Monday, May 18, 2009

Two-Fact Review of Angels and Demons

1)When the usher announced the total run time of the movie, everyone groaned.

2)When Stellan Skarsgard was talking about why a mysterious sect was trying to murder the papal candidates, my thought was, “Hey we have the same kind of paper cups in our office.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Why did I ever stop shopping at secondhand stores for clothes?

I survived on thrift stores for a long time. By the time I was 20, at least half of the items in my closet and most of my favorites were from secondhand stores. I may have depended on them too heavily: I think ideally one should have 20 - 30% secondhand stuff, only because inevitably the secondhand stuff I come home with tends to be a bit on the outlandish side and you have to mix the outlandish with more conventional basics to really set them off.

This is what I realized I missed about second hand shopping: it is to retail store shopping as hand-to-hand combat is to machine gun warfare. There is no other size or different color. You have to understand fabrics. 100% polyester will smell like someone's armpits and if not, it will smell like your own soon enough. 50-50 poly cotton blend t-shirts, on the other hand, will be thin and soft and hang great. Not everything has tags, so you have to be able to feel the difference between fabrics. Acetate lining or silk lining? It matters. Sometimes the store smells bad. But if you walk out with a Hill Street Blues shirt that strangers then ask to buy off you about once every year, it's worth it. You will never find good jeans (so don't waste time looking). You should be able to tell the difference between good cutting and shitty cutting, hopefully without trying it on. Sometimes the best finds are in the scarf section and the belt section. It can help your retail shopping too: one look at the state of the 100% cotton sweaters and you will never buy one new again.

Also, these clothes have history. Some people are creeped out by the idea of dead people's clothes, but I like to think of the people who wore the clothes before, what they did in them, if they loved that sweater or jacket as much as I do.

Permit me a brief philosophical sidebar to say: I love clothes so much. I love how they make people look different, how they make people move differently and feel differently about themselves. I love color and texture and putting things together that shouldn't go but do. It's possible this is a result of a couple of years of wearing uniforms for school and work, but I love waking up and deciding how I feel and dressing towards that. Because then I get to wear how I feel all day. I loved that speech in Devil Wears Prada where Nigel says:

Don't you know that you are working at the place that published some of the greatest artists of the century? Halston, Lagerfeld, de la Renta. And what they did, what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it.

When I started realizing how often I moved house, I began taking pictures of my bedroom before packing, to remember. I also take pictures of my closet, to remember the clothes I had at that point in my life. I love seeing the closet of a close friend for the first time: all those garments that you know from knowing that person hanging there.

To that end, a huge Goodwill opened down the street last weekend. The suede coat with the fur collar (recycled fur is okay, right?) was $10. The blazer was $6. The moment of trying both of these things on was the best possible moment of thrift store shopping: finding something interesting and gorgeous and well-made and trying it on, having it fit perfectly and know it's now become of part of you.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Difficulties of Everyday Life

In the last few weeks, I have fixed two things that weren't broken and broken them in the fixing.

One was the shower drain. I felt very pious, from a housekeeping point of view, cleaning the bottom of the shower and pulling the drain cover out and cleaning all the weird guck that was clotted around there. I'm sorry if this information disgusts you, unless you are a stranger that stumbled upon this randomly, you should know that I'm sorta into gross things. Anyway, turns out that guck was the thing that was preventing hair from getting washed down the drain, so now it's going down the drain and forming yet another big scary clot instead of piling up nicely on the drain cover for me to whisk away. When I was a little kid, my mom and I had some serious battles over hair-brushing. Once when we driving over the Lion's Gate bridge we were discussing the fact that it was a suspension bridge and my mom said that she bet if they got enough of my hair, it would be stronger than the metal cables that held the bridge up in the same way that spider webs, if you had enough of them, would be stronger than steel. Sorry, shower drain, here we go again.

The second thing was I washed my car and decided to be very thorough and clean all the dirty metal that you see when the doors are open. It was very dirty and really satisfying to clean. Then I got into my car to park it back in the driveway and the car started dinging like the driver's door was open, but it wasn't. That was two weeks ago. Despite a lot of research and experimenting, I haven't figured out how to fix it. If I could notch filter that shit, I would. Mechanic will be next week when my boss is out of town, but until now, here's what I've been doing:

New Pornographers, especially Mass Romantic. Great wall-to-wall sound
Spoon, GaGaGaGaGa
The Riff Randells have been pretty good
Stephen Malkmus has been okay, some songs not so much
David Bryne has been perfect
White Stripes, Icky Thump has worked pretty well
I'll bet more recent U2 would work well, but I haven't tried it yet
Cat Stevens: not at all.

Thanks Thom Holman for the lesson about masking a quieter sound with a louder sound.


So, lest life get too boring and staid, I have set up a grocery store rule for myself. Basically I always buy the same things at the grocery store and therefore I always eat the same things and it gets pretty dull. But there are lots of things out there to dine on and why should I always get the same kind of yogurt? Why? Because I really really like it? Stupid reason.

So the rule is: go to the grocery store and don't buy anything that I have ever bought before. Technicality is the key here. Sure, I've bought 2% milk before, but not the 2 litre (or whatever, I still think of everything in metric, by the way, vive le Canada) from Trader Joe's. This seems like kind of an easy rule, but then you get to the grocery store and stand in front of all the milk and it's a little challenging.

Findings: skim milk is gross, who would live their life like that? The olives with jalapenos are great, of course. It's hard to find vegetables that I don't usually get. Mini heirloom tomatoes! Genius! And snap peas. The second week of this rule is harder than the first. And I have a lot of food in my cupboards already. Before this phase, I was trying to buy as little food as possible so I'd eat the food I already have. Turns out it's pretty uninteresting. I'll save it for the apocalypse. (Yes, I am trying to reference the apocalypse as often as 30 Rock has been mentioning farts lately -- so about once an episode)

On Monday when I discovered a new kind of trail mix that is peanuts and almonds and golden raisins and wasabi peas (spectacular, I recommend) the cashier man and I had a chat. I told him about my rule-based buying. He told me that the first time he had wasabi, he thought it was guacamole and took an enormous scoop and suffered much.