Intrepid Girl Reporter

Thursday, 12/18: the strange tale of Robert Barisford Brown
December 18, 2008, 11:27 pm
Filed under: blogz, design, holidays, IGR Recommends | Tags: ,

It is not Christmas in the IGR household without the dulcet tones of New Edition.

“Ha ha!” you are thinking. “She likes it in an ironic way because it’s kitsch! And because of the nostalgia it induces! Look at their pseudo-Motown styling, complete with sequined tuxes!”

You are wrong. I really like it.

Believe it or not, this is the one album that I can remember being played every holiday season, without fail. My uncle Pascal, a quiet computer programmer with a secret passion for dance music and techno*, sent us this some time before my memories begin. It’s the kind of disc that has the songs printed on the CD itself, along with the label (RCA). My father, who likes to compare himself to attractive black men**, fakes a microphone every year in order to sing along. Which is how Bobby Brown has become an inextricable part of my holiday season.

This is not, like most Christmas albums, a series of covers. Rather, it’s a group of originals – including “Give Love On Christmas Day” and my personal favorite, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Girl.” One might think that this makes this easier to judge them, as one is not faced by the twinges of conscience that would occur with a condemnation of “Silent Night.” Conversely, it could also be postulated that it’s harder to judge these songs, because there’s nothing to compare them to, with the possible exception of that song from Love Actually. Truthfully, it’s neither. I don’t even know if these songs are good or bad anymore, just like you probably can’t give an opinion regarding the objective merits of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” They just are, and they always will be, now and forever. Amen.

I’d like to change the subject briefly and highlight a few discoveries I’ve made lately, as well as provide more life updates.

First off: Logo Design Love and The Lovely Package. Font lovers’ dream.

Next, a series from the magazine Format that speaks for itself:

Thirdly, DCist, which may or may not make me give up my beloved Daily Intel. Via Iris, who is my new friend and whose blog should probably count for #4.

Fifthly, the group I work with in Johnson City gets on TV…when I’m out of town. Fortunately, they uploaded the story, because I guess TiVo doesn’t work on local channels. Thx TiVo.

Sixthly (good God): a book whose illustrations are entirely made out of letters. Could not be cuter.

LAST OF ALL! I have housing, although I’m sort of crashing for the first month, which means I can’t decorate, but I’m going to start reading Apartment Therapy anyway.

*He looks and sounds like a taller version of Eugene on Top Chef: New York. I am not the only one to notice this.

**He likes to compare himself to Denzel Washington, although he once got compared to Arthur Ashe by a childhood friend of mine who didn’t have a lot of exposure to minorities. This is actually not a bad comparison.


Wednesday, 10/29: stop reading Jezebel if you have such a problem
October 29, 2008, 9:08 pm
Filed under: blogz

I still read Jezebel because of the non-political stuff. It has news I can use. If you will.

That having been said, here are my major issues with the blog:

  1. Thinks it is much funnier than it is.
  2. The “Good/Bad/Ugly” feature is far better done by GoFugYourself. Also, half the shit they pass off as “good” would NOT meet the criteria of GFY, and for good reason: it is fugly. (Note to Oregon: I owe you forever for this blog.)
  3. BLATANTLY HYPOCRITICAL and, often, mean-spirited as well. Case in point: this story about young McCain supporters. Given the number of pro-sexual freedom stories that run on this blog, it’s astounding to see that they would mention a stereotype that counters this attitude so blatantly, and in such a nasty, back-handed way. Obviously, women dumb enough to be conservative don’t deserve the respect that their more enlightened liberal counterparts demand. Right? I have so many problems with this I almost don’t know where to start. And what I found even more disturbing was the following comment, left in response to the article:

Young Republican women scare me. Because I’m already tired of fighting, and it looks like it’s never going to end.

It is, in fact, too bad that we don’t all adhere to the right ideology. If only there were some way we could purge dissent…OH WAIT already been tried. Scratch that.

To be fair, there are almost 200 comments on that post alone, a number of which express much the same idea I do (i.e. people are allowed to disagree, that was not appropriate). I do acknowledge that their editors, as harpy* as they can be, are willing to allow a bit of debate. I just don’t want to hear anymore about how they can’t deal with people who are intolerant.

*I wish there were an equivalent male word. I’m trying to think of male mythological figures…DAMNIT PATRIARCHICAL MYTHOLOGY TELLERS.

Wednesday, 9/10: conspiracies against IGR and other musings
September 11, 2008, 4:11 am
Filed under: blogz, IGR made

Okay, Jezebel, now you’re just trying to make me look bad.

Today I devoted an entire day to my trip to the post office. I suppose this is what unemployment does to one’s psyche. In complete fairness to me, I also unpacked the ceramics I had made and had shipped from Korea (half broken, an utterly draining experience), watched Project Runway, stopped at Ingles, and daydreamed about opening my own Etsy store. Maybe I should have set the manufacturing of inventory for such a venture as a goal when I originally came home from Korea. Instead, I decided to learn statistics and practice my French, and look where THAT got me. Not France, that’s for sure, and not a number factory, either.

In case you were wondering how I’ve spent six or seven hours of the past month, however, please note the gallery below, featuring letters to my students that I mailed today. All of these letters are in response to gifts or notes they gave me as goodbye gifts. What originally happened was that I got ONE letter and ONE gift, very early on, and I gave that girl a postcard I had made that I happened to have on hand. Maybe I’ve explained this already. Anyway, I ended up receiving approximately five million letters, which was great, don’t get me wrong, but – at least as far as the girls were concerned – they all had to receive responses that reflected equal effort, lest I be harangued with cries of “TEACHER YEON JI’S LETTER MORE BEAUTIFUL WHY?” The boys were okay with stationery. The boys also wrote me far fewer missives. At any rate, I finished a good deal of my responses before I left to come home, but there were still enough to do that it’s taken me until…today to finish them. (Note: the one with the “chai” symbol is obviously not intended for my students. That one is a bat mitzvah card I made as a favor to my parents.)

Tuesday, 9/9: okay, Jezebel, I forgive you a little
September 10, 2008, 3:47 am
Filed under: blogz

Not that you care.

The More Women Are In Charge, The Less People Hate The Idea Of Women In Charge (via Jezebel)

Monday, 9/8: I kind of hate Jezebel, and I’m tired of talking about this
September 9, 2008, 4:59 am
Filed under: blogz, politics

More from Jezebel on whether or not Sarah Palin is a feminist. I like Jezebel because I like getting information on fashion and sex and celebrities “without airbrushing,” as they claim, but I do find it rather irritating that a community of women who are supposedly such free thinkers are so intolerant regarding dissent. The number of comments dismissing Palin as a “hand puppet” of the GOP – ergo, being unaware of her own “best interests” as determined by the liberal crowd – is truly staggering, although far from surprising. A few days ago there was a post on Bristol Palin with some woman telling “these people” not to “breed,” to which one (minority) commenter responded, “So liberals are the only ones allowed to have babies?” Or something to that effect.

I’m pretty bored with this topic, so I promise this will be the last one, but I will say that watching these people scrabble and squabble gives me the same feeling I have when I argue with my father about his watching of FoxNews, which is to say: if you were totally convinced about being right, you wouldn’t need to shut out dissent. (And just for the record, please allow me to straighten out one inaccuracy cited frequently by the commenters on this article: aside from all the moral hysteria regarding pro-choicers and pro-lifers, Roe v. Wade is a case about PRIVACY. Overturning it will NOT automatically take away a woman’s right to choose; rather, it will simply allow each state to decide for itself – although that could in turn make abortions illegal, it’s true. Whether or not such a setup is constitutional depends on your reading of that hallowed document, and one I will not weigh in on here, but arguments are greatly strengthened when their accuracy is enhanced.)

Monday, 9/8: in which IGR tries to determine her evil superpower
September 9, 2008, 4:22 am
Filed under: blogz, books, IGR Recommends, music, poetry

It took being housebound for me to finally start using Google Reader. Despite all the junk food I consume off the internets, I never set up any sort of blog browsing tool, in part because half the blogs I read actually belong to other people I know who don’t know that I read their blog. You heard it here first: IGR is a blog creeper. (Oh, you probably are too.) I suppose that by failing to actually organize these blogs, I allowed myself to deny that I wasted so much time on such things.

Today, however, I have been more or less unable to leave the house. As it turns out, your trusty reporter is more allergic than not to a fairly large class of antibiotics, a fact unknown until, oh, yesterday. When I woke up Sunday morning I mostly looked spotty, but today I resemble a villain in a community-theater production of Batman. Rather than subject others to the sight of me glaring at my arms and willing them to stop itching, I finally learned to stop worrying and love the blogroll. Actually, it seems to save me time, since I’m not constantly trying to remember what I want to read and when I last read it.

All of which leads me to my new favorite blog, This Recording. Note the juxtapositions of verse and baseball! Note the fact that they reminded me that I really wanted to download Cloud Cult (which I inexplicably keep typing as “Cloud Clut”)! Note the breadth of the coverage and the carefully chosen mp3s that go along with each entry! There’s a variety of topics presented here on a regular basis, all interesting and entertaining. A winner.

One last thing: I am still ostensibly on South Beach (ha), but yesterday I received The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook as a gift from Miguk Apa on a trip to the bookstore. (I was also the recipient of a very nice external hard drive. It was a good thing I wasn’t too inflamed to leave the house.) So excited. The cheese bacon grits alone look like they’re worth the price of the book. I wonder if I should even pretend like I’m ever going to diet again.


Mary Oliver

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them —

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided —
and that one wears an orange blight —
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away —
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

Thursday, 9/4: more fun facts
September 5, 2008, 5:11 am
Filed under: blogz, fashion, IGR Recommends, media, politics

More from your favorite pundit.* I’m writing this from an almost totally clean room, a feeling so refreshing as to be almost foreign. All thanks to the preponderance of medical school students who will descend on our house Saturday for the party, thrown by their teacher and my father, that ranks in legend as one of the parties of the year. (No, really.) I am currently taking suggestions for a party playlist. In the meantime, some recommendations.

1. Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. I know, a big brouhaha was made over it a couple of years ago. I wanted to read it then, but as previously discussed, I’m a big fan of being behind the times when it comes to pop culture. At any rate, this book has prevented me from being productive for the past three days. Her documentation – and refusal to pass judgment or offer excuses – is incredible, although you may need some sort of cheat sheet to keep up with all the men and children who pass in and out of the two main women’s lives.

2. Leanne on Project Runway. a) Adorable (with a sense of humor!) and b) actually reminds me of some of my friends. And c) I generally like her clothes and her aesthetic a lot. But I’m sad to see Stella Zotis and her phone calls to her boo Ratbones go. Who isn’t, really.

I like Kenley’s personal style, in general, and I like most of her pieces, but I think Project Rungay hits the mark when they describe her as “the kind of girl that other girls hate on sight.” She reminds me of a girl I knew from My College. I think it’s the laugh. Although, you know, I’ve been That Girl before too, so I’m willing to give her a little slack. Just a little. Also, did Blayne REALLY think that Mary-Kate Olsen was a fashion icon? I am hardly well versed in the language of couture, but I know when the line between high-fashion and homeless has been crossed.

3. Making your own freezer jam. Who knew preserving was so simple? Maybe I’d make a good pioneer after all.

4. Tulle has made three of my favorite coats, all of which were under $100 and all of which are adorable, colorful, and well-made. Browsing the site, it appears that they have a lot of nice stuff that is also affordable, but it is in the outerwear arena where they really appear to shine. I love the Mary Tyler Moore aesthetic that a lot of them have going on, especially my new corduroy roll-neck jacket:

what a snuggly jacket

what a snuggly jacket

I like the fact that it also evokes Paddington Bear, although I’m not sure what that says about me.

5. Fortune Magazine investigates the gender gap in pay and finds that, apparently, there are a lot of factors besides gender that influence this gap. I sort of disagree with Cait Murphy in her “let them be social workers” analysis, but for different reasons than those her opponents mention – I don’t know that we should offer higher pay for these industries simply because they’re not being paid the same (because equivalency is far more complex to determine than such a blanket statement would suggest), but more because increasing pay would, in many instances, increase the prestige (and thus the talent pool) of different careers and would work to alleviate the sort of burnout that characterizes, for example, the teaching profession. Nonetheless, I was unaware of this study, and I find the results indicative of a whole host of other issues that also require discussion and address. Have there been any studies done that counter this? Thoughts?

6. What I like most about The American Scene, to be totally honest, is its reasonable tone. Hysterics aren’t foreign to either side of the political spectrum, obviously, but in all the Obama frenzy a lot of conservative talking heads seem to be almost more unable to keep a note of bitterness out of their analyses. These guys are conservative, make no mistake – more so than I am, at least in the two days I’ve been reading their blog – but they’re not party zealots, and regardless of affiliation, their writing is engaging and offers clear, thoughtful analysis of their positions. Also, apparently Reihan Salam is only 28, which makes me feel totally worthless and like I have done nothing with my life.

7. I am published for the first time in several months. I am also working on a piece re: Obama supporters in the 1st District of Tennessee; they’re an admirable bunch, given that this is one of the most densely Republican districts in the nation. Although, frankly speaking, the Tri-Cities being heavily Republican is not much of an endorsement for the GOP.

8. Francis Fukuyama, end-of-history theorist and neo-con-turned-Obama-supporter, has a magazine. I am intrigued. I am also considering appropriating the name Francis Fukuyama for a future child or pet.


*Thanks for the nickname, Grey Munford.