My friend Carly is holding this one-of-a-kind fundraiser for RAINN (seriously, I've never seen anything like this done before) targeted specifically at bloggers (as in, people with an actual blog -- recently I've seen "bloggers" used to refer to those who comment on blogs and "blogging" as reading blogs, which I guess really underlines the communal aspect of the medium, but just seems weird to me). ANYWAY! I told her I'd help her get the word out on it and so here it is:
Carly’s book, Sexography, is both a tragic and comedic memoirs about her journey of sexual self-discovery. And now, it’s your turn to blog your own version of Sexography. Even if you’re not a “sex writer” per se, we want to encourage you to explore the comedy, fear, silliness, scariness, million-and-one emotions and million-and-one experiences that are mental, physical, emotional and spiritual, all of which make up the rich tapestry of sexuality. So if you want to write about how your dog watches you masturbate or how you can't stand porn or about your first time or what you think of sex in the media and how it affects you personally, you should. What you write about is up to you, just as long as it falls under the “sexuality” header. Personal stories about survival are strongly encouraged.
For each Sexography blog entry you post, you’ll be soliciting donations for RAINN from the readers you entertain and engage with your commentary. But the best part? Not only will you be helping an incredible cause, but the bloggers who come in first, second and third place for most funds raised will nab fabulous prizes.
There's plenty of more info on how to take part here. If you don't have a blog, but want to donate to the cause anyway, you can do so here (make sure you note "GBBMC2008" in the info box).
If you asked me a month ago how the idea of a Madonna-Justin Timberlake duet struck me, I'd tell you, "Like my own personal hell." The two of them annoy me so much that choosing between them would be like choosing between blindness and deafness. Together, that would seem to yield pop experience with all the anguish of a Hellen Keller-like existence, minus the opportunity for blissful retreat.
But no, I was wrong. I'm so glad that I gave a chance to "4 Minutes," the first single from Madonna's Hard Candy and one of several Justin/Timbaland collaborations on the album. Not that I wouldn't have, anyway -- for someone who's as bothered by social injustice as I am, hating something out of principle (even if that something is as negligible as a pop song) is flat-out hypocritical. Plus, to hate blindly would be to merely invert the mechanism within some very vocal Madonna fans that drives me so crazy, which is the blind love. And since I was wished death via AIDS, among hexes, the last time I expressed that (way back when this blog still had its baby legs), the last thing I want to do is act like one of those people.
Now that I'm done patting myself on the back, allow me to dole out more pats for Madonna, Justin and Timberland for the tremendous song they've created. "4 Minutes" is amazing, addictive and if not better than, then a wonderful representation of the sum of its parts: this ain't no Helen Keller, it's a straight-up Voltron formation. Present are so many concepts that tend to annoy me Madonna's output of the past 15 years or so: she's so far past telling us what's cool (back in the day, when she showed the world the Lower East Side and vouging) that she's now telling us what we already like. (Like, seriously? It took her this long to hook up with Timbaland? And oooh, how edgy, busting out the Timberlake.) The track itself doesn't trail blaze, it doesn't even sound particularly now -- it's a combo of the colorless just-dancey-enough-to-not-offend-the-menopausal breaky stuff Tim did for Nelly Furtado two years ago (like in "Promiscuous") and the marching band/drumline sound that flared up R&B radio for a minute even before that (best represented by Destiny's Child's "Lose My Breath"). Its lyrics are of such little consequence (sample: "(Madonna:) Come on boy / I've been waiting for somebody / To pick up my stroll (Justin:) Well don't waste time Give me a sign Tell me how you wanna roll (Madonna:) I want somebody to speed it up for me / Then take it down slow / There's enough room for both...") that they might as well go something like, "We're sitting here / in a booth / After signing paperwork regarding our collaboration / Singing into a microphone / A song that will be released and hopefully resurrect Madonna's career in the U.S. market although she still sells well in Europe and such."
But I guess this is a case of (pop) stars aligning because all of those elements are, in fact, the song's strengths. I kid with the "We're sitting here / in a booth..." bit, but really, "4 Minutes" is not very far from being that self-referential. The title refers to the song's length and I'm taking the hook ("We only got 4 minutes to save the world!") as a verbalization of the burden a pop star takes on with each single. But don't let those horns fool you -- they soar so high, they could leap a building in a single bound, but Madonna, Justin and Timbaland (who symbolize, however loosely, the past, present and future of pop music, respectively) aren't out to save the world. They're out to take it over. "4 Minutes" is maniacally engineered to be consumed and adored, from its not-overly-hip production to the fact that Justin gets to sing the gorgeous, heart-stopping hook on a record that supposedly belongs to Madonna. He is, after all, the bigger star, the safe bet, the no-brainer. There's a simultaneously by-any-means-necessary and self-aware philosophy to hitmaking that's going on, and I can't help but admire the savvy of everyone involved.
"4 Minutes" may implicitly comment on public taste or the state of pop in '08, but the song's biggest feat is that it manages to pull out every stop imaginable without seeming desperate or cluttered. This is because in the end, the song is about nothing more than itself. It's like a Warhol of a Warhol, and I'm genuinely excited to see what will come of this pop-Voltron's next 11 minutes.
In a way, Marvita had to go. That hair was becoming more unmanageable by the episode.
Potes called it, Marvita saw to it: that shit wasn't a horse mane, it was a mullet. And on someone as butch as Marvita, it made her look a mere spoke away from a Dykes on Bikes parade. I fear that in one more episode, she would have had that spoke.
Not that there's anything wrong with that! Here, girl: have the denim jacket and non-matching denim shirt you're crying out for:
Did you know that there's such a thing as Easter Monday? My sister was telling me about it this weekend -- people use the excuse of Easter to get out of responsibilities on the following Monday. Works for me! There's no recap today, as I was home this weekend overdosing on chocolate doing family stuff. It's inevitable as an expanding waistline, though. Look for it Tuesday.
I don't know if you saw the premiere of the kid-star/stage-mom elimination-based reality show I Know My Kid's a Star last night, but I had to write about it for work and that turned out to be...well, not really work at all. This show, in all of its shameless glory, appeals to me on a very basic level. Stage parents are endless sources of extreme human behavior, and extremity is never not fascinating to me. It's often hard to fight off nausea in response to what they to do their kids, but looking away proves to be a much harder task. I don't like to talk so much about my work in this space, but the simple fact is that I would be covering this show on this blog even if I weren't being paid to do so. You can read my recap here. I really hope this show can keep up the momentum, although it's going to be hard to top a Steven Tyleresque woman in a cowboy hat and a short denim skirt asking her daughter, "What? Is my tampon showin'?"
But the real real reason behind this post is the excuse to mention another stage-parents reality show, which captured my heart before I had this space to proclaim my love for it. Showbiz Moms & Dads was a situation-based/"candid" (i.e. non-competition) 6-part reality series that ran on Bravo in 2004. I loved it like a theater queen loves jazz hands. It followed five families on their search for fame and validation, and while each storyline had its moments of sheer unbelievability, my favorite stuff was that which chronicled the feminine "heterosexual" Duncan Nutter, who moved his mannish wife and often-uncomfortable seven children from a house in Vermont to a 2-bedroom in Queens to pursue his dream of acting. There are few words to actually convey the insanity, and since SM&D aired in pre-YouTube times, I assembled a clip reel to convey his specialness. If you need to know anything about this before going into it, it's that he openly calls himself a "Mary."
Also, I have big love for Debbie Klingensmith and her boy-band-aspiring son, Shane. She is as full of rage as he is of awkward-inducing pubescent hormones. A similar clip reel follows. I would just like to state that for the past four years, there's been nary a week that I haven't said to myself or others, "People in the party, hot hot hot!" and/or "I'm a choreographer, OK? I know what I'm doing...I want you to hop back in unison like this. Like a bunny." It's more relevant than you might expect.
Once again, my YouTube account has been permanently disabled. But this time it's bullshit for real! Basically, you get two chances to violate YouTube's delicate sensibilities before they kick you to the curb. The videos that I posted that led to my dismissal were:
1. A clip of INLAND EMPIRE that was removed virtually immediately (I'm assuming Lynch has some flag on his shit that allows YouTube to weed it out quickly). This was annoying, but hardly surprising: if Lynch is just getting into the habit of putting chapter stops on his movies' DVDs, you can't really expect him to be cool with people digesting mere nuggets of his work on the Internet.
2. A clip from Fall From Grace, a documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church, in which children talk about how terrible gay people are. This was flagged not for copyright infringement, but because it contained hate speech. This was also a crock of shit, considering the prevalence of coverage of the Phelps family on YouTube and exhaustive coverage of Prussian Blue. Well, that, and the common sense that presenting something and endorsing it are very different activities. The powers that be at YouTube are giving the compassion-impaired members of their community a run for their money in the logic department.
3. Footage of Sally Shapiro and her producer being shitty hack DJs at the Mercury Lounge. This is the lamest possible death blow. This one was flagged for copyright infringement, although I'm not sure what exactly needs to be protected. I find it hard to believe that anyone got worked up about the shitty dance-rock remix of Annie's years-old "Heartbeat" that was playing. So what's left? Sally Shapiro's likeness? In my fantasy, getting this (and ultimately, me) pulled from YouTube was a bid (by her label or her producer or herself) to preserve her mystique. That would make her supposed shyness at least as shticky if not more so than the normal self-promotion that someone with her job does. You know, as if I could have less respect for her whole...business, now this comes along. Inane. So inane, that I'm posting a downloadable file of that boring-ass clip just out of spite. Download it here and experience my downfall.
When I found out that my account was deleted again yesterday morning, I got really down. But then, I listened to this hyper-happy-house remix of Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," and, for real, everything was better. This isn't worth the temper tantrum I threw when this happened a little over a year ago. I have hard copies of everything that was deleted, so no work was lost. What was lost were thousands of comments that more than likely were moronic and/or included the word "fagit." Also: numbers -- video views, subscribers, friends. I don't need any of that -- worrying about public stats is worrying about appearances, and I'm not begging YouTube to restore my account for the sake of vanity. It's too meaningless to warrant effort.
Because it's just going to get deleted again. And again and again, and whatever. I started a new account already under the name richfofo. I will reupload what was deleted and then replace the dead links on this blog. It is tedious, but not hard work, and I sort of like how the Sisyphean nature of this task underlines how pointless the Internet and I are.
I made the following video with the intent of proving that the verses of Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body" sound like Pebbles Flintstone's baby babble. The biggest discovery during the making of it, however, is that Pebbles was kind of a ho.
Download! Download this, since YouTube's taking "Touch My Body" videos down.
I'm sure you won't believe this, but I'm saying it anyway: Neil Marshall's pseudo-post-apocalyptic plaguesploitation horror-action-gorefest Doomsday is a beautiful thing. I can think of no more succinct way to describe it than by saying that it is to dismemberment what Showgirls is to nipples. I don't remember the last time I felt a movie tickle my gut like this -- perhaps it was when I cackled my way through Umberto Lenzi's gloriously incompetent Nightmare City last summer? That'd make sense, at least, as Doomsday, whether it knows it or not, is an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-and-the-entrails-we-left-in-it-after-our-cannibal-dinner homage to the notorious Brit video nasties that I'm now positive provided a part of the director's balanced breakfast. Essentially, it does for '80s VHS d-movie shlock what Planet Terror did for cinematic grindhouse shlock, and then goes one better by giving Death Proof a run for its money with a car chase. Out of a castles-and-all medieval milieu. Against a band of gothy devil's rejects. In a Bentley.
I'm getting ahead of myself, but it really doesn't matter because the preposterous plot, something like 28 Days Later for people not smart enough to read a calendar, is all over the place anyway. Some crazy plague breaks out in Great Britain, causing a section of the country to be closed off (we understand just how closed off it is when a metal gate separating from the infected from the healthy closes on a guy's fingers and dismembers them for our enjoyment). Years later, the plague infiltrates the safe area, and so Eden, a hot babe who's equal parts Kate Beckinsale, Lara Croft and Victoria Beckham (played Germanly by Rhona Mitra), heads an army into the quarantined zone to find out why people are still alive in there.
I knew this movie was onto something in the first five minutes when David O'Hara, as some kind of head of state, mumbled and mumbled and mumbled political strategy in a way that suggested he read the role as a more wooden version of The Simpsons' McBain, who's a more wooden version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Making the display even harder to believe is that a lot of it happens alongside Bob Hoskins, who's overacting hard enough to give the Golden Razzie Awards academy a daunting task when they go to select the clip to play alongside his Worst Actor nomination.
That's when I knew I liked it -- I knew I loved it when, in a display of how the wall between the sick and infected is automated by motion-detecting guns, we see a bunny hop into frame only to explode before our eyes courtesy of that automated sharp-shooter. They kill a bunny! For no reason except to be excessive! What is not to love? (I should add that as we're in the no-animals-were-hurt-in-the-making-of-this-film era, the shot is clearly fake and that's why it's hilarious, lest you think I'm totally sick, which you probably do anyway).
The brain-tickling game of Guess the Intent is in full gear throughout the ensuing parade of excess. There is communal cannibalism. There's a bond between two lovers on the bad-guy side that can't be severed, even though one of their heads is. There are computer graphics whose level of sophistication can be summed up in two words: Coleco Vision. There is a Fine Young Cannibals song ("Good Thing!") played during the gothy bad guys' pre-human roasting ritual (sort of a Cirque du Dirty Hair). There is blood on the lens. There is explicit Fulci referencing. There is another actress who bears resemblance to Victoria Beckham and thus the creation of a good Posh/bad Posh paradigm. Is what we see incompetent or comedic genius? Marshall says he injected the film with a "sick sense of humor," and yet, like with any camp worth obsessing over, it's still uncertain if the director knows just how funny he is.
Covering Doomsday's would be best handled via a screencap-heavy recap, which I'll do when it comes out on DVD. It'll be appropriate then, because that'll be the point in time when this thing will have a shot of becoming the beloved trash it's destined to be. Seriously, don't go see it, don't believe me now, but just know that I called it: some day in the future, Doomsday is going to have a legion of fans lovingly laughing at it, sharing in it like its Mad Max rejects share in human carcass. This movie is a gift.