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Als Well That Blogs Well

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If you hadn’t noticed, Hilton Als is now blogging at newyorker.com; the blog is cleverly called “Et Als.” (As the magazine adds more blogs, there will be many more naming opportunities, I’m jubilant to note. Our commenters came up with a few alternates for Hendrik Hertzberg’s blog title, I recall. One’s mind whirrs. “Splendor in the McGrath” … “A Drop of Mead” … “Angell in the Outfield” … “Penny Lane” … “Denby the Riverside” … “Lean and Orlean” … “In-Specter” … “Lead Singer” … “Auletta Man Have His Say” … “Go Pack Go” … “Master Bilger” … “Schamanism” … “Thurman Country” … “Surowieckipedia” … “Man’s Best Friend” [or “Menand’s Best Friend,” a collaboration] … “Chon Day & Gawande” [ditto, from beyond the grave] … “Collect McCall” … “YouToobin” … “Franklin, My Dear” … “Owen in the Wind” … “My, He’s Lahr” … “Focus Groopman” … “I Never Promised You a Paumgarten” … “Frazier” … well, you see how it goes, unfortunately.)

Als writes in his inaugural post:
Blogs are a matter of trust. The reader reads them hoping not just to pick up some form of retail inspiration—“This is the album I’m listening to; maybe you’d like to listen to it, too!”—but also to learn something about the landscape of the writer’s mind, his way of being.
He recently posted a tender reminiscence about Elizabeth Hardwick, and his latest entry is about Julian Schnabel’s film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

I like this blog very much, but I am dismayed to see that Als uses the term “females” in place of “women” in his Schnabel post. I know he’s being complimentary here, but I can’t read or hear “females” without thinking of the study of animals in the wild (“The males are docile, but the females will tear off your eyebrows if you’re not careful”), or possibly a grisly police report (“The disfigured bodies of two females were discovered in the alley following the Gordon Lightfoot concert”).

It’s a common online-dating term, certainly, but I would hope that anyone seeking love would avoid any profile in which a man claims to be seeking a “female” of any description. Don’t you find it a somewhat clinical term? Or am I alone in this?


You’re not alone, but at least he didn’t use “distaff.”

Think of Adelaide quoting the medical manual: “The average unmarried female, basically insecure/Due to some long frustration, may react/With psychosomatic symptoms, difficult to endure,/Affecting the upper respiratory tract…”

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree