Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Costumes. Yeah, I'm Going There

In case you have forgotten in light of current events that are of actual national importance, today is Halloween. And as every self-respecting Mean Girls fan knows, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it...right?


Let's be honest here. It's taking my every last ounce of willpower to have the general human decency not to make Hurricane Sandy jokes. Obviously, then, no "rules of girl world" - even if they are laid down by my favorite piece of modern cinema - are going to keep me from making fun of people for their slutty Halloween costumes. And with the ensembles I've seen floating around the interwebs lately, these jokes are pretty much writing themselves.

Merriam-Webster defines "costume" as an outfit worn to create the appearance characteristic of a particular period, person, place, or thing. That's it. An outfit that creates the appearance of something that is not you. Nowhere in the dictionary's definitions of "costume" do you find the phrase "an outfit worn to place women in as little or as suggestively-fashioned clothing as possible while remaining vaguely reminiscent of some sort of day laborer or mythical creature." Somewhere, this concept of costume was embedded into the minds of the costume manufacturers and the young women of America, and I'm here to say, it must stop. 

Recently, in my typical perusing of Facebook, I came across a pair of ladies dressed in bandeau bra tops, tutus the length of modest underwear, leg warmers, and fuzzy hats who were calling themselves "rainbow dinosaurs." I hate to break it to you, but you are not rainbow dinosaurs. You are naked. Similarly, wearing a Spandex dress with a sheriff's badge on it that is cut down to your navel and has a hemline that ends just as your femur begins does not make you a sheriff. It makes you a silly girl who remembered her badge but forgot her pants. How many times have you seen an actual cop do that? I'm betting pretty few times. 

You know who else you typically don't see dressing ultra-suggestively just because it's Halloween? Men. I would hardly consider myself a feminist (read: I took a gender studies class last spring solely because Sex and the City 2 was on the syllabus), but something seems a little fishy about this dichotomy. Granted, you will occasionally see guys whose Halloween costumes leave them shirtless, but that's generally because they're either gay, Halloweening with a heavy dose of irony, or entirely insufferable human beings. Female readers, if you, too, dress inappropriately for Halloween because you are insufferable human beings, by all means, keep on keepin' on. I do not care about you. Similarly, if you are some kind of hipster who's donning a scandalous costume this year ironically because that's what mainstream people do, you, too, have my full permission to continue doing whatever weird thing it is you do all day. 

In the millions of other cases seen in America every October, though, the slutty Halloween costumes have got to go. The peculiar thing about this phenomenon is the way in which it stretches to almost every corner of youngwomanhood. The girls who wear scandalous costumes are not simply the girls whose extra-curricular activities are similarly scandalous - they're also the girls who normally wear jeans and weather-appropriate, comfortable tops to go out on the weekends. Slutty costumes are seen as a Halloween standard to which all girls, slutty or otherwise, must aspire. This, my friends, makes no sense. For most of the continental United States, Halloween is perfectly timed for perennially awful weather. If you would normally dress warmly in the end of October - or, to cater specifically to 2012, if you would normally dress warmly in the pretty much nationwide dregs of a thousand-mile-wide Category 1 hurricane - there is no reason not to do the same on Halloween! If you want to be a hippie, wear bellbottoms and a sweater with a fringe vest. If you want to be a nurse, wear scrubs. It's really not difficult. 

If you're willing to sacrifice a bit of warmth for the sake of above-average effort for this particularly important/hyped night out, you can still do so without being downright inappropriate. Find yourself some ears and a polka-dotted red dress that you would wear and get a million compliments for in real life, and voila - you, scandal-free, cute person, are a perfectly lovely Minnie Mouse! As someone who hardly ever cares enough to go out on the weekends, I certainly understand the concept of putting a bit more pizzazz into your Halloween costume than you would for a normal Friday night. But as you're pulling your costume together, remember - cuter than usual does not have to mean dressing like a street walker. 

Unless your costume is actually intended to be "street walker." There's a lot of potential for both clever social commentary and endless LOLz going on with that idea. If you were planning on dressing as an actual prostitute for Halloween this year, consider your costume Domerberry-approved. 

But seriously, people. As this year's Halloween festivities start/end/let's-just-go-with-"happen"-because-I-have-no-idea-when-Halloweekend-was-or-is-supposed-to-be, let's all try to keep our Halloween costumes slutwear-free. If nothing I've said yet has convinced you, I'll address one final point. Most costume companies call scandalous women's costumes "sassy." The only thing sassy about a polyester/Lycra-blend minidress is the shamelessness with which it pretends to be anything but cheap. If you want a sassy costume, dress up as Mitt Romney's binders full of women. Or, if you want to get really sassy this Halloween? Just dress up as me. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Domerberry Album Review: Red

Well, friends, the time we should all have seen coming is finally here. TSwizzle (that's Taylor Swift, for the idiots among us) has released her fourth album, Red. When it comes to my tastes in entertainment, I am unabashedly a 13-year-old who merely masquerades as a college honors student. Given those facts and my blogospheric duty as an arbiter of all things cultural, I present to you the first-ever Domerberry Album Review. Because honestly, what else could I possibly do?

Since I'm not an actual music critic, I'm going to review based solely on my whims. If I have nothing to say about a song, I'll ignore it! That said, I'm going to begin by skipping straight to the title track, "Red." How to phrase my feelings on this song? Hm...I'm obsessed with it. TSwiz has been driving that new Maserati straight through my mind, without ceasing, for about three days now. As an English major, I can't help but love a song that gives such a great lesson on figurative language. Since pretty much every single line takes the form "doing X is like Y," this song will come in quite handy should I ever need to teach a group of fifth graders what simile means.

The next song on the album that screams for me to address is, of course, "I Knew You Were Trouble." Let's get this on the table right now: it is completely unacceptable, in every way, for Taylor Swift to produce a song that even remotely qualifies as dubstep. Obviously, then, I love this song. It's so entirely wrong, and yet somehow, it manages to be so right. Every time that miniature beat drops after "lying on the co-old hard ground," I'll admit it, I rock out a little bit. In all seriousness, though, Skrillex hurts my ears, so keep on bringin' the dubstep lite, pop stars of America!

Then there's the one-two punch of "22" and "I Almost Do" (thanks for setting up that sweet rhyme, TayTay). 22 is obviously about to become the party anthem to end all party anthems for the next 6-36 months. I am already planning the clever Facebook status I will make out of these lyrics for my twenty-second birthday, and I still have 5 more months until I even turn 21. Hataz gonna hate. "I Almost Do." Hi. Story of my actual life, as well as the lives of every single person who will buy this album, and the lives of 80% of the people of Earth who don't buy this album. "I bet it never ever occurred to you that I can't say hello to you and risk another goodbye"? I'm not even sure I have anyone to whom that applies and it still brings me half to tears. GOSH, TAYLOR, STOP UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN YOUTH SO WELL.

"We Are Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Getting Back Together." Yeah, the inevitable has happened and I have embraced my love of this song. Whatever.

Clearly, Taylor works well when she is repeating words, because the next discussion-worthy song on this album is "Stay Stay Stay." This is the cutest song Barney theme. It almost makes me physically ill. The most laughably meaningless lyric on this entire album is this number's "I just really like hanging out with you all the time." Oh, really? Deep, Taylor. But then she says, "It's been occurring to me that I'd like to hang out with you for my whole life," and my heart melts all over the floor, because, it's like, she gets me, you know?

And finally, there are the last three songs. First, we have "Everything Has Changed," the duet with quirky British ginger Ed Sheeran. While I admit I don't know a ton about him, it seems that Ed Sheeran is exactly the type of gentleman whom I plan on meeting and eventually marrying while in London next semester (assuming my plans to break up Will & Kate fall through), so I'm automatically a fan of this song. Also, while I think it's healthy for her as a human that she's finally started to write things somewhat beyond the emotional level of a high school freshman on this album, I ultimately like TSwiz best when she is cutesy and in love. This song feeds into my desire for cutesy Taylor love songs 100% and, if it weren't so freaking low (seriously, are you a bass, TayTay?), I would literally be singing it at every waking moment of this week.

My only issue with the next track, "Starlight," is its inspiration. Am I the only one who finds it a little creepy that she wrote a song about the love story of her boyfriend's grandma, with whom she is openly obsessed? I don't think I am. If we ignore that uncomfortable reality, though, this song is among my favorites on the album. Also, replace Bobby Kennedy with six awesome Jesus camp counselors and this song magically becomes about Break Week - just in case we ever need an anthem that isn't "Some Nights."

TSwiz finishes strong on Red with "Begin Again." It is everything you want in a Taylor Swift song all rolled into one. It's catchy (just try to tell me that "little kii-iid" line isn't stuck in your head; if you do, you are lying). It has sass about an ex-boyfriend. It has lovey-dovey talk about a new boyfriend. It is, essentially, perfect.

Overall, like every other person on this campus, I am entirely bewitched by Red. Though it's a little heavy on the "I miss this person I dated recently" themes to fit my life quite as specifically as I like my TSwiz to do, I can sympathize. After all, if Jake Gyllenhaal was my boyfriend and that stopped happening, I think I'd write an album (or twelve) of sad songs about it, too. TayTay In Love and Having Fun appears plenty on this album, as well, and the songs are just awesome enough to make me forget the creepy fact that she's writing them about a high school senior. Red passes the Domerberry standards test with flying colors. Loving this album is red. Burning red.

(P.S. This is my 69th post. LOL. See above, "I am secretly 13 years old" and I have no shame about it.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Exciting Fall Break Life

Ahh, fall break. The options for how I could spend my time are limitless. I could do service in Appalachia! I could learn about life issues in DC! I could pray in Montreal! I could travel to some exciting foreign land starting with an I, like Ireland or Italy or Israel (yes, I have friends in all of those I places right now)! I could go to Logansport!

Spoiler alert: I did that last one!

The way I see it, I'm going abroad next semester, so I can make up for my completely uninteresting breaks thus far in my college career during those four months. For now, though, it's Logansport or bust, and let me tell you - things are thrilling. To keep you all entertained, I thought I'd break down my fascinating life on a day by day basis.

On Monday, I didn't leave my house. Heck, I never even put on shoes! Did I brush my hair? I don't know. I don't care! I read an entire novel about angry, scary freedom fighters. I read a terribly depressing article about military funerals. After briefly stumbling out of my bed at 6:30 for the chocolate chip pancakes my mother had made, I went back to sleep and didn't wake up until noon -  because my strenuous fall break life requires a lot of rest, you know?

Tuesday was a red-letter day. I left my house!! Now, don't get me wrong; I still slept until well past the time when I would normally be in class. But big steps were made. I went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch, thus experiencing 50% of Logansport's dining culture in under one hour. In the afternoon, I stopped by my old high school and took pictures at dress rehearsal for the evening's choir concert. I even helped the remarkably dim-witted youth of my community realize their full potential as practitioners of (almost) foolproof step-touch dance moves. Later that evening, I returned to the high school for October's big event: the Fall Choral Preview. I stole the auditorium's best seats for my own use as semi-official photographer of the LHS Choirs (guys I have a DSLR, I'm clearly a professional, it's fine) and settled in. I saw 12-year-olds dressed like they were going to the club, listened in on all the juiciest Ltown gossip, and watched my heart melt all over the floor when the middle school choir danced. Eventually, we came to my favorite part of the program - the show choir. [Note @ Brian, Augie, Tim, Paul, etc:...costumes?!] For this show, the Swing Choir did four numbers. Two of them were originally performed - and perfected, if I may say so myself - by the 2008 LHS Swing Choir. So when "Another Op'nin'" and "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine" came up, I perched on the edge of my seat, snapping pictures and quietly doing the choreography to myself. This was clearly the highest point of both my fall break and the Tuesday nights of all the confused parents of middle school kids whose games of Angry Birds I had interrupted with my enthusiasm. Following the concert, I came home, sidled up to a packet of Sour Punch Straws (thanks, speech team candy sales) and tuned in to the presidential debate.

I briefly considered dedicating a whole post to that three-ring circus, but I then remembered that the goal of my blog is not actually to bore people to death. That said, I will make the following statements: if you live-tweet the presidential debate, your sole purpose should be to entertain. (See @poniewozik. Hilarious.) Point out stupid-looking people in the audience. Tweet your general musings on debate structures. Please, please stop with your political rants. I assure you that no one cares. Oh, and if you were ranting in favor of the candidate I do not support and I am still following you on Twitter, you should know that I keep you around primarily for my own amusement.

Then came Wednesday - another big day. I finished the full Logansport Dining Tour on Wednesday with lunch at El Arriero, which is, to my knowledge, still pronounced by most of our fine citizenry as "El Uh-RAHR-ee-oh's." I ventured into the brave new world that is Family Video before 9 PM to find the obscure, early-90s John Travolta movie I needed for American Film. To my delight, they had exactly one copy in stock (and it wasn't even on VHS! which I half expected!), proving that Logansport is good for things after all. I watched my terrible Travolta film, read some scholarship on African feminism (have I mentioned that break is exciting?), and hunkered down in my house through the week's thirty-fifth gale-force windstorm. To give you some context on this, an earlier storm blew a branch through the previously blemish-free screen on my bedroom window and blew a bench cushion from our front porch to the middle of our backyard. Then there was Wednesday night, when I watched two episodes of NCIS and fell asleep at 10. I am beginning to think I may be somewhat narcoleptic.

Today was, like, actually exciting, seeing as I did what all Logansport residents do for fun - go to Indianapolis. I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I am living the high life, people. I bought red pants today! I explored the almost completed renovations at the Fashion Mall and got to experience the ultimate first-world problem: is it possible to choke to death on the sawdust inhaled en route from Anthropologie to Madewell? Oh, and I ended my day with Sycamore ice cream at my grandmother's house, so sarcasm aside, Sycamore, glittery new clothing, red pants (red!!) was a good day.

Oh, and finally, I must throw out one shameless plug. Currently, I'm sitting in my dad's office at the high school eavesdropping on rehearsal for the upcoming LHS production of Oklahoma!. My sister is starring in it alongside her onetime boyfriend. (The kids assure me this is not awkward. I do not understand the youngfolk these days.) The production hits the McHale PAC stage on Friday, November 16, and I will be going. But I simply refuse to go alone. This, my dear readers, is where you come in. My Notre Dame friends have been begging to see into the mysterious world that is Logansport, Indiana, since practically day one of freshman year - and, I mean, I can't blame you. This is your chance! I'll be coming home to Ltown on that Friday night to see the show, heading to town just long enough to see the show and get back to campus with plenty of time for social gatherings. My car can fit up to four people who aren't me, and I would love to fill those seats with you! Come with me! (And you'll be in a world of pure imagination!) It'll be great! Woo hoo!

But seriously, let me know if you want to come. So fun. We can listen to "Some Nights" for the whole hour and a half from ND to my house.

So that's my exciting fall break life. It is...exciting. I don't really have anything clever to wrap this up with, so I will see you all back on campus very soon! Enjoy the rest of your break, everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Day That J Crew Built

This semester, I have been given the lovely blessing of no-class Fridays. While this luxury means different things for different people, today's no-class Friday, in the life of Sarah Cahalan, meant spending the whole day in two places: South Dining Hall and J Crew. 

Now, you may see this and think, "Oh, she must mean she only left her dorm to go to two places all day." You would be wrong in such a thought. When I say I spent my day at J Crew and the dining hall, I mean that I went to the dining hall for lunch, went straight from there to the mall, and came straight back from the mall to the dining hall. This day began at about 12:45, and it ended pretty much just now when I returned from dinner seven hours later. 

How exactly does one spend seven hours in only two places? Well, for starters, you win dining hall. For those non-Notre Dame readers unfamiliar with our campus dining or those Notre Dame readers simply unfamiliar with the most extreme applications of campus dining, winning dining hall means that your group is the last one to leave the dining hall at the end of a meal time. Today, my friends, we won dining hall. Each Friday, a group of my coworkers from this summer eats lunch together at 12:30. I decided on a whim to attend today's Vision lunch, and boy, was this an excellent choice. The earliest among us - just to remind you - showed up at 12:30. The most dedicated diners of our group (including some who had been there from the very beginning) left at 3:00. Three. Two and a half hours in the dining hall. To fill all that time, we, of course, engaged in deep, edifying conversation. 

Note: By "edifying conversation," I mean that, after I made the mistake of bringing up Paul Ryan's workout photos, we talked for the entire lunch about the differences between "hot," "handsome," and "cute," and who among our friends falls into which category. Literally, this is all we did. (Just because we worked at Jesus camp, does not mean we are above "hot or not.") 

Following lunch, the ladies of our group headed over to good ol' University Park Mall for a bit of necessities shopping at J Crew. The concept was simple enough. Our exclusively-J-Crew-wearing friend needed a blazer and heels for her upcoming business boot camp. There was, of course, only one place to go to find them. Once there, however, the cardigans and the trousers and the tweed trapped us. Before we knew it, I had two shirts on hold at the register, and our resident J Crew Princess (known henceforth as JCP) had a dressing room full of clothes and a saleslady turned personal shopper. Our shopping third wheel and I sat on the couch outside the dressing rooms, giving opinions, offering to fetch different sizes, and generally being JCP's collective, female boyfriend. By the personal shopper's third attempt to find the proper size of the Cafe Capri, she knew all of our names, and we all referred to her cordially as Katie. We formed quite the lovely little shopping family. Eventually, as I perused the sparkly jewelry things that keep my simple mind entertained, Katie came up to our boyfriend couch and said, "Would you and Sarah like some waters? We have bottled water!" That's right, folks. We stayed at J Crew for so long that the employees gave us free bottled water. She half-joked that, had we stayed much longer, our next perk would be pretzels. 

After buying our new, offensively preppy clothes, it was basically time for dinner. JCP felt bad for making us sit in J Crew as her boyfriend all afternoon - because, after all, sitting in retail heaven for two hours while kindly salesKaties offer us complimentary refreshments is soooo miserable - so she treated us to froyo, before we headed back to...the dining hall. Again. 

My entire life today was South Dining Hall --> J Crew --> South Dining Hall, and I must say...I'm not ashamed. I spent over three hours in the DH. I got free bottled water as a gift for working so hard at shopping. I earned a compliment from a J Crew employee over my own, not-even-sold-to-me-in-the-store outfit. I got free froyo. I learned all of the differences between smokeshows, pretty girls, and beautiful people. I may have done nothing productive for society all day long, but it was a productive day. J Crew 4eva.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's October Third

Friends. Readers. Cool Asians and burnouts, desperate wannabes and unfriendly black hotties (because so many of those read my blog), sexually active band geeks, Plastics, and yes, even you home-schooled jungle freaks (I'm lookin' at you, Renee), today is October 3rd. And as we all know,

If, for some strange reason, you do not understand this reference, you should first be aware that you and I are not and have never been friends. Secondly and more importantly, you must immediately minimize this post and go watch Mean Girls, because it will change your life forever. 

In honor of today's famous date, I felt it was, like, the rules of feminism to dedicate a post to Mean Girls, also known as The Best Movie of the Twenty-First Century and Also Possibly of All Time

You see, for me and the millions of other American teenage girls - and guys - who grew up under the spell of Cady, Regina, Janis, and Aaron, Mean Girls is more than just a movie. It is the cultural lifeblood that has shaped us, made fun of us, and provided us with a larger quote arsenal than any other cultural product ever has or ever will. (For, after all, when it comes to how many times in a day you can quote Mean Girls, the limit does not exist.) It introduced us to the brilliant mind of Tina Fey, and it gave us that one last burst of Lindsay Lohan greatness before she moved to Indiana... dropped out of school, cut off all her hair, got totally weird, and now I guess is on crack...lost her mind. It didn't teach us how to be mean, because, trust me, we knew that already. It taught us to look critically at our meanness, showed us the consequences of cattiness (namely, that mean girls will get hit by buses, which is true like 90% of the time), and encouraged us to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It taught us a tiny little bit about limits that we all felt was vaguely familiar when we later learned it in calculus class. It taught us that on Wednesdays, we wear pink - which, for the record, you better have all done today. I did. And most importantly, it taught us that if we have sex, we will get pregnant and die. This, too, is true 90% of the time; just ask Notre Dame and/or Mitt Romney. 

That said, I would like to present you all with the best underrated Mean Girls characters. Everyone knows that Karen has ESPN or something. Everyone knows that Damian is almost too gay to function. Everyone knows that one time, Regina George punched me in the face, and it was awesome. But what about the other members of the North Shore family? Characters who aren't Plastics, Cady, Janis, or Damian need love too, and here it is. 

First, Kevin Gnapoor. There is not a word this kid says in the whole movie that's anything short of side-splitting comic genius. There is, of course, his brilliantly vulgar rap, topped off with the wholesomely hilarious "happy holidays!" There's his repeated assertion that he only dates women of color ("You Puerto Rican?" "Lebanese." "I feel that"). There's his classic piece of advice, "Don't let the hataz stop you from doin' yo thang." And finally, lest you forget, he is the speaker of one of the best lines in the entire film, practically thrown away following Mr. Duvall's question as to whether Ms. Norbury ever tried to sell students marijuana or ecstasy tablets: "What are marijuana tablets?" Let's not kid around. If I were to marry a character from this movie, it would, without a doubt, be Kevin G. 

Secondly, the character whom the script merely calls Michigan girl. "We have a new student joining us. She just moved here all the way from Africa." "Welcome!" "I'm from Michigan." 

Next up, Cady's mom. Amy Poehler may be the movie's cool mom (right, Regina?), but Ana Gasteyer is casually the funniest. "That is the fertility vase of the Ndebele tribe! Does that mean anything to you?" It should be noted that, within the first week of my African lit class this semester, the actual Ndebele tribe was mentioned with 100% seriousness. I know this, because I took one and only one note on the Ndebele that day: "That is the fertility vase of the Ndebele tribe!"

Joan the secretary. This woman spends the whole movie sitting back and being awesome. She gets the wonderful line, "The girls...they've gone wild!" and, in two of my favorite moments of the whole film, sheepishly raises her hand to answer both "who here has ever been called a slut" and "who here has felt personally victimized by Regina George." Joan is incredible. 

And finally, Mr. Duvall. Mr. Duvall holds the dubious honor of uttering my favorite line from the entire film, which is, of course, "Aw hell no, I did not leave the South Side for this!" This gem of a principal also introduces the character who would clearly be my favorite if he ever actually appeared in the film: Mr. Duvall's nephew Anfernee. "I know how mad he gets when I call him Anthony. Almost as mad as I get when I think about the fact that my sister named him Anfernee." 

So, folks, enjoy the rest of October 3rd. I hope all your Aaron Samuelses asked you what day it was today, and I hope that, in two weeks, you'll speak again. May you always be important enough for a page in the Burn Book and skinny enough to shop at 1-3-5. If not? 

You could try Sears.