totally top five 2k14: bath & beauty

5. Tree Hut Sugar Scrubs

These scrubs smell great, feel great, and make my skin crazy soft. They’re the only scrub I’ve tried that I’ve ever had make a dent in my rough, scaly elbows and yet manage not to irritate or abrade my skin at all. The Italian Mocha smells so good that it kind of makes me furious and it gets even better when it’s sort of mixed/followed/preceded by Philosophy’s Peppermint body wash. I can’t speak to the ~firming properties of the mocha, but it can’t hurt, can it? The Coconut Lime smells like the best sunblock ever and is a very close second to that amazing mocha.

4. Nailtiques Avocado Foot Crème

Had I done a Totally Top 5: 2K13 edition of Bath & Body, this stuff would’ve been at the top of it. We use this so often we just call it “avocado-ing” our feet.

I love this stuff. It’s creamy, it has a great, not subtle, but gentle smell, and it makes my cracked, gross, miserable feet unbelievably soft and happy. I slather it on before bed once or twice a week (slightly more in winter) and put some cotton socks on until I just can’t tolerate them any longer, which is usually about thirty minutes. (People who sleep in socks are an entirely separate species from me. I cannot.) Regular lotion has never helped with my feet. I hate wearing socks and shoes and I spend as much time barefoot as is humanly possible. Winters in North Dakota have changed my habits some — it’s not generally a great idea to walk around without shoes when it’s twenty or thirty below zero, especially outdoors — but they’ve also obliterated any natural moisture my skin has ever had, so this stuff has changed my life. So much less cracked foot pain!1

3. Revlon’s Colorburst Matte Balms

I love lipsticks more than any other cosmetic and they are the only kind of make-up I wear consistently. I like mattes best, the drier and more matte the better2 and I really love these Revlons. They aren’t as dry as I normally like, but they finish very matte and are easy to apply and wearable. I love the range of colors and I love that they’re cheap-ish. They’re long-lasting enough — I usually only have to reapply after I eat — and the color payoff is solid without being thick or sticky. Shameless, Sultry, Striking, and Standout are all excellent. Shameless is my go-to for when I am looking for something dramatic but surprisingly wearable. I love these so much that I’ve even given one of the non-matte version a shot and fallen for Honey, which is totally my Your Lips But Better color. Well done, Revlon. 

2. Bath & Body Works Three-Wick Candles

Okay, so I already wrote about these last year and they’re only barely skirting the Bath & beauty category3 but this year… well, the candles have become A Situation.

That’s the Situation. We have an excessive number of these things — for all seasons! — and we love them an amount that is probably not great for our mental health. My girlfriend blames the problem totally on me, but every time we’re in a place with a Bath & Body Works she’s like, “Hey… Do you want to go sniff some candles?” and I’m not going to lie, it’s like the most romantic thing she says to me.

I’ve got a lot of favorites — we’ve got fourteen candles out right now for winter/Christmas alone — so here’s a mini Totally Top Five for those!

5. ‘Tis the Season – Celebrate the perfect holiday with a festive medley of bright red apples, cinnamon, cloves and deep green pine notes – This is spicy and Christmassy and pretty much like what you’d grab in a Glade candle if you were in the grocery store except better.

4. Marshmallow Fireside – Cozy up by a crackling fire with the warm scent of marshmallows, smoldering woods and vanilla – One of my favorites last year was Fireside, but this year I’ve found it to be a little too smoky for my liking even though it still smells otherwise awesome and Marshmallow Fireside has that nice warm wood fire smell without the smokiness and some added sweetness that never gets overbearing.

3. Sparkling Icicles – A sparkling blend of bergamot, a citrus bouquet and a touch of holiday moss, inspired by ice glittering under the sun – I love this candle. It was one of my absolute favorites last year and I still love it so much. To be fair, I love it partially because it smells like part of California Adventure’s Soarin’ Over California, but also just because it smells clean and wintery with just a hint of citrus.

2. Merry Mistletoe – A flirty and festive blend of cranberries, pears, frosted citrus and a hint of holiday greenery – I’m not sure about flirty, but I most definitely think that Merry Mistletoe is not only festive, but festive-ass. This is like, Christmas without all the cinnamon. Green and bright and lovely.

1. Spiced Apple Toddy – A warming blend of apple brandy and spiced plum, infused with mulled cider and tart cranberry – This smells so good. This one smells so good that when I first got it last year, I pretty much immediately ordered another one during the next 2 for $22 because I am nothing if not a crazed person, constantly terrified that the companies I buy from are going to discontinue the things that I love. It’s really fruity and a little sweet and wonderfully spicy and awesomely Christmassy.

1. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Crys and I first tried out the Mario Badescu stuff because I saw Jaclyn Hill mention the brand in one of her favorites videos and we’ve been really happy with almost everything we’ve tried (Aloe Moisturizer, Acne Cleanser, and Drying Lotion) but I really, really, like 110% LOVE the Glycolic Acid Toner.

I saw Claire Marshall mention it in one of her videos and bought it at the next possible trip to [REDACTED]4. I’ve been using it since the end of October and my skin has NEVER looked better. It’s smoother, it’s brighter, and I haven’t broken out. I’ve had maybe three or four small zits and two of them were in a few days where I missed my toner. The others disappeared within a day and never really developed into anything more than a bump.

I use it in the morning, usually after just splashing my face with warm water5, and then make sure to moisturize thoroughly, which I’d do anyway. A lot of internet tipsters say you don’t need much, just a few drops rubbed in with your fingers, but that method is messy and annoying and I like this stuff enough that I won’t mind buying it again, even if it seems a little soon. I use amazingly soft and fluffy cotton pads from Target from Target, wipe all over with the textured/design side and then wipe again with the smooth side. I swear this stuff might actually be magical and if you haven’t had problems with glycolic acid, I cannot recommend it enough.

Honorable Mentions

Previously: 2K12 | 2K13 | JAMZ | MOVIES

1: My usual remedy for all my dry skin is just to make it worse by scalding it with the hottest water I can tolerate in the shower. It’s the only thing that keeps me going in winter here. Twisted.

2: I wear MAC’s Ruby Woo more often than any other lipstick and I find the wear not only tolerable, but pleasant. Despite Ruby Woo’s popularity, people on the internet and irl seem to find MAC’s retro mattes almost universally unwearable.

3: To be fair, had I a bathtub in which to bathe, I’d be burning these suckers non-stop during the process.

4: There is a store I sort of love that sells both drugstore and high-end brand cosmetics and skincare and bath and body, but they rejected my affiliate application without explanation or even telling me, so you know. Tiny vengeance via redacting.

5: I don’t wash my face in the morning because Salma Hayek told me not to and when Salma Hayek tells you to do or not do something, I think we should listen to her.

totally top five 2k13: stuff

So, like last year, I found myself with a little collection of miscellaneous things that I loved this year that I wanted to share and so I’m throwing ’em all together here for your perusing pleasure!

5. iPhone Apps [lift | daily goals | tody]

Though I am legally and technically an adult — and have been for ten years — I am not great at managing my life. I am really forgetful! And there are just days where I struggle to function for a variety of physical and mental reasons that don’t particularly need to expanded upon. On those days in particular, I am grateful for these three apps, but, really, they’re my every day saviors.

I’ve been using Daily Goals for a really long time now and my goal list has gone through a couple of different iterations and each one has been as useful as the last because the app is so clean and simple and functional. The developer has added some extra functions recently that are nice, but not always functional (the streaks don’t seem to work correctly at all for me?) but I don’t need them anyway, so I don’t really care. I track my every day things in here — vitamins, tooth and skin care, and my selfie-a-day — and it’s nice to be able to scroll through the calendar and see if I’ve missed days.

I’ve been using Tody for quite a long time too and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s a cleaning to do list that actually works and allows you to set tasks and how frequently they ought to be done and it’s all really easy and functional. It’s not the prettiest app in the world, but I don’t care because it does exactly what I need it to do without being fussy or overly complicated.

Lift is a relatively new addition to my system and I really love it. It’s got a community aspect to it that I didn’t care about when I started but have actually found to be kind of motivating. It’s surprising how accomplished a thumbs-up can make you feel! It’s a nice looking app with relative ease of use and functionality. I am not fond of the recent update with the 21 step goal system and wish desperately that there was a way to turn it off; I wish you could create new goals/activities instead of only being able to pull from the ones that already exist — sometimes you just need a really specific goal, you know — and I wish they hadn’t taken the ease of just hitting the checkmark away — you’ve got to hit and save and exit now and it’s pretty silly — but I think it’s a great app despite its flaws.

4. Songza []

Songza is a lot like Pandora except Songza has the magical Musical Concierge which helps you choose the station you want to jam to by letting you pick the activity you want to soundtrack. You can even choose playlists based on moods, decades, or cultures/communities. It’s got minimal ads on mobile — way fewer than Pandora at the very least — though you do sometimes have to sit through one if you choose a favorite playlist rather than choosing through the concierge (which wouldn’t bother me that much except it’s always the same video ad for Mondavi wines which should just be subtitled ‘Boring White People on a Dock’) and I think the variety is solid. Plus, it seems to get new music really quickly, which I only know because new Beyoncé jamz pop up with regularity.

I work out to Performance Enhancing Pop: Running almost every day and go to bed to Psybient or 3am Airport pretty often. The holiday playlists have also been great — I’m particularly fond of Never-Ending Christmas Hits, Cozy Christmas Classics, and Jazz Christmas. I also love the 80s Slow Dance and 90s One-Hit Wonders. I prefer the app to the desktop site because it’s much more streamlined and functional. The site is kind of a mess, frankly, but they do their job regardless and the great, varied playlists are what really matter.

3. Graze & Ipsy [graze | ipsy]

I love Graze. Like, so much. Like, an insane amount. It’s a little subscription box — we get it every two weeks, since mail here can be dodgy — filled with four delicious, healthy snack servings. It rules. We’ve been getting it almost the entire time we’ve lived in North Dakota and I know it’ll be following us wherever we go next. And they’re working on bulk options so I can fill my pantry with all my favorites like the veggie sushi plate, my thai, dark rocky road, and boston baguettes. It’s rare that I don’t like something from Graze and even then it’s usually just because I’m a fussy weirdo that doesn’t like goji berries. Such a good, cheap, fun thing to get in the mail! Plus, if you use the link up there, you get your first and fifth boxes free!

I initally tried Ipsy way back when it was still called GlamBag and ordered it alongside BirchBox to see which I liked better. I wasn’t impressed enough to keep either, but I thought GlamBag was leagues ahead of BirchBox*, so when I was looking into subscriptions again, I decided to give it a newly-renamed second chance. I loved that first bag back and haven’t been disappointed with one since. The bags are so so cute — November and December were particularly cute! — and you get a really decent selection of items. I love the POP Eyeshadow Trio I got this month, the BH Cosmetics Baked Eyeshadow I got last month, and have loved and learned a lot from what I’ve received thus far. For $10 a month, you can’t ask for a lot more.

2. Bobbles [amazon |]

We ordered a couple of Bobbles back in March after I saw my friend Cam raving about them and because even though we like the tap water here, it has a little bit of a weird taste. I grew up on Los Angeles municipal water which is either terrible or the best in the country, depending on who you’re talking to, so I either have really high standards or exceedingly low ones. Either way, we thought it couldn’t hurt to run what we drink through a filter. We loved them so much, we bought two more and they’re the only way we drink water now. They’re particularly nice because the water that comes out of our tap is really cold, so we just drink and refill throughout the day. We both like the Bobble Sport better, since the cap stays attached and we don’t have to hunt them down all the time because we’re forgetful like that.

1. Bath & Body Works Three Wick Candles [spiced apple toddy | sweater weather** | champagne toast | leaves | lemon mint leaf]

I talked about these before at great length and since then, my obsession has only gotten worse. I mean, to the point that I just placed an order about twenty minutes ago so that I could snag some of my favorites to stockpile while they’re super cheap (Use TREAT4YOU for $10 off $40 or WINTERWISHES for 20% off!) during holiday clearance. I mean, it’s so bad that I’m going to have to work out some sort of storage system for them as they go in and out of seasonal usage. I feel like some sort of candle-hoarding monster demon? But it’s kind of worth it to be honest. And since the three-wicks go on sale (2 for $22!) pretty regularly, it’s not too terrible an obsession to have.

My personal favorites thus far are linked up above — Spiced Apple Toddy and Champagne Toast are probably my top two though I haven’t actually burned Champagne Toast yet. It’s part of the seasonal line, but it’s so bright and fruity that I’m saving it for spring/summer where I think it’ll be much more suitable. Spiced Apple Toddy is maybe the best smelling Christmas scent I’ve ever smelled. It’s sweet, but not sugary and tart apple heavy, but it’s got a nice spice that makes it feel super holiday appropriate. Sweater Weather and Leaves are both really close in terms of fall scents, but I think Leaves is suited more for late fall because it’s got an apple base, so it feels a little more holiday-ish/pre-Christmas. Sweater Weather is just unbelievable. And I haven’t burned Lemon Mint Leaf yet, but it smells so good in the jar I want to eat it. So, so pretty. I also love Fireside which is masculine and woodsy without smelling like a campfire.

I recommend only spending the cash on the three-wicks, by the way. The minis and the smalls have, in my experience, burned very poorly and had very little impact scent-wise. Go big or, you know, go home without a candle.

Previously: 2K12 | JAMZ | MOVIES | ALBUMS | TV | BOOKS

*: I cannot emphasize how much I genuinely hated BirchBox. I mean, really, hated it. I opened the box, went through what was in it and went, “I spent ten bucks on garbage!” and I am still angry about it.

**: Amazon links just provided for reference because those scents aren’t currently available on the Bath & Body Works website. I don’t actually think you should spend two or three times what they cost in store. I don’t even think you should pay what they cost in store, to be honest. Wait for sales!

review-ish: bath and body works candles

So, I recently got kind of hooked on watching YouTube videos of, like, make-up how-to people and I guess, like, lifestyle vloggers? And by hooked I mean I watched like four or five which is an outstanding number for someone who normally won’t watch a video longer than thirty seconds, especially when you take into account that a lot of these clock in the 12-15 minutes range. My tv has a built in YouTube app that recommends things to me, I’m powerless against its inscrutable algorithm.

Anyway, these color-coordinated, put-together, spotless-apartment-living, spend-more-on-make-up-in-a-month-than-I-have-in-five-years ladies kept mentioning Bath and Body Works candles. And I guess it sort of stuck in my head and then Crystal and I had to go to an almost-city so she could see her dentist and there’s a Bath and Body Works in the mall there and then the next thing I know I was coming home with eight candles? I think I was drunk. Or maybe lightheaded from sniffing every single candle in the store. Repeatedly.

I like candles! They’re great. I don’t buy a ton, but we do have a mix of real and battery candles scattered around our place. They look pretty cool and all and Crystal is really into this thing where we have a little row of them in mason jars in a windowsill. And we buy the occasional scented candle — I just sent Crystal on a mission to buy one while she was at Walmart the other day in fact — but I’m not, like, crazy about candles. So, you know, I didn’t expect to come home with eight of them.

In our vegetable wax and lead-free wick induced haze, we bought:

Lemon Mint Leaf — Freshly cut lemon balm and spearmint leaves give a refreshing lift to a blend of vetiver and citrus — My girlfriend chose this one because it is eerily close to the basil-lime dish soap we use and love. Haven’t burned it yet, but has a good cold (what I learned on the internet is called) throw. The sales associate said it’s one of the most popular candles in their store. It’s too spring-y to burn now, but come March I think it’s going to be our go-to.

Sweater Weather — Cuddle up with an aromatic blend of eucalyptus, juniper berry, and fresh sage that celebrates the arrival of sweater weather — This is amazing. I smelled this one pretty much as soon as I set foot in the store and came back to it over and over again. We knew we wanted a big fall candle and it came down between this one and Leaves because despite having very different descriptions, they smell incredibly similar, but Sweater Weather just had something that Leaves was missing. I’ll definitely be buying Leaves eventually though.

Harvest Coffee — Relax with this rich, robust blend of roasted coffee beans topped off by creamy vanilla foam — I don’t like coffee at all unless it’s masked with a bucket of milk, sugar, and whipped cream, but I love the smell of it. This one gives off a great smell when it’s unlit, but once it gets warm it is way, way too sweet and caramel-y. I’m not really a sweet candle person (I learned in the Bath and Body Works yesterday) but if you are and you like coffee, you’ll probably love this one.

Bergamot Woods — An aromatic woodsy blend, highlighted by bright bergamot, fresh lavender, and deep green cypress — I love this one, love love love it. Like, can’t stop opening it and sniffing it and worrying about “wasting” it. It’s what fragrance people probably classify as a masculine scent and those are scents to which I am frequently drawn. I see it pop up alongside reviews of Flannel pretty often, but I did not like Flannel at all, so clearly this scent thing is weird and subjective. This has a good burn smell and a good, lingering throw.

Marshmallow Fireside — A sweet-toasty end to a snowy, fun-filled day — toasted marshmallows and sumptuous vanilla cream blend with the comforting aroma of rich smoldering woods — This was Crystal’s pick and I fought her on it in a lazy and unengaged way because I just thought it was way, way too sweet and was being obstinate about it, but now I can’t stop sniffing it. It’s got a nice sweet note that isn’t too cloying and there is that woodsy undertone that I think I was just missing in the store. Looking forward to burning this post-Halloween.*

Sparkling Icicles — As sparkling as the ice at the local skating pond, this fragrance features a citrus bouquet, bergamot, and a touch of holiday moss — Another one I love love love and another fairly masculine scent. I actually picked this one because it smells like the pine forest/river rafting section of Soarin’ Over California at Disney California Adventure and I plan to burn it and listen to the soundtrack and cry a lot. Just kidding. Kind of. Nice and woodsy.

Fresh Balsam — The invigorating aroma of evergreen woods on a clear, fall morning features crisp eucalyptus, fir needles, and cedarwood musk notes — Forget what the official descriptions says about fall, this is straight up Christmas, balsam is the smell of Christmas, and this one hits it just right. Not too woodsy, not too green, and it doesn’t smell like those little green Christmas tree car air fresheners.

Winter — A season full of fun in the snow is captured in notes of pine needles, clementine and winter woods — This one has some of the same initial scent as Sparkling Icicles, but it’s much less masculinely woodsy and much more cinnamon bark and pine. It’s more foody than floral, but not super sweet or sugary. I initially liked Snow Day better, but the more I smelled it, the sweeter it got, so Winter won out.

The big candles are $20. I still can’t get over that because it just seems absurd to me. I looked them up on the internet beforehand and I was like, “No, no way. $20 for a candle?! Who am I, Howard Hughes? I’m not lighting up the Spruce Goose over here!” And then I walked into the store and smelled them and just sort of stumbled from rack to rack, saying, “No, no, these are ridiculous. Twenty dollars!” until my arms were full and Crystal had to check us out and pull me bodily from the premises. To be fair, the little ones were 3 for $12 (3 for $10 online, but their shipping seems outrageous to me.) and that’s not terrible.

My official review is basically this: these things smell pretty great and there was an awesome variety of scents and even if I can’t get over their price — $20 dollars! — they’re pretty much worth it, especially if you’re not burning them all day, every day. Each is strongly scented but not in that chemical, headachy way and two of the three I’ve burned thus far have had an incredible range, smell great after being extinguished, and linger in a super pleasant, not overwhelming way. (And the third just isn’t my favorite personally, a ton of people probably love the crap out of it.) Plus, the labels peel off so easy, like, window-cling easy and if you care about that, you know exactly what a big deal that is.

Just give in and buy some already so we can, like, high-five about it or something. Jeez.

*: I think you should be aware at this point that I’ve been reading the official descriptions of these in Dana Carvey’s Church Lady voice. Important.

dear amc theatres

Dear AMC Theatres,

You and I have a longstanding relationship. A long, longstanding relationship. I’ve been dedicated to your company since the AMC 30 in Covina opened when I was twelve.

Though I had long been a loyal customer of the Edwards West Covina, I abandoned them rapidly after watching my first movie in your new multiplex. Though I was young and subject to the the whims of my peers and caregivers, I always requested shows in your theaters whenever possible and lamented those rare times I did not win.

I have been brand loyal to AMC Theatres for almost fifteen years and I have always been happy with not only the service of your employees but the entire moviegoing experience in your establishment. Your sound is excellent, your screens are large and well-kept, projection was great even before the switch to digital, and your theatres have always been generally well maintained, clean, and comfortable.

When my partner and I moved to Kansas City this summer, we were wildly excited to try out both the Fork and Screen and Cinema Suites viewing experiences you are testing there. They were FABULOUS and those KCMO theaters, even the regular ones, were one of the things we’ve missed most since returning to L.A. They were so well staffed and never failed to give us the perfect movie experience. And we were thrilled to be paying into a local company! And even to see your offices downtown. It’s a JOY to get to support and interact with a company that you love. Especially one with such a solid ranking with the Human Rights Campaign.

While in KCMO people were often aghast that we would pay the high ticket prices for your theatres but my partner and I espoused, time and time again, the merits of the AMC moviegoing experience and the value we saw in it. We hope, often, that the Cinema Suites experience (and the theater quality in general) that we saw in KC will come our way in SoCal.

My partner and I even joined your Stubs program almost immediately after its inception and have found it to be an exceptional deal and have recommended it to all of our friends with similar moviegoing appetites. And though we recently lost ten dollars in rewards due to our forgetfulness, we still renewed today and not just for the free popcorn.

But, guys, you are not without faults. First, you stopped using two of the three concession stands in the theater, but that was okay! It was an understandable cut and never a big deal. Lines weren’t bad, after all.

But then you took away your lax policy on outside food as the country stumbled into the recession. And even though you were attempting to maximize profits on the backs of your consumers and even though it made your one concession line unbearably long, I forgave you anyway because times were hard for your company and I liked you.

Then, you added an IMAX theater! Which seemed great! Except for how it’s a fake one, which, granted, isn’t entirely your fault, but is shitty anyway. And you don’t even tell your customers!

Then you closed more than a third of my theater. MORE THAN A THIRD. You reduced the number of showings in general and began ushering movies out of the theater faster to make room for new releases in your newly limited theaters. This is the very same multiplex that was the 28th most visited in the entire United States in 1999. One of the largest, one of thirteen you list at that size in your entire chain.

When the walls first appeared, we got excited because our theater was edging toward fifteen years old and it was starting to look shabby and tired and we thought it was getting a refresh! And it would be shiny and new. But no, we asked and were told that it just closed. And yet it retains it’s status as AMC 30, when it isn’t at all. And again, you balanced your budget on the backs of your customers.

And then service started to get shitty. Theaters weren’t cleaned and when they were, it was only because someone stood at the base of the stairs trying to rush us out before the credits had rolled. I always sit through the credits, AMC. I haven’t walked out before the absolute end of a movie since I got my license. And your staff have repeatedly attempted to ruin this ritual for me. If it isn’t that, it’s projection errors or doors left open or lights left up well into the start of the movie. And all of these little things continue to degrade the moviegoing experience.

But through all this, we have returned. The prices have risen and risen and risen for both tickets and concessions. And yet we persist. We save, we SCROUNGE so that we can still go to the movies. So that we can SPECIFICALLY go to the AMC where the sound and projection are still usually solid. Where the staff are still relatively competent. We have done Gold Class. We have done ArcLight. But we keep coming back here, not only because it’s close to home, but because it is consistent. But consistency is meaningless when it’s consistently shitty.

This last Sunday, my partner and I got up to go to the earliest show of Wanderlust. We renewed our Stubs membership even though money is tight. And we bought some concessions so that we could have the whole experience. We used to go every Sunday morning as our form of church, but we hadn’t been in quite a long while and we’d really missed it.

My partner stopped at the concession stand while I headed into the theater to grab us seats. It was early in the morning and there was still lots of time before the show, so unlikely to be crowded, but I think this letter is evidence enough that I’m a reasonably particular moviegoer and wanted to make sure we got the right seats. I paused as I walked into the theater and blinked several times because it was so dark I could hardly see where I was going. It was so dim, I even checked to see if I had forgotten to switch my sunglasses for my regular glasses, but I had not. It was just that dark in the theater. It was still playing the pre-movie trivia, but I tripped as I headed up the stairs. The rope lights weren’t even lit.

I found our spot, settled in, and waited for my partner to arrive. She did, also remarking on the dimness of the theater.

Then, you guys played a trailer for that bigot piece of shit Kirk Cameron’s documentary Monumental. And look, I know you play what advertisers pay for. And I get that. And I know that Fathom Events are a thing that AMC does. I’ve gone to a few over the years! But you can’t pride yourself on having that 90 HRC score and then let some bigot piece of shit sell me his stuff. That’s not okay. But I let it go, AMC, because I love you. And our relationship is important to me.

Despite Kirk Cameron’s foul existence, we enjoyed the show and left happy that we’d made the trip. So far so good, AMC.

That’s where it ends though, AMC. Unfortunately, I’d spent the morning with a pretty bad headache and it was 90 degrees out when we got to our car and I was grouchy, GROUCHY. We tried to go get food, but everywhere we wanted to eat was either closed or ridiculously crowded. So, grumpy and dejected, we headed to the pet store to visit some animals up for adoption.

You have to understand me, AMC, we were desperate to cheer up and these puppies were going to help! And this might seem like a tangent, but I hope you’ll soon understand why it’s here.

We got out of the car, SUPER EXCITED to pet some strange dogs, and I turn back to grab my bag and I see, immediately, a HUGE RED SMEAR OF FUCKING CHEWING GUM ON MY SEAT. The beautiful, clean beige cloth seat of my 2010 Honda Insight. Has an enormous smear of someone else’s fucking gum on it. And you know what that means, AMC? MY ASS ALSO HAS AN ENORMOUS SMEAR OF SOMEONE ELSE’S GERMY DISGUSTING CHEWED GUM ON IT.

The only places I had sat down all day, AMC, were my couch at home, my car, and YOUR THEATER SEATS. And one of those places covered me with gum. The USED, CHEWED, GERMY GUM FROM SOME OTHER PERSON’S MOUTH. GUESS WHICH SEAT IT WAS? GO AHEAD, GUESS!

And, okay, AMC, I am SO MAD at the gross person that would do that. I am HORRIFIED that people stick their gum places other than their mouth or a trash can. I DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND GUM. It absolutely is one of the grossest things we do as humans! HOORAY I WILL CHEW THIS WAD OF RUBBERY STUFF FOR A TOO LONG AMOUNT OF TIME. AWESOME. But I still do it, AMC, and I don’t begrudge my fellow gum-chewers their gum. I begrudge them the desire to stick gum where it doesn’t belong and I know that isn’t your fault, AMC. I know that. You can’t control people or what they do with their nasty wads of mouth filth.

But you know what you can control? You can control how fucking clean your theaters are, AMC. You can control how well-lit they are before a show. You can control the environment that you provide to your patrons. Not just your patrons, YOUR CUSTOMERS. The people who pay your bills and pad your profits.

Had the house lights been at the level they were supposed to be, I probably would have seen the HORRIBLE WAD OF GUM awaiting my ass. If your staff had done their job, it wouldn’t have been there in the first place. IF ANYONE WAS DOING THEIR JOB I WOULD NOT HAVE HAD TO SIT IN GUM AND RUIN MY ONLY PAIR OF JEANS. I AM A VERY FAT PERSON, AMC, DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW EXPENSIVE JEANS ARE?!

So, AMC, what do you think happened after I discovered a wad of red gum smeared all over my butt and my previously pristine car seat? I YELLED. I sweared the fuck out of EVERYTHING in the parking lot of that PetSmart. And I got SO ANGRY. And I closed my eyes and I tried not to cry. Because, AMC, do you know how hard it is to get gum out of stuff? Out of anything? Do you understand how expensive it is to get a car detailed? And how you just have to HOPE that gum comes out? Because it doesn’t, not really, not totally ever.

Then I didn’t get to go pet strange puppies and kitties, AMC. You know why? BECAUSE I HAD GUM ALL OVER MY ASS. And not only is that gross and inconvenient and sort of embarrassing if I had any sense of dignity, but also, I had to rush home so I could TRY — let me emphasize that again — TRY to get gum out of my god damn car seat.

So, let’s recap. I am grumpy because I haven’t eaten anything but popcorn. I have a terrible headache. It is 90 degrees in early March. I have GUM ON MY ASS. I have GUM ON MY CAR SEAT. I don’t get to pet puppies or kitties. And now I have to go home and sit on my knees with ice and a butter knife trying to get gum out of my car seat. Then I have to try to do it to my jeans. MY ONLY PAIR OF JEANS.

And AMC, man, I want to blame the person that put the gum there. I do. That person is a big ol’ asshole, plain and simple. And you know what, it’s not your fault at all that I had a headache or that it was hot or that I was in a bad mood and couldn’t get food. Those things are not your problem. But a poorly lit, dirty theater is your fault. My ruined car seat and ruined jeans ARE your fault, AMC, and I blame you wholeheartedly for it. Also, by extension, it is TOTALLY YOUR FAULT, that I didn’t get to hang out with some puppies and kitties. Not cool, AMC, not cool.

I know you had record losses last year, guys. I know. I know the theater business is suffering and suffering badly. There are all these new ways to watch movies at home and it’s hard to compete. But cutting corners and making the moviegoing experience some kind of stripped down joke isn’t the way to win. If I’m going to sit in a filthy pit staffed with people who can’t be fucking bothered to do their jobs? I’d rather stay home. I’d rather wait for stuff to come out on DVD or Blu-Ray or On Demand or HBO or WHATEVER.

This isn’t just about the gum, AMC. (But oh man, is it a LOT about the gum.) It’s about the EXPERIENCE. The service and quality of show we saw in Kansas City was unbelievable. Cinema Suites service was out of this world and we SPENT MONEY because of it. Even the regular shows were wildly enjoyable which meant we went to more shows and were less hesitant about spending money on concessions. I saw ONE cell phone in use in KCMO and an usher was there and telling them to put it away within a minute or so. Here? I have to yell at people. AND I DON’T WANT TO. (I might enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean I want to do it.)

This is about the consistent degradation of a brand I not only respect, but WANT to remain loyal to. A brand I LIKE. AMC, you are making me believe in the idea of brand responsibility and shit! Because the AMC of today is a straight up EMBARRASSMENT to the one I frequented from 1998 to 2005.

This isn’t about free stuff or a wrecked seat or my ONLY PAIR OF JEANS. This is about feeling like I am losing one of my favorite activities in the entire world. I love the moviegoing experience. I LOVE IT. And I think I don’t want to lose the one place that has served it so well for most of my life. My partner and I might be joking when we talk about going to a Sunday morning movie as church, but the metaphor is apt. Your movie houses have been holy places for us. But now I’m starting to worry that we’d be better off worshipping at the altar of our flat screen.

amc theatres

Save our sacred place, AMC. Treat your theaters like the temples they should be and people will want to spend their time and money in them. Save yourselves, AMC. Before it’s too late.


Ash Russell

ETA: After mentioning this post on my Twitter (and a couple of helpful retweets from people I looooooove) I was contacted by Jordan Laine from AMC who put me in contact with Bob Garcia, the GM of my particular AMC. They were apologetic and helpful, though not WILDLY ENTHUSED about helping a bitching customer (which I don’t really blame them for, I guess?!) and Bob offered to pay to have my jeans dry-cleaned, but I declined. (I don’t like dry-cleaning chemicals and my pants were already clean-ish, so.) He tossed me a couple free passes and popcorns, which I GREATLY appreciate even though that’s not at all why I went to the trouble of writing all this. 2500 words and the time it takes to produce them are obviously worth more than $30.

I am amazed by the power of social media in all this. My girlfriend really only uses her Twitter to bitch at brands. It is a thing she enjoys and it works. We’ve had a lot of issues settled because of something she posted online. And this AMC thing was no different. Nothing grabs a brand’s attention more efficiently than bad PR, even on a small scale.

Gratitude for passes and the power of social media aside, I hope AMC considers the greater message here because it’s serious. Because when I posted, I got several @-replies expressing similar sentiments. Because people are not going to go to the movies if the experience isn’t worth it. And because the people that love that experience don’t want to lose it.

my face care situation

okay, so, after an influx of new followers to my tumblr, i got a bunch of nice and not nice anon messages. and this kiiiiind of sounds terrible but someone finally asked me about my skiiiiiin! in the fat chick bingo of my life, “you have such beautiful skin” has been the center square since BIRTH. it’s not quite as good as it looks in pictures and i DO break out (much more frequently as an adult than i did in my youth) but yes, it is clear and i am super grateful that i haven’t had to spend years fighting it like my sister and my bff and stuff.

super old picture is super old

OKAY SO. anon asked what my ~skin care regimen~ is like. and let’s get real. it’s not a regimen. it’s not even regular. i’m an irregular showerer! there are days i don’t leave the house! and i sometimes forget to brush my teeth. i’m gross. let’s establish.

my skin is dry verging on “normal” verging on oily. it is really temperamental when it comes to weather changes. if the air is dry, my skin turns to paper. if the air is damp, it turns into a paula deen recipe. in general, i have dryish cheeks and forehead and a slightly oily upside-down t-zone. but that changes all the time and i generally do not change my skin care products to match because it’ll just change again. my face is like midwestern weather: if it’s being an ass, wait five minutes and it’ll change. that said!


step one: i get some of this soap shit near my person. basis cleaner clean or clinique beauty bar in EXTRA MILD. i have the MOST SENSITIVE SKIN IN THE WORLD. i am allergic to everything (all neutrogena products, most cover girl, lots of eye make-up, almost all traditional deodorant/antiperspirant) and even food allergies manifest on my skin (this is such a common experience that i actually blogged about it once) so i have to be SO CAREFUL about what touches my face. we keep the basis in our shower and the clinique in the cupboard, so the basis only gets used once every other day, really. one out of four face washes. i soap up my hands and smooth the soapy shit over my dry face. no water on my face! because i am lazy. sometimes i use a washcloth instead of my hands if i feel flaky.

step two: get water all over the bathroom trying to splash my face clean. this is why i usually wash my face topless.

step three: dry gently. the single greatest realization about my face was to use a towel that was not the bathroom hand towel. why this took me, like, 24 years to realize is honestly baffling. that hand towel is filthy! and i was just rubbin’ it up and all over my face like it was nothing. i keep a separate towel in the cupboard that i use to dry my moony face for a couple days before i swap it out for a clean one.

step four: maybe apply some of that clinique acne solutions gunk if i am broken out or feel like beasts from the deep are emerging. maybe apply some all about eyes if i want my eyes to look dewey or if my eye area feels REALLY DRY or if i am going to wear eye make-up later which is pretty rare.

step five: squirt some of the jojoba oil into my palm, spread it around between my two hands and gently massage my face all over. up to my hairline and down my neck, sometimes into the boobal region if i got a lot of oil. then i rub the excess into my cuticles/hands and then wash them because i touch my hair too much to leave oil all over my fingers.

step six: there isn’t one.

i only started using jojoba oil in june when i moved to kansas city because i had never lived in high humidity before and my skin was FREAKING OUT. my body skin was like, “feels good, man” and my face was like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!” and putting on lotion was like rubbing olive oil on a stick of butter. jojoba was like a magical revelation of face care. and i do not want to go back to lotion. nevah evah.

SO YEAH THAT IS IT. and sometimes i go days without actually doing this stuff because, i repeat, i’m unemployed and kiiiiiiiiiiind of gross. ALSO, i never ever ever use ANY foundation type make-up on my skin-skin because i hate the way it feels. except on halloween, but that’s it. i am actually that pale in real life. naturally.