The Case for Enthusiasm

April 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

If you read this site, you’ll already be aware of the fact that I’m a pretty sarcastic person. I’ve been known to say that my mother tongue is sarcasm, but that’s not quite true — it’s my father tongue. My mother is generally quite positive.

I am also fairly critical, a skeptic, and I definitely sometimes yield to the temptation to be elitist with regards to art and entertainment — Mumford and Sons? Really? — but I am also a sucker for enthusiasm.

How I feel about the Olympics/Disneyland/a new Toni Morrison novel/insert thing I love here

The two worlds I spend most of my time in are academia and the art world, and I’m constantly surrounded by people hating on everything. It gets tiring. Wow, you don’t like Sylvia Plath, congratulations on your discerning taste, jackass. While academia certainly has a canon that it’s acceptable to worship/you’re expected to worship, academics can also fall prey to the hipster ethos of “the more obscure it is, the better it is” (unless it’s written by a woman: then it’s “chick lit”— or possibly young adult lit — and unworthy of serious discussion). And while artists love geeking out with each other over shared love of a certain writer/painter/musician, they also love hating on anyone whose work becomes successful. Just ask any young poet about the Dickman brothers: it’s a love them or hate them thing, and bitches will throw down.

Did you just say All American Poem was a shitty first book?

John Lithgow knows what's up. (Also, these gif Tumblrs are all over my Facebook feed recently, so you're getting some gifs today.)

But really, I’m so bored with all this hating. A few weeks ago, The Awl published a piece in which they’d asked a number of editors of literary magazines, as well as some contemporary writers, to name books or authors that they’d loved in the past and are now ashamed to think about. Quite a few mentioned Ayn Rand (duh), since many writerly and intellectual types go through an infatuation with her — she particularly appeals to the individualistic mindset of the teenage years. Now, while the woman’s philosophy was batshit insane, I think the fact that thousands of teenagers read her massive novels (Atlas Shrugged is a brick: the thing’s like 1200 pages — imagine a high schooler choosing to read a 1200-page novel) and feel galvanized by them is a sign that she has a certain kind of talent.

The Beats were another oft-repeated example of books people used to love but now are embarrassed to have cared so much about. The Beats are an easy target, and I think it’s kind of lazy to say you hate them. It’s like saying you hate Nickelback: you don’t have to provide any reasons, everyone just nods along. Of course, Nickelback makes me want to drive my face through the wall, and I think their lead singer is impressively unattractive, but still, hating them isn’t very original. It’s the same with the Beats: you can say they’re simplistic and self-indulgent and overly grandiose, and everyone will just go with it. Even though what’s really simplistic and self-indulgent is regarding this passionately inventive and massively influential group of writers as somehow insufficiently literary, but whatever — have fun at your Douche Convention! (I will defend Alan Ginsberg to my grave. “America” is one of my favorite poems of all time.)

Apparently the lead singer of Nickelback is named Chad Kroeger. I'm sorry, Chad, but you are one creepy-looking mofo.

The part of The Awl article that really bothered me, though, was Edmund White’s comments on Virginia Woolf. What he said:

My reaction:

Well fuck you very much. You cannot tell me that reading Mrs. Dalloway isn’t a journey for your very soul, or that Orlando isn’t a tour de goddamn force. (Also, thanks for writing off basically the only female modernist anyone takes seriously — sorry, Djuna Barnes, but almost no one remembers you, even though you’re a genius — or rather, one of the only female novelists period that people are willing to accept as truly great, because she can keep up with people like Faulkner and Joyce, which she fucking does, by the way.)

Now, Mr. White teaches at Princeton, so I’m sure he feels entitled to belittle anything he damn well pleases. And that’s his (annoying) prerogative, but I’m really tired of a culture in which degrading others’ work is the key to establishing yourself as a “serious cultured person.” (Are you wearing a monocle? Why are you not wearing a monocle, serious cultured person? If you’re going to talk about how television is the opiate of the masses, you should at least be wearing a monocle. And a bow-tie.)

Are they playing...Coldplay? Guards, take them away!

Imagine you are standing on a ladder, the top of which reaches a platform with a plate of cookies on it. Hitting the person next to you doesn’t get you any higher in the air, it simply knocks them down to a lower rung. There still isn’t anyone getting the cookies. (And yes, the ladder/cookie bit is an analogy for the progress of the human race. Where do I pick up my Philosopher of the Year award?)

And as much shit as I give various things/people on this site, it’s ultimately more fun to gush about something I love than to rant about something I hate — thus all the pictures of puppies and bunnies and Bradley Cooper.

I die.

I’m trying not to tamp down my natural enthusiasm in my life or apologize for liking the things I like. Yes, I write literary criticism that looks at Faulkner through the lens of poststructuralist and other twentieth century philosophical theories of consciousness, and I ALSO LOVE THE HUNGER GAMES. I LOVE THEM. I LOVE THE CHARACTERS. I LOVE KATNISS AND PEETA AND CINNA AND EVERYONE. I SOBBED THROUGH THOSE FUCKING BOOKS. THEY ARE INCREDIBLE AND THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU DISS THEM:

I think The Hunger Games books demonstrate keen attention to character development and a masterful management of plot, and you can make fun of them and of me all you want, but at the end of the day, I’m the one that gets to marry Peeta Mellark in my mind…I mean, what?

I adore Peeta in the books, so I was very skeptical about the casting for the film. Against my expectations, however, Josh Hutcherson was phenomenal as Peeta in the first movie. So now I obviously love him.

I’m campaigning for enthusiasm. Let’s love things and not feel ashamed for it.

My friend C is a continual example to me in this. C has perhaps the most unabashedly open heart of anyone I’ve ever encountered; she’s got love spilling out of her very pores: love for people, for nature, and for art and entertainment, both “high” and “low.” She doesn’t distinguish between these last two; she just loves things. Her heart is practically bursting with affection and joy when she watches Pretty Little Liars, and that enjoyment is not at all ironic. She feels no need to regard such a “trashy” TV show cynically, and watching her watch PLL is an absurdly enjoyment experience in and of itself.

We have a friend who doesn’t watch TV and sometimes when we’re talking excitedly about a show, he looks at us like we’re paramecia to his homo sapien. And we’re like, bitch, talk to Frank O’Hara:

My Heart

I’m not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don’t prefer one “strain” to another.
I’d have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says “That’s
not like Frank!”, all to the good! I
don’t wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart–
you can’t plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.

— Frank O’Hara

I want to be at least as alive as the vulgar. So let’s roll back the cynicism a bit. I aspire to be this excited at least once a day:

In Support of Beards

April 3, 2012 § 5 Comments

No, not the fake girlfriends gay men have to keep their sexuality secret (I just accidentally typed “sexcret.” This should be a new word.) I’m talking about the hair that grows on your face, if “you” are a man with the consistent ability to grow face hair.

This is not a beard:

If the mustache, soul patch, and chin-strap bit don’t connect, it’s not a beard. It’s unfortunate furry patches that are obscuring your face.

And I gotta say, I hate the term “soul patch.” I also hate actual soul patches. It’s like having toothbrush bristles sprouting from your chin cleft.

Anyway, my last post (from a long-ass time ago…sorry about that) focused on pretty men who hide their pretty with heinous facial hair and my annoyance/outrage at said hiding. After writing the post, however, I thought that it perhaps gave the impression that I don’t like facial hair. This is untrue; I simply don’t like ugly facial hair.

A recent conversation with some girlfriends started out focusing on what type of men we each like, which soon morphed into debate over beards, with the question being yay or nay (or yay with a caveat <= that last one’s me). Friend #1 likes outdoorsy men that tend to have bushy-ish beards, wear flannel, drive beat-up pickups, and work for environmental causes. Friend #2 likes clean-shaven men that have their shit together. I tend to go for artsy types with close-cropped beards, and I like beards that are kept in check and regularly trimmed.

In fact, in many cases, a good beard makes me more likely to be attracted to someone.

I think a big part of that is that facial hair is a fashion statement, and the way you trim it, or fail to trim it, works to communicate what identity you want the world to recognize in you. So a guy with a close cropped beard that I’d be checking out is communicating, “I’m an arty hipster-type who probably likes Neutral Milk Hotel and whiskey, and who has more than four pairs of shoes and an apartment with a lot of books.”

When I tried to think of examples of this type of beardy man, the first name that came to mind was Matt Berninger, the singer for The National. He’s the frontman for one of my favorite bands; he has a gorgeous, gravelly baritone (I like Justin Timberlake as much as the next person, but why does every current male singer have to be a tenor?); and when I saw him perform, he was drinking from a tumbler that he periodically replenished with a bottle of white wine (I really like it when performers drink onstage; I don’t know why, especially since, as I singer, I wouldn’t want to drink anything other than water or maybe tea during a performance; maybe I just like that they’re less tight-ass than I am).

Also, Matt Berninger’s face looks like this:

Sign. Me. Up. I’m also a fan of this picture of him holding his daughter:

It's a child! What do I do with it?! HELP. ME.

I love the look of sadness combined with sheer panic.

Okay, so the daughter here (and the wife I also know he has) means this one’s off the market.

Well, there’s always George Clooney, a perpetual bachelor. Though the man has skin so flawless that he doesn’t have to wear makeup on camera (What kind of devilry is this?! )he also can pull off a nicely trimmed beard.

Oh, I'm sorry, does this beard make me look even more handome and distinguished?

While the above photo from the 2012 BAFTAs is obviously lovely, I’m particularly partial to the below shot, which is more candid and taken while The Cloonester, his father, and some former senators led a protest in Washington D.C. to draw attention to the ongoing violence in Sudan, calling on alleged war criminal Omar-Al Bashir to stop said violence and allow humanitarian aid workers into the country.

Your humanitarian aid workers can enter my country any time. I mean, what? Wow...that was in incredibly bad taste.

Jon Hamm also looks damn handsome with a beard, but I’m starting to think Jon Hamm would look damn handsome with squirrels stapled to his face and a traffic pylon as a hat.

The man is brilliant comic actor as well as a dramatic actor, and he looks like that. Let’s pray to God he can’t sing…

I wonder if Jon Hamm and John Slattery hang around the Mad Men set talking about how they could have a sexy beard competition if it weren't for the show they're in the middle of taping.

Depending on the man, I can sometimes get behind the “bald head but with a beard” look. Black guys have a better chance of pulling this off; in second place, hipster-y white dudes.

My personal favorite example is Common. Holy hell.

THAT MAN. HIS FACE. HOW IS HE THAT BEAUTIFUL?!

I’m also often greatly in favor of the scruffy look, in which a man doesn’t go full grizzly but rather seems to have lost his razor for the past few days.

Mr. Miley Cyrus (ick), a.k.a. Gale Hawthorne (okay fine, his actual name is Liam Hemsworth) is greatly benefited by this look. 

As a side note, I think this is the prettiest and the classiest Miley Cyrus has ever looked. At least she takes the Oscars seriously.

Hemsworth is very pretty (I prefer him with his Hunger Games dark hair rather than the blondish he’s usually got going on), but there’s something about his prettiness that is too smooth, that makes him look manufactured, a la Chace Crawford, although significantly less so (and even Chace’s alien “good” looks aren’t enough to keep his character from becoming totally superflous on Gossip Girl). Some stubble makes Hemsworth’s face look less like it sculpted from plastic by some overworked peasants in China. He looks so good here; keep it up, Gale.

Of course, some men with faces so pretty they seem unreal should definitely not have scruff.

Matt Bomer is unnaturally handsome. My dad started watching White Collar when it first came on (great fluff show — lots of fun), and the first few times I saw it, and thus Matt Bomer, I kept saying, “Why is the Rolex model talking?”

Matt Bomer’s face can handle only the bare minimum of scruff. I think even this might be too much.

John Cho is another example of someone who should always go sans stubble.

I've chosen this photo from People's Sexiest Man issue because well, hello, he certainly is, and also because I think the photo inset at right of him as a kid is super adorable. I had those same bangs until I was 12. True story.

Some, though, really do look good in scruff.

Jake Gyllenhaal

ON THEIR FACES.

Penn "I dressed like this on purpose" Badgley

Pardon me while I go throw up.

Okay, so I have become much more amenable to chest hair as of late. When I was a teenager, I didn’t like it. I think was largely due to the fact that I was raised with the shiny chests of young Hollywood males, specifically Hayden Christensen. (I was obsessed with him after the second Star Wars prequel. I know; it horrifies me too. Some of my early crushes, like Ewan McGregor at age 10, also due to Star Wars, I still think were spot on. Others, like Hayden, not so much…)

At age 13 or whatever, my girlfriends and I were a big fan of the scene in Attack of the Clones when Anakin wakes up from a nightmare (shirtless!! teehee!!).

My mother found my attraction to guys with shiny, shaved chests appalling. Choice quotation from our discussions of this issue: “I don’t like bald-chested men!”

Since Hayden briefly pulled me to the dark side, however, I’ve come to prefer chests in their natural state, hair and all. Or rather, I’ve come to find chest hair itself attractive. Assuming his torso doesn’t look like a shag carpet.

Now, when a guy’s chest is all smooth and shiny, my thoughts tend to run as follows:

1) What are you, twelve?

2) You probably had to get that waxed. You chose to get your chest waxed and then went through all the trouble to do it. Yeah…we’re not gonna work out.

That said, I’m not a fan of the deep-v trend and all the man-cleavage, especially when it comes with bonus chest hair. I mean, is this joke:

And we get a mini snapshot of Jessica Szohr trying to tame her ratty extensions. These two were a hirsute hurricane as a couple.

So to sum up the post thus far: beards, yes, depending on the man. Scruff, almost always yes. Chest hair, yes; hairy man cleavage, no.

One final tip on how to pull of the “I’m a scruffy rake” look. Just look to Bradley Cooper. He knows his look is working…

SO FLUFFY! Until recently, Cooper had two rescue dogs that he'd named Samson and Charlotte (good names, I approve), but recently Samson died. Luckily, Bradley and Charlotte can have each other when they need consoling.

…but even a face like his can use a little help. Let’s take that scruffy man and add a scruffy dog. Perfect.

Hackers Are the 21st Century’s Sexy Pirates

January 20, 2012 § 5 Comments

"Hero Time is Gone," by Lora Zombie

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, / dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, / […] who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes  — Alan Ginsberg, “Howl”

Twenty-first century America is sick for heroes. Wars no longer happen on our soil and thanks to television news, their romanticism has seriously waned. Our revolution was long ago, and our dissatisfaction with the nation becomes foggier without a clear outside opponent — what to do when we have seen the enemy and the enemy is us?

We’re so sick for greatness, we lap up any celebrity, modernity’s sad facsimile of the hero, and Tim Tebow’s been controlling our national emotional life.

While Arab protestors risk their lives fighting oppressive regimes, the biggest American protest movement in a generation is portrayed by the media as a bunch of dirty people camping in a park.

When corporations are legally people and money seems to mean a lot more than speech, it can seem impossible to make a dent in the monolith of corporate control. I write emails, I sign petitions, I go to protests, and it mostly seems like it’s doing jack shit.

Well, someone’s doing something…and it’s not exactly legal.

Some background, in case the rock you live under doesn’t have wifi: On Wednesday the internet mobilized to protest the (dangerously vague and logistically flawed) anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA (from the House and Senate, respectively), with a widespread blackout. The MPAA, which has been heavily lobbying in support of both bills, disdainfully tweeted its response, noting, “Internet blackout against U.S. law fails to enlist big sites“; little-known website Wikipedia reports that 162 million people viewed its blackout landing page, while an unpopular search engine called “Google” had 4.5 million people sign its online petition against the bills.

A reported 75,000 websites took part in the blackout — including Reddit, Mozilla, Craigslist, GOOD, and Boing Boing, among many others — which had politicians running for the hills. By the end of the day on Wednesday, 18 previously pro-PIPA senators had dropped their support, including seven co-sponsors of the bill, while SOPA co-sponsor Representative Ben Quayle of Arizona changed his stance, along with several other members of the House.

But Thursday saw the feds flexing their muscles, as the Justice Department shut down file-sharing giant Megaupload in what it called in a statement, “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States”, seizing servers and assets (including the personal property of founder Kim Dotcom), and serving arrest warrants for Dotcom and six others associated with the site.

Then the internet got pissed off. Less than 24 hours after the electronic equivalent of a sit-in, things got aggressive. Via a series of direct denial of service attacks, cyber-collective Anonymous — which has been referred to as a group of hacker-activists, or “hacktivists” — brought down the websites for the U.S. Department of Justice, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Universal Music, U.S. Copyright Office, and the FBI.

In their words, “WE ARE THE 99% – WE AR#ANONYMOUS – YOU SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED US #Megaupload“.

Now that’s hot. 

"We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us." Anaphora is hot.

You may not agree with what they stand for, you may not agree with what they do, you may think they are a bunch of nerdy criminal punks — but still, that’s hot.

Twenty-first century, let me introduce you to your new hero: the hacker.

Hackers are the pirates for the internet generation.

Corporate America may seem to have a stranglehold on our political process, but the internet is democratic — not just in that it’s democratizing publishing and music, or that it’s making information more available, but in that it allows the actions of people without special financial, social, or political capital to have serious and palpable consequences.

Hackers are the new pirates. Figuratively and legally. A popular site was dubbed Pirate Bay, and some of what they do is legally called “pirating.” Unlike actual pirates, however, hackers can take regular showers, maintain dental hygiene, and won’t get scurvy.

Yes, Johnny Depp is sexy as hell in Pirates of the Caribbean, but think about it: do you really think he smells sexy as hell?

Mmm, fish and 30 days of body odor buildup!

Cyber pirates can comb their hair and eat something besides salted, dried meat and the crumbs they find in their beards. They can launch an attack against The Man, then sit down to watch Top Chef with you over takeout Chinese.

Of course, there are modern-day pirates more in the vein of “Arg, matey! Give up your cargo!” but they’re a bunch of unwashed Somali guys with automatic weapons and a lot of emotional baggage. I’ll pass.

I’ll take an online pirate over a maritime one any day. An average citizen fighting The Man and actually having some effect? I think a Facebook friend put it well yesterday when, commenting on the Anonymous takedown of government and corporate websites, she wrote, “illicit sure, but nerd-knights = sexiest.”

America, I’m here to tell you these are the kind of heroes women can get behind. Or on top of. You get my drift.

And when I say “women,” I don’t just mean the geeky teen with a 4chan account, or the accountant that was goth in high school.

The women who think hackers are sexy are not just classic geeks. They probably don’t code. They don’t play World of Warcraft online, don’t have Deviant Art pages or cats named Spot. Sure, maybe they can quote Buffy or have twitter handles like “YouHadMeAtHelo” or “WhoWatchestheWatchmen”, but they also play sports, and wear perfume, and go to parties. They read Glamour, they read The New Yorker, they read comic books, they read Nabokov, they read cereal boxes. They are many and variable, and they think internet activism is hot.

The hacker-hero is a new breed of coder, a bad boy without that annoying drug habit.

This is not the computer nerd from most 90s movies. I’m not talking about some overweight white guy in glasses whose ass has fused with his desk chair and who seems to live solely in the dark, like a mole rat. That guy does the protagonist’s bidding while taking sad sidelong glances at the impossibly hot female lead.

I’m talking about Justin Long in Live Free or Die Hard, a hacker with a quick wit and a tongue to match, nerdy-sexy a la Adam Brody’s The O.C. character, Seth Cohen, whose explosive popularity suddenly made “geek chic” a thing in the mid ’00s.

You just said something witty, didn't you?

I’m talking about Lisbeth Salander, a hacker with chopped black hair and a nipple ring, not so much antisocial as asocial, silent but vicious.

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's English-language remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Yeah, I'm equal opportunity Stieg Larsson.

I’m talking about a hacker that can cut you, but probably won’t because we’re baking pies tonight and we’ll need the knives later.

Also, this hacker isn’t necessarily male. She doesn’t have to be Sandra Bullock in The Net; I’m picturing a sexy young black woman with a short afro and a neck tattoo, or a pale white girl with dark, pixie-cut hair and an affinity for jewelry with animals on it. I’ll take a femme-y hacker, with a side of Guy Fawkes mask — to go.

Hackers: the new pirates, only cleaner, better educated, and less likely to kill you in the morning.

Good night, Westley. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning. (Well, okay, I'd like to break off a piece of this pirate...)

This isn’t the perpetual-friend-zone guy helping you take down that compromising picture your ex uploaded to the internet; this is the guy you’re taking the pictures for.

And as for me, I like to think of my imaginary hacker boyfriend looking like Matthew McNulty.

The Man with the Dragon Neck-Tattoo...Who's Mine So Don't Touch Him or I'll Cut You

I Want a Dog!

December 2, 2011 § 8 Comments

My parents will tell you that my first words were “Mommy, Daddy, puppy please!” I think this is a bit of an exaggeration – but not much.

I’ve been wildly in love with dogs since I can remember existing. From the time I learned to speak until the 5th grade when my parents actually agreed to get a dog (a very specific dog, not “a” dog; they had many requirements the pet candidate had to fulfill), I pestered them nonstop, with only occasional breaks for eating, sleeping, and breathing – and I learned to talk much earlier than most babies. After around nine years of my begging for a dog and my parents trying to placate me by giving me stuffed animals and pet-sitting family friends’ dogs for even months at a time, I finally had a puppy of my own! Okay, “our” own, I had to share with my parents and younger brother, but I thought of our new puppy as my personal soulmate. I hugged her for about 12 months straight.

She was a tiny ball of fluff when we got her. We named the puppy Tara (long a), after the plantation in Gone with the Wind. A weird namesake, I know, especially when the namers are 10 and 7, but my younger brother and I had just finished acting in a musical version of the Southern epic – only with all the characters played by animals. The play was called Gone with the Wind in the Willows and was the story of Mr. Toad and his friends putting on their own production of Gone with the Wind. Plus songs, one of which was a stirring ballad called “I’ll Never Be Hungry Again!”

Do not ask me why – I was in a children’s theater company for years that put on the original musicals of our director, who I’m pretty sure decided which plays to write based on the pun potential of the title (Spam Spade: Pig Detective was another one). So, being a fan of human names for animals, of our play, and of the name itself, we dubbed the puppy Tara. Actually, in our play the plantation was called Tararaboomdeeay (or some other spelling of that – I’m going with phonetics), so she really got off easy.

Tara the puppy was so cute that she literally stopped traffic (people would pull over when we were walking her to ask what kind of dog she was and to generally squeal in admiration). Half Queensland Heeler and half Brittany Spaniel, as a puppy, she looked like a long-haired, incredibly fuzzy Dalmatian, because she had very pronounced black spots on a white coat, with a black mask across her face.

I don’t have a photo of her as a puppy on my harddrive, but this is what Tara looks like nowadays.

She’s incredibly smart, affectionate, and basically perfect. Okay, she can be a bit annoying if she’s not getting her way, but still, basically perfect.

I miss her like mad when I’m away from my parents’ house. I went to undergrad less than an hour and a half away from  my childhood home, so I went home every few weeks and got my Tara fix. (You’re nice too, parents.) When I went abroad to Oxford my junior year of college, I started sobbing when I had to say goodbye to her. I can explain to humans where I’m going and why I’ll be away, but you can’t communicate something that complicated and abstract to a dog. It just kills me that she might think I’m abandoning her.

Now I live across the country from Tara (and my parents – hey again, parents! – and brother), and I’m so dog-deprived that I have to keep myself from screaming “DOGGIE!!!” and running up and hugging every dog I see on the street. I tell myself that these are strangers’ dogs, strangers who might get freaked out by a random girl running at them, or at the very least think it’s weird.

I desperately want a dog of my own, and I actually live somewhere that I could have one – a first since I’ve been living on my own. As much as it saddens me to admit it, though, I don’t think I’m at a stable even stage of life to care for a dog like it deserves.

I currently know multiple people my age who have dogs who I don’t think adequately care for them. I’m not of the “the dog can fend for itself most of the time” variety. I think dogs should be exercised daily, given affection, and if at all possible, not left alone for long periods of time. I don’t think I can currently promise that.

The fact that I’m not getting a dog, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t spend copious amounts of time fantasizing about having one, just like I don’t let the fact that I’ve never met Bradley Cooper get in the way of my plan to marry him. (He can cook! He got honors in English from Georgetown by writing a thesis on Nabokov! And, yep, he loves dogs! Bradley, call me.)

I am a medium to large dog kind of person; if I would worry about stepping on it, it’s not a dog, at least not one I’d be interested in owning (Chihuahuas, however, are definitely not dogs). Tara is around 37 pounds, and I wouldn’t really want a dog any smaller than that. Lately, however, I’ve been fantasizing about getting a small dog, but not just any small dog: a Jack Russell Terrier.

My love for Jack Russells started at the tender age of 7 or so. I was a mad fan of the TV show Wishbone on PBS, which featured a dog narrator that dressed up in human clothes and acted out classical works of literature. So basically, the best idea for a television show ever. PBS somehow cancelled it after only a season and a half, probably because they hate joy.

Do you hate joy, PBS?!

Wishbone was smart, funny, and starred an adorable dog pretending to be Mr. Darcy and Robin Hood. For a dog-obsessed book nerd whose mother enforced the rule that I was only allowed to read for one out of the three daily recesses in elementary school, Wishbone seemed like it was made specifically for me.

The cutest Robin Hood in memory.

And the theme song was damn catchy too.

I definitely still remember most of the words. What’s the story, Wishbone? Do you think it’s worth a loo-ook? It kinda seems familiar, like a story from a boo-oo-ook! 

The location of the story: a book.

(You still can’t buy the full series; only four episodes are available on DVD, and a few others are on VHS. This is a travesty of significant proportions.)

Dapper dog is disturbed by this news.

So the erudite Jack Russell Wishbone saturated my consciousness for much of my childhood, but what brought this adorably clever breed back into my ken was the sweet, offbeat film Beginners, which I saw over the summer. It also stars Ewan McGregor, who was my first celebrity crush when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out (even though he had that disgusting haircut with the  short, jutting ponytail and that nasty mini-braid).

Wtf, George Lucas? The prequels themselves weren't enough?

Much better.

In addition to Ewan McGregor and a Jack Russell, Beginners also stars Christopher Plummer as a very enthusiastically gay man, as well as some adorable French chick (apparently her name is Melanie Laurent). Basically Beginners was massive amounts of adorable in one place. The only thing that has since come to rival this level of adorable is the Tumblr “Ryan Gosling vs. Puppy,” which asks the age-old impossible question, “Is Ryan Gosling cuter than a puppy?” This is the hardest question I’ve had to answer since I got Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Jake Gyllenhaal in a game of Marry, Bang, Kill.

Victor? Puppy.

Puppy.

Ryan Gosling.

Too. Difficult. Brain. Exploding.

Ah hell – I plead the fifth (I think how hard I find this question is incriminating enough.)

By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, the correct answer is Ryan Gosling AND a puppy.

To be fair, the correct answer is anything AND a puppy.

Yep, that works too.

But moving on to the supposed point of this post: I want a Jack Russell. The one in Beginners is adorable.

Ewan McGregor’s character has recently come into possession of the dog, which used to belong to his (now deceased) father, and he can’t bear to leave it alone, so he brings it everywhere. He brings it to a costume party.

He and his adorable French girlfriend have breakfast with the dog (called Arthur in the movie; the actor-dog is named Cosmo – apparently Ewan McGregor went through Cosmo-withdrawal when they finished the film).

Arthur even talks! In subtitles! (He’s a dog; he can’t speak aloud. That’d just be ridiculous.)

This pup reduces me to a quivering pile of jelly.

Then I saw The Artist at the Virginia Film festival last month. Fantastic film, if you haven’t heard of it; it’s actually a modern-day silent film about the historical transition from silent movies to talkies. The Jack Russell in this one not only does innumerable tricks, but it saves Jean Dujardin’s character from a burning building!! That is love.

Also love: the way I look at this dog.

Basically, I need to get a Jack Russell stat – but I guess I’d settle for Bradley Cooper, Ewan McGregor, or Ryan Gosling instead.

In Appreciation of Jared Leto

November 13, 2011 § 1 Comment

Let’s be honest: I love me some Jared Leto. I’m too young for My So-Called Life (I know, I know), so my first encounter with Jared involves his role as Angel Face in Fight Club, or as I thought of him, the hot guy that wasn’t Edward Norton or Brad Pitt.

I was probably around 14 when I first watched Fight Club, at the end of the very brief period in which I was attracted to blonde guys. Notable about this period is the fact that I was particularly into the bleached-out surfer blonde (or as was more accurate to my hometown, water polo blonde) type, and that I managed to watch Paul Walker in She’s All That (a pretty hilarious movie, if not so much intentionally – check out the scene of Freddie Prinze Junior hacky-sack-ing) and find him vaguely attractive in addition to thinking him a massive douche. This attraction is remarkable due to my current intense hatred of Paul Walker, which did not take long to kick in and which includes a feeling of visceral revulsion when I think of him and/or see a trailer for Fast and the Furious 13: Fasterer and Furioserer. I find his speaking voice particularly infuriating/nauseating.

But back to Jared: I watched Fight Club.  I was pretty enthused, the way teenagers are required (probably by law) to be upon first viewing Fight Club, and considering my current penchant for chlorine-headed water polo players, I got over his bleached hair and creepy matching eyebrows that made his under-eye circles look like Dante’s circles of hell. I may have even found these vaguely appealing (I know, horrors).

For a year or so, then, to me, Jared Leto was simply the third hottest guy in Fight Club (and in case you’re wondering, Edward Norton is #1 and Brad Pitt is #2. While Brad is obviously prettier from a purely physical standpoint, Edward Norton is like catnip for brainy girls. Really sexy catnip. Except in The Italian Job, where he kills Charlize Theron’s adorable father and has that disgusting mustache. Mostly the problem is the mustache. But other than that, Edward Norton = yes. For remedial Edward Norton Studies, watch The Illusionist.)

My sophomore year of high school, however, I became aware of Jared’s defining role: lead singer of 30 Seconds to Mars. At 15, I still liked the Ataris and other fairly heinous bands, though I was growing out of it, thank god/dess, so 30 Seconds to Mars did not repel me musically. Also, as someone who has had “anger issues,” as I think my parents referred to them when I was in junior high, 30 Seconds to Mars is ideal music for kickboxing/running until you may literally die/whatever else I did to channel my aggression as a teenager so that I could graduate from high school without murdering one of my more moronic classmates.

Even as I progressed emotionally and musically, realizing that Radiohead exists and other such important discoveries, I retained a soft spot in my heart for 30StM, specifically the song “The Kill” from their 2005 album A Beautiful Lie (the title song is also excellent treadmill music). “The Kill” is a masterpiece of angst, anger, and aggressive lyrics that don’t actually make that much sense.

The music video to “The Kill,” additionally, is its own piece of genius, featuring an homage to The Shining, a man inexplicably wearing a bear costume, and two Jared Letos sing-fighting.

 I place it up there with other cheese-tastic music videos, like the Backstreet Boys’ “Incomplete” (he’s playing a piano in the middle of the forest, for no reason) and New Kids on the Block’s “Summertime.” Basically, it’s impressively cheese-tastic considering 30 Seconds to Mars is not a boy band (at least in the traditional sense, though Jared Leto does seem unable to grasp that he is no longer a stringy 19-year-old and is in fact almost 40, and thus should begin comporting himself as an actual adult. You can be a rock star without seeming like a man-child perma-douche.)

“The Kill” truly dominates these other videos, however, in being light years more sincere. 30StM has no idea what a hilarious parody of a band they are. My favorite thing about Jared is that he seems to take himself so seriously.

Jared Leto wants to change the world. And Jared Leto seems to think that Jared Leto is changing the world.

“I just wish there was no such thing as fighting, that the world could just be like, perfect, and everyone could get along. But obviously, that can’t happen.”- Little girl whom the video highlights as if she is bestowing a nugget of wisdom coming from her childlike innocence, rather than obnoxiously stating the blatantly obvious

My favorite things about this video include 1) the rather unimaginative comments of the people featured, 2) Jared Leto’s portrayal of himself as a messianic figure, and 3) Jared Leto’s pink mohawk. This music video, which Jared himself directed (!), came out in 2010, at which point Jared was 38 years old. 38. Years. Old.

And he still thinks it is acceptable to dress like this:

And this:

His “I am an adult and wear scarves and such and do not have a pink mohawk” look unfortunately/fortunately looks like this:

The girls at GoFugYourself.com, one of my personal favorite blogs, referred to this look as the “doucheffant.”

Honestly, though, Jared’s “I’ll never grow up” Peter Douche Pan attitude is actually one of my favorite things about him. It’d be incredibly disappointing if he started wearing suits and stopped making music that makes my run awesome and the angry 13-year-old inside me mosh with glee.

However, this picture from the MTV Europe Awards from earlier this week reassures me that won’t be happening any time soon.

Are he and his bandmate in the middle both wearing skirts? Oh Jared, I love you; don’t ever change. Except your hair, and your clothes – into even more ridiculous ones.

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