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Archive for the ‘arts slash crafts’ Category

NTKOG #112: The kind of angsty, chocolate-smeared loneyheart who spends V-Day with her equally man-hating girlfriends jabbing stickpins into the crotch of dumb-boy voodoo dolls.

I am: single.

I am not: bitter.

The Scene: My glorious cinnamon- and chocolate-scented apartment, V-Day evening. Anglophile came over and we discussed the douchebaggery of men in general (and a few men in particular) before deciding on our plan of attack for the evening. Dude, we decided, let’s list all the reasons we never liked them anyway! Then make voodoo dolls! And burn effigies of the pathetic motherfuckers! Uh, and did I mention chocolate?!

We gathered voodoo supplies and fired up the fondue pot. Cute idea, I thought, but we’re not actually going to do all this stereotypical shit. We’ll probably just end up watching a movie or something…

As for how it turned out. Um, I’m going to let the following pictures tell you a few thousand words. Don’t worry, though. I weeded out all the shriekingly scathing ones.

That's not my real calendar -- my real calendar happens to have pictures of me on it this monthing. If the monthly 'stache were a real calendar, though, I'd totes buy it!

Turns out it only takes two vindictive girls, three pens, a jumbo pack of Post Its and one hour to completely cover the walls of a small apartment. Also, dude, some of these were so scathing that they burned my skin when I took them off the wall.

These are Anglophiles, 'cause mine were absolutely filthy.

After determining Post-Its weren't sufficiently violent, wrote and popped some of the things we hated about dudes.

Note the areas of high-density pin placement.

Voodoo dolls. To stuff them, we wrote down things we used to like about the guys, then shredded 'em. (But before you get all z0mg-dark-energy with me, yes, I believe in karma too much to have actually wished ill on anyone. It was pretty positive energy.)

I'm not sure I can properly convey to you how filthy and absolutely brutal the pictures were. Probably a good thing there's no photographic evidence of most of them...

Putting the "eff you" in effigy. What up.

The Verdict: It’s funny. This is the first Valentine’s Day in five years that I’ve been single. It’s also hands-down the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had — maybe one of the best days I’ve had, like, period. I thought all the V-Day man-bashing would feel too forced or stereotypical or just plain ol’ negative, but it was actually a pretty liberating night. One attempts to resist using the phrase “girl power,” but one doesn’t resist too hard.

The emphasis of the evening was less “I hope you get chlamydia of the face and die” and more like “dude, remember the shitty details and don’t let yourself get hung up on something that just really doesn’t matter that much.” Okay, okay, and there may have been a certain amount of emasculating joking. And doodling. And pin-sticking.

Still, this gets an A++ from me. Sometimes bitching about guys isn’t about men being idiots. It’s about remembering that the women you’re doing the bitching with are total badasses.

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NTKOG #99: The kind of creatively turbocharged Rodin-in-training who effortlessly chisels a block of solid ice into a breathtaking masterpiece.

I am: impatient and tend to second-guess myself when it comes to working with any muscles other than my brain.

I am not: artistically inclined.

The Scene: BU Alumni Winterfest (last post from that epic day, I swear!); team ice-sculpting competition, along with Sister and Hot Hands and a few other cool dudes. The theme is the Winter Olympics, and we immediately come up with a theme that will endear us to our crowd of voters: a twin-sculpture scene of the BU Terrier mascot, Rhett, standing victorious on an Olympic pedestal next to a dejected and mangled BC Eagle. Cute and classy, right?

All through the planning stage, I imagine myself with mallet and icepick, fearlessly chipping away every fleck of ice that doesn’t look like a Terrier, to paraphrase the old joke. This chest-bumping hubris lasts up until, um, point three seconds after we lay eyes upon the actual slabs of ice. Good lord, dude — eight cubic feet of ice?! We have to make some sort of visual sense of it? I kept level-headed while the event’s official Chainsaw Dude powertooled around our outline.

I was on my best manners and did not actually ask him if I could use the chainsaw.

I love the flume of ice spitting out the back of the block. VROOOM! POWERTOOLS!

However, the moment we were alone with our soon-to-be creation, I completely lost my confidence. Everyone else in our ragtag team immediately picked up chisels and scrapydoos and the rest of the provided tools and dug in; I limply brandished a mid-size scraper, made a few limp stabs, then hung back and just watched.

The amorphous block of ice already looked like a dog to me, was the problem.

I mean, no, it looked like a dog in the vague way that a cloud or a raised constellation of drywall can look like a dog — it suggested a dog. But even though I could tell the icebeast wasn’t exactly going to start barking or humping anyone in the vicinity, I just couldn’t figure out why it didn’t look like a dog. Had no way of decoding the visual syntax, if that makes any sense.

At first, I asked Sister (who is an ice-sculpting veteran, having done this once before) to explain to me which parts to curve, which bits needed smoothing, where and exactly how to start working on the sculpture. But I was timid and afraid of messing up the sculpture in some way I didn’t understand. It was like a Magic Eye puzzle that everybody else in the group could see. I was bad at it. And after about an hour of getting underfoot and trying my hardest not to accidentally impale myself on the chisel, I gave up and did something I am good at. Got a slice of pizza across the street. (In fact, I stole away another of our team members to come with me, so I actively DETRACTED from our team’s utility. Yes I’m awesome!)

Apparently my absence was the key to our success, though, because when I came back, it was to behold:

Sadly, my pics of the other half of our team's maimed BC Eagle statue are a total suckfest, so just take my word for it that the sculpture was also adorable. Unless you're a BC fan, I guess.

It's hard to make out the translucent-on-translucent detailing, but passers-by were impressed by our sculpture's friggin' adorability.

Pretty damn good for a team of amateurs, eh? No thanks to me! I’ll admit, all afternoon, the only thing I contributed to the team was the title for our non-winning sculpture series. Words: apparently the only artsy thing I can do.

The Verdict: You guys! It turns out that doing things I’m bad at … is one of the things I’m bad at. I tend to pride myself on the try-anything-once attitude I’ve acquired over the course of this project, but apparently I have to modify that to try-anything-once-until-it-becomes-evident-you-suck-at-which-point-retreat-behind-your-shield-of-quippy-detachment. THAT SIMPLY WON’T DO! In no small part because there are too many hyphens!

In general, this is a pattern of behavior I recognize in myself: once I realize I’m not doing well at something, I’ll either withdraw entirely, or else do intentionally badly to turn the situation into a big joke and avoid having to confront failure. This is ridiculous. If you can’t fail with grace, then how can you steel yourself up to improve your weaknesses? It’s hard to be earnestly bad at something, I guess.

So, while I’m totally okay with being not the kind of girl who can get her visual fine arts on, I’m resolved to keep THROWING MYSELF AT FAILURE and liking it, goddamnit. Bring on your yoga classes and stand-up comedy open mics and DDR tournaments! If I do any one thing throughout the rest of this project, it’s going to be becoming the kind of girl who can fail with grace!

How about you guys? Spectacularly failed anything lately? Did you handle it with more tact and aplomb than I did? (Probably.)

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Sorry I’ve been swallowed into the earth, guys! Vegas has been filled with much cavorting; apparently the antidote to over-prolific blogging is coming home at sunrise several days in a row.

NTKOG #80: The kind of scratchy-voiced tragic wannabe diva who sings not just absent-mindedly, not just for her own enjoyment, but intensely and often and totally on purpose. There are two types of singers: those who are better than they think and bombard you constantly; those who know they’re still awful and keep doing it anyway.

I am,: for your listening pleasure, neither. Showertime and iPod walks only, please.

I am not: the type to take things seriously when I know I’ll do badly at them.

The Scene: Q Karaoke Lounge in Vegas’s Chinatown, Tuesday night, sometime in the vortex after last call. High-school friend Aviatrix and I have hit a few great local bars, but are tipsy, not trashed. We head to Chinatown for the promise of pho, then drive by a karaoke lounge and agree to head in.

The second we get there, we realize something is wrong: this karaoke bar has … no bar. Turns out instead of sitting around, sipping a drink while laughing at other gravel-voiced schmucks, this is a private-room studio, in which you rent a room with a screen and are your own schmucky entertainment with no schadenfreude breaks.

See, the thing about karaoke bars, is we all love to sing in them, but since it’s an experience of mass transcendence of dignity, we can pretend it’s peer pressure luring us in; to rent a studio, you have to really want to, uh, sing. Aviatrix and I hung back at the counter like a young couple in a joke about a motel, shooting each other shamefully earnest glances.

Long story short, after the first few moments of “um, why are we singing to each other” awkwardness — and a bucket of Smirnoff Ice (so NTKOG) — we actually got in the spirit of the thing and the time whipped past. Turns out it is totally possible to set aside your dignity and aloofness in pursuit of song, no matter how terrible you are.

After an hour of belting, giggling, and, um, maaaybe some impromptu choreography that relied extensively on high-kicking, we went to the counter to pay our bill.

“Man, that was awesome!” I gushed to the woman at the counter. “That was so awesome! We were awesome! I just wish we had like a friggin’ DVD of it or something!”

“Oh, you want DVD?” lilted the counter girl. “We have DVD. We record the whole thing. Ten dollars.”

… So. If you happen to see TKOG high-kicking her way through Korean energy drink commercials any time soon, then, um, just know that it was totally worth it.

The Verdict: Oh yeah, guys. I was amazed by what unbelievable non-embarrassing fun this was. So much so, in fact, that less than 24 hours later, I went back with Sister and three other friends — outspokenly non-karaoke aficionados — and we ended up belting out the questionable classics for four hours. Four sober hours.

I always thought the rooms sounded lame beyond belief, but now I just can’t wait to get back to Boston and go to another one. (Anyone else? I’m sensing a Boston bloggah meet-up here…)

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Not an NTKOG: The kind of girl who, um, rouses her holiday spirit by watching The Slutcracker: an XXXmas burlesque revue. (Not an NTKOG because, dude, near-naked people humping vibrating candy canes onstage? Yeah, I’m kind of all about that.)

The Scene: The Slutcracker, obviously, at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville. And hey, Bostonians? I’m just going to wait here for a minute while you go ahead and BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW! (Shows tonight through Sunday, 8pm, with a Sunday 2pm matinée. GO GO GO!) After our last hang, I suggested the show to Anglophile and Porn Star. And it just goes to show you how cool they are that they immediately said yes.

“Hey, really awesome eating cupcakes with you erstwhile strangers. Wanna go out in a few days and watch people in underwear do stuff to each other?” …not even I would have said yes to that.

From the second the curtain opened on a large woman, wearing frilly underwear and a mesh body stocking, I think we could all sense there was something magical unfolding before us. When she reached down and pulled her cue cards out of her panties, we were sure of it.

The story is basically a retelling of The Nutcracker, with a few adult twists. Instead of a magical nutcracker, for example, Clara is gifted by her dirty-minded grandma (played by a spectacular 70-year-old burlesque lifer) with a big floppy dildo. And instead of the Nutcracker Prince, she cavorts around with a giant pink vibrator — who, judging by his arm and head movements, is of the rabbit breed, if I’m not mistaken. Don’t worry, though: they didn’t change everything. The dance of the sugarplum fairy, true to the original, definitely involved some people popping out from under skirts…

At first, I will admit, I was a bit horrified by how good the choreography was. At least twenty minutes of the beginning of the show is a straight modern ballet: talented dancers, measured movements, some dang Tchaikovsky. But then. But then. Duct-tape pasties! Male pole dancers! Undergarments that are more confection than function! And, of course, SLUTS AND LIGHT-UP HULA HOOPS!

I just can’t say enough good things about this production! Brilliant choreography; vibrant cast (especially the adorable fiancé!); uproariously inventive take on a holiday standard. I was truly laughing from curtain up until the final bow. Plus, one of my favorite things about burlesque culture is how earnestly enthusiastic it is about sex and the human body, in whatever size or shape or texture it happens to come in. There’s something deeply affirming about being able to openly scrutinize the human body and appreciate its awkwardness and occasional ugliness and, despite or maybe because of these things, dude, mind-blowing sexiness. Plus, did I mention sluts and hula hoops?! By god, kids, this is Christmas.

The Verdict: Absolute must-see, rollicking holiday fun not for the whole family. For my money? Total Christmas tradition in the making.

Um, dudes, at one point, a giant penis-shaped candy cane EJACULATED SNOW. So. Is that TMI Thursday enough for you? Check out today’s TMI Thursday greatness over at Livit, Luvit!

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NTKOG #72: The kind of girl who, heedless of not being invited, smarms, charms and bribes her way into events with closed guest lists.

I am: officially the antithesis of the sort of person who would be on any sort of guest list. Guest list = big-time yuck.

I am not: particularly the charmin’, smarmin’ type, even if I were actually motivated to crash events.

The Scene: Radio station concert situation at The Lansdowne Pub, featuring — googly cartoon heart eyes — my all-time favorite band, The Barenaked Ladies. Swooooon. (Guys, you cannot make fun of me about loving BnL. Absolutely cannot. The heart wants what the heart wants, and my heart wants Ed Robertson.) Sister let me know about the event on Thursday, and I’d not only been obsessively F5-ing Craigslist for invites, but actually participating in radio station call-in games too. Oh yeah. I had it bad. Unfortunately, all of the seventeen (17!) times I called the pub or radio station and begged, they told me the same thing: tickets are absolutely sold out and there’s no use asking anymore. Also: stop calling us.

But instead of just giving up — as old TKOG would have — tonight I stopped by the bank to pick up a crisp twenty for bouncer-bribin’ purposes, and glided down to Fenway to attempt to bribe my way into the show.

The event started at the old-mannish hour of 5pm, and by the time I got to the pub at 6:30, the other two acts were just about over. To my surprise, the only people clustered around the opening of the pub were a handful of smokers and one lone bouncer, inexplicably wearing a quite Dickensian hat.

TKOG: Hey, is this, uh, where the Barenaked Ladies thing is happening? Have they played yet?
Hulked-Out Bob Cratchit: It is. They haven’t gone on yet. I think Michelle Branch is still playing.
TKOG: Sweet. Is there any way I could, um, sneak in?
HOBC: Yeah, no problem. Hold on.
TKOG: Wait, what?! No. What? I had this — I had this whole thing worked out. I was going to be very persuasive.
HOBC: Okay…
TKOG: Well can I just run through it with you?
HOBC: Yeah, sure.
TKOG: See, I know they didn’t have tickets — it was just a guestlist, so you were going to say to me “Your name isn’t on the list,” and I was going to slip you a twenty and be like, “Maybe I can convince you to check again?” See, it was going to be like in the movies.
HOBC: Yeah, that might have worked. Sorry ’bout that. You still wanna give me the twenty?
TKOG: Well. I’m kind of broke, so… Thanks for letting me in! Totally appreciated!

At which point I sauntered in just in time to hear Michelle Branch sing an Aerosmith cover, and then see (four-fifths of) my all-time favorite band playing from TEN FEET AWAY!

Do or do you not see how insanely close I'm standing to Ed Robertson? NO FLASH WAS USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PICTURE. Seriously, I was as close to them as I'd be if they were set up and playing in my apartment right now.

Do or do you not see how insanely close I'm standing to Ed Robertson? Seriously, I was as close to them as I'd be if they were set up and playing in my apartment right now.

The Verdict: Um, can we talk about how supremely well this worked out? In the face of adversity, I just ignored everyone who told me what I didn’t want to hear, did what I wanted anyway, and IT ALL WORKED OUT. I ended up getting to see my favorite band from ten feet away completely for free and basically having a magical evening. Plus I got to have an awkward talk with a bouncer!

Goes to prove that old Woody Allen gem: 90% of success in life is just showing up. So. Next time I want to go somewhere and am told I can’t, I’m totes just going anyway, then asking politely once I get there. Mega win.

The only two bummers of the evening: 1) I didn’t get to bribe any burly dudes! I’m stashing that twenty in a special compartment in my purse, though, for the next time a palm needs to get greased; 2) my first time seeing a band I’ve been obsessed with for over a decade was only a few months after their brilliant lead singer, Steven Page, left the group. His specter was definitely felt, though: although the audience was pretty quiet, during the lines he traditionally sang during concerts back in the day, the audience all simultaneously belted, to cover, presumably, the sound of his absence and of our hearts, breaking.

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NTKOG #64: The kind of girl who gets all sweaty and obsessive over the pale undead and wakes up ungodly early to swoon over Edward with the rest of the acne-ridden masses.

I am: into books. Real books. With tiny little elements like plots and pacing and character development. Maybe the occasional bout of internal story logic too, while we’re at it?

I am not: a Twilight fan, in short. Sorry, dudes.

The Scene: A cinema in Fenway, ungodly early, with the rest of the Twitards Twihards and their sleepy, grimacing boyfriends. Sister, for all her other graces, is among the afflicted, and has promised me a movie-size box of Sugar Babies if I’ll sit through the movie with her without scoffing too loudly. Sugarlust and sisterly obligation prevail.

For context, I read the first book with an open mind (then became — in words that Twihards will understand — quite mellifluous with my chagrin after about fifty pages); the first movie I watched with only mocking in mind. To express my response to “New Moon,” I present you with a poem inspired by another, better teen trash flick:

Ten Things I Hate About New Moon

I hate its hackneyed premise
and its screaming preteen fans,
I hate the cinematography,
those dizzying circular pans.

I hate the cliched dialogue,
I hate Lautner’s hyped-up brawn,
I hate the logical contradictions
and I fucking hate Bella Swan.

I hate how Meyer just can’t write
and how slow the story’s paced,
the lazy trope of perfect love —
I hate that they’re so damn chaste.

I hate how Kristen Stewart mumbles
and how she gasps at Edward’s touch.
But mostly I hate how I didn’t hate it,
Not even close, not even a little — well, okay, not much.

The Verdict: Yeah, you guys heard me. I actually didn’t hate this. Okay, it was sappy and overly long, and I wasn’t totally comfortable with all the soccer mommies sitting behind us cackling with lascivious glee at 17-year-old Taylor Lautner, but the movie itself? Not terrible. Unlike the first one, there was actually some nice character development with Jacob Black, the occasional snappy line, and some pretty okay art direction (when the camera guy wasn’t trying to get too cute.) Unlike the first movie — of which 98% was comprised of Bella and Edward congratulating one another for being so hot — this one sort of had a plot. A pretty watchable one.

Don’t get me wrong, I gave myself an eye-rolling cramp from scorning the pox upon humanity that is Kristen Stewart and her mumbly scream-sobbing. And there were big plot holes. But it was better than 2012, and in this day and age, isn’t that really about the best we could hope for? So yeah. Doing stuff I think I’ll hate: sometimes a pretty okay idea. Thumbs up from this un-undead dude.

[Also, as I’ve once again wowed you with my pentameter, this might be an appropriate time to beamingly update you that I’ve now heard back from all of the poetry journals that I submitted to a few weeks ago, and announce that I was blessed with two rejections, and three acceptances! Yes! I just found out tonight that I have a sonnet forthcoming in Word Riot‘s May issue, and two more in the next issue of some journal nobody has ever heard of, but which I applied to because it had an awesome name. Eeeeeeee! TKOG: published poet.]

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NTKOG #63:The kind of girl who, walking down the street, just bursts into song and sings like nobody’s listening — even when they totally, totally are.

I am: embarrassed for two kinds of people who sing in public: those who think they’re good, and those who know they aren’t but do it anyway. (I’m in the latter camp.)

I am not: the only person who, when walking while listening to the iPod on a deserted street sings along. Right?!

The Scene: The mean, unmusical streets of Brighton, every night this evening. Usually when I walk the four blocks home from my bus stop, I’ll plug in my earbuds and sing along a bit to the music I’m listening to — every once in a while snapping around, just to make sure nobody’s following me within earshot. And of course clamming up the second anyone gets within a half-block radius of me.

This week, though? I didn’t stop singing. Not when people approached me, not when they were a few steps away and grew quizzical and concerned. Not even when they laughed right in my face.

All week I’ve been listening to my country music “he done me wrong” playlist (Hank Williams, Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline — and, yeah, some Dolly and Garth, not even ironically), and paranoid that bystanders on the T could overhear my embarrassing music. But two nights ago, as I walked home around 10pm, I sang along not loudly but with conviction to “Your Cheatin’ Heart” while walkin’ (not after midnight) maybe a quarter of a block behind an uptight i-banker type. And though he was the kind of cute guy I usually blush just to look at, and though he turned around a couple of times and cocked his head at me, I kept on singing.

After the song faded into a moment of silence before “(Play Another) Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” he slowed down to let me catch up with him. When we both paused to wait for the pedestrian walk light another short block later, he turned to me and opened his mouth. I slid out one earbud and he said, “So you’re pretty into your music,” and I told him, “It brings me joy,” and he smiled a little bit and I just put my earbud back in and waited for the light to change.

Of course, not everyone was so cool. Just a few minutes ago, walking home from Sister’s, I was singing along with Loretta Lynn’s “Harper Valley PTA,” trying to get my voice around a few of the slidier twangpeggios. A man was unloading a chest of drawers from the back of his SUV, but when I walked up, he put the chest of drawers down and just looked at me. I chose to believe this is because it’s one of the all-time gorgeous, funny country songs and made eye contact with him, broadening out my twang in a self-mocking showy way. Once I got a few steps past, he said to my retreating back, “You know people can hear you, right?”

I mean, I guess they can, sir, but I’m not convinced that’s such a bad thing.

The Verdict: It’ll be at least a few months before you’re reading about my Nashville debut — or before I sing anywhere other than the karaoke bar or my shower again — but this was liberating. My voice isn’t great, but it’s not terrible, and maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world if someone overhears me using it and enjoying it. I would never dream of intentionally inflicting my singing voice on someone else’s blessed silence (that stuff’s strictly for drunk undergrads. and the couple who lives above me and who occasionally, weirdly, wonderfully sings together while they’re having sex.), but if I accidentally do? It’s not going to trigger the apocalypse.

So this one is a mixed bag. I wouldn’t do it again on purpose or so flagrantly — ’cause, yeah, my heart absolutely froze with terror every time I saw someone coming and forced myself to keep croaking along — but at the very least, during my mostly solo late night rambles, I think I’ll dispense with the panicked look-arounds and keep enjoying this simple pleasure. Once again, for the most part nobody seemed to care when I broke this seemingly inviolable social law, so why not keep breakin’ it? Just like that trampy ho broke Mr. Williams’s non-cheatin’ heart.

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