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Today Is the Greatest

I got a fat—possibly even phat—promotion at work.

I learned that Bitch magazine wants an article I pitched to them. I think they might even be paying me for it.

I discovered that my review of a Emma Caulfield/Jason Priestley made-for-TV movie is the #3 result when you search Google for "Dylan McKay." That is so hot!

January 30, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The World Beard and Moustache Championships

My dad has a moustache. He's always had a moustache. It's not huge, it's not elaborate—there's no waxing or combing involved in its maintenance—but it's undeniably there. He sees nothing strange about this. Most of his friends have moustaches, too. In fact, now that I think about it, among my dad's moustachioed friends are a cop and at least one construction worker, and my dad is, himself, a retired fireman. I am, nevertheless, quite certain it has never occurred to them that—but for the absence of a cowboy, an Indian, and a leather daddy—they could be a sort of lower-middle class, Ohio version of the Village People.

HandlebarI have always accepted my dad's moustache for what it is, and, like everyone who knows him, I was shocked and disturbed the one and only time he shaved it off. It wasn't just that the new look was unfamiliar; it was that, as it turns out, my dad's upper lip is perfectly smooth, and, clean-shaven, he looked exactly like the Grinch—so exactly like the Grinch that strangers would approach him and say, "Dude, you look just like the Grinch!" When asked why he shaved off his moustache, my dad replied that he just wanted to see what would happen (that's fairly typical of my dad, who frequently takes things—complicated, mechanical things—apart to see if he can put them back together). Anyway, he got to work on a new moustache immediately, and it was actually less unnerving to have a dad with a straggly, teen-style upper lip than it had been to call a cartoon-character-come-to-life "father".

GaribaldiA few years ago, pop added a goatee to the facial hair configuration. This new look is absolutely ungay, but I don't imagine that's why my dad made the change (he probably just wanted to see what would happen) for the same reason I don't imagine that my dad and his drinking buddies have ever looked at themselves and seen the Village People: In Ohio, the signifiers of manliness still signify manliness, not gayness. Ohio is not an ironic place.

Fu ManchuAll of which brings me to the World Beard and Moustache Championships, which I got to by way of Field Mahoney's "Talk of the Town" piece in The New Yorker of January 26. Contests are, with few exceptions, fairly straightforward phenomena, but the World Beard and Moustache Championships seem spectacularly innocent of irony. Many of the contestants are in full costume—cowpoke, musketeer, Victorian dandy—and, apparently, contenders have to answer such questions as, "If you're beard were an animal, what animal would it be?"—but there is nothing cute or clever about these proceedings. You know the guys in full-on Kaiser-Wilhelm drag are not kidding around.

Freestyle!While my dad has no particular love of Germans in pointy helmets, he does like to grow things, and he enjoys a project. I gave him a bonsai tree for his birthday, but I'm thinking of introducing him to the concept of competitive facial hair—I mean, seriously: there are sponsorship opportunities. My dad's got a pretty good natural going, but I'm planning to steer him towards some kind of freestyle freak-out. My mom is totally going to be pissed.

January 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What to Read: Labyrinth of Desire: Women, Passion, and Romantic Obsession by Rosemary Sullivan

Labyrinth of Desire is The Rules for women of ample brain. Like the authors of that bestselling self-help manual for the man-crazy, Rosemary Sullivan understands the ways in which love drives women mad. Looking at literature and movies, Sullivan identifies the love stories that make women a bit stupid, the stories that help us to confuse fantasy with reality. But Sullivan offers neither advice for navigating through these narratives to marriage—à la The Rules—nor does she teach us how to steer clear of the doomed romance altogether. Rather, she analyzes the tragic love story as the female version of the hero's quest, and celebrates it as a revelatory life experience. Labyrinth of Desire is erudite, compassionate, and ultimately empowering.

This book just came out in paperback last fall. I talked to the author when it was first published in 2002. Sullivan is someone with whom I felt an immediate connection and a total willingness to speak honestly. In fact, I think she might have been a little startled by my level of candor—I believe there were moments when I was talking to her as if she were my shrink or my favorite aunt—but she's a cool lady and she took it in stride. I couldn't help myself: Such is the power of her book that reading it made me feel as if I could tell her anything.

January 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

You Just Can't Fuck a Hobbit

SeriouslyI know that it's already blogged six ways from Sunday—I got to it via Whatevs (Dot Org) and I also saw it linked at Cup of Chica—but I can't help myself: Eurotrash's spirited sexual analysis of the men, women, and assorted others of Middle-Earth is a compelling, thought-provoking read.

Before the movies came out, I had no relationship with The Lord of the Rings. I tried to read the series when I was a kid, but I just couldn't do it. I found the books totally boring, a fact which has been a source of profound befuddlement for many of the men in my life. Indeed, when I revealed this truth to my fiancé, he replied, after a long, dazed pause, "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that." I tried to explain, but the look of anguish on his face stopped me. "Can we just talk about something else, please?" he implored.

Anyway, my point is that I don't have a lifelong yearning for any of the Lord of the Rings characters. When I saw Fellowship of the Rings, though, I developed a serious hard-on of the heart for Aragorn. It only occurs to me now that my crush on Aragorn is, indeed, a purely spiritual one, altogether unsullied by any carnal instincts. Thus, I must respectfully say that I just can't buy Ms. Eurotrash's description of the son of Arathorn's furious and straightforward manner in bed—his post-coronation open-mouth kiss notwithstanding.

This is, I believe, why I found The Lord of the Rings so wan and listless when I tried to read it as an adolescent. While I didn't require hardcore action in my reading material as a pre-teen, I did require the possibility of action, and Tolkien's characters are just a tweak away from the perversely chaste creations of George Lucas. At best, they embody a child's ideal of romance; at worst, they kind of creep me out.

Elves, as Ms. Eurotrash rightly points out, are nothing but trouble. And it's obvious that hobbits are unfuckable, regardless of what we might surmise from Sam's marriage to the busty barmaid. But I can't even envision the ostensible humans of Middle-Earth actually doing it, either. Even though they are, in Peter Jackson's rendering, perpetually filthy—unshaved, with dirt under their fingernails and greasy hair,—it's impossible to imagine them redolent of that particular funk known as sex.

January 26, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My New Haircut

Kirsten Dunst's New 'DoSo, I've been rocking my hair Jean Seberg-style for some time now. It's a classic look, and it's totally done me right, but I've been in the mood for a change. When I saw photos of Kirsten Dunst at the Mona Lisa Smile premier, I realized I had found my new haircut. I took a page ripped from US Weekly to my beautician, and, voilà: a whole new me.

I don't think this is going to be a problem. I mean, Kirsten and I don't usually go to the same restaurants or the same parties, and I haven't been to a New York opening, film festival, or major awards ceremony for awhile. However, if you happen to hear that she's pissed, please let me know so I can send her a basket of mini muffins or something.

MORE: Public Service Announcement: Kirsten Dunst's New Haircut

January 26, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Our Most Popular Discreet Purchases

I just got an e-mail message from drugstore.com. In muted colors and sensitive tones, the e-mail reminds me that I can count on drugstore.com when I need to purchase products that I might feel a little uncomfortable buying in the presence of other people. The e-mail very helpfully provides a topical list of such products. Apparently, these are the things we buy, but don't want anyone to know that we buy. I share this list with you now as I feel it provides a fascinating snapshot of the deepest desires and most shameful secrets of the American consumer:

It's just tampons.dandruff
diet & weight loss
stop smoking
breath remedies
hair loss
men's hair color
pregnancy tests
sexual well-being
feminine care
yeast infection

A few thoughts: "Feminine care"? Is there really anybody in the drugstore.com demographic who is embarrassed to buy tampons? If there is, I think drugstore.com is doing such women a disservice by enabling their self-hatred. I bet the guys buying baldness remedies wish they had the problems of the guys who don't want to be caught buying Just for Men in Medium Brown. And are people ashamed of their efforts to quit smoking? Are they trying to keep a low profile until they are certain they can actually do it, or is the option of buying smoking cessation aids in an unmarked wrapper supposed to appeal to those smokers who think their wife/husband/whatever doesn't know that they smoke? If this crowd is indeed the target market, I've got news for you: They know. If you don't believe me, smell yourself. Seriously: You totally reek.

Just in case you're not a drugstore.com shopper, you might like to know that this retailer uses the phrase "sexual well-being" as a sort of erotic catch-all. Vibrators, clitoral stimulating gel for the unresponsive lady, desensitizing lubricant for overeager lads, chocolate body frosting—it's all there. It's unfortunate, however, that drugstore.com has chosen to market their sexy wares by lumping them in with some of the least sexy phenomena known to humankind. Looking at this list kind of makes me want to never have sex again.

In closing, I don't know about you, but when I need a home pregnancy test, I need it now. I can't wait 4-7 business days, and I just don't think concealing my possibly slightly less than risk-free sexual behavior from the Rite Aid cashier is really worth $29.95 for overnight shipping. But, hey, that's just me.

January 22, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Beauty Review: Kiehl's Lip Balm in Hue No. 30G

So, I'm pretty much off lipstick. I mean, if I were auditioning for "American Idol" or making my debut in society, I'd probably wear lipstick. It would have been an absolutely perfect, plush red from Chanel before I found out that Coco shacked up with a Nazi during the occupation; now it would probably be the very similar, but slightly less opulent and therefore slightly less satisfying, Urban Decay Jezebel. If I needed something a little darker, a little more earty and mysterious, I would go with Lola creme lipstick in Paris. But, under ordinary circumstances, lipstick is just too much. I've become a big fan of gloss, but I'm finding that it just doesn't work for me in wintertime. With a comfy, no-nonsense, WASPy wool sweater, for example, super-shiny and possibly shimmery lips just look odd. With a fuzzy turtleneck, glossy lips make me feel like I'm back in junior high ski club, which is not an unambiguously good feeling. That pretty much leaves lip balm.

The greatest lip balm of all time is, of course, Kiehl's #1. A very nice Kiehl's employee at the East Village store turned me on to this product when I was stocking up on Creme de Corps, preparing for a move to Anchorage. In fact, when I told her I was going to be living in Alaska, she threw in the lip balm for free. I made it through an Arctic winter without ever experiencing chapped lips, and I've been a fan of balm #1 ever since.

Recently, Kiehl's introduced a couple of tinted lip balms, thereby offering a solution to my winter lipcolor dilemma. There are two shades. I have hue 30G. Straight from the tube, it's pinky-red. On the lips, it's incredibly subtle—like nature, but a little better. It's got a nice sheen, but it stops well short of glossy. It's wonderfully moisturizing, and it has the same protective powers as Kiehl's original lip balm. It is, in short, proving to be the perfect cold-weather lip treatment.

If you live in NYC, you know where to get Kiehl's. If, like me, you live in Ann Arbor, you'll find it at Bivouac on State St. Otherwise, you can order it from Kiehls.com.

January 21, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My Celebrity Ex-Boyfriend: Jack White

Ewww.I was willing to get over the whole Renée Zellweger thing. I know how it is with actors, even when they're not actually actors: You're on an isolated movie set, everyone's dredging up powerful memories in order to emote on cue, sometimes there are sexy period costumes... Things happen. I thought we could work through it. I thought, maybe, it might even make our pretend relationship stronger.

But, Jack, you really should wash your hair when you're trying to prove, in court, that you're not a creepy psycho. If you can't figure that out, I just don't think there's a future for us. And, seriously, I know you're a rock star, and I'm willing to make allowances for that, but I really need a man who bathes.


January 20, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Only 3 Days Left to Bid!

Grand Royal, that venerable record label founded by the Beastie Boys, is going bankrupt and putting all their remaining assets on the auction block.

A quick tour through the due diligence documents reveals that, along with a whole lot of cassettes, CDs, and vinyl by Grand Royal artists, the winning bidder will take home recording agreements with Pavement, Scapegoat Wax, and Bis; a variety of Luscious Jackson logowear; and—and this is totally the reason to bid—1444 copies of "Grand Royal Magazine", issue #2

January 19, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

I'd Rather Marry Dylan McKay

"Why fall in love if you can't do it on TV?"

Is there anything I enjoy more than a made-for-TV movie featuring a "90210" cast member? Well, yes, there are a lot of things—kittens, grappa, my new Kenneth Cole boots, for instance—but I really do enjoy catching up with Tori, Jennie, and the rest of the West Beverly gang. Thus, last night found me on the sofa, watching a not-quite-crappy movie starring not one but two "90210" alums—Jason Priestley and Emma Caulfield—in an ABC Family joint, "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks".

I Want to Marry Ryan BanksJason Priestley plays a hot actor on the verge of becoming B-list. In an effort to rescue his reputation from various tabloid debacles and save his imperiled career, his agent and some network execs come up with a reality show in which various young ladies compete for the hand of Ryan Banks. Emma Caulfield's character, Charlie, becomes a somewhat reluctant contestant when her sister surreptitiously tapes her and sends the video to the show's producers. In true romantic comedy fashion, there's a monkey wrench: Charlie totally hits it off with Todd, Ryan's manager and one of the show's producers, even though Todd tells her that, eventually, she'll fall for Ryan, because "everyone does." Yeah, right. Hasn't this guy ever seen a made-for-TV movie? The ending is a masterpiece of exposition, and nevertheless unbelievably unbelievable—unless you've ever seen a made-for-TV movie.

The plot is Mischa Barton-thin, and the writers—to their credit—do nothing to disguise the obvious. Like a love TelePrompTer (or Cyrano de Bergerac with a three-button suit and a headset), Todd feeds the emotionally retarded Ryan all his most endearing lines. Poor Todd. He's such a sweetie, and so very much cuter than the ostensible star. Seriously: Jason Priestley looks like hell. I guess all that drunk driving is catching up with him.

Priestley plays a tool quite convincingly. You've got to admire an actor who can run the gamut from California University student body president to celebrity asshole. You've also got to appreciate the pathos of Priestley playing an actor who is much more popular than he has ever been or is likely ever to be.

As for Charlie, she's a smart, attractive gal with a casually elegant style. She also has a boy's name, which means that she's spunky and down-to-earth. Finally, she's Anya. What's not to love?

Aside from the comfortably predictable story, "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks" offers some amusing commentary on entertainment in the age of synergy and corporate sponsorships. As someone who works in marketing, I get a little thrill every time I hear the word "signage" outside the office. It's nice to know that others speak my language.

The movie also has a surprisingly sharp take on reality TV. Other shows pitched to the network include "School Bully", "No Longer Homeless", and "Vegetable"—"Eight families, each of them with someone on life support…." Within minutes of their meeting, Charlie's roommate is talking about "alliances", succinctly illustrating everything that's gone wrong with reality shows pretty much since the second season of "Survivor": reality show participants now know what a "reality show" is. Thus, the reality show—which was from its inception only tenuously connected to reality as you and I know it—is now about as natural as Olestra, or a sonnet. It has its own proscribed narrative arc, its own rules and roles. In another gorgeously savvy moment, Charlie's roommate tries to explain that she understands her by announcing, "I'm an actress: I've played your character before."

The show's most poignantly honest moment comes not from the love story, but from Charlie's attempt to hide herself from the cameras while fixing a midnight snack. The idea that a girl can't eat a damn sandwich without fear of alienating the American viewing public was all too real.

Let's see, what else? I have a new favorite verb: black-bar. Getting ready to film a segment in a swimming pool, the show's producers ask Ryan if he has a pair of trunks, and he replies, "Nah. I'll just black-bar it." Nice. There's a third "90210"-er in a supporting role, the guy who played Joe, Donna's quarterback/virgin boyfriend (God, that kid was such a drip). And there's a montage of Charlie and Todd getting to know each other. Every movie should have a montage. And, oh my yes: the lady network exec leaves hand-in-hand with one of the rejected contestants. Is this the beginning of hot girl-on-girl action on ABC Family? We can only hope.

A quick search of Yahoo! TV reveals that "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks" will be showing again at 8pm tonight, which, of course, conflicts with "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé" on Fox at 9. It will, however, be on again at 8pm and 10pm this Saturday. It's totally worth watching if you a.) still kind of miss "90210" or b.) have absolutely nothing else to do.

January 19, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack