Friday, July 30, 2010

All it takes is one guy to make everybody look bad

You know, I’m not sure about this whole WikiLeaks thing. I believe in freedom of information and transparency. The people have a right to know. But I’m struggling with them not being very transparent themselves about their fact-checking. Turns out there can be a pretty fine line between raving paranoiac and crusading whistle blower.

What I do know is that this dude would get way more respect if he got himself a decent haircut. I stand on my record as a supporter of the silver fox brigade. But this guy’s $2 hack job is just not cutting it. So to speak. Really, how do you expect people to listen to you when you look like the villain in a Harry Potter movie? And not “the” villain. Just “a” villain. Some random flunky who gets backhanded by the real villain because he brought eye of newt instead of eye of toad.

Seriously. Have some pride, man. Walk into any barber shop and ask for the Anderson Cooper.

The Magic Trick

A clip Washington Gardener sent me ( how to look pretty got me thinking. The girl referred to herself as “butt ugly” (which I hope she was joking about; she was actually a pretty, if not stunning, girl next door type; I hope she was just making a point and is not running around with horribly damaged self-esteem). And she uses all the makeup tricks, fried blond hair, ho gear and dancing/mating rituals that you’d see in any bar in America on a Friday night. Your basic club chick. And one that most red-blooded frat boys would call “hot.”

And that’s the point really. Humans have certain triggers on what we find attractive: big eyes, full lips, clear skin. And with a minimum of effort, those can all be faked. Eyeliner, lipstick, and foundation. And it really depends on how willing you are to apply any or all of those 3 that will effect how far you fake will fool people. A fairly average girl who is willing to use a trowel to apply her makeup can actually conform to the ideal closer than a much prettier girl sans makeup.

There’s your key word: conform. Because pretty isn’t about an aesthetic any more. It’s a test to see how willing you are to conform to a social standard. You have what you’re given. But you can make up miles in the attractiveness race by applying all the millions of little helpers the cosmetics industry has given us. And the most willing among us will go a step farther than that and have permanent surgical enhancement, rather than a swipe of lip gloss. And as all those “Stars Without Makeup” spreads in the tabs have shown us, even the genetically blessed will resort to enhancement to make sure they’ve hit all those little triggers. Yes, Angelina Jolie is gorgeous. But when was the last time you saw her on a red carpet without eyeliner? Maybe never.

And let’s face it, if makeup was really about expressing yourself, you’d see a lot more people walking around with purple swirls or little rainbows painted on their faces. It’s not a coincidence that no matter what the current color trend, eyebrow shape or application invention, it always boils down to pretty much the same thing: big eyes, full lips, clear skin.

I’m not railing against the standard. I’m not even railing against the cosmetics. If you weren’t beautiful, and you feel you need to be, fake it until you make it. I’m not much for conformity, but more power to ya. What I am once again surprisingly surprised at how easy humans are too fool. And how happily willing we are to be fooled.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's a crazy idea . . . but it just might work!

I’ve been thinking I’m going to start calling myself Lucky. I know it’s kind of pretentious to give yourself a nickname (see any cast member on the Jersey Shore for evidence). And given that a lightning strike took out my TV, my cable box and my fake fireplace, and possibly a ceiling fan (the jury is still out on that one), and I’m 41 years old and still haven’t gotten my life figured out yet, “lucky” may not exactly be the right word.

But I have a friend who knew a woman who referred to herself as “Pretty Helen.” How’s that for ballsy? As in, “I said to myself, “Pretty Helen” . . .” Bananas? Possibly. But I don’t even know this woman, and I think of her as Pretty Helen, so obviously it worked.

I don’t know, I could use a little karmic change. Something to put that positive vibe out there. See it, be it. How many people do I know that seem to fall in to manure and come out smelling like a rose, just because they think that’s what should happen. And also, I’ve been totally obsessed with lucky charms lately. Show me anything with a 4-leaf clover, horseshoe, wish bone, or anything remotely lucky on it, and I’m buying it. Do I really need an 8th green t-shirt? No. But it’s got a shamrock on it!

Now, I’m not really sure how one goes about giving oneself a nickname. Other than walking around saying things like “I said to myself, Lucky . . . I call myself, Lucky.” Which is, yeah, bananas. Maybe join a sports team so that I can get “LUCKY” on the back of my shirt. Too bad I didn’t think of this before I started ushering at the Performing Arts Center. I coulda scored a name tag and thousands of strangers who would think that really was my name.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ready for your close-up?

Well, looks like I’m basically getting a month off from ushering at the Performing Arts Center. I guess it’s a good thing. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff at home that I’ve let slide while I was gallivanting off to see free shows. Clean the pantry or Spring Awakening? Weed out my closet or Death of a Salesman? Dust the mantle or see Superman? Hmmmmm.

So, for the wellbeing of my home, it’s actually a good thing. But going cold turkey is going to be tough. I’ve had a pretty steady source of the good stuff for over 6 months. And now, nothing. I may have to start forcing my friends to perform musicals in my living room.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Did we buy tickets for the Shakespeare Festival or the GUN show

So, Saturday night, by the skin of my teeth, I make it in to see the last performance of Cymbeline from Dallas Shakespeare. Mo had given it a good review. And, for a Shakespeare geek, it’s a rare chance to see one of the less-performed plays.

And there’s a reason why it’s a less-performed play. If this was the only thing ol’ Shakey Bill had written, I would have been going to the Dallas Christopher Marlow festival. By and large, this play is a mess. Pure melodrama, with too many subplots, too many people in disguise, too many big reveals. Though in a time where plot twists are the staple crop of shows like Desperate Housewives and Mad Men, Cymbeline has a shot at, if not captivating a modern audience, at least being accepted for the oddball charmer that it is. Plus, there are a few lines that are the eloquent brilliance that you expect from Shakespeare. I won’t even try to explain the story. Just imagine taking one plot line from every other Shakespeare play, put it in the blender, and add a guy in an eagle costume flapping around the stage (seriously).

The cast was pretty much terrific. Nearly all the major characters were at least competent with the dialogue, some even damn good. And they played this loopy story balls-to-the-wall. Anything less than complete sincerity and the show would have dissolved into parody. The production values were a little spotty. All the male characters were wearing some version of jeans throughout the play, which was otherwise period costume. And there was a lot of duck blind camouflage used to create the outdoor effect. Little cheesy looking. But the money is getting a little tight in the arts these days, so you make do with what ya got.

I can tell you one place they could have saved some dough though. Mo had warned me there was a shirtless scene. And I thought it would be one the young brothers. But then the guy playing Posthumous (yes, Posthumous, it’s that kind of play) pulls of his shirt. Let me tell you, any Shakespeare festival that has screaming women in the audience can count itself a success. Actually, I exaggerate. They weren’t actually screaming. It was more like an “Eeeeeeee!” squeal. Accompanied by things like “Damn!” (that was me) and “Look at those abs!” Any money spent on buying shirts for him was entirely wasted. And he wasn’t just hunktastic. He actually was able to do Shakespeare dialogue too. Maybe not the best I’ve ever heard live (which was probably Benedick over at TCU this summer), but pretty damn good. And he pulled of swordfight choreography. There was a point where he was shirtless, sweaty and manacled. I think I may need to make a donation to Shakespeare Dallas. The $10 ticket price was just not sufficient to cover the happy little place in my memory that image will make for a good long time. Yowza. And when, at the end, he literally sweeps his wife off her feet for a big kiss . . . sigh. Very satisfactory.

TIME: Quotes of the Day