For Nora and My Inner Sally

I sometimes feel sad when celebrities die, very sad, but I don’t join in public grieving. Even when great people pass, I am mournful but rarely feel bereft.* I lost interest in Ephron’s movies over the years. Her characters can’t bear the weight of my feminist-womanist-Marxist gaze. But when I saw she died I was crushed. I started crying immediately and called my mother. She has no idea who Nora Ephron is, but I called her anyway because that’s what you do when you lose a friend.

She certainly wasn’t a friend in the usual way, and I had no interest in meeting her, but her heroines—quirky, high maintenance, hopeless romantics—managed to get through my cynicism. And I don’t care if it’s a cliché to say it: I love Sally. Love that she is uptight and a bit of a know it all. That she orders so much on the side.

Sure I loved Claire Huxtable and Murphy Brown and Julia Sugarbaker. Still love their sass and their strength (sometimes I watch old clips of Julia Sugarbaker just to stiffen my spine). But just like there’s always been a part of me that is Mary Richards, there is a part of me that is Sally and that woman in “You’ve Got Mail” on the Upper West Side.

Especially in my closet.

When I see pictures of myself from the past, in men’s ties and hats and funky scarves, I know that Annie Hall seeped in when I wasn’t looking. That phase passed (along with my Birkenstock phase, thank the fashion gods), but Sally (and her iterations) has remained.

So when I heard that Nora died, I thought of the pearl gray dress I bought earlier this year and the linen skirt with the side pleat that needs to go to the dry cleaners. I’m drawn to clean lines and, for the most part, muted colors. Given a choice, I will always choose tea-length skirts and ballet flats. I venture out from time to time, but even my favorite, bright red linen dress looks like something that Sally might have worn—if she could pull off such a bold color. There’s a sweetness to that style that I’ve always been drawn to.

I may live in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, walk by a huge portrait of Jay Z every single day, and sign e-mails to my colleague-friends “Omar,” but I also wore a twin set to a Trinidadian Cooler Fete, a fact that makes everyone who knows what that must have looked like laugh out loud.

And just last week, when I was overcompensating because I’m fairly certain the afro I’m sporting these days makes me look like a boy and I tried to balance it out by putting on a mini skirt and heels, I didn’t feel a bit like myself. It didn’t matter how great my friends told me I looked, the outfit was just not me. Even if the skirt was seersucker pink, and I wore it with a pink cardigan.

Sometimes “You’ve Got Mail” will come on, and I’ll roll my eyes and change the channel, but I always come back to see the taupe and grey linen dress with the cardigan and the skimmers. It’s a sweet scene with Ryan and Hanks in some garden. There are flowers and a dog. And I can just about get past the horrible politics of the story.

I’ve wondered over the last few years, as I’ve settled more comfortably into the many different parts of me—the Mary Richards and the Omar Little, the Julia Sugarbaker and the Clare Huxtable—if I still feel such a strong connection to Nora’s women. Then I look in my closet and know that I still do.

*(exceptions include Etta James and Lucille Clifton)

On the Nose: Jena Bush’s New Job

Glenn Greenwald over at Salon makes a lot of sense (I found his commentary while reading The New York Times online):

They should convene a panel for the next “Meet the Press” with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it’s really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There’s a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters. . . .

All of the above-listed people are examples of America’s Great Meritocracy, having achieved what they have solely on the basis of their talent, skill and hard work — The American Way. By contrast, Sonia Sotomayor — who grew up in a Puerto Rican family in Bronx housing projects; whose father had a third-grade education, did not speak English and died when she was 9; whose mother worked as a telephone operator and a nurse; and who then became valedictorian of her high school, summa cum laude at Princeton, a graduate of Yale Law School, and ultimately a Supreme Court Justice — is someone who had a whole litany of unfair advantages handed to her and is the poster child for un-American, merit-less advancement.

Beyonce vs. Aretha? vs Dyson vs. West?

If anyone told me that I’d ever see Michael Eric Dyson offering his imitation of Beyonce, I would have taken them straight to the nearest mental institution. But here he is in an energetic “debate” with Cornel West (aka the coolest black man walking the planet) about who is better. I wish I’d seen Tavis Smiley’s announcement about his movie on HuffingtonPost earlier because the movie (“Stand”) looks interesting:

I WANT MY MARY!!! (progress??)

As I posted a few months ago, fans of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” were about to be cheated by 20th Century Fox and Amazon. People began to complain and some people even wrote to the New York Times about it.

It seems we’re making progress.

According to some guy I’ve never heard of, on a site I never visit, some progress has been made in getting the last three seasons of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” According to the report, “No official reason was given for the change, but the main reason SEEMS to be that fans who already own the first four season sets didn’t want to feel pushed into re-buying them to get the remaining three seasons; they wanted Seasons 5-7 issued individually.”

I’m going to assume this is true, that we’re going to win.

Now the only question is when the fifth season will be released. I. just. can’t. wait.

Regarding brown people in Newport…or the (supposed) lack thereof

After noting the lack of brown people in the town in my post yesterday, they started showing up all over the place—in cars, on skateboards, and in restaurants. Maybe Wednesday is a special day that I don’t know about. I was reminded of my favorite moment in the most recent film version of “Hairspray” when Tracy Turnblad announces, “I wish everyday was Negro Day!”

Good Rule of Thumb #1

A few Saturdays ago, I got waylaid on a trip to Brooklyn by construction in New Jersey. It mucked things up forever and ever. In fact, even though I am no longer there am, in fact, in Louisiana enjoying Southern sunshine and my mother’s cooking, I know I left part of me on the New Jersey Turnpike, that part of me is still sitting with the car in park, watching bright day turn into dark night.

But I digress.

When I finally broke free from the New Jersey Hell Pike (where I’m convinced I still am), it was too late to make the event I planned to attend in Brooklyn, and I found myself on the Upper West Side, alone on a Saturday night, peckish, tired, and restless. I decided I’d eat within a block of wherever I could find parking. Along the way to a favorite restaurant, I popped into a small bookstore to find something to read over dinner. I saw a used copy of Helen Fielding’s Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination for $3.25 and decided it was worth a try. Until I got queasy about how Fielding mocked competent, ambitious women, I liked Bridget Jones’s Diary, but I found the sequel annoying and unbelievable. I’d heard that Fielding had “gone another way” with this novel, so I thought I’d give it a try, and I’m so glad I did.

Olivia Joules has all the best qualities of Bridget Jones–a tendency to fantasize as a way to cope with what could be a vapid or boring life, an ability to see the bright side of things without being annoyingly chipper, good taste in men–and she’s competent to boot! Olivia Joules is a free-lance writer who so desperately wants to be a secret agent that she tries to report on mysterious events that aren’t real at all. As a woman whose letter opener in her office is actually a dagger she was given during a role-playing game she made up with her friend Elissa when they were both in junior high, I can relate. The novel made me laugh aloud over my scallion-ginger pancakes and warm asparagus salad and weeks later, enjoying a quiet evening at my parents’ house, it made me anxious (in a good way) and sigh (in an even better way). And along the way, I picked up a good rule of thumb. I’d tell you who says it in the novel, but that would give the plot away:

The corruption of the good by the belief in their own infallible goodness is the most bloody dangerous pitfall in the human spectrum. Once you have conquered all your sins, pride is the one which will conquer you. A man starts off deciding he is a good man because he makes good decisions. Next thing, he’s convinced that whatever decision he makes must be good because he’s a good man….Always stick with people who know they are flawed and ridiculous.

Rocking out of a Rut

There is a fine line between a ritual and a rut, and I’m not sure I know the difference. The thing is, I like rituals. I like knowing that if it’s Wednesday at 10:00 pm, I’m watching “Damages” and that if it’s Saturday afternoon, I’m walking in the park. Tuesday afternoons are for trying on clothes. Having half an English muffin with peanut butter and honey while watching an episode and a half of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” helps me sleep, though lately I’ve been wondering if reading would be more relaxing. But the time I clock on my sofa sometimes feel less like a ritual and more like a rut—write a little, check my favorite websites, send an e-mail, play Super Text Twist. “Barefoot Contessa,” evening news, evening shows. Ritual or rut?

Late Friday afternoon when I got a message from my new friend J while I was on the phone with my oldest (in longevity not years) friend Nish, I decided that getting off the couch and accepting J’s last minute invitation to a play was the right thing to do. Saying no seemed like staying in a rut.

It’s not like I didn’t have plans for the evening. After all, it’s Friday. Friday means “BSG” while IMing with two long-distance friends. Fond as I am of them, I’ve spent too much time at home with long-distance friends, so, with 16 minutes notice, I went from yoga pants to the only outfit that currently fits (everything else is too big) to the train across the street from my apartment and to New York City to see “Rooms: A Rock Romance. “ Now, I love musicals. LOVE them, but I’m not so into the so-called “rock musical.” And the idea of “Rent” meets “Spring Awakening” was not as appealing as my sofa. J is cool and fun, though, and the tickets were free, and I didn’t realize how cold it was outside, so off I went.

Get this: the show was fantastic! It was so great that even though I had to pee rather desperately through more than half of it, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The story feels a bit predictable, but Leslie Kritzer as Monica is irresistible. Think early Barbara Streisand but cuter. As a “Scottish Jewish Princess” determined to make her mark as a rock star, I had no problem believing how effortlessly she seduces Ian (Doug Kreeger) out of one room into another, in London and then in New York, but I hope in future shows that Kreeger can find another note to play—not musically as he has a lovely voice but in his character. Nuance matters as much as a Scottish accent, and I left the show wondering why this charming, ambitious woman could get so attached to a man who is so obviously not what she deser….oh, never mind. I get it. Art imitates life.

The “rock” part of the romance was perfect. I suspect that a lot of hip, young New Yorkers will be singing those songs in the future. I’m happy to have them lingering in my head, even the morning after the show.

The show was in previews (thus the free tickets), but it opens on March 16. If I see it a few more times while it be a new ritual or a musical rut?

I WANT MY MARY!!!

It’s quite simple.

20th Century Fox owns “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

They released the first season at a pretty high price.

They released the second season at reasonable price.

Same things with season three.

And Season four.

Then nothing

for years

Enter Oprah and her show reuniting the cast members.

New York Times reports that the seasons five through seven will be released

eventually

Today, Amazon.com makes a big announcement that the remaining seasons are available…

if you buy all seven seasons.

That’s right.
If you bought the first four seasons.

You’d have to buy them again to get the final three.

Fans are pissed. I am a fan. Therefore I am pissed