THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #159

LOVE:

Elvira:

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People don’t give her the credit she deserves, but Elvira is a hugely important cultural icon. She’s always been a part of my conscious, but I don’t know why. I remember seeing a cardboard cutout when I was a kid at a mall, and I remember being fascinated that somebody looking the way she did could be so acceptable to a conservative society. I don’t think that’s the usual masculine response, but has that ever been me? Nope. Earlier this week, Cassandra Peterson, the woman who plays Elvira was on Ru Paul’s podcast. She talked about her life, and it was fascinating how many experiences she’s had in her life. She’s one of those people that have had a hundred lives when most have just one. I was utterly charmed by her again, so last night while I was very busy procrastinating, I put on Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and could not stop laughing.

The movie is magnificently cheesy, but the message of it is so powerful. Elvira is unapologetically herself in a world that wants her to conform and be boring and like everybody else. But she never will. She has no interest in it, she doesn’t feel guilt for what she is, and this makes her so important and such a significant icon for those of us that are different. She is just Elvira and everybody else needs to get used to it. Mistress of the Dark teaches acceptance, celebrates diversity, and has a joke in every line. Fabulous film. And she’s a fantastic creation. If you’re never experienced the magic and wonder of Elvira, get on Hulu right now, dear reader. You deserve it.

Olive & Co. Gold Medal Blend Olive Oil:

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You know I’m a ho for luxury living on a pauper’s budget. Now that you know how to enjoy champagne without breaking the bank (bless you, André), it’s time to teach you about olive oil. It’s one of the most vitally important tools in your kitchen. I used to buy the biggest and cheapest bottle I could possibly find, and I knew no better. When you’re using it to cook, the olive oil isn’t really the most powerful flavor in your final dish. But, when you drizzle it on top of food, the cheap stuff doesn’t really taste like anything. It tastes like vegetable oil. I just assumed this is what it was supposed to taste like. But then I went to this little olive oil shop in Èze, France, seven years ago, and my mind was blown. Olive oil was supposed to be delicious and flavorful. But when I got back to America, the olive oil was still garbage. All we could get in Iowa was Bertolli. Nobody needs to suffer that way. Finally, though, the food revolution made it my way and you can get literally any gourmet thing in town without too much trouble. In the clearance aisle at Walmart, of all places, I came upon a massive bottle of Olive & Co. olive oil for like five dollars, so it went straight into my basket. Reader, I was terribly impressed with this Chilean olive oil. It is so rich and delicious. I love it drizzled over goat cheese, but it really  shines when it is gently warmed up on freshly popped popcorn. That is an obsession I can’t get over. Olive oil is so much better on popcorn than butter, especially with plenty of good salt. I’m on my third bottle of this olive oil, and I don’t plan on getting another brand. It’s not the cheapest, but it is not expensive. Go get some, dear reader, and treat yourself to something good.

MEH:

Haters Back Off:

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Haters Back Off is a Netflix series that is based on the life of Miranda Sings, a fictional YouTube superstar. She is obnoxiously convinced that she’s talented even though she most certainly is not. She thinks she’s a gifted singer, actress, model, magician, and more. She’s really the worst. I have always comedically identified with the character. She’s good fun and there’s nothing wrong with loving yourself. I certainly love who I am. Miranda just takes it to an extreme that nobody should in reality. Her videos, though, are hysterical, and I always get a good chuckle out of her bizarre warbling voice. Example:

Netflix, because they are the wave of the future, decided to make a series about the character. I thought this would be a fabulous idea. (I also have other ideas for you, Netflix. Hit me up if you want fun in the Egyptian desert, mummies, whiskey, Victorian-era costumes, and wit. (Don’t steal my suggestions, Ryan Murphy because these aren’t even my ideas.) Yes, I basically want a Netflix series based on the Amelia Peabody books.) Anyway, I was excited to tune into the show once all eight episodes launched this weekend, but I was rather taken aback at how dark they were. It felt like Napoleon Dynamite and Jerri Blank’s child up there on the screen, which is something that I should totally love. But I didn’t. I didn’t hate the show, but I surely didn’t love it. Miranda had no pathos. She is a character that is begging to be given sympathy and feeling, but her personality makes this impossible. When bad things happen, the viewer is struck by schadenfreude. The character of Miranda Sings works fabulously in short clips online, but it’s harder to palate her in half hour chunks. I didn’t want this to be true, so I soldiered through this weekend all the way to the end. Now, I did laugh, reader, and I still relate to Miranda’s character. Still, as the credits rolled on the final episode, I was left with this strange empty feeling. Sadness. I didn’t appreciate that, but I know that was the point. Miranda isn’t supposed to be loved, she is supposed to be reviled, but it feels wrong. I’m curious what season two will look like. If you have four hours, watch it, or don’t. Or do. It’s really up to you. You’re not missing out either way.

HATE:

Melancholia:

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I don’t often share negative things because they aren’t any fun. It’s too dark and too depressing. But I’m grumpy and I’ve been grumpy for days. I don’t know why. Normally I can take a nap and go for a walk and have my chin up, but that’s not working lately. Maybe it’s seasonal depression. I used to be convinced I had that, but I have come to realize that this might not be entirely accurate. (THANKS, MS!) Still, there’s probably some justification to the fewer hours of sunlight and my mood. But then I’ve been super busy with school and my sleeping hours have been cut short. I had been trying to sleep for seven hours a night because that’s when I feel best, but that’s not entirely possible at the moment. So I’m tired. And I have a lot to do and there’s no time for a nap. And I’m whining, and that’s gross. But then to compound my misery, yesterday I received an email from Egypt telling me that somebody I had been rather fond of died unexpectedly. It really has me upset. I had considered her a part of my Egyptian family. When I met Hassan on the ferry dock of the West Bank of Luxor this summer, I didn’t know what a profound impact he’d make on my life. He took me in and welcomed me into his family. His children know me, his wife was utterly charming. She made me gallons of tea, discussed the names she was considering for the child she was carrying, and welcomed me into their home. She made me feel like I was part of the village. And now she’s dead. Communication in and out of Egypt isn’t impossible, but they weren’t well connected with technology. I don’t know how to send my condolences or sympathy outside of an email. I don’t know what to say or do to properly express my sadness for them. I worry about Hassan and the children. His wife was the true backbone of the family. Without her, I have suspicions about the happiness of their future. And so, this is messing with my mind at all times. It’s adding to my melancholy. I just need to take a nap for a month. And I need to go back to Egypt.

Online Professors:

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I didn’t go to a traditional college at the traditional time. I scurried off to Europe and made bread. I had a longstanding distaste for the concept of mandatory higher education. Of course it’s not mandatory, but as a very intelligent person, I was expected to go. I get that now. If for some reason I ever have a child, though, they will certainly have a gap year before they go to school. The world taught me more than books ever have. You can’t understand poverty by reading about it. You can’t appreciate art without having seen it. You need to cruise the capitals of the world, see the pyramids, get stuck on a roundabout, walk the English seaside by moonlight. That gives you greater understanding of life. Anyway, I’m off on a tangent. I’m in college now, and I’m about halfway through, which is fabulous. But I tire of the professors. Don’t get me wrong, a great number of them have been thought-provoking and engaging, but so many have been terrible. I have a rotten one right now. None of the assignments are listed correctly, the syllabus doesn’t begin to match the weekly expectations, and she is dismissive when you call her out. She lies. I recently emailed her asking for what pages to actually use for an assignment days before the due date. She had the audacity to respond seven minutes after the due date saying, “I emailed the class earlier this week. Don’t you check you DMACC email?” I responded quite cheerfully, “My DMACC emails are pushed to my iPad, computer, watch, and iPhone. I have dug through all my trash cans and all of my spam folders. I even ran a search and read every email you’ve ever sent me. Didn’t happen to find it. Strange.” I haven’t heard back. I’ve never been so dismissive of a professor in my life, but she deserves it. I loathe that these people sit behind their computers, barely attempting to engage with students, grade things months later, and lack common decency. They get paid more than I will for many years and I work three times harder. I have such a problem with this. I’m going to get off my soapbox now, but her review will be scathing.

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