Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Favourite

I don't usually love the really jesus-y carols, but Boney M's Christmas Album is, for me, the ultimate in feel-good retro music. Both my grandparents and parents spun this album every year growing up and we still bust a move to it every year.  Here's a favourite cut- the best part comes about 4 minutes in where you will be inspired to raise your hands in an over the head clap, and maybe even throw in a foot stomp:

My Favourite

Thursday, December 17, 2009

No One Cares

I worked for years in a photo lab. It was an interesting job because part of it was having to look at all the pictures. I say "having" because it was required that we look at all of them. Mainly to check quality but also because the police expected us to - we were expected to report any instances of child/animal abuse immediately. Believe it or not, this happened about once per year. Tell me you are abusing a child or animal and the first thing you think of is taking a picture? And then taking it for developing! Weird. People are fucked.

Anyhow other than those pics, the pics routinely developed were of a variety of things, but the most common ones were:
1. Niagara Falls
2. Weddings
3. Pets

Now this was in a time when people didn't really have digital cameras and everyone still used film. I miss film somewhat, the romance of not knowing what is going to be in that envelope is special. However, taking a million shots of something to get it just right with no additonal cost is hard to beat. So, I shoot digital even though I have an amazing film camera. I miss it. If I was richer, I'd use it all the time. In fact, if I was richer, I'd develop the (at least) 50 films I have in cold storage waiting to be developed. Maybe for an xmas gift to myself.....

Anyhow...



I was always fascinated when someone would bring in an entire roll of 24 pictures, all of their dog or cat. Fascinated in a 'what-the-fuck?' kind of way. (Incidentally, take pictures of your pets outside please. They look like crap indoors, and they get red eyes.)  I couldn't ever figure WHY someone would want 24 photos of their cat, but then again I'm not a cat person. Or dog person, for that matter. But, maybe they were hoping for a good one to frame as a gift, or to take with them away for University. I can give the benefit of the doubt, even though what I honestly thought and suspected was that these people just literally had no one and nothing else to photograph. So to deal with their lonliness, they shot their pets. It's charming, in a weird way, I guess.

The modern version of this is people posting whole albums of photos of their cat on facebook. I will reiterate that I am not a pet person so maybe I'm missing the point. But why the fuck would anyone care to look at 124 pictures of your cat? I find this to be a growing trend too. It's like people are posting pictures of their cat the way they would a new baby.
I wanted to post this in my facebook status but I am a considerate person and I do not wish to offend those who deeply love their pets. I don't know why I care really. But I do. So, I will say it here.

People. No one gives a shit about your cat or dog. Please stop posting pictures of them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Illustrator of the Month - December

I first saw the work of Angelina Wrona at a trade show. Gliclee prints on canvas of her work are now available to the mass market...but they wouldn't let me buy a show sample for wholesale. Meanies. Rule Followers. Hrumph. Guess I'll have to suck it up and order one, or find it at retail.

This is the one I wanted:


Wouldn't she be lovely in my powder room? I thought so.

Wrona blends Japanese Anime, folk art and representational styles and combines delicate, dark subjects with surreal twists and ideas. This collection of images is referred to as her 'Senta-Mental' dolls, as each one seems to live in a fairy-tale world, a world that is imagined and brought to life in the artist's Merrickville, Ontario home.

Wrona is having a show of new work beginning Sunday December 20th, 2009 at the Off the Wall Gallery in Toronto, Ontario. The gallery is at 450 Queen St. W.





Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Everyone Loves Free

So I read this blog called Oh My God, That Britni's Shameless. It's not about Britney Spears, as you might expect, but rather it is a really interesting blog that has lots of smutty stuff including an author who writes in detail about her relationship that is dominant/submissive. She's the sub, and I really enjoy her writing on that topic in particular.

Today her post is about a new online retailer, Sexy and Discreet, who specialize in phthalate-free sex toys. Good times. Even better times? They are giving toys away free. Yep. A different one each week. All you have to pay for is shipping. AND! And they've included Canada in the offer, which is stellar, since American companies rarely do that.

So yeah. I ordered this week's toy. Of course I did! Check it out. 


Table Topic Dreams

I was lucky enough to recieve this little cube of cuteness for my birthday this year. Love the packaging. I was pretty excited about it because this is one of those things you see in a store, think, "Oh, Cool!", and then determine fourty bones is way too much to spend on yourself for something so unnecessary.  Well anyhow I got it for my bday and I hadn't even asked for it which made it sweeter. Basically the concept is that this cube contains a bunch of questions that start interesting conversations.
Now, I don't really have a problem starting conversations, quite the contrary in fact. However, I thought this would drum up some interesting ones that might not happen otherwise. Well, I've really only played it once. Eddy and I busted this out the day after Halloween and spent the better part of 4 hours taking turns asking the questions and I have to say, they are pretty much the same question over and over packaged different ways.

The question is this: If money is not a consideration, what would you do if...? Like, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or, if you could go anywhere for a week, where would that be?

Which is all fine and good but the reality is money is always a consideration. Sure, I'd fly off to Sweden and buy good waterproof winter boots and bag a hot black soccer player, but unfortunately, this isn't a possibility right now. Dreaming about it is fun, but isn't this pretty much the classic "say you won the lottery..." question? Just because you word that question 60 different ways and put it in a cute little box, doesn't make it a good game.

Otherwise, the questions are so boring you don't care to answer them. Like "In your opinion, what are the seven wonders of the world?"
Good question. Let me answer that after I've travelled the globe with no consideration to cost. It's one of those questions you begin to answer and then realize you are having trouble answering because you don't really give a shit. Or know enough about international geography to answer it properly. Or give a shit.

I'm wondering if the "Not Your Mother's Dinner Party" is a better version of the game, one of the sample questions is "Would you rather be addicted to gambling or food". Well, we already know the answer to that question, since my near life-consuming addiction to salt and vinegar chips is pretty well known. And I'm happy about it, and not planning on changing it either. Happily addicted.

I think a rousing game of "I've Never" might be more fun. At least you can target other people at the table with entries such as "I've never dated a homeless dude" or "I've never had sex in a  church parking lot".

What I think a product like this is good for is people who can't dream. I say this and you are probably thinking, "Oh, you are bonkers, everyone can dream!" Nay. Nay I say, let me tell you something. My dad can not dream. That man, he's incapable. If you said to him, "Dad, you won ten million dollars in the lottery today, what would you like to do?" He'd literally not be able to come up with an answer. He'd argue with you about the source of the money and somehow it would turn into a lecture about what the average income was in 1976 and what it is now and how fucked up the world is.

For people that that, this game is excellent. Unfortunately, people like that don't like to play games.

Dreaming is easy for me. I spend more time dreaming than actually doing and I wouldn't change that. I might spend more time doing, but I'd have to increase the amount of dreaming time appropriately.

If I won ten million dollars, I'd book this resort out and take all my friends. We'd eat fresh sugar cane and soursop fruits and salt fish and ackee and curry goat and  drink buckets of Red Stripe and have pockets full of the bush weed we wouldn't even bother with,  heading out daily to the jungle to spend five american dollars on the good stuff. Sigh. Goldeneye is Ian Fleming's (author of the James Bond series) estate in Jamaica that is now a resort. 18 acres, and only a few beds, maybe enough to take a couple dozen people with me at most, and they'd have to share beds. Not me though, I'd have a villa all to myself. A bed so big I could sleep horizontally for fun. When we were in Ocho Rios you could see the famous Bond Beach. White and empty, just the way a beach looks best.

Give yourself a five minute dream vacation, click here to see the photo tour.







Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gay Make Outs





It is with some shame that I admit I am a huge fan of American Idol. Ok, not huge like I buy any winner's albums, but huge like I'll get annoyed if you call me in the middle of an episode and if you don't take the hint and let me go, I'll ignore you and say "mmm hmmm" a lot until you get annoyed with my lack of attention and hang up on me.


This past season Adam Lambert was my pick. He was a power rock vocalist, which is hilarious, cause who is one of those these days? He ended up coming in second. It doesn't matter who came first, he was boring and lame. How many Jason Mraz's does the world need? We barely need one. Anyhow, Lambert was clearly the better artist, performer, etc. And clearly gay, though they wouldn't let him say that on the air. He was so good that in his first audition he sang Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and not only did I not groan with displeasure (as would normally happen when hearing that song) but instead thought, "holy shit, this guy is as good as Freddy fuckin' Mercury!" Cause he is. His voice is crazy-insane. A touch theatrical for my taste but there was really no one else on the show who even came within a million miles of Lambert. Or as he quickly was nick-named, "Glambert". He did this totally awesome cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" you can watch here if you like. He performed with KISS in platforms and huge shoulder cages, was forced to sing a medley that included the terrible "Beth"...and totally rocked it out.

Anyhow there's lots of stupidity going on this week 'cause Lambert kissed a dude on stage (and also 'simulated oral sex' pictured above) at the AMA's this past weekend. The west coast feed cut the kiss. News shows are blurring it out. Pure idiocy. It is a KISS people. It is SIMULATED sex. Fuck, have you watched a fucking Miley Cyrus performance recently?

Is a same sex kiss a big deal?




I know it's been said by many bloggers. I don't think I'm original in saying this, but a kiss is totally not a big deal. 

The fact that it is being blurred from newscasts and splashed all over the internet is rediculous at best. What is the outrage? That two men kissed? That he's openly gay?

The part I find most offensive about all the coverage is that newcasts keep saying idiotic things about how shocking it was - but refuse to come out (punny) and say that it is offensive because he's gay. They'll say it was 'overly sexual', 'inappropriate for a family show' or 'shocking!'....BUT never say 'We were surprised to see a man being sexual with another man!' which is really the truth. The fact is, he came second on AI because millions of people voted for the dude, and surely most of them must have known he was gay. Fans are even saying "I'm ok with him being gay, but I don't know if I'm ok with that."

But the reality is that's what being gay is. Not always, but damn well often. Being gay shouldn't be this sexless sanitized version of it we always see. For too long being gay has been portrayed only as the girl's bestfriend role,  a loyal listening ear who never gets kinky. Stanford on Sex and the City.  Will on Will and Grace. Sure, these are like some of the gay men I know, but most gay men I know also enjoy the occasional popper and dirty pick-up joint and have little to no interest in shopping for shoes with me. And I love them for that. I love that openness.

Sure, maybe Lambert knew this would happen, and he's gotten lots of press for his album that is coming out.

But I don't care. What I care about is that there is suddenly a very very mainstream star being very very gay and not apologizing. That rules.

 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Richard Kern




I briefly mentioned Richard Kern in my last post, and I thought I'd share some more Kern images for fun.

I first heard of Kern when he directed the Marilyn Manson video "Lunchbox", I was such a loyal little fan!  The good old days, when Marilyn Manson was still a good band. Aw, just listening to this song in the background while typing this gives me warm fuzzy feelings. Really.

Kern is primarily a portrait artist, though he dabbles in video direction and pornography. One might argue that any nude portrait is pornography, I would argue the opposite, and that's why I say he dabbles in pornography. Usually the subjects are just nude.

I think that Kern's portraiture possesses a unique vision that serves to express the human connection between himself and his subject, while recording subtle moments in cultural history. It is the voyeur in the artist's spirit that captures the subject in a portrait, while it is narcissism or a lack of objectivity that keeps that view out of self portraits. Not to say that one is better than the other, but it is interesting to see the way two portrait artists might capture the same individual in such different ways that the person may be unrecognizable between portraits. Somehow, the self portrait lacks this quality and ability - we as artists tend to capture only the self we wish to see.




He is part of a wave of artists (and average folk alike) that are taking nude photography out of studios and shady development labs into the mainstream home. The digital era has changed pornography and therefore our depictions of perversion; we can now find "anything" but also create "anything" we can imagine. An artist like Kern seeks to find new and dynamic ways of exploring these expressions that allows the viewer to think differently about sexual diversity, while maintaining his artistic credibility. These are not simply nudes for the sake of sexuality, perhaps the sexuality exists within the model, and Kern captures it, or it is projected by the viewer.


 
 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sasha Grey




I like a bit of porn here and there, enough to have favourite stars. Like Alisha Klass, my long time favourite. She's my fave because it seems mostly like she actually not only wants to be there, but is also enjoying herself. This is key to good porn for me. Oh, also, she doesn't have big dumb fake boobs. It seems I have a type though, I'm totally smitten with that black-haired pale skin thing, I guess because it is the opposite of me. Well, not exactly, but in a way.

I say I must have a type because I have a new crush. I saw a great documentary on the industry called 9-5 Days In Porn. It was a good watch, and there was lots of screen time for Sasha Grey. I have grown to appreciate what it is she is trying to do for the industry, herself, the art of sexuality. Also, her name is pretty cerebral for a porn star, in that the Sasha is for the guy from KMFDM and the Grey is for A Portrait of Dorian Grey, or maybe the concept of a sexual 'grey area' based on the Kinsey Scale. It is not genius, but it is much more amusing than "cherry holes" or whatever lame porn name most stars have. Also she's in an industrial music band. She's recently been in Steven Soderbergh's "The Girlfriend Experience", which I'm looking forward to seeing. She produces and directs her own films but is also pretty popular in the mainstream sense, winning a lot of awards and accolades in the industry. I'm intruiged by this 3rd...or fourth? Or seventh wave of feminism, if you want to call it that. I'm intruiged by the choice to go into porn knowing the dangers and challenges, and by the strength it must take to set out to own your own empire.


So I caught this interview with her from Playboy and I thought I'd share here, as a worthwhile excuse to post some smut which has been greatly lacking in these parts lately. I completely agree with her point about violence vs. sexuality. The pictures are quite atypical for Playboy which is refreshing. They actually remind me of old-school Playboy shoots much more than anything recent, which could be explained by the shoot being done by photographer Richard Kern. A refreshing lack of tinfoil lips and fake tan.


PLAYBOY: Your Lolita-inspired photo shoot in our December issue is stunning, and Richard Kern is a master, but you're a creative person yourself. When you’re starring in someone else’s work does it make you itch to be calling the shots yourself?
GREY: It definitely does. This shoot was Richard's, but it’s a great challenge when you arrive to a set to do something you don’t normally do. They put me in clothes and hair and makeup that I probably would never wear, but it’s fun because you’re playing. Lately I’ve been getting my creative kicks shooting a lot of my own stuff. I’ll think of set designs and we’ll build them, sometimes something I thought of the night before. It’s fun to be able to do that and not feel constrained.

PLAYBOY: How does a Playboy shoot compare to a porn shoot?
GREY: With Playboy you get better hair and makeup. It was a nice change to be using people from the fashion world for that. But really in terms of photography and video, I think the adult industry is further behind than it ever has been. Stylistically we’re in a real rut. We still paint girl’s faces with too much blush and too much foundation and tease their hair and everybody has to overexpose every photo they take and it all looks the same. You could take pictures of me and replace my head with another girl’s and people would never know. There’s a lack of creativity and personal touch. And nobody wants to challenge that idea.

PLAYBOY: But porn is a market-driven industry, no? Isn't the adult industry just giving people what sells? Is the rut due to uncreative producers or uncreative consumers?
GREY: I don’t think people always know what they want until it’s given to them. I just create stuff that I would want to see. And I’m trying to get to a point where the only person I’m working for is myself. That’s why I started my own company. We’ve finished several movies now. The fifth is my favorite. It's called Cold, Black Water and comes out in November.

PLAYBOY: In the past you've described your work as performance art. Do you consider what you do pornography?
GREY: It's both. And it depends on how you define pornography.

PLAYBOY: Do you have a personal definition?
GREY: I think 80 percent of what we see on television is pornographic. And this is the same thing that Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner were talking about when they started out. We’re in wars and we watch people get killed and there are video clips of people being beheaded on the Internet, but we laugh and joke about that. At the same time we’re still so sexually repressed. But somehow the violence is more acceptable. People complain about adult film, but I’m much more worried about people becoming numb to violence than numb to sex.

PLAYBOY: But how do you define pornography?
GREY: I don’t. It’s not something I care to define.

PLAYBOY: In that case, why not define your work purely as art?
GREY: Because some of it's porn. And I don’t think that’s a negative. It’s like junk food. We all need a little McDonald's once in a while. It’s cheap and easy and available and it might not be the best, but it gets the job done.

PLAYBOY: You’re starting to direct your own stuff. Which directors have influenced you most?
GREY: Catherine Breillat and Gerard Damiano. Damiano didn’t care about money, he didn’t care about anything, he just wanted to make art films with sex. And he made Deep Throat, one of the most famous porn movies in the world. I also love Goddard, [John] Cassavetes and Michael Mann.

PLAYBOY: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
GREY: Yes and no. I feel like the term “feminist” has become so watered down that it's almost become meaningless.

PLAYBOY: Do you feel like there are parts of the industry that are demeaning to women?
GREY: Yes, but it primarily has to do with the business side of the equation. The days of “I was pressured into doing this” and so forth, those horror stories aren't such a big problem anymore. There are always going to be damaged people and problem areas, but that’s not the entire industry. I think people are more manipulated financially. Sure women get paid more than men as performers, but men control the entire back end. And most of the time performers don't get residuals. It's a day rate and that's it.

PLAYBOY: You’ve gone the route of starting your own company. Is that the answer to the financial manipulation?
GREY: It’s either that or start a union and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

PLAYBOY: Do you have ambitions outside the adult industry?
GREY: Well my book comes out in December. It's photo-heavy, but there's a decent amount of text in there by me. I didn't want it to be just, “this photo is from this day on this set” because that gets boring real quick. So it’s more about my sex philosophy.

PLAYBOY: What is your sex philosophy?
GREY: Well if I tell you now you won’t buy my book!

PLAYBOY: You seem like a different kind of porn star than people are used to.
GREY: I'd like to believe that I evoke a different idea of what an adult star is supposed to be. I think society is often uneasy with young women who present both their sexuality and intellect. In one respect I am happy to have the ability to shine a positive light on our sexual freedom, but most female celebrities who are considered sex symbols aren't thought of as strong individuals intellectually. Men like Matt Damon and George Clooney are thought of as both. I would like to see that shift.













Thursday, November 12, 2009

Illuminati

There's some people who have a lot of time on their hands who have decided that both Beyonce and Gaga are mind control tools of the illuminati. Well, I won't bore you with repeating it, if you want to know about it, you can go here and see. Anyhow, while wasting my valuable time reading this garbage, I came across this:


Which seeks to explain Lady Gaga's VMA outfits as inspired by Alice in Wonderland characters. I don't know if this is the work of some fan with a good imagination or was truly Gaga's intention, but I think it's pretty awesome.

Damn you! Damn you Gaga! Stop amusing me so.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GaGa Again

I gotta say, I'm still really not that into Lady Gaga. I am sort of half trying to like her, since she is somewhat how I'd imagine the lovechild of Marilyn Manson and Madonna to be. My main issue is I can't really dig her music. But what is music these days but image anyhow? If Gaga was only selling me her image (or only selling me images) I'd be a fan.

Because this my friends, is pretty.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Illustrator of the Month - November



Garance Doré is a fashion illustrator living and working in France. She has a fantastic blog that features her mind-bogglingly good illustrations as well as her street fashion photography. Oh, and she's also the Sartorialist's girlfriend. She recently designed a range of t-shirts for The Gap which featured her illustrations, that sadly aren't available in north america. Anyhow, without further ado, here are her fantastic illustrations.












Friday, October 30, 2009

Calendar Season

Working in the stationery and calendar industry has made it completely impossible for me to remember what year it is. An example: when I began advertising my halloween party for this year, I posted it as "Halloween 2010". Someone had to point out my error. While it is clearly still 2009, in my mind, it is almost 2011, since those are the calendars we are pretty much finished designing around the office. Furthermore, we are about finished planning product for August 2010 launches, and have started things for the following January. It's all a bit much to keep track of. I genuinely have to think about it when I write a date, all year. While most people spend January writing the previous year's date, I am writing one two years in advance.

Anyhow, I see a lot of calendars in my line of work and most don't do a lot for me. I mean, a calendar is great, and in spite of the digital age, I still like my old analog calendar. They are pretty, affordable decor and they are helpful when you need to figure out how many mortgage payments you'll be making this month or plotting out a doctor's appointment 6 months in advance. I know you can do these things on your computer, but really, I just like to have the thing turned off in the evenings when I am not working. Which is rarely, with all the jobs I have going right now.

But I digress. I see a lot of calendars that don't do much for me design wise - they work well and have pretty artwork, but don't strike me as original in any way. But, this calendar does:



It took me a look or two to figure it out. The designer calls it the Cats Let Nothing Darken Their Roar calendar, or, as you can see below in the design by removing the black letters, "CALENDAR". Each month's name is spelled out by removing the black letters, though if you read the phrases with letters in, they are quite amusing. I think it would be fun to have this up in your office and watch the confused faces of people who read it. I also have a thing for type and the cool colour pallette is pretty without being twee.



They sell them in smaller sizes for offices or small spaces, but they also sell it in a large free-from-a-chinese-restaurant size that is really cool.




I found out about it over at artist Samantha Hahn's (a previous 'illustrator of the month') blog Maquette. Check it out, it's a great blog.

Oh, and happy Halloween everyone.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Illustrator of the Month October



Chelsea Groves lives outside of San Franscisco. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2003 with a degree in Art History and began working as a Graphic Designer. After a few years she began tinkering with paints and papers and has been making these beautiful bird collages ever since, and is now a full time artist.





I am a big fan of Chelsea's collages. The technique is unique and it creates a vibrant, graphic quality I really admire. The majority of the backgrounds are painted in acrylics, and then the leaves for foliage are cut out individually. The birds are composed of carefully trimmed layers of paper and are accented with paint and ink.



Chelsea also creates Linocuts and paintings. You can see more here.











Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quote Search


I have to find all these uplifting quotes for work. Most of the ones I really like I don't use, they aren't 'mass' enough to appeal to our market. But anyhow, here's one I like from today:


"My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose." Bette Davis


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stupid Girl Toys

I think the pictures will speak for themselves. Christmas is coming, be sure to buy your daughters, neices, sisters and friends things that are empowering...



You too can learn to get down on your knees to do the washing!

So Chic Salon Hair Colouring Kit!

You know, I get that little girls like to imitate their mothers, so cooking stuff and household chores stuff is understandable on some level. Why does it always have to be pink? Have you looked at the 'girls' section of the Toys R Us website recently? HORRIBLE. You would think Barbie owned everything. On that....does anyone else remember a time when Barbie wore colours other than pink?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dirty Thirty

It's my thirtieth birthday this weekend. I am quite honestly shocked and horrified this milestone is a reality. It isn't that getting older is a bad thing, per se, it's mostly that I just can't believe it has happened so quickly.

At a recent family event I turned the all-too-common line of questioning about when I'm getting knocked up and married around on a cousin of my partner's. I hate myself for doing it (because I hate when it is done to me) but desperate times call for desperate measures. There is only so much "do it while you still have energy" one woman can take. Anyhow, she replied to me, that she was thinking she'd be ready around 30. I then asked how old she was. 24. Ah, I remember being 24 and thinking I'd be ready by the time I was thirty too. What one doesn't realize at that tender age is how quickly thirty will arrive. I think the past five years of my life have whizzed by more quickly than any other era in my life.

This year has felt like a series of lessons reminding me how quick, dirty and short life can be.

Heading out on a celebratory road trip this weekend. One stop will be the rock and roll hall of fame in Cleveland. In honour of this and in an effort to get fully riled up and ready to party, here are some little musical ditties for your enjoyment.







Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chelsea Handler

I've been "reading" audio books on the way to work recently, and the experience of commuting has so significantly improved, I often don't even really notice the drive anymore. I've done some somewhat serious books, and intend to tackle some classics I'd otherwise never get through (War and Peace comes to mind) but for the past weeks I've been listening to two books by comedian Chelsea Handler, who you might know from her late night talk show Chelsea Lately. Incidentally, Chelsea Lately is currently the only late night talk show with a female host and Chelsea Handler is only the second to carry her own (the first was Joan Rivers). You also might remember her on that long ago hidden camera show called Girls Behaving Badly.

There are two books - I've completed Are You There Vodka? It's me, Chelsea and am just about to complete My Horizontal Life - A Collection of One Night Stands. As one review on Amazon states, "Chelsea Handler writes like Judy Blume, if Judy Blume were into vodka, Ecstasy, and sleeping with midgets and nineteen-year-olds."

Both are hilarious. A lot of times when you read a review of something they say "laugh out loud funny", but when does one really lol? Not often. But with these two books, I have literally been laughing out loud, cruising at 110 clicks on the 407.

I feel as if Chelsea is my long lost twin sister. I love my real sister to death, but we are very different people. Chelsea, on the other hand, is so similar to me, that lately I've been finding myself talking and internally I'm thinking, "this is something Chelsea would say." It is as if she is speaking through me. As if I am some sort of Chelsea Handler clairvoyant. That is a gross compliment to my horrible-at-times sense of humour - I love a groaner, but I do feel that listening to her books is helping to increase my feelings of normalcy in the world. I have a kindred spirit, and her name, is Chelsea Handler.

A lot of her interviews from Chelsea Lately are on You Tube. They are fantastic, generally. She asks whatever she wants. If you feel like wasting an hour or two, pop over there.

Here's a video of her doing stand up. She's my new favourite.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Polanski

This week on facebook I've been having little discussions about the movement to "Free Roman Polanski". I feel like I want to scream each time I read someone's opinion that he should be freed. I'm sure all of you know the scenario, but in the interest of this opinion piece making a lick of sense, here's the dilly:

In 1977, Polanski, then aged 44, became embroiled in a scandal involving 13-year-old Samantha Gailey. It ultimately led to Polanski's guilty plea to the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. According to Gailey, Polanski asked her mother if he could photograph her for the French edition of Vogue, which Polanski had been invited to guest-edit. Her mother allowed a private photo shoot. According to Gaily in a 2003 interview, "Everything was going fine; then he asked me to change, well, in front of him." She added, "It didn't feel right, and I didn't want to go back to the second shoot. Gaily later agreed to a second session, which took place on March 10, 1977 at the Mulholland area home of actor Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles. "We did photos with me drinking champagne," Gaily says. "Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn't quite know how to get myself out of there." She recalled in a 2003 interview that she began to feel uncomfortable after he asked her to lie down on a bed, and how she attempted to resist. "I said, 'No, no. I don't want to go in there. No, I don't want to do this. No!', and then I didn't know what else to do," she stated, adding: "We were alone and I didn’t know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I’ll get to come home after this". The victim testified that Polanski gave her a combination of champagne and quaalude sedatives, and "despite her protests, he performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her".

Polanski was initially charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor. These charges were dismissed under the terms of his plea bargain, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the court ordered Polanski to report to a state prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, but granted a stay of ninety days to allow him to complete his current project. Under the terms set by the court, he was permitted to travel abroad. Polanski returned to California and reported to Chino State Prison for the evaluation period, and was released after 42 days. All parties expected Polanski to get only probation at the subsequent sentencing hearing, but after an alleged conversation with LA Deputy District Attorney David Wells, the judge "suggested to Polanski's attorneys that he would send the director to prison and order him deported". In response to the threat of imprisonment — "court sources said the film director, imprisoned in Auschwitz by the Nazis during World War II, was repelled by the thought of possibly serving more time behind bars" — Polanski fled the United States.

So that's the basics of this story. Some say the details are "murky", but I think those details are pretty clear. I'm not sure what could be considered murky. Some suggest the plea bargain was faulty. If so, he should return to the country and appeal. Simple as that.

Why I am so angered by the "Free Polanski" movement is that I simply can't understand why he deserves freedom. Any way that you look at this case, Polanski is still a rapist. I've heard insane things in the media, "...it wasn't rape-rape," from Whoopi on the View comes to mind. I'm not sure exactly what "rape rape" is, but I'm pretty sure that drugging and boozing up a 13 year old - regardless of how mature she is, and then forcing yourself up in her is plain old rape. Even if she wanted it, and begged for it, because she was 13 and could not give consent, it is still rape. Polanski knew she was a child - after all, he had to convince her mother to allow her to model, so it is clear he knew she was a minor. Furthermore, he was photographing this known minor in the nude. But people seem to conveniently forget that part.

There seems to be an argument that because this was a "small" thing that he did, that he has already paid his dues for it. How is serving 45 days in psychiatric evaluation, then fleeing the country to go home to where you are comfortably allowed to travel and work for 30 years punishment? That is not punishment. That is running from punishment.

Polanski entered a plea of guilty. When you enter a plea of guilty you should accept the consequences of your actions, your punishment. If Polanski was innocent of the act, would he not have fought for his freedom in court? Rape is incredibly difficult to prove, so the victim in this case obviously had provided ample proof to the courts. This was even more true in the seventies than it is now. Polanski knew he was screwed, that is why he bargained.

The victim actually sued privately and won. She's gotten her financial settlement. She says she would like the case dropped, because she has moved on. That is all fine and good and I can understand that this is difficult for her. I have experience with why women don't want to go through the courts.

But she doesn't have to - she is not required to testify again because the plea has been entered. It is only sentencing that is outstanding. Furthermore, it is not the victim who is laying this charge, it is the state. There is a reason for this. Think of your average domestic abuse scenario. Does the wife have the ability after abuse and the clarity to know her abuser will likely attack again? Or will she likely make excuses for her abuser, to whom she is emotionally attached? If she is a victim of escalating violence, she can't be expected to think of this person with the neutrality the courts can. That is why they step in.

Now think of a very young woman who is brutally raped by a powerful celebrity. Imagine the scrutiny she would endure if leading this case. She might be tempted to drop it due to public pressure or hatred. The public notoriously not only supports but forgives violent celebrities (see Dre, Dr., Spector, Phil, Brown, James, Knievil, Evil, etc) and blames the victims. The courts must be left in charge so that justice for the victim - willing to participate or not - can be served. The purpose of this is that the justice system protects victims when no one else will. Regardless of if they can afford it. Regardless of how powerful the attacker is.

Some believe that Polanski is being treated unfairly - that because he is an artist we should allow him to do his life's work and not be forced to be responsible for his actions. I can't disagree more. There is no reason that any celebrity, no matter their stature, should be treated in a special or unique way. Some say he was 'framed' because he was arrested in Switzerland. Um, no, that's the law. Perhaps he should have studied that country's agreements with the US a little more closely before he travelled there if he is so hell bent on avoiding sentencing.

Some would say 45 days is enough. No, 45 days is NOT enough punishment for anally raping a 13 year old. Sorry to be graphic, but that's what happened. Some say the judge was an idiot. So he might have been. Well, he's dead. So that's a non issue, isn't it? A new judge can review the case and decide the sentence. It could be community service. It could be a slap on the wrist. The judge being an idiot is not the victim's fault, nor the proscecution's.

Let us not say that he should be forgiven because it has been thirty years.

If he had murdered a man 30 years ago, would we say he should be forgiven for that?
What about vehicular manslaughter, he ran over three small children? Or what if he beat a woman to within an inch of her life? Should those things be considered forgivable after thirty years?

If one feels that this crime should be forgiven after thirty years, I am left asking, why is raping a woman something that is so forgivable? Is it because there is the presumtion that somehow the victim is "asking for it", willing or wanted it? Is it because there is a dominant thought that somehow rape is actually sex? I have continually compared this crime to violence - domestic abuse for one, because rape is not sex. Rape is a violent and brutal act. The fact that the media is reporting this as a 'sex crime' suggests that the media would rather portray this as a man having consensual sex with a child (which is impossible) than portray it for what it is: a violent crime.

I could really rant on for days. I'm sorry if this is long winded and boring and you are all "too long, didn't read" but I can't believe celebrities are coming out in droves to say the man should be freed. I can't believe I see people - lots and lots of people supporting him.

I'm ashamed of them.

Read some grand jury testimony at The Smoking Gun.
Read a comprehensive list of reasons people are saying he should be freed and the correct rebuttals here.
Read Feministing's round up of articles on the topic.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Taco Party

Michael Ian Black makes me laugh, do you read his blog? It cracks my ass up every time.

Since I have no idea where I should know Michael Ian Black from, anything I tell you will be just from researching right now. If you care, you can figure that out. All I know is that his blog is hilarious, and he has a book out right now with essays from the blog. Not sure if I like reading them better or his performance better (I'm leaning towards reading them) but here he is doing a reading of one of the essays for Funny or Die:



"Maybe you like Olives on your tacos. Guess what fuckwad? I will have olives!"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bitch vs. Confident

A couple of things lately have brought this topic to mind.

Firstly, we've got Serena Williams "freaking out" at a judge at the US Tennis Open:


I'd like to contrast this "freak out" with your average, run-of-the-mill John McEnroe freak outs:



Now, how exactly did Serena deserve to lose the match and be forced to apologize publicly, while McEnroe is encouraged by the crowd and his sponsors, over time this behavior becoming his "signature"?

Next we've got Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, branded as an Ice Queen Bitch. Is she really though? Or is she the Editor-in-Chief because she is decisive, demanding and dare I say it, masculine in her way of operating her office?

According to Salon, "she is, by all accounts, a tough, demanding boss, a person who expects nothing short of excellence from herself and others." This behavior, this expectation of work ethic and the demand for excellence is something typical and expected of male leaders, but less commonly expected or accepted with female leaders. According to Anna herself, "[she is] very decisive and [tries] to give very clear direction to the people [she is] working with," which seems completely reasonable. (Anna has been in the media a lot lately because she is promoting a documentary about the production of the September issue of Vogue.)

When I say her behavior is 'masculine', I mean to say that she is not coddling her staff like children. She is not crying as she tells you what you did was wrong because she feels so guilty about mentioning it. I mean to say it seems that she is in control and makes no bones about it. You do not doubt her leadership at any time. It sounds as if working for Anna is like working for your typical male boss. It seems she is calm and consistent and demanding. Annoyingly masculine traits really. Honestly, sometimes it would be nice to see a male boss with some self-doubt.

Unfortunately I believe that women have obstacles in the way of their success that are their own fault. Yes, sexism and male dominance keep us out of high levels of corporate and political structures. Yes, the structure of society is not our fault per se, but there are things we definitely do to ourselves as a gender. At times we are our own harshest critics, and each others worst enemy.

Ladies are raised to be just that, ladies; people who don't say impolite things, are kind and generous and compassionate with people they are close to. It is only the 'tom boy' who is not expected to be that way - and tom boys are expected to "grow out of it" and become ladies eventually. Being kind and polite and compassionate - all good things in the right context, but are these things standing in the way of our ability to express how we really feel? Men are not encouraged to express their feelings publicly - but when they do, no one doubts the authenticity. When women do the same, the are branded as 'being emotional' - in fact we brand ourselves that way. Why do women so often feel that what they think or want is somehow less important than anyone else?

I doubt very much that Wintour got to her level of success by worrying about what people thought of her decisions and instructions. I doubt Serena got to her level of success by being polite and popular and ladylike. Does this mean these women are any less women, any less nurturing or compassionate? Absolutely not! These women have apparently found a way to balance who they are in life with who they should be in the workplace. They know the context in which to be polite, and the context in which to get shit done.

Professionalism. Confidence. Somehow these qualities are not encouraged in women. We're told to be confident, to have good self esteem, but are we encouraged when we show signs of it? Instead we are actually taught that it is somehow rude to express our opinion if it differs with someone else's, and that we should be nice to everyone. Worse still, women are the great at punishing each other for confident behavior. We are quick to dismiss a woman who is confident as a bitch, a whore, a meanie. In the office if you are professional, women call you the ice princess (seen it!). If you are confident in your opinions, people say you are a know-it-all (been there!).

Why can't we respect other women for their strength and confidence meanwhile applauding them for their ability to leave their personal lives and nurturing side at home?

I raise these questions with little in the way of answers other than to suggest that holding yourself back in the workplace in any way in order to protect the feelings of someone else is silly and you should stop that right now. Life and work are different things and not agreeing is ok - it isn't personal, it is professional. Being tough and decisive might not make you popular with other women, but it will make you feel better about yourself. Because being confident is a rolling train, once you get on it gets easier to do.

The Dalai Lama is a Feminist

"During his closing remarks at the International Freedom Award ceremony in the Peabody Grand Ballroom today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama called upon women to help create a more compassionate world.

“I call myself a feminist,” said the Dalai Lama. “Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”

The audience erupted in laughter and applause. The Dalai Lama went to on say that women are more prone to compassion, since they have the responsibility of bearing children."

source

Friday, September 18, 2009

F


I saw this tee on a guy crossing the street recently. I love it on many, many levels.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Good Body - review


Over the weekend I did blissfully next to nothing, other than sleeping and eating. It was grand. I also read a play called "The Good Body" by Eve Ensler, who you may have heard of because she wrote a little something called "The Vagina Monologues". (Which is, in my opinion, fully worthy of all the hype it recieves. If you have not read or seen it, you should.)
The play found a way to make me feel good about myself, if only in knowing that even Eve Ensler, famous feminist playwrite and activist, also has body image issues she just can't shake.
Unfortunately, I was hoping for something a little more powerful.
She explores the issue by travelling the world, and writing monologues as everyone from Helen Gurley Brown to an African villager.
Ensler suggests that most women in the world are more obsessed with their often distorted perception of one small part of their body than they are with any other aspect of their lives. For that matter, they are more fixated on that one body part than they are on world hunger, peace, or homelessness. They are more fixated on that one body part than they are on acheiving health, happiness or success. If they could have one wish, regardless of age, nationality, race, sex, economic class or social standing, it is to lose weight.
We fixate on our stomaches, our boobs, our legs, our noses. If we choose to mutilate ourselves and "fix" this perfectly functional body part to make it more how we'd imagine we'd like it to be, we then fixate on a new part of our bodies to dislike. We inundate ourselves with images of "good" bodies, and then punish ourselves for not looking like that, even though our concious minds are fully aware that those images are faked and 'shopped to look the way they do. Even the most radical feminist of us self-punishes this way. No wonder we aren't leading corporations and political parties as often as we should. We're too busy dieting.
In the preface Eve writes, "...when one out of three women in the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime, why write a play about my stomach?" Eve then answers herself, "...because my stomach is one thing I feel I have control over, or maybe because I have hoped that my stomach is something I could get control over."
Control. Women are obsessed with control. Maybe it is because we have felt out of control for so many generations. A lack of choice makes you feel controlled. We are obsessed with controling our food. Our bodies. Eating disorders are the worst side of this, extreme dieting the middle of the road, diet soda the everyday. It is distorted that we believe we are in control by doing this. Then we wish for greater self-control. More discipline. If only.
We've been told we're equals, but perhaps because this isn't really true, and we don't have enough control over any other aspect of our lives, we obsess over the wrong things - things that don't need controlling. Our bodies are fine as they were made.
The play will help you to feel idiotic for wasting any of your precious mental resources on such a dalliance. It does it as well as the Beauty Myth, which is similar in message, though stronger in delivery.
It helps to comisserate with other women, to feel a part of something, to relate. Where the play falls flat is in the stereotypes - the "skinny bitch" makes a few to many appearances while the negative self talk gets tiring and a bit depressing. The author never resolves this and never finds a way out; "...here's what I think I've learned so far: In order to be good, I've got to be a smiling psychopath, deprived of pretzels, deeply involved with a Nazi trainer, fortunately numb from the botulinism, white vanilla fat sucked out with rods, and my pussy tightened."

Certainly cathartic, the play would be enjoyable to see in order to have the feelings of a shared experience. Standing alone, it is missing any reasonable solutions for overcoming the very problems it highlights.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Illustrator of the Month - September


This month's featured illustrator has her own very inspired and inspiring blog right here. It's called A Print A Day and the artist, Yasmine Surovec posts bunches of free downloadable prints all the time...well, almost daily as the title would suggest. It also contains all sorts of other inspiring goodies so it is worth checking out regularily. A Print A Day encourages the use of the posted free images in craft projects and sometimes even posts the results of reader's efforts! Good times.

A prolific artist who can produce a pile of great work, Surovec states that she started the blog as a way to challenge herself creatively by creating a surface print every day. Yasmine is an apparel and textile designer based in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as being the publisher, editor, designer, writer and illustrator of Parasol Magazine. She has 10+ years in the design, illustration, advertising & marketing industries. Parasol is a free, downloadable pdf magazine dedicated to promoting design + art + creative lifestyles and small business.


Lately she's been interested in Lace:

(as always, please click these lovelies to see in full size and detail)