metrotextual-may 2015

i feel like there’s a point in all of my attempted records where things get a bit murky, and i have hit that point here. my may 2015 file is full of books dated with different months, so i think this means that i didn’t record the exact date that i read them, but i recorded the dates that i blogged them, when i was still doing that. my apologies to kathryn kiutenbrouwer for the interview i never wrote up from our talk about all of the broken things, i don’t think i was actually ready to confront my feelings about talking to you about the book you wrote about vietnamese-canadian identity.

the books:

1) All of the Broken Things-Kathryn Kiutenbrouwer
2) Exposing Myself-Geraldo Rivera
3) From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant-Alex Gilvarry
4) Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy-Darryl Pinckney
5) After Artest-The NBA and the Assault on Blackness-David J. Leonard

these were all very big books, literally and literally. one of them prompted me to contact a former canadian talk show host to ask if he’s ever interviewed geraldo (he had not). one of these i got from the philly free library podcast, my longtime fave.

here are some quotes:

“The effort to exclude under-20 ballers from the NBA, while also motivated by owners not wanting to pay first-round dollars to players who might take years to develop and college programs wanting to profit from the unpaid labor of America’s top ballers, reflects a desire to push America’s best players into attending college so they can join the league having been already ‘seasoned’ and ‘domesticated’.” (102)

“Barbara used to tell me that people like us would always carry the double-edged sword of celebrity: greater access to sources, but resentment from rivals and colleagues. Don’t let it affect your work, she counselled. On some stories, especially in remote places, we will often cause a bigger fuss than the story itself. Don’t worry about it. Just concentrate on doing better than anyone else.” (307)

“There were more rats running around the emergency room than hospital staff. The place would have been a scandal in Addis Ababa, or Bombay, but it was quietly tolerated in the urban wasteland of the South Bronx.” (72)

“What is it that they say? Home is where you hang yourself.” (5)

“Obama’s reelection stimulated concern in some quarters about the price black Americans were paying for a black president.” (39)

“We rented a boat, and I rowed us to a remote corner of the reservoir. The sun baked down hot. I took off my shirt, and we embraced. Right there, the estranged first lady of Canada leant new meaning to the term head of state.” (333)

“It was the shame Teacher conveyed, by trying to fix things. He wanted to shout that these things were just broken. He wanted her to understand about the pride of broken things.” (161)

“And you won’t hear any of us called prisoners either. That’s forbidden too. We are detainees. It is all very clever on their part. Because we are not called prisoners, they don’t have to charge us with a crime.” (206)

five words: politricks, notoriety, truth, advice, reality

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metrotextual-may 2016

the books:

1) The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears-Dinaw Mengetsu-may 6
2) The Punch-John Feinstein-may 11
3) One Last Thing Before I Go-Jonathan Tropper-may 13
4) Eleven Rings-Phil Jackson with Hugh Delehanty -may 17th
5) Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Ex*-Heather Belle, Michelle Fiordaliso-may 19
6) Super Sad True Love Story-Gary Shteyngart-may 30

huh. deep in the playoffs for the first time, it doesn’t surprise me that it was mostly fiction and basketball, with a touch of trust issues.

the quotes:

“It wasn’t a kiss so much as it was a gentle press, or an extended graze of lips, full of a sudden, almost crushing tenderness.” (59)

“Players and coaches were far more accessible to the media. To begin with, there were far fewer media outlets. ESPN was still two years from its launch, and USA Today was six years away from publishing for the first time. None of the twenty-four-hour news services that now glut the airwaves existed. Writers often traveled on the same flights as the players. Their lifestyles weren’t all that different. The difference in salaries between most players and most writers wasn’t that great. Often they ate and drank together.” (36)

“He loves her as much as any man can love a woman he’s never spoken to, which is significantly more than you’d think.” (12)

“One thing I’ve learned as a coach is that you can’t force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.” (13)

“And beneath the chaos of the moment, Denise becomes aware of a painful truth about herself: she is never as deeply in love with a man as she is in the moment he leaves her.” (211)

“To earn that kind of trust and affection from a child is to find out that you may have just been a better person than you believed all along.” (108)

“What impressed me most about Scottie, however, was his development over time as a leader-not by mimicking Michael but by teaching his teammates how to play within the system and always offering a compassionate ear when they ran into trouble. This was critical because Michael wasn’t very accessible and many of the players were intimidated by his presence. Scottie was someone they could talk to, someone who would keep an eye out for them on court. As Steve Kerr says, ‘Scottie was the nurturer, Michael was the enforcer.’” (74)

“While the desire to please caregivers is natural, it can become confusing if too much was expected from you as a child…..If responsibilities were foisted upon you too early, you may have come to believe that your greatest worth comes from denying yourself and offering up acts of service instead.” (102)

“I was only sixteen at the time. I didn’t believe in consequences yet.” (126)

“I felt both jealous of their youth and scared for their future. In short, I felt paternal and aroused, which is not a good combination.” (206)

in five words: experience, relationships, revelations, imaginary, intimidation.

metrotextual-may 2017

here are the books i read this month a year ago:

1) milk and honey-rupi kaur-may 3
2) I Have the Right to Destroy Myself-Young-Ha Kim-may 5
3) Listening to Grasshoppers-Arundhati Roy-may 10
4) Things that Can and Cannot Be Said-Arundhati Roy and John Cusack-may 11
5) Long Shot-Craig Hodges with Rory Fanning-may 14th
6) The Art of a Beautiful Game-Chris Ballard-may 16
7) Hungry Heart-Jennifer Weiner-may 22
8) Do I Have to Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?-Jordan and Margaret Paul, Ph.D.-may 25
9) The Name Therapist-Duana Taha-may 27

some pull quotes:

“We all want freedom and we all want intimacy-at the same time.” (19)

“Failure to understand a player’s psyche is a flaw Ravin sees in the disciplinarian style of some coaches. Rather than empowering a player, they strip him of his authority.” (158)

“…being a good writer and a good reporter are far from the same thing. A writer can be invisible, but a reporter has to be both present and persistent, showing up with a notebook or asking questions over the phone.” (130)

“In a lot of ways, I relied on my education to maintain my edge with Jordan. I knew he didn’t know shit about Black history. No matter how much people praised Jordan, no matter how many awards he won, no matter how much money he had, he didn’t have the thing I held most dear: an education in the struggle of our people. This gave me confidence on the court and in the locker room with him.” (99)

“The trend of skipping grades stopped once educators realized that they were creating a generation of social cripples.” (25)

“R.Kelly went on to do great and horrible things. Carlita and I were both proud to say we played a part in his musical success. The fact that he cheated with my wife , in my house, after all I did for him, still haunts me from time to time.” (83-4)

“Can you really bomb feminism into a country?” (22)

“Most people take their first date to a movie, but not me; I take my first dates to hear the minister Louis Farrakhan speak.” (63)

“History is really a study of the future, not the past.” (23)

“It’s easy to have sex when you can’t really communicate.” (66)

“People who don’t know how to summarize have no dignity.” (6)

wow. so i guess we don’t really ever change who we are. (as we shouldn’t). thanks to these writers/ballers for their work.

this metrotextual month (closing tabs)-mays

“you lack discipline. it’s the paralysis of capacity.”

there’s a stunning honestly that comes from someone who loves you, and is mad that you can’t love them back in the way that they want you to. (sigh). i suppose we are complicated beings, ever waddling between seeking attention/affection and control over how that shows up.

so, i accept this and am attempting to do something(s).

here are the books that i read this month:

1) Her Body and Other Parties-Carmen Maria Machado May 2nd
2) The Hate You Give-Angie Thomas-May 6th
3) Sex Object-Jessica Valenti-May 7th
4) The Clasp-Sloane Crosley-May 15th
5) Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You-Lisa Leslie-May 17th
6) New People-Danzy Senna-May 20th
7) Halfrocentric-Jewels Smith-May 21
8) Beautiful You-Chuck Palahniuk-May 23
9) We Gon’ Be Alright-Jeff Chang-May 30

here are some pull quotes from the above:

“If a coach is not strong, consistent, and in control, the team will eventually fall apart.” (100)

“The best sex she ever had was with a white guy she despised and fantasized about bludgeoning to death with an African statuette.” (185)

“Victimhood doesn’t need to be an identity, but it is a product of facts.” (12)

“Hers is a war cry. She must have learned it at that Beijing orphanage. The survivors cry the loudest.” (223)

“You are entitled to us but we’re not even allowed to call you what you are.” (135)

“I am always surprised at the poetry with which boys can describe boning.” (129)

“She has decided all university campuses are alike-the sense of possibility and stasis. She thinks this too: all graduate students, if you look closely enough, exude the same aura of privilege and poverty.” (5)

thank you to these authors for their brilliance. five adjectives to describe where my mind was at this month? go:

coach wooden and me-kareem abdul-jabbar

“you like brazilian music?”

ok so, was this commonly known? i’ve read a concentration of kareem abdul-jabbar‘s books lately, and this is the first one of the bunch that he hasn’t written with a cowriter. i suppose that makes sense, as it is the most personal. the inside jackets are proof of how prolific he’s been (lately, and ever), i feel like this one must have been released within months of writings on the wall. i learn something every time that i read one of his books, and this time, the most surprising thing was when he just tries to casually drop the detail “i had just started training with bruce lee“. the most basic google search yielded this fascinating (and at times homoerotic) clip with a curious soundtrack that i won’t ever be able to unsee.

long relationships always make me cry because they are proof that people can and do choose to stick around and work things out. intentional ones infinitely more so for the work and hurt (and triumph) of these reasons.

***i am feeling the urge to interject my continued feeling that vince carter should retire here because the jersey pictures have already surfaced, and i don’t remember which basketball book it was that i learned that the first step to trading a player is to leak it in the press and see how people receive it, but i did read that, and the response has been great. i’m sad that it didn’t happen by the deadline, i mean, bruno for vc should’ve been a good trade? but they (cleveland and the nba) must have known that veteran leadership and all of they symbolism would’ve pushed this current team towards at least the nba finals…so….***

i am interested in coach books because i am inspired by people who do right because it’s the right thing to do (and sports in general because it is a secular form of witness/worship). respecting, influencing and teaching people is thankless work that may never pay big dividends because it requires those people to also do the work. it may come years later, and in strange ways, as kareem accounts many times in this book (and his others).

here are the highlights as i have pulled them:

“Being good is the payoff, athletically and spiritually. That’s why he didn’t care for sports movies in which the underdog team or player learns the hard way that winning isn’t everything, but then they go on to win at the end.” (8)

bad news bears. it’s also the reason that i dislike the fact that awards for individual merit often outshine team play (i will never get over russell westbrook‘s kick in the face of an MVP award).

“His players would graduate with grades that would give them career opportunities beyond sports. He was worried about our long-term happiness, not our win-loss record.” (23)

no kidding.

“Both of us spoke fluent basketball, a language free of emotion. He loved that shot and saw in it possibilities I hadn’t imagined.” (106)

(sky hook).

“There’s very little creativity in racism.” (133)

still.

“I tried to make the point that true patriotism is about acknowledging problems and, rather than running away from them, joining together to fix them.” (142)

amen.

“It was jazz as religion: everyone playing the same song, but adapting, improvising, harmonizing until we produced beautiful music together.” (217)

this was a really interesting point-no set plays, just lots of practice. i basically told some teenagers the same thing when i was working at the music school, “don’t be scurred, just be pre-purred”. i am almost certain that this is at least part of what’s been happening in san antonio all this time.

the other night, at the rather lacklustre celtics game, we honoured bill russell for black history month as he should be honoured and one of the images on the big screen was obama awarding him with the same award that he awarded kareem with to start this book, the same one that bush (jr) awarded to coach wooden and i got to thinking about whom, if anyone, this sitting guy will honour, since he doesn’t seem to have much regard for or interest in history or the future, and my i am truly sad that he doesn’t know the power of reading.

regretting motherhood-orna donath

“By asserting the coexistence of love and regret, these mothers refuse to be sorted into categories in a way that would force them to leave behind pieces of their emotions and themselves.” (114)

“you’re wrong, asshole, i am the mothering type”

a cunt once called me “motherless”. if you’re reading this, hi cunt!

ok, that was petty. and i don’t just go around calling women cunts (all the time). i had a long and unhealthy relationship with this one that no doubt was informed by both of our relationships with our mothers, and i think it’s just funny that she charged me with this, a fact that is beyond my control. i mean, call me annoying, call me uncouth but motherless? what the fuck is that? i mean, maybe my mom was like many women who regretted being a mother and she did something about it. maybe her mother was exactly the same but instead of bouncing, she stayed and made her and her sisters’ lives miserable as a result. who’s to say who was right or wrong, i actually don’t believe there is such a thing possible, as the subject position is so personal, fluctuating to the second even. the final point from the whole breakup is that she objected to my use of “cunt”, charging me with being unfeminist, but proceeded to call me a bitch over three platforms. oh, women. we’re so complicated. but as we move through this life and these same situations that our mothers probably once found themselves in, we can only benefit from considering things from each others’ perspectives, so, my dearest cuntiest one-time friend-i meant it with affection (even though i was mad as hell) and i still do (although i have zero interest in engaging with you further) and i wish you all the best with everything, whether you have children or not.

i’m not sure how this book came to me, but i think it was through surfing the contributor’s notes of nasty women. i was recently directed to the podcast via inflection point, and relieved to see that there were only ten episodes.

i’m glad that there is a growing narrative of choice, and here’s hoping that it is tinged less and less with the consequences of the patriarchy as we go forward. i applaud these women for being brave enough to speak up, and hold space for the personal and political risk that they underwent to do so, for all of us.

it’s like you can’t spell “mother” without “martyr”, and definitely not if you call your vigilante film proud mary. now, i will see taraji p. henson in anything, and i’m glad that she comes out of this one alive. perhaps it’s a hope-full story after all-she killed all of the men, the father and the son, and adopted the orphan that she made because she also killed his father. it’s semi-bechdel approved, as it centers mary as the protagonist, but every single one of her relationships is with a man, even though she kills most of them.

at least she kicks ass and i heard that anthony hamilton song in the theatre.

and it wasn’t downsizing.

save the cat! goes to the movies-blake snyder

this book is widely recognized-shoutout to su for recommending it to me. i am still reeling with gratitude for the opportunity to write a script for a dream project that is being realized, and it’s really great that i finished it. i love new forms of writing, and i’m certain that the weekly workshopping that came with writing in the city was the perfect concurrent meeting to sustain the gusto to do it. i can’t wait for the notes and next steps, and to announce more about the show as more details become available to announce.

(i’m so blessed to have such talented and hilarious friends).

i appreciate the structural guidance of the book, as well as the breakdown to a lot of impact-full films (i did put the original on library hold as well, to see how this applies to scriptwriting scriptwriting), but the one point that i am holding on to and still thinking of is this:

the evil (or terror) of the ring and the exorcist is working mothers.

mind blown*

but it’s true-when you decide to go back to work and let tv be your babysitter, you sacrifice your child. also, i’m not sure the exact storyline of the exorcist (increasingly, i’m wondering if i remember any movie that i’ve ever seen-i recently forgot the porn addiction part of love, sex and eating the bones) (but then yesterday, i also forgot that i had to dial the area code before the number and wondering why i couldn’t get through to beck taxi because i have that number memorized) i’m sure there’s a completely sensible reason on why you should never outsource childcare or seek to work outside of the home because your daughter will definitely be possessed.

this book brought be back to the truth that i took out of film studies, which is that films are a reflection of the world as it was at the moment of filming, as well as a projection of the reality of the ideal world as it was at the moment of filming. i am saddened to know that we’re back in the swing of the pendulum where our lives and choices as women are still under such scrutiny.

i am also questioning my automatic aversion to scary movies-maybe if i see them through the lens of “what imagined societal evil is this trying to combat?”, i might not be so scared.

but it is fitting that the movie that set this precedent in my brain when i was in university was the ring, a movie that scared me so much that i didn’t sleep for four days and called a sleepover with friends on either side of me to self-medicate-perhaps i truly got it after all. because the patriarchy is fucking scary.

and so, we work.