Well If You Wanted Honesty That’s All You Had To Say
by Tess Lynch
Awhile back a friend of mine said that he wished he could meet with Simon Cowell over lunch and get some feedback. I don’t think he had anything specific to ask, I think he just wanted to get an hour-long version of the appraisals people get during American Idol.
“Why? Oh my god, why?” I asked him.
“Just to see what he’d say. Everybody knows he’s always right.”
I was going to argue, but then I thought, no, he’s got something there.
I have another friend (and I should just put these two together in a room, actually) whose criticisms are always eerily correct. When we were in highschool, he mentioned that my room was not messy, it was “dirty.”
I fought this off for a long time, but later realized that because I’d rebelled against my parents’ employment of a housekeeper by emphasizing the fact that I could clean my own room, because I was not a fascist. Now I have a terrible fear of living in filth. I kind of got it together after that. He was right.
Not my office, not this time.
“Cinnamon Girl” – Prince (mp3)
Another time, the same friend put together a string of adjectives to describe the scent of a house that would have been the most heart-breaking thing to hear, if it were your house. He brought in the canned mangoes, the dirty poodles, the Glade, the stroganoff. (Other things houses smell like, according to the web: cat pee, an ashtray, onions, grilled meat with no meat grilling, an infant’s ass).
Some people have a strange breed of genius: they are totally bereft of the sympathetic editor most people (Paula) have which prevents them from telling you “I like you, but your ears smell like catfood.”
There’s a scene going up in my acting class from The Shape Of Things, in which a lady plays Ultimate Simon Cowell to a dude who falls in love with her. If you haven’t seen or read it, I won’t ruin the ending, but it’s Neil LaBute, so you can take a guess. She makes him over, she manipulates his personality and interests…you know, everything you have to do to be on American Idol.
“The New Seeker” – Clinic (mp3)
We love you, though
“A Postcard To Nina” – Jens Lekman (mp3)
I guess if this is something people want, and I’m willing to admit that even I sort of want it, then one person among your group of friends should just take on the role of The Mean Objective Person Who Tells It Like It Is. You should always buy them lunch to pay them for their services, because you guys probably won’t be friends with that person for very long. You need a kind of pedestal to be able to pull of total objectivity, otherwise everyone else will just start picking on you, like Harriet The Spy.
That slam book was a bad idea, Ricky, you hear me?
Doctor Phil is another person who seems to be above the laws of politesse; I find this strange, considering that he’s such an easy target himself. He worked with his dad and a chick named Thelma Box at a place called “Pathways” (later “Choices”) which was ” a seminar to ‘assist people in living their lives with clarity and passion.’”
Seemed like he was already honing his critical eagle-eye, but then he made an oops with a 19-year-old patient. And that was just the beginning: he got into trouble for his weight loss business, and some more oopses made their way into his unauthorized bio:
The book probed McGraw’s history, with interviews of his childhood friends and former classmates. The book reported that McGraw used unethical business practices in a gym business early in his career, that he was abusive to his first wife, and was also abusive to his staff, while noting that he overcame adversity through setting goals and was persistent in achieving success.
“Rush Rush” – Debbie Harry (mp3)
And then of course there’s his whole Britney thing. Yet still, he can tell you what’s wrong with you. And that’s something that people want to know. Cloaked in anonymity, everyone becomes hyper-critical online (remember Hot or Not?), and what most people seem to wonder about on the internets are: whether or not they’re attractive, how you feel about their rod (NSFW, NS at all), if their outfit is cute, if they’re cool.
This is probably why there’s now a facebook application that allows you to place your picture on the hot-or-not-chop-block. There’s also one where you can “find out who’s interested in YOU!” and yet another called “Are You Normal? (Quibble With Family And Friends)” — the last one I can only assume was a badly translated title attached to a badly translated idea.
“Let’s Chill” – Z-Ro (mp3)
In Los Angeles, people are always pushing Image Consultants on you if you want to be an actor. The idea is that you will receive, in exchange for your payment of a lot of money (but most of the sites I looked at were careful to keep their prices vague), some kind of personal assessment and specific criticisms and instructions on how to fix various things abour yourself you never knew were wrong. A testimonial on one site said:
“Michelle Sterling is brilliant! I just can’t say enough about her! She is a bona fide genius! She totally captured my “look” and what I want to say to the world in just a few short hours! In the past, I had had my “colors” done, but something was still wrong because I would buy things in “spring” colors that were suppose to look good on me, but I just didn’t feel comfortable wearing them. I wasted hundreds, and probably thousands of dollars over the years on things that would just sit in my closet, barely worn.
I was baffled and totally frustrated. Well Michelle knew exactly what was wrong! What an eye-opener! I never considered my “introverted personality” in buying clothes! She went through my entire wardrobe in the blink of an eye and I have a ton of clothes! She purged what wasn’t “me” and she showed me awesome and wonderful ways to mix and match clothes I already had as well as new clothes we bought together in ways I would have never in a million years thought of! And they looked great together! Wow! Brilliant! She is worth her weight in gold! Now instead of thinking “I have nothing to wear” when I look in my closet, I’m excited because I have a million things to wear! Thank you Michelle! You’re an Angel from Heaven!”
An angel from heaven
An image consultant
So, then, the reason you take on an Image Consultant is so that they can tell you a watered-down version of what you’d hear on American Idol.
Instead of dance 10, looks 3, you get some frosted bangs and ballet flats; with Image Consulting, they’re trying to make you more yourself. How can you be more yourself? What a ridiculous thing. And still I wonder, what does the house smell like? Is it old ficus trees and teenage underpants? When I talk, do I do that weird thing where I look like I’m going to yak for a second? Should I stop doing that? What’s with these pants? I’ll just make sure that the person I ask has the mark of genius on their palms (that’s where the Objective Genius Eye lives), and that they know my gender. Actually, it might be better to skip it entirely.
Roasted Apples and Butternut Squash
2 small or one large butternut squash
2 baking apples
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp butter (I like salted, call me crazy)
Squirt of lemon
Preheat oven to 350. Halve squash, remove seeds. Cut in half and peel, then cut in 1/2″ thick chunks. Arrange in baking dish. Core and peel apples; slice apples into quarters and then slice each quarter in half, toss briefly in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice, and add to dish. Heat butter just to melting, mix with brown sugar, and drizzle over apples and squash. Bake in oven until squash is tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with honey and black pepper.
Tess Lynch is the contributing editor to This Recording.
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Beck Hansen, hopefully not a FishbowlLA reader
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