Mark Wilding, executive producer and writer on Scandal, dishes on the hardest scenes to cut, the characters he misses and his all-time favorite Olivia Pope lines.
Writer/performer/artist Merrill Markoe visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky last year and absorbed all the “proof” there that the world was created just 6,000 years ago and that dinosaurs walked among humans. As if through divine intervention, it suddenly, recently dawned on Markoe how to help the museum make their case. So she created this…
Affection: An Erotic Memoir by Krissy Kneen is a story of compulsive sexual exploration, sex addiction — and, ultimately, blissful, married monogamy. Australian author Kneen was raised by a group of protective and eccentric women who forbade any and every expression of sexuality… and we all know where that leads. We chatted to Kneen about her new book.
EM & LO: Your upbringing obviously had a huge impact on the way you approached sex and love. What do you think are the most important things for parents to teach their kids about sex and love?
Krissy Kneen: I think it is important that parents realize that the things they vehemently deny their kids are the things that their kids will want to do the most. I have seen friends refuse to let their kids have Barbie dolls and as a result the kid has grown up to collect Barbie dolls. Another friend denied their child sugar and as a result the now teenage girl is a sugar addict. I think it is important for parents to protect their kids, but a complete ban can lead to all kinds of problems.
Last Sunday, in a big NYTimes think piece, sexual mores writer Katie Roiphe accused Dave Eggers and his fellow male American literary contemporaries of being too into cuddling (like that’s a bad thing):
The younger writers are so self-conscious, so steeped in a certain kind of liberal education, that their characters can’t condone even their own sexual impulses; they are, in short, too cool for sex. Even the mildest display of male aggression is a sign of being overly hopeful, overly earnest or politically untoward. For a character to feel himself, even fleetingly, a conquering hero is somehow passé. More precisely, for a character to attach too much importance to sex, or aspiration to it, to believe that it might be a force that could change things, and possibly for the better, would be hopelessly retrograde. Passivity, a paralyzed sweetness, a deep ambivalence about sexual appetite, are somehow taken as signs of a complex and admirable inner life. These are writers in love with irony, with the literary possibility of self-consciousness so extreme it almost precludes the minimal abandon necessary for the sexual act itself, and in direct rebellion against the Roth, Updike and Bellow their college girlfriends denounced. (Recounting one such denunciation, David Foster Wallace says a friend called Updike “just a penis with a thesaurus”).
Turns out we were wrong in our Roth prediction — this year’s Bad Sex Award ended up going to Jonathan Littell for his novel The Kindly Ones. Other fancy-pants runners up included Paul Theroux, Nick Cave, Amos Oz, and John Banville. The judges said very nice things about Littell’s novel — which was originally published in French — calling it “in part a work of genius.” However, lines such as “I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg” clinched the award for The Kindly Ones. Perhaps it came off better in the original French? The award was presented at the — chortle chortle — In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James’s Square, London, where 400 guests congratulated themselves on being both highbrow and hilarious on the topic of sex.
In the winning passage (below), Littell is inspired by ancient mythology, to somewhat disastrous results.
photo via the Los Angeles Times
If there’s one thing the Brits are good at, it’s laughing about sex, whether it’s lowbrow, bum-pinching humor — paging Benny Hill — or the highbrow upper echelons of London’s literary society. The cool kids in the latter category are definitely at the Literary Review magazine, with their annual Bad Sex Awards. The announcement of the selections each year leads to a flurry of bad-pun headlines in the British press — “stiff competition” being a favorite phrase (Benny Hill would be proud!). Past nominees have included such heavy hitters as Gabriel García Márquez, Norman Mailer and Salman Rushdie. This year’s shortlist is no different, including John Banville, Paul Theroux, singer-turned-writer Nick Cave, and Philip Roth. The only surprise with Roth is that it took him this long to make the cut.
Blue Flower, 1918
We’re not surprised in the slightest to discover that Georgia a-flower-is-never-just-a-flower O’Keeffe was quite the steamy letter writer. Her love letters to the (ahem, married at the time) photographer and modern art promoter Alfred Stieglitz have just been published as part of a new exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The two married eventually, and Stieglitz cheated on O’Keeffe eventually, too, so we guess karma already did all the judging for us. Which means that we can just read the letters as inspiration — look what happens when you don’t let Hallmark do all the drudge work for you:
You know all those questions that you really want to ask when you meet a lawyer at a cocktail party? But you restrain yourself because you figure it’s not polite to ask a complete stranger whether you could get sued if you broke someone’s penis during sex. Well, our friend Robin Epstein and her sister Amy Epstein Feldman have written a book to save you the embarrassment: So Sue Me, Jackass! Avoiding Legal Pitfalls That Can Come Back to Bite You at Work, at Home, and at Play. “At Play” being our favorite topic, of course — like, who gets to keep the ring in a broken engagement? Are you really “common law married” if you live together for seven years? Can you claim temporary insanity and get out of your marriage if you were drunk when you said “I do”? And why the hell do mattresses have tags that say “Do not remove under penalty of law”? Anyway, about that broken penis…
A collection of passport photos from the early half of the twentieth century of notable writers and artists, including Langston Hughes, Jack Benny, Walt Disney, and Edward Estlin Cummings better known as E.E. Cummings. I concur with the collector’s insightful comment: The quality is pretty gritty, but I find them interesting, not the least because…
photo via venetia_joubert_sarah_oosterveld
If you’ve listened to Howard Stern even once over the past decade (that’d be Em, not Lo), then you know that one of his most loyal advertisers is the Ashley Madison Agency — the online dating site that caters to married people with the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair.” Charming. On and off over the years, we’ve thought about reporting on Ashley Madison, but every time we did, steam would come out of our ears and we’d realize that our entire article would consist of seven words, most likely typed in all caps: “Stop cheating you slimeball pieces of shit.” Just because the site sounds like it was named by Nora Roberts, as Jezebel so brilliantly notes, doesn’t mean it’s any less sleazy, immoral, unethical, or just plain wrong.
Laurie Sandell’s graphic memoir, The Impostor’s Daughter, just hit bookstores, and even if she wasn’t our good friend, we’d still tell you that it’s our number one pick for a beach read this summer. (By the way, “graphic memoir” = graphic novel-style memoir. The rest of the book is not nearly as dirty as the page we excerpted above. What can we say, we’re smut peddlers.) Anyway, the book chronicles Laurie’s search for the truth about her charming and brilliant con artist father — and how her relationship with him affected everything from her career as a celebrity journalist to her love life. (Paging unavailable men!) It’s hilarious, engrossing, honest, and smart — plus, look at all those pictures! You’ll race through it even if the wind is blowing sand in your face.