western, where violence has always been highly selective:  with all those bullets flying around, you might get a good guy wounded once in a while, but somehow, mostly bad guys got killed.

The Western reflected our national view of violence, of foreign policy, of a lot of things.  But Peckinpah seemed to be recasting it in a new mold, throwing out the moral extremes and stranding everyone in a gray, blood-soaked middle ground:  in the shoot-out at the end of “The Wild Bunch,” everyone caught it:  men, women, children, dogs, chickens, regardless of guilt or innocence.

Self thinks this is possibly her favorite of all the reviews Ebert has ever written.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Keanu Reeves Redux

A few weeks ago, self began buying copies of The New York Times again.  (She now has a wee bit more time to luxuriate in all that dense print).

She remembers, in particular, an article in which Times movie critics Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott responded to questions from normal people —  er, readers.

One question asked was:  Is Keanu Reeves a Good Bad Actor or a Bad Good Actor?

Manohla Dargis answered, “Who cares?  He’s Keanu Reeves.”

You tell ’em, sistah!

A. O. Scott’s answer, however, was so exquisite that self had to cut it out and put it in her file cabinet (She’s possibly turning into Joan Rivers.  Did anyone catch A Piece of Work?  A fine documentary, which revealed to the world that Rivers is an obssessive filer:  that is, all of her jokes are written on index cards and stored in a gigantic, custom-made filing cabinet in her New York apartment)

Here is A. O. Scott on the topic of Keanu:

Mr. Reeves has deliberately exploited both his exquisite facial bone structure and his gift for gnomic blankness with great success in the movies . . .  but in those solemn savior roles he demonstrates not stiffness so much as professionalism.

OK, had enough of your Keanu Reeves fix for the week?  For the month?  For the year?  Or perhaps even for your entire life?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, the 13th of September 2001: What Is a “Normal” Life?

9/11 happened on a Tuesday.

(It just so happened this was Ying’s birthday.  Also the day that she passed away, two years ago, in Tel Aviv.  She was 37.  Now 9/11 evokes a complicated layer of feeling that pretty much guarantees self is a basket case for a few days before and a few days after)

On the Thursday after 9/11, self hunted down a copy of The New York Times.  Copies had been scarce, the day before.  But on Thursday, she actually found a copy, she doesn’t remember now whether she got it from Borders or from Kepler’s.  Self found the 2001 newspaper in the garage this morning, when she was cleaning out some shelves.

These were the front-page headlines.  The names in parentheses are those of the reporters:

  • A Grim Forecast:  Barest Count, by Three of Hundreds of Firms, Has 1,500 Missing (by Robert D. McFadden)
  • A City of Quiet:  Nothing Is Same One Day After (by N. R. Kleinfield)
  • On a Doomed Jet, Passengers Vowed to Perish Fighting (by Jodi Wilgoren and Edward Wong)
  • A Few Moments of Hope in a Mountain of Rubble (by Dan Barry)

Self finds it incredible that coherent stories could be constructed, barely two days after the calamity.  Likely, no one at the Times slept:  not the editors, not the reporters, not even the drivers of the vans that dropped off copies of the newspaper to various distribution points.

A quote from the first article listed above states:

A nation that had been aghast and mostly shut down on Tuesday tried to move back toward a semblance of normal life.  Across the country, businesses, shopping malls, government offices and skyscrapers reopened.

Also from the same article:

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said that 82 bodies had been recovered from the smoking wreckage of the World Trade Center, a fraction of the thousands he said were presumed dead.

Incidentally, in about 10 days self will be in New York.  As it happens, with Dearest Mum.  She hasn’t been in New York with Dearest Mum since 1995.  That is the city where Dearest Mum grew up.  Self is going to try and mine her memories for all she’s worth.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Daly City, My Heart

Self’s home away from home.

Self’s repository of nostalgia (Serramonte Mall, Goldilocks, Max’s of the Philippines, Ma Mon Luk, atbp.)

Site of the biggest visible Filipino community in the United States.

Now Barbara Jane sends a message via PAWA (Philippine American Writers and Artists): Daly City has now been officially recognized by The New York Times, via article/interview conducted with Benito Vergara, who wrote the recent Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City.

The article is by Susan Sward. Check it out here.

Thanks for the heads-up, Barb!

Quote(s) of the Day: Josh Brolin, You Kill!

The following interview excerpts are from the Sunday New York Times Magazine Supplement, “Men’s Fashion” (14 March 2010)

Interviewer: And now, in “Jonah Hex,” you have your first-ever nude sex scene, with Megan Fox.

Richard (Jenkins, Brolin’s co-star in “Flirting with Disaster”) is much more attractive to me than Megan Fox! Was I nude in “Jonah Hex”?

Interviewer: I’ve always wondered if it’s harder to do a scene where you die or a scene where you kill someone.

I don’t like killing. When I shot Sean Penn’s character in “Milk,” there was a lot of joking going on at the moment because we couldn’t deal with the intensity of it. Recently, it dawned on me that I’d killed dogs in two movies back to back. Some animal activist was riding me, saying he was going to turn me in. In real life, I would never kill a dog. In “No Country for Old Men,” the dog was chasing my character, trying to kill me. He was a huge pit bull named Scooby. I had to put his toy in my pants so he would follow me. Scooby is a sweet dog. I still have his toy. And he is a very good actor: I’d like to think I could die as well as Scooby.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The New York Times, Today, P. A4

From an article by Rod Nordland, in today’s New York Times (Wednesday, 3 February 2010), p. A4:

Dateline: Kabul

The NATO general in charge of training the Afghan police has some tongue-in-cheek career advice for the country’s recruits.

“It’s better to join the Taliban; they pay more money,” said Brig. General Carmelo Burgio, from Italy’s paramilitary Carabinieri force.

* * * * *

One in five recruits tests positive for drugs, while fewer than one in 10 can read and write — a rate even lower than the Afghan norm of 10 percent literacy. Many cannot even read a license plate number.

(And these are the people supposed to be taking over from NATO in less than a year’s time? Self has one more question: Why is this article on p. A4 instead of on Page 1?)

Reasons for “Huzzah”!!

  1. Self has just seen a movie with a cast that includes Tom Wisdom (“Pirate Radio”).  Oh please, dear gods of movie-dom, don’t make self wait another two years to see Mr. Wisdom in a movie!!!
  2. For the first time ever, self has solved an entire New York Times crossword puzzle. Yes, one of those famously wicked brain-twisters concocted by the God of Crossword Puzzles, Will Shortz. Triple happy happy joy joy! When she was about halfway through filling up the boxes, self’s heart started to race (No exaggeration). But she told herself: Put a lid on it! How many times before have you had similar experience? Only to find all celebrations entirely premature? This evening, after she filled in the last set of boxes (14 across: “Gondolier’s need” = pole!), she stared at the puzzle for a couple of stunned seconds. Then, she was so excited she started yelling to hubby, who happened to be watching the last two minutes of a very dramatic Colts vs. Patriots football game. The poor man, he almost suffered a nervous breakdown, what with the noise of his wife’s yelling added to the nail-biting tension of the football game.
  3. Self has just read (in The New York Times of 2 November 2009), that there will be a 4th Mad Max movie (Swoon!). And it will be directed by George Miller again. And Charlize Theron is on board. Though it’s not clear if Mel Gibson will be (but perhaps he is too old to be cast as Mad Max! Surely there are some hardy young men of athletic persuasion who can take on the mantle!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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