How Black Swan is like a cinnamon raisin bagel (no spoilers)

February 10, 2011 at 3:05 pm (if I ruled the world)

A cinnamon raisin bagel is not a bagel. Don’t argue with me on this point because you’re wrong. Bagels can have seeds, even salt, but there was never a bagel made with dried fruit. Circular cinnamon raisin bread with a hole in the middle is some strange American invention, probably from the South* where we also get *shudder* sweet tea. My ancestors did not escape Eastern European pogroms toting cinnamon or raisins with their lox, of that I am sure.

And yet still, I love a good cinnamon raisin bagel. Raisins! Cinnamon! Dough! What’s not to love? But it’s a wholly different (holey different?) animal bread product. Just like Black Swan is not a movie about ballet.

I get…unreasonably upset, shall we say? when I watch things that I know receive the bizarre gloss of Hollywood. [Aside: Like in When In Rome where the curator (after running the opening event because, right, THAT’s what they do) walks through a gallery with a cup of coffee. (Yes, I had no problem suspending disbelief for the taking-coins-out-of-a-fountain-will-make-men-obsess-over-you part, but nearly yelled at the screen over an unrealistic beverage.) End aside.] And Natalie Portman is no dancer. It’s lovely and all that she studied for a year, but it’s an insult to ballet that they let her try. Artists are sometimes bothered when someone responds to their profession by saying, “Oh! I paint a little in my spare time.” The thought being that no one would say to a surgeon, “I like to do a little angioplasty on the side.” There’s an assumption that it takes skill and years of training to cut people open whereas art just happens. Hollywood tends to treat acting like surgery and classical ballet like art. Give Queen Amidala a year to indulge her childhood dance fantasies, then wind her up and let her go! I won’t get into the technicalities, but let’s just say that in the one scene where it was clearly Natalie dancing (instead of clever CGI applied to Sarah Lane‘s skill), the illusion was dead.

It had all the formulaic elements of a dance movie (ugly feet! oooh, she’s bendy! what are they doing to those pointe shoes? competitive women! narcissistic artistic director! climactic dance sequence! eating disorders!), but it was certainly not a movie about dance. A woman who had attained the level of success that Natalie’s character had would never be unable to dance Odile for lack of passion. Technique, she would have known, is the foundation for letting go.

As a thriller, I enjoyed it quite a bit, but as a movie about dance it was a cinnamon raisin bagel.

*There is absolutely no historical evidence for this (I, um, think), but I like to make shit up.

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All boys, all the time

February 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm (if I ruled the world, It's all about me, On dating and mating)

I am a terrible, rotten blogger lately and should be taken out and whipped with Red Vines. This one isn’t going to get any better, so if you’re expecting me to be coherent and not write in snippets, get ready for disappointment.

While waiting for a date last night (yes, he was late and no, we were not amused), a man approached me with Mardi Gras beads.

“You deserve some beads for rocking that coat,” he said, then put a strand around my neck and kissed my cheek.

Never underestimate the power of a good trench.


I have realized that whatever you’re feeling, Frank Sinatra sings it. Frank and I have been hanging out a lot lately. Mom could not be more pleased.


I’ve heard “More Than Words” on the radio four or five times in the last three days. My radio superstition tells me that this means the Head Injury* is either thinking of me or lying in a ditch somewhere. I can’t decide which to hope for.


The Valentine’s Day girls’ gathering included a little burning party. In Dancing Roommate’s backyard fire pit, we torched little paper hearts on which we’d written both the good and the bad, the baggage and the wishes, the loves and the hates…you get the idea. I’m not sure I believe that the Universe listens or rewards such offerings, but I believe in doing things with intention, so I burned the shit out of some people things. But towards the end of the writing process I was stumped. I turned to C for help. A moment later she handed me a heart:

Success with The Southerner

Keep in mind that C could well have meant a roll in the hay–I’m sure she’d define success that broadly, she’s an open minded woman–but she’s also the only one of any of my friends to have talked with him on the night we met. And she knows me, well, better than I know me. I just looked at her with a smile slowly spreading across my face.

And then I burned that heart last.

*The association comes more from my trademark sass than anything relating to the lyrics of the song.

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Bringing Back Shabbat

January 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm (if I ruled the world, in my head, plays well with others, present, the fam)

My local NPR station has a series they call Perspectives. In essence, any local resident can submit a two-minute piece on any topic with regional significance.¬† It has long been one of my favorite segments because of the narrative style, intimate feel, and range of topics. Today a journalist talked about a Yosemite camping trip where everyone brought his/her cell phone. It could be argued (and I might argue it) that Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Like my favorite National Park, its sights and sounds and smells can make you believe in a higher power. It can make you feel incredibly small, yet infinitely connected. It is an experience, I firmly believe, where one should be deeply present. The moral (resolution would be more apt) of the journalist’s piece was that he learned to turn his phone off when spending time with nature. I took it a little further.

My personal relationship with technological connectedness mirrors the ebb and flow society as a whole seemed to experience. I COULD NOT put the iPhone down when I first got it in 2008. I even began bringing it into the bathroom. (Yes, seriously.) I checked work email on weekends, checked personal email every five seconds, went status-update crazy on Facebook, started writing blog posts from the backseat of cars, learned to text while driving (not the cause of any of the four accidents I was in in 2009, by the way), and spent weekends at my parents’ house seeing more of that little screen than their two big hairy beasts. Then began the backlash.

I’ve found a balance that works for me. I check work email every morning, but don’t respond on weekends. I turn my phone off when I go out to dinner. I text only at red lights. I see the days when the phone gets left at home as opportunities to look up more. And when I forgot a charger in Colorado, I relished the day and a half of dings and rings and beeps not inciting a Pavlovian response.

As I sat at home this morning eating a real breakfast* and thinking about the Yosemite anecdote, I was reminded of the old Jewish custom of Shabbat. It’s an ancient practice that the Orthodox (and some others) still observe. Over the years, it was more or less translated into the Gentile notion of Sunday dinner. It’s a day of food and family and togetherness, but technically, it’s a day of rest. For me, it’s a day to be exactly where you are. To let tomorrow happen tomorrow. To return to a quieter time.

I think I want to bring it back.

My parents practice some version of Shabbat (though my father would scoff at the notion that anything he does has any connection to religion) in a very simple way. Since they moved into their new home in 2006, they’ve instituted a very strict rule about television. When dinner is on the table, the television is off. Period. And if more than one person is home for dinner at the same time, then dinner is eaten at the table…together. There are no exceptions, no excuses, no breaking of the sacred ritual that is focusing on each other for 30-60 minutes four to seven nights a week. It wasn’t the rule when I was growing up (then again I typically had dinner in a dance studio), but I want to institute it now.

Just one evening a week, I want food cooked slowly and eaten without the interruption of texts, calls, emails, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Reader. I want a rest from whatever isn’t right in front of me.

I want Shabbat.

What about you? Do you disconnect regularly? Or do you have any strict rules about your phone?

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“I’ll just be hanging around the mistletoe, hoping to be kissed.”

November 11, 2009 at 1:34 pm (future, if I ruled the world, in my head)

I think I should just be honest with you fine folks. Bare my soul, get the secret out in the open, throw caution to the wind, damn the torpedoes…you get the idea.

I’ve been listening to Christmas music since before Halloween.

Yes, I’m one of those people. But really, how do you not love this stuff? How do you not think of caroling (in four-part harmony with your high school chamber singers) and cookies and warm fires and pretty red wrapping paper with silver ribbons and hot cocoa spiked with peppermint schnapps and a candy cane stirrer and friggin’ Bing “All Things Good and Soothing” Crosby when you hear the sounds of the holiday season? How?

As far as I’m concerned, I can listen to this stuff in July if it makes me feel this good. Because, (to continue the soul-baring), I have not been feeling good. I’ve been sick. And tired. And tipsy. And irreverent. And annoyed. And grumpy. And fine*. But not good**.

Maybe it’s because I grew up without Christmas (shout out to all my fellow Chosen People…and then shoot me for saying “shout out”), but I just love the Jesus out of this holiday. Besides XMPR and Red Sox coverage, the Christmas stations (yes, there are several) are what I miss most about XM radio.

I own three ornaments and one stocking. This year I was thinking of treating myself to having the stocking embroidered with my name. First and middle, for those of you who know me that way (Hi Agent! And College Roommate!). I am also hoping to find an adorable miniature (real) tree under which I’ll put any presents and cards I receive. (That means I hope to receive presents^. And cards. Ahem.) God help me, this year I may even go see The Nutcracker. If I had a boyfriend, I swear there’d be a darn Eartha Kitt^^ impression going on in my apartment. As it is, I’m giving Mariah a run for her money when I belt it out in the safety of my car.

I’ve already told my mother that we’re having a family sing-along on Christmas Eve (and by “family” I mean that my dad will sit quietly and listen while those of us who can carry a tune sing). I’ve promised to bring home Love Actually for us to watch (as soon as I call the Ex-ALM and ask to borrow it). And of course I’ll bake up a sugar/butter storm.

So there, I’ve admitted it. I L-O-V-E LOVE Christmas. And I’m already celebrating.

How ’bout you?

*For the record, I did NOT mean “fiiiiiiiiiine” as in the word that follows “Baby, you’re lookin’…”
**I also haven’t been feeling like using proper grammar. Suck it.
^Handwritten cards that aren’t just a picture and/or a State of the Family note FULLY count as presents. Really. Nilsa sent a handwritten note a while back and it brought me all kinds of silly joy. And not just because that woman has THE COOLEST handwriting.
^^Minus the female impersonators.

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August 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm (if I ruled the world, plays well with others)

I don’t usually weigh in on politics (though it’s no secret that I lean strongly to the left), but you don’t have to agree with any or all of my first four sentences below to understand where I’m coming from with this post.

I believe in single-payer national healthcare.

I believe in eliminating or reducing costs for preventative care.

I believe I want to see more details on how “they” would pay for it and how the transition would happen.

I believe we should be presented with better information about how employers (small businesses and huge corporations alike) would be affected.

I believe that there is plenty of good, reasonable debate to be had on this issue.

But the majority of folks attending these town halls who are opposed to the President’s plan sound like idiots. I don’t claim that they are, nor do I claim that those opposed to the plan should not be heard, nor do I mean to say that they don’t have valid concerns, but I am sick of watching this extremist fringe of the Republican Party spread lies and behave like petulant toddlers.

I know how mind-numbingly boring the details of these bills can be* and I can understand why most citizens participating in this debate would not have read the proposal in its entirety (I haven’t!), but complaining about “un-American socialized healthcare” while worrying about what it would mean for your medicare benefits? Believing that the US government would euthanize seniors? That’s just stupid. Kind of like asking the President to produce a birth certificate…again.

*The intern charged with copying this thing? Yours truly.

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Things I just don’t understand

June 23, 2009 at 3:25 pm (if I ruled the world, in my head)

1. Why my mother calls me at work in the middle of the day to chat. Work is for work. (And blogging.)

2. The Barre Method. Isn’t this just a ballet class with bad technique?

3. Guys who don’t like to play with a woman’s hair. Even I like to play with my hair.

4. Peeing in front of someone else. I don’t care how intimate you have or haven’t been, there’s just no need.

5. Childbirth being a “beautiful” experience. It looks messy and painful and exhausting. Nothing about that is beautiful, even though the child may be.

6. Wearing boots in the summer. Sticky leather against my calves when it’s warm out? No thank you.

7. Techno music. Or maybe that’s just something I don’t like. Sometimes I get a little off-track.

8. How I manage to put my underwear on inside out at least once a week.

9.Why I don’t fix the underwear when I notice it. I usually dissolve into a fit of giggles instead and, well…forget.

10. Being afraid of dogs. (On the other hand, I COMPLETELY understand being afraid of deer. Those buggers are mean.)

11. The allure of Paris “No Discernible Skills or Talents” Hilton. How can someone worth so much be completely worthless?

11. How I know or when I met at least three of my Facebook friends.

12. Why Firefly got canceled.

13. The infield fly rule. Kidding! I totally get it. *smiles nervously*

14. Bad kids born to great parents.

15. Choosing vanilla over any other flavor of ice cream.

16. The appeal of Arctic Monkeys. Or Grizzly Bear.

17. Cheerleading. You know a monkey could lead those cheers, right? Perhaps even an Arctic Monkey. Take a dance class and stop bouncing.

18. People who are anti-gay marriage, but claim not to be anti-gay.

19. Why my thumbs are so much shorter than my pinky fingers.

20. How we managed to develop three drugs for ED, but haven’t found a cure for cancer.

21. The art of Dale Chihuly.

22. California Chardonnay. Why would anyone want their wine to taste like butter?

23. The fascination with boobs. You can have mine. Well, most of them.

24. Wanting to live in Florida.

25. Waiting for a “good” parking space when there’s an open one farther away.

26. Holding hands like you’re playing Red Rover instead of interlacing fingers like a normal human being.

27. Why I have to use a space heater in my office when it’s 81 degrees outside.

28. How you just stop loving someone you’ve loved for 38 years.

29. Men who refuse to wear certain colors (like pink), but go around a basketball court slapping each other on the ass.

30. How a man who went to Phillips-Andover, Yale, and Harvard never learned to pronounce “nuclear”.

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Call me

June 20, 2009 at 5:53 pm (if I ruled the world)

BS: I hate talking on the phone. My face gets hot.
Ex-ALM: I know.
BS: I reeeeaaaally hate it.
Ex-ALM: So I’ve heard. What if you got a bluetooth earpiece?
BS: I havea bluetooth earpiece.
Ex-ALM: You don’t like it?
BS: The battery is dead.
Ex-ALM: Oh.
BS: Yeah….
Ex-ALM: What about the earpieces that have a cord? You don’t have to charge those.
BS: I don’t like those.
Ex-ALM: You don’t like those.
BS: Annoooooooyyyying.
Ex-ALM: Ah.
BS: *Sigh….*
Ex-ALM: OK… how about you hire a person whose sole job it is to sit in the passenger seat of the car and¬†repeat everything you’re saying into your telephone? And then that person can repeat everything that’s being said on the other end of the phone back to you.
BS: I like it!!!
Ex-ALM: I thought you might.
BS: Ooh, and can that person speak for me in a British accent?!
Ex-ALM: A British accent?
BS: I’m certain the things I say would sound more witty in a British accent.
Ex-ALM: Hm… You have a point.
BS: And then they could use a French accent when they speak to me!
Ex-ALM: Wait… So this person sitting in your car relaying your phone conversations would say your entire half to the person on the other end in a British accent, but whatever the person at the other end of the phone said would be repeated back to you in a French accent?
BS: Exactly!
Ex-ALM: Now you’ve gone too far.

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Ghosts of Girlfriends Who Would Never Give That Ass a Third Chance

May 26, 2009 at 7:30 pm (if I ruled the world)

Dear Hollywood,

If Matthew McConaughey isn’t going to remove his shirt, then whyinthenameofallthatisholy is he in the movie?


People for the Objectification of Men


Dear Hollywood,

In real life, Jennifer Garner’s friends would spend the couple’s happily ever after thinking that she had married beneath herself.




Dear Hollywood,

Is the sickeningly perfect Daniel Sunjata character still available? Because I could get over my aversion to doctors.


Revising My Top 5


Dear Hollywood,

Me again. You missed me, right?

I’m pretty sure no one’s still buying that whole “psycho bridezillas are hilarious” thing. Did Bride Wars teach you nothing?

With love,

Rational Women Everywhere


Dear Hollywood,

When did Lacy Chabert get that rack? Maybe she’s secretly related to Jennifer Love Hewitt.

With empathy,


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Bits and Pieces

May 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm (if I ruled the world, shopping)

I’m scattered and preoccupied, so I’m just going to take a cue from Bridget and give you bullet points. Don’t take it personally.

  • I loved the car I totaled. I fell for it the way you fall for your second love. You think you know how amazing it can be, how nothing will ever compare to that first one, and then BAM! you’re in a Hooters shirt and a velvet blazer dancing with some kid with shoulder freckles. It drove fast, cornered well, and was blissfully quiet on the road. I could feel how much it liked to pass people and drive curvy mountain roads; we were made for each other. But I am moving through the stages of grief toward acceptance and it is high time I find a successor (NOT – how dare you?! – a replacement). I’m considering used 2006 models of the Acura TSX, the Audi A4, the Honda Accord, and the Lexus ES 330. Any thoughts or recommendations* are welcome.
  • Sephora gave me a birthday present. And I LOVE them. Almost made it worth braving the godawful smell of that store. My mom swears by the Sephora brand lipsticks (and we know how she feels about lipstick), but I’ve never been drawn to their products**. These glosses may turn that right around. I’ll just get them online next time and continue taking my brick and mortar business to a store that doesn’t smell like the inside of a trampy teenager’s fake cleavage.
  • I bumped into my neighbor this morning with his cute little fluffball, Will. There’s something charming and lovely about being able to greet both neighbor and dog by name. I just hope this doesn’t mean I’m ready to move to the suburbs.
  • The Angels and Demons trailer annoys me. The related History Channel programs annoy me. Dan Brown annoys me. I’m all for exposing hypocrisy in religion, but the hype around all of this feels like a Monet on an umbrella. The whole becomes less than the sum of its parts.

*Let’s not tell me I’m evil or materialistic or disrespectful of the environment or living beyond my means. Just…don’t.
**Their brushes, on the other hand, get two thumbs up!

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Just say no to jeans at the ballet

March 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm (if I ruled the world)

Aside: If Nilsa did Blogsecret again, I’d post about work. And there would be expletives like “chauvinist fuckwit” involved. /Aside

Dancing Roommate and I had a difference of opinion this morning. She’s going to the ballet with a male friend and plans to wear a dress. I mentioned that I think that’s nice as I feel wearing jeans to the ballet is disrespectful to the dancers. She thinks that the arts need to be democratized and that wearing jeans helps to do that. I disagree. I am all for democratizing the arts, but I don’t believe that that goal requires casual attire.

1) Buying “nice” clothes is no longer only for the wealthy. A simple dress or slacks and blouse can be obtained for $20-50 at one of many discount stores like H&M, Forever21, or Marshalls.

2) If someone can afford the price of a ticket to an SF Ballet performance, then I would think s/he could also afford a $40 dress or slacks and shirt.

3) As with most things, there are different levels when it comes to dance performances. The company associated with the studio where I take classes had a performance recently and tickets we $20. The sets, costumes, advertising, and caliber of dance was at that level. San Francisco Ballet tickets are approximately 3-5 times as much and the sets, costumes, advertising, and caliber of dance reflect that. I think the audience’s attire should reflect it as well. I don’t think that jeans are inappropriate for every dance performance, but just as you would dress to eat in a very fine restaurant, I think you should dress to attend a very fine performance.

4) Most of the people I see attending dance performances in jeans are wearing designer jeans. There is nothing democratizing about spending nearly $200 on denim.

5) As I’ve said before, I feel that everyone should show with their clothing that they have taken some time to present a polished face to the world. Not every day, not in every situation, but when appropriate. If I have an important meeting, I dress for it. I may be old fashioned, but I feel that it conveys respect for the person sitting across from me and respect for the work we are going to do. Dancers who have spent their lives training to perform with a renowned company like SF Ballet deserve the same respect, both for the position they’ve attained and for the work they are going to do.

What do you think?

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