Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The charms and delights of Pretty in Pink

I absolutely and sincerely love John Hughes' Pretty in Pink. It does have some strikes against it, I freely admit - it's dated at this point (and it feels like it), the dialogue is often clunky, the whole "rich boy with girl from the wrong side of the tracks" conceit is both cliche and often mishandled, it has some deeply cheesy moments, and the prom dress Molly Ringwald's Andie fashions for herself is quite possibly the most heinous garment ever committed to film. Seriously:

It's so terrible. I have seen this movie quite a few times, and I honestly can't figure out how she even got the damned thing on. I think the filmmakers must have had to sew poor Molly Ringwald into it. It's choker-tight around her neck and sack-like everywhere else. This thing hurts my feelings, it's so ugly.

Even with all that, though, this movie is truly affecting and wonderful. Part of it is because John Hughes is just a damned genius when it comes to teen films - he's so good at getting the right ambience, at mining tender and poignant moments out of hackneyed situations and pulling terrific performances out of his young actors. This is particularly true for James Spader, who I adore - only three years after Pretty in Pink, he would star in the classic indie film sex, lies and videotape - who is a brilliant, sleazy presence, swanning around the school in sock-free loafers and linen leisure suits. It's obvious that he's a star in the making. Molly Ringwald is excellent as always, with an occasionally petulant good-girl vulnerability that makes her a thrill to watch. Jon Cryer is a joy to watch as the quirky, lovelorn Duckie, who sets the goddamn screen on fire when he does a dance to - of all the songs - Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." (Seriously.) Even Andrew McCarthy, who grew on me upon repeat viewings, is easy to dismiss as a bland pretty boy (his character's name is Blane, which Duckie hilariously dismisses as a "household appliance), but there's something quietly wonderful about him, too. His indecisive, weak-willed character is perfectly suited to him (something of a backhanded compliment, I know), and he has this meek, slightly pained smile that he affects, and it's stunningly effective. He isn't the most dynamic performer, and it's probable that he just lucked into the role, but I actually think he's kind of perfect in it.

As with so many great teen films, it has a lot of style, from the stellar new wave soundtrack to the thrifty, of-the-moment clothing. I know I came down hard on that prom dress, but I love Duckie's prom outfit almost as much as I loathe that dress: a blue smoking jacket, black pants, a bolo tie, and white loafers. I would have loved to have had a prom date who was outfitted in such a way. Duckie, you did prom right. His style is pretty killer in the whole movie, actually - flamboyant and offbeat but also surprisingly current. He pretty much looks like a modern hipster, in a lot of ways.

It's Duckie, and his lovelorn aching for Andie, that makes the film. I may have mentioned this before on this blog (I certainly intended to, at any rate), but I love the decision not to have them end up together. I love that the fact that he wants her the most, and deserves her, doesn't mean she'll love him back - or even that they'll be right for each other. A lesser film would have had him "earn" her, but that isn't the point. That isn't how these decisions are made. It makes the conclusion infinitely more effective, having him let go of that particular dream in favor of new ones. R.I.P. John Hughes, you brilliant devil.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Here's how it is.

My Firefly-related OCD wants to follow that up with "The earth got used up..." But I will restrain myself. (This time. I make no promises about gratuitious Firefly-quoting in future.)

*Dusts off cobwebs*

Okay, so I disappeared from the internet. I've been hiding in something of a corner over here for some time now, but I'm starting things up again. Because I need to actually start communicating with the world again, at least a bit, and putting some creativity out there - because I know it's still in there, but it's gotten a bit of a beatdown of late.

Here's what's happened -

I graduated from my big fancy college last May. (Small fancy college?) I kind of can't believe I pulled it off, and believe me it was touch and go there for a while - stopped going to classes, kind of fell off the face of the earth a little bit, got myself thrown into the hospital, had some breakdowns, kind of stopped eating, refused to talk to anyone about it or ask for help. It wasn't pretty, and graduating was kind of a close thing, to be honest. But I got through it. Somehow. Two majors in seven semesters. I can't say I exactly recommend my method of coping, to anyone, but I managed. I got my degree and got out of there.

I've been home ever since. Aimless, and pushing all those feelings of anxiety and frustration way the fuck down, so that I'm sleeping too much and not doing a damned thing of any value any longer. That's part of where this blog comes in. I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life, but I know I need to write (at the moment television writer is kind of my dream job, and I foresee it staying that way), and in order to do that I need to get my shit together a little bit, get myself out there and stop it with this hidey-hole bullshit. I don't know when I'll move out, and frankly I'm terrified of leaving, but I'm scared of staying, too. I know this kind of stasis and arrested development (ha!) can't, and shouldn't, last.

I should have left Smith. I should have transferred somewhere less academically demanding so that I could focus on other things. Learn to drive. Get a job. Get in a real relationship. Maybe study abroad, even. Have actual life experiences. But I didn't, and now I have to make up for all of it.

So, the blog is coming back. (The posts won't be like this, I promise. I'll try to keep the self-indulgent bullshit to a minimum and talk about more interesting things.) I have some ideas and I am open to suggestions. Pop culture stuff, fun stuff, beautiful stuff. Exciting and life-affirming and analytical. Bringing myself into it, just better. I want to do all of this better. And enjoy myself. Good resolutions, yes?

Join me. Play with me.

To reward you for listening to me thus far, please enjoy this buddy-comedy version of Tyrion and Bronn in Game of Thrones:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I don't know if I've mentioned this before here, but for a couple of years now, I've decided that I want my first-dance song at my wedding, should I ever choose to get married, to be "Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star. It's a really beautiful, dreamy, lush, gently orchestral song with a softly lilting rhythm that is just perfectly romantic without being saccharine. There is, of course, only one person I've ever actually fantasized about marrying (and only one person with whom I've ever actually seen any real point to marriage. I never understood why people even really bother until I met him.)

I try not to get overly sentimental. It's so easy to slip from being emotional into being maudlin.

But I'd rather be at the mercy of my emotions than be dead inside. My therapist that I saw while I was home wants me to get a tattoo and drink and have sex and wear leather pants and be a little bit reckless and young and feel strong. I would rather be a mess than feel nothing. And I've felt so little over the past few years, other than a quietly deadened loneliness. I so rarely get really sad or happy or angry. All I feel is my weak, sick, painful body.

That's not who I want to be, anymore.

I used to go to a lot of concerts. They're one of the real highlights, actually, of my middle school and high school life. Music was a big part of what kept me going. When I had super long thick hair I gave myself whiplash from thrashing around in my room. To Nirvana, usually. In early high school I was in love with someone who loved Nine Inch Nails, so I started listening to them, too. For weeks at a time I would wake up to "Head Like a Hole" playing from my CD player. (Pretty Hate Machine was my favorite NiN album. It still is. I find that there's a playful and irreverent spirit to it that was just lost later on.) I painted my fingernails black over crimson nail polish and wore combat boots. I didn't sleep much. I dreamed a lot. I was skinny and nervous and too pale. I cried a lot and sometimes forgot to eat. I hissed and sneered and sometimes walked arm-in-arm with the boy I loved down the hallways and felt so happy that it hurt, because I know how fleeting that intensity was. I loved him painfully, unimaginably, with an almost physical force. I wrote all the time.

And I was oh, so far from happy. But that girl is gone. I'm afraid that I'll never be that bold, that intense, that vital ever again.

Being back at school isn't so bad. It's hardest on the weekends. My classes are great and exciting and stimulating and they keep me going through the week. The weekends are the tough part. They always have been. I dig deep and find little more than emptiness.

Leather pants are a start. Tattoos maybe, body piercings. Modeling myself, slightly at least, in this regard, after the pure raging id that is Faith from Buffy, played by the ravishing Eliza Dushku.

Obviously, crossbows come later. But a little more id in my life is not a bad idea.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

So! It's been quite a while, yes? Haven't had much to report. It's summer now, and I'm still home, and still jobless and mostly directionless. I have been seeing doctors and am in therapy, which was the most important part about this taking a semester off thing, anyway. I do sometimes regret it and wish I had stuck around, had that spring semester with Lisa - which I so wanted after she'd been away last fall - and had a last semester with my senior friends, but it was kind of the only choice. I was just too sick to continue. Full stop.

I have been officially readmitted, and hopefully will actually have a place to live in my house in the fall (not quite clear on that yet.) Hopefully I'll be able to graduate with both my majors, but if I have to drop one it's really not the end of the world. Finishing my English major won't be a problem at all, since I took so many of my required classes so early on. It would break my heart to have to drop American Studies as a major, but not as much as it would kill me to be taking two seminars each semester which could be what I would have to do. I don't know. My advisors will work some kind of magic, I bet.

As for why I'm writing so obscenely early in the morning, well, there's really only one reason I would be willingly awake and alert and having free time this early: namely, I never actually got to sleep last night. I'm not sure what happened there. I had some brief in-and-out sleep between about 4 and 5:30, but only for a few minutes at time and never deeply at all. I got up at about 5:30 because I was starving, came downstairs for some heavy bread and apple juice. (To the delight and confusion of Duncan and Mabel, who were quite excited for the company so early in the morning.) Went back upstairs and tried to sleep. Got up again at 7 to take some Advil for my headache, hoping that would help. Realized I was just not falling back asleep, said "fuck it" and took a shower and got up for good. My mom isn't even awake yet. She'll be pretty disoriented when she sees me. When left to my own devices I usually get up around 1.

I understand why I had trouble actually going to sleep - I had a chai latte too late yesterday while at Barnes & Noble, where I spent the bulk of my afternoon, reading foreign Vogues. (An extremely pleasant way to spend one's afternoon, all told.) I really shouldn't have caffeine of any quantity higher than green tea. It makes me jittery, lightheaded, and my heart race, and apparently robs me of sleep.

The Voguefest was delightful, though. I discovered that British Vogue has sections on fashionable deals that are ACTUALLY deals (as opposed to American Vogue, which lists, like, a $250 bathing suit as a total steal.) I also discovered that Lara Stone is fucking ubiquitous lately, as part of the fashion industry's attempt to foster a healthier body image and make a better name for themselves - look, this one size 4 model! We don't put incredibly unreasonable standards of thinness on our models and clients! Never! It's just so self-congratulatory.

I do like Lara, though. I especially love her Versace ads, as she's perfect for them. Bold, sexy and sometimes a little loud and trashy. A rail-thin model just can't really make those kinds of clothes sing. So good for her for coming along at the right moment and getting the opportunity to capitalize on it.

I dig her tooth gap, too. Another part of being unexpectedly just-right - it's unique and instantly recognizable a la Lauren Hutton, but also somehow actually makes her sexier. No mean feat.

Honestly, I'm not even sure what I'm talking about anymore, at this point. I am so bloody exhausted. (But not sleepy at all. Hence the problem.) Wish me luck, you guys.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Well, so, I haven't blogged in awhile. There hasn't been a lot going on to write about, particularly - I am still homebound on my medical leave, and therefore don't have a great deal happening in my life (not that college was a nonstop thrillride or anything, so.) My dreams have been picking up the slack, though - last night I had a dream that I was a zombie killer. Had to drive my car over a LAKE OF ZOMBIES at one point. My scientist boyfriend and I were keeping some zombies in a lab for tests with, uh, flowers (because in this skewed universe, the zombies were afraid of flowers and you could hurl the flowers at them to keep them away), and there was also an antidote to the zombie bite, as long as you took it within a few hours, to avoid becoming a zombie. It was really fucking weird, though. Too much late-night watching of Buffy, I guess. (Which I'm totally loving. It's great. I am wildly in love with Spike, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one who is familiar with both the character and my own.)

You know what's a chilling feeling? You know when you start watching a television show ironically - maybe it's on in a marathon, or something - and it's so terrifically, hilariously bad that you just have to continue watching it to laugh at it? You sit there, chuckling, perhaps alone, perhaps with a like-minded friend, rolling your eyes at the terrible acting and the stilted dialogue and the general idiocy, feeling morally superior in your own intelligence? And then, you realize - you really hope there's another episode on after this, not merely so that you can continue laughing at it, but because you actually really kind of want to know what happens with this particular plot point? And it occurs to you that you've actually become INVESTED in this terrible, terrible show, and you sit there in horror and disbelief, feeling the last vestiges of your self-respect fall away?

Yeah. THAT feeling. Chilling.

And before I go, an anecdote that I heard on the radio, apparently reported via someone in the know: Frank Sinatra was quite the playboy, even in his later years, with impressive sexual prowess and stamina, and he apparently credited it all to Wheaties. He once finished having marathon sex with some satisfied young lady, ran out to the kitchen, chowed down on a bowl of Wheaties, and charged right back into the bedroom singing "I'm in the Mood for Love."

Think of that the next time you're having a bowl of Wheaties, will you?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rest in peace, sweet prince.

This past year or so has been a really rough one for the deaths of truly iconic people, and I haven't really commented much on any of them, partly because there are so many and partly because I just didn't feel that I had much to say. There were those that I was sad but unsurprised to see go (Norman Mailer, Irving Penn, Dominick Dunne, Howard Zinn & J.D. Salinger just recently), and the big gone-way-too-soon shockers that nobody seemed to see coming (John Hughes was a big one for me, and, of course, Michael Jackson.)

But when I heard that 40-year-old fashion designer Alexander McQueen had died this morning, I knew that this was one upon which I would have to reflect and work through. I was actually a little surprised by how much it had affected me, and I'm still not entirely sure why it did. Suicide in someone so young and so unbelievably talented is always tragic, no matter who they may be, but I didn't expect the oddly visceral feeling of personal loss that the news brought me.

It's always odd and intriguing to me to see how people react to the deaths of famous people - people they knew in a certain way, people to whom they feel a personal connection, but who they didn't really know. When a person feels really affected there's something proprietary about that, claiming that person and their affects on the world for oneself. That's really how I feel about Kurt Cobain - even though I was only four years old when he died, I definitely feel a sense of possession and even a kind of ownership, a way in which I take him for myself.

And as someone who loves the world of fashion, who believes in the power of its art and artifice, of the creativity and its reflection on the world - and how the world appropriates it back again - I am, in a way, claiming the the innovation and genius of McQueen for my own. Maybe that's why it's hitting me hard - that this is a world I really care about, and know that while other people certainly share that, not everyone does, so there's a kind of necessity of appropriation there. Bottom line, I know that McQueen, and his incredible impact on the fashion world, will never be forgotten.

And I know I will never forget the day of his death, either.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Characters: a devolutionary chain.

Okay, so I'm taking a medical leave this semester to try to figure out this body shit. As you might expect, this has led to me having WAY TOO MUCH free time on my hands (and I've only been home again for a few days...) It'll get better, I think - there will be some temping jobs in my future, and my mom is suggesting that I go to bartending school (hooray for marketable skills!) but in the meantime, I'm left to my own devices and coming up with shit like this.

So it has come to my attention recently that pretty much all of my favorite pop culture characters are basically THE SAME PERSON. Charismatic, witty, highly sexualized, and self-absorbed, with terrible pasts, intelligence, and a healthy level of cynicism, and a somewhat sociopathic view of the world. No, seriously, it'll become more and more clear. Let's start with a perennial favorite:

Dr. Gregory House

I love this show a lot, even though it's kind of devolved into mostly shittiness for the last couple of seasons. It basically kind of sucks now, but as long as House himself is there, doing his thing, I will keep watching. I love him so much. He is so funny and brilliant and complex and dynamic and Hugh Laurie plays him so goddamned brilliantly. I have had numerous dreams in which House and I are best friends. (I actually think he and I would get along quite well, as weird as that sounds.)

Okay, so House? Change his occupation from a doctor to an advertising executive, make him about 20 years younger, and make him gay, and we have...

Brian Kinney

Much like House, Queer as Folk's Brian has a strange sort of mythology surrounding him, with an appeal that can only really be understood by a big fan of the show who watches continuously. Deeply cynical and ridiculously selfish, Brian nonetheless has frighteningly keen observational skills (much like House) and an incredibly warm heart that he hides unbelievably well. He also utterly makes the show. I mean, yeah, the smut is fun, but without the character of Brian pretty much all of the emotional and dramatic plots would fall flat. He is just so fucking beautiful. I can't watch the show that much anymore, because it makes me unbelievably depressed, but Brian makes it worth it, as does Gale Harold's acting. In real life, Gale is both very straight and very shy, mild-mannered, and unassuming. Holy. Fuck.

Okay, so take Brian, make him straight again (sorry Bri!), make him a teenager, plop him down in the 80's, and you have...

John Bender

Yes. Evie and I actually discovered this one last summer. I've been in love with Bender for God-knows-how-long, since it's been years and years since I first saw the Breakfast Club, and upon the first viewing I fell hard. There's just nothing like a wrong side of the tracks bad boy with a fucking razor-sharp wit and a hardon for Molly Ringwald. I mean, can you blame me? I'm probably doomed to fall for a hilarious sociopath.

Now, take Bender, make him a girl, make him prettier (because as fuckable as he is, I think we can all agree that Judd Nelson would make a fuggin' fugly girl), put her in modern times and give her a big dose of compassion. What results?

Veronica Mars

Yeah, it all comes back around to Veronica. It's a devolutionary chain, yo! They are all the same.damn.people. And I'm out.