Hey guys! I just wanted to mention that Hell on Heels is doing another show at the Brick By Brick in San Diego on Saturday, June 25th. No pasties from me this time, but I’ll definitely be there in my retro best because, as you’ll recall, Tatas Through Time was a joy. (Not sure what era they want us to dress in yet but there’s time!)
And Your Name? May 1, 2011
I work in security. For those of you who haven’t read my rants about it, it’s not as tough as it sounds. I sit in a very hot or cold little shack all day and check passes outside of a gated community. In doing so, I end up working with a lot of different cultures. One of the things that has always struck me as odd (and, in my job of checking lists and turning away accordingly, vaguely annoying) is the way a lot of Asians and Middle-Easterners westernize their names. Samir becomes Sam, Mohammed becomes Max, and Jangwoo becomes Jasmine. I understand the annoyance with outspoken, old white people who can’t pronounce their names or purposely mispronounce them (my dad). I get that fitting in is easier than sticking out. And I can sympathize with all of that in a roundabout way because I’m fat and a woman and I used to be a hardcore anime fan. Obviously I’m not saying that racism is the same as making fun of someone who owns all 26 seasons and 7 OVAs of Whatever-chan, Girl Superhero, but I understand trying to blend in.
The apparent logic falls apart though when I think about going to another country and changing my name to one of their names. If I went to the Middle East and told people my name was Suneetha or lived in Mexico for a year and said I was Estefana, I’d feel like a damn racist. Why don’t I just call everyone there Ahmed and Jose while I’m at it? I’d also feel like I was severely underestimating the national intelligence of my country of choice. If you know your name is hard to pronounce in a foreign tongue or uncommon in your new country, say it slowly, be prepared to spell it, and don’t get too hurt if it’s spelled or pronounced wrong. I’m not stupid. If you tell me your name a few times, I’ll get it no matter what it is. I can only assume the same of everyone else, give or take a few tries and not accounting for old people, who hate change and young people. I respect people more when they’re brave enough to give me their real name. Well, when they’re brave enough to just be themselves. If you’ve got a foreign name or accent or way of dress, don’t try and hide it. Own it. And if aspects of the new culture you’re immersed in are appealing, well own those too. Stupid people will always try and get you down, whatever your perceived flaw is, and the worst part is that, most of the time, they don’t even actually care.
None of these observations are new though. I went to school with Nedas and Bishoys, and a lot of the high-schoolers today feel no shame in telling people their given names are Bahar, Asad, or Ienna. That’s kind of what I love about living in the age we’re in, in the country I’m in. People worry about being singled out when they first move here, and they are regarded warily for a little while because they’re new and different. Then they make friends at work and their kids all go to school together and see that these kids aren’t any different from them, and within a couple generations everyone is accepted as normal. The strange becomes mundane and the world moves on. It’s awesome.
I guess I can’t really blame first generation Middle-Easterners and Asians for wanting to blend in when they first get here. I can’t imagine picking up my life and moving to another country, so I have to give them credit for bravery and for paving the way for their kids to be part of the All-American melting pot. Still though, if you don’t introduce your culture to us, we’ll never be able to accept it as normal. You’re laying the groundwork. The more we hear Parwaiz, Wagdy, Wei Young, Chul Ho, and the phonetic difference between Nguyen and Huynh, the less outlandish it becomes.
Feel free to weigh in if anything I’ve said was offensive or outright wrong. I say all this from the perspective of a white-washed mongrel-American.
I don’t usually write movie reviews because I don’t watch a lot of movies and when I do, I’m generally never impressed or angry enough to want to tell people about it. Brothers, however… Okay, I knew it wasn’t going to be an incestuous Brokeback Mountain with Toby Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal, but I had hoped for at least a few lingering brotherly hugs. Whatever, you knew I was a perv. The commercials painted this movie to be almost a horror movie, with the suspicious husband coming back from Afghanistan and terrorizing his wife and brother for the affair he suspects. I did not expect a long, rambling drama with petty, unlikeable characters and no fucking end.
The movie kicks off with Toby Maguire, playing Captain Sam Cahill, writing a letter to his wife Natalie Portman (Grace). He is distracted and distant because this is the letter that will be sent out if he dies on his mission in Afghanistan. Okay, strong start. It gets progressively worse from here though. Flash back to Sam and Grace and their happy family. Their younger daughter, Maggie, is a cute and rambunctious five-year-old who loves her daddy. She wants nothing but hugs and playtime. The older daughter, Isabelle, who also looks about five but is apparently old enough to read a giant novel in bed while giving her dad the cold shoulder, is a little darker and remains so throughout the movie. The flashback centers around Sam going to pick up his older brother Tommy, Jake Gyllenhaal, from jail, where he’s been for a number of years, and Sam’s family asking why HE needs to go pick up his screw-up brother. Sam brings Tommy home for the first of several birthdays. This movie has more birthdays that a goddamn Bubba Gump’s. It’s like the writers were looking for an excuse to get the whole family together when really, if the grandparents had been over for dinner, I would not have questioned it at all. So older daughter Isabelle starts off the night by telling Tommy that Mommy doesn’t like him, leaving Grace to sputter and not ever actually say anything because she has the personality of a door knob the whole movie. Then Granddad shows up and scowls at Tommy. This exchange in particular pissed me off.
Tommy (in an attempt to get his dad to stop harping on him for not being Sam): The food’s good.
Granddad: Compared to what?
At this point, if I were Natalie Portman, I would have asked Granddad what his fucking problem with my food was, but like I said, she has the personality of a houseplant.
Tommy: Compared…to…other food…?
Granddad: Prison food?
Tommy then slams his hand on the table, furious, and scares the shit out of older daughter Isabelle, who is sitting next to him. Grandma takes Grandpa into the kitchen to scold him. At some point in the movie, it is revealed that Tommy and Sam’s real mom is dead, which is completely useless in furthering the plot because no mention is ever made about their real mom, who the new woman is or how they feel about her, or any life-altering things that happened because their mom is dead. Good job, you wasted a scene to make the movie more confusing and slow.
Blah blah blah, Sam is back in Afghanistan and suddenly some Marines are at Grace’s door to tell her he’s been killed in a helicopter crash. Tommy comes to Grace’s house later that night to drunkenly return their car which he insists Sam said he could borrow any time he wanted, tell her that the broken tail light was some other ass hole’s fault, and then yell at her for not liking him. She tells him that Sam is dead and he yells at her some more, making himself into an even more unlikeable character.
There IS a surprisingly touching moment when Grace walks into her daughters’ room before the funeral to see that older daughter Isabelle is no longer in her funeral dress. She falls into mother mode and asks the little girl to put it back on. The older daughter replies, face down from the bed, that the dress is uncomfortable and she doesn’t like it. Younger daughter Maggie complains in the half-hearted way of a child who is very, very sad that her dress is itchy and she also doesn’t want to wear it, and Grace has a moment where she is clearly torn between convention and the fact that her two very young daughters have just lost their dad and probably shouldn’t be made to wear itchy, uncomfortable dresses at his funeral. Cut to them in dark, but sensible, sweaters and jeans.
Of course, Granddad is back for the funeral and, while there was no booze at the cemetery and he had to have driven there, Tommy is asking for his keys and telling him he is not fit to drive. This results in a blaming war about who was responsible for Sam’s death in Afghanistan even though there is no way either of them could ever be responsible for him dying in a helicopter crash. Granddad gets a few more jabs in about Tommy being a jobless bum and then walks home. Are you starting to see how long this fucking movie is? The whole movie is set up for Sam to come home and be pissed when the set up should have been quick and the repercussions should have been the long bit.
Cut to Sam, alive. Unfortunately, this is not a big surprise because the commercials already told us that the movie would be about his return after everyone thought he was dead. It’s like when you read the synopsis of a Chuck Palahniuk book and they tell you things that are revealed on the last fucking page. Some people need to learn to tell stories. If I had just thought this movie was about the possible affair between widow and brother, I would have been delighted by the twist of Sam being alive, although not enough that this movie would be good by any stretch of the imagination. Anyways, he’s captured by Afghans and put in a hole with a private he saved from the crash and then video-taped being tortured and later beating the private to death at gunpoint.
While Sam is going through POW hell in Afghanistan, Tommy slowly becomes a part of Grace and the kids’ lives. He starts out as a nuisance, calling Grace up at three in the morning to pay a bar tab that he was going to walk out on and then sleeping at her house because he’s got nowhere else to go. Wanting to do something nice for her, he calls some of his friends to help him redecorate her hideous kitchen. I’m kind of bummed that Ethan Suplee lost about a million pounds and he still always plays the fat dumb guy, but I’d like to think that he refused to be the fat dumb guy who wore brand new pants to paint a kitchen with two little girls in the single-digit age group and for that I salute him. Seriously, who does that? Also, did Natalie Portman write this movie? Every person who comes into her house has to comment about how pretty she is. I know she’s pretty. It’s not like in Drive Angry where they had to set up that in this alternate universe ladies totally dig Nicolas Cage. So Tommy and Grace start off rocky but eventually get to talking and drinking and share a kiss. Grace immediately leaves and nothing more is said, a surprisingly smart move on both their parts. Tommy stays around though and becomes a second father to the girls, becoming very close with older daughter Isabelle, who feels like she is loved less than younger daughter Maggie, but nothing else ever happens between him and Grace.
Suddenly, Sam is back. There is no talk about how he got rescued or what happened. The last third of the movie (the interesting part) happens in a rushed blur. Sam’s back and he’s eerie and he’s cooly asking Tommy if he fucked Grace while Sam was officially dead. At dinner, he is confused about a joke the youngest daughter makes and he won’t let it go, which is evidence that he’s disturbed because little kids never make any fucking sense anyhow.
Then at younger daughter Maggie’s birthday, Tommy shows up with a random girl he met an hour before who completely dominates the conversation (“OMG, Grace is SO pretty.”). Isabelle, who is already pissed that this woman is here taking Uncle Tommy away from her, begins to make a lot of annoying noise while glaring daggers at New Broad. Finally, Sam can’t take it anymore and he lunges across the table and pops the balloon Isabelle is making noise with. Isabelle bursts into tears and rails at her dad for being in Afghanistan for her birthday but coming home for Maggie’s. Everyone is taken aback but she’s a little girl and couldn’t possibly understand how hurtful what she said was, right? Then she yells, “Couldn’t you just stay dead? You’re just mad cause Mom would rather sleep with Uncle Tommy! Mom and Uncle Tommy had sex all the time!” What? This kid is 8 at the oldest. This is just bad writing. What the hell kind of 8-year-old would know that that was the most painful button to push? I’m not saying that 8-year-olds don’t know that sex is around but I’ve never met an 8-year-old who was perceptive enough to know the role that sex plays in adult relationships. If anyone should have planted the seed of doubt into Sam’s head about Tommy and Grace, it should have been Granddad, who had come over early one morning and saw that Tommy had slept over. Isabelle is relatively dark and hurtful for a kid, but Granddad is just the kind of ass hole to draw his own conclusions about Tommy sleeping over and make a snide comment to Sam about it.
Anyhow, little Maggie in her party hat with her untouched birthday cake in front of her asks to leave and Sam takes his family home in furious silence. Back at Granddad’s, Tommy’s lady has split and Tommy says he’s headed to Sam and Grace’s to sort this mess out. Granddad yells at Tommy’s back that it’s none of Tommy’s business and (step-?)Grandma suggests that they should immediately call the police. Impending shit-storm tripled!
Grace tucks the girls in and asks Isabelle why she would say what she said, especially since she knows it’s not true. Isabelle says she doesn’t like Daddy and wishes that Uncle Tommy was her new dad and Maggie agrees. Grace goes downstairs to stare at Sam and not say anything while he completely freaks out and destroys the kitchen Tommy redid, smashing pretty much everything and pulling cabinets off the wall. I love a good destruction scene, so even though I was worried that Sam would eventually turn his rage on Grace and beat her to death with a coffee-maker, I enjoyed the tornado of rage. Of course, just as Sam calms down enough to stop screaming and throwing crap, Tommy walks in cautiously and with his hands where everyone can see them. He very slowly walks up to Sam and very slowly hugs him. Then the police sirens sound.
Sam flips out again and pulls a gun, shrieking at Tommy for calling the police and leaving a barrel impression in Tommy’s cheek. Grace books it up to the girls’ room screaming and tells them to lock their door. Sam ends up outside screaming at the police, nearly kills himself with the gun, and is taken to jail. His one phone call goes to Tommy to say, “You’re my brother.” I guess that was supposed to be a truce moment, but it really could have meant anything the way he deadpanned it.
Cut to Grace visiting Sam in a veteran’s mental hospital. She tells him she’ll leave him if he doesn’t tell her what happened to him in Afghanistan, he spills, movie over. That quickly. No aftermath, no epilogue, nothing. I feel like I could have been at least okay with the movie if there had been some kind of wrap up. I mean, Isabelle just listened to her dad almost kill her mom and then himself because of a lie she told. That’s going to fuck a little kid up, probably for life. And now neither the grandparents nor Sam is sure what went on with Grace and Tommy so even if Sam does get help and get out of the mental hospital, that’ll always be looming over their marriage and their family life. And Tommy never did get a job as far as the movie was concerned so how has he even been surviving? The whole movie was frustrating and then nothing was solved. Don’t watch this movie. Honestly, I’m sorry if you read this whole review.
My calves are a-sore from walking and dancing the weekend away. I was super jazzed about a night of debauchery and booze at the 2nd Annual Long Beach Mardi Gras, which promised costumes, music, and New Orleans flavor. They had a parade at 3, but I missed it because I’m a layabout and I just couldn’t get out of the house in time despite a relatively early start. I heard later from some Canadian adventurers that the parade was joyous and colorful and completely confusing because they did not remember Compton being so friendly-looking.
We arrived in Long Beach around 3:30 and the parking was plentiful, but kind of a pain in the ass. If you plan on going next year, bring cash so you don’t have to wander around looking for an ATM and also free parking so you can use said ATM. I didn’t have to do that because I somehow had cash on me, a rare occurrence, but Ernie was totally screwed. Whoops. When we got there, the children’s section was only mildly bustling despite the opportunity to jump in one of several bounce-houses, make masks, and play in a giant balloon floating in a pool of water. I really wanted to play in a giant balloon in a pool of water but the sign told me I had to ask about the weight limit and I figured if I had to ask, I was too heavy.
We wandered away from the kids section and people attempted to sell me beads from stalls even though I obviously didn’t need them.
See that yellow and pink bag? It’s chock full of nothing but beads and glitter. Ernie and I wandered away from the kids’ section in search of some debauchery but everywhere we looked were strollers and toddlers. Where was I supposed to throw my beads?! Past the art for sale and the puppet animal stalls, past the bead stalls and picnickers we went in search of the fabled Party Gras. We headed toward the press of people on the pier, but when we got there, that’s all there was really. Just lots of people, milling about. There were costumes a-plenty, more than a few pirates, and an Elvis on stilts who sweet-talked all the ladies.
Interspersed in the crowd were more children, being sticky and preventing any boobs. I still gave out a lot of beads though, because I believe in fun.
We wandered around the various shops, which were eerily reminiscent of Seattle’s Pike Place. All the buildings on the pier were super brightly painted, so of course I wanted to live in all of them. There were a couple of jazz bands and we accidentally went into a fenced-off area where our bags needed to be checked for whatever reason, but there really wasn’t anything going on. When we were satisfied that we’d seen everything that was happening, we joined a friend for dinner and drinks in the hopes that when we left, there would be less kids and more drunk, promiscuous women showing off their tits. By the time we got out of Bubba Gumps, where everyone in the damn restaurant is celebrating their 21st birthday until the end of time, there were pretty much no people on the streets. It was unfortunate because we had dragged old Lames Foreman out to Mardi Gras with the promise of boobs, but I had another engagement to rush off to so, disappointed though I was, I had to dash anyway.
I was off to 80s Night at the Hully Gully with the lovely Sara and her friend Maria. I had never been, but it was lots of fun. Basically, there are two rooms with bars and a dance floor inside and a DJ blasts 80s music at everyone and they 80s dance all night. I generally don’t dance so 80s dancing, which from what I observed mainly consists of shuffling from foot to foot, was an easy way to get into it. I was apparently good enough at shuffling because I garnered the attention of a relatively cute guy who had apparently been told that 80s dancing consisted of two-handed grabbing ladies butts and then rubbing your junk on them.
When we parted company with him and made for the much cooler smoking patio, we happened upon the aforementioned Canadian adventurers and told them many tales of dildos and lube accidentally left where everyone could see. It was still Mardi Gras for me so I gave all three of them beads and FINALLY got to see some exposed chests.
All around a fun weekend, although yesterday I came about as close to death as I’ve ever been. Ernie and I were driving home after midnight on the 241-S, the toll road that is the only freeway into Rancho Santa Margarita. It wasn’t raining so much as maliciously misting. Ernie drives a lot slower than I do, but we hit a puddle of water or something and our car was suddenly spinning out of control. We spun at least twice, then unintentionally Tokyo drifted across the wide, grassy median, and ended up across two lanes on the 241-N, completely unscathed. It was the glass lamps falling on me at Tuesday Morning but on a much grander scale. Something’s watching out for me. Once we’d gotten the engine back on, Ernie got off the freeway and got back on going the way we needed instead of just driving back over the median like I wanted to. It was probably for the best. It looks like our car got out miraculously unharmed too, although it is completely filthy and there is a lot of plant matter all up in the rims. I pulled out a dandelion before work today.
Back on topic though, the Hully Gully was a much better time than I could have expected, not being fanatical about 80s music or dancing where people can see me. Our friends from the North helped a lot with that though. And the Long Beach Mardi Gras had potential but was unorganized and lacked the type of shameless people who would really make it shine. I’ve never actually been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans however, so I really have no basis for comparison.
Tatas Through Time was a joy! February 14, 2011
The Brick by Brick, in case you’ve never been there but plan on going (for example, to Hell on Heels’ next show ;D), is tucked inconspicuously away behind the Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ and Saloon, which is also pretty awesome. Tatas Through Time was retro dress optional for the audience and, as you know, I fucking love dressing up. I called up my ex-hairdresser mom and my fabulous grandma and they gave me the most ridiculous beehive for the show. This thing was obscenely big and full when they first teased it onto my head, but my hair is notorious for not doing what hairspray wants. Check out that progression:
My grandma’s only warnings about the beehive were to stay away from open flames and to avoid humidity because it would make my hair frizz. Well, I did pretty well avoiding open flames, but the Brick by Brick was so packed for the show that every single person was intimately acquainted with every person around them so frizz I did. No room for a stray boner in there. Good thing we weren’t seeing anything sexy–oh wait…
When we first walked in, there was a girl laid out on a table in nothing but pasties, nude panties, and a garnish of strawberries in whipped cream. This is about the only thing I got a picture of because once we packed in for the show, there was no room or energy for dicking around with a camera.
The show was an absolute delight though. The girls were sparkly and energetic and even their scantily clad clean-up dame was showy and bubbly as she tidied up the glittering, discarded gloves and bras and assorted costume bits and brought out the next act.
I of course had an interest in Miss Ginger N. Whiskey because she was wearing my pistol pasties in her Bonnie Parker act and my sheriff stars in her Calamity Jane act, but I would have had to give her a mention even if she hadn’t been because she was absolutely adorable in every way. Her act was very classy and she had such an innocent energy. I was immediately smitten. Check out the pasties! I worked so hard on them and I was bummed that I couldn’t get any good pictures of them on stage. Nothing makes you feel like a pervert quite like attempting to take a picture of something that is nipple-mounted.
All the girls were amazing. The Betty Boop act knocked us dead, and I almost swooned when Rosie the Riveter took off her jumpsuit to reveal a red, white, and blue glitter corset, then again when she removed the striped corset to reveal a glitter blue bra with a giant star in the middle. And while each girl rocked, my entire group fell madly in love with the Amazon woman Bibi Bordeaux. Pictures are great, but seeing this woman in action is a treat. She was graceful and coy and her act really played into the glorious burlesque tradition of showing just the right amount of skin at any given moment but always keeping the audience straining to see more.
The Hell on Heels troupe is already hard at work on their next show, Dangerous Curves Ahead, which will be on April 1st also at the Brick By Brick. Plan ahead and see them! They’re better and cheaper than a movie. If you missed Tatas Through Time, you missed out on the most entertainment you could possibly get for $10!
Thanks Doll February 9, 2011
So the other day, I opened up a can of worms that I didn’t even realize I had on the dusty garage shelf of my mind. I mentioned on The Facebook- I know, Facebook fights, but I promise I won’t make a habit of Facebook mud-slinging and this post is no exception. So I mentioned that someone at my work had called me sweetheart and that it seemed, and I quote, “like [he was] just ASKING to be cavity searched. And not in the good way.” Immediately, a male friend responded to say that he calls every woman “darling.” I told him that was as bad as “little lady” and a mtf transgender said that she would burst out laughing if someone called her “little lady.”
I’m a pretty laid-back, bubbly person. It takes a lot to offend me. What offends me in even small doses, though, is people assuming that I’m worth less than they are. I see that a lot in my job. Being a security guard means being the person everyone can shit on. I’m an idiot and a rent-a-cop, but I’m the one trusted to stop people’s family and friends and check to see if they’re on a list, then hold them up to give them a pass if they are and call the resident if they aren’t. The residents don’t understand why I’m calling for their mom or their bff when it’s SO obvious I should just let that person in. The guests don’t understand why I have to give them a pass and check it every time they come in. All-around, people feel like my job is a waste of time. Of course I agree, and you bet your ass I’d never move into a gated community, but as long as someone is paranoid enough to want someone outside their house shaking down their friends and family, I get a pretty sweet, steady paycheck. The problem lies in the fact that everyone feels like their time is worth more than mine. If I were a man, this would result in shouting and name-calling. It still does occasionally, but I generally get the Sweetheart Treatment. “Oh hi, sweetie!” *Wave and smile while rolling up window and driving toward the closed gate without slowing down. Realize the gate is closed, slam on breaks, look back at me and point at the gate angrily.*
I understand that I am a woman, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a job to do and, while it’s not much to brag about, I am damn good at my job. People may not see the harm in calling a woman in uniform “sweetie” or “darling,” and if you’re past middle age, I can forgive you for treating the younger world like they’re all your grandchildren, but if you’re middle-aged or younger, you can shove your demeaning “sweetheart”s up your ass. You don’t call a black man “boy” or “negro” because it says, “You are less of a person than I am.” Just because women might not kick your ass for being sexist or racist doesn’t make it okay. And I’m not stupid, no matter how many rich ass holes assume I am. I can tell the difference between “You have a great day, sweetie!” and “It’s been precious talking to you, but I’ve got important male things to attend to so open the damn gate, sweetheart.” I understand that there are differences in tone and inflection and underlying meaning, and I respond differently to differences in each. When it all comes down to it, I probably would have seethed about it for a few minutes and then let it go if I hadn’t gotten what were essentially two male point-of-view responses telling me I was being an over-emotional woman about it. No, I’m not. I’m being a human being about being treated like a lesser person.
As an epilogue to this post, I would like to note that I’m not using my blog to blast my friends, whom I love and had talked to at length about this when it happened. It’s mostly that I don’t get angry very often and when I do, it helps me to explore why certain things make me mad when most other things don’t. Thoughts?