Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!!!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I like Christmas Eve and 4th of July too but nothing is as fun as Halloween. Here's a little self indulgent blast from the Halloween past.

Barbara Steele

Happy Halloween!!!
Barbara Steele is my all time favorite cult horror movie actress. She's considered the Queen of All Scream Queens. There's something about her that manages to be both amazingly beautiful and horrifyingly scary. Perhaps its cause her eyes look like when people draw eyes on their eyelids? Born in 1937 in Cheshire, England Barbara Steele was most famous for for her movies she made in other countries, namely Italy and the U.S. She first drew attention for her role in 1960's Black Sunday the quintessential witchcraft movie shot in Italy by Mario Bava. Next she came to America to make Roger Corman's The Pit and The Pendulum opposite Vincent Price. She then returned to Italy for a non-horror role in Fellini's 8 1/2. For the rest of her life Barbara Steele mainly stuck to horror/cult films, why mess with perfection? In the rest of the decade she appeared in many horror movies including The Spectre, Castle of Blood, An Angel for Satan, and The Curse of The Crimson Altar. In later decades she appeared in a few other movies including Caged Heat and the awesome tv show Dark Shadows. She also had a pretty successful producing career in the 80s, even winning an Emmy for "War and Remembrance". Here are some pics and videos of her epic run as the Queen of Scream.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jessi Klein

This past week I had a lot of fun googling stand-up comedian/writer Jessi Klein. It totally brought me out of my 'post-10 hours of work doom and gloom' mood. Luckily this podcast The Moth introduced me to Jessi with a great piece she did about going to a wedding at Disneyworld and trying to hook up with Dale of the Chip and Dale costumed Disney characters. It's really good, look I even went to the effort of finding a link for you...

There weren't too many stand up segments I could find but here's a smattering of stuff I did find.

The Clip JointWatch it now!
Jessi Klein - Save the Jews
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Premium Blend
Jessi Klein - Co-Workers
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Showbiz ShowThur 10:30p / 9:30c
Jessi Klein: Search For The Next Pussycat Doll
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clara Rockmore

Clara Rockmore, born in 1911 in Lithuania, was a violin prodigy and the youngest person ever accepted to the Imperial Conservatory of Saint Petersburg( at age 5). However, when a bone problem due to childhood malnutrition forced her to quit the violin she began working with Leon Theremin and became the greatest Theremin virtuoso ever. She used her classical training and the perfect pitch she had been born with to help him perfect the instrument.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beauty Contraptions

Beauty Contraptions with Sarah Haskins

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jamie Leigh Jones

Usually I try to keep this blog about positive stuff. I feel that there are enough news sources out there covering all the stuff that sucks about being a woman and I want this to be a site that shows all the women who prove that there are some pretty awesome things about the whole 'female condition'. Yet, there are times when something really needs to be said about the shitty stuff and I think this is one of those cases.

Recently 30 Senate Republicans voted against a bill proposed by Senator Al Franken to keep the US government from contracting with companies that don't allow their employees to sue if they are raped on the job. Four years ago, twenty year old Haliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones was working oversees in Iraq. She was drugged and brutally gang raped by several of her co-workers. She awoke with "lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn‚ which would later require reconstructive surgery." When she reported the rape she was then locked in a shipping container without water, food, or medical assistance, with armed guards stationed to make sure she couldn't get out. She was in there for about 24 hours. Jamie Leigh eventually managed to convince one of the guards to let her borrow his cell phone. She called her Dad back home and he contacted their state representative who managed to get government agents to find her and take her out of KBR custody. Her rape kit and the evidence of the rape was "lost".

So according to KBR/Haliburton protocol you can't sue the company, you have to go into arbitration with them and settle it out of court. Another example of corporations existing above the law. So it seems like a no brainer that the US government shouldn't be doing business with companies that won't even allow their employees to sue. After all House and Senate just voted to defund ACORN for not being pro-active enough about turning in prostitutes and human traffickers. That's a whole other blog post that I'll hopefully get to at some point. Yet, its interesting to note that both cases have to do with the female body and payment....however in the Haliburton/KBR the violence was very real and plenty of the rich(Haliburton) just keep getting richer, while with ACORN the theoretical discussion of sexual abuse get them defunded ,,, which in turn leads to the poor getting poorer.

Honestly just hearing the description of Jamie Leigh after the rape made me completely disgusted at the fact the 30 Senators voted against the bill! Thankfully the bill did pass overall because Jamie Leigh has been fighting for this for four years which is fairly torturous in its own right.

Here are the best clips about the issue:

Al Franken proposing the bill.

The Daily Show take on the whole thing.
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Rachel Maddow calling out bullshit on the Senators and giving Jamie Leigh a voice.

Girl Groups

Yet again, the sounds of Sunday..... this time its girl groups.

The Shirelles- Will You Love Me Tommorow
This was one of the early girl group songs written by Carol King and her first husband Gerry Goffin. Its also one of the first big hits about pre-marital sex.

The Shangri Las- Leader of The Pack
This one was written by Ellie Greenwich who just died last August. Although Ellie claimed to know nothing about being a rebel she also said "... at that time, when you made money, you bought yourself boots or motorcycles."

Then a decade or two later, across the ocean, a whole new flood of new girl groups popped up.

The Nolans: Gotta Pull Myself Together

Doris D and The Pins: Shine Up
This Dutch group is pretty amazing. The lead singer really makes me miss dance parties at school.

Of Course the 80s had their own flood of girl groups.

Bananarama- Really Saying Something

And in the 90s gals really got their shit figured out.

Salt N Pepa featuring En Vogue: Whatta Man
This one goes out to you Sam!

And something pretty recent

The Vivian Girls: When I'm Gone

Other Than That Book Learning....

These are a few of my favorite Sesame Street clips. Its hard to imagine this stuff on tv now.

Candice Bergen gets empowered way before Murphy Brown.

Buffy St. Marie explains breastfeeding to BigBird.

Jesse Jackson sings I Am Somebody with the kids

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Girls Like Us

Today I finished reading Girls Like Us, despite the fact that I'd been trying to drag it out to make it last as long as possible. I can say honestly that it ruled on a lot of different levels... because despite the fact that I was born in 1983 I am actually deep down inside a middle aged woman. Yet, the book was of course really eye opening for me since I actually didn't live through the 40s,50s, 60s,70s, and therefore didn't know that everyone actually wanted to be Laura Nyro, that the generation that invented "having it all" had a really hard time having it all, that Jacki O was actually a funny prankster, that polio has residual effects, and hell I really still don't get why James Taylor was so hot. Girls Like Us is the tri-biography of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Carly Simon. I went into it with totally different ideas of all three women. For instance did you know Carole once married one of the guys from The Fugs - he was fresh out of high school and she was fresh out of a crazy divorce. Or that Joni Mitchell used to dress up like a black pimp (there was a lot of Joni stuff that made me feel super uncomfortable about her). And Carly was actually raised in a really sex positive household with access to birth control so she managed to live the sexual revolution in the way you might dream of doing if you had a time machine and Carly's body. Actually the juicy gossip was pretty awesome - collectively they notched their bedposts with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Jackson Browne, Milos Forman, Terrence Malick, Charles Larkey(of the Fugs), and a smattering of Jazz musicians, music producers, hot foreign dudes, and much younger hotties. The one thing I still don't get is how they could all love a tool like James Taylor. Oh but how could I forget the hot makeout with Marvin Gaye, and getting propositioned by a mid 1960s Sean Connery on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic. Aside from those tidbits, the book does a really amazing job of painting a picture of the options available for women who were born in the 40s and came into their own in the 60s and 70s. Teen motherhood could change the course of your life whether you kept the baby or gave it up, and the expectations put on women to keep all your emotions, sanity, and success wrapped up in the career of your husband was a tough one for these talented three whether they followed the rules or not. Even Carly who was born into an affluent and liberal minded family was forced early on to fight against all her advantages of beauty and wealth in a time when sex was a currency and feigned poverty was the look. I really enjoyed that the book took into account these three women yet managed to acknowledge all those who had made them possible- the women of motown, Joan Baez and Judi Collins, their mothers, and the often times forgotten singer/songwriters women who were lost to the cruelty of the times. It also dealt with the truly ugly side of aging- the cancer, the dropping record sales, and the uptight reviews, while showing the realistic antidotes of activism, ambivalence, more boyfriends, and continually awesome albums.

My fav. Carly Simon song is Why.

Watch It's Too Late in Music | View More Free Videos Online at

Its pretty amazing how many songs Carole wrote that we know but attribute to other singers or groups.

Watch Carole King - I feel the earth move in Music | View More Free Videos Online at

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nicole Holofcener

I've been really grooving on Nicole Holofcener's movies lately. I'm really interested in the way these movies fall into some sort of chick flick category but only because they have female main characters - they would totally be buddy movies, or indie movies, or just movies if the main characters were guys. Yet, the women in them are definitely women, they whine about not having boyfriends, they whine about having perfect boyfriends, they care about their cats and their moms and their weddings.....yet unlike other movies they can forget to wash their hair for weeks on end, have both good jobs and totally crappy jobs, realize their only happiness is in renting movies and then sleep with the video store clerk so they can't rent any more movies. Holofcener manages to acknowledge the cliche situations we find ourselves in without denying that we are individuals.

As Holofcener puts it "I haven't had any angry feminists banging at my door. I consider myself a feminist when asked, but I would never really label myself that. I haven't been attacked for showing the girlie or frivolous sides that women have, that I can care about the size of my ass and something else really important, it doesn't mean I'm shallow. And I think that true feminism does embrace all sides of women."

I find it interesting that her three main films feature Catherine Keener who, at least in my life, seems to be the actress the girls wanna be and the boys wanna do. Keener is smart and best friendish and something that looks appealing to grow into- so you actually don't mind when all the guys at the Oscar watching party with you won't stop talking about how hot she is. I find it interesting that Holofcener's father was the one who "discovered" Woody Allen and that she grew up on his sets. I'm not a huge Allen fan, can't get past the whiney perv factor, but theres something very talky and therapist couchish and relationship based that feels like Woody Allen in her movies.

On the other hand I think Holofcener does an awesome job dealing with issues of money and relationships. Her stance is really rare and outside the box in that sometimes whats normal is not always what works for you as a couple. In Walking and Talking, Keener ends up with Liev Schreiber who has been borrowing money from her the entire time, and yet you're totally happy for her because they're both happy. Its the kind of red flag your parents warn you about and that would never happen in an actual chick flick but yet its never insinuated that he doesn't pay her back and hey it works for them. In Friends With Money Jennifer Aniston ends up with a guys whose fairly lazy but has a lot of money,,, this solves her money problems and they have fun together so who cares. I think this attitude toward relationships and money can be taken as a greater metaphor for letting other couples do their own thing -keeping your opinion out of their household or bedroom. This attitude would never be shown in a real chick flick where women are expected to marry a man whose better, richer, smarter. Maybe Catherine Keener just likes that Liev Schreiber is fun and kind and good in the sack so she doesn't mind buying him stuff here and there.
I totally recommend netflixing Walking and Talking, Lovely and Amazing, and Friends With Money. Also I just realized Holofcener is apparently making an upcoming movie about will be produced by Seth Rogen and star my ultimate movie crush James McAvoy. Crazy!

Clip from Walking and Talking cause i couldn't find the trailer...anyhow yay! Kevin Corrigan!

Trailer for Lovely and Amazing

Trailer for Friends With Money

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Brooch Approach

Madeleine Albright has been on a bit of a press tour lately, and not for some sort of epic auto biography, but for an exhibit and book about her extensive pin collection. At first I was like, "Seriously? The first woman to be Secretary of State is on NPR to talk about her jewelry?", but she quickly won me over and honestly, if anyone has the right to kick back and talk about their brooch collection for a bit its this woman. Not to mention the fact that every pin happens to be gorgeous and have a great story behind it.

This is the pin that started it all. Saddam Hussein referred to her as "a serpent" so from then on she wore this pin when meeting with Iraq.

Albright wore this pin in Moscow when meeting with Putin. The See No Evil... theme was in reference to the civil rights violations being committed in Chechnya.

Albright always had a difficult time clearing airport security with this one since the sword is removable and therefore constituted a weapon.

She wore these turtles to signify the slow progress in the Middle East.

In 1999 it was discovered that the Russians had bugged the US State Department. In her next meeting with Russia, Albright pinned this bug to her shoulder. I can imagine her job dealt with a lot of not mentioning obvious awkward moments and the pins seemed to come in handy at those times.

I just thought this one was pretty. It was gift from Bill Richardson during his time as an ambassador to the UN.

This high heel pin was given to her by her Chief of Staff in regards to Albright's comment on being Warren Christopher's succesor " I only hope my heels can fill his shoes".

This was from an assortment of zebras for meeting with Nelson Mandela. This particular zebra layed over your shoulder.

Albright has said that she likes to wear this pin during meetings because since one clock faces up and one is normal both the wearer and the person she's with can tell what time it is and check to see when the meeting is over.

I love this one. This is "the broken glass ceiling" that Albright shattered when she became the highest ranking female official after Bill Clinton appointed her Secretary Of State.

Wasps were worn on days she wanted to "do a little stinging and deliver a tough message".

She wore this Foxy Lady pin when she wanted to "have fun and do a little flirting along the way". It was given to her to commemorate a trip to South Korea where a foreign minister made what he thought was an off the record comment to a reporter that he enjoyed her visits and hugging her because of her "firm breasts". Albright said "Well I have to have something to put these pins on". They only shook hands after that.

More cool pins here : I'd kill for that one from Yemen.... And the missile one is awesome.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Screw Columbus, Here's Buffy

Back To Life, Back To Reality

Frumpy- Indian Rope Man

Soul 2 Soul- Back To Life

Mel & Kim- Respectable

Imani Coppola- Legend Of A Cowgirl

Shonen Knife- Redd Kross

Stereolab- Wow and Flutter

Obvious Child

And now for the movie that is definitely not making it to the big screen any time soon....
Obvious Child, directed by Gillian Robespierre, is a short romantic comedy centered around an abortion. Yea, I know, kinda gross. But actually when it comes down to it,, way less gross than Knocked Up because everyone doesn't suck. The movie stars Jenny Slate who is one of the newest SNL cast members. Ya gotta love her for dropping the F-bomb on her first night of SNL. Obvious Child is also set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn so have fun spotting places you know.

Obvious Child from Gillian Robespierre on Vimeo.

Bad Babysitter

I heard an interview on NPR the other day with a woman who had written a book about the history of babysitting. It was pretty interesting since I'd never really thought about the origin of the whole teenage girl babysitter thing...apparently it first came about in the 1920s when parents were wanting more leisure time and teenage girls were being stimulated by the first waves of the new consumer craze of "teen culture". Makeup and store bought clothes were in new abundance and girls needed money to pay for them. Its interesting because the book's author Miriam Forman-Brunell noted that throughout history people have assumed that teen girls would be naturally motherly but in all her research the girls were actually driven by the money. Unfortunately, another reason parents tend to hire teen girls is that they are considered cheap since they're young and female (research shows teen boy babysitters are generally paid better). She found that this tends to cause disgruntled babysitters which may have lead to the concept of the "bad babysitter". Its interesting that this has actually lead to younger and younger babysitters. I started babysitting in 7th grade for $2 an hour (i know!) and the kids would spend all day beating the shit out of each other. However, the jobs just get better and better as you get older. The last time I babysat was for a sleeping infant at $15 an hour in the Chelsea Hotel. I spent most of the time watching Kathy Griffin stand-up on HBO,,, not bad.

Adventures in Babysitting is cute. If you think it looks dangerous I really don't recommend googling "babysitter" without the safe search on.
Elizabeth Shue has such great hair.

Remember Alicia Silverstone in The Babysitter? Everyone is obsessed with her!

But really the Bad Babysitter position belongs to Princess Superstar.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dangerous Mother

In this video Ulrike Meinhof, a well known journalist, the founder of the Red Army Faction, and possibly the most famous female terrorist ever talks about the struggles of raising children alone while having an active career and a very real participation in politics.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sarah Vowell

Buffy's high school was built on top of a vortex of evil, the Hellmouth. And whose wasn't?"
Sarah Vowell (The Partly Cloudy Patriot)

"However, displayed right alongside all the Confederate flag paraphernalia is a bunch of American flag merch – American flag place mats, patriotic “body crystals,” flag stickers you attach to your skin. Personally, I’m small-minded and literal enough that I see the two symbols as contradictory, especially in a time of war. But I fear that the consumer who buys a Confederate flag coffee cup, which she will then put on her American flag place mat, is the sort of sophisticated thinker who is open-minded enough that she is capable of hating blacks and Arabs at the same time."
Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation)

"There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who alphabetize their record collections, and the kind who don't."
Sarah Vowell (The Partly Cloudy Patriot)

"Until that moment, I hadn’t realized that I embarked on the project of touring historic sites and monuments having to do with the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley right around the time my country iffily went off to war, which is to say right around the time my resentment of the current president cranked up into contempt. Not that I want the current president killed. Like that director, I will, for the record (and for the FBI agent assigned to read this and make sure I mean no harm – hello there), clearly state that while I am obsessed with death, I am against it."
Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation)

I eased in slow to my adoration of Sarah Vowell. First it was just little clips on This American Life. Then I read (listened to on my ipod) The Partly Cloudy Patriot...and the next thing you know I'd also read Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates. Three books in 2 weeks- my audible subscription is dangerous. Granted she's not for everyone but if you have even a smidge of gothic nerd somewhere deep down in you I totally recommend checking them out. Sarah's insight into which historical/political assassin is the hottest or her ability to tie her fundamentalist midwest upbringing in to her adoration of The Cure and foreign films... weaves a view of America that seems both true and rarely seen. The Partly Cloudy Patriot takes on Clinton, Bush, religion, and patriotism...with nods to Tom Cruise, the trail of tears, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more. Assassination Vacation is more of a road trip tale where the road trip revolves around the lives of assassinated presidents and the men who shot them. Now, if you want to seriously geek out go for The Wordy Shipmates, a tale of the American puritans. This was especially appropriate for me because:

1. In 5th grade I joined my town's historical society so I could go on tours of old the time I considered the revolutionary war one of my "interests".

2. Much of the Wordy Shipmates has to do with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe. Among other run ins, I attended my senior prom at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum where nude wax native women rowed fake canoes across the dance floor.

3. The real mover and shaker in The Wordy Shipmates is Roger Williams and so I was glad to learn that he was actually pretty awesome.... he believed in treating the Native Americans with respect and camaraderie and preached that anyone should be allowed to worship how they believe- muslims, jews, pagans,,,, catholics(gasp!). I felt close to his story line since I hold Providence dear to my heart and since my pre-graduation ceremony took place in his original church.

4. Sarah is dark and morbid and loves cemeteries and duels and assassinations. Once when I was in high school my mom picked me up from school with a "special surprise" in store. The surprise was that she had found a really old cemetery behind a McDonald's. This might have created a soft spot for cemeteries since my first date with Sam was in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence- home of H.P. Lovecraft's corpse and still one of my favorite spots.

Anyhow, if you aren't the kind of person who enjoys historical tours or who once had a locket with Alexander Hamilton in it (thanks brent!) you might want to check out Sarah's first book Take the Canolli which is more about guns, goths, and The Godfather.
Here's Jon Stewart interviewing Sarah Vowell a few days ago.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Sunday, October 4, 2009


The experience of dissonance (or incompatible beliefs and actions) is aversive and people are highly motivated to avoid it. In their efforts to avoid feelings of dissonance, people will avoid hearing views that oppose their own, change their beliefs to match their actions, and seek reassurance after making a difficult decision.

In conversation, people co-create meaning by attaining some coherence and coordination. Coherence occurs when stories are told, and coordination exists when stories are lived. CMM focuses on the relationship between an individual and his or her society. Through a hierarchical structure, individuals come to organize the meaning of literally hundreds of messages received throughout a day.

The Narrative Paradigm allows for a democratic judgment of speakers because no one has to be trained in oratory and persuasion to make judgments based on coherence and fidelity.

Because media are controlled by corporations, the information presented to the public is necessarily influenced and framed with profit in mind. Cultural Studies theorists, therefore, are concerned with media influenced and framed with profit in mind. Cultural Studies theorists, therefore, are concerned with media influence and how power plays a role in the interpretation of culture.

As in dramatic action, life requires an actor, a scene, an act, some means for the action to take place, and a purpose. A rhetorical critic can understand a speaker’s motives by analyzing these elements. Further, Dramatism argues that purging guilt is the ultimate motive, and rhetors can be successful when they provide their audiences with a means for purging their guilt and a sense of identification with the rhetor.

Expectancy Violation Theory examines how nonverbal messages are structured. The theory advances that when communicative norms are violated, the violation may be perceived either favorably or unfavorably, depending on the perception that the receiver has of the violator. Violating another’s expectations may be a strategy used over that of conforming to another’s expectations.

Face-Negotiation Theory is concerned with how people in individualistic and collectivistic cultures negotiate face in conflict situations. The theory is based on face management, which describes how people from different cultures manage conflict negotiation in order to maintain face. Self-face and other-face concerns explain the conflict negotiation between people from various cultures.

Muted Group Theory maintains that language serves men better than women (and perhaps European Americans better than African Americans or other groups). This is the case because the variety of experiences of European American men are named clearly in language, whereas the experiences of other groups (such as women) are not. Due to this problem with language, women appear less articulate than men in public settings. As women have similar experiences, this situation should change.

This Theory argues that the main activity of organizations is the process of making sense of equivocal information. Organizational members accomplish this sense-making process through enactment, selection, and retention of information. Organizations are successful to the extent that they are able to reduce equivocality through these means.

This theoretical position argues that the major force in interpersonal relationships is the satisfaction of both people’s self-interest. Theorists in Social Exchange posit that self-interest is not necessarily a bad thing and that it can actually enhance relationships. The Social Exchange approach views interpersonal exchange posit that self-interest is not necessarily a bad thing and that it can actually enhance relationships. The Social Exchange approach views interpersonal exchanges as analogous to economic exchanges where people are satisfied when they receive a fair return on their expenditures.

In modern Culture most people get much of their information in a mediated fashion rather than through direct experience. Thus, mediated sources can shape people’s sense of reality. This is especially the case with regard to violence, according to the theory. Cultivation Analysis posits that heavy television viewing cultivates a sense of the world that is more violent and scarier than is actually warranted.

Although self-disclosure can lead to more intimate relationships, it can also leave one or more persons vulnerable.

Due to their enormous power, the mass media have a lasting effect on public opinion. The theory maintains that mass media work simultaneously with Majority public opinion to silence minority beliefs on cultural issues. A fear of isolation prompts those with minority views to examine the beliefs of others. Individuals who fear being socially isolated are prone to conform to what they perceive to be a majority view.

This theory posits that people are situated in specific social standpoints-they occupy different places in the social hierarchy. Because of this, individuals view the social situation from particular vantage points. By necessity, each vantage point provides only a partial understanding of the social whole. Yet, those who occupy the lower rungs of the hierarchy tend to understand the social whole. Yet, those who occupy the lower rungs of the hierarchy tend to understand the social situation more fully than those at the top.