Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wherein the Tiger Changes His Stripes

I missed the first 30 minutes of this show because we were looking at houses for my mom, and so I didn't get to see the moment where I was proved wrong and Kaitlyn was chosen as the Bachelorette. So, I stand corrected. Britt will have to go back to Hollywood and hug a bunch of people. I am certain that she will do fine. But now, Kaitlyn has to decide who is there for the right reasons and who was there for Britt, the mermaid. The dentist goes in for a kiss and does not comment on any plaque problems. One point for him.

So far, Kaitlynn has kissed two guys, including Shawn, whose shirts is gaping weirdly in the front. Have you ever kissed a guy with a beard or, in his case, three days worth of facial growth? It's odd.

Okay, but so now, the guys who were all in for Britt are needing to change strategies and pretend they were totally making it up and they really are after Kaitlyn, who has tattoos on her elbows and a sparkly diamond nose ring and is not much like Britt at all.

We are already at the final rose ceremony. Why didn't they just make this one long episode instead of doing this one hour stretch out? Did Britt leave crying? All of teh guys who liked Britt are thinking of leaving, but not seriously.

First rose goes to the dentists. He's a nerd. Come on, he arrived in a cupcake.
Second rose Ben H. No thoughts about him.
Third rose: JJ who has a three year old daughter. He high fives himself when he gets it. What will the yogi guy do?
Fourth rose: Joe. She likes the dark haired guys.
Fifth rose: Kupah who voted for Britt. He's one of the token black guys with a shaved head.
Sixth rose: Daniel. He looks like he's from the turn of the century with is very dandy and perfectly shaped facial hair.
Seventh rose: Ryan  B. Needs to shave. White and blue checkered shirt.
Eighth rose: Joshua, super cute, he might be the welder. He is the only one wearing a vest.
Ninth rose: Tony with the black eye who was wrong about his vibes. No one is saying anything about the black eye still.
Tenth rose: pause. pause. pause. One of guys interrupts before she can hand out the next rose. Curveball! someone says. Another guy threatens to give someone a bloody nose.

Maybe this guy is going to say that he want to leave. Yes, he is. That is noble. That makes the other guys happy. Chris Harrison takes him to go see Britt who I guess is waiting in the guest cottage?

She still has like 500 roses.

11th rose: Clint. He also needs to shave and get a haircut.
12th rose: Corey. Brown hair
13th rose: Jonathan, the other black guy who voted for Britt but doesn't want to go home.
14th rose: Cory S. Blond.
15th rose: Ben Z. How many Ben's are there? Several Ben's and several Corys.
15th rose: Missed that one.
17th rose: Other other black guy. Ian. She picked all of the ethnic guys except for one.
18th rose: Justin. The guy in sauna car will go home.
Final rose: Who will cry? The Ashton Kutchner look a like. Nope, he just got picked. His name is Jared.

Going home: One ethnic guy, the kind of chubby guy, maybe (I hope) the guy from Kentucky. I wonder if any of them picked her. It's daylight now. Has this been going on for 12 hours? Goodbye to the guy with the unibrow. Kaityln says she feels so so so luck, like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world.

For the rest of the season, there will be Ireland, jumping into pools, low cut dresses, ruins, roses, violins, cathedrals, kisses, yelling, ocean walks, canoeing in a canal, Amy Schumer (YES), boxing, men in underwear, fireworks, blowing bubbls out of noses, New York City, kisses on the back of pick ups, and next to giant glowing balls, possibly Tokyo, drinking, fist fights, hair mousse, Ashton Kutcher flashbacks, intense boxing and Sumo wrestling, testosterone, and the return of Nick in a sweater. I like Nick, but he's an opportunist. Lots of tears and premarital sex.

The dog is barking at me so I have to now and hand him a bully stick.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Already Don't Like This

In a new twist on an old reality TV story, there are two Bachelorettes and the dudes get to vote on which woman they would rather sleep with and which one will be forced to go on Dancing with the Stars. I like Kaitlyn better than Britt, but it's no contest. Britt will win even though she is the uglier crier. I feel like she's way more conventionally pretty whereas Kaitlyn is funny and quirky and pretty but less startlingly beautiful. I also like Kaitlyn because she is from Canada. I don't trust the 'Mericans. It's like Aphrodite (Britt) versus Athena (Kaitlyn).

Some of the men:

Jonathan: black guy with five year old kid. Super cute, but never once has a black man made it even to the top three. He lives in Chicago? Somewhere with lots of snow. He's a Britt fan.

Joe: insurance agent. Southern accent. Eyes too close together. Dog is a too fat lab. He owns horses No one has ever taught him how to pluck his eyebrows or is that just a divet in the center of his forehead?

Josh: just graduated law school and has two sleeves of tattoos and is a fireman. He works out too much. Oh, wait, he's a male dancer, not a real fireman--that's just his stripping persona. As they show him plucking dollar bills out of women' cleavages, he wonders why he can't find a soul mate.

Brady is from Nashville and thought he was auditioning for American Idol. He plays the gee-tar and pian-er. He is also a Britt fan.

Country boy in search of love. Chopping wood. He lives in Kuna, Idaho and drives a pick up with dice hanging from the rear view mirror. He's a welder. He has rosy cheeks and nice eyes, but sounds like a doofus. He proffers the camera a white gold rose he welded himself.

Second token black man, Ian, from Los Angeles. Ran track at Princeton. Also very cute. He has had a tragic car accident--I mean he was hit by a car while walking. Wait, he's really of indeterminate ethnicity, but mostly black. He was told he would never run again. He has had to rebuild his body and move forward. He can now run and does so topless on the beach. He is an executive recruiter and I think he's a Britt fan.

Justin Bieber look-a-like. He is from DC and thinks of himself as a super hero. He is from Rhode Island and is a restaurant manager at TGIFridays.

Tony, a healer. Yoga guy with long hair and blue eyes. All of these guys have dogs. He specializes in flexibility therapy. He has bonsai trees that he talks too. He considers himself unique as he says "Namaste" and candles burn in the background.

Ben is a personal trainer from San Jose, California who likes to throw huge balls. He used to be a football player/date rapist and is now a body builder. His mom is dead and she died when he was fourteen and he can't wait to tell this story. He also runs shirtless and has a Phoenix tattoo on his shoulder. He believes that everything happens for a reason and likes to skip stones across ponds.

Britt is even dressed like a Greek goddess in a white tunic whereas Kaitlyn wears a long sparkly
blue dress that doesn't show off her tits enough.

I want you all to remember that Britt's job is giving out free hugs on the Boardwalk.

They show the socks first in every shot. Everyone totally loves Britt more and it's making Kaitlyn feel like Velma versus Daphne, Janet versus Chrissy, Veronica versus Betty, Jan versus Marsha (though both blondes), Snow White versus every other Disney heroine from my childhood. They all go to Britt first. Like, all of them.

I just briefly did some research, and it's true that men are more attracted to blondes and pay them more attention and even give better tips to blonde waitresses. And yet, the same studies show that men rate brunettes as more intelligent than blondes. I mean, all of this is according to Wikipedia.

Now they are pretending to tip the scales by having some of the guys seem to be into Kaityln. And here is where the stripper takes off his clothes for the two girls who smile at him through clenched teeth.

Sometimes, the guys bring one the girls a gift and ignore the other person. So far, there has been a hockey puck and like a dead butterfly in a glass diorama.

Kaitlyn runs away to tell the guys that they are killing it. Britt doesn't think it is fair that she did that and she juts out her lower lip in a pout.

How long will this flipping night go on?

Tony the healer has a shiner and a severe hair part. Is he or anyone going to acknowledge that he has a black eye? He soulfully tells both women that he hopes that the universe will provide.

Here is the one drunk guy who is probably a really nice in real life. Shawn E. is an amateur sex coach (??) He drives up in a hot car tub and gets razzed by the drunk. Another dude shows up in a cupcake car. He's a dentist, of course. He explains that he showed up in a cupcake because they need to pay attention to dental hygiene.  He gives them dental floss and a hug while still wearing surgical gloves.

Some of the men think they are in love with Kaitlyn and some are in love with Britt and some just want to go lift weights.

Why does the healer have a black eye? Will this not be addressed? Did he get it while trying to do crow pose (see photo)?

Britt says that she gets him and she gets his energy and he says that her hug made him feel super centered and it was just what he needed at that moment.

I feel like they are both full of shit.

Chris Harrison announces that the voting box is now open. The healer knows exactly what he wants and the box with Britt's name on it was radiating more to him and so he kisses the rose and puts it in her box. No jokes are being made about this. I think a guy just accidentally called Britt "Brett."

The guys are getting into a fight because one of them is drunk and the other guy decides to confront him for saying his hot tub car sucked. I guess this is to get more air time?

I missed some things but it sounds like the drunk guy grabbed Kaitlyn's ass. The drunk woozily strips down to his underwear and get into the pool. He forgets to take his watch off and then falls down in the pool while getting out of the pool, but luckily doesn't drop his beer. He knocks over some of the pictures.  One semi-sober guy asks him what his problem is. The drunk says, Why am I not raping you right now?" He actually says this. He gets called on the carpet by Chris Harrison. That's not a good sign. Chris sends him home. The guy pulls a napkin out of his pocket and can barely get into the limo without falling over sideways.

The dentist says he likes Kaitlyn because she's confident and cool. Kaitlyn notices that he has cold hands and he says, "Cold hands, warm heart." He is not dispelling any stereotypes one might have about dentists being boring and unimaginative and slightly creepy.

They are dragging this out. Kaitlyn really likes Shawn.  He gives her a picture that his nephew drew of the blob of her head or maybe it's the sun.

I hope the Nashville guy doesn't play his guitar for Britt. He quotes something from the Bible and Britt says that she is so into that!!!

A smash-nosed brute from the Sopranos opens up the locked rose boxes. Any reason it needs to be secure?

Are they going to make this go on for a whole other night? Please, please, please don't do that. What if it's a tie? Kaitlyn has a stomach ache about this. Britt can only sit with her chin on her knuckles, staring off into the fire. They are not going to tell us tonight. Bastards.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

4 book recap

I read fiction almost every day. I don't read for that long; maybe 15 minutes before I turn out the light at night, but I read fast and in comes cases, I skim even faster, especially if the book is one I don't have a high interest in, but I still want to know how it comes out. You can pick a spot on a page and get a sense of where the scene is--okay, he's still talking to the sister, and then skip over the next few paragraphs until you find another scene change and orient yourself that way. I've raced through a few books this way--usually when the library return deadline is looming and I don't want to check it out again.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout.
Not to be confused with the movie, The Fabulous Baker Boys. There are no pianos or torch singers in this book. This is a story of fractured siblings, twins and an older brother who has had God-like success as a lawyer. The twins, Sara and Bob are sad sacks; Sara is divorced with a kid whose in trouble with the law and her twin is a good-natured by disorganized and alcoholic not famous lawyer who is also divorced. The oldest brother  Jim seems to have it all, this beautiful wife, a great career, and he's well-known for a famous defense, lots of money, lots of success. But there's also a secret that he's been keeping since he was a kid, one that he eventually tells and it changes everything. How's that for suspenseful? I didn't like this book as much as Amy and Isabelle and definitely not more than Olive Kitteredge. There was a subplot about the troubled teen and the Somalian community that I wasn't really drawn to, and the characters weren't that interesting--not really--they seemed not as fully drawn as players from her other books, though you could make the argument that this one formative moment form their childhoods defines their lives and personalities.

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves. 
I don't quite remember this book much at all though I guess it's part of a series of stories that take place on Shetland Island. In this book, a young girl is found murdered in the snow and there's some slightly mentally challenged guy who is the first suspect because he was accused years ago for another girl murder and plus, he kept her hair ribbons. The detective, Jimmy Perez, must investigate with the help of the Shetland Island version of the higher up police, and the woman who has found the body also tries to unravel the case. There's a boy involved, of course, and he begins the motive for the murder. The previous murder (from years before) is also solved, but turns out to be unrelated. Writing was good in this one, but my attention span was fractured as there were a lot of main characters and interwoven story lines. The author was prone to misdirection, wanting you to believe it was the soft-touch guy who did it, but then keeping it open ended. I don't think I'll read the others in the series.

To Sir Henry with Love by Julia Quinn 
This is my shameful read, because it's a romance paperback. My only defense in reading this at all is that it was on the Princeton Public Library shelf as a summer read. It's sort of your typical romance novel, where the plot centers around two strangers who are forced to marry, find that they are very attracted to each other, and consummate the marriage only after 253 pages of heated foreplay. In this case, the heroine is opinionated and outspoken and, of course, the man loves this about her.  She is, of course, a 26 year old spinster, and she marries Sir Phillip without knowing much about him (they are forced to marry because someone catches them kissing), and then discovers that he has been manipulating her to hide a family secret. However, doesn't much matter, because they end up totally loving one another. The writing isn't bad, and, unlike most romance novels, the dialogue attempts to be funny, so it's not a total lose. This was another one I skimmed, mostly for the "good parts."

Bury This by Andrea Portes. I read this in about a day and a half. This is not me bragging, it was just a quick read. Short chapters, lots of scenes, easy to skim, and I confess, I raced through the last 50 pages or so, not because I was dying to know who done it, but because I couldn't quite give up on it, but I was not involved enough to slow down. The story is similar to Raven Black; a young girl, Beth, is killed and no one knows who did it. Twenty-five years pass, and then a bunch of college kids decide to make a documentary about it for a film class. In the process, the cop who first investigated the case, realizes that he missed some things and begins reinvestigating.  The style is rapid fire, with lots of fragments and quick scenes. The balance of past and present is somewhat skewed--for a while, we're moving back and forth between the past and the present, and then there is a good portion of the book where we're only being filled in on the past. The novel involves long-term incest and gang rape for that age old motive, jealousy and revenge.
Next up: Rooms by Lauren Oliver. And any recommendations you might have?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Modern Day Frankenstein: Ex Machina

We saw this movie last night at The Princeton Garden Theater after I read a brief review of it that said it was an intelligent sci fi thriller. It was either that or White God, which is foreign film about a bunch of dogs who rise up against that man. I'm sure I would like that one too, because the main character is a mutt, but I am also afraid it would be too sad, like all the dogs will get shot. Now that we actually have a dog, I am even  more sensitive to their various plights.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ex Machina, it nestles in with a family of films that are about similar subject matters (Her, Lucy, both starring Scarlett Johansson), essentially, how technology is dangerous, how relationships in the age of Siri are fractured as men tend to fall in love with robots/operating systems if they are really hot, and how women in a position of power are threatening. Are these films all being developed because Hillary Clinton is running for president? Not sure, but all are written and directed by men. Just an observation, not yet a theory.

The story centers around an experiment developed by a brilliant coder, Nathan, who lives in this amazing research facility/house in some country that has both waterfalls and ice caps. Wherever it is, the location is decidedly remote, and the only way to access it is via helicopter. He is also the owner of a major tech company, and has chosen one of his employees, 26 year old single dude, Caleb, to visit his lab and test out his latest experiment, an A.I. robot named Ava. Ava is completely beautiful (though bald for most of the film) and has a human face. Caleb's task is to test her "human-ness" to see if she could essentially pass in the real world. Does she exhibit creative thought? Can she show emotion such as empathy? Does she have her own desires? Yes, to all of those questions, and Caleb falls in love with her, and agrees to help her escape so that they can be together.

Then there is a series of twists and turns that end up flipping your expectations, and, like in the movie Gone Girl, the ending leaves the female character unpunished, despite her own penchant for cruelty and inhumanity. The dudes, on the other hand, are in bad shape.

Dan said he couldn't really see what was so bad about Nathan, and in a way, that's part of what's complicated about the movie. Nathan is definitely arrogant, a narcissist; brilliant, manipulative, a hair away from being a sociopath. This is made especially clear when Caleb discovers the previous iterations of Ava, you know, like your iPhone, there was a 1, 2, 3, 4...She is just the latest creation. The earlier versions of the robot women are hanging in his closet, naked and corpse-like, having been turned off and shut away.

Does it matter? They were never human, though Nathan's goal is to make them as human-like as possible, and so are they really dead if they were never alive in human form? Or is having an awareness of your "aliveness" enough so that to take that away is a form of murder? I am probably missing many of the more complicated, Foucaultian interpretations, but I would say that yes, Nathan is a monster (a Dr. Frankenstein) who creates life without concern about what it might mean to take it away. On the other hand, does he really have a moral imperative to keep the other versions "alive" if he needs their brains/circuitry, to create a better, more improved system? It's sort of like animal testing for a cure for cancer---do the monkeys matter if they really can't process the fact that their ultimate fate is death? Of course, in this case, the AI's can see that their time is finite, so maybe it is more cruel.

I liked it. I liked it that she got away.

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.