Friday, November 25, 2005
I shop therefore I am
I plan on getting my celebrity wake-up call (preferably from Heidi Klum) just as a reinforcement to roll my ass out when it's still twilight. Gotta love the smell of capitalism in the morning!
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Well, before Whitey got all medieval on their ass, spreading tuberculosis and forcing mandatory conversions to Christianity before exiling them to the fringes of their own land. Nothing makes sucking on turkey bones more sentimental than knowing the atrocities suffered to those pesky redskins were smoothed over with just a few slices of pumpkin pie and candied yams all in the name of manifest destiny. It's Thanksgiving, everybody!
Rather than buying into any more of the cliches that come with forced family fun and wall-to-wall pigskin coverage on TV, here's a round down of what I'm thankful for. Counting your blessings never rings trivial in spite of the blood-stained history behind it.
No slaving in front of the kitchen stove for me today. The higher powers decided go easy this time around...thank goodness. Ma Dukes is working and I have no reason to drive myself into a raving lunatic with brining vs. basting, whole berry or jellied cranberry sauce out the can and suppressing the need to upchuck over the sight of Butterball's giblet packet which always brings to mind childbirth in its post-embryonic phase.
And speaking of gag reflexes, vegetarians can you please explain the appeal of the Tofurkey (right)? A clump of soy that resembles a bowel movement is supposed be an appealing alternative to Shady Brook Farms? Just bulk up on the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Seriously.
Duck duck goose? This carnivorous combination shown to the left is a Cajun specialty called a turducken.
What the hell is a turducken you may ask? In short, it's a deboned duck stuffed inside a deboned chicken crammed into a deboned turkey layered with sausage, oyster and cornbread stuffings. Such a quirky name to distract from what this Extra Calorie Meal x 10,000 really is. Poultry incest. Mmmm, savor the bird flu rainbow!
Leave it up to Southerners to find new ways to conjure up new monstrosities that incorporate at least 5 different kinds of meats into one artery clogging dish.
I don't know about you, but any food that has a prefix of turd... something's clearly a-fowl. Surely we'll soon see camel humps stuffed into a pig and cooked inside a buffalo under the guise of fine dining.
And last but certainly not least, the occurrence I'm totally in gratitude for is the merciful end to the sham that was Ken and Barbie come to life, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. Smart money's on Team Nick to split from this with the upper hand, especially if he moves to continue his forays into acting. The poor guy's been pretending to be happily married to the Anna Nicole Smith of pop music and a freakazoid father-in-law for so long, he's practically mastered the Lee Strasberg technique of disappearing into a role.
I'm sure Papa Joe's relieved that he can resume his late-night tuck-ins without any objections now.
The latest addition to MTV's 10 Spot, Newly Divorced is gonna rawk!
Sunday, November 20, 2005
8 letters + 3 words = 1 meaning
"It's so interesting... you can tell a man 'I hate you' and have the best sex of your life. If you tell him 'I love you'... you'll probably never see him again." — Samantha Jones, Sex and the CityThree little words that function as an emotional landmine. They can either strengthen or detonate a relationship. It rolls off the tongue of so many lips, but how many of us actually know what it means to be well past "kinda sorta like" and two steps beyond fleeting infatuation? Is it something that can be easily defined with a symptom list?
I can categorize the after effects of my prior postmortems into two tidy categories: B.T.L.W. and A.T.L.W. Before and after the L-word.
There was the time I never thought I'd hear it said to me. I was 17 and had just stuck my pinky toe into the wading pool of online dating at the urging of my campus roommate. His name was Shaun*, fit my older man quota at the swoonable legal limit of 21, lived just outside Miami in Coconut Grove and was fine as all get out. We had gone back and forth e-mailing and talking on the phone for about 2 months. One day after blowing off Art History to space out at the melody of his baritone, he called and we were in the middle of another 3 hour gabfest. Then he dropped the bomb on me. The L-word. I couldn't even say anything except, "is that track 11 or 14 off the 112 CD?"
Love is one of the few human activities we enter into willingly — hell, eagerly — knowing that the best outcome we can hope for is to fall.Then there was the time I never thought I'd utter the phrase at the most inopportune time. During a jubilant first down play celebration among a throng of screaming, face-painted men at the 2002-03 AFC Jets-Colts Wild Card home playoff, I had to blurt out the ticking time bomb in mid-embrace which temporarily drew attention away from Santana Moss' sprint to the end zone to the stunned expression of the object of my affection who now knew the extent of my feelings fueled from the pheromones going into overdrive at the nearness of him and one too many styrofoam cups of Coors Light. Talk about one uneasy ride back across the Holland Tunnel in silence. Locking myself into a piss-drenched bathroom stall would've been a more appealing alternative than the pirouettes on eggshells to downplay the seriousness of my sudden attack of word vomit.
I used to envision the definitions of what love is by the silver screen's version of what it's supposed to be. Logic would indicate that art imitates life, so I couldn't help but fantasize through rose-colored glasses about exclamation points straight from a Hollywood movie. Melodramatic displays of affection. Powerful declarations of being the one and only. The grand gesture. But nowadays I think a man willing to give up their seat to me on the subway is the height of romance.
Flipping through old journals from high school, you would've sworn that Cupid got an hourly commission rate for the amount of times I thought I was head over heels for some new crush. It took me a while to understand that physical attraction alone is a shaky foundation at best if I was looking to find something deeper. I still haven't lucked out to find the oh-so-elusive "special someone" with whom the L-word is a mutual feeling yet. However I do know now from past mistakes what love isn't. It's not selfish. It's not merely a feeling. It's not a means to tip the scales in your favor conveniently. It isn't expecting all of your needs to be met. It cannot complete you. It isn't an appointment booked weeks in advance on life's desk calendar. It's an unmarked gift delivered when least expected. Next time around I can only keep my fingers crossed it'll be a signature confirmation with my name on it.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Babes in toyland
Now Felicia is the kind of girl who rolls her neck for emphasis. The type who will approach a guy in a bar with little prodding or persuasion. Of the brutally honest ilk who make you feel like an idiot 9 times out of 10 when you ask her opinion because the mouthful given is just way more than you bargained for. She's brash, forward to a fault and a natural-born go-getter. In many ways, the polar opposite of me. So I wasn't quite sure what to make of the e-mail forwarded when I logged Tuesday morning and saw a potentially harmless new message awaiting me among the avalanche of "I needed this yesterday" and "how quickly do you think the turnaround will be?"
Subject title just left at one word... toys. During working hours I'm resigned to playing the role of Monty Spamalot since my inbox is flooded with an onslaught of pointless chain letters, I've lost count at how many times I've hit the delete button on reflex alone. So I figured this would be more of the same. Innocuous enough, you'd think... right?
The type of toys in question weren't the kind bought for ages 3 and up at Kay-Bee with some assembly required. I wondered briefly why in the world she was coming to me for a referral on where to buy one, but after backtracking my brain for clues, it hit me soon after. I remembered a couple of us had dished some details during a balmy, summer night get-together over a round of caipirinhas in July. You can't even mention the slightest thing in passing without being christened the duchess of dildos as a mental note for future reference. Ay dios mio.
I figured just giving her the names and addresses for her pilgrimage to the Pathmarks of porn would be sufficient, but nope... she needed a backup chaperone. Once we arrived at the land of teenagers in tiaras and last season's Urban Outfitters ensembles (better known as Christopher St. for the out-of-townies), I headed in the direction of the Pink Pussycat so she could break her battery-operated usage cherry, but I suppose the overeager cashier in front of the multitude of bondage restraints didn't ease her tension, so I settled on The Pleasure Chest. Low sleaze factor and the exterior doesn't exude seedy stripper's saloon at full voltage. Baby steps, one handcuff at a time...
Talk about Alice-in-a-kinked-out-wonderland. She had still retreated from her normal ball buster stance into a longtime relic at the Choirgirl Hotel. Cowering behind the penis pasta and dirty greeting cards, I nearly had to slap this heifer out of her comatose state just to move past the doorway. It was perfectly okay for her to morph into the Janet Maslin of "back massagers" at Brookstone, yet she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown here. Those crazy faux-Christians... but then again, in a country that's so uptight fundamentalists still define sexual aides through the narrow window of solely disorders and disease, it's not really surprising. Thanks to some gentle prodding (pun totally intended) from the multi-pierced and super helpful salesgirl there to walk her through the vast variety, Fifi Dearest was beginning to see things for what they were. Good, old-fashioned cheeky fun. We were finally able to laugh at the absurdity of the different sizes and colors all on display. And of course once the floodgates were opened, the bible thumper was on a roll. Pocket rocket, check. Flavored condoms, check. Blindfolds, check. I think the short Hispanic guy restocking the DVD's almost shed a tear for such an about face. It was a transformation truly worth of exultation. Praise the Lord and pass the Duracells.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Who's got the Vibe?
Less interesting than the Country Music Association's shindig at MSG and with a budget of pocket lint and shoestrings, the taped telecast was broadcast from the Econo Lodge in downtown L.A. with designated UPN Negro spokesmodel Tracee Ellis Ross and the Chris Farley of Black comedy, Anthony Anderson as the supposed "celebrity hosts." In its third year, the bonus should be that all attendants left without any puncture wounds after last year's melee involving a crowd participant, Dr. Dre & Young Buck.
Kicking off this banquet in red carpet clothing was the incredible miming hermaphrodite her(him)self, the laughably monikered "Queen of Crunk & B" Ciara. Try as she might to pillage the polished precision of her most obvious influence - Janet Jackson - she couldn't hold her nipple shield even at La J's most bloated. Gone are the times of actually rehearsing something that'll make the kiddies want to memorize the moves to bust out at the playground the next day. Merely popping your flat ass and whipping wet 'n wavy yak hair around in a hornet's nest constitutes groundbreaking choreography nowadays. The most telling moment of this limp opener came at the mandatory "hold up, wait a minute" fancy footwork breakdown to a shitty remix.
"Ya'll wanna see me dance?"The audience who were probably already agitated with the hors d'oeurves of pigs in a blanket and cubed Cracker Barrel certainly didn't warm up to her call and response.
*tumblewood rolling by*
Maybe she should've just canned the Boys & Girls Club of Compton as her backing troupe and just whipped her dick out for amusement. Now there's fine FCC-endorsed fun for the entire family.
Up next on the Saturday afternoon Soul Train throwback to forgettable appearances was Young Jeezy and Akon's descent to utter laziness. How in the hell is it necessary to lip synch a goddamn rap song with a one-octave hook?!
Leave it up to the brainchildren at Vibe to come up with the dumbest categories (Hottest Hook, anyone?) and even dumber reasons to bestow honors to the most baffling choices. Case in point, the Stepford beard of hip-hop, Kimora Lee Simmons.
Dual winner for Vibe Vixen (the hell?) and even more egregious - VStyle (are you fucking kidding me? Baby Phat earns more revenue on the clearance rack rather than full-priced retail), Kimmy Lee unveiled her newest look. Imitation dancehall queen. Following in the bargain basement attire of her Asian sistren Junko, ol' Kimono got wiggy with it as a walking platinum blonde mess.
Even more troubling from Kim-Foo Young was the constant giggly shoutouts to the mogul midget who could as "her baby daddy" as if the patronizing attempts to be "down" in a room full of Nigras would be well received.
One of these days, my wish to see Ball Park frank neck banished to the confines of their Saddle River compound for good will be realized.
After channel surfing for an eternity to try and replenish the many brain cells lost while falling under UPN's kryptonite haze, I clicked back to see that the Next award for best new artist wound up as.... a tie! A collective eye roll was given as both Young Jeezy and Keyshia Cole were the recipients. Since when was the NHL a corporate sponsor? There's no ties in nonsensical award shows!
And speaking of Ms. Cole, anyone know if she was home schooled at a correctional facility? Her diction is right up there with such other well known scholars in the industry who have mastered the art of enunciation obliteration to a tee.
Ludacris + a confederate flag jumpsuit = pretty fucking stupid. This Quik rabbit trapped in the body of a My Buddy doll has been teetering on the edge of "nutty nigga-itis" for some time now, but he's finally sunk into the abyss of latent stupidity. What's next? Ropes around our neck and pointy white hoods as the newest trend to turn negative historical symbols into an acceptable form of culture pimping for the masses?
I know it's the heartwarming tale to see a former pop star rise like a phoenix once more to conquer the charts, but Tina Turner clearly Mariah Carey ain't. Four Lego model statuettes seemed more than a bit excessive for my tastes, but in happier news - Mary J. Blige appears to be hitting the crack pipe again. Picking a fight with the editor-in-chief (wish they would've aired that one) because the mag cover on newsstands now resemble Chester the Cheetah while accepting an undeserved Legend Award? Could this be scripted any better? Hallelujah! Finally, some decent material to look forward to now. Call me cold and bitchy, but the "no more drama" version 2.0 of MJB has produced nothing but extra drink coasters from 1997 onwards. Every cloud has a silver lining, and in the grand scheme of a telecast that made even BET look current, I'll take whatever I can get.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
How Grandma didn't get her groove back
If American Life was for the head, Confessions On A Dance Floor is strictly meant for the feet. However, while music critics by and large have given an overall enthusiastic thumbs up (Entertainment Weekly's Michael Slezak may quite possibly kickstart the first male menstrual cycle with his finger snapped salute to COADF on PopWatch) to Confessions, I wasn't quite ready to take my vintage pair of Sergio Valentes out of storage to party like it was 1985 all over again. I suppose this is the part where I should renounce my platinum fag hag membership because I dared to back away from the altar of Our Lady of Ciccone, but for an album designed to coax the party-girl-gone-astray out of me, I felt like a wallflower for longer than expected while tuned in.
Moving away from the aristocratic English pretension of her current Lady Madonna incarnation and back into the darkened jungle where she's always been most at home, the first three tracks come at you with the fury of a disco inferno and are worthy of instant repeat value. The first single, "Hung Up" is a delectable slice of heaven which owes much of the frenetic BPM's to ABBA's 1979 campy chestnut "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)." The constant clock ticking which seems to be a concurrent theme throughout blends into the blurry soundscape of the Stardust-inspired "Get Together." Rounding out the amplified trifecta is an litany of multilingual apologies which picks up the pace yet again as "Sorry" pounds with a driving bassline courtesy of the Jackson's "Can You Feel It."
The problems begin when she starts to drift from the guilty pleasures of merely shaking your ass down to the ground to the overwhelming need to spout off more empty truisms with a "deeper meaning." On the dubiously titled "Let It Will Be," Madge gets all E! True Hollywood Story on us with a spiffy opener: "Now I can tell you about success, about fame/About the rise and the fall of all the stars in the sky..." Sound familiar? It should, the rehash was detailed ad nauseum on "Drowned World/Substitute For Love" 7 years ago. Haven't we had all the inner peace/ethereal reference bases covered since she spit out her litter of rugrats and allegedly gained a conscience? If I hear one more allusion to light, I may just need to indulge in a bit of erotic asphyxiation with a red string bracelet. And in her tongue-in-cheek ode to the city that never sleeps has even more embarrassing dialogue than her last children's book: "I don't like cities, but I like New York/Other places make me feel like a dork."
British DJ/remixer Stuart Price a.k.a. Jacques Du Cont (of Les Rhythmes Digitales) was brought in this time around as the main collaborator and his productions swathes each cut with dizzying pace and dense production. The LP was mixed as a throwback to older disco EP's which flowed seamlessly from one song to another irregardless to track numbers. However, the digital bells and whistles could've benefited from less trendy techno posturing and simply more percussion of the traditional house variety. This merely seems like window dressing as opposed to some of her latter-day gems which winked and nodded to the joys of rediscovering the groove on Impressive Instant, Nothing Really Matters and Thief Of Hearts with ease.
In her attempt to prove that she can still hang out with the raver kids past a yoga mama's scheduled curfew, it only makes me long for the sugar rush of her early classics all the more. A time when she believed in power of the beat and remaining under the DJ's spell would save the world. And when she used to dance... for inspiration.
Download this: Hung Up, Get Together, Sorry, Forbidden Love, Push, Jump
Monday, November 14, 2005
A right to be hostile
And that was just the introduction clocked in at 1 minute, 36 seconds and counting. The socially distorted world so vividly drawn on daily UComics strips is brought to sharply animated life in Cartoon Network's adaptation of The Boondocks.
Welcome to life in Woodcrest, a surbuban enclave outside of Chicago that centers around 10-year-old rebel with a cause Huey Freeman and his 8-year old younger brother Riley (both convincingly voiced by actress Regina King) who've moved from the South Side for a better life with their grandfather Robert (smartly cast with the always entertaining John Witherspoon) who serves as their caretaker.
The strip, and now the series skillfully illustrate a world where the generation gap never seems wider and the truth about what's Black, White and uncomfortable all over are never out of sight, nor out of mind. At first blush, The Boondocks is a welcome blast of fresh air that lives up to its considerable hype. It's frequently funny, fearless and brutally frank in its approach. And while the pressure is on creator Aaron McGruder to keep the shock value high for ratings' sake, the central theme that comes across on the newspaper page isn't lost in translation — Huey consistently left disappointed by the antics of the shades of him while raging against the establishment of White folks in general, and Riley, whose personal credo is less protests and more "it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that bling."
From his perspective, McGruder has commented he isn't concerned with what White people think about The Boondocks. Nor, for that matter, Black people. It's this unwillingness to ingratiate for the approval of self-appointed media gatekeepers of African-American imagery (yes Bill Cosby & company, this means you) that separates this series from anything you've seen before. While the first episode from last week's launch, The Garden Party, felt a bit too eager to flaunt the creative freedom allowed on the Adult Swim banner with N-bombs crammed in a 22 minute space (the "look how edgy we are!" undercurrent toed the line of subtlety a bit too often), last night's imagined day in court for the urinary tract infection of R&B in The Trial Of R. Kelly was a breakthrough of utter proportions. I haven't been shocked and brought to the brink of side-splitting tears so many times in one sitting (by a cartoon, no less!) in ages. From the courtroom clash of the Pied Pisser's backers and protesters (which included of all people, Cornel West) to Uncle Ruckus's unabashedly racist stance towards his own, it shines an unflinching, unairbrushed look at the reflection we've refused to examine for so long. Ourselves.
Friday, November 11, 2005
In a show that aired on Monday, the former supermodel got a taste of what it's like on the heavier side of the spectrum as part of an undercover project which disguised her in a 350-lb. fat suit. There's nothing more comforting than making the obese feel worse by having a shapely star of Victoria's Secret go out and pretend to be fat for 1 day, only to thank her lucky stars once the cameras were off for being aesthetically blessed.
"I started walking down the street and within 10 seconds, a trio of people looked at me, snickered, looked me right in my eye and started pointing and laughing in my face," the talk-show host said. "And I had no idea it was that blatant."You heard it here first. The overweight are specifically targeted to be made fun of... film at 11.
Elsewhere in other pathetic displays of art imitating life, author Terry McMillan decided that the gossip columns weren't sufficient to air out the dirty laundry of her marriage bustup. So, it's lights, camera and disillusioned relationship to 23 years-younger boy toy Jonathan Plummer recounted in detail on Oprah. Smart move.
Most incredulous amid the whole "he said/she said" soapdish is just how many warning signs this broad clearly bypassed before the friend of Dorothy came clean about his man-loving tendencies 3 years into the union. Among the instances that had Queer As Folk written in neon lettering:
• the fact he approached her for collateral to open a dog grooming shop
• finding gay porn DVD's in his car and while trying to believe the excuse he was sending them back home to a friend in Jamaica with a straight face
• discovering his profile posted on a gay website
Or better yet, instead of trolling for the first native dick to come her way while on vacation, she could've saved herself a shitload of heartache by just looking at this motherfucker! I mean, c'mon! With arched eyebrows, a 'do out of the Jermaine Stewart playbook and the most obvious DSL's I've ever laid my eyes on, was it that much of a stretch to figure out this guy's gayer than pink suede?!
And speaking of blatant agenda pushing in the company of Ms. Winfrey, what the world needs now is yet another dose of Beyoncé product plugging. This time around, the promotion isn't music-related but to drum up interest for Mommie Dearest's fashion line, House of
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Something borrowed, something true
It was a tough list to make - and I did it my way...
25. 32 Flavors, Alana Davis [original: Ani DiFranco]
24. Bohemian Rhapsody, The Braids [original: Queen]
23. I Can't Make You Love Me, George Michael [original: Bonnie Raitt]
22. Baby I'm For Real (Natural High), After 7 [original: The Originals/Bloodstone)
21. This Woman's Work, Maxwell [original: Kate Bush]
20. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Marilyn Manson [original: Eurythmics]
19. Hello, It's Me, Groove Theory [original: Todd Rundgren]
18. Smooth Criminal, Alien Ant Farm [original: Michael Jackson]
17. Waiting In Vain, Annie Lennox [original: Bob Marley]
16. Why Can't We Live Together, Sade [original: Timmy Thomas]
15. Love Changes, Kashif featuring Meli'sa Morgan [original: Mother's Finest]
14. Tainted Love, Soft Cell [original: Gloria Jones]
13. I'll Be There, Mariah Carey [original: The Jackson 5]
12. Black Magic Woman, Santana [original: Fleetwood Mac]
11. Giving Him Something He Can Feel, En Vogue [original: Aretha Franklin]
10. Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O' Connor [original: Prince]
9. Killing Me Softly, The Fugees [original: Roberta Flack]
8. Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon, Urge Overkill [original: Neil Diamond]
7. Across The Universe, Fiona Apple [original: John Lennon]
6. I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston [original: Dolly Parton]
5. The Tide Is High, Blondie [original: The Paragons]
4. Proud Mary, Ike & Tina Turner [original: Creedence Clearwater Revival]
3. All Along The Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix Experience [original: Bob Dylan]
2. Respect, Aretha Franklin [original: Otis Redding]
1. I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye [original: Gladys Knight & The Pips]
Honorable mentions: Hard To Handle by The Black Crowes (Otis Redding), I Will Survive by Cake/Chantay Savage (Gloria Gaynor), Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen), Superstar by Sonic Youth (The Carpenters), Torn by Natalie Imbruglia (Ednaswap), I Want You by Madonna (Marvin Gaye), Do Me Baby by Meli'sa Morgan (Prince), As We Lay by Kelly Price (Shirley Murdock), Blue Monday by Orgy (New Order), Emotion by Destiny's Child (Samantha Sang), You Know How To Love Me by Lisa Stansfield (Phyllis Hyman), If You Don't Know Me By Now by Simply Red (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes)
And now we've saluted the best, it's time to jeer the rest. The list of artists who couldn't hack it with their own material and take the short cut for a quickie appearance on Billboard by covering a classic song is longer than R. Kelly's inane multi-chaptered miniseries. Nothing makes me see red more than some idiot who takes a buzzsaw needlessly to a classic song. The same 3-rule standard applies: utter banality (if you can't tell the cover from the original, what was the point?), overcompensating (trying too hard to modernize an older track with bells and whistles that remind the listener of what an aural dump sounds like) and overall popularity (how many assholes fell for the okiedoke of an otherwise shitty cover). Drumroll, please...
20. Open Arms, Mariah Carey [original: Journey]
19. Cats In The Cradle, Ugly Kid Joe [original: Harry Chapin]
18. Right Here Waiting, Monica featuring 112 [original: Richard Marx]
17. Just Got Paid, N' Sync [original: Johnny Kemp]
16. Our Lips Are Sealed, Hilary & Haylie Duff [original: The Go-Go's]
15. Everything I Do (I Do It For You), Brandy [original: Bryan Adams]
14. Faith, Limp Bizkit [original: George Michael]
13. These Boots Were Made For Walking, Jessica Simpson [original: Nancy Sinatra]
12. Bringin' On The Heartbreak, Mariah Carey [original: Def Leppard]
11. American Woman, Lenny Kravitz [original: The Guess Who]
10. Time After Time, INOJ [original: Cyndi Lauper]
9. Because The Night, 10,000 Maniacs [original: Patti Smith]
8. Dancing In The Streets, David Bowie & Mick Jagger [original: Martha & The Vandellas]
7. When Doves Cry, Ginuwine [original: Prince]
6. Take My Breath Away, Jessica Simpson [original: Berlin]
5. The Beautiful Ones, Mariah Carey featuring Dru Hill [original: Prince]
4. My Prerogative, Britney Spears [original: Bobby Brown]
3. Sweet Child O' Mine, Sheryl Crow [original: Guns 'N Roses]
2. American Pie, Madonna [original: Don McLean]
1. When A Man Loves A Woman, Michael Bolton [original: Percy Sledge]
Monday, November 07, 2005
Be aggressive, B-E aggressive!
TAMPA (AP) — Two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were arrested at a bar where witnesses told police the women were having sex in a restroom stall, angering patrons waiting in line.Now judging by this booking photo, the only offense is in revealing in gruesome detail just how much a good makeup job can cover up. Remember the days when cheerleaders were the bitches you spent 1st through 6th period hating on a daily basis? Now look (if you must) as what passes for pom-pom waving material these days.
Renee Thomas, 20, of Pittsboro, N.C., and Angela Keathley, 26, of Belmont, N.C., were taken to Hillsborough County Jail early Sunday. Witnesses said the women were having sex with each other in a stall at the club in the Channelside district.
They were kicked off the team Monday for violating a signed code that bans conduct embarrassing to the team or organization, Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said. [source: USA Today]
Even more of a kneeslapper is the blatant hypocrisy once you get past the shock value to the fine print. "Conduct embarrassing to the team or organization"? You mean the same team that dragged their feet on suspending an alleged murderer in Rae Carruth? A league that looks the other way when Minnesota Vikings players organize a booze cruise with professionals of the call girl variety? That counts Viagra as a corporate sponsor? Cut the shit already...a sapphic bar sampler is the most exciting thing to hit North Carolina since the last dirt car series at 311 Speedway. And let's face it...if two cheerleaders can't get it on in public, then we're letting the terrorists win. Because we're fighting them over there, so we don't lose our girl-on-girl action here.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Touching the sky, unhooking the stars
On the way in, we were both disappointed to learn that Common had bowed out of the Touch the Sky tour to accept a film role alongside Ben Affleck, Ray Liotta and Alicia Keys. Dammit, I was looking forward to seeing Testify backed by a live band. Kicking off the show as the primer to a still incoming crowd would be Oakland native Keyshia Cole. The rawness and no-nonsense emotions behind such a throaty voice have earned her comparisons as the heir apparent to Mary J. Blige's queen of hip-hop soul throne. But after a brief 6-song set, those lofty parallels were quickly put to rest. Clearly Cole has the talent, but canned backing tapes and two accompanying dancers who looked fresh out the Wade Robson school of stiffness added nothing to her impassioned wails. It boiled what amounts to a solid R&B palette on wax down to underwhelming, middle-of-the road fare up close and personal. Being right in the midst of her 'round-the-way-girl fanbase, current hit "I Should Have Cheated" got a welcome reception with her ghetto soul shtick. By the time Keyshia took a stab at being a showstopper in covering "I'm Going Down," the audience should've been crooning along, instead, most people seemed to still be finding their seats. Yawn.
3rd season American Idol champ Fantasia wisely opted for a full band to give layers to the pedestrian offerings from debut album Free Yourself. Clad in "was her stylist blindfolded?" black biker shorts, thigh-high black boots and frilly white blouse, the outfit had High Point, NC stamped all over it. Fresh out the box, Barrino's fever pitch was a study in dramatics. Not hard to tell how she garnered votes after commanding the stage with the fervor of Patti LaBelle in all her floor rolling, holy ghost glory. Obviously a natural with a flair for gutbucket soul, her clipped phrasing weighed far more bark than bite as her set wore on. The predisposition for taking screeching over the edge was never more evident as she veered full speed ahead into lung-shredder territory again, puncturing first Prince's "Purple Rain", then Aerosmith's "Dream On" with the type of histrionics that would cause Steven Tyler to cower behind his scarf-tied mic stand. She'd do well to employ a vocal coach to drive home the mantra: less IS more, and move onto a new wardrobe consultant.
After the mere appetizers were out of the way, it was time for the main course. And the headliner didn't disappoint. 9 musicians (including a seven-piece string section), 2 background singers and 1 DJ silhouetted behind an eye-catching platform sectioned into boxes that doubled as a video screen: welcome to the Kanye West show. Curtis Mayfield's anthemic "Move On Up" was a fitting opener for the GQ cover boy who made good. Indeed it was just over a year ago when West was still learning the stage ropes as an opener on Usher's The Truth tour. Fast forward to now and he's the marquee above the bill. Flashing white lights introduced "Touch The Sky" spitting "I got to testify, come up in the spot lookin' extra fly" while dressed appropriately sharp.
Whether he was channelling a preacher man's testimony with on the spiritual ode "Jesus Walks," reminiscing about his days as a sweater folder at the Gap on the every man's frustration rant "Spaceship," framing a snippet of the Eurythmics classic, "Sweet Dreams" as a setup for the moody gem "Addiction" off current album Late Registration or continuing to thumb his nose at the President by quipping "Drug dealers buy Jordans/crackheads buy crack/And George Bush get paid off of all dat.." as a softer, but still present political jab, West's move away from the usual entourage in tow with mics yelling the obligatory "wave ya hands in the air, and wave 'em like ya just don't care..." was a refreshing sight to see.
The energy level remained high as he switched gears from the sentimental tribute to his grandmother, Roses (played out as a tug on the heartstrings sitting adjacent to a hospital bed) and We Don't Care - but the noise level really reached another level as the night was heading into the homestretch of I-know-all-the-words-by-heart smash hits. 9 weeks and running as the #1 song in the country (Kanye couldn't rein in his oversized ego by mistakenly claiming the top spot all over the world), Gold Digger had the audience yelling "We want pre-nup!" as if Kobe Bryant's face was freezeframed on the overhead projector. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better - it did. Out walked Jay-Z to an adoring hometown on the brink of pandemonium to perform Encore and PSA. The Roc was now officially in the building. With the crowd turned into a sea of pyramid hand signs, Kanye stood center stage proud as a peacock and crowed, "They can't do what we do baby!" After a triumphant performance, it was hard to disagree.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Seeing the usual suspects like the notorious J.E.W. Michael Ian Black, Rachael Harris, Mo Rocca and Hal Sparks act the plum fool gets my motor running just like all other nostalgia whores who can relate to the joys of this guilty pleasure, but even I'm reaching my fill of repetitive strolls down memory lane. First it was I Love The 80's, then I Love The 80's Strikes Back and now I Love The 80's in 3-D. What's next? In ColecoVision?
Just how long is it going to take Marc Cherry to rescue his brainchild from the abyss of sophomoric storyline hell? Desperate Housewives has gone from must-see TV to a barren wasteland in just one season. Teri Hatcher has devolved into an unwatchable caricature (another teary-eyed Susan/Mike breakup? Oh, that one's original...) and the George/Bree pairing is like Liza Minnelli and David Gest reincarnated. For the sake of sex with hired help, trim the fat and get back to what made it such a phenomenon right out the gate. Why the hell is Mary Alice still doing voiceover narration? Who cares about Alfre Woodard's character and shroud of mystery? (As much as it pains me to type that, the Betty Applewhite backstory is a write-off that serves no purpose.) Bring the lead actresses back together with the inclusion of Nicollette Sheridan for comic relief on a plot that includes everyone on Wisteria Lane. If none of the fab four seem to care what's going on next door, why as viewers should we?
Here's something else to pin on the ubiquitous mallrat of pop, Mariah Carey. Not only responsible for introducing a generation raised on American Idol how to perfect empty melisma, we can now peg the trend of packaged CD collections with the misleading title of #1's. Enter Destiny's Child. It's one thing to actually have a catalogue of tunes that have all hit the top spot like The Beatles, Elvis and so on, but only 4 chart toppers, a couple of blink-and-you-missed-it tracks and the rest chalked up as pointless filler does not a number one compilation make. I am so ready for the two props masquerading as group members to sit their asses down somewhere on a permanent vacation and for Seabiscuit to just get the wedding ring already from her camel in shining armor so the already prominent hips can make like Pillsbury dough mix and expand further. But if the godawful first single, Stand Up For Love (Diane Warren is as adept at penning shlock as Kate Lanier is as writing flop screenplays) wasn't painful enough, the gall to stamp a false seal of approval has me more baffled than Tina Knowles' costume choices.
Quote of the day: "It was very courageous of MTV to start the show with a genuine transvestite." - Sacha Baron Cohen on Madonna at the 2005 MTV European Music Awards
A bookslut's roll call
You know that ever-passionate music buff whose zest for the art form is so all encompassing, it makes you want to fire up the file sharing program of choice to download what the fuss is all about? Well, Peter Guralnick is just that kind of writer. After crafting bios for legends like Robert Johnson and Elvis Presley, he casts his eye to R&B crooner Sam Cooke. Best known for silky gems like You Send Me and the poignant A Change Is Gonna Come, Guralnick crafts a painstakingly detailed portrait of a preacher's son who wrestled with his gospel roots and secular crossover success amid a scenery of timeless classics, social uprisings, womanizing ways which spawned multiple offsprings and a predilection for prostitutes that would ultimately spur his untimely demise at the age of 33. Not since David Ritz's bio of Marvin Gaye has an autobio kept me enraptured from cover to cover. It's a story of talent, demons, ambition and drive delivered without sugar-coating for a voice deemed the greatest of a generation.
If the devil wore Prada, the bouncers wear... Dolce? Lauren Weisberger uncorked a water cooler touchstone with her first offering, an embellishment of being an assistant to PETA's favorite furry target, Anna Wintour - editor-in-chief at Vogue. However she can't avoid the sophomore slump the second time around in Everyone Worth Knowing. The parallels jump out at you more brightly drawn than a Roberto Cavalli spring collection. Here the heroine, Bette Robinson is another attractive gal able to skip over the velvet rope from investment banking to the hottest PR agency in Manhattan. The problem lies that the narrative of a supposedly naive woman whose more Dasani than San Pellegrino rings about as real as a telenovela.
Under the impression that the conversation in controversy over slavery reparations began with Randall Robinson's The Debt? Think again. In her latest novel, historian Mary Frances Berry chronicles the fascinating and groundbreaking story of Callie House - a Tennessee seamstress and former slave - demanded compensation for other ex-slaves shortly after gaining emancipation over a century ago from the U.S. government in her latter role as an activist, heading the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association. This isn't a piece of Black history finally given a spotlight decades later, this is American history that's vital to know.
Four novels in and the scenery still remains the same for the brain behind Carrie Bradshaw. But tales of the Big Apple's glitterati for the over-40, power climbing social set falls about as flat as week-old warm bubbly. The main characters (with preposterous names like Nico and Victory? Honey, please...) have reached a point in their lives where the years are simply check marked with new career goals to leap over in a single bound. Candace Bushnell is veering into dangerous, one-dimensional territory: Judith Krantz-ville.
Labels: book review
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
After much rumbling and speculation, the rumors have been proven true in the ouster of Aaron Brown from CNN. Formerly one of the most prominent faces of the network, Brown was shoved aside to make room for the post-Katrina visibility of that silver-haired fox Anderson Cooper. In the place of NewsNight, AC 360° now lands the plum primetime slot and is expanded another 60 minutes.
Sure, Aaron has the personality of exposed brick, but his was an earnest weirdness that at least lent some semblance of authority while reviewing the news of the day. His bemused expressions while mulling over headlines isn't the stuff of ratings sizzle, but dammit if Paula Zahn's still got a gig, you mean to tell me that beauty and brains couldn't co-exist on the same dial? And his outstanding work during 9/11 was one of the few bright spots CNN's experienced in the past few years.
While the left side of my brain bemoans the loss of yet another journalist with a liberal voice in an age of Playboy cloned correspondents and the emergence of Faux News as the press corps for the Bush crime family, the right, roundtable with Barbara Walters side is giddier than a gay man on Halloween. Even ogling a piece of "is his martini served straight up or with a twist?" eye candy for 2 hours will be a bittersweet symphony come Monday night without those bracing moments of awkwardness between those two. Ah well. A couple of high definition shots of those piercing baby blues will change that. Who ever said all newscasters have to be cut from the same old fart/bad hair cloth?
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The sweet smell of sinus congestion
It was about 3:20 this afternoon and I was deep into my midday haze of counting down how many hours were left and zoning out to Jules Massenet when the little blinking red button on my desk phone snapped me out of my "Calgon, take me away" daydream. Shit. It was the ice queen requesting my presence pronto. Fuck. me. hard. What did I do? What's gone wrong now?
I ran into the ladies room quickly to stall for time...my mind was a blur. Checked my teeth for any errant food particles left from the spinach salad at lunch, blotted my face and pulled back up the straps of the lace trimmed cami which was slipping down into a décolletage danger zone. Okay, relax. Inhale...exhale. I had to keep repeating the mantra of "you didn't screw up" in my head as I walked down the corridor.
When I approached the open door, my manager was already seated at her desk and she beckoned for me to join them. "Sit, sit!," she ordered in her authoritative tone. I had to concentrate on the traffic snaking up onto the FDR Drive behind her to bring my paranoia down a notch.
"Well, we called you in here because I just wanted to advise of something which is causing a bit of a problem."
"It's a bit trivial, but... your perfume is causing one of your colleagues' allergies to flare up. Would you mind terribly in nixing it?"What in the fuck? This is the shit you called me in here for with the urgency of a four-alarm fire?
As I smiled placidly and heard myself agreeing to one more compromising position on the corporate plantation, the request alone had notched a lofty place in the Ripley's file folder of nonsensical encounters to date.
I noticed the ever-annoying loudmouthed prick Tom who sits right behind me had angled his neck to see my reaction when I strolled back to my cubicle. A chorus of sneezes began soon after. A-ha. So, it was the balding goombah who sold me up the river. Instead of just approaching me directly, the dickless wonder had to drag our boss's superior into the mix to relay a bullshit message not even worth an interoffice memo.
There are supposed adults who don't know how to walk and chew gum at the same time, grown ass women who haven't figured out that it's a requirement to flush the toilet in the bathroom and troglodytes who leave month-old hummus dip in their cabinets in my midst who float on a happy plane of ignorance... yet my Coco Mademoiselle gets the ax? Oh hell no.
When you reach a level of maturity in life, you force yourself to negotiate with folks you'd normally like to see pinned underneath the wheel of a bus. So I took the measured approach to resolving this issue. A not-so-veiled threat delivered as he scurried past me on the way out to catch the 6:24 ferry. I don't know what was more satisfying to see. The transparency of the "I don't know what you're talking about" excuses or seeing his eyes glaze over as I leaned in closer on purpose to reacquaint him with the scent of an irritated woman. I think I'll douse his chair with my atomizer as a thank-you.