Monday, October 24, 2011

Sally Menke: A Tribute to Tarantino’s Cutting Room Queen

            I am a huge lover of all things Quentin Tarantino.  I quote his films on a daily basis and have twice suffered fairly major injuries in my excitement to see his work (messed up rotator cuff falling down the stairs on the way to Grindhouse and torn calf muscle 7 minutes before his season finale episode of CSI.  Long story.  Still watched it.)  Whenever I am sad, or angry, or scared, or just need to be inspired by something great, Pulp Fiction is my default.  He never disappoints me, and always makes me laugh.  Q is my Ryan Gosling.
            Beside every great Director is his leading lady.  And while Uma Thurman and Pam Grier may be the first names that spring to mind, there is another unsung shero in this story.  Sally Menke, the brilliant woman who edited every single one of Tarantino’s films, sadly passed away just over a year ago.  I only discovered this tragedy about an hour ago reading an interview with Rosanna Arquette about Pulp Fiction’s release on Blu Ray, which prompted me to read up on the woman who evidently played an integral role in creating some of my favourite cinematic masterpieces.  I can’t believe what a profound effect she’s had on me, and yet somehow I knew nothing about this amazing woman.
            Hollywood is so full of shiny stars that sometimes we forget about those people beyond the glow of the spotlight.  Menke referred to editors as “quiet heroes” because Joan Rivers doesn’t usually stop them on the red carpet to find out who they’re wearing, and we rarely have to deal with annoying controversies about whether or not they should have done that nude cover shoot.  And yet they are ultimately largely responsible for creating the pace and tone of the films we love and maximizing the talents of the celebrities we worship.  We take for granted impeccable dramatic tension and comedic timing, forgetting that someone took millions of hours locked away in a tiny dark room deciding whether that shot needs to last five seconds or six to achieve its optimal impact.     
            For 17 years Sally Menke took Q’s vision and weaved it into gold.  She was the only editor he ever entrusted his masterpieces to, and he credited her with playing a major part in the creative outcome of his films.  She spoke of their “symbiotic” relationship where they knew what the other was thinking and could finish each others’ sentences.  He wrote the snappy dialogue, and she made it breathe.  He created some of the most iconic soundtracks ever, and she gracefully choreographed his footage to “K-B-I-L-L-Y’s super sounds of the 70’s”.  It was a partnership in every sense.  Her loss is devastating.
So Sally, this tribute is to say thank-you for blowing my mind again and again.  Thank-you for removing my brain from the mundane 90 page three act structure and taking it on the Pulp Fiction wild non-linear adventure ride.  Thank-you for history’s most intense chugging of a glass of milk in the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, and for the classic Jack Rabbit Slims Twist Contest.  Thank-you for Mexican standoffs, sword fights, car trunk POV cuts, and for ensuring that any time I hear “Stuck in the Middle With You” I will only be able to think about ears getting cut off.  Even though I didn’t know it at the time, you were an inspiration, and the next time I watch Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds (possibly all in one sitting), I promise to appreciate the legacy you’ve left. 

#Ugly Girls Are Not Allowed

October 24th marks United Nations Day, a day devoted to the leading global organization promoting international peace and development, including gender equality and women’s health.  I love the United Nations and I love the Millenium Development Goals.  I love the idea that the world is aspiring to reduce maternal mortality, increase female representation in society, and improve the quality of life for billions of women around the globe.  Perhaps that is why it is so frustrating that on the same day the United Nations celebrated the anniversary of its Charter, one of the most popular items on twitter took us back five million steps with #UglyGirlsAreNotAllowed.
Normally I can take twitter trends with a grain of salt and not get too emotional about the crap that people are talking about.  I don’t always love reading the constant stream of consciousness about how cute Justin Bieber is or how to know you’re ghetto, but admittedly I do find it fun to *replace my favourite movie titles with bacon on occasion.  Today, however, I let the TTs get into my head.
Here is my list of what I consider the top ten idiotic things that society believes ugly girls are not allowed to do, as taken from Twitter (spelling/grammar mistakes included).
1. to have a good time. lmao
2. to be in clubs with pretty cute or beautiful girls
3. to play hard to get.  you already hard to want
4. to be picky... yu have no authority acting stuck up!
5. to say "single and loving it" cause they dont have a choice.
6. to be dumb and broke.... because then u are completely pointless
7. to get mad at this TT 1st cuz it proves they think theyre ugly &2nd cuz they have no sense of humour *rolls eyes*
8. too text like your pretty... text like a ugly person...
9. to argue with a pretty girl about anything! I don't care if she thinks 1 plus 1 is 11.  She's right!
10. to say every dude wants them, Girl dont nobody want you, alive that is.... :-)

The things ugly girls are not allowed to do range from being seen with attractive people or communicating ‘like’ pretty girls (whatever that means), to people wanting you dead if you exude confidence.  If you are ugly you are not entitled to make choices.  If you find yourself with a jerk you deserve it for being ugly and you should actually be happy you managed to get anyone at all.  If you are also not rich or intelligent you are “pointless”, which doesn’t really matter because even if you are intelligent you’re not allowed to express it around beautiful people who apparently possess the ability to alter basic mathematics.  And even though these tweets are horrifying and treat women like their sole purpose is to provide eye candy for scuzzbags, ugly girls are not allowed to be offended because it means they have no sense of humour *rolls eyes*.
The fact that there is such a thing as plastic surgery is not “proof” of unattractiveness, as one tweeter suggested.  If it proves anything it’s that there is a constant and endless need to be more beautiful even if the standard of beauty we’re trying to attain can’t be achieved without being cut up and injected with gelatinous sludge. 
I know that I could probably just dismiss this twitter trend as a heap of nonsense spewed out by a bunch of losers with no future (at least that’s what my roommate begged me to do), but I just can’t help being super angry about it.  Not only is it damaging to the already low self-esteem of many women, but it also devalues other factors like intelligence in women.  And the real problem is that it’s not merely an isolated incident, so even if I don’t get all mental about it this time I know the next load of chauvinist crap is lurking just around the corner.  Acceptance is just a form of legitimization.  #UglyGirlsAreNotAllowed to stay quiet.

*Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bacon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fact: ‘Some Assembly Required’ Furniture Is An Aphrodisiac

It recently occurred to me that if a boy took me to Ikea for a first date I am certain I would inevitably marry him.  If the night progressed into the collaborative assembly of a Billy bookcase I may even consider hosting his children.  As much as I hate generalizations, girls <3 Ikea.
Ikea is not just a furniture store, it is a magical world filled with hopes and dreams coded in fun Swedish names.  It is about the nostalgia of the past and the potential of the future.  It is about sentimental reminiscences of first apartments, bonding with friends over wine and cheap storage units, and all kinds of things that make us feel warm and fuzzy.  Ikea is life’s sequel to the candy store, and the cute cuddly puppy of the retail world.  Ikea is happiness.
A first trip to Ikea is a rite of passage that means you are officially grown up.  As you wander through that gigantic maze of immaculately laid out dining room sets you are faced with a sense of empowerment as you fantasize about all the amazing dinner parties you’ll be too busy to have.  But of course you don’t think about the fact that you’ll be too busy and poor to host lavish parties.  Instead you proudly fill up your cart with cocktail glasses and good intentions.
Ikea is about choices.  It is about exercising your free will, making your own decisions, and then making even more choices between black-brown or birch veneer.  You are a visionary, like Van Gogh but with more ears and ideally less syphilis.
Ikea is about late night takeout sushi, too many bottles of chardonnay, and laughing as you clumsily try to manoeuvre your first allen key.  It is the joy of learning how to use Ikea tools from your Ikea veteran friend who can whip together particle board like nobody’s business.  It is about that defining moment when you take a step back and gaze lovingly at the masterpiece you just built and think ‘wow, I have somewhere to put my shit now’.  It is the discovery that you can conquer any of life’s challenges: today the coffee table, tomorrow the world!  You own life!
(As an aside, I just realized I think I may have a crush on my friend Hayley.)
Moral of the story: Ikea is the way to my heart because, simply put, it brings out the best in me.  It brings out my happiness, independence, creativity, hope and strength.  The person I am at Ikea is the person I aim to be always in life.  That being said, I’m a little worried that now if a guy asks me to go to Ikea with him he’s maybe read this and just looking to get into my self-assembled Malm bed.  Revised conclusion: Going to Ikea and constructing Ikea furniture with your girl friends is awesome!