Monday, December 28, 2009

If food were social classes: pizza edition

I decided to document a gchat convo that Tiffany and I were having about pizza, during which she suggested that this become something of a feature with fast food or chain restaurants. It seemed like a fun idea to me, so here we are.

Broke-ass pizza: Little Caesars, Dominos, Pizza Hut
The pizza itself may be good, and depending on your state of mind it may be great. But if you've ever been inside any of these pizza joints, you know that you've stepped into a delightfully trashy establishment. Whether it's the pronounced dirt on the floor, grease stains on the walls, or the simple satisfaction that you're getting a large one-topping pizza for $5, you accept that you're eating cheap and you also gracefully accept the risk of hepatitis that comes with it.

Middle-class: Round Table, Numero Uno
The ingredients are probably better than your broke-ass fare, but there's still a charming kitsch enervating from these places that doesn't really speak "refinement." Some dine-in experiences at RT and NU can be downright family-friendly. I actually wish there was a Numero Uno closer to me, as in my experience they aren't stingy with the cheese.

Nouveau Riche: Papa John's
Papa John is pretty assured that he's better than his competition; he tells us in his commercials how "fresher ingredients make better pizza" and his warm smile and shots of children happily eating in the background promise a wholesome, clean, tasty pizza-eating experience. The thing is, Papa John's pizza is better than those other guys -- but -- he's not so much better that he doesn't care. He's still in the game, advertising and making sure that the other guys aren't nipping at his heels. His pizza is at a higher cost, but he knows he's not so old-money that he could get away with charging a bit more and expanding his repertoire -- his faithful would probably accuse him of forgetting where he's from and selling out. Papa John does not want that kind of press.

Upper crust: BJ's, CPK
Take-out, but no delivery; calculated ambiance; higher prices -- BJ's and CPK offer designer topping options and booze, and they don't even pay attention to what the little guys are doing with their cheap pizza and limited time offers. In fact, they're so elite that they don't even serve just pizza -- they've got fancy salads and basic pastas too, among other entrees to entice potential consumers into the fabulous side of pizza. Careful, pizzagoers. That kind of lifestyle may seem glamorous, but it's not for everyone.

On another note...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Something to look forward to!

International Dunk Blogging Day! on January 2nd. Click the icon to go to the official blog. I've been needing something to spice up my winter break!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I hope at least one of my approximately three readers is watching this.

I myself needed to catch up last night but once I did my glee exploded out of me like Vinny's vodka-scented perspiration.

Jersey Shore is a cultural behemoth. These kids wear their Italian heritage on their sleeves, but they make sure to express that they don't represent Italians; rather, they represent guidos. Never mind that the term used to be (and still is, in the eyes of the Italian-American PR organizations that have protested this show) a pejorative slur for Italian-Americans, the guidos and guidettes on the show have consciously taken all of the worst stereotypes attributed to their culture and amplified them, but it's not out of irony -- it's out of love for the image. And for themselves. They've made guido culture a completely separate entity from Italian identity, and they are using this show to display to the rest of the world how awesome it is to be a guido. They love being Italian, sure, but on a completely different and separate level, they love being guidos.

And I can't get enough of having them on my TV. This is perhaps the trashiest show MTV has ever aired, which explains why it's up there for me with Rock of Love and The Bad Girls' Club. What can I do, therefore, to put my love out there for the world to see? Stick my name in the Jersey Shore Nickname Generator, of course:

Ladies and gents, I'd really love it if from now on, we could refer to me by my true identity, never articulated properly until today - A-Scream.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Investigative reporting you can laugh at

In probably the most asinine news coverage since Balloon Boy, the media has taken to claiming that attacks on red-headed kids in Calabasas yesterday were inspired by a 5 year old episode of South Park. A few articles even claimed that South Park actually made up the word "ginger."

After some hearty lulz and helpful cluing in by commenters, more thought out stories were published by the end of the day that included mentions of the South Park episode as a satirical episode using Cartman's prejudice against gingers to ridicule general prejudice against given groups.

Even if this story wasn't an earth-shattering mega-important world news story, it's just yet another point scored against proper investigative reporting. It's easy to blame a show like South Park for the creation of the alleged catalyst Facebook group "Kick a Ginger Day," because on the surface South Park has always remained a crass and offensive (to those with delicate sensibilities) show. And because not all of the episodes are trying to portray a specific message, it's not hard to imagine that many might have just seen one episode of the show and written it off as simply crass and offensive. For those of you who are just tuning in to South Park for the first time, here's a big clue in how to analyze the show: almost anything that Eric Cartman likes, or advocates, is NOT meant to be taken seriously and in fact usually is the focal point of the satire. Therefore, in this instance, because Cartman was the one encouraging violence against gingers, the intended message is NOT to agree with him.

Journalists need to stop relying on what the most sensational headlines and stories will be when they're covering what is obviously a very real problem, wherein middle school kids think it's actually okay to beat up red-headed kids. This is just another example of "Blame the Internet!" and "Blame that television box!" when the reality is that those children have parents that have failed to teach them right from wrong. It's one thing to laugh at a ginger joke. It's another thing to think it's okay to actually beat up on gingers, and it's not the Internet or South Park that stripped those kids of their morality. So reporters - I beg you - when you're doing your fancy investigative journalism, I know it seems like the most important thing to get your story up on the internet faster than everyone else, but don't employ the same trite media cliches of blaming the TV because it's the first thing that came to your mind when you were racking your brain about why on earth these sweet little kids would do such a horrible thing. If you think South Park is the reason, I can tell you unequivocally that you are wrong. The reason is that those are not sweet little kids.

At least one blog that my Google News dug up seems to have gotten it right.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I wish I had the guts to say in high school/college... (Part 1 of who knows how many)

I'd been on losing teams before, extremely hapless teams that sucked at doing anything resembling soccer. But, though every game was frustrating, and though we never liked losing, we still liked each other. And, equally important to me as a competitive person, we still practiced before games like we meant it. Even though we knew were probably going to lose, we put the effort in to practice, knowing that if we did manage to get better, we could actually win.

So that was the work ethic I came in with when I joined the Buckley soccer team my freshman year. Suffice it to say, as the years went by, that the losses never got less frustrating - but that wouldn't have mattered if I actually felt like my teammates had any respect: for the game, for our coach (not that he really commanded respect), or for the teammates that actually cared. I couldn't have predicted at the time how bitter I still am today about those years on the team, and even though I just mentioned how I felt my teammates were lacking, the truth is that all of that could have been fixed if my coach had any idea how to motivate and coach teenage girls.

Coach, you rewarded disrespect and poor behavior. You allowed practices to become wastes of everyone's time by not enforcing quality drills. You fostered the sense of entitlement that grew exponentially every year on that team, that allowed my teammates to somehow think we deserved to win games without putting in any effort for it. You under-utilized my talent and dedication, considering that during any given year I was one of fewer than five girls who actually played soccer outside of Buckley. You allowed the girls who took practice seriously to be ridiculed for caring too much. You cultivated egos of girls who possessed neither the talent nor the leadership ability to inspire any of us to understand why you had rewarded them with team awards and captain positions. By the time I was a captain my senior year, I hardly felt like it was an honor because of what the role had already become before I even had a chance to step into it. You made what was supposed to be a fun extracurricular, intended to take my mind off of classwork and social stresses, into a chore that only spawned new social stresses.

I continued to play because I love(d) soccer, but now I realize that what we were playing was a bastardization of soccer and barely worth my time.

File under: Crimes Against Humanity

Until Glee, Hollywood never saw fit to introduce this man into pop culture for me to ogle on my television.

I can only imagine how much more enjoyable dreck like Transformers might have been if the girls in the audience had been gifted hot pieces like Mark Salling to gaze upon instead of Shia Lebouf, since we know that was pretty much Megan Fox's purpose in the movie for the guys.

In fact, just consider this my open letter to casting agents. While the teenyboppers might be attempting to persuade you to put Robert Pattinson in everything you're ever planning on making, I'd like to implore you to reconsider in favor of the hot mo-hawk dude from Glee.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Suitably kooky, pleasantly catchy

For the past week Lady Gaga's new single has been stuck in my head. And I've found that I don't especially mind.

For one thing, I love the video. Michael K from DListed had this to say about it: "If Chris Crocker shot a parody of a Nip/Tuck promo on the bath house set of Eastern Promises, it would look just like Lady CaCa's new video for Bad Romance. That basically sums it up. That might be a compliment, but I'm not sure." I have to agree that his quote is a pretty accurate description, and for me it falls on the side of complimentary.

Make no mistake - Lady Gaga is wacked out, ya'll. She's born as some kind of weird spiky-headed robot bath house prostitute (at least from my interpretation of the thing) and proceeds to wear all assortments of bizarre ensembles - including a pair of those batshit Alexander McQueen shoes that even Vogue personnel had no idea what to with them when they were sent over to the magazine's offices. But in this video, she also has moments where she's allowed herself to look soft. It's something you never see from her and she actually looked gorgeous (great, considering that she's definitely not one of those conventionally attractive half-singers that was plucked out of the Mickey Mouse club to have a record deal.)

As for the song itself, like I said in the title: pleasantly catchy. I love that she actually sings in it, and I love that it has the earnestness of one of those mid-90's diva power ballads set to a dance beat. Even though it's a late release for 2009, it's quickly become one of my favorite pop singles of the year... which, knowing me and how much I listen to pop music, is saying a lot, because essentially most pop for me falls into "unlistenable" and "tolerable," with very few in the latter category actually transcending into "good" (in my humble listening opinion.)

I've defended Gaga's music on here before, even despite me having had her album The Fame and deciding that most of it didn't do anything for me. But three of her singles have been solid songs that I've really enjoyed (Just Dance, Paparazzi, and Bad Romance) and I can really overall respect the fact that she's actually a genuine singer-songwriter, having performed a lot in New York before she was ever "discovered." I love the following Youtube video because it reveals her raw talent but you can also see touches of the eccentricity that has become part of her shtick today as a bonafide famous person.

I'm thinking that I definitely will want to check out her upcoming album, as even if the first one in its entirety didn't make the cut to stay on my iTunes, she interests me enough that I don't mind following her career.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why I love 99 Ranch Market

My mom sent me on a routine errand to the Valley's 99 Ranch location the other day, and though I'd been before I'd forgotten about what an awesome place it is. Here's a couple of reasons why it's a pretty boss store (despite the inherent jank of it being in Van Nuys):

1. Observing the differences between what the white people buy and what the Chinese people buy
I was sent because they have really cheap oyster mushrooms, and then I consequently spent 10 minutes in the tea isle (more on that later.) I loved watching all of the equally lame as I white people buy frozen chow mein, Asian pears, other random ordinary produce, Hello Panda cookies, and sushi packages; meanwhile, the Chinese shoppers were surveying gelatinized pork blood, assorted fish meatballs, beef heart, dried and salted talapia, and other various shelf items that were hardcore enough not to bother with English translations on the package. There's nothing quite like feeling all cultured when you show up at an ethnic market, only to buy the most white-bread stuff in the store.

2. The tea isle.
Like I said, I spent a good 10 minutes just staring at all of the delicious options. Since I have a problem where I cannot enter a Thai restaurant or boba shop without ordering a Thai iced tea (hold the boba,) I knew I had to hook myself up with boxes and boxes of the stuff. But then, I wasn't sure what else to get to supplement that with. Should I go for the standard but tasty bubble/milk tea that seems easy to make but I could never get right? Should I sample any one of the seemingly hundreds of jasmine green tea options? Perhaps honey milk jasmine green tea? At the end of the day, I stuck to my Caucasian guns and bought what I knew - the milk tea. And I had some this morning, and it was bitchin'.

3. Seeing American food with Asian characters on it
I just find this weirdly amusing. Kind of like when you get something in the supermarket that has one side of the box in English and a Spanish side surprise on the other. I don't mean this like some random sauce or package that has multiple languages on it - I literally mean, like, Easy Mac with Bacon in Chinese. Or Cinnamon Toast Crunch in Chinese.

4. Almost getting killed by sweet old Asian ladies pushing their carts
They're not actually sweet, but they are old, and they don't look back or apologize when I dive out of the way and hide behind the squid and octopus tank. I love them. I want to grow up and scare children and young adults with the same reckless abandon.

5. The store itself scares and traumatizes young (white) children
I had never been to the store for the first 10-15 years of my life just because my parents never bothered taking me, but I knew all about it from my sister. She found the smell to be horrific, and to this day she likes to remember the store as some kind of open air meat market with animal carcasses hanging in the back where the meat is as if they slaughter them on-site. She has never gone back.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A two-and-a-half hour long WTF moment

Last night I was with a group of people, one of whom put on the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer saying that his brother had recommended it to him. I should note that the last time this happened to me, specifically where a family member recommended a dark-themed movie to one of my friends, I ended up seeing Kids in the GPhi TV room with Michelle. And that was the most disturbing film I'd ever seen -- right up there with Requiem for a Dream, except that I found Requiem to be less exploitative and therefore, to me, more acceptable.

The comparison turned out to be pretty on par. I hated Perfume. The Cliff's Notes version of the story is this: the protagonist is an orphan, sold into slavery. He is blessed with an exceptional nose that can detect any aroma/scent/fragrance/odor for (the film would have you believe) miles, and his gift lands him working for a perfumist (not the correct term, but I don't care) in Paris. Within the first 20 minutes, he comes across the most delightful smell he's ever encountered: the smell of a girl walking down the street. He creepily stalks behind her and sniffs her; when she is frightened and tries to escape, he holds her down and ends up strangling her. He's devastated when, upon her death, her scent evaporates and is lost. This experience causes him through is work in the perfume labs to want to be able to capture any scent forever.

So time goes by (over an hour) and he finds out how to capture the scent of a woman, but the catch is, they have to be dead, and he has to immediately wrap their bodies in cheesecloth soaked in animal fat to catch the scents before the leave the corpses. So he goes on a killing spree, bottling the fragrances of as many beautiful girls as he thinks it will take to make the perfect perfume.

For the sake of you reading this whose curiosity might just drive you to actually see this movie, I'll not tell you what happens at the end. I'll simply note that when I was watching it, I said "This is the dumbest shit I have ever seen, and that includes the Paris Hilton sorority movie." Which is pretty much true. In different ways, the two films were equally offensive to me.

I had heard of the film before, but I hadn't heard much about what people thought of it. So after my loathing reaction last night, I took to the internet to find out what kind of mass consumer appeal it had. As it turns out, it's one of those love-it-or-hate-it types of films where the people who hate it don't understand how anyone could love it (me) and the people who love it think the people who hate it just don't understand art. And sure, I could see that the way it was filmed was artistically pleasing - it took great care to paint stunning visual images in every scene. It had a magical realism vibe to it, which in and of itself does frequently seem to lend an aura of creativity to films and books that utilize it.

But in the end, I just couldn't get over the disgusting misogyny of the story. Thirteen women die in the film so that he can make an otherworldly perfume, disposable women who we intentionally are given very little background about because we're not supposed to care if they die. I saw this argument made on some IMDB boards that I was perusing to read other people's thoughts on it, and a lot of the comments against the argument were singing the tune of "You're missing the point," "You're making a big deal out of nothing," "It's just a movie, it's not supposed to reflect reality," and "It was creatively done, and everyone knows it's not possible, it's just for the story." I just can't disagree more. This movie, for me, was no different than a stupid slasher movie with some dude going around killing girls (but even slasher movies slay the occasional guy.) Just because you throw some sepia-tone on the film and the background motive of trying to create something beautiful, it doesn't justify the plethora of stories in cinema that do little else other than to perpetuate the notion that violence against women makes for worthwhile entertainment.

The one thing that kills me, because the truth hurts, is that something I read over and over on from established critics is that this movie is the type that "love it or hate it, it stays with you." That's the truth - I can't stop thinking about it. It's on my mind enough that I wrote a lengthy blog post on it, even though the sardonic bit of me would like to believe that the freaking 2.5 hours I spent watching the movie were a huge waste and I'd rather not waste more time thinking about it. I guess then, that's one area in which the movie is a huge success. You can love it, love the provocative story, and want to recommend it, or you can hate it, hate the provocative story, but find yourself unable to forget it.

It's Kids all over again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A housekeeping note, music wise

Basically, the playlists are getting unwieldy and tough to keep up with. I may do a themed playlist from time to time, but for the most part they're going to be retired. I am fairly certain that very few people were listening to them even when I was first describing taking the time to talk about the songs, but now that I'm just kind of throwing them up without any explanation, I think it kind of defeats the purpose of trying to introduce music to my (small) audience if I don't even take the time to promote it. So.

More likely to happen is that every now and then I'll choose to highlight one song that rocked my day and talk about it a bit. I'm definitely not a music critic and I don't delude myself that my opinion is especially important. But - since I am personally so into music and have amassed such a large collection, I do think having music be entirely absent from my blog would be doing a disservice to this space I created for myself online. If it's supposed to be a window into my life or my brain or whatever, there has got to be some kind of music somewhere. So there shall be. But just in a more manageable way. And I think in a more rewarding way, since I'll actually get to share my thoughts with the song(s) instead of throwing a playlist out there carelessly.

So, without further ado:

PNAU is one of those groups whose tracks I always came across during DJ sets and EDM (electronic dance music) compilations - and always liked - but never bothered to check out one of their original artist albums. Now, three years later, I finally did, and I've been listening non-stop. I can't get enough of their sound. It's energetic and fun, and as much as I tend to be drawn to darker sounds in my EDM, something about PNAU radiates innocence. It just makes me happy.

Also, as someone with literally too much music on her iPod (I say this not in an ironic trying-to-brag-that-I-have-so-many-songs kind of way, but because I really don't know what most of the songs are when they come on. I just had heard them at one point, liked it, downloaded it, and never really gotten it burned into my brain) there's this thing that happens where music will be playing; some of it I will know, and some of it I won't know, and the trick is - if I don't know it, does it become background noise? Or am I interested enough to look at the iPod to actually see what's playing? And that's the crux of why it's been so great to re-discover PNAU. Countless times since I downloaded two PNAU albums have I been intrigued by what my magic music shuffle box is playing, to find out that it's PNAU. I love that a group is so consistently interesting that they continue to stand out among my shuffle. And some of you may be thinking "Well why do you have so much music on your iPod that you don't pay attention to?" Which is a fair point. But really depending on my mood, something I skipped the day before will perfectly fit the bill the next day. It all depends. But when a group transcends my mood swings and has the potential to land on any playlist for any mood, that's magic. Top marks for PNAU right now.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Windows 7 Adventure

So, I haven't posted an entry lately, and it hasn't been out of laziness (for once.)

A little over a week ago, my computer crashed. 1 new hard drive and copy of Windows 7 later, I was ready to get up and running. The trouble is, my getting up and running process was a complete disaster.

Last Thursday, I began the installation. Needless to say, it didn't go well. Without going into excruciating detail, I was basically running an unstable installation for about a week that would blue screen every time my computer came back from sleep mode. It would also do this annoying thing where every time I turned on the computer it flashed black a couple of times for about a second per flash. ANNOYING. Anyway - those of you who run Windows have surely encountered the infamous blue screen of death (BSOD) at least a couple of times, and those of you who run Macs probably have at least heard about it, as Apple uses the BSOD as a marketing push toward their computers.

I disabled sleep mode and ran that install for about a week, since I had a midterm last Thursday and didn't have a ton of time to fidget with it throughout the week. Then this Friday, I re-installed Windows 7 on a different hard drive so that I could go back to the files I had used on the other hard drive during the week it was running on the computer. For about 24 hours, it worked like a charm. No blue screens, no black flashes. Yay.

But then as I was transferring files yesterday, some of the hard drives connected to the computer would randomly vanish mid-transfer, thereby interrupting the transfer. Cue me exasperatedly thinking, "Oh, good, another Big Problem."

For both major issues, I had scoured the internet looking to see if other people were having similar issues (they were) and if there were solutions (there weren't.) Both times, my only option was to do another install and cross my fingers and hope it solved the problem. First retry obviously didn't work, but second retry - so far, so good. Does that mean third time's a charm with installs? Well, I'll just hope so. I don't want to have to do this again.

I had gotten to a point where I was wondering if I should just backtrack and re-install Windows XP, but the thing was, from my brief usage, I really do like Windows 7. I love the re-imagined task bar, how easy it is to pin applications, and I really like the feature that auto-resizes windows to work side-by-side. The driver installation process was streamlined after every install, and I think the overall look is great. Windows Aero, inspired by the Mac OS, is also a great feature that I enjoy. I didn't want to revert back to XP, because there were a lot of things that 7 has really gotten right.

My install process was a nightmare, but now that I'm finally working again I'm looking forward to exploring this new system further and seeing what it has to offer. I'm also planning on posting a lot in the next few days to catch up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What gives, Apple?

My class was canceled today, so I'm bored enough to write a blog post three days in a row. Yay. Today, I take on Apple.

Since I know people get rabid about this, let me start right off the bat by saying I'm not really a huge PC fanboygirl. I do prefer to use PCs in general because I like building my own machines and being able to replace parts, but I don't really have a problem with Apple's products (other than that I find them to be a wee bit expensive.)

I do, however, have a spot of trouble with the Apple Image™. It bugs me that Microsoft et. al (aka PC people) are the nasty corporationey corporations, and Apple is the friendly little guy. It may be that as far as companies go, Apple is friendly (I wouldn't really know), but they are just so damn proprietary. And as much as they appeal to "creative types," (and I'm being generous when I say that, rather than, for instance, "pompous hipsters") there are some issues with iTunes and the iPods that really eat at audiophiles and even some mid-upper level music collectors in general; the annoyance often extends to the point that many of those types of people look elsewhere for portable music players and music playing software. It's ironic that despite Apple truly mastering and maintaining the standard for portable music players meanwhile purporting themselves as an upper-echelon brand, they've failed to hold onto the truly elite music aficionados.

I don't even place myself in that category - I have way too much music in a lossy format that I don't have the energy to replace with higher quality audio - but it does bother me that when I choose to download *cough* buy music that is completely uncompressed (that is, it retains 100% of the original sound quality intended by the artist and production team), there is only one lossless format that Apple will allow to play on iTunes and the iPod, even though numerous other formats exist.

And since I kind of went there earlier, allow me to mention that you can only buy lowish quality 128kb/s bitrate Apple-coded files (AAC format) from the iTunes store the majority of the time. I believe one record company did authorize the release of 256kb/s (basically double the quality) songs for $0.30 more per song through the iTunes store, but as of yet that is all that Apple has done to acknowledge higher quality song files and provide them to the consumer. Considering how many people use the store and the iPod, I find that kind of sad. Apple would like me to believe that they are the kind of company that's giving the average consumer a better, classier option, but in their music-related market (arguably a huge aspect of the company) that's simply not the case.

On another note, I bought some awesome rain boots and they finally came yesterday. I'd never owned them before because I thought it was kind of silly to have hardcore rain boots here, but a combination of two factors made me reconsider my opinion:
1) Since I'm living at home again now, I don't really think that my mom would be super stoked about me wearing my flip-flops in the rain like I usually do. It's her job to worry, she's a mother!
2) With an El Niño coming this winter, it's likely to be rainier than usual. So why not?
Besides, they're so freaking sweet. I love houndstooth!

And with that, here's some more music...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Everyone knows I love bacon, but this will be new.

I love bean sprouts.

My choice sushi joint in the Valley serves a bean sprout appetizer along with miso soup when you walk in the door, and I usually end up eating several servings of them.

They weren't something I ever thought to pick up at the store, but when my mom needed some last night to go into an Asian-inspired peanut sauce pasta she was making last night, I bought a lot more than she needed - and I plan on cooking them up for myself for the rest of the week.

In addition to the superfluous playlist of the day, which will be at the end as always, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to one song in particular. I am sure it has been included on a previous playlist, but I think it's special enough to deserve its own spotlight. It has one of the sickest bass drops I've heard in awhile almost a minute in - a standout remix of an already great song.

And here's the rest...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Almost scary time

Halloween gives me anxiety. While I usually have nothing but love and appreciation for holidays that promote drinking and revelry in excess, the anticipation that surrounds Halloween gets me worked up about it to such an extent that I blow my excitement payload about a week too early. And the costumes. Because I'm so cheap, I refuse to buy costumes from the store on principle unless I can find a truly awesome one (Moses rendered transgender qualifies.) Among other issues, this is one of the main reasons why I've never bought a slutty women's costume - I cannot justify spending $80 per costume at Aahs for so little fabric. So in recent years, my costumes have been rather half-assed, but just ridiculous enough to make up for it. They're like the costume version of a dry, pithy one-liner.

I saw this costume and laughed to myself at how ungodly unreasonable it was for the designers to imagine women actually walking around in this (potentially NSFW):

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Egads! Precipitation!

I'm always gifted great amusement by non-LA natives going apeshit at the sign of the first rain. They'll either make the clichéd joke about how it's *actually* raining in LA, or they'll make the clichéd joke about LA people not knowing what to do with themselves in the rain. I feel like both of those jokes stopped being funny before I was ever born and had to hear them uttered. For one thing, jokes about the weather are still comments about the weather - you say them because you have nothing more interesting to say. Secondly, even though I'm not oblivious to facetiousness and I know there is a bit of that involved when people say such things about Angelenos and the rain, still - come on. Rain happens here. It's not news. It maybe doesn't happen as often, or as hard, but it happens. It doesn't send anyone into shock; it doesn't send anyone screaming for shelter into their homes destined to never emerge until the sun triumphantly pimp-slaps the rainclouds back up to the Pacific northwest.

So one may wonder why I used "amusement" to describe these bouts of hapless rain-related humor. Basically, it's because - as I mentioned - it's the non-LA natives that tend to be the ones making the fuss about it raining just by chiding [the perception] that we LA folk are making a fuss about it raining. It's very meta.

Here's how, as an Angeleno, rain actually affects me:

1) Our drought may be taken care of
2) People drive slower, but that may just counteract the fact that people drive like Speed Racer around here on a normal day
3) I get to wear disproportionately hardy winter clothing just for winter clothing's sake.

Pretty normal stuff, right?

So I'm tempted on a pretty daily basis by El Tepeyac. It's 2 minutes from the USC Health Sciences campus, and has the hugest burritos I've ever seen. More importantly, they're delicious. And since (I duly believe) most of you know that I could eat Mexican food/guacamole for every meal of my life, I'm in a constant struggle with my sensibilities not to go there every single day. But I'm going tomorrow for dinner. So I'll be able to feast freely and hopefully get a grip on those cravings for awhile.

Finally, since I've been neglecting you all musically over the past couple of posts (ha), here's another extra-long playlist.

Bored with all of my shoes, trying to remedy situation

Some of my friends and fellow bloggers (Laura and Tiffany) have actual good taste and confidence in that taste, and are therefore able to post sartorial items on their blog and proclaim their awesomeness. I lack said taste and confidence, and therefore will continue to call upon my [small] audience for suggestions (and since I know Tiff and LG are reading, this is good for me.)

Currently in my shopping bag - all good calls?

I feel like my current selection is woefully inadequate for fall/winter formal looks, and I think these could supplement what I have nicely. I'm also thinking about doing away with some of what I have entirely, so I'm not concerned about having - for instance - too many black shoes, since I kind of hate most of the black ones I already have.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quick poll :)

So, if I own


(ankle-high, med-soft matte leather, 3.5 inch heel)


(knee-high, studded/embellished, hard mild-lustre leather, 3.5 inch heel)

and these

(mid-calf, studded/embellished, med-soft leather, flat)


are these or something like them overkill?
Mid calf, flat, med-soft mild-lustre leather boots.

My rationale is that I should have a pair of plain black flat boots, but considering my three other pairs of black boots I'm wondering if I should just rock the embellishment (since clearly I am drawn to it) and forget about a plain pair. (The pair linked is less than $50 on ebay right now if that makes a difference.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Commenting issues resolved :]

So thanks to LG I realized that the layout I used to have that I thought was really cool was actually really shiesty and didn't let anyone comment. So I'm not really sure how many of you actually tried anyway, making this whole post a bit on the side of awkward, but I just wanted to let you all know that since I have a new layout that I hope is actually really cool, and since LG and I tested the comments, they work now. So go forth and write stuff, if you want.

Nearly speechless.

I'm sure this is breaking nationally as we speak, especially on the heels of the murder of Annie Le, a graduate student at Yale University.

Another female student in critical condition after she was attacked in the lab today by a male student. Where? Oh, actually it happened at UCLA.

I'm stunned.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A quick musical note

I just wanted to thank So You Think You Can Dance for bringing a song I used to love back into my life:

"Touched" by VAST.

Also on that note, this site has a comprehensive list of all the music featured on the show, in case you wanted to know what a song was. (I know I have.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

I wish I were a foodie.

So, how awesome is Top Chef this season?

I'm totally loving it! I love that they stepped up their game this season and picked a crop of chefs that includes James Beard Award nominees, a Michelin star recipient, protegees of extremely well-regarded chefs, etc, rather than the usual crop of caterers or would-be restaurant owners (not that there is anything wrong with them.)

There are two things that make me sad about watching the show:
1) I'm allergic to shellfish, so I can't eat about 1/3 of what they cook (hello, scallops? Freaking everyone cooks freaking scallops)
2) I don't actually have a very refined palate and tend to think everything is delicious, so I feel that I would be one of those diners that would just go "Wowee I just adored EVERYTHING!"

If I could, I'd hit up some of the better restaurants in LA from time to time, but being eternally a student does have its downfalls (i.e. I'm still pretty much below the poverty line, even if I am squatting at my parents' this year.)

This is my Top Chef fantasy team this season:

I learned about these goofy fantasy teams on this site Fafarazzi awhile ago, and I don't really do anything with them other than try to score points each week and feel proud of myself for pretty much no reason. I also have fantasy teams for Project Runway and America's Next Top Model at the moment, and I'm going to put one together for So You Think You Can Dance when the Top 20 is assembled. Anyway!

I think the upper echelon of chefs on the show at the moment are the brothers Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, Kevin, and Jennifer from Philly. (That's her name to me.) The favorite chefs in the elimination challenge are usually some combination of these four, give or take, and possibly another chef who did well that particular week.

I love Jen from Philly. She's badass, trained/works with Eric Ripert, a top chef in NYC, and she basically just kicks ass and takes names in the kitchen.

My love to hate? Mike I. I knew I wouldn't like him when on Episode 1, he was racing against Jen from Philly to shuck oysters and he interviews "I couldn't believe that - no offense - a girl was beating me. I couldn't let that happen." And then he kind of proceeded to make several more comments of that nature in the first couple of episodes. Besides that, his food is so inconsistent. He's on the top one week, the bottom another, but more importantly, every single week he cooks some kind of obviously Greek food. It's not my favorite kind of food to begin with, but more importantly in this competition variety is the spice of life and he's really falling short.

I was bummed there was no new episode last week, but here's to drooling in anticipation until Wednesday...

America's Most Hated

I'm fascinated in spite of myself by the constant ill-will that certain pop culture figures earn just by, it seems, simply existing. I, like most people I'm sure, tend to view those people in any of three categories: 1) Don't hate them and don't get the hate, 2) Do hate them, 3) Understand the hate but like them anyway. To illustrate:

I don't get the hate:
1. Megan Fox
So first off I know that not everyone hates her. She's got a large male fanbase. But the males that aren't her fans, and most females, seem to have taken to rabidly hating her to counteract the lust coming from said fanbase. I can't for the life of me figure out why. Her "faults" as I've observed seem to include being too pretty (to which I say, whatever, haters to the left), not censoring herself in interviews (my comment here is that she's said a few boneheaded things but mostly I think her lack of filter keeps her interesting, so kudos to her), being an idiot (as I mentioned, she seems to have said in my estimation a few dumb things, but I think this is a harsh criticism, as even if she's no genius she's certainly not more stupid than several other less-hated starlets with her same level of celebrity), being a whore (so she plays up her sexpot image in photoshoots, but as far as I know she's been with the same guy for several years... and that's not taking into account the debatable merits of calling a woman a "whore" to discount her worth), and being a bad actor (which I can't disagree with, but again there are plenty of other celebrities that get away with murder on their projects acting-wise and don't get the kind of vitriol that Megan Fox gets.) So in general, if you were able to make it through the longest sentence ever, I think she's harshly judged and I don't get why.

2. Jennifer Aniston
This poor woman just can't catch a break in my estimation. I'm not on Team Jennifer vs. Team Angelina because I don't care specifically about that drama. I feel bad for her now because I do think that immediately in the aftermath of her breakup with Brad, she mistakenly played into the media's framing of her as the tragic dumpee because she perhaps thought it would gain her sympathy. At this point, I think she has tried to move past that, but she's still getting written about as if she were this pathetic person with a miserable love life. And even worse, the Internet bloggers eviscerate her by accusing her of loving that kind of media attention. I don't know Ms. Aniston personally (obviously) but I've heard enough in-person interviews with her to get the impression that she's pretty down-to-earth and totally over what happened several years ago, no matter how much others want to dredge it up.

I get the hate and fully co-sign:
1. Jon Gosselin
I so tired of hearing about this guy (and frankly all of the Gosselins), but at the same time, every time I hear some new stunt that Jon has pulled after the divorce I have a worse and worse opinion of him. Especially in the last week it seems that Jon has pulled out all of the stops in his Douche Quest 2009, whether it was throwing a hissy fit via lawyers and a poorly spelled sign on the property when TLC ousted his name from the title of the show, or the recent revelation that he emptied his joint account with Kate that is supposed to be for the kids (!!), this guy really screwed up the hand he was dealt. I mean, he went from having the sympathy of many for being married to ball-buster Kate, to an Ed Hardy sporting poster manchild of Extreme Douchebaggery.

2. Katherine Heigl
I don't like her because I think she is a hypocrite. She and Megan Fox have both been been lambasted because they had the gall to criticize directors or projects they've worked on in the past, which I don't think is inherently wrong or just cause for scrutiny. However, Katherine brought the level of a-hole up a notch when she basically gave the finger in print to the writers of Grey's Anatomy in announcing her non-eligibility for that year's Emmys while she was still on the show. Then, she mentioned that she felt her character in Knocked Up was a sexist stereotype, and I felt that she did have a right to say so. But my annoyance developed when she went on to choose even more one-dimensional, stereotypical characters (27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth), and I couldn't help but wonder if she wasn't just airing a personal beef with Judd Apatow et. al by trashing their particular movie. In that scenario, she's unprofessional at best. In another likelier scenario, she's just a hypocrite. She'll keep on choosing sexist roles as long as she gets her Almighty Paycheck, even if they are of the ilk that she's denounced in the past. And I just can't respect that.

I get the hate, but I don't care.
1. Lady Gaga/Kanye West
Both of these inhabit one spot because I feel the exact same way about both of them. I find both of their public personas irritating, ostentatious, and ultimately flash-in-the-pan. I don't consistently enjoy either of their music, but they both have released songs that I do like. However, I do think that (ESPECIALLY when compared to some of their contemporaries) they possess talent in their craft, and within the arena of pop music one could do worse than listen to Kanye or Gaga. People have been crowing with delight at the news that their joint tour was canceled, but I think it would have been a fascinating show due to both of their showmanship and particularly Gaga's proclivity to completely re-work her songs when she sings them live. So I kinda get why people don't like them, but I can't bring myself to hate them because I think they have redeeming qualities.

2. Jessica Simpson
I mostly would just like to see her left alone. She was a crappy pop songstress at the height of her fame, and she was able to capitalize on her (at the time) relationship with Nick Lachey. Now she's not really relevant in mainstream pop culture, despite releasing country records. So I just can't understand for the life of me why people get up the emotion to hate on her still rather than just leaving her alone and ceasing to write about her. She's a non-issue at this point, and unlike other has-beens of her era, she doesn't seem to be always attempting to draw attention to herself every time she goes out. This isn't a "LEAVE JESSICA ALONE!!!" so much as it is a "Why are we still talking about Jessica Simpson?" I'm just really neutral on her entire existence and am surprised that people still seem to take her so seriously.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pumped for the weekend

I pretty much have no plans, but I've been tired and feeling very pressed for time all week. I'm not exactly sure why. Well... I did have a midterm today, but it was open-note, so I wasn't exactly feeling the heat on that front. It was just one of those weeks, I guess.

This Roman Polanski shit really bothers me. I'm not even going to get into it. Suffice it to say that his supporters confound and enrage me.

What else... oh, there are a few things that I want/need to buy, but I overindulged a bit this month. I'd love to get a pair of black mid-calf boots with a low wedge, similar to a pair of brown Fryes I already have. Additionally, there is this black leather obi style belt on ebay that I keep almost buying, but then I'm never sure what I'd wear it with. New Rainbow sandals. Need some, wondering which variety I want. New black Uggs, since the ones I had were fake Uggs and just nowhere near as soft and durable on the inside (and frankly given how fugly Ugg boots are, the inside is what matters.) Shoes in general - I'm kind of over mine.

The lab I'm working in the semester promises to be pretty laid-back. I'm only needed twice a week, and I'm the lone (temporary) genetics person so it seems that I'm going to be doing a lot of stuff similar to what I did in undergrad in terms of analyzing genetic screens. I am kind of wondering if, despite genetics being my favorite thing to learn more about, I actually want to do genetics work. A lot of it is very data-processing oriented as it gets more and more into complex disease study, and that's kind of where the field is at right now. We'll see.

I really want to see Whip It, Zombieland, and Where the Wild Things Are when it comes out.

In honor of my anticipation building for the weekend, here's an extra long weekend playlist.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who's to blame?

So you know how when you go to college and they do the safety/sexual assault talk, they're always basically talking to the girls? There are all of these tips that they give women to reduce the likelihood that they'll be assaulted or raped. They run the gamut from common sense to rather insulting, and some ideas are the kind that seem like innocuous safety givens but actually do set up the victims to be blamed for their assaults.

We're told not to walk alone at night, not to ever put our drinks down, not to drink too much in general, not to wear clothes that are too revealing, not to have a lot of [consensual] sex (because then people will think you're a slut who secretly wanted it), the list goes on and on. We hear some of these things so much that as advice it becomes second nature, and we never really stop to ask ourselves why we are responsible for preventing rape or assault against ourselves, when the whole point of something like rape or assault is that it is non-consensual -- if there was some kind of fail-safe method of blocking a victim from an attacker, EVERYONE would employ it. But there isn't.

So imagine my joy when I found this great list of "Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!" (reprinted from No Not You blog):

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are committing a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

Good stuff, right? If you made it this far, let me make it perfectly clear that I understand that in this day and age there isn't the right kind of attention focused on the actions of the actual attacker (rather than the extensive list of things the victim supposedly "did wrong" that left her vulnerable to attack) so I would never advise AGAINST basic safety tips. In my mind, I think everyone - men and women - could benefit from the buddy system at night, and I always guard my drinks carefully so that I don't run the risk of getting drugged. But I'll be damned before I re-evaluate an outfit or my alcohol intake specifically because of the concern that it will be my fault that some poor boy just won't be able to handle himself and he'll feel compelled to take advantage of me. That's bullshit.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Going backward in time

My favorite movies include a weird mix of extremely violent fare, a broad spectrum of comedy, and some kids' movies.

Whether it's because of nostalgia over movies I enjoyed as an actual kid, or the catharsis of feeling innocent and/or youthful for a few hours and laughing at very silly moments, I really appreciate well-done kids' movies. And I think that some of the most poignant stories told in recent years have been done in the animated medium and at a G or PG rating.

In this category of awesome falls nearly everything Pixar has ever done, my particular favorites being Wall-E(96% on the tomatometer) and UP (97%). It's kind of cliche at this point to drool over Pixar, but I truly do think it's a wonderful thing to accomplish what they do - create films that nearly anyone from any background or age could enjoy.

When I was a legit kid, I was pretty well-satisfied with most of the Disney Princesses collection of movies, but there are a couple of animated movies that I still get a kick out of watching for one reason or another. The entries in the "pure and simple nostalgia" category include Mulan (87%), The Little Mermaid (90%), and Sleeping Beauty (90%). When I've watched those recently I've kind of relaxed back into a heightened stage of appreciation for 2D hand-drawn style animation with a goofy "Awww" expression on my face most likely for the duration of the movie. Another movie that I loved so much I actually wrote a paper on it in high school (and still adore) is Chicken Run (98%). I actually argued that this movie was a model for Joesph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" and that each of the twelve stages was apparently visible in the movie. Not to mention the fact that it's got some great lines that I still quote in my head, if not out loud, mostly because I feel that most people wouldn't remember the reference.

Over the weekend I saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (85%). First of all - best animated 3D movie ever. Second, I thought there were a lot of really cool messages in the movie for kids and adults alike, but they weren't played in an overly schmaltzy way that would make me want to vomit my popcorn and Icee on the family in front of me. Not to mention it was actually really funny! There were some obvious laughs, but a lot of random subtle things that you had to pay attention to see that were also very funny. I'd really recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of weekend escapism and reclamation of childlike glee.

And as if that weren't enough looking back fondly for the weekend, I went back to the Gamma Phi house for the last day of rush (admittedly rush not always such a fond memory) to see my sister at Preference morning. She'd been rushing all week and giving me updates every night about how things were going, and it was like vicariously being back in college for a week and experiencing the madness. (In case you haven't noticed, even though I'm still a student I'm really yearning for undergrad back big time.) It was really precious to see my little sis Hyter preffing my actual younger sister Shannon/Punk, and it made me really appreciate how far Gamma Phi came in the years that I was there.

And afterward, Punk took me on a date to Covel for dorm brunch omelets. Sweet.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Septemberfest and other indiscretions

On Saturday I attended the madness that was Septemberfest, a little beer fiesta on the Paramount lot in Hollywood. It was an interesting sight to see, beer-bellied folk sipping tasty brews pinkys-up out of tiny beer mugs. When we first roll up to the entrance, a tiny unassuming door guarded by just one security person, we're kind of wondering if we're at the right place. [Roxy's] Christopher, from the passenger's seat, rolls down the window as we're doing our snail's-pace driveby, and inquires: "Beerfest?"

A simple nod from the security guard, with arms still crossed, and the affirmative "Beerfest." We were in the right place.

The inside was a bit overwhelming. Not as crowded as I expected with people, but I just didn't know where to begin with all of the breweries, not to mention that most breweries were offering more than one selection of beer. I haven't been through enough beer-sampling training to know how to actually pack away large volumes of it (or any other liquid for that matter, my stomach gets cranky and my bladder full rather easily) so I was frequently taking breaks from pounding - both to rest my stomach and, well, the toilet. The bathroom situation at Septemberfest was woefully inadequate: 2 bathrooms, but only one inside the actual perimeter, and the one inside the perimeter had TWO STALLS. Are you people kidding me? Supplying drunkards with copious amounts of beer and only two stalls per gendered bathroom to deal with the aftermath.

And then, the amazing happened.

That, my friends, is Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale. All I can say is, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE YOU SCRUMPTIOUS AND ALSO HUMOROUS BEER. I am still overjoyed. And probably will be as long as I keep up hope that I'll be able to find it in stores. Ok, so it really wasn't the *Best* beer there, but I found it to be quite delightful, and with a name like that I just can't resist. Also, it's brewed by the Black Sheep Brewery in the UK, which those of you in GPhi will understand also has special significance to me.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is "authentic?"

Punk Says the Darndest Things:
"You know what's weird about computers? They're just bits of metal and plastic, and how can you program metal and plastic to not do something? Sometimes I think computers only work because I think they do in my mind."

So I was browsing Yelp and I keep noticing that such a common point to be made (and a concept I have indeed discussed myself in my reviews) when discussing some variety of "ethnic" food is how "authentic" it is. People get all up in arms about authenticity of the food served at X restaurant and don't leave much room to critique the taste and quality of the food itself, or the service of the restaurant, or any number of other things that could be discussed in a review.

Now, don't get me wrong right off the bat, I think it is important to acknowledge that certain cultures have long standing food traditions that are important to continue. I absolutely think that "authentic" cuisine from these cultures should be available. But I'm just starting to wonder what "authentic" is, who is the best judge of what it is, and why it is so important that every single "ethnic" restaurant subscribes to the highest level of authenticity?

In LA, I see this kind of scrutiny particularly over sushi restaurants and Mexican restaurants. One star - "This is not authentic Japanese food! Try XX restaurant instead!" The thing is... that doesn't actually tell me anything. Is it good? Are the servers nice? Is it clean? Two stars - "The burrito was tasty but REAL Mexicans laugh at this place. This isn't real Mexican food." At least I know the burrito is good. But I mean, I get that you're Mexican and have the right to be picky, but the owner and head chef of the restaurant is also Mexican. And he's serving family recipes. They're sure authentic to him - maybe your parents just served different styles and kinds of Mexican food?

It gets especially confusing when you have some people complaining about the authenticity and others boasting about how all of the hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints or sushi cafes in LA that they've tried, this is by far one of the most authentic experiences around. Then inevitably someone comes in and makes the "The people saying this place is authentic are obviously white people who have never been to Japan and therefore have no idea what real sushi is like" comment.

Which brings me to my next point. Isn't it kind of maybe ok that when your [insert culture here] family brings your culture's food to America and opens a restaurant, that it adapts? Isn't that kind of the point of a country filled with so many ethnicities? I understand that people don't like seeing their food being bastardized, and maybe I just don't understand because the food of my heritage isn't ubiquitous enough to have been bastardized -- deep fried pierogi? bacon-wrapped kielbasa? (Actually sounds pretty good, but whatever.) But I do kind of feel like it's ok for these places to cater to their customers, which in this case are multi-cultural Americans. And if I want REAL Mexican food, I can go eat at my Mexican friend's parents' house; if I want REAL sushi, I can go to Japan someday and try it out.

Which even then, I need to acknowledge that there is no universal "Mexican" standard, and my friend's parents being from a certain part of Mexico won't cook the same food as someone's parents from another part of Mexico. The same goes for Japan, I'm sure. I mean, just look at the difference between Southern cooking and "California" cuisine. Which of these styles is more "authentic" American when you're eating it in another country? I couldn't tell you.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Boys Gone Wild

...doesn't exist.

Unless, of course, it's boys not being able to handle rejection.

I already wrote briefly on my feelings about George Sodini, the murderer who opened fire on women in a gym. Here's another story about a young man who didn't like being told "no":

Daniel Floyd Williams, 18, has been charged with second-degree murder. After Bayshore [High School]'s football game Friday, Thompson and three other girls were in a car when Williams approached them, asked for sex, walked away, waved a gun and fired, hitting Thompson, deputies said.

It really upsets me that this is the world we live in, where women are killed because men think they're entitled to sex. Re-reading that, it seems too fantastical, like I just made that up. Women are killed because they reject men's sexual advances. And this is in the United States, a country that is supposedly eons ahead of -- for instance -- countries governed by fundamentalist Arabic ideals in women's rights.

I used to have the same neutral-at-best mentality that most women in the US seem to have toward feminism, the f-word. In an effort to not be lumped into a category of shrill, hairy, man-hating harpies, a lot of us remain willfully ignorant of the ways that we still truly are treated as the inferior gender, nearly a century after gaining the right to vote and decades after the second wave of feminists tried to fight the obvious oppression women experienced (see Mad Men for a pretty realistic portrayal.) In the past few years I've opened my eyes and realized that a lot of the discomfort, unfairness, and anger I felt in certain situations wasn't always just the result of general awkwardness or random hindrances -- a lot of my feelings were rooted in straight up, good old-fashioned sexism.

No one really claims that they are sexist, just like no one really claims that they are racist. But a lot of people fail to recognize sexism -- even really obvious examples -- and even worse, many people get defensive when sexism is pointed out to them. That's what's tricky about feminism. It's really easy for everyone to say, "Yes, absolutely I agree that men and women should be treated as equals in all aspects of life." It's not so easy for people to hear that something they say, do, or are involved in, is a little bit sexist. I think that's a big part of why people don't like feminists: they don't like being criticized. So feminists have to endure the criticism that they are too easily offended, humorless, and sexist against men.

If any part of this post confused or angered you, but you're still curious about what I'm trying to say, I highly encourage reading this post. It's a bit long, but I think that a lot of women can identify with something written in that article, even if they haven't previously identified as feminist.

There is ... the obdurate refusal to believe, to internalize, that my outrage is not manufactured and my injure not make-believe—an inflexible rejection of the possibility that my pain is authentic, in favor of the consolatory belief that I am angry because I'm a feminist (rather than the truth: that I'm a feminist because I'm angry).

Women -- when those guys in the bar won't leave you alone, even after you've said no? That's objectification, power play... that's sexism. When certain activities (shopping, spa treatments, et) are relegated almost exclusively to women and thereafter considered to be frivolous and generally stupid, while other things (barbecuing, interest in sports, outdoor activities) that are generally considered masculine are usually painted as "better"? That's sexism. It doesn't matter that tons of women may love doing those "manly" things - it doesn't change those activities' profiles to be non-preferentially considered by both genders; it just makes the (vast number of) women participants less of "girly girls." (And that one's a two-fer because it demeans men that are interested in traditionally "feminine" activities and robs them of their "manliness.") When representations of your gender in the movies are usually one-dimensional, and generally never truly happy until they have a handsome man in their lives? That's sexism too. When your merit as a mother is called into question because you spend a lot of time working, but the father never receives the same kind of scrutiny? I think you know what I'm going to say.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Musings over beef and Blackboard

So I should stop being intimidated of the professors in grad school. In our program meeting on Friday, the director asked who among us had started contacting their professors and informing them we were interested in working in their labs. Slightly more than half of the students raised their hands.

The rest of us glanced sheepishly around at each other, feeling pound-for-pound like the goobers that we are.

Once I get in a lab working on a project, I'm motivated. I like it a lot. I'm interested in the work. It's the reason I went to grad school. But as of right now, I'm feeling years behind everyone else because it only halfway occurred to me that I should talk to profs before getting sorted into lab rotations, and then once it did occur to me I halfway dismissed the thought out of intimidation. Then, goldfish memory that I have, I promptly forgot all about that notion until Friday.

So now I'm scrambling to contact professors, hoping that they won't have already spoken with other students and verbally committed to them. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

So few things are better than a delicious steak:

Casper and I tried out Jar Restaurant, owned by Suzanne Tracht of Top Chef Masters. I got the sirloin chop with a fried egg on top (how could I resist??) and Casper got the skirt steak. His was better than mine, but mine was also delicious. And for all of the apprehensiveness about the price, it's still cheaper than Ruth's Chris, which serves a scrumptious steak but most reasonably sized cuts are upwards of $40. At Jar, all but one of the steak selections were under that benchmark, so I'd definitely want to go back and try a different cut. Yum!

Punk Says the Darndest Things
"Last night, I had a dream that baby kittens were attacking my feet. And I was trying to shake them off, but they just kept biting me harder. And it wasn't a cute attack, it was actually really mean!"


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Close my eyes... ignore the smoke?

I feel kind of sick because I see the fire as some kind of interesting spectacle. I like looking at it night by night and seeing how the flame patterns grow and change along the mountain range. I tried to take pictures but my point-and-shoot was kind of too crappy to handle distance shooting in the dark. I genuinely feel for the people that it's affected, but for me it's something mesmerizing to watch. It's fascinating to me that for nearly a week now it's had the strength to cast a smoky, ashy cloud over all of the east SFV. It's got its own Wikipedia page and is apparently the largest California wildfire of the last 100 years. It's a beast. I'm in awe of it.

I wonder sometimes if I'm not as thick-skinned as I may let on. I'm pretty good at separating obvious sarcasm and joking put-downs from actual insults, but there are times when people straddle the line, or I know they mean whatever they're saying, and it really affects me. That's where my weakness comes in. I should be better at accepting criticism, and/or better at deflecting and ignoring mean-spirited comments. My mom gets legitimately mad at me when I make comments about my appearance being kind of manly because according to her she doesn't see how I could possibly have that opinion of myself. The truth is, I'm still thinking about some comments that were written about me on JuicyCampus a year ago (which in and of themselves dredged up some lame memories of being teased in middle school - see how farked up this gets?). I should be able to put those demons to rest by now, but for some reason I have still got issues.

On a lighter note, I've been downloading a lot of awesome new (not all of it actually new, just new to me) music lately and I'm pretty stoked about that. Maybe soon enough it will be making its way into the shuffle playlists :) Speaking of which, anyone who cares to comment: do any of ya'll actually care about the playlists still? I mean, I enjoy putting them together but I don't want to feel all pretentious and assume that anyone gives a fiddler's fart about my songs...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Chasing undergrad

I had a pretty stellar weekend, it started off seeing an amazing dance/hip-hop stage show (Groovaloo) with Courtney. I'd seen it twice before, but because it is a freestyle show and it's been on Broadway during the interim years between LA performances, it was a very different show now than the one I remember.

I was first alerted to the existence of the Groovaloos by pure chance; many of their rehearsals and the "Groove Nites" in which the group first got together took place at the studio I used to dance it. Going to the show years ago was first something that I did with other members of my studio... and then we saw just how amazing the show was. We spread the word, and the dance program at my high school found ourselves making it out to another show that of course I joined in on. I didn't know many of the members of the Groovaloos personally, but I was acquainted with Bradley Rapier, the genius who started the group, just because I danced at the studio - it was fun "showing off" to people who came to the show with me that I knew the guy in charge.

I'm pretty sure Bradley wouldn't recognize me now, but I still saw a lot of people from the studio at the show - including my ballet teacher, Olivia. It was incredible reading about all of the accolades earned and competitions won by the Groovaloos since they last performed in LA. Though I'm sure my nostalgia means little to them in the scope of their achievements, I do feel kind of a pride for the group as I felt like I was there for them at the beginning, that the first show I saw was a fledgling one... and now, seeing how they've matured and how the show was even more fantastical than I remembered, I'm just thrilled for each member of the group for what they've accomplished.

The remainder of the weekend was spent with more of my favorite people - Laura's adieu to LA bash was a riot even though BrewCo was a sweltering foyer to Hades that night. Quality time with Casper on Saturday, complete with a tasty bacon-filled dinner. It's really awesome that Casper actually volunteers to cook for me, but I do kind of fear the day that I'll have to make him something that's not breakfast or lunch food. And though times where I am dissatisfied with brunch are few and far between, Sunday morning/afternoon with Laura, Tiffany, Michelle, and a new friend named Hillary was divine indeed.

If even a small majority of my weekends can remind me so satisfyingly of college, I'm sitting pretty on a pretty sweet existence for the time being. I can't complain. And I'm really thankful for everything I've got for making it so great right now.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Everyone loves beer!

Including my new classmates!

It's nice to know that I'll have a group of friends in grad school who willingly push the start of the pool party back a few hours when class releases early, and who recognize that said earlier start time will mean that beer drinking shall commence in the AM.

And I thought I would never be faced with a 24 pack of Natty Light again!

How wonderful life is to drink during the day, suck down some H2O, take a nap in the hot hot shade, and drive home before 4PM.

Punk Says the Darndest Things:
"Are the nerves in my feet and my stomach connected? Because a lot of the time when my stomach hurts, my feet do too."


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

They don't take 50 minutes to go over the syllabus in grad school

First day of class today. Thought I was going to learn about cells; instead got a reasonably comprehensive review of basic biochemical thermodynamics. It was helpful as a memory refresher, one that fortunately I recognized fairly early on into the lecture that I needed, otherwise I would have surely started counting sheep. This stuff isn't exactly my bread and butter.

My parents keep teasing me and asking if I'm going to buy any USC clothing. I'm wondering if it would be cheating to get a "USC Keck School of Medicine" shirt. I mean, I'm not a "med student," but my program is operated through the medical school. Sorry, but no way am I going to sport a cardinal and gold USC shirt. It's really just not ever going to happen. I'll definitely buy a keychain though. I think it's the least I can do, considering I'm more than likely going to be here longer than UCLA...


Hussel - M.I.A.
A lot of people viewed M.I.A. as a one-woman musical revolution. I don't have the street cred to make such a proclamation and have people take me seriously; however, I think she's very good. This song especially rocks for me - it might be my very favorite of hers. It's very hard hitting and also very poignant.

Slide In - Goldfrapp
It seems like my shuffle is kind of giving me repeat artists this week :] Anyway, I don't think I gave Goldfrapp enough credit last time. The group made their name kind of doing soft, haunting melodies; they later transitioned to a more electro-pop dance sound. I think both sounds suit them nicely, and I like this song a lot. It hearkens back to the 80s a bit (which always works for me) and I think the vocal work is very fun and well-done.

You Look So Fine - Garbage
Garbage was my main band in middle school. I thought Shirley Manson freaking rocked (well, I still do.) This is one of my favorite Garbage songs - longing and sad, Shirley's vocals really spoke to me as an angsty middle schooler. But truthfully, this song really holds up for me and I still listen to it a lot.

Desperate Guys - The Faint
The Faint kind of seems to have a shtick to me, but I think they do it well. A good deal of their songs seem to be about sex (however ambiguously) and they definitely work the retro-electro-rock sound --this may be a good place for me to interject that I make up all of these so-called "genres" because I really just don't know what else to call them-- and I think they're generally a good band to check out. Good hipster party music.

If I Ever Recover - Basement Jaxx
A slower selection from Basement Jaxx, this song features a string symphony (or at least a good-sounding faux one) and is niiiice and pretty. I have liked this song previously as a good one to study to.

Rogues - Incubus
What can I ever say about Incubus? Well, for one thing, though I love their old stuff with all of the loyalty and nostalgia I can muster, I really do think they are getting better with age! Off 2006's Light Grenades, the musicality in this song just freaking rocks.

Feed Your Mind - Oakenfold
Ok, this will probably be enough Oakenfold to appear on this for awhile, even if shuffle keeps churning him out :] He's gotten a lot of criticism ever since, oh, say 2002, when Bunkka was released. The usual complains - he went too *mainstream*. His following production albums, including A Lively Mind, from which this song was released, did little to appease his critics. I still think he releases - if nothing else - very fun music, and this song definitely fits the bill.