hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Controversy in a Box

One of the funniest online arguments I have seen in quite a while is currently raging over at Salon.com. It all started with an article "exposing" the marketing machine behind Annie's brand Mac & Cheese, and has devolved into members of the liberal intelligencia trying to out-do one-another with accounts of who is indeed the busiest, most stressed-out parent in the world and why this means that they can or cannot cook a square meal for their families. I have several things to point out here.

1.) The article vilifies Annie's for branding itself as a progressive, wholesome brand when in fact, the product it sells is hardly any better than Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Okay, true. However, I would like to direct the author's attention to a disturbing yet true cultural point that will better help contextualize Annie's within the present-day market place. We live in what the experts call a "capitalist society." In laymen's terms this means that the buying and selling of goods drives our economy. A large part of sales relies of course, on the ability of companies to successfully brand and market their products. Annie's found a niche in the ever-growing organic/healthy foods movement and is using it to move their product.

It is wholly naive for people to expect products that are marketed as "healthy" or "natural" to be above clever or slightly duplicitous marketing schemes. Nowhere does the box state its parent company's moral superiority or commitment to taking down the man. I understand the left's desire to vilify mainstream advertising strategies and to hold companies that they perceive to be members of their "community" to a higher standard, but that's not the way the marketplace works. Perhaps a better messaging strategy for Annie's could be "We suck slightly less than Kraft."

Moreover, as a member of the left I am so tired of my fellow progressive thinkers being so short-sited in their attitudes towards marketing. It's a practice that is here to stay and the sooner we accept it and use it to our own advantage to move our own ideas, the better off we'll all be.

2.) Just because it's available at Whole Foods, doesn't mean it's going to save you.

In my opinion, Whole Foods is genius branding at work. It has created an image of itself in the eyes of many as a company that can do no wrong. Surely if you buy it at Whole Foods, it's the best you can buy, right? If it's organic, you should buy it, right? Sure, sometimes, but not always. That organic apple you just bought sure looks tasty, and it's ORGANIC. But in many cases, you'd be doing something much better for the environment if you bought a non-organic locally grown apple. But we don't like to think about that because it's WHOLE FOODS so it must be good. Um, not always.

Bringing this point back around to the article, the author is outraged that Annie's Mac and Cheese isn't much healthier than Kraft.

Well, duh. Does anyone buy the stuff thinking they've made a great nutritious choice? It's an indulgence, a treat, not something intended for human's to successfully subsist off of.

3.) Many of the people trading comments on the article are arguing the virtues of home-cooking vs. Annie's. Many are claiming to be so incredibly busy and important, yet capable of scraping together a few precious moments from their days to cook a square meals for their families. To them I say, Brava, you are surely a better person than I, who after the gym at night prefers to collapse onto the sofa with a glass of wine and a few pieces of cheese, dreading the day she'll ever be required to provide sustenance for her offspring. But if you're sooooooo busy and important, I ask you this:

Why are you wasting your time debating the merits of boxed macaroni products in the comments section of liberal e-zine? Shouldn't you be out saving polar bears or something?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hey, Hey, Ho-Ho! Po-mo Pants Have Got to Go!

Back in college, there was this clique of kids known to many as the po-mos. They acquired their nickname due to their collective interest in post-modern literary theory/art/film/what-have-you. They traveled in packs and wore unfortunate clothing several sizes too small (80's ski parkas and perfectly creased pants that showed off an inch of white sock). Many of them also played in bands. Bands that made fuzzy, distorted lo-fi music that they would play at parties and that sounded best when you were floating in a K-hole or were simply really, really stoned. The po-mos were my first real exposure to hipsters. I found them simultaneously annoying, compelling and a little scary. It was difficult to know what to do with the po-mos and as a result of that, some mocked them. These days, they just make me giggle. I can't in any way understand why their aesthetic was necessary or even desirable. The other day for instance, I noticed in a staff meeting that a colleague was wearing white socks, black shoes, and slightly too short pants. He later commented that he was sorry about the white socks, but it was a laundry day, and why did I keep on staring at his feet in the meeting? That's when I explained to him the po-mos.

Anyway, many of the po-mos graduated to play in indie-rock bands that eventually gathered wide followings (or wide for indie-rock standards at least). Many of these bands even became critical darlings.

Earlier today, I was looking at the website of a particular band, seeing what was new, if they had any albums coming up or live shows (yes they do, at the 9:30 Club). I clicked on the photos page, only to find myself eye-to-eye with the image of a boy I had several English classes with Jr and Senior year. Yup, it seems that shy kid with the odd pants and the funny early-80's style belts has gone and joined one of my favorite bands. I mean, I think he's been in it for a while, and I was just now getting around to looking at their website.

I related this information to two friends from college and one of them responded with one of her usual sage observations: There's just no escape from the po-mos.

Right on.

AND...I have decided to combat my winter blues by taking up running, yet again. I know I've mentioned this before, but then I injured myself and had to stop. But methinks it's time to give it another shot. I'm following a program on Runnersworld.com. It is telling me to begin by...walking. This, I think I can swing. So, to the gym I go to walk. At least for a few days, until I begin my walk/run regiment. I think it would be nice to be in better shape. I don't have major issues with my figure these days, although I think it could be a little slimmer and a bit more toned. That, and I think it would be a good hobby, and endorphins do a body good. I already eat rather well, simply because I'm a nerd and I prefer healthy foods to grease. Don't get my wrong, I love the occasional fried food as much as the next gal, but I actually crave things like brown rice, nutritional yeast and veggies. Of course, there's always the desire to drop 20 pounds, just for kicks, but having done this before, I know they don't stay off for very long. Especially when I count alcohol as a major food group.

On an entirely different and perhaps counter-productive note: a co-worker gave me a fondue set. Who wants to come over for a little cheese fondue?

Me, Me, Me, Me, Me (Part 1,000,000) (and some stuff about boobs)

I've been rather quiet this week. Sometimes the whole self-obsessiveness associated with blogging trips me up. This week I've been more aware of it than I have been inclined to think of something witty to write. Not for lack of trying, mind you. I have drafted several posts this week in subjects ranging from Seasonal Affective Disorder (I have it and it sucks. 'Nuff said) to dating droughts (When it rains, it pours. When it doesn't, alas, it doesn't) to attention-suckers (People who suck all the attention in a room towards themselves--which can sometimes cause you to grow annoyed with people who you think should be capable of seeing through them) and not one of them has constituted an interesting post.

Life just seems comfortably boring. Work is fine, life is fine, my house is fine. I will say that I went bra shopping yesterday and although what I bought fit at the time, my breasts are having some issues with it today. Or rather, one of them is. The other is perfectly well adjusted as always, but the half-a-cup-size-larger-one is causing trouble yet again. I am banking on the fact that bras tend to stretch out a little after a few wears. It seemed fine yesterday when I tried it on. Demi cup, nice lift, good cleavage. When the saleswoman asked what I was looking for in a bra I said "something that will prevent my breasts from dragging on the floor?" (see how I used lame humor to mask my discomfort in discussing my breasts with a stranger? WASPs don't talk about our breasts. We blog about them) She laughed and handed me the one I have on now. It's rather pretty in an all black kinda way. But when did bras at VS get to be 50 dollars? Didn't they used to be a bit cheaper?

It's interesting how men fetishize breasts so much and for women they can be such a friggin' pain. I don't know any women who don't complain about bra shopping. There's some statistic out there claiming that some huge majority of women wear the wrong bra size. Which I don't doubt at all, seeing as how the sizing guides are completely out of wack. Most tell me I'm a 36B. One once told me I was a 30F. A saleslady at Nordstrom's once told me I was a 34B. See? All these conflicting opinions. Where on earth will I be able to find a bra in a 30 freaking F? That's ridiculous. I've arrived at a size that generally tends to work, based mostly on trial and error, completely opposed to conventional sizing charts--up some cup sizes, down some band sizes. I know I had hit the right size when out with Lulu one night, her first words when she saw me were "Your breasts look great. New bra, right?"

So boys (and women who favor hot girl-on-girl action), I say to you this--next time you're admiring your lady-friend in her new bra, appreciate the pains it probably took for her to find the one that fit just right.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ungh Anchor Links!

Allow me to take a moment to vent about my company's shoddy excuse for a website content management system (CMS). It sucks. The details are not important, but let's just say that the CMS and I are fighting and as a result, I am ignoring it. Normally, I am a fan of technology. Innovation fascinates me (in fact, I write about it for a living). I love the idea that new inventions have the potential to transform and revolutionize society--often for human benefit. Moreover, if it were not for the internet, I have NO idea how I would do my job, or even be able to bear sitting at my desk for 8 hours a day. But the CMS I am not a fan of. The CMS is transforming me into a cantankerous chain smoker. The CMS is further encouraging my already pathological procrastination habit. It has also caused me to clutch my mouse in a most unergonomic way, which has now led to a severe cramp in my pinky. My body and mind are falling apart and the CMS is to blame.

Get me a whisky drip, stat and bring on the weekend.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Annoyed By Hippies

I don't know. For some reason, they just bother me. You know?

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Pulse on Putting Out

Last night, with the aid of a glass of Maker's on the rocks, I penned a lengthy post on the topic of putting out on a first date--my history with it and my advice to others. This morning, with the aid of sobriety I realized that I simply don't want the details of my sexual history floating around on the internet. Luckily, it was still in draft form and I never posted it.

However, a nice PR person forwarded me a link regarding the topic and asked me to post it here, and because I am a fellow communications professional, I feel obliged to comply. It is part of a video series from Love@aol.com featuring man-on-the-street interviews regarding a variety of topics relating to sex and dating. Find it here.

I will say this regarding the subject--feel free to do it, just don't expect a relationship to flourish from it. It might, but in all likelihood it won't.

In the comments section feel free to voice your opinion on the matter, or why this is a lame topic for a blog posting because it has already been discussed on Sex in the City*. Either way is fine, I really don't care. Now excuse me, I have some Manolo Blahniks to buy and an indifferent WASPY man to trick into marrying me.

*This sort of irks me. It's not the fault of female bloggers that Sex in the City has turned our experiences into cliches. The show was on for a million seasons and explored a million romance-related topics. Obviously, there's going to be some overlap. If people don't like reading about dating, then don't read posts about dating. It seems pretty cut and dry to me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

We Drank Whisky, Ate Tater Tots

I really can't think of a better first date activity than that. Call me limited in imagination, or a woman of simple and distinct pleasures.

There was also a lot of idiotic grinning at the person sitting across the table. On my part, that is.

But then a calculated error was made. Again, on my part. I kissed him goodnight. I initiated said kiss. And now I feel like a hopeless spaz.

But I had fun, so I guess it was worth it. Live and learn.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Favorite Too-Small City (a Romance of Sorts)

It happens with all too much frequency. Engaged in casual conversation, I will utter the words "I rather like DC," and a DC-hater will inevitably glare at me over their beer, through the haze of their cigarette smoke, or out from under the weight of their own self importance and retort with a smirk and an incredulous "Why?!"

Of course it wasn't always this way. Some eight years ago, fresh from the west coast, new to the area, recovering from a prolonged adolescent angst marked by botch Manic Panic jobs and a dislike of basically everything, DC seemed like just another entity on my ever growing list of complaints. I had told myself I'd just be here for a year while I figured this "life" thing out. I'd move to New York just like all the other cool kids, get a place in Williamsburg, work for pennies at a publishing house as was my God given right as possessor of a shiny new B.A in English.

But a funny thing happened somewhere along the way. Somewhere amid navigating a series of soulless temp assignments, securing my very first "real job", getting fired from my very first real job and landing my second first "real job", I fell in love. First with a man, and then by extension with the city itself. I can't speak for everyone, but falling in love for the first time is perhaps the very best way to indoctrinate oneself into new town. Both new to the area, we learned DC together, navigating the terrain of our new city as we did of our relationship. Even when things relationship ended, I had a slew of fun hangouts at my fingertips, with fond memories attached to each. I was no longer attached to him, yet irrevocably so to DC.

Skip ahead several years. I've experienced the city in many of its forms--its less advantaged neighborhoods through my non-profit/anti-gentrification job and as the center of national politics through a subsequent one. I've found the best patios to sip drinks on during Indian Summer afternoons and the best dark corners to retreat to when nursing a broken heart. I have my favorite places to see live music, to people-watch, to pass an afternoon reading a book or looking at art, for dinner with girlfriends and shopping on a budget. Through each of my adventures in finding these places, I have encountered a bevy of characters--some forgettable, others less so.

It used to annoy me when I'd run into these people from my past--that my adopted hometown was too small to escape my ill-advised one night stands, loathsome ex-bosses, former roommates I never quite felt comfortable around. But the longer I'm here and the more times I run into them, the more I appreciate them and their presence. No matter how unpleasant or regrettable any of my experiences with these people were at the time, they contribute to the sum total of my history with the city, and in turn, greatly inform my views on relationships, professionalism, friendship, accountability, and in general how to conduct myself with maturity and grace. Granted, I continue to strive towards the two ideals, but I never would have come as far as I have were it not for those individuals and the lessons they have taught me along the way.

Recently, it seems that I am encountering a lot of these individuals, and mostly I am happy when I see them. It's comforting to live in a city composed of familiar faces, especially as the psychological scars that we may have afflicted on one another have faded enough so that we may comfortably co-exist.

Of course, I still remember a time when DC seemed hopelessly bland, when everyone I encountered seemed like a pompous douche, when I hated the Metro and couldn't find an engaging job. And for those individuals who continue to hate on DC, I can still empathize with their plight. I simply don't feel it anymore. Well, I don't today at least...

Monday, January 08, 2007


Being that it's Monday, I feel like I should have loads of fun tales to regale you all with concerning my weekend. As a sometimes wild and crazy single gal, I almost feel as if I am required to maintain my rep and have something to entertain you all with. But the truth is, my weekend was shockingly sane and quiet. And blissfully so. I not once stumbled out of a bar at closing time, carried on in any manner that might undermine my ladylike-ness, woke up with a pounding headache and a sense of dread, or spent any moment of the weekend regretting any of my actions. This is not to say that fun wasn't had, because it certainly was. Just in a very low-key kind of way.

Friday evening was spent in the company of Scarlett at the Lucky Bar over 7 and 7's and Jack and Gingers. We both remarked that with the smoking ban in effect Lucky Bar carried the definite aroma of empanadas wafting in from Julia's next door. It was kind of nice. As is typical of S and me, conversation eventually drifted to men and dating, wherein I came to a new conclusion regarding my attitude towards dating in the new year. Rather than maintaining my previously jaded and at times embittered outlook on the practice, I am resolving that 2007 will mark the official "return to sweetness." Let it now be known that in 2007, Hey Pretty is granting new meaning to previously overlooked actions like holding hands and first kisses. Although I've done a remarkably good job on developing self restraint in the hook-up department, this year I intend to take it a step closer. Dating will now mean "courtship", which in my book implies a certain propensity towards taking things slow, holding off on intimacy, etc, etc. Essentially, I think it would be nice if things like holding hands and kissing meant something, rather than standing as they do now in the hazy blur between "hello" and "sorry I never called, my pet parakeet died and I've been too sick with mourning to attempt human interaction." Male readers out there may interpret this as being a tease, and if that's the case, then oh well. I've been at this long enough that I'm learning to disregard that whole slut/tease dichotomy anyway. It's a myth, and we should all start treating it as such.

Anyway, we left LB around 11:00 and I was home (sober) before 11:30.

Saturday, I saw the Painted Veil with E2. As much as I enjoyed the film, the previews built it up to be a bit more dramatic than it actually was. Rather than reaching a dramatic peak, the story stretched out quietly and enjoyably and ended on a quiet, bittersweet, yet satisfying note. I'd say that the main reasons to see it would be the performances by Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, as well as the lush, green cinematography.

Later, I flew solo to a party, which was a somewhat challenging experience for me. I'm used to bringing a safety with me, somebody to talk to should the company at the party be lacking, preferably somebody more outgoing than myself who is better suited to making small talk with strangers should the need arise. But I was feeling brave, so I acted as my own safety. The party was fine, although I think I was the only non-CIA person there, evidenced by a variety of factors including some people with some odd social skills and a dodgy manner about discussing their work (why they didn't just claim to work for State like every other CIA person I've met in DC is beyond me. I've come to suspect that nobody actually works for State given the number of times it has proven to be a cover. Anyhoo). I've stated this many times and I will state it again: as an introvert, I often find other people exhausting. Especially strangers. Therefore, I had no qualms about leaving the party at 11 pm. It was a shame to waste the pretty (I was wearing a sheer black retro-looking blouse over a black camisole and jeans, but more significantly I had spent close to an hour flat-ironing my hair to pin-straight. I was quite the stunner if I do say so myself). But alas, prettiness in and of itself is no reason to aimlessly wander the streets of DC looking for action, so I hailed myself a cab and found my way home. At home I discovered a thrilling new fact: Saturday Night Live is funny again. I wonder if I'm the last to know this. I was quite pleased to discover this fact, and began to contemplate a whole new social life marked by being home on Saturdays in time to watch it. Tempting, very tempting.

The rest of the weekend was spent in the movies (Little Children), dining at Clyde's, fruitlessly trying to upload more photos to my flickr account, and reading a really good book.

See? Totally sane, marked by the enjoyment of art and literature, looked pretty, got lots of rest. I'm sure I'll feel a need to do something stupid in a week or two, but so far, this whole 2007 thing ain't so bad. I'm sorry 2007, I take back all the bad stuff I said about you earlier.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Smoking Outside Fox and Hounds (Sans Imper)

My first experience with the DC smoking ban occurred last night when I met EJ and 20 of her closest guy friends for cocktails at Fox and Hounds. I've been to the Fox a million times, heck, I used to live right across the street. Years ago, my then-boyfriend and I practically lived there. We had the menu memorized for what food a temp and a non-profit peon could live off of without dying of food poisoning; a system for hoarding the mini-bottles of soda that came with our vats of rail gin and rail whisky (his kitchen shelf was lined with bottles of diet coke and tonic water that I had smuggled out in my purse); on any given night if you couldn't find either one of us, you obviously weren't trying that hard because we were almost always at the Fox. I loved it there, and part of its familiarity as always been opening the door and being hit in the face by a thick wall of cigarette smoke and stale beer. Unpleasant as it was, eye watering even, the Fox always had it's own particular variety of this olfactory phenomenon--think Proust's madelines for the under-30-Dupont-hipster set.

Last night, opening the door and stepping past its threshold, I was struck immediately by a void--no cigarette smoke, just the scent of stale beer and cleansing product. The air, once thick with smoke was cleaner and easier to see through. Several times I thought a cigarette might be a nice accompaniment to my Jim Beam and Diet Coke, but the feeling would eventually pass. Finally, somebody remarked that a cigarette would be nice, so I brandished my pack and we slipped out to the patio. 17th Street was hopping with pedestrians. More so than usual it seemed, perhaps people still in holiday-revelry mode, smirking at us as they passed, two women chatting tipsily outside a bar over a couple of cigarettes. It's a sight that will only grow more common as the week stretches into the weekend, now only a novelty, until it gradually becomes a fixture on city's cultural topography.

And you know, what? It wasn't so bad, this smoking outside thing. I most certainly smoked less, and this morning my hair and clothing didn't reek. I'm sure there will be times that I'll begrudge it, but so far, so not bad.

And as an added note--you know you're getting old when somebody asks you which of two countries they should plan on visiting first on their next trip to Europe, and your first concern isn't their fun, but their physical safety.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007: Not an Auspicious Start

L and I were talking to other day, and we both agree that for us, new years carry all sorts of symbolism--endings, beginnings, closed chapters, etc. So of course it freaks me out when, at this start of this new year, certain relationships seem in limbo and none of my attempts to smooth things out appear to be working. I spent January 1st attempting to maturely address issues that I may have inadvertently created among loved ones in 2006 and rather than being rewarded for my efforts with forgiveness, clarity, or reassurances, I instead get food poisoning. Or a stomach virus. Or pregnancy. Or some other affliction not at all cool. Whatever it is, not very enjoyable, most definitely f'ing up my '07 mojo. And I had such high hopes for the year.