When Lauren tweeted me a link to these incredible time lapse videos of Paris (made from stitching together thousands of photographs by Mayeul Akpovi), I knew I had to share them. You know, once I stopped weeping into my keyboard. Jarring music choices aside (a nice background of accordion music would have been preferable), these are absolutely mesmerizing.
By now, everyone and their mother has heard of Baggu, but I never really caught on to the trend until recently. Don’t get me wrong, we try to use as many recyclable bags as possible for groceries and other stuff, but we’ve usually gotten ours for free and they’re not anything to write home about (though Trader Joe’s has a really cute selection). Baggu come in a variety of sizes, are under $10, and are made with ecologically friendly dyes and materials; the bag is one continuous piece of nylon (less waste) that can hold up to 50lbs each. They also come in about a million different fun colors, and (my dad would have loved this part) they fold up into their own carrying pouches. You can even turn your old bags in to be recycled and receive a discount off a new order. Want!
(Note: this post is not sponsored in any way, I just really like that striped bag).
I made an eye doctor appointment for tonight after work. It’s been about a year and a half since my last one, and recently my eyes have been feeling, how should I say it, like they are burning out of my skull. I’m using moisturizing eye drops two or three times a day, and my eyes still end up blood shot and burn-y at the end of the day. Now, admittedly I haven’t been wearing my glasses consistently, and I did spend a good chunk of the last week ugly-crying all over the place, but I’m thinking it has less to do with those factors and more to do with my current prescription. My eye doctor said my eyes could adjust to this prescription after a while.
I realized while looking back through my blog archives that I’ve had my glasses (the Huxley style from Warby Parker) since September of 2011! What?! And then I went all Gary Oldman and got the same style in clear frames. Obviously. Depending on the results of tonight’s appointment, I might be ordering a new shape frame. The Sims (above) look great, but I know what you’re thinking: they’re virtually indistinguishable from the Huxleys. Except they’re thinner and less aggressively hipster-y. I don’t need new glasses, I could easily send my current frames back to Warby Parker and have them update the lenses if my prescription changes, but where is the fun in that?
On Saturday, Herbie, Audrey and I went to see “The Great Gatsby.” In 3D, because obviously. We dined like kings beforehand, in case you missed the extravagant feast of breakfast foods on Instagram. The three of us were varying degrees of excited about the film, but we all seemed to agree that you shouldn’t go into it thinking it will be exceedingly true to the book. This is going to get spoiler-y, because it’s hard to write a movie review without giving some major plot points away. If you haven’t read “The Great Gatsby” yet, that’s not my fault. Readjust your priorities.
First of all, the movie starts with a voice-over of the opening lines of the book. Kind of: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since: Always try to see the best in everyone.” No. That’s not the line, and that’s actually a vastly different piece of advice than book-Nick Carraway’s father gave to him, and it wouldn’t have killed someone to get it right, considering they were so true to the book dialogue in other parts of the film (notably the ending, but we have a ways to go before I get there, in case you weren’t prepared) and how much detail they put into Tom Buchanan’s Hitler-moustache. If they need someone to fact-check next time, call me. The advice was, “‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'” When you consider the voice-over was being delivered by a movie incarnation of Nick Carraway as a ‘morbidly alcoholic’ patient at a sanitarium (what version of this book did Baz Luhrmann read? Are we just bastardizing texts now?) we were starting on less-than-solid ground.
Funny that both “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby” start with a depressed, drunk protagonist at a typewriter. Funny in that it’s not funny at all and makes me hate Baz Luhrmann even more, and we’re only 45 seconds into the movie. At about the one minute mark, Baz starts smacking you in the face with the symbolism of the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock and the eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg. You know, symbolism, which was handled delicately in the book! DELICATELY, BAZ. That was my biggest gripe about the film before I even set foot in the theater: I knew the subtleties and the nuances would be totally lost amid the flapper-themed keg party Baz had his cold, black heart set on. For fuck’s sake, Jay-Z was an Executive Producer. Can you imagine that introduction? “F. Scott Fitzgerald, have you met Jay-Z? You’ll get along. You wrote perhaps one of the most important American novels in history, and Jay-Z knocked up someone from Destiny’s Child. You spent time in Paris to hone your creative talents, rubbing elbows with the likes of Hemingway and Getrude Stein. Jay-Z and Kayne West wrote a rap called ‘N*ggas in Paris.’ IT’S LIKE YOU’RE THE SAME PERSON.”
Anyway, I hated the first half of the film. It was overwhelmingly, obnoxiously ostentatious, but lacking the self-awareness to see the irony of being over-the-top. It wasn’t excessive to mirror the excess of the roaring 20s, or to draw parallels to Gatsby’s opulent lifestyle, throwing parties to fill the emptiness of his existence. It was just opulence for the sake of opulence, and because Luhrmann has a heavy hand and can’t exhibit any form of self-control. The music was anachronistic and if we’re going to start making hip-hop versions of classics, I personally can’t wait for the Snoop Dog soundtrack of “Macbeth.” It was so Baz-y that it might as well have been called “Moulin Gatsby!” and was all just too claustrophobic for me. At one point, there was a confetti canon in the shape of a giant champagne bottle and life-size inflatable zebras in the pool.
What is this I can’t even.
Everyone raved about the costumes before the film was released, but I was mostly underwhelmed. No, you don’t get points for nailing the style of the timeframe in which your movie is set. That’s your job. Sticking sequins on every exposed surface does not authentic make. Baz managed to cock-up enough other important details that I’m not going to throw him a mercy-bone for making sure Carey Mulligan had the perfect Louise Brooks bob (but she totally did though).
But when all the glitter settled and Flux Pavillion’s grating dubstep nightmare “I Can’t Stop” actually finally stopped, we were left with Leonardo DiCaprio as a phenomenal Gatsby. He was incredible. His affectation, his undeniable swagger in a linen suit, his tearful speech to Tobey Maguire’s doe-eyed Nick about everything he’s done in his life for Daisy’s love, his maniacal chase to reclaim the past, it worked. It worked wonderfully, and Gatsby alone, away from the party was the first moment in the entire movie that I stopped hating everything about it.
Carey Mulligan is flawless, and that’s all I have to say about that. The role of Daisy is impossible for so many reasons (adding to the list of reasons why we should stop trying to translate this book to a movie) but she delivered a truly absorbing performance. These two alone sold the whole monstrosity for me. I bought into it and I let myself forget how the book ends, and it was beautiful watching them dance quietly, consumed by each other.
I’LL NEVER LET GO, JAY.
Other Things I Liked: 1. The JG logo that was pervasive across the whole movie, including the branding for the film. The art deco feel was flawless. 2. When Myrtle gets hit by the car. Always. Every time. Even when I read it, I start applauding internally. 3. While I maintain the music was unnecessarily current, this Lana Del Rey song just worked so perfectly. I’ve been listening to it on repeat for days.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio sitting anxiously next to macarons. SWAG.
5. That they incorporated the last page of the book verbatim into the ending. Could I have done without the Baz-effect of floating typewriter letters in the night sky, swirling around to form “borne back ceaselessly into the past”? A duh, but I’m just grateful for scraps at this point, okay?
If I had to grade it I’d give it a C. If you take away Baz Luhrmann it jumps to a solid A. What worries me the most is that this is setting a precedent for future book-to-film translations, and if we’re setting the bar at “OUTRAGEOUS SENSORY OVERLOAD EXTRAVAGANZA” in 2013, I fear for whatever version my future child will have to endure (6D total immersion with holograms, no doubt). Not everything needs to be “made current” and given a timestamp of a different era. The book worked so well because of the prose, and when you take the focus away from that, what do you have? An Australian megalomaniac with a hard-on for sparkle.
Heather at It’s So Suburban had one of the funniest tweets I’ve read in a long time a few weeks ago: “Holiday I made up: Pink Peony Day on Pinterest. It’s today.” If you’re on Pinterest, you know why this is particularly accurate, but definitely apropos recently. It’s peony season! It’s here again! I’m making it my mission to track some of these gorgeous blooms down and fill my house with them. The petals are so soft and fluttery they almost look like fine pieces of silk. Peonies are one of my favorites, and truthfully every day should be Pink Peony Day. What do you say?
This post is incredibly difficult to write, and I never expected to have to write it so soon, or that it would be so hard when the time came. That’s the thing about pets, though, they find the spaces in our hearts that are too small for humans, and they curl themselves up there and fill our lives with goofiness and sweetness for the time they’re with us. This week, my mom’s dog Mahlai had to be put down. She was (only) nine, and one of the cutest, most wonderful pups I’ve ever known. She was also one of the littlest; seriously, we didn’t call her a peanut for nothing. But it’s like Shakespeare wrote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” She was 10lbs soaking wet, but she kept everybody in line (Fitz was too much of a wildcard for her). When my old pug would barrel into her, she’d grab his neck fact with her teeny little crooked teeth and yank. She’d perch on the sofa and scowl at the shenanigans my mom’s other dog, Sookie, would get up to (I don’t call her “Sookie Monster” for nothing). She had the shortest legs, so when Sookie would inevitably beat her to whatever toy someone threw for them to retrieve, Mahlai would growl to back her up and, deciding her work here was finished, leave the toy and walk away. She was far too dignified for nonsense.
My mom got her as a puppy the summer before my senior year of high school, after my childhood Shih Tzu, Chelsea, passed away. Knowing I’d be going off to college, my mom wanted to make sure she had a companion. Enter Mahlai (pronounced like the “Dahlai Lama” but with an ‘m’, so basically “Molly,” but not, and don’t let my mom hear you say that that’s an acceptable way to spell it). She was the perfect lap dog and was never required to do anything but be adorable and tiny. She never learned a single trick besides how to “sing”: she’d throw her tiny head back and howl this beautiful, raspy little sonata. Oh, well I guess there’s also the weird trick she only did with me, too: If she was sitting on my lap facing me, I could tilt my head back, then bring it back down and look at her, and she’d tilt her head back. We could do this for hours. I don’t know how we even figured that one out, but it cracked me up every time.
She sneezed a bunch, was afraid of fast-moving objects, the opening of trash bags, and she hated those damn squirrels that kept running on the power lines in our backyard. She liked low-fat American cheese slices, neck scratches, snoring, loved her Valentine’s Day Garfield toy with heart-shaped wings the most, and wouldn’t eat her food if it was over a day old. She was happiest being loved and doted on, but sometimes she wanted you to just leave her alone already, didn’t you see she was trying to sleep?
Did I mention she was freaking adorable? Because she was!
Look at her, tolerating her bully of a younger sister so calmly!
Every Christmas, I received a present “from Mahlai.” I’m sad she won’t be signing my cards this year, or wearing her little Hanukkah sweater, or generally being cute and tiny the rest of the year through. She isn’t hurting anymore, though, and that’s making it bearable. For me. Less so for my mom or for Sookie, who surprisingly (un-surprisingly?) has been so, so sad over losing her best friend. I like to think Mahlai is busy getting to know Chelsea, and that the two of them are happily annoying my dad by breathing on him (his official party stance was that he hated dogs, but we knew better). That’s what they do, right? They go to a better place, without pain, and with all the American cheese they could ever want.
Rest in peace, sweet girl. We all miss you and love you very much.
Did you know the New York Times has a Haiku blog? I didn’t either until Lauren sent me the top one yesterday in an email. I apologize in advance, because it’s absolutely addictive scrolling through all of them and you’re not going to be able to get much else done besides reading them and chuckling every once in a while (“The worst advice for/ the college essay is, “write / a college essay”). They’re sort of mesmerizing and all wonderfully vague. I’m hooked. Do you think they’re looking for someone new to compile them? That’s a job I’d excel at. Sorry, I meant:
Do you think they are
Looking for someone new to
write haikus for them?
I’ve said it before but it deserves repeating: the friends I’ve made through blogging are some of the most generous and incredibly kind people I can imagine having in my life. And not just because they send me stuff in the mail (see here and here). But that’s what this post is about, so who am I kidding.
A week or two ago I came home to an Amazon package from Lauren. No occasion, she just figured I needed this book, and had set a calendar reminder for herself to send it to me when it came out. In true Lauren fashion, it was the week of her birthday, and here she is, sending other people presents. That girl…
It combines all things French with gorgeously styled interiors. Come on.
It’s basically book porn, but I’ve been trying to savor it in small doses so it’s still new and I can discover new delights within its pages. Lauren and I had one of our good-for-the-soul phone chats after I opened the package. Have you had one of those with her? They’re the best. Thank you, Lauren!
Nina has already proven she’s my personal Uniqlo delivery system once before, and she would’ve been off the hook for a while but that store has some amazing collaborations. They’re currently working with Ladurée (!!!) and selling t-shirts with their iconic macarons and logo on them, the proceeds of which go to charity. When she Instagrammed a picture of the line I knew I had to have one. Thankfully, Nina doesn’t mind playing personal shopper for me, and she graciously sent me this wonderfulness:
It’s this shirt, in white. Macarons, the Eiffel Tower, and the Ladurée logo on one shirt?? Are you kidding? It arrived yesterday and I’m wearing it today. Thank you so much, Nina! I promise to stop bugging you for a while :)
Did you know Theresa and I started a postal service book club? A few weeks ago I mailed her “Bird by Bird” with a note saying to send it back whenever she was finished. She did this week, and she included a book of her own for me to read. It’s “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg and I can’t wait to read it.
How cute is the bird-themed card she sent with it? She has seriously amazing handwriting, too. I’m already planning what book to send back with this one when I finish it. Thank you, Theresa! Happy reading!
I love getting things in the mail, but I’m feeling very spoiled and one-sided recently. I need to start paying it forward and mailing you guys some goodies!
I don’t know how it started (that’s a lie, yes I do: it all started a Pandora station of circa 2000 pop music in honor of May 1st and the Justin Timberlake meme “It’s gonna be MAY”) but I’ve been on a throwback boyband tear for a week. I missed the first wave of them, the Backstreet Boys and NSync’s of the era, but caught up just in time to be a gigantic O-Town fan. I know, I know, it’s okay, I’m judging me too. Anyway, boybands weren’t ever given enough credit in my opinion. Screaming preteens? Yes. Credit? No. A lot of them could actually sing but you kind of lost that in between all the typecasting (the “cute” one, the “tough” one, the “sensitive” one). If you missed out on the wonder that was Lou Pearlman’s first money-making harem of dudes, today is your lucky day: I present to you, the Backstreet Boys.
Slow ballad not your taste? No problem.
So in this particular iteration of boybands, AJ was the “bad boy,” Nick was the token blond cutie, Brian was the sensitive short guy with a heart defect (true story), Kevin was the strong, mature one, and then there was Howie. Oh, Howie. No one seemed to really like Howie, not even the band’s managers or video producers. Because while the rest of his band members are off chasing femme fatales or walking moodily through the rain, Howie is getting coffee. Yes. In two separate music videos, the poor guy is relegated to a coffee counter.
Either he had a debilitating caffeine addiction that interfered with his work, or the producers were just stumped for what to do with him for a whole four minute video storyline and were just like, “…and while that’s going on, you’re going to be drinking a cappuccino.”
Do you want to hear something crazy? J and I had only seen three movies in the theater together: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Taken 2,” and “Lincoln.” I don’t really know how to justify that, so we’ll just move along to this past weekend, when we went out for pizza and then saw “Renoir” at the Ritz, upping our count to four. A few weeks ago I’d checked the showtimes for the movie “Trance” when I found out about “Renoir,” and it jumped to the top of my must-see list.
It’s a stunning movie, soaked in sunlight and filmed on the French Riviera. Renoir has always been one of my favorite artists, ever since I was a (total art-snob) kid (I once stormed out of a Picasso exhibit at three, declaring the work to be “dreck.” What can I say, I guess I preferred Impressionism even back then) and this movie did not disappoint. It focuses on the later years of his life, after the arthritis has made walking and even painting a painful undertaking (“And what will you do when you can no longer use your hands?” his doctor asks in one scene. “I’ll paint with my dick,” he responds). Both Renoir and his oldest son Jean fall under the spell of Andrée, the beautiful model who serves as the artist’s muse. The film is slow and languid, the way artsy movies are allowed to be, with long camera pans across fields set to gorgeous orchestral music. There was one scene where Renoir moves to clean his paintbrush, and the whole screen is a tight shot of just the water in the glass, the orange paint swirling like smoke as he dips his brush in, once, twice. Obviously I got teary-eyed. Come on, did you expect anything less?
In the film, Renoir says that his work is cheerful because, “there are enough disagreeable things in life. I don’t need to create more.” Part of what makes his work so beautiful is how simply lovely and sweet each piece is, without ever looking cheap or easy. Happy, beautiful women, proud men, flowers, people enjoying life. I’m reminded of the movie “Amelie,” where Raymond Dufayel (“the glass man”) spends his time cooped up in his apartment, replicating “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” wondering what each person in the painting is thinking. (And also, the scene where he becomes so exasperated with Lucien talking about Lady Di all the time that he yells, “‘Lady Di! Lady Di!’ RENOIR!”)
But perhaps his most famous work is “The Bathers” which he painted in the last year of his life. Do you know what I’ll be doing in the last year of my life? Not creating things like this:
There was one scene that alluded heavily to this painting, with Andrée and another model laying in the grass, posed similarly.
I loved it, needless to say. I’m not sure how much longer it will be in the theater, so I’m happy to have had a chance to see it. Hopefully it will have a DVD release as well, and though I’d like it I’m not holding my breath for a soundtrack.