Monday, September 29, 2008

if ya don't know, now ya know

Hey guys, Anna here. I saw from my main source of news (ohnotheydidnt, obviously) that VH1 had done another of their countdown lists that I'm powerless to resist ― this time ranking the 100 Best Hip-Hop Songs Of All Time. The top 20:

 1. Public Enemy ― "Fight The Power"

2. Sugarhill Gang ― "Rapper's Delight"

3. Dr. Dre ― "Nuthin But A 'G' Thang"

4. Run-DMC ft. Aerosmith― "Walk This Way"

5. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five ― "The Message"

6. N.W.A. ― "Straight Outta Compton"

7. Notorious B.I.G. ― "Juicy"

8. Snoop Doggy Dogg ― "Gin and Juice"

9. Salt-N-Pepa ― "Push It  "

10. Kurtis Blow ― "The Breaks"

11. Jay-Z ― "Hard Knock Life"

12. L.L. Cool J ― "I Can't Live Without My Radio"

13. Wu-Tang Clan ―   "C.R.E.A.M."

14. Tupac ― "I Get Around "

15. Eminem ― "Stan "

16. Missy Elliott ― "Get Ur Freak On"

17. Sir Mix-A-Lot ― "Baby Got Back"

18. 50 Cent ― "In Da Club"

19. Ice T ― "Colors"

20. Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx "Gold Digger"

 Obviously, as with any VH1 list, I have some issues. The full 100 can be found here (, as I'll be referring to it throughout this post as well. Basically, one of the commenters summed up my general reaction with the remark "most popular ≠ best."

But for better or worse, I can't help but throw in my $.02. No fucking way do 50 Cent or Sir Mix-A-Lot belong in that Top 20. I get the general idea of limiting each artist to one song, but those spots could have easily been taken by another B.I.G. or Jay-Z track (no "99 Problems" anywhere on the list? Shameful.).

 Not to mention, you know, a lot of the best artists (and this is a gripe I have with numerous lists, not just this one) put out actually more than one great song. Imagine. So. We could have actually made room for, say, "California Love," and the other Tupac track and gotten rid of motherfucking "Make 'Em Say Ugh."

(Edit: I actually see that Run-DMC and L.L. Cool J managed to get two tracks each, by some miracle. As it should be. But how, then, is there still room for so much awfulness?!)

Or how about some LAURYN HILL?! Good God. She only has, according to Entertainment Weekly's issue that came out earlier this summer, the second most important record of the last 25 years. (Oh yeah, and didn't she win some Grammys? And isn't "Doo Wop (That Thing)" an incredible song? Huh.) I literally have looked for her name everytime I have scrolled down the list, because my brain cannot process her music not being on it.

The other thing: attempting to force contemporary music on here ― yeah, only do that if it's good. That means no "Hate It Or Love It," no "Oh Boy," and mother of God, no "Get Low." How about some more Outkast? Or, to stop harping on my "put more than one song" thing, how about some Lupe Fiasco?!

All right, I might have harped enough. I want to hear from you guys now. What do you think—about this list, or about lists in general? I love them, I hate them, I love/hate them, love to hate them, etc. etc. And yet, let me end with one:

 Tracks I’d Add (in no order):

1. “99 Problems” — Jay-Z

2. “One Mic” — Nas

3. “Intergalactic” — Beastie Boys

4. “My Name Is” —Eminem

5. “My Adidas” — Run-DMC

6. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” — Lauryn Hill

7. “All Falls Down” —Kanye West

8. “Lose Yourself”—Eminem

9. “White Lines”—Grandmaster Flash

10. “Summertime”—DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (at the time)

11. “California Love”—Tupac

12. “Work It”— Missy Elliot

14. “Hypnotize”—Notorious B.I.G.

15. “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)”—Jay-Z

Come discuss/argue with me in the comments!



Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Man, a Paul Sorenson post? I thought that kid went to LA and got beamed up by the scientologists. As I was eagerly awaiting Kanye's performance at Lollapalooza this past summer, I couldn't believe the kind of shit I was hearing from other people surrounding me. Sweeping statements to the effect of, "Did you hear why kanye is performing right now? He said he wouldn't play till everyone else is done." Dude, if you hate on 'Ye so much, why are you watching him? Sure Mr. West is prone to acting the fool in public at times, but he's being turned into this mythic Darth Vader of hip-hop. I guarantee you your favorite indie rock superstar is a fucking dick too. Give Win Butler his cappuccino a few degrees too cold and hell throw it in your face. 

I hearby display exhibit A of why Kanye is a good dude. 

Kanye has his own blog, which I recently discovered thanks to my older sister showing me a video he made for the song "Champion" where puppet Kanye competes in various athletic challenges. 

On the 'Ye blog, he reps cool gadgets (Peter Thuvander's concept for a yo-yo that charges your Iphone in 30 up-downs), Hot clothing lines (BBlessing fall line), Hotter women, Obama, songs that helped influence/inspire him (Raekwon's 'Glaciers of Ice' which made me happy as hell because Only Built for Cuban Linxx.... was all I listened to this summer pretty much) 

None of these things are self-serving like everyone believes his every breath is designed for. 

He is just looking out for cool new things being done by obscure sources that deserve to have their work seen/heard/appreciated. 

ultimate case in point #2: Kanye used his blog to debut his first single off the upcoming 808s and Heartbreak  - "Love Lockdown", and talked about his neuroses of what it should sound like - leaving it open to suggestions from the millions that read his blogs. He actually took advice from fans (added more drums, changed some vocals) and re-released the new version which will ultimately become the official version. he gave fans a hand in his own process - when have you ever heard of that happening? WHAT AN ARROGANT DICK! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !  ! ! 

Thank you, I'll die happy now.

If I was a guy I would feel as if I had the biggest cohones on campus right now because of an event I very recently experienced. I perpetually thought about it. I prepared for it. I even dressed for it. Yesterday I had a particularly rousing conversation with my personal heroine.

By an act of God, perfect timing, or both, I nabbed an interview with author/screenwriter/b.a.m.f. Diablo Cody. Not to be overtly graphic or anything but it was 31 minutes of bladder-releasing bliss. And she is a saint for putting up with my madness.

The first four minutes of the conversation (well, there wasn't really an exchange then because I rambled on, giggling like an idiot) went fairly well! But after the Iowa grad eased tension by joking about shitty cell phone reception, I felt like I was chatting with an old pal... who just happens to be working for Spielberg.

I know the student population can relate: talking to a Chicago suburbanite--which I'm fairly positive makes up one-third of enrollment here-- is like trying to keep up with a professional auctioneer. Diablo Cody reinforces that analogy time and again. I mean, have you seen her on Letterman??

"One night I remember going [to the Union] at my freshman orientation and sneaking in with somebody, and drinking like five sex on the beaches, and getting extremely ill, and throwing up the entire next day, and my mom was horrified because we had driven all the way from Chicago for it," Cody said, recounting her first college drinking experience in a single breath.

But that hardly scratches the surface of our conversation. Cody graciously answered my every Q with witty magnificence, and insight that every aspiring writer should at least hear. She even commended our very own!

"I have to say that I love that I’m talking to the D.I. because I used to read that paper every day," she told me.

Um, if that doesn't instill school pride in your little hearts then I don't know what.

Believe me, I capitalized on the phone call like nobody's business. That woman is going to get mad publicity in the Daily Iowan (spread throughout three articles!), which will be published soon.

If you're as incredibly dazzled by Cody as I am (did I mention I dressed nice for the phone interview?) then you should probably stay tuned or something, babies.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Keeping It Fun in the 2008 Election

The 2008 election is the first time I will ever have voted for a president, and honestly, I'm starting to feel the pressure. It's not that I feel the burden of America's future rests solely on my shoulders, but more that my nervous, anxious nature is causing me to frantically absorb every speech, newscast and political analysis I see in order to determine what my life will be like when the new president steps in, whichever way the polls turn out.

Therefore, I'm truly thankful when television personalities remind me of the lighter side of the election. Taking the election seriously is important, but remembering to relax and laugh will get you through it (or maybe not relax, but just laugh through your distress). Here are a few clips that keep me happy as I press onward through the election coverage:

The Daily Show news team investigates what small town values really mean at the Republican Convention.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler could not have done it better.

(I'm not great at embedding videos, so click the link to watch it on the SNL site.)

I was lucky enough to catch McCain's appearance on Rachael Ray between classes (complete with a "Kiss the Candidate" apron).


It's NOT Lupus.

Season 5 of Fox's "House" premiered last Tuesday--finally!

Since this show premiered a few years back, I've been hooked, owning every season and seeing every last episode. It was a chance meeting for me and the first episode of Season 1 back in 2005, premiering after "American Idol". Honestly, I was too lazy to change the channel. I ended up completely enthralled by the brand-new medical drama.

I am not much of a T.V. person, and am not easily impressed by the new reality shows that seem to pop up every time I blink. Because of this, "House" was more than successful at capturing my undivided attention! "House"'s characters are deep, complex, and interesting. The plot thickens with professional and sexual tension with each passing episode.

What makes the show truly unique is its main character, Dr. Gregory House. The reclusive, bitter Vicodin addict is not exactly what you'd call a ray of sunshine. In this case, it's not that his bark is worse than his bite, but more so that his bark is his bite. Whatever House utters is the truth (to him at least), and his colleagues decide to either take it or leave it. Actor Hugh Laurie perfectly portrays Dr. House, who is capable of being compelling, sarcastic, intelligent, and appalling all at once. Still and all, it is these flaws that keep everyone coming back for more (and more...and...more).

"House" airs Tuesday nights on FOX at 7 pm. If I were you, I'd give it a whirl.

-Rebecca Koons

Top Eleven Things I Loved About the 2008 Emmys

Hey Arts fans! The opinionated and television-obsessed blogger is back, if only by unpopular demand. Let's talk Emmys. Anna did an excellent job blogging the event, and I'm now here to recap my favorite moments. Why eleven? Because this year's Emmys were just that good (and by "that good," I mean a vast improvement over last year's ceremony).

11. Oprah opening the show. I'm not in the "Cult of Oprah," but dammit if she isn't gorgeous, classy, and well-spoken. She stumbled a little in reading off the TelePrompTer, but she was the perfect person to open the show's 60th Anniversary telecast. Who is a better example of how far television has come in 60 years?

10. The "In Memoriam" Reel. I know I'm a sap for putting this on my top ten list, and also a jerk for ranking it at number nine, but so it goes. The opening and closing clips of George Carlin young and old really struck me, and I almost got misty when I saw the great Tim Russert drilling Hillary Clinton on "Meet the Press." It also reminded me of the legends I forgot we lost this year, Suzanne Pleshette and Estelle Getty in particular. Rest in peace all.

9. Sally Field presenting Tom Hanks with the Outstanding Miniseries Award for John Adams. He called her Momma and then began to quote Forrest Gump's famous line about life being like a box of chocolates. Adorable.

8. Steve Martin finally presenting Tommy Smothers with an Emmy. After years of being ignored and silenced for speaking his mind and being unafraid to ruthlessly satirize politics and war, the great legend Tommy Smothers finally got his Emmy. Steve Martin was effortlessly hilarious, as usual, in his introduction, and Smothers was so grateful and still willing to stir the pot of political discourse. I wish there were more like him, but it isn't possible. He's one of a kind and impossible to touch.

7. Josh Groban's Television Theme Renditions. I expected this to be cheesy and a time-waster, and it ended up being one of the most entertaining moments of the night. Groban does great "South Park" voices while singing, and managed to touch on almost every great theme song of the past 60 years (though where was "The Final Frontier" from "Mad About You?" Did I miss it? The whole procession moved like a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos). Groban gets props for having a good sense of humor. Who knew?

6. Steve Carell and Ricky Gervais. David Brent meets Michael Scott. How great was it to watch Gervais taunt a stone-faced Carell? Someone write these two a film script, NOW! For me, this was one of the biggest laughs of the night. 

5.Mary Tyler Moore awarding the Outstanding Series-Comedy Emmy to Tina Fey. Mary Richards passed the torch to her heir, Liz Lemon. This moment was everything I hoped it would be and a triumph for women in comedy.

4. John Krasinski saying "How You Doin.'" How sexy was this? Seriously. I'm so glad I didn't take my eyes off the screen for the first two hours of the telecast, otherwise I would've missed this throwaway moment. And, by the way, I'm doin' a lot better now...

3. Laura Linney's line celebrating Community Organizers. What a great moment for the former Hillary supporter to unite her party in blue-Hollywood and stand firm behind her candidate. A great swipe worth watching again on Tivo. She's a class act, and made a great Abigail Adams. The ball's in Palin's court now.

2.The vignettes showing off the nominees for best writing for a variety, comedy, or music series. This is a cheat since I look forward to these every year. Each show's entry made me laugh, with the biggest guffaw going to Conan for his Angelina Jolie-inspired showcase. *Bonus kudos to Conan for his dig at Katherine Heigl. 

1. President Josiah Bartlet encouraging everyone to vote. Martin Sheen played the best president this country will never have, regardless of party affiliation. Bartlet was a man of great faith, integrity, and strong convictions. If anyone should convince people to pull the lever this November, its him. I only wish his intro had been penned by the great Aaron Sorkin. 

These aren't really in any order, but if you know me you can probably guess where I'd place each moment on the spectrum. Feel free to comment and remind me of any great moments I missed.

--Meryn, who doesn't know what she'd do if she was invited to the Emmys but would love to find out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rockin' out with Jenny Lewis' Acid Tongue

Jenny Lewis' new album Acid Tongue has an undeniable drive and a new sound. Unlike Rabbit Fur Coat this album achieves more of a rock sound without abandoning the folk roots altogether. The tempos and beats intensify toward the middle of the CD but even the slower song entice with a softer, seductive sound. The natural, free vocals against the strong rhythms and melody reiterate Lewis' aptitude. 

The album offers variety: an Elvis Costello/Jenny Lewis duet in "Carpetbaggers," the rhythm and melodic switch-ups in "The Next Messiah," and the juxtaposing of  folk and rock sounds. Acid Tongue keeps the attention of listeners even after repeated plays. 

**** out of  *****

My favorites: "The Next Messiah," "Jack Killed Mom," and "Acid Tongue"
-Elizabeth Timmins

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Anna Blogs the Emmys

Let me begin by saying that I am actually very poorly informed as to TV this year--been busy what with medical crises, a flood here and there, and oh, yeah...wasn't there some kind of strike? Huh. Does that stop the DI Arts Blog from doing what it's here to do? Um, will Suede continue referring to himself in the third person on this week's Project Runway? (Too insidery? Just go with "yes.")

Also, I'm sorry to say that I joined the show an hour in, thanks to travel difficulties. I had previously known about the plan to have multiple reality personalities as the hosts and such. So, I tuned in at 8 p.m., as ready as I could be.

8:13--The fantastic "Laugh-In" reunion presents "Variety/Comedy/Music" to Jon Stewart and co., giving us yet another chance to hear how weird that theme music sounds when played by any other orchestra, ever.

8:19--David Boreaneaz wants to die. Lauren Conrad does have that effect, it appears--but he gets to introduce Mrs. Landingham! Formerly of "The West Wing," she'll never be anything else to me.

8:31--Oh, holy hell. It's like I made this "West Wing" tribute happen WITH MY MIND.

8:32--Awww. Martin Sheen looks so cute. I would vote Bartlet if I could, baby.

8:34--Speaking as someone who just made a leap in terms of her glasses, there's a lot of judgements to be made here tonight. The Academy prez--eh.

8:40--I'm sorry, Lance Bass just upped his gay at least 40 points. How many sparkles did they cram onto that tiny little sleeveless shirt?

8:43--If Lawrence Fishburne were wearing that fantastic red coat on every episode of "CSI," I might tune in.

8:45--They're like, obligated to show all the equally funny people during Colbert/Stewart: Carrell, Ricky Gervais.

8:47--Remember when Jay Roach was the director of the "Austin Powers" and "Meet The Parents" movies? Wow. Now they'll apparently let anyone shove VOTE OR DIE stuff down viewers' throats...gone are the days when it was sacred and Diddy-only.

8:49--Whoa. "John Adams" guy gets shut down when even a hint of partisianship is sensed. Ouch, buddy. The line about having "his own Abigail Adams" was cute, though.

8:51--"Beverly Hills Chihuahua," huh? Have the "Halloween" checks possibly run out so fact, Jamie Lee Curtis? Sigh.

8:56--Kathy Effing Griffin rules so hard. Don Rickles may be dying as we speak. Does it stop him from kicking the ass of everyone else in the room? Certainly not.

8:58--Adrien Grenier either has no idea who Don Rickles is, or is stoned out of his mind. For the benefit of the doubt, let's go with the latter.

8:59--OMG, Kathy has such a gigantic crush on Don Rickles. I love it. Also, The Amazing Race, blah, whatever.

9:02--Glasses decision on Tom Hanks: gross. Also, who is the conductor that gets the balls to play Tom Hanks off? Seriously? Seriously?

9:08--"Thanks to Howie Mandel's prattling, our bit has been cut." NEIL PATRICK HARRIS. JUST MARRY ME, GOD.

9:12--Don Rickles, schooling pretty much everyone in "Awesome Speech Giving." For me, the Clint Eastwood impression sealed it, and the line about his wife on the beach put things over the top in amazingness. Fantastic.

9:18--Macy's just put together a genius ad. Nice job, editing department. I want to go there now.

9:23--We at my house determine that Glenn Close is both looking fabulous and like she could eat us if she wanted to. Not, surprisingly, as unappealing as it sounds.

9:25--Charlie Sheen got nominated for Lead Comedy Actor? Come ON. Thankfully, Alec Baldwin wins, negating my need to kill anyone.

9:40--I dig Craig Ferguson so much. He needs much more work than he gets, and his delivery of this material just proves that. Brooke Shields, meh. But Tina Fey wins Lead Comedy Actress! Yay! "I want to thank my parents for giving me confidence that is disproportionate to my looks and abilities," she says in her speech, and yet proves it wrong by looking fab in that dress.

9:44--I am so, so done with this reality show host crap. Finish this and be done.

9:45--And they go to commercial. Funny, except when you realize that there's still more of this ridiculous nonsense waiting. Good LORD.

9:51--Before I can even get irate about anymore reality stuff, Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White appear to soothe the wounds. (HOW is "Two and a Half Men" wrangling all these nominations?)

9:55--This speech is making me wonder why I'm watching this monstrosity of a show when I could be rewatching the actual "30 Rock." Congrats, ya'll.

9:56--Tom Selleck manages to make cutting things short sound badass instead of bitchy. "Mad Men" takes the prize, and apparently I really, really need to start watching this. Sorry that Paul's rec wasn't enough and that I needed the approval of the lame ol' Academy to ring things in.

9:58--Jeff Probst, as the official winning host, bids us goodnight. Anna's official word: Meh. Good things happened, but the "old meets new" style they appeared to be going for with this show just left me wanting to bust out my old school DVDs and never have to endure another ad for a lame reality competition show like whatever show it is where the girl doesn't know her brother's secret crush. Um, hi? It's called a SECRET crush for a reason, TV personalities. Duh. Have to explain everything these days...

--Anna, peacing out after about 12 hours of travel, and obviously overjoyed to be back in the enfolding arms of the IC.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trippin' on "Acid."

Jenny Lewis: Rilo Kiley frontwoman, indie rock princess, former Angelina Jolie costar, red-head awareness raiser.


Many titles for one woman, and she deserves them all. Her work with Rilo Kiley is of course classic, and her 2006 solo debut Rabbit Fur Coat was pretty darn good. Actually, it was great. I think I played it too much during senior year of high school, and it got all scratched up. Oops.

Lucky for me, she's releasing another disc on September 23, titled Acid Tongue. Even luckier for me, it was posted in its entirety on her MySpace, though now there are curiously only two tracks up. At least there are still those semi-creepy YouTube videos she made with Ben Gibbard to watch. Why can't he be hiding in my closet?

While Rabbit Fur Coat was totally stripped down - mostly soft acoustic tracks with Jenny's (Ms. Lewis if you're nasty) airy vocals soaring above it all - Acid Tongue has heavier instrumentation and a more diverse sound. But for the purist in you, don't worry: there are still the gentle alt-country tracks you'd expect.

"The Next Messiah" is a straight-up Southern rock jam, complete with deep bass lines and pulsing guitar lines. The title track, on the other hand, is a pretty, poetic ditty, perfect for romancing that special someone. But my favorite of the album (making a bold claim here) is most likely the opener, "Black Sand."

It's way too early to decide which album I like better. I mean, I haven't even purchased Acid Tongue yet, let alone played it ad naseum into oblivion. But after these first few listens, it's right up there with Jenny Lewis' original solo work. No wonder Rilo's Under the Blacklight was so lackluster - Ms. Lewis seems to have spent more of her energy here, particularly in the songwriting department. Don't get me wrong, I like "Moneymaker" just as much as the next hipster, but you can only hear her pant "Ow ow owwwww ooooohhh yeahhhh" so many times.

Despite my great despair that Acid Tongue was taken off MySpace, I'll still be able to hear it WHEN I SEE HER LIVE. Uhh, yeah. Next weekend in Omaha, her old stomping grounds. (Sorry editors, I'll have to miss the exciting Sunday A&C meeting, but I hope you understand). Stay tuned to read my reactions.


"Mad Men"? More like "Makes-Me-Question-All-Meaning Men"...

I’ve come out of retirement to talk about a show that should rightfully only be watched by retired folks: “Mad Men.” A slow-burning dissection of an early 1960s advertising agency doesn’t scream youth like the sex-puffed “Gossip Girl,” but damn if protagonist Don Draper (a dapper Jon Hamm) doesn’t get me hot. Years of serial drama consumption has added gripping characters to my list of sure-fire get-offs, even if Don’s beyond my gender-of-choice (he's the puzzled one on the right).

But here’s a rallying cry for all those who were scared away from the show by its antiquity or are afraid to admit their fandom. After all, this is the era that our grandparents thrived within — and envisioning them as hot, young-ish, sexually repressed baby boomers is not exactly life goal #1. Like any good TV, however, Mad Men succeeds because it seamlessly streams the viewers’ lives through its characters. Insert the pre-election frenzy of Kennedy vs. Nixon, the birth of the culture wars and all sorts of relationship fail (you think marriage is bad now? Try 1960! The infidelity is beautiful!) and you get a perfect mirror of contemporary life in the guise of the golden oldies.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to crack the second season of the critics hit — though it’s hovering around my computer like a seductive wasp. In the first, Don is success — beyond a high-paying, creative, respectable job, a damn fine wife, tons of off-the-record job perks, and the responsibility of effectively shaping American media culture, what do you need? The downfall, of course, is Don’s soul-crushing past and murky future: ah, yes, this man of manliness and mystery is actually enveloped in the worst identity crisis probably ever, fighting against his own destructive tendencies, the trials of an assumed persona, and total sadness. I won’t give any more away – but this stuff is dark dark dark. The first-season-finale marks only the second time a TV show made me cry (props go to #1, “Six Feet Under”), and these were tears of emptiness. Sounds emo. Probs is emo. But absolutely no eye makeup involved.

Of course, all this is structured and colored much better than this sad return to blog writing. Apologies for the ramble. I’ll practice the whole journalism thing again and get back to you. As always, keep the peace.

~Paul Sorenson

it's called reality, folks, and it's time to wake up to it.

Who else out there is looking back on the Iowa/Iowa State game weekend in a state of shock and disgust? The outcome of the football game was great, of course, but outside the stadium neither the Hawkeyes nor the Cyclones represented themselves very well. Some of the completely irresponsible happenings in the bars, Ped Mall, and other parts of Iowa City on Saturday simply crossed the line of having a "good time." Yes, the game weekends are fun, and its great to have friends in town, but there's a point when it becomes apparent that our generation of drunken frolickers has growing up to do. We may be independent, we may be in college, we may be (or nearly be) 21, but a lot of us are not adults.

Don't worry college students, we're not the only ones that need to wake up to reality. No, the complete disregard of respect and responsibility starts even earlier, say the age of 16. It's laid out on national television with MTV's show My Super Sweet Sixteen, where teenage wannabe princesses whine and cry if daddy doesn't buy them that brand new car or that brand new dress. And we indulge them all the more by paying attention and watching.

One reality show, however, may actually do some good for these young adults we love to hate. On Exiled, the girls of Super Sweet Sixteen aren't thrown a lavish party; they're shipped off by their parents to spend a week in a third world country. Suddenly, the so-called difficulties of wealthy American life don't seem so bad when the girls are walking four hours to fetch water for an African village, slaughtering their own food, and sleeping in a hut on a dirt floor.

For once, "reality" television is giving its stars and viewers a taste of what reality in a lot of the world is like, away from the American bubble. Whether or not the experience makes an impact on the spoiled teens, I respect the show's premise. Maybe it would do binge drinking American college students some good to be "exiled," as well.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Queen B.

So, the VMA's came and went, providing the mediocrity we've come to expect in recent years. Rihanna donned hair extensions for a disappointingly lackluster rendition of "Disturbia," Christina Aguilera debuted her new single with bizzare eyeliner... yadda yadda yadda.

When the most scandalous moment is Jordin Sparks saying the word "slut" over the mic, you know there's a problem. Let's face it: the days of purple-pasties and Madonna make-out sessions are over.

But in her typical fashion, one woman managed to steal the show - and this time, she didn't even show her belly button:

The one, the only, Ms. Britney Spears.

After weeks of speculation, Brit Brit heard her name called three times - yes, a TRIO - at the Video Music Awards on Sunday, ending a career long losing streak at the MTV awards. (Somewhere, Susan Lucci is crying tears of approval.)

And really, it's about time.

For all of the attention Britney has given the VMAs through her snake-charming, suit-stripping performances and iconic music videos, you'd think they would have returned the favor at some point, especially in her heyday (try denying the epicness that was the red "Oops!...I Did It Again" catsuit. TRY). But alas, MTV has simply exploited her viewer-magnet persona.

Perhaps a guilty conscience finally drove "Music" Television to give one of their most bankable stars the award she's been patiently waiting for for years. Or maybe the competition really wasn't that stiff this time around (because in all honesty, the "Piece of Me" video wasn't all that great). In my opinion, MTV once again knew that by giving Britney three awards, that would draw just as much attention as, say, her infamous failure at last year's ceremony. Good planning on MTV's part, but it's we the viewers who suffer.

It's a bit sad when the actual awards presented at the VMAs overshadow the outlandish performances. A note to whoever is planning (and performing at) the 2009 go-round: Step up your game. You know the VMA show is one of the easiest ways to quickly get yourself some publicity and to raise your status. Take advantage of it, because when you shine, everyone beneifts.

Or at least I do, because then I'll have something to fuel my lame jokes and gossip instinct for at least a few weeks.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shawn Johnson's Taco. Enough said.

I just wrote an entire blog entry on my slightly-inappropriate-but-not-entirely-concealed love for Shawn Johnson. It was quite good, I'd say.

But, the meat of the post was her latest product endorsement and the ensuing commercial. It felt too wrong to elaborate on my crush (though I must justify that we are only a couple years apart!) on such a ... creepy .... note.

This really doesn't need much explanation; Johnson claims Ortega really "makes my taco pop!" Oh.

I feel like a creep just posting it, but really.

—Brian Stewart