January 16, 2013 § 3 Comments
I don’t condone physical violence. I think that the world can withstand, nay, even requires, a well timed insult every now and again, but that physical violence should be avoided. That isn’t to say, however, that I don’t sometimes have the impulse to punch someone in the throat. Today I found myself having such a moment.
Whom do I want to punch, you ask? This dickbag.
The above photograph features U.K. “poet” Christian Ward. He has recently received some press for submitting poems plagiarized from multiple other poets to contests (at least one of which he won) and literary journals.
And when I say “plagiarized from,” I do not mean “similar to,” or “influenced by,” or “utilizing as part of a pastiche of allusion, a la Eliot, Pound, etc.” I mean that he stole others writers’ poems whole hog.
In the case of his submitting a Helen Mort poem to the Hope Bourne prize, he took her poem, changing “Only a handful of words, including replacing ‘father’ for ‘mother’ in the first line, ‘river Exe’ for ‘Ullapool’ further on and changing the reference to a kingfisher south of Rannoch Moor to a peregrine falcon on Bossington Beach,” according to the Western Morning News, who broke the story and are being cited by outlets such as the Guardian and The Telegraph as the source for the particulars of Ward’s artistic theft.
In a response to the Guardian article, made via their website’s comment function (oh the many extra meanings that avenue brings his retort), Ward defends himself, partially by asserting that, were he a more famous writer, the media/the literary community would not be acting as a “lynch mob” (his words) against him. Ward writes,”Remember that T.S. Eliot borrowed extensively when writing The Waste Land. If Eliot had written it today, would he have been accused of plagiarism?”
Ward’s defense here is so paltry, however, that it barely warrants a counterargument. Yes, to some extent, all writing is “borrowing.” The Anxiety of Influence is nearing the fortieth anniversary of its 1973 publication; the literary public understands that new writing is simply reworkings and reimaginings of older writing, to a degree. And Ward cannot himself believe–unless we can add delusion to the list of his evident personality defects–that Eliot’s constellation of quotations and allusions in The Waste Land resembles in any way Ward’s theft of entire small poems without any acknowledgement of their having a source beyond his own brain.
Allusion is distinct from plagiarism, as is homage. Concerning Ward’s alleged plagiarism, I know only the details divulged by various newspapers and by poet Paisley Rekdal, from whom Ward stole, but given the available information, I find it unmistakably apparent that what Ward did was theft, not homage or allusion.
When poet and visual artist Jen Bervin creates poems by excerpting just a few words from a Shakespeare sonnet, she is not stealing the bard’s artistic property but using it as a beautiful block of marble from which to carve something new. When Ronal Johnson similarly “finds” poems within Paradise Lost by whiting out all but his chosen words from the manuscript, he is reinventing. Michael Cunningham extensively cites Whitman in the context of his own expansive narrative. John Updike takes the situation and relationships from Hamlet and imagines from them an ongoing family saga. These writings constitute homage, allusion, reimagining. Ward’s appropriations of other poets’ poems is so far from such acts of new artistic creation that I will belabor the comparison no further.
As to Ward’s contention that the media and the public would not similarly attack a more famous writer, he is quite naive, if he truly believes his own excuse. Modern Western society loves for its heroes to fall. The only thing we love more than celebrities is watching them fall from grace and so that we can string them up (figuratively in the public discourse) like medieval “witches.” For a fairly small, but relevant example, consider the fallout from last year’s revelation of Jonah Lehrer’s plagiarism; Lehrer was excoriated in the media at length, and while popular, he was not wildly famous, and was, for the most part, only plagiarizing himself.
This has become quite a serious post for The Snarkist. In explanation of my tone, I must state that I am a poet, one working to write, publish, and make my way in the literary world we currently have. Ward’s actions insult not only my vocation but also my ethical world view, and in the face of an insult this grave, only grave language comes to me. For Ward’s plagiarism is not simply a theft of words, or of accolades, but an undermining of individuals’ experiences, emotions, and private minds.
Paisley Rekdal, whom I mentioned briefly above, discovered recently that Ward stole one of her poems, “Bats,” a poem that she considers deeply personal, as well as intimately tied to her experience as a woman, which gendered experience Ward flippantly disregarded by changing her speaker from a female to a male before selling the piece as his own. On her blog, Rekdal wrote a cogent “open letter” to Ward, describing her response upon learning he had stolen her words, relaying baldly both her anger and her feeling of violation.
I easily identify with the feelings Rekdal expresses. I recently wrote a poem about my brother, a competitive cyclist, nearly dying in a serious accident that occurred during a race. It’s maybe the most emotionally wrenching poem I’ve ever written. If someone took that poem and passed it off as his or her own work, I cannot articulate the violation I would feel.
For, to steal a poem is not just to steal a work of art, an object made of language, even a piece of cultural capital; it is to steal the emotional and intellectual experience that the actual poet had to endure for the poem to exist. To steal that which is the most private and sacred part of the self: my mind, the world that only I have access to but which I, by writing poems, can represent, in some pale reflection, to others.Claiming my poem about my brother would mean claiming and infringing on the pain, grief, and love it expresses.
Ward did something similar to Paisley Rekdal.
What a recklessly inconsiderate act. What heartless disregard for the humanity of another. What rabid disrespect, placing one’s own gain above the mental and emotional integrity of another person.
Ward’s actions sicken me. You’ll note that, in introducing him above, I placed the characterization “poet” in quotation marks. I cannot bring myself to call him a poet because I believe that poems work to instill empathy in those who read them, such that poets are humanizing the world by allowing readers to experience, as they cannot so fully through any other art form, a different person’s perspective. Of course poetry functions in society in a more complicated manner than this, but I believe a reverence for personal consciousness is located in the very form of the modern lyric poem.
Ward has displayed no such reverence for consciousness. What he does show is disrespect for other artists, as well as an immense arrogance. For his arrogance lays not simply in feeling the right to claim others’ artistic output as his own, but in doing so in a rather blatant manner.
While the purloined poem most mentioned in news articles, Helen Mort’s “The Deer,” does not appear in full text in any official capacity on the web that I could easily locate, the poem can be found on a personal blog in its entirety, in a post dating from January 2011. This is but the third result of a quick Google search, with the first two results currently being articles about Ward’s plagiarism of the poem. Still, Mort’s poem was, we could say, still fairly obscure. We cannot say the same of Rekdal’s poem, however.
The full text of “Bats” exists on Poets.org, as well as on the Michigan Quarterly Review website, VerseDaily.org, and various blogs. These are official, not apocryphal sources. Feed in the title “Bats” and three words from the poem’s opening–I used “unveil,” “jagged,” and “silken”–and the Poets.org link appears as result number one. Yet though a five second Google search could blow his cover, Ward was not deterred in his theft.
The spectacular hubris of taking such an accessible poem and claiming it as your own betrays an interesting aspect of this story: Ward wasn’t particularly careful. Were I to try his “gaining prestige via the theft of someone else’s artistic work” game, I’d at least chose a poem that isn’t laughably easy to Google. Poets.org, VerseDaily.org–these sites aren’t even someone’s transcription of the poem onto a blog with purple text and pictures of cats; these are high-traffic websites. Poets.org is, alongside the Poetry Foundation website, probably the web’s most visible source for poems (at least the most visible source that respects copyright; PoemHunter.com, in addition to being visually gross, seems less than concerned with the legality of online publication).
Is the flagrancy some of the fun, for Ward? Was he lazy? Did he simply think no one checks poems for plagiarism and so he needn’t worry?
Regardless of his motivation, Ward stole, repeatedly and blatantly. To call himself a poet and treat other poets with such disrespect constitutes an ignominy of the basest kind. And Ward’s response to the criticism he has lately faced? He whines about anger displayed toward him, not because some of it features the specific cruelty that internet anonymity allows, but because “[I] don’t deserve it.”
“Deserving” is a funny notion; it seems connected to something like karma. While I may not condone the hateful or violent speech he now finds himself receiving, I will note that Ward is simply experiencing the same disregard for an individual’s dignity and wellbeing that he demonstrated by stealing the emotional experiences and creative works of others.
On his album “Stay Human,” musician and poet Michael Franti asserts, Every single soul is a poem. To that I would reply, And every poem is a soul.
In such a world as ours, why can’t these small things at least–these scraps of words, worth little money and littler fame–be sacred?
January 16, 2013 § 2 Comments
Hello Snarkist readership!
I know I haven’t posted in many months, and while I’ve been meaning to get back to writing this blog, the longer I went without doing so, the more difficult returning seemed. And yet, I have finished a new post just now, which I am about to publish, and I expect that more posts should be appearing in the near future.
This first upcoming post is significantly more serious in tone than my rants here usually are. I began writing about some dickbag doing something really dickbaggy, but I found myself formulating, rather than sarcasm and insults, a more measured logical and emotional response instead.
I hope the post interests you, and you can expect regular snarky Snarkist content to be returning in the ensuing days. But first, a post about this dickbag plagiarist.
And seriously, what a dickbag. A bag full of dicks. Instead of a head, he’s just got a bag filled with penises.
May 29, 2012 § 1 Comment
I recently discovered that I am more afraid of ticks than bears. As FDR said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…and some arachnids.
My mom and aunt came to visit me in Virginia for a week earlier this month, after I finished my first round of grad school finals (Woo hoo! Now my stress is adult!)., and we spent a few days hiking and nature-ing around. One afternoon we were in Shenandoah National Park. We’d already done a fairly strenuous hike (at least to our legs, which were tired from basically climbing a mountain the day before) in the morning/early afternoon, so for our second hike of the day we wanted something short and manageable. Just a few miles. And FLAT.
We ended up on a trail that was less than 2-miles roundtrip–ostensibly very manageable–but that, despite the guidebook’s difficulty rating of “easy,” was all uphill. Through the grass. And weeds. And various other flora. Now, for a while this was quite lovely–tons of bluets and little white flowers and butterflies up the wazoo–until my mom mentioned ticks. She’d read about them in some of our guide literature to the park and another hiker we’d talked to earlier that day had warned her that the area we were in had tons of ticks and that they were particularly prevalent in this type of weather. I don’t know anything about ticks’ weather preferences, but I do know Ew! Ick! Oh my gods get it AWAY from me!!!
Now, I’m not a particularly scaredy person when it comes to bugs. I find silver-fish terrifying for some reason (loved that recent episode of Up All Night that had Maya Rudolph calling Will Arnett, her best friend’s husband, to come kill a silverfish in her house), and I hate things with lots of legs (like centipedes, shudder), but I deal with even these fine. Spiders don’t especially bother me, or I’ve at least learned to be strong because my best friend S is terrified of them and someone needs to get the things out of the house. Also, since the warm weather started, these ants have shown up in my house here in Virginia and these suckers are like half an inch long. Since I’m used to California ants you practically look at through a microscope, the size of these Giant Ant Beings does make them seem like some kind of demon ants, but I still squish them with my bare fingers no problem. Point: I’m not usually too squeamish.
However, I hate anything that bites. Mosquitos $%*&ing love me for some reason; if there are mosquitos out, I will always get bit. If I’m with my family, usually I’ll have as many bites as the three of them combined, or more. It’s like I’m the Bella Swan to these bitches’ Edward Cullen: I’ve never smelled blood like yours in all my liiiiife.
My body is really sensitive, so as soon as an insect bites me, the area around the bite will turn red and swell up and itch like mad, like normal people’s mosquito bites on steroids (remember the whole steroids-gave-Barry-Bonds-bobble-head-proportions thing? Your mosquito bites are a normal head; mine are Barry Bonds’ head, post ‘roids.) After a few days, the swelling will go down and the general redness will darken to a patchy purple that looks like a cross between a bruise and a really strange, abstract tattoo. Recently, I was sitting at a friend’s place with my legs propped up on something when he pointed to my outstretched calf and said, “Oh, you have a birthmark on your leg!” Nope. No I do not. That is a mosquito bite from two days ago; it only looks like there’s a hickey on my leg.
Oh! And when I was like ten I got bit by a bunch of stone flies while I was in Florida on vacation and the bites swelled up so intensely it looked like I had half a softball shoved under my skin every place I’d been bitten. They itched like mad and it was about 100 degrees with approximately 500% humidity, so I was miserable (which probably means my family was miserable too–sorry, family, usually you’re okay as long as you keep me fed). That may be the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve been in more pain, but in terms of pure discomfort–ugh.
Suffice it to say I don’t like to have any kind of biting insect or arachnid anywhere near my skin, and something that fucking burrows into your flesh? When is the next plane/train/bus/camel out of this hellscape?
Also, I had a friend in college who got lyme disease and that shit is no joke. She had to take our sophomore year off and when she came back, she walked with a gorram cane. Stay the fuck away from ticks.
So we’re hiking. Then my mom mentions ticks. I get a little nervous but am distracted by the fact that the trail is still going uphill and only getting more overgrown and this is not what I signed up for. If this is going to be an Amazon-style adventure, I would like to know in advance so that I am emotionally prepared–and armed with a machete. But anyway, ticks are mentioned and it’s like the foreshadowing in a movie: dun dun dunnn!! If this is an arty drama, you know someone is going to die from lyme disease in the next 45 minutes. I don’t want to be that person.
The ominous music ratchets up when my mom notices a tick on my aunt’s pants. My aunt is totally calm (probs cause my mom is freaking out a tad bit) and able to pick the tick off with a stick, but it takes her a minute because the thing is clamped on for dear life–the way it wanted to be clamped onto her flesh. Oh my gods AAAHH!
Cue the footage of me running. I basically ran for the next mile or so.
Luckily we’d finally reached the downhill portion of the trail, and I took that opportunity to run like the wind, Bullseye. Whilst running I also would shake my arms and legs in what looked like the Hokey Pokey crossed with sheer panic. Or maybe some kind of seizure-related spasm. Regardless, I left my mom and aunt to fend for their own damn selves and hightailed it the fuck out of there, not stopping until I reached the ocean of asphalt that made up the rest stop parking lot, where we’d left our car. Praise Jesus. I never knew I could be so grateful to see a football field’s worth of asphalt. Sometimes they pave paradise to get me the fuck away from ticks.
So now I’m in the parking lot. I run to our car, but as my mom had been driving and it was her rental SUV, not my Acura, I didn’t have the keys. Luckily, Mom wasn’t far behind me because I’d started peeling off my clothes for the benefit of some deer and a trucker fueling his semi across the parking lot. She clicked the SUV open and I sat down on the open back, taking off my shoes and socks and rolling my yoga pants up to my thighs, turning everything inside out and feeling all surfaces to check for ticks. I also stripped off my REI fleece hoodie and a long-sleeved Stanford-emblazoned shirt (basically all my clothing that is vaguely workout apparel says Stanford on it somewhere–when I’m going to the gym I feel like an admissions brochure), so that I was standing in my untied hiking boots–newly verified to be tick free–and a sports bra, pants rolled up past my knees. A some point my mom or someone pointed out that there were bathrooms fifty or so yards away–and that there were strangers next to a car not thirty yards away that were staring at me–so I took that opportunity to 1) pee and 2) make sure every last inch of my body was tick-free beyond the prying eyes of truckers and tourists.
Even though I’d checked my every bodily surface, I still felt like things were crawling on me–ick ick ick–but by the time I returned from the bathroom I felt mostly better.
My mom and aunt verified their own tick-free status–in a much more sedate manner–and we got back in the car. We decided to drive the 50 or so miles to the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park, as the sun was going down and we could watch the sunset from various lookouts and just generally scope things out. I was amenable to this idea, especially once separated from the tick-laden grasses and presented with a bag of dried apple slices. Thus, we drove.
We stopped ten minutes or so later to watch the sun sink below the Blue Ridge Mountains, and yeah, it was pretty spectacular. All three of us we in a good mood once we’d recommenced the drive, so long as my aunt stayed away from grasses and foliage when we stopped at overlooks. She’s a birder and is more interested in getting a picture of or getting a good look at some interesting bird than she is in preventing ticks from clinging to her clothes and entering our tick-free-car-sanctuary–or god/dess forbid, my house. If you bring a tick into my house I will end your life. Unless you are a cute dog, in which case I will help get the tick off you with the tweezers and match and whatnot, but I will say “Ew! Ew! Ew!” the whole time and probably wear rubber dishwashing gloves. This is why I need a real rather than imaginary boyfriend (sorry, Darren Criss) or girlfriend (Lindsay…): so someone else can deal with ticks and I don’t have to!
My mom, aunt, and I managed, however, to return to our SUV asylum without bringing any tiny, horrifying passengers with us. After the sun had set, we set off to finish the last stretch of park before we totally lost the light, and after driving for maybe twenty minutes, we saw something a hundred or so yards ahead of us in the road. It was dark and appeared to be an animal, and then holy hellfires it’s a BEAR.
No, it’s two bears! It’s a mama bear and a cub!! OH MY GODS STOP THE CAR!!!
My mom hit the brakes car and we inched toward them, staring agog through the windshield (or at least I was agog, mouth open–potentially with high pitched screeches of “It’s a baby bear!!” emanating from it). As we got closer my aunt recovered her senses a bit and was like, “Sweet fuck, BACK UP!” so my mom did so, eventually turning around, pulling off to the side of the road, and stopping the car. My aunt, apparently having used up all of her good sense in the “Back up!” moment, threw open her side door and jumped out with her camera, quiet-running (you know, when you pick up your feet really quickly and look like cartoon mouse Jerry trying not to wake a sleeping Tom) toward the bears. My mom, excited/panicked, whisper-yelled to her to be careful.
Not one to jump off bridges, I would, however, apparently have to say “Yes” to the question “If all your friends ran toward a bear, would you run too?” because I also jumped out of the car and walked/quiet-ran towards my aunt and the bears.
(We were at least 50 yards from them at our closest. We’re not complete morons. Only partial morons.)
My aunt had climbed a bit up the hill at the side of the road to get a better angle on the bears in hopes of seeing them and taking their picture. At some point in all this we realized that there was a mother and not one but two bear cubs. Hyperventilating with excitement/cuteness overload.
I wanted to see the bears as well as possible, not ever having even glimpsed a bear outside of a zoo, but I also did not want to get mauled/killed/eaten/etc. I knew I shouldn’t get any closer on the road, where the bears still sat, so my only choice was to climb the hill where my aunt was and hope for a better view.
I glanced over at my aunt and saw her standing in knee-high grass snapping photos. Grass = ticks = over my dead body. Evidently I take this last part seriously: since I couldn’t go up the hill, I took a step forward on the road, closer to the bears.
At this point my mom, still manning the car and staying prepared to warn any potential oncoming traffic, whisper-screamed at me, ”Do. Not. Get. Any. Closer. Moron.” (The “moron” was implied.)
My body halted and my brain did a quick reality check: in hopes of getting a better view of some wildlife that could eat me, I was more willing to approach bears than to risk getting a tick on me.
Bear, tick. Bear, tick. Potentially angry mother bear desperate to protect her cubs, tick. Apparently, the answer was ”potentially angry bear” because there was no way I was getting anyway near that grass.
I conceded the backwards-ness of this preference. I backed up. A little. And stared open-jawed a bit more before the bears began to walk down the hill on the opposite side of the road and my mom whisper-screamed at us to get our asses back in the car.
Not a half-hour later we saw another mama bear and baby amongst the trees and brush at the roadside. Though we turned the car around once again to get a better look, this time we watched from the (relative) safety of our SUV.
Come to think of it, the SUV was probably a safer bet all along. Faced with plastic and metal and doors, those ticks didn’t stand a chance. They may have pinchers that grab on like a motherfucker, but they don’t have any opposable thumbs.
April 26, 2012 § 1 Comment
In the spirit of my last post advocating enthusiasm, I am going to dedicate this post to things I am crazy enthusiastic about. You could say that I am disproportionately excited about Disneyland and toast, but I say taste this toast and tell me it doesn’t taste like pure joy.
1. Lindsey Pavao tweeting my blog post about her!
Last week, I gushed about my crush on The Voice contestant Lindsey Pavao, and when she found out about my blog post (probably through her boyfriend, who is friend’s with my brother J and commented about the post on J’s Facebook wall), rather than filing a restraining order or hiring ninja body guards (regular body guards are so 1992),
she tweeted it to her gajillion Twitter followers along with a sweet note. Nearly 5000 people read my blog that day. I’d like to say that kind of traffic is normal, but I’d also like to say I’m dating Evan Rachel Wood, it’s just that she doesn’t know it yet — so no, not really. Thanks, Lindsey! Such a classy lady. Also, how hot is this picture?
Must. Buy. Dark. Lipstick.
I really love toast. “But it’s just burned bread!” Sure, the way diamonds are just compressed carbon.
If made correctly, toast is crunchy on the outside, moist and bready on the inside, and covered in delicious, delicious butter (or your preferred butter substitute — I’m a fan of Smart Balance myself).
My brother, a competitive cyclist, used to have exercise-induced asthma, which was a serious problem when he was biking up mountains. He discovered, however, that he was gluten-intolerant, and when he cut gluten out of his diet: poof! no asthma. Since then, I’ve tried eliminating gluten from my diet, and even though my mom and brother felt that doing so had profoundly advantageous physical effects, I didn’t really notice a difference. I did, however, become aware of how much wheat was in my diet, so I decided to cut down just in favor of nutritional diversity. But there was no way I was giving up my toast, and luckily, brown rice bread came to the rescue. It makes amazing toast.
Rice bread isn’t great for sandwiches or generally eating it plain — it’s really dense and a bit sweet — but it makes damn good toast. The inside is so soft and sweet that the butter provides a wonderful salty contrast. (I’ve gotten fairly simple tastes when it comes to toast: I don’t need jam or marmalade or Nutella — I can’t buy Nutella; I will just eat globs of it from the jar — just a good glazing of butter, but don’t skimp now. Dry toast with just a tiny scrape of butter is so pitiful.)
Once, when I was in high school, I had a toast-related trauma. I was on my period, and in those days I had mad hormonal mood swings as part of my PMS, so my ability to handle disappointment was almost non-existent. One weekend day, I woke up sick with cramps and all I wanted was to make some toast and lie on the couch watching TV. I walked into our family room and saw my dad and brother watching a soccer game on the television, and when I turned to the kitchen, there was no toaster oven. It had burned up the previous week — caught on fire and everything! during dinner! it was rather exciting — and my dad and brother were supposed to buy another one while my mom and I were out of town visiting colleges. They clearly had not replaced the toaster. I looked at them on the couch, then at the empty countertop where the toaster oven used to be, and turned on my heel and walked back down the hall, all the way into the bathroom, at which point I stood with my forehead against the wall and cried quietly. My mom found me like that a few minutes later and was basically like “wtf.” She made me take a bath and managed to make me toast in our oven. My mother is wonderful.
3. Oh yeah: THE HUNGER GAMES!!!
I know you’re tired of hearing about The Hunger Games — they’re all over every form of media — but that’s too bad. Pipe down — I’m even more crazy enthusiastic about this one.
I love these books. I was really surprised how into them I got. I basically sobbed my way through the second and third ones; I was terrified my favorite characters were going to die, which, considering the high body count in these things, was quite likely. I fell in love with Katniss, who has been touted as a refreshingly feminist heroine, which I think she is, but not just because of her survival skills, talent with a bow and arrow, and her defiance. She is also a deeply emotional creature and spends significant portions of the second and third books basically catatonic because the people she loves keep being killed and kidnapped and tortured all around her. Katniss can be strong by masculine standards while retaining the emotional qualities that society traditional labels “feminine.” Peeta’s main strengths, similarly, are his compassion and emotional intelligence — again, “feminine” attributes — though he’s not exactly a wimp with a weapon, either. In addition to giving Katniss two very different choices of lover, Gale and Peeta also present two complicated and contrasting options for what it means to be masculine. (Kelsey Wallace has a great meditation on this over at Bitch Magazine online.)
Apart from the gender dynamics, though, and the extensive social commentary that I’m not going to get into right now, The Hunger Games books are awesome because you cannot put them down. Plot gets a lot of shit in the literary scene for being literature’s baser element, a sort of necessary evil, but the phenomenon that The Hunger Games has become is a helpful reminder of the power of plot. Stories entrance, compel, and change us as human beings, so you can scoff at The Hunger Games and pick up your copy of Gravity’s Rainbow instead, but there’s something about the visceral experience of narrative that should be valued just as much as a heightened aesthetic experience.
Now, as for the film franchise, I thought the movie was generally very successful, though I thought it took out a lot of the political commentary that is in the book and that the filmmakers botched a few important moments (as well as cutting out some of my favorite moments from the book — Katniss shouting “Peeta!” from the tree and then clapping her hands over her mouth? That moment is gold!). Maybe it’s a function of the PG-13 rating and the studio’s need to market to young teenagers, but the movie is basically Hunger Games Light, less violent, less complex, with less drastic consequences for the characters. In the novel, Katniss is really beat up at the end of the Games and Peeta is literally seconds away from death — he ends up having his leg amputated and the doctors that rescue him and Katniss from the arena have to restart his heart, twice — while in the film they’re just dirty with a couple of bruises and small cuts. Still, the movie was quite an accomplishment in terms of its faithfulness to the books’ significance and tone; I’m not sure if even the final Harry Potter movies felt as in step with their source material as The Hunger Games film.
Bottom line: I LOVE IT.
4. Faux fur’s becoming popular!
Since I love animals so desperately, I can’t handle real fur. I discovered yesterday, reading an interview with him in GQ, that Drake has a $5000 arctic fox fur bomber jacket. No. Not okay. Little foxes!! Suffice it to say I now like Drake less. I was never in love with him like some people, but I will not forgive this fox thing. Foxes are my spirit animal.
But while real fur is super not okay, in my opinion, I still love soft things. I especially love when my clothing is really soft. I never thought I’d be into faux fur — it always seemed so gaudy; also, Gotti — but this past season’s batch of higher quality acrylic stuff, as well as my changing fashion sense and decision that my clothing isn’t weird enough (seriously: I sometimes stand in front of my mirror and think, “This outfit isn’t weird enough”) but I’ve come to be a sucker for faux fur. It’s fuzzy! If I can pet my clothing, I’m on board.
5. Water (specifically, drinking it) !
I love water in general: the ocean, rain, rivers, lakes — I go apeshit for that stuff. In my daily life, though, water is most important as something that I consume in large quantities. I drink more water than anyone I’ve ever encountered, with the possible exception of my mother.
One time, in college, I was in a professor’s office at around 10 am, carrying my usual Nalgene, which holds something like 36 ounces. Since this was my first appointment of the day, it was full. My professor gestured to it and said, “Are you really going to drink all that?” When I replied in the affirmative, she was impressed. “I never drink enough water. I consume so much coffee.” I nodded in understanding and we launched into the discussion I’d come to have. During our half hour conference, I emptied my Nalgene of about 30 of my 36 ounces.
I’m the person that the busboy has to come back to every five minutes because my water-glass is empty again. I get really excited if a waiter/waitress leaves a pitcher of water on my table in a restaurant, and I’ll frequent any establishment that has a water cooler or a soda fountain where I can refill my water bottle.
I love water. It’s delicious and it makes my body run better and it doesn’t have any calories and it gives me something to do during awkward pauses in class.
Gossip Girl is trashy and ridiculous, filled with improbable events and characters that I find abhorrent. And yet, it’s also awesome. Anything that involves Chuck or Blair is entertaining. Case in point: consider Dan Humphrey. He’s so annoying a friend and I once had a “Who is more annoying, Dan Humphrey or Finn Hudson” conversation, and we basically came to an impasse because both of them so desperately need someone to shake them by the shoulders and yell, “What is wrong with you? You’re living in a dream world!” I find Dan Humphrey so distasteful that I didn’t realize I find Penn Badgley (the actor who plays Dan) attractive until I saw him opposite Emma Stone in Easy A (stellar movie, btw — so erudite; also, Stanley Tucci). Watching Badgley as Woodchuck Todd in Easy A (you must see this film if you haven’t already), I realized he’s actually pretty cute. And not irrevocably obnoxious. It’s just his character on GG that I find so repellant. And yet, now that Dan is dating Blair, I find him and plot points involving him amusing. Although even Blair can’t save his hair. It looks like a marmot died on his head.
Blair’s redemptive powers are great. She’s a fierce woman with unapologetic ambition and no patience for other people’s bullshit. Also, a gold Burberry Prorsum trench coat.
The writers have included some things in the last few episodes that I think totally betray Blair as a character, but these infractions aside, you can always count on Blair to have a witty barb, an inventive scheme, and truly excellent designer clothes. Unlike Serena, who, in addition to continually setting new records of cluelessness and entitled indignation, dresses like a trashy sixteen-year-old who shops at Forever 21 and Wet Seal and Bebe:
and then she turns around and thinks a lace-edged romper and a sequined vest are acceptable sleep apparel:
As for Chuck Bass, earlier this season he referred to USA Today as “the newspaper for people who can’t read” and he recently adopted a dog that he named Monkey. Also, actor Ed Westwick has perfected a deep voice full of both disdain and apathy that implicitly says, “Serena, I can’t believe I’m in having another conversation about how you’re still in love with Humphrey — after five years! I have a billion dollars. I could be doing literally anything else. If you weren’t Blair’s best friend, I guarantee you’d have ‘mysteriously disappeared’ long ago.”
That, my friends, is a hooded red onesie. I rest my case.
Nate should be embarrassed by how normal his workout clothes are. Embarrassed.
When I see a dog in public, I have to concentrate on utilizing all my self-control in order not to run up to it and hug it. “That is someone else’s dog. She will be freaked out if you scream and sprint toward her and then start hugging it.”
I can barely help myself. I just fucking love dogs!!
I can be a cynical person. I think that the US Government is, in the worst case scenario, evil, and in the best case scenario, spectacularly incompetent. I don’t trust corporations and the all-pervasive consumerism of our country makes me very uncomfortable. HOWEVER, I love Disneyland. I love it. I realize that Disney is a multinational corporation that is doing tons of stuff I don’t agree with and that even their that movies I love from my childhood perpetuate harmful racial and gender stereotypes, but I just don’t care. Outside Disneyland, sure, these things are a problem, but inside those gates, I’m at The Happiest Place on Earth, and I plan on having the best fucking time possible.
I went to Disneyland with my two best friends to celebrate my 19th birthday, and my best guy friend, S, does not revere Disneyland in the way I do. I think he’d only previously been there once, as like a seven-year-old, and he thought we were going to approach our time in Walt’s fantasy kingdom with the same sarcasm cynicism that we apply to so many other things in life, but he was so wrong. Right after we’d entered the park, he made some comment that was not vehemently pro-Disneyland, and I almost ate his face.
“I have basically no areas in my life in which I have maintained my childlike sense of wonder. I enjoy lots of things, but it’s really hard for me to do so unreservedly, to open myself up to the untempered joy of an experience. Disneyland is basically the one place that makes me feel childlike rapturous wonder and if you take that from me I will end your life.”
Suffice it to say, S was amenably positive for the rest of the day.
Now, don’t even get me started on the glories of Disney World…
9. THE OLYMPICS!!!
THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING AHHHH!!!
Generally, I’m not a huge sports person. The friends who’ve seen me at Stanford football games can attest to the fact that when I do focus on a sport, though, I get really fucking into it. Screaming, swearing, gesticulating wildly — and soccer matches are possibly even worse.
The Olympics are pretty much my favorite thing ever. Not Olympics time? Sports — eh. Olympics time? Oh my gods what is on is that curling I must watch it!
In my mind, Olympics are the ultimate competition and winning an Olympic medal the highest honor an athlete can attain. Of course, in certain sports (mostly uber-popular team sports), other championships might take precedent in terms of prestige, such as the World Cup for soccer, but in my mind, when I’m watching the Olympics, this moment is the most important moment in this person’s career, period. That’s what gets me screaming at a biathlon with people shooting on skis in the snowy wilderness, what gets me crying about some diver and her arduous journey to get here.
The Olympics are a perpetual waterworks for me. Put on almost any medals ceremony and I’ll just burst out in tears.
I love it. I love Bob Costas, I love the video bios for the athletes, I love the special NBC Olympics music. I love seeing athletes whose careers I’ve followed compete. I love rooting with my whole heart for someone I just found out existed twenty minutes ago. I love watching sports I normally don’t give the time of day. Mostly, I love the emotionality of it — the joy, the agony, the disappointment, the triumph. I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT.
When do the Olympics start again? July 27? Bomb. GET READY PEOPLE!! LONDON 2012!!!!
April 19, 2012 § 15 Comments
So I was planning on publishing like five blog posts when I published those last two, and then I realized that they’d all be about The Voice, because apparently I have a lot of things to say about The Voice, like really a lot. So I decided to sketch those posts out and save them for after I’d written some non-Voice-related posts…except that that second part never happened. All week I thought about nifty things I could be writing for the amusement of all my (imaginary) followers and the proceeded not to write a single one of these things.
So you’re getting another post on The Voice. And because 65% of the entries on this blog end up being about people that I think are sexy — regardless of what my intended topic is in beginning the post — you’re getting also getting another “Look at this person I find attractive! LOOK!” entry. This one departs a little from my norm, though, in that it features a lady person. So straight men, lesbians, and other lady-lovers, congratulations! Sexy chick: ahoy!
But first I’m going to make you sit through some gushing about Adam Levine because, come on, his sweaters?! Adorbs.
In case you’re not sure who Adam Levine is, he’s one of the “coaches” on The Voice, and he’s the lead singer of Maroon 5, that band whose songs sound like sex. If you haven’t listened to one of their records all the way through (because midway you and your partner got…distracted) you might be familiar with some singles like “She Will Be Loved,” “Harder to Breathe,” “Makes Me Wonder,” and that mental parasite “Moves Like Jagger” (that song’s a catchy ringworm that squeezes its way into your brain).
I’ve always liked Maroon 5. Yes, with varying degrees of shame, I’ve always liked them. Maroon 5′s songs are catchy pop-rock with a sensual funk/jazz flavor, and their lyrics mix actually interesting figurative language (“The sex she slipped into my coffee”) with the straightforward: “It really makes me wonder if I ever gave a fuck about you.” Okay, so the latter is more common, but come on — that coffee line is pretty good stuff.
So while I’ve liked the band, my feelings about Adam Levine specifically have been a bit mixed. On the one hand, he writes sexy songs and looks like this:
On the other, he always seemed a bit sleazy to me — the kind of guy my friends and I might describe as an “STD grab-bag,” who not only knows what “manscaping” is but participates in it (photo above says “yes”). So I was always vaguely attracted to him, but I resented being attracted to him and felt like I had somehow gotten oil all over my body any time I thought of him.
But then I started watching The Voice and Adam began his campaign to win me over, which he did by being incredibly invested in the singers in the competition (especially but not only the ones he’s coaching), making jokes with Blake Shelton about how the two of them are in love, and wearing adorable sweaters.
And then hiding behind said adorable sweater when he doesn’t want to be mean and send someone home.
He’s such a shy little bunny!
Also, that above photo where he’s nude is an awareness ad for testicular cancer, and the hands belong to his (now ex) girlfriend, model Anne LongRussianName, so even that is now less vaguely unsettling.
But anyway, Adam — sextastic as I’ve come to think he is, what with his sweaters and his posing for Out magazine and his pro-queer rhetoric and his feminist-y comments to the media — is not the crush I’ve come here to talk about. I’m here to discuss Lindsey Pavao.
Lindsey is one of the contestants on The Voice this season and, in my opinion, one of the best ones. For her audition, she performed a cover of the Trey Songz tune “Say Aah,” which she had arranged herself and which essentially remade the song entirely, turning the beat-heavy hiphop song into The Weeknd meets Lily Allen meets the Antlers.
This has the audio for the full song and I think it’s worth a listen. I like this a lot better than the original.
At the time, Cee-Lo called Lindsey’s audition the most interesting thing to happen on the season so far. Since then, Lindsey trounced her Battle Round opponent on their duet of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” then two weeks ago gave an invigoratingly creepy performance of Gotye’s definitively excellent “Somebody that I Used to Know.”
Now that the live shows have arrived, the production value has risen exponentially. Instead of throwing the contestants onstage with some basic lighting changes that Kyle, the 10th grader who does the lights for the school musical, could pull off, Lindsey and the others now get fully choreographed routines complete with a half dozen to a dozen dancers (for one female performer, they were half-naked men, to Blake’s confusion/distraction), complex lighting effects, smoke, and help from wardrobe.
While I appreciate what they’re trying to do, I also think that producing each song likes it’s the VMAs sometimes distracts from the actual contestant singing and other times makes a nervous, inexperienced performer look very out of place amongst so many professionals. Sometimes, however, that VMAness works in tandem with the singer to elevate the song to an experience. That’s how Lindsey’s performance of “Somebody that I Used to Know” went that Monday night. When the music began, viewers couldn’t pick her out onstage amongst a crowd of dancers wearing creepy mime masks. Then Lindsey leaned out from their midst, totally in command, and her voice slid into the song with a spooky airiness and her signature slightly ragged tone. My poet side wants to say her voice “slunk” into the song, like a cat (that may or may not be an animagus and thus magical) slinks into a room. Lindsey has a slinking quality about her. In a good way.
After emerging from the line of terrifying mime-corpses, she then proceeded to own the gorram stage. That woman has presence. There’s a shyness to her that emanates as an enigmatic quality, and it only makes her more magnetic. Even after the performance, when the coaches were commenting and Adam noted that he liked it overall but wanted her to really blow it out more on the chorus, she just stood with her gaze slightly lowered, head tucked into her shoulder a bit, with this small smile that said she was totally in control and not at all bothered by the criticism of the smoking-hot Grammy winner 15 feet in front of her. (That I could be so composed; I run into furniture, counters, and doorhandles on a daily basis. I know they’re there, that knowledge simply doesn’t alter my course.)
Yes, her voice is beautiful — both strange and lovely — but Lindsey also has something else, call it what you will: “command,” “charisma,” “the ‘it’ factor.” And aiding her in cultivating this magnetism is the fact that she is damn sexy.
Really, really sexy.
There’s actually another part to the Lindsey story for me, in which I wanted her to do well even before I saw her audition or heard her voice: my brother knows her. My younger brother J currently attends the University of California, Davis, from which Lindsey just recently graduated. She happens to be dating one of J’s friends.
The first time J mentioned her was about 9 months ago and our conversation had nothing to do with The Voice, or singing. We were talking about how my brother is attracted to girls with short hair, like pixie cut short, and he said that the girls he thinks are really hot his friends often don’t quite get. As an example, he then mentioned a girl from Davis who had one half of her head shaved with the other half of her hair long; J and his roommate K both thought this girl was super hot, which their other friends found weird. There’s no accounting for (bad) taste, other friends.
I remembered that conversation because it isn’t every day you hear about a girl with half her head shaved — especially if this is somehow a good look. When it came up that a girl J knew was going to be on The Voice, he mentioned to me that this singer happened to have half her head shaved, I think so that I would be able to recognize her easily, but I immediately said, “Oh! The hot one?” to which he (vaguely surprised) replied in the affirmative.
I was excited. I was going to get to see the hot girl with the half-shaved head! Then Lindsey appeared on my computer monitor.
Hot damn. I did not realize what I was in for.
So yes, Lindsey shows up and she is FOXY. Oh yeah, and she went to UC Davis, so she’s obviously not a moron. And then it turns out she has a great voice and is actually an interesting artist? Aaaand then it turns out I have a crush on her.
Lindsey is hot. Really hot. It’s absurd how hot she is. Even more absurd than my being attracted to the same girl as my younger brother. (It’s going to be super awkward when he reads this blog post, isn’t it? Hi, J! Sorry about the awkward…)
(Side bar: I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog recently talking about men I find attractive, so it’s possible regular readers have assumed I’m straight. Meh, not quite.
I identify as pansexual (any time I say that I get blank stares), which basically means bi, except that I hate the term bisexual because it 1) perpetuates the notion that there are only two sexes and thus ignores the existence of trans and genderqueer people, and 2) in its reference to duality implies that the bisexual person is attracted to men and women equally, when I don’t think most people are. I’m certainly not.
I mostly subscribe to the Kinsey Scale notion of sexuality, which suggests that sexuality is a spectrum, not two poles of “gay” and “straight.” Some people may be “totally straight” or “totally gay” in that they are attracted to only one sex 100% of the time, but some people might be 80% attracted to women and 20% attracted to men. Trying to quantify it like that only works as an example; actual attraction is clearly not as simple as percentages. Kinsey tries to approximate this division of attraction with a scale beginning at 0 (stone cold hetero) and ending at 6 (flaming queer), but I think you catch my drift. I slide toward the heterosexual end of the scale; I’m primarily attracted to men. Primarily, but not always. Like in Lindsey’s case. End of explanation/lecture.)
This is why not in Lindsey’s case:
So to recap: Lindsey has a really cool, strange, vaguely creepy singing voice, which I adore, that is also super sexy, which I am totally on board with.
After her audition, Lindsey disappeared from my TV until her Battle duet/sing-off with some guy I’ve already forgotten. They covered Nirvana’s “Heart-shaped Box” (Lindsey covered it in sexy; random dude covered it in blah — yay puns!)
During the video coverage for her Battle, Lindsey sang well, liked Nirvana, made pretty interesting comments (considering the bank of cliches contestants seem to pull from when they’re talking on shows like this), and was generally adorable. Oh yeah, and her hair looked awesome during rehearsal.
I just love her braid-bun hairdo here — I think it’s gorgeous; I wish I ever did anything that interesting with my hair. Until I was 15, I didn’t even wear it in a ponytail, I just wore it down. All the time. All the time. (It was long, it hid my face, I had self-esteem issues, moving on.) The one confusing thing about being attracted to people of your own sex is that sometimes you can’t figure out if you are more attracted to them or jealous of them. It’s a mind-bamboozling rush of “Ah! I want to look like you!” and “Ah! I want to kiss you!” Not for the faint of heart…
So, as for the Battle: Lindsey did a fine job with Nirvana, securing her place in the live shows and returning my heart rate to normal, and then for the first live show week she sang “Somebody that I Used to Know” by Gotye, which I think is a great song on its own. Add Lindsey and it’s like putting chocolate on my pretzels: sweet and salty and ohmygosh delicious! (Now I’m hungry…) Gotye’s original version is great, and his music video is pretty interesting too.
So anyway, Lindsey sings Gotye, and she wears this:
She stomps around the stage being badass and having a sick voice and generally looking hot as all hell. My parents told me later they thought she had the best performance of the night; I thought that she definitely had one of the best performances and at the very least looked hotter than everyone else. Even Adam. And have you seen Adam?
Mmm. But still, during the live show Adam wasn’t wearing his sweater, and the fierce singer with the sharp grey eyes captured my attention.
Then, this past Monday, The Voice quarterfinals aired. Lindsey sang Katy Perry’s “Piece of Me” (thing I just learned: I don’t know how to spell Katy Perry’s name, which I feel sort of proud about) and was generally badass, although the song is a bit “eh” in my opinion.
Oh yeah, and she looked awesome. Her costumes are pretty much just better than the stuff the other contestants wear.
Because The Voice is all about my not getting bored, they had a surprise instant elimination at the end of Monday’s show in which each coach who’d had singers perform had to eliminate one of their team members on the spot. Brutal. Fast moving. The excellent opposite of Idol’s dragging-on-forever-how-is-that-person-still-here (non-)eliminations. Point for The Voice.
Christina Aguilera is Lindsey’s coach and I was really afraid she’d send Lindsey home because the other three performers on her team are very showy — big, big voices. There’s opera singer Chris Mann (whom I actually quite like), middle-aged soulful singer Jesse Campbell (who is technically very good but who just doesn’t excite me), and pop-princess wannabe Ashley DellaRosa or something like that (who has a good voice but whom I just find bo-ring. She sounds like every other pop diva on the radio, only with less personality — though she has been improving lately.) To the shock of people who actually give a shit about this show, Christina eliminated Jesse Campbell, who these giving-a-shit people, including the other coaches, had dubbed a frontrunner. Whatever, Lindsey was safe!
Then the live eliminations of Tuesday rolled around. Each coach had three singers. America voted (like on Idol) and the singer from each team with the most votes was safe, while the other two had a “last chance” to sing for their coach, at which point the coach would save one and send one home.
Opera man Mann did a mostly entertaining if not terribly interesting Coldplay cover on Monday night, which America apparently liked because he got the most votes, leaving Lindsey and her quiet weirdness to battle the pop belter.
Ashley Pop Singer sang an engaging if predictable version of Gaga’s “You and I,” while Lindsey followed with a performance of Mike Posner’s “Please Don’t Go,” which was at turns quiet, sly, powerful, desperate, and just generally fucking moving (can you tell I’m getting into this?). Though she managed to finish with some lovely final notes, Lindsey was in tears by the end, and so was I. And so was her coach, Christina.
A few agonizing minutes later, Christina restarted my heart by announcing that she was saving Lindsey and sending Ashley home. I cried. Then I cheered. In my living room, alone.
So here’s the moral of this rather meandering story: Lindsey Pavao is talented and also a FOX, so you should support her on The Voice (though it is not on FOX, but rather NBC, to clarify) because apparently I care a lot more about this show than I thought I did, since I was in tears watching her perform/when I thought she was going to be eliminated.
Next week Adam and Cee Lo’s teams are competing, so Lindsey and the rest of Team Xtina (and Team Blake) get a reprieve, but in two weeks, it’s the semifinals. Help me keep my heart rate manageable: vote for Lindsey. You can vote on Facebook. You don’t even need to use one of those old-fashioned “telephone” things. Hell, you don’t even need to watch the show. On Monday April 30, after 10 pm (but before 10 am on May 1), just go to The Voice’s Facebook page and click to vote for Lindsey like 10 times. It’s easy, it’ll help my mental health, and let’s be honest, you’ll be on Facebook anyway.
And according to my brother/the imaginary friendship with her I’ve created in my head, Lindsey is a pretty cool person in real life. Plus, how can you resist this face?
April 4, 2012 § 4 Comments
I recently started watching The Voice on NBC. Or rather, on Hulu, but they tell me it’s made by NBC. This is the televised singing competition judged by Christina Aguilera, the guy from Maroon 5, some handsome country singer, and That Guy Wearing a Cape.
To elaborate, from left to right, we have:
1) Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, known for his sex-heavy lyrics, his tattoos, and those Adult ADD commercials he’s doing now
2) Christiana “I was totes on the Mickey Mouse Club with Britney and JT and Baby Goose before I became a superstar” Aguilera
3) Cee-Lo Green, half of Gnarls Barkley and the slick pipes and sharp wit behind the best breakup song of all time, “Fuck You” (on the coaches’ voice-over intros on The Voice, Carson Daly refers to this song as “Forget You” – the title of the radio-friendly censored/neutered version that basically destroys the song. When Gwyneth Paltrow sang “Forget You” on Glee, I wanted to punch her in the mouth even more than I normally want to punch her in the mouth.)
4) Blake Shelton, apparently a super famous country singer who is married to another super famous country singer
“But isn’t The Voice just a rip-off of American Idol?” you ask, from which the follow-up question for people who know me is “Why are you watching it?!” Often people say this because they know I hate American Idol. Sometimes they say this because they think television other than Mad Men is a waste of time (I watch Mad Men, too!) or they think anything that needs electricity to run is inherently abhorrent (I have a poet friend who is a fairly hard-core luddite, and super pretentious about it, too, which is obviously the best part…there are downsides to having super arty friends.)
And yes, I hate American Idol. Why are they still searching for the next American Idol when they already found him? (I heart you Adam Lambert.) But yeah, watching American Idol makes me feel physically ill (true story). It’s basically a televised celebration of mediocrity, judged by the astonishingly dull (and Steven Tyler). Seriously, Randy Jackson is so predictable that they could put a giant brown teddy bear in his seat and play a recording of him saying, “I dunno, I wasn’t really feelin’ it dawg,” and no one would notice the difference.
Unlike that Neilsen juggernaut, however, The Voice doesn’t actually have “judges,” it has “coaches.” This is actually a significant difference because each of the four coaches personally chooses singers for her/his team and then works with them each week, setting up each contestant to battle the singers from the other coaches’ teams. Or that’s what eventually happens. First, there is a series of “Battle Rounds” in which two members from a given team sing a duet, then their coach chooses the singer he/she prefers and sends the other one home.
That’s one of the great things about this show: they’re always getting rid of people left and right. Sweet; I’m not interested in the average performers. During each of the four weeks of “battles,” half the singers go home, and then during the initial “live shows,” viewers vote (like on Idol) to keep half the singers, while each judge can save one remaining person from being kicked off the show (so to tally, that ultimately means that a third of the people go home from each of these live shows).
I know. That was confusing. That’s one thing about The Voice: it’s not dull because nearly every week they change how people get kicked off/kept, so you’re too busy trying to keep up with the gorram rules to get too bored. After the initial audition weeks in which the coaches pick their teams, the show progresses as follows:
Battles (4 weeks): 6 out of 12 singers kept each week
Initial live shows (2 weeks): 8 out of 12 kept each week
More live shows: unspecified number go home each week
Thus, over the course of six weeks, they go from 48 performers to 16. Mitt Romney would be excited by that rate of dismissals. After they’ve whittled the pool down to 16, I’m not sure how many people they’ll let go each week because I just started watching this shit and I’m just happy to have understood the rules up to this point, but eventually someone wins, and that person’s coach gets bragging rights through the next season, while all the other coaches get the right to whine about the winning coach’s bragging rights.
Each of these coaches brings his or her own flair to the show — and I’m talking flair, not the personas American Idol judges have, like “The Mean One,” “The Female One, i.e. The Nice One,” or “Steven Tyler.” I mean, Steven’s fun, what with his outfits that look like he found them in a dumpster in 1978, but The Voice has more than one sartorially entertaining celeb.
Christina dresses like Wet Seal and Bebe threw up,
wears rhinestoned cocktail coasters on her head,
treats her breasts like flotation devices that won’t work if they aren’t exposed to air,
and appears to live in Barbie’s Dream House,
complete with a Diva Throne.
But while Xtina has some crack-tacular outfits, Cee-Lo isn’t satisfied with her brand of trashy glamour. He goes for full-on Spectacle.
He wears pink satin pajama suits during the day for his important meetings and rehearsals, the same way other people wear, you know, suits.
He wears what seems to be the red sequined version of the above ensemble for performing with the other coaches…
…and in celebration of the first live show, he wore a wig and whatever else this is:
Look at the sleeves!
That is some intense fringe. I adore this man.
The biggest star on The Voice, however — other than Christina’s breasts — is a furry companion of Cee-Lo’s.
This is Purrfect the cat (no, I am not shitting you; that is the cat’s actual name). Cee-Lo brings him/her out for all of his chats with the camera, stroking the cat Dr. Evil-style. Or to be more historically correct, Blowfeld-style. (I deeply impressed a professor of mine a few weeks ago when I immediately and easily answered his question about what character Dr. Evil is parodying. I was raised on James Bond; my dad is so proud right now.)
While Cee-Lo and Christina are metaphorical disco balls, Blake Shelton spends his time wearing vaguely Western-looking shirts, saying “y’all,” making wisecracks, and being sweet to the contestants, while Adam Levine waits for the female portion of the audience to stop screaming every time he talks and then similarly makes wisecracks and says sweet things to the contestants, only while wearing more rocker-ish ensembles and without saying “y’all.” Adam and Christina also bicker like children. Children that want to do each other. Anyway…
I failed to mention earlier that the coaches choose their team members through the Blind Auditions, so called because singers preform onstage while the coaches’ backs are turned, and if a coach likes what she/he hears and wants that person on his/her team, the coach pushes a button and the chair turns around to face the performer. If only one coach turns around, the singer automatically joins that coach’s team, but if more than one chair turns, the contestant gets to choose which coach they want to work with.
The Blind Auditions’ force the coaches to judge based on voice rather than looks whether they like it or not (this doesn’t last, though; image comes into play later when the contestants are competing against each other, though that seems fair to me since music is a business, and the audience at a concert doesn’t watch with their eyes closed). Partly due to this limiting of first impressions to voice alone rather than voice plus appearance, along with each of the coaches’ having a distinct individual style, The Voice is populated by singers much more varied, unique, and even strange than the regular cast of Idol characters. Opera singer Chris Mann is learning to adapt his killer chops to other genres, while contestants like Charlotte Sometimes, Erin Martin, and Lindsey Pavao have weird and wonderful voices that actual sound unusual.
So despite the fact that it’s hosted by life-size plastic doll Carson Daly — who would give white bread a run for its money in a Contest for the Exceedingly Dull — I’ve found The Voice to be an entertaining, quirky show that features singers with actually interesting talent and coaches with idiosyncrasies galore.
The Voice: like American Idol, only interesting.