We were watching the first minutes of a pornographic film: the part where the actors both begin to do and yet coyly dance around the reason we're all here. "We" was me and someone in another borough that I'd conscripted into helping me make sense of what's about to happen.
Something is off. The male performer is listless and having trouble staying aroused. His female costar's ministrations are halfhearted and her eyes are vacant and she insists on calling him "baby" in a high-pitched squeak and he can barely hide his contempt at her convoluted story about underwear shopping when she abruptly announces that the anal portion of the show [...]
1. Whatever You're Doing To Your Eyebrows Is The Wrong Thing
During one of my three 15-minute breaks, I arrange to take part in a demo for a new kind of eyebrow wax, partly for research purposes and partly because $12 twice a month for the rest of my life adds up to a not-insignificant sum. I sit patiently in the chair while a woman with a headset microphone strokes my face and asks me about my usual eyebrow maintenance routine. Meekly, I tell her I get them threaded when I can afford it and pluck them myself the rest of the time. She [...]
This is the way history works on cable—the period setting is condensed, amplified and sped up so that we can focus on the interpersonal relationships and dramas of our heroes and villains. You add enough historical ephemera to keep people who watch for that reason interested, anyone tuning for a character drama gets a venue more exciting than a hospital or an LA apartment complex and everyone finds a person/place/thing to plug into Google at the end of the night.
The problem with the first quarter of "Boardwalk Empire"—the first three episodes of its first season of twelve—as a cable television show with a historical bent is that [...]
Listen in on a certain variety of college-age girls who are meeting each other for the first time and you'll inevitably hear the boasts, the pride, the tentative assertions of superior talent that come with talking about what is, for these girls, the most important subject: who played whom in which high school and community theater musicals. There's always a Maria, an Eliza Doolittle. The prim lanky ladies are a Sally Bowles (they come from an experimental charter school and have boundary issues) and there's the Rodgers and Hammerstein girls who went to Catholic school and are in awe of the worldlier, more sexualized characters their peers were allowed [...]