Friday, September 28, 2007

Hotel Chevalier


If you're jumping around on one leg trying not to pee your pants until Wes Anderson's new movie comes out (like me), download the free companion short, Hotel Chevalier, from ITunes (starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Princess Club

As part of our nine-year-anniversary celebrations last week we saw The Princess Club at Redmoon Theatre. I was darn excited about this show because, as the faithful reader knows, this insane princess-phenom terrifies me.

Redmoon's Princess Club - a collaborate creation by the director and actors - is an insightful look into the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the "princess" ideal. They tackle an incredibly wide range of issues of Girl Culture, from the virgin/whore image, the sweet/bitchy personality, the impact of dolls on young women, to the overwhelming pressure of body shape, conformity, and reliance on a successful marriage for true completion.

OMG! It was like they made a play just for ME!

The ensemble of five women created an incredibly physical play, and there is little dialogue - they primarily use a repetition of words and phrases like, "Seriously" and "You guys" that take on a variety of meanings. The severity of language reminded me of a my own awful years as a teenager, and the bizarre love/hate relationship I had with too many of my girl friends, the kinds of relationships that I try to avoid in my adult life, but I think a lot of women still run into - myself included. The characters in the play mock each other, gang up on each other, punish each other and less often vaguely praise and support each other.

They address issues of girl culture both old and new - using the plotlines of a variety of fairy tales as well as more contemporary examples - the Britneys and Lindsays who crack under the pressure to maintain a facade of perfection. It's hardly a wonder that the girls "go wild" in our culture of inconsistencies - be sexy! Stay pure! Attract a man! But don't be a slut! Be sweet, be pretty, be thin! But healthy!

One of the most wonderful things about The Princess Club is that the creators put so much faith in their audience. Widely open to interpretation (for example, whether the characters are dolls or women or actual princesses is up to you to decide) you can get as much out of this play as you put into it. And it's guaranteed to open a dialogue (or continue one, in the case of my family) on the challenges that face women and girls today.

through Oct. 7

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The children are the future, or, what's on?

I lost a lot of faith in today's youth after watching a few shows from the fall season, especially the season premiere of America's Next Top Model. I mean, even vapid, skinny 18 year olds should have learned this important lesson by now: Do NOT, under any circumstances, let Tyra Banks take you into international waters.

It's not their fault, people like this idiot insist on procreating. And at least 40 parents sent off their precious little 8-15 year old angels to Kid Nation, AFTER signing a contract that reads, among other things:


God help me if I didn't watch Kid Nation, and, what a surprise - it turns out kids on reality shows are just as annoying as adults on reality shows, although with slightly better vocabularies. How hilarious was it when they showed the little suckers that gold star and they went crazy? And the Seacrest was like, "No, it's REAL GOLD, it's worth twenty thousand dollars." And the kids were like, "Ooooooohhhh." They could have just given them little gold stickers and they would have been happy. Watching Kid Nation made me feel even more dirty than ANTM, but less dirty than Gossip Girl, which has the vague potential of being my new Veronica Mars.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

9 Years!

M. and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary yesterday (can you believe it?)! You know how much I enjoy Before and Afters:

September 19, 1998
September 19, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Our Living Room

Finally got a rug for the living room and now consider that room finished! Thank you, IKEA, for your inexpensive and 100% wool rugs! There's not much more fun than a Before and After picture, is there?

Before (front window):
I took these pics from different perspectives - our bookcases are where the previous owner's dresser was. The best feature: Kaya!

Before (side wall):

And After:
We got that green chair at a garage sale in SF for like $5. It literally looked like they it had been pulled out of a swamp. M. didn't want to bring it home, much less put it in our car, but I convinced him it had great style. I doused it in bleach, scrubbed and hosed it down. Now it's M. and Kaya's favorite chair and I can't convince either one of them to get rid of it. I like grouping photos together. There's a portrait of M. drawn by a robotic armed computer in San Jose, a couple-self-portrait of me and M. at the Tate, a pic of M.'s young granny with her sax, and two portraits of Kaya from friends.

Before (far end of living room):

And After:

I was fairly thrilled to see that Kanye West's new album was designed by Takashi Murakami - that's his litho hanging over our couch. The West album even uses the image from our print, Homage to Francis Bacon, Study of Isabel Rawsthorne - wee! I think the value just went up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Illinois, I've got your number.

Illinois, I've just about had it with you! First a bunch of gd anti-choice protesters show up at a new Planned Parenthood in Aurora, attempting to close the center and deny women access to health care...

sign this petition to show your support of the center

...and every day I keep hearing about how my commute is going to get WORSE if the CTA budget is not dramatically increased. It's hard to imagine any commute WORSE than the one I'm currently subjected to every time I go downtown.

contact state legislators to increase funding.

In other depressing news, we went to M.'s grandma's over the weekend. Her health is failing and she's very frightened and in pain and with few choices. It was frustrating, because it doesn't seem like there's much we can do for her.

Hmmm... must. show. something. good... how about...?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Autumnal Musings

Last weekend at the farmers market, we saw pumpkins, and I said, "What? It's fall now?" We went from 80 degrees one day to desperately looking for sweaters and hats the next. Nevertheless, after working up a little bit of a sweat doing some yard work yesterday, I decided to take one more dip in the lake and headed over to the beach. It was deserted aside from a few folks huddled in blankets on the shore. Ignoring signs that said NO SWIMMING! I charged into the water - which must have been about 40 degrees. I was fah-REEZING. But, oddly, after a while it almost felt warm. M. said I was probably getting hypothermia.

In other news, I've been amusing myself all week imagining General Patreaus defending all kinds of debacles, such as my continued unemployment (previous post), Britney's performance at the VMAs, the CTA... and, on the bright side, WHAT A RELIEF to hear his "report" on Iraq. I mean, I thought things were a mess over there, but it turns out EVERYTHING'S FINE.

ANYwho, while I was working on my yard yesterday, a landscape designer passed down the sidewalk and we chatted about the dismal state of affairs Right In My Own Front Yard. She had a nice way of framing why my yard looked like hell - she said, rather, certain things "weren't thriving" because they were in the wrong zone or needed more sun. Here's my plan for next spring - if any gardeners out there have any advice, or see that I'm wrongly zoned, or these aren't good shade plants, by all means, please let me know!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Petraeus Report on Kelly's Employment Status

"Members of the blogger community, thank you for the opportunity to address you today. Please keep in mind that my forthcoming comments on the status of Kelly's employment is meant to inform, not drive, her future actions. It is my recommendation that following the recent surge of job applications that a reduction in applications would serve to strengthen her jobless position. I suggest setting a no-later-than date of sometime next year, at which point she will most likely have a job, although that job will most likely be at McDonalds, or, with any luck, a Starbucks. In the meantime, it is my recommendation that we look on the bright side of Kelly's Employment Status, focusing on the vast amounts of high quality television programing she has access to every day. Reports of her extreme loneliness and growing hopelessness have been overly hyped and are, in any event, premature assessments of the situation. The reality is that she has a graduate degree in Art History and if you will turn your attention to the chart, you will see that it is fairly likely that a job will be landed at some point before she dies, based on reports from some people.
It should also be noted that she has had several interviews in the past year and has logged hundreds of volunteer hours at one of the finest art institutions in the counter-job zone. The outward failure of these endeavours indicates that she should rather focus operations on housecleaning, yard maintenance and photo book management, while giving credit to the significant sacrifices of a certain husband. It is also necessary to assess the very real danger of Kelly finding full-time employment whereby feelings of self-worth and added income will only lead to a sense of satisfaction and personal fulfillment. Finally, it should be noted that Kelly's problems will require a long-term effort, with no easy solutions, and everyone should be understanding of her despite her complete and utter failure in this arena. Thank you. No questions."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I like letters

Check out Spell with Flickr!

S P E C i A_McElman_070718_3101 L K

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's In My Garden?!?


A couple of Cicada Killers have built burrows in our yard, and M. and I have been watching them and marvelling at them. At first we noticed these rather large holes next to the walkway in the back - we thought they were from a snake or something. The hole is large, like the size of a silver dollar, and there's a big chute and dirt piled up all around. (I didn't take these pictures, but that's what ours look like). They're really big and scary looking, but supposedly harmless - except to cicadas! I was going to take a picture of one of the nests today, but I noticed the hole was partly covered up, but, after a little research, I figured out what had happened. The female paralyses a cicada and drags it down into the nest. (We've been telling really dumb jokes about being stung and dragged into the nest ourselves.) Then she lays an egg on it, then she leaves and covers up the hole (that's what I saw), then I guess she goes off and dies. Then, the egg hatches, the larva Cicada Killer wakes up and eats the cicada (ALIVE!) then it spins a cocoon, chills out for the winter and we go through the whole thing next summer.

Crazy, huh? And GROSS! Right?!? But, we're living and letting live, you know? Most of the stuff we've read says not to try to get rid of them, because they help balance the cicada pop. I feel kinda bad for them because we never had the ballyhooed 17 Year Cicadas.