Friday, February 24, 2012


Hello readers, long time no see! This is just a quick post to note that I've finally bit the bullet and created a Twitter account. Though I find the entire concept of Twitter grossly self-indulgent, there are a lot of accounts out there that I want to follow (like Sprinkles Cupcakes and the Treats Truck!). And with all the recreational work I do (Pronto Comics, Hourglassy, RT Book Reviews...), I concluded that I really needed to join the tweeting fray. If you wish to follow me, I'm @twingomatic. A warning, though: much of my posts will probably be discussing bras (in a very mathematical, unsexy way) as part of So read with caution. This Sunday, I plan to cover the red carpet portion of the Oscars. Will we see breasts squished to high Heaven à la Christina Hendricks, or perfectly supported like Scarlett Johansson’s 2008 Golden Globes red sheath with the built-in bra? Tune in to find out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


So I meant to write about this a while ago...but a few months ago I entered a photography contest for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, of which the winners would be featured in the Garden's 2012 calendar.

And I won!

My photo will be featured in December, and will be on display at the Garden in the spot where it was taken, which is the bonsai museum.

Here's the photo (click to enlarge to the full size):

In other news, I've started a new weekly column at the blog It's written by the lovely Darlene Campbell, founder of Cambell & Kate, a line of white button-up shirts designed for busty women. The Hourglassy blog focuses largely on the pitfalls and successes in dressing an hourglass-shaped body (since most adult women's clothes are cut for a 14-year-old). My column is about life with a small waist and big chest, with a focus on positive body image and easy sewing alterations to make ill-fitting off-the-rack clothing fit a curvy body. I update every Friday.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brooklyn Museum's "reOrder"

After seeing photos of the Brooklyn Museum's new "reOrder" exhibit (March 4, 2011-January 15, 2012), I just had to go see it in person. The renderings online looked so massive, so larger-than-life, so...glow-y. And after visiting in person, the installation is far more stunning than the pictures even give it credit.

reOrder consists of huge fabric sculptures made of flat, round frames with heavy white fabric folded and stretched from one circular frame to another below it, at varying heights and diameters. Each fabric monolith appears lit from within with a slightly blue-toned light, so that they all give off a luminescent, mystical glow. They're set up in the 10,000-square-foot hall on the first floor, which is capped with a flat glass roof. The small, green-tinted panes of glass that checker the ceiling pair perfectly with the luminescence of the exhibit, and only add to the otherworldly environment.

Each structure is rooted to the floor with heavy-looking white bases, some of which have a bulbous protrusion encircling it at just the right height to use as a bench (which museum-goers were only too happy to do). The clunky bases coupled with the light umbrellas give the installation an overall feeling of being ethereal yet solid at the same time, an effect made all the more pronounced when standing in the center of the hall, craning one's neck upward at these floating, oversized sunshades surrounding you on all sides. It was like walking through a sparkling white forest, and felt, in a word, magical.

For you architects out there, the Museum is also displaying videos of the building process and the installation and assemblage of the exhibit within the hall, sped up into time-lapse clips. It's fascinating, to say the least (and can also be viewed on the Brooklyn Museum's website).

Whatever you do, do not miss this exhibit. (It'll be on display for 10 months, so you've got no excuse not to go!)

You can find more information on this and other exhibits at

And here are some photos I took (which, due to my camera's increasing quasi-brokenness, don't really do the site justice):

Everybody go to the museum!

Thanks, crummy camera, for making this shot blurry.
This dad and his daughter were really sweet. Start 'em young (art lovers, that is)!

The right outer wall.

The left outer wall.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review: AX Alternative Manga

After reading a lot of mostly positive articles about this book, I checked it out from my local library (side note: I love that the Brooklyn Public Library carries this very adult manga!). And unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed.

Ax: Alternative Manga collects a slew of comics from the Japanese alternative comics magazine Ax, in the style of McSweeney's "Best American Comics" series. It consists of a sizable introduction and a collection of short comics, some of which are standalone tales and some of which appear to be excerpts.

While I'm always happy to see unexpected (and adult) manga translated into English, the content in this book was just not that great overall. There are a few titles that I liked, but too many were boring or nonsensical. Takato Yamamoto and Keizo Miyanishi's pieces, for example, were beautifully drawn, but I couldn't even get through them because they didn't follow a narrative and basically read like a stream-of-consciousness thing. I personally prefer my comics to tell some semblance of a story.

One complaint I read numerous times online is that the book as a whole has too much juvenile and gross-out humor, but this is definitely something I disagree with. Out of the 33 pieces, there are only about 3 or 4 that contain anything gross-out. Yes, these particular stories were pretty dumb and seemed like little more than an excuse for the author to draw penises, but they're hardly representative of the entire collection.

The stories that I enjoyed most were the furthest removed from the feel of traditional manga. Katsuo Kawai's simple line drawings more closely resemble the homemade mini comics you'd find in a local independent comic shop, and his brief tale about a woman's boyfriend leaving her for another woman is incredibly clever and elegant.

Toranusuke Shimada's thick black lines and bulbous shapes are positively fun to look at, and his fictional history of Eldorado motorcycles is one of the most engaging tales in the entire book. Kotobuki Shiriagari's "The Twin Adults" shorts are very clever and his drawings of the two little naked men are gently done in the watery brush stroke style of sumi (ink wash) paintings.

My two favorite pieces are by Shinya Komatsu and Akino Kondo (whose work also graces the cover). Komatsu's "Mushroom Garden" is illustrated in a highly detailed and magical Franco-Belgian style (think "TinTin" or "Asterix"), and the story of a mineral collector who switches to mushrooms is short and sweet. Kondo's "The Rainy Day Blouse" looks much more like traditional manga, but with perfectly smooth lines and lots of subtle roundness that gives it just a touch of an art nouveau feel. The simple story of a girl's new blouse and umbrella is also sweet and short with a hint of nostalgia. I will definitely be seeking out more of her work.

Now that I'm writing all this down, it sounds like there's a lot more that I like than dislike. However, that's because beside the stories I like a lot, I feel ambivalent about the rest. I don't like what's left, but I don't hate it (well, most of it) either. This collection is listed as "Volume One" on the cover, so I'm assuming Top Shelf will be publishing more. I look forward to picking up the next one at the library, but I would definitely not buy it, and overall there's just not enough good stuff for me to recommend this first volume.

Monday, October 11, 2010

NY Comic Con and Anime Fest Roundup

This past weekend was the NY Comic Con & Anime Festival. For the first time, they combined the Con and the Fest. I was a little disappointed in that decision because I knew the comics portion would have a much larger presence than the anime (and I was right), but then I remembered that the Anime Fest sucked last year... There weren't that many vendors, there weren't any screenings or panels I was interested in, and it seemed smaller than the 2008 Fest. So I stopped worrying and got really excited instead.

And that was an excellent choice because the Con was awesome! Easily the best Comic Con yet (I've attended the last three years). There were tons of vendors that spanned so many interests...classic comics, manga, small press, publishers, gaming... The convention was incredibly well-organized (well, except that it was difficult to find the guidebook), the main dealers' floor was huge, and there were a lot of great panels. In fact, there were so many I wanted to attend that they ended up overlapping and I couldn't get to everything. Here are the panels I did attend, and my impression of them all:


"Comics, Graphic Novels, And Manga For Adults"
With moderator Martha Cornog (graphic novel columnist and librarian), and panelists Robin E. Brenner (Massachusetts librarian), Ryan Donovan (NYC librarian), Karen Green (Columbia University librarian), and Natalie Korsavidis (Farmingdale, NY librarian).

This panel followed two others about comics for children and comics for teens and young adults. Discussion focused mainly on the difficulty the librarians have in convincing their co-workers and patrons that comics are not just for kids, and the resulting fight they go through to get those comics on the shelves. All the panelists were very clear in their opinion that comics are just as viable a reading source as conventional books. What I mostly took away from the panel was that comics still have a stigma of being "kids' stuff" despite the existence of titles like Maus, Persepolis, and all the adult-themed manga out there, but there are adults in academic positions who are working to erase that stereotype. Yay for librarians! I also learned that 95% of the time, if you ask your local librarian to get a particular book or book series, they will actually do it. And if your library doesn't have any comics on the shelves, check their inter-library loan. Sometimes all the comics are housed at a central library.

"MARVEL Television Presents MARVEL Anime"
I almost skipped this, but I am so glad I went! Marvel has been working with Studio Madhouse (a really, really great anime studio) to create anime shows about Iron Man, Wolverine, and Blade. These are going to be real anime, created by a Japanese anime house, not an anime-style American show. They're even all set in Japan and have Japanese dialogue with English subtitles. In this panel, we got to watch the first full-length episode of Iron Man and see a trailer for Wolverine. Iron Man was...pretty good. It was a bit flat, both in appearance and action, but I still have high hopes for it as the series progresses. The one thing I really didn't like were the scene transitions. They weren't smooth and felt unnatural. It was things like, there'd be two people in a car talking for a minute, and the next scene would be one of them getting off a plane that just landed. What about all the time between the car and plane? Where'd the other guy go? It's not really action you want to see, but the sequence was still jarring.

The Wolverine trailer, on the other hand, looked amazing. The only trailer on YouTube is an older one that looks quite different. The Comic Con trailer was modern while staying true to the Wolverine aesthetic, whereas the YouTube clip is too stylized and looks dated (Wolverine has a huge Labyrinth-style David Bowie mullet!). Wolverine already has a back story rooted in Japan, so it's a natural fit for him to be turned into an anime. Both these shows will begin airing on the G4 network in 2011. (I don't remember when they said Blade would air.)

"Indie Cred - Why Indie Comics Matter"
With moderator Tracey John (UGO's Comics, Toys, and Collectibles Editor), and panelists Julia Wertz (author of Fart Party), Jason Little (author of Shutterbug Follies), Mike Dawson (author of Troop 142), and Alex Robinson (author of Tricked).

I only went to this panel because I freaking love Fart Party! (Seriously, go read it. It's not about farts or parties, I swear.) It was basically what I expected. The panelists talked about how they got into comics, how they managed to get picked up by large publishers, and the differences between working with small press vs. "real" publishing houses. I thought the tone was awfully pessimistic, though. Little at one point said comics "are not a career" when an attendee asked for advice for aspiring comic artists. God, what a downer. When I spoke with Faith Erin Hicks, another indie and online comic writer who I love, she was all happy and said she couldn't believe she's being paid to do comics, and gave advice that can actually be acted upon (i.e. publish your work online immediately).

"Unusual Manga Genres"
With moderators Erin and Noah from the Ninja Consultant podcast.

I wish this panel had been longer. The moderators were only allotted an hour, so they (admittedly) rushed through it somewhat. Erin presented a slide show of all the "weird" manga that's not published in Japan. She spent the most time on games and sports-based manga. Japanese readers apparently really like reading about boring sports. There are literally dozens of titles based on golf, and numerous ones about...badminton! And...curling?? There is probably a manga title for any topic you can think of. Wheelchair basketball? Check. Baking bread? Check. Board games? Check. This was a really fun panel.

On to Sunday!

"MARVEL: The Women of MARVEL"
With moderator Jeanine Schaefer (editor), and panelists Lauren Sankovitch (editor), Colleen Coover (artist), Rachel Pinellas (writer), Christina Strain (colorist), Sana Amanat (editor), Grace Randolph (writer), and Stepanie Hans (artist). 

I got up early to catch this panel. It was about the women who work at Marvel, not Marvel's female characters. It was the best panel! The discussion didn't really focus so much on the fact that they were women, but focused more on how they all first got interested in comics, and how they all got into comics as a career. Interestingly enough, most of them came from unrelated backgrounds (architecture, publishing, musical theatre...). I asked the first audience question, which was how the editors got their jobs. Only one started out as an intern, and all but one of them came into it with no comic editing experience and were really taught the ropes once they got the job. I've wanted to work in comics for a long time now (applied to DC three times with no response), so this was pretty inspiring. 

"Black Butler Screening & Panel"
Sigh... This was the only panel I didn't like. It was a screening of the first two dubbed episodes of the anime show Black Butler. This title has gotten really big in the U.S. in recent months. The comic it's based on has been on the NY Times bestselling manga list for the last few weeks. So I wanted to see what the big deal was. But oh my god this show is not funny! It's full of all the standard anime humor tropes, so I feel like it's nothing new. It's about a rich British child whose parents have passed away, and the butler who is supernaturally tied to him and is tasked with keeping the home in order and protecting the child. God, the fans of this show were annoying. Every time the child was on screen, girls in the audience would scream like they had crushes on him--and bear in mind that this is a 12-year-old character (Ew! Stop lusting after a prepubescent cartoon!). Every time the butler was on screen or said his catchphrase of "I'm just one hell of a butler," the entire audience would break out in cheers. This response also happened every time something "funny" happened, to the point that you couldn't hear the dialogue. Ugh. As much as I love anime, I have to say, I hate anime fans! I left after the second episode, as I had no interest in listening to the creators and voice actors talk about the show. 

"The Changing Faces of Anime"
With moderator Join Evan Minto (of

This was a fun panel. Minto went through the history of character design in anime, all the way from Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy to today's American anime-style shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Minto narrated a slide show that went through character styles chronologically. The takeaway was that anime started out being influenced by Disney, and eventually came full circle to have American shows today highly influenced by anime.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Art Cake

I found this great collection of pop culture-themed cakes on Flavorpill today. One of them was just so great that I had to publish it here:

It's a Mondrian rainbow cookie! I really want to try making this myself...

Oh, and here's the full article:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Modest Mouse at Williamsburg Waterfront

Last night I went to see Modest Mouse play a show at the Williamsburg Waterfront here in Brooklyn. The show was originally scheduled for July, but three songs into their set that day, a massive lightning storm blew in and the NYC Parks Service cancelled the rest of the show. Luckily, Ticketmaster rescheduled for September 14. This ended up being better anyways, because it was sickeningly hot in July and the show started later. Last night, the temperature was a comfortable low-70s with a little breeze and the show began relatively early (doors at 5 p.m.), so I was able to get home and go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

As for the show itself, it was my favorite time I've seen them yet. The first time I saw Modest Mouse was summer 2003 as part of the free Siren Music Fest at Coney Island. I don't honestly remember that much about the show or what songs they played. The next time I saw them was at Irving Plaza in NYC about a year later, right before the album "Good News For People Who Love Bad News" was released. This was actually one of the best shows I'd ever seen at that point. As the new album was being promoted but not yet available for sale at the time, it was all new music to me. And they played so well that night! Everything was super tight and singer Isaac Brock was really on top of his game. Plus they played an encore that was almost as long as the set, so it turned out to be a pretty long show. When I finally bought the new album, I instantly recognized the songs they had played at the show, but it was actually almost a bit of a letdown because they'd sounded so good in person that the studio album paled in comparison. It stuck with me so much that I can still hear the live act in my head when I listen to the album today.

Last night's show was actually a bit of a departure from that Irving Plaza set I loved so much. I thought everything last night sounded much more loose. It wasn't messy, but it had an element of improvisation. All the songs sounded a bit off, a little more experimental than the album versions. It was also very loud, and the "big" parts of certain songs were played louder and louder. I wouldn't go so far as to call the show "epic," but it was pretty close. They had six musicians on stage and really took advantage of the instruments besides guitar, bass, and drums. An electric upright bass, banjo, pump organ, glockenspiel, accordion, and trumpet all made appearances throughout the night. I especially appreciated the trumpet, which was literally front and center on the stage, and stood out much more so than it does in the studio tracks. Also, the sound quality was surprisingly good for an outdoor show. Everything sounded very clean and you could pick out the details. As for the set list, they played a wide range of songs, a pretty even amount of stuff from all their full-length albums, plus a few appearances from some EP's. Since they don't currently have a new album to promote, I guess they had as much freedom in their song choices as they felt like taking.

I also need to point out how great I thought the lighting was. It being a rock show, there was of course fake smoke pumping out all night. But since it was so breezy, the smoke would immediately blow away if it wasn't constantly pouring out of the machines. This made it look like the band was playing in a storm--it was a really cool effect. Then you had a lot of backlighting, which made the bandmembers look like silhouettes in a cloud half the time. Bright colors were the lighting choice for most of the night, so the swirling smoke was colored, the silhouettes were colored, and the front of the stage would be another color. I saw tons of people taking sweet photos all around me, and it made me wish my cell phone took better shots (real cameras weren't allowed, natch). This added to the "epic" feeling I got from the whole shebang.

So, yeah, definitely my favorite Modest Mouse show I've seen to date. Here's the set list:

1. Gravity Rides Everything
2. Black Cadillacs
3. Satin in a Coffin
4. Here It Comes
5. Float On
6. Cowboy Dan
7. Dashboard
8. Blame It On The Tetons
9. King Rat
10. 3rd Planet
11. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
12. Bury Me With It
13. Autumn Beds
14. Here's to Now (Ugly Casanova cover)
15. The Whale Song
16. The View


17. Guilty Cocker Spaniels
18. Dramamine / Life Like Weeds
19. Baby Blue Sedan
20. Spitting Venom / I Came As A Rat
21. Alone Down There

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Is It About 20-Somethings?

I just finished reading this infuriating article on the NY Times website about 20-year-olds and how we all refuse to grow up (read it here: This is only one out of dozens of articles I've come across in the last couple years, and I'm really tired of reading the same thing over and over: I know, Baby Boomers are awesome and we 20-year-olds are lazy bums. Enough already! Rather than launch into a rambling, raving rant, though, I'm going to pick out some points from the Times that angered me the most and respond to them.

1. The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un­tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life.

My argument: As a 20-year-old who is competing for those jobs, this is an absolutely unfair assessment. I don't want an unpaid internship or grueling underpaid job, but oftentimes this is all that's being offered. I have a masters degree and more than four years of working experience, and yet I'm in a constant struggle to find a job that pays the bare minimum for survival. I just want enough to pay all my bills and put away 10% of my salary into savings. And I don't even have any student loan or credit card debt...but more on that later... And forget about benefits (health care? Who needs that?). In the course of my job search, I've seen dozens of job listings for unpaid internships and entry-level editorial assistant positions, only to discover, upon reading the full job description, that the duties required of the position go above and beyond what a reasonable person could construe as "intern" or "assistant" tasks. Knowing how desperate the competition is for jobs, particularly in this economy, employers know there will always be someone who will take these positions for little or no pay, simply because it's at least something. It's better to have an unpaid internship than a gap on your resume. A friend once explained to me that the reason there are no jobs for us young people is because the older generations, who should have retired by now, are still working. So no one's moving up in their current place of employment, and there's no space for anyone new to move in. So I blame this lack of real, long-term jobs among 20-year-olds on the people who destroyed the economy and now can't (or won't) retire to let the next generation in (and then of course those same people complain about how lazy we all are).

2. One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year.

Again, does the writer think we like moving every year? Moving is a big expensive hassle. Taxes go up, rents go up, but our salaries get cut or lost. Young people are constantly moving because we can't afford it when our rents are raised but our salaries are still dismally low. Sure, homeowners who lost their houses should be pitied and should receive help, but if we're young with no savings and crippling student loan debts, and we can't afford our rent, well then we're just lazy and immature.

3. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch.

Again, not something I want in my life. But when job after job has no benefits and doesn't pay enough to afford a visit to the doctor, how can people possibly be expected to stay there forever? Additionally, what's that old phrase--last hired, first fired? Well with layoffs happening everywhere, that leaves pretty poor prospects for those young people in their first job, huh?

4. Getting to what we would generally call adulthood is happening later than ever.

Well considering that "masters degrees are the new bachelors" (apparently), we're staying in school far longer than any generation in history. Again, it's not a choice that is being made by us, but for us, due to the dictates of the employment industry. At this rate, eventually we'll all be expected to have PhD's!

5. Is emerging adulthood a rich and varied period for self-discovery...Or is it just another term for self-indulgence?

So we're told during our childhoods that we should follow our dreams and that we can be anything we want--but once we grow up and actually try to pursue that dream career, we're scolded and told that we should have a long-term job, wife/husband, and babies all by the age of 30. But it's simply not that easy to find all that! There are massive obstacles in the way that are, at least to some degree, out of our hands. It's particularly difficult to "grow up" when one has been in college through the age of 23, followed by six figures of debt from attending said college, and bleak job prospects in a broken economy.

6. But the expectation that young men and women won’t quite be able to make ends meet on their own, and that parents should be the ones to help bridge the gap, places a terrible burden on parents who might be worrying about their own job security, trying to care for their aging parents or grieving as their retirement plans become more and more of a pipe dream.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but once again, the broken economy is not our fault! We're being punished because people two or three generations above us thought it would be a better idea to fulfill their own greedy ambitions at the expense of the entire country. So enough with the wailing about how we're a drain on society and our parents. And let's touch on the "being unable to make ends meet" just one last time--the reason we have trouble making ends meet is not because we're just lazy. There are millions of people all over the US having trouble making ends meet thanks to a bad economy, widespread unemployment, credit card debt, and more. Unemployment benefits have been extended to 93 weeks--nearly two years! And I'm not saying that those benefits should not last for that long, but why is it better for a 30-year-old to depend on the government than a 20-year-old to depend on her parents? What's the difference?? Both ages can't make ends meet for a variety of reasons, but no one's demonizing the 30-year-old.

Last thoughts: I certainly don't advocate goofing off and living off your parents until the age of 30. But there are lots of other factors at play beyond sheer immaturity that aren't allowing 20-year-olds to fully "grow up." This whole article, and the ideas it's espousing, are the same generation gaps that have always existed. Old and young resent each other. The battle wages on. But I, for one, am sick of reading about it, and am sick of being demonized as lazy and immature. And, for the record, despite my current lack of a full-time job, I work my butt off at two part-time freelance jobs, have not received benefits or health care (even when I held a full-time job) since 2007, and somehow manage to pay all my bills each month without the aid of my parents. I was forced to move a year ago due to raised rent, fear every day that I'll need a hospital trip that will bankrupt me for the rest of my life, and worry that I'll never be able to afford a wedding, a child, or a house.

So yeah, give me a job or get off my back. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review: I Don’t Care About Your Band

Full title -
I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I've Dated

I randomly stumbled upon this book while browsing in a bookstore. The cover was cute and the title really caught my eye. After getting it from the library, I finished it in two days. However, that’s not to say that I “couldn’t put it down.” Rather, I breezed through it so quickly because I constantly wanted to get on to the good parts. Unfortunately, though, there weren’t many of those. This book was nothing more than a big disappointment.

I expected “I Don’t Care About Your Band” to be composed of a funny chapter devoted to each crazy boy author Julie Klausner dated. But the complete picture was more of a personal ramble that never concretely nailed down the men. Based on the description on the back of the book, I also expected it to have a witty, sarcastic tone. But the self-deprecation in “I Don’t Care…” wasn’t funny. It reads like a case of low self-esteem. Klausner spends more time talking about her insecurities and why she dated such duds than she spends discussing the duds themselves. And it’s no wonder she dated such losers—she acts desperate, jumps into bed with any guy who’ll have her, and displays a complete lack of self-confidence. It’s infuriating when Klausner notes that this or that man was so much hotter than she—especially since the photo on the cover proves that she is, in fact, very pretty and thin. It made me think that the men weren’t so bad after all, if only because Klausner encouraged their behavior by being so desperate and pathetic.

Unfortunately, most of the men are not fully fleshed out, but rather woven into Klausner’s self-description rambles. I wanted them to be distinct characters at the center of their own tales, but they were actually pretty boring. Only a couple come off as being truly ridiculous; the rest are just mild jerks—but, again, why should they have been anything more when Klausner was such a doormat? Those titles on the cover—indie rocker, hipster, porn star, etc, give the men too much credit. Her beaus are so normal and boring that whittling their personalities down to cliché labels just doesn’t work.

Klausner herself also isn’t much more likeable than the men she dates. She makes a lot of offensive and misogynist statements, such as claiming that bisexual women are just horny but bisexual men are “actually gay men,” and that women don’t maintain female friendships without backstabbing and competing with each other (and, as such, all women should have a gay male best friend). She also makes a crack at one point about the Holocaust not being real. I’m sure she thinks she was being funny and sarcastic, but the statement comes out of nowhere and doesn’t belong. Aside from its inherent offensiveness (whether joking or not), it just doesn’t make sense in the context of the story.

The only parts that really intrigued me are when Klausner discusses pop culture relationships, including Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog, and Pam and Jim from the show “The Office.” Kermit is the sensitive eternal bachelor, a musician who never bothers to settle down while every step of the way leading Miss Piggy to think he will eventually do so. This part actually made me get mad at Kermit! I’ll never be able to look at The Muppets the same way again. Jim and Pam represent Klausner’s thesis that all men want a woman whom no one else knows is pretty, possibly the only original idea contained in this book.

To be fair, there are some laugh-out-loud funny lines in this book, but they were few and far between. If I wanted to read a book about one woman’s self-esteem issues, I’d hang out in the Self Help section at the bookstore, not Humor.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

fashion copyright

Really interesting presentation about fashion copyright. It's kinda long, but really worth watching. I found it through my favorite blog of the moment,

I had no idea that there are no copyrights for clothing in the U.S. So all those Chinatown knockoffs would be legal if only they stopped using the brands' logos on the fakes!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Movie Review: "Public Sex" (2009)


I watched the British movie "Public Sex" on the Sundance Channel last night. The US release really should have stuck with the UK title, "Dogging: A Love Story," because "Public Sex" is misleading. "Public Sex" does not focus on sex, rather it focuses on Dan, an unemployed journalist (HEYYY!) who wants to write an expose about "dogging"--the British practice of having sex in cars in a public space while others watch and sometimes participate.

Dan starts by simply researching dogging online, but soon his obnoxious room mate Rob brings Dan with him on a dogging excursion. Meanwhile, under the pseudonym "East of England Eight Inches," Dan strikes up a friendship with "Horny Geordie Lass," a person he meets in an online dogging forum. Horny Geordie turns out to be Laura, a pretty university student who explores the dogging scene to escape her overprotective father (though she never actually participates in the act herself).

Upon Dan's first trip to a parking lot with Rob and Rob's older girlfriend Sarah, Dan and Laura run into eachother without knowing that they've already met online under pseudonyms. The two of them awkwardly discuss dogging for a few minutes, and although Dan has a girlfriend, he invites Laura to meet again at a future dogging gathering. However, Dan ends up bringing his girlfriend Tanya to that gathering in order to "show her his research," but
she is disgusted once she realizes what's going on. What follows is one of the funnier scenes in the movie, in which Tanya escapes Dan's car only to follow an older man into his trailer, where he and his wife serve her tea and explain that dogging saved their marriage (and ask if she'd like to see photos of their grandchildren while the wife is wearing a dildo, natch).

Tanya then decides to give dogging a try with Dan, much to his horror. Despite his curiosity, Dan is in actuality totally grossed out by the scene, and the act of performing public sex while other people jerk off (onto his car window, no less) makes him horribly uncomfortable. Tanya, on the other hand, likes it so much that she later tells him if he won't do it with her, she'll find someone who will.

The rest of the movie follows Dan and Laura meeting a few times more, usually at dogging events, until the film culminates at a huge dogging weekend in the countryside. By now, Dan and Tanya have broken up and Laura, after learning that Jim is East of England Eight Inches and catching him with his (now ex-) girlfriend, has dragged along Jim, a classmate who has a crush on her, to the weekend event. Jim, too, is not interested in dogging, so Laura ends up wandering off on her own. She's picked up by a large group of older men and the situation starts to turn dark until Dan shows up and takes her away, finally bringing the two together for good.

The best parts of the movie are the moments when people's true colors finally show. The awkward meetings between Dan and Laura; Rob crying and begging when Sarah indicates she prefers dogging to Rob; Tanya enjoying dogging while Rob halfheartedly fights it. The characters are truly what drive the film, not sex. Though there are plenty of prurient moments in the movie, including
above-the-waist nudity and creepy sex scenes shot in night vision, those are nearly forgotten once you return to the main characters. However, I have to say that the love story itself is a bit convenient and cliche, so the dogging backdrop is what makes it different and interesting.

Despite the borderline weak story, I still really liked this film. There are lots of surprises and the characters all have depth. The story is sweet but still subtle, which presents a strong dichotomy against the stark and dirty dogging background.

Friday, June 11, 2010

vitamins for drunks

"drinkwel is the first multivitamin specifically formulated for people that drink alcohol."

WTF??? I mean, it's basically just a regular multivitamin with some trendy additions like superfruits and antioxidants, but seriously?? And would people who drink to excess really invest in new-agey vitamins?

This whole neutraceuticals thing has really gotten out of hand. Just eat real food, people! And practice moderation! It's really that simple.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Movie Review: "My Darling is a Foreigner"

Tonight, I scored free tickets to a Japanese movie called "My Darling is a Foreigner" at the Big Cinemas Manhattan (formerly the Imaginasian theatre). This was its American premiere, and was sponsored by All Nippon Air (ANA) and New York-Tokyo (NYT).

I've seen a lot of Japanese cinema, from Kurosawa classics to manga-inspired modern comedies. The manga-inspired modern comedies make up the bulk of the fare I get to see nowadays, though, largely because I get these free tickets from NYT on a regular basis. And as much as I love Japanese cinema, a lot of the modern flicks I see are silly to the extreme. The acting tends to either have a goofy, over-the-top quality (things like outrageous facial expressions responding to minor incidents, and a particular fake laugh that female characters always seem to do), or feels stiff and held back--even when someone is angry and the situation warrants animated acting, rarely does anyone raise his voice or yell. "My Darling is a Foreigner," then, came as a pleasant surprise. I expected it to be slapstick silly, and instead it was cute, touching, and, best of all, realistic.

"My Darling" is the story of the relationship between the Japanese Saori and her American boyfriend, Tony. Tony speaks perfect Japanese and is enamored with Japanese culture, though he doesn't always understand either the language or the culture. The young couple must navigate their relationship while dealing with the approval (or in many cases disapproval) from others who don't fully understand this Japanese-foreigner relationship.

Upon the wedding of Saori's sister, Saori and Tony each start thinking about where their relationship is headed too. At this very wedding, Tony meets Saori's parents for the first time. Tony had wanted to meet formally and follow Japanese custom, but Saori insisted it was no big deal. And at first it appears not to be. Saori's mother takes a quick liking to Tony, and the rest of the family immedately follows...except for Saori's father. He tells her that he cannot approve of her relationship with a foreigner. Saori opts not to tell this to Tony, and thus begins a troubled patch for their relationship. Saori soon becomes immersed in her work as a struggling manga writer, further pushing Tony away. Things come to a head when Tony disinvites Saori from a trip they had planned to the U.S. (where Saori was to meet his family for the first time).

So as to avoid spoilers, I won't describe any more of the plot. However, I will say that this movie had some of the best acting I've seen from a modern, young Japanese cast. Mao Inoue, who plays Saori, has large, expressive eyes, yet she doesn't fall back on sad puppy dog faces to express her character's feelings. Her shock at being disinvited from the trip is palpable through both her face and her stammering, and a scene of her crying upon Tony's leaving her behind is truly moving. (I'll be honest, I teared up a little--who can't relate to her feelings of sadness and disappointment??)

Jonathan Sherr, who plays Tony, is also great. He never rests on silliness even when asking Saori silly, amusing questions. He demonstrates a genuine curiosity and eagerness. Even the scenes that are downright goofy (such as Tony cleaning the house in Saori's apron with a hot pink duster) remain grounded in reality thanks to Sherr knowing just how far to take things.

"My Darling is a Foreigner" may be a romantic comedy, but it's still subtle, a rarity in this genre. The end of the movie does wrap up a little too neatly and abruptly, but the movie as a whole is touching without being saccarine.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that "My Darling" is playing on any sort of regular schedule at Big Cinemas Manhattan. This may be because this particular showing was part of the Nippon Eiga Series, which is sponsored by (and used as a marketing tool for) ANA, but maybe Big Cinemas will play it further once their current roster of films ends?

Also, anyone who likes Asian cinema should really sign up for NYT's emailing list. I get these free movie invites at least once a month. And the theatre just got swanky new seats courtesy of ANA. I don't know how or why I originally got onto this mailing list, but it is probably the most useful out of all the ones to which I subscribe (Urban Daddy, Flavorpill, 3rd Ward, Todd P, Thrillist...).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bacon Ice Cream!

For those of you not in the know, Shake Shack is something of a New York institution. It's a stand (or shack, if you will) that sells milkshakes (and burgers, fries, and frozen custard), and is known for its regular wait of an hour or more. It started with one location in Madison Square Park, and expanded not too long ago to an indoor spot on the Upper West Side, and more recently to Citi Field. There will also be two new openings this summer, according to the Shake Shack website. Though the UWS spot tends to have shorter lines (and it's open all year-round and you can feasibly eat there when it's raining), the Madison Square Park location is still king. Plus, after eating burgers at dozens of places in NY, I think Shake Shack's are the best in the city. But that's another story--the frozen custard is the focus today!
Shake Shack has a rotating roster of unexpected frozen custard flavors. You get a different one each day of the week, and the schedule changes each month. This month, flavors include such yummy-sounding fare as "milk & honey" (Thursday) and "carrot cake" (Sunday). I was there on a Saturday, for which the flavor was--ready for this?--"pancakes & bacon."


Skeptical as I was at first, I simply had to remind myself that I love bacon. I love it in drinks (the Spotted Pig's bloody Mary, made with bacon-infused vodka, is to die for), I love it in chocolate (try Vosges Haute Chocolate's dark chocolate bacon bar), and I certainly love it nestled next to a plate of pancakes at brunch--so why not as a custard flavor? I tried a sample of it before totally taking the plunge, and, much to my surprise, it actually tasted like pancakes and bacon! I don't know what kind of weird lab-grown chemicals went into the making of this stuff, but at that point I didn't care. I got a Concrete (custard blended with toppings of your choice), and kept it simple with chocolate fudge sauce mixed in (I said I love bacon with chocolate, didn't I?) and whipped cream on top. It was amazing. The sweet chocolate tempered the pancake and bacon flavor quite a bit, but you could still get a hint of bacon coming through, which is usually all you really need anyways.

I sat in the park eating my bacon custard and watching squirrels for a good half-hour, enjoying the fact that summer is finally almost upon us. (And it just wouldn't be a NY summer without a few more trips to the Shack to come!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Zenkichi Restaurant: If Only the Economy Weren’t Doing So Poorly, I would Eat Here Every Week

Tuesday night, the boyfriend and I attended the press-only opening party for Zenkichi restaurant, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was superb.

Zenkichi has actually been open since November 2006, so I’m not sure what last night’s festivities were supposed to be celebrating. In any case, the joint is classy. There is only a tiny, unassuming sign designating its location from outside. Rather, it looks like just a long, plain, wooden wall. Now, normally I’m anti-unlabeled establishments. I find the concept pretentious and unnecessarily highfalutin. But Zenkichi was so cool on the inside that I’ll forgive it this trespass.

There are three floors in the restaurant. The first floor is the “winter garden.” It’s full of bamboo stalks, stones on the floor, and a glass roof over which extends a leafy tree (outside). It definitely shoots for the “zen” look. There are also a few of their signature intimate booths in this area. The booths consist of tiny tables, for no more than three people (though two is really best), with dark wood paneling surrounding each and every little bungalow. It really allows for comfortable, private conversation. It also gives off a very romantic feel. This is the best date spot I’ve come across in some time.

The second floor had more of the bamboo stalks, plus many more private booths, all set up in a snaking maze of a layout. This, again, creates a deliciously intimate atmosphere. The third floor was roped off, but we took a peek, and found a banquet room, with what looked like more rooms cordoned off away from the staircase. I imagine it’d be a nice place for a special, relatively small celebration, like a milestone birthday or an engagement party.

As for the food, it goes way beyond sushi. In fact, they don’t serve sushi at all—rather, offerings consist of “Tokyo-style small plates.” Zenkichi also utilizes seasonal ingredients, so the menu changes every few months. The restaurant places highest emphasis on the “Omakase,” or chef’s tasting menu, which changes every five weeks, though individual items are available too.

Tuesday night, Zenkichi served a selection of cold items, warm ones, and dessert, as well as a lot of sake. My favorite cold item was the Sweet Duck Salad. I usually hate duck, but this dish was a definite exception. A thin piece of slightly sweet medium-rare duck was wrapped around a portion of shredded raw vegetables. I wouldn’t exactly call it a “salad,” because the duck was really the strongest flavor, but either way, it was flawless. The boyfriend’s favorite was the Maguro Carpaccio, which was actually pretty similar to the duck. A piece of raw tuna was wrapped around more shredded raw vegetables. Again, delicious.

As for the warm options, both of us adored the Pork Kakuni, a piece of seared pork belly so good that I don’t even remember what else was stuck on the toothpick with it. This salty little morsel practically melted in your mouth. Kind of a disturbing description considering that it’s a hunk of fat, but trust me when I say it is damn good. A close second was definitely the Saikyo Miso Black Cod, a piece of black cod in a really tasty marinade.

As for the sake offerings, we tasted four different kinds. I’m not usually a big sake person, but after last night, I think that’s only because I’ve never had any good sake before. My favorite was the unfiltered one, of which I don’t remember the specific name, but I could have sat there sipping it all night if not for the fact that I’m a total lightweight.

So final impression: Zenkichi is one of the rare restaurants in New York City that I think is worth its prices. The Omakase menu costs $48 per person, and that doesn’t include drinks; but even I, who have elevated scamming free food and drink to an art form, will be returning. And I recommend that next time any of you are in Williamsburg, and can afford it, you ought to do the same.

Zenkichi is located at 77 North 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Check out their website at for more information.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

France Part 2

It's another rainy day, so I managed to get back to the internet cafe.

Day 6:

We arrived in Normandy late last night and got dinner at the creperie. My galette was disappointing, though. There wasn't enough cheese, so it was kind of bland. Anyhoo, today we went to the market in the next town over, St-Valery-En-Caux. We picked up the most delicious melon I've ever had! It was so sweet and smelled so fragrant. We also purchased lots of veggies and cheese, including a heart of neufchatel, which I think is my new favorite. I'm going to bring some back to the U.S. because you can't buy it there, since it's made from raw (unpasteurized) milk, which is illegal in the U.S.

In the afternoon, I took a hike by myself along the top of the cliff, then down to the water to walk back at low tide. This is my favorite thing to do in Veules-Les-Roses. As it was low tide, you could peer into the tidepools, where I found tons of little sea anemones. The ones that weren't submerged in water closed themselves up into blobs, so it took me a while to figure out what the hell they were. At first, it looked like a colony of squishy (yes, I poked them) black blobs hanging under the larger cave-like rocks.

Day 7:

My mother had found a listing for a lumberjack festival in one of her tourist books, so we drove two hours to get there, only to discover that it was for the next day. My father and I sufficiently teased her for that mix-up. However, it afforded us a a stunning drive through the countryside, along which we saw lots of cows, a farm with miniature ponies, and a closeup view of the windmills that generate electricity around here.

That night, we had dinner in Quiberville, which is another small beach town in Normandy where my mom's cousin Cecile (and her husband Patrick) have a summer home. We ate at this little brasserie right on the beach, with a view of their cliffs. I had the best hamburger of my life there. First off, it was on this huge roll, about six inches in diameter, of delicious French bread. Then the meat itself was thin, but spread out to fill most of the bread, so it actually wasn't horribly filling since there was less meat than you'd think. Toppings included melted grated gruyere cheese, chopped onions, ripe tomatoes, and lettuce, topped off with an orangey, slightly spicy tomatoe-based sauce. So good.

Day 9:

My parents and I took a walk on the other side of the cliffs, and then kept going through all this farmland. We eventually reached this tiny little town (maybe a couple dozen houses total) called Manville-Es-Plais. We went into its old church, which had somewhat ugly modern stained glass, but when the sun shone, it reflected all these bright colors onto the floor. It was beautiful, like being inside a kaleidoscope. On the way back, we took a different route, where we found a whole herd of Normand cows. These cows are used for their milk, to make cheese. They're brown and white speckled and typical of this area. This particular herd was friendly, all coming over to the fence when we stopped to look at them. I fed them grass for a while and tried to pet them, but they were nervous and backed away anytime I reached my hand out without grass in it.

This day was also the Grande Marée in Veules-Les-Roses, which is the day with the lowest tide of the entire year. At high tide, this beach is covered in medium-sized rocks, which are really painful and difficult to walk on. At low tide, though, a huge sandbar is exposed. And during the Grande Marée, the sandbar stretches for what looked like a third of a mile or so. It's incredible. I took a walk on the sand at night, and then stood in the water, letting it rise higher and higher up my legs as the tide slowly came in. It was, for lack of a better word, magical.

Dat 10:

My parents and I took a drive to a town called Giverny, to go to Monet's house. It was awsome! Because it's the end of the season and it was rainy, there weren't that many people. You could walk through the house quite easily, which was decorated in exactly the way Monet had it, right down to the placement of his collection of Japanese Ukiyo-E prints (of which there were dozens) on the walls. There were even photos on display of him standing in the rooms, so you could see how closely the decor matched up. His gardens (yes, the ones in which he used to paint) were also open, including the pond that provided the imagery for his iconic Japanese Bridge and Water Lillies paintings. I was in heaven. Monet is my favorite of the "old masters," and I really, really, really love his work. Standing on his very bridge, looking at the same water lilly plants he used to paint...I don't even know how to describe the feeling. It was practically an out-of-body experience.

In the afternoon, we went to Rouen, which is the old city that houses the cathedral Monet also used to paint. It rained the rest of the day, so we just did some shopping and headed back. We had planned to go to the creperie again, but when we got there, it was closed (even though its door says it's only closed on Wednesday). Then we realized that everything in all of Veules was closed. French people usually go on vacation for the whole month of August, and most of the "residents" of Veules are actually French vacationers. so once they leave on August 31, everything immediately shuts down. It was almost eerie to walk the streets with so many lights off and shutters closed. Also, it was 8 o'clock by now, and we were really hungry, with literally no food we could to cook ourselves. So we drove back to St-Valery-En-Caux, and luckily there were a few restaurants open. We actually ended up having a really good seafood meal, too. I had this dish with muscles, salmon, cod, and sole all on the same plate in an orange cream sauce. The sauce was so delicious, especially on the salmon, and I was really happy to get some fish in me (I am on the coast, after all).

Day 11:


The high tide today is ridiculous. It goes all the way up the cliff, whereas normally there's at least 15 feet of distance between the water's edge and the cliff face. Also, the raised dock that sticks out into the water is usually too high to jump off, but now the water level is only about five feet down. I guess this is the fallout from the Grande Marée. I've never seen it like this in Veules before, though, so it's pretty cool. If only it were a bit warmer, I could go swimming. But even with the sun out, it's freeeeeezing here!

Two more days to go in Normandy, then one day in Paris before returning to the U.S. Then you can expect lots of photos (I've taken 364 so far! Only 91 left!).

Monday, September 1, 2008

France Trip Part 1

I am in France, attempting to update this from an internet cafe, but the keyboard's letters are in different places than on an American keyboard, and I only have 45 minutes until the cafe closes for lunch (everything in France except the occasional restaurant closes for two hours at noon), so this may get cut short before I finish. In the interest of time, I'm only going to write about the days I actually did stuff.

Ok, let's get started...

Day 1: Arrival

I flew AirIndia because it was the cheapest flight I could get. The plane was kind of stinky and there were three babies around me. It was not the best flight I've ever been on. On the plus side, the in-flight meal consisted of chicken curry. Not bad. I arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport pretty much on time, met my parents (they flew on an earlier flight from Syracuse), picked up the rental car, and immediately set off for Basel, Switzerland.

Here are my initial impressions of Basel: The thing that struck me the most is that nobody locks up their bikes. Everyone rides a bike, and there are tons of bicycles parked everywhere, but none of them are locked up! Some would have locks connecting the front wheel to the frame, but then not locked to anything, just parked on the sidewalk. And many weren't locked at all. I was shocked. I guess people there don't have to worry about their bikes getting stolen. It makes me jealous. That would never fly in NY.

So other things I noticed: There is public art everywhere. There was a statue on practically every street corner, some modern and some classical. There were also these printed sheets of sheer fabric suspended between the buildings on narrow streets. I don't know if that's a usual thing or a specific festival, because there was no information about it anywhere, but it was really cool nonetheless. I also stumbled upon a random Richard Serra piece near a fountain in the center of the city. The other thing that was everywhere was graffiti. It was even on old, beautiful buildings and a lot of the statues, which I was not a fan of. As much as I like (good) graffiti, there's a code graf writers are supposed to follow, which is no doing it on historical buildings, art, or people's houses.

Day 3:

We went to the culture museum in the morning, which was having an exhibit on the color red, and how it ties into every facet of human culture (life, death, religion, etc), in all different cultures across the world. It was an absolutely riveting exhibition and was exceedingly well done. Every theme got its own separate room, which was then filled with red artifacts that ranged from traditional art such as paintings, to objects such as clothing and even a red Ferrari. Red was also used throughout each room just in the set-up alone. The black cubes that small items sat on, for example, were surrounded by a border of red light on the floor. In addition, every object was numbered, and every museum visitor was given a booklet that explained all the items in great depth. You would need hours and hours to read every description, but as it was, my parents and I had a 2 o'clock appointment to ride a boat around the city, so we gave up on reading everything after an hour and a half or so. Even without reading everything, though, the pieces on display were still incredible. Plus you get to keep the book, so you can finish reading everything any time you want.

So next we had lunch and went on a boat ride similar to NY's Circle Line tours. It took us up and down the Rhine, with an announcer explaining things in German (and English, thankfully). The northern end of the river was the historical area, with lots of beautiful old buildings overlooking the river, and the south was the really ugly industrial area. At the south end, though, were more swans in one place than I've ever seen in my life. There were dozens hanging around the riverbeds.

Day 4:

Drove back to France, to the Burgundy region. We arrived in Avallon, a tiny and adorable Medieval town surrounded by ramparts. We wandered around the town in the morning, then went to a castle in Chatellux in the afternoon. This castle has been owned by the same family since the 1300s. The owners during the French Revolution actually had to leave France to avoid being killed. The current owner gave a small tour. The guy was a wee bit grumpy (how French) and he said he's a member of the "Legitimiste" political party, which means he thinks the monarch should be reinstated. Mmmkay. He gave a tour of just a few rooms on the first floor. The two best rooms were the salon and the library. The salon had paintings of the men of the family throughout the centuries. The paintings themselves weren't in particularly good shape, but the stories about them were great. These men spent time with royalty, and one of the later ones was friends with George Washington.

Day 5:

We went to Vezelay, another medieval town surrounded by ramparts and a stunning view of the countryside. The town's cathedral was really nice. It was smallish, but had an usual amount of light. Usually, gothic cathedrals are dark and somewhat foreboding inside, but this one was quite pleasant. Apparently, it was designed so that on the longest summer day of the year, the light coming in the windows projects a specific pattern onto the floor. In Vezelay, my parents and I also stumbled upon the town cemetery, which had an additional section that contained older headstones, from the early 1800s. The old section isn't really being taken care of anymore, so a lot of the stones were crumbling and overgrown with grass and weeds. It was really neat.

After Vezelay, we stopped at these prehistoric caves in Arcy-Sur-Cure that have cave paintings from approximately 24-28,000 years ago. They're the second oldest cave paitings in the world. The cave formations themselves were absolutely incredible as well. I felt like I was walking through the "Caves" episode of "Planet Earth." And we were allowed to get surprisingly close to the cave paintings, of which there aren't that many, because in the 40s people went down there with oil lamps and got soot all over the walls. Then when they tried to clean off the soot, they destroyed 80% of the paintings. But the ones that are left consist of mammoths and prehistoric rhinos. Farther away from the main paintings was an additional small one, of a hand outlined by red. This was the one that struck me the most. It's near the ground, and is very small, so odds are it was a child who made it. It was really incredible. I could picture my own hand over top of it.

After the caves, we headed to Veules-Les-Roses in Normandy, where I've spent the last three days. But that will have to wait, because I am out of time. The cafe's about to close!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

David Byrne is THE MAN

Has everyone seen this? Apparently the city of New York was holding a contest for new bike rack designs. (You can see the finalists here.) So David Byrne was slated to be one of the judges, and he randomly started doodling his own bike rack designs one day, showed them to the committee, and they told him he could have them built and put up! No questions asked, no red tape, they just let him go to work! Crazy! They went up at the end of July. You can see photos of the new racks on Gothamist and the original Byrne doodles on his blog.

They're not the most functionally-shaped bike racks I've ever seen, but they are designed per their appropriate neighborhoods. Also, if we're going to have bike racks that can only accommodate one bicycle at a time (as most of the proposed designs do), then they might as well be attractive. The racks will only be up for a year and then will be sold as art pieces. I can't wait for them to get all grimy with stickers and dents and old locks chained to them. Somebody remind me to go take photos of them a year from now.

P.S. Here is the "hipster" rack from my very own neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn:


(Photo courtesy NYCDOT)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

couture BLAH

Living in New York City, I see "fashion" everywhere I go. I used to be somewhat into it, because it is no doubt a form of art. However, since there's not exactly an abundance of nice magazine shops or newsstands in Syracuse (much less Binghamton), the most exposure I ever got prior to moving here was the pages of "Marie Claire," "InStyle," and their ilk.

Since moving to NYC, and since commencing my attempt to work in the field of magazines myself, I've read a lot more "serious" fashion rags. In addition, I see actual stores selling the stuff from the pages of those magazines, occasionally get to see pieces in action during NY Fashion Week, and probably see women wearing the stuff on the streets regularly without even realizing it. However, the dire seriousness with which these upscale magazines treat fashion really unnerves me. It's gotten to the point that I no longer pick up fashion magazines at all, not even the ones whose photography I really like, because I can't stand sludging through all the pretentious, snobby articles, especially the ones demanding that I buy the season's new "it" item--every damn season! How are these items "must-have" if I only must have them for three months??

The fashion industry is racist, sizeist, and elitist. How does clothing, of all things, command such respect? Why do people (allegedly) quake in their boots when Anna Wintour enters a room? How do designers justify charging hundreds of dollars for a plain white tee (and why do people pay it!)? How can any industry that considers Rachel Zoe a celebrity (much less an asset) be taken seriously?

Ok, enough with the ranting. The point is, some part of me still likes the idea of fashion as art, which is why the Metropolitan Museum of Art's fashion gallery is always the section I hit up first when I get there. Currently, the Met is exhibiting "Superheroes: Fashion And Fantasy." Now, being the comic-obsessed little nerd that I am, I thought, Comic books and fashion together? Awsome!

But man, was this exhibit disappointing. It's not the exhibit itself that disappointed me, though. On the contrary, I thought the setup was fantastic. They had costumes from the original Super Man movie (!), Batman Returns, Batman: The Dark Knight, the original Wonder Woman tv show (again, !), and others. Then there were couture pieces from the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Gianni Versace, and John Galliano that were "influenced" by the superhero costumes.

Here's the thing that bugged me: The couture pieces less "referenced" the superheroes, and more blatantly ripped them off! To be truthful, some weren't that bad. The couture pieces related to the X-Men were not obvious homages. The superhero used as example was the movie version of Mystique (Rebecca Romijn's blue, scaly character), while the designer pieces included feathers, metal, and rubber. The centerpiece was a technicolor feathered mermaid dress with a gold metal plate over the stomach. Likewise, the costumes that were related to Ghost Rider and The Punisher included dark, almost violent imagery, such as this cheeky motorcycle-themed ensemble:

The Superman, Batman, Catwoman, and Wonder Woman costumes, however, were not the least bit original. Check this out:

This is a piece from Rossella Jardini for Moschino. Changing Superman's S into an M does not make this an original idea! I see the parallels between Superman and branding, but this is a too-obvious way of pointing it out. How much thought really went into this? It's exactly the same as Superman, right down the the Clark Kent eyeglasses and the little spitcurl in the center of his forehead.

Here are Wonder Woman and Batman/Catwoman:

The Batman and Catwoman "references" bothered me the most. They were the least original pieces of clothing there. Add ears to the costume above and it would be Batman. Some of the couture pieces actually included bat-shaped harlequin masks. Catwoman was just as bad. Take Michelle Pfeiffer's "Batman Returns" costume, erase the white stitches, and you'll have the couture pieces. This all seems very lazy. And practically illegal. What about copyright? Why is it acceptable for high-end designers to rip off pop culture icons, but shops in Chinatown get raided for selling counterfeit handbags and Forver 21 gets sued for making cheap knock-offs?

Now I can add "hypocritical" and "unoriginal" to my list of angry adjectives above. The more of the fashion world I'm exposed to, the more I disdain it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

so stylish...

Remember that entry I wrote about the NY Tattoo Convention? I mentioned that someone from a Japanese fashion website stopped me in the subway that day to take my picture, but when I went to the site, it was all in Japanese so I couldn't find my photo. Well Dave Wallin from Tattoo Culture (he did my back piece) happened to find this here blog, and apparently he reads Japanese well enough to find THIS for me. Sweet! I'm the biggest photo and I'm at the top of the page! And just in case that link ever stops working, here is the specific photo:

I bought the dress on eBay. It's handmade from one of my favorite eBay stores, Lynn's Rags. The skirt portion is from a vintage dress, with new spandex fabric for the top. I added the strap around the neck so that it actually stays up (plus I need to be able to wear proper undergarments). I love this dress! I should go thrifting for funky old dresses so that I can make these myself.