Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Being American

I never understood it.

I'm first generation American. I grew up with my grandmother talking about "those Americans" and trying to understand why my mother's ideas about manners and grammar were so different from those of my friend's parents. The only presidential elections I was old enough to participate in were both sore disappointments for me personally, but also difficult and frustrating experiences for the entire nation. I have traveled to other countries and started conversations with, "I didn't vote for him." I have groused about my irritation that my parents chose to move here before having me, robbing me of what I felt would have been a more interesting life in another country. I have complained about feeling that my government did not represent me, had nothing in common with me. I have often worried that my fellow Americans were apathetic and didn't know how to think globally.

And now I get it.

Sitting in my mom's living room and crying at the joy of listening to a leader who I am proud to hear speak, a leader who - like me - has a foreign born parent. A leader who is so quintessentially American in that he genuinely represents a huge cross section of our population and has a more wide and global "melting pot" perspective than I could have ever hoped for in a U.S. President.

Driving home and looking up at the stars in an unusually clear sky and feeling faith in the people I am surrounded by. That they care. That, no matter who they voted for, they VOTED. So many people were motivated to participate in this election. Instead of the immobile masses I had imagined, I felt hope that I live in a country where people may really care what happens - and can actually make a difference and enact change in their world by participating.

For the first time in my life I understand why people have a fervent passion for this country. I understood the ideas before. What being a United States Citizen was supposed to mean and what this country represents. But tonight I FELT it for the first time. Tonight, watching Barack Obama speak to the nation, I felt I was a part of it for the first time.

If my grandmother were still alive, I'd tell her that from now on, she would have to say "you Americans" instead of "those Americans," because I finally understand why my parents wanted to be here.

Tonight I am so glad that I am.

I Just Voted Because of the Issues

...but they ARE moving words and the action he is able to inspire gives me greater faith in people and their capacity for hope.

You know, I never saw this? I didn't even know about this video until was interviewed on CNN amidst the election coverage.

I am so happy tonight.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Believe

I believe in a higher power. I believe a social conscience is more than just bleeding-heart crap, it's a way of life and a better manner of existing. I believe that animals have emotions. I believe that books have some sort of life of their own because stories are absolutely magic to me. I believe that something about our planet will always be damaged and hell bent for destruction until the people of every nation learn to think globally. I still believe in my heart of hearts that my father is 10 feet tall and can do anything. I believe that my sister will love me no matter what I do. I believe that love is a holy state of being. I believe that the ordinary can be transcendent and alive with possibility. I believe in saying please and thank you. I believe that men who hold the door for you are just better to be around. I believe that we miss too much when we sleep. I believe in being honest but never cruel.

I believe so very very many things.

But today I have decided that I absolutely believe in Internet Karma.

I get in these moods. These manic dear-god-does-anyone-love-me freak out moods where I check email every ten minutes. I don't do it all the time. It's not a constant compulsion. I do this maybe once a month, but when I get like this it's frantic and obsessive and I cannot seem to stop myself and it ALWAYS happens on a day when no one happens to be emailing me so I become convinced that no one is speaking to me. It's mad. It never lasts for more than a few hours but it's completely irrational and I think it's an unhealthy reaction to the constant influx of information that we simply aren't equipped for because technology is evolving faster than we are.

But there it is. I do this. Every now and then. And I was talking to my baby sister about this and she pointed out to me that she had just emailed me the day before - and I had not responded. And she's right. Most of the time I just don't care that much about email and I read what people send me quickly and then I move on with my day - often being too rude and self-focused to respond, to let them know I got their message.

And then I stop getting emails from OTHER UNRELATED PEOPLE. Not even the same people. Not people who know each other. It's like the universe decides to teach me a lesson. But I don't always notice at first.

Then I have one of my days. And it hits me that no one has emailed me in like 24 hours so clearly EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE has stopped speaking to me and I become distraught. Despondent. Limp and unmanageable.

Then I think about the people I have made feel this way. And sure enough - perusing my in box reveals several ignored missives! So I reply to all of them and - I am not kidding - within ten minutes I start to hear from the other people I was waiting to hear from. It's completely bizarre. But it happened to me today. I sent off email responses to my baby sister, an old friend from high school and my aunt. Minutes later I had heard from a theater friend who had not been getting back to me for weeks, a friend I know from Florida and another person I had lost track of ages ago. Unrelated people. Who could not possibly have ever met, much less be calling each other to say, "Oh, you can email her now. She's finally responded to my question from last week. She's learned her lesson."

Proof. Interweb Karma. I know I've written about it before but today was just WEIRD. Not something to build a faith on or anything but further proof of how strange life is and how long-existing concepts can be reprocessed and re-imagined through the miracle of technology.

I totally believe.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Embracing Age

Sometimes I feel like my youth is lost. My best times are behind me and I am just going to go downhill from here. Then I see something like this thing on Yahoo and am reminded of how so many women - as they find themselves, as they grow as individuals, as they learn to love themselves - improve with age. I mean, these are movie stars... but most of them look BETTER as older women. I realize I'm not a guy and all that... but not only would I rather have a conversation with the mature version of these women, I think their mature selves are more physically attractive.

I've always thought that age and experience make people more interesting. Other people. It's harder to apply this to one's self. But my face was soft and without character when I was younger and now, very very slowly, it is developing more character, my bone structure is becoming more pronounced, my countenance is less child-like. I may actually be improving.

Admittedly, I didn't look like Diane Lane when I was 20. So I won't look like her when I'm 40. But I still think these photos bode well for all of us.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Late Night Thinking

Life is strange. Obvious, right? I probably spend far too much time thinking about it. I find the paths our lives take fascinating, although I believe very strongly in the control we have over those paths. I don't think things are meant to happen or in destiny in the way many people do. I think you make the life you want while working with the circumstances you are given. When you make a choice, you open new doors and you close other ones. And you'll never know which life you might have lived, what you've given up or what you might have missed if you hadn't chosen this door. I also believe that disasters and forced change are like the universe's sometimes horrific way of creating. Not everything that comes of a disaster or a personal tragedy is bad. There are usually strange places that difficult times take you that add to your life or change who you are in important ways.

I can say this. I have survived plenty. I have lived through all manner of personal horrors. I have learned to embrace change. It's the only thing you can count on. Whether life is wonderful or terrible, it's all temporary. It will all change and eventually we will all be dead so there's nothing to do but accept it and make it work for you.

Sometimes I feel like I live within the eye of a storm. A whirlwind of change. Change that happens to me and change that I create. Chaos and reason in constant cycles and struggles.

I'm working on the particulars for a wedding. A very important wedding. It was less than two months ago that I called off my own nuptials and right now I am sitting in my living room staring at a little statue of a bride and groom. I am making the cake topper for my best friend's wedding which is only a month away. Sometimes I feel like I am living a very strange stream-of-consciousness film. It would take a tremendous editor to try to explain the point to all this. The ups and downs. The people that come and go and come back again...

And how I ended up here, painting tiny roses on the side of a little wedding gown.

Life is so very, very strange.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 Items or Less

I love Brad Silberling. He wrote and directed Moonlight Mile and 10 Items or Less. Moonlight Mile wrecks me. Using a similarly senseless and sudden loss in his own life as his inspiration, Siberling weaves this tapestry of grief and the human condition. His characters are all experiencing and expressing and coping with grief in ways that are almost difficult to watch because it is all so real. The illogical things you do. The way you get lost and don't remember why you walked into that room. The strangeness you feel when you learn you can still laugh or when you laugh at all the wrong times. The anger, the absurdity, the oddity of acknowledging the horrific thing that has happened right there in the midst of your world. And most shattering of all, the way life keeps moving on and stores keep opening and the mail gets delivered and new people come into your life and this horrible thing happened... yet nothing stops. And somehow in the midst of all of this - the film is hopeful.

It's clever, warm and strikingly spot on.

It's not at all what I wanted to write about tonight.

10 Items or Less I saw more recently. Morgan Freeman plays a sucessful older actor who hasn't worked in a few years. He's considering a role in a small independent film as the manager of a grocery store - so he gets dropped off at an out of the way supermarket to do research. Watch the locals. Get into the mindset of the store manager (this leads to a brilliant scene in which Morgan Freeman follows the diminutive, older Indian character actor Kumar Pallana around the store, mimicking his every move - HILARIOUS AND AWESOME). At the register Freeman (listed in the film's credits only as "Him") meets Paz Vega's character, Scarlett. She runs the ten items or less line. A frustrating, thankless job. She's too smart to be stuck doing this work but is struggling to find the self-confidence to get out.

Basically, they both have problems. Like we all do. And some of those problems are the ones it's just hard to see clearly on your own. So when they get stuck spending the day together (Freeman gets stranded at the shop and Vega begrudgingly offers him a ride) they both need some outside perspective. They spend one day together. Doing the most mundane things you can think of. The set up is so gloriously ordinary. The veteran actor raving about how amazing Target is. Gorgeous Paz Vega pulling a sandwich from a rumpled paper Arby's bag. And it's wonderful and strange. In the midst of it they are talking and learning about each other and helping each other do things. And eventually you are left feeling that just MAYBE they have changed each others lives.

In the midst of their day running around fixing problems and talking about everything, there is this one conversation in particular that they have that I just loved. Vega says that everyone wants more than ten items. No one is happy with ten. No one wants to give anything up. They talk about what they would get rid of if they could remove ten things from their lives. Then, more telling, they talk about the ten best things in their lives. What they would keep if they could only keep ten things. It's a wonderful scene. The "things" aren't just things. They are parts of life, moments, things you do, parts of their worlds. The ten best things. The things that, if everything else was gone, would be enough.

I loved that.

Ten things to rid yourself of is easy. But only keeping ten. Ten things. A simple life made up of it's ten best parts. What would you choose? What would that life be?

It's an intimate list and it's difficult to be honest and I think it's probably one of those conversations it would be easier to have with a stranger. Someone not invested in your world. Someone you could just TELL - give that truth to and then walk away and not have to admit to the rest of the world what really matters to you. Deep down. When it comes right down to it.

I have been working on my list in my head. Things. Places. The way certain things feel. People I couldn't live without. Ten items. Or less.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I live in a college town. And it's that time of year again.

So today I heard the following conversation near campus:

guy: "So, yeah. I started drinking at like 7pm Friday and didn't stop until 3am Monday."

girl: "Do you feel okay?"

guy: "oh, yeah. I'm fine... but by Sunday I was physically incapable of getting drunk."

girl: (without a trace of irony) "...But you tried, right???"


Fall just wouldn't be the same without the annual influx of brilliant teenagers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How Much is Too Much

I wrote the following a few months ago, in the midst of the turmoil at my job. Rereading it, I felt like it was worth saying. PLUS if I'm ever going to put it up, it should be now - before I finish my redesign and such. So - now that's it's actually safe to post it without fear of legal action - here it is:


In our daily lives we make sacrifices. We make compromises. Because the world doesn't always work the way you want it to, because sometimes your needs outweigh your principles. Because there are often more people effected by a decision than simply ourselves.

Right now I am deciding whether or not to remain at my job.

There are little things, but there are always little things. Every job has imperfections and these are acceptable, because every environment has it's faults.

But there is also a very large problem. One that I can no longer ignore.

Last Friday a co-worker confronted me in a threatening manner over a minor misunderstanding. The essentially one-way conversation involved an angry tirade and an implied physical threat. This is not the first time this person has exploded at someone. He has yelled at me before. He has cursed out our receptionist. Attempting to intimidate his co-workers is a part of how he interacts. This past Friday is the first time I have seen him actually go so far as to threaten someone.

I have formally lodged a complaint with my employer. Due to the serious illness of a close family member of my employer's, I am trying to understand his need for a few days to sort this out. It has not yet been addressed. I cannot imagine there being any sufficient response other than the firing of this man. I cannot understand why this man still works here, other than the fact that he simply has a great deal of knowledge that we need access to. I do not know what my employer is going to do.

I cannot afford to be unemployed. There is little available in my field in town. I don't really want to move, at least, not right now.

Every moment I sit here, waiting for my employer to do the right thing and worrying that he won't - I feel like I'm sacrificing pieces of myself.

People who know me would be surprised that I let someone rip into me. More surprised if they saw the way I cowered, mumbling agreement with anything he said, just praying he would leave if I didn't argue. Hoping that if I agreed with him he wouldn't hit me. I tend to be an aggressive person. I've learned to be that way. Most of the time it works, most of the time it kicks in when I need it and it protects me. But sometimes another person's aggression crosses a line, a threshold of tolerance for me and I find myself in a familiar but long-absent place - frozen by my own fear. I've gone over this incident again and again in my head, trying to understand my own reaction to it. Why I feel so depressed. Why it's difficult for me to be in the building right now, as I type.

I was physically abused as a child, I've talked on here about being raped in my late teens, years ago I had difficulty with being harassed in the workplace at another job (all of which paints the picture of a perpetual victim, which I must assure you I am far from being). I have stood up for myself significantly more often than not in life, but in some instances, in THOSE instances, I failed to or was unable to protect myself. I cannot stand the idea of sitting idly by and letting myself be stepped on. Not now. Never again. I can't stand the idea of working for someone who would allow that.

Friday afternoon, I found myself cowering. Me. Cowering. For the first time in so very many years. That which does not kill us does make us stronger, right? Anyway, it lowers the threshold of what we are willing to tolerate. I am quickly reaching zero. I am not angry (I should be angry, why am I not angry?). I am just longing to do what I must to take care of myself. To look myself in the mirror and feel secure that THIS time I didn't let myself down.

Does everyone go through this, this strange self-knowledge? Learning the point at which you break, and at what point you refuse to be silent? I thought I knew this about myself, but here I am again. Trying to see my way through.


It took almost three months to find another position. The whole time I struggled, wanting to just walk away. When I was told that I had to tolerate the situation because, "Every workplace has someone like him. That's just how it is. We can't get rid of him and anyway, it's his word against yours." I consulted a lawyer and there really isn't very much you can do when you work for a small company and you live in a right-to-work state. It wasn't discrimination because of my sex. He didn't actually hit me. My lawyer told me, with no intention of offence, that if I HAD stood up to the man and he HAD hit me - well, then I'd have a case.

Sometimes doing the right thing for your long term well-being and doing the thing your principles and dignity demand... sometimes those things aren't compatible. So I did my best. I left as soon as I was able. I never said it was okay. I tried to maintain some level of dignity in spite of the fact that I felt intimidated walking in the door every day. And now I'm free and it's over. And I'll never work somewhere like that again. But I hate thinking about it. Because, when I do, I find that in some small way I still kick myself for cowering. Because I feel I let myself down. Sometimes the only person you can count on to stand up for you is YOU... it's important to know you can at least count on that to kick in when the chips are down.

I don't think it's a male-female thing, but I do think that women haven't always been taught to stand up for themselves. And we want to take care of ourselves. Maybe not all of us - but many of us want to be our OWN knight in shining armor. We want to save ourselves. I feel a responsibility to do that for myself and somehow feel incomplete when I don't.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dame 2.0

Well, folks, I'm working on an updated version of Dame. I haven't been around for a while and I think it's time for a new look and a little housecleaning.

To Dame regulars I would like to offer my apologies. I have really good reasons for having been absent so long. Sometime around June I had some problems in my workplace. I was threatened by a co-worker, there was discussion of legal action and my workplace became a fairly hostile environment. I have spent the past couple of months securing new employment and sorting that situation out. I now have a wonderful new job and am far happier... Because I had discussed my relationship (in relatively vague terms) on here, I should also let regulars know that The Guy and I have called off our engagement. I am alright and hoping he and I will remain good friends. But anyway, suffice it to say that it's been a very hectic time for me.

My life has changed a great deal in the past couple of months.

ALSO, as of today, I have reliable internet access at home for the first time in years. It had become highly impractical to post on my blog when I could not do so without going to great lengths. That situation is no longer. I sit, right now, on my bed with my shiny new laptop (who I have named), writing to you from my home FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME. That's right. 300+ posts and over two years of writing Dame on a break at work, from a friend's computer, at my local library, etc. Imagine how much more I will get done now.

So I'm working on a new look, a new approach... and while I'm at it a whole new life.

I just wanted to pop my head out of the ground for a moment and check in. Changes are a'comin'. Thanks for hanging in there. I miss reading your blogs. I miss having the time to share what I'm interested in. I'm looking forward to getting back in the saddle.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Gender Roles

Today I navigated to Yahoo to check my personal email. Yahoo always displays stories / articles / news / human interest junk for their users to click on.

And today there were two articles about relationships:

For WOMEN : "10 signs that he's willing to commit"

For MEN : "How to tell if she's attracted to you"

It's not just Yahoo. It's everywhere. Obviously popular media STILL assumes that all women want is a long-term commitment and all men want is to know if they're going to get laid.

It's so reassuring to know that some things never change.

Did I just imagine that women's movement and the sexual revolution took place?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

7 Songs Meme

Snagged this from Sheila...

"List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs."

"Tiny Dancer" - Elton John
Because I just finished a musical and the music director kept playing this song on the piano during downtime and we would all sing along. It had nothing to do with the show we were doing but it was great. It also took like five or six times of warbling along with the cast to get past the whole "Hold me closer Tony Danza" thing - but I'm so over it and back in love with the song now...

"Dragula" - Rob Zombie
High energy song. I've been going on walks and listening to this. I find it therapeutic. I know. Creepy.

"Fire and Rain" - James Taylor
Someone was playing this a few weeks ago across the street from the theater and I had forgotten how much I love it. It had been years since I consciously chose to listen to this song. So I've been playing it a lot lately.

"A Pirate Looks at Forty" - Jimmy Buffet
I love me some Buffet. Don't judge me. I'm not into Cheeseburger Buffet, I like rankly old sailor Buffet. Wistful drinking too much on a breezy afternoon Buffet. I'm all in the midst of warm fuzzy rediscovery of this love of Buffet.

"A Postcard to Nina" - Jens Lekman
My sister got me hooked on this song recently and I listen to it constantly. It's gorgeous AND funny.

"Spit It Out" - IAMX
Again, a recent addition from my awesome sister. I blast this in my car and howl along like a crazy woman and people look at me askance. Again, therapeutic.

"Rebel, Rebel" - David Bowie
The best song ever. For walking. For dancing in my living room. For singing along in the car. Impossible to think about your woes while bopping along to Rebel, Rebel. Kind of always into this but listening to it a lot lately.

Dorothy Parker

Fair Weather

This level reach of blue is not my sea;
Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun,
Whose quiet ripples meet obediently
A marked and measured line, one after one.
This is no sea of mine. that humbly laves
Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm.
I have a need of wilder, crueler waves;
They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

So let a love beat over me again,
Loosing its million desperate breakers wide;
Sudden and terrible to rise and wane;
Roaring the heavens apart; a reckless tide
That casts upon the heart, as it recedes,
Splinters and spars and dripping, salty weeds.”
- Dorothy Parker

My sister has that line tattooed on her arm, "They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm." I've always loved it and had never read the poem which was it's source. Parker was renowned for her wit, her sharp tongue, her great mind... but I think in popular culture her sheer talent for words gets forgotten as her legacy is reduced to snippets of humor that are easily dispersed in conversation. The woman who wrote these verses was not simply a humorist or satirist, great though her contributions in that arena may have been.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tracey's Right - The Best Thing in The World EVER

tromp tromp tromp

I kind of adore Tracey at Pale Page and am inclined to agree with her about many and various things. But this post is a great and magnificent thing about which she is SPOT. ON. I adore her. I adore Cinders the piglet who appears in this story. I am beside myself with glee reading about this little porcine beauty who clearly knows exactly what she wants in life and is satisfied with herself, indeed.

She is a piggy who loves her shoes. She is MY KIND OF PIG.

Shirley MacLaine

photo snagged at Dr. Macro (excellent resource for classic film photos), photo had the header: Hollywood At Home - A Family Album 1950-1965. Photos by Sid Avery

“I don't need anyone to rectify my existence. The most profound relationship we will ever have is the one with ourselves.”
- Shirley MacLaine

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


“Darling, the legs aren't so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.”
- Marlene Dietrich

She was the original self-made icon. Long before Marilyn altered her voice, washed her face 12 times a day and wore vaseline to catch the light of the camera, Dietrich was crafting an image for herself. She knew exactly how she should be lit and demanded control over lighting and camera angles when being filmed or photographed. She knew the menswear angle worked for her, with her lithe frame, sharp features and deep husky rumble of a voice, and she ordered suits with trousers in every color at a time when no other woman was wearing slacks. In fact, she also sent pantsuits to other women (like Rosemary Clooney, whom she befriended early in the "girl singer's" career), encouraging them to follow suit. She oversaw every detail of her image, both onscreen and off. Couturiers spoke of how she not only made certain every thread was perfectly in place on the exterior of her clothing, but would have an article fit and refit until the seams in the lining were flawless and lay perfecty smooth. If she liked something, she bought it in every possible color and bought multiples so she wouldn't be without it. If she couldn't find something, she had it created. She was crafting an image both beautiful and completely unique unto her.

For whatever reason, that absolute control over her physical appearance and that minute attenton to detail fascinates me. She wasn't the most beautiful woman on screen. She was talented but she wasn't by any means the most talented actress around. And yet, somehow she not only became an enduring icon, but maintained that sultry image well into later life. She knew how to reinvent herself to follow the times. As Wikipedia puts it, "She managed to remain popular by continually re-inventing herself through her long lasting career. During the 1920s she began her work as a cabaret singer, chorus girl and film actress in Berlin. In the 1930s, she became a Hollywood actress, a World War II frontline entertainer, and lastly an international stage show performer from the 1950s to the 1970s. She accomplished the great achievement of managing to become an entertainment icon of the 20th century by the end of her career." For the cabaret routines of her later years, she had bodysuits made of sheer material in order to display her figure to it's best advantage under revealing costumes and present an illusion of ongoing youthfulness in her physique. Even the changes of age and time were things she sought and found new ways to control.

I cannot imagine the effort and energy that went into the image she created, but her life WAS her art. Her hard work and keen eye set an almost unattainably high bar for personal style and made her into a lasting cultural icon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


This kind of film comes along so rarely. Bella does not pull punches, it is not soft, it does not pander and yet it is positive and warm and life affirming. It reminds us that no matter what happens, no matter what path we think we are on, things can always change. A moment can change the path of your life and in so doing, can change the world around you.

The director aptly described it with the simple truism, "If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans."

Life is like that. But everything comes back around. The world balances itself. And we can take part in that and we can make concious choices about the type of people we choose to be and how we wish to participate in the human race.

A lot of religious groups are trying to co-opt the film to reinforce one of their more popular messages but I don't see it that way. Two of the filmmakers have spoken openly about being Catholic, so I'm not saying they don't share opinions with these groups, but I think this film goes far beyond social issues. It's simply a story about people. How we effect each other and how life can surprise you.

It also does a beautiful job of refusing to recycle the well worn Latino stereotypes too often seen in film; presenting instead warm families, interesting people and fully rounded characters - the way it should be.

Oh, and one of the last scenes - between the two brothers - MUST be an intentional homage to Big Night. It is simply too dead-on not to be intentional. That scene from Big Night it is one of my favorite scenes ever committed to film and the same dynamic plays beautifully and meaningfully for the gifted filmmakers of Bella.

I don't want to tell you anything about this film and I think you should do yourself a favor and not read anything about it. A lot of the film is just people talking. There are sometimes subtitles. The acting is gorgeous and I thought the cinematography was lovely. It may be too stream of conciousness for some or too warm fuzzy for others... but obviously I really liked it.

I want to hang this film on my wall and watch it like a living work of art.

Because I'm Tired

I received a piece of junk mail titled:

"Longer, harder, fiercer bangs"

and I sat there staring at it, trying to figure out who sends junk mail about hair. And do people still use the word "fierce" to describe something that's aesthetically pleasing? And who wants HARD hair? Are bangs even in style right now? oh. wait. OH.



ok. ew. more pervy junk mail.

But at least that makes more sense...

I REALLY need to get some sleep.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks

Bancroft and Brooks around the time of their wedding, in 1964

"I fell in love with her then and there."
- Brooks, in an interview with Liz Smith, on first meeting Anne

Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks met in 1961 when she was rehearsing for the Perry Como television show. The story goes that she was rehearsing the musical number, "Married I can Always Get." and wearing a white suit. Mel Brooks called from offstage, "I'm Mel Brooks." Brooks bribed one of the tv show's employees to find out where Anne was going to have dinner that evening so he could "happen" to show up at the same restaurant.

"When Mel told his Jewish mother he was marrying an Italian girl, she said: 'Bring her over. I'll be in the kitchen - with my head in the oven'."
- Bancroft

When they met, Miracle Worker had not yet been released and much of Bancroft's career had been in television. Although she had a respectable number of films to her credit and had already won her first Tony award (for appearing opposite Henry Fonda in the Broadway production of Two for the Seesaw), she had not yet become the marquee name we know her as today. Brooks was best known as a writer and comedian, his prolific years as an actor/writer/director were still ahead of him.

"He understands not only with his brain but with his heart. And that might be called love. Not quite sure, but maybe that's the key."
- Bancroft, on her husband Mel Brooks Associated Press interview (1997)

They were married on August 5, 1964 at the New York City Hall. They asked a passer-by to be the witness for their wedding. As one of Bancroft's obituaries aptly describes them: "He was the Borscht Belt spoofer who took comedy to delightful new lows in the bawdy Western satire Blazing Saddles. She was the Bronx-born daughter of Italian parents who won two Tonys. 'He makes me laugh a lot,' she said, explaining their attraction to the New York Daily News in 2000. 'I get excited when I hear his key in the door. It's like, Ooh! The party's going to start.'"

"First of all, you have to marry the right person. If you marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons, then no matter how hard you work, it's never going to work, because then you have to completely change yourself, completely change them, completely— by that time, you're both dead. So I think you have to marry for the right reasons, and marry the right person."
- Bancroft, on successful marriage. Associated Press interview (1997)

Brooks and Bancroft making an appearance in Larry David's fictional "Opening Night" in 2004

I just love their work. And I love the idea of them together. It's a union that always fascinated me.

I found a lot of interesting information in this profile of their marriage, which I recommend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Improbable Bride

If the late breaking news has you worried that dameonline is about to become wedding central, you really needn't be concerned.

I have a friend who began her wedding planning when she was ten. She always wanted to get married. She kept pictures of dresses she loved and wedding cakes in a three ring binder. She wanted a picture book wedding. When she became engaged, she pulled out her binder and began reviewing her idea book. It was a fascination that lasted as she grew older and became a reality in her adult years.

She always knew what she wanted.

I am not that woman.

When I was ten years old I sat my parents down and, in all seriousness, broke the news that they would not be getting any grandchildren from me. I told them I might not even get married. If I did I would be AT LEAST 30 (which seemed very old to me at the time). They were flummoxed but then, I was a wierd kid, so they decided to take it in stride and didn't argue with me. They just said okay and I felt satisfied with myself for being so responsible and breaking the news to them early.

Evidently I've changed my mind about a few things over the years. But understand: All my parents (biological and step) have been married more than once. One has been married three times. All but two of my Aunts and Uncles (I have many) have been through a divorce. The vast majority of my childhood friends' parents were divorced.

I had no reason to think marriage was a good idea.

So I never thought about a dress or what colors I would use. I never watched Disney movies and imagined my own princess wedding. Father of the Bride didn't make me weepy. I never got weak-kneed hearing a romantic proposal story (I did get nauseated once or twice). When friends have gotten married I have participated in their weddings and been supportive and kept my cynicism to myself. It's not that I didn't believe in love. LOVE I understand. But wanting someone to be in your house all the time (ew) and never go away and then trusting that once you grow accustommed to this arrangement, that person will actually continue to STAY? Totally bizarre to me.

As you now know, however, the most improbable thing has happened. I am getting married.

My focus is on the marriage - my future with the man I love, forming a strong partnership that will last the test of time and my joy at finally finding someone who I genuinely believe I won't mind spending my days with when I'm 90 and it's just too much trouble to shuffle into another room (I think this is a vital characteristic in a life partner). This will, however, involve there being a wedding. I mean, I COULD skip that part, but since I'm actually pleased about the marriage - a celebration does seem to be in order.

I will have to start from the ground up.

I never gave any of this a second thought. So I'm not walking in with a rough blueprint in place like so many other women seem to. I don't have years of secretly thumbing through copies of Modern Bride at the grocery store and drooling over movie weddings under my belt in order to prepare me for this. The only thing I knew at all was that the shoes would have to be awesome because, you know, I LOVE SHOES.

I am finding that bridal magazines kind of freak me out. They tend to focus on large productions and I know that I don't want a wedding circus. No drowning in fluffy white taffeta and tulle while being surrounded by people I won't remember in 30 years and freaking out over children sticking their hands in the cake and running myself so ragged that I don't remember most of it later. There are these massive lists in the books and magazines of the 50 million THINGS YOU MUST DO 12 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING OR THE SKY WILL FALL AND YOU WILL NOT GET MARRIED. The average wedding in the U.S. today costs upwards of $28,000. It just sounds like such an ordeal if you try to play by these rules (and, you know, I don't have $28,000). I mean, I just don't care if everyone's names appear in the right order and I know there are not 150 people in my life right now who need to be a part of my wedding day. There just aren't.

So if I talk about the process here at dameonline, it will be in the context of how one approaches the wedding planing when one tends not be be the traditional sort. Or the fairy princess sort. Or the sort to obey the laws of etiquette when writing an invitation... Basically when one is more mindful of the marriage than the party. And during the process, of course, I will be certain to share any wacky hijinks. Because EVERYONE loves wacky hijinks. Even if they don't love weddings.

Monday, May 12, 2008


A little while ago something very important happened.

I wasn't sure if I was going to share it on here, but I think it's unavoidable.

I had thought it might happen, but I wasn't expecting it when it came.

Everything seemed to glow and get fuzzy. I was overwhelmed and joyful and surprised. It was as if the world had frozen for a moment. I almost can't remember the sound of our voices.

I think I held my breath.

The Guy stood up at dinner the other night and then suddenly he was on one knee. Right next to me. With a little box in his hands. And this look on his face.

It all happened so quickly. I didn't even think about it. I just burbled out the first thing that came into my head.

And then he kissed me.

(I said, "Yes.")

Best Mother's Day post

Sheila's mother sounds lovely and wonderful and just like a mother should be but so rarely actually is. Much thanks to Sheila for sharing this little story.

The Periwinkle Dishes

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kitties Bobbin'

This just made me giggle like an idiot.

Something- ahem - that I NEVER do.

Thank you to Lola, from whom I stole this link.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fathers and Daughters, part II

By some bizarre coincidence, Alexandra Billings put up a post about her relationship with HER father today and it just laid me out. Clearly, I already had this subject on my mind and I am just in tears now.

Read Alex's thoughts on the topic here.

Fathers and Daughters

The relationship between a father and daughter is an important and compelling one. If it's not a positive relationship, it's impact tends to echo throughout your life. If it IS a positive relationship, the kind of bond that exists there often surpasses almost all others and creates a connection felt your entire life.

He's the first man in your life. As a woman, that relationship often effects how you feel about men when you reach adulthood. In a world where the war of the sexes rages on and feminism is still often still treated like a negative concept, a dirty word, your father is responsible for protecting you and being the first man to see your value and to acknowledge your potential. It's a big responsibility. From your first day in kindergarten when your pigtail gets pulled or the first time at recess when the boys won't let you play - the male of the species becomes far more complicated. If you are lucky, however, it starts out simple - with the unconditional love of one man.

I was my father's first child. I look just like him. Same hair, same jawline, same eyes and the same pale papery-thin skin. Same strong, gregarious personality, same pragmatism, same sarcastic sense of humor and love of the written word. From day one we've been crazy about each other. We've both made mistakes over the years. We've failed each other, but more often than that we've come through for each other. It was hard learning that he was human. Harder learning that he couldn't always live up to the standards he had raised me to maintain. In time I learned to accept him as a fallible man instead of looking for the return of the god of my childhood. Whatever mistakes he made, however many years we spent apart, whatever changes the years brought in us - he gave me my base in life. I always knew he thought I was beautiful and that I was loved by him. I knew what was right and what was wrong because my father told me these things. I grew up with this powerful sense of honor and heritage because of his influence. He is imperfect. He finds it difficult to talk about emotional matters. He is tremendously intelligent. He is more widely respected than almost anyone of my personal aquaintance. Later in his life, he is still full of dreams and plans. He is a part of who I am and an aspect of what I want to be. Obviously, I'm still crazy about him.

When I was 15, I made him a mix tape. I spent months on it; aquiring the songs I needed, arranging and rearranging them, working on the hand drawn art for the case. The songs were about fathers and their children. About love and being loved for who you are. About everything my father meant to me. I gave it to him and he was quiet. He thanked me. He kind of smiled and looked unsure what to say. He said he'd listen to it when he had the chance.

Years later he told me that he kept the tape in his top desk drawer wherever he went, whenever he moved. He kept it in a drawer and just looked at it. For three years. He said he knew it would be emotional for him. He liked just having it. He wasn't sure he was ready to listen to it. He never told me what made him finally listen to it, but almost three years later (which would have been just after I left home), he told me that he had listened to it for the first time.

Loudon Wainwright III has a sweet song that - for me - captures the magic of the father/daughter relationship in a beautiful way. And I cry every time I listen to it. In a good way.

...Maybe it's time to make another mix tape.

by Loudon Wainwright III
Listen to Daughter here

Everything she sees
she says she wants.
Everything she wants
I see she gets.

That's my daughter in the water
everything she owns I bought her
Everything she owns.
That's my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.

Everything I say
she takes to heart.
Everything she takes
she takes apart.

That's my daughter in the water
every time she fell I caught her.
Every time she fell.
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost every time I fought her.
I lost every time.

Every time she blinks
she strikes somebody blind.
Everything she thinks
blows her tiny mind.
That's my daughter in the water,
who'd have ever thought her?
Who'd have ever thought?
That's my daughter in the water,
I lost everytime I fought her
Yea, I lost every time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Craptaculous Film Adventures

Movies You Aren’t “Supposed” to Like

Now some people like only those movies which everyone else hesitates to cop to liking. I’m not really talking to you here. I can be a bit of a film snob at times, but I’m a film snob with a weakness for kitsch and kickass CGI. It’s terrible, I know. I’m going to tell you about this forbidden love and then I’ll go wash my mind out with soap.

You know what I’m talking about if you’re a midlevel film buff. You can quote The Godfather. You loved The City of Lost Children. You’ve had a conversation about Meryl Streep in Out of Africa that segued into an animated argument about Charlie Kaufman. You have passionate opinions about Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner being remade in the 21st century as a comedy. Not exactly a film scholar, but reasonably knowledgeable about film... just enough that you know which movies you are not supposed to love. Or even admit to having watched. Especially not more than once.

Now some films that aren’t so classy or brilliant totally escape this category. Like films that you grew attached to during your formative years (Grease, Fame) and Cult classics (Rocky Horror, Monty Python and the Holy Grail). A lot of films escape the stigma on sheer cool factor or having a respected director attached who makes the film more acceptable on the whole (Although some directors come into or out of style over time in an odd fashion. Case in point: when Army of Darkness was released, I was crazy for loving it - but NOW it’s cool to have a long standing love of Sam Rami. Whatever.). So, not those films.

I’m talking about the kitschy cheesefests and the unlikely shoot-em-ups that you rightfully ask aloud, “How did this film even get made?” And yet, you love it. You might be one of only a few dozen people who know it’s kind of awful but love it anyway (there are always the people who just don’t know it’s awful), but for whatever reason - it works for you, it makes you laugh, it allows you to check your brain at the door, something about it makes you happy. We need those movies. I respect and understand it when a friend tells me, “Ok. Don’t laugh, but you know what movie I love?”

And naturally I have my own list of the movies. But you know what movie I’ve been thinking about lately that I LOVE and know without question is B-A-D?

Who’s That Girl. That’s right. Madonna doing her best Betty Boop impersonation at the height of her Marilyn meets Sid Viscious phase. Refusing to act her way out of a paper bag. Back when she was still sporting those thick, dark eyebrows which I actually loved on her. In an impossibly illogical modern fairy tale about a sucessful executive with a huge stick up his butt abondoning his stuffy life and future wife for a cleptomaniac convict with a penchant for black lace. It’s SUPPOSED to be an update of Bringing Up Baby which we won’t even go into because that’s such an insult to Hepburn and Grant. But I love it anyway.

Griffin Dunne makes completely absurd choices that no man in his position would ever make, but he’s adorable and confused and you’re all like, “Well, OBVIOUSLY she has addled his brain with the oozing sex and all.” They pick up a Pategonian Felis (Puma or Mountain Lion... and not a correct scientific name from what I can glean on the interweb) which Madonna erroniously refers to as a tiger thruought the film. She names it Murray (great name) and it naturally becomes her pet pussycat and does whatever she says just because. She drags Dunne into a bad part of town to buy illegal guns and does the whole cutesy newsboy-capped-head popping out of a dumpster shot. Dunne’s bride to be has a hilarious subplot going on in which she is diddling everyone in NYC, with a particular penchant for taxi drivers who turn up all over saying, “I had her in my cab.” and then laughing in an uber creepy way. Madonna sports the most godawful fake Brooklyn accent ever captured on film. They spend 90% of the film being chased by thugs all over New York. The dialog is completely silly but my sister and I used to quote it to each other in tones of hysterical glee.

It’s awful. So awful, it’s kind of awesome.

Other craptastical films I love: Earth Girls are Easy (yes, I said it. I’m not taking it back), SING, The Craft, Cutting Class, Time Trackers (MASSIVE crush on Alex Hyde-White as Edgar of Mansfield), The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea, Bloodsport, The Phantom (really mostly just for the fact that Billy Zane wears a purple bodysuit), Shock Treatment and (of course) Desperately Seeking Susan...

Well, those are the titles I can think of off the top of my head. There. I've confessed. May the person who has not loved a thoroughly atrocious film at some point in his or her life hurl the first stone.

Yeah. That's what I thought.


I apologize for my prolonged absence! I will be back on here with greater frequency very very soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ben Lee

More cheerful music goodness. Mostly because I don't have anything to post about. And because he was on Leno (I'm a Dave girl, myself) and I was flipping past and heard this song and was transfixed. Maybe it's the Aussie in me. I don't know.

The video is awesome. And Tiffani-Amber Thiessen is in it. How random is that? I love random.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Appropos of Nothing

Turned on the television late Saturday night and Cheers was coming on.

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot...."

And I'm curled up on the couch watching the sepia tone pub images and turn of the century illustrations. The ones they chose to echo the characters. The ones they changed when the cast changed - the new ones for Woody Harrelson, for Kelsey Grammer, for Kirstie Alley. The green shoes and dress for Rhea Perlman, which I always loved. You know the set will always be the same. Norm and Cliff will be at the bar. Sam will be hitting on someone. Carla will be wiping down the counter or smacking someone on the back of the head or taking pot -shots at Sam's newest fling. It's familiar and reassuring.

Like all long-running TV shows, things changed - actors left the cast, passed away, made different career choices. So new characters were created, new storylines. There is a sense of obligation to have people marry and change and divorce and move away and alter over time - as people do - when a television show runs for over ten years. But I could have watched Norm and Cliff sit around and goad Sam into trying some stupid scheme and Carla crow when the scheme backfires and Diane or Rebecca turn Sam down again and again... well, for just about ever. I know Sam was a sexist pig and all that, but it was always his undoing in the end, anyway, so I really feel no guilt feminism-wise for loving Cheers. It makes me smile.

It sounds silly, but I think the basic idea was brilliant and worked because it DOES speak to something in all of us. We love the idea of having somewhere we could go where there would always be friendly faces, where they know all your flaws and like you anyway, where everything is simpler because no one asks anything of you except that you come around every now and then. Cheers represented what family is theoretically supposed to be but never actually is for most people. And that's why we love it. That theme song - for me and many others - brings this brief rush of the feeling of coming home. Which, in a simpler world, is the best feeling there is... but in this world is illusive and far too fleeting.

Did you know that Nicky Colasanto (who played Coach) kept a picture of Geronimo in his dressing room as a good luck charm? When he died it was added to the set. On the final episode of Cheers, eight years after Colasanto's death, in the final scene Ted Danson straightened the Geronimo picture before he walked off stage for the last time.

I just loved that show.

Monday, March 31, 2008

This Madhouse Known as Earth

There's good crazy and there's bad crazy. I'm not referring to literal needs-meds-and-supervision crazy. Just, you know, CRAZY crazy.

On the GOOD side - there are the people of Improv Everywhere, who stage "missions" all over the world (but are based in the capital of crazy - New York City). Missions like No Pants 2k8 (it's an annual event) and the Food Court Musical and the infectuous Frozen Grand Central - which has now been recreated in, like, 40 countries. They are insane. And awesome. And I would totally freeze with them or maybe even consider dropping trou for the cause. Improv on the streets, making some kind of interactive theater / performance art prank for the world around them to gape at and, hopefully, enjoy. A beautiful reminder that the constraints we live within are so often simply the ones we put upon ourselves. 900 people on New York subways wearing no pants certainly stretches one's concept of anything being possible.

I found this thanks to Alexandra Billings at Stillettos and Sneakers, who always has awesome videos and the most entertaining stories of pretty much any blogger on the planet. She's that incredible. Seriously.

...On the BAD side there are people like the ones The Food Whore writes about in this post. Now, I know a lot of people complain about small children in public places and the behavior of parents and a lot of the complainers don't have kids and don't have a clue and are being petty.

This is not that kind of story.

This story is about a trip to a pizza parlour during which two of FW's fellow patrons decided to treat everyone to their cute baby being flown around in their arms airplane style. Again and again and again. For the duration of their meal. The parents in question are clearly MAD if they think complete strangers want to have their dinner interrupted with a baby they do not know dive bombing their table REPEATEDLY (Does anyone know these people? Someone MUST know them. Someone should be like, "Dude. I saw this story on the interweb and I think it was about you guys... Um. You guys have got to cut that shit out, man. It's creepy.").

The Food Whore owns and runs a restaurant and catering business, so she actually has MANY stories about how stupid and insane people can be, but this one struck me as particularly wierd. However, if you enjoy stories of bizarre human behavior - spend some time over at her blog. Suddenly every wacky-ass relative and creepy neighbor you have begin to seem really sedate next to the people who step foot in her place of business.

So that's my 2¢ for the day.

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On a Cheerier Note

A friend sent me a link to this. And I am hooked. Alphabeat is a Scandinavian band continuing the great tradition of funloving Scandanavian pop bands. The song is simple and unremarkable, but it's so CHEERFUL. And the video? RELENTLESSLY, GENUINELY cheerful. The singers' expressions are joyous and uncomplicated. The bright colors that switch around are fun. The dancers are highly watchable. There are cardigans and a mettalic lavender lamé dress. Everyone looks freshly scrubbed and wholesome and high on life. It's completely bizarre.

I love it.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Some types of trauma don’t just end. There are echoes of it as time passes. Shockwaves as new information or developments hit home. It is not simple. You cannot just mourn. Mourning is in itself a process, but some horrible events in life are similarly a process. With each phase the grief or horror must be re-experienced. Redigested. Relived.

First they found my friend. We knew for certain that she was no longer with us and any lingering hope was gone.

And we mourned.

Then we learned that the state in which her body was found was particularly gruesome. We were left with an image in our heads of something from a horror movie happening to someone we knew and cared for. I have never understood why anyone finds it entertaining to watch people do terrible things to each other in films and I understand it less now. Somehow it made her death seem worse, her body being treated with such disregard.

The mourning process began again.

Then the man who took her life was sentenced to spend his life in prison and his picture was back in rotation on our television set. This face I am trying not to associate with my friend. New information was released regarding the last days of her life and we learned how close the authorities came to finding her and how hard she had fought to stay alive. It was strange to feel so devastated and so proud of someone all at once.

The mourning process began again.

Now the state’s Bureau of Investigation has released far more detailed information via what I understand to be a news media interview with an investigator (EDIT: Apparently what happened is that the recordings of the killer's confessions were released. So, right now, every tv news station in our state and many across the country are making the distasteful decision to broadcast his voice into your living rooms). Of course, all the details are so much worse than I had chosen to tell myself they might have been. She cannot be hurt anymore, but we keep learning more about what she endured before she was killed. Previous information came to me first through a sort of phone tree initiated by the family, so I had some warning and learned of it in a less jarring fashion. But the most recent details I learned by turning on the news one day, not expecting anything about my friend to still linger on the media’s radar.

Until now I had hoped, naively and foolishly and blindly, that amidst everything else that was done to her... perhaps she had not been raped.

So the mourning process begins again.

Any loss is a long and complicated thing to cope with. Every death alters lives. Certainly more so if your loved one’s death is brought about by another human being, whether it be premeditated murder or as a casualty of war or a victim of terrorism, an unnatural and intentionally caused death is a strange and awful thing to come to terms with. I know this will in many ways be a life long burden for her family and closer friends. They will feel the echoes of this far more strongly and for far longer than I imagine I will. But for all of us the feeling that we can safely allow ourselves to begin the journey of coming to terms with her loss is still illusive.

I have never been comfortable with the death penalty. It brings no one back and puts tremendous, frightening power in the hands of a judge and a jury and our correctional system. It is useless and impotent as revenge. But even if I am uncertain of my stance on it, I think I understand it better now than I did before. Until that man dies, the mourning process will begin again and again. When he is mentioned on the news. When he reveals new information. When the trials take place regarding his other victims. Until he dies of old age (and in this case one can only hope that prison life is difficult on the health of a man of his years) or unless he is executed for one of the other murders he committed, the people who loved her will sit at home and relive this sorrow again and again. When he no longer exists there will be greater closure in what is, under any circumstances, an impossible situation to accept.

As someone who was her friend socially more than having an emotional closeness to her, I am still coming to terms with my right to mourn. But she was my friend. We got together and did the girl talk thing. I miss not only someone I enjoyed spending time with but also someone I was getting to know better. Someone who I, due to her years of closeness with my loved ones, anticipated would be a part of my life for a long time to come.

We interact with each other in life and we ask, "How are you?" and most of us tell people that we are fine no matter what is really going on. We bump into each other's lives without really knowing what is happening in the world of the person behind us in line, the saleswoman on the other end of the phone line, the server at the restaurant who falters with his tray. Sometimes it is difficult to watch how life keeps moving and you wish there was some way to let the world know you need it to back off a little. To let the news media know their enthusiastic reports are beaming into the living rooms of people that news actually impacts. To let loved ones know that seeming alright and being alright are sometimes two completely seperate things (which, of course, they cannot do anything about. This is the nature of grief).

My friend was abducted. She was beaten and raped. She fought for her life for four days; both physically fighting (injuring and disarming her attacker) and bravely risking retribution by providing inaccurate information regarding her bank account again and again, forcing him to keep her alive or abandon hope of financial gain. She spent her last hours tied to a tree. In the end she was bludgeoned to death and after death her body was decapitated.

I am living my life and in many ways everything is “normal.”
But I am also not really okay.

And the mourning process begins again.

In this post I use more detailed information than I have previously, while still not using names. I realize many of you put two and two together and know which case I am speaking of - which is fine. I just don't want this post or my blog linked to or mentioned in conjunction with anything that clearly identifies my friend. This is my rumination on grief in unusual circumstances, not participation in the media circus. I am not interested in that kind of traffic. I appreciate your consideration.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Between Times

I'm a spotty blogger.

That SOUNDS like some kind of skin disease, but you know what I mean. Sometimes I just don't have as much to say - I mean, I'm reminiscing about Madonna, for heaven's sake. Sometimes I'm all ISSUES ISSUES ISSUES or chock full o' anecdotes and thought provoking lists (hahaha). But then sometimes I have a head cold and long hours of rehearsal and I'm all, "My readers? Uh... They have other things to do. I'll be back before they even notice I'm gone. Um. What were we talking about? Ooooh, Is that Nyquil??"

Sorry for the in between times.

While we're chatting (because in my my mind, this is a two way street. Like some ongoing conversation we're having), I want to refer you to an amazing blog I found through one of my favorite writers online, Liza. Gila at My Shrapnel is an American-born woman who lives in Israel and writes about life after she "was seriously injured six years ago in a suicide bombing while waiting for a bus at the Machane Yehuda open air market in Jerusalem." It's amazing. SHE's amazing. And funny. Seriously. Tremendously brilliant and funny. She refers to herself as a "Poor, Sad, Heroic, Victim of Terror®". It's the best thing I've read in ages and provides perspective the likes of which few writers I have encountered can provide. It's difficult to feel sorry for yourself while reading about a woman whose body is, to this day, slowly expelling pieces of metal and bone and other unidentitifed objects that are embedded in almost every part of her. A must read.

MUCH better for your brain than my musings on Madonna.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Photographed in 1986 by Herb Ritts for Vanity Fair

Oddly enough, I started writing this before I heard about Madonna's induction into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. I found all of these in my little archive of old magazine pics. But it turns out to be all appropriate and timely. I love being timely.

I clearly remember the first time I heard Madonna.

I was riding in the car with my father. I was young... in my early pre-teens. My parents were divorced and every now and then my father would pick me up for a visit and it was one of those times. In my mother's house I was not allowed to listen to popular radio or watch television unless it was PBS and the discrepancy between my exposure to the world of popular culture and the savvy awareness of my peers had become glaringly obvious (which, in my opinion, explains my obsession as an adult with film, music, fashion and general pop culture). But my father let me listen to the radio. For this and many other reasons, I thought he was wonderful.

We were riding over a bridge somewhere in Florida when I heard it. I remember the cars around us. I remember that the trucks next to us on the narrow bridge made me nervous. And I remember hearing the catchy first notes of "Borderline" coming through the speakers and how I perked up, even though I had never heard it before. I remember asking if I could turn up the volume. I remember ignoring my usual childlike embarassment over hearing somewhat adult lyrics in front of a parent. I was hooked. I remember that later, back at my mom's house, I would listen to the radio when my mother wasn't home with a cassette tape in the machine, waiting to hit "record" as soon as the first few notes of a Madonna song came on.

I loved Madonna. My late childhood through my teens and well into my twenties, I had a strong affection for her. I loved her when she was "chubby" and dressed like Billy Idol if he was a woman raised in an adult novelty store. I loved her faux Marilyn Material Girl routine. I loved Desperately Seeking Susan and watched it again and again and again and wondered how I could make a jacket like hers.

I don't have any info on this shot, if anyone knows who took it, please let me know so I can credit it.

I loved her bleached platinum blonde and straggly, earthy brunette. I loved her with huge chunky eyebrows. I loved her singing about unplanned pregnancy with a petulant self-rightousness. I loved her Bettie Boop phase. My baby sister bought me a copy of Who's That Girl on VHS because we rented it constantly and quoted absurd lines to each other. We sang "Cherish" and "Holiday" and "Like a Prayer" at top volume in my car when my sister was a teenager.

Photographed in 1989 by Patrick DeMarchelier for Vogue Magazine

I loved Madonna earthy and pissing off the church and Pepsi with her gorgeous video for "Like a Prayer". I loved her all pristine glammed up to Vogue and I loved her as Breathless in Dick Tracy. She was funny and enjoyable in a League of Their Own, hilarious in the video for Human Nature and eerie, ethereal and perfect in the video for Bedtime Story. I still liked her through those years. Later, I enjoyed watching her sing more classically in Evita and I was tentatively appreciative of her initial transition to techno-pop.

But she lost me somewhere after that.

Her music no longer seemed vital and interesting to me. She made what I felt was the weakest film of her career... or maybe I just didn't like her getting older (and what an evil, awful person I am if I feel that way). Maybe I couldn't understand a version of her that had ventured into territory unfamiliar to me - motherhood and family. Maybe it was just that her hardness and drive started to overshadow her joyousness. Maybe I didn't like the WAY she got older - fighting it tooth and nail in such an obvious way instead of embracing a more mature and graceful image of herself. Whatever it is, I don't love the Madonna of now.

But I still love the Madonna of my youth.

Or the image of her.

The constant, fluid changing as if she was not yet sure who she was, either. The sound of a voice not yet trained properly. The abandon of a woman unafraid of bad press and enjoying the spotlight. The girl who stood up on American Bandstand in 1984 and said, "I want to rule the world."

New York, 1979
photgrapher not listed

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Art of Meredith Dittmar

© Meredith Dittmar, screencap from her home page - adorable animation!

Meredith Dittmar's work appears on her website, Corporate Pig. Her site features both her adorable "My Guys" - funny little critters handmade out of brightly colored polymer clay that you can buy the original of or, for a little less dough, you can purchase a "cloned" favorite. All of them are handmade - the original guys and their clones.

© Meredith Dittmar, I believe these are four separate pieces but they were in the gallery side by side and obviously follow a theme.

Dittmar also, however, has a gallery of her artwork on the site. Her works are formed in polymer clay with backgrounds created with spraypaint and hand-drawn stencils mounted on plexiglass. Each one like a little scene taking place in some otherworld, her art takes her ability to create unusual characters much further and places them in contexts that evoke emotions and stimulate the imagination.

© Meredith Dittmar

Fine art and cute critters collide in Dittmar's fanciful, unique work. Definitely a great site to peruse. Lots to see and lots of little lopsided smiles to brighten your day.

I also found this link to a wedding album of a friend of Dittmar's (isn't the bride just gorgeous?)- the couple had Dittmar create an adorable wedding topper for them. ALSO - another artist I featured on here previously, Trish Grantham, created the artwork that surrounded them during the ceremony! What lovely and innovative wedding ideas!

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Bizarre Look of Kohler

I actually LIKE the "Bold look of Kohler" campaign and it's wacked out ads and freaky freaky bathroom acoutrements.

But this was too much for me.

©2005 Kohler, from the February 2006 issue of Cottage Living

Yeah, I owned a copy of Cottage Living. You wanna make something of it?

At first it's pretty. Then you realize she looks wrong. She looks kind of like someone tied her to that bench in the middle of that bathroom and told her to, "PLAY! PLAY DAMN YOU!" and refused to feed her. It MAY have been an effort to make her body echo the shape of the instrument... but it's kind of nasty looking.

So then you take a closer look:

See her reflection? The reflection of her hip area doesn't look quite so emaciated.

(Dude. How Blade Runner is this grainy close up? hee hee)

Up close you can see how someone has (a little too clumsily, in my opinion - I mean, her side just looks SILLY on the second image, right?) shaved a huge chunk out of her photo. Like she owed them a pound of visual flesh.

So while I'm still intrigued by the possibilities when it comes to digitally enhancing or altering photos for advertising - I think it's in poor taste to go around making women look like cellos. Scrawny, glorified, unhealthy cellos.

...Or, you know, WHATEVER that instrument is.

If anyone has trouble seeing the images - let me know! I may be having difficulty with my photo hosting thingy.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Maidenform, Lifting Woo-Hoos Since the 1920's

My friend Sean calls them Woo-Hoos. I find this hilarious.

um... Sorry.

I have an odd collection that, it recently occurred to me, I have yet to tap into for use here on Dame. I collect images. A visual artist all my life, I have always enjoyed photography and my career path being in design, I also find marketing fascinating. So I read oodles of magazines and I've always hated throwing them out. I DO, however, hate the idea of being a crazy hermit lady surrounded by stacks of magazines MORE than I hate throwing them out. So instead of keeping the whole magazine, I keep the best bits. The unique ads. The awe-inspiring photographs. The taglines that are too wierd to believe without hard proof.

I've been doing this for 15 years. At least.
(EDIT - I just realized it's probably been just over twenty years. WOW. The nineties went really quickly, didn't they?)

Don't worry. I'm pretty picky about what I hold onto. It's all in a little portfolio I keep in a closet. Doesn't take up much room - again - FEAR OF BEING CRAZY HERMIT LADY. So not interested in that.

I found these two gems amongst the sheaves of papers.

© 1990 Maidenform, Inc.

The smaller text reads, "Women have spent the last ten centuries conforming to their lingerie. Fortunately, lingerie has finally gotten around to conforming to women."

© 1991 Maidenform, Inc.

The smaller text on this one reads, "Chick. Doll. Tomato. Fox. While the images used to describe women are simple and obvious, women themselves rarely are. Just something we keep in mind when designing our lingerie."

They appeared in (see copyright date) 1990/91 in fashion magazines. Based on the quality of paper and my life-long addiction to it, I'd guess I found them in Vogue, but I could be wrong. I also found a reference to this ad campaign here on Maidenform's website.

I wish I knew who was responsible for this campaign. They deserve a big high five. Even if I didn't agree with the concept, which of course I do, it's just really an intelligent approach to their consumer.

I'm such a geek. I love awesome advertising.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth

“It is very strange that the years teach us patience - that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.”
- Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was born on this day in 1932. While I have never been a big "Liz" person, her power, magnetism and impressive body of work are undeniable. For decades she was the reigning queen of American cinema; the biggest name on the marquee, the headline in every movie magazine and gossip column and one of the few women whose attachment to a project could make that project happen. She combined acting with international celebrity in a way that few people did in her heyday, living larger than life and inspiring an enduring fascination in the hearts and imaginations of her public. There were scandals and health problems and a private life playing out all too publicly, but in the end I think she still inspires a great deal of love and admiration.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Random Lyric Thing My Sister Did

...because I don't particularly have anything else I need to ramble about today.

Random Song Lyric Meme:

Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.
Step 2: Post the first line(s) from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song. (Skip the instrumentals, the remixes and the mashups)
Step 3: Let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.
Step 4: Strike out the songs when someone guesses correctly.

Talk about a random assortment of songs. I'm pretty big on variety. This mix is from putting my ipod on random:

1. "Gold teeth and a curse for this town / were all in my mouth. / Only, I don't know how / they got out, dear." - New Slang / The Shins - Identified by count-to-seven.

2. "You keep sayin' you've got something for me /Something you call love, but confess" - These Boots Were Made For Walking / Nancy Sinatra - Identified by Jonathan Lapper.

3. "I used to got out to parties / And stand around / 'Cause I was too nervous / To really get down"

4. "I'm looking down the hole / You're looking up at me / You're cold and tired / That is easy to see / lower the rope to you / a bucket on the line" - Lotion / The Greenskeepers - Identified by count-to-seven (that's right! It's a song ABOUT THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which is bizarre and SO disturbing but ohmygosh it's so catchy. Seriously).

5. "I've got a Dungeon Master's Guide / I've got twelve sided die / I've got Kitty Pride / and Nightcrawler, too"

6. "Each morning I get up I die a little / Can barely stand on my feet / (Take a look at yourself) Take a look in the mirror and cry (and cry) / Lord what you're doing to me" - Somebody to Love / Queen - Identified by Jonathan Lapper.

7. "Tweedily deedily dee, / Tweedily deedily dee, / Tweedily deedily dee, / Tweedily deedily dee, / Tweedily deedily dee, / Tweedily deedily dee, / Tweet, tweet, TWEET TWEET / He rocks in the treetops all day long, / rockin' and a-boppin' and a-singin' his song" - Rockin' Robin / Michael Jackson (before or after the Jackson Five??) - Identified by The Guy.

8. "I won't let you down / I will not give you up / Gotta have some faith in the sound / It's the one good thing that i've got" - Freedom 90 / George Michael - Identified by Jonathan Lapper (ahem. Hahahaha. But, then, I LOVE this song so who am I to talk?).

9. "(spoken) Really? From where I'm standing, the sun is shining all over the place.
(humming) Doo-de-doo doo Doo-de-doo-de-doo-doo...
(singing) I'm singing..."
- Singing In The Rain / Gene Kelly - Identified by Tracey (Yay! I love old musicals and I love that you got this one!).

10. "Billy Ray was a preacher's son / when his daddy would visit he'd come along / when they gathered round and started talking / that's when Billy would take me walking" - Son of a Preacher Man / Dusty Springfield - Identified by Jonathan Lapper.

11. "Shook it up / I never loved nobody fully / Always one foot on the ground / And by protecting my heart truly / I got lost in the sounds" - Fidelity / Regina Spektor - Identified by KateP!

12. "I've wined and dined on Mulligan Stew, and never wished for Turkey / As I hitched and hiked and grifted too, from Maine to Albuquerque" - The Lady is a Tramp / Ella Fitzgerald (hers was the version I had loaded on my ipod) - Identified by Jonathan Lapper.

13. "I like / Where we are, / When we drive, / In your car. / I like, / Where we are; / here."

14. "Sometimes I feel I've got to run away / I've got to get away / from the pain you drive into the heart of me" - Tainted Love / Soft Cell - Identified by The Guy.

15. "I want love, but it's impossible / a man like me, so irresponsible / a man like me is dead in places / other men feel liberated" - I Want Love / Elton John - Identified by lynn.

16. "I need someone, a person to talk to / someone to care, to love / could it be you, could it be you? Situation gets rough / and I start to panic / it's not enough / It's just a habit" - Kiss Off / The Violent Femmes - Identified by The Guy.

17. "I certainly haven't been shopping for any new shoes and / I certainly haven't been spreading myself around / I still only travel by foot and by foot, it's a slow climb, / But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so / I can't stop changing all the time" - Extraordinary Machine / Fiona Apple - Identified by lynn.

18. "Old pirates, yes, they rob I; / Sold I to the merchant ships, / Minutes after they took I / From the bottomless pit. / But my hand was made strong / By the hand of the Almighty. / We forward in this generation / Triumphantly." - Redemption Song / Bob Marley & The Wailers - Identified by Nerka!

19. "Yo listen up here's a story / About a little guy that lives in a blue world / And all day and all night and everything he sees / Is just blue like him inside and outside" - Blue (DaBaDee) / Eiffel 65 - Identified by The Guy.

20. "It was Christmas Eve babe / In the drunk tank / An old man said to me, won't see another one / And then he sang a song / The Rare Old Mountain Dew / I turned my face away / And dreamed about you" - Fairytale of New York / The Pogues - Identified by The Guy.

So guess away! Post the name of the song and artist along with the number in my comments section. As the songs are correctly guessed, I will mark them off and indicate the first person to correctly name the song (along with a link to your blog or website if you include that information with your comment).

Edit: I forgot to tag anyone! I'm tagging Sheila, Nina, Tracey, Jonathan, lisachelle and Lola! ...but if it doesn't work with your format, guys, I totally understand. ;)

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Marilyn/Audrey Effect

Women compare themselves to other women. I may be pretty, but when I see the girl standing next to me is VERY pretty, internally some part of me decides not only that I am less attractive than her but that I am less attractive than I believed I was just moments before. Her attractiveness actually makes me mentally subtract from my own. It's not a conscious thing and it's not quite as pathological as that - I'm oversimplifying - but it is, essentially true. In some weird-ass unconscious way, most women think this on some level (just because you say you don't doesn't mean you don't. It just means you aren't consciously aware of it). We feel thinner of fatter or prettier or plainer or more stylish or more awkward based on our unconscious mental comparisons with other women, both in person and in the media. Partially because we perceive from an early age that other people - male and female - make similar distinctions.

Popular women's magazines now run sections where you can compare two different celebrities wearing the same frock - and see the results of readers voting on who they feel looked better in the outfit. No matter how different the two women are, no matter how irrelevant it is that the dress looks different on different figures and each should be appreciated on her own merits. A standard of beauty is established by popular consensus. For example - the popularity of the television show Ally McBeal not only spawned a rash of ingenues showing up gaunt and waifish at red carpet events, but actually resulted in multiple co-stars of the (purportedly) naturally uber slender Calista Flockheart (the title character) later doing tell-all stories about their own eating disorders. They stood on set and watched the popularity of the young star of the show grow and compared their own build to her delicate physique and decided that it was high time they stopped ingesting anything. Women compare themselves to other women.

I read GoFugYourself on a pretty regular basis. Is it hollow and useless information? Yes. But I enjoy seeing what Bai Ling decided to wear as a skirt this week. It makes me smile. So I don't mind the loss of IQ points... AND the popularity of GoFug is probably a throwback to the comparison effect - i.e. "I may not be gorgeous or famous but at least I know better than to show up in a public place with my underwear showing! HA!" It makes people feel good to know that thin, pretty people can make stupid choices about what to leave the house wearing. Because we compare ourselves to them (And all of us dress better than Bai Ling).

Due to the recent promotion of the film The Other Boleyn Girl, there have been a couple of entries regarding the two female leads hitting the carpets and doing the publicity schtick. The result, of course, is all these pics of Natalie Portman (who plays Anne Boleyn) and Scarlett Johansson (who plays her elder sister Mary - although I believe the book and film choose to inaccurately depict her as the younger. Perhaps to explain her ability to attract the King's attention? Who knows. Leave history alone, people.) standing side by side.

Johansson, a petite 5'4" and physically quite svelte, looks somewhat large next to Portman (who is actually only an inch shorter than her, but built so very differently). Portman looks dark and wispy. Johannson looks zaftig and pale.

It's like someone took a picture of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn next to each other (interestingly enough, I found, AFTER I had drawn that conclusion, that a W Magazine article had made essentially the same comparison).

Neither is less beautiful. They are both lovely women. But the contrast is striking. Portman is so small and delicate that she actually makes Johansson look less so. Johannson's vibrancy and overtly sexual presence makes Portman look more mousy. I find the contrast odd, but I also find my awareness of it rather telling.

The article in W discussed the fact that the casting seems "backwards" to many people. Anne (played by Portman), as written in the book and screenplay, is the driven, outgoing and perhaps even conniving sister while Mary (played by Johansson) is portrayed as the innocent and wholesome sister. And the public expect to see those two actresses taking opposite roles. Ironically, in life, history suggests that things were quite the other way around. Mary had an affair with Henry VIII in spite of the fact that she was married and after having already been the mistress of the King of France (she caused quite a scandal with her promiscuity). Anne was a very religious woman and best known for her dedication to the church and her wrongful execution for crimes she was later said unlikely to have been guilty of, in addition to being the mother of Elizabeth I. The women's roles in life may have been quite the opposite of the portrayal we can expect to see on film. Either way, even in history, these two women are compared to each other. Some accounts depict Mary as the prettier sister, some make mention of Anne being considered pretty but too dark for the fashion of the time. Even back then, women's appearances were being judged not just based on their own merits, but on a comparison to their contemporaries.

Is voluptuous better than sylphlike? Is dark, delicate and genteel better than bright, blonde and cheery? Is my red hair, pale skin and curvy figure less attractive because I am sitting next to my beautiful olive skinned friend with her thick, dark mane and slender, boyish figure?

Of course not. But we do compare. We cannot help ourselves. As women, the healthiest thing we can do is to try to embrace variety and learn to appreciate our own personal attributes completely separately from any contrast with our peers. But that isn't an easy thing to do. It isn't easy to remember that someone else being thinner or more fashionable or more feminine in no way impacts your own appeal. Seeing ourselves as individuals and appreciating the beauty of that is a difficult thing when we are so programmed to compare.

Click the photos for links to the posts about them on Go Fug. Kinda' hilarious.

In spite of any sartorial missteps, sometimes they DO both get it right:

While still, of course, being so vastly (and fascinatingly) different.

...Oh, and on a completely seperate note, isn't Eric Bana hot?

I really doubt Henry VIII was so good looking.