April 26, 2012 § 1 Comment
In the spirit of my last post advocating enthusiasm, I am going to dedicate this post to things I am crazy enthusiastic about. You could say that I am disproportionately excited about Disneyland and toast, but I say taste this toast and tell me it doesn’t taste like pure joy.
1. Lindsey Pavao tweeting my blog post about her!
Last week, I gushed about my crush on The Voice contestant Lindsey Pavao, and when she found out about my blog post (probably through her boyfriend, who is friend’s with my brother J and commented about the post on J’s Facebook wall), rather than filing a restraining order or hiring ninja body guards (regular body guards are so 1992),
she tweeted it to her gajillion Twitter followers along with a sweet note. Nearly 5000 people read my blog that day. I’d like to say that kind of traffic is normal, but I’d also like to say I’m dating Evan Rachel Wood, it’s just that she doesn’t know it yet — so no, not really. Thanks, Lindsey! Such a classy lady. Also, how hot is this picture?
Must. Buy. Dark. Lipstick.
I really love toast. “But it’s just burned bread!” Sure, the way diamonds are just compressed carbon.
If made correctly, toast is crunchy on the outside, moist and bready on the inside, and covered in delicious, delicious butter (or your preferred butter substitute — I’m a fan of Smart Balance myself).
My brother, a competitive cyclist, used to have exercise-induced asthma, which was a serious problem when he was biking up mountains. He discovered, however, that he was gluten-intolerant, and when he cut gluten out of his diet: poof! no asthma. Since then, I’ve tried eliminating gluten from my diet, and even though my mom and brother felt that doing so had profoundly advantageous physical effects, I didn’t really notice a difference. I did, however, become aware of how much wheat was in my diet, so I decided to cut down just in favor of nutritional diversity. But there was no way I was giving up my toast, and luckily, brown rice bread came to the rescue. It makes amazing toast.
Rice bread isn’t great for sandwiches or generally eating it plain — it’s really dense and a bit sweet — but it makes damn good toast. The inside is so soft and sweet that the butter provides a wonderful salty contrast. (I’ve gotten fairly simple tastes when it comes to toast: I don’t need jam or marmalade or Nutella — I can’t buy Nutella; I will just eat globs of it from the jar — just a good glazing of butter, but don’t skimp now. Dry toast with just a tiny scrape of butter is so pitiful.)
Once, when I was in high school, I had a toast-related trauma. I was on my period, and in those days I had mad hormonal mood swings as part of my PMS, so my ability to handle disappointment was almost non-existent. One weekend day, I woke up sick with cramps and all I wanted was to make some toast and lie on the couch watching TV. I walked into our family room and saw my dad and brother watching a soccer game on the television, and when I turned to the kitchen, there was no toaster oven. It had burned up the previous week — caught on fire and everything! during dinner! it was rather exciting — and my dad and brother were supposed to buy another one while my mom and I were out of town visiting colleges. They clearly had not replaced the toaster. I looked at them on the couch, then at the empty countertop where the toaster oven used to be, and turned on my heel and walked back down the hall, all the way into the bathroom, at which point I stood with my forehead against the wall and cried quietly. My mom found me like that a few minutes later and was basically like “wtf.” She made me take a bath and managed to make me toast in our oven. My mother is wonderful.
3. Oh yeah: THE HUNGER GAMES!!!
I know you’re tired of hearing about The Hunger Games — they’re all over every form of media — but that’s too bad. Pipe down — I’m even more crazy enthusiastic about this one.
I love these books. I was really surprised how into them I got. I basically sobbed my way through the second and third ones; I was terrified my favorite characters were going to die, which, considering the high body count in these things, was quite likely. I fell in love with Katniss, who has been touted as a refreshingly feminist heroine, which I think she is, but not just because of her survival skills, talent with a bow and arrow, and her defiance. She is also a deeply emotional creature and spends significant portions of the second and third books basically catatonic because the people she loves keep being killed and kidnapped and tortured all around her. Katniss can be strong by masculine standards while retaining the emotional qualities that society traditional labels “feminine.” Peeta’s main strengths, similarly, are his compassion and emotional intelligence — again, “feminine” attributes — though he’s not exactly a wimp with a weapon, either. In addition to giving Katniss two very different choices of lover, Gale and Peeta also present two complicated and contrasting options for what it means to be masculine. (Kelsey Wallace has a great meditation on this over at Bitch Magazine online.)
Apart from the gender dynamics, though, and the extensive social commentary that I’m not going to get into right now, The Hunger Games books are awesome because you cannot put them down. Plot gets a lot of shit in the literary scene for being literature’s baser element, a sort of necessary evil, but the phenomenon that The Hunger Games has become is a helpful reminder of the power of plot. Stories entrance, compel, and change us as human beings, so you can scoff at The Hunger Games and pick up your copy of Gravity’s Rainbow instead, but there’s something about the visceral experience of narrative that should be valued just as much as a heightened aesthetic experience.
Now, as for the film franchise, I thought the movie was generally very successful, though I thought it took out a lot of the political commentary that is in the book and that the filmmakers botched a few important moments (as well as cutting out some of my favorite moments from the book — Katniss shouting “Peeta!” from the tree and then clapping her hands over her mouth? That moment is gold!). Maybe it’s a function of the PG-13 rating and the studio’s need to market to young teenagers, but the movie is basically Hunger Games Light, less violent, less complex, with less drastic consequences for the characters. In the novel, Katniss is really beat up at the end of the Games and Peeta is literally seconds away from death — he ends up having his leg amputated and the doctors that rescue him and Katniss from the arena have to restart his heart, twice — while in the film they’re just dirty with a couple of bruises and small cuts. Still, the movie was quite an accomplishment in terms of its faithfulness to the books’ significance and tone; I’m not sure if even the final Harry Potter movies felt as in step with their source material as The Hunger Games film.
Bottom line: I LOVE IT.
4. Faux fur’s becoming popular!
Since I love animals so desperately, I can’t handle real fur. I discovered yesterday, reading an interview with him in GQ, that Drake has a $5000 arctic fox fur bomber jacket. No. Not okay. Little foxes!! Suffice it to say I now like Drake less. I was never in love with him like some people, but I will not forgive this fox thing. Foxes are my spirit animal.
But while real fur is super not okay, in my opinion, I still love soft things. I especially love when my clothing is really soft. I never thought I’d be into faux fur — it always seemed so gaudy; also, Gotti — but this past season’s batch of higher quality acrylic stuff, as well as my changing fashion sense and decision that my clothing isn’t weird enough (seriously: I sometimes stand in front of my mirror and think, “This outfit isn’t weird enough”) but I’ve come to be a sucker for faux fur. It’s fuzzy! If I can pet my clothing, I’m on board.
5. Water (specifically, drinking it) !
I love water in general: the ocean, rain, rivers, lakes — I go apeshit for that stuff. In my daily life, though, water is most important as something that I consume in large quantities. I drink more water than anyone I’ve ever encountered, with the possible exception of my mother.
One time, in college, I was in a professor’s office at around 10 am, carrying my usual Nalgene, which holds something like 36 ounces. Since this was my first appointment of the day, it was full. My professor gestured to it and said, “Are you really going to drink all that?” When I replied in the affirmative, she was impressed. “I never drink enough water. I consume so much coffee.” I nodded in understanding and we launched into the discussion I’d come to have. During our half hour conference, I emptied my Nalgene of about 30 of my 36 ounces.
I’m the person that the busboy has to come back to every five minutes because my water-glass is empty again. I get really excited if a waiter/waitress leaves a pitcher of water on my table in a restaurant, and I’ll frequent any establishment that has a water cooler or a soda fountain where I can refill my water bottle.
I love water. It’s delicious and it makes my body run better and it doesn’t have any calories and it gives me something to do during awkward pauses in class.
Gossip Girl is trashy and ridiculous, filled with improbable events and characters that I find abhorrent. And yet, it’s also awesome. Anything that involves Chuck or Blair is entertaining. Case in point: consider Dan Humphrey. He’s so annoying a friend and I once had a “Who is more annoying, Dan Humphrey or Finn Hudson” conversation, and we basically came to an impasse because both of them so desperately need someone to shake them by the shoulders and yell, “What is wrong with you? You’re living in a dream world!” I find Dan Humphrey so distasteful that I didn’t realize I find Penn Badgley (the actor who plays Dan) attractive until I saw him opposite Emma Stone in Easy A (stellar movie, btw — so erudite; also, Stanley Tucci). Watching Badgley as Woodchuck Todd in Easy A (you must see this film if you haven’t already), I realized he’s actually pretty cute. And not irrevocably obnoxious. It’s just his character on GG that I find so repellant. And yet, now that Dan is dating Blair, I find him and plot points involving him amusing. Although even Blair can’t save his hair. It looks like a marmot died on his head.
Blair’s redemptive powers are great. She’s a fierce woman with unapologetic ambition and no patience for other people’s bullshit. Also, a gold Burberry Prorsum trench coat.
The writers have included some things in the last few episodes that I think totally betray Blair as a character, but these infractions aside, you can always count on Blair to have a witty barb, an inventive scheme, and truly excellent designer clothes. Unlike Serena, who, in addition to continually setting new records of cluelessness and entitled indignation, dresses like a trashy sixteen-year-old who shops at Forever 21 and Wet Seal and Bebe:
and then she turns around and thinks a lace-edged romper and a sequined vest are acceptable sleep apparel:
As for Chuck Bass, earlier this season he referred to USA Today as “the newspaper for people who can’t read” and he recently adopted a dog that he named Monkey. Also, actor Ed Westwick has perfected a deep voice full of both disdain and apathy that implicitly says, “Serena, I can’t believe I’m in having another conversation about how you’re still in love with Humphrey — after five years! I have a billion dollars. I could be doing literally anything else. If you weren’t Blair’s best friend, I guarantee you’d have ‘mysteriously disappeared’ long ago.”
That, my friends, is a hooded red onesie. I rest my case.
Nate should be embarrassed by how normal his workout clothes are. Embarrassed.
When I see a dog in public, I have to concentrate on utilizing all my self-control in order not to run up to it and hug it. “That is someone else’s dog. She will be freaked out if you scream and sprint toward her and then start hugging it.”
I can barely help myself. I just fucking love dogs!!
I can be a cynical person. I think that the US Government is, in the worst case scenario, evil, and in the best case scenario, spectacularly incompetent. I don’t trust corporations and the all-pervasive consumerism of our country makes me very uncomfortable. HOWEVER, I love Disneyland. I love it. I realize that Disney is a multinational corporation that is doing tons of stuff I don’t agree with and that even their that movies I love from my childhood perpetuate harmful racial and gender stereotypes, but I just don’t care. Outside Disneyland, sure, these things are a problem, but inside those gates, I’m at The Happiest Place on Earth, and I plan on having the best fucking time possible.
I went to Disneyland with my two best friends to celebrate my 19th birthday, and my best guy friend, S, does not revere Disneyland in the way I do. I think he’d only previously been there once, as like a seven-year-old, and he thought we were going to approach our time in Walt’s fantasy kingdom with the same sarcasm cynicism that we apply to so many other things in life, but he was so wrong. Right after we’d entered the park, he made some comment that was not vehemently pro-Disneyland, and I almost ate his face.
“I have basically no areas in my life in which I have maintained my childlike sense of wonder. I enjoy lots of things, but it’s really hard for me to do so unreservedly, to open myself up to the untempered joy of an experience. Disneyland is basically the one place that makes me feel childlike rapturous wonder and if you take that from me I will end your life.”
Suffice it to say, S was amenably positive for the rest of the day.
Now, don’t even get me started on the glories of Disney World…
9. THE OLYMPICS!!!
THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING THE OLYMPICS ARE COMING AHHHH!!!
Generally, I’m not a huge sports person. The friends who’ve seen me at Stanford football games can attest to the fact that when I do focus on a sport, though, I get really fucking into it. Screaming, swearing, gesticulating wildly — and soccer matches are possibly even worse.
The Olympics are pretty much my favorite thing ever. Not Olympics time? Sports — eh. Olympics time? Oh my gods what is on is that curling I must watch it!
In my mind, Olympics are the ultimate competition and winning an Olympic medal the highest honor an athlete can attain. Of course, in certain sports (mostly uber-popular team sports), other championships might take precedent in terms of prestige, such as the World Cup for soccer, but in my mind, when I’m watching the Olympics, this moment is the most important moment in this person’s career, period. That’s what gets me screaming at a biathlon with people shooting on skis in the snowy wilderness, what gets me crying about some diver and her arduous journey to get here.
The Olympics are a perpetual waterworks for me. Put on almost any medals ceremony and I’ll just burst out in tears.
I love it. I love Bob Costas, I love the video bios for the athletes, I love the special NBC Olympics music. I love seeing athletes whose careers I’ve followed compete. I love rooting with my whole heart for someone I just found out existed twenty minutes ago. I love watching sports I normally don’t give the time of day. Mostly, I love the emotionality of it — the joy, the agony, the disappointment, the triumph. I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT.
When do the Olympics start again? July 27? Bomb. GET READY PEOPLE!! LONDON 2012!!!!
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.
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.
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!
(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.)
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).
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.
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.
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.
Basically, I need to get a Jack Russell stat – but I guess I’d settle for Bradley Cooper, Ewan McGregor, or Ryan Gosling instead.