Saturday, December 27, 2008

R.I.P. Eartha Kitt

Goodness. First Bettie Page and now Eartha Kitt. The past few weeks have been really bad for Old Hollywood. Eartha Kitt passed away yesterday, December 26 in Connecticut from colon cancer. She was 81.

She won two Grammys and two Tonys. She danced with Katherine Dunham [!!], starred in "St. Louis Blues" with Nat King Cole and played Catwoman on the Batman television show.

She was the child of a black and Cherokee mother and a white father. She lived with an aunt after her father decided he couldn't have a mixed race daughter. After moving to New York and going to the High School of the Performing Arts for a while, Kitt dropped out and had lucky breaks that had Orson Welles calling her "the most exciting woman in the world".

It's so weird, because just the other day I downloaded "Santa Baby" and I thought about how a few years ago she performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, even when she was in her late 70s. I didn't get to see her because I had tickets for a different day of the festival, but I really wish I'd gotten the chance. Miss Kitt was unstoppable as a singer, dancer, and actress. She was the original sex kitten, coining the term herself with her purr. I was first introduced to her as the batty old lady in "Harriet the Spy". She was a parody of herself in that role but there was still the hint of Old Hollywood glamour and opulence that we still love classic movies for. I watched that movie all the time when I was in 3rd grade.

Photos from the LIFE magazine archive:

Eartha Kitt photographed by famous photographer [and director of Shaft] Gordon Parks in 1952.

More Gordon Parks, 1952

More Gordon Parks, 1952

On the piano. Purrrrr.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Imitation of LIFE: The Christmas Edition

After a brief exam-time hiatus I'm back with full-fledged Christmas spirit! Here are some Yuletide offerings from the LIFE magazine photo archive. Nothing says Christmas like nostalgia.

Christmas decorations in Rockefeller Plaza, 1949

Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, 1972.

Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye performing in 'White Christmas', 1954

More holiday happiness on the way! And if you're anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon, good luck digging yourself out of your driveway.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Twitter. So Hot Right Now.

There's been a spike in visits this week, which I'm really happy about. Keep up the good work, guys. Tell you friends to tell their friends! And love the comments.

I won't be posting too too much over the next week or so because I'm sick and swamped with school. But I will be blogging the lazy man's way on Twitter: see my tweets HERE.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Grace Jones: Good Enough to Eat

This just in: Grace Jones is out of her mind. Surprised? Didn't think so. Either way, it's a little weird to think of Grace Jones making chocolate busts of herself to promote her new album, "Hurricane". Have to give her credit, though. It's a lot more creative than a hackneyed tell-all, set-the-record-straight reality show/documentary *cough cough Britney*. From Refinery 29:
With a persona that's been adored and replicated many times over, the idea was to show Grace in control of the mass-production process, feeding the idea that she has ultimate ownership of her identity.
Love the idea, but goddamn, that's a lot of chocolate, and they're not even for sale. That being said, I wonder what's going to happen with that new album? I hope they play it in Esco's, but only if the queens vogue. If all else fails, Ms. Jones can drown her sorrows in chocolatey fierceness.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

In the event you've been living under a rock like I have, here's Prop 8: The Musical, starring lots of people who are varying degrees of famous. Enjoy!
See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Friday, December 5, 2008

Imitation of LIFE, pt. 2

I was poking around in the LIFE photo archives, hoping to find a hot, hot picture of Rock Hudson but instead stumbled upon this:
This is Sammy Davis, Jr. singing with Matt Dennis on the TV Show "The Big Party" in 1959. Rock Hudson is the tall, dark-haired fellow you see over Davis' right shoulder. What a lovely party we missed!

And here, the gorgeous Rock Hudson in all his hunky glory:

This is what I would've wanted for Christmas. If he weren't dead. And gay. But oh, isn't he scrumptious.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Imitation of LIFE

Hope everyone had a happy, safe, stuffed Thanksgiving [hand turkey pictures coming soon]. Just in case you haven't heard, LIFE has recently released their photo archives online. A lot of this stuff had only been negatives, but now they're online! Some of my favorites:

Ruby Kitsu playing piano for some lovely men in uniform, 1940s.

"The Great Drapo": Alphonse Berge draped single pieces of fabric to create evening dresses in 20 seconds at the World's Fair (New York, 1940)

Enjoy the photos. More to come.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WTF? | Prince Doesn't Believe in Homosexuality?

I worship at the altar of the Purple One: I lovelovelove Prince. A while back, I wrote about his gender-bending tendencies and the creation of Camille, his "feminine side". Imagine my surprise, then, when I read on Jezebel that Prince is against homosexuality! This from the guy that's presented himself queer ten ways to Sunday? It was clear that when he became a Jehovah's Witness 7 years ago, the creator of "Dirty Mind" probably wouldn't be as dirty as before, but this is downright shocking when we look at his work from the 80s. In his interview in this week's The New Yorker, he said:

"God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’"
The orgasmic moaning and writhing, the eyeliner, the panties? The heels, the chaps, the Symbol that neither male nor female? The Edwardian ruffles, the purple...everything? And when he wasn't engaged in something a little bit queer, you had New Power Generation band members Lisa and Wendy in their implied lesbian sub/dom relationship, especially in the song 'Computer Blue' from Purple Rain. What here is heteronormative? It's also weird to hear the guy with the foresight enough to make 1999 in '84 reference the original Sin Cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible's cool and all but Sodom and Gomorrah feels so...arcane. That being said, this week's 99 cents is Head from the Dirty Mind album. And here's a "mixtape" with some of the raunchiest offerings from His Royal Badness. It's hard to find some of the more popular songs because we know Prince is notorious for removing anything having to do with him from the Internet, but here you go:

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Oh, Prince. We miss the how you used to make us Gett Off. What's your favorite nasty Prince song?

Prince with The New Yorker
Vanity 6 @ Now and Later

Prince, if you come across this post, please don't sue me. Just know that it's all love.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bond Goes Big | Review

I'm kind of glad I went out for the midnight showing of this one. But, if you're headed out to see Quantum of Solace this weekend, keep two things in mind: 1) get to the theatre early and 2) pay close attention. The plot is convoluted, especially towards the end. Continuity problems aside, this Bond is definitely entertaining, down to the super trippy opening featuring the song "Another Way to Die" by Alicia Keys and Jack White. Watch the video below:

Love Alicia's falsies, by the way. And here are the actual credits from the movie. Sorry about the quality:

It more or less sets the tone for the movie: the cinematography is jarring in a good way and there are lots and lots of explosions and car chases. So even with the plot twists, you're at the edge of your seat because everything's blowing up. All the time. All at once.

Hats off to Daniel Craig. We can see his Bond is really hurting though critics are saying he was a little too angry and dark. I still don't think he wears a tux nearly as Pierce Brosnan but his performance was good.

It goes without saying that Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is drop-dead gorgeous playing the Bolivian secret service agent out for a little revenge of her own. Ukrainian model by trade, she can actually act! It's refreshing.

So. Go see Bond, enjoy, but you probably won't need to see it more than twice, tops.

Lastly, a review video from Rotten Tomatoes:

I'm going to check out the reviews on each of the Bond films. Happy watching and take the Best Bond of All quiz on the sidebar.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Best Bond of All?

The new Bond film comes out tomorrow and people are excited. I have to say, I was not a fan of "Casino Royale", nor am I terribly excited about Daniel Craig as Bond. Frankly, I miss gorgey Pierce Brosnan, and Sean Connery was good, too. Craig is too blond, too muscular, and much too violent. My friend's theory is that there are two main camps of Bond fans: those that like Connery and those that like Roger Moore [I haven't seen any of his movies] and that those in the Roger Moore camp like Daniel Craig. I imagine, though, kudos are in order to the writers for trying to create a coherent storyline: "Quantum of Solace" finds Bond mad as hell over the betrayal--and death--of his beloved Vesper from "Royale", uncovering all sorts of nasty secrets and double-crossing, and tracking down the leaders of top secret organization QUANTUM. Explosions ensue.

The Boy
is dragging me to see the midnight showing tonight even though I have work tomorrow. I'm a glutton for abuse, I guess. Watch for a review, and in the meantime, take my poll: who's your favorite Bond?


Best Bond Girls
Worst Bond Girls
Daniel Craig's Bond in Entertainment Weekly

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mommy Michelle

I told myself that once the election was over, I could take a deep breath and go back to indulging my love of vintage/retro/kitschy/old school things. I will, I promise [Bond post coming soon], but I wanted to share this really interesting article from Salon. There's no question that this election was nuts because there were two women running who actually stood a chance and we ended up with a non-white--people are squawking that since Obama had a white mother you can't really call him black--candidate on his way to the White House. The article talks about how Michelle Obama has been turned into a Donna Reed throwback by the media and her husband's career.

I love that she's going to be in the White House because she's incredibly smart, she's beautiful, and she'll be much more of a presence than the woman that's in there now. But I do hope that she gets a chance to do something fulfilling for herself while her husband's saving the world. Tell me what you think of the article.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beyonce Wants to Be Wonder Woman

In a Los Angeles Time interview, Beyonce told reporters that she'd love to play Wonder Woman. Dear God. As if we haven't been subjected to enough of Beyonce's "acting". She claims she wants to take a break from all the heavy roles she's been taking on and have fun with as superhero. In keeping with her specially manufactured brand of southern I'm-cute-but-not-that-bright charm, she said, "I would definitely have to keep it right for that costume. But I love Wonder Woman and it'd be a dream come true to be that character. It sure would be handy to have that lasso." It'd be great to have a black Wonder Woman, but please, not Beyonce. All we can do is hope that the next Iron Man movies will be good...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My 99 cents: Hendrix's Star-Spangled Banner

In honor of Election Day, I thought it'd be appropriate to recommend Jimi Hendrix's rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. Amazing. What's more American than Woodstock?

Let's send Obama and Biden to the White House!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What If It Came Down to One Vote?

I don't have to tell you that tomorrow we pick the next president, that this picking of the president will be huge, historical and, depending on who you are, inspiring or terrifying. Heavy stuff, this election. To lighten things up a bit [sometimes if you don't laugh, you'll cry] I hooked up this little video:

Thanks to CNNBC Video you can get the message across AND have a chuckle at the same time. Send it to your friends. I'm so excited that the first presidential election where I'm old enough to vote, I have someone like Barack Obama to choose. We will all be telling our children and our children's children about this. It felt so, so good to drop my absentee ballot in the mail.

If this isn't incentive enough to make your voice heard tomorrow, Starbucks is giving away free coffee to voters. I am so there.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My 99 cents:Danse Macabre

I thought something a bit different was in order for this week's 99 cents. Obviously, Halloween will be here before we know it, and music gets you in the spirit like nothing else. While 19th century classical music doesn't scream Halloween, Camille Saint-Saens' 'Danse Macabre' is an orchestral piece about Death standing in a graveyard tuning his violin and playing a song that raises the skeletons and ghosts from their resting places. I know a lot of people feel classical music is stodgy or something for old white people or super nerdy Asian kids, but I've played classical music for 11 of my 20 years and I love it. I just downloaded the version of Charles Dutoit conducting the Philhamornia Orchestra. For people into classical music, Charles Dutoit is a big deal.

The idea of the Danse Macabre came about when the Black Plague was wreaking havoc on Europe in the 14th century. Paintings, drawings, and engravings started popping up all over the place showing Death, usually a skeleton or a partially decomposed body, leading popes, paupers, and everyone in between in a wild dance on the way to the grave. Famine and war added to the problem as well. The Danse came to symbolize the fact that no one could really escape the Plague once it came to your town; the Black Plague wiped out one third of Europe's population. Death was the great equalizer.

Danse Macabre is a tone poem, an orchestral piece that uses transparent devices to get a pretty clear story across. Those xylophone thingies you hear in the piece? Yup, those are the skeleton's bones. French composer Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) based this piece, which was originally conceived as a work for voice and piano, on a verse by poet Henri Cazalis:
Zig, zig, zig, Death in a cadence,
Striking with his heel a tomb,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zig, on his violin.
The winter wind blows and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden trees.
Through the gloom, white skeletons pass,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
The bones of the dancers are heard to crack—
But hist! of a sudden they quit the round,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.

There's a French superstition Cazalis tapped into that says Death plays a song at midnight every Halloween for the dead to dance to until dawn. Many composers have made Death a fiddler, but not always. I once saw a cartoon set to the piece, but I can't find it now. It's a bit morbid, I know, but Danse Macabre is really cool. For listening notes, go to the Wikipedia article, but I think listening to it with the poem in front of you makes it easier and more fun. Enjoy. Here's a recording by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, but the Charles Dutoit version is better.

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

More about Danse Macabre
Dance of Death origins on JSTOR [long article]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vintage, Kitchen Edition

I pass Krup's Kitchen & Bath on my way to work and every time I see their vintage refrigerators, my heart melts. I never liked dolls when I was little and I barely played with my Easy Bake Oven, but these appliances make me want to put a frilly apron over a perfectly ironed A-line skirt and make kitchen magic. When I grow up, I'm going to have one of these goodies in my kitchen. Nevermind the fact that it will most likely be stocked with frozen dinners.

Krup's Kitchen & Bath is located at 11 W 18th Street in Manhattan.

I sweep naked all the time...don't you?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gangster Lean

This semester, I was lucky enough to get into a course about gender and film. It focuses on fairly mainstream movies from the 1910s to the 1960s. My favorite movie so far [and the one I write a 5 page paper one due next week] is The Public Enemy (1931), starring James Cagney and Jean Harlow. It's a great movie. You can see how this was the beginning of gangster movies after it is similar, though not many actors have the swagger and violent energy of Cagney [that means you, 50 cent]. People pinpoint Little Caesar as the start of the genre, but I'm stickin' with Cagney. Cagney got so into his role that I thought, wow, he couldn't ever be anything other than an Irish gangster.

"He's a small-time hood who gets involved with a Prohibition racket in a big way!" That's what it says on the back of the DVD, and that more or less gives you the whole story. Tom Powers [Cagney] and his best friend from childhood, Matt Doyle [Edward Woods] live in a rough Chicago neighborhood, stealing here and there to get by. Just as Prohibition, they get pulled into big business with local bar owner Paddy Ryan and big time gangster Nails Nathan. They become the biggest bootleggers in all of Chicago, buy fancy clothes, cars and women, and are challenged only by the Schemer Burns mob. I hate to give away the ending, but you can sort of guess at it anyway.

The Public Enemy came out at a time when people, especially Protestants and Catholics, were all in a dither about degenerate pictures ruining the moral fiber of American society and moving towards censorship. I suspect that's why the movie's bookended with two screens claiming the film isn't glorifying criminal behavior, but simply pointing out this problem so the public could then solve it. Even in the reviews I found from 1931 [I'll start writing that paper any minute now], people knew that was a joke. They loved Cagney's vulgarity and violence, though the New York Times wrote it off as just another gangster movie but with good acting. Who were the producers fooling? Everyone loves a good gangster movie.

The fanciest woman in the movie is played by Jean Harlow and she sucks. She seems bored as hell with her role and doesn't sound anything like the Texan she's supposed to be. Her character is neither a badass gun moll or a loose flapper, though some of the dialogue implies she's a tease. Oh, well. Cagney and the plot more than pick up the slack for her lackluster performance.

I'll leave you with the famous grapefruit scene:

and a trailer:

Also, random fact: did you know 'gat' was used in the 20s as a word for gun? I had no idea. I thought that was really intersting.
All that being said, what's your favorite gangster movie?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Paddington Bear Turns 50

You probably saw this on Google, but yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the first Paddington Bear book , "A Bear Called Paddington". What an adorable little bear. As much fun as Corduroy? I don't know. Corduroy was my favorite adventurous bear when I was little and my mom likes to tell me that she nearly went crazy reading that to me almost every night before bedtime.

I know this is getting dangerously close to mommy blogging territory but Paddington is such a fun story for little kids. Do little kids even read Paddington any more? My 4 year-old cousin is heavy into High School Musical and all the other non-animated crap on Disney. I'll forego the rant about lost innocence in kids due to the advent of technology. For now, happy birthday, Paddington Bear! Buy your favorite toddler a book today.

Anniversary celebrations for Paddington

Friday, September 26, 2008

Yogurt + Yummy Flavors=Richard Simmons?

Last night, I allowed myself to indulge in a TV marathon, as the season premieres of both Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy were tonight. Three uninterrupted hours of television. It was great until Grey's got ridiculous, but the commercials were almost as good as the shows [you know, except for that time when Christina and Meredith and Izzy did that ridiculous thing at Seattle Grace]. My favorite:

Richard Simmons: fitness guru, 80s icon/relic, butt of countless jokes. The man just doesn't stop. I was really surprised to see him in this commercial because Yoplait doesn't usually resort to insane devices and because, well, come on. It's Richard Simmons. Where has he been? What has he been doing? Whatever it was, he's been doing it with all the free yogurt his abs, buns, and thighs can handle.

The Caffeine-free Chronicles, pt. 2

Day 4 of my mission to kick the caffeine habit, at least until the 15th. No terrible headaches today but yesterday was brutal. I was worried that today would be really tough, though, because I had to go to work [I'm interning at a publishing house] and sit in a room reading all day. Nothing is better for an impromptu nap than having to sit still. Luckily, I got to read a manuscript that was actually good and the other interns are a hoot. I'm hoping to get enough sleep tonight to make it through another full day of interning and a club party starting at 11ish.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Caffeine-free Chronicles, pt. 1

NB: This has nothing to do with the subject of this blog, though as the series continues, I may throw in some historical background and interesting facts.

Sunday, I drank a Red Bull and felt only slightly less tired than I had before [again, paying for that night of revelry]. Apparently, my dreadful summer internship has left me with something other than a nice nest egg: I now have an insanely high tolerance to caffeine. Day after day, I had to fight the urge to snooze as I waited for my wheedling, inept supervisor to find things for me to do. I started sucking down iced coffee and then Red Bull to cope. Now, I'm screwed. I don't want to get to midterms and have to chug enormous amount of caffeine to stay awake because I'm scared of what will happen. Besides, at $2.99 per Red Bull, caffeine's an expensive habit much like gambling or porn. I decided on Sunday after a big, fat yawn that I would lay off caffeine for a month [egads!] to lower my tolerance [my caffeine strike is probably good for my body as well, but that's beside the point]. I realize now I'd best modify that statement: I will not have caffeine until October 15 unless it's in chocolate. That's about when my midterms start. Wish me luck. Monday was the first day with my new resolution in place and I was floating in and out of consciousness during 2 of my classes. What's worse is, I know I can get coffee from the carts on the various street corners for 85 cents should Red Bull not be in my budget. I pass the carts and it's so hard not to cave. Enjoy a grande caramel macchiato with whole milk for me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My 99 Cents: Freaks Come Out at Night

Hello. Hope everyone is enjoying what's left of summer. I am. Sort of. I'm cranking out assignments and looking out the window because I have to pay for this weekend's shopping and partying. I spent Saturday night dancing to all manner of mashups, house, and hip-hop wearing tons of eyeliner and a fabulous sequined miniskirt that turned the men's heads, straight and gay alike. That's why it seems appropriate that this week's 99 cents is 'Freaks Come Out at Night' by Whodini. Whodini was a big rap group of the 80s, delivering fun lyrics over funky beats for the pickiest breakers. My favorite verse:
Now when freaks get dressed to go out at night
They like to wear leather jackets, chains and spikes
They wear rips and zippers all in their shirts
Real tight pants and fresh mini skirts
All kinds of colors runnin' through their hair
And you could just about find a freak anywhere
But then again, you could know someone all their life
But might not know they're a freak unless you see them at night

I couldn't make one of my nifty mixtapes for you, so here's the YouTube video.

I love the Vocoder towards the end. A nice twist, but it's not abused the way it is in T-Pain songs. Don't get me started on T-Pain. Oy. Have a wonderful day, and remember to let your freak flag fly.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"The Most Gripping Comedy Since 1380"

After years of searching, I've finally found it: the complete Blackadder series for under $100. Ah, yes. "Blackadder", the crowning achievement of Rowan Atkinson's career, though his work as Zazu in The Lion King is a close second.

"Blackadder" is a British sitcom, or "britcom", written by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis that started its run in 1983. In the first season, called The Black Adder, Rowan Atkinson stars as Lord Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh. In this version of history, King Richard III wins the 1485 Battle of Bosworth Field, is accidentally killed by Lord Edmund, and then succeeded by Richard IV. From here, we see cowardly, useless Edmund try all manner of schemes to wrest power from his more kingly father. In the process, he gives himself the name the Black Adder, hoping to seem scarier.

The rest of the series follows Lord Edmund's similarly dissatisfied descendants through the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the late 18th century, and World War I. It's during Blackadder II that we meet the Blackadder we love: devastatingly sarcastic and smarter than everyone around him. In Blackadder III, watch Hugh Laurie in powder, hose, and a ridiculous wig playing Percy, the idiot Prince of Wales. His first appearance, however, is in a second season episode as the German Prince Ludwig, whose sadism is comically undercut by a speech impediment. Laurie is hilarious. More hilarious on "Blackadder" than on "House," you could argue.

When I started watching Blackadder in the 7th grade, I caught it on PBS at about 11:00 on Friday nights. I immediately fell in love with Rowan Atkinson's deadpan delivery of some of the most biting insults I'd ever heard. Of course, now that I'm older I love it--and understand it--that much more. He has a unique ability to poke fun at the British, other Europeans, and life in general in just the right ways.

In June, Digitalspy reported that Rowan Atkinson turned down an invitation to do special interviews for the 25th anniversary DVD, with a friend saying only that Atkinson is "a private person". How you do a special edition without the main character who's still alive is beyond me, but I guess BBC knows what it's doing. There's also a rumor that the show may come back in 2010.

I'll leave you with a clip for now. Here, Edmund holds two parties in his house at once. One for his Puritan relatives and one for a more lively bunch.

I couldn't find a place online to watch the episodes, but if you know of something, please let me and other fans of the show know. It's a shame the show isn't more popular in the States, but then again, look how well people like Adam Sandler do at the box office.

Blackadder on Wikipedia
Episode guides, background, etc. on BBC

Sunday, September 14, 2008

'Rock Me, Sexy Jesus' and other sacrilegious items

Back from my hiatus to confirm that Hamlet 2 is a movie worth seeing. Not only is it a great way to hold on to the last vestiges of summer and its movie season, it's irreverent good fun starring Steve Coogan [also seen in Tropic Thunder, a laugh-til-you-cry movie] for anyone who's had to endure high school drama from either the audience or in rehearsals. Rotten Tomatoes gives Hamlet 2 a 63% rating, but I think that's a bit harsh.

Hamlet 2 is the story of a failed actor turned drama teacher in Tuscon, Arizona. As school budget cuts threaten Dana Marschz's theatre program at the local high school where he's decided to work in order to support himself and his wife, played by Catherine Keener, the love interest in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Dana's stage adaptation of hits like Erin Brockovich are consistently panned by the audience and the incredibly school paper's astute 12 year-old critic. The way to save drama? Write an original musical. From the depths of Dana's soul, we get Hamlet 2, a musical where a time machine and Jesus help Hamlet go back in time to save all the characters.

Steve Coogan's performance is hilarious; he plays the drama teacher in all the exaggeration and emotional imbalance I came to love [and fear] in my insane high school director. The supporting cast was great as well. None of them are famous, with the exception of David Arquette and Amy Poehler, but that may change soon. Joseph Julian Soria plays the pain in the ass Latino high school student you see in every hackneyed 'Dangerous Minds' remake but with a twist and he's gorgeous. Delightfully kissable lips.

The thing about Hamlet 2 is that we don't actually get to see very much of Hamlet 2. Throughout the movie, we get references to all the twisted things Dana Marschz puts in his play but we never see it in all its ridiculousness. Suffice it to say, though, that the idea of a Hamlet 2 is absolutely ridiculous and after the original and 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead' there's really nothing left to be done in the way of Hamlet. Another classic work may have been more ripe for spoof and ridicule [Catcher in the Rye, perhaps? God, Holden Caulfield is irritating]. Outside of the play within the movie, the film is constant laughter with one racist, sacrilegious, sexist, or just plain vulgar moment after the next. All of this was underscored for me because I made the mistake of taking a Catholic to see it. Oops. Like a good Christian, she forgave me and we're still friends.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Food for thought...


I Heart Audrey!

I know it's been a bit since I've updated, but now that I'm back in school, things will slow down a bit. If you don't see anything new in two weeks, it means I've died in the library. Most of my posts will probably be like this: in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping or doing work. I'll do my best, to post with some modicum of regularity, but bear with me and tell your friends!

Recently, I had a wonderful evening with my friend where we stayed in, ate to the point of bursting, and watched Funny Face. Funny Face (1957) is a darling movie musical starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Audrey Hepburn plays uptight bookshop worker Jo Stockton who gets dragged kicking and screaming into the world of modeling by a photographer with an eye for offbeat beauty, Fred Astaire's character Dick Avery. It all begins with the women's magazine Quality searching for its Quality Woman: a smart woman with "pizazz" and, ironically, not much interest in clothes to model [and buy] the collection of a famous French couturier. Dick presents the idea to the editor who reluctantly agrees, and gets Jo to go along with it by promising her the chance to attend a lecture by her favorite philosopher. Shenanigans and romance ensue.

I loved this movie for a bunch of reasons. First, it's a musical! It also poked fun at avant garde/Beat culture with the bizarre [read: drug-induced, but Hollywood was too polite to say it at the time] dancing in Jo's favorite Paris cafe and the self-important philosopher who we all know is really full of crap. It goes without saying that Audrey Hepburn did an incredible job and that she looked absolutely gorgeous. She has the unique ability to be both conventionally and oddly beautiful. Of course, I loved the clothes; the collection Jo models is stunning and even in her dressed down, bookish attire, she looks great, with the exception of those hideous loafers. You can see why the Gap used her in their Skinny Black Pant campaign a while back. The loud, blue eyeshadow was hilarious to see on the editor Maggie Prescott and her flock of minions , but I'd love one of those tiny hats. Oh, the dawn of the 60s!

One drawback, perhaps. We know from the outset that Funny Face is a feel-good love story. But it seems that in the end, when Jo has swallowed her pride, she gulps down some of her values as well. It's fine that she sees she can be beautiful without throwing away everything she stands for, but it's whoosh! out the window for the fairytale of floating down the river on a raft in a fabulous wedding gown with Dick Avery. It seems to say that being smart will ultimately do you no good, as men will only see your body, that happy endings and smart girls are mutually exclusive. I think I may be rehashing an episode of Sex & the City as well as countless other discussions, but tell me your thoughts.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My 99 cents no. 6: Apache

A friend of mine is having an 80s-themed party but then again, who isn't these days? I'm excited, though, because it gives me a reason to once again take up my quest for the perfect faux gold dookie rope chain a la Big Daddy Kane [any assistance anyone can offer would be great] and spend the entire night doing the running man.

I imagine my night at the 80s party could easily turn into slurring the words to 'Like a Virgin' with the friends that vodka and cranberry has won me, but I hope against all hope that that is not the case. What do I want to hear? Hopefully, I'll hear Apache by Sugarhill Gang. A funky song with a built-in dance without the nuances of the 'Crank that Soulja Boy' will definitely get the party started. 'Apache' is one of the singles on the historic group's second album '8th Wonder', released in 1979. It's a crazy dance track that reached new heights of popularity with an episode of Fresh Prince. Oh, what shenanigans Will and Carlton get into! Demonstrated below:

And for the full song, click below:

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

Are you ready to dance yet? I am.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So You're Watching the DNC: Politics for Dummies

As I've said, I know very little about politics, and they say if one person has a question there are probably a bunch of people that have that same question. So I present you with the first in what will probably a series: Now and Later's Politics for Dummies. Learning is fun when we do it together!

Chapter 1: Let's Get Started
We're all watching the Convention now, but there's a lot that went into getting that spectacle up and running. First, the Democratic National Committee has to pick delegates and then it has to organize the events, the speakers, and the general fabulosity of the Convention. Various cities submit proposals and then the Committee selects a city based on whether or not it's built to accommodate all those people. Delegates and alternates are chosen according to rules decided on by Committee to account for things like affirmative action and inclusion. Each state has its own delegate selection plan, chosen based on population and strength of democratic voting.

Chapter 2: The Delegates
There are two types of delegates at the convention: pledged and unpledged. Within the pledged delegates there are district-level delegates, at-large delegates, and pledged leader and elected official [PLEO] delegates.
-District-level delegates: the first to be chosen in each state, these delegates are elected from different districts [usually congressional]. The delegates must support a candidate or can choose not to. Those that don't are called 'uncommitted'.
- At-large delegates: after the primary or caucus in a state, at-large delegates are elected to represent a candidate in proportion to how many votes they received. These are the last delegates that are chosen.
- PLEO delegates: these delegates are state-wide delegates who support a candidate that are chosen based on the state-wide vote. PLEO delegates are usually mayors, state elected officials, state legislature and other local, county, and state Party leaders.
Unpledged delegates are generally referred to as 'super delegates' on the news. These delegates make up about 19% of the delegates at the Convention and include former democratic governors or congress members, members of the DNC [all DNC members are super delegates], and "distinguished party leaders". All delegates are registered voters that identify as Democrats and are involved in a candidates' campaign.

Chapter 3: The Platform
The Democratic National Committee unveils its National Platform for every election at the Convention. Through a lengthy series of meetings and committees, the Platform Standing Committee drafts what it gathers Democrats like and don't like. Read this year's platform HERE, the title of which is "Renewing America's Promise". The main planks of the platform, which, if you've been watching TV lately, you have a pretty good sense of are: A Strong, Respected America; A Strong, Growing Economy; Strong, Healthy Families; and A Strong American Community [pinched directly from the DNC website]. This, of course, is only the bare bones bit and of course the Democrats have planned a multifaceted attack. The damn thing is 94 pages long, but the link is there for you the peruse so as to get into the finer points of Democratic strategy. From what I saw, though, it looks pretty good.

Chapter 4: At the Convention
And now the main event: four days of inspiration [we hope]. On the first day of the convention, delegates have to report the Rules Committee to iron out any last kinks and hear from the Credentials Committee, which addresses seating issues. Typically, Tuesday night at the Convention is about debating the issues and the tactics that should be included in the platform. Wednesdays are about the formal nomination and seconding of the candidate and the roll call of the states. Usually, the presumptive vice presidential nominee speaks on Wednesdays. Between the 50 states, the Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa, there are 4,419 votes up for grabs, made by 4,440 delegates. The numbers don't quite match up because some of the delegates outside of the contiguous United States have only a half vote. A candidate needs the majority of the votes to get the nomination; right now, it takes 2,210 votes to get it. Thursday, the final night of the convention, features the official nomination of the presidential and vice presidential candidates and the presidential candidate's acceptance speech. The whole thing is called to a close until the next four years.

Most of my information came from the DNC website and here. I know this is super late, but I'd started this a couple days ago and just ended up getting really busy. Enjoy, and go watch the speeches tonight!

Night 2 @ the DNC

I really have no business "covering" the convention, as there's so much I don't know about politics, but I'm going to do it anyway. Bear with me.

I missed some of the goings on, but I caught all the big stuff. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick delivered a good speech, but I wasn't terribly impressed. I did really like Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer's speech, though. He looked the part of a rancher turned governor, complete with a lariat instead of a tie. His speech was very forceful and very much in favor of Obama. The analysts had all remarked on the first night that the Democrats weren't going after McCain with enough force, but I think Gov. Schweitzer put that concern to rest.

Hillary Clinton did a fabulous job. She really seemed sincere and as far as I could see and she did a fairly good job of putting the animosity of her supporters to bed. People are stuck in their ways and are going to do what they're going to do, but the open-minded Clinton reporters are going to obey their leader's marching orders, I think. Clinton drove home the point that electing McCain would screw us allA lot of people called into CNN to comment on that night and of the 15 minutes I watched, only one person complained about Hillary, so overall I think it went over pretty well. And by the way, I loved that color she was wearing.

So now what? I hope last night was enough to get the bitter Hillary supporters to suck it up and not vote for John McCain. That crazy old man...God help us.

[Funny joke from my cousin: "If McCain is the answer, then the question must be, 'who has a platinum AARP card?'"]