Monthly Archives: March 2010

a few thoughts on a “riot grrrl revival”…& spring clothes

amber recently wrote a post for her blog (see side bar) in which she quoted a fair chunk of an e-mail i’d sent her, trying to make sense of how i feel about the idea of a “riot grrrl revival” (i’m not feeling great about it). this is what she quoted:

“…i realized: those of us who were involved with riot grrrl Original Recipe have ALREADY been building upon riot grrrl for like twelve or fifteen years now! so when people who weren’t around the first time around say that they are drawn to riot grrrl with the intention of “building upon” it, it’s like…um, what the hell do you think i’m already doing? i think the very fact that people like you & your sister are making these feminist personal zines in the first place is INHERENTLY building upon the legacy of riot grrrl, whether it’s intentional or not. you know? the original ladyfest in olympia (where i taught two workshops) was “building upon” riot grrrl. paper trail distro was a build-upon. the boston skillshare was a build-upon. going to midwifery school & learning to perform abortions was a build-upon. the fact that i am still a feminist is a build-upon. maybe these things aren’t being in punk bands & writing “riot grrl” on my knuckles, but it’s like, this is what a riot grrrl does when she grows up, & that trajectory can take all kinds of different forms (which is to say, there are other ways that people have “built-upon” than just what i have done).

“i have been attached to this idea that a “riot grrrl revival” is an exercise in pointlessness, but i couldn’t figure out a way to say it that actually expressed what i meant (& didn’t just sound dismissive & mean-spirited in a way i don’t actually feel). i think this is it: it feels pointless because i feel like the friendships you have made with people in the zine scene ARE the build-upon. maranda’s writing about mental health are the build-upon. the fact that you’re interested in alternatives to traditional menstrual products is the build-upon. there’s no need for a “revival” because the build-upon is happening everyday. & i think it’s maybe actually more important to acknowledge what has happened since riot grrrl Original Recipe fell apart as being a continuum of feminist activism/culture/community-building in whatever obvious & not-so-obvious/explicitly political (in the civic sense) & explicitly personal (like self-care) ways it manifests.”

thoughts? i don’t totally know how i feel about this quote because, while i wrote it & i think it makes a good point illustrating my lack of enthusiasm for this whole weird “revival” idea (or “legacy” or whatever you want to call it–different people seem to have different ideas about it), i feel weird that so many of the examples i used of “build-upons” are things that i have done. i was trying to draw from my own personal experience to provide a sense of trajectory from one teenage riot grrrl in 1994 to the thirty-year-old ex/post-riot grrrl that i am today…but i worry that the examples are too limited, because the path i took is different from the paths a lot of other ex-riot grrrls have taken. but…hopefully it’s obvious enough that i respect the fact that different people have taken (& currently are on) all kinds of different paths, & there’s no one right way to put whatever lessons you learned from riot grrrl into action, right?

i’m in a mood tonight. it’s been a gorgeous day, & i spent a good chunk of it walking around town & sitting in the sun. i am seeing a chiropracter for my fucked up back (apparently my thoracic spine locked into place, who knows why?) & i feel a lot better now. i’ve seen him three times in the last week, & i have a lot less pain, more mobility, & more energy. i saw him this morning, & then i got a hot fudge sundae & ate it outside in the sun, reading a book. i also sold a cute-but-too-narrow pair of shoes to arizona trading company & stocked up on cute spring/summer tops.

on saturday, i went to a clothing swap out in the country. i unloaded a couple of bags i really shouldn’t use anymore (because they are too ugly for words), some ill-fitting jeans, a whole pile of too-small/weird-fitting t-shirts, a couple of dresses & skirts i couldn’t work into my wardrobe, all my leg warmers (i had four pairs & i hadn’t worn any of them in at least five years), etc…some really cute stuff! but stuff that doesn’t really work for my look anymore, now that i am thirty & actually care about wearing clothes that fit & aren’t purposely garish. i finally got rid of the stripe-y jersey dress with a hood that was just a touch too small for me & also not really appropriate for my personal aesthetic. & i got rid of the flowery white bedazzled baby doll peter pan collar dress i used to wear all the time (paired with combat boots & ripped striped tights, of course) when i was twenty & living in portland. i hadn’t been able to squeeze into it in years, but held on to it out of sentimentality. but i donated it to the clothing swap. my neighbor alyssa, who is seven years younger than me & has a way more colorful, lively personal dress sense than i do at this point, took both dresses. i’m glad they found a good home!

i loaded up on basic tees & layering essentials, plus a really well-fitting pair of jeans to cut off into shorts (they’re a smidgen too short on me, so it’s no loss). i also got some espadrilles–who knows if i’ll ever wear them? alyssa said they’d make good i-have-a-wedding-to-attend shoes, which is true, but i also have three pairs of nice heels, plus two pairs of dressy flats. i doubt i’ll ever wear the espadrilles unless i dye them. they’re an awful yellow color right now.

but i’m excited to have so many cute new tops to wear in warmer weather. & none of them are t-shirts! when i was younger, my entire wardrobe was t-shirts, miniskirts, torn up shredded tights, leg warmers, combat boots, & thrifted old man pants. the less stuff matched, the happier i was. i got through one entire winter (in boston!) without a winter coat. i just layered three sweaters at a time under my hoodie with the big anarchy-A patch on the back. i used to have monochromatic days where i wore nothing but pink (pink corduroys, pink t-shirt, pink cardigan, pink striped socks, pink studded belt, pink headband, pink sneakers). i can’t even imagine dressing like that now. what happened to me? god, when i lived in portland, i owned thirteen wigs, & i actually wore them. a lot.

now i wear jeans or corduroys almost every day, & i don’t like to wear t-shirts unless the collars & sleeves have been cut off. i don’t think crewnecks flatter my body type at all, but tunic-style shirts generally make me look pregnant. it’s a delicate balance, but i got a lot of good stuff at the clothing swap & at the thrift store today. i am psyched for hot weather now! (it helps that our apartment has central air. kansas gets wicked hot.)

on the way home from the clothing swap, we noticed a man & his dog jogging on the sidewalk by this little park near the river. everyone in the car was like, “wow, look at the dog run! he’s really into having his exercise today!” “what a good dog to run without a leash!” “that dog is so cute!” etc. then alyssa said, “what if that person is just running away from that dog?” most hilarious thing i have heard in a while.

all aboard the fat bus

before i start recapping this week’s “top model,” a caveat: i woke up at 6am this morning. i got maybe five & a half hours of sleep. i am about to dive into my second cup of coffee, but i have been in rare form all morning. i already concocted a complex fantasy in which samuel beckett returned from the dead due to the machinations of a hot tub time machine & got signed to the red sox (as a pitcher) & then faced off against imaginary pitcher jeff greinke (an ambient jazz musician who has recorded with the likes of brian eno) for the kansas city royals, & whoever lost the game would get shot in the chest by the guy who mans the alarmingly phallic hot dog gun at the kansas city stadium. this was no fever dream: jared turns thirty next weekend & we are hoping to celebrate by seeing the red sox play the royals in kansas city on april 10. i don’t often share my rich fantasy life on my blog, but i spend a lot of time concocting absurd “what if” scenarios. another popular one in our household these days involves charlotte (our cat) going to cat day at adventureland, an amusement park in des moines, iowa, & being really disappointed by it. (obviously, there is no cat day at adventureland, & neither jared nor i has ever been to adventureland, so we don’t know if it sucks or not). i have big plans to make an embroidered sampler that features charlotte’s face & the legend, “adventureland totally sucks.”

the point: i am punchy. let’s see how this goes.

previously on “top model,” we re-live the magic of alasia’s nude photo shoot & her weeping as nigel reprimands her for her unflattering pose, though cutie pie gabrielle gets the boot thanks to andre leon talley’s salon de capriciousness. & then naduah dulled the edge of her hairless scalp with tired, predictable poses & sent packing back home to cancun fashion week & racial fetishization home photo shoots with her hubby. eleven girls remain.

allow me a moment to voice my extreme displeasure with the new opening sequence. there is altogether TOO MUCH of tyra in hideous skin-colored jumpsuits & leotards, multiplying kaleidoscopically in time to a thoroughly unacceptable new theme song. & the girls are all dressed up in their make-over finest, which is to say, they are the unholy bastard children of a “get in shape, girl” commercial from 1985 & the hamburglar. MY EYES!

the ladies return to the house from panel & admire raina’s great bukkake perfume ad. brenda frets over her poor performance last week & we re-live the judge’s critique in glorious sepia tone. brenda reports that she misses her daughter & her “extreme” haircut is giving her an identity crisis. she says she needs a good picture this week as she unloads the dishwasher while wearing recycled maternity pants.

ren also laments her unfortunate photo from last week. sepia!nigel says that it looks like an ad for H1N1 vaccine. great. now ren is going to be struggling with crazy lady drama in the house & she’s going to have jenny mccarthy all up in her grill too. whilst showcasing an eye-watering shade of lipstick, ren trots out the worst (read: most boring) canned sob story this show has seen since cycle five nicole suffered the slings & arrows of feeling the her sister was prettier than her: apparently it is ren’s mother’s dream for ren to be a model, & she only started being nice to ren after ren was chosen to be on “america’s next top model”. her evidence? when mommy dearest heard that ren got on the show, she offered to take ren to the mall to buy some nice clothes. but when they got to the register, mom “got a call” & left ren to pay for everything single-handedly. so heartless! so cruel! how dare this demon woman make a 22-year-old pay for her own clothing! i don’t even know if i can keep watching if i am going to be vicariously subjected to this kind of emotional brutality. especially because ren is wearing a knock-off members only jacket in this sequence.

ren says that she likes modeling, but has apparently never seen “top model” & was not prepared for the drama in the house.

the ladies receive a tyra mail & discover that they are soon to be tested on their industry knowledge. i’d love to see a quick cut to tatianna (who thought megan fox was a supermodel), but no dice. instead, we hear from anslee, who is relishing the opportunity to be on the show & insists that the flexible schedule of an international supermodel would work well for her because she’s a mom. because babies love to fly? oh, because she’s used to sleep deprivation & getting up in the middle of the night.

simone wears a ruffly pirate wench blouse & applies deodorant while telling us that she abandoned school & $25,000 in tuition to be on the show. “modeling is what i want to do,” she says, “it’s a model basic.” what?

then the fat bus rolls up. remember cycle nine, when tyra made everyone quit smoking & they got to shoots & challenges in an allegedly environmentally-friendly vehicle (which i hope was powered by french fry grease, because i love the idea of making aspiring models quit smoking & then tempting them with the smell of french fries everyday)? yeah, that didn’t last long, did it? the “fab bus” (but it seriously sounds like they’re saying “fat bus” every single time) is an enormous tour bus, like motley crue style. the ladies board & appreciate the glittery blue & red seats. raina dances.

& then toccara (cycle three) appears, clad in a sparkly gold tank dress. alexandra is excited because toccara is also a plussie (though a stint on “celebrity fit club” slimmed her down a bit). i had never realized until just now how unbelievably whiny toccara’s voice is. & tragically, she is there to put the girls through their paces as she presides over a modeling industry trivia game, sponsored by bluefly.com. “laugh-in” style music plays while toccara runs through her bluefly.com copy. there will be a red team & a blue team, with raina (last week’s best photo winner) assisting toccara by holding up a scoreboard WWF-style. the winning team will receive $500 bluefly gift cards, & the team plus raina will get to go on a go-see in an attempt to land a spot in bluefly’s spring campaign. whoever gets the job will get a $2500 bluefly gift card. this would be a better prize if bluefly didn’t specialize in over-priced designer pieces. hot pink lettering tries to sell me on the fact that “this is a fierce prize,” but i won’t be manipulated so easily! the losers also get something, to be revealed. please let it be cholera!

krista feels confident because she feels she knows the business. anslee is on board with feeling that this is a “fierce” prize, but is concerned that she got stuck with some duds as teammates: she specifically calls out alasia for being young, & brenda for being easily stressed. she’s also on the same team as ren & tatianna. i don’t really see them standing a chance. simone interviews that she really wants this prize: “to be guaranteed a national campaign in the first couple of rounds would be great.” you think?

there is no explanation of why this trivia game must transpire on a bus. maybe just for the fun & satisfaction of burning fuel? am i alone in wishing it was like a pub trivia night, & the winners get to pelt the losers with hot onion rings?

the first question is essentially a continuation of advertising for bluefly. their product placement dollars are keeping tyra well-stocked in unflattering jumpsuits this season. the red team (anslee’s team) achieves an early lead, but the blue team soon ties them. the tie-breaking question comes down to a battle of wits between brenda & simone, & simone scrapes the win while brenda stands there, looking blank (question: “which of these iconic models is host of ‘germany’s next top model’? heidi klum, christie brinkley, iman, or someone else who is totally not at all german?”). the blue team celebrates their win (angelea with a terrifying booty quiver) while anslee vows to show brenda the wrath of methface.

the blue team goes to bluefly headquarters with their portfolios. they are dressed up in designer duds & sent in to walk & talk. raina goes first, in an utterly impractical white minidress. the bluefly ladies love her face, but interview that spring is all about short skirts & shorts & therefore, legs matter. in other words, raina’s a little badonk-a-donk for their needs. jessica, however, in her strapless sundress, is deemed too thin for spring’s revealing looks, & without enough face to make up the difference. seriously, jessica: turkey on sourdough with honey mustard. try it, it’s delicious.

the red team is introduced to the vengeance for their relative ignorance of the modeling industry: they must toil in an enormous cage, weighing & measuring hundreds of boxes of bluefly wares that they will never be able to afford. anslee gets her methface on to hate on brenda a little more, while brenda announces that she will require the services of an assistant to note the measurements she makes. brenda really is annoying, but she seems more like a mellow, clueless, pot-smoking mom than crazy methface anslee.

angelea meets the bluefly ladies in a cute tank & spring skirt. they praise her “interesting” face, but things go south when they ask her to strike a few poses for them. she pops a bicep & tries to smile & it’s awesomely bad, but i can’t help but lament the loss of comedy we could have enjoyed with performance artist/resident saboteur alasia in the same position. after anegela leaves, the ladies roll their eyes & mock her poses. alexandra enters in a snug halter minidress straight out of 1988 & you can almost see the bluefly ladies gritting their teeth at this obvious waste of their time. they have no intention of giving the campaign to the plussie. they actually compliment her “pretty face” & say she’s be great for a beauty ad. oh snap!

back in the cage, ren wonders whether this gig is worth the steep cost of her ambiguous sanity. she seems to be taking notes while the other girls measure shoeboxes. yeah, they must be really trying. she’s gonna snap any minute & drown them all in a bathtub. she interviews that she “even misses [her] mom & [she] never misses [her] mom”–you know, the heartless succubus who made ren pay for her own collection of bowler hats.

simone walks for the bluefly ladies in a racerback tank & tulip skirt. they are almost leaping out of their chairs with joy over simone’s great look, able posing, & fierce walk. the racerback was perhaps a misstep, in that it showcases simone’s broad shoulders, & the bluefly ladies are concerned about them, but…then krista walks in & it’s tough to find nice things to say about krista. gorgeous skin & kind of an interesting slinky walk, but…come on. given the choice between simone & krista, it was a no-brainer. simone wins the challenge, campaign, & $2500 gift card. jessica scoffs & rolls her eyes–while smiling, so it can’t tell if she is actually this cycle’s “stealth bitch” quite yet. but she’s a contender when she interviews that simone is very “pageant-y”. i find simone merely competent & polite, but…that’s cool.

back at the house, the ladies cavort in their pajamas & brenda informs everyone that her room is hitting the hay in half an hour so everyone else will need to clear out. krista finally proves why she is on the show by making me laugh out loud when she asks brenda, “you own this piece?” in an interview, she calls brenda “gepetto, because that’s what she is, she’s a puppetmaster.” i’d never really considered gepetto a puppetmaster in a malevolent sense, but it’s true that he builds & masters puppets, so…yikes!

krista retires to her room with angela, alexandra, & ren, to laugh about brenda behind her back. despite the fact that both angelea & alexandra are sporting some seriously problematic locks in this scene, angelea says that brenda looks like miranda from “sex & the city” (that’s what i said!) & alexandra more aptly likens her to chucky from the “child’s play” movies. angelea, alexandra, & krista cackle, but somber, joyless ren leaves to find brenda & report this shit talking to her. look closely & you will see a tiny smile on ren’s face while she whispers in brenda’s ear. try to tell me that she doesn’t love house drama. here she is, stirring the shit.

brenda hulks out in her uniquely neurotic way, by spreading the news of these vicious insults to whoever happens to be hanging out in the kitchen. she wears an enormous knit ski cap while she does so, making her look exactly like cancer boy from “kids in the hall”. sorry, but it’s true. she employs some circuitous logic to suggest that when the other girls mock her haircut, they are really mocking tyra, because tyra chose brenda’s haircut, & that if they were really tough, they’d call tyra out on her questionable taste to her face. she also says that the other girls are saying that she is ugly, which is a bit of a leap from just laughing at her haircut. anslee interviews that she is a mom, so she’s compassionate (tell that to ren’s mom!), but she had to point out that no one actually called brenda ugly–a sensible rejoinder from methface. brenda snaps, “yes, they did. were you in the room?”

anslee brings the full force of methface to the table & is all, “you’re always doing this & you never do that, etc etc” (i’m paraphrasing). brenda retorts, “you always do this & never do that, etc etc,” (again, paraphrasing). these girls need to take a course in non-violent communication! anslee claims that she was trying to “help brenda” by showing her that no one said she was ugly, but she’s obviously letting methface out of her cage as payback for brenda flubbing the trivia challenge. brenda says that if someone called anslee ugly, she’s probably have something to say about it. i’m calling her methface. does that count? basically, their fight makes no sense. no one throws any spoons or screams, “you need to calm down the hell down” at the top of their lungs right in anyone’s ear. no one yells, “i know where you sleep, dawg!” it’s just two high-strung ladies making me weep for their innocent children. ren is undoubtedly suffering triggering flashbacks to that time when she was six & her mom made her pay for her own tootsie pop at the gas station.

the next morning, anslee “apologizes” to the other girls for potentially waking them with her yelling, but she’s really just trying to vent about how much she hates brenda. in the bathroom, ren, jessica, & raina apply make-up & ren mutters, “i have to get out of this house. i don’t care how.” may i recommend just pulling a kool-aid man right through the wall? that would definitely create a lasting impression in the minds of viewers.

the girls get a tyra mail: “top models always need 2 b in step.” they are clueless, but they know it foretells a photo shoot.

the girls meet with jay at a dance studio while a very flexible man works on a barre in the background. ominous. jay asks the girls where they get their inspiration. anslee says, “my child.” krista squawks, “my mom!” she seriously squawks, it’s hilarious. ren glowers & says, “beetlejuice beetlejuice beetlejuice!” jay’s not impressed AT ALL. he says he enjoys the theatre, museums, & ballet. that’s great, jay, but i don’t think any of these ladies is a metropolitan gay man or an upper east side dowager. hallie may have fallen into the latter category, but she was tragically cut in the semi-finals. anyway, jay explains that today’s shoot will be inspired by dance, & each girl will portray a different type of dance. the dude working on the barre is troy powell, professional dancer who has worked with the alvin ailey dance theatre, & he is there to coach each girl on poses to embody her genre of dance. they show us a few photos of troy dancing, & i gasped & said, “i just saw his countours!” ailecia nodded & said, “yup. i did too.” i got to know troy better than his proctologist knows him just then. *shriek*

brenda frets that she is not a good dancer. shocking, no? anslee tells the hair guy that she took a year of ballet when she was little. who didn’t? the make-up artist tells ren his reference point for her is diana ross. simone tells the girls that she’s been assigned hip hop & will bring the crunk. alasia praises troy’s vast stores of dance knowledge.

first on set is anslee, who is wearing a furry vest & a feathery barrette. she is a rhythm dancer, ie, one of those sad sacks that flits around with ribboned batons at olympic opening ceremonies in 1988. in practice, her ribbons get caught on her barrette. she fears that her dance genre sucks, but claims that she’s not a “complainer”. not, it’s methface that does all the complaining for anslee. jay tells anslee that he wants to see a lot of shape. she responds by standing ramrod straight & fluttering her ribbons like there’s no tomorrow. hey, anslee? i don’t think he meant that he wants to see a lot of shapes with the ribbons. you can flutter them into the outline of abraham lincoln & recite the gettysburg address, but standing there like a barber pole isn’t going to make a nice photo. jay is confused & unimpressed.

jessica is next as a salsa dancer with flowers in her bun & jay tells her she moves too much & is trying too hard to nail the salsa moves troy taught her.

backstage, troy teaches tatianna some excellent “cabaret”-style tap flourishes, but then we cut to angelea, who has been assigned “moshing”. seriously? moshing? is it 1993? are we at a slipknot concert & no one told me? & plus, her wardrobe: a plaid mini-kilt teamed with a black belly shirt, red suspenders, hideous black high-heeled gladiator boot/sandal hybrids & an off-kilter top hat, accessorized with thirty pounds of safety pins. the wardrobe dude tells angelea that moshing is about “taking your anger out on the world”. angelea tries to interpret this by jumping around a lot while looking straight down the barrel of the camera, but…how can she mosh all alone in that ridiculous outfit? ailecia & i laughed. a lot. jay tries to bait angelea into admitting that her poses about anger, but she’s a canny one & tells him that she’s thinking about pain. jay says her photos are now softer & prettier as a result. i think he got into brenda’s stash.

tatianna comes out in her tap outfit, which is strangely unflattering. she kind of looks like an orange wearing high heels. she’s dancing around & being cute though–until the camera starts snapping photos. then she gestures vaguely to one side & looks off to the other side, resembling nothing so much as 94% of all photos on myspace, now with extra headband.

alasia tells the nail tech backstage that there’s a lot of drama in the house, but she’s still happy to be there. cut to ren in a white fur stole & earrings the size of a baby giraffe, being coached on the rudiments of disco dancing. she says she hates what goes on in the house, but she loves modeling. on set, jay critiques her for bringing one face to the shoot–squinting at camera with her lips parted. jay interviews that he sees model when he looks at her, but is less inspired by her every week. she tries to do some body poses & instead resembles a coked out disco diva hovering over a toilet in studio 54 due to some bad clams. it’s atrocious. jay says, “sooner or later, i think the judges are going to tire of her her look & realize what her real ability is.” then he makes a sour face & shrugs. someone get ren an ice pack for that harsh burn!

alexandra is a breakdancer in an awful glittery bucket hat, striped bicycle shorts, & chunky colorblocked heels, posed atop a broken down pizza box. she strikes a few poses that wouldn’t look out of place in kama sutra, if you ask me, but at least she’s trying new things & bringing some shapes. jay is pleased.

raina is a jazz dancer in fabulous fringed heels, a gorgeous wrap bodice full-skirted dress, & a bowler hat nicked from ren’s closet. she mostly just hunches over while lifting her hat & jay can’t get enough.

backstage, brenda tells troy she needs a good photo. he shows her some dramatic arm moves & she titters. anslee looks on, methface in full effect. on set, we discover that brenda has been dolled up to resemble an “african” dancer. because on the entire enormous continent of africa, there is only one kind of dancing, & it involves a wrap skirt & a wreath of dead grass around one’s neck. truefax. brenda stands perfectly still & looks at the camera like she is too embarrassed to move in her outfit. it’s kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t moment for her. if she goes too overboard trying to imitate the lesson from troy, she runs the risk of some serious cultural insensitivity. but if she plays it down too much, she’ll be criticized for not giving it her all. i’m vaguely relieved that this costume wasn’t given to one of the black contestants, but why did it have to happen at all? brenda strikes a few terribly catalogue arms-over-head poses & stands in such a way as to make her legs look about a foot long. she is only concerned about getting a shot that doesn’t make her resemble the crypt keeper’s grandma. jay tries to distract her with a trampoline, but brenda is so lacking in rhythm that she can only jump a second after jay says “jump,” & so every shot is of brenda squatting on the trampoline, poised to jump. she is comically terrible. jay openly laughs at her while methface looks on & smirks. i can only assume that brenda is totally high.

krista is a ballerina in a black leotard & tutu, lacy white tights, & baby pink toe shoes. she employs the trampoline as well, to hilariously graceless effect. she looks not unlike a chicken attempting to fly. then she does some weird poses where she is full on leg-in-the-air, crotch-to-camera, face-peeking-over-the-tutu. what is she thinking? apparently she is concerned about going en pointe & breaking her ankle. she tries to look serene. i don’t even know. she probably had the easiest dance (because it’s all about grace & elegance slowness, & everyone already understands how ballet looks), & she was a mess.

alasia interview that she is “very different” from the other girls, because she is the youngest in the house, & because she wants “to be the best,” while the others are willing to “settle for good”. so the ass-to-camera, forearm-ass-crack, backwards-vest photo was striving for excellence, as opposed to cluelessness? interesting.

simone’s outfit consists of thoroughly bedazzled short shorts & a hideous gold mini jacket that fails to entirely cover her bare breasts. she acknowledges that she was probably assigned hip hop because she’s a pageant girl & the powers that be are trying to trip her up, but she commits to her backstage practice. jay mocks her on set & says he doesn’t think she has any moves. she strikes a few poses & he tells her not to get too studied. she is so getting the cycle three kelle edit, it makes me sad. she doesn’t even have a snout to make her eventual elimination inevitably delicious. simone fails to bring energy or expression to her face & just slowly lifts the collar of her jacket while bending her knees. jay is frustrated & simone is crestfallen. jay asks her to do the running man. simone fails at that too. she cries in interview & displays some possibly compulsively perfectionistic tendencies. her shoulders are amazing.

alasia has awesomely been assigned “interpretive dance”. this hardly seems fair, because surely, as a performance artist prodigy hellbent of culture jamming the world of “ANTM” cycle 14, alasia is well-versed in interpretive dance. to even the playing field, wardrobe dressed her in nineteen yards of white eyelet lace & took away her shoes. it looks like an eight-year-old crashed the shoot. all the girls gather around to watch, anticipating major lulz. instead, alasia nails it, & the other girls frowth on the sidelines. alasia squeaks & jumps up & down in interview, wriggling all over like a puppy being offered a snausage. & that’s a wrap.

at the house, the girls receive tyra mail about the next panel meeting. one of the girls in the back hilariously reaches out & moves a hank of angelea’s enormously teased hair out of the way so as to better see the tyra mail. the girls jump & dance around & shriek in excitement as ren smirks & stands still because she’s just too fucking cool for this bullshit (in her own mind only). in the bedroom, the other girls ask ren if she still wants to go home & if she feels trapped in the house. ren sits cross-legged on her bed, hands clasped before her, & closes her eyes sadly, the weight of the world upon her slumped shoulders. she interviews, “this is the most hostile environment i have ever been put into.” someone went to quaker school. ren leaves the bedroom after others observe that she looks like she’s about to cry. brenda interviews that she may not take the best pictures, but she’d be pissed to be sent home over ren, because brenda really wants to be in the competition.

panel commences & i just need a moment to collect myself because tyra’s jumpsuit (a dim beige bedecked with illusion netting & “star trek” shoulders) has rendered me temporarily blind. first troy powell, & now i have been introduced to tyra’s countours as well. i’ll be having nightmares tonight. ALT is decked out in judicial robes & a soothsaying horn, & the guest judge is sean patterson, president of wilhelmina models (the agency that will represent the winner), dressed like gilligan, minus the fishing cap.

jessica is up first. tyra finds her salsa pose a little too “on the nose” & wishes jessica would have made it more model. ALT says that a pointed toe in an ankle strap show is “patently gauche”. sean patterson snarks that to have ALT tell you anything is patently gauche is kind of a wonderful thing. jessica doesn’t know what any of this means, but i think sean patterson has been stricken from ALT’s christmas card list this year.

the judges love raina’s shot, even though i think she should never pull her hair back in a top knot if she’s going to wear a nude lip color. it kind of makes her look like a cannibalistic human underground dweller (CHUD).

the judges criticize anslee for being waxen, not model-y, & “too conscious”. ALT says simone’s pigeon-toed pose is “patently gauche, but it works”. everyone likes it fine, except for tyra, who gets on simone’s case for not bringing movement to the photo. she asks if simone can hip hop dance & she admits that she cannot. tyra says that’s okay, as long as you can fake it for a photo. she’s totally getting the self-loathing black girl edit. tyra is a big fan of that edit, because it gives her a chance to have an oprah moment. we’ll see how this plays out.

sean patterson likes what’s happening with tatianna’s top half, but says the bottom half is not flattering. that’s an understatement. she looks like she’s giving birth. tyra acknowledges that tatianna’s film was unspeakably bad, although this shot is okay.

the judges detest brenda’s outfit. brenda describes it as “casual & simple,” but tyra points out that her pants are too short for her heels & the bell flare is unflattering. very true. brenda looks like an accountant. methface smirks in the background. sean can’t take her african dance photo seriously. brenda is leaning toward camera on one well-muscled haunch & it really is ugly & dull.

ALT is disgusted with alasia’s outfit. she is in low-rider jeans & a bulky jean jacket (that perhaps has a sweatshirt hood? is she eddie furlong in “terminator 2″?), & when ALT demands that alasia remove the jacket, her silver cut-out swimsuit is exposed to the world. ALT & tyra find this completely unacceptable, but they LOVE alasia’s photo. “gorgeous!” “lovely!” “shazam!” “your photo is as good as your outfit is bad.” tyra says, “miss alasia needs to be interpretive dance for the rest of her life.” done.

the judges like alexandra’s photo, but critique its lack of neck. angelea is dressed like someone’s mom on a patio in 1974, but the judges don’t comment. the judges love her photo. tyra also tries to bait angelea into a pre-determined edit by asking what she was thinking in the shoot. “anger at first, but toward the end of my film, i was thinking, like, pain,” angelea says. “i’m totally blown away that you just said that you tapped into an emotion there, because i have a lot of very experienced models who are just still learning that trait,” says sean patterson. i guess they don’t watch “top model”. i fear that angelea is getting a very flattering edit.

the judges like krista’s shot. nigel says her face shows “a dream”. tyra says her awkward hands make it fashion. ailecia said, “yeah, like that was at all intentional.” krista was so graceless on set, you know she lucked into that shot (which wasn’t even that good, in my opinion).

everyone hates ren’s shot, which is truly terrible. tyra asks why ren only did four poses in all her film, & ren says, “because that’s the only four poses i was taaaaaught, a heh heh,” & hangs her head coquettishly, hence sealing her fate as this week’s eliminee. the judges do not like girls who admit that they can’t innovate. nigel glares at her. ALT looks on in polite horror. tyra directly inquires if ren wants to stay in the competition. ren acknowledges that there’s a lot of drama in the house, & sean patterson basically says, “don’t waste my time, woman.” tyra attempts a cliffhanger, cutting to commercial before ren can say whether she wants to stay or go, but it’s pretty anti-climactic when you know her photo was bad enough to qualify for a booting anyway.

back from commcercial, ren says she wants to stay. anslee shakes her head & frowns. raina narrows her eyes in suspicion. the girls are dismissed so the judges can deliberate. jessica failed to wow them. sean patterson sees the same olympic theme in anslee’s rhythm dancing photo as i did & complains, “her face is going for the gold but her body doesn’t even get bronze.” simone communicates faux confidence to nigel, & she is actually confused about her assignment. “i know hip hop!” nigel enthuses. really? ALT seems to acknowledge the hideousness of alexandra’s on-set wardrobe, & praises her for taking a good photo anyway. nigel hates tatianna’s shot, but tyra likes it. but tyra also remembers how bad tatianna’s film was, so she’s conflicted. krista’s pose is expected, but beautiful. they love angelea. they detest ren’s photo. they think she held back because she’s unhappy in the “top model” loft. ALT raises a finger to the sky to decry the hideousness of brenda’s shot, & sean concurs. tyra disagrees but admits that brenda needs more “edge”. they love raina’s shot, though tyra is not wild about the bowler hat. sean loves alasia’s photo, but nigel points out that it’s just one photo, & there’s really no excuse for alasia’s in-person presentation. “she wouldn’t get past the receptionist [at wilhelmina],” nigel says. “she wouldn’t get past the lifeguard!” sean agrees. ALT says, “o ho!” & chuckles, despite the fact that sean’s joke was totally weaksauce.

the girls return. alasia get best photo & pumps air in celebration before jogging to tyra in unfastened boots. she promises never to wear her bathing suit outfit again. like tyra can talk about bad outfits when she’s dressed like a camel from “lawrence of arabia”. angelea, jessica, alexandra, krista, raina, tatianna, simone, & anslee are called, leaving ren & brenda in the bottom two. tyra suggests that ren lacks the desire for the competition, & ren agrees. she says she likes modeling, but that she thinks she’s on the show for the wrong reasons. she elaborates that her mom is a big “ANTM” fan & started being nice to ren after ren was chosen for the show. this is seriously ridonkulous. imagine if your problems with your mom could only be solved by going on a modeling-themed reality TV show. i don’t even have words. tyra humors herbriefly, but it’s obvious to all that ren is trying to play on tyra’s oprah fantasies. tyra finally cuts her off & busts our brenda’s photo. she announces that brenda will be getting another make-over because her current look makes her look like a soccer mom. brenda joins the other girls, & tyra tells ren to have a heart-to-heart with her mom. ren nods & leaves without hugging anyone.

in the closing interview, ren says that she “stayed so long” solely because it gave her the attention & love that she wanted from her mother. uh…three weeks isn’t “so long,” & ren is playing it off like she chose to leave. which maybe she kind of did at the end, but it looked like tyra had already decided to get rid of her. who knows for sure–this shit is edited to within an inch of its life. but it still seems obvious to me that ren is doing some serious scrambling to save face. she should start a club with hallie, she who insisted she had to quit semi-finals due to medical reasons & certainly would have been in the house under other circumstances. ren & her camo duffel depart.

next week, the girls are made up to look like vampires. seriously?…okay, then.

odds & ends…not very inspired

1. there has been something wrong with my back for several weeks now. there is always something wrong with it, because i am missing vertebrae & i have scoliosis & i am riddled with arthritis & several of my vertebrae are disintegrating. but this is a new wrong. there’s some kind of weird bump mid-spine that hurts in a new & horrible way that has nothing to do with the usual muscle aches & sclerotic agonies to which i have grown accustomed. poking around on internet diagnostic websites (not a great idea), i discovered that it could be symptomatic of a weird benign tumor often found in rheumatoid arthritis patients, which tallies with all my other RA symptoms (save for actual diagnostic lab work). it could also possibly be a slipped desk or stress fracture. who the fuck knows? i am seeing a chiropractor tomorrow (recommended by my therapist–sometimes she has weird boundary issues, as in, she has none) in the hopes that a dude who looks at backs all day will be able to tell me if i need to rush off & see a doctor. & who knows? maybe he can just do some adjustments & fix the issue.

2. i went running yesterday for the first time ever. i definitely understand why people like it. i hated it for the first five minutes, but then i got into the zone. only for ten more minutes because, hey, i’ve never done this before & sometimes just walking is a challenge. but it was pretty awesome. & no knee pain!

3. this bodes well for my plan to run up & down the steps of the philadelphia art museum every day that i live there while amanda waits on the sidewalk playing the “rocky” song on a boombox.

4. i really want to take charlotte with me to philadelphia. the more i think about it, the less comfortable i am leaving her in the care of cat sitters for six weeks. i hope i can find a good solution to this problem, so that charlotte, amanda, jared, & myself are all happy & not vomiting from anxiety & loneliness.

5. has anyone but me heard of this bookswim thing? it’s like netflix for books, minus the instant viewing feature (not that i’d want to read a book on a computer). i can’t decide if it’s a good idea or not. the marketing materials emphasize its utility for folks who “don’t have time” to go to the library, which begs the question, who the fuck doesn’t have time to go to the library? maybe people who live in the suburbs & have really long commutes? but what about weekends? i am confused. i live a ten-minute walk from the local library & go there all the time, so you wouldn’t think i’d even consider paying $24 a month to rent books from these bookswim people. but they do have a few books my library doesn’t have. & my library has MANY books that bookswim doesn’t have (because they are new & seem to mostly be focusing on bestsellers). i am intrigued, but conflicted. does a service like this compete with libraries? the prevalence of netflix spelled doom for the health of actual video rental stores. i doubt bookswim will ever achieve the success of netflix, because i don’t think most people really read that much, but i don’t feel great about undercutting the library. thoughts?

6. lots of books these days on how to be happy & whether or not you can actually try to be happy. the happiness project is another stunt journalism book in which a woman spends one year of her life following all kinds of different advice on achieving happiness & sees where it gets her. it’s next on my to-read list, because i tend to read most things that pique my curiosity a little bit. i also put ariel gore’s new book on “happiness & women” on hold at the library. what’s up with all this happiness literature? maybe it’s always been a popular topic & i am just now noticing it, for whatever personal reasons?

7. didn’t catch “top model” tonight because ailecia wasn’t home to aid & abet me with her tivo. i’ll get to it soon & try to do a recap. i can’t wait until they unload some of the chaff–i realized i mised up tatianna & anslee in my last post. anslee takes surprisingly good photographs, but she seems to have the same relationship with me that cycle six mollie sue back in the day had with tyra: mollie who? or, remember that time that tyra forgot to give cycle three nicole feedback at panel? good times. (ps–ailecia, if you stumble across this, i am not just using you for your TV. there is also the fact that you often have free cigarettes lying around…jay kay!)

8. last week, jared & i were talking about the TV show “dexter” & he said, “do you think he ever wonders about why he kills people that kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” it made me laugh. i finished watching season four the other day (after being alerted to its presence in various free forums online). i don’t see how he is going to make it through another season without finally being found out, & how the fuck is that going to go down? (speculation that is three months late: sorry.)

9. i have a cat-sitting gig for the upstairs neighbor. her cat is extremely friendly. not as cute as charlotte, but who is? apparently, the neighbor has decided to give up her apartment when her lease expires due to expense & such forth. sad for her, but awesome for me. i got to check it out a little when i went up there to check on the cat & his food situation (why do i always sit for cats whose names i don’t know? jared said it’s because only we are crazy enough to refer to charlotte by her name constantly, as if she is a person, but i don’t know), & dude. i want this apartment. the bathroom doesn’t have a door (it has a curtain instead), but it is otherwise completely adorable. & far more appropriate for putting up the occasional houseguest. my current apartment is fine & the price is excellent, but i’m always looking for an upgrade when it comes to living situations. this is why i have managed to move 32 times in only thirty years of living.

10. please enjoy this very sweet, touching video about a lion being reunited with humans who looked after it when it was a cub (warning: if you have a heart, you will cry…also, mute the sound unless you love aerosmith):

now dry your eyes & prepare to laugh at this hilarious video of an urban wildlife news report out of cleveland (ohio embarrasses me once again):

it’s the first day of spring!

my bicycle is enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

what the hell is going on? lawrence was hammered last night by a mondo late season blizzard, & the snow is in fact still falling. yesterday was gorgeous. i wore my ruffle-collar swing coat downtown & had to remove it for the walk home because i was too warm in just a thermal & thin puff-sleeved cardigan. then i went over to ailecia’s to catch up on “project runway,” & spent some quality time on the enclosed porch afterward, smoking bummed menthol cigarettes & making plans for a zine on emotional & physical health sustainability in radical communities (ie, it’s okay to work out & take care of your body in the name of fitness & health; there are more responsible & respectful ways to ask for emotional support than to think you are magically entitled to it from whoever is around; etc), & when i stepped outside to retrieve my recycling crates & head back to my place to make homemade pizza for lunch, there was a frosty nip in the air. jared had soccer practice a few hours later (he joined an intra-mural grad student team) & bundled up in knee socks, a raincoat, etc. when he returned home a few hours later, it was raining, which turned to sleet while i made pasta carbonara for dinner. by the time we went to bed, snow had smothered the neighborhood.

so i am pretending that spring is here by wearing an aggressively flowered headband.

please note the snow in my hair. please also note the wrinkle between my eyebrows that is due to thirty years of furrowing grouchily at the world around me. this weather is making me frowth!

i still have big plans for spring though. i really want to get to work on a new issue of “love letters to monsters” (hilariously referred to as “hate letters to monsters” by a disgruntled reader with poor comprehension skills on goodreads–that has got to be the worst zing ever) & finally put together “up the logic punks!” #3. all the puzzles have been written & done since late july. that was nine months ago! i just have not had the will to drag my typewriter down from its shelf & get to work.

i guess i have been enjoying a vacation from responsibility since i quit the distro back in january. i have whiled away the winter watching all five-&-a-half-to-date seasons of “lost” & reading huge stacks of library books. i haven’t been remotely interested in reading zines, making zines, reading about zines, talking about zines, etc. the entire subject makes me feel tired, prickly, frowthy, & aged before my time.

but jared & i went to chicago over the weekend for his spring break, &…i think i turned the corner. we happened to be in chicago for the first-ever chicago zine fest, which wasn’t really intentional, but also not unwelcome. my good buddy LB (from “truckface” & “susie is a robot” zines & stranger danger distro) gave us houseroom, & she had booked herself a table at the zine fest, so…on saturday morning, she loaded up her messenger bag with distro offerings & we piled into the rental car:

spring break 2010! woo hoo!

yes, that’s a bright red ford mustang. & that is LB struggling to extricate herself from the backseat. she suggested that the back seat is miniaturized because no one is ever supposed to do anything but lie down back there, if you catch my meaning. jared had requested a sub-compact, & they “upgraded” him to this little number. every time we stopped to get gas or snacks, i felt like everyone watched eagerly while i clambered out of the passenger seat, & then shrugged & thought, “i thought whoever was riding in that car would be a lot hotter.” it’s a miracle that we didn’t get any tickets, & that no one broke the windows or smashed the tail lights. a car like this attracts attention. in fact, it even has a safety feature in the event that you attract the absolute wrong kind of attention:

as the diagram helpfully illustrates, you can pull this tag, pop the trunk, & free yourself in the event of an abduction.

anyway, jared & i really didn’t have too much patience for the zine fair. it was awesome to be at a zine event without a table or any zine-selling responsibilities (i realized later that i should have left a stack of my zines on LB’s table & make a little money, but…i’m an idiot so that didn’t happen). without a zine to put to my face, i liked to think that no one recognized me. even people i consider friends, with whom i have hung out several times before in person, failed to recognize me. i blame my hair. it’s ludicrously long now, almost to my waist. i don’t think people expect ciara xyerra, ferocious zine beast behind such publications as the much-reviled “hate letters to monsters,” to have long breck girl hair. but it’s cool. my hair is both my sexy blanket & my groucho marx disguise kit. i thought about assuming a secret identity & baiting people into saying mean things about me, but instead, jared & i just went for a really long walk, culminating in me destroying my carefully curated savings account at H&M.

the most important thing to know about chicago is that there is a little diner pretty much right under the california el stop. it’s called the cozy corner diner. & it serves french toast stuffed with cheesecake. this wonder concoction is typically topped with strawberries & whipped cream, but the second (of three) days in a row that i ordered it, the kitchen was out of fresh strawberries & substituted bananas, which are even better, as far as i’m concerned.

this is the before shot.

this is after i ravenously fell upon the plate.

i thought nothing could top the creme brulee french toast i always get in bloomington. i was so wrong. so deliciously wrong.

the point regarding zines though: okay, neither jared nor i bought anything at the zine fest. jared aptly described the awkwardness of these kinds of events when he said, “i feel like i don’t want to touch anything or look at anyone’s table too closely or i’ll have to buy something that i don’t really want.” there was undoubtedly some great stuff there, but i just was not feeling the uncomfortable small talk vibe. so i waited until monday, when jared & i made a sojourn to quimby’s (you can buy my zines there now if you are in chicago) & i picked up a few items. we sat in a coffeeshop down the street & read for a few hours. nothing i got was mind-blowing on the level of, say, “doris” the first time i ever read it. but i really enjoyed sitting there & reading the zines. & even though there was a little whisper in the back of my mind trying to work me up into the froth of frustration i used to feel when i was reading zines for distro consideration back in the day (three months ago)–you know, the whole, “who cares? get over yourself! no one cares about your facile observations! & could your layout be any uglier?” etc etc–i was able to ignore the voice quite easily & just enjoy the zines for what they were, on their own merits. it was great!

i left the coffeeshop feeling footloose & fancy-free, until i saw a “punk” who’d set his ridiculous mohawk with an entire bottle of elmer’s glue. i turned to jared & said, “that guy looks like a motherfucking asshole,” & then i laughed & laughed because it was obvious that i will NEVER be posi, EVER, not in a million years. in certain ways, i am finding new stores of patience that had been thoroughly depleted by seven years of living & breathing in thankless dedication to zine distribution, but i’m always going to be a judgmental hater & i wouldn’t want it any other way!

possibly the most awesome part of the trip transpired when we got back to lawrence. okay, back story: i grew up in northwest ohio (toledo & its environs). as a child, i was a big fan of a hot farina cereal called cocowheats. it’s like a cocoa version of cream of wheat. i wasn’t necessarily obsessed with it, but i liked it a lot. the day after i turned twenty, i moved away to portland & began my young adult life of drinking a tall glass of chocolate milk & wolfing down a banana nut muffin or two for breakfast everyday, & i pretty much forgot about cocowheats. then i moved around, to montana, los angeles, minneapolis, & settled down in boston. little by little, my memories of cocowheats resurfaced. every now & again, all i wanted was cocoa-flavored hot farina cereal, but apparently any shelf space that may have been allotted to it in new england grocery stores was given over to moxie & brown bread in a can (WTF). i concluded, after over a decade of casual searching, that cocowheats had been discontinued, just like regular-sized krackle candy bars (in high school, my best friend ava & i drove to four different states one night, looking for a regular-sized krackle).

finally, last week, it occurred to me to search the internet. i found the cocowheats manufacturer website & discovered that cocowheats are still in production! you can order them online, but they are also sold in lawrence! only at the super-wal-mart out at 31st & iowa, which is far enough away to necessitate a car or bus. i told jared the happy news & he offered to drive me there when we got home from chicago. i hadn’t been in a wal-mart in over ten years, but i walked in, located the hot cereal aisle, & bought myself two boxes of cocowheats for less than six bucks. verdict: not as awesome as i remembered, but still at least a little bit awesome. yay!

we also hit target, where i purchased two new pillows, a new sheet set, & a new comforter. this is the first time in my entire life that i have purchased my own pillows & blanket. i generally rely on people to give them to me, or i find them in weird circumstances. i haven’t consciously avoided this threshold in adult living, but…life is now totally awesome because i’ve got my zine mojo back, i can eat cocowheats for breakfast everyday, i have a big flowery headband, i have a crew of ladies to hit the gym with if i so desire, it’s spring (even if the entire city is buried beneath a half-foot of snow), LB turned me on to a website that has “dexter” season four available for free viewing, the concept of cheesecake-stuffed french toast has entered my life, i embrace my hatertude, & this is now my wonderful, inviting, bed:

jared is napping in it right this second.

bid adieu to the fry buddy & the bald cult queen

preface: i wrote this recap straight from memory & i know i transposed events a little (by accident). sorry about that.

i’m going to do my best to recap “top model” every week, much as i did with cycle nine…though i kind of petered out in the middle of the cycle back then, thanks to crazy roommates leaving used hypodermic needles in the bathroom, necessitating an executive decision on my part to secretly move out one afternoon while everyone was at work/scoring drugs. now my only roommate is jared, & hopefully he will not develop a sudden IV drug problem that will derail my “top model” blogging plans. i may be stymied in a few weeks when ailecia cancels her cable subscription, but LB turned me on to some internet alternatives i can pursue for timely viewing while i was in chicago this past weekend.

incidentally, in my last recap, i mixed up alexandra (this cycle’s token plussie) & anslee. i said alexandra had gotten an unflattering gym teacher haircut. not so! anslee for the cut & color that looked so terrible on plus-sized burlesque dancer sarah from cycle eleven. i couldn’t remember which girl was which because they are both about as exciting as zines about discovering the diva cup, as far as i’m concerned (which is to say, not at all). but i watched the premiere again in chicago with LB, jared, & lucas, & LB immediately nicknamed anslee “methface,” because she has a face like she’s always fiending for meth. truefax. i’ll never confuse anslee & alexandra again!

this episode opens where we left off last time, with mr. jay wearing a plaid kilt, announcing the the first photo shoot will involve nudity. the wardrobe woman for this season (who gave me flashbacks to cycle three, when the wardrobe woman dressed plus-sized toccara in a bowling shirt & made her scream by stabbing her with a safety pin…good times) has provided thirteen accessories or items of clothing. each girl can choose one item & will otherwise be nekkid (save for some strategically placed nipple shields, if the unblurred photos available online are any indication). the girls race for the mannequin to claim the best clothing/accessories, & then depart for hair/make-up.

ren wore a spangled hat straight out of a jamiroquai video & did quite well (especially considering that she looks like lydia from “beetlejuice” after fifteen years of heroin addiction in every single interview shot). angelea wore fierce heels covered in fun fur & despite looking hella drag, she impressed mr. jay. i worried that alexandra & her ba-donk-a-donk would bring too much sexy to the shoot (because the subtext of these nude shoots is always “sell the garment/product & don’t get too men’s magazine”), but she did really well. she’s still boring though. tatianna struck a weird pose with a scarf covering all her naughty bits & legs wide open to camera, & jay said nothing. i guess it’s cool because the scarf was basically a glorified muumuu? she is like a weird hybrid of cycle eleven’s thalia (horrors) & cycle’s one’s adrianne (yay!). ergo, she will never ever win in a million years. brenda is wearing a bobbed wig that kind of works for her. jessica is astonishingly relaxed & natural in front of the camera, even if she does look not unlike a concentration camp survivor. eat a sandwich, woman!

then we have the problem children: krista kind of sucks. her skin really is gorgeous, but she’s wearing nine pounds of pitch-black eyeshadow & can’t pierce through it. plus they have her in a goofy mushroom cap wig, & her clothing item is a dress that she’s not actually allowed to wear, so she’s holding it against her body like she’s eyeballing the fit in the middle of TJ maxx or something. & she keeps trying to do “dynamic” shots where she ends up pointing the dress away from the camera. it’s a mess.

gabrielle is sporting glittery white leggings & could not look more uncomfortable is she were locked in a basement being photographed by dov charney himself. she’s all hunched & wounded-looking, & jay can’t seem to get her to look more like a model & less like a victim of sex trafficking. it’s seriously painful to watch her crash & burn (especially because she was on my fafarazzi fantasy team–damn it, gabrielle!).

& then we have alasia, who seems to have no comprehension of what is happening while she is being photographed. at one point, she sits on the prop block & leans forward & her belly is totally pooched out. i have no room to talk about belly pooching, but i’m also not a model! has it never occurred to her before that perhaps if she’s being photographed, she should suck it in a little when she sits down? not to mention, she is wearing her vest backwards! i’m sure she gets more boob coverage that way, but it’s seriously like she’s on crack or something. like she just stumbled in off the street & is crashing the shoot. maybe she’s a performance artist sent by andre leon talley to subvert the entire concept of “top model”? okay, that’s my new working theory.

back at the house, ren becomes increasingly aggravated by the antics of the other girls in the house. she confessionalizes that she can’t handle all the fighting & screaming, & that she had “no drama” in her life before coming on the show. how is that possible for a 22-year-old? she is especially annoyed by alasia, who seems to be unable to comprehend the idea of an “inside voice”. in the kitchen, alasia is screaming over something or another, & ren very mildly says, “shut the fuck up.” it’s almost like she didn’t mean to say it & it just slipped out due to pure aggravation. alasia FREAKS THE FUCK OUT. if we thought she was loud before, we had no idea. she starts SCREAMING at ren, “you can’t talk to me like that! how dare you talk to me like that!” etc etc. pretty standard reality TV fare, but with the intensity turned up to eleven, & not in an awesome “spinal tap” way. ren just kind of stands there silently while alasia throws a wooden spoon at her & says, “i know where you sleep!” it’s like ren has been overcome by a tsunami…a tsunami of DRAMA. finally alasia flounces off & we cut to ren confessionalizing that she is “way too intelligent to be in this house”.

look. maybe ren is intelligent. (though i question the intelligence of an aspiring model who gets tattoos–& i say that as a heavily-tattooed woman.) at the very least, perhaps she is more intelligent than most of the other women in the house. but it’s patently UNintelligent to make a comment like that in front of a camera, or in any other capacity where it will be recorded. because it just seems smug & self-satisfied & it lacks class. i like ren a hell of a lot more than i like alasia (which actually isn’t saying much), but they both lost this battle royale.

& this is getting really long, but i also have to say: after alasia leaves, ren stays in the kitchen & tells some of the other girls about what transpired with all of alasia’s screaming & spoon-throwing. she acts above it all, like she just can’t believe what a useless drama queen alasia is (can’t say i disagree). but then we cut to confessional, where she’s crying & talking about how much she wants to go home because of all the fighting & drama. which is it, ren? are you too mature to be ruffled by alasia’s spoon missiles, or are you going to be reduced to tears & play the victim? i think this is really just a classic case of ren being a typical 22-year-old who isn’t that self-aware & is trying to project more toughness, self-confidence, & independence than she has. but it still grates.

judging! & the introduction of andre leon talley! i was pretty excited for this, since ALT is actually relevant to the fashion industry. the judges like ren’s shot. they praise angelea’s shot & tyra says she’d rip out the photo if she saw it in a magazine & go buy the shoes, leading someone i was watching with (aylssa? jared? ailecia?) to remark, “who has so much money that they can just look at a magazine & say, ‘i’m going to buy those shoes’?”. a good point. ALT says that raina looks like a courtesan. tyra has to define the word for her, but raina is pleased. ALT tells anslee that she has given the viewer a “telescopic view into her nether regions”. she has allowed the camera to be her gynecologist. this is so much better than ms. jay making bird noises, i swear.

but it all comes crashing down with alasia’s photo, in which she is wearing her vest backwards, standing with her back facing the camera, looking over her shoulder, feet planted firmly on the ground, with one arm dangling in such a way as to obscure her ass crack. nigel, tyra, & sally hershberger (guest judge & hair stylist for the makeovers) recoil in horror. they vocally decry the hideousness of the photo & drive alasia to tears, & then ALT toys with my emotions by waxing philosophical about how he finds the photo quite beautiful & would frame it in his home. “what room would you put it in?” tyra asks, looking like she is seriously considering running his contract through the shredder when she gets home. “i would hang it in my salon,” ALT declares with a fanciful french accent on “salon”. he goes on to explain that his guests would admire the photo while they discussed books & politics. alasia weeps with gratitude, even though he seems to be saying that he perceives of the photo as a kind of museum quality curiosity or something. it’s all very weird, & tyra & nigel are making completely transparent WTF faces in ALT’s direction & openly laughing at him.

the judges lose their minds over jessica’s photo though–in a good way. though, standing in front of them at judging, they dislike her floofy tutu skirt & force her to strip down to her bodysuit & black tights (which are bagging a bit in the crotch). they say it’s more “model” this way. i’d love to see one of the girls go on go-sees basically dressed like liza minelli in “cabaret”. make it happen! they like brenda’s photo too, even though you can count her ribs & practically see the outlines of her internal organs, she’s so thin. but poor gabrielle–her sad leggings photo is met by a wall of disapproving silence. i knew then she didn’t stand a chance. rich from fourfour said that her hair looks like a fry buddy. goodbye, fry buddy. you were surprisingly terrible at modeling. alasia stood (wept) in the bottom two with gabrielle, & tyra acknowledges that she was saved only by the insanity of the decor scheme in ALT’s salon.

next up: the girls meet up with ms. jay for a runway teach. can i just say that i am SO RELIEVED that ms. jay is no longer a judge? but i do think he’s a good runway teacher…i mean, as good as you can be at a job that is pretty much completely imaginary. he has the girls walk for him & a few of them are busted. ren seriously looks like her legs are broken or something. it hurt my eyes. but no one is completely hopeless. he then sends them outside to cross a huge new york city street while he watches from the window using binoculars. maybe it’s best that gabrielle left. this has such a weird then again, maybe i won’t/peeping tom aspect to it, i’m not sure she’d be able to deal. can i just say, jessica NAILS the walk? she turns everyone’s head. maybe she’ll win this whole damn thing! simone is stunning as well–she’s my favorite right now, even though she needs to bring a little more personality to photos.

not so stunning is naduah, professor of pathological lying at the fake accent university, cancun campus. she’s wearing these weird ankle boots with a puff of white fur at the top & a tight red spaghetti strap tank with a sweetheart neckline. basically, she’s dressed like slutty mrs. claus. WTF? ms. jay is having the girls take off their jackets while they cross the street, so naduah has to flash her mrs. claus costume at everyone. there’s a man on the street interview portion featuring passersby, & one of them says that, “these girls need to put on some clothes!” usually sex negativity like this bothers me, but naduah? put on some clothes. she doesn’t even have hair to wrap around herself in the style of a sexy slanket.

also not stunning is crazy alasia, who is once again acting like a crazy performance artist sent to disrupt taping. ms. jay told the girls to unbutton their jackets from the bottom up to facilitate more graceful removal, so of course alasia stumbles across the street, forgets to remove her jacket at all until the last second, & then pauses to unbutton from the top. is she high? i kind of hoped she’d get hit by a car, but…no luck.

back in the house, naduah brags to the other girls about how she’s walked in four “international fashion weeks” (in cancun? that’s about as prestigious as walking in toledo fashion week). apparently she is married & she & her husband take sexy photos together a lot. she was living on the street at one point & “playboy” asked her to do a shoot for them & she said no because she has principles. raina asks why naduah would refuse a paying gig if she’s living on the street & naduah doesn’t have a coherent answer. then she starts talking about being in a cult again & having eight brothers & sisters. first of all, i think naduah got into alasia’s stash. second of all, i’m starting to think that this is the revenge of mallory pike. can’t you just see mallory growing up, shaving off her hair, moving to cancun, faking some crazy accent, taking sexy photos with her husband, & bragging about being too principled for “playboy”…for the cameras at “america’s next top model”? (yeah, i know mallory only had seven brothers & sisters, but i have a hunch that john pike may have had something to do with marnie barrett’s paternity. now we know why ol’ ham sr. split the scene.)

volunteer mortician tatianna has ZERO TIME for naduah & dismisses her as a pathological liar. suddenly, i am loving tatianna.

challenge time! the ladies meet with ms. jay & fashion designer rachel roy. nice! a real designer that anyone has ever actually heard of. the girls will be walking an ersatz show wearing rachel roy designs in some kind of weird bank. they have to walk down a huge marble staircase & then navigate a runway that is bisected by two huge swinging pendulums. i like where this is going! i hope someone jumps on to a pendulum & goes for a ride! the whole point of this exercise is to bring timing & good pacing to the runway. & to also not lose your model cool if you get conked by a pendulum.

simone is first & she is immediately whacked with a pendulum. i laughed, but was disappointed that it appeared that the pendulums are not that big a deal. i imagine that they were like 600 pounds each & would knock a girl right off her feet. but simone barely even wobbled. a bunch of other ladies also get bumped by the pendulums coming or going. a couple of them make it through unscathed–most notably brenda, who looks gorgeous in her gown.

& then alexandra comes out. first, she wipes out a third of the way down the staircase. she skids all the way down on her shins & rips her dress. she is totally ruffled, but she gets up & keeps walking, even though she’s got some serious bitchface going. she makes it to the end of the runway without incident, but is steamrolled by a pendulum on the way back. it hilariously seems to nudge her off the runway in slow-motion. she clambers back on & keeps walking. oh, how we laughed. & then rewound the TiVo & laughed some more. the only thing that would have been better is if the runway had been surrounded by a moat, so that alexandra would have fallen into a gross swampy moat, perhaps filled with crocodiles. oh well. you can’t win ‘em all.

brenda wins the challenge & gets to keep her dress. because jessica got first call-out at panel, she is also allowed to keep her dress…which is unfortunately some kind of unflattering blazer situation. but whatever. she can wear it to PTA meetings back in arkansas if this modeling thing doesn’t work out. she is pleased.

time for the second photo shoot. it’s a weird, gross one. the girls meet mr. jay on a rooftop in brooklyn. it’s clearly a gray, blustery, chilly day. he says they will be modeling a new fragrance that goes on purple & gradually disappears as it dries on your skin. um…why is this a desirable feature in a perfume in any world? the photo will be a close-in beauty shot where the girls will spritz their necks with the perfume & pose while they are being hammered with faux rain & a wind machine–the classic “fight the elements” shoot.

very few of the girls manage to pull this off. it seems like none of them were prepared for how uncomfortable they would be, being wet & fanned in the col while wearing guaze & dripping with gross purple perfume. ren looks like she’s about twenty seconds away from jumping off the roof–she looks completely miserable. krista’s skin is like buttah, but she is really struggling to connect with the camera. she keeps squinting against the rain & wind. alasia once again seems unaware that she should actually look in the direction of the camera during her shoot. i’d love it if a lightning bolt struck her down. naduah annoys the other girls during hair & make-up by dusting her bald pate in dark powder & strutting around with no pants on. she seems to have some big ideas for her shoot, but all of them involve leaving her mouth hanging open, & her lip is trembling in the cold & she looks terrible. angelea looks like a dead cat recently fished out of the hudson–in other words, HORRIFIC.

the judges are generally underwhelmed at panel. jessica’s shot was a huge letdown after her great nude shoot. naduah showed up at panel looking approximately 57 years old with all the powder & product & drawn-on eyebrows obscuring her face. tyra actually wet a cloth & made her scrub her make-up off. anslee made excellent use of her big square jaw (seriously, she did), while brenda was victimized by side lighting & looked like someone’s grandma. krista’s skin was breathtaking, even is krista herself is kind of not-so-pretty. simone was a little dull, but so beautiful. raina’s shot was GAW-JUSS–she was the only one who really nailed her picture. she got first call-out, while ren & naduah landed in the bottom two. i kind of expected ren to self-eliminate after all her crying over house drama, or i expected the judges to cut her for whining at panel about how the rain & wind hurt her contacts. but they surprised me by giving naduah the boot, claiming that she had an edgy look but was only bringing safe, boring, unoriginal poses to her shoots. i was not unhappy to see naduah go. maybe she’ll give “playboy” a call & pitch the slutty mrs. claus idea.

ciara xyerra world tour

okay, not really. i just realized that i forgot to mention that jared & i will be in chicago this weekend/early next week. yes, i know about the zine fair. we will swing by on saturday & take a look around. i am not tabling or reading or doing anything else. i’m actually really looking forward to attending a zine fair where i won’t be sitting at a table trying to sell things. i won’t have to tell people off for sitting on my table. (story: at the portland zine symposium in 2004, calvin johnson from beat happening actually sat on my table. like, on top of the zines i was selling. while i was right there. made himself mighty comfortable. until i was like, “dude? get a chair. you’re getting ass prints on the merchandise.” later someone called him “alvin” & i laughed.) i won’t be trapped behind a table where all & sundry can track me down & make awkward conversation. (story: at the midwest zine fest in detroit in 2003, a zinester who shall remain nameless came over to introduce himself. i didn’t realize that he did zines, but i recognized his name because i had sent zine payments to someone i distro’ed “care of” this dude. so i said, “oh! you’re the guy who gets [name redacted]‘s mail!” & he was all, “i make a zine too, you know! i don’t just get someone else’s mail!”)

i haven’t been to chicago in TWELVE YEARS, which is kind of unfathomable. & that time twelve years ago was actually my ONLY TIME ever in chicago, even though i grew up four hours away. how does that happen? & the one time i was there was for some big fancy gay rights conference, & all i did was gay conference stuff. i saw les feinberg speak & i remember i went to a workshop on the portrayal of lesbians in mainstream pornography. we were shown samples. there was an ice dildo. it kinds of traumatized me, which is why it’s all i remember. we went to boys’ town too, because we were lame small-town gaymos in the big city for the first time. i wore a t-shirt that said, “ain’t no commie gonna take my guns, a wristwatch patterned with frogs, satin pants, & a blue angora turtleneck. i thought i looked really professional.

okay, so: what should we do in chicago? places to eat? (especially burritos & breakfast.) places to shop? i know about quimby’s. what else should i know?any chicagoans reading this who want to bask in the glow of jared & i? (jared is pretty cool, don’t worry. i’m the dud in this relationship.)

also, jared just found out that he got a new york city summer internship doing some kind of hydrology-related crap (don’t ask for details because i’ll fall into a coma of boredom & incomprehension), & our plan was that i’d go live with amanda colianni in philly for six weeks if he got it. so hey! i am moving to philly from june 1 until july 15! that includes my 31st birthday! i have been to philly twice, for about three days each time. i have seen the satellite cafe, the mutter museum, & the wooden shoe. what else should i know about? should i just spend the entire summer running up & down the steps of the philly art museum while uplifting music plays behind me?

i totally just inspired myself to complete a challenge that involves me running up & down those stairs EVERYDAY for the entire time i am there (except for times when i am in new york visiting jared, or in barre, massachusetts, attending jared’s cousin’s wedding).

oh, another question: i was invited to jared’s cousin’s wedding. i have never really been to a “real” wedding before. i mean, i got married in vegas. while wearing sunglasses. indoors. my friend cory got married in 2003, but the dress code was fairly informal because it was in our house. i think i wore a weird black velvet tent dress with a t-shirt underneath. what do i wear to a real wedding for people who are registered at bed, bath, & beyond? halp!

ps–whenever jared & i get married, i want us to only register at independent businesses. why don’t more people do that? i’m also doing that whenever i have a kid, if someone decides to throw me a baby shower. i mean, if someone WANTS to buy me a mega-pack of onesies from target, i won’t stop them, but i won’t register for them either. is that sensible?

i’m breaking up this text with a few fashion photos:

awesome headband with a cat on it. i like it because the cat looks really angry.

i got those t-strap flats i wrote about a while ago (& the black fluevogs). here i am, modeling them in a shaft of spring-like sun.

okay, i thought of a few more things to say about “top model”:
1) tyra & the jays (sweet name for a band, incidentally) made the girls strike a pose in their swimsuits during the interview portion. every single girl looked seriously jacked up in their posing. half of them seemed to be doing a charles atlas weightlifting move, & the other half looked like mimes trying to liberate themselves from an invisible box. i guess they did their homework, because no one who got screen time reduced ms. jay to his patented, “hey gurl” hand-on-hip mockery, but i’m not entirely convinced that this was a step forward.

2) apparently right now i am the top google hit for “naduah fake accent”. i am really honored to be entering the pantheon of “top model” bloggery in this fashion, but sadly, i don’t know if her accent is fake or not. but it does remind me of that episode of “friends” where ross was nervous about teaching his first class at NYU, so he started doing a scottish accent, & rachel & monica catch him in the act & prank call him to offer him a position at the fake accent university. i think naduah might have a named chair there. very prestigious.

3) i also got a hilarious angry(ish) comment from someone defending rejected semi-finalist hallie on my last post. to refresh your memory, hallie was the one who bragged about being the godchild of cybill shephard (every time i think of cybill shephard, i think about how she dated elvis presley & said in an interview, “there was always one thing elvis wouldn’t eat…until he met me!” stay classy, cybill–we all want to be kept up to date on how you received oral sex from someone who died 36 years ago) & admitted that she was a “spoiled brat” who has “never worked a day in [her] life,” “still receives a weekly allowance,” & is often ferried to “paris…& new york to go shopping.” she even “owns some chanel” (like that’s an accomplishment–have you seen the wackadoodle shit uncle karl’s been coming up with lately? bag ladies wouldn’t wear it). apparently hallie was a victim of editing, & was actually selected as the 13th finalist but had to be replaced by indie rock ren due to “medical reasons”. i’d heard a rumor that a girl at castings had a seizure & had to be replaced. due to the fact that tyra told the final twelve that they were going to be getting a thirteenth roommate in new york as soon as the rejects were herded out of the room, i can only assume that that entire portion was very carefully edited around the fact that hallie was actually the last hamster selected, & upon hearing the news, she collapsed with a seizure & had to withdraw from the competition, tyra immediately got the “new york mystery roommate” idea (possibly while hallie was still lying on the floor), & that once hallie recovered, she was fed some lines to repeat about her belief that tyra had only wanted twelve girls & she surely would have been the thirteenth pick under other circumstances…& i hope you can tell that i don’t buy any of this.

but i am still really psyched to be getting comments from defensive strangers. the only thing that could make this moment sweeter would be if maybe the angry commenter became so angry that she tore off her wig & pounded on the floor in rage. make it happen!

i can’t believe stimpy got cut already

let’s talk about “america’s next top model” cycle 14. i love “top model”. i have seen every cycle, some more than once. but losing the awesome writers they had during the writer’s strike a few years ago kind of ruined things a little bit. it was in the middle of cycle seven, & suddenly the episodes got a lot more boring. sometimes i think that reality TV writers don’t get as much credit as they deserve. you can’t always just rely on hilarious personalities who lack self-awareness to bring the LOLs. sometimes things need to be shaped behind the scenes. i mean, was it really cycle seven michelle’s idea to call her mom & come out of the closet on mother’s day? or did the writers put her up to it? because that shit was comedy gold. what about jade from cycle six & her brilliant poetry montage that made the mid-season clip show gotta-see TV? no way tyra came up with that idea. the game hasn’t quite been up to those standards in a while. but of course i will still watch, because i have a compulsive personality disorder.

it’s always tough to get a bead on the girls this early in the season. there are just too damn many of them, & they’re all hamming it up & vying for camera time. witness: alasia throwing herself down on the floor when tyra met the semi-finalists & screaming out in near-religious ecstasy. that transparent display of pandering made her dead in my book until moments later when she tore off her wig. there is no transgression so great that it can’t be remedied by a dramatic wig reveal. though, with the wig (& hence, the source of all her powers) gone, alasia once again became dead to me when she repeated her floor-pounding theatrics when she was selected for the house. give that shit a rest, alasia, because no casting director on earth is going to be impressed by it.

angelea from the season 12 semi-finals is back. jared calls her “buffalo” because of all the screaming & crying she did at the cycle 12 castings, weeping over how she “cain’t go back to buffalo, [she] just cain’t!” this is the woman with the three-inch (hopefully acrylic) fingernails painted with bile green stripes, who stayed overnight in a port authority bathroom stall to make the auditions in new york city. i suspect that she bombed the psych test for cycle 12 & that’s why she didn’t get cast, because she was already stirring up the dramzzz with sandra, & she does have very nice bone structure. & you know tyra would love to see the meltdown that would accompany the loss of those fingernails. but let’s face facts: she slept in a port authority bathroom stall. no way she had the mental health reserves to stand by & watch dinosaur-faced teyona wow the judges with her denture cream smile. she got her shit together during the shorty cycle, lost the nails, & got a spot in the house for cycle 14.

i already hate her & her “bitch, please” face. last night’s premiere was (obviously) the first episode of the cycle & angelea was already busting out her smirks & scowls with brenda over breakfast, leading to a rift in the house & a screaming match between alasia, krista, & angelea, while (i assume) brenda cried out on the patio. i like reality TV drama as much as the next person–but within reason! not before these girls even have their very first photo shoot! i concede that all of this shit is edited to within an inch of its life, & the so-high-pitched-only-dogs-can-hear-it screaming we saw last night could be from weeks down the line. but they showed angelea sowing discord in the walk-in closet by claiming more than her fair 1/13th of space. where do these girls get off? why can’t they make even the tiniest shred of effort to keep the peace until they actually know each other well enough to start huffing & puffing.

in the semi-finals, two girls who wound up being passed over for spots in the house immediately bonded & started hating on the other girls. they would be self-professed “spoiled brat” hallie (who looked not a day younger than 47) & pierced/tattooed-but-in-an-unfortunate-tweety-bird-way danielle. they hung out together & complained about the other girls being loud & fake & “undeserving” of a spot in the semi-finals. because reality TV is always about rewarding hard work & self-sacrifice, right? these girls had known each other for all of maybe a day or two, tops. & outside the enforced confines of a radisson conference room awaiting an interview with tyra & the jays, hallie wouldn’t have wasted two seconds of time on danielle. & i don’t understand why danielle thought that lip piercings & a bull ring were going to fly in the highly competitive world of beginner’s modeling. maybe you can get away with that shit once you have a name & can get castings based on who you are, but until then, it’s all about being a blank slate.

i was pleased with the casting photo shoot they did though, where each girl had to do her own hair & make-up & wear the same tank top & embody a model of her choosing. every cycle, they have girls who know fuck-all about the business & really seem to believe that they will become supermodels on the back of being pretty. i liked that they made the girls show what kind of working knowledge they have of the fashion industry, & i laughed & laughed at not-so-bright tatianna (a volunteer mortician, which i really don’t think is legal), who thought megan fox was a supermodel. i cringed for alasia, who knew naomi campbell’s name, but not a single ement of her body of work. i cringed momentarily for naduah, who chose to embody kate moss, just because, you know, who doesn’t know the name “kate moss”? but then she made it work…

…at least until she started talking about being raised in a cult. a cult that i can only assume was dedicated to the development & implementation of incredibly fake accents. during the backstage casting moments, her ludicrous accent was all over the map, but when naduah was exclaiming over the loft twenty minutes later, she was talking like any other mall rat from southern california. cancun & nudity sex cults, my ass. then again, i was no fan of cycle 13 nicole during the premiere either, with all of her crying over how her classmates thought she was weird for using a wheelbarrow instead of backpack to transport her schoolwork to class. i mean…a wheelbarrow? where did she park it?

other observations: the casting gimmick this time involved the girls developing their profiles on “myfierce” in an effort to join tyra’s “network”. “myfierce”? really? when “fiercebook” is so much more clever? i guess this is the same woman who gave us “smize” (& inspired jared to develop “frowth”–frowning with one’s mouth, his reaction to “smize”). we already knew we weren’t playing with a full deck.

two ladies (jessica from arkansas & redheaded brenda) “got pregnant the first time they ever had sex!” “i don’t know how it happened!” exclaimed jessica. that explains A LOT. they now both have babies, & jessica is married to her statutory raping baby daddy (she was 16, he was 22, they met at church & were then shunned when the baby bump became apparent).

raina looks like denise richards. alasia wore earrings shaped like tiny handcuffs. krista fears the penises of white men because they make her think of raw beef. she is also, i’m sorry, hideous. how did she get cast & that cute freckled girl we barely saw in the semi-finals got cut? or pretty nedi from texas, who really just needed a little eyebrow work? maybe krista takes a fierce still photo, because video work does nothing for her. if she makes it to the commercial challenge, we’re all going to be in for a world of pain.

aimee, the blonde singer who would really have to know her angles in order to work around that nose, should totally give up on modeling & apply to be cinderella at disney world. she would be PERFECT for the job!

tyra cast twelve girls, which did not include spoiled rich girl hallie. between sobs that made her already-M&M-sized eyes look even more tiny, she assured us that she would have been the 13th choice if tyra had wanted to cast thirteen girls. this desperate stab at self-preservation was immediately proven delusional when tyra announced that she wanted to cast thirteen girls, so the twelve she’d selected in the radisson continental breakfast station (i assume, judging by decor) would meet their thirteenth roommate in new york. haha, hallie! loved that. i love when the editing is really mean to a girl who is wallowing in hubris.

in new york, the girls wander around & somehow avoid getting mugged even though we have yokels like jessica, gasping over subway maps & those little fences they put around trees. get a grip, woman. outside madame tussaud’s, they are accosted by perez hilton, who promised not to make cracks about celebrity children for six months in exchange for a guest spot on “top model”. that tyra, always looking out for the little people. she is truly this generation’s oprah. tyra springs out of nowhere, & i think she was wearing a jumpsuit. she introduces the girls to ren, their thirteenth roommate, a shaggy-haired tattooed hipster with bad skin. no one seems especially threatened.

then she sends the girls for make-overs. brenda cries & cries when they cut off her boring long hair in favor of a shaggy pixie. i guess it does kind of make her look like miranda from “sex & the city,” which is probably not the way to book jobs. krista is very displeased with her incredibly long snap-on snap-off ponytail. she says, “this is what i do at home when i don’t want to fuss with my hair,” but i don’t get that because her pre-make-over hair was some kind of horrifying origami construction straight of “designing women” or something. the long ponytail does wonders for her (though i still find her bone structure not at all model-esque). ren’s make-over makes her look like patti smith. she seriously looks like she just wandered over from williamsburg & got caught up in the fray. sorority girl simone gets a fabulous shaved-on-the-sides look that does WONDERS for her. she’s like cycle 3’s kelle, minus the snout. for once, no one gets that awful fluorescent yellow bleach job that tyra loves so much. though tatianna gets a cut & dye that makes her look like a gym teacher. sad.

the girls pose for their make-over shots dressed as aerobics instructors from 1983, probably in head-to-toe american apparel. full disclosure: i have occasionaly considered severing ties with friends who buy clothing from american apparel. not only is the dude who runs the whole thing a total sleazehound, but that shit is UGLY. the 80s & early 90s have been making a fashion comeback for a few years now & talk about frowthing! i am getting frowth lines from all the sweetheart neckline/spaghetti strap/tiny floral print sundresses & jersey tube top playsuits making the rounds. this shit was ugly the first time around, & it’s even uglier now that we know better! spare my eyes & my sanity, i beg of you!

the show closes on a nude photo shoot cliffhanger. i predict that shunned-from-her-church jessica will have issues with this, but, hey, if she’s shunned already, maybe she’ll be fine. i also predict brenda will be reluctant, just because she seems incredibly uptight. & at judging, we will meet andre leon talley from “vogue” magazine! as long as he doesn’t make bird noises & call it critique, this is leaps & bounds better than ms. jay.

race on the lost island

this might be somewhat old news, but it’s totally awesome. WARNING for those of you who are only like two or three seasons into “lost”: spoilers in the video. awesome, awesome spoilers.

give me blog recommendations

i want to add some new blogs to my daily reading! i like to read blogs written by people i know (well or vaguely) through zines, which means, if you are reading this because you have read my zines, & you happen to have a blog you update occasionally, give me the address! i also like to read other kinds of blogs, like nostalgia blogs about the pop culture of my childhood & adolescence, & stuff relating to pop culture & feminism. & i like to read about cooking, crafts, sewing, etc. just tell me a few of your favorite blogs & i will go look at them.

man, i really hate the word “blog”.

i feel like i am still finding my sea legs in writing here, even though i’ve been doing it for a few months now. i am still struggling to find my focus, especially because i am constantly distracted by more private writing endeavors. such a strange mix of people read this thing, i never really understand “who i’m writing for,” you know? when i’m writing about kathleen hanna, for example, i don’t know how much context to provide. there are people reading who are probably thinking, “kathleen who?” even with a provided biography & there are others who are like, “dude, i know all about kathleen hanna, i don’t need all this tedious background!”

i guess i’ll just write what i want to write.

i can’t believe it’s march already. the weather is vaguely sunny & the temperature is supposed to hit 55 over the weekend! the farmer’s market opens again in six weeks, & i’ll be able to buy fresh basil by the handful, the most delicious bacon in the world, fresh flowers, chocolate zucchini bread baked by a nice farmer lady, herbal tinctures of dubious effectiveness, whole fresh chickens for roasting, chocolate cheesecake, & so forth. i have learned quite a bit about cooking, & especially about seasonal eating & vegetables (though i am still a total neophyte compared to most people–i think i ate maybe two servings of vegetables per year before i started dating jared), so i am more excited about the farmer’s market this year than i usually am.

i will also get to observe a whole new winter crop of babies & froth with jealousy because i don’t have a baby. even though i admit that right now i like the idea of having a baby a lot more than i’d probably like the reality of sleep deprivation & diaper laundering. i am slowly easing into baby fever with the hope that it will peak right around the time that jared is done with grad school & gets on board with the idea. thus far, the fever does not involve actually hanging out with kids. so really, i’m being extremely unrealistic.

on the off chance that anyone from lawrence is actually reading this & silently thinking, “this ciara person sounds interesting & i’d like to discuss books with her,” i am willing to set aside my pride & admit that i wish i was in a book club. i say “set aside my pride” not because book clubs aren’t awesome but because they conceptually have a whiff of bored housewife/complaining about one’s partner/suburbia to them. but i won’t let that stand in my way. i used to be in this anarcha-feminist book club in boston. it was a weird & somewhat terrible experience. there’s not a lot of explicitly anarcha-feminist literature out there in the published world, so we kind of had to reach to find things to read. we read against love, by laura kipnis, an excellent book, but not especially anarchist or even feminist in a direct & straightforward way. i had everyone read wise children, by angela carter, so we could talk about things like aging & beauty standards & bawdy old dames casting off one’s expectations of aging femininity. it’s like “the golden girls,” with an extra heaping helping of shakespearean intrigue, vaudeville, & consensual incest. but no one really got that except for me.

the things i didn’t like about the anarcha-feminist book club were that a) no one ever really had any insights or even opinions about the books we read, aside from, “i liked it,” or, “i didn’t like it.” when i would ask why people felt this or that way, they mostly looked blank or said something prosaic like, “it was hard to read about all the violence” (in reference to the bandit queen of india). not exactly the stuff thrilling conversation is made of. also, b) there was one woman in the group who was like an anarcha-feminist version of the kind of lady who goes to her book club meetings, gets soused, commandeers the conversation to complain about her partner & suburbia & being a bored college student (the urban 20-year-old version of the bored housewife), & cannot handle polite social cues. in her case, she talked a lot about non-monogamy & the struggles of balancing multiple boyfriends & how her boyfriends invisibilized her queer identity. that’s great, but also irrelevant, boring, & tedious, & somehow she managed to relate every book we read back to these themes. it was like every book club meeting was an outpost of a women’s studies 101 class where She Tells Everyone How It Is. & there is a reason i took precisely one women’s studies class in college.

what is it about being in your early twenties & thinking everything you have to say is utterly compelling, even though it’s actually banal & trite? i was at a social event not long ago where a little crowd of twentysomethings were discussing their middle names & how they are spelled. at another event, a twentysomething dude tried to keep the conversation afloat by asking everyone about jobs they used to have before they started doing what they do now. these glorified ice breakers are always just an entry point for someone to say, “my middle name is leigh! like lee, but spelled l-e-i-g-h! isn’t that weird?” (answer: no. also, shut up.) or, “i used to drive a forklift. i know, can you believe it? me, engaged in whatever genteel desk-bound pursuit i am currently engaged in, i drove a forklift one summer! my working-class credibility file is expanding as we speak!” (response: me too. who cares? shut up.)

i was discussing this phenomenon with someone ten years older than me, who wisely pointed out that sometimes people really are just banal & trite & they never grow out of it. she said that she’s been to parties full of forty-year-olds where someone will start talking about middle names or summer jobs they had in college, & she has the same reaction: shut up, who cares, oh my god. so maybe it’s not an age thing. but it feels so much more apparent to me now that i am a little older. i can’t sit here & pretend that i was never that eager-to-please early twentysomething who’d concoct a conversation starter out of something that might amuse a second grader for fifteen minutes, just because maybe i had a little story i wanted to share. i find that kind of behavior so gauche now, the person i used to be is pretty much completely unrecognizable. but hey. i’m writing about this on a blog, so in some ways, our basest pleas for attention all come full circle.