21 June 2007

jacki's viewless reviews - music and lyrics

this is a new feature on my blog, where i'll review a movie based purely on the title, the poster and my bitter soul. i promise never to see these movies or read anything about them, so you'll have to let me know how far off i am from the truth.

music and lyrics (2007)
(note: this movie just came out in spain)

he is a has-been songwriter who has penned hits for several manufactured pop groups - think spice girls. he was renowned for his radio-friendly hits, his forays into drugs and alcohol and his scandalous affairs with salacious members of said pop groups. this has led to demise, and liberal usage of the term "washed-up."

she is a classically-trained pianist who is gifted but not quite good enough for juilliard. she has always shunned pop music as culturally devoid nonsense, but now she needs money/is learning to push her limits/wants to make a name for herself/wants to get back at the ex-boyfriend who left her for the lead cellist of the boston symphony orchestra.

there is some kind of contest, some kind of reality show where one song will win and the songwriters will win lots of money and eternal fame and the chance to avenge all their past mistakes. somehow, despite their differences, through the encouragement of their adorably wacky best friends, these two team up and give it a shot.

hilarity ensues. and musical montages. slowly they grow on each other, learn from each other. romance blossoms. then disappointment - he appears on page six stumbling out of a strip club with the girlband vixen. but the contest is tomorrow! a midnight expression of love, possibly in central park. he begs for forgiveness. she relents.

somehow the lessons they have learned are perfectly expressed in their winning song, which they sing onstage together in front of screaming fans - this song bridges the pop-classical gap, appeals to all the fans they had and lost, and finds new ones. true love.

14 June 2007

top five cartoon crushes

animation has provided us with countless lady hotties, but cute cartoon guys are harder to come by. maybe because this is classically a domain of prepubescent boys and older male nerds. however, i've had my share of cartoon crushes, and here are the best of them:

5. silver surfer - ok this one is going to seem trendy because of the movie, but some of you may remember that i had a silver surfer action figure way back in college. his appeal is unquestionable: he's basically a big silver hunk of man on a surfboard, a perfect combination of intensity and laid-back surfer chic. kind of like owen wilson. i mean, this guy will save your life, then take you for a fish taco on the boardwalk.

4. james barris - confession: i have an enormous crush on robert downey jr. so when he showed up in a scanner darkly my crush naturally transferred to his animated version. this is classic rdj: although he is a brilliant actor he never seems so comfortable in a role than when he is playing a druggie. his magic - and i think this also holds true in real life - is that he can make even the biggest fuck-up irresistibly charming. although, as you probably know, i'm a longtime member of the keanu fan club, rdj stole the scene here, as he always does.

3. aladdin - all you have to do is scroll down this list of disney princes, and see that the role of mr. charming was historically lacking in hotness. here we see a bunch of middle-aged looking wasps who usually arrive in the last few minutes of the film to sing a song and sweep the damsel away on a horse. well that all changed with aladdin. he's basically a homeless guy with a bangin' bod, a great personality, a hilarious buddy and a cool pet. i love how his scrappy bravura cracks to show a vulnerable side once he assumes his alter-ego of prince ali. let me tell you, chicks dig this type of thing. we were all there swooning with those ladies as he paraded through town on an elephant, knowing that his confidence was concealing a secret shyness.

2. rio pacheco - rio is one of those guys you like even though you know that he's kind of an asshole. he started out as basically a good guy, a volunteer at the foster home and jerrica's boyfriend. however he eventually developed a crush on jem and the show ended on a cliffhanger with rio double-timing two girls who are the same person. this is undoubtedly one of the great unsolved endings in television - this whole sopranos thing pales in comparison! the truth is, rio's bad side is what makes him sexy: the lying, the deceit, the secrecy, and yet he can be a real sweetie when he wants to. i mean, if jerrica really trusted him then wouldn't she tell him her identity? perhaps with a guy like this you need to have your own secrets.

1. trent lane - absolutely the most crushable cartoon fella out there;
even the ever-cynical daria couldn't help but blush a little when trent was around. trent's rockstar slacker attitude was peppered by a hint of zen calmness, his soft raspy voice delivered the type of inane truisms that only truly attractive people can get away with, and his slight slouch suggested a world weariness - a wiseness, dare i say? - that perfectly defines a classic childhood crush: your friend's older brother.

any to add to the list?

12 June 2007

storytime: cambodia, part 1

lately i have been lazy, or uninspired, when it comes to writing in my blog. it doesn't mean that i haven't been thinking of things to say, i just never get around to saying them.

i have alot of things i want to post about. for example: the sopranos season finale. my weekend. thoughts on things i've seen or read. see, even coming up with examples seems tiring.

so, inspired by my friend mark's new blog, i'm going to do some storytelling around here. i told that hitchhiking story a week ago, and it was fun. so today begins another travel story: my trip to cambodia. this one comes from the same 2000-2001 trip i took with ange, about 3 months after the hitchhiking adventures in australia.

we left bangkok at 5am. retrospectively, our six-month trip broke into three parts: the first was just the two of us, a few months on the road together. then the second part: visitors. boyfriends and friends and other travelers. the third part began that morning that we left bangkok. seth left the same morning to begin his trip back to the us and we got on a mini-bus headed for siem reap, the city where angkor wat is located. the rest of our trip would be shaped by our experiences that day.

like all buses in southeast asia, this one fell short of expectations. it was small, stuffy, rattly and crowded with other backpackers. the air conditioning was non-existent. it was late september - rainy season - which meant humidity. by this point in our journey we had befriended valium as an invaluable traveling partner, so we spent the morning sleeping as we headed toward the border. the trip to siem reap was advertised as nine hours, we expected to be there by early afternoon.

we pulled into the border town a few hours later. as border towns go, this one was particularly decrepit. the poverty was such that there were naked 3-year olds carrying 1-year olds. everyone was selling, or looking for something to sell, or just begging. everything was hanging on the edge of ruin.

so the border officials decided to hold us there for what ended up being four hours without explanation. our thai bus drivers just shrugged their shoulders as the time ticked slowly past. it was interminable, we were in the hot sun, surrounded by chaos, faintly worried that we might have to spend the night, or the year. looking back, it was part of an elaborate manipulation to get us to spend money but at the time it felt like a desperate situation, made worse by the desperation in the eyes of everybody we saw in that town.

i'll never forget this vehicle we saw trying to lumber down the street. at the bottom was a small wooden wagon on wooden wheels, something from the previous century. on this precarious base rested a pile of something two stories high, hanging over the edge in every direction and swaying. this beast was rolling unsteadily down the uneven dirt street pulled with ropes by a few small guys, trying to fit under a concrete arch that marked the border. it had about an inch of clearance. it was almost impossible that this thing would make it anywhere, disaster was imminent any way you looked at it. yet they slowly tugged this thing along, all of us standing there watching, grimacing, waiting for the inevitable crash that never happened. this vehicle seemed like an allegory for the entire situation.

eventually they stamped our passports and we got back on the bus as evening was falling. we were happy to be on our way, until the next stop, a mere hour later.

to be continued...

in other news:
  • seth has a new blog. bookmark it, put it on your google reader and get ready to laugh
  • paul takes better photos than me. check out his pictures of my bbq and our picnic for zoe's bday on saturday.
  • mark posted an incredible 1960s video of nina simone singing four women. all i can say is wow. and i stand by my claim that if i could see any concert of any artist alive or dead, it would be nina.
  • good stuff on crucial minutiae of late. often i have been fascinated by the miracle of the "guy friend" - how they are so adept at explaining the mindgame bullshit of other guys. here, a serial guy friend tries to explain it all.

05 June 2007

summer is upon us

i've done it, i've broken down and bought my ticket back to the us for the summer. you don't want to know what i paid, but let's just say it's less than $1000. but not by much. and i have layovers in frankfurt, lovely.

so, my summer plans are set and here they are:

July 2-11: framingham, with a weekend yoga retreat in the Berkshires for the 4th
July 11-15: big star lake, michigan
July 15-Aug 10: nyc, working for da man. weekend trips to beer olympics (july 21) joie's wedding (july 29) and hopefully riis park, dia beacon and belmont
aug 10-14: washington dc
aug 14-10: new hampshire. internship at the sunny grange, other granola-based activities
aug 20-23: ogunquit. lewin family vacation.
aug 23-31: framingham. this is the frontier, the last week of the summer, mostly unplanned.
aug 31-sept 15: northern spain. camino de santiago

so there it is, folks, my summer. please make yourself a part of that schedule if you haven't already done so.

in other news, it has come to my attention that there's a little rumor floating around that i'm planning to move back to the us. this rumor has legs, and wings; it has crossed a continent and an ocean and five people to arrive to my terrace. so let me set the record straight: for the time being i have no plans to move back to the us permanently. although i do plan to continue spending 3-4 months a year there and eventually would like to be able to split my time.

01 June 2007

sydney or bust

my dad has always let me know what he expected out of me without saying it outright. perhaps because i was such a damn well-behaved child, or because disciplining was mostly my mom's job, i can't remember him ever drilling into me the classic parental lessons of "eat your vegetables" or "don't talk to strangers" or "don't drink and drive."these types of lessons were implicit, rather than explicit.

however, i do specifically remember him making me promise not to hitchhike, or pick up a hitchhiker. this was said explicitly, and i promised like the faithful obedient child i was. i always wondered why he felt so strongly about this, was there a dangerous episode he wasn't telling me about? to this day i still wonder...

but of course, like most kids told not to do something, even the most well-behaved kids, i went out and broke that promise. ange and i discovered hitchhiking in fiji, where it was the only way to get across the island. our next stop was australia, where the idea of getting from cairns to sydney entirely on buses was suddenly unfathomable.

once you start hitchhiking, it seems ludicrous to pay for transportation. we set up some general rules for ourselves - which we mostly kept to - and spent long days on the road. we wouldn't get into a car if either or us felt the slightest creepiness or unease. we would stay awake, alert and watch the road. we wouldn't take rides from truckers. we would stop before dark.

the hardest part was just getting out of town, most people are driving short distances. most people have been told by their fathers not to ever hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. but we must have been so cute standing there with our backpacks. it was never too hard to get a ride. most people couldn't believe we were hitchhiking, especially once they found out we were americans.

usually the people who picked us up were fathers who had daughters and were trying to save us from the dangerous fate of the hitchhiker, or other people who had hitchhiked in the past and were paying back some karma. i have mostly stuck to my promise of not picking up hitchhikers, but i do feel a special twinge of sympathy when i see one.

the hardest part was having the same conversations over and over again. we would spend three hours in the car with somebody, tell them all about our trip, where we were from, why we were hitchhiking, etc. then ten minutes later get into another car and have to start all over. sometimes the best rides were the ones where everybody was just silent. more often than not we met kind people who were unbelievably helpful and generous. without all the urban myths and fear, hitchhiking is a lovely system, a way of sharing and mutual convenience, a way to meet people you might not ever know.

so, sorry dad, i broke my promise. but i suspect you have at least one good hitchhiking story too.

unrelated: richard serra talks about the installation of his 40-year retrospective at moma in this new york times audio slide show.