51/49 stat is BS

I was going to write a clever post about how getting divorced was like relocating to Area 51, in reference to the stat that at some point the rate of divorce tipped to over half of all marriages. But then the other day I ran across this fairly recent article, which claims that that the 51/49 stat is a media myth:

Despite the high-profile scandals, reality TV shows highlighting “Cheaters,” online companies helping married people have clandestine encounters with other people’s spouses, celebrities proclaiming monogamy to be a biological impossibility, and a false but widespread belief that half of marriages end in divorce, Hartman and Bilton have reason to believe their marriage will last. More than 65 percent of first marriages reach their 10th anniversaries. That number has jumped to about 80 percent for recent marriages.

I was surprised because I’d always just assumed that the 51/49 (or something close to it) was true. Of course,  this is encouraging news, especially as reflection up Generation X as whole, but I also found it kind of disheartneing since I’m one of the minority who could stay married. <sigh>

The article goes on to say that divorce rates have been falling for 30 years, and that divorce is at it’s lowest since 1970. That really blew me away. I figure that they were constantly on the uptick. Although reflecting back on the 70s I suppose it should not have been so surprising.

More stats from the article:

“For those marrying in the early 1990s, 78 percent were still married after 10 years compared with 73 percent of those marrying in the late 1970s. … Those marrying in the early 1990s were 7 percent more likely to be still married.”

Apparently being married in the 70s is bit of a curse. Wonder if it had anything to do with huge bell-bottom pants and platform shoes and just ugly fashion in general. Although if that were true, the 80s could arguable be more of detriment to marriage longevity.

According to the article you can up your chances of staying married by attending in premarital counseling:

They are also engaging in more premarital counseling, which is another factor cited by researchers who have documented the strengthening of the marriage institution.

“Couples who attend premarital courses tend to communicate better, solve problems and report better relationships than those who do not,” a study in the journal Family Relations found.

A few more marital facts:
  • Born-again Christians have the highest rates of divorce, according to a study done by Christian researcher the Barna Group. The lowest rate is found among atheists and agnostics.
  • The highest divorce rates were in the Bible Belt states, according to an analysis by The Associated Press
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Generation X and divorce

I spent some time today searching for statistics on the divorce rates among Generation X. I didn’t find much. Google Generation X and divorce and what you get is the oft stated assertion that many GenXer grew up with divorced parents, and some rather snotty comments about how selfish and spoiled GenX is and therefore must have a lousy divorce rate, comments clearly made by Boomers. Perhaps it is still to soon for such data to be compiled. Or maybe I just suck at internet research.

Anyhoo… my purpose was to educate myself on the numbers since when I start blogging for JenX67 I’ll be mainly writing about being a divorced GenXer and a single dad. I figured I should know a little bit beyond my on experience. So much for that.

If anyone happens to know of any studies or even just news articles about Generation X and divorce, theirs not their parents’, I’d appreciated being  directed to them.

I did come across a collection of short stories and novella, though, that made me think of my most recent post about Omega Males. It’s titled Greetings from Cutler County, by Travis Mulhauser. And initially I was drawn to it because the stories are set in Northern Michigan. Reading the dust jacket flap only increased my interest, since it was clear these were “guy stories.”  But a specific kind of guy stories:

Most of the characters are young men who think of themselves as losers and outsiders. Short on cash, popularity, and the ambition needed for success, they nevertheless are able to examine their failings with the self-knowing humor and resignation of the perpetually thwarted ne’re-do-well.

That’s definitely a description of GenX Omega Male fiction. Hmm. Did I just invent a new sub genre? Quick! To the copyright office.

Maybe, because of the pending divorce and likelihood of losing my job, I’m just  feeling like I’m at a low point in my life but I get the sense that I’m really going to identify with these characters. Some of them anyway.

GenX Lit

Title: It Feels So Good When I Stop

Author: Joe Pernice

Genre: novel

feels so good_

This is basically slacker fiction, about a  white, 20-something [nameless narrator] who bolts his marriage after only one day. Not sure what the point of not naming the narrator is exactly. Is it supposed to make him more of an “everyman,” a concept that I’ve always found rather pretentious? That particular descriptor doesn’t seem to quite fit this book. Maybe Pernice just never got around to naming the character. Sort of like the “you” in Bright Lights, Big City, which I’ve read many times, and I’m still not sure where the main character’s name is actually mentioned, if at all. Maybe Pernice is paying homage to BLBC. Who knows? Does it matter?

It’s set in 1996 and from what I can gather I’d be about the same age as the narrator. In 1996, I was graduating with my MFA from  Western Michigan, after which I hung around Kalamazoo for a couple more years, teaching adjunct at the university and working maintenance and cleaning at Oasis Hot Tubs.

I like this book. I’m still in the midst of it, though. Good narrative drive. Witty. Sarcastic. And just the right amount of pop culture references; doesn’t feel forced, like the dude is trying too hard. Of course, I particularly love the music references, something I wished I was better at in my own writing, but my knowledge of music is simply not very sophisticated (is it redundant to say “simply not very sophisticated”?).

I have to say after starting strong, though, the first part seemed to rush to an end, with an incident that seemed perhaps overly dramatic and then isn’t really dealt with afterwards, or at least not yet. It’s not a big deal. Not something I’d call a flaw even. More of a quirk really.

I wasn’t familiar with Pernice before I picked up this book. Or rather I wasn’t aware that I was familiar with him. He appeared on TV show the Gilmore Girls, which my wife loves.  I like it too, for it’s very GenXness, especially the sarcastic, quick-tongued humor, and boundless pop culture references.

This is the kind of book I wished I could write, not just in subject matter, but in size. My writing tends to spiral out of control, growing and growing like an invasive species or something. I’d like to be able to keep it more…controlled, you know. Condensed. I think that creates an energy in the prose.

new volumes for my GenX library

I’m always on the lookout for books about GenX and by GenXers. Thank  to JenX67 I’ve got two more to read, review and add my collection.

The first is a novel entitled “It Feels So Good When I Stop,” by Joe Pernice, who is also a musician, and apparently a big deal indie rocker song writer. Perhaps it is a GenX sin of sorts to not be up on my Indie rock, but I admit that I am not and never have been. In any case, based on this review in the LA Times I’m looking forward to reading this novel, and hopefully will find the time in my “busy” slackery schedule (that ass groove aint gonna make it self) to perhaps tap out a few mindless ramblings on it here because I know there are hordes of you out there that absolutely can’t proceed with your existence until you know what I think about whatever it is I happen to be blathering about at any given moment. We’ll see (the phrase I most utter to my daughter these days,  and to which she hs begun to roll her eyes — sarcasm at  almost 9, ugh!)

The second is a collection of poetry entitled, “Acutal Air,” by David Berman, another musician (Silver Jews; again I plead ignorance). Berman and his collection were referenced in the above mentioned/linked review of Pernice’s novel. Apparently the two got their MFA’s together. Anyway, I was pretty geeked to learn of this collection since I’m not really that hip to GenX poetry. I”ve got my own collection of poetry but not specifically GenX. Not saying it doesn’t exist. It no doubt does, in abundance for all I know. I’m just not that adept at sniffing it out.

PPF (Pointless Point of Fact): Both of these guys are 42, precisely my age, which is distressing in a way since my novel is still in progress and I fear will languish their until the end of days.

The forgotten Monster Cereal

At least it was forgotten by me. In my blog post of Sept. 29 on cereal, which I was inspired to write after my daughter insisted on getting my Count Chocula as a surprise treat when she went shopping at Target with her mom.

Remember Yummy Mummy?

Of course, it was introduce in 1987, according to wikipedia, and as such could probably more rightly be considered a Millennial cereal. Full disclosure: I’ve never tried it. At the time, a year after I was out of high school, I was not so concerned with cereal anymore, although I still ate it, of course. Who doesn’t eat cereal? But I do remember Yummy Mummy in the stores, which I was reminded of when I ran across it while searching for Fruit Brute. It was discontinued in 1993, just after I graduated from college, boomeranged back home to live with my parents and started living on mostly bowls of sugary cereal again, this time consumed very late at night while watching soft core porn on Cinemax, instead of on Saturday mornings while watching cartoons.

But, hey. Check out this cool poster I found just now searching for Yummy Mummy images via google:

And this cool bobble head:

I know what I’m asking for Christmas!

And while we’re on the, oh, so very important subject of breakfast cereals. Does anyone remember Quisp?

Which also has a related bobble head, apparently called a Wacky Wobbler. Don’t ask. I have no fucking clue, and don’t really want one:

I’m pretty sure I saw this cereal in the store recently, which is entirely possible since according to its wikipedia page Quisp cereal was “re-introduced” as the first “internet cereal,” whatever that means. It’s funny, because the page also talked about commercials for Quisp which included a “competing character” for a cereal called Quake; the character was a miner and Quisp was an alien. But I’m drawing a complete blank on that one. The wiki article also stated that: “Starting in early March 2008, many Dollar General Stores (especially in, but not limited to, OH, PA, WV, and much of the Northeast US) will begin selling Quisp (as well as other classics such as King Vitamin, Crunchy Corn Bran, and Honey Graham Oh’s”

Now, I’m positive that I have seen King Vitamin in the store recently.

Is it just me, or is cereal a subject matter upon which many, if not most, GenXers could expound virtually endlessly?

Glamorama

I’m still reading this Brett Easton Ellis novel. Yeah, I know. What can I say? I’m a slow reader. Always kind of have been. When I was kid I had comprehension problems. To help it I had to read stories from the newspaper with my mom and then tell her what I’d read. I became a pretty careful reader early on, and as a result a slow reader. I suppose it was inevitable that I become an English major in college, although I never like English class very much, until I got to college. Then…..

Anyhoo…I’m almost finished with Part 3 of Glamorama, on page 319 of 546. In some ways it feels as if the narrative moves too slowly, and yet I find myself caught up in it, despite the shallowness of the characters and dialogue, the preoccupation with looks and name brands, celebrities of all sorts blah blah blah. The conversations that take place are of the type that if I heard them out in public I’d cringe, and want to move away from the people having them just so that I wouldn’t have to hear it. So why am I compelled to read such dialogue? For that matter, why do I find the characters and dialogue interesting? Because the truth is I do not have to force myself to read this book. True, it’s taking me awhile to finish it but that is due to a lack of time, not a lack of interest.

Of course, the difference is that this is fiction, a reflection of the reality, a comment on the reality, even a satire of the reality, and not the actual reality. There is more going on her then just the vacuous chit chat of Victor Ward and his entourage or whatever.

The wikipedia entry for Glamorama dubbs it a satire, similar to American Psycho, but where AP was satirizing consumerism, Glamorama is about our cultural obsession with celebrities and beauty. The entry also provides an interesting note about the similarities between the novel and the Ben Stiller movie Zoolander, and states that Ellis at one point claimed to be considering a law suit and then later that he couldn’t talk about it due to an out of court settlement. I’ve seen Zoolander, but it’s been awhile, and I don’t remember it all that well, and at the time I hadn’t read Glamorama, of course, nor was I aware of the plot of the book.

An interesting device in the first part of the book, set in New York before the real plot begins in earnest, is the repetition of the phrase We’ll slide down the surface of things… , which is taken from the U2 song, Even Better Than The Real Thing, a song I recognized immediately upon hearing it.

It seems to set the tone and initial motion of the plot in the first part of the novel, i.e. Victor Ward’s slide down the surface of things into public humiliation, losing his supermodel girlfriend Chloe, when she realizes that he’s been cheating on her with another model, Alison Poole, who also dumps him, when he’s busted cheating on both of them with an ex-girlfriend from his college days at Camden, the college setting for Ellis’s second novel, The Rules of Attraction, not to mention the college the main character, Clay, from Less Than Zero attends. Also, Victor loses his hip position as club manager for scary dude boss Damien because he was dealing behind the boss’ back to open his own club — a big no no apparently in this world. But he still seems to hold out hope afterwards that he’ll get a role in Flatliners II.

The second part of the novel (although it may have begun in the first part) features a device in which Victor describes what is happening to him as if it scripted and being shot in a movie. He takes his cue on what to say and how to feel from an imaginary director. I swear I had this precise idea years ago, before the book was published. Dammit! If only I’d gotten my slacker ass in gear, I’d be reaping the benefits of such a brilliant idea.

According to the wikipedia entry, the latter parts of this book get pretty violent, like American Psycho violent. Interestingly enough there wasn’t the uproar about it that there was with American Psycho. Why not?

In any case, perhaps Glamorama is a book worth rereading now because of this theme articulated in the wikipedia entry:

…the parallel between the fear of the unlikely, horrible fate of being killed by terrorists and the fear of the extremely likely, rather less horrible fate of being unable to live up to the beauty of professional models. Both fears are fed by the media.

Although ten years after the publication of this novel, the fear of being killed by terrorists doesn’t seem nearly as unlikely as it did then, even though it may in fact be just as, if not more, unlikely. But now more than ever both terrorism and celebrity are fed/fueled by the media. Was Ellis once again far ahead of his time? As some claim he was with American Psycho?

A review from The Guardian touches on what I consider to be one of Ellis’ main themes, when it states: At the same time, it shows that everyone in Glamorama is reprehensibly lacking in real feelings. That theme is the subjugation of real feeling by intensity of sensation, definitely a dominant tone in this novel so far. And I haven’t even gotten to the extreme violence in it yet.