Monday, August 29, 2011

Movie Review -- Black Swan (2010)

Here's an interesting little gem of a film. If you enjoy graphically gory slasher flicks, and classical music, you will probably love this movie. I, however, found it for the most part, nearly unwatchable.

First of all, and probably the least of my complaints, the editing. Oh, it was all fancy and disorienting, that's for sure. I understand that the purpose was to give the audience a visual ride parallel to Nina's slow descent into madness. Sudden bright lights! Colors fading into contrast! Things darting around in the dark! Spinning cameras! This thing was shot worse than Blair Witch Project. But more on that later. Visually, from an audience standpoint, I feel like I need sunglasses and some Dramamine.

All the stunning visual elements hint more subtly at the main plot of the movie, which is Nina starting to hallucinate, and oh boy does she ever. Here's my other gripe: Basically about half the movie never happened. Flashbacks, fantasies, drug-induced lesbian experimentation, murders, sprouting wings, what the hell is going on, Natalie Portman??? Sure, sure, that's the point of the movie. I know, it wouldn't be exciting if not for the confusing misleading red herrings but I feel like it was honestly too much. I kind of expected the ending of the movie to be that Lily never existed, that she was a ballerina who died twenty years ago or something equally stupid like that. This movie was basically a horror film, and in horror films, that kind of stupid shit happens.

But the thing that REALLY had me watching this movie from between my fingers was the endless and constant self-injury. Not just the two lovely actresses having starved themselves to be as emaciated as your slimmer 8-year-old girls, but the stabbing! The scratching! The bone-breaking, skin-ripping, face-stabbing gore of it all! I may not regain my appetite for days...come to think...that may be the same way those girls were able to lose all that weight, being around all the gory special effects.

I can see why Black Swan caused such a ruckus now. It was a captivating film, a gripping story, and an imaginative little movie. I can now understand why everyone was running to the theatres to see this film...and promptly running to the theatre bathrooms to heave up their popcorn.

Mani Mondays -- ROYGBV

ROYGBV - pronounced Roy-Gee-Biv - is all the colours of the rainbow, obvs! Excepting, of course, Indigo. Indigo knows what she did.

The idea just came to me - I'm trying to be spontaneous, to throw off the imitators - and even though I dressed full goth today and bought my dark shades of makeup for fall (DRAMA!), I decided for some reason to use my nails as a visual aide to the teaching lesson of hot colours/cool colours. I don't know. Anyway, the first step was really boring. Paint the left hand yellow, paint the left hand green. Boring! Next:

Left hand: Orange almost all the way to the nail bed. It looks extreme, but trust me: when you have plenty of room for red, you'll thank me.

Right hand: a generous helping of blue. You know what's really hard for right-handed people to do? Take pictures of your own right hand.

Please Excuse My Dear Messy Sink (HA! Another mnemonic device for schoolchildren! Almost), but this is what the completed left hand looks like. I know the lines aren't straight, that was actually on purpose. Honestly!

And this is what the right hand looks like. Separately, they are fairly boring, yes. And kind of look like dyed Easter eggs. Together, they represent the colour families! And that was my idea I had for nails while watching Teen Mom.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Diary

3:30pm Friday: find out about hurricane. Panic, run to Jin's for canned goods and spend $50 buying canned soup, dry pasta and sauce, and cookies. Lots of cookies.

6:30pm Friday: Eels comes home. Most of the cookies have already been eaten. He finds me collaging the bedroom walls like a maniac, watching the Sesame Street hurricane episode and trying to come to terms with the total obliteration of Big Bird's home and sanctuary. Seriously, shit got way too real.

1:00am Saturday: Pull the bed into the middle of the room. You know, in case the storm hits 18 hours early and we don't hear it and the windows blow in and kill us.

9:15am Saturday: Shit's supposed to hit the fan today! The rain that starts to fall on the way to the grocery store to buy $75 of juice, chips, and two cans of soup confirms it. Hell, even Starbucks is closed! Now we are forced to drink unflavoured coffee for the duration of this storm?

10:30am Saturday: Start watching Tangled,loathe and detest this stupid anorexic ineffectual heroine. PLEASE. Don't even act like she's any more of a strong female character than weak Ariel or stupid Belle. A man takes away her power and her “beauty”? Cute shag 'do, though.

11:50am Saturday: Ten minutes before the ordered Subway shutdown, it starts to rain pretty hard. Stops an hour later.

2:38pm Saturday: Still no rain. Totally bored. Drinking tomato juice and eating cookies. Determined to use internet as much as humanly possible in case we lose power.

6:00pm Saturday: Eating chili. Bored to tears. Watching X-Men. Send relief.

7:00pm Saturday: Begin watching Drop Dead Diva. Finally staving off the boredom and panic.

1:30am Sunday: Step on a giant splinter attempting to go to bed. Rip left big toe open. Storm casualty.

9:30am Sunday: Sunlight streaming in the windows. Storm seems to have passed or is directly over us. No idea, can't read the deliberately vague Weather Channel map. Eli may not fare too well. He is teasing me about the amount of soup I purchased. A rogue Progresso can may hit him in the head.

10:55am Sunday: Watching more Drop Dead Diva. Coffee, cookies, and more boredom.

4:00pm Sunday: Wind starts gusting. This is the most hurricane-like weather of the whole weekend!

8:30pm Sunday: Subway service is basically back to normal. Eli and Matt both dislike the movie Like Water For Chocolate but we watch it anyway and I adore that movie. The storm is over, and tomorrow I plan to go shopping because I am bored out of my freaking mind here. The end.

Falling for Fall

I am so excited for fall. SO EXCITED! I am looking forward to so many fun fall activities as the weather starts getting colder. I have so many goals, activities, aspirations!

GIVE LEGGINGS A CHANCE! I have always found wearing leggings uncomfortable and awkward. There are no pockets. Elastic waistbands are binding. And camel toe is imminent. But as the trend becomes less trendy and more commonplace, perhaps it's time to open my arms, my heart, my mind, and my legs (that came out wrong) to this fashion fixture?

THE AUTUMN LEAVES! One of the benefits of my view of New Jersey (wow words we never thought we'd hear) is that we have such a lovely view of trees. When those leaves start changing, it will be a spectacular view of the changing foliage!

SOUL FOOD! Cooking hot food in a hot kitchen? No thanks. Warming yourself over a stove or oven on a chilly day? Soooothing!

BRIGHT CARDIGANS! Oh, the cast of Drop Dead Diva makes bright yellow, blue, and pink varsity-style sweaters look so cheery!

WINE TOUR! I had such a blast up in the Finger Lakes last year on that wine tour, I would love to be able to do it again, with the leaves changing color and a crisp, nice breeze!

AND SPEAKING OF WINE! I can't wait to try out new lipsticks. Light pink, fuschia, plum, cinnamon and wine! My lips are in decent condition and I can't wait to use them as a canvas!

PUMPKIN FARM! My fondest memories of fall involve going to Iron Kettle Farm, for all the hokey Halloween, tacky decorations, animal smell, etc. I haven't been since 2007, but every year I vow to make a pilgrimage, eat cider and donuts, ride the hay ride, dash through the spook barn, pet a goat, and of course, pick out a nice, round orange treasure of my own!

Friday, August 26, 2011

On The Facebook

Midnight on an Uptown A train. Two available seats. One is in the middle of a family of 11 children who are simultaneously running, spinning, kicking, crying, laughing, and napping. The other is next to three old Jews. One of the Jews is knitting. I think you know where I sat. What happened next was comedy gold.

"Did you hear a dog bark?" says the knitting old biddy to my right.
"A dog?" the bushy-haired, bespectacled gentleman facing her drawls back, in exaggerated Long Island accent.
"I heard a dog bark."
"A dog? On the subway?"
"No, on the platform. He barked."

Clearly, I was accidentally in the middle of an Abbott and Costello routine. They were difficult to overhear, due to the screaming children begging for their mother's attention just a few feet away, but after a while down the train the conversation grew animated:

"I was on the facebook - do you have the facebook?" he turned to his companion, who was very straight-laced compared to his desperate attempts to channel an aging Bob Dylan in hair and dress.
"Yeah, yeah, I have the facebook...I got on the facebook for my work, and it bugs me! Some people, you don't even know them, they think you want to be their friend."
"Me too! I make friends with one person - BOOM! Twenty-one more people want to be my friend! They say they know me! I don't know them!"
"And then they send you all those emails!" moaned my still-knitting bench neighbor. "I try to get rid of them, but they still come! And then you have to email 61 people telling them you don't want their emails...it's annoying!"

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the meaning of the word kvetch.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

1. Stock up on nonperishable foods.
This means soups, dry pasta and sauce, and anything that looks like it might keep for a good long time, like Twinkies. Or, anything with the Little Debbie seal of approval - she's been around forever, and she hasn't aged a day! Also, Pepperidge Farm has those nice cookies...and you'll want foods that provide a lot of protein, such as peanuts. I hear they now come conveniently encased in a chocolate and candy-coated shell.

2. Prepare for loss of power by locating candles and flashlights.
If there are any episodes of Jersey Shore or Teen Mom that haven't been watched yet, it's essential to catch up on them now. Also, begin pairing scented candles with other like-scented candles so if power goes out, the house doesn't smell like a floral smorgasbord.

3. Stay away from windows, and crack them a little to alleviate air pressure.
This means that you'll want your bed in the center of the room, like a schizophrenic painter. Also, crank the air conditioning really low, so that if power DOES go out and you are forced to open windows, you won't be overheated when the time comes.

4. Clean out all frozen foods in preparation for losing power.
Listen, someone has to bite the bullet and finish off those microwaveable burritos and that pint of Ben & Jerry's. These are the times that call for a hero.

5. Above all else, stay calm. Remain positive. Know that it could absolutely be worse.
Try to remember that while sitting in your cool, air conditioned apartment in front of the TV with your bed in the living room, eating frozen foods, surrounded by tea lights.

Mani Mondays -- Black Gold, Texas Tea

Okay, it's not Monday, but I do have a life! One week a month, usually. And during that time I was VERY BUSY, visiting Coney Island, seeing baseball games, and giving my family a tour of the city. So I wore plain, banana yellow polish that whole time but in preparation for the stormy weather of the weekend (which I JUST found out about so I didn't have time to prepare a hurricane-themed nail concept), I wanted to go with something dark, rich, and alluring. Something many have sought after, many have paid tons of money for, and many have died for:

OIL!

Ha, that was a crude joke! How unrefined of me!

The look is very simple: one coat of Street Wear's "Tar" (quelle appropriate!), one thin coat of Street Wear's "Incognito", and one coat of "Flawless" by Sally Hansen Hard As Nails (which I maintain should have an extra "s" in there - hard-ass nails!!! Ahh, I can dream).

This is a blurry photograph of what that looks like. I've often thought these colours would go well together, but never actually attempted this look until now! I really like it, and come to think, I may attempt something very similar with red under the gold to match my favourite throw pillow! I'll be back to my regular schedule by Monday, when life calms down...you know...after the storm!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dream Wedding

Last night, I dreamed that I was Oprah's personal assistant. Eli tried to drag me to a formal magic event, but I was angry at him so I told him I had to work. AS we were leaving, a drag performer boasted that SHE was to be Oprah's maid of honor in her upcoming wedding....oh heeeeelllll no.

I picked Oprah up, beard and all (it looked nice, actually) and headed for target, where I bought red tinted lip gloss and black suede bedroom slippers, to go with my dress. I sewed many yellow silk flowers onto a handkerchief for her to carry, and started putting together flower arrangements, while I connived to get Oprah's sister kicked out of the wedding party to take her place myself. What I didn't know was that Oprah's sister was a very sweet but naive 6-year-old, who I ditched in Target, attempted to sell on the black market, and abandoned outside the bridal vehicle (which was a dirty truck with all but three bucket seats removed).

We made it to the wedding site, and Operation Ingratiate Myself With Oprah's Family began, however it was stalled by the constant demands from Oprah herself, such as the need for more music rehearsals which took the music from Carmen and changed the words to be about herself and her fiancee. ALSO, the wedding coordinator started passing out shots of orange juice mixed with a mysterious substance he would not name, which made the music rehearsals much more tolerable, and suddenly it was clear that I would have to work a lot harder to defend my maid-of-honor status at this wedding...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Wrongs Make A Right

I try not to get mushy too often, but when the man who is currently sprawled out in his underwear upside-down on the couch tells you that your silver eyeshadow makes you look like a "sexy disco angel," you start to thinking he could very well be The One.

This August marks 4 years of us being "together." My lack of record-keeping skills means we don't actually have an "anniversary," but it's usually recognized that the latter end of August 2007 was when we met, fell in love at first sight, then silently vowed not to reveal that little fact until two years later when we each felt the other wouldn't hold it against us. And by "usually recognized," I mean last year in August we went to Chelsea Market and bought a lot of cheese and bread and ate it all in one sitting and decided that was our anniversary "picnic" and this year we did the same.

We don't stand on ceremony here. There's not a lot to be said for "tradition" in this home. We kind of make it up as we go along. There are no expectations. And when there are no expectations, there are no disappointments. And when there are disappointments, no questions asked, it's put-on-your-shoes-I'm-taking-you-to-dinner.

I don't say it as much as I should, but my man is good to me. Not in a cliche'd R&B song kind of way. He saved me pizza from when his friends came over, made them sit on towels so as not to stain my precious sofa, and did make a valiant attempt to clean up the kitchen. Thoughtfulness. He works 6 days a week so that anytime I want something, it's mine. I pick the restaurants we go to. If I ever ask whether I can have something, go somewhere or fulfill a ridiculous whim, the response is the same: "Whatever delights you." I'm not shitting you, it's like The Princess Bride here!

I'm so proud of him. Over the last 4 years, I've watched him grow from a silly teenaged boy who lives off yellow Gatorade and marshmallow fluff and watches YouTube videos in his underwear for hours on end, to a mature and responsible adult who lives on Pop Tarts and Diet Coke and watches Hulu in his underwear for hours on end. In our four illustrious years together, we've travelled to Europe, moved up to Manhattan, and watched the following television serieses in their entirety: Arrested Development, Doctor Who, The 4400, American Dad!, Law & Order: SVU, and many more, I'm sure.

I can't believe it's been four years already. Time has just flown by. Who knows where the next four years will take us - San Francisco? The moon? Maybe we'll even finish watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But maybe not the seventh season. Cuz, you know, I love this guy.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Head Over Heels

Tonight was a beautiful night, one of those nights where you're glad you stayed out all night just walking around the city...where nothing really memorable happens, except that it's remarkable for being so forgettable...and then someone flips their motorcycle inches away from you.

I have a complicated relationship with West 14th Street, that is to say, basically from Union Square and over. Pretty much any time I walk down that street, day or night, something odd or frightening happens. Like the time a group of teenagers arranged an elaborate girl-fight in front of the Payless Shoes store (egging them on, handing them weapons, separating them and then goading them into continuing, it was a little scary). Or the guy who was paranoid that the potted plant he just walked past was following him. Odd. Frightening.

Tonight, Eli and I were crossing the street amid turning automobiles and the sound of a loud motorcycle revving its engine, but we couldn't see where it was coming from. Suddenly, I helmeted biker on a white bike shot into the street right next to us, went up on its front wheel like a circus trick, and threw the rider off into the air before turning over and falling to the street. The lucky biker stood up from where he landed after falling head-first, walked over to his bike, and made a few idle attempts at lifting it up to continue on his ride, as if something no more significant than a bug hitting his glasses had occurred. It was odd. And it was frightening.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Movie Review -- You Again (2010)

Much like 17 Again, You Again tells the story of characters who are unable to escape their high-school selves. Except, unlike 17 Again, You Again completely sucks.

First of all, if your heroine is so unlikeable that even Kristen Bell can't make an audience root for her, you have a serious, serious problem. Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver play their subplot to it's predictable conclusion with the deft skill of two professionals who have had to, on numerous occasions, turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. Kristin Chenowith is annoying as all hell, so she earned her paycheck. But the actress who gets let down the WORST by this script is Betty White.

Betty White. She's like, ninety years old. And the writers made her wait until the END of this movie to get a decent laugh line. They cast Betty White in a role that could easily have been played by a no-name. She's barely in most scenes as more than a cameo appearance. And the gross-out humor with the dentures? So beneath her talent, but bless dear Betty's heart, she goes for it.

The problem with the concept of the movie is that it's conceit is women are forever damaged by who they were in high school. No amount of love, success, self-actualization or healing time can mend the wounds inflicted by that "mean girl" of yore. This makes the target audience of the movie under 18 years old, because that's approximately how old you are when you realize that this is not true. Sure, it hurt to be the ugly girl growing up, but you learn how to use makeup and you move on. Maybe you catch an eating disorder or two and then you get a drinking problem, become sexually promiscuous, realize you're worth more than that, experiment with feminism, experiment with lesbianism, and then decide that the only woman who has a right to define you is yourself, or your domestic partner, the legal aide lawyer (slash veterinarian slash free-range chicken farmer).

Once you realize that the entire conceit of the movie is illogical, the rest of the plot begins to fall apart. The revenge schemes become too cruel, the fights too petty, the tragedy all too senseless. And yet, they seek to wrap this tale of obsession bordering on psychosis in a sweet bow and set it to the tune of "We Are Family" but, unlike The Birdcage, this movie still sucks.

Mani Mondays -- The Mark Rothko Manicure

I would like to say I've had this idea for a while, but it was just this evening as I was perusing through old Christie's auction catalogs that I found this gem of a painting by Mark Rothko. What a classic! And if you can't afford to own the painting, you can cut the picture out and put it on your wall....or paint it on your nails, and wear your love of obscure modern art everywhere you go!

The red-on-red tones were my inspiration here. Very little planning or forethought went into this one, I will confess. Just me, my hopes, and all the red tones I own: A red-orange, cherry red, pinkish-red, and magenta. Good luck to me.

I really think nail art should be considered one of the true decorative arts. Or at least an Olympic sport: drawing tiny pictures on your own hands with big globby paint takes twice the dexterity of curling, in my own estimation. Anyway, the colors seem to really match my inspiration painting:

Getting a decent photo of the finished product was hard: the lighting is poor, it's late, and the subtlety between the tones, while entirely intentional, makes all the photos I attempt to take look very blurry, or like an homage to the prom scene in Carrie.


Who knows what I'll think I was thinking tomorrow, but in the meantime, it's an interesting idea. Maybe next week I'll get some nail pens and go for a mod Mondrian-inspired look (NO WAY!) or a pointillist Seurat concept (maybe though).

Friday, August 12, 2011

TV -- The Worst Week of My Life (2004-2006)

Imagine, for a moment, that Meet the Parents spawned into a television series, and that series actually stayed funny all the way through (stretch of the imagination, I know). Add some of the charm and one of the stars of Coupling, and you've essentially got The Worst Week of My Life, a BBC series that chronicles the misadventures of young bridegroom Howard Steel on the way to wedding fiance Mel, played by Sarah Alexander, who has more wide-eyed over-reactions and yells in her bag of tricks than Sammi Sweetheart. Playing Howard is, ironically, Ben Miller (rhymes with another name, doesn't it?), who can't seem to win over his fiance's father.

Murphy's Law rules this comedy: anything that can go wrong, does. Every step, every decision Ben makes seems to lead him further and further down the path of self-embarrassment. However, unlike Meet the Parents, which sometimes asks us to suspend disbelief a bit too much to get its laughs (Robert deNiro's character is a spy? The cat uses the toilet? And don't even get me started on the whole "Gaylord Focker" ploy), TWWOML stays more or less in the realm of believability: for instance, the first episode begins with a seating chart mishap, a dislike for lamb stew, and the family's heirloom ring being sized small enough to fit Mel's finger. It winds up with the ring being fished out of the sewer, lamb chunks resembling feces landing on the skylight, and a weak table leg quickly spilling the seating chart all over the floor in one swift motion. I once had a teacher of acting tell us something to the effect of "real life is so real that even unreal situations seem really real," and Ben Miller carries off all these bizarre happenings with the subtle charm of Hugh Grant, as opposed to the mugging and carrying on of one Ben Stiller. I've yet to see how the relationship progresses - or should I say, deteriorates - between Howard and his prospective in-laws, but The Worst Week of My Life kicks off in grand style, leaving us wondering just how much worse it can all get. For my part, I can only imagine...

Living with Adult ADD

Okay, I've been a little pissed off about these ads:

Adam Levine has Adult ADHD

Aww, can't organize your thoughts? Wow, you've got ADHD. I mean, if you sometimes can't organize your thoughts, that must be really difficult. Have you tried...writing them down?

As an actual adult (note: I may not be an actual adult) living with actual ADHD/ADD/whatever they're calling it these days, the oversimplification and overdiagnosis of ADD and these other "behavioral disorders" makes me really angry because now, half the country is "living with ADD"!!! And almost every college student is taking Adderall.

But what this means, is that people take my ADD less seriously. Since being diagnosed at the age of 7, thanks to a very observant 2nd Grade teacher, I have been on and off medications for years, self-medicating with caffeine in the meantime. It's always a balancing act, between being focused but unable to sleep (insomnia is a bitch when you're 7) and being unfocused and lazy. I am opting for the latter, less expensive option these days, and this is just a sample of what a typical day at my house looks like:

What I Meant To Do:
Make myself lunch.
What I Did Instead:
Washed the dishes, opened the bedroom windows, folded and put away all the underwear from the laundry pile on the couch, opened the kitchen window, cleaned the bedroom windowsill with Greenworks (ahh, Greenworks!), scrubbed the dish strainer with white vinegar (to eradicate the pink mold!), washed the counter, and eventually, yes, made lunch.

What I Meant To Do:
Take my makeup off.
What I Did Instead:
Sent in a job application, added to the collage on my bedroom wall, made the bed, sprayed all the rooms in the house with room spray, opened the windows in the living room and washed the windowsills, washed the windowsill in the kitchen and put the cleaning supplies away, read an entire DIY blog all the way back to the first entry, watched half an episode of American Dad!, looked for my flashcards in the desk and on top of the bedroom dresser, texted Eli to bring home some paper towels, washed my face.

What I Meant To Do:
Study for my tour tomorrow.
What I Did Instead:
Made ice cubes, ate chicken nuggets, ate candy, ate a cheese stick (dinner?), watched another 2.5 episodes of American Dad!, read political blogs. The laundry is still sitting on the couch, BTW.

Oooh! And did I mention I can't organize my thoughts? Bah. I'm going to record my own Adult ADD commercial:

Hi, I'm living with Adult ADD. Sometimes I start boiling water, then I watch an episode of MTV's True Life, then I remember that I was hungry and I go into the kitchen to find all my water has boiled away. Then I add more water, wash some dishes, make some coffee, add the noodles, then I troll facebook for half an hour, until the hunger pangs remind me again to feed myself. I come into the kitchen to find soggy, overcooked noodles, press "brew" on the coffee pot, and throw out the noodles. I make myself a sandwich, take it in the other room, watch Teeth on Instant Netflix, then go into the kitchen to put my plate away and find cold coffee there waiting for me. I have Adult ADD.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Movie Review -- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

That's right, go ahead. Roll your eyes and judge me. Men - or should I say, straight men unaffected by Taylor Lautner's shirtless visage - are always blaming women for the creation and popularity of the Twilight series, arguably one of the least deserving best-selling book and movie series(es) of all time. Well, guys, you're right. But hey, men are responsible for slavery, Apartheid, female genital mutilation, the Holocaust, the Crusades, and most of the worlds' wars, past and current. So, how about a little perspective here, gentlemen?

Twilight gets such a bad rap. For these purposes, I'm referring only to the movies, specifically to the third movie, Eclipse. Sure, the makeup and hair department try to pull some ridiculous shit past us, trying to make us believe that everyone's wigs are OMG real hair you guys. Riiiiight. And those stupid colored contacts? Not to mention the acting! Put it all together, and visually, you've got something that might as well be Puppet Time at the Wax Museum.

But there are some redeeming factors! First of all, people are quick to condemn Twilight for encouraging horny teenage romps. Not so! Though there is a fair amount of deep eye-gazing and (yuck!) open-mouthed tweenage kissing, the backbone of the story is abstinence! Abstinence until marriage, and saving marriage until you're ready (unless your single personhood will result in a supernatural culture war). Furthermore, the only sex that occurs in the story, besides the unfortunate rape of Rosalie (oh! So tragic! But you could argue that she deserved it, to make right-wingers happy), is for the strict purpose of procreation. What could be more holy, more pure? I ask you.

The Cullens becoming "vegetarian" vampires, refusing to feast on human blood, and always being so damn nice to everyone sets an example to humans, especially those damn violent teenagers: it may be in our nature to be brutal and vicious, but we don't HAVE to be. They carry a message of peaceful resistance whenever possible, and even though all the books focus on them having to fight some outside force, it's never for greed or to cleanse the ranks of undesirable elements, it's only ever to protect themselves.

Of course, the main conflict in the stories of Twilight is that between the wolves and the vampires, which is resolved about halfway through the third story - with the two forces agreeing to come together and compromise, working together as allies for the betterment of humanity and, of course, to protect Bella. Compromise! Unity! Understanding! If only we could all work out our differences and see we are all aiming at a common goal: the need to parade around shirtless and gaze meaningfully into each others' eyes.

And come on. It's not like male-created art has any real virtue to it, so can we stop blaming women for wanting a story about a handsome male hero who sweeps an awkward brunette off her feet? Where's the higher purpose behind the Transformers series? Is it really so bad to enjoy a stupid movie where a girl wearing Chuck Taylors and flannel shirts gets asked to marry a sparkly hunk with a giant diamond ring while indie soft rock plays in the background? Not all movies have to be groundbreaking, life-changing pieces of cinema! Let he who has never watching an Austin Powers sequel cast the first stone.

So ladies, be not ashamed of your squeals of delight when Taylor Lautner shows up onscreen, shirtless, for the 7th inexplicable time in the film. And gentlemen, shame us not when a solitary tear rolls down our cheeks as Bella finally agrees to marry Edward. For we are all guilty...of guilty pleasure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WHAT DO YOU EVEN CALL THESE???


WELL??????

An unfortunate 9-year-old on the A train home last night was wearing shoes exactly like these, much to my horror.

And although my opinion of them may have been tainted by having spent almost an hour conversing with a "pretentious" asshole (see previous entry), I was still amazed at the sheer audacity of the shoemaker, combining two historically maligned shoes into one unholy marriage of ridiculously sweaty feet and outrageously bad fashion.

Even if we say, for argument's sake, that jelly shoes are retro, and Crocs are comfortable, and 9-year-old's don't typically have much say in what they do (or wear), we have to consider that some adult somehow related to this girl walked into a shoe store, picked up these shoes, and thought, "Hmm, this is a just punishment for a young girl who ruined my carefree lifestyle with her very existence. She is my cross to bear, and these Jrocs - Crelly Clogs - shall be hers."

BUT SERIOUSLY.

What do you even call these???

Anonymous Letter to The Most Repugnant and Annoying Human Being I Have Yet To Meet

Dear Nihilistic Libertarian Jerkface,

For someone who thinks children are spoiled wastes of human beings, it sure is a bold move for you to work in a toy store. You truly are the paragon of joy and wonder, I can see why it's a total fit.

Oh, it sure is clever of you to turn my self-deprecating jab at myself for being "pompous" into an argument in semantics over the difference between "pompous" and "pretentious" and then insinuate that I didn't know what I was talking about in an effort to perhaps confuse me into abandoning my line of reasoning? I was making small talk about Antonio Banderas. But perhaps you think you're the only person in New York to pass 11th grade English.

But you sure gave me insight into other human beings' behavior! Why, just being around you as you explained to me that no woman in the world can be smart, nice, AND attractive gave me the unique opportunity to watch complete random strangers wince and gaze sympathetically at me as if to issue an apology from their eyes into mine. Even curious onlookers to your self-important rants were made uncomfortable by your know-it-all attitude and incredible disregard for even the most basic of human niceties!

To you, I may be an optimistic Pollyanna, but I'd far rather be that than catch whatever negativity you spread. Because you are like a disease. You have nothing but disdain and anger for those around you, in such staggering degrees as to make even an inordinately cheerful person lose faith in humanity and abandon all hope and turn into the crumpled, dismal, spiteful image of yourself.

You see, you got me thinking. Why is it that someone who hates life, people, art, EVERYTHING as much as you do, and who has such a negative outlook on life in general that it seems almost contrary to your desires to continue to LIVE it, permitted to live in this world of so much beauty, happiness, and simple joys, when so many people before you who have had a much better outlook on a much more dismal state than being young, healthy, attractive and working and living in New York City, are torn from this world by death? Yes, to sum up my ridiculously long run-on sentence, I believe you should kill yourself, or at least allow me the pleasure of alleviating from you the burden of having to continue in a world that annoys you so much.

Sincerely,

Not Your Friend Anymore.

Maybe the weirdest dream ever...

I don't even know how to phrase this, but last night I had an elaborate dream where myself and a group of friends from middle school were on the case trying to solve a crime behind a new company that claimed to revolutionize embalming techniques. People were stored in grotesque poses in underground museums where various textures of poop rained down on you from brass tubes embedded in the ceiling. For the record, I have no idea what is wrong with me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mani Mondays -- Puttin' On My Topcoat

Before you even think it, I am NOT fishing for ideas to write about. Let me just say, I've long had a tradition of doing my nails on Monday nights, because that is the only night I find myself guaranteed to be "man-less." Men are not conducive to pointless beauty routines and other such girly indulgences. They haven't the patience for French New Wave cinema, disco music or the creativity to create a nail look inspired by an ice cream truck, and for that, they will always be the inferior species, at least in my esteem. Nay, painting my nails on Monday nights is an exciting and longstanding tradition in my household, and I shall continue to do so whether or not I document it for all the world to see.

It's usually expected, when writing about things of this ilk, that one names the products one uses. Not that I expect people to run to the stores and buy them, even though I photographed them oh-so-flatteringly by the light of lamp and candle (another pasttime which men have little patience or understanding for. MEN!), but because I enjoy the names given to nail polishes. Like the names of crayons, nail polish names have little to nothing to do with the actual color of the polish. From left to right, these beauties are: Sinful Colors' "Bali Mist", Street Wear's "Incognito", Sally Hansen Hard As Nails' "The 'It' List", and Sally Hansen's "Flawless". You may look at it and think, "That's clear!" but NO! It is a clear so clear as to render one's hands FLAWLESS and so it is named. If you put all the colors and names together, it sounds as though my fingernails must now resemble a jet-setting heiress traveling through the jungle in a trench coat and fake mustache. Which, thank you, is exactly what I was going for.

The problem with "Bali Mist" is that it seems to be, actually, a top coat. For the gents, a top coat is the same as a coat coat - nice to wear on occasion but you wouldn't really wear it without clothes underneath (unless perhaps you're an heiress stealing away to the jungle in little more than a trench coat, trying to remain unrecognized to avoid the paparazzi catching your wardrobe malfunction on film?). Unfortunately, you wouldn't know this until AFTER you buy it and put on 4,000 layers of it, trying to make it opaque. Funny how they didn't mention that on the bottle. I, for one, would prefer more transparency in the nail-polish-naming industry. And that was the sound of my heart breaking as I realized there really isn't much of a market for nail art humor.

A layer of "Incognito" and a camera flash mishap later and my nails are beginning to look more and more mysterious. See, this is exactly what I had planned all along....

Except, not. I think it's pretty futile trying to take a decent picture in this mood lighting. On to the bathroom:

And this is what my hands actually look like. It's subtle and yet rich, like an oil tycoon's daughter living in poverty in a third world country to hide her wealth and fit in with the common people. So, exactly what I was going for. I feel like we really accomplished something here.

When You Wish...

I know you're not supposed to tell what you wish for, but since I didn't officially blow out any birthday candles, I think it's safe to tell you this. And by safe, I mean, you're free to mock the crazy out of me but one of the things I secretly wished for upon the anniversary of my birth (which, if you can't tell, is celebrated all summer long until Labor Day, basically), was to be a real. bona fide. STYLE BLOGGER.

I have a hard time reconciling those sulky, self-timer photos of way-too-skinny teenagers in designer clothing with who I really am, though. Who are they? A couple photos and a paragraph? I could never be so...so...un-loquacious.

Still, I believe I can marry all the types of writing I want to do here, if I want to. I'm not paying you, Blogger. I can do what I want. So I'm going to post some pictures of how great I looked today. The gang of teenagers on the corner of 58th and Madison agreed (one whispered as I passed at me: "I love you." It's basically "Ay, Mami," but I'll take it).

Trying to look effortlessly cool, I spent 5 minutes doing my hair
(and 15 minutes photographing it).

I was going for that "Mad Men" look that's all the rage these days.
I've never watched an episode, but it's a show about people who look good and smoke a lot.

They always say, "never match your lipstick to your couch,"
but I say, TO HELL WITH YOUR RULES!!!

Uh....uh oh...I'm eating nachos already.
I'll never make it as a "serious" style blogger...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Movie Review -- Paris is Burning (1990)

At the opening of the movie, and opulently-dressed Pepper LaBeija speaks about a talk he once had with his father, about how you get strikes against you for being black, and being a man, in society. He explains he has THREE strikes against him, as he is black, a man, and gay. Later in the film, Pepper will explain why he never had a sex change operation, even while others who had believed it would make their lives easier to just be a woman, because he believes women don't have it any easier in society than transsexuals do. If these quotes are to be believed, then we can assume that you just can't win in this world.

This world being New York City, 1987-1989. And other than large, grandiose trophies, the drag queens who are the subject of this movie don't seem to win much of anything. They talk about stealing clothes for status and stealing food for survival. They describe themselves as "showgirls" or "escorts", when they are really acting as prostitutes.

Out of the desperation and discrimination in their lives they have created "Balls", where drag queens come together and put on shows, which are less like the drag pageants you may see today and more like talent shows, or fashion shows. Gay men dress up as women, models, executives, military personnel, and schoolgirls and compete in elaborate dance-offs in numerous categories. The shows they put on are fun to watch, full of sparkles, fur and "Dynasty" flair (as Dorian Corey laments), and a far cry from the reality of their lives. They conduct interviews in cramped, poorly-lit dressing rooms or dirty, run-down apartments, or on the street, flanked by straight harassers.

The movie originates in 1987, interviewing "Upcoming Legends" such as Pepper, Dorian, Anji and Venus, as well as vogue ambassador Willi Ninja, and my favourite, Octavia Saint Laurent. THe camera crew revisits them again in 1989. Willi has been successful in making "voguing" an international dance craze, hitting Sex Pistols founder Malcolm McLaren first before Madonna made it world-wide with her song and video. Dorian is still bitter that things have changed so drastically in the drag ball scene since its' founding. And Octavia and Venus, the would-be transsexual MTFs who dreamed of a sex change, fame, and life as a normal woman? Well, Venus was found murdered, strangled to death by an angry john, and left under a bed in a sleazy motel room. Octavia obviously succeeded, living out her days as a woman until her death by cancer in 2009. Pepper lived to 53 before succumbing to diabetes.

The overall tone and feel of this movie is not too different from another movie about gay life in New York City, just a decade earlier. Cruising is based on a true story and focuses on the leather bar scene, where gay men are victims of a serial murderer, living in poverty and on the fringes of society. From brutal murders in 1980, to being ostracized in 1990, to finally recognizing gays as equal in the military and in marriage in 2011, these movies may seem depressing but it's good to remember we've come a great long way in recognizing equality in New York for gays (and minorities), especially here in the city.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Everything Old is New Wave (Again)

Just in case you were wondering, I work in a toy/candy store. And it never fails to amaze me how much "new wave" music is played at my place of employment. Wikipedia (oh, please, don't pretend like you don't use it for all YOUR research) defines New Wave as any music that emerged alongside punk, but couldn't be defined as punk, and later on it was expanded to become a catchall for all those other indefinable new types of music emerging, like SynthPop (my favourite!). Perhaps, like the artists and hipsters of the 90's looked towards disco as an inspiration (Hey there, "Groove is in the Heart") and idealized it as "oldies," now in the Troubled Teens we will look at New Wave music of the 80's (generally speaking) as our "oldies" music - if I were to make my ideal playlist of this genre, it would include the following songs:

"Obsession" -- Animotion you really just have to see this video to understand what I'm going for here. They say Lady Gaga is copying Madonna, I think she has her sights set a bit higher...on ANIMOTION.
"The Metro" -- Berlin if you want to suggest that their greatest song was "Take My Breath Away," sir, you've got a fight on your hands.
"I Ran" -- A Flock of Seagulls this is, and I'm going out on a crazy limb here, probably the most widely recognized "New Wave" song I can think of. Plus, the video is evocative of everything New Wave: crazy hair, shiny things, and subpar camermanship.
"Cars" -- Gary Numan oh, and did I mention pasty skin and keyboards? The Five Pillars of New Wave.
"Once In A Lifetime" -- Talking Heads if this song doesn't change your life, then.... congratulations, you're sober. Just kidding. This song makes me cry...sometimes. When I'm not sober.
"Whip It" -- Devo if "I Ran" is not the cornerstone of New Wave, this totally is.
"Rock Lobster" -- The B52's according to legend, John Lennon had given up on creating new music until he heard this song in a club, and he returned to songwriting having been inspired by the new horizons possible in music. Also, pretty girls screaming nonsense.
"Don't You Want Me Baby" -- Human League a cookie commercial, and constant overplay thanks to 80's nostalgia distracts us from the awesomeness that is this song, which may be the most recognized on the list.
"Pop Muzik" -- M totally ahead of its time. I basically subconsciously look down on anyone who has never heard this song. I can't help it.

I totally think we can make this happen. Look at how heavily today's music relies on synthesizers anyway! It's not even a stretch! They're all obviously influenced by this stuff, if they're not outright sampling it. Next time you're at a rockin' party, and someone threatens to pop on that tired old Journey song again, liven things up with a little "Safety Dance" instead!

Just think, someday music history majors will have to listen to these songs to understand how truly messed up the 80's were, what with Reagan and Bush and designer drugs and MTV and neon fanny packs. They'll shake their heads and mutter four letter words under their breath, like "What?" and "Junk!", when they're really searching for a five-letter word instead: GENIUS.
Link

Battle of the Bad Moms

Today at the laundromat, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the two finalists in the Miss Neglectful Mother Washington Heights 2011 Pageant. I'm not sure which of them actually won, so I'm going to submit to you, my readers, to judge them by their actions:

Representing the Yuppie Gentrified Moms, with a son, age 4 and an infant daughter in a stroller, is Miss Wedge Haircut Fashion Blogger! How do I know she was a fashion blogger? Why, her crop top, emblazoned with the words "My Blog Is More Fashionable Than Yours", that's how! Also, she seemed more interested in achieving the perfect shade of artificial honey blonde than in her son, who bullied the other contestant's children and was banging on whatever he could find. But she still paid more attention to him than she did to her daughter, who is probably very young - so young, in fact, that she actually forgot she had a daughter at all! At one point, she left the laundromat, trailed by her son, leaving the daughter wailing in her stroller until she had the presence of mind, several minutes later, to send her SON back to fetch the baby and push the stroller out the door, down the step, and down the hill to meet her. Her parenting motto: "If you're potty trained, you're old enough to raise your siblings!"

Representing the Lower-Income Moms, with two sons, ages 3 and 18 months, was Miss I'm Too Old For This Shit! Miss ITOFTS used an interesting tactic to impress the judges: initially, she appeared to be interested in her children's welfare to the point of nearly micromanaging them, and then leaving them to their own devices to do literally whatever they wanted! First, she brought them in, sat them down, and forced them to eat a packed lunch while they sat fairly quietly in their seats. She then flipped the script and left BOTH children unattended in the laundromat, during which time they took turns blowing bubbles at other patrons, climbing on the employee's folding tables (even falling down, hitting their heads and crying for a spell!), running out the door and onto the sidewalk, even attempting to touch the other patrons in a sexual manner! The contest concluded when my wash cycle did, shortly after Miss ITOFTS's toddler attempted to slide his hand up my dress, clearly in an 11th hour ploy to show the type of future rapist his mother was capable of raising, thanks to her depraved indifference towards her children!

So, who will it be? Will it be the young mother who uses her children as accessories she can play dress-up with and cares little to none for their actual well-being? Or will it be our seasoned contestant, whose bipolar parenting techniques will lead her children to a life of crime? Remember, there can be only one winner, but the rest of the community all get to lose in this competition!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Your Baby Is Really Thinking...

...in the caption of the 704th facebook photo of him you've posted this week alone.

"Mommy? Why don't you have a job?"

"I barely have the neurons to tell me that eating my own fist is a bad idea. I'm clearly not enjoying this ridiculous pose you've put me in."

"I'm going to swipe soooo many twenties from your purse when I hit puberty."

"Are you fulfilled as a human being yet?"

"Am I Lindsay Lohan? Because I swear I can't take a crap without getting my picture taken."

"Thank God for giving me a penis, because you've got that Toddlers and Tiaras look on your face again."

"I'm putting up with this NOW, but I'm making a note in my Moleskine which I plan to take with me to therapy one day."

"This is my playpen. It is not an Olan Mills studio. Please learn the difference."

Reasons Why I'm Broke Because It's 100 Degrees Outside

Spending $12 on an ice cream cone from a truck comes as natural as breathing.

Air conditioners must be run constantly or I wake in the middle of the night from dreams where I am literally burning in hell only to find that I, in fact, am.

Air-conditioned stores lure me in with their fans blasting life-saving cold air out into the street, and then snag me by my pocketbook with their fall-minded fashion.

Restaurants give out free water and a cold place to sit down, and then put their tantalizing menus in front of your face. EVIL!

I spend $104 on a Metrocard only to use it twice a week to go to work and back because it's too hot to leave the house unless I'm getting paid for it.

Trying to beat the heat chemically comes with a hefty price: skin care must be anti-UV, lips are chapped, makeup is caked over sunburn, misters, hats, fans, stuff stuff stuff!

My laundromat doesn't have central air, so I must buy more clothes to make doing the laundry a less frequent necessity. But when laundry is unavoidable, frequent trips to Starbucks for life-saving iced coffee beverages are required between cycles.

The Four Types of Smelly People In New York City

In order of most tolerable to least tolerable:

"I Smell Good!"
This person has managed to defy the odds. Wearing jeans, boots, and a blazer over a sweater in 103 degree weather and 400% humidity, she (or he) smells faintly like the perfume samples from a fine ladies' magazine, and we hate them for it.

"I'm Doing the Best I Can!"
Their antiperspirant is working into overtime, and you can totally tell. Here we are now, and you smell like Teen Spirit. Or Axe body spray. Or Old Spice for Men. Points for effort. But you still kinda smell like B.O.

"I Don't Give A Crap Anymore."
I understand. It's hot, you work in construction, and you spend your day surrounded by other smelly dudes. Or, you're homeless. So for the 40 minutes you spend around other people who aren't smelly or also homeless, you don't really see the point in trying to smell like anything other than what you are: a smelly, homeless construction worker. Wait, did I just describe Jesus?

"I'm An Armpit Terrorist."
Not only are you unaware of this invention called "deodorant," you deliberately decided not to shower today. Or yesterday. And yet, you're shopping on Fifth Avenue with your wife and four kids under the age of 10. And don't think I didn't notice you leaning in extra close so that I can really taste the vinegary smell of your acrid sweat glands. You, sir, deserve the death penalty.
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