TV shows reflect the people who make them, but few shows make you feel the creator’s sensibility as palpably as Sherman-Palladino’s. She is a woman of specific tastes: She likes pink, sparkles, and Dorothy Parker, whom her production company is named after, Minnie Mouse (obviously), hats, energy, movement, and using lots of words, except when expressing love, which one should express with deeds, lest things get “schmaltzy.” She writes to delight us by delighting herself, and sometimes, as with the residents of Stars Hollow, the bowler hat in Lorelai’s wedding wardrobe, or the way men unfailingly swoon at her series’ charming but self-centered heroines, she is delighted by things we may not be but that are part of the viewing experience, part of watching something made by someone who has an implacable faith in her own preferences.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is delightful in every way.

Kari GTVComment

Documentary producer Sheila Nevins at the New York Times:

“If women want to parade as pinups, that has nothing to do with harassment,” Ms. Nevins says. “If I look at a delicious ad for ice cream, I don’t have to devour it or slobber it down. If women sell a product by being provocative, that’s not an invitation to be harassed or abused as professionals in a workplace. There are many faces of Eve. No presentation she chooses says, ‘Abuse me.’”

Kari GComment
Pipes of peace

Enjoy these photos from yesterday's Pipes of Peace celebration, an annual event centered around bagpipes, a drum corps, a foxy Scottish reader, a Presbyterian church on Madison Avenue, cocktails at the Carlyle, and dinner at Bistro Chat Noir. Too many cocktails, maybe. But zero regrets.

Kari Gpersonal, new yorkComment
George Saunders on “A Christmas Carol”

On the occasion of my annual viewing of A Muppet Christmas Carol, here's George Saunders on the book he wishes he'd written:

I love the book’s boldness, how willing it is to throw an arm around the reader and say: This concerns you too. Near the end, Scrooge stands looking at what everyone in the world except Scrooge must by now know is Scrooge’s own grave. The reader can’t help imagining his or her own grave, and to have the same reaction Scrooge is having: That grave is similar to mine, but it is not mine, since mine will never exist, since I am not going to die. Then that bony finger juts out, urging Scrooge to look, and he gets the message, and so do we: death is real, time is short – yes, even for us. But for now, the world exists (it still exists!) and is seen, correctly, as a kind of joyous field of potential play: a place to learn to love.

Internet writers you should read

On the first day of school there was a woman who was in charge of welcoming new parents, and she was wearing a tennis outfit. “I play every day,” she told me when I asked her about it, and I thought, America!

Female internet writers, that is (some of many! and by no means exclusive to the internet):

Kari Gloves 2 Comments
First snow
Kari Gnew yorkComment
Trip to nowhere

I'm still alive! It's been a dreadful couple of weeks, work-wise, and I am only just starting to remember it probably won't kill me. Although for a few days there I was hoping it would.

+ my friend Cindy sent me this Friday Puppy video yesterday (we celebrate puppies on Fridays). I watched it fullscreen five or six times right at my desk and it was like all my dreams come true, until it turned maudlin at the end. Still: God bless friends, puppies, Fridays, etc. And naps. And beer. A lot of beer.

Kari GlovesComment
Murder on the Orient Express

This movie was S LLLL OOOOO WWWWW. But as a winter girl, a twilight girl, a lover of leaden skies and hammy British actors with plummy French accents, I say you bet. Give me all you’ve got.

Kari GmoviesComment
The day after Thanksgiving

I walked across the park to the Met this morning for a Rodin–Hockney twofer. Rodin was a bust—heh—unless I somehow overlooked 3/4 of the exhibit, but Hockney was fab. Afterwards I strolled slowly down Fifth Avenue—as one should, especially in autumn—had a croissant at the Plaza, stopped at the Time Warner Center for the loo, and then walked down to see Hello, Dolly! (starring Donna Murphy!).

Lessons learned: 

  1. My favorite thing at any museum is watching people look at art. It makes everyone seem small and vulnerable, the way they inadvertently show their whole open selves.
  2. My favorite photographic subject isn't people or landscapes or architecture, it's things in front of other things.
  3. Lotta hot dogs in this town.
  4. I love the light at the end of any tunnel.
Kari Gnew york 2 Comments

Men's Health: If you want to be more of a manly dude, should you take up woodworking?

Nick Offerman: You know, it’s a funny thing. I’m careful about the definition of manly. Making anything with one's hands is a very healthy pursuit. Whether that makes you manly or profoundly more of a winning human is fifty-fifty. We have a lot of great women in woodworking and there are plenty of men I know who are talented knitters. Stereotypically, those activities are not what you’re not supposed to do with your gender, but the world of craftsmanship doesn’t fall into neatly drawn gender lines. Anytime you’re using your craft for good is a wonderful thing. Woodworking is where my passion ended up. I do believe our society has greatly benefitted by anyone who makes something instead of going out and buying it.

Kari GlovesComment
TV shows you should watch

I don't know, I just spent a whole year watching Frasier. I am not "of the zeitgeist."

I tried but did not like Stranger Things, which the social media in toto are way too yappy about. I find broad cultural consensus really off-putting sometimes, and I hate being told what to watch. Ahem.

Yesterday I on demanded season 2 of Better Things, which I enjoyed tremendously, even though Pamela Adon's character Sam makes a lot of bad choices and two of her daughters are brats. (Let me know when they make a show called "Good Choices and Nice Daughters," which of course would be terrible.) Mostly I like that Sam is a grown adult female on TV who doesn't saunter about in high heels and tight skirts or pretend she's 25. That's a deeply refreshing thing to witness. Plus she can be very mean, so two thumbs up.

Other shows I've recently enjoyed tremendously include High Maintenance, Atlanta, Search Party, and... I think that's it. The Good Place and Black-ish, although I'm about a month behind on both. Anything over 22 minutes or not funny is not for me right now. I had to start listening to Xmas music on November 1 as an artificial mood lifter (pro tip: it worked!).

I'll admit it, for a while my determination to finish Frasier nearly destroyed my will to live: it was the kind of experience where the goal itself outstripped the objective, which was to simply "enjoy" the thing. It was like getting sucked into a bog, or training for a marathon. I don't regret it, exactly, since it taught me a lot about tenacity and sticking to your guns even in the face of adversity, but in the end I bear a mild grudge against everyone involved. I suppose somewhere in there is an important lesson about making better choices myself, huh? I'll think about it. Too much personal growth and you won't even recognize me as me.

Kari GTV 2 Comments

I went to see CATS tonight, then came home and fired up some pizza rolls, and now I want to share some thoughts.

a) Is it a common feature of CATS that the audience is invited onto the stage at intermission? Because that happened at these CATS. And while I’m not saying the stage is a sacred space, exactly, it is—to me—a space that holds, or should hold, at the very least, some reserve of magic, so I found this to be a frankly grotesque spectacle: a bunch of grubby lookers up there snapping selfies and pawing at Old Deuteronomy. I’d feel better if it were some famous CATS gimmick that only true CATS aficionados are informed of beforehand, I guess. If you are this CATS fan with underground info, do tell.

b) CATS is not a very good show. Empirically, I mean. And I say this as someone who adores Mamma Mia, which I will admit to you is also a bad show. But this was like 45 very loud, repetitive dream ballets strung together when one dream ballet is already too many. I really only liked Mr. Mistoffelees, which is akin to saying I like Santa Claus. Lame. But that CAT’s coat really sparkled.

c) They ain’t kidding with that title.

d) When they reached the 11 o’clock number (you know the one I mean), it 100% did not fail. The CAT who performed it (Mamie Parris) certainly did it justice but I kept thinking what it would have been like to sit up in the mezzanine at the Winter Garden all those years ago and hear Betty Buckley—whose voice can light your hair on fire on a slow day—lift that thing into the rafters. I did hear her sing it at City Center once, at a benefit concert that also featured Donna McKechnie and Deborah Gibson, so it’s not too far off. However, she did not come dressed as a CAT. Ah well.

Annie Proulx just accepted the lifetime achievement prize at the National Book Awards with a speech that was both a call to arms and an ode to happy endings:

The happy ending still beckons, and it is in hope of grasping it that we go on. The poet Wisława Szymborska caught the writer’s dilemma of choosing between hard realities and the longing for the happy ending. She called it “consolation.” Darwin: They say he read novels to relax, but only certain kinds—nothing that ended unhappily. If he happened on something like that, enraged, he flung the book into the fire. True or not, I’m ready to believe it. Scanning in his mind so many times and places, he’s had enough with dying species, the triumphs of the strong over the weak, the endless struggle to survive, all doomed sooner or later. He’d earned the right to happy ending, at least in fiction, with its micro-scales.

Hence the indispensable silver lining, the lovers reunited, the families reconciled, the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded, fortunes regained, treasures uncovered, stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways, good names restored, greed daunted, old maids married off to worthy parsons, troublemakers banished to other hemispheres, forgers of documents tossed down the stairs, seducers scurried to the altar, orphans sheltered, widows comforted, pride humbled, wounds healed, prodigal sons summoned home, cups of sorrow tossed into the ocean, hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation, general merriment and celebration, and the dog Fido, gone astray in the first chapter, turns up barking gladly in the last. Thank you.

Ready to move on

For a long time I've had this nagging feeling that leaving New York will mean I failed somehow, failed some meaningful, important test. That because I waited so long and worked so hard to get here, moving back to Chicago will be an admission that I wasn't smart or strong enough to succeed. Then yesterday I read this:

New York can be a crutch. Yes, your music career is stalled. Yes, your art remains unknown. Yeah, you’ve yet to be published or your startup is only hype. But you live in New York, and that makes you better than the people who don’t (or so you reassure yourself). Where you live is not an accomplishment.

That seemed profound, although it probably isn't (I'm a very shallow thinker). But it's true for me. I thought being here would be enough—that the act of living here would be a self-fulfilling achievement, and would mean I had done something—and that I wouldn't have to work anymore to figure out what I want from my own life. What I wanted was to live in New York! It's big, it's glamorous, it's loud and cool and hard. Only that isn't enough anymore. I've reached the point where it makes me lonely and sad, where it has crippled my desire to create anything, and my only real failure is letting myself pretend otherwise. But that's the one thing I can fix, so now I'm planning and tossing and counting the days until I can go.

Kari Gpersonal 8 Comments
Waving Goodbye by Wesley McNair

Why, when we say goodbye
at the end of an evening, do we deny 
we are saying it at all, as in We'll 
be seeing you, or I'll call, or Stop in,
somebody's always at home? Meanwhile, our friends,
telling us the same things, go on disappearing
beyond the porch light into the space
which except for a moment here or there
is always between us, no matter what we do.
Waving goodbye, of course, is what happens
when the space gets too large
for words – a gesture so innocent
and lonely, it could make a person weep
for days. Think of the hundreds of unknown
voyagers in the old, fluttering newsreel
patting and stroking the growing distance
between their nameless ship and the port
they are leaving, as if to promise I'll always
remember, and just as urgently, Always
remember me. Is it loneliness, too,
that makes the neighbor down the road lift
two fingers up from his steering wheel as he passes
day after day on his way to work in the hello
that turns into goodbye? What can our own raised
fingers do for him, locked in his masculine
purposes and speeding away inside the glass?
How can our waving wipe away the reflex
so deep in the woman next door to smile
and wave on her way into her house with the mail,
we'll never know if she is happy
or sad or lost? It can't. Yet in that moment
before she and all the others and we ourselves
turn back to our disparate lives, how
extraordinary it is that we make this small flag
with our hands to show the closeness we wish for
in spite of what pulls us apart again
and again: the porch light snapping off,
the car picking its way down the road through the dark.

— "Waving Goodbye" by Wesley McNair

Kari GpoetryComment
Three short things

1. There was a little girl singing on the bus this morning. She was sitting right behind me and singing very softly, not performing for the crowd in the way of annoyingly precocious tots, or even in a way that indicated she wanted to be heard, but in a way that sounded like she was singing to herself—the way I whistle to myself—because she had a tune in her head and letting it out made her happy. I listened to her and thought about how different the bus felt this morning compared to a year ago, when we were all sharing a collective mental breakdown, and how I wouldn't relive that nightmare for a million dollars served up by a buck naked Mark Ruffalo. It felt good to remember what it used to feel like to not be embarrassed by America the morning after an election. Grammatically that's the saddest sentence I, Kari, have ever typed but I don't even care. It's a blog, dummies. You get what you pay for.

2. I'm no longer reading or believing articles about nutrition, I decided last weekend as I enjoyed a lunch of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. They were terrible and I had some regrets, but I just can't be some maniac who cares what she eats all the time. That's a ridiculous and exhausting way to live a life. If I wake up one morning and my pants don't fit I'll just wear what I wore the day before and then buy some new pants. Case closed. Not guilty.

3. As a coping mechanism over the past year I've slowly been watching the entire run of the television series Frasier. Perhaps you're familiar? I remember watching a few episodes in a casual way when it first aired a thousand years ago but I was never a major fan. I can't imagine being a major fan of Frasier. (Does Frasier have major fans? Please feel free to self identify! Also the show Wings: speak up, people who cared enough to keep that on the air.) 

Anyway, it's on Netflix. I just reached the end of season 7, where Niles and Daphne drive off together in a Winnebago, an event that should have occurred much, much earlier, I feel, if only to relieve some of the boredom of watching Niles drool over Daphne for seven entire years. Sheesh. But although the writing can be shockingly lazy and overly dependent on stereotypes, it's also pleasant and comforting, like Martin's old chair. The characters, if you think about it, are very sad. As sad as the characters on Cheers, or The Office, and I suppose that makes sense. Most sitcom characters are sad. As are most people in real life.

Sitcoms are more realistic than a lot of dramas in this way, in mixing the light with the dark (save The Leftovers, which hit both at a perfect pitch & tossed a boatload of absurdity on top), although not much else about Frasier is realistic. But it's so much better than reading the news or watching just about anything that's really on TV. The things I love best are Frasier's apartment and his devious agent Bebe Glazer, who shows up once a year to get him a better radio deal. Bebe is my hero: she's like Irene Dunne as a sociopath, like an Irene Dunne who just killed and ate Katharine Hepburn for breakfast on her way to kill Rosalind Russell. She reminds me of that vine, clematis, which this gardening website calls "the queen of climbers." One episode I saw last night ended with her and Frasier riding a donkey onto the set of a morning talk show they were temporarily hosting while she simultaneously tried to get him a better radio deal. None of it made any sense but nobody besides me seemed to notice. I enjoy Niles most of the time and Daphne has grown on me over the years but Martin is the only person I relate to out of the regular Frasier milieu: all he wants is a beer, a chair, a dog, and a TV. Those are not bad goals. Sorry to report that Frasier is my least favorite character on the TV show Frasier, but that's life. Or TV, I guess. Like most things, however, he's getting better as he ages.

4. Look at that, not so short! And now officially more than three.

5. Maybe this will be the holiday season when I fall in love with people walking slowly in front of me while staring at their phones. Fingers crossed.

I’ve never once heard a man explain away a carjacking by questioning why a driver bothered driving such a nice car.

Why are you driving a Lexus if you don’t want someone to take it from you? You even keep it all shiny and new-looking. You don’t think that sends some kind of message?

Apples and oranges, you might be thinking. No one ever wants their house broken into. No one ever wants their car stolen. Sex is different.

But it’s really not. When I trust you, I will invite you into my house. I might even give you something to take home. When I’m ready, I will let you drive my Lexus. (I drive a 2008 Honda, actually.) They’re mine (again, hypothetically speaking — my house isn’t that fancy either), but I’m happy to share them with the right person.

National Public Radio’s news chief, Michael Oreskes, resigned Wednesday following accusations that as an editor at the New York Times, he suddenly kissed two women while they were discussing job prospects with him.

Imagine he had leaned over and ripped their iPhones out of their hands and pocketed them. He’d be a thief — no gray area.

We’re not quite there with harassment and assault. We’re still stuck in the gray area. We’re not quite ready to consider a woman’s body her possession and her possession alone.