In which we all just give up

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Not a huge fan of diets but somehow we’ve gone from losing weight to not gaining weight. Also, Cosmo, “bra awards?”

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Things That Many People Like That I Don’t Really Like All That Much

While I’m making lists (see New Year’s Resolutions for Other People) here’s another one.

  1. New Year’s Eve—Falls into the category of Holidays We Hate
  2. Old black and white movies—Why, when there are so many new ones in color?
  3. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel—Yes, it’s in color but I still don’t like it and I couldn’t figure out why, given the fabulous clothes and super charming Rachel Brosnahan. Emily Nussbaum nailed it in her New Yorker review entitled (and this says it all) ‘The Cloying Fantasia of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which she summed up as “tooth-rottingly twee,” even while lamenting it was “so far up my alley it was practically chopping onions in my kitchen.”
  4. Orchids—On a TV show set they are shorthand for “fancy law office,” and in someone’s house, “this home is for sale.”
  5. Bob Dylan—Lyrics, great! Voice, not great!
  6. Honey mustard—I love both honey and mustard but not together
  7. Beer—But I do like an ice-cold Bud Lite with Lime on a (and I do mean just one) hot summer day
  8. Facebook—Would it be OK if I just shut it down? It annoys me mightily.
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New Year’s Resolutions for Other People

If I write no other posts during a calendar year (and I write very few) there’s always this one, in which helpfully help others make New Year’s Resolutions. You’re welcome!

To: Shampoo & Conditioner Package Designers 

There are lots of big words on these bottles relating to ingredients like ADZUKA BEANS and benefits like VOLUMIZING. Much, much smaller—and oftentimes in a less-bold font and color—are the words that help you distinguish the shampoo from the conditioner, a task made harder by the whole no-glasses in a steamed-up shower situation. So I have to guess and I always guess wrong. Suggestion: Make the font for ‘shampoo’ and ‘conditioner’ some combination of large, bold and dark, unless the bottle is dark then make it light. Readability is what we’re after here.

ToGoogle

So AI probably has some super useful applications. But one of them is not predicting what I’m going to type next. All of this started with gmail suggesting a few responses I could select if I were feeling really lazy—’sounds like a plan!’ and the like. But yesterday I was attaching an edited document to an email with the explanation that revisions were …. and while I was thinking “highlighted in yellow,” that’s what the Google filled in. So specific! So not really guessable! So creepy!

To: People on Crowded Subway Cars With Backpacks On That Practically Knock Me Over When They So Much as Back Up a Bit

Take them off.

To: the Person Who is Watching a Movie on Amazon Prime With Me Right This Very Minute

Stop talking so much.

 

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No company for old men (and women)

I somehow missed an essay called No Country for Old Men (and Women) by Steve Grubbs, about agism in the media, especially as companies seek “synergies and cost savings” after they merge (good-bye Time Inc.!)  Chillingly, he writes about running into “a senior executive at a major media company who indicated she ‘had maybe two years left.’ She is in her early 50’s.”

As factors, he cites the pressures imposed by Wall Street when media companies miss their earnings’ mark. But fair enough, as this pressure is a byproduct of being a publicly held company, yeah? More on the mark, specifically for media sellers, is the death of relationship selling, thanks to programmatic ad buying.

N.B.: Ageism is also true on the creative side, per this post.

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Sanctuary

And just as we launch ourselves into “the holiday season,” which is almost entirely equated with shopping, here’s a beautiful story about a Dutch church (shared by a friend, how did I miss this?) and its 800-hour service, as a means of protecting a Armenian family from deportation.

Apparently under Dutch law, police officers are not permitted to enter a church while a religious service is taking place, CNN explains. So for more than a month, hundreds of pastors and volunteers have conducted a continuous service, all in support of the family, whose asylum claim was rejected.

Not for nothing, the church is called Bethel Church.

The meaning of Christmas, indeed.

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The meaning of Christmas

 

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Growing Darkness

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Wild + Precious

I just found out that the literary world is dismissive of the poet Mary Oliver, whom I love to pieces. I was thinking of the “sun swinging east” during these “days of growing darkness,” quoting “Lines Written During These Days of Growing Darkness.” Feeling as if I had elevated my experience of a bleak day. Feeling a bit smug to be thinking about poetry as I walked home from the train station as opposed to, say, about the wine I was going to drink when I got there. Turns out my poet of choice was deemed “the kind of old-fashioned poet who walks the woods most days, accompanied by dog and notepad,” per a profile in The New Yorker. The profile also tells me she was a Provincetown girl who wrote about the world but stuck close to home. When asked if she might like to travel she said yes, agreeably, then would “go off to my woods, my ponds, my sun-filled harbor, no more than a blue comma on the map of the world but, to me, the emblem of everything.”

And speaking of everything, take this you also-smug New Yorker profile writer: “There is only one question; / how to love this world,” from Oliver’s “Spring.”

I give you “Lines” which I recited, almost by heart, at the Bowery Poetry Project this past summer (a story for another time).

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

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What women want

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It’s not that complicated. But brands don’t get that women want to see themselves reflected—their bodies, their ages, their ethnicities, their preferences—in branded messaging. Recently, a Victoria Secret executive dismissed the thought of casting plus size and transgender models in Victoria’s Secret shows.

“Why don’t you do 50?” L Brands CEO Ed Razek retorted, referring to garment sizing. “Why don’t you do 60? Why don’t you do 24? It’s like, why doesn’t your show do this? Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”

It’s Ed Razek’s fantasy, and indeed fatal flaw, that women want to watch an “entertainment special” featuring pantily-clad women at all. Per the NY Times, the company’s stock is down 41 percent this year and in response to questions asked in recent consumer study, 60 percent said they think the brand feels “forced” or “fake.”

I’m recalling a 2013 flameout when an executive at Lulu Lemon told the press that plus sizing was not part of its “formula.” Posted on its Facebook page: “Our product and design strategy is built around creating products for our target guest in our size range of 2-12. While we know that doesn’t work for everyone and recognize fitness and health come in all shapes and sizes, we’ve built our business, brand and relationship with our guests on this formula.”

Meanwhile, ThirdLove, started by women offers 74 sizes and “nude” tones across the spectrum of human skin colors. That’s what women want.

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I’m Rich

My Grandma Howard used to say — chortle, really — ‘I’m rich,’ when referring to her six grandchildren. Funny, because she was a mostly unsentimental person about family and everything else (and also because she was rich, money wise).
I’m reading a book* about a man who has suffered a violent assault and is recovering at home, full of pain and rage, his memory addled. All he wants is to return to what was once so unremarkable he was entirely unseeing of it: his ordinary life. He wants to be just a man putting on his jacket before leaving for work in the morning, stopping to rinse out a coffee cup and check his pocket for keys. Unremarkable except when it’s all gone and you no longer have a job to go to or the ability to make coffee or the dexterity to use keys or the mobility required to walk down a sidewalk on your own. I read in this both a caution and an invitation. Notice all these things, they are not yours forever (the bad news). Don’t dismiss your ordinary blessings because you’re too busy wanting other things. Also (and the good news): while you have them you are rich indeed.
*The Witch Elm by Tana French

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How to be 60: Find Your Peeps

I seek women of my age or stage who look cool and proud and smart and stylish and modern. I imagine they recognize one or more of these qualities in me and we acknowledge each other as we pass, silently. ‘I see you, lady!’

This requires that the woman not be arrogant or self-involved or have some similar blinding factor. (Note: arrogance and self-involvement are limiting!”) Why? Because otherwise they won’t see me. 

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Storyholic

I have a horror of landing someplace without a book or streaming device or a way to write — a way to distract myself with a story. The more tired I am the simpler the distraction must be: an Instagram feed works well. Embarking on a 20-hour trip to Shanghai, I have 3 physical books, 5 novels on 3 platforms (Hoopla, iBooks, Scribd) and episodes downloaded to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Good to go.

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