"Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A’s in English class. (There are exceptions, but they often also seem to be exceptions to the general writerly habit of putting off writing as long as possible.) At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion. Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks. These are the kids who turned in a completed YA novel for their fifth-grade project. It isn’t that they never failed, but at a very early age, they didn’t have to fail much; their natural talents kept them at the head of the class.

This teaches a very bad, very false lesson: that success in work mostly depends on natural talent. Unfortunately, when you are a professional writer, you are competing with all the other kids who were at the top of their English classes. Your stuff may not—indeed, probably won’t—be the best anymore.

If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end."

Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators - Megan McArdle - The Atlantic

The Why Writing Is So Hard field of psychology is very interesting to me.

(via amyelizabeth)

(via hughdancydance)



It’s Teenpop Friday! We kick things off with the post all you anticipators anticipate-pate-pate-pate-pated…


Sabina Tang: This is what bothers me about Taylor in her twenties: the self-image she communicates hasn’t kept up with her growing privilege and reach. Taylor tended to present as the awkward, uncool, normal-ish kid — not popular or bullied but sidelined — even though she was objectively blonde/thin/gorgeous and a multi-platinum selling songwriting prodigy. At one point it seemed like she would knowingly complexify this stance (eg. the “You Belong With Me” video), but now it’s like… “I dance badly like a normal white girl! Indie boys will never think I’m hip! I am so surprised I won another award!” I know this is projection, by the way. Celebrity h8 is embarrassingly revealing about the h8er and says little about the celebrity. Here’s what I hope this gut reaction says about me: I’m wary of people who position themselves as the underdog, the more so if it’s unconscious. The world is a riot of ladders, and one can be at top and bottom simultaneously — one can stand on the next-to-top rung and still look up. The worst shit in the world happens because people believe they’re still punching up when they’re punching down or sideways. Taylor Swift is not the worst, but in retrospect it’s easy to be wise and big-picture and only a little bit acid when you’re 16 and life hasn’t really happened. Eventually, things have to go wrong not only because h8rs like me say this or that, or indie boys are objectively terrible, but because you fucked up. If you can shake it off, you can afford to be generous, or at least to model generosity in a pop ditty. No such relaxation yet, though; she still cares too much about not caring that she’s uncool. God, 24 is a ungracious age, isn’t it? I’ll check back again in two years.


[Read, comment and vote on The Singles Jukebox ]

OK, here it is properly. I didn’t actually talk about the song itself much qua song, but I figured others would do it, and they did. (If literally anyone is reading this on my Tumblr of all places and is interested in Taylor Swift but not actually a TSJ contributor, click on the link — there are a lot of blurbs for your perusal.) It’s a fairly solid [7] and has been earworming me at intervals all day.

The next person on the list I have two years’ worth of backlogged unspoken opinion on is Stevie Nicks STAY TUNED


The Jukebox is behind on its Tumblr-ing, because we’ve been busy, including contributing 24 blurbs on the subject of “Shake It Off.” The one most worth reading is Sabina’s, which I will quote here:

This is what bothers me about Taylor in her twenties: the self-image she communicates hasn’t kept up with her growing privilege and reach. Taylor tended to present as the awkward, uncool, normal-ish kid — not popular or bullied but sidelined — even though she was objectively blonde/thin/gorgeous and a multi-platinum selling songwriting prodigy… The world is a riot of ladders, and one can be at top and bottom simultaneously — one can stand on the next-to-top rung and still look up. The worst shit in the world happens because people believe they’re still punching up when they’re punching down or sideways.

I’ve been thinking about this song — the video, truthfully — all week, but I limited my blurb to the song itself (mostly). Then when I read Sabina’s I thought she had articulated a point I was having trouble with; but if y’all will bear with me, I’d like to elaborate a little further.

First, I don’t actually think the main problem with “Shake It Off” is racism. Yes, we have White Girl Failing at Twerking, but that’s after we see White Girl Failing at Ballet, White Girl Failing at Breakdance, and White Girl Failing at Rhythmic Gymnastics. Twerking is a form of dance, not an example of black women doing the crazy sexualized things that black women do. As far as backdrops-for-Taylor-Swift go, ballet and twerking are equivalent. Which is a more respectful statement about twerking than, say, Hyuna manages to make.

This piece, which is partially about “Red”, got me thinking about the politics of backup dancers — I’m still hoping we get to hear more about and from the black dancer in “Red” — and so when I watched “Shake It Off” I saw a number of very hard-working craftspeople with potentially interesting stories to tell. Why shouldn’t we learn more about the twerkers? Or the guy who appears to have rubber arms? Or the expressive modern dancers? Because it’s a Taylor Swift video. But what is Taylor Swift doing? What has she done, in the context of “Shake It Off,” to earn our attention? Nothing. We’re supposed to understand, implicitly, that even when Taylor Swift is presenting herself as the least disciplined person in the video, she should still be the focus of attention and sympathy, simply because she’s Taylor Swift.

So my problem with “Shake It Off” isn’t that it’s racist; it’s that it’s antidemocratic. I don’t dislike Taylor Swift, but I do dislike this presentation of Taylor Swift, coasting on hierarchies, condescendingly assuming that to present herself as “one of us” she should be goofy and clumsy and vaguely rebellious, while in the background the “us” have no such luxury. From one clumsy, overprivileged white woman to another: Taylor Swift, get out of the damn way.

Jessica returns the favour by laying out in legible fashion the muddled iPhone typing I was doing in the comment thread re: POOR WRITING of Taylor Swift as YA lit heroine.

#now pondering dubdob’s anarchy tip huh



this isn’t an onsen CM you guys


I managed to blurb the Taylor Swift single for TSJ anyway

It was effing exhausting and I expect to be hated for it. XD; I won’t take it back, but it’s entirely possible it won’t make as much sense as I would like it to.

@tomewing replied to your post “Do us a flavo(u)r”

there has been v little fuss about do us a flavour this time here, and if ranch raccoon is the best we can come up with I suspect I know why


Like I read the description on the page (shoulda tried that first huh) and it’s not being cute, it’s actually supposed to evoke raccoon meat plus ranch dressing.

@inat40 replied to your post “Do us a flavo(u)r”

Last time we had Cajun Squirrel in the UK. An abject monstrosity called ‘Builders’ Breakfast’ won though (off-egg flavour)

Clearly we Canucks are aligned with the Commonwealth on the weird bush meat flavour potato chip front (though I never realized before today that Maple Moose was supposed to taste like moose either ahaha). Off-egg does NOT sound great but coloredink tells me the American winner was cheesy garlic bread — a victory of back-to-the-mean blandness over sriracha, which actually sounds like a great chip idea.

Do us a flavo(u)r

Somebody at work brought in the Lays flavour finalists — bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, mango salsa, cappuccino — which got me wondering since I thought (wrongly, it turns out) that there had already been a mac ‘n’ cheese version. Turns out that there are national finalists and someone in question had gone to the States and bought the American ones for 2014. www.dousaflavour.ca — note extra ‘u’ — gets you the Canadian options which are bacon poutine, cinnamon bun, jalapeno mac ‘n’ cheese, and tzaziki. Last year’s (which I tried with the weekly Pathfinder gaming group) were creamy Garlic Caesar, grilled cheese & ketchup, perogy platter and *ahem* Maple Moose. Which won. You read that right: after a coast-to-coast national conversation, Canadians collectively awarded some dude in Newfoundland $50K and future profits for inventing a “Maple Moose” potato chip. Though if memory serves, it was the most interesting and best-executed flavour of the four. Haven’t tried the Canadian 2014 lot so can’t say how eg. cinnamon bun compares, though of the American ones this round I’m handing it to mango salsa, which is also sweet-ish. (I’d like to hear from the food scientist who landed the cappuccino potato chip brief, though… Basically they eliminated the salt in the chip almost entirely, so it tastes like a layered Italian cappuccino wafer biscuit if you break apart the layers. And the layers were made out of potato. Er. It is odd, but not disgusting.)

Meanwhile, dousaflavour.com with the ‘u’ forwards to walkers.co.uk where you have the UK variants like cheesy beans on toast and Ranch Raccoon. No but, wtf is Ranch Raccoon. I’m picturing Rocket Raccoon in a drunken accident with a bottle of Newman’s Own.



The Heavy Metal of Marilyn Minter (on Artsy)

In visceral and gaudy paintings, photographs, and video works, Marilyn Minter examines the relationship between the body, cultural anxieties about sexuality and desire, and fashion imagery. Minter is best known for glossy, hyperrealistic paintings in enamel on metal that depict closeups of makeup-laden lips, eyes, and feet—a liquid-dripping gold-toothed smile or a pair of glistening high heels splashing in metallic fluid. Strut (2004–5) portrays a muddied foot in a gem-encrusted high heel. Minter also photographs body parts seen through panes of wet glass, captured from characteristically dynamic and provocative angles that suggest the seductive, disturbing nature of glamour.



make this happen hollywood

drake as shinji is dead on, jay as gendo sort of works, but asuka/rei/misato are *all wrong*

like first of all if drake is shinji then gendo is weezy, rih is asuka, nicki is misato, and rei is the posthumous aaliyah album drake tried to make with 40 you know

(via darkartsandcrafts)


Luke Cage was created in 1972.

Four years earlier, in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed.

Five years before that, in 1963, Medgar Evers was shot and killed.

Eight years before that, in 1955, a young Black man named Emmett Till was tortured, then shot and killed.

These events, and numerous others with frightening similarity, happened in a line, and in the early years of the first decade to reap the social benefits of the Civil Rights Movement, Marvel Comics gives the fans (and the world) a Black male superhero whose primary superhuman aspect… is that he’s bulletproof.

Not flight, or super speed, or a power ring.

The superhuman ability of being impervious to bullets.

Superheroes. Action heroes. Fantasy heroes.

Power fantasies.

Is there any doubt the power fantasy of the Black man in the years following multiple assassinations of his leaders and children by way of the gun would be superhuman resistance to bullets?

In American society, the Black man has come a long way from the terrors of the past handful of centuries, only to crash right into the terrors of the 21st century. Some of those terrors being the same exact ones their grandparents had to face and survive — or not.

There are Black men who are wealthy, powerful, formidable and/or dangerous. They can affect change undreamt of by their parents, and their parents’ parents. Their children will be able to change the world in ways we can intuit and others we can barely begin to try and predict.

But a bullet can rip through their flesh and their future with no effort whatsoever.

And so we look at Luke Cage, a man who gets shot on a regular basis, whose body language is such that he is expecting to be shot at, prepared for the impact — because he knows he can take it.

And maybe, in the subconscious of the uni-mind of Marvel Comics, is the understanding that Luke Cage may unfortunately always be a relevant fantasy idea for the Black man.

2012 – Trayvon Martin is shot and killed.

2013 – Jonathan Ferrell is shot and killed.

2014 – Michael Brown is shot and killed.

2015/2016 – Luke Cage premieres on Netflix.

I look forward to seeing if the Luke Cage of that show will have a true understanding of his power and what he symbolizes.

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Themed by: Hunson