Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Love in the Modern Age

This video is sort of weird, to say the least, but cute enough that I figured I would post it. This guy is in a long-distance relationship, made this video for his girlfriend, and hopes it will get to her purely through the power of viral video. I'm not really sure what the intent of that is (I can only assume he is a blogger/social media PR person/something like that), but of course I would love for it to happen. So, send the video to all your friends! Post it on Facebook! Help the long-distance relationship stay alive!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gender stereotyping by food!

I'd rather eat a pork and chive dumpling than a Hershey's Kiss...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear "Visit California" Commercials,

Yes, people have misconceptions about California. And no, none of those misconceptions are true. That is the definition of a misconception. Please stop being redundant. Some of us watch a lot of tv, and don't want to hear your bad writing over and over.


I think this blog needs a new angle. Perhaps, "things that are bothering me today?" Mostly grammatical errors, of course... Like Shit My Dad Says, combined with those guys who drove cross-country fixing typos on signs? Everyone loves ____ meets _____, right?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This is Happening!

The LCD Soundsystem show on Thursday at the Wellmont managed to be both amazing and somewhat hilarious.

Amazing for all the reasons you would expect. James Murphy sounded great, the band sounded great, he played good songs, he seemed nice, etc., etc. Even from the balcony (which practically seemed like it would collapse), the fervor of the fans was infectious, and it was one of the truly great concerts I've been to.

But why hilarious? Well, James Murphy manages to be incongruous with both the music he makes and his audience. A chubby 40 year old, dressed like a sloppy suburban dad trying to be hip, Murphy shuffle-danced around the stage, while roughly 1000 20-somethings danced raucously to his songs about mid-30s burnout. He does not look, or come across as particularly "cool" to say the least, and certainly not the person to inspire so many indie kids (unlike Sleigh Bells, the opening act, who were like 4 years of weekends at Vassar condensed into half an hour), or to make such pure, interesting dance music.

And why do we 20-somethings listen? I mean, yes, it sounds great, and it's fun, but do we relate? Are there major differences between a midlife crisis, a mid-30s crisis, or a quarterlife crisis? All My Friends may be about that time in your life when you realize you've spent so long working on your "goals" that you've missed all the fun, and try to recapture that, but it's also a great post-college anthem, when your friends are scattered around, and you want to be able to drink on Wednesdays instead of working (not that I would know about working, but you get the point). And while he may not have looked too hip right now, Murphy did give off the air of someone who knows they used to be a lot hipper, which is what makes his songs self-aware without being self-indulgent, a rare feat among indie-popular (not to be confused with indie pop) bands nowadays.

I'm not much of a dancer, and don't tend to listen to anything that could possibly be labeled as electronica, but LCD Soundsystem really transcends all of that in a way. Whether or not I can relate with his music may be besides the point when I'm dancing to it, but it definitely doesn't hurt. And so, I'm incredibly glad that this is happening, and that this show did happen.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm Still Here

Is Joaquin Phoenix's documentary I'm Still Here a hoax? Of course. On one hand, it seems completely obvious, once you see it, that it's not remotely real. Even if you didn't read the Casey Affleck interview that admitted it was a hoax (Unless of course you just thought that was a meta-hoax. But mostly I just wanted to use the term meta-hoax). By the time I walked out of the theater it seemed rather crazy that anyone was debating that fact. On the other hand, it took me almost until the credits (which, by the way, are rather funny, with crew members such as "gene splicer" and "philosopher") to fully come to that decision.

I'm not sure anyone would deny that Joaquin Phoenix has always been a little crazy. I could be wrong about this, but I'm almost positive that his whole "there's frogs on my head" red carpet walk was during press for Walk the Line, which happened at least a year before the documentary started. But the type of crazy he displays in I'm Still Here is just sort of sad. To believe that this is real, you essentially have the believe that his friends and management team are all terrible people. How else could they not only watch their friend and client self-destruct like this (doing lots of cocaine, having both private and public meltdowns) without intervening, but in some cases, actively encourage him, and record it all? It may not be completely unfathomable, but still, it's hard to believe.

But assuming you believe/know that it was a hoax, that still leaves two questions. First, who was in on it? Casey Affleck claims that Letterman didn't know about the hoax during Joaquin's infamous interview, but other sources claim that Letterman did know. And what about P. Diddy (since apparently the correct name to call him is "Diddy"...) and Ben Stiller, both of whom make appearances? Diddy seemed guilty, but not too guilty, when he nearly makes Joaquin cry, and if Ben Stiller didn't know the insanity was a hoax, it his Oscar sketch just seems cruel, since he would be making fun of someone who seems to have a real problem. Plus, to be honest, Ben Stiller doesn't seem like he has much of a sense of humor in real life, so I doubt he would agree to have his scenes in the movie if he didn't know. And what about the audience member Joaquin fights at his show in Miami? I'm pretty sure he was planted there for the sake of the movie. I really can't decide whether or not Letterman knew, but I assume Diddy and Ben Stiller did, which seems to simultaneously add depth to the hoax (that so many people knew) and cheapen it (that so many people knew).

Secondly, what's the point? I know this question is asked a lot about art in general, and performance art in particular*, but it really struck me with this movie, particularly as it's described as a "hoax." To me, a hoax seems to have some sort of point, unlike a mere prank. And this doesn't really seem to have a point. Maybe it's to somehow do an expose of our celebrity culture, and how we'll talk about anything to do with anyone famous, and love to hate celebrities to the point of making fun of someone who seems to have a problem. But that point is murky at best. It seems like Joaquin was just always a bit wary of celebrity status, and wanted to see what he could get away with, and what people would believe. And that's not much of a purpose.

Supposedly Joaquin is getting a lot of offers for acting roles after this, which actually surprises me a little. I wouldn't have been shocked if his announcement about retiring from acting was the only true thing in the movie, but I guess not even that is. In some ways it's a complete testament to his acting skills that people were so unable to tell whether this whole thing was real or not. He really does give the performance of his career, as Casey Affleck called it. But just the fact that he did this makes him seem like somewhat of an unlikeable person. Maybe that's just because I'm one of the mass media-consuming people he tried to pull the hoax on. It just doesn't really seem like a springboard to another Oscar-nominated role. But what do I know? At least he'll always have his rap career...**

* I most often think about this in relation to Lady Gaga. Is she Lady Gaga all the time? Is it a performance? Is she in on the fact that its' ridiculous? Does the performance aspect of it undermine the fact that she's talented, or does her talent allow her to do such crazy things? Do I really care, as long as Just Dance and Paparazi are played?
** Turns out he's not quite as bad a rapper as the online videos made him seen. Sure, he's not great, or even particularly good, but he's far from the worst rapper I've heard. In fact, given the love of AutoTune in today's music world, Joaquin could probably have a reasonably successful career, as long as no one knew it was him...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's been a while...

I guess I could tell you about my family's trip to Vancouver and Seattle, and how I found Vancouver somewhat unsettling, an uncrowded, too quiet simulacrum of the Miami skyline. Or I could tell you about my trip to DC, various trips to New York City (including Fashion's Night Out, which was basically a fabulous Mardi Gras of the well-dressed on Fifth Avenue), or my upcoming trip to Boston.

Or I could write the entry I had been planning for a while, about the NY Time's article on 20-somethings, and whether being lost, jobless, and confused is a new life phase. I could tell you that while the article itself was much better than most of the writing the Times does on my age group, they more or less skipped over the important influences of somewhat over-supportive parents and school systems (who insist that their kids can do anything they want, and only deserve the best), and the economy. And, as usual, they use pictures that suggest that we are all hipsters, which is clearly not true. As a lost, confused, jobless 20-something, I recognized far too much of myself in that article, though completely disagree that this is a new phase of development.

Of course, being lost and confused doesn't just apply to joblessness. After taking the GREs, in the midst of studying for the English Lit GREs, after looking at various programs, and emailing professors for recommendations, I've made the (not quite set) decision to not go to grad school next year, despite having been set for the past few months on going to an English PhD program next fall. But, like most of the jobs I've looked at, nothing just quite feels right when it comes to grad school, and I just can't really picture myself committing to so many years of school, or a career based on that schooling.

I could write about how both of the above tie into the fact that I'm planning on moving to Maryland at the beginning of October, to live with my cousin and continue to job hunt. I could try to explain why I want to leave the Manhattan area, despite the fact that most of my friends are here, and I know I'll never stop believing that it's the center of the universe. But most of my reasons for that aren't quite conscious or logical, except that I need to see what else is out there.

On a lighter note, I could tell you about the wonderful t.v. that goes along with unemployment, as I'm currently watching a third episode in a row of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami; the Kardashians have become a bit of a fascination lately. Or on a more pretentious, but equally entertaining to some, note, I could try to say something smart and witty about Infinite Jest and my current reading odyssey.

These entires, and others that I don't even remember have more or less been written in my head, in those intervals where I try to go to sleep "early" and end up thinking up blog entries, or emails, or conversations instead. But none have been put on paper (or screen), and so most of the details have been lost over time, and as you can probably tell by the fact that my last entry was over a month ago, this blog can be called somewhat dead. I don't think it will die completely for a while, but having nothing to do makes it hard to think about/do anything, and once I have things to do, I won't update much either, for obvious reasons. As I've learned from various job descriptions, social media has become a really important part of the landscape of today's culture, and I don't want to fully give this up. Hopefully some insightful/funny/whatever blog entries will appear soon...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where I'll be August 22

Not a Prostitution Whore

I've been mentally decorating my currently non-existent apartment for next year, and the one thing that's really missing is as much marble as possible. Good thing this opportunity came up!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thoughts on The Social Network

1. Why the hell are they making a movie about Facebook? This will be terrible!
2. But with this cast and director, it can't really be bad...
3. No, it has to be bad.

While watching the trailer:
4. This cover of Creep in the trailer is almost as good as the original. And the song is really perfect for this...
5. An awesomely bad movie?
6. Maybe just awesome?
7. This is probably every exciting scene.
8. Definitely see this movie.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Modern Dating?


Or I could just look at this: Cute Boys with Cupcakes

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Signs of a Post-Grad Summer

11. Embarrassingly high Text Twist scores.
12. You finally learn those life lessons/heed the advice that would have been more helpful months ago, when you were too busy staring at your thesis and drinking on Wednesdays to pay attention.
13. Those few words about Lady Gaga? Maybe after I get around to actually opening my GRE book and finishing unpacking (yes, from Vassar).
14. You're blogging at 2:15 am, and it's not because you're awake avoiding homework. In fact, there's no real reason you're awake, and you're kind of tired, but you probably won't go to bed for another hour or so. That would involve moving.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Perfectly timed for my reading of Ulysses, even if I'm not that far along.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World's Largest Cupcake?

Okay, I know I promised Lady Gaga, but first: cupcakes, a subject very close to my heart.

Last night, I happened to catch a rerun of the Ace of Cakes episode where Duff makes the "world's largest cupcake" (certified by the Guinness Book of World Records!) for a charity bake sale at the Mall of America. There are a lot of things wrong with this, but let's focus on the major two:

1. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a cupcake is a "small iced cake in a cup-shaped foil or paper container." According to Alton Brown, the term cupcake came into use because back in the day, a cup was the most convenient container to bake a cake in. So, if a cupcake is really just a small cake (and I think we can all agree on that), then the world's largest cupcake is...a cake. Just a cake. Not a cupcake. Duff, as a baker, should understand this. I missed the beginning of the episode, but I'm pretty sure Geoff (the best person on the show) agrees with me. And the "cupcake" didn't even meet the second part of the definition! It was not in a cup-shaped paper container, but just had fondant mimicking the folds of a cupcake paper.

2. So maybe Duff doesn't agree that a large cupcake is just a cake. But he should at least know that a cupcake is a single entity. Not a vaguely cupcake-shaped shell filled with cakes and frosted on top to make it look like a cupcake. It's just a whole bunch of cakes put together to masquerade as a cupcake. Luckily, the Guinness Book of World Records agrees with me, and took away Duff's claim to the world's largest cupcake because his was made in multiple parts.

Common sense, Duff. Stick to your cakes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The best, snarkiest quote about celebrities that I've read this week (in reference to Katy Perry):
You look like what would happen if someone dipped Zooey Deschanel and a funfetti cupcake in a vat of toxic waste and topped it off with a few hundreds pounds of high grade trucker meth.

Coming soon: a few words about Lady Gaga

Friday, June 4, 2010

10 Signs of a Post-Grad Summer

1. You set your alarm for 10:30 so you can be "productive," wake up at 11:15, realize you don't really have much to do, get up anyway, and need a nap by 12:45.

2. You kind of relate to a Ke$ha song... and it's not Tik Tok (Note: If you relate at all to any Kes$ha song, it may be time to reevaluate your life. Good time the summer after you graduate is the perfect time for that!).

3. A glance at your bookshelf prompts 45 minutes of Wikipedia-searching about the author of your favorite YA novel, which leads to more internet searching to see if they are in fact making one of her books into a movie. Even though it wasn't your favorite book of hers, this would be the most exciting thing to happen since graduation. (This was followed by hearing Lifehouse's Hanging by a Moment on the radio... Hello, middle school!)

4. Unpacking one suitcase took almost a week, and there's still more to be done.

5. At an awards night for high school seniors, hearing how special the Class of 2010 is makes you simultaneously want to cry, run away, and throw things.

6. Job applications are generally filled out in a 1am frenzy.

7. The absolute last question you want anyone to ask you is what you're doing in the fall, but you can't seem to start a conversation that doesn't somehow bring up next year.

8. Number of daily Perez Hilton visits? Too embarrassing to admit.

9. Your only real summer plans are applying for jobs, studying for the GREs, and growing out your bangs (and reading big books, of course).

10. Coming up with a tenth sign of a post-grad summer is too daunting. So are most other things.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What do you do with a B.A. in English?

It's been a long time since I've written here, and in that time, I've finished my thesis, written my last undergraduate papers, and graduated college. Time for a sappy post about how much the last four years have meant to me, right? Wrong. As I'm sure many of you know, the job market out there is tough. Particularly for someone with two majors that don't give you any real specialized skills. So, of course, I've been wondering, as I hunt for a job for next year, what do you do with a B.A. in English? It seems there are at least a few options:
1. publishing
2. try to be a "writer"
3. editing
4. journalism
5. more school

Many English majors will do at least one, probably a few, of these. I thought I wanted to do #4, hope to do #5 after next year, and will never, ever do #2, if only for lack of talent. And yet, none of these quite cover my perfect English major plans. If I could do anything with my major, it would be something along the lines of this: The Displaced English Major. Will I get a job for next year, and later in life? Yes (or at least I hope so). Will I go back to school, learn more things, etc? I plan on it. But mostly, I just want to read. Not even talk about what I'm reading or write about it, but simply take in the information that's on the page in front of me, think about it on my one, and keep going, book after book.

Except for some travel, and applying for lots of jobs, this is roughly my summer plan. I'm planning on reading both Ulysses and Infinite Jest, the first because English majors and professors are obsessed with Joyce and I've already read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and the second because my postmodern literature class ruined my life this past semester. Very different books, but I feel like I just need to read both.

Which brings me to projects like the Displaced English Major. This sort of thing is absolutely something I would do, reminiscent of my Oscar movie project (more on that in a later entry), and many of these books are ones I've either read or would love to read. But looking at this list makes me question why exactly I want to read them. If there's one thing I learned from my liberal arts education (besides, of course, that the patriarchy is holding me down), it's that the "canon" of literature is sort of bullshit, at least partly because it's created by the patriarchy of white men. In some ways, it's obviously true. Canonical literature is heavy on dead white men, who don't quite represent the full range of literature. But there's also some extent to which the canon is the canon for a reason. These books are widely considered the best-written, the most interesting, or somehow important. And there's nothing wrong with wanting to read books with those qualities. I wouldn't read a book just because it's canonical, just as I wouldn't read a book by someone just because the author is a woman. To do that is ridiculous, and so the Displaced English Major project makes me a little wary. Being well-read isn't particularly impressive if you read the books because you feel you should, rather than because you want to. I hope Rense is reading these books because she is truly interested in them, but it's a bit hard to tell.

Either way, it makes me a little sad that my reading plans stop at two books, even if they're very long books. Perhaps I'll create an even more epic reading list, and blog about all of them here, but like I said, I really just want to read, not write about the books, at least for now. So if you need me, I'll be sitting outside, taking a break from wondering what the hell you do with a B.A. in English to read some Joyce.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I will not be trying a peanut butter and bacon Shake Shack burger anytime soon, apparently: http://westsideindependent.com/2010/04/24/shake-shack-peanut-butter-burger-fans-line-up-around-block/


For those of you who may not actually spend much time with me, it's a well-known fact that I love burgers. Red meat of all kinds, really. And I think there are few things bacon can't make better. There's a restaurant in NYC that serves bacon tempura (on a salad!), and while most of you are probably feeling your arteries clogging up just reading that phrase, I've been dying to try it since I heard about it. Seriously, if you're interested, let me know, because apparently no one else is.

And while, being from New Jersey, I will defend my diner burgers to the death, I have to say the best burger I've had is Shake Shack. This is obviously not an unusual opinion. It's kind of like saying you like Bright Eyes. Maybe not everyone has heard them, or heard of them, but in recent years, they've become mainsteam, and a huge group of people will judge you for saying they're your favorite band, even if they really like Bright Eyes. But anyway, I don't care. Shake Shack is delicious, and always worth the wait. I also love introducing people to their burgers, so if you've never had Shake Shack, and want to, I will totally come with you.

So anyway, like I said, I love Shake Shack, and think bacon makes almost everything better. So bacon on a Shake Shack burger? Has to be delicious, right? However, I am very, very torn about this new peanut butter and bacon burger they're serving. Obviously I would love bacon on my Shake Shack burger, but peanut butter? I have to say, I've never had bacon and peanut butter together, and I think it sounds like it could be reasonably good. The fats and salt could work well together, and the textures probably do too. But I really don't think I want peanut butter on my burger, let alone with my bacon and burger. Too much, Shake Shack, too much. Or at least that's what I think in theory. I will definitely be trying this sometime in the upcoming months, and I'll let you know how it goes. I just don't have high hopes.

Or maybe everything's just a little bit of a letdown after Double Downs...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Fashion Plea

Dearest Vassar students,

If it is warm enough for you to wear shorts, or a skirt without tights, it it too warm for you to be wearing boots. Give your feet/calves a break! Also, you kind of look like a dumbass.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Golden Finch and the Red Oak Tree

There's a sense that if one if from New Jersey, one must completely and totally be from New Jersey. If someone asks you to describe yourself, the correct answer is not "I'm 21, I'm an English major, etc." The correct answer is "I'm from New Jersey, etc." Pretty much all New Jerseyans I know despised the state until they went to college, where we learned that everyone else hates our state, and thus we must learn to love it. We will defend our right to have someone pump our gas, tell others that only the highways smell bad, and damnit, we will love Jersey Shore, while pointing out that only two of them are actually from New Jersey. We may still hate the other half of the state (fuck you, South Jersey), but it's only because they're the ones who give our state a bad name. This love/hate relationship seems pretty standard for almost all college-aged New Jerseyan friends, at least the ones from Vassar. Learning to love New Jersey, it seems, is a rite of passage, and once we reach it, we won't shut up about it.

This way of thinking is also completely embedded in our music scene. As this NYT article puts it: “Every great song about New Jersey has always been pretty much about getting out of there,” said Mr. Stickles, a native of Glen Rock, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, the day of the album’s release on the XL label. “The Monitor,” a glorious, rambunctious, unsettling album, has a more complicated proposition. Its protagonist starts out escaping to Boston, but comes to realize that hiding is folly: his home state is embedded in him. By the end of the album, he’s headed back, doing the things he hoped he would stop, becoming the person he’s tried to avoid becoming, even though he was that person all along.

People who write about childhoods/life in New Jersey seem to have the sense that they are not just writing a narrative that happens to take place in New Jersey. They are writing about a specific type of life or childhood that can only take place in New Jersey. Is this true? Probably not. If someone had a similar family to mine, was pushed into similar activities, had a somewhat similar personality, I'm sure our lives could be roughly described the same way, even if they grew up in a South Orange-sized town in Nebraska or Wyoming. And being from New Jersey is not necessarily more meaningful than being from anywhere else. New Jersey stands for something in the outside world, but so does New York, or California, or Massachusetts. Or even Maine or Idaho.

It's difficult to separate a location from its meaning, but New Jerseyans seem to have a particularly hard time with this. I know plenty of people who enjoy Ted Leo's music who are not from New Jersey. They understand the tropes of childhood, of growing up, of everything else he writes about. He could easily be writing about their lives, but I know better. I know he's writing about the singular New Jersey experience, and while specific components of that experience can be generalized, as a whole, other people just can't understand it. (Note: this is clearly an exaggeration of how I actually feel).

Or maybe not. Maybe New Jerseyans are all just self-centered tools (because God knows we have a lot of those in our state), who try too hard to own the few things we're proud of when the rest of the country calls us the armpit of America. But I will take my Springsteen, Lauryn Hill and Ted Leo albums, watch Garden State (incidentally about my town in particular, although not a very good movie) and Kevin Smith movies, and use my New Jersey tote bag no matter how far from home I move. Because no matter where I end up, I will never really leave New Jersey, and I will always be proud of that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm usually not much of a sappy person, but I find this unbearably sweet, if maybe a little cliched:
First Kisses

Friday, April 2, 2010

Philip Roth Again

Because he writes too well, and too close to home to not be heard from. The Counterlife in particular takes place mostly in my hometown, while his other books take place in and around Newark, in the era of the Newark Jews; my dad's family that I only know from his sporadic stories. Despite the obvious huge generation gap between me and Philip Roth, the anxieties about secular Judaism, about New Jersey, about what those things mean for one's identity are all, to varying extents, huge parts of my life, and I'm glad someone writes about them as well as he does. After reading American Pastoral, all I wanted to do was write, because if I could write a sentence even a quarter as good as some of the sentences in there I would be happy. I wouldn't necessarily say his books are for everyone; the religion, place, and family influence are obviously a lot of the reason why I like him. But I highly recommend his books to anyone, anyway.

"Henry remembered that after the lecture, during the question period, Nathan had been asked by a student if he wrote 'in quest of immortality.' He could hear Nathan laughing and giving the answer...'If you're from New Jersey,' Nathan had said, 'and you write thirty books and you win the Nobel Prize, and you live to be white-haired and ninety-five, it's highly unlikely but not impossible that after your death they'll decide to name a rest stop for you on the Jersey Turnpike. And so, long as you're gone, you may indeed be remembered, but mostly by small children, in the backs of cars, when they lean forward and tell their parents, 'Stop, please, stop at Zuckerman - I have to make a pee.' For a New Jersey novelist that's as much immortality as it's realistic to hope for.'"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Let it be this way then, the lost way. Life is the adventure of losing your way - and it's about time I found out!"

- Philip Roth, The Counterlife

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Productive Day

See #28 on the list on fastest solvers? Yeah, that would be me. I guess 2-5 crossword puzzles a day for the past four years or so has paid off. Too bad I can't actually solve a New York Times crossword puzzle after Tuesday...

Update: I actually did Wednesday's puzzle apparently. I guess they go online a day early? The good news is that I can solve Wednesday's puzzle now (they get harder as the week goes on). The bad news is that I'm now #152 on the list of fastest solvers. But somehow I don't think I'll ever be able to solve the NY Times crossword puzzle in 3 minutes...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

This weather makes me want to take naps outside, listen to indie pop, and take sun-drenched pictures of people I care about. I've definitely been doing the second one, but I doubt I will get around to the other two soon, especially because it's supposed to rain next week. But at least the fact that the library isn't open today let me take a break from the computer screen and sit outside, even if it was just to do more work.

Break is winding down, and although I'm happy to have almost all my friends back at Vassar, I'm not so happy about everyone else coming back. I've liked the deserted paths, the deserted library, the deserted THs. The quiet and small groups have been exactly what I needed, and I feel like the beauty of Vassar right now will only be marred by the activities of the entire campus.

But it feels like spring is here to stay, and despite all the scary and/or not-so-good things spring will bring, I'm starting to think things will change for the better. And if there's anything I need right now, it's a little bit of change, and a lot of sunshine.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Down the rabbit hole

When I first heard Tim Burton was making Alice in Wonderland in 3-D, my thoughts were along the same lines as when I heard he was remaking Willy Wonka: 1. He'll ruin it! It will be too Tim Burton-ish and weird! and 2. I guess if anyone's going to remake it, it should be him. and specifically for this: Why does everything need to be in 3-D?! Turns out I was mostly wrong about 1 and 3.

If anything, this movie should really be called a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, although I don't know what the actual title of the movie should be in that case. The characters are all there, and some scenes (i.e. the tea party) are the same, but Alice is about 18 years old, this is her second visit to Wonderland (or Underland, as it's called in the movie, which is stupid and unnecessary), and the situations themselves are almost entirely new. In this version, Alice returns to Wonderland, and is supposed to slay the Jabberwocky, which will allow the White Queen to take over from the evil Red Queen. Of course, no one is sure she's the "right Alice."

But let's start with the queens. Yes, Helena Bonham Carter looks unnecessarily weird, but I think she actually did a fantastic job. Despite being a composite of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland and the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass, but hey, it's a sequel. A truly evil queen wouldn't have worked in this movie, so the humor and insanity that Carter puts into it made her into a much better character. Sure she was over-the-top, but that's kind of how she needed to be. The White Queen on the other hand: eh. I know Anne Hathaway can act, so I'm more inclined to blame the character than her, especially when it was a small part, but she had no personality, and her affectations came off as annoying, rather than a necessary part of her character.

Also, nerdy side note: Maybe this is mostly because I'm taking a class on Elizabeth I, but the Red Queen is absolutely Queen Mary and the White Queen is definitely (but less directly) Elizabeth. I mean, they even call the Red Queen the Bloody Queen! And the White Queen being somewhat trapped in her castle while her followers plan a rebellion she may or may not be involved in? Definitely the Wyatt Rebellion rewritten to be successful. I'm also 99% sure there was a picture of Henry VIII (Mary and Elizabeth's father) in the Red Queen's castle.

Anyway, if there's one thing that was too Burtonesque, it was Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Of course I hate to say anything bad about Johnny Depp, but I think he had a little too much fun with this role. His part was much, much bigger than in the books, and to some extent the character development added depth to the plot, but it was mostly unnecessary, and I think it would have worked better if Depp toned it down a bit. You don't need to be a serious actor? Alright, we get it. You also don't need to change your accent every five minutes.

I have to say Tim Burton was right when he said he's never seen a version of Alice in Wonderland that captures the true essence (not that I've seen many versions, although I have a strong recollection of one with Whoopi Goldberg and some people on roller skates), but I'm not entirely sure he does either. He said he wanted to make a "warrior" version of Alice, which I don't think is the essence, but she was a lot more vulnerable than I thought. I think the movie succeeded because there was plenty of basic things (i.e. characters) for people who don't know the books well, and lots of little things for people who do know them well, but Burton also managed to create something entirely new. Framing the story with Alice having to kill the Jabberwocky may seem kind of silly, but I really liked it, and not just because that poem is one of two that I know by heart. It gave the movie purpose, and direction, and allowed Alice to really shine. Even the 3-D was done reasonably well, and wasn't nearly as gimmicky as I would expect from Tim Burton. All in all, it wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but I liked it far more than I thought I would, and would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Daily self-esteem

This is why I'm hot

Correct punctuation in text messages? Obscene amounts of trivia? Lack of dancing skills? Competitiveness? Omg, I am so hot right now. And if you're reading this, you probably have at least some of this qualities too. Congratulations, you're hot!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Love NJ

Popular News Topics on nj.com:

1. New Jersey corruption
2. New Jersey traffic
3. New Jersey transit
4. Weird New Jersey news
5. New Jersey shootings
6. New Jersey plane crashes

We are corrupt, morbid, and drive a lot. Awesome!

And our hockey team really likes to fight...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New color scheme? The old one was feeling drab and wintery. Not that this is quite so springy, but it's better. What do you think? I can't decide if I like it or not...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Side note: My overuse of ellipses is titles is atrocious. As is my overuse of them in text messages, emails, and any other non-schoolwork form of writing. This must be really annoying, so tell me to stop! Most of the time they're totally unnecessary, and only make me sound unsure of myself. Which I am quite a bit of the time, but rarely in blog post titles or text messages.

Also, my blog took a bit of a detour into Xanga/Livejournal-dom the other day, which I'm really trying to avoid with this, because it's childish and passive-aggressive, so sorry for that. So I plan on sticking to movie reviews, fashion reviews, postmodernism, and all that sort of good stuff from now on. Who wants to read about my feelings when they can read about the Oscars and other blogs?

Alice in Wonderland review coming soon (for real this time). Teaser: I thought it was mostly wonderful (pun intended), which I totally wasn't expecting.

And the Oscar goes to...

Well, no one really, because this show wasn't that great, but let's start at the beginning.

Which of course is the red carpet. Sometimes, I love the red carpet more than the show itself, because I really love couture. But this red carpet was just lackluster. There were some horrible dresses (Zoe Saldana, the usually beautiful Diane Kruger), and some great ones (Gabourey Sidibe, Carey Mulligan, etc.), but mostly a lot of "Oh, she looks really good for her" (Tina Fey, Meryl Streep), and "That dress wouldn't be so bad if it were a different color/this one detail was different" (Anna Kendrick, Charlize Theron). Even George Clooney didn't look all that great, and that never happens. Seriously George, get a haircut. And now that I have a Vogue subscription/followed Fashion Week, the lack of good dresses was even more disappointing, because I've been seeing designers do some really wonderful things lately, and I wish that was represented on the red carpet. And obviously these dresses are chosen far in advance, but I would have liked to see someone in an Alexander McQueen. Not even Sarah Jessica Parker, possibly his biggest fan, was wearing one of his designs; instead she decided to put some metallic embroidery on one of her curtains, wrap it around herself, and call it an outfit. Ew.

As far as best dressed goes, I would probably have to say Gabourey Sidibe. Obviously she's quite a bit bigger than the average Hollywood star, but she really dressed to flatter her body and the dress itself was beautiful and age-appropriate. I would totally wear it. As for the other top 9? I'll get back to you on that.

And the show itself? Once again, let's start at the beginning. If it's entertainment news and on the internet, I will most likely find it. I had no idea about Neil Patrick Harris opening the show. Good job, Oscars! He's one of the most loved and lovable people in Hollywood right now, and that worked really well. Alec and Steve themselves were perfectly decent hosts. A bunch of their jokes were hilarious, a few were wonderfully off-color, and most were at least mildly funny, although a lot did fall flat. They played well off each other, but something about it came off as vaudeville-esque, like they were going to throw pies in each others' faces or do some other slapstick humor any second. That's not bad necessarily, but it wasn't as interesting as it could have been. Case in point? My grandma thought they were the best Oscar hosts ever. My grandma has a wonderful sense of humor, but it's also a bit indicative of the time she grew up in...

The show wasn't actually any longer than previous ones, despite the 10 nominees for Best Picture and those somewhat silly video introductions for each category. Maybe it was those things, or the lack of Best Song nominees singing, or maybe I was just distracted, but the show felt a lot longer than usual, and I think it just really wasn't that interesting. Everyone's speeches were reasonably short and appropriate, and the presenters mostly just did their jobs and that was it. Even Ben Stiller's Na'vi impression wasn't nearly as good as his Joaquin Phoenix impression last year (which I totally thought may be Devandra Banhart when he first came out, but clearly that wouldn't happen at the Oscars). All in all, the show wasn't bad, but wasn't too good either. Either way, I can't wait for next year's Oscars!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blogging Idols

I've been reading this blog, Smart, Pretty, and Awkward, for a while. When I first heard about it, I was really excited, because I like to think I'm reasonably smart, reasonably pretty, and well, sometimes (often) I just can't help being awkward. I would never turn down anything that claims it will help me be smarter, prettier, and less awkward. And while a lot of the blog is great, the truth is, the advice is sometimes dubious (manicure every week in the middle of a recession...?), and the woman who writes it seems like one of those people with inspirational quotes hanging on their walls, which if you know me at all, you know is not the kind of person I would generally take advice from. Nothing wrong with some inspiration, but the advice is sometimes just a bit too...I don't know how to describe it. The best I can do is to describe her as an inspirational-quotes person.

But anyway, a few days ago, Smart, Pretty, and Awkward pointed me in the direction of what will definitely be my new obsession: Cupcakes and Cashmere. It's mostly a fashion blog, with a lot of posts about food, some posts about life in general, etc. But it has absolutely beautiful pictures, of both the person who writes it and other people, and I have a huge girl crush on her now. Anyone who writes almost exclusively about food and fashion will have my heart, but everything about the blog is just so beautiful. And it won Best Fashion Blog at the Bloggie Awards (whatever the hell those are) this year, beating out The Sartorialist and The Cut, which is a huge deal.

So check out the blogs. Maybe keep reading mine, but know it will never be this level.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gonna write you a letter...

I've always been more comfortable with writing than with talking, and in some ways, more comfortable with fictional characters than with real people. Maybe this is because when I was younger I didn't have a ton of friends and read a lot of books, but maybe I was that way because I was more comfortable with fictional people. Regardless, we've been talking a lot about identity and authorship in my postmodern literature class, and about how writing about someone takes away their own sense of their identity. You deny someone a voice by fictionalizing them, or even writing about them in a purely nonfictional way.

I think the same goes for writing to someone. If I have an issue with you, I probably won't talk to you directly (although I'm getting better!). Instead, I'll write articulate letters that I'll never send, and if you try to talk to me, you'll be stuck with inarticulate ramblings about how I don't know what I want. It's somewhat obvious how writing about a real person turns them into a fictional character, but maybe less obvious how writing to someone makes them into a fictional character. Or maybe it's obvious to everyone, but the point is that when you write to someone, you're not having a conversation. Hopefully, they'll respond, and you'll respond, and you'll go back and forth, but in the act of writing, you are the only one there. You get to put all your thoughts and feelings down without giving them a chance to respond in a way that could change the course of the conversation. You are not talking to the real person, but a version of what you hope the real person would be. You can anticipate what they say, and maybe that's exactly what they will say, but who knows? You create the version of the person that you want to talk to when you write to them.

Can true identity ever come from writing? Even in an autobiography, you write a fictionalized portrayal of yourself; how you see yourself or want to see yourself may not be how others see you or how you know you are. Is there such a thing as true identity? Who owns it? Am I being ruined by my postmodernism class? What do you think? Write me a letter, Box 3071. I promise I'll respond.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"He believed it was a natural law that men with secrets tend to be drawn to each other, not because they want to share what they know but because they need the company of the like-minded, the fellow afflicted - a respite from the other life, from the eerie realness of living with people who do not keep secrets as a profession of duty, or a business fixed to one's existence." -Don DeLillo

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Just for you...

I said the best movies were "theoretically" coming soon. Well now I can tell you all about the difference between a theory and a paradigm, but I guess that doesn't really matter... Anyway, in no particular order, the top movies of 2009, well before it's time for the 2010 list, which is for some reason very heavy on the kids movies:

1. An Education: I will admit a huge part of the reason I liked this so much is the early 1960s fashions. And the fact that I've been to the random small town in Greater London where it takes place. But regardless of that, Carey Mulligan was fabulous, as was Peter Skarsgaard. The desire to do something better/more fun/bigger than what people except of you is certainly something I can understand.

2. Where the Wild Things Are: A lot of people didn't like this movie. They thought it was too dark/too whimsical/ruined their childhood. They are wrong. To be fair, it's not really a "kids movie." It is a movie for 18-34 year olds who want to relive childhood and feel infinite again. It was complex, and heartwarming, and sad, and yes, definitely whimsical.

3. Coraline: My opinion in animated movies this year is probably controversial. The first 20 minutes or so of Up were better than most real movies this year, but the rest of the movie wasn't my favorite. It was good, sure, but I think as a whole I found Coraline more enjoyable. Perhaps because it was quirkier, and we all know I love quirky...

4. 500 Days of Summer: In case you didn't believe that I love quirky...Realistically, this was not a "best of the year" movie by almost any standard. But I'm kind of obsessed with both of the lead actors, and desperately want Zooey Deschanel's wardrobe from this. And to be her, but slightly less bitchy. The musical scene was fabulous, and despite it's occasional corniness (the ending with Autumn, ugh), I think it did have some interesting things to say about love.

5. The Brothers Bloom: Another quirky one, but a little-seen one. Which is sad, because it was a really excellent movie. The acting was great, the story was original, and the ending actually had a twist you didn't quite see coming, and that kept you guessing for a bit.

6. Julie and Julia: Like most people, I could have cut out Amy Adams' part completely and just watched Meryl Streep as Julia Child. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Amy Adams' performance, but damn that character was annoying. Julia Child more than made up for it. She was funny, over-the-top, and just extremely lovable and I want her kitchen at the end. And Stanley Tucci of course was great too.

7. Ponyo/The Fantastic Mr. Fox: These two go together simply because I'm not sure I can justify giving so many spots to kids movies. I had watched My Friend Totoro before seeing this, and wasn't too thrilled with Miyazaki's attempt at making a straightforward kids movie. Ponyo, however, was fabulous. It didn't pretend to be anything it wasn't and it just worked so well. As did The Fantastic Mr. Fox. George Clooney's voice made this fox the foxiest I've ever heard. I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan, and I know people who aren't didn't love the movie, but I mean, c'mon it's a quirky kids movie, what's not to love?

8. A Single Man: Realistically, I didn't like this as much as I thought I would. But since I had been waiting/excited about it for months, that's not necessarily a terrible thing. Colin Firth was amazing and understated, Julianne Moore looked incredible, and I always love seeing the boy from About a Boy all grown up (check out the British show Skins if you feel the same way). People criticized that it was too much style over substance, and while it was very stylized and exquisitely detailed, Colin Firth's performance was incredibly substantive.

9. Up in the Air: I feel like people have already sort of beat this to death as "the best movie!" I think sometimes I forget that George Clooney really is an actor and not a movie star, and he was just the heart of this movie. Of course the movie was heart-breaking, but that's a different story. The story I love about it though is that Jason Reitman actually wanted to make this movie before Juno, but it kept getting pushed back, and it just so happened that it ended up being really timely. I think things like that can really help make a movie...

10. Avatar: The story was atrocious. It was barely passable as a movie I would actually want to watch, and I'm very upset it won Best Picture at the Golden Globes. But the technical feat alone makes it one of the best movies as the year. See my post on the movie.

That's my 10, though there are probably some I've seen this year that I've forgotten, and definitely some one that are considered really good I haven't seen, like Precious and The Hurt Locker.