I Miss The City, Roach Friend

movingA funny thing happens, when you fall in love. You start spending as much time as possible together—cooking lovely meals, educating your beloved on Mean Girls because he’s somehow never seen it, and gazing happily into each other’s corneas. It’s delightful. It is also the first step on the path to that great relationship milestone: living together.

Professor McGregor and I, much to the scandal of his grandmothers, have reached this sinful destination. We are living together. Since his job is tied to being at a certain university, I made the move. Armed with boxes of books and novelty fabrics, I trekked the 90 miles up Interstate 35 and into Professor McGregor’s delightful 1950s bungalow. This also meant leaving the wonderful, eclectic city I grew up in for a blue collar crossroads town of about 80,000 people. Cue the cultural shellshock. I quite like our little town, but it has been a change.

Readers, I miss Persian food.

That may actually be an understatement. Readers, I would sell my soul and half of my pre-censorship Nancy Drew collection for some sour cherry rice and properly made flat bread. When the dear professor and I go out to eat, we have three options: Mexican food (because this is Texas, not the hinterlands), Italian food, or American food. That’s it! If it’s from an Eastern continent, forget about it. Only heathens would want to eat curry! Saffron is the spice of the very, very delicious devil!  I’m now one of those people who, when traveling, insists on eating things I can’t get at home. Upon visiting Kate last weekend, I even turned down my beloved Dallas street taco place, because surely there was something more exotic. Namely: German food, French sandwiches, and my weight in pastries.

That’s alright, though, really. The professor is a pretty wonderful cook and has promised to make foreign foods for me. At least, my new town has good grocery stores and other places to pick up things on a whim. Except, of course, anything that looks like an upscale beauty store. You know all that fancy makeup we’ve waxed poetic about on Spinsters? I have to order it online. Along with my shampoo and detangler and cardigans and pants and thread, because even the JoAnn Fabrics here is small and terrifying. I’m pretty sure it’s staffed by quilted gargoyles, not humans. When I asked for Swedish tracing paper last week, one of them growled at me. The days of fashion emergencies—”This outfit will only work with a ribbon-trimmed puce skirt!”—are gone. If Target or Loft doesn’t have it, I’m out of luck.

You know what we do have, instead? Giant effing roaches, like the one that just now crawled in our house from the back porch, when I opened the sliding door. Sure, the city has roaches, but they aren’t allowed to get chihuahua sized! I swear to God this one is five inches long and wearing fingers. As I am sitting here, boarded into my office, it’s out there in the living room waiting for me. It’s because I bought that bug throw pillow, isn’t it? The roach is punishing me for cultural misappropriation.

If Professor McGregor doesn’t get home soon, I’m either going to die of thirst or brave the walk to the kitchen, be surprised by the mutant roach, scream, and have it fly into my mouth. Upon whence, I will die of a terror-induced heart attack. This is life away from the big city.

This is love.

– Grace

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I Got 99 Problems, But a Bat Ain’t One

batman_cryingInternet, you’re in a dark place. It’s been a really rough week for you, I get it. First, Kimye’s baby turned out to be not a tabloid mâché doll, then N*SYNC both implied and denied VMA reunion rumors. That kind of stress can be hard to deal with. So, it’s no wonder that you proceeded to flip shit over the news that Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman. You just wanted to see him out that door, baby, bye bye bye!

Still, I think it’s time to simmer down. Is Ben Affleck a left field choice for Batman? Of course. It’s hard to envision him as a superhero and not immediately run screaming for the Febreeze, thanks to that flaming pile of choleric donkey waste, Daredevil. However, I think you’re missing the point. Batman v. Superman was never going to be good. They could reanimate the corpse of Cary Grant, cast him as Batman, then guarantee a 3D nude scene. It still wouldn’t save this movie.

It’s going to be wretched. Let’s discuss why!

Batman v. Superman: Y’all, it’s called Batman versus Superman. That’s right, the plot of the movie is right there in the title: the Man of Steel fights against the Man of Rubber Nipples. There could not be a more trite movie concept. Here, I’ll write the screenplay myself:

Superman: Gee willikers! Something bad is happening in Gotham! I better get down there and save the day.
Batman: Hey, Tights McGee, this is my turf. Also: RACHEL!
Superman: I don’t know, Mister. You seem to have pretty outlandish methods. Someone is bound to get hurt!
Batman: This is Gotham. They’ve already been frozen, nerve gassed, and poisoned by evil plant venom. I think they can handle my scary gun. Back off.
Superman: You shoved me! That’s a challenge!
Batman: Sure is, Martian Man.
Lex Luther: LOOK A REAL BAD THING IS NOW HAPPENING, BECAUSE YOU TWO WERE TOO BUSY FIGHTING. EVIL CACKLE!
Superman and Batman: Let’s work together reluctantly!

Yes, Warner Brothers, I am available for hire. I’ll even throw in a homoerotic training montage just for funsies. Zach Snyder will get to go all 300 with it!

Zach Snyder, himself: Look, as soon as they attached Snyder to direct, this movie was all over. Snyder has never, not ever, made a reasonably edited film. This movie will be forty-five minutes too long, filled with “meaningful character development” scenes that solely consist of brooding looks, and will be topped off with glowing alien genitalia. That’s how he rolls! Let’s count ourselves lucky that he can’t spray anyone with CGI gold body paint in this one.

The Batman Voice: Do we really have to discuss this one? It exists and it is awful. It’s also so embedded in the audience’s expectations that it must be kept for continuity’s sake. Hooray! Also: RACHEL!

aquaman-postersDolphin Erotica: It’s common knowledge in Geekland that Batman v. Superman is trying to accomplish one thing: set-up an eventual Justice League movie to rival Marvel’s success with The Avengers. That’s awesome and all, but have you actually seen the original Justice League members? Sure, there are the cool kids like Batty and the Flash, but the league also features Martian Manhunter (He’s a big green martian who hunts criminals! He’s just as lame as he sounds!) and Aquaman.

Aquaman.

The blonde dude who speaks to sea creatures and wears scales. AQUAMAN! The most non-terrifying superhero who’s ever existed. “Oh no! Don’t sic the dolphins on me, Aquaman! I’ll only…move onto dry land where they can’t get me.”

Honestly, after certain studies in the 50s showed just how much dolphins love love humans, I’m surprised this dude isn’t permanently pushed into the background. We know what you’re saying to those porpoises, Aquaman, and we are not amused! Sexual harassment harms marine mammals too!

karlKarl Urban: Finally, we have the real problem with this movie. Karl Urban was supposed to be cast as Batman, but had to decline due to scheduling issues. You see, it’s not that Affleck is going to be a bad Batman, it’s only…he’s not Karl Urban. There is no gleam in his eye or rugged cut to his jaw! He doesn’t have the same delightfully sarcastic delivery! He’s not a Kiwi! Karl Urban could have, just maybe, done what zombie Cary Grant couldn’t even accomplish now: save this damned movie.

As it is, I’ll be bringing my animal crackers to this one. Maybe if I throw enough of them at the screen, they’ll get the hint and switch to Armageddon halfway through? At least, in that awful Affleck flick, he wasn’t wearing rubber tights.

– Grace

I Am Here To Suck Your Blood (and Culture Wars)

12129__1gellar_lToday, my secret was unleashed on the world. One of my college friends writes a book blog and, in today’s post, casually mentioned me. Not, much to my chagrin, as that up-and-coming writer or the girl who threw amazing Halloween parties, but as something altogether worse. I am the girl who gave her Twilight, pronounced it “SO GOOD,” and temporarily ruined YA literature for her in the process.

That’s right, chickens. I once liked Twilight.

A lot. I felt about Twilight the way Liberace felt about sequins: utterly beguiled. The story of Bella & Edward made my heart fucking jitterbug, y’all. Reading it, I laughed and cried and smiled over the triumph of vampy love. When I was done—less than twenty-four hours after picking it up—I loaned it to every girl I knew. Since these were the Halcyon days before “Robsten” and “I Drive Like A Cullen” bumper-stickers, there were quite a few people to receive my fangirl gospel. I told them it was the best book ever, forced it into their hands, and waited to share in its glory.

I am totally mortified about this. I am, also, not. Have I since completely rejected the series? Yes, indeed. The feminist in me, much stronger than she was at age nineteen, hates wimpy wet crumpet, Bella. I think vampires should explode, when exposed to sunlight, and that there are only two reasons a 100 year-old dude marries a teenager: mommy issues or too many nights watching Deep Throat. Either way, not my dream date. Twilight is problematic on both a craft level—one more damned adverb, and E.B. White would have reanimated and gone on a head-bludgeoning rampage—and as a thematic representation of genre. I don’t like it.

And, yet…it seems disingenuous to malign Twilight the way I have in past years. Hype and hindsight have destroyed my love of it, yes, but there was once love. The writing isn’t wonderful and the characterizations put teenage girls back a good fifty years, but so many readers have responded to it for a reason. So, is it just that vampires are foxy? Or that young women like escapist fiction, because our brains are wee and mushy? Those are the easy (read: offensive) answers people like to argue. The more I think about it, the more I think there is something redeeming in Stephenie Meyer’s series, just as there is in all popular fiction.

Getting millions of readers to feel for your characters is no easy feat. People don’t stand in three-day lines or tattoo book quotes on their bodies for every vampire novel that comes out. Meyer’s strength is, perhaps, just that: triggering strong emotion. Similarly, Dan Brown really is excellent at plotting and James Patterson paces books brilliantly. I don’t think they’re the best writers ever, but they also aren’t as bad as most of us literary snobs make them out to be. Things aren’t popular because readers are weak-minded, they’re popular because readers care.

It shouldn’t be embarrassing to care. You can like popular fiction and still be an intelligent, thoughtful person. My own bookshelves are proof that pink covers can peacefully coexist with scientific tomes. Neither is inherently better. I sincerely don’t love Twilight anymore, but I do love what it once sparked in me. Passion for the printed word should be celebrated, not reviled.

Yes, my dear Mr. White, even if that word ends in –ly.

– Grace

Selling Sludge to Friends and Strangers: A Guide

beauty-avon-cropswscan10219Hello there, Turboganic Wondergoo partner! We at the Turboganic Wondergoo Alliance of Toronto have heard your pleas. TWAT, you said to us, I know how awesome Wondergoo is, but selling it to lesser mortals is so hard. People just don’t recognize quality sludge when it’s advertised to them! How can I make them listen?

We know, plumpkin. It’s a battle! But you didn’t get in the Wondergoo business, because you liked the easy road, did you? No, you got into it because you are passionate. Wondergoo has made you a better mom, sister, dog walker, and human. You sell it, because you care. And since we care about you, we’ve come up with this handy sales pitch template. Simply fill in the details of your intended victim customer, and—voila!—a practically guaranteed Wondergoo sale. Send it to all of your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and random e-mail contacts! Spread the goo gospel, partner!

Dear [Facebook friend you haven’t seen in 10 years],

Hey girl! How are you doing up in [horrid locale]? I was so excited to see that you [got engaged/had a tiny person/finally got those growths removed]. It’s so awesome that you [landed a man despite your tics/were allowed to procreate/don’t have to wear turtlenecks anymore]. I’ve really missed your smile!

6a0105356c398f970c0115700781f6970c-piIt occurred to me that someone at your stage in life could use a hand, however. It can be hard to [please a man/raise a child/monitor new growths] and maintain expected female beauty standards. Looking at pictures, it seems like you are having just as much trouble as the average woman! Never fear, though. I have just the solution for you. Have you ever heard of Turboganic Wondergoo?

It may be hard to believe, given my shiny locks and perfect chin, but I too once struggled with such things. Not to your extent, of course, but my feet did smell sometimes. That was before I discovered Turboganic Wondergoo, of course. A substance—some call it, affectionately, a sludge—made from the waste byproduct of rare undersea cave snails, Wondergoo is truly a miraculous cure-all. It can clear up blotchy skin, melt unwanted pounds, erase butterfly tramp stamps, beautifully curl nipple hair, and even attract men with its pleasant musk. Why, in your tough case, I bet it would even do all five!

Nevermore do you have to be embarrassed about your, let’s be honest, troll-like self. Slather a little Turboganic Wondergoo on your problem areas and you’ll be transformed! The naturally occurring nutrients in undersea cave snail waste byproduct will leach into your poor, ravaged cells and completely redecorate. The USDA has been slow to approve Turboganic Wondergoo, just because a few people’s lady bits fell off, so the only way to get this miracle product is through licensed sellers like myself. If you’re interested, send me a quick e-mail, and I’ll set up a personal Turboganic Wondergoo consultation for you.

arts-graphics-2005_1159686aOnce you discover the joys of Wondergoo, you’ll want to spread the gospel, trust me. Luckily for you, I also do Wondergoo dinner events and bachelorette parties. Nothing says [ready for marriage/moderately adequate parent/goiter-free] like a goo party! Even better, if you decide to host a party, you’ll get a one month supply of goo and a battery-operated internal goo spreader absolutely free. Such a deal, right?

I have open phone appointments all next week, but they’re going fast. Don’t be the only [bride/mom/creature] on your block without Wondergoo!

With goo and love,

[Becca]

That’s it, Wondergoo Gal! Take this easy template, send it to every person you’ve ever met, and you’re all set. Don’t forget, the top three sellers from our region will win an all expenses paid trip to the 2013 Turboganic Wondergoo Sales Conference in sunny Orlando! Don’t you want to meet the other up-and-coming goo businesswomen? Then, get selling, darling!

– TWAT Team

(Written by Grace, who has received one too many Advocare/Rodan-Fields/Herbalife emails lately.)