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10.19.2014

10 Reasons Why the Bathroom is the Scariest Room in the House


10 Reasons Why the Bathroom is the Scariest Room in the House

  1. you're usually alone
  2. you're often naked and vulnerable
  3. it is the one room in the house where it is acceptable to have a lack windows or adequate emergency exits
  4. said lack of windows = potential for pitch black horror horror oh the horror
  5. toilets = a pipeline to unlimited sewer gremlins that will bite your butt
  6. mirrors = a gateway to hell
  7. showers and face washings force you to close your eyes for periods of time
  8. showers are humid, claustrophobia-inducing closets with great potential for "accidental" neck breaking
  9. running water provides the perfect white noise for masking poltergeists
  10. sometimes spiders crawl back up the drain
I wrote this immediately after showering immediately after watching The Conjuring.

Happy Halloween


10.06.2014

Dr. Bronner's Review - The Acne Experiment

Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Review :: The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

Dr. Bronner's is known equally for its purity as it is for the nonsensical cult-y stuff written on every bottle. It's sold in both bar and liquid form, but is most frequently used as a liquid. In the bottle, it looks like a diluted version of transparent face wash or hand soap, but in reality it's a completely different product.

Dr. Bronner's is distinct from other liquid cleansers because it is pure castile soap. What this means is that it is made of "saponified" plant-based fats and oils (fatty acids), whereas most liquid face washes are made from synthetic detergents. Without those synthetic detergents, face wash does not have its trademark soapy suds.

This idea of synthetic vs natural is a big reason why a lot of people opt for real soap. Most face washes contain synthetic detergents called "sulfates" are thought to be triggers for a whole host of skin disorders including psoriasis, perioral dermatitis (POD), acne, eczema, and even canker sores (sulfates are in toothpaste too).

While I do not think sulfates trigger my specific kind of acne, I do think it is has something to do with a different skin condition: the fine rash I've had on my chin for almost two years. When it comes to conventional medicine, Perioral Dermatitis does not come with many treatment options. POD is often treated with antibiotics, but after the infamous ass-zit incident, I will never go near them again.

Yes, it is embarrassing to share this with the world, but it would be hard to explain what I learned and how I Iearned it without sharing this humiliating history.*

In an attempt to fix my lumpen POD chin without conventional medicine, I went sulfate free with my skin, mouth, and hair products. When I started The Acne Experiment, I found some articles touting Dr. Bronner's soap as a good face wash for keeping POD, and acne, in check. I'm ready to start living the rest of my life. Inside everyone is a loser afraid to be loved, and out there is that one product that can make it all better.**

Ingredients:
  • Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby Mild Soap (Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol)
Method:
  1. Rinse face with water
  2. Take 3-4 drops of Dr. Bronner's and lather all over wet face.
  3. Rinse face with water.
  4. Dry face lightly via towel-dabbling, like they do in face wash commercials.
  5. Repeat once per day in the evenings.
Conclusions:
For the first few days, I was surprised by how soft my skin was. It didn't feel tight or dry, which is what I expected based on the face-wash lobby's propaganda that natural soap is more irritating than synthetic detergents.

On the morning of day 4, I discover some redness, but I ignore it. My face's soul-mate couldn't possibly be doing this to me. By the afternoon, I confirm that there are little bumps all over my forehead. This experiment is over. (*runs into the bathroom, hysterically crying*)

Dr Bronner's and Acne :: Crappy Candle
this is bullshit.

Okay, maybe the face-wash lobby was onto something here. Soap on its own is very alkaline (basic), but Dr. Bronner's soap's pH level is brought down to a more neutral state by the addition of citric acid. Unfortunately, the face's natural state is not neutral; it is acidic. I messed with the pH of my skin and then exposed it to potentially pore-clogging oils (coconut and olive oil are very pore cloggy). This means that, no--I'm sorry--I'm not trying that bar of African Black Soap I bought a few weeks ago. It's a shame because African Black Soap was totally my back-up plan.***

I switched back to the Aztec Healing Clay/ACV for the remainder of the week. I'm going to keep using it until my skin calms down.

Dr. Bronners for POD/Acne Before and After :: The Acne Experiment

Dr. Bronners Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
    You'll notice I have a ripe zit on my cheek in the upper right photo. Cheek zits = danger (I almost never get cheek acne).

PS: Before anyone tries to tell me my face was "purging," let me say this: Purging is a load of crap. Even if I discount my gut feeling, i.e. allowing my skin to "get worse before it gets better" is inherently sadistic, I've learned that it actually is a load of crap.

Well, except for purging related to AHA/BHA or retinol use, which will only result in distinct non-inflamed "purging" in the areas you normally break out in. The angry zits that pop up after using normal oils, soaps, and serums are essentially your face telling you to knock it off; breakouts in non-normal areas, or pimples that re-occur more than two months following the introduction of any product means your skin doesn't like a specific ingredient. So quit being a bunch of sadists, sadists.

Next Up: Tea Tree Oil (review coming soon)

--

*/**Parts of this monologue may or may not have been lifted from Never Been Kissed.

***We told each other we would meet at the top of the Empire State Building when we turned 32 if we were still unattached.

Does Dr. Bronner's Cure Acne? :: The Acne Experiment


10.02.2014

Bossypants - Book Reviews 2014

Bossypants - Book Reviews 2014 :: Crappy Candle


I had the most productive day of my life on Sunday. I completed a proofing assignment, I put time in with my normal day job, I wrote a blog post, and I finished reading Tina Fey's Bossypants. I am the king of this bed-desk. One might even say that I'm the Tina Fey of 31 year olds that live with their parents in the suburbs and have a meltdown every time they have to leave the house.

I'm not sure why it took me 4 years to finally pick up this book. I take that back, it's because I suck at reading. If I had a crystal ball, I'd know that I would build up enough momentum getting through Beloved to slip through Bossypants like one of those sea cucumber toys through the poorly-coordinated hands of a child. If I had it to do over, I would do it exactly like this. Reading Beloved made me feel like an stoic robot with sausages for hands and reading Bossypants made me feel like I could have a non-meltdown house outing and use awkward metaphors consistently. The Beloved-Bossypants punch is a confidence building exercise that I cannot recommend highly enough.

And what of the book? I will freely and shamelessly admit that Bossypants is the second memoir I have ever read. The first was Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns), which while quite lovely, had a really long title that lazy sausage hands have problems typing. There will be some similarities between the two books because both authors are highly successful female comedy writers/actresses whom have lived in New York. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. All "funny women" are equally non-funny, afterall.

Gender and comedy aside -- because that's a whole 'nother issue amirite guys -- Fey's and Kaling's books share a similar sarcastic/self deprecating/crass tone that make both books delightful and personable. Fey's book pulls out ahead of Kaling's because she makes the reader simultaneously feel like an equal and a loser at life. Like maybe Tina Fey would hate you if she met you. She brings you into her world, shows you how real and normal she is, but then reminds you she's Tina Fey.

Tina Fey is an intimidating woman, not only because of her intelligence and life achievements, but because she is not a sugar coater. I think of how both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler handled that Taylor Swift "There's A Special Place in Hell" debacle, and remember the key difference between the two woman: Amy Poehler would pet your head and feed you ice cream while sob about a hang nail, and Tina Fey would slap your face* and tell you to get the fuck over it.

Bossypants is a reminder of Fey's rawness. She not going to butter up terrible celebrities or terrible politicians, she will punt chauvinistic men to the moon, and you kids need to sack up, because it's a tough world out there, babies.

Tina Fey on Children and Parenting :: Bossypants Review

It's this same lack of pretense and unfiltered honesty that allows the reader to connect with Tina Fey in a real, mind-meld-y kind of way. For example:

Giant Back Zit :: Tina Fey - Bossypants
I made a similar bargain, but I was 27 at the time.
And this:

Ball of Fingers :: Tina Fey - Bossypants
It's a palpable fear for any woman over the age of 30.

I'll take it one further: I'm certain Tina Fey would want to take me on as her stoic robot mentee if she ever met me in real life because we are so similar. We both have brown hair. We both are part German and part Mediterraneanish. We both think Improv is a cult. We both want more ugly people on TV. We have the same sunglasses... Replace my love of dogs with her love of human dogs children, and we are the same.

This is the beauty of Bossypants. Tina Fey succeeds in making the reader feel like a friend. Comedy isn't good unless the audience has a connection to it, and Tina Fey is remarkably human. The fervor of her spirit and the eloquence of her words will echo in our collective subconscious for years to come.

Bossypants Word Collage :: Tina Feyisms

So were all the jokes hits? No. Some were predictable, perhaps even not funny.** Bossypants is not a perfect book, but I wasn't expecting perfection. I was expecting a light read, in true Tina Fey fashion, that would allow for some audible chortling from time to time. That's exactly what I got.
Optimal Reading Situation: At your bed-desk, in a body you have not washed in 36 hours.
Optimal Reading Snack: An entire Costco-sized box of snack bags of Pirates Booty.
Optimal Reading Followup: Buy one of those sea cucumbers for yourself. You're worth it.
--

*Yeah, maybe she won't slap you, but I'm certain her words would feel like metaphorical slap to stupid whining face.

**If you find me dead tomorrow, know that I was struck down by Tina Fey, God of Thunder.

This review is from my Summer Book Club series. 

9.29.2014

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Review - The Acne Experiment

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Review :: The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

I started phase 2 of the Acne Experiment with an old standby: Aztec Healing Clay. Ahem, I mean Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. I assume the "secret" part is that it's essentially dirt, and the joke's on you for being clueless all these years because this shit is super cheap. Up yours, virtually every other clay mask on the market.

I've used Aztec Healing Clay before, but this time around I opted for a slightly different (ie milder) method to avoid excessive face dryness and irritation.

Ingredients:
  • Bentonite Clay (Aztec Healing Clay is 100% Bentonite)
  • Raw, Unfiltered, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar aka "ACV" (TJoes)
  • Water

Method:
  1. Rinse face with water, pat dry.
  2. Mix 1 Tbsp clay + ~3/4 Tbsp ACV + ~1/4 Tbsp water in a glass or plastic bowl.
  3. Apply to face.
  4. Wait for magic to happen.

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Applied :: The Acne Experiment

Letting the Clay Mask Dry :: The Acne Experiment

Clay Mask Dried Up :: The Acne Experiment

Clay Mask Sucking Out My Life Energy :: The Acne Experiment

Clay Mask Depositing New Life Energy :: The Acne Experiment

aw yes

itsa hard knock life for us

hardly ask the wife for much

steada missus we get this

whata little swiddly tit

itsa a hard knock life

Conclusions:
Loads of FUN. I got to put mud pies on my face and it was divine. My acne is gone. My scars are gone. My hyper-pigmentation is gone. My skin is gone. Peeled right off like 10 day old nail polish.

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
Week 0 = before The Acne Experiment ; Week 4 = after the "No Face Wash" month ; Week 5 = After 1 week of Clay Masks

Sorry to disappoint. This was a one week experiment. Nothing gets rid of skin problems that fast unless you lose your sight in a one week long degenerative eye disease. I did see note some improvements on my chin and forehead though. It was subtle, and probably something only I would notice.

Aztec Healing Clay Mask Before and After :: The Acne Experiment
It made my lips softer and more pigmented too!
I'm such a dick. It's lip balm.

In the past, I have mixed this mask with only ACV and left it on for 45 minutes. This left my skin a little dry, so I opted for a shorter application time (20 minutes) and diluted formula (~ 1:4 ratio of water to ACV). I did not feel dried out after using it this way. I also discovered that a warm washcloth is very helpful for getting the mask off. I'm not sure why it took me 30 years to discover washclothes. They are my favorite beauty product of 2014.

I'm still not using any face wash (the "Ingredients" above are the only thing that touched my face this week besides my clammy hands and sweaty bangs). While I don't feel like I need to wash my face while using the mask, I will need something when I start wearing makeup again, and it pains my lazy sensibilities to put a mask on every night. As fun as it is to avoid facial expressions* and speak through my teeth for 20 minutes, I don't particularly want to deal with it while traveling either. I'm trying a straight up, portable soap next. Wish me luck.

Next Up:
Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Pure Castile Soap

--

*The facial expressions I used in the photos above were incredibly painful, and I think I burst a blood vessel in my eye. Do not do this unless you are a professional.


Aztec Healing Clay Mask for Acne :: Crappy Candle



9.22.2014

I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month - The Acne Experiment

What Happens When You Don't Wash Your Face For a Month | The Acne Experiment
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

HI EVERYBODY. I've completed phase one of The Acne Experiment which means I haven't washed my face for 4 weeks. I haven't worn makeup - aside from one day when I broke down and wore red lipstick - and I haven't used anything outside of a washcloth and water on my face skin.

In summary, I've decided I'm onto a new trend: The Paleo-Face-Diet™. It's a glorious water scrub, like the cavemen used to do. I'm going to move to Malibu and open a day spa that only sells washcloths and terracotta jugs of water from local, sustainable streams. I'm going to be a millionaire.

Yeah no. Here's what really happened:

Week 0Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
  • Week 0 - For the first few days my skin decided to be a whiney teenager. I distinctly remember it telling me to "suck on some excess oil, you hag."
  • Week 0.5 - My skin understands I'm not going to cave and is regulating itself. The oil is still there, but I don't look oily anymore.
  • Week 1 - I've realized that not washing my face isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It takes me 5 minutes to get ready in the morning, and 2 minutes to get ready to go to bed. This is what it's like to be a man.
  • Week 2 - I've realized that simply not washing my face is not going to be enough to rid me of all the acne. Dammit.
  • Week 3 - I am ready for this experiment to be over. I miss my creams and salves and gels.
  • Week 4 - My face smells like the sidewalk after it rains.
I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month (Before and After) | The Acne Experiment
For some extra fun, stare at the top center of this photo, right at "The Acne Experiment" text. Let your eyes lose focus and my two faces will start looking like Mr. Bean.

Conclusions:

I never thought not washing my face was going to completely clear my acne, even if I secretly hoped it would. This month was meant to provide me with a control group. The slight improvement was gravy. In general though, my skin is neither better nor worse, which means either: a) the stuff I was using isn't doing anything -or- b) anything it is doing is counteracted by the irritation it's causing. I do, however, notice less redness on my chin which I attribute to the products I wasn't putting on it. Less irritation = less chin mess, apparently.

I surmise that most of my chin redness is Perioral Dermatitis related.

Aside from the changes I saw in my skin, this month was a learning experience. I now have a real, tangible confirmation that I should only wash my face once a day. Multiple washings and/or using harsh cleansers will strip the face of oil. The skin will then produce even more oil to compensate. Also, not being able to use any products drastically reduced my urge to touch my face. I knew that I couldn't treat my skin with anything, and I knew I wouldn't be able to cover up any mess I made with makeup. 

Lastly, I am proud to say that I know what it's like to be a man now. This whole "Acne Experiment" thing started because my husband suggested that I stop using all products on my face to see what happens. Like many men, he almost never uses cleanser on his face, and of course he gets maybe one zit a year. So, scratch that, I know what it's like to be a man who has acne.

Next Steps:

The Acne Experiment - Phase 2 is where I test out various products to see what agrees with my skin and what doesn't. If you didn't read the "Zit Creams in Review" post, you missed the part where I reviewed all the products I've tried in the past. I'm not going to paraphrase here because I refuse to do your homework for you. Shame on you. (Shame on me. You can read it here.)

Ideally, I'd like to have a limited ingredient, relatively natural skincare regimen, which means things like Retin-A and other prescription topicals/pills are out. I plan to spend approximately one week on each product, but it depends on how my skin reacts to everything; I may have to spend more or less time on certain products. I'll post a review of everything I try.

Here's My Wishlist:

Aztec Healing Clay Mask*
Dr. Bronners Soap*
Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)*
Tea Tree Oil* (review coming soon)
Jojoba Oil*
African Black Soap*
Vitamin C Serum*
Glycolic Acid*
Rosehip Seed Oil
Hemp Oil
Jane Iredale Magic Mitt* (review coming soon)
A Cleansing Brush
Meow Cosmetics Mineral Makeup* (review and swatches coming soon)

I have in my possession each of the asterisked products. They're sitting on my vanity right now. The Dr. Bronners is preaching nonsense at the African Black Soap and the oils are baring their teeth at me.

I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month | The Acne Experiment


9.15.2014

Beloved - Book Reviews 2014

Beloved - Book Reviews 2014 | Crappy Candle
by Toni Morrison

Every time I planned to read Beloved, I managed to find something else to do beforehand. Perhaps I needed to find some vintage rings I could not buy, or maybe I needed to check my website stats for the fifth time that day, and come now, Dawson's Creek won't watch itself. I am also proud to say that I procrastinated for a whole hour and a half before sitting down to write this review.*

I realize I did this because reading Beloved felt like a school assignment.

Yes yes, I'm feeling guilty about this. I really wanted to devour this book. I know Beloved is a classic. It's an important piece of fiction because it gives us an insight into the real horrors of slavery and the on-going horror of post-slavery America for black citizens of our country. Oh it's heavy:

Beloved Quote - Toni Morrison

I'd like to say that Beloved felt like a literary gift, as if Morrison wept golden tears from heaven then covered them in honey and wildflowers and delivered them to us lowly mortals in book form. In reality, Beloved felt like a chore.

Unlike most of the tripe I feed my brain, Beloved is straight up Literature. Toni Morrison's legendary book is dripping with poetry, elaborate metaphors, and elegant allusions. It melds unimaginable beauty with unimaginable ugliness and touches on the experience of African Americans through the Civil War and over three generations. Every line of Morrison's seminal novel feels like a verse of a poem, all while effortlessly intertwining the authentic dialect and vernacular of the people of this era.

All this results in a story that is dense and difficult to navigate for a casual reader, inexperienced in the ways of this kind of prose. It took effort to amp myself up enough to read Beloved because it took serious energy to digest each page. Perhaps I'm not an advanced enough reader to delight in a book like Beloved. Maybe poetic language just isn't my cup of tea, but I don't think I missed out on anything because of this.

Beloved wasn't a page-turner because it wasn't intended to be one. There are lots of hidden bits in this book, and I could see how one would want to read multiple times. There is no devouring going on here. Beloved is meant to be eaten slowly so you can reflect on each bite. If you are a contemplative reader, Beloved is a rich read.

Random thoughts (*spoilers* here):

  1. Throughout the story, I had nothing but the most sympathy for Sethe. I couldn't wrap my head around why everyone hated her so much. Is it because she's got a holier-than-thou attitude? Is it because she killed her baby? Geez people. Cut the woman some slack. 
  2. Okay, is it because Oprah ended up playing her in the movie, so you were picturing Oprah in your head the whole time? 
  3. At one point, I misread a paragraph and thought Sethe had literally never escaped from Sweet Home and had a mental break, making her entire life of freedom an elaborate fantasy. I was in shock for a good 5 minutes before I came to my senses and realized that modern cinema has completely warped my fiction expectations.
  4. I can't imagine how much work would have to go into writing a novel like this. To gather a knowledge of the era, the language, the customs, and then weave together such an intricate story. I tip my hat to you, Toni Morrison.
  5. I suppose you don't need my hat-tipping, you Pulitzer Prize Laureate you.
  6. If I make a collage of my favorite quotes, do I get extra credit?

Beloved Quote Collage | Crappy Candle

Optimal Reading Situation: The softest most luxurious spot in your house. Light a candle or something.
Optimal Reading Snack: A cup of coffee mixed with melted ice cream topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup drizzle, and crumbled Heath Bar bits.
Optimal Reading Followup: I need a nap.
--

*You don't even want to know how many times I consulted a thesaurus while writing this review.

This review is from my Summer Book Club series. 

Next up: Bossypants by Tina Fey




9.08.2014

Zit Creams in Review - The Acne Experiment

All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

In honor of The Acne Experiment, I've decided to post a retrospective and review each and every product I've used to treat acne, Perioral Dermatitis, and/or whatever has been happening on my face over the last 15 years. Memories are what keep us wise, memories of our youth keep us young, and memories of our zits keep us inflamed.

Benzoyl Peroxide
My first memories of zit creams involve giant generic tubes of Benzoyl Peroxide I'd buy from the pharmacist. I upped my dosage while working at Islands the summer after my first year of college. My face dried up like a husk. I remember thinking it would be a good idea to explain my cracked face to my manager, a 40-something Orange County dude-bro. I remember him visibly recoiling. I remember never using Benzoyl Peroxide again.

Salicylic Acid
You're a good egg Salicylic Acid. You're a far superior spot treatment than your cousin Benzoyl Peroxide. You can tell him I said that too.

Various Neutrogena Products
In high school hoped Neutrogena would turn me into an all American white girl like the ones in the commercials. Instead, I looked into the mirror and saw brown skin and a big honking nose. Adolescent self esteem, ain't she a bitch.

Various Dermalogica Products
It's Neutrogena for rich people.

Cetaphil Facewash
Did you know Cetaphil contains Parabens and Sulfates? That's not gentle! Cetaphil is a liar. LIAR! LIAAAR.

Witch Hazel
Get back witch. (you smell kinda stanky.)

Retin-A
Retin-A was my go-to for about 7 years. It was probably the best acne product I've ever used. Unfortunately, it stopped working as well in recent years. I completely cut it out because of a (irrational) fear that it was damaging my gametes.

Glycolic Acid
Glycolic Acid is a recent development for me. I started using it about 2 years ago and gradually had it replace my Retin-A. I don't know how much Glycolic Acid helped the acne, but it smoothed the shit out of my face. Devita is my jam.

Proactiv
Fuck you Proactiv and the Adam Levine you road in on.

Oral Antibiotics (Doxycycline)
They should put this on the bottle: "Zit pills for people that are too weenie-ish for Accutane, oh and honey, it is a only like 10% as effective." Doxycycline was supposed to be a magic pill that cleared up my face, even if only temporarily. Instead I got 30 zits... on my ass. Nothing has replicated the horror of cupping my bare butt and feeling an active pimple war zone.

Spironolactone
My former co-worker with the flawless skin said these pills cleared up her hormonal acne. I think I got the placebo.

Clindamycin
Prescribed by the same doctor that told me that not touching my face would stop the zits, Clindamycin was about as effective as not touching my face.

Birth Control Pills
Birth control and I went out for nearly a decade, but when I told it I wanted to break it off because I didn't think it was good for me, it gave me the worst hormonal acne I've ever had. You are one vindictive son-of-a-b. control.

Grapefruit Seed Extract
It's supposed to treat Perioral Dermatitis when applied topically or taken as a supplement. It's so bitter that I had to do the "exhale-drink-inhale" trick to get it down. I've convinced myself it did something.

Manuka Honey
Dear Goddess, I've gone full hippy. Manuka Honey didn't work so well for active acne, but it's good for healing things like my mind, my heart, and my deflated pimple that I picked at for 30 minutes.

Plain Yogurt Masks
I've never felt more in touch with my femininity than when I smeared greek yogurt on my face for a week.

Origins Charcoal Mask
This mask is currently separating in my medicine cabinet. I can't bring myself to throw it out. It expired 2 years ago.

Over the Counter Anti-Fungals
Please know that putting jock itch cream on your face is a cry for help.

AmLactin
Some people put AmLactin on their face and swear by it. I put it on my face swore a lot (because I was so greasy). Sorry, that was an awful joke. I'll do better next time.

Aztec Healing Clay Masks
Clay masks make me feel one with the earth. I want this stuff to work for me because it's the most natural thing for acne next to rinsing your face with your own tears. (That wasn't much better, was it?)

Vitamin C Serum
Big girls wear serums on their faces. The day I can start wearing mine regularly without breaking out will be the day I've crossed the threshold into womanhood. There will be tea and crustless sandwiches. You're all invited.

--

I'm wrapping up "Phase One" of The Acne Experiment -- aka my month of not washing my face -- very soon. I'll be posting a follow-up, complete with gory pictures, in two weeks time. FYI, "Phase two" is where the magic happens (I hope). Stay tuned my pets.

UPDATE: Here's the follow-up post, complete with gory pictures.




9.02.2014

The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story - Movie Reviews 2014

The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story | Crappy Candle

Oh, of course I watched Lifetime's Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story last night. 80s and 90s nostalgia are my not-so-secret obsession; the kids of Bayside burnt a pineapple upside down cake in my heart long ago. Like so many in my generation, I grew up with Saved by the Bell, blindly devouring it week after week.

The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story follows the arc of the show over 5 years from the casting of the original Miss Bliss series through the awkward fourth season, notorious for its unexplained, intermittent absence of Bayside's signature hotties, Kelly and Jessie. The story is told from the perspective of Screech, aka Dustin Diamond, and is supposed to be based on Diamond's tell-all book "Behind the Bell." Given the safeness of the show, it seems a tell-all would have had nowhere to go but juicy.

The beloved series Saved by the Bell was a cheese-fest with schlocky dialogue and shallow characters. At the same time, it was comforting, much like a slice of soggy milk toast. The "easy listening" of TV shows, you could let an episode of Saved by the Bell wash over you without having to think much or navigate an emotional reaction. Enjoy the bright colors and the pretty faces. They won't disappoint you because they aren't doing much of anything rooted in reality. We loved it so.

The story in Unauthorized gives us an uninspired, cursory look at what it was like behind the scenes while achieving the sentiment of the show it was supposed to be exposing. The plot was one-dimensional and stopped miles short from anything that could be considered juicy. The most dominant ongoing theme, Dustin Diamond's ostracism from the rest of the cast, was both unsurprising and unconvincing. I never bought his awkward weirdness or felt sympathy for his situation. This was sealed nicely in the end when Mark-Paul has a heart-to-heart with Dustin, washing over any kind of drama that could have hypothetically been brewing there.

And what of romance? This is where the juicy is, right? Unfortunately, Lifetime washes over this part as well. We see that Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Lark Voorhies had some kind of thing going on, as he probably did with Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, and that Mario Lopez could indeed have been some kind of man whore, but none of these plot points get explored as much as they should have. Unauthorized felt like a summary.

A really sexy summary though, right ladies?

My biggest criticisms revolve around the cast:
  1. Kelly's mole missed it's mark by at least an inch. The way it changes size and intensity throughout the movie was distracting.
  2. Jessie's hair should have been much larger to accommodate all her brains.
  3. Zack's 12 inches of missing height must have removed an equal amount of charm.
  4. If I squinted, Screech looked like Screech, but no amount of squinting added the goob.
  5. The whole cast was dressed like the mannequins at H&M, so our fashion queen Lisa was left without a personality.
  6. It looks like they got AC Slater from the discount AC Slater bin.
CGI Screech Chest | The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story
If you squint, it still looks like a really crappy CGI.
Given all this, the movie was not a complete disappointment. It felt exactly how it should have: safe, cheesy, with bright colors and pretty faces. It was entertaining and blandly interesting enough without giving the viewer any kind of icky-ucky feelings. It was as if the "Saved By The Bell" movie was made by the people who brought us "Saved By The Bell."

There were a few delightful moments, however. In one scene, we get to oggle Dustin Diamond's wonky CGI'ed chest during a dream hot-tub sequence. In another, we get to watch a guy on a motorcycle drive in, tear around the lot, and do a bunch of wheelies/expert stunt-stuff. The rider pulls up to Mario Lopez, removes his helmet, and reveals himself to be Mark-Paul Gosselaar. He then tells Mario that his mom is not the boss of him. I wish I had made this up myself because it was gold.

Had the filmmakers allowed themselves to fully commit to this kind of cheesy goofiness, i.e. the same kind of cheesy goofiness that gave Saved By the Bell a heart, this movie could have had become a cult classic in its own right. We'd have gifs for days.

I'll file this one under opportunity missed.

8.24.2014

The Acne Experiment

The Acne Experiment | Crappy Candle
All Images © Crappy Candle / The Acne Experiment

Trying to cure acne is a lot like being a detective:
  1. Determine the Crime Being Committed = Find out what kind of acne you have.
    Do you have whiteheads, blackheads, under-grounders, a fine rash, or actually, no that's just an aggravated mole? Hey it might not be acne at all! Maybe it's rosacea. Perhaps it's dermatitis or a bug bite. You silly butt, you are actually having a serious allergic reaction. No more strawberries for you!
  2. Identify The Suspects = Find out what is causing your acne.
    Maybe you have hormonal acne. Maybe your foundation is clogging your pores or maybe your brand is fine, it's just old and loaded with bacteria. Maybe's it's your makeup brushes or your dirty fingers that are the problem. MAYBE ITS STRESS INDUCED! Maybe your night drools are giving you acne, or perhaps your 20+ years of excessive cheese consumption have finally caught up with you. Maybe it's genetic. Fuck genetics.
  3. Assign The Punishment* = Find out what cures your acne.
    You've got your topicals; Retin-A, Clindamycin, Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, A Clarisonic, Peels, Fire. Your pills: birth control, antibiotics, ACCUTANE, spironolactone. Your hippy dippys: clay masks, manuka honey, greek yogurt masks, tumeric scrubs, oils. And behaviorals: change pillowcases daily, stop using fabric softener, stop washing your hair, only eat spinach and flax seed, throw out your camera phone, break all your mirrors. 

Alas! You now have skin that is dried-out/flaking but somehow still oily, skin so thin and fragile that you bleed randomly then burn whenever you walk outside, skin covered in strange bumps and hyper-pigmentations from zits you had 3 months ago, and cabinets overflowing with mostly full products and miracle cures that haven't helped. Or maybe they helped a little? Oh, and what the hell, you're starting to get wrinkles because you have adult acne now and that's what adults have to deal with.

Enough. Enough I say.

I have been dealing with breakouts and hormonal acne for over a decade and perioral dermatitis (POD) for the past 2 years. I'm sick of trying to guess which products are causing me to break me out, which products are helping, and which products aren't doing anything. I'll be 31 in two weeks. I'm too old for this shit.

After complaining to my husband for the umpteenth time, he suggested I approach the situation scientifically. How can I know what is working if there are so many variables that I'm not controlling? This is my attempt to regain control. I'm hanging up my detective fedora and putting on a white lab coat.

I call it "The Acne Experiment."

I will not wash, wear makeup or use any kind of skincare product on my face for a month. 

I'm only allowing myself lip balm and oil absorbing sheets. Everything else is off limits including cleansers, acne medication, lotions, serums, and sunscreen.* I will only clean my face with warm water and a washcloth each evening. Each washcloth will only be used once and will be cleaned with dye/fragrance-free detergent, borax, and white vinegar.

I'm creating a baseline, a control group if you will. My hope is, by purging the skincare routine I've been "perfecting" since I was 13, I'll be able to to build a new one from the ground up. I'm hoping that I'll not only get to put together a routine that is simpler, but I'll be able to put together one that actually works.

Are you ready to look at my face? I'll offer it up, un-retouched, without comment. This is day one:

Day 1 | Crappy Candle
I uploaded it smallish because I'm not a sadist. Oops that was a comment. :(

I'll report back with my progress.

Oh hey there. I'm not done yet because I have a confession to make: I am actually 2 weeks into my experiment at the time of posting. I decided to write this, then hold off on publishing it until I was sure this experiment wouldn't result in my face turning into one giant throbbing zit. Because then I would have written a poem about my giant zit.

--

*Detectives don't assign punishment, so perhaps finding a cure for acne is more of a Judge Dredd-ism. I am the law. At least he got to wear a mask, lucky bastard.

**I have olive toned skin that is pretty hearty, I hardly ever leave the house, and I actually hate being in the sun. I don't recommend "no SPF" for everyone, but I don't anticipate burning to be a problem for myself. Also, HATS.


The Acne Experiment Posts

Zit Creams in Review (a retrospective in which I review every product I've ever used to treat acne)
I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month (I DID IT AND I DIDNT DIE)

Phase Two (in which I review everything I try)
Aztec Healing Clay Mask
Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Soap
Tea Tree Oil (coming soon)
Jane Iredale Magic Mitt (coming soon)
Meow Cosmetics Mineral Makeup (coming soon)


I Didn't Wash My Face for a Month | Crappy Candle



8.14.2014

Carrie - Book Reviews 2014

by Stephen King

There will be spoilers in this post, but if you haven't read the book, or seen any of the movies, or heard the story at any point in the last 40 years, then heaven help you child. Plus the book is set up in such a way that you know what's going to happen before it happens. There aren't many surprises.

I've seen nearly every single Stephen King film, but Carrie was my first Stephen King book. For some reason, as I write this, I think of My First Sony. Carrie is simple with only a few buttons and knobs, but it gets the job done. It's also a good introduction to the greater brand. Oh, and it also has an awesome jingle* and is great for children.**

Carrie is about 250 pages long and divided into 2 sections plus one teeny followup: the events leading up to the prom, the prom, and the aftermath. The plot is simple, but the POV jumps around from Carrie, to Sue Snell, to Margaret White, and other characters to "post prom" interviews and various pieces written on "the event." It was a very quick read and good first step into the horror genre. Did I mention this was also my first horror novel?

I got my copy of Carrie from the local Library and as I was reading, I noticed that a few sentences in the book had been rubbed out. In the first instance, nothing had been written in, but in the second, the perpetrator decided to write in a censored version of the line. I normally choose to not deface books that aren't mine, but Library Prude took it too far:

Exhibit A: Please note that Library Prude so vigorously erased
"Carrie White eats shit" that they ripped the page. I rectified it. 

Exhibit B: Please note is says "stupid" (which I crossed out
and corrected). I imagined Library Prude had to sit in the devil
closet for a whole day after reading this book. 

When you read Stephen King after seeing the film versions, it's difficult to not make comparisons the whole time. Admittedly, I haven't seen the original 1976 film in many years, but I made lots of mental notes regardless:
  1. The interviews and articles throughout the book give the reader a lot more to chew on than the film gives the viewer. If you are scientifically minded, you will appreciate this aspect.
  2. Carrie is plump and pimply in the book. Sissy Spacek is neither of these things. (Hollywood, ain't she grand?)
  3. In the book, Margaret White looks less like a crazy witch and more like a school marm
  4. The book makes it seem as though "the event" was the result of childish foolishness. The lack of clear finger-pointin' villainy (outside of the abusive mom) made for a more horrifying premise.
  5. I'm concerned by the lack of child protective services in Chamberlain, Maine. Real life horror.
  6. The most horrifying part of the book, however, was at the very end when Carrie crawls inside Sue Snell's mind as Carrie is dying. Hot damn.
  7. Just kidding. The most horrifying part of the book was the forward written by Stephen King in which Stephen King states that Carrie was based on two girls he grew up with who both died at a young age, then haunted him.
  8. (metaphoracally, natch)
  9. Just kidding, you big dumb pudding. The most horrifying part of the book is this photo of Stephen King on the back cover:
Okay I'm going to go watch the movie on Netflix now.
Optimal Reading Situation: In your closet with the blue lights and the creepy Jesus painting.
Optimal Reading Snack: A four pack of Snack Pack Chocolate Pudding.
Optimal Reading Followup: I'm going to go watch the movie on Netflix. I already told you that.
--

*PER-iod, PER-iod, PER-iod! (tosses a handful of tampons up in the air like confetti)
**Not at all. Not at all good for children.

This review is from my Summer Book Club series. 

Next up: Beloved by Toni Morrison

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