Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wardrobe Essentials-Our Top Five Picks

We asked our fashion editors and staff which pieces they just can’t live without this fall.  These five wardrobe essentials may be an investment, but they’re totally worth it.

1. The perfect plan white-T

“Sure, at $1200.00, it’s at a higher price point than your average tee. But the way you’ll feel when wearing it will completely offset the cost. As a bonus, stains are repelled at the subatomic level. You don’t need to fear a splash of ketchup or an inkblot ruining your perfect white shirt. You own a freaking twelve-hundred dollar t-shirt! Nothing as mundane as a condiment can touch you.”-Ashley Harvest Smythe, Junior Fashion Editor

White tee: The Rowhouse, $1250.00, available in sizes XXS, XS, and S

2. Leather bootës

“If had to identify one “signature piece” in my fashion life, it would be these boots. It’s important to note that these are not really boots, but bootës, which are only crafted in one tiny village in the Swiss Alps, by ancient German cobbler-wizards. Also, the leather is broken in perfectly, and when I wear them I can pretend I’m tall.”-Meike Watershall, Marketing Writer

Rüdesheim Bootës, $9,000.00

3. The perfect leather jacket

“This sumptuous jacket isn’t just something I wear, it’s my soul. I mean that pretty much literally since I sold mine to a mid-level demon to buy it.”-Anjelika Sampson-Posey, Fashion Writer

Leather jacket, Batmain, $29,755.00

4. Hand-knit cardigan

“I live in this sweater every winter. When I meditate every morning, I send a humble blessing to the special ladies in southern Nepal who raised the sheep, worsted the wool, and finally hand-knit this gorgeous winter artifact. I also say “thank you” to the universe that I am lucky enough to own it. #blessed #authentic.”-Remedy Milios, Associate Fashion Editor

Hand-knit cardigan, Christopher Kross, $43,000.00

5. Clown pants

“THESE pants. I adore these vintage clown pants. Every winter I can’t wait to break out these gorgeous pants. I like to pair them with a vintage Chanel blazer. The amount of attention I get out on the streets would absolutely blow your mind.”-Vixen Braxton, Senior Fashion Editor

Vintage Clown pants, on loan from Barnum museum, price upon request

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Challenge Excepted

Terrible grammar, apostrophes used to show a plural... hell in a handbasket, that’s what this world’s coming to. What is a handbasket, you ask? I have no idea—it sounds like a really little basket, making it kind of a strange receptacle for all of hell…or the whole world on its way into hell? This is just a very strange saying, and maybe it should be retired. After all, language is evolving, right?

I actually asked my AP Lang students to blog about this question the other week, and most of them took the approach of focusing on text-speech and other modern methods of lexical shorthand (most were pro-text speak). And then a few days ago I was watching Elementary, about a modern Sherlock Holmes, and he said:
“Language is evolving, Watson, becoming a more effective version of itself. I love text shorthand. It's a way you to convey content and tone without losing velocity.”
Okay, fine, smarty pants. But the scene that preceded this statement involved Watson being unable to read Sherlock's made-up text language. If the other person can’t understand your message, how have you not lost velocity? I for one will admit I have to look up at least one acronym every week or so. Now, I’m not the HBIC of all language, so I’ll go ahead and say ok 2 all the acros.

But now we really need to talk about the real reason no one can have nice things on the internet anymore—and that’s the spelling. I don’t mean spelling as typing tommorow instead of tomorrow. That’s a typo, really. None of the meaning is lost. But lately it seems like everywhere I virtually go there are people who just don't respect homonyms. 

Here’s a reenactment of one of the scariest “heartfelt” responses I’ve seen lately:

Let's put K.C.'s unfortunate use of the word "bowel" down to fish-related grief. 
But: Rest in piece? Really? Pause for five seconds before you hit submit, and I hope to heaven you'll see what’s wrong with this picture. As for hugzz, I guess follow your own conscience on that one. 
You may have noticed I also included my own personal internet-hell meme above, the use—the misuse, actually—of awe. Example: here is a cute puppy:
What we want to say is, “Aw, isn’t he cute?” employing the interjection to indicate our pleasure at the puppy’s level of cuteness. Or if you follow the current trend of more is better, “Awwwwwww, isn’t he cute!?!”
If this puppy is causing you to tremble in awe (noun meaning fear or wonder)—you should probably go outside more.

My other recent favorite showed up on a blog for college students (the blog was linked to an article a friend posted on my FB wall).

The poster (remember: college) was ranting and mentioned that something was “for all intensive purposes” true.

Oh, dear lord. I say, slow down young man. Don’t listen to the American-TV Sherlock Holmes. Velocity should not be your goal. Or, if it is, remember, when you write something like “all intensive purposes,” those of us who still care about the words are always out here, judging you. And we are legion.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Reality Bites

I’m a member of Generation X, which, it turns out, really sucks. Lots of articles have been making the rounds online explaining how Gen X got squeezed in between two bigger, more important generations—the Boomers and The Millennials. The Boomers, of course, got to buy houses and have pensions and all that fancy stuff before the economy tanked. And the Millennials are digital natives; they’re members of the most powerful demographic and they know it. In the middle there’s a tiny group of former slackers who all have at least one flannel shirt in the back of their closets and, no matter what kind of music they like, on some level appreciate “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.

We got screwed in lots of ways. I like to tell the story about how I took a test on how to use a library card catalogue in my senior year of high school only to arrive at college freshman year and attend the official burning of their card catalogue drawers because they were going digital. Even though I grew up with dinosaur computers I’ve gotta roll with the new technology, because I’m way too young to retire (and unlike the Boomers, I probably won’t get to do so before I’m seventy five).

The other way life isn’t fair for Gen-X: we were this close to the Youth Worship Revolution. But we missed it. When I was a kid, the people on the radio and on TV and with the coolest hair and clothes were all older than me. I genuinely thought that one day I too would get to dress like a grown-up, in, say, a stylish pastel suit with shoulder pads. But now that I actually am grown up, the only actual way to look cool is to be twenty-two. 
See how these mom-suits were actually cool in 1989?
There are also a lot of restrictions based on my age. I don’t know who makes these laws, but those posts are even more ubiquitous than the ones by us whining X-ers. Ladies, if you’re over thirty, I’m sure you are aware that any number of seemingly normal clothing and accessory items are now, sadly, forbidden. I recently decided to click one of those lists someone posted on Facebook, and was informed that I am no longer allowed to wear hoop earrings, blue eyeshadow, or graphic tees of any kind. Under this new tyranny I will also probably be arrested if I try to walk in the door of a Hot Topic or Forever 21.

Who makes these rules? Probably young Millennials who are tired of having their style co-opted by us oldsters. Of course, the Millennials will get older too--but at least they realize that their days of being cool are definitely numbered.  

I'm pretty sure we're the first generation to have to suffer the indignities of rules lists like these--probably because back in the day no one over thirty ever actually attempted to look like a teenager for any reason. And though I can understand the extremes (maybe halter tops are a bad idea at a certain age. Because: gravity). But, list-makers, be warned. You're going to have to pry my Nirvana t-shirt out of my hands--and I'm a kicker. I still have those work-boots somewhere. So don't test me. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Really Annoying Commercials, Part I

The ad’s for some kind of VW hybrid car, I don’t know which one, because I’m too busy being horrified by the image of three horrible little boys essentially vandalizing a quickie mart while their clueless mother pumps gas. I guess she’s been punished for her reliance on fossil fuels by having to bear the offspring of Satan three times. Which seems excessive, but I guess she is destroying the planet and everything.

While the gas and sip is being destroyed by these creatures who are drinking the Slurpees right from the fountain and covering the floor in Easy Cheese, a virtuous hybrid-driving woman drives blissfully by with her three angelic children sitting silently in the car.
This is not okay. 

I have a number of problems with this scenario, beyond the clearly fictional idea that three modern tween boys would be quiet without a tablet or smartphone and access to reliable wi-fi. First, this is a post-Bart Simpson era depiction of a world of powerless, stupid adults. Both the alleged mother of the hooligans and the store clerk stand by and watch, helpless and mute, as these monsters do whatever they want. This is just dumb. You are bigger than they are, and I hope to God smarter. End them.

Second, though this is related, is the implication here that children cannot possibly be controlled? Our only hope is to find a better way to outlast them—with, say, a more efficient fuel option that can prevent us from having to slow down and by doing so risk being sued by 7/11.

Finally, the song that plays is “Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” These little creeps aren’t cowboys. Let’s not co-opt a cool American icon and turn it into a joke (to sell German cars). It’s not cool to make a giant mess and not clean it up. I demand a sequel featuring a big bucket of bleach followed by a time-out. Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe if you go hybrid your children really do turn into tiny angels who love to do housework, assisted by singing cartoon birdies. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#IReadYA Week: "Literary Merit"--Who Decides?

It’s #IReadYA week this week, and I’ve read a lot of tweets and posts about the general awesomeness of the YA genre, and that’s not surprising. Actually, what is surprising: given the brilliance of so many YA works, how is it that any of us still need to defend or explain YA—to anyone?

I write YA, but I’m also an English teacher; my students and I talk a lot about what constitutes a “serious” work of literature. On the AP Lit exam, there’s an “open” question—the third free response essay, which gives a fairly broad prompt, then suggests a list of works. Test-takers are directed to select one of these books OR “a work of similar literary merit.” We teachers learn in our training that more recent writers, and mostYA writers, are not considered by College Board to be of literary merit. This means, for example, that J.K. Rowling is not on the list. I always tell my students that she will be—if nothing else, age grants a work that status (consider a writer like Alexandre Dumas, whose work was not regarded as Serious Literature in its own time, but today, it is). 
How different, really, are The Catcher in the Rye and Looking for Alaska in terms of story and emotional resonance—and quality of writing? Yet my students can write about one on the AP exam, but not the other.
Who decides what’s “serious” literature anyway?--is one question my students always ask, and it’s a good one. Time is definitely part of the equation, but if we just look at books released in the past fifteen years, there’s definitely another layer of prejudice at work. Genre, for one: books set in the real world are often automatically viewed as more serious or literary. And the target audience is definitely another factor. Many adults dismiss books written for kids. Of course, many more do not. I have an annual pass to Universal Studios and I never get through the day without running into adults in full Harry Potter regalia. Maybe most YA is just too darn much fun for some folks?
There will always be people out there deciding what’s highbrow, what’s fancy, and what’s Serious Literature. And to me that’s part of what #IReadYA week is all about. It’s a time for those of us who get it—that it really doesn’t matter where a book is shelved—to share our love of not just YA but reading in general. I hope that someday we won't really need the hashtags anymore: #WeNeedDiverseBooks will be redundant, because we’ll already have loads of them. And like all good book nerds, I dream of a world when every day is simply #IRead day.