June 29, 2012

On Adele: The Sweden of Pop

Adele is that kind of artist that everyone likes. Be you a music aficianado or not, you like her, let’s be honest. She is the safe bet, the Sweden of music. She’s like gay marriage. Everyone’s for it, so why even mention it? It’s a moot point that everyone supports it (except for the one important caveat that it’s not technically legal yet, but you get my drift, right?).

If you put some Adele on at a party (no matter what kind of party it is), no one will bust your balls. Everyone will say how much they “love Adele”, ironically, as if it’s the greatest revelation in the world, and everyone will agree. (Or, you can be like me, and put on Elton John’s "Madman Across The Water" at your 6th grade Halloween party, and everyone will sneer, and you can keep playing it anyway because it’s your effing party and you can play what you want.)  She is the epitome of a neutral party, which isn’t a bad thing.  It's simply that it's not all that interesting to make the proclamation that you are her biggest fan, because everyone is.

I bet you can name at least five of your Facebook friends who shared or posted about how much they “loved” Adele particularly the overplayed "Rolling in the Deep," in the past year. It was almost like seeing someone sharing their Words with Friends results except that it was even more insignificant, because it was not identifying any interesting or relevant information about themselves, because, news flash: EVERYONE IS POSTING THE SAME THING.

I’m all for fanship and music appreciation – don’t get me wrong. If there is one thing I’m passionate about, it’s music, and there is nothing wrong with sharing that excitement for an artist or song you love. So please don’t take this as bitchiness, even if it is. (But, come on, we all know I’m a bit of a sassy bitch.)  The same goes for hot-button issues that everyone believes in. Maybe it’s just me, but pretty much everyone I know is “for gay marriage,” voted for Obama, is a vegetarian, and, well, apparently everyone loves Adele – or is scared to admit otherwise.

It’s something about the bandwagon nature of the human race that I can only sometimes relate to. People like that thing or say they like that thing because someone else does, and therefore it immediately makes them become interested in that thing they may not have ever discovered otherwise. This is perfectly fine and acceptable and completely human, but when they advertise the discovery with complete utter disregard for its already widespread fanship as if it’s a unique characteristic about themselves, it drives me nuts.

On the flip side, I have this unfortunate trait wherein when mass groups of people like something – especially people who know nothing about what they’re participating in – I am immediately turned off by it. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I’M PROUD OF, BY THE WAY, just something I can't same to shake about myself.

This is not true for dance pop – the Britneys, the Carly Rae Jepsens, and Selena Gomezes. I love that shit, because it’s fun and unpretentious and made for disposability. It’s music, but only kind of, you know? There are also other exceptions to this trait, generally when it comes to fashion, because fashion is everchanging and really isn’t something to be taken very seriously anyway.  It's just for fun.

So, last week (I promise there's a point to this) I was in a consignment shop in Portland, and as I’m sifting through the denim rack my instinctive trait for disliking what the masses like was challenged. I hear a song that instantly catches my ear, you know, the kind of groove that you’re instantly pulled into and want to hear over and over again. I only listen to 45 seconds of the song before I have to leave the store, and I had already fallen in love with it, with the beat, the cadence, the instrumentation, the lyrics. It was a song I had never heard before, but I knew that voice: It was Adele.

My initial reaction was annoyance for liking a song by that girl who’s overliked by everyone and therefore kind of overrated, and then my second reaction was embarrassment for attempting to make a conscious effort not to like a song by that artist who is liked by everyone and their mother. It is one thing to not like something that everyone covets because it is no longer special – that’s a trait that I am either fortunately/unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) always going to have – but quite another to make a conscious effort not to like something simply because everyone likes it. I remember being a closet Britney Spears fan for years until I realized, I effing like Britney Spears – who cares if she's the Princess of Pop? So, even though Adele is the Sweden of Pop -- the safe bet that everyone likes -- I’m not going to dislike her just to be a cultural rebel. I’ll blame it on that beautiful song, “He Won’t Go,” for changing my inner rebel to a bandwagon fan.

June 10, 2012

Old Man Camp

I am not planning on having children any time soon, if at all, but if I could I would like to adopt a small camp of old men as my children.  Usually when I see an older man who happens to strike me of the kind who might fit in my camp, my outward reaction goes something like this:  “Ohmygod, he is so adorable.  I want to adopt him.”  Meanwhile, my internal reaction is that my heart melts, my tummy aches a little, and the world slows to a snail’s pace.  (If you saw the old man in the movie Up, and have any kind of heart at all, you know what I’m talking about.) 

And if I didn’t have a fear of rejection and/or otherwise didn’t think the execution of it might not go quite as I envision it in my head -- this would include my camp of old men playing checkers and watching WPRK in Cincinatti reruns, entertaining me with funny stories of the good old days, and going out to breakfast at 7 a.m. (because that’s what old people do) -- I might consider making the proposal.  An added bonus – and I’m being completely picky here -- would include their insistence on helping me out with some light household chores like doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher. 

Today, during my morning workout, I spotted two perfect candidates for my old man camp.  They were decked out to the nines in camp-type attire just to walk the college track.  Five-foot-tall wooden walking stick?  Check.  Fishing hats?  On their heads.  Decorated t-shirts from some tourist attraction (location unidentified)? Keeping them warm.  Tiny, six-inch boombox (complete with handle) playing Roberta Flack’s “Where is the love?” You bet!  This last detail was what melted my heart into pure gold because of the beautiful dichotomy of two old-thyme Mainers not listening to some old-folky Conway Twitty or Shelby Lynne, as one would expect (which would’ve still been adorable and dandy, BTW), but rather taking their morning constitution jamming to some sweet old-school R&B.  These men knew how to do it right.  Let's just say it was a sight for sore eyes on a Sunday morning. Complete with smile and a friendly hello, Clifford and Lou (my invented names for them) were the men for me. 
You may ask why I don’t envision a camp for old ladies too, or even a co-ed camp, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure.  While old folks, in general, get my heart strings, I have always had a particular soft spot for the old men.  Something about their way just speaks to me, I suppose.    

So if you know of any old men who are adorable, good natured and fun, and are in need of a granddaughter-type figure, you know who to call.

June 5, 2012

Hello, Spray Tan.

I shun laying out in the sun and UV tanning beds, because, let’s be honest – I’m too effing vain for that.  Premature wrinkles and skin cancer?  That’s for the birds.  As a result, I’m forced to embrace my alabaster pallor, even if I do think a little color is a necessary accessory for bikinis and sundresses.  With summer upon us, I decided it wouldn't hurt to go Hollywood for a day and see what this spray-tan business is all about.

So I did as I always do before embarking on a new situation by doing my research.  Specifically, I Googled, “What to do before getting a spray tan.”  All signs pointed to exfoliating and not applying deodorant and greasy lotions, to which I heeded. 

At the salon, Terry the Technician walked me through the process, which included getting undressed to the point that I was comfortable and standing on the white towel on the floor.  She said people wear whatever they’re comfortable with, which is either going completely nude to wearing a bathing suit. 
See?  Tan lines are hot.  Bar thinks so too.
Terry started spraying me using an airbrush, having me turn and lift my arms in varying degrees.  Once she was finished spraying, which took about five minutes (I made sure to tell her to go light on my face so I didn’t look like “tanning mom”), she instructed me to stand for about 10 minutes while the tanner dried.  Afterward, she checked in on me, touched my skin to make sure it wasn’t still tacky, and told me to wait to shower until the next morning.  She said that when I did shower to dry myself lightly with a towel – helpful advice considering I hadn’t yet researched “What to do after getting a spray tan.”  I dressed back into my post-spray-tan uniform -- sweats and a loose t-shirt that I didn’t care about getting stained, and black flip flops. 

When I got home I admired my head-to-toe glow, which I haven’t had in years since the tanning-booth tan I got when I was a silly 17-year-old prepping for prom.  Remarkably, there was no orange hue or icky self-tan smell and it actually looked really natural and passable for a "real tan."

I understand the temptation to tan, because everyone looks better with a little glow.  The beauty of a spray tan is that it imposes the same kind of glow that a suntan does, but without the potential for accelerated wrinkles and skin cancer.  But at $30 (plus tip) a pop, though, to have it done right, it’s not something that every person’s budget can accommodate, especially on a weekly basis when the tan fades.  But who needs to be bronzed all the time? 

I think a spray tan is a perfect once-in-a-while treat, especially when you want to wear a cute sundress or bikini, and are like me who pretty regularly dons the SPF 30 every time you step outside.   Long story short: you'll definitely find me getting my spray tan on again.