Monday, October 31, 2005

Program interruption

I will yet again be away for a couple of weeks and probably won't post during that time. See you in mid-November!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Lindsay Lohan and the Singer/Songwriter Conundrum

Lindsay Lohan has just released the video she directed for her new song, the overwrought "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)."

Now, I love me some Lohan, but even my intrinsic faith in LL couldn't disguise the fact that "Confessions of a Broken Heart" sucks as bad as its excessively explanatory title. It's about what a crappy relationship Linds has with her angry, absentee father and how this has broken her heart. Fair enough, but both the song and the video are a poor man's version of "Family Portrait," Pink's angsty troubled-family song of a couple of years ago.

Compare the lyrics:

I am crying, a part of me is dying and
These are, these are
The confessions of a broken heart



You fight about money, bout me and my brother
And this I come home to,
this is my shelter

Lindsay, dear: Show, don't tell! And also please don't rhyme "crying" and "dying" ever again.

However, my point is not to trashy La Lohan (especially on a day when she seems to have quasi-admitted that she had an eating disorder earlier this year: Please take care of yourself, sweetpea!) No, I blame Society. "Confessions of a Broken Heart" and its video are illustrative of the fact that we, as a culture, encourage artists who are very good at one thing--acting, singing--to expand into related but dissimilar activities--directing, songwriting--at which there is no reason to think they will be any good. Because this pressure disproportionately afflicts singers, who are considered kind of fraudulent if they don't write their own songs, I dub it the Singer/Songwriter Conundrum.

Of course, there are good singer/songwriters (Dylan, Dolly Parton) and actor/directors (Clint Eastwood), but this should not be seen as the norm, but rather as a random aberration, like the fact that Geena Davis is skilled at archery. The assumption that those who sing should be able to write songs is like the idea that a baseball player should know how to construct a baseball from its constituent parts.

So back to my darling Lindsay. Darling Lindsay! You're a great actress! You seem to be able to sing fairly well! This is great! Why do you need to emulate Bob Dylan? Just do what you do and we'll love you for it. And have a sandwich.

Goodbye, Harriet

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her name from consideration for the Supreme Court. In this moment it seems most appropriate to let her speak for herself about the significance of this event. Here's what she wrote earlier today in a "Thank you Note" on Harriet Miers's Blog:

Dear Supporters.
This is obv a really hard day for me, I was super excited about being a Justice. I was looking at my very first blog post and it made me cry. But this day isn't about me. Its about all of us . . . Thank you to everyone who writes comments on this blog, Mike Sparkle Judy Gyrobo Bob Liz Ah Patrick EVERYONE, you know who you are. You are my BFF, for real . . .

But Most Of All...
THANK YOU MR. PRESIDENT. I know this wasn't you're decision any more than it was mine...but guess what, we're going to STICK TOGETHER just like always!!
Its a pleasure to serve you sir, now and always.
I'll never forget being the Nominee, it was a learning experience at the very least.
Always remember. Follow you're heart.

Harriet Miers

That's truly beautiful. Goodbye, Harriet Miers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Miss Seventeen is The. Best. Reality. Show. Ever!

There are so many reality shows to choose from that I find myself like Goldilocks with a remote control: "The Real World is too stupid and drunk. The Apprentice is too business-oriented. Survivor is too stressful and physically unpleasant-seeming."

But darlings, I've finally found the one that's just right: Miss Seventeen, a new offering from MTV, the granddaddy of reality TV.

Its premise: "17 accomplished and ambitious young women compete in weekly character-testing challenges, all under the watchful eye of Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Atoosa Rubenstein." They're competing for a summer internship at Seventeen, which, OK I could make fun of it, but I might as well just admit that I would have killed for such a thing about 10 years ago, which probably adds to the appeal of the show.

They're not kidding about the accomplished part: the cast is full of National Honor Society/student council president/valedictorian/newspaper editor types. This suggests that Miss Seventeen will avoid the kind of dialogue that has come to be the norm on most reality TV, that is, a near-meaningless collection of words that makes you worry about possible mass aphasia.*

But lest you are concerned that all the smarty-pantsiness will make the show boring, rest assured that the cast also contains a disproportionate number of cheerleaders and pageant participants. The show thus promises to contain large amounts of frightening cheerfulness layered with frequent accusations of "fakeness" and perforated by intermittent bursts of weeping.

Also, almost every single one of these 18-to-20 year olds claims that she wants to run her own business one day, meaning either they are big bullshitters or they already know that they can't work well with others. Either way, a bunch of chipper recent high schoool graduates who think of themselves as superstar leaders, forced to live and work together: a recipe for delicious disaster!

* Yeahhh, aphasia, big word! It means the loss of the ability to use or understand language! I read about it in the New Yorker this afternoon in a coffee shop! Because I had already finished Entertainment Weekly! Ahh, unemployment, how I love you.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Is Gay is the new Foreign?

During the recent wanderings that have taken me away from you, dear readers, I found myself in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was there that I heard a radio ad for a non-American-made truck (I think the Toyota Tundra, although possibly some sort of Nissan) which seemed to be premised on the interesting idea that its target audience would find it worse to be possibly gay than to not hate foreignerners, or at least automobiles associated with foreigners.

The thrust of the ad was that those who buy Toyota Tundras are more manly than those who buy Ford F-150s, because the Tundra has more horsepower, or more cylinders, or a bigger penis, or something. The ad ended with the kicker, "Show me a man who prefers the Ford F-150 to the Toyota Tundra, and I'll show you his peach cardigan sweater."

Bold move, Toyota! I recall a time (or is it a place? It's sometimes hard to distinguish between things that have actually changed since I was a child and things that are different on the East Coast than in the Midwest) when no red-blooded truck-driver in his right mind would buy a foreign-made pickup. Toyota seems to be making a bold ploy to distract from its foreignness by gay-bashing its competitors. Keep an eye out for other ad campaigns along this theme: Wal-Mart May Be Ruining American Communities, But At Least We're Not Muslims like K-Mart! and: Yeah, Nike Uses Sweatshops, but People Who Buy New Balance Like To Kill Puppies. Ahh, advertising industry, how you keep our moral compass true!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

TomKat pregnancy analysis

Hello again! I know I've been gone for longer than I said, and I'll probably be gone again this whole week too. You see, I'm currently Between Jobs, which, not to make you all want to kill me, is the best thing that has ever happened in the history of time.

Anyway, I am taking a break from not doing anything for just a minute because I wanted to say: Do not despair, Katie Holmes's pregnancy does not necessarily mean that her relationship with Tom Cruise is not a farce! As I previously noted, completely unreliable information suggests that the erstwhile Kate Cruise agreed to enter into a sex-free marriage with Tom for $5 million. Now, the pregnancy thing might seem to call this into question, but in fact there are many explanations which do not require Tom to have defiled our darling Dawson's Creek starlet. Here are a few:

1. Tom clone (in vitro fertilization).
2. Scientologist alien/Christ figure (immaculate conception).
3. Satan's spawn (have you seen Rosemary's Baby? You really should.)

Admittedly, being knocked up with Little Lucifer is not a good thing, but there is at least a strong argument to be made that it's better than doin' it with TC. This is enough to allow me to rest easy at night. OK, back to unemployment. See you next week!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Buh-bye for now

I'm going out of town, so I probably won't post anything for a week or so. Because I wouldn't want anyone to lack distractions at work, let me direct you to some of my favorite websites, for your amusement.

Gawker: It's an oldie but goodie. Here's a post from last week that sent me into a fit of uncontrollable, inappropriate giggling at work:

Not even a week after Paris Hilton officially announced the break-off of her engagement to Paris Latsis, the heiress has been spotted skanking around with Stavros Niarchos, aka Mary-Kate Olsen’s boyfriend. If our little squirrel twin goes into an anorexic tailspin because of this, we will kill Hilton with our bare hands. Bitch. [Page Six]


Veiled Conceit: Strangely obsessed with the New York Times wedding announcements? Then you'll love Veiled Conceit! It saves you the trouble of reading through all those pages to find the gems, and, more importantly, it reassures you that you're right to mock the wedded. Here's a fabulously snarky one from early September:

The parade of staggeringly self-important cultural elitism marches

Those concerns were swept aside when she met Mr. Walter, who was devouring a translation of "The Guermantes Way," part of Proust's multivolume novel "In Search of Lost Time." As it happened, Ms. Giebel was reading "Swann's Way," the first volume in the series - but in French.

Were it not in the Paper of Record I'd be sure this were a parody. Could two sentences so perfectly capture the vain one-upmanship of the literati and not be contrived? No reference can go unchallenged in this set, and the fact that he didn't come back at her saying that he was actually reading it in Gaelic Braille is shocking. And (forgive me but someone had to say it) Proust would have hated these pompous snobs (but in French).

I don't know from Proust, but I love me some bitchiness!

Television without Pity: Summaries of TV shows that are often more amusing than the TV shows themselves. Here's part of the recap of last week's Alias:

Jennifer Garner and the Cardigan of Baby Concealage run off in an attempt at escape, but she kind of dumbly runs right into the fake ambulance and the fake EMTs all start shooting at her, like, way to keep her ALIVE, dudes. Syd runs off to the Cornfield of Convenience with fake EMTs chasing after her. Chase, chase, chase, shoot, shoot, shoot, violins, violins, violins. Yes, it's just about that interesting. Syd disturbs what looks like a flock of white doves, even though it really should be crows, which, did a band of one-armed kindergarteners write this episode or what, and whatever, this tips off the fake EMTers and they run after her and somehow she makes it to the edge of the cornfield undetected and she sneaks up on a couple of them and takes 'em out with a few shots.
The band of one-armed kindergartners thing is going to keep a grin on my face all week.

Finally, Stuff on my Cat:
Dude, when I get back I'm totally going to train T&A Kitty to let me put stuff on her. Then she'll be famous!

OK, I'm outtie. Bye!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Breaking news: World ends!

Omigod, people, Armageddon is truly here: TomKat is pregnant. Please pardon me while I go stockpile supplies in my bunker.

Breaking news: Marriage is dead!

Nick and Jessica's marriage, anyway. US Weekly breaks the story, Gawker breaks the story about the breaking story, and I repeat what I read on other blogs: the erstwhile Newlyweds are filing for divorce.

A supposed friend of the couple says the split is occurring because Jessica's "not the girl America fell in love with anymore." However, it would seem that, in fact, thet issue is that she is not the girl Nick fell in love with anymore, namely a very sheltered 19-year-old virgin smitten by a more famous boy-band member, and is now a 25-year-old woman with whom America may not be in love, but whom we find enticing enough that we will purchase large quantities of CDs, movie tickets and scented body products based on her endorsement.

Either way, it's kinda sad, but also kinda vindicating for those of us who predicted a bad end would come back when Jessica's virginity-obsessed preacher/manager father spoke at their wedding about how she was "pure" and was giving Nick a "gift." Ewwwwwww.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Miers nomination gives bad names to affirmative action, eyeliner

So, I like affirmative action. And eyeliner. They promote diversity, social justice, and the appearance of larger eyes and fuller lashes, all of which I am definitely for.

But today President Bush and his goth-eyed henchwoman/future Supreme Court Justice, Harriet Miers, managed to nearly make me change my mind on both counts.

First, the eyeliner. Harriet seems to have heard that eyeliner is a good idea, but she failed to gather any more information about the topic. The result: incredibly harsh black stuff, applied with a trowel all the way around her eyes like the gate around a high-end ex-urban housing development. Instead of making her eyes look bigger or more defined, it just emphasizes their squinty, cold-hearted iciness--and the color contrast emphasizes her Morticia-like pallor, to boot.

A similar problem explains the twisted version of affirmative action that resulted in the Miers nomination. As Emily Bazelon said in Slate, "Cronyism and affirmative action: It's a nasty mix." In other words, the Bush people thought, "OK, Laura and Sandra Day and those man-hating lesbian feminist interest groups want us to pick a woman. Look, here's one right here!" (I am partially plagarizing not only Bazelon but also Joel Achenbach's Achenblog post, "Bush Names Totally Random Person for Court," which was right-on except for ignoring that it had to be a totally random woman.) The result: a Supreme Court nominee whose main professional credentials are a zillion years as a corporate lawyer (impressive in its own special way, I guess, but not unique--there are about 10000000 other similarly high-achieving, soulless Republican women lawyers in the country), one term on the Dallas City Council, and a couple of years as a Yes-Woman to the President. Not that I would have been happy if it had been a psycho wingnut like Janice Rogers Brown, but at least that would have been just an attack on women's legal rights, not on the whole idea that women can be competent.

Wonkette did a pretty good digital makeover for Miers's "look"--it's too bad they couldn't do the same thing with the nomination.