Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Best Hits of the 80s, 90s, And Today

Don't get too excited, but this is the most personal and private thing I've ever written about in my blog: yesterday I bought one of those hyper-trendy leather cuffs.

....It was on clearance, alright? And it's really small! It's probably not even real leather! And it's sur—OK, why don't I wait while you finish laughing....

Right. So I bought this cuff. I swear it's not because I've suddenly fallen in with a group of Euro tweakers or fanatical gay nightclubbers or something—the cuff is almost subtle, actually, no studs or spikes or sequins spelling out "POLE SMOKER" or anything, just a little belt buckle. I bought it mainly because I felt my wardrobe needed a more 80s flair to it—you know, a little sexy, a little trashy, a little Studio 54, a little Greenwich Village leather bar circa 1983—I mean, it's all about the 80s these days, right? Foreign policy, fashion, popular music, everything's harkening back to the towelhead-hating, legwarmer-sporting, glam Casio glory days of 1986. I just wanted to fit in, you know? (Just promise you'll stop me if you see me picking up legwarmers from Target or something.) I mean, if you think about it (or even if you don't), in any given decade in the US, we always get nostalgic for the cliches of the era 2 decades previous. Dig: in the 70s, Happy Days revived the sock-hop squeaky-clean 50s; in the 80s there was that resurgence of 60s hippie chic; in the 90s it was all about the shagadelic baby yeah!/funkytown/big pimpin lifestyle of the 1970s; and the oughts have seen the rebirth of an 80s novelty act (Kylie Minogue) and all the electroclash-inflected fashion horrorshows that entails, with even folksy Jewel turning the radio dial back a couple of decades. I'd like to think it's something in the DNA, some aspect of human nature that longs to preserve its culture, but in reality it's probably just that people in the prime consumer bracket (males 18-39) are being forcibly marketed to feel nostalgic for their youth.

So anyway, if things continue as planned, we should all be sporting "Kurt Lives" pins and buying ironic NKOTB shirts off eBay while enduring endless hours of I Love The 90s on VH1 around, say 2008-09. Or maybe it'll be sooner: I fear that I bought my cuff too late—the 80s are already obsolete, and the early 90s are making a comeback faster than we think. (See, allowing gays to get married really has caused the slippery slope acceleration of our culture that Christian zealots feared it would. For shame, activist judges!) This is especially true in music, as the 90s were quite a time for music, with all that grunge tomfoolery and the mainstreaming of indie rock (remember MTV's Indie Outing?). Of course, you can't turn anywhere these days without being bombarded by ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl and his endless string of badly- and vaguely pornographically-named bands (Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Probot, etc.). And then comes confirmation of the rumors that late 80s/early 90s ur-indie rockers The Pixies will reunite—they'll headline the storied Coachella festival this spring, along with Kraftwerk (?). [Thanks to Chitra for reminding me to blog about this.] But that's not all! Sonic Youth—forever young and forever trapped in 1992—are going back on tour (click on "Breaking News"), with no less of an opening act than their 90s-era noise rock/lo-fi colleagues Sebadoh. (Sebadoh will also tour on their own, coming to Cambridge's TT the Bear's in April.) And that's still not all! Opening for Sebadoh opening for Sonic Youth will be no less than one of the members of yet another noisome/lo-fi 90s mainstay, Dinosaur, Jr.

This is all really too much, I think. The 90s back already? Grunge died for a reason, folks, and so did Kurt Cobain—he alone realized what a total cultural wasteland 1994 was. Granted, I love Dirty and Daydream Nation as much as the next Sonic Youth fan, and occasionally I'll get wrapped up in an episode of The Nanny, but I think everyone's forgetting that for the most part the 90s totally and completely sucked: the music was crap, the fashion was non-existent, the most powerful person in the country was an intern,
the most popular book was so bad it was written anonymously, and here's a partial list of the Oscar winners from that era: Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves, Forrest Gump, Titanic. Gag vomit puke yuck. I'm just not ready yet! Junior high was brutal, sticky, and acne-riddled—and now you tell me if I go 10-12 years in either direction I'll be forced to relive it? I'm all dizzyed up like in Memento or some such. And I really don't think I'll survive the next few years if it's going to be all about feedback-laced whining and sad white people and execrably forgettable fashion (oh, but the wonders Miuccia Prada will work with those backpack purses and babydoll dresses!). I guess I'll just have to turn in my cuff for all those flannel shirts I just sent to Goodwill.

Variety: Fag Slags Mag Hag For Rag Lag

It's filthy, yet impossible to resist. It's full of nothing but lies, yet you keep coming back. Everyone you know loves it, but no one would ever admit so in public. Is it a Lifetime movie? An ex-boyfriend? V.C. Andrews? Masturbating in the afternoon? Duran Duran's Rio? The answers are yes, sometimes, yes, hell yes, and muthaFUCKA hellll yes, but I'm actually thinking of Us Weekly. Friends, I hate to break it to you, but—this week's glowing New York Times feature on Us's editrix-in-chief notwithstanding—I fear that the days are numbered for everyone's favorite little gossip rag.

Basically the WB to People's UPN, Us is the most amazingly addictive piece of utter trash to the hit market since Xtina Aguilera's chaps-soilingly yummy 'Dirrty' video. A world without it <shudder> would be a tragic place indeed. However, the fact remains that Hollywood just isn't providing enough excitement these days to sustain a mimeographed pamphlet, forget a full-color glossy weekly. All anyone wants to talk about is Jesus-hating Jews and Cold Mountain and like Lindsay Lohan or something. Yawn! I mean just check out the Us covers from the last few weeks (it's OK, everyone knows you hide the back issues under Wallpaper* and the Atlantic Monthly)—the covers are just reality star after reality star. Paging Dr. Kevorkian! Janice honey, the Times may be your BFF-4-EVA, but when you're using regular people to sell famous people to other regular people, it's all over.

Of course, the first nail in Us's coffin was when perennial Us stalking victims cover couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez split up*: without [insert stupid couple nickname here] to kick around, suddenly there were like 36 empty pages to fill in the magazine. Thank god Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore decided to start doing the oingo-boingo—Us rode that little cradle-robbing incident for at least a few months.

But wait! Now comes the shocking news that will truly be the downfall of Us Weekly: Ashton Kutcher has been lying about his age! Turns out there's documentation of a Christopher Ashton Kutcher being born in Iowa in 1974, but nobody in 1978, making the artist formerly known as Kelso actually a wizened 30 years of age, not 25. Say it ain't so!!! With Demi just a spry 41 years old, the whole shocking age difference romance thing vanishes faster than you can say "Got MILF?", and it's just another coupla tired old white people doin the neutron dance to help their careers, rather than being the hottest May-December since who knows when. Yawn and double yawn! Sure, OK, personally I don't think someone with a body like this could really be 30—I feel like a pedophile just looking at him—but considering this news comes to us via that paragon of fair and balanced news reporting, The National Enquirer, I'm sure it's true. Oh what will Us talk about now?


*We all know Ben and Jen are still together and just faked a breakup to get the media off their back—how Jimmy Hoffa of them!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Tickled Grey

Next week is Super Tuesday, but this week it's Grey Tuesday, a bit of online civil disobedience wherein websites turn grey and/or host mp3s of DJ Danger Mouse's excellent Grey Album to protest the artistically stifling/deadening effects of evil corporate copyright law. Danger Mouse made the Grey Album (a carnival twist-up of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album) with no intention of turning a profit—it was meant to be shared and distributed freely, and for free—yet EMI slapped him and sites that tried to host the album with cease-and-desist orders and threatened lawsuits. It's pathetic, really, especially considering that renegade unauthorized gonzo sampling is pretty much how P. Diddy made his Cristal-soaked fortune. Guess it always helps to have Ashton Kutcher on your side.

I can't turn my whole site grey or host the mp3s because (1) I'd never figure out how to get it back to this sunsettish standard template color palette and (2) Blogspot sites like mine are run for free off Blogger's servers, so I can't host files, but I'm with them in spirit. The Grey Tuesday site has a full list of places aside from Illegal Art that are hosting the album today. If you read kottke.org regularly, visit it today and realize how striking this all-grey protest thing really can be.

Speaking of Jason Kottke, he linked recently to photos from an equally controversial (but sadly now closed) exhibit by artist Kelly Heaton, who made a coat out of Tickle Me Elmos. It's Sesame Street meets Cruella DeVille and I wish to gawd I knew about this earlier so I could have bid for one of those mounted Elmo heads she was auctioning off on eBay.

This Week [2/23 - 2/29]

Is this my last "this week" post? I start working next week, so I might never have fun ever again.

Monday (2/23): Calvin Klein Sample Sale | Museum of Sex, 10am [NYC]
Tuesday (2/24): NBC actually bothers to air Frasier, 9pm [NBC]
Wednesday (2/25): Aardvark Orchestra premieres Big Dig jazz symphony 'Dig the Dig,' 10pm [Regattabar]
Thursday (2/26): Kitchen Stories, 5:30pm [Brattle]
Friday (2/27): One Last Hurrah
Saturday (2/28): Comics as Art, 2pm [Zeitgeist] | Bright Eyes, 6pm [Lupo's]
Sunday (2/29): 76th Annual Academy Awards, 8pm [ABC]

Quote of the week: "Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends" – Tom Waits

Friday, February 20, 2004

Shower the People You Love

No blogging expected until I'm back in town on Monday. How will you cope with the boredom of a blogless life? I know when I feel listless and untethered, I like to randomly buy wedding gifts for C-list celebrities. And how convenient! Tori Spelling has registered online at Williams-Sonoma (just like Gemini's Twin!) in honor of her impending nuptials. And looka here! Debra Messing has registered online at Babystyle (under the married name she has no intention of taking—nice try, Debbie!), but this time it's shower gifts for that little baby she's working so hard to hide from us on Will & Grace. So go forth and buy rammekins to your heart's content!

Hey, remember the episode where Grace goes crazy with the wedding registry gun? Classic. And speaking of baby-hiding on Will & Grace, great sly stuff in tonight's episode with that whole running gag of "Grace, you've put on a little weight recently, haven't you?" Sure, W&G is nowhere near as funny as it used to be (i.e., before the stunt casting), but I'm enjoying the self-referential drawing-room farce tone the show has taken recently; it's like Jeeves & Wooster, but not as gay. [All via Gawker, yes, Gawker]

If you get bored of this hot new celeb trend of "having your poor fans spend all their hard-earned rent money on anonymous gifts for you while you bank $1 million a month doing nothing," I suggest you head over to Ron Mwangaguhunga's site, The Corsair. Really really fucking brilliant, to quote Bono. The Corsair is everything I want to be in a blog (except the design—eek!), and his epic posts make mine look like haiku.

All this talk of Williams-Sonoma reminds me that recently I've been jonesing for an egg slicer real bad. Man, I effin love those things: they slice, they dice, they play pentatonic scales when you run your fingers across the wires! Who will marry me so we can register for one stat? I mean, we all realize now that this recent marriage/civil rights brouhaha is all really just an attempt by gays to legislate spending more time at Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware, right? Forget the homosexual agenda, we're talkin the homosexual credenza! <ba-dum-pum> Thanks folks, I'm here all week. Try the fish!

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Carnaval

Tomorrow marks the official start of Carnaval—Carnivale, Carnival, whatever the hell you want to call the 5-day orgy of excess leading up to Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) and the start of Lent. (Ahh, Lent: Do you think 40 days is enough for the Catholic Church to atone for their sins this year? Me either.) In Rio, it all officially begins with the mayor handing the keys of the city (at around 3pm) over to this specially chosen fat dude known as the Rei Momo ("Clown King," not to be confused with David Byrne's great World/Latin album by the same name). The "unofficial" start of Carnaval Carioca (as the Rio fest is called) is at midnight tonight, when the Bloco do Bip-Bip—a group of enterprising drunk people who gather ever so often at a famous bar, à la the Hash House Harriers—parades boozily through the streets of Copacabana belting out samba standards. (Bip-Bip also unofficially closes Carnaval by "parading" again at midnight on Mardi Gras night.) So this evening on your rounds, raise ya glass and shake ya ass come last call.

It seems almost unpossible to me now that I was at Carnaval in 2003; has a year really passed since I was trapped in those five OK, eight sequined-and-feathered non-stop days of high-stepping drag queens, dancing until 7 in the morning, drinking sketchy cocktails served from car trunks, learning to samba with anorexic Italian girls, tricking people into skinny-dipping, and etc.? Like Bob Newhart or Patrick Duffy on Dallas, it all seems like a dream to me now....

The one Carnaval event that gets the most attention outside Brazil is the big Samba Parade, the frantic to-do with the floats and the topless girls and the costumes (plus, in 2003, a levitating actor playing Moses, a 3-story bobblehead of President Lula, and 4 scuba divers doing aquarobics in giant hamster balls)....The ever-enterprising Brazilian government has turned this attention to their advantage, always giving the big parade some progressive theme to bring global attention to Brazil's socioeconomic problems. (In 2003 the theme was AIDS prevention/condom use, and one group's float theme was organ donation; just try that at the Superbowl.) Yet despite all the hoopla, I hardly remember the Samba Parade, as it costs something like US$200+ to attend (I got scalped tickets), meaning most backpackers and actual residents of Rio party for free in the streets—which was more fun, anyway.

The high price tag also means lots of celebrities flock to Rio for the weekend. Last year, the gayest gaylords in Gayville, Dolce & Gabbana, paid a visit to Rio and caused a huge to-do over—of course—fashion. [Brazilian newswire bit about it; Google "translates".] The dynamic duo from Italy refused to wear the hideously ugly branded t-shirts that are the only ticket in to the "celebrity" section of the grandstands (you can't forge a t-shirt like you can a ticket, you see), sporting instead custom-made tuxedo shirts BeDazzled and such by their own atelier. The grandstand bodyguards said "no t-shirt, no entry, no exceptions"— even for fabulous $13,000 shirt-sporting couturiers—so D&G stormed off in a huff (lithe Brazilian boytoys in tow), claiming Brazil was all about the fag-bashing and the Europe-hating. How sad!

Rio has already had a big celeb sighting in the past 12 months, when Pharrell and Snoop Dogg shot the sexed-up 'Beautiful' video on the steps of a convent (whoops!) in the heart of Rio's Bohemian quarter. But even if the rap superstars hadn't dropped by, it probably wouldn't be very exciting to know that the "celeb" at this year's Carnaval is evil geek overlord Bill Gates [in Portuguese; Google "translates"]. Big Willy is forgoing the standard fancy hotel-and-taxis route, choosing instead to live on a luxury yacht anchored in Guanabará Bay and get around on his own private helicopter. (I know some Gates scholars—Isaac and Eli, can we get a piece of this?) One of the people he's entertaining on his boat is Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's there either because he wanted to escape the "fags" he's so fond of who took over his state last weekend or because he wanted to rock that Speedo somewhere where it was more acceptable. (Side note: the D&G "no shirt, no service" thing happened to the shirtless Arnie at Carnaval 2001.) There's still no official word yet on where the world's most famous Brazilian, Gisele Bünchen, will spend Carnaval, but she usually forgoes Rio (whose festivities are often seen as too commercial by Brazilians) and heads north to the more "authentic" party in Salvador (and by "authentic" I guess they mean anarchic, rife with crime, and full of price gouging, because that's what Salvador has to offer for Carnaval). If Gisele drags along beau Leo DiCaprio, I'll laugh when he gets mugged in an alley.

P.S. I'm holding off on my usual Thursday Listmania!/"5 things I'm enjoying this week" post in hopes that my trip to New York this weekend will yield enjoyable things. Here's a sneak peak: The Cho/Daniels Report; Dear Mary; Duran Duran's Rio.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

One Word....Plastics

Unless you do something other than read weblogs all day (as if!), you've probably already heard about how Barbie and Ken are breaking up. [via LYD] Yeah yeah yeah, so it's all a big publicity stunt: how different is that from most flesh-and-blood relationships? Anyway, Ken's mum on his future plans, Barbie's goin back to Cali to Cali to go all surfer chick (how 2002 of her!), and there's even a new man in the picture, boogie-boarding Australian stud Blaine. What's unclear is whether Blaine's intended for Babs or Ken. My theory is that the recent marriage-related activities on both coasts (Boston and San Francisco) have prompted Ken to reexamine decisions he's made in the past and go semi-public with, um, how-you-say, "what we've known all along." Hey, maybe in a few months or so Ken might even work up the courage to stop referring to Blaine as his "roommate" in front of his parents.

And Blaine? Gurrrrl, you don't fool me. I'm sorry honey, but everything about you—the name, the ab definition, the sketchy past, the even sketchier haircut—just scream gay porn star. I mean, who lists their occupation as "boogie boarder" and doesn't expect to raise a few eyebrows you-know? I know the gays aren't known for subtlety, but couldn't you have tried something a little less obvious, like "sausage handler" or "private lumbar support"? Why not just get HOT WILLING BOTTOM tattooed across your ass?

In other gay Barbie news, one of the kookiest movies out there, the banned Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, is available for slow free download on the great censorship site Illegal Art (which has lots of great banned/controversial clips and images to peruse). The senior thesis project of Brown alumnus/flaming homo Todd Haynes (director of Velvet Goldmine and Far From Heaven), Superstar tells the story of Karen Carpenter's losing battle with anorexia, using Barbie dolls instead of actors. It's horror, high camp, and movie of the week all in one—a must-see—and was immediately sued/banned by—not Mattel, since the dolls were a generic brand—but A&M Records and Richard Carpenter, Karen's brother and back-up singer. Richard objected to the unauthorized use of Carpenters songs in the film. (Most critics gossips agree he actually just objected to his portrayal in the film as, um, how-you-say, someone with similar psychosexual hangups as Ken. Karen: "Tell mom and dad about this and I'll tell them your dirty little secret." Richard: "You wouldn't dare!") The Illegal Art site also has a bit about Tom Forsythe, a Utah-based artist sued (unsuccessfully) by Mattel for his photos of Barbies and blenders in compromising positions; there are lots of great examples of his work here.

If the Illegal Art site is really slow to load up, it's because everyone's flocking there to download the recently banned Grey Album, in which DJ Danger Mouse mixes vocal tracks from Jay-Z's Black Album with backing tracks from The Beatles' White Album—get it, Grey Album? (The impatient can click here, unless they're worried about getting served.) The album is weird, futuristic, sort of hypnotic, and actually quite catchy—and light-years better than the way overhyped Dizzee Rascal album—and there's even a song that uses a clip of Jay-Z's mother talking about him. [Read more on the bevy of Black Album remixes at MTV News.]

Final gay Barbie/slow download note: artist Juan Albuerne has started a (sometimes slow-to-load) website showcasing his creepy/fascinating celebrity fashion doll makeovers, in which he transforms Barbie dolls into famous celebrities. This isn't just some dumb costume change site: the dude physically carves/sculpts the dolls' faces and bodies to look like famous women, then applies wigs, make-up, and hand-sewn couture to finish it off. I mean, there's plastic surgery, and then there's plastic surgery. (Har!) Some of my favorites are Cher (uncanny!) and the stars of Chicago—isn't it frightening how little work it took to make a Barbie doll look like Renée Zellweger?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Blame Canada!

Is it possible for Dave Eggers to suck any harder? Q.v.:

Have you heard the news of how a glitch on Amazon.ca (Amazon for Canucks) accidentally revealed the identities of anonymous reviewers on the site? Whoops! This wouldn't be real news except for the fact that some of the folks posting as "a reader from Poughkeepsie" were actually leading literary lights (that includes Mr. Eggers) going incognito to either trump up the ratings of their own books or bash books by people who dissed them....Yes, it's as sad and petty as it sounds: Tom Wolfe and John Updike made literary bloodsport of The New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen took on no less of a Hegemon than Oprah (in no smaller an arena than The New York Times), and Nabokov's bitter feud with Edmund Wilson was turned into a winning play by Terry Quinn. Meanwhile, the Great Write Hopes of my generation are duking it out anonymously for the fame and fortune that comes from an extra half-star on a website whose biggest success is the South Beach Diet. Classy!

OK, maybe Amazon.ca does have some influence—at least in alt.rock circles. One of the most hyped (and most deservedly so) bands of 2003 was Canuck collective Broken Social Scene, the folks behind the dream-pop-rock-banjo-Vocoder confection You Forgot It In People [hear clips on their site]. Despite being released in 2002, the album suddenly caught on with critics here in the US in 2003, inspiring much best-of-the-year talk and copious wetting of frilly critic panties. At that time, however, HMV.ca (owned by Amazon.ca) was the only place Americans people in the US could get the disc. And get it they did: all the positive Stateside buzz about the album rocketed it to the overall #1 spot on Amazon's bestseller list. It was complete indie anarchy: a marginalized alt.rock album put out by a now-defunct label and featuring jarring lo-fi production, out-of-tune singing, and some choice lyrics about drinking piss had bested everything on the Billboard Hot 100, beating out even Canada's own Great White Hope, Céline Dion.

[The band talks about their sudden success and humorous Amazon.ca experience in this great Pitchfork Media interview. Like the Pitchfork interviewer, I downloaded their album first, and ended up so enamored of it that I went out and bought it for myself—and it was worth every cent of my $8.99. As far as I know, they're the first band to actively acknowledge that illegal downloading has helped their career (check the interview). If you want to join me in further supporting our neighbo(u)rs to the north, make like George W. Bush and ransack The Middle East on March 27th to see them live with me.]

So maybe Canada's not so bad after all. But as Madonna can tell you, anyone looking for bona fide hipster cache turns not to Canada but to the UK—and Amazon's Jeff Bezos is no different. As mentioned in a brief October Entertainment Weekly blurb [subscription only; try reviewsew], Amazon.co.uk is a great place to get books and music ahead of their US release. I can't tell you how many homos I know who rush to the UK site to order every stupid import-only Kylie Minogue DJ SevereKweer 2004 Remix maxi-single, and of course there are those fanatics who head there annually for the British editions of Harry Potter, complete with coarse limey slang and those hideous, hideous covers. (Seriously, if you've ever doubted that America is the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, just compare Mary GrandPre's graceful US edition illustrations with the hack sci-fi pulp covers the Brits have to endure—and why do they need separate covers for adults and children?) Personally I couldn't care less about Kylie or Harry, but I wouldn't mind a copy of the latest No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book, which doesn't hit the Colonies until April, a full year after its original UK release.

Back On The Chain Gang

I know, I know, everyone's bummed to be back to the daily grind after the long weekend, and the recent Valentine's Day probably left some of you feeling so sad and lonely, and the rest of you totally exhausted. But hey, I can't help it if you're tired after this weekend's love marathon—I mean, it's not my fault that a $100 meal was all it took to get you to agree to anal....

Uh, yeah. So you've probably come here in hopes that my scintillating Rabelaisian wit will brighten up your boring loveless workaday life. Well I got news for ya: this blog sux now, dude! But fear not! Your computer will always love you, even when you're not playing the Paris Hilton sex tape. The following sites will turn that frown upside down by transforming your computer into a thinking, feeling being that will talk with you and interact with you and make you feel important and maybe even make you think it gives a shit about your crappy life (hey, that's more than can be said for your last current boyfriend).

Anyhoo, hours of time to waste: this 20 Questions site [click "Anonymous Login"] plays—and always wins—a classic game of "Twenty Questions" with you. Dude, it was like my computer could read my frickin mind: I tested it by thinking of every random obscure thing I could dream up—specifically a basketball, a colander, an erect cock, and a sprig of rosemary—and each time it guessed it in under 20 questions. (OK, actually, for the rosemary it guessed thyme after 20 questions and then needed 3 more questions to get it right, and with the wiener it said, and I quote: "I can't print those sorts of things....Does your mother know you're thinking of something like that?" Oh website, if you knew my mother....You don't know the half of it!)

Even more frighteningly sentient is Sitcom/Dictator, which asks you to think of either a sitcom character or a world dictator (it doesn't ask which category you're thinking of) and then badgers you with yes/no questions to guess who it is. I've yet to stump it, even with the entire cast of Alf and Eerie, Indiana. The fact that somewhere in the world computer code exists that involves both Pol Pot and Designing Women is truly one of the great miracles of our age.

Monday, February 16, 2004

This Week [2/16 - 2/22]

My (unemployed schlub) days are numbered, so I've got to cram in as much random traveling, frivolous overspending, and excessive boozing as I can in the next 14 days.....

Monday (2/16): Snow Patrol, 10pm [TT's]
Tuesday (2/17): Queer Eye returns, 10pm [Bravo]
Wednesday (2/18): The O.C. Drinking Game!, 9pm [FOX]
Thursday (2/19): Vintage Krispy Kreme shirt arrives, 3pm [eBay]
Friday (2/20): Fung Wah to NYC, 9am [FWB]
Saturday (2/21): Sifting through the dregs of the Barney's Warehouse Sale, 3pm [Daily Candy]
Sunday (2/22): Au Hasard, Balthazar—Requisite Sunday Brunch, 11am-4pm+ [Balthazar]

Quote of the week: "Diet = Die with a T"

Sunday, February 15, 2004

The Other White Meat

I bet that title made you think this was gonna be about Asian people!

The grocery store down the street from my apartment always has interesting specials, and this President's Day they have one of their best specials yet: a buy one, get one free deal on half-hams, meaning in effect that if you buy half a pig they'll throw in the other half for free. OK, any butcher will tell you that's not exactly true, but this still strikes me as unbearably funny, in a Judgement of Solomon kind of way. In a time when some in Massachusetts are having trouble understanding all the nuances of marriage law, it's comforting to see a local supermarket offer such a literal interpretation of the common religious wedding incantation "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."

If nothing else, this just shows that the Foodmaster has a penchant for pig humor: a few months ago, they put up a sign advertising "BI PORK CHOPS," revealing either a severe lack of marquee letters or a desire to attract a more Angelina Jolie-loving clientele. Yes, I just used "pork" and "Angelina Jolie" in the same sentence (twice now!); my ranking in Google searches is about to skyrocket! XXX Click here 4 more HOT HOT pr0n

Look folks, my brain's been pickling in alcohol all weekend. I got nuthin.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

V.D.

Yay! Today is February 14th, a.k.a. V.D.—a whole day devoted to celebrating venereal disease! But what confuses me is that February 14th is the Feast of St. Valentine, yet the patron saint of venereal disease is actually Fiacre, whose feast day is August 30th. I guess the Catholic Church has a lot more to worry about these days.

Anyway, I'ma head down to Chinatown tonight and get me some Syphilis to celebrate! Who's with me? In case you can't make it, you can actually get diseases sent to you in the mail, thanks to the adorable Giant Microbes (via Chitra), which sells moony-eyed plush-doll versions of the microbes that cause various maladies, including an unbearably cute Halitosis and a Tummy Ache that reminds me of John Lennon with its shaggy hair. And if huggable Ebola just isn't enough for you, head to Parasite Pals, which chronicles the adventures of animated cutie Holly and her friends Dig Dig the Head Louse, Tickles the Tapeworm ("Pet Peaves: Fingernails, tattletales"), and others. Though the tie-in products aren't as fuzzy-huggy as the Microbes, they are quite handy: how have I lived so long without a tapeworm-shaped tape measure? And don't forget to join the Happy Parasite Friendship Club!!! [Buy Parasite Pals stuff online at Archie McPhee]

For last-minute V.D. procrastinators: design your own candy hearts to go with those one-of-a-kind indie rock valentines: "I think I loved you more last year."

Friday, February 13, 2004

Cold Shoulder

Sorry, I know, the Oscars are like so three weeks ago; but Miramax blowhard/M&M addict Harvey Weinstein—the rich but gropy uncle of the Hollywood family—just can't seem to let it go. Harv's frothing at the mouth over Cold Mountain being "snubbed" by Oscar...because being the year's 3rd-most nominated film is definitely a snub. In related news, Harvey Weinstein's wife said in an interview that he has the same complaint every night: "your nightly blowjobs are no good—I come, but you don't lick my balls sloppily enough when I do." Puh-fawking-leez, Harvey—what more do you want from the Oscars?

Anyway, because of all this "snub" talk, now every week there's a new conspiracy theory about why the film wasn't more heavily nominated, with the obvious—COLD MOUNTAIN BLEW THE GIANT MOTHERCOCK!—going unstated. (Granted, the Oscars are known for rewarding mediocrity and ignoring quality—remember, talking pig flick Babe is a Best Picture nominee and Oliver! The Musical a Best Pic winner.) The first bout of Cold Mountain hateration was chalked up to the oft-cited Miramax/Harvey backlash theory: Oscar voters are petty and blackballed the film just because Harvey Weinstein—who they hate—is involved with it. The implication here, of course, is that—The Horror!—the Oscars are in some way politicized or a place to settle personal vendettas. As if! Shyah, next you'll be telling me that Tom Cruise is shorter in real life than he looks on screen! Or worse, that he's straight!

The first "legitimate" conspiracy theory against this shitcan cracker-baiting film came from Harv himself, who said Cold Mountain was released too late to be seen by voters. But isn't that Harvey's fault, since he's the producer? Of course not! You see, he tried his best, but the voters were just too damn lazy and the Academy just too damn malicious in scheduling an early ceremony this year....Uh, is Karl Rove on Miramax's advisory board? Because all this "It's not my fault, everyone else is to Plame blame" spin smacks of a White House press release.

My favorite conspiracy theory came soon after that late-release brouhaha: Cold Mountain was ignored because Nicole Kidman is too beautiful [scroll down]. Umm, what? Umm, asphinctersayswhat? If that's true, now I'm confused as to why Pirates of the Caribbean was nominated for an Oscar when Geoffrey Rush was obviously "too alive" to play a dead pirate. Or why Lord of the Rings was nominated when Ian McKellen is "too mortal" to play a practitioner of white magic. OK first of all, Nicole's character—a displaced, overly refined aristocrat—is supposed to be beautiful, the more to contrast with her dirty, low-country surroundings. And second of all, why you gotta hate on Nicole now, Us Weekly? If that striking Australian porcelain sylphide hadn't been around for news media types to stalk report on all year, they would have been forced to cover such nasty nasty doings as the War in Iraq and unemployment—talk about unattractive! Side note: Nicole Kidman was born in America (Hawaii), meaning those who punish her for her beauty MUST HATE AMERICA—WHY DO YOU HATE THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH AND ITS BEAUTIFUL FOR SPACIOUS SKIES?!?!?!?! [9/11 MOM TERROR JESUS FLAG-WAVE FLAG-WAVE 9/11 BABIES APPLE PIE 9/11]

Speaking of flag-waving, there's yet another, more desperate theory about the Oscars and Miramax: Cold Mountain wasn't nominated solely because America is an insular, jingoistic police state. You see, the movie's about the American Civil War, but was directed by a non-American, filmed in Romania, and starred several non-Americans; and JESUS HATES WHEN AMERICA ISN'T #1, so He commanded the Oscar voters to ignore the film.

Regardless of which dirty back-room dealing you believe, Miramax is in dire straits. They've spent years perfecting the art of producing an "Oscar-nominated film©"—that's 12 years of uninterrupted Best Picture noms since 1992's The Crying Game. Yet somehow Cold Mountain, the supposed pinnacle of their efforts—the perfectly Oscar-attuned specimen, drama + comedy + epic + romance + period detail + bad accents + stunt casting, etc.—totally failed to get Oscars. Harv no longer knows what makes Oscar tic, so he's lashing out with all these hare-brained theories because he's pissed that he now has to work harder than Madonna to stave off impending obsolescence. I'm no Hermetic Rabbi, but I think I see some Kabbalah in Harvey's future! (Well, Miramax did scoop up Darren Aronofsky right after he made the notoriously Kabbalah-loving film Pi.)

I have one final conspiracy (this is getting novel-length, I know, bear with me): Harvey's gonna strike back at the Oscars right where it hurts the most—ratings. Now, the only reason people watch the Oscars is for the dresses; if, say, America's top fashion plate were to fall from fashion grace or otherwise slip-up fashion-wise, would anyone even bother watching the Oscars at all, now that there was no promise of breathtaking couture? No way, right?! On a, ahem, "totally unrelated note": sources say Nicole Kidman met with Weinstein (her close friend) just hours before deciding on her horrid, image-destroying Golden Globes Tonya Harding frock. Coincidence? I think not. As the horrid Matt Drudge screams, DEVELOPING.............

The Oscars air February 29th (my Employment Eve)—the day on which ABC gets all of its ratings for the entire year, since no one watches its other shows. Tide yourself over until then with this Oscar trivia game; as they say in the Oscar-worthy Groundhog Day, it's a doozy!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Listmania!

Wha, 2 posts in 1 day? W00t! Well, sometimes I like to kick it old skool (i.e. 2 weeks ago when I first started blogging and posted 2-3 times daily). Too bad this is the recurring post I know everybody hates.....5 things I'm enjoying this week:

1. Cidade de Deus (City of God) [Watch the Trailer] [Buy It]
Finally saw this with subtitles. Holy shit. I first saw it in Rio before my Portuguese was up to snuff, in a theater not so far from the actual favela that gives the film its name—I have a tendency to see controversial films in the towns where they take place, I guess. Now I'm glad I had that plot-free chance to just soak in how beautiful and horrifying the movie is, and how virtuostic—really the only way to describe it—Fernando Meirelles's directing is. And the editing, god, fucking rotary-sanded. Also, I know this sounds really snotty (as opposed to my normal attitude), but if you don't understand Portuguese you miss all these great jokes/puns that frequently lighten the dire mood of the film (most have to do with that damn chicken).

2. Diesel Sweeties [www.dieselsweeties.com]
The world's only greatest "pixellated robot romance web comic" (new strip every weekday) is not only hilarious and spot-on in its deconstruction of mid-20s indie malaise but a wonder to behold: all the characters—the horny robot, the oft-abused alt-poseur, the grandfatherly Mac, even the porn star with bowel problems—are rendered in a quite fetching ASCII/old-skool Nintendo/ATARI style. The true marker of the comic's digital age greatness, however, is that the dialogue is in "A-list" Blogger Jason Kottke's famed online font Silkscreen. Pure genius! With its convoluted soap opera relationships, DS is worth reading from the first comic, though I'm partial to recent strips about the faux vanity and self-involvedness of blogs. "Jesus helps me trick people!" (also available as a t-shirt). More on DS straight from the horse's mouth.

3. Ice Cream Floats [Recipes]
My longing for cooler than cool (ice cold!) soda fountain treats is a direct result of both a recent spate of "warmer" weather in Boston and a mid-20s indie malaise that's left me aching to return to the Norman Rockwell/Mayberry innocence of my childhood. (Ah, the 1940-50s: when Strange Fruit hanged from the trees, women knew their place or else you slapped the uppity bitches, gays were beaten up and left to die in cornfields....Those were the days.) Uh, when I was a kid, every Friday after (elementary) school I would get an orange sherbet float from the local ice cream parlor—that is, until one day my bitch mother's bitch alcoholic social climbing Harpy friend said (and I quote): "I know you're glad sherbet is fat-free, but do you know how much sugar is in it?" I wanted to reply "I know you pretend not to care that your husband is cheating on you with a man, but do you know there's surgery available for noses like yours?" Instead I just ate plain sherbet in secret at home. These days I favor Coke + vanilla ice cream (+ rum, because unemployment is like that), but occasionally I'll crave a sounds-gross-but-tastes-great "Brown Cow" (ginger ale + chocolate ice cream).

4. Shins, Chutes Too Narrow [Review]
I've been listening to this non-stop to prepare for the show tomorrow—how appropriate that I'll be seeing them during The Week of Worshipping The Beatles, whose sound The Shins get accused of/applauded for copying a lot. I know it's a cop-out to list this, as I enjoyed this long before this week, but you can't argue with greatness, nor can you help but rejoice when the Curse of the Sophomore Slump gets an ass-whuppin, especially at the hands of fey mid-20s indie malaise-riddled guitar pop. Everything that could be said about this album already has been said (not that that's stopped me before), so I'll just chut up now.

5. Zadie Smith, The Autograph Man [Review]
I'm not quite sure what the deal is with this book, but I like it—and hey, any fictional work in which an unnamed online auction site plays a major part can't possibly be anything but awesome. It's much smaller in length and scope than her debut, the sprawling White Teeth, but also much more readable. It's no epic family saga, but a slacker fable of the kind popular with the kids these days, about a wayward 27-year-old loser who's been too busy authenticating autographs to realize he has no love life, no father, and no future (<ouch> here the mid-20s indie malaise theme hits home a bit too hard). The whole shebang is structured around the Kabbalah for some reason (can an endorsement from Madonna really matter that much?), but the writing is so engrossing and so clever-without-being-pretentious (<cough>DaveEggers<cough>) that you don't even care. And remember, all you non-Anglophiles: "Zadie" rhymes with caddy, not lady.

Survey Says

It's that time of year again: leave snarky and unprintable comments at the online Zagat survey (that's zuh-GAT; here's pronounciation help) and get your free copy of the guide everybody loves to hate (thanks Kathy). And dunna you worry: Your expletive-laced diatribes against The Wrap may not make it to print, but there's still a place for them in Tim and Nina Zagat's heart (or there would be if they had hearts—check this dinner with Tim and Nina to see their horrifying true colors shining through). Actually for Boston, it's not food but nightlife that's up for review this year at Zagat. Lemme help out all you reviewer hopeful types out there by providing 3 writeups that can be used to describe 99.99% of all Boston's nightlife offerings:

1. McFisty's, Commonwealth Ave., Kenmore Square
It's white people and "more white people" at this "temple to Sam Adams" filled with "neckless overaged fratboys" and "plenty of white people." A "night out" here means "dude, wear your nice Red Sox hat." Men should "check IDs first" as "I work in marketing" really means "I'm the first sophomore Rush Chair of my sorority at BU." Shoes with traction "required"—the floor gets stickier than "some of these girls' thighs" before the night is "through." Did we "mention the white people"?

2. DJ Krakpype presents "Vulva," Wed. nights @ celibacy, Theatre District
Like a trip to H&M, "but with worse music." Eurotrash is "putting it nicely"—more like "are these men deliberately trying to look homosexual"? Vaguely pan-ethnic female clientele are "needy but easy" (and yes, they "still think" cowboy hats are cool), but they're only here to score their next meathead boyfriend ("again with the no necks!")—only those with multiple "assault and battery" charges need apply. "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta" living off daddy's Gold Card. "Weren't you in my intro econ class?" "No, but I fucked your roommate for coke last year." "I'm not friends with her, our parents just summer together."

3. No Job Market Pub, Somerville Ave.
Poor students test "flirting" techniques that "didn't work in middle school" on one another and on lonely professors—"ask about tenure" before giving it up, as associate profs trend toward "smaller dicks." The stench is "unbearable"—can't these fourth-years "put aside the Wittgenstein" long enough to "bathe"?
For actual scoop on dining in Boston (under $10, no less), check out the fluorescent (and Zagat-shaped!) Hungry? Boston, to which (shameless!) I contributed. [Buy it here]

In other Boston food news: the dude behind the South End's fab trendy pan-Asian Pho Republique has plans to open a Shanghainese-focused restaurant in the Porter Exchange/1815 Mass. Ave. spot where Metro and Cottonwood Café used to be. Shanghainese is great: aside from bringing the world whacky 1000-year-old eggs, it plays a starring role in my favorite movie ever, In the Mood for Love. The eatery will be a welcome arrival, as Shanghai's cuisine is a rare treat in Boston—though now that Kung Pao Chicken ingredient Sichuan peppercorns have been outlawed [login req'd], maybe rarer, less watered-down Asian cuisines will become more common.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Ivy League Circle Jerks

Meme-of-the-moment in the blog universe: Harvard students get approval to produce porn mag. Oh dear. As far as I know, this new porn mag—which will be called H Bomb <vomit>—has no relation to the first-ever Ivy League porno, which was to be called The StaXXX <double vomit> and was prematurely shot at Yale in 1999 before serving as the basis for the Comedy Central-produced TV movie Porn 'n' Chicken. Now I can think of a (ahem) handful of Harvard students I would like to see naked (as well as a few I already have seen sans culottes), but most of them are long gone. Perhaps there will be an alumni edition—and I don't mean the hot nude Harvard grad in this film, which I've already drooled on about at length. Someone put Matt Yglesias on this!

In other news of Ivy Leaguers getting too close for comfort, blogs have also been abuzz about a certain puff piece in the gramatically-challenged New York Sun that profiles ex-Harvard striver Jennifer 8. Lee. Calling her the "Katharine Graham of the Friendster set," the Sun waxes rhapsodic about Jenny 8's "legendary" parties where young D.C. movers-and-shakers (though sadly no Toby) come to network over handmade dumplings. The useless Wonkette (insecure stepsister to Gawker) says this is a non-story and only interesting for its nepotism angle. You see, the writer of the Jenny 8 fluff piece was one of Jenny 8's Harvard acquaintances, proving that the NY Sun really is just "one big Harvard circle-jerk," as they put it at Like Father, Like Sun, an ombudsmanesque site that monitors the Sun for suckiness. (LF,LS also links to an anonymous tipster who says he knows the Harvardians personally. WARNING: link is to the vile putrid hate-spewing atrocious right-wing National Review.)

Personally, I don't agree with Wonkette's dismissal of the puff piece as not-news: it's a huge scoop that both Harvard students and D.C. wonks (2 of the country's most socially dysfunctional groups) have been documented attempting to have fun, albeit in a BYOB setting. But I do agree with Her Wonkness's belief that this pseudo-nepotism at the Sun, while unfortunate, is hardly surprising or a conspiracy; many media entities in the US are Ivy Leaguer-filled. As far as my personal experience with the people in question (like the nameless NRO tipster, I went to school with them, and also worked with some of them), I agree with the tipster: "I can attest that they are wonderful people." Well, actually, I can attest that Jenny 8 and unmentioned Sun reporter Rachel Kovner, the supposed saving grace of the Sun, are indeed "wonderful people," but the chick who wrote the Jenny 8 puff piece was (in all my interactions with her) boring, shrill, and bitchy, much like this weblog. But you don't have to take my word for it. >ba-dum-PUM<

Final Ivy circle-jerk/conspiracy note: with John Kerry the supposed Democratic front-runner for the 2004 election, there's been lots of idle chatter about the fact that he and Bush (Jr., Sr., and earlier) were both members of Skull & Bones, the most infamous of Yale's infamous "secret societies" "senior societies." (As far as I know, Skull & Bones has no relation to a certain 2000 movie thriller.) While it's exciting to picture Kerry and Bush standing hand-in-hand while sacrificing goats or filming gay bondage orgies or whatever it is they do in the secret senior societies, I think Wonkette and I can agree that this is the real non-story; this enlightening post at Columbia-Union expertly sums up why such Ivy League conspiracy "theories" are inane at best.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Paris is Burning

I mentioned in passing a few days ago that the creator of The Real World and a producer of The Simple Life, Mary-Ellis Bunim, had died recently. And just today I read that Bonnie Bogard, a "consulting producer" on The Simple Life (and the mastermind behind both Full House and Love Cruise), also died recently, just 2 days before her boss. Two Simple Life deaths? This just proves what I've suspected all along: Everything Paris Hilton touches dies. I mean, have you seen any Von Dutch hats around lately? Exactly. Most times her trucker hat was the only thing Ms. Hilton wouldn't take off—and now suddenly >POOF< they're gone, a Hilton casualty. Other things we can expect to bite the big one soon [insert Rick Salomon joke here], since Paris has touched them recently: the Miss USA Pageant, which Paris may host; all coke dealers in the Greater L.A./Inland Empire area; the dicks of all the bouncers at Bungalow 8; the entire male aged 16-24 population of Altus, Arkansas; and Donatella Versace. [I SAID GET OOOOUUUTTTT!]

Should Paris herself happen to croak (meaning she'd have to touch herself, I guess), fear not: she'll live on forever in the new book she's writing. Called Tongue-in-Chic, the glossy lifestyle tome will be chock full of tips on how to style yourself as a brazen slattern just like Paris. Gawker scooped the story, and their friends at the ever-handy The Smoking Gun are hosting the full 13-page book proposal. Look for the completed work at an Urban Outfitters near you early this summer, meaning it should hit the discount remainder section of Borders around July. The proposal itself is comic gold, and worth reading in full—who knew Paris was best friends with squeaky-clean Lindsay Lohan?—but if you're short on time, these choice quotes will do. Straight from the whorse's mouth, here's Paris on....

Haute cuisine: "I hate the food on planes, so I bring McDonald's."

Dieting: "Never drink Diet Coke. Diet Coke is for fat people. Only drink real Coca-Cola. Or Red Bull. Hate champagne, because that's what everyone expects you to love." No Cristal? Paris, how deliciously subversive!

Drugs: "I love...To be...REALLY high." Oh sorry, that wasn't about drugs, but about wearing stillettos.

Children: "In the next couple of years, I want to have a boy named London and a daughter named China—I like kids' names with countries and cities. I just get a kick out of naming a kid after a country or city—like I was." That way, when my kids end up in porn as they inevitably will, they don't even have to change their names! Also, I'm not positive whether my name is a country or city, so I better cover all the bases.

Her upcoming album: "It sounds like Blondie—it's cool, I'm writing my own music." Get ready to rock out with your cock out, sports fans! [More info on this magnum opus here, 4th item down]

Being the sluttier sister: "[My sister] Nicky's more strict and uptight than I am—she's more selective with her friends, and shyer than I am. I'm nice to everybody—so it attracts more people."

Being a slut in general: "Don't be too easy."

Being a slut on camera: "I don't know what I do! I just do it. I think cause I started doing it at such a young age....At the beginning of being photographed, I just made kinda dumb faces—and looking over the pictures, I decided to try a few new things....It helps if there are cameras flashing."

How to unwind after a night of being a slut: "I only take baths, I love baths. Sometimes I take a shower before a bath if I feel really dirty."

Low-rise pants, trucker hats, and being a slavish trend whore/unmitigated fashion disaster: "I've never been one to copy trends, I just do what I like. Only cheeseballs wanna be trendy every single minute of the day." What's that you say? Yeah, "I like to do balls every single minute of the day" is all I heard as well.

On how celebrity has made her more guarded about her personal life: "I shouldn't talk about hair extensions—they should be a mystery."

Monday, February 09, 2004

This Week [2/9 - 2/15]

It's the start of TV Sweeps, so expect lots of stay-at-home action from me—and I do mean action:

Monday 2/9: Ephram loses his virginity on Everwood, 9pm [WB]
Tuesday 2/10: Earrings of Madame de ..., 7pm [HFA]
Wednesday 2/11: Seth loses his virginity on The O.C., 9pm [FOX]
Thursday 2/12: Drag Parade with Sandra Bullock, Harvard Sq., 2pm [HP]
Friday 2/13: The Shins, 7pm [Roxy]
Saturday 2/14: Alabama Slammers + Pat Benatar = Karaoke Night, 10pm [TS]
Sunday 2/15: <recover from previous night's vigorous snogging>

Quote of the week: "I'm bigger than the Titanic—only 200 women went down on the Titanic."

Sunday, February 08, 2004

"The Body" Politic

The media has really been yukking it up about the news that Jesse "The Body" Ventura will be teaching at Harvard this month. OK, I'm far from a Harvard apologist, but c'mon folks, he's just going to be a wussy IOP fellow leading a study group—he's not taking over Helen Vendler's University Professorship or something. And though "The Body" and I hardly agree on any issues (other than the joy we both derive from seeing muscled men grappling with each other), have you read this dude's biography? He's a fawking Navy SEAL! Hardly someone to be joked about. And what an entrepreneur: his campaign was funded by bobblehead sales, rather than with dirty Enron money stolen from the pockets of hard-working Americans. Hell, he's held public office almost as long as he's been a wrestler (9 years v. 11 years). And yet somehow a Vietnam vet with more political and military experience than our current preznit gets relegated to the funny pages, while a similarly roid-ragin' meathead with no experience, no platform except movie clichés, a bad case of wandering hands, and a weird fag-bashing streak gets serious news coverage (plus Oprah!) and eventually free reign over the world's 5th largest economy....Sure. No wonder Jesse Ventura's study group is all about how awful the news media can be.

Speaking of inappropriate visitors to Harvard: Robert Downey, Jr. will be given this year's Pudding "Man of the Year" Award. (More on the Hasty Pudding for those fortunate enough to be ignorant of it: embezzlement RAWKS!) Oh Lawd! There's just so many ways to go about mocking this story—I'm not sure I'm up to the task, really. OK, Alex, I'll take "headlines initially considered by the Crimson for this story": Drug Addicts Honor One of Their Own...Nah, too easy. How about Money Launderers Hold Award Ceremony for Crackhead; First Such Gathering Since Golden Globes....Ooh ooh ooh: Downey Hears News of Pudding Award From Dealer He Shares With Pudding Prez; Half of Claverly Hall Found Out The Same Way....Eh, too wordy. Oh I know: Pudding Producers Honor Addict For Doing What They Could Never Do: Stay Sober For A Year....Phew! Shooting fish in a barrel is hard work. Feel free to leave your own headlines in the comments. Blogging is fun!

P.S. The Pudding always honors the "Woman of the Year" with an award show/drag parade through the streets of Harvard Square. Robert Druggie, Jr.'s distaff counterpart this year is Sandra Bullock, who thankfully found time in her busy Miss Congeniality 2 production schedule to join a list of honorees including Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, and Meryl Streep. Sandy's drag parade will be on February 12th—here's hoping Jesse Ventura (he is a Resident IOP Fellow, after all) will make an appearance as well. It would be even more awesome than that time "Macho Man" Randy Savage visited Harvard Square!

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Texas Justice

Charles McKinley—the dude from New York who last September shipped himself in a box to Dallas to save money on airfare—has finally been brought to justice: he was fined $1500 and put under house arrest. [via Gothamist] Even dim Yahoo! gets the joke: the hefty fine is 3-4 times more than the cost of a New York-Dallas r/t plane ticket would have been. If only Alanis had thought of this!

To me, the weirdest part of this whole seemingly-made-expressly-for-the-purpose-of-being-discussed-on-blogs news story is that the local media dubbed the guy "Charlie in a Box." I know it's Texas, but don't they realize that sounds like the punchline of some horrible racist joke? Charlie in a Box? Why not call him "Chinese Take-Out" or "Return to Sender: Go Home Gook" or something? And the dude's not even Asian! [UPDATE: Google reveals that "Charlie-in-the-Box" is actually a character from the CGI hack-job of a film Rudolph & The Island of Misfit Toys; doesn't make it any less racist, though.]

When I first heard the news about "Sticky Rice in a Bowl" or whatever his name is, the first thing that popped into my head was that creepy/captivating Velvet Underground song 'The Gift' (lyrics here), where Waldo Jeffers mails himself to his pill-popping girlfriend Marsha and her friend unknowingly plunges a pair of scissors through his head while trying to open the box. "Rhythmic arcs of red pulsated gently in the morning sun...." Oops! (Side note: the exact same accident—scissors through box—caused the gaping chest wound you all are always asking about on my beloved puffy jacket. But, uh, I wasn't wearing the jacket when it happened, duh.)

Speaking of the Velvets, the Film Archive is showing some VU-related films this month as part of its Andy Warhol film series. Sadly, I'll be missing the flick I was most curious about—A Symphony of Sound, in which the boys in blue pay a visit to Warhol's Factory to investigate a noise complaint made about the Velvets—but which is more exciting, really, seeing the Velvet Underground on poorly restored film or seeing The Shins live? Exactly.

Related: My favorite online widget: make your own online Warhol silkscreens—à la The Marilyns—at the Warhol Museum website.

My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable

Yes, it's true, after weeks of agonizing downloading porn whining about not having a job while not really looking for one, gainful employment has found me. My new job starts in a week or so and runs first for a 3-month "evaluation period," after which they'll decide whether I'm worth it or not—so I may have to start all over again in May, while choking back tears. Pay's good, full benefits, hopefully interesting tech-babble work, etc.; so far the only drawback is the multi-bus 60-90min. commute each way to Waltham, thankfully against rush-hour traffic. Remember, "Waltham" rhymes with SPAM ("Wall-thaaam"), not with DUMB ("Wall-thumb").

In the interest of following Blogspot/Blogger's guidelines on How Not to Get Fired Because of Your Blog, my job will be off-limits for discussion in these pages, not that this is a particularly personal/diaryesque site. Also, while the upsides of joining the washed masses of the gainfully employed—including health insurance, a positive bank balance, and the prospect of meeting new people—far outweigh the downsides, there are some negatives: having to get up before 10am, shaving, reluctantly wearing my "good" underwear, etc....And forget about those 11am "breakfasts" of chocolate cake, provolone, and Amstel Light. My point: with something worthwhile to do 9am-5pm, I won't be posting as prolifically as I once did, which should actually help the blog/your eyes, as it means shorter, more concise/single-topic stuff like you see on less shitty unorthodox blogs. Seriously, the archives of this site so far are kinda frightening, like the rantings of a doped-up madman headed for the electric chair and just desperate to get laid one last time or something. Why didn't somebody stop me?

And yes, since you asked, My New Filing Technique Is Unstoppable.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Strawberry Fields Forever

New York City is all a-frothing in twitterpation this weekend in honor of the anniversary of the Beatles's first panty-wetting arrival in America, which happened exactly 40 years ago today at JFK Airport. (Gothamist has all the Beatles-related partying details; here's a photo of The Day the Moptops Landed.) In my opinion, it seems dumb to commemorate a plane landing: I guess the arrival of Pan Am Flight 101 symbolically signaled the arrival of Beatlemania in the US, but I associate the Beatles' first big break on these shores more with their legendary Ed Sullivan Show performance, which also turns 40 soon—this coming Monday, actually (2/9/64). Indeed, the Ed Sullivan spot is the subject of a great in-depth Rolling Stone cover story this week (the best parts are only in the print version, sadly). Who knew the Broadway cast of Oliver! The Musical also performed that night?

How many high schoolers do you think see photos of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and think: "Hey, they totally ripped that shit off from that one OutKast video? Or was it The Strokes?" [Watch 'Hey Ya!' and 'Last Nite']

This year would also have marked John Lennon's 64th birthday. Yes, this means that when Beatlemania started, Lennon was the same age I am now [cripplingly depressing sob]; but it also means it's time to revisit one of my favorite Beatles songs, 'When I'm 64.' (OK I know the song's sung by and mostly written by Paul, but I can't wait until 2006!) Scanning the lyrics, John's predictions about his old age aren't looking particularly accurate. First of all, of course, his ass is dead. At 64 he ain't nothing to take care of but a 24-year-old corpse. A less morbid read doesn't look much better: as far as I know, there's no "cottage on the Isle of Wight" (perhaps it was too dear for him to afford). And assuming we ignore the unknown numbers of bastard groupie offspring, there are no Lennon grandkiddies named "Vera, Chuck, and Dave"—and isn't Sean Lennon a homo anyway? (I mean, he's half-asian, which is basically the same thing.) Glad John stuck to writing songs and dropping acid and playing sitars rather than trying to be all Miss Cleo and shit and predict the future. Maybe if I play the song backwards....

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Listmania!

Once again, 5 things I'm enjoying this week—once again, an idea stolen from Boy's Briefs:

1. A Day in the Life [www.adayinthelife.org]
Fantastic photo blog where some random person from some random part of the world posts a random photo of their life every day for a week; different person each week. These aren't professional photographers, yet the week's worth of shots (almost) always end up a unified, strikingly artistic whole. This week's photos suck, though, so dig through the archives—choice posts include Jan. 19-25 (anonymous soldier in Iraq) and Oct. 20-26 (shots from Rome that look like in-flight magazine stock photography).

2. Björk, Strings [Buy it]
Only available on Usenet in the hot-pink best-of/rarities box set Family Tree, this EP is a recording of a little-known "unplugged" performance Björk gave in 1995 at London's acoustically haunting Union Chapel, accompanied only by the Brodsky Quartet (hence "Strings") playing classed-up arrangements of her hit songs. Answers the age-old question: is it humanly possible for Björk to sound even more eerie, twee, demented, childlike, and moving than she normally does?

3. Chip Kidd, The Cheese Monkeys [NY Times Review]
The first book where Chip Kidd (who I nattered on about yesterday) handles not only the covers but what comes between them, all while channeling Bret Easton Ellis (the cover of whose Glamorama is a highlight of Kidd's portfolio). Unsurprisingly, Cheese Monkeys is about art school, here gone Grade-A gonzo thanks to moonshine binges, gay frat sex rumours, a literal crock of shit (stinky!), and a masochistic design instructor (ex: the students are abandoned on a frozen highway and told to design their way home). A quick, engrossing read and a great overview of the theories behind "commercial" design, written as wittily and succinctly as you'd expect given the humor and economy of Kidd's covers. While his writing is rapier-sharp, his "look at me! aren't I designy" design sucks the big fat rapier: text runs across endpapers, the font changes half-way through, the Acknowledgements are printed on the edges of the cover....I get a headache just thinking about it.

4. Spicy Tofu Banh Mi, Mix Bakery [36 Beach St., Chinatown]
How did I ever live without these? Banh mi (a.k.a. "Saigon Baguettes"—tell me with a straight face that doesn't sound like a whorehouse or a sex toy) are basically Vietnamese sub sandwiches, made with tofu or Vietnamese-style cold cuts and an Asian slaw, served on colonially-appropriate French bread slathered with a sketchy pâté (the tofu version comes sans pâté, and is far superior). You can make your own, but at $2 a pop for the best in Boston, why bother?

5. Win A Date With Tad Hamilton! [Watch the Trailer]
I know I know, this looks baaaad, and not in a so-bad-it's-good way. But I desperately wanted to see it, and I assure you it's totally worth the download time uh, $10. What can I say? I'm a sucker for movies with fake websites and cameos by Bill "TPS Report" Lumberg. While Josh Duhamel was obviously hired solely to bare his diamond-cutting abs every time the pace flagged (no complaints here—look at him and tell me there is any way to describe him other than "soap hunk"), the rest of the funny cast—even wan future Princeton undergrad Kate Bosworth—makes this a surprisingly enjoyable 95 minutes out of your life. And girls, can you really resist a movie that exhorts you repeatedly to, and I quote, "Guard your carnal treasure!"?

6. Bonus Thing I'm Enjoying This Week. Employment!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Before we begin: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that gay people who want to get married must be allowed to, uh, get married. Not civilly united, not domestically partnered, etc.—all people who want to get married should be allowed to get married. I know, it's so complicated! Interesting statistics at the end of the AP/Yahoo! article, showing Mass. tailing only D.C. and California (and tying New York and Vermont) in total number of gay households. Filthy Yankee liberals!

With that out of the way, let's talk about book jackets. [sound of everyone hitting their browser "Back" buttons] As if there were any lingering doubts that I'm a total dork, you should know I'm obsessed with book cover design (though at least I don't have an entire blog devoted to the subject). I always judge a book by its cover, and will always spend more money on a nicer-looking edition. I full-on geekout at bookstore displays, and always check the inside back flap to see who designed a book. After my stint in publishing, I now know that spines are actually the most important part of the book cover, so I dig those, too. One of my favorite authors as a kid was Ellen Raskin, who started out as a children's book designer and always oversaw the cover and interior design for her books (this site has an in-depth audiovisual overview of her work on the design of The Westing Game, her most famous book). I even have a favorite cover of all time: the Vintage edition of Lolita—so perfect, naughty and sexy and modern and antiquated all at the same time, just like the novel itself. (In my opinion, Vintage makes the best-looking covers overall.) Like, I am so obsessed with that Lolita cover that a few years ago there was a giant poster of it in the window of Wordsworth Books, and I begged and pleaded and even tried to bribe them for it; they refused (I guess what I've always suspected is true—I really do look like a pedophile), and the next day it was gone forever.

Slavishly coveting book covers is actually not that uncommon, especially on the Internet, where the nerd/freak flags truly fly free. Indeed, there's a weekly feature called Most Coveted Covers on the Readerville site, which very intelligently and wittily evaluates a new book cover every week—though it's not been updated since November 2003 (the archives are still there, though). Ditto for the tee-hee Mastication is Normal, which until November had a great monthly roundup of notably well-designed covers. Dude, we book cover enthusiasts even have our own celebrity, or the closest such a field can get to a boldfaced name: Chip Kidd. It's supposedly a sign that you've made it when you have a cover designed by him, so I know in a year or two I'll be meeting up with him and Sarah Jessica (we're on a first-name basis) at Pastis to go over the galleys for my new novel, which is untitled at this point but will most likely require him to emboss the word "Twat" in big white letters somewhere. Super!

More on Der Überdesigner: a (what else) flaming homo with a (what else) poet and Yale professor for a boyfriend, Chip (we're on a first-name basis, too—I slept with J.D. McClatchy's graduate assistant last fall) has designed some of the most iconic covers of our time: that freaky op-art glow of Dean Koontz's Intensity, the obvious but still sleek and transparency-overlayed The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, the whacked-out Pastoralia (one of my favorites), and probably his most famous cover, the snarling dino for Jurassic Park—which went on to serve as the logo for the movie as well. I mean hell, he's so well-regarded some Frog chick wrote a whole fawking book about his books, called Chip Kidd. The book's not that interesting, sadly—she somehow excludes his best and most famous covers, though appropriately the cover of the book is the best thing about it. Thankfully, there's a great interview with Chip Kidd at Identity Theory, a snooty interview site run out of Cambridge like all truly great nerd endeavors.