Posts by Gina Barreca
June 2, 2010, 07:00 PM ET
OK, this is down and dirty, quick and from a friend's computer in NYC, where I just taped a segment for The Joy Behar show which will air tonight. You know what it's like to do this kind of thing, right? You take an early train to the city—we're talking just after dawn—and then you change into grown-up clothes in the train station bathroom.
You show up, try to look good, sound smart, be witty, and you leave without having a clue how you did.
The guests and topics are chosen by the host and the producers. I'm an admirer of Behar's work and have been since she was doing stand-up at The Greene Street Cafe almost 20 years ago. I interviewed her for They Used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted and her remarks were by far the best things ANYBODY actually working as a comic said about women and comedy. I've followed the rise of her career with a genuine sense of delight—not only because...Read More
May 27, 2010, 04:57 PM ET
1. The Short Man in History: Is the Napoleonic complex real? An examination of men under 5'6" who have influenced the social, political, literary, and economic landscape of the last 200 years in British and American texts. We will examine a series of such diverse figures as Tiny Tim, George from Seinfeld, Tom Cruise, the guy from Fantasy Island, Gary Coleman, and Mini-Me.
2. Nancy Miller's Father's Penis. Using Nancy Miller's seminal 1991 essay "My Father's Penis" as a springboard, this multimedia course will consider other significant paternal penii as they pop up in popular culture.
3. Human Resource and Beer-Pong Management. This course will review the human-resource-management body of knowledge and explore methods and practices related to the successful management of both daily and weekend beer-pong playing in the context of both university and non-university organizations. It...Read More
May 24, 2010, 04:35 PM ET
What could you get for £500,000?
Or perhaps the better question is what would you be willing to give away or—let's be frank here—what would you be willing to sell for $717,650?
Have you seen the News of the World video where Fergie (not the singer, but the Duchess of York) is selling access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, for 500,000 pounds?
Although the Duchess of York seems not to have done anything illegal, the fact that she was caught on videotape making a deal with an undercover journalist posing as a Middle Eastern business magnate certainly makes us all think, doesn't it?
It's made me think, for example, about what I could auction off were there a bidder.
Come on, there must be some kind of influence or access I could...Read More
May 21, 2010, 02:00 PM ET
Karen Renner, Ph.D., and I decided we had to discuss the cover of this week's New Yorker.
The May 24th, 2010 issue features a cartoon of a youngish man hanging his framed doctorate diploma on the wall of what is clearly the room he's had since childhood. An older couple, whose lined faces and worried expressions show their trepidation at Dr. Tim moving back, capture our attention as well.
We know the young man's name is Tim because there are signs saying "Tim's Room" and "Keep Out" on the door, which are, of course, exactly what you'd expect to find on the door of a kid's room.
You would not expect to find these signs on the door of a recent
Ph.D. I guess that's the funny part.
The young man looks like an extra from an Archie cartoon. He...
May 17, 2010, 06:19 PM ET
It's my brother's 59th birthday today.
My brother is a gypsy scholar.
He used to be a gypsy cab driver.
He already has an MBA and a JD, but now he's going to school for the hell of it. He just sent me a paper he wrote for his graduate course at the City University of New York. The paper is called "Microfinance and Social Justice." It includes the line "money does not care who spends it," which I like enough to have printed on a T-shirt. But then, my brother has spent his life saying things that I'd like to have printed on T-shirts.
It would be easy to celebrate Hugo's many obvious accomplishments—his professional successes, his degrees, his three fabulous children, his long and happy marriage—as well the work he's done through the Double...Read More
May 12, 2010, 08:47 PM ET
President Michael Hogan offered his resignation to UConn today. It's not as if we had a whole lot of choice but to accept it. Hogan had already signed on to become President of the University of Illinois.
One of Connecticut's local news stations just ran a story where a member of the UConn Board of Trustees told the camera he'd first heard about Hogan's decision yesterday evening (in a call made from Chicago, no less) and had no idea that this change was in the works.
Not that I'm bitter, but since I thought Hogan and UConn had bonded pretty well, I sort of expected him to be around for several more years. Also, I liked him. He was respected by many of the faculty, especially in the arts and the humanities, because he knew what it meant to write books (he's written them) and teach students (he'd taught them-lots of them) and not simply be an administrator, bean counter, or bureaucrat.... Read More
May 9, 2010, 12:25 PM ET
As if handed this by my own snarky, ironic Fate in order to force me to munch on my own words, I'm going to place a real link to a real article that I'd actually like you to read, because I'm quoted in the Sunday New York Times—and folks, trust me on this one, this will probably be the one time that ever happens.
A well-respected reporter asked me to comment on whether comic/writer Sarah Silverman's sense of smartest-adolescent-in-the-room appeal might need to change given that, with Silverman turning 40 soon, she'll be heading towards the estrogen horizon.
It was Thursday morning when the reporter's e-mail showed up in my in box. I was grading finals and working at home, awake since dawn and on my 56th cup of coffee, and I responded to Judith Newman's enormously polite e-mail within nanoseconds.
"YOU WANT ME TO TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT SILVERMAN GOT OVER TWO-MILLION DOLLARS TO...Read More
May 7, 2010, 11:44 AM ET
The only way to keep writing is to ignore your critics (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/03/ignore-your-critics.html). In any kind of profession or industry, apparently, the best way to keep moving forward is to put aside those who stick out their tongues at your efforts, or those who would stick out their legs to trip you up (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8510322.stm).
But it does seem especially important for writers—critics, scholars, essayists, poets, novelists, and bloggers come to mind—to develop a kind of professional armor when coping with the negative responses that inevitably accompany the publication of any work whatsoever (http://justinelarbalestier.com/blog/2006/07/02/ignore-your-critics/ http://www.dirjournal...Read More
May 4, 2010, 09:44 AM ET
Successful women use fear not to undermine their success, but to apologize for it.
Fear is offered to others as a compensation for achieved success.
Fear domesticates powerful women. A woman who is extremely competent in most areas of her life but supremely afraid of one is "humanized" by her anxiety; those around her realize she's not perfect. They can then breathe a sigh of relief and allow her into the community without burdening her with their resentment or their envy.
"Boy, Susan has the perfect life," someone might comment, only to be told "But do you know she has this thing about not drinking anything except bottled water? She can't even have a cup of coffee in the office. She's afraid of getting sick...Read More
April 30, 2010, 10:00 AM ET
How would anybody who knew me well know I'd finished teaching for the semester?
--They'd see that my socks were matched. All those random, lonely socks, thrown into a wire basket in the closet for three months, are now bundled up with their partners like dancers at a high-school prom.
--They'd be eating a three-course meal, where two of the courses had not been removed from the microwave. They'd be savoring dishes with fresh cilantro, curly parsley, and oregano from the new plant in my kitchen (yes, a live plant, one I hadn't been able to kill yet—such signs of life and spring!). No frozen peas. No frozen pearl onions. No garlic from the tube. Maybe there'd still be some of those mashed potatoes from the container however; I really like those.