Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...

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Joie Jager-Hyman
I Sell Tallises
1 Comment | posted April 22nd, 2007 at 12:19 pm by Joie Jager-Hyman


This weekend marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the best romantic comedy ever, Annie Hall. Even after all this time, the movie still seems cutting edge. By defying the rules of the genre, the film ultimately pushes the discourse on love and relationships to a new level. Plus, it’s wicked funny.

I always wondered how a man who famously left his long-time partner for her FRIGGIN DAUGHTER could somehow write such rich female characters. Annie Hall is one of the most lovable and enduring characters ever created for the big screen. She’s talented and vulnerable, graceful and wonderfully awkward, innocent and strong with a killer sense of fashion. I love how she uses the word “neat.”

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Jennifer Gandin Le
Beauty in a Wicked World: The “Other” in Your Family
3 Comments | posted April 18th, 2007 at 09:23 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

Gandin LeLast September, I married my dear friend and roommate, Chris.

Fifty years ago, we could have been arrested in 24 states for doing so.

Now, we’re part of a trend.

From last week’s AP article entitled “40 years after landmark ruling, interracial marriage flourishing in U.S.”:

Factoring in all racial combinations, Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld calculates that more than 7 percent of America’s 59 million married couples in 2005 were interracial, compared to less than 2 percent in 1970.

Later in the article, Rosenfeld says, “The racial divide in the U.S. is a fundamental divide. … but when you have the ‘other’ in your own family, it’s hard to think of them as ‘other’ anymore.”

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: The Emotional Significance of Sports
17 Comments | posted April 17th, 2007 at 02:43 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

Second semester Junior year of college is pretty much the universal “study abroad” semester at Tufts, my alma mater. My year, nearly half the class did a semester abroad, including my two best male friends (of cliff-jumping fame). My relationship with my then-girlfriend, H, was on the rocks, partially because without my male friends, I was so socially dependent on her. I lived in a basement off campus, and was fairly depressed. But instead of turning to alcohol or marijuana, I became addicted to sports.

Field of DreamsWednesday Night Hockey. Monday Night Football. Sunday Night Baseball. March Madness. Even the freaking NIT. My heart rate rose when I happened upon a West Coast baseball game, which usually went until 1 or 2 am. If a team I actually cared about was playing, I squealed with delight.

The thing is, if men have an emotional language, sports is it.

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Jennifer Gandin Le
Men, Eyeliner, and Sex Appeal
7 Comments | posted April 14th, 2007 at 11:28 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

To me, there is nothing sexier than a man who can work both eyeliner and a sharp suit in turn.

I am not a big hunky-testosterone-muscle-man fan.

I love men who are almost changelings, who can walk that delicious line between masculine and feminine with style. Any man who can do this instantly wins my heart and my loins.

Take, for instance, Eddie Izzard.

Eddie Izzard, from his website Eddie Izzard, in The Riches

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Joie Jager-Hyman
Kidz Today: When the Child Becomes the Parent
5 Comments | posted April 11th, 2007 at 11:05 am by Joie Jager-Hyman

I’m getting married at the end of July, which means that I am participating in a cultural tradition known as “the wedding.” Like most cultural traditions, “the wedding” can feel a big alienating at times. Sure, you identify with it, insofar as you’ve been to other weddings and you recognize the symbolism (white dress, fancy ring, lots of flowers etc.), but when it happens to you, the whole thing can feel a little strange. Perhaps the strangest thing of all is how wonderful it can be. I would never have predicted that I would find such a lasting love, someone that I want to make part of my family.

Speaking of family, that’s another thing about getting married: you get another family. Soon, I will have four parents. More parents eventually means more people to care for. Caring for others can be quite rewarding, and there is a wide range of potential experiences in this regard. However, our parents will get older. We will have to mitigate new relationships with them as they age. This is just part of the life cycle, for better or worse (richer or poorer, you know the drill).

Of course, they could have done a little more to help us out. Unless something changes–and Baby Boomers start planning for retirement and aging–our generation is pretty much screwed.

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Jennifer Gandin Le
Beauty in a Wicked World: Phone Number of My Dreams
2 Comments | posted April 11th, 2007 at 08:15 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

cell phone manIt might be the best pick-up line ever. “Did I meet you last night?”

Dreamed up phone number leads man to bride.

According to David Brown, of London, England, he woke up one morning with a phone number running through his head. He decided to text the above message to that number, and the young woman who received it somehow decided to respond. After several texts, a phone call, and a letter, they fell in love, and are now married.

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Cristina Pippa
All the World: Origin of Love
5 Comments | posted April 05th, 2007 at 05:09 pm by Cristina Pippa

This time eavesdropping was the last thing on my mind. I was about to cross the street when the conversation behind me brought me to a halt. I had a walk sign, there were no cars coming, but I stood there on the corner for you, Crucial Minutiae, snatching a bit of real life soap opera on a park bench. Okay, I’ll admit it. It was my own curiosity that caused me to turn and look at the preppy kid whose hand was inching toward the neck of a wide-eyed brunette.

“Oh, my girlfriend. She’s just mad because I’m taking you home with me. But I said I would, and I’m going to. You know? I mean, she should know I love her.”

Love. On the tennis courts, it means zero. Off the courts it can mean everything– or still zero. It’s a word packed with meaning and forever open to interpretation. Some use it frivolously while others are scared to use it at all. Many believe it can never be conveyed enough and make a habit of ending every phone call with a mention of it. Americans throw it around as a compliment or an expression of taste too. “I love that sweater!” “He loves pies.” “Don’t you just love it when she says that?”

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Joie Jager-Hyman
Kidz Today: Your “H” Questions Answered
5 Comments | posted April 05th, 2007 at 01:02 pm by Joie Jager-Hyman

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my interactions with “H”, a former Harvard Hopeful who revealed a major lie and was subsequently cast out of Fat Envelope Frenzy fame (see my first post for the whole story). Since then, I’ve received numerous emails and telephone calls with similar themes. In general, people start by offering their sympathy (with the exception of my good friend Ben Wakelin, who scolded me on the blogosphere by–correctly–pointing out that I had a hand in getting myself into this situation). Then, they usually move on to the following comments:

What was “H” thinking? How did he plan to get away with this?


You should totally use this material in your book. It shows the lengths that kids will go to in this achievement-at-all-costs culture.

People seem to understand my response to the first comment more than my reaction to the second.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Women Prefer Sought-After Men, Men Eschew Sought-After Women
5 Comments | posted April 04th, 2007 at 12:26 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

Ok, so this one is straight from the thanks-science-for-proving-something-everyone-already-knew department:

The Royal Society of London performed an experiment in which they showed men and women photos of the opposite sex. Photos of guys were paired with pictures of women either smiling in their direction or with a neutral expression on their faces, and vice versa. The study found that women were more likely to find a guy attractive when he had a positive female expression turned towards him, while men were less likely to find a woman attractive in the same circumstance. The guys, however, preferred a guy who was neutrally regarded by women. The study concludes that “within-sex competition promotes negative attitudes among men towards other men who are the target of positive social interest from women.” (From The Atlantic Monthly.)

Men & Women Attractiveness Study

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: Don’t Listen To Darth Vader—Your Feelings Lie
1 Comment | posted April 02nd, 2007 at 11:27 am by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

empirestrikesback.jpg“Luke, I am your father,” Darth Vader informed Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. “Search your feelings—you know it be true.”

For men, I would argue, feelings are a pretty piss-poor place to find truth.

After my scarring spring break trip to Cancun freshman year of college, I started dating a girl, H. The whole thing nearly fell apart because I followed Vader’s advice and trusted my feelings.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: Danny Tanner vs. Alcibiades in Cancun
6 Comments | posted March 26th, 2007 at 01:54 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

My freshman year of college, I went to Cancun for Spring Break. This was a mistake.

I went with my hallmates. We were three nice guys, decent-looking, average builds. At our college, we were considered fine specimens. But in Cancun, we figured, we’d clean up. Our first act in arriving (besides purchasing a bottle of tequila), was to sit down and figure out a “point system” so we could determine who “won Cancun.” Should kissing a girl on the dance floor be worth more or less than kissing in a hotel room? Is a threesome the same if—well, you get the idea.

Don’t worry; we got what was coming to us.

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Felice Belle
Stakes is High: I Think I Love Real Life
2 Comments | posted March 25th, 2007 at 12:18 am by Felice Belle

Happily Ever After

We are a nation built on myth and legend. From Christopher Columbus’ discovery of already existing land to George Washington’s alleged inability to lie, the stories we tell ourselves become the foundation for the reality we create.

So it should come as no surprise that Hollywood continues to sell us fairytales. Nearly every romantic comedy created follows the once upon a time formula. Girl and boy meet, obstacles are overcome and in the end, an enchanted love prevails.

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Kimberlee Auerbach
Therapy Thursdays: How Many Therapists Does It Take To Be Happy?
4 Comments | posted March 22nd, 2007 at 03:32 pm by Kimberlee Auerbach

Therapy Thursdays is a weekly column on therapy appearing Thursdays.

Over the past ten years, I have been in individual therapy with five different therapists.

Three women. Two men.

My first therapist was an older man with a mustache, who liked using sports analogies to make a point. He was the coach for his son’s swimming team and would say to me, “I tell my kids all the time, go with your stroke.”

I had no idea what the hell he was talking about.

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Ethan Todras-Whitehill
Punch-for-Punch: Don’t Be A Pussy
6 Comments | posted March 19th, 2007 at 04:13 pm by Ethan Todras-Whitehill

“Come on, guys! You barely need to get any air!” Trent called up, leaning against his ski poles fifty feet below us on the snowy slope. “Just enough to clear those rocks!”

Matt, my beanpole-shaped college roommate, took one last look over the edge and called back, “Sorry, Trent. My vagina hurts.” He skied around the precipice and came to stand with Trent and the girls below.

I nodded. Smart move on Matt’s part to go there; Trent would have no worse insult to add. I leaned over to look at the small cliff he had just jumped over. Mind you, this would be the second cliff I would jump off on this run if I did it—the last one was a five foot drop onto the steep, slushy slope that we had just skied down.

I couldn’t see the rocks very well, but it was a patch at least a few feet long. They were jagged, unforgiving granite. If I mistimed my jump, I could break my skis, my legs. But if I made it—Matt hadn’t done it. He usually took more risks than I did. I could leapfrog him, if only for that day, on the cojones scale. I carefully stepped my way back up the slope to get some approach speed. I peered down at the rocks again.

“Oh, just do it!” Trent yelled. “Don’t be a pussy.”

*     *     *

Pussy. In one form or another, it is the ultimate trump card a guy can play.

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Kimberlee Auerbach
Therapy Thursdays: Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women
1 Comment | posted March 15th, 2007 at 05:17 pm by Kimberlee Auerbach

For all you seekers out there, I’m your gal.

I’ve been to an astrologer named Rakesh, a few tarot readers, a Reiki Master, a craniosacral therapist, an intuitive acupuncturist, a hypnotherapist, a therapist with a PhD and a couples therapist.

I know therapy. I know healing. I got you covered.

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Joie Jager-Hyman
Kidz Today: Kidz Today are Liars
9 Comments | posted March 14th, 2007 at 04:27 pm by Joie Jager-Hyman

Kidz today are liars.

This was not how I expected to start my first column, but please let me explain.

Last Monday, March 12th, I came down to New Orleans to interview one of the five students who I have been following for my book. Since August, I have spent countless hours getting to know each of them—visiting their schools across the country, talking to them about their lives, and interviewing their teachers, friends and family members.

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