Go See a Show

Dear Millicent,

You know I am all for sitting inside the house and letting the world carry on while I’m happily snowed in by novels and long lost mini-series.  But, after last night, I’m going to have to change some of that. And, I call on all MCF readers to help me.  We have to go the theater/theatre. It’s important.

Remember how in the superb Slings and Arrows (get thee to your Netflix, or latenight IFC right now if you haven’t seen it yet),  a major plot point is the fact that all of the theaters ticket subscribers are old. I assumed this was exaggerated for the sake of plot points like this misguided attempt to pull in a younger audience with billboards like this:

Since I never go to plays (they’re expensive), I wasn’t in on the joke. The joke that it’s all true.  Due to a deal on tickets, I went to the Geffen Playhouse here in LA, which from its fanciness looks like a supremely endowed-theater. I saw The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, a play about 1980’s childhood nostalgia, pro-wrestling, race and capitalism in America. It was full of rap music. At several points, the entire audience was filled with the unhappy elbows of people covering their ears. There were no young people.  There were no middle-aged people. It was the New Burbage Theatre Festival.

I do not particularly like  young people.  But that’s neither here nor there. I had no idea how many people weren’t going to see plays. That sounds crass. What I mean is, the tradition of theater-going seems like it might be lost.  Younger generations aren’t theater-going, theater-finding, theater-thinking.  Concerts yes! Plays, no.

Theater is where we get our broad strokes on, where themes have to be present, where politics get to be stated proudly. Where we have monologues that are actual monologues! We have to go to the theater because if we don’t, by my hasty estimation, there will be no more ticket subscribers in 30 years, max. And we want plays like The Elaborate Entrance… to get made because they are all thinky and sweaty and compelling.  I have to say, from the grumbling I heard in the audience (“what’s this play about?” “I hate the music.” “Why can’t they keep their clothes on”) I assumed the audience hated the play.  I was wrong. They gave it a standing ovation.

Am I wrong? What was the last play you went to? What was the audience demographic? There is a strong chance my observation based on one night out is totally overblown. But I trust Slings and Arrows. 

Let’s all go to one play in the next 6 months. That gives us till March.

Yours,

CF

Advertisements

Whitney is for the parents, kids.

I also watched Whitney last night. It will tangle a viewer up! It is a show that is a mess, and a mess that you think you should watch so that you can talk about such messes, but then the mess is so sticky and bad that you think you should leave the room.  Like a lot of things lately, it got me conflicted.

The good news is we have a show about with a central female character.  I was interested in the sitcom to see if it hearkened back to that earlier era of “real lady” sitcoms from the early 1990s, when we had Roseanne and Grace Under Fire.  Sure, the advertising for Whitney was certainly selling a young-ish kind of misery (well parsed by Splitsider here)  instead of the middle-aged ladies above, but the show suggested it would have whiffs of the same autonomy of a complicated woman leading the show, using the gap between idealized femininity and real life as a motor for the show’s comedy and heart.

The bad news is Whitney spends 98% of the show in underwear. Like, for the entire week that they produced the pilot, she went to the costume trailer and maybe asked “still no pants? ” I think there is so much lingerie in the first episode to scream to the audience, “really, it’s okay, we are not that kind of show. Nothing you know will be threatened here. We aren’t a ‘smart’ show. Look at her ass! No challenges, promise!”  And then, the show goes on to suggest that having a girlfriend who eats or who uses mild sarcasm is coded as “loud” and overall an unattractive burden to the poor lout who happens to love her.  We see this as a classic hot chick tries to hit on Whitney’s boyfriend, wondering at his insane choice (in a very attractive successful woman, who seems to maybe slouch more than the hot girl?).

I don’t see this as an attempt to win over a female audience. This is not Girlfriends or any kind of network ready SATC rehashing.  This show is pretending it wants me to watch it, which is why it has such a strange boomerang of irony and generic form (the much commented on laugh track, three cameras, and constant wink). As Troy Patterson said at Slate:

Well isn’t she fresh. And isn’t that stale…There is a peculiar flavor to this cheese. If you caught a snippet of Whitney unawares, you would be forgiven for assuming that it’s one of those shows-within-a-show that exists to caricature bad television.

My guess is that this more akin to network TV branding lineups as “Laughapaloozas” in the early 90s, appropriating what they lately identified as youth culture and using its energy to promise a safe explanation to everybody else. What I’m saying is, I think Whitney’s  target audience are not 30 somethings who identify with the  weak gawk and struggle of commitment and having nice things (really, who has a couch in their bedroom, or a dresser in their walk in closet? And lingerie is expensive, folks). I think it’s for the parents of those 30 somethings (I’m including myself in this 30ish demographic).

This show does shit for women, women in comedy, and women in Hollywood.  But, it does promise our parents that we are loved even if we aren’t married. That our vague professional careers (she is a photographer) are legitimate. That partners with long hair are really nice young men. That our parents’ divorce did affect us, but it didn’t really harm us. Whitney lets parents watch their be-hoodied, belching, whimsical and sloppy ‘untraditional’ kids turn out as conventional and unworrisome as a parent could hope. If your parents watch Two and a Half Men, then I bet they will watch this. And when they do, they will probably talk about you.

This show is going to make it as a generational artifact of what we hope other people are up to.

Yours,

CF

Aquadettes!

Dear M.,

I’ve been working on a novel for a few years. It is very much about this:

It’s an embarrassing thing, to admit the attempt of a novel. But that’s not the point. I wanted you to see this film because it is really lovely. And it’s a surprise window into what I’m writing about, something that is finding the pockets I have been feeling for. Something that is keeping my fingers crossed.

Yours,

CF

Film via @Brainpicker

Don’t Fail Me Now

Dear Millicent,

It is a cruel thing when something you love lets you down. It is also one of the most powerful things that television can do besides inform you about disasters and keep you company when other people are sleeping. TV is not the most respected of mediums, and I hold the same expectations for most things that I watch on TV as the over-thick general fiction novels I used to hoard from the Tucson public library: pleasure first, with an outside chance of mastery.

And TV has a fair chance of being supergood. The 2000s have been full of breathless television. We are such a good generation at mixing quality with pleasure, just look at our trends of food and drink. In the 1990s, our swoons were limited to Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure and MSCL. I was a much younger viewer then, a different demographic entirely, but I just don’t remember anybody talking about how great TV was. I watched a thousand pounds more of it a day, but it rarely landed in my gut like art. It landed like salt.  It was delicious. It was the stuff that made a future dreamable, collaged, and fully outfitted.  It was what people were doing somewhere.

But that’s barely here or where. I want to get back to heartbreak. I want to talk about Bramwell. Netflix had recommended the show to me for months, and I kept pushing it aside because it looked a tad…bunned? The title card was of a Victorian woman by a fireplace looking all inquisitive and honest while sitting next to a microscope.  It looked like a grown up American Girl movie.  What finally pushed me into this 31 hour affair were the comments over at The Hairpin in response to a post I had written about the maxi-drama Poldark.  Somebody said that the main character got into “scrapes.” If you speak Anne Shirley, I listen.

And the first episode swallowed me whole. It was Victorian, but about syphilis! And it was feminist, well-written, and well-costumed.  Half procedural (think a kind of feminist Victorian version of House), half melodrama about what it’s like to be a working Lady (by the way, I want to start a new academic branch called Lady Studies), Bramwell is a dream come true.  You get mystery, you get silver chafing dishes, you get extreme power structures to dissect, and you get the fun of another time and place. Surgeries happened every episode, often on the kitchen table!  Genre at its best, teasing out all the big ideas, but foremost entertaining and soothing its audience while it pokes at the tender bits of what a society makes.

I was in love. I savored the show, knowing it only had 31 episodes the way I knew Anne of Green Gables series only had 8 books. It was a lovely length–long enough to know you couldn’t gobble it, but finite. It was constructed smartly enough that you fell into full trust with its creators. The characters are complicated. They say the perfect thing, but it isn’t the one you were expecting.  Elinor Bramwell is a trained doctor who starts a hospital in the East End. She lives with her father, also a doctor, and is constantly navigating her future and place. Can she be a wife and a doctor? Will she be an old maid? What were the expectations of class, virtue, and philanthropy in Victorian England?

As with our particular stories of headstrong, intelligent women who have just the right spark of pluck and grace, we all immediately identify with our lead. She is Elizabeth, Anne, Rilla, Wonapalei. I watched this show looking for answers (I watch a lot of television looking for revelations, personal or universal). How do we find work that uses our best skills? How do you navigate privilege and service? How do you utilize, dismantle or deflect patriarchy? I’m not kidding. There were breathless moments in this show, usually alone and late at night, where I thought we were getting somewhere, me and Elinor.  I thought by episode 31, some new answer was going to get cracked out of me.

I thought this all the way up to episode 29, where I so want to tell you what happens, but cannot, because I also really want you to watch this show.  But I want you stop watching at episode 29. Then turn it off like the book is over.  No more pages.

I also want to find Lucy Gannon, the show’s creator and main writer, and beg an interview with her. Something huge happened between the end of the second season (episode 29) and the strange 4 hours that make up  season 4 (episodes 30-31). My guess is that Gannon would defend her choice, but I want to know why. Did the producers go crazy? Did she want to sober up all of us slobbering romantics, pegging our lives on the constructed adventures of gamine do-gooders? Something happened! Professionally, personally, cosmically, Bramwell got fucked.

All I can say is that the feminism, heavily installed in the series, fully goes out the window. Beloved characters disappear with no explanation, characters become unrecognizable, and the theme music gets really bad.  Up until the very end, I was holding my breath, sure this was all a grand architecture to make the ending glow like the best of television endings. But it didn’t. It did the worst thing, and pretended that the crap was just what we wanted. It broke our hearts. There are lots of us, according to the old Masterpiece Theatre forums on the PBS website.  We are all astonishment.

So now I have to go back to answering my own questions about my life, without the crutch of what would Elinor do? And she was played by a Redgrave (Jemma), and you know you can always trust a Redgrave!

It was dreamy while it lasted. And then, the evidence changed, all collapsed.

Lesson: good endings must not be assumed, and in television, dreadfully, cannot be earned.

Yours,

CF

 

9-to-5, A Decidedly Unrotten Tomato

Dear CF,

I’ve watched 254 training videos in the last week. 254 exactly. I know because the service I’m using counts them. I’m watching them because I’m trying to learn Adobe CS5–or part of it. Illustrator and InDesign and Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I just want to grab images and make them do my will. But every time I skip steps and try I end up with an unchangeable chunk of image with crawling ants around it. Chastened, I go back and rewatch videos like “Using Rules and Grids in Illustrator” or “How to Manage Your Files in Dreamweaver.” They are mind-numbing, and yet I need them.

A happy side effect of all this is that I have a new appreciation for how insanely easy it is to draw on paper. It’s a technological miracle! No layers! No panels! No selection tools or brush sizes or fills and strokes or anti-alias or pixel previews! No RGB or CMYK! Just your hand, paper, and something to mark the paper.

Here is a tomato I drew and then ate while watching 9-to-5, which is on Netflix Instant, and which everyone should watch if they haven’t because it is COMEDY GOLD. That stupid movie with Justin Bateman that we reviewed—Horrible Bosses, that’s what it was called—was its sad shadowy echo. The dream sequences! The fact that at one point a boss actually gets trussed up with telephone cord. The miraculous reappropriation of a garage door! It’s so ballsy, and God, I wish Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda had become a comedy trio after that. I would have bought every single thing they made.

In conclusion, here is some magical asparagus:

Fondly,
M

Women, sort yourself out!

An old one from Mitchell and Webb:

This is What It Looks Like to Be Chased by a Squirrel

Dear CF,

I spent Labor Day noodling around the Oakland botanical gardens, taking pictures of cacti, when a very small (rabid?) squirrel decided he was Mr. MacGregor and I was Peter Rabbit. Here’s what happened next:

On your marks!

 

 

Get set!

 

GO!

 

 

Fondly,

M

That’s Entertainment Friday and The Aquamusical

It’s Friday! Watch this! It will make your life better. It has giant plumes of colored smoke, and seahorses.

That’s Entertainment is a big giant love letter to the musical, from Hollywood, to Hollywood. I had the original VHS of it, and watched it, oh, about a thousand times.  This clip came up because I watched Esther Williams’ first aquamusical, Bathing Beauty, and was getting itchy sitting through two hours and to wait for only 1 scene of actual aquamusicality. That one scene does satisfy, but I recommend just fast forwarding to the end to see all the fire, water, and women in large chartreuse hats.

The other really quite astounding moment in Bathing Beauty is this, which you should watch for the shoes alone:

By the way, there is more organ (heh) in this movie than swimming.  There is more everything in this movie than swimming. But, maybe Hollywood hadn’t figured Esther out yet.  I forgive them. They made up for it eventually.

And the movie does start with this charming card, which I would like as a bookplate on my one day bestselling, scandalous autobiography (ghostwritten, of course): Cheap Seats: Who Says Sequins Aren’t a Girl’s Best Friend!:

 

May you dive from a trapeze swinging out of purple smoke into a small ring surrounded by smiling couples this Labor Day weekend,

Yours,

CF

 

 

On the Unacknowledged, Virtuosic Mess of Julie Powell’s Cleaving

Dear CF,

Does an author have the right to be a bad person? Particularly if it’s precisely their “badness” that makes their story compelling (Cheever be damned)?

I finished reading Julie Powell’s book Cleaving today. A dark read. Not because of the one scene of anonymous sex (which the entire internet seems to have fixated on, and which was totally forgettable), but because of the ugly and insanely raw emotional territory it occupies, and how fiercely it decimates the Julie Powell persona of Julie and Julie. You rarely see a nonfiction author assassinate her own character, and it’s fascinating to watch.

I wrote this post about the internet response to the book (and to female selfishness generally) back in March 2010. Here’s what I said then, back before I’d read the book, concerning the charges lodged against Powell that she was a Selfish Narcissist who Overshares:

Some qualify that assessment. They say Julie Powell seems to think that self-awareness means calling herself all the names she knows people will call her first. If she labels herself a whore before anyone else does, she vaccinates herself against judgment by being the first to confess herself guilty as charged. This set of critics complain that this is pure defensiveness; she doesn’t really think she’s a whore. Therefore, she doesn’t really feel guilty. To admit guilt without doing anything about it, this set of critics feels, is, well, it’s downright Catholic! It’s as if she expects absolution just because she says something that’s true without feeling, in her heart of hearts, its truth and changing accordingly.

This latter charge strikes me as probably true. It’s also what Woody Allen (for example) built an entire career on. [/snip] Nobody would deny that Woody Allen is a selfish, unregenerate narcissist whose every project is a paean to his own ego. But neither is anyone suggesting that his career should end because of it. Narcissism does not necessarily make for bad art. In fact, to my everlasting despair, it seems like great artists almost have to be Firecrackers—it might be the case that great artists are constitutionally shitty people. Most writers are narcissists, most artists are egomaniacs, and most memoirs are fake. The sooner we reconcile ourselves to that, the better. Memoirs are faker than (for example) Facebook profiles, and if you think your Facebook profile is in any way a representation of the real you, well—the deposed King of Nigeria desperately needs your help.

This is one many reasons why it’s so damn hard to write—how absolutely great, but also how absolutely selfish it feels. That’s the wrong word. “Selfish” is really the wrong category. We’re all selfish in different ways all the time, and most of those ways should be worked on.  They can hurt the people around us who we genuinely care for and have reason to treat well. But this kind of selfishness, the writing kind, is strange in that it’s basically victimless but feels especially objectionable. It feels (and I speak only for myself here) like a HUGE taboo.

While narcissism in male artists gets painted as brilliantly iconoclastic or even excused—Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso were just raw, sacrificing convention (read: their partners) for the sake of great art, Roman Polanski anally raped and drugged children but made great movies—women are severely punished when their desires or demands cross the line of the reasonable and prudent. (My God!!! Julie Powell cheated on her husband!!!)

Now that I’ve read the book, I want to point out a few things. The first is that I’m not actually minimizing the final reaction I’ve noted above—it is genuinely shocking that Julie Powell cheated on her husband. The reason it’s shocking is that Julie Powell made her husband such an immensely likable character, and their marriage so impossibly charming. Eric, that figure for whom reviewers have advocated with so much compassion, and on whose behalf they’ve eviscerated his creator, is a literary creation. Our experience of him is mediated by Powell herself. We see him through her eyes. We have no direct experience of him. Or them.

I’m emphasizing that because many reviewers have criticized Powell for a lack of authorial control. They’re wrong. Eric may or may not be a saint, but anyone who has ever been written about—including Julie Powell herself—knows that the written version of a person bears (at best) a sibling relationship to the real thing. The reason we love Eric is because Powell made us love him. That’s the same reason we dislike her. In a way, watching the internet attack Powell for her book is watching a creation butcher its creator.

Here’s how Linda Holmes (of NPR) anatomizes the shortcomings of Cleaving:

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that you can’t do regrettable or dishonest things and write about them in a good memoir. But for me to enjoy it, that takes reflection. It requires that you not appear to be bragging about the worst things you did and how exciting they were, while insisting that really, you feel terrible. In fact, you could write a memoir in which you explain why you do not feel bad about your affair, and if that seemed to be your authentic perspective, maybe that would be interesting. But when your internal struggles seem to be the ones you think you’re supposed to be having more than ones you are actually having, then the book feels inauthentic and dull.

While I agree with Holmes in principle, Powell’s internal struggles aren’t the one she thinks she’s supposed to be having. This, I would argue, IS the memoir in which she explains why she doesn’t feel bad about her affair, even as she has the intelligence to recognize her own ugliness. Powell seems to believe that feelings are animal things that refuse to be dictated to. You can’t lecture a feeling away; you can sit with it or you can push it underground. What we do on the basis of those feelings is a whole different question, of course. But in a marriage like the one Powell describes, where there is no privacy because you essentially share a brain (and e-mail passwords), the feeling is the real sin. Not the infidelity. That’s not how we narrate the ideal marriage, it’s not how we understand what a “sainted husband” should have to put up with, but it is interesting. We’ve certainly seen versions of the same story before, wherein husbands anatomize their personal journeys, complete with marital infidelities, without seeing (or writing) their spouses as anything nearly so human as Eric Powell. Not having read Elizabeth Gilbert, I nevertheless suspect that Julie Powell’s depiction of an ideal union and its decline is far more real than anything she’s done.

As far as the claim that Powell lacks self-awareness goes, I challenge anyone to claim that the following is anything other than the naked and ugly admission it is:

Eric and I haven’t had sex in months. And though D is gone, hasn’t exchanged a word with me in weeks, despite or because of the desperate, pleading texts that our horrid at-last-real breakup didn’t succeed in deterring me from, still he’s there, of course, living in our apartment. Eric doesn’t touch me. And I can’t touch him either. The truth is that Eric’s love, his very dearness, is excruciating to me, a constant stabbing.

or the sheer, nightmarish discomfort of this sequence, which offers a ruthlessly honest portrait of what people are really thinking even as they go about offering what seem like the “correct” performances:

“Eric, of course, knows I’m fucking someone else, has known for almost the entire period of my affair with D. He even knows that, in distressing point of fact, I’m in love with this other man. I don’t have to tell him this. We basically share the same mind, after all. Once, I was proud of and comforted by this nearly paranormal connection. That my husband knew me so well, and I him, seemed proof of a love superior in all ways to all others. Then D happened. We fought about it when Eric first found out, of course, or rather I cried and Eric yelled and marched out of the house into the night for a few hours. But after that, there was only exhaustion, and quiet, and in all the months since we’ve barely spoken about it at all. Sometimes, even most of the time, everything seems fine this way. But then, this talent we share emerges and proves itself the stealthiest, most vicious weapon in our arsenals. We can delve into each other’s heart and deftly pull out the scraps of filthy hidden longing and unhappiness and shame. With a look or a word, we can deftly rub these into the other’s face as we’d push a dog’s nose into its mess on the living room rug.

“We’ll be sitting in front of the TV, say, into our second bottle of wine, watching some Netflix DVD. I always have my phone on silent when we’re together, so Eric doesn’t hear the trill or feel the buzz against the sofa cushions. But still I’m tense, glancing at the BlackBerry screen whenever Eric gets up to go to the bathroom or stir the soup. When he gets back to the couch and sits, I’ll press the soles of my feet up against his thigh in a gesture of affection intended to make me seem comfortable and happy. But eventually, unconsciously, the nervous energy builds, and I’m tapping my bare feet against his pants leg. “What’s the matter?” Eric will say, grabbing my feet to still them, not taking his eyes from the TV screen. “He not paying enough attention to you tonight?” I’ll freeze, stop breathing, and say nothing, waiting to see if there will be more, but there won’t be. There doesn’t need to be. We’ll stare at the television as if nothing at all has been said; when D does send me a message, if he does, I’ll be afraid to answer it.

“I can do the same to him. Some night my husband will go out. “Drinks with work buddies,” he will say. “Back by nine.” Nine o’clock and then ten will, inevitable, come and go. The first time this happened, a month or two after he discovered I was sleeping with D, I was surprised and worried. He came home that morning at two thirty and woke me up to confess, remorsefully, that he’d been on a date with another woman, that it wouldn’t happen again, though I told him—ah, the pleasure of being the sainted one for once—that he deserved to be able to see anyone he wanted. By now I’m used to it; I don’t expect him home, probably until dawn. I can instantly tell, from the tone of voice when he calls or the phrasing of his e-mail, that he’s going to be the woman he’s been seeing off and on for nearly as long as I’ve been fucking D. I’m not even angry; I’m pleased. The text I send him a little after eleven is always more than gracious: Sweetie, can you let me know if you’ll be home tonight? I totally understand if you won’t be. I just don’t want to worry. 

“It might take him twenty minutes to write back, or an hour, or three. But he’ll always write the same thing. I’ll be home soon. I know I’m fucking up everything. 

“No, I’ll write, all sweetness and light, you’re not fucking anything up. Have fun. Come home whenever you like. When I hear the lock in the door I’ll initially feign sleep while he undresses and cuddles up guiltily beside me in bed, but I’ll make sure I give his hand a reassuring squeeze so he knows. In the morning I’ll pretend not to see his wish that I’d scream or cry, show my hurt and thus my love. I’ll poach an egg for breakfast, smiling. Nothing will be said. This is how I punish him.”

The person who comes out of that claustrophobically dark domestic portrait looking bad is not Eric. And it could have been. There was a way to tell that story that made Julie Powell look good, or at least not horrifically bad—there were problems with the relationship, she had noticed an attraction between Eric and this other woman, there were fissures. She doesn’t. That first sentence—Eric, of course, knows that I’m fucking someone else—beats you over the head with her culpability. She doesn’t make excuses, she doesn’t psychologize her own behavior. She owns the intense ugliness of her actions, which are predicated on the fused intimacy she spent the first book creating, and strips the cloying sweetness of all the passivity that would make it passive aggression.

That could be sociopathic, as some have suggested. It could also be one of the most honest things I’ve ever read. Plenty of people go through their whole lives manipulating decent codes for indecent ends. The vicious private languages couples develop, the misunderstandings they cultivate, which to outsiders can look innocent, even sweet, are an incredible phenomenon that seldom gets tapped in memoir (for obvious reasons). Julie Powell translating her cheerful morning egg-poaching into the brutal and unfair indictment of Eric that it is? That’s many things, but it isn’t sociopathic. Would that it were. It’s deeply human, and we’ve all done something like it, and never spoken of it, and even forgotten about the motives ourselves.

There’s plenty not to like. The food metaphors frequently drift into the domain of maudlin punning. This one, for instance:

In an ideal world, this recipe would yield about two dozen four-inch links of sausage. However, all boiled sausages are delicate, especially blood sausage, due to the liquid filling. You will lose many lengths to burst casings…. but the ones that do turn out are lovely—spicy and rich, with the mint providing an unexpectedly refreshing note. You’ll find that you can live with the few links you have and not mourn too much over your mistakes.

Yikes.

Still, it’s a memoir where the author refuses to see either her lover or her husband as anything less than fully human, and that’s remarkable. It would have been so easy to make “D.” villainous or manipulative or bad—a bad man, taking advantage of her weakness, her newfound fame. Powell doesn’t do that. She isn’t a victim, and D. isn’t a villain, and that’s awful to have to read, because we want Eric to get the happy ending he deserves. We want her to have an epiphany, and there is one, but it isn’t that D. is horrible: it’s that he isn’t a god granting sexual favors, and that he’s been badly damaged by all the demands she’s placed on him.

I don’t know if that’s generosity. Perhaps it would have been more generous to sacrifice D. on the altar of narrative catharsis. More artful too—if art is about wrapping up the ugliness of infidelity in a CryoVac package so it stops contaminating. But the alternative Powell offers, while flawed, gives one (in the words of Hercule Poirot) “furiously to think.”

Fondly,

M

Dear M.,

Here is a famous writer quote:

The task of an American writer is not to describe the misgivings of a woman taken in adultery as she looks out of a window at the rain but to describe four hundred people under the lights reaching for a foul ball. This is ceremony.

–John Cheever

To which I say: SHENANIGANS.

Yours,

CF