Ayn Rand's personal life was an unmitigated disaster, fueled by personality cultists who literally, legally, changed their names in tribute to her and her fiction, whom she alternately possessively clutched to herself or expelled in purges worthy of Josef Stalin. Read the rest
A classic Mallory Ortberg humor column sets out a day in the life of an "empowered female heroine," a fictional staple on whom society (and literature) project a huge amount of aspirational demands. Read the rest
Anyone who's paid close attention knows that the series should really be called "Hermoine Granger and the Repeated Rescue of the Lazy, Glory-Hogging Boys," but as usual, Mallory Ortberg (previously) brings it all home with some scathing and witty fanfic: Read the rest
Mallory Ortberg expertly skewers the weird de-cluttering dogma of Marie Kondo's bestselling Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: "It’s important to be very rich but have almost no items in your home." Read the rest
Mallory Ortberg on The Toast: 10. "I used to like your work, but I don't now. Have you considered doing the things I like again?" (via Kottke) Read the rest
Fanfic can take you down some peculiar roads. But in Mallory Ortberg's imagined Ayn Rand fanfic of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the the tenets of ruthless self-interest are shouted to hilarious effect. Read the rest
kids, Ralph Wiggum is the only child on the Simpsons, full of childishness that's endearing and true. Read the rest
In a beautiful essay on The Toast, Mallory Ortberg argues that while Bart, Lisa and Millhouse are
Mallory Ortberg interviews her little brother, a physicist, about the scientific documentary, The Core. Read the rest
At The Toast, Mallory Ortberg has a list of films from the 1920s and 30s — prior to the widespread adoption of the Hollywood Production Code and its morality guidelines — that are actually worth tracking down through Amazon, Netflix, and other sources.
Most of the movies made during this era have been lost, and not all of those that survived are timeless classics. Studios were still figuring out what worked in a talking picture and what didn’t, so there’s lots of problems with pacing — some movies waste several minutes on dead air in scenes that would have been cut entirely just a few years later. Serious technical issues dog the crop from 1928-1930, too; there’s one film where every time you see a character holding a piece of paper, it’s soaking wet because at the time there was no other way to keep from picking up every crackle and rustle of a dry sheet of paper with the microphones. So there are more than a few pre-Code films that have been deservedly forgotten.
That said, Ortberg offers up a nice accounting of the ones you should check out, arranged in categories such as "Worth Watching For Any Reason", "If You Want To Get Into Pre-Civil-Rights-Era Racial Dynamics", "Worth It For the Titles Alone", and "If You Want To Take A Deeply Uncomfortable Journey To Another Time" (which hits all the fun horrible things of the past not covered by the racial dynamics category). Read the rest
Here's a nice use of science fiction's trick of describing cherished human behaviors and institutions through the ironic distance of an alien observer: Mallory Ortberg's short story Erotica Written By An Alien Pretending Not To Be Horrified By The Human Body: Read the rest
Sound it Out # 60: Throwing Muses - “slippershell” (free MP3)
Throwing Muses haven’t released new music in ten years, though singer/songwriter Kristin Hersh has not been idle. Hersh has various solo and collaborative musical projects, released an excellent memoir called Rat Girl in 2010, and co-founded CASH Music, a non-profit that supplies open-source tools to musicians. Read the rest
High concept from the Hairpin's Mallory Ortberg: "Text-messages from a ghost:"
hey im gaunting you ok
Do you mean haunting
yeah sorry i don’t have any fingers
so im poltergeisting a stick to help me text this
Who is this?
oh sorry im a ghost
So do you live inside this phone
yeah kind of
Text Messages From a Ghost
(via Making Light)
(Image: Ghost Dance Texture, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from oddsock's photostream) Read the rest