Mountain Chic

Reflections and observations on culture, food, style and travel

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For many years, I taught Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death in my AP Language classes.  In this book, written in 1985, Postman argues that we are living in the Age of Show Business; that the advent and pervasive nature of television has significantly changed and shaped the way people think and operate in their everyday lives.  As many of us watch in shock and disbelief the events of this election season unfold, I think of Postman’s book so often that I went back and re-read his chapter on how television has dramatically altered the way presidential candidates run for office and get elected in this country.  I can’t believe Postman isn’t referenced more in the media these days, given the way he practically predicted the superficial, reality-show nature of this election.  Some gems from the book:

  • “In 1966, Ronald Regan used a different metaphor [for politics].  ‘Politics,’ he said, ‘is just like show business'” (p. 125).
  • “Show business is not entirely without an idea of excellence, but its main business is to please the crowd, and its principal instrument is artifice.  If politics is like show business, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are, which is another matter altogether” (p. 126).
  • “The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed.  It is about the character of the consumers of products.  Images of movie stars and famous athletes, or serene lakes…of elegant dinners and romantic interludes, of happy families…these tell nothing about the products being sold.  But they tell everything about the fears, fancies and dreams of those who might buy them.  What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer” (p. 128).
  • “Commercials have the advantage of vivid visual symbols through which we may easily learn the lessons being taught.  Among those lessons are that short and simple messages are preferable to long and complex ones; that drama is to be preferred over exposition; that being sold solutions is better than being confronted with questions about problems” (p. 131).
  • “We Americans seem to know everything about the last twenty-four hours but very little of the last sixty centuries or the last sixty years” (p. 137).

Ultimately, Postman argues that we don’t need to worry about some dystopian society (a la George Orwell’s 1984) where everything is taken away from us by some tyrant who censors everything or doesn’t tell us the truth (familiar accusations against people in power now!).  Postman says our undoing really will be that we will amuse ourselves to death, like the characters in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World – that we are so focused on being entertained, feeling good and having fun that we won’t even care about the real, nitty gritty details of what is happening in our society.  “Tyrants of all varieties have always known about the value of providing the masses with amusements as a means of pacifying discontent.  But most of them could not have even hoped for a situation in which the masses would ignore that which does not amuse” (p. 141).

I highly encourage you to pick up this book.  I don’t consider myself a big “t.v. person” or entertainment junkie – I like reading challenging books like this one.  But I can’t deny that even if I like to pretend I’m different from the masses, the effects of television and technology are deeply rooted in our culture, guiding our discourse and communication in ways I’m hardly aware are happening.  After all, the problem with this election is far bigger than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.  It’s the society we’re living in that promoted these people and this situation in the first place.

 

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I can’t remember where I first read about Olio E Osso balms – I just know it seemed that I went from never hearing of them to reading about them all over the Internets.  Though the balms aren’t widely available for purchase, that detail didn’t stop this intrepid beauty experimenter.  I am so happy I took the plunge and ordered the Olio E Osso Balm No. 2 from the company’s web site.  Creator Paola Lamorticella developed a clear, luscious balm from all-natural oils to treat her son’s sensitive skin.  From there, she branched to a handful of skin care products and a line of beautifully sheer colored balms that are suitable for cheeks or lips.  All products are handmade in small batches in Portland, Oregon (so very Portlandy!).

 

No. 2‘s pinky peach color (seductively named “French Melon”) is ideal for my fair-to-medium skin, but the simple range of colors offer ideal choices for every skin type.  Though it doesn’t show in pictures, this balm leaves a sheer wash of natural, dewy color, not sparkly at all, just fresh.  Below, I’m wearing the balm on my cheeks and lips; I used a blush brush to apply it to my cheeks, though you could easily use your fingertips.  For everyday, it’s so easy to put on some tinted sunscreen, mascara, this balm, and I’m good to go!  The balm’s convenience makes it perfect for travel, though it could melt in hot temps, so one must mind that detail!

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Next, I’d like to try Paola’s first balm she created for her son, the No. 1, especially with the extremely dry days of winter looming ahead.  The Pre-Shave Oil will also make a luxurious stocking stuffer for my husband!

Psssssst! Late-breaking shopping news! If you are a Shopbop fan like I am, they are offering early discounts on everything sitewide when you shop using their app! Check the app or download it for details. 

 

The other day, I was chatting with my friend, Carrie, and telling her I missed writing this blog.  I started to complain about the state of blogging today (something I touched on in this post, too, back in January): the blogs that actually make money are the ones that evolve into nothing more than advertisements for the freebies sent to the bloggers (a subject causing furor in the fashion world right now, too).  What I’d always loved about reading blogs, and what inspired me to start my own, was the raw and authentic nature of them; in a way, you got to expand your intimate friendship circle with total strangers, sharing the best moisturizer or latest, greatest read or your deepest, darkest feelings about sensitive topics that you might shy away from admitting for real over wine but that ironically, when shared over the Internet, felt more anonymous and safe somehow.  When I was writing my blog, acquaintances and even family members seemed to approach me with greater openness and vulnerability, as if by my sharing online they felt as though I’d extended a special openness just to them.  For someone who struggles with feeling like I am my most authentic when I’m actually around people (is that just me, or is that everyone?), writing this blog became a way for readers to know the real me.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love freebies, especially of the beauty and fashion varieties. But more than that, I love the authenticity of an unsponsored blog.  While Carrie and I were chatting, I realized I didn’t need to make it my goal to publish 5 days a week and acquire a list of sponsors.  I wasn’t required to take pictures of my outfits regularly – if at all, because there are certainly other things to post about (don’t worry, you know I can’t resist a good outfit post – I’m just saying…).  As with most things in life that are worth doing, I remembered that the most important thing about keeping a blog, or writing, or anything, is that it feeds the soul.  It feeds the spirit.  You do it out of love, first and foremost.  So, I’ll be posting again – simply because I like it.  I’ll try not to feel pressure about making it my career, or worry what my next step should be, or how I’d keep writing when I decide to go back to work, or how many followers I have, or…or…  I’ll just do it. You can also follow along on my latest adventures via Instagram – click one of the pics on the right or search my handle, @lissasayerscullen. Thanks for reading!

 

Note the new domain address: http://chiclifeinthemountains.com.  My old domain was snatched away and “the man” wanted $800 to renew!  The blog title will stay the same.