I believe in advertising
Or, HSBC does.
Take a bath
Image via Getty
If there ever was a time, pick now. The only part of the Holdays that makes me endlessly depressed is how much hideous stuff people get and give and it just proliferates a cycle of awful that really, let’s face it, can be nipped quickly in the bud with a little old-fashioned honesty and a slight bit of creativity. Or, a really good gift receipt.
A few ideas if you’re still tossing that ball of coal in the air, getting ready to put it in my stocking:
Not everyone has the time to totally redo the entire packaging of a product, carefully removing the original label off the box like in my favorite scene from Catch Me If You Can where he takes the TWA logo off of tons of model planes (the really good stuff starts at about 1:15). But if you are so thoughtful, consider trying to become an Über design pro and strip stuff down to its bare essentials, like these design dudes did.
For those feeling less esoteric and just want something to wear, these Nike High Top dunks are almost making my gold glitter ones feel boring.
The perfect thing to look forward to spring (with)!
Release your inner child with this super cool chandelier made of colored pencils by Isabelle Lochet. You can rearrange it to suit your every whim and it lights up.
And when all else fails, just go to Budapest. Because it’s surprisingly awesome and they build apartment buildings like this:
Or you can stay at Happy Flat, tell Fabio I sent you, or don’t because his name isn’t actually Fabio, it’s something Hungarian and I didn’t even try to bother to attempt to learn that language like Jessie did on the train with such vigor. But he is great and will literally give you the Budapest 411, which includes referrals to amazing clubs under rivers that are outdoors, or places to get your haircut like Horror Barbie.
1) Patti Smith Could Get No Cooler
I really like how she’s a huge fan of Law & Order: SVU.
2) Blake Edwards Dies
Really, really sad. Husband of Julie Andrews, he directed her in one of my favorite films, Victor/Victoria. He also directed and wrote the original Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers, not the bad ones with Steve Martin (sorry Steve).
3) A viral video of all the black people ever on Friends hits the web
The list (though I think it might be incomplete, I won’t bore you with my endless knowledge of trivial Friends Facts, or what I consider Fun Facts).
Jorge Luis Abreu – The One with the Birth Mother – The Waiter
John Eric Bentley – The One with the Blind Dates – Waiter #2
Mongo Brownlee – The One with Unagi – The Instructor
Sean Corvelle – The One with the Holiday Armadillo – The Salesman
Monique Edwards – The One with Christmas in Tulsa/The One with Phoebe’s Birthday Dinner – Claudia
Jonathan T. Floyd – The One with All the Candy – Gary
Jason Winston George – The One Where They’re Up All Night – Fireman
Ron Glass -The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance/The One Where Ross
Hugs Rachel – Russell
Joyce Guy – The One Where Rosita Dies – The Supervisor
Teck Holmes – The One with the Mugging – Jordan
Michelle Anne Johnson – The One with the Mugging – The Casting director
Cleo King – The One Where No One Proposes – Nurse Kitty
Phill Lewis – The One with the Lottery/The One with the Mugging/The One Where Rachel Goes Back to Work – Steve
Tembi Locke – The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel – Karin
Keith Pillow – The One with Rachel’s Dream – Customer #2
Ron Recasner – The One with Unagi – The Doctor
Dennis Singletary – The One with Joey’s Porsche – Guy #2
Tim Edward Rhoze – The One Where Joey Speaks French – Director
Michael D. Roberts – The One with Ross’ Library Book – The Head Librarian
Timothy Starks – The One with the Boob Job – The Handyman
Aisha Tyler – The One with the Soap Opera Party/The One with the Fertility Test/The One with the Donor/The One in Barbados: Part 2/The One in Barbados: Part 1/The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss/The One Where Ross Is Fine/The One Where Rachel’s Sister Babysits – Charlie Wheeler
Gabrielle Union – The One with the Cheap Wedding Dress – Kristen Lang
Janet Hubert-Whitten – The One Where Emma Cries – Ms. McKenna
Barry Wiggins – The One with the Holiday Armadillo – The Man
4) I went to see Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut at BAM Again
This ballet will probably always be my favorite. A modern adaptation of The Nutcracker, I first saw it at the age of four when our good family friend, Clarice Marshall, was the lead, Marie. I even dressed up as her for Halloween the following year. In the following video, which features clips of different performances of The Hard Nut, but a great deal of footage of Clarice in the original production, Morris explains how the holiday party scene at the beginning of the ballet is influenced largely by improvisation, which I feel largely explains why it is some of his best work.
His Company’s productions benefit hugely from the individual attention that all the dancers get; even those that are not leads have their moments, and he does amazing work with partnering. Something that has always set The Hard Nut apart from more traditional ballet is his use of both men and women in scenes that would historically feature only female dancers. While some might find it “gender bending”, Morris sees it differently: “The topic of the snowflakes and the flowers is an interesting one, because I guess because traditionally in most Nutcrackers, those are danced by women, because most women are more like flowers or snowflakes. And as far as I’m concerned, flowers have different genders, there’s a male and a female flower. Snowflakes I don’t believe have sexual characteristics of any kind, so what I wanted really, frankly, was a stage full of people, and my company is fifty percent men and fifty percent women, so if I want a big crowd of people, it can only be that big with everybody. And so that became a political, socio-political sort of thing, when in fact it’s just, bring on the snowflakes!”
5) Norman Rockwell, the Photographer?
I can’t wait to see this show at the Brooklyn Museum of all the behind-the-scenes pictures he used to paint his works. I love how he thought using photographs was cheating, but he did it anyway. When my dad was in art school, he never told anyone that Norman Rockwell was his favorite artist, for fear of being considered a sell-out. The point that “Rockwell must be rolling in his grave” at the thought of this show is definitely an apt one.
6) A few ways to experience Christmas
Not only has Wendall Jamieson written a very touching story about an important male role model, it really reminded me of my dad, right down to the details.
The Man Who Hated Christmas [NYT]
If you’re in the mood for something more upbeat, the Irish Repertory Theater in New York is putting on a reinvention of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas In Wales. The poem/story with very long sentences is a great way to be introduced to Thomas’ work in a more humorous manner. It also definitely helped me bridge the generation gap with my parents, as I was shocked to read that sometimes, people have relatives who get so drunk as to throw away presents in the fire as they try to burn up all the wrapping paper.
7) Kathleen Hanna Tells Us A Long Story About Kurt Cobain
And now we know how the most famous Nirvana song came about and what “us guys can do to help you feminists.” I also had no idea that there are strippers out there who dance to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, which sounds like a show to see. There’s so much goodness in this video, as well as being a really interesting cover; though I’ll always love this one.
Don’t love Vampire Weekend. Don’t love Cheryl Cole. Don’t love K-Ci & JoJo (I know! Blasphemy!). But I do love this cover. Add it to the list of awesome ones upping their song count on my iTunes this week.
I love those articles that hit so close to home that they make you incredibly uncomfortable and also make you wish you were less self-aware, but then you feel idiotic for thinking you’re self-aware, because let’s face it, there are probably lots of things that you do to which all your friends are like “Dude, how do you NOT see that this is what you always do?” or “You always do that thing where you think you hit all the points and you do, but by doing that, you don’t, you know?”
Well I’ve gathered a few of said articles to let those of you out there who don’t know me from Adam (how can you know someone from Adam? Where was Eve? Was the Rib not taken out yet? Was this like the five-minute break between when Adam came breathlessly into this world and God was like, let’s get you a ladyyyyy and so cruelly tore Adam’s torso apart, but it’s cool, because then he was going to get. some.?) get to know me from Adam, and if not, then at least from Eve:
Though I am from New York City, and at said point in my life, never plan to live in a place where I have to upgrade my permit to a real live license (much to the chagrin of my mother, a real Californian, as much as she likes to deny it, she will look at me when I’m “too pale” and fight the urge to hand me the lotion with built-in self-tanner, as is her baby-oil childhood instinct),I found this article on DUI’s and living in LA particularly poignant. Though the best thing about cities is the greater opportunity for taking the train while intoxicated at any time of day, I do appreciate a good list about things I can do while drunk that don’t include driving. Some highlights?
“Play Sports: Especially great if you were a high-school athlete that could’ve actually been something if you didn’t discover weed and boys junior year. It will be the most fun you’ve ever had breaking your ankle, guaranteed.”
As someone who blogs, as painful as that can be to admit sometimes, I really am trying to totally get behind this Onion article “Pop Culture Expert Surprisingly Not Ashamed Of Self”:
“Shelham, who spends 10 hours every day consuming news updates on various entertainers and then commenting on their activities on an entertainment website, has reportedly shown no signs of humiliation or self-hatred over the way she spends the bulk of her time, and is also apparently not disgusted by the fact that this is actually what she does with her life.
‘Basically, I like to look at what’s going on in pop culture and comment on it with a sort of fresh, wry voice,’ said Shelham, who by all accounts still possesses the ability to look at herself in the mirror every morning. ‘I try to find things that I think are really lame and vacuous and then just tear them apart.'”
Too real. Especially this part:
“She also composed a scathing, 800-word critique of the upcoming motion picture Burlesque that she suggested, with actual pride, was ‘some of [her] best work.’
‘I’m sorry, but it might be just about time for [Burlesque actress] Cher to go away now,” wrote Shelham, who does not seem to find anything self-degrading in the fact that she earns a living by deriding people she does not, nor will ever, know. ‘I know you’re doing your best to make us forget that we actually found you charming in Moonstruck, but let’s just call it a day already, shall we?'”
Reading this piece several weeks ago did not stop me from writing this piece. Live and learn? Let’s not.
And not to get too existential, but what does it mean when the humor you have based your entire life around can be decoded by a machine? Is that like when you know someone has really learned a language because they get jokes in it? So is my humor no longer funny because a computer gets it? Don’t answer that.
“This is the most important software ever invented. Of course, if a computer using the Semi-Supervised Algorithm for Sarcasm Identification read that last sentence, it would immediately detect the sarcasm.”
Despite the fact that I do not literally blog all night, I do lead a different schedule than most of my peers, one that favors the night hours, when it is literally entirely dark in my apartment while I write this and I am left to only my thoughts, my Google Reader not endlessly ticking articles along that I MUST READ at the fastest pace possible. The night time is actually the only time left for the modern human that hasn’t been entirely overloaded, and I say this in the least bitter way possible. When I press publish on this, I will go to sleep, but I will still be sleeping when you wake up and read it, and thus be saved the horror of taking myself too seriously and preventing myself from being around for the reactions heard ’round the world on said posts. Author Josh Dubroff says of his stint as a nighttime blogger, “More significantly, I increasingly felt like I was part of this rare and special tribe. Working at night by myself when no one was on the Internet made me feel like a solo spaceship pilot, like every post about Sarah Palin or James Franco I churned out was going to ensure we stayed on course. I was careening through quiet forgotten Internet space, a vast calm all around me. And while all my friends were at work during the day—gchatting and fidgeting in their itchy button-downs—I was scarfing hummus and preparing for this noble take-off.”
I honestly haven’t read a more poignant piece in ages (especially the reference to “the classic Katherine Heigl film 27 dresses“). There is something to be said for people who prefer the night, who are good sleepers, and by something to be said, I mean we get the flack. We are considered the unproductive, the weird, the vampires of our society. I don’t know when sleeping until 1:30 in the afternoon became weird, but it was at some point during college, where I became chastised for being able to do a certain amount of work in less time. Is it jealously? No, probably more misunderstanding. But to our friends on the West Coast, we’re not weird, we’re just someone else who is awake while the rest of the nation sleeps.
P.S. To prevent from ending this on too much of a serious/downer, please note that potatoes are great for you, there! I have been proven right. I can now go on an all-potato diet, with maybe the occasional dairy product thrown in and also lose 60 lbs. See you later, haters.
In Helen Mirren’s brilliant, moving, inspiring acceptance speech at a recent Women in Hollywood event, she delivered a forceful rebuke of Hollywood’s obsession with “the 18 to 25-year-old male…and his penis (quite small, I always think).” Mirren lamented the “fact that virtually every drama made for film, stage or television has 20 male characters to the one, two, maybe three if you’re lucky, female characters.”
I decided to test Mirren’s supposition against the recently released Golden Globe nominations. This is obviously not a cross-section of all that TV or film has to offer, but The Golden Globes represent an industry standard of perceived quality. Consequently, Mirren would be more likely to find roles of substance in these nominees, than in, for example, The Bachelorette, 90210 or The Back-Up Plan.
A word on methodology: The statistics below are based on the official cast lists presented on each show’s network website. Rather than using my own judgement (or the judgment of IMDB, Wikipedia, etc) to decide which characters merit inclusion, I wanted to see how each network officially depicted its cast. For example, AMC’s Mad Men site names 27 characters, 12 of whom are female, netting a “score” of 44%.
Boardwalk Empire (27% of listed characters are female)
Walking Dead (33%)
Mad Men (44%)
The Good Wife (50%)
Best Television Series (Drama) AVERAGE: 37%
The Big Bang Theory (20%)
30 Rock (33%)
Modern Family (40%)
The Big C (43%)
Nurse Jackie (44%)
Best Television Series (Comedy) AVERAGE: 41%
Yikes. One drama achieves gender parity in its casting, The Good Wife, a project from husband-wife team Robert and Michelle King. Michelle King is the only female “creator” of the five drama nominees. Even shows created by women (30 Rock, The Big C, Nurse Jackie) favor roles for male actors. Although the comedy category average is not quite as dire as the dramas, this average is hugely helped by Glee, the only nominated show with more female characters than male (without Glee, the category averages 36%).
On to the big screen:
Black Swan (80%)
The Fighter (40%)
The King’s Speech (22%)
The Social Network (29%)
Best Motion Picture (Drama) AVERAGE: 39%
Alice in Wonderland (75%)
The Kids Are All Right (60%)
The Tourist (14%)
Best Motion Picture (Comedy) AVERAGE: 45%
The differences in category averages between big and small screens are only a few percentage points, but the distribution within categories don’t line up. Film, it would seem, allows for one or two female-driven pictures. Black Swan, set in a dance studio, starring 4 women and 1 man, would be this year’s entry.
The point is not for all productions to reserve exactly half of their roles for women (or minorities, the elderly, or any other oft-neglected demographic). Some shows are aimed at women (SATC) and others at men (Entourage) and their casting reflects this fact. The problem is that what we identify as quality, via awards shows like the Golden Globes, distinctly favors male actors. This creates a cycle in which male-dominated productions are considered the “norm,” and gender-neutral casts or female-heavy casts are relegated to niche markets or less popular networks.
One could argue that Hollywood reflects reality…most police departments are male-dominated, as are boxing rings, and tech-start ups. That is both true and problematic. Yet, the question remains; why are the male-dominated arenas the ones in which people prefer to play creatively? Because women (self very much included!) will watch a show or movie set in a “male world,” but men will not reciprocate? Projects set in traditionally female worlds (say a preschool or an ice skating team) either don’t get made, don’t get made well, or get made well and don’t get recognized. Any way you cut it, Helen Mirren has a point.
What is humor? Two blogs have got me pondering the very meaning of this deep question.
How much did I miss this site 7 months ago, which appears to be the last time it was updated?
Mean Girls in The White House
Molly and I watched Julie & Julia again this past weekend, which really is one of the most calming films I have ever seen, despite the Amy Adams character and her annoying narcissism (since the real Julie Powell definitely is that way, maybe she’s just a really good actress?). But I don’t think I like it enough to watch it everyday for 365 days like this guy is.
The overview? Lawrence Dai, a Northwestern student with a Netflix Instant account, was looking for a challenge: “Risking his already sad social life, his average GPA, and his high scores on karaokeparty.com, he has signed on for a deranged assignment.” To give you some insight into where this project will go, on days 13 and 14, Lawerence decided to sync up Julie & Julia with Kanye West’s “My Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Is Lawrence in on the joke? Apparently. How much? It’s unclear.
As 2010 draws to a close, there are many things that it could be remembered for — the year of the Red Tide, of Wikileaks, of LiLo going to jail, of Glee (was that this year?). Inspired by today’s announcement of Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds separation and yesterday’s of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens break-up, I’ve decided to nickname 2010 “The year of the celebrity break up.”
Famous people – for reasons too numerous to enumerate – seem to get married and divorced at rates higher than the national average. But this year seemed particularly devastating for celebrity couples. And for reasons too embarrassing and numerous to enumerate, I take each break up as a personal blow.
Below are a few break ups from 2010 with a rating as to how upsetting I found said break-up. 1 is a break up I saw a mile away, 10 made me cry into my pillow.
Scarlett Johansson & Ryan Reynolds – 3
I never really believed they were married. There’s all of one photo of them on the internet together. I respect they wanted to keep their relationship private, but it’s hard to be invested in a relationship you know nothing about. And again – privacy and everything, but by not showing up at each other’s events, they also weren’t supporting each other in their endeavors.
Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens – 5
This was always going to happen sooner rather than later. He wants a serious career and is talented. She doesn’t work that much (let’s leave it at that). Yes, they were gorgeous together. Yes, they probably had great sex and lots of it. Their relationship made sense in the HSM days, but more and more as Zac seemed to wanted to graduate out of that phase, it was clear their love wasn’t forever.
Eva Longoria & Tony Parker – 3
There were always rumors of him cheating on her. And as Kate always points out, the sportstar/actress marriage is a difficult one. Plus, she’s a bit older, and always struck me as more interesting than he is – or maybe more interesting than his teammate’s wives. I’m very sorry for Eva, but honey, you can do better.
Editor’s Note: In college, a sort-of friend’s Dad was an orthopedic surgeon, and Tony Parker’s Grandma was his patient. He reported that Nana was none too pleased with Eva, calling her “too old” and “a slut.”
Blake Lively & Penn Badgley – 7
Like Zac and Vanessa, these two are young enough I didn’t necessarily expect them to stay together forever, and yet…..There were all those photos this summer of them making out and holding hands. They are both still on Gossip Girl and always look so cute together on set. Plus, I can’t separate them from their Gossip Girl characters who are CLEARLY meant to be together, AND always wind up together.
Kate Winslet & Sam Mendes – 9
This one still floors me. They were married for long enough to make me feel secure and stable in their coupling. They were collaborators. They lived in London and New York, somewhat away from the stress of the paparazzi. They have kids. I just…I don’t know what happened here.
Patricia Arquette & Thomas Jane – 8
Maybe it’s because I think of them as how the Go Fug girls depict them, but they just seemed so in sync. They are both obviously nuts (and by obviously I mean the way they dress and carry themselves) and nuts in a similar way. He seems a little off in a kooky way and she has an intensity that reminds me of the crazy old lady next door. I thought they were kindred souls, two free-spirits in a town that otherwise puts a lot of value on polish.
Courtney Cox-Arquette & David Arquette – 6
Yes, their marriage was always a little surprising, but they’d made it this far. They have a cute kid. He seemed okay with JenAn as the third wheel in their marriage and life. This one makes me sad because I’ll always remember the credits of the Friends episode after they got married where they added Arquette to everyone’s name.
Editor’s Note: I was! I thought their love knew no bounds. Except that they looked weirdly related…
Be warned: If Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner ever call it quits, I’m quitting celebrity culture.
While minding my own business and watching juicystar07, aka Blair Fowler, aka I wish she was my best friend, I stumbled across this gem of an advertisement:
With my magic ways and my wits, why of course!