Stuff Heather Thinks is Super Great

Instrumental music. So evocative and awesome! Why don’t you go ahead and make a Pandora station based on Explosions in the Sky, then try and tell me it’s not good for studying.

Reconnecting with old friends! Took me almost a year, but on Facebook I tracked down an ex-flatmate from my study abroad semester last fall. Boy howdy, were we excited. Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!

Hot tea with honey. Probably the only reason I’m not currently hacking my lungs out or suffering from laryngitis. Let’s be honest here.

Ted Leo’s cover of “Since U Been Gone.” Just the pitchy tenor of Ted Leo’s voice singing Kelly Clarkson makes me want to laugh –– but the inclusion of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Wait, they don’t love you like I love you” over the guitar solo? AWESOME. Way to mashup two songs I both totally dig, Ted Leo, and do it acoustically. I don’t know if covers can get better.

That Mattel’s expanding its ideal of Barbie beauty… kind of. I don’t quite know how to feel about this, but: the company has come out with African-American Barbies that actually have African-American facial features! What do you know. About time, amirite? Except, and here’s where people (myself included) are not so stoked: the Barbies, almost universally, have straight hair. Two of them have curlyish hair, but still not exactly what people hoped. Furthermore, some girls are calling Mattel racist for the dolls’ reliance on stereotypes, calling the dolls “ghetto” and pointing out, “Not all black people like hip hop.” Is it good enough to just produce nonwhite Barbies with nonwhite features? No, not if it’s promoting cultural stereotype. But is Mattel trying to take a step in a more accepting direction? I think they are. (In another move of trying to PCize Barbie, Mattel apparently widened her stomach several years ago. I was trying to find a photo of Christie, Barbie’s first black friend with consumer staying power –– who had the same facial mold as the white Barbie –– and stumbled upon that. Huh.)

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. I admit, some of the conflicts I could see coming from miles away, and I didn’t always love the prose. But in general, I found this to be way better than I feared it would be: smoothly written and easily digestable, loads better than the maudlin back-cover summary would lead you to think. (Don’t listen to the back cover; it’s really doing the story a disservice by marketing it in hideous Harlequin terminology.) And I am way impressed with the facility Niffenegger has for balancing chronological arcs. Keeping flashbacks straight when they’re out of order is really freaking hard, you guys.

Yesterday’s guest post at Shapely Prose. Made me stretch my baby-feminist bones and think about male privilege. But this gets a Super Great approval rating not strictly for itself, but also for the ripple effect it caused: 665 comments so far, and a response post by Fillyjonk calling for women to comment on the post she was writing only if they had never, never been bothered or hit on or otherwise harassed by men after they (the women) communicated they were uninterested. 74 comments so far, and a great majority of them –– starting with the very first –– say something along the lines of “Not since…” or “Never, except for this one time. Oh, and this other time.” (My own initial reaction upon reading Fillyjonk’s post was a shrugging “Well, it doesn’t happen that often to me,” and I expect I’m not the only one to think so. Can we talk about internalization of the male gaze?)

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