Sunday, March 30, 2008

On vacation

Vacation is...that time to go away for a while. I'll be gone for a week. Future posts may include an assessment of the thematic content of Michel Gondry's music videos, and an essay on cultural monogamy (which isn't going to be about sex, at least not directly). Talk at you later!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I heart musicals everywhere!

Especially when they occur in a public place. GShap brought Food Court Musical to my attention:

(The spilled condiment reference called to mind the line, "I got the mustard out" from Buffy: The Musical).

I was aware of Improv Everywhere's No Pants 2k6 public performance (which they reprised for No Pants 2k8), but hadn't see their not-so-impromptu musical, which was rehearsed the night before. The mall and Hot Dog on a Stick were also in on it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


And now for my latest obsession. Every morning for the past two weeks, I've passed by this poster in the subway. I quickly snapped this photo lest I be caught in the embarrassment of the act.

I can't stop staring at it. It fills my mind. I think about it constantly. Anyone else notice that these men are about as intimidating as The Little Rascals?

But back to the poster itself. This poster is my only exposure to this film. From this picture alone, I can't seem to get over this rampant display of flaccid masculinity. What's with George Clooney's fake black eye? Isn't he getting a little old for this juvenalia? How is Jim from The Office anything other than a jokester? Why am I not shocked that there's a token black man and a token fat man? What kind of a title is "Leatherheads" anyway? (I get that this is about the early years of football where men did, in fact, wear leather helmets, but that title is just Neanderthal. And these helmets make them look like they have cute floppy dog ears.) These men are tough lite.

Such a poster begs the question: does dirt maketh a man? Does sports maketh a man? I suppose the other end of the spectrum is Rambo, which is a steroid-sized caricature that also fails to do masculinity justice in its own way. Maybe what's intriguing to me is the ambiguity implied by this image. Are we supposed to find these men frightening or lame?

I find no definative indicators of how this image is to be read, or rather, my sense of what's "masculine" and what's puerile cancel each other out leaving a black hole. So, I can only bring to bear my outside understanding of these actors along with my preconceptions about gender. Since I can't figure out what we're meant to take away from this picture, I suppose it's quite a successful ad--it's definitely lodged in my not-so-leather head.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

iFoam vs. iPhone

It's a rare user interface that becomes so culturally recognizable that it gets parodied. Check out this birthday card I saw at Bed, Bath and Beyond that imagines an alternate use for the iPhone:

The interior:

Note: photos of iFoam taken with iPhone.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Eyes Have It

Allergies, that is. This is my worst time of year, and my eyeballs are red, sore and ready to fall out of my head. Does anyone out there have any recommendations for treating springtime eye allergies? It's almost too much to bear.

I stopped wearing contact lenses ages ago due to eye allergies, but I'd love to get back into them again. (I refuse to have lasik surgery, so that's not an option.) Anyone have any experience with severe eye allergies and contact lens wearing? What brand/type of contacts do you wear? Would you recommend them?

Please help!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Euthanasia as a right

This week, there have been several articles about a French woman, Chantal Sebire, who legally sought assisted suicide due to severe pain and trauma caused by inoperative and incurable cancerous tumors in her face. She was denied by the French courts. Two days after the ruling, she has died.

The first time I saw her picture--a close-up--I was horrified by my own revulsion. But more than just that, I was intensely moved and felt the deepest compassion for her pain and agony, not only from her physical pain that was all too apparent from the distortion of her bulging eyes, but from the alienation she must feel from others. Chantal herself said that children fled from her in horror. She was tired of the pain, both physical and mental. She should have legally been given the honor of being allowed to live, and die, as she chose.

Euthanasia should be made legal. We put our pets to sleep when we recognize their quality of life has irretrievably declined. Everyone, if sound in mind, deserves the right to die with dignity if they so choose.

How can anyone argue that it is immoral to seek a dignified death when we live in a country that thinks nothing of killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in a fabricated war fought in the name of democracy and non-existent weapons of mass destruction? How is it that capital punishment continues to be executed? The hypocrisy runs far deeper than Eliot Spitzer's forays into prostitution.

And we're kidding ourselves if we think that a subtle form of euthanasia doesn't already exist in this country. Doctors intentionally place terminally ill patients on increasingly higher doses of morphine and other painkillers to speed their death along as an act of mercy. This was done for my grandfather who passed away from a disfiguring and grotesquely painful bone cancer in his arm. Of course, he should have had a say in that matter, but I'm here to tell you that this goes on in hospitals all across the country, every day, and no one says a word. Let's take what is hidden and make it legal.

It is my body. It is my choice. And when the time comes, it should be your choice, too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gluten-free Omega Smart Nutrition Bar

Found a new product about a month ago at the Good Life Market in Pittsburgh (which, incidentally, has the best selection of gluten-free foods in one store that I've ever seen). Anyway, it's a gluten-free nutrition bar by Omega Smart that is also vegan.

Most of the flavors contain soy or nuts, which I avoid, so I was only able to try the Banana Chocolate Chip bar and the Pomegranate Strawberry Colada. I don't plan on eating the Banana Chocolate Chip bar again (I'd give it a 4 or 5 on a flavor scale of 1 to 10), but I quite like the Pomegranate bar, and I just bought 12 of them to tide me over before my Pilates classes.

The combination of the agave nectar (to keep your glycemic index low) and the Omega-3 fatty acids from the flax seeds make this an impressive nutritional choice. I bought them from AD American Diabetes, whose prices are good. They arrived in a couple of days, and I'm very satisfied. Try them out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The VIP Club New York

Um...I was just watching the Sci Fi Channel (I wish I could say I was watching Battlestar Gallactica, but it was actually something terrifically lame about hauntings in New Orleans--I blame it on the fact that I was starving, scarfing down my dinner and too lazy to change the channel). Anyway, this commercial just ran for the VIP Club:

I *knew* there had to be someone else out there who posted this online because it's just so...well, see for yourself.

Update: 3/19/08 Dammit! They took it down. Grr. So much for this post. It was basically "Crazy Eddie" meets a strip club. A sad and sorry scene no matter how you Popeil it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Worry-Free Dinners for the Allergically-Inclined

Guess what? If you have beaucoup food allergies and intolerances (nuts, gluten, milk, soy, you name it), AND you live in New York City, there is now a new diner's club especially for you: Worry-Free Dinners™. The group was founded by Allergic Girl, who has a phenomenal blog on eating allergy-free around New York.

Their description:
"Worry-Free Dinners™ is a membership group for anyone who has manageable food allergies and/or food intolerances and would like to explore restaurants, chefs and foodservice organizations that will offer an exclusive allergy-friendly meal."

I just joined, and I can't wait! How nice will it be to go to a restaurant and not have to scour the menu and plead with the waitstaff for substitutions? So exciting! Check it out!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The streets of New York

Ever wonder what's underneath the street? Railroad ties, apparently. Planks! At least at the intersection of Broadway and Lafayette. Shocking! You an even see some bark:

Who knew this is what we're walking on top of everyday? I can't stop staring as I walk over it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ugly Betty and The Other Boleyn Girl

Anyone else notice that Natalie Portman's Other Boleyn Girl happens to be wearing Ugly Betty's necklace?

I did some poking around on the web, and it turns out you can buy this Tudor-style jewelry. It's a replica of the one the real Anne Boleyn wore:

Nothing says "recession" like a Betty/Boleyn necklace. No matter what the time period, you, too, can wear something that is fucking hideous!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Homophobia at School

Last week, a 14 year-old-boy, Larry King, of Oxnard, CA, was shot in the head and killed by a fellow classmate because he was gay and often expressed himself in unconventionally gendered ways, wearing makeup, jewelry, and high-heeled boots.

Sadly, there are those who would probably say that Larry was asking for it by "flaunting" his sexuality, but to those people, I would say: what is it about gender expression and same-sex attraction that is so threatening? And must some people in this country continue to die for it?

Ellen DeGeneres commented on her show:

Her message is powerful, yet I have a few nits for Ellen. The first is that I realize she wants to style herself as an entertainer, but the personal IS political, and her statement IS political. To pretend that it's not is aggravating and untrue. There's no reason why she should have to disclaim an occasional political statement considering that she's probably the most famous out lesbian in the United States, and that being gay in America unfortunately comes with massive baggage (and not the kind by Louis Vuitton).

Secondly, neither Obama nor Clinton support same-sex marriage (although they do support civil unions), and they have prevaricated on whether homosexuality should be considered immoral. So, we're still second-class citizens in their eyes--separate is not equal. I have serious doubts that our vote will change that any time soon. I hope to be proved wrong.

All that said, THANK YOU, Ellen for making such an important point: it's OK to be gay and that hate crimes must end.

Remember Larry.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Homophobia at Work

Last week at work I was a witness to an example of how homophobia is often boiling under the surface, even in settings where sexuality has no real place (thus proving that sexuality is a component of any human gathering). In this case, the incident occurred in a meeting room with ten people.

The scenario:
One man, let's call him Rick, was trying to get his laptop connected to a faulty projector. In order to get it to work, he had to push on the cable, but couldn't do so while also operating a mouse.

The second man, alias Bob, decided to lend a hand and hold the cable so Rick could do his presentation. This was a considerate and helpful gesture. However, this meant that Bob's hand was positioned in very close proximity to Rick's hand on his mouse. Instead of simply holding the cable silently and letting Rick proceed, Bob felt the need to make a proclamation, lest anyone think he was holding Rick's hand.

The pronouncement:
"I'm not gay."

The result:
Mild laughter, twittering.

Bob is not a malicious person at heart, and on the surface, this is not the worst bit of gay bashing one could encounter. However, the implication of saying "I'm not gay" with no provocation is that there is something HORRIBLE about even being considered gay. In fact, it's so horrible and embarrassing to be gay that he needed to immediately tell the world he was straight, even in a moment when NO ONE else in the room was likely to be even thinking about his sexual orientation.

This just shows how insidious homophobia is, and how it's a social infection that people resort to so reflexively that it takes enormous effort to even become aware of. These attitudes are adopted early in life and emerge again and again, unless awareness is achieved.

The bottom line:
Words matter. Who's to say who in the room was gay? And how would it have made him feel? And even if no one in the room was gay, it still reaffirms the received notion that homosexuality is to be shunned at all costs--a message that gets repeated in the schoolyard and in boardrooms.

As a lesbian, I was offended by the devaluation of being gay. (Although this kind of homophobia manifests differently for gay men and lesbians--the typical unwanted straight male response to lesbianism is generally leering interest.) I understand that gay male homophobia is more apparent and even dangerous, and I believe it's sometimes harder to be a gay male in our culture than a lesbian. (I'll leave the topic of lesbian invisibility for another post.)

A gay male friend of mine who has been out of the closet for a good 20 years recently told me that he doesn't find any real benefit to being out in the workplace anymore, and has chosen to largely re-closet himself professionally. This broke my heart. It's 2008. Why are gay people still the last socially acceptable group to openly ostracize?

Homophobia is real. Please don't pass it on.