I don't normally blog about pop culture. I would be lying if I said I wasn't hip to daily gossip, considering that I gobble it up like buttery, cholesterol-laden popcorn. However, I'm not into pop music, I don't watch TV all that much, and the only things I obsess over are nostalgic paraphernalia from my past.
Yes, celebrities do have a sort of intrigue about them that I cannot ignore, and I do formulate my own opinions of them based on not only what I hear, but from what I observe as a seemingly dispassionate twenty-something.
When Lady Gaga, informally known as Stefani Germanotta, burst onto the scene, I wasn't remotely interested. Her music? Meh - I like some dance and techno, but nothing that's had a frequency on MTV (and if you're assuming that I'm a pretentious hipster because of this, rest assured....my strange interests are quite unclassifiable.) Then there was the fuss with the clothing and the ridiculous music videos and essentially the martyrdom of a pop idol. Again, not my cup of tea, but certainly interesting to peruse images of a half-naked lady in 5 inch heels and tape on her nipples carrying a cup of tea. That's not something you see every day.
However, as in all my opinions of others, I was hesitant to give in to the "Fame Monster," as Gaga so adequately addressed her obsessive following. I respect...
....those who are giving and thankful.... Miss Gaga is very close with her fans.
....who are kind and have firm moral beliefs.... She is an ardent support of LGBT rights.
....who are true creative artists........ Gaga writes her own lyrics, music, and is involved in every aspect of her performance.
....who are still grounded to their roots..... She lives still lives in the same NYC apartment and keeps in touch with her parents everyday.
....who are healthy role models...... I don't care if she drinks or does drugs, but I sure am glad the girl still eats her steak.
Well dear lord, you might exclaim, why shouldn't I love Lady Gaga, in all her amazing glory?!
One reason: I respect those who are humble.
Someone who parades around in all her gallantry, covered in meat/lace/nothing at all, commanding those who bow to her with the presence of a queen, all the while proclaiming herself amazing in every aspect of character, is not necessarily humble.
A friend of mine who attended NYU's acting school said they each had a class together a few years ago, pre-fame days. She scoffed at how, on the first day, Ms. Germanotta very simply stated that her voice was superb and proceeded to sing for her new classmates. This didn't surprise me, but it did turn me off. I couldn't imagine being around someone with such arrogance, and I certainly didn't aspire to that attitude, in which someone blazons their talent like a triumphant flag.
In any case, she said something that has really stuck with me since: "I'm just as delusional now as I was at 18. I was 18, telling everyone around me, I'm gonna be a fucking superstar. And everybody was like, 'Yeah, whatever, she's an egomaniac.' And then...HaHaHa."
This quote, amazingly enough (considering my obvious disdain for arrogance) did not piss me off. In fact, I couldn't stop thinking about what it meant for her, or what it could mean for anybody. Earlier in the clip, she had gotten a little emotional visiting her old apartment and realizing how far she had come. Therein lies the duality of her attitude - she is both solid in her belief that she is good at what she does, yet upon looking back can still appreciate how far that climb was, and what it took to get there.
In that instant, I realized that the reason I hated people who were arrogant, and why I so treasured the self-deprecation of others, is that it's exactly the way I act. I refuse to praise myself, as if it were a sin or weakness to avoid at all costs. Somehow, I have convinced myself that under-estimating my worth and abilities will make others see them more clearly. Perhaps even make them admire my modest attitude. Besides, their approval is what counts, right? I can't get there on my own, can I?
All my life, I have assumed that my desire to appear humble was the most unselfish trait I could have. But in making others responsible for proving my worth, I have been as selfish as one can be. During which time, my experiences in trying to write, make films, socialize, keep relationships and be content, have been incredibly difficult and lonely.
It's quite possible that someone as eccentric and bombastic as Lady Gaga is trying to pass on a very important lesson in emotional health: be proud of the person you are, and confident in where you will go, as it is the truth. There is in fact nothing truer than the love you have for yourself. I believe that it is this passion that allows Stefani Germanotta to be Lady Gaga.
And it is this same passion that I must find in myself, in order to be the writer, creator, the talented Tara that I know (deep, deep, I'm sayin' WAY deep inside) I've always been. And if some people perceive this confidence, this self-awareness that allows one satisfaction, as being domineering and bitchy, then, as Lady Gaga would say, "I'm a bitch."
Lady Gaga, I aspire to be as much of a bitch as you are - the proudest, most energetic, successful and hard-working bitch I can be. You may say I was born that way, but it takes a lot longer to realize that it's okay to be that way - and that it's an integral part of reaching the happiness that all of us deserve.
Honestly, I don't care whether it's all a ruse for publicity, or for the sheer image she may be trying to uphold for her career. In spite of these possibilities, I still think it's a damn good example to set for anyone.
And if you need a tangible metaphor for this steadfast belief in born-that-way beauty; merely gaze upon the nose of Gaga - that wonderful, "silhouetted bump" of an Italian schnoz (much like yours truly) - that has never been altered, regardless of fame. My dear, for all your fellow nosy gals - don't ever change.
It occurred to me a few weeks ago, upon finally realizing the end of 2010 and the beginning of a new year, that I have watched a lot of films within 12 months.
As a former film student and production-seeking career girl (I can't really say I'm in film until my paycheck says so - advertising, I'm afraid, does not count), this should not be surprising. Nevertheless, it is.
My taste (and experience) in the art of watching films has transformed exponentially over the last few years of my life. Obviously, my NYU film courses were the first major transition from watching movies purely for entertainment to analysis of the film craft. I had always admired filmmaking from afar, thanks to my mother's long-standing awe of classic films and Simpsons parodies. And there were always the TV movies, childhood movies, and summer blockbusters that one fixates on amidst boring suburban life. These were always, for the most part, from one of the following categories:
Classics Films before 1970
Movie Premieres on network television
Excuses to go to a movie theater
I had never seen an art house film (nor were they part of my regular vocabulary), and indie flicks had not yet assumed the norm. My parents and friends didn't know of any, so neither did I. And besides - I was content with my list, entertaining no other possibility for film other than the usual plot-driven, dramatic/comedy/action/thriller I had grown to love and aspired to make. Under no circumstances did this include horror films - why, it took me years just to sit down to watch Jurassic Park without peeing my pants.
Cue the harsh slap-in-the-face that is film school. Some fellow classmates didn't think I had the knowledge for it. Maybe I didn't - but wasn't that the point of learning?
It was humbling to see that the art of film was not so black and white, as it had seemed; there were some films that never made it to the Oscars, but were admirable nonetheless. There were short films that only showed at festivals, B films and C films, films done for art-sake and films done for the hell of it. Some "stories" focused on character development only, while others seemed to be about nothing at all. I finally got to watch some of the breakout and cult films of the first 14 years of my life that I was never privy to, simply because I wasn't considered mature enough to watch them at the time: films like Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, and Clerks, which was shot less than 10 minutes from my house.
At this point, one can revel in the discovery of so many new realizations, or curse themselves for being the idiot who hadn't come about this knowledge earlier. I fell for the latter, mainly because I was 17, on my own, and full of fun emotional drama.
It's taken since that first year of college to really get the courage to dip my toes into the pool of films I dared not touch before. I have to thank my professors first, and my friends after, for introducing me to them, as I trembled, unworthy. A few of them worked at the old TLA Video on 8th Street before it closed down, and each had their own specialty of favorites within the film world. If I attempted to describe each of their tastes in three words, they would be:
MARK: Brooding, Foreign, Cannes
JAMES: Character, Epic, Journeys
JOSH: Cult, Offbeat, Horror
Though there were many instances of shock and awe throughout my education, one that stands out the most as something that stuck with me quite indefinitely was The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
This is not the type of film I would have gone to on my own - I had never heard of either the director or the title, but apparently it was big enough to be shown at IFC at midnight frequently. They insisted I go, and it being my college years, why the hell not? However, I was not ready for the symbolic imagery barrage with each chanting, triangle-trilled, vibrational-pulsed moment. Quite frankly, it was the strangest film I had ever seen, but I could not look away. And I could not stop thinking about it afterward. I've seen it three times since then, and have even written an entire thesis paper on its subject of religious symbolism. That's more intellectual fodder than Forrest Gump could ever provide.
Watching "Daisies" in Prague had a similar effect; I knew it must be laden with meaning; but even aside from that it was a rhythmic poem that replayed in my mind. And so since then, many fascinating films have crossed my eyes and riddled my eardrums - even, I must admit, horror films. Ryan has done a good job of forcing me to sit through them, and I can't say that I'm not grateful (though I could do without the occasional shocking scare that streaks my hair grey and inflicts possible stomach ulcers.)
The point in all of this, of course, being that traveling, meeting others and experiencing life as a more mature (but let's not get carried away), open-minded individual has given me the chance to really appreciate a film on a deeper level.
That said, I'd still take Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles any day. You can't become too pretentious, you know.
OH, THE FILMS I HAVE WATCHED: 2010
Labyrinth, Jim Henson (1986)
Made in the USA, Jean-Luc Godard (1966)
The Short Films of Al Jarnow, Al Jarnow (2010)
Shutter Island, Martin Scorcese (2010)
Suburban Commando, Burt Kennedy (1991)
District 9, Neil Blomkamp (2009)
Kamikaze GirlsTetsuya Nakashima (2004)
Dolls, Stuart Gordon (1987)
Day of the Dead, Steve Miner (2008)
Mr. Booogedy, Oz Scott (1986)
Hot Tub Time Machine, Steve Pink (2010)
Iron Man 2, Jon Favreau (2010)
Metropolis, Fritz Lang (1927)
Best Worst Movie: Troll 2, Michael Stephenson (2009)
Possessed ["Bool-sin-ji-ok"], Lee Yong-ju (2009)
Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, Shinya Tsukamoto (2009)
Brazil, Terry Gilliam (1985)
The Tenant, Roman Polanksi (1976)
Diva, Jean-Jacques Beineix (1981)
Performance, Donald Cammell & Nicolas Roeg (1970)
Daisies, Vera Chytilová (1966)
The Mist, Frank Darabont (2007)
Matthew Hopkins: Witchfinder General, Michael Reeves (1968)
A Town Called Panic, Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar (2009)
The Naked Kiss, Samuel Fuller (1964)
The Fearless Vampire Killers, Roman Polanski (1967)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Edgar Wright (2010)
It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine!, David Brothers & Crispin Glover (2007)
I Sell the Dead, Glenn McQuaid (2008)
Simon: King of the Witches, Bruce Kessler (1971)
The Skull, Freddie Francis (1975)
Enter the Void, Gaspar Noé (2009)
The Social Network, David Fincher (2010)
The Gate, Tibor Takács (1987)
[REC], Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza (2007)
The Red Shoes, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (1948)
Polyester, John Waters (1981)
Solaris, Andrey Tarkovskiy (1972)
Nosferatu the Vampyre, Werner Herzog (1979)
Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola (1979)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, David Lynch (1992)
The Kingdom ["Riget"], Lars von Trier (TV Series - 1994)
I know this is a day late, but holidays have a habit of hitting me after the fact.
I thought I'd share my first favorite library book with you all, in lieu of Valentine's Day. I mentioned it briefly in my Childhood Book lollapalooza - quite simply, I was obsessed with this book starting at 6 years old, and proceeded to check it out every time I went to the Middletown Public Library until my mom told me to cut it out and look for something more intellectual.
Well, she might not have said that, but it was the gist I got.
"Four Valentines in a Rainstorm," by Felicia Bond (or "The Day It Rained Valentines" as it has now been re-titled - not merely as poetic, but I suppose more obvious for the youngins) was a story about hearts falling from the sky during a rain shower. A little girl decides to pick them up and make valentines for all her animal friends, who for all intensive purposes are fully autonomous citizens of the neighborhood who can in fact receive mail and live in a house.
Why did I love this book so much? Perhaps its small size? (As you may know, I have a thing for miniatures) The phenomenon of teeny rain-hearts? Arts and crafts? Animals with opposable thumbs?
I don't think I'll ever know. But at least I've moved on to more mature reading as of late....
How do I count the Ways days? It's odd that football should be the thing to mark this momentus occasion, but it has been 3 years.....
3 years since the last super bowl I blogged about...
3 years since my wisdom teeth were pulled...
3 years since I got the hell outta Queens...
3 years since Ryan and I have been together.
Oh, where to begin? I can hardly believe that I am capable of remembering all those times as if they had been vague fogs of yesterday, but it's true that I do. Yes, I have my writing, my blog, to thank for most of this. However, there is one thing I couldn't forget if I tried (not like I have, but you get the idea)
.....my first date with Ryan.
This is a subject of constant dissension with us, and the reason why we still have yet to mark an official "anniversary." I honestly consider it hogwash - I don't need a day to remember someone who steals the sheets every night and to whom I relay every banal daily activity to with the utmost excitement. But it's nice to have one, I suppose, so that you can prove to each other how long you've had to put up with them.
I don't mean to rude - I'm trying to skirt around the whole lovey-dovey-ness that people whom have the fortunate of having someone to be with often make the mistake of falling into, to the disdain of those around them. I too was once alone, and I don't like the possibility of my being one of those people that unintentionally rubs it in someone's face. I've been hurt too many times to act so impudent - however, it being the time of the year when our economy urges us to spend money in lieu of love (who can complain really, when no matter whether you're single or not, you still get candy and star wars valentines?), I shall momentarily forget this rule and be forthcoming in my telling of my first date with Ryan, some three years ago.
The moral of this story is that good things come when you least expect them. I say this in the beginning in hopes that even the most curmudgeonly of romantic souls will not completely curse me off at the end of this post without taking a bit of hope along with them.
The other moral is that no one means as much to you as yourself, and that takes the longest to figure out - so you might as well start now.
After finishing college, I returned to Triple Threat Television in February of 2008 as producer on the Winona Ryder Biography. I had just moved into my apartment in Elmhurst, Queens and was relieved that there was a job to pay for it. Things hadn't changed much since my last stint there in November, except for the faces: they had recruited all new interns to their Harlem office, and when I walked in they all stared at me with the gaze of startled gazelle.
One of the gazelles had a soul patch - this was Ryan. He didn't look very friendly, but then again, my first impressions of people are usually not very accurate. We were seated squished across from each other at small table with our gigantor powerbooks, forced to exchange occasional awkward glances as we worked. I don't remember much of our interaction other than he liked to show odd video clips (that usually ended with my shaking my head in pity and confusion), and that we grew to bickering almost immediately. That really should have been a tell-tale sign that we were meant to be together.
My legs, being incredibly long, needed lots of room underneath the table. Even in his tight pants, Ryan was somehow able to encroach upon my half of the floor. I berated him constantly for it - most of the time in good spirits, but also because it was really freaking annoying.
We talked a lot - he had come from Ohio and was starting anew here in New York for a career in film. I thought this very admirable for someone who had never been on his own in a strange place. One day, he told me about a bakery that was offering free hot cocoa. FREE and HOT COCOA are the secret words to my Pee-Wee brain, so I immediately wrote down the info on a sticky note and promised to check it out.
Here's something you should know about me if you don't already: I am hopelessly oblivious to attraction. I never once thought why he had asked, assuming it was simply a nice gesture. I went as far as inviting my friend Matt to join in on the free-givings; however, after 30 minutes of trying to find the place, we discovered the bakery was closed. I was mostly upset about missing free hot chocolate.
The next day he apologized profusely, insisting he didn't realize that they had closed so early. I shrugged it off. And it wasn't long before he invited me, along with my other coworkers, to a concert - the one-man-band (or, one-man-with-strange-piano-flute, as I later found out), White Williams, was from Ryan's hometown of Akron. He seemed very insistent on me going; and since I wouldn't be alone, I decided it would be better than spending my night unpacking hoards of boxes.
And it was. First, I chipped my tooth on a bottle of beer. (I figure I had this coming to me, after weeks of sipping teeth-first.) Consider it lucky, I suppose: a metaphor for either the wisdom teeth I would later lose, or the piece of my heart I would soon be sharing.
Second, I got drunk. We had pre-gamed before, so it wasn't surprising. Ryan didn't seem to object, as evidence by this photo taken shortly after.
Third, I danced.
I don't do this unless I am drunk enough to not give a crap what people think. But people don't dance at concerts, especially hipsters (these were 2008 hipsters, so they were even more hardcore.) But apparently - when the DJ is on before the next set, there's smoke machines going, and the spectators clear a giant space for you in the crowd so that they can witness the ridiculous spectacle (or to not get hit by crazy flailing drunken arms, either one) -
Perhaps at this moment, Ryan was watching my frenzied steps, high heeled sneaker-boots slamming the ground like a toreador on steroids, and thinking "This is the girl for me."
I tried to drag him into the empty dance circle that was only me, but understandably, he declined. And what continued was what could only be described as the furious, dream-like stupor of uninhibited expression that is only possible when caring about nothing at all. It was me, in all my odd, slightly spastic glory. And it's possible that this is what brought me closer to finding true love than ever before.
Later, I lay slumped at a column, falling asleep. Ryan came over to introduce me to White Williams, who I groggily shook hands with. He was not amused - but then again, hipsters never are. He spent the rest of the night trying to keep my eyes open - but I was content with feeling the beats through my butt, foggy lights passing over my eyelids. On the train home, we talked about one another - mostly about our families. I expected nothing of that night, but it seemed as if things finally felt right. The next time we saw eachother at work he asked if I wanted to hang out that weekend.....
"Oh, well, I have a lot things to pick up for my new place, but I guess you could come over and help me put up my bookshelf."
It's not a normal occurrence for someone you hardly know to agree to building a piece of furniture for you. Way out in the middle of Queens. On a Sunday.,,,,without there being a motive. Either they want to murder you or go out with you. Or they're gay and have a thing for interior design. I didn't think to wonder what it could be, and a date was the furthest from my mind. After all, who puts up a bookshelf on a first date?
....Apparently, we do.
I met Ryan in the electronics department of Kmart at Astor. I deemed this an acceptable meeting place. He carried my National Liquidators trash can to the subway for the trip back to Queens, making it talk to me in muppet voice as he lifted the lid up and down. This folks, is when the magic started.
He did put my bookshelf up - and we made a good team. I'm sure there's something to be said about getting to know a guy as he's using a hammer - I'll let you be the judge. I never thought I'd end up falling for a guy that day, in that circumstance, but when he asked if I was going to kiss him, I did. And I haven't stopped kissing him since.
..........well, unless I'm eating and breathing, but you get what I mean.
I know as soon as play food even enters my mind, I'm a goner. I don't think I've actually been conscious for the passed two days. I know, it's bad. I need some sort of conditioning experiment to instill horror with the mere thought of plastic in-edibles. But that would just take so much joy out of my life.
Case in point:
I've finally found proof that I'm not making my childhood up: I did, in fact, have Fisher Price waffles-in-a-box.
And of course, their syrup counterpart.
Oh, how I wish I appreciated their whimsical worth back then!
I could be one of those crazies and order it off Ebay, but I'm not crazy enough to pay $30. Hell, some of these "vintage" toys (80's is vintage now apparently, and thus, as am I) go for almost $60 or $70! Totally taking advantage of helpless nostalgics like me - good thing I'm a cheapskate.
However, this is not even the BEST part of my two day binge. I recently found this video on Facebook:
I call this the "Gateway Drug;," since after I watched it, I couldn't stop my obsessive quest for the Japanese toys they call "Popin Cookin" (edible) and "Konapun" (inedible).
Um, this shit is ridiculous, and it leaves me mesmerized. (Check out more here!)
Quite simply, I need one of these sets, and I need them now. I'm convinced they hold the key to my happiness.
Okay, so I'm 25: I realize that I will now be experiencing chronic back pain, as a result of years of heavy backpacks and hunched computer usage. I will accept the fact that my energy has seriously dwindled since the days of playing tag. I was unnerved, but not sad to see my appendix and wisdom teeth yanked from my body forever in bloody glory.
But I beg of you, whoever "you" are: father time, fate, Morgan Freeman...
Do not take my memory away.
At least not now, when I'm still old enough to be making memories. You have to admit I'm not yet so old that I should be going to bed by 10 (does 11pm count as early?), or visiting the doctor on a daily basis (I only wish that I could), or even having to keep multiple pills in the medicine cabinet for my many elderly ailments?
Actually, it did all start with my medication.
Last Thursday I had gotten to work late after trudging through a post-blizzard Brooklyn. Surprisingly, even after an hour of stop.go.stop.stand.stand-some-more.breath-in-noxious-subway-people-sick-fumes.go.stop-in-freezing-subway-station.go, I was feeling a-okay. That is until I ate, sat down to my computer, and started working.
All of a sudden, I thought I was going to be dizzy. Then I thought I was going to throw up. Then I wasn't sure if I needed to rest or if I had a fever coming on. I was hot, sweating, couldn't concentrate. I switched rooms, drank some water.
Then I got the chills, even though I was wearing two layers. I took a Dayquil, and sat on the toilet pondering my new disease - did I catch something from the guy who was squished up next to me on the train this morning? Was that warm cheese I ate past due?
All the symptoms seemed so very familiar....I just couldn't put my finger on it.
At 5pm, a little light bulb in my head sparked from Dim to Duh: Could it be that I was going through withdrawal as a result of missing my medication? Ego: Oh, silly, you take it every night without fail! Me: But what if I forgot? Ego: Well, you'd have to forget for like two days or more. Me: .......... Ego: Well did you? Me: ......Last night does seem fuzzy....I can't say for sure.. Ego: How can you not remember??? You do the same thing every night! Me: I have no clue how I could have forgotten TWO days in a row.... Ego: YES EXACTLY. What the hell is wrong with you?! The answer is obviously that you suck at life and you are slowly losing your memory forever.
...And so on and so forth.
Seriously, there hasn't been that much going on in my life that I would allow myself to skip something so important; and also, so ROUTINE.
But, I decided it must have been fatigue, and tried to shrug off the ego to cut me some slack. It won't happen again.
Unfortunately, it has....only this time, in other forms:
The very next night, I went to sleep with my contacts in, and regardless of waking up with eyeballs nearly crusted over, and the ability to see my alarm clock without squinting for 30 seconds, AND putting eye drops in 2 inches away from the mirror, I didn't realize it until I opened my lens case and saw that they were not in fact there.
At work, I have begun to forget what I was about to do or thinking of doing in any of the following scenarios: typing, walking, talking, eating, getting up to go to the bathroom, leaving the bathroom, and remembering data that is pertinent to me doing my job.
My inner-Thesauraus, which used to be as fast as a Google Search, is now the equivalent of an arthritic man with 3-inch thick spectacles trying to turn the pages of a cobwebbed book, upside-down.
And it's not just short-term folks - my mother mentioned this weekend how we had gone to look at a Philadelphia college during high school - not only had I liked the school, but I had also liked Philadelphia.
In my recent memory, I have NEVER liked Philadelphia.
In fact, I had no recollection of the trip whatsoever.
At this rate, I fear that in a year's time, at least half of my 25 year life will have disappeared from my memory. And as I already seem to be forgetting the present, that will probably increase exponentially until I have the mental capacity of a goldfish.
Or, my 90 year old great-aunt.
But even SHE still remembers to take her medication.
I'm hoping that the cure for this crippling condition is a vacation - a REAL vacation.
Where I can wipe the slate of my mind clean, fill it with the wonder and awe I used to have as a child, and hold on dearly to those precious memories, as I sink deeper into the depths of monotonous old age adulthood.