Less is More

2011 October 26
by Janelle

I know the minimalist movie poster design thing is sort of old news, but I still love seeing fledgling designers doing more with less. I’m a little overstimulated these days. My boyfriend edits movie trailers, and I cast reality TV shows. It seems like we’re both charged with cramming as much story into as little bit of time and space as humanly possible. Our days are these constant collages of information piled on information, piled on story, sprinkled with bullet points, and jazzed up with a couple thousand pull quotes. If I wasn’t born ADD, I am now. Thank you, Hollywood. Who is going to pay for my Adderall?

Sometimes it’s nice just to slow down and enjoy the essence of things. I love seeing these calm, focused interpretations of some of my favorite classics. I found most of these here, but also did a little Googling to find some by BrickHut and BackstotheWall.

If you don’t click on the one with the bullet holes, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s amazing, but cut off in the thumbnail.

Making a Manifesto

2011 October 23
by Janelle

A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with a dear new friend, at my favorite Hollywood wine bar, Lou. I’ve been to Lou a bunch of times, and have gotten to know bits and pieces here and there about the owner and namesake’s impeccable taste for unusual wine varieties, and his deep culinary convictions. After the first 10 minutes of knowing him, I became a fan of the man Lou, for always indulging my passionate (bordering on irrational) preferences for Sicilian wines, as well as for his witty banter on Twitter. Add to my accolades that Lou has consistently been one of the warmest places to drop in for a drink in Los Angeles, and this Boston transplant has pretty much found her “Cheers”, minus the barflies and mailmen with South Boston accents. I wouldn’t say it’s a place where everyone knows my name quite yet, but they’re getting to know my face and my palate, which is more important than knowing my name, in my opinion.

As if I didn’t feel at home enough at Lou to consider taking up residence in any corner of the place that would have me, I was endeared with an irrevokable sense of admiration and kinship, after I recently learned the history of my new favorite haunt through our mutual friend. As the story goes (bear with me; I’m abridging things), about five years ago a techy, web-programmer type named Lou decided to indulge in his true passion of food and wine and start anew. Devoting every day, as opposed to a few snippets of time, to the things he truly loved: Creating introductions and life-long friendships between people and the wines they otherwise never would have met.

An inspiring story of choosing to savor life (quite literally, in Lou’s story), rather than simply live it. There was a wonderful and profound irony, to hear this story while I sat in the very seat of someone who had done that so well, while I contemplated my own life path, and goals.

Living in Los Angeles, it’s so easy to get caught up in the “industry.” It’s a different sort of rat race here; one that’s covered in stardust that sometimes glistens so bright you can all but lose track of your own goals and aspirations, in favor of someone else’s—some industry exec who might not even know your name. You find yourself working longer hours and absorbing the stress and anxiety of those around you. It was perfect timing to hear about someone who kept his eye on the prize, and did so by spreading gastronomic joy to anyone who would have him do so.

I recently found this poster by Holstee—a life manifesto, which simply challenges the reader to stop over-analyzing life and just simply do what they love. While Lou did it with his career, and it would be nice if we could all find the perfect career, I don’t even really think you need to do that. We so often get caught up in daydreaming about all the things we’d rather be doing with our lives than showing up to work every day. While I’ll never judge anyone for dreaming big, I also think it’s okay to take baby steps. It’s okay to find the good in what you have and to take joy in the simple things. And it’s okay to make goals that revel in the simple joys of life.

Read more. Take time to pack yourself a delicious lunch that you can daydream about all day. Teach yourself to knit a cable knit stitch. Take a “non-smoke break” and breathe in some fresh air for five minutes in the middle of the day. Tell your friends you’ll meet them at 8 p.m. instead of 7:30, so you can have an extra 30 minutes to pet your dog. Teach a toddler how to make their hair stand up with static electricity. Let your company’s receptionist be weird and enjoy her for it, rather than pointing it out every time she tries to talk to you. Call your parents and let them blindly tell you how wonderful you are, not just because it will make you feel good, but because that’s what they live for.

I’m sure Lou would be surprised that a dinner at his wine bar inspired me to write my own personal manifesto for happiness. Maybe it was the Sicilian wine. That Lou, he knows what makes his patrons tick.

If you had to make a manifesto for yourself, what would you vow to do?

A little bit of Greece in the California Desert

2011 August 23
by Janelle

If you told me a week ago that I would end up obsessed with Palm Springs, I would have looked at you like you showed up to work in your underpants. But after a recent weekend getaway, obsessed I am.

Save for a quick downtown burger stop on our way back from Joshua Tree a couple of years ago, neither Ryan nor I had ever been to the desert oasis that wooed Clark Gable and Carole Lombard on their honeymoon.

I’ve always had this idea of old-Hollywood glamour mixed with mid-century kitsch that intrigued me about Palm Springs, and put it on my list of places to check out. Which is why I nearly did cartwheels in the car when Ryan announced he was surprising me with a weekend retreat there, to celebrate the anniversary of the first night we made out. Maybe not a milestone for most, but it took us over a decade to get together–and a good few weeks of insecure self-sabotage following that–so we figure Aug. 17 is deserving of a little fanfare.

I pictured us staying in a swinging motel with a kidney-shaped pool, decorated with Eames-inspired furniture and orange and avocado-green formica. I anticipated faded signage in repetitive geometric patterns, and maybe even a young Rat-Pack holdover serving us cocktails by the pool. While I reveled in my daydream of swinging Palm Springs, I bemoaned the fact that I hadn’t packed my Go-Go boots and mini-skirts for our weekend getaway.

Instead of a swinging motel resplendent in swank, we arrived at a gorgeous Grecian pensione (No, I’m serious. No, really.)–with a very cool arts-colony history–in the middle of the California desert late Friday night. We were greeted by a gleaming crescent moon, a night sky so full of stars it looked like it was in bloom, bonfires by the pool, and North-by-Northwest projected on an outdoor movie screen.

Soon after arriving, we dropped our bags, poured some wine, reclined on an outdoor yoga platform and relaxation commenced.

I regretfully forgot my camera, but here are some stock photos from our pensione to give you some idea of the rejuvenating weekend we had, soaking in the pool and sipping cocktails. No Go-Go boots or beehive bouffant required.

Five things to ease your mind while we wait for the Rapture

2011 May 21
by Janelle

Oops! It's okay, God. I need to file for extensions all the time, too.

As you probably know, the Rapture is upon us. Apparently, God is going to have a literal “shake down” tonight at about 6 p.m. EST. A worldwide earthquake is going to toss all of the saved right on up to Heaven’s pearly gates, while the heathens will finally have free reign to loot our local Walmart, without an iota of guilt. Word. Except that I think everyone who is left is supposed to turn into a zombie or something.

In truth, I haven’t been paying the type of attention to the end of the world I should be, and my gross disregard for details has thrown me into an exam-day panic. Since I was always the type to cram for tests, I’m using these last few hours to prepare for the worst, in case God kicks me off the floating bus.

I mostly have questions, but there are some answers I’ve found about the end of the world that have set my mind at ease. Hopefully they’ll do the same for you.

First, I am relieved to know that if a post-Rapture zombie apocalypse does occur, the Center for Disease Control is on the case.

Second, when the Rapture occurs, my Jew friends will be able to come with me. It turns out there is a loophole for the non-believers, according to Harold Camping; it’s sort of like a test-cram for the eternally damned. I cannot express how delighted I am to learn this. I get along really well with Jewish people and I can certainly say that Heaven will be way more fun with them around. Plus, it will make my mom happy, since most of her best friends are Jewish. Sadly, the rest are her best friends are gay, and Camping confirms the gays are not only shit out of luck, but one of the reasons the world is going to end in the first place. Nice going, guys.

Third, some really nice atheists say they will take care of our dog. Although, I don’t know if I trust an atheist to keep a promise.

Fourth, there IS a soundtrack to the apocalypse! I was a little concerned that that St. Pete and his cronies were going to rap out one person at a time. Now my friends and I can dance to kinetic techno beats, while we wait for our number to be called.

Five, Fab Five Freddy will totally be on the rap bus, which completely eases my mind about this end of the world thing. Not so sure about Debbie Harry. Though even St. Peter has to admit she tried her best.

I pet a baby buffalo!

2010 December 19
by Janelle

Photos of the actual petting to come (they’re on my friend’s camera).

Last week ended with more majestic longhorn cows, a baby buffalo named Tuffy–who liked to use me as a Kleenex–and a 2,000 pound fully grown buffalo named Miko that wanted desperately to play chicken with me.

I balked at the game of chicken (by accessing my inner super powers and jumping a 5-foot fence), but I let Tuffy use me as a Kleenex. I mean, when again am I going to be able to utter the phrase, “I’m covered in baby buffalo snot!” Not soon, I’d assume. Jealous much?


2010 December 19
by Janelle

A few days ago, I spent the morning at T-25* ranch in North Texas, where the Morland family welcomed us into their home, told us about six generations of ranch living, and showed us how to brand a cow.

It was an experience that simultaneously left me appalled and honored. While I was, truthfully, horrified by the sight of cattle bucking under the pain of a hot brand being burned into their backsides, I also had an overwhelming feeling of reverence for being able to witness a dying practice that is so steeped in American and family tradition.

T-25 has been a working family ranch for over six generations, and the Morlands have been have been marking their cattle with the same family brand for just as long. I felt honored to stand on their generations-old family ranch and witness a practice that Morland after Morland has done for over 150 years.

Here are some photos of what I saw.

*Name of ranch and family changed, to protect my job. The rest of the story is true!

Something I thought I’d never say…

2010 December 13
tags: ,
by Janelle

“I have cow feed stuck in my teeth.”

I’ve been in Texas for the past week for work, where I’m casting a television show about rancher women. It’s been a cool project overall, and I’ve met some amazing personalities who have been incredibly generous about taking time out of their lives to show us how real women work a ranch. I’ve gotten to pet cows, see long horn steer at a range so close it was kind of uncomfortable, I’ve pet more Australian Shepard dogs than I would have ever imagined possible in one lifetime (and subsequently fallen completely in love with the breed), and have spent so much time driving from ranch to ranch that my butt has permanently taken on the shape of a Cutlass Ciera passenger seat.

Here are some photos from our adventures.

Obviously, they underestimated the importance of Boston

2010 December 12
by Janelle

But I suppose that’s forgivable for a necklace this cute. Oddly, it highlights all of the cities I made an attempt to live in, but only one that I successfully made it to.

This makes me want a hip flask

2010 December 12
by Janelle

I’ll admit it. I sometimes have an inconvenient urge to take a swig of something strong. A hip flask, particularly one as awesome as this one, would make such urges much more stylish.

Yes, I am currently Christmas shopping online. How could you tell?

From a galaxy far, far away…

2010 October 8
by Janelle

It’s been a pretty good week, musically speaking. Tuesday I was surprised with a ticket to see Belle and Sebastian at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, last night I saw Lissie (who I’ve written about before) play an awesome and intimate performance at the Troubadour, and tonight the boy and I are going to see Arcade Fire at the Shrine. Perfect venues for each band; I’m feeling more and more like the setting of a show is almost as important as the performance itself.

So it’s kind of cool that I was introduced to a musician who describes himself as a “Musician. Nerd. Not in that order.” through the nerdiest venue of all, a Star Wars meme on the internet.

Jeremy Messersmith – Tatooine @ Yahoo! Video

Their construction paper interpretation mashes more than six hours of sci-fi legend into a few minutes of poignant paper animation, and hits deeper at the emotional core of the Star Wars trilogy than any 3D rerelease by a culturally void dino-vulture who cares nothing for the fact that he is raping and pillaging something so deeply treasured by a generation.

George Lucas: I am so fucking mad at you!

Did I say that out loud? Just visit the video and download Messersmith’s other stuff. It all kinda rules.

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