Monday, March 24, 2008

Ira Glass, My Ass

I got the new issue of BUST the other day, having recently re-subscribed after a short boycott because I was fed up with them. Actually, I'm still kind of fed up with them, and I'm not sure why I subscribed again - maybe for Ayun Halliday's column. I have a love-hate thing going with BUST because their particular brand of feminism makes me really uncomfortable. The whole ironic feminism thing is wearing thin for me. You know, "Don't tell me I'm not a feminist, just because I wear red lipstick and bake cupcakes and knit sweaters and slide up and down a stripper pole! I am such a feminist that I can buy into any form of male-dominated societal bullshit and turn it on its head! My cupcakes and lipstick are ironic!" Yeah. Okay. Whatever. I'm a feminist in spite of the fact that I wear lipstick and knit and bake cupcakes - I'm not selling them as feminist acts. So mostly, I prefer Bitch for my feminist reading, though they piss me off sometimes too.

But anyway, my point. BUST has done another "Men We Love" issue, and predictably, Ira Glass is one of the chosen. Yeesh. I am so over hearing about Ira Glass crushes (and in fact, NPR crushes in general). It reeks of desperation to portray oneself as a quirky-cool, hipster intellectual. What's more, I'll bet you a million dollars that Ira Glass is a jerk. In the BUST interview, he admits that he enjoys being the object of a thousand indie-girl crushes. "It's incredibly dear," he says, qualifying with the fact that he's "devoted to [his] wife and would never consider acting on something like that." Mmmm-hmmm. Sure. Nerdy guys who never got any action in high school, but developed a patina of cool in middle-age, are usually total players. It's like they're exacting revenge for being snubbed in their younger years, although maybe it's not that malicious. Maybe they're just making up for lost time. In any case, let's stop pumping up Ira Glass's ego. If you insist on harboring a quirky crush to bolster your hipster-cred, I nominate Ben from Lost. You'd be helpless before his unblinking stare, as that calm, hypnotic voice instructed you to - well, he could probably talk a girl into doing anything at all. Creepy=hot.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Could Be a Long Twelve Years

Yesterday was report-card day for the NYC Public School crowd - the kids had a half-day and there were parent-teacher conferences in the afternoon. We don't really care one way or the other about grades; we know our daughter is happy and smart and hard-working and that's all that matters to us. We'd just as soon have her in one of those hippie schools that don't give grades at all, if it weren't for the astronomical tuition that most of them charge. (I can't understand how there are so many filthy-rich hippies out there, but what other explanation is there?)

In spite of my professed nonchalance about grades, something about going in to talk to M's teachers brings out a crazed, competitive streak in me. I'm fine while we're there, listening to the teachers say she's bright, funny, well-behaved (whatever) and a delight to have in the classroom. I'm nodding my head as they tell me she is right on target for her grade level, that she always contributes to discussions, shows empathy for her classmates, and is verbally precocious. Great, fine, good to hear, but we already knew all of that. No big deal.

At M's school, they give "grades" of 1-4. A 3 means "meets expectations for grade level," a 4 means "exceeds expectations." A 2 means "almost there" and a 1 means - well, anyway, M didn't get a single 1 or 2. M's report card sports rows of 3's, 3+'s, and a few 4's. So, great, but as I said, I don't care anyway, right? Late afternoon yesterday though, a little voice in the back of my head started to nag me. I tried to ignore it, but it just kept getting more insistent. "She should have been given all 4's," whispers the voice. "Maybe her teachers are too busy to notice that she's clearly exceeding grade level in every subject," says the voice. "They should really have given her 5's in everything - surely she's the most brilliant student they've ever encountered!" screams the voice.

So during Lost last night (isn't this the highlight of everyone's week?) I finally blurted it out. "Tom, why do you think she didn't have all 4's? Do you think she's trying to tone down her brilliance at school so she can fit in? Do you think her teachers are purposely trying not to go overboard with praise, even though she's clearly the most gifted child they've ever encountered? She is, right? You can see how smart she is too, can't you? She should have had all 4's, right? Right?" Poor Tom. All he had to do was give me one of his signature long-suffering looks, equal parts pity and patience, and I dropped it. I took a deep breath, a swig of beer, and the little voice slunk off into a quiet corner of my brain, preparing to resurface at the next likely opportunity.

And to think, I worried that I'd find it hard to adjust to the ultra-competitive New York lifestyle. Apparently, I'm ready to go in that regard. But this is only kindergarten - if I can't shut that little voice up, we're all in for a long ride.