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Blurred Lines

So, the couple of songs I can’t stop car dancing to this summer are Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke) and Get Lucky (Daft Punk)–oh, and Treasure (Bruno Mars).  Because they all sound like Chic and Michael Jackson had a baby, and that baby makes me want to bounce.

If you keep up with such things, you know that Blurred Lines has created a controversy.  Several have accused the song of having rape-y lyrics, and the video has outraged a good many as objectifying women.  While I don’t find the lyrics at all rape-y, I find the video so blatantly try-hard that I can’t do much more than roll my eyes at it.

Here’s the thing:  Yes, the video clearly objectifies women, if only because you could replace the women with inflatible dolls and get the same result.  But the video so clearly objectifies women that it comes all the way back around to being not about women at all.  It’s not even sexy.  It’s…dumb.  Dumb in that it is so contrived that it doesn’t speak to anything at all.  Why spend your anger on it when there are so many other truly vile videos out there?

Robin Thicke would like you to believe that his song is empowering to women, and that it is a feminist movement of its own because he tells the woman he addresses in the lyrics, “That man is not your maker.”  God bless him.  I’ll bet he thinks telling the oppressed, “You should not be oppressed,” is a revolution.  I feel like his feminist movement is on par with the Chick-Fil-A cows’ Eat Mor Chiken campaign.  Why spend your anger on him when there are so many truly vile musicians out there?

I’m not giving Thicke a free pass by any means.  He’s that slick, good looking guy who has always gotten the girl, who tells the girls he can’t get that he didn’t really want them anyway.  He’s kind of a hack, but a hack with enough talent that you can overlook him–notice I didn’t say forgive him.  He’s not even worth forgiving.  He’s barely worth noticing.  He’s not harmless because he cannot harm.  He’s harmless because he’s gormless. 

Let’s be more offended by Justin Timberlake’s song Mirrors–because he only thinks his woman is worthwhile because she reflects him back to himself, and oh holy hell is THAT not offensive?!  “I love you because there is not enough of you to cast a shadow on the awesomeness that is me.”  “I love you because you are blank.”  “I love you because you exist only within the confines of how great you make me feel about myself.”  Those are some messages girls could do without.

But pop music isn’t supposed to be serious.  That’s why there is a market for Mumford & Sons and Ed Sheerhan.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a good dance beat is just a good dance beat.

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Ode to Boy

I had Algebra II on the second floor of my high school, junior year. Every day, on my way up the stairs to that class, I would end up behind this beautiful boy. He was a senior, on his way to another class. I didn’t know his name, didn’t figure I’d ever meet him, but had a huge crush.

I wrote poetry about him.

One day, he stopped on the stairs in the middle of the class change rush, turned and looked at me. He pointed at me, and he said, “YOU are beautiful,” then he turned back around and ran on to his class. It was the most extraordinary John Hughes moment of my high school career.

Later in the year, I passed by him in the hall after school. He was sitting outside the counselor’s office playing with a ouija board. He spoke to me, called me by name, and I laughed and rushed away because I was too afraid to talk to him. Anyway, he was graduating.

I spent too much of Algebra II reading Elf Quest comics, Clan of the Cave Bear novels, and skipping school, and ended up retaking it in summer school. The second most extraordinarily John Hughes moment of my high school career was when that beautiful boy appeared in the doorway of my summer school class. Time stood still. He spotted me. He grinned. He made a beeline to the empty desk next to mine. He told me his name was Robert, he asked me out to a movie, and we spent the rest of that summer dating, drawing Bill the Cat cartoons for each other, and driving around listening to cds–he got Big Thing for me.

He was obviously gay, and gayly obvious, but we pretended he wasn’t and that closed-mouth kissing was what it was all about because his parents wanted him to be straight, and he was trying to wish away the gay. He was also broken, and self-loathing, and self-destructive, and I let him slip purposefully away as I entered my senior year. I am, and have always been helpful to a point. He was way beyond my point.

I wouldn’t see much of him again until one night, when I was waiting on line to get into a gay bar to see another of my boyfriends (that one wasn’t gay. he was bi.) I was standing there with a friend, and I heard a laugh. I craned to see around the line in front of me, and there he was. I called, “Robert!” And he turned around and screamed. And then we were inseparable for the next six months.

He would come over to my apartment and sleep. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent just sitting on the floor in my living room. He would brush my hair and tell me about his world–his sad, sad world.

By then he was taking drugs–lots of them. Anything he could get his hands on. He scared me with his suicide threats, and his temper, and I told him he couldn’t come over anymore.

After that, he would disappear and pop up in my life at the strangest moments. Every couple of years, I’d hear from him. Sometimes at 3 in the morning, calling as he was coming down, or at noon, calling me at work because he’d gotten hold of my number somehow.

The last time I heard from him was just after Thor was born. I couldn’t talk when he called, and promised to call him back. He never returned my calls after that, and I didn’t hear anything about him until today.

That sweet, beautiful boy took his own life on Tuesday. The where and the how don’t surprise me at all. He’d planned the where and the how back when we were 17 years old, and told me all about it. I’m amazed that he was able to fight his demons back for this long.

There are things that had happened to him that took away chances. I won’t write about them because they aren’t my story to tell, and if he’d wanted everyone to know, he’d have made it plainer. But there are lives that are broken before they even get started, and I am amazed at the strength and bravery it took for him to live as long as he did.

He was a beautiful, beautiful boy, with a big heart, who was kind and generous (unless the waiter at Olive Garden flirted with you instead, then he could get kind of bitchy.) I loved him. I couldn’t help him. I’m not sure the best therapy in the world could have undone what had been done to him.

I hope he has found peace. I hope he is at rest.

In honor of him, I give you the song that was “our” song. I hope it makes you smile as much as it did the two of us.

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Product Reviews: Facing the Sun

I asked for recommendations on tinted moisturizers/BB creams with SPF factors last month, and got in a slew of great suggestions.  I love when people love their products, and have something that works well for them!  It’s like me with my Urban Decay eyeliner.  I. Love. It.

What I needed was a tinted moisturizer that would help block the sun from my face, give me a little color, but let my skin breathe.  I hate foundation, and I hate feeling oily, so I usually stick to powder, but I’m facing the fact that at 42, my skin needs a little extra something.

Cosmetics are relative, though.  What works for my skin might make you break out, dry up, or both at the same time.  I tried a few different BB creams, and have finally settled on one.  I’ll tell you what I tried.

1.  Garnier  Several people said they loved this one.  It does not work for me at all.  As far as coverage goes, it is great, but my face feels disgusting.  The cream is thick and heavy, leaves a tacky feeling, and my face felt like it was suffocating.  Does not work in the Texas heat.

2.  Mary Kay  Better, but still not quite right for me.  Coverage is excellent, and it’s a nice, soft finish.  It’s still a little heavy, and it made me break out near my hairline.

3.  Almay  So this one is exactly the right weight, but the color is terrible.  The coverage is good, the finish is fine, my skin felt terrific in it…but I am not gray.

4.  Covergirl  This is it.  Good color.  Good coverage.  Great finish.  My skin could breathe.  I did break out at my hairline, but not terribly.  Also, the price is right.  I’m a covergirl girl!  (I shouldn’t brag about that, should I?)

None of the creams did exactly what I wanted, and I did still have to powder them to get the matte look I prefer, but for the value, I couldn’t beat the covergirl for a tinted moisturizer with an SPF factor.

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Watch This Space

After 2.5 weeks of what amounts to full press work for me, I am back to my natural state of needing a nap.  Granted, for those 2.5 weeks I was only getting about 2 hours of sleep each night, and was burning the brain candle down to nothing.  But that’s me.  I have two speeds: Full on, and needing a nap. 

Because I need a nap, instead of writing anything new, I’ve been going back over things written in 2008.  You know what I love?  I love when I can pick something up, having forgotten it was written in the first place, and get lost in the story, get tickled by the storytelling, and find myself tearing up or laughing in the right places.  I love when enough time has passed that I can read like a Reader, and not The Writer.  I’m a hard sell, and I’m a harder sell when it’s my own work–just ask poor, long-suffering Nicole about that one–so that feels really good.  I love when characters resonate and stand up to a 5 year lull in the conversation.

I do forget a lot of what I write.  Once it’s from my brain to my fingers, it’s gone.  This is why I have to keep actual notes of character names, ages, and little relationship trees so that I don’t have to go back through a document trying to find out what Lloyd’s last name was, or if Sparky was married to Bubba or Nimrod.  Or spelling, I have to keep notes about how names are spelled.

Anyway, you won’t see as many posts from me for a while because I’m working on submissions.  I will keep you posted.  Watch this space.

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Doing My Part to Keep Austin Weird

I took my mother to Austin for the weekend, where we got to visit family and have some fun.  For something different, we stayed at a B&B.  B&Bs can be pretty hit or miss, if you ask me.  I love the feel of an old house, with a wide porch, and comfortable, home-y furniture, and I like being able to explore the unrented rooms when everyone else is asleep. 

Me, Mom, Aunt B, and Cousin J on the porch.  It was a great porch!
Me, Mom, Aunt B, and Cousin J on the porch. It was a great porch!

We stayed at the Star of Texas Inn.  The location was fantastic, and the staff was wonderful.  As B&Bs go, for the price it was very good.  Breakfasts were very good.  The room itself was all right.  The bathtub was like heaven.

The upstairs window in the middle was the door to our bathroom, and the window on the far left was the window of the bedroom, where we stayed. Another couple was in the room behind the window on the right.

I loved the balcony and the porch, and the dining and sitting areas were quite nice.  I did not love that in the middle of the night, both nights, another guest of the place got up and turned on the heater.  The heater.  In the middle of June, in Austin, Texas, someone was turning the heat on, and cranking it into the high 80s. 

We were pretty miserable Friday night, but I figured out the problem on Saturday, and I waged temperature wars with the Heat Miser that night and won.  Just call me Ms. Freeze.

We hit our usual hotspots of the Austin Childrens Museum (which Thor has nearly outgrown, sadly), and the Barton Springs mall, where we saw Monsters University.  And we tried some new-to-us local eateries.  I can recommend the Kerbey Lane Cafe for good food (with grudging service), and can tell you to avoid Mandola’s Italian Market, unless you just like to have your caprese salad served to you on the wrong side of lukewarm, sliding around in oil.  That was pretty gross.

I love Austin.  I think it is one of the best cities in the US, and is certainly the best city in Texas.