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Archive for November, 2009

Another month has come and gone, and it’s that time again. No, not to stick cucumbers in our ears. It’s time to look at the top five blog posts on TRPLS (Terples), based on what our readers (you guys are terples, like turtles, only cuter) have been reading. So let’s do this thang, and come to a better understanding of our fragmented consciousnesses as we do so.

  1. Business Casual Superstar #48: Inspired by Rachel Berry of Glee.
  2. Business Casual Superstar #65: The One Where My Father Says Red Shoes Are For Whores.
  3. Bargain Babe: Nanette Lepore Jacket.
  4. Law School Supplements: The Books You Need To Understand Your Books.
  5. SO GUESS WHO HAS SWINE FLU.
  6. Runner Up: In Honor of Twilight: What the EFF Is Wrong With People?!

Good list! Now, what have we learned from this data?

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I don’t know who Alexa Vega is. All I know is that I don’t like what she’s wearing. I also think she’s REALLY working the old school Lindsay Lohan look. You know, before Lindsay went crazy and started with the nose candy and having very public tantrums about nothing at all and pretty much single-handedly bringing down a classic fashion house although the geniuses in charge now certainly aren’t helping matters because they’re too interested in saving face and ignoring the fact that major department stores all across America are flat-out REFUSING to carry Ungaro until Linds is removed from the house, and the original designer of the same name sold out for a pretty penny and so his constant squawking about the disgrace it’s become is neither here nor there because he cashed out and should just sit in the corner of one of the many rooms in his house in Cabo.

Anyway.

I’m sure Alexa Vega isn’t about to do anything like that, even if she is kind of a doppelganger for a young, pristine Lindsay, before we all started ripping on her for being a cracked out mess.

So let’s clean this up for a law school look, or a casual Friday look, or something of that nature.

Boot cut Jeans ………. $29.99
Striped Turtleneck in black/cream ………. $19.99
Stretch Ankle Boot ………. $39.95
Rhinestone Filigree Ring ………. $4

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Again.  That’s right, this is her second time appearing in the Unfugged category because GIRLFRIEND CANNOT PULL IT TOGETHER. So let’s see if we can fix this…this mess going on in this general vicinity. Here we are.

Oh, honey, no.

See, I get what she was trying to do here. At least, I think I do. She saw a pretty blue silk dress and figured she’d go with these cute nude shoe-boots she had, because nude totally makes your legs longer (ONLY THE NUDE COLOR IS NOT NUDE ON HER DUH BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN OF COLOR – and I can say that because I am, too), and those weird shoe-boot things are totally high fashion or whatever even though it looks like a child wrapped and stapled weird things to your feet, and then of course she had to match it with her bag because OTHERWISE IT WOULDN’T MAKE SENSE YOU GUYS THERE IS A METHOD HERE and then the bag had gold hardware and so she saw a big necklace and was like, hey, the neckline on this dress isn’t anything special, let’s spice it up with this huge bib of chain links.

There! Fabulous!

Only, no. Not so much.

So let’s see if we can fix things up a bit. I couldn’t get the bag in here because I just HAD to use this Calvin Klein dress. I had to. It wasn’t a choice.

Calvin Klein Pintuck Satin Dress With Jacket ………. $86.90
Cut Out Pumps in bone patent ………. $9.99
Faux Pearl Bib Necklace ………. $5.80

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The Bargain Babe is back, and she’s into shoes right now. Who doesn’t love shoes? Boys. That’s who. Boys don’t love shoes, and the best way to get them to tune out and leave you alone is to pretend to blather about shoes. They go away super fast.

Today we’re looking at Manolo’s.

I despise Sex & The City. I really do. And I was all ready to hate Manolo’s on principle because of the product placement (which I also hate) on SATC. But then I took one look at them. One look. That’s all it takes.

Observe:

Now, if you’re not ready to quit your life and marry this shoe, there is something very wrong with you.

There is one problem, though: It retails at Barney’s for $945.

Now, maybe you’re the kind of person that thinks that $945 for a shoe like this is totally reasonable.

I, however, have never spent that kind of cash on a shoe. I own designer shoes, yes, but I buy them at sample sales. Because if I paid even half-price for shoes like that, I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror in the morning. They’re so expensive. And I’m pretty leery of expensive things. Not because I’m cheap, but because I’m money-conscious and part of me will always be like, okay, no shoe should ever cost a grand. I’m sorry, but no. Hoomster doesn’t play that.

Besides, if I bought shoes that expensive, I’d feel too guilty to wear them. If I stepped on something unsavory, I’d just want to shoot myself in the face. And if I came across one of my many homeless friends during my daily strolls in Chicago’s Loop, I’d do the thing where you hold your newspaper REALLY high up over your face and keep walking and pretend you didn’t see them. Basically, I’d probably want to take those super expensive shoes and build a custom display case and put them up in my house somewhere.

And that’s just straight crazy.

So let’s find some alternatives that WON’T make me look, sound, act, or think like a crazy person.

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This is another conversation with Mama Hoomster, an emerging star here at TRPLS (Terples). For some context, this conversation involved a $50 Visa gift card that she was giving me. The card came in an envelope with a letter saying it was a holiday gift, blah blah blah. It was from a certain school that my mother was the principal of last year (she stepped down voluntarily to be a teacher again because she found that dealing with shitheads wasn’t all it was cracked up to be).

This school used to bitch and moan about money, and how it didn’t have any, for easily the past decade, and certainly while she was in charge. Let me put it to you this way: if this school was a college kid that liked to go bar-hopping, this school would ONLY buy a mug on Dollar Beer Night. And consider it a splurge. When my mother wanted to get Eid gifts for the faculty members and wanted to spend $3 a person, let’s say, since the gifts came at wholesale, the school bitched and moaned like said college student discovering that a vodka cranberry cost $10 at an airport bar, let’s say.

This year, however, the school is gleefully hemorrhaging money. No one knows why, but plenty of theories revolving around having barely two brain cells to rub together abound. So the $50 Visa gift card was the gift to the faculty members. $50 per person, versus $3 per person. See what I mean? College Kid has a rich fantasy life.

Anyway, this conversation followed:

Hoomster: Ammi, can I throw away the envelope?

Mama Hoomster: Yes. But keep the letter!

Hoomster: What for?!

Mama Hoomster: Just keep it so I have a copy if I need it later. You know, just so it’s in the record.

Hoomster: The record of what? The record of criminal retardation?

Mama Hoomster: If there’s anything that belongs in the record, it’s examples of criminal retardation.

…Can’t argue with her there. Never doubt Mama Hoomster’s wisdom, you guys. This exchange kind of made me hope that the last 23.25 years were a lie, and that Mama Hoomster is a total take-no-prisoners bitch deep down inside.

Like me. 🙂

 

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I did a mini-lesson on Ramadan a while back, and since today is Eid-ul-Adha, I thought I’d do a mini-lesson on Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah (Saudia Arabia) that constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=hajj&iid=3148633″ src=”2/d/b/5/4e.JPG?adImageId=7883622&imageId=3148633″ width=”380″ height=”270″ /]

Yeah, see all those dots? Those are people.

1. What’s with the way that Eid-ul-Adha and Hajj coincide? Do they always?

Yes. Muslims have two holidays per year: Eid ul Fitr, at the end of the 30 days of Ramadan in which we’re fasting, and Eid ul Adha, where we commemorate Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of his son Ismail.

2. Don’t you mean Isaac?

No, I mean Ismail.

3. You didn’t finish answering the first question.

Right, sorry. Yes, this Eid always coincides with Hajj. Eid ul Adha is always on the 10th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah. Notice a familiar word in there? “Hijjah” is one of the forms of the word “Hajj,” and “Dhul-Hijjah” means the possessor of the pilgrimage. Hajj, our annual pilgrimage, takes place in Dhul-Hijjah.

4. What’s so special about the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah?

On the 10th day, the pilgrims on Hajj descend from Mount Arafat. There are several things you have to do when you’re on Hajj, and it’s been that way since the very first Muslims negotiated with the Makkan Quraish tribe their right to perform Hajj back in the early 7th century. One of the acts – like circling the Ka’abah 7 times, etc, – involves sitting in tents on the plain of Arafat. There are millions of little white tents, and you camp out on the field and spend the night there and then descend, and it’s Eid-ul-Adha.

5. Who goes on Hajj?

Muslims. Only Muslims, because non-Muslims are not allowed within the city limits of Makkah or Madinah. So if you ever wanted to go to the Ka’abah and take some touristy pictures and touch the black stone, sorry, you’re out of luck until you declare that you believe in no god but God as well as the prophethood of His final messenger, Muhammad (S). 🙂 Sorry. Them’s the roolz.

6. Does every Muslim have to go on Hajj?

Yes and no. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam – meaning, one of the five fundamental things that every Muslim must do or believe in. The first one is the shahadah – saying that you believe in no god but God and that Muhammad (S) was his final messenger. Another one is fasting in Ramadan, and giving charity, and praying the five daily prayers. Without doing this, you are not a Muslim.

As for the Hajj, every Muslim is supposed to do it at least once in his or her lifetime. However, there are people who simply can’t, due to physical or financial reasons. That’s fine. It’s just that the reason not to go for Hajj has to be legitimate if you’re excused from your duty. There was a member of my family, I think a great-great-grandfather, who lived in India (our family hails from Merat and Saravay and Delhi, originally) and because he was too poor to take the train or a boat, he walked from India to Saudi Arabia to participate in the great pilgrimage.

There’s a Saudi law, I’m pretty sure (like 80% sure) that you can’t perform Hajj in consecutive years, mainly because they want to give others a chance to participate. Some people only get to do Hajj once in their lives, and Makkah and Madinah can only accommodate so many million Muslims, and it’s not fair for the same person to come every single year like clockwork.

7. How do the Hajis commemorate the slaughter of the ram by Abraham when he was supposed to sacrifice one of his sons?

We slaughter livestock! All of us, not just those Muslims lucky enough to be performing the pilgrimage. On this day, all over the world, Muslims sacrifice cows, goats, camels, chickens, turkeys, that sort of thing. There are only certain animals among livestock that we can eat – those with split hooves. So, not, for example, a horse. If it has a split hoof, we can eat it, so it’s a candidate for the slaughtering pen.

The meat is always divided into portions and distributed among friends, family, and most importantly, the needy. That was the main purpose of this holiday since the beginning: a form of social welfare. We commemorate Abraham’s tremendous faith in God by slaughtering an animal just like he once did, and instead of just hoarding the meat in the freezer and forgetting about it, or letting it rot in the sun or otherwise go to waste, we distribute it among those that need it.

In Pakistan, the culture’s a little different, and I’ve heard countless stories of my uncles slaughtering a cow or goat (goats, usually – who was rich enough for a cow?), dividing the meat into parcels, and quietly leaving it on the doorstep of a family they knew wasn’t very well off at all and needed the food. No questions asked, none answered. That’s just how it was.

8. Anything special about how the animals are slaughtered?

Yes. I have this awesome picture somewhere of my uncle and my two male cousins, all of them dressed in cream-colored shalwar kameez (loose pants and flowing tunic), standing in the street in front of my grandfather’s house in the PECHS colony in Karachi with three goats slaughtered and laying on the pavement.

The thing is, our meat is slaughtered differently than what you’d see done here in America, or in Europe, or anywhere else that’s not a Muslim country. Before we slaughter the animal, we say a short prayer, thanking God for blessing us by putting animals on this earth for us to eat, and slaughtering them in His name with His blessing, all of that good stuff. Think of it as saying grace, only you just happen to be killing the food yourself instead of just eating it.

The animal isn’t euthanized in any way. In fact, it is entirely, absolutely, categorically forbidden for Muslims to eat any animal that was already dead. Reminds me of that episode of the Office where Dwight hit a goose with his car, killing it, and then brought it in to prepare for an office feast. That would have been haraam – the goose was already dead before it was plucked and prepared. No dice.

So basically, to slaughter a goat, you hold the sucker down and slit its throat. For cows, they’re stronger, so you have to bind their legs. Same with camels. With birds, again, they’re small, so you just hold them down and slit their throats with a sharp knife.

You let some of the blood run out, and then you partially behead the animal to get all the blood out. Normally, in non-Muslim tradition, the animal is just straight beheaded. We partially behead the animal and let all its blood run out of its body. (Drinking the blood of any living creature is expressly forbidden, too, duh, like I even had to say that.) Only then do we skin/pluck, clean, and divide the meat.

9. Anything else about Abraham’s sacrifice that you’re just dying to tell us?

Yes, actually. During Abraham’s time, human sacrifice was no big thing, just like crucifixion was a common punishment during Christ’s time. Humans were not uncommonly sacrificed for all sorts of reasons. The only thing that shocked and offended the conscience when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son was that it was his own son that was to be sacrificed. If God had said, “Abraham, that slave boy of yours….kkkkkwwwwwtccccchhhhhk” (that’s me trying to be all onomatopoetic about the throat-slitting sound) then it wouldn’t have been as Bible-worthy because people thought nothing of having to sacrifice their slaves.

But when God replaced Ismail with a ram and had Abraham sacrifice that, there was more to it than Abraham emerging as what Kierkegaard called, “a knight of faith.” After Abraham descended from the mountain with his son and the dead ram, human sacrifices, as a rule of law, were abolished as appropriate punishments/rituals.

At least, that’s what we Muslims believe; that’s our side of the story. I’m not sure what the historical background about the sacrifice is in the Christian tradition.

10. Have you ever gone on Hajj?

Regrettably, no. But I hope to, obviously.

11. Are you SURE they won’t let me into Makkah or Madinah? What if I shave my head (if I’m a dude) or wear a hijab (if I’m not a dude), put on those white pilgrim robes and sandals, and act real nice?

Sorry, not until you say the shahadah. 😛

12. Is there anything special people have to do before they go on Hajj?

You have to ask all of your friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, etc, to please forgive you for anything you may have done to hurt their feelings or cause them harm, and so on.

My mom and I were talking about it this morning, when we were discussing my aunt and youngest uncle, who are both on Hajj together, along with their spouses, and we were like, what would happen if someone just said, ….No? We couldn’t come up with anything. Then we laughed. It was an inside joke. You wouldn’t understand, it’s a secret.

13. What’s the deal with that water?

There’s a well that all the Hajjis visit while on Hajj. It’s called Zam-zam. We believe that when Hajirah (A) – your Hagar, if you’re Christian or play one on TV – was pregnant with Ismail (A), she was in dire need of water. Or maybe it was when Ismail (A) was a small child. God, I can’t believe I don’t remember. Anyway, the problem was that she lived in the desert, and water was scarce and she couldn’t find any. So she walked back and forth between two hills (the Hajjis walk back and forth in procession between the two hills, too) looking for water for herself and her child. She sat down under a date palm and God caused water to bubble forth from the earth at her feet, so she was finally able to drink. We believe the water is holy, and has certain healing properties. So every year (and at Umrah, which is the word for off-season Hajj, any time of the year), the Hajjis fill up water bottles with water from the well of Zam-zam.

What? Don’t look at me at like that. You Christians have your holy water at church, and a certain group of Jews have their Kabbalah water. Whatever.

14. Is Hajj safe, with all those people walking around?

Well. People go missing. There are tramplings every year. And this year, every pilgrim is being given the standard white robe to wear and a surgical mask as a precaution against spreading or catching swine flu.

On one hand, that’s ridiculous. On the other, if something even slightly helps keep more than three million people safe when they’re all crammed together in one city, walking around, doing things, then the host country is obligated to go for it.

My mother, back when she was a college student in Karachi, was selected as part of a group to do a logistical study for the Saudi Arabian ministry on Hajj. My mother was a crazy awesome mathematician, first place in Karachi university, so, yeah, obviously she was picked for this. She ran data about how many people go for Hajj, etc, etc, and would write a final report and present it, all in efforts to help keep millions of Muslims safe in Makkah and Madinah.

See? I told you Mama Hoomster was awesome. Even when she’s articulating her fears that I’m a total h0r.

15. Can women go on Hajj?

Alone? No. A woman must be escorted with a mahram male. Mahram refers to family, specifically, family members which she cannot marry (or to whom she’s already married, duh). This means a father, brother, husband, uncle, grandfather, step-father, father-in-law, son, son-in-law, grandson, etc, would be excellent candidates. The main reason is protection. Hajj is an incredible ordeal. Everyone comes home exhausted and sick. There is TONS of stuff to do there, and even though women and men are separated during the actual rites of the pilgrimage, it’s hard for one person to undertake alone. So a woman must be accompanied by a male family member. If, for example, I wanted to grab my best friend and Hajj-trip it up, that wouldn’t be cool. I’d love it if my family went on Hajj with my best friend’s family, though. That’d kick ass.

16. Can children go on Hajj?

Yes and no. The thing is, there’s no rule forbidding small children within the city limits of Makkah and Madinah during Hajj season. It’s just that Hajj doesn’t ‘count’ for a Muslim until he or she has reached puberty/maturity/adulthood/whatever. So yeah, you could take your kid with you if you wanted, I guess, but all this stuff is expensive. Would you really want to spend that much money taking your kid to Hajj with you if it didn’t even count for that kid? We have tons of friends who went on Hajj and left their kids with the grandparents or the uncles and aunts. It’s also a safety issue, aside from the steep cost. Would you want your kid running around during Hajj, where it’d be SUPER easy to get lost, and not so easy at all to be found? Yeah, I’d think not.

17. Must get pretty hot over there, huh?

Oh, God, I’ve heard horror stories. Obviously, Makkah and Madinah are in the desert. And it’s freaking hot there. But they’ve also got those great mountains, which bring the cool air down. So yeah, people are pretty miserable when they’re camped out in flimsy tents on the plain of Arafat at high noon, but the Saudi commission on Hajj has taken great steps to make Hajj more comfortable. For example, Muslims have to walk all around the Ka’abah 7 times, reciting the same short prayer over and over as they do so. Part of the floor is made of tile, and the Saudi commission constructed a shallow underground channel so that they could send water flowing underneath the marble. This keeps the marble cool, where it’d be scalding hot from being in direct sunlight all day otherwise.

18. I don’t know, Hoomster, it all sounds pretty idyllic.

There are PLENTY of problems with Hajj. The thing I’ve heard people complain about the most is that they’ll be doing their Hajj thing and a limo or some other vehicle will drive by, blocking their paths, forcing them to wait, etc, etc, all because members of the Royal Family are also performing Hajj….IN A FREAKING LIMO.

Not only does this completely defeat the purpose of Hajj, it’s a pain in the butt for all the people who are doing Hajj properly. And it’s a fucking disgrace. First of all, Islamically, there are to be no “Royal” families. Islam abolishes royalty. One of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (S) is that before God, all Muslims are as equal as the teeth of a comb. But, fine, if we’re going to have Royal Families (WHY THE FUCK DO WE HAVE ROYAL FAMILIES), then they should at least try to be role models since they’re in charge of a “Muslim” country.

But no. These jackasses are going to ride around in limos on Hajj. They’re probably checking into the Hilton Hotels’ Arafat location instead of camping in the little tents. Fuckers. They’re a disgrace to themselves, and they inconvenience regular pilgrims. It’s better not to do Hajj at all than do it like that, with all the pomp and circumstance and entitlement that Islam disavows so emphatically.

Also, I’d just like to say, that all the so-called Muslim governments in the world? Yeah, I can’t think of a SINGLE ONE that’s “Islamic.” It’s so odd to me that “Muslim” countries worldwide are the ones boasting the worst treatment of, let’s say, women and workers, when Islam champions the rights of both. Muslim governments in the modern world are hypocrisy at its finest. Please don’t look to them as an example of practical, functioning Islam. They are NOT.

19. Be honest – the Hajjis bring back mad-style souvenirs, right? A scrap of the black casing thrown over the Ka’abah (with the lettering stitched in actual gold), a stone from Muhammad (S)’s gravesite, a brick from his apartment in the Masjid-an-Nabi in Madinah? Admit it.

Yes, it’s true: Hajjis bring back AWESOME gifts. We always have friends who are on Hajj and they all bring back stuff, so every year we usually get at least one janamaz (velvet prayer rug found in any Muslim home), a nice Quran, a tasbeeh (like your rosary beads, if you’re Christian), bottles of Zam-Zam water, and frigging LEGENDARY dates from Madinah that are so plump and sweet and made of win.

20. …Those presents are lame.

Your mom’s lame.

Before I go, one last thing: if you have any questions about Hajj or Eid-ul-Adha or anything remotely related, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll probably do a follow-up post to answer them at some point in the near future.

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Now, I don’t think this is too bad, but the long sleeve is just killing it. It makes it look like Eva was getting the dress sewn onto her and she’s such a petite thing that she just got sucked up into the Singer and now her arm’s all stitched up with silk and it’s probably really painful but she had to come to the party because she’s such a trooper.

Take a look.

I really do like this dress. In theory.

I also like children. In theory. But not in practice.

I like the red silk, I like the one-shoulder, I like the flowers/ruffles/swirls/whatever. The dress reminds me a lot of Anne Hathaway’s Oscar dress with the flowers, but that was perfect with just the strap instead of this full arm thing that’s going on.

This is obviously a more festive look than something you’d show up in on a random work day. But whatever, I don’t get to do festive looks, so y’all can just deal.

Let’s take a look.

Adrianna Papell Ruffle Jersey Dress ………. $68.90
Cut Out Pumps in bone patent ………. $9.99
Double-Hoop Bead Earrings ………. $7

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