Sunday, March 31, 2013

Secret to Success: George Saunders

George Saunders — writer (most recently of Tenth of December: Stories), New York Times best seller, 2006 MacArthur Fellowship winner

What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?
"When I was in my 20s, I had this big plan to go down to El Salvador and write about the war. Never mind that I had never written anything and didn’t speak Spanish. I ran into the father of a friend of mine, and told him about my plan. I kind of expected him to shoot me down but he didn’t. Instead, he thought about it a bit, then said, 'Well, if that’s your dream, you’ve got to do it. Because you know who you’re going to blame if you don’t, right?'
"I thought about this, and was pretty sure I knew where he was going. 'Yes,' I said, 'I’ll blame myself.'
"'Bullshit!' he said. 'You’ll blame your wife and kids, when you get them."
"Somehow this has stayed with me all of these years; this idea that, one reason to try and do the things you want to do (especially artistically) is that, if you don’t at least try, you’ll be discontent, and may take this discontent out on those closest to you. Or, to put it more positively: If you at least try to do the things that excite you, it will make you a more expansive and present person — you’ll feel, at the end of your life, that at least you took the shot."

What does success mean to you?
"Artistically, it means getting as much truth and fondness for life as I can into a story without becoming sentimental — making a beautiful weird little life-evoking machine out of words. Personally, it means having the freedom to interest yourself in the highest things possible — to gradually be lucky enough to leave behind the 'have-to' things and get to turn your attention to the 'want to' things. And this, in turn, might lead to more chances to give back — to your art form, your community, young writers, etc., etc."

What's the one thing you do every day that is critical to your success?
"Well, I try to take a little time to remember to do whatever it is I am doing that day out of a positive, light, playful place — as opposed to doing it out of fear or anxiety. Not easy, but I find if I can remember this, things tend to go better."

Photo: Courtesy of Random House
Content: Courtesy of Refinery 29
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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Secret to Success: Jenni Konner

Jenni Konner — executive producer, Girls 

What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?
"My father, Larry Konner, is a screen and TV writer (now teacher, too!) and his advice has always been deeply pragmatic. He told me to write five pages a day. It doesn't matter if it takes five minutes or all day. It's a very manageable goal and tricks you into thinking you have a lot of freedom."

What's the one thing you do every day that is critical to your success?
"I cannot believe I'm actually saying this, but exercise has become critical to my days. I wasn't a person who exercised growing up or ever enjoyed it. I literally failed P.E. for so many semesters that I had to play every team sport senior year of high school. But I'm really a cultist now. I have found that when I exercise (for me it's Tracy Anderson all the way), it makes me better at every other aspect of my job. It's the time I can really shut my brain down and just enjoy myself. I've become so obsessed I'm going to rope in the crew and have Tracy classes before call time. Yes, I'm that insane."

Photo: Courtesy of HBO
Content: Courtesy of Refinery 29
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Taylor Swift and Feminism

Taylor Swift, the (sometimes country) pop princess, has been America’s sweetheart since she set the country music world ablaze in 2008 with songs like “Our Song” and “Teardrops on My Guitar”.  Since then she’s been on dozens of magazine covers, countless red carpets, and won more than a handful of Grammy’s.  Her endearingly spiraled hair and teenage soap-opera lyrics charmed the industry and inspired millions of young girls to become fearless and never let a man define their future.  She sounds pretty perfect, right?

            Alongside her list of accolades is another list of a different sort; her list of men that she has dated (I’ll admit, some are probably just rumored relationships).  Here’s the most current list (which reads a lot like an A-lister’s phonebook): Joe Jonas, Lucas Till, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer, Cory Monteith, Toby Hemingway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zac Efron, Garrett Hedlund, Eddie Redmayne, Conor Kennedy, and Harry Styles.  While there’s nothing wrong with a young woman playing the field, especially since men are often congratulated for dating countless beautiful women, I do have a probably with the way Swift has apparently manipulated her relationships and failures with these men to make a profit.  Penning a song may be her version of writing in her diary, but following through and recording a song that is obviously aimed towards someone else is not only spiteful, but embarrassing.   

One of the biggest objections to “Sex and the City”, HBO’s evergreen which now has become syndicated on E! during their “Ladies Who Lunch” marathon every afternoon, was that Carrie Bradshaw and her gal pals use and abuse men.  While all four ladies on the show have a prominent professional life, dating men seems to be their only career.  Bradshaw, in particular, created a livelihood based on publicly airing her relationships with men.  This objectification of males and relying on them to aid your success seems suspiciously similar to what Swift does in her own songs. 

Swift, like Bradshaw, writes about the men in her life through thinly-veiled lyrics which accuse men for being always wrong.  This is not a good message to be sending young girls who listen to Swift religiously.  Everyone should be held accountable for their own actions, especially in a relationship.  If young girls are taught to believe that they are always the victims, they will never become anything but victims.  While Swift’s intentions may be to empower females who have struggled similarly to her, the result has evolved into quite the opposite.

Publicly, Swift has claimed that she is not a feminist.  In a recent “Vanity Fair” interview, Swift said that she believes that feminism is about “guys vs. girls.”  If her definition of feminism was accurate, which it’s not, then she could be labeled a feminist.  However, feminism is all about men and women being treated and viewed as equal human beings.  Through Swift’s lyrics, she has a tendency to objectify men, thusly creating an unequal balance between men and women.  So, if Swift, who is the voice for so many young women, is confused about her own beliefs regarding her gender role, where does that lead all her female fans?  

In addition, Swift has publicly slammed Tina Fey, who joked about the singer and her dating habits at the Golden Globes.  Instead of laughing it off like any other person with a sense of humor would do (c’mon T-Swift, it’s Tina Fey), the thin-skinned Swift backlashed against the comedienne in a very hypocritical way. 

"You know, Katie Couric is one of my favorite people, because she said to me she had heard a quote that she loved, that said, ‘There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women,'" Swift said in a recent “Vanity Fair” interview regarding the Fey incident.  This quote seems very contradictory to the statement that she tries to make.  By claiming that women who don’t help other women go to hell, isn’t Swift herself not helping other women?  Also, it appears that Swift has either been living in a cave or is incredibly misinformed and self-centered if she believes that Fey doesn’t help other women.  Fey’s role in helping women be viewed as funny and successful comedy writers and producers has been incalculable.  As a result of this “feud”, Swift comes off seeming like the popular girl that peaked in high school and blames others for her fall from grace.

Album after album, Swift has created songs that are centralized around men.  This fact echoes a theme that is overwhelmingly popular in the film industry today.  The female role in most movie genres, aside from female gothics or film noir, is to be the object of desire to men.  Even romantic comedies, which are aimed towards a female audience, revolve around the concept that women’s only goal in life is to be desired by a man.  In contrast, men have more significant roles in film that surround themes of following their destiny, defending their honor (which includes protecting their property and woman), and being a strong leader in the face of adversity.  The female lead characters are limited and divided into two roles.  As explained in the first “Sex and the City” movie, a woman can either be a “witch” or a “sexy kitten”.  With her male-centered songs, Swift is confirming society’s notions that females are simply there for the benefit of men.  I would love to see Swift escape from her fairytale, ice-cream cone world and write a song about something much more powerful than about how you’re never ever ever getting back together.    

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Secret to Success: Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel — actress (New Girl500 Days of Summer); singer-songwriter, She & Him (headingon tour this summer); and co-founder (Hello Giggles)

What's the best piece of advice you have ever received?
"It's hard to say the BEST piece of advice since I can't recall every piece of advice I've ever received, but a really good piece of advice I've gotten was on my first movie, the director, Lawrence Kasdan, told me to always give my best performance, even if I was off camera for another actor because people can tell a generous actor. I always think of that when I'm working, it's important to be generous!

What's the one thing you do every day that is critical to your success?
"I talk to my parents every day. We always have interesting conversations, and I love how much I can learn from them. I think they like it, too!"

Photo: Courtesy of PMK BNC
Content: Courtesy of Refinery 29

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Paris Fashion Week Street Style

Images: Courtesy of Refinery 29

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Found Music: Winter Song

Technically I found this song a while ago, but I thought it would be (hopefully!) a wonderful ode to winter.  Here comes spring (and the G&E launch!)

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Arielle Lace Mini Skirt

The Arielle Lace Mini Skirt is the perfect transitional item to add to your wardrobe as the cold winter months become spring.  This adorable skirt has a blend lace overlay with an exposed metal zipper in the back.  The Arielle Lace Mini Skirt is extremely versatile and can either be dressed up or dressed down.  The lace overlay of the Arielle Lace Mini Skirt could either be emphasized in an edgy outfit or it can compliment a girly ensemble, it all depends on the owner!
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Meet the Team: Devin VanderMaas

From L-R: Ione Fuzzell, Devin VanderMaas, Megan Filipp, and Andre Wagner
"The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves.  But for those who haven’t had the fortune of finding this happiness, I am there." ~Yves Saint Laurent 1983

“Fashion will never be out of business,” Devin VanderMaas, founder of The Factory 2.0 and founder, owner, and creative director of Georgie & Elaine, a clothing line very close to her heart.

VanderMaas, who cites her supportive family as having the most influence on her, worked closely with both Ione Fuzzell and her grandmother when developing the aesthetics for the Georgie & Elaine brand.

“Ione and my grandmother made the first samples and I created the brand from that,” said VanderMaas.  “I manage the sourcing, production, marketing, branding, sales, etc. and I love every minute of it.”

Georgie & Elaine is a brand that truly represents what VanderMaas loves most, family and beautiful clothes.  Her favorite memories from the whole G&E experience, thus far, are centered around the support of family and the creation of her own G&E family.

“[My all time highlight was when] we flew Andre and Megan in from NYC and we all had a pajama party at my grandparents’ house in rural Ohio while shooting,” VanderMaas said.  “It was truly magical and was just additional confirmation that I have the most supportive and lovely family in the world.”

VanderMaas also mentions that her mother helped with set design, her grandparents were the hospitality specialists, her Uncle Geoy lent a few props, and her Aunt Jen took behind-the-scenes photos.  VanderMaas was also aided by her team’s assistant, Brandon Biscoff.

“It was great to see a team of people come together to help us take an abstract idea and make it tangible,” said VanderMaas.

VanderMaas is currently living her dream career in both her roles as founder of The Factory 2.0 and creative director of Georgie & Elaine.

“I love fashion because it is aesthetic personification,” said VanderMaas.  “I love it because it makes life a bit more interesting.”

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