Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fashion Foe Pas

My favorite online clothing source, ModCloth, has invited its street team members (of which I am one) to join fashion-sharing website Yes, I posted a couple of looks and tagged them to hype the ModCloth brands. Yes, I've hyped other MC users' looks so they get more publicity. Yes, I'm doing similar now.

CMDP's New Addiction:

I love the clothing. Since moving to L.A., I've found myself more and more frequently considering styles, textures, colors, and movements of various fabrics. Not that my Midwest days were spent in a vomitous haze of mismatched color, but there's just so much more here to choose from.

Loving the clothing aside, then, I've got some huge problems with the site. Pralines, a fellow lookbook user, posted a look recently entitled I'm Tired of lookbook. Whether or not she's serious (after all, she is still a user), I can see several reasons to share a disgruntled attitude.

(1) Some of the most-hyped looks are not cute: they look like a wardrobe ate too much neon and jewelry that didn't sit well and it puked something out on the wearer (or alternately, it looks like Edith Head puked, and that puke designed these).

(2) Some of the most-hyped looks are not cute: they are on suggestively posed models. Sex sells, I guess.

(3) But keeping that last thing in mind, you get a whole lot of this:

The outfit is unquestionably stylish, but the stats say it was posted by a fifteen-year-old girl*. Fashion Industry, I've long had a problem with your demand for underage workers, whether in your factories or on your runways. I've heard the argument that "clothing hangs better on thin bodies." No, Fashion Industry; clothing hangs on hangers. More likely than the practicality of displaying the clothing on human-hangers, I'm convinced that models are thin and young because of a fashion, and overall social taboo regarding pædophilia. No, I don't want to believe it either, but think about this: isn't that also why women in certain cultures are encouraged to shave their legs, armpits, and pubis? You start growing leg/arm/pubic hair at puberty; shaving suggests that you have not yet reached puberty. If depilatory practices are said to be "proper" because they "make you more attractive," this must mean that "more attractive" is equated with "prepubescent." Not okay.

For this, Fashion Industry, I challenge you. For this,, I refuse to hype outfits of underage women girls.

*I understand that people lie about their ages on the internet, but to lie that you're fifteen instead of, oh, twenty-eight, suggests that you know something about the pædophilic tendencies pervading fashion, and you're trying to capitalize on it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Short(-Rib) Cut

A little while ago, I remember watching Paula Deen's Food Network show. I was certainly enthralled and mildly concerned at all the butter and oil going into the dishes, but what caught my attention most was the following sentence:

"Sprinkle some kosher salt on the bacon."

If you aren't already marveling that Ms. Deen is salting an already salty food, you might have noticed the irony of using kosher salt with bacon. In fact, she does in many of her recipes. I understand that the texture of kosher salt is different, but so is that of flaky sea salt.

Ms. Deen, could you please stop offending my sensibilities? I mean, I consider myself a religious tolerant, and a multiculturalist. I believe in unlikely friendships that transcend cultural expectations (see also, Romeo & Juliet). Still, I draw the line when "multicultural" means "making cross-cultural alliances between two foods that were never meant to be friends."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Löst Highway

I often wonder how many people driving through this city at any given time are perpetually sedated or regularly hallucinating. No need to use your turn signal: The Man can hear your every thought. Also, please enjoy driving in my blind spot for several miles: I am so hypersensitive I can feel anything within twenty yards of me, regardless of my large, metal mode of conveyance.

To counteract any potentially regrettable acts of road rage, a friend of mine once told me that he likes to shake his fist and growl "Lousy Sunday drivers!" but I have found that the shaking fist is often too visible. In view of California's hands-free cell phone law passed last summer, to see someone's mouth moving without another living person in the car with him is no longer uncommon. Thus, lately, I have chosen to speak quietly and calmly to the offending driver from the privacy of my car.

They don't know what I'm saying, or even if I'm saying it to them. Or even if I'm talking and not singing along to some music. So what do you suppose I'm saying?

Nothing so crass. Imagine everyone's favorite modular Swedish furniture chain, IKEA. Haven't we all, at one time or another, found their product names hilariously obscene while knowing full well that they are not? For example, my mom and I enjoyed assembling "those flärke bookcases," and I know many people would have an adolescent-style laugh to know that the Grundtal Line manufactures scales and toilet paper holders.

I refuse to believe, however Germanic and guttural these words sound, that they are obscene. This is, after all, the land that brought us many good things from Ångström to Zetterberg Since this is, then, an infinitely respectable country, I have taken to stringing together syllables that sound as though they could be assigned to IKEA product lines.

So remember: blaerb before you tröng, yupuppup means you need to slandegen, and there is no fleungling allowed at any ingedde.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Am A Camera

Few things in life give me a better sense of satisfaction than good photographs. Antique images particularly fascinate me, and recently it has a lot to do with my Master's thesis adviser's book and my assistantship in a course on American Visual Culture. This fascination also likely has something to do with the longstanding tradition, since Eastman revolutionized point-and-click technology, that anyone can take a picture. Attend any art fair, and you will see stall after stall of flowers and rocks, and you will think "I could do better."

(my grandma feeding chickens)

And probably you could. With an eye for shot composition and now through the miracle of Photoshop, everyone is going pro — Photoshop's efficacy in this is debatable, since although undoubtedly easing the process, it perhaps cheapens truly excellent photography. Suffice it, something there is that doesn't love a digital camera: maybe for the same reason I would rather frame and hang my own picture of a mossy tree stump, or better yet, something actually interesting, I have come to fetishize film cameras. And since anyone can take a picture, you'd think my walls would be covered with prints. Yes?


You see, I have a camera curse. I'm sure this started during youth, when it seemed that every Christmas or birthday, members of my extended family would give me cameras. Not that they might have thought I would like one, but probably because they won it in a raffle, or got it as an office gift, and just needed to unload it. I don't remember other cousins getting cameras, but I thought it was destiny. But no. My brother, never prodigal with his allowance money, saved and developed (no pun intended) a hobby of collecting antique cameras. He now has his own darkroom and develops his own film. Maybe I should have become a doctor first with a cathartic hobby second, instead of someone who has tried to make a career out of a cathartic hobby with a doctorate.

But this curse. No kidding: my brother let me borrow his fantastic film camera during a trip to Salem for research. I learned the buttons, the shutter speeds, the f-stop, the modes, gears, and everything. What I didn't learn was how to load the film: after several days of photographing landmarks and gravestones, I learned that the film never took up on the reel. I had to go back and do it all again. This time it overshot and ripped the end of the film out of its canister. I cried when I opened the film door and an unwanted ticker-tape parade of undeveloped, now ruined images came cascading out. And that's not all: one of my cameras, which I had prepared and packed, that I let my parents use for our family trip to Arizona, was also improperly loaded. No family Christmas photo by the Grand Canyon or the Camel Back Mountain or the red rocks of Sedona this year: she's done it again. My first digital camera took a tipsy lurch off a bookshelf (why was it stored all the way up there, you ask? Because I'm an idiot.) and the last image it captured was a streak of white light and a blurry grasping Me that well represented its death.

(go to the light, little darling)

Today, the curse is broken! My mom found me a used digicam on Shop Goodwill that arrived in the mail. Completely functioning, with memory card, two batteries, power source, and... wait. USB connector cord? Son of a bitch...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cab Drivers: A Hate Song

Los Angeles is well known for its hoards (and hordes) of terrible drivers. Last night, I met one of them.

My friend Stew gave me a statistic about the number of people in this city that drive without a license. I don't remember the number, but I do know it was staggering, and also that I wholeheartedly believe it. Since I moved here eleven months ago, I have watched countless red lights run with impunity, have been cut off without a blinker to warn me that someone doesn't find it necessary to check his/her blind spot before switching lanes, have had two people scrape my car in parking garages without leaving a note, have enjoyed weekly car chases on the news, and have even had a man sideswipe me and drive away.

Once I overestimated my knowledge of the Vue's proportions and scuffed a woman while I was trying to get into a left-hand turn lane; more than being upset with myself, I was filled with rage for a city in which I could be made to feel bad for being the responsible one. Oh no, we can't have that in this city. Let us instead reward those who screech about in thousands of pounds of forged metal heedless of their surroundings. They are the true heroes of Los Angeles.

Even after Stew gave me the statistical factoid, I found a new level of motorist excellence. I had dropped off the guys who came to the Smog Cutter for karaoke, and was exhaustedly heading home for sleep. Driving south on Edgemont avenue, about to stop at the Hollywood boulevard intersection, the light turned green. I had enough green light to think, "My lucky stars! This stop-light changed for me because it wants me to get home more quickly!" How long did it take you to read that thought? About five seconds. I had a green light for five seconds, and a taxi cab comes barreling eastbound along Hollywood blvd. so quickly that I wonder if he's going to stop. He does not. He coasts, still at about 25 miles per hour, into the intersection although he has had a red light for that same five seconds. More in fact, because there is a second delay before the lights switch.

After he almost broadsides my car and I warn him off with the horn, he turns behind me, and tailgates me for half a block. I am driving 25, which at this point is probably over the speed limit because it's a hospital zone. Instead of learning his lesson (i.e. "Don't get upset with someone who has honked at you for disobeying the law."), he floors the gas and speeds past me. In a hospital zone. Over a double-yellow line. And he gets caught by the next red light, so it was a good thing he passed me, or he would have had to wait longer in order to... wait. At the red light.

For any other car, this would be a moment of disgust. Cab drivers, on the other hand, openly ask you, in text, on the back and sides of their vehicles, "How's my driving?" Oh, I'm glad you asked. I dial the number, which LA Taxi lists as "Checker Cab" company and let their call center receptionist know that taxi #3619 is driving like a maniac, disobeying traffic signals, right of way, posted speed limit, and no passing zones. Victory is mine, "Cab Calloway." Don't you forget it. My project to censure Los Angeles drivers is off to an auspicious beginning.

The moral of this story: Don't get into Checker Cab #3619. He does not deserve to share the road.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fizzy Lifting Drinks

As a child, my parents, like good parents, forced me to drink milk with dinner. Although I appreciate this now, I have come to resent the why/wherefore because certain brands of milk have an aftertaste: the milk they served at school lunches tasted not like milk, but like warm cardboard water thickened with paint. If you want to get utterly compulsive (answer: you do), the milk also has to be at the right temperature. My parents would laugh when I commented "Mmm... the milk is good tonight," but there is something very particular about my taste buds in which temperature, age, milk-fat content, and not having those disgusty-crusty bits around the cap are necessary factors to quality milk.

But this is not about milk. This is about those fun times when we went out to dinner and my parents let me cast milk to the side in favor of soda-pop. Oh, sweet, syrup-based indulgence that is a fountain drink! Sprite was always my favorite (because my parents, like good parents, denied me caffeinated beverages). One day, my life changed forever when I was presented with a particularly ebullient glass of Sprite. I took one drink and my mouth recoiled. "What is this product of hellish nonsense!", I thought, but it came out "Ew!"

"Be polite," says my mom. My dad takes a drink. "Ew, she's right! This is gross!" This restaurant had neglected to refill the syrup in the fountain, and the wait-staff brought me a glass full of soda water.

Somehow, the initial shock slowly resolves itself into fascination. Why would anyone make a divisible soda product? Tonic water, and not static, in which to *mix other flavors*? How very droll! Imagine me as a child working through these problems. Imagine me as an adult drinking my first gin and tonic. Imagine me switching my beverage obsession gradually, over fifteen or more years, from soda-pop to flavored, calorie-free sparkling water. Imagine the flavors becoming too artificial, and me switching permanently to the sparkling mineral water, the likes of which purveyors Perrier or San Pellegrino market to those foolish enough to pay money for something more delicious than still water.

Imagine, nay, enjoy the strength of the bubbles, the thrill of the acrid flavor, the refreshing experience of chilled sparkling natural mineral water.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Roommating Season

SWF seeks non-Single White Female living situation. Must like literature-PhD-spurred profound asocial tendencies, demanding meticulousness, obsessive compulsive cleaning, over-protective ownership of inanimate possessions (including kitchenware and bath products), Crazy Cat Lady decor, claustrophobia, passive-aggressive use of post-it notes to remind you of "chores," Fox television lineup (including House, Fringe, Dollhouse), timid fear of monopolizing common spaces, self-hermitage to bedroom, impending insanity & worse claustrophobia from completing all work in cloister-bedroom, frequent whining about how men/women/small dogs don't like me, respectful quiet and restraint from conversation while I'm reading. Stay away from my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Non-smoker only.