Hi.

September 13, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Posted in Me | 1 Comment

I still exist.

Since the end of July, I have been consumed by a new job (helping some great 11th grade teachers teach history more effectively), another new job (instructing 40 undergraduates in discussion sections for a U.S. history survey course), coursework, extracurricular activities, a cross-town move, and more. And so, as happens in times like these, my little blog has suffered.

I am not exactly sure when my life will calm down sufficiently to allow me to consume the requisite pop culture required to continue the same kinds of posts I typically put up here, but I hope it will be soon!

Sign me,
Graduate School Killed My Blog

One Word:

July 19, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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PINTEREST!

Have you joined Pinterest yet? After hearing about the site from virtually all of my favorite style bloggers, I finally made an account last week, and I am hooked!

Pinterest is a free site with a very simple concept: when you see an image you like anywhere on the internet, you click a bookmarklet labeled “Pin It” (I keep mine on my bookmark bar, but you can also simply bookmark it), add an optional caption or tag, and import the photo onto a “board” (basically a folder) on your Pinterest page. Right now I have a board for DIY ideas, recipes, style ideas, and wedding inspiration (since J. and I are getting married next year!). There’s a social media aspect to the site too, so you can “follow” other peoples’ boards, and friends can follow your boards, too. Finally, the photos are all sourced, which is great for attribution and for finding your way back to the original content later!

Aesthetically, I really like the way the images are laid out on each page; the screenshot above gives a sense of the boards’ layout, with each photo stacked up in columns with others on that board. (This screenshot is actually of the homepage, but the boards share the same layout.) My only gripe with Pinterest is actually quite minimal: since the site currently requires members to make accounts through their Facebook or Twitter account, I was automatically forced to “follow” the boards of every Facebook friend I have who has a Pinterest account, which is totally awkward! I wish the system was opt-in instead of opt-out.

I would definitely recommend Pinterest to anyone who spends a lot of time on blogs, since so far I find Pinterest to be better than bookmarks and screenshots for keeping my ideas together. Since I am in the very early stages of wedding planning, I especially like how it is helping me keep track of wedding inspiration — for example, I love being able to see all the invitation designs I like side-by-side! Plus, unlike screenshots (which I had been using before), I never have to worry about forgetting which website sells an invitation I like, since Pinterest images always link back to the original content.

Right now, Pinterest requires folks to request an invite, which you can do here. But before you join, be forewarned: if you start wading into the site’s most popular boards, Pinterest can be a total time suck. But the most awesome, stylist, and inspirational time suck you’ve ever been in!

[ screenshot from Pinterest. This is probably obvious, since my little corner of the internet is probably read by all of six people, but I do not work for Pinterest, and they did not compensate me in any way for this post. I’m just spreading the good word about a site I love! ]

It’s Back! And I’m Terrified

June 30, 2011 at 11:17 am | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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When this image appeared in my inbox the other day, I got a little bit frightened.

The Really Big Chicken Sandwich Combo (RBCSC) — its $3.99 price tag too irresistible on a night a few months ago when I was eating alone and did not feel like cooking — was the fast food meal that made me realize I wasn’t a kid anymore, and thus couldn’t eat in the same way without paying an immediate physical price. In this case, the price was chest pains and difficulty breathing within twenty minutes of finishing the meal.

It’s not like I’m someone who hadn’t eaten any fast food for five years, and then decided to gorge myself on an absurdly large meal. Although I do eat real food most of the time, I occasionally jones for chicken nuggets, or curly fries, or a Dr. Pepper, and Jack in the Box is usually my destination when these cravings strike. {This is probably because (a) there is a location about 8 minutes away from my apartment, and (b) it was the fast food indulgence of my youth, so there’s a nostalgia factor there, too.} So while my fast food consumption is not a common occurrence, it’s not exactly rare, either, though I usually try to limit myself to one of the three combo items (sandwich OR fries OR soda) at a time so my stomach doesn’t feel like I consumed a rock afterwards.

But on the fatal RBCSC day, I threw caution (and good sense, and experience) to the wind, and ate fries AND a soda AND two chicken patties at the same time. And I paid for it dearly, by feeling as though I were about to have a heart attack.

So let my experience be a cautionary tale: Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the siren song of a $3.99 price tag. Approach the RBSCS with caution!

[ screenshot from Jack in the Box email ]

Pet Peeve of the Moment

June 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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If I never hear the phrase “I’m not a feminist, but…” again, I will be very happy.

“Good” Reads

June 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment

The other day I heard about a site called Good Reads, which seems to function like social networking for the literary minded: you can flag books you’ve read and books you’d like to read, get book recommendations from friends, see what other people are reading, make lists of books by theme, etc. When I scrolled down the home page, I noticed something a bit peculiar in their “Popular Lists” section:

Four of the five titles that made the “Best Books Ever” list are also included in the “Worst Books of All Time” list. Unsurprisingly — considering how divisive the series can be — all four titles are from the Twilight series. Perhaps this wasn’t an accident, though: with lists that include more than three-thousand titles each (Best Books includes THIRTEEN THOUSAND TITLES), perhaps the web dude in charge of choosing five covers to represent each list decided to have a bit of fun with juxtaposition. Lulz for everyone!

[ screenshot from Good Reads ]

Drag Race, Gender, & Alexis Mateo’s Towel

May 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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It’s probably no surprise that RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of my favorite TV shows of all time — certainly my favorite non-scripted show. For me, its appeal goes beyond the fact that it’s a competition (like America’s Next Top Model or Project Runway, two of my other favorites) or that it features drag queens (another one of my favorite things). Drag Race takes a successful reality TV model — contestants eliminated week by week, a charismatic host, a zany panel of judges, wacky and absurd challenges, big personalities and big drama among the participants — and adds an irresistible coating of camp.

I can’t exactly explain why I find camp so appealing. It may be because, in a pop culture so saturated with people taking themselves so damn seriously (here’s looking at you, hipsters), I find the self-awareness of camp to be totally endearing. Camp is all about irony infused with humor and allusion — taking something serious and making it so over-the-top that it becomes ridiculous! When RuPaul dares the bottom two contestants on Drag Race to “Lip-sync for your LIFE,” she’s mocking the life-or-death stakes conveyed seriously by other reality shows. When she commands the queens to demonstrate “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent,” she’s clearly in-referencing the word cunt.

An additional serious (and sacred) convention that camp can upend is the gender binary; this is particularly evident in drag. I know this is something I’ve talked about before, but another reason I love Drag Race, and drag in general (big ups, Judith Butler!), is for the way it showcases gender subversion and performance. This was perhaps never truer than when the Season 3 title was handed to Raja, a queen who deliberately skirted the boundary between masculine and feminine gender presentation. Raja’s particular form of drag became a subject of contention during the season’s final episode, when the judges debated whether her genderfuck style was more worthy of the title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar” than Alexis Mateo’s more conventionally-feminine gender performance. Ultimately, Raja won the title, giving weight to the notion that drag is not just about men trying to look like women; rather, it can also be about exploring, mocking, and even rejecting gender norms as they exist in contemporary culture.

This long preamble about camp and gender performance is all basically in service of this one photo, which — despite my appreciation for the gender politics at play in drag — still made me laugh. (Translation: I don’t want you to think I’m an ignorant asshole when you read the rest of this post!)

This is a photo Alexis Mateo, the third runner-up in Season 3, drying herself off after being dunked in a dunk tank as part of a challenge:

It’s like homegirl knew she was supposed to wear a towel on her head the way ladies do, but no one ever taught her how to do it correctly. The towel’s supposed to wrap up your hair, Alexis, not just sit on top of your head like a hat! And here’s where the gender preamble comes into play: BEING A LADY: UR DOIN IT RONG.

[ screenshot from LogoTV ]

Berkeley on your TV Screen

May 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | 2 Comments
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So a few weeks ago I was watching Bones on Hulu, and I noticed a scene that looked familiar:

It was UC Berkeley’s Valley Life Sciences Building! (Used as an establishing shot for a university in upstate New York, that is.)

I was pretty sure from the moment I paused the video that this was, in fact, a shot of UC Berkeley, but just to be sure I started Googling for an image of the building from a similar angle to confirm my hunch. It didn’t take long, for on the first page of Google Image hits I saw this image, which looked eerily familiar:

Hmm… same building, same angle, same trees, same water spot on the ground (next to the bicyclist in the second image)… the only difference appeared to be the people. And yet this second image is from the 1994 movie Junior starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film took place in San Francisco and Berkeley, and used many local buildings and landscapes in its filming.

But the similarity between these two images, one used in a 1994 film and the other in a 2011 television show, is still a mystery to me. Do production companies just have hours of stock “establish-the-scene” footage that editors can include in their films/shows? Did the Bones folks take footage from 1994 and Photoshop new people into the scene? INQUIRING MINDS, etc.

[ screenshot from Hulu; image from Film in America ]

Baseball Math

April 9, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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Take notes, Sergio Romo & Ryan Franklin. It’s not like you’re about to fight the Civil War or anything…

 

[ images from MLBlogs and Yahoo Sports ]

An odd coincidence

April 6, 2011 at 10:47 am | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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Did you know that Wikipedia and White House Black Market share a logo on your browser? Random! Makes me wonder which company had it first…

To the Wayback Machine!

According to the Internet Archive, the earliest incidence of the White House Black Market site, complete with the “W” in the same font as it is currently, is August 2005. Wikipedia has been using their logo at least since December 2003. Now, White House Black Market surely existed as a brick-and-mortar shop before they had a web presence, and whether Wikipedia was wide-spread enough for a website designer to notice the similarity between the logos in 2005 is up for debate. Still, it is a funny coincidence!

[ screenshot from my Chrome browser ]

Music for a Grey Day: A Weather-Themed Playlist

March 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment

Last Saturday I drove & rode shotgun (read: mostly rode shotgun) for a seven hour trip that took us through rain, snow, sleet, and hail. It only seemed appropriate that the music we listened to should reflect our circumstances, so I started working on a playlist to get us through the drive. The theme? Songs About Weather.

To assemble this playlist, I went through my entire iPod to find every single weather-related song I had (*). Some of these songs are, really, a stretch to fit into the theme (e.g. “Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake) while others have titles that seem perfect but subject matters entirely unrelated (“Hurricane” by Bob Dylan is the prime example). Nevertheless, I am pretty happy with how this playlist turned out. Check out what I came up with after the jump!

(*) When it played in the car it was alphabetized by song title, but for my own amusement I reordered it here to reflect a progression of weather from wind, to rain, to sunshine.

Continue Reading Music for a Grey Day: A Weather-Themed Playlist…

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