You Are Not A Before

lucky-ad-2Are you a woman over the age of twelve? You should definitely be on a diet. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or a size 20, there is always weight to lose or maintenance to be done. How will you ever find love and succeed in the world, if you don’t know your daily caloric intake? It’s not just about beauty, of course, it’s also about health. Everyone knows that health is a number on a scale. Today is the first step in a journey! You are a before now, but soon you will be an after!

We’ve all heard this message. As women, society expects us to be on a never-ending quest for perfection. If it’s not fat to vanquish, it’s wrinkles or cellulite. This message, this unyielding refrain of “Be prettier, already!”, makes me want to find the nearest dried up lake, fill it with full fat chocolate pudding, then wallow in its sugary goodness until I seize and/or drown. I am, it seems, alone in that. Lately, my Facebook feed has been overrun with women in their late twenties on a “journey.” Friends, of all shapes and sizes, are posting caloric counts and exercise logs and—worst of all—before and after photos.

You’ve all seen these pictures. On the left, there is a somewhat/slightly/vaguely chubby woman glowering into a mirror, while on the right is that same woman turned into a glowing, smiling health angel. The caption is, always, thus:

“I never thought I’d share this photo, friends, but it’s time for me to be brave. This was me three years ago: fat, depressed, and deeply out of touch with my health. Through hard work and hours of dedication, I’ve taken control of my life. If that girl can do it, so can you!”

Just last week, one of my old school friends posted an eerily similar photo-and-caption combination. When we were younger, she was always one of the chubbier girls in our class—not morbidly obese or anything, just somewhat out of the norm—which all changed when she went to college. She became a nutrition major, an avid runner, and is currently getting her physical training licence. That is all fantastic! She found her raison d’être and is super happy in life! What’s not fantastic, however, is that she completely disavowed the person she was before. By calling herself an after and raising up a picture of her teenage self as proof of what she had overcome, it turned that girl I loved into a negative. She’s now an after, not a before. 

girlancientprejudiceremovedLThere, right there! That’s my problem with before-and-after photos and the sensationalism of weight loss in this era. Losing weight doesn’t and shouldn’t make you a different person. More over, being overweight does not make you a before. A woman is not a butterfly, waiting to emerge from a cocoon of shame, with just a little diet and exercise. You are a real person, have always been a real person, and will continue to be a real person until you die…no matter what you weigh.

While I completely understand and support people wanting to lose weight, because of either happiness or health issues, a scale number shouldn’t be what defines someone as worthy. By framing our body image in terms of before-and-after shots, I worry that we internalize the narrative that after is always better. Weight loss doesn’t make you a better person and it certainly doesn’t make you a different one. You may be more confident, able to shrug off negativity more easily, or happier in your own skin, but you are still Odette. Losing weight is not a woman’s one great accomplishment. If we look at it as such, we are encouraging women who are not in perfect shape to hide away from the world, because conventional beauty is the sole characteristic of a successful woman. The message does not become one of inspiration, but one of shame.

I think it’s wonderful to share accomplishments, especially ones you’ve worked so hard for, but maybe we need to check which ones we’re assigning highest value to . It’s okay to be unhappy at a size 18, but it’s also alright to be happy as one. There are more important things to you than skinny or chubby or gaunt or fat. Are you kind to other people? Are you pursuing a long held dream? Do you make really awesome apple pie? All of these things make you more worthy than fitting into tiny pants. I wish there were more people posting before-and-after shots of academic success or pie baking attempts. If I’m going to be an after someday, I want to be the after of literary success and dressmaking skills.

In the end, however, I don’t want to be an after. I want to be Grace, living her life. I am not Before-Grace, just as you are not Before-Odette. This day, this person you are right now, is just as important as the one you will become. Neither one should be judged by the size of her pants.

-Grace

The Apathetic Bride Weeps Over Mini-Quiche

001Last week, I had a meltdown. One minute I was calmly sitting in my office chair, returning e-mails, then the next I was sobbing like a fourteen year-old Taylor Swift fan—loudly, accompanied by flails.

This crying jag was, of course, brought on by pancakes. It’s totally normal to have a prolonged breakdown over fluffy breakfast foods, right? RIGHT? Fine, I concede. It was crazy and I lost my damned mind. There is only one thing to blame: the wedding.

My impending nuptials to Professor McGregor are making me have heart palpitations. It’s not that I’m worried about things going well, or stressed over what sort of quiche to serve, it’s that I don’t want to think about any of it. These aren’t Bridezilla moments, these are apathetic bridal nightmares. Sending the catering costs to my father made my want to jump off a tall bridge. Reading the word “tablescape,” as if it is a real, important thing to be concerned over—like the Sudan or whether or not to cut my own bangs—has me reaching for the hemlock. I want to get married, not plan an event.

And yet…apart from chucking the whole thing and eloping to Vegas, there’s no way to avoid it. People want to know what your colors are and how it’s all going and whether or not they can bring a plus one. Everyone wants to talk about our wedding, but it’s the last thing I want to dwell on. Because if I were honest with people, they’d be horrified. My bridal concerns, the things that keep me up at night and create untold numbers of tears, make me sound like an evil, ungrateful scalawag.

Naturally, I’m going to share them with you.

Wedding Things That Make Grace Cry: A List

  1. People RSVP-ing Yes -  Too many people love us. Throwing a wedding, and all that entails, has turned me into a person who actively wishes for people to dislike her. The more people who RSVP yes to this shindig, the more money we spend and the more people will be there to watch it go down. When we were initially drafting a guest list, I was super smug about my methodology, having a list of invitees and a running total of likely yeses. People, it turns out, are totally unpredictable. Maiden aunts we’d never considered attending have already bought plane tickets. Family friends are changing vacation plans around our wedding day. People are saying yes and are so excited about participating, but all I feel is nauseated, then guilty about feeling nauseated. If I post a bigoted political rant on Facebook, will my college friends bail out, at least?
  2. Having Events About Us - Part of getting married is being a rare and sparkling jewel. As a bride, you get not only a day of marriage, but wedding showers and bachelorette parties and lots of people wanting to hear about your plans. This makes me super uncomfortable. Professor McGregor and I fell in love and decided to spend our lives together, we didn’t cure cancer or hike across Antarctica in swimsuits. I didn’t do anything to deserve such attention! I wish there was a societal program, which allowed you to decide which major life events deserved epic parties. I’d choose first book deal and perfect macaron baking every time!
  3. The Cost of Mini-Quiche - Each mini-quiche produced costs $2. Apparently, those little egg pies are made not just of eggs and cheese,but gold passed through the digestive track of a rare Australian water ostrich. I never wanted to know this, darlings, but now I do. I also know the exact price of peppermint sticks, rented champagne flutes, and maple syrup. All of these numbers, swirling around my mind in a budgetary conga line, make me want to hurl. There is a reason I didn’t go into finance. Money stresses me out; spending vast quantities of it on one day stresses me out even more. As someone having a relatively modest & simple wedding, it boggles my mind what more mainstream brides must feel. Congress, won’t you do something about the inflation of mini-quiche?

If you need me, I’m just going to be over there in that corner, curled into a ball. Any wails you may hear are probably me, not actually a dying, rabid bat. I’m told this is totally normal behavior for a bride. When you’re planning The Happiest Day Of Your Life Ever, Including Major Career Milestones and Birth of Spawn, “happy” tears are natural.

- Grace

Changing Stylists: A Tragedy in Three Follicles

tumblr_lt0ke11AEw1qefkuro1_400Our first time was like a dream, all rainbows and anthropomorphized raccoons in resort wear. I was in need of guidance, of someone to take things in hand and assure me it was all going to be okay, when she appeared. Chatty, covered in tattoos, and with hair the color of Tabasco, she was my soul mate. We bonded quickly, both lovers of Dr. Who and internet meme Halloween costumes, but it was more than a surface connection. Jordan really understood me, in a way no one else had. We were together for five years—the loveliest, most carefree years of my life—until it ended.

Kittens, my hair stylist left me.

To be fair, she left hair styling in general, not just my specific mane. Last month, Jordan was in a Vespa accident, which she walked away from mostly unscathed—thank God—other than a wrist injury. She took the requisite time off of work, rescheduled clients and thought about life. It turns out, in fact, that she thought herself right out of one career and into another. My dear stylist is now pursuing homeopathic medicine, something she’s always been passionate about, and is out of the hair business.

On one hand, the nice rational left one, I’m thrilled for my friend. She’s finally using her degree, which I saw her work her ass off for, and pursuing her life’s great passion. On the other hand, that selfish bitchy right one, who is going to do my hair now!?

Let’s be honest, a woman’s hair stylist is more than just a service provider. If you go to the same stylist for years upon years, it becomes a friendship, one that is based on shared confidences and the extreme trust required to encourage a cackling woman wielding scissors to chop away. Y’all, I once let Jordan dye my hair red. I, the girl who has only ever been blonde and idolizes Grace Kelly to an unhealthy extent, said to her friend “Let’s have some fun! Want to do red today?” That’s utmost faith, darling. That’s also, it must be said, a bad idea when the majority of your wardrobe features pink and red.

I fucking love Jordan. The prospect of finding someone else to build that kind of relationship with is daunting. It feels like I’ve started dating again, after a decades long marriage that didn’t end in divorce, but a tragic bread machine accident. I am without stylist, adrift in a sea of bad highlights and dull conversation. I am, also, getting married in three months, so time is a’wasting.

While Jordan was out, I had my hair done by a colleague of hers who actually did an amazing job, but with whom there was no spark. She commented with a skeptical tone on my thick hair—which, yeah okay, there’s a crap ton of fine blonde locks happening over here, but it’s not like I grew it specifically to mess up her schedule—and let the conversation fizzle out awkwardly. It was all totally fine, but it was four hours of discomfort and tedium, instead of laughter and camaraderie.

I don’t just want my hair done, kittens, I want witty repartee and discussions of world travel. I want a Whovian who knows her way around foil and has the best kooky mother-in-law stories. I WANT SOMEONE TO CLONE JORDAN, SO THAT MY HAIR CAN BE PRETTY FOREVER AND I DON’T HAVE TO CHAT WITH A STRANGER ABOUT HER CHILDHOOD PET WOMBAT. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

Sigh. I might be taking this too hard.

- Grace

The Apathetic Bride Cheats at Cards

MailboxSurprise_GilElvgrenDarlings, I have seen the light. It is rubbery and comes in all the colors of the rainbow.

It’s also sold on Etsy, so get your mind out of the gutter. Last I checked, crafters weren’t hawking organic woodland creature vibrators yet. Though, if they were, I think we can all agree that one would be called “Foxxxy Lady,” because people can’t resist a good pun. What I’m actually here to buzz about today—It was too easy!—is something infinitely more pedestrian: a stamp.

People adore handing out wedding advice to newly engaged couples. Don’t tell them, but most of it is useless. So much about a wedding ends up being individual to the couple—by luck of venue choice, season of the year, or budget—and thus can’t really be prepared for with a handy one-liner from your neighbor’s mother. There is only one piece of advice that I’m planning to actively follow, as it came from my wise and reasonable friend, Girl on the Contrary. “Write thank-you notes as the gifts come, grasshopper” she said to me, over a giant plate of brisket.

That makes so much sense! The last thing I want to do is arrive back from our honeymoon, only to be faced by a mountain of 200 thank you notes waiting to be written. My hand hurts just thinking about it! So, I’m resolved to write them immediately upon receipt of gift.

Only…I’ve also already had to address Save The Dates, which was a giant pain, plus the invitation suites are looming. Is there no way to save myself from bridal carpal tunnel? Won’t someone think of my metacarpals!?

Someone did. Darlings, you can buy a self-inking return address stamp. Do you know how much writing that saves? On the invitation suites alone, you have to write “Professor McGregor & Grace O’Kelly, 100 Curmudgeon Lane, Not Austin, TX  666-66″ at least twice per invite. It’s the most tedious thing ever. So…buy a stamp. Seriously, if you do one thing I tell you to in your lifetime, make it the purchase of return address stamp.il_570xN.415978758_s0we

I bought the above one, from Rubber Stamp Press on Etsy, and I absolutely adore it. If Professor McGregor hadn’t asked me first, I’d probably marry this thing. It leaves a super clean imprint, legitimately looks hand written/fancy, and is so much fun to use. I stamped 10 sheets of paper, when it first arrived, just so I could use it. Even better, if you’re still in a name-changing quandary, this particular one doesn’t use last names. It can be used forever, even if you eventually decide to become Mrs. Ethel Frankenbaum-Woo. There are thousands of these available on Etsy, however, so the choices are endless. You can get one with penguins on it, symbolizing your shared love of arctic fowl, or one that looks elegantly minimalist.

If you want to spend as little time preparing for this wedding hoopla as possible, get a stamp. They are cheap and they are wonderful. I’ve named mine Archibald and swear to love him forever. That’s good practice for the actual wedding, right?

Approaching Thirty With String Cheese

936full-gil-elvgrenI’m almost thirty.

This is not a fact I’m comfortable saying out loud. And yet…on Labor Day, I turned twenty-eight. I’m about to be married, have only a dissertation left between me and my last degree, and am pretty sure that my cells are dying at a faster rate than they’re replenishing. Late twenties, I am in you.

As such, I’m technically classified as an adult. We all know this is ludicrous, of course. Adult women don’t regularly board themselves into their offices, just because there’s a roach with talons roaming the house. They kill it with their bare hands, then get back to making deals, taking names, and—fuck all, I don’t know—sewing heirloom quilts or something. I was pretty sure that, when I finally made it to technical adulthood, some know-how would kick in. I’d be a-okay with doing the hard jobs and consuming five vegetables a day. My house would be spotless, since my loins would suddenly yearn to vacuum, and I’d take daily runs to keep my heart healthy.

That theory was, obviously, bunk. Kittens, I just ate a lunch that consisted solely of Coke Zero and string cheese. While sitting on the couch at noon. In a Reptar t-shirt.

What I’ve actually become really good at is pretending how to be an adult. You may know that I’m Cher Horowitz with a macaron addiction, but the world still thinks I understand what a 401k is. Masquerading as a grown-up is my jam. As such, I have some sage advice for other people who find themselves unexpectedly aged.

  1. Love Someone Older – I can’t stress this one enough. If you are at all concerned about your abilities to be a fully grown human, fix your affections on someone older and wiser. My dear professor is three years my elder—entrenched in his thirties for a whole year—and makes up for my youthful shortcomings. Like, that time when a giant roach disappeared in our house and he looked over at me from the kitchen, said in a soothing voice “Grace darling, please get up calmly and lock yourself in your office,” then killed the bastard on our ceiling right above where my head had previously been. His years have taught him bug zen and how to hang picture frames!
  2. Buy A Rug – You have your own dwelling! Woohoo! It’s time to decorate that habitat. Only, in order to do all that stuff from HGTV—painting, redoing cabinets, recovering sofas, making papier mâché llama heads—you have to spend a lot of cash. As you’re in your twenties and working some crappy starter job/finishing school, that’s probably not something you can handle. Instead, do all that other stuff slowly and just buy a rug. As a wise man once said, rugs really tie a room together. Slap some paint on the wall, buy a cheap rug from Amazon, and enjoy how adult your dairy-stained college couches look atop it.
  3. Learn How To Make a Souffle – Adults know how to cook. The ability to feed yourself is Survival 101: Emerging From the Goo stuff. In the event that you’re secretly eating Whataburger every night, there’s still hope. Learn how to make one really complicated dish, like a chipotle pork souffle, which you can whip up for parties. Your friends will marvel over your amazing culinary skills, while you can binge on cheese sticks in peace! This also works for hobbies. If you pick up a somewhat difficult hobby, like sewing or jai alai, people will think you way more competent at other life skills. Hildegarde can sew a dress, right? I’m sure we can trust her with our tiny spawn! She’d never feed it Pop Tarts and cover it in pure corn syrup!
  4. Wear Cardigans – If there’s anything I’ve learned from copious hours watching makeover shows, it’s this: layering is the closest thing we have to Harry Potter magic. Does that dress seem boxy? Cardigan! Want to wear a tank top to your adult dinner party, but worried about that giant iCarly logo? Cardigan! Need something that says I am a fancy lady who wears pearls, but don’t have the money for pearls? Card-i-gan! My closet is half sweaters, even though I live in TX. Some call this ridiculous, I call this being a grown up.
  5. Call Pest Control – Sometimes, houses get bugs. Sometimes, as I may have mentioned, these bugs are terrifying. Even worse, sometimes you wake up to find the plastic bag full of fresh baked “It’s Fall, Despite The Sweltering Outside Temperature!” ginger snaps gnawed through. All this, even though you faithfully clean the kitchen every night and used a Ziploc bag, like a damned adult. You will want to faint, which is totally cool, but when you wake from that stupor…call a pest man. After all, the real key to being an adult is knowing when to call in the experts.

Or, better yet, have your mature beloved from Sparkling Piece of Advice # 1 call them, as you whimper from the next room “There’s a mouse in the house…the house…the house…”

- Grace

Addendum: Professor McGregor would like me to add that, despite what one might think from how often I’ve mentioned that roach, we don’t live in a pest-ridden hovel. It’s a perfectly charming 1950s hacienda in a perfectly charming octogenarian-filled neighborhood. We grow lilies!* We have a Wedgewood blue sitting room! We are not living in heathenish squalor, Aunt Gilda, I promise.

*Well, to be strictly honest, we’re not growing them, so much as not actively killing the ones planted by the previous owner.

A Kick In The Cake Balls

cakeballsScrew the cake ball.

I’m sorry, that came off poorly. Screw the fucking cake ball. Darling readers, today I need to get something off my chest. Namely, the gross ganache covered bits of mushy cake mush that people keep trying to pass off as wedding cake.

These days, brides are doing all we can to be original. That makes a certain amount of sense. After all, you want your wedding to reflect the perfect, sparkly love that you and your darling darlingkins feel for each other’s naughty bits. Ergo, everything should be unique to you, including the cake! Why have plain, old wedding cake, when you can have something super cool like cake balls? Cake is for the olds. You and your darlingkins are young and hip and have a love like mushy cake mush. It is beautiful, non?

Non.

Kittens, regular cake is delicious. It comes in all sorts of flavors, is pretty to look at, delicious to eat, and covered in frosting. Why mess with a good thing? When people come to weddings, they expect wedding cake. It’s part of the fun! As a guest, I look forward to nothing so much as the end of the meal and subsequent cake unveiling. Will it be a lovely white cake covered in butter cream? Will the bride show her rebellious side and choose German chocolate? The possibilities are endlessly delicious! As long as it’s not covered in fondant sugary cardboard, the cake and I are compadres.

So, when people delete the cake altogether, my spleen starts a’twitching. It began with cupcakes, which at least retained the genre. They were smaller, but still had frosting! Acceptable. But then—then, kittens!—I attended a wedding with ice cream sundaes and another with fruit tarts. Raj and Griselda may have called them funnel cakes, but everyone knows that’s just another name for spidery donuts. The wedding cake, classic and delightful, is becoming an endangered species.

Cake balls are, in my book, the worst offenders. They dress themselves up as cake, with frosting and crumbling centers and dainty decorations, but they fail on every level. In order to get cake into a photogenic little ball, one must destroy it. The cake batter is made unnaturally gooey, so it can be properly scooped, then half-baked and covered in sugary cement. How does that sound appetizing? If I wanted crunchy mush balls, I’d eat a deep fried Twinkie. Cake was not meant to be scooped! It’s belittling to such a noble, respected pastry. Cake, my dear ground squirrels, should be cut—whether into slices or squares, I leave to you—but never, not ever, attacked with a spoon.

Further more, it should not be miniscule. Cake does not exist to be tiny and cute, but to bring comfort and diabetic comas. I don’t want a small ball of it on a decorative toothpick, instead of a sizable slice that requires a fork. Where are the people clamoring for less cake? Your bridesmaids did not don Spanx underneath those taffeta monstrosities, in order to eat small amounts of pastry goo. Only dessert communists would want to ration the joy.

I may not care about much, when it comes to my own wedding, but the people will have cake! More specifically, they will have cakes. We couldn’t make up our minds at the tasting—because cake is, as we’ve covered, delicious—so we’re having three. Wedding guests, I’d wear the stretchy pants, come December.

- Grace

I Miss The City, Roach Friend

movingA funny thing happens, when you fall in love. You start spending as much time as possible together—cooking lovely meals, educating your beloved on Mean Girls because he’s somehow never seen it, and gazing happily into each other’s corneas. It’s delightful. It is also the first step on the path to that great relationship milestone: living together.

Professor McGregor and I, much to the scandal of his grandmothers, have reached this sinful destination. We are living together. Since his job is tied to being at a certain university, I made the move. Armed with boxes of books and novelty fabrics, I trekked the 90 miles up Interstate 35 and into Professor McGregor’s delightful 1950s bungalow. This also meant leaving the wonderful, eclectic city I grew up in for a blue collar crossroads town of about 80,000 people. Cue the cultural shellshock. I quite like our little town, but it has been a change.

Readers, I miss Persian food.

That may actually be an understatement. Readers, I would sell my soul and half of my pre-censorship Nancy Drew collection for some sour cherry rice and properly made flat bread. When the dear professor and I go out to eat, we have three options: Mexican food (because this is Texas, not the hinterlands), Italian food, or American food. That’s it! If it’s from an Eastern continent, forget about it. Only heathens would want to eat curry! Saffron is the spice of the very, very delicious devil!  I’m now one of those people who, when traveling, insists on eating things I can’t get at home. Upon visiting Kate last weekend, I even turned down my beloved Dallas street taco place, because surely there was something more exotic. Namely: German food, French sandwiches, and my weight in pastries.

That’s alright, though, really. The professor is a pretty wonderful cook and has promised to make foreign foods for me. At least, my new town has good grocery stores and other places to pick up things on a whim. Except, of course, anything that looks like an upscale beauty store. You know all that fancy makeup we’ve waxed poetic about on Spinsters? I have to order it online. Along with my shampoo and detangler and cardigans and pants and thread, because even the JoAnn Fabrics here is small and terrifying. I’m pretty sure it’s staffed by quilted gargoyles, not humans. When I asked for Swedish tracing paper last week, one of them growled at me. The days of fashion emergencies—”This outfit will only work with a ribbon-trimmed puce skirt!”—are gone. If Target or Loft doesn’t have it, I’m out of luck.

You know what we do have, instead? Giant effing roaches, like the one that just now crawled in our house from the back porch, when I opened the sliding door. Sure, the city has roaches, but they aren’t allowed to get chihuahua sized! I swear to God this one is five inches long and wearing fingers. As I am sitting here, boarded into my office, it’s out there in the living room waiting for me. It’s because I bought that bug throw pillow, isn’t it? The roach is punishing me for cultural misappropriation.

If Professor McGregor doesn’t get home soon, I’m either going to die of thirst or brave the walk to the kitchen, be surprised by the mutant roach, scream, and have it fly into my mouth. Upon whence, I will die of a terror-induced heart attack. This is life away from the big city.

This is love.

- Grace

I Got 99 Problems, But a Bat Ain’t One

batman_cryingInternet, you’re in a dark place. It’s been a really rough week for you, I get it. First, Kimye’s baby turned out to be not a tabloid mâché doll, then N*SYNC both implied and denied VMA reunion rumors. That kind of stress can be hard to deal with. So, it’s no wonder that you proceeded to flip shit over the news that Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman. You just wanted to see him out that door, baby, bye bye bye!

Still, I think it’s time to simmer down. Is Ben Affleck a left field choice for Batman? Of course. It’s hard to envision him as a superhero and not immediately run screaming for the Febreeze, thanks to that flaming pile of choleric donkey waste, Daredevil. However, I think you’re missing the point. Batman v. Superman was never going to be good. They could reanimate the corpse of Cary Grant, cast him as Batman, then guarantee a 3D nude scene. It still wouldn’t save this movie.

It’s going to be wretched. Let’s discuss why!

Batman v. Superman: Y’all, it’s called Batman versus Superman. That’s right, the plot of the movie is right there in the title: the Man of Steel fights against the Man of Rubber Nipples. There could not be a more trite movie concept. Here, I’ll write the screenplay myself:

Superman: Gee willikers! Something bad is happening in Gotham! I better get down there and save the day.
Batman: Hey, Tights McGee, this is my turf. Also: RACHEL!
Superman: I don’t know, Mister. You seem to have pretty outlandish methods. Someone is bound to get hurt!
Batman: This is Gotham. They’ve already been frozen, nerve gassed, and poisoned by evil plant venom. I think they can handle my scary gun. Back off.
Superman: You shoved me! That’s a challenge!
Batman: Sure is, Martian Man.
Lex Luther: LOOK A REAL BAD THING IS NOW HAPPENING, BECAUSE YOU TWO WERE TOO BUSY FIGHTING. EVIL CACKLE!
Superman and Batman: Let’s work together reluctantly!

Yes, Warner Brothers, I am available for hire. I’ll even throw in a homoerotic training montage just for funsies. Zach Snyder will get to go all 300 with it!

Zach Snyder, himself: Look, as soon as they attached Snyder to direct, this movie was all over. Snyder has never, not ever, made a reasonably edited film. This movie will be forty-five minutes too long, filled with “meaningful character development” scenes that solely consist of brooding looks, and will be topped off with glowing alien genitalia. That’s how he rolls! Let’s count ourselves lucky that he can’t spray anyone with CGI gold body paint in this one.

The Batman Voice: Do we really have to discuss this one? It exists and it is awful. It’s also so embedded in the audience’s expectations that it must be kept for continuity’s sake. Hooray! Also: RACHEL!

aquaman-postersDolphin Erotica: It’s common knowledge in Geekland that Batman v. Superman is trying to accomplish one thing: set-up an eventual Justice League movie to rival Marvel’s success with The Avengers. That’s awesome and all, but have you actually seen the original Justice League members? Sure, there are the cool kids like Batty and the Flash, but the league also features Martian Manhunter (He’s a big green martian who hunts criminals! He’s just as lame as he sounds!) and Aquaman.

Aquaman.

The blonde dude who speaks to sea creatures and wears scales. AQUAMAN! The most non-terrifying superhero who’s ever existed. “Oh no! Don’t sic the dolphins on me, Aquaman! I’ll only…move onto dry land where they can’t get me.”

Honestly, after certain studies in the 50s showed just how much dolphins love love humans, I’m surprised this dude isn’t permanently pushed into the background. We know what you’re saying to those porpoises, Aquaman, and we are not amused! Sexual harassment harms marine mammals too!

karlKarl Urban: Finally, we have the real problem with this movie. Karl Urban was supposed to be cast as Batman, but had to decline due to scheduling issues. You see, it’s not that Affleck is going to be a bad Batman, it’s only…he’s not Karl Urban. There is no gleam in his eye or rugged cut to his jaw! He doesn’t have the same delightfully sarcastic delivery! He’s not a Kiwi! Karl Urban could have, just maybe, done what zombie Cary Grant couldn’t even accomplish now: save this damned movie.

As it is, I’ll be bringing my animal crackers to this one. Maybe if I throw enough of them at the screen, they’ll get the hint and switch to Armageddon halfway through? At least, in that awful Affleck flick, he wasn’t wearing rubber tights.

- Grace

I Am Here To Suck Your Blood (and Culture Wars)

12129__1gellar_lToday, my secret was unleashed on the world. One of my college friends writes a book blog and, in today’s post, casually mentioned me. Not, much to my chagrin, as that up-and-coming writer or the girl who threw amazing Halloween parties, but as something altogether worse. I am the girl who gave her Twilight, pronounced it “SO GOOD,” and temporarily ruined YA literature for her in the process.

That’s right, chickens. I once liked Twilight.

A lot. I felt about Twilight the way Liberace felt about sequins: utterly beguiled. The story of Bella & Edward made my heart fucking jitterbug, y’all. Reading it, I laughed and cried and smiled over the triumph of vampy love. When I was done—less than twenty-four hours after picking it up—I loaned it to every girl I knew. Since these were the Halcyon days before “Robsten” and “I Drive Like A Cullen” bumper-stickers, there were quite a few people to receive my fangirl gospel. I told them it was the best book ever, forced it into their hands, and waited to share in its glory.

I am totally mortified about this. I am, also, not. Have I since completely rejected the series? Yes, indeed. The feminist in me, much stronger than she was at age nineteen, hates wimpy wet crumpet, Bella. I think vampires should explode, when exposed to sunlight, and that there are only two reasons a 100 year-old dude marries a teenager: mommy issues or too many nights watching Deep Throat. Either way, not my dream date. Twilight is problematic on both a craft level—one more damned adverb, and E.B. White would have reanimated and gone on a head-bludgeoning rampage—and as a thematic representation of genre. I don’t like it.

And, yet…it seems disingenuous to malign Twilight the way I have in past years. Hype and hindsight have destroyed my love of it, yes, but there was once love. The writing isn’t wonderful and the characterizations put teenage girls back a good fifty years, but so many readers have responded to it for a reason. So, is it just that vampires are foxy? Or that young women like escapist fiction, because our brains are wee and mushy? Those are the easy (read: offensive) answers people like to argue. The more I think about it, the more I think there is something redeeming in Stephenie Meyer’s series, just as there is in all popular fiction.

Getting millions of readers to feel for your characters is no easy feat. People don’t stand in three-day lines or tattoo book quotes on their bodies for every vampire novel that comes out. Meyer’s strength is, perhaps, just that: triggering strong emotion. Similarly, Dan Brown really is excellent at plotting and James Patterson paces books brilliantly. I don’t think they’re the best writers ever, but they also aren’t as bad as most of us literary snobs make them out to be. Things aren’t popular because readers are weak-minded, they’re popular because readers care.

It shouldn’t be embarrassing to care. You can like popular fiction and still be an intelligent, thoughtful person. My own bookshelves are proof that pink covers can peacefully coexist with scientific tomes. Neither is inherently better. I sincerely don’t love Twilight anymore, but I do love what it once sparked in me. Passion for the printed word should be celebrated, not reviled.

Yes, my dear Mr. White, even if that word ends in -ly.

- Grace

Selling Sludge to Friends and Strangers: A Guide

beauty-avon-cropswscan10219Hello there, Turboganic Wondergoo partner! We at the Turboganic Wondergoo Alliance of Toronto have heard your pleas. TWAT, you said to us, I know how awesome Wondergoo is, but selling it to lesser mortals is so hard. People just don’t recognize quality sludge when it’s advertised to them! How can I make them listen?

We know, plumpkin. It’s a battle! But you didn’t get in the Wondergoo business, because you liked the easy road, did you? No, you got into it because you are passionate. Wondergoo has made you a better mom, sister, dog walker, and human. You sell it, because you care. And since we care about you, we’ve come up with this handy sales pitch template. Simply fill in the details of your intended victim customer, and—voila!—a practically guaranteed Wondergoo sale. Send it to all of your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and random e-mail contacts! Spread the goo gospel, partner!

Dear [Facebook friend you haven't seen in 10 years],

Hey girl! How are you doing up in [horrid locale]? I was so excited to see that you [got engaged/had a tiny person/finally got those growths removed]. It’s so awesome that you [landed a man despite your tics/were allowed to procreate/don't have to wear turtlenecks anymore]. I’ve really missed your smile!

6a0105356c398f970c0115700781f6970c-piIt occurred to me that someone at your stage in life could use a hand, however. It can be hard to [please a man/raise a child/monitor new growths] and maintain expected female beauty standards. Looking at pictures, it seems like you are having just as much trouble as the average woman! Never fear, though. I have just the solution for you. Have you ever heard of Turboganic Wondergoo?

It may be hard to believe, given my shiny locks and perfect chin, but I too once struggled with such things. Not to your extent, of course, but my feet did smell sometimes. That was before I discovered Turboganic Wondergoo, of course. A substance—some call it, affectionately, a sludge—made from the waste byproduct of rare undersea cave snails, Wondergoo is truly a miraculous cure-all. It can clear up blotchy skin, melt unwanted pounds, erase butterfly tramp stamps, beautifully curl nipple hair, and even attract men with its pleasant musk. Why, in your tough case, I bet it would even do all five!

Nevermore do you have to be embarrassed about your, let’s be honest, troll-like self. Slather a little Turboganic Wondergoo on your problem areas and you’ll be transformed! The naturally occurring nutrients in undersea cave snail waste byproduct will leach into your poor, ravaged cells and completely redecorate. The USDA has been slow to approve Turboganic Wondergoo, just because a few people’s lady bits fell off, so the only way to get this miracle product is through licensed sellers like myself. If you’re interested, send me a quick e-mail, and I’ll set up a personal Turboganic Wondergoo consultation for you.

arts-graphics-2005_1159686aOnce you discover the joys of Wondergoo, you’ll want to spread the gospel, trust me. Luckily for you, I also do Wondergoo dinner events and bachelorette parties. Nothing says [ready for marriage/moderately adequate parent/goiter-free] like a goo party! Even better, if you decide to host a party, you’ll get a one month supply of goo and a battery-operated internal goo spreader absolutely free. Such a deal, right?

I have open phone appointments all next week, but they’re going fast. Don’t be the only [bride/mom/creature] on your block without Wondergoo!

With goo and love,

[Becca]

That’s it, Wondergoo Gal! Take this easy template, send it to every person you’ve ever met, and you’re all set. Don’t forget, the top three sellers from our region will win an all expenses paid trip to the 2013 Turboganic Wondergoo Sales Conference in sunny Orlando! Don’t you want to meet the other up-and-coming goo businesswomen? Then, get selling, darling!

- TWAT Team

(Written by Grace, who has received one too many Advocare/Rodan-Fields/Herbalife emails lately.)