Mistaken For Strangers: You’ve Got the Allergy

image found on madmen.com.au

In the landscape of popular music, there is a small minority who are listening to indie rock, smaller who are listening to the critically acclaimed band, The National, and smaller still who know that the lead singer, Matt Berninger, has a metal head younger brother. In fact, the only people who may know or care about Tom Berninger are his parents. It isn’t easy to see your older brother become one of the most celebrated musicians of the 2000’s while you toil away, living in your family’s basement.  So sets the scene for the film , Mistaken For Strangers, taken from the name of a song off The National’s fourth album, Boxer.

“I feel like the only reason why he thinks I’m on tour is because I’m your brother.

“Here’s the truth.  The only reason that you are here is because you’re my brother”

Filmed in 2010, while the band was on tour in Europe, Strangers outlines the tension of the family golden boy vs the underachiever, in a clear, but subtle way.  Matt was tall and athletic growing up (though I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Matt Berninger’s awkward teenage brace-face).   Tom was short and had a belly.  In an interview with their mother Nancy who is a painter, she shows us two paintings that she uses for inspiration.  One is a modern, abstract painting, clean lines and very sophisticated – Matt’s creation.  Then next to it is three panels of drawings, cartoonish figures (akin to something you would see on Adult Swim) that tells the story of a man who wants to make his own legs – Tom’s. God bless Nancy, who reminds her son, “I always told you, you were my most creative.  My most talented.  Matt was harder to raise. He was always moody growing up. But you were happy, you just took things as they came.” To which Tom says, “Until now, now I’m the depressed one.” Continue reading

My Mom and I Count: How Many Times Did They Say “Italian” on Last Night’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey



Though we are also counting Nicole and Teresa’s father, Sal, who twice mentioned that they were having real Neapolitan cooking.  Neapolitan meaning Naples, not, if you are anything like me, the brain-fart question I came up with (for only a second) where is Neapoli? Don’t worry, I put it together.

On Bravo’s website this as the first line of the twins’ bio:

Nicole and Teresa are identical twins with an over-the-top Neapolitan style.

Papa Sal (wife of Santa) also reminded us that the Neapolitans, besides “the Hebrews and the Chinese,” are the only people who maintain their tradition.

Every housewife has to have their “thing,” I guess.

Here is Your Fall 2014 Reading List

August 5, 2014 Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay

If you are even remotely engaged with the world of lit, you have heard of Roxane Gay.  Her second book, An Untamed State seemed to be on everyone’s summer reading list and was even The Rumpus’ official selection for their Rumblr Book Club.  Lena Dunham, John Green, Tyler Coates, the NYT, HelloGiggles…Oprah, long story short this book was everywhere.  Luckily we won’t have to wait too long before Ms. Gay’s next release, a book of essays called Bad Feminist which looks like a mixture of pop-cultural critique, feminism, and personal anecdotes.  Am I excited? yes. But only because I am an Impatient Reader.

September 23, 2014 How to Build a Girl: A Novel – Caitlin Moran

Perhaps I had seen a copy of How to Be a Woman at my local Barnes and Nobles, but I only really discovered Caitlin Moran when I spent the semester in England.  Moran is sort of like the UK’s version of Tina Fey if she hadn’t gone into TV and instead decided to write a book about her privates, in a funny way, and was a writer for The Times.   Everytime I think about the writing career I want to have, I try to imagine how I can be as quick, witty, and funny as Caitlin Moran.  Could there even be a columnist that is allowed to be as pointed as she is in a US national paper?  I’m not sure.  I keep her second book, a collection of her favorite articles, Moranthology, in my bookshelf section that I call, “Helpful Writing Stuff,” and I flip through when I need a little writerly inspo.  Her third book, a Young Adult, coming-of-age novel called How to Build a Girl: A Novel has a 4.02 (out of 5) rating on Goodreads and has received positive reviews… in England where it was released on July 3.  Unfortunately for me, I have to wait until September 23 until I can get my hands on it. ughhhhhhh.

September 30, 2014 Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” – Lena Dunham

It feels like Lena DunBuns – which is the nick name I lovingly call Lena Dunham in my head and not some sort of commentary on her booty – has been writing this book for forever.  Though perhaps being a young successful showrunner, producer, and actress on your own TV show has taken her away from her novelist time.  Talk about a gig economy.  Even if you aren’t a fan of Girls or have gotten caught up in LD hate, you have to admire Lena Dunham’s work ethic and persistence.  Not that Kind of Girl is expected to be a collection of personal essays that will surely make people wonder, okay so are you basically Hannah or are you still acting?  I can only hope that at least a few stories include mesh tank tops, crackcidents, and also your dad is gay, it was nice to see you.

October 28, 2014 Yes, Please– Amy Poehler

I have a personal anecdote about the upcoming Amy Poehler book.  The first week of June I went to the final day of Book Expo America, and waited in line for over an hour to see Amy Poehler.  I was worried that I wouldn’t get a good spot to see AP because when it comes to someone like her, I want to be able to see every line and wrinkle or it wouldn’t have really felt like I saw her at all.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, I got inside the hall where she would shortly be “in conversation” with Martin Short and snuck up to the front where they had a limited number of tables set up before the general audience seating. I typically have very low expectations when it comes to meeting my heroes, due to an unfortunate Lauren Graham incident in high school (which is a story for another day) so I was cautious about how much I was going to enjoy the next hour. If she was rude, self-centered, had horrible plastic surgery (it just would have been surprising),  or said something even vaguely anti-feminist, I would’ve given up hope of ever having a hero again.  (Or, as they said in Whip It, I could “be my own hero” though honestly that sounds like sooo much work.)

On the table were pink fortune cookies, with words of wisdom from the book inside.  A very nice, and yummy, touch.  The crowd was mostly young (20’s) and female, but what more can you expect for Leslie Knope?

Soon it was time for things to begin, so Martin Short enters stage right and makes the introduction.  Everyone, naturally, cheers their little faces off and when Amy Poehler walked out it she was like the human embodiment of sunshine.  She looked just like how you would expect her to look and the next hour proved that she is exactly what you want her to be.  She was naturally hilarious, humble without seeming fake, had great anecdotes from her time on SNL, and there was even a moment when Martin Short asked her, “So why should someone buy your book and not someone’s book who’s terrible….like Kim Kardashian?” And I swear Amy Poehler shut that shit down in the nicest way possible.  She says, “I don’t like the comparison. I don’t want to compare two women.  Is there another way you can ask that question?” Nice.  Not punishing Short for going for a sort of obvious and mean-ish joke.  It made me really respect how clearly Amy Poehler sees her idea of feminism and how aware she is of what her words mean to other people.

There was also a moment when Short asks her about some sex tips she put in the book and Amy Poehler seemed to be grasping for the right thing to say.  He asks, “You wrote it didn’t you?  Don’t you remember what you wrote?” And she says, “I did!  But I can’t remember the exact way I said it and I don’t think it will sound as funny out loud as it does on paper. And I don’t want to say it if it won’t be funny.” Instead of a lot of celebrities who will peddle their personal lives to get attention and make their work secondary, this made me realize how seriously Amy Poehler wants to communicate that she is a comedian first, person of interest second.  Between this interview and some of the quotes I’ve read from her on comedy, I feel like she is the sort of person who wants to make the work first and then shut up about it.

This is a long way of saying that if there is one book on this list that I think the most people will enjoy and get something meaningful out of, it will be Yes, Please.   I could write pages of how fantastic and smart I think Amy Poehler is, but I will let you get to see for yourself when her book comes out in October.