Sunday, December 30, 2007
I started the routine of holding office hours on the weekends. And, there's a big sci-fi/ comic convention coming up. I blogged about it on WordPress here.
I think the office hours went well and will go better when I can network more and set a firm day, time and location.
As for the convention, I'm going with a press pass and am trying to set up interviews with some of the stars/guests attending. Please go to the convention Web site and look around. If there's anyone you want me to try to get an interview with, let me know. I'm already working on interviews with Nathan Fillion of Firefly and Serenity, Nicholas Brendon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Psycho Beach Party, Greg Grunberg of Heroes, Jeremy London of Mallrats and various other movies and TV shows I've seen and Fat Momma of Who Wants to be a Superhero?.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I went to see Sweeney Todd Christmas night with my friends. It was, by far, the best movie-theater experience I've had in years, and I'm not saying that because I scammed my friend Alex into buying me a cherry coke and stole Josiah's popcorn.
The music made me giddy, and the blood-letting made me light-headed. I loved Helena Bonham Carter's hair and her clothes. I loved the dreary sets, and once again remarked on Tim Burton's obsession with bleached-out blond hair on his damsels in distress.
There were mixed reactions from my group of friends. My friend Alex loved it and wants to see it again. My friend Josiah thought it was sad and moving, and my friend Jason utterly hated it. I'm surprised he didn't leave the theater in the middle of the movie and wait outside for us, chain-smoking through his contempt.
I also don't think Dreamworks and Warner Bros. did a good job of marketing to its intended audience. Not all people are going to like all movies, and the "this is a slasher/horror flick" marketing brought in a lot of people who were unsatisfied with their experience. Out of the 50 or so people who were in the theater with us that night, at least 10-15 walked out within the first 30 minutes. That's not a good thing.
So, if you love musicals and murders (in films) go see Sweeney Todd. If you don't like musicals or aren't willing to try new things, don't bother.
Picture of Sweeney Todd stolen from Thompson on Hollywood. Picture of Depp and Carter from FilmPeek.net.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I'm thinking about randomly giving out knitted goodies, for starters, and in the gold ol' stand by, the local coffee shop/ tea house.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I received my very first blogging award!
Thanks to The Shameless Lions Writing Circle and Catherine Gardner of The Poisoned Apple, I am now an award-winning blogger. (Not that I'd ever gloat about something like that...) And, I'm supposed to pass this thing on to five people, so I pick Howard Troxler, for his powerful way of pondering all sides in his writing, Kevin Walker, for having words powerful enough to hook me at an early age, Joe, for having the power to get his voice out there in trying times, Wade, for having the power to write about his dreams of wrestling and comics without stooping to the lowest possible level, and Keli, for having the power to call others out on their senseless acts.
Monday, December 17, 2007
However, there is one plus about living in Florida that trumps all other. Lording our winter weather over the Yankees. (Let's forget that I'm actually a Yankee for just one moment here...)
Even though I love snow, there is something to be said about the fact my tiny space heater heats my entire tiny apartment.
It's a chilly 46 degrees out there, so I thought I'd put the little baby to work tonight.
And, for those of you who demand multimedia excitement, I even took a video.
Friday, December 14, 2007
You could scour eBay when you get to work and hope you find something nice in an auction ending in the next few seconds.
You could go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and order a couple of books, hoping her tastes are similar to yours.
You could send her an E-Card, even though she sent you almost $50 worth of your favorite chocolates this year.
Or, even better yet, you could send her one of the many Gift Baskets from Delightful Deliveries.
A gourmet gift basket is a great gift to send the message "I love you enough to send you these tiny little sausages and some chocolates; it cost me a bundle."
Plus, Internet Retailer ranked the site No. 1 in the nation for 2008. Here's the press release about the honor:
DelightfulDeliveries.com Recognized as Hot 100 Retail Website
Internet Retailer Ranks Website Among Best in Nation for 2008
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DelightfulDeliveries.com, the premiere Internet Gift Retailer and America’s #1 Gift Basket Website, today announced it has been named one of The Hot 100 Retail Websites for 2008 by leading industry magazine, Internet Retailer. The Hot 100 list represents the best of what retailers are doing online, highlighting innovation and setting the standards in online for what the rest of the industry should be doing.
DelightfulDeliveries.com, a privately-held company, with one of the largest and most unique selections of gourmet gifts, ranked alongside larger sites such as Dell, Nike and Amazon.com, by building its award-winning site on selection, functionality, speed and the complete customer experience. A recent re-design has improved the customer’s shopping experience to make holiday gift-giving easy and enjoyable, including rating and reviews, behavioral recommendations and free shipping offers.
“We are extremely honored to be recognized as a pacesetter in online retailing,” said Eric Lituchy, Founder and CEO of DelightfulDeliveries.com. “We pride ourselves on using the latest technology to make gift-giving fun and easy. Being named among the best in the nation validates we are succeeding in our efforts to deliver the best possible customer experience.”
In addition to making Internet Retailer’s The Hot 100 list for 2008, DelightfulDeliveries.com was recently recognized by Inc. Magazine as part of its Inc. 5000, which highlights the fastest growing private companies.
DelightfulDeliveries.com offers over 2000 unique and delicious gifts from America’s best brands to the finest boutique shops. Consumers can easily shop the site by gift or food category, occasion, type and best-seller. Corporate gift-givers can choose from hundreds of customized gourmet treats.
For additional information, and to see a complete selection of gifts available, visit www.DelightfulDeliveries.com.
About Delightful Deliveries
DelightfulDeliveries.com is an award-winning website that began in 1998 and quickly established itself as one of the premier Internet gift retailers. Its mission is to bring great products to gift-givers, while providing world-class service. The company selects its offerings from a broad variety of fine food gift products for consumers and for corporate gifts, and gathers them in one place to make the selection process quick and simple.
This post was sponsored by Delightful Deliveries.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
This was New Orleans in all its pre-Katrina glory, although there was a hurricane on the horizon while we were there (it was the fall of 2000).
Even though my traveling companion wasn't that great (there are many, many reasons why I left him) The Big Easy became my favorite city, both for fond memories and my own fantasies. Before Katrine, The Advocate was my first choice paper to work at, because I wanted to be close to the city.
I love cities steeped in history. Walking through the picturesque streets and seeing the old brink buildings with wrought iron railings and accents was a perfect way to enjoy the day. Because we were there during the off-season, we got discounts almost everywhere we went.
I loved the altars at Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo and Reverend Zombie's Voodoo Shop. I bought witchy trinkets, a bright green feather boa, and a House of Voodoo poster I eventually traded for a Minnostan's soul.
I had Po' Boy sandwiches and frog legs in dive bars and found a used bookstore off the beaten track, where I bought a collection of Shakespeare for under a dollar.
I have so many fond memories of New Orleans, yet I regret I never got to take a tour. A historical walking tour or ghost tour would have been perfect.
The next time I go, I'm going to consider Trusted Tours & Attractions. There's even a Trusted Travel eNewsletter. If you sign up for the newsletter before Dec. 31, you can enter to win a free iPod Nano.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Word Press will be my professional-type blog with my resume and other such things.
I'm going to start out on this blog with some blog reviews and branch out to book and movie reviews when the chance arises.
I'm also going to play around with what I can do on Word Press, so jaunt over there when you get a chance and let me know what you think about things like the layout and stuff. And, for those of you who have me on their blogroll and don't want to be inundated with reviews ever day, add my other blog instead.
I'm also going to continue to write for 451 Press
and Sticks of Fire.
That is all.
Right now, my mattress sags in the middle, making it impossible for me to get comfortable. It dips all the way down to box spring. I have a foam mattress pad and two blankets on the mattress for added cushioning, but they don't work. They do, however, bunch up in uncomfortable places.
Eventually, I'll probably get enough money together to go to Target and get a feather mattress. I used to sleep on a feather mattress all the time, and the experience was so much better than I'm having now...
Even better than a feather mattress, and something I definitely can't afford, is a Temperpedic mattress.
I've only slept on a Temperpedic once, and it was heaven. Angel Beds offers Temper-pedic type beds for lower prices, so when I have enough money to replace my entire mattress, I might consider buckling down and getting one of their memory foam mattresses. I'm always a bit put off by the memory foam mattress pads they have at department stores, because they seem so thin... A mattress seems like a much better option for me. Until then... An eight inch thick feather bed is in my future.
This post was sponsored by AngelBeds.
1. The sites I've posted about have been more reputable than I thought they'd be.
I expected there to be a lot more payday loan and free ringtone sites on there. But, I've written posts for the Amelia Island Web site, Sweeney Todd, and a new informational site. I can see how, in today's economy, using PPP as an advertiser makes good business sense. Think about it: You're the owner (or even just a marketing guru) of a Web site with a fixed budget. You can either pay thousands of dollars to an advertising firm for a campaign that may not work in today's digital climate or pay $5 a piece to 100 bloggers to advertise for you. I'd pick the bloggers.
2. The fact that I print my true feelings about a site/ product hasn't been counted against me.
Like saying the dating site should include OkCupid or that PPP makes me feel a little weird when I post it on this blog. All of my posts have been approved.
And, I have started my new blog, just for PPP and reviews.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I've mellowed a lot since then. The only dating site I still check every once in a while is OkCupid, and that's to check to see what new quizzes they have for me to take. My favorite are the zombie survival quizzes, I love to see how I'd do in a zombie apocalypse.
I think one of the reasons I was so unfulfilled with all of my profiles was that there was no handy guide to see which ones were made for me. Fortunately, there is now a Web site dedicated to reviewing Dating Sites.
Prime Dating Sites only has a few reviews up so far, but the reviews they have could have helped me in my more desperate days.
I would have known not to bother with E Harmony. I didn't know it was a site geared towards "heterosexual singles who have marriage on the mind;" I was rejected by their matching system right off the bat.
I would have also found out about Chemistry.com, which uses scientific guidelines to connect the lovelorn together.
While the Yahoo! and Match.com reviews are accurate, they are probably the least helpful for what I was looking for.
Because, what I was really looking for was OkCupid, and I found it long after I started dating someone. As a quiz-farm, OkCupid is great. As a dating service, it's also great, because it has an IM function, a bunch of questions you can answer to match your compatibility with other people, loads of quizzes to compare others' answers to yours, blog functions, and a host of users I was interested in. While I was using the other dating sites, I never met a single person off of them, because I just couldn't find anyone I actually wanted to meet in real life.
I'm really glad Prime Dating Sites is cataloging these personals sites for Joe Normal who wants to find a date on teh interweb. However, I think OkCupid is a good place to start when they write up their next review.
This post was sponsored by Prime Dating Sites.
I've been reading (do not click the link if you don't want to see the horrible things people are capable of) The Rape of Nanking for the past few weeks, because I read a book about Iris Chang. I've read similar books about similar atrocities; I feel I should be a witness to the tragedies forgotten by history. We like to forget about things like genocide, and we do unless the victims fight to be remembered.
Through reading Chang's book and following some current news stories, I've realized that in every case of one human or many abusing another human or many the abuser/s have used tricks of the mind to turn their victim/s into something less than human. So, one of the reasons the Japanese could do things like hold Chinese beheading contests and rape so many women is that they didn't think of the Chinese as other humans. They thought of them as animals. The same thing happened to the Jews around the same time, during WWII. And on, and on, and on.
So, imaging my surprise/ shock/ disgust when I read about a 10-year-old rape victim in Australia. According to the (Australian) judge trying the case, the girl (an aborigine) "probably agreed" to have sex with the nine men who gang-raped her.
She then proceeded to give them lenient sentences and told them they shouldn't have sex with underage girls any more.
So, the rapists and the judge both managed to dehumanize a young girl described as having mild intellectual impairment.
The system that was supposed to protect her failed her.
I've been to Amelia Island once or twice, but it was when I was a kid, and I've been meaning to get back for ages. I might go soon, because now and through the end of February, the hotels and inns on the island are offering a Lodging Special.
For a reservation for two nights, you can get a third free.
I've never spent the night at Amelia, so I think this would be a fun getaway for me. I've been to their nature parks, and family members have brought in pretty impressive fish and oyster hauls.
While I do love the nature, and they offer eco tours, I think, for my dream stay, I'd do things quite differently.
Fernandina Beach looks like my kind of place. A small town lost in time.
The Ash Street Inn looks like it would be my hotel of choice for my dream getaway. They have a spa. They have cozy porch breakfasts. They even have wireless internet access.
I would probably go horseback riding on the beach during my stay; I can't even remember the one or two times I went riding when I was younger. I'd definitely check out the walking tour of the island and try to catch a river cruise that goes to St. Mary's Georgia.
I would eat at the sushi bar, because I'm weird like that and never pass up the chance for sushi. I'd also check out Cafe Karibo's gumbo.
At night, I'd settle in, turn on the television, and snuggle in my lush bed and breakfast bed. In the morning, I'd eat cut fruit on the porch right before a relaxing massage.
After earning a degree in a dying career field, I could use a vacation.
And, even though I often marvel at my own beautiful body, every once in a while I wonder if I wasn't supposed to be a gay male. I've even been told by gay friends that the only thing I'm missing is a small but very necessary appendage.
So, really, what can I do? While I can change my appearance, I'm never going to make it as a gay man. It's biologically impossible, and I'm not willing to give up my girl card.
I vicariously live the life of a gay man through his books.
Burroughs is the best-selling author of Running with Scissors (a movie was based on it), Sellevision, Dry, Magical Thinking, and Possible Side Effects. I just finished Possible Side Effects today. Just like his other memoirs, I felt giddy the entire time I was reading it.
Okay, I don't really care about his crazy mother. Or, his brother and father. Or, even his grandmothers. I read his books, because he is (to me) a literary genius who manages to put all of his faults down on the page. I can relate to just about everything he says. I've lived in squalor. I have an addictive personality, even though I tend to eat instead of drink or spend hundreds of dollars on Nicorette gum.
Burroughs can be shallow, selfish, and judgmental, just like me. And, he writes about it all without apologies.
Someday, I'd like to have either enough strength or enough self-absorption to put myself out there like he does.
Monday, December 10, 2007
So far, writing for Pay Per Post has been pretty easy. And, yesterday I found two writing gigs I wanted to write for; two gigs I would have written on my own, eventually. They were the Sweeney Todd post and the camera post.
I think I might start a new blog and transfer my PPPing to that blog. It will be a review blog for blogs, the internet, and general life things. It's just a little weird writing about serious feminist/ world issues in one post and promoting something in another. Which is itself weird, since I would have eventually written each of the PPP posts.
I think my biggest bit of weirdness is from their link system. Instead of using my own words, I have to copy and paste their links directly. So, the Pay Per Post link has to say make money. However, since this is advertising blogging, I can see why they would do something like that; they want their links to be eye catching.
And, really, I am already making money with the PPP system. More than I'm making with the 451 Press system, even though I've been writing for 451 for two months now. I'm making more in two days with PPP than I've made in two months with 451. There's definitely an upside to that.
The PPP system also gives me more freedom. I make a blog on whatever category i want, then I categorize it in the system and submit it for review. The review takes a while, but I didn't have any problems with it. 451 gave me the blog they wanted me to use, which was awkward to begin with, because I was taking over someone else's work and turning it into my own.
I also like that PPP has a variety of opportunities on their site, and the opportunities seem to be updated frequently. I had no trouble finding the Sweeney Todd or camera opps on my first glance at their bulletin boards. They were straightforward with what they wanted, and I didn't feel any moral twinges at accepting the jobs they offered.
Unfortunately, I don't have much to say about the pay system yet. I don't get paid for 29-30 days. Then, the money should be wired to my PayPal account. It seems simple enough, and the system counts down the days for me and alerts me if it has any problems. Soon, theoretically I will have a steady cash flow coming in. It gives me at least a partial sense of security; I now have what amounts to a steady job that will give me extra spending money while I'm in school. That's good; I get into way too many tight spots they way I'm running my finances now.
If I get enough money from this thing, I'm going to buy this. I'll get a pretty good discount if I buy it at the school computer store before I graduate. My laptop PC is falling apart.
Noise Complaint - Bid D and the Kids Table
Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
Shark Attack - Math the Band
Eyes Without a Face - Billy Idol
What We Do on Christmas - Atom and His Package
Screaming Infidelities - Dashboard Confessional
Under Pressure - Bowie and Queen
Staying Alive - Ozzy Osbourne
99 Luftballoons - Nena
Yesterday, my writing schedule worked well for both of my blogs and my novel. I'm well on my way to finishing up my novel either in this draft or the next one. I switched over my playlist again to change it up. I also managed to finish up my online class last night, so I only have one project I have to worry about for another class. I'm unsure of whether I like integrating PPP posts into my blog, but both of the posts I have so far are posts I was going to write anyways, so we'll see what happens. Plus, a lot of the writing opportunities on the site are closed off to Blogspot writers, so it might not be a problem. My next post is going to be about the PPP experience so far.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Once upon a time, I realized that as a journalist, I was going to need a good digital camera to take pictures with. My ex's camera (which I took) was getting shaky from being dropped five or six too many times. So, I went on a search for a camera with a 3x digital zoom, which I heard was a good thing.
I had the camera guy at Best Buy explain camera jargon to me and make his recommendations. I ended up buying a Nikon Coolpix, sure that within a few months my technical ineptitude would destroy it in one way or another.
I was pleasantly surprised.
I can take video with it. I can take pictures with it. The resulting pictures are hi-res enough for me to have published in Web sites, newspapers, and magazines. I've taken pictures of my friends, family, artists, artwork, my cats, and yarn.
Even better yet, I've managed to drop my camera, submerge it in both water and some sort of cleaning fluid, and lose it for days in my hot car, only to have it work once I've shaken it off/ dried it out/ cooled it down.
I think I've recommended it to just about everyone looking for a basic, point-and-shoot digicam, especially if they're not technically minded, like me.
The only beef I have with my camera is the shakiness of the "no flash" setting. With my old camera, I used to take pictures all the time without the flash on; I could eventually steady myself for a clear shot. Even one of my best friends, who is an amateur photographer, can't get a clear shot from the Nikon without the flash. But, I'm working on it.
Here's my favorite picture I've taken with my Nikon so far:
It's an unpublished photo I took for a print package about people whose lives have changed because of urban hip-hop. The graffiti is on display at Crossover Community Church in Tampa, FL.
I also, as I've stated, am very technologically unfriendly in many ways, so it's great having a camera that's (so far, knock on wood) virtually indestructible, even if I do eventually have to get a tripod to take artsy-farts pictures without my flash.
Here's a site that sells a bunch of Nikon cameras and other digital models, as well as a bunch of other stuff.
This post is sponsored by Ritzcamera.com.
And, Lira Cruz, from Watching The Office, brings up a good point about one of my favorite blogs, Schrute-Space. The last post is dated Nov. 22, after the writer's strike began. If a striking NBC writer wrote the post after the strike, then they have a lot of explaining to do.
However, since I'm now pretty familiar with co-opt type blogs, where different people write posts under the same heading, and more familiar with corporate blogging, chances are a writer wrote the blog post long before the writer's strike, specifically for the holiday. There's also a chance that the writers who make the online content for NBC aren't TV writers, instead they might be employed just to provide online content. It would be interesting to find out who provides the online voice of Dwight Schrute and when they wrote the Thanksgiving post.
What could be better than a Tim Burton movie with Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman? Especially when Johnny Depp takes up the role as the "demon barber of Fleet Street?"
It's interesting, because my entertainment life has been filled with revenge flicks/ serial killer movies lately. The most interesting was Keeping Mum, a British comedy staring Rowan Atkinson and Dame Maggie Smith.
The movie begins with Smith's character as a young woman traveling by train. Her trunk is discovered with blood seeping out all around it; it is soon clear the young woman has committed the ultimate act of revenge: her husband was cheating on her, and she simply couldn't stand for that sort of thing. So, she killed him.
Fast forward to the present day, where Maggie Smith's portrayal of the polite, gentle housekeeper Grace slowly builds up a body count as she struggles to protect her new charges from both the outside world and themselves. The most interesting statement made by the film is that Grace sees murder and revenge as a necessity in an evil world, where she stands as sentinel against outside forces. Does the neighbor's dog keep the family up at all hours of the night? Well, then it has to go. Has the nosy woman down the street caught on? Off she goes.
The most powerful scene comes when the family's mother's lover is found spying on the daughter with a video camera. Played by Patrick Swayze, the man is downright creepy as he breathes hard and gives the unsuspecting teenager directives as he watches her through her bedroom window. It's impossible to feel remorse as Grace adds him to her body count. The service she provides is almost acceptable as she resumes her grandmotherly housekeeper role inside her household, although for much of the movie viewers are made to wonder if she'll turn against her employers.
Sweeney Todd has a similar need to protect his family, and some parts of the two movies' plots parallel each other. Without spoiling too much from either movie, here's a brief synopsis of Sweeney Todd and why it's awesome:
Johnny Depp's character, Todd, lives above a pie shop, where the owner is having a difficult time finding meat for her pies. To protect his daughter, get revenge for his wife's death, and provide for his new landlady/ piemaker, he starts building his own body count with his trusty straight razor. Out of all of the Broadway musicals out there, this is the first I've seen with a high body count and a wicked sense of humor. It's like The Phantom of the Opera, if the phantom was a homicidal maniac instead of a brooding outsider.
Sweeney Todd is a musical, which may turn some viewers off. But, it's also a demented revenge musical filled with gore, so it may make a splash in the box office. I know I'm going to see it.
For updates, trailers, and more visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site.
For an added bit of obsession, visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Okay, I admit that's a pretty bad pun/ Serenity reference to start out a post about Missbehave.
I fell in love with this magazine a few months back when I noticed it at a local Barnes and Noble. Lo and behold, I saw it at my campus bookstore a few days ago and picked up the newest copy. I also plan on mailing in my subscription form in the next couple of days.
This magazine is the perfect brain candy for me, because it combines real women and bright, hot fashion. It's the new Paper with a more girly feel. (Not that I'll ever be able to truly give up my Paper addiction.)
Not only was this issue filled with enough club trends to keep me going for at least the next few weeks, but there was also an entire feature dedicated to my new obsession: ball-jointed dolls. I didn't know I was in desperate need of a $1,000 doll before reading that article. For cheaper dolls, check out this site. Even better yet, one girl's site dedicated to her dollies.
Yes, Missbehave is a glossy fashion magazine, and no, I do not usually read glossy fashion magazines dedicated to the newest advances in fake fingernails and hoodies. But, as far as glossies go, Missbehave is light years ahead of the times. They even have real-looking women (i.e. not suffering from eating disorders) all over their pages. So, because I love torturing my readers today (see above salivations over uber-expensive dolls), here's a breakdown.
Inside cover: Yay, a picture of a beautiful young girl in a loose-fitting tee and bulky skirt. I.e. something normal girls wear.
P. 33: Picture of a real subscriber! Yes, people who read the magazine actually get to be in it.
P. 49: Okay, with the clothes the girl is wearing, I can't really tell how much she weighs, but it's yet another picture of a young woman who isn't being exploited for being rail-thin.
P. 63: A beautifully done picture of a young woman and her dollie. The woman has short, curly red hair, glasses, and is definitely nowhere near a size 2. It's refreshing.
P. 64: A cute couple poses with their ornately bedecked dollies; the girl's dress matches her dollie and both real people look deliciously indie.
P. 66: Even better yet, a picture of a woman over a size 16. Are magazines even allowed to do that? Granted it's not an ad or photo spread, but I don't see many large-and-lovely folks in other fashion mags unless they make millions of dollars a year and are supposed to "inspire" the rest of us dregs.
P. 84: To me, it looks like the models in the shoot are a loving lesbian couple, one has piercings and wild hair. Fabulous!
P. 94: A two page spread of real women found clubbing. (No celebrities in sight, unless you count the fact that most of the women profiled are indie DJs, fashion designers, and musical artists.)
Like I said before, I find all of this very refreshing. When I find magazines and media outlets that show women as I see or want to see them, I support them with my money. No more emaciated figures and pop-star wannabes for me.
I just wish they'd add a bit more content. DIY apartment decorating, simple recipes for the glam and lazy, and fashion tips for bigger girls would all be much-appreciated.
I'm poised to start working on the second draft of my first novel. I've got pens, notebooks, and my huge novel file at the ready. (In fact, this is me procrastinating against working on it.)
Because it's so overdone, I've decided to write a "what I'm listening to" post. So here's a sampling of my super-duper writing mix of doom I'm listening to as I type this.
Hair - The Cowsills
Even Hamsters Fall in Love - Hampton the Hamster
Don't Stand So Close to Me - The Police
Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie
Stay - Blutengel
Indian Summer - Zero 1
This is Halloween - Danny Elfman
That's not everything on there, but I thought writer's mix v. 1 merited a write-up.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Now, onto the serious (?) stuff.
I love MAC.
I love drag queens, therefore I love MAC.
It's all very logical.
Even my friend Brady wears MAC, which proves my point that every drag queen in the world wears MAC products. (If this isn't true, dish on the makeup brands, please! I need to know, I somehow managed to weasel my way into a local drag show. And, I'm not sure if Jeffree Star counts as a drag queen, but I'm using his image. He's too pretty not to.)
Even though I love the makeup, the creative team at MAC always manages to come out with an ad, a line, or a look that really bothers me. This year, the award has to go to their Of Beauty collection; the picture I see every time I go to the Of Beauty page looks like the dismembered head of a burn victim, displayed proudly in layers of shattered glass.
Weird fashion spreads of police scenes, hangings, and all sorts of violent acts against women (think serial killer spreads) have been pretty big in the world of high fashion for a while. Why is this so? This picture looks even worse in my blog than it did on the MAC site, because at first glance you can't say, "Awwww, that's just the kind of thing the artsy-fartsy artists at MAC would do." When did dismembered, charred heads become sexy?
Monday, December 3, 2007
A story you say? Well, did you know they made a movie about me? It’s all very interesting.
Well, I guess you could say I made a movie about me. I was the muse, the source of funding, the casting director; I took a production going downhill fast and brought it into the light, so to say.
It was ahead of its time. It didn’t do well at all when it first came out, but you can still buy it today, on DVD. In fact, I have quite a few copies lying around, if you’d ever like to see it. Some would say it’s a bit of narcissism on my part, but who wouldn’t want to see their own life story memorialized for all time on a bit of shiny plastic?
I even lobbied for my charges to have parts in the production. That definitely was ahead of its time. Back then, freaks were kept in the shadows, sequestered in tents for those willing to shell out a few cents to peek behind the curtains. A whole movie about them was seen as the height of distaste. Instead of hiding them away, I thrust them into the national spotlight, only to have the ignored, or even worse, thought as hideous creatures to revile. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Where to begin, where to begin?
I was born to a life in the circus. I was a beautiful young girl, coddled by my parents and loved by all of the performers who made their trade under the bigtop. I grew up amongst seals, elephants, clowns, and of course, the freaks who were popular in sideshows at the time. They had their own tent with a barker who charged for each attraction.
From a young age, I had tutors in song, dance, literature, languages, and gymnastics. It was understood I would one day become a part of my parent’s high-wire and trapeze show. Alas, they died when I was quite young. It was up to their circus family to take over their jobs in my life.
At the age of 15, I became the star attraction of Rosenthald and Regent’s Circus of Wonder. I could hear the gasps of my adoring audience as I tiptoed above their heads on a wire or flipped through the air off my trapeze. Their awe-filled faces became a blur as I executed precise tricks in the air.
Soon, my face was plastered over all circus promotions. I like to believe they came to see my well-publicized beauty as well as my daring acts. I have to admit, I carried a healthy ego around in addition to my talent and skill.
Unfortunately, the events that led up to my present condition were caused by my own pride and foolishness. Back then, I saw the other performers and workers in the circus as inferior to me, especially those in the freakshow. I thought up elaborate schemes to make them seem ever more pathetic than I thought they were. I befriended them, only to betray and make jokes of them. The most heinous act I committed was to steal a tiny man away from his family.
I made it clear I wanted to start a romance with the man. He plied me with gifts and eventually moved in with me. I had many lovers on the side. When I was assured the man was devoted to me in every way, I cast him aside in a public display. It demeaned him; he ran out of the tent weeping. The other freaks turned on me that night, but they set out for vengeance two days later, when the man was found hanging from my lowered trapeze.
At gunpoint, I was led to his body and restrained as they slashed at my face and body with any sharp instruments they could find: cutlery, switchblades, razors, it’s had to know what all cut into my trembling flesh. They planned to make a more elaborate job of it and accept me into their fold, as an entirely different kind of attraction.
Before they had the chance to do any debilitation damage, a roar sounded from somewhere close by. I could see a hulking, bestial monster throw the freaks to the side through my own blood and tears. With a growl, he demanded they end their defacements and bandage and nurse me. I remember it clearly as he told them if I hadn’t learned my lesson, I would every time I looked in the mirror. That said, he disappeared.
The next few weeks are a blur to me. While they had good intentions, the freaks weren’t doctors, and they weren’t likely to call one for me, a traitor and fiend. My body battled infection and was overtaken by fever. The freaks wondered what to do with me when it became clear I would never recover. Fortunately, the monster from the night of my attack was watching and waiting. As my life ebbed, he made a deal with the freaks and carried me away to a small island off the coast of
He carried me to a small farmhouse, where his noble, cat-like visage changed into a shrunken, smushed in wreck. I was placed on a soft, relatively clean bed as he readied the room. He surrounded me with mirrors and gathered a bucket of water, some towels, and more blankets. From time to time, what I took to be his servants came in and out of the room and followed his orders.
Once everything was in place, he unwrapped my bandages. The undersides were covered in dried blood and pus; many times bits of scabs and flesh came off with the fabric. He was surprisingly gentle, even though his hands were gnarled and his fingers resembled claws. I was too far gone to register horror at his appearance, I only appreciated his ministrations.
I blearily remember glancing at my own reflection, but even this didn’t bother me.
I didn’t notice what he was doing until drops of foul-tasting liquid began to slide down my throat. That’s when the real pain started.
I soon realized the pain-filled howls were mine. My new caretaker held me and whispered to me as he wiped at my brow with warm, wet towels. Even though my mind was filled with agony, I couldn’t help but watch the fascinating sight of my wounds opening as my skin was pulled taut across my body. Soon, the wounds were dripping with a black, oozing sludge. My flesh seemed to wither, and a foul odor began to seep out from my skin.
After a few days of my transformation, my skin was taking on a distinctive gray cast, not unlike that of my new master. Where my wounds gaped open was now a tough layer of what looked like black, shiny leather. My lips stretched taut against my face, and my eyes seemed caved in and yellow. The majority of my nose was hanging to the side from a long, threadlike connection of skin; I decided to pull it off soon after. It wasn’t doing me any good.
This entire time, Master was sitting by me, feeding me blood from the strange creatures at his beck and call. His voice was quiet as he explained why he chose me. Why I was given the curse I now see as freedom. I have been given the chance to redeem myself for my former nastiness; that a man lost his life because of my evil intentions means I may spend the rest of eternity atoning.
Because of the size of the village we were in, he said it was impossible for me to stay. However, they would always welcome me in times of need. He helped me to learn the skill of 1,000 faces, so I would always be able to fit in with mortal and kindred society. He taught me some other things, then sent me on my way to rejoin the circus.
I took up my old role as aerial acrobat and took on the new role of protecting the freaks under my care, both from the normal performers and from the outside world. I also did double duty every once in a while, dropping my disguise in towns where the marks wanted to see some extra frights or taking on a new, lesser deformed persona. By day, I learned to hide myself from prying eyes while asleep, which was a must when we were on the road and were subject to inspections and investigations by the local police.
Now we come to the best part, my movie!
Because I felt so terrible about what happened to the midget who fell in love with me and wanted to make things better, at least for his family, after a few years I managed to get in touch with a film-maker who was all the rage in the kindred world. He directed a rendition of Dracula; I hired him to film a version of my own life story. I’d previously published a short story rendition of the events in a magazine, and I made sure he got a copy. I promised to help fund the film, if he would cast my freak-friends in starring roles and give me a hefty chunk of the earnings. My friends were thrilled to be off the road for a bit. They were also excited at the prospect of making a mainstream film that presented them as they saw themselves- as real people capable of love, greed, revenge, and the like. A few facts from my story were changed, and my own transformation was much different in the movie. But, everyone knew it was about me.
When they saw themselves on the screen, it was a delight to see the light in their faces. Even I took on a small role, in disguise. Unfortunately, the viewing public wasn’t excited about our endeavor. It was soon clear our endeavor was a flop. We went back on the road, and I tried to find more ways to support and nurture the family I’d destroyed through my old errant ways.
These days, all of my old friends are either dead or moved on. I know a couple are back with Master, in that old, forgotten town filled with generations changed by the blood he gives them. Before the last of the old ones died off, I followed them around the country until they moved to Gib-town; my family retired in
But, he’s growing up. Soon, I won’t have to take care of him any more. While he might have children of his own, and I’ll always be there if he needs me, I think it’s time to make a place of my own. As one person, I can help a limited number of people. When I was out with the troupe, I took care of 20 to 30 at the most. With the backing of the Nosferatu and the Camarilla, I know I can help a greater number realize their full potential and give them safe places to live.
Master leaves his village less and less. Only a few islanders dare leave for the mainland; even they are too alien to venture across the waters. Even with babies born all the time, there is no place for me there. Too small of a blood pool. So, for the first time in my life, I’m venturing out on my own. I know it will be extraordinary.
I wrote this as a back story for my new Vampire: The Masquerade character, Tikvah. It's for an OWBN LARP; writing back stories is my favorite part of the character creation process. Picture is from Orianna Studios.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I was watching The Santa Clause on TBS a few minutes ago. It always tickles me a bit that Jewish dreamboat David Krumholtz plays Bernard the Christmas elf in the series.
It begs this question: Do dreamboat Jewish Christmas elves celebrate Channukah?
I finally finished watching the movie Freaks after owning it for almost a month. I bought the film because of my love for Daisy and Violet Hilton, the original Hilton sisters.
The sisters were Siamese twins, and are contenders for being the most famous performers of their time. It's too bad no one remembers them. They had it all: they could sing, dance, act- the only thing holding them back was the tiny bit of flesh and cartilage holding them together.
Freaks was one of many undertakings that were supposed to revitalize their careers, which were suffering from America's sudden aversion from the freakshows that dotted the landscape only a few years before. In 1932, the viewing public wasn't ready for Freaks, which treated freakshow attractions like the real people they were. They especially weren't ready for the romantic scene where Violet gives her fiance a kiss and Daisy sets her book down and enjoys the tingles.
Freaks suffers from the same problems most movies from the 30s share. The editing is choppy and the acting overdone. However, the movie is filled with show-stealers.
The most notable scene stealer for me is Daisy Earles. A member of "The Doll Family," she was paired with her brother Harry as Frieda and Hans, an engaged couple. While by today's standards it is a little ooky to watch a brother and sister play lovers on the screen, I believe it gave Daisy a source of emotion for her scenes. Her nemesis in the film, the beautiful trapeze artist Cleopatra, steals Hans away from Frieda, because he has money to burn.
It soon becomes clear Frieda loves Hans while Cleopatra does not. Cleo keeps a lover on the side and makes fun of the other freaks whenever possible. Frieda's heart is torn asunder as she watches her true love fall head over heels for Cleo. The worst (or best) scene in the movie is during Cleo and Hans' wedding feast, where Frieda is one of the guests. She watches the festivities and Cleo's drunken, obnoxious behavior with tears brimming in her eyes; she knows Cleo's going to make a fool of Hans.
Watching Daisy on the screen, I was struck by how beautiful she was. She was also one of the better actors in the film. As the lovelorn Frieda, she was both elegant and regal. Inside of the film, she transitioned between a performer ready to go onstage to a woman in love to simply a woman trying to find her way through the minefields of a rocky romance with ease.
More scene stealers were the trio of pinheads, twins Zip and Pip and the unrelated Schlitze. They come off as gentle and childlike in the film; they kid around with the circus clown Phrosa, who treats everyone in the circus like an equal member of the troupe. They even come off as flirtatious as Phrosa promises to buy them new hats and tells them they're wearing beautiful dresses; he manages Schlitze's jealousy with ease and becomes a happy-go-lucky hero as most of the other "big normals" come off as callous at best and murderous and conniving at their worst.
The Missing Link provides small tidbits on the Freaks cast, where it is reported that Schlitze was really a man, even though he's referred to as "she" in the movie and was given the name Maggie in some of his shows. Unfortunately, he was institutionalized after his owner and manager (yes, owner) died and almost died himself, of loneliness. There is also an even better account of the life of Schlitze at the horrifyingly bright site There's Something about Schlitze.
Johnny Eck played Half Boy. A handsome man, Johnny didn't have a large part in Freaks. However, there is something special about him in the scenes he is in. He's perfect with his timing. When the other freaks discover the plot Cleo has hatched against their friend Hans, they retaliate. Even though Half Boy cowers in fear from men in the beginning of the movie, he helps the other exact their revenge against Cleopatra and her lover, Hercules.
Even more startling to the eyes was Prince Randian, who was billed as the Human Worm. Randian also has few scenes, and more than any of the other characters, seems to have been placed in the movie solely for his physical appearance.
For me, the saddest thing about the movie Freaks isn't in the movie at all. It's what happened to the actors after the film ended shooting. Tod Browning brought together a wonderful group of immensely talented performers, and many of them died in obscurity or worse, simply because they were different than normal society. Reading about their lives in the modern world is reading about horror after horror, from Schlitze's institutionalization to Johnny Eck's shunning of society after burglars broke into his house and sat on him to keep him from defending his property. In The Missing Link, Johnny is quoted as saying "If I want to see freaks, all I have to do is look out the window."
While some of the freaks (and, I use the term loosely and with a sense of irony) were mentally disabled in some ways, many of them were intellectuals and philosophers. Prince Randian was a Hindu who supported his wife and children. Johnny Eck excelled at school, and Angelo Rossitto (another little person cast in the show) was going to study law before he got into show business.
While the world's obsession with exploiting freaks benefited some, like Daisy and Violet who received a top-notch education because of their money making abilities, it held many others back.
At times, I wish I could have lived in the freakshow heyday and been some sort of advocate or at least a friend to these long-forgotten performers. Watching movies like Freaks makes me pine for those days. However, watching the film also gives me a grim sense of righteousness as the normals finally get their due.
The ending is bitter for Cleo and Hercules (who is killed) and sweet for Frieda and Hans. While Cleo lives out the rest of her days as a chicken woman in the freakshow, Frieda meets Hans at his new palatial estate, where everything is forgiven and the couple can live happily ever after. Unfortunately, too many side stories that were central parts of the movie were left with loose ends, the final minutes are unsatisfying to those who want to know what happened to the many other romances of the film.