Monday, December 29, 2008

Put your paws up...

Marley and Me / John Grogan

It’s absolutely impossible for me to be objective about a book like this, so I’m not even going to try.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK! How’s that for a review?

Shame on me for just now reading it, considering that it’s been out for over three years. I decided to read it after seeing the theatrical trailer for the movie, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston…

I will see, own, and watch this movie over and over and over… guaranteed. I don't even care that it stars Owen Wilson and his crazy nose.

If you have even the slightest bit of softness in your heart for our canine companions, then this book is a must-read. Although Grogan sells this book as the story of the world’s worst dog, the sentiments found within are universal for anyone who has loved a dog, no matter how poorly behaved. Marley is a terror… an eater of furniture, a tugger of leashes, a menace to all who share his sidewalk, and yet he’s also one of his family’s greatest joys.

I was surprised at all of the experiences I had in common with Grogan and Marley. My late puppy, Beauregard (rest his soul), could never be called a bad dog, but he got into the same mischief and had the same dog-like problems as Marley, and we loved him despite all of it.

The beauty of owning a dog, or any pet for that matter, is the sense of perspective they provide. Many young people can credit their very mature attitudes about responsibility and empathy to a stint with a family pet, and many adults can view their pets as early crash courses in child-rearing. Even though the stakes aren’t quite so high when raising a dog, it’s easy to see how the experience translates into caring for an infant. Neither a dog nor an infant can say thank you, and yet we, as parents/owners continue cleaning, feeding, teaching, and loving.

The incredible adventure of keeping a living thing alive is at the center of Grogan’s book. The fact that Marley is such a challenging dog only seems to add to the mystery, rather than take away. Why does the author hang on to this bulldozer on four legs? Why does he tolerate the never-ending inconvenience, not to mention the property damage? How does Marley manage to infuriate him and endear himself to him at the same time (it’s a neat trick that all dogs seem to have)? The easy answer is because he loves the stupid animal, and honestly… who wouldn’t?

One thing this book did very well, enough to make me cry buckets, was express the idea that love has a weird way of erasing all the bad things and leaving only the good. No amount of scratched walls or busted windows or piles of poo can eclipse the years of companionship, entertainment, and comfort that Marley provides for the author and his family. Almost of all my memories of Beauregard are warm and fuzzy, and even the ones focused on his misbehavior - like the time he bit me (hard) while I tried to take a box of Cheez-nips away – tend to make me laugh, rather than inspire any negative feeling. To be honest, I’m hard pressed to think of any truly terrible moments. The only one that pops out is a mental image of my poor, victimized mother screaming to the heavens, “THIS IS WHY WE DON’T HAVE NICE THINGS!!!” Ok, that one makes me laugh, too (sorry, mom).

To summarize and conclude: I love dogs. I love this book. The End.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Rather than write some long-winded to-do, I'm just going to post this video of one of my favorite Christmas songs...

It's a little dark, a little sad... it's Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all my readers and friends!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Britney and her Circus…

First off – why has my traffic dropped off so much lately? Are ya’ll tired of my obsessive posts about Beyonce? Do you find me boring? Is the magic already gone? At first I was depressed, but now I’m just pissed. This stuff is frikkin’ FASCINATING!!

I suppose one of the reasons for the slump in traffic might be my erratic posting… sometimes it’s three times a week, sometimes it’s three times a month. What can I say – maybe I’m manic-depressive when it comes to blogging, which is odd because I’m not moody in real life at all (HA!!).

One should not assume, however, that just because I’m not blogging in any kind of predictable way means that I’m not gorging at the pop-culture buffet. Quite the opposite is true. I’ve been reading and watching movies and listening to good music just as much as ever. I have noticed a steep decline in my TV watching, which I consider a good thing, although I’m not sure how it happened. I stopped watching just about everything – Pushing Daisies, Ugly Betty, Survivor – all of it. Wait… I just realized something. I stopped watching TV altogether when the last Supernatural of the year aired. Apparently, without the Padalecki and the Ackles to lure me in, I have no need for the tube whatsoever. I’m Ok with that.

Aaaaanyway… the business at hand…

Britney Spears / Circus

Let it be known throughout the land that no one was invested in Britney’s comeback more than I, not only because I’ve been a fan since the days of the Mickey Mouse Club (ah, memories), but also because I love a good underdog story. There will never be enough interviews, E! True Hollywood Stories, or MTV documentaries to accurately explain her painfully rapid and epically entertaining spiral into baldness and forced hospitalizations, at least to my satisfaction, but if one assumes she did hit rock bottom sometime around that horrific display at the 2007 VMAs, I think her new album and it’s reception by the critics and the masses is nothing short of miraculous. And I say, well done, Britney. Well. Done.

But let’s be real. She still ain’t all there. And this album ain’t all that great.

I’m willing to concede that my expectations may have been a trifle high. I LOVED Blackout and she was barely conscious when she slapped that album together. Maybe I thought lucidity and sobriety would help Britney get to a whole other level, and while I’m certain that some aspects of her life have improved, this album was kind of disappointment. What I’m saying is that I expected to love this album. I’d even made a spot for it in my Top 10 albums of all time, that’s how sure I was about it. Alas, I was premature, and a perfectly good album that under any normal circumstances I would be raving about, turned out to be just OK for me (and I’m sorry for invoking Randy Jackson there).

Down to the nitty-gritty: I love the singles, Womanizer and Circus. Womanizer and the accompanying Toxie-esque video makes sense as the perfect comeback vehicle; a return to the Britney as Dancing Vixen Bent On Revenge formula. The song, however, is pretty weak… repetitive and dull. Circus is much better, though. The circus metaphor, while a tad predictable (and maybe even a little lame), is mighty appropriate for Ms. Spears, and it gives her every opportunity to shine. And it’s hands-down a better song.

Elsewhere on the album, the high points are few and far between. I really like the first ballad, Out From Under. For one thing, it’s real singing, which I’ve missed from her. That’s not to say her vocals have improved, but I’m all about honesty and legitimacy. And let’s be realz, if we cared about vocals in a serious way, Madonna wouldn’t have a career, but at least Madonna attempts to sing, so I’m happy to see Britney following suit. Secondly, it’s a poignant reminder of what Britney has been through, and I’m not just talking about KFed but ALL OF IT and it’s good that she addresses it. Of course, the song implies that the bad times are behind her now, and… baby steps, BritBrit… baby steps.

Kill the Lights is yet another kiss-off to the paparazzi, and you know… I’m getting confused. Here’s a girl that swears up and down in interviews that the fame and the attention and the pictures and the tabloids really mess with her head. I’d go as far as to say that she blames fame for most of her problems, and yet, here she is again, playing up to the whole idea. It’s like she’s saying, “I really get tired of the whole fame thing, so now I’m going to sing a song about how awesome it is and how awesome I am for being able to live with it.” Maybe I’m reading into it. But whatever, it’s a good song.

The rest of the album is kind of vanilla, except for maybe If You Seek Amy, which is pretty juvenile (very middle school) once you get the joke. And while I really can’t stomach My Baby, a tender ode to her babies, I’ll hand it to her for putting a personal song on the album. I think she needs all the humanizing she can get. All the rest are passable pop fare… the technical term is filler.

So all in all, Circus is a perfectly good album. It’s my fault for expecting something earth-shattering. I think she’ll get some big hits out of it, some of which may join Baby One More Time and Toxic in the Greatest Hits category, but I think time will prove that this album was more about her than the music, which, since it’s Britney, may be the way it’s supposed to be.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Holiday Procrastination continues…

…And I still haven’t done any of my shopping. Strangely, I’m fully stocked with wrapping paper, bows, cards, and other packaging materials. All of it is currently sitting idly in my living room, glaring at me. I’ve never seen such angry-looking wrapping paper.

My Christmas tree is up and decorated. And ya’ll… it’s kind of a disaster.

When I went to Target last weekend to buy my fake tree, I pretty much knew this venture would be a lost cause. Apparently, one is supposed to buy the fake Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving. Since I didn’t get that memo (one memo among several other important memos), I had slim pickings in the fake tree aisle. Ultimately, I selected a 6-foot tree with colored lights.

I should probably mention that I purchased all of my ornaments about a month ago, because I managed to hit a sale at Michael’s entirely by accident. My theme was “No Sex for Christmas,” --- all blue balls and frigid silver and white tinsel all at reasonable prices.

As the lady scanned in my fake tree with multi-colored lights, the tiny gay man with exquisite tastes who resides somewhere in my right-dominated brain began to wring his hands with agitation. I had to assure him as we pulled out of the parking lot that the colored lights wouldn’t interfere with my cold and wintry ornamental motif, and even if it did, this was the only decent tree left in the store and I was absolutely NOT going to Walmart, so don’t even ask.

But honestly, I might have been just a teensy bit worried, too.

When I got home, I put the tree together. It was just as easy as the box implied; although I did have to wrestle some of the branches into position to keep my tree from looking like three hurricane-ravaged beach umbrellas stacked one on top of the other. After putting the tree in place, I tested the lights and I was pleased with the results. The lights, though indeed multi-colored, didn’t seem garish or tacky, mostly because there weren’t as many as I’d feared.

I unplugged the light display and began the decorating process, starting with my cheap silver tinsel. With the tinsel perfectly wound in a tight spiral, it was time for the blue, white, and silver balls. My plan was simple: a healthy amount of large balls strategically placed evenly around the tree, followed by twice as many medium balls to surround them, and finishing with a healthy smattering of small balls to fill in the empty spaces. The end result was breath-taking; a glittering, shiny, absolutely chilling display of wintry spirit, that could be perceived as depressing, if it wasn’t so gosh darn sparkly.

The tiny gay man in my head squeee’d with delight at the classy and elegant holiday concoction before him. It was as if we had just single-handedly saved Christmas.

And then I plugged in the lights.

Cue the trombone… Wah, wah, waaaaaaaahhhhhhhh…

Believe me, I’ve tried to take a photo that captures the fug I have unleashed upon my apartment (and the world), but my camera can’t seem to do it justice. Apparently, this kind of fug is so powerful, it is also elusive. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that the colored lights drown out all the beautiful and poignant things I was trying to do with the ornaments, leaving me with just another tickety-tack fake Christmas tree.

The tiny gay man in my head was INCONSOLABLE.

That was about two weekends ago. Now that I’ve lived with the Holiday Monstrosity (as I’ve begun to call it) for almost two weeks, I’ve almost become attached to it in spite of myself (don’t tell the tiny gay man). I considered going out and buying new ornaments – some red, gold, and green things that may compliment all those dizzying colors better than my blues, whites, and silvers. I also considered buying some strings of white lights to put over the colored ones (which come attached to the tree). But then I thought… how completely out of the spirit could I be? I’ve already spent waaaay too much money on this venture (tree, ornaments, tree-skirt, etc.), how silly would I have to be to rationalize going out and spending even more? I should just be grateful I have a tree at all.

Yes, I may just have to learn to love this tree, in all its fugly glory. Maybe the lights don’t match the ornaments; maybe the colors are so loud and inappropriate they could trigger epilepsy; maybe the tree is listing to the left so much that it could renamed the Leaning Tower of Bethlehem; maybe all of these things.

But it’s still a Christmas tree and it’s still mine. And I love it (I think).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Orcs / Stan Nicholls...

This trilogy had a lot of potential Рa fantasy epic told from the perspective of a race of creatures often maligned in the literature. I usually love this twist on the standard canon (my favorite is probably Wicked by Gregory Maguire), but this one left my very disappointed. It started strong enough, but over about 800 pages, every clich̩, every derivative plot element, every undeveloped character started grating on my already impatient nerves.

I’m not saying I could write a better novel, but everything about this book seemed half-assed. By the end, I wanted to forget I had even read it. I don’t spoil endings, but the final 20 pages of this book turned this series from a half-way satisfactory read into a complete waste of time.

The first book is actually quite good. The characters are adequately motivated and the tension is well-paced. I wish I’d stopped there. By the middle of the third novel, I felt like I was reading the narrative attached to a bad platform video game. The action was transparent, predictable, and thus… boring. And seriously, how many times can one read the exact same fight scene?

I don’t make a habit of writing bad reviews, but I was so disappointed in this one that I felt the need to purge the bad energy. I feel better now.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Padalecki is shirtless… and rippling…

It took every ounce of willpower to resist typing that subject line in ALL CAPS!!

My reasons for posting a photo of an absolutely RIPPED Padalecki are two-fold. One: the obvious – he’s a favorite of mine and he’s shirtless, which equals obligatory post. Second: Li’l Sis and I were just discussing the Padalecki’s new trend towards Beefy and how that made us feel. I was decidedly thumbs up while she found it rather unsettling.

Indeed, Sam Winchester has been developing rapidly in the chest, back, and guns for several seasons of Supernatural, but it has been hard to gauge just how rapidly due to the show’s cruel tendency to dress him in bulky flannel. We got a little peek in a recent episode when he got down with a demon (mostly back and guns), but not enough to accurately assess just how much gym time he has been getting.

Now, thanks to this candid photo taken on the set of his new movie, Friday the 13th: Part AGAIN? REALLY?, we can tell just how intense those workouts have been.

I’m curious to know what Li’l Sis is thinking now… I’m sorry this post turned out to be an email to Li’l Sis (and to be honest, it kind of started that way), but I didn’t see any reason to be exclusive. The Padalecki is for everyone, after all.

So, what say you, Li’l Sis?

Pic Source:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

All my viral ladies…

Now put your hands up!

I just knew Beyonce’s single, Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), was going to be HEE-uge. And GOD I love it when I’m right.

A few short weeks after the video became available, the internet exploded with tributes and imitations, resulting in a frenzy of promotion that culminated in several fantastic live performances of the song on T.V. What Beyonce has figured out, along with Madonna, Lady Gaga, and P!nk, is that in order to actually sell records, the whole package has to be stellar – the very top of their game. Well, Beyonce has surely outdone herself with this single.

Great Song? Check.
Amazing Video? Check.
Brilliant live performances? Check.
Message that connects with her audience? Check.
All of the above perfectly packaged, mass-produced, and reasonably priced? Check, check, and check.

When I first saw the video, which may be my favorite video EVER!!, I remember thinking, “How is she going to recreate this in live performances?” I mean, I practically passed out afterwards, and I was just watching. How would Beyonce pull off singing and dancing this incredible routine?? The answer seems to be, by not singing and dancing. Well, more like, half singing and half dancing. I thought it would disappoint me, but after watching the SNL performance and her show-stopping turn on the American Music Awards, I think I’m totally OK with it.

My favorite part? Oh yes…

Don’t pull too hard, though, lest you pull out your weave, girl.

Beyonce’s ability to shine with this song in a live setting just confirms for me that this song will be a huge phenomenon. I got further proof today when I saw some of my co-worker’s playing around with the choreography in the break room. Get this: these co-workers are a 50 year old black woman, a thirty something white woman, and their assistants (two twenty something black girls). That white woman held her own, and it was obvious that the 50 year old woman not only knew the choreography, but had studied it in depth. For a moment, I didn’t feel weird about how many views I had logged on the video’s YouTube page. Clearly, I’m not the only one.

And yes, of course I joined them!

Indeed, this video/song/dance routine has struck a collective nerve across all ages and backgrounds. But no particular group loves it more than the gays on YouTube. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, hence the literally hundreds of videos of gay men strutting their stuff on the internets. Among all of them, I think my favorite is this one…

Applause, applause, applause. ALTHOUGH do put some clothes on, sister, because your man might be hard-pressed to put a ring on it if it’s wrapped in tissue in a zip-loc bag on its way to the ER to be re-attached to a blackened nub. Just sayin’.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, Tannenfug – Oh, Tannenfug…

Get excited! I purchased my very first Christmas tree this afternoon. It is green, it is festive and shiny. It is also fake (sorry, Li’l Sis).

I haven’t taken it out of the box yet, because I still haven’t decided how to decorate it. And there is still some discussion as to where it will go in my ever-so-small apartment. But trust… once it is up and fully decked with holly, I will post some pictures. The presents that go around it? Well, that’s entirely up to you guys.

As excited as I am about my new Christmas tree, please be assured that I, unlike Madonna, will never wear it to work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

*taps edge of wineglass with spoon*


*glares at everyone still running their mouths*

I say, AHEM!!!

I’d like to propose a toast.

Every year at this time, we gather together around a giant bird that’s been yanked, pulled, gored, and otherwise molested until it achieves the most glorious honor of sitting in the center of our table amongst mounds of various traditional side dishes for just a few moments before we rip into it like a pack of voracious, yet well-mannered, hyenas. But before we do, let us all take a moment to reflect on all the things for which we are thankful. I’ll go first.

I’m thankful for so many things, really. Britney Spears, whose new album drops on Dec. 2… the cute, argyle socks I bought at Target… pizza with cheese baked into the crust…

I’m also thankful for my 3-month old niece, who is destined to become the jewel of our bloodline and the savior of all things good and true… for the imminent return of Li’l Sis from across the wide ocean… for my family and friends… for my new job, which at the moment seems secure and exciting and fulfilling… for my health and independence…

But most of all, and I say this with the utmost sincerity, I’m thankful for Hugh Jackman.

May he continue to be hounded by photographers, now and forever.

Cheers! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

And speaking of Kristin Chenoweth...

I found this clip of Kristin singing the role of Cunegonde in Bernstein's Candide. This is from the "Live on Broadway" performance, and it's an amazing show; it's a mega-campified version of the operetta, at least, compared to what I'm used to. Anyway, I think it’s a perfect example of Kristin’s talents. She’s funny. She’s cute. And Dayum… girlfriend can sing. Enjoy!

B.T.Dubs… if you liked that and want to see more, the whole show is available on YouTube, starting here. Hey, if you have two hours to kill, there’s worse ways to spend your time. And if you watched the video, you spotted Patti LuPone, which means watching is obligatory.

Ironically enough…

One of my favorite shows, Pushing Daisies, is now… pushing daisies. Cheap, easy jokes aside, ABC announced today that they will not order more episodes for the show. While that’s not an official cancellation, it’s as good as such, so I’ll be wearing black tomorrow.

As much as I loved the show, I, along with practically everyone else, knew this was coming. The show, while still most excellent, had lost a little bit of its charm since the first season. We could blame the writers’ strike and the less than ideal timeslot, but I think the show probably did itself in. The whole idea behind the show: a cute, yet emotionally stunted pie-maker with the ability to raise the dead resurrects his murdered childhood sweetheart and they fall in love and make pies and attempt to build a life together despite the challenges of not being to touch and the girl having to stay in seclusion because everyone thinks she’s dead.

That’s a great story, no doubt, but every episode seems to rehash the same conflicts from the very first episode, and frankly, it gets old. The genius of the show, I think, lies in the ability of the writers to continuously introduce new obstacles and conflicts – Chuck’s relationship with her aunts, Olive’s unrequited love for Ned, and Ned’s eccentricities – against a backdrop of weekly adventures of murder/mystery/mayhem. And yet, that genius isn’t translating into viewers. I wonder of this show has fallen victim to the Serial Sickness, the unpredictable and lethal disease that plagues shows with a complicated plot and story-arcs lasting more than a week… A new viewer might find it difficult to jump in the middle, and meanwhile, the old viewers can’t stomach the constant rehashing and recapping. I mean, I’m a big fan, but if I have to hear Ned’s powers explained one more time, I may just tune out, too.

When you consider how bad the ratings have been for the second season, it’s easy to understand why ABC pulled the plug. Although, I wish they would let it finish out the rest of the season. The show won three Emmy’s, for god’s sake…

The good news, I suppose, would be the fanbase. Pushing Daisies has acquired a small but devoted fandom that will always be ready and willing to consume more. So the show might be dead, but the characters and story-lines will probably live on. There’s talk of a comic book, and perhaps even a movie. I would pay to see it, as long as the first 15 minutes aren’t spent explaining Ned’s powers… AGAIN!

All that said, I will miss this show very much… find out what and who I will miss most after the jump…

1. Lee Pace as Ned

Isn’t he a cutie? He’s such a good example of unconventionally attractive, I think. All the staples are there (tall, dark, handsome), but there’s a boyish, gawkish, nerdiness there too, which, when combined, equals swoon.

2. Chi McBride as Emerson Cod

This is just a brilliant character. He’s surly and sarcastic, but his heart is as big as his giant bald head. He also knits (big bonus). Most of the show’s best one-liners are uttered by Mr. McBride and his personal story-line has been particularly moving. I do hope we get to meet his daughter before the curtain goes down.

3. The styling

Much fuss was made about the show’s use of color, scenery, and music when it premiered, and rightly so… the vision and scope of the show are very ambitious. Considering the plot, this show could have gone very dark, but instead, everything is super-bright, super-fuzzy, and super-adorable. The whole production is visually stunning, and I’ll be sad to see that go away.

4. The Aunts

Talk about perfect casting. Swoosie Kurtz as the drunk, one-eyed menace and Ellen Greene as her withdrawn, sentimental sister are revelations on the small screen. If this show had performed better, they could have spun off their own show about synchronized swimming and highballs. Classic!

5. And finally, Kristin Chenoweth

This might be the saddest part of all! I love Kristin so much – it sucks that her first big chance at TV success has fallen away. I hope something else comes her way that is just as magical and perfectly suited to her. Her rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You was one of the main reasons I fell in love with this show, and I’ll never forget Olive Snook’s adventures in the nunnery.

Oh, HUSH! Of course I love Anna Friel.

I’m not worried about her at all. She’s gorgeous and talented – she’ll find work again very soon.

And since I’ve managed to mention the entire cast, I’d be remiss to leave out Digby.

Dear, sweet, undead dog, Digby: I will miss you most of all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gawd, I can't help myself...

But I must post this picture of Sarah Brightman...

I mean, how much does that outfit even weigh? Not many divas can pull off a stage costume that is so sculptural it's almost an architectural masterpiece. Well, I don't know about masterpiece, but it's something to look at. That's for sure.

... I was going to say more, but I think my eyes need to vomit.

pic via Go Fug Yourself.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My latest purchazzies…


With the possible exception of Sex and the City, Wall-E is my favorite movie of 2008. It seems fitting that this film was the first movie I ever attended in the theatres solo. It felt like a personal experience. For once, I didn’t have to defend my opinion about it afterwards, which helped me retain my first impression of complete and total adoration.

As far as animated movies go, Disney has always worn the anthropomorphic crown, and this movie adds another jewel. Even though Wall-E communicates only in clicks and whistles, he is a fully-realized three-dimensional character, capable of owning the screen for more than half of the movie by sheer charm and wit. I’d say he is more relatable than most screen actors are, and they have the advantage of being, like… real and stuff. I loved him so much by the end of the film; I wanted to cuddle with him like a stuffed animal, if such a thing wouldn’t result in bruising and smashed-in teeth.

When I watched the movie for the first time, I barely noticed the environmental messages, which seemed to take over the discussion during the movie’s run. Maybe it didn’t take a whole lot of suspension of belief on my part to be convinced that the planet may, at some point in the future, be overrun with garbage… enough garbage to necessitate a full-scale evacuation of the human race. I don’t know – it just doesn’t seem farfetched to me.

Maybe I was just glad that Wall-E was a nice trash-collecting robot after somehow developing sentience. If it were me, I would have been pissed.

Enya, And Winter Came

Umm… WOW!!

Have I said it enough? I love… love… LOVE this lady. I knew in my gut that she would totally own the Holiday genre, and sure enough, this might be my favorite Christmas album of all time (sorry, Mariah).

There are only two traditional Christmas songs on the album: O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Oiche Chiuin (Silent Night). Both are exquisitely arranged in that they are true to the originals but indelibly marked by Enya’s unique sound and aesthetic. I’m particularly enraptured by Oiche Chiuin, which is a deceptively simple chorale arrangement of the hymn. Gaelic is such a beautiful language as it is, but with Enya’s trademark swelling and harmonies, it’s almost other worldly. This is what I want to hear right before I’m welcomed into the Magical Discotech in the Sky.

Also on the album are some attempts at original Christmas carols, including White Is in the Winter Night and One Toy Soldier. The first is all sleighbells, mistletoe, and other holiday references; an upbeat celebration of the sight and sounds of Christmas. One Toy Soldier is a fantastic piece which conjures the warm memories of Christmas morning, complete with brand new toys waiting under the tree. Another stellar track is Last Time By Moonlight, in which two lovers pause during a stroll under the stars and beg one another to remember this moment forever, because no one knows what lies ahead.

Throughout the album, Enya and her lyricist, Roma Ryan, continue to be fascinated by colors, nature scenes, and the seasons of the year. The album feels like a natural progression of all her preceding albums, which seems to corroborate with my theory that Enya is actually writing a massive song-cycle that we won’t really understand until her entire body of work is released. God, I hope I never see that day.

Will and Grace: 8th and final season

I’ve been waiting patiently (or not so patiently, akshully) for the final season of Will and Grace to be released ever since I let it get past me when it originally aired. I think I might have been waiting tables, and there’s yet another reason to be bitter about that.

Most of my favorite memories of college are locked up in this show *winks at Erin*, so rifling my way through these final episodes was a very sentimental experience, to say the least. I can’t begin to explain how much this show informs my own humor and sensibilities, but if I ever have to tell people what I find funny, this show is always the first example.

The last season, unfortunately, is probably the weakest opus in the set. It’s understandable, I suppose. The actors seem bored, the writing is tired, and the jokes just don’t hit like they used to – probably because most of them are the exact same jokes as before. From Season 4 through 6, this show seemed to rely on stunt-casting to keep it fresh, with decent results (there were only a few misfires (Madonna (yeah, I said it))), but by the time Taye Diggs was brought in to play Will’s love interest, it felt desperate… even though I love me some Taye Diggs.

All that said, I thought Season 8, along with the amazing finale, wrapped my favorite show up satisfactorily. That finale was something, wasn’t it? I know a lot of people hate sentiment in finales, especially from characters who don’t normally act sentimentally, but this show always had a chewy, creamy center, so why not let it end sweetly? The finale tried to answer the question that hung over the show since its inception: can a gay man and a straight woman really have a life-long friendship (that isn’t completely unhealthy and destructive to both)? The idea of Will and Grace seems to say, “Yes, it can”, but I think what it’s trying to say is, “Yes, I hope it can.” The obstacles facing a hag and her fag are unique and kind of unexplored in mainstream culture. The show did explore many of these obstacles through its run, and all of them ended well for the most part, which, let’s face it, doesn’t happen in real life. Trust me. The finale presents us with Will and Grace facing the classic killer of relationships such as thiers, which is: despite all their efforts to be everything for the other, neither will ever feel complete without non-platonic love.

In the finale, Will and Grace face this challenge, and for once, they do as they should: they fall apart and lose touch. Such is the life-cycle of a fruit and his fly. Buuuut, since it just can’t end like that, Will and Grace meet up again later in life, because, of all things, their kids meet in college and get married. Yeah, like that would ever happen. But it’s sweet and fantastical and SOBS.

As for me, I do believe a gay man and a straight woman can be life-long friends. That is, as long as both parties are mature and stable and relatively independent. I’m sure those kinds of people exist, although I can’t say I’ve met one. The truth is, and I believe Karen Walker said it best, “Every relationship between a gay man and a straight woman has an expiration date.” I can testify that truer words have never been spoken. Heartbreaking… but true.

What isn’t heartbreaking? My collection, which is now…

... complete.

Please forgive me posting a picture of my Will and Grace collection, of all things. When did I get so nerdy?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Prop 8 and why I’m glad it passed…

I wrote this post about a week ago after a heartrending two hours worth of videos and commentaries concerning the fallout of the passage of Proposition 8 in California. I hesitated to post it because it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the blog, and I’m so hell-bent on keeping things light around here. But this is important. I don’t live in a battleground state and I don’t have the time or the money to travel to one of the national protests, so this is just my way of voicing how I feel about this issue. No matter what side of the argument you are on, it is safe to say that these issues – gay rights, same-sex marriage, civil rights – affect us all, and for me personally, these issues affect me daily in intense emotional ways, so you can’t blame me for hopping on my soapbox every now and then.

You might not read the same blogs I do, but I have followed the Prop 8 story from the beginning. Of all places in the country to do it, some Californians were attempting to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a measure provoked by the state’s Supreme Court ruling which called such a ban unconstitutional six months previously. At first, the proposition was largely ignored; similar initiatives had failed in the past, others had passed but were overturned, and many believed the most liberal state in the union would take no part in discrimination. But with the financial help of the Catholic Church, the Mormons, and other religious organizations/individuals around the country, the proposition began to gather more and more steam. Only when the polls began to show a startling amount of support for the proposition did the opposition fully organize. But it was too late. On Nov. 4, 2008, the same day the country elected its first African-American President, the gay rights movement was flung backwards on its ass. Hard.

The same-sex marriage issue is tricky. It’s a mish-mash of clashes. It’s religion vs. civil rights. It’s tradition vs. progress. It’s church vs. state. This kind of debate divides whole communities of people, from the small family unit all the way up to the national political parties. And with the passing of Prop 8 in California, the argument has finally come to a head.

That’s why I’m glad Prop 8 passed. Don’t get me wrong… I was devastated at first. For the past three election cycles, states have put the question of same-sex marriage on the ballot, all of which resulted in bans. I don’t know the number, but for the most part, same-sex marriage is illegal from sea to shining sea. It wasn’t easy to stomach the first time, and watching the citizens of California do it all over again made me ill.

But the outcome has been more than satisfactory.

In the life-cycle of every civil rights movement, there is a moment of stand-off; the moment when the proverbial wall goes up. I believe the passage of Prop 8 is THE WALL. This moment has been a long time in coming for the GLBT community in America. For so many years, gay people have been inching slowly – from tolerance, to acceptance, to understanding – toward the ultimate goal of full and equal treatment under the law. For too long, gay people have accepted the fact that they are second-class citizens, subjected to the tyranny of a bigoted, uneducated, morally self-righteous majority. For too long, gay people haven’t felt safe enough or strong enough to confront their enemies. Well… no more.

The passage of Prop 8 built a wall, indeed, but it also opened a floodgate. That flood WILL force that wall down, and with it, the injustices that have plagued the gay community for decades.

So here’s this Wall. If you aren’t lucky enough to be gay or a religious fundamentalist, you get to make a choice. You’ve been lucky for the past 20 years or so, because aside from the occasional outburst, the discrimination of gay people has been the status quo. But the time is coming when you will have to stand up and announce which side of the wall you are on. It’s a difficult choice – you’ll have to think about all the gay people you have known and maybe loved. You’ll have to think about the years and years you’ve spent listening to preachers/priests demonize the love that can exist between two men or two women. You’ll have to decide what is more important to you – equality or religion. And once you’ve chosen, will you be willing to accept the consequences?

I have no doubt – NONE – that the fallout of Prop 8 will ultimately lead to the federal legalization of same-sex marriage. It might not be next year or ten years from now, but it’s on its way. The gays around this country are organizing, protesting, reaching out to those who continue to misunderstand our lives and stories, and since I have faith in America and everything she represents, I know we will win. That’s why I’m glad Prop 8 passed – it has given the gay rights movement a solid foundation from which to throw an Almighty Tantrum, and we will NEVER shut up about it.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Land Down Under...

I don’t know if I overdid it with the movies over the summer, but I haven’t been interested in seeing ANYTHING lately. I can’t remember the last time I was so disconnected from the recent releases. If I’m crazy and missing out on some kick ass cinema, please do let me know, but I tell you… most of them seem like rentals to me, and even then, just maybe rentals. Sidebar: my Netflix is seriously glutted out at the moment.

There is one movie I’m really pumped about. I’m talking about Australia.

War. Romance. Scenery. Aboriginal orphans. Nikki Kidman prim yet dirty. Hugh Jackman sweaty and shirtless. What else is there? WHAT ELSE!?!

I’ve yet to see a Baz Luhrmann flick I didn’t love (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!), and I just love me a giant, epic period film. And HUGH JACKMAN!!

Watching this trailer made me think of another brilliant movie which is also a giant, epic period film starring Nicole Kidman. It’s an oldie: Far and Away. That was back when Tom Cruise was still a person and Nicole still had all the fat in her face. [sigh] Good times.


The movie comes out Nov. 26.

After the cut, some gorgeous shoots from the July issue of Vogue…

Return the Favor – Keri Hilson

Well, Timbaland has done it again. God, this guy is good to me.

This girl, Keri Hilson, is everywhere – and has been for almost two years. She’s like one of those actors you see in every other movie but never know her name. From cameos in other artists’ videos, to songwriting credits on tons of tracks, to collabs with all the hot male pop stars… she has certainly worked her way through the industry. She first caught by eyes and ears when she worked with Timbaland on his solo album, especially The Way I Are (possibly my favorite song on that record), so I’ve been looking forward to her solo debut for what seems like forever.

Forever is exactly right. Get this – her album, entitled In a Perfect World had an initial release date of 3rd quarter 2007, so my question is: what’s the hold up, girl? I’m really curious to find out what is going on at her label. She keeps building up good press and then…no record. Hardly good for business.

Anyway, Return the Favor is actually the second single from the album, the first being Energy, also produced by Timbaland, and also a terrific track. I think this one is better, though. First of all, the synth hook is SICK; it catches me immediately and sucks me in. So much so I don’t even mind the inane Hey-Hey-Hey’s that make up the bulk of the song. And far be it from me to critique Timbaland, since I apparently love everything he does, but why does he have to look so creepy in the video? He’s got a lecherous next door neighbor, illegally hooking up cameras in her bedroom window kind of vibe happening, which I could totally do without. Now that I think about it, that might have been the whole point, but it’s still creepy.

I’m pulling for Keri big time. I mean, I can never have enough pop divas, now can I? Also, she seems like a good blend of Rihanna and Nelly Furtado, and she writes her own material, which is a bonus.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Can!!

And, yeah, we totally DID!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ah, Democracy [sniffs]…

Can you smell it?

Maybe it’s the chemical smell of a freshly sealed gym floor in the physical education annex of your neighborhood middle school…

Maybe it’s the peanut butter sandwich you packed in a brown bag because you sacrificed your lunch break so your three student interns could take the day off to drive home to pull the lever…

Maybe it’s the acrid, fetid reek of B.O. wafting from the guy standing next to you in line at the polls…

Maybe it’s the warm, welcoming smell of a Meat Lovers pizza, because you’ll be damned if you miss even a second of the election coverage, so cooking is out of the question…

Suck it all in, folks. LOVE IT! This is liberty and it’s delicious.

I would hope that everyone reading this has already made up their minds as to whom will receive their vote tomorrow, but just in case

Here’s my favorite political ad from the entire election season. It’s not an official campaign ad, but it stands out for me, and not just because it references a beloved musical…

I don’t know about you, but this commercial is totally speaking my language.

Ok, maybe it IS just because it references a musical. But I get chills every time! I have to ask myself, though, would a similar ad from the McCain camp have moved me? I’m picturing the same concept but maybe with Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof instead of One Day More from Les Mis. Hmmm….

Anyway, I hope everyone has a fulfilling and relatively stress-free election day. It’s been an insanely long campaign and I think everyone’s emotions are pulled tighter than Cindy McCain’s face. I’m super ready for it all to be over.

Speaking of voting… I’ve been nominated for Best Pop Culture Blog over at the Spartanburg Spark. In the spirit of the day, why not follow the link over and throw me a bone (left hand column, about halfway down)?? If elected, I promise even more insightful, funny, absolutely bat-shit crazy pop culture posts, and I won’t even charge you for them.

God Bless this blog! And God Bless America!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Reeva Dubois's Depression Survival Kit: Part 3 - Enya

I have to be careful with my Enya albums when I’m depressed. Depending on where the needle on the Doom-o-meter is pointing, a few hours of Enya could make me feel worse. However, if I can somehow strike up the Orinoco Flow when my mood is in an upswing, she goes a long way towards helping me bounce back completely.

Enya has been on my mind a lot lately, and not just because I’ve been listening to her stuff practically non-stop for three weeks, but because she has a new album coming out later this month. I pretty much live for new Enya albums. I was lucky enough to catch on to her in the early 90’s, so I was only a few albums late to the party. Thus, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of enjoying the suspenseful anticipation of five new albums, and lemme tell you, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – as gratifying as walking into a record store on the release date of a new Enya album and blasting it full volume in the car on your way home.

If you’re a fan of Enya, you know that she has a distinct sound. I own everything she has ever produced, but even if I didn’t, I’m pretty sure I could recognize something by Enya immediately. The haters try to say that all Enya songs sound the same, and you know, I can understand that sentiment, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Enya is working in a medium, like how some artists work in oil or charcoal. The elements of her work are usually the same from piece to piece, but each piece is unique and masterful. I credit her melodies for this. She really is a genius when it comes to melody. They are all so simple and straight-forward, and yet sublime… it’s pretty amazing when you think about it. She is equally gifted when it comes to chord structures and harmonic motion, and I think that explains how she is able to make these melodies transcend their simplicity and bloom into grand musical gestures that send chills up and down my spine and maybe even make me cry.

A personal example of my deeply affectionate relationship with Enya’s music can be found in the song Angeles, from the album, Shepherd Moons.

I’m not usually one for superstition, but I’ve had a ritual with this song for as long as I’ve known about it, and it’s never let me down. I’ve listened to this song before many of the more trying moments in my life; when I’m anxious, nervous, stressed out beyond belief, really angry, terrified, you name it… I put on this song and just sit still and it centers me. The combination of the words and music is so incredibly peaceful and comforting… it’s kind of like a tranquilizer. All that said, I avoid this song if I’m sad, because one minute of it is like being pushed on to the train tracks of hysteria in front of a raging locomotive of doom and it’s a long way back from there, so it’s better just not to go there at all. You know?

Aaaanyway, here we are again, a new Enya album. It’s a winter-themed album, which is just so marvelously appropriate for Enya, I’m surprised she hasn’t done it before. Titled, And Winter Came, it was apparently conceived as a Christmas album, but as the work progressed became more of a seasonal collection about the cold, the death/life cycle, and the holidays in general. Why am I explaining this when Enya released an interview laying it all out for you? Do click here… it’s a fascinating interview and she’s so pretty, isn’t she?

The first single is called Trains and Winter Rains, and as usual, it’s breathtaking.

After the jump, a few more of my fav Enya tracks, just for kicks…

Book of Days from Shepherd Moons

China Roses from The Memory of Trees

Pigrim from A Day Without Rain

If I Could Be Where You Are from Amarantine

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reeva Dubois’s Depression Survival Kit: Part 2 – Jigsaw Puzzles

When I’m down and out, all I want to do is shut out the entire world. You know, metaphorically roll the rock in front of my man-cave. That doesn’t mean I sit in the dark, muttering to myself, peeling off my skin, or pulling out my hair (wait, scratch that – I do pull out my hair), because that would imply I actually like being depressed. Well, I don’t. That’s why the jigsaw puzzle is the most powerful weapon in my anti-depression arsenal. I put on my earphones, crank up the tunes, and throw myself completely into a new puzzle. There’s something very therapeutic about starting a project and finishing it. I don’t get that kind of gratification from knitting (most projects take me forever) or writing (it involves too much thinking). With puzzles, I get to disappear into mindless occupation – the hours pass quickly, I forget the garbage that’s pissing me off, and when I’m done I have a new, pretty something to look at. Or if it’s not pretty, I can destroy it, which is fun, too.

Little known fact about me, I’m kind of a puzzle shark. Since that isn’t something you brag about at parties, I’m not sure if I’m any faster than anyone else, but I feel like I’m fast. That’s because I have a strategy. Ah yes... a strategy.

No big secret: the trick to getting a puzzle done quickly is all in the sorting. I’ve found that if I spend a good chunk of time getting to know the puzzle before I start putting it together, the whole thing comes together like lightning.
The first thing I do is sort out the border, which… duh, right? But as I’m doing that, I’m also looking at each and every piece of the puzzle body, mentally sorting them all into different categories. Once the border is put together, which we can all agree is the easy part, I then roll out the rest of the pieces – turning them all right side up and spacing them across my puzzle surface. Once that’s done, I can look at the big picture. I can estimate how many pieces are caught up in all the various components of the puzzle, and from there, plan my attack.

For example, if I’m doing a seascape or something, odds are a lot of the pieces will be blue or watery, so there’s no point in sorting that crap. Rather, I’ll look around the entire surface and see if I can’t organize them into different groups of fishies or plants. If there’s a small item like an anchor that only involves 10 pieces, why not go ahead and throw it together? By tackling the smaller, obvious things first, and getting them situated within the border, you’d be surprised how quickly the pieces start to fly together.

Of course, if you’re a masochist and have picked up one of those puzzles that doesn’t have borders and/or features hundreds of similarly colored animals or flowers or babies or trees or whatever, then you really do have to sort – and quite methodically. Otherwise you’re just trying each piece randomly against the next, which isn’t really doing a puzzle so much as slowly losing your mind.

The hardest traditional puzzle I ever tackled was a mountain scape of the Rockies. It was all white-capped majesty and rock and snow and sky. There was nothing to attack right off the bat, so I spent the entire first evening sorting out the sky from the mountain bases from the snow-covered trees, and that took care of a little less than half of the pieces, but then I was stuck with the other half which were distinguishable ONLY by slightly different gradients of white and gray. That puzzle nearly killed me, it’s true, but I still knocked it out in about three days. Why? Sorting.

Anyway, for this bout of melancholy, I found a most intriguing challenge: a photomosiac puzzle. I’d seen these around, but had never attempted one, mostly because I thought it would be incredibly frustrating to deal with a big picture and thousands of smaller pictures to boot. But I got suckered in by the finished product, quite understandably, because it was Snoopy.

So here’s the play-by-play…

Night 1

Night 2

Night 3

Night 4

One more puzzle after the jump...

A little bit later, I totally killed this puzzle. There's no play-by-play because I knocked it out in one night. I sh*t you not. 1,000 pieces in one night. I was very proud of myself, but my eyes wouldn't focus for about two days after.

This one was easy, admittedly. There were very obvious ways to attack it. First I sorted out all the pieces that made up the element banners on the sides. Then I took care of the words along the top. Since the four paintings on the corners were kind of hard to distinguish from one another, I tackled the map next, starting with the different colored continents. The ocean took the longest, because a lot of the pieces were exactly the same. But once I'd put together the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, it was breezy from there.

God, I need to get out more.

Reeva Dubois’s Depression Survival Kit: Part 1 – Pop Divas

I shouldn’t have to explain how or why I love Pop Divas. I’m gay so it’s kind of a given. I think it’s in the by-laws.

It’s been a huge year for my favorite female pop acts. Earlier in the year, we had new stuff from Britney, Madonna, Robyn, Kylie and Cyndi Lauper. Now, I have the pleasure of sifting through new stuff from Britney (prolific, isn’t she?), Lady Gaga, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Hudson, Christina, Pink, Keri Hilson… and (SQUEEEEE) Beyonce.

The new videos and singles have been shooting out of my computer like poison darts of pop pleasure, and I’ve been hard pressed to keep up. I’m tempted to do a massive video post (which I’ll probably do later), but now I just want to talk about Beyonce. Why? Because her new video for Single Ladies is, like… the best video I’ve ever seen.

This video is like crack for me. Seriously. I have to watch it once an hour or so. The first time I saw it, I was sitting at my computer with my eyes bugging out of my head, maybe with a little bit of drool coming out of my mouth, paralyzed by the FIERCE!

The Song
To be completely honest, the song barely registered with me at first; I was hypnotized by the amazing legs and Beyonce’s crazy metal glove. But I gotta say, this song is insanely catchy – it’s like Beyonce sneezed and then shook my hand. I didn’t know it was happening, but now I have the song totally memorized.

The Styling
The matching black leotards against the black, white and gray backgrounds are sharp and sleek. The hair piled on top and flowing down the back is simultaneously sexy and super-classy. The decision to film in black and white on a bare soundstage is genius; all the attention is on the choreography.

The Choreography
Shut up! I mean, just SHUT UP! Best choreography I’ve ever seen. There isn’t a single arbitrary step. Every movement reflects the words. Every series of movements reflects the music. There is inevitability to the motions, from the opening steps to the final pose. It’s all about the ring and what this crazy man is missing because he didn’t put it on Beyonce.

The Concept
Ok, so the idea of a Diva with two sexy hench-ladies isn’t new, but the amazing chemistry these three ladies have together quite literally blasts out of the screen. Not to mention all three are amazing dancers with killer bodies. I’ve already mentioned the legs, but I can’t emphasize it enough – those stems almost made me straight. Anyway, what I love about all of it is this: everything makes sense. Every creative choice, from the lighting, to the camera movements, to Beyonce’s one bare shoulder – it’s all flawless. This is a case of everything just working. Don’t you love it when that happens?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice. I’m learning the choreography so I can show it off at the clubs. I’m pretty sure that’s in the by-laws, too.

Who am I kidding? I’m not even close to being done with this. Here are some of my favorite moments…