for when you don't know what else to say

Monday, January 30, 2006

Classics to Check Out - Girl Power Edition

I've been a little burned out on modern music, so I've been retreating from it at work and in the car as much as possible. Most of it has been jazz standards and torch songs, which I simply love singing along to all dramatically in the car. It's great music for reading or daydreaming too. But I've also gotten some sixties pop stuff in there, which is excellent to bop around to when you have to vacuum the living room or redesign the same goddamn collaterals for the 4,000th time. Here are some classics you should give a try:

Judy Garland: Judy Live At Carnegie
Judy gives a stellar performance on this double disk. It's only a few years before she tragically passed away at 47, and that certainly lends it an aura of supernatural elegance. She sings her most beloved movie songs and jazz standards in a blockbuster performance. I've always loved her, mostly due to her wonderful films, but nobody delivers a song of pain like Judy.

Ella Fitzgerald: Pure Ella: The Very Best of Ella Fitzgerald
I love this whole album, as well as other ones I have (or have access to). Her renditions of "My Funny Valentine," "Love is Here to Stay," and "They Can't Take That Away From Me" are the standards by which all others are judged in my opinion. Her take on "Over the Rainbow" is markedly different from Judy's, in a good way. Best romantic holiday song ever? "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" She's the classiest act of all.

One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found
It was a strange request I made on my wish list, but Spencer came through and got this for me. It's a box set of girl group recordings from the late 50s to the late 60s. The stories of the women involved in this lesser known pop movement are striking. These were average women who made exquisite pop confections featuring stellar arrangements that still hold up over time. I'm still working my way through all four disks, but it's been very fun so far. Melodramatic and melodic, alternately heartbreaking and joyful, this kind of pop music will never go out of style with me.

Hasselhoff! OOGA CHAAKA!

What a way to re-start my crappy Monday. I heart the Hoff! Only in Deutschland could they produce such an awesomely quesarrific gem. While I've seen it before, the wonderful Manolo had a link to it this morning, and it made my day, so I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Godspeed, Michigan J. Frog

I can't believe this day has come so soon. The WB is going to cease to exist. Granted, it will be reborn under a new moniker, The CW, but that's hardly as lyrical. This article quotes some 20 and 30-somethings who feels as if they grew up with The WB. I'm definitely in that camp. Our love affair began when it was one of the best stations that I could receive in my first apartment, a slightly fuzzy transmission coming through dog-eared antennas attached to a 13-inch screen.

The programs often ranged from the criminally stupid (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), to the infuriatingly self-righteous and poorly acted (7th Heaven). But The WB also managed to broadcast the Alpha and Omega of primetime television: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Along the way it also brought to life some of my other favorites: Angel, Felicity, Dawson's Creek, Gilmore Girls, Roswell, Popular, and Supernatural. The WB became shorthand for teen-centered shows, many of which weren't really embraced by the teens they were supposedly about. Me and my 20 and 30-year-old friends followed these shows. We would even get together to watch some of them. So The WB will always have a special place in my heart for creating a sort of "hearth" where we would come together and bitch about how unchristian the Camdens were, count Felicity's sweater changes in any given episode, or try to figure out what was going on with Dawson's forehead this week. Good times.

I see some pros and some cons when thinking about the combined network.
  • Pro #1: the shows I like on these networks at least won't be fighting each other in the same timeslots.
  • Pro #2: All of the shows I pay attention to on both networks (Veronica Mars included) were mentioned in the press release, which hopefully means they will still have slots next Fall.
  • Pro #3: Without a sixth network's schedule to fill up, horrible shows like Shasta McNasty will be mercifully killed BEFORE they make it to air.
  • Con #1: I fear that a lot of UPN's slate, the most diverse schedule on TV, will be junked.
  • Con #2: With CBS in control, The CW could become a CSI spinoff dumping ground.
  • Con #3: Without a sixth network's schedule to fill up, awesomely wrong shows like Shasta McNasty will be mercifully killed BEFORE they make it to air.

Goodnight, my dear sweet WB. You will always have a fond place in my heart. Farewell UPN. You've repaid your debt to society (Rock Me Baby? Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer? The Mullets?) many times over by giving Buffy, Roswell, and Veronica Mars a home. Good luck, CW. I don't know if you'll earned that article yet. If you come through for us though, you'll get your "The" back.

UPDATE: Buffy may have sealed the deal after all: an interesting theory from the LA Times.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Will Helicopter Guy, Lounge Lizard, and the Tai Chi Hitleresque Butler be in it?

Dust off the furry mustache and break out the Hawaiian shirt collection: Magnum P.I. is coming to the big screen. With the director of Dodgeball at the helm, I'm sure it will be a classy affair. My suggestion for Magnum? Tom Selleck. No one else could possibly fill those deck shoes. But they'll probably make it Ben Stiller or Colin Farrell or Johnny Knoxville. In unrelated breaking news, Hollywood is still all out of original ideas.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Rant of the Day: The O.C.

My DVR ate last night's OC, but I did get to watch last week's "Free Marissa" episode, and it's lit the fires of rage within me. The show has never been the same since the first season, but The OC has become such a crapfest each week, that I don't know how much longer I can take it. Maybe I shouldn't say The OC is a crapfest. I should instead say "The Marissa & Johnny Show," this strange program that now airs in The OC's timeslot, is a crapfest.

The strength of the show has always been in the Seth/Ryan/Cohen Family story, and they have completely obliterated that this season. Once Kirsten Cohen's "boozer recovery and subsequent almost fleecing by that chick from one of the Star Trek spinoffs" storyline was finished, she pretty much dropped off the show. Sandy Cohen has been relegated to fatherly advice subplots involving that twenty-something go-getter he hired who likes a good lapdance every night. Seth is only in scenes with Summer, which is okay because I like Summer, but he never hangs out with Ryan alone anymore, so the brother thing has been lost.

Even more peripheral characters have been getting the shortshrift. The glorious Julie Cooper has been reduced to subpar "My Name is Earl" trailer park shenanigans. Summer is only brought in with Seth for comic relief. Her war with Taylor Townshend has been amusing, but that's mainly because it has introduced a funny, complex character in Taylor. Summer used to have her own thing going on, and she wasn't reduced to mere commentary. Even Jimmy Cooper has been shipped off (again) to Hawaii.

Why have these characters been wasted and abused and pushed to the margins of the screen? Marissa and effin' Johnny. First I will take on Marissa. I have never liked Marissa. First off, Mischa Barton is probably the worst actress in television. Worse than the entire cast of 7th Heaven and their "plucked from the supermarket checkout by a producer buying Cheetos" guest stars. More horrible than the worst model turned actress you can name off the top of your head. Less expressive than a 2x4, and just as narrow. It says a lot when your best work was in The Sixth Sense, a film where your only job was to vomit all over Haley Joel Osment. She is atrocious.

Second, the character of Marissa is probably one of the best examples of adoration without reason on the air. The way everyone supposedly "loves" her was at its most apparent in last night's poor attempt to honor 90210's "Donna Martin Graduates West Beverly" episode. No one seems to really like her, they just talk about how much they do. It's like the writers are trying to hammer it into our heads that she's the smartest, most popular, awesome, hilarious yet sexy, sensitive, IT girl on the face of the earth and we should all bow down to show respect. You have three or four instances in this episode where people actually said "everyone loves Marissa." Meanwhile, she's a spoiled, tempestuous girl who routinely craps on the efforts of all those people who "love" her, acts like a moron, and does not seem to care how her actions make people feel. Particularly when fawning over whoever her charity case of the moment is, to the detriment of her loved ones. She has done nothing to deserve ANYONE'S love, let alone the people who watch this show hoping for any of the other characters to have a storyline that does not center on her boneheaded adventures.

The Marissa treatment reminds me of two of the most annoying "beloved" characters on TV. Carrie on Sex and the City was routinely held up as the coolest and smartest and sweetest and on and on till the cows came home. When you really look at her though, she's remarkably selfish, judgemental, and often uncaring towards her friends. And let's not even talk about the pun-happy voiceovers. Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek also got this saintly treatment in the latter seasons of that show. I guess her only redeeming quality was that writers bothered to show us likable qualities in the first few seasons, so it was easier to look past the Joey glamorization later on.

There's more than one person to blame for this mess. I now have to pick on Marissa's co-conspirator, the washed-up dirty girly-looking surfer named Johnny. When he was first introduced as part of the Bizarro Fab Four of whatever the name of their bogus public school is, I saw trouble coming down the pike. He has singlehandedly ruined the past five episodes. The Chrismukkah episode shouldn't be about raising money for this moron and his subsequent great idea to knock over a minimart instead of taking charity from rich folk to pay for a knee surgery. It should be about the Cohens and their traditions.

I don't care about him or his goddamned knee or his failed surfing career. You're 17, idiot, your life isn't over yet. Graduate from high school or something. You're not a racehorse, so they won't put you down if you can't fake surf anymore (if only). I don't care about his "unrequited" love for Marissa, who really only cares for you if you're a wounded puppy (gender is irrelevant too) but doesn't mean it sexually. I don't care about his friend named after an ice cream treat/Wendy's fry substitution option. I don't care how he feels about anything. I don't care that his girlfriend cheated on him pre-emptively because he was paying too much attention to Marissa. I don't want to have to watch my favorite characters reduced to commenting about his goddamned knee injury and Marissa being all over him. In summation: I think his girlfriend should have been driving that car and just should have properly mowed him down over five episodes ago so we would be free of this drain on the show.

I understand that his existence is directly attributable to the need to push everyone's favorite bony coke-head to the center of the show, but never before has one of her lost puppy boys been so horrifying. Not Trey. And not even Oliver, though it makes me a little queasy to be typing that and meaning that.

These two have hijacked the show. I watch for the actual full-time cast, not this terrible re-imagining. Ryan, not Johnny. Seth and Ryan, not Johnny and "Chili." Anyone else in the show's universe, not Marissa. Hopefully Ryan will soon get his Chino back on, beat the crap out of Johnny, dump Marissa for caring so little about him and his feelings, and get to have more than a passing conversation with Seth and Summer that has to do with something other than Marissa. Is that too much too ask? If so, it won't be my concern anymore, and this show will lose another loyal viewer who spread the word far and wide about how great it was when it premiered.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Skating With Celebrities: The Most Highly Anticipated Fox Reality Series Since Temptation Island (by me anyway)

Dust off the cobwebs for March Madness and practice your tournament pool skills today. Click here to download the Skating With Celebrities Tournament Bracket. You can even record the couples' Artistic Merit and Technical Merit scores, something I'm sure I'll be doing whenever I can catch this sure to be awesome train wreck of a TV show. The insanity begins tonight, and I can't wait to see that one real skating dude drop Kristy Swanson on her "40-something still trying to pass as early college age on CSI spin-offs" fool head.

Ray Nagin: Chocolate Milk Fanatic

This has got to be the funniest, most furious backpedaling I've ever seen after a controversial comment. From

Mayor Ray Nagin on Tuesday apologized for urging residents to rebuild a "chocolate New Orleans" and saying, "You can't have New Orleans no other way." On Monday, Nagin said God wanted New Orleans to be predominantly black and said he didn't care what the predominantly white Uptown section of the city had to say about it.

"I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day," he said. "This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be."

After the statement, he insisted he wasn't being divisive.

"How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about," he said. "New Orleans was a chocolate city before Katrina. It is going to be a chocolate city after. How is that divisive? It is white and black working together, coming together and making something special."

Yum. Racial harmony never sounded so delicious!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This Just In: Americans On Juries Can Be Very Very Dumb

I'm not even going to make the obvious joke about the people on juries being dumb to start with because they couldn't figure out how to avoid jury duty. I think jury duty is something we should take seriously, as annoying as it can be to get the summons and have to miss work. Now TV has found a new way to get bad PR:contaminating juries. While watching these shows does set up some high expectations for forensic evidence (CSI more than any other), both are so ridiculous that I would hope the average human being could see that they are as close to reality as that show about the space cowboys.

For those who aren't sure what to believe, I offer some pointers. First of all, crime scene investigators do not actually get to interrogate the suspects. Real lab work is not done over a two-minute trance/techno video montage. Crime labs aren't funded by Bill Gates, they are funded by tax payers, and therefore do not have every gadget under the sun at their disposal. Nor do their offices look like high-end boutique law firm offices with special ergonomic yet stylish chairs. Also, most cases don't have four thousand bits of forensic evidence to pour through. Therefore, you've got to consider other things, like testimony from eyewitnesses and non-splattery expert witnesses alongside whatever forensics they throw your way.

Both shows are also wrong to always have "real" criminals give up the ghost and confess all in the end. While the CSI and Law & Order franchises are very entertaining, they always end each show like an episode of Scooby Doo. "I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't have been that darn Horatio Caine and his Psychic, Soul-Baring Sunglasses of Criminal Justice."

TV shows and their pulled-from-the-headlines "twist" plotlines should not enter your mind when determining a very real person's very real fate. That's just asinine. In summation, TV isn't real. Except for pro wrestling. That's totally real.

I Heart Ben Franklin

I heart Ben Franklin. I went to the university he founded. I live in the city where he did most of his righteous work (click here for rockin' pics). I love that he was a tubby ladies man with a bitchy wit to match. I like that he enjoyed publishing gossip in his papers.

That Armonica thing rules. And I have often addressed his statues on Penn's campus in times of reflection (and revelry). I have been to his museum in Philly, addressed a letter in his post office, visited his "gout" chair, joked around with his impersonator, and even picked up the fake phones at his underground lair to chat with Marie Antoinette and Lafayette.

You can bet your sweet ass I'll check out his new museum in London.

Why couldn't he speak like this during the election?

People might have actually voted for Gore if he was as articulate in 2000 as he is in this speech addressing the NSA domestic surveillance scandal (click and watch the ad to read this; it's painless and well worth it). Can someone with half a brain please get their stuff together _before_ blowing a big presidential election? Just a little request.

Friday, January 13, 2006

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

I was singing along to my iPod today on the way to work and had one of those out of body experiences. I was able to hear myself singing along to Kenny Loggin's masterwork "I'm Free (Heaven Helps The Man)" [AKA the song that plays while the camera spins around during the credit sequence to Footloose]. Don't judge me. That's a good effin' record.

Anyhoo, after a few verses I realized that I was singing garbage lyrics that make no sense whatsoever. To wit, here are what I THOUGHT the lyrics were and what I just found online. How shameful. Please excuse the gap below. I managed a table, but I can't figure out how to bring it back up here.

Kenny’s Original

Kristen’s Rendition

Looking into your eyes I know I'm right
If there's anything worth my love it's worth a fight
We only get one chance
But nothing ties our hands
You're what I want
Listen to me
Nothing I want
Is out of my reach

HEAVEN HELPS THE MAN who fights his fear
Love's the only thing that keeps me here
You're the reason that I'm hanging on
My heart's staying where my heart belongs

Running away will never make me free
And nothing we sign is any kind of guarantee
But I wanna hold you now
And I won't hold you down

I'm shaking the past
Making my breaks
Taking control
If that's what it takes
Looking into your eyes I know I'm right
Said it wasn’t worth my love, it’s worth a fight
You only get one chance
Love can tie your hands
Know what I want
Listen to me
Not want I want
Get out of my teeth

HEAVEN HELPS THE MAN who finds his film
Love's the only thing that beats the streets
No good reason have I held it on
My hot ceiling’s where my heart belongs

Running away will never may your key
Living in silence has no
But I wanna hold you now
I won't hold him down

Shaking a pass
Taking a break
Taking control
That's what he takes

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Take That, Crazy, Hateful Old Man

Israel, not content to just sit back and think badly of Pat Robertson's latest hateful remarks, has hit him where it hurts the most: the pocketbook. By cutting him out of a very lucrative real estate deal for an Evangelical tourist paradise where 700 Club viewers could have waited for the Rapture (and other events foretold by "gripping" Kirk Cameron movies), they have made my heart smile on an otherwise mediocre Thursday. Well played!

Friday, January 06, 2006

One For The Road

I'm almost out of work on Friday, and was getting ready for the weekend when something too awesome not to blog about crossed my inbox. If you have not yet done so, try out the Random Chuck Norris Fact Generator. Visit often, and enjoy a few extra minutes of Chuck time today.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bush's Wire Tap Exit Strategy?

Bush can wiggle out of his latest controversy by...wait for it...prosecuting the whistleblowers and the press. Unbelievable. Harvey Silverglate of The Boston Phoenix wrote this article about Bush's potential strategy to out-Nixon Nixon himself. These paragraphs caught my eye.

"The DOJ announced on December 30 that it has opened a criminal-leak investigation. The announcement was greeted with only muted criticism from media and civil-liberties circles, perhaps because it looked like nothing more than a replay of the still-ongoing Valerie Plame–outing fiasco. Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, and Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, welcomed an investigation but suggested that the object should be the warrantless surveillance program, not those within the government who leaked it. Neither seemed to sense the threat to yet another target: the newspaper that published the story.

Those who don’t see the danger in the DOJ probe of the leaks underestimate how far zealous federal prosecutors can carry such an investigation. Prosecutors’ enormous discretionary latitude, derived from the extraordinary range of narrow, broad, and in some instances dangerously vague criminal statutes that control the disclosure of supposed national-security secrets, renders any such investigation dangerous to a free press.

Forget for a moment the fate of leakers who could be subject to prosecution for anything from disseminating stolen government property to mail and wire fraud, espionage, or even to the capital crime of treason. Instead, consider the lot of the paper that had the courage to spotlight the administration’s potentially criminal conduct: it now faces the prospect of criminal indictment. (When asked directly if the investigation extended to the publication of the information, a DOJ official remarked broadly to reporters that he could not comment on any aspect of the investigation.)

There is little reason to suppose that the administration would refrain from indicting the newspaper, its reporters, and its higher-ups unless the political downside was too substantial. Indeed, with undoubted additional deep and dark secrets not yet exposed, one assumes that the administration would like to go beyond terrorizing leakers and reach those who report leaks to the public. Historical and legal precedent that suggests the legal viability of such a prosecution has gone largely unnoticed in the public arena — though not likely at the DOJ."

Our Fourth Estate is pretty lame, but they have to be able to do their job. If Bush takes this route, maybe the people will finally rise up and say something about it. Don't wait for that to happen. We have to start making noise now. This is NOT OKAY and it IS NOT NECESSARY IN THE WAR ON TERRORISM. Don't listen to the Ann Coulters and Tucker Carlsons and Bill BLOWREILLYs of this world. They're all wrong about this.

Contact your Congressmen and Senators, regardless of their affiliation, and call for the impeachment of this absolute power-lovin' fiend before he does more damage to our constitution. Let them know that you take your rights very seriously, and that this administration is trampling on them. I know writing to people like Rick Santorum is like banging your head against a brick wall, but we've got to do it. As I pointed out to Messieurs Specter and Santorum in my latest missive, he's trying to cut them out of the process too. THEY SHOULD CARE ABOUT THIS. WE ALL SHOULD.

Wait a minute...

My wonderful Spencer provided my poor, dead coat with a new lease on life! Last night, whilst saying goodbye one last time, he told me that I could use actually still use it for cold weather yard work. That way my new awesome coats can stay cleaner longer. I had never thought of that option. I guess it's the drama queen in me. Anyway, with a new lease on life (albeit a much dingier life with digs in the basement next to my yard gloves), the blue shine will live on indefinitely. Hurray!

Someone Always Does It Bigger

These "kids" have dedicated themselves to the concept of the spontaneous Big Box retail dance party, and I think it's something we should all emulate. Where were they on my dreary post-Thanksgiving shopping trip? This would have lightened my mood considerably.

I hesitate to call them bold innovators, as I've been known to occasionally pop and lock on my own in public. I also have busted out my solo robot-dancing routine at the CVS. But this is much bolder, and less likely to be ignored as the workings of one troubled, disillusioned girl. Dance on!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Fond Farewell

I am sad to report that my ghetto fabulous blue shiny coat has passed on from this plane of consciousness. Purchased five years ago at the Gallery, this coat has seen me through major life changes, copious amounts of alcohol, and two atrocious presidential elections. I have tried to fill the hole in my heart with two new puffy coats that I got awesome deals on. But alas, no coat will ever be as shiny or as water-resistant. Here she is in all her final glory:

I bought that coat while I was living at the tenement slum apartment on Spruce Street, during the Eccentric Tiny British Roommate Administration (not to be confused with the Skeevy Computer Creep Boy With Bathroom Peeping Fetish Roommate or the Crazy Polish Volleyballer Princess Checkout Girl Who Sleeps On The Floor Roommate Administrations). I remember the day quite clearly: October 9, 2000. Events that happened that day or so:
  • New stove delivered to tenement slum apartment
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon released
  • First shopping trip with Tiny British Roommate
  • New Backstreet Boys video "Shape of My Heart" premieres on TRL to great fanfare
  • PJ Harvey, new Superman Brandon Routh, and "Double Trouble" twins Liz and Jean Sagal all celebrated birthdays
  • I took a rare day off from my last hateful job
Cue the Boyz II Men single, because they said it best: "It's So Hard, to Say Goodbye-hi-hiiiiiiii, To Ye-hes-sterda-haaaayy." The coat will lie in state at my house's not-so-grand rotunda this evening, until it is taken away tomorrow by the municipal "undertaker" to whatever Arlington Cemetery equivalent exists for used-up plastic coats in my borough.

Thank you, shiny coat, for all the compliments you have garnered for me. All the chilly weather you've helped me stave off. Each time it rained and I put you over my head as a shield because you were basically a sheet of blue plastic. More importantly, for being my constant companion and stain-repeller all those years I rode SEPTA twice a day. I will never forget you.

The Other Acid Test For Justices

It's now officially "disgusting but legal" to moon others in Maryland. I hope the Senate checks that Alito is on board with this before rubberstamping his nomination.