Monday, December 31, 2012
We're only several hours away from the end of 2012 and the hopefully fresh start to 2013 and our LRG tradition is to put up a few music videos for your partying pleasure. I decided to go with a theme this time out,Dance Hall Dames or Girls to Rock the Night Away With(take your choice of title,folks).
First on the playlist is Cyndi Lauper's party girl anthem,"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". With Cyndi launching a reality series(She's Still Unusual)and making other appearances on shows such as Bones and Happily Divorced,I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of her next year and that's something good to look forward to:
Now,let's get a little new school with Mary J. Blige and Family Affair,a get up and groove song extraordinaire. This pumping song was a hit of fun off of her No More Drama album in 2001 and has made several lists as one of the best songs of the
She recently performed this dancery number at the Democratic National Convention and it's the perfect tune to get any party started:
With this New Year Eve's being a Monday,what better song to play than the Bangles "Manic Monday"? Granted,this holiday feels more like a Friday/Saturday style of celebration but ,hey, that's the way the calendar goes.
Interesting factoid: Prince wrote the lyrics for Manic Monday,intending it for the band Apollonia 6. A couple of years later,he offered to the Bangles under the pseudonym "Christopher"(a character from his film flop Under The Cherry Moon). No matter who was supposed to sing it originally,I think this song wound up going to the right set of gals there:
Speaking of the right gal,no dance rundown of 2012 would be complete without the belle of the ball,Carly Rae Jepson. Her surprise hit,"Call Me Maybe",is up for two Grammy awards,including Song of the Year.
This sweetly spunky song has plenty of fans(and a few detractors)and while it may seem to be just another piece of bubble gum pop music,it does have a good beat that you can dance to and why not? Good luck in the future,Carly and keep on calling,someone will answer:
And now for something completely different,as we take off with Nicki Minaj's "Starships",a track off of her Pink Friday:Roman Reloaded album. This pulse pounding number is a mix of dance,house and pop, making it a perfect musical cocktail to enjoy this New Year's.
The video for Starships won a MTV award for Best Female Video and it was featured prominently on an episode of 2 Broke Girls last season. If you're a stranger to Miss Minaj,this is a good way to get acquainted(btw,the "explicit" heading just means that there are a couple of uncensored swear words in the lyrics,you have been warned):
With that,Happy New Year to all and LRG will be back later this week,with a Jane Austen related reading challenge. Best wishes to everyone who checks this blog and/or my e-books out and with any luck,2013 will have us on the edge of glory in the best possible way imagined:
Friday, December 28, 2012
2012 is coming to a close as early as next week and since I've already done my best books of the year round-up,it's time to announce the picks for LRG Best Video Clips seen on the internet.
These clips are samples from some of the web series that I've watching,along with a couple of real life reflections on pop culture and a musical surprise or two.
All in all,this has been quite the memorable year for reasons both good and bad. Hopefully,some of these videos will highlight the better half of our pop culture nature:
DARCY DAY: One of the most delightful distractions online this year has been the Lizzie Bennet Diaries,a vlog chronicling the modern day version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The series has caught on with both Austen fans and newcomers alike,for it's lively humor and engaging performances by Ashley Clements(Lizzie),Julia Cho(Charlotte) and Mary Kate Wiles(as the Ly-Di-A!).
While many of P&P's vast array of characters have been represented here via reenactments(particularly Mrs. Bennet),fans were insistent upon seeing Darcy in person.
Well,the moment of truth finally arrived and the man himself(played by Daniel
Gordh)arrived to offer his affections to our heroine. She took that as well as any other Elizabeth Bennet has in the past and made a new mark for future Lizzies to live up to:
DEAN KOONTZ NEEDS SOME GOOD RATHER THAN BAD FLICKS: For those in love with bad movies,whether big budget or barely released on home video,Good Bad Flicks is a treasure trove of cinematic gems.
Narrated by Cecil Trachenburg,this growing collection of off the wall films that mixes humor with fun facts to know and tell is catnip for film fiends.
In addition to his reviews,Cecil also gives recommendations for rentals and essays on such topics as the over reliance on remakes and reboots in Hollywood. One of his essay videos made a strong case for better film adaptations of genre author Dean Koontz's work and as someone who actually paid good money to see Hideaway in theaters,I say hear,hear!(and Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms,yo!):
CUTTING A CRITIC DOWN TO SIZE: News anchor Jennifer Livingston received a rather nasty e-mail from a viewer who took her to task about her weight. His insistence that she was setting a less than "suitable example" for young women in the community was breath taking in it's conceit and arrogance.
Jennifer could have simply ignored this rude communication but decided instead to show an example of personal strength and character by openly addressing this viewer on the air. Thank you,Jennifer,for making your public stand that gives encourage to the rest of us struggling in private with these issues:
A DARK NIGHT AT THE CINEMA: The tragic shootings in Aurora,Colorado this past summer at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises made things even scarier in both the real and imagined world we live in.
This sorrowful event,much like the recent Sandy Hook tragedy,gave many of us a chance to reflect on what is most important in life and one of the better statements made on this subject came from Random Guy. His DC/Marvel series has been a source of good natured comic book satire yet it was not out of character to see him get serious for a moment and offer up some good food for thought here:
THE BIG FLASH MOB THEORY: During a taping of The Big Bang Theory,the studio audience was treated to a flash mob presentation by the cast and crew of the show(Sheldon didn't participate,as per his nature).
This charming performance included a variety of dance styles and music,from "Call Me Maybe" to "Big Pimpin'" and gave TBBT fans a real special surprise indeed. Full on musical episode next year,guys-you know you want to!:
See you all on New Year's Eve with some rocking tunes and hopeful thoughts for 2013.
At least TV will start off right,with more Downton Abbey for us to get down to:
Thursday, December 27, 2012
For the Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef Seattle this week,a field trip was taken by the chefs to a shellfish farm where they harvested oysters. After gathering up their encased goodies,they headed back to the kitchen where Padma and Emeril were waiting for them.
They had to make either a hot or a cold plate of oysters,with the winner getting five grand(no mention of immunity).
Red and blue aprons were up for grabs for everyone to get a shot at the temperature they wanted their dish to be. Brooke wound up winning yet another QF,due to her fried oysters with lemon and arugula.
The chefs were then introduced to their clients and inspirations for the Elimination Challenge,a top roller derby team. Teams of two were formed and each one had to base their dish on the name of one of the roller girls.
Emeril joined in for the judging,along with Hugh Acheson,Padma and Judge Tom. Padma took a couple of turns on the roller rink floor,which made way too many people happy there for all the wrong reasons.
Only two teams made it to the winner's circle and one of them was Lizzie and Micah. Their namesake was Jalapeno Business and it certainly lived up to it's moniker.
They served a jalapeno stuffed with crab meat,onion and pepper relish. The judges adored the crispy tang of it,although Josh kept grumbling about how it was just a "jalapeno popper" and even asked Judge Tom about that(more on that in a moment).
The winning team was John and Brooke(another back to back victory!)for their take on Kutta Rump. It was Thai beef on top of lobster jasmine rice with slaw.
John added a slight sour note to the proceedings when,in an aside,he said that it was great to win but he would have rather done it alone. Not cool,man. I know you like being "the most hated" and all of that,but is that rep really necessary to maintain here?
In the Bottom were Josh and Sheldon for their Tempura Tantrum that failed on the plate. The sides of sweet potato and Fresno chili worked but the tempura batter was a complete mess.
Josh then had a bit of a tantrum as he asked the judges why a "jalapeno popper" would get better consideration. Not only did Judge Tom have to waste time by slowing spelling out the difference between what Micah and Lizzie did vs. your standard popper,Josh even knew he was wrong in the beginning by saying he didn't want this to be a "CJ question."
To recap,CJ had attempted to badmouth another team's dish during the judging round that sent him home in an earlier episode. If you don't want to be that guy,Josh,why did you even bother to bring this up in the first place? I really hope this isn't becoming a trend with TC contenders because all this does is make you look bad and your cooking even worse.
Speaking of worse,it was between Josie and Bart for the elim. Their Teriyaki Terror was truly terrible as the forbidden rice was undercooked and the whole dish lacked seasoning.
Josie mentioned that Bart's skewered steak seemed bland yet she thought the beet blood and green papaya salad would make up for that. Judge Tom got annoyed for the second time that night,telling all of them that mixing bland with seasoned food just highlights the lack of flavor. Tom's patience is really being tried this season,I swear.
Bart was sent off to pack his knives and head over to Last Chance Kitchen,where he went up against CJ,interestingly enough. Still rooting for Kuniko,who you can vote for to be saved at the Bravo website.
It was down to three on The Next Iron Chef but that number quickly became two as they each had to make a "Last Supper" for the judges. Alex did well enough with her sea urchin while Amanda's chicken was a hands down crowd pleaser.
Nate Appleman was the odd man out,for his haddock with clam chowder. Since haddock was supposed to be the star here,the chowder just got in the way. That left Alex Guarnachelli and Amanda Freitag left to battle it out in Kitchen Stadium for the ultimate win.
Their secret ingredients were a variety of items meant to represent the culinary styles of three current Iron Chefs-Bobby Flay,Michael Symon and Masaharu Morimoto.
The ladies were pretty much neck in neck with their courses,with Amanda receiving kudos for a charred eggplant with yogurt while Alex's dessert of chili cherry tart with sour cream ice cream was quite a hit.
In the end,it was Alex who made it to glory as the new Iron Chef. Her first battle will be aired this weekend and I'm sure we'll still see her on Chopped.Congrats,Alex and looking forward to cheering you on in Kitchen Stadium.
Amanda did a wonderful job as well and also look forward to seeing her again on Chopped and perhaps another shot at NIC in the future. Good job all around,ladies:
As we eagerly await the S3 premiere of Downton Abbey,there is another promising BBC series soon to arrive on Masterpiece Classic next year.
The Paradise stars Joanna Vanderham as Denise,the newest clerk at London's first big department store during the Victorian era.
Workplace struggles go hand in hand with romantic intrigue as Denise does her best to get along with her co-workers while the owner of the store attempts to balance his love life with his career ambitions. Plus,Denise happens to be the niece of a small business owner whose livelihood is threatened by The Paradise and there's a young man in love with her who considers him only as a friend.
The Paradise had a strong first season in England and a second one is underway. The series is due to air in late February(right after Downton)and into March. It may not catch on as fiercely as DA has with the viewing public over here but it looks like my cup of drama tea indeed:
RACHAEL VS. GUY: A second season of this celebrity cook-off is due to begin soon and I must confess that the main reason I'll be watching is to see far Johnny Weir will go in this competition.
Nothing against the other celebs lined up here(especially Kathy Najimy,who is awesome)but Weir is the rock star of the bunch and it will be fun to see how well he can make a brunch:
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Now that Christmas is over and done with,we can start truly focusing on the year to come in books. The New Year will be upon us early next week,so stockpiling those must-have reads should be a resolution to make and keep for 2013.
As I write this,snow is falling at a fast and furious pace outside my window and we'll be seeing plenty of that before spring arrives,giving all of us ample time to catch up on our reading.
Granted,you'll have some literary gifts to go through still after the holidays(not to mention a few TBR piles to clear up)but one of these tempting new titles ought to find a home by your favorite reading spot:
While historical novels are no stranger to Tracy Chevalier,the author of Girl With The Pearl Earring,the setting of her upcoming book is in fresh territory.
The Last Runaway follows the journey of Honor Bright,a young Quaker woman from Europe,who makes a new home in 1850s America due to a broken engagement. She and her sister Grace end up in Ohio,where Honor finds a new life and love but also becomes involved with the Underground Railroad.
As she grows increasingly torn between family duty and personal convictions,Honor's choices are more complicated than ever before yet she must make a real decision either way. Chevalier shreds some more light onto the role that the Quaker community played in the American abolitionist movement,as well as the emotional struggles that went along with it(January 8):
Another well known novelist changes pace with her latest book,Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini,a stand alone story apart from her popular series of Elm Creek Quilt books.
The lady of the title is Elizabeth Keckley,a freed slave woman who is the most sought after seamstress in Washington D. C. and was chosen to be Mary Todd Lincoln's personal stylist in 1861.The bond between both ladies became more than professional,with Elizabeth sharing in the private joys and sorrows of the Lincoln household.
That bond becomes threatened,however,when Elizabeth decides to share her experiences with the wider world in a memoir meant to show the best side of Mary. Keckley's legacy goes beyond her Lincoln connection yet it's a good starting point to know her better and Chiverini's literary love of sewing fits this tale to a T(January 15):
In Ellen Meister's Farewell Dorothy Parker, film critic Violet Epps takes her writing cues from Dorothy Parker but lacks her literary muse's feisty social skills. That starts to change after a visit to the famous Algonquin Hotel introduces Violet to the ghostly spirit of Mrs. Parker herself.
Dorothy takes a shine to Violet and not only hangs around to offer her quips about her life but at times takes a hands-on approach to her advice. This lively look at a most unlikely relationship should inspire a fresh interest in Mrs. Parker and her vicious circle,plus make for an engaging read on it's own terms. When my review copy arrives from Library Thing,I'll be able to tell you more(February):
Paula Bryne's take on The Real Jane Austen involves a scaled back view of the lady's life and work. Subtitled "A Life In Small Things",Bryne uses objects found in both Austen's life and in some of her characters to further define her as an artist and a woman.
One item included is an amber cross,given to Jane by one of her seafaring brothers and currently on display at Jane Austen's House in Chawton. It is no coincidence that Fanny Price of Mansfield Park also received a similar gift from her nautical sibling and the significance that bit of jewelry played in the novel and Austen's relationship with her family is one of the many avenues worth exploring in this suitably subtle biography(January 29):
SOME CRAFTY CHARACTERS
Darien Gee revisits the town of Avalon in her follow-up to Friendship Bread but this time takes the action out of the kitchen. In The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society,self appointed busybody Bettie Shelton actively encourages her friends,neighbors and anyone she happens to run into to join in her scrapbook club.
This group and their involved hobby includes Yvonne,a plumber with a heartbroken past,Isobel,a widow still not over the adultery of her late husband and Frances,a mother of a pack of boys who longs to adopt a baby girl with health problems. These ladies and many others find a renewed interest in life,not to mention some new friendships along the way.
Even if,like me,you haven't read Friendship Bread yet,this charming novel will entice you into it's engaging world. Thanks to Library Thing,I'm enjoying ALSS right now and getting convinced that just about any experience can make for acceptable scrapbook material(January 29):
In Dana Fuch's The Secret of the Nightingale Palace,widow Anna Rosenthal is surprised to hear from her grandmother Goldie,who hasn't spoken to her in years due to disapproving of her marriage.
Goldie insists that Anna help her transport some artwork to San Francisco from New York via Goldie's Rolls Royce. The art in question was on hold for good friends forced into an internment camp due to their Japanese ancestry and it also has some clues to Goldie's past adventures as well.
This tale of two generations learning to reconnect has all the makings of a novel that more than one audience can appreciate and even learn a lesson or two from within it's pages(February).
THE QUICK AND THE READ
Lisa O'Donnell's The Death of Bees starts off with a bang,as two young girls are burying their parents in the backyard. While Marnie and Nellie are not responsible for the demise of their abusive mother and father,concealing their passing is vital to keeping them out of foster care.
Their secret is eventually shared with Lenny,an elderly neighbor with a dog that takes to digging up the girls' yard. Lenny at least wants to help the sisters out,unlike the drug dealer whose on the lookout for the money their dad stole from him and their mother's father,demanding custody in order to make up for his sins as a father.
The eerie twists and turns of this dark coming-of-age story possesses a cinematic quality that promises to make for a vividly interesting read(January):
In News From Heaven,Jennifer Haigh brings us an interconnected set of short stories set in the town of Bakerton,home to her earlier novel Baker Towers.
These portraits of Bakerton residents range in time from WWII,when in "Beast and Bird" Anna Lubicki seeks a romantic partner who accepts her religion,to later years with Aunt Melanie in "Broken Star" looking to Regina for more help than she was willing to admit.
With Baker Towers available in paperback,an ideal book club selection would be a dual reading of both books so that all of Haigh's novelistic nuances can be truly felt(January 29).
A Happy New Year of reading to all and may you find plenty of page turners to occupy yourself with as the winds of winter are howling outside your door:
Monday, December 24, 2012
Merry Christmas Eve,folks and I hope your holiday is a happy one. As we usually do here at LRG,a set of sweet Yuletide tunes are being presented here for your listening pleasure and while we will be back later this week with our book preview post for January and February(and possibly a TV Thursday as well),tomorrow is a day reserved for rejoicing with loved ones offline.
So,let's begin with the new Cee-Lo Green cover of "All I Need is Love",with special guest stars The Muppets. A couple of other guest stars show up,including Craig Robinson as Santa(nice!). The whole video is pure joy,from start to finish,plus who can resist Miss Piggy and Kermit under the mistletoe?:
Next on our holiday playlist is "Silver and Gold",sung by the grand master himself Burl Ives from the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer special.
He contributed a good number of songs to this show but the sweet simplicity of this musical tribute to those shiny colors that appear on Christmas trees this time of year hits the right spot in my heart:
Perhaps it's due to me being a city girl but a holiday song that I happen to love is "Silver Bells",which sets the mood for Christmas in the city in a subtly charming way.
The song made it's original debut in the 1952 Bob Hope comedy The Lemon Drop Kid,based on a Damon Runyon tale of a con man who inadvertently finds redemption and true love via a Santa charity scam.
Silver Bells has been covered by numerous artists such as Burl Ives,Barry Manilow,Olivia Newton-John,Billy Idol and Perry Como,who sings it with Diahann Carroll in this clip from a 1968 TV special telecast from Vegas(I love Diahann's dress,it screams old school holiday special):
I was introduced to a new holiday song this year,known as "Mary Did You Know",first released in 1992 by Michael English and has been covered by both country and pop stars alike,including Clay Aiken,Reba McEntire,Natalie Cole and Cee-Lo Green.
The song really took off when country artist Kathy Mattea recorded it for her 1993 album Good News and so far,it's the rendition I like best. It's good to have a musical salute to motherhood during this family centric time,in my opinion and such a touching one,too:
And last but far and away from least,one of my favorite tracks from the first A Very Special Christmas album,Run-DMC's "Christmas Time in Hollis". This merry rap has been heard in on both TV shows(The Office,Chuck) and movies with Christmas themes such as the original Die Hard and Jingle All The Way.
The song got a little bump recently,due to being featured in a car commercial where some suburban moms sing a long to this toe tapping tune. Can't blame them,after all who wouldn't want to be chilling and cool just like a snowman this season?:
Once again,Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I'll see you all later on to start ringing in the New Year right and we won't even have to play through the pain:
Friday, December 21, 2012
Well,since the world didn't end today,there's plenty of time to get those last minute gifts for Christmas this weekend.
Even if you're ordering online,the whole process can be rather daunting,what with trying to decide on what to give to whom and not to mention finding a bargain price on that hot ticket item you meant to pick up a lot sooner and so many more holiday woes.
In order to grant you a moment or two of relief from that holiday hassle,here are a
few themed clips that should put some Santa schadenfreude in your stocking before that final mad rush to the stores:
SHOPPING SHAKEDOWN: On one Christmas episode of Frasier,the good doctor had no choice but to make a last minute mall run before his son arrived in town for the holidays.
His hopes of finding the suitably smart gifts for his boy were dashed for awhile but luckily,there was one parent who had a bag full of the perfect intellectually inclined presents Frasier was looking for but the store that they were at was closed. In the spirit of the season,the dad was willing to help him out but at a high price. Frasier accepted while being able to pay him back in kind:
SCIENTIFIC SHOPPING METHOD: In Howard's End,the friendship between Margaret Schlegel and Ruth Wilcox was so deep that by the time Christmas came around,Margaret was more than happy to lend her practical expertise towards getting the Wilcox family presents.
However,Mrs. Wilcox was anxious to find her new young friend the perfect gift as well. How that sweetly sincere wish came true was more generous than either of them expected:
NEW STORE SCENT: In Elf,Buddy was overwhelmed to just step into a department store built for humans. Granted,it was understandable that he wasn't sure about how to ride an escalator but tasting that fruit flavored perfume sample simply wasn't smart:
DISTRACTED DISPLAY GAMES: Having a little fun while shopping is fine but on Mr. Bean's Christmas,he spent so much time playing with one of the store displays that he nearly forgot to pick up his purchases.
At least he made sure to check the holiday lights before buying them. However,I would recommend asking for an outlet to use for that purpose or you might disrupt everyone else's shopping there:
Happy holiday shopping,folks and if you find yourself starting to get overwhelmed by the last minute crunch,just consider yourself lucky that one of the people left on your list isn't a ninja turtle master with pizza loving pals ready to sing badly on cue:
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Another familiar face arrived on the scene at Top Chef Seattle this week,as Season 4 winner Stephanie was the guest judge for the Quickfire challenge. Everyone was allowed to make whatever they wanted,using the ingredients available in the pantry.
The catch was that all of the stock was wrapped up in aluminum foil,making the selection process trickier than usual. Plus,they also had to cook their dish with foil and encouraged to be as unique as possible.
Kristen truly took the cake here,by making an almond and sponge cake which was moist and delicious. She won immunity for the next round and also didn't have to pair up with anyone else for the Elimination challenge.
The rest of the chefs had to go head to head to make berry centric dishes for a local festival. One overall winner was to be chosen by the festival goers via votes cast at the food stands,with the judges determining who would be sent home.
John and Stefan both had gooseberry as their focal point and the two of them went into combat mode as they exchanged not so pleasant rivalries.
Stefan had to use frozen tuna for his Cali crudo with radishes and spicy vinaigrette,due to another contender buying up all of the fresh tuna during grocery shopping.
John repeatedly call him out about it to anyone who would or had no choice but to listen,which was rather annoying after awhile. However,Stefan's plate was preferred by both the crowd and the judges.
John should have paid more attention to his gooseberry gazpacho,which was overpowered by the chorizo added to it.
Not even the grapes in the dish could tame that spicy sausage and someone at the festival compared it to "cheeseburger soup." Next time,less chatter,more cooking there,John!
Meanwhile,Sheldon(who had bought up that fresh tuna)was able to showcase strawberries very nicely in his ahi summer roll with ahi poke and sweet chili sauce.
It tasted refreshing and earned him victory for his bout with Micah. Sheldon's doing a good job so far in the competition and to his credit,doesn't waste a lot of time talking smack(a few others could follow his example and do better here,just saying!).
Micah did get quite creative with his strawberry special,making a fried chicken with strawberry and bacon biscuit. Smart to do sort of a chicken and waffles approach but the judges felt that they couldn't really taste the strawberry.
Also,his biscuit turned out blah,which was a shame. He did really seem to try hard with this one but the magic just wasn't happening.
The ultimate winner was Kristen,for her goat cheese custard with macerated tayberries. The judges found it to be flawless,a rare compliment given out on this show to anybody.
This was another back-to-back win for the girls,beginning with Brooke's two time win last episode and now Kristen following suit. Nice going,ladies! Maybe this season,we'll have another female TC winner to join Stephanie.
Everything wasn't coming up roses,however,for Danyele as her chicken pine nut terrine with blueberry mostarda was a total flop. Judge Tom felt that it wasn't a true mostarda(which is sort of a candied/pickled fruit mix)and the terrine had the texture of lunch meat.
She went off to pack her knives for Last Chance Kitchen but I'm not sure she has the heart for this whole thing. Danyele's a nice enough gal yet this competition kept flustering her at every step. Oh,well,best of luck to her either way!
Things are winding down on The Next Iron Chef,as the Final Four paired up to prepare dueling buffets with bacon as the highlighted ingredient. Alex and Marcel did their level best but Amanda and Nate pulled their bacon banquet off in a much more satisfying fashion.
That meant that Alex and Marcel had to face off against each other in the Secret Ingredient Showdown,which gave them Hershey's chocolates and candy to work with.
Alex was nervous,since this was her first time this season in the Bottom Two but she aced her plate nicely.
Marcel was eliminated and to his credit,seemed to be a little less immature than the last time I saw him in a competition. He still has a ways to go there but Marcel made a credible showing here and good luck to him on his future endeavors.
The finale will be airing this weekend,leaving the three remaining chefs to become two and then the final battle in Kitchen Stadium. Personally,I'm rooting for an Amanda vs. Alex scenario and while I will be happy for whichever of these ladies to be the winner,my cheers will be a bit louder for Alex:
With most of the regular shows taking a holiday break,I thought it would be good to highlight some of the new series set to air early next year.
One that caught my eye was Cyndi Lauper's Still So Unusual,which follows the iconic 80s singer around on her various entertainment and charity event functions.
This might actually be fun to watch,as Cyndi is one of those rare celebrities that seems authentically comfortable in her own skin and not in denial about her maturity. Yes,she's still a party girl in the good sense of the term and I'm looking forward to seeing her sparkle on the reality show scene this January:
THE BIG BANG THEORY: Their Christmas episode this year was a joy to watch,particularly due to the guys playing a holiday themed edition of the classic RPG,Dungeons and Dragons.
Sheldon's reluctant particpation became very amusing as he used his unexpectedly vast knowledge of Christmas traditions to achieve victory in the game. However,it wouldn't a fun time with Sheldon if he didn't take the long road home,so to speak:
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Dear Ms. Pagila,
For years now,you have engaged in some lively discussions about women and pop culture in the media and it's been entertaining as well as thought provoking. However,with your most recent cultural critique,I'm afraid that you may have dropped the ball on a few salient points.
Your piece for The Hollywood Reporter,which targeted Taylor Swift and Katy Perry as destructive to the feminist cause seemed a bit harsh there. Granted,I'm not a big fan of either singer(particularly Katy Perry)but I hardly think listening to their songs will turn all of our modern young women into retro 1950s man pleasers or in your words:
"As if flashed forward by some terrifying time machine, there’s Taylor Swift, America’s latest sweetheart, beaming beatifically in all her winsome 1950s glory from the cover of Parade magazine in the Thanksgiving weekend newspapers. In TV interviews, Swift affects a “golly, gee whiz” persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation, which is completely at odds with her shrewd glam dress sense."
...."Beyond that, Swift has a monotonous vocal style, pitched in a characterless keening soprano and tarted up with snarky spin that is evidently taken for hip by vast multitudes of impressionable young women worldwide. Her themes are mainly complaints about boyfriends, faceless louts who blur in her mind as well as ours. Swift’s meandering, snippy songs make 16-year-old Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit “It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry if I Want to)” seem like a towering masterpiece of social commentary, psychological drama and shapely concision."
I know you meant the Lesley Gore reference as a slap in the face but you do recall that a year after she released "It's My Party",Gore came out with "You Don't Own Me",a song that has a woman renounce male control over her life,right?
That song is considered a stepping stone for feminist anthems such as I Am Woman and was recently used as a battle cry for woman's reproductive rights during this last election. Perhaps,you were trying to pay Miss Swift a backhanded compliment there or at least I hope so:
Granted,I'm not in the age bracket that Taylor Swift's music is being marketed to,but from what I can see,she's a talented young woman making the transition from teen to adult audiences(with a greater handle on maturity that someone like Britney Spears has,who you seem to favor in your article)and doing it well.
Her influence upon young girls and women is no worse than Hannah Montana or Carly Rae Jepson has been but Swift seems to have her head on straight and she should be commended for that instead of condemned. Denying an outlet for lighthearted feminine expression is just as regressive to the feminist movement as any of those disgusting T shirts that Spencer's Gifts sells,in my opinion.
Also,Taylor Swift's recent big hit,"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" does showcase her snarky side very well and if she wants to deliver her refusals to a persistent ex-suitor while wearing bright colors and dancing around with oddly costumed friends,more power to her,I say:
As to Katy Perry,I do agree that she's quite the live action cartoon there(sort of a cross between Bettie Page and Betty Boop)and her naughty girl routine does get tired rather quickly.
However,I don't see her as having Joan Crawford smiles or acting like a " manic cyborg cheerleader". That sounds a lot more like Madonna these days, a pop culture diva that I know you think very highly of. While she did break some new ground for powerful women in entertainment,Madonna has become the Norma Desmond of the music scene lately.
With her persistence in plateauing as an artist and clinging to the notoriety of her youth by pulling publicity stunts that even she would have rejected back in her hey day,Madonna has turned into a parody of herself and not in a good way. Katy Perry,in some twisted way,is sort of following in her worn out footsteps and who knows,maybe she'll grow up before Madonna does:
Also,you appear to be rather preoccupied with the plight of "middle class white girls" and lamenting that they're not being shown the "authentic sizzling eroticism" offered to others via Rihanna,Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce. First of all,those three ladies are well known to more than one audience and age group, plus those sexy personas that you admire are just as manufactured as Taylor Swift's and Katy Perry's are.
Secondly,while there are cultural differences between certain groups,shouldn't we be concerned about influences for all young women out there equally? You've studied art for a long time,Ms. Paglia,and it's the universality of common experiences that brings all sorts of different parties together.
Your concerns about the lack of roles for aging women is not a new argument but it is a prevalent one. A good way to remedy that for Hollywood actresses is to take a cue from their British sisters.
One of the better movies that came out this year was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,which boosted three major female stars,Dame Judi Dench,Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith and could land any of them an Oscar nomination along with Helen Mirren for her work in Hitchcock.
Smith and Wilton are also stars in the hit series Downton Abbey as have as many fans as the younger ladies in that cast. Aging American actresses seem to have better success on the small screen these days such as Glenn Close in Damages and Jessica Lange in American Horror Story. It would be nice to see that trend cross over into big screen films as well(without forcing Meryl Streep to retire)but with some effort and time,I believe that we'll get there.
Getting back to music,I think you're overlooking a whole slew of prominent female artists out there such as Adele,Gwen Stefani,Pink,Nicki Minaj and even Kelly Clarkson,an American Idol sweetheart who has really made her own mark outside of that competition.
Don't be so quick to underestimate the driving female forces in the industry,even if they don't fit into your personal definition of what a forceful female should be. Even those clean cut appearing gals can have some real layers of depth beneath their shiny surfaces:
To sum this up,Ms. Paglia,while I do respect your opinion and educational background,you're not sounding very knowledgeable here. I know that it's time consuming to keep up with the latest in any pop culture field(goodness knows I don't attend to music as much as I used to), yet if you're going to talk about it in a public forum,you should bone up on what's new and fresh there first.
You're a teacher,Ms. Paglia,and if you had a student who stumbled as much as you did in this article,you'd ask them to do their homework before stating their case next time. Otherwise,it'll be too easy for your audience to simply kiss your input off and that would be a shame for all concerned.
Lady T and the rest of us pop culture divas:
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