Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On "Beauty"

Do you want to know why I'm constantly making a ruckus about being different than everyone else? Why I'm always talking about how weird I am, or pointing out things that make me strange? Why I'm always posting dorky pics to my facebook albums, and writing random statuses all the time?

No, I am not a hipster.

The answer is: because I'm not pretty.

Don't even give me that look. You don't think I am either. If you did, y'all wouldn't be constantly pleading with me to let you give me make-overs and haircuts and take me shopping.

I know, I know, you mean well. I don't take offense at that. But the message is still the same. "Maybe if I take my make up brush to her, she'll be presentable." "Maybe if I teach her how to pick out clothes, boys will actually ask her on dates, for a change."

Basically, I'm not good enough as I am.

I stopped saying yes to people, because it actually made me feel worse. I looked at myself with all the make up and fancy hair, and I hated it. Not because I wasn't marginally more pretty, but because I was trying so hard to fake it. Trying so hard to be like everyone else, despite the fact that I am not. And even after enormous amounts of work, I still didn't quite cut it. So then I was both not-pretty AND not-even-myself.

That don't feel too good.

But back to the matter at hand. How does "because I'm not pretty" answer the above questions? Well, if I thought I was beautiful, I'd live it up. I'd tout it in all my pics, because despite my inherently shy nature, I don't like to go unnoticed nearly as much as I pretend I do.

But I'm not. So I have to tout everything else I've got, to make up for it.

This isn't a problem for me. I actually have rather a large ego. I can do more toe-push-ups than any other girl I currently know. I can type about 70 wpm, when I get going. I can eat a 16" pizza in one sitting by myself (although I only discovered that accidentally.) I know how to draw and hold a samurai sword. I can write stories. I can put together 3D puzzles without even breaking a sweat.

I can ROCK Harry Potter Scene-it. I'm really good at sock puppets. I can teach sunday school lessons well. I can rock it at Duck Hunt also. The first time I ever even held a gun, I shot better than half of the experienced people out there with me. Same with a crossbow. Hit pretty close to the center on the first ever shot I took. I own and have read more books than a lot of people I know. I can quote movies like nobody's business.

15" Harry Potter Wand - White Oak Color - Custom Order for liapompeu (DO NOT BUY)
I once ran a 100 meter dash in 14 seconds, which is wicked fast for a piddly little high schooler. I still hold the school record for the Shot Put. 35'11". I made it to the state championships, and placed 6th in the entire state of Virginia with that throw. I own 7 lightsabers. I make Harry Potter wands, and I'm actually good at it.

I can draw amusing cartoons. I have finished NANO 3 times (in 3 years). Only my mother can really beat me at Hanging with Friends, and she has to fight for it. I can cook the best pork roast ever. Also my mashed potatoes are nothing to sneeze at. I'm good at remembering random things like what someone's favorite candybar is, or what day their birthday is on.

I'm pretty good at babysitting small children. In fact, I have pretty good taste in knowing what sort of stuff a kid would like in a picture book. I know how to get the best hugs from a 2-year-old. (Hint, it may or may not have something to do with hot wheels. ;)  ) I can rock a kid to sleep even if he isn't used to strangers. I am good at crashing hot wheels. And safely tossing kids through the air. And tutoring them in school stuff.

Ok, ok, I'm feeling kind of weird at tooting my own horn so enthusiastically. But the point is, I have a great deal of value, and I know it. I'm proud of my accomplishments, and I'm not worried that I'm worthless. I know I'm not. I know that there's more inside of me than half of the brainless ditzes who infest the world.

But if I know that it's what's inside that counts, and you know that I know it's what's inside that counts, why am I throwing a royal tantrum about beauty, and my lack thereof?
The problem with society is that we say "It's inner beauty that counts" an awful lot. We tell people to believe it, and we make memes about it that go viral. We quote famous people like Eleanor Roosevelt on the matter. We rub it into people's faces until they scream uncle.

Our society is truly convinced that we believe this mantra.

But then, we still advertise liposuction, and stress the importance of the right clothes brands, and make fun of people who aren't hot, and fill the library with thousands of diet books, and make sentimental dove videos about how people are prettier than they think they are, and send 5,000 facebook comments on someone's picture about how pretty they are, and gossip about so-and-so's horrid hair, and wolf whistle at hotties walking down the sidewalk, and put pin-ups of muscled men on the wall, and talk all the time about losing weight for the swim suit season...

Well, some people don't get the millions of beauty comments on facebook. And some people don't get whistled at (degrading or not). And we notice.

Oh, we notice.

See, I know that it's inner beauty that matters. I get it. And I feel like I'm worth plenty, without physical attractiveness.

But I don't know that you know it.

No matter how much I might believe that statement, I honestly don't believe that anyone else does. I can believe all I want that I'm worth taking a chance on, but I still don't get the dates. I can try my best to look nice, but I'm still not as pretty as the next girl over, and I still get overlooked.

Because let's be honest, who's gonna take the time to get to know all the cool stuff I can do unless they notice me first? And who's gonna notice the "bigger girl that teaches the cool lessons"? Who's gonna bother trying to discover the inner beauty of the "plain one who works at the library"?

Yeah, physical beauty shouldn't matter as much as it does. But that doesn't change the fact that it does. I'm still not the pretty one, and I still don't get noticed.

That's why I put so much on facebook. I tell the world every cool thing that I do. I write funny stuff. I take fun pictures. I have discussions about things both serious and ridiculous. I do the same thing in real life. I take as much of my inner self as I can, and put it out there for people to see.

Now to figure out a way to make them see it.


Wow. Disney just proved my point with such perfection that I am left speechless.

Look at what they've done, here, and tell me that our society really believes all that clap trap about inner beauty.

For me, this isn't about it being not the original design. It isn't about whether I like the look of the new one or not. It isn't even about her wearing the dress that she hated so much in the movie. (Although admittedly I really love the celtic knots on the bottom of it. I'm sorry, but I really just have this thing for celtic knots.)

In fact, as a friend pointed out, it hardly even looks different at all. And I found her to be very pretty beforehand anyway. 

The point, then, is what the subtle differences are. Because her previous beauty wasn't the classical kind. The supermodel kind that is literally impossible for normal humans to achieve without airbrushing. 

They gave her a thinner waist.  Her eyes are all... sultry. Her hair is no longer unruly, but luscious and perfect as it blows seductively in the breeze. They gave her a full on make up and eyebrow job. They took away her bow. They gave her lips some sort of botox injection.

But here is the most subtle one of all. If you look closely, you can see that she doesn't confidently stand tall and proud anymore. She doesn't throw out her chest with that scottish energy that we loved her movie for. Her new version shrinks, ever so slightly. And that makes an enormous difference in the way we see her. 

These changes, taken one at a time, don't matter. Individually they are pretty petty. But together, they emphasize exactly one thing: 

It doesn't matter how great she was at anything. Without becoming a supermodel, she is nothing. 

In in the world today, that is sadly far too true. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Grudge-holders Anonymous

I am 27 years old and I have a grudge.

My grudge is against people in the music/film/television industry who use their fame and fortune to take over everyone else's industries too.

I don't mind it if a famous movie star wants to become a painter or a writer or something instead. It's not like we don't live in a free country. What I mind is when these people use their fame and fortune to get an in with their industry of choice, thus achieving top status in said industry, and thereby flooding the market with mediocre junk.

In other words, when they get something without having to work for it, just because they're famous.

Yeah, I'm bitter about it. It's not fair to the millions of people who work their fingers to the bone just trying to get a foot in the door. It's  not fair to the millions of people who produce work of much higher quality, but can't sell it because there's no room left in the market. It's not fair that these people already are rich and famous and have everything they could possibly want in one industry, but it's just not enough for them.

Am I directing my invective to a particular person today? Well, yes and no.

Yes, because this post was inspired by a particular book. No, because it's been bothering me for a while.

Do you even know how many movie/music stars have picture books published? The list is so long, I can't even remember it all, but off the top of my head, I will list all of the ones I can remember.

Cheech Marin
Jane Seymour
Queen Latifah
John Lithgow
Jaime Lee Curtis
Julie Andrews
Brooke Shields
Whoopi Goldberg
Bernadette Peters
Weird Al
Peter Yarrow (from Peter, Paul, and Mary)
John Denver
Dionne Warwick
Elvis Presley (though admittedly he didn't write it. Someone just stole his song lyrics.)
Jay Leno

I'm fizzling, but there are more. So many more.

Some of them are semi-decent.

But others... well, seriously? Seriously? =>

Or this. It's just the guy trying to get famous with a younger audience, and he doesn't even pretend like it's not.

Not to mention that some are actually terrifying. Have you looked inside this one? Literally the creepiest illustrations ever.

Now I'm not saying that everything done by non-famous people is good. I've seen some refuse, trust me. But  there are so many authors out there that are good. That have worked hard for years, and still can't get anything published. That have to compete with this mess just to make half a buck here and there, but can never win. Because if you're a publisher that has to choose between Madonna and some unknown, unpublished author, you're gonna look at who will be likely to sell more books. And Madonna will always win.

But being an international and somewhat controversial music sensation just wasn't enough for her, was it?

Anyway, this brings me to the book which specifically inspired the post. Today, I am mad at Chris Colfer.

   People don't print his stuff because it's good. They print it because they know oggling fangirls will buy it in bulk.

I started reading the Land of Stories last night. Which, by the way, is a terrible title anyway. But I digress.

Honestly, it started out way better than I expected it to. I was intrigued by the idea, and I wanted to know where it was going.

Then it fell into the trap that I've seen hundreds of times. All the little amateur mistakes. All the no-no's that mark a non-professional author with blazing neon lights. I've seen it before.

Here's the thing: I don't think Chris is untalented. Until I stopped reading for fear of desiring to gouge my eyes out, I could see the promise there. The Land of Stories could have been really good. It only needed two things: an editor who'd actually do his/her job and not fan-oggle, and some practice.

The number of authors in the history of the world who were amazing on the very first story they ever wrote can probably be counted on one hand. Talent and potential is not enough. Potential has to be turned into Kinetic energy, and there is only one way to do that. Work.

If Chris had not been a famous Glee star, these books would not have been accepted for publication. They just aren't good enough. They aren't edited enough. They aren't practiced enough. The characterization isn't 3D enough.

But they could have been. If Chris had been forced to go through the submission/rejection process like everyone else, his writing would have improved. He'd have learned from mistakes, researched do's and do-not's, and gotten there the hard way.

Yes, I do think he's good enough that he would have gotten there eventually.

But because he got the free-pass-because-I'm-uber-famous, he didn't have to do the work. No one was going to turn him down. The fan-girls will love his stuff no matter what. And he will forever be stuck in mediocrity. His writing will never, ever get better, because he doesn't have to do the work. (Go back and look at my posts on Paolini, for another example of this.)

And because he never had to do the work, he got to the top spot by way of leapfrogging over the people who did. That's one more promising talent who will work at Micky-D's for the rest of forever, because despite all the talent and hard work, they just couldn't break in.

Triple whammy. Mediocre crap in the book market. A promising talent who will never be what he could be. And another promising talent whose dreams are now shattered.

So yeah, I have a grudge. But this underling, at least, will not be cowed by the fame and fortune of others. You've never seen stubbornness like this. The world better prepare itself.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Answering All The Questions

Hello again to all my friends. I'm glad you came to play. So, turns out one person returned to the status enough times to give me many questions, but otherwise, I got very little response. So some of these are from a random question generator. It is probably obvious which ones. However, I should endeavor to put a bold face on it, and answer them all honestly.

Q: Why is Rummikub called Rummikub?

A: Wikipedia random article says: "The mausoleum takes it name from its position on Bergen Hill at the edge of the Hudson Palisades where they begin their descent to the west, overlooking Weehawken Cemetery and Palisades Cemetery."

Q: If you had a pet dragon, what would you name it?

A: It just so happens that one of them is named Christopher Rupert Windemir Vladamir Carl Alexander Francois Reginald Lancelot Herman Gregory James. The red one is Francis. The twins are Fred and George. (You have to be careful. They're the black ones. Acid spitters.) And the ice dragon is Steve. 

Q: If you could invent a time machine what movie would you stop from being made?

A: Oh, the choices. The Choices! This is a hard one because I've always contested that Eragon is the worst book-to-movie ever created in the history of mankind. (There were only 2 redeeming qualities of the movie. The soundtrack, and Jeremy Irons. And even Jeremy couldn't save it.) (Also, I just realized that Eragon is Jimmy from Downton Abbey. I knew I recognized his face, but I just didn't know where from. Well, I'm glad he got a second chance at a career.)

However, I didn't care as much about the series as I do about the Last Airbender. So even though the Last Airbender movie was (marginally) less lame, I'd rather have a good version of it than a good one of Eragon. Also, Aang needed to chill. He was so serious and upset all the time. 

Right =>

<= Wrong


Q: If you won a million dollars in the lottery, how many elephants would you buy?

A: Oh, at least 2. They're social creatures. But I wouldn't be opposed to more. 

Q: What is the air speed velocity of an un-laden swallow?

A: What do you mean, African or European swallow?

Q: Do you have any siblings?

A: What do you mean, the real number, or the ones I admit to?

Q: What type of bear is best?

A: At mauling? Polar Bear, I think. At having a cool name? Kodiak. At being the king of all bears? The jury is still out between the two. (Kodiaks are heftier, but Polars are very slightly taller/longer. Kodiaks are meaner, but Polars are more experienced at hunting very large things. *shrug*) 

Q: If we could, what should the state bird of utah be changed to? (Seagulls are cockroaches of the sky)

A: Definitely emus.

Q: What countries have you traveled to?

A: Rohan. Gondor. Ancient England. Steampunk England. WWII England. WWII France. Magical Scotland. Steampunk Russia. Ancient Japan. Steampunk Japan. New Earth. Alpha Centauri. Ancient Peru. Ancient Greece. Ancient Egypt. Icewind Dale. The underdark. Mithril Hall. Moria. The Lonely Mountain. Alagaesia. Atlantis. Ancient China. Narnia. Calormen. Andalasia. Ottoman Empire. Hork-bajir home world. Arctic circle. Whoville. Mesopotamia. Costa Rica. Ancient India. Agrabah. Neverland. Tartarus. Skandia. Araluen. Picta. Gallica. Nihon-ja. Arrida. Clonmel. Monstropolis. Oz. Panem.

Let's continue this list at a later date.

Q: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck didn't have a wood allergy?

A: Claritin didn't help?

Q: What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

A: Close my eyes.

Q: Do gingers have souls?

A: Disney doesn't seem to think so.


But natural or not, it's really hit and miss. 




Also this: (Catherine Tate is so awesome.)

Q: What is the last dream that you remember?

A: A few days ago, in my dream, there was this ghost following me all over the place, and her name was Ashley Tisdale. She wasn't THE Ashley Tisdale, but that was just her name. And she was all zombified looking. And there was this other girl that didn't believe me, so she dressed up as zombie Ashley Tisdale to try to freak me out. And just as she jumped out at me, the real zombie Ashley Tisdale showed up and freaked her out instead. 

Q: If a man did dishes, but there was no wife around to witness it, did the dishes actually get done?

A: Sometimes the answer is 42. But when it isn't, it is always Hugh Jackman. 

Q: What is your dream job?

A: Well, I can't remember which dream was the last one in which I actually had a job. But in my dreams I am almost always either a murder mystery detective or a professional hero zombie slayer that saves the world. 


Q: What would you be doing if you were not here right now?

A: Eating these M&M's elsewhere, I suppose.

Q: If all desserts were outlawed save for one, which one would be worthy of being the only dessert in the world?

A: I assume that by this question you mean "What if the apocalypse happened?" Because it amounts to the same thing. 

I do have a particular fondness for both cherry cheesecake and cherry danishes. However, I believe I would have to choose chocolate, both out of loyalty and practicality. Chocolate is just so great, and it's very useful to have in apocalypse situations. 'How to survive in the wild' guides always tell you to have some handy.