Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I neglected to mention this before, but my mom got me a cat clock for Christmas:

It's fantastic, and hanging on my wall here at school. It makes this gentle clacking sound as the tail moves back and forth (and the eyes roll, of course), that is both soothing and kind of mesmerizing. It's kind of hard not to let it put me to sleep, hence why I have music on whenever I am trying to work the last couple of days.

(Yeah, back at school. I'm hoping it will get better, and I think it will, but it fucking sucks right now.)

You know who I really, unironically love a whole lot? Kate Moss.

I know she's a cokehead (although why people were ever shocked at that is beyond me, but whatever.) I know she ushered in the super-waif trend among high-fashion models that has plagued the fashion industry ever since. I know she's kinda trashy and something of a train wreck, and that her rough living is totally reflected in her appearance when not in photos. I get it. I love her, and not just because of her breathtaking modeling ability and seemingly effortless personal style that no one else has ever quite pulled off (not that they haven't tried!) Simply put, I love her because, whatever lifestyle she leads, be it shitty or glamorous or both, she doesn't feel the need to talk about it. She doesn't try to be a role model, or talk about her wonderful organic zen life or all of her world-helping charity work, or how she achieves her beauty simply by drinking water and eating vegetables.

Not that there's anything wrong with doing any of that that. I just love that she's out there, doing her thing, be it modeling for the best designers in the world or going on a coke binge with a minor rock star or launching a fashion line, letting people take from it what they will and not shoving anything down anybody's throat about it. It's kind of refreshing, actually. She's one of the most famous, recognizable supermodels of all time for both her public and private life and yet she's managed to remain a creature of mystery. She's a fucking model, and shouldn't be expected to be anything else. She's got a job to do and she does it better than anybody else, every time.

So you go on with your bad self, Kate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Y'know when you have some caffeine to prepare yourself to work/give yourself more energy, and instead of making you more awake and focused, you just get sort of scatterbrained and sleepily jittery?

Yeah. That's what's happening with me right now. I had some chai to work on this paper (and ugh, I'm tired because the goddamned cats were in and out of my room all night, wanting to CUDDLE and PLAY!) and instead of it increasing my focus, it's just made me kind of jittery and nervous. Besides I'm freaking out a little about going back to school, mostly for various emotional reasons, and this is seriously not helping. At all.

I don't know. I mean, on a certain level I'm glad that I had work to do over this break since it kept my brain from atrophying in absence of school, and all (and obviously I'm grateful that I got the extensions, because there was no way in hell I would have been able to get it done with all the seizures I was having in the last few weeks of the semester), but ugh, it really does suck to have work to do when on winter break like this. I'm freaked, is what I'm saying. I never feel totally comfortable at school, and I'm so much lonelier and sicker there - like, always.

I do always do better spring semester than the fall one, though, because I'm going towards more light and warmth and longer days, as opposed to fall semester, when I'm going towards darker and darker and colder and colder and it's like some kind of hellish descent. Fall semester really fucking sucks. All the time.

Also? Grateful for these paper topics. It's been an American Studies-heavy semester (next semester is going to be an English-heavy one, and I anticipate it being way harder), so in the past couple of weeks I've written on Trainspotting, Citizen Kane, His Girl Friday, Twin Peaks, and now Mad Men. (The Twin Peaks research also got me a chance to correspond with Ms. Sherilyn Fenn, a.k.a. Twin Peaks' Audrey Horne - a fangirl's dream, if ever there was one. She was a peach.) Not that there aren't difficulties associated with this shit, because trust me, there are, but it's much easier when you're studying something you really find to be a lot of fun.

All this popular culture studies stuff has really given me a new appreciation for aesthetics. I've been following lots of variously aesthetic-focused blogs and I really do think it's just as valid as the study of anything else - I don't see why substance and style have to be pried apart and differentiated (they certainly aren't in film), or why styles and aesthetic can't be every bit as thought-provoking as a "higher" form of culture. And I don't think one has to be "trained" in this stuff to appreciate it - you just have to have a good eye for what you find beautiful and visually arresting, and cultivate and seek out what you like and find compelling. Sure, having studied art or film or fashion helps, but I don't think it's a requirement if you have a natural compulsion towards it.

I caught Vertigo on TV the other night after the Golden Globes (which were really good this year! Good show, good show), and it's still one of my favorites. Just hits all the right notes - dramatic and romantic and tragic and deeply creepy. Kim Novak gives the shivers - good AND bad ones! (Jimmy Stewart just gives me the bad ones.) She's exquisite. My favorite scenes are the early ones, seeing her dreamlike, haunted wanderings around San Francisco, her obsession with the portrait (that portrait still gives me major fucking creeps), her almost out-of-body hurling herself into the San Francisco bay. The sensuality, the paranoia, the obsession - it's all some of my favorite stuff.

And who could forget that fucking hair swirl?

More shivers. I read this terrifically creepy short story by Joyce Carol Oates called "Fat Man My Love" about Hitchcock from the perspective of one of his blondes. She's great when she's not completely grossing me out, which can definitely happen. I can kind of overdose on her stories a little bit and end up a bit woozy.

Enough morbidity! Let's see some aesthetic perfection! ANTM again, here. From the "short cycle," Ms. Rae Weisz:

Fucking perfect.

Also, my absolute all-time favorite photo from that show: Cycle 11's Lauren Brie:

I feel a little better now. And now, to the paper-writing!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Scattered thoughts.

So "Rocket Queen" by G n' R came up on my iTunes shuffle (I should be writing a paper, but isn't that sure and always the case?), and remembered this delightful little peace of lore about that girl moaning throughout certain parts of the track. Allegedly, one of the members of the band (I don't remember which at the moment), slept with Axl Rose's girlfriend and Axl, having what is surely a highly overdeveloped sense of revenge, decided to sleep with said fellow band member's girlfriend, tape it, and put her orgasming moans on the song.

That is just such an epic level of out-assholing that it reminds me of that episode of South Park in which Cartman gets back at some kid after a prank by arranging for his parents to be killed, making them into chili, and serving it to the kid. Some serious, House of Atreus, Greek vengeance-type shit. No real point to this, just that I love Axl Rose and I love South Park.

Really love South Park - I watch it a lot late at night while hanging out with the cats. A couple of weeks ago I caught an episode that referenced Fiona Apple. It involves Barbra Streisand as an evil monster, going around town indignant that no one seems to know who she is, to which the police officer responds: "Well, I know you're not Fiona Apple, and if you're not Fiona Apple, I don't really give a rat's ass." Bliss.

Hey, you know what else I've gotten kinda hooked on lately? Six Feet Under. It took me a couple of episodes to warm up to it, but I'm starting to like it a lot. Its combination of dark humor and morbidity is right up my alley, and the cast is really good (with the exception of Rachel Griffiths - can't stand her, and in fact she comes close to ruining the show for me), especially Michael C. Hall. I was in love the moment he appeared on screen, so of course a few minutes later it was revealed that his character is gay. Yes, so it goes.

There's something so odd and chilling about him, like he has the "leading man" looks but not quite, which is what makes him uncanny. Love him a lot. I've been meaning to watch him on Dexter, too, but I'm occupied with Six Feet Under and Ally McBeal at the moment. So much kickass TV to discover, you guys!

(I've also been meaning to get into True Blood. Kinky sex + vampires + violence + Southern Gothic vibe = party, as far as I'm concerned.)

Well, I should get back to work. At least my next few papers will be full of fluff and popular culture (but from an academic perspective, y'all!) Party time for me, for real.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ranking the ANTM winners

Time to do something useless!

So, I love America's Next Top Model, basically, which I know is ridiculous. And trust me: it is a ridiculous show, if only for the utter absurdity that is Tyra Banks' ego. But I love it, anyway - the show has a knack for providing great entertainment with its mix of beauty, utter train wrecks, ego, idiocy, oversimplification of various social problems, and fascinating, breathtaking photos and photo shoots. I don't know how the producers of this show keep it as fun and entertaining as they do, but it's really pretty damn impressive, as is the level of total absurdity they can produce.

And so, in that spirit, I am going to personally rank the winners of the show, in order of least to most favorite. (The fact that the show can go through two "cycles" a year is also impressive.) It's also an excuse to look at pretty pictures.

13. Naima Mora - Cycle 4

Oh, Naima. While I admit that she gave good face in her pictures while on the show, her unbelievably dull personality, awkwardness, and odd looks while in motion pretty much served to convince me that runner-up Kahlen was robbed. Also, she just depresses me, especially when she inexplicably had sideburns, post-show.

12. Nicole Linkletter - Cycle 5

Pretty as Nicole was, and as photogenic as she could be, she never really looked like a model to me, either in print or on the moving camera (certainly not nearly as much as runner-up Nik), nor did she have a particularly good runway walk. Still, I have to admit that she could be pretty hot sometimes. (Also, so not my favorite: notorious lesbian Kim was, who was, in my opinion, possibly the most beautiful girl ever on the show.) Her look is very Covergirl, though, which I'm sure played a large part in her win.

11. Saleisha Stowers - Cycle 9

I must admit that Saleisha would probably rank higher if her win didn't absolutely reek of a setup. Not only has an African-American girl won every third cycle so far, she went to Tyra's camp years before and, although she'd had previous modeling experience that probably should have disqualified her, she was cast (and won!) anyway. Also, while I admit that she does make sense as a winner, she won over two girls (Jenah and Heather) who were far better models, but were, admittedly, not particularly Covergirl-employable.

10. McKey Sullivan - Cycle 11

Although McKey seemed to have an incredibly dull personality (again, one can never really know this, it being TV and all), and was pretty awkward-looking in motion, she really did have a killer face in front of the camera. She wasn't exactly terribly memorable, but she's probably more likely than some of the others to be able to make a real career out of this thing.

9. Teyona Anderson - Cycle 12

Like McKey, Teyona isn't exactly "classically pretty" in motion, but in pictures? Takes my breath away. She most certainly wasn't my favorite of Cycle 12, but she and her alien-like face earned her win.

8. Yoanna House - Cycle 2

Yoanna was never my favorite - I was madly in love with Miss Shandi - but she possibly had the most striking, stunning face out of all the winners, ever. Goddamned breathtaking.

7. Whitney Thompson - Cycle 10

While I don't doubt that Whitney won more for the plus-size tokenism than for her actual modeling ability, she's a good winner nonetheless. She was fun and funny, seemed to actually have a sharp wit, and is definitely one of the sexiest, if not *the* sexiest, of the winners, and her appeal is very Covergirl-appropriate. In terms of commercial success, she has a good shot, since she can win the straight men over with her sexiness and the women with her admittedly killer, but still not scrawny body.

6. Nicole "Bloody Eyeball" Fox - Cycle 13

Ah, good old Bloody Eyeball, winner of the "short" cycle. I love this girl for her stoned-seeming weirdness, the fact that she is a self-proclaimed dork, and that she's goddamn flawless in pictures. I love weird, intense, stoic ginger girls, I gotta say, and I love her bloody eyeball.

5. Danielle Evans - Cycle 6

Danielle is probably the overall audience's all-time favorite, and it's easy to see why: she's gorgeous, she's funny and endlessly quotable ("Shut cho mouth and say it ain't so!"), and she's a people's champ, with her love of her arthritis-suffering mother and her dedication to the competition, dealing with a sprained toe, having painful surgery to get the gap between her teeth closed, and checking out of the hospital early from dehydration and food poisoning to go to her photo shoot. And even though I was pulling for runner-up Joanie, I had to admit I got teary-eyed when she burst out with "I'm a Covergirl, mommy! I'm a Covergirl!"

4. Adrianne Curry - Cycle 1

Adrianne was the perfect winner of ANTM's inaugural season - a little vulgar, a little rough around the edges, and unaware of her own incredible charisma and hotness. Plus, her status as an outspoken anti-ANTM alum who was then blacklisted by Tyra because of it? Makes me love her even more.

3. Eva Pigford - Cycle 3

As hot as Eva and her pictures were, there's really one word and one word only for why she ranks so high: charisma. There's a certain "it" that you have or you don't, and Eva had it. In spades. She rocked her horrible curly blonde haircut and whenever the camera was on her, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Even though she was the shortest girl of the cycle, she filled up a whole room.

2. Jaslene Gonzalez - Cycle 8

God, I love this girl, with her almost indecipherable accent and stunning closeups. I love that she looks like an amalgamation of Janice Dickinson and a drag queen. I love that I've run into her twice while in New York and I love how unexpectedly, unconventionally gorgeous she is. Latina tokenism? Maybe, but the girl is amazing.

1. CariDee English - Cycle 7

Oh, CariDee. How do I love thee?

She's the rare girl on this show who looked just as gorgeous both in motion and on print. Plus she's downright adorable, albeit totally vulgar (which makes me love her even more), and is pretty much the very definition of "bubbly." (Plus she bears a very strong resemblance to a family friend.) Cycle 7 may have been one of the weaker cycles in terms of watchability, but her immense beauty and hilarity made it all worth it.