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.

How to Treat Your Friends Real Nice When You’re on a Budget

Doing things for your friends does not have to cost a lot and it always feels good to make a nice gesture. The hardest part about leaving college is that I don’t often get to see my friends from school anymore.  We are all from different places and we are all too broke to live anywhere, but at home with our parents.  It’s hard to stay connected when you aren’t seeing someone everyday and I think it can be easy to let little things push you apart when you could just melt into your post-grad life. So here are a few ways to keep the magic flowing if you have a small number on your bank statement.  Some may say this is the equivalent of buying love, but I like to think of it as selflessly spending for others.

1. Made With Code Bracelets:


Christi doesn’t understand the idea of photographic negative space

If you follow Mindy Kaling’s instagram you may have seen these bracelets before.  Along with Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling hosted an event to celebrate the start of Google’s $50 million initiative to get young girls interested in coding.   Basically you can go to the Made With Code website (madewithcode.com), go through a series of very easy coding prompts, pick your color and the words you want written on the bracelet, and then the whole thing is printed off on a 3D printer and sent to you for free from Google.

Maybe it was abusing the system, but I made a couple for my friends to let them know I was thinking about them.  They are really cute and I think everyone gets a little happy jolt when they get mail that isn’t loan repayment bills.  It takes about a month to receive your Made With Code bracelet, so if you are planing on getting one for a birthday or special occasion, make sure you plan accordingly.

2. Postcards & Letters – The first few months after I graduated I really got into the idea of letter writing. Most of the ways that you will communicate with your friends post-grad is electronically through social media, just liking and re-blogging their words or pictures.  I’m not going to tell you that this is the wrong way to keep in touch.  If your friend posts a selfie on their Instagram, it is your responsibility to like it and write a flattering comment. However, there is little romance in a thumbs up.  Sometimes I wanna see my friends curly, crazy handwriting, and hear stories that are more intimate than they would share in their status (unless you hang out with those people who like to share

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Sarah does

everything).  I think there something intimate and affectionate about how a person will tell the story to you, specifically. What nicknames they will call you, and what memories they will call upon to explain how something looked or felt.  Plus buying stationary can be really fun and personal and sending postcards is as cheap as it gets.  Which is great if you are low on funds.  I sent off a couple of letters to people, though in truth most of my friends are not as writing-focused as I am, so they were not entirely as enthused.  I got some responses back, some only texted to say they got it.  The problem is that most people don’t have the time to write letters anymore, and if they did, they’d rather watch Netflix.  Don’t let this discourage you, though.  There is a reason why I included postcards/letters to my list. Here is what I suggest:

 >If you want to pursue letter writing, find a friend who is willing to commit with you.  Letter writing is a whole art that you must learn about and get better at.  We don’t really communicate with our words that often, so there is a good chance that you may need time to figure out your writing style and the best way to tell a story or an idea to another person.

>If you don’t want to put pressure on them to respond, send a postcard.   Find something funny and write a message that doesn’t ask them a question, i.e.: I’m so happy you got that internship!  Game of Thrones sucked last night (though we all know it didn’t).  Your dog and I are in a secret relationship and she says she like me best! Whatever.  Just go into it with the idea that you are sending them a little love to brighten their day.

The best part is that more often than not they will at least send you a Snap Chat or text showing you what they’ve received and telling you how much it means to them.  I have one letter I received from Sarah (pictured above) where she handmade the stationary.  And Christi (to the right) keeps a postcard I sent her at her desk at work.  All of these mementos can just be special tokens that keep you feeling connected.  Your friends will appreciate that you tried to make them feel special, even if you did while sitting on the couch in your underwear.  I think I’ll end on that mental image for my buddies, enjoy!

**Special thanks to my friends who are letting me post their beautiful faces on the internet.  You are wonderful people.


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.