Sunday, March 31, 2013

happy easter!





Saturday, March 30, 2013

i want an easter egg!

Much fun was had at this morning's Easter Egg hunt.




Friday, March 29, 2013

a monster in paris

The beautiful computer animation of A Monster in Paris (Un monstre à Paris) brings to mind classic horror films like Murder in the Rue Morgue, Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Frankenstein. However, the animation style is more in line with recent offerings from Pixar and Dreamworks.

Raoul and Emile
The action begins with two unlikely friends, Emile (Jay Harrington) and Raoul (Adam Goldberg). Raoul, a delivery man, styles himself as a wacky inventor, harboring a crush on his childhood friend Lucille (Vanessa Paradis), a singer at the club L'Oiseau Rare (The Rare Bird). Emile loves his co-worker Maud (Madeline Zima), but is too shy to let her know.

One evening Emile joins Raoul while he is making a delivery at an actual mad scientist's house in the botanical gardens. Emile thinks they should just do the job and leave, but Raoul start snooping around and playing with the absent professor's potions. Despite the protestations of the scientist's pet monkey Charles, the two mix two bottles together and inadvertently create a monster - a gigantic flea - that begins to terrorize Paris.

The citizens of Paris, mostly goaded into fear by commissioner of police Maynott (Danny Huston), are running scared. But the flea is actually quite a gentle soul, and when Lucille discovers that he is not only not violent, but a wonderful singer and natural musician, she immediately makes him part of her cabaret act, and the two become the toast of Paris. Lucille names him "Francœur," ("honest heart"). But it doesn't take long before Lucille, Raoul, and Emile are trying desperately to protect Francœur from the suspicious and ambitious Maynott.

Lucille and Francœur on the town
Bob Balaban and Catherine O'Hara also provide voice work in this English-language version of the French animated film. A Monster in Paris was produced by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional, Nikita) and directed by Bibo Bergeron (The Road to El Dorado, Shark Tale). The film is rated PG for some mild action, with a running time of 87 minutes and an aspect ratio of 1.77:1. It is in color, and widescreen format. The animation and colors are sharp abd vivid and look great on a large-screen high-definition television. The sound and soundtrack both sound great,with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

Not only is A Monster in Paris wonderful to look at, but it is chock-full of great songs performed by Paradis and Sean Lennon (originally done by Paradis and French singer M in the French version). Set in 1910 Paris, fans of the City of Light will enjoy seeing the Basilica of Sacre Cœur under construction, the Eiffel Tower in the snow, as well as other beautifully rendered scenes of the city. A Monster in Paris is a fun film that the entire family will enjoy.
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Thursday, March 28, 2013


The lights started flickering around 10:25 pm. At first I thought it was just a bulb about to blow in my mother's bedroom, but then I noticed that the living room lights were sputtering as well. I called downstairs, to the doorman, and we both theorized that it might be the weather — it's been very windy the past few days.

But then one of the other building residents was talking in the background and the doorman said that they had figured it out 
— it was a transformer, and he'd call me back. A few moments later there was a muffled boom and then total blackness.

It's odd how quiet everything becomes when there is no light. No hum of electricity or machines. How used to it, to the white noise of electricity, we have become. Although I know that this will get fixed, I can't help but have an eerie feeling, as if I have suddenly found myself in the middle of a Stephen King short story 
— or maybe a novella. I'm reminded of another story, by Ray Bradbury, from The Illustrated Man (I think)*, when the machines take over. My iPhone is only half charged ...

My first instinct was to grab a flashlight and go investigate. I've seen enough horror movies to know that's not such a hot idea. Besides, it 's cold out 
— we're experiencing a cold snap here in Florida — and I don't fancy walking down four flights of stairs just to hear what I already know — the building's dark.

But until when? At least this happened late enough that we should all sleep through most of the blackout. The kid was already in bed. 
I was more concerned about my mom, who lately wants to sleep with a light on, but I gave her one of the bigger flashlights to brighten her room. Hopefully the lights will be restored before the batteries wear out.

So here I am typing, not sleepy, and thinking about the dark. There's a big bright full moon outside tonight. It's brighter out there, in the cold, than in here.

Addendum: It was a transformer, and the buildings power wasn't restored until 12:30 p.m. the next day. The kid had to spend a cold spring break afternoon amusing herself without electronics, just like Little House on the Prairie, and I had to throw out all the perishables in the fridge.

* Actually I was thinking of "There Will Come Soft Rains" from The Martian Chronicles
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

we found a new pizza place ...

It's got some very ba-da-bing decor, but the pizza and caesar salads were good.


I think it's a keeper.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

it really is all good, people

It's so easy for the internets to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow. She's an easy target. The actress puts herself out there, with her forays into becoming a foodie, a lifestyle guru, her just-asking-for it-named website goop, her occasional transitions from acting to singing. Her latest venture is a cookbook (her second) called It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great. It comes out next week, but it's already getting a lot of negative reactions because of its "water and air" diet. But that is a false impression.

Paltrow is putting together recipes that follow an anti-inflammatory diet, something that is in no way new, or simply the latest celebrity trend. Something that, with my recent loss of gallbladder and continuing tummy issues (IBS), I am only too familiar with. When one has to cut out, either short-term or long-term, a list of go-to foods that most folks eat on a daily basis in this country (anything fried, cheese, grains, tons of sugar) it can seem cruel and daunting, even un-American.

What's wrong with someone like Paltrow consulting a professional chef (Julia Turshen) and trying to come up with some not only edible, but good-tasting recipes? I haven't read the whole cookbook yet, but I'm eager to check it out. The few recipes that were excerpted in the recent issue of Self magazine seemed good to try (Banana "Ice Cream," Candy Bars, Turkey Meatballs), and hardly far out or weird.
Banana "Ice Cream" With Sweet-and-Salty Roasted Almonds 
This recipe has all the rich, creamy texture of ice cream with none of the dairy or sugar. The crunchy topping is a snap to put together and is so good. Serves 4. 
4 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup roasted almonds, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp maple syrup, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
Candy Bars 
The chocoholics in my house flipped for these—we can't get enough! Makes 18 bars. 
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (60% or higher cacao)
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil 
Turkey Meatballs 
No food is more comforting to me than spaghetti and meatballs. I switched to turkey meatballs to help clean up my diet. Serves 4 (makes 24 meatballs). 
10 small onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup arugula, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
8 fresh sage leaves
8 fresh basil leaves
Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary
1 lb ground turkey
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups Go-To Tomato Sauce* or store-bought spaghetti sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil 
*Check out Gwyneth's book for her Go-To Tomato Sauce recipe. (Recipes courtesy of It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen.)
It seems a sport still in this country to make fun of people for the food they eat or don't eat. Vegetarians and vegans are looked on with suspicion and scorn. I tried to cut out meat myself for a while, but have found that I become too depleted, tired, even weak without it. And beans, nuts, tofu, etc. are not suitable solutions for me. So I try to eat meat that is organic and local when I can. Fish that's not farmed. I've cut out a lot of processed food and most fried food and sugar, too. That doesn't mean I never try something sweet — but I don't drink soda anymore and I don't miss it. And as you can probably guess, I've also lost weight. Paltrow isn't even pushing her cookbook as a diet, but that's how most folks are taking it. And they seem angry, too.

We all eat way too much crap in this country. And then get belligerent if someone wants to limit the amount of crap we consume — Like Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban on gigantic-sized sodas in New York. Seriously, is your right to develop diabetes and lord knows what other health issues really that important to defend? Do you really need to drink 32 + ounces of anything at one sitting?

It's easy to complain about Bloomberg or Paltrow. Who are they to tell me what I should eat or drink? It's always easier to focus on the messenger rather than the message. But there's nothing wrong with the idea that the consumption of soda, a beverage that used to be viewed as a treat, and is now viewed as a go-to drink, should be reduced. Soda has absolutely no nutritional value. Junk foods, if you cut them out for a while, or at least reduce the frequency or amount of intake, will not only result in your losing weight (the other American obsession), but might actually improve your health.

From the few recipes I've seen so far, Paltrow is not trying to ruin her family's or anyone else's lives with her views on food. She still likes to drink wine and eat chocolate. But she suggests some easy substitutions for dairy — not eliminating it entirely, but cutting it down. Cheese is a hard one, I know. For a part-Italian girl it was a major go-to food for most of my life. But it is also hard to digest.

Will Paltrow or Bloomberg be able to change how most Americans eat? Of course not. But is that good? Sadly, not really. If only a cookbook like It's All Good or a suggested limit on soda consumption could spark some useful dialogue about what we eat and drink instead of scorn, or an opportunity to point fingers in derision at something different from the status quo.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

i don't know what to think about this

The Gothamist recently reported about a new performance piece at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), "The Maybe," featuring actress Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box. Not so much a glass coffin a la Snow White (although the comparisons are inevitable), than a glass vitrine or display case.

From The Gothamist

I'm not sure what to think about this. I am no stranger to performance art. Or putting a live person on display as art. I dabbled in performance while a student at Parsons School of Design in the eighties. I was a Fine Arts panting major, and the dean told me that he wouldn't "grade" performance (he didn't know how), so my portfolio senior year consisted mainly of performance-related drawings. It's many years later and people still don't know how to react to performance art. I have to admit that I even have some hesitations about this piece, because:

  • Tilda Swinton is a celebrity. It is undeniable that there is a gawk factor — the opportunity to see a famous person doing something in public — that is a huge component of this piece. But does that make it theater or art? 
  • Sleeping in a box presents Swinton more as object than person. So is it performance, which might engage the audience, or is it a more passive object-related art?
Tilda Swinton, "The Maybe," Serpentine Gallery, 1995

"The Maybe" sounded like a stronger piece when Swinton did it in 1995 at the Serpentine Gallery in London. There she was part of a larger show, on exhibit with other objects that had connections to famous folks, from Winston Churchill's cigar to The Duchess of Windsor's ice skates to a pen owned by Charles Dickens. The Independent published some interesting viewer observations:
"It's very funny and very moving, with a very strong feminist subtext. People have said Tilda Swinton is exploiting her celebrity to show off in a glass case — she is indeed using it, but this is definitely not hype. Every object in the show is the property of a celebrity, but they're dead and she's living: the whole idea is the potentiality contained in the objects and the potentiality contained in the living body of Tilda Swinton. This show is part of a continuing trend exploring the very nature of museums and displays; I find that very interesting. — Robert Hewison, Sunday Times critic"
At MoMa "The Maybe" sounds watered down. MoMA has stated:
"Tilda Swinton will be doing unannounced, random performance art pieces sleeping in a glass box in the museum ... the box may be in different locations at other performances. ... There is no published schedule for its appearance, no artist's statement released, no no museum statement beyond this brief context, no public profile or image issued. Those who find it chance upon it for themselves, live and in real—shared—time: now we see it, now we don't."
The fact that Swinton is not part of a larger exhibition at MoMA undercuts the potential power of this piece. Swinton's appearing at the museum is less art and more of a happening. People shouldn't be scolded for asking, "But is it art?" In this incarnation, that seems to be a very valid question indeed.
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

what's wrong with this picture?

We had lunch yesterday at a local drug store luncheonette. Yes, there are thankfully still some drug stores in the good ol' U.S. of A. that have lunch counters. It's a step back in time. We've learned not to order anything too fancy — just eggs or a burger, but it's a fun place to go to from time to time.

The tropical murals add a certain je ne sais quoi
After lunch we can peruse the shelves and do a little shopping if we like. The kid heads straight for the aisle that has toys in it of course, and today this caught my eye. Notice anything?

For Ages 3+  - Really?

Need a closer look?

That quite the outfit, nurse
What is the target audience for this doctor set? Is it just me? It says 3+, but the nurse looks more Benny Hill or '80s-era Madonna than what a little three year-old should be picturing during roleplay.

Nearby was a second, anime-style set which had artwork that was also a little weird, but at least seemed age-appropriate.

Aimed at a younger than 3+ audience?
Silly artwork, but pretty innocent

Oh well, the eggs were good.
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Saturday, March 23, 2013

bowling party

The kid attended one of her friend's birthday parties this afternoon at a local bowling alley. She doesn't remember, but she went to a similar party when she was about four. So we are considering this as the first time that she has really gone bowling. The party planner had blocked off the gutters in the lanes for the kids, but otherwise it was pretty regulation-sized play, bowling shoes and all. She bowled ten games and got two spares. In short, she had a blast.

"Strike" a pose
Setting up a shot
Two pins left!

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Friday, March 22, 2013

james dean loved race cars

Like fellow actor Paul Newman, Dean loved driving fast cars and hanging out at the race track. Unfortunately he didn't get to enjoy the past-time as long as Newman. But his enthusiasm comes out load and clear in this footage.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

happy birthday, gary oldman

Everyone loves Gary Oldman, right? Whether he is playing a super-villain or ... a super-villain. There are so many great Oldman roles to choose from — from some high-ticket features to little-known gems. There are even a few that are appropriate to watch with the kiddies. Here are some of my favorite Oldman movies.

Sid and Nancy (1986) — Oldman played the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious and made him both a caricature and human at the same time.

Nancy, "I hate my fuckin' life."
Sid, "This is just a rough patch. Things'll be much better when we get to America, I promise."
Nancy, "We're in America. We've been here a week. New York is in America, you fuck."

I have to admit that I found the much-lauded Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) a bit of a yawn (even with Benedict Cumberbatch), but there is no denying that Oldman's George Smiley is a brilliant performance.

The Harry Potter Series — Oldman brings both menace and poignancy to his role as Sirius Black. He also looks pretty darn cool in the beard and 'stache and longcoat.

1997's The Fifth Element is a love it or hate it movie for many. I love its crazy, over-the-top energy. Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Chris Tucker are all a lot of fun, but Oldman, as the villain Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (with very unusual taste in hairstyle and headwear) steals every scene he is in.

1983's Meantime, directed by Mike Leigh, may be hard to track down, but it is worth it. Set in Thatcher's 1980s Britain, it tells the story of a struggling family, most of them on the dole. It is really Tim Roth's film, but Oldman is memorable as the skinhead Coxy.

Francis Ford Coppola's stylized version of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) is probably Oldman's most well-known film. The actor pulls out all the stops and makes his Vlad Dracula evil and frightening as well as seductive and sexy.

"I have crossed oceans of time to find you."

Oldman plays crooked cop Stansfield who is after Mathilda (Natalie Portman), who is under the protection of hit-man Léon (Jean Reno), in Luc Besson's wonderful Léon: The Professional (1994).

Honorable mentions:

Oldman plays Carnegie, a post-apocalyptic Wild West-style outlaw who goes up against Denzel Washington (bad idea) in 2010's The Book of Eli.

1994's Immortal Beloved is full of music and romance, a wonderful Oldman as Ludwig van Beethoven, as the film chronicles his prodigious amount of lady-loves.

Oldman brings both delicacy and menace to his voice role as the evil (of course) peacock Shen in 2011's Kung Fu Panda 2.

Playing another corrupt cop, Oldman matches wits with gorgeous assassin Lena Olin in 1993's Romeo Is Bleeding.

Tony Scott's True Romance (1993, written by Quentin Tarantino) hosts a very eclectic cast of characters (Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer), but Oldman manages to stand out as pimp Drexl Spivey.

Time for another movie marathon?
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

film classic: the great race

I'm not sure how old I was when I first saw the classic 1965 Blake Edwards comedy The Great Race on television. But I do remember loving the silliness, the epic pie fight, and the amazing (19) costumes (designed by Edith Head) worn by Natalie Wood. One of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons when I was little was The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, a sort of feminist spin-off to The Wacky Racers. Penelope, getting into one dangerous situation after another, was far from a helpless female (despite her silent-movie cries of "Help! Help!" and always managed to triumph over her arch-enemy, The Hooded Claw (voiced by Paul Lynde), and look great while doing it. I may not have consciously made the connection until much later, with repeated viewings, but The Great Race was clearly an inspiration for both cartoons.
Professor Fate, "What's next?"
Max, "Car number five, the engine falls out!"
Professor Fate, "Car number five! Ha ha ha ha! ... Max ... we're number five."

Penelope Pitstop (top) and Maggie DuBois (Natalie Wood)
Director Edwards has acknowledged that The Great Race was also inspired by silent comedies, especially the slapstick featured in Laurel and Hardy (to whom Edwards dedicated the film). Edwards was riding high on the successes of The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark, and The Great Race had a huge budget — it cost $12 million to make, the most expensive comedy film for its day. Much of the budget went to securing its star cast — Jack Lemmon in a dual role, as the scheming Professor Fate and Prince Friedrich; Tony Curtis as the spotless, ever-clad-in-white hero The Great Leslie; and Natalie Wood as suffragette Maggie DuBois, as loose and funny as we would ever see her in movies.

The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) and Maggie DuBois sip champagne while stranded on an iceberg.
On a more recent viewing of The Great Race it also became abundantly clear that it was a comic source for many subsequent movies — especially for some of Mel Brooks's comedies, like Blazing Saddles and Space Balls. Edwards pulled out all the stops. Just about every film genre is showcased: a western segment, complete with saloon singer Dorothy Provine and a barroom brawl brings Blazing Saddles to mind. Other mini-parodies within the film include a romantic desert tent, a la The Sheik, as well as a climactic sword fight, that wouldn't be out of place in any Errol Flynn or 1940s swashbuckler, between Curtis and Ross Martin as Baron Rolfe von Stuppe. The amazing pie fight sequence has been replicated but never equaled, although Lemmon didn't count it as his favorite time on the set, "A pie hitting you in the face feels like a ton of cement."

Jack Lemmon as Prince Friedrich ("Haw haw haw!")

Cinema's greatest pie fight — watch for Max's (Peter Falk) entrance about halfway through.

An interesting behind-the-scenes tidbit — Tony Curtis was not the original choice for The Great Leslie. Edwards wanted Robert Wagner, but he and Wood had recently divorced, and she was still reeling from the impact. Wood was distraught throughout the shoot, and reportedly took too many sleeping pills after filming wrapped (she was fortunately awake enough to call a friend for help, who got her to a hospital), but her personal distress never shows for an instant on film. Charlton Heston (!) is also rumored to have been offered the part.

The Great Leslie, Maggie DuBois, and Professor Fate with The Leslie Special in Paris.
Max, "Red sky. Gonna be a storm."
Professor Fate, "What are you babbling about?"
Max, "Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning."
Professor Fate, "Why, you simple-headed gherkin, do you know the chances of a storm in this part of the world at this time of the year?"
Max, "No, what?"
Professor Fate, "Hundred to one." 
[Thunderclap — it begins to pour rain]
Curtis and Wood are winning romantic leads, but as usual, Jack Lemmon walks away with the film. He is brilliant, whether he is scolding his sidekick Max (Peter Falk) on another evil plan gone awry, or as the foppish, perpetually drunk Prince Friedrich — no one in the film is having as good a time as he is, except possibly the audience. Let Lemmon, Curtis and Wood take you on a wacky, laugh-filled journey — The Great Race is still as funny today as when it first premiered in 1965.


Zeitlin, David. "Greatest pie fight ever creates a horrendous SPLAAT!LIFE Jul 9, 1965. pp. 84–88.
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

lost in the supermarket (actually, the library)

I couldn't help but have the Clash's Lost in the Supermarket running through my head yesterday when my mother disappeared. She and my daughter and I were at our local library, returning some DVDs and looking for more (and books, too, of course).
I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality
We took the elevator from the third floor, which has all of the kids' books, music, and movies, to the second floor, which has all of the current DVDs and Blu-rays. The kid and I headed to the DVD racks, while my mom went to the rest room. I told her we'd meet her "over there," gesturing towards the movies. About 8-10 minutes later, with our arms full of a few treasures, the kid checked the restroom — but she wasn't there.
I wasn't born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in the suburbs
Over which I never could see

My mom has dementia. We go to the library together a lot, but we don't usually go together to the second floor — I usually just go on my own while she and the kid hang out up on the kids' floor. If mom has to use the restroom she usually uses the one on the first (main) floor and then we leave from there. I knew she couldn't have gone far, or left the library, but I can't say I wasn't worried. We looked all over the second floor, just to be sure she wasn't browsing and we missed her, and then headed to the first floor. No sign of mom. I stationed the kid on the first floor where she could see the elevator, and then headed back to the elevator to check all the floors. I asked the nice librarian on the kids' floor if she'd seen her, thinking she might have headed back there to find us, and she said no, but she'd keep an eye out. Floors four and two (and their bathrooms) didn't turn her up. Neither did looking out the window, down at my car parked n the street. I headed back down to the main floor. I was greeted by my daughter, smiling and nodding. Mom had come downstairs and was actually out in the lobby, waiting for us.
I heard the people who lived on the ceiling
Scream and fight most scarily
Hearing that noise was my first ever feeling
That's how it's been all around me
Is there a lesson here? A few, I think. Number one, for my own sanity, is not to drift away when she wants to do something, or to be more specific about where to meet in a future similar situation. Number two, maybe mom has more of an idea of how to operate the elevator and navigate the library (and the world) than I give her credit. I had pictured her, panicked on the elevator, not knowing what button to push. I'm always so "in charge" of where we go that she doesn't have to be. Maybe I need to let her try to do more. But I think that lesson number one will still help us all in the future, as this dementia roller coaster ride has its ups and downs, its hills and valleys.
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Monday, March 18, 2013

et tu, jeopardy?

The quiz show Jeopardy recently had as a clue:

Answer: Who is Taylor Swift. Seriously, Jeopardy? It's a little disappointing that a major network show, usually lauded for its clever contestants, would join the bandwagon and poke fun at Swift. We expect the internet to indulge in slut-shaming and finger-pointing, especially at celebrities, but Jeopardy?

Swift has been the focus of a lot of (mostly internet-derived) criticism lately because her songs, usually of the break-up variety, can be tied to a series of high-profile boyfriends (John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Lautner, Harry Styles, the Kennedy kid.) It's become a sport to not just poke fun, but to speculate who is who in which song. A celebrity lives their life mostly out in the open — especially these days. But who really cares if she dates a lot, or forms short-lived relationships, or is just a young girl having fun? People seem to be bothered not just by her access to the famous men, but that she may be using her love life as song fodder and dares to document her (repeatedly) broken heart when it all goes south. But isn't that what most of country music, and a whole lot of all genres of music is about, anyway?

Once upon a time, a few mistakes ago
I was in your sights, you got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me
I guess you didn't care, and I guess I liked that
And when I fell hard, you took a step back
Without me, without me, without me
And he's long gone when he's next to me
And I realize the blame is on me
'Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I'd never been
'Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
"I Knew You Were Trouble," Taylor Swift
Swift isn't the only female musician whose private life has been a target for jokes and outrage recently. Rihanna's relationship with Chris Brown has earned her lots of attention, the majority of it negative. There may be more cause for concern in this coupling, but like Swift, whomever Rihanna chooses to date (or forgive for past crimes) is really no one's business. It is interesting that the criticism surrounding Swift is centered equally on her love life and her music, whereas with Rihanna it's solely about her past with Brown — he beat her up, was arrested, they parted (maybe), and she has now definitely forgiven him as they are very much back together. I guess Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is not in her repertoire.

It smacks of sexism that these two young women are getting so much negative attention for their romantic couplings. The prudish judgmental tone many commenters take also seems to be tied to our current cultural climate. Attitudes about singers and their lovers were certainly different in the 1970s. Everyone is still trying to figure out the identity of the guy in the Carly Simon song "You're So Vain." Is it Warren Beatty? Mick Jagger? James Taylor? Does it really matter? It's still a great song. Why do we need to know? Carly wasn't slut-shamed for the fact that there were multiple male possibilities, so why is Taylor Swift?
You had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and...

You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't You? Don't You?
"You're So Vain," Carly Simon
The story of the sexual goings-on behind the making of one of the greatest rock albums, Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac, is still interesting, but no one ever slut-shamed Stevie Nicks as far as I know. She had relationships with bandmates Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood (and later, with Don Henley and Joe Walsh.) What has changed?

Loving you
Isn't the right thing to do
How can I
Ever change things that I feel?
If I could
Maybe I'd give you my world
How can I
When you won't take it from me?
You can go your own way!
"Go Your Own Way," Fleetwood Mac (witten by Lindsey Buckingham)
Certainly no one ever slut-shamed Mick Jagger, and who knows how many young starlets and lovelies have crossed his path, or how many times he wrote songs with Keith Richards about them? It's part of rock 'n roll, part of music. It's what artists do. Picasso made countless paintings of all of his lady-loves. I'm not comparing Taylor Swift or Rihanna or even Jagger to Picasso, but it's clear that these two ladies are getting different, more judgemental treatment.
Oooh we called it off again last night
But Oooh, this time I'm telling you, I'm telling you
We are never ever ever getting back together
We are never ever ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends talk
To my friends talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together
Like ever...
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," Taylor Swift

Swift's songs are exactly what they should be for a young woman her age. She's writing about love and loss and romance — the stuff all young women talk about with each other. So what's the problem? Could it be that people are bothered because Swift's star has risen so high, so quickly? Do we always have to set our idols up and then tear them down as quickly as possible? Swift may be  overly sensitive to some of the jokes done recently at her expense, but it's understandable. Enough already. Let a girl date. And talk about it, Or write a song about it. Or blog about it. Love is messy. Songs tell stories. And even young women need break-up anthems. With no judgements.
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