Hello, lords and ladies! It has been such a strange week for me, full of ups and downs and tumult and glories. But there is always so much beauty in the world, including these lovely things I’ve read, seen or otherwise absorbed over the past weekish or so. (“Weekish” = maybe more than a week, maybe a bit less, depending on my mood.) On a personal level, people have been getting my book and it is both exciting and nerve-wracking….I do hope everyone likes it! (Commence nail-biting.) There is a gorgeous flow of helpfulness in my life now, kind of like a circuit of generosity that I find inspiring. And I made baked kale chips and they were brilliant — favorite new snack food! But here are some other things that have made the world wondrous and lovely:
Liz’s Great Lovely Thing about Fiona Apple’s Idler Wheel
My former compadre at NOGOODFORME writes such beautiful, true things about insomnia, anxiety, nice guys and so much more. I just really feel for anyone who can’t sleep, on this primal level, having battled (and will likely continue to forever and ever fight against) persistent insomnia. Such constant vigilance, such noctural mental wanderings! Also I loved the thing she wrote about first kisses, summer and “Hot Knife.” I was in a haze of total love last summer, feeling both being melted by my sweetheart into a lovebug puddle and feeling like I had acquired that superpower on him myself, and I’d listen to “Hot Knife” and think it was pretty apt. Mutual meltability = summer love? Not to quote iconic New Wave songs, but sometimes you really do just want to melt with someone.
The Plight of the Dancing Indian Ponies
I love to read about horse breeds: hotheaded warmbloods, calm and intelligent curly horses, sensitive and proud Thoroughbreds, stubborn Arabians, steady and strong Percherons. In India they have these rare horses — Marwaris — with these ohmygod kind of flopsy weirdly adorable ears. They’re just beautiful horses all around. And they’re often trained to dance, especially for high-demand rural areas for ceremonies like weddings and such — and they wear this amazing sparkly flower-festooned tack when they do so. The sad thing is that these horses are very rare, and have faced near-extinction for various reasons. A group of dedicated advocates have brought these horses back from the brink, but they would like to see antiquated export laws in India changed so that the indigenous horse can leave the country for better, kinder homes and breeding — and also because the parts of India they’re prevalent in are short on resources to keep the breed thriving. A group of filmmakers are making a film about Marwari horses and they have an Indiegogo project going to raise money for the movie. Please give and spread the word, to at least draw attention and shed light on a beautiful animal and record its history!
I Really Loved Ruby Sparks and Am Glad I Stayed Up Late to Watch It
Everyone has already shared that great New Statesman story about Manic Pixie Dream Girls, so I won’t get into it here. But I will say that it piqued my interest in watching one of the movies it cites, Ruby Sparks, written by its female lead Zoe Kazan and starring Paul Dano, an actor I have never fancied but nevertheless have always enjoyed watching onscreen — he’s got a rare groundedness and intellect for a young male American actor. And lo and behold, the entertainment gods are watching out for me, because earlier this week, Ruby Sparks was showing on late night HBO and I decided to watch it, being sleepless and all. And I really, really enjoyed it. It’s a modest film, well-shot but by no means visually flashy — and it’s well-acted. It is essentially an update on the Pygmalion story/Galatea myth, and a riff on the dangers of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl — or just the disservice we do ourselves and to others when we indulge in romantic idealization. I thought it would be a cute little romantic comedy, but it’s actually much darker than that.
I’m not used to writing smart things about movies anymore, which is a pity, because Ruby is a very smart movie, with an affable surface concealing much darker undertones. But I will put it this way: I have never been a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I am simply not that kind of cute or gamine or ingenue-ish. I’m not sure I’ve ever been romantically idealized in my life. But I have watched as many people I know fall in love with MPDG types, or tried to mold themselves into MPDGs in order to be loved. I’ve seen people waste years pining for a picture in their mind that can’t be attained — hell, I’ve wasted years of my life pining after a fever dream of a person, until finally this dreamboat was anything but. Ruby Sparks takes the point of view of the dude in the relationship, who manages to conjure up his dream girl. At first it’s great, but then he tries to control her by literally re-writing her character — and it gets darker and darker. That’s the thing — romantic idealization is, in a very passive way, its own kind of control over a situation and it curtails the full freedom to be human. And the film shows the costs of that brilliantly. It’s a lot tougher and darker and more feminist than the cutesy trailer makes it seem. I really enjoyed it, and maybe you will, too.