Monday, September 26, 2011

More From Mindy

I never go for chick flicks. And I admit, I think it sounds edgier and smarter to denounce them. I can't remember that last time I saw one, but I do recognize the female archetypes that Mindy Kaling describes for us in The New Yorker this week on Flick Chicks.

Mindy, please return to Thinkscope VisionCloud and write us a movie. It can be a RomCom/Chick Flick. I'd watch it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mindy Kaling

Why do I love Mindy Kaling? Is it because she is "Indian-American" (like me) and somewhat of an overachiever (unlike moi, but you know, I get it because of the Indian-American thing), took Latin (like me) is not a doctor, lawyer, or MBA (like me), is still insanely funny and smart (not me), and not at all creepy (definitely me)? Isn't it awesome that all this makes me love her and not hate her? Because you know, for the most part, we all love to hate the people we wish we were. But not Mindy. I always thought she was funny on The Office, then discovered she was one of the writers, then began following her blog "Things That I Bought that I Love" (could this be any more simple and poignant, my dear 20 and 30-something female friends?), and then quite frankly, forgot about her for a while. She shows up from time to time on late night television and the red carpet wearing outfits I both love and yet want to advise her not to wear. I happened to read this NYT piece today (I had no idea that she is "the No. 1 girl crush of the irreverent “celebrity, sex, fashion” Web site Jezebel") and thought to myself, oh yeah - HER! I love HER. Not in a creepy Twitter-follower kind of way (even though I know millions of people do it and no one thinks it's creepy, I do), just in an ah, she's refreshing kind of way and I wish she were my cool friend who is more like me than anyone else I know, except, more successful, and well, cool.

A la Tina Fey, Mindy is coming out with a book in November, titled "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)." Honestly, I don't get why Mindy isn't more popular and why I haven't yet heard about this news. The NYT article is fairly accurate in stating that "Kaling freely acknowledges the central contradiction of her career thus far, which is that she is a smart, ambitious woman who has excelled in the still-macho arena of comedy at the same time that she’s most widely recognized for playing the part of a materialistic, ditzy customer-service rep named Kelly Kapoor." Sure, Fey has had the visibility of SNL for a number of years (let's not forget that she could've campaigned as Sarah Palin herself), and now, the smash hit that is 30 Rock. Maybe it's because Fey is decidedly always making fun of herself for being an awkward, geeky, funny woman who doesn't mean or care to be frivolous and feminine, but it's just not something I can relate to as easily. Basically, in all her honest humor, sometimes I still think Fey is frontin'. Mindy (Kelly? Confused now...) seems a bit more genuine/raw to me and yet never misses a beat. I can see her debating over essentially the same shades of lipstick (if she even wears lipstick) for two hours like I do. I can see her spilling guacamole or hot sauce on her expensive red carpet-wear. I can see why she would want hair extensions for an episode of The Office in which she appears. She admits that she buys things, and admits that she loves them. I know this all sounds lame. It is. I don't have celebrity/famous anything - I didn't pursue Fey's "Bossy Pants," and I don't even read People (I read the Huffington Post Entertainment section - also lame). But the fact that her interviews make me laugh out loud has gotten me to consider purchasing her book.

I'll probably forget about this come November when her book is out, unless it has really good publicity, but I still love Mindy and I'm sure I'll remember her again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Aging Gracefully, Your Way, My Way, Everyone's Way

Since convulsing over the NYT article "Aging the French Way, Gracefully" I've been trying to compose a calm and thoughtful response. Mostly, only one word kept running through my mind:


Maybe 3 words - total, utter BS.

As honest as this response is, I suppose I'm capable of expressing something more intelligently, so here is a contained ramble on what is wrong with this journalist's point of view. I could tear this article apart line-by-line, but I've highlighted the most ridiculous ones. If my critique isn't gratifying enough, or if you just want to read more, check out the Jezebel response - "Our Weird National Girl-Crush on French Women Continues."

"Looking attractive, at any age, is just what Frenchwomen do, especially the urban ones." Oh, is that what Frenchwomen do? Excuse me for not receiving this global memo. I'm not quite sure why the French have ever had a monopoly over being stylish and beautiful, let alone why anyone should emulate them. Is there some French Beauty Ideal I should know about? I thought we made fun of the French for not showering or shaving their armpits? Sure, they may have a certain knack for interesting style, but you could say the same for women in many a cosmopolitan city across the globe. As commentators in the Jezebel piece pointed out, the Parisian emphasis on being thin, fashionable, and fabulous is no different from a similar emphasis in New York City. Perhaps women around the globe have style that is a little more bold and colorful than Americans', but one can hard generalize such things.

"We look at actresses like Juliette Binoche, 46, or politicians like Ségolène Royal, 56, or superstars like Catherine Deneuve, 66, and figure that they must have special insights into the “maturation” process." Do we? I don't. When it comes to aging specifically, I don't think I see any more examples of aging well among the French compared to other countries/cultures and am confused as to why women elsewhere should strive to be like them. I'm also confused as to why French celebrities serve as good examples, since celebrities everywhere can afford to do a number of things that the average woman cannot. According to this article, Frenchwomen apparently prefer more natural, subtle results from cosmetic surgery and other enhancements than American women, but I'm not sure how much that matters when they are using the same tools.

"A survey by the market research company Mintel found that 33 percent of French girls between 15 and 19 are already using anti-aging or anti-wrinkle creams. " Frenchwomen really have something on everyone else because teenagers start early by using anti-aging skincare? Sounds like clever marketing to me - I don't see any culturally-specific traditions or conventions about good skincare and aging well here.

"The No. 1 response to my informal survey of Frenchwomen about the years of magical aging is not gaining weight. Ever." Isn't that lovely? If a culture truly accepts aging and women are encouraged to do so "gracefully," than I would think a little inevitable weight gain should be alright. It has always bothered me that maintaining some arbitrary weight from say, your 20s or 30s is what defines the right way to age. What about these things called genes and childbirth?

In any case, the issue isn't what the results of this informal survey were. The author's statements are so general and silly that no one can take them seriously, and the notion that the French have a uniquely healthy approach to aging is pretty far-fetched. Certainly, there are other cultures with similar attitudes (cultures that arguably age far better than the French and most of the Western cultures combined, but that is a whole other topic for discussion). Unfortunately, I don't think any culture has been able to establish a truly healthy approach to aging. Everywhere, there is a premium on looking young that is defined by the very phrase "aging gracefully," and the value placed on it. What else does this mean but to prolong youth and age at a snail's pace? This focus on the French also reflects a strong bias for Western ideals of beauty, and I'm surprised that she didn't even attempt a more multi-cultural perspective. Perhaps we could learn from some non-Western cultures where older women age not only gracefully, but maybe even fabulously and without medicine cabinets as chock full of products as the French.

To be fair, the author makes a feeble attempt at challenging the notion that Frenchwomen age more gracefully than American women. But it is based on rising obesity rates in France, 2 famous Frenchwomen who have not aged well, and 1 Frenchwoman's praise for Meryl Streep. And while the article does point out that the French (or at least, Parisian) don't seem to exercise, it also suggests that they simply don't have to because the streets of Paris are oh-so conducive to walking. So let me defend the American woman for a moment (and the non-walking cities of America), since everyone bashes our apparently unhealthy, ignorant, and unfashionable ways. Here's to high school sports, Jane Fonda videos, gym memberships, and strip-tease workout sessions. There is always an extreme and the American obsession with being fit and fab is not without fault, but at least we value the beauty benefits of a good jog just as much as being thin - score!

With a focus on beauty in such narrow, culturally-specific terms, broad generalizations, and a lack of nuance, this article comes off as extremely irrelevant and dated, a la a 1950s issue of Vogue or Redbook. Then it abruptly ends with a warm-fuzzy statement about mind over matter and completely ignores the last few paragraphs about haircuts, diet pills, skincare, and exercise. A poorer article from the NYT I could not have imagined.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

64 More Ways to Eat Food

As if we need any more! Seriously, when did eating get so hard? And when it's not hard, well, it's way too easy. I'm not an advocate of diets or diet rules, because everyone is different, but I do appreciate Michael Pollan's simple and humorous writing on the food industry and health. Who can forget "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."? Pollan has come up with a tiny little guide filled with similar, memorable advice to guide you through the grocery store and your eating life. Read more about Food Rules in this NYT interview with Tara Parker-Pope.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where In the World Is Sumania

I really can't believe that my last few (and ancient) posts were about all things urban and health care reform - who was I kidding? I fill my time with far more frivolous thoughts and activities to leave everyone so bored. I appreciate it if you were actually interested in any of last posts, but I must admit that the whole thing left me feeling quite uninspired for the last, oh, 4 months.

I may have been on some quest to make note of the more serious things that interest and inspire me, but then I quickly realized that I am so bored most of the time that serious just won't do. This revelation might have something to do with the fact that I have been in somewhat of an existential funk about the meaning of my life (or lack thereof), and am waiting to discover the Matrix or something. Whatever I normally have to share seemed, in short, completely and utterly ridiculous.

To my credit, I have been rather busy with these minor little hobbies called a full-time job and a part-time Master's degree program. I had completely run out of steam by September - any thoughts or stories that I could have shared sputtered and died before I could spit them out.

If this seems like one big, lame-apology of a post that still isn't saying much, well, it is. Just trying to get my creative juices flowing again, especially since I have a nice, long winter break from school to look forward to, and get psyched about talking to myself in the blogosphere.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Urban: The Vertical Farm

Sounds so Jetsonian, doesn't it? This wonderfully quirky and interesting professor once gave a guest lecture on this topic, and I was sort of hooked. I've been meaning to read up on Despommier's work every since, and was pleasantly surprised to see an op-ed by him in the NYT today. Read more about A Farm On Every Floor.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

Despite my declaration today that I don't really like talking about healthcare, I did think this would be a helpful site for people to take a look at and receive some sort of reality check in case they are having nightmares about "socialized" medicine and the government plotting with Pinky to take over the world:

Health Insurance Reform Reality Check

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