Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

October is the month for changing leaves, apple picking, hot cider, Halloween festivities, and pumpkins! This year, I've had the chance to experience all of these wonderful things. I spent a good chunk of Sunday carving pumpkins and eating candy with friends. Here are our results:


Rupert, our pumpkin baby.

The carving, while fun, is tough work--lots of knife maneuvering, creative drawing, and gut scooping involved. When I saw these painted pumpkins on Unruly Things, I thought they looked so elegant and chic that I was jealous (love the black and white). Maybe next October!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Field Notes

These tiny little notebooks have caught my attention. Field Notes are only about 3" x 5", so they're perfect to throw in your purse or carry in your pocket, to write down all those lists, quotes, and deep thoughts that occur to me on an hourly basis.

I may just have to order some!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Show Review: Dead Man's Bones

There's something magical about a group of kids dressed as ghosts, their cherubic faces painted like skeletons, chanting "My body's a zombie for you" over and over, their youthful voices bouncing exuberantly from the rafters. Like some fantastical dream, this was the scene at the Middle East Downstairs last night--the low ceilings and dank basement air proving to be the perfect venue on a chilly October night to groove to the "gothic folk" music of Dead Man's Bones, the Los Angeles band featuring actors Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields.

Though Ryan Gosling began his career starring in such teeny bopper fare as Disney's MMC and Breaker High, he was soon earning both heartthrob status (for The Notebook) and critical acclaim (with his heartbreaking, Academy-Award nominated role as a drug-addicted high school teacher in Half Nelson and his Golden-Globe nominated role in the sweet Lars and the Real Girl, one of my favorites). In 2007, Gosling and fellow actor Shields bonded over their common fascination with all things supernatural, deciding to channel this obsession into a musical endeavor. They both set out to learn how to play and write music, coming up with songs like "Werewolf Heart" and "Flowers Grow Out of My Grave." After two years, they had recorded an album, with backup vocals by LA's Silverlake Conservatory Children's Choir. Both Shields and Gosling were drawn to using the unique and multi-layered voices of the young, a technique that lends a haunting, ethereal quality to their music.

It was the band's first official show, following the release of their debut eponymous album on October 6. The stage was set with a backdrop of a haunted house, a graveyard, strings of glowing white lights, and the aforementioned gang of ghostly kids. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect--the band lists among their musical influences The Cure, The Andrews Sisters, Joy Division, and James Brown. The event page had this to say about the band: "The outcome is an artistic aesthetic of old Universal horror films, vaudeville music-hall numbers, and silent-screen melodramas perfect for the month of Halloween." Though the set was short (about an hour), the music had the sold-out crowd dancing and clapping to the beat, wildly cheering after each song. Highlights included the raucous "My Body's a Zombie for You" and the daze-y "Pa Pa Power." The band's sound is an oddball mix of doo-wop, gospel, and synthesizer pop that melds into cohesive music you want to listen to year-round. It's vaguely reminiscent of The Arcade Fire, and Gosling's voice is just the right timbre to lend a spooky depth to the lyrics.

I know what I'll be playing at the office Halloween party, for sure.

*cross-posted at Bostonist*

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dressed to Impress

This dresser was profiled today on Design Sponge. I love it. I have a white dresser in my bedroom that is a little taller than this, but otherwise similar. I've had it since I was a baby--it was a mustard yellow originally, until my mom painted it white and put gold knobs on it. My plan has been to buy some funky new knobs to give it a little bit of personality, but maybe I should commission someone to paint it with an awesome scene too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

When a problem comes along, you must whip it

whip it 2 I saw Whip It, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, this weekend. Surprisingly, I was not disappointed--I pretty much got what I was expecting, which was an all-out fun celebration of tattoos, sass, girls beating the crap out of other ladies, and general hipster disillusionment set to an enjoyable soundtrack. Yes, it was predictable. Yes, some of the dialogue was completely twee. But can you really go wrong with a movie that centers on a roller derby team called the Hurl Scouts, whose members feature names like Smashley Simpson, Bloody Holly, and Rosa Sparks? No, no you cannot.

Bliss Cavander (Ellen Page) is a timid teenager stuck in backwater Bodean, Texas, forced to compete in beauty pagaents to please her mother, played with empathy and warmth by the lovely Marcia Gay Harden. When Bliss takes a shopping trip to Austin, she gets her first glimpse of roller derby, and goes to try out for the team on a whim. pigsWhat follows is pretty much your standard underdog team sports movie montage of wacky hijinks--the Hurl Scouts are the worst team in the league, but the women are fun and they lose with panache (chanting "We're #2!!" after losing yet another derby match). Inevitably, the scrappy novice Bliss is a flash on skates, and soon, the team is coming from behind to claim victory. Though the movie's trajectory here smacks of The Mighty Ducks in fishnets and eyeliner (the team even has two deaf players, The Manson Sisters, who are ringers for the Ducks' infamous Bash Brothers), there are some pleasant surprises: Alia Shawkat (Maebe Funke from the brilliant Arrested Development) crackles as Bliss's best friend and fellow Squaler-slinger, Pash; and though Marcia Gay Harden's character walks a dangerous line toward being a typical Texas pageant mother stereotype, the movie dials it back, never making a caricature of her. In fact, the mother-daughter relationship was one of my favorite parts of the movie, and I think it was portrayed realistically without getting too schmaltzy.

"Whip It" One of my major issues with the movie was the requisite romance element. Bliss falls for the "dreamy" Oliver, who in turn falls for her after they share a deep moment over a record (isn't that how all good hipster romances start?). Obvi, love ensues, complete with games of Marco Polo in a cornfield, sharing pickles/making out at the movies, and having sex underwater to a Jens Lekman song. Swoon! Ok, number 1, he's not cute at all. Number 2, why can't relationships be more clearly developed than "oh hey that chick is checking me out and she's cute so of course I am going to stalk-I mean, go to her place of work in a tiny town that no one ever goes to just so I can hang out with her" in movies? Is that too much to ask? However, I liked how the whole relationship scenario ended up, so the movie gets points for that.

In the end, the movie isn't completely cliche, and it's fun to watch, regardless of the pitfalls. It's even mildly empowering for the ladies, which is always nice to see. So grab your best girl friends and treat yourself to a movie that won't make you hate your life--I'm glad I did!

whip it gang

*cross-posted to Fringe Magazine