Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Vagina Monologues or a play that you can't bring your mom to (though she probably should go)

Last week, I got to be part of Rider's production of the Vagina Monologues. If you haven't seen this show, it's a lot about vaginas. Like, everything you could possibly think of. From what it's like to get your periods, to worrying about hair, to gentile mutilation, rape, orgasms, having babies, loving women, loving yourself, loving the "C" word. There is an entire monologue devoted to the "C" word called "Reclaiming Cunt." There, I wrote it. Deal with it.

I'd only see one production of it before--the one that Penn did about two years ago, but I read the play in my feminist theater class, also at Penn. And then of course I have this latent theater bug, left over from being high school musicals and college plays and children's theater and community theater and various other experiments.

I auditioned with "Because He Liked to Look at It," which is a funny piece about a woman who learns to love her vagina because she meets a man who is fascinated by them. The director asked me to read a different one, "The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy." This is a monologue about a female dominatrix who only does sex work with women, in part to teach them how to enjoy sex, how to have pleasure, how to moan. Secretly, I wanted this part, but was too scared to go for it, because it involves a difficult section where the actress demonstrates the moans in "various keys, various tones." The woman who performed it at the Penn version was a show stopper--she brought down the house. So, I got that part. Then I was freaked out because of the last part--where she illustrates ten different ways women moan (sample: the doggy moan, the combo vaginal/clit moan, the diva moan, etc). Luckily, the director decided that we would do that part as a group piece, where each woman did a different moan, In a way, that makes sense, because it's about a woman who likes to make women moan, and then the women do.

We had two rehearsals before the day of the performance, but never got to my part. Then, we had a run through the night of the first show (there were two nights) and I don't think I actually got to do it then either. But I practiced a lot on my own and something kicked in and I was able to do it.

It's not an easy show to watch, because it alternates between these funny, odd monologues and these disturbing facts about how many women are raped or how they're still performing gentile mutilation in many countries to the fact that women are mostly still ashamed of their own body  (we're told to keep it clean, wash it out, shave it, make it presentable) and ashamed of finding pleasure. Like, you're never going to hear a bunch of women standing around in a locker room talking about jerking off. But I feel like with guys, it's like this funny, normal thing.  I've heard more than one guy admit to having contests with other guys to see how many times they could do it in one day. I think the guy who won was up to seven times. No shame, no self consciousness.

More than half of the cast were students, and a few were freshmen. That was totally awesome, and the best part about the show--you have these eighteen years going, Don't tell me my vagina is disgusting, it's amazing.

I'm glad I did it and only slightly a little bit disappointed that I didn't get to do the moans after all.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Liked the Cover, Story was Lame

The old saying that "you can't judge a book by its cover," is simply not true, at least as it applies to actual book choosing. It's untrue not just for the reason you might think. I believe you can judge a bad book by its cover, or at least, you can judge whether or not you will be interested in the book. For example, I never pick up a book that has planets and spaceships on it. I also only infrequently pick up books with women in hoop skirts pressed against shirtless pirates. But you can also think a book will be good because you like the cover, and then find that you've been led astray.

Most recently, this happened to me with a book that had an arresting image on the front and a promise of a mystery in the description on the back. The story itself was a disappointment. So, the premise is about this artist woman from the city who moves to a small town so that she can focus on her writing. She secures this amazing farmhouse with a giant barn. However, shortly after she moves in, she has a terrible migraine and then learns the next day that a local boy (a boy who shoots crows) has gone missing. She's seen the boy before, and in fact confronted him for shooting the birds around her farm, but she has no recollection of what may have happened to him. She vaguely recalls that she saw him on the edge of the woods shortly before his disappearance, but that's it. The story alternates between her growing unsteadiness, prescription drug addiction and isolation and the process of the town detective who is trying to locate the boy or whomever hurt him.

Halfway through, I guessed the secret. Though I like to be right and I also like for the endings to make sense (i.e. not to turn out to have some weird twist you could never anticipate), I don't like for the solution to be too easy. What's your guess? I'll give you another hint--the artist woman can no longer paint and along with popping lots of Vicodin, she also has moments where she recollects the sneering face of her ex-husband. Yes, you are right. She did it. It was an accident though. She was yelling at the boy for killing the birds and she reached for the shotgun and blammo! It went off, killing the little boy. But instead of going to the police, she decided to bury him in the barn and hope for the best. And the reason she was even aggressive toward him is because his jeering face reminded her of her ex-husband. Not enough--- that's not enough of a motive and it also doesn't compute that she would not go to the police and then also not remember any of it. Good cover, flimsy story.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Shining Girls, not a novel about the twins in the Stephen King horror story

I read Lauren Burkett's The Shining Girls in about a week.Well, a year and a week, because first, I checked it out from the library and didn't finish it, and then I recently found a paperback version for sale at the same library for $2 and so bought it,

Do you know about this book? Writer Tana French has endorsed the novel, but I don't necessarily trust her judgment anymore, not after reading The Secret Place, which was a really long literary version of Dawson's Creek without the intrigue or multidimensional characters.

The Shining Girls does this odd thing where it straddles two to three genres at one time. It's an historical book about a serial killer who time travels to find and murder his victims, women he sees as" shining;" meaning that they are particularly vibrant and strong, not your typical victim. He doesn't just kill them, he dissembles them, pulling out their intestines and doing the killing slowly, because it turns him on.The heroine is one of the victims who survived, and who gradually figures out that he has this magical house he can go into to move among the decades and get away with his crimes.

I don't know. I found it to be confusing--particularly the ending which, granted, I sped through at 10:45 p.m. and so perhaps didn't read carefully enough. I think what happened was that somehow, the bad guy was killed in a certain time period and so perhaps the other crimes never happened? Or else the bad guy was killed but the bad things will still happen in exactly the same order. I also read the author's interview in the back of the book where she explains that she wrote the book to give the victims a voice because she knew a girl once who was locked in a house by her boyfriend and died in there. I don't think the characters here had much of a voice, since all of them died and only one escaped and then she kind of gets saved at the end by a guy. But I think mostly I feel stupid for not understanding the finale.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I feel a little bratty these days--partially because I am living in one of the most privileged- filled towns in the country, a place where the very smart merge with the very wealthy and where no one looks before crossing the street, either because they are day-dreaming about string theory or because they are accustomed to being the center of the universe, where the normal modes of behavior (looking both ways) simply doesn't apply to them.

The other reason I feel spoiled is because I signed up for this monthly online stylist service, where you give this company your sizes and a sense of your personal taste, and they then send you five pieces of clothing and/or accessories to choose from. You can buy all of it for a discount of 25% or you can buy none of it and pay the $20 styling fee, or you can buy the items individually and pay whatever they cost, minus the $20.  The first time, I thought I liked everything (have yet to wear two of the shirts) and so bought everything for $194 (a pair of jeans, scarf, two shirts and a cardigan). This second time around, I didn't like any of it very much.Well, that's not totally true--I didn't like the price of some of the stuff--like a pair of black "trousers" (stretch pants) for $98 and then another cardigan for $64. I kept one thing--a heather grey sweater for $48, paying $28 after the discount.

My god, what have I become?

And then we also have a dog walker who stops by the house three times a week, because the dog is still a puppy and he needs to be walked, but I feel bad about that too; though not bad enough to stop doing it, which would mean driving myself there and back a few times a week during lunch. As it is, Dan and I switch off. I take Mondays and he takes Fridays and Heather, the dog walker, sees him from Tues. through Thursday.

I haven't attempted to write a blog post outlining the differences between having dogs and having cats; it's definitely a shock to the system to have a puppy. With cats, you get them, put out a litter box, and set them free. That's it. With puppies, you get them and then they never stop needing you. It keeps you active, what with the walking and the throwing of the toys. The incessant throwing of the toys. And dogs do things that cats do not so much. Like, they get hiccups. And they sigh. And they follow you into the bathroom to watch you brush your teeth. With the same level of interest as if you were pouring hamburger into their bowl. Like, it's all fascinating.

Here are some pictures of Chaplin.


Monday, March 9, 2015

3 hours of your life that you will never get back

Did you drink enough Gatorade? Do you have a power bar? Crack? Did they have to time this last show with daylight's savings when we all got up at 5:30 this morning instead of 6:30? The previews promise tons of tears mostly by Chris and a promise that the entire country will be talking about the shocking turn of events that will be taking place. What could that be? One of women is transgender? One of them is already married? One of them made up the whole story about being a fertility nurse? I mean, really, there are a finite number of options. He picks one or the other or he picks neither. My favorite ending would be if he picks one and she says, Naw! That has never happened. The women never pick; they always get picked.

Whitley is first. Everything about her seems phony--but only like sort of phony--like generic phony. And she won't stop talking and she is wearing a giant gold necklace. Oh, dear, she won them all over with her heartfelt toast where she said something about family and then asked if she could plug in her curling iron.

I think Chris' brother--in-law is going to be the next bachelor. He reminds me of the last semi-finalist from The Bachelorette--Nick What's His Name. Remember him?

Becca is next and her physical defect (and please keep in mind that both of these women are very beautiful, so this is just me being a jerk) is that her teeth are all the same size and kind of large.The women are physically similar--blond with blue eyes, just like Chris. He is in love with two versions of himself. The part of himself that talks in a baby voice and the other part that can crack a walnut without cracking his teeth.  I like that Becca says that she's not ready to be with him or move her entire life to be with him, even though I suspect the whole thing is scripted for drama. They're making a big deal about how Whitley is totally into him and Becca is less so and how that means he will probably pick her. And then maybe she will say no, or let's wait? Which isn't that weird. What is weird that when she talks, she barely moves her mouth. 

They are either spending a lot of time on this scene between Becca and Chris basically saying the same things over and over again or I have been blacking out and time traveling to other decades and having adventures before returning again to find that only five seconds have passed. 

I just realized that the show isn't really three hours long; it's actually two hours and then an "after the final rose" show. Thank God! 
Whitley loves to wear giant necklaces. She comes to see Chris one last time and he tells her that they're going to go pick corn.They get on a John Deere tractor and her whole life flashes before her in one dismal dead yellowish blur. Should they be picking this in the middle of winter? I'm a farm girl from Nebraska, but I don't really know when harvest season is. I do not think it's in December though. What do the women do? They raise the chirren? 

How will they get him back on the farm after he does Dancing with the Stars?  

Whitley cries too much and makes too many speeches in her Anne Taylor necklaces. Chris asks her what it is about the two of them that makes her so sure that the situation is right. She answers and he is clearly daydreaming about Becca. She says that she can read his mind, and he nods. She cries too much. Her hair is going flat, like Cinderella around midnight. She almost gives him an Eskimo nose kiss. See what I mean by fake-y? Like, an unoriginal fake, a Disney fake. Or like she would never talk shit on anyone, which I also don't respect. 
The women primp, getting ready to be chosen or rejected. Whitley wears a floor length purple dress and Becca wears a red velvet one. Chris and Chris share an awkward embrace as he prepares to not propose to either one of them. They have decorated the interior of his barn with lanterns. Please tell me he is not going to make one of them climb up into the haystack in their heels? Does his dad know they did that to the barn? Fire hazard for sure. 

They really have to go into the barn to be sent home? It's so cold in there that you can see his breath. Becca is first. This is part American Gothic, part horror story. Will pig blood be poured down on her as she leaves? Chris says that he doesn't feel like she's ready, which is what she told him. It would be great if she doesn't shed a tear. They tell each other how incredibly happy they are going to make other people, just not each other. See, this makes me think that he will also send Whitley home. He walks her out through the chicken coop. She sits in the limo and doesn't cry, which is great, though she may also have Asberger's syndrome, which would be sad. She has very little emotional affect. 

Cue noise of horse neighing. Cue trumpets. Cue sound of limo driving down a dusty road and being shot at by the neighbors. Cue the first time Whitley has put her hair up, but yes, she still has two curl tendrils. Cue Whitley going, "Holy cow." I am certain that she used to be in beauty pageants. This entire journey has meant so much to her, to him, to them. She loves him so much, she really does, and she is shaking and he has a slant of sunlight on his face, bringing out the wrinkles in the corners of his eyes.  He says that he loves her and his goatee gets stuck in her hair as he hugs her. She says she doesn't want to ever forget this moment, and here's the weird thing, it is being taped, so she doesn't have to ever forget it, she can watch it for the rest of her life every Saturday while he's out on the combine and she's nursing three babies she made in a test tube. He says he loves her and he proposes, by getting on one knee. As he starts to go down on his knees, she yells, "No!" But I really think she means yes. She says yes, yes, a thousand times yes! 

I will not be re-capping the re-cap from After the Final Rose show. But I will try to get to my blog more, promise.

Monday, March 2, 2015

120 Minutes of Recaps and Faux Insights

From the previews, it seems clear that there will be lots of pained facial expressions and mascara running during this marathon episode. Kelsey wears bright green, Britley puts on serious Mac dark lipstick and crazy girl looks hot as all get out in her silver sparkly shirt. All will be superficially revealed. Chris is going to a party with a bunch of women who may or may not all be his ex-girlfriends. They are all wearing straw cowboy hats. Is this him showing up at random Bachelor parties? How odd.
We jump right in with a flashback of Carly saying mean things about Britley. All the girls attack her because she is so fricking beautiful. She is not an ugly crier even. This is why the episode isn't at all interesting--because it's just a bunch of shouting and women trying to get air time. Carly points out that Britley would say one thing to them and then another to Chris. Brit delicately suggests that Carly is demonizing her because she's jealous. I am proud of her for using the word "demonizing." Wait, she is an ugly crier. I do not get why she is so upset.  She will have a new boyfriend in like two days.

Next up is Kelsey aka Daisy Buchanan. Dan says that they are not a good looking couple--her and Chris. Kelsey watches as the girls are scream for joy as she is kicked off the show. The women hate her more than Britley and Eye-ashley can't keep from smirking at everything she says. She is very poised but yes there is something inauthentic about her, as is she believes she is auditioning for a Spanish soap opera.

Now we'll hear from Crazyfunny Ashley who may be addicted to Oxycotin. She seems pretty altered all the time. Or maybe she's an actress paid to go on the program and act like a maniac. She hands him an onion that she said she grew. I honestly do think that she is a comedian who is on here as a hoax. He asks her what she's really like and she says that she likes to ride bikes. She says that she went behind the scenes because was so bored. While all these other girls were crying and carrying on, she wanted to pick a pomegranate. She may be brilliant or she may be a total phony.

Jade goes to talk to Chris and everything was fine until she told him she posed for Playboy and then showed him her vagina online. Perhaps if she hadn't asked him to watch her video and see her naked, he might have been less likely to send her home. Or maybe not. I don't think it matters that she posed for Playboy, but that she might be using this show as a way for more publicity since we are all Googling her photos right now. And her videos. I could find very little people.

Now we have Kaitlin, who was my favorite all along though I was surprised that she made it to the final three. Word on the street is that she will be the next bachelorette. I hope that is true. She says that was blind-sided and her heart was broken. There has never been a show where the dude changed his mind at the last second and went back to their third to last choice?

Chris comes out and must first talk to Brit and explain why he couldn't pick her and I got distracted. I continue to be distracted--sorry--so I will say good night for now. Next week is the final final final final final final final show before the next one.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Three Damsels Left and Only One Fertility Nurse Who Really Matters

I mean, that's my guess. Baby voice can make it work wherever she happens to lives as we discussed in last week's post (see: animal husbandry). Becca, nee Doll Teeth, however, may not be able to transition (though I forget her job) and Kaitlan is too urban to be a farm girl. Here are the questions of the night--will he send the virgin home? Will a monkey in Bali poop on Chris' shirt, with hilarity ensuing? Will they confront the poverty of this country or just bask in its ethnicity because of how colorful it is? Chris contemplates the sunset while sitting on a rock, as in the distance, a poor man pulls rice with a basket on his back.

Kaitlan arrives first and wraps her legs around him because she's tiny. Oh, okay, yes, they will be exploiting the culture fully--they are now carrying their own baskets on their heads and Chris wears a turban. It is possible that Kaitlan has bad skin covered by three layers of foundation? Her face seems to be melting off. A bit.

A monkey appears, as friendly as the crazy squirrels
on Penn's campus. More erupt from the trees, leaping on Chris' back and we all begin to wonder if this is foreshadowing for his inevitable heroin addiction later in life. They go to dinner and Kaitlan's face again looks weird--a little yellow, as though she may have malaria. I mean, she is still totally beautiful though. Chris tells her not to worry and he hands her the fantasy suite card. Kaitlan says, "I can't imagine saying no to that." Chris says that they both deserve it. I think she doesn't really like him all that much and that's the main problem. They move into the FS and find a bathtub full of roses. Unfortunately, the corpse of the native person who had to pluck the roses is at the bottom of it, but they probably won't actually use it anyway. Kaitlan admits that she has fallen in love with Chris and Chris pretends to believe her. They kiss. A monkey screeches in the background.

What is this with the women jumping on Chris and wrapping their legs around him in a koala-like embrace? If I did that to Dan, he would fall over and I would crack a tooth. Whitley and Chris go on a pirate ship called the Plaintain. Please do not let them do the Titanic thing on the prow or bow or whatever it's called. "Journey, the journey..." Whitley has her own addiction--to helium.  I do like her better with her hair flat--not so bouffanty in this particular episode. At dinner, she wears a lime colored dress from Forever 21 and works very hard to maintain eye contact. Someone needs to get a fan for Chris. He wants to know if Whitley would like to live in a town with 400 people. She gives him this run around about how her career is very important to her and how she worked really hard to get where she is, but how she would leave it all in a second to have his babies. That is exactly what she said IN A NUTSHELL (which is a phrase I notice that people overuse these days). They decide of course to go into the fantasy suite and Whitley covertly brings the turkey baster with her in case she gets sent home.

Next is Becca, the virgin. They consult some local fortune tellers who tell them to have sex. This is ironic for Becca. She is saving herself for marriage (read: she will only do anal).  How old is she? She so, so doesn't look real. Is her mom a dentist? Is she part zombie?A Christian? Brainwashed? Made of wax? Chris has this way of looking at someone when she's talking with his chin up, kind of quivering. Beccas says that she would have to really really have to be sure she's in love before she would think of moving to Iowa. She barely moves her mouth when she talks as if she's practicing ventriloquism. Becca gets a handwritten note from Chris the host on lined notebook paper written in the penmanship of a fourth grader. Next time, they should choose a climate
 that's not 110 degrees. They take a tour of the fantasy suite and she goes, "Here's to falling in love in the most unexpected way!" Whatever that means, I guess they're toasting to falling in love on a TV program? She launches into a long preamble as she tries to figure out how to tell Chris about the status of her hymen, She finally says that she's a virgin. He sighs. He doesn't know how to respond. He says, "I respect that. I am surprised." He says that he's really more interested in figuring out how their relationship is going to work. But he won't be able to figure out how it works in bed until he puts a ring on her finger.

The next morning, Chris stands gazing off into horizon wearing a tight light blue T-shirt and Becca strolls bra-less down the beach in a maxi dress. Chris says that he sees all three of these girls as potential mates. He does use the term "girls" which applies mostly to Becca. Becca draws a picture of penis entering a heart in the sand. Did he take her virginity last night, is that why he's almost, not really crying? Dan says, "Turns out he's a virgin too."  Since it's so hard for Chris to choose one woman, Dan suggests that maybe they should just morph this show into that one about the guy with five wives.

Half an hour left, and how will they stretch this out? And why are the Chris' dressed identically ibn white warriors with tablecloths tied as sashes around their waists? The women are arranged by size, tallest to shortest, including Whitley's top knot. The women are dressed in traditional Bali clothes in bright colors like so much ornamentation in varying shades of lipstick. He pulls Becca aside and sits on the dirty steps despite his white pants. He looks like he's in scrubs. They both claim to be falling in love with one another, and yet they seems robotic. I wonder how many times they have to cut the scene to towel off Chris? Are they not allowed to call each other on the phone? Okay, she is coming back, so he will keep her and that means that one of the other two will have to go home and it's probably Kaitlan. She's too cool for him.

First rose goes to Whitley...That means Kaitlin is going home. Chris should follow his heart in
realizing that Becca won't want to be with him.

Music swells. He picks Becca. Kaitlin shakes her head in dismay. He made a mistake. He does go for blonds. He tells Kaitlin that he's so sorry. She lets him hug her while she stands there woodenly and asks, "What happened?" Kaitlin is confused and upset but still beautiful. A rooster crows. She walks away with him. This is a horrid show. I mean, if any of this is real. She gets into the van and puts her sear belt on right away, because safety first. I have to keep in perspective that they really don't know each other all that well.

Chris seems torn or maybe just overheated.

Next week is The Bachelor: The Women Tell All. I don't like that episode because of the recaps of the recaps, but I will tune in anyway.