Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Christian Bale

This week I am obsessed with Christian Bale.

I've known of Bale for years - Newsies, the musical about news paper boys, I've seen, along with the excellent Swing Kids, my first real introduction into Jazz and Duke Ellington. Bale impressed me most, and the critics as well, with his spot-on portrayal of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name.

This recent 'kick' I'm on is a result of watching Batman Begins for the second time, in preparation for seeing The Dark Night. Bale's ability to portray both Batman and Bruce Wayne is surpassed by none; he pulls off the wounded inner child of Wayne with a subtle hand. Bale is the best Batman ever, in my opinion, which is saying something because close friends know embarassing details about my love for Michael Keaton's Batman. So to say that Bale has surpassed this is really saying something from me.

Batman is by far my favourite super hero - I'm not much for super heros really - and as some friends have suggested, the real inspiration for my youthful gothdom. Perhaps they are right.

As a result, I've been inspired to see more of Christian's movies; The Prestige, which also stars David Bowie, Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johannson. It was excellent, beautifully shot, acted and directed. I highly recommend it.

Last night I took a trip back into the late 90's and watched Velvet Goldmine, in which Bale portrays a closeted gay youth in the glam-rock era. It also stars Ewan McGreggor as an Iggy Pop type, and Jonathan Rhys-Myers as a David Bowie type. It's campy, gay and musical, right up my alley, with exception to the musical part. But I love Bowie and Pop, so it charmed me.

What's the point of this posting? Am I going to wax on about the acting chops? The devotion to the craft? The lack of fame-whoring? No...not a bit. I am writing to make only one point:
Bale is HOT. That. Is. All.



Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midwest Teen Sex Show

Hot on the heels of my last blog entry, I discover a fantastic website that proves without a doubt that not all Americans believe that sex-ed should focus on purity alone. I knew this, but it's fantastic to see some proof.

Midwestteensexshow is a website dedicated to educating teens about sex in a funny, provocative way, that actually makes the information entertaining. Even for an adult, such as myself, who is pretty well educated on the topic, the videos are watchable because they are genuinely funny. The topics are great too - the first entry was on Female Masturbation, and actually recommends jerking off as an alternative to drugs and alcohol, which I think is a swell suggestion for teenagers. There is a section for discussions, which also include videos, on topics like "How are you preventing babies?" and "Discussing the Dong!" which use language appropriate for teenagers and allow for open discussion, with little worry for the teenager about being embarassed to ask questions.

The videos are funny, frank, and honest, while containing all of the important info teens need to know, or didn't know they needed to know. I sincerely hope this website grows in popularity - I think it may, as it was recommended to me through a trend report from trendcentral.

They even have tshirts!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ann Landers Talks To Teen-Agers About Sex

On the weekend I picked up a real gem of a book for ninety-nine cents.


It is a highly entertaining read, as it was published in 1961 and of course contains all sorts of misinformation and oddities. To be honest, it’s so hilarious, I could pretty much copy out any passage here and it would be amusing.

One thing that struck me though was the chapter on sexually transmitted infections, then commonly referred to as “VD”, short for venereal disease. The chapter is called “VD is Not An Adult Disease” and for the most part contains accurate information – as far as saying that “nice” girls get it too, and that dating certain classes of people would not prevent you from getting “VD”. What it doesn’t mention at any point in the chapter, or any point in the book at all in fact, is condoms.

Condoms were readily available in 1961, though they carried some taboo when purchasing them. In fact, condom producers in the US were making 1.5 million condoms a day by the mid 1930s so they were certainly being used.

Why then, in this helpful book on sex for teens, were condoms never mentioned, not even once? Times don’t change much it seems. The suggested method of birth control and disease prevention in this book is abstinence.

Interestingly enough, kids who may have read this book in 1961 are now in the age group with an alarming statistic attached: Rates of sexually transmitted infections have more than doubled among the over 45s in less than a decade. Men between 55 and 59 are significantly more likely to have an STI than anyone else. (source)

I’m sure there are many social and cultural reasons for this, but a part of me wonders if this type of sex-ed, (the "DON’T DO IT!!" variety) isn’t mostly responsible. After all, the book admits, kids are going to do it, that’s a given, so they should be armed with knowledge about the risks. The book however, doesn’t arm them with information on being safe, or safer. It does not tell them what to do. It only tells them what not to do. We all know how well telling a teenager not to do something goes.

America’s current approach to sex education has not changed. The sexual revolution may have changed things somewhat, at least shaken things up for a spell. But America has reverted to it’s more puritan roots. Abstinance-only education is the norm. Most teens in America are still taught it is better to wait, and be pure. They are not taught about birth control, condoms, safer sex or risk assessment. These poor kids are the adults of our future. What a crying shame that society has learned absolutely nothing about education, and the power it has, since 1961.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This Does Not Look Good on the Republicans

Today on a gossip website - Oh No They Didn't - I saw pictures of John McCain's daughter Meghan hanging out with Heidi Montag of 'The Hills', an MTV reality show featuring vapid and fame-whorish blondes from LA.


A few months ago Heidi-from-the-Hills declared herself to be a Republican and therefore a McCain supporter. This was news, apparently; it was reported on numerous news outlets. McCain kept the ball rolling by saying publicly that he would watch every episode of the show in return for her support. I'm not sure why he would do this other than for the publicity. I don't think Heidi Montag is exactly the kind of voter he wants to market himself through. Sure, he's going for the youth vote, so hooking up with a star of an MTV reality show is wise. But Heidi Montag? The show's villain who is universally despised?

Fast forward to present day. Here is Heidi and the potential first-daughter lunching together, both wearing sky high heels and toting over sized purses, at the Ivy in Los Angeles. The Ivy, if you don't know, is a notorious paparazzi hang out and the best place to go if you wish to ensure your photo will be taken, no matter how b-level famous you are. What this tells me is one of two things. Either Heidi and Meghan are real true thick-as-thieves friends, and we've just missed out on knowing this and in turn this is the reason for her support of McCain, or, Heidi was contacted by the Republican party and asked to stage this photo-op to generate publicity for the campaign.

I must admit, either way, I'm kind of terrified of what the future of American politics will bring. Next, we'll see Cindy McCain lunching with Dina Lohan in New Jersey and John himself appearing on the Two Coreys.

Should political campaigning and fame-whoring be mutually exclusive? After all they are close relatives. And Barak Obama did get press due to his "relationship" with Scarlett Johansen.

Come to think of it, Barak has simply just chosen his youth message a little more carefully. While Scarlett and Heidi are both busty young blondes, one is famous for being a thinking actress who appears in serious films and records somewhat unsuccessful yet cool Tom Waits covers, while the other is famous for...wait, what is she famous for? I think it's for being a gossipy bitch, but I'm not sure, I don't watch the show.

In essence, this seems to sum up, quite well in fact, the difference betwixt the two candidates, doesn't it? Lets hope the youth of America vote Scarlett over Heidi on this one.

See all the pictures here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fashionably Unfashionable

Hipsters. Club kids. Club hipster kids….I’m not quite sure what the variety of hipster to which I refer is called. Do they call themselves something? Perhaps they are so individualistic, they don’t have a collective name. It’s a shame really. Clearly I’m not a part of it, or I would know.

Here is what I do know, about this new genre of trendy character.

1. They seem to like American Apparel . A lot.
2. They like to ironically (I think) recycle fashion from the late 80s and early 90s
3. The worse it flatters your figure, the better.
4. If at the time it went out of fashion there was a collective sigh of “never again!” they will recycle it and wear it.
5. It must be terribly contrived and show the amount of effort involved.

Below are some examples of the exact variety of hipster to which I refer. If this is not good enough, I suggest going to Circa Nightclub in Toronto for one night, you'll have all the reference you need.









My question is, and perhaps this is a dumb question that in turn shows my age; what exact point does this fashion style have? I guess that leads to the greater question: Does fashion have to have a point? Perhaps this genre’s style is that it has no point. How very dada. I mean, if that is the point, that there is no point, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Is this what the youth of today have achieved? A collective distaste for genre to the point that genre bending is the new genre?

We all know fashion movements are touted by the youth as a way to express their individuality. Of course anyone over the age of 25 has realized that dressing the same way as a bunch of other people expressing their individuality really doesn’t result in you looking very individual at all. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I mean, maybe you just want to fit in somewhere different than you normally do. Like Goths, or Punks. Sure, they look different than the mainstream, but they are also carefully placed within a counter culture slot that is definable.

What I am getting at is that for some reason this particular brand of individualism seems rather contrived to me. Each outfit I see on Facehunter (a style bible to this set) seems anything but effortless. Isn’t looking cool all about looking like you didn’t try? Maybe I missed a memo sent out in 2005 that said looking cool is all about trying hard these days. Maybe this is all about expressing outwardly how geeky you are inside. Maybe geeky is the new cool. I don't know. But it doesn't seem effortless.

Besides paying attention to youth trends for work, I am also paying attention because sometimes you’ll see someone walking down the street, dressed in a way that sure seems like they are one of these hipsters. Then they turn to face you, and it’s actually a crackhead who is just still dressed this way, having not bought new clothes since 1991.

I don’t know about the kids, but I generally try and avoid dressing in anything that might get me mistaken for a 42 year old crackhead.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Internet Crash = Hulk Smash

My internet access has been down all week.

I can't believe how much it has bothered me. I've gotten to be equal parts angry, frustrated, annoyed and isolated. It's still not 'up', this is just a temporary fix. It's so bothersome.

Why I'm mentioning it - other than excusing my lack of posts - is it got me to thinking: What if the internet, the entire thing went down for a week?

I have visions of male office workers pouring out onto the streets, ties pulled loose, shirts untucked, guffawing loudly. Women with high heels in hand, wobbling on tired feet, feeling liberated from office boredom, looking for a glass of chardonnay. I see tweens, freaking the f*ck out, trying desperately to use their mobile phones to 'facebook' eachother. There I am, frantically trying to find somewhere, anywhere, where I can see the latest Britney Spears photos.

Its funny how we get so used to the conveniences we have, and the thought of them being taken away is too terrible to comprehend. What did people used to do when they got a flat tire, before cellphones? How did friends keep in touch when one was overseas teaching english, before facebook? How on earth did we get directions to a location before googlemaps?

Life these days seems to be about reversing these conveniences to reasonable levels; we want local foods instead of mangos in february, we are thinking about taking our bicycle instead of the car.

What would happen if the internet went away forever?
Could we ever go back to how things were?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl

Lots of talk this week about Katy Perry. (You will note, I am not linking. Find her your damn self.)

I kind of want to like her, I really do. The record company is selling me an image that appeals. And even though the song is incredibly catchy, and I don't mind her voice or delivery, I feel a little bit ill every time I hear "I Kissed A Girl".

Lots of bloggers are quick to point out that Jill Sobule did "I Kissed A Girl" first, and many of them think she did a better job as well. And while this is probably true, I don't feel to bad for Jill. I mean, the new version of her song might be the best thing to have happened to her one-hit-wonder career in ages. It's not that the concept of the song is ripped off that bothers me - I mean, isn't like, 90% of music about the same concept?

What bothers me is that Katy Perry is being sold to us as some sort of unique and independant artist, who wrote this song all by herself, and it is expressing her own experience. If this were the case, I'd likely still be annoyed, because this song is a musical equivalent to two straight girls making out in a bar to get free shots. We all turn to look, don't we? The attention getting antics are working.

The thing is, if she had actually written the song all on her own, I could give it some justification by suggesting that Ms. Perry is clever, at least clever enough to exploit this social fascination with straight girls kissing. However, since the writing credits go to four people, including two men, I feel like this is less her own concept and instead a desperate label trying to ensure a break out hit for their new darling.

The lyrics, completely devoid of any emotion, make this a party anthem. While Katy is being sold to us as some sort of indie hipster, I fear a nation full of tween pop-tarts will be kissing their girlfriends to this song during drunken bush parties while their acne-faced teen boyfriends look on with hoots and hollers. Hardly the image they are pushing on us.

The thing is, I'm all for girls making out. I really am. I'd rather it not be for the male gaze however. I'd rather it be for their own amusement. This sort of song cheapens lesbianism and bisexuality to a spectator sport; it portrays Katy's sexuality as dumb, drunk and irresponsible. It reduces women, who have actually been curious about their attraction to women, as silly, experimental tarts. I'm tired of women allowing large marketing engines exploit them for fame. I'm tired of bisexuality being painted as a phase.

This song wraps up all of those feelings in a neat little package.

Not to mention how much the video makes me want to break something.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Illustrator of the Month - July

My July selection I know very little about, except for that I adore her work. Stina Persson is an illustrator based in Stockholm Sweden, and has done work for Coca Cola, Absolut, Godiva and Sony (just to name a few of the big players) and has done editorial for Harper's Bazaar, Nylon, Flaunt, Vogue Nippon and more. Some very key names there! One to watch for sure. Her style is unique and is a blend of watercolour, collage and pen & ink. Here are three great examples. Check out her website linked above!




Disney Virgins

I have to say I'm becoming more and more horrified with what has been going on with the Disney corp lately. Is it just me, or do young Disney talents HAVE to say that they are virgins to remain under contract? Are we, the buying public, supposed to believe that it is a co-incidence that all the past and present Disney youth acts publicly say they are chaste, and plan to remain so, until marraige?

You know the Jonas Brothers have said so recently, even going so far as to wear purity rings. Um, wait a second, I'm supposed to believe three male rock musicians are going to save it 'till marraige? By choice? What perplexes me is, why must we all know about the purity pledge? If it is to be something between yourself and god, then is it really our business to know about this? To me, it seems that Britney Spears was only the tip of the iceberg for Disney. What did they learn with her career? Well, for one that proclaiming virginity would lead to great media coverage. They also learned they could push young talent around with contracts and money, forcing them to lie to their own fans to maintain an image that they themselves did not create. But why? Why is staying a virgin till marriage great press?

For one, it placates parents. Parents of young children, especially right-wing christian parents, hate to think that their children have any sexuality at all. They are horrified with the suggestion that their daughters might be curious about sex. They even put out publications aimed at keeping kids out of eachother's pants. Abstinance-only education is the norm in the USA at the moment, which has lead to higher instances of teen pregnancy, an explosion in teen STDS and a higher abortion rate as well. I don't think this is what the abstinance-advocates had in mind when they started their campaign. The fact of the matter is, when you don't educate children on the risks of their behavior, they don't figure out the risks until it is too late. After all, children are human animals and they will be curious and experiement with sex. So this media coverage of the abstinant Miley or Jonas sure sounds great to parents. This will provide an excellent role model for their children, they assume. And on paper, in the papers, in the adult media, it does. But what are the youth of today doing in their free time? They are online.

They are looking at websites that are showing leaked photos of Miley such as:


Did their parents see this image? Not likely. Why would they show their parents? The internet is the new teen escape. What this creates is a situation where kids are listening to the group, knowing full well what Miley is really getting up to, while their parents are sure their children have positive role models. What this image screams to me is that while the kid's parents, bosses and publicists are busy trying to convince everyone that Miley or the Jonas' are an innocent young kids with little to no sexuality, the reality is that they are average teenagers with desires, dreams, curiosity and the urge to be more adult then they are allowed. The really f*cked up thing about this, is that whilst they remain virgins (within popular media) Disney is quickly and efficiently whoring them out in every way they can. Sticking them on panties even. Yes, panties.

Because posing in a magazine showing your back, is much much worse then having panties with your face on them, right? And about that: Disney sold out Miley over her picture scandal, blaming the photographer, and in essence Miley herself, all the while having the very same photographer on their payroll for corporate advertising. Once these poor kids develop personalities and enter adulthood, which is happening as I type this, they will choose to step away from the virgin image, and Disney will quickly disassociate themselves. See Spears, Britney.

Today Kevin Jonas said he wants to "marry young" . Today he told the USA Today "What happened to the idea of getting married young? I don't understand why people are so afraid of getting married. I think when you find true love you should go out there and get it." Which is excellent in theory. This, you know, came from the mouth of what we are intended to believe is a 20 year old rock star. I don't know about you but it looks to me like the 20 year old might be getting married soon. After all, it's the only way. If he stays single, he can't get laid. If he gets laid, the band is screwed over by Disney. If he gets married though...isn't that just the perfect solution? All in all Disney is officially on my shit-list. I know, maybe they should have been earlier. But today, it's official.