Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What You Should Do While I Watch "Laguna Beach"

Because I'm spending this evening baking my brain by watching "Laguna Beach" instead of thinking deep thoughts, I'm gonna tell you about some other folks who are going ahead and being smart for me:

* Read a little about the Great Blog Debate (we're "pro-", in case you couldn't figure that out) at Friend-of-Sirens, and also learn about a bunch of other stuff floating out there in the political ether.
* Experiencesex with a side of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder courtesy of Sirens fave Jami Attenberg.
* See why you shouldn't buy "Why Men Marry Bitches" (as if you couldn't figure it out on your own, but still), thanks to Bookslut.
* Learn everything you could possibly want to know (and probably a few things you don't, but should) about womanly parts at, whether you're a girl with questions too embarrassing to ask or a guy looking for an inside track, as it were, this has got it all.
* And, of course, don't forget to check out the latest on SirensMag: We've got ourselves a pretty kick-ass wedding issue going right now that is, natch, far from your typical OMG we should all get married and be pretty pretty princesses crap ... we're talking how to cancel your wedding, why your first year of marriage will suck, what guys find so alluring about chicks wearing engagement rings, and why you should save swallowing for your wedding night.

Now, off to see if, like, the mean girls or the, like, lame girls or whatever win out this week. Important, important things to do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What's In, What's Hot, What's Ready To Blow Up, blah blah blah

Well, after Friday's night of partying resulting in a fishnet stocking-related incident (note: be careful about fishnets and shoe buckles when stumbling drunkenly down staircases), I spent the rest of the weekend in relative squalor and seclusion, awaiting a new roommate and an explosion of work this week. A torn ligament in 1994 has made my left ankle permenantly weak, so it balloons like a cantaloupe when I stumble (often) or wear stilletos (rarely). This provided an opportunity for me to get better acquainted with my DVR and the internet. As a result, here are my picks and predictions for what for What's In, What's Hot, What's Ready To Blow Up, blah blah blah.

1. Idlewild: Do not miss this movie. Not only is Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000) smokingly fine and the slickest fashion icon since David Beckham, he's mad talented. Idlewild is set in a speakeasy in the 1920's South with all the jazzy, sassy glam that you'd expect. Part performance piece, part melodrama, it's more Moulin Rouge than Chicago, a hip, modern spin on a retro-musical that I think will put them both to shame. I have no doubts about Andre's acting ability--he has enough charm to compensate if he can't--but let's see if Big Boi can pull off the lead role as the club's owner. Look out for Macy Gray, Terrence Howard, Ving Rhames, and Patti Labelle in supporting roles, and some blazing musical numbers that are as much heart as beat.

2. Pet Love. My dog-loving neighbor now designs leashes on the side; my bohemian friend just published a very popular ode to her ferret. The world is filled with labradoodles--half labrador, half poodle, all affection. Pet love is in, and I don't trust anyone who turns his/her nose up our furry creatures. I've started walking my dogs around the busy hospital streets around the corner, and when the dogs meet the patients, it's amazing to see how happy one creature is to meet another with the time and inclination to play a little.

3. Gale Harold. Known for his role as libertine and gay icon Brian Kinney in Queer As Folk, this divine actor is finally playing it straight in Fox's new TV Series Vanished. Do I have high hopes? Well, from the commercials, Vanished is about some disappearing senator's wife and a secret card-playing, cloak-wearing cult, but one look from Mr. Harold reduces the plot to rubble. Unfortunately, it seems that whoever's directing has decided that Gale is going to play it straight indeed--straight and square. Mainstream TV should let loose a little and allow him to show some of that rebellious sexuality that caused Camille Paglia to call him Donatello's David, all grown up. Straight or queer? I don't think it matters. (Note: is anyone casting for The Portrait of Dorian Gray? Lord Henry awaits...)

4. Kiki de Montparnasse, the store. Professional Mistresses everywhere celebrated everywhere when this Soho shop, named after Man Ray's most infamous and decadent muse, brought elegance to the dirty Valentine's Day present. I give it two months before Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan starts bragging about her addiction to KikiDM ("how could I have ever lived without one? now I'm done with men forever"), but that's beside the point. No one needs a Titanium Vibrator, but in terms receiving one as a discreetly extravagant romantic gift, you can't beat KikiDM's collection. It's for the grand gesture (or the abject apology) and there's lot's of raciness to go around. I knew I picked the right agent when she suggested we hold our book party at the elegantly racy Soho store .

5. Magicians. God no, not David Blaine, or the aptly title mindFreak Criss Angel. I'm talking old school magic once again on the silver screen, the dazzling magicians of the Victorian/Edwardian era like Harry Houdini or Henry Blackstone. Antiquated? Hollwood disagrees with you, as not one but two magician-themed movies are being released in the next few months. The Illusionist features the dueling intensities of Edward Norton (as a romantic magician) and Paul Giamatti (as a romantic policeman) and the glassy perfection of Jessica Biel. The Prestige which will be released in the fall, will be far superior, as both leads (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) are rival magicians, and the lady in question is Scarlett Johanssen. I base my ranking not only on the hotness of the stars, but also on the fact that The Prestige is based on a superb novel by Christopher Priest that I read a few years ago. Either way, I will be in the audience, soaking up all the vintage carnival-like magic acts, fully suspending disbelief.

6. Wolfmother: Back in my high school daze, there were always a bunch of kids hanging around in their old Chevys near the tennis courts and swimming pool, music blasting. They were long-haired shaggy skateboarders with rocker-t's and torn jeans, their girlfriends always wearing denims skirts with long leggings (something that's coming back, interestingly). A cloud of smoke enveloped their portion of the parking lot, and as I walked home from school I tried to place the scent. Tobacco? Yes, mostly, but also something else--kind of like the incense my dad used. They were the laconic rebels of the school, befuddled as I was by all the social climbing and unspoken rules, falling together in this pocket of smoke like pieces of lint in a coat pocket. Their knowing outsiderness and endless philosophizing made them superior, but they still sparked with life, and always managed lazy smiles as I walked by, head down shyly.

They would have listened to Wolfmother.

7. Dark Age of Glam: With not one but two true-life Hollywood murder movies (the quirky underground The Black Dahlia and the star-powered Hollywoodland) coming out in the next month, the new way of fashion is clearly going to be old Hollywood glam a la Ava Gardner, Gina Lollabridgida, Jean Harlow. Marilyn Monroe? Too accessible. It's scarlet (Johanssen) lips, plucked brows and peekaboo hair hair--the femme fatale of the 1950's pulp novel, or B-movie, or film noir. Witness Christina Aguilera's transformation from "dirty" (mud wrestling) to "clean" ('50's pinup) sex object for an example. From Diane Lane in Hollywoodland (a manipulative older vixen) to Hilary Swank, Scarlett Johansson and Mia Kirschner in The Black Dahlia, there's a lot to love about this revival in the classic era of Hollywood--it's sexy, curvaceous, glamorous--unapologetically bombshell. And the movies are especially enticing since they go into the underbelly of classic Hollywood, giving you that true-crime shivers as you drool over the fabulous dresses. Or vice versa.

I will probably add to this post. Maybe. Maybe not.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Thoughts on those "Snakes"

While I loved--yes, really, LOVED, but more on that in a sec--"Snakes on a Plane," I'm happy to hear it did only a modest $15 mil or so at the box office this weekend. Why? Because that means everyone can just go about their business enjoying the brilliance--yes, really, brilliance--of the motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane without having to endure wall-to-wall coverage of the power of the blogosphere and analysis of the ultimate culmination of meta-ironic-hipster pop culture blah blah blah. If this thing had kicked serious Will Ferrell ass, Newsweek and Time would've ridden the wave, cover-story style. They might still, but it'll probably be relegated to a page-long think piece lumped in with their regular reviews near the back of the magazines. Trust me, we were spared a lot of irritating intellectualizing.

Meanwhile, I can't recommend enough that you go catch this thing at the theater--it's an old-fashioned good time, complete with snakes biting people's privates and bad-but-super-quotable lines and the very cool almost-coupling of Juliana Marguiles and Samuel L. Jackson. I'll even go all cliche--because how else do you go with a movie like this?--and say it's a roller coaster ride of a good time. Hey, at least I didn't reach for the snake pun there. That's one more thing we'll thankfully see a lot less of now, too.

So thank you several times over to all of you who didn't go see this fine film this weekend. Now get yourself some tickets on Fandango and catch it as soon as you can.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ban This Post

China banned primetime airing of The Simpsons today, which is not merely a crime against art and free expression, but of bad public policy as well. The Chinese government is banning The Simpsons, along with Pokeman and other terrifying cartoons, to help the country's struggling animations studios. Here are my two predictions:

1. There will be an enormous rise of blackmarket Simpson DVD's of current episodes.
2. The Simpson will do a cartoon banning episode featuring Itchy and Scratchy.

Come on, gentle Commies--with Fidel on the brink, this is not the time to make enemies. As for animators, my heart is with you, but my head is capitalist: want to recapture your audience? make better cartoons. Until then, the black market thanks you.

I don't like bans. I don't think they solve anything, financially or artistically. But so many people in the world live under restrictions I can't imagine, and yet find a way to express themselves. For example, in this month's issue of Marie Claire (the one with Maggie Gyllenhaal modeling silent film-era goth girl chic), there's a fascinating article on wealthy, fashion-conscious Saudi Arabian women. (I'd link it if I could, but the Marie Claire website is remarking stingy. Not even a taste, ladies?). Covered from head to foot in black burkas, these women indulge in top-notch designer handbags, extravagant stilletos, and the one bit of fashion allowed to them: a head scarf. Some tips from the ladies? By Cavalli scarves if you want to get noticed. Stocking their fashions in closets Kimora Lee Simmons would envy, they have turned shopping into a minimalist art form: when there is no choice, the chosen must be exquisite.

For more burka-related humor, I did find the last few minutes of an American Dad repeat rather ingenious, complete with a Roxie-Hart style song and lots of gyration. I will quote only the last lines:

"If you have a vagina, clitoris or labia
Don't relocate to Saudi Arabia."

The truth of which I cannot verify, so no hate mail please. But I thought the rhyme was rather neat.

Fashion, rebellion and rhyme. Some of my favorite things.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rock Star: Super Chicks

If you're doubting that we have, indeed, come a long way, baby, look no farther than "Rock Star: Supernova." There has never been a surer sign that gender equality has been achieved. And, yes, I'm dead serious.

It plain fucking rocks to see women equalling men (both in their performances and in the way they're judged) in this competition to front an all male--and very testosteroney--band featuring Tommy Lee, Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, and Guns 'n' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke. This may be just a silly little summer reality show with middling ratings, biding time til the big guns come back to CBS in the fall ... but damn if it isn't pretty much televised gender-parity utopia. Not only are women taken totally seriously singing classics by The Who and Queen and David Bowie and John Lennon, but they're also treated with a weird postmodern brand of respect that also doesn't ignore the fact that they're female and, in many cases, undeniably sexy.

Dilana may just be the personification of said utopia--girlfriend tears it up every time, has killer rock star threads and streaked dreads, and just plain makes it impossible for anyone of any sex to follow her act. When she tackled The Who with Clarke on guitar, he said it all: "After that, I have no doubt that a woman can front our band." Powerhouse vocalist Jill Gioia keeps the female rock spirit alive by picking kick-ass chick songs like Tracy Bonham's "Mother Mother" (which I'm now going to rush to procure a copy of, by any means necessary) and Heart's "Alone" (my personal karaoke favorite, which must be even harder to sing when not drunk on sake).

And bless Storm Large's heart for looking like a model and still killing it like any of the boys (or girls, natch) on stage. I mean, doing Queen's "We Are the Champions"--bad idea for anyone on American Idol EVER, awesome idea here. She's also a prime example of how to properly bare miles of midriff without looking like Britney Spears: ripped-up, edgy, least-girly-possible T-shirt ... low-rider pants with studded belt ... and super-cut abs. If Dave Navarro and Tommy Lee can do every other show with their shirts open and their pants slung low--which with those bods, they're totally welcome to do--she can flash skin, too.

But fashion-wise, it doesn't get any better than Zayra Alvarez--literally, a gold catsuit, a tophat, and giant platforms to do David Bowie's "All the Young Dudes." Even cooler: Her version of "867-5309" that never even ironically acknowledged the sapphic undercurrents of singing a love song to a girl whose name she found on the bathroom wall. Makes that song instantly into a far better narrative than it was ever meant to be. "Confidence is good for a frontwoman," Tommy said, "and we can tell that you have that."

Whether or not a girl ends up winning is incidental--and that's just the point. But I can't lie: I'd love love love to see Dilana take it ... not only because she's a girl, but also because she deserves it.