Saturday, August 23, 2008

I am woman, hear me whip!

By Lauren Wood

In 1558, Queen Elizabeth I became Queen of England, and led her nation into a golden age (or so says the film.

In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in the United States of America. If you don't know what this amendment says, then go ahead and vote for lace, to your right.

In 1963, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan was published, and those liberated women who read it were encouraged to further liberate themselves, and condescend to their lace-y housewife friends.

Finally, in 2004, Halle Berry became Catwoman. The movie may not have done extraordinarily well in the critical realm, or at the box office, but it reflects a continuation of times that are a-changin' when it comes to women's roles in society.

We no longer must disguise ourselves as bedding in order to entice men (or women, if that's your choice, soul sister!) Women of the 21st century can convey strength, and dominance. Our choice of textiles need not trap us in a delicate netting of traditional gender roles, instead our second skin can be as impenetratable as our spirits and sexual appetites (yes, that's right!), and can tear at flesh when flicked in violence (cue whip noise).

Leather can endure the elements just as easily as it can endure a mosh pit, and so it is a uniform of those who dare to be as tough as tanned animal hide. Cowboys wear leather as they lasso and ride the wild, bucking bulls in the harsh environment of the American Southwest. Punk rockers wear studded leather jackets as they ride the wild, bucking bulls of substance abuse (often both heroin and cocaine!) and sing before the great unwashed swells of violent, misguided youth. Tough New York professionals wear leather accessories as their own quiet reminders of the tough skins they acquire as they face the jungle of the corporate world.

Lace, try as it might to be "deceptively" innocent, simply lacks the wherewithal to endure the world's dangers. It is fragile, intricate, teasing, and pretty. In other words, it is everything women were supposed to be before the dawn of feminism. The women of Dickens, Austen, and Shakespeare all decked themselves in gentle lace, usually in an attempt to ensnare a suitable husband, so that they can lose their identities for the sake of family.

Or so says Betty Friedan, anyway.

Anyway, Catwoman's leather-clad superheroine is strong, enticing, sassy, agile, smart, and yes, sexy. And it's all because of the leather. Or so I gather from the trailer and wikipedia article. I didn't actually see the movie.

So, in the words of another feminist icon, Helen Reddy:

I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.

Hear me whip.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Holier Than Thou


It is the soul and cloak of sensuality. It is delicate; it is coquettish; it is hopelessly and proudly romantic. Provincial and urbane, antique yet ageless, lace is a beautiful and confounding mystery almost as enticing as those who wear it.

Lace is without peer in sophistication and expression. Versatile, joyful, and sheerly pretty, it queens over every false pretender to the great upholstered throne. Cotton is dull, wool impossible, polyester obscene. And leather! Leather is brutal, blunt, and impenetrable; it shouts hostility and self-absorption in the clumsiest way. Leathercladsters do not extend the hand of mercy or drink from the cup of kindness; they have no opportunity to surprise or deviate from the frowning visage their garment cuts out for them.

Lace, on the other hand, is more than a ready-made punk megaphone. It can be dark, certainly, and heartless, icy, and predatory. But it can also be sweet, fitting clean on the hem of girl’s Sunday dress or a grandmother’s hanky. Yellowing and frayed, lace promises nostalgia, history, earl gray tea, the impossible romance of dying refinement. But black and premeditated, it can be a vixen’s miracle. And what greater pleasure can there be than in transforming your grandmother’s nightgown into a weapon of mass destruction?

Leather’s rumored appeal is only a reflection of our masochistic society’s desire for cruelty and dominance, a manifestation of our guiltful self-hatred and bourgeois thirst for direction. Its gross texture and putrid origins can never compare to the precise craft of lovely, lovely lace.

If I did not loathe PETA and object to animal rights as much as I do, I might frame leather as the dark twin of fur, a needless, superficial robbery of life, and point out our absolute piggishness in demanding bestial satiation for our own vain insecurities. But I’d hate to fall in with the wrong crowd there.

Speaking of the wrong crowd, please also take note of the lace-related

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ask a Wood: Tragedy for a New World

Dear "Sandra,"

You are very, very right to believe that your demise is imminent. I'm sure it will come as uplifting news that you need not carry the pressure of trying to find your fault (as it is apparent) or waiting listlessly for ill fortune (as it is precipitate). As anyone with half a brain knows, hubris is the most common hamartia, and you, my friend, are chin-deep in it. In words a plebe like you would understand, this means that the great gum-gobbed shoe of tragedy is already on its way down, and only a deus ex machina could stop it.

 You are blind to the truth of your doubtlessly dissipated family life (just how "little," curiously, are your boys? Is this a genetic inheritance (perhaps you yourself are a "fox" in stature alone?), or is it the result of syphilis or drug use?). You are indecently vain about your corporeal charms, and your "husband," "Ronaldo," has plainly blindsided you in all but the most obvious of arenas. He is probably having multiple affairs with men and women of all social classes; the best you can hope for is that he's not paying for it (or, more aptly, that they're not).

Allow me to help you out. As fine tragedists like Euripides, Shakespeare, and Middleton labored tirelessly (but usually unsuccessfully) to prove, a hubristic downfall is not always entirely predictable, and it is crucial that you have a gameplan. I shall now go about suggesting a number (2) of possible tragic scenerios, and you can decide which sounds like the most fun.

1. You, in your foxiness and desire for revenge on "Ronaldo," begin a torrid affair with one of his brothers, Geraldo and Craig, only to discover that they have been abusing your sons for years with the help of your avuncular priest, hence the boys' crippling syphilis; you contract the same infection from said Craig, dying dramatically in the vestibule at the very moment you hear your husband confessing to said priest that he did, once, plan a liaison with a prostitute, but, out of fear and shame, backed out and passed the reservation off to his brother, and that he has felt guilty ever since Craig fetched the Syph the very same night, and that he wishes his penance to be a life of unfettered service to his wife's whims


2. You, in your vain quest to look a bit less like a fox and more like, say, a Brazilian fox, decide to have every hair plucked from your body; the resulting pain forces you to use your societal connections to acquire an under-the-counter prescription of Oxycontin; your drug-thirsty son, finding the stash, overdoses and dies, after which your bereaved husband subtly poisons you, only to marry a young, fearlessly furred fox in less than three months, commenting all the while that he has always preferred more "natural" women.

I personally recommend Option 1. 2 just sounds heinous.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A question for Caroline...

Anxious (surely) Readers,

I have sifted through the multitude of troubles provided in your many, many e-mails. Unfortunately, none were sufficient. You all must try harder to be pathetic and interesting. A difficult balance indeed, but if you dream you can achieve!

Take the following as an example. A very delightful woman managed to catch my attention, and I think that none but Caroline Wood can assist.

Dear Miss Wood,

Help! My name is "Sandra," and I am a very happy woman in the prime of my life. I have a wonderful husband, "Ronaldo," and two lovely little boys. I enjoy healthy relationships with my family and friends, and (if I do say so myself) I am quite a fox (still!) My one crippling concern is that something must give. Perhaps I read too many tragic novels, perhaps I am a paranoid schizophrenic, but regardless, I am concerned that in a minute my world will collapse. Will it now?...Or maybe just the next time I walk outside? Will you help me feel content in my life, or at least realize some flaws so I don't have to wait for a shoe to drop?


P.S. I don't mean to say that I'm perfect, of course...Just ideal. Oh dear, am I sounding conceited? I don't mean to sound conceited. Oh, do help, please!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear Despondent "Don,"

Welcome to Ask a Wood! (tentative title), the new monthly segment of friendly advice from Caroline and Lauren Wood. Today, I'll be addressing the query posted to us (quite anonymously) from a fellow called "Don." If you'll remember from Caroline's previous post, in which she so graciously forwarded his plight, "Don" has a thing for staples, and a fledgling romance. Will he be able to reconcile the two? Read on!

First, though, I should like to invite anyone and everyone to write in to Wood vs. Wood at No real problems please, we just don't care.

So, "Don," I am so very sympathetic to your problems!

You should know that you are by no means alone in your specific brand of fastenerphilia. Remember Stephen Root's brave performance in Office Space, or that of Mackenzie Crook in the (far superior) British version of the television series, The Office. Which reminds me, do you work with an idiotic boss?

But I digress. Given my finite knowledge of your life and personality, I think I can say with absolute confidence that the staples are the problem in your burgeoning relationship (I'm a bit psychic).

You see, your "Deena" sees your fascination with these toothed tools of togetherness, and understands that this stems from a psychological need to attach (this is also evident in your dedication to your beard). While your other acquaintances only recognize your undue interest as a simple quirk, this potential Romantic Interest reads the deeper implications, and is therefore intimidated by your commitment to keeping papers (or wounds) together. She knows that you'll work tooth and nail to keep her attached to you, and that's enough to scare anyone!

My advice: Give her time. It's highly likely that she'll soon meet, date, and be mercilessly dumped by some good-looking cad, and your commitment to fastening will suddenly become the sexiest trait to ever grace her cubicle. As for you, Darling "Don," you adorably wayward Random Gentle Love Dreamer, staple on! without fear of judgment or censorship. It is cute!

Just don't hurt anyone, and especially not "Deena."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Attention Querents Everywhere!

Feisty Readers:
Due to our overwhelming catalogue of life experiences, Wood vs. Wood has decided to add a monthly advice column for readers and friends seeking life direction. Our first query comes from a troubled young man whom I believe you will all find very endearing. I think we can all agree that it clearly falls into Lauren's category of expertise.

Dear Miss Wood:
I am twenty-eight year-old Random Gentle Love Dreamer called “Don,” I have a uncontrollable obsession with staples, any kind of staples, anywhere, most people consider this a cute personality quirk, my new romantic love interest Random Brutal Love Master “Deena,” seems to avoid me, I am wondering if staples are involved, or maybe my beard is ? Do you think there's a social problem, what’s to be done.

P.S. Please do not bring up “staple remover” in your answer, as it causes me grief.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Yes, let them. It serves them right.

By Caroline Wood

Strawberry Shortcake is corrupting our youth.

As many of you know, I am neither an alarmist, nor an over-reactor; nor am I a weak, passionate girleen ferried to lunacy on the critically flooding stream of her own emotions.

That is all, in fact, untrue. But like any concerned, slightly bored citizen, I bear the duty of proclaiming when our nation is in trouble, and perhaps even filming a major cable news network documentary about it. Although I am still finalizing the rights to “Strawberry Thwartcake: Putting our Children’s Conscience in a Diabetic Coma,” my heartfelt message of condemnation will never be negotiated.

“Strawberry Shortcake” does not meet even one of the most basic key Educational Enrichment Video requirements: it features no clergy, no extended families, and no chastening rod. Strawberry herself is a pampered, bratty loser. Innocent? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately, the Shortcake debacle, though sobering, is only one example of a self-evident trend: cake is simply getting out of hand.

Back in the 90’s, when the cacophonous minstrels known as “CAKE” were releasing such aberrations as their notorious cover of “I Will Survive,” we said it could do us no harm to turn a blind eye to the cultural crises this diabolical treat was bringing upon us. Since then, things seem to have
only gotten worse, what with the advent of “diaper cakes” (right), The Cheesecake Factory, and the equally cacophonous band “The Sea and Cake.” And yet as we consider history, it becomes increasingly clear that cake’s pernicious influence is nothing new. It is no surprise that “Let them eat cake!” has become the tagline of ruthless and self-centered rulers throughout history.

It would certainly not be difficult to opt for pie out of our own selfish motives. It’s hard not to cave to crisp, flaky crusts, steaming, juicy fruits, and velvety smooth custards (chocolate cream, I must point out, is no “fruit mixture”). Many of our personal favorite gourmands prefer a dessert that actually imparts a distinct, recognizable flavor, a baked good you can eat warm with ice cream while still maintaining your identity as a self-respecting adult.

Boycott cake today. You could easily do it for yourself. But please, do it for your progeny.

For more on the horrors of cake, please visit (Warning! Only for the brave of heart! (sorry)).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Let them eat cake!

By Lauren Wood

Cake is the pizza of sweets.

Not only is it popular and easily accessible to anyone with an oven and some flour, its ability to bring people together is unrivaled. The circular nature, while not particular to the cake, naturally calls for congregation and camaraderie, as celebrants of a birthday bask eagerly in the candlelight waiting for their piece. Those who do not like the icing can scrape it off the top, and those who do not like the filling can pick it out, but everyone will eat, and eat plenty as the jubilation continues.

And let them, I say.

Pies are grand, of course, and a classic symbol of Americana. But they are limited. A pie is merely a pastry filled with some sort of fruit or fruit mix. If one does not like the filling, they are doomed. Unless of course there is a cake around. Also, pies have no potential for growth. No pie can be stacked upon another, while cakes can expand toward infinity. And while the circular properties of cake create unity and friendship, when picnic-goers look down and see a sweaty, soggy pie, the only looks received are those of malice, competition, despondency, or possessiveness. Pies are simply too small.

With cake, the possibilities are endless. Not only can you add layer after layer after sweet, sweet layer, but you can decorate your cake however you like. If it is your blog-mate's birthday, you can scribble out "Happy Birthday Caroline!" in scarlet icing, dotting i's with goldfish and adding sugary profiles of Hamilton and Burr. Icing will simply not work on pie. Indeed, it would interfere with the charming little lattice pattern that adorns the most adorable of pies. You can not personalize a pie, or stick candles in it, so as to mark Grandpa Freddy's seventieth.

In short, nothing spells out celebration quite like a cake.

This has been a rather difficult entry for me, since I am having a rather difficult time stretching out the fact that cakes are simply tastier. Suffice it to say, Caroline Wood did not prepare a pie for my birthday last month.

And it was tasty.

P.S. Stay tuned for big changes and shiny new developments from the Woods! Coming soon: an advice segment, arguments without premeditation, and the highly anticipated fiction vs. poetry debate!