Monday, April 14, 2014


The 10 Worst Nail Polish Names from Pure Ice

Pure Ice, a nail polish brand sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, specializes in trendy shades with disturbing names. Here are some that will make you wonder, “Who are these people, and what is wrong with them?”

1. Jail Bait

A vibrant lilac on-trend for Spring, “Jail Bait” also promotes a fun phrase used to sexualize young girls and uphold rape culture!

2. I'll Behave

Emerald, the hot new color invented this year, pairs perfectly with submissive behavior, also invented this year.

3. Nasty Girl

Do not confuse with the below.

4. Naughty Girl READ MORE


"What is the probability, given that Ross painted a happy tree, that he then painted a friend for that tree?" (93%)

This is the happiest that Five Thirty Eight could ever make me:

Based on images of Bob Ross’s paintings available in the Bob Ross Inc. store, I coded all the episodes using 67 keywords describing content (trees, water, mountains, weather elements and man-made structures), stylistic choices in framing the paintings, and guest artists, for a grand total of 3,224 tags. I analyzed the data to find out exactly what Ross, who died in 1995, painted for more than a decade on TV. The top-line results are to be expected — wouldn’t you know, he did paint a bunch of mountains, trees and lakes! — but then I put some numbers to Ross’s classic figures of speech. He didn’t paint oaks or spruces, he painted “happy trees.” He favored “almighty mountains” to peaks. Once he’d painted one tree, he didn’t paint another — he painted a “friend.”

Read on for an exhaustive chart and a particularly delightful section on conditional probabilities:

What is the probability, given that Ross painted a happy tree, that he then painted a friend for that tree?
There’s a 93 percent chance that Ross paints a second tree given that he has painted a first.

What percentage of Bob Ross paintings contain an almighty mountain?
About 39 percent prominently feature a mountain.

What percentage of those paintings contain several almighty mountains?
Ross was also amenable to painting friends for mountains. Sixty percent of paintings with one mountain in them have at least two mountains.

[Five Thirty Eight]


Pharmakon, "Bang Bang" (Nancy Sinatra Cover)

Pharmakon, a twentysomething New Yorker named Margaret Chardiet, makes incredible, bone-chilling and bloody, industrial horror-tunes, but on this relatively straightforward cover of the Nancy Sinatra version of "Bang Bang," only a few shards of noise explode and punctuate her sweetly eerie voice.

In other new stuff, anyone who likes Disclosure will like this summer-daze new Gorgon City track, "Here For You." There's also a nicely unnerving new video for Lykke Li's "No Rest For The Wicked," which gets the Ryan Hemsworth treatment in this 60-minute mix around 23:30.


Mad Men, Season 7 Premiere: Is This Where the Fire Starts?

Mad Men is back! I’ll be writing about the show all season. Though we don’t get a glimpse of Sally or Betty in the last night’s season premiere—an episode called “Time Zones” set in January, 1969, in which Don travels to L.A. to see Megan and back—there is plenty to talk about with regard to Megan, Peggy, Margaret, and Joan. Oh, and then there’s the appearance of a woman played by Neve Campbell—where has she been lately?

Also back in the rotation is Freddie Rumsen, the guy who was forced to take a leave of absence from an earlier iteration of Sterling Cooper due to drinking too much. He’s freelancing for Peggy, while Don is now the guy on leave from the ad agency (for two months, at this point) for essentially the same reason Freddie was let go. By the end of the episode we’ll learn that Freddie is actually delivering Don’s work to the agency—Peggy always was a sucker for Don’s messaging, though she doesn’t appear to know it’s his work—but in the beginning we see just the broad face of Rumsen, eyes big and earnest to the camera, pitching Accutron watches. Peggy loves the final line, rejiggers it a bit as her own, and pitches it to her new boss for a slam-dunk. But he doesn’t bite.

And so it becomes clear: Though the end of last season brought Peggy into the spotlight as Don’s heir apparent, it just as quickly pushed her back down again, forcing her to contend with a male boss who doesn’t seem to care about the work. He tells her he guesses he’s just "immune to her charms." This is new territory for Peggy: Don may not have been in love with her, but he certainly felt a strong creative and also paternal connection to her, and her former boss, Ted Chaough, fell head over heels for his mentee. Peggy’s feeling like just about everyone is immune to her charms these days; when her relationship with Abe ended she was left alone in their apartment, having to deal with tenant issues that he used to handle. In the workplace, even her friendship with Stan seems strained. At the end of the episode, she enters her apartment, falls to the floor, and starts to cry. We’ve all been there. But in Peggy’s lowest moments, she has seemed to possess a kind of dignity and power over her situation, an ability to get through it. Now, it seems like she’s perilously close to breakdown.

With every success there are downward steps for others, too. Megan, who’s in L.A. with a burgeoning acting career, is talked down to by her producer, an unctuous fellow who calls her “girl,” swoons over Don’s “matinee idol” looks, and tells him “it’s important to me that you know the man your wife is spending so much time with” (hint, hint?). Joan is partner at the agency but still haunted by the incident in which she was pimped out by her cohorts. She’s never really going to get over it, even as she tries valiantly, because of the expectations of the men around her—whether it’s Ken Cosgrove, who sends her to deal with his Butler Footwear client, that client, who belittles Joan and wants to deal with a man, or the professor Joan goes to for help convincing the shoe guy he’s wrong, who tells Joan he doesn’t know if she’ll even understand what he’s talking about. For the record, she does.

Don arrives in L.A., land of dreams and aesthetic perfection, and Megan picks him up, the camera cutting to slow-motion as she gets out of the car. But their relationship is clearly no longer a dream and hasn’t been for a while. She takes him back to her new house, which offers views of the canyon, the sound of coyotes howling in the night, and the threat of impending forest fires. He doesn't understand why she'd choose to live in such wilderness. Megan tells Don not to throw his cigarette butts off the deck, because “they can tell where the fire starts”—he's a fire-starter, a trouble-maker, a man who must be watched because he is inherently untrustworthy. (She even doesn't know he's been suspended by the agency.) Later, when he orders a TV to her house, she asks him, “Why did you do that?... You’re not here long enough for a fight.” They sleep together, but like their relationship, it seems rote and without pleasure. Megan is somewhere in limbo, not quite done with Don, but not sure she wants him (or can afford to deal with him) anymore, either. And Don… he’s just going through the motions.  READ MORE


The Anthem, a sci-fi musical inspired by Ayn Rand's novella Anthem, will make its off-Broadway world premiere at Culture Project's Lynn Redgrave Theatre this May. [...] Set in a far-off future in "a social media gone mad world, where individuality is illegal," Prometheus attempts to overthrow the state, controlled by the evil Tiberius, with a copy of Rand's work in hand. An expansive aerial and circus environment will set the scene of the revolution. [TheaterMania] | April 14, 2014


Is This How You Feel About Your Tattoo?

Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams (which is, as you've probably heard, very very good), has a piece in the New York Times about her tattoo: it's the epigraph to her book on her forearm, a line of script that says homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto, or "I am human: nothing human is alien to me."

From now on, I realized, my body would basically be asking every stranger, “What do you think about the possibilities of human understanding?” During the months that followed, I found myself explaining the tattoo to a parade of strangers and acquaintances. It’s about empathy and camaraderie, I would say. Or else, it’s a denial of this lifelong obsession I’ve had with singularity and exceptionality.

Strangers call her out on the tattoo's righteousness (“There are people going through things in this world that are really bad,” he said. “Do you understand that?”) and her dad asks her if the sentiment applies to perpetrators of genocide. Jamison comes to realize that she both wants this challenge and doesn't.

I’d always insisted I didn’t get the tattoo so that people would talk to me about it. In fact, I told myself I wanted nothing less. But at a certain point I’ve had to admit to a desire for contact I couldn’t own at first: It’s there and it isn’t. The script is full of vectors pointing in opposite directions, a statement both aspirational and self-scolding, a desire to be seen and a desire to be left alone; a desire to have my body admired and a desire for my body to need nothing but itself, to need no affirmation from anyone.

I imagine that this might resonate with anyone with a Statement Tattoo, one that carries a lot of personal weight. Do you have a tattoo like that? Or are you like certain others of us, unsure of the exact color of your future sincerity, in possession of a tattoo that was always, only, ever (and delightfully!) a joke? [NYTimes]


Nobody Told Me About the Chocolate Toothpaste

A Daily Mail headline just asked me if I would pay $120 for chocolate toothpaste, and I was like, "Absolutely not, but I'll click, which is the real answer to your question," so then I started reading about a fancy ingestible toothpaste (Luxury oral care firm Theodent use an extract from the cacao plant instead of flouride (sic), something they say is a family-friendly alternative substance, not least because it tastes like pudding). It sells at Whole Foods if you're interested, but probably you're not, because you're all highly intelligent and this is $120 toothpaste we're talking about here.

But then, the buried lede: a low-cost alternative! Crest has a new line called, naturally, "Be," which features three toothpaste... flavors? If you are INSPIRED™ you might like Vanilla Mint Spark™. If you are more the DYNAMIC™ type, maybe I can interest you in Lime Spearmint Zest™. If everyone's always called you ADVENTUROUS™ you will surely want to take the Mint Chocolate Trek™. BE™ whoever you have alwaysand inarticulately, until the toothpaste nailed itknown yourself to BE™.


Lana Del Rey, "West Coast"

Here is "West Coast," Lana's new single, and she's in her sweet spot, kittenish Americana in a dislocated haze: you could separate this melody and peg phrases to different decades. (A lot would go to Heart, and that ooh, baby, ooh is straight out of "Edge of Seventeen.") I like this, and I love the beat that gets it going, like a single Turrell light flashing in an empty room. (Video is just a loop of Lana in her other sweet spot: twirling.)

NPR is also streaming Food, the new album from Kelis.


You're So Bad

We've lost the Broad City broads to the end of Season One, but we've gained back Amy Schumer's Inside Amy Schumer for season two. You've prooobably seen that flawless "Compliments" sketch from the first season, and "I'm So Bad" continues on that particular brand of self-deprecation one-up(wo)manship quite well. Also in the ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-but-seriously genre: A Very Realistic Military Game.


A Conversation with Philomena Lee

In the ‘50s, Philomena Lee became pregnant outside of marriage at the age of 18. She was sent to an Irish convent to have her baby, and after that, worked off her expenses in the laundry, permitted to see her child for an hour each day. Against her will and as part of a large and secretive program of forced adoption, the nuns gave her young son away when he was three years old. Philomena was able to track down her son—a successful lawyer and former chief legal counsel to the RNC—only after his death. Her search is the subject of the movie Philomena, starring Judi Dench.

I talked to Philomena and her daughter Jane on the phone this week.

In the abbey, you went by the name Marcella, right?

Yes. As soon as you entered, you weren’t allowed to use your own name at all. I was known as Marcella and that was that. We didn’t talk about our families or use our own names.

Does your time there feel like it belongs to another person?

It’s such a long time ago. I do feel like a different person now, of course. Anthony would have been 62 years old if he were alive today.

But in the abbey we just all had to do it. We all had to lose our identity. And at the time I was so young, and every other girl was in the same boat. It did bother me that I couldn’t use my name, although I do like the name Marcella. But then again that’s how it was in the early ‘50s—you just accepted what you were told. They never gave us any reason.

Jane: I believe it was to create more safety around the adoption. So the children wouldn’t know their mothers.

What about your son’s name—did you get to pick Anthony?

Yes. But where I got it from, I don’t know. I had a very difficult birth. I could actually hear them saying, “I’ve never done a breech birth,” and I was in such pain, and I could hear them going out for the other girls and saying, “Get on your knees and say a prayer for Marcella, she may die.”

It was all so traumatic. Not just the birth. I never thought about his name beforehand. For one, we didn’t discuss that kind of thing, we couldn’t. READ MORE

The Cost of (Almost) Getting Bed Bugs in Los Angeles

Three months ago, my boyfriend and I made the decision to move in together. We serendipitously found a perfect, large two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms in trendy Los Feliz. For this area in Los Angeles, $1,600 for rent is an absolute steal for a place this size. We had to take it; even after the landlord raised the monthly rent a paltry $60 in exchange for some much needed kitchen updates. The building left its heyday 50 years ago but, despite the cracks and cheap repairs, it still has charm.

We couldn't believe our good fortune. How was this gem so unbelievably affordable? READ MORE


Friday Open Thread

Long week, right? Lots of Gmail chains ("A bird is like, attacking this baby") and Craigslist behavior and of course all that mess with Heartbleed, which appears to have just become significantly worse? But we're hanging in there, even if "there" means Daytona, even if one way or another, we're thinking about death. We'll be fine; we've got a hot UPS man (maybe we will write him a note?) and Ursula Le Guin watching YouTube, and we've got our horoscopes to guide us. I for one am bare-legged for the first time in months and feeling optimistic. What's new with you? Let us know, and we'll see you back on Monday.

Photo via Rustam Bibkov/flickr


Support for This Operating System Has Ended

”Support for this operating system has ended, which means your anti-virus software is no longer supported and your PC is unprotected. To make sure your PC stays protected, click the link below to see our end-of-support guidance for operating systems.”
- Status Alert

What does this status alert mean for you?

Support for your operating system has ended

Your system is no longer protected and is vulnerable to malware, spam, viruses, hackers, insults both overt and subtle, and the Black Plague. Your operating system now feels like a four-year-old boy who gets separated from his mother at the supermarket and is found inconsolable in the Salad Dressings and Condiments aisle. Don't be alarmed if you find your operating system weeping and watching reality television for hours and hours.

Your anti-virus software is no longer supported

The operating system on your PC is like a college graduate who was president of his fraternity and popular with the ladies but now finds his credit card suddenly disassociated from his parents' account and his childhood bedroom cleared out and belatedly understands that his choice to major in Folklore and Mythology was a grave error in judgment. Your operating system on your PC is about to start drinking heavily.

Your PC is unprotected

I'm trying to impress upon you the concept of absolute vulnerability here, but you don't seem to be listening, so let me put it to you this way: Imagine that you're a small, golden tamarin monkey in the middle of the rainforest. Loggers have just felled the trees in which you once made your home and which also provided you cover from your natural predators. Suddenly you hear the "ke-he ke-he" call of a white hawk, the rustle of leaves caused by a roaming leopard and the hiss of an anaconda, all in quick succession. Try to conjure both the image and the state of fear of this tiny, shivering tamarin. That is your PC. READ MORE


Cancel "What Americans Will Look Like in 2050"

So there's this pretty dumb PolicyMic thing up right now showing "the lovely faces of our nation's multiracial future." The headline—National Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050, and It's Beautiful—is like the title of a term paper written by the Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation With At a Party. "It's no secret that interracial relationships are trending upward, and in a matter of years we'll have Tindered, OKCupid-ed and otherwise sexed ourselves into one giant amalgamated mega-race," writes the author. Word? It is also no secret what else is always trending upward: "shareable" ideas that appear researched and progressive while actually eliding all of the underlying structural concerns that will always influence what race (and attendant opportunity) means in America far more than the distracting visual pleasure of a girl that looks like Rashida Jones.

It's the rhetoric that matters here, the unplumbed fetish for these faces and what they can be forced to represent. I admit that I am sensitized on the basis of my everyday life. I sometimes read as biracial (which, if these photos are any indication, many still envision as "white" + "person of color") and sometimes people sort of act disappointed to find out that I'm just plain whatever, and much more often are quite ready to express an interest in the somewhat inevitable byproduct of my long-standing habit of contributing to the "mega-race" (boning white guys). God, those kids would be good-looking! Here we go, riding the swirl into a fully equal future, in which all of our faces will glow like one giant Instagram and the filter is white, white, white!

Demographics are changing, attitudes about race are changing, yes; and I am glad for it. And maybe it's good that people keep writing pieces like this, so impossibly shallow and shortcut-minded that the subtext is clear as anything: look how nice we look, as a people, when white gets to be more interesting and minorities get to look white. Look at this freckled, green-eyed future. Look at how beautiful it is to see everything diluted that we used to hate.


Frida Sundemo, "Drawn To You"

After reading this Pacific Standard piece on the "Swedish Pop Mafia," I am less surprised every time some glowy and explosive piece of new, flawlessly executed Stockholm pop crosses my attention, but Frida Sundemo's "Drawn To You" is fresh and radio-ready nonetheless.