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Hipstercrite: January 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Art of Seat Filling

fresh off the bus

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my early years in Los Angeles. This is due to the fact my first employers in Hollywood have been nominated for multiple honors this award season and I've been joyfully watching them on TV as they walk to the stage to receive their statues. There is a good chance they will be bringing home some Oscars this year as well.

I moved to Los Angeles when I was 20 after being offered a job at said employer's company while interning there. Before my internship ended, I interviewed the president of the company for a class project and within our three hour meeting, he asked if I wanted to be his assistant. I was shocked. I politely reminded him that not only did I have zero experience in Los Angeles, but I was still a student and completely clueless as to the ways of the world.

He assured me that I would learn.

It was then I knew that my life would change forever.

I remember getting into my car, The Beatles "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" playing on the radio. A mix of unbelievable excitement that I had never felt before and absolute terror pinned me to my seat as I drove back to my dorm room. I called my folks and said with quivering certainty, "I think I'm moving to LA..."

The semester quickly ended and I flew home to tie up some loose ends. I met with the Dean of my school and explained that I was leaving to go work for a celebrity. I cried for a week straight as I knew that the end of my relationship with my high school boyfriend was near. I recall my mother throwing me my 21st birthday party three weeks before the actual date because I was going to be celebrating it with absolutely no one once I arrived in Los Angeles.

On June 1st, 2004, I got on that plane to Los Angeles to start my life.

And boy, was it a roller coaster.

But every second was worth it.

I had so many wonderful and weird and humbling and exhausting moments in Los Angeles. Some that I've forgotten, many that I miss, and a few I hope to never experience again. An occurrence marked under "exciting" was being a seat filler at the Screen Actors Guild Awards my first few weeks in Los Angeles (when I was still an intern).

I first ended up in Los Angeles by participating in my college's abroad program. The program helped to facilitate internships for their students while they studied. Outside of school, they made sure we were actively entertained with sitcom tapings, studio lot tours, and the occassional award show seat filling. Seat filling opportunities were rare to come by and only a few students were selected. For whatever reason I happed to be one of the chosen for the 2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards at Shrince Auditorium. I was so piss my pants excited that I didn't even think about the fact that my only formal dress in Los Angeles was my high school prom backup gown. Meaning it wasn't even my actual prom dress.

The evening started like any normal evening with seeing a dead body laying in the middle of Interstate 110. No bigs. A dude had decided to jump from the 3rd street overpass into the 7-lane freeway specifically to make us late to the award show.

We pulled up to the USC campus traumatized. We had been in Los Angeles no more than three weeks and I was about to see a dead body AND Clint Eastwood all in one night.

Seat filling doesn't sound difficult, but there is an art to it. Normally a seat filler arrives to an award show in their formal wear, and gets thrown into line with 50-100 others. You're then led into the auditorium like cattle and told to wait in the wings. When a seat opens up and you're next in line, you are to go sit in the appointed empty seat. This seat could be empty due to the guest being in the restroom, onstage to present an award, or onstage receiving an award. There are to be no empty seats in an award show and they'd much rather have you pretending to be Jack Nicholson than having a sparse looking crowd. Once the guest comes back to their seat, you are to get up and go back to the end of the line.

This is the part I didn't adhere to. Our beloved teacher who was an expert seat filler instructed us not to go back into line, where we would most likely not have the chance to seat fill again that evening, but to find the next available empty seat and just sit in it. That is exactly what I did, and I spent the entire evening hopping from table to table sitting at the Lord of the Rings table, the Mystic River Table, the Monk table, one of the police drama show tables, and so on. I sat next to Sean Astin who was as sweet as could be and asked me where I was from and gave me his bread sticks to eat. I stepped on Jane Leeves foot and she gave me a crotchety look. I sat in Karl Malden's seat as the 92 year-old was onstage to receive a lifetime achievement award. The highlight of the evening was when I plopped myself in an empty seat next to the stage and quickly picked up that I was in Clint Eastwood's seat. I realized this after I noticed that Sean Penn was sitting to my right and Tim Robbins was sitting to my left. This realization unnerved me and I suddenly became extremely self-conscious of my gaze and movement. I tried to avoid eye contact with everyone at the table and focused on my fingers in my lap. It took me a second to realize that Sean Penn made a joke directed at me. He nudged Tim Robbins, pointed to me and said, "And they say that Clint Eastwood didn't have plastic surgery..."

Eastwood's wife was very sweet and chatted me up but I knew it was time to go when a dark shadow cast over the table and I could feel a heavy presence standing behind me. I tried my best not to look at, touch, or acknowledge Clint Eastwood out of fear that his his voice alone would break me like a twig.

Just when it started to get fun, the evening ended and I was to go back to my normal life as a student. I called my mom who immediately started screaming in the phone that she saw me at least four or five times on the TV. She was so proud of her daughter that she ordered still shots from her VHS recording and they now adorn one of her most prized scrapbooks.

Little did I know at the time that this was the beginning of five years of experiencing this stuff. Once you join the machinery of it all, jadedness kicks in and the excitement you once experienced becomes a thing of the past. Though I miss those times hobnobbing with Hollywood's rich and famous, it took me moving to Austin to fully appreciate all that I got to experience. I can now look back and remember the excitement I felt those first few months in Los Angeles and that may be worth more than anything.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Story of the Thief Who Wasn't There

the picture that distracted me from impending death

It's 4:30AM and I can't sleep.

This may or may not have to do with the fact that the police were just in my house.

They were here because I called them, because I was convinced someone was in the house, because I might be losing my mind.

I woke like lightening to the sound of footsteps and the ruffling of a bag in our tiny two-bedroom house located in East Austin. My roommate wasn't home and no one else has a key to the house, so my mind began racing. I didn't know what to do- I was petrified- so I did what any logical terrified young girl would do and checked my Facebook and Twitter profiles. Some friends made comments about a photo of myself I posted earlier in the evening. They said I looked like MILF and that made me smile- even though I'm not a mom.

After getting lost in the adulation of my sexy mom poses, additional footsteps snapped me back to reality and I knew I had to think fast. Scanning the room I saw I had nothing of weight or intimidation to attack the perpetrator with, so I grabbed my Swiffer mop and froze like a blinded doe waiting for the impact of a forthcoming vehicle. I listened for a break in the footsteps and ran like a steam engine out of my room- Swiffer mop a 'swingin'.

No one was there. Not a human, not a mouse, not even a cockroach.

This did not deter my positivity that something was in the house, so I went into the kitchen and grabbed the biggest knife we had- an Ikea paring knife. Armed with my Swiffer mop and Ikea knife, I walked towards the front door, ready to bolt into the night at the sound of any more movement. I heard my roommate's door open and I certainly bolted, down the street, in my silk robe, my Swiffer in one hand, the knife in the other. I stood on the street corner shivering as I dialed 911.

Before I finished sharing the details to the 911 dispatcher, the police were already at my house. They told me to drop the Ikea knife and sit in the back seat of the squad car. They walked into my house, armed with much more than a plastic rod with a static sheet attached to the end of it. I sat in the cold, hard backseat, my knees shaking, waiting anxiously for the perpetrator to run out of the house with police in tow. What felt like an eternity passed, until finally one of the police officers came to let me out of the backseat.

"Uh...there is no one in there", he said to me.

"What?! That's impossible!" I said, "I know I heard someone!"

I entered the house and did a walk-thru with the police officers. There was indeed no one in the house and nothing had been touched.

The conclusion we came to is that there was a raccoon or possum underneath the house and because this is an old Sears catalog home from the 1930's, noises under the house sound like they're under your face. This does not explain the door opening though. I asked the cops if my roommate's door was open when they entered and they said no. I shook my head in disbelief. "Is this how schizophrenia starts?" I quietly thought to myself as I smiled and apologized to the police officers. They were sweet and understanding of my overreaction and smiled as they quietly thought, "This chick has baaaad morning breath."

The police are now gone and I'm left to my thoughts about what just happened. The initial adrenaline has now been replaced by embarrassment as I realized there is a good chance a boob or two popped out of my robe as I shook like a Chihuahua in the frigid night. I'm thinking about what diseases my ass potentially picked up sitting in the back seat of the squad car too. I'm also convinced that the police were wrong and that there is someone still in the house, masked by an invisible cloak.

Ok, I'm going to try and go back to sleep and post this tomorrow morning. Thanks for listening and if there is a lesson to be learned in this post it's that Swiffer mops, Ikea knives, and checking Facebook profiles will do nothing to save you during an emergency. Absolutely nothing at all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's Blog Redesign Time

Every once in awhile I get a giant bug in my ass to change my blog.
Much like changing your hair color once a boyfriend breaks up with you, I'm constantly anxious to shake things up a bit when I'm feeling complacent.

In the past, this anxiety typically builds and builds until one night I'm pacing the living room, drinking wine out of a juice box, and watching the same episodes of Arrested Development over and over for inspiration. Then I usually get distracted by something else and end up making only minute changes to my blog or dropping the idea all together.

However, this time I can't shake the desire to make a change. It's been months in the making and now has reached a point where if I don't make a change, I fear that I'll begin resenting my blog and shooting it disdainful glances when I wake up in the morning.

This may all sound a little over-dramatic, but I'm sure many of you can relate to wanting the aesthetic of a product of yours looking snazzy. Outside of looking more polished, I also want to make the blog more functional. However, that is what I'm in the process of figuring out.

This is where you come in.

As of now, Hipstercrite is a common one-column blog that broaches topics anywhere from the personal to pop culture to fashion to music to film. What I would like to do is have a more Gawker-style blog, with shorter post blocks in one column. This means I will be writing more posts in a day and they will fit into different categories such as "Pop Culture", "Lifestyle", "Austin", "Social Media" etc. There will be tabs at the top of the blog to go to these individual categories as well. I want to broaden my blog, in other words. If there is a new Austin band I like, I want to be able to write about it and then stick it on my Austin page. If there is a new social media-driven non-profit sprouting up somewhere, I want to write about it and stick it on my Social Media page. If I want to write a list about the Top Ten Best Photos of Nicolas Cage's Hair Plugs, I want to stick it in my Pop Culture section. If I want to write about how my blog has become more important than dating, I want to stick that in my Lifestyle section. This is a way for me to talk about more things that I want to talk about and support other writers, musicians, creative thinkers, and innovators. That doesn't mean that I won't talk about my own personal adventures. In fact, I hope that this will help me write more concise personal posts. The voice of my blog won't change- it will just get louder and bigger.


My question to you, dear reader, is will this change be welcomed or do you think it's unnecessary?

Secondly, should I migrate over to Wordpress or should I stay loyal to the platform that has been so good to me and figure out a way to get the changes that I need?

Thirdly, if anyone is interested in helping me understand all of this. I'd love to talk with you.

Fourthly, what do you guys think of Disqus? 

Fifthly, does anyone else feel like they need a blog mentor because figuring out this shit is hard.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LOOK AT CUTE PICTURE OF DOG HERE


"Hey, Mom, how's it going today?"

"GET DOWN! I SAID GET DOWN!"

"Oh, really, that sounds great."

"HEY! YOU! STOP IT RIGHT THERE, MISSY!"

"Nice. I had a pretty relaxing day too."

"NO! WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR MOUTH?! WHAT. DO. YOU. HAVE. IN. YOUR. MOUTH??"

"Grandma has been constipated for three days now? Sheesh."

"YOU ARE BEING SUCH A BRAT! YOU KNOW THAT? YOU KNOW THAT YOU'RE BEING A BRAT? HUH?"

"Oh shit, I think my leg is on fire. I gotta go, Mom. "

(shock)
"YOU DID NOT JUST DO THAT! GET BACK HERE. YOU GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!"

(phone drops, inaudible scrambling in background)

Sigh

I used to be an only child. The world used to revolve around me.
Until she came along...


It's difficult learning to share a parent at 22 years old.
It's particularly difficult to share a parent with something that is not human.
You can't reason with a 13-pound Jack Russell Terrier. You just can't.
They think the world revolves around them too. So, having an only child and a Jack Russell Terrier in the same room is no good. We compete.
And we'll compete for the affection of the woman we both call "Mom"...TO THE DEATH.

Five years after our Beagle-Husky-Peter Lorre mix, Samantha, passed away and one year after I moved to California, my mother decided it was time to get a dog. What possessed her to choose a Jack Russell Terrier is beyond me. Friends and neighbors pleaded with her not to get a notoriously pint-sized Tasmanian Devil on crack, but she had already fallen in love with a little runt she was to call "Lucy".


When Lucy joined the family, I ceased to exist as offspring of the family. T-shirts and pictures with my mug on it were swapped out with snapshots of EVERY FREAKIN' ADORABLE MOMENT LUCY EVER PRODUCED. And when you're a puppy, that's every God forsaken second. Do you know how many pictures exist of this dog? Do you know how many times my Grandma refers to her as her daughter? Do you know how many times I've called my mother only to have her talk to the dog the entire conversation? Waaaay too many times for this spoiled brat to dig. Lucy knew she was the preferred child now. When I come home to visit, she'll lean in and growl at me any time I go to hug or kiss my mother. This is her turf now. I know this because there is a door mat that welcomes visitors at the house with her likeness on it. 

Lucy and my dynamic is not all combative though. In fact, when home, I often wake to find the dog spooning me. I'll turn over to see her bright brown eyes staring at me, a little paw draped over my chest. "What is this Lucy? What are you doing?" She gives me a look as if everything is ok, all the contempt is gone during those early morning moments. "I'm cool which you, Lauren," it's as if she says, "It's cool. There is enough room in the family for both of us now." Then she gets up and exits the room, leaving me in the wake of her bi-polar behavior.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Am I a Hipster?


Hipster Scorecard

1.) I wear non-prescription glasses, suspenders, and ties (bow included) (-1 for wearing glasses THAT I DON'T FUCKING NEED)

Yes, that is a fanny pack

2.) However, I've been wearing non-prescription glasses, suspenders, and ties since I was six years old and didn't even know what a hipster was (+1 for being the coolest kid ever, even though I was called "dyke" on a daily basis in middle school)

3.) For having a car as my main mode of transportation (+1 for not being environmentally conscious)

4.) I'm always six months behind on what the hot new indie band is (+1 for still loving, and I mean loving, Lindsey Buckingham)

5.) I don't wear pencil jeans, I'm not a size zero, and I typically smile (+1 for not being an emo kid disguised as a hipster)

6.) There exists many pictures of me wearing mustaches (-1 for having penis envy)

The Selleck

7.) I live in Austin, TX (-1 for living in the town that gets written up about in EVERY GOD FORSAKEN PUBLICATION)

8.) At least I'm not in Williamsburg (+1 for being smart enough not to be broke in New York City)

9.) But I did TRY living in a raw loft in Downtown Los Angeles where I'd listen to rats run alongside my bed at night and am pretty sure a cockroach fell onto my face while sleeping (-1 for trying waaaaay too hard)

10.) I don't walk/stand like I have polio in my legs (+1 for having good posture and not deluding myself into thinking a Lookbook profile means I'm interesting)

11.) I worked for a company whose name is an exclaimed adjective followed by an exclaimed adverb in a warehouse on Austin's Eastside (-1 for trying to be so LES 1977)

12.) You will never catch me wearing a t-shirt or sweatshirt with any of the following on it 1.) wolves 2.) moon 3.) wolves barking at moon 4.) horses galloping towards moon 5.) moons making love to moons 6.) cats with laser eyes 7.) cats shooting lasers at moons with wolves and horses galloping on it (+1 for just not getting the whole moon/wolf/horses/cat obsession)

13.) I don't wear flannel (+1). Except this one time....and it's an American Apparel photo shoot (-10,000)

Girl, what is up with those glasses?

14.) I worship David Byrne (-1 for loving the ultimate hipster)

15.) I don't drink beer. Or PBR. Or Four Loko. Oh wait! Four Loko tastes like candy, doesn't it? Mmmm.... (+1 for priding myself on not having a muffin top)

16.) I don't wear Tom's (+1 for not wanting arthritis when I'm older)

17.) I would totally carry around a Diana or Holga if I had one -(-1 for mistaking low fidelity as artistic talent)

18.) I once stayed at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland and didn't get it. Could have been because I was with my Mom who thought that the Ikea aesthetic and condom on the nightstand wasn't worth the $100/night. (+1 for never once looking at Elliott Smith's mural in the five years I lived in L.A.)

19.) I wear American Apparel (-1)

20.) I worked part-time at American Apparel (-4,000,000)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just Kids: What is Art?


Last night I finished Patti Smith's book about her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids. Lying in bed with tears rolling down into my neck, I had so many thoughts racing through my head. Life, death, New York, art, the artist, the idea that a love can transcend multiple planes. I laid still, taking in everything I had just read and letting it permeate. It was a good book and I enjoyed the journey.

However, during my time reading Just Kids, there was an underlying current that kept gnawing at my psyche. An idea that made me question my own views on art and the artist. Mid-way through the book I began questioning the validity of the two characters. I chastised them both for being directionless, for creating for the sake of creating with seeming disregard to what the medium was. To me, they appeared to be waiting for something to stick. Robert in particular bothered me for his creative ambitions seemed to solely revolve around fame and fortune. His creative outlets were more erratic as he desperately tried finding what would catch. My faith in him as an artist wavered even more when it appeared his art centered more around being shocking than anything else.

My idea of an artist has always been someone who was either blessed from the womb with an artistic gift or knew very early on what their artistic path in life would be and they spent years cultivating that craft. To me, Patti and Robert seemed like two lost souls, trying the roulette wheel of creative mediums until one finally gave way to them.

This idea picked up greater steam when I thought about the other "characters" in the book. Characters like Andy Warhol, The Factory gang, Lou Reed, and Richard Hell. All artists who are not necessarily know for being masters of their craft, but masters of wanting to be masters of their craft...and looking good while doing it. People who dedicated so much time and energy to their cause, that the illusion became bigger than the product and in turn, they became symbols of art. This ocean of floating tokens became known as the Great East Village Sea and it was filled with others just like them. Like Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. They all became a representation of a time where everyone was attempting the same goal. In Just Kids, Patti critiques the view of Robert's idol, Andy Warhol, by saying "I preferred an artist who transformed his time, not mirrored it" and I can't help but feel the same can be said for Patti and Robert.

For the lack of a better word, I saw them as scenesters. Very good at creating the idea of who they are and what they contributed to the world.

This led me to think about the overall view towards East Village in the 70's and 80's. Such a saturated time of artists, progressives, intellects, and weirdos. It is a time that many of us emulate. We curse our parents for not birthing us sooner. We think maybe, maybe in a past life I was one of them too. I wonder why do we idolize them? And the answer I came up with was because they've shown us that if the desire is strong enough, we can be like them too. It didn't look that hard to be an artist.

At this point you're probably shaking your head, already coming up with your retort in the comment section. At least I hope you are. However, I have to tell you, after finishing the book, I came to think a different way. After reading about the decades of dedication and sacrifices Patti and Robert made for the sake of art, I came to the conclusion that there isn't just one definition of an artist. An artist doesn't necessarily have to be Michelangelo or Beethoven to contribute to the world. They also don't have to create a product that every single person can relate to. The reason why Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and the hundreds of other unique artists that came out of New York at that time are so popular is because they continue to inspire generations to come- including myself.

And when you really boil it down, isn't that what being a good artist is all about?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trapped in the Closet: The Audience Participation Guide


Once in awhile a movie comes along that really makes you stop and think. A movie that makes you question the very essence of our existence. The nature of Mankind and the dilemma of choice.

A movie that revives your faith in artists, the act of creating, and the quality of work that is being birthed into the world.

A movie that makes you laugh, cry, sing, jump up and cheer, take off your pants and start humping the living room floor.

A movie like Trapped in the Closet.

There is no finer hip-hopera set in Chicago than R.Kelly's roman a clef about closet hiding, Beretta wielding, crusty-ass ho'ing, and midget porking. R. Kelly has single-handedly created, owned, and destroyed a genre with this film.

Released in 2005 and 2007, the Trapped in the Closet saga now boasts 22 chapters with more rumored to come. The story follows the epic journey of Sylvester (played by R. Kelly, which coincidentally is his middle name) and the trials and tribulations of being a player in Chi-town. The film begins with him waking in another woman's bed, which spurns a series of events where everyone on the planet is obviously boinking one another. Some guns get whipped out, some pie gets eaten , and a midget shits himself in the process.

Many people make fun of Trapped in the Closet.

I'm not sure why?

Like Coppola to Apocalypse Now, this is a story that Kelly would stop at nothing to tell. The heart and conviction he put into his masterpiece is evident and his determination should be commended. Not only did he write the story and music, he also played, not 1, not 2, but 5 characters in Trapped in the Closet- Sylvester, the Narrator, Randolph (a cantankerous old man who lives next door to Sylvester), Rev. Mosley James Evans (a God-fearing preacher), and Pimp Lucious (a completely random stuttering pimp).

Considering the cult status of Trapped in the Closet, I'm surprised to discover that no Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque audience participation yet exists. As far as I know. Bitches, let me know if I'm wrong, then I'll delete this post and cry for all the freakin' time I spent working on it.

At some point, I'd like to host a full audience participation-style screening equipped with costumed viewers, props, and shout-outs. This is my dream.

Coming up with a shout-out script was mo-fo'ing difficult. I've realized that watching years of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has done NOTHING for my sense of humor. Any suggestions are welcome!

Below is a sample of my goal:


Trapped in the Closet: Audience Participation Guide

Character Costumes:
Sylvester/Narrator- a suit and tie, sunglasses, cornrows, necklace, God-like disposition
Kathy/Mary- a wig and nightie
Rufus- a Pastor's collar
Chuck- a J. Crew sweater and diamond earring
Gwendolyn- a velour matching track suit
Sgt. James- a police's uniform, cigarette
Twon- white t-shirt, jeans, sideways baseball cap
Bridget- a house dress and pie
Big Man- a fireman's stripper outfit and boa


Props:
Toy guns (for any time "Beretta" is mentioned or pulled out)
Condom (for the line, "Oh my God, a rubber....rubber...rubber)
Spatula (for scenes with Rosie)
Toliet paper (for when Big Man shits himself)
Toy beeper to press anytime someone swears.


Example of Audience Participation: (what to shout out is written in red)

Fade in: Chicago skyline

Title card: R. Kelly (Doo Doo Butter!)

Title card: Trapped in the Closet

Seven o’clock in the morning (porning)
And the rays from the sun wakes me
I’m stretchin’ and yawnin’ (and bumpin' and grindin')
In a bed that don’t belong to me
And a voice yells, “Good morning, darlin”, from the bathroom (closet)
Then she comes out and kisses me
And to my surprise, she ain’t you (R.Kelly)

Now I’ve got this dumb look on my face (what else is new?)
Like, what have I done?
How could I be so stupid to be have laid here til the morning sun? (because you're R. Kelly)
Must have lost the track of time
Oh, what was on my mind? (little girls)
From the club, went to her home
Didn’t plan to stay that long (but I listened to my dong)

Prince Pubic Hair Jeff Goldblum Boner Time

My mother always taught me to aim high and by God she taught me well for you see, Ladies and Gentlemen, I've discovered that when one Googles "Prince pubic hair", "Freddie Mercury chest hair" and "Jeff Goldblum boner" Hipstercrite is the very first search result that comes up on Google.

I know what you're thinking- that is some pretty impressive shit.

Well, it took me a very long time to get to Prince Pubic Hair Freddie Mercury Chest Hair Jeff Goldblum Boner status in life. I knew when I was a little girl that it would be a difficult task but one day, I would achieve such notoriety.

It wasn't an easy journey though.

The first time I wrote about Prince's pubic hair it caused strain on the relationship between my father and I. It was in the early stages of my blog and boundaries had yet been established between what my parents and my blog. My Dad, at the time, thought my blog was a parental buffet of offspring information and was surprised when he read my post about Prince's pubic hair. I mean, my father did overreact a bit. It wasn't an entire post devoted to Prince's creepy crawlies or anything. The post was simple devotional reminder of believing in oneself. Here is the part that most upset my father:

I'll never forget...I was at a photo exhibit for a rock n' roll photographer. She had these wonderfully intimate portraits and live shots of popular musicians in the early 80's. I'm scanning the wall, studying each photograph intently.
I get to a picture of Prince and it's just of his bush.
All bush.
He was wearing a lamé speedo and had pubes coming out of every which direction. They were slowly taking over his whole body. I look at Prince's smiling face. He knew his pubes were awesome. He was giving me that look, "Baby, these pubes are for you."


So when I begin questioning myself, for example, with something like "Hey, Lauren, maybe texting that boy more than once though he never responds might seem a little dumb?" I now think, "No, no it's not. If I were Prince, I would show up at that guy's house in my lamé hot shorts, pubes hanging out everywhere, phallic guitar strapped to my chest, a raging jheri curl, and sing: "baby, what does it take 2 have u text me back? is it another girl? does she wear diamonds and pearls? boy, i love the way your body moves. there ain't nothing that's gonna keep me from u. i think i love u."

After reading this post my father threatened to "defriend" me on Facebook and I had to get my mother, his ex-wife of 20 years, to intervene. We've now established rules and my parents will not read my blog unless I specifically tell them to. I know it sounds harsh, but this is for everyone's benefit...and for me to write posts about them.

As for the "Jeff Goldblum boner", that is a story I don't share with my folks though they've seen the photo where said boner occurred a million times. In fact, my mother has it framed above her desktop computer. Listen, faring through a Jeff Goldblum boner attack just so I could be the top search result when Googling "Jeff Goldblum boner" was not easy. Just look at my face.

As for "Freddie Mercury chest hair", many of you have seen the pic and heard about it, so I won't beat that very hairy dead horse. For the ones who haven't, in short, I seem to talk about Freddie's chest hair A LOT and even attempted to physically embrace it on Halloween. See below:


In addition to the aforementioned search words, another very popular searched phrase on my blog is "hairy gay men". In fact, it's so popular, I'm beginning to think that everyone in the world is into them. I get great satisfaction from the idea that many horny gay dudes, out of hopes of seeing a photo of a dazzling hairy bear, instead come face-to-face with a picture of a young white girl with what looks like Robin Williams shavings Spirit-Gummed to her chest.

One day I hope to make a t-shirt that says, "Prince Pubic Hair Freddie Mercury Chest Hair Jeff Goldblum Boner", or a crown, but in the meantime, I'll try to keep coming up with search words of ironic cultural icons and their body parts.


What are the most popular or suggestive search results for your blog?

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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Plight of the Only Child


I'm a left-handed Jewish only child Gemini female from a divorced family.

Well, Taurus now if you ask whomever the hell came up with the new Zodiacs.

I know what you're thinking. After re-reading the first sentence, I'm thinking the same thing too.

She must be a lot of work.

It's easy to think that if you believe the stereotypes regarding left-handers, Jews, former Geminis, females, and only children. Oy vey! Do they write nasty things about only children! Just the other day I came across an article where they describe only children as "narcissistic", "self-centered", "stubborn", "autonomous", "alienating", "loners", "aloof" and "odd".

How dare they!

They left out "uniquely gifted", "supremely intelligent", and "God's greatest gift to the world", duh.

What I read about only children both enlightened and scared the living shit out of me. Some publications try to give us the benefit of the doubt and state that the generalizations of only children are typically not true, but when I began reading the assumed traits, I found myself nodding my head in agreement. Not only for my own behavior, but that of every other God forsaken only child I've ever met.

As Woody Allen stated in Annie Hall about how outsiders view New Yorkers, he said, "Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here." I can't help but feel that everything they say about only children is true too. I've begun to believe what others think but are too polite to say out loud. I think of us as narcissistic, self-centered autonomous loners. And to quote another line from Annie Hall taken from the great Groucho Marx, "I would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member." I'm not sure I would either.

Being an only child means you can smell others of your kind from a mile a way. As soon as you encounter a somewhat boisterous, overly confident, talkative, or strong-minded person, there is a good chance that they're an only child. Or high on coke. I'm not sure there are many non-similarities between the two. We are a distinct breed. Much like the Geminis, we wear our personalities on our sleeves. No secrets. You know exactly who you're dealing with. And that is a mildly balmy person.

Can we be self-centered? Absolutely. It's a little difficult not to be when you haven't had to share a friggin' thing with anyone else. Can we be a loners? Sure. You get used to spending a lot of time hanging out with stuffed animals as a child. Can we be stubborn? F yeah. We're used to getting what we want and we don't handle not getting our way very well. However, I can tell you firsthand that there is a misconception that we're all selfish and bratty turds. Though often narcissistic, only children try to make up for their lack of large family by being very warm and generous to others. In other words, we desperately comb the Earth with our arms outreached hoping that someone, anyone, will take us in.

And we can be interesting as all hell too. As children we often tried impressing the living shit out of adults because we falsely felt that we related better to them and we're pretty well-versed in film and TV because we pretended to be anyplace other than alone in our bedrooms.

As dramatic as the generalization of only children often is, the role is barely discussed in birth order studies. I'd like to think this is because scientists and doctors can't handle our shit. Our awesomeness is obviously so blinding upon exiting the womb that researchers just throw their arms up and say, "I'm spent." All this attention is devoted to analyzing the effects of being the first, middle, or last child, while the only children are left quietly talking to themselves in the corner. If you're the first child you're typically the responsible one, the child you can rely on, who takes charge and is ambitious. If you're the middle child you're stuck in between the stalwart of the family (first born) and the baby of the family (last born) and this confusion causes you to become the black sheep and turn to huffing Reddi-Whip cans for comfort. The last born is typically the jester, the good time kid, the one who coasts on the coattails of their older siblings.

Then there is the only child.

The red-headed step child to ALL OF MANKIND.

Hey, but what they say about only children is not all that bad though.

Time was nice enough to point out only children that helped change the world like Cary Grant and Elvis Presley. One guy who used to spank his wife and trip on LSD and another who ate himself into oblivion and died on the can at the age of 42.

Interesting reads: Only-child Myths Persist As More Parents Choose One Kid


What is your birth order and do you feel that it plays a role in your personality?

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In the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Unsung Women of the Civil Rights Movement


While getting myself reacquainted with Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend, I came to discover a civil rights activist by the name of Daisy Bates who is often minutely discussed in the history books. A force to be reckon with, Daisy Bates was a strong spirited woman who helped call for integration in Arkansas by organizing the Little Rock Nine. The Little Rock Nine was one of the early major events in the Civil Rights Movement wherein nine young African-American children bravely attended the racially divided Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In addition to her leadership in Little Rock, Daisy and her husband, L.C., created one of the first civil rights oriented newspapers called the Arkansas State Press, she was president of the Arkansas NAACP chapter, she served in anti-poverty programs under Johnson's administration , and she was a published author. However, Daisy's journey was not an easy one- she discovered by the teasing of her peers that her mother was raped and killed by white men that she resisted. Her father soon left (or was killed) and she was raised by friends of the family. Though she had great accomplishments and adulation during her lifetime, she died childless, destitute, and paralyzed from multiple strokes.


Reading about Daisy Bates made me think of all the unsung women of the Civil Rights Movement who often are left standing in the shadow of Martin Luther King Jr. Not to discount the inspiration and dedication King gave to the movement, but it is disheartening to know that there are many strong and brave women who also sacrificed so much yet are often left out of the history books. It broke my heart to hear about the women who were honored and spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, yet were not invited to any meeting between civil rights leaders and government dignitaries.

Women like Fannie Lou Hamer who helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer- a campaign to register black voters in a state where their voice was not heard. Or Clara Luper who orchestrated sit-ins in her community of Oklahoma City that helped change segregation policies. Or Dorothy Height, the president of the National Council of Negro Women, who helped organize many of King's marches. Or Ella Baker, a lifelong activist who helped coordinate the civil rights campaigns of the NAACP, King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Southern Conference Education Fund. Coretta Scott King, who not only supported King, but became an activist in her own right- fighting for world peace, LGBT rights, animal rights, and women's rights- after the death of her husband. And of course, Rosa Parks, who bravely refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama- one of the first acts of brave defiance in the 1950's.

So on this day where we celebrate a man who gave his life for the greater good, let's also pay our respects to the women who walked beside him and fought and sacrificed so much. Women whose bravery and determination led the way for generations to come. For behind every great man...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Your Austin Daily Deal Guide

If you're anything like me, you've signed up for a million daily deal emails and they clutter your inbox each morning. Many of them don't interest me, but I leave them there anyways just in case later in the day I change my mind. I usually don't and then I forget about them and that is how I have over 2,000 emails in my inbox.

Daily Deal Coupons are where it's at. In fact, they're quickly taking over the world. Soon enough you'll be cross analyzing your best offers for your next car, your child's college, and your retirement condo.

Considering Austin is one of the leading American cities for technology and startups, it comes as no surprise that not only are most daily deals available here, but some even originated from here!

Below is a comprehensive list of what daily deals are out there (available for Austin and other major cities) and which ones started in Austin. Enjoy!

Please let me know who I'm forgetting!

General
Buy With Me
Fly Coupon
Localiter- Austin based
Social Buy
Tippr- Austin based

Food

Travel
Hotel Coupons
Jetsetter
Living Social Escapes
Room Saver
Sherman Travels
Snique Away
Trip Alertz
Vacationist


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How to Date an Incarcerated Pirate Farmer Who Loves Cats

While perusing one of my favorite websites, 20-Nothings, I came across a recent New York Times article about the rise of niche dating. Wanna date a old wealthy bearded Vegan who loves Macs? Well, then there are plenty of options for you. However, I noticed that a few important demographics were left out of the list and thought I'd include them below.


Pirate Passions- "Pirates Passions be a 100% free social networrrkin' an' online datin' site ferrr buccanneers an' buccanneers at hearrrt"

Free and full of people who absolutely do not look like pirates, this is a great way to get your Capitan Ron freak on. Example of what you will find: "CreepyOlGuy", 43 years old, enjoys eating brains, currently lives on a pirate ship with his wife and children, Pagan.




Cowboy Cowgirl- "Welcome to Cowboy Cowgirl! Where Country meets Country!"

Ever want to date someone who never removes their cowboy hat (ahem, Robert Rodriguez)? Then this is the site for you! Where every match states that they enjoy the finer things in life such as "rodeo", "gambling", and "fishing". Every single one. Every. Single. One.




Sea Captain Date- "Dating Can Be a Stormy Sea"

Life as a sea captain is a lonely one, so why not get more than just your boat wet? Sea Captain Date is the premier dating service for sea captains and the ladies who love them. Example of what you will find: AllHandsonDick, 23 years old, Silverlake, CA, is "looking for an chill girl who's down to party on my dad's boat sometime. No drama please." (sent to me via Write_By_Night)



Farmers Only- "City folks just don't get it!"

With profile names like "Deerfriend", "TraxterMaster", and "FarmBoy4U2Luv2", this is the only place to find that special someone who love theirs tractor more than your future farm hand children. Example of what you will find: CountryGuy62, 45 years old, has "been alone for about 5 years now and needs to do some catching up. Tired of sitting home alone watching TV".



Purrsonals- "Meet other cat lovers who really match your PURRsonality!"

Unfortunately, I could not take a look at the profiles, but I'm sure your imagination can run wild with this.




Dating For Ugly People- "If you are one of the millions of people that don’t always like what they see in the mirror, then this is the place for you!"

Now featured in six different countries, including Ireland and South Africa, The Ugly Bug Ball is the place where ugly people find each other and then make ugly children.





Inmates for You- "The inmates within this site are looking for friends, pen pals, and even that love of their life."

This site actually is kind of sad. It reminded me of Shawshank Redemption. Most of these inmates sound desperate for friends, speak of their God-fearing ways, and refer to themselves as though they're still in society. It's actually worth taking a look strictly from a sociological standpoint. Until you realized they probably killed someone.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Behind the Mask of Googly Eyes and Felt: Finding Balance Between Blogging and Real Life


It was while watching a grown woman brush the hair of a ventriloquist dummy that I realized I may have an obsession with blogging. The show was My Strange Addiction and the episode was about a sassy and pretty (in a "I write messages to myself on the mirror in lipstick" sort-of-way) young lady who has no life outside of caring for her "babies"- a.k.a. nine ventriloquist dummies that she carries around in a suitcase. Her friends and family are concerned that she is spending way too much time with her inanimate buddies and slowly becoming disconnected from the human race. Like most people in denial, she tells them that they just don't understand and that she is happy with her life. The young woman states, "My babies let me say things I can't get away with in real life," so Ms. Fruitcake roams the streets with a puppet stuffed on her fist looking for people to berate. She can hide from the world behind her mask made of felt and googly eyes.

I too may hide behind a mask of felt and googly eyes. If felt looked like a blog template and googly eyes looked like words. Though I don't use my blog to publicly chastise people, I have discovered that long periods of time blogging and updating my social profiles has managed to make me feel both equally attached and detached from humankind. Attached in that I'm "meeting" wonderful people from all over the world. Progressive thinkers, entrepreneurs, creative minds, and kindred spirits. Some of these people I've met offline, some of them have offered me opportunities, some of them I will fantasize about in the shower tomorrow. However, I fear that the constant attention I give towards my blog and social media profiles has caused me to be a grade-A space cadet. Last week I managed to double book myself for the first time in my life. This is especially alarming for I have nothing going on in my life to cause such negligence. It's like when old people schedule their doctors appointments all on the same day at the same time. I now have the attention span of a ADHD-infested sugar glider and I can't focus on ANYTHING for more than a few minutes.That includes talking to people. In social settings I often have to give the warning that I may be looking at you and smiling, but there ain't nothin' going on upstairs except for daydreams about retweets and backlinks. I'm off in Lalalauren-Land and it's 73 degrees and comfy.

My biggest concern is that blogging and social media will propel my downward spiral into a shut-in flake. That person that never shows up on time, forgets to answer emails, and makes promises she can't follow through on. My second biggest concern is that "Sorry, I can't go out tonight, I'm washing my hair" has turned into, "Sorry, I can't go out tonight, I'm writing a blog post." I have been on a date or two this year where I felt my time was better spent writing a blog post about how terrible the date was. My third biggest concern is that my ass will get big. Well, not big, but pastry bag-esque. You know, those loose bags packed to the brim with cannoli filling? That is what my ass is going to look like. Two bags of lard hanging off my backside that I want to chuck against the wall .


I keep telling myself that this isolating behavior is ok for right now, considering I have big plans for my writing and blog this year and it's requiring a lot of my attention. However, what if right now turns into ten years later and I'm that lady sitting on her bed, surrounded by ventriloquist dummies that she may or may not be intimate with on a regular basis? I'm only now embracing the idea that my blog is a micro-business, something that requires time and energy, but should it come at the cost of hanging out with friends? Remembering that you scheduled time to hang with friends and forgetting? Going out on dates? Bathing? Basic grooming habits? Moving more than five feet in the span of four hours? Being sober?

How do you find balance between wanting to be a successful writer/blogger and real life?

Interesting read: What Your Ventriloquist Dummy Says About You

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The First Time I Put A Whoopie Cushion Against My Bare Ass and Other Firsts

source
Starting a new job has left me feeling creatively drained, so I've been turning to inspirational websites to get me out of my rut. One writing exercise I came across is writing down a list of your firsts. So that is exactly what I did...

The First Time I Put A Whoopie Cushion Against My Bare Ass
When I was ten years-old, I came up with an ingenious idea- to put a whoopie cushion IN my underwear and sit on it in a public area. By putting it in my underwear, no one would see the whoopie cushion and think I had the most massive farts on the planet- obviously. I attempted this trick at a garage sale my Grandmother was having. I waited for peak customer foot traffic and strategically placed a chair amidst the hairless Chia Pets and romance novels. I then ran behind a bush, blew up my whoopie cushion, and stuck it in my underwear. Knowing that no one was looking at my ten-year-old bubble butt, I walked up to the chair with near paralyzing anticipation and sat down. What I dreamed of happening did not occur, and not having any space to let the air out, the whoopie cushion decided to blow up against my bare ass. I shot into the air like an arrow and started screaming like a, well, ten year-old child. I pulled the flaccid rubber out of my pants and noticed what looked like a tiny dynamite-induced hole in the center of the whoopie cushion. For three days I had a giant welt on my buttocks and that was the first and only time I put a whoopie cushion next to my bare skin.

The First Time I Used a Tampon
Chronicled in my blog post, 'A Brutally Embarrassing Coming-Of-Age Story', this tale still haunts me to this day. My mother obviously tried to keep me as a five year-old child, so she never taught me how to use a tampon. For years, I'd wear gigantic maxi pads- even while swimming. It seriously looked like I had a penis once those puppies soaked up water and I climbed out of the pool. When I was around sixteen and working at Centini's Italian restaurant in Ithaca, NY, my period surprised ambushed and I soon discovered that most NORMAL people don't use maxi pads. A co-worker handed me her 'extra super-duper absorbant' tampon and I went into the bathroom completely perplexed as to what to do. Surely this scratchy insulation-esque stopper can't go ALL the way inside my vag! So, being the resourceful girl that I was, I put the tampon in only halfway and worked the rest of the evening with what felt like glass protruding from my cootch.When I came home battered and cringing, my mother of course thought it was hilarious that her neglect in showing me how TO BE A REAL WOMAN caused me to exercise such comical thinking. And for that Mom, I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU.

The First Time I Fell in Love with a Living, Non-Famous Person
His name was Adam and he was 16 and my best friend and 310 pounds and funny and sweet. We spent a lot of time together and I knew something was blossoming when he held my hand on a roller coaster ride during our band trip to Hershey Park. After a long awkward courtship that included him professing his love to me while The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" played and me rejecting him, we finally got together and I was smitten. So smitten that I wrote his name on my fingernails. I got an airbrushed t-shirt with our faces painted on it. We made out in his two-door Chrysler. He slept over and I forced him to watch countless episodes of Kids in the Hall, Twin Peaks, and Talking Heads' music videos. It was the perfect relationship. Except for one day, when it wasn't. Of course that doesn't mean we didn't try to beat a dead horse for another three years. Adam is now happily married with a son and another child on the way and living in Kansas City...and I am so happy that I am not.
 
The First Time I Saw a Mangled Dead Body
I had just moved to Los Angeles and was selected to be a seat filler at the Screen Actors Guild Awards at Shrine Auditorium downtown. I was with two other girls and we decided to carpool. As we descended upon interstate 110 that snakes through downtown LA, we came to a complete standstill. Noticing off in the distance that traffic was bottle-necking to one lane, we searched our surroundings to see what the hold-up was. On the overpass above some cops were hanging out having a cigarette, same as on the shoulder. An ambulance stood off on the right and no one seemed to be anxious or active. Except for us, when we finally spotted the DEAD BODY LYING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSTATE. We soon discovered that a gentleman had decided to end his life by jumping from the overpass onto the seven-lane highway below. Seeing a blood-soaked sheet with arms and sneakers protruding from underneath is not a memory that escapes you, but luckily that was the only time I ever saw such a thing.

Tell me about some of your firsts....

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Teenage Lyrics from a Twenty-Something Poetry-Hater


 I have a secret to confess.

I don't like poetry.

I never have and most likely never will.

However, when I was younger I used to like to write songs with very emo lyrics about boys.
Or hypothetical reverends.

Music has always been in my blood. My Dad is a pianist and I played the piano for twelve years and tenor saxophone for eight. Typically I'd write these songs about boys on the piano, for it was difficult to translate the twenty-something angst through the breathy wail of a tenor saxophone hanging around my neck.

During this time I also kept a journal equipped with stickers, pasted in Tom Ford ads, doodles of a cartoon girl who looked like me, and these lyrics I wrote about boys. Cleaning my bedroom last night, I came across my old journals and discovered that I wrote all of this teenage tripe THREE years ago when I was 24. I must have forgotten that when I was 15, I only wrote songs about dinosaurs and David Bowie.

I'm going to share some of these embarrassing lyrics/non-poems with you today because, well, they need to be quietly judged. Enjoy.

Do you have poems/lyrics that you wrote when you were younger? Do you cringe, like I do, when you read them?


Two Kids

This song was about a boy I dated who thought he was the reincarnation of James Joyce. He lived in a cabin in the mountains of Los Angeles and wore a three-piece wool suit every day...and I thought he was the coolest f'ing dude on the planet.
A little girl of fantasy
and wounded needs
insecurity

A little boy with exploding heart
and angry dreams
seeming apathy

And maybe I've been ready forever
since the summer
never
ever
did I see it coming
we had nothing
to hold onto except for make believe

We were built off of nothing
except for the comfort
the placebo
of lying next to you

A structure made of straws
that we clutched at
and fought with
then burned it to the ground

As I watched you slip away from me
we couldn't agree
that you were gently
trying to say goodbye
despite all my might
to believe the fantasy

 

Old Bowling Alleys

I think this is when I listened to way too much of Arcade Fire's Neon Bible
.

I'm taking the Airstream
to Barstow tonight
I know once I get there
it will all be alright

The smell of your scotch
lingers on the windowsill
God, I know good things are coming
Yes, I know that they will

And you promised that God would save me alright
If I got down on my knees and prayed every night
You'd look down at me with fire in your eyes
and I dreamed that he would come and wipe the tears dry

My hope is my salvation
far away from your hand
The highway is my walk into the promise land
And when I get there I'll be thinking of you wondering where the hell I am

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Austin's Best Of 'Best Of' Lists


I'm sure you've noticed that Austin, Texas SHOWS UP ON EVERY GOD FORSAKEN 'BEST OF' LIST THAT HAS COME OUT OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS.

Many times Austin is ranked in the top ten. Sometimes it's voted number one.

Now, how do you like them apples, huh?

I'll be honest. I moved to Austin with $500 in my pocket, no job, and only what I could fit into my car based off of these lists because I'm obsessed with lists in general.

I LOVE THE CRAP OUT OF LISTS!

So, below, I've compiled some of the best 'Best Of' lists I've come across where Austin is named.

What have I learned from these lists? 1.) That Forbes has a big ol' boner for Austin 2.) That if I ever join the armed forces and then retire, I'll be very happy here 3.) That I should take up golfing again, especially so I'll be really good by the time I retire from the military 4.) That Austin is THE BEST PLACE ON THE PLANET, DUH!

Austin is featured on so many lists, I didn't know how to break them down! So, the list goes in order of ranking (and truth be told, I could have kept this list going, but I had to stop somewhere!)

Forbes- America's Best Cities for Young Adults #1 out of 10

Portfolio- Best Cities for Young Adults #1 out of 67

Kiplinger- 10 Best Cities for the Next Decade #1 out of 10

Forbes- Best Cities for Jobs #1 out of 10

Yahoo Finance- Best Bargain Cities #1 out of 10

Sperling's Best Places- Best Cities for Dating #1 out of 10

Golf.com- 10 Best Golf Cities #1 out of 10

AOL's Daily Finance- America's 11 Best Cities for Telecommuters #1 out of 11

CNN- Best Big City to Live In #2 out of 10

Military.com- Best Cities for Military Retirees #3 out of 10

Travel and Leisure- America's Best Music Cities #3 out of 30

Forbes- Best U.S. Cities to Earn a Living #4 out of 10

Outside Magazine- America's Best Cities #4 out of 10

Wired- Top Tech Towns #4 out of 10 1/07

Kiplinger- 50 Smart Places to Live #5 out of 50

MovieMaker- 10 Best Cities to Live, Work, and Make Movies #5 out 10

The Daily Beast- 25 Best Cities for College Grads #5 out of 25

Forbes- Best Cities for Singles #8 out of 40

Business Week- Best Cities for Tech Jobs #8 out of 60

The Advocate- Gayest Cities #9 out of 25

CNN- 25 Best Places to Retire #9 out of 25

Forbes- Best Cities for Young Professionals #10 out of 40

Bicycling.com- Top 50 Cities for Bicycling #11 out of 50

Forbes- Best Shopping Cities #12 out of 25

MSNBC- 100 Best Places to Raise a Family #14 out of 100

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Remember That I Promised I Would Write You A Blue Valentine Review?


I wrote this review back in October when I was lucky enough to see Blue Valentine at the Austin Film Festival. P.S. I write reviews like a ten year-old child.

Did you see Blue Valentine? What did you think?

It takes a lot for me to get excited about going to the movies... and by excited I mean sexually aroused when Crispin Glover has a new movie out. However, when I saw the trailer for Blue Valentine over the summer, I knew I had to see this movie.

A tragic love story named after a Tom Waits song starring Ryan Gosling AND Michelle Williams?! Hell, that is a hipster's three-tier boner right there. The super hyped film- currently making the festival circuit with an expected release date of December 31st, 2010- was screened at the Austin Film Festival to a packed and very somber house. There was not a dry eye- from guy or gal- by the end of the movie. In fact, the girl seated next to us had to leave the theater and I had to drink more than one glass of white wine.

So why does this movie have everybody crying? It is a very real and very humbling portrayal of the dissolution of a marriage. Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) have a modest life equipped with blue collar jobs, ranch home in Pennsylvania, receding hairline, and JC Penny wardrobe. Early on, it becomes apparent that the marriage is in a robotic rut and the only thing maintaining the plastic facade of a functioning family is the common love for their young daughter, Frankie (adorable newcomer Faith Wladyka). Desperate to recapture the love that has been slowly slipping from their grasps, Dean suggests an impromptu romp at a nearby erotic hotel. The reluctant Cindy obliges and thus begins the cinematic juxtaposition of their painfully uncomfortable attempt at salvaging their marriage versus when they first courted and fell in love. Dean and Cindy were crazy about each other at one point, but somewhere along the way their car broke down along the yellow brick road.

The demise of a relationship- the uncomfortable moments, the painful sex, the constant state of heightened emotion- is something that all of us can relate to. Just as we can still remember the moment we first fell in love. This allegory in addition to the award-worthy performances by Gosling and Williams makes for a beautiful and freshly unique contemporary film. Blue Valentine is a movie where you forget that you are watching actors and firmly believe you have been dropped into a stranger's life. Every awkward pause, every flinch of pain makes you tense in the notion that you've experienced this before and are now forced to watch someone else go through it. Gosling and William's chemistry leaves the viewer breathless; their frank interaction suggesting that these two have been married for years. Though a self-proclaimed non-method actor, it's difficult not to see the comparisons between Marlon Brando and James Dean in Gosling's performance. Like the aforementioned talent, Gosling perfectly balances the I-don't-give-a-shit attitude with the rumblings of emotion ready to burst from his seams. Our hearts break as the harder Dean tries to hold onto his family, the more they slip away. Gosling definitely found a worthy partner in Williams. She brings no less talent and believability to her performance. Williams' delicate features and ghost-like nature only adds to the tragedy of her character. We too find ourselves bunching our hands into fists as she achingly goes through the motions of having sex with her husband.

Though most of the beauty of Blue Valentine falls on the talent, it would not be fair to exclude the gritty photography of the young director, Derek Cianfrance. One of three writers on the film, it's easy for the viewer to assume the amount of dedication and emotion Cianfrance put forth on this project. It's apparent that everyone who worked on the film firmly believed in it.

Blue
Valentine is not an uplifting film, but don't let that scare you away. In a time of studio remakes and vapid blockbusters, a little dose of raw performances mixed with depressing subject matter is good for you.

Unless you're going through a divorce.

Then stay away from this movie like the plague.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Time I Almost Got Punched by a Woman Wearing A Shirt That Said "I Have Issues"


 I had completely forgotten about the above statement until today, when I was online chatting with my friend Ian. Ian and I were on a reality show together and one of the characters on that show was the producer Robert Evans. If you've never seen it, check out the doc THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE. It is an adaptation of  Evans' autobiography of the same name. Evans was and is a colorful character, having epitomized Hollywood cool in the 1970's (he was married to Ali MacGraw, friends with Jack Nicholson and produced THE GODFATHER, CHINATOWN, and ROSEMARY'S BABY) and Hollywood down-and-out in the 1980's (he was convicted of trying to buy cocaine and linked to the murder of an investor).

So here is a little backstory...
I was a featured player on a barely known TLC reality series called "Going Hollywood". The show chronicled the day-to-day adventures of three fresh-off-the-bus interns working at Robert Evans', Method Man's, and my boss' respective production companies. My role was to help show our intern, Ian, the ropes. Ian ended up working at our company after the show ended and becoming a dear friend. He is quite possibly one of the most stand-up individuals I have ever met.

On the last day of shooting, the producers decided to have a wrap party at the interns' Real World-style house over-looking the Hollywood Hills. Everyone who participated on the show was invited and of course the cameras were rolling. It was the first time during the shoot that I had seen the house. Posters of movies produced by the interns' bosses lined the walls. I noticed a poster of Val Kilmer's THE SAINT and chuckled. "Why is there a THE SAINT poster up on the wall?" I said to no one in particular.

"Because Robert Evans produced THE SAINT," someone shouted from the crowd.

"Oh yeah, because THE SAINT is Robert Evans best work, isn't it?" I said sarcastically.

The turntables came to a screeching halt. Storm clouds drifted in and a tornado of bleached blonde hair and red lipstick marched up to me.

"Who the hell is this girl? Why are you disrespectin' Robert Evans?

I quietly looked down. Written across the woman's wife-beater was the text, "I Have Issues."

"Who the hell do you think you are!? Go back to film school! Don't you know who Robert Evans is??"

I sure did know who Robert Evans was, but I had no idea who she was.
After some stares from the producers, I quickly put together she was the president of Robert Evans' company.

I apologized but politely tried to explain to her that I wasn't "disrespectin''" Robert Evans, but rather was making a point that of all the amazing movies he has produced, CHINATOWN, MARATHON MAN, THE GODFATHER, LOVE STORY, ROSEMARY'S BABY, HAROLD AND MAUDE, URBAN COWBOY (well, that's questionable), THE COTTON CLUB (highly questionable), that the one poster they put up, was THE SAINT?! I was on Robert Evans side for Christ's sake! Do you think he wants to be immortalized by THE SAINT!?

It didn't matter. The damage was already done and there was no going back. Skank Ho was flailing her arms and yelling belligerently at me. My boss caught wind of what was going on and came over to see what the problem was. He cooly tried to calm her down but she started going at him too, eventually telling him to "suck my dick!". When my boss threw his hands up in the air as if to say, "This chick is bat shit crazy!", she took it as a sign to start fistacuffs and pulled her arm back to swing at him. My boss was swiftly carried away by the producers and we were all rushed downstairs away from Trainwreck. All the meanwhile the cameras were still rolling.

We tried to get comfortable on the first floor of the house, but couldn't concentrate over all the screaming our little friend was doing upstairs. "They can all just suck my dick, those fucking wet noodles!" Figuring that Ms. Penis Envy wasn't going to shut up anytime soon, we all decided to leave.

Later in the evening Ian IMed me to say that she still hadn't left and that she just grabbed one of the party-goers by their hair.

After that evening, I lost track of Miss Piggy and unfortunately the tape of that spectacular evening never aired. Sometimes I think about Robert Evans' lady friend and what she's doing. I'm sure she's still running his company, sucking his cock, and making some wonderful B-list trash. It makes me sad. Hollywood has a lot of women who feel like they need to overcompensate in a male-driven industry. Note to females in Hollywood- wearing an "I Have Issues" wife-beater, getting drunk, and telling people to suck your dick doesn't make you tough, it makes you a drunk chick with a "I Have Issues" wife-beater on.