-errari for sale? That's just -ucked up.

By Patrick Vecchio

Over the past year, people in a house I drive by each day have been selling cars from their side yard. The most recent was an ’80s-era Chevrolet Monte Carlo in a color resembling electric lime slices. “Mean Green Machine” shouted a decal in green letters along the top of the windshield.

This house is a typical out-on-the-country-roads house in this poor corner of New York state. It is sided with rolled asphalt the color of pine needles. A dusty driveway leads down to the road. Grass grows thigh-high on the steep roadside bank. Across the road is a dirt lot where the people who live in the house chop tree carcasses into piles of firewood the size of two-car garages so they can sell it. Continue reading

Ideals of feminine beauty: neck rings, bridal tattoos, fat farms

by Brittany Gasper

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Despite misquotation, Plato famously spoke of the inability to define beauty. A woman’s culture declares the ideals of her beauty to the point that some societies oppose each other.

In the United States, many women consider a tan to imply sun-kissed, healthy skin. Citizens of Southeast Asia consider pale skin so beautiful consumers rarely find cosmetics without whitening agents. Despite government attempts to control the growing market, one research survey estimates four in every 10 women in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan use whitening cream.

A beautiful woman’s skin has diverse interpretations throughout the world. Pakistan, Northern Libya and North India consider “mehndi” or henna to have “Barakah” blessings and apply it for luck, joy and beauty.
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Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Is your house haunted?

Horror of the “gothic” variety that occupied so much of the conversation between Byron and the Shelleys (these would be the conversations that ultimately gave rise to Frankenstein) has traditionally traded in some easily recognizable tropes. Among the most common are your haunted places. Swamps and moors are always a little scary. Graveyards and crypts, of course. Transylvania.

And then there’s haunted houses. Dark mansions, castles on top of hills. Abandoned homes where terrible things once happened. Subdivisions built on top of Indian burial grounds. And so on. Continue reading

ArtSunday: love among the ruffles

By Ann Ivins

James Tissot is a forgotten man. He belonged to no movement, popular or controversial; he was neither a pre-Raphaelite nor an Impressionist, though his career spanned both eras. He was dismissed by early modern critics as a “society painter,” all surface and decoration, recording the frivolity and leisure of pretty rich people in pretty expensive clothes doing pretty pointless things. Interestingly, he was dismissed by his contemporary critics, including Ruskin, not for painting pretty rich people (the mainstay of commissioned portraiture for, oh, thousands of years), but for painting the wrong pretty rich people: the burgeoning bourgeoisie of 1870’s Britain. This particular criticism disregards the fact that frankly, the nouveau riche were the only ones who would hire him after he became involved with the notorious Kathleen Newton. Tissot’s love for a divorcee with an illegitimate child didn’t lose him the effortless entree into good society with which he began his ten years in England; his refusal to hide her away or abandon her did. Continue reading