Archive for April, 2011

Sad Banana

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

My breakfast banana woke up on the wrong side of the bowl this morning.

Sad Banana

Sad, Sad, Tragic Banana

Not unlike its eater.

After I took this photo, I started singing “O Sole Mio,” and the banana took a nose-dive into my muesli.

With perfect timing.

It was glorious and operatic.

It was breakfast banana death!

Sorry, banana.

Bad day for you.

Attached

Monday, April 18th, 2011

So, I read this book.

I had heard the authors interviewed on NPR (Tech Nation, which—stretch, but I don’t mind), and I was interested in the first half of the subtitle, i.e., “the new science of adult attachment.” I figured it’d be pretty cool to get a deeper understanding of the neurophysiology behind attachment, how it operates in a relationship, and what it can teach us about ways to build intimacy.

But Attached was so offensive to me in its reductivity (and, I believe, wrongheadedness) and so similar to other books I have read in that respect that it inspired me to coin a new genre: pseudo-scientific pop-psychology that uses one facet of brain biology to justify bad behavior.

Nu? I feel like we’re seeing a lot of that lately.

The basic premise of Attached is this: Our brains are wired for attachment. Therefore, we should form attachments. Therefore, if you are desperate for attachment, don’t worry: That’s natural. And also therefore, if your partner needs 5 phone calls and 7 texts from you every day to feel safe in the relationship, it’s your job to make those calls and send those texts. ‘Cause that’s attachment.

No . . . that’s insatiable need.

I mean, if you take a tiny sliver of brain biology—the brain forms attachments and then rebels when those attachments are broken, causing feelings of loss and desire—and use it to govern behavior, you’re going to end up with a lot of bad behavior. Because, for instance, the brain forms a really strong attachment to heroin the first time you try it, and as we all know, it’s pretty much a disaster to strengthen that attachment. In fact, that’s called addiction.

And if you’re in a relationship and you need your partner to call and email constantly to assure you that everything’s fine, that sounds like addiction, too.

The brain seems “wired” for addiction, right? At least, it responds quickly and powerfully to certain substances and actions, forming neural networks and releasing chemicals that make us want to repeat the behavior.

But addiction is not good for the body or soul. It’s probably not good for the brain, either. So just because the brain is “wired” for something doesn’t mean that we should reinforce said something. In fact, the opposite is true. We need to take special care to make sure that we don’t get addicted, as addiction is a kind of brain-biology prison in which a neurochemical cycle comes to control our behavior.

Right?

Feel free to correct me.

And that, friends, is today’s tirade.

Franzen/DFW

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

I wrote a long piece about the recent Franzen article in The New Yorker which takes, as its main topic, the suicide of David Foster Wallace. And then I got a queasy feeling about intruding in a very private tragedy that has been made public in uncomfortable ways (including, arguably, in Franzen’s article), so I removed it from the blog. But I’m still interested in having the discussion. If you are, too, email me and I’ll send it along.

Bernadette Felters

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I felted again, and it felt so good.

I’m giving you a peek at this one before she’s properly polished (to come: silver purse buckle), because it’s Sunday, which means tomorrow’s Monday, which is when the work drops.

So: Bernadette! Here she is waving a big hello, which she is capable of doing, as her arms are prehensile.

Bernatette Felters, arm up.

Hello, Big World! Prepare to LOVE ME!

And now for a more organic setting, with arm lowered and hair coiffed to perfection.

Avec Bamboo

Avec Bamboo

This is an editorial shot, with a subtler smile and a white-on-white set, which always signals “chic” or “dentist’s office.”

Bern, Editorial

Bern, Editorial

And finally, a longer shot of Bernadette out for a table-top promenade. She’s a city girl whose love of people-watching is matched only by her passion for jelly doughnuts, so it’s good to get her out of the felting bag and into the limelight.

Shine, Bernie, shine!

Bern on a Stroll

Bern on a Stroll

Movies, Highly Recommended

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

We saw a very sweet movie over the weekend—Win Win [sic], by the admirable Thomas McCarthy, who also directed The Station Agent and The Visitor. I keep reading less-than-enthused reviews, and . . . [whiningly] no.

Win Win is hilarious, compassionate, and all kinds of fun. The characters feel real, everyone’s sympathetic, and both Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan are fantastic in their portrayal of good people in a loving marriage, with issues.

Plus, I love Amy Ryan. Who doesn’t love Amy Ryan?

And now that The Fighter is out on DVD, I snuck it in yesterday as a late-afternoon treat. I expected to find what Anthony Lane had promised I would—i.e., a beautiful mess—and while I’m often in the Lane camp on any number of things, here we part ways. Because I found it mostly only beautiful. Yes, The Fighter is messy, but it’s purposefully messy and at the same time entirely composed. Everything in it makes emotional sense.

And what’s Lane talking about in his bizarre New Yorker cap? He’s worried that it’s not a boxing movie? It’s not supposed to be a boxing movie! It’s a movie about family, and how it can be both toxic and hugely important and foundational, and it’s about one man’s attempt to navigate his way into independence without leaving his family behind.

Boxing is incidental, Anthony! Please return from the Land of Arbitrary to be the reviewer I know and love.

We Ate a Beet

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

As I’m sure I’ve made clear, John is an optimist.

So, cue last night.

We’re lying in bed, talking about this and that, with the aim of connecting after a slightly trying day. I decide to list triumphs:

M: Well, we got you new slacks for work.

J: Yup.

M: Two pairs.

J: Yup.

M: That’s never easy!

J: Nope.

M: And we made a pretty delicious dinner with food items we already had.

J: So we didn’t have to toss any perfectly good food into the compost!

M: Right!

J: And we ate a beet.

M: We . . . what?

J: We ate a beet.

M: We ate a beet?

J: Yeah!

M: That’s a success? That’s on your list for today?

J: That’s big for us! We always have old beets lying around!

M: [Laughing.]

J: It’s even bigger for you!

[Here he's referring to my general aversion to cooking and eating my own vegetables.]

M: [Really laughing now.] I know, but—

J: We ate a beet!

M: [Hysterical.] Okay, okay. We ate a beet!

J: [Smile of satisfaction.]

Despite this lovely exchange, which as you may have detected had an undercurrent of conflict, soon enough we were again in the realm of testy disagreement. (Again, trying day.) And as I had hoped that we’d be coming together for an end-of-day love-in, I was disappointed.

M: Hey, Sweetie. Where is the love right now?

J: Sorry?

M: The love. Where is the love?

J: I’m beaming it at you like a Care Bear.