Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Superbowl Sunday

Last night was my version of the Superbowl: The Academy Awards. Oh yes-- Superbowl Sunday... of the hollywood - pop - culture - entertainment - sporting - event kind... the event of all events. The golden child of the awards season... the most anticipated event of the year. I, having grown up in Hollywood, do love a good celebrity love fest (even though I'd deny it if ever confronted with a real celebrity). Case and point: when faced with potentially missing the Oscars because Oscar Sunday fell on the opening night of an annual business event that I plan, I turned our opening reception into a full-fledged Oscar party, complete with cocktail attire, champagne, red carpet and yes, six foot Oscars flanking the entrance doors. And, being that we're the international division and I felt that I had to somehow incorporate cultural references into the theme, I blew up posters of foreign film winners for the last 25 years, which decorated the room. Most importantly, I live-streamed the broadcast of the awards on a 20' projection screen so I wouldn't miss a second... ummmm... perhaps a little obsessive, I must admit, but fantastic.

I have to say though, last night proved to be, well, a little predictable. Sure, I watched the all-day E! Entertainment pre-show of Oscar fashion past; oogled the stars during the arrival and watched as they dodged relationship, baby and other crazy questions. Sat with bated breath through Ellen's opening and the 72 minutes until they got to the "real" awards (nothing as funny as best screenplay acceptance speech last year). I was hoping for some unpredictability-- like Leo finally winning the big guy (he
should have won for "The Aviator"), and maybe Kate Winslet-- the youngest actress (at 31-- my not-as-impressive age) to receive 5 nominations, finally getting the nod (she, like Judi Dench, always seem to be nominated, although Dame Judi usually wins... it's as though there's an empty spot every year and the Academy says, "let's throw in Dame Judi or that Titanic girl-- sure, no one's seen their movies, but they're British-- and talented; so they must deserve an Oscar"). "Sense and Sensibility" is still one of my favorite movies-- and Kate's first Oscar nod at the tender age of 19. Damn. Did I mention that I'm feeling a tad bit unaccomplished?

But, it was faves Forest Whitaker (Last King of Scotland) and Helen Mirren (The Queen) who took home the top prize. (Forest, well-deserved; and perhaps Helen too... although, I still can't get over the fact that "The Queen" was a t.v. movie that some studio exec said, "Let's just try it as a feature and see if it works.")

And though I loved "Little Miss Sunshine" I have to admit I was rooting for Mark Wahlberg to take home Best Supporting Actor... come on, peeps. Didn't a little part of you want to see Marky-Mark snub the Hollywood establishment by taking home a little gold, bald, naked guy? And while we all knew that Jennifer Hudson was going to take it, I would have loved to see little Abigail Breslin with the upset... and maybe even get a little "Superfreaky" on stage.

There were some definite high points of the evening-- Ellen Degeneres outdid herself and had me laughing outloud. But none so high as these beloved fellows. As you know, I do have a little love-fest of my own with my man
John C. Reilly. And Marky-Mark is badass, indeed. Until next year... goodnight.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shut Up and Make Out!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Very Dixie Update

Following the Grammy Awards, "Not Ready to Make Nice" and "Taking the Long Way" both rose to the #1 downloaded song and album, respectively, on iTunes. Sales of TTLW also increased 830%.

Hurray for the Chicks!

(6-month Nea showing her Dixie pride!)

... and back by popular demand, the b-side:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gay Boyfriend

This confirms my long-held believe that everyone needs a gay boyfriend. I mean, there's a SONG about it, so it must be true! Anne (the blond) and I went to Vassar together-- she was hysterical then, and clearly, she still is!! We both were in the Night Owls (she is an amazing bass), and she was the only one in a very somber group of girls that didn't take everything so seriously (I mean, come on, people. It's only a cappella). It's terrific to see her still using her talent for good! The 'souped-up-techno-ish' version of this song was a top dance hit on the U.K. charts (I think you can also find that on YouTube), but I like the original version.

Here's "Gay Boyfriend" by The Hazzards (check out their album on iTunes).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

In Case You Missed the Chicks...

As I did-- here's a repeat performance. Also take a look at my sister's recent blog entry, as she said it best. "Shut Up and Sing" is available on DVD beginning next Tuesday (2/20); I highly recommend it, whether you're purchasing it or Netflixing, it's definitely worth the "see." Plus-- a great intro from the great Joan Baez.

Monday, February 12, 2007

They're Baaacck!

In my zealousness to get to the Obama rally, I forgot about music's biggest night... and didn't have my Tivo ready to tape it. If I have said it once, I'll say it again... thank heaven for YouTube! Of course, it may not have been as exciting as if I had watched it "live" (was it live for any of us?), and I'm bummed because 2006 was actually a really good music year; but regardless, this did give me an awfully big grin. Can't WAIT for the tour!!!

The Man Who Would Be King

Only if you live under a rock do you not know that this man is running for President. Even before the official declaration yesterday in Springfield (IL), the speculation was swirling... and perhaps even that audacity of hope-- hope that this could be the person that could change the tide of wrong through which we've all (well, maybe not all) unwittingly been dragged. I went to Senator Obama's rally at UIC tonight in Chicago. It was exciting and inspiring and, well, hopeful.

He's the candidate that you want to believe in-- separating himself from the "Washington Insiders" and the establishment; supporting health care reform and education, as do they all, of course. But among the very smart things that he said tonight, there was a particular gem about the war: "We have to be as careful about getting out of the war as we were careless getting into it." He may not have voted for the war (well, because he wasn't in a position to do so yet), or support the reasons why we are in it-- but he supports the troops and doesn't want to see one more American soldier killed; by pulling funding (of which many are in favor), it means no armor, no weapons, no protection for the soldiers. This is a man that we should get behind. This is someone that I can believe in.

But for the time being, I'm reserving making a decision. There's a lot more race to run... and we've only just begun to get to know those who have thrown their hat into it-- even the junior senator from Illinois. And we have not only the luxury of time, but the obligation to learn and educate ourselves about all of the candidates. We are a democratic nation-- and we can only continue to be one if we make educated decisions and actually elect a leader who not only has our best interests at heart, but can also represent our nation-- and repair its image, on the global stage.

Hope is an iffy thing at best... something that I tend to want to squash in myself. But this is a man that inspires people to actually believe that we can make a difference-- who makes people believe that change is possible. Perhaps it shouldn't be about audacity at all-- but rather, an obligation. Not only to hope, but to actually do.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Only in New York

Yes-- some clever New Yorker has actually logged, with painstaking detail, the good (ummm, not much good...), bad and the ugly smells around the city of New York (click on graphic).

When I was there last week, I actually had the pleasure of seeing frozen dog pee AND frozen vomit on the sidewalk. Classic. Not only because I didn't know either could actually get cold enough to freeze, but also because New Yorkers just sidestepped it without so much of an acknowledgement of disgust. Oh, you've gotta love New York. And of course I couldn't help but draw the comparison to Chicago where you wouldn't see non-frozen dog pee, let alone vomit on any sidewalk... I've often wondered if there are oompa loompahs who scuttle around and clean up the mess in Chicago city streets-- there is nary a cigarette butt, nor animal or human excrement that one need avoid. Maybe Midwesterners are just cleaner.

But I still love New York.

Friday, February 02, 2007

We Miss You, Steve

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My Famous Friend

I am the first to admit that I'm not the hugest fan of musicals. "What?!?" you may exclaim? "How is that possible?!?" Well, maybe that's not entirely true. Admittedly, I do get a certain satisfaction over the whole bursting into song in response to hills being alive with the sound of music or winds rushing through the plains. And any celebration of 76 trombones is supercalafragalisticexpealadocious by me (okay-- even for me that was super cheesy). But as the song and dance starts to exceed about 75 minutes, I'm anxiously awaiting the grand finale, twitching in my seat and silently (well, sometimes not so silently) groaning at the reprise of the big ballad or central dance number. Just shoot me.

But all that goes by the wayside when you see one of your dearest friends in her Broadway debut.
The beautiful and extremely talented Jeslyn Kelly is currently dancing and singing (and, errr... swinging... haha) her way through Tarzan: The Musical, Disney's latest extravaganza set in the bright lights of Broadway. BROADWAY!!! As in the neon lights are bright on Broadway!! Jes and I survived the Vassar Night Owls together (we bonded as roomies during Bill's second inauguration while fighting off the craziness that ensues from being part of an all-female a cappella group); we moved to NYC together; scraped each other off the ground after failed relationships; and were each other's rocks through personal and professional heartaches.

Jes is one of the most talented people I know. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "ummm... of course you would say that; you already wrote that she is one of your dearest friends." But seriously-- if you have met her (and some of you have), you know that it's unequivocally true. She is the definition of triple threat: actor, singer, dancer. But, even more importantly, she is one of the kindest, most generous, wonderful people that I've been blessed to have in my life and call friend. She is truly beautiful, inside and out. Someone once exclaimed about her, in mock frustration, "God! You want to hate her but you can't because she's so damn nice!"

On Saturday I had the pleasure of cheering her on from my orchestra seat (thanks, Jes!!), and reveling in her latest achievement: a Broadway show. And I have to say, when she flew onto stage (quite literally b/c a large part of the show is an aerial performance and she's cabled to the ceiling), I actually got choked up and a little weepy at the fact that I was seeing her ON BROADWAY-- something we used to discuss in our late night heart-to-hearts when we'd speculate about where we'd be in ten years from our little 1 bedroom apartment in Queens. No one deserves more success than this amazing woman. And how lucky am I that I got to see it evolve and happen first hand? It's the best musical I've seen in the last ten years (and yes, there have been other musicals you skeptics, you).

In addition to her busy life as a stage actor, she also does a lot of other projects in her life as a dancer and aerial artist-- as witnessed in this week's Microsoft Vista launch in NYC. Here she is performing with the company, "Grounded Aerial" on the side of a building. Crazy, huh? Look for her in red...

Love you Jes. I know this is just the start of many more amazing things to come.

Video: Human Billboard

Video: Human Billboard Interview