Life & style

How ’90s Teen Movies Reflected The Real-Life Homophobia Throughout The Decade

There are few more unsettling examples of movies as mirrors to society than some of the great teen films of the ’90s. Those who lived through the decade might recall that while more politicians voiced their support for same-sex marriages, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was also in effect and casual homophobia and heteronormativity were as rampant as ever, including throughout high school hallways.

Movies like “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “Cruel Intentions” and “Clueless” captured that period, to a startling degree. They reinforced what had already been in the cultural zeitgeist, including queer teens’ own internalized homophobia.

Reflecting on some of their images today, with over 20 years of hindsight, is a brutal reminder of the roles we were all socialized to play as teens in an oppressively homophobic society.

A plotline from “Cruel Intentions” immediately springs to mind. Prickly playboy Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) has just been rejected by his latest female conquest Annette (Reese Witherspoon), and his ego is bruised. So, Sebastian turns to his openly gay acquaintance Blaine (Joshua Jackson) to seduce closeted football jock Greg (Eric Mabius), the one who blabbed about Sebastian’s reputation to Annette.

Eric Mabius (left) and Joshua Jackson in a scene from "Cruel Intentions," released in 1999.
Eric Mabius (left) and Joshua Jackson in a scene from “Cruel Intentions,” released in 1999.

Right on cue as Greg and Blaine are lying in bed together, Sebastian comes in and takes a picture of the pair that he uses to manipulate Greg into walking back what he said about him to Annette. Or else he’ll publicly out Greg using the photo.

Erika Abad, who will serve as an assistant professor of communication at Nevada State College in the fall, remembers this storyline with painful precision.

“I can describe the scene because it was so traumatic,” she told HuffPost. “It’s probably so traumatic because it was the first time I had seen normalized the internalized homophobic shame I had experienced as an adolescent.”

She recalled that Greg also pretends to be drunk, and goes as far to say that Blaine made him have sex, when Sebastian “catches” them. “So the first powerful scene of that movie is, my gay act is an act of violence,” Abad continued. “And [Sebastian] is like, ‘I don’t care what you’re doing. I just need you to do me a favor.’ It was entrapment.”

And with Greg apparently now taken care of, the movie is kicked into high gear and leaves both him and Blaine far in its rearview mirror to be merely remembered as the plot devices for the straight white male character.

While the threat of revenge porn was not as prevalent among teens in the ’90s as it is today, what plotlines like the one in “Cruel Intentions” do is illuminate the era’s persistent need to weaponize queerness or incite enough fear in queer people so that they’re silenced entirely.

The movie bolstered an already understood reality that there was no safe space to be queer at all. Many queer teens like Emily Gallagher and Austin Elston, filmmakers and co-founders of Fishtown Films, didn’t even know a lot of openly queer teens in high school, for that reason.

“I think that speaks specifically to the culture as well,” Elston said. “You didn’t feel comfortable in the ’90s, or at least in my school, to be like, ‘Hey, I’m queer. I’m out. This is who I am.’”

Selma Blair (left) and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a scene from "Cruel Intentions."
Selma Blair (left) and Sarah Michelle Gellar in a scene from “Cruel Intentions.”

“Cruel Intentions” was also released just one year after 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was killed in a hate crime. Fear among young queer people was already part of their daily lives. “We’re coming out of the Reagan era, Bush one,” Elston recalled. “Even into Clinton to some degree. We have the AIDS epidemic presented as a gay disease and all these [things] signaling to us that there’s a problem with it. Like, if you are this way, you are going to end up dead.”

It meant that there were times when queer teens felt they had to conform to heteronormativity just to fit in. That was true for Elston, who played sports in school, and says he probably even laughed along with his teammates’ homophobic jokes, as well as Abad, who attended Catholic school as a teenager.

“Even though I was questioning [my identity], I would still say homophobic things because homophobic things were a way to demonstrate that you’re subscribing to the social script,” Abad said. “I didn’t beat anybody up. It was just casual homophobia.”

That casual homophobia was often replicated onscreen in films such as “House Party,” which includes Kid’s (Christopher Reid) nearly two-minute song riddled with homophobic messaging that he raps in order to distract his cellmates from trying to rape him when he ends up in jail.

“It’s reinforced in the films,” Elston said. “And you’re like, this is really fucking problematic. On so many levels.”

There’s also not a single Black queer person in “House Party.” “Not at all, because Black people aren’t gay,” Abad said sarcastically.

The erasure, or muting of queerness, definitely has some nuance when we talk about it within the lens of race and how that’s portrayed — or largely ignored, as Abad implied — in ’90s films. And for that matter, female queerness, aside from rare exceptions like “But I’m A Cheerleader,” is barely considered then because it was too often recognized as a function for straight male lust.

Like, when Sebastian’s villainous step-sister Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) kisses Cecile (Selma Blair) in “Cruel Intentions.” “Watching that kiss, it was like, ‘huh?’” Gallagher said. “What was the motivation for this? This isn’t at all sexy. Like, come on.”

Jennifer Love Hewitt and a boy in a scene from "Can't Hardly Wait," released in 1998.
Jennifer Love Hewitt and a boy in a scene from “Can’t Hardly Wait,” released in 1998.

Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

But that’s attributed to the way that sexuality, as well as gender, was so performative in the ’90s, to the point where teens policed gender so that it fit their individual standards and desires.

The homophobic F-word, for example, was often used as a way to indicate a type of masculinity that was not socially acceptable.

Conversely, what we see in a film like “Can’t Hardly Wait” with — you guessed it, another jock — Mike (Peter Facinelli) is an image of masculinity that is not only permissible; it’s aspirational.

So, when that character tries to get back with ex-girlfriend Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) by professing his love for her in the middle of their class’ graduation house party, it’s met with homophobic shame. That’s also followed by simultaneous laughter both among their peers and us teens watching the film in theaters in 1998.

Justin Walker and Alicia Silverstone in a scene from "Clueless," released in 1995.
Justin Walker and Alicia Silverstone in a scene from “Clueless,” released in 1995.

CBS Photo Archive via CBS/Getty Images

The same thing happens with “Clueless” when Murray (Donald Faison) tells his girlfriend (Stacey Dash) and her friend (Alicia Silverstone) that their new pal (Justin Walker) is gay: “He’s a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy.” Side-splitting laughter.

Admittedly, it’s an iconic line. There’s also another thing true here. “What’s really happening with these homophobic epithets is trying to reinforce gender normativity through humor and play,” Abad said.

It’s what turns Mike’s otherwise heartfelt moment in “Can’t Hardly Wait” into an opportunity for playful homophobia. Because the mere expression of emotions is considered an attribute of queerness throughout the ’90s.

“He really makes himself vulnerable in front of the entire party,” said Frankie Mastrangelo, a media scholar and sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Then it’s capped with somebody yelling the F-word at him,” she continued. “Any display of vulnerability, trying to express your emotions, is met with the F-word. Homophobia and masculinity are always doing this work of reinforcing one another and operating in tandem.”

They also collaborate to help put the person in question in their place. Like when a lovelorn and drunk Mike is later photographed nude as if in a queer embrace — as part of a revenge porn plot gone awry — with William (Charlie Korsmo), the nerd he used to bully and with whom he reconciles at the party.

Peter Facinelli in a scene from "Can't Hardly Wait."
Peter Facinelli in a scene from “Can’t Hardly Wait.”

Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

We learn in a list of postscripts that that polaroid is deemed “incriminating” when it resurfaces in his adult life and he loses his job at the car wash. Even with mere seconds left until the end of “Can’t Hardly Wait,” the film manages to underscore a dim future for queerness, strengthening teens’ greatest fears at the time.

It’s only when Gallagher revisited the film recently that these images crystallized in her mind.

“It was saying that in 20 years, this was still going to be problematic,” Gallagher said. “I didn’t realize how much overt homophobia was everywhere in everything. You just move through it like, ‘Okay, this is just what it is.’ You just have to be quiet and you’ll find your people eventually.”

Statements like Gallagher’s is why looking back on these films that defined our formative years, for better and worse, begs us to reckon with our nostalgia as well as the unflinching mirror they held up to ourselves and the problematic world around us.

But that’s also why there are still so many of us who enjoy rewatching these films. Because just as much as they trigger “the vibes, the feels” of our past, as Gallagher believes, they challenge us in ways that it needs to in order to truly evolve as humans.

“I have a lot of affinity for films that aren’t perfect because they allow for thought to be had,” Elston said. “Like, okay, this is where we were as a culture. Even if it’s not intentional, this is what it’s talking about.”

And, ultimately, it’s about how to absorb this new context today. “It engages me in a way that I can actually converse with myself about where I stand now and what I like,” Elston said.

How to book a reservation to hike Fern Canyon Trail

A hiker passes 50-foot-tall walls covered in ferns.

Fern Canyon Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Orick, Calif., greets visitors with 50-foot-tall walls covered in ferns.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Your feet will get wet, your car will need washing and you won’t mind. That’s just one measure of what awaits on the short, scenic hike through Fern Canyon in Humboldt County’s Prairie Creek Redwood State Park.

The Fern Canyon Loop Trail, which neighbors Gold Bluffs Beach, measures barely a mile. The altitude change is only about 150 feet. But the path takes you up a narrow canyon into a primordial jumble of greenery between walls that rise 50 to 80 feet on each side, nearly straight up.

People hike through water on the green trail.

Warning: Your feet will get wet.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

If the scene seems familiar, that’s understandable. Parts of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” were shot here 25 years ago, as were parts of the BBC’s “Walking With Dinosaurs.” A special-effects team added the film’s scampering dinosaurs in postproduction, but as you splash along now, it will be easy enough to imagine a Spinosaurus or Ceratosaurus lurking behind the next log.

It’s also easy to recognize that you’re far from Southern California — because there’s water everywhere.

The walls weep. The fronds drip. Home Creek riffles through the canyon and underfoot. Unless you’re a wizard at hopping rock to rock and balancing atop loose logs, your feet and ankles will get wet. Maybe your shins too. (Bring water shoes.)

 People stand on logs on the Fern Canyon Trail.

Expect some log-hopping on the trail.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Sword ferns, five-fingered ferns, lady ferns, chain ferns, deer ferns — they all mingle here, along with northern red-legged frogs, Pacific giant salamanders and sometimes Roosevelt elk. The tall trees throw deep shade, but photographer Myung Chun and I hit sunny patches too.

I felt guilty enjoying such a rare setting after such a short, easy walk. But I got over it.

“We’ve done Yosemite and seen the sequoias. But we wanted to see the redwoods. They’re different. And this is beautiful,” said hiker Jim Newton, who had come with his family from Maryland.

The second half of the loop is a more conventional route through Sitka spruce forest on higher ground. When I finished, I turned around to rehike the wet bit.

Logs on the wet and green Fern Canyon Trail.

Fern-covered walls reach up to 80 feet.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

And I didn’t feel guilty doing it, because this summer, rangers are experimenting with a cap on summer traffic on this route. For the first time, rangers are requiring summer visitors to either book their canyon-adjacent parking in advance or hike into the canyon from the park visitor center, a 10-mile round trip on the James Irvine Trail.

The requirement remains in place through Sept. 30. The day-use fee is $12 cash at the entrance, whether you come during summer or not. No dogs allowed.

Under the new system, rangers issue half-day reservations to 35 cars for 8 a.m. to noon, 35 more from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 20 all-day reservations. That means no more than 90 cars per day on the usually muddy access road — a dramatic change from 2019 and 2021, when rangers counted an average of about 250 cars per day. On those days, rangers say, the canyon was thronged with hikers.

A hiker holds up a phone to take a photo of a fern-covered canyon wall.

Sword ferns, five-fingered ferns, lady ferns, chain ferns and deer ferns all mingle here.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The new booking requirement, a pilot program, might cut down on spontaneity, but it follows a national pattern. Facing waves of stir-crazy pandemic-era park visitors, including many first-timers, rangers across the U.S. have been adding restrictions in a bid to fend off damage and overcrowding. (The summer’s day-trip reservation requirement in Yosemite National Park through Sept. 30 is part of the same trend.)

Chun and I arrived about 1 p.m. with the afternoon shift of hikers. I spoke with many, and heard no complaints about the reservation requirement or the foot traffic.

“I love to see people falling in love with nature,” said Kim Hill of Washington, D.C. “But I kind of want them to fall in love with nature while I’m not there.”

A hiker piggybacks another on the trail.

One way to keep your feet dry while hiking Fern Canyon Trail.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

If park officials decide the booking requirement is a success, it’s likely to return about May 1 next year.

Whenever you go, don’t underestimate the drive to the Fern Canyon trailhead on Davison Road. It’s a 7.5-mile, all-dirt access route that often features two shallow stream crossings (depending on the weather). Rangers recommend but don’t require SUVs and high-clearance vehicles. On the sunny day that we came, we made it up the road in a rented Chevrolet Malibu, no problem.

Footnote for hikers who hate company: Davison Road will close for grading Sept. 26-30. So if you want to be alone or nearly alone in the canyon, wait until that week. Then hike 5 miles into Fern Canyon from the park visitor center on the James Irvine Trail (and 5 miles back out).

If you go

Where to hike: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 127011 Newton B. Drury Parkway, Orick; (707) 464-6101.

Where to sleep: Trinidad Inn, 1170 Patrick’s Point Drive, Trinidad; (707) 677-3349. Nine rooms. I paid $123 for the smallest. Reservations by phone only.

Trinidad Bay B&B, 560 Edwards St., Trinidad; (707) 677-0840. Great view of the bay, pier and seastacks below. Four rooms, typically about $325-$395. nightly.

Where to eat: Once you get north of Arcata in Humboldt County, the dining options dwindle. We had one lunch and one dinner at Lighthouse Grill (355 Main St., Trinidad; (707) 677-0077). I’ve eaten well before at nearby Heady’s Pizza and Pour (359 Main St., Trinidad; (707) 677-3077) but this time the inside was crowded and it has no patio seating, so we steered clear. If you need breakfast at 7 a.m. try Murphy’s market and deli (Main and View streets, Trinidad; deli (707) 677-9473).

The Wild History of the Real ‘Only Murders’ Building

Fans of the Hulu series “Only Murders in the Building,” which returns for its second season this week, know the building at the center of the drama as the Arconia, where Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez play an unlikely trio of residents who become amateur sleuths with a podcast. But the Renaissance-style apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is actually called the Belnord, and it has been making headlines for more than a century.

From the get-go, the Belnord was a newsmaker — an edifice of excess, a home for hyperbole. When it was finished in 1909, covering a full city block at West 86th Street and Broadway, the architect boasted that it was the largest apartment building in the country, and maybe the world. Newspapers, including this one, touted the interior courtyard as the biggest in Manhattan — a half acre of open space, with a garden and a lawn “for a score of children to romp on,” crowned with a bountiful, tiered marble fountain.

They marveled at its capacious rental apartments, 175 of them, each 50 feet deep, stretching from street to courtyard, with interior decoration “in the style of Louis XVI” — pale, painted paneling and “harmoniously tinted silks” on the walls — and the most up-to-date modern conveniences. The refrigerators had ice machines, so no iceman would ever invade the Belnord, as one paper put it. On the roof, each apartment had a private laundry, a low-tech luxury that included a tub, ironing board and clothesline — for the convenience of one’s maid.

It would be its own city, this paper noted, with a population of more than 1,500. Over the years, there were notable tenants: Lee Strasberg, the dictatorial father of Method acting, who was often visited by his shy protégée Marilyn Monroe; Walter Matthau, when he was an up-and-coming theater actor with a young family; the actor Zero Mostel, who played Tevye in the original Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof”; and Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Nobel Prize-winning author, who liked to jog around the courtyard in a three-piece suit.

But by the 1970s, that city was in chaos. The ornate limestone-and-terra-cotta structure was crumbling, the roof was leaking and the plumbing cracked. Ceilings were collapsing. Stalactites, The New York Times reported in 1980, had formed in the basement. The fountain had been broken for years, and the garden was a fenced-in jungle, off limits to residents.

The building’s owner, Lillian Seril, would earn the dubious distinction of being one of the city’s worst landlords: By all accounts, she was both litigious and recalcitrant, refusing to fix even the simplest issues, but energetic enough to sue not only her tenants but also the landlord association that threw her out for not paying her dues. (Tenants recalled buying their own refrigerators and sneaking them in with the help of sympathetic building staff, because Mrs. Seril would not allow their broken appliances to be repaired or replaced.)

The Belnord’s residents, many of whom paid just a few hundred dollars a month for their enormous, house-like apartments, organized and revolted. In 1978, they began what would be the longest rent strike in the city’s history.

For the 16 years that it went on, the Belnord battle was so contentious that one housing court judge declared that the two sides deserved each other, before washing his hands of the case when a settlement he had brokered collapsed. “I’m convinced the tenants and the owner are going to litigate the building to death,” he said. A city official likened the situation to the siege of Beirut.

The battle ended in 1994, when the developer Gary Barnett, who was then only 38, bought the building with a group of investors for $15 million. (As part of the deal, Mrs. Seril insisted on retaining a 3,000-square-foot rent-controlled apartment for herself — at her death, in 2004, she was paying just $450 a month.) A decade later, Mr. Barnett and his company, Extell Development, would build One57, the funnel-shaped, blue-glass skyscraper on West 57th that was the city’s first supertall tower and, in so doing, incur the ire of preservationists, urban planners and civic groups. But in those years, he was a hero. The Belnord was his first Manhattan property, and he would spend $100 million shoring it up.

He made various deals with individual tenants as he attempted to turn the place into a luxury rental building, with some apartments that leased for up to $45,000 a month. For a rabbi and his family who were paying $275 for a 4,000-square-foot apartment, Mr. Barnett bought a house in the New Jersey suburbs. Then there was the penthouse dweller who hankered for the desert: He flew her to Las Vegas to pick out a house with a pool, arranged for its purchase and paid her moving expenses. Other tenants opted to keep their low rents, but agreed to swap their vast, 11-room apartments for smaller ones.

Mr. Barnett once joked that the fountain he had resuscitated at enormous expense — a project that involved disassembling and carting it away for repairs — was the fountain of youth, because nobody ever seemed to die at the Belnord.

“It was a labor of love to restore that building,” he said recently. “But I didn’t really understand what I was getting into. It was quite a picture.”

By 2015, Mr. Barnett was out of the picture, in a deal worth a reported $575 million.

Like everything else at the Belnord, the terms of Mr. Barnett’s mortgage had been problematic, and for a time, after he stopped making the loan payments, the city classified the property as “distressed.” (The calculus of the building’s debt and its rental revenue never quite added up.) And so a new group of investors swooped in — the cast of which kept changing, as various players dropped out because of insolvency, lawsuits and other calamities — to turn the place into a high-end condominium, converting the 100 or so available apartments into showplaces with Italian kitchens sheathed in marble.

Robert A.M. Stern, the architect whose firm handled the conversion, described the process as “a very high-class Botox treatment.”

Prices for the revamped units ranged from about $3.6 million to more than $11 million, although some tenants bought their own apartments at deep discounts. After a rocky start, the condos are now selling briskly, keeping pace with the high-end market in the city, said Jonathan Miller, the veteran property and market appraiser.

And now the Belnord is once again in the limelight, thanks to the Hulu series. John Hoffman, who created the show with Mr. Martin, was delighted and stunned to have scored the place for his production, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. While the atmospheric apartments of Mr. Martin, Mr. Short and Ms. Gomez’s characters were built on a sound stage, the story needed a building like the Belnord, with its grand appointments and panopticon of a courtyard.

“I was obsessed,” Mr. Hoffman said. “I knew we could make something as elevated as that amazing building. It’s a cliché to say that the building itself is a character, but I like the challenge of getting beyond that cliché a bit. What pulls us out of our apartments to meet people? How well do you know your neighbors? Do you only connect when it’s necessary? The ways in which we get pulled together when we live in these spaces is what’s really interesting.”

One Friday evening in early June, Debbie Marx, a Latin teacher and longtime Belnord resident, led a visitor through her unrenovated classic seven, its meandering, book-lined hallways a time capsule from 1959, the year her parents moved in. Her father, Josef Marx, was an oboist and musicologist who had his own music publishing company; her mother, Angelina, had been a ballerina. Ms. Marx moved back into her childhood apartment in the late 1980s, when she was pregnant with her first child and her mother was living there alone. Ms. Marx’s father had died in 1978, a victim, in a way, of the Belnord battle, having suffered a heart attack in the courthouse during a hearing with his fellow tenants.

Ms. Marx recalled growing up in the building — playing handball in the courtyard, which was forbidden by Mrs. Seril, and slipping through the bars of the fence to the off-limits garden, by then a riot of shrubs and trees. She had her own courtyard gang, with Walter Matthau’s daughter Jenny and others, but their transgressions were mild: nicking the hat from a doorman, commandeering the service elevator, dropping the odd water bomb.

“It’s like an archaeological site,” Richard Stengel said of the building. “The further you burrow down, you get a different culture and history.”

Mr. Stengel, the author, journalist and former State Department official, has been a tenant since 1992, when he moved into an apartment that had been charred by a fire and left vacant for years. (If you see Mr. Stengel on MSNBC, where he is a contributor, with a deep red bookshelf behind him, he is broadcasting from his apartment at the Belnord.)

John Scanlon, the wily public relations man who died in 2001, was also a ’90s-era tenant. In those days, Mr. Scanlon was embroiled in another long-running New York City real estate battle: the first Trump divorce. (He was Ivana Trump’s spokesman.)

Like Mr. Stengel, Mr. Scanlon was a member of a Belnord demographic that you might call literary-and-publishing adjacent. He liked to tease Mr. Stengel, who was then an editor of Time magazine, when they collided in the courtyard: “How does it feel to be on the cutting edge of the passé?”

Earlier waves of tenants included Jewish European émigrés, unreconstructed Socialists and scores of psychoanalysts.

“When we moved in, it had the feel of an Eastern European shtetl,” said Peter Krulewitch, a real estate investor who arrived 35 years ago with his wife, Deborah, a retired Estee Lauder executive, and soon formed what became known as the Belnord 18, one of the many splinter groups of building tenants who tried to negotiate with Mrs. Seril. “There were these wonderful aging lefties that had been there for years — and fought Mrs. Seril for years.”

In many cases, those tenants had succession rights for their children. So despite the influx of condo buyers, Mr. Krulewitch said, the Belnord is a city that still — although just barely — has a population more culturally varied than the monolithic moneyed class that has taken over much of Manhattan.

As Mr. Krulewitch put it, “It has been quite an adventure.”

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‘Edo era’ Coke machine is an amazing work of camouflage and craftsmanship

“A vending machine that’s overly concerned with (blending into) the urban landscape.”

This is how Japanese Twitter user Saho.explorer (@urbex_34) captioned the photo of an unusual vending machine he saw during his most recent travels. Saho.explorer enjoys photographing abandoned buildings, landscapes, and unusual architecture in Japan and abroad, the results of which he then shares on his Twitter account.

Many people imagine vending machines as having a colorful appearance. In Japan, they are often painted in bright colors such as red, blue or yellow so they can be easily recognized from afar.

However, this Coke machine goes out of its way to blend in, not stand out.

Photo: Reproduced with permission from Saho.explorer (@urbex_34)

This vending machine is the color of weathered wood, the same as that of the surrounding buildings.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that there’s a modern, red vending machine inside but it is housed within a stylishly designed and beautifully carved wooden frame that blends in with the building behind it.

In fact, this vending machine was photographed in the town of 大森 Omori, in the vicinity of the 石見銀山 Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, located in 大田市 Oda City, Shimane Prefecture.

The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2007, one of the 14 components of which was the mining settlement of Omori Ginzan (大森銀山). Thus, the townscape, reminiscent of the Edo period, has been preserved.


Many people were impressed by the photo of the vending machine that camouflages itself so well into its surroundings, making it look like something from the Edo era.

Some of the comments they left were:

“It shows the seriousness of the people in this town. I want to go and check it out for myself!”

“It blends in well with the townscape. The person who had the inspiration to do this and crafted this gorgeous wooden housing is a genius!”

“What a cool vending machine! With its design, it would look totally natural if a samurai in hakama (traditional Japanese male dress) bought something from it.”

The mining settlement of Omori Ginzan must really care about preserving its Edo-period townscape if it makes such an effort even for a single vending machine.

It also makes one wonder if they’ve done a similar treatment to things like phone booths and ATMs in the town.

Read more stories from grape Japan.

— Cat suddenly appears on portable shrine looking like messenger of feline gods

— Ominous “children at play” sign in Japan lives up to the warning it gives

— Give cheers with an impact with traditional Japanese cut Neon Genesis Evangelion drinking glass

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© grape Japan

French-Lebanese film wins top award at Asia short film festival

A French-Lebanese film depicting the secret passion of a migrant worker in Beirut won the top prize Monday for one of Asia’s largest short film festivals.

“Warsha” by Lebanese-Canadian director Dania Bdeir received the George Lucas Award, also known as the Grand Prix award, at this year’s Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, which concluded its two-week run of screenings at venues across Tokyo.

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How to apply make-up to mature skin | The Canberra Times

“Then if needed, a peachy toned under eye corrector, just for those very inner corners (not to be applied across the whole under eye, this will create ‘creasing’) then apply a weightless and luminous foundation that will give you a lovely coverage and glow, without the cake.”

Avocado prices to remain ‘relatively cheap’

NSW Farmers Coffs Harbour Chair Paul Shoker says the price of avocados will remain “relatively cheap” over the next six years after “significant expansion” in the industry.

“The concern is we would like to see retailers sticking with Australian avocados,” he told Sky News Australia.

“The temptation is, coming into Spring, it will shift to New Zealand avocados however the expansion in Western Australia in particular does mean we have avocados now pretty much 10 months in the year.

“There’s good value there for customers and good produce as well.”

Australian property investor couple reveal their tips to get rich

An Australian couple who have built a property portfolio worth $47 million have revealed the trick to success, and it’s something most of us have never thought about before.

If you want to get rich these days you need to think outside the box and turn your attention away from the shortsighted obsession over the residential property market.

That’s according to Australian property investors Scott and Mina O’Neill, who have grown a portfolio now worth $47 million by taking a different path than most.

Mina, 34, and Scott, 35, are both from Sydney and first worked in marketing and civil engineering before growing tired of the 9-5 grind and longing for freedom.

They turned their attention to investing and now operate commercial buyers agency Rethink Investing, which has grown from a two-person company to employing 38 staff. The couple currently own 26 properties, with three property developments underway.

Their portfolio has allowed them to gain financial freedom from their jobs, and now they are helping others crack into the commercial property markets.

They are also enjoying being able to spend months of the year travelling and working in different locations.

Their main advice for those wanting to get rich? Focus on the commercial market.

“Now is a great time to invest,” the couple said. “In a higher inflation market like the one we are in today we are seeing commercial rents increases at their fastest rates in decades.”

The couple, who have also penned a book, Rethink Property Investing, said the trick is to look broadly for options.

“Don’t only consider investing in your own local area. Australia has many markets moving at different stages of the property cycles.

“Invest for cashflow and capital growth. Many investors fail to prioritise cashflow and only focus on growth. This is a mistake if you want to create a retirement grade portfolio, cashflow is essential.”

If needed, residential ownership could be a stepping stone to commercial ownership.

“Consider residential property if you don’t have a deposit large enough for commercial. Note that we recommend having at least $250,000 as a deposit for a commercial property.

“And if you don’t have the time to learn about commercial property investing from start to finish, consider using an expert/experience commercial buyer’s agent.”

The duo say one of the biggest surprises they’re greeted with from their clients is the misconceptions around commercial investing.

“We are surprised how more people don’t consider commercial property in the first place. The numbers speak for themselves,” the couple said.

“We often hear, ‘this is too good to be true’ when it comes to how fast you can build a passive income through commercial property. They are so used to negatively geared residential property that it’s interesting to see how commercial flies under the radar.

“Once they purchase a commercial property they rarely go back to residential investing.”

The couple said they have spent thousands of hours researching the commercial sectors, to determine which will perform best.

Their investment choices include multiple industrial warehouses due to extremely tight rental vacant rates, high rent growth and strong capital growth results, along with two fast food drive through investments – a KFC and Hungry Jacks on 15 year lease – as this sector has proven to be extremely resilient in all market conditions.

They have also purchased a shopping centre with a supermarket and a chemist warehouse as the major tenant, as well as medical properties such as dentists and GP’s, as they are safe, recession proof tenants.

All of these tenants combined gives the couple around $2.5 million in annual rent.

Originally published as Australian property investor couple reveal their tips to get rich

Exploring the 5 Love Languages: the Egyptian Edition

Exploring the 5 Love Languages: the Egyptian Edition

image via ping

In his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts (1992), American author Gary Chapman identified five ways that people use to express their love to each other.

Essentially, Chapman found out that people can receive expressions of love that are not connected to their own love languages. In knowing another’s love languages, Chapman argued that people can be sure they are truly loved.

The five love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

The whole idea is to meet those you love in conjunction with their way of receiving love, and vice versa. Although these five love languages are broad and universal, translating them can differ from culture to culture.

“I think we [in Egypt] have our own renditions, but ultimately they fit with Chapman’s five love languages,” highlighted Fayrouz Ibrahim, a postgraduate student at the American University in Cairo.

Egyptian Streets asked its audience about the Egyptian renditions of the five love languages, and here are some of their answers.

Words of Affirmation

“Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communications of love. They are best expressed in simple, straightforward statements of affirmation, such as: ‘you look sharp in that suit,’” explained Chapman.

Chapman divided verbal expressions into three categories: encouraging words, kind words, and humble words. Generally, Egyptians are unique with their expressions, and their compliments often sound quirky and notably funny.

Expressions such as Amar Arba’tashar — which translates to the full moon in the middle or the 14th day of the lunar month — is usually said when Egyptians want to extend kindness by expressing how beautiful someone is, and Allah yenawar ya ‘am Ahmed, which translates to ‘God light up Mr. Ahmed’, is often said by Egyptians when they want to express encouraging words to someone by giving them thanks or praise.

Quality Time

Chapman described quality time as the ‘right kind of time.’ He highlighted that quality time means giving someone your undivided attention, having quality conversation, learning to talk, and doing quality activities.

“I think helping my teita (grandmother) with kahk falls under quality time. Eating together on one sufra (dining table) during Eid also falls under quality time,” explained Hania Ibrahim when asked by Egyptian Streets, a Political Science Graduate at the American University in Cairo.

Quality time does not only constitute spending time together, but savoring every hour spent together and making it as meaningful as possible.

“Choosing to take the longer route to spend more time with someone despite Egyptian traffic is also considered a love language in Egypt,” stated Salma Farid, Applied Arts student at the German University in Cairo.

Receiving Gifts

Getting something when visiting someone is generally common in Egypt – from dessert, to flowers, and more, gift-giving is valued in Egypt. One of the most common examples of gift giving in Egypt is given in the form of the 3edeya, which is basically a sum of money given by older members of the family on special occasions.

Chapman underlined that gifts don’t need to be expensive or given on a weekly basis. He expressed that for some individuals, the worth of the gifts has almost nothing to do with their monetary value, and ‘everything to do with love.’

“Everytime I would tell my father that I liked a specific kind of food, especially fruits, he would always end up buying it the next day in bulk as his way of showing love,” stated Malak Sherif, 23, Assistant Brand Manager at Ariika.

Acts of Service

Sometimes, “actions speak louder than words.” Egyptians are generally helpers by nature, if an individual is ever lost and needs directions, stranded with a flat tire, or generally just helpless, Egyptians usually step up their game.

“Making an erba (heating pad) for someone on a cold day or when women are on their period to ease their pain is an underrated act of service,” underscored Selina Nashaat, Graphic Design student at the American University in Cairo.

“My father’s love language is evident when he cooks me three meals a day and when I’m tired, he makes sure to always check my temperature and takes care of me. He is not really big on hugs or sweet words, but always shows his love with his actions,” said Bassant Othman, a 27-year-old veterinarian.

Physical Touch

Though physical touch between genders is largely restricted due to cultural limitations, it is practiced between family members.

For example, some Egyptians have the habit of kissing their mothers on the head as a way of showing love and appreciation.

Although Champan underlined that the five love languages are universal, he stated that the dialects in which these languages are spoken will differ from culture to culture. When the cultural adaptations are made, the five love languages will have a profound impact on how individuals deal with each other.

“Love doesn’t erase the past, but it makes the future different. When we choose active expressions of love in the primary language…we create an emotional climate where we can deal with our past conflicts and failures,” Chapman expressed.

Some individuals will instantaneously know their primary love languages, for others, it will not be that easy. However, it is important to take the time to understand one another’s languages, or, in the case of Egypt, recognize the affections as soon as we land a big batch of home-made wara2 3einab (stuffed vine leaves).

Between Nostalgia and Hope: ‘Rivo’ Series Review

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Grilled chicken pitas with homemade potato wedges

Pitas are one of the quick and easiest meals to prepare, and are super versatile as you can enjoy this with any of your favourite protein, vegetables or sauces.

These grilled chicken pitas are jam packed with a lot of flavour and yummy vegetables, and can be cooked and prepared in just 25 minutes.

We have also added a delicious homemade potato wedges recipe to pair with your mouthwatering chicken pitas.

Grilled chicken pitas

grilled chicken pita
Yummy grilled chicken pitas. Picture: Pinterest


For the pita bread filling

  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans from a can
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice more for drizzling on top
  • 4 pieces pita bread, grilled
  • 1 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 2 cups arugula, lettuce or rocket
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the grilled chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons chicken spice of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste

ALSO TRY: Recipe of the day: Stir fried beef with ginger and garlic


For the grilled chicken breasts

  1. Combine all of the ingredients inside the bowl, marinate over the night or at least 1 hour. Grill on high heat for 6-8 minutes on each side.

For the grilled chicken pitas

  1. In a mixing bowl combine onion, garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  2. Grill pita bread then spread yogurt, add arugula, tomatoes, garbanzo bean mixture, avocado and grilled chicken slices. Serve with Greek yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of black pepper over the top.
  3. Enjoy delicious homemade grilled chicken pita sandwiches!

This recipe was found on

Oven-baked potato wedges

potato wedges
Crispy oven-baked potato wedges. Picture: Pinterest


  • 2 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into eighths
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  2. Place potatoes, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper into a resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag, then shake until potatoes are evenly coated with seasoning. Spread potatoes onto a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.
  4. Serve and enjoy with your favourite condiments or dipping sauce.

This recipe was found on