“Star Wars and the Power of Costume” at the EMP

It’s been over six years since I last donned a Halloween costume. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’ve gotten too old for that kind of thing. Or maybe it’s because I’m just too lazy these days to put that much thought into an outfit.

Or maybe it’s because I’m sure will never, ever be able to top this sexy, scruffy, scoundrel-chic masterpiece of a Halloween ensemble from 2009:

Dan Solo
“Dan Solo.” (Settle down, people. I’m married.)

When I was in Seattle last spring, I had a chance to take in the “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibition at the EMP. The show featured an exciting array of original costumes from across the Star Wars saga, along with some memorable wardrobe pieces from a few other fantasy-cinema classics. It was awesome.

Of course I was totally geeking out in the presence of these iconic costumes – outfits actually worn on-screen by the likes of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader. I mean, you could practically smell Chewbacca’s enchanting Wookiee musk. And what a thrill to meet the dark, helmeted gaze of Boba Fett as he stares you down like the Empire’s put a price on your head.

Boba Fett
Indulging my “Fettish”

So naturally, I took a lot of pictures, the highlights of which I’m now happy to share with you here (and please forgive my sub-par phone photography). Hopefully they’ll give you a sense of just how sweet this exhibit was, and help you appreciate what incredible works of art these costumes really are.

And who knows, maybe this post will inspire me to up my Star Wars costume game for Halloweens to come.

Happy Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you.

Sand people
Tusken Raiders (aka “Sand People”)

A good outfit for choir practice.

 

TIE pilot
TIE fighter pilot

There are clubs in New York where this look would totally work.

 

Uniforms
Imperial officer uniform, Luke’s X-Wing flight suit

Apparently those Empire guys were giants.

 

Stormtrooper
Stormtrooper

“Look, sir. Tourists!”

 

Leia bounty
Leia’s bounty hunter disguise

“Someone who wants to have your son even though he’ll grow up into an angsty, obsessive emo-guy who will abandon his Jedi training for a path to the Dark Side, fall in with the evil First Order regime, wreak bloody havoc across the galaxy, and eventually murder you in cold bloo … I mean, someone who loves you.”

 

Leia slave
Leia’s slave bikini

I feel like this one would eventually transition from “costume” to regular beach wear.

 

Chewy
Chewbacca

I could just quit manscaping. No costume needed.

 

Solo
Han Solo

Dan or the mannequin: Who wore it better? (Answer: Harrison Ford. Always.)

 

R2-D2
R2-D2 (not sure why C-3PO’s cropped out)

OMG. Totally the droid I was looking for.

 

Dan Vader
Darth Vader (really wish this one had come out better)

I’ve got mad Force-choke skills.

 

And here are some highlights from the other films featured in the exhibit.

Ghostbusters:

Proton Pack
Proton pack and ghost trap

The Princess Bride:

Princess Bride
Inigo, Buttercup, Westley
Six fingers
Count Rugen’s glove

I do not have six fingers on my left hand. I do, however, have two belly buttons. (Childhood surgery. Long story.)

 

The Wizard of Oz:

Witch
Wicked Witch of the West’s hat

On loan from Christine O’Donnell.

 

Oz
Witch Guard, Cowardly Lion

Again, I feel like I could pull off the Lion look with minimal costuming.

 

And finally, Labyrinth:

Jareth
Jareth

RIP David Bowie.

 

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Donuts of New York: Starting Fresh

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“I used to be a sailor. I worked the pastry deck on the USS Michael Vale. Life could get pretty stale after a month at sea, and it was hard not to grow a bit salty out there. But I got to travel the world, and there was nothing like a warm dip in the Java Sea to make it all worthwhile. And we did have our fair share of excitement: One day there was a man overboard, and someone mistook me for a life ring and tossed me in after him. We all had a hearty laugh after that. Oh, and you see these spots? Let’s just call them my ‘souvenir’ from a wild night with a bagel I met during Fleet Week. Anyway, I eventually grew tired of that lonely, dough-madic way of life, so once I was back in the city, I re-ordered myself to stay. And it was for the best by then. My shipmates had started taking bites out of me. They thought it would prevent scurvy.”

– Lemon Poppyseed, Dough Doughnuts, Flatiron.

Damn, Internet: Reclaiming the Name Daniel

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I generally try to avoid the Nonsense Internet and its way of infecting our mind grapes with meaningless viral inanity. Frankly, I’ve got better things to do online. (Also, I was totally right about the color of that dress.)

But last week, a startling headline appeared in my Twitter feed announcing that an inexplicable meme sensation had FREAKING DEMOLISHED my first name. No warning. No hope of revival. No remains. The name Daniel was over.

The culprit was a video called “Damn Daniel,” and if you’re of the mind that life is just too damn long, you can click here to check it out.

Now, it’s one thing to let some viral nonsense slowly melt my brain into pink porridge. But to allow this merciless wrecking ball of a meme to swing away at my poor, defenseless name – a noble appellation shared with he who faced down the lions in their den, who commanded American discourse with his soaring oratory, whose mighty family dynasty once ruled all of Hollywood? Too far, kids. TOO FAR.

So I decided to strike back and reclaim my good name the only way I know how: with a storm of brilliant parody tweets.

For your convenience, I’ve compiled all these tweets into one tidy blog post, and I now invite you, as a special Leap Day treat, to revel for a few moments in my mad, meme-crushing wit:

Me: “How does one block a river?”
The internet: “Dam, Daniel.”

Me: “What’s the name of that famous canned lunch meat?”
The internet: “Spam, Daniel.”

Me: “How does one politely address an older woman?”
The internet: “Ma’am, Daniel”

Me: “What would you call David Bowie’s signature style circa 1972?”
The internet: “Glam, Daniel.”

Me: “What was the greatest Brit-pop duo of the 1980s?”
The Internet: “Wham! Daniel.”

Me: “What should I do when I haven’t studied for tomorrow’s test?”
The Internet: “Cram, Daniel.”

Me: “What’s the deal with all that money the Prince of Nigeria promised me?”
The internet: “Scam, Daniel.”

Me: “Remind me, which is my least favorite of all edible tubers?”
The internet: “Yam, Daniel.”

Me: “What should I use to stroll my baby around this London park?”
The internet: “Pram, Daniel.”

Me: “How can I see the world from the top of a mountain if I’m too lazy to climb it?”
The internet: “Tram, Daniel.”

Me: “If I ever decide to storm castle gate, what would be the best tool for the job?”
The internet: “Ram, Daniel.”

Me: “What was the most memorable one-word catchphrase of late-90s celebrity chefdom?”
The internet: “Bam! Daniel.”

Me: “If Jim Halpert married a can of cooking spray, which one would it be?”
The internet: “PAM, Daniel.”

Me:”What would you call me after the overwrought performance I gave in my fifth grade Christmas pageant?”
The internet: “Ham, Daniel.”

Me: “What’s the best way for me to showcase my highly performative poetry?”
The internet: “Slam, Daniel.”

Me: “What was once defined as ‘the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to the cube of the hundredth part of a meter, and at the temperature of melting ice’?”
The internet: “Gram, Daniel.”

Me: “What should I do when I’ve taken out one of my rivals with a trident to the heart?”
The internet: “Lam, Daniel.”

Me: “What’s that one type of rock band I really don’t care for?”
The internet: “Jam, Daniel.”

Me: “How would you describe my professed heterosexuality circa 1998?”
The Internet: “Sham, Daniel.”

Me: “I could go on with these for days, but should I?”
The internet: “Scram, Daniel.”

Damn, Daniel. You just just got DANNED.

My President’s Day Nightmare

Washington's_Inauguration
“I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States. Except, of course, in the last quarter of my term.” – George Washington, 1789 (image credit)

Apropos of absolutely nothing but the fact that today is President’s Day, I was reminded earlier that it’s time for my annual perusal of Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

During this year’s reading – again, for reasons entirely unrelated to any events that might have transpired over the weekend – a couple of clauses really grabbed me:

Section 1: [The President of the United States] shall hold his office during the term of four years …

Section 2: … and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … judges of the Supreme Court …

Straightforward enough, right? The president gets to be president for four years at a time, and it’s the president’s job to appoint new Supreme Court justices. Two simple but all-important mandates from the majestic scroll that governs this great republic.

But why did these clauses, in particular, stand out to me?

Well, I kinda lied about it having nothing to do the events of this past weekend. You see, despite my usual aversion to hard drugs, it seems that on Saturday evening I slipped into a feverish crack dream in which a sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court drove America insane.

In this dream, a pack of crazed, power-hungry horror clowns shrieked at the prospect of the sitting president nominating a new justice. He should wait, they snarled between gnaws of each other’s flesh-stripped clown bones, for one of them to take his place so they could fill the vacancy with their Dark Lord Pennywise.

Meanwhile, Senator Jowly McChickenjowls tried to convince America that Article II was little more than a flight of whimsy dreamed up in a sappy Aaron Sorkin drama. He claimed that executive power goes limp after three years, and vowed the Senate wouldn’t advise and consent to the president’s Netflix queue, let alone any judicial nominee he had the stones to field in an election year.

The argument went that only a mad, ruthless tyrant would seek to fill a high court vacancy before the people (no, not those people – some other people) had had their say. These opponents claimed that doing so would shatter a precious American tradition that had stood for millennia, and swore on the holy shrine of their sainted Spirit Father that the exact same transgression definitely hadn’t occurred 28 years earlier.

For his part, the tweedy Constitution-nerd of a president stubbornly refused to heed these concerns, ignoring, as usual, those who only asked that he relinquish all power, admit his election(s) had been a freak accident of history, and hurl himself into the fiery abyss. Instead, always the lame-ass stickler, he promptly announced his intent to keep on doing president stuff and comply with his Article II, Section 2 directive.

At this, the Senate’s Meathead Caucus – while confessing that none of them had ever actually gazed upon the Sacred Parchment (but promising they would totally get to it at some point) – howled that this outrageous power grab was SOOOOO not cool, and threatened to run President Poindexter’s court-packing shorts up the filibuster flagpole.

Yes, they were ready to risk a republic-torching constitutional crisis just to show that goody-goody buzzkill in the White House what’s what. Because patriotism.

Now it’s Monday, and what a relief that I’ve awoken to sweet, serene reality. No cynical hacks selectively voiding Article II clauses. No nakedly partisan attempts to diminish the president’s effective tenure. No IDGAF denial of the chief executive’s right to nominate Supreme Court justices. Because that’s the kind of insanity that can only be conjured in the fog of a psychedelic night terror.

Thankfully, we exist in a world where responsible Constitutional Conservatives are running the show – righteous guardians who would never subvert a single clause of our cherished founding document, or ever dream of shirking their own constitutional obligations.

So, reassured in the knowledge that Article II of the Constitution still stands, and that the unbridled fuckery of a constitutional showdown isn’t upon us, it’s time for me to go online for the first time since Saturday morning and see what news, if any, may have broken over the weekend.

Happy President’s Day.

 

 

 

Perfect for Valentines of All Ages: “Worm Loves Worm”

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Hey you. Yes, YOU. The sorry so-and-so who’s forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day and is now scrambling to find a last-minute present for your boo.

Why don’t you skip the tacky bodega carnations and dusty CVS chocolates this year, and go with a gift that really means something? Why don’t you head on down to your neighborhood bookshop and pick up a copy of Worm Loves Worm?

This book, written by J.J. Austrian, and illustrated by this guy, is a thoughtful, poignant, adorable celebration of love in all its wormy splendor. Its simple, cheery illustrations and sweet, inclusive message have won the book heaps of praise, including a spot on The Advocate’s “21 LGBT Picture Books Every Kid Should Read” list, and today’s great write-up in the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

J. J. Austrian and Mike ­Curato’s “Worm Loves Worm” … brilliantly explores the idea of love between two beings, regardless of gender (or species) and despite societal pressures.

Curato’s spare but sure silhouetted images and Austrian’s straightforward text are a perfect match to deliver the simple story of two characters who just want to declare their love and commit to each other.

And of course, the story of Worm holds tremendous personal significance for Mike and me, which my hubby explains with touching eloquence in his own writing about its release:

Throughout our lifetimes, each of us will be criticized for something that we cannot change (in other words: for being yourself). During those times, it’s paramount to remember what is most important in your life. For me, love is what is most important. Some people see the love that I have for Dan as being “different.” I beg to differ. In Worm Loves Worm, no matter the opinions and criticisms of others, Worm and Worm hold fast to what is most important to them: each other.

Sure, a few angry wormophobes have been upset by this book. For them, its depiction of G-rated affection between sexless garden-dwellers, and the image of spritely cartoon insects throwing their friends a party, crosses a line. (The objections usually go something like: “I have no problem with the wormos personally, blah blah blah. I’m just worried that the wormos are trying to EAT MY BABIES.”)

But if Worm comes with any “agenda,” it’s nothing more sinister than the wish to offer a positive lesson in open-mindedness, acceptance, and love.

Though marketed as a children’s book, Worm Loves Worm is a story about eschewing rigid categorization. So, whether it’s for a dear little one, or a grownup sweetheart, this book’s heart-tugging, family-friendly message makes it the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for loves of all ages.

Now get out there and grab your Valentine a copy before this holiday is over!

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A Note to Bernie Fans Who Say They’ll Never Vote for Hillary

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Marching up Main Street in my hometown, Brattleboro, VT. (photo credit)

Dear fellow Bernie supporters:

Single-payer healthcare. Tuition-free college. A $15 minimum wage. A path to citizenship. Breaking up the big banks. Overturning Citizens United. Halting mass-incarceration and dismantling the prison-industrial complex. Rebuilding our infrastructure and revitalizing American industry. Getting aggressive on climate change.

These are just a few of the progressive g-spots worked so masterfully by Bernie Sanders. They’re what make him, for so many of us, an absolute dream of a presidential candidate. His message is a sweet serenade that gives us the deep-down quivers, pitching tender, irresistible woo to our idealistic hearts.

Bernie is our political soul mate. So why would we even think about giving it up for someone else?

Well, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s a shitnado of sheer, unmitigated lunacy swirling on the other side of the presidential race. This year’s slate of contenders for the Republican nomination is an unholy roster of unhinged, retrograde sociopaths ranging from “scary” to “HOLY FUCKING SHIT I’M MOVING TO A SURVIVAL BUNKER IN THE YUKON IF WE LET THIS MANIAC ANYWHERE NEAR THE NUCLEAR LAUNCH CODES.” That this election might very well send one of these mendacious Tea Party dunces to the White House is utterly horrifying. This nation – this world – simply can’t afford it.

And yet, my fellow Berners, an alarming number of you have sworn that, should she emerge as the Democratic nominee, you will refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. Indeed, there is polling that indicates 14% of Democrats would rather feed their children to rabid hyenas than cast a general-election ballot for Bernie’s top Democratic rival. And that’s scary, too.

To be clear, I’m a fervent Sanderista who’s as eager as anyone for a Bernie Revolution. And with our guy having fought Hillary to a draw in Iowa, and seemingly poised to walk away with New Hampshire tomorrow, I’m thrilled to see it may already be underway. I’ve been watching Bernie defy expectations for twenty-five years, and I know we can win this thing.

But if Bernie ultimately fails to secure the Democratic nomination, I’m going to vote for Hillary. Without hesitation.

Look. I get it. There are plenty of valid reasons to be wary of Clinton, Inc. Many of us were disgusted by the politics Hillary played against Obama in 2008. Many of us will never forgive her pro-Iraq War vote in 2002. And many of us are leery of all the cash she’s collected from her BFFs on Wall Street. And yes, next to Bernie – whose politics have been consistent for decades, and who proudly touts the socialist label despite its liabilities – Hillary comes across as one who would burn down Yellowstone if it would win her Ohio. So if her candidacy gives you pause, I totally understand.

And if, in the event of Hillary’s nomination, you just can’t bring yourself to support her – if you wanna tell Hillz to shove it, and teach Democratic elites a lesson in grassroots resolve – fine. I can’t ask you to defy the tug of your conscience.

But in heeding those conscientious whims, just remember that the resulting Republican administration will be one of climate-denying charlatans, will seek the immediate repeal of Obamacare, and will name something like seventeen justices to the Supreme Court.

And then consider: While the DNC is off learning its hard, four-year lesson, how many holy-shit warming thresholds will we cross? How many Americans will lose their health coverage and die for lack of care? And how long until Roe v. Wade goes the way of the Voting Rights Act?

The unbridled right-wing havoc we can expect when the Tea Party’s dimmest are running the West Wing seems an awfully steep price to pay just so you can flash an angry middle digit at Hillary. And you know who agrees with me? The B-man himself.

We all want Bernie to be our next president. But if the Democratic nomination isn’t in the cards for him, sticking it to HRC won’t do him any favors. Bernie will shift his support to Hillary, and will surely encourage us, his loyal followers, to back him up. Because he understands the unbelievably high stakes of this election. Because he knows that the alternative to a Democratic win is a piss-our-collective-pants disaster. Because he was right the other night when he said that even on their worst day, both he and Hillary are a hundred times better than any of the Republicans they might face.

In this election, Bernie Sanders stands as a totem for the unabashed liberal soul. Yet his politics don’t preclude him from supporting Hillary Clinton. If you’re a progressive who cannot, under any circumstances, bring yourself to do the same, so be it. But then you don’t get to claim Bernie as your political spirit animal.

Sincerely, your Bernie-buddy, Dan.

hillaryelliot
Hillary’s not all bad. She bought my husband’s book!

 

School’s Out Forever

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Big day for Little Bear, who’s been with me since kindergarten.

Hello, friends! Happy 2016, and welcome to the new, improved DANNED FOR LIFE! Let this serve as my inaugural post on dannedforlife.com (along with some highlights I’ve migrated from the old site), and even more excitingly, as my very first post as a college graduate!

That’s right, I’m DONE. School’s out FOREVER. After five-plus years of hard work, studying, and pitiful blog-neglect, I’ve finally earned that History degree I wouldn’t shut up about, and somehow managed to get the words “Magna Cum Laude” inscribed on my diploma. I know, right? All this, and I’m only in my mid-30s!

But don’t worry. I may be like a zillion times smarter now, but I won’t let it change me. I’ll still be that snarky, but soft-spoken know-it-all you’ve come to adore. And now, with all this free time on my hands, I expect you’ll be hearing quite a bit more from me. (That is, until I find a job. Which actually is my number-one priority right now, so … )

Stay tuned for what I promise will be a fresh, dazzling showcase of all the wit and wisdom bursting from this newly minted BA-brain of mine. You won’t be disappointed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Mike has a Mrs. Robinson outfit to try on for our role-play night innocently watching The Graduate on Netflix night.

Donuts of New York: Love at First Bite

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“We met while waiting for the G train one night. Blue said she dug my glaze. I told her she was berry sweet. It was a recipe for warm, gooey love. I asked if she wanted to get outta there and take a walk around the park. She said, ‘I can’t. I don’t have legs.’ Forty minutes later the G train rolled up, and by then, we knew we were baked for each other. That was a dozen years ago. Today we share a charming prewar pastry box on Kent Street, raising our own little batch of munchkins together. After all this time, we’ve managed to keep the dough-mance as fresh as ever.”

– Chocolate Cake and Blueberry Buttermilk, Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop, Greenpoint.

I Remember “Danny Boy”

I remember the piano in the patients’ lounge down the hall from Dad’s room.

I remember how I was aimlessly plunking the keys when an old man came in to play.

I remember when, two months earlier, Dad told me he didn’t have much time left.

I remember how he made a point of telling me that there was one particular song he wished to be remembered by.

I remember how he referred to it as my song.

I remember the curiosity of this moment, as he had never so much as hummed a bar of my song in my presence.

I remember how non-musically inclined he was.

I remember how he hardly ever called me “Dan.”

I remember how the news hollowed me with fear.

I remember the new He-Man figure he gave me when I was in the hospital eleven years earlier.

I remember how that piano was a cheering distraction from what was mounting down the hall.

I remember that I was just beginning to figure out how piano playing works.

I remember watching the old man start into a seasoned rendition of a song he knew from memory.

I remember leaving the room before he was done, but I don’t remember why.

I remember that twenty minutes later I was at the foot of Dad’s bed watching him give his last breath.

I remember Dad’s love of all things Irish.

I remember the old man’s pitch-perfect intro.

I remember the uncanny moment and the familiar emerald air.

I remember the gentle cadence.

I remember wondering if the old man had any idea who that song belonged to.

Wayne
Wayne Thies, March 18, 1945 – April 4, 1995

Little Elliot, Big New York Times Review

This Sunday, a glowing review of Little Elliot, Big City will appear in a little publication called THE NEW YORK TIMES! Here’s a snippet:

“The author-illustrator Mike Curato, making his picture book debut, beautifully renders the images in rich earth tones that are soft and smooth, calling to mind ‘The Sweetest Fig,’ by Chris Van Allsburg … “

So yeah, that was Mike being compared to one of his idols in the Sunday Times book reviewYou know, NBD. Be sure to read the rest here.

Seriously, though, what an honor for Mike. I know I keep saying it, but I am SO DAMN PROUD of him!

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“We’ve all been there.”

Update: We just found out that Little Elliot also made Amazon’s list of the 20 best children’s books of 2014! So much excitement here!