Monday, October 27, 2008

Slice of Life

What would you do, if, let's say, you met your favorite actor? Would you scream, cry, have no words, faint, politely shake his hand and extend your gratitude? Such is the philosophical question (if only a superficial one) one might ask while in Hollywood, where this sort of fantasy can be served up in reality, at your local grocery store, or getting coffee off Sunset. Such was the case on Saturday morning, when my sister and I walked into our local Ralph's grocery store, and as we glanced to the right, we spied a very familiar profile. Here in the flesh, was our very own Michael C. Hall, our beloved serial killer - Dexter Morgan.

Let me tell you about Dexter Morgan. Before I watched the first episode of the (potentially grotesque) series, I was highly skeptical that a network could produce a worthwhile show surrounding a serial killer who killed other serial killers, while managing to maintain a complex cast sifting through situations you'd actually care about. This storyline could have surmounted to a largely egregious lifetime movie, on schedule next to shows featuring screaming women and vast amounts of blood. But writers of Dexter have done no wrong, and continue to keep the plot line enticing with just one question they want to ask: "Are you prepared to like a serial killer?" I can say, that yes, I am. I like him, I really, really do.

So, did I scream? Fortunately for him, I did not, and although I had a camera in my bag, I decided my best course of action would be mustering enough courage to say hello. On this early Saturday morning, he was wearing a baseball cap, and I imagine it was partly to avoid recognition and also, because he probably hadn't taken a shower that morning and therefore was less inclined to take a photo with hyperventilating fans. So, as he finished paying for his coffee, my sister and I stood to the side, and as he walked towards us, I piped up, "Michael." The expression on his face was more Do I know you than Oh, Shit I've been recognized and he obliged us with a handshake as I said, "Hi, we're really big fans of the show." With a humble and quiet "Thank You", Mr. Hall walked away in that familiar stride I've seen every episode on Dexter. With our parting, I walked into a nearby aisle, and silently freaked out behind the chips, celebrating in high-fives and OMG's with my sister, who couldn't believe our luck.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Victoria's Secrets Offers More Than Underwear (If You're Lucky You Get An Angel)

While walking around the office today, I realized that my underwear were not working for me. It was riding and rubbing in all the wrong places, in addition to creating panty lines I hadn't seen after getting dressed this morning; and those are never good (I don't need four butt-cheeks, just the two). Lucky for me, there is a conveniently located Victoria's Secret nearby. So, at 11am this morning, I took a quick break to resolve my situation, jetting over to Vicki's in search of some comfortable underthing.

Upon entering the store, my eyes fixated on every kiosk with panties in sight, I did not notice the commotion going on inside. Then, I turned away from the drawers I had been rifling through and looked up, and before me sat the most famous Angel of them all - Heidi Klum - surrounded by a (surprisingly) small crowd of tween girls getting their photos taken with the model. Paparazzi stood by.

Turns out, Ms. Klum was there to pimp her new makeup line, and proceeded to apply makeup throughout the day on girls such as the one below (not me). I got these frisky snapshots with the help of a friend's iphone.....

Luckily, I found my saving grace and left the store with little fanfare. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One-liners Have Gotten Us Everywhere!

Daily Intel, I salute you! You've not only provided an inordinate stream of somewhat exhaustive news minutiae rolled out into thoughtful and provoking entertainment, but today, you've provided the best sentence of the day: "who has to ask where the hummus is? It's Whole Foods! It's everywhere." Bravo.

I'm not even being sarcastic here. I really do think this is funny, which you either agree with, or unfortunately shows questionable taste in humor. However, as a Whole Foods shopper, I know all too well that the above quote fairly represents a synecdote of what it means to be hummus in a store devoted to healthy eating, and hummus is the tops - right after okra and tofu.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Men in Women's

The man in front of me is wearing striped pajama pants. Although this is a fairly nondescript thing to do on a Sunday morning at 10:30 at Starbucks, these particular pants have a Liz Claiborne tag attached to the outside, and at this moment, for all I know, Liz Claiborne only makes women's clothing.

Viewpoint - Photo by Kesinee Tongtuntrai

To find this sort of eccentricity whenever I drive my crusty car into this licentious landscape of Hollywood is appealing - it's like walking into some sort of strange dream. However, Starbucks might qualify as a bohemian universe unto itself, offering comforting drinks to myriad weary travelers in need - in whatever they're wearing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Tao of Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman has perspective to burn. I would bet a large sum of money on his being correct (or at least pursuasive) ninety-five percent of the time, whether or not I personally disagree with his thoughts, particularly as they relate to the age old question "What does it all mean?" Ostensibly, he makes a good point on the subject, on many subjects, and one in particularly is, what's with Publishings' state of affairs? We rank 18 out of 24 nations in terms of the relative effectiveness of our educational system, and routinely have low reading rates of adults across the nation. But that's not all, Culture as a whole generally sucks, countries hate us for the shit we spew out. So, it seems significant to read a passage from Chuck Klosterman's IV, a collection of essays from his days spent writing for Esquire and Spin magazine, who said this:

Photo by Carrie Marshall

"Why, I wondered, do people so often feel let down by popular culture? Why do serious film fans feel disgusted when another stock Tom Hanks movie earns $200 million? Why do record store employees get angry when a band like Comets on Fire comes to town and only twenty-two people pay to see them? Why do highly literate people get depressed when they look at The New York Times Best Sellers list?"
So much of what we see around us, we disagree with. Yet, pop icons, among many facets of society, continue to exist and excel through public support and cultural infrastructure. Chuck continues his thought with this - a juxtaposition of one's own thoughts versus public opinion, or rather - what sells the fastest and in the largest quantities:

"There's always this peculiar disconnect between how people exist in the world and how they think the world is supposed to exist; it's almost as if Americans can't accept an important truth about being alive. And this is the truth to which I refer: culture can't be wrong. That doesn't mean it's always "right," nor does it mean you always have to agree with it. But culture is never wrong. People can be wrong, and movements can be wrong. But culture - as a whole - cannot be wrong. Culture is just there. "

Michael Moore is the best example of Klosterman's statement. I mean, if culture as a whole loves Paris Hilton and continues to promote her for reasons I cannot comprehend, then who I am to contend with popular opinion? I have no stake in her celebrity. If she sells, then market her. In this day and age, with the markets crashing and people desperate for ideas that sell, in a market devoid of originality, then Chuck is right, Culture is not wrong, it's our realistic gossip-gulfing self. The disappointment sets in because our realistic makeup doesn't match our idealism. But....

Photo by Mustafa Calaki

If disagreement with mainstream culture simply means that your ideas aren't preferred, then consider the opposite, by Stephen King, who says, "There is a kind of unspoken (hence undefended and unexamined) belief in publishing circles that the most commercially successful stories and novels are fast-paced....the underlying thought is that people have so many things to do today, and are so easily distracted from the printed word, that you'll lose them unless you become a kind of short-order cook, serving up sizzling burgers, fries, and eggs over easy just as fast as you can. Like so many unexamined beliefs in the publishing business, this idea is largely bullshit...which is why, when books like Umberto Eco's The Name of The Rose or Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain suddenly break out of the pack and climb the best-seller lists, publishers and editors are astonished. I suspect that most of them ascribe these books' unexpected success to unpredictable and deplorable lapses into good taste on the part of the reading public."

I think, we all liked McDonalds hamburgers, and look where that got us. Fast food and bigger belts - can you consider these ostensibly unintended consequences the "not wrong" taste of Culture? Or is Chuck Klosterman's assertion that culture's not wrong or right just really saying that culture is the result of freedom of choice, and where we're at is the result of freedom, not taste, because from what I can tell - we don't have any.

Photo by Mauricio Quiroga - Miami's Memorial Statue

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Daily Intel

Daily Intel, the New York Magazine blog, dissected the Wall Street Crisis today from the perspective of its dependent reporters. Amidst vociferate end-of-the-world declarations for Wall Street and countless speculations on our formidable future across all markets, including jobs, journalists now enlist themselves as newfangled martyrs.
Photo by Corey Tester