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Showing posts from November, 2012

Reader Questions: Camera Makeup For Near-Albinos

Julie writes:

If I wanted to make up a pale face like mine so that it looked good being photographed, and by "looked good" I meant "had features that didn't all blend together, but don't look like the headshots place at the mall," what would you suggest? I'm thinking photographed outside in natural light, without a flash.

Oh god, the dreaded mall photography studio. Those people are like the school photographers, except more dangerous, because they also have a makeup kit. They like to spackle you half to death, on the erroneous assumption that more makeup = more glamorous!

There are a few different ways to do camera makeup if you're very pale. If all you want is to show up properly on Skype without looking like you're really wearing makeup, your best bet is probably to apply eyeshadow, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, and lip color in a scheme called 'nude'. This is a terrible name for it, frankly; like 'nude' bras and 'nude' p…
To all y'all who have asked me "how do I put on makeup?": I cannot answer you unless you give me some idea of what you want to look like. "I want to look pretty," is NOT a helpful answer. Information on what you look like now, what your budget is, and how much trouble you are willing to go to in order to apply the stuff is also helpful, but I can literally give you nothing unless you tell me what your end goal is.

You are effectively looking for lessons in how to paint. Manet and Jackson Polluck were both painters; getting "Olympia" out of pigments and canvas is a hell of a lot different than getting "No. 5".

Your best bet is to find a picture of someone whose makeup you like and link me to it. Then I can tell you how to do that particular thing. Otherwise I'm helpless.
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There's a photo I've been staring at, off and on, for about the past week, trying to work out if I could put my thoughts about it into words, and whether it would do anyone any good if I tried. After much writing and deleting and writing and deleting and writing and deleting with extreme prejudice, I think my point is:

If ever there were an example of how we do the human race a grave disservice by using the very concept of intimacy solely as a euphemism for sex, it is these two.

I have no idea where this picture was taken. It's a candid shot; the flat lighting suggests an unbounced flash, and the depth of field is not quite sufficient to get everything in focus at the same time. No pro would have done that intentionally -- and if it happened accidentally, the image would have been trashed with anything else that didn't quite work at the proofs stage.

I don't know what prompted the gesture. They could be acting, I suppose, but they're comedians. When they faff a…
Whenever I start writing up a profile on someone, I always end up going through things like fan blogs and message boards to find links to their material. And sooner or later, I always run into someone who thinks it is fun to start a conversation with, "If you could ask [celebrity] one question, what would it be?"

It might surprise you to learn that I very rarely have a question that I'm dying to ask anybody. The few that do accumulate are universally either too stupid for words or very very nosy, except for the ones that are both stupid and nosy. The problem is that all of the really good, useful answers belong to questions that I don't know enough to ask. In real life, when something happens to bring a specific question to mind, I handle it by just asking point-blank for what I want to know; sometimes people are flustered or embarrassed, or flat out lie to me, but even the fact that they feel the need to lie about something gives me a lot of information. With the ce…
Sometimes I wonder if other people can even see the subtitles I keep getting on conversations.

One of the recent eps of NMTB was hosted by Richard Ayoade, whom you might recognize from the Boosh stuffs and also The IT Crowd. He has a positively superhuman deadpan, resistant to almost anything thrown his way -- although if you watch the gag reels for The IT Crowd, on the rare occasion that he does crack, Ayoade can't quit laughing and usually wrecks a dozen takes in a row.

This episode is uniquely hilarious for the complete lack of jokes from the host. Even if you didn't know they'd worked together before, it's easy to tell that Fielding at least knows of Ayoade; he starts hiding behind his coffee mug and trying not to die laughing before anything's even really happened.

Given whatever brief context you've picked up here from my babbling, what might the following exchange lead you to guess about Ayoade? My observations below.




It's that time of year again, where if I have nothing especially pressing to do, I will seriously spend the better part of two days asleep, rather than shuffle around contemplating my life. I did manage to get up once, when I rolled over and saw all three rats cantilevered out over the front of their cage, stepping on each other and nose-staring at me, sincerely concerned over whether I was well enough to come re-fill their food bowl.

Being alone during the holidays is rather easier in Boston than it was in Arizona. Out there, there was pretty much nothing to do but sit at home and stare at a wall, or whatever dreck was on TV. Here, I can decide to go out for dinner and a movie -- everything's open, on account of 400,000 Jewish people had the same bright idea I did, and another 400,000 immigrants from non-Christian parts of the world see no reason to close up shop. (In some sort of karmic compensation scheme, half of the city shuts down for the 4th of July instead.) And of cou…
I am surprised and somewhat bemused to discover that I am in fact wrong about having to be completely hosed before Luxury Comedy is hilarious. It's total gibberish unless your brain's working. Mog and I ran the first episode while we were lolling around legless and then I said 'sod it, back to Live At Brixton', which I happen to think is shiny meta comedy gold in any state of mind.

I attempted the thing again sober, and it works much, much better. It's not actually completely incoherent, although it's damned close if you can't recall the extremely loose excuse for a plot across the thoroughly random interstitial segments. It's very Python-esque, in that something from the beginning usually comes back to bite you by the end. And it reminds me oddly of things like a show I used to watch as a very very small child, Zoobilee Zoo, which had the same strange air of live-action cartoon-ish-ness. It's like some kind of sweet little musical play, except inst…

Reader Questions: Lipstick & Blush

Anonymous writes:

Thanks for this! I have zero sense for what makeup colors look good on me, so even though I would like to occasionally don lipstick to brighten up my very pale face, I haven't found one that doesn't make me feel clownish. I've tried visiting makeup counters at department stores, and they have been surprisingly unhelpful - they seem to expect you to already know what you want. I've had a couple of makeup counter salespeople try to help me pick a color, but everything looked garish on me. Suggestions?

and Irene writes:

Lipstick (in some traditional shade, of course, not blue or anything) as rouge -- yes or no? My mother used to recommend it, and it seems like the obvious way to get the cheeks to not clash with the lips, but I always fear that it's a classic newbie error. (I wear makeup roughly once every six months to a year -- usually lipstick and mascara.)

Anonymous, you should wear any lipstick you thinks makes you look nice. A lot of sales peop…

Reader Questions: Eye Makeup For Persons The Color Of Typing Paper

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Julie writes:

Okay, here's a dorky one. I'm a pale person -- like you, I turn blue under spotlights. My eyes are pale, my hair is kind of light. So that's the background.

I often don't bother with makeup because, way too much work. But when I do want to bother with it, I want to emphasize my eyes and have found no good way to do it that doesn't end with me looking like a raccoon. The whole "black liner all the way around the eye" is way too much, but everything else I've tried is not enough. Help? 

And OtherBecky writes:

How do the various types of liners work? I've never been able to figure out eyeliner, and I really don't get lipliner either. (Is lipliner still a thing?)

There's nothing actually wrong with black liner all around your eyes, but unless you really feel like rocking the Bill Kaulitz/Taylor Momsen look, you'll look like you hate it, and hating what you're wearing pretty much automatically makes you look like you shouldn…

Weekend Radio Theater

The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - "The Paradol Chamber"

The Adventures of Sam Spade - "The Dry Martini Caper"

Box 13 - "diamond In The Sky"
Captain Awkward's guest blogger Cliff Pervocracy has written another extremely sensible column about how pretty is totally optional. Cliff and other commenters have totally nailed the actual discussion, but I've noticed that more than one person asking "How do other women DO that?" sort of in passing, and expressing the feeling that they somehow inadvertently missed like an entire semester of girl class or something, because everyone else seems to know what's going on and they don't.

If you're getting this impression from glancing at "beauty" mags and not being able to comprehend a damn thing they say, don't sweat it. Their "style" and "makeup" tutorials are written by idiots. Aside from being prescriptivist in a social sense and often bafflingly fucking wrong in a psychological, historical, and aesthetic-theory-and-arts sense, their target audience is invariably assumed to already know what's going on. Not one of the…

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Hello, various other estadounidenses! As many of you even outside the US may know, today is Thanksgiving, an American holiday where we, the descendants of European settlers, celebrate the fact that the natives were generally better human beings than we were back in the 17th century, and refused to let the colonists starve no matter how stupidly unprepared for winter they all were. I know there are still many political and cultural problems with the traditional iconography, but I would like to think that all of us, regardless of where we come from and what has happened in the past, can appreciate a day dedicated to making three times as much food as anyone could possibly eat, and then lying around digesting for the next forty-eight to seventy-two hours. I have yet to see a society in which feast days do not occur, so I feel safe in saying that pretty much everyone on the planet as at least this tiny bit of common ground.

I do not attend family functions because of Reasons, and I haven&…
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Another one of the comedians who keeps popping up in the shows I watch is Sean Lock. He's been on QI rather a lot; he's obstreperous on that show, very blunt, and likes to point out tiny logical flaws in arguments while ignoring the fundamentally absurd premise. He alternately tangles with and aids and abets David Mitchell, who is more than happy to duel with someone equally stubborn and sarcastic.

You'd expect his stand-up to be fairly angry, and there is a good amount of recreational outrage, but overall Lock is actually surprisingly Carlin-esque -- he mostly wants to either bang his head on the wall over the behavior of humanity, or just turn to them and inquire, "So, these words that keep coming out of your mouth... you ever think about what they actually mean, or is that a bit beyond your capabilities?" And if it turns out you're just stupid, that's all right, he'll just amble along and point out how ludicrous you are in tiny words you can unders…

People who should be creepy, but aren't

Reading true crime blogs gets depressing after a while, so let's have some good news about humans, shall we?

I would love to like Russell Brand. Really. I can't quite make myself an unabashed fan of his; how entertaining I find him depends a lot on who is babysitting him at the time, and sometimes even when he's performing with someone who's good at channeling his randomness, I wince. I don't mind all of the off-color material -- the first time I saw him perform was years ago when he was emcee for the MTV VMAs and I thought the crack about the Jonas Brothers and promise rings was funny, although I suspect it would have been funnier for a different audience, who understood that the proper way to respond to that would have been to take the mic and assure everyone the only way Brand would have ever gotten a ring from anyone was by mugging -- but he has real trouble accurately judging how outrageous he can be before people get angry with him. He just doesn't notice…
[Some more pleasant things for Moggie, who is drowning under the weight of some chemistry exams and a list of car repairs right now. THIS IS STILL YOUR FAULT MOGGIE. ALL OF IT.]

One thing I find particularly interesting about being able to read body language -- consciously, most people can do it as a sort of blind instinct -- is watching people who are seriously weird interact successfully with people who aren't. Some of the gestures and expressions we make seem to be innate, but a lot more of them are determined by our cultural background. There's an infinity of potential variant dialects of non-verbal communication, and if you happen to have developed an especially strange one, adjusting for mutual intelligibility can be a challenge. It can make your life pretty difficult if your movements say one thing to you and mean a totally different thing to the people around you, as the autistic spectrum people know all too well.

But every once in a while, someone with a really odd ki…

The rare female creeper!

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When creepiness is discussed here in the mud wrestling grudge match that is the internet, sooner or later someone always whines that it's always men accused of being scary creeps, and that's sexist. Although, culturally, the behaviors that are characteristic of creepiness are associated mostly with men and social notions of masculinity, it's entirely possible for women to get into the act, and occasionally one does.

One of the recent episodes of Never Mind The Buzzcocks featured as a panelist an Italian woman inexplicably named Nancy. I don't have any idea who she is or why exactly she's there, but I gather that her two main claims to fame are dancing on some competition show and sleeping around. Not that both of these aren't perfectly good hobbies -- it just happens that I don't follow the kind of TV programs that feature either of them, and so am not familiar with her work. She wound up on Fielding's side of the stage, along with some kid who is evide…
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Jimmy Carr, another frequent flyer on QI, is flagrantly NSFW in his stand-up work. Often also NMS. It is quite deliberate, and very staged; he's not anywhere near as bad off-the-cuff on panel shows, even the ones that go out after watershed, and he does make the point explicit in a few routines, like the one where he systematically investigates the Most Offensive Joke In The World.

Carr's a bit much for me all at once like that, but where I find him hilarious is as the host/emcee/babysitter on the Big Fat Quiz of the Year shows. I swear the bookings crew invite some of these people just to see Carr's blood pressure go up. They keep asking Wossy on, who argues semantics like the cheerful nerd that he is, and David Walliams, whose main goal in life is to force things to proceed in a sensible manner. Then they team Noel Fielding with either Russell Brand or Richard Ayoade, which means there's always at least one table that has absolutely no interest in engaging in any kin…

Weekend Radio Theater

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The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - "In Flanders Fields"

The Adventures of Sam Spade - "The Mad Scientist Caper"

Box 13 - "Damsel In Distress"

And to add a little Weekend YouTube Theater this week, have some more Noel Fielding:



This is quite possibly the most hilariously demented panto I have ever seen. The beginning is a bit slow, but necessary; Fielding and Barratt do their best work when they have established a context which they can then be taken out of.
I did promise seawallglen that I'd keep staring at Noel Fielding until I worked out how he reconciled all the inhibited body language with his proclivity for going out in public looking like a happy madman. I think I've got it.

The reason I found all this notable in the first place is that all of the quietness and keeping his hands tucked in and all that is indicative of someone who is keeping stuff penned up until they're sure it's okay to let it out. Generally, it's a sign that someone is afraid of something that will happen if they speak up. It's unusual -- to put it mildly -- to see it from someone who's otherwise making no apparent effort to blend in with anything. (I mean this literally. If you haven't seen the mirrorball suit, it's quite a thing to behold.) The inside of Fielding's head is indubitably wicked weird, but I gather it's always looked like that in there, and he's quite at home with it. It doesn't appear to be a rem…
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I forget, from time to time, that most of my readers are still in the US and have no idea who the hell a lot of these Brits are, that I keep talking about. This sounds like an excellent reason to queue up a load of entries with embedded video, which I can knock out all in one evening and then not feel guilty about having to leave the blog alone while I go do professionally-attractive-person things this weekend.

One of the ones I know I've name-checked recently is Simon Amstell. Amstell was the last regular host of Never Mind The Buzzcocks before they gave up and started inviting a new guest host every week. This one's a pretty good sample. Amstell is quite pointy as an emcee and has a tendency to badger people for purposes of comedy. Someone does occasionally volley back and strike a direct hit, as Mel C does there. He takes it pretty well, usually pretend-slinking back to his hosting chair in shame while trying, unsuccessfully, not to laugh.

Prior to that, Amstell hosted a sh…
Captain Awkward recently linked again to the infamous discussion on creepiness that basically the entire internet read back in August. Her answer is awesome and anyone who hasn't seen it ought to; the discussion section below, however, is somewhat uneven. The good Captain evidently had to send a lot of comments to the spam pile, because they were from idiots or rageaholics or mansplainers who couldn't spell to save their lives, and a lot of what did get through is fogged with a great deal of pop-psych and social justice vocabulary. It's well-meaning, but there are parts that could have used a lot less technical philosophy and a lot more swearing in majuscules, in my own humble opinion.

One of the things that wasn't covered terribly well, probably because it would have been taken as encouragement by the crowds in the spam pile, was how and why a lot of women are reduced to just saying, "because," when the creepy fuckers try to manipulate their victims by askin…