I Think You’re Missing The Big Bottom Line In Those “Skinny” Subway Ads

Have you seen Subway’s latest ad ~ the one with the woman who reminds us to “Eat Fresh!” and stay healthy & slim so we can fit into our sexy Halloween costumes?

Jezebel did. And out came the requisite rant. (Have I mentioned I’m getting tired of that?) Of course others had their rants too.

But come on now, let’s face reality. Aren’t all the Halloween costumes for women sexy now? The fact that Subway knows they are shouldn’t really be a surprise. Because just who hasn’t noticed this? There’s a name for it: Slutoween. And, right or wrong, there’s a history behind it. (And, in fact, Hallowe’en began as a holiday for rowdy, bawdy adults, not children.) Whether or not you want to don such sexy apparel is up to you; but stop denying that they are popular. Guess what, $1.4 billion will be spent on adult Halloween costumes. The free-market has dictated that sexy does sell when it comes to Halloween costumes.

With so much money being spent on the costumes, is it any wonder Subway would latch onto our vain desire to look better in those costumes? If our cultural definition of “better looking” is thin (or at least “thinner”), it makes dollars and cents to pull that marketing string. And if you want to cry out in body image outrage (apparently not seeing the shirtless man in the Viking costume at the table, as well as the humor of the commercial itself), go ahead. I’ll cynically counter with the point that Subway also wants us to be alive next year ~ if only to be customers. Having a business that’s all about eating healthier really is a great business model; it really does cost more to acquire new customers than to retain existing customers, you know.

jared_subway_pants Anyway, I think the negative response to this Subway commercial is itself sexist.

Where were the complaints about men having to slim down so they didn’t have to wear those huge pants?

The collective “we” saw that as a healthy move. There was no out-cry then.

But a woman wants to be sexy? A woman who dares to admit she wants to be sexy?

Oh hell no! We simply can’t have any of that!

Meanwhile, Natalie Mitchell, the actress in the ad who models all the sexy costumes (complete with “Foxy Fullback”), is keeping mum until this latest, mainly feminist, frenzy passes. Keep an eye on her Tumblr page for comment.

natalie mitchell foxy fullback subway ad

Boil, Toil & Trouble: What You Don’t Know About Women’s Changing Bodies (A Halloween Special)

It occurs to me, as I sit awake, unable to sleep because I am a sweaty mess of hormones and hot flashes, that we have done women a(nother) great disservice.

You know how we start in grade school to educate girls about that special “womanhood” thing? We separate them from the boys, and tell them all about their changing bodies — even before those bodies are changing. I’m not saying it’s all aces in terms of such education; but there are far fewer girls running home crying thinking the blood in their panties means they are dying. So why don’t we pull young women aside in say high school, and them them all about the other changes their bodies will go through — namely menopause or perimenopause.

And when we teach it, we should teach all of it.

First of all, menopause isn’t “the change.” As a woman, we experience lots of changes. Menstruation, for example, is not the mere existence of blood in the crotch of our panties. It’s not even the evidence of the miracle of life in terms of the biological machinations. Yeah, egg released, womb is lined, womb is shed — but no one tells you about what that means for you and your changing body.

No one tells you that the hormones requires to start this perfectly natural cycle will make you feel like 900 pissed-off and pointy cats live inside of you. Their sharp teeth and claws may not exactly puncture you internally; but are like sandpaper on every last nerve.

No one tells you that the process for shedding the uterine lining means more than “cramps”; how the body resists and reacts to these cramps with everything from hot constipation and burning diarrhea (yes, often both) to increased breast and genital sensitivity and increased sexual desires (yes, often with both again). You may not want to know the details of my lovely cycle, but let’s just say it’s the frustrating crush of a fist holding everything, including my breath, tight and still — followed by a rush of “everything must get out.” That includes skin eruptions and bowels along with my uterine lining.And while everything is sensitive, those utero-contractions make me feel like I’m on the edge of something… Like a great big orgasm, so let’s get on with that and get it out too. (Which reminds me, ladies, if we had proper sex education, we’d be telling young women about this reality — and how great vibrators and sex toys can be. Heaven knows, if I’d had known about the joys of a Hitachi Magic Wand in my 20’s, I’d have skipped many a bad romance, and better coped with my periods too.)

You’re right; this isn’t “ladylike.” But it’s what happens to ladies, to women; so let’s stop denying it.

Now, when it comes to menopause, there’s a lot more to the ending of this monthly cycle — which, while often hellish, is our damn monthly cycle. We can hate it, but we’ve just spend decades getting used to it, and now what the hell?!

Thanks to women’s magazines and shows like Oprah, there’s been some talk about menopause. Frankly, I didn’t tune into them all; like the little girl I once was, I figured that change was so far ahead in my life, I didn’t need to worry my pretty little head about it. Which is why it was great that sitting down to hear it was a forced mandatory school thing. Hence my belief that the same should be done regarding teaching the realities of menopause to young women in high school.  But anyway, like many of my sisters who are ushering in the age of chronedome, I am amazed to discover there is lots that I don’t know about this specific change. Knowing that this particular biological trip is the end of creating life, that this agonizingly slow, back and forth of you have a period then months without it, then BAM! have a period of some sort again, isn’t all there is to the story.

You’ve likely heard of those hot flashes. Well, they are real.

And they are a real bitch.

If you didn’t already have insomnia, the hot flashes are enough to give it to you. You lay awake, sweating. You kick off the covers. You turn a fan on, even when just hours before, you were begging your husband to turn the heat up. And when you do pass out for a bit, you wake up frigid. (Not just temperature wise, but sexually too. Because you are sleep deprived and you are aware just how much you freakin’ stink from sweating, so the last thing you can imagine is having sex. But wait a while… Your hormones will demand otherwise soon enough. Just pray you haven’t alienated your partner too much. Or hit that vib for medicinal reasons — because there will be times that orgams will be the only way to knock yourself out well enough to sleep a few hours.)

And then too, the fan is awesome white-noise to help alleviate insomnia in general. Your partner may not dig this. At best, this adds stress to an already stressful time — leading to more insomnia for you. At worst, you find yourself yelling sarcastically, “Yes, please do turn the fan off. I am completely faking all this wretched sweating just to make you cold at night! It’s all about you — always!”

Like I said, it’s not pretty. Especially when there’s little understanding. And how can there be understanding when the bulk of knowledge about menopause if a joke about the little old ladies with fans?

One other ugly thing I am experiencing is boils. Big nasty, angry-ass boils.

No one wants to talk about these hideous things. Just the other day, I was swapping horrible night-sweat stories with a friend. You know, in that bitter misery-loves-company way involving bitter laughter — until you cry. But I didn’t dare bring up the boils. They are just too ugly. Normal, it turns out; but still ugly.

But the whole drive home, I kept kicking myself in the ass for not saying something — for not speaking the truth. What if she had them, but didn’t know they were normal? What if she blamed herself for some imaginary hygiene problem? What if she was too embarrassed to talk to her doctor? What if she did mention to her doctor, but that doctor was an ass about it, like mine was? It took me going through some basic boil info to realize that boils are often a part of perimenopause because boils are caused by ingrown hairs (something affected by hormonal changes) and plugged sweat glands or oil ducts (thanks again, hot flashes). So a-duh you can have boils at this time. But thanks, Dr. Ass-Hat, for making me spell it out for you. (Thankfully, you can also have a new doctor at this time too.)

For these reasons, I remain silent to longer.

“Hey, world, I am a suffering yet another painful change in my body and life! This one comes with mood swings, the loss of ‘beauty’ (i.e. clues to health and fertility) and societal value, hot flashes, sleep deprivation, and big ol’ boils! Arg!”

And when people don’t get it, when they call you insane or mock you with even the slightest of eyeball rolls for your hormone-ridden life — be it menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, you want to scream, “Hey, buddy, you can leave any time you friggin’ want — me, I’m f-ing stuck here with this situation!”

Now, maybe it’s sleep deprivation talking, but all of this reminds me of the depictions we have of witches…

Witches are usually old; with grey or white hair and long noses. Witches are typically depicted with what we call warts, often with a hair jetting out of them. Here I see boils. Boils, as mentioned, are often sprung from a hair follicle.

And witches are often shown sweating over a huge caldron of boiling something-or-other. Is that a reference to hot flashes?

Unlike the idea of wise crones, witches seem to be the ugliest, scariest, icons of menopause.

Perhaps the flying on brooms thing is about older women now being able to leave home and hearth; the scariest thing of all for a woman to do — other than be sexual, of course.

Vintage Political Trick Or Treat

The Mondale-Ferraro campaign used the Halloween “Trick Or Treat” theme to get some votes in the bag:

Trick:

For those with under
$10,000 a year,
23 Billion LESS!

or

Treat:

For those with over
$80,000 a year,
35 Billion MORE!

(These are the Congressional
Budget Office projections
for the years ’83, ’84, ’85)

If these figures SPOOK you

Vote Mondale-Ferraro for America

Before There Was Princess Jasmine…

There was this Chinese Princess costume and mask by Ben Cooper.

OK, so maybe she’s not exactly a dead-ringer for Princess Jasmine. And so what if I get more of an Indonesian-vibe than a Chinese one; we could debate such things all day. But not debatable is the fact that this princess is very fair. I also have the vintage Ben Cooper Yogi Bear costume and mask (I also have it up at auction on eBay), which is, if not the same shade, a bit darker.

Of Long Fingernails & Gravediggers

in-the-land-of-long-fingernailsIn the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger in the Age of Aquarius isn’t a work of fiction, but with such a setting and characters like this, Charles Wilkins’ memoir reads as well as one.

In the summer of ’69, Wilkins took a job at a cemetery. The gig alone would be worthy of many stories — and they are in there, believe me — but being a memoir, Wilkins focuses on the people in the place. This may, to some, seem a bit silly — like he’s ignoring the, umm, meat of the situation. Especially when the inside flap of the dust jacket says, “Hardly a day passed that Wilkins did not witness some grim new violation of civility or law, or discover some unexplored threshold in his awareness of human behavior.” But by letting the gross and the grisly, the physical and emotional disturbances, be the backdrop for the stories for what living humans do to and for one another, Wilkins presents the reality of life lived in contrast with death that literally surrounds it. A reality most of us manage to avoid as blithely as we avoid becoming a gravedigger.

Mostly a group of manly-men who hide their lots in life, these gruff men grumble their intolerance of one another and complain about their labor; on the surface they are seemingly oblivious to their proximity to death and loss. But beneath this noise, it’s clear they are aware and questioning… They open coffins to take peeps inside, debate philosophy, and view the pomp & ceremony of religion as a capitalistic endeavor more than comforting faith. Who can blame them? But there’s also a certain poetry to this rag-tag lot of misfits too; from page 93:

“If there were such a thing as a soul, Wilkins, can you imagine what this kind of experience would do to it?” He glances upwards, taps his fingers on the coffin top.

“Wilkins,” he says, baiting me gently, “maybe there’s a soul, and it lasts only as long as the body.”

“And then what?”

“It becomes a story,” he says

Among the big issues of life and death, The Land Of Long Fingernails is a memoir and as such holds the coming of age story of the college-aged Wilkins; in light of all the gruesome, Wilkins grew some.

Readers can too.

In terms of the writing itself, there is one bump. Frankly speaking, the first nine paragraphs of chapter two should have been been the start of chapter one. Getting a close-up of the very real (yet renamed to protect the author and the not-so-innocent) Willowlawn Everlasting cemetery, only to be moved backward for the establishing shot of the 60’s culture was jarring. Rather like stumbling up a staircase, you eventually reach your destination, but really, did you need to be so startled? Fortunately, we recover quickly and Wilkins never makes such a mistake again.

The repellent realities of nature and the “Oh. My. Gawd. That’s unreal!” human actions (be they the repugnant human hypocrisy or cold calculating illegalities) are shocking — but neither they, nor the folks buried underground, are more powerful than the stories of the humans which dig, sculpt, and stamp about living upon the surface.

If Halloween is supposed to be the time at which we explore the veil between the living and the dead, then now is the perfect time to read In The Land Of Long Fingernails; however I wouldn’t limit the book so seasonally. A highly recommended read.

Cheap Thrills Thursday, Retro Halloween Edition: Barnabas Collins Game

A character in the Gothic soap opera television series, Dark Shadows (1966 – 1971), Barnabas Collins was a long-suffering vampire — tormented both by his status as a blood drinker and his doomed romance with the beautiful Josette. But none of this really matters when it comes to playing the Milton Bradley Barnabas Collin’s game; it’s just a “scary” game for the kiddies.

original-barnabas-collins-game-box-and-parts

I only paid $1.50 for the game (# 4003, copyright 1969, Dan Curtis Productions, Inc.) at a thrift store; the original store price tag was $3.99. (Ha! Take that, inflation!)

Our game is complete, save for the toy fangs which, while originally included in the game box, were “not part of the game” and ” to be used by the owner of the game when playing the role of Barnabas” (printed inside the box’s lid — twice). Of course, kids being kids, there’s also the proviso that “they should be washed before a player uses them.”

The game is rather like hangman — at least visually. Only instead of trying to spell words, you spin the spinner and try to build your glow-in-the-dark skeleton by “hanging” him, piece by piece, on the cardboard scaffolding.

making-skeletons-in-dark-shadows-barnabas-collins-game

Each of the 2-4 players takes a turn spinning, hoping for the chance to collect bones/parts from the coffin. In order to begin building your skeleton, you’ll need either the skull or the body piece; so the first few spins can be anti-climactic. When the spinner lands on the ring, it’s like a wild card; the player chooses any bone, skull or body piece from the coffin.

winning-move-dark-shadows-gameBut beware, you could land on the wooden spike space! When you do, you’ll need to take a wooden spike from the coffin; collect three of them and you’ll need to remove a bone from your skeleton (and then you may return the three spikes as well). There is an “advanced game” option, in which the player with the three spikes may challenge a player of his/her choosing to a “Vampire Duel.” (They take turns spinning to see who will spin the ring space first. If it’s the challenger, the s/he doesn’t lose a bone; the challenged player does. If the challenged player wins, the challenger must remove two bones from their skeleton.)

As game play is based upon the spinner, there’s very little strategy involved (other than having luckily guessed to use your wild ring spin to get an upper arm when your next turn gives you the lower arm, etc., it’s all chance), making it rather simplistic (even for the ages 6 to 14 stated on the box). But it’s certainly a cheap thrill — on any day of the week.

And it’s cool for Halloween — though it’s not anywhere as scary as indicated in the original television commercial (I doubt it was seen as scary then either).  But before you watch it, here’s an FYI: if you’re a Dark Shadows, Gothic fan, or just a Johnny Deep nut (perhaps all three?), Depp’s apparently signed to play Barnabas Collins in Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Dark Shadows.

Now for the word from our retro sponsor:

“Just a moment, Janet. We don’t want to interfere with their celebration.” Or Do We?

rocky-horror-picture-show-a-tribute-sends-universal-studios-hollywoodssm-all-new-halloween-horror-nights-through-the-time-warp-againThe entire Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios Hollywood has been re-designed for 2009 — including a Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute which begins a 16-night run on October 2nd.

Universal Studios Hollywood will present the Rocky Horror Picture Show: A Tribute, featuring Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Riff, Magenta, & the gang, at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event per an agreement between the theme park and Twentieth Century Fox’s Licensing & Merchandising Division.

Howard Nelson, Vice President Worldwide Promotion for Fox Licensing:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is more than a film, it’s become a cultural touchstone in American entertainment and this new attraction is yet another testament to its strength. This tribute extends our relationship with Universal Studios Hollywood, which continues to do a great job translating our properties for live audiences.

The new Halloween Horror Nights will also feature four all-new mazes (including, per agreement among Universal Studios Theme Parks, Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures, a “live” maze experience based on the Saw film franchise), a new “Terror Tram” backlot studio experience as well as terrifying new “Scare Zones.” You can keep up with more news & announcements about Halloween Horror Nights’ official Twitter account.

Friday the 13th Contest Is A Killer Heh Heh

Collectors’ Quest and Mezco have teamed-up for a thrilling Friday the 13th Contest.

Up for grabs:

The Jason 3.75 inch Toy Fair 2009 Limited Edition Produced exclusively for the 2009 New York Toy Fair, he comes with his trademark machete and removable Glow In The Dark mask.

Cinema Of Fear Friday the 13th 2009 Remake 7in Figure The legendary slasher of Camp Crystal Lake strikes again in the all new Friday the 13th film. The Jason Voorhees figure is crafted with incredible detail, full articulation, & comes with an array of weapons used in the film.

I can’t win because I’m a staff writer — but there’s no reason why you can’t win! Here’s how to enter the random drawing:

1. Sign up to collectorsquest.com to receive one entry in the drawing. (And be sure to make me your buddy — I’m Poptart.)

2. Upload a collection and you will receive 5 entries. Present CQ members must upload a new collection for entry.

3. Drawing will be held on March 14th and winner announced thereafter.

Good luck!