Week Links [5 July]

Good morning! I’ve made an extremely controversial decision and started writing the date the British way, because (I capitulate) it makes more sense and is more aesthetically pleasing. This, from the same woman who changed her iPhone to 24-hour time in England and was perpetually confused for 3 weeks. Don’t worry, I’m not conceding in the aluminum vs. aluminium debate. Also, what a fuck-you thing to do on “Independence Day” weekend, innit?

Anyway, it’s been a big week for culture, so let’s get to it:

oh the cleverness of you — Adele Dazeem™ at the 92nd Academy ...

    1. The most important thing that has ever happened in my entire life happened this week, and it’s the TRILOGY of Las Culturistas “Top 200 Moments in Culture History.” It has moved me. It has shaped me. I laughed, I cried, I screamed, I gasped.
    2. Miel’s album is coming out on 22 July and we simply have to stan! Her new single, “Must Be Fine” is avail to stream on Spotify right now!
    3. The last thing I need is an excuse to drink, but I love a lemon drop.
    4. I finally got the crossbody of my dreams for a ridiculous price. Call me basic all you want, but it’s a classic MJ shape. One day I will have the finances to justify a full-price, current season, actual Marc Jacobs bag, but today is not that day. Okay okay okay, maybe I also got this one too, but literally how could I not at that price??
    5. I got this moisturizer in my Causebox and I really like it. It’s super lightweight, smells great, and has SPF 30. I also got this serum, which I haven’t tried yet, but apparently I’m supposed to be using hyaluronic acid all the time now? All of my products seem to have it. I guess 28 is old in skincare years.
    6. Currently binge-eating these lentil chips, and concerned about the subscription option…quitting wheat (based on my Everlywell results) has been a journey!
    7. Please don’t judge me for the particular retailer, but I may have gotten this case set for my new MacBook, and this ergonomic mousepad set for my work computer. Between the computer, my phone case, and my ribcage tattoo, I am way, way too on brand. Perhaps next is just blowing this print up and hanging it in my office?
    8. Love these earrings from TalkUniqueDesigns on Etsy.
    9. I read The Cactus by Sarah Haywood this week and in spite of myself, really liked it. The Eleanor Oliphant comparison is apt; they both have wildly unlikable protagonists. Like, truly, awful people you’d never want to be around. I will say, I think Susan’s about-face is a tad abrupt (I know motherhood is a moment, but like, probably try therapy instead of having a baby).
    10. We finally set up our AppleTV (and by we, I mean my husband bought it off a friend over a year ago and it sat unused in his office, until I got frustrated attempting to screen mirror with our TV on Friday and set it up), so we will be using that to watch Hamilton on Disney+ (which we have a year free trial of through our mobile provider).
    11. Speaking of D+, anyone else just counting down the minutes until Black Is King?
    12. Save Stereogum.

au revoir, les enfants

-c

Week Links [6.28.20 or so]

Good day, sunshines! This is only…three days late. That’s fine! And I’ve changed the name of this again because I can’t commit to anything! How I didn’t think of this extremely basic pun in the past 5 years is beyond me. And on that note, I’ve been writing this blog for five years. My how time flies when the world is falling apart.

You Need To Be Watching 'The Bold Type' | The Nerd Daily
image source
  1. I started bingeing The Bold Type recently and *very Joan Jett voice* I hate myself for loving it!!
  2. Just discovered this ethical jewelry brand out of Portland. So affordable and stylish! I love these for my 2nd piercing and these are incredible. I’m also just a big ol’ sucker for a hammered hoop! Also, this might sound crazy but I think I’m going to become an anklet person?? I just got this one and I love it.
  3. I almost bought these Pride Pumas because I’m predictable.
  4. Ziwe Fumudoh has been doing the most iconic Instagram lives and watching the reposts is one of my singular sources of joy in this terrible world!
  5. I’ve long wanted to become a headband person, but I have impossible hair and wear glasses, so things about the ears can be a bit tricky. This Madewell scarf/band is a DREAM. It actually stays in place and is so, so cute.
  6. This TED Talk was assigned for my Library Science course, and man do I love me some Adichie.
  7. Ronny Chieng’s special Asian Comedian Destroys America! is incredible start-to-finish.
  8. This brand sells bra bundles that are super affordable, but I’m so skeptical that a comfortable strapless bra can exist! At least not with my difficult boobs.
  9. My faves at Girlfriend just dropped the Summer Orchard line, so I got myself a full Lemon set: Paloma Bra, Skort, and High-Rise Bike Short.
  10. Cynthia Nixon posted this to Instagram and…I didn’t think it was possible to love her more.
  11. Psst…have you read my friend Rachel’s writing? She writes about TV so much more intelligently than I do, it’s a treat.

In case you didn’t know, I have an Instagram account for this blog, @dellabitesblog. I wrote a little something about the five-year anniversary of this blog there. You can also following me personally on all socials @highwaytochel / IG.

Sunday Scaries: Father’s Day, I Guess?

Morning! From the title, it may seem like I’m ambivalent about my father (hardly the case), but I am deeply ambivalent about “Hallmark holidays,” because I am a joyless person. Mother’s/Father’s Day just feels like a marketing scheme for bougie brunch places, my favorite of all the places that I’d prefer not be clogged with toddlers while I’m trying to enjoy my mimosa. See? Joyless! And now I’ve made myself crave a mimosa, though I have neither orange juice nor sparkling wine. Chardonnay and lemonade? Y/N? (I’m writing this on Saturday morning, so it’s not out of the question that I may nip off to the store.)

Speaking of the store, I still haven’t returned to grocery shopping, but I plan to resume in the very near future. I have gone to Target briefly a couple of times. I hate wearing the mask—it gives me so much anxiety and for some reason, I clench my jaw really tightly underneath. Is that a thing? But obviously, as I’m not a MORON WHO DOESN’T CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE, I rock a mask 100% of the time I’m out in public. Which brings me to my next gripe:

People BE going to restaurants with outdoor seating and not wearing masks! What the actual hell? I have been isolated in my house for 100 days! Do you know how emotionally difficult that is for someone with depression? I’m simultaneously living my best and worst lives, missing my friends and family, for what? So that a few absolute knobs can cause a spike in infections that keeps us home until I’m in my mid-thirties? Absolutely not! I haven’t been able to get my teeth cleaned or my glasses prescription updated, but you can have fried clams overlooking the beach? Please eject yourselves into the sea.

Have I complained sufficiently? Haha, it feels good to be back on this, my public private place to talk to myself.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 12.55.34 PM
source: printsandgiggles on etsy
  1. This piece about self-love by Aisha Mirza is really moving.
  2. Eric Andre’s new special drops Tuesday and I couldn’t be more excited. If you want a teaser, check him out on Good One: A Podcast About Jokes.
  3. This leather goods shop on Etsy is magical. Please give me one of everything, and please do not lecture me about the ethics of leather.
  4. I might actually die without a pair of hammered hoops from The Pink Locket!
  5. I found SPF 110, baby! I didn’t even know they made SPF higher than 100, but I was rewarded for my diligence! The sun can actually try to burn me! I’m using this face sunscreen, this body sunscreen, and this SPF 50 daily moisturizer.
  6. Speaking of my delicate skin, unable as it is to produce melanin, I have given myself over to the gods of Curology. A friend recommended it to me, as my prior attempts at skincare consisted of occasionally using an oil cleanser and forgetting to take my eye makeup off at night. It’s only been three days, so I’m not seeing a visible difference, but my skin feels really soft and I’ve actually started to maintain a nightly skincare ritual, which is a small miracle.
  7. Speaking of custom products designed specifically for me, I also caved and ordered Prose. I heat process my hair twice a week (or so) to varying degrees, I dye it, and my hair is naturally very curly and dry, so I’m giving actually taking care of it a go. I went all in and ordered the oil too, because why not? I truly can’t believe it took until I started going gray for me to actually give a shit about taking care of my hair, but there’s no sense in dwelling on the past.
  8. I have tentatively begun home workouts. I have a legitimate phobia of exercise or movement generally (I legitimately talk about this in therapy, it’s a long story). I have sobbed in gym parking lots, unable to walk in. I successfully completed this video without having a panic attack, so I’m going to see what else Miss Adriene has to offer. I’d really like to check out some body-positive yogis, so plz lemme know whomst to Google. I’m not averse to a paywall!
  9. Gonna have to purchase that one.
  10. Even though it’s 14,000 degrees out, I was in the mood for a really big Cab the other day, so I tried out Bread & Butter‘s. When I drink reds, I tend to like them less bold, like Pinot Noirs, but I began my wine journey as a Cab girl and I’ve gotta honor my roots! Also, we’re chilling our red wines, right? The hill I will die on is that we all drink whites too cold and reds way too warm.
  11. We finally bought *actually good* Bluetooth speakers and it has been a game changer. We got this one for me (super portable!) and this one for our house. In addition to awesome sound quality, they’re such fun pops of color against our mostly black-and-white decor. And big bonus, they have a “party mode,” so you can play music from both of them at the same time. Surround-sound!
  12. I’ve been on something of a health journey lately; without going into too much detail, I’m trying to be more mindful about food and making sure I’m actually nourished. I customized a May Designs notebook to keep track of my meals, water intake, and, yes, exercise. It’s super cute, and I feel like it will be something I keep reordering.
  13. And of course, last but not least, a tribute to all the dads out there.

Sunday Scaries [4.5.20]

Good morning, or afternoon, or whatever because time is meaningless in quarantine! I’ve now organized my home so thoroughly that I have run out of things to organize…onto purging. Overall, though, I seem to have mellowed this week. I’m leaning into stay-at-home life and continuing to be grateful that we have employment, stable shelter, and have not run out of toilet paper. Stay safe and well, my friends.

  1. The Cut did the Lord’s work. And speaking of The Cut, this article crushed me.
  2. I would never spend $350 on a handbag…haha…jk…unless?
  3. Devastated to hear about all the media layoffs happening right now. If you’re not familiar with Brandy Jensen’s work, get to know her.
  4. I started Little Fires Everywhere. Apart from Kerry Washington making some…choices, I really like it. I loved the book.
  5. Speaking of books, I’m reading Where the Crawdads Sing and can’t put it down. I’m a sap.
  6. This recipe is absolutely outstanding!
  7. Although, I mean, Chelseas can change out all the knobs on her bedroom furniture as a treat, right? How cute would these be for a kid’s room?
  8. I don’t really know much about Dua Lipa but we stan an alto who sticks to her strengths. I’ll have to give her new album a listen.
  9. Quarantine has cracked me. I re-upped the wine subscription. A month ago I had literally quit drinking, but alas…
  10. Rest in Peace, Adam Schlesinger. If you don’t know his name, you know his work. He was younger than my dad. COVID-19 is no fucking joke.
  11. And finally, today is the 26th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, and on this day, and every day, we celebrate the man, the myth, the legend.
Record store finds royalty check to Kurt Cobain from more than 25 ...
source

Until next time,

c

Shout Out Sunday 2.16.20

Good morning, friends! I’ve been on staycation for the past week, and I have to say: time off is extremely good for mental health! On Friday, I took a tour of the Rhode Island State House. Random, but it was super fun! Doris, the tour guide, was an absolute treat!

It’s been so nice to relax and reset before I start my new job. I feel like an entirely new person. And with the renewed energy of a calm and centered woman, here’s this week’s list!

  1. Breaking news: Daniel M. Lavery‘s essay collection, Something That May Shock and Discredit You, is officially out! I pre-ordered because I’m a full stan. I made an Instagram story about it when I received it and DANNY FUCKING DM’D ME. I have photographic evidence!
  2. I am sobbing re: Wes Anderson’s new film, The French Dispatch. July can’t come soon enough.
  3. There’s a High Fidelity reboot series starring Zoë Kravitz on Hulu and I cannot wait to binge the shit out of it.
  4. This article is…so relatable.
  5. Started watching the Australian Netflix series, Sisters. I’m loving it so far—the premise is dark, but the show is so vibrant!
  6. I am obsessed with Universal Standard, and I truly wish I were a millionaire so I could bedeck myself in all of their wares.
  7. Should I get an Instant Pot? I already have so, so many kitchen appliances but people seem to love them! A huge consideration, of course, is that it comes in this color. Extremely into the idea of making my own yogurt!
  8. As you know, I’m a full-on ho for podcast endorsements, so I’m looking forward to checking out Thrive Causemetics! I actually have one of their products already (I got it in a subscription box) and I love it!
  9. I never wear sneakers but I have the soul of a sneakerhead. I keep getting targeted ads for Nothing New, and I truly wonder how long it will take me to break.
  10. Against my better judgment, I’m absolutely buying this dish set. It’s finally time to donate the Ikea set that I’ve been rocking for 6 years and get some grown-up dishes. They’re not microwave-safe so it’s all the more reason to ditch that appliance!
i told you i had proof

C U Next…Week?

-c

The Horrible, the Miserable, and the Difficult: Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and Contemporary Jewish Humor

What can I say? A year has passed, and I’m nostalgic for school. This was my final grad school paper, the first one a professor said I should revise and submit for publication. Validate me, oh tiny audience! Oh, and another one of my papers actually did get published. You can read it here.

***

The Horrible, the Miserable, and the Difficult: Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and Contemporary Jewish Humor

I know—a Jew in comedy. How will I ever defy the odds and make it?

—Billy Epstein (“Devil’s Three-Way” 00:04:04-7)

Julie and Billy, two angry native New Yorkers, rush through crowded streets of Manhattan on their way to see a matinee of Annie on Broadway, spitting barbs at clueless tourists along the way. When they arrive, they are horrified to discover that the role of Annie will be played by an understudy. As Julie tells the young girl sitting in front of her, “An understudy is like a fancy word for ‘disappointment’” (“Library Water” 00:03:09). Just prior to this, Difficult People’s lead character, Julie Kessler, makes a crack about beloved president, FDR, also a character in the musical, letting millions of Jews die in the Holocaust (00:00:58). The shocking darkness of this statement, spoken in the doorway of a theatre, sets the tone for the entire series—every moment is suffocated with bitterness, mockery, and cultural references and somehow, it’s hilarious.

Few opening sequences more succinctly encapsulate the essence of a television show like the “Library Water” pilot episode of Difficult People; from the very first moments, the series positions itself as witty, critical, a little cruel, pop-culture obsessed, and very Jewish. Difficult People, created by comedian and writer, Julie Klausner, enjoyed a brief run of twenty-eight episodes on the streaming platform, Hulu, from 2015 to 2017. For stars Klausner and Billy Eichner, the series was the culmination of over a decade of striving for success in show business, something that the series’ main characters, Julie Kessler and Billy Epstein, do to diminishing returns. Their efforts to become famous, doomed at every turn, mirror a century of their Jewish predecessors’ striving to achieve stardom and assimilate themselves into mainstream culture through performance—from Jakie Rabinowitz becoming Jack Robin to Robert Zimmerman adopting the stage name Bob Dylan, Jews have used the entertainment industry as a conduit for their talent and stories to shine. And shine they have—particularly in the comedy and broadcast television arenas. But that rise to stardom has often come with a price tag—forsaking meaningful media representations of Jewish culture in order to appeal more broadly to mass audiences.

In the current political landscape, one eerily similar to the one depicted in anti-Semitic, turn-of-the-century satirical cartoons, one of the most resounding conservative, Fox News-esque dog whistles is that Jews control the media (would that it were so). Setting aside the founding of Hollywood and the creation of all the cool superheroes, the idea that Jews possess total control of popular culture and are subliminally encouraging goyim to, one supposes, forsake their beloved Savior, is patently absurd, at least to any person whose ability to think critically outweighs his bigotry. Jewish humor texts handle this pre-/mis-conception playfully, at once acknowledging the disproportionate presence of Jews in media—as Wisse writes, “Estimates of the proportion of Jewish professionals in U.S. comedy sometimes [run] as high as 80 percent” (No Joke 12)—and the lingering presence of anti-Semitism in the industry and beyond. The epigraph to this essay is a line spoken by character Billy at an audition for a movie role, and it’s one of the many ways that Difficult People and other Jewish-created series grapple with the imbalance in the industry and the troubling inability of many television shows to “get it right” when depicting Jews and the Jewish experience.

David Zurawik’s book, The Jews of Prime Time, provides an overview and exploration of prime time Jewish television series beginning in 1949 and extending to the early 2000s. The central question of the text is whether television portrayals of Jews can ever accurately reflect the Jewish experience. Zurawik interrogates the preponderance of Jewish producers and writers deeming certain piece of Jewish media “too Jewish” for television, a phenomenon he refers to as “surplus visibility,” or the disdain of minority groups to be exposed via media representation (6). Difficult People responds to this problematic trend in television by exalting all things Jewish (even as it mocks them). Nothing is “too Jewish” for Difficult People, unless Julie and Billy themselves deem it so (Rucchel’s frequent visits to Israel or wearing yarmulkes outside of shul, for instance). Julie and Billy are proudly Jewish, if keenly aware of Judaism’s flaws. Difficult People can exist because visibly, unabashedly Jewish predecessors like Barbra Streisand and Lenny Bruce had long before challenged the whitewashing in show business.

Sarah Blacher Cohen attributes the revival of Jewish ethnic pride in the entertainment industry in the 1950s and ‘60s with the foundation of the state of Israel and “a profound grief for the loss of their fellow Jews in the Holocaust” (8). Difficult People as discussed, certainly takes up this mantle. At one point in the series, Julie exclaims, “Nobody’s more Jewish than I am, Arthur! I mean, culturally” (“Unplugged” 00:05:32-5). The quotation, meant to be about her entrée into the Jewish media elite, could also stand as a second tagline to the series (the tagline of Difficult People is “All the Rage,” a double-entendre about the show’s cultural savviness, relevance, and the main characters’ anger at and disenchantment with the state of things). Central to Difficult People is the idea that Julie and Billy are not just difficult—they are different from everyone else. Their biting wit and cultural heritage set them apart from the world outside of show business, a world they see, rightfully so, as one where Jews can excel and be recognized for their trademark dark humor. For Julie and Billy, humor heals, even as they experience the consequences of their often cruel, targeted jokes (they get kicked off of the set of Watch What Happens Live for their tweets mocking host Andy Cohen and guest Chelsea Handler, two fellow Jews in media, in the episode “Pledge Week”).

Comedian Lenny Bruce, one of the most famous figures in discussions of Jewish stand-up comedy, had a particular obsession with differentiating between Jews and gentiles—his famous “Jewish or goyish?” monologue would be recreated in the 2017 Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The in-joke is that everything hip and “with it” is Jewish, even if it truly isn’t (jazz musicians Count Basie and Ray Charles, for instance). To be designated “Jewish” is to be of intellectual and cultural merit; to be deemed “goyish” is a slight (he refers to trailer parks as “so goyish Jews won’t go near them” [Hoberman 222]). The superiority of Jewish intellect has its roots in media as far back as the days of radio serials and remains a hallmark of contemporary Jewish comedy. Woody Allen would play this concept for a laugh in Annie Hall (Annie, a Wisconsin-born WASP who fails to match Coney Island’s own Alvy Singer intellectually, actually progresses in analysis, where Alvy’s neuroses keep him paying a psychiatrist for fifteen years); Difficult People paints Jewish intellect as an invaluable virtue. For instance, when Billy finally lands an agent, one who isn’t Jewish, his friends and show business contacts see this as a massive indictment (“The Courage of a Soldier”).

Billy and Julie’s preoccupation with success in show business, and that preoccupation’s connection to their cultural Judaism, gives Difficult People its life. In season one’s Yom Kippur episode of Difficult People, “The Courage of a Soldier,” Billy interrupts a tense family meal by shouting,

I just don’t understand when everything got so…Jewish! It’s fine, it’s just not who we were as kids. I mean, we didn’t even fast when we were kids. (00:10:00-07)

When his brother Garry reminds him that Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, Billy replies:

You know what the holiest day of the year is for me? The Golden Globes. I don’t care about the blessings. I care about the SAG Awards, and no one cares about those. Show business, Garry. That’s what I care about. (00:10:13-29)

His niece Tal, deadpan, replies, “That’s the most Jewish thing I’ve ever heard” (00:10:30). This outburst, and Tal’s earnest comment, exposes what, for Billy at least, is an unbreakable link between cultural Judaism and the entertainment industry.

Having situated Difficult People in a long lineage of Jewish contributions to show business and humor, this exploration merits a discussion of what exactly Jewish comedy is and how it appears in contemporary entertainment. Jeremy Dauber’s book, Jewish Comedy: A Serious History, takes on the task of defining Jewish humor, something critics have long struggled to exactly capture. His two primary criteria are that “Jewish humor has to be produced by Jews” (xii, emphasis in original) and that it “must have something to do with either contemporary Jewish living or historical Jewish existence” (xiii, emphasis in original). Difficult People certainly meets these two conditions, but it also contends with almost all of the “seven major conceptual rubrics” (xiv) that Dauber provides as a means of evaluating Jewish humor, from the Talmud and the Torah to Rickles and Reiner. For the purposes of this discussion, four of Dauber’s rubrics will be particularly relevant, namely that “Jewish comedy is a response to persecution and anti-Semitism,” it is “a satirical gaze at Jewish social and communal norms,” it is “bookish, witty, intellectual allusive play,” and it is “vulgar, raunchy, and body-obsessed” (xiv, emphasis in original). These threads, as well as representations of Jewish stereotypes (the schlemiel, schlimazel, and the overbearing mother) and the Jewish penchant for self-deprecating humor and liberal politics run throughout Difficult People like connective tissue. Difficult People not only gleefully participates in these tropes—its inclusivity of those that are other, even amid vitriolic streams of insults, makes a larger point. Sure, Jewish comedy must indeed be witty, dark, controversial, vulgar, and a whole slew of other adjectives that have long been used to describe it. But it must also serve the higher purpose of lovingly (or, tough-lovingly) elevating both Jewish culture and that of other marginalized communities.

“Medium-talent, Jewish bitch!” Freudian self-deprecation and switcheroo anti-Semitism

In season two opener, “Unplugged” (which guest stars the iconic Sandra Bernhard and culminates in Julie being blackballed from working in television by the Jewish media elite), Arthur walks in on Julie fixing her hair in the mirror. “Medium-talent, Jewish bitch!” she yells at her reflection. Arthur Tack, her WASP boyfriend, replies, “Stop yelling at yourself in the mirror, it confuses the dogs” (00:04:21-25). Julie clarifies that she was not talking to herself (rather, she is jealous of the success of a peer) but Arthur’s confusion makes sense; throughout the series, Julie (and her mother, Marilyn—more on that later) takes cheap shots at herself—her body (“Ever since I gained my Freshman 1,500” [“Passover Bump” 00:00:47-9]), her floundering career (“I’m tired of watching everyone around me ascend to stardom as I atrophy and wither” [“Unplugged” 00:04:44]), and her codependent relationship with her mother (she joins AA to learn coping skills for her “addiction” to her mother in “Code Change”). For Julie, there is no greater target than Julie, which widens the already vast chasm between her self-loathing and her over-inflated self-confidence in her performance ability. Self-deprecating humor, often ironic, as it springs from the mouths of successful performers, is part and parcel of Jewish humor at large. As Sarah Blacher Cohen recalls, Freud claims, “self-mockery was the most distinguishing feature of Jewish humor” (4). Several instances of self-loathing in the series are so extreme as to appear anti-Semitic—another issue with which Difficult People must contend.

Apart from the Nazi paraphernalia uncovered at the end of “Unplugged,” the season two episode “Italian Piñata” has the most explicit moments of anti-Semitism and Jewish self-loathing. Julie and Billy venture to New Jersey to escape the throngs of newly out young people on Coming Out Day, celebrated annually on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. While at the bar, they are mistaken by fellow patrons for Italians, an ethnic group commonly associated with the area. Billy goes along with it to get a date with a hot guy; Julie goes along with it because the Italian girls appreciate her vulgar sense of humor and connect with her in a way other women never had. When her New Jersey Italian friends ask the newly-dubbed “Giuliana” to exercise her trademark wit and tell them a funny story, she responds, “Uh, I could tell you a funny story about my food and weight issues” (00:15:15). When they stare back at her with disgusted bewilderment (the implication being that Italians have far healthier relationships to food), she replies, “I mean, um, where’s my fuckin’ head? My Jewish neighbor’s food and weight issues” (00:15:21-24). The women all begin to laugh hysterically at her (masked) insecurities, one shouting out, “Those fuckin’ Jews!” (00:15:30). Julie pauses briefly to consider the anti-Semitic outburst, but continues with her story. The women eat it up—one demands, “Tell us more stories about your dumb Jewish neighbor!” (00:15:48). Although this moment, on its face, is deeply offensive (and unfortunately, from the experience of this writer, eerily authentic), it bears noting that the three actors playing the Italian women are Jewish themselves—the scene is an identity-swapping farce straight out of Shakespeare. Difficult People tackles the borderline anti-Semitic self-deprecation in Jewish comedy head-on, calling attention to the absurdity of the trope by putting the insults and epithets in the mouths of Jews-playing-Italians. Without context, the statements are shocking, but given the context of the actors’ Jewish heritage, the scene winks at the audience as if to say, “We can get away with saying this, but you can’t.”

High shul dropouts: secular Judaism, difficult Israel, troublemaking dybbuks

Difficult People indeed “gets away with” a lot of racy and inappropriate material. Though Difficult People aligns itself as a Jewish text in its opening sequence, it is not long before the main characters complicate the show’s identity. Shortly into the first episode, “Library Water,” Billy and Julie have the following exchange:

BILLY. What’s more of a turn-off—veganism or Judaica?

JULIE. Oh, I don’t know. Judaica.

BILLY. Yes! Yes. If I was going out with a guy and there was a big clay mezuzah hanging outside his place, I’d be like, “Is a circumcised experience worth it?”

JULIE. Is that anti-Semitic of us or is that not possible because we’re Jewish?

BILLY. Oh, it’s possible. (00:07:36-56)

The series, which so loudly and proudly proclaims itself as Jewish, has the liberty of making critical (or, as they put it in the above scene, “anti-Semitic”) jabs at the aspects of Judaism and Jewish culture that they find problematic or inconsistent with 21st century values. Though neither Billy nor Julie identifies as atheist (the season 1 episode “Premium Membership” makes this very clear), neither attends synagogue or observes Jewish holidays out of anything other than a sense of obligation and guilt. Only a few scenes in the series take place inside a synagogue, one of which opens with the line, “I swear to God, if I go to synagogue and I don’t make a show business connection, I’m gonna fucking kill myself with a chain saw” (“Unplugged” 00:07:33-37). Billy and Julie credit their dark senses of humor and intellect, which are essential components of who they are, to their Jewish background while poking fun at the religion’s fetish for suffering. The following exchange, which, ironically, takes place inside a Christian church, sums up the show’s overall “take” on religion:

BILLY. Wait, what’s the opposite of endorphins?

JULIE. Judaism. (“Code Change” 00:00:17-20)

Rucchel Epstein, the show’s most observant Jew and Billy’s sister-in-law, is hardly a poster-girl for the religious: When a Christian couple moves into her very Jewish neighborhood, she yells from her porch, “Hey, you Christmas celebrators! Stop creepy crawling and get out of our neighborhood!” (“Code Change” 00:05:51-6) When Billy apologizes to the neighbors and asserts, “Jews, we’re the same as you!” Rucchel fires back, “No. We’ve suffered a lot more” (00:05:59-00:06:03). It’s not only Rucchel that feels compelled to belabor the historical suffering of the Jewish people. During the scene that introduces Marilyn Kessler, Julie’s mother, Marilyn pesters Julie, “Did you get that article I sent you about Palestine? Because I’m about to resend it” (“Library Water” 00:07:25). In season two, Marilyn creates a video will (with the help of Tina Fey), to ensure that none of her money or belongings accidentally get donated to a pro-Palestinian charity (“Unplugged”). Difficult People, a half-hour Hulu comedy, hardly has the resources to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the show acknowledges multiple times that this complex issue affects and is part of daily Jewish-American life. Though the show’s engagement with the touchy subject of Israel is tongue-in-cheek—“[My brother’s] wife went to Israel [for Christmas] because of course she did” (“Difficult Christmas” 00:00:40-1)—the show fulfills its responsibility to, to paraphrase Dauber, reflect contemporary and historical Jewish life (xiii).

Perhaps the most absurdist portrayal of the Jewish difference is the episode “Code Change” in which Billy’s brother Garry, played by Fred Armisen, volunteers for the Israeli army (which summarily rejects him before he makes it past the Tel Aviv airport) and then hides in his own basement for a month to avoid the shame of failure. Rucchel, Garry’s wife, disturbed by the noises she hears coming from the basement, initially suspects her new gentile neighbors of anti-Semitic harassment before determining that there is a dybbuk in her home. Because her husband is “in Israel,” Rucchel enlists Billy to help with her problem insisting that he “back me up while I scream at those goyim until they go back to Marblehead. They could have guns! Or Polo mallets” (00:05:37-44). Rucchel’s suspicion regarding her new neighbors, “the first gentiles ever to live on Feldshuh Lane” (00:05:25) is silly, but the fact that “Code Change” was written and filmed following the election of Donald Trump, a time that saw a dramatic increase in hate crimes against Jews perpetrated by members of the president-elect’s racist, anti-Semitic base of supporters, to some degree justifies Rucchel’s concern. In this way, Difficult People calls attention to the crisis of anti-Semitic hate crimes, a serious and, in the wake of the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018, deadly problem facing American Jews without sacrificing the show’s comedic spirit. In order to get Rucchel to stop screaming at the goyim, Billy inspects the basement, discovers Garry, and, in a gesture to protect his brother’s pride, convinces Rucchel that she has a Yiddish demon living downstairs. Billy and Rucchel plan an exorcism for the day Garry is set to return from Israel—unfortunately, the “creepy-crawling” gentiles choose this moment to meet their new neighbors, as Rucchel is shouting in Yiddish in a circle of Jewish men they’d conned into helping with the exorcism by catfishing them on the Jewish dating app “J-Swipe” (00:20:05). Billy repeats his “Jews, we’re the same as you” sentiment, but the scene heavily implies that Jews, in fact, are not the same as gentiles, and that the two groups’ experiences are incomparable. Obviously, the episode mocks Rucchel for her superstitions, but it participates in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” trope found in the resolutions of many Jewish comedies, like forbear Curb Your Enthusiasm.

“Schlemiel, schlimazel”: Good Garry, Bad Larrys

The defeatist portrayal of Jewish characters on television is hardly a new phenomenon, but has shifted significantly over the last several decades. As Hoberman wittily indicates in Entertaining America, during the 1960s film boom, “roughly between…Barbra Streisand’s appearances in Funny Girl and The Way We Were” (220), representations of Jews on film skyrocketed, and with them, depictions of the schlemiel character, the anti-hero and everyman to whom everyone could relate (223). Hoberman continues, “If the schlemiel was a new American everyman, so the Jewish condition was understood to be universal” (223). The schlemiel archetype has roots far beyond the explosion of Jewish representation in 1960s film; as Ruth Wisse writes about the historical schlemiel character, “the fool may be the only morally sane man” (“The Schlemiel” 4), and that notion certainly comes to bear with Difficult People’s recurring character Garry, Billy’s brother, who exemplifies the archetype. Wisse continues,

Vulnerable, ineffectual in his efforts at self-advancement and self-preservation, [the fool] emerged as the archetypal Jew, especially in his capacity of potential victim. Since Jewry’s attitudes toward its own frailty were complex and contradictory, the schlemiel was sometimes berated for his foolish weakness, and elsewhere exalted for his hard inner strength. (5)

Garry is thoroughly cowed by his domineering wife—when he attempts to stand up to her verbal abuse, at Billy’s suggestion, Rucchel throws him out of the house (“Blade Stallion”). He comes to live with Billy and proves himself to be shockingly inept at the bachelor lifestyle. Other characters play this sexual ineptitude for a joke; talking to Garry’s wife Rucchel, Billy says:

BILLY. Oh, please, Rucchel. My parents hated you. You know that. They were just happy that Garry could lose his virginity.

RUCCHEL. Exactly. I took one for the team. (“Code Change” 00:09:21-8)

Garry’s manhood is a punching bag throughout the series, but never once does the series question his inherent goodness. Garry is a hardworking business owner who provides for his family and can always be relied upon to help family and friends. When Billy finds him in his own basement after his rejection from the Israeli army, he remarks, “You’re living down here? This is like Room if that abuser had kept kosher! (“Code Change” 00:10:58-00:11:01) Garry, if somewhat stupidly, sacrifices his own comfort in order to make his wife and children proud.

GARRY. I’m scheduled to come home soon, so if I could pull it off I have, you know, one of those really great, like, heroes’ welcomes. You ever see those YouTube videos of soldiers coming home and those dogs don’t even consider biting them? I want that with Rucchel. (“Code Change” 00:11:17-25)

His desire for a “heroes’ welcome” home from Israel does, to some degree, stem from his fear of his (admittedly terrifying) wife, but also from a place of love. His moral strength, it seems, comes from his weakness in more practical, quotidian matters.

While Garry exemplifies the schlemiel stereotype, Billy and Julie more squarely fall into the schlimazel category. Billy and Julie’s mishegas is reminiscent of that of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s iconic (fictionalized) Larry David—every effort, well- or ill-intentioned, ends in failure and cringe-worthy awkwardness. As Dauber writes,

The distinction between the schlemiel and the schlimazel has lent itself to all sorts of characterization…There’s not so much to say about the schlimazel, except to note that as the kind of avatar for Jewish misfortune, his troubles are always writ small…The schlimazel’s only option, his only power, is the right to complain. (214)

Despite their constant kvetching, Julie and Billy (like the rich and famous Larry David of Curb) exist in a space of immense privilege. They are both Manhattanites in show business, either, like Julie, unemployed and supported by her mother and boyfriend or, like Billy, underemployed as a waiter and barely able to perform in his menial role. Though they live in relative ease, their every move complicates their lives further. In “The Courage of a Soldier,” Billy and Julie sing the Curb theme song as the episode ends, both an acknowledgment of yet another failed show business endeavor and a nod to the structural similarities between Difficult People and Curb. As Julie laments during “Difficult Christmas,” “Why can’t things be easier for us, you know? Why do we have to be miserable all the time?” (00:01:10-4) This moment recalls the salient and oft repeated quotation from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall:

I feel that life is divided up into the horrible and the miserable. Those are the two categories. You know, the horrible would be like, um, I don’t know, terminal cases…and the miserable is everyone else. So when you go through life, you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because you’re very lucky to be miserable. (00:36:47-00:37:08)

Perhaps if Alvy Singer had met Billy and Julie, he’d feel compelled to add a third category to his taxonomy of humanity: the difficult (Julie and Billy, of course, would hate this—the show mocks Woody Allen constantly). The difficult are the schlimazels, those who are miserable as a result of their own actions, rather than simply the hands of fate. The difficult are the centers of their own universes, around which everyone else must orbit.

A Show About Me: Marilyn, Rucchel, and the difficult issue of Jewish motherhood

In the opening sequence of the season 3 episode, “Code Change,” Julie explains, “The problem is, if my mom calls me when phone is dead, she gets mad she can’t reach me and it activates the guilt sequence” (00:00:07-14). As Martha A. Ravits writes in her article, “The Jewish Mother: Comedy and Controversy in American Popular Culture,” the Jewish mother has long been portrayed in media as “a nagging guardian of ethnic identity and the embodiment of its worst traits” (3). Ravits’s article traces the roots of the overbearing Jewish mother stereotype back to its roots in misogynist male writing during second-wave feminism in the United States, and feminism’s ongoing failure to adequately combat it. As Ravits writes,

Whether the Jewish mother is represented as protecting her children or demanding their loyalty, she is seen as exceeding prescribed boundaries, as being excessive. Her claims to affection, her voicing of opinions, her expressions of maternal worry are perceived as threatening in part because she acts as a free agent, not as a subordinate female according to mainstream cultural ideals. Even when she is represented as self-effacing, cast as the martyr, she is interpreted as being manipulative or passive-aggressive, secretly striving to impose her will on others. (4)

This passage merits quotation at length because it illuminates the central tension present in Jewish maternal representation—its threat to masculinity and social norms. The Jewish mother stereotype allows male writers to deflect their own misogyny and troubled relationships with their Jewish-American identities (Ravits 6), but in doing so, these writers reveal their own fear of women’s power. The Jewish mother is too powerful—therefore she must be ridiculed and contained.

Marilyn Kessler’s presence in Difficult People at once affirms and disrupts the Jewish mother stereotype. Marilyn has all the hallmarks of the stereotype—an obsession with weight (especially Julie’s), suspicion and contempt for Julie’s gentile boyfriend, and the beleaguered martyr complex one expects of an archetype so embedded in contemporary popular culture. But Marilyn is (ironically) a celebrated, successful, independently wealthy therapist. She has the delusional self-importance of a cast member of the Real Housewives franchise (in the episode “Carter,” she does become Countess Luann’s television therapist, but proves too good at her job to remain on the conflict-driven program). Marilyn maintains tyrannical control over her household (the series references but never introduces Mr. Kessler). While she does hold an unhealthy amount of sway over Julie’s emotions, leading Julie to seek treatment to cope with this (“Code Change”), her love for her daughter is obvious, if filtered through Marilyn’s unchecked narcissism. In the season one episode, “Premium Membership,” she stages a musical celebrating her own accomplishments with her patients under the guise that it is “art therapy,” which she titles, “Me! A Show About Me.” Marilyn may, on the surface, be the stereotypical, overbearing Jewish mother, but her constant successes belie such stringent categorization. Whether she is surge-pricing her therapy patients during the holidays (“Difficult Christmas”) or being offered a book deal (“Rabbitversary”), Marilyn’s indefatigable self-confidence, delusional or otherwise, reads feminist.

Rucchel Epstein, though she exists in vastly different circumstances as Marilyn (she lives in a modest home in a Jewish neighborhood in Queens with her schlemiel of a husband, Garry, and their two daughters, Renée and Tal), is most certainly overbearing as Jewish mother archetypes are wont to be, but she takes the persona to a comic extreme. Rucchel says whatever she wants, whenever she wants (her speech is riddled with insults and profanity) and is undoubtedly the leader of her own home. She transforms her home into a deeply observant Jewish one, to an absurd degree (she is, indeed, a “nagging guardian of ethnic identity”). For instance, while Rucchel exorcises a dybbuk from her home (“Code Change”), Marilyn skips fasting during Yom Kippur because it is “uncomfortable” (“The Courage of a Soldier”). While Marilyn gleefully anticipates Christmas or “suicide season,” a boon for her therapy practice (“Difficult Christmas”), Rucchel takes continuing education Yiddish poetry classes (“Blade Stallion”). She is the constant butt of jokes about being “too Jewish” and out of touch with contemporary social norms, something frequently attributed to the Jewish mother stereotype (Ravits 6). Rucchel’s presence in the series both engages with the stereotype at its most negative and proves exactly what Ravits attempts to in her article: Jewish women are powerful.

LGBT Jew: Difficult Representation

If women’s issues are at the forefront of the consciousness of the Difficult People writing staff, so are issues of LGBTQ rights and identity. The season two episode of Difficult People, “Italian Piñata,” begins:

JULIE. Ah, Stonewall. Judy Garland died. The cops raided the place. Gays, trans people, and drag queens were in no mood to be fucked with and began to riot.

BILLY. And thanks to their sacrifice I am now free to be out, proud, and know at any given moment where the power bottoms are within a five-mile radius. (00:00:00-17)

Though this exchange happens well into a series that proclaims itself as LGBTQ-friendly (if not unfriendly to straight, white cis-people), it perfectly captures Difficult People’s overall attitude toward LGBTQ history. First, Julie sets the joke up by proudly recalling the legendary 1969 incident at Stonewall, a landmark moment for the queer community, and Billy provides the punch line, that queer activists endured violence and riots to secure Billy’s rights, which he now uses to have anonymous sex via Grindr. In moments like this one, throughout the series, Difficult People uses its platform (streaming service in the U.S., its territories, and Japan) to both elevate LGBTQ folks (half the cast is queer) and call out the ways in which even avowed queer allies fail.

Difficult People ascribes to no illusions, nor does it place any minority figure on a pedestal. On Difficult People, queer people are people, just like anyone else, and as such, are deeply flawed (Lola, the trans waitress who works with Billy, played by Jewish, trans actor Shakina Nayfack, is a 9/11 truther, for instance). Characters often accuse Billy himself, an out gay man, of homophobia:

JULIE. Oh, that’s right, ‘cause you hate other gay guys.

BILLY. No I do not hate other gay people—yes, I do. I get very homophobic when I go to my gym. (“Library Water” 00:07:54-00:08:01)

As discussed in the season two episode, “Italian Piñata,” much of Billy’s frustration surrounding gay culture is his own lack of ability to strictly meet a gay “type.” Billy’s “otherness” in his own community mirrors the “otherness” Jewish characters feel throughout the series, like Rucchel’s exorcism in “Code Change,” or Julie’s neighbor’s WiFi network named “Hitler Had Some Good Ideas” in “Unplugged.” Queer characters on Difficult People also often engage in oppression one-upmanship. When Billy complains about Coming Out Day customers at work, Lola shouts, “Check your privilege, faggot. And I can say that, because I was one (“Italian Piñata” 00:01:49-53). Later in the series, Lola shouts, “I swear, if I have to hear one more cis person complain about their life I’m gonna kill myself” (“Passover Bump” 00:02:29-30). Difficult People’s queer characters are often the mouthpieces for the series’ most offensive lines—Billy quips, “I’m sorry NAMBLA doesn’t have a ‘Ones to Watch’ section in their monthly newsletter that you could use as a press clipping” (“Library Water” 00:12:56-00:13:01) at his flamboyant coworker Matthew—just as its Jewish characters often have the sternest words against Jewish culture. Difficult People is not precious about its representations of queer characters as shows like Modern Family can be—Difficult People exposes the worst attributes of humankind, which, ironically, unify it.

The Punchline

Difficult People, though short-lived, though hidden behind the Hulu paywall, though limited to the United States, is a vital text to anyone studying contemporary Jewish comedy. It is a post-postmodern text—Difficult People replaces the shrugging shoulders of Woody Allen and Larry David with characters whose earnestness and desire to succeed cannot be beaten down by their successive failures. Series like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel tackle Jewish comedy even more directly, but Maisel is set in the past, a fantasy of what greater female inclusivity in the industry may have looked like—Difficult People exists in the present (much of it was written and filmed during and after the 2016 election cycle) and therefore must contend with issues as they stand today and the real and present dangers facing American Jews, women, and the LGBTQ community. Difficult People is a Seinfeld of the Twitter age—its schlimazel leads must tackle the fallout from their own shandes with a healthy dose of online harassment. Though one can hardly call the cast racially diverse (aside from standout performances by Gabourey Sidibe and Derrick Baskin, Difficult People exists in the same whitewashed New York as Lena Dunham’s Girls) Difficult People widens the scope of criticism and exploration beyond just Jewish issues in society—its approach is intersectional. As Chametzky writes:

Jewish jokes and humorous stories flourish when traditions are changing or being undermined, when life is precarious…or when the spectacle of human folly or vanity unfolds daily to the perceptive observer. (311)

Difficult People, its humor, and its play at the expense of and in the defense of marginalized communities stands out for exactly this reason; in contemporary America, long-held traditions are changing and bigoted assumptions and attitudes are being held in contempt. Billy and Julie exemplify “human folly and vanity,” and it is the series’ honest portrayal of these negative attributes that makes it so relatable (and so funny). Difficult People exists at a cultural moment of much upheaval and turmoil; as the saying goes, art imitates life.

 

Works Cited

Allen, Woody, director. Annie Hall. United Artists, 1977.

“Blade Stallion.” Difficult People, season 2, episode 5, 26 July 2016. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/cbf58254-8aae-418c-bfb2-10811f8a29a4.

“Code Change.” Difficult People, season 3, episode 4, 8 August 2017. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/0a83d6c8-e4be-45be-97e0-4c2f166ef4fc.

Cohen, Sarah Blacher, editor. Jewish Wry: Essays on Jewish Humor. Wayne State UP, 1987.

“The Courage of a Soldier.” Difficult People, season 1, episode 4, 19 August 2015. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/51df0c1d-1001-4bdc-a69a-dca3c60bc072.

Dauber, Jeremy Asher. Jewish Comedy: A Serious History. Norton, 2017.

David, Larry, creator. Curb Your Enthusiasm. HBO Entertainment, 2011.

“Difficult Christmas.” Difficult People, season 1, episode 8, 16 Sept. 2015. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/a92d1475-7aed-4ae1-8c61-7c2ad2e725b4.

Hoberman, J. and Jeffrey Shandler, et al. Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting. Princeton UP, 2003.

“Italian Pinata.” Difficult People, season 2, episode 3, 19 July 2016. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/adda2da0-b5dc-4a8b-9e24-070535e2c4d1.

“Jewish Humor.” Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature. Edited by Jules Chametsky, Norton, 2001.

“Library Water.” Difficult People, season 1, episode 1, 5 August 2015. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/7bb2016a-f651-4f43-be0e-b46e09212036.

“Passover Bump.” Difficult People, season 3, episode 1, 8 August 2017. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/ed8af0a0-e293-4727-94b7-cd66e6efa2b2.

“Pledge Week.” Difficult People, season 1, episode 3, 12 August 2015. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/3d25ea2c-07f7-4522-b5fa-9c912a60e3c7.

“Premium Membership.” Difficult People, season 1, episode 7, 9 Sept 2015. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/96094e1a-8324-498e-8299-e6c6c739446a.

Ravits, Martha A. “The Jewish Mother: Comedy and Controversy in American Popular Culture.” MELUS, vol. 25, no. 1, Spring 2000, pp. 3-31. Accessed Nov. 21, 2018.

“Unplugged.” Difficult People, season 2, episode 1, 12 July 2016. Hulu, https://www.hulu.com/watch/d8e3a8bd-b0d8-4850-9dbc-da042dc76fc5.

Wisse, Ruth R. No Joke: Making Jewish Humor. Princeton UP, 2013.

Wisse, Ruth R. The Schlemiel as Modern Hero. Chicago UP, 1971.

Zurawik, David. The Jews of Prime Time. Brandeis, UP, 2003.

Shout Out Sunday 9.22.19

Last week was rushed and short so this will be a mega-post! Or should I say a “Mega Thee Stallion” post? A lot of cool shit is going on this week, or in some cases, has been going on for ages and my dumb ass is just discovering it! Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Image result for mandy moore when i wasn't watching
source: the atlantic
  1. Cameron Esposito wrote a beautiful piece for Modern Love, and also her book is now available for pre-order!
  2. Speaking of books I can’t wait to read, JOSH GONDELMAN’S BOOK IS OUT.
  3. I’m currently reading A Visit from the Goon Squad and just finished The Wedding Party.
  4. MANDY MOORE PUT OUT A NEW SONG. Listen to “When I Wasn’t Watching.”
  5. Also, Brittany Freaking Howard put out a solo album!
  6. I’m going to a quinceañera today and I’m wearing this dress.
  7. 100% making this bag. I already have the supplies in my Amazon cart.
  8. I started listening to the Reply Guys podcast and Julia & Kate are a joy! Everyone needs more feminist, leftist talk in their lives. I also finally started listening to Las Culturistas (I run a Bowen Yang Stan Household) and it has quickly become my favorite podcast. Also, CONGRATS to Bowen on joining the cast of SNL!
  9. Betty Gilpin on WTF with Marc Maron goes deep.
  10. I am undone by this popsicle mold. Everything should be daisies.
  11. I know this is a WEIRD one, but I’m team cottage cheese > yogurt every day. This brand is delicious and the strawberry chia is extremely my shit.
  12. Of course I started watching Derry Girls.
  13. Did you read the Lauren Duca takedown piece? Honestly a bummer. Here’s the rebuttal. Is it bad that I still want to read her book?
  14. I wanna see Hustlers.
  15. Someone PLEASE buy me this coat, for the love of god.
  16. My therapist keeps recommending meditation before bed…should I try Calm or is that too podcast-y?
  17. How did I…just…get into Megan Thee Stallion? “W.A.B” ruined me.
  18. Have I introduced you to my Twitter crush?
  19. I’m tutoring “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” today and, honestly, when’s the last time you read a late medieval poem? Get on that.
  20. It’s Bi Visibility Day/Week/Month (depending on your source) and it’s really, really important. Here’s some reading material to get you prepped! (Also, I’ve been wearing this necklace a little bit extra lately…)

Song of the week:Never Really Over” by Katy Perry

Okay, actually this has been the song of my WHOLE SUMMER. A truly underappreciated bop!

 

And with that, I leave you, my dearest loves. Until next week!

 

Shout Out Sunday 9.8.19

Good morning, star shines! I have to dash off to tutor, so we’ll get right into it today!

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image via rolling stone
  1. The Highwomen album is out! Praise!
  2. There’s a bunch of really cute stuff on sale at Baublebar right now! I snagged this necklace and this set of earrings.
  3. You know I’m buying this amazing book. And this one, of course. Should I start posting book reviews again?
  4. Scrunchies are back, baby! What does it all mean? That scene from Sex and the City (referenced in the article) has been ringing in my ears for the better part of 20 years, but I absolutely love how scrunchies look.
  5. Someone PLEASE get me these boots. Also, Everlane has a new bra out? Must have it.
  6. Just discovered these bags and I’m obsessed. Best part? They’re vegan.
  7. Would you ever get a lash lift? I have short, stubby eyelashes and I literally cannot put on falsies—I wore them once, at my wedding, and someone else applied them. I absolutely love the look—I go big on mascara every day. I’ve wanted to get extensions for ages but this seems like a good in-between? My mother got me some Lash Boost (I assume she got a good deal because holy mother of expensive!), so I’ll start using that before I get into salon treatments.
  8. I’m thinking of checking out this tattoo shop for my next piece. Now to decide what to get…too many ideas, too little available skin!
  9. Started watching The Bisexual on Hulu and I’m really liking it! Apparently 6-episode series from the UK are my entire jam. I’m glad it’s calling attention to biphobia which is fucking
    Image result for toxic word gif
  10. You absolutely must watch this Highwomen live performance. You simply must!

See you next week!

 

Shout Out Sunday 7.21.19

Happiest of Sundays to you, dear reader! It looks like I wrote this post for last week and then completely forgot about it, which is why I could never make any money blogging! Summer is passing by all too quickly (we’ve had record-breaking high temps this weekend). I haven’t even been to the beach yet!

Please enjoy the usual ramblings!

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image via blush.daisy
  • You had better believe I bought these earrings. I’m also obsessed with Blush Daisy, who should be restocking soon. I got these and these last week.
  • My “thing” has always been fun glasses/sunglasses, but every since I became a DGW (daily glasses wearer) at age 22, my sunglasses flair has significantly decreased. I need prescription sunnies (world’s tiniest violin), and those tend to be more expensive than wacky Target finds. Thankfully, Zenni Optical has my back! Just bought these and these in a sunglass tint for when I’m feeling alternately vintage and glam. I also have these sunglasses because apparently I was too young to really *get* Lolita when I read it?!
  • As a somewhat…hirsute lady, I’ve been meaning to try this razor! My thoughts & prayers are with my fellow pale-skinned, dark-haired gals.
  • Just found out about this website, so maybe I’ll give it a whirl! Making money writing seems like an impossible dream, but who knows?
  • Living for my Oxalis rollerball these days.
  • At CVS the other day, I asked the pharmacist what I could take that’s stronger than melatonin to help me sleep…she literally suggested dosing myself with Benadryl. I mean, I’m doing it (I’m a desperate insomniac), but I also got these Olly supplements.
  • Can’t wait to read this book. Emily Nussbaum’s NYTimes reviews are my favorite.
  • I’m really enjoying Stranger Things season 3, but this article really nails something I’ve noticed while watching. It’s not really all that eighties anymore, is it?
  • Here’s a handy reference for streaming junkies like me. Mostly just excited about Veronica Mars.
  • Should I get the Fleabag jumpsuit, the Stranger Things romper, or both?

Catch ya later!

Shout Out Sunday 7.7.19

Good morning, friends! I hope you all only had to work 3 days last week. Even though the 4th of July is a really complicated holiday from a social justice perspective, I had the privilege of a great day by the pool and somehow managed to only get a sunburn on my shins. I can sense a major case of the Sunday Scaries coming on…how do I go back to work after 4 days off? What is a desk? All I want to do is lay around reading and eating Mexican food…is that such a big ask?

Enjoy this week’s round-up!

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my fourth of july look was leopard & crystals because i am a sentient glass of chardonnay
  1. I took the MTEL on Friday (the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure) and even though I have no clue whether I passed, the test did remind me that I’m obsessed with Toni Morrison. One of the passages I had to write about was from Song of Solomon, which I actually haven’t read, so I’m putting it on the reading list immediately! Not to brag, but I do own a signed copy of Beloved *flips hair*
  2. I don’t bake but maybe I should start?
  3. Started reading incredible Twitter person, Kristen Arnett‘s Mostly Dead Things and it is a stunning masterpiece.
  4. The NYTimes tried to answer the age-old debate between iced coffee and cold brew, but they forgot one very important detail—cold brew is just tastier.
  5. Halle Bailey has been cast as The Little Mermaid in Disney’s upcoming live-action flick, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier that they didn’t just shove some white girl in a red wig for verisimilitude to a cartoon based on a Danish horror story. If you haven’t heard Chloe X Halle, give them a listen!
  6. Stranger Things season 3 is out!
  7. Rob Sheffield, one of my favorite writers and (fun fact) the brother of my high school chemistry teacher, wrote a great review of the new Beatles movie, Yesterday. I’m still going to see it, but I’m going into it with a critical eye.
  8. LOFT sale is an extra 60% off until Tuesday. I went yesterday and got three pieces for $20—it felt like stealing. I may or may not have just gotten a ton more stuff from the website…I love LOFT for my work wardrobe!
  9. I went up to Salem, MA last weekend and fell in love with all of the amazing shops up there. Hauswitch was one of my faves…give me all the crystals, please! I also loved Modern Millie—I wish I could wear a vintage dress every day!
  10. Tried the Yellow Door Taqueria in Lower Mills (Milton-Dorchester line) and it was bomb. My friend even made me taste duck! If you’re in the Boston area check ’em out!

Tunes of the Week:

The girl 2 cubicles over plays the radio at work, so as a result, I have had “GIRL” by Maren Morris stuck in my head for ~a month.

In honor of the 4th, PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM.

Bonus content: Wanna see my chart? It’s trouble.

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