Category Archives: Culture Too

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.

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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.

Why Didn’t Somebody Tell Me?!

We never watch CNN. I don’t even notice what’s on it when we’re scrolling through the listings. I just assume it’s all news. But this evening, after we had finished watching Life of Pi which I had recorded a few days ago, while I was looking for the cats the husband picked up the remote and when I got back I heard a delightfully familiar voice: Mike Rowe! Must be a Dirty Jobs rerun, I thought. But it wasn’t one I remembered and nothing about it looked particularly dirty. Even more strange, I noticed the CNN logo in the lower right corner of the screen. Hmmm… interesting.

Finally, at a commercial break we learned that the name of the show is Somebody’s Gotta Do It. And it’s in its second season and I had never heard of it before! How can this be? Never mind; what’s important is that OMG! MIKE ROWE IS BACK ON TV EVERY WEEK! Let it rain.

Rules and Such

You know, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a social media “rule” is actually a generally accepted social convention or merely the opinion of the author of a list of rules like this list of The 29 Rules of Social Media. Now, to start with, I have a rule for blogs and other websites that I wish everyone would follow and that is, DON’T have weird features on your website that make it difficult or confusing for first time visitors like, for example, like having the content not appear until you move your mouse to the right. What the F, dude? Seriously? Why?

But anyway, moving on. Some of the 29 rules are site specific so I’ll skip over the ones for sites I’ve never visited, and I’ll skip over some others because I simply don’t have anything to say about them. First, for all sites:

Share several times a day, but space out your posts every few hours. – I’m not good with scheduling. Well, I’m okay but I share when I have something to say or when I have a few minutes when I have nothing better to do. It’s social media, dude, not like a job.

Respond to all comments as quickly as you can. – I would like to respond quickly but sometimes I just don’t have anything to say and sometimes I don’t think of anything until hours or a day or two later.

Know the art of the hashtag. 1 hashtag is fine. 10 hashtags are not. – Agreed. I don’t use hashtags much anyway.

Always keep the 80/20 rule! Entertain and inform your audience first, sell to them second. – I hadn’t heard of the 80/20 rule. It depends on what I’m looking for. If I’m looking for entertainment I expect it to be 100% entertainment. If I’m looking for shoes or fabric or something it’s okay if you’re trying to sell it to me.

These are for Twitter:

Don’t automatically direct message people that follow you. – Shouldn’t that be “people who follow you”? Anyway. Not sure about this one. Seems like a good rule but I can see how this might seem polite to some people.

Don’t use all 140 characters. Give people room to retweet with a reply. – Ridiculous! Sometimes 140 characters is barely enough and you expect me to limit myself to even fewer?

I haven’t been on Twitter regularly for a long time. I like it, maybe better than Facebook, and keep thinking I want to get back on it but for some reason I just don’t.

For Facebook:

Don’t Like your own post. – Do people do that? Actually, I wouldn’t do it but I don’t see how it could hurt or inconvenience anyone. So someone’s post has 4 likes instead of 3, or 1 instead of none. Is this really a problem? Sure it says something about you if Like your own posts but other than that…

Don’t post or tag photos of fans, customers, or employees without permission. – Probably a good idea for legal reasons.

Don’t tag people or pages that aren’t relevant to your post. – Agreed. I haven’t experienced this myself though.

Don’t ask for Likes, Comments, or Shares. – OMG! YES! Please, please, please stop doing this! I get so freaking tired of the “Share if…” you love your mom, dad, kids, husband, wife, brother, sister, America, Jesus, or puppies images on Facebook. This is one of those things, though, that I was talking about that are probably opinions more than social conventions because almost everyone seems to think this is okay.

I’m not on LinkedIn or Instagram so I won’t comment on those. I signed up for Pinterest but I’ve never used it because there were no instructions or “getting started” guide or anything like that. Or at least not an adequate guide. I can’t remember exactly. Sure I could have figured it out but I hate being a newbie and not knowing how to do anything and having to figure it out as I go along. The rules? I’m not sure. I was interested in Pinterest mainly as a way of keeping track of things I see online that I want to be able to find again so I don’t have to keep bookmarking things and have an endless list of bookmarks which I will probably lose again because I always do eventually. But that was just my idea; I’m not sure how Pinterest really works and it’s kind of annoying to think that if I ever started using it I would have this social obligation to use it a certain way and follow certain rules when all I really want to do is keep track of stuff.

I’m on Google+ but I rarely use it. I think I might (not sure because I haven’t used it that much) like it better than Facebook if anyone I know was actually on it and actually used it but the few family and friends I have that use social media prefer Facebook so that’s where I go too.

Thanks.

All-Natural Chemicals

I have nothing better to post this morning so let’s pick on the Food Babe. I saw this thing on Facebook, quoting her saying that she would not eat anything that an 8-year-old could not pronounce. So, I’m just wondering how many of these words the average 8-year-old can pronounce and whether or not Ms. Hari eats bananas. Or anything else. Well… she must eat something since she’s still alive.

Yes, It Is Time For New Eyeglasses

My bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper has an ad on the label for Avengers: Age of Ultron. When I first looked at it I could have sworn it said “Ass of Ultron”. After taking off my glasses, holding the bottle closer, and squinting and staring at it for a few seconds I was able to make out that the word is actually “Age”. It seems to me though, that Ass of Ultron has possibilities as a movie. “Age of” is so overused.

It just so happens that I did already have an eye Dr. appointment scheduled.

Office Jargon

A-Z of Modern Office Jargon. If I worked in an office I would stay in trouble for making fun of the way my bosses and co-workers talk. “Let’s take this offline.” “But we’re not online right now.”

Some of the words on the list have been in use so long they seem like just normal, ordinary language: heads-up, no-brainer, and even “issues” are all common and not just in the office. It’s more a matter of how these words, and some others on the list, are used in an office or political setting to mask what is really being said that makes it jargon. Some, however – “thought shower”, “upskill”, “backfill” – are merely ridiculous.

This list is from a book, Who Touched Base In My Thought Shower?: A Treasury of Unbearable Office Jargon by Steven Poole. I’m thinking it might be a great idea if everyone who works in that kind of office sent a copy of it to their boss. Anonymously, of course.

Authenticity

Charles at Dustbury picked his Quote of the Week from this longish essay on authenticity. The liberal bashing made me cringe a bit. Liberal stereotyping is like any other kind of stereotyping: true of only a small percentage of the group in question. Or maybe I’m not really an “authentic” liberal.

I’m a huge fan of authenticity but I have to admit that I like a lot of things that are not authentic and that sometimes I don’t even know what’s authentic and what’s not. But I absolutely do not think an artist’s background has anything to do with authenticity. To suggest that it does is un-American. Yes, it is. America is all about the idea that any kid can grow up to be anything he or she wants to be. America is supposed to be a “melting pot” right? (Although, I think some people are not fond if that idea.) Cultural appropriation is authentically American. We’ve been doing it for so long, sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. It’s just that certain cultures are off limits. According to certain people.

But you know… when I think about it, all this bitching and whining and preaching and finger-pointing is authentically American too. Thank goodness we all have that right, even if it is really freaking annoying sometimes.

Shoes!

When I see the title Best Catwalk Shoes of Milan Fashion Week I immediately think, “Oh boy! Ridiculous high fashion shoes to make fun of,” but some of these are actually wearable and even more that would be wearable if I wore high heels. But there is a lot to make fun of too so let’s have a look, shall we.

#3 is one of the ridiculous ones but also, somehow, attractive?

Ooooooo! My sparkly little girl heart loves #8 but wearable? Sadly, not in my world. Same for #9, except I’m not so fond of the poodle.

#’s 11 and 13 set a new bar for ugly.

Well… #17 made me stop and stare for a while.

#21 is quite ordinary but nice. I might actually wear something like that.

#29 is… um… notable. I like the colors but the human foot was not made to walk in that position.

#32 – Hmmmm… green snake skin. I am tempted to think I could wear green snakeskin, with a more reasonable heel of course, but… no, probably not.

#34 is interesting. I sort of like them but of course I’d fall hurt myself if I tried to wear them.

#’s 36 and 37 – Oh, are chunky heels coming back? I could probably wear those. Not sure if I want to.

#42 – Hahahahahahahahaha! I hope those come in kids’ sizes.

#44 – OMG! No!

#45 – No, but wow!

#51 – Wait! What?

#52 – Oooo! Lights! Okay, yeah. I sort of hate to admit it but I would wear those with jeans. And #53. Those are cool.

#54 – WTF?

Oooo! Call me crazy but I want #62. And the skirt too. Yeah, yeah, I know it looks like Grandma’s sofa. Shut up.

#63 – Maybe for the Christmas party?

#70 – I would say maybe without the pom-poms but the heels look a little wrong somehow.

The Truth About “Superfoods”

Here’s an interesting and useful article: A Closer Look at Dr. Oz’s 15 Superfoods. You’ll notice that many of the health claims made for these foods are at least partly true. It’s just that Dr. Oz and the many other people pushing the idea of “superfoods” have turned it up to 11 when it really needs to be turned down to about 5. And, you know, that seems to be a problem with much of what you see these days both online and in the the “real world” – everything is turned up to 11.

I know that’s not exactly an original thought; everyone says that. But it just seems like it keeps getting worse. There are so many people wanting attention and yes, I want attention too. I want 1,000 page views a day and 50 comments on every post. But I can’t bring myself to turn up the drama like some people do. I’m not even sure it would work for me if I tried.

Wow, that really went off track. This was supposed to be about food. If I could get the whole world to pay attention to me – if I could have my own TV show to tell everyone what to eat – my advice could be summed up with that ancient phrase, “All things in moderation.” Some foods are better for you than others but too much of anything can be bad, so eat just a little more of the good things and less of the bad things. But who would watch a show like that?