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.