Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Don't PAY For Halloween Decorations!

$6.99 for FAKE cobwebs?!

            Last year Halloween got cancelled in a lot of towns around here due to an unseasonably early snowstorm. I believe, as a result, people are responding by doing a little bit of extra decorating this year. There are lots of lights, and fake rotting things, and fake cobwebs, and zombie heads. The general theme of Halloween d├ęcor is “dirty, gory, and gross.”
            I can’t help but to think that people are really missing out on a big opportunity here. Rather than spending money to buy fake cobwebs, fake rotting material, and other assorted nasty shit, one could stop cleaning for months before Halloween in preparation. Real cobwebs are FREE! Most people do pretty heavy cleaning before Thanksgiving anyway, so there’s no worry about adding extra cleanup. And since you would have saved so much time in not cleaning for months before Halloween, you’re really gaining a lot.
            Authentic cobwebs would create more drama. Just think, actual, live spiders could greet the kiddies as they come asking for candy. If you’ve let the cleaning go for long enough, maybe the cobwebs will be low enough that the kiddies’ heads will take the cobwebs away along with the candy! You wouldn’t even HAVE TO CLEAN THEM UP. Self-cleaning dirt. I should patent that.
            As for rotting material, it’s just like having compost piles in convenient locations closer to your house. It’s not anything you can’t relocate with a shovel. Think of all the time you will save just chucking your trash out the front door instead of taking it in bags to the trashcans, which then need to be rolled to and from the curb once a week. If people ask questions, just tell them you’re fertilizing your sidewalk. Feeding the rolley-polley bugs and wood lice. Bugs are going to out-survive all the humans anyway. Is it wrong to get some good karma tilting in your favor? I wouldn’t bring maggots into it – they have a tendency to gross people out.
            We’d cut down on pranks, too. What can teenagers really do to mess with your house if it’s already loaded with cobwebs, bugs, and rotting vegetation? Add more rotting vegetation? Lame. Toilet paper it? That’s like providing paper towels to start cleaning up the mess. Set it on fire? Hello insurance cash out!
            In addition to everything else, we’d probably be able to cut down on the amount of plastic Halloween crap made in China and sold at Walmart – thus saving the earth from toxic gas production, slave labor, and bigger landfills. This is a seriously winning idea. Halloween – the dirt fest of champions. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Got A Red Neck? How 'Bout A Scarf?

Cable Cowl Neck Scarf
Brooks Brothers $148
Lambswool & Silk Twill

           “I was starting to get aggravated last night when I thought about how I never make it through a fall season without forgetting to wear some of my fall weight coats. Somehow, I managed to amass this collection of great mid-weight outerwear, and it doesn’t get USED because I don’t go anywhere, and I spend all my time in puffer vests and North Face fleeces.” Talk about first world problems, THIS is how I opened my session with my therapist on Tuesday. Of all the more pressing, mood-affecting things I could have brought up, preparing my body for the temperatures between 32 and 65 was at the top of the list.
Yarnz "Floral Mosaic' Scarf
Nordstrom $110
Autumn might be my favorite time of year coming from an apparel and fashion standpoint. Scarves (!), gloves, tights, sweaters, puffer vests, jackets, socks, hoodies, fleeces, and warm bedding abound and get to be mixed and matched to provide just the right level of warmth. It is the time of year when I get reacquainted with my good friends Goosedown and Cashmere. And apparently it is also the time of year when I forget that I went on some sort of psychotic coat collecting binge over the past three to four years (maybe it took longer than that) and now have enough mid weight coats to wear a different one every day for more than a week. “Sell them!” I hear you say. NO! I like them all!
I don’t actually want to talk about jackets. I would like to talk about scarves. The right scarf can make your jacket look much more polished. And if you are wearing a silk scarf, or something lighter weight, it can add some punch to your entire outfit. I was a bit disappointed when I saw that high necklines were a trend for Fall 2012. I find turtlenecks unbelievably constricting. And given my broad shoulders, anything that comes up around my neck like a halter tends to make me look like I could be a member of the USA Olympic Swim Team. High necklines attached to long sleeves have a similar effect – broad broad broad. This broad doesn’t want to look broad.
Salvatore Ferragamo
Gancini Print Scarf
Bloomingdales $340
Solution? The scarf! I can take any sweater or shirt with a low cut neckline and add a scarf to give myself a higher neckline, while also providing either a color or textural contrast to break up that length from left to right. Bonus: it warms up your neck. While I was working at Ferragamo they taught us several ways to style “foulards” (that is a large square silk scarf, for those not in the know), such as folding it in a triangle and tying it in a knot on the side of your neck. The triangle could go in the front. It could be folded into a long rectangle and tied around the neck. They even suggested that you could take two of them, tie the corners together behind your neck, and then cross them over your knockers and tie the other ends around the back into a “shirt,” but I would never suggest that unless you were going for a high class honiform.
Psp11 Printed Scarf
Societe Anonyme $272
Whether you’re searching for a traditional long scarf to hang down from both sides of your neck or a foulard to tie up near the collar, you shouldn’t have to fork over an arm and a leg to get one. If you spend less, you can buy more of them. I have two requirements by which I choose scarfs: pattern and palatability. Do I mean eat the scarf? Geez, no. The fabric is next to your face, however, so it should be lusciously soft. You wouldn’t sleep in sandpaper pajamas. Don’t wear scratchy scarves. Understood?
A scarf from Hermes or Ferragamo or a small selection of the other French and Italian fashion houses will break the bank. You aren’t just paying for the name; they are of higher quality (though I do believe that with anything other than the two aforementioned, you will be overpaying for what you get). They are created with detailed silk screening processes, using different screens for each color, have hand rolled edges, use the finest quality silks, and are very well-blocked (that gives the scarf its shape). Also, most of them aren’t made in China. That being said, very few people would actually notice ANY of these details if you were wearing one of these scarves. By all means, if you see a beautiful foulard that you’ve fallen in love with its pattern, and you have the money to shell out to buy it, gift yourself. If you are just buying it because of who made it, you, my friend, are a label whore. There. I said it. When you fold the scarf up to put it on, half the time, you can’t even see the pattern anymore anyway! It turns into an abstract version of its former self.
Nordic Fairisle Scarf
Johnstons of Elgin $65
Extra Fine Merino

My recommendation is to head yourself over to your local TJ Maxx or Marshalls and start touching their selections. When your hands find something that feels good, see if you like what it looks like. Touch first; look second. That will ensure you don’t end up with something your cat wouldn’t even sit on. If you’re really that appalled by the discount store idea, go ahead and waste your money at the department stores. Nordstrom has a good selection, but be prepared to pay for it. An even better idea than the department store is to visit your local galleries. Fiber artists often have woven and dyed scarves for sale, especially at holiday times. The price may be on the higher end, but then it’s truly a piece of art.
My favorite way to wear a scarf, if only I could pull this off.
Before I leave you, I must address a pet peeve…. The infinity scarf. What about this scarf says infinity? It’s a circle. It’s a mobius. It’s a cowl. Can we stop calling it an infinity scarf already? It doesn’t make any sense. My shoes form an unending oval around my feet, but I don’t call them infinity shoes… infinity pant legs. Infinity underwear. Infinity socks. Infinity sleeves. Infinity…

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

They Should Call It Medio-crappy (mediocrity).

Doesn't that sound like the best thing ever? Nope.
            I happened across a great quote last week, or perhaps it happened upon me. “Everything popular is wrong.” Oscar Wilde. For something that sounds so negative, these words just filled my soul with tiny, prickly bubbles of joy. It was a confirmation of my philosophies about popular culture smashed into four words.
            For quite a while I have been living under the self-imposed manifesto that if a lot of people like something, then it is by no doubt mediocre. I have applied the concept of the Bell curve to modern culture. Nothing is free from condemnation: books, music, movies, politicians, food, whatever. As evidence I present to you Coldplay (Bore me a freakin’ river of tears), Memoirs of a Geisha (The book OR the movie, take your pick. They both sucked), Panera Bread Company, The DaVinci Code (Again, choose your pick with the medium), the movies of M Knight Shyamalan (did you see Unbreakable? I laughed so hard in that movie the person I went with thought I was having a seizure), and Jimmy Carter. Obviously there are plenty more things that could be added to this list, like Ugg boots.
            I find it hard to believe that there are many people out there who would say that any of those things are their favorite. “OH MAN PANERA IS MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT!” Really? You need to get out more. If Coldplay is your favorite band, just stop. We can’t be friends anymore. You see, I just don’t think it’s possible for something that pleases such a wide range of people to really be of amazing quality. It goes with the whole dumbing down of things to reach larger audiences. Bland things are more palatable. They are also less interesting.
            Life is too short for bland. Not only do things that challenge our beliefs or conflict with what we like provide spice, sometimes it’s just fun to be offended. South Park is offensive, and it’s great. Even my Mom likes it - especially the episode where the Native Americans try and infect the townspeople with SARS by giving them blankets they rubbed with naked Chinese men. Joan Rivers is hilarious, and the things she says are absolutely foul. The most offensive thing I’ve ever seen was Clerks 2. There’s a scene involving racial slurs that is by far one of my all time favorite movie moments. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe it does! But definitely not mediocre or average.
            I even take this concern over mediocre things so far as to worry when things I really like start to become more popular. It’s the whole Wal-Mart effect. Someone makes a great product, but it’s expensive. Wal-Mart recognizes that it’s great and wants to be able to sell it to their customers at a lower price tag. They pay the company to make a shittier version of the product at a lower cost that they can then sell at a lower price, and, all of a sudden it is no longer marketable for the company to make the higher end product. Luxury brands cash in on this effect too, except they don’t lower their prices. They just recognize that a lot of people want their product and figure out how to make some of it for less. My example for this would be the Louis Vuitton monogram handbags you see everywhere – that are made in China.  
            Bands sell out too, not just manufacturers. Pink Floyd got awful. I mean, REALLY awful. There may have been some personnel changes, but that aside, A Momentary Lapse of Reason may be one of the worst pop albums I have ever listened to. It wasn't a total flop either. How they got from Careful With That Axe Eugene to Learning To Fly (gag), I will never ever understand.  
            Is there a solution to this problem? Probably not. Most of the things I like don’t risk becoming popular. Sometimes it is comforting to know that you are odd. It would be nice, however, if we could train the population to demand better than mediocre. How? I’m open to suggestions.                         

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Fashion Friday!: Just Say No To Dressin' Like A Ho For Halloween

            I’ve been seeing lots of Christmas decorations in stores lately, so I know it must soon be time for Halloween. This has never been one of my favorite holidays. I have my mom to blame for that – it is her least favorite holiday. She hates it, perhaps even more than she hates the NE Patriots and more than I hate football. I have memories of handing out candy to other kids when they came dressed in costume and I quite vividly remember being petrified of being the victim of an egg attack.
            Candy, costumes, ghosts, rotten teenagers, Satan’s holiday (yup, thanks Mom) – these are all things that seem appropriate to associate with All Hallow’s Eve. So, when did this devilishly fun American Dental Association job insurance holiday unofficially become Dress Like A Prostitute Day for women over the age of 17? It’s a bit disturbing to me. It also often implies a gross misunderstanding of the idea of costuming. Putting on a costume is generally something you do to be something different, not to emphasize something you already are. Now that’s not to say that everyone who dresses like a ho-bag on Halloween is actually a slut, but the chances are pretty good.
            I always got a big kick out of watching the tramp parade bar crawl back in Bloomington, Indiana. The best part was their insistence on looking as slutty as possible no matter how cold it was. This actually was true most of the winter, so perhaps Halloween was just the official skin meeting frigid air break-in day. Coats ruin that undressed effect and they are a pain to carry around, so you definitely wouldn’t see any girls in prostitute costumes wearing them.
            One would think that people would be excited about the prospect of being able to dress up like ANYTHING. For one day, you can look like a complete lunatic and write it off. You could dress like a Christmas tree, Popeye the Sailor Man, Xena Warrior Princess, Chuck Norris, Ross Perot, a dining table, or RuPaul! The possibilities are endless. Why would you pass up an opportunity like that? You can dress like a prostitute any day of the week. If you do it right, you could even get paid for it.
            The other thing I’ve noticed about the slutty fill-in-the-blank (i.e. nurse, maid, Disney Princess, etc.) costumed ladies is that a good deal of them are not of the body type or age that any of us really want to see dressed that way. I’m not saying I want to see ANY women dressed that way, but you and I both know that all bodies are not created equal. And some butts and boobs just really need to stay under wraps. Literally. Cover that shit. All of it. Mummy! There’s another great idea for a costume.
            There are almost two weeks left until Halloween. I write this as an open plea to all the ladies out there, and men who dress like ladies too. Please, please, please, if you’re going to do the costume thing this year, put on a REAL costume. Be creative. Do something fun. Or do something boring. Put on a suit and be Pat Sajack. Or shove a stick up your ass, put on some ugly clothing, act like an elitist, and be my nasty Aunt Kate. I don’t care what or who you choose to emulate as long as it is not a prostitute. Those women out there have hard enough lives without you pretending to be one of them and undercutting their rates.