Saturday, December 17, 2011

Girls, Interrupted

I saw Young Adult last weekend, having heard close to nothing about it.  That means that unlike a lot of audiences I went in with no preconceived notions from trailers or advertising, which means that unlike reviews I've read from several critics, I wasn't expecting a comedy.  I imagine the actual movie is sort of a sucker punch if you're expecting a comedy – there are funny parts, but mostly the only real "comedy" is of the second-hand embarrassment variety.  

Still, I was surprised to read the really negative review on Pajiba today.  (Be warned, there are spoilers there.)  And since I'm going to probably hit some spoilers too, I'll warn you not to keep reading if you don't want to know more about the movie.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tara's Top 10 Christmas Songs

It may surprise you to hear that I still like Christmas music even after years of working retail.  I do, though.  Maybe not the really obnoxious and overplayed stuff – honestly, if I hear one more cover of "Baby Please Come Home" I might kill somebody – but there's a lot of great Christmas music out there and the novelty of only being able to listen to it for about a month every year means it's tough to really get sick of.

And so, in no particular order, here are my ten favorite Christmas songs.  They're not terribly traditional, you may notice.  I do like traditional carols.  But I find updated versions or newer songs more fun for singing along in my car or bopping along to with friends.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jon Stewart, I love you.

Whenever I need a dose of sanity in an insane world, I turn to The Daily Show and Jon Stewart calms me by convincing me that someone is as gobsmacked by the shit that goes on in our government as I am. 

This is a clip of him commenting on the due process debacle I blogged about last week.  I kept looking for a quote to pull as a preview, but really the whole thing is so good that you should just watch it yourself. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So you've encountered a girl in the real world...

Meatspace!  It's scary.  There are girls there, and there's a way lower chance that they're actually 450-lb. men in Chee-Tos stained tighty whities.  So it seems a natural extension to my last post to include some tips on dealing with us out in the wild. 

But Dr. Nerdlove covers it far better than I ever could, so I'm going to just let him tackle this one for me.

Gents, listen to the doctor and Don't Be A Creeper.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So you've encountered a girl on the internet...

This is probably pretty well-trodden ground, but somehow it seems like the message hasn't been absorbed as much it could be, so I'm treading it again.

Hi, my name is Tara.  I'm a girl.  I hang out on the internet a lot.  I blog, and I tweet, and I reply to tweets, and I hang out in the occasional chat room.  Sometimes you can even watch me try to be funny.  I like to think I'm a mostly nice person even if my online persona is made up largely of my most caustic and sardonic traits.

But nice as I may be, the chances are good that I am never going to have sex with you.  I'm sorry.  It's nothing personal.  (Or maybe it is, but we'll get to that later.)  I'm also never going to get naked for your amusement or cybersex with you or any of the other weird things you may be hoping I'll do if you just ask on the right day.

And therein lies the rub (THAT IS NOT A PUN OR AN INNUENDO):  there seems to be this thing where men on the internet feel as though it's perfectly fine to say things to women on the internet that you wouldn't dream of saying to us in person.  (Or maybe you would.  I don't know your life.  But if you would, then good luck with that whole sex thing because DAMN.) I'm torn as to why this might be but best I can tell it breaks down to three potential reasons:

1) Entitlement.  Culture is often such that women are seen as objects who exist for the arousal/entertainment of men.  Therefore some men feel entitled to use us as such.

2) Internet anonymity.  You wouldn't dream of saying certain things in person because there would be immediate and humiliating and/or painful consequences.  But behind the safe curtain of the internet you can say whatever comes to mind with little fear of reprisal.

3) Ignorance.  Maybe you just really don't know that what you're saying is not OK.

"He asked what color my panties are – it must be LOVE!"
Now I'm not saying all men are drooling mouthbreathers, so please hold all flames until I've actually earned them.  I know lots of men, and many of you are very nice indeed and quite able to talk to girls.  If you find yourself nodding at any point during this post then you probably fall into this category.  But some of you could really use some help with not being creepsters, whether purposely or not.  So here goes.

You've encountered a girl on the internet!*

It's dangerous to go alone, so take this primer to help you on your quest for... whatever it is you're questing for. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

R.I.P. Due Process

Well, it's official.  The terrorists have won.

Senate Votes Against Due-Process Rights

Is it lawful for the president to order any American held indefinitely as a terrorist, without formal charges, evidence presented in open court, a trial by jury, or a standard of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt"? The U.S. Senate had a chance Wednesday to assert that no, a president does not possess that power -- that the United States Constitution guarantees due process. 


The U.S. Senate refused to affirm that American citizens arrested in the United States shouldn't be subject to indefinite military detention on the president's order. 

We now live in a country where you can be arrested, shipped off to some off-shore prison, and left there to rot for the rest of your life without ever being given a reason why or a chance to defend yourself.  Why?  Because Al Qaeda, that's why.  Because they successfully attacked us and we did the rest for them, spinning ourselves into such a frenzy of fear and jingoism and xenophobia and hatred that we're silling to toss our own rights out the window for the illusion of safety.   

I could toss around that Ben Franklin quote about liberty and security, but we've all head it a thousand times and it didn't make a damn bit of difference.  At the end of the day we nodded our heads and then voted in the guys who would wipe their asses with the Constitution because they told us they would make us safe. 

We now live in a country where airport security gets to go through your belongings and see you naked.  Where due process is a thing of the past.  Where having a foreign accent and being on an airplane at the same time makes you a terror suspect.

What happened to us?  What happened to "land of the free, home of the brave?"  To "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free?"  We got attacked, yes.  It was terrible and I wouldn't dare deny that.  But the country I grew up being taught about in school wasn't one that would cower in the face of such a thing.  It wasn't a country that would cut off it's nose to spite it's face the way we have in the last ten years.  We've let fear turn us into a shadow of what America was built to be, and now we are the huddled masses hiding behind a ruling class that hates us in the hopes that their derision will afford us some level of security, whatever the cost.

People complain that the Occupy movement has no clear focus – I wonder if maybe their focus isn't broad enough.  Yes, we're being screwed by the banks and the wealthy.  But we're also watching our rights get shaved away a little bit at a time and our quality of life become a fairy tale.  We're still embroiled in overseas wars with vague purpose and exit strategies.  There's still no tower at WTC1, but damned if we kept them Muslims from building a community center.  The man who planned the attack that started our "security" downward spiral is dead, and all it yielded us is a nightmarish period of internet bloodlust because we're so afraid we can't see the forest fire through the trees.

And we aren't any safer. 

I have a tendency to get apocalyptic and paranoid about these things.  Maybe I watched too much X Files in the 90s, I don't know.  But I feel like Congress casually waving away due process is worth a little paranoia.  This one is big.  It's hard not to look at those in charge and wonder if they really don't just hate us or see us as some lesser breed.

Bad Religion recorded this track over a decade ago. Maybe we should have asked them what to do since they apparently saw it coming.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Keep this elf on the shelf, please.

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center with a certain Kevin I know. And it was lovely – that tree really is huge, and the artwork on the building is gorgeous, and it wasn't even all that cold. There were some pretty great performances by Michael BublĂ© and Katherine McPhee, and even though I'm pretty sure Tony Bennett had no idea where he was he sounded just fine.

But then this happened.

Now it didn't happen live, because – big secret! – parts of the show were pre-taped, including Master Bieber's sadistic torture of a poor innocent Drummer Boy there.  But since we were right underneath the tree (behind it, not across the skating rink), we watched all the performances on the big screens they had set up anyway.  (And trust me when I say that even though he wasn't there, just the words "Justin Bieber" appearing on a screen or being said into a microphone awoke an ecstatic shriek in the crowd the likes of which you'd likely hear if Jesus showed up with Elvis and the deceased Beatles and announced a summer tour.)

Live or not live isn't the point, though.  The point is that this... whatever it is happening here is awful.  I stood there, mouth agape in horror as I watched this good-looking kid in an oversized bellhop uniform take a perfectly nice Christmas song and beat it up like he wanted the Little Drummer Boy's lunch money.  And that's before Busta Rhymes even showed up.

It's not that I'm some Christmas carol purist.  I don't mind an update or an irreverent holiday tune.  (In fact I'll be putting together a list of some of my favorite Christmas songs to post here later in the month).  But there's a difference between "irreverent" and "really really bad."  And this... this was bad. 

Do I begrudge the teens their idol?  Of course not.  I was among the shrieking masses at a Tiffany/New Kids On The Block/Tommy Page triple bill when I was 14.  Teen idols are a part of our culture, and sometimes they're talented and sometimes they're not.  The thing that really gets me about Bieber is that he really can sing – it's obvious.  But instead of just taking a lesson from Mr. BublĂ© and using that talented voice to perform a song in a simple, confident way without any frippery, he hops around like Peter Pan on meth and looks like he's got kidney stones while he's belting and he raps and plays air guitar and dear god just make him stop.

The parts where he actually sang the melody were quite nice.  I'm sure he's a lovely kid.  I just hope he grows out of this... whatever it is.  And that Mariah Carey didn't permanently damage him in any way for the thirty whole seconds they seemed to actually work together on this steaming hot mess. *

*Full disclosure:  my retail job plays about four different versions of this song every holiday season as part of our music rotation, which means I hear it about six times a shift.  I used to love this song.  Now it gives me rage blackouts.  And I'm grateful for that since it spared me any more time looking at Mariah's eye sore of a Santa outfit in this video.  Remember when she wore clothes?  Those were good times. 

Welcome to my new playhouse.

Hi there!  Come on in.  Have a drink – but stay away from the Pepsi Throwback; that's all mine.  Welcome to my new little corner of the internet.

Here you'll find a potpourri of things:  current events, pop culture, baseball, random makeup/nail polish stuff, or anything else that may be on my mind.  I'm a diverse gal. 

Don't worry, A La Mode isn't going anywhere.  I just wanted a more generalized space where I can tos some of the other stuff that swims around my brain on a daily basis.  I'll do my very best to keep it interesting. 

I'll likely also use this space to post my work on Radio Dead Air (which is live Mondays from 9pm-2am).  Nash hosts the show, but I step in to sidekick for a bit every week.  Check out what I do.

You can also follow me on Twitter for short-form randomness.