Sunday, November 20, 2011

Granny style, 'The Golden Girls' edition

music: Miles Davis - Walkin'

When I'm not wearing the usual t-shirt + jeans combo, I have the tendency of dressing like a granny. Watching The Golden Girls last night I realized Sophia, the funniest of them Golden Girls, can offer quite the style inspiration.

The Golden Girls (season 1, episodes 1-4)

Breaking bones

music: Ryuichi Sakamoto - Seven Samurai

Source: Yahoo! Movies

I wasn't planning a post on Breaking Dawn. Heck, I wasn't planning to see it during its opening weekend. But I have seen it. And in between all the laughs it made me quite angry.

Having a movie like Breaking Dawn come out during the whole planned parenthood debate in the States is quite the backlash. Obviously, the backlash this movie might create can't be compared to the backlash created by American legislators and politicians. However, the fact that a mass phenomenon like the Twilight series carries such an obvious anti-abortion message is just as disturbing as the horror birth scene in Breaking Dawn - Part 1.

Watching Breaking Dawn reminded me of my high school religion teacher. There was smth really strange about that woman. No matter how annoyed I was by the things that she was saying, I was always listening to her, like actually listening. I don't remember an exact quote, but she did say smth about dying during childbirth being the biggest sacrifice a woman could make and that consequently, that makes her a martyr - and not metaphorically. At that time I didn't give it much consideration but now, having seen Breaking Dawn, it got me so angry. Just seeing Bella looking like a corpse but still defending the little monster that was breaking her bones and sucking her blood made me sick to my stomach. And then, the message that the woman who dies in childbirth is some sort of saint is made clear when all her bruises and signs of death are magically erased and she becomes this heavenly glowing creature. (Sreencaps after the jump; apologies for the bad quality).

I gave up on Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn b/c I was already bored with the books but mostly b/c it was really silly. Every line of dialogue made me laugh. I could already anticipate what some of the characters would say, I could anticipate Jacob's imprinting on Renesmee. Renesmee... seriously, that name alone is a good enough reason to stop reading the book. But it was this imprinting business that was the last straw. It's disturbing how many anti-women instances are romanticized in these books.

I sort of liked the first movie b/c it was more like a teen movie. And Edward lurking in the dark in Bella's bedroom, I saw that as him being the stereotypical bad boy Bella should stay away from. Twilight was harmless. However, the amount of anti-women messages in Breaking Dawn is difficult to ignore.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A mixtape (for N.)

music: The Black Keys - Lonely Boy

East Meets West (for Nitesh)

Chapter 1

01. Mahdyar Aghajani - Weasels and Warcies
02. Douji Morita - Tatoeba Boku ga Shindara
03. Akiko Yano - Funamachi uta (Part II)
04. Anoushka Shankar - Traveller
05. Seiichi Yamamoto - Movin'
06. Ryuichi Sakamoto - Chasm

Chapter 2

07. Beirut - Vagabond
08. Sharon Van Etten - All I Can
09. Taken By Trees - My Boys
10. Ariel Pink - Bright Lit Blue Skies
11. GIRLS - Just A Song
12. Zola Jesus - Seekir

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Everyone is hanging out without me

music: David Lynch ft. Karen O - Pinky's Dream

But that's okay. I'm hanging out with Mindy.

I had trouble finding smth pink in my wardrobe but in the end I did find smth that I hadn't worn in years, smth that I don't know why I still have (*cough* hoarder!). Btw, that wall in my room was never supposed to be pink. It was supposed to be red. I still get angry about that sometimes b/c my room looks like the room of a twelve year old girly girl. Anyways. I wanted to wear smth pink b/c that's Mindy's (she's Mindy to me, not Mindy Kaling; now that I've read her book we're totally best friends) favorite color and b/c she's wearing pink on the cover of her book. Conor Oberst Reference Opportunity: that photo of Mindy is taken by Autumn de Wilde, who also took those very pink photos of Conor. And in case you don't know, book-clothes color coordination is totally a thing. Just ask Miranda July.

I finally got the book yesterday, while I was in the middle of getting ready to write a film review. I haven't written one of those in like forever and I really want to start writing about film again but it's so difficult to just start, basically b/c I know the outcome would suck compared to what I would want to write. The book, with that awesome title and that pretty cover, was so tempting, though - in the end, I stayed true to my procrastinator nature and left my own writing aside and read the book. The whole book. Reading an entire book in one day, in one go (!) is kinda rare for me. I am however embarrassed to say how many hours it took me to read it as this is a pretty light read and you should be done with it in about two hours. It took me way longer. I didn't read it "every night for two months" but still: "something is not right".

Speaking of getting ready to write, I loved this paragraph:

I've found my productive-writing-to-screwing-around ratio to be one to seven. So, for every eight-hour day of writing, there is only one good productive hour of work being done. The other seven hours are preparing for writing: pacing around the house, collapsing cardboard boxes for recycling, reading the DVD extras pamphlet from the BBC Pride & Prejudice, getting snacks lined up for writing, and YouTubing toddlers who learned the "Single Ladies" dance. I know. Isn't that horrible? So, basically, writing this piece took me the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Enjoy it accordingly.

Reading stuff like this coming from successful writers is quite reassuring. Most of the times I'll stare at a blank page for three hours even if I've already done my research and know exactly what I need to say. So instead of staring for another three hours at my laptop screen I'll do smth around the house or, more likely, keep staring at my laptop screen - randomly surfing the net or watching a tv series or YouTube videos.

I've blah-blah-ed too much about pink and how I read the book and now I no longer have the energy to comment upon the body image issues in this book. Which reminds me: I've never gotten around writing about the body image issues raised by Tina Fey in Bossypants. I'll add these two to the long list of Things To Write About Till 2012, i.e. Till The Apocalypse. Oh, don't worry, I'm not delusional. I know few ppl are interested in body image issues, and even fewer (read: zero) are interested in my opinions on this issue. But you know, I want to write about stuff like this just for fun. Yeah... I should probably stop talking about writing and actually write sth. Ugh.

There aren't many HA HA moments in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? but it's so heartwarming. It left a long-lasting smile on my face.

Now I feel like re:watching The Office just to see Mindy's scenes again. I have a ton of watching and re:watching to do and until I organize my viewing sessions I'll just re:watch these Subtle Sexuality videos.

Subtle Sexuality - Male Prima Donna

Subtle Sexuality - The Girl Next Door

+ The Concerns of Mindy Kaling

In the tradition of "The Concerns of Mindy Kaling":

Good for: The Office fans, ppl who like reading creative ppl's blogs, anyone who thinks Hollywood needs more women writing tv and movies.

Monday, November 7, 2011

PPC (Public Pop Culture)

music: Dirty Beaches - Horses

What in the end is more antisocial: blasting your in-car sound system or boom-box, or walking through a city wearing iPod headphones? The former is a contribution to civic vitality, even if it feels like noise pollution; the other is withdrawal from the street life. Music was meant to spill out into public space. You think of hip hop (with its block parties and party jams, literally music of the streets) and rave (appropriating buildings or public land), but also the poignant stories of people huddling in silent awe around the radio or someone's record player the week that Sgt Pepper's was released. The iPod is fundamentally asocial. OK, you get people who plug their iPods in at parties, but at best this is an update of the host's mix-tape, at worst the vastly expanded update of the boor that takes over the music centre and imposes his taste on everybody else.

The excerpt above is from the book I'm currently reading (still reading, yeah, I know, I'm such a slooow reader): Simon Reynolds's Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction To Its Own Past. I'm loving the book and I have so so much to learn from it. However, I do not share Reynolds's stand on the headphones-in-public issue. Quelle surprise.

What's so great about what's going on in the street that you have to experience it with all your senses? Using your mp3 player as a way of isolating yourself from street life is just a natural response when you do not identify with what's going on in the street. Ppl being loud on their phones, ppl being rude, traffic, construction / road workers, etc. etc. - it's all noise pollution. On some days you might be fine with it, on other days you'll want to mute it.

And you learn to appreciate the invention of mp3 players when you don't have one on you and desperately wish you had one on you because the sound of being in public makes you cringe or downright infuriates you.

These days I'm mp3-player-less. I mean, I still have my mp3 player. Not an iPod. I can't afford an iPod. I have a lame mp3 player with a 1 Gb memory that runs on a AAA battery, which is not exactly environmentally friendly, but then again I don't use it that often as I don't go out that often. I'm trying to stay away from earbud headphones, and until I get a new set of headphones, I have to go out into the world without my mp3 player. That can become quite a problem during my train trips to/ from Cluj. There will be ppl who will be talking w/out adjusting their volume, like they're the only passengers, and sometimes I find it difficult to concentrate on my book. As if that weren't enough there will be the occasional "boor" who appoints himself the train DJ. Because the music he has on his phone is oh so incredibly awesome.

The day after I had read the above excerpt, i.e. on Friday, I was once again taking a train to Cluj and resumed my reading only to be later interrupted by a self-appointed train DJ. I wanted to say sth but refrained myself as you never know what nutjob you might be dealing with. (And at seeing this man get off the train I concluded I was wise in keeping my mouth shut.) At first I got really angry because he was playing the exact type of music I did not want to be made to hear. Then I jokingly told myself I should maybe try to appreciate the anthropological potential of the situation or at least take it as a counterargument to Reynolds's ideas - music is not always meant to spill out into public space. There's a reason headphones exist and that's not only to allow you to isolate yourself from street noise but also to shield you from other ppl's crappy taste in music. Because, seriously, who would want to sit through this playlist?

  1. unidentified manea
  2. unidentified manea
  3. Rihanna - Rude Boy (skipped)
  4. Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce - Telephone
  5. unidentified manea (skipped)
  6. unidentified manea
  7. N & D - Vino la mine
  8. unidentified manea (skipped)
  9. N & D - Vino la mine

Need I say more?

(This is very similar to the type of music my cousin had on his computer a few years ago: maybe a few of the latest international hits, Romanian music, and plenty of manele. His "DJ-ing" was also very ADD-like - he would rarely listen to a song till the end, if what he was doing could even be called listening.)

What's interesting is that more and more ppl are using their laptops on the train (I only used mine twice on the train and I was pretty nervous about plugging it into those sockets). So now you have ppl watching movies in public. I remember these two girls watching a movie together and thinking they were being so rude. I mean, who wants to hear explosions and screams and all that? It's just rude. I don't know how else to say it. You either watch it with headphones on or you don't watch it at all.

Later on last Friday, coming back home, I got a seat next to some cool college kids. I resumed my reading of Retromania and after a few pages I put it down for a sec. The guy next to me asked me if I wanted to watch a movie. (At first I thought he was looking at my other seat neighbor, but no, he was looking at me. Um yeah, that's how huge my insecurities are - even when sm is looking at me and talking to me, I'm not sure if they are looking at me and talking to me.) So I said yes, because why refuse a movie? (although I had just satisfied my cinephage appetite with Tomboy and Din dragoste, cu cele mai bune intenţii/ Best Intentions.) Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I had not even heard of this movie but the title told me everything I needed to know. It was a Hollywood movie. And no, we were not rude. We watched the movie with headphones on (he had two seats). But then I started feeling rude and like a huge egoist because I realized oh wait I'm not gonna be able to watch the entire movie. Ugh, I should've switched seats with my other seat neighbor and let him watch the movie. What a greedy cinephage I can be sometimes. So I saw half of Percy Jackson, courtesy of my seat neighbor, and the other half the next day, at home.

This got me thinking not so much about the way we consume movies in public (others have ruminated on this subject more successfully than I could) but about what movies we choose to watch in public. My snobby preconception is this: ppl who watch movies on the train will not choose any art house type of movie. They will go for the blockbusters, or for whatever is new on their torrent site of choice. I kinda doubt Romanians check the rating of a movie before watching it, so I wonder: are they concerned the movie they're watching in public, maybe sitting next to a potentially judgmental elderly person, may contain extreme violence and/or (full-frontal) nudity? Do they play it safe and go for a Pixar movie or sth aimed at teens? Anyways. Thank you, kind stranger, both for the movie and for the unintentional food for thought.