THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #161

LOVE:

Turbans:

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I don’t remember when my passion for turbans began. It was long before one was wrapped around my head on the Giza plateau when I rode a camel around the Great Pyramids. I remember seeing paintings at the National Portrait Gallery in London with several Romantic poets jazzing the joint up with their turbans. I wanted to wear one. But then I think back farther, and I think the obsession began after the first time I watched Sunset Boulevard. I was so lucky to stumble on that Laser-disc at the Half Price Bookstore. There was nothing greater than seeing Gloria Swanson on the screen, delivering her lines with aplomb, and chewing through the scenery. In one of the more iconic scenes, Gloria as Norma Desmond, sits in her Hollywood mansion watching herself on the screen. Her eyes sparkle with passion, her cigarette burns slowly sending up tendrils of smoke, and her hair is tucked up inside of a turban. I wanted to wear that turban. I wanted to be Norma Desmond. That movie changed me. I stumbled across one for $3 on Amazon from China. It took like a month to get here, but it still only cost $3 with shipping. It’s completely polyester, but it fits fabulously, and I can’t help but act as if I am a legend of the Hollywood screen. I need one in every color. And I need one like my friends wear in Egypt. The next time I go to my beloved country, I think I’ll dress like a native when I go on the town. I want to live like one of those nineteenth century adventurers who tried to totally assimilate to the culture and call themselves effendi. In the meantime, I will wear my polyester turbans from China and live my best life.

MEH:

Hurricane Bianca:

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Bianca del Rio is one of the most fabulous queens to ever win Ru Paul’s Drag Race. She was utterly flawless from the first moment she arrived to the second she accepted her well-earned crown. Wearing exaggerated eye makeup, she delivers brutal jokes from the Joan Rivers school of comedy, which can be tricky, but Bianca does it with aplomb. Live, or while doing stand up, her biting commentary is hilarious because it’s so insightful and cuts to the quick. Like Joan, she is able to get away with these jokes because you can’t help loving her. So, when I heard that she was making a movie, I groaned somewhat, because it was going to be a camp spectacular — which I’m a huge fan of, mind you — but I worried that her comedy wouldn’t translate. And at the beginning, I was right. Bianca in the movie seems bitter and cruel for no reason. I mean, she has a reason, it’s the plot of the entire picture, that infectious homophobia that runs rampant in more conservative Southern states. And while she was completely justified in her frustrations, they came across wrong. It’s hard to explain. But, once Bianca found her heart in the movie, once the children started to accept her as their fabulous chemistry teacher, the film really clicked, and I so wish that this feeling could have permeated the beginning. The movie is about Bianca’s gay male side who is an overly flamboyant substitute teacher that blossoms into a sassy woman to teach the same job and win over the staff and students. In the end, it was a well spent hour and a half. I was desperate for a bit of relaxation and mental vacation from my college courses, and this is just what I needed. I had to giggle at how predictable it all was, but that was all right. The only thing that really, truly, and deeply bothered me is the scene at the bar after he’s fired from his job. He’s desperate for a drink, asks for a vodka soda, and is frustrated to find he’s in a dry county. Another major character in the film takes him thirty miles away too spot with a liquor license, and suddenly he’s a teetotaler who tries repeatedly to refuse a drink. It didn’t make any sense. Still, aside from that, it was a reasonably fun romp. See it if you like sassy drag queens, and honestly, who doesn’t?

HATE:

Dracula Play:

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Dracula, Frankenstein, mummies, and ghosts have always been a part of my life. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I find great comfort in the macabre and the strange. I have long been in love with Bram Stoker’s Dracula because of its decadence, mystery, and setting. Ever since, I’ve been borderline obsessed with Eastern Europe and have studied the geography and customs. One of these years I’m going to spend the summer in some lazy Romanian village, writing, reading, daydreaming, and harvesting hay. And I’d love to be a vampire. It would suit me right down to the ground. You get to live forever, stay up all night, take the money of your victims, and look unbearably attractive. Yes please to all of the above. So, when I read that there was a theatrical production being mounted of Dracula, of course I was going to go. What could be better than the menacing, undead king of the vampires strutting across the stage? Well, it turns out that a lot of things could be better. The production was dismal. The sets and the costumes were all lovely, and the man who played Renfield was sensational, but the remainder was an agony. Weird rock music would play and the actors couldn’t be heard — truly a blessing since most of them delivered their lines in a monotone…when they remembered them at all. None of them had charisma, or uniqueness, or nerve, or much talent. (Holla at the Ru Paul reference!) This all could have been forgiven if Dracula himself was better than he was. He was dreadful. Truly abysmal. The actor stiffly appeared, delivered his lines in what I believe he thinks is a Romanian accent, had what looked like caterpillars for eyebrows, and delivered his line with all the passion of a dead rat. In fact, Dracula had all the menace of a kitten. It was truly disheartening, and I wanted to leave, but since I needed to review the play for one of my courses, I stuck with it. The lighting was supposed to be atmospheric, but served to just cast shadows hideously onto the actor’s faces. The fog machine was too productive. And I saw the final performance, so I shudder to think what the first few shows looked like. It was a train wreck that had such promise. Oh well. It’s more fun to write a negative critique than a meh one!

My Cat Losing His Mind:

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This is not my Edwin.

Something rather upsetting occurred last night that I won’t soon forget. My beloved cat, Edwin, lost his mind. He has always been docile and gentle and sweet to me. He likes to bite other people when he plays, but never me. He knows better. I did save him from the grave, after all. You remember the story. I found that him as an abandoned kitten, then he napped under a piece of corrugated aluminum, and then basically baked to death. He was, by all appearances, dead. I was crushed, but we didn’t yet have much of a bond, so he was taken out to the barn, where things go to decompose and return to the Earth. Two weeks later, that kitten was back, glaring at me, begging for food, so I decided it was a sign from the other side, and I took the cat in the house and christened it Dame Edna Lazarus #zombieprincess. Later, I found she was a he, but that means nothing to me, but he is mostly called Ed now. Or Edwina. Or Edina Monsoon. Over the past two years, he has grown to the size of a lion cub, is very good-looking for a cat, and is a complete sweetheart. Well, last night, everything was going swimmingly. He and I walked into the kitchen, and for no apparent reason, he spun around, glared at me, and howled. He hissed. He growled. He made demonic noises. It was deeply alarming because Edwin doesn’t make much noise at all. He’s more famous for just laying on his back all day and doing nothing. He continued this infernal racket for quite some time. Every time he saw me that evening, he repeated this bizarre performance. It made me uncomfortable. Nothing had happened to him. I wonder if he smelled something on me that he didn’t like from my afternoon walk? Or maybe he saw the ghost and got it confused with me. That’s more likely. This morning, he seems back to his old self, but I’m still curious what happened. I hope it never happens again. It was scary.

Realistic Emojis:

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I’m all here for the avocado emoji. It’s going to revolutionize the way I send text messages. But I will not stand for this hyper realism that has taken over. In the newest emoji release, the peach no longer looks like somebody’s derrière, but rather, like a peach. This is a travesty for messaging. There is no fun in receiving a peach and a winking face. The barely recognizable peach was superior. I don’t even use this emoji, but I’m up in arms about the change. I appreciate the water gun being substituted for the pistol, but leave us the peach! I am not so upset just because people can’t send snarky asses to each other, it’s because I am a historian. I have studied ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs for nearly a decade. At the beginning of Egyptian history, the hieroglyphs were very realistic and intricate. If you look at Old Kingdom art, the artistry of the glyphs was remarkable, but as time went on, the Middle Kingdom simplified the script and stylized the glyphs so that they no longer appeared as obvious pictures. That’s why I loved emojis. You had to use some imagination to get your point across. Different images could mean certain things to certain people. It was like a secret language. That’s why the eggplant has been so tremendously popular! But as time goes on, there’s no need to be cheeky like before. It’s upsetting. Emoji is truly another language that we all have learned to speak, and now it, like all things, is being gentrified. I won’t stand for it. Is there a petition to sign? Do I need to start one? Am I just an angry old man?

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