Monday, January 16, 2017

Netflix Documentary Hits & Misses Vol. 23 (January 2017 Edition)

 New year means new crop of documentaries popping up on Netflix. [Tangent: Seriously, when I got back from my new years trip to the mountains, checking what was new on Netflix was priority one...OK... maybe priority 2, because my mother just got a squatty trying that out was priority uno! Turns out it throws off my balance. Dreams can be shattered, turns out.] Am I watching the OA? No. Am I watching a film about the masking community, even though I've already seen it before when it appeared on TLC? 100%.

So what does that say about me as a person? Wait, don't answer that.  OK, lets just dig in. Shall we? This month was an embarrassment of riches.

Pervert Park- A-
This movie about a trailer park in Florida designed for recovering sex offenders will be a hard watch. You've been warned, but even still- it's deeply engrossing.  One by one you meet the residents and hear their stories, many of whom are victims of sexual assault themselves. Their stories are heartbreaking and will probably make you cringe or cry. Instead of making these men (and women) out to be monsters, it treats them respectively and helps you see how and why they got to the point of doing such unspeakable crimes. The woman's story especially will make you cringe and maybe cry. After getting this recommendation from several people, I'm glad I took them up on it.

Men in Rubber Masks- A
So you know when you watch something and you immediately have to send out a group text to make sure what you experienced was not a mirage or a fever dream. That's how I feel about this 47 minute documentary that will make you wish it was doubly long. Once I queued this up, I realized that I had seen it before on TLC under a different name, but quickly fell into its powerful vinyl grasp once again. The movie is about the masking community, grown men who transform living dolls, complete with vacant unmoving faces and skin that feels like a balloon. It also profiled a family who made their living making these weird anatomically correct bodysuits. It's a quick watch and will definitely open your eyes to something new. I rank it with Animism and My Monkey Baby, as far as short movies about weird subcultures that you wished would be much much longer. It's something you can't take that into consideration.

Miss Sharon Jones!- A+
In a life I try to lead without regrets,  I deeply regret never seeing Sharon Jones perform live. My boyfriend is a huge fan and had been trying to make that happen for years. As I'm told (and as this movie suggests), its a transformative experience. [Tangent: He saw this doc at Belcourt by himself and sobbed.] If you know nothing about this wild force of nature (aka Miss Sharon Jones), prepare to fall deeply in obsessive love with her. Sharon Jones was a badass singer who didn't become famous until her mid to late 40's and made the oft dated-sounding soul and Motown-tinged music sound currently hip and extremely relevant. That, in itself, would make for a fascinating enough documentary, but this film has the added layer of her releasing her most successful album while trying to kick the ass of a cancer diagnosis. The film will take your face from silly grin to openly weeping...and you will want to dance the whole while. I sincerely couldn't recommend this one any more. Prepare to become a fan. 

Best and Most Beautiful Things- B+
I was super excited to see this movie after reading the very brief synopsis on one of those "Movies coming to Netflix in January" posts, then I realized it had only 2 stars on streaming. I felt a little like the air had been let out of my tires, but have learned that sometimes my tastes differ from the masses. The premise [Tangent:...and hell, even the cover...] of a it intrigued me because it was about a 20-year-old girl (Michell) with Asperger's who is blind and her struggle to become an adult and find herself. [Tangent: In the first 5 minutes you see her watching Daria and singing Kacey Musgraves in the I knew I would like this girl!] The whole movie is pretty successful in showing her in this weird transition between being a child and an adult and her struggle to get be independent and successful, and one I could have related to when I was in my early 20s. As much as I love seeing a small story examined and a life profiled, it meandered at times and there were parts I wanted to explore more [TANGENT: There is a big ol' scandalous twist thrown in pretty near the end that I was surprised wasn't the premise the whole movie hinged on!], but overall I thought it was a beautifully done study on several years in this woman's life.

Aspergers Are Us- A+
As you may have guessed by the prior review, if there if there is a disability doc showing up in my feed, I'm GOING to watch it post when I hear the premise is about a group of young men with Aspergers who form a comedy troupe- I'm all in.  I had heard about this doc before and it is produced by the Duplas brothers which I found intriguing. [Tangent: I am a big fan of The League and have seen several of their other projects like the weirdo horror movie Creep, so I was intrigued to see how a documentary would be tackled.] 10 minutes in and Jamie and I had already picked out favorite our favorite comedians of the bunch. Having known aspies in my real life, [Tangent: I lived with a girl with Aspergers in college] I am always fascinated with this diagnosis. It was commendable that the film was such that they were treated respectfully and realistically and not condescended to. THIS IS HUGE! Highly recommend. 

13th- A
I feel like everyone I know who is interested in social justice has posted on social media or told me about this movie. I've even seen events popping up around town where there is a Q and A or panel following it, so I figured it is a crucial must watch. As you've probably noticed from these reviews, I often opt for the lighter docs, but truthfully- this is an important one even though it will make you feel awful. The concept is basically what it means to be black in America today and how they were often set up for failure by society (whether it be through laws, the media and just culture in general) following the emancipation of slaves and the 13th amendment (hence the title). I try to stay really informed with sociology and have studied race in the media, so I thought I knew it all. I DID NOT. This movie is incredibly well put together and if you think racism is over or that we are all treated equally- watch this movie.

See! So many good ones! What should I watch next month? I already am destined to watch Deprogrammed, because well...CULTS! What else should I add to the docket!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gatlinburg: My first wax museum

Ever since my first trip to Gatlinburg earlier this year, the group of friends I went with have been itching to go back. After the fires devastated the area in November, we were uncertain how the touristy spot would be different, but knew we still wanted to go and put our dollars into the economy [Tangent: Mostly spending it on pizza and donuts from Donut Friar!]. Somehow the cabin we booked back in September was unscathed, which is completely crazy given within a mile there were several businesses and homes that were in ashes. [Tangent: There's a very dystopian feel to driving down a half-charred mountain and seeing one business completely burned to the bathroom tiles and then the cabin adjacent to it 100% intact. It's evident the high winds and wayward sparks were to blame for the haphazard and devastating spread of destruction. On the positive end, downtown was booming so the economy is bouncing back, which makes my heart happy.]

Because it was a holiday weekend and frigid outside, we tried to be strategic in finding a cheesy tourist activity that everyone could go for (Hitting a consensus with 9 people is tough). After much consternation, we settled on Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge, which was absolutely as amazing and terrible as we expected. [Tangent: We all thought $20 was a lot to spend for an attraction, but after researching the geotags on Instagram at lunch, we discovered that you could get really close to the wax figures and take this group LOVES a photo op. SOLD! My friend Crystal had just gotten a brand new camera for Christmas, it seemed the perfect place to use it.] 
There have been other times when I have been near wax museums but passed up the opportunity because they sounded lame [Tangent: Or maybe even because whenever I think of them I think of that unforgettable scene in the classic movie Class Act. (I bet you thought I was gonna say House of Wax. Nope.) It took everything in my being not to imagine that in full 90s hip hop realness, that I was evading bullies by trying to blend in with the vignettes. Don't act like you didn't watch this Kid n' Play classic every time it came on cable when you were a kid. You are not above it.] But I couldn't recommend going to this place enough...especially in groups. I am so mad I have avoided them in the past, because they are ridiculous in the best way possible. 

Some of their vignettes were really confusing and dated. [Tangent: Like they had a whole setup for Seabiscuit and The Mummy (which I only loved because in 4th grade I had a raging crush on Brendan Fraser in School Ties and kind of Encino Man so a picture with him was a childhood dream realized.)..and they had a Daniel Craig figure...only it wasn't for his most iconic role, unless you think his iconic part was in Cowboys and Aliens. Womp. Womp.]  

 Some of the statues were creepy realistic and others were just  awful...and looked like wonky drag interpretations of what they were supposed to be, but that made it fun and hilarious. [Tangent: that woman above is Salma Hayek, apparently! They should really change it to Sarah Paulson, but oh well. That is why I am not a wax figure designer.] Example: This Donald Trump is obviously Darryl Hammond as Donald Trump but was labeled (without a shred of irony) as Trump himself, which I kind of thought was the ultimate burn.
 They also had a prop wall next to nearly every statue, a luchador mask and cape in the Nacho Libre vignette [Tangent: see, I told you they were on the pulse of pop culture.] and a championship belt by the Hulk Hogan. That was potentially the best part because you really got into the posing...probably too much...much to the chagrin of the families who were behind us in the museum. My favorites was where you could wear a wedding dress and marry George Clooney. So ridiculous. And the bed with Hugh Hefner in it (complete with velvet robes). Unfortunately due to the posing of the statue and the lighting, it just looks like the dudes were hanging out trying to look sexy around a corpse at a wake.

I took about a zillion pictures, so many that my phone actually crapped out on me while I was inside, but now I think I have profile pictures for various things for the next 10 years. Within the exhibits,  I realized a lot of my childhood dreams, by getting to pose with many of my heroes

If you are in Gatlinburg and have gotten your fair share of rebel flag and/or bear emblazoned merch- I highly recommend the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge. It was much more fun than I could have imagined.

Has anyone else been to a wax museum? 
Does anyone else remember Class Act

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sightseeing in DC

Today I was about to write about something travel related I did over New Years weekend and realized I never really wrote much about my trip to DC beyond the Newseum and being scared shitless/excited about exploring a city so reliant on public transit. For this reason I decided to squeeze out a post [Tangent:yes...I know 3 months later and it will be evident that the sky is sunny and bright and not all dreary and January-ish! I never said I was prompt or organized.]

Each day we were there, about a week, we logged walking roughly 9 miles. [Tangent: OK...clearly I wasn't doing any of that, so it was basically Jamie putting the miles on his Chucks. Or did you think I had some secret ambulatory life when I traveled? BUSTED!] DC is set up in such a way that it is very fact it was so nice to have 45 second crosswalks considering I am used to the 20 second crosswalks in Nashville. In those situations you are pretty much jettisoning yourself across the road and getting palpitations as you fear the little walking man will be replaced with the hand [Tangent: ...or you are slammed into someone in a lifted pickup who gives zero shits about you having the right of way.] I loved the ability that large groups could cross at their leisure and still have seconds left on the clock. Truly, it's the little things.

My old roomie, Andraea, showed us around the Capital, Supreme Court, Union Station and Chinatown and all those fun places and because it was Columbus Day, government buildings were closed. We really hoped that would mean we would run into Joe Biden in shortie running shorts, but it didn't happen. Damn. Some things are not meant to be.

In the following days, we made the rounds of all the outdoor monuments. Here are some of my favorite things I saw. They reminded me of some of my favorite things in life in general:
  • fighting for whats important
  • badasses in wheelchairs [Tangent: FDR..not Dr. Strangelove although it's hard to tell.] 
  • my dad [Tangent: Proudest Vietman vet you ever did see....and he took me to a replica of the Vietnam memorial in college, so I desperately wanted to see the real one.]
  • ...and MASH [Tangent: My favorite show as a toddler...yes really. (I had insomnia even then and my parents let me stay up and watch reruns with them nightly) To date, it's pretty much my only point of reference I have personally for the Korean War.]

Probably the memorial that I thought would be most ho-hum turned out to be the absolute best. [Tangent: Maybe because my art teachers always thought I was "too commercial" , but I've come to realize abstract sculptural doesnt always melt my butter. If you are in the Nashville area, you probably know that weird 'game of pick up sticks' looking sculpture in the roundabout on 8th. Well, I had no idea it was even a sculpture for months. I thought it was scaffolding of some kind or beams until someone pointed it out to me. Of course, I pretended like I knew it all along and appreciated the lines and artistry...but NEWSFLASH- I DIDN'T!]  I just went to the Washington Memorial because I was nearby and it seemed like something I had to see because I have seen it in many a viewing of Forrest Gump and Scandal.

When we got up close to it, though, I literally gasped and then immediately took a zillion pictures...even though it is essentially a giant pointy pole. I was in love. WHY IS IT SO GORGEOUS?  Here are some of those zillion pictures.

My favorite is the friendly homeless hippy who was making serious dough in a district that HATES Trump by allowing you to buy his vote. Of course I gave him a dollar. I can't turn down effective advertising...if only it had worked. Womp. Womp.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Bachelor is back, so welcome back shoulder shirts!

As I've written about before, you know I love some pretty POS reality shows. Somewhere in my personal pantheon (nestled probably between Rupaul's Drag race and 90 Day FiancĂ©e) is the Bachelor [Tangent: ...and it's sister series (Bachelorette) and its drunker, more fun cousin (Bachelor in Paradise)]...and guess what?  It's back. You know what that means? Shoulders aplenty.

Confused? Let me explain.

Even though the producers of the series probably would like to think they are giving you a diverse pool of women [Tangent: Please stifle your laughing at the ridiculousness of my prior statement. This year there are actually MANY women of color which makes my heart happy. It's a step towards maybe even GASP! having a black Bachelor in seasons to come.], they all share a common look. Hair that looks casually tousled (meaning it probably took several hours with a wide barrel curling wand) and some form of blousy boho shirt which inexplicably has no shoulders. Shoulders are really the star of the show.

I'm no fashionista, but even I recognize that this is a very specific and confusing look that is rarely sighted in the wild, but that I see in every episode of the Bachelor franchise. [Tangent: In episode one of Nick's season I spotted 3.5 in the first 30 minutes. In fact one spunky Arkansas boutique owner had a whole store with racks and racks of them. Oh and the .5 that I am counting was a woman named Vanessa who wore a chunky cardigan sweater in her interview package, but it never touched her shoulders.]  I even have come to call them "Bachelor shirts" because they seem to look best when staring wistfully out a window or off a craggy cliff.
Sometimes it makes sense or even has an easy breezy quality, especially in "paradise" because I get they are OD'ing on "beach vibes", but other times it makes zero sense. Why would JoJo wear a turtleneck sweater with no shoulders? She looks stunning in white, so I get it- wear white all day/everyday...but I imagine they are making for some weird tan lines. Are they getting them for free. Is there some kind of exclusive promo code for Bachelor nation that is only redeemable on shirts missing shoulders.

 The first time I really took notice of this apparent trend, was when I saw single mom with the voice of a Disney heroine, Amanda, wear this look for a hometown visit. It stopped me in my tracks.  It immediately caused me to caucus with my fellow garbage TV watcher about it via group text for way longer than anyone should discuss an article of clothing.

It wasn't a "Let's rag on this outfit" kind of conversation; logistically we just couldn't wrap our minds around it.  

How was it staying up? 
Why sleeves? 
How were they attached? 
Were they attached? 
Can you wear a bra with this? 

 I was so distracted by the gravity defying top that I probably missed 90% of their date. It seemed cumbersome and way more work than a shirt should be...then I noticed she was wearing them in nearly every episode. I guess I must commend her for having a signature look.

One would think with this over abundance of off-the-shoulder blouses, it would be literally impossible to have one that stands out above the rest. Au contraire mon frere! There is one that goes in the hall of fame! I would give the shoulderless crown to Carly of Bachelor in Paradise [Tangent: Probably one of my all-time favorite contestants.] who wore this look, which combined 4 things which are so specific to the franchise but don't really go together in a conventional sense: The color red, lace, shoulders and a romper.

I'll end by apologizing because now I feel if you are a fan of the show and haven't already made this assessment that this is all you are going to see when you tune in. I'm sorry. Maybe turn it into a drinking game, a sip for a shoulder. Well, maybe will get alcohol poisoning.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Poshmark vs ThredUp review part deux: adventures in second hand revisited

Recently I realized that this post that I wrote over a year ago about the resale sites/apps Poshmark and Thredup were getting a lot of new views, so I thought maybe it deserved a revisit [Tangent:...or maybe not...but that's up to you to decide. You can read this or skip it. Free will is a spectacular thing, isn't it?] Since that initial review, I have used both several other times, for both impulse buying and reselling some of those impulse buys. I thought I would update everyone on how I feel about both outlets today, because as is the case with most things- I have some strong opinions and they may have ebbed and flowed a smudge.

 Buying secondhand online to some is a dicey premise [Tangent:...because one might assume the items they are buying are soiled or belonged to dead people who still haunt them. Haunted clothes seem thrilling to me, but I understand the the populus as a whole might not share my excitement.] but really, buying secondhand has become a constant in my life. I like nice things but am the cheapest person alive, so using Poshmark and Thredup allows me to have 10 J Crew sweaters in my closet that I probably got for maybe the retail price of one and several anthropologie pieces that were under $30. [Tangent: To be honest, I've probably been in J. Crew or Anthropologie all of twice respectively, because I'm afraid they're going to Pretty Woman me. No, not sell me into a life of prostitution, more condescend to me as if I don't belong there, willing me to return with a litany of shopping bags and hat boxes to rub into their faces my unleashed purchasing power! "Big mistake! HUGE!"].

These services are perfect for people that love a good thrift store jaunt, but sometimes lack the will to go outside in the cold and/or put pants on. So guilty.


In my last blog post, I hadn't yet bought from the site, so that aspect was not one I could speak to on quality, but since then, I have definitely made up for lost time and bought A LOT of items. Here are a few of the ones I find myself wearing a lot. Nothing was over $25 and that skirt on the bottom was $4.99!

I was incredibly also impressed with how the items  were delivered. The presentation was comparable to getting items from Ann Taylor and not from a virtual thrift store. I felt full-time fancy and appreciated it. It was pretty clear that the items were inspected and pressed and were in awesome shape. Not that the packaging should count...but come does. The attention to detail/branding wasn't lost on this gal.
 The selling of the thredup is super easy, you request a prepaid mailing bag on the site and get one in the mail in about a week's time, then you fill it with items from your closet. I love the ease of that process and know that what they don't accept they will donate to charity, so it kills two birds with one stone [Tangent: You can ask for items back if they are of value and you want to sell them on another site. I never have opted to do this...but it's nice that you can.] Here is a handy dandy video that explains it much better than I.

As I mentioned in the last review, the first bag I sold to them was a bit of an embarrassment, since I sent them roughly 20 items and made just over $4. The second bag was a bit more strategic...and I added in a few girls items  (since they take KIDS CLOTHES TOO!) [Tangent: Not that I buy children's clothes for imaginary children...I buy them for me. Wait, that sounds equally weird. I'm 4'11! It's a luxury I enjoy!]  

 This subsequent batch was a bit more reasonable, I made $22, which seemed more on target since a few items sent still had tags. Long story short- you're not going to get rich off this, but it's a great treat for unloading a bag of stuff out of your closet. 

If you want to get $10 credit on ThredUp, shop using THIS LINK! (I get $10 too!)


 I am an OG poshmark enthusiast, as you know, and have been using it regularly for years. It's my go to when I need something specific on the cheap. [Ex: When I needed combat boots and a plaid mini for my Empire Records halloween costume a few years ago or when I needed red tennis shoes to be Sonic the Hedgehog. Basically anytime I had to make an ass out of myself in a costume...Poshmark was there. That should be their slogan! "When you wanna look like an idiot, come see us." Wait, nevermind...that may be the worst tagline ever. ] The site has even made it now where in addition to keeping track of "liked" items, you can make offers via an "offer" button. [Tangent: I LOVE this feature because it brings out my inner wheeler/dealer, the one that refuses to pay the assigned price. I don't low ball folks but it makes the thrill of the deal all the better.] 

There are things like Madewell sweaters and Tom's ballet flats that I was always into, but never wanted to drop a big chunk of change on. Luckily, I know Poshmark has them in serious droves (as in Loooooots to choose from.) and most for 20-30 bucks. 

Selling :
Selling on Poshmark can be feast or famine. I will sell three items in two days, and then not see any buying activity for 6 months. It's built up like a social network, so depending on how many followers you have will determine how much exposure your "closet" has and how often you share things to the themed "parties" they have. I will say certain brands I have no trouble selling and accessories are super easy because they aren't size reliant. As long as you include measurements, solid photos and disclose all the needed info, you should be good to go. I've made almost $1000 using this app. True it's been over 3 years, but it's still something.

I love that the shipping and all is included [Tangent: As you may remember, its you keep 80% of your sale and 20% goes to PM, but that includes your shipping costs- so you don't have to pay for that! You simply print it off when your sale goes through and toss it into a box and it gets to the buyer in 2 days. It's insanely idiot-proof which I enjoy!] 

You are probably going to make more with this app/site, but you won't purge everything at once, so if you wanna do a quick closet clean-out and get everything out of there, this probably isn't your best option. There is a sweater I have been trying to sell for 2 years.WHY DOESN'T ANYONE WANT MY DAMN SWEATER!??!

If you want a promo code to get $5 credit at Poshmark, signup using: HGENX  
So this is what you get for your sudden interest in my hoarding of used clothing..another updated blog post. I blame you. I'm like that. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My podcast debut

I really don't like the sound of my own voice...which is weird because I talk incessantly. As with most of my irrational fears or insecurities, I like to pretend they don't exist. [Tangent: Like my fear that the holocaust is going to happen again or my strong aversion to claymation. YIKES! I just try to be brave in those situations. I mean, that island of misfit toys isn't going to attack me and push me into a fascist regime, right!?!?] In the last few months, I have volunteered to or been invited into several things which means innocent bystanders are being subjected to my pitchy grating tone regularly. [Tangent: You can read one of them here.] 

I'm a big podcast fan, so have been telling my friend Ryan [Tangent: You remember him best from this post and this post. Both stories are brought up on the podcast.] for months that I want to be on his podcast- Biff Bam Bort (which used to be all about Batman 66 but is now just 3 dudes sitting around talking about pop culture, which is decidedly in my wheelhouse.).  
Anyway, what we got was 55 minutes of utter nonsense (but funny nonsense) and probably not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed doing it because as I just said I got to talk utter nonsense for an hour and laugh...which is my ideal way to spend an hour. Check it out unless you are squeamish or easily offended or are looking for something that will enrich your mind, because this probably won't unless you want think learning about the return policy at Spencer's Gifts is a "THE MORE YOU KNOOOOOW" moment.

You can listen to it here by scrolling to the bottom. The episode is called Chingy and Hot Dogs for The Ride Home (even though the last part of that title gets cut off a bit in the end. #professionalism !] Check it out if you've ever wondered what my voice sounds like. Spoiler alert- it's like a less appealing dog whistle!

You can also find Biff Bam Bort on iTunes and stitcher and all those fun places!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thanks Goodreads for making me read stuff in 2016

So I make a lot of promises and don’t always make good on them. I know this about myself. It’s not always a lack of commitment (though sometimes it is)- it is often just I get distracted by a shiny object or over-commit myself or go all in on a passing fancy (when I should probably just say I want to hypothetically do it and not Do it..ya know? ) This year I decided (after taking a couple years off from one of my favorite hobbies) that I was going to read 20 books in 2016. [Tangent: I know this is going to be a huge shock to all of you who think I am edgy AF and super too cool for school (NONE of you think that!), but I used to read A LOT. Like I would hear about a book that sounded interesting and actually go out and read it. I had favorite authors and everything. Then I got a smart phone and I 100% am blaming that device for superseding books in my life (and not just for the stuff that pays my bills, but for important things like googling "what is LeeLee Sobieski doing now? or falling down a vortex of Chuck Tingle titles.). I wasn't just distracted, but was dwelling in the land of delusional pretension where I couldn’t possibly put an e-book on my phone because that would somehow ruin the experience. Ya know- the magic of flipping and folding and smelling the written page. I was an asshole because guess what guys? E-books are the cat’s pjs and you can download them for free from the library whilst sitting on the toilet or lying in bed aka primo me time(and you don’t have to lend them to people and disclose that they have been sitting on the back of your toilet for a month...or have people judge your questionable titles in a doctor's waiting room. EEK!).]  

In January, I randomly deciding to click on my dusty Goodreads icon on my phone to add something I read about in Entertainment Weekly [Tangent: Don’t judge! They have some killer book reviews.] onto the growing and unruffled virtual “to-read” pile. I was greeted with:

“Would you like to participate in a 2016 reading challenge?”

And guys…I did it…and I stuck with it and fell butt-crazy back in love with reading after a brief hiatus. In fact, I ended up reading 35...and it was easy! [Tangent: Promise that I am not bragging so much as getting in print that I finished something I started when there were zero consequences.] I even have proof

I finally took all my friends up on those suggestions that they have been giving me for the last several years and sprinkled in some from my favorite authors and some that sounded so terrible I had to get my eyes on them for myself [Tangent:I’m looking at you Me Before You and the Holly Madison autobiography (yeah...that Holly Madison).] Unlike boys, I seem to have no type when it comes to books…or do I? Here are some of the reoccurring themes I found in my reading.

  • Number of books about mental hospitals: 3
  • Number of books that deal with disability: 5 (If you count Frankenstein as a disability book…which I feel on the fence about.)
  • Number of fiction Books about human experimentation: 3
  • Number of books featuring a naked person on the cover: 3
  • Number of Celebrity Tell-Alls that made me 100% more interested in the celebrity: 3 (But seriously ya'll- get on that Rob Lowe autobiography!)
  • Number of Mary Roach books that made me incapable of having a conversation that didn't include the facts therein: 2 
  • Number of books featuring lobotomies:  6 (that number seems really high, right?)
  • Number of books that make characters from religious text way more  interesting:  2
  • Number of books targeted at angsty teen girls and probably not women in their mid 30's: 5
  • Number of Kurt Vonnegut books I had been meaning to read but hadn't: 3 
  • Number of books based on TV/Movies I already was a fan of: 3
  • Number of books that discuss the porn industry: 3 
  • Number of books that made me laugh out loud in inappropriate places: 5
  • Number of books written by people who are really funny on Twitter: 4 (spoiler alert. Mary Shelley isn’t one!)
Seriously, I am so stoked about it and can’t wait to be a nerd (or spoiler...maybe NERDIER) again next year. It has also saved me A TON of money I was impulse spending on Candy Crush and Frozen Free Fall. Feel free to ask me about anyof these  because I have opinions for DAYS! 

I also am so excited I once again got to live out one of my Tim Gun annual mantras to the absolute fullest ! 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Down with the Sickness (50 ways to leave your cold)

Although there is no optimal time to get sick (kind of like there's never a perfect time to get pregnant or wear that shirt that's sheer but has long sleeves), I'd definitely not recommend the midst of holiday goings-on aka mid December. Like my nose, it blows...hard and raw. I've missed out on nog-fests, dinners and open bar holiday parties for liquor companies. Life is not fair. While I should be wowing you with some kind of heart warming or glitzy Christmas post, instead you're going to get one about mucus. You'll deal.

As the daughter of a nurse, I have not only acquired a really dark sense of appropriateness and humor but also a giant arsenal of medicinal treatments for anything that could potentially ail me (both of the Walgreen's and Kooky bananas variety.)

As the snot volcanoes started to form in my nasal passages and the Harvey Firestein started to set into my voice, I called on every single weapon at my disposal to slay the beast of a cold. [Tangent: yes. A cold is a cold and is small potatoes to most, but for me- anytime I get sick I go into panic mode. I have craptatsic lungs and am what they call "medically fragile" so even though I feel bulletproof and badass most of the time, I'm not. As I get older and realize what a shit storm hospitalization is, I have come to terms with beings a vigilante. I'm that annoying person that will harp on you to get a flu shot and tell you to go away if you're sick. Anti vaxxers need not apply!]

It's been yeeeears since I have really had a legit cold, so I am exceedinglyrusty at how these proceedings even go down. Instead of being level headed, I just threw everything at the wall of sickness waiting to see what stuck (I know that sounds like a vomit euphemism, but it wasn't. I was vom-free.) [Tangent: as any scientist would tell you, this is the worst way to find what works. Having 100 variables in an experiment of finding a successful outcome is the worst idea ever. This is why I made a 71 in high school chemistry (but it was honors!!!)] Here were some of my methods.

  • Drink pretty much just hot toddies morning noon and night. So a couple years ago, I invented a drink recipe that is not really delicious, but definitely clears sinuses (of not just you but anyone in a 3 county radius). [Tangent: People (aka my family) often say it smells like I'm drinking a Yankee candle.] Years ago I got a starter pack of essential oils and had not a clue what to do with them, but after letting them collect dust in a drawer I broke em out for allergy season and learned they can take a hot toddy from 0 to 60 real quick. I mix hot tea, whiskey, lemon, local honey, a drop of peppermint oil and a drop of lavender oil. If nothing else it will make your home smell good and make you a lot drunk.  [Tangent: I couldn't tell you if it was alcohol or my immune system that was exhausting me, but I like to use the tactics of old timey prospectors to feel better.]
  • Netti pot like it's going outta style. As I've written about before here, I'm a big believer in a netti pot and it's more foolproof cuz, the netti bottle. When I was little, anytime I was sick, my dad would tell me to gargle with salt water (which always seemed like bullshit and something he leaned in the navy or on the farm, but it always worked even if I swallowed it and always gagged). This is the next natural progression, plus I like any treatment that immediately makes you feel better. [Tangent: Even if the cost is that feeling that you've been knocked out by a giant wave and are momentarily choked with sea water.] I sometimes even put a drop of that lavender oil in my Neti bottle with the salt solution (because what the hell else am I gonna do with all these oils?!?!?) to make the inside of my face smell refreshing and not like week old snot funk. And when I wasn't doing that I was just hitting my face with saline spray every 10 minutes to knock those boogers loose. My sodium intake through my nostrils has probably broken a record in the past 10 days. [Tangent:...I mean unless there's a human that ingests only kikoman soy sauce through an NG tube, then they probably earned that depressing crown. I shouldn't be so quick to assume that title.] 
  • Take all the medicine  I mean within reason (sort of). You best believe I pulled out all my best gal pals: sudafed, Zyrtec, Mucinex, Flonase, Tylenol, Afrin (when desperate because I was sick of blowing my nose all night). Vitamin c gummies for when I want to delude myself into thinking I'm indulging in a delicious sweet treat, but I'm really boosting immunity. I even swabbed my nasal passages with zicam the max number of times a day, even after I read an article warning a loss of olfactory powers among patients that used it. OH WELL! I NEEDED WELLNESS MORE THAN THE ABILITY TO SMELL! Priorities change when your throat is the width of a coffee stirrer.
  • Dip myself in Vicks vapo rub So I guess there are different camps, but I was not raised in a Vicks family. Like I guess it was around, but I never remember using it as a kid or basting myself in it nightly when a cold struck. Maybe I was too nasally sensitive and the idea of that was too much. Despite all this, when this cold rolled around- I got balls deep in Vicks. [Tangent: Eww...not literally...that would smart.] There were points when it was on my neck and chest and the soles of my feet, even though the logic that an ointment on my feet would affect my chest and head seems like dark magic [Tangent: One of the recommendations for a sore throat is to slather your neck in Vicks and wrap it in a man's sock. Does that sound ridiculous? Yes. Did I do it? Also yes. At that point I would have summoned every deity to do my bidding.]
  • Liquid Diet. What goes best with hot toddies? Hot soup. I ate any variety...homemade chicken noodle with bone 20 cent Ramen. My taste buds didn't discriminate. 
So after all of those shananigans, yesterday was the day I finally felt like a human woman. My voice is almost back...I mean as back as it could be. [Tangent: On the regular, my voice is sub-par.] Also, I finally have a computer that is functioning. Oh, bury the old macbook committed suicide last week and as a result I (for days) thought I had lost a LOT of writing that I am saving for a special project. [Tangent: Surviving being homebound without my laptop was hellish. First world problems...I am fully aware.] Luckily, it was pulled from the wreckage! Christmas miracles all around.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Netflix Documentary Hits & Misses vol. 22 (Nov/Dec 2016 Edition)

I know…I know…I have not exactly been consistent in my documentary reviews as of late. [Tangent: Gasp! It may have been a couple months.] I’ve been swamped with some fun and then some decidedly not so fun stuff…but I can’t completely blame that; my intake of media has not been null.In the last few months, I have been undertaking a mass horror movie marathon as well as trying to finish up my self-imposed resolution to read 35 books this year. So in those fringe hours, early morning and late late night, which is usually earmarked for solo doc watching- I have instead devoted to those pursuits. I am my own worst enemy.

Amanda Knox- B
This one was one that I have been hearing about since it "dropped” on Netflix. [Tangent: Can I pull off that use of the word “dropped”…did I even do it right?] I was familiar with the story because I watch a lot of 20/20, but I had forgotten a great deal about it- so I was somewhat interested getting retold the story, and hearing it from Amanda’s own mouth. The doc is told basically from Amanda’s perspective…and she came off just as one might assume…kind of disconnected and cold but somehow sympathetic. I still can’t decide if I think she did it, but I think it was an interesting watch. If you dug Making The Murderer with the fervency I did (or true crime in general)-then you’ll be into it.

Jesus Camp- A+
Just in time for Christmas, Netflix has re-added one of my all-time favorites to streaming- JESUS CAMP! Back when I got dvds in the mail through the service- this is one I watched over and over.  If you asked me to recommend 10 docs,this would probably be in my top 5! Being from the South and not really being super religious, [Tangent: I'm a unicorn. I was raised Catholic…which is an altogether different animal so makes it hard for me to relate to a lot of things…like the goings on in this movie.] I find extremes in religion both foreign and familiar. The plot of this movie is pretty easy to glean from the title, it’s about a group of children attending a summer church camp…and it follows their attempts to recruit Christ followers in any way they can…even at bowling alleys. As you know if you have read any of doc blogs, then you know that I love a film about children deeply immersed in a niche group. If you like this one, then watch Magic Camp and Bible Quiz. By the end you will have a favorite kid…mine was clearly Levi with the rat tail. [Tangent: And feel free to checkout this article after you watch about what all the kids are doing 10 years later  and the impact the movie had on their lives.]

Children of God- B+
Another big doc draw for me is if it is about a cult. [Tangent:You know how much I gushed about Holy Hell in one of my last posts! I guess it goes in line with being deeply intrigued by anyone that follows a belief super strictly.] All I knew about children of God prior is that the Phoenix family (as in Joaquin and River and crew) were members as children. This 1994 film, which is only an hour in length, is a very informative…in fact it has a more journalistic PBS vibe than a movie vibe, but I was on board. It is jam packed with weird music video bits produced by the cult that are equal parts terrifying and catchy. Also, a cult leader nicknamed “Daddy” who communicates through weird comic books??!?  This cult, like a lot of others, made me sure that the 60’s and 70s were basically just like Hair and The Who’s Tommy.  [Tangent: I also regularly ask my mother “Are you sure you weren’t in a cult?” because she had long blonde hair, wore flowy dresses and spent the 60s in Honolulu and San Francisco. Seems like the perfect storm.] At this point, you can’t change my mind to the contrary.

Queen Mimi- A
Yet another trope that draws me like a fly to cow pies is delightful and somewhat surly old people. There is honestly nothing I would rather spend 90 minutes on, and Queen Mimi is definitely one of my favorite eclectic old folks movies. Mimi is a woman in her 80s that lives and works in an LA laundry matand has  over the years built a bit of a fan club. Included in her gaggle of loyal admirers are Renee Zellwegger and Zach Galifinakis, who invites her to premieres and considers her almost family. As the movie unfolds,the viewer (as well as the filmmaker) uncover some secrets about Mimi that no one, including her close friends know. It has quickly joined the ranks of Gray Gardens, Burt’s Buzz, Iris and Magical Universe as “Favorite Docs about kooky old people.”

Floyd Norman: An Animated Life- A
I didn’t expect to love this one so much, but soon I was pulled into it and even tearing up, after blindly choosing it to watch one day.The subject, Floyd, is a long time Disney employee who has worked on everything from Sleeping Beauty to some of the Pixar films. [Tangent: Stylistically, Sleeping Beauty is one of my all time faves. That color palette!!] It makes me so mad I had never heard of him before because he has literally had his hands on so many things animated in popular culture  in the last 50 years. He was so passionate about his life’s work that it can’t help but make you feel like you’re not doing life right unless you’re obsessed. [Tangent: That’s a very highjacked and very mutilated John Waters quote.] I’ll try not to give too much away, but just prepare to fall headlong in  love with this dude. He’s the best.

Vintage Tomorrows- C-
This is one I watched months ago, so I am having a hard time recalling much about it. That doesn’t speak of my crap memory but more that this one just wasn’t that memorable. It follows, through profiles and interviews, steam punk enthusiasts. As stated before I love watching any doc that uncovers some niche group of people that follow an unconventional interest or lifestyle. I guess it would be better if you were totally ignorant of what steam punk was, but for me it just could have been a lot better; I felt I spent most of the 90 minutes scrolling through FB.  I did find it interesting to learn about the “maker” aspect and the creativity and craftsmanship that goes into it.

Ok. See, I'm back. There will be more coming soon. What should I watch next? 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Animal Babies Nursery: The Creepiest Toy Ever

I have a niece and two nephews under 5, so I'm not immersed in children's popular culture 24/7; 365- but around the holidays I casually dip my toe in so I can be the cool aunt on Christmas morning. This is not something I half-ass. I spend time scoping out toys in stores and via Google- and I have come to the conclusion that the majority of them are terrifying. Case in point- Animal Babies Nursery. This innocuous sounding toy is the creepiest thing I have encountered in a long time, and I spent the entirety of October watching horror movies. These animatronic plushes are part innocent cuddle time...part Island of Dr. Moreau...and all nightmare fodder.

My first encounter with these scary beasts was when I was combing through the gender specific girls section trying to find something freak-out worthy for my five year old niece. Misshelved among the Cabbage Patch Kids and Puppy Surprises (a nostalgic head scratcher unto itself) was nestled a Baby Animals Nursery creature called the baby kangaroo that made me audibly gasp and perhaps drop a well-earned F-bomb. [Tangent: Being that I was window shopping solo at that moment, this didn't go over well with the lululemon wrapped momarazzi hanging in the aisle. Oh well. I don't take back my reaction. It stands as valid and 100% warranted.]

I'm not a total square, I know that animals with human traits are a tale as old as time. In prior years, my eyes have been personally accosted by the likes of Equestria Girls and something called Pinkie Cooper. Both are bipedal mammals (ponies and puppies respectively) clad in go-go boots and mirco minis with human lady proportions. Seriously, I am sure they are a hit with little girls (and maybe some niche internet perv groups.) But something about these Baby Animal Nursery toys are even more aggressively upsetting than those animals from the phylum Fashionista.  I can’t even put my finger on it, but now when I close my eyes, the peaceful black is replaced with that non-blinking kangaperson. 
 Because my twisted curiosity is stronger than my need to live peacefully ignorant of the horrors of the world, I was soon flung headlong into the internet vortex of these animal babies and each one was creepier than the last. I can just imagine these thumb sucking monsters sticking their hard plastic faces out from behind a pillow and "babble" in the most terrifying of manners.

 EEK! That calico cat solifies my status as “more of a dog person"! That werid turtle abomination? The humanzee with bangs? And dear god that rabbit makes Frank from Donnie Darko look like Peter Cottontail.

I cannot pass judgement on kids today, nor do I want to. Granted I can still sing the entirety of a theme song for a cartoon based onpersonified gummy bear candies in a renaissance setting...and don't get me started on the enigma that is the Popple.  But come on,  this shit is horrifying. This weird humanoid kangaroo in a diaper with its blow up doll expression and promise to cry like a person and say the word "yummy" is enough to rob me of a week's sleep. As my friend Katie observed when I showed her the pic, "if they can hold a bottle, they can hold a knife."

Now aren’t you feeling their vacant eyes crawling on you from all sides as you hear their robotic giggles? Sweet dreams.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

for shane.

This past week has been crazy (and not fun crazy but the kind of crazy that liquifies you). Not only have I felt spread thin but as if I was passed through a pasta machine and came out in tiny strips. Here I am on the other end fervently trying to press those strips back together...only the now everything seems haphazard and out of order. But slowly but surely I am getting my shit reassembled.

Last Wednesday I was just starting to let it soak in that I would soon be living in a world with a president Trump (Still that phrase seems strange to type) and prepping for my boyfriend to have surgery the next day, when my best friend called me to tell me that our friend Shane had passed away that morning. Immediately I dissolved and felt like I had been punched hard in the chest. All I could do was go lay down.

 In the last 5 years, I have seen a lot of death and lost a lot of major people in my life that were among my greatest champions. It doesn't get easier. In fact one by one as they fall I feel way more vulnerable [Tangent: as I try to remain slightly more hopeful that they have rubbed off on me.] When deciding what to blog about today, it seemed right that I wrote a little bit about the legacy my friend Shane leaves behind.  Damned if he didn't encourage me regularly about my writing and the fact that I wasn't living up to my potential. He was a real ass hole in that regard, even though he was right.

I met Shane probably 9 or so years ago when his best friend and my best friend started dating [Tangent: They are now married so that all worked out. Here's proof we didn't eff up our friends relationship].

 In situations like that it is always a crap shoot if friend groups are gonna mix and you know by default that you will have to spend a lot of time together in group settings so you might as well learn to be cordial and tolerate each other. Only unexpectedly, two people that could not be more different (Shane and I) became very good friends. He was brash and outdoorsy and unafraid of public opinion and didn't mince all. At the time in my personal narrative, I was a puss. I was scared of most everything (mostly of my own potential and life possibilities),  and decidedly indoorsy by design.

It a bizarre juxtoposition, but it all worked out...we both were SUPER hard to offend and liked to talk for eons about seemingly everything from music to politics to religion, so our friendship worked strangely well and organically. Authenticity was important for both of us...and I don't think you could meet a more authentic dude or one with less of a filter. I thought hard about a story that would best describe our friendship and the good time and good human that was Shane and I settled on this one.

Shane was in the National Guard and had spent a huge chunk of time in Africa doing work and building wells, so in his absense from Nashville- we were pen pals. At that time I was learning to drive, so I weekly would send him updates and I would hear all about his travels. When he returned he had all these new interests and stories and had discovered a love for taking pictures. Of course like most things he attempted, he was really good at it and I wanted to push him to do more [Tangent: One of his pictures hangs by my sink so it bares witness daily to my spitting out toothpaste.] One day probably about 7 years ago, we planned to walk around Radnor Lake together and shoot the shit. [Tangent: This was pretty regular- we would just find some activity and then just a lot of aimless wandering.] Yes, I was being outdoorsy.

It was such a good day. Perfect weather. I don't even remember if Shane took many pictures, but I do remember we talked a lot about where you could hide a body (which is pretty par for the course of our convos.) I also remember that after getting about a mile into the trails, I realized my battery on my chair was near dead.  My power chair was new. I had  no inkling of a notion on how to put it into neutral so he pushed my 350 pound chair up hills and over some not-so-smooth terrain back to my car..for roughly 3/4 of a mile. I felt awful (and physically he probably did too) but didn't show it.

As we reached my car, I apologized profusely for not paying attention or for not charging my chair the night before [Tangent: If you know me at know how my semi-Catholic upbringing has made the words "I'm sorry" a knee jerk reflexive reaction to most things.] , but he made no issue of it and immediately laughed and said, "So are we going to eat...which Cracker Barrel is closest? You're gonna buy me dinner. I'm hungry."

And we did...he could push me a little further when there was hasbrown casserole on the line. That day is just indicative of him as a person and his effect on me...pushing me when I felt stuck and putting me and everyone else in his life at ease. That was his role (and often times became my role when he felt stuck in any capacity). He was always down to go on an adventure and I was happy to be his copilot. Even when he went on his biggest adventure of packing up his car and driving to the Maine wilderness, we stayed in touch and helped each other stay accountable for being the humans that we were capable of being. I'll miss that. Being at his funeral and talking to his girlfriend and his friends and family, I've seen how far reaching he was and the many sides he showed to so many people. Everyone needs a circle of humanity they can rely on for complete honesty, and I was lucky to have him as part of mine.

In looking for pictures and digging through old messages and emails, I found one from around the time my dad died. When I said I hated feeling like a pussy all the time, he told me that "it was Ok to be a pussy because the rebound to self would make all that weakness feel worth while." [Tangent: SERIOUSLY! WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!? Shane...that's who.] Now I synthesize all those sentiments as I deal with his passing and damned if he isn't making sense of things even when he is not of this earth. I say this all the time, but it is a spoils of riches the people that I have in my corner, and he was definitely one of the greats. Cheers, friend.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A day at the Newseum

I wasn't gonna write tonight, but being the night before an election for me is like Christmas to a child. Only instead of clenching my eyelids worrying about if I am going to get the Aladdin VHS or Barbie dream house, I'm worried that I might get an orange in my stocking literally an orange. [Tangent: That is the least nonpartisan (but still kinda partisan) analogy that I can muster ...but ya'll know what side my bread is buttered I need not go any further with that.]  Thinking about politics and how insane and frustrating they can be, it reminded me that The time was nigh to pull an "Aunt Linda" and tell you more about my trip to DC, the land that has spawned that frustrating insane child! 
During our time in DC, we saw a bunch of things that made a quality merlot out of every last one of my mind grapes, but the suggestion that I am happiest I took was to go to the Newseum. [Tangent: Growing up in a house that's white noise was CNN (there was no reason a second grader should know all about the Gulf War or the intricacies of the Anita Hill confirmation hearings...), I vowed I would only watch it once a day as an adult, when I could choose my programming for myself. Even then, I hypothesized that it would be like a daily vitamin and I wouldn't enjoy it. Then I went on to study Journalism...and twas my gateway drug because now I watch the news all the damn time. It's still the white noise in my home- 2-3 episodes of local news...Nightline...20/20...even Inside Edition (diversify!). Let's not go into reading articles online. ] It was amazing, and each exhibit made me say "I can't believe I am seeing this!" The only bummer was that this was the first museum that we visited, so it gave all the others humongous loafers to fill. 

The newseum is located not far from DC's China town and seriously has every relic from modern televised history that you could imagine. [Tangent: Smithsonian better step up its game! I mean I know the American History museum has Dortothy's ruby slippers...but the Newseum has the Unibomber's cabin, where of course Jamie had to Kacsynski alongside the famous sketch...trying not to get dirty looks from fellow tourists.]
 In fact while we were there, they had an exhaustive exhibit on terrorism, which included wreckage from Ground Zero and things taken from the site of the Boston Marathon. [Tangent: Since I was thousands of miles away in college on 9/11, I guess the enormity of it never fully penetrated. You can imagine that it is something distant until you are just feet away twisted metal from the twin towers. Seeing that backed by a wall of 9/12 front page headlines from all over the country was disturbing and heartbreaking and beautiful in one brush stroke.]
There was also a section of the Berlin wall on display with one of the watchtowers. [Tangent: I was young when the wall in Germany was torn down, so a lot of the images that I associate with it were added to memory bank in my adulthood. Ex: that video footage of David Hasselhoff dancing atop it with a piano scarf and that snippet from the documentary I reviewed last month, Animism, where a woman was in a romantic relationship with the wall and oddly fondled it. Once I stifled the release of those images, I really took in how awesome it was to see in person.]

There really wasn't any part of the self-guided tour that didn't make me wish I could take my brother, Chris, and my dad to this place. They would have lost their minds. This soulless robot actually teared up a little when Jamie and I were looking through the print archives of famous publications (including famous headlines like "Dewey Beats Truman" and the first issue of Rolling Stone) because I couldn't call and tell them about it.
There were little nook displays devoted to stories which I remembered ruling the airwaves during my lifetime like the 2000 election drama and the OJ trial. I mean, not to brag, but I got to see Juice's suit. That was worth the $22 price of admission alone.
If I ever go back to DC, and if it doesn't spontaneously crumble to the earth after tomorrow's election results, I will 100% go back because I am positive that we didn't see everything. THERE WERE 6 FLOORS! It almost made me wish I had followed my senior year in high school dreams and gone into broadcast journalism...but oh well, I'll always have this approximation brought to you by the Newseum. 

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