Sunday, March 29, 2009

Daughter of Fortune: Worth the Wait

Even though I LOVED Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, I was not digging the first half of Daughter of Fortune — mostly because it reminded me of the worst, most overrated and ridiculous book ever written, also known as Love in the Time of Cholera. The “love” affair between Eliza and Joaquin Andieta gave me flashbacks of that literary waste of months of my life:

“...she wanted to die right there, pierced by the sensation, sharp and no more to be denied than a sword, that was filling her mouth with warm blood and, even before she could identify it, crushing her with the terrible weight of idealized love ... That autumn morning when she saw Joaquin Andieta in the patio of her home, Eliza thought she had met her destiny; she would be his slave forever.”

Eek. Had this been another Marquez monstrosity, I probably would have just given up, but keeping the author in mind, I plowed through the disturbing “love” scenes and was luckily rewarded when the story moved from Chile to California during the 1849 Gold Rush. Although Eliza goes to California in search of her “sweetheart,” in doing so she breaks free of her Victorian upbringing, gender constraints and eventually her deranged, overblown case of puppy love. And her transformation is illustrated by Allende’s writing, which goes from over-the-top, flowery language to tell-it-like-it-is descriptions of Wild West brutality. My favorite part:

“She fell in love with freedom. In the Sommers’ home she had lived shut up within four walls, in a stagnant atmosphere where time moved in circles and where she could barely glimpse the horizon through distorted windowpanes. She had grown up clad in the impenetrable armor of good manners and conventions, trained from girlhood to please and serve, bound by corset, routines, social norms, and fear. Fear had been her companion: fear of God and his unpredictable justice, of authority, of her adoptive parents, of illness and evil tongues, of anything unknown or different; fear of leaving the protection of her home and facing the dangers outside; fear of her own fragility as a woman, of dishonor and truth. Hers had been a sugar-coated reality built on the unspoken, on courteous silences, well-guarded secrets, order, and discipline. She had aspired to virtue but now she questioned the meaning of the word... She had left Chile with the purpose of finding her lover and becoming his slave forever, believing that was the way to extinguish her thirst to submit and her hidden wish for possession, but now she doubted that she could give up those new wings beginning to sprout on her shoulders.”

I’d like to think of Daughter of Fortune as a kind of rejection of Marquez’s twisted version of love, but One Hundred Years of Solitude is listed as one of Allende’s favorite books on the “About the author” page in the back of my edition. I suppose I’d have to read it to further investigate my theory ... and I’d rather not.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What that obligatory office e-mail closing really means

Being overly analytical (in only the most unproductive ways) and extremely paranoid, I’ve developed a dangerous habit of dissecting office e-mails. In my opinion, the “complimentary close” is the most fascinating part — most indicative of personality and emotion. Case in point: the loaded “Thanks.”

Thanks. = I hope this answer to your stupid question prevents you from contacting me again, as I am very busy and important.

Thank you. = I hope you’re as impressed with my professionalism and multi-syllabic writing skills as I am.

Thanks! = I hope you like my message, and I hope you like me!

THANKS! = I REALLY hope you like my message, and I hope you like ME as much as I like SUGAR!!!

Thanks, = Thanks … or you’re welcome.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Girl in the Pink Pleated Skirt

After loving the adorably hilarious book, I went to see Confessions of a Shopaholic last weekend. I won’t get into why the former was better or complain about the weird talking mannequin scenes because I didn’t expect more than mindless entertainment from the movie — and that’s what it delivered.

One benefit of the film, though, was the costumes. The main character, an aspiring fashion magazine journalist, consistently wears the most fabulously ridiculous outfits, both in and outside of the office, as well as on her way up the corporate ladder. From the mini skirt she wears to an interview to her bright pink laptop, screaming colors and blinging accessories are worn unapologetically – and not only accepted, but rewarded by The Man, e.g. Rebecca Bloomwood becomes a celebrated finance columnist under the pseudonym “The Girl in the Green Scarf.” (And wins readers by comparing investment decisions to shopping for shoes and sweaters.)

Rebecca’s wardrobe, and her silly-but-surprisingly-smart character, reminded me of Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, who debutes as a sorority girl who noone takes seriously, but turns out to have what it takes to be a high-powered lawyer. While Elle does tone down her signature style for a bit at Harvard Law, she goes back to full-force pink in the movie’s climactic court scene – and wins the case (thanks to her extensive knowledge of hair care).

With two movies, a musical and an MTV show, Elle Woods has certainly proven to be a popular character. And with seven(?) books in the Shopaholic series, Becky Bloomwood isn’t far behind.

So why do we love these characters so much? I think the resonance they have with today’s working gal is similar to the popularity of the mid-20th century novel and movie, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. I haven’t read or seen it … but I learned about them in a women’s studies class in college and just got a refresher on wikipedia, which says they’re about “the American search for purpose in [a] world dominated by business,” with the gray suit symbolizing the monotony and soullessness of the corporate world.

But obviously they’re not exactly the same. While The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit reflected a dismal reality, Bloomwood and Woods act out a fantasy. The glitzy, gorgeous, colorful characters are a remedy for the grey flannel suit – a symbol for a more diverse, happy and fulfilling workplace.

Of course this kind of chic flick/lit could also be seen as more of a sedative than a cure: Just as the corporate cogs of the 1950s drowned their sorrows in booze and seedy affairs, today’s pink-collar workforce is diverted by wildly unrealistic stories … and cocktails and one-night stands ... Well, at least we can take heart in the fact that we’re not wearing grey suits while we earn the money to spend on mindless entertainment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spirit still broken

My office coffee machine has been broken for a while ... it's not the ONLY machine, but it's the one closest to my cube, and it annoys me each and every day. Sometimes it appears to be working, but then the lights start blinking maniacally and shortly after it goes dead again. It's been months but I keep checking every morning. It's an emotional rollercoaster. I just wish they'd chuck it so I could get over it and start using the farther kitchen's machines (It has two. Bastards.), but instead they just keep stringing me along. Actually today I had to use the other kitchen to heat up my lunch (It has the only microwave on the floor. Bastards.), and I noticed one of those machines is broken too -- another sign of the economic times, I suppose...

Well anyway, today my morning quest to be pissed off was squelched by this sad-faced coffee cup, which really amused me -- I wonder if it's the work of the same employee who revamped the recycling bin.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bachelor Dirt

So I didn't end up watching The Bachelor's "After the Final Rose, Part 2" last night ... instead I drank too much wine on an empty stomach at a surprise party for someone I'd never met. Before I turned into a hot mess though, I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of the runner-up-turned-winner. Apparently when she was in college, Molly told everyone she would be on the show and be the one to turn the Bachelor down ... in "reality" she not only didn't turn Jason down, but took him back after he rejected her. Well, I guess it must really be true love. Cough.

I was also told to watch this Jimmy Kimmel interview. It's pretty entertaining - Jimmy busts out all the questions social mores would prevent most of us from asking, and Jason continues to be full of crap.

From the RedEye recap I read on the bus this morning, it sounds like I didn't miss much last night. Molly and Jason are "happier than ever now," and Jillian is going to be the next Bachelorette. More Canadian adorableness! Yay!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What. A. Tool.

Ohmygoodness could The Bachelor “finale” have been any more ridiculous? First of all, it was THREE HOURS LONG. And now apparently there’s a Part 2 of the “After the Final Rose” segment on tonight… 24 hours after the after the final rose… Has Jason changed his mind again already? I can’t wait to find out. And cringe while he cries some more.

In its thirteenth season, The Bachelor pulled out all the stops to keep viewers interested. First ABC relentlessly advertised the return of DeAnna (Bachelorette who rejected Jason, giving him the opportunity to exploit his broken heart to have his pick of a new crop). After making it seem like she would ruin the romance of the overnight dates a few weeks ago, she finally made her lackluster appearance last night. Previews showed DeAnna admitting she made the wrong choice, then cut to Jason crying dramatically—as opposed to creepily, like most of his emotional scenes. After sitting through the long-winded show, however, viewers learned that Jason was actually crying after he rejected Molly (before proposing to Melissa). In contrast, the scene with DeAnna couldn’t have been less emotional. I think I saw the cue cards reflected in her pupils as she was asking Jason for a second chance. Jason did look genuinely surprised, but he obviously wasn’t interested in this frumpy version of his former "love" when he had two girls who are clearly out of his league vying for his BS proposal. Well played, ABC.

Misleading previews are something I’ve come to expect from reality show promotions, but Chris Harrison’s weird PSAs were something new…during every commercial break he informed viewers that, “Due to the dramatic nature of tonight’s show and out of respect for the parties involved, taping was kept as intimate as possible,” or something like that. Despite the obvious annoyance of my viewing buddies (didn’t have to bribe/beg/even ask my boyfriend AND his roommate to watch), I felt the need to exclaim my befuddlement each and every time Chris appeared on the screen. “WHAT is he talking about???” For two hours the show looked completely normal. Finally in the opening of the third hour, we found out that Chris simply meant there would be no studio audience for the “After the Final Rose” segment. Uh, okay. I didn’t even remember there was usually an audience. Not so well played, ABC.

Anyway, we accidentally saw Jason and Molly sitting together before we started the third hour (thanks to subpar DVR utilization), so the “drama” of Jason ditching his final choice and asking the reject for sloppy seconds was kind of ruined. But damn, Melissa was smokin’—could not think of a better dress to get dumped in on national television. I’ve been rooting for her (well, since Jillian got booted), so I was sad to see her lose, but Jason’s a tool, so she really wins in the end—and she’ll have more fun partying with show alumni than Molly will being lame with Jason in her polos and golf shorts.

But then again, the finale marches on tonight. Who knows what will happen… maybe DeAnna will come back and reveal she’s pregnant with Jason’s baby. Or maybe we’ll get to meet Ty's mom! Probably not though—if she loved the camera as much as her ex, she would have popped up somewhere by now. More likely nothing too exciting will happen, but there’s sure to be a lot of recaps, looks back, montages and highlights, i.e. repackaged content. Oh ABC, you’re not fooling anyone…but I love you anyway... definitely keeping you on file in case I ever change my mind about Bravo.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin