Friday, May 17, 2013
The Eurovision Song Contest is like nothing else in the world. Once a year, every country in Europe (give or take a few) sends a song and performer to a televised competition. The performers, representing their respective countries, compete against each other. Europe votes. The country (and song) with the most points wins.
It’s easy to make a superficial comparison here to reality singing competitions like American Idol or The Voice, but it’s actually substantially different. For one, Eurovision is a one-off battle—it doesn’t construct a weekly narrative of any kind—and the songs are all originals. In practice, Eurovision is bigger, glitzier, and far crazier than any Idols; it’s a true camp spectacle. It’s like the Olympics with glitter, wind machines, big hair, and cheesy pop music.
The finals air tomorrow night. You can be forgiven for not following along this year (or any year, really), but for those experiencing Eurovision FOMO, we've curated your weekend soundtrack below.
...And other pan-European cross-dressing revelations.
It started innocently enough with a bottle of what I thought was men’s cologne. “My kingdom for a Queen,” read the box. Containing the liquid fragrance: a multi-faceted red glass bottle that resembled a human heart, tipped slightly to one side. The scent: a pleasant musk with floral undertones — a duality of masculinity and femininity that made my head flush with pheromones.
I returned to my Milan apartment to be greeted by a thick Spanish accent, “ohhh … Alexander McQueen,” gushed my flat-mate, “I love dat fragrance.” He was tall, dark, handsome, Paraguayan, and fabulous. Flavio — much like Cher — was known in the nightclub circuit by first name only. He was also famous (in more intimate circles) for sizzling up personal platters of spaghetti alla carbonara at 4 a.m. in nothing but a white robe — lit Marlboro Light in hand. His signature pasta ended up sprinkled with ash before reaching its final resting place: a watery grave of partially digested negroni.
Flavio and I got on quite well. Despite being at odds on both the gender and sexuality spectrums, we balanced each other perfectly. When our toilette broke, he would head out toward the city center, wrapped in a chic trench and Burberry scarf — all a ploy to hijack the “facilities” at La Rinascente without being detected (a move I coined at Bloomindales back in the states). Flavio was stylish and good-looking, but in my mind, he was only able to pull off such a unique brand of un-ladylike behavior for one reason: biologically he was a man. As a woman, I felt pressure to repress my inner man-child (a version of whom I would later marry — a separate tale entirely).
When I moved from Milan to New York, I brought only a single suitcase. Among my most prized possessions: a men's size small European-style bathing suit. In my experience, the fibers that make up most women’s swimsuit bottoms had an uncanny knack for sensing the most unfortunate moment to “rally the troops” on a unified march straight up my ass. The boy-shorts I’d picked up overseas paired well with a black bikini top — and were the first swimsuit bottoms I had ever owned with the staying power my kind of day at the beach required, i.e. serious frolicking and, on occasion, bending over to sculpt the likes of a curled up dog or a functional sand toilet. READ MORE
[In April, an animal] tender went into Armani's enclosure and received quite a shock.
Armani, sometime during the previous night, had given birth to another baby.
The sudden appearance of little Archie was a surprise, to say the least. The gestation period for anteaters is six months. Armani and Alf had not been back together long enough to do what they needed to do to put the cycle of life into gear a second time.
How to explain Armani's miracle? READ MORE
As a semi-closeted queer girl (as in, I'll tell people if they ask but don't go around covered in rainbows or anything, and it seems like "short hair, blazers, and DMs" reads as "fashiony" rather than "gaymo" at the moment), most of my friends who I don't meet through gay stuff start off assuming I'm straight. This is not a big deal; they tend to pick up after a while, but it does lead to some awkward situations. It's common among female friends my age to flirt, call each other sexy, cuddle and grope each other, make elaborate declarations of love or proposals of marriage, joke about having crushes on each other and female celebrities, and generally fool around. (Note: they exclusively date & have sex with guys, this is not a case of youthful exploration, this is a hilarious game.)
It's just a bit of fun most of the time, but it seems to me to carry a subtext of "this is funny because it's ludicrous that we would be attracted to one another," and as such it makes me really uncomfortable when this flirting is directed at me by a girl who's under the impression that we're both straight. I know that a lot of people flirt platonically and recreationally, but sadly I am not one of them. I am really crap at flirting. I just go red and get awkward at the best of times. I wouldn't want them to think that I've been perving on them, or getting any undercover kicks from something that they believed was completely platonic. It would be like accidentally invading a safe space. Do you know any good ways to react to this kind of thing?
I think, more than anything else, you need to chill out about this situation. Some people are just flirtatious – they flirt with potential partners, but they also flirt with friends, coworkers, baristas, and anyone who happens to cross their path. They flirt because they like attention, or as a way of procuring favors, or just because it's fun. And they flirt because it's often hard to tell where to draw the line between friendly, casual, humorous interaction and Prelude to Sexy Times. As someone who is at least an intermediate flirt – an inveterate user of pet names and innuendo, a physical-affection addict – I feel reasonably comfortable speaking for all of us: We flirt with everyone, gay or straight, lady or dude, hot or (well actually all of my friends are hot so I guess I seldom have occasion to flirt with non-hot people). This is not something your friends only do in their No Homos Allowed clubhouse. They would, with almost 100% certainty, behave exactly the same way if they were aware of your queerness. There's nothing intrusive or creepy about you allowing it or participating in it.
That said, a couple of caveats. One, flirting and sexual propositions that you're uncomfortable with – even if they're intended in jest – are not the kind of behavior you should have to put up with from your friends. If the reason you don't like your friends rubbing up on you is simply that you don't like it, regardless of whether they know you're gay, you can and should ask them to knock it off. A simple “Hey, I don't really like being touched like that by someone I'm not dating. Could you please stop?” should be sufficient. If it's not, your boundaries are being disrespected and you should think about finding better friends. READ MORE
Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby lindy-hopped away with over 50 million dollars this past weekend and inspired New York's Kathryn Schulz to put together a thought-provoking takedown of the source material: “Aesthetically overrated, psychologically vacant, and morally complacent,” she declared last week.
Schultz points out, rightly, that no one in the book is worth a bottle of bathtub gin: What does our narrator Nick do when swaggering douchebag Tom breaks his mistress Myrtle’s nose, for example? Nothing. But the really detestable member of the bunch is Daisy, who has no character. She spends the book being languidly beautiful and wealthy, ignoring her child, flirting with her cousin, and leading on her old flame, before running away with her racist brute of a husband.
Daisy may not be the technical villain of Gatsby (Tom, a proto-bro, gets that honor) but she still sucks, and if it weren’t for her a couple key players in the book would be alive at the end of it. In her honor, here are the top 10 detestable characters of literature—a brief rundown of bad guys who aren’t the bad guys.
Amy Poehler has a pretty solid resume as both a comedian and a person. After spending time studying at Second City and iO in Chicago, Poehler moved to New York with friends Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, and Ian Roberts to found the Upright Citizens Brigade, which has since grown into the massive community of learners and performers of long-form improv and sketch that it is today. In more recent years, on her off time from her TV work on SNL and Parks and Recreation, Poehler and friends Meredith Walker and Amy Miles started Smart Girls at the Party, an online network to encourage and educate young women about being smart by being themselves. Along the way, Amy Poehler has proven in countless interviews, podcasts, and articles, that she is smart, kind, and funny, about every topic from feminism to Hell to old TV. Check it: READ MORE
I'm not sure how, but at some point this past year I inadvertently signed up for a newsletter from a site called urlaubsarchitektur. For months I deleted it as spam because the sender was always "www.urlaubsarchitektur.de," in all lower-case (it's a German site), but then one time I opened it and learned that it wasn't junk but a small roundup of "architecturally outstanding holiday houses and hotels" from all over Europe and beyond.
Translated as "Holiday Architecture," the newsletter delivers photos and brief descriptions of minimalist and painfully beautiful vacation destinations twice a week; recent installations have included a TV-less and "aesthetically perfect" apartment in Bavaria, a wine farm in Austria, and, today, a "Box House" on a private swimming bay in Nova Scotia. (Also a luxurious "Storm Cottage" in New Zealand, white cubes in Greece, and, a personal favorite, this sort of freaky looking Black Shed in Scotland.) The descriptions are often slightly but charmingly stilted in translation — "Who has not ever dreamed of a private swimming bay?" — the photography is ridiculous, the houses surreal. The whole thing's also kind of horrible if you're the type to get frustrated by gorgeous places you'll probably never go, or by the fact that there are people in the world who wake up each Friday, stretch, and open their computer[s?] to see what glorious destination Urlaubs Architektur points them toward next. Although they've probably got their own things going on. Anyway, it's a neat site if you enjoy pretty buildings and imaginary trips. (They're also on Twitter.)
And they're not paying me to say this, although if they need me in any way I am totally ready.
Washington, D.C.: Meet us at DC Reynolds this Friday, May 17, from 6:30 p.m. to whenever.
NYC: We have two book clubs this month, one on the May 28 and one on the May 31, both at Lolita Bar and beginning at 7 p.m. Our monthly Pinup is also at Lolita Bar after the book club on the 31st at 8 p.m. There are always mini pinups and smaller events happening on the Facebook page, including a Queens pinup this Saturday (7 p.m. at Terraza 7).
Indianapolis: Come out and grab a cocktail this Sunday, May 19, 6 p.m. at Ball and Biscuit.
Because if cicadas are "the shrimp of the land," maybe...
Scorpions: Sundried lobsterettes
Tarantulas: Silk crabs
Crickets: Grass cracklins
Ants: Hill seeds
Worms: Earth-angel hair pasta
Centipedes: Fringed hot dogs
Termites: Savory sprinkles
Bee larva: Shadow omelettes
Pupa: Underground veal
Cockroaches: Sunless chicken
Fly: Pre-plucked micro quail
Aaand I have made myself sick.
Elsewhere: Radiolab's Cicada Tracker.