Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cutie Crack

the wonder of google video and you tube allows me to watch hours of frolicking shih tzus. and you can too. Click here to view the cute.

Bloody Hell

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fever Four the Flava'














the four meme, from El

four movies you could watch over and over

It Happened One Night
Bringing Up Baby
Totoro
Clueless

HM: Pride and Prejudice (the A&E/ BBC one, not that Keira Knightly shit)

four tv shows you love to watch:

Buffy
Gilmore Girls (seasons 1-3)
Veronica Mars
Freaks and Geeks

HM: Angel, The Sopranos

four websites you visit daily

bloglisted
haverchuk
tiny lucky genius
rockslinga

four of your favorite foods:

avocado
sushi
palak paneer
mango

four places you'd rather be right now:

Royal Festival Hall, London
MOCA, Los Angeles
The Strand, New York City
Studio Ghibli Museum, Tokyo

what about you , reader?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Memo To Kanye: The Jesus Schtick is Silly



















Madonna did it. Diddy did it. Now you do it. And we're supposed to care?


People will likely disagree with me, but Eminem did a much better job rocking the boat than Kanye has. I'm not talking about the music now; I'm just talking about the image.

I haven't read The Tipping Point, and I probably won't, but I've heard the book is about these moments where something "tips." I'm not sure if that's exactly applicable here, but my sense is that the Jesus/ Angel Wings / gaudy-jangly crucifixes and burning crosses have lost their potency. Kanye isn't an iconoclast, he's just a poser. And his posing seems to cross paths with a set of images that appear more cartoonish and more garish everyday.


Controversy isn't just a Jesus-shaped puppet you can stick your hand into any old time you want people to pay attention to you. In an age in which the Christian Right is gaining more momentum, believers like Kanye could really problematize and complicate Christian imagery. But it just falls flat. Why?


Theological issues aside, what's going on with these signs and symbols? It's like Christianity has become branded or a corporatized. Does this make anyone else feel a little queasy?


Read an
interesting article on Kanye here. And fill me in if I'm missing something. I wanna know what other people think about this.

We Wanna Make You Happy















So
this article says that poetry can make you less depressed. In between the Cutie Crack and the poems, it seems I might be catching a little buzz. Does anyone know if listening to punk rock or hip hop produces serotonin? What about watching Buffy? Do I just wanna get stoned?

image source

Thoughts on "160 Greatest Female Vocalist in Rock 'N' Rock"


Recently, I penned some controversial lines about how much I dislike modern male pop music vocalists (I guess I should point out that I still like Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Paycheck, Dieter Fischer-Diskau and Phil Minton just fine) and lacking anything resembling a real point, opted to conclude with an "I'm retarded" rhetorical flourish and proclaimed: "maybe I hate music now!" Both Michalle and Michelle brought to my attention the gaping void at the heart of my analysis: the failure to attend to female vocalists. Very well. Now that I have seen the list of "160 Greatest Female Vocalists in Rock 'N' Roll" posted over at Oh No They Didn't, I have sufficient inspiration to proceed. Allons-y.

This list is notable for a number of reasons: 1) 160 is a non-standard number, suggesting that the list is somehow comprehensive (obviously a farcical proposition); 2) not all of the included vocalists are crap; 3) some of the included vocalists are totally crap, and their proximity to non-crap make them seem even more execrable; 4) R & B singers are given lots of coverage, but Nashville crooners ignored. So wrong!

The first point made above needs no elaboration. As regards point number two, here is my selection of non-crap vocalists who made the list, with some commentary where appropriate: Obviously 1-4 (Aretha, Etta, Ruth and Janis) need no support. Nevertheless, anyone who can hear the opening bars of "At Last" or "Piece of My Heart" and not feel fatigued is stronger of constitution than me. Dusty Springfield "Son of a Preacher Man" fits into the "great, but never needs be heard again" category. Grace Slick is one of the true unsung geniuses of modern music, and ranks with Buffy Sainte-Marie as one of the true originals of psychedelia, so I was happy to see her given props. Emmylou Harris at 20 is, of course, a welcome sight.

Now, to get to anything about which I have strong positive feelings, we must skip to Bjork at number 50. I adore Chrissie Hynde at number 52, but "I'll Stand By You" makes me think of reading 6-years-out-of-date issues of the Canadian news journal "Maclean's" while waiting to have cavities filled. Yeccch. I am no "Pretenders" freak, so perhaps there are more deserving choices, but I have always liked the touching insousiance of "Chain Gang." Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" at 62 is no doubt a masterpiece, but "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is the ne plus ultra of the Lauper canon. Also in the 60s are Patti Smith and Sandy Denny, though neither song is the right one-- "Gloria" of course should be the Smith choice, and as regards Denny, either Fairport Convention's "Meet on the Ledge" or "Matty Groves."

The 70s have some power hitters: Mary Wells's "My Guy," Ronnie Spector's "Be My Baby" (should be in the top 10), and Nico's "Chelsea Girls," which is a great choice, far superior to anything off the banana album, even the sublime "All Tomorrow's Parties." Guilty pleasure time here: I think Dolores O'riordan's vocal performance on "Zombie" (92) is fantastic, and therefore deserving of inclusion.

We must skip to 111, Belinda Carlisle's "Vacation" for anything really worthy (I have been trying to avoid comments regarding the craziness of certain ass-horrible songs beating out great ones, but the idea that Allanah Myles's "Black Velvet" appears prior to the Go-Gos is a fucking travesty). Kelly Clarkson at 125 with "Since U Been Gone" is a truly brilliant performance, probably the best of the last few years. The nice cluster in the 130s, PJ Harvey's "Down By The Water" (should be "50 Ft. Queenie," no doubt?), Beyonce at 135 (though "Crazy In Love" is the deserving title), numero 136 Fontella Bass's "Rescue Me," Madonna at 137 (horrible selection with "This Used To Be My Neighborhood," really ought to be "Ray of Light," methinks), and Liz Phair at 138 ("The Divorce Song" is not a bad choice) warms the heart. Joan Jett and Kim Deal in the final decile round out my list of notably good choices.

More thoughts on this list to come. I will hold my tongue on the brain-boiling exclusions and omissions in the hopes that readers will chime in. Nope, cannot resist the brutal stupidity of no Missy, Loretta Lynn, or Satomi. What's wrong with these people?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Angelina is Boring










Honestly, she was more interesting when she wore a vial of blood around her neck and made out with her brother. I mean, that was pretty gross, but it's better than being all self-satisfied and preggers like everyone else in Hollywood. And Brad is dumb. He's just like this big, dumb golden retriever.


I'm preparing for a longer post on feminism and celebrity gossip. Thanks to TLG for pointing out the super-hot new Pink video. And Re: my earlier post on tough girls, I think Pink is one. Good for her.

Well Grubbed, Old Raccoon!


Raccoons have been the subject of many a palaver round FD HQ of lates. The furry critters have been romping around around our attic, causing us to call on the services of one "JJ," a real Texas pest control man who has been setting up (humane, natch) traps and such around the homestead.

"JJ" has a droopy grey moustache and the demeanor of a frontier town drunken barber... like all such characters, he took an immediate shine to the old SB, creating some tense situations, on account of I couldn't understand a single word that came out of his mouth. Noticing guitars scattered around the living room, "JJ" attempted to build a bridge between himself and me. Alas, it was to be like the fabled Alaskan "bridge to nowhere." Ordinarily, I love the bonds that music helps strengthen between strangers, and I can usually go a long way to pretend that common ground exists where in reality it does not. But "JJ"'s idiosyncratic elocution, married with his failure to recognize that his burnout friends, such as "Crazy Dave," were not universally known personalities (diminishing the impact of points such as "I'm playing with Crazy Dave now!" ) really compromised the success of his attempts to bond with me. Oh man, now I am feeling guilty. But, I ask you, how do you properly respond to a wild-eyed exterminator proclaiming "I know over fifty songs!" and then staring you down, waiting for a suitably enthusiastic reaction?

Given the raccoon-demonium going on around here, it was a stroke of luck that I noticed on my travels over to the incredibly great Monthly Review online zine site an article by Michael Steinberg about the 1994 Studio Ghibli raccoon epic "Pom Poko." As Steinberg helpfully pointed out, the hard-to-see-in-the-USA film was to play on TCM Thursday night, so FF set the VCR on stun, and we got ready for some anti-capitalist animated raccoon bliss. All I had heard about this movie was that it involved raccoons resisting the encroachments of urban sprawl by attacking construction workers with their monstrously oversized testicles. Who doesn't like that? But as Steinberg points out, this film is much, much deeper than that, and its radical potentital lies as much in its choice of a community as protagonist rather than a questing individual. This is indeed one of the submerged tendencies in radical art making in the United States, with its insane commitment to possessive individualism and seemingly endless appetite for narratives about well-heeled narcissistic men working out their identities (Cameron Crowe, you better not be anywhere near the Bastille come the next revolution, buster.)

We will post more about "Pom Poko" once we have had more time to ponder its intricacies. But we should point out that Michael Steinberg's bio links to an interesting Rochester, NY literary collective, Cat's Out of The Bag, that is working on a project truly after Fluffy Dollars' proverbial heart: producing and distributing anti-capitalist comic book pamphlets in the style of Chick Publications' evangelical Christian tracts. We want to know more!

Project Runway Plays Favorites

I don't know why everyone is hating on Zulema this week. So she had a "walk-off." So what? Isn't choosing your model supposed to be one of the rewards of winning the previous week's challenge? Don't designers usually "cast" their runway shows -- selecting models who they think will show their clothes to the best advantage? And didn't everyone -- especially Nick and Tim Gunn -- acknowledge the shortcomings of Zulema's previous model? Tim freaking called her "an elongated marshmallow with gumby legs."

This has nothing to do with Zulema's designs, which I'll admit had their own problems. Rather, this simply seems like a case of Tim Gunn et al playing favorites. The shit they've tolerated from Santino doesn't even compare to Zulema's decision to take advantage of one of the privileges afforded her by winning the previous week's challenge. It's like they skewed this very fair, reasonable thing Zulema did just to make viewers feel more satisfied when she got cut. And I think that's stupid.

Just sayin'.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nurse Buffy


















I've been fighting a cold this week, and thus have spent most of it snuggled under a blanket watching Buffy. You may or may not know how much I love this show -- how much I love this character. And I want more. And I want answers. I want more because I love it, and I want answers because certain episodes upset me (there is a hell dimension just for Marti Noxon). These feelings are common among Buffy fans, and thankfully many of them are enterprising and thoughtful enough to generate all sorts of materials to give folks like me our fix.

For one, I've been listening to these really great podcasts from Buffycast.com. They're really focused and thoughtful, and I can't wait for them to make more. I've also enjoyed combing through the BTVS related-links over at Whedonesque. And I've found some interesting quotes that seem to confirm my theories that Joss-Sarah relations weren't always so peachy (thanks, in part, to Noxon).

First, here's a tidbit from a recent interview with Joss:

Q: What do you have to say to the people who complain about the final seasons of Buffy, who don't get season 6?
Whedon: Sorry. We do the best we can. We do what we think is right. Sometimes we sway too far one way, sometimes too far another. Season 6 was incredibly dark and that happens. I know that people said that Sarah complained; there were times where she said. "I feel lost." That's what we were going for, and eventually we realized that we had taken Buffy away from people, and they're not going to accept it. There were some members of the audience who had trouble with it and that I understand and that I respect, but that's where I thought the story had to go. When I started to feel it, I brought her back. The funny thing was that Sarah asked to talk to Marti [Noxon] and had a conversation with her at the end of the season and said, Now I feel like we're starting to miss the point, we're starting to miss the idea of the strong girl going to the dark side of what power is. I was astonished because I had the exact same conversation with her the day before.

And check out what writer David Fury said when asked why SMG didn't make an appearance on the final season of Angel.

FURY: We had approached her about doing the 100th episode. Buffy was going to appear in my episode, the episode that I directed, so we put out the offer to Sarah and she politely declined which, I will say, she had her reasons. I think there might have been a death of an aunt or something that she was dealing with but, regardless, I guess Joss kind of felt a little bit put off about the way it was done. There was a perceived notion, on both sides, I can say, between Sarah and Joss of ingratitude for both parties. Joss doesn't feel like Sarah's ever shown the proper amount of gratitude for what he's done for her and her career, and I think she feels the same way. That she feels she was never afforded the credit for Buffy's success and the gratitude from Joss.

And lastly, here's something Sarah said when asked why she decided to stop doing Buffy:

"I really didn't have any [input]. Maybe I should have, 'cause then we wouldn't have got so lost. It took me a while to work up the nerve to say something.

"It didn't feel like Buffy. But it's easy to be vocal now, because Joss isn't going to be yelling at me tomorrow."

As much as I'm grateful to Joss Whedon for creating Buffy, I side with Sarah on this one. She was Buffy. And I miss her.

Cutie Crack

Punk Rock Poetry Fridays

for poems with grrr

MOCK ORANGE
Louise Gl├╝ck

It is not the moon, I tell you.
It is these flowers
lighting the yard.

I hate them.
I hate them as I hate sex,
the man's mouth
sealing my mouth, the man's
paralyzing body--

and the cry that always escapes,
the low, humiliating
premise of union--

In my mind tonight
I hear the question and pursuing answer
fused in one sound
that mounts and mounts and then
is split into the old selves,
the tired antagonisms. Do you see?
We were made fools of.
And the scent of mock orange
drifts through the window.

How can I rest?
How can I be content
while there is still
that odor in the world?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

Annoying Boy of the Week: Isaac Mizrahi Gets His Grope On


















Isaac Mizrahi won everybody over in the mid-nineties with the movie Unzipped. He was neurotic, chubby, and adorable. Sure, he might have seemed somewhat narcissistic and obnoxious, but isn't that what we expect from everyone in the fashion industry? His me! me! me! was part of the charm.

But those days are long gone. Now he's neurotic, skinny, and annoying. According to his bio "Mizrahi'’s interests lie in the entertainment industry as well as in fashion and he dreams one day of merging the two fields, functioning as the first entertainer/designer." Good luck with that "first" thing, mister. I'm pretty sure the Olsens beat you to it, and they were like ten.

Anyway, he landed the red carpet gig at the Golden Globes (I personally think this job should have gone to Kathy Griffin. Others disagree). So there he is, all decked out in his tux with his little microphone, ready to quiz the stars as they file into theater. And what does he do but ask Eva Longoria about the state of her pubic hair, look down Terri Hatcher's dress, and feel up -- yes, feel up with his hands -- Scarlett Johansson. He even squeezed. Twice.

What. An. Absolute. Asshole.

Color me confused, but when did it become okay for people to randomly feel up others on national television? And this isn't the first time I've seen it. Andy Dick played with Pamela Anderson's breasts on Comedy Central's Roast of Pamela Anderson. I guess some people thought that was really funny, but it gave me the creeps.

Since Mizrahi's antics at the Golden Globes, he's been both applauded and scolded, but mostly applauded. This take on the incident suggests that Mizrahi simply acted on a desire everyone who saw ScarJo that night must have experienced. At an event celebrating the very industry that precipitated the first critical discussion of "the male gaze," Isaac Mizrahi gave it hands.

I don't know how the women in Hollywood stand it. Sure being rich helps, but being groped on the red carpet ??? Yuck. And those fools who are saying she must have liked it because she's smiling??? Give me a break. You must be like five years old, because everyone knows it's easiest to smile and laugh off an embarrassing situation. And all those headlines about S.J.'s "golden globes"??? Tired, buster.

Interestingly, many -- including Ms. Johanson herself -- are ready to excuse the designer's antics simply because he is gay. Check out this bit of copy from the Guardian:
There are certain things you can only get away with if you are a very camp, gay fashion designer. It's probably safe to say that having a quick feel of Scarlett Johansson's breasts is one of them. So all credit to Isaac Mizrahi, making his debut appearance as a red carpet interviewer for the American cable channel E! at the Golden Globes last week, for not passing up the opportunity.

and later:
"We'll be seeing him at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Grammys,' said a spokesman for E!. 'And yes, he's always pretty flamboyant.' Celebrities, you have been warned.
Warned??? Fuck you E!!

I know the nineties seem like a million years ago, but am I the only one who remembers all that buzz around sexual harassment seminars and campaigns against domestic violence and rallies to take back the night??? Why are we seeing macho guys on the Real World slap their female roommates around? And why is okay for anyone -- gay or not -- to feel up a woman in front of a rolling camera???

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cute In Theory ( an introduction)















Is Jabba the Hut cute?*

Here in the manse of fluffy dollars, the SB and I have been consuming mass quantities of pizza and quaffing copious amounts "frothy amber goodness" and musing on the question "what makes something cute?" Over at m.n.f.b. (my new favorite blog) Cute Overload, proprietor Meg has been compiling / developing something she calls "the rules of cuteness." And her timing seems just right.

You see, we're not really so interested in beauty anymore. I mean, we like it and all, but the question of cuteness -- Cuteness Studies, if you will -- seems somehow more relevant. I'm not sure why this is so. Perhaps is the post-Thomas Kinkaid, post-museum, post-mall, post-nature age that's made extra room in our imaginations for the cute. And, I'm working only on hunches here, but I suspect our interest in the cute will overlap with my interest feminist politics and the SB's fondness for all things Marxist.

Areas of interest:


--"cuteness" and capitalism. The whole point of fluffy dollars has been to investigate the connectedness between the fluffy and the dollar, so this question is particularly compelling. From the sheer delight elicited by seeing windows full of mass produced Totoros in Little Tokyo to the sheer horror of reading about the puppy mills that stock mall pet stores.

-- "cuteness" and sexuality. "cuteness" are a non-gendered category, despite it's associations with femininity and "girlie-ness."

-- "cuteness" and feminism. Riot grrl ("huggy bear" et al)
-- areas where the membrane between the cute and the grotesque seems incredibly thin or where the cute and grotesque actually overlap (i.e. Jabba the hut?)
-- the semiotics of cuteness, cross-pollination, and cooptation. Paris Hilton and Hello Kitty, Hello Kitty vibrators, ect.

-- "cuteness" and the categories of "human," "animal," and "other"
-- "cuteness" and youth, "cuteness" and wisdom
--"cuteness" and aggression or the transformation / perversion of something cute into something aggressive and evil (i.e. gremlins, Willow, Hillary Duff)
--"cuteness" and class

-- "cuteness" and propriety. Check out the comment thread from this post over at CO. I HATE it when people tell other people what to do! Yuck.
--"cuteness" as an elicitor of both euphoria and empathy (Awwww....)

This little investigation should pair nicely with our "cutie crack" feature. What do you think? Does cute make you high?
















*for the record, I do not think Jabba the Hut is cute. He reminds me of snot or a flaccid penis. This is, I believe, a popular opinion. So then why did/do people think Ectoplasm (he has similar qualities), the little ghost from Ghostbusters, was/is cute?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thirteen ways (minus eleven) of looking at a rump











No doubt, you have alls been wondering about the Sad Billionaire's take on K-Fed's latest musical offering, "PopoZao." To be perfectly honest, I have not really known what to make of "PopoZao"... on the one hand, I like the Shaw Brothers style chop-socky aesthetic, and the spooky little "mondo cane" exotica flourishes, although the whole piece pales in comparison to its obvious inspiration, the "Indian Flute" hip-hop trope that was all over urban radio a few seasons ago... On the other hand, K-Fed's vocal performance fails to live up to the promise of "Y'All Ain't Ready." Instead of pursuing the tantalizing "line of flight" from musical conventions latent in "Y'All Ain't Ready," K-Fed lingers in the back, lurking in the beat's periphery. Here, K-Fed's monstrous and risible overconfidence leads not to heroic heights of idiocy but merely to atmospheric posturing and ambient braggadocio. Thoroughly creepy... which is nevertheless an accomplishment in itself, given how totally uncreepy the would-be creeps of Nu-Metal are, despite their best intentions...


Now, should we note that "PopoZao" is part of the twisted brazilophilia of which Femme Feral has recently written? As FF noted, this is an orientation that overlooks the virtues of, say, the Porto Alegre World Social Forums or Tom Ze, instead favoring the attractions of the polished pubus. In line with this neo-colonialist cult of the "Brazilian," K-Fed's refrain-- "PopoZao"-- apparently refers to the ample "rumpus" (to paraphrase Neil Schweiber) of a female dance partner.

Can this remind us of anything but the recent New Country hit, "Honky Tonk Badonk Adonk" by Trace Adkins? (NB: Could Derrideans be any happier with the name of this be-hatted rounder?) In the grand tradition of American popular music, this tune represents the migration from African American to Anglo American music of a "meme," in this case, the term "badonk adonk," a slang term for the female butt; we must conclude that, like the late phenomenon of caucasians greeting each other as fellow canines, this is a process from which neither culture profits.

But more importantly, especially for those who have seen the video for "Honky Tonk Badonk Adonk": this song captures the particular heinousness that is men expressing themselves with their voices. Watching CMT, one encouters that unique sense of abject inevitability familiar from sniffing expired milk. The tight-be-Wrangler'ed and enStetson-ed Adkins enters the frame, the name of the song flashes in the bottom left-hand corner, and the viewer/listener knows that within a few seconds this douchebag is going to be in a deep-knee squat, wagging a finger at the camera, and growling: "HON-ky TONK.... ba DONK a DONK!"

Why is this so brutal? Well, among other things, at least for me, I just can't stand such an undiluted expression of masculine self-confidence. I think I first became aware of this phenomenon as a child when Bruce Willis launched his musical side-career as the revanchist "Bruno." Ironically, I saw "Bruno" again for the first time in my adult life on my wedding day, on an E! THS, which provided ample documentation of Willis' ties to the Republican Party and American super-patriotic hyper-militarism.

Soon after I experienced my first preadolescent dry-heaves at the sight of the harmonica-blowing, one-foot-firmly-planted-the-other-foot-pumping-the-floor, balding party animal "Bruno," I was exposed to the horrific testostoronal braying of Jim Morrison. We should all be grateful to Canadian composer John Oswald for finding the anagram "Sir Jim Moron" to go with his Doors cut-up "O Hell." K-Fed, Trace Adkins, Bruno... Sir Jim Morons, all, no? Lately, Tom Jones, Roger Daltrey, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Fifty Cent, Nelly, Usher... all men too embarassingly manly for me to listen to without breaking out into hysterical fits of giggling or pained grimacing. Strangely, I am not either much attracted to the opposing dialectical cultural force: the vogue for gender-bending crooners like Antony of the Johnsons. Maybe I hate music now!

File Under WTF?

Saaya Irie, the name synonymous with the Japanese underground culture, may never put on a bathing suit again. The 11-year old Japanese girl best known for her scandalous F-cups vaulted into world-wide fame through an article printed in the Japan Times which stated her presence may ease tension between China and Japan. The article mentions the busty Saaya’s picture posted on a popular Chinese Internet forum with a slogan reading: “"An 11-year-old Japanese girl with large breasts has a proclamation for all Chinese people! Dear elder brothers, a beautiful young Japanese girl is beseeching you.

"Please stop these anti-Japanese hijinks. If you don't, I won't like you anymore."


To make the entire ordeal more sordid, the slogan continues that her breasts would "rise up" if the people "unite for the sake of China's democracy."

Um, what????

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Twinkle Links and "Cutie Crack"














This title scorer is really nifty, although it's a tad inscrutable. In case you're wondering, Fluffy Dollars has about a 60% chance of being a best seller. Hmm...

And what's up with all the cute stuff? Turns out that cute things stimulate the same part of the brain as drugs, leading us to start a new feature -- "Cute Crack." This week's dose of cute crack is pictured above. Those are baby porcupines. The one on the end looks sleepy. Image source

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mind Your Own Damn "Midlands"


















So I came across this little tidbit on uber community gossip blog Oh No They Didn't! the other day:
Screen star Kate Beckinsale was shocked by her Pearl Harbour co-star Ben Affleck's negative stance on English women - and made it her "mission" to smash his prejudices.

Affleck insisted girls from across the Atlantic didn't match up to the image-conscious Los Angeles ladies he was used to.

She recalls, "Ben Affleck used to say, 'English girls are really bad at doing their bikini waxes, and smell.'

"I thought, 'I will make it my mission to prove you wrong.'"

Lovely, right? Now I already loathe Mr. Affleck. He and Matt Damon both remind me of smug little monkeys, and B.A. always struck me as a bit of a jerk. So I shouldn't be surprised, really, that he would say something so ridiculous re: English women and their bikini waxes, especially since the state and style of women's' pubic hair has become such a popular topic of conversation. But are we really going to pretend that there isn't something inherently offensive about chumps like Ben Affleck making sweeping generalizations about how women should groom themselves?

In an episode of Sex in the City, Samantha's man friend comments that she's getting a little "wild down there." And in the previews for Mrs. Henderson Presents-- a movie about the opening of the Windmill theater during wartime London -- Mrs. Henderson (Dame Judy Dench) tells her manager not to worry when she informs him that her actresses will be appearing nude. And she tells him that he can put aside his concerns re: "the midlands," assuring him that "we'll have a barber." In a preview filled with ridiculously cliched jokes, even the SB had to admit that this one takes the biscuit. You can use all the gardening metaphors you want, but this ain't no Wordsworth.

And even if it was, it wouldn't be any less offensive. Pastoral images, particularly in America, were often invoked in order to conjure scenes of an unspoiled feminized wilderness just waiting for the white man to come over and cultivate it. Imperialism has always loved looking for a new garden to trim. And the rapist paradigm implicit in the cultivator / penetrator metaphor in these narratives is clearly articulated in ecofeminist analyses. And when it goes wrong: "the horror, the horror."

In the quintisential chick-lit cream puff, The Bergdorf Blondes, the protagonist refers to her vagina as "Rio." It's named, of course, after her Brazilian bikini wax. I'm sorry, but am I the only one disturbed by the undertones of orientalism here? Am I the only one made uncomfortable by sentences like "I got my first brazilian!" Hello! Brazil was the last country to outlaw slavery in the Americas, it suffered for decades under dictatorship and IMF structural adjustment programs, and is often depicted as a pleasure zone for rich white people who want to dance with exotic brown skinned people. Isn't it sort of troubling that people like Gwyneth Paltrow now go around crowing "a brazilian changed my life!" Good luck with that, sister.

Of course people can do whatever they want to their own bodies. It's when they start telling other people what to do that bothers me. But I do think that this trend (often lumped in with the macro-trend commonly referred to as "pornification") ought to be looked at critically. So I'll just leave you with this little bit from Mimi Spencer:



RELATED LINKS:

This salon article
Let Waxing Wane
13 year olds waxing
Ben Affleck likes his nuts

Friday, January 13, 2006

Why

do I find this story about Lindsay Lohan's graffiti so fascinating?

My New TV Girlfriend












is Mac (played by Tina Majorino) from Veronica Mars. She's more than just a post-Willow sidekick.

Reasons I like Mac:

1. Blue hair is cool
2. She calls her bedroom "the cave."
3. She's smart
4. She brings some subtle lesbian-undertones to her interactions with Veronica
5. She rips off all the idiot rich kids with a "purity test" so she can finance the purchase of a shiny new car.

There's a Veronica Mars panel at the Alamo tomorrow. Creator Rob Tomas along with Kristen Bell (Veronica) and Jason Dohnring (Logan) will be there. Unfortunately, the show is SOLD OUT ( >sniff< ) but we might go just to get a peek anyway.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'm Self-Medicating...















...with fluff!!! Seriously, Cuteness Overload is too f*ing much.

(thanks to Paula for this link)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gossip, Emotional Capital, Culpability, and Ca$$$h


















I read the first few pages of the third installment of the
Gossip Girl series at the bookstore the other day. These books are the Laguna Beach / Sex in the City of Teen Lit, and they read much like an issue of Teen People or Cosmo Girl, only with less heart. Those who compare the series to Cruel Intentions do so in order to flatter it. Sure, there's intrigue and drugs and bulimia and blow jobs, but there's not really a psychological or moral conflict at it's core. It's a slick and superficial world, and -- I think -- a rather perfect articulation of capitalism.

I've long been wondering about the relationship between gossip and capitalism. I've often felt the recent boon in celebrity gossip correlates to these ne0-conservative / post- September 11 / Bush-era / war times. What is it about the intimate details (both trivial and sordid) of high profile personalities' lives that so captures mainstream America's imagination right now? Everything from crossing a street to giving birth is treated as "news," so long as the subject is "famous" or "important" enough to elicit our interest. And yet even gossip's most ardent devotees are quick to point out that following these stories is simply an "escape." The content is often recycled and even the subjects seem to be not only ephemeral but also disposable. Nothing in this world "sticks" really. Everything seems slippery and half-real.

Juxtapose this with the public outrcy surrounding James Frey's supposedly fictional "memoir" A Million Little Pieces. and the controversy surrounding gender-bending "memoirist" J.T. Leroy. Are people mad because they read something they thought to be true and now feel betrayed to find out it may not be, or are they mad because they spent 22.95 on something that was "falsely advertised" as truth?

When people buy a memoir like Frey's, they are likely looking for titillation, an empathetic connection with the author, and an opportunity to gauge the events of their own life. In such a success oriented culture, the memoir is one of the few places where the difficulty of life is acknowledged. The legitimacy of these tomes seems to be vested in the fact that these are just ordinary people telling their stories. And these stories are considered valuable because they are true.

While there is much about contemporary gossip that seems focused on making the secret familiar, it's relationship to "truth" is commonly acknowledged to be dubious. And the majority of gossip items tend to merely debate a given report's accuracy. Thus the pleasure and excitement of following gossip seems to come mostly from the possibility of truth, but not necessarily the promise of truth.

The tenuous nature of gossip's connection to truth is reflected in it's etymology.
O.E. godsibb "godparent," from God + sibb "relative" (see sibling). Extended in M.E. to "any familiar acquaintance" (1362), especially to woman friends invited to attend a birth, later to "anyone engaging in familiar or idle talk" (1566). Sense extended 1811 to "trifling talk, groundless rumor." The verb meaning "to talk idly about the affairs of others" is from 1627.
The word literally goes from meaning "godparent" to "trifling talk, groundless rumor." The disparity between the meaningful and the trivial is also echoed here. Why, in age of increasing globalization and in a country that seems to be in the midst of carrying out it's grossest, most imperialistic aspirations, is the value of celebrity gossip increasing? And why, in an age of "plausible deniability" -- an age in which politicians and corporate executives appear to be increasingly comfortable with a rather loose definition of "truth," are we so quick to string up this one guy whose life doesn't really affect anybody?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I HATE HIGH SCHOOL


















"Is it just me, or does the whole world suck?" -- Lindsay Weir, Freaks and Geeks

It's the level of hell Dante missed. It's so bad. So, so bad. And yet stories about high school remain totally fascinating. Hollywood really likes to tell stories about high school. So what is it about high school that makes it such a compelling setting for TV shows and movies? I'm brainstorming for a longer post about this, and I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas. So far mine are pretty half-baked -- and sometimes contradictory -- but here's what I've come up with so far:

  1. High school is flawed. Puberty, the fascist caste systems and intricate social hierarchies, and the limits on one's freedom and time combined with increased freedoms is a big toxic cupcake. And the social pressures more than make up the difference for those immune to ones of an academic nature. High school does little to make any of this better. The buildings are ugly and smelly, the teachers are often unhappy and underpaid, and the students either do their homework or don't. Yuck.
  2. High School is full of teenagers. Somehow, even before we are teens and after we are teens, we find it easy to identify with teens. Something about the psychological struggle of figuring out one's identity -- the psychic locus of high school -- remains familiar to us.
  3. High school is ironic. Parents believe it to be good and safe and educational, but it's often little more than a sesspool of weird sexual harassment, drugs, and boredom.
  4. High school is often a critique of society at large. The problems within the halls of high school mirror those of the culture beyond it.
  5. In high school, the future is indeterminate. Who knows where these people will end up? Something about the openness of the high school student's future is appealing.
Pictured above: Wilson Cruz as Ricky (My So-Called Life), one of TV's first gay teens.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Friends with Fluffs















Dear Readers. I am soliciting you for pics of your favorite fluffy things. This is a picture taken by the lovely Miss Elka of her dog Ozzie. This picture is rad for three reasons: (1) obviously, Ozzzie is very cute. (2) Ozzie is wearing a fluffy feather boa (3) Ozzie is making an adorable expression, which includes an eyeroll.

I KNOW that ozzie is a feminist, but I'm not sure if she's a Marxist. My hunch is that most dogs are Marxists, but I'm not a pet psychic, so that's just idle speculation.*

*BTW, I love that commercial in which Fat Joe plays a pet pyschic. It's for some phone company. It's tight.

A question for Slate

why were so few women included in your year in review?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

KIM KELLY IS MY FRIEND or WHERE HAVE ALL THE TOUGH GIRLS GONE?

She's my favorite tough girl. Mercurial, volatile, brassy, and funny as hell. She bulldozes through the halls of McKinley High, spitting nails and scowling. She is my current make-up inspiration. Pale lips and smudged-cover-girl eyes. And I totally want her blue jacket.

For those of you not familiar with Kim Kelly, she's one of the "freaks" from the short-lived but totally brilliant FREAKS AND GEEKS . Thanks to MZN and E, we now own the series on DVD, and well, we've been watching it like crazy.

KIM KELLY is a character we all know, but rarely see depicted in TV shows these days. There are male bullies and "mean girls," but Kim Kelly is neither. She's a bad-ass girl with attitude from a lumpen class back-ground. She smokes pot and has sex, and she's quick to threaten those who annoy her with physical violence (i.e,"Are you calling me irrational? Because I'll tear your head off, Daniel. I'll tear it off and I'll throw it over that fence.") The thing is, Kim Kelly is also totally lovable.

Her TV precedents are gals like Rizzo and Leather Tuscadero (played by Suzi Quatro, aka suzie q. Also, there is a good teen beat band from the 90's called Tuscadero. They sing about Nancy Drew...but I digress). And though Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life has a few things in common with Kim, it's tough (no pun intended) to find anyone else like her these days. Though tough girls still seem to be rockin' pretty hard (Sleater Kinney, The Donnas) and hip hopping (Eve, esp. in her early days), there are not many of them on TV.

I'm not sure why this is so. Unlike the "mean girl," the "tough girl" isn't necessarily dripping with femininity (though there is "bad gal" make-up). And though Buffy is TOTALLY "tough," Kim Kelly's toughness is of a different sort. And though Paris Gellar's tongue is just a sharp, she's way more square. It seems as though the tough girls without a calling or a type-a personality have gone underground.

So this is one of my current projects. I'm looking for tough girls on TV. I think I might start by checking out this new ROLLERGIRLS show from A&E. And I'd like to take a look at this book and this book.

And speaking of books, I'd like to end this post with a bit from one of Kim Kelly's book reviews. This is from her review of Deenie by Judy Blume.

Girls get tested for scoliosis all the time in gym class and it sucks. How'd you like to take your top off, stand around in your bra, and bend over in front of a doctor? So don't complain about that "turn your head and cough" crap. Anyway, Deenie has to wear a scoliosis brace. That's got to be pretty rough. But she's so conceited you want to slap her. It's like, "Boo hoo, now I can't wear my cute new school outfits!" And her mom's a real piece of work. All she cares about is forcing Deenie to be a model, so she can mooch off her daughter's paychecks. If I were Deenie, I'd make her mom wear the brace for a day or two. Then maybe she'd leave her alone. The one cool thing about Deenie is that she tells people the truth about her brace, instead of making up some lie. Eventually, everyone gets used to the idea. And this cute guy still wants to make out with her.

Read more about Kim Kelly and her book reviews here. And give me a shout if you know any tough girls.