Thursday, March 31, 2005

Underage British Boys and other sassy thoughts

Of course I refer to only one Underage British Boy here, and that is Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. I'm sorry! I know it's totally creepy of me! But the boy is sexy. He got sexy in the last Harry Potter movie, and he's looking sexier still in all the promo shots from the 4th. I mean, if they didn't want me to think this way, why did they release a photo of him lying in bed with rumpled sheets, looking at his Triwizard clue???

Shut up, Tristen.

Other items of interest:

1) Why do they call it "news" when the details of the Pope's living will are divulged and we find he wants to be on life support to the bitter end? Did this surprise anyone? Shouldn't "news" actually be... something new, something surprising even?

2) And on that note, may Terri Schiavo rest in peace. And may this be the last word I offer up on the subject.

3) How is it that the songs of Travis get so stuck in my head? I mean, I just have to think the name "Travis," and a song pops in and doesn't leave for, like, two days.

4) Cameron Crowe rocks. This is the man who brought the world "Joe Lies;" Jeff Spicoli; the "Tiny Dancer" scene in Almost Famous; Paul Giamatti's big break and whopping one line in Singles; Jeremy Piven's kickass grocery store clerk in the same movie; Jerry Maguire's best use of a Bruce Springsteen song in a movie ever (oh, and Bob Dylan at the end, too); the only un-annoying Tom Cruise performances ever... I could go on for days.

5) Diet Pepsi. Mmm delicious.

6) There has never been a cooler toy than the iPod. If you can think of one, go ahead and tell me, but I doubt you'll be able to convince me.

7) Personality 85%, looks 15% -- does that sound about right, ladies??

8) My chair at work makes my booty hurt just around the tailbone, so when I get home and sit on these chairs, it feels like I have some crazy bruise or something. My work chair sucks.

9) Okay, my sister got to hear about this at length yesterday, but as it still annoys me 24 hours later, here goes: When reading a Chick Lit book, one expects it to follow formula properly, and not deviate; we don't buy or read these books to be wildly surprised, like when we read about the Pope's living will in the so-called news. We read these books because they have heroines who are slightly like us, and a friend or two similar to our own, and guys who are adorable but not perfect like in a Silhouette romance or a Judith McNaught novel (well, I guess that's a bit iffy, but if you read this crap like I do, you know what I mean). What is NOT supposed to happen is the book throwing you a curveball at page 200, like in Anna Maxted's Running In Heels (a title, incidentally, which has nothing to do with the book). Suddenly, after 200 pages of thinking this is a story about a young woman who's always been "the good girl" and who's going to veer off that path by seeing a bit of a louse, and partying a bit too much, and then near the end she'll see the error of her ways and hook up with the man who's good for her.

So you'll have to imagine my horror and annoyance when, around about page 200 (200!!), the main character's best friend is suddenly having a Come-to-Jesus with her about how she's practically starving herself, and she'd like her to get healthy because she can't stand to see her like this and blah blah blah. And in 200 pages, nary a HINT that this was coming. I mean, yes, Main Character visits the health club TWICE in the first 200 pages. She works at a ballet company and is slightly creeped out by the anorexic dancers, yet also a bit fascinated. There is nothing to hint that she doesn't eat or looks too thin or what have you. And then, after this abrupt about-face, the rest of the book (200 more pages!) is all the details of her obsessing over every morsel, and working out too much, and her feeling ugly, and so on and so forth. There is a seemingly random plot line about Pilates, which just seems like an obsession maybe the writer was having at time of writing and so decided to spread the gospel in her work. And yes, Main Character does get the good, attractive, perfect for her guy at the end. But it's utter rubbish to spring an eating disorder on one's reader 200 pages in.

It's practically the equivalent of JK Rowling having Lord Voldemort go good on us in Book 7. In future, Anna Maxted, I'd like a few more hints.

10) Guys ARE weird. And slightly clueless. And yet oddly lovable just the same.

Go on -- weigh in if you dare!!


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ahh, Wednesday...

Wednesday, always the most annoying day of the week. The day upon which things at work are always in full stressful swing because it is the middle of the week after all. The day upon which I start to feel tired. Not sure who I think I'm kidding though -- I'm usually tired these days. All that pumping of iron at the gym... suffice to say, I'm just not used to it. My muscles aren't used to it, either.

And then, as it's almost Easter, it's like the weather here in Colorado just has to get shitty, doesn't it? Heaven forefend we ever have a holiday where kids want to have fun collecting candy around here without freezing drizzle and a temperature below 40 degrees (fahrenheit, my little Canadian friends). All I ask is for one freakin' Easter egg hunt in the back yard instead of the living room before my son's too old to bother. That's it -- just one. Please.

I guess I could get really morose and dwell on the fact that the weather looked exactly like this after the Columbine shootings, and try to draw some parallel between that and the Red Lake shootings earlier this week. But you know what? I've given up. I'm just not going to get morose about that kind of thing any more. I'm not going to join any single one of you in your chorus of "Oh my God, what do we do??" I'm not. I've had enough. We've had a long time to fix this problem, enough time actually, and yet here we are, still allowing our children to dwell in desolation, making them believe that only an act of serious desperation is the answer to the hell in which they're living. So I'm not joining in this time. Work it out, the rest of you. I'm just going to raise my son, thank you very much.

And here's the part where I'd like to raise a big "Screw you" to Congress for their little emergency action last Sunday on the Terri Schiavo "issue." What a load of old tosh -- "the sanctity of life." The sanctity of the pockets of the Republican party being lined with Born Again Christian cash, more like. This whole thing is ridiculous. Let the poor woman die with a little dignity, a little privacy. Let her family get on with grieving instead of giving them little kernels of hope. Or let Jeb Bush adopt her already and keep me and my tax dollars the hell out of it.

Here's the deal: death and dying are part of life. To achieve respect for the sanctity of life, we really need to come to terms with the sanctity of death as well. These people talk about what God wants and speak on His behalf -- and yet, a major part of believing in God is that we can set aside our fear of death, because he's going to see us through it, and be with us, and we're going to get to be with him eternally once the physical part of it ends. Terri Schiavo's dying right now, that's true -- she's starving to death, and to us, we have to assume that's painful. But how can you sit there and tell me you believe in God and Jesus Christ and then think that he's going to let this woman be in pain? How can you not also believe that He's right there beside her in that hospice room, holding her in His arms? Taking away her pain and suffering? Come on -- make up your minds. Have faith or don't. Don't change the rules as you go. Better yet, if you're going to lead this country we live in, don't just make them up as you go.

Rant done. Don't ask me to repeat it.

Top 9 Bands of the Week:

1). Stereophonics
2). The Kaiser Chiefs
3). U2. Duh.
4). The Who
5). Tori Amos (no, she's not really a band, is she? But as this is MY journal...)
6). Green Day
7). Keane (got a little soft spot for them, I do)
8). The Fray
9). Moby (no, not really a band either. See how zany I am!)

Sorry, but going for a full 10 messes up the look of things.

Peace, out.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

U2 are better than having a man around

I was 12 years old when a friend's mom took us with her to see U2 in concert for the first time. This was a new friend, the kind of friend girls make in junior high school when they decide to become someone new, and her mom was one of those cool music fans just this side of "groupie;" she had something like a thousand albums, and a neverending wardrobe of concert t-shirts and tight jeans. So, I was spending the night at this friend's house, and her mom was all, "Come on girls, we're going to this concert." And it was U2 at the Rainbow Music Hall in Denver (a Bill Graham venue which is now the Walgreen's two blocks from my house -- the marquee is still there, but instead of advertising bands, now it gives you sale prices on diabetic supplies and photo finishing. If you don't know who Bill Graham was, please Google him and educate yourself -- you'll be glad you did, I promise!), February 28, 1982. The Rainbow was so small that you couldn't help but be close to the stage, and there we were, my friend and I, just psyched that we were out doing something cool for the night, instead of hitting the mall or the movie theatre with our peers. Some punkish band opened up (a U2 fan site lists The Brains), and then U2 took the stage, and I for one was entranced. The sound wasn't quite punk like the Sex Pistols but it wasn't quite "rock" either (this was the era of Journey, Styx, and REO Speedwagon, in addition to numerous foul bands from Canada... which I can say because I am Canadian). Everything about it was fast and frenetic -- the guitar playing and the drums, and this crazy lead singer guy sort of bouncing all over the place, or whatever it was he was doing. It was all just this burst of manic energy, and it was like nothing we'd ever heard before, and like nothing we'd ever seen before.

And it was OURS. It was like they got up there and said, "Here you go -- take us with you."

So I have. For 22 years. Someone asked me why I'm such a devoted U2 fan. I've always found it easy to be a devoted U2 fan because the fact is, they're so devoted to me, to us -- to their fans. Is there another band on the planet that feels guilty for putting out something that's not necessarily their best (even if most of loved it anyway)? Is there another band on the planet who would've taken the stage after winning a Grammy and apologized in front of the whole world for a concert tour ticketing fiasco? They're devoted to being the best band they can be, not just because it's a lark to be in a band, but to make us, their fans, happy. There are people who have passed through my life who promised me undying devotion who've given me a hell of a lot less than U2 have in 22 years of fandom.

That's not the sad thing it might sound like -- it's not sad because music is just as important to me as anything else -- life, love, freedom, whatever. And to be a music fan and then be blessed with a band like U2 -- well, that's like a little glimpse of God here on earth. They're just one more item on my list of things to remind that there is a God: Beethoven, Mozart, my son's laughter, the Grand Canyon, Harry Potter books, Colin Firth's eyes, the invention of the iPod, Bob Dylan, George Lucas movies... U2. They make me cry, they make me laugh, they make me think, they make me want to be a better person. I mean, I think Bruce covered it a bit more eloquently than I ever could in his Hall of Fame speech, but there it is -- in exchange for their devotion, they get mine.

They don't make a mess in my kitchen and not clean it up; they ply me with songs of longing and searching and passion (I'd even tell you that some of the songs are better than mediocre sex); they dress in the latest rock star fashions and don't embarrass me by going to the curb for the paper in my robe and a pair of sweats; they probably trim their nose hairs too, but who cares, because they never ask to use my bathroom for weird grooming rituals; they appreciate me, and to prove it they gave me songs like "Miracle Drug" and "Stuck In A Moment" and "Out of Control" and "Bad" and some of the best poetry ever written -- freedom has a scent like the top of a newborn baby's head.

You know, Bruce Springsteen I love, Van Morrison I can't hear often enough, Bob Dylan I adore, countless bands and musicians are worthy of my time and ear and sometimes a bit of a crush, but U2 -- they're the band I'll spend the rest of my life with.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Shelf-Life of Bad Music

I was thinking about this in the shower this morning, because it always seems to be in the shower that Bad Music pops into my head and refuses to leave until my hair is dry; it seems to be a problem in the local water supply. But here's what I was thinking: Bad Music (Britney Spears, Usher, Jessica Simpson, etc.) seems to have a very short shelf life, thus ensuring its purveyors that they will never have any listeners who become fans for life. You can take any Britney Spears single and tell the year it was it recorded even with no prior familiarity with the song, because it will sound exactly like any other popular single from the same year. Most likely, the singles will have been written by the same songwriting team, and produced by the same producer of the moment, using the same hooks and techniques that were used to make most of the top 10 for that same year. And this is why no one can listen, in 2005, to the Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera/Backstreet Boys/etc. cd that they purchased back in 2000. Because it's only 2005, but the stuff already sounds dated. It sounds like stuff that was recorded in 2000.

Because it's all canned and synthetic and extremely formulaic, there's no way this music can endure. There's nothing charming in any of it, nothing memorable in any of it -- even most of the lyrics sound the same, as though even the same themes were required in each year. Take 2004, which was the year of Mediocre Teenage (or Very Youthful) Singers Attempting to Sound Rebellious: Avril Lavigne, Ashlee Simpson, Ryan Cabrera, JoJo, Lindsay Lohan. If these kids are the most dangerous, rebellious youths out there, I think we're doing all right. But of course we all know that they aren't; they're just puked off the assembly line that way.

I can see why people like this type of music, and buy it, and put up with it. It's because it's good background music. You don't have to think much about it, it has a certain beat-per-minute rythym to carry you through your day, it sounds okay loud or quiet, it's slickly produced so that nothing jars you out of whatever it is that you're doing besides listening.

But what you will almost always notice is that the only people you will ever hear say that any of these type of "artists" are actually their favorite musicians are children -- mainly girls between the ages of 6 and 13. Adults who listen to it will tell you it's a guilty pleasure or cite any or all of the reasons listed above for not minding it. The kids, on the other hand, love these pretty girls and cute boys, and adore the simplistic life themes presented in the songs; it's something they can deal with on their Limited Life Experience level. And then, once they've hit the magic 14th birthday, they lose all interest (14 at the latest; some are earlier bloomers and move on to real music at 10 or 11) -- just like my friends and I lost interest in Shaun Cassidy and the Monkees when we were young.

I suspect that, 15-20 years from now, we're going to be hearing a lot of these songs on some kind of "Turn of the Century Bubblegum Music" collection. I have to wonder if then even I will wax nostalgic at the sounds of, say, "Not A Girl (Not Yet A Woman)" or "Yeah!" or even "Genie In A Bottle." But I guarantee you that nothing, not even time, can make a Simpson not suck.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Best Awards Show Moments

I have to confess to watching nearly every awards show that comes on television -- I'm not sure what the powers that be would call this particular illness, but it must be something to do with obsessing far too much on celebrities and how their hair is looking at any given event. I don't believe an Oscars telecast can ever be too long, or that the Grammy Awards can ever be boring (how can they be, when they're doled out so seemingly randomly, and you get the added bonus of seeing a trainwreck like J-Lo "singing" with her latest husband??).

But my favorite moments are always the ones in which the cameras cut to a nominee who didn't win just after the actual winner was announced, and the nonwinner looks all pissed off. This never fails to delight me. And it's always some dumbass who was quoted many, many times pre-awards as saying, "It's an honor just to be nominated, so it's not important if I win or not." So on that note, a list of some of my favorite such moments:

1. An all-time classic: Elisabeth Shue, when nominated for Best Actress for "Leaving Las Vegas." She looked downright pissed off when the other person won -- she looked so pissed off, that I can't even remember who it was that won or what year this was; this is now all that I remember from this particular Oscars show.

2. A new one that will take me a few years to forget: Gwen Stefani at this year's Grammy's, when No Doubt lost out to Los Lonely Boys for Best Pop Song by A Duo or Group. She had the *ahem* misfortune of being seated directly in front of the winners, and of course the cameras caught her looking all sour-faced and not even turning to congratulate the guys in Los Lonely Boys. Who, by the way, were totally shocked that they won, which I always love -- the people who don't get up there with a speech prepared. Surely Gwen had to know that the Los Lonely Boys were new and far more interesting than her band and their rehash of "It's My Life," which didn't sound any different than it did in 1984 or whenever it was we all first heard it. The whole thing confirmed for me that I've made the right decision to never buy a No Doubt cd, or patronize this band in any way.

3. Another new but classic moment of Total Un-Class: Leonardo DiCaprio at this year's Oscars. Did he seriously think he had a chance, up against Clint Eastwood, Johnny Depp, and Jamie Foxx?? So they call Jamie Foxx's name, and the ENTIRE place is on its feet for a standing ovation... the entire place except Leo, his girlfriend (supermodel Gisele, so now she's classless also), and the two people next to them, who I believe were a producer of "The Aviator" and his spouse, but you can correct me if I'm wrong. I mean, I think we can all agree that Leo's nomination was more a nod to the fact that the Academy sees him growing as an actor and they liked his choice of roles, and someday down the road, it might be his time to win, rather than an actual chance at winning this year. I like to think I know how these people think.

4. I believe this was at an MTV Awards ceremony and I think it was about two years ago, when Evanescence (Evannoying seems more appropo) won the Best New Artist Award, and 50 Cent walked up onstage with them, seemingly in protest at not having received the award himself. This was a tough call for me to make because from where I sat (on the sofa, in my living room), it almost looked like Fitty was just heading up to congratulate the winners. But all reports the next day were that he was just doing it to be a jerk because he didn't win himself. This is also a toughie for me because part of me takes great sympathy with Mr. Cent. He really was the better new artist, and probably should have won. But unlike the Motion Picture Academy, I have NO idea what goes on in the heads of those who vote on the MTV Awards.

5. It was the Grammy's last year when Justin Timberlake won some award for some crappy song in the same category in which a bunch of R&B guys with a lot more street cred were also nominated. I swear that not a single rapper/hip-hop/R&B artist within the first 10 rows of that place were remotely amused when he got up and did his thing where he tries to "talk black." He's pretty white. I think they could tell. I think they were pissed.

Yeah, this is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

People who don't return my calls

I don't understand what is so damn complicated about returning a phone call in a timely fashion. Let me define timely fashion: within 24 hours. 24 hours is a lot of hours, really -- that should leave a person plenty of time to pick up their phone, dial my number, and acknowledge the fact that I left them a message. Even if they don't have an answer -- assuming I had a question. Just call me and say, "I got your message and I'm looking into it, but I don't have an answer for you yet." Seriously, why is this complicated?

And this isn't just a work-based issue. For the record, should any of my friends ever read this, I think you're rude and self-involved if you can't return my call within a day or two. Because I like you, you get 72 hours before I get pissy and bad-mouth you to someone else in the circle. After that, you're fair game.

And in that vein, if you're trying to avoid responding to an email that I've sent you about, oh, say, my birthday party or whatever, don't send me a Read Receipt. See, because that way I know you got the email, and probably read it, and then I just get mad when you wait until a week after the event discussed in the email to write back and tell me you can't come. If you're trying to avoid someone, please do it with a little sense. I'm not completely stupid. Maybe a bit, but not completely.