Archive by Author

Beard of the Week: December 8

8 Dec

Let’s take a trip across the pond, over to our dear friend, Russia!

While there we’re going to visit one of the most prolific realist fiction authors and greatest novelist of all time, Mr. Leo Tolstoy!!

All that greatness aside, wouldn’t you want this dude to just be your grandpa?

Continue reading

Beard of the Week: Video Edition

3 Dec

ALRIGHT, I’m late! I know I know I know. But listen, Wednesday night was the celebratory event for Movember where we crowned our favorite mustache, and I’ll be honest, I was a liiiitttllleee hung over (and am right now…), too hung over in fact, to remember to do Beard of the Week.

But WHATEVER! Here we are, and you’re still gettin’ your beard so quit whining.

At some point in the recent past I was sitting in my living room drinking screwdrivers (awful screwdrivers, Crowley orange juice and Crystal Palace…ugh) with my friend Justin and as he’s a music fanatic, Continue reading

Beard of the Week: November 24

24 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As it happens to fall on a Beard of the Week day, I did a little research, and who knew that turkeys have beards?!

I sure didn’t.

Check it out!

Handsome, eh?

Actually turkeys are arguably one of the ugliest birds on the planet, but at least they have beards!

I also didn’t have time to think of a person to honor this week, so whatever. I’m a slacker, deal with it.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday, and if you don’t celebrate then I hope you had a lovely day in general and be happy that your stomach isn’t distended like mine is right now!

We’ll be back next week with a human beard, be sure to check back!

Online Dating Experiment Week 3/The End.

18 Nov

In an attempt to put off cleaning my apartment I’ve decided that it’s time for another update.

“Update” meaning I’m telling you all this:

I QUIT!

What have I learned from this experience? Online dating is for chumps.

How many messages did I receive about my fake facial hair? Countless. And why is every guy that messages me so interested in my obsession with ketchup? Literally, every message I received said something along the lines of, “I love ketchup too!”

Well DUH it’s like one of the best condiments ever!

I’m bowing out a week early. Throwing in the towel. Hanging it up to dry. Retiring. Surrendering. Flying the coop. Throwing it out the window.

In short, I’m over it.

I’ve got enough going on in the real world to keep me interested/occupied. All this website did was fill up my email inbox and make me feel like I’m some hyper-critical asshole who won’t give anyone a chance because I ignore all of them because they ALL do something weird/stupid/wrong.

Which is partly true, but still. I don’t need some website making me feel bad because I happen to have high standards.

Basically I’m too much of a jerk to do online dating. That’s the plain and simple truth. I need to be able to size people up in real life. And nothing drives me more crazy than an incapacity/lack of interest in using the English language properly. Don’t browsers have spell check like, built into them nowadays? Online dating is entirely based on your typing! Why wouldn’t you want to sound intelligent!?

Give me a fricken’ break.

And on top of all that I’m just too damn busy to keep up with it. I can’t be bothered to sit down for fifteen minutes and write a well-thought out message to someone.

Here’s how it works for me: Wait ’til the weekend, meet me at the bar, get drunk with me, we’ll talk, and who knows! Maybe sparks will fly, maybe they won’t. Either way, it’s better than trying to figure someone’s first impression out through a computer screen.

Beard of the Week: November 17

17 Nov

I’ve been slacking lately, but goshdarnit I’ve been so tired and things have been so hectic! I, however, will not overlook my beard of the week responsibilities. A more blasphemous thought has never crossed my mind! Continue reading

Beard of the Week: November 10

10 Nov

It’s that time again!

So, here at Beard of the Week I try to honor some classically great beards, but I also like to shed light on some that I think may get overlooked, and that’s what this week’s beard is all about.

Ladies and gents, Ben Affleck!

Dear Ben,
I’m willing to overlook that trainwreck of a film, Gigli, if you promise to keep a beard at all times.

Forever yours,
Marena

Why Rihanna Rules.

9 Nov

I ran this idea by Evan and he told me to “try it, but be prepared to be made fun of.” So I’m going to do just that. I’m putting my feminist pants on, and here we go.

I.Love.Rihanna.

LOVE her! And do you wanna know why? I’m sure you’re all aware of how totally smokin’ hot she is, but she also endured a very public domestic abuse case, and ever since has been making a name for herself as a sexually charged, in-control woman.

I guess we should start at the beginning. It kind of goes without saying that the world of hip-hop is not very kind to women, not even its women artists. You pretty much can’t get through a music video, or even a song, without hearing the words “bitch” or “pussy”. Dr. Dre thinks bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks, and Mr. Sean Carter is glad to have a whole slew of problems, 99 even, but at least a bitch ain’t one. Nelly makes money by swiping his credit card in a girl’s ass crack (to a song cleverly named “Tip Drill”), and how many times do you see a male artist half-naked, running around a pool with a bunch of fully clothed women? I’ll go out on a limb and say never.

I get that rap and hip-hop are part of and stem from an entirely different culture, but there is obviously a huge problem here. If you’re interested here is a fantastic documentary on the issues with women in hip-hop, there are several parts, and I will promise you that you will feel ill after the first one. I did.

So, women in hip-hop. There are powerhouses like Beyonce, and while she loves to rant about how much money she’s making and how she’s on top of the hip-hop world, I have a few issues. The main one being that she is sending us girls VERY mixed messages! Up until I am…Sasha Fierce came out, Beyonce was all about ownin’ it. B-day is pretty much all about going out, killin’ it with your friends, and being a master of your own sexuality. Once …Sasha Fierce came out, things took a turn for the worse. Half the record begs the love of her life, whom she can’t live without to never leave her. She even has a song titled “Why Don’t You Love Me?” Maybe because he sucks? And granted she had just gotten married when she made this record and I’m sure her being in love with Jay-Z influenced her writing, but quit confusing us girl! You want us to go out and make mad money and dance in the club all night, even dump the guy if he isn’t gonna put a ring on it, but then you want us to feel helpless when our loves leave us!!

“Single Ladies” brings on an entirely new set of troubles. If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it? Really? So now Beyonce, not only are you referring to yourself as “it”, but you’re just portraying yourself as some sort of gold-digging female who only wants to get married! Exactly what us ladies need, more pressure to get married, more commodification of our love and our bodies. Thanks.

And then there’s that gem of a song “Girls Run the World.”
NEWSFLASH! WE DON’T!! The lyrics pretty much say that we live in a female-run society where women are never disrespected or treated as inferiors. Beyonce, look around, this happens literally every second of every day in this country. Quit giving young girls a false idea of empowerment! One woman is raped or sexually assaulted every THREE seconds! There’s still a shitload of work to be done and all you’re doing is lulling them into a false sense of security!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Beyonce. I think she IS a really powerful woman and she obviously is doing well for herself. She orchestrates pretty much everything in her career and is confident, smart, and eloquent. I just wish she’d get back to where she came from.

So now onto the woman of the hour: Rihanna.

Rihanna went from popular to almost-spectacle when she was publicly abused by her then-partner and fellow artist, Chris Brown. We all saw the mug shot of her face completely battered, and what made me the most ill was that not only did he get off with community service, but he doesn’t seem to be all that apologetic about what happened. He even goes so far as to get offended when people bring it up, and doesn’t understand why people can’t just “focus on his music”. Maybe I’m just confused, but that’s not something that is easily forgotten, or forgiven.

I’ve unfortunately seen domestic abuse in several instances, the most traumatic being that of my college roommate getting locked into our room by her boyfriend so he could beat the crap out of her. After battling feelings of helplessness as we (we lived in a suite) sat there and listened to him throw her around the room and hit her, my other roommate decided to get his friends. Every day I wish that I had called the police. The following week I came back from class and he was sleeping in her bed.

So, after this incident, Rihanna released a record entitled Rated R. Suddenly she was fierce, outward about her sexuality, and proclaiming it to the world. The first song to cause a big fuss was “S&M”, you know, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me”? Fuckin. Rad. So now not only is she asserting her sexuality, she is addressing her abuse, AND she’s bringing a taboo sex subject like sado-masochism to the forefront, right in the public’s face! So it’s completely reasonable to understand why there was a huge backlash, why the video was pushed to be banned from television, and why mothers everywhere threw a hissy fit when their daughters ran around singing the lyrics. Here’s the video:

It’s hardly realistic, and there is no actual sex at all. It’s clearly a pop-ified representation of sexuality. Somehow still, it’s managed to be banned in 11 countries and you have to tell YouTube your 18 to watch it! Sexism out the wazoo! Practically every song in modern hip-hop is sexualized, of course though, it’s men objectifying women. Some critics said it was hypocritical of Rihanna to portray herself sexually after she had pressed charges against Chris Brown. So then the allegation is that just because she may like to be tied up or play a little “rougher” in the bedroom, she deserves to be beaten? Heck, she’s practically asking for it!

Jesus Christ.

Now onto my favorite, “Rude Boy”.

God DAMN! Where do I begin? She’s asserting her sexuality, stating what she wants, giving her partner what he wants, AND getting and giving consent! Communicative sex? This is my dream girl. If every girl in the world could be willing to say what she wants during sex, to not be too afraid and have to endure “bad” sex, we’d be in great shape.

This video is a clear reference to Jamaican dance halls and the ”rude boy” persona. In these dance halls, as I learned from the film Dance Hall Queen, women are in a space where they are allowed to feel free to express themselves, sexually or otherwise, without worry from the outside world. ThThey dress how they want to, dance how they want to, and build a community through these experiences. Being from Barbados, it is obviously a reference to her culture. Rihanna performs traditional dance hall moves in the video and the colors and outfits she wears are also a clear reference.

I was riding in the car with my sister when I first heard this song and she said, “It’s nice that she’s telling dudes to pull her hair after she just got the crap beat out of her.” Same issue as before! Your bedroom practice does NOT give others the right to beat/rape/assault you!!! EVER! Nothing does! Not your clothes, not how you dance, nothing! I hear it all the time, even women saying it, as girls walk down the street in short skirts and high heels, “…and they wonder why they get assaulted.”

The issue is that they shouldn’t be assaulted! The issue is that any person, male female or otherwise, should be allowed to wear whatever, go wherever, and do whatever she/he wants without fear of abuse!!!

So then there’s Rihanna’s other songs, “What’s My Name” is one of my personal favorites. She’s proclaiming her love for someone because she wants him, she’s choosing him, because he’s “just [her] type”. All the while still sticking to her guns, “I wanna see if you can go downtown with a girl like me.”

Then there came the next controversial video, perhaps even more so than “S&M”,  “Man Down”.

Now we’re talking very real issues. Rape, rape revenge, and the vicious cycle that ensues. The song is all about struggling with the murder of her rapist. The video shows her dancing with a guy at a club, and then her saying NO (again, how you dance, dress, or otherwise does not mean anyone can have you). And we all know what follows. I was puzzled after reading the comments on the video, “Yeah girl! He got what he deserved!” seemed to be the general consensus. Unfortunately this is the exact opposite of what Rihanna is trying to say.

Rape revenge is never a good thing. Ever. And this video and song are supporting that. It doesn’t help anyone if the victim then becomes the criminal.

On her Twitter, she says, ““Young girls/women all over the world…we are a lot of things! We’re strong innocent fun flirtatious vulnerable, and sometimes our innocence can cause us to be naïve! We always think it could NEVER be us, but in reality, it can happen to ANY of us! So ladies be careful and #listentoyomama! I love you and I care!”

Practical and accessible advice, no?

So that’s that. Rihanna. Parents hate her, I love her. The way I see it, when an 8 year-old girl wants to walk around with a whip and no pants on, that’s where parenting comes in. You can’t blame an artist in pop culture for how your children behave, that’s your responsibility. Instead of banning artists like Rihanna because you’re afraid they’re poisoning your children, take a moment to explain why Rihanna gets to do those things. Maybe it’s because she’s older, maybe it’s because it’s just for fun, who knows. Maybe you should explain things to your kids instead of just sweeping them under the rug. I’m not a parent, so what do I know? But I remember listening to songs like “Too Close” by Next and pretty much anything by Salt n’ Peppa, and I’m not running around flaunting myself to the entire world, nor was I ever. Hell, I didn’t even understand what the lyrics meant at the time, and it’s probably safe to say that kids today don’t either.

There’s also a big problem with parents, politicians, and religious figures making sex into a crazily taboo subject. Some people like to pretend that it doesn’t even exist, and if you’re a woman? Forget it. No one would like to believe that us young, pure ladies are having The Sex, and that’s a huge problem in our culture. With everything from sex education to contraception, we’re constantly faced with backlash and it can all be traced back to the simple idea of “purity” (white wedding dresses, anyone?). And just for thought: how many times do you hear about a man having trouble buying condoms versus the countless cases where women have been denied birth control or the morning after pill? 

I’m getting away from my point, back to Rihanna.

I can’t write this without mentioning the fact that there is probably a lot of backlash because she is also a black female artist. I obviously can’t speak of the experience of women of other cultures, but after doing some reading it’s pretty clear that her ethnicity plays a role in how she’s being portrayed and accepted by the media and by viewers. Like I said, I can’t eloquently or accurately explain because I am a white, mostly privileged woman, but here’s an article that discusses it.

Phew. That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.
For fun, I’ll leave you this, which has been stuck in my head for weeks, and now will probably be in yours as well.

Online Dating Experiment Week 2

7 Nov

I was going to clean my apartment, then I realized it’s week two!
If you missed it, check out Week 1 here.

Okay. So nothing crazy has happened yet. Just annoying more than anything else.

All of the people that were messaging me from my first post have been cut off. The last one I referenced? The arrogant one that I knew kinda sucked? Well he used “lol” at the end of one of his messages. Maybe I’m just being harsh, but I’m sorry, I’m not sorry. If you are above the age of 15 and are a fully functioning adult, you should not be using “lol” (or “rofl”, or “omg”, you get my point).

I went on to tell him I was in grad school, at which point I realized he probably had not even looked at my profile even once, because he asked if my studio was for “audio or live work”. I understand ”studio” can have a variety of meanings, but the first two words on my profile are Printmaker/artist. In that order. Not once is music even mentioned unless I’m dropping a few names of bands that I like! And then he spent an entire paragraph telling me about his grad experience and how he is working all these crazy jobs now. Sorry, not interested. If I was I would have asked, but you didn’t give me the chance to.

A few have commented on my profile picture, the one of me with the fake mustache. Most just say, “Nice mustache.” To which I have nothing to say. But one brave soul even got a little crude with me and sent me a message that solely read, “Can I get a mustache ride?”

I was tempted to reply only because of his gall,  but then realized he wasn’t even being crude and witty, he just was being stupid and thus showed me that his personality and sense of humor probably match that of a 17 year-old and he is thus unworthy of my potential retort.

I’ve had a few messages from simply nice dudes that I find just plain uninteresting. Again, I guess I’m just a jerk, but there’s nothing here to keep me interested.

My interest was piqued however, when I got a message from a New Paltz local. It was well-written, even mildly entertaining, then I realized it was the owner of Slashroot…sorry “/root” and he was chastising me on my improper use of the “/” key. Not only is this man kind of renknowned for being crazy, but I just can’t get down on this place for reasons I won’t get into on a public forum such as this website.
Consider him ignored.

Then TODAY, I got a message from a guy that is actually in the Printmaking department. My greatest fear come true. He just said hi, made his presence known, but god damnit, now what do I do? Do I explain myself as some jerk doing this in the name of mildly entertaining pieces of writing at my victim’s expense? Do I ignore him? Do I just say hi back?

Jesus.

In the end I told him I was doing an “experiment”, then I realized how lame that sounded and now he probably just thinks I was lying and am a total fool.

So in the end, nothing all that new or surprising. My friends keep telling me that I have to go on a date, that I have to message someone. The truth is, I would if I cared about meeting any of these people! It’s not my fault they’re all genuinely uninteresting! And like I said before, it’s really hard for me to even be mildly intruiged by someone unless I’ve met them at least once.

And to be honest, I’ve been having more “luck” (whatever that means)  in bars as of lately than I have on this damn website.

So, I’m stating as of right now, week 2, that online dating is useless.

I will stick out these next two weeks, maybe something or someone will surprise me, but I doubt it. I’m better off walking into Snugs and getting buzzed and having more intelligent conversations there than I’m having on this website.

And for the record, dudes. Don’t overdo it on the emoticons, alright? One “: P” is fine every now and then, it helps with the tone of your typing, but at the end of every sentence? Come on. This isn’t AIM and we aren’t in 8th grade.

Artist Rant No. 2

6 Nov

Last time I talked about the kind of art I hate. This time I’m going to talk about how much I hate being an artist in a non-art environment. Specifically family functions.

As an artist I find it not only frustrating, but insulting when people, including my family, say, “Oh go do this…you’re the artist.” Yesterday I went to my sister-in-law’s baby shower and there was a baby clothes decorating table. You know, like 200 white ones-ies and a butt-ton of fabric markers. I heard the above statement more times than I could count upon my decision to go make one (it was more by force, but we won’t get into that…). This happens in other instances too, like at bridal showers where someone is supposed to make a bouquet out of the ribbons from the obnoxious amount of presents the bride to be receives. Artists everywhere are cursed and therefore forced to endure these god-awful rituals. Isn’t it bad enough that we’ve picked one of the dumbest careers in the world? And then my aunt says, “You should design baby clothes!” You think I don’t know I’m capable of doing that crap?

Better yet is when your mother (sister, aunt, brother, etc.) comes up to you and says, “I want a drawing!”

Of what?! What do you want a drawing of!??!!? How about you look at my work and pick something you like and I’ll give it to you? I can’t count the number of times my mother has asked me to paint a fucking “mural” in her bathroom. “You know, I have all those bamboo sticks in vases, do something that matches that…”

These projects are what we call “ugly babies”. My mother has been heckling me for years for a drawing of “the kids”.  Last Christmas I finally gave in and drew a portrait of my five siblings. I found the dumbest, most unflattering pictures I could find of each one of us, collaged them together, and drew them. Mom was…pleased. My little cousin asked for a picture of the Jonas Brothers for her ninth birthday and as I sat there drawing it, all I could think was, “This is not what I’m going to let my life as an artist become.” Granted, the call I got of her screaming her head off about how much she loved it made it a little less awful, but still…

I don’t even need to get into the fact that I hardly draw anymore unless I’m tracing something– that’s the beauty of printmaking. And that not only do I have no interest in drawing my family members, or drawing FOR them, but does anyone have any idea what it’s like to be trivialized into some arts & crafts moron? Just because I have an interest in art does NOT mean that I want to make things out of bows and scrapbook materials. I’m all about having fun and making things that aren’t fine art, but when people assume that those things are something I want to do all the time, or better yet something I’m really good at, simply because I’m an artist, I want to light myself on fire.

My family has a very basic understanding of art, meaning that being an artist means you’re good at drawing. Concepts? Forget it. They look at my art and say, “So a horse that’s dead? Is that some comment on society?” (hold pistol to temple) “Is that red because you were angry when you made it?” (pull trigger)  Referencing historical artists and movements is just plain useless, and trying to have a conversation about these things is pretty much impossible. I took my mother to MoMA one year and all she wanted to do was look at Starry Night. Of all the beautiful and influential works of art in that gold mine of a building, she picks the one painting whose popularity makes me want to vomit.

Women of Avignon, The painting that potentially BEGAN modern art? Nothing.
De Kooning? Chagall? Nauman? Braque? Picabia?!  Kahlo?!? DUCHAMP!? SCHIELE!??!

Not even Cezanne! Just Starry Night.
Oh, it’s enough to kill me, but I digress.

The point is that just because I’m an artist, or even an art major, doesn’t mean that I should be expected to do all the stupid arts and crafts that you mere mortals do.

So, what have we learned from all of this?
Don’t invite me to a shower of any kind, ever. The mere thought of it makes me want to hulk out and break things into tiny pieces.

Beard of the Week: November 3

3 Nov

This is a very special edition of Beard of the Week! Last night Snugs held the annual Movember Shave-Off, and we were able to raise about 450 dollars for men’s cancer research and awareness!

Instead of honoring a celebrity this week, I’ve decided to honor each of our brave shave-ees, who got up there to raise some money for a great cause!

This was my first beard of the night:

And my second, this guy also lost a mullet and was last years winner for best mustache at the end of the month:

And then, the big breadwinner for the night! He raised 210 dollars, mainly because he set himself a minimum of 150. We pooled together our and got shit done! Our dear friend and bartender:

(all these images are courtesy of my pal Brittany)

 

So that’s that! The night started off with me in beard heaven, and ended with a very sad Marena surrounded by clean-shaven men.

I ended up spending 40 dollars on shaving dudes, but I’d say it was worth it. At least I got to touch a few of them before I said goodbye. (I’m a total perv…)

At the end of the month there will be another event in which all the shaved boys will have a mustache competition. The winner gets a nice little sash and bragging rights for being able to grow the gnarliest facial hair.

Next week we’ll be back to our regular style of Beard of the Week, thank you to all the wonderful dudes who donated themselves to raising money last night! It was a totally rad time!