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Monthly Archives: June 2011

I first became aware of Treat Williams when he was on Everwood, a semi-weird family drama that came on after Seventh Heaven on the WB like 8 years ago. I liked the show — it had daddy drama, a boyfriend in a coma, and every episode was chock full of controversy — for example, a typical episode summary reads like this:

On the morning of his Juilliard audition in New York, Ephram makes plans to meet up with Madison for coffee, only to have his entire world come crashing down around him when she tells him that she was pregnant with their child.

Everwood didn’t make the cut of shows transferred to the CW, and the WB is now long gone, leaving behind only the eternal flame of their website (http://www.thewb.com/shows/full-episodes)

But Treat lives on…in Lifetime Original Movies. After Everwood, Treat starred in The Staircase Murders, based on the true story of a novelist whose weapon of choice was…

the Lifetime murderin’ staircase.

I haven’t actually seen the film, but Mr. Max sent me an urgent text with a link to this unbelievable interview/promo. Watch Treat provide an Inside The Actors Studio-style interview (Choice Pretentious Quote: “Our story is really examining how that film-within-a-film…”) in between INSANELY CAMPY movie clips.

It won’t let me embed the video, but trust me, this link is definitely worth following.

http://www.videosurf.com/video/the-staircase-murders-the-film-within-the-film-1235608904

I’d watch the movie, but I don’t think it could top that.

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Although I am not a Graphic Designer, I do have something of a passing interest in the field. Lately that interest has developed into a mild obsession with the endless variety — and thematic commonalities — of pizza box design.

In my grand plan to make this blog even more unfocused, I will be adding my — well, critique is probably too strong a word — analysis of the world of pizza box design.

Exhibit A:

This comforting specimen was picked up in New York and unfortunately contained what I would describe as “Massachusetts Pizza.” Massachusetts Pizza is basically bread and cheese — thick, doughy, and lacking in the crustiness of a NY slice. An epicurian bummer.

Nevertheless, this is prime example of traditional pizza box design. It’s a capsule of days gone by — days when pizza places had arcade-style racing games, when designs were printed in one ink color, and when it was ok to have mildly racist cartoon depictions of Italian people on promotional materials.

Of course, it also has THE classic element of old school pizza box design: a generic product claim. In this case it’s “Hot & Delicious Pizza…MADE JUST FOR YOU.” Although the two cartoon gents in the back seem pretty jolly, the sinister look on the center cook’s face combined with the mysterious ellipsis (…) make the tagline seem somewhat…threatening. What could possibly follow the …?   “MADE JUST FOR YOU…THE BASTARD WHO HAS BEEN SLEEPING WITH MY WIFE”?

On the other hand, the presence of a jovial little carafe adorably labeled “Olive Oil” in the bottom left makes it pretty unlikely that anything nefarious is happening — other than the usual exploitation of ethnic minorities for marketing purposes.

Rating: Win. There’s a lot to look at and it reminds me favorably of good pizza. Fail because the pizza wasn’t that good. Win for marketing!

Exhibit B:

With a salute to what I’m assuming is a 60’s minimalist design aesthetic, this swingin’ box keeps it simple and bold with lots of geometry. A weirdly-proportioned wheat plant in front of trapezoid provides additional visual interest on the left side.

Rating: Win. I’m guessing this is something a design firm in the 80’s came up with to “modernize” the old Luigi/Mario pizza boxes of yore. And now, 30 years later, it’s taking its place among all the outdated designs it was designed to replace. There’s something poetic in that.

Even though we normally sleep a bit later on the weekends, some things are just worth getting out of bed for.

Case in point: Mr. Max rightfully woke me up on Saturday to catch The Party Never Stops: Diary of a Binge Drinker, a Lifetime movie about the dangers of college binge drinking.

The trailer sums of the hysteria pretty well:

Sara Paxton stars as Jesse, a college freshman who bears a striking resemblance to a Bratz doll.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Jesse’s neurotic mom is played by Nancy Travis, who regular Lifetime viewers will recognize as the neurotic mom from The Pregnancy Pact.

Just looking at her makes me worry that I forgot to send a card on Mother’s Day.

The first kid in the family to attend college, Jesse is excited to experience all that dorm life has to offer. When Jesse doesn’t return phone calls or texts within the hour, neurotic mom concludes that her daughter must be engaged in life-ruining depravity.

And boy is she right. Jesse joins up with a crowd of partyin’ college girls and starts hitting the jello shots —  hard. Soon she’s waking up next to random dudes, failing her classes, and blowing the big track tryout.

Yes, neurotic mothers, it’s exactly as you suspected: constant phone calls, emails, texts, and surprise visits are the only things that stand between your child and a life of risky casual sex, substance abuse, and academic failure!

Jesse  tries to change her evil ways but is lured by her friends to a debaucherous spring break trip to San Diego. In full-on drunk girl mode, Jesse stumbles around the beach and joins a group of girls in flashing a video crew.

Naturally, the video goes viral and Jesse has to fess up to neurotic mom. This leads to the best line of dialogue in the movie, and possibly all movies:

Jesse: I’m sorry!

Neurotic mom: Sorry can’t make it unhappen!

Neurotic mom vows to step up her monitoring (promising that she will pull Jesse out of school if she doesn’t answer her cell immediately) and — lo and behold — the approach is a smashing success. Scared straight, Jesse puts down the bottle and starts spending her weekends on mom-approved activities like studying, running track, and sharing lattes with her generic new straight-edge boyfriend.

While Jesse turns over a new leaf, best pal and drinking buddy Shanna  continues to wake up in random frat houses on campus.

Shanna falls victim to the old after school special plot device: alcohol poisoning.

Candles are lit in the quad and a bunch of the extras from the earlier bar scenes stand around looking sad. The film ends with a voiceover where Jesse muses over the lesson she’s learned. It could have been me, she ponders. Fade to black.

Message: Only a comprehensive, technologically advanced parental monitoring plan can prevent college boozing and the resultant PUBLIC INDECENT EXPOSURE THAT WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE FOREVER. Also, the tragic death of a friend can prove significant in that it provides an opportunity for personal growth.

Getting ready for work a few weeks ago, I reached for my trusty “good” pair of pants and a clean shirt and noticed that both were well past the condition acceptable for donation to the Salvation Army. I rifled through my closet and discovered that everything inside was in a similar state, and that a disturbing number of sweatshirts had made it into my work outfit rotation.

A trip to the mall was in order. I would locate a good pair of work pants and buy it in a few different colors, then find a couple of basic shirts and be home in time for supper.

Or so I thought. After trying on 15 seemingly ordinary outfits in succession, each one more unflattering than the last, I started to lose hope. Everything was either too tight, or so big that it pooled at my feet, or (somehow) both. The apparent simplicity of the task only served to increase my frustration: I wasn’t searching for a wedding dress or the perfect evening gown, just sensible, normal basics – what the hell was the problem?

I soldiered on to the next store, focused on acquiring a much-needed pair of basic  black pants.

An hour later, dozens of pairs of pants littered the floor of the dressing room. Mr. Max looked over with concern as I trudged out silently and back again, lugging a second enormous pile of pants in every possible size and style. Despite my best efforts, not one was decent enough to wear in public.

Reason and logic had failed me, so I returned to the task with a new game plan: wild, irrational flailing. Remembering that the style-challenged contestants on What Not To Wear often have an initial distaste for flattering clothing, I purposefully chose things I hated: Twee little dresses, capri pants, office lady blouses.

I learned the following lessons:

1)      Everything from the “petites” section looks like stuff that Angela from The Office would wear. It doesn’t fit, either.

2)      Ruffly little girl dresses make women of average height and weight over the age of 25 look like drag queens.

3)      If you are not tall, you are fucked.

I was deep in the throes of a full-on Department Store Meltdown, the body dysmorphia/total insanity that results from a horrible shopping trip. The mall was closing, so I had no choice but to return to the car empty- handed. I needed dinner, a nap, and some time to think.

It doesn’t make any sense, I thought bitterly. I don’t actually care about how I dress and, besides, I used to have a ton of clothes!

Of course, I wasn’t exactly “dressing for success” back then.

Eventually the meltdown subsided and I regained my senses: I am not deformed or insane. It is not my fault that tapered jeans are now back in style, or that stores only carry even sizes, or that women’s clothing sizes make no sense anyway, or that you can’t get a goddamned normal black pair of pants anywhere anymore. Buying clothes is pretty much a traumatic experience for everyone.

Epilogue: I returned to a cheap clothing store later in the week with Mr. Max and managed to find some decent stuff. I’m still cynical about the whole affair, but at least now I can be cynical in something besides a stained sweatshirt.