Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Perils of Pairing Passion and Publishing

One of the problems with working in publishing is sharing books with colleagues. It’s not like working as a grocery store cashier, having a bagboy say to you, “Yeah, I love to read. Stephen King is a phenomenal writer,” and knowing you can happily trade horror novels back and forth with him, and he’ll be grateful (which is how I lived my reading-and-sharing life during my high school years). The stakes are ratcheted up when the person you’d love to lend the book you just read is someone who sends your marked-up emails back to you. You find yourself thinking, “Well, the story was all about Montreal and frogs, and I know how much she loves both Montreal and frogs, but will she complain about the author’s overuse of adverbs?” You’ll find yourself wondering if you should have kept tabs on exactly how many typos/grammatical errors you found in the latest Harlan Coben novel, so you can warn your office mate before he reads that copy you noticed he bought while out on his lunch hour, because you'd been raving about it earlier that day. And lest your friends think you would ever recommend anything that was less-than-stellar when it comes to punctuation and grammar (although, that means they must not be reading anything published by the major trade publishing houses these days. Oh wait a minute, many of them aren’t), you feel compelled when lending Sloane Crosley, say, to one of them, to include a yellow sticky that says, “If you can ignore the fact that the copyeditor and the proofreader both ought to be fired, and focus on the content, I’m sure this one will make you laugh out loud.”

It’s a true double-edged sword, though. I mean, with the exception of libraries and book stores (and they pay even less well than publishing companies do), where else are you going to work where you’re surrounded by so many readers? My company actually has a white-board specifically for making book recommendations, providing one-or-two sentence descriptions, which I do, every time I visit the office, feeling somehow obligated, because I’ve gotten some great recommendations from it. I doubt IBM headquarters has such an animal hanging in its hallways. I don’t need to tell you, my book blogging friends, how wonderful it is to work in such an environment. There are people at the office for whom the first words out of my mouth after “How are you” are “So, what are you reading?” Again, I can see VPs at McDonalds looking at me cross-eyed were I to have the misfortune of working for them and to ask such a thing.

I’ve mentioned in the past that making book recommendations is never an easy enterprise. Lately, when people come to stay with us, I like to go around the house and pick out four or five books to leave on the bedside table that they can read while here and borrow if they’d like. I find this much easier to do for some than for others. Family members are very easy. Friends of Bob’s (which means they probably think Plato is a light beach read) I’ve only met once, not so much. What if I choose something they absolutely hate and then get labeled “Bob’s flighty wife who actually reads things written post-1800?” Think what it’s like to have to worry about colleagues labeling you “the editor who obviously has no judgment and should not be in charge of acquiring books.”

Try adding an extra factor to this enterprise, which is that most who work in the publishing industry are pretty picky about such things as books filled with awkward sentences, missing serial commas, facts that are just plain wrong, and unoriginal material (makes one wonder who the editors are who are allowing such books to be published, but the publishing bottom line is a subject for a whole different blog post). And yet, I don’t seem to be able to keep myself from recommending books to them. You’d think I’d just keep my mouth shut, forget about advising my colleagues, pretend I’m the only editor in the history of the industry who enjoys neither reading nor writing. Instead of blurting out, “Oh, you’ve got to read A Death in the Family!” when asked what I’ve been reading lately, I ought just to say, “I don’t read much. You know, I read all day long for my job, and I want to do other things when I’m not working.” (In fairness, A Death in the Family is not likely to raise too many eyebrows, but I haven’t been reading Tamar Myers or Laurel K. Hamilton lately.)

However, I don’t even have to be asked. I’ll just hand books over to people and tell them to read them. I’ll send around company-wide emails extolling the virtues of Persephone Books, which of their books I’ve read, how everyone ought to be reading them and can borrow mine, if they’d like. I’ll blurt out, “Did you ever read Wild Swans?” because someone is talking about China in reference to the Olympics. I’m a walking, talking version of What Do I Read Next?

Maybe I need to go back to working in grocery stores. Nah. Then I’d probably start telling people what foods they should buy and recipes they should try. And I’d rather have an angry editor, appalled he or she wasted time on my latest recommendation, wielding a “Track Changes” button at my emails than an angry chef wielding a cleaver at me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Never a Dull Moment

Who says small-town life is boring? I could certainly use a little boredom right about now. One whole day with absolutely nothing to do would be thrilling. I’m reminded of David Byrne crooning, “Heaven, heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens.” I used to think, back when I first heard that song, that it was some sort of existentialist view of how boring a place like heaven would be if it actually existed as it has been imagined by humans throughout our history. Then, years later, I purchased The Talking Heads’ Popular Favorites 1976-1992 /Sand in the Vaseline and read the liner notes only to discover it was a reflection on the hectic life the band was keeping back when they were touring and recording. The band members dreamed of having nothing to do. I know the feeling.

Here’s an example of what one recent weekend – weekend. You know, as in two days I’m supposed to have off? -- was like in the life of The Pastor and Wife. Friday evening, we were invited to have dinner with a couple who has been trying to have us for dinner (I’m not kidding) for about four months now. It’s been that difficult for the four of us to find an evening that we could all make it (especially since the husband of this pair had to have surgery not long ago that laid him up for about four weeks). We ended up staying until 11:00, which is normal in CT, when you go to people’s houses for dinner around 7:00, but very late in a place where dinner invitations are usually for 5:00. Saturday morning, barely awake, we got one of those “dreaded” calls to The Pastor letting us know that one of our members, who’s been under hospice care since February, had died. Although the family planned to wait a few weeks, so that some family members who live in Georgia could come, to do the memorial service, the private, family burial was planned for Sunday morning in the graveyard at what’s known as “The old church,” the original church building. This is the church where we hold the 8:00 a.m. service during the months of July and August (it’s a little over 2 miles down the road from here).

Having received this call, Bob felt it was important for him to visit the family on Saturday. We had already been invited to a group picnic Saturday evening, which was planned for 5:30. I suggested we just go visit before we headed to the picnic, so we called the woman hosting the picnic, told her we might be a bit late, and, when Bob had finished writing his sermon (Saturday is usually his sermon-writing day, since people – except when there is serious illness or a death in the family – tend to leave him alone on Saturdays), we headed over to the newly-widowed woman’s home. I love this woman. She’s a reader and proceeded to bring out the three books she’d most recently read, all of which sounded good to me, but I couldn’t help thinking, “Reading? Who has time to do that these days?” as I watched the clock, worrying about how late was too late to arrive at the picnic.

Actually, I thought I would have that time for a little while on Sunday. Bob’s Sunday morning was going to be anything but heavenly. He had to lead the 8:00 service at the old church, be back at the new church by 9:15 to conduct the summer Sunday elective (ironically, a six-week look at finding peace in a hectic life), lead the 10:30 a.m. service, and be back at the old church by 11:45 for the burial (because the funeral home had two other burials that Sunday, and this was the only time it could be done). He was then going to do what he always does with grieving families, which was to sit around and let them reminiscence together. This is a healing process he learned about in seminary and also a good way for him to get information for the memorial service. I thought I’d go to church at 8:00, Sunday elective at 9:15, and then be free from 10:15 until 3:30, when another friend of ours had very kindly hired her massage therapist to come to her house and give us all (Bob, her husband, her, and me) massages – time to read, right? But no, as we were leaving the 8:00 service, the widow’s daughter-in-law tells Bob that the widow is really hoping I will come to the burial and to their house for lunch and reminiscing afterwards. Well, what am I going to say? “I know your husband just died, but I don’t want to come. This was my one chance to lie around and read for a few hours.”

Oh, and then I walked in the door of the new church and suddenly remembered that we had a “fall lecture series,” of which I am a co-head on the task force, meeting at 11:30. I had to tell the other co-head that I was now going to the burial and would not be able to make that meeting, so she and I decided to skip the Sunday elective and catch up right then and there. There went my chance to learn more about finding peace in a hectic life. I guess I’ll just have to read the book Bob read that inspired him to do the series. Bob led the elective while I had my meeting. Then I had an hour to come home and pretend I had more time than that to read while he led the 10:30 service. At 11:40, I met him at the car to race back to the old church for the burial, and then it was on to the grieving family’s house for lunch.

I will say the massage that afternoon was heavenly. For a brief half-hour, it really did seem as though nothing were happening. But I wouldn’t recommend drinking two beers on top of a massage. I had to go to bed at 8:30. Then again, maybe that had nothing to do with the massage and beers?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yet Another Reading Meme

So, my last post was a real post, which was just way too taxing for the dog days of summer. Thus, you get another meme from me. In defense, I was tagged twice for this one. First, Dorr said, “If this meme looks fun to you, consider yourself tagged!” Well, when did any meme (especially one about reading) not look fun to me? Then Bloglily went and tagged everyone on her blog roll. I thought, “Well, I’m off the hook,” until I remembered she sneakily has me under “Emily” not “Telecommuter Talk” on her blog roll.

What kind of book are you most comfortable reading? One that doesn’t try to be too erudite or too technical. I’m really not someone who wants to spend an entire book learning about how smart the author thinks he or she is. When it comes to novels, I prefer old-fashioned story-telling to post-modern confusion (but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been known to relish some post-modern works like those by Italo Calvino). When it comes to nonfiction, I like it to be clear, and I love personal stories: biography and autobiography. And then there are all those laugh-out-loud personal essayists, like Sedaris, Rakoff, Vowell, etc.

What kind of book do you love to hate? I love to hate series and trilogies (so much to read!), and then I go and read my way through all kinds of series and trilogies like J.K. Rowling, Ross Macdonald, Philip Pullman, and Janet Evanovich (however, I do so very, very slowly, often saving one or two, because I hate it when I reach the point at which I’ve read everything any given author has to offer).

What was the last book you surprised yourself by liking? I absolutely loved Robinson Crusoe, a book I had basically just decided, “Well, here’s one I ought to read.” I didn’t expect it to be so full and so wise and so philosophical and to make me think so much about myself and what’s important in this world. I also didn’t expect (and I don’t know why) that it would establish the fact, once and for all, that I have absolutely no survival skills whatsoever. However, that’s what sprung to mind as I read all the description of how, exactly, he managed to keep himself alive. I always love it when I expect to be bored to tears and instead find myself fully engrossed, even enraptured by a book.

What was the last book you surprised yourself by disliking? Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life. It isn’t so much that I actively disliked the book (although it did drag in places. She had a very matter-of-fact writing style that didn’t lend itself to igniting the imagination much); I just was surprised to find myself thinking that she was a little full of herself. And then I was annoyed with myself for being so judgmental of this poor person who’d certainly had a much tougher life than I have.

What would be the worst book to be marooned on a desert island with? That’s a question that’s almost as bad as what one book you’d take with you. So many answers spring to mind: The Joy of Cooking, for instance, knowing there was no way I’d be preparing/eating things like blueberry pancakes or chocolate cake for god knows how long. Robinson Crusoe would be enough to make me mad with insecurity at my own inability to do such things as hew boats from tree trunks. I’d also be pissed as hell, reading that one, because I would never have such luck as to have salvageable, useful materials on my shipwrecked, but not sunk, boat. No, my boat would sink to depths only accessible by submersibles, leaving me with nothing, and I bet my island would be one full of cacti and iguana, rather than any sort of tasty plants, mammals, and acreage for planting corn (of course, not that I would know how to plant and grow corn or have the seed anyway). Or what about something like The 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die? Great, you finally have time to read them, and at this point, the annotations make even those you’ve always hated sound fantastic, but you have no access to any of them. Give me the “what one book would you take with you?” question instead, please.

What book would you take with you if you suspected you might be marooned in the near future? Ahhh, here’s the one-book-you’d-take-with-you question. Hmmm…in the near future? And am I going to be marooned as long as Robinson Crusoe? And I get to plan? It probably ought to be something I’ve never read, then, and also something that is appropriately long. Maybe Les Miserables (finally!). In fact, maybe I should get a version that is French verso, English translation recto, so I can teach myself a new language while marooned, in case, you know, my rescuers happen to be French (although my pronunciation would probably be so dreadful, we still wouldn’t be able to communicate). But, of course, having read Robinson Crusoe, I am aware that if left completely alone on a desert island, lacking all necessary survival skills, I would be dead within three days, so it’s really a moot point.

What forces you to read outside your comfort zone? Classes did when I was still in school, followed by book discussion groups. Now, I guess, it’s Bob more than anything, along with all my book pushers (including bloggers). Sometimes traditional review media will as well. And then there’s Slightly Foxed, whose contributors, I’m convinced, could make a car manual seem like the best thing ever written.

Fun, no? Let’s hear your answers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Platonic Ideal of "Boss"

(Just got back from three much-needed and very relaxing days at the shore, and my brain is not quite in "wake" mode. I really hope this post, which wrote itself in my head the whole time I was on the beach, is as coherent as it needs to be for the topic.)

My first job in the publishing industry was not in book publishing but rather in journalism. I moved to Connecticut and took an entry-level job as an office assistant at a small legal newspaper. Since I was completely naïve at the time in all matters corporate America, when I took the job offer (basically because the really cool windsurfing company where I really wanted to work was taking its own sweet time in getting back to me, and I needed a job yesterday), I had absolutely no idea that I'd be working for anything other than this small, seemingly friendly little paper, based in this suburban Connecticut town. No one had bothered to inform me otherwise when I’d come for my interview. After all, I was just an office assistant (glorified receptionist, really). However, I was soon to be enlightened. On my first day at the job, first thing in the morning, someone called asking to speak to Steve Brill. I put the person on hold and asked the woman who was the editor at the time,

“Who’s Steve Brill?”

The editor’s worried response that all calls for Steve Brill should immediately be forwarded to the New York office was the first hint I got that I was somewhere a bit bigger than this 30-employee office. Soon thereafter, I learned that Brill was The Bigwig. He owned us. It was a terrifically fun place to work. Except when Steve Brill arrived, which he did every-so-often. Most of the people who worked there were either disillusioned lawyers or people like me testing out the notion of a publishing or journalism career. Only three of us were over the age of 40, and no one was over the age of 50. We were young; we were idealistic; we worked hard; and we had a great time. When Brill arrived, however, the feelings of disdain and contempt would have knocked anyone else flat on his back. I've always thought it was too bad. The man had great ideas. He later went on to found Court TV. But he’s part of the reason I left publishing and decided maybe I’d be better-suited for library work where people seemed to care about people.

Long after I’d left, GQ magazine did an article about Brill. It began something like this, “So, you think your boss is bad?” Here you go: the only thing I’ve ever had published in the print media was a letter to the editor in response to that article. Unfortunately, the editor cut it to pieces. Thus, my letter railing at the media for giving the likes of Steve Brill the time of day sounded like nothing more than a rant from a disgruntled former employee. I stand my ground, though. Why do jerks like Steve Brill and Donald Trump get all the attention in society? Why don’t we see articles in national magazines about the good bosses out there?

I was drawn to think about all this a while back when Bloglily wrote about her job she so loves. She made special note of her perfect boss, and I remember thinking, “could it be there’s more than one perfect boss in the world?” That’s because, for the past three years, I’ve been working for a perfect boss. I am, once again, working at a terrifically fun place, a place where people have a real passion for what they do, where we are all idealistic, where we work hard and have a great time. Her leadership has, of course, contributed to this environment, and it has been invaluable (although I can hear her “aw-shucks-it’s-not-me-it’s-you-guys” response to that echoing in my ear as I type).

Everyone should be fortunate enough to have a boss like this at least once in his or her lifetime, the sort who ought to be featured in the media, the sort who trusts her employees and would never, ever stoop to bullying and demeaning tactics. That’s because she’s wise enough to know that those kinds of tactics don’t engender hard work and loyalty, but it’s also because she’s just too kind. She’s the sort of boss who knows it all but would never let anyone think she knows much of anything. She leaves her employees alone, lets them make their own mistakes, but never lets them fall under her watch, always reaching out both hands to catch them. She doesn’t breathe down anyone’s neck, but if you happen to need her, she will drop everything to help you. Oh yeah, and did I mention, she’s also someone you’d want to know in real life? Someone you’d like to kick back a few beers with and be there when she lights up a room (or a building) with her laugh?

And now, much to my horror, I have to accept the fact that my perfect boss is leaving. Not only is she leaving, but she’s moving all the way across the country. To say I’m not extremely happy for her to have this golden opportunity would be to lie. I am. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that I’m extremely unhappy for those of us left behind. Since this is our last week with her, and we’ve known now for a month that she was leaving, I think I’m beginning to get past the stage at which I want to grab onto her legs and say, “No, don’t go! Don’t leave!” Maybe in another six months or so I’ll be completely through the stage?

Anyway, here’s to L. I was very, very lucky for three years. I wish it had been longer. Meanwhile, based on the tear-filled going-away party I recently attended, I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say she will be missed. Her new company’s gain is our loss. And I hope all those of you reading this post are one day lucky enough to have such a boss.

Friday, July 18, 2008

40 Words Meme

I didn’t realize how a. loquacious and b. indecisive I am until I decided to take on this meme, which I found over at Cam’s. This one really ought to be a challenge rather than a meme. See if you can do it.

Questions to be answered with one word only - and no word can be used twice.

1. Where is your cell phone? Somewhere…
2. Your significant other? Intellectual
3. Your hair? Annoying [isn’t it kind of weird that hair is stuck right in here among loved ones?]
4. Your mother? Kind
5. Your father? Funny
6. Your favorite time of day? Morning, lunch, afternoon, evening, midnight All
7. Your dream last night? Unremembered
8. Your favorite drink? Tea Lemonade Coffee (oh, who am I kidding?) Martini
9. Your dream goal? Simplicity
10. The room you’re in? Airy
11. Your ex? Which?
12. Your fear? Pain
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Relaxed
14. What you are not? Serene
15. Your Favorite meal? Eggs Fruit Pancakes Yogurt Breakfast
16. One of your wish list items? Manhattan
17. The last thing you did? Read
18. Where you grew up? Conservative
19. What are you wearing? Skirt Comfortable Unfashionable
20. Your TV is? Unplugged
21. Your pets? Spoiled Loved
22. Your computer? Necessary
23. Your life? Full
24. Your mood? Bored
25. Missing someone? Always
26. Your car? Prius
27. Something you’re not wearing? Frown
28. Favorite store? Book
29. Your summer? Enlightening
30. Your favorite colour? Green
31. When is the last time you laughed? Everyday
32. When is the last time you cried? Unsure
33. Your health? Hypochondriac
34. Your children? Zero
35. Your future? Maine
36. Your beliefs? Progressive
37. Young or old? Young Old
38. Your image? Angel Sarcastic
39. Your appearance? Unremarkable
40. Would you live your life over again knowing what you know? Cut-version

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Five-Star Lodging

If you’ve been over to Zoë’s Mom’s blog lately, you will know that I spent last Friday night at her place in Connecticut. I was on my way back from a trip up to the office, a very sad trip, because my boss is leaving the company for an opportunity that is not to be refused, and we’re all going to miss her very much. This meant that, for a change, I wasn’t melancholy over the end of my life in Connecticut as I knew it. Instead, I was melancholy over the end of my life at my job as I know it. (This is not to say that things are going to be bad at my job. All the people I work with are extremely bright and talented, and we will continue to publish great stuff, but I will certainly miss the best boss I’ve had thus far in my tenure as a “working girl.”)

Well, let me tell you that if you are feeling slightly melancholic, and it’s a beautiful summer weekend in leafy green Connecticut, you really couldn’t even custom make a better place to say than Zoë’s Mom’s. It's five-star lodging at its best. Especially if you love to cook. Especially if you like to swim (but hate having to take care of a pool. Been there. Done that. Someone else’s beautifully clean and perfectly-temperatured pool is far preferable to the hassles of trying to keep one of your own that way. ZM is smart enough to have done something I never was smart enough to do, which is to hire someone to take care of the pool). Especially if you like the idea of sleeping in a room full of teachers’ editions of math textbooks that you can peruse. Include the added delight of Becky (whose company is always a blast) to the amenities, and I can assure you, it was just what I needed.

You see, ZM has a fabulous kitchen, with one of those big center islands that everyone can sit around, sipping wine, while the cook is busy chopping, dicing, stirring, etc. (oh yeah, and sipping wine herself). And ZM gave the whole thing up to me for the entire evening. I stopped by Trader Joe’s on my way over and picked up the fixings for a spicy (luckily, both Becky and ZM like spicy, as did, judging by the fact that he ate it, ZM’s husband, who joined us late in the evening) pepper, tomato, spaghetti, and cheese casserole. Becky’s a vegetarian, and I love to cook for vegetarians, because I don’t eat a whole lot of meat myself. Ask me to roast beef for you, and I’d be stymied. Ask me to figure out what to do with some tomatoes, and the sky’s the limit. We had a mixed green salad with blue cheese to go with this, and, for dessert, Becky brought her delicious mango upside down cake, the one she wrote about here, which she was afraid was going to be too sweet, because she’d accidentally added too much sugar, but it was just right. Not only was it just right after dinner, but it was also just right the next morning with bagels and coffee. In the midst of all this cooking and eating, I also got to read Zoë a bedtime story, an honor I did not take lightly. (Becky got the honor of helping her build shelters out of things like cardboard tubes and buckets, a task at which six-year-old Zoë proved to be extremely adept, causing us both to muse that if we were stranded on a desert island, or suddenly found ourselves in some nightmare world in which we were contestants on Survivor, we’d want to make sure we had Zoë along with us.)

ZM’s mother is a retired high school math teacher (among other things) who lives with ZM, but she’s been off in Europe, and so her “suite,” as ZM referred to it, was free for me, and that’s where I stayed. I had my own private bathroom, a TV if I’d wanted it, and shelves of math books (plus all kinds of other interesting books). I would have spent lots of time reading, but we were all way too busy talking until midnight, and I was exhausted from my week and long drive, so I pretty much collapsed into bed, despite the fact that Becky, my number one pusher, had presented me with the ARC of Miriam Toews’s new book, as well as the ARC of Robin McKinley’s new book, and Georgette Heyer’s Venetia. I resigned myself to the fact that those would all have to wait, as I slept peacefully under the covers among all those numbers and problems, trapped inside their own covers, surrounding me along the walls.

Saturday morning was swimming after breakfast. Despite our late bedtime, I woke up at 7:00 (funny, because when I had said I planned to sleep in, Becky had said, “You mean what, you’re going to sleep till 7:00, Emily?” You can see I’ve spent a few nights at Becky’s, and she knows what an early riser I am). ZM was up as well, and it wasn’t long before Zoë and Becky joined us. Zoë and I were the only ones who actually went in the pool. Becky was saving her energy for a trip to the gym (virtuous and brave Becky after our decadent night), and ZM was too busy doing things like running off to get bagels and taking Zoë to a birthday party. Becky’s and Zoë’s departures left ZM and me a little time alone in the house to soak up just a bit more relaxation and lots of chatting before I finally faced the reality that I needed to leave.

I have lots of friends in Connecticut who have invited me to stay with them as I travel back and forth, and I’m eager to do so. It’s such a nice way to get to spend quality time with those I miss. However, at this point, it's awfully tempting just to alternate between Becky’s and ZM’s every time, hoping they don't get sick of me and my incessant chatter about books.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Knight in Shining Armor

Sometimes, it’s really interesting to be married to a man who is more of a romantic than I am. I’ve actually always been quite skeptical of the idea that women are the romantic ones, men the practical ones. After all, who were the ones who for centuries were writing all that romantic literature and composing all that romantic music? Certainly not the women, who were too busy having to make sure everyone was fed and clothed in clean and mended clothing and that households were kept tidy and free of things like bugs and cobwebs while men dreamily wrote female characters who were sweet and beautiful and sexy, characters who never had to worry about the baby’s runny nose or varicose veins or whether or not her husband had yet again spent his entire paycheck at the pub, ignoring the six hungry children he’d sired.

This is not to say I’m not romantic. I’m nothing if I’m not an idealist. But I had an interesting conversation with my mother last time I was visiting her about Georgette Heyer. I’ve been intrigued by Heyer recently, mainly because quite a few of you have been writing about her, and I was reading Cousin Kate, my first ever Georgette Heyer, while I was visiting my parents (which for the record, my sister Lindsay tells me is not the one to read first, since it’s a rare Gothic romance, not one of the regencies for which she is so well-known. But where else would someone like me start if not with a Gothic one, even if not her best work?). My sisters and mother have always read Heyer, returning to her again and again for comfort reading, and my mother surprised me on this visit by saying, “I just don’t think you’re going to like her very much.” This was all the more surprising, because I hadn’t yet told her that, although I’d been enjoying Cousin Kate, it hadn’t quite been as captivating as I’d thought it would be.

Right now, I’m not feeling that Heyer (after reading only one of hers) is to romance what Margery Allingham (after reading only one of hers) is to mystery. Granted, I’m not much of a romance reader (okay, I’m not a romance reader at all, except for some chick lit writers – and I’m very picky about them -- or when I’m suffering from insomnia in the middle of the night and want something that won’t tax my brain too much) and never have been, but I couldn’t let my mother get away with that without asking her why. Her response was, “You’re just not all that romantic.” I immediately protested that I am. I consider myself to be quite romantic in the true sense of the word, not necessarily in the Hollywood sense, of course, but I’m someone who is all about the fullness of living and nature and experiencing everything as much as possible through all five senses. “Oh, I know,” my mother quickly agreed, “but not romantic in the sense that you ever expect men to come along and be saviors.”

Well, my hackles immediately lay themselves back down, because I knew she was absolutely right about that. If I were a character from a fairytale, I’d be the princess in the tower who would have broken an arm and a leg trying to escape on my own, because who else is going to save me if I don’t save myself? When my knight in shining armor finally arrived on the scene, I’d look up at him and say, “Well, it’s about time. If you hadn’t been so hell-bent on figuring out the answer to that Troll’s question and had taken the road over the other bridge, despite the fact that road is longer, you still would have gotten here sooner, and maybe my arm and leg would both still be in one piece. And look at you! You’re a mess. Can’t you see you need new boots? You’re about to wear a hole in the toes. Is that the only sword you’ve got?” Then I’d insist he take a shower and polish his armor and make sure he looked at least halfway decent when we went out to meet the adoring public, so glad their knight had found his princess. (You can see why I didn’t exactly have men lined up, knocking down my door for dates when I was single.)

This is not to say I’m not someone who has tears streaming down her cheeks, as I recently mentioned, when she reads Frances’s eighth-grade graduation scene in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And it’s not to say that I don’t relish L’Morte d’Arthur when I read it, or that Wordsworth and Shelley leave me cold. It’s merely to say that I’m not exactly convinced that the average member of the opposite sex is any more competent than I.

Bob, on the other hand, strongly believes that as a man and my spouse, his job is to be my savior. Thus, whenever anything goes wrong in my life, he must try to fix it. He’s also extremely overprotective. Don’t ever hurt me and let him find out about it (in fact, don’t let him even think you might have hurt me in some way).

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this sort of pairing would make a great movie, one that would have people howling with laughter. In real life, though, it’s only comical in retrospect. In real life, being someone who longs to be saved, who doesn’t want to do it all on her own, who believes her husband can truly save her, would probably be a much better thing for me to be with a husband like Bob. I’m way too skeptical ever just to let him come to my rescue, though, and he’s been hurt many a time by my rejection of his attempts to do so. The truth of the matter is that often I do need rescuing. I very often can’t see the best way out of a bad situation when he can. However, the flip side of that coin is that I very often am capable of rescuing myself, sometimes seeing the situation better than he does. And I am perfectly capable of confronting others when they’ve wronged me and then forgiving and forgetting. I don’t really need a personal body guard to fight my battles for me.

I’m thinking about doing a little experiment, though. Maybe I’m going to designate a certain number of problems to him for which I’m going to ask for his advice and then follow that advice exactly as he presents it. I’m going to squash all my natural tendencies to say, “Oh, that just won’t work or help because of (x, y, z),” and see if it really does. Maybe I’ll learn something. Maybe he’ll learn something. Maybe we’ll both learn something After all, isn’t that what marriage should be all about?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The 100 Modern Classic Movies Meme

Noble Savage ventured far and wide, over rough seas, through treacherous forests, across barren deserts, and atop the highest mountains to bring this meme back to the Queen o' Memes. She’s about to be thrown in the dungeon for her efforts, because she has most definitely proven that the Old Queen, who claims never to have seen any movies, is nothing but a liar. As a matter of fact, if one compares the typical number of books she's read on any of those book lists memes to the number of movies seen on this list, one would get the idea that the Queen spends more time in theaters than reading books.

Anyway, here you go. The directions are to bold the titles you’ve seen.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994) – still think John Travolta’s and Uma Thurman’s dance scene is one of the best modern movie dance scenes ever
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03) – yep, seen them all, despite my dislike of Tolkien (it’s called having a husband who doesn’t like to go to the movies alone). Must say, I loved them all. If only I could say the same about the books.
3. Titanic (1997) -- best part of that movie is the beginning when the submersible goes down and tours the wreckage of the real Titanic. The rest is ridiculous. Greatest love story with only one night of love? Give me a break.
4. Blue Velvet (1986) – so very disturbing, but so very well done. I can still visualize scenes from that one, and I haven’t seen it since it came out.
5. Toy Story (1995) – I love Buzz Lightyear
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998 ) – a little predictable and typecast, but still, I enjoyed it when I saw it
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) – I know I saw it, but I don’t remember a thing about it
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – still scares me to death, and I’ve seen it numerous times
9. Die Hard (1988 ) – I hate Bruce Willis, but that didn’t keep me from watching this one, years ago, when my roommates brought it home one night
10. Moulin Rouge (2001) – thought I hated it at first, ended up loving it by the end
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) – I know, I know. I can’t believe I haven’t seen it either
12. The Matrix (1999) – had no interest in seeing it; was coerced by husband; fell hook, line, and sinker into how cool it was
13. GoodFellas (1990) – another one I barely remember, except for odd things like the slicing of the garlic while cooking in prison (that was Goodfellas, right?)
14. Crumb (1995) – never even heard of it
15. Edward Scissorhands (1990) – didn’t everyone who was in love with Johnny Depp in 1990 see this one?
16. Boogie Nights (1997)
17. Jerry Maguire (1996) – despite the fact I hate Tom Cruise, I really liked this one
18. Do the Right Thing (1989) – seeing this movie was the right thing to do when it came out
19. Casino Royale (2006) – what fun!
20. The Lion King (1994) – saw it, and then dragged Bob to see it on a date, in the days before I was completely anti-Disney
21. Schindler’s List (1993) – this was what Bob and I saw on our first date, which tells you all you need to know about us
22. Rushmore (1998 )
23. Memento (2001) – such a fascinating movie for someone like me who is obsessed with the brain and how it works
24. A Room With a View (1986) – saw it, but again, don’t remember a thing about it
25. Shrek (2001)
26. Hoop Dreams (1994)
27. Aliens (1986) – what about Alien? Anyway, seen both. I like Alien better.
28. Wings of Desire (1988 )
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
30. When Harry Met Sally… (1989) – despite the fact I don’t like either Meg Ryan or Billy Crystal much, I’d still watch this one if I were flicking through the channels and found it was on. I just love it.
31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
32. Fight Club (1999)
33. The Breakfast Club (1985) – one of the few teen movies I really like

34. Fargo (1996) – sort of. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it.
35. The Incredibles (2004) – just plain fun
36. Spider-Man 2 (2004) – haven’t seen this, but I did see Spider Man. Again, why Spider Man 2 and not Spider Man 1?
37. Pretty Woman (1990) – see the part about flicking through channels under “When Harry Met Sally” I do like both Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, though.
38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – had no idea what to expect but probably consider this to be my favorite movie of the past few years
39. The Sixth Sense (1999) – completely surprised me, and I still love it
40. Speed (1994) – saw it, but again, barely remember a thing except ridiculous maneuvers on a speeding bus that no one in real life would survive
41. Dazed and Confused (1993) – wanted to, but never did
42. Clueless (1995)
43. Gladiator (2000) – another for the “husband-coerced-me-into-watching-it-and-liked-it-more-
than-I-Thought-I-Would” list

44. The Player (1992)
45. Rain Man (1988 ) – liked it, but it was the movie that made me decide Tom Cruise just plays the same character over and over
46. Children of Men (2006) – really, really good and one of the few movies I’ve seen without reading the book first. Gotta read this one some time.
47. Men in Black (1997) – saw it, but don’t remember it
48. Scarface (1983)
49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – loved it, loved it, loved it, loved it. Oh, and did I say: I loved this one?

50. The Piano (1993) – enjoyed it, but was not as blown away by it as everyone else. I like Holly Hunter better when she speaks (love that Southern drawl she hasn’t been forced to lose).
51. There Will Be Blood (2007) – don’t even know what this is. See? I am out of it, really, when it comes to movies.
52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988 ) – yes, but these movies (Airplane, Naked Gun, etc.) all run together for me
53. The Truman Show (1998 ) – extremely interesting premise
54. Fatal Attraction (1987) – very annoying, but that didn’t keep me from seeing it twice
55. Risky Business (1983) – before I knew Tom Cruise was going to play the same character in every movie
56. The Lives of Others (2006) – oh wait a minute, maybe THIS was the best movie of the last few years. Brilliant. Just flat out brilliant. What all movies ought to be.
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998) – was stared at by grouchy old lady in the movie theater who didn’t seem to understand how I could practically be rolling around in the aisles (have no idea why she went to see it)

58. Ghostbusters (1984) – again, don’t remember much, and I know I’ve seen it more than once (well, we drank a lot and did a lot of drugs when I was in college)
59. L.A. Confidential (1997) – again, don’t remember it (and by then, I was way past the drinking a lot and doing a lot of drugs stage. Must be all the brain cells I killed in college)
60. Scream (1996)
61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
62. sex, lies and videotape (1989) – has anyone ever been sexier than James Spader in that movie? I love this one and have seen it numerous times.
63. Big (1988) – still think it’s a cute movie

64. No Country For Old Men (2007) – I really want to read the book first before I see this one
65. Dirty Dancing (1987) – second, third, fourth, etc. best dance scenes ever in a modern movie (after Pulp Fiction)
66. Natural Born Killers (1994) – hated it. Don’t know why we went to see it (oh yeah, husband had read great review somewhere)
67. Donnie Brasco (1997) -- never heard of it
68. Witness (1985) -- must see it again now that I’m living where it was filmed

69. All About My Mother (1999) – thought it was going to be funny, which it wasn’t at all. Still thought it was great.
70. Broadcast News (1987) – now here’s a Holly Hunter film that I love
71. Unforgiven (1992) – but don’t remember a whole lot
72. Thelma & Louise (1991) – is there any woman my age who hasn’t seen it?

73. Office Space (1999) – again, never heard of it
74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)- meaning to for years but never seem to get around to it
75. Out of Africa (1985) – I just remember the fabulous scenery and the sexy way everyone smoked (or so it seemed)
76. The Departed (2006) – didn’t expect to like it as much as I did (that seems to be a common theme, doesn’t it?)

77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – only due to a date (which is why I saw the first one as well), not because I had any interest. I must say, unlike some movies I was dragged to on dates that held no interest for me (think most Clint Eastwood movies), these I liked.
79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
81. Moonstruck (1987) – more than once. I love Nicholas Cage and Cher.

82. Lost in Translation (2003) – terrific, terrific, terrific
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
84. Sideways (2004) – so funny! And it made me wish I knew more about wine
85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) – accidentally. It was on TV one night when we were flicking through channels at my father-in-law's house right after he died, and we decided to watch it. Turned out not to be so bad.
86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002) – no, but want to. I had this one confused with All About My Mother when I decided to watch it
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
91. Back to the Future (1985) – still think it’s great fun, despite a lot of flaws

92. Menace II Society (1993)
93. Ed Wood (1994)
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987) – despite my love of Stanley Kubrick. Just couldn’t stomach yet another war movie, especially having a pretty good idea what Kubrick might do with a war movie
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002)
97. Glory (1989)
98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – scared the crap out of me

100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

And here’s my big question: where, oh where, is Cinema Paradiso? Surely it’s a modern classic. I mean, it’s one of my all-time-favorite films. And what abut Babe? Or A Fish Called Wanda? I mean, Natural Born Killer over these? However, I'm very glad to see that Oliver Stone doesn't dominate the list.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Yeas and Nays, January through June 2008

I’ve read so, so many good books thus far this year that it’s almost impossible for me to choose a mere six, which is what I’ve done the past couple of years (my theory being six books for the first six months of the year and then six for the second half). Thus, I’m giving you a spare one this go-around. Still, I feel bad to have left out quite a few others. Oh well, they can’t all be favorites, can they?

So here they are, six (plus one) favorite reads of the first half of 2008 (alphabetically by title):

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Hold on a second. I’ll tell you a little something about this book when I’m done building this section of my shrine to John Connolly. There. That second golden arrow is now in place. So, remember the first time you ever read [fill in the blank here. For me it was The Phantom Tollbooth] at age [10], and you were completely transported to another world in which you were so immersed you forgot your own name? When you finally came out of it, you told everyone, “This is the best book ever!” Well, Connolly knows exactly how you felt. Better yet, he knows exactly how to make you feel that way again (well, except you won’t tell anyone it’s the “best book ever,” because we adults don’t do such things, right?). I have no idea how he does it. Read this book, please, and see if you can tell me how. Warning to would-be readers, though: Bob was not nearly as enamored of this one as I was, and I had expected he would be. However, if you loved the movie Pan's Labyrinth, chances are you'll at least like this one.

Eustace and Hilda by L. P. Hartley
I already waxed poetic about this one here, and then, sort of, again here. Still, I could probably write another entire post (or two) on it, because I forgot to say a lot. For instance, Eustace sometimes resembled Walter Mitty for me. And Lady Nelly is one of my favorite sorts of characters – the family member who raises others’ eyebrows, does whatever she wants, and still draws people to her. And it made me want to walk along the coast of England, something I haven’t done in years, and to spend a month in Venice, something I’ve never done. And did I mention it’s everything in one: psychological, philosophical, funny, heartbreaking, and brilliantly executed? (Oh yes, I think maybe I did.) So good, I finished the library copy and had to order my own (sort of, it was a "gift for Bob." Maybe he'll like it better than The Book of Lost Things).

Fun Home by Allison Bechdel
Ssshhh. We have to be very quiet while discussing this one. Uh-oh. Too late. My inner book snob just woke up and is so appalled and pissed to find a graphic memoir on this list, she’s declared she’s not speaking to me. I must say, it’s nice to have silenced her. I think she was off in the library boning up on reading ancient texts in their original languages the day I wrote this.

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski
You know how sometimes you read a book by an author and decide it’s so perfect you can’t read anything else by him or her, because you’re bound to be disappointed? That’s how I’ve felt about The Victorian Chaise-longue since reading it a few years ago. Then, at the urging of pushers friends (one of whom was Becky, who lent it to me), I went ahead and read this one. Now I’m saying, “Bring on more Laski.” I dare you to read this book and to get to the last page without saying, “Oh. My. God.” (And no cheating. This is a book that ought to come with some sort of electric shocking device to zap those who turn to the last page and read it when they’re only halfway through the book.)

I See By My Outfit by Peter S. Beagle
Boys will be boys, which means they’ll do things like pair up with each other as Beagle did with his friend Phil Sigunick in the (what must have been coldest on record, by this account) spring of 1963, to ride motor scooters from New York City to San Francisco. And sometimes, girls just love to watch them, especially when they’re the sort of boys who can make us laugh really hard, while also touching our sentimental sides. This girl wanted to jump on the backs of their scooters and ride along with them to meet all those interesting people, eat all that food (well, not all of it, but on those days when people were being kind and feeding them well), and listen to them play borrowed guitars while everyone around them sang. Someone please volunteer to be the person to keep reminding me every so often to read some more Beagle.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This book impressed thirteen-year-old Emily no end by being the first book about humans, not animals, to make her cry. Twenty-one years later, it still made me cry. And I don’t mean just a lump in my throat. I mean real tears on my cheeks. I’m glad to know the thirteen-year-old me understood enough – despite most of this book being so very foreign to life as she knew it – to cry. If you’ve never read it, you’re in for a beautiful, heart-breaking treat when you get around to it.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
My dear Pusher #2 was absolutely right: this just may be Sedaris’s best yet. Don’t read it while you’re eating, unless you’re accompanied by someone well-acquainted with the Heimlich maneuver. Don’t read it in public places unless you relish the idea of complete strangers whipping out their cell phones and dialing 911 to report someone rolling around on the floor in an epileptic fit. I’m glad that Sedaris is gay and I’m married. Otherwise, I’d have a much harder time keeping that thirteen-year-old-Emily from wiping the Tree-Grows-in-Brooklyn tears off her face and writing the sorts of fan letters she loves to write, the ones full of such profound sentences as, “You are SO-O-O funny!” Or “I can’t believe we are so much alike! I’m from North Carolina, too. I was a hobo for Halloween last year. Isn’t it all too weird?!” Then I’d have to buy a poster for my wall and rename my teddy bear David after him.

Now, for those of you who are going to chide me for adding to their TBR lists/piles/tomes, I’m adding a new feature this year. Here are six books I could have done without and that you can probably do without, as well:

Beat Not the Bones by Charlotte Jay
A perfect example of a stellar premise completely ruined by poor execution. This is the book to pick up at 1:30 a.m. if your goal is to get back to sleep. If you want to know more about how much I didn’t like it, you can take a look here.

Friends and Relations by Elizabeth Bowen
Life really is just way too short to be wasted on books that one only continues reading because she is desperately seeking the humor, insight, and magnificent character development promised by the back cover copy and the critics. It’s also probably too short to bother with reading my full take on this one here, but feel free to do so if you're into wasting time.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red by Joyce Reardon (really Ridley Pearson)
Why oh why oh why didn’t I abandon this one? Perhaps because the first third of the book was quite well-written and intriguing. Then it crumbled and became more than absurd. It could have been so good if only Pearson had known the meaning of the word “subtle.” Instead, it just fell apart and became laughable. I think, when it comes to Pearson, I’m going to have to break my “give every author two chances” rule.

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
Here was a story that was definitely unique and interesting enough that I could forgive the shoddy writing, but Picoult is so annoying. This is the second book of hers I couldn’t put down while reading. It garnered great conversations between Bob and me. Yet, I found myself, once again, constantly wanting to shake her and to say, “Just tell the story. It’s a good one. You’ve got a great imagination. Quit trying to write like [fill in the blank with your favorite female literary writer] when you can’t.” Most of all, though, I wanted to say, “Listen to your characters when they take you in a different direction, instead of forcing them to fit into your original plot.” And then there are her non-existent editors and proofreaders. Don’t get me started there.

The Seasoning of a Chef by Doug Psaltis with Michael Psaltis
Here was a story that most definitely was not unique and interesting enough that I could forgive the shoddy writing. If you’re looking for an Anthony Bourdain wannabe who isn’t, this is the book for you. I really did try, because it’s been quite sometime since I read a good “food and chef-ing” book, but it was like trying to learn to like sun-dried tomatoes. It just wasn’t going to happen.

The Wonderful World of Indian Cookery by Rohini Singh
Unless you were born with a cardamom pod in one hand and curry leaves in the other, this book will teach you very little about how to cook Indian food in your American kitchen. And the editor of this one should be ashamed to bear that title. Again, my full take, if you’re interested, is here.

And finally, some news. I haven't succumbed to MySpace or FaceBook yet, despite invitations from friends. However, Marissa did manage to entice me to, where I am now keeping track of books I read. This has been a great solution to the "should I or shouldn't I keep an ongoing list on my blog?" question that I just have never been able to answer. I've already invited those of you who are in my gmail address book, but for anyone else who might be interested, just send me an email, and I'll send you an invite.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wanted: More Women Above the Glass Ceiling

There are more women running FORTUNE 500 companies this year than there were last year. Currently, 10 FORTUNE 500 companies are run by women* (up from 9 last year), and a total of 20 FORTUNE 1000 companies have women in the top job (up from 19).


Gee. Wow! I bet women of the world are all tempted to drag out some vintage bottles of champagne and celebrate. 2% of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were women, up from a whopping 1.8% the year before. What year was this? 1900? 1935? Maybe 1975? Nope, the year was 2006. That’s pretty pathetic, huh? But it’s even more pathetic when one forgets all the obvious reasons this is infuriating (old boy networks, rampant sexism in the corporate world, equal opportunity employment being a sham, etc.) and concentrates instead on the more practical reasons we need to change this statistic and need to change it now (before I’m too old to appreciate it). I mean, certain sorts of companies just beg to have women in charge, and yet, year after year, it’s the men who make it to the top.

Let me provide you with a few examples:

Advertising Agencies

Sick and tired of women’s bodies being used to sell everything from beer to life insurance? Or maybe you’re disgusted by the fact that the majority of models and actors chosen to sell food and cooking items or household cleaners are females (usually females portrayed in far more unflattering lights than those selling beer). Let’s get some women at the top of those advertising agencies and get men in the laundry room complaining about “ring around the collar.”

Computer Companies

The notion of “speed” at a female-run computer company would incorporate more than just making programs that can run three nanoseconds faster than its earlier version, which is a whole two nanoseconds faster than the other guys’ program. “Speed” would take into account ease-of-use. At a female-run computer company, thought might be given to the fact that a nanosecond saved sending one gag joke across the world via this computer rather than via that one, is going to be lost, if it takes thirty minutes to figure out such counter-intuitive things as a “shut down” button secretly hidden behind a “start” button or that if one accidentally hits a couple of wrong keys (keys that are typically placed right in the spot where a person’s fingers are most likely to be), he or she can end up with hours’ worth of work trying to undo the mysterious red line that now streaks through the center of his or her document. A computer company run by a female CEO would make sure its computers could easily transfer old material from one computer to a new one and that the old computer (no matter how old) could then be recycled, so that basements around the world would no longer be caves for hardware dinosaurs and their fossils.

Frozen Food Companies

Let’s face it: women need and want the convenience of frozen foods. However, with men running the industry, they’re not getting the kinds of frozen foods they want, which for the majority of the women I know would mean nutritious, well-balanced meals, free of such things as trans-fats, MSG, and more salt than the Atlantic Ocean. My guess is that a woman CEO would not allow the dumping of such things into her frozen foods. She’d, herself, want to eat healthy food, and she’d want those foods to be tasty. No more fish sticks that taste like cardboard. I mean, when I freeze leftovers, they taste the way they did when I made the food, not like the containers in which I froze them. I bet frozen food companies could figure out how to do that, too, if women ran the show.

Publishing Companies

Apparently, according to articles I’ve read on the topic, more women read and buy books than men do, especially fiction. Yet, the majority of the CEOs in the publishing industry are men. That makes about as much sense as employing mostly female coaches for professional football teams, when the majority of those who watch and play football are male. The men, at this point, seem to be running the publishing industry into the ground. All reports coming from the industry seem to be nothing but doom and gloom. Why don’t we try putting more women at the top and seeing what they can do about that?

Vacuum Cleaner Companies

Really, no woman in her right mind would allow the release of any vacuum cleaner that isn’t as light as a beach ball, cordless with a charge that lasts two weeks, and that doesn’t have the suction capacity of a black hole. A vacuum cleaner designed by women engineers and approved by a female CEO would know the difference between a carpet and a shoelace that happens to get in its way, and would ignore the shoelace. The XX-chromosome vacuum would not have 10 useless attachments that do nothing but fall off the base of the machine when it goes over the slightest bump in the floor. All attachments would be the correct size to maximize surface area on real-live living room and kitchen floors and furniture rather than the floors and furniture of Barbie’s’ Beachside Condo, and they would bend and flex in amazing ways to get into every single nook and cranny. Oh yes, and I almost forgot. This vacuum cleaner would be silent.

You know, the more I think about it, the more this list could go on endlessly, so I guess I’ll just stop here. Feel free to pick up where I’ve left off, though, and imagine a world in which women ran the automobile industry, the cell phone industry, the furniture industry, etc. Companies at least ought to have plenty of female consultants. I mean, what makes those who’ve been complaining for centuries that they “just can’t figure out what women want” think they can possibly provide the goods women want without some female leadership? I imagine their jobs would be much simpler if they didn’t have to do quite so much guessing.

Cross-posted here.