Monday, September 19, 2011

the emmys

I didn't anticipate writing anything about the emmys this year, because I usually try to save my sartorial wit exclusively for awards season (and snarky comments on the street). But the people have asked, (well, one person) and I have answered! So, one person who reads this post, I hope you enjoy -- and now all the rest of you know how little prodding it takes for me to make fun of the carefully culled wardrobe displays of celebrities.

One of my favorite moments of the night was when the best actress in a comedy nominees were announced and they, one-by-one, walked up on the stage in the style of Miss America contestants -- holding hands, wiping away tears, grinning broadly. Seeing these six incredibly talented, funny, and powerful women on stage was such a strangely touching moment for me, and the way that they surrounded Melissa McCarthy once her name was announced, looks of genuine happiness on each face, topped it off so well. Later in the show, McCarthy and Amy Poehler were presenting the award for best actor in some kind of TV show, they did this great bit about how men in Hollywood were finally getting their moment, moving away from being 'pretty pretty things to look at' and getting roles of substance and character. Loved it.

The Emmys are, in some ways, are actually more fun than a number of the other awards shows. They don't take themselves as seriously, which can be refreshing. Or it can fall flat and feel gimmicky (case in point: the show choir composed of, among others, wilmer valderrama and robin from 'how i met your mother.' I mean, why?!) and confusingly self-referential (the lonely island skit with gyrating wave dancers, michael bolton dressed as jack sparrow, and akon. What does that have to do with television?). But, they laugh at themselves, and I can respect that.

Clearly, though, the most important part of the entire evening is the fashion. And this particular show was nothing more or less than 'meh.' Some cute dresses, some weird ones, and one very handsome Coach Eric Taylor accepting an Emmy in a nice tux and adorably rumpled hair. I will stick to two outfits this time around, although many more deserve a mention, like Julianna Margulies's upside-down-lampshade-as-bustier, Lea Michele's trying so hard to be Somebody that I feel embarrassed for her, Katie Holmes's blue sad sack, or the middle daughter from Modern Family displaying major cleavage at the same time that she is wearing braces. But tonight, we look at two women who are polar opposites--physically, personally, sartorially.

First, let us look at Gwyneth Paltrow, she of the Goop and backyard pizza oven: One word comes to mind, as is so often the case with the lithe blonde actress:
I loved the movie Sliding Doors. I liked her in Emma. But somewhere along the way, our dear Gwyneth became the paragon for virtuous and responsible living. started dispensing lifestyle advice, became best friends with Beyonce (I'm sorry B, you can do better), and became completely ubiquitous in kind of obnoxious ways. I know some people love her and think she can do no wrong; if that is you, feel very free to skip over this part. Because . . . this OUTFIT! If you can even call it that. I really feel like she is trying to send a message with it: "I have flat abs and pretty blond hair that I casually push aside once every three minutes and I know that crop tops were hot on the runway during fashion week and I want you to know that I know that" and on and on and on. "I only eat macrobiotic things and I make cheese out of nuts and looking at meat makes me want to vomit but, you know, it's okay for you because you are not Gwyneth Paltrow and your body is not a temple to the glories of eight glasses of water a day and a diet of homegrown kale."

Moving on . . .

There were a number of ladies in red last night, but none quite so lovely as the inimitable Ms. Winslet. I got to watch the program with one of my best friends, and she and I couldn't stop gushing over how much we adore Kate W, how fantastic a person she seems, how wonderful it is that she, a big time movie star with an Oscar, is not above getting incredibly. jump-around, hug-everyone-else excited that she has won an Emmy! We also marveled at her ability to wear a dress that certainly put her ample bosom on display but somehow still seemed demure and old-fashioned. 

That's all I've got. I need to rest up for February 27, 2012. The world won't have ended by then, right?

Thursday, September 15, 2011


It happened last night - one of too many text messages, telling me that my friend's sister had just passed away. I've never met her, know only pieces of her story, but felt deeply the heaviness and pain of deep loss, untimely loss, the kind of end of life that seems unfair and truncating and inexplicable. Dying is the end of all of us - it is what we know and what we hate to know, what we are fixed on a course toward and what we avoid with all of our effort. In short order, all of us who inhabit the earth now will be gone, and there will be new people to take our place, much like what you realize has happened five years after college when faces you don't recognize are living in your room, learning in your classes, driving on your roads. Things, including life, end. And I don't say this to be morbid, but to remember and live in the truth of life, which is that it ends. And living in light of this truth encourages me to live the kind of life that I really want, or want to want - the kind of life that is deeply invested in others and that matters in the eyes of God. My first encounter with death was when I was four years old. My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer, and although I don't remember being particularly sad or aware of what was going on at the time, I do remember feeling resentful at not being allowed to go to the funeral. I also remember my great aunt mistaking a strip of butter for string cheese at the wake; although getting to know her more later in life I wouldn't be shocked to know in hindsight that she was actually pleasantly surprised to be eating butter. She is gone now, too. In a chapel talk at Westmont this week (which I've only heard about from my dad, but am anxious to watch), Dallas Willard talked about the saved life. There are a bunch of questions that Dallas poses in his book Knowing Christ Today, but one of the most important in defining a worldview is 'What is the good life?' The saved life, as we might call it. What does it mean that Jesus has saved us? It is not, Dallas would argue, primarily about being saved from the torments of hell or the wicked ways of this world, as some might suggest. The saved life consists in deliverance. Deliverance to God, to a new life with God, to a life in which we love each moment because each moment is a moment where we might meet God. The world would distract us, which is the subtle temptation that Christians so often give into. A nicer car, a better image, a bigger wardrobe or home or bank account. Feeling 'happy,' arranging your life's circumstances so that you are 'happy' all the time and changing the circumstances when you are 'unhappy.' This is a worldview that we all buy into at some time or another in our lives, and it keeps us from living the kind of life that honors God and the kind of life that keeps death in mind. We are comforted into ignorance of our mortality. A year ago today, my dog died. Our family dog, Winston had been our pet for eleven years, outlasting by far all the other parakeets, rabbits, cats, and various other livestock that entered our home. He was a yorkshire terrier, gray and brown, with the most curmudgeonly personality imaginable. And we loved him. He had big, button eyes and horrible teeth and would perch himself on the corner of our couch and bark at anything that passed outside. My mom got him for us while my dad had driven to Missouri to pick us up from camp; we got home and ran with delight toward this ball of fur outside. "When did we decide to get a dog?" my dad asked my mom, who had brought the pup home unbeknownst to him. "I don't know when, but we must have! Why else would it be here?" And here he was, for eleven years, with us. And now he is gone. There is a new dog, a yellow lab, and my mom is very excited to have him. But for me, there will always be Winston. Life is not meant to be lived in ignorance of death. My time with my husband, my sister, my good friends is more rich and is better spent for knowing that we will not have this forever. That we will die, and that our life in light of that matters deeply to God - this is no small thing. And it does not make parting with loved ones easier, or less complicated. It is not an ignorance or denial of sadness and grief and anger. There is room for all of it. When I was a sophomore in college, I got a phone call late one evening from friends back in Chicago. One of our good friends had gone missing and, over the next few days, we found out that she had taken her life. None of us knew what to do with this; we still don't. It has shaken our faith, strengthened our faith, terrified us, made us angry and confused and closer. I flew back for her funeral, and on the program were a few words about her life and what I know now are lyrics to a song that perfectly captured the very bitter moment for us, and the sweetness for those who are with God: Imagine stepping on shore and finding it heaven Touching a hand and finding it God's Breathing new air, and finding it celestial Waking up in Glory, and finding it Home