Friday, February 27, 2015

Trippin' Down Memory Lane: A Celestial Would-Be Astronomer's Childhood Bedroom

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[Bottom LEFT you'll see my Batmobile pillow! I gave it to my nephew later on.]

I recently stumbled photos of my childhood bedroom in an ancient digital memory card. This was the room in my late teenage years. Looking back, the space is so tiny and compact. How did I fit four friends in for random sleepovers?! There's no Mid Century Modern in sight (which I liked at the time but didn't collect), but there's still...


Transformers! I used to stay up until the early morning hours working on websites so you'll notice lots of ambient light pieces I enjoyed keeping on, sometimes until the sun came up. I loved the Mexican star lamp on the ceiling, the paper lamps above the bed, and the star lamp on my small bookshelf. I collected my pieces over the years from thrift stores, hippie/new-age shops, Puerto Rico trips and from "ethnic" shops over the years. The beaded curtain was the first thing I ever ordered online. I recall the mixed feelings and regret I felt selling most of everything pictured.


The dressers are still "in the family," my roommate is using the standard one and the mirror above it, the high boy is in my niece's bedroom. The big, ugly TV was in my living room until a couple years back (seen here in 2nd apartment's living room along with me Mexican star and the bookshelf below).


Sorry for the hideous blur here. I used a 4 mega pixel point and shoot camera from ancient times for these shots. At night! This was the work space where I made many of my earlier websites. I still have that Nightmare Before Christmas Lamp (on my vanity) and one of the pen cups. I no longer have sharp teeth and eye balls attached to a stone-age PC, but that printer lasted forever. It just kicked the bucket a couple months back.

I'm writing from that same computer desk right now, it's scuffed and worn from years of heavy use. My childhood Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster hangs out in my bathroom. I painted the two memo boards you can barely see with gradient night skies to match the room theme. I still have the pokémon plushies but I recently sold the last of my manga comic books. It's hard to see but there's 3 batman collectibles in this shot and one in the first shot!


The Starry Night pillow was from a kitschy shop in the trendy 5 Points shopping strip, you'd press the moon in and tiny battery powered bulbs made the lights twinkle. The prints above the bed were pages from my calendar and the rabbit (named "Bunny") was a childhood toy. The stars above the bed glowed beautifully at night, I don't think my then-camera was up to the task of documenting that correctly! The theme was inspired by my then love of astronomy. I used to take my telescope out to our deck and peek at celestial wonders on summer nights, by then I knew I'd go to college to be a writer or graphic designer but around age 9 I was obsessed with becoming an astronomer and continued collecting astronomy goods since then.

This room reminds me of former maximalist days, I continue to strive for minimalism. I continue to sell as much as possible, keeping little nostalgic pieces for history. I'm still writing for websites and curating daily like I when I occupied that room. I never would have guessed all the time I spent in this room making websites for fun would turn into a full-time career.

Those walls are now a pale yellow and that old maroon rug's been swapped for a plush cream one. The space has become a "play room" for my nieces and nephews, with space for their toys and a large flat screen TV for their movies and video games.  My mom keeps begging me to a make-over on the kid's space so look for a before/after into the future! For now, it's fun to look at this bit of frozen time. We grow up, we mature, but some things never change.

What was your childhood bedroom like? What era was it? I'd really love to know! Any embarrassing messes, crush's photos or regrettable decor?
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What I'm Reading: Self-Improvement, Frugality, Anti-Consumerism, Style and...Smut

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I'm a bibliophile that rarely reads. This year I aim to correct that by reading my whole library, selling it off when it's done. I love books, but I love a clutter-free space even more! There will always be more books at the library and exactly 1 trillion books at yard sales, so there's no need to hoard the ones I rarely touch. In a rare moment when I find myself wanting to keep all of my books I imagine myself carrying them down my two dozen plus steps for another move and the hoarding desire dissipates. Ha!

Here's what I've polished off lately, for better or worse...



Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercised & Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain't Pretty

Self-Doubt, Perfection, Fear of Failure, Blocks and Procrastination; these are the universal creative demons, sabotaging our ability to create and be productive. Mighty Ugly is filled with helpful exercises and quotes to help you slay your creative demons. A fun read with pithy, relatable stories. My demons still seize hold, but now I can recognize an attack them when they appear.

What is Your What: Discover the One Thing Your Were Born To Do

My dad's office was hosting a book swap and he decided this book was just the one for me. "Thanks, dad!" I said jokingly-sarcastically when I got the book. I know it's true, I have a busy-ass brain and it's really hard for me to settle on doing any one thing at one time; not to mention choosing a forever-life path! If you're a creative that looks at other businesses and often proclaim, "I could do that!" this book is for you. If you're lethargic and lost with no idea where to start, this book is for you! I'd argue that this book would be illuminating for everyone. It has step-by-step work throughs to help you discover your hinderances, passions, and how to find your life's work and audience. Working through it resolved a lot of anxiety, I feel more peaceful afterwards. Excellent read.

Tim Gunn A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style

I was considering, but mostly abandoned, an idea of making a combo up-cycled and vintage clothing line. Because, too much. Stop, busy-brain. I spent some time researching style throughout the decades and the idea of personal style. Even if I'm not making my line anymore, I do want to write more about hunting down classic pieces that won't age. I'm sick of "fast fashion" pieces that fall apart with one wash. Wouldn't it be fun to have an mostly vintage wardrobe filled with high-quality pieces, made with care, that have lasted through the decades? This is a good, light read that should help you streamline your wardrobe and choose pieces that work for you, your size and personality. I'll share more later but my favorite part is when Tim asks you to think of yourself as a billboard when you leave the house. What's the message you're trying to share with the world with your personal style?

Poor Craft: The Funnybook Fundamentals of Living Well on Less

This should be the new go-to gift for every high school and/or college graduate. Every public school library should have a copy. Cute, light, and fun to read yet jam-packed with every you need to know on living a full, frugal life. There's everything from transportation, cooking of all kinds, hospital visits, finding free events, low-cost housing, and more. It's in a light comic format but it's a supremely helpful resource book, too.

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping

I'd been dying to own my own copy of this book for years, and somehow appropriately, found it sitting on top on a huge bin of books at a Goodwill Outlet (where you buy items by weight). Not Buying It is Judith Levine's diary of the year 2004, the year George Bush would tell Americans to "shop" to fix all of our country's then-woes. I love this book for the information on the psychology of buying. A story on how empty she felt for skipping buying a purse in NYC's Chinatown still comes to mind nearly every time I decide if I should buy something. She describes feeling regret not because of the literal bag, instead she regrets not having it because it would make her feel as bohemian as a young artist who crosses her path. Before I buy something I think, do I really want this item, or do I want have the item makes me feel?

Readers previously detracted this book for the author's lack of using the thrift store, but I disagree. This is not merely a money saving exercise. She's challenging her will power and resourcefulness and confronting her consumerism demons. Judith and her husband's exceptions were narrow: no plays, movies, or eating out. I've done similar experiences and at first it can really burn. Then, like the couple in the book, you learn new skills. You fix your own things, make your own clothes/accessories, you borrow, you find fun free events. I highly recommend this book and a "buy nothing" challenge to everyone. Not just for the money saved, but the valuable learning experience.


I don't just love so-bad-it's-good unintentionally funny movies, I also love so-bad-they're-good corny, kitschy books! I re-discovered a cache of V.C Andrews books while helping my mom clean out the attic (irony- Andrews stared her career writing about 4 kids locked in an attic) and couldn't bring myself to donate and/or sell them... yet.  I don't even have them out with the rest of the books, they don't deserve the honor of display. They're tucked out of sight in my TV stand!

Bottom photo: the books shamefully tucked away out of sight. Like the many illegitimate children in V.C Andrews novels. Reoccurring theme.

Flowers in the Attic

The first, and best, V.C Andrews novel. A controversial book nearly every 12-year-old girl reads as a weirdo "right of passage"; because only a 12-year-old would have such a skewed understanding of sexuality to read this and take it seriously. I've re-read this at different stages of life and always come away with more reasons to loathe all of the characters! This book is hilarious. I could write many essays on the weirdness of it all. I think the saddest part is that an adaptation has the potential to be incredible, there are some excellent themes and visuals in this book. Tim Burton or the American Horror Story team could do the book justice. It is, after all, hyperbolized like a fairy tale. Instead it always gets a vanilla treatment. A love and hate for this one, it's so bad and so good.

Unfinished Symphony

The last book in "Melody's" story. This is when the publisher knew the target audience for V.C Andrews books was getting younger and younger and the books got dumber and dumber. (I was, after all, 9 when I read my first V.C Andrews book.) This book was awful, getting through the last pages was an endurance test. Melody has a lot of "informed" attributes. She's "intelligent, witty, brave, beautiful, and strong" affecting every character that she meets deeply. Nearly every male character is so taken with her they try to rape her (no police calls are ever made, and I'm alone shouting in my house shouting "YOU LITTLE IDIOT! CALL THE POLICE! I HATE YOU!") which is a horribly dated stylistic convention anyway. She's the class valedictorian yet so dumb she falls for the stupidest shit left and right?

Nope. Cannot with these books anymore. They are unbearable. Anyone want to buy a bunch of V.C Andrews books from me? I give up!

Web Recommendation: As much as I adore bad novels, I can't bring myself to pay for Fifty Shades of Gray. The whole book series was at a yard sale but they were asking too much. I think it was somewhere between $5 and $10. Still too much. I read the first few pages in a book store and realized what a chore it would be to get through. Luckily, another writer on the web has done is for us! Jenny Trout's hilarious read-through is the perfect way to get to the "funniest parts" of the book without having to endure the drawn out sex scenes, poor character development and atrocious writing errors/style. Check it out, it's laugh-out-loud hilarious. There's even an audio-book part for some of it.

Been reading anything good lately? Got any recommendations for me?
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Mid Century Modern and Antiques on Display at the Museum of Science and History

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It's fun to travel to exotic locations, but sometimes the things right in your own back yard offer just as many surprises. I live 8 minutes away from The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) and haven't been back to explore it for years. AJ and I explored the large space to escape Thursday's icy breeze and will have much more to look at with the next visit, there was so much to read and see.


It was painful but I left my SLR camera at home to give myself a "break" from it. I take product photos for clients, photos of my own merchandise, and photos for blog posts/personal use -every- single day. I've considered to share Project 365 on the blog because I definitely take photos every day, but it would be hard to choose which photo to pick for each day! I need a bigger challenge! Besides, does anyone else find that it can take you out of the moment to constantly, perfectly document your life with a big camera?


Our favorite exhibit was the walk through time showing the history of Jacksonville, Florida from the Timucuan Indians to the modern area. With gorgeous props, real antiques/artifacts and music and sound affects it did a beautiful job setting the tone. I spent the longest while looking at the artifacts from the early and mid 1900s, of course! The goodies I've bought and sold for years. It was the next-best thing to a time machine.

All photos were swiftly snapped with my smart phone while exiting. The workers found us going through the proverbial labyrinth and told us the space was already closed! We'll definitely be back ASAP to explore and read all the data in detail.

Question for anyone who lived through the era. In many re-creations (museums, photos, movie sets) a 1950s-60s era home is often shown in perfect, new, atomic-style mid century modern wares. I doubt the authenticity there, since this would imply there were no conflicting antique hand-me-downs thrown in the mix and the house was only assembled with newest furniture pieces. Just something this mid-century-lover has been curious about. I feel like this type of house is more American-fantasy than reality.

That's why I appreciate shows like Mad Men, the main character's upper middle class early 1960s home looks like this and this; because even monied people didn't up and change their whole asthetic to something trendy immediately. And others stayed rooted in tradition. Just food for thought, I think way too deeply about details all day every day...
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blogging Success Guides: Make a Living From Blogging, Getting Advertisers, and More

I sincerely believe everyone should have a blog. Even if you keep it private. Writing daily is a journey to self-discovery. I've been "blogging", making websites and writing for the web since I was in 6th grade and I'll never stop as long as the internet's around. This blog has allowed me to create a self-employed, flexible living situation. It's connected me with you, and other long-time close friends. Right now I've had to scale back on the amount of posts so I can switch careers and feel out my new direction, but I'm never out of ideas. I fill notebooks upon notebooks with articles.

I'm often asked how to make a living at blogging or how to improve your blog. I'll write more details from the technical and creative side into the future. For now, I thought I'd share some detailed articles you may have missed:





If you have any other questions at all, please do hit me up via e-mail or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I'm serious, don't hold back! I'd love to fill in the gap and help you wherever you're floundering. For now, I've gotta finish up a holistic magazine (so fun, learning a lot of detailed information about herbs and natural healing that will, of course, be shared in future posts) and actually get outside and feel the sun on my skin asap! I need a non-work related adventure!

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Thrift Store and Free Finds: Kawaii Kitties, Mod Furniture, Clothes, Books, Kitsch

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I've slowly been letting myself go back to the hunt, confident in my new will power to resist picking up new wares to sell.  I'm a minimalist and anti-consumerist at heart, and every item I purge in my minimalist journey is weight off my soul. That said, I'm glad to continue using second-hand shopping for necessities and muse seeking. The past couple of weeks have been particularly bountiful.


I never need another mug as long as I live but I bought three $1.00 mugs from my new favorite junk hunting spot. It was hard to resist bringing home one of the varieties offered.


I have a mug fetish; a sickness, even. I could operate a museum of artistic mugs and live happily. They combine my appreciate of art pottery and healing herbal tea. I enjoyted the random English, bright colors and rounded shape on these. Working House? Why? So fun.

I even love the packaging, they read, completely verbatim:

"Classic & Stylish. The features of practicality and beauty show perfection great efforts and endless seeking: excellent design, delicate details, exquisite shapes and pleasant feelings. Warning: This is a ceramic fragile,Please use under adultsguidance, don't put children can be contracted."

I love to collect random weird English in any language, I had to photograph the boxes to remember them. Any typos or weird spacing is exactly the way it's printed on the box.


I let myself buy some new books for the first time in a while. The Dr. Phil weight loss and "dressing for your shape" books were put in AJ's v-day gift bag as gags. I'm going to read them with a grain of salt and then sell them. There are some universal "flattering way to dress" tips I understand but I don't follow them all like a lemming. Cover my big arms in Florida? BITCH please, I wear all the sleeveless, always.


Speaking of gags, AJ's gift came in this hilarious 2nd hand, fifty cent bag. We're both anti-wedding ceremony types (I was never the little girl who dreamed of her princess wedding. NEVER. I dreamed of fighting crime with Optimus Prime and Batman.) The celebrity marriage book was the icing on the anti-wedding cake.


I also indulged in kawaii maneki neko Japanese bobtail lucky cat goodness. These are really expensive in some stores, these were fifty cents each. The one above is a tiny bank.



The one on my desk came with double sided tape on the bottom to keep it in place, I like it with me to make me smile while I work. I have another one That will love in my car on the dash board. Tulips from AJ.


I indulged in this Ghost World comic book, a classic I've never read the whole way through. When I'm done I'll sell it to the used book store. I'm taking nutrition classes at the moment so the Spirulina book was an exciting find, that nasty-ass tasting sea junk is amazingly good for you.

The hardcover, retro lettering and look remind me of the "Handbook for The Recently Deceased" from Beetlejuice (my fav movie) so much! It reads in the same joked-about dry, wordy manner. Damn, now I have a hankering to stop writing and indulge in some Beetlejuice...


I've been slowly adding more 2nd hand thrifted goods to my wardrobe, which I may post about in full later. Here's a few flattering recent favorites. I'm forever attracted to a blue-white combo with clothes so the feather print Charlotte Russe top fit the bill. The Xhilaration sweater was a lucky find later on from the same store.


Another freebie is this adorable dragon my mom found thrifting. Everyone know's my style so well, he's perfect for me. I love him hanging out in my reading area. I shall call him "Mushu".


He is especially Mushu-like when flipped on his red side. Yep, this is ONE dragon plushie with two sides. But I keep on the bright side for a pop of optimistic sunshine yellow.


And to complete the asian theme, we have a beautiful blue umbrella. It's vinyl instead of plastic so I thought I'd use it as an umbrella. I gave it to my niece this weekend so I'll have to see if there's another one left at the junk shop for me.


I found this odd little mod credenza on the roadside. I quickly turned it around for a little bit of cash. I love it when pieces move fast and don't stick around.


Now, let the Roadside Gods bring me unnaturally tall bar stools for my too-tall counters!


These adorable little pencils were 25 cents each. I bought them for my friends for valentines day, we had a dinner at Kickbacks the day before and I let everyone select their color of choice.


And a Yuko, for you! She's staring into your soul!

BTW: I'm interviewing indie biz owners and professionals for tips on earning more and effectively running your own biz, pleas leave any questions you'd like answered in the comments here or e-mail me.

Hunting for anything in particular second hand? I'm still forever on the prowl for good storage jars for my, comfy boho and/or vintage duds, kawaii stuff, any holistic lifestyle goodness, pretty apartment muses...

Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

How to be an Explorer of the World: Week 3 of 5

Results: Funny story. I had this particular explorer post ready to go two weeks ago. For two weeks straight I neglected to publish it. I'm just not used to publishing posts on Saturday, midday would hit and I suddenly shout aloud (no matter where I was), "SHIT, that post!" My niece and nephew are coming over today so it's a perfect time to explore the outdoors. I just wish it would warm the hell up (45 F and sunny this morning) to make exploring more pleasant.

I live in a gorgeous, historic area. I want to photograph each home I pass when walking. The details!



Week 3: Explorations 21 to 30

Exploration #21) Your Favorite Street Go to your favorite street. (If you can't go there physically, then you can visit it in your mind.) Map it out on a piece of paper. Then describe (or otherwise document) everything in detail: the shops, houses, street signs, trees, etc.

Exploration #22) People Watching Sit in a public location and document people you see for one hour. Take detailed notes. Make sketches of one item that stands out most about each person.

Alternate: People Mapping

Visit a local park of public area. Create a color-coded map of the position of the other people in relation to you. Note what the people looked like (what they were wearing).

Exploration #23) How to Uncover a Mystery

1. Let the mystery find you- something that piques your interest and unleashes your rabid curiosity.

2. Research. This could be conducted through a variety of venues (library, interest, dictionary, interviews, etc.). Dig up as much info as you can on the subject/event. Collect clues.

3. Follow all "leads" (pieces f info that cause you to head in new directions). Contact people involved.

4. Get involved directly with the thing you are researching (got example, take a class, write experts, etc.)

5. Conduct a re-creation (of an object or event) use maps, dioramas, photos, diagrams, etc. Look at the situation from different angles.

Fort Clinch, Amelia Island

Exploration #24) Combinations

Combine groups of objects for visual or emotional contrast. You  might try natural vs. human-made, contrasting colors, alive vs. decaying, light vs. dark.

Alternate #1: Take two different objects and try to create as many connections between them as you can. You may need to research them to come up with more ideas.

Alternate #2: Write about what it is like to combine two different activities such as eating and reading, or walking and drawing. How does one activity affect the other.

Exploration #25) Water

Study and document shapes made by water. Find as many as you can. Research shapes made by water. Come up with new ones.

Exploration #26) Becoming Leonard Cohen

Sketch or document things that you use in your daily routine.

Exploration #27) Accidental Art

For for a walk. Identify and document existing "art" that you find, such as things that are not created on purpose. Some examples include stains on the sidewalk, spilled paint, bird poo, residue, corrosion, rust, things that are damaged, random arrangements of objects that you find interesting. A bad caught in a tree.



Exploration #28) Blind Observation

Place an object or a series of objects in your pocket. Describe them using only touch. Alternate Go around your room in the dark and identify all the objects in it by touch. Describe them.

Exploration #29) Tactile Boards

Collect material based on texture. Glue the textures to a sheet of paper or cardboard (see diagram below) .Invite people to close their eyes and guess what different materials are. Experiment with touching the boards using different parts of your body. (such as your check or elbow).

Alternate #1: Create a tactile "map" of a place using textures to represent the different areas or qualities.

Alternate #2: Using a non-drying clay (plasticine), create reliefs by pressing the clay into different textures you find.

Exploration #30) Travel History

Collect objects that tell a story of your travels. Document where you found each object.



These challenges have me wanting to travel and collect from exotic places more. I need to save up and schedule some adventures. We've been talking about going to Washington to see the Cherry Blossom Festival this year. Hope we can make it!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Let's Discuss: What Indie Business / Income Increasing / Work-From-Home Tips Do You Need?

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Today's scheduled post was going to be on a frequently-requested topic: how do you make your own income/become an indie business owner/make a living as a self-employed person? It was ready to go but felt hollow. I've written on the topic many times before and this article added nothing new. I need to know your problems so I can help address them!




Working for yourself is truly The Dream for a reason. You set your own hours, avoid demanding bosses, and live exactly the way you want to. It's not for everyone. You work longer hours, and you have to have a deep abiding passion for your independent work to survive. It can be hard, scary, and stressful, but the rewards outweigh the risks. I'd love to help everyone live this liberated lifestyle if they want it.

Working for myself and setting my own hours allows me to: (Photo 1) Hit the gym with AJ at anytime, it's 1AM in the photos. (Photo 2) Explore my beautiful historic neighborhood whenever I'd like. (Photo 3) Help start a long-dreamed organic body care business with mom. (Photo 4) Take creative/holistic classes/certifications to my heart's content and start teaching classes at Green Lotus Studios. Captured, the herbal cooking class I'll soon take over.

What are your indie biz struggles? What are you trying to accomplish? What road blocks do you have?  Let's discuss in the comments. I want to help you do what you truly want in life, whether it's to escape an unfulfilling day job or make more time to spend with your kids and/or family. I know you can do it, I'm here to help.
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Monday, February 9, 2015

Health and Fitness Wish List: Ethical, Indie, Artistic and Practical. I'll Take One Each, Please

I'm sure you've heard of rewarding yourself for reaching goals? Many people swear by this method for completing projects; finish one and something nice is waiting for you at the finish line. But I can't do it. I feel that completing any one task to the best of my ability is the reward in itself, and buying yourself a random rare little treat related to work or your goals is a fun acquisition high along the way. I want to give it another try though, and support indie businesses and artists along the way! I think it'll make more sense if I hit income landmarks, earn $, spend some $. Makes more sense to me.


And so I've been hunting the web and lurking locally for fun indie replacements for under-things and work-out clothes. The criteria: independent business, sustainable, ethically produced, artistic and practical. I've landed upon the following. Do e-mail me if you know of any others!

1 / Liberty Bottles Hydration is paramount! I will definitely invest in a pretty bottle for on-the-go.

2 / Sally Ann K is a local provider of upcycled clothing and accessories. (Interviewed here.) I bought a black head wrap from her and use it all the time. Perfect for the gym.

3 / Econica this shop has the prettiest soft cotton under-things for after the gym, or anytime. All handmade. I especially like this blue set.

4 / J Morco I'll take one of each of everything in this colorful, sporty boho-style shop. Especially this kimono bra.

5 / Pact has organic, fair trade basics at affordable prices. (Hard to do!) I'd like their tights. I'll keep an eye on their shop for new goods.

Also Needless also has nice underthangs and everything in Satya Yoga Wear is attractive and comfortable-looking.

Now, off to make money so I can spend it on indie replacements :D and kitschy travel.  I'll follow-up with how different goal-setting techniques pan out. Also, for a brief update on my fitness challenge, we've been moving and hitting the gym daily. My "high protein" diet has to be adjusted. I jumped too quickly into it and it dehydrated the hell out of me and caused issues. But overall, I'm seeing progress sooner and will keep playing with the diet and exercise to yield results.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Netflix and Internet Watching Picks: Documentaries, Mystery, and Dark Comedy

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The "good stuff" is coming back to TV soon, Mad Men and The Walking Dead are so close, yet so far. Never fear, I have some movie recommendations for you to pass the time until zombie violence and sexy mid century modern decadence is back on your screen. I'm a huge fan of dark, quirky, visually arresting, art house films with elements of black comedy and horror. If it's a classic, kitschy, unique, animated, musical or campy in that unintentionally funny so-bad-it's-good way I'm all over it.  This time I stepped out of my comfort zone of weird and arrived at some films and shows I've thoroughly enjoyed for it. Here's what stood out for me lately and gets my recommendation:

I'm Not Scared



I'm grateful this popped up on Netflix as a "recommendation" after watching my usual horror movie fare. This is one of most beautiful films I've ever seen. Period. It's a subtitled Italian film set during a backdrop of political turmoil in a rustic Italian countryside. There are fields of wheat scorched by the merciless Mediterranean sun, a perfect color compliment to the blue sky. Both stretch on endlessly, like the languid summer days of your childhood. It looks like something that can't exist on earth, painterly like an animate Van Gogh masterpiece. Pair the sleek looks with the engaging story, the authenticity of the untrained child actors (all turn in perfect performances) with the mysterious plot and you have a winner. Its a coming-of-age drama but the setting gives it flairs of fantasy and horror.

Fascinating fact: The movie includes ample primary colors and is shot from certain vantage points to accurately replicate how children see the world according to child physiologists. It's done extremely well and gives the film a nostalgic authenticity.

Burt's Buzz



Did you know the iconic bearded figure on the Burt's Bee's line was a real?  I wasn't sure until I watched Burt's Buzz, an inspiring and fascinating documentary about the Burt Shavitz. Burt's the hippie, Henry Thoreau-type bee keeper that would help create a multi-billion natural body care industry. I watched for ideas with my boyfriend as we develop our own body care line and got an interesting character study with the package. Burt's an icon worldwide, but lives the simple life away from society. His home includes mostly the bare necessities, his brand was bought by Clorox, yet he heats his home with an antiquated cast iron stove. He hates his iconic status but is contractually obligated to make appearances. I relate to his desire to get away from society. Watch to learn the humble origins of the now national brand and meet the cantankerous man that earnestly never wanted any of it.

Mean Girls



I was a teenager working at AMC Movie Theatre when Mean Girls became the "cultural phenomenon" that put Lindsey Lohan on the map, and I've avoided it until now. The recommendations from cinephiles had me curious to see if the film measured up to the hype. It does, and doesn't. The film is brutal, honest, and hilarious at the start but morphs into a boring cliche by the final quarter. The commentary on female competitiveness and the dynamic in all-female groups is on-point, the jokes slay; then the finale morphs into a typical teen movie complete with obligatory "magical prom night kiss" on the dance floor. It was a movie with a split personality, like a studio executive got involved and forced a conventional, palatable ending. Mean Girls should have been meaner, but I sincerely recommend it for the hilarious first half. Props for having characters in-universe recognizing the pretty yet "smart and mousy" girl as being attractive without the need for an exaggerated make-over scene.

Fascinating Fact: Mean Girls is an SNL film, written by and starring Tina Fey, produced by the SNL creator and starring other SNL alumni in bit part! No wonder it has the spark of life other teen movies of the era lacked and gags that actually produce laughs.

Election



Let's look back at a 90s teen movie that can actually measure up the Heathers legacy. Election is an MTV release that deserves a bigger cult audience that it currently holds. It's incredible dark with a hilarious script and strong performances. I love how each of the main characters has their own narration so we see the election from the perspective of all the participants. Each character's an analogy for the "types" we see in all elections big and small. The irony, "unreliable" narration, and cognitive dissonance in the voice overs make this is a delightful teen flick. I'll be checking out more from this director.


Bojack Horseman


More dark comedies on the list, because I can't get enough! I usually hate flat, flash-looking animation. The copy-pasted faces make it really hard to feel the character's emotions. Bojack suffers from this constraint, yet the animation is still fresh and crisp with intriguing creative flairs. I love the inexplicable animal characters, how they paired animals with personality traits, and the animal designs. The reptile ones fill with me a nerdy glee; you don't see many animated chameleons. I feel like this decade's starting to take form a distinct identity and this show captured it. I don't like the retina-searing neons/selfie-taking/phone-obsessed/hipster-ironic/constant retro-throwback direction we're going in, but it is what it is and this show lampoons perfectly. Great writing and great character development from our fucked-up lead Bojack Horseman, former star of a cheesy 90s Full House-style sitcom:

Did anyone else actively hate these shows even when they were children? Give me Transformers!

Worth a watch for the animation dark comedy lovers. I enjoyed it and will eagerly devour the upcoming second season. It has the look of a typical cheap raunchy comedy but I got a lot more out of this than I expected. Unlike most western animation its narrative is linear and gets better with each episode.

Louie


Critically acclaimed for a reason, this show is genius. Louis C.K. writes and plays an exaggerated version of himself loosely based on real life. He's an awkward, bumbling, pathetic father of two navigating life in NYC, trying to land dates (or just get laid) and perpetually failing miserably. There's random gore, Catholic Guilt, hilarious (yes, it can be) rape scenes, dozens of massively cringe-inducing moments (my favorite, an elderly southern sheriff asks for a kiss on the lips in exchange for saving his life; he delivers) and I LOVE it. I love the non-sequitur and often surreal narrative style and how you never know what to expect yet. A deliciously dark (so dark!) and wonderfully weird departure from your typical sitcom. I hate 'em all, I say!


Random Internet Pick: This True Facts about Animals series is amazing. Love the classical music background with deadpan narrator saying funny shit. Earnestly educational, too. Watch 'em all! My favorite is of course, The Fruit Bat.

Been watching anything interesting lately? Got any recommendations for me? Do leave 'em in the comments.
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