Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happily Ever After?

I’m extremely conflicted about weddings and marriage.

Sure the concept of finding someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life (and who feels the same way) is something I’d ultimately like in my life, which isn’t to say of course that I’m not without my mountain of reservations on the whole “happily ever after” thing (or even the "I’ll actually stick with you even when it sucks" thing).

But feelings on the actual institution of marriage aside, I do love weddings; I love throwing and planning parties (and a reception is really just a big party), I love the idea of declaring love and commitment in front of everyone you know, I like to get dressed up, I like flowers, and food, and dancing, and the idea that you can go around a store scanning all the stuff you want people to buy you. I don’t think liking all these things makes me less of a feminist, and I resent the notion that you are either one or the other.

On the other hand of course, I hate the wedding industrial complex, the way people go in to debt over really trivial shit, the social hierarchy of inviting people you don’t really want to, or the hurt feelings of people not included in ways they think they should, not to mention all of the awful misogynistic traditions (the veiled property exchange and vows of obedience).

And I hate the emerging genre of “all women want to get married and when they finally trap a man they turn into crazy bitches” entertainment. We TV (one of the 3 or 4 “lady” channels) has long had this market cornered with at least one whole night a week committed to wedding shows. And yes, I’ll admit that I’ve watched a few, but shows like Bridezillas are entertaining insofar as watching crazy people (like Tyra Banks) is amusing.

The most offensive of this genre is the new movie Bride Wars.

As Jezebel said, “it's pretty offensive to anyone with a soul or a comedic sensibility. The movie is about two women who are OMG BFFS forevs, until it turns out that they have to compromise about who gets to have her dream wedding at the Plaza. Instead of compromising (because deep down, women are just catty bitches who will take any excuse to sabotage their so-called friends, particularly when it comes to a pretty princess wedding.) they duke it out for the single, perfect wedding that apparently only one of them is able to have. It's like a perfect storm of Cosmo approved clichés.”

My question is, how does a movie that so very obviously calls women insane self-centered harpies, get marketed as a “chick flick” why would we want to entertain ourselves with such a representations of ourselves?

Also, it’s really disappointing to see Anne Hathaway in this movie after how amazing she was in Rachel Getting Married.

I think it might catch on

28-years ago some newspapers were discovering a new way to reach readers…the Internet. There were a lot of kinks to work out, they weren’t making money from it, in fact they were losing it…but something told these editors that this new medium might someday be how people got the news.

Some things never change.

Stimulating the Economy

You may or may not have noticed that the economy and the environment are both kinda in the shiter at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop shopping, afterall it's the 'merican way!
LinkThis holiday season I decided that I wanted to get some more unique gifts, as well as not contribute to the whole corporate machine thing quite as much, so I bought a lot of handmade gifts. An alternative would be making your own gifts, but most things I make end up looking like a small child’s art project, and the charm of that wears off quickly when the receiver realizes that is in fact the “real gift.” Most of the things I got came from Esty (

It all started last December when I needed a new wallet, and ended up buying this handmade one

Then in the height of my George Orwell obsession, I bought these 1984 themed bottle cap magnets

I think I found some good gifts there in that last few months:

For my good friend Joan’s birthday

Joan, btw, is a super-talented art and crafter herself, for x-mas, she gave me this beyond awesome bag and shirt that she made. And whipped up this totally rad scarf for a certain fellow I know.*

Speaking of the fellow, I got him this cool light box and shirt

While the famous food blogger that I live with got, (what else?) this “housewife” apron

My mom usually gives me only the parameters of “something with dragonflies or hummingbirds on it.” I’ve exhausted the supply of dragonfly things in Chinatown, and the embroidered pillow I started a year and a half ago will likely remain under by bed forever, so I found this for her

And most recently, I found the perfect gift for a certain BFF/fellow Michigander/bride-to-be.

*Actually Joan’s made beyond amazing gifts for several people I know, but alas I don’t have pictures of them all. Her whole family is creative and talented in fact-- check out the awesome things her sister makes I know three ladies in NYC who are sporting these bags:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What was Great in 08

So it’s a month late for a “year end/best of” post. But here’s my list of the my personal Best of 2008.*

In 2008 I got into a few artists that I only peripherally listened to in the years prior, here are the albums of those peeps that I listened to the most last year:

Cat Power…The Greatest
The Roots…Game Theory
The Fugees…The Score

I also started listening to more Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Atmosphere, but more songs than albums stand out.

New music I really dug in ’08:
She & Him…Volume One
Sea Wolf…Leaves in the River
Chris Mills…Living in the Aftermath

Best soundtrack:
The Hottest State (even though it came out in 2007)

Sadly I didn’t see much live music in 2008. So with that in mind, here are my winners.

The best show of ’08 that I didn’t attend
Outside lands Music festival August 22-24. The line-up looked awesome and I love San Francisco, wish I could have made it.

The best show I did attend
The Feist concert at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 30th. The simple and elegant shadow-puppetry wasn’t at all as lame as it might sound, it was in fact beautiful and she had an incredibility endearing stage presence. Also, I ended up singing the version of Inside + Out on this album for about four months of last year.


In the theatre
Tie between Rachel Getting Married and Slumdog Millionaire

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and Lars and the Real Girl

2008 was the year I decided to finish everything that George Orwell has ever written. Having already read a handful of his novels, the book of his I probably enjoyed the most in 2008 was Burmese Days and Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin was a good primer with interesting insight.

Without getting too personal, here are some of my personal bests of 08…

Best Moment
Hard to say exactly, but election night was pretty awesome and my solo bungee-jumping/waterfall-rappelling/rainforest zip-lining trip was really cool too.

Biggest accomplishment
Unfortunately it’s not anything I wrote (although I did have a big feature come out in May). I think it’s my relationship with my Little Sister. We were matched last January and I was a little trepidatious about how challenging hanging out with a 13-year-old would be, I’ve been surprised how much she likes and trusts me and how even though I’m under no disillusions about “changing” her life, I do feel like having me to hang out with is something she looks forward to.

*Note: Many of these things didn’t come out in 2008, but I discovered/rediscovered them during the year, so they still fit in my personal Best Of.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Divorce Screws Women …

…and kids too. I’m the last person to advocate that people who shouldn’t be together stay in a bad relationship, especially for the misguided notion that it will be better for the kids (it never is). But it (pretty unsurprisingly) turns out that it’s usually the woman (and almost always the kids) that get screwed over in a divorce.

Far from the cliché that women take their ex-husbands to the cleaners when they split, a new study from the Institute of Social and Economic Research found that the incomes of ex-husbands rose by 25 percent after divorce, while ex-wives incomes fell sharply, and 27 percent of the women in the survey wound up living in poverty (three times the rate of the ex-husbands).

The reason was usually the kids—the dads leave, and the moms (who may have left work to take care of the kids, or at least paused their careers) are left to take care of the kids on their own, add not only the new additional expense of more childcare, but subtract his contribution (and most likely ANY future contributions, the study found that only 31% of fathers actually pay child support for their children).

As many people who grew up with a dad who only occasionally made any kind of financial contribution can attest, it makes the business of making ends meet for single mother extremely difficult. The problem lies not only in the fact that so many men don’t bother to contribute to the raising of their children, it’s that the system works in their favor. So many payments can be missed before anything is done and the hassle of going to court is often more than a single working mother can swing, or even when she does, a ridiculous amount of time can pass before anything is done, and even when it is (garnished wages, warrants for arrest) it does little to help the family that needs the day to day money to survive. In I’m sure many cases (as was with my family), all of these avenues are pursued to little avail, many years pass, the family struggles by, the kids reach 18, the thousands of dollars owed are no longer worth it to the overworked system, and the guy gets another free pass.