Friday, February 24, 2017

Netflix (and Amazon and Hulu) Documentary Hits & Misses Vol. 24: February 2017

It's February, so I thought I should keep things a lil spicy and throw in a documentary from Amazon Prime streaming and one from Hulu. I have also been single-handedly trying to watch as many movies in Oscar contention as possible, because I love spreading myself paper thin with no consequence self-imposed goals. [Tangent: I will probably write about those before this weekend though, so it's not a completely wasted past time. I've watched all the best pictures and a great deal of the other nominated films.] Luckily one of these killed two birds with one stone as it is an Oscar-nominated documentary [Tangent: I'll give you a hint...it's not My Online Bride.]!

The National Lampoon: Drunk, Stoned, Brilliant, Dead- A (Netflix)
I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know the impact of The National Lampoon until watching this doc.  The basics of the titular movie series and some of the famous cartoons and stuff were familiar, but I had no idea about all the great minds like Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase and John Belushi that basically cut their teeth on Lampoon projects. I laughed uncontrollably at so many parts because they were simultaneously smart and stupid, which is my favorite combo. It's definitely not something to watch with your kids or parents because it's titties and sex galore, and a lot of the things stated are meant to be controversial, so remember that when you are watching. I feel like many current sites like McSweeney's, Reductress and The Onion can trace their roots to the Lampoon.

Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig- A- (Netflix)
Confession: I have never seen Party Monster, [Tangent: Somehow it evaded me in college and I guess I like to remember McCauley Culkin as Kevin McCalister or Thomas J. Sue me!] so the story of NYC club kid, Michael Alig, was one I knew only vaguely, from nodding along in conversations about Party Monster. This movie follows his story from his humble small town beginnings to his tango with drugs and his eventual crime [Tangent: Bum....bum...bum...]. I am kinda glad I went in blind, because I LOVE any true crime angle and the colorful assortment of characters they interviewed was fantastic and everything was a surprise. Each interviewee was better than the last. I mean, I would expect no less from the 80's New York club scene. [Tangent: I don't think I have been more obsessed with documentary interview subjects since Bill Cunningham's New York. If you haven't watched that yet...make it a double feature.]

Life, Animated - A+ (Amazon Prime Streaming)
I have wanted to see this movie long before it landed an Oscar nom for best documentary. [Tangent: Sorry that sounded hella pretentious. I'm just saying that it was on my radar for a while, because it's about disability and the love of movies...so duh. I'm sold.] The movie is very raw and real but blends animation storytelling and Disneyana, and it is done in a way that is not at all hokey, which is impressive. It tells the story of a young man with autism, who at a young age was nonverbal and struggling to connect to his family, but eventually gained the skills through an obsessive love of Disney animated films. It truly made me feel fantastic. I watched it on a day where Jamie and I watched 4 Oscar nominated film, and by far this was our favorite [Tangent: Suck it, Hacksaw Ridge!]. Even though I'm pretty sure 13th is going to win the little golden man, I truly LOVED this movie.

Fursonas- A (Hulu or here)
You need really say no more than "a documentary about furries" and I am 100% scrounging for the roku remote to get it started before you can complete your thoughts. Thanks to my friends for pointing this one out to me because I am still new to Hulu and unleashing its possibilities. [Tangent: "Unleashing?" is that a weird furry pun? I can't even tell anymore.] I LOVE a strange subculture and learning what they're all about, and it appears the filmmaker behind this one was a furry himself, so his insider perspective was interesting [Tangent: Oh, btw...in case you are not aware of what I speak. "Furries" are people who dress in animal costumes as a means to reflect who they really are. It is sometimes a sexual fetish...sometimes not. There was debate on that within this film. ] There were so many moments that will forever be burned into my brain stem: The young gay man doing an elaborate dance routine in his animal suit. The charismatic leader at their gatherings, who gave off a decidedly David Miscavige vibe, at least in his messaging. And the creator and distributor of sex toys made for furries, which were disturbing and made me very uneasy (THAT'S SO HARD TO DO!). Also if it doesn't lead you to a long conversation about what your hypothetical "fursona" would be, I don't want to know you. By the way, we deduced I would be a rabbit...not that you care.

Most Valuable Players- C (Netflix)
Can I be honest,  even though I am a huge fan of musicals, I sometimes find theater kids a little obnoxious...okay...very obnoxious [Tangent: I know...I know...I am the most obnoxious person on the planet, so take that determination with a grain of salt.], Even still, watching a whole documentary about obsessive children spoke to my interests...because you know how much I love a Jesus Camp or a Magic Camp or even a Bible Quiz. I can't not watch a doc about awkward teenagers, it goes against nature. This doc, which I watched when I needed a break from seeing Trump on television, follows three high school theater troupes and their roads to the Freddy Awards ceremony, which is the Tony's for high school students. I love the idea that the arts get the same (or more) community hubbub as sports, but I was a little underwhelmed. I will say that my low rating may be attributed to the fact that (spoiler!) multiple schools were doing Les Miserables, which is one of my least favorite musicals.

My Online Bride - D (Netflix)
This is my third foray into movies about meeting a love online (specifically through "mail order bride" type scenarios), so I am an unofficial expert on this thing that is really weird to be an expert on. This one was a little boring, and if you think that subject sounds interesting watch Love Me or When Strangers Click...or just marathon a 90 Day Fiancee. Those are much better comparatively.  Thankfully, it is under an hour, which is a weird compliment for a movie.

SO MANY ALREADY ON MY LIST... and YES, I am gonna get to Deprogrammed in March. Promise! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Rise of Dying Teen Cinema

Today I was scrolling through Facebook and spotted a trailer for a movie I hadn't ever heard of,  but that looked semi terribly cheesy so I think I should have- Everything Everything. From the preview, I could glean it was the story of a girl who was unable to go outside due to some exoticly romanticized lowered immune disease. [TANGENT: Swoon! Am I right?] Here's the trailer so you can see what I am talking about before I move on.



Basically, it's the 2017 girl version of the as seen on TV 70's classic, Boy in the Plastic Bubble, but with less JohnTra and more Ed Sheeren songs [Presumably. I have no idea if that is even true. Ed Sheeren just seems like the patron saint of slow dancing in the rain...which seems like someone no one has ever done in real life, unless they are living their best life and looking death in the kisser.]
 For the record, I love movies and am not above anything. [Tangent: In fact that's pretty much what should be inscribed on my tombstone. As much as I try to watch well-crafted pieces of art, I legitimately enjoy a lot of terrible movies. I hold Never Been Kissed and movies in Oscar contention with equal esteem.]  I LOVE to halfway hate-watch a hardcore scmaltz-fest from the sanctity of my living room...as they are meant to be viewed 100% alone [Tangent:...and then inevitably beginning to cry...and then just get angry at myself for taking the low-hanging bait...and bubble over with self-loathing as the predictability and contrived nature of what I have just viewed sets in.]  I have even paid hard-earned dollars to see them in theaters, because despite my best efforts, I can be incredibly cliche and lame. Here's my friend Rae and I proving that we thought the tear-fest Me Before You needed less montages and more reality. [Tangent: I felt I had to read and see it after all the backlash from the disability community. I don't bandwagon jump until I see it for myself.]

 I have seen all the other movies  that are part of a weird trend of movies that fall under the umbrella of "You're Sick, but I love you!" - Me Before You, If I Stay, The Fault in our Stars...all the way back to A Walk To Remember, which my best friend and I laughed through because we are terribly calloused individuals. 

Still I wonder...
"Why is this a thing?"

Trust. Being in love with someone with an illness is not so romantic [Tangent: I know the Nicholas Sparks of the world would beg to differ because they love to have people come down with sad and glamorous diseases. ]. I wish it was! I'm not saying I completely frown upon this trend, [Trust that I am all for people with disabilities getting some action in the media. GET IT, PEEPS!] I just find it a bit head-scratching...and misleading about how relationships are if one of the people has an illness.

Technically I am not dying, but I have a pretty shit-tastic disease, and I can affirm that these films are complete fiction. If anyone has ever been enraptured by my fragility and propensity for breathing treatments...I have not been aware. [Tangent: And I assure you if I was ever looked at like some kind of inspiration, a solid eye roll would be given.]

And I have never felt like I needed love to validate me...I mean sure dudes were never banging down my door and of course, it made me sad...but the whole savior complex in these movies is real gross, and kind of diminishes that the characters have anything else going on. Suddenly their love story revolves around the disease. Hmmm.. Do you know how much my boyfriend and I talk about MD. Barely ever. It just doesn't come up and its not something we dwell on. Of course, it affects things sometimes, but really it just is something we adapt around...not something that makes me feel invalid.

I know what you're saying...sad cry-fest love stories are not new. Love Story. Steel Magnolias. They all hinge on someone dying and leaving love behind or saying "To hell with death, here's life and I'm gonna do it on my terms!" [Tangent: Sorry. I mean oops. Spoiler Alert for movies that came out over 25 years ago.] But those movies have other story lines and the illness isn't the star of the show.  It is more of a supporting character that moves plot along. [Tangent: Also, for the record...I love both of those movies!]

Maybe I just question why this trend has exploded in the last few years. I feel like every young adult book or movie I see somehow revolves around a premise that one of the two parties is somehow sick or in a life or death situation [Tangent: Or mentally ill...or suicidal.]. It's very odd to me. There are other ways to throw complexities into a story than to reduce a person to a diagnosis and make them the saddest human on the planet.



As I wrote about in this blog post from 3 years ago, my favorite childhood author was Lurlene McDaniel who wrote such hits stories as "Baby Alicia Is Dying"; "She Died Too Young"; "Sixteen and Dying"; "For Better, For Worse, Forever" etc etc. [Tangent: I feel like the titles alone give you a pretty good idea of the content of these books. I probably don't need to explain that in each book a character died and she had a whole series of books revolving around make-a-wish scenarios.] I read every word she printed on paperback. You get the idea, I was a really morbid kid who loved to question mortality and it's effects, but I was 11, so my falling for the obvious devices seemed understandable, albeit a bit strange. Besides it was the early 90s, what else was I doing?

Now with the trailer for Everything Everything, I'm realizing this weird trend is here to stay. Now this is the norm. It seems Lurlene needs to start optioning her books for film. She is missing a huge opportunity.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cripple Concepts Giveaway and Review

OK, guys. I know this blog only has a probably 20% readership of people with disabilities, because let's face it, despite the tongue-in-cheek title, I often talk more about Netflix or reality TV than I do actual disability issues, but this one is for you 20%! [Tangent: YEP! Buckle up uprights, you're about to be left out for a post. You will be OK. Now you'll just know how I feel when I go to a building with stairs and no ramp! BOOM! Welcome to my twisted exercise in empathy! Just kidding, I'm not alienating you and maybe you should read this anyway, because you may think it's pretty cool. See, everyone is happy or maybe you can pass along to someone you know with a power chair!]

A few weeks before the holidays I was reading The Holiday Gift Guide from my friend Emily Ladau at Words I Wheel By, a gift guide of items produced by entreprenuers and artisans with disabilities, and saw this product that just blew my mind all over the laptop [Tangent: Sorry for that graphic visual, but it truly made my brain explode with happiness! As you know, I use my phone A LOT, and because my car is 90% transformer, the typical cigarette lighter charging port is blocked by super high tech beep boop machines that make my car move. This has been an ongoing frustration for the last 8 years. I have invested in external batteries and solar chargers over the years to use when I am on road trips or just not near a wall port. They work well enough, but are not ideal.]  The product from a company called Cripple Concepts is a simple little 5 inch USB charging port had the potential to make my life much less stressful, because it plugs easily into my chair's charging port thus I can charge on the go. [Tangent: WHERE WAS THIS WHEN I WENT TO DC AND HAD TO DUCK INTO EVERY CORNER STARBUCKS TO CHARGE MY PHONE WHILST SIGHTSEEING!]

I immediately forwarded this link to my mom and told her that was all I basically needed for Christmas. My own personal Santa obliged and I got it 2 months ago and love it so very much. It is so handy when I go to outdoor events, like when I went to last month's women's march, because I could simply plug my USB cable into it and go [Tangent: To be honest, my friends like it, too. I have become exceedingly popular at bars and events because my friends can just hand off their phone to me to charge and they don't have to be tethered to a wall]! I now just carry it wherever I go because it's tiny and easily fits into my purse. 
 My only real initial concern was that it would drain my chair's battery, and I wasn't about to make a Sophie's Choice every day of which battery was more crucial.  Good news! It draws less than 1.0A from the chair, which is very negligible. In layman's terms, I can get my battery from 0% to fully charged more than once and not even lose a full bar of wheelchair power. That's dark magic to me!

They also universally fit the standard 3 pin XLR type charge port on the chair or scooter, they convert 24V from the chair to 5V 3A (Whatever that means!).  Basically, if your charging port has three holes, you're good to go! Because you supply your own USB cord, it can easily work with any kind of phone (or ipad or ipod or anything really!).

 As I do when I love something a whole lot, I tell the person or company about it,  because doesn't everyone love to hear how great they are occasionally!?! I emailed Josh Winkler, the man behind Cripple Concepts [Tangent: And before you get all up in a tizzy about the use of the word cripple, understand Josh is a quadriplegic so is self-identifying. Per the website: "Love it or hate it, you won't forget it. The name Cripple Concepts was chosen to distinguish us from the companies run by able-bodied people, we are different and we are proud to be different. We understand some consider the word 'cripple' offensive, but we see it as empowering."] to explain how much I loved his product and how many pickles it had already helped me out of. Basically,  I wanted to tell him in non-creepy terms how badly I wanted to sing his praises from every possible mountaintop, even though I am fairly tone deaf. 

He was great and responsive and told me he was even tweaking the product to make it even better by adding a silicone ring to it. Together we decided to share this kind of tech bliss with two lucky winners and give the new and improved ones away! He also wanted to share that if people are tech inclined or handy that they can read the components used in the building process here, so you could make your own. [Tangent: That is over my head, so I just paid the $45! It WAS WORTH IT for my sanity!]

Entering a giveaway is easy, and if you have a chair- just enter! You'll love it, I promise! Plus, I have TWO and frankly only about 20% of my readers use wheelchairs...so the odds are ever in your favor. [Tangent: OK. I am getting thirsty and begging and quoting The Hunger Games, so I will stop and just show you how to enter already!]

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 23, 2017

This is What Democracy Looks Like

The Internet sucks today. Both sides are being combative. No one is listening. Men and women alike (on both sides of the issue) are being assholes that are turning Zuckerberg's brainchild into a virtual Real Housewives reunion. People are talking over each other and trying to shame left and right..and it's a shame because the event was the epitome of civility, love and solidarity.

This discordant noise is such a stark change of pace from my weekend, which included one of the most peaceful loving experiences of my life. On Saturday morning, I participated in one of many marches held to protest the views/promises given by the Trump administration. [Tangent: If you read my article over on Ravishly about my fears regarding our new president, do it.]

Over the weekend I lost count of how many posts I saw that said, "I don't get even why they are marching"...so I thought I would tell you why I was there, and what it was like. The internet is filled with armchair quarterbacking so I wanted to give an eyewitness account just in case you haven't talked in person to one of the 20,000+ people that attended in my city alone. [Tangent: Impressive for a red state, no?]
The Nashville walk was called Power Together Tennessee because it was not only women but really anyone that felt disenfranchised or who had things they wanted to bring to the forefront. It was a way of connecting in an uncertain time for many people. On a 70 degree January day [Tangent: In fact...appropriately enough, there were several signs about global warming and others saying "Science is real"...so it was being illustrated for sure in the atmosphere.] marching with me, over the river and through downtown were:  republicans (yes republicans!), democrats, veterans, churches, Muslim groups, people that identify as LGBTQA, rape victims, refugees, people from the Black Lives Matter movement, teachers [Tangent:One of my favorite signs was "Devos, DeFuck?"], healthcare professionals and lots of men and dogs [Tangent: AND CHRIS ROCK!]. Everyone had a reason to want their voices heard [Tangent: Maybe not the dogs...but who knows. I suspect my dogs votes canceled each other out. Don't you give your dogs political leanings and backstories?]
borrowed with permission from Chad McClarnon

borrowed with permission from Chad McClarnon

borrowed with permission from Chad McClarnon
Everyone was excited about the enveloping diversity and doling out high fives to other individuals bringing differing perspectives to the table. From 9 AM-2 PM, there were no instances of violence or destruction of property. That's crazy. Additionally, I had lots of friends that didn't go (for various reasons)...and that's cool, too.

Sure, people are mad at Trump, so were there anti-Trump signs? 100%!  Were there burning effagies or calls for his execution? Was it fueled by violence?  No. Not even close. [Tangent: I did see a bunch of people hugging a Bernie Sanders cutout though.] It was more like a love-in than a riot. [Tangent: In the 60s, my mom and her friend marched in a satellite march for Selma in Honolulu, and she said it sounded similar. That makes me incredibly proud.]

I had so many favorite unexpected moments that will forever be currency in my memory bank:
  •  When we rolled past the Hooters on second Avenue, the servers were clapping and and chanting and cheering us on from the sidewalk! 
  • Not one but two impressively crafted vagina costumes attended.
  • The police officers waving from the bridge and posing with the pussy hats [Tangent: Yeah the unofficial uniform was cat ears or pink knitted hats. Below I show one on Elvis that I borrowed from Instagram. I imagine some children didn't get the connection between Trump's now infamous "locker room talk" and their headgear, but I suppose explaining his use of "pussy" was more damaging.]  

 
via Instagram user


vagina on the right courtesy of Chad McClarnon


Even though I wore a killer shirt, I regretted not getting a sign together because there were so many brilliant ones, and I think I could have unearthed my semesters of advertising classes. In addition to "Jesus had two dads and he turned out okay" and "Taking away my birth control only makes more democrats", my favorites of course were the ones that blended in popular culture.  [Tangent: I felt like Princess Lea and the cast of Hamilton were practically in attendance via cardboard and sharpie marker.] Thankfully Rae caught two of my favorites in a single shot. Regina George/Rupaul 2020. 
No matter if you marched or didn't, please understand what actually went down before you turn feminism and protest into dirty words.  I know I was proud to be a part of the largest march in my city's history and to quote one of the chants we repeated over and over, I felt like "This is what democracy looks like!" Now we march on and use our voices for positivity and change. To see more, simply click here to search the hashtag #PowerTogetherTN on Instagram.

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 potty...so 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 unsee...so 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 shower...so 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 haste...so 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 photos...plus 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: ...like 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
SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!

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 walker-friendly...in 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 not...you 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.

ThredUp

Buying: 
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 on...it does. The attention to detail/branding wasn't lost on this gal.
Selling:
 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!)

Poshmark

Buying:
 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 consignment...so 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. 
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