Category Archives: Weird

Summer fun in the…fog

One exciting thing about this summer is my friend Peter is back in town for a couple months before he goes to school in Calgary in the fall (which is actually pretty rude of him, because that is very far away, but WHATEVER I guess). Anyway, in the meantime, we decided to try to do some touristy things around the city this summer. We haven’t made it to the Reversing Falls Zip Line yet, and my Scents of Saint John tour is still in development (but seriously, it’s going to be an amazing look at the real Saint John when I save up enough to buy a bus), but we sure did go to the Saint John Psychic Fair!

PSYCHED for the psychic fair.

PSYCHED for the psychic fair.

OK, I guess technically this wasn’t exactly a touristy thing, but it is a thing that happens in our city every year that we have never considered actually attending. It always takes place in a medium crappy hotel, so we showed up on a Saturday afternoon prepared for things to get weird. And then we immediately got lost and walked by a mysterious place called the Hawaiian Room? But then we got back on track and found the psychics. Mostly they were creepy looking dudes and old women in sweat pants. There were maybe seven or eight of them sitting around the room, and you could go around to each one and pick up a brochure to find out what their deal was. Some of them used tarot cards, some communicated with the afterlife…mostly what we did was pick the one that appeared to have the lowest prices and the shortest wait list. Her name was Ginger Ella, and she did palm readings.

Peter went first, after Ginger Ella went out for what I can only assume was a smoke break. She told him he is an academic (true!) and he needs to be more social (probably also true!) and, I don’t know, a bunch of other junk. Enough about Peter, let’s talk about me! First of all, did you know I’ve had 20 past lives? It’s a true fact, because a psychic told me, it says so right on my hand. I’m pretty sure I’m getting close to enlightenment. I also learned I moved a lot as a child (true!), had a rough childhood (not true!), was a tomboy (not really accurate!), do not want to be financially dependant on a man (well, unless he’s like, REALLY wealthy or something), have good communication skills but need to be less abrupt (my mom agreed with this one – hey!) and will likely move a lot in my life (maybe!).

So do I believe in the power of psychics after my very first psychic fair experience? I mean, no, of course not. But it was still an entertaining and interesting experience, and I’m definitely glad we went after talking about it for basically months.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Cherry Brook Zoo with Peter and our friend Jazmine. First of all, you should probably know that this zoo is kind of the saddest zoo ever.

Not sure if this lion is depressed or lulling us into a false sense of security.

Not sure if this lion is depressed or lulling us into a false sense of security.

 

I hadn’t been there in eight years, but it turns out not much has changed. The animals still look lethargic and generally bummed out, and after visiting the zoo, you’ll probably feel a bit bummed out about the life choices that brought you to the point where going to the zoo seemed like a good idea.

This Shetland sheep made the worst noise I've ever heard.

This Shetland sheep made the worst noise I’ve ever heard.

But you know, we made the best of it. We made up narratives for the animals and picked our favourites. Jazmine liked the emu (who was totally up to no good!), Peter was into the guinea pigs (which were actually adorable and made me want a pet guinea pig) and I loved the snow leopard (who was a diva who was TOTALLY above it all).

The most disdainful snow leopard ever.

The most disdainful snow leopard ever.

It’s been a fun summer so far! Hopefully we’ll have more local adventures before it’s over.

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The Bling Ring and the American Dream

A few months before its release date, I became thoroughly obsessed with The Bling Ring. You already know about this movie, right? It’s Sofia Coppola’s latest film, based on an actual story about a group of teens living in Calabasas, Calif. who decided to rob the houses of nearby celebrities. It turned out this was incredibly easy, since for some reason famous people NEVER lock their doors or turn on an alarm.

I remember hearing about the story when it happened a few years ago, but at the time I didn’t really look into it any further than any of the other celebrity gossip I read about on a daily basis. It wasn’t until I saw this video a few months ago that I realized I needed to know literally everything about the bling ring or the burglar bunch or whatever you want to call this “gang.”

That, my friends, is Alexis Neiers. When I saw this perfect, perfect video, I needed more. So I watched her short-lived 2010 reality television show, Pretty Wild in its entirety (it’s only nine episodes, so this took me a total of one evening). The show is Pretty Terrible. It’s about wannabe model Alexis, her younger sister Gabby, and Alexis’s friend/fake adopted sister/also aspiring model Tess Taylor. They’re all living with mother/former model/generally insane person Andrea Arlington-Dunne, who is ACTUALLY Amy Poehler’s character from Mean Girls (she’s not like a regular mom, she’s a cool mom) and she home schools the girls using the teachings of The Secret. Seriously.

Just a totally normal family.

Just a totally normal family (Alexis, Gabby, Tess and Andrea).

The absolute only reason why Pretty Wild is interesting is because, in the very first episode, Alexis is arrested for her involvement with the bling ring. She was preeeetty much caught on a security camera robbing Orlando Bloom’s house along with a few of the main bling ring kids. Alexis says she was black out drunk and didn’t know what was happening; the guy who told on her, Nick Prugo, says she knew exactly what was up.

After I finished watching Pretty Wild, I of course had to read the article that spurred the insane series of phone messages in the above clip. Written by Nancy Jo Sales, it’s called The Suspects Wore Louboutins, and while I already knew that Alexis speaks like an entitled valley girl, some of her quotes in the article are FASCINATING in their lack of self-awareness. My personal favourite is this gem:

“I’m a firm believer in Karma,” she said, “and I think this situation was attracted into my life because it was supposed to be a huge learning lesson for me to grow and expand as a spiritual human being. I see myself being like an Angelina Jolie,” she said, “but even stronger, pushing even harder for the universe and for peace and for the health of our planet.” She was sounding almost like a real celebrity. “God didn’t give me these talents and looks to just sit around being a model or being famous. I want to lead a huge charity organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know.”

the-bling-ring-nancy-jo-sales

I STILL felt like I needed to know more, and the movie wasn’t coming out for another month. Fortunately, Sales recently expanded on her original article and turned it into a book, which I devoured in a couple of days. Most of it is based on interviews with Nick and Alexis, and those conversations are used to expand on the backgrounds of all the kids involved, including supposed ring leader Rachel Lee.

When Nick and Rachel first met, they bonded over a shared love of fashion and celebrities. They started out committing petty crimes – stealing things from unlocked cars, shoplifting, doing drugs. Stupid things that stupid teenagers do because – have you met teenagers? They’re pretty stupid. Then things escalated. Nick and Rachel used gossip sites to find out when celebs like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Audrina Patridge were out of town. They looked up their addresses, showed up at their homes and, for the most part, walked right in through unlocked doors. They brought their friends with them, including Diana Tamayo and Courtney Ames. In addition to stealing millions of dollars worth of clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry, drugs and straight up cash, they spent time hanging out in these houses, rifling through the possessions of these famous people, experiencing all the beautiful things they owned.

Rachel Lee and Nick Prugo, looking like super regular teens.

Rachel Lee and Nick Prugo, looking like super regular teens.

Obviously these crimes were completely wrong and inexcusable and, again, really, really stupid. But I think part of the reason the story is so captivating to me is because of how stupid the celebrities were, too. The bling ring members went back to Paris Hilton’s place close to 10 times – Paris had a key under her door mat, and at one point the kids took it with them; Paris had replaced it the next time they returned. She had no idea she had been robbed. Again, I realize that you cannot steal things from people, even when they have many, many things. But at the same time, there’s something absolutely fascinating about a theft where the victim has SO MUCH STUFF she doesn’t notice she’s been robbed multiple times.

This crime spree was about more than stealing things. If these kids just wanted to steal nice things, they could have committed much less high profile crimes. They were surrounded by rich people, but they didn’t target people who were rich; they targeted people who were rich and famous. And I can understand that, to some degree. For the most part, these kids were pretty well off, from reasonably affluent families, with parents who probably weren’t involved enough. Some of them had behavioural problems, or struggled at school. But there was this completely different lifestyle, a glamorous, beautiful world, and it wasn’t just in magazines or on TV, like it is for most of us. It was literally right around the corner.

There are probably still people who believe in the American Dream, or in some concept of it; the idea that you can be a good person who works hard your whole life, and you’ll be successful, you’ll be able to provide for yourself and your family. But mostly, that seems naive. Now, we’re cynical. Now we know that the economy can crash, maybe without warning, and maybe you’ll lose the things you worked for your whole life, even if you did the right things, even if you made the best choices you could.

And anyway, who wants to work hard their whole lives when there’s an easier option? Get on a reality show! Release a sex tape! Get plastic surgery! Have a baby! Marry someone famous! Get a divorce! Rinse and repeat! I’m not saying it’s actually easy to turn your entire life into some sort of brand; honestly it sounds horrendously unappealing to an introvert like me, but doesn’t it LOOK easy? If you look at someone like Paris Hilton or Audrina Patridge, it’s like, what are they actually famous for? Being rich? Being in the right place at the right time? If the kids in the bling ring had all the same stuff, if they hung out in all the same places, if they met all the same people, what was the difference between them and the celebrities they were obsessed with?

Oh, and I’m not saying the kids thought about all these things while they were committing the crimes. I’m just saying there’s a culture that created a kind of perfect storm. There’s a sense of blase entitlement that brought them together, that made them think it was OK to do the things that they did.

Emma Watson's California accent is EVERYTHING.

Emma Watson’s California accent is EVERYTHING.

The movie The Bling Ring finally came out on Friday, and I went to see it on opening night. I loved it just about as much as I thought I would. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of the story as described in Sales’ article. Diana isn’t portrayed in it, and the characters based on Alexis and Tess play a bigger role than they likely did in real life. This is a good thing, because Emma Watson plays the Alexis character, and she was completely perfect. What I really liked about it was that Coppola uses a really detached style, not really casting judgment on the kids, but portrayed them using their own language and their own actions. I thought the film did a really good job of showing how nothing’s real for them until it’s been documented, until it’s been photographed and posted to Facebook, and how those photographs are taken repeatedly, from different angles even when nothing is really happening, and curated to create an idea of a life and a person who might not even really exist.

People who see the film without knowing the story might find it too far fetched, too ridiculous to be believed. It would be easy to dismiss the whole thing as vapid and pointless, but I think the point of the film IS that it’s vapid and pointless. That’s our culture, these are the people kids look up to, the internal lives they lead, the way they interact online, the way they’re tantalized by an unattainable lifestyle that seems so incredibly attainable.

It's actually kind of weird that EVERYONE doesn't have self-portrait pillows.

It’s actually kind of weird that EVERYONE doesn’t have self-portrait pillows.

There were also a lot of weird elements going on behind the scenes of the film. For example, one of the detectives in the bling ring case, Brett Goodkin, was involved as a technical advisor and even had a brief cameo. The problem is that he didn’t have permission from his superiors, and the court cases against most of the bling ring members were still ongoing at the time. Another weird thing is that Paris Hilton, who’s said she thinks “it’s absolutely disgusting what they did,” allowed filming for the movie to take place inside her actual house! Yep, those are her actual pillows with her face on them.

I guess my thesis is that I think the entire story of the bling ring, along with the subsequent article, book and film say a lot about this current moment and our celebrity and youth culture. These are concepts that might seem silly and unimportant, but I think they are things that are worth paying attention to. And if you look at other films released this year, trends start to appear. Actually you should just read A.O. Scott’s article on the topic, because he says it much better than I can.

And don’t forget Alexis Neiers’ chilling words – she really might lead a country some day, for all we know.

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The sixth annual edition of Random Stuff I Googled in the Last Year

First of all, I survived two full days of skiing! My body is still in a lot of pain from skiing  but you know, I’m fine. We also ate a lot of great food and Quebec is a beautiful city, so it was an all around good weekend.

But now I have to talk about something VERY IMPORTANT. For six years, every April 1, I have posted a list of my top 20 weird Google searches from the last year. At this point I’m pretty sure they’re not even really that interesting to anyone but me, but this is pretty much my only tradition, so I’m obligated to keep it up. And hey, if anyone else wants to share weird stuff they’ve googled, I’d love to hear it. So here’s what I googled over the last year!

  1. ayahuasca pop culture references
  2. bronie drama
  3. chiksa
  4. do people still wear harem pants
  5. how do i know if i have ecoli
  6. how do you cook a chicken breast
  7. how to tell if you’re short of breath
  8. icp christianity
  9. i want to be a hilton – jackay
  10. jill hennessy zaxby’s
  11. log lady bolero
  12. otherkin restaurant
  13. problem with hyper awareness
  14. rabies water
  15. sad woman eating
  16. shelley duvall killer octopus
  17. student bodies dvd
  18. talking pineapple
  19. trixie belden honey lesbian
  20. what’s in the baby alive doll food

And in case you’d like to see how my crazy has evolved over the years, here are all of my previous lists, now compiled in one massive blog entry for the first time ever! If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that I’m mostly interested in juggalos, reality television, non-existent health problems and lesbians.

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