Category Archives: Culture Too

Beauty Around the World

A woman sent a natural photo of herself to 40 people in 25 countries and asked them to “make me beautiful” using Photoshop. I would have a hard time picking a favorite – the one I consider most beautiful – but it would definitely not be either of the two by U.S. Photoshop artists. To me these look excessive and hideous. They make me sad but they don’t surprise me. I see this kind of overly made up look all the time, even here in Oklahoma. Is this really what most Americans consider beautiful? I want American women see this and see what I do but I don’t have much hope.

Prince

Sometimes there’s a sort of odd feeling of regret when a celebrity you never paid any attention to dies. Like you missed out on something. Of course you can still listen to the music, or watch the old movies or read the books (whatever the celebrity’s thing was) but you missed out on being a part of the living fandom. I never paid any attention to Prince. By the time he came along I had stopped paying any attention to popular music and to me he was just another singer who dressed funny. I did see him on the Superbowl half-time show a few years ago and thought, “You know, he’s not all that bad.”

Whenever a cultural icon dies the media talks about him a lot and non-fans learn things that fans knew all along. I learned two things about Prince that particularly grabbed my attention. One is that he was born the same year I was and that’s always a little disturbing. The other was that Prince was actually his real first name. I have also heard more of his music in the past few days than I had heard in all the years of his whole career. So, based on that, could I have been a fan? Honestly, probably not. Maybe I might have sort of liked one or two or three of his songs but I never would have been a big fan. But I still feel just a little bit like I missed out on something.

This ‘n’ That

The sun came out yesterday! Looks like we should have three or four nice days before it starts raining again. Honestly, we need the rain and sometimes I even enjoy it but after three straight days of rain and not seeing the sun at all for even longer I get a little tired of it.

So, it looks like this will be the last season of Castle as we know it. If they’re going to write out Beckett and Lanie I wish they would just go ahead and end the series. I would like to say that I will not watch it without these two characters but I can’t make a firm commitment to not watching. Curiosity sometimes kills my intentions. Nathan Fillion hasn’t signed his contract yet so season 9 isn’t a certainty. On the last episode there was a huge opening for Castle and Beckett to literally ride off into the sunset together. I hope that’s what happens. It’s been a good eight seasons. Don’t spoil it, ABC. End it well.

Hmmm… sorry, that’s all I’ve got right now; here’s a cat video.

The End of Mythbusters

After 14 seasons it’s over. I don’t want to say I thought it would go on forever because nothing lasts forever and 14 seasons is kind of amazing for a cable show, but I sort of felt like it would go on forever or at least for a long, long time. I sort of thought that… well, I didn’t really think that because I never even thought about it ending until the last two seasons after Kari, Grant, and Tory left, but somehow I sort of felt like the people might retire or leave one at a time to be replaced by other people but that somehow Mythbusters would keep going for many, many more years; if not forever then at least as long as the Discovery Channel still exists.

We watched the finale and the reunion special and the so-called lost episode which was rather obviously “lost” on purpose so they could show one more episode after the finale. Of course the re-runs will be shown on the Science Channel now, as they have been for several years, and I’m pretty sure there are some early episodes that we haven’t seen. I had a thought this morning – there’s a possibility of “previously unseen footage” specials. I hope someone at Discovery thinks of that. Still, it won’t be the same as actual new episodes and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the cancellation of Mythbusters is tragic. The world NEEDS Mythbusters. There are still people out there who believe every silly thing they see on TV or the Internet. There are still kids who need someone to show them that science is fun. The world, already getting dumber every day, just lost one its most important sources of smart.

Shame Shame

If you spend much time on the Internet, especially Facebook, you have probably noticed that everyone’s new favorite “sin” is “Shaming”. Like most such things, it started out as something good – of course no one should be shamed for things over which they have no or limited control or for making perfectly legitimate choices – but it was quickly adopted by society’s (figurative) pants-wetters so now, more often than not, “shaming” really means “I’ll do whatever I want, right or wrong, and you don’t have the right to think it’s wrong or to teach your own children it’s wrong or to do anything other than sing my praises for being so brave and heroic.” or simply, “You have no right to an opinion if it’s different from mine.

Apparently though, only some kinds of shaming are bad while some other kinds are not merely acceptable but are every “right-thinking” citizen’s duty to society. Those who cry the loudest about shaming are themselves engaging in shaming. Opinion shaming: trying to make people feel guilty about their opinions. Free speech shaming: trying to intimidate people into keeping their opinions to themselves when you don’t want to hear what they have to say. Food shaming: trying to make people feel guilty about what they eat. And the ever popular “improper” shopping shaming: shopping at the “wrong” stores. On one of the sewing blogs I read a commenter started shaming the blogger for shopping online. The blogger had a good response and everything remained civilized.

What these Priestesses of Local Shopping don’t understand is that some of us don’t have a lot of choices. (Not true of the aforementioned blogger but so what?) I have only two places to shop for fabric and notions that are reasonably nearby: a small quilt shop and (OMG! Shame!) Walmart. Both have very limited selections. The next nearest places are about 40 miles away and both of those are chain stores. I have no idea where the nearest “mom and pop” (not quilting) fabric store is. Should I only buy fabric when I can drive all the way to Dallas or hop on a train to New York? And of course it’s not just fabric. There are a lot of things that simply are not available locally. But I hate that I always need to explain this to people. I’m not feeding the local drug lord or Nazi party or anything like that so I should not need to defend my shopping choices.

So… this whole thing kind of went off the rails in that last paragraph. My point is, shaming people for shaming is, in fact, shaming. Knock it off and go find another hobby.

Cookie Scrooge

Charles has discovered a wine list for Girl Scout Cookies. I don’t care about that because I don’t drink wine but it reminds me that it’s almost Girl Scout Cookie season. Soon I will not be able to enter Walmart without having to face a little girl in uniform asking me to buy cookies. But I don’t buy them anymore. Well, I try not to buy them. I feel sorry for the girls and sometimes I weaken.

Frankly, the cookies are not all that great anymore. I mean, they’re good but they’re not amazing. Girl Scout cookies used to be so amazing we didn’t care that they were overpriced and the boxes were undersized. We would pay almost anything to get a few of those heavenly creations and good luck making it home with part of a box. But now? They’re just cookies. They’re okay but I can make better at home and Keebler, Nabisco, and even some of the cheap store brands are just as good.

And there are all those articles every year telling us not to buy Girl Scout cookies for one reason or another. Should we trust those articles. Possibly not. Most of them are probably written by someone with an agenda of their own but sometimes, when we’re told that a big powerful organization is taking advantage of the girls and getting most of the money, it’s enough to make one feel uncomfortable about buying them. But honestly, if they were as good as they used to be I could ignore these claims. This is just another excuse not to buy them.

When confronted with the choice to buy or not to buy though, there’s just one excuse that I use out loud: “Sorry, I don’t need the calories.” It sounds plausible and it’s not unkind.

What the Hell Were We Watching?

Yesterday number one son and daughter-in-law and the grand-kids were over here and after lunch the guys all went to Lowe’s leaving just the daughter-in-law, the two-year-old, and me here at home. The two-year-old wanted to watch cartoons so I turned on the TV and looked to see what was on all the cartoon channels but we couldn’t find any of her favorites. (Mickey and Minnie, Bubble Guppies, Doc McStuffins) I finally stopped on NickToon. I can’t remember exactly what the listing said – something about a pig and a banana? – which I thought sounded kind of cute but it actually looked pretty bizarre, one of those things you just can’t stop watching even if you want to, and more importantly the two-year-old was still and quiet for more than five minutes and that never happens so we kept on watching it.

It was a few minutes into it. There were a large number of characters running around and the scene was pretty chaotic, hard to tell what was going on, and this character that I later figured out was supposed to be a pig (It didn’t look much like the cartoon pigs I’m used to seeing.) said something like, “Okay, you don’t like these rules, from now on there will be no rules.” (Apparently the pig had wished to be “President of the World”) Of course, then things got even more chaotic and we see burning buildings in the background.

Then there was this bit about a talking banana who helped a big scary looking bully (not sure what kind of animal he was supposed to be) get the hair out of his eyes so he could see and he was so grateful that they became friends.

After that there was a part about a cricket(?) who hated the world without any rules so he decided to go to Mars. Mars is inhabited by talking toilets who have lots of very strange rules like never eating carrots on Tuesday and not saying the word “what” and that’s where things really go wrong because the cricket keeps saying, “What?” The talking toilets get so angry they decide to declare war on Earth but when they get there instead of going to war they decide to have a toilet party and all the toilets on Earth are invited and we see toilets breaking loose from their plumbing and floating up into space to go to the Martians’ toilet party.

Weird as all this sounds, it doesn’t quite convey the overall weirdness of the whole thing. Somewhere in the middle of it the guys came home and number one son expressed the opinion that the cartoon’s creators must have been on drugs and, frankly, that sounds entirely plausible but I think I need to watch this show a few more times. I hope I can find it again.

A Controversial Question

Oh, I hope it’s controversial because, you know, comments. On this week’s NCIS:Los Angeles (CBS, Monday night) Beale was wearing what he called a “tactical work kilt.” Of course you know I had to Google that and I found Utilikilts. Their version is similar to, but not exactly like the one on NCIS:LA.

Personally, I am rather traditional about some things and the idea of guys wearing skirts – okay, okay, kilts – makes me giggle a little bit but I can actually sympathize with the desire to wear one. Skirts are simply more comfortable than pants and, without being too indelicate about the matter, I can see how for guys they would be even more of an advantage over pants. And, historically, before pants were invented everyone wore some kind of robe, dress or skirt-like garment. (But guys, if you must wear a kilt, please… boxers.)

So, questions: Guys, would you wear a kilt, not just as a joke or a gag but seriously? Ladies, what do you think? If you are married what would you do if your husband decided he wanted to wear one? If you are single what would you do if your date showed up wearing a kilt?

It’s Over

I am a sometime (American) football fan. I look forward to the beginning of the season, usually. I enjoy watching some of the games. But I’m always ready for the season to be over a few weeks before it is actually over. But I also always look forward to the Superbowl. I actually love the hype and the holiday atmosphere of it. But I’m glad it’s over now.

I’m glad the Broncos won because I wanted Peyton Manning to win one more. Otherwise though, it wasn’t a great game. No great plays, nothing really memorable or amazing. We always want the Superbowl to be special and amazing but when it comes right down to it, it’s really just another game, one that is played at the end of the season when all the players are tired and beat up. Once in a while there’s a really great Superbowl but usually not.

And by the way, about Peyton Manning – can we please just give him some space for a while? We didn’t need to know immediately, just seconds after the game ended, if he’s going to play next year. We don’t need to know that today or tomorrow or next week. We don’t need to know until he’s had plenty of time to think about it and decide. I would say July or August is soon enough for us to know. Leave him alone. And stop talking about it for a while.

And one more thing – Yes, I am one of those people who goes to the kitchen and the bathroom during the game so I won’t miss the commercials. Sadly, this year there was nothing special about the commercials either. The Skittles commercial with Steven Tyler was fun but it would have been better if it had been a surprise instead of having seen it previewed earlier in the week. I liked the anti-drunk-driving spot with Helen Mirren. That was probably my favorite. There was also one with Alec Baldwin that I liked but I can’t even remember it now so I guess it really wasn’t that good. Overall, most boring Superbowl commercials ever.

That is all. Happy getting-back-to-normal-life week.

Open Message to a Teen Girl

Fifteen-year-old Cassy James has started a petition requesting that American Eagle Outfitters, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 start selling “modest, but fashionable clothing.” I really wish I could speak to and be heard by this young lady and others like her. Of course, even if I could she wouldn’t listen. I’m “too old”; I just “don’t get it.” But I have things to say and I have a blog and I’m calling on my three readers to make this go viral. I figure the chances of this girl actually reading this is about the same as the chances of me winning Powerball tonight but here goes anyway.

* * *

First of all, Crissy, I want to say that I admire you for speaking out about something that is important to you and trying to initiate change and I wish you the best of luck in your efforts. I also agree with you that these companies could have a huge positive effect on fashion and society. However, sadly, your petition is probably not going to have any effect. The only votes that matter to a store is dollars. That’s not intended as a criticism of the stores; it’s just the way business works. If you get a huge number of signatures – say, 100,000 – they might introduce a few modest fashions as a token effort but if they don’t sell well enough that will be the end of it.

The situation is not hopeless, however. First of all you need to be clear in your own mind what you really want. “modest, fashionable, age appropriate,” is rather vague. I admit I’m not a fashionable person; I know almost nothing about fashion, but I know that more modest clothing does exist. You say that these clothes are for women decades older and you want something age appropriate. I understand; that makes sense. But what, exactly is it that makes clothing age appropriate for you?

When you know what you want you need to start voting with your purse. Do you really have to shop at the three stores you mentioned? You say they are your favorite stores but why is that if they don’t have what you want? Look around. Try other stores. Try Amazon. You can find anything on Amazon. Also, you can improve clothes by the way you accessorize. If a garment is “too old looking” for you add some young jewelry. If a shirt or dress is too low cut add a scarf. If a shirt is too tight just buy the next larger size. That’s the easiest problem of all to solve.

Finally, if you can’t find what you want, learn to sew. If you know how to sew you can design and make any kind of clothes you want. If tens of thousands of girls your age just simply stopped shopping at your favorite stores they would do anything to get you back but once you see how fun and easy it is to be able to wear exactly what you want you may not want to go back.

It’s Over, Move On

Today is Epiphany. That means that today is the last day anyone has any legitimate excuse for still having their Christmas decorations up or at least for turning on outdoor Christmas lights. And it is the last day there is any legitimate excuse for running Christmas themed commercials on TV. Today is the last day that I want to see any of that stuff. Got it? Let’s move on to the annoying Valentines Day themed commercials.

Shaped Up

I am so out of the loop. I am even naive. Of course I see ads for “shapewear” but I always think, “Seriously? No one wears stuff like that anymore.” Well, apparently, everyone wears it. Once again, I am saddened by modern womanhood. In the 70’s we burned our bras; (Yes, I know it’s a myth) now we’re expected to encase ourselves in Spanx. And thousands of women actually do. [sigh] I suppose this is why I don’t have any friends. I just don’t understand other women.

One woman interviewed for the article actually said, “No woman should ever leave the house without Lycra on her thighs. I don’t want to see my own cellulite, so why would I want to see yours?” I don’t want to see mine either. That’s why I wear clothes – clothes that fit properly and cover everything that needs to be covered. This is a woman that I would like to meet so I could tell her, quite forcefully, that she has no business telling other women what kind of undergaments they must wear and if she ever starts a sentence with the words “No woman,” or “all women,” again in my presence I will burn all of her Spanx on the spot. (Well, you know I wouldn’t actually do that but wouldn’t it be fun to see her face if I said that to her?)

In 2010, an Oklahoma woman wore Spanx over her head while she robbed a McDonald’s. Oh that is so Oklahoma. I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed. Robbery is definitely not cool but it goes to show that we could come up with better uses for Spanx. It could be up there with duct tape and WD-40 in the Stuff With 1001 Uses category.

But seriously, why do women wear ridiculous crap like that when it is easy to be feminine and attractive without pain? Your clothes don’t have to be tight and clingy. You shoes don’t have to be four inches high and thin as chopsticks. Now does it sound like I’m telling other women what to wear? Well, maybe, but I’m thinking a lot of women who wear that stuff don’t really want to; they wear it because they feel like they have to. The article also includes stories of women at parties sneaking away to a bedroom to cut off their Spanx with a pair of scissors. So I am really just saying, wear what you want to wear (within the limits of decency and whatever dress codes you are subject to, of course) and don’t wear anything you don’t want to wear and that it’s possible to look nice without being too uncomfortable.

In My Pocket

I carry my son in my pocket. He’s nearly six feet tall but he’s right there in my pocket so, at any time, he can show me pictures of his daughter or his dogs or what he’s doing at work or we can talk about what we’re reading or make fun of something we saw on TV or just share a silly joke. I don’t get sad and lonely because “he never calls” because he’s always right there in my pocket.

I also carry my other son in my pocket. He’s a lot quieter but he does always tell me when he’s going to be late. Their father is in my pocket too. It’s so convenient having him there. And I have several other people in my pocket – my daughter-in-law, my grandson and my sisters-in-law. It may seem crowded in there but there’s always room for more, if any of my cousins ever decide to stop being techno-phobic.

There are other things besides people in my pocket. There’s my grocery list. I like having it there where I can update it anytime and I never forget it when I go to the store. And speaking of stores, I have thousands of those in my pocket too so I can read reviews or compare prices anytime, anywhere I might be. I also have all the world’s libraries in my pocket so I’m never stuck somewhere with nothing to read.

Maybe you’ve seen my husband and me at a restaurant, both of us looking at our phones, and made assumptions about us. What you don’t understand is that there are more than just two people at the table. We are not ignoring each other; we’re spending time together with family and friends. And maybe you’ve seen me in the dentist’s office or in a car dealer’s service department waiting area looking at my phone and thought how sad that I’m not talking to you instead. What you don’t understand is that I probably wouldn’t be talking to you anyway. Without my phone I would be either reading a book that I brought with me or flipping through the world’s most boring magazines wishing I had something good to read.

So you don’t like my phone even though you don’t even understand what it really is. I wonder, how is it any of your business? People going about their own business, not bothering anyone. How is that any of your business. Don’t disrespect my phone. You don’t understand what it really is, and it might be keeping me from biting your head off.

A Typical Conversation

Last night while watching NCIS: New Orleans: (probably not word for word)

He: Who is that?

Me: Oh, he played that weird guy on that weird show.

20+/- minutes later…

Me: What was the name of that show where they were at a research station at the North Pole the first season and on a tropical island the second season?

He: Helix

Me: That’s it. He was that weird guy on Helix.

And after looking it up on IMDB.com on my phone…

Me: He played Brother Michael.

Living in the Future

It seems a lot of people are excited about today being Back to the Future Day. It is cool that a specific date, not just a year, in science fiction has arrived in real life, but, to be honest, I have never been a huge fan of the Back to the Future movies and don’t remember them in much detail. I’m not even sure I saw BTTF II. Now I do definitely want to see it.

I wish I did remember the movies well, and that I was a fan, so I could feel like I’m in on the fun. It is a very cool day and cool to be here, in “the future.” Aside from these silly movies, I actually do feel like I’m living in the future every day. Computers, smartphones, e-book readers, the Internet, GPS, and yes, even flat screen TVs – these are all things from science fiction and here they are right now, a part of our everyday lives.

There are things that are not so great about this future, mainly that so few people appreciate what we have and so many people make it their life’s mission to try to make everyone feel either guilty or afraid all the time. Sometimes, I swear, I just want to slap some people! (I don’t ever slap people for real. If I did they would just laugh. Not much power in these noodle arms.) I want to send some people to their rooms and tell them not to come out until they learn to stop bothering people about nonsense. There’s a lot more, of course. I could go on and on but I’m not going to, at least not today.

It’s the future, people, and it’s fantastic. Stop rushing around and worrying and just enjoy it.

A Book About Football (NFL)

Several months ago Slow Getting Up: A Tale of NFL Survival From the Bottom of the Pile by Nate Jackson was on Amazon’s monthly “$3.99 or less” Kindle specials and since I watch football, and since the husband watches football and likes it somewhat more than I do (though I do sort of like it sometimes) I thought, “Why not?” I just, finally, a couple of weeks ago got around to reading it.

First of all, I must say I don’t think Mr. Jackson was expecting many female readers. Parts of the book contain crude language and TMI of the male sort. But, when I really think about it, there wasn’t a lot of that sort of thing so I made an effort to not be terribly offended.

Nothing in the book surprised me. I already had some idea of what goes on behind the scenes of NFL football but I think it was valuable to get a real inside human perspective on what it’s like to play in the NFL that you don’t get by listening to TV sports commentators casually talking about hamstring injuries and such. If you are a fan of NFL football you should read it.

Do Not “Share If…”

This is why you should not share anything you see on Facebook that tugs at the heartstrings. Most of the things that say stuff like “One share equals one prayer,” “Ignore if you have no heart,” and the like are not true at all and the few that were real are months or even years old. Don’t be naive. Just say no to overly emotional viral sharing. Share something original instead.

Summer TV

These are a few of the shows I’ve been watching lately.

Non-Fiction

Of course I’m still watching Mythbusters. Cari, Grant, and Tory, whose segments were my favorite part of the show, are gone and the show is really not the same without them but it’s still interesting.

I often, but not really regularly, watch Mysteries at the Museum. Very interesting short histories surrounding objects in museums. It’s on the Travel Channel.

Reality (or something remotely resembling it)

I generally do not watch competition/elimination type “reality” shows but Number Two Son started watching Face Off (SyFy) and got me hooked too. The contestants are special effects make-up artists, creating various kinds of original creatures, employing live models. All of the contestants have at least some experience doing this kind of make-up, though not in Hollywood. Who gets eliminated is decided by a panel of professional Hollywood make-up artists. The winner gets a job, as well as some other prizes. The thing I really appreciate about this show, compared to others of its type is the lack of interpersonal drama. Even though they are in competition with each other, the contestants are always friendly and sometimes even help the people they are competing against. In past seasons there have been a few contestants who were rather too whiny for my taste but there’s none of the sniping and cattiness you see on some of these types of shows and, at the end, I always feel like the person who won really deserved to win. I have never been disappointed.

I suppose I could have put Cuban Chrome in my “Non-Fiction” category but I think of it as a reality show along the lines of Swamp People, Mountain Men or Ice Road Truckers. We’ve all heard of the classic American cars in Cuba. This show is about mechanics who try to keep them going in spite of a lack of parts. We have only watched one episode so far. I found it interesting and I will watch at least a few more episodes but I’m not sure if we will keep watching long term or not.

Police or Detective Shows

Criminal Minds will be starting its eleventh season this fall but we have only been watching it for the last four or five seasons and, of those, we have missed up to half a season some years because of scheduling conflicts. (Even with DVR you can’t watch everything.) Several networks now show re-runs of it several nights a week so we have been watching a lot of Criminal Minds. I love this show. Considering that the crimes you see on it are of the creepiest and most disturbing kind, I can’t help wondering, just a little bit, if there’s something wrong with me for being so attracted to such a show, but what I really like about it are the characters and seeing them figure out the who and the why. I have to confess that at least 50% of the reason I watch is to see what Garcia will be wearing and the things she will say.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is another show that is re-run a lot. We started watching it this summer because, “There’s nothing else on; let’s try this.” So far I can take or leave it. It’s okay but I’m not a huge fan.

We started watching The Mentalist for the same reason: nothing else on; let’s try it. I have only watched three or four episodes but so far I am liking this one. The main character is cute and funny in a “no way would I put up with that in real life” way and the stories are interesting if not exactly plausible.

I have watched even less of the The Closer – two episodes, maybe three. Something about the main character grates on me a little bit but overall it’s not bad.

Science Fiction

And now, finally, we get to the best stuff on TV!

A couple of weeks ago there was a mini-marathon (four episodes) of Humans so I thought it might be a good opportunity to start watching it. It took me no time at all to get totally into it. In this near future or alternate present show people can buy realistically human-looking androids (called synths) to do housework and such. The problem with this is that a few of these synths are self-aware. One is murdering humans and the others just want to be free and to avoid being recycled. There is a poignant side plot about an old man who has an old, worn out and defective synth (not one of the self-aware ones) that he is trying to protect from mandatory recycling because it contains many of his memories and helps him to remember his past.

Zoo – Just started watching this one two weeks ago. Interesting so far. None of the characters have really clicked for me yet and that’s a pretty big deal to me but I’ll give it time because, as I said, it is interesting.

We have been watching Under the Dome since its beginning. I think it’s in its third season? Very interesting and realistic characters, intriguing story, complex but not so crazy complicated that it’s difficult to follow. Marg Helgenberger, formerly of CSI, has joined the cast this season and I’m liking her much better as the alien bitch than I ever liked her part in CSI.

This will come as no surprise, since I’ve mentioned it several times recently but my absolute favorite show on TV right now, and possibly number two favorite of all time, second only to Firefly, is Defiance.* I LOVE this show! It has fascinating characters and an extremely interesting long-term story arc. About 20 years (?) before the time the series begins aliens invaded and devastated Earth. Now (mid-21st century) humans share Earth with eight alien races in a very uneasy peace. Defiance is a town built in the ruins of St. Louis. If you haven’t seen this show before, start watching at the beginning and give it plenty of time. I didn’t really start to get into it until late in the first season.

*Actually, I feel a little guilty for not saying it’s third after Star Trek because I’ve loved ST for so long, and still do, but this is really a great show.