Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dan Brown Plot-o-Matic, Breezy Dress Update, Lingering Lit Mag Idea

I’m not sure why Dan Brown has loomed so large on my blog of late, but so it goes. I got a little flack on Facebook last week for admitting to reading his novels, which has left me feeling a bit defensive on his behalf. I personally don’t care what anyone thinks of my literary taste, but Dan Brown does not get enough credit for the hypnotically predictable genius of his plots. And to prove it, I have created The Dan Brown Plot-o-Matic(Feel free to use it to write your very own Dan Brown novel).

A Terrible Murder takes place in:

The Pentagon
The Louvre
The Vatican
The Sydney Opera House

Subsequently, Robert Langdon is interrupted from a:

Deep Sleep
Tropical Vacation
Lecture on Symbology
Shiatsu Massage

by a frantic phone call from the head of:

Misc. made-up alphabet agency (create your own!)

He is immediately rushed by helicopter to the nearest airport, where he is hustled onto a private plane headed to:

The Vatican
Washington DC

Upon landing on the tarmac, he is introduced to a slim, sexy, stunningly beautiful:

Art Historian

Immediately after meeting, they are attacked by:

Foreign Agents Working for the Deep State
Masked Cultists
The Psychopath Villain’s Henchmen

They flee on foot, cleverly eluding their attackers and eventually solving the mystery of:

The Stolen Rembrandt
The Ancient Cypher
The Murdered Pope
The Deadly Pathogen

I’m telling you, he’s brilliant. The beatific interchangeability of his novels is incredibly soothing to me. Now kindly leave me to enjoy them in peace.

I’m still on a mission to find a Breezy Dress for this upcoming work event. Today I scoured my neighborhood’s numerous consignment shops, on the prowl for the Garment of Perfection, which of course I did not find because it does not exist. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not a breezy-dress kind of girl. If I wear anything other than pants, it’s usually a Victorian-length velvet skirt with knee-high boots and an oversized shawl/blouse combo. Beachwear and resort dresses are just not in my DNA. I so want to be the casual, sand-in-her-hair, tousled blonde I keep seeing in all of the dress ads that have now colonized my web browser, but I think it’s time to face the cold, hard facts: I would look ridiculous in a Breezy Dress. I’m a pale, sun-allergic red-head, and whatever fantasies I harbor about transforming into a tanned island-hopper are never going to come to fruition.

Another fantasy I’ve been harboring for a while is the idea of starting my own online literary magazine. But I’ve been too unfocused in terms of theme, type, etc. I have a lot of ideas and it’s been hard to settle on one. But the afore-mentioned Dan Brown-related Facebook exchange has inspired me, and a little seedling of an idea took hold and won’t let go. It would be a huge undertaking and require a lot of planning, but I think I may be ready to make it a reality sooner than later. More to come…in the meantime, in honor of my island-hopping dreams, enjoy this silly video from College Humor:

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Trashy Memoirs and Other Petty Amusements

I’m currently reading the deliciously trashy memoir “How to Murder Your Life” by Cat Marnell, which is the literary equivalent of a bowl of potato chips. I’m not saying this because I am in any way a book snob, (I read Dan Brown, for Christ’s Sake,) but it’s not normally the kind of book that would interest me. I don’t like memoirs, and I’m not enamored of poor-little-rich-party-girl narratives. But damn, this one really hooked me--mainly because I’m shocked that Cat Marnell is still standing. She’s 5’2” and has ingested enough speed, heroine and booze in her short lifetime to kill someone the size of Andre the Giant ten times over. I also find it compelling because I’m appalled at the number of people in her life who have been involved in her enabling—her kind, well-meaning bosses at Conde Naste, but also a parade of sycophants, deadbeat boyfriends, users and hangers-on who saw a wealthy hot chick with a serious problem and decided it was okay to take advantage. Not to mention her cold, clueless parents who passively funded her lifestyle but didn’t seem to care much about her emotional well-being. It’s sad and disgusting, and Cat is an extremely frustrating narrator, but still I read on, like the gluttonous trash-glutton I am. As obnoxious as Cat is at times in the book, I do think she is genuinely talented, and I hope that she can keep it together and move forward with her life and her career. She’s as much victim as perpetrator, and she deserves some real help and support.

I went down an interesting Pandora rabbit-hole last week after setting up a new Pretty Reckless station as a break from my normal, tinkly, airy-fairy New Age fair. And I heard the most amazing thing: a cover of “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed. It was so stunning I listened to it five times in a row. It actually gave me chills. It occurred to me that this is what that song was meant to sound like. Nothing against the reedy, ethereal sound of the original, but when you compare the two, you’ll realize that the first version is major weak sauce. “The Sound of Silence” is a serious, brutal, heavy song that needs some major gravitas in its execution, and Disturbed’s version nails it. I think that even Simon and Garfunkel would agree.

Well, I am just chock-full of petty amusements this week. The other thing I’ve been distracting myself with is the absolutely charming side-scroller “Trine 2,” which popped up in my Steam queue on sale for three dollars. Three dollars!! So of course I had to buy it. I like it because unlike many games, there are multiple ways to solve puzzles. You can flip between an object-levitating wizard, a nimble ninja, and a rotund warrior. Between the three, the game allows endless creativity in the way you move through the world and solve problems. The lack of rigidity really appeals to me. I love that it allows me to solve logic problems using creativity and wit, rather than, well, logic, which isn’t really my strong suit. Also, the graphics are stunning, and in one sequence, you get to feed peaches to a giant animated frog. What’s not to love?

Here’s the real version of “The Sound of Silence.” It starts off innocently enough but really picks up steam in midway through:

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Robe of Smugness, Mysterious Dresses, Musical Correction

Last week, I was searching my Kindle for a suspense novel I could escape into. Usually, I can count on Dan Brown for a solid bout of literary intrigue, and even though I’ve been a bit disappointed in his last few books, I went back to the good ole’ Dan Brown archive and downloaded sample after sample of his older novels--but not one of them hooked me. Frustrated, I groused to Mr. Typist that you would think someone who pads around silk-robed and barefoot in his giant mansion all day could at least bother to crank out something that held my interest for more than fifteen seconds. Mr. Typist looked at me askance, to which I burst out, “You don’t understand. Dan Brown is smug!” I know what you’re thinking, but I am not jealous that Dan Brown is a millionaire best-selling author who lives in a mansion and that every book he cranks out is guaranteed to make a fortune. I just resent his robe. The robe of smugness. The robe that mocks the rest of us struggling writers with its silky, luxurious folds and the faint scent of Armani. The robe that laughs at me as Dan Brown eats his poached egg and gazes upon his towering mountains of cash. The robe that knows damn well I’m going to fork over fourteen bucks for his next book. (But I’m not going to pre-order it).

I was browsing the web looking for a specific kind of dress for an upcoming work event, when I came across a link to this Mysterious Purple Floral Maxi Slip Dress. While I am intrigued at the idea of a mysterious dress, I don't understand what’s so inscrutable and unknowable about it. It's a floral dress, not a riddle wrapped in an enigma. It isn’t hiding its essential dress-ness or lying about its identity. Maybe they mean that you will appear to be mysterious if you wear it. As in, “Who is that enchanting creature in that floaty floral vestment of beauty? I must make it my only goal to know her!” But it’s too late, because Mysterious Dress Lady has already slipped away into the shadows, leaving behind only a single, pink petal that dances away on the wind.

I recently read an article in The Atlantic on musical anhedonia, a condition in which one is unresponsive to or downright annoyed by music. At first, I thought I had that, but after reading the article, I realize I don’t. I’ve complained frequently on this blog that I don’t like music, but I’ve come to understand that what I actually don’t like is all of the exhausting cult tribalism, hipster-signaling, and self-aggrandizing that goes along with it. I just say I don’t like music because I don’t want to talk about music. I don’t want engage in it like it’s a competitive sport and mold an entire identity around what I do and don’t listen to. I respond to the music I like with emotion and pleasure, but it’s not the cornerstone of my existence and my self-construction. It has its place in my life, and that’s it. Now kindly leave me to enjoy the guilty pleasure of my Pretty Reckless Pandora station in peace. (Ha! I bet you thought I was Tori Amos girl, didn’t you?) Video Warning: Not for the sensitive.

--Kristen McHenry

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Reputable Poets, Musical Chloroform, A Great Loss

Recently, a relative of mine asked me to send her the names of some local poets that she could contact for a writer’s panel she’s putting together. I happily e-mailed her a list of names, and caught myself in the e-mail describing them as “reputable”. Then I laughed a bit at the concept of a reputable poet. Romantic myth tells us that “real” poets are anything but reputable. Poets are supposed to be dissolute and erratic in dress and behavior, to lead lewd, scandalous lives full of affairs and multiple marriages, to collapse with drink on any given Tuesday, and to die broken, leaving behind a trail of destruction and heartbreak. But when I actually reflected on my list of poets, I realized that they  are all really sensible people. Boring, actually. They have day jobs and children and responsibilities and bills to pay. They have to organize themselves properly and manage their workaday lives just like everyone else. In fact, I believe that their ability to do so is what allows them the energy to be wild, gutsy and ferocious in their writing. My favorite poet, the brilliant Wallace Stevens, worked until retirement as an executive for an insurance company and composed poems as he walked to work every day in a suit and tie. One of the preeminent poets on my list works for a law firm and is one of the most sensible and practical people I know. Another is a technical writer for a well-known IT company. These are not people given to erraticism or histrionics. It takes too much energy to lead a life full of melodrama, and manage to create passionate works of poetic genius. Could it be that the best poets are actually the most staid and boring people among us? I suspect so.

I tuned in and out of the Oscars last Sunday, not having seen any of the movies and not caring about anything but the fashion, but I did somehow manage to catch a clip from that insufferable musical “La-La Land.” Yes, I am assuming it’s insufferable. I didn’t see it, but its mere existence annoys me. And the clip I saw made me want to claw my eyes out. It was what’s-his-name—Ryan Gosseling, I think?—explaining improvisational jazz to his dinner date. He describes in great detail all of the…detail involved in jazz performance, and it gave me an instant headache. Jazz is musical chloroform for me. After about two minutes of it, my head is on the table and I’m passed out snoring. So I actually don’t know if I like it or don’t like it, because I can’t listen to it long enough to discern. I would like to believe that the complexity of it overwhelms my circuits  and that’s why I shut down when listening to it, but that would be flattering myself. I don’t think I can even process the complexity of it. It’s probably time to admit that I’m just shallow. As previously stated, I don’t like Yoga, I don’t like jazz, and while we’re at it, I might as well confess that I’m lax about recycling and I eat refined carbohydrates with shocking regularity. I’ll turn in my official Seattleite card and move away now.

Not to end on a low note, but the world lost a truly good man this week. My grandfather, one of the Greatest Generation, passed away on Monday. He was one the most steadfast, strong and hardy people I have ever known. I went to say goodbye to him last Saturday in the hospice. I had forgotten how intimate it is to watch someone dying. I’m glad I was there, and that I was able to thank him for being my Grandfather. I like to believe that he heard me and understood me. You can read more about him and his remarkable life here:

--Kristen McHenry

Monday, February 20, 2017

Alarmingly Assertive Mormons, Dream Catcher

I’m always game for two things that most people deeply dislike: I’m willing to listen to and interpret your dreams, and I will always talk to religious proselytizers, whether they come to my door or stop me in the street. However, yesterday while innocently walking to my local pool, I happened across a pair of alarmingly assertive Mormons. They wore matching fleece jackets and carried Bibles and of course, the compulsory religious tracts. They were heartbreakingly young and seemed a bit desperate. I made the mistake of telling them (since they asked) that no, I don’t literally believe that Jesus is the son of God, however, I can get behind most of the general principles he espoused. Their eyes lit up with a glassy fervor, and they immediately demanded my phone number, which I declined to provide. Then, one of them jotted down the address of their church, informed me that they were having services at 1:00 p.m., and stated confidently that he would “see me there”. I felt like I was this close to being hog-tied and thrown into the back of windowless van. I escaped unscathed, but burdened with a 30-page pamphlet about the Holy Scriptures.

The reason that I always take time to talk to religious people is because one, I feel bad for them, especially if they are peddling their spiritual wares in my neighborhood, which is notoriously liberal and atheist-leaning. I’m sure they get doors slammed in their faces constantly, which they humbly accept as part of the burden of being a good Christian and sharing the Word of Our Lord. Secondly, it’s no skin off my back. I’m not one those rabid anti-religious atheist types who get enraged by the very idea that someone wants to talk to me about God. If you are that motivated to talk about God with a total stranger, then bring it. Let’s talk about God. It doesn’t hurt me any, and it’s an excuse to connect to another human being with a different viewpoint.  Lord knows, we could all use a little more of that these days. But if these encounters are going to start getting weirdly assailing, I may need to revise my policy.

Speaking of dreams, I was recently browsing my “dream journal”—essentially just a Notepad list where I write down any dreams I happen to remember and/or find interesting or significant. I’ve come to the disappointing conclusion that my unconscious does not cleverly share mysterious wisdom cloaked in highly-structured, symbolic riddles. It’s more like an irrational, babbling toddler with a mental disorder. Here are some choice snippets:

I was at the beach and an angry pigeon with a purple beak stole my debit card.

I was making numerous attempts to fish in nearby lakes and streams, but I was being stymied by a hairy, dog-like creature (kind of a combination of a mole and a dog) who was going into the water ahead of me and scaring off all of the fish.

Donald Trump sent out a caring tweet about me.

Donald Trump had a stroke and my boss at work was the first responder.

A salamander was licking my face, being very affectionate.

An octopus had a message for me, but I can’t remember what it was.

Got foot stuck in a barbed wire fence. The harder I struggled, the tighter it got wrapped in the wire. Spider, goat.

I was taking a class in fashion design and the instructor insisted that all of our drawings needed to be in shades of green. I kept trying to change my fashion plates from peach to green, but they kept going back to the color peach, to my great frustration, as I was on a deadline.

I was looking at apartments in a very swanky building, at least from the outside. Inside, all of the units were absurdly tiny and cramped. The leaser tried to convince me that the pool locker room would be a good place to rent out as an apartment, but said I couldn't be there during peak hours.

There you go--the unconscious of this humble typist stripped bare in all of its lurid glory. Make of it what you will, but, as the Bible says, do not judge lest ye be judged.

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Smug Yoga, Reader Curse, Reviving “Grease”

If you’re one of my friends and you do Yoga, you’re a lovely person and the following statement does not pertain to you. All I’m saying is that on occasion, I run into a particularly holier-than-thou Person Who Does Yoga, and the encounter inspires me to scream at them  (in my head), “Oh, you do Yoga??? Well, by God, why didn’t you say so sooner? Please give me your address so I can mail you your framed Better Person Award post-haste!” I am not trying gin up controversy or be deliberately contrarian here, but I truly do not like Yoga. I’ve given it numerous attempts, and all it does is make me want to crawl out of my skin. My body and brain simply refuse to cooperate. I don’t find it centering or relaxing. And I’m a physically restless person (not to be confused in any way with being an athletic person), so if I’m going to spend time exercising, I want to do something fast-moving with resistance, like swimming or the elliptical. I have a lot of nervous energy to discharge and I need to move. I need to wear myself out physically to feel better emotionally. That I find centering. Sitting still in a dark room and getting frustrated because my body is fundamentally incapable of doing a single Yoga move is not. Also, I could do without the self-righteous lectures of the instructors. It’s none of their business if I ate half a bag of Hot Cheetos for lunch.

All my life, I’ve had that “reader” curse. You know the one I mean—the curse of constantly mispronouncing common words because you spend all of your time indoors reading instead of fraternizing with other human beings, therefore you make up how certain words sound, and then get really embarrassed when someone points out to you that you’re saying it all wrong. I have this with “gesture”—I’m never really sure if it’s pronounced “jester” or “guess-ture," and a whole slew of other words that I can’t recall at the moment. I learned of another one last night, when, in a conversation with Mr. Typist, I pronounced the word “voluptuous” as “volumptious," much to his cackling delight. He gleefully pointed out that I have a life-long habit of mis-saying that word, and he’s right. He has his own theory as to why—he insists that I am mixing it up with “voluminous," but I disagree. I think it’s because a word such as “voluptuous”, “meaning “full of, characterized by, or ministering to indulgence in luxury, pleasure, and sensuous enjoyment," needs to have a soft “m” sound in there. “Voluptuous” is a really clunky word that does not adequately reflect its delightful meaning. It needs that soft “m” to fill it out and give it a nice, warm, downy feel.  (By the way, I know this antecedent may make Mr. Typist seem mean or insensitive, but it didn’t go down that way at all. I was laughing my arse off so hard during the whole conversation I almost fell out of my chair.)

Besides arguing over the proper pronunciation of relatively arcane words, Mr. Typist and I watched the 1978 movie “Grease” on Netflix last night. I remember seeing it in the theater as a very young Ms. Typist, and being absolutely captivated by it. I wanted nothing more than to be in a lady gang and wear a pink satin jacket and have a bad boyfriend with greasy hair and a fast car. So it was really fun to re-visit the movie from an adult perspective.  While watching the movie last night, I marveled to myself that if  1/10th of the sh*t that went down at Rydell High in 1959 went down at any high school ever in 2017, there would be a national scandal and about 11,000 lawsuits. Cases in point: The shop teacher accompanying her students to an illegal drag race, the relentless bullying of the hapless Eugene, rampant underage drinking and driving, not to mention sexual harassment and student-on-student violence. Nonetheless, shockingly, those thirty-five-year-old teenagers came out of it all unscathed and were able to do a silly dance at the graduation carnival. People were tougher back then.

Other random notes: My favorite female character is Frenchy by far. My favorite male character is Danny Zuko, since I have a soft spot for dim-witted but essentially good-hearted men. “Grease” probably has the best opening credit sequence of any film made before or since. And finally, Frankie Avalon singing “Beauty School Drop-Out” in those tight white pants is nothing less than divine. At any rate, enjoy this funny, dark take on Grease in 2017:

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Caper Envy, Big Gem, Video Game Hell

Mid-winter ennui has settled into my bones, and I find myself uncharacteristically bored and unfocused. I happened to catch a bit of the Tom Hanks movie “The DaVinci Code” on TV a few nights ago, and I realized that what is lacking in my life is a good old-fashioned, heart-thumping chase by government officials in helicopters. Tom Hanks and his lady-sidekick cryptographer are having so much fun in that movie. I know they’re on the run and it’s all very serious and Tom Hanks has to prove his innocence, but still, they get to zip all around the Vactican in one of those tiny cars, barely one step ahead of the authorities, and talk about the mysteries of the universe with a slightly drunk Ian McKellen. There is no intrigue in my life, and, as much as I enjoy believing otherwise, no one is after me. I would appreciate a little adventure. Maybe a government helicopter could just come and hover over my apartment for a few minutes to put a decent scare into me. Then again, in today’s climate, I suppose I should be careful what I ask for.

A symptom of my malaise has been a fascination with the Home Shopping Network’s jewelry sale shows. They come on around 9:00 p.m., just as I’m trying to wind down my overwrought brain, and I find them hypnotic. Don’t worry—I’m not sitting there with a credit card and cell phone in hand, as there is no scenario in which I would actually buy one of their frighteningly gaudy offerings. What fascinates me is their host’s salesmanship. If I owned a retail store of any kind, I would head-hunt every one of those HSN jewelry salespeople. They have mad sales skills and a brilliant formula: There is the main salesperson, (male or female, it doesn’t matter) with a Deep South tent-revival preacher cadence, a fiery crusade against the forces of Big Gem, and a warm, down-home, “I’m just regular folks” vibe that's a lethal combination in and of itself. But then they add the double-whammy of the submissive sidekick, whose role is to act as the gospel choir, backing up everything the main host says with cult-like sighs and ecstatic eye-rolls of admiring agreement. It’s fantastic. Every single time, they almost manage to convince me that dropping $67.90 (with Flexpay!) on a Jay King Compressed Turquoise and Blue Topaz Sterling Silver Ring is a great idea. Almost—but so far, not quite. If you ever find me pushing a shopping cart full of my worldly belongings down the street, with a giant garish ring on each of my fingers, you’ll know they’ve won. By the way, lest you think I’m the only one, my cat Buddy is just as enamored of the HSN jewelry shows as I am. He sits miraculously still on my lap and watches it with me, eyes huge and enraptured by all of the glorious shinies.

Because of my afore-mentioned ennui, I recently re-downloaded Neverwinter. It’s easy to play and a great distraction from the fact that I’m completely drained of motivation to send out my novel or work on my writing projects. I rolled a new toon--a sassy elf Rogue--and one of my early quests was to instigate a war between two opposing factions of rat-humanoids by slaughtering all of the inhabitant of one faction’s safe house and dropping propaganda literature from the opposing faction. I cheerfully accepted the quest, all the while knowing that it was an awful, immoral thing to do. That led me to consider all of the other immoral things I have done in video games, of which there have been many. I have slaughtered legions of innocents over the years. I wonder if there is some sort of special, video game hell to which a pixelated version of myself will get sent to atone for all of my video game crimes. I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now, I’m too busy pillaging and instigating proxy wars. A girl can only think about so much at once!

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Persian Flaw

Persian Flaw

"In ancient times, Persian rug makers were deeply religious and believed that only God could make something perfect. They would deliberately drop in a small faulty stitch, a flaw, into each Persian rug. In doing so, a “Persian Flaw” revealed the rug maker’s devotion to God."--Karel Weijand

So we will crave
the circumstance of our shame.
So we will allow
only the treacherous in. So we will do
to ourselves what was done
to us. So we will gain mastery.
So we can believe
that it was love.
So we will learn
that love is empty.
So we can become
So we will meet
So we will be granted
no more choices.
So there can be only
our long fall in offering.

So in the falling
we will thrash our limbs
and plead for rescue.
And in the silence that's returned,
we'll find our wholeness.
And in our wholeness, we will clasp
the broken stitch,
and in that embrace
there will be born
devotion, and in devotion,
we will know our worth,
and in our worthiness,
we will offer up compassion.
And our compassion, we will find
a god in every failing.

 --Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 22, 2017

RSVP’s: The Real Reason Society Is Coming Apart at the Seams

I recently found myself exasperated by the lack of RSVP’s for a work-related event I’m planning, which led me to crankily Google, “Why won’t anyone RSVP anymore???” I was immediately buried under millions of articles, blog posts, and rants from embittered event planners everywhere, lamenting modern society’s widespread inability to commit to attendance at social gatherings. Apparently, it’s been a problem for quite some time. Now, before you snort dismissively and accuse me being preoccupied with first world problems, hear me out.

I know all the world is aflame right now because we’re on the brink of the apocalypse and blah, blah, blah, but while everyone was obsessed with politics, the real symptom of society’s breakdown was in full blossom before our very eyes, and like the proverbial frog in boiling water, we didn’t notice until it was too late. And that symptom, my friends, is not our current Commander-in-Chief. Rather, it is the complete lack of accountability we feel towards what used to be a foundational aspect of the social contract—that is, the simple act of RSVP-ing. This is about more than just flightiness, or people being too busy or overwhelmed by social media. People have always been flighty, busy, and overwhelmed by something or the other. But it used to be that when you were invited to a social gathering, you understood that the person on the other end of that invitation had to think ahead about food and drink quantities, staffing, seating arrangements, name cards, space set-up, and event budgeting. We were honored to be an invited guest, and took the responsibility of responding seriously. We knew that the host was going to work hard to create a fun, enjoyable event for us, and we had enough basic decency and respect to let them know by their requested deadline whether or not we would grace them with our presence.

Fast forward to 2017 and ship, sailed. These days, it’s a total free-for-all out there. Somehow we’ve gotten so utterly self-centered and myopic, so commitment-phobic, and so emotionally undisciplined that we don’t want to agree to do anything ahead of time because, what if we wake up that morning and just don’t feeeeeeeel like going to that dinner party the host has been planning for three months? What if we get a better offer? What if someone might be there who we don’t like? And anyway, why are you hassling me, man? Why should I have to tell you whether or not I’m going to come to your party? That’s like, totally oppressive. Maybe I’ll show up, maybe I won’t. (But if I do, I expect you to have enough food and booze to satisfy me and my unannounced date.)

See, this isn’t just about how technically daunting it is to click “yes” or “no” on an E-vite. This is a symptom of our deeply embedded sense of entitlement, our laziness, and yes, our selfishness. We’re all so mired in the immediate and so controlled by our base emotional responses to everything that we can’t discipline ourselves to meet a basic tenet of being a grown-ass adult. And that is a problem, because it’s a symptom of the growing tear in our social fabric.  Breaking bread with our friends and face-to-face socializing is a building block of society, as is keeping our commitments. And navigating those things used to be a skill that we developed over time, as part of our maturation process and our induction into real adulthood. Now all bets are off, and that lack of skill is spilling over into the way we interact with each other in day-to-day life, as evidenced by, oh, say, violent attacks on those who disagree with our political viewpoints, or road rage, or general lack of empathy for the lived experience of others. Not to mention the bane of frazzled event planners who need to give a minimum headcount to the caterers by 3:00 p.m. and can’t because no one will bloody commit. Come on, people. We are better than this. Fixing the world’s problem starts with the small things first: Be polite, r├ępondez to the invite!

--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Me--Stylist to the Stars, What I Learned About Australia Will Shock You, Childhood Crush

As I mentioned in last week’s non-blog post, I watched the Golden Globes red-carpet pre-show last week. I didn’t watch the actual Golden Globes, because I haven’t seen any of the movies and I find award shows tedious. But I get a kick out seeing the dresses. I myself am a notorious fashion frump, but something about the red carpet brings out my inner Tim Gunn, and suddenly I become this sassy, Fashion Police-esque expert in fit, color and accessories. So, for the edification of all of Hollywood, I have scrutinized this year’s Golden Globes fashions carefully via various websites, and I have a few things to say:

1.    If you have porcelain skin, light pink, white, champagne and pale beige are bad colors for you! I swear, a few of the actresses were practically invisible, their tiny, wraith-like bodies wrapped in layers of gauzy froo-froo that were exactly the same shade as their skin.
2.  Just because a look is trendy, does not mean it’s good look for you personally. For example, there are very few people who look good in yellow, but these damnable yellow gowns have been popping up everywhere for the last few years. Most of them are an eyesore. The same goes for gowns with weird, random things stuck badly onto them. I don’t understand why you would ruin a perfectly good gown by slapping weird, floppy things onto it in a random pattern.
3.  There’s a fine line between delicate and feminine, and looking like you fled a house fire in your nightgown.
4.   There is a limit to how much confusion the eyes can take. Pick one interesting design element and play it up. Six are too many.
6.     In the end, fit and simplicity win over trendiness and “statement” pieces.

Alright then. Moving on to a more serious matter, please brace yourselves for some very upsetting news. I didn’t want to have to have tell you this, but now that my eyes have been opened, I feel that it is my duty to let you know:  It was brought to my attention this week via Imgur that Australians do not know what lemonade is. Apparently, if you order a lemonade in Australia, they give you Sprite. They don’t know about American lemonade. They are not awakened to the pleasure of fresh-squeezed lemons mixed with water and sugar. And they don’t even seem to care! Their attitude is one of scornful dismissiveness. One Aussie actually called it “a niche hipster item." I’m stunned. Here I was, just going about my life all this time, having no idea that a wide swathe of  the planet legitimately believes that Sprite is lemonade. Even more shocking were several comments made along the lines of “So that’s how all those kids in America have lemonade stands. I always wondered how they were making carbonated beverages at home.” Wow.

I know that was hard to take, so to end things on a lighter note, I was thrilled to hear an interview with my first childhood crush, Shaun Cassidy, on one of my regular podcasts recently. I have a very clear memory of carefully saving up all of my allowance quarters so I could buy his record “Under Wraps.” I had my eye on that album for weeks at my local BX (we were military.) I knew it was five dollars, and I knew that five stacks of four quarters would get me my precious. Finally one day I announced I was going to purchase it. My mother said, “But you don’t have the money for that," at which point I gathered up all of my quarters and methodically counted them out in front of her in five stacks of four. Defeated, mom threw her hands up, and I dashed off to make my shiny new purchase. It turns out, the host of the podcast described almost the exact same experience—she knew the album was five dollars, and she save up her allowance until she had enough to walk to Records R Us and make her purchase. It made me smile think that while I was on an air base in remote Alaska plotting my Shaun Cassidy album purchase, another girl of my age in Southern California was socking away her quarters, too, dreaming of the dulcet tones of Shaun Cassidy. By the way, Sean was an absolute delight in the interview. Turns out, he’s very sweet man and quite an accomplished television writer/producer. You can hear the interview here.

--Kristen McHenry