Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Do I Do Now?

I am devastated by the election results and have been wallowing for two days feeling helpless.  However, because of my immense privilege, a Trump presidency with a Republican Congress and the possibility of pro-life religious right Supreme Court judges won't have the potential to affect me as drastically as it might for so many other people who don't have my privileges (race, class, geography, gender identity, education, etc.).  I am especially disappointed by the knowledge that so many other educated white women still voted for Trump.  Hillary Clinton won the popular vote largely thanks to women of color.  If we couldn't do enough during the election itself, maybe there is more that we could do now.  I can see that a lot of us feel like we need to do something with all of this negative energy and turn it into action, but it's hard to know where to start.  Here are some ways that I plan to take advantage of my privilege so that other people can benefit from it.  Maybe these are things that you can do too.

1.  If you have some extra money, donate.  A lot of people have already posted the suggestion of donating to Planned Parenthood, and that is a good start.  There are several organizations and causes that will also be helpful to marginalized groups, such as the ACLU, HRC, Happy Hippie Foundation (but if you don't like Miley Cyrus you can find a local LGBT community center to donate to instead), and if you know of other ideas, post them in the comments!  Other ways to help financially at an individual level might be to support a transgender person's GoFundMe account so that they can get surgery or pay for hormone therapy as soon as possible (if they plan to).  The same goes for people with disabilities who may need medical care or specialized housing.  Public services for all kinds of people may be cut in the next few years, and private support could make the difference in someone's quality of life.

2. If you know people who feel unsafe right now, keep them company.  Offer to walk or ride with them to  places where they need to go, or sit with them if necessary.  I know it's not possible for everyone, but I'm willing to let friends crash in my spare room or on my couch if they don't feel safe or comfortable in their living situation anymore.  If you have a car and some extra time, drive people places so they don't have to walk or take public transportation at night if they've been getting harassed.  On that note, the illustrator Maeril made this handy guide for how to help someone through an incident of street harassment if you see it happening (the artist used the case of Islamophobic harassment, but it could work for any situation).

3. If you have a useful skill or degree, share it!  If you're a lawyer, there is a lot you can do for people who need quick advice on how to get/extend a visa, stay (or get) married, or change their names before the possibility of those rights/legal statuses disappear.  If you speak another language, you might help someone translate documents or pass information on to people who aren't fluent in English.  Sharing this document might also really help people figure out how to protect themselves in the event that certain rights or services become limited.
**UPDATE** Here's a list of lawyers and law students who have already agreed to help!

4. Don't fall asleep during the midterm elections.  The President only has the power to do so much.  Congress makes laws and approves Supreme Court appointments.  A lot of people of the Democrat persuasion didn't feel as much passion for our candidate as they did against the other candidate.  I don't think that energy served us well.  Channel what you're feeling now into passion for electing good Representatives and Senators!  You have the opportunity to vote more than once every four years.  Be inspired by that.

5. Perhaps most importantly, be kind to each other, even people who disagree with you.  The thing I find most scary and heartbreaking about Trump's election isn't what he might actually do as much as the negative, hateful atmosphere he seems to be creating in our country.  The best way to combat that is by embodying a spirit of tolerance ourselves.  I'm not saying you should tolerate bigotry or violence (you shouldn't), but just to try to understand each other more.  If you teach or have children, don't let younger generations grow up with resentment and suspicion toward people different from them.  I'm an antisocial, introverted person who has avoided speaking out or connecting with a lot of people in the past few years, but now seems like a good time to open up again.  I've ironically felt so much positivity from like-minded people on social media over the last couple of days and I think there's a lot we can do just by being supportive of one another.  There are probably some people who might need our support the most, but they're laying low for a while because they just don't feel safe right now.  Reach out to them too.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Rant About Wedding Planning...

If you want to have ANY recollection of your wedding, you are LEGALLY REQUIRED to hire a professional photographer for the perfectly reasonable price of one year's salary and the blood of your first born child.  You must instruct this person to snap artful photos of your wedding bands stacked strategically on one of your wedding invitations, or maybe a shot of the couple smiling at each other with that knowing look that means, "We'll have to put up with each other's farts for the rest of our lives."  Your friends are not to be trusted with cameras.  Your friends are either clumsy idiots or evil masterminds determined to ruin your wedding.  If you fail to hire a photographer, you will be immediately roofied after the reception and will wake up in a Mexican jail with your marriage license torn to bits and sprinkled like confetti into your hair.  Your granchildren's children will shake their fists at you for not leaving them any BEAUTIFUL wedding photos to look at and they will doubt that you are even related.  I, for one, have looked at my parents' wedding album every night since I was born and have wept over the photographer's brilliant artwork.  In fact, the walls at my grandparents' house were neither painted nor covered in wallpaper but were instead giant prints of their professionally-'graphed wedding photos.  DON'T YOU KNOW THAT THE AMOUNT YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING IS DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO HOW MUCH MONEY YOU SPEND ON IT!??

This pretty much describes all of my wedding planning experience in the last two months.  The end.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Fun, Part 2

I love movies.  And I don't just mean certain movies, I mean that I love the whole motion picture concept so much that I'll see pretty much anything in a movie theater just for the experience of sitting in a dark room with that stale popcorn smell, looking up at a big screen and letting the light flicker across my face.  I like laughing with the other movie-goers during a comedy and screaming with the other movie-goers during a scary movie.  On the other hand, I purposefully pick weird or inconvenient times to see movies in hopes that I'll get that rare experience of having a whole theater to myself.  I frequently see movies alone during Awards season to increase my chances of seeing all of them, and the Oscars broadcast is my Super Bowl.  In High School, my friend and I started a film club in which we watched a lot of well-made movies and then discussed them afterward.  Nerd alert, am I right?  My point is that during any holiday season, but particularly during the Halloween season, the movies are the best part for me.  I've watched a LOT of horror movies in my twenty-seven years... even the truly awful ones (and there are so, so many awful ones).  While everyone's taste in movies is different, these are the ones that are my all-time favorites.

The Exorcist
This is the first movie I ever watched that kept me up all night, too afraid to close my eyes.  Even looking up a picture for this blog post is probably going to give me nightmares.  And when they re-released it in theaters with the deleted scenes... I screamed and cried like a little girl.  I'm a pretty big wimp now, but I was a tough kid and movies didn't really scare me much until this one.  Honorable mention goes to The Exorcism of Emily Rose for being the only recent possession/exorcism movie that even comes close to this one.

Best Slasher Flick
I personally don't find slasher movies particularly scary, but this is the movie that wrote the rules for all horror movies after it.  Building tension, surprise scares, the gotcha! moment at the end, it's all here.  And unlike a lot of other movies in the genre, this one is actually a well-made and well-written film with interesting camera angles and decent acting.

Best Vampire/Best Foreign
Let the Right One In
I'll warn you right now.  This movie is not scary.  There are a couple of creepy parts and maybe even a few moments that made me jump in the American version, but it's a little stretch of the horror genre to include this one.  It is about vampires and it is very dark, but mostly it's a great film about loss of innocence and the end of childhood, being an outsider, and also a little bit (or a lot?) about love.  It's like the anti-Twilight.

Best Werewolf
An American Werewolf in London
The scariest parts of this movie have nothing to do with the werewolf, but the protagonist's lupine transformation earned this movie an Oscar for makeup. 

Best Zombie Movie
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
I'm a devoted George Romero fan (and actually met him this summer!) and I think the original Dawn of the Dead is his best film.  It may not be as flashy as more recent zombie movies, and zombie makeup has clearly come a long way since 1978, but like Halloween, Romero really wrote the rule book with this one.

Best Classic/Silent Film
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
OK so maybe not everyone has the patience to sit through a silent movie, but this is a great example of German Expressionism and clearly had an influence on Tim Burton's aesthetic.  Plus, I am actually afraid of sleepwalkers, so I find this movie genuinely creepy.

Best Arthouse
This movie is super weird and that is maybe most of what makes it scary.  Dario Argento knows how to build some tension and the lighting/set design will make you feel like you've walked into one of those creepy fun houses at a carnival.

Best Horror Movie with a Sense of Humor
Drag Me to Hell
I'm afraid that most of the movie-going public didn't "get" that this movie was supposed to be goofy in addition to being genuinely scary.  It's by Sam Raimi, the person who brought you the original Evil Dead series, so it's not supposed to be a really serious horror film, but maybe the humor was too subtle to seem purposeful.  I really enjoyed it and left the theater feeling totally satisfied.  If you take it with a grain of salt, you will feel the same way.

Best Kid-Friendly(ish)
This was a tough decision.  I know I'm supposed to say Hocus Pocus or The Nightmare Before Christmas, and I cherish those movies as much as the next 90's kid, but I think in terms of movies that are actually a little bit frightening (but not traumatizing), Beetlejuice is the best.  It's funny, it's quirky, and the non-CGI makeup, costumes, and set designs recall the good ol' days of special effects.

Best Worst Movie
Return of the Killer Tomatoes
That's right, not even Attack of the Killer Tomatoes but its far campier (if that were even possible) sequel.  You'll get a fine specimen of 80's George Clooney (which makes me think that no role is too small or too stupid when you're trying to build a Hollywood career) and a grand feeling of "What the f--?" that you'll never quite get over.  It's silly.  Very very silly.

And as for television...
Twin Peaks and Pretty Little Liars
(I'm pretty sure there is no Twin Peaks blu-ray and this is just fan-made, but that's not important)
Ever since Twin Peaks was released on Netflix, a lot of my generation has been watching it (perhaps re-watching it for some, but I think most of us were too young to get it when it was on TV).  It's good entry-level exposure to David Lynch... very bizarre but not so disturbing that you want to take a shower after you watch it.  It's funny but also very eerie and sometimes downright nightmare-inducing.
Ok, hear me out!  I was very skeptical of this series at first and was ready to give up after the first episode, but something about it reminds me of Twin Peaks.  Maybe because it's also sort of a murder mystery about a pretty blond girl who no one knew as well as they thought they did when she was alive.  The show's creators/directors (if not the series author... not sure because I've never read the books) have a genuine appreciation for classic film and a lot of details are Hitchcock-inspired -- a bird named Tippi, for example, or the "Rear Window Brew" coffee shop.  Their Halloween episodes are great, but every episode is like a mini horror movie and there were a lot of nights when I couldn't watch this show alone in the dark.  Pretty cool for an ABC family series.
Yeah, I know everyone loves Walking Dead and American Horror Story, but you all already know about those shows, so it wouldn't make much sense for me to list them here.

Anyway, I hope this has given you a few more ideas for fun things to watch as you continue to get into the Halloween spirit.  Next week: Best scary books to read during Halloween!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Halloween Fun, Part 1

One thing about me that some of you might not know is that I hosted a radio show in college called Music for Monsters.  This show consisted of horror-themed music (particularly punk, metal, and psychobilly, but really all kinds of things) interspersed with scary stories that I read on air.  It was a lot of fun and I'm glad I didn't leave my small, liberal arts college without giving college radio a try, but mostly what I've taken away from it is a large collection of Halloween-appropriate music to play all month long.  I'll share some of my favorites with you here.  Everyone knows Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the classic "Monster Mash," but here are a few unexpected options to spice up your Halloween party (or just a playlist to get you in the mood).

1) The Misfits' "Halloween" is an obvious choice, and I love that song, but so many of their songs work just as well for this occasion.  Another one of my favorites is "Skulls," but I listed that one on my punk favorites list.  Instead, I offer you "Ghouls Night Out."

2) When it comes to creepy music, you really can't do much better than The Cramps.  A little bit garage rock, a little bit rockabilly, and completely weird, it's almost too hard to choose just one song.  I've picked "Rockin' Bones" from their "Psychedelic Jungle/Gravest Hits" album, but I also almost always put "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" on my Halloween playlists.

3) The Meteors are a great psychobilly band and if you're having a Halloween party (even if it's a party of one), you'd be remiss not to include "Graveyard Stomp" on your playlist.

4) "I Was a Teenage Zombie" by the Fleshtones is another classic that I played early on my show

5 and 6) So, in the 1950's and 60's, there was a trend of horror/sci fi movies and music that followed it (which is how we got songs like "The Monster Mash").  There are seriously like a billion of these cheap, little rock n' roll songs about Martians or Frankenstein's monster.  In fact, one of my favorites is "The House of Frankenstein" by Big Bee Kornegay...
OK, one more!  "Shudders and Screams" by Ben Colder...

7) But not all great horror music is vintage.  There are a lot of fun, contemporary songs to choose from as well.  Let's say you want to have a dance party.  I've got you covered.  Here's a song that was playing at Dorney Park when I went for their haunted houses two weekends ago, "Kill Everybody" by Skrillex.
Rihanna's "Disturbia," Kanye West's "Monster," "She Wolf" by Shakira, and "Big Bad Wolf" by Duck Sauce are also good choices.  Every single Die Antwoord music video is the stuff of nightmares, but I can't tell if the songs would be creepy on their own or not.

8) For fans of serial killer thrillers like The Silence of the Lambs, GreensKeepers' "Lotion" is a good, unusual song.

9)Another punk favorite is "Army of Zombies" by Lars Frederiksen & the Bastards

10) And just for fun, here's the title song from the Steve McQueen movie The Blob to round out our Halloween playlist.

In other news, I finally found a real job!  I was beginning to get really discouraged, and then all of a sudden, I had some options.  I'm working in an office that primarily writes and prints airline menus.  So it doesn't exactly use my degree, but I do feel like I'm using some of my skills, and the main thing is that I get to wake up every morning, put on respectable adult clothes, and earn a real salary with benefits and everything.  Given the nature of airlines, my co-workers are very international and I find that exciting.  In my cubicle and the surrounding cubicles, I hear English, French, Russian, Arabic, and I'm always looking at other languages on the translated menus.  Working full-time means I still might not post more than once a week, but I do have some other Halloween-related posts stored away for the upcoming weeks.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Paddle On

Yesterday, I drove up to Swartswood State Park to make use of their lake and admire the Fall foliage just starting to come out.  Not only do I offer these pictures as proof that New Jersey is beautiful, but they also represent why I love canoeing.  I can go out onto the water and explore places I wouldn't be able to on foot, without a loud motor, just the swish of the boat gliding through the lake.  If you've never been to Swartswood, it's in my new favorite part of North Jersey, in Sussex and Warren counties, where there's a state park and/or historical site pretty much every 5 miles (sometimes less).  I highly recommend going up there.  There was no launch fee or entrance fee because it's the off-season now, but I almost wish there had been, so that I could help support these wonderful NJ state parks.

It was an absolutely gorgeous, clear day with perfect 75-degree weather.

No instagramming necessary for a view like this.

We encountered a little sailboat party going on.

Happy trees and cloud reflections

A hint of changing leaves.

The colors, Duke!  The colors!

In other news, today is my last day as a nanny.  Onto new things.  It's kind of exciting and scary.  Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more later this week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Five

Sorry that I've been a bit of an absent blogger these past few weeks.  I've been going through a rough patch and it's been difficult to find something that I want to write about.  It's finally starting to look like my luck might be changing, but it's still too early for me to give you any details.  Anyway, I want to at least make time to appreciate some things that are bringing me cheer this month.

1. Pumpkin Flavored Everything
'Tis the season, y'all!  I can't help but fall for this marketing strategy every single time.  I have to admit that I got excited when liquor stores started rolling out the Pumpkin Ales and Oktoberfests in August (S was less amused).  Even though I can buy pumpkin any time of year, I guess I'm conditioned to only want to eat it every single day between the months of September and December.  Young American ladies (and probably some men, too) await the release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks the way French people line up at midnight for each year's Beaujolais Nouveau.  Just in the past week, I've made pumpkin cream sauce for tortellini, pumpkin and butternut squash soup, pumpkin spice oatmeal, and I even bought pumpkin spice coffee creamer for my coffee.  I'm into it.  And don't even get me started on the apples and apple cider and apple cider donuts.

2. Going to See Movies in the Theater
It's the magical moment when horror flicks for Halloween intersect with Awards Season films.  I might have to see at least one movie a week just to keep up.  I'm most excited about 12 Years A Slave, The Counselor (I wasn't that interested in the plot, but Cormac McCarthy wrote the screenplay, so now I have to see it), Inside Llewyn Davis, The Monuments Men, and August Osage County.  I'm also pretty excited that Night of the Living Dead is coming back to a local theater, with commentary from the guys behind "Mystery Science Theater 3000."  I love movies so much that, during awards season, I usually go see several by myself, just to make sure I see as many as possible.  The Oscars is kind of like my Super Bowl.

3. A New Metropolitan Opera Season
Like Pumpkin Flavored Everything, I'm a sucker for the spectacular productions at The Met.  I'm really hoping to score some La Boheme tickets in the last-minute lottery this year, since I had so much luck with The Ring last year, but my guess is everyone else will want those tickets too.  Knocking on wood with crossed fingers!

4. Being More Active Outdoors
I've gone camping three times this year and we've planned at least one more trip before the season is over (that's S, prepping some firewood on our last excursion).  I'm trying to take advantage of the beautiful state parks we have here in New Jersey... I know, you probably thought the whole state was either like Newark or Seaside Heights.  Nope!  We also have forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes.  I haven't gotten the canoe in the water yet, but I'm hoping to take it for a spin this weekend and maybe next weekend as well.  S and I have also started taking little walks every evening after dinner.  At first, I was kinda like, "Aw, man... I just got home.  Do I have to go out again?"  But once we get going, it's a really nice way to decompress from the day.  We try to go a little bit farther every night.  It's not a real workout, but studies show that even just a little, light walk a few times a week has long-term health benefits.

5. Getting in the Halloween Spirit!
I can't decide whether Halloween is my first or second favorite holiday, but it was taken from me last year due to Superstorm Sandy and this year I demand some festivities.  Haunted houses and hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, candy, costumes, maybe some light decorating if a certain someone will let me...  Hopefully we can get our cable to work again in time to watch Beetlejuice and Hocus Pocus on TV (even though I own both of those movies).  OK, so maybe it's still more than a month away, but October magazines come out in September and I'm already getting inspired.  The good news is that a lot of things most people would only put out during Halloween, I consider part of my everyday style: skulls, bats, etc.  Our apartment is already covered in cobwebs and spiders, so that's one less thing we have to do!

Happy weekend, readers.  I'll try to be back with some real posts next week.  Don't forget that you can (and should!) follow me on Twitter for daily, bite-sized updates.  If you still feel like winning a beauty product care package from me, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Bloglovin.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recent Acquisitions

I've come into some new-old, cool things this summer (old in general, new to me) that I think are worth sharing.  Some additions to my collections, new collections I've started, etc.  Other people downsizing their possessions has come in handy for me!

The thing I'm most excited about is my new set of vintage, mismatched teacups.  I was never interested in teacups before (and, in fact, rejected a matching set from my grandma's old house), but these all looked so pretty and interesting together that I felt like I had to have them.
My favorite is the yellow and gold one in the back, but I also love the butterfly handle of the one in front of it.

I also found a new addition to my oddities collection at the horror convention I went to.
It's a mummified pig fetus!  Ain't he cute?

We also inherited a canoe and a lot of camping equipment.  We're hoping to put it to good use this weekend.  And, yes, in-laws... we bought some life jackets!

By all means, if anyone else wants to give away a bunch of fun stuff, let me know!  Shopping your closet has become a trend during weak economic periods, but I've had a pretty good time shopping other people's attics!