I have a new crush, thanks to The Voice, and it isn’t Adam Levine…well, it isn’t JUST Adam Levine

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.

Thanks to the fact that they shot all the Battles on one day but showed them over four weeks meant that we got four weeks of Adam’s awesome sweater. I approve, NBC, I approve. Also, re: my recent post on facial hair, this is a successful employment of stubble. Though his hair is a bit too gelled.

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!

Actual shy 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.

That shit is terrifying.

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.

I’m sorry, did you say something? I was busy being stupid adorable.

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:

Meanwhile, backstage, Lindsey takes a timeout to be stupid gorgeous.

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:

It’s like Mummenschanz, Renaissance Venice, and a Thierry Mugler fashion show are all happening in the middle of that god-awful Lestat Elton John musical from like 2005 that was based on Anne Rice’s vampire novels and the only real accomplishments of which were in fog effects and boring me to tears.

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?

Oh hi, bunny.

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.

I think her eyes are hypnotizing me…

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.

Tears = good sign?

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?

Help me? Please? I’m just so damn adorable, like a bunny.

You should be watching The Voice: It’s like television candy, with glitter

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,

And this is the best thing she's worn all season. Honestly.

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.

Cee-Lo also has a throne, only his came from Ethan Allen rather than Kim Kardashian's imagination.

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.

Sometimes it's just amusing how extremely different the coaches are from each other. I mean, look at that picture. These four would not have been friends in high school.

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.

What’s Wrong with Handsome?!

March 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

So I have this friend. He’s very pretty. Like, his skin was made by elves and his hair spun out of rose-gold by fairies.

No, not that kind of fairy.

Moi???

Except…well, okay, that works too.

My point is that this friend has been genetically blessed when it comes to his physical appearance. He has those ice blue eyes that are so piercing they kind of scare you, and his strawberry blonde (though more strawberry than blonde) hair is so silky and perfect that I’ve talked with a number of friends about it, and we have all admitted to sometimes getting distracted just staring at his hair, seeing the light glance off it, watching him run his hands through it — see, I’ve wandered off into a daydream just thinking about his hair.

And this isn’t just a “break me off a piece of that” kind of situation. A straight guy recently made an envious comment regarding this hair, which was basically like, “How is that possible? Come on!

And yet recently, my pretty friend has been letting his hair grow too long. Whereas he once had that slightly shaggy “I’m an artist!” haircut, he let the bangs grow until he had to sweep them awkwardly to the side in The Zac Efron:

I know, Zac Efron, squeal!, or whatever, but seriously people, this is not how you want your hair to look.

I'm actually frightened by how much my friend's hair looks like this. This may be a picture of him wearing a Zac Efron mask.

At times, loathe though I am to speak of them, his hair even approached The Justin Bieber:

Even The Biebs has since realized the error of his hairstyling ways, and I don’t think “Justin Bieber!” when I think “someone who makes great fashion choices.”

I’m sure you can imagine, given the mental picture I’ve painted for you, why I recently commented (nicely! casually!) to said friend that his hair was getting really long and asked if he was planning on cutting it (he’s the kind of person I can see going off into the woods on a “spiritual quest” for the weekend and then turning up three months later, not realizing how much time has gone by and surprised people have been worried about him, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d just forgot to cut his hair).

But, horror of horrors — he told me he was growing his hair out! To waist-length! On purpose!!! And that he was always going to wear it down because he doesn’t like when men wear ponytails!

I remember that I excused myself from the room to go vomit, but I must have actually stayed, since he then revealed to me that he’s had long hair before and that, in fact, he used to have dreadlocks! He took his straight, shiny, magicked-into-existence-by–woodland-fairies hair and made it into a dirty mass of wtf are you doing, white boy? 

At one point when he had dreadlocks, he also had a bushy beard, and when he saw his mother for the first time with these new style choices, she took one look at him and burst into tears. True story. (Also, he said that he no longer grows beards because the beard splits in the middle of his chin and gathers into two points. May I quote Joey Tribbiani when I say, “That goatee makes you look like Satan.”)

Now, my friend has no reason to give a flying #&$% what I think of his hairstyle, me or anyone else — although we are the ones who have to look at him all the time — but his desire to go from “Hellooooo there” to “I think that guy is going to try to steal my purse!” got me thinking: what is it that makes really handsome guys work to uglify all their natural pretty?

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately since it’s been awards season, and despite the fact that the Oscars are better than Lunesta at combating insomnia, I somehow watched all of it. And all of the Golden Globes. And I think I watched part of the Emmys? Although I avoided the Grammys like the plague because I hate that shit — also, I want Chris Brown to crawl under a rock and die.

The point is, I watch these shows partly out of masochism (who doesn’t love watching mediocre art beating out good art for the title of “year’s best”!) and partly out of my love for fashion. I watch for the dresses, and the hairstyles, and the jewelry, and the shoes, and oh yeah, the suits and other men-type-things.

Unless you’re Ryan Gosling in that olive green suit from the Ides of March premier, or Darren Criss in that cranberry slim-cut, or any other sexy man in a suit that I want to pour into my glass and drink, mostly men at the Oscars (etc.) succeed through understatement, i.e. by simply not doing anything wrong.

The other night I ordered an olive in my martini, but he did not come with it.

Ditto every Cosmo or vodka cranberry I've ever had.

If you’re a man at the Oscars (etc.) and I don’t remember what you were wearing the next day, that’s probably a good sign — not an incredible sign, you didn’t wow me, but still, high five for you — a sign that you wore a black tuxedo that fit you well enough, rather than putting on something too crazy.

Since menswear excellence is often based around less-is-more (or around Tom Ford — everything that man makes is stunning), it’s other parts of male stars’ appearance that stand out to me. Lately, it’s their panic to cover up handsome.

And why? What, pray tell, is wrong with handsome? I’m a huge fan of handsome! Why are you taking the handsome away from me?!

If the media is going to push unrealistic beauty expectations on us at every waking moment, I might as well have some pretty men to show for it!

The Oscar Man Fug that had one of my best friends texting me in horror occurred on the face of one of my all-time favorite pretty, pretty men: Bradley Cooper.

Baby, WHY?! Let’s hope and pray this was for a movie. And we know it’s not actually for the role of Satan because that 3-D Paradise Lost flick got cancelled, thanks be to all that is good and holy.

Others, however, can’t so easily hide behind the “It’s for a role!” defense. Take, for example, Ashton Kutcher, who’s role on Three and a Half Men recently led to his being forced to fix his horrifying face. And by that I mean cut his hair and evict the rodents living on his chin.

Hey there! Sorry about destroying your ability to see! #lolz #megadouche

Now, while Ashton Kutcher is majorly not my type (and by that I mean that he is astonishingly accomplished in the art of douchebaggery), he does actually have a pretty face. You know, when he allows it to go outside.

I'm actually surprisingly cute, right?

That look is okay. The guess-how-long-it’s-been-since-I-showered! look? Not so much…

No high-fives for you. Go get the electric razor.

Christian Bale is another one that I’ve been having trouble with for a while. Look, I know that he’s a very good-looking man. I’ve seen Batman Begins. I’ve seen The Dark Knight. I’ve seen 3:10 to Yuma, and The Prestige, and Public Enemies. I even saw Terminator: Salvation, though I can’t imagine why. I’ve seen Newsies. I’ve even seen Pocahontas, and in Pocahontas he’s sexy as a cartoon!! And yet, when I see him at any public event lately, I can only think, “What did I see in this guy, again?”

Seriously, what did I see in him? Oh right, that’s what:

Mmm.

The movie-star-on-his-off-time-skipping-a-shave-or-two is a pretty common occurrence in tabloid photos/in actors’ actual lives, and that makes total sense to me: if it’s your job to look perfect every moment, I can see why you’d trash the razor and eat entire pizzas given the chance. However, I think this should stop at a point.

Yes, sometimes when I’m working on a paper (graduate school = now I’m a perma-student), I don’t leave my house for four days and I don’t shower or put on makeup or wear anything aside from pajamas or sweatpants, and my bangs are all twisted on top of my head and I get that twitch in my eye…but the point is that after I finish the paper (or happen to look in a mirror), I take a shower and put on some real clothes. Also, though I do frequently grocery shop after I go to the gym and thus venture into public with no makeup, a red face, and sweaty, sweaty hair, I usually don’t want to punish strangers for having to look at me.

And I think, given these recent photos, that Shia LaBeouf has reached the “punishing strangers who have eyes” stage.

via The Daily Mail

If I hadn’t been prompted by the headline to know that this was Shia LaBeouf and you’d asked me who this was a picture of, I’d have replied, “Some homeless guy,” or “A hipster.”

Shia’s not in the upper echelons of “Bring the smelling salts! She’s fainted!” handsome, but he is definitely not bad-looking, and he has this strangely sexy vibe that I’ve never been able to pin down. And if you can look like that bum/painter above or like this:

…guess which look I think you should pick.

Plus, my best friend K has run into him in Burbank and apparently he’s super chill and a great sport, and he dated Carey Mulligan for several years whom, if you read the site regularly you’ll know I totally adore, so I’ll continue like Shia — or as we’ll soon be calling him Shi-Yeti.

But while Shia LaBeouf is a young guy who seems like a bit of a wild card, some of the other “Keep the handsome away from me!! The power of fame compels you!!!” menfolk are less young and far more handsome.

Brad Pitt is potentially the worst offender of all, in that he been hiding his handsome behind bad haircuts and bad facial hair for years, and also because he has the most handsome to hide.

So close, and yet...

I despise his hair. Despite the fact that he probably has a stylist following him around his house adjusting his hair/clothes, Pitt’s long hair always manages to look like it hasn’t been washed in a few days.

And don’t tell Angie (or the tabloids), but I’d suggest that in the above picture (his official 2012 Oscars nominee portrait), he looks like he’s channeling ex Jennifer Aniston during her early Friends years. 

Short in the front, long in the back for no reason? Yep, it’s The Rachel, only without the proper styling — Brad forgot to add the mouse and blow-dry the top with a large round brush! Shame on you, Brad…

Also, that goatee has got to go. My favorite photo from the 2012 Oscars red carpet is the following one, because Brad’s facial expression is admitting what Brad himself refuses to admit: that facial hair is heinous.

"Please! Get it off me!" - Brad's face

We know you’re not 25 anymore, Brad, and that’s okay! We know you won’t look like you did in Thelma and Louise,  but you can still look like this:

Or like this:

Don’t let Angelina’s perma-perfect alien-skin get you feeling down about your wrinkles — you’re an earthborn human so you’re going to age, while she doesn’t seem to have that problem.

You’re still handsomer than 99.99999985% of men. Who have ever lived.

Brad, we love you, not as much as we love The Clooney, true, but we love you. So please, bring back the short hair and the clean shave, or even just the short hair!

But whatever you do, don’t go back to this:

I stand corrected. THAT goatee makes you look like Satan.

A Book is Just a Movie Waiting to Happen

December 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

I am inextricably invested in an outdated form of written art called “the book.” These “books” are made up of many pieces of paper glued or sewn together on one side such that they can be read in a fixed order. (“Paper,” for those members of the digital generations who would never have seen a book outside of a museum, is a thin, flat material made from wood pulp, i.e. ground up trees, that is designed to be written on with “ink,” a dark pigmented liquid that leaves a permanent mark.)

Ancient artifact called a "book."

I recognize that “book” has become a fairly abstract term used to describe various digital, written documents, but I can assure you that historically, books were physical objects used to house the written words of novels, poems, non-fiction, etc. etc., which is why  “novel,” a specific type of written fiction, has become nearly synonymous with “book.”

The written word existed in non-digital form centuries before the invention of the computer, or even the invention of film!

It turns out, therefore, that books and movies are different art forms with their own means of expression and experimentation! I thought books were just proposals for movies! A novel is more than a movie waiting to happen? Hollywood certainly doesn’t think so.

Many (if not most) films take their source material from books (usually novels but also nonfiction or collections of short stories — poems not so much, although heeey For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf! But even that was a play basically made up of poems…).

Everything from Drive to Die Hard was based on a book.

I understand that filmmakers need to take stories from novels so that they aren’t continually making Dukes of Hazard, Part 15 and its ilk, but there’s a difference between a book focusing primarily on plot and a book using myriad literary devices to make artistic statements beyond what literally happens.

Some filmmakers understand the differences between these art forms and use cinematic techniques to make interesting aesthetic and thematic points that are inspired by a book but not an attempt to filmically transcribe it. For Little Children, Tom Perotta altered his own novel for the screen, dramatically changing his original ending, exchanging it for one that plays out better cinematically. (Or maybe he made a political choice and decided that the protagonists’ casually enjoying a cigarette with a child molester in the final scene was simply too much for audiences to handle after all the other disturbing things in the movie.)

Usually, however, when Hollywood filmmakers attempt to turn a literary book — a book in which narrative perspective, visual/textual format, choices of syntax and diction, etc. are highly important — into a film, they approach the plot as the entire content of the book and think they can accurately translate a novel to film by simply having the same things happen to the same characters.

This winter, a movie version of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close hits theaters. It stars a cute, precocious child alongside Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. When I heard that Hanks and Bullock were attached to this project, I thought, “There are no main roles for people their age. The main characters are a child and three elderly people. How is Hollywood going to fit these big stars into a story that only has space for them on the sidelines?” I was immediately afraid that attaching star talent would distort the focus of the narrative, but my worry about such possible distortion is really a tiny issue within a larger cornucopia of NO — this book should not be made into a movie, and for many, many reasons.

This just makes me want to cry. Thanks, Hollywood; let's destroy beauty any time we have the chance.

How will a film represent important perspectival shifts in the narrative that are effected by the three separate narrators? How will the film represent Foer’s visually experimental use of text and image? His mixture of poetry and prose? Could a mainstream Hollywood movie even begin to do this literary masterpiece justice?

I, of course, have not seen the film, but I cannot believe that the answer is anything other than “Hell to the f#%$ no!!”

In the spirit of my outrage, here is a list of seven other upcoming films based on literary texts that seem like exploding car-wrecks of Oh gods, don’t do it! Spoiler: not all of them are terrible ideas! Another spoiler: most of them are.

1. The Beat work of the year is On the Road because they already did Howl. With James F’ing Franco. The 2012 take on Jack Kerouac’s twentieth-century classic will undoubtedly be of high quality, since it features the A-list cast of the guy with the sad goatee from the Country Strong trailer (and presumably also the movie, but I definitely did not see that and do not intend to — also, the new TRON apparently?),

This would be the saddest goatee I'd ever seen if it weren't for an awkward Asian guy I knew in high school.

someone I have never heard of from movies I have never heard of, and the cardboard cutout that stars in Twilight.

Calling her "cardboard" gives cardboard a bad name.

2. Since remaking Shakespeare with $#@%@&$ garden gnomes wasn’t enough, we’re facing another Romeo and Juliet, starring the talented Hailee Steinfeld from last year’s (very good) remake of True Grit, opposite a young British actor/model named Douglas Booth, who apparently acted in Pillars of the Earth and modeled for Burberry alongside Emma Watson.

He's pretty in a very Chace Crawford kind of way. So, not attractive to me at all, actually. But seriously, are we sure this isn't a picture of Chace Crawford from Gossip Girl?

Of course, in this one he looks like Justin Bieber. Double "no" on that one, then. Ew ew ew.

But speaking of Gossip Girl, Ed Westwick has been cast as Tybalt, which could turn out to be genius, since he is deliciously evil as Chuck Bass.

"I am going to devour your soul with my eyes and then drink a delicious Scotch."

But really, even if this film is pretty good, it’s just unnecessary. We’ve already got the classic Zefirelli film, as well as Baz Luhrmann’s modernday gang saga Romeo + Juliet, and if that’s not enough for you, there’s bound to be a production of the play happening at a local theater company and/or the local high school at any given time.

3. A film version of Paradise Lost is slated to come out in 2012, starring Bradley Cooper as Satan. I heard “film version of Paradise Lost” and began to bang my head against the nearest available surface, so it took me a while to learn that Bradley Cooper is going to play Lucifer. Paradise Lost is Milton’s great legacy for many reasons, one of which is the character of Satan, who is not only the poem’s (btdubs, this is a poem, y’all) most compelling character, but who is often identified as the hero. The idea of Cooper as Satan actually excites me — he has the perfect smooth-talking sex appeal combined with a dark glint in his eye. To reuse my earlier phrase, I think he could be deliciously evil in this role. However, I don’t think this role should exist.

This is the sole teaser image that Legendary Pictures has released so far. So the Devil's not going to be rakishly handsome?

Paradise Lost could be an incredible stage play — and at some point in history, I’m sure it has been — but I just don’t see it working as a film, unless perhaps it is shot in a strange, experimental, independent aesthetic. Since the director‘s best-known movies to date are I, Robot and the 2009 Nic Cage vehicle Knowing, I seriously doubt that will happen.

Others attached to this project include I-think-she-used-to-date-a-Jonas-brother-or-something Camilla Bell, I-used-to-be-in-Oceans’ 11-but-now-I’m-just-in-a-parody-of-Oceans’ 11 Casey Affleck, Spencer’s working-class (horrors!) boyfriend from Pretty Little Liars, and Rufus Sewell??

Rufus Sewell is not taking the news of his involvement well.

I adore Rufus Sewell and think that he is a really top notch actor, from A Knight’s Tale to The Holiday to more artistic and serious movies like The Illusionist, so I wonder about his involvement with this project. Maybe it will be more legitimate than I anticipate? A seventeenth-century epic poem doesn’t exactly seem like a blockbuster waiting to happen, so maybe the director is taking it seriously. Oh wait, the film’s going to be in 3-D. Never mind.

4. Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby could be truly incredible, and I’m hoping it will be. Like Tim Burton, Luhrmann is a love-him-or-hate-him kind of director, with a very apparent and consistent aesthetic, but I’m definitely on the “love him” side of things. His Romeo + Juliet is phenomenal, even though Leonardo DiCaprio may chew the scenery a bit (the scene after Mercutio’s death when he’s driving the car? Really??), and I think Moulin Rouge is a goddamn masterpiece, so haters can shut it.

IIIII will love this movieeeee, until my dyyyyiiiiiing daaaaaay!

Anyway, this latest film take on Fitzgerald’s classic novel will reunite Luhrmann and DiCaprio, with the latter playing the titular hero, and will feature Toby Maguire as Nick (the novel’s narrator — that could work, I suppose), Joel Edgerton as Tom (Edgerton has the perfect rough edge to play the suave but violent Mr. Buchanan), and Carey Mulligan as Daisy, the girl who motivates Gatsby’s every choice from the moment he meets her.

And she glowed with the light of a thousand angels...

I completely adore Carey Mulligan and cannot communicate strongly enough how glorious I think this casting is. Beautiful in a unique and interesting way, Mulligan will be able to portray Daisy’s enigmatic and elusive attractiveness much better than someone more conventionally pretty, like talking mannequin Blake Lively. And more importantly, Mulligan has the hard-core acting chops to make Daisy both inescapably enticing and repulsive as a human being.

Admit it, you want to hug her, too. Also, is it just me, or is Leonardo DiCaprio getting younger?

The above is an actual still from the film that has been released to Entertainment Weekly, so click on over to EW’s website to see a larger version of it, as well another photo that shows Nick and Gatsby alongside the woman (Mulligan) who makes their worlds go ’round.

Baz Lurhmann’s trademark colorful, visually-packed, explosive aesthetic is the perfect one to take on the rich (both aesthetically and economically) world of Gatsby and the Buchanans, so I look forward to this film as one that potentially does the book justice while approaching it on the terms of an entirely different artistic genre. I defer to you, Mr. Luhrmann.

5. The Bell Jar starring Julia Stiles. You must be joking.

I love 10 Things I Hate About You, of course, like anyone who grew up in the 90s; as a literary nerd, I appreciate its erudite jokes and copious Shakespeare references. I even thought that Miss Stiles was good on Dexter and that role made me think of her as a real actress rather than someone who used to be weirdly popular but stopped making movies after about 2004 — a bit like the male version of Freddie Prinze Jr, though I never thought she was that bad.

But her hair WAS that bad...

Yes, Julia, I don’t have anything against you, per se, but I will if you do this movie!! Sylvia Plath’s mournful, psychological novel telling the story of a mental illness so similar to her own is devastating and beautiful. You were in The Prince and Me. It had a tractor race. Sylvia Plath stuck her head in an oven; she went through enough in her life without this monstrosity degrading her legacy.

Save the Last Shreds of Dignity?

6. James “Mega-Douche” Franco has decided that he’s a director now.

The "mega-douche" is also known as a "gross douche" -- 144 times more douchey than a regular douche.

Franco has announced he is in talks to direct film versions of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Understandably, this announcement prompts the urge to kill myself,

Hello, sweet death...

but I will stave off these instincts, for you, my dear readers. So: though a number of McCarthy’s books have been made into successful films — including All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, and, to a lesser extent, The Road — his violent and devastating 1985 novel presents a serious challenge to the filmmaker willing to take it on. Blood Meridian features a truly horrifying villain, and casting an actor up to the role is a tall order, though Javier Bardem was reportedly fantastic (I never got around to seeing it! I’m sorry!) in his portrayal of another murderous McCarthy character in No Country for Old Men, so it can be done — I just wouldn’t leave it to James Franco to get it done.

James Franco: perfectly equipped to be incredibly pretentious, grow a gross mustache, not much else.

7. Then there’s As I Lay Dying. Full disclosure: I wrote my undergraduate literary critical thesis on  As I Lay Dying, so I feel intense affection for it, along with a special ownership. My thesis focused on character consciousness and narrative voice — important to a novel that has 59 chapters and 15 separate narrators — things that I don’t think film could adequately represent. Franco is already on record as saying he’s going to “be loyal to the book” by essentially destroying the importance narratorial perspective plays in the novel. Neat-o. So As I Lay Dying as a film = NO

And since one thing is never enough for multitasking addict Franco, in addition to directing, he’s also planning to write the screenplay for his movie based on Faulkner’s 1930 masterpiece. Hell, he’ll probably want to play Darl, too  — and that makes me want to cut a bitch.

Specifically this bitch.

On Naming, Part 2

November 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

In my first post on naming, I avoided commenting on naming trends particular to certain racial groups, specifically, the black penchant for adding “Da” or “D’ ” – and also “Ja” – to the beginning of existing names, giving us DaMarcus, Dashawn, DaWinston (I wish), etc. After talking to my dad on the phone the other night about this very issue, however, I decided I couldn’t keep my silence. He brought to my attention a name so hilarious I had to bring it to your attention as well: New York Jets offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

If you pay more attention to football than I do – my interest is mostly limited to the Stanford Cardinal and the kind of football that is played with a round, black and white ball – you are probably already aware of our friend D’Brickashaw. It’s my understanding that the Jets are currently a successful team, and D’Brickashaw seems appropriately happy about this.

This man is adorable. I just want him to give me a giant hug. Instead, I’m going to make fun of his name.

Sorry, ‘Rick. Can I call you ‘Rick? I cannot address another human being as D’Brickashaw in all seriousness. Actually, let’s go with Brick. This man is 6’6 and 310 pounds, so I imagine he hits people like a brick wall.

Our friend Brick’s parents were quite ambitious, for they combined bad-naming strategies 1, 4, and 5 from my previous post. Strategy 4 involves naming your child with an existing English word. “Rickshaw” is an English word that was adapted from the Japanese word “jinrikisha” and that has been used since the 19th century, whereas “ricochet” comes from the French and means, “a glancing rebound (as of a projectile off a flat surface).” “Brick” is an English word meaning a “handy-sized unit of building or paving material typically being rectangular and about 2 1/4 by 3 3/8 x 8 inches (57 x 95 x 203 millimeters) and of moist clay hardened by heat” (Thanks, Merriam Webster. Note: being a massive linguistic nerd, I’d link to the Oxford English Dictionary online, but you need a paid subscription to read it, and since many people no longer pay to subscribe to newspapers, I doubt they’re lining up to shell out cash for the etymology of “teleological.”)

Strategy 1 involves spelling a normal name in a strange way, and while Brick’s parents didn’t do that, they did take normal words and spell them strangely. Of course, we could just diagnose a usage of Strategy 5, completely making up a name, and be done with it, since D’Brickashaw only retains passing likeness to any pre-existing word ever uttered.

Of course, perhaps his parents were simply prescient and knew that their son would grow up to be an NFL tackle, thus giving him an onomatopoeic name after the sound that opposing team’s players make when they bounce off his massive frame.

Perhaps, then, these psychic parents knew that their son wouldn’t have to worry about being teased for his unique name once he grew up to look like this:

Please don't hurt me.

Maybe they also knew, then, that in addition to being a fearsome giant,their son would be in good company with the other weirdly named NFL players. Frostee Rucker of the Cincinnati Bengals was obviously conceived and/or delivered in a Frostee Freeze, while C.J. Ah You of the St. Louis Rams was named after “the customary expression to use when you realize that the person walking through the shadows of your darkened home is just your spouse and not an ax wielding lunatic,” according to The Smoking Jacket.

Plaxico Burress, my favorite NFL player name, until I heard about Brick here, has done the seemingly impossible by living up to the incredible stupidity of his name. While he has yet to forge a dental cleanliness empire crusading against the dangers of plaque, he did accidentally shoot himself in the leg in a New York City nightclub, after the loaded Glock he had tucked into the waistband of his sweatpants (he should have been arrested for wearing sweatpants at a nightclub, forget the lack of a Concealed Carry permit) began to slide down his leg. Attempting to stop the gun from falling, Plaxico grabbed it and accidentally pressed the trigger, shooting himself in the leg. He was later arrested and charged with criminal possession of a handgun and reckless endangerment. His team, the New York Giants, were understandably less than thrilled and immediately tried to revoke the $1 million signing bonus Plaxico was due to receive. He was sentenced to two years in jail, serving most of that time, and after being released early this year, has returned to the NFL, playing for the New York Jets, along with our friend Brick.

Brick’s name is no longer anywhere close to the most embarrassing thing about a Jets player. This makes him happy.

Seriously, this man is adorable. Though he could kill you.

On Naming

November 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

Tellingly, this banner does not read "It's a chance to let everyone your child will ever meet know how clever her parents are!"

This is the part when I, a childless twenty-three-year-old, give you advice on how to parent – or, more accurately, how not to parent.

Specifically, I’m interested in what happens before the potty-training, before the volcano science fair project, before the eighth-grade graduation, indeed, often even before the child is born: I’m interested in naming, and where the line falls between “creative” and “child abuse.”

Celebrities have made bizarre-ass kids’ names more popular recently. Everyone has heard about Apple, Coco, and Pilot Inspektor. Hell, Nicholas Cage named his child after superman. (His son is Kal-el. Seriously.) The British chef Jamie Oliver, whom I find generally adorable, gave his four kids my favorite totally mad names: Poppy Honey Rosie Oliver, Daisy Boo Pamela Oliver, Petal Blossom Rainbow Oliver, and Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver. If you take the naming decision as a joke you get to play on your kid for the rest of his life, don’t do it halfway.

For a humorous collection of the most insane celeb baby names, check out Cracked: http://www.cracked.com/article_15765_the-20-most-bizarre-celebrity-baby-names.html

Now, the fact that a celebrity does something does not mean normal people – or, really anyone – should do it. You don’t see me running around asking for Slash’s hair stylist or Lindsay Lohan’s therapist’s number. But regardless of whether or not Sylvester Stallone chose to name his kid Sage Moonblood (note: he did), there are certain stupid naming practices that will likely persist.

I’ve identified five categories of naming impulses that can lead to appellative chaos:

1. Normal name spelled a strange way. These parents want to give their child a common name but still feel the need to leave their stamp on it somehow, in this case a stamp reading, “If found, return to Psychiatric Wing.” These names sound normal – Rachel, Jessica – but when written, their latent cray-cray is revealed: it’s not Rachel but Raychul, not Jessica but Jessikuh. Spellings with a cultural or ethnic background do not fall under this category; the Jewish “Channah” for “Hannah,” “Shaun” instead of “Sean” or “Shawn” – these are totally acceptable. I’ll even provide a little leeway if a parent wants to spell Jamie “Jaime” so that it’s spelled the same as the French for “I love.” But “Leesa” (Lisa), “Emilee,” “Jorja” (Georgia)? You have got to be joking. The bat-shit fundies on that TLC show 19 Kids and Counting (although apparently the mom’s pregnant with number 20, because 19 children is never enough – it says that right in the Bible) have given each of their kids a name beginning with the letter “j”. Rather than be restricted to names that are actually spelled with the letter “j,” however, they named kid #6 Jinger (like “Ginger”). I hope she’s a redhead. And I seriously wish her name were pronounced “Jinger” like “ringer,” though I doubt it.

2. Normal name pronounced a strange way. I’m not talking about “aw-na” versus “Anna” as in “apple,” nor do I have a problem with ethnically-informed pronunciations. If you’re Latino and say “Da-veed” instead of “David,” no sweat. My problem is the conscious choice to make reading your child’s name aloud difficult for everyone for the rest of his/her/hir life. If your daughter’s name is spelled Divine or Devine but pronounced like “Devin,” that’s too bad because “divine” is already a word. Or, vice versa, if her name is Devin but you want to pronounce it “Dee-vine,” tough tuckus.

3. Foreign word as name. Yes, Reina does sound lovely, but if you are white/Asian/not Latina and you interact with Spanish-speakers, it just becomes a bit awkward. However, if calling you “Queen” makes them uncomfortable, let them know they can always substitute “Your Majesty.”

4. Existing English words as name. Apple. Objects are particularly strange, but abstract words are also quite strange. Traditionally, some (mostly girls’) names have been words that signify positive attributes: Hope, Joy, Faith. Even some of the more ill-chosen, in my opinion, (Temperance, Chastity), still persist. Yes, historical people wanted to burden their daughters with names that were moral imperatives, but they also didn’t know about germs and thought masturbating caused blindness, so I think it’s acceptable to depart from their example. So don’t go calling your son “Brevity.” Also, nouns aren’t the only words that make bad names, though I’d caution against christening your offspring “Panoply,” “Rhapsody,” or “Garden.” “Culvert” sounds like a good idea but isn’t. Verbs (“Scurry”), adjectives (“Antipodal”), adverbs – most existing words are probably a bad idea. Even if you think it’s obscure – “Miasma,” maybe, for your lovely daughter – word nerds like me will be wondering why you wanted to name your child after an infecting vapor.

5. Completely made up name. Throw together any combination of letters and call it a name. Indeed, try out punctuation as well. I’ve heard tell of a girl named “La-a,” and her name is not pronounced “La” or “La’a”: it’s pronounced “La-dash-a.”

I understand the impulse to give your child a unique name; my name is uncommon enough that most people misspell it and many mispronounce it. My best friend has a fairly unusual first name but a downright strange middle name: von Wulfen. It means “from the wolves.” She has hated it our entire lives. I have always thought it was basically the coolest name possible (a perspective likely made possible by the fact that it is not my name). Here’s a hint, then: if you want to throw in some cray-cray along with the family “Thomas” or “Catherine,” stick it in the middle name. Then it’s at least a bit hidden, and your son doesn’t have to spend kindergarten to second grade learning to write “Velociraptor” at the top of his assignments. (Confession: I may or may not think “Velociraptor” would make an awesome name. In theory. In practice, I intend to love my kids, not send them unarmed into the world with a sign saying, “I’m a freak!” My kid will probably be enough of a freak on his/her/hir own.)

In terms of finding interesting names that won’t draw the attention of child protective services, I myself often like surnames used as first names, especially as a means of giving the child a namesake; I had a female friend in college named “Austen” after Jane Austen. I know an English Lit Ph.D. candidate at Stanford whose son is named Whitman, with the nickname “Whit”  – pushing it a bit but ultimately pretty cute, I’d say. However, the surname-as-first-name rule doesn’t always work. My neighbors recently gave their son a family surname: Thorsen, “Thor” for short. No. Dear god/dess no.

Your child is not a pet. If you call a dog “Gobsmack,” or “Fork,” or “Federal Reserve,” it may bring you embarrassment at some point, but it will not stimulate the dog’s peers to make his/her/hir life a living hell. I’m sure Apple’s classmates have never made a joke about having her in their lunchbox, and I’m sure when she gets older there will be absolutely no sexual innuendos constructed around the fact that she’s named after a fruit. I’m totally positive.

Ridicule – you want your child to get less of it, not more. Do your part to make that happen.

My mother grew up knowing three sisters, the children of hippies, who were named Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. If you view this example as inspiration for your own name-creation endeavors, rather than as a cautionary tale, please begin this blog over from the beginning.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Celebrities at The Snarkist.