Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Et tu, Tom Hanks?

I hate when people critique a book they haven’t read. So now let me engage in a bit of self-loathing in action. How Starbucks Saved My Life is the inspiration.

I also hate Starbucks, but on the days when the coffee line in the student union is too long I go there. I get a latte. I engage in fake friendly conversation with the twenty-somethings that work there and hate myself a little bit more.

2 counts of self-loathing. Dang. I need to do something self-loving pronto. No, not that. I’m at work. Get your mind out of the gutter.

So back to this book that was reviewed in last week’s Oregonian. I see the title, the wet dream of some green-clad CEO.

“Shit. Fuck me. Hon? You’re never going to believe this.”

Mr. Crud steps into the living room, looks at the graphic of the book next to my accusing finger. “Jesus Christ.”

I skim the review. High-powered white man has job in corporate world. High-powered man loses job, has affair, gets brain tumor and needs health insurance so he applies for a job at Starbucks. Here he learns about the real world, you know the “get real” world, because most of his coworkers are young African Americans. No way. Fuck me. Again the black people have to help yet another white person see the error of his ways, and the ripple effects that his privilege has on the rest of the world. Instead of writing a lame memoir, why not use your New Yorker connections to get those people some book deals, oh great white Starbucks lover? Oh right, they are God’s teaching tools for clueless whitey.

Okay, so I’m putting words in his book, but you know I’m at least part right. Oprah is going to love this guy.

Yesterday I read the “People” section of The Oregonian. Tom Hanks is producing and starring in the movie based on How Starbucks Saved My Life.

“Hon? You’re not going to believe this?” I deliver the news

“I hope there are some magical minorities to show him the error of his ways.” Mr. Crud says.

“No doubt.”

My imagined cast:

Wanda Sykes is the sassy manager who harbors resentment against rich dude for all the opportunities he has squandered. She’s mean to him at first, and does her best to get him to quit, but after he proves himself and learns a life lesson about the plight of black people in America, she gives him a teary-eyed thumbs up.

Nick Cannon is the thug with a heart of gold. Despite his new start at Starbucks, he is drawn into a desperate circumstance—drugs or gangs, anyone?—from which rich dude must save him using the power of his privilege and skin color. The thug will save rich dude too one day, probably using his street smarts.

Perhaps there is a somber person from a war torn nation who shows rich dude just how lucky he is to live in America.

And a wacky stoner Indian guy who could be played by Kal Penn. He proves himself to be smarter than his duuuhhh exterior reveals at first. The rich dude uses his connections to get the Indian guy a better job. Change HIS life too. I could speculate all day.

One thing I’m not going to do is read that book. No way. What if I liked it? A self-loathing trifecta is more than I can handle right now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fashion Faux Pas I Have Known: An Incomplete List of My Signatures Styles

Mascara Eyebrows (aka What the hell are those caterpillars doing on your forehead?)
In college my friend Kimber darkened her eyebrows with mascara. It was very Madonna during her Desperately Seeking Susan years. Having dark hair (or at times green hair) the heavy, dark eyebrows suited her; they made her eyes pop, as the fashion folk say. Never one to back down from fabulous fashion, I too took to swiping a heavy coat of black mascara on my eyebrows. I thought I looked pretty marvelous with my eyes popping in all the right ways despite the stark contrast between eyebrows and hair bleached Marilyn Monroe (or more accurately for my aspiration at the time—Courtney Love) blonde. Not to mention my pale pink skin and penchant for wearing bright red lipstick. Yes, it looked like a box of crayons had rioted all over my face, especially when I colored the bleach blonde to purple as a young punk rocker is wont to do.

I kept the mascara eyebrow look for several years, well into my twenties when I really should have known better. When I see pictures from that era, I laugh. Mr. Crud, who fell in love with me during the caterpillar eyebrow days, laughs too. “What exactly were you going for there?” he asks. “I don’t know, but you married it.” Well, he did wait for me to retire the caterpillar eyebrows before getting engaged. He’s one smart cookie.

The Garter Belt Affair
Have I told you the one where everyone in college was fucking happily while I sat back, sucking on a Camel Light and wishing desperately to join the orgy? Poor me. In a bid for ultimate sexiness combined with my Riot Grrrl sass, I got into garter belts. Garter belts worn with ripped tights and boxer shorts or cut-off jeans. It wasn’t comfortable, the tights made my legs resemble sausages desperate to escape their casings. I always felt chilled where the ring of thigh flesh spilled over the top edge of the tights.

I officially retired this look one Christmas after my friends and I had to abandon my car on a highway off-ramp due to an ice storm that paralyzed the metropolitan D.C. area. Ignorant to weather reports, we made the trek to D.C. to see Circus Lupus and after the show, when we stepped outside, everything was coated in ice. We made it far enough that we could walk through the snow to a friend’s parents’ house, but damn that was a cold walk. “What are you wearing?” my brother asked incredulously. Desperation, dear brother.

Farmer Chic

Does every aspiring feminist have a baggy overall phase? My first pair were purchased at the Southern States store in Harrisonburg, VA as that was the only store that carried the fat-ass farmer sizes. During college, my weight shot up to a striking 250. Sure, I’m 6 feet tall but at that weight I could have considered trying out for the football team. (Perchance this had something to do with the whole not getting laid in college thing.) Anyhoo, I remember well the thrill of finding overalls in size 46. They hung on me like a dress, and I wore them almost everyday. No matter that they added a good 40 pounds to my already formidable frame. My friend Bob tried them on and could fit both of his legs in one leg of the pants. At the time, I considered this a type of flirting. I held on to the overalls until the weight came off and I could fit into a pair of cute Osh Koshes that actually fit. Now I only reserve these for romantic moments. Mr. Crud has a thing for overalls. If only he’d known me in college.

Mrs. Roper Days

My sophomore year of college I became a hard-core thrifter. One day I discovered a wealth of muu muus that would have sent Mrs. Roper into a jealousy spiral. For $3 each, I scooped them up and proceeded to strut around my conservative-ish college campus in them. For shoes I wore combat boots. I felt so unique and confident rocking the muu muu style. I had some motto about people in silly clothes having more fun. Uh, no, I believe that was blondes. Anyway, somehow the muu muus gave me a mystique that attracted the freaky kids from campus. Even though my plot to befriend the coolio weirdos ultimately worked, it’s still kind of odd that I achieved it by wearing colorful tent-like dresses.

Back in the Day
My transition from preppy jockish girl to punk rocker wannabe was not pretty. The revelation came late in my freshman year after becoming obsessed with U2, R.E.M. and the Violent Femmes, those gateway bands of the mid-80’s. I had polo shirts, suburban mom fit Lee jeans, some pieces from the Limited Express, Liz Claiborne, various business lady type clothes thanks to the sports team requirement that we dress “like ladies” for away games, and a single black t-shirt. Boy did that t-shirt get a workout.

When the initial stirrings of punk rock desire hit, all I could do was put on all my jewelry at once and hope that it freaked me up a little bit. My mom and I had epic battles over the color black. She obsessively monitored the amount of black clothes in my wardrobe. If the black percentage rose over her limit, battles ensued. She believed that if I wore too much black, it meant that I was depressed and a freak (um, which I was). A rationale that made as much sense as my high school boyfriend’s mother’s belief that the reason he ran away and got into drugs was linked with all those posters of scowling punk rockers on his walls.

In my day, you couldn’t buy punk rock at Hot Topic or Target. The accoutrements were hard to come by so you made do with some Spencer’s Gifts anarchy signs and a handful of band buttons from Penguin Feather. During the summer before my sophomore year I decided that wearing a bandana around my wrist was totally punk rock, thus I wore it everyday, hoping that the few cute skater boys who skulked around the food court would see through the bandana to my punk rock soul.

Then I discovered the miracle of safety pins, using them to craft bracelets, earrings, and, during one fevered fashionista session, I pinned them in the pattern of a peace sign on a men’s undershirt. The safety pins were a more successful signifier than the bandana and got me a little noticed, most of the “So, are you punk now?” variety, sneered by various teammates and popular girls. What a trick question! To answer yes is to sound like a pretentious douche, but yes, yes, that is what I want you to think. When I wasn’t getting asked if I was punk, I was asked if I was “progressive.” I felt more comfortable with progressive even as I didn’t quite know what it meant.

I bought any band t-shirt as long as I had and liked at least one of their albums. I caught a conversation between two of my skater-punk pals dissing one of the punk wannabe girls at my school because she wore a 7 Seconds t-shirt and didn’t even have one of their albums. “Fuckin’ poseur,” they snorted. I wanted to be called a poseur only slightly less than I wanted to be called fat. Either description would have devastated me. I made sure to be able to name a favorite song off each album and to scrawl lyrics in huge letters on my notebooks. I wasn’t going down without a fight.

When the eurotrash store, Le Chateau, opened up in Fair Oaks mall I found my next fashion stage. My most notable purchase was a pair of white creeper-type shoes that looked like they belonged on a golf course. I fancied myself more Minor Threat than Depeche Mode, but Le Chateau served me well and was a definite improvement over The Limited and Bennetton.

I pity the kids today. They have to try so hard to be outcasts. In my day, all it took was a bandana and a safety pin bracelet to get the teachers mumbling under their breath.

I asked Mr. Crud to help me brainstorm more fashion errors of eras gone by. “What about that outfit?” he nods at my ensemble of tenty dress, black leggings, and turquoise boots.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

I aim to toss some crud out to the world at least once a week, but it's been a hell of a week. Don't worry. I have an excuse:

To Whom It May Concern:

Kt will be unable to post on her blog this week because she is too busy creating art, damnit. She is working her fingers to the bone throwing together Crudbucket #7 The Yet-to-be-Named Issue, not to mention her foray into children's literature with Fiona: Queen of the Witches. Then there's this reading she's doing at the library on October 2. Readings don't publicize themselves, you know. So go easy on her. She's not such a bad kid. A little stinky at times, but integrity doesn't smell like flowers. It smells of armpits and Big Red mixed with a bit of stale beer and cigarettes, the kind that she decided to quit one week ago. It's going okay so far, except for Saturday night. What's a Saturday night without a cigarette or two?

Come back in a week. The brilliance will flow.
Mrs. Crud