Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!: Things That Make You Go EW

           Have you ever felt the urge to dress like you’ve been “human trafficked?” No? Are you sure? Why, you ask? One of my friends sent me a link to a website that I wish I didn’t know existed. It used to be that if people/girls wanted to dress really out there or “punk” they’d mess up their own clothes or do something different. When did “punk” become a commercial thing? It’s like the whole “hipster” phenomenon – being different just like everyone else.
            At they have everything from latex garments to studded dresses to bodysuits with Unicorns in sandwiches on them. Mmmhmmm… that last one is called “Blood is the new black.” (It's probably what Kim Jong-un tells his people to answer why there are no unicorns in America). EEW! Gross! This Hellerina dress costs $175. So, now, not only is it 
mainstream to be a studded, trashy ho, it’s EXPENSIVE!!! I can’t really give this crap any more free press and feel good about myself, so you can go explore on your own. While they do have a couple cool pairs of socks, I just find myself staring horrified, wondering who would let their daughter wear this stuff, and what girl of legal consenting age would think it appropriate to leave her house in these clothes. (And who can afford to?!) I’m all for being free to wear whatever you want, but if you are walking around with a cut off tank top that says TRASH across your hooters and super short shorts with your ass cheeks hanging out, you might as well be wearing a flashing neon sign that says “Please assault me,” or “$10!!!” SHIVER.
            If this is too much for you, perhaps you will be less disturbed by these creepy Easter bunny photos…I happen to think they are hilarious. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just Give Them What They Want

High School BAND. YES!!!!!
           Back when all of the financial upheaval started in the orchestras at the beginning of the orchestra performance season I wrote myself a blog post. It went something along the lines of “People in hard labor jobs are making big financial sacrifices right now; there is NO market for classical music anymore; we need to make some sacrifices too.” At the behest of an extremely wise friend, I sat on it and didn’t publish it. As I’ve watched all of these strike and lockout situations unfold, I’ve been amazed at some of the ridiculous demands of some musicians and equally amazed at the even more ridiculous demands of some of their administrators (who across the board seem to be giving themselves raises, JUST LIKE THE GOVERNMENT). Having a good friend who worked as an executive director of an orchestra, quite thanklessly, I must add, I feel able to see both sides. 
           The people I am most amazed at, however, are not musicians AT ALL! Since the San Francisco Symphony has gone on strike, things have declined into a state of ugly that is beyond comprehension. People with NO BUSINESS commenting on the situation, all of a sudden, feel qualified to judge the members of these arts organizations – equating them with overpaid “high school students” and “sulky” people who just “rehearse, play, and go home.” It’s offensive and demeaning, to say the very least.
            I do have a suggestion for a solution. Not a solution to the orchestra strike. That, I can’t fix. My solution is to the problem of these self-proclaimed “geniuses” - it says so right above the picture on Mr. Anthony Alfidi’s blog – believing themselves qualified to offer commentary on the symphony strikes, thinking the musicians should cower back, heads between knees, grateful to be paid at all. Since Alfidi and Ms. Manuela Hoelterhoff, who seems so bitter that I really hope she has a psychiatrist on call, see no difference between high school musicians and professionals, I propose that they be cut off from access to professional recordings. Not just classical music, oh no. All professional recordings, and anything recorded by professional sound engineers. Since we’re all “union thugs in tuxedos,” why don't we do them a favor and just disappear – a bit like the plot of the film A Day Without A Mexican (a satirical commentary on the Mexican population’s impact on the economy of California)? No more radio for them. No more Kelly Clarkson. No more Yo Yo Ma. No more SF Symphony. No more NY Phil. No more music. If they want to hear music, they can go to their local high school band and choir concerts and that’s it. It’s all the same after all, isn’t it?
Mr. Alfidi said if Renee Fleming wouldn’t break the picket line he’d play the kazoo instead – so I’m sure all of his friends who have season tickets to the symphony would be happy to also give up their professional quality music to listen to him play the kazoo as well. They can go with him to the high school concerts too. All of Mr. Alfidi’s and Ms. Hoelterhoff’s friends and colleagues shall also be cut off from the music. Guilt by association. NO MORE MUSIC. OH and DON’T FORGET THE MOVIES. You can have high school kids play your movie scores too! For the few arts patrons who appreciate the difference in quality between amateur and professional, there can be special headsets at the movie theatres that have the real music. OOOH I just can’t wait to listen to my friends’ students rerecord the scores to all of the Star Wars films. It’s going to sound AMAZING with a capital F! I can hear it now. The Imperial March with 9th grade brass players in high definition surround sound. Sign me up for some of that.  
            Let’s not stop there. I’m sure Mr. Alfidi’s view on the “disgusting greed” of the SF Symphony’s musicians spreads to visual artists as well. (How DARE those musicians want health care benefits? Especially after one of their own just recently passed away of a brain hemorrhage (rest in peace Mr. Bennett) - the nerve). Since he thinks the triangle doesn’t look that difficult to play, you know he’s one of those guys who goes to a museum and looks at a Jackson Pollack and says “I could paint that – it’s just paint splatter.” Let’s deny him, and his friends, access to museums as well. They don’t need to look at art. They can paint their own crap to put on the walls. Why pay money to go look at something they could do themselves with finger paint? What a waste, right? The museums would be better filled with offices so let’s just not let them into the museums. It’s for their own good. It will save them the annoyance of having to look at wasted money on the walls.
            Needless to say, they will also be cut off from the ballet, the opera, and the theatre. That’s what they want though, isn’t it? Alfidi says himself that there are fewer ticket sales. In businessmen’s language, fewer ticket sales mean that there’s less of a market. So, we might as well just shut everything down. Forget that it’s an art form we’re dealing with and run it JUST LIKE A BUSINESS. Forget that it’s a non-profit organization. No one needs the arts. Artists are selfish. We can replace them all with talented high school musicians and painters. Let’s make sweeping ignorant generalizations about things we know little about. While we’re at it, we can go ahead and replace all of Mr. Alfidi’s employees with middle school educated immigrant farmers. They know how to invest in the land with sustainable farming techniques. And I’m sure they are just as capable at pulling numbers off of the internet in an attempt to make people think they are intelligent (Yes, Mr. Alfidi, I am calling your bluff. Just because you founded a company doesn’t mean there aren’t many people, including musicians, out there with IQs much higher than yours). That should translate well enough into capital investments right? 

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!: Take Me To Your Cleaner

Washing Machines on the street in Utrecht

           NASA has robots roaming Mars. There are scientists who think they may have found the lost city of Atlantis by using fancy tools to look at the gases underneath the soil in Spain. And even before all of this technology, ancient civilizations figured out how to predict all kinds of things using the stars and planets. So, WHY can’t all of my clothes be washed in the washing machine and tossed in the dryer?
            I don’t feel that these are complicated or out of line requests. Wash, dry. I find that doing laundry has become SUCH a production. I have my gym clothes, EASY. Wash cold, tumble dry low (THANK YOU, Lululemon and other brands who I just don’t care to follow the instructions). And then I generally have one load of wash warm, tumble dry low. And then things start to get complicated. I have all of this stuff that can’t just be cleaned. I have pajamas (!) that can’t go in the dryer. I have undergarments that can’t go in the dryer. I have sweaters that can’t go in the dryer. I have concert attire that can’t go in the dryer. I have all kinds of crap from Anthropologie that can’t go in the dryer – they should change their name to Anthropo-line-dry. Hell, half of it isn't even supposed to go in the washing machine, but I don't have time for HAND WASHING. That stuff tends to sit at the bottom of my hamper until I feel like dealing with hang dry, line dry, tripping over the drying rack (months). PAJAMAS that you can’t dry. That’s just not practical. And of course, I never thought to look at the labels before I got them home. This doesn’t even include all of the things that can’t go in the dryer because I have dribbled food on them and have to wash them multiple times to make sure I’ve gotten the stains out before I stick the garment in the dryer and permanently cook the stain into the clothing.
            THEN there’s the dry cleaning. I have literally had things that didn’t get worn for an entire year because I didn’t want to pay to get them dry-cleaned. WHO can afford dry cleaning? These highway robbers don’t even publish their price lists anywhere online. It’s like $15, at least, to get a dress cleaned. $9 for a women’s shirt. And it costs more to have a women’s dress shirt cleaned than a men’s dress shirt. What’s that all about? You can’t fool them either. I think that’s why men’s and women’s shirts button on the opposite sides, JUST so the dry cleaners know how much to charge. I once had a small silk scarf cleaned. $6!!! And good heavens, we had to have the velvet quilt on my bed dry-cleaned after an unfortunate Dozer-the-cat-accidentally-got-stuck-in-my-room-without-litter-box-and-got-scared-until-shitless incident over the summer. That cost a fortune.
So, you can imagine how much dry-cleaning piles up if I can’t even bring myself to wash things I can’t stick in the dryer. A few months back I got a coupon to Zoots where I could get every item cleaned for $2.50. I really took them to the cleaners with that one. I think I had 50 things cleaned in one lump. It’s also gotten to the point that I just don’t wear the things I know I won’t be able to wash. Since then, I’ve made a pact with myself to try not to buy any more clothing that can’t go in the washing machine. And if it’s something that’s going to be washed a lot, it needs to be dryer friendly too. Supposedly, there is a difference between things that say Dry Clean and “Dry Clean Only.” As in, if there's no "only" it's just a suggestion. I have yet to test it out. I’ve heard that Dryel stuff doesn’t work so great. People wore wool sweaters long before dry-cleaners existed though, so there must be a way around this nonsense.
Built in textured cleaning machine. 
Maybe there’s a way I could employ my cat to help with cleaning. He seems to stay quite shiny, soft, and odorless without ever coming in contact with any kind of soap or running water. It’s like a natural dry-cleaning of sorts. And he has so much down time – I’m watching him sleep as I write this. If I could only train him to just lick all of my clothing clean, it would save me so much effort and money. Since he seems to want to eat pretty much anything and everything, he’d probably be pretty great with those pesky food stains too….

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Pig Farm Effect

Photo borrowed from blog at Thirty One Bits

           I had a gig this past weekend (WOOHOO break out the champagne a WORKING MUSICIAN! Too bad champagne gives me a headache, unless you buy Veuve-Cliquot … on a side note, does anyone have one of those cool plastic refrigerator boxes that those bottles come in? I’ve been coveting one of those for a while). We were playing Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, the best one, honestly. It gets quite loud several times and I was playing fourth horn, which means that I was sitting next to the timpani. I think nothing of this. The timpanist, who has obviously had people complain about his volume levels before, engaged me to say that he was sorry because he was going to have some really loud notes and he wasn’t sure what I was going to do. “Maybe we can get a music stand to stick in between or something.” I said it wasn’t a big deal and he shouldn’t worry, which was the truth. I play one of the loudest instruments in the orchestra. I’ve had my hearing tested fairly recently and it’s fine. I’m not concerned. I like loud. I like excitement. I’m a brass player. I chose to be a musician. If I didn’t want to deal with LOUD, I wouldn’t have picked ORCHESTRAL MUSICIAN as a career path. At the very least, I would not have picked the back row. 
            My mom has a saying. “It’s the whole pig farm thing – you can’t move into a house next door to a pig farm and then complain about the smell.” Right? The world seems to have gotten upside down about which things they should try to change and which things they shouldn’t. There are a BUTTLOAD of things in the world that need to change. Legitimate issues that could really use our attention, such as starving children in Kenya, women who have virtually no rights in parts of the middle east, gay people having to go into hiding in Russia lest children might SEE them, possible runs on the banks in Cyprus because their government is thinking about just taking their money.  People seem way more interested in focusing on things that aren’t going to change, such as institutions, people other than themselves, and things that have already happened.  
At the forefront of the news headlines, we have a new Pope! I’m pretty excited about this guy because he seems like a real character. He’s already made a break for it and escaped his security detail so that he could not go out and party, but go to church. I find that immensely entertaining. Sneaking out to go to church. When you’re the Pope. Anyways, it seems that many people are upset about this new Pope because he is conservative and believes in the doctrine of the Catholic church (i.e. doesn’t think there should be female priests, isn’t going to vote for gay marriage, celebrates Mariahimmelfahrt – that’s my favorite Catholic holiday (in German) – because how much fun is that to say? In English it’s just Mary’s Assumption, not so exciting).
            So… the Pope believes in the doctrine of the religion he is supposed to be the head honcho of. I’m sorry, I don’t see a problem. Do I think women should be priests? I don’t know. Do I think gay marriage should be legal? YES. Guess what. I’M NOT CATHOLIC! If you don’t like the tenets of the church, LEAVE! I was brought up in a Methodist church. I didn’t like it. I stopped going to that one too!!! There are a host of religions out there to choose from. So why would you pick one that you don’t agree with, and then expect it to change to meet your needs? Pig farm. Next thing you know people are going to start saying Buddha needs to be portrayed as thinner because he’s setting a bad dietary example. Or maybe we should get the Hindi to remove the extra limbs from their deities so as not to exclude amputees.
            People have this way of wanting to be a part of something and not wanting what goes along with it. They want what their neighbor has but with special treatment. Suzie wants to play on the boys’ football team instead of the girls’ one, but she wants her own bus to the away games because the boys smell bad. Nick wants to live in an apartment with other people so he doesn’t have to pay as much, but doesn’t ever want to have to clean the bathroom because he’s just too good for that. Becky wants to have a full-time job and make money over the summer, but she thinks she should be able to take off whenever she wants without notice because summers are for hanging out with friends!
            These are strange times we live in here in America. Everyone feels entitled to his slice of something. I’m not exactly sure what that something is… There are things out there that aren’t a matter of majority rules. If you are not forced to be in a particular situation, and you CHOOSE to stay in it, don’t expect the situation to mold itself to your needs. That just isn’t how life works. When was the last time you saw a penguin fly to the desert and expect the ocean to flood it so it could swim around? Please. I think the real reason that people pretend they want to change situations they have chosen to be in is because people like to complain. I have a saying of my own, “People don’t want to try and change things that could actually change, because then they would have to do real work.” 

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!:Lululemon-Taking Advantage of Sweaty Girls Everywhere

           Even when you’re doing something good for yourself, the system finds a way to prey on you. You’ve finally taken some control. You’ve decided you don’t want to take up two seats on the airplane anymore. You’ve decided you don’t want to be that bony, scrawny weak girl who can’t pick up straw wrappers without throwing her back out. You’ve decided that rather than just drinking your problems away with red wine, it might also be beneficial to add some cardiovascular exercise in to really make a dent in that work-related anger (but hopefully before you have the red wine, because if you run while inebriated, there are sure to be some tipsy treadmill injuries). You’ve done it. You are getting healthy and you think you have a better handle on your life. Until that moment – the moment when you walk into and discover Lululemon – the healthy woman’s crack habit.
Look how HAPPY she is in that $68 running shirt!
            Exercise-wear is kind of a funny branch of “fashion.” I am really of the mindset that I don’t care what I look like when I am exercising. Quite honestly, if I am really working hard, I am going to be sweating bullets, and no matter what you wear, you can’t make that attractive. I want to be comfortable when I work out. I always got a big kick out of the sorority girls at the fancy gym at my alma mater. They would have on matching exercise outfits and lots of makeup. They’d come up to the floor with the indoor track and the weight machines and the treadmills. And then, they would walk around. Yes, that’s it. They would just walk around. After a rigorous meander around and checking of themselves out in the mirrors they would stop at the Smoothie King stand on the way out of the gym for a “healthy” fruit smoothie for dinner (these things were really about 1500 calories of pure sugar… but very tasty).
             Part of being comfortable is not being disgusted by your own odor. When you’re trying to exercise and you think the person next to you smells like rotten cheese stepped on by unwashed feet and you hastily either move to another machine or try to run away from them, but then discover that the smell follows you and you just can’t get away from it, it’s a pretty distressing experience. This can happen if you work out in the same old raggedy t-shirts over and over. They only get clean so many times before they stop getting clean. They make these cool fabrics now that are bacteria and smell resistant. 
            I used to buy all of my exercise clothing at TJMaxx. It’s SO much cheaper there. And to be honest, I buy almost everything at TJMaxx. I even buy coffee at TJMaxx. I discovered some packaged German coffee from my favorite Munich food house one day and nearly flew through the roof with excitement. I was going to just get one or two boxes, as any normal person would. And then when I used it I would come back and get more. The crazy in me, however, heard some little German ladies over by the picture frames, and I started to lose it and thought “What if those little German ladies discover that there’s Dallmayr coffee on those shelves? What if they buy the rest of the Dallmayr coffee? I can’t let that happen.” I fast-walked over to the food aisle and stacked my arms full with 7 boxes of coffee and made a break for the cash register. Needless to say, I can find anything I want at this establishment. EXCEPT long torso-ed workout shirts. Do you know what irritates the bejesus out of me? Bare midriffs. And, having to pull my shirt down to cover my belly button while I am trying to exercise is annoying. I thought I was saving myself a lot of money buying all of my workout gear at discount prices, but the shirts I got were not saving me any headaches.
Richard Simmons might be on drugs too,
but please don't dress like him to come
go to the gym.
            There’s this funny rationalization that starts to happen when you are buying things that are related to good habits – and this is why I liken Lululemon to a crack habit. If I am buying clothes to wear to the gym to exercise, which is a healthy productive habit, it seems like it is a completely reasonable expense (I believe a logical person may consider this irrational). I justify these purchases in the same way I justify the purchase of any book that will help to make me wiser, more well read, or better educated (are you starting to understand why I am broke?). Since I needed shirts that would not irritate me while I exercise, I went to Lululemon to see what all the fuss was about. OF COURSE, they have LONG shirts for people with LONG torsos and wouldn’t you know it? They are also comfortable, soft, AND they are snug enough to stay put while you move around. This was just the beginning.
            One $42 racerback tank (COUGH GAG SPUTTER) was all it took. It was like the gateway top to more expensive, more luxurious, extra comfortable, want-to-live-in clothes. I even bought one fuzzy sweatshirt type thing at Christmas time (it was a present to myself) with the logic that since it was SO comfortable, I would want to wear it so much that it would make me go to more ashtanga yoga classes in the winter time, just so I could put it on afterwards. ? This is how they rope you in. They get you to buy one long torso racerback tank and all of a sudden, you want shorts, and sweatshirts, and cropped pants, and long pants, and hooded things, and tee shirts, and all kinds of things at INSANELY RIDICULOUS prices. What’s up with your prices, Lulu? Your product is made in Southeast Asia, not Canada! There’s no reason it should cost so much.
Look at those jugs bounce!
            While we’re on to the questions, Lulu – I’ve been pushed to ask you why you can’t come out with any suitable sports bras for chesty girls. You had some and then you discontinued them. All the ladies want is something that lifts and separates, instead of smashing and uniboobing. Do you have something against ladies with bosoms exercising? They have just as much a right to run as anyone else. I know it’s not a chauvinistic oppression in the works – if that were the case Baywatch never would have lasted and no one would know who Pamela Anderson was.