Oates From The Underground
What could a literary non-hottie know about rectal chess?
Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn-sploitation flick “Blonde” arrived on Netflix yesterday, and everyone hates it. Charles Taylor hated it for Esquire. Christy Lemire hated it on Roger Ebert’s behalf. In the New York Times Manohla Dargis called it “the latest necrophiliac entertainment to exploit [Monroe].” In the Washington Post Ann Hornaday similarly called it “necro-fiction.” The most positive review I could find was Bilge Ebiri in Vulture, who thought it was successful at being unpleasant on purpose, called it “repetitive… but… never tedious or boring,” and admitted that it’s “going to be a tough sell.” Pass the popcorn!
…What does it say to an audience that we’re not seeing that she formed her own production company, or that she was involved in opposing the anti-communist witch-hunts by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s? Or that she fought against segregation on behalf of Ella Fitzgerald, and so on?
That stuff is not really what the film is about. It’s about a person who is going to be killing themself. So it’s trying to examine the reasons why they did that. It’s not looking at her lasting legacy. I mean, she’s not even terribly concerned with any of that stuff. If you look at Marilyn Monroe, she’s got everything that society tells us is desirable. She’s famous. She’s beautiful. She’s rich. If you look at the Instagram version of her life, she’s got it all. And she killed herself. Now, to me, that’s the most important thing. It’s not the rest. It’s not the moments of strength. OK, she wrested control away from the men at the studio, because, you know, women are just as powerful as men. But that’s really looking at it through a lens that’s not so interesting to me. I’m more interested in how she feels, I’m interested in what her emotional life was like.
Newland also tweeted an outtake from the interview, which I can’t believe they cut:
What a charmer. But why am I telling you any of this? Firstly because the movie “Blonde” is based on the 2000 novel “Blonde” by Twitter’s favorite shitpoetaster, the ISIS-curious breakfast innovator Joyce Carol Oates, and I don’t have any firsthand experience but I’m reliably informed that the flaws of the movie are faithful to the flaws of the book. And secondly because last night Terese Marie Mailhot, a First Nations memoirist from Seabird Island Band and accomplished poster,1 turned it all into tabs by tweeting:
…which is a take wild enough to be worthy of J.C. “isn’t the novel ‘Lolita’ basically the same as Woody Allen actually fucking a kid?” the gOates. Literary Twitter stroked out immediately and started producing unhinged counter-takes like Publisher’s Brunch asserting that actually JCO is a hottie, which Anastasia Gracia observed is very much not it, chief. Connor Goldsmith reminisced about the time Oates roasted him which fair enough, but I’m not sure it’s relevant? And Sarah Jeong proposed the instantly canonical “only uggos allowed in my papers” rule. I don’t want to recap every intentionally or accidentally deranged reply but Mailhot earned a solid ten to one QT / RT ratio, which you’re welcome to explore for yourself. This is probably the right answer:
Mailhot kinda walked it back but then immediately claimed that “a sexualized lifestyle… gets racialized even on white bodies,” which puts us right back in analytical vapor-lock. And was it a coincidence that Samantha Leach only yesterday cited Marilyn Monroe as the inventor of “RWH (reading while hot)” in her Bustle explainer “What Is A ‘Hot Girl Book’ & Why Is Everyone Talking About Them?” Leach draws a line from Reading While Hot to Writing While Hot, exemplified by hot girl authors like Sally Rooney, Ottessa Moshfegh, Jia Tolentino, and Hot Girl Classique Eve Babitz, who famously played chess in the nude against Marcel Duchamp (who was not nude).
Nude chess? If you know anything about Tabs at all you know where this is going. Yup, someone wrote a Github repo for “effortlessly transmitting Morse Code of chess moves to your butthole 💝.”
The chess world seems to assume that it's possible to accurately receive chess moves through your butthole, and use this to your advantage and even beat the final chess boss Magnus Carlsen with this. Since this has been a working theory, so far I haven't seen any attempts to replicate this. Hopefully this project with aid in this endeavor.
Is it possible to interpret chess moves via Morse code using only your butthole? Again I don’t have any firsthand experience, but I’m told it’s easy to tell the difference between short and long. Vice’s Matthew Gault talked to the developer, Ron Sijm, who plans to test his code with this adorable dickbutt-looking yellow chicken toy:
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Today in Micro Scene Satire: “Meet the “Dirtbag” Skewering New York’s Hyper-Gentrified Downtown Scene” by Jason Diamond.
Today in Every Day: “The Crypto World Is on Edge After a String of Hacks.”
Today in Headlines: “Blue Jays fan Frankie Lasagna just misses catching Aaron Judge's 61st home run ball.” You people are addicted to saying words.
Google will let you automatically add “reddit” to your searches in an effort to produce results that aren’t a useless garbage heap of ads and term-matching algo-generated SEO slaw.
The numbers: Every Axios employee could buy six books.
Count it up: One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. That’s six books.
No matter how you look at it, that’s more than five—but less than seven.
Be Smart: Don’t read this dumb book.
And Finally: Spy Doc more afraid of HIPAA than treason.
Anna Gabrielian and Jamie Lee Henry, who had a secret security clearance as a doctor at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, communicated and met several times with an undercover FBI agent who they believed was from the Russian embassy, offering sensitive medical information on military members and their families…
In an Aug. 24 meeting with the agent at a Baltimore hotel room, Gabrielian called Henry a “coward” for being concerned about violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA,) a federal law that limits the disclosure of patients’ confidential medical information. She told the person she did not share those concerns because she violated the law “all the time.”
Today’s Song: Rest in paradise, Coolio.
~ but I ain't never crossed a tab that didn't deserve it ~
It’s Gentlemen’s Friday, and we made it through a whole week of Tabs, as promised. It feels like a miracle every time, thanks for coming along with me. Subscribers, look for something tomorrow, everyone else you are excused from the Discourse until Monday.
An earlier version of this post misidentified Mailhot as “Canadian” which would always be an impolite mistake but in this case was especially rude. I regret the error.