Friday, April 25, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Two of my favourite writers hit book shelves this spring. Augusten Burroughs gets serious with a book about his Dad, while Sedaris gives us another collection of essays. If you haven't experienced their hilarity there's no better time to hop on the bandwagon. Nothing reads faster, funnier, or pairs better with a smart gin cocktail than these two.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
I used to think it was an oxymoron. The notion that we have little more than Wonderbread and Earl Grey tea to claim as our own is sad.
Growing up I read a lot of Toni Morrison novels, watched a lot of Oprah, and had a thing for each of the Cosby kids. As a result, I think I thought I was black. Or at least someone who was cultured beyond Kraft Dinner and aluminum siding installation. I was convinced my own family had nothing to say, nothing to show for ourselves. I didn't want to accept Jell-O molds at Easter as the pinnacle of our culinary creativity. I remember being disappointed by our lack of history, our boring approach to everything. I had a hate-on for Farley Mowatt and couldn't understand what I had in common with meat loaf or a John Deere tractor. That wasn't my life. How could it possibly be?
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I loved Lego. I built the most amazing houses when I was a kid. Sprawling suburban 4 bedroom homes with open-concept living/dining, breakfast nooks, and walk-in-closets. I made big screen TVs out of Lego windows; sectional sofas looked cozy and inviting, peninsulas jutted from spacious kitchens, bar stools lined up neatly. A tree-lined driveway and a fenced-in-yard.
I didn't construct fighter jets, but rather passenger planes, complete with flight crew serving terrible little Lego meals. I was a realist with my toys, rarely delving too deeply into a world I didn't know. I didn't build castles or dragons, instead I forged a desk phone out of tiny black pieces. I built a flower shop for my homeowner to work in, and a lovely economy-class car to take her there. I would stand at the table my Dad built for me for hours and days on end, waking up at 6am to get back to the little lives I had tucked into bed the night before. The kids would go to school, the family would throw dinner parties or cut the lawn, perhaps reorganize the living room furniture on a Sunday afternoon. A normal family living a terribly normal life.
Once in a while I'd put them through some sort of turmoil - A tornado or an earthquake, perhaps home invasion. I'd tear down a wall or drive the economy-class car through the kitchen like when Stephanie Tanner drove Uncle Joey's. Mostly these were excuses to remodel the house, but I had a series of irrational fears as a child (see: tornadoes, earthquakes, and home invasion), so perhaps getting my tiny family through assured me I'd be okay too, you know, should the Gulf War head west or the San Francisco quake of '89 somehow affect us.
As I sit here thinking of my play-ways, I remember so much, so clearly. So many of my daily games were inspired by sitcoms of the 80s. If I was getting bored, I'd create a role for someone new. My toys jumped the shark by adopting a teenage runaway or winning the lottery like Roseanne, replacing an old house with something shiny and new. Who's The Boss played a major role in my childhood; Lego people were often named Tony, or Angela, Jonathan or Mona Robinson. My playtime plots always followed the same storylines; it was no coincidence that when Mike Seaver on Growing Pains moved into the apartment over the garage, my Lego family quickly followed suit, before forcing their fat daughter to cut back on the sweets.
I suppose you didn't need more evidence that I was a crazy person as a child. But there it is.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Gay bars are a strange place. Pulsating with sexual tension and dance beats, they feel more like a zoo or the set of a reality show than actual reality. Shell necklaces have made a startling comeback, it seems, as have cropped t-shirts and blonde tips. Like stepping back in time, like walking through the Museum of Natural History, the exhibits come to life to the tune of Kylie Minogue. Strange.
Gay bars are for singles. A hack would make some kind of joke about an all-you-can-eat buffet at a fat camp, but I won't do that. It's just all too much. Heightened everything. Lights, music, bleached teeth, and $400 jeans. Fag hags grinding desperately against boys who look to be about 14 years old. Tank tops, tube tops, and just plain tops bottoming out after too much to drink, vomitting in the parkette next door. There was a time I could handle all this. Now I just feel old.
I mean, I had fun, I guess. We checked our coats, got drinks, danced half-heartedly to five songs, left and got pizza. When I think back to the days when this happened weekly, I have fond memories. Brian and I would know exactly what kind of night we were in search of and we'd make it happen precisely that way. It was fun. It was what we did. Now it just feels silly and age-inappropriate, like Melanie Griffith or jelly shoes on a senior.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Like, seriously. As each day goes by, I can literally feel the knowledge I've accumulated over the years draining from my brain. When Google asks me "Did you mean . . .?" my answer is far too often "Yes." and with a quick click, I meander on down the information superhighway. What has happened to me? I used to be the top speller in my class, I used to store dozens of phone numbers, at the ready, in my head. Birthdays, postal codes, state capitals, historical tidbits. My brain was once a great resource.
Really it's an access problem. We have too much information at our fingertips, so we start storing it in our computers, rather than our heads. Why remember something when you can dial up Wikipedia and get the answer (however suspect) in 30 seconds or less? I forget how to spell because that red line shows up under a series of letters I've mashed out on the keyboard. With a simple right-click, we can replace our errors and get on with life. It's faster and easier than knowing in the first place. Efficiency has replaced intelligence in almost every instance.
While I feel immense guilt, regret, and shame about this, my real concern is for the kids growing up today who don't even know the difference. They don't know a world without Google, let alone the helpful "Did you mean?" option. I've heard, with my own ears, teachers say to students, "Spelling doesn't count." I like to think they are attempting to encourage creative writing, without the hangups that come with grammar and punctuation, but I think it's more about the spell check. Teachers have come to terms with the reality of the situation. Why try to teach them things they might never need to know? For the sake of nostalgia? We've always evolved, our education system following the needs of society. At some point keyboarding classes retired the typewriters and started using computers. Eventually that class won't even exist, as kids will learn to type in utero. So, perhaps spelling shouldn't count.
I used to take great pride in knowing stuff. As time goes on, I take pride in vaguely remembering I once liked knowing stuff. Someday I'll have to ask my computer if I like anything at all.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Two things piss me off. *
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I try to avoid being flowery and over-sentimental, but I have those tendencies. Anyone who's heard me rave about iTunes knows I can get fairly passionate about almost anything. But I mean, seriously, a whole album in my hands in 30 seconds or less, for the bargain-basement price of $9.99? And I can buy it while I'm wearing a towel? What an amazing service! It's the greatest thing since email. I said it.
Really, this blog was designed as a forum for me to gush. About pop culture, interior design and amazing food, the people I love. I like what I like, and I tend to let people know the details. If you think I have a lot to say here, try being my boyfriend. He's five long-winded stories away from faking complete hearing loss.
(Editor's Note: I feel I should point out that I draw the line generously this side of Tom Cruise on a couch. Just for the record.)
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
A formula where A = Me, B = My Friend, and C = Their Significant Other:
A Likes B therefore A Likes C
Unfortunately, as we get older, this is not always true. It's a very special thing to like the ones your friends choose to be with. Conversely, it's a horrible thing when you don't.
There's nothing so difficult as reconciling this kind of misstep. For the first 15 - 20 years of your life, your tastes are largely decided by your friends. Like it or not, that's just sort of true. You bind to other people, perhaps because they like what you like. Or, you adjust your tastes to suit them. But, adulthood differs from high school (thank God!) Your tastes and ideas are not solely built around your friends. You grow a pair, and you start to use 'em. And sometimes, especially if you were a follower, you rebel and, at the first opportunity, branch-out: new university friends, a drinking problem, a crazy boyfriend with tattoos, perhaps. The post-high-school years are a time for change.
Shouldn't my formula be water-tight? If you like me, shouldn't you like the people I like? Sadly, this proves false, time and time again.
All of this stems from a night out with my Brian's boyfriend Chris. I've talked about Brian in previous posts. He's my bestie. He's in Australia until September and his boyfriend is here, alone and lonely. And it makes me very happy that I love him! (Had you nervous, didn't I?) Chris is nice and soft. He's pleasant and quiet, and thoughtful and curious. He listens. And he makes sense for Brian. I am not confused or befuddled. I see them together and I get it. In this most-critical example, my formula works.
After reading part one of the Deptford Trilogy, I quickly read the others and became obsessed with Jungian psychology. I bought textbooks and used the word "shadow" entirely too often. I was fascinated! And also obnoxious. But I couldn't get enough. As a concept, I still like it but I stopped reading medical journals and avoid discussing my endopsyche with strangers. These days, I prefer to get my fix from pop culture. Enter: Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in Damages. Evil incarnate. Wolf in sheep's clothing. A straight-up scary lady.
I couldn't wait for Showcase to air it, so I bought Season 1 on DVD. Jeff and I have been watching two episodes a night for the last few days, burning through them fast. Like Christmas or a bag of Doritos, there's something sad about coming to the end of something so good. But it's over. I've even hit the end of Bonus Features. And I can't stop thinking about it.
Lots of shows/books/movies have tried to tap into the whole shadow/ego blahditty-blah-blah since Freud started blaming his mother - Pop psychology is a critical part of the culture these days. But it's been a long time since I've seen an exploration as complete as in Damages. Over thirteen gripping episodes we're torn between truth and fiction, the good and bad, archetypes flying like daggers, Glenn Close in all her glorious shades of grey. The kind of discomfort experienced in liking such reprehensible characters is a real art, on the part of filmmakers. They walk a fine line and leave us unsure how to feel about everything. Being drawn towards such unmitigated immorality makes us question our own goodness. I love that. I can't wait to start back at Episode One.