Life Lessons From an Only Child

Being an only child has taught me a lot of things throughout my life, mostly that there a lot of assumptions people make if they know you’re an only child. But I’m here to break the stereotypes and tell you the truth about being the only kid in the family. I would like to reiterate that I’m not speaking on behalf of the Only Children of America coalition (not a real thing), but I’d say this is pretty accurate.

1) We’re very independent

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves. Or brothers, whatever. In sixth grade, I had dance lessons that started at 4pm, which was before my parents got out of work. So on the days I had dance, I would take the bus home, be by myself for about an hour or so, then my friend’s mom would pick me up and we’d go to class. I mean I was 11 years old, but at the same time, there was no one else around to make sure I wasn’t like, lighting anything on fire. But I was given the responsibility of having keys to the house, knowing how to turn off the alarm system, make food if need be. If something went wrong, I had to figure it out and fix it myself. If anything, this is what has stuck with me the most. I’ve never really relied on anyone to do anything for me, because I know I can (usually) do it myself.

2) We’re okay with being alone

Ok, that sentence isn’t supposed to be read with the same kind of depression you read it with. But along the same notion of being independent, so does time in solitary (again, not meant to be weird and prison-y). After my parents trusted me with being at home by myself, it wasn’t necessary for them to have anyone look after me. So if they went out, I was by myself in the house. I would like to add that I didn’t really have friends or family members that lived nearby, so again, I was just used to being alone. Without a sibling, I was used to doing stuff by myself, which is still true to this day, mainly because it’s all I know. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I hate being around people. I mean for the most part that’s true because I hate people (my years working retail is to thank for that complex). But I mean only children usually tend to gravitate towards extended family or in my case, my friends, to hang out with all the time. So just as much as we like being alone, we like being around people. But we also need our personal space at the same time. Yeah, we’re crazy.

3) We can do weird shit

My friend Caitlin and I call this the ‘Only Child Syndrome’, because we end up doing random weird things that we don’t realize we’re A) doing in the first place or B) is even weird at all. I don’t even really know how to explain this besides doing like odd little movements or noises or giving strange looks… No one was around to call us out on being weird, so that explains why we’re still weird now. I also tend to talk to myself a lot – like out loud. I assume kids with siblings would usually have a brother or sister to at least be around when you’re saying something, and it’s not as weird as talking outloud and knowing no one ever hears you.

4) We don’t actually like being only children

Okay, I may be speaking for myself here, but I honestly don’t really like being an only child. Like I said, I didn’t have any family members – cousins, etc. living near me growing up. They were/are all in the Philippines, and some here in LA. But what’s weird is that my dad is one of 9 kids. I have a bunch of cousins and second cousins, some of whom I don’t even know. But they all grew up together and I was the American kid. When we go back to the Philippines, I always feel like the odd man out, not only because of the language barrier and cultural differences, but because they all have the advantage of hanging out with each other, while I had my parents and me, myself and I. I’m just saying it would have been much easier to have a sibling when going back to the Phil. Also, I could never blame anything I did wrong on a sibling, or bitch about my parents to someone who would really understand.

5) We’re not all spoiled

So this is obviously the most common only child stereotype. All my friends who are only children are not spoiled by any means. Well, in the sense that they don’t want everything in the world and expect their parents to buy it for them. Many people believe that we’re naturally born brats who expect to be doted on all the time, but that’s far from the case. In fact I know some people like that who do have siblings, and it’s embarrassing. But like, I’ve never expected my parents to get me everything I’ve ever wanted. I will say that they have done the thing where if I’ll mention my DVD player is broken, they’ll call me back 2 days later and say we found a blu-ray player, and bought it for you, you can pick it up at Best Buy sort of thing (that’s a true story). We don’t act spoiled, but once in a while, we’ll get spoiled.

Girls, Gals, Broads & Dames: What’s A Lady To Call Herself?

As I’ve hit my … ahem… mid-20s, it’s gotten harder and harder to know what I call myself. Guys have it so easy, and the reason is in this sentence. Guys. It’s totally ageless! A guy could be 15 or 105. I could talk about an “old guy” and you’d picture a senior citizen. If I talked about an “old girl,” you’d just be confused. What does that mean – like, upper elementary school? An octogenarian who wears gingham a la Baby Jane? Oh, no, it’s not one of those creepy adult baby things, is it?

College was easy enough. I was a girl, no question. But now that I’m a real, serious lawyer/editor person for eight hours a day, that sounds ridiculous. Nobody wants a “girl” editing their jury instructions, you know? But that’s also the only option that matches up with how I feel. Traci hit on this in the first sentence of Is this For A Tween Or Just Fashion Forward, so I think this might be normal at this life stage.  Like most dilemmas, I think this might be solved with a simple pro/con list. So, keep reading, lady! Or girl. Definitely not ma’am though, am I right?

GIRL

Pro:

  • Informal/casual. Good for tongue-in-cheek use, for instance a drawn out “girllll” before admonishing someone, or a peppy “hey girl heeyyy” upon seing a friend.
  • Not insulting to most people in their 20s/30s (if you refer to the “girl at the cash register,” she won’t go home and start looking for fine lines).
  • Youthful
  • Lena Dunham

Con:

  • Inaccurate. I know I should be going off of the legal perspective – adult at 18 – but I don’t mean that. I mean that by your mid-20s, your prefrontal cortex has devloped and myelination has chilled out (not for guys til they’re like 30. That’s why they’re like that, and why you probably made dumber choices in your early 20s than now.).  You won’t even be adding bone mass for much longer. Sorry, girl, you’re an adult now, even if your bank statements don’t reflect that.
  • Kind of calls attention to the fact that I’m NOT a girl. I liken this to this 60-something lady on my bus who clearly dresses in head-to-toe Delia’s (or whatever the 2013 equivalent is. I’m old). It makes me notice her age when I wouldn’t otherwise. Am I a “26-year-old girl?” Only if I have some weird aging disorder that would land me a TLC special. In college someone used the phrase “college children” in a group project and it sounded completely off. That’s what “girl in her late 20s” sounds like to me.
  • Frankly inappropriate in a business context. I don’t need a prominent judge or legal scholar to refer to me as a “girl.”  It’s hard enough to be young-looking without being in the same category as my colleagues’ granddaughters.

WOMAN

Pro:

  • Accurate
  • Fairly value-neutral
  • Sort of funny in contexts where you aren’t womanly: e.g.: “I am a 26-year-old woman who just bought workout clothes in the Target children’s department; okay or not okay?”

Con:

  • I don’t know, like… Hillary Clinton’s a woman. Oprah, definitely. Maybe even Adele, right? Tami Taylor, Caitlin Moran. Woman implies a degree of having your shit together, especially about lady-stuff, that honestly I just don’t have yet.

LADY

Pro:

  • Sounds somewhat dignified. Implies that you’re fairly classy and put-together. For instance, I hadn’t seen a friend in a while and he looked me over and said “ohhh. You’re a LADY!” and I took it as a compliment. In a related note, if anyone knows like ONE straight male, hook a lady up because clearly I’m not friends with any.
  • Doesn’t make me feel weird.
  • Kind of funny when you’re talking about yourself in a non-ladylike context.
  • Like “girl,” really lends itself to colloquial use and makes an easy generic nickname: “hey lady, your blog is really awesome!” eg.
  • Not that this matters to all of y’all, but this is the one I use the most.

Con:

  • Some people really don’t like the stuffy connotations, especially folks who grew up being told to “act like a lady.” True story, in kindergarten this boy named Jamie kept tickling me. I’m CRAZY ticklish and also hate it, so I kept shrinking down in my seat to get away from him. And every time the lunch monitor came around, she told me to “sit like a lady.” Even at five I knew that I was like 20 years and two feet away from being a lady, so how could I sit like one?
  • Not great when used as a replacement for a  name, except with friends as discussed above. You can get your waitress’s attention by calling out “hey, lady!”, sure. But wait and see how much saliva ends up in your soup. I bet lots.
  • Jerry Lewis.

FEMALE

Pro:

  • Technically correct

Con:

  • You will sound like Murray from Clueless.
  • Sounds vaguely disrespectful and I’m not sure why.
  • Actually, kind of sounds like how you’d talk about a cat or something.
  • Nobody calls men “males” while being serious, so this is a really obvious attempt to avoid saying “girl,” “lady,” or “woman.” I’m onto you.
  • Oddly clinical.
  • Maybe just don’t use it.

BROAD

Pro:

  • Hilarious.
  • Makes you slip into a 1930s accent even if you’re trying not to.
  • Punny. I don’t use broad much, but when I start a sentence with “When I was abroad,” I  MUST continue it “… who lived in Spain…”

Con:

  • Okay in a joking context, but you can’t use it professionally or on strangers.

GAL

Pro:

  • See: Broad re: 1930s accent
  • Implies someone older than “girl” but is still casual. Except in frequency of use, probably the closest we have to “guy.” Maybe we should bring this back.

Con:

  • Nobody really uses it, except for dames in the early talkies, so you’d really have to be willing to start something.

DAME

Pro:

  • See: Gal, Broad supra re: 1930s accent.
  • Maggie Smith.
  • Helen Mirren.
  • Judi Dench.

Con:

  • You will sound like Christian from Clueless.
  • You are not Maggie Smith and you are not Helen Mirren and you are not Judi Dench. But if you ARE Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, or Judi Dench, please leave a comment because that’s pretty cool.

5 Words/ Phrases That Only Appear In Song Lyrics

If I remember one thing from fifth grade English/ Language arts, it’s that ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ mean entirely different things. And if I remember two things, they’re the thing about ‘it’s,’ and also that you shouldn’t start sentences with but or and. But sometimes you need to in order to maintain a light, colloquial tone in your writing. The third thing I remember is that if you’re writing a poem, and you need to make two sentences rhyme, sometimes you have to force it a little.

The same is true in songwriting. Because of that, sometimes words and phrases appear in song lyrics that nobody ever, ever would say in real life. Here are some of my favorite examples:

 Days of Old

Song lyric example: “We reminisce about the days of old” from Old Time Rock ‘n Roll

Real-life non-example: “Billy? Of course I remember Billy! He lived around the block from me and was the smelly kid on the bus back in the days of old.”

Why they use it: “Old days” doesn’t lend itself to iambic pentameter in the same way; “days of old” takes up more syllables; “days” rhymes with blaze, craze, laze, stays, phase, greys, gaze, maze, phrase, taze, gays,  and ways. Most of those are fairly difficult to fit into a generic pop ballad, though you could probably manage it: “Oh, the bros that I would taze, in those golden, olden days.”  In contrast, “old” rhymes with gold, bold, cold, mold, sold, fold, hold, rolled, told. Those are just easier to fit into song lyrics.

Eyes of Blue (or Brown or Green or Hazel)

Song lyric example: “Five feet two/ eyes of blue/ oh what those five feet could do” from Five Feet Two, Eyes of Blue

Real life non-example: “The suspect is described as being approximately 6’2 and 180 pounds, with sandy brown hair and eyes of blue.”

Why they use it: The iambic pentameter thing, the three syllable thing, and the rhyme thing. If you’re going to say “blue eyes,” possible rhymes include “buys, cries, dies, flies, lies, pies, rise, ties, vies, ryes, styes.” But “eyes of blue?” True, new, stew, yew, boo, coo, dew, do, flu, grew, goo, who, Jew, renew, anew, moo, rue, sue, to/too, due, shoe … okay, this is actually a mixed bag. I don’t know WHY they do this. But I think in general, the adjective-before-noun thing happens way more frequently in song than it does in real-life English.

Do You Wrong

Song lyric example: “I’d never do you wrong” from Make You Feel My Love

Real-life non-example: “Wow, he spent your tax refund on Hot Bikram Juggling classes? And I thought he’d never do you wrong!”

Why they use it: I suppose that “do you wrong” is more poetic than “be an a-hole” or “pull some stupid shit” or “ruin everything forever.” And of course, wrong rhymes with song, long, belong, along, and thong.

Do You Right

Song lyric example: “I been tryin to do you right” from Ho Hey

Real-life non-example: “When I signed up for the hot juggling classes, I did so because I thought the skill could generate extra income and improve my physical fitness and thus overall health; therefore I was acting out of a desire to do you right.”

Why they use it: Maybe it’s not the phrase that’s to blame. The concept of, I guess, “doing right by another person” just doesn’t come up in convo unless you’re some sort of a knight or a weirdo.

Strife

Song lyric example: “You go through all the pain and strife/ Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast” from MMMBop

Real life example: “I missed my bus this morning and had to wait in the bus shelter in the cold, with a guy who kept snorting snot up into his nose. I just, like, have a lot of strife right now.”

Why they use it: Almost exclusively because it rhymes with life. Sometimes knife, though. Sometimes. Generally part of a stock phrase like “pain and strife” or “trouble and strife.” It’s like strife isn’t even enough of a word to stand on its own.

Albums I own that I probably shouldn’t have paid for

I think we’ve all been the victim of buying one or two (or three or four) CDs that make us question if we were sane when we purchased them. I’d say my collection of records that fall under this category was a result of the TRL, the need to be cool, and wasting time in the mall record store.

Of course, most kids these days don’t have the luxury of going to an FYE/Media Play/Virgin Records, etc. and scouring through a bunch of albums, but when I was a young, impressionable teen, these are some of the gems I purchased – with my parents’ money.

A Rosie Christmas

Back in middle school, Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show was the absolute hottest thing to take daytime TV, and I was obsessed. So naturally, A Rosie Christmas was on my wish list. It’s basically an entire album of Rosie singing with celebrities. Including “Angelica Pickles”, the hit pop singer from the Rugrats.

A Very Rosie Christmas

Like I said, I was obsessed. But that’s a story for another day. This is the follow up to A Rosie Christmas, because apparently, the first one was such a hit. (BTW, what ever happened to Billy Gilman?)

NBC Celebrity Christmas

So I totally forgot I owned this until I came across this jam on Tumblr – John Spencer, Martin Sheen, and Stockard Channing ‘singing’ Wonderful Christmastime. I was like, ‘What in God’s name is this and where is it from?’ Then I remembered I actually owned the very album it came from. Oops. Other notable NBC celebs on the cd: Sean Hayes, Megan Mullally, and the devil Jay Leno.

P.O.D. – Satellite

So this is where the TRL influence kicks in. Because let’s be honest, I would have no idea who P.O.D. was if Youth of a Nation wasn’t my jam.

Lit – A Place in the Sun

Hey you know what, it’s no surprise to me I am my own worst enemy.

Ruben Studdard – Soulful

When American Idol first aired in 2003, I was a fan immediately. I even went to a taping during the first season, was on TV with an embar sign, and met a 90s teen heartthrob (again, a story for another day). But season 2, I wasn’t even that big of a fan of Ruben, in fact I was more of a Clay Aiken fan – whose album I did have, but please note it’s not on the list. So why did I have his album? Because I fell intro the trap. I mean the lead single from this album is called “Sorry 2004.” Literally the lyrics are “This is my sorry for 2004.”

Krystal Harris – Me and My Piano

Never seen this person before? Well probably only a small niche of people have, so it’s ok. Krystal Harris was the “first” singer signed to the Backstreet Boys (now defunct?) record label. She opened up for them on their Black and Blue tour, which is how I’m familiar with her. However she did have a super minor “hit” with a song called Super Girl, which was featured on The Princess Diaries soundtrack. [Ed note: I just listened to this song for the first time in years, and it’s actually pretty catchy?]

Limp Bizkit – Significant Other

I was so bad ass as a kid that I didn’t even do it for the nookie. I did it to impress my friends because I wanted to show that there was more to me than a BSB fan. I was wrong.

Whatareyoudoinghere: Unexpected Guest Stars of Six Feet Under

Welcome back to another installment of Whatareyoudoinghere! Today we will explore the wonderful/dreary world of Six Feet Under. I patiently waited for this series to come on Netflix instant, and since it still wasn’t available by the time summer came around last year (when I do most of my TV marathoning), I illegally streamed it online (judge all you want). Over all, I’d say it was worth all the hype and awards it received, especially since it had one of – if not the best – series finales I’ve ever seen. Anyways, here’s a list of some of the people I didn’t expect to see when I watched SFU for the first time.

Rainn Wilson

Just before he was Dwight K. Schrute, Rainn played a loner type mortician’s apprentice for the funeral home, and had a thing with Frances Conroy’s character. He actually had a lengthy story line, and ended up in 13 episodes. Still a weirdo.

Jenna Fischer

Speaking of The Office, Jenna Fischer had a two episode arc in season 5, when she went out with Rico, the family funeral home’s mortician. Rico didn’t get the hint that she wasn’t that into him… maybe he shouldn’t have invited her to his best friend’s wedding after one date.

Adam Scott

I realize the image above might be jarring if this is your first time learning about Adam’s appearance on SFU. It was to me when I first saw it and I still can’t get over it. Adam clearly played a love interest for Michael C. Hall. Yeah, Dexter and Ben Wyatt mackin’ it. And jury’s still out if I find this hot or not… (UPDATE: I watched their scenes again, and the verdict is I am uncomfy.)

Bobby Cannavale

Per usual, Bobby played a tough guy who Keith meets while they’re body guards for pop star Celeste (who is featured below). I loved the interaction Keith had with Bobby’s Javier, especially because it’s a good reminder that Keith isn’t your “typical” gay man, and Javier, a typical Alpha male, doesn’t care that he’s gay at all.

Michelle Trachtenberg

Spoiler alert: Harriet the Spy grows up to be a pop star! Here is Celeste, the stereotypical rich, bitchy, superstar. She believes she can get anything she wants… even sex with a gay man. Oops.

Justin Theroux

Contrary what you may think from this picture, Mr. Jennifer Aniston was not a band geek living in central Mississippi. He plays Brenda’s (Rachel Griffiths) charming neighbor, but his presence poses a problem for both of them since she’s a recovering sex addict… so I mean… good luck Brenda.

Ellen DeGeneres

Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 4.18.30 PM

Saved the best for last! Celeste has an appearance on Ellen’s show, and Keith gets into a bit of trouble for using her bathroom while Celeste is taping. But in his defense, he did do his job when Ellen tried to go into Celeste’s dressing room after she said no visitors allowed.

Obscure Yet Sad Celebrity Deaths

When folks like Princess Diana and Michael Jackson die, the world reels in shock and sorrow. But then there are those other celebrity deaths. These people were less high-profile, and you didn’t even hear about the deaths for weeks, months, or years after they occurred. At that point, you assumed that it was an internet hoax. But after obtaining enough independent verification, you had to face the truth. And like truth does, it hurt. Here are five departed celebrities whose deaths hit me harder than I would have expected.

Ashleigh Aston Moore, Chrissy in Now and Then
Like many young girls in the late 90s, my group elementary school friends went through a phase where we were really into Now and Then. We rocked out to early 70s oldies, saved up for a tree house, and wore out the VHS cassette at slumber parties. Three of the girls in the movie were played by the top tween actresses of the time- Thora Birch, Christina Ricci, and Gaby Hoffman. The fourth, Ashleigh Aston Moore, was a relative unknown. But as prissy, sheltered Chrissy, she was arguably the funniest kid in the movie. So, when I heard that Miss Moore had died, I refused to believe it. It was one of those things that I heard years after the  fact, because the actress slipped out of the public eye so it wasn’t reported on the news or anything. It sounded like something that would be an urban legand. I mean, how could that cute, talented little kid have died at 26? I loved Now and Then so much that I feel like I practically grew up with her, and now Ashleigh’s work will live on to attest to how bright and funny she was. Ashleigh’s cause of death has been speculated online, but is not verified. Ashleigh Aston Moore died unexpectedly at the age of 26, in 2007.

Thuy Trang, The Yellow Ranger in Power Rangers
Trini?! I know.  Even if you weren’t technically (or publicly, in my case) a fan of the Power Rangers, you couldn’t be a kid in the early/mid 90s without escaping their influence. The Rangers weren’t just a boys’ club, but you could always count on the pink and yellow rangers. Thuy Trang had an amazing story – born in South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon, she was forced to flee to the United States at age 2. Trang went on to excel in school and even earn a scholarship for engineering, before switching to acting and landing the role of the Yellow Ranger after only a year or so in the business. Tragically, Thuy Trang died in an automobile accident at the age of 27 in 2001.

Michelle thomas, Myra in Family Matters
Michelle Thomas played Urkel’s girlfriend on Family Matters, during those later seasons when he was Stefan Urkell most of the time. Myra’s obsession with Steve somehow even overshadowed Steve’s obsession with Laura. Outside of Family Matters, Michelle was one of those age-defying actresses who successfully played teenagers throughout her 20s. Sadly, Thomas died of a rare form of abdominal cancer at only 29 or 30 in 1998.

Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi, Yokozuna in the WWF
Yokozuna was my favorite WWF wrestler when I was 5 or 6, dragged – physically dragged – into the fake wrestling fandom by my older brothers. Born Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi, ‘Yokozuna’ was a Samoan-American from a family of wrestlers and, contrary to the ‘fake-wrestling’ stigma, actually did train in the sport. In the year 2000 and at the age of 34, while still actively competing as a wrestler, Anoa’i died of pulmonary edema.

Kim Walker, Heather Chandler in Heathers
Life imitates art – Heather Chandler was the first of the Heathers (in Heathers) to die, and Kim Walker was the first cast member to pass away as well. In her short life, Walker amassed numerous tv and film credits after graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, AKA the Fame school. Her career would undoubtedly have continued much longer, however Kim was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1999 and died two years later, at only 32 years of age.

What To Say When A Baby Is Ugly

We’ve all been there. You’re minding your own business,  hanging out with a baby, and it feels like you have to mention his or her appearance… but the baby is totally busted.

Before we start, I should say that I’ve been really lucky in my personal life. It’s not even my bias talking: my nephews and niece are beautiful children. Most of my friends don’t have kids yet, but I swear there’s one due in the summer who even looks cute via ultrasound. But there are less cute babies ugly babies out there, and sometimes you need to talk to and about them. I can help. Here’s what you can say if a baby is ugly:

  • To start, it’s way less necessary to say that a baby is cute than you think. It can be fairly easy to work around. If you know a lot of babies, you’re in luck. Just start talking about what developmental milestones the baby is near. If you don’t know a bunch of babies, but are REALLY dedicated (or just know a lot of fugly infants and want to prepare yourself), you could maybe check the internet to learn about what babies do when. This is more interesting than talking about what a baby looks like anyway. When you meet a new adult, you don’t feel the need to compliment them on how attractive they are, right? Although maybe everyone would like me more if I did that. Another way to make more people like me is probably to stop calling babies ugly on the internet.
  • You could talk about what side of the family the baby looks like, if you know the baby’s biological parents. Even if all you say is “aww, he looks just like his father!,” the baby’s parent will probably hear a compliment. Steer clear if the relative or side of the family who the baby favors is obviously, objectively unattractive.
  • If the baby has a feature that is pretty nice, you could just mention that. “Aw, such big eyes!” “Look at all that great hair!” Is the baby chubby? That’s cute! Talk about that! Unless the parent is so super weight conscious that they’ll take that as an insult. In that case, perhaps compliment the baby’s slim wrists or something. [Warning: A few times my mom had people make really mean comments about my brother as a baby, asking what she fed him and stuff. He was a giant baby because he was on major steroids for a serious epileptic disorder. My nephew had the same thing, and all the “football player” comments were well-meaning but sort of hit a sore spot. Not to bring the discussion way down, but if the baby’s distinctive feature looks like it’s bordering on a medical condition, maybe don’t go there.]
  • You have a BABY!
  • “Look at that BABY!”
  • “Now THAT’S a baby!”
  • “Well, bless his/her heart!” Note: you can pull this off best if you’re Southern, but please be aware that other Southerners totally know what that means.
  • “What a sweet baby!”
  • “What a good baby!”
  • “What an alert baby!”
  • “What a happy baby!”
  • “What a baby!”
  • “That sure is a baby!”
  • “Your baby is so well-dressed!”
  • “Your baby is so clean!”
  • “Your baby smells so good!” Note: It seems like it would be weird to talk about how a baby you don’t even know smells, but people always talk about how babies smell good. It’s normal, somehow. You need some confidence to pull this off.
  • “S/he looks just like (name of attractive celebrity).” Note: This is a tough one to pull off, and is really advanced-level baby complimenting. Some babies, while not cute, sort of look like people widely regarded as attractive. Big lips? That baby looks like Angelina Jolie! Dimples? That baby looks like Mario Lopez! Freckles? I don’t know… Eddie Redmayne maybe?
  • “Your baby is HILAROUS!” Note: Use sparingly, as the truly hilarious baby is quite rare. My nephew Hank, age two, is one of the funniest people I know, but if I’m being quite honest I know a lot of babies who don’t bring much to the table, humor-wise.

We’re kidding, of course. Babies are cute – an ugly baby is like an ugly puppy or kitten; they’re cute just by definition. Still, the expectation that you’ll compliment a baby’s appearance all the time is odd enough to almost make you want to say “what a baby!” the next time you meet one.

Annoying Theater Patron Stereotypes

In the five years that I lived in Boston, I worked at a theater (like plays and musicals, not movies and stale popcorn). During my time there, I witnessed the entire gamut of theater patrons. Unfortunately, I had to interact with all of them, which 60% of the time was the worst, but 40% of the time, people were actually pleasant.

However, now that I don’t have to talk annoying people at the theater, I now have to sit in the same area as these people. My friend and I have a subscription to one of the major theaters here in LA, which means literally anyone can show up as your seat neighbor. The last time we went, it seemed like every single possible theater patron stereotype was in a 10 foot radius of me. Here are just a few of the annoying people that need to calm da fuck down and enjoy the show.

The Higher the Hair/Hat, the Closer to God

This woman sat two rows in front of me the other night. It looked like an Adele style bouffant with three peacock feathers sticking out from it.

2013-03-22 20.02.42

Folks, you’re going to a venue where people will be sitting behind you. This is not a new concept. So don’t act like your beehive hair or top hat (you know, if you find yourself in the 1920s) will not be a nuisance.

Kick Line Clapper

Without fail, any time there is kick line in a show, there will be at least one person who finds it so impressive that they start clapping. CLAPPING. FOR KICKS. If you are watching anyone but the Rockettes, don’t feel obliged to audibly reveal your astonishment.

Commenters

The worst people to possibly sit behind you are the ones who talk throughout the show. They’re usually confused about what’s happening, and feel the need to talk to their friend about it. For example: ‘What did she say?’ ‘I don’t know, I don’t think it was in English.’ ‘They need to pronunciate.’ ‘No, what they need is to turn up the microphones.’ ‘Turn UP the microphones? This is too loud as it is!’ ‘Who’s that?’ ‘I think that’s her husband.’ ‘I thought she was dating the other guy?’ ‘She is.’ ‘What a whore.’ Also under this category: Ethel the old biddie.

The PDA-ers

The worst people to sit next to you? The couple that can’t keep their hands off each other. Listen guys, I get that this is a romantic date night for you, but I really don’t fancy being in a threesome with y’all at the theater (or outside the theater).

Candy Unwrappers

Just take out your cough drops and Werther’s Originals before the show, and have it then. Or think ahead and unwrap it so you don’t have to make so much noise digging around in your purse. Sound travels.

The Singer

Hey, you’re a high school senior who hopes to be a musical theater major in college? Don’t audition for the people around you, we don’t want to hear you sing Defying Gravity when there’s a perfectly good Elphaba on stage.

Texters

The artistic director at the theater I worked at in Boston gives a curtain speech at the top of the show every night. The staff (and most of the subscribers) have heard his spiel hundreds of times, and he basically recites the same thing every night. “If you have a cell phone, a pager, or anything else that beeps on the hour, please turn it off for the duration of the show. And remember – texting is just as odious.” There are people who legit sit in the back of the theater and text throughout the show, and think it’s ok. IT’S NOT.

Why Spring Breakers Is a Movie Worth Your Time

spring breakers

When I first saw the trailer for Spring Breakers, the thought that immediately came into my head: ‘shitshow.’

And to some effect, I still maintain it is after seeing it, but in a sense that the characters themselves are a total, complete mess.

If you don’t know what this movie is about, really all you need to remember is that it’s about 4 BFFs who go to Florida for spring break, and insanity ensues – especially after they meet this drug lord/rapper. There’s drugs, sex, alcohol, guns – not for your regular Disney Channel fan.

I saw the movie a couple weekends ago when it opened, and Harmony Korine, the director, surprised the audience by coming in right before the movie and talking about it for a little while. Korine, flanked by the “ATL Twinz” from the movie, said to ‘keep an open mind’ about the film, which is what I did – and suggest you do too.

please note the twin on the left, whose backwards pants say 'FUKK'

please note the twin on the left, whose backwards pants say ‘FUKK’

After the 90 minutes of neon lights, dubstep music, and the alarming gunshot sounds signaling a scene transition, I had to take a few minutes to come out of the Spring Breakers world and back into reality. I didn’t really know what to think, to be honest. It was exactly what I thought it would be, but so much more than I could have ever imagined. If I had to sum it up in one word: jarring. The very first scene you see (and I’m not spoiling anything here) is a bunch of real life college kids on spring break. They’re dancing on the beach, half naked, drinking excessively with funnels in tow, and it looks like something out of Girls Gone Wild. With that scene alone, you’d think the entire movie is just about these four girls engaging in illegal activities, but come to find out, the Girls Gone Wild scene is way tamer than the shit they get themselves into.

The first half of this movie shows the girls trying to figure out a way to procure enough money to travel from their lame college life in Kentucky, down to a place that is far more exciting – Florida. A couple of them violently rob a restaurant for the cash, and they make their way down to the Sunshine State, where the R-rated partying ensues. Unfortch, the police bust the motel party they’re at, and the ladies land in jail. In their bathing suits. Luckily, James Franco’s character, Alien (Al, for short), comes to bail them out. The second half of the movie is the group trying to figure out if he really wants to help them or if he has ulterior motives.

A couple things hold me back from saying this was a great, amazing, top notch movie. One, I don’t like violence in films. Per a previous post about never having seen Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, any Quentin Tarantino movie really, is because I am just not a fan of guns and blood and violence. All those things happen in this movie. The other reason is that it’s hard to pin down what this movie was set out to be. It definitely had its serious moments, but it also had its fair share of comedic ones as well, and not intentional comedy. When James Franco first comes on the screen, he looks like this:

And then he speaks and it’s hard to NOT laugh at him. Because all you see is James Franco looking like a complete idiot. I don’t think that was the original intention, but I find it hard to believe any viewer wouldn’t think that at first sight. The ridiculous monologue he has about “all his shit” is a perfect example. He’s going on about all the money, guns, and paraphernalia he owns, but there’s a part of me that says, ‘am I supposed to be taking this guy seriously or not?’

My favorite scene, which kind of falls into the category of ridiculous dramedy, is a scene involving the girls, James Franco, a piano, guns, and one of Britney Spears’ all time hits. In fact, someone actually wrote an article about how the entire movie is a metaphor for Brit Brit’s life, which frankly is a theory I can get behind.

Now I have NEVER experienced a spring break like these before, and I think most college grads can agree. The most I ever did was go to LA and visit my friends, where we went on a tour of Warner Brothers studios and sang karaoke at Mr. Belding’s bar. But I know that these people actually exist, which is why this movie is not that far off from the truth. Sure, meeting a guy like Al is extremely rare, but this culture exists. The bottom line is that it exists, people, and that’s why this movie isn’t taking advantage of girls in bikinis and ripping away the innocence of young Hollywood starlets. While I can totally understand how you would think that, you have to realize that this is not a porn movie. It’s not meant to exploit people for your pleasure. It’s meant to explore a culture of young adults looking for something more than what they have, and more than what they are. Wanting to escape the mundane world they’ve known all their lives, in search of something more exciting. A need to have experiences they probably won’t have ever again. If you are sane and have a good conscience, hopefully you’ll take away that this movie is the exact OPPOSITE of how you should act, and not a how-to instructional video. In fact, all the naked girls and sex scenes in this movie should turn you off, not on.

This review from Boston.com is an accurate description of how I feel about Spring Breakers, and explains the reason why I even took time out to write this post in the first place. This film won’t win any Oscars, but it will certainly be a talking piece for anyone that sees it. It stays with you. And isn’t that really what filmmaking and creating art is all about?

This is the rare movie that I actually found myself liking more the longer I spent away from it and the more I thought about it — mainly because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In the moment, I found it numbingly repetitive, even boring at times: an obvious juxtaposition of sex and violence, of dreamlike aesthetics within a nightmare scenario. And it is all of those things. But it stuck with me, and it made me appreciate the genius of Korine’s approach.

So friends, if you see this movie, remember to keep an open mind, and most importantly remember: Spring Break Forever.

Not Pinterested: Or, Why I’m Not On Pinterest

I have always tried to put off  new social networking. I went through two years of “hey, you should join Twitter!” before joining Twitter. I didn’t join Myspace until I was going abroad and needed to keep in touch with folks outside of my timezone. And I held off on Facebook until 2006 or 2007.  The only reason I have Instagram is to post pictures to Twitter, because otherwise my phone gives me an error message — I don’t follow anyone or have followers or even look at the app except to post a photo. I didn’t even have a smartphone until my sister got me an iPhone and data plan for my law school graduation. Clearly, if I lived 100 years ago I would just barely be warming up to those crazy “horseless carriages” and think that sorcery was behind those “moving picture shows.”

It’s not that I’m bad at technology. I’m, like, pretty okay at it, really. It’s just that I see how people get obsessed with different forms of media, and I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want to feel like a website or a device is totally necessary, when I was fine without it. But eventually I come around, and I love it.

That’s not how Pinterest was for me, though.  I feel like I have to explain myself, because if you know me, you’d think that I would be all about it. I probably didn’t give the website a fair shake. I’ve always loved design and decorating. Since I was a kid, I’ve been rescuing thrift store or roadside furniture and painting it. Years ago, I was doing things like spray-painting old records and stenciling designs on them for wall art. I made a giant chalkboard for my dining room in Buffalo, and wall art for my parents’ house by repurposing antique sheet music. And I did all of this without Pinterest. So when people started asking “did you see that on Pinterest?” for every project I did, I started to get a little annoyed. I was like “no, I saw that in my BRAIN because I am a CREATIVE HUMAN BEING with IDEAS JEEZ CAPS LOCK.”

I almost feel like I have too many ideas sometimes, and if the internet broke tomorrow, I would still be able to think of new recipes and color schemes and outfits and decor. And I don’t think Pinterest necessarily makes everyone more creative, either — the website is great for some people, but can really just make things more uniform. Like, Pinterest-y weddings can be just as cookie cutter in their own way as those blah reception hall weddings from the 90s. SO many mason jars and Mr. and Mrs. signs on the back of the chair and Chinese lanterns!  Scrabble tiles everywhere. Buntings all over the place. It’s actually making every wedding I go to look more similar instead of more unique.

When I did join Pinterest, it was halfheartedly. I made like 3 boards and looked at it never. I thought I’d deactivated the account, but after a few years realized it was still there, then deleted it for good.

The real reason I didn’t like Pinterest wasn’t just that it was another social network in my over-connected life. It was that it made me want things. Obviously, many boards are things that you can make yourself, but still, you need the supplies. If I see a really cute dresser, I don’t just think “oh, what a cute dresser for someone else.” No, I want it. And when I see an outfit I like, I’m not just happy for whoever has it. I want it, too. Or something like it, at least.

Of course, things to want are everywhere. You can’t open a magazine or read a blog or sit through a commercial break without seeing something you wish you had. It’s just that, there’s enough commentary around those that I can tone down my greed a little. With Pinterest, for me it felt like board after board and pin after pin of things to want. And things I can’t have, even a little: wedding boards when I’m single, kids’ rooms boards when I won’t be a parent for a long, long time, beauty boards that won’t make me a pretty person.

I’m not saying that Pinterest is bad for everyone. Much to the contrary, in fact. I love sharing ideas, and that’s what the website is all about. In some lines of work, it can give you real-life inspiration when you might not know too many other people in your field to brainstorm with. And I know it doesn’t cause unsettling want-iness in most people, or else they wouldn’t use it. But for me – how it made me feel and how it made me think – it was bad. I don’t want to invest any more time into wanting things than I absolutely need to. Most importantly, I don’t want to make it easier for myself to do so. If I miss out on some good recipes or organization tips, so be it. My friends are all idea sharers and these things come up in conversation anyway. And as for decorating and outfits and travel and writing? I have more ideas in my head right now than I could possible effect in a lifetime.  I like that Pinterest offers a way to keep track of all of them. But for me and my luddite ways, actual pins on actual bulletin boards will do just fine.