Category Archives: pop culture

enthusiasm

My apologies for the long absence, internet. Sketch writing is hard. REALLY HARD. Like, opening a document and staring at it for nine straight hours hard. Kind of like academic paper writing, come to think of it, but without the ability to quote from giant stretches of someone else’s text. A pity, that.

But here I am, with thoughts. And my chief concern is about tonality. I stress all the time about striking the right tone, especially when I get excited. And I don’t see any virtue in adapting some kind of jaded hipster attitude and pretending that I think everything is shit. I certainly don’t feel that way at all. I genuinely like a lot of stuff, and some of it I get downright Dug-enthusiastic over.

I was trying to hammer out some kind of piece on America– why, despite the Tea Party and vasectomy-reversal billboards, it’s kind of an amazing place. That contrary to what Fitzgerald said, there are second acts in American lives. I’m not a nationalist, nor am I a patriot, really, in the modern sense of the word. But I believe you can recognize that modern nation-states are ideological abstractions and still feel affection for them, as this Onion piece would have it.

But the tone. The tone is what’s tricky. So I shelved it.  Because I am not Sarah Vowell. I find sincerity quite hard to transmit without sounding twee, or over-intellectualized, or facetious. It’s why I also have difficulty striking the right balance when I like something.

Right now I am watching The Thick of It, an amazing show about political spin in modern UK politics. I am attaching a clip, but it is sweary beyond compare. So NSFW, unless you happen to work in a mine or a pirate ship.

I fucking love it. The swearing alone rivals The Sopranos. (And we know how I feel about epic baroque cursing. It is one of my greatest joys in life. This stuff could be Slavic in its morphology, I kid you not).  Granted, the camera work, which is done in that jolty docu-cam style, does make me a little sick to my stomach. But if you power through (and you should, you should, you should) you will be rewarded.

I like to think it rivals Mad Men in its nuance, especially with regard to the constructed nature of masculine worlds. It’s like that feminist revelation, that men have a gender, too. That it’s all just one great big pissing contest. And it’s funny. Ridiculous, awkward — bilious and bizarre simultaneously. It bristles with an amazing ensemble energy; it’s spectacularly cast. I cannot enthuse enough. I could write a whole post that consisted solely of CAPSLOCK SCREAM FLAIL OMG WTF !!!!. But I don’t want to sound like a maniacal tween girl chasing R. Pattz down the street any more than I want to sound like these guys.

So that’s that, then. I hope you are all well.

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pep talks (helen mirren)

I did have some vague intentions of making this a series, but, honestly, I kind of keep forgetting.

However, as the Fug Girls say, what I have an endless and profound love for is Helen, effing, Mirren. How great is she? How great does she seem? How not of an asshole does she appear to be? How delightful is it that her birth name is Illiana Lydia Petrovna Mirovna? How cute is her director husband? How does she manage to look amazing in a sari? How does she look better in a bikini NOW, at age SIXTY-FIVE, than I have ever managed, in my entire life?

I do not know the answers, friends and Twitterbots. But I do know that she is amazing. And a damn fine actor.

Helen Mirren in Elizabeth, speech to the troops at Tilbury

finally irate enough to write something, are ya?

Of course. Of fucking course. So, anyone who has met me will know of my undying love for the Hendricks (and for curvaceous redheads kind of in general, because, COME ON. People.)

So, when I saw the Photoshopped pics of her London Fog campaign, just now, I got really irate. Enough to break the visual wall of silence and come yell in cyberspace. Mad, indeed.

In part because I think she’s glorious and find it disgusting that a company that would book her for a campaign, knowing full well what she looks like, would then go and change the thing that makes her body so amazing.

Interviews with Our Ms. H. very often bring up her ample woman-assets. And, fair enough. But her Mansfield-like proportions extend below the belt, so to speak. Girl has hips. She does not look like a Barbie. Nor does she look like she is about to topple over from imbalanced weight distribution.

Although, speaking of Barbie, they actually did the same thing to the Joan Holloway Barbie.

[pause for serious reflection, sense of perspective]

Now, I know that in the grand scheme of the universe, this is perhaps not all that important. It is not on par with the slums of Mumbai, say, or the Rwandan genocide in terms of stuff that matters a whole lot. And I am not so Oprah and self-helpy to think that the one is directly correlated to the other (No, you know? I don’t actually think we can solve the world’s problems by loving ourselves more. I kind of don’t.)

I also know that I am part of the problem– I buy makeup and shoes ad nauseum, I work for the man doing marketing stuff. But.

But.

Here’s the thing. What irks me the most — even more than the idea that people can’t handle an advertisement depicting a well-known woman’s body without shrinking her lower half down until it is smaller than the bag she is holding— is this pretty terrifying reliance we have on technology to eradicate what someone dictates is ‘imperfect’ or ‘less than ideal.’ Children in elementary school can get their school photos altered before they’re brought home. I don’t give a hoot about ‘message’ or even ‘self-image’ in this case. What scares the crap out of me is the rift we seem to be causing between the projected and the real, and how the two are becoming increasingly distant from one another.

Or something.

Jezebel has a whole series on Photoshop horrors, mostly better articulated than this.

a sprinkle of blogging meta (plus, bad tv)

Hello, internet. I am trying my damnedest to make blog place of insightful commentary and thoughtful squee, rather than just mindless ranting OR celebrity bullshit. I love superficial crap as much as the next girl, but there are limits.

Conversation with self: “Erin, you should try to post meaningful and insightful things, or stuff that inspires you. Like Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party.” — “Yes, self, but it is really fun to talk about wretched overproduced reality television, too.” — “No one wants to read about that.” — “Maybe not, but you’ve intellectualized yourself into a corner. You can’t talk about Deleuze and Freud and virtual Horcruxes in a way that is legitimately funny.” — “It is funny, I promise.” — “It’s so not, you just look like you’re showing off.”

http://static.ning.com/socialnetworkmain/widgets/video/flvplayer/flvplayer.swf?v=201008181759
Find more videos like this on Smart Girls at the Party

I debated for about twenty minutes the other day whether or not I was going to be the kind of blogger that posted things involving Taylor Swift.* I also expressed an interest to Lemondrop.com in writing for them, and sent them links to this selfsame blog, with the attached caveat, “I’m sure I can reign in the swearing.”**

For me, I’m going to hazard a guess that the Kardashians are perhaps my personal tipping point. Everything else is fair game. Unless, and this is a crucial exception, they are featured for whatever reason on MTV’s Styl’d again. We all know I am a resolute populist when it comes to television entertainment (Ru-Paul’s Drag Race? Ice Road Truckers? Bring it.)– even to the point of watching a show whose title is not only missing a totally necessary ‘E’ but is, very likely, not even actually a legitimate word. (Is this meant to echo Punk’d? Why would you want that? Put the ‘E’ back in, dickweeds. Ahem.)

But you know who was awesome on Show Whose Name Really Warrants Another Letter? Jen Rade, that’s who. She made me so happy, all skinny and mental and competent and a total hard ass.

Here she is debating the merits of cleave with Kim K. I love her so much that I will overlook her painful reliance on the horrid neologism “s-etiquette.” (One’s etiquette on set– not looking the talent directly in the eye or flirting with the models, I guess?) Why? Because she was one of only three white people at Snoop Dogg’s wedding (SO JEALOUS), and used to style all those weird 90s R&B groups (Bell Biv Devoe, anyone? Boyz II Men?).

I will leave you with this picture of Snoop. Because, awesome. And then I will go watch the season premiere of Weeds.


*Tentative answer — not right now. Will mention that she is definitely kitteh, howevs.

**Jury actually still out on this one. Can I do it?

things that piss me off

Time for some counterweight to the delight and joy of all that picspam I have shoved in your faces as of late. This time you can have pictures of things that annoy me, for various sorts of reasons. With annotation. Not full posts. Too tired. Just a soupçon of snark, is all you get right now.

I really don’t even know where to start with this. The whole notion of a ‘tramp-stamp’ is already so disturbing on about 47 different levels, that getting a) a giant wall of text on your lower back b) a giant wall of text FROM THE BIBLE permanently inked on yourself and c) supposing this chick is, in the common parlance, a “tramp,” then why on earth would you want to showcase that with passages from Scripture that are all about fidelity and constancy?

Now. I like a good Bloody Mary as much as the next girl, and general Russophilia means that vodka is my booze of choice. That having been said, I am kind of a vodka purist. It’s good enough on its own, you don’t need to tweak it with vanilla and strawberries and kumquats, or whatever.* But you know what the world really really really doesn’t need? Vodka infused with the flavor of meat. Or fish. Or smoked fish.

What on earth is the point of this? WHO IS GOING TO DRINK IT? No one. At best,  a lot of sad waitstaff who are going to be stuck with the dregs of this vile looking concoction when the bar manager misguidedly orders a case and no one ever orders it. And then the staff will be left trying to come up with ways to make it palatable — mix it with Goldschlager? Ginger ale? Knock back shots of it while gnawing on a bagel? I honestly don’t know.

This montage on the ‘changing face of beauty’ doesn’t actually piss me off all that much, save for the fact that it is hella white and ends on a picture of Heidi Montag (which, fuck no. Just, no). I would be interested to see someone do a similar kind of video that tracks the changing shapes of bodies through this same period, maybe even going further back. Knowing my luck, someone has already made it and is ending that montage with Heidi as well.

*Will concede that blood orange vodka is quite good, as is Meyer lemon.

competitive reality shows i'd like to see next

Not that you guys can see the start date on this draft, but it’s about two weeks old. I say this not to point out how long it takes me to write a few measly hundred words (longer than you might think)* but because the whole meme-y quality of the internet, delivered straight to my inbox, tends to make me want to slump on the couch with a bag of salt and vinegar Kettle Chips and early episodes of Screenwipe**because, fucking hell, it’s ALL BEEN DONE BEFORE***

I say this because I’ve been mulling over jealousy quite a bit, of late. Now, I know it’s no longer fashionable to talk about “universals” on any level — perhaps we’re all so caught up in this never-fucking-ending**** spiral of relativism and PC-ness and misguided attempts at empathy — but, Chomskian caveats aside, I think there’s something to be said there.

In an insane attempt to barricade the onslaught of media in my life, I’m trying to be a bit more selective about what I read and watch. Which is great. I’m plowing through some fantastic half-hour comedy shows, reading the scripts of same, and picking up novels I meant to look at ages ago.

All good, there. Except for the jealousy. The stirring fucking anger in the pit of your stomach that this is better than anything you could have thought of, ever. In a million years. A gibbon with ten-key typing, you are.

I just finished the Peep Show scripts. And I’ve harped elsewhere about how great David Mitchell and Robert Webb are, and how the show totally deserves lots of awards and please do check out the DVDs ad nauseum.

Then I read the scripts, and realized that, solidly, 80 percent of what makes that show so good, so painfully right and twistingly insightful, is the words. On the page. Not even spoken, no set dressing, no visuals. No costumes, no facial expressions. No intonation or reaction shots. Just, words. On a page.

That’s the kind of shit that makes you fling things across the room, and not in the way you do with Søren Kierkegaard***** or Ann Coulter, but because it’s at once maddening and infuriating, stellar. It’s a combination of grating obsequious fangirling combined with breathless exhilaration that something this good is allowed to exist in the world at all, coupled with the blind rage that you didn’t do it. Didn’t write it. Didn’t have shit to do with its existence, and can’t do anything besides follow people you admire around Twitter blindly RT’ing them as if that will give you some kind of credibility or in-group status.

Anyways.

That was all a rather long and self-lacerating prelude to this, which was intended to be a list of the other competitive reality shows someone should pitch****** —

  1. Top Barback
  2. Top Dvornik
  3. Top Copy Editor
  4. Top Prep Cook
  5. Top Guy Who Directs the Forklift Driver
  6. Top Invasive Species Removal Expert
  7. Top Metadata Tagger
  8. Top Hall Monitor
  9. Top Food Runner
  10. Top Guy Whose Job It Is To Change the Carbonation Tank on Fountain Drink Dispensers in Convenience Stores

Theere are only so many retrospective clip shows, Real Housewives franchises, and FlavorofRockofLoveofNewYorkRealWorldSinglesBus the viewing public can handle. Not to mention that reality TV doesn’t, really, give you much substance to work with, because nothing. Ever. Happens. Competition shows are pretty much all I can handle, and I find them ever-more draining.  FWIW,  I will still be watching the new Rachel Zoe Project, even though the amount of actual ‘content’ and ‘drama’ on that show is +/- tantamount to this–

I watched Runway at a friend’s the other night. Initial thoughts: Heidi looks great, Selma Blair should have some kind of integrated-content-co-branded-webisode-Garnier-Fructis-special co-hosted by Ina Garten where they fling their shiny hair around. But mainly, I thought, Jesus, I don’t have room in my head for another cycle of manufactured drama, don’t have the energy to invest in sorting out i. who I like as a person (for which read: who gets a good edit and is telegenic); ii. who I like as a designer; and iii. who I like because they are kind of a twat or say funny things about the whole metatextual experience.

Cuz when you think about it, the Wharhol-weirdness of it all makes your head hurt. This whole talking about yourself in the third person because you want to be an integrated brand thing?

Can’t handle that from Kayne, can’t handle that from you.

************************************

*Which: true. I’d even go so far as to venture that it affects us all.  Read this blog post on being blocked.

** This is the world where Charlie Brooker is, in due fact, talking directly to me from the television, and it’s okay because we live in a world where that is normal and you only have to venture outside for milk and bread once in a while, and the rest of the time is spent hating people without blackheads and oddly disconcerting lumps in places they should maybe not be and wallowing, pig-like in your own filth and misery and self-hatred. Or, Tuesday.

***This is a little pity-party for one that’s being held in a children’s playhouse from the 1960s and populated only by neighborhood dogs and Barbies wearing birthday hats, and if you don’t like it you can EFF OFF.

**** One of these days I will write a piece about infixes and how they are awesome. ~Shakes fist at sky.~

*****Only until Wikipedia showed me a picture, I don’t think I realized that Kierkegaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard looked quite so much like Pushkin.  Though I guess that hair was pretty Mr. Vaguely High Class European Gentleman from A Place That’s Not France. Like, “The Rachel” of 19th century Europe. But for dudes.

******There were like, 600 footnotes in my senior thesis. Having only six is mind-bogglingly restrained. But here is the link that sent me into a spiral of self-despair, in addition to this subsection of FailBLOG that I didn’t even know existed, since I had been screencaping auto-complete and long tail keywords and considering myself quite clever for paying attention to drop-down text. I’m going to lie down, now.

overfuckingwhelming (warning:contains swearing!)

Tips that will usually appear in midrange style mags and in the onslaught of organizational mantras that rain down on us daily (the 21st century version of the Victorians’ fastidious obsession with “hygiene,” I suppose) tend to berate you by saying things like, “When you buy something new, you have to get rid of something old,” and variations on this theme, presented by Tim Gunn or those What Not to Wear people.

Buy new shoes from Aldo? Bequeath those old Keds to the Salvation Army in their place! New t-shirt with ironic witty writing on it? Lose that very similar t-shirt with not so  different ironic writing on it! What about your kitchen? No one needs three ice cream scoops!*

Presumably,  social media should follow this “One out, one in” rule. Start using Facebook, MySpace goes out the door. No one needs to be on Digg and Twitter and Tiw.DiggRedMaxxMixxMeme.ous or whatever the fuck it is now. THIS IS TOO MUCH CRAP. Pick one. One. Two.

That should be sufficient, right?

More comics here.

The same should probably, then, be true of television. How can one person humanly keep up with this streaming downpour of content? As Charlie Brooker says, in a way I could only hope to palely duplicate,

I’m fairly certain I recently passed a rather pathetic tipping point, and now own more unread books and unwatched DVDs than my remaining lifespan will be able to sustain. I can’t possibly read all these pages, watch all these movies, before the grim reaper comes knocking. The bastard things are going to outlive me. It’s not fair. They can’t even breathe.

Confession: all this British comedy watching is putting me excruciatingly behind with my American reality television shows. I haven’t seen the last six episodes of The City. And lord knows I love Kelly Cutrone. Not to mention everything Olivia Palermo has worn, ever.*

I am similarly crazy behind on my American reality-cum-competition-type shows. Didn’t even finish Top Chef Masters, not watching Work of Art, haven’t touched the new season of Top Chef, sort of dreading the return of Project Runway because my backlog of current television –– The Wire! Rewatching Mad Men with the commentary! Every episode! Maybe annotating them! Probably need to see what Modern Family is all about, right? And Deadwood! — and then this comedic education I’m forcing my partner to undergo — Black Adder! TheYoung Ones! Monty Python! Fawlty Towers! Maybe we should watch Arrested Development again from the beginning, right? What’s The Fast Show like? Should I give Spaced a second chance?– it’s just all…too…much.

There are downloads aplenty on my external hard drive, shows — shows which I LIKE– that have been unceremoniously  dumped like a pair of jeans that make your ass look fantastic but whose zipper always seems to be creeping down enough to make wearing them an endless struggle to keep from flashing strangers inadvertently. What is the appropriate response? Pack them off to Goodwill? Try to take them to the dry cleaner in the hopes they can salvage them? Keep them in this Trader Joe’s bag for two years and then pull them out again when they no longer fit you and now you decide to keep them for purposes of inducing guilt and being held up periodically as a painful reminder of a-time-when-you-were-marginally-thinner?

This is the problem with digital technology, it’s tinytinytiny. You could have acres of  prOn and downloaded music and screencaps of every episode of The Muppet Show and 14,000 icons for your LiveJournal and still, still, STILL not even come close to taking up the space of one small closet, which everyone knows you should have organized by season and color and frequency of use and OH MY GOD IS THIS WHAT IS NEXT? It’s like Hoarders, but for a digital age. If TV Go Home still existed, you can bet yer ass I would have fictionally pitched that shit.

So the last ten episodes of America’s Next Top Model are just sitting there, forlorn and unwatched, despite the fact that Tyra looks fantastic and Andre Leon Talley was sort of hilarious. Same deal for Big Love, which, despite the very real pull of Anne Dudek, Harry Dean Stanton, and a staggering perfomance by Chloe Sevigny has at least a third remaining. I managed to stick with Six Feet Under despite how yelly and shouty and soapy and unsexy it all got, but the same can’t be said for Queer as Folk in either its US or UK incarnations.

No wonder we’re all staggering under the weight of these endless ones and zeroes. I’m off to read a book.

*I have three ice cream scoops. I could make excuses as to how they are all very slightly different and at least two of them may have sentimental value, but why should you listen to me? I have three ice cream scoops.

**She’s a bitch with an epic underbite, but that hair! Those clothes! She was undoubtedly the inspiration for Blair Waldorf, make no mistake. Boring as hell, but still. Shiny!