Blue Jasmine: A Dazzling Tale of a Faded Woman

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Upon your first glance, Jasmine Francis (Cate Blanchett) is a snob. Her chronicle of her marriage to an undefended elderly woman harangues over the course of the journey from the first class cabin to the San Francisco airport’s baggage claim, where she enlists a fellow passenger to retrieve her Louis Vuitton suitcases. You chuckle at how ridiculous she is; you may even hate her.
Then you realize Jasmine has been talking to herself the entire time, and wonder what has left this woman so deluded.

Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen’s latest film, doubles as a modern interpretation of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer-winning play about an elite woman’s decline. Following her husband Hal’s arrest for fraud, Jasmine (née Jeanette), a New York socialite, downgrades to San Francisco to live with her estranged sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) because she simply has nowhere else to go. As expected, Jasmine doesn’t settle into her new middle-class neighborhood so easily. In her struggle to get her life back on track, Jasmine encounters guilt, grief, and a series of panic attacks she offsets by popping Xanax and draining Ginger’s vodka supply. Jasmine’s new life is interlaced with flashbacks of her complicated marriage to Hal (Alec Baldwin). Allen’s orchestration of these flashbacks, along with Cate Blanchett’s striking performance, spectacularly conveys Jasmine’s mental illness. Even when they are laden with tension and strife, these flashbacks are luxurious in their rich detail, setting, and lighting. After the flashbacks end, we’re greeted with a close shot of Jasmine trembling and mumbling to herself. Allen pulls us back into her present, which is defined by her neurotic soliloquies. We feel like we’re experiencing Jasmine’s flashbacks and anxiety attacks, and Allen’s tactic is spectacular.

Jasmine, however, is not the only character with a problem, and her plagues don’t dominate the film’s screen time. Ginger is trapped in a cycle of dating different versions of the same man, who in this case happens to be “Streetcar’s” Stanley Kowalski.  Jasmine advises Ginger to date a different type of person, which prompts an affair with Al (Louis C.K.), a “nice guy” she meets at an elitist party. Meanwhile, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), Ginger’s ex-husband, still resents Jasmine for initiating a business deal gone wrong between him and Hal.

In addition to the greed that comes with glamour, Jasmine tackles mental illness extraordinarily well. Coming from someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, Blanchett’s interpretation of Jasmine’s episodes was hauntingly accurate. Blanchett also effortlessly channels Jasmine’s snobbery. Her tone is stuffy and cool, and her motions are as airy and ethereal as the patio at Hal’s Hamptons beach house. Blanchett’s portrayal of Jasmine’s annoyance, such as when Ginger’s fiancée Chili (Bobby Cannavale) sets her up on a date, is humorous; her interpretation of panic during Jasmine’s attempted rape scene is as strong as the situation is horrifying. There’s no way she’s walking away from the film without an award. Jasmine’s supporting roles and casting were done well. Alec Baldwin owns sleazy Hal so that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing him. Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) makes Ginger’s romantic insecurity and forgiving nature charming. Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire), in his blue-collared auto shop uniform with “Chili” monogrammed above the right breast, screams working class.

This film is one of the better movies I have seen this year. Although Allen isn’t telling an original story, the deftness and confidence of its execution make it one well worth watching. It is engaging, poignant and makes you think. Blue Jasmine is beautiful – it’s terrifying, but it’s beautiful. 

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Instagrams from New York

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Well, basically I had one of the most incredible weekends ever. I ate a lot, ate some more, got to eat rhubarb, got to eat dumplings, went to the Gay Pride Parade, ate sandwiches and tarts in Central Park, took a nap in Central Park, listened to Michael Jackson in a taxi, and had the opportunity to tour Teen Vogue headquarters in Times Square – I was a little starstruck, so I couldn’t speak without sounding like an idiot the whole time, and all I could get out was “thank you so much,” “thank you,” “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” and “this is incredible.” I just hope I can end up in that building again someday – maybe every day.
And oh my god, I’m leaving for Europe in four days.

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Flying up

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Part excitement, part me seizing the opportunity to make a funny face.

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That’s right, I got into the Conde Nast building.

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Teen Vogue’s closet contains the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen.

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They handed me a Coach hat and Chloe bag to wear while my picture was taken. I didn’t hesitate!

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I had to get one in front of the sign, come on.

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Andrew gave me a souvenir. This isn’t in stores at the moment.

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The pictures are blurry because I couldn’t stop shaking.

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I just really liked this window.

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Yeah, I’m not getting rid of this sticker.

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Rhubarb crisp at The Little Owl.

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Lobster salad. It was oh-my-god good.

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PAC-man dumplings. Genius and delicious.

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Gay pride parade.

Summertime Clothes

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You know how clothing stores will start displaying their warm-wear apparel when the last thing you want to wear outside is a swimsuit?
I hate that. I don’t even really understand why they do it to us. Oh boy, fashion is so complicated that the clothes have to be shown off half a year in advance. All you’re doing is distracting me! I just started school again, don’t get me daydreaming about spring break or summer. I do understand why stores start showing off clothes an entire season ahead from a marketing perspective, but that doesn’t really motivate me to buy anything. Why would I want to buy something I couldn’t wear or use?
All those displays do is make me daydream about summer and going on trips. The time when I’ll actually have an opportunity to wear the vibrant yellow hat or sundress I’ll ogle over but refuse to buy, because I actually can be rational. I just remind myself that I have school the next day and won’t be going anywhere and the weather won’t be warm enough to wear whatever I’m looking at for a long time, and force myself away from the summer clothes.
Now it’s actually happening, though. The opportunity to actually wear these clothes and live out my daydreams, I mean. School is actually almost over. I will be en route to Austria in 63 days. And that’s just one of the places I’ll be going this summer. I’ve got two beach trips, a weekend in New York, Bonnaroo, and a week in South Africa to get through first.
All of those locations are going to require different types of clothing, especially because there will be some drastic temporal changes. Like the beach? I’ll probably be in my swimsuit or a dress the whole time. Plus I’ll be with a bunch of guys, so there’s no reason to dress elaborately or even bathe – okay, I’m kidding about that part. Then comes New York, which isn’t really that tricky except for at night or if I actually want to dress like a young woman. Bonnaroo will be the complete opposite. I feel like everybody there will practically be naked. I’ve got to figure out the best way to keep cool without getting a sunburn. Lollapalooza was hot enough, but this is the south. I stand a much higher chance of getting heat stroke in Tennessee than I did in Chicago. I don’t want to look like I’m trying to be a slut or anything, but I don’t want to be uncomfortably hot, especially since I get dizzy easily.
I have more anxieties about South Africa and wherever I end up going in Europe because those places can get pretty cold. South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, after all, so it’ll be winter when I go. Okay, I just looked up the weather. It’s not too bad. This website I found says the average low temperature for Cape Town is in the 40’s. I guess I will be wearing pants between now and October (and I just pledged that I wouldn’t do it yesterday in celebration that it finally warmed up again here, rats!) and will just have to get over my stigma towards them.
For some reason (and a stupid reason at that) I thought Austria would have perfect weather all summer long since it’s so damn beautiful. Apparently this is not the case. At the Innsbruck trip orientation, a few weeks ago, we were instructed to bring warm clothes because the weather there can be unpredictable. It seems I had forgotten a very important factor while I daydreamed about how beautiful Austria’s weather would be: mountains.
The town is in the mountains. It’s right in the middle of the Alps. I can’t believe I overlooked that, especially because I’ve been in mountainous areas before. It gets cold. Winter is freezing. Summer isn’t, obviously, but it gets chilly and I still classify that as freezing because I can’t really tolerate any temperature under 75 degrees.
I guess I’m worried because we were advised to pack lightly. Usually packing lightly isn’t a huge deal for me. I’m really good at it, actually, minus the toothbrush or socks I’ll forget to throw in my suitcase. I can pack a bag for a weekend in Destin or New York in five minutes. Packing for Utah takes a little longer, because I have to pack anything that can withstand snow (rain boots are actually really good for that).
I feel like packing for Austria is going to be a nightmare. I’ve got to bring my own towel, my school books, and enough clothes for six weeks (I will obviously be washing them). I also have to bring all my prescriptions and any medication I might need since I’ll be in Europe. Apparently Ibuprofen is really hard to get in Europe. I guess I’ll be popular over there because I plan on bringing my bottle with 495 Ibuprofen tablets in it to Austria. You know, for uterus issues.
I have packed for a really long trip before, but it wasn’t as far away or in Europe. Plus I actually goofed and didn’t pack enough warm clothes (apparently winter doesn’t end until July in Massachusetts – at least it felt that way, because it rained the first two weeks) so I had to get my mom to ship me pants and sweaters. I just don’t see how I’ll be packing lightly when I have to account for radical changes in weather. It could get up to the 90s and down to the 40s. I pray to God it won’t get down to the 30s, because that range starts to mess with me. Ice becomes involved in that range.
I don’t exactly plan on sticking to their suggested guidelines, because there is no way I’m bringing two pairs of pants, three pairs of shorts, and one dress to Europe if I’m going to be there for six weeks. That is just not going to fly. I hate pants, so I’m not really concerned about that part, but I’m going to be in other countries! A different continent! I’ve got this huge country and multiple cultures to represent in Europe. I want to look nice for it, you know?
What is the best way to pack for a six-week trip to Europe? Do I need more pairs of pants than I think? How should I dress if I want Europeans to respect me? And should I just not wear that fanny pack of mine anywhere outside of a music festival? It was a hit at Lolla, but will it be appreciated in Vienna or Munich?
Does anybody have good packing advice? I could give you some of my tips in return. All I do is throw some outfits, undergarments, one pair of pajamas, and my toothbrush in a suitcase. What else is good to have in Europe?

New York City bike rides

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Biking through Manhattan is one of my favorite things to do in New York. There are bike paths all over the island, and if you’re brave enough, you can always use the bike lanes in roads to get where you need to go (it actually isn’t that scary at all.) Manhattan has lots of bike shops where you can rent a variety of bikes including single, tandem, racing, and vintage, equipped with bells, baskets, and of course, helmets.
My favorite path runs along the West Side Highway, right next to the Hudson River. On that path, I’ve passed restaurants, Chelsea Piers, bridges, and a naval museum. You can eventually get to Central Park from the path, but you have to ride in the streets for a while – it’s worth it.
These pictures are from a bike trip I took with my family and some friends about a year and a half ago, when we rode from the West Village to Central Park.
At the bike shop in the Village:
Trying out the tricycle:
 Riding:
Taking a pit stop and eating hot dogs in Central Park (Afterwards it started pouring so we raced home and I wrapped my camera up in a bunch of paper so it wouldn’t get destroyed – at least we had fun while we were there!):
 Now of course I am a model student, so it makes complete sense that I still have about 130 words to go before I’m completely finished with this mythology final. I’ve got to go to bed before 3:00 tonight so I’m out. Goodnight!

Gay pool party in the Hamptons

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Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to New York with my sister, dad, stepmom, and our friend Collin. Our friend George, who lives in Chelsea, invited us to his 30th birthday party. The party venue was this house in the Hamptons (I forget which Hampton it was in) that belonged to this really great old gay guy.
The house was incredible, I mean look at it.
I wish I could have gotten a picture of the front of the house, but we were late and it felt weird. But I do think what I have will suffice.

This guy’s pool and yard were incredible too.

The guy that owns the house has all these antiques – even little things like his mother’s ration cards from WWII. He also has tons of vintage clothes that belonged to his mom (that part was a little weird) and he let my sister and me dress up in them and borrow swimsuits – we had no idea this would be a pool party, and we were embarrassingly overdressed (or at least I felt awkward.) I decided that since this guy had wonderful old clothes and such a nice house I should do a sort of pinup photo shoot (I’m no photographer, but I do love taking pictures and telling stories with them and everyone in the city I’m from is obsessed with getting pinup pictures taken. My sister, who is vain as shit, was up for it of course.) Here’s our favorite picture of the batch.
 I got a few shots of my sister messing around with Collin.
 And here I am, making weird faces – I put these up because they showed a bit of the house.