Monday, September 10, 2012

So Blake and Ryan got married. Sort of, a little bit, totally surprised?

So, on this lovely Monday morning following a busy weekend, a raging middle-of-the-night rain storm, a power outage, and completely over-sleeping after power-outage alarm didn't sound, I'm starting the week thinking, "Wow. I could really use a weekend right now."

And then -- THEN -- I discovered that my last two cans of Diet Dr Pepper (upon which I survive during the workdays) had been NABBED by some office nitwit, which meant I had to go purse-diving for some pocket change to feed into the office soda machine for something Decidedly Less Tasty (and more Coke Zero-ee) than my beloved DDP.

To make matters more Monday-like, I:

1 -- Paid for my Vending-Coke
2 -- Grabbed my change and realized that someone else had left several quarters behind in the change tray, as well.
3 -- Remembered that the person who had used the vending machine before me was an UBER-SPOOKY individual from "the department upstairs" whom several of have decided is CERTAINLY a serial killer.
4 -- Opted to leave those bonus quarters behind, fearing the Uber-Spook would realize he'd left his quarters, return to retrieve them, find them missing, REMEMBER who was in line behind him at the soda machine --
5 -- Hunt me down
6 -- Kill me.

So, there's that.

All in a Monday morning.

The good news, however: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds conformed to my theory that like faces marry like faces by running off to the hills of South Carolina and getting hitched on some Romantic Plantation that was used in "The Notebook."

While it's not surprising that they decided to swap vows, it IS surprising how....surprisingly they played the event. No big media roll-out of their engagement, no sale of "We're So In Love!" photos to US Weekly, no "Covert meetings with famous wedding gown designers in a lead-up to the big, cover-winning reveal." None of it.

They played it RESPECTABLY. They actually managed to do it in a way that suggests they have respect for the vows, The Institution, each others' families, all that jazz.

Much like my delight when Katie Holmes sprung herself from the clutches of Cruise, this one caught me pleasantly off guard.

Also: while I'll admit their respective public personas leave me a little uninspired, their private lives continue to be their PRIVATE lives, and that's true of SO FEW celebrities these days, I can't hate on them much. Neither are spied out partying, neither are known for getting unruly in the VIP rooms, they're apparently both down to stay at home in the burbs with their dogs and their baked goods and their weekend visits to the parents -- they're almost like: *gasp* -- NORMAL PEOPLE.

They're both sort of mediocre actors with generally pretty faces and bodies. They have matching chins, lips, and jaws. Toothy smiles. Both love jaunty hats.

I'm going to declare this a "marriage likely to last a decade." I think there will be strong-chinned, toothy babies with fantastic Baby-Style. I pray they continue to be as low-key as they've been for the better part of the last year that they've been dating.

I wish 'em luck.

I like their Game.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Word. Encouragement for us non-degree-holding smarty pants types.

So, this kid here never finished college.

Er, hasn't finished yet (and isn't presently enrolled).

I still have pie-in-the-sky ivy league, post-grad visions of grandeur. I'm a smart enough kiddo who loves the instant gratification of papers and exams and loves the scholastic mandate (excuse?) to lose myself in someone else's writing and then ruminate on it for a grade. It's Grown-Up Fun.

I love school, school loves me.

And it smarts a little when I realize how much I've let myself down by letting myself off the hook for the last dozen or so years since I last pursued collegiate-stuff full-time.

I don't talk about it much, publicly (instead, I e-publish it and toss it out on webernets for posterity. Much less embarrassing that way, right?). It's like a bruise to my otherwise "smart person" persona that I'd rather keep hidden under the bed. Sure, I have hundreds of credits to my name. One year of "Fancy College" in San Diego assembled an interesting mash-up of bible classes and Christian psychology. Many years of intermittent community college landed me with a different cornucopia of art history, media studies, and philosophy classes before a previous employer offered to pony up for an accounting degree which, while never finished, landed me with not-quite-transferable professional-development credits that favored debits, balance sheets, and direct cost crud that derailed my "lib arts" plans for a good several semesters.

AND YET -- even though I haven't had the luxury of finishing an official degree, those dozen-plus years of sometimes-school means I fancy myself a reasonably well-educated brat, well-read (except that I undercut myself by slumming it with the Motley Crue memoir this weekend....and....enjoyed it), supremely enthusiastic about learning, and still eager to fulfill my promise to myself to belly up and finalize a degree before the b-a-b-i-e-s commence in a few years.

THAT bit of personal history is why I was fascinated by one Greta Van Susteren's article on Huffington Post that asked if we'll ever have a president who attended a community college. It's a quick couple of paragraphs:

I was lucky, I went to some pretty good schools (University of Wisconsin and Georgetown Law School). One thing I learned going to those two schools and teaching in a law school, and rubbing shoulders all these years with people who went to similar schools or even much fancier ones, is that graduates of fancy schools don't have a monopoly on being smart or having good common sense or even good ideas and strong leadership skills. There is a giant pool of other people -- yes, those who went to a community college or maybe no college -- who are really smart. I regret we don't tap into this pool more often for ideas and for leadership. 
In many instances you go to fancy schools because you can -- your family has money, or you have scholarship or a special mentor, or your family guided you there because they knew about those schools. Some families don't even think those schools are within reach and so we never get to experience the leadership skills of their family member. 
I am certainly not criticizing those who seize the opportunity and go to fancy schools -- but merely lamenting the fact that we miss the opportunity to experience the great skills and leadership of those who did not. Not everything is learned in a classroom -- and all A's doesn't mean you have the answers for everyone else. It means you are good at tests. I think practical real life experience is much more valuable.

Oh, I have practical real life experience in droves. AND I get A's. Using The Greta Criterion I should be president. I have decent common sense, good ideas, and, if not necessarily Global Superpower Leadership Ability, I'm young yet. So I should probably run for president.

All kidding aside, I was about eleven years old when I recall watching my first national political convention. Watching the delegates parade in, watching the speeches, watching the "who's-who" of early nineties politics rub shoulders and give ovation after ovation, I remember being struck by the VERY vivid thought: "I'm supposed to be there someday."

Sure, convictions of an eleven year-old's homework-dodging mind are not always indications of a higher career calling, but, it was the beginning of my fascination with the theatre of politics, with the euphoric spell a finely-crafted speech casts upon an audience, with the cyclical nature of fervor and frustration on a national scale.....there's something about the whole meal deal of Politics that continues to engage me on a sort of romantic level, as one of humankind's oldest traditions, as something toward which precious few people feel REAL apathy (sure, there's conversational apathy, but I think most people DO have fairly specific opinions about how the world ought to run).

This year, my personal political outlook has changed QUITE a bit, been tested quite a bit, and I've re-evaluated quite a bit, but what hasn't changed is my fascination with the theatrics of elections, with the pomp of it all, the "using too many words to say too little" tactic used to whip large crowds into a sign-waving's FUN.

And Greta's right, smart folks come from less-lauded Alma maters, too (but, the sad truth, I fear, is that our current pool of political candidates is whittled more by the dollars to their name than by their smarts or their "practical real-life experience.").

Anyway -- more power to community college candidates of the future. We're out there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Three months, no venue, no date: no problem.

Quick update.

Super-quick. because if I weren't me, and I were reading me, I'd be in the "shut up about the wedding stuff" camp. But maybe some people's little "please! no more book reviews!" radars actually perk up for wedding stuff. I know there are zillions of blogs out there frequented by zillions of daydreaming chick-like people who love nothing better than to stare at pictures of other people's table centerpieces and silverware and aisle-runners, so:

Wedding stuff.

Theoretically, we're planning to tie the knot on December 1st. Theoretically, because, with 94 days till W-day, we have:

No firm, official date, stemming from the fact that we have:

No venue.


No guest list.

No invitations.

No caterer.

No "wedding website" (BUT! I did actually splat down money for a "normal" domain rather than a, so once I find a template, I can get up and rolling. Because that's cute and easy to remember, right?

So, apparently it's hard to find an indoor venue for about 120+ people in high Company Holiday Party season with only 3 months notice. APPARENTLY, it's sort of like a reality TV show to see who can find and secure a venue before the Local Electrical Company locks that action down with a nice, plump, company check. Gladiator Weddings.

We DID toss around the idea of a quick, small, intimate, "legal wedding" to sign the papers and git 'er done....there are MANY reasons this would be practical, logical, money-saving, stress-reducing, fill in the blank. We'd treat the immediate family (and a lucky friend or two) to a nice dinner at a small, intimate, local winery, I'd put on the dress and the fancy shoes, he'd wear a suit........then we'd wait until spring when we could save some money, and drag it all out all over again. For the sake of the crowd. Put on the dress, force some friends to get dressed up, arrange the cake and caterers and music and photographer....and: fake it, sort of.

But (unless I'm keeping a super-special secret and we're already married........), we're opting not to go that route.

We'd rather rush, hustle, cut some corners, and throw elbows at Local Electrical Company in our bid to lock down some yet-un-chosen venue, throw out the party platters of pasta and Caesar salad, hit up Costco for the most decent bubbly we can buy in bulk for $7 a bottle (heh, heh, heh), and pay for a keg. We'll force brothers and sisters into tuxes and bridesmaid dresses, we'll debate the merits of Cee-Lo versus Band of Horses for a processional (or Abba. Don't discount our willingness to go off the reservation and play Abba as I drag that train down the aisle), we'll have awkward toasts and awkward dancing to Ke$ha (YES.) and old Usher (YES.) and, oh, Amy Grant (double YES.) and then force everyone out the door by 11pm so that we don't get charged for extra hours at Holiday Party Central. That's what we'd rather do.

So -- that's where it's at.

We're just not there yet.

And, I know, that wasn't super-quick.

Cleaning up the news feed: making Facebook work for ME.

(....actually -- you MUST go check out the "reviews" for the Lady-Pens. As good as "wolf t-shirt" reviews...)

First off, I'll remind us that I spend All Day On The Internet. All caps. It's a "short attention span for real work" sort of thing, coupled with a genuine Love and Affection for Al Gore's Brain Child. 


Realized the other day that it seemed like my Facebook (and, to a similar extent, Twitter) feed had become nothing but one big, loud, obnoxious, never-ending advertisement for crap I don't need. Realized, concurrently, that I'd been the maestro of my own irritation, orchestrating a series of "likes" and "subscriptions" and "follow" mouse-clicks that meant my day was spent scrolling through nothing but advertisements for junk hucked at me by companies I'd rather just left me alone.

Anyone who's ever "liked" a store at which they shop or a product they buy and then immediately regretted that the company actually posts annoying stuff with much regularity will relate to the chagrin: it was beginning to feel like my online life was nothing but a collection of commercials. And no one likes commercials. 

Unless they're Dos Equis commercials. Or, if you're Mr Wonderful, the "free credit score dot com, dot com" commercials, EVEN THOUGH the jingle gets stuck in his head for days. Especially at night when we're trying to sleep. 


Sure, I "liked" Jiffy Lube to get a $5 discount, but I don't really want to hear what they have to say about winterizing my car when I fire up Facebook in the morning.

Yep, I "liked" that steakhouse downtown because they had a free dinner giveaway once (a dinner that costs most of a pay check, actually), but I don't really care to read about their whiskey-tasting dinners and their famous guests chefs when all I really want is to cruise through pictures of actual friends' weddings and pregnant bellies.

Maybe I "like" that tanning salon, but would they PLEASE stop posting pictures of bikini-clad girls in lots of jewelry asking fans to "Yea" or "Nay" whether or not layered necklaces are a "must" when poolside this summer - ???

And yeah, I "like" that cheap chain clothing store that cranks out chintzy junk made by Chinese slave labor, but I don't care that they just slashed clearance prices on their website and I don't care that they want to re-direct me to this month's "Elle" magazine to see the many ways I can copy designer looks for less. And I don't have Homecoming anything on the horizon (this should be telling me something about their target demographic. And it ain't me). 

Yes, I "like" the expensive department store, but that doesn't mean it helps my "buy things" compulsion to have $9700 dresses appearing in the news feed as though any REAL people (read: people who do not appear on any television programming on the Bravo network) would ever buy a Lanvin for ten grand just because Facebook showed it to them. Now when they finally get the full line of Tom Ford cosmetics, then maybe I'll........NO. No, I'm not a masochist. 

And I couldn't even tell you why I "liked" that particular film studio, in the first place. All they produce are violence-heavy, dude-magnet action flicks. Wait -- actually, I love those.

Where were the "friends" in my "social networks?" Don't real PEOPLE use these sites anymore? Why am I constantly sifting through the songs they just listened to on Spotify? Why do I care that so-and-so likes Tide detergent? 

Life on the webertubes was becoming like commercial radio -- you think you stop by to hear some peppy summer hip-hop, you end up dodging "Ovation Cell Therapy" commercials and Nothing But Katy Perry.

It's a wasteland.

Because I allowed it to be. 

Cue moment of clarity. 

I created this mess, I can unsubscribe myself from this mess. 

Sort of like when I purged my email of ALL junk mail a year ago. If it wasn't from a person, I unsubscribed. It gradually seeps back in, the junk, but at least I had a baseline. For a few good months, my phone wasn't full of 18 junk emails when I checked it in the morning. If I could do that, I could do the same with Facebook, right?

So I did. 

And, because most of the rest of us are deluged with crap we "like" and songs we played (or skipped), it was a little.....desolate out there, once I whittled the noise down to just friends and family. So, I started adding back to the mix. Rather than overloading myself with sales pitches, I chose to follow sites that I actually visit and respect. Blogs and organizations that add something positive to the online conversation. The equivalent of choosing to eat at a restaurant I really ENJOY during a lunch break instead of filling up on beef jerky and diet coke from the drug store down the block from the office.

(But no one else does that, do they.....? Those little "Cocktail Pep's" are so good when you need a salty, greasy, mid-afternoon protein fix....... And at least I weaned myself from the Sour Patch Kids.....THAT must deserve a pat on the back...? Heather, you're gross.). 

Anyway -- I've realized that it sort of restored my faith in the webernet to make a more focused decision about my online diet. Less Oberto, more parsley. Less candy, more grapefruit. All of a sudden, the world is a brighter, more optimistic place. 

I need more optimism these days. I hate my day job (even while it provides ridiculous amounts of time for You Tube and celebrity gossip.....). I'm frustrated with the current political dialogue. I don't get nearly enough sleep. There are 11 pounds more of me to love than I'd prefer, say my jeans. The wedding planning is a massive undertaking for which Mr Wonderful and I are woefully under-prepared. I'd love a vacation. BUT. But! In the midst of that, I can remind myself that there are smart people out there, saying smart things about important topics in ways that are accessible to massive numbers of people. 

It's just our job to go find it. 

(...look! local issues getting national attention!...)

(....Decision made: I'll "like" organizations that re-focus my "webernet diet...")

(....see? It makes me THINK during the day......)

( cupcakes! see, I can keep some "junk food" and still ENJOY the newsfeed...)
(...I've discovered legitmately RESPECTFUL discussions in the comments...!)

(...I love these "Business of Books" ladies -- they teach publishing. And are witty......)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Love it. It's like an "early aughts" match made in heaven.....

I love that this Avril/Nickleback "surprise!" came out of nowhere, and none of us stateside had ANY idea these two sorta-has-beens were even a thing....

I love that they're a thing.* 

I love that they both think they're tough, hardcore stuff, and then they pose for People with an awesome "church-directory circa 1987" photo that slaps 'em both with a dose of The Proms. 

Aren't they pretty much just a match made in dirty Converse-wearing heaven? If that Zumiez store still exists, I'm pretty sure these guys should be their new Spokescouple. 

Aside from the fact that the Most Annoying Recording Artist of All Time bought his Sk8R Gurrrrl a pretty righteous ring, we have an equally Girl Scout proposal, if the tabs are to be believed. Lainey Gossip reports that: 

according toHELLO! Canada Avril was scrapbooking when Chad proposed. He slipped an extra page in there that read “WILL YOU MARRY ME”. Go ahead and process that. It’s amazing.

Yep. Amazing. 

Here's the thing: I'm totally fascinated by Avril's choices for Man Friends. Here's a quick photo tour:

The ex-husband, Deryck Whibley (they got hitched in 2006, divorced 3 years later). 

"Oil" heir Brandon Davis. She slummed it (SERIOUSLY) with him in 2009, post-split. 

 Brody Jenner (yes, of "The Hills" and "Kardashian" fame). They were together from some point in 2010 until this January. 

 The Kroeger. That's "KREW-Gur" to those of us who aren'

Okay, girlfriend doesn't have a type. AND, if we use my theory that we're attracted to people that look like us, she has no concept of the proportion of her own features. But she likes a strong chin.

Anyway -- lil Av' went from rock dude, to drunken, oily heir (seriously -- just try to find a picture of that guy where he's not looking sweaty and greased), to reality star frat boy, to......Her Perfect Match. 

I'm sold -- they're perfect for each other. They both think they're more hardcore than the rest of us think they are. People make fun of both of their careers like it was Olympic sport. They're like twin punchlines. Happily Ever After Punchlines. Who's faces from the nose down are strikingly similar. Which is how we know they'll make it last. 

“He makes me laugh every day. He takes care of me in every way and is extremely attentive.”

And Chad says:

“I knew I was falling for her. It was incredibly powerful and something I'll never forget. I feel like the luckiest person alive.”

I love this. Make way for babies with dip-dyed hair and shredded jeans. Just wait for it.

*Oh, and in the spirit of full-disclosure: I dig Avril. She's cute. Her music is contagious. Her shoes are consistently horrible. There. We got that over with. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Can we boycott this stupid movie? Please???????

I wanted to get excited for this movie. I mean -- Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Judd Apatow.......we're conditioned to laugh before the trailer even BEGINS, right? It has all the ingredients for Grown-Up Comic Gold -- Paul Rudd is basically Movie Jesus, after all, blameless savior of cinema, beloved by women, children, and smart men the world over.  And the subject seems watchable enough: suburban malcontents trying to spice up their life? Sure, most of us burb-dwelling, middle-management types can get excited about that.

Except: if the entire film is anything like the trailer, this will be one protracted confirmation of stereotypes about women.

Such as:

Women are afraid of aging.

Women are uptight and vain.

The only alternative to the natural aging process is SEXINESS. You may be old, but you can still be a "boner machine" if you keep those abs tight enough.

Your husband will get tired of hearing you speak.

You're a harpy.

Your kids find you irksome and old-fashioned.

Old, flabby doctors will make fun of your ancient vagina.

Oh -- and childbirth? If you've INFLICTED that sight upon your mate, he'll be so horrified he'll still be feeling the need to RETALIATE, 15 years later. Heaven forbid.

I get it, I get it: couples need to reinvigorate a marriage they've not maintained, and there's something about that magic number 40 that makes some folks feel old. BUT -- why are all of the jokes at the expense of the wife? And are we ladies supposed to go see this movie and giggle at the ludicrousness of women aging, thinking, "silly old cow, better tighten up those abs or her husband will go find someone with a better tummy who knows better than to say what she's thinking. More crunches! More crunches!"

Not that Bridesmaids was any huge leap forward for women in movies in terms of SUBJECT matter (it was still a lot of catty girl-on-girl drama in pursuit of Happily Ever After With A Man), BUT: the jokes were more or less aimed at the ridiculousness of ladies' attempts to sabotage one another's happiness.

"This is 40," on the other hand, just looks like another way to solidify the media myth that women older than 25 are pretty much whiny brats with cobwebs on their lady parts, who want nothing more than to "be sexy again."

As though that were the holy grain of lady-hood.

Just check out THIS PIECE on the shrinking age of Cosmo cover models. According to Refinery29's take:

"... it suggests that the mainstream definition of womanly and sexy is changing, and increasingly, older women are being told, at least subliminally, that they aren't it. Instead, we're being told that since we are literally losing value as we age, the way to feel sexy is to channel our inner teen (or take advice from a teen girl)."

Friday, August 10, 2012

My face is channeling Demi Lovato. I didn't give it permission to do that.

There's a big difference between this:

Exhibit A: Victoria Justice

And this:

Exhibit B: Demi Lovato

I was aiming for looking like option A, today.

Instead, I feel like I'm channeling option B.

And THAT (minus the Star Trek hair), is not quite how I'd wanted the face to end up looking today.

I think it's mostly the eyebrows. I totally ended up with RoboBrows today.

Not that Demi isn't a lovely girl -- she is. But, um, spider lashes and glass-cutting eyebrows aren't quite "sunny Friday at the office"-congruent.

But -- we can't all be Victoria Justice.

So, my eyebrows and I will power through the day with an inadvertently smug expression that has nothing to do with my attitude and everything to do with that damn waterproof pencil......

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Champagne and picture-hanging.

Wanna know the super-secret key to successful interior decorating?

Champagne. At midnight.

Okay, prosecco, but Let's Not Be Annoying.

Bubbly. Champers. Sparkling wine. Critical to the success of midnight picture-hanging. Less critical to the success of getting up with the five am alarm a few hours later, but really: Thursday's already Friday's obnoxious, yappy dog (to use a metaphor that hits close to home), so why not dress it up with some sleep-deprived headaches and a drowsy brain, too - !

So, if I had more pictures, I'd toss them up. These ones are the official documentation that we couldn't decide whether mirror looked better Vertical. Or. Horizontal. This was a matter of grave philosophical importance. The room's chi hangs in the balance. The fancy wall bolts won't allow us to change our mind -- we must make a decision, and then STICK WITH IT. A decision about this mirror's orientation must not be taken too lightly.

Grave. Philosophical. Importance.

So, when a decision likes this proves simply too vexing for the Midnight Champagne Minds of an otherwise quite decisive couple, the obvious alternative is to abandon the mirror, and go absolutely crazy hanging every other colorful piece of art you own on your bedroom wall.

We did this last night. As though we needed to apologize to the living room wall for leaving one portion of it naked and mirror-less, we attacked the other walls with that hammer like we had something to atone for. In the end, we just proved that our bedroom walls can handle a lot more color than we gave them credit for. We're snoozing under a rainbow of blues and greens, watched over by parrot portraits and splashy, abstract gardens and "river scenes" that only look like "river scenes" because I tell myself they do: we were basically suckered into a giant, poorly painted, exceptionally colorful canvas full of horizontal lines of blue-ish green that we LOVED only because it was So Cheap! And So Big!

And so we have a wall full of Cheap and Big and Colorful art, hung (with a miraculously keen eye for Straight) at midnight.

Woke up this morning delighted. Which means we did something right.

The mirror is still waiting for its prince to come in the form of some molly bolts and a permanent place of (either horizontal OR vertical) honor on what's probably the only wall in our house that doesn't have something Large and Imposing tacked up yet.

That's tonight's project.

And the utter aimlessness of these few paragraphs are brought to you by Morning After Midnight Champagne Brain. Because calling it "hungover" doesn't sound very artistic.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Skyfall" trailer - yippee!

Color me giddy: it's the new James Bond trailer - !!! And not a wimpy little teaser, either: we get a full-length, 2.5-minute long "wheeeeeeee!" -fest peppered with plenty of Daniel Craig's smug, unsmiling machismo and (of course!) car-flipping, flame-throwing, gun-blasting special effects.

Once upon a time, I owned every single James Bond movie ever made. To say "I lost them in the divorce" sounds cheesy, but.......alas, years ago my "let's keep this friendly" magnanimity got the best of Bond, and away went "Tomorrow Never Dies," away went "The Spy Who Loved Me," away went "Octopussy," away went "Thunderball," away went "Doctor No." Gone. All gone.

Now, maybe it's a sacrilege to tarnish the memory of the library loved and lost by saying this, but: I miss the Daniel Craig versions the least. Because dude is NOT James Bond. The Daniel Craig as James Bond movies are GREAT movies, but I have trouble reconciling the bottles of Bollinger and the "no means yes" cultural nuances of the 60's and the corny personal air- and watercraft that make up the lexicon of my Bond appreciation with the Serious, Brooding, BLONDISH Craig-Bond that seems now to be the de facto FAVORITE iteration of the hero. It's like the Borne reboot with Jeremy Renner. Movie looks good in its own right, but don't try to tell me it's the same character.

Because it's not.

Bond is a tuxedo and cheesy banter. Bond is a head of pomade-slick hair and a smirk. Bond is a smarmy come-on with the ladies. Bond's girl troubles are only ever one-movie long. Bond doesn't brood. Bond pops the cork and finds a classier broad with a sillier name. Bond (ok, fine) occasionally rides a cello case down a  snowy mountain. Bond lands in an enemy fortress and drinks their sake. When Bond gets hurt, he Ace-bandages that action and jumps back in the fight.

BUT: I love me an expensive action flick. I love big explosions, and expensive cars flipping end over end, and I love seeing a boat chase or a top-of-a-train chase, no matter what. I love antiheroes with unreconciled emotional scars that make them Angry Special Agents with Pent-Up Passion.

All of that said: this Daniel Craig Bond routine looks like it's giving a nod to the Bond of Old, right down to Javier Bardem's blonde homage to the villains of the Roger Moore era (I'm thinking of Christopher Walken in "A View to a Kill"). The set and cinematography look more indulgent than in "Quantum of Solace" (which, frankly, made me thirsty to watch...all of that sand, and desert and heat....). The "gondola inside the dragon's mouth" bit looks terrifically campy -- reminds me of the sort of grand, illusory sets and scenery of "From Russia with Love" or "Moonraker," some of the earlier Bond films with big flair.

Overall: I'm excited about it. Ralph Fiennes is back to looking well-groomed and seems frankly, delightfully ominous. This round of Bond girls look as lovely as ever. And toward the end of the trailer -- that moment where Bond leaps into the train car from out of nowhere and then straightens the cuffs on the suit?


Can't wait.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Deconstructing pop lyrics: sorry, now it's stuck in your head

New recurring topic! I'm gonna take chart-topping pop songs we all hate and deconstruct the lyrics. Because, for as much as I avoid all commercial radio, there are certain songs that it's impossible to avoid, and, if I'm going to wake up with those songs stuck in my head, we may as well get intellectual with exactly what messages we're internalizing, whether we asked for it or not.

Honestly, I got the idea from a Maroon 5 song I was shame-singing in the car. Slumming it with music. Because their latest album is catchy as hell. And I hate that. So, I listen privately, and sing along when I know no one will hear me. Anyway -- the first song on the album is this battle anthem, of sorts, where Mr Levine swears up and down that he'll quit this girl. After just one more night. He may hate himself, but damn, her lipstick. That sort of healthy stuff. Just try not to like the song though -- in my mind, it's a parade of angry Victoria's Secret models sparring with skinny, tattooed Lotharios by moonlight.

Got me thinking about the fact that we take completely for granted that pop songs are almost always about L-O-V-E in one way or another, and (since I was recently around a couple of under 10 year-olds who knew every word to Fun's "We Are Young" ode to dysfunction), I realized that we don't actually "think" about what these songs are really saying all of that often.  Unless it's a Lana Del Rey song, in which case, you're left going, "wait -- what the heck.....? I don't get it......."

So, let's get all "middle school essay" on this action and dissect the song everyone loves to hate, Billboard's current #1 ear-killer: "Call Me Maybe."

Okay, okay -- first off: that should really be "Call Me, Maybe." Otherwise, it's a very Arrested Development-esque plea for someone to refer to her by the name Maybe. Which, I suspect, is not at all what Carly Rae's aiming for. I suspect she wants a phone call. That's sort of quaint in its own right, right? I mean, if we were being really "up-to-the-minute" it would be, like, "Tweet Me, Maybe." or "Friend Me, maybe" or even the predictable "Text Me, Maybe."

But no. Carly Rae wants Mr Ripped Jeans to actually make her phone ring.

Let's see what else she wants, shall we? Incidentally: this chick looks like me. Which makes me think perhaps bangs again this summer?

Moving along.

"Call Me Maybe"

I threw a wish in the well,
Don't ask me, I'll never tell
I looked to you as it fell,
And now you're in my way

Honestly: that's actually sort of "5th grade cute." Except that Ms Jepsen is 27. And being marketed like she's 17. Gonna be a hard mold to break out of. But, I guess that's the point: grade school kids need a pop hero who's NOT Rihanna. 

So, she's chucking quarters in the mall fountain with some sort of secret wish for (presumably) LOVE, and, whaddaya know, looks up and there's the Zumiez employee of the month blocking her path to Sephora. For instance. 

I'd trade my soul for a wish,
Pennies and dimes for a kiss
I wasn't looking for this,
But now you're in my way


Okay. Let's go with it: 

She'd TRADE HER SOUL for whatever she's secretly wishing for. Love? Okay -- so she'd trade her entire soul for love, she'd happily give away kisses for free, BUT: let's be clear -- this dude who's in her way? She wasn't interested in whatever he's selling. 

Oh, the contradictions of the 27-going-on-17-year-old's inner yearnings. "I just want love! I'm not looking for love! You're here! Love me!" 

Your stare was holdin',
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Hot night, wind was blowin'
Where you think you're going, baby?

Heh. Wow. That is straight up "Patrick Swayze Fantasy Hour" right there. So, we've tossed some pennies in the fountain, spun around to find some dude staring at us, rockin the ripped jeans while his (dare I say "feathered") hair blows around in the hot, summer wind, right? 

Okay, it did just occur to me that this might be a same-sex romance, in which case the ripped jeans and wind blowing and hot night sort of thing becomes a lot more interesting. But -- a quick google search yields startlingly little support for that idea. 

So, we're gonna have to work the Metro-Male angle here. She turns around and has "Sergio" blocking her path. Which is pretty perfect. Because she wasn't LOOKING for him, but now she won't let him leave. She's pretty quick on her feet, because instantly the tune becomes:

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

The chorus that launched a thousand memes

HOWEVER, let's give her this: she's assertive. She may not be looking for love, she may be giving away kisses for free, she may like guys with goofy pants, BUT, she takes the helm here, in a sort of non-committal way that both empowers and dis-empowers her in that single, titular phrase. 

"Call me" is direct. Admirably direct. She knows it's "crazy" because they just met, BUT: she'd like to chat with him. 

And then the "maybe" drops. She gives away her power. Puts it back on him. 

Carly Rae, darlin: stick to your guns! Give girls some ammunition in their quest for the right to ask boys out without feeling too forward or silly! Nail the landing!

But nope. There's the grammatically disappointing "Maybe." 

It's hard to look right,
At you baby,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

First time I heard this song I was a little thrown by the "It's hard to look right at you, baby" bit. Strangely, I took it in the direction of "he's as beautiful as the sun -- can't look directly in his face.....tooooooooo beautiful......!"

And then my own inner "shy kid" kicked in and I'm having visions of a 17 year-old mall girl staring at her feet and twirling her hair and giggling because she's uncomfortable being assertive enough to make decent, uninterrupted eye contact with Mr Ripped Jeans. 

I 100% understand that. I'm the Princess of that. By way of example, introverts sometimes have more difficulty making eye contact with someone when they're the one speaking. When they're listening to someone else speak, they're great at eye contact. It has to do with neuro-pathways and circuits of information retrieval and all sorts of cool brain chemistry stuff -- but, let's imagine that she's a love-struck introvert. All of a sudden: hard to make eye contact. 

Actually, Mr Wonderful wondered if I had some kind of eye contact PROBLEM on our first date, because he said I'd "look anywhere but in his eyes." We'd chatted on the phone, but this was our first face-to-face, and I was consumed enough with worrying about being conversational, with my lips healing from a recent attack of fever blisters, with wondering if I was speaking too quickly, all of that. Eye contact took a major nosedive. That was just one thing too many to remind myself to do. 

Carly Rae: I feel ya.
And all the other boys,
Try to chase me,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

More incongruousness. Now she's miss "Hot Commodity," and she's letting him know her dance ticket may soon be a sold out show (to mix metaphors a little). So, like, I'm super-cute, and, like, all of these boys wanna totally buy me ice cream and hold my hand and sing me songs, but, like, you should call me, MAYBE. 

Ugh. I've never liked that tactic, that sort of "everyone else wants me, you should, too" brand of self-marketing. HOWEVER -- it's in the same passive-aggressive spirit as the whole "Maybe" thing, so she's consistent, at least.....? I guess? 

You took your time with the call,
I took no time with the fall
You gave me nothing at all,
But still, you're in my way

This is where I beg womankind everywhere to demand more. She goes out on a limb, he leaves her hanging. Eventually, he calls. And is cagey. And doesn't reciprocate her peppy little love-fest attitude. Nevertheless: she's in looooooooooove. Can't get over him. "Falls" for him. 

How 'bout we set a higher standard for ourselves than playing the "sitting by the phone waiting for Mr Big to call" role? It just looks desperate.

I beg, and borrow and steal
Have foresight and it's real
I didn't know I would feel it,
But it's in my way

By this point in the song, I'm starting to worry about little lady a bit. She went from trading her soul in the first verse to begging and stealing, then claiming that she had no idea she was going to feel this way.....I'm getting the idea that she bit off more than she can chew when she stuck her neck out and asked for a call, and now she's just resorting to weird cliches about borrowing and stealing. OR -- it's a throwaway verse because they needed to pad the song for length and tossed in some generic phrasing that doesn't really link into the rest of the story? Let's go with that. 

Finally, the closing sucker-punch that will stick in your head until the day Gaga comes out with someone anywhere nearly as catchy as Bad Romance:

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
I missed you so bad
And you should know that
So call me, maybe?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. This line betrays it all: I wasn't looking for this, but you're hot and I can't stop thinking about you, and now -- MY LIFE WAS EMPTY BEFORE YOU. The ultimate power sacrifice. Without saying so in as many words, it's a betrayal of her independence or plucky, assertive spirit to fall back on the whole "before we met I knew you were the piece of me that was missing.......MAYBE you should call me, after I've slapped that heaviness on you? No pressure. It's just, you're the missing puzzle piece in my life, I'm empty without you, so, ya know, if you have time, or there's no one cuter out there, or you're bored or me, maybe!"


If she were 17 I'd let her get away with this mess, but the girl is nearly 30. The marketing department behind her label had better figure out how they're going to allow her to transition into normal adulthood before they have a perpetual teen-star on their hands who's actually 34. Because that's as uncomfortable as watching Biebs do donuts in a parking lot while showing only the backsides of the video girls in "Girlfriend." 

Oh well. Honestly -- one of the cleaner, less-offensive, less objectifying pop songs we've seen at the top of the charts in awhile. 

Once Carly Rae's bumped from the top Billboard slot, we'll dissect whatever song succeeds her. Cuz this is fun!