Saturday, December 31, 2005

Auld Lang Syne in shades of Pink and Blue














When Haverchuk showed me these toys from Pottery Barn kids, my first response was "that's cute." This is mostly because I would still rather use a tiny toy pink vacuum than the real thing, NOT because I think that ONLY little girls should be playing with a toy vacuum (which is undoubtedly the message encoded in the PB pink kitchen set).

That said, I'm all for the recent trend of making stuff for grown-ups look like toys. Unlike some of my fellow feminists, I do not consider the pinkification of otherwise ugly and utilitarian tools entirely offensive. I'll take my aesthetic pleasures wherever I can get them. I own several kitchen appliances made by Sanrio, and I nod in approval when Lorelei covers Rory's hammer with feathers on episode of the Gilmore Girls.

But this does not mean that I don't find the constant color-coding / gendering of children's toys troubling. I'm willing to admit that my attraction to things that are pink and fluffy likely has something to do with an early inoculation as a female consumer with a desire for all things pink. But the thing is, boys like pink too. And boys also like to vacuum and sweep and wash dishes. And girls like hammers. I like hammers. I still do.

A little boy I used to babysit had both a play kitchen and a play toolbench. Both were hand-me-downs, and the family kept the toys side by side in the basement. Interestingly, the toy kitchen and the toy bench seemed exactly the same; they developed the same types of motor skills and invited a similar type of play. And of course the kid mixed them up. Spoons hung from the workbench and there were hammers in the sink. The point is that both were fun to play with. Toys do not need to be gendered, they just need to be fun.

This is rather an obvious point, I suppose, and perhaps one not nearly exciting enough for new year's eve. That said, I hope you all have a very happy new year, and that your 2006 will be filled with lots of good, loving, non-gendered play.

What's your take on pink hammers and baby-blue mixers?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

We All Aint Ready; K-Fed and Derek Bailey, RIP

SB here, completing a post from a few weeks ago. When I started this post, I was taking a break from the inane carnival of outward self-promotion and inward self-loathing that is Ph.D. applicationeering. Blech. The exigencies of that odious process kept me from finishing this post, so I am finishing it now at the folks' haus in Toronto. Apologies if this puppy runs long!

I will cut directly to the chase: I nominate Kevin Federline's "Y'all Aint Ready" as 2005's song of the year. Not just the best song of the year-- the only song of the year! Deal with it, haterz!

Recently we had bloglisted and in-n-outraged over for pizza and cocotinis (FF's powerful yet smooth signature cocktail), and conversation turned, as it always does, to the topic of K-Fed. Now, don't get me wrong--- we all hate K-Fed a lot. But when FF fired up the 0:43 second snippet of K-Fed's "Y'all Aint Ready" that had migrated a few months ago to the internets I had a surprising aesthetic reverie. All of a sudden I really, really liked "Y'all Aint Ready." Then I reflected on Britney's purported reaction to "Y'all Aint Ready" when Kev demoed it for her: "maybe a hundred people would want to buy this." Harsh tokes, indeed. But most of the music I like (and indeed, that which I create myself) falls into the "maybe a hundred people would want to buy this" category, and I can only imagine that Britney would take a dim view of it.

What is there to like about K-Fed's rap masterpiece? Well, to start with, K-Fed fulfills the promise inherent in the vanity musical projects of all wealthy dilletantes: that the lack of restrictions on creative output engendered by insane affluence and the company of sycophantic yes-men will lead to the kind of unfettered oddness that characterizes the "outsider" music of society's most marginalized. We would then have concrete evidence of a kind of "natural" utopian solidarity in "difference" rather than uniformity, eccentricity rather than conformity, Desire rather than the Law. To put it another way, it seems to me that hope for a better future lies in the propensity of humans to wander off in unpredictable directions oddly.

When Kevin Federline raps, he ignores every rule of metric regularity and rhythmic consistency. Like the glorious Shaggs, every new phrase intoned by K-Fed begins a new rhythmic unit, even if the last one wan't quite finished. Like the serpentine lines of music found in the medieval Chantilly Codex, K-Fed's rapping bends the brain over, under and sideways. Like hobo mystic Harry Partch's 'US Highball," K-Fed's lines start when they start and end when they end, and the sheer power of the delivery convinces us that this is how music must necessarily be.

For those readers who didn't spend any semesters in music school, here is a way to think about this idiosyncratic rule-breaking: imagine a metronome ticking, and a musician tapping his or her foot along with it. Most pop music will have a strong downbeat (an extra-firm stomp on the floor) on the first and third beats, but just about any emphasis can work, as long as it is consistently repeated. Within this pattern, melodies are usually constructed so the notes land on a down or up beat, or some sub-division of the beat. Tension can be created by dragging or rushing this note or that phrase, or superimposing an odd pattern, like a group of 3 beats, over an even one, like a group of 4 (this is the secret at the core of "funky" musics like funk and hip-hop and Scottish pibroch and many many others).

It is hard not to sometimes see this framework as a cage, and the expectations of audiences that good music will have a "good beat and you can dance to it" as a limiting kind of ideological dogma. Some see this aforementioned rhythmic regularity as "natural," and therefore regard its hegemonic status as justified, but that is a hard point of view to support. Every non-Western musical culture has a sense of "time" that is dramatically at odds with the ticking metronomes of the conservatory practice room, the "click track" of the modern recording studio, and the baton of the conductor. Lydia Goehr's groundbreaking work on the rise of notation-based, conductor-driven music helps us understand how recent a phenomenon this really is. In Bach's time, a performance of notated music was a wild, noisy, and sloppy mess... and I am sure it was unbelievably awesome, especially compared to the icky bourgeois seriousness of the symphony hall.

I learned to appreciate the power of resistance to ossified, codified, and calcified habits of making and listening to music from a British guitar player named Derek Bailey. In the early 1960s, Bailey, a gifted jazz guitarist from Sheffield, England, quit playing with dance bands and orchestras. Already in his 30s, he was pulled to challenge himself to create a non-idiomatic style of music, one that could be played without notation, without rules, and without leaders and followers. In this endeavor, he was part of a general community of composers and musicians questioning every vestige of authoritarianism in musical culture-- folks like John Cage, Christian Wolff, Cornelius Cardew, and the composers of the Scratch Orchestra.

Even though Bailey was technically capable of producing the kind of crowd-pleasing acrobatics of a Jimi Hendrix or Eddie Van Halen, he never indulged in the easy gimmickry of virtuosity. Following the lead of Anton Webern, Bailey mapped out pockets of atonal and dissonant notes on his guitar (an intrument that is made to make pleasant music) so that his improvisation would not be compromised by the subliminal suggestions of the instrument itself. Bailey pursued every possible permutation of collaborative improvisation, from solo concerts to working with huge ensembles, from groups that stayed together for many years with the same membership, to the Company Week festivals that brought together musicians from all over the globe to stimulate new parterships. I have a cherished bootleg of a concert from 1980 in Toronto, where he starts to pitch the records available for sale in the lobby in his appealingly unassuming Sheffield accent while banging out his signature frail and spiky clusters and squeaking harmonics.

I was assigned Bailey's book on improvisation in my first formal class in improvisation at school, and I guess it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that it changed my life. For the past 10 years I have made music in the style pioneered by Derek Bailey, and have had to put up with the comment, for some reason a slur in much of the experimental music world, that my playing sounds too much like that of Derek Bailey. It's not true, but if it was, there would be no greater compliment.

Thanks to the efforts of folks like John Zorn and Jim O'Rourke, the 1990s saw a series of wonderful CD reissues of Bailey's classic recordings and a slew of exciting new releases. I met him once and he was sweet and generous and funny and even sent me some kind words about a CD of my own music I had sent him.

Derek Bailey died this week. If you ever have a chance, reserve an hour and listen to "Aida" or "Domestic and Public Pieces" or "Takes Fakes and Dead She Dances" or any of the hundreds of other beautiful records of glorious utopian radical music that Derek Bailey gave to the world. It will make you happy.


















image source

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fluff Sells

We're in the land of the SB where there's snow, maple syrup, and latkes aplenty. Oh, Canada! You are so cozy. You make us want to cuddle up and think about... bunnies!

Meet my new favorite ad campaign: the telus mobility bunnies. These little spokesfluffs are all over Toronto, tucked in all it's gray corners, crouched above benches at the bus stops, and splashed across billboards. When I am in a city, I usually do not notice ads; they are so ubiquitous that they seem to be an integral aspect of the modern urban landscape. If I do notice them, it is usually because I am nonplussed or nauseated. But I like these bunnies. And so does a certain almost two year old, which only validates my own opinion that these bunnies are good.

They are fluffy and cute. They have nothing to do with the product. They're simply delightful. If you're going to plaster a city's surfaces with ads, then do us a favor and at least include something fluffy.

And I just found out that one of their television ads includes a Le Tigre song (hot topic). Fluffy bunnies AND feminist pop??? Are these people reading my mind???

Now, I do not want to pretend that I don't find aspects of this campaign troubling. I basically find all advertising troubling. And I know there are people out there who have very strong opinions about the use of certain songs in ad campaigns (these posts relate to the use of M.I.A.'s "Galang" in a Honda Civic commercial). But there is no denying that I enjoy watching herds of bunnies hop across a music scale to Le Tigre. It's better than watching "bimbos" bop to Bruce Springsteen, which is what we usually see in tv commercials. So I say, bring the fluff!

The Beast of 2005: Sick to Our Stomachs


















Weight loss has long been one of America's pastimes, and it's bullseye on the female body -- the way it's gaze works to problematize every bulge, bump, and curve -- grows only more wide and fierce in the context of contemporary capitalism.

And although thinness is repeatedly rewarded in even the most unrelated context (I want to spit nails every time I read a book review or interview that comments on the subject's weight), our culture is quick to call someone "too thin," and calls those who become excessively thin "sick." It's a toxic contradiction.

I can't give you a firm number or a percentage, but I can guarantee that I read thousands of headlines while waiting in line at the grocery store about how thin some female celebrity had become. Of all the magazines prominently displayed in the checkout aisle, almost 100% of them feature some reference to weight loss or thinness. The dissonance in the classic before and after shots are echoed in their headlines: i.e. "Scary skinny" vs. "holiday weight loss secrets." Gross.

Although this trend isn't new, I'm naming it my "Beast of 2005" because it seems to have reached some sort of fever pitch. The constant scrutiny of particularly bodies -- the nicole richies and mary kates -- is especially troubling. They are at once spectacles of self-destruction and objects of "thinspiration." Other celebs, particularly those who experience rapid or drastic weight-loss, are treated as gurus -- those who can offer us insight into the occult practices and technologies of weight-loss. And the emergence of the term "manorexia" and before and after shots of folks like Jack Osborne and Carson Daly suggests that thinness for men has come a long way since Al Roker was painted as a pioneer of the gastric bypass. Meanwhile, weight loss narratives (The Biggest Loser, Celebrity Fit Club) effectively conflate weight-loss and virtue. It's sickening, and I'm hoping this trend will end with 2005.

Boo to skellywood.

Exhibit A:
The Skinny Website (be sure to check out the ads - yikes)

"Skellywood Shrine" image courtesy Gallery of the Absurd

Monday, December 26, 2005

Almost

...the new year. Stay tuned for the SB's take on K-Fed (for song of the year????) and my diagnosis re 2005's "Beast of the Year." Y'all aint ready.

It boys

Wiki's take on "it" boys:
Male actors are usually referred to as "it boy" less often than a female actor will be referred to as an "it girl", as male actors often begin their careers at an older age. The reign of an "It boy" usually lasts around a year, where they will either become a full-fledged celebrity or their popularity will fade.

New York Magazine's article on "it" girls and an accompanying article on "it" boys

Thursday, December 22, 2005

You Must Read This

Gendergeek has a great post -- basically a list/ compendium of statistics -- about women and global economics. Here's a bit:

Merry Christmas World!

Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, and yet earn only 10% of the world's income and own less than 1% of the world's property.
World Development Indicators, Womankind Worldwide
Millions of women in developing countries live in poverty. The feminization of poverty is a growing phenomenon. Women are still the poorest of the world's poor, representing 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people who live in absolute poverty. When nearly 900 million women have incomes of less than $1 a day, the association between gender inequality and poverty remains a harrowing reality.
UNIFEM, Strengthening Women's Economic Capacity
And in case you are wondering, yes, I feel dumb for bitching about the skirt thing now.

A Good Skirt is Hard to Find

Some of you may remember that I recently acquired a pair of incredibly gorgeous boots. And all I want to do is wear them all day every day. And they look best with skirts. Jean skirts to be exact. Not cheesy micro-skirts, not ruffly frilly skirts, and certainly not a pair of cuffed...shorts?

What is going on? What they hell happened to all the skirts? I've been in all the stores. All of them. And I can't find a straight or slightly a-line button-fly skirt ANYWHERE. All I can find are these jersey-knit culotte-type gaucho garments and shorts that look like cuffed trousers. The thing is, I've yet to see any of these cuffed trouser type garments on anybody. And I thought the cropped-pant / capri trend of the summer was bad. I mean, c'mon people, it's WINTER. These garments don't even look that cute, and they certainly don't look comfortable. At least the Juicy sweatsuit of 2003 was comfy (not that I EVER wore a juicy sweatsuit. hell no.)

Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of this trend. I blame Laguna Beach for all the horrifying fashion of 2005. It occurs to me that I could be getting old, and that's why the tweedy winter shorts and tuxedo culottes don't appeal to me. But I know that isn't it. No, I think these fugly skorts are a good example of the useless, ugly stuff that is the spawn of capitalism. Boo.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Barbie Are You Grieving?



















from
Feministing:
Barbie-torture is a rite of passage

New research says that many seven to 11 year-old girls maim and destroy their Barbie dolls. Duh.

Many girls thought it "cool" to mutilate Barbie because she was just a "plastic" doll, according to the Bath University study of 100 youngsters.

Dr Agnus Nairn said: "It's as though disavowing Barbie is a rite of passage."

I certainly have memories of cutting of my Barbie dolls’ hair into buzz cuts and twisting their heads and bodies into unnatural positions. I believe I even gave one a black eye with some nail polish. I never fucked with any of my other toys or dolls--just Barbie. Curious.

Any other Barbie-maimers out there?

I actually have a scene sort of like this in my teen novel. I don't want to reveal too much here, but let's just say that it produces some serious psychological dissonance for my protagonist.

Barbie shows up quite a bit in poetry too. David Lehman says:
Postmodernism and feminism seem to have converged in the figure of the Barbie doll. Barbie is the subject of a book by M. G. Lord (Forever Barbie, 1994) and of a virtual mini-genre of poems, including "Barbie's Ferrari" by Lynne McMahon and an entire sequence entitled It's My Body by Denise Duhamel.
And read about the pictured "suicide bomber Barbie" here.

What's your take on Barbie?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Annoying Boy of the Year: "Papa Joe" Simpson


Yikes.

What tragic figures the Simpson sisters have become, and it seems they have only their dad to thank.


Daddy pimped out Jessica as soon as she hit puberty, made creepy comments to the public about the size of her breasts, and advised her to turn her humorously naive marriage into a business op (Newlyweds, a show that includes scenes of ol' Papa talking about how Jessica gave Nick her "gift" and ogling her booty-shaking pussy-cat doll performance for Nick's birthday). Most recently, he vehemently denied rumors that Nick and Jessica were on the rocks, and reportedly urged them to stay in their ramshackle marriage until the release of the final season of Newlyweds so as to not hurt sales. Wow. What a sweetie. Don't you wish he was your Daddy?

He followed suit with second-daughter Ashlee, who is both untalented and incredibly unlikable: two facts that have become painfully obvious to everyone thanks to Papa Joe's "managment." After making Asslee play sidekick to Jess by being her back-up dancer, he got Ash her own reality program when she decided to leave the.worst.show.ever -- 7th Heaven -- to pursue her own music career (The Ashlee Simpson show includes a scene in which Ashlee giggles that her father "would be proud" when she's told that she gave one of the camera men on the set of her "la la" video a hard on).
Papa Joe has also "managed" many of Ashlee's love interests (including her current boyfriend, who's actually a member of her band), causing many to speculate that he might actually pay these people to "play" her boyfriend. Ew.

Of course such sleezy behavior isn't limited to his relationships with his daughters; the story of his early courtship with wife Tina is equally disturbing. On the E! True Hollywood story for Jessica, Ashlee, and the Simpson Family, Papa Joe reveals that Tina was originally -- and this is his word -- one of his "youths." That is to say, Tina was in the youth group Joe ministered. So before he was her boyfriend he was her youth minister. And he certainly seems to like being the kingpin of his daughters' cabal, which naturally includes a number of Jessica and Asslee's young female friends and assistants. I don't even want to think about the sort of relationship Cacee Cobb might have with Papa Joe...

But let's address that minister thing. People are always talking about how Papa Joe was some youth minister as though that was a vocation equivalent in prestige and virtue to being an actual minister or priest or a rabbi or some other religious leader. I'm not sure, but I don't think you have to go through a whole lot of extensive training to be a youth minister in some crappy Texas town. I'm pretty sure you just have to like (or pretend to like) reading the bible with young people. And I don't mean to sound cynical, but it's not as though some creep
hasn't ever used religion as a pretense to get closer to vulnerable young people before. I'm just sayin'.

Without a doubt, "Papa Joe" Simpson has done more than enough to earn the title of "Annoying Boy of the Year." These days
Jessica Simpson is getting divorced and sister Asslee is in the hospital (for, what else -- "exhaustion"). And, as if that wasn't enough, we also have him to thank for exposing us to all things related to Ryan Cabrera, the horror that was Fabian Basabe et al in the hideously insipid Filthy Rich Cattle Drive, AND the recent signing of none other than Laguna Beach's King Dunce Talan Torriero to Papa Joe records.

What an EVIL.PIECE.OF.SHIT. Boo.

Related:

Joe Simpson sells daughters
Joe Simpson manages his daughter's lovers
With in-laws like these
Joe Simpson teaches the A-list
Joe Simpson = Don Johnson
Joe Simpson a la "nobody puts Baby in a corner"
*new* Ashlee Simpson: red-headed step child

image source

Sunday, December 18, 2005

We Are Living in a Material World


















No drinking game this week. Just the gingerbread shack of the sad billionaire.














I made a house too. That's it in the background. Note the fluffy dog with a moustache. He's made of marshmallow.


thanks to
Jenny for thinking up the whole scheme.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Poetry is the new Kabbalah

This gives me Sylvia flashbacks:


















According to Bookslut, Sienna Miller likes to read poetry:
She revealed: "It sounds so pretentious but it's one of my favourite things. I've got this group of friends who are quite Bohemian and we get drunk, get the poetry books out and read."
Wow, Sienna. That's deep. Bet you think you're so much better than Victoria Beckham.

(Given her situation with cheater maximus Jude Law, I'd think she'd need some serious feminist poetry about now. Audre Lorde perhaps?)

Funny Face












Gallery of the Absurd (artist 14) makes me laugh
more
faces

forgive me for subjecting you to TWO images of Paris in as many days. FORGIVE ME.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pooffy Pom Pom














You want more? go here?

Thanks, Porkmuffin!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Beasts of 2005, the micro edition*









Signs of the Times: nipply Paris and weird military video games






Not "best," but "beast."

11 Beasts of 2005 in no particular order:
MySpace.com
George Bush, et al
the term "nip slip"
Tom Cruise
Paris Hilton, et al
Military themed Video Games
Jeremy Piven
Miss Seventeen
Michael Brown
gynoplasty
Bratz babies
Bonus! the rash that won't go away: weight-loss narratives (i.e. the biggest loser and celebrity fit club)

*this list is by no means comprehensive. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Yuck

Not one, not two, but three posts about attacks on a woman's right to choose over at feministing today.

"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" : My Pick for 2005's Record of the Year

K-OTIX are keepin' it real

















When Kanye West looked into the cameras and declared "George Bush doesn't care about black people," he created what will likely be remembered as one of 2005's most compelling and chilling moments. He said what many people were feeling re: the president's response to Hurricane Katrina, and Houston rap-duo K-OTIX decided to re-outfit Kanye's vaguely sexist "Goldigger" (replacing "I'm not sayin' she's a golddigger" with "George Bush don't like black people") as a way to underline the validity of this sentiment. Here are some of the lyrics:

Hurricane came through, fucked us up round here
Government actin like it's bad luck down here
All I know is that you better bring some trucks round here
Wonder why I got my middle finger up round here
People lives on the line, you declinin to help
Since you takin so much time we survivin ourself
Just me and my pets and my kids and my spouse
Trapped in my own house lookin for a way out
Five days in this muthafuckin attic
Can't use the cell phone, I keep gettin static
Dyin cause they lyin instead of tellin us the truth
Other day the helicopters got my neighbors off the roof?
Screwed cause they said they comin back for us too
That was three days ago, I don't see no rescue
See, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do
Since God made the path, then I'm tryin to walk through
Well, swam to the store tryin to look for food
Corner store's kinda flooded so I broke my way through
I got what I could but before I got through
The news said police shot a black man tryin to loot?

My favorite part is when they replace "18 years" with:

Five damn days, five long days
And at the end of the fifth you walkin in like, "Hey!"
Chillin on his vacation sittin patiently
Them black folks gotta hope, gotta wait and see
If FEMA really comes through in an emergency
But nobody seems to have a sense of urgency
Now the mayor's been reduced to cryin
I guess Bush said niggaz been used to dyin
He said, "I know it looks bad, just have to wait"
Forgettin folks who too broke to evacuate
Niggaz starvin and they dyin of thirst
I bet he had to go and check on them refineries first
Makin a killin off the price of gas
He woulda been up in Connecticut twice as fast
After all that we been through, nothing's changed
You can call Red Cross but the fact remains that . . .
I only wish this song had been played 1/3 as much as "Golddigger," which is up for a record of the year Grammy. Let's hope K-OTIX continue to get mad props, and let's hope that we get even more potent, political music on the airwaves in 2006.

visit the K-OTIX website here
listen to "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" here
and wactch a clip on K-OTIX from BET's Beats Rhymes and Life here

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Pocketful of Podcasts






It just doesn't get any better than this. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the brilliant duo behind our beloved The Office, are now doing podcasts for The Guardian. Here's a description of Episode 2:


Exclusively available online from Guardian Unlimited: It's the second helping of bunkum from Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant, co-creators of The Office and Extras. Join them as they trawl the shallow depths of the mind of their co-host Karl Pilkington, a man with the critical faculties of a creationist.

The poor sad bilionaire laughed until he cried when we listened to episode one. If I want to send him into a repeat fit of giggles, all I have to do is say the words "banana dispenser" in a British accent.

Yes. It is that good.

Are You Sick of Celebrity Gossip?

From Gawker:

You Made the Celebrity Weeklies Cry!

READ MORE: In Touch Weekly, US Weekly, celebrity weeklies, people magazine, star

usbrit.jpg

Women’s Wear Daily reports today that newsstand sales for People, Us Weekly, In Touch and Star are all down in the fourth quarter. Oh, the horror! Why, God, why?

It’s not unusual for magazines sold at checkout to experience a slowdown toward the end of the year, as holiday merchandise takes over front-end retail space. But category insiders see additional factors at work here, including overcrowding (three new magazines have entered the field in the past 13 months) and reader fatigue.

Emphasis ours, because holy shit what is your PROBLEM?! Oh, are you TIRED of reading about Jessica Simpson and Brangelina? Are you also a gigantic pussy? Well, suck it up, bitches. After the apocalypse scorches the earth and destroys life as we know it, these glossy weeklies will the the only things that survive.

Memo Pad [WWD]


What do YOU think?

*ALSO: we're in the midst of planning a few end of the year posts: Annoying Boy of the Year, Celebrutatlity: the Big 2005 Edition, WWMD (what would Marx do) 2005 and more...so stay tuned.

From the NYT

Depressing.

Hundreds of battered immigrant women and children are being illegally denied food stamps and other aid because of programming errors in New York welfare computers and faulty staff training, according to legal papers that poverty lawyers plan to file in federal court today.

link

Monday, December 12, 2005

Welcome to the Dollhouse

I love dollhouses and I love bookcases, so of course I absolutely super duper <3 this dollhouse bookcase.



















Can you imagine? You could sort your books into different "rooms" and say things like, "oh, that Emily Dickinson book goes in the study with the Wallace Stevens" or "I think this Sylvia Plath book feels like going downstairs to the parlor." So much fun.

I Am Really Into the Alphabet

Wacth alphabets.

Link via boing boing

Biggie Types

we are made of words
(by / words) (re / words)












This is genius.

(source ni9e.com (ni9e blog))

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New Fluffs

Recent Acquisitions:











Danielle Pafunda's Pretty Young Thing

Simone Muench's Lampblack and Ash

Lady Sovereign's Vertically Challenged

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Fluffy Dollars Holiday Drinking Game: Part 3


















Okay. This week we're keepin' it simple.

Persisting Patriarchy: Drink every time you see a chubby white guy with a white beard wearing a red suit who wants to know if you've been "good."*

Pointless Consumerism: Drink every time you see one of those pointless made-up "dad" or "mom" gifts. You know, that stuff you see in the department stores in weird displays at the corners of the aisle? Things like: alarm clocks that look like giant golf balls, coin sorters, robot shaped telephones, oddly-formed and ineffectual "massage" pillows, supposed-to-make-some- mundane-task -easier-but-actually-makes-it harder gadgets a la Sharper Image's Automatic Eyeglass Cleaner , and ugly "decorative" items like this LumiSource Ribbon Electra Lamp.

















WTF? It's a lamp that looks like a big sperm. Exactly what everyone wants for their living room.


*not to be confused with this bearded guy, who we like .








Check out past installments of the game here and here. Cheers, comrade!

Diddy Sucks Rocks





Dominique DID NOT make the band.


I am really sad.

Jenny Throws Down
















In addition to her fine work at
bloglisted, our girl Jenny is also keeping it real over at celeb gossip uber-blog Glitterati. Go check her out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tracking the "It" Girl

Clara Bow (left), original "It" Girl
and Lindsay Lohan (below), "It" Girl, 2005

















In case you haven't heard, former "mean girl" Lindsay Lohan was voted (by what we are sure if a very scientifically accurate voting system ) Hollywood's "It" girl at the VH1 Big in '05 awards. The term "it girl" suggests that a girl is "it" and has "it." But what, pray tell, is "it"?

According to Wikipedia:

An It girl is a young woman famed for her good looks, but in recent years has come to describe a new up-and-coming young starlet who has recently broken into mainstream cinema. The term was coined after Clara Bow made the film It in 1927, which was a vehicle for her sex-appeal. Consequently, Bow was dubbed the "It girl", "It" being a euphemism for sex-appeal.

The pronoun "it" is most often used to refer to a previously mentioned, non-human object. Yet in this case "it" is meant to connotate a sexually desirable woman.
Interestingly, the word "girl" describes a female who has yet to come into her sexual maturity. In this sense, the term "It girl" works to suggest immaturity, pliability, and submission. The term "it" also suggests the possession of qualities that are otherwise mysterious or ineffable (akin to what American Idol judges refer to as "star quality"). Women have frequently been associated with the mysterious -- especially when it comes to their sexuality -- and this seems to be echoed in the term's lack of specificity. Moreover, the label "It girl," in it's elision of distinctive characteristics, also suggests an object of temporary attraction. Sooner or later the term "it" migrates to someone else. "It"'s lexical function is to suggest interchangeability.

But "it" has an obscene underbelly too, and is often used to stand in for something that otherwise "cannot be named." Kids talk about doing "it," and the doubly disturbing term "hitting it," with its creepy implication of both violence and objectification, seems to be gaining popularity. And the word "it" is also used to describe the terror without a name in Stephen King's novel It. Perhaps most disturbing are the of reports of victims of abuse being referred to as "it" by their abusers (i.e. the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs refers to his victims as "it;" and then there's that book A Child called "It"). "It" is also used to suggest gender ambiguity.

Interestingly, the first "it"girls were often presented as being entirely unique; they were perceived to be both an embodiment of everything that was appealing and desirable at a particular time, and also a portent of what was to come. Today's "it" girls seem more akin to a chain of paper dolls, suggesting a shift from the unique towards the generic.

Meet America's newest obsession: Hollywood It Girls. Smoking hot and barely legal, they live in multi-million dollar pads, zip around town in the coolest cars and date Hollywood boy-toys all the other girls would kill for- all while carrying around their pooches in thousand-dollar Louis Vuitton purses. And while these young starlets cross every velvet rope in town, nobody dares to cross them.
It's unsettling that one of the terms used to describe contemporary "It" girls is "barely legal." This is, after all, also the name of a porn magazine. Beyond the obvious narrative of class aspiration, their narrative appears also to be one of power -- they can cross any velvet rope and take any lover they desire. And yet the narrative of the contemporary "It" girl hardly seems to be one of empowerment. Consider this year nominees for the Big in 'O5 awards: L.Lo, Nicole, Paris, and Kritin Cavallari. At first glance, the only "it" these girls seem to share is a penchant for Smirnoff ice and an inability to gauge the proper sunglass size.

Contemporary "it" girls appear to dress and act the same; they seem to represent a sort of "dollification" of Hollywood. This seems eerily literal when one considers how many celebs also go under the knife in order to be more marketable. The identical fake tan, fake boobs, and fake hair of many "it" girls is both troubling and puzzling (see this amusingly cynical take on what it means to be an "it" girl). And more and more dolls are meant to be Hollywood it girls (see My Scene and Bratz). And those dolls are nasty.

There have been groups of sort of alternative "it" girls: Nico, Edie Sedgwick, Marianne Faithful, and Debbie Harry. Interestingly, women like Nico and Eddie Sedgwick were part of Andy Warhol's circle -- a scene that originally emerged as a sort of parody or facsimile of Hollywood. These types of "It" girls may also be related to the women in the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. And to ingenues and femme fatales and vamps.

Besides being rich, "It" girls are also conspicuously white. Although Eartha Kitt and Halle Berry and Beyonce could be considered "it" girls, there still aren't enough roles for black women and minorities in Hollywood and minority women are still (sadly) less likely to appear on the cover of magazines.

And, perhaps the biggest question, why "It" girls and not "It" boys? More on that in a future post.

But for now, what do you think of the term "it" girl? Discuss.
















Debbie Harry, "it" girl

Related links:

Hollywood's shrinking "it" girls (splendora blog)
The It Girl (fiction)
"it" girls looking for love
The original "It" girl (Bint Magazine)

and when you google "it girl," half the results are about IT, which is often depicted as a big sausage party:

Why is IT all male?
Recruiting the new IT girls (BBC)
More IT Girls (BBC)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Desperate Housewives and Coming Attractions (not dirty!)













I promise that I have a big post coming up re: the changing definition of the term "it" girl, but for now check out this post at feministing about a new magazine for desperate housewives.

(those pink blobs are supposed to be hearts, hugs, and kisses)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Feminism and Marriage
















Bitch Ph.D has a
great post on Feminism and Marriage. Go read it. Now.

Starry Starry Night

Omigod, thanks to the SB's very very very generous parents, I am now the proud owner of these.













Believe me when I say I cuddle them and sing them to sleep.

Wanna look at other pretty boots? Go here.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ingesting Text












I ate candy letters for breakfast this morning. Y'know, those letters that you buy to spell things out on birthday cakes? Yes, I was that desperate for something sweet.

Anyway . . .although candy letters may not make for the best first-meal-o-tha-day, they are pretty cool. Here are some of my favorite text/food combos.

Fortune Cookies
Baci Candy
Alphabet Soup
Alphabet cookies
Conversation Hearts (my favorite; read a funny summary of what's inside candy hearts)

Perhaps it's time for me to start writing edible found poems?

What sorts of letters do you like to eat?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Countdown to Making the Band Season Finale










The season finale is next week!!!

Here's who I def wan't to see make the band: Aundrea, Domnique, and Aubrey

Here's who is in the running for the other two spots: Taquita, Shannon, and Dawn

Knowing Diddy, there will prolly be some surprises. I can't wait.

In the meantime, check out Aubrey's site. It's hot.

Isn't She Kind and Pretty?










Hello Kitty USB jump drive. Genius.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pink is the New Blonk


Hi Everybody!

You may have noticed that the Sad Billionaire has been conspicuously absent from these pages the last couple of months. Thatz because I have been frantically trying to finish my master's thesis in US History, which I did a couple of days ago. Yep. Its all a-written. As Kristen Cavallari once said of her automobile, it's dunzo. Now I have to write a bunch of statements of purpose for PhD apps, but that is cake in comparison. I am one happy Sad Billionaire!

Now, if anything is constant in my life, it is scheduling intense music-performance commitments at exactly the time that my other work is most brutal. True to form, I agreed to play 2 concerts this weekend, one in San Antonio (Friday) and one in Austin (Saturday). If I was me, I would be desperately trying to finish compiling my bibliography in between guitar licks. But as noted (gloated?) above, my thesis is dunzo. So let the rock commence.

Having violated one personal blogging rule by discussing matters academic, I will violate another by plugging these shows. Unlike the Long Telegram, which aims to be shred-o-metallic ear candy, my other musical activities are considerably more abstract and inscrutable. And that's the way I like it. Plinking bizarre sounds on a naked jazz guitar saved my life, and that's what I'm gonna be doing tomorrow and Saturday. I am excited to be doing it with two great musicians: local percussionist Chris Cogburn and Dutch sound poet Jaap Blonk. Blonk is gonna do a set of classic Dadaist sound poems, and then a trio set with me and CC. I saw Jaap do one of the greatest sets of music I have ever seen with Thurston Moore and Mats Gustafsson in Chicago about 6 years ago, and I can't wait to play with him.

You can play with him, too. Here is the Blonk-Organ. It's rad:

http://www.bajazzo.com/blonkorgan.html

San Antonio show is at 8:30 PM at the Wiggle Room, 2301 South Presa, San Antonio, $10.

Austin show is at a private home, a mansion actually, and one of the best art spaces in the world. 709 Rio Grande (at the corner of 8th and Rio Grande), Austin, TX. $8 adv / $15 admission at the door.

Laffy Taffy not so Funny












Hot on the heels of BEP's ridiculous porn-pop hit "My Humps" comes D4L's (aka "down for life") song "Laffy Taffy." It's too bad the lyrics are so ridiculous and boiler-plate, because there are aspects of the song that are sort of interesting: namely, the push-button synth blips and space wobbles over a super-minimalist beat. Unfortunately, the vocals ruin everything. They sound cheesy, and boy are the words dumb. Even worse than the lyrics for "Lady Lumps." But I've now heard this song on the local hip-hop station three times in the last two days, so I thought it was worth mentioning. Anyway, here are some of the lyrics:
I'm lookin fa mrs.bubble gum
I'm mr.chik-o-stick
I wanna (dun dun dunt)[oh]
Cuz you so thick
Gurlz call me Jolly Rancher
Cuz i stay so hard
You can suck me for a long time
[oh my god!]
Gurl dis aint no dance flo
Dis a candy sto
Too bad 50 cent already had a song called "Candy Shop" that was popular this summer, or else this might seem novel. And don't forget that silly "tootsee roll" song from the 90's. Who would've ever guessed the 69 boyz would have a lasting influence? Oy.

But of course the candy/ sex metaphor is pretty traditional. And it's interesting to see how brand names are making their way into the lyrics now. Cocoa Puffs, Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffty, and Jolly Ranchers -- soon the whole grocery store is going to have x-rated associations. And that's good really, right? I mean, kids better start learning young that a jolly rancher is never just a jolly rancher. [ Doesn't mainstream culture sometimes taste like a big toxic cocktail of repression and transgression. Oooo...the taboo!!! Paging Dr. Freud...]

But this song really sucks (no pun intended). Especially when it shifts from simply pornographic to straight up misogynistic. I guess some things never get old.
Laffy taffy i'm likin dis
Big ol a** you shakin b****
close yo mouth and dont say s***
bend on ova and hit a split
work dat pole and work it well
stacks on deck, yo ankles swell
gurl let me touch ya
iwill neva tell
security gaurd dont scare nobody
damn right i touched dat h**
The sad billionaire said that I shouldn't even dignify these clowns with a post. But this shit is everywhere!!! And it makes money??? I mean, you know me -- I can't resist a diss. So there, D4L. You suck. And that whole look you're going for? Flava Flava already did that. And his music was good.