May 19, 2010

New digs

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"Stop all this arguing! We have to keep moving!" - every episode of Lost, ever

It's time to abandon Cereal Monogamist and head off into the jungle in the direction of my new blog, Cultural Civilian. Follow me (or my helpful link) to my new presence at Wordpress.

(And for God's sake, keep moving! They could be right behind us. And it's gonna be dark soon.)

May 17, 2010

The Great X-Files Rewatch: Season One, Part Two

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Initial Thoughts

One big bonus of the second half of the first season of The X-Files: the introduction of Assistant Director Skinner! The Skinman! He only appears in one episode (“Tooms”), but apparently he made enough of an impression that he became a regular starting with Season Two. And this is back when we were all supposed to haaaaaaaaate Skinner. See, Skinner eventually becomes Mulder and Scully’s ally, in an awesome moment where he told the Cigarette Smoking Man to “bend over and kiss my ass,” but before that happens, he’s in league with the mysteriously oppressive government forces.

Another big bonus of the second half of the first season: Scully Pregnancy Watch! Yes, Gillian Anderson managed to get herself knocked up in the first year of the show, leaving her costumers with little else to do but drape her in mannish suits and an enormous trenchcoat that becomes omnipresent at the tail end of the season.

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"Scully, do you have something to tell me?"
"No, Mulder, why do you ask?"

Brilliantly, the show wrote around it by having Scully be abducted by aliens in the first part of season 2.

Continue reading "The Great X-Files Rewatch: Season One, Part Two"

May 15, 2010

BREAKING NEWS!

Attention, readers of Cereal Monogamist! This blog is changing houses.

Now that I have (amicably) ended my association with Case, I am moving to Wordpress. I'm still figuring things out over there, customizing and whatnot. When it looks how I want it, I will point everybody in that direction.

So, in short, here's what's on the horizon:

  • New blog address
  • New blog look
  • New blog title!
  • Same old prattle about Lost and cookies

In the meantime, keep checking me out here! For lack of anything else substantive to say, let me leave you with this video of Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope filling time at a telethon by talking about classic 90s sitcom Friends.


May 10, 2010

Roman Fever and Other Stories

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I just read Edith Wharton's Roman Fever and Other Stories, a post-semester pleasure for me.

Everything about Edith Wharton's work is stately, like an antique fainting couch in a museum, its frame hand-carved, its fabric delicately embroidered. But somehow, the stories are not stifling. Some are sly and humorous, like "Roman Fever" and "Xingu," which both make fools of people who think they know more than they do.

What I really love about Wharton, though—and The Age of Innocence, arguably her most famous work, is a great example of this, too—is the way she lays out her characters' conflicts quite transparently, all so readers can admire how inevitably people misunderstand and unwittingly abuse one another. You want to take her characters by the shoulders and translate for them.

I especially love how she dissects marriage, the roles that couples play for each other and how restrictive they can be. "Souls Belated" is an amazing story about how you build a new relationship out of an affair--if you flouted the convention of marriage once, do you just jump back into it? Do you invite the same people to your dinner parties and pretend things haven't changed? "The Other Two" is about a man trying to feel disaffected about doing business with his current wife's last husband. In a way it's all very old-fashioned, but it's also incredibly relatable.

Wharton also never fails to comment on the way people and habits evolve over time. In "Autres Temps..." ("Other Times...") a woman who left her husband twenty years ago, and regretted the social isolation that followed, overhears two young women talking. Through their conversation she discovers that in the ensuing decades, behavior has become so much freer that leaving one's husband for another man has become the thing to do:

All of their friends seem to be divorced; some of them seem to announce their engagements before they get their decree. One of them—her name was Mabel—as far as I could make out, her husband found out that she meant to divorce him by noticing that she wore a new engagement ring.

The only legitimate criticism I've ever heard of Edith Wharton is that her work is exclusively rich and white. I once read a Marxist critic who complained that "the worker" wasn't present in Wharton's work, that the servants toiled behind the scenes. This is really not to be denied. (Well, I think one of the ladies in The House of Mirth works in a hat shop, but, you know.) Still, I don't find that a valid reason to discount the work she did. She had a narrow lens, sure. But can't we admire the depth of focus?

May 07, 2010

The News in Feisty Old Ladies

Betty White will be hosting Saturday Night Live tomorrow, and if her interview with Jimmy Fallon is any indication, she's going to rock it. Everyone needs to watch this NOW.

May 05, 2010

The Dixie Chicks and Our First Amendment Rights

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Isn't it weird how you can love something and forget about it for awhile, and then have it be immediately rekindled when you experience it again? It's been like three years since the Dixie Chicks put out a new album, and I hadn't listened to them in ages. Then, today, I clicked over to the AV Club and saw this: Dixie Chicks, Badass Motherf**ckers. Yes, that's really the title. It's a write-up from Nathan Rabin, one of their music guys, who's trying to educate himself in country, as he realizes that just because the Dixie Chicks are cute doesn't mean they're not awesome.

I read the thing, I watched all the embedded videos (haven't seen "Goodbye Earl" in awhile?), and then I was seized by the desire to rewatch Shut Up and Sing, a documentary about the band trying to come back from the unexpected controversy that was generated over an off-the-cuff remark during a concert in 2003.

Rabin seems to be positioning most of the vitriol that was directed at the Chicks as based on them being women—pretty, (mostly) blonde, popular chicks. They're supposed to be wholesome, they're not supposed to have opinions at all, and certainly not divisive ones. Watching the movie again (which, of course, I did), I think Rabin is really on to something.

Continue reading "The Dixie Chicks and Our First Amendment Rights"

May 03, 2010

Liberal crisis!

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I want to buy a new TV—a small one, for my bedroom, so that I can move the one that’s currently in my bedroom into my kitchen. I’ve decided this is a necessity based on the fact that ever since I discovered The X-Files was on Netflix Watch Instantly, and that my laptop fits very nicely on a corner of my kitchen counter, my dirty dishes have been cleaned much more regularly. (While I’m still locked into finals, my deal is that I’m only allowed to watch The X-Files if I’m also cleaning the kitchen. See how my mind works? I have to trick myself into doing things like I’m a kindergartner.)

Anyway, I was looking at various online deals, when I suddenly had a guilty little urge to check Wal-Mart.

I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. I have been indoctrinated to think Wal-Mart is terrible. I know that everything in there is way cheaper than you will get it anywhere else, but I also know WHY that is—price gouging and cheating their employees out of health insurance are their main strategies, but, of course, there’s a lot more unnecessarily evil things they are doing.

I ran the search on TVs, and now I have to sit here and know that they have this well-reviewed 19 inch Sharp for about 75% of what other stores are charging for similar products. I want to show integrity and not buy my cheap TV off the backs of the working poor.

But I’M poor! I’m a soon-to-be-unemployed grad student! I hem and haw about whether I really need to buy the name-brand cheese or not!

But…Wal-Mart Watch! Nickel and Dimed!

Now I feel bad for wanting the extra TV at all.