Thursday, July 31, 2008

I spell inspiration O-B-A-M-A

I don't even have to tell you guys that this presidential election is going to different than elections past. A woman came close to being the Democratic nominee, a black man will probably get it, the country's in a terrible slump, and politics is seeping into pop culture in a big, big way.

When the last election came around, I and my peers, the sometimes chronically un-involved under 30 crowd, were reasonably active: I had a John Kerry for President button and I sent a couple letters to people in the Midwest asking them to cast their vote for Kerry. That was extent of our involvement really, when we figure d politics came with having a mortgage, but oh, were we mistaken. I couldn't escape Obama or anything else having to do with the election if I tried. Obama has been named-checked by several rappers and hot young actors, he appeared on the September 2007 cover of VIBE, my dearest friend is taking a semester off from school [!!!] to get him elected, a *music video* about him won an Emmy award, and my 'Do you smell what Barack is cooking?' t-shirt will arrive in the mail shortly. When was the last time you bought a t-shirt with your favorite candidate's picture on it? That's what I thought. The buzz is crazy.

And now this: capitalizing on the resurgence of comics and graphic novels as something you can engage in in public, IDW Publishing is putting out a comic book about Obama's life. Granted, they're doing one about McCain too, but we all know that's just for the sake of balance. Which comic do you think will sell better? I think when the comics are released in October, Obama's will be flying off the shelves. The creators aren't making this a sort of tongue-in-cheek thing, or an allegorical thing; they're sticking to the facts, and throwing in controversy and unanswered questionss for good measure. That way, they tap the Diesel and the Dungeons and Dragons markets. I can't wait to hear what people say when they come out. This will definitely make things interesting. The minute he steps out of office--premature, yes, but a girl can dream--I know they'll make a movie about him. Starring Denzel if he still looks young enough, most likely.

What makes Obama the candidate to love, though? He inspires us. He accepts us. Case in point: there was a big Obama crew marching in the Pride parade earlier this summer and there's even a cheeky Bottoms for Obama amassing. The man can give a speech, too: I heard him speak and it resonated with everyone in the audience, plus he was building buzz at the last Democratic National Convention, nearly stealing the show from old man Kerry and babyfaced Edwards. In his own way, conservative critics complaining of Ivy League snobbery be damned, he's like all of us. His special brand of optimism is the shot in the arm the U.S. needs right now, what with people losing their homes left and right, having their kids shipped off to a senseless war, and emptying their pockets at the gas pump. And yes, the politics people on TV pointed out that Edwards looked like a boy trying to do a man's job, but youth just looks so good on Obama. Most importantly, I think, Obama is a sort of reluctant hero. He considers himself first and foremost a public servant. He didn't nominate himself; a lot of other people did. That assuages a lot of fears about ulterior motives and a threatening need for power.
The election's still a long way off, and plenty are predicting that it's in for a mighty nasty turn. Between now and November, there will be time enough for Jon Stewart, Scarlett Johanssen, Kanye West and the like to wax politic. Keep watching and GObama!
[Links coming soon, but Google Bottoms for Obama if you want a good laugh]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

hiatus pt. 2/my 198 cents

Afraid I have some bad news. Late last week, my darling Dell laptop decided to take its own life, making it exceedingly difficult for me to update my blog. Hence, updates will be few and far between. Perhaps there is a silver lining to things tragedy...think of it as a good time to peruse the other things I've written and leave me loads of comments. Hopefully, my laptop will be in working order shortly, or my workload will clear up so I can sneak a bit of blogging at work.

On another note, this week I'm giving you my 99 cents twice [which is why its my 198 cents. Duh.] The first song is Feel Like Makin Love by Miss Roberta Flack. It's a lovely song, romantic in a 70s keyboard kind of way. It's one of those songs you hate to admit make you feel warm in fuzzy inside, like Lovin' You by Minnie Riperton, but you can't help it.

The second song is *wait for it* Feel Like Makin Love by D'angelo. I put the two songs together because you should never break up a set. D'angelo's cover is more funky and more sexy than the original. The beat is sexy like throaty laughter and the perfect little black dress. [This mushiness is part of the excitement over this weekend's special gentleman caller, so please forgive me. I'll regain my composure in a few days.]


D'angelo's version is unfortunately not on Mixit, but you can listen to it using YouTube here. And take a second look at that picture: isn't he beautiful? There aren't many people I would be a groupie for, but for him? Yes, please. Pleae come back to us, D'angelo! Put out another album! I heard you on Snoop's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment and I know you're out there!

Sorry about all of this. Try not to miss me and tell a friend! Thanks.

Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chuck Norris killed my sense of humor.

Happy Friday! Another week is behind us and another weekend's ahead of us, thank goodness.

Yesterday, I went into Border's because I was dying for a book to read, and I witnessed the magic of product placement firsthand. The friend I was with, who was irritated about being in a bookstore at all, quickly snapped up a 100-page book of 400 Chuck Norris jokes. This is a wonderful friend, a smart friend, but he'll be damned if he reads a book for pleasure. Unless it's a book about Chuck Norris.


I cannot for the life of me understand Chuck Norris as pop culture phenomenon of the new millenium. Icon of the 90s? Perhaps. Walker, Texas Ranger started its 8-year run in 93 and you can still watch it sometimes on USA but that's in the middle of the day [again, daytime television as watercooler conversation? Not for us working stiffs]. Walker was a cowboy of the 90s, complete with cowboy hat and karate chops. And he came on after the Smurfs and/or the Snorks at just about the time my godmother was giving me a boiled egg as my snack. Chuck Norris, began his career away from the camera as a competitive fighter, and in true 70s fashion--football players could become blaxploitation stars in a heartbeat--he was quickly converted to a larger-than-life action hero because he could do his own damn stunts. I don't think the details of his career pre-Walker are that important [I can't imagine that one Chuck Norris film is that much different than any other] but you can read about them on IMDb. Why this show was on for 8 years and who was watching it other than kids who couldn't find the remote after the Smurfs went off? It boggles. my. mind.

Enter Conan O'Brien: he pulls a lever on his show and all of the sudden Chuck Norris is the badass du jour. Except dude is damn near 70. I chuckle at the occasional Chuck Norris joke but it's not a knee-slapping good time as the audience on Conan O'Brien would have us believe. A highly subversive, dangerous thought: Chuck Norris jokes are not funny. Chuck Norris should stay in the 90s or 80s or 70s where he belongs. Chuck Norris should enjoy his retirement like most people pushing 70. But maybe I'm missing something. Can someone please explain to me why Chuck Norris is so funny and/or cool? Why he's popping up on t-shirts and in soda commercials? Why I should be happy that he slept with my wife and that he's the reason there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq [you know, because he was in Switzerland at the time]? I don't get it. I really don't.

Links and such coming soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A little fella that's cute and yellow and chubby...

Hello friends. I've started a Twitter stream [I'm so bad with bandwagons, forgive me] which you can find here. In the next few days, I'll pay more attention to my sidebars, hook up Now and Later with a blog roll and links and whatnot, but in the mean time, just refer to this link for my Twitter stream.

Moving right along...

I have a bad tchatchke habit [the goys among you can click here to find out what a tchatchke is. Or click here if you don't know what a goy is, either]. And recently, I've combined my magpie tendencies with a childhood favorite: I'm starting a rubber ducky collection. I'm interning at a Fortune 500 company and I have the audacity to have a rubber ducky on my desk. Trés unprofessional, but it really can't be helped. A tchatchke was bound to show up at one point or another. Plus, the ducky doubles as a stress ball for days like today.

My first ducky is a looove ducky. He's red with white hearts and he has a girlfriend! The girlfriend is with The Boy. She's white with red hearts. Are you gagging when you hear this? I felt really stupid presenting a 20 year-old guy with a rubber ducky as a token of my affection but quickly got over it when I remembered what a dork he was. Pictured at right are our Sweetheart Duckies.

Rubber duckies, of course, have been around long before I snapped up a pair. Duckies are said to date back to the early 1800s, when rubber manufacturing first started to become big business. The first duckies and other rubber toys were made with rather hard rubber, and it was a number of years before the little yellow guys got their trademark squeak. Ernie from Sesame Street made rubber duckies a bath time staple with his song. Watch him sing it below for old time's sake.

Now, rubber duckies have taken on different forms that accomodate their older admirers and collectors. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say they didn't become quite so mainstream with the over-7 set until some clever person decided to slap some devil horns and demonic stare onto a lovable childhood toy to give us devil duckies and then someone came up with the morbid dead ducky. Finally, some delightfully wicked person decided adults needed to make bath time lots of fun, too, and thus was born the I Rub My Ducky vibrator. It comes in a variety of colors and for an added twist, they've come out with a ducky dressed in bondage gear, complete with ball gag. Hott. I want one.

And did you know people race rubber duckies in ducky derbies? I had no idea, but apparently the first duckie race was held in 1988 and many nonprofits use them as fundraisers.

Pick up a rubber ducky when you get a chance. It'll make you smile. Promise. Or you can just listen to this, which I found hilarious but danceable. Who knew ducky could party?

More Ducky Delights
Rubber Ducks! [History, etc.]
Stumpy the Four-Legged Duck [I shit you not]
Duckplanet: Where Rubber Duck Collectors Flock
YouTube Attack of the Rubber Duckies!
Stop motion video with rubber duckies...OK, now I'm just wasting time

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dark Knight

Friday, I fought my way into an 11:30 P.M. showing of The Dark Knight, and it's safe to say the movie lived up to the hype. That rarely happens, but you have to hand it to Heath Ledger; he was incredibly creepy as the Joker. He was darkly funny and on some levels, smarter than Batman & co. Christian Bale was a hot, tortured Batman that actually grew as a character over the course of the movie and Aaron Eckhart more than held is own between the other two stars. The one drawback was Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, Rachel Dawes [played by Katie "help! I'm married to a whackjob" Holmes in 'Batman Begins']. She was whiny with a cloying personality, and I'd forgotten how much her bad posture irritates me. She was much better as the brassy, chain-smoking New York Jew in that movie about Wellesley with Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunt whose title is completely escaping me at the moment. [Anyone know what it's called?] Granted, she didn't have much to work with because female characters in superhero movies tend to be like that, but she wasn't the improvement on Holmes I'd hoped she'd be.

TDK leaves room for another movie but gives you enough closure. Thankfully, it is not a rose-tinted glasses ending about Batman, Gotham, or humanity as a whole. It's smartly done and has you thinking more deeply about life than most action movies do, plus, the score is amazing [my band geek is showing, I know]. It's so good that I may actually swallow my pride--Boy, I'm sorry I made fun of your nerdiness--and read the Batman graphic novels.
There's really nothing left to be said about it except for, 'go see it'. It will be $10.50 well spent. Cheers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

digging the dancing queen

I'm one of the millions of moviegoers who scrambled to get tickets to one of tonight's showings of The Dark Knight, but just for a minute, let's remember that there's another really cool movie opening today: Mamma Mia.

Mamma Mia, starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan [ooh la la] and Amanda Seyfried, is based on the big-hit Broadway musical based on some of ABBA's biggest hits. Now. I have to confess that I have a serious soft spot for ABBA. I let my friend in on my little secret and her jaw hit the floor--"you're kidding, right?" I kid you not. A little cheese goes a long way to brighten up your day. I heart ABBA. I'm listening to Gold, their greatest hits collection, right now. How can you deny the catchiness of 'Dancing Queen' and [duh] 'Mamma Mia'? This is the stuff of karaoke gold.

The premise of what I imagine will be a feel-good cheesefest is Sophie's getting married but *gasp* she doesn't know who her father is, and neither does her mother! She goes on a quest to find daddy dearest so he can give her away to her future husband. Hilarity and big musical numbers ensue.

I'd really like to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway. I hear it's amazing; it should be, seeing as how it was nominated for a Best Musical Tony and has gotten a bunch of great reviews. One of my old classmates told me that his overzealous Jamaican parents actually danced in the aisles during the show. Hopefully the movie's as good. Rotten Tomatoes has a lot of reviews saying the only thing that saves the movie is Meryl Streep but I'm hoping it's just art snobbery and cynicism getting in the way of what will be a rocking good time. I'll hopefully see it next weekend but in the meantime, look for a review of The Dark Knight.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My 99 cents no. 2

Hello, friends. Thanks to all my readers, especially the commenters. Google Analytics is showing a promising outlook in terms of traffic. That being said, tell a friend to tell a friend about Now and Later! It looks good but not that good.

For what it's worth, here's my 99 cents for the week: I Got a Man by Positive K. Unfortunately, Mixwit isn't working for me this week and I can't find a single good quality video on YouTube that I'm allowed to embed, so here's the link to the video instead. Do you see what I mean? YouTube should never become a "real" company.

Anywho, I Got a Man is a 1992 hip-hop classic by Bronx rapper Positive K featuring...Positive K! That's the really cool thing about this track...not only does it capture to comic perfection boy meets girl, it's all K, all the time. It was genius of him to pitch up his voice to act as his own rude chick who goes toe to toe with him. Granted, Prince did this before Pos in songs like If I Was Your Girlfriend, which TLC covered and Beyonce borrowed for a few lines in '03 Bonnie & Clyde, and named his female alter ego Camille, but Positive K was smart to copy a good idea when he heard it. Actually, he copies two good ideas: he used part of the beats from Rescue Me by A Taste of Honey. Raising the pitch of his own voice saved him the hassle and the cost of trying to work with another artist. Plus, what female emcee at that time [think MC Lyte and Queen Latifah] wouldn't have sounded rough and manly doing it? He knew MC Lyte was no joke and teamed up with her later on I'm Not Havin It. Necessity really is the mother of invention, huh?

Go forth and download, but legally, please. Hidden gems like Positive K need the checks from iTunes downloads more than anyone. And when I get more information about her [him], I'll write a little something about Camille/Prince.
Also: feel free to suggest songs or even just tell me what you think about my 99 cents. Please and thank you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And Ju Don't No?

Real quick: Junot Diaz is an amazing writer. Readreadread. He's from Jersey by way of the Dominican Republic and boy, does he talk like it. He's a "ghetto nerd" that's already being called one of the major literary voices of the 21st century and dude already won a Pulitzer with his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. That book is incredible and you'll read it before you know what happened. His short stories are great, lots of dark humor about the absurdities of ghetto life, the immigrant experience, men as idiots, and this thing called life. It's just so smart. Anywho, enjoy the video below. It's long but worth it because he's insightful and cusses like a sailor. Kudos to Google for doing this, too.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

mighty morphin' good time

Shock of the day: Power Rangers is still on TV! The Boy mentioned that he and a friend were surfing YouTube for clips of the new series. It's weird to think that this *relic* of the 90s [Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers originally aired in the U.S. on Fox Kids in 1993] is still on TV for kids with no concept of toys without batteries. Or USB ports, for that matter.

Do you remember how hot Power Rangers were in their heyday? That action-packed after school treat that was the product of the U.S. stealing yet another script from Japan? I had a Power Rangers binder [but in those days all binders were called Trapper Keeper] in the first grade and not a damn thing to put in it but I carried it around anyway. Kids all over the country were jumping off chairs and crap to pretend that they, too, had morphed and were giving Rita Repulsa what for. Of course, the fight scenes weren't much better than a Godzilla movie from the 50s, and even though the Rangers always won, they somehow managed to keep their little audience members on the edge of their seats.

To take you back, here's the opening from the original show:

Looking back, it was a politically incorrect shitshow: the Black Ranger was always getting his ass saved by the others, the girls always needed help, and who's bright idea was it to make the one Asian cast member the Yellow Ranger? But I digress. Then it got complicated: Green Ranger went from bad to good then from Green to White and then Pokemon was all over TV so we all stopped paying attention anyway.

Now in its 16th season, Power Rangers has mostly managed to stick to its fun, kitschy roots. Granted, the special effects are a little more slick, but you have the same stiff dialogue, the bad puns, the evil but hot enemy and her minions, and bad guys whose lips don't really move. They've done a lot with the show, though it's hard to say how good its been. There was Power Rangers in Space, Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, Power Rangers Time Force, and the list goes on [but you can see it here.] The most recent incarnation finds a group of high school kids working at a pizza parlor but kicking ancient evil spirit ass in their spare time. They still have a Red, Blue, and Yellow Ranger but they're added Wolf and Rhino Rangers too. I've embedded the episode where the lost, angsty Rhino Ranger finally finds his niche with the others:

If I were seven, I would watch this show like nobody's business. But I wonder how much it appeals to kids now? It's definitely not Ironman or anything. People of my generation know the real deal, the originals. Red, Blue, Black, Pink or Yellow: which one did you pretend to be?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My 99 cents

Hello friends. So I thought it'd be fun if each week I recommended something I think you guys should download from iTunes. It might be something I downloaded myself, but either way. the song will generally be something old or something new borrowing from something old.

My 99 cents for this week is More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It's just so darn cute. It really does make you feel like you're in love.


I got found this little tool thing on Cover that Mother. Pretty cool stuff over there. Take a look.

flashing lights [lights...lights...lights...]

Let's take it back to the 90s: remember those light-up sneakers that came out back there? Yup, I had a pair. Those, and the glow-in-the dark ones. Rest assured, I and everyone else that had a pair spent countless hours running around in the dark in front of mirrors watching them flash and glow and whatnot [I didn't have the girlie ones you see here--I was a huge tomboy--but you get the idea]. Of course, if you were playing tag at night, you were pretty much screwed.

This site says the original light-up sneakers were created by LA Gear and after a few tries [some of the original designs used mercury] they got it right with the LA Lights that were released in 93. They made the sneakers for kids but Fayva had a Brake Lights series for adults. LA Gear pretty much cornered that market, though; Fayva went out of business in 96. The site said LA Gear was supposed to release light up sneakers for adults but I guess that's just a nasty rumor [their site's down, to boot].

One young genius recognized the potential for flyness. This guy outta D.C. started this company called Jezign for adult light up sneakers and as of last year he was selling them in New York, Miami, L.A., Houston and D.C. through Finish Line and was trying to sell them in the Caribbean and Canada, too. They're called Bubble Clouds, and apparently Lloyd [singer] likes em.

I think the shoe itself is kind of ugly--Air Force in the front, New Balance in the back--but the concept is crazy. I would love to have these in the club. My outfit wouldn't even matter cuz I would have sneakers with lights! But alas, these are not worth the $150 they're charging. Boo.
There are glowing sneakers I might buy, though. Of course, the hard part will be trying to figure out where and how I can buy them. Anywho, let's have a gander:

Too fly, right? There's another video here, but for some reason the embedding won't work. The ones above are cooler than the ones in the video. They're "coming soon", but isn't everything? I'm far from a sneakerhead but if I find the right glow in the dark or light up sneakers, I will make them mine.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Vanity's in the eye of the beholder

Last week, I was sitting at my desk and I can't remember why, but I was inspired to poke around YouTube for Vanity 6 videos. Vanity 6 was a girl group dreamed up by Prince [all hail the Purple One!]. Denise Matthews, singing as Vanity, lead a trio of lingerie-clad sexpots in the early 80s. Denise chose the name Vanity but Prince wanted her to be Vagina pronounced Vuh-GEEN-ah. Before teaming up with Prince and The Time, Matthews was a struggling actress/model but then began some sort of torrid love affair with Prince and then released an album in '82 with Vanity 6 [the 6 is for the number of boobs between them. Yeah, I know]. The album itself isn't that important from what I understand, but the single 'Nasty Girl' was. It's good, cheeky fun and was reasonably popular when it came out.

Unfortunately, things went bad with Vanity so she left Prince & friends to try to start a solo career which flopped, developed a nasty coke addiction, and then, like all good former bad girls, became a born-again Christian, raising her voice only for the Lord.

Enter Apollonia. Apollonia was another striking beauty bold enough to spend the better part of her days in black lingerie and a trench coat. She's the female star in 'Purple Rain' and in the movie she--surprise!--is the lead "singer" of a girl group called Apollonia 6 [I say "singer" because most would agree that the lovely ladies of Vanity/Apollonia 6 couldn't sing all that well...actually, a lot of their music is more spoken than anything else and when it is sung it's lukewarm at best]. Once Vanity split, they renamed the group and put out only one album in '85. 'Sex Shooter' was their biggest song, which they perform it in the movie.

If you ask me, Apollonia's the better frontwoman. I watched the Vanity 6 video for 'You're So Dull', and Vanity seemed to be shrinking into her trench.

The other 2 girlies in Vanity/Apollonia 6 were Brenda Bennett and Susan Moonsie. Brenda was the bad ass cigarette-smoking, leather jacket-wearing blonde and Susan was the "teenage Lolita". Prince made her 16 years old to up the forbidden factor. There's this whole kiddie porn thing about Susan; she's always wearing white lingerie and after the group is done she clutches her great big teddy bear. In the video for 'Drive Me Wild', Vanity and Brenda abduct the unsuspecting girl from her bed and as she's getting into the car, she drops her beloved bear as the car speed off into her fast and furious lifestyle. C'mon she drops the bear? An obvious metaphor for losing her innocence. Then she's on stage in her virgin bride lingerie being all sorts of nasty with her new friends...few things are raunchier than a virgin who doesn't want to be. The whole video's delightfully slutty and you can see it here [I'm not allowed to embed so click the link].

Vanity (left) vs. Apollonia (right): Who's your favorite?

Enjoy the videos! And tell me, which Apollonia 6 vixen are you?

Vanity 6 Bio
Denise Matthews Interview with VIBE Magazine

Monday, July 7, 2008

what's with the japanese?

I was reading TIME Magazine on the train last week and I thought I should share. You can read the article here, but long story short, the Japanese continue to make their adult movies weird: introducing elder porn, cumming soon to a DVD player near you. Or not.

While that might make a lot of us cringe [when we say mature porn here in the States, we're talking people in their 40s, maybe], this is becoming a big, big segment of Japan's adult segment. And let's be honest; elder porn is not the most disturbing thing the Japanese adult video industry has to offer. For a long time, Japan had obscenity laws that, while they allowed pornography, they were pretty strict about not showing penetration. To get money and get the audience's rocks off, Japanese pornographers came up with a genre called bukkake, which generally shows foreplay/outercourse [but no genitals? what the hell?] and then women covered in ejaculate or drinking tons of it out of martini glasses and things like that. And then hentai, of course, was the logical outgrowth of graphic novels and anime that featured supersexy cartoon babes and laws that didn't want to show penetration between real live people but that didn't count pen and ink people. Or people and aliens, animals, etc. On the whole Japanese obscenity laws are confusing and a bit silly, especially when any and everything can be found on the Internet [read about the ins and outs--pun?--of the laws here.]

So. Elder porn. Why would a nice, 70 year-old man want to put his business on display and be foolish enough to think none of his friends know about it? And why's his junk selling so well? The TIME article says that Japan has a really high number of people in that age group so there you have your market and your talent pool.

I'm playing devil's advocate here and staving off images of my grandparents in all their geriatric glory going at it in saying the Japanese may actually be onto something. On some level, it's decidedly less creepy for someone to watch a porn star their own age than to watch a nubile young thing that could be their child or grandchild. Plus, ageism is bad and annoying and it's immature of us to assume that once people hit 40 or 50, their libido disappears. Thanks to modern innovations like lube--I highly recommend Wet--Viagra, people can do it for, well, ever. Which is cool, as long as they can get the spread of STDs in nursing homes under control...grandma has no business having genital warts. That being said, I would rather watch a hundred hours of bukkake than walk in on my grandparents. Yuck.

Another thing to think about: elder porn makes a concession that pornographic and mainstream movies alike fail to do--that people get old. And they get fat, and skin starts to sag, and few people in real life have Jenna Jameson's or Tera Patrick's proportions. And that's OK. Maybe we can cross our fingers that elder porn will be part of a trend that says normal can be sexy, too, that Hollywood's ideals aren't something we necessarily have to aspire to. [Comstock Films gets it right with their line of real couples sex DVDs, but I digress.]

So what do you think? Will elder porn catch on in the States/the west, or will we still encounter only barely legal girls and 30ish tarts in our Google and LimeWire quests for something hot?

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