Monday evening notes

St. Vincent's (Los Angeles) I’m taking a short break from rascuache Halloween costumes to get back to my favorite subject: me.

Anthro Man and the fountain of youth
This morning, while killing some time before I needed to go into the office, I stopped by the grocery store across from campus. As I was checking each aisle, I saw a familar face. He looked at me too.

Wait, was it him? Was it really Anthro Man (yes, I know that’s redundant), the guy I had Anthropolgy 12 with back in Fall ’98? I’d sit with Anthro Man and Y during the boring lectures and we’d study for the exams together. I later learned that Y had a little crush on him too, but it was never competitive.

The crush wore off after the class ended, but whenever I’d see Anthro Man he’d always say hi and we’d briefly catch up. It was like that this morning in Ralph’s. Anthro Man gave me the dazzling smile I first was attracted too. He was as handsome he was when we were freshmen nine years ago.

“Hey, I thought you looked familiar,” he greeted me. “Wow, you look the same… you don’t age.”

After we traded updates on our current work/school situations, I wandered off to buy some frozen lunch. A weird idea came to mind. Maybe I looked the same as I did when I was 18 because of the environment. I haven’t left UCLA since I first arrived over nine years ago. Perhaps the aging process is slowed down on campus. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll finally start looking my age when I get away from the Westwood campus.

Speaking of new crush and nicknames
I don’t really have a nickname for the guy I’m seeing. He has a nickname for me, Flor. The story behind that?

C: I don’t really like when people call me Cynthia.
X: I like the name.
C: Well, you can use it… [in Flower, from Bambi voice] “you can call me Flower if you like.”
X: I like that, I’m gonna call you Flower.
C: As in Flower the skunk? Ew.

Gossip girl
I think my life is sort of like Gossip Girl. On Saturday, I had a weird and very awkward experience at a friend’s wedding Mass. Gabby witnessed the encounter and immediately began text messaging the chisme to friends who were not at the wedding.

Halloween on a budget: Cantinflas

Most of the low-budget costume ideas I’ve written about have been geared toward women (or men who want to dress in drag). Here’s one for the guys: the Mexican comedic genius of Mario Moreno’s immortal character, Cantinflas.

What you’ll need for the costume:

  1. Small, beat up hat
  2. White thermal or henley shirt
  3. Red bandanna
  4. Old belt or even some twine to hold up your pants
  5. Loose, dirty and tattered pants (brown, beige or blue); make sure to wear them low
  6. Beat up old shoes
  7. Cigarette
  8. Scruffy facial hair, but make sure you get the moustache right
  9. Brown scrap of fabric to hang over your left shoulder (tie it in a knot or two)

I’m not sure where you’ll find a small hat, but you can always try a second hand store.

If you need inspiration to see how he speaks, walks or acts check out YouTube videos.

Photo by thevid used under Creative Commons license.

Question of the week: Don’t Call Me During…

I don’t watch as much television as Melanism (24 hours!), but do value his taste. We agree on our love for Lost and mourned the demise of Veronica Mars together. I feel like there’s a void on Tuesday nights without Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars.

So far, I’ve only been able to get into one new show Pushing Daisies. I’m behind on The Office because I settled on watching Grey’s Anatomy instead (the television in the living room belongs to my roommate and she likes GA). I tried getting in to Heroes, but I didn’t watch season 1 and don’t really know what’s going on. I just want to catch up so I know what’s going on when Kristen Bell joins the cast next week.

So, don’t call me (not like many people actually call me) during:
9-10: Desperate Housewives
10-11: Brothers & Sisters (didn’t watch last season after the first couple of episodes, but it’s kept my attention so far)

8-9: Pushing Daisies (sooo quoteable)
I tried watching Gossip Girl just for Kristen Bell’s narration, but it doesn’t hold my attention.

8-9: Ugly Betty
9-10: Grey’s Anatomy or The Office

La pregunta: What are you watching?

Halloween on a budget: Antonio & Mirthala

Antonio & Mirthala

Current events (and scandals!) are always ripe sources for Halloween costumes. As a native of LA, I’m much more interested in what the mayor is doing to improve this city rather than who he’s sleeping with. Still, if you want a risqué couples costume with limited effort (and cost), why not be Antonio Villaraigosa and his girlfriend, former Telemundo political reporter, Mirthala Salinas?

Here’s how to do it:

For Villaraigosa:

  • A dark suit with a red or blue tie
  • Spiffy shoes, make sure to get them boleados (shined)
  • Shave off the goatee and/or mustache (sorry for all those Chicanos attached to their goatees)
  • Short hair, it’ll make your ears look bigger
  • A cheesy smile (emphasis on cheesy)
  • NO wedding ring

For Salinas:

  • Spiffy suit in either a dark or light shade
  • Spiffy shoes
  • Long black hair
  • Simple jewelry
  • Telemundo 52 logo printed 4 times in color. Form a box with some cardstock so that it looks like a television reporter’s microphone (for the mic, I suggest borrowing one from a friend who has a karaoke set).

That’s it.

Other things you might want to think about: add a nametag since two people in suits isn’t much of a costume. You can make this a threesome by having a friend dress up Corina Villaraigosa, the mayor’s ex-wife.

Bonus: hide from immigrants’ rights activists at the party or carry around plans for reforming LAUSD in your pocket.

Next up in the low-budget costume series: Cantinflas

Halloween on a budget: Scarecrow

One year for Halloween, my cousin Victor called my mom asking for help to put together a costume. My mom suggested her patented scarecrow costume. It was easy to put together, you’d be sure not to look like the rest of the kids at your school, and you’d be a favorite of the costume contest judges. Victor won an award that year.

Since then my mom, Lori and I have all dressed up as scarecrows. I know there are plenty of ways to put together such a costume, but I’ll stick to the Mosqueda-style scarecrow and add a few pointers on ways to make it a little less PG-13, scarier or cuter.

What you need:

  1. Straw hat; the more beat-up, the better. We had some straw hats from the father/daughter dance in Girl Scouts. I believe the theme for the dance was line dancing.
  2. Jeans or overalls. We always used jeans since we didn’t have overalls.
  3. Flannel or denim. As you can see, we chose flannel. It’ll keep you a little warmer on a cool night out trick-or-treating.
  4. Scraps of fabric with different patterns. These will be the patches you’ll sew on to your jeans and shirt.
  5. Strips of fabric about 3/4 of an inch thick.
  6. Corn husks for tamales. Sew (or glue, tape, staple) strips of the dried corn husks on to the strips of fabric. Sew the strips to the cuffs of your jeans, collar and cuff of your shirt. You’ll want to make it look like the corn husk stuffing for the scarecrow is coming out of the hat and the patches (see photo). And yeah, straw would be more authentic, but using corn husks is more rascuache.
  7. Orange fabric for a jack-o-lantern mask (optional). You can also try a burlap sack as a mask.
  8. Old-looking shoes.

To make your scarecrow gory, just add some fake blood or carry a bloody prop knife. We all know scarecrows can be pretty creepy.

If you want to show some skin and try a more adult look, opt for a short denim skirt or shorts instead of pants. Wear colorful or striped stockings.

Finally, to make your scarecrow cute, you can add some cute face paint (draw on nose, rosy cheeks) or makeup. I skipped the makeup last time I did the scarecrow costume for Halloween ’98, but I still got a compliment from a UCLA cheerleader. That was pretty cool.

Next up in the low-budget costume series: philandering politician and mistress (hmmm, I wonder who that may be).

Halloween on a budget: La Adelita

La Adelita Adrian as Pancho Villa

For Halloween 2001, I dressed up as La Adelita, or a soldadera. An Adelita was a woman soldier who did things like cook and care for wounded as well as fight in the battles of the Mexican Revolution.

After searching online for photos/artistic renditions of soldaderas, I got some inspiration and started to put together my low-budget costume. Here’s what you need (and where I found my stuff):

  1. White ruffled Mexican blouse (you know, the kind waitresses at Mexican restaurants often wear). I found my blouse in the closet where my mom keeps all of our old folklórico trajes (costumes).
  2. Full-length skirt. I borrowed my flower-patterned skirt from my tía Luisa since the “peasant skirt” wasn’t in fashion yet.
  3. Boots. I borrowed ankle-length boots from my mom or tía Luisa. I can’t remember, it was a long time ago.
  4. Rebozo (shawl). I used a rebozo we had stored away with our folklórico costumes.
  5. Bandolier (bullet belt). I bought mine at a costume shop in Westwood. I’ve seen these on sale for $6.99 online.
  6. Dangly gold earrings. Once again, borrowed from my aunt or mom.
  7. Doll of a Mexican baby (optional). I borrowed this from my roommate.
  8. Morral (a woven Mexican bag). Even though you’re dressed as someone in 1910, you still need something to carry around your car keys and lip gloss.

The only cost associated with this costume was buying the bandolier. I braided my hair in two braids rather than leave it long and flowing in the wind as in this painting. I didn’t wear a hat, but you could add a large straw hat to the outfit. You can make the costume PG-13 by wearing the blouse off the shoulder. It’s only PG-13 since your skirt will still be miles longer than the skirts of your fellow female party-goers.

To make this a couples costume, you can have your date go as Pancho Villa or Emiliano Zapata. Last year, my younger brother dressed up as Pancho Villa. He called himself Pancho Vanilla, silly boy.

Now aren’t these costumes of historic Mexican figures much better than these tacky costumes of “Mexicans”?

Next up in the low-budget costume series: scarecrow.

Sueño vetado (dream vetoed)

Just a few links related to the issue of undocumented students in higher education:

  • Univision news filmed a segment at UCLA featuring a friend (hi, Matías!) and the author of the bill, Senator Gil Cedillo. They discussed their reactions to the Governor’s veto of the California DREAM act which would make undocumented students eligible for some forms of financial aid. Check out Matías’ fake walk and mad look.
  • Undocumented immigration isn’t just a Mexican or Central American issue. The OC Register reports on a UCLA grad’s family who were detained by ICE officials after she testified in Washington DC in favor of the federal DREAM Act. It’s not clear that Tam Tran’s advocacy and her family’s detention by ICE officials is connected. Tran, featured in The Invisibles a story on the subject of undocumented students in college, graduated from UCLA last year and has been a vocal advocate of the DREAM Act. Her family fled Vietnam to Germany where she was born. The OC Register and LA Times Magazine story demonstrate the complicated nature of this issue and that’s not just a Mexican or Central American issue.
  • After much soul-searching Xicano Pwr has decided not to support the federal DREAM Act. As it stands right now, undocumented youth can get on that path to citizenship by either attending a postsecondary institution or going to the military. He, and many other anti-war pro-immigrant activists, believe that the only dream that will be accomplished with the federal DREAM Act will be the military’s dream.

There are two DREAM Acts I’ve referred o here. The California one is about financial aid and has no provisions to create a path to citizenship. The federal DREAM Act would create a path to citizenship for undocumented youth who meet certain requirements — such as no criminal record — and have completed two years of postsecondary education or military service.

Halloween on a budget: Frida Kahlo

I’ve never done the Frida Kahlo costume mainly because it’s a pretty popular costume in my social circle. About once a year, I see at least one Frida. At one particular party (see above photo), two friends were dressed as Frida. As you can see, you don’t need to be a woman to do this one.

What you’ll need:

  • A huipil (embroidered Mexican dress or blouse). You can go for something white with lots of lovely embroidered flowers and animals or try a brightly colored blouse with a geometric design. Most Chicanas I know own at least one huipil (either the dress or blouse version). If you don’t, shame on you. Borrow one from a friend.
  • A long, flowy skirt (if you go for the long huipil, you don’t need a skirt). You know those “peasant skirts” that were popular in spring/summer 2005? That would be perfect here.
  • A rebozo (a shawl).
  • Chunky jewelry for your neck, ears and wrists. If you have jade, even better.
  • Flowers. You can pick up some fake flowers at the craft store, or just get fresh flowers from a local store. You should know where to put these. And if you don’t, then shame on you.
  • A unibrow. If you don’t already have one, draw it in with a little eyeliner. Most women I know don’t try to draw in a mustache ’cause we already have a little fuzz there.
  • Bonus accessories: your date as Diego Rivera (or Leon Trotsky), a stuffed monkey on the shoulder, or for a more creepy look try a rod through your torso.

Once you get everything together, just put it on. Consult Frida’s self-portraits or just do your own thing. You can do a twist on it too and paint one side of your face as a calaca and be calaca Frida.

Next up in the low-budget costume series: la Adelita.

LA, you always let me back in

In the middle of last night’s Rilo Kiley concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, I turned to X — a guy pretty unfamiliar with their music — and confessed that the band’s music has helped get me through graduate school. I joked that when I finally get that PhD, I’m gonna dedicate it to Jenny Lewis. I first started listening to Rilo Kiley in fall 2004, when I was making the transition back in to school. It’s been pretty tough since then, but whenever I listened to More Adventurous, The Execution of All Things and Take Offs & Landings I felt instantly calmer, a little happier and a little more hopeful. Their most recent album, Under the Blacklight has a similar feel. To anyone dealing with a tough break up, just list to “Breaking Up” it’ll have you dancing and singing along “feels good to be free…”. Maybe.

At last night’s concert, I didn’t write down the setlist or take photos as I sometimes do when I see one of my favorite bands or singers live. However, I do know they played a lot of songs off their older albums and “I love LA”, which I don’t think is recorded. Thanks to YouTube and people with digital cameras, you can see/hear Jenny Lewis and crew’s ode to their hometown. I didn’t get too many photos either because I was behind a bunch of tall hipsters and couldn’t get a view of the band, but that’s what Flickr is for. Check out this great set.

It was pretty awesome, just as I expected.

Halloween on a budget: La Chilindrina

According to my site statistics, I’ve been getting a lot of people referred to the site after searching Chilindrina costume. I find this funny since I’ve never posted any photos of such a costume or even mentioned it on here.

Of all the costumes to search for, this one should be pretty easy (and inexpensive) to put together. I even wrote a haiku about it:

Low-budget costume:
Pigtails, freckles, sweater, dress
La Chilindrina

Originally published in Puro Pedo Magazine’s February issue along with several other Chicano haiku.

I forgot to include the glasses, bloomers and sneakers, but you get the gist. Dressing up as La Chilindrina for Halloween or any costume party seems to work best as a group or couples costume. After all, la Childindrina without el Chavo del 8, Kiko and crew is just kinda sad.

Next up in the low-budget costume series: Frida Kahlo.

Photo by Nney, used under a Creative Commons license.