Thursday, April 30, 2009

Entertainment Pandemics

Swine flu is the new anthrax scare. 
And thinking about it makes me cringe. Every day for the past week, we have been hit with dozens of new stories: "Swine Flu in Iowa?" "Swine Flu in Johnson County?" "Swine Flu in Iowa City?" 
But because this is an arts blog (and I don't really buy that we're all going to die from a virus named after an animal--read: avian flu scare), let us distract ourselves with the pandemics that are taking over Hollywood. 

So what is a Hollywood pandemic? Well, it's sort of a trend, only more sickening and costly to the health--mental, emotional, and yeah maybe even physical--of popular culture. It's a widespread addiction. Much like a virus, it hits and takes hold of its recipients under the radar, and one day, we realize, "Hey, I think I may have something." 

1. Reality Skank Spin-Off Pandemic- This terrifying wretched virus has been slowly creeping through entertainment media for years. However, it has reached a new low. Bret Michaels' reject Daisy De La Hoya now has her own show. Nevermind her obnoxious voice, fake-boobs/lips/nose (?), and acting skills that give away the 'reality' ploy (is it just me or is this show scripted?)... What about the guys vying for her? Tools, old greasy rednecks, rockstar wannabes, and high-school/college dropouts. 
Hef's cooky ex-girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson premiers her reality show in June, titled *Kendra* (clever, no?), because she's engaged and planning a wedding with soon-to-be hubster Hank Baskett. Although I'm not sure exactly where the producers are going with this show, I'm thinking Kendra and her obnoxious laugh will only grace the reality world with their presence for one season.
And we all knew that Tiffany "New York" Pollard would never graduate from VH1, despite her best attempts to break into showbiz in Hollywood. Her new show, *New York Goes To Work* premiers Monday. Viewers can vote each week to choose what job the HBIC does next. Uhhh.... *Simple Life*?
Symptoms: An inability to change the channel during the show, accompanied by in-depth discussion and/or analysis of characters' motives, emotions, inner beauty...
Warning Level: Yellow (i.e. High-risk, but can be prevented with mind-sanitization techniques and/or acquiring a real a social life)

2. My Baby is my New Accessory Pandemic- Want to know who's pregnant in Hollywood? Pretty much everyone. And if they're not, we suspect they're just not admitting to it, as the tabloids have so aptly revealed with constant 'baby bump' photos. The next-generation of beautiful people is booming. Nicole Ricci is due with her second baby in the late summer/early fall; Broadway power-duo Idina Menzel and the ever-so-sexy Tae Diggs are expecting their first around the same time. 
Other cases include Miss Katie Holmes and the adorable Suri Cruise. The mommy-tot team are almost always photographed together. Is it just me, or does that baby have amazing style? 
So instead of new bags or new fashion statements, celebrities are turning to designer babies, and we are gobbling them up in the press.   
Symptoms: The intense desire to be 'with child', especially for years at a time; the purchase of one or more Fendi/Prada/Luis Vuitton diaper bag(s)
Warning Level: Red- I don't see this one ending until the tweeners take-over Hollywood

3. "I used to be hot, now I'm super hot" Pandemic- Celebrity make-overs. We've been seeing them more and more in the tabloids as of late--maybe because Britney hasn't done anything scandalous to warrant press lately or the paparazzi are running out of things to photograph. Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore, Katie Holmes, Brittany Murphy, and Carrie Underwood are just a few of the celeb ultra-hotties that have changed over the past few years, whether through natural or unnatural means. And of course, we ALL want the idealogical beauty bar to be raised. 
Symptoms: An increasing number of flawless people
Warning Level: Orange (danger is imminent!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Daisy of Love: The Tell-All Interview

Last December, I had the opportunity to interview Daisy de la Hoya, Bret Michael's final reject on "Rock of Love" Season 2. Ms. de la Hoya will be starring in her own dating show, "Daisy of Love," set to premiere tomorrow night on VH1. What follows is my (mostly) unedited interview with the reality TV starlet (Note: I had to edit some parts for sheer readability- there were times- as noted by the ellipsis- when Daisy started rambling and made no sense).

Melea: So what have you been up to since “Rock of Love?”

Daisy de la Hoya: I’ve been traveling the country, hosting parties and events, and getting to know my fans. Pretty much just partying has been my full time jobs…doing some charity events and working on music and I’m actually writing a book about my life.”

M: Are you excited for “Daisy of Love?”

D: I’ve very, very, very excited. But I’m very, very nervous though too.”

M: Why are you nervous?

D: I’m just nervous because I’m interested to see what kind of guys show up….I always just think that no guys are gonna want to apply for the show. So it’s kind of a scary thing, but I’m super, super excited and I feel very lucky to have this opportunity.

M: What type of guy would it take to win your heart?

D: They definitely have to be fun and funny and sincere. I definitely go for the bad boys. I want someone who’s romantic and willing think outside the box.

M: What was your reaction when Vh1 offered you your own reality show?

D: It was sort of a shock. I figure, why not? What better way to find someone when you can just have Vh1 go scout the country for you and bring 20 guys to you and be like ok. Then you can boss ‘em around and make them do things for you. I’ve never had that experience with guys before- to have them cater to me and woo over me and fight over me. What girl wouldn’t want that? Or guy even?

M: Do you honestly think you can find love on “Daisy of Love?”

D: I’m a very monogamous person and very loyal. Usually when I’m in a relationship, it goes for a long time, as long as it can last. That’s just how I’ve always worked. Before Rock of Love, I was in a 6 year relationship and before that I was in a 3 year relationship. So this is kind of a new thing for me- dating. It’s a new experience for me. But whoever I end up ultimately choosing in the end it will be geared to be a long lasting, monogamous thing because that’s how I work. I’m definitely in to find the right person and I’m definitely a romantic.

M: What would it take to win “Daisy of Love?”

D: There’s a lot of aspects, the right chemistry, do they fit into my life and I fit into their life, and are we compatible in different ways. I’m not really the type that you have to buy me presents and take me out and romance me, those are just things that are nice- that are the frosting- but I’m looking for something deeper than that.

M: Why did you decide to search for love on national TV?

D: At that point in my life, I was sort of ready for something different, to try different things. I was in an exploratory part of my life, especially when it comes to guys. I never really had that opportunity. Most people usually do that kind of stuff in their late teens, early twenties and I never really got to experience that.

M: Was it weird to date Bret alongside 20 other girls?

D: I didn’t really see it as we were all dating him, in a sense. It was a situation if it things got more compatible then it was leading to now we can go to the real world to see if we can make things work. And obviously I didn’t get that chance, which is unfortunate. But I did have a lot of fun and now I get to have that chance to explore other people, and hopefully I’ll find someone who’s rad.

M: Was it hard living in a house full of your compeition?

D: I’m definitely more of a girl that gets along better with boys than I do with girls. I’m not into fighting or being catty…I hoped people wouldn’t be mean to me or gang up on me….I think it was awesome, it could have been worse. It could have been like, real worse. The best part about it was we got to share their clothes and use makeup!

M: Why do you think you received so much criticism for “Rock of Love?”

D: I didn’t ever really think about the fact that people are going to say bad things about you and criticize you and be negative to you. And that came as a shock…but at the same time, it makes me want to work harder…There’s people out there that definitely don’t like me, but I’ve learned that you can’t please everyone.

M: Do you feel that your portrayal on “Rock of Love” was accurate?

D: I feel that it was pretty close to who I am. I’m a crazy, quirky, funny, bubbly, spunky girl who likes to have fun. But there are times where maybe a lot of people thought I wasn’t smart or articulate with my words, but that’s just because I’m the type of person I have a lot going on in my brain….I’m more of a thinker than a speaker…I think I was who I was and I gave them things to work with. Some people might get upset-‘Oh, they portrayed me a certain way’- but at the same time, you give the producer those things to work with. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of most people, in my opinion.”

M: And what do you say to those people who get upset about their portrayal?

D: Being on a reality show, you become who want to become. And the producers…if you are acting crazy, they’re gonna tape that and they’re gonna spin it and they’re gonna make it look worse or whatever, but at the same time, you gave them that. Whatever you do, they magnify it.

M: How do you respond to the accusation that the women on reality TV represent negative and damning stereotypes for women at large?

D: In my opinion, it’s just those individual girls who are choosing to react that way…Each individual is gonna portray themselves the way that they want to portray themselves.

M: Do you watch reality TV?

D: I think the shows are really funny to watch…Everyone wants to see what that person’s really like. I’m a fan of a lot of reality shows, I think they’re interesting and fun and funny. And I feel very lucky that Vh1 came to me and said, “We think and people think you’re awesome enough that we want to do a reality show based around finding love.”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Your heart is pounding as fast as the semester is racing to a close. Sleep, if you can even manage it, seems to be the only chance for peace. You are more stressed than you’ve ever been in your life. But isn’t that what you said last week? Boo hiss, I say. Are you really going to let stress push you around and ruin your life? As Ferris Bueller put it: “Life moves pretty fast… If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

There’s no time like the present to learn how to balance your life. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the rigors of papers and tests. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And crazy.

Working yourself to the bone takes its toll and after a point the draconian routine becomes unproductive. Instead, try interspersing your day with little treats (not necessarily in reference to food) that will rejuvenate mind, body and soul. Personally, I find it incredible what a 5 or 10-minute dance party can do to my energy and focus. When there’s music, there’s peace. When there’s dance, there’s joy.

I think dancing on the street should become more mainstream in American society. Not only is it exhilarating for oneself, but it brings people together and promotes a happy community.

If everyone danced, no one would be upset. Dance-offs could resolve conflicts and disputes.

There would be world peace. So, next time you are ready to tear your hair out while in your fifth straight hour of studying plant cells or a single math problem, take a break. Do the robot. You’ll feel so much better.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My New Favorite Singer

Everyone knows that the creator of the Office, Ricky Gervais, is a very talented and funny guy, but I'd like to shine some light on his singing ability. Evidently the pudgy Englishman was in a 1980's band called Seona Dancing, and even sported one of those creepy haircuts with bangs hanging low, but with the sides gelled up. Here is the video of Seona Dancing, I could hardly recognize that it was Gervais, but his voice makes it apparent.

In the Office, Gervais character, David Brent, never shies away from an opportunity show off his music talents. In my favorite episode, and maybe the funniest 1/2 of anything every recorded in the history of man, Brent reveals to his employees that he used to be in a band, and he drives home to grab his guitar to prove it to them. The result is "Freelove Freeway."

"Racial" Brent singing the song paints the ultimate character portrait for nearly ever character in the show, and while the song is obviously funny, Gervais's voice is actually pretty good and has a fantastic range. Scenes like this in the English Office version, adds a more confident side to Gervais's character, that is lacking in Steve Carrell's adaptation in Michael Scott.

Gervais shows off his voice again playing Brent when signing "If You Don't Know Me By Now." It's his play on a romantic song, and the looks he gives the camera are priceless.

Now I'm just waiting for Gervais to put out a musical comedy CD, although I'm getting my fill on him through his podcast. Although he is pretty well-known in America, it blows my mind that he isn't a household name like Steve Carrell, but on second thought I don't want him to ruin his reputation by doing some as horrible like Carrell did in Evan Almighty.
- Dan Watson

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I'm sure that I am not alone in saying that I am a person who loves convenience. Anything that comes along easily or makes life just a little bit easier is something that I greatly admire, as life is stressful enough.

This latest handy tool takes convenience to a whole other level. Behold the "mom-and-baby Snuggie".

Now, I'm sitting here, feeling a bit conflicted. One part of me thinks, "This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen," and the other, "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!?"

The Peekaru fleece baby carrier cover is really quite brilliant. Keeping yourself and your baby warm while keeping your hands free for other maternal duties.

There is only one problem: it's the creepiest looking piece of baby technology I have ever seen. What's even worse is that, by the time I am a mother, these things will most likely become baby shower staples. I can't wait.

Friday, April 17, 2009

LiLo Ready to Mingle

Everyone's favorite redhead is back in the news. But this time it's not for a DUI, drug allegation or public flashing 'accident'. Yes, folks. Lindsay Lohan is single and heartbroken, according to every tabloid in the world. After her awkward relationship with Samantha Ronson, who she was apparently dating, ended, LiLo is back in the spotlight. Surprised?

Lohan has made a few appearances in the media lately, including her Marilyn Monroe re-make photo shoot. But what's really worthy of attention is the new video on featuring her AH-mazing acting talent- or something like that.

are we being punked?

BIG twitter news today. and being the twater that I am, I've got to blog about it.

Ashton Kutcher is being followed by more than 1 million people on twitter. have you fallen out of your chair yet? do you have lockjaw from opening your mouth too large out of sheer shock? are you reading these questions in your head with the appropriate high tone of voice so as to reflect that i'm asking you these questions? are you sick of it?

well i'm sick of twitter.

Ashton had a little competition between himself and CNN. the goal was to have more than 1 million followers by this morning, and CNN lost to the iowa native by less than 1,200 followers. however, i must address the fact that both the winner and the loser are donating mosquito nets to the "malaria no more fund," which provides people living in africa with protective nets they can place over their beds so they don't get bitten while they sleep. so...good cause.

now that the frenzy has ended, i have to ask....WHY IS TWITTER STILL AROUND? it isn't food, it's not money, and you can't have sex with why is it popular? i haven't had this hard a time understanding a concept since doing proofs in 10th grade math (and mrs. von stein can tell you how well that analogy works.)

here is ashton "challenging" cnn to a twitter-off. i hate myself for typing that.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tori Spelling, Will You Marry Me?

I’m kind of obsessed with Tori Spelling. I know what you’re thinking, probably the same thing as Chelsea Handler — she looks like a man and somebody needs to feed her a sandwich. Well, the second part may be true, but I think she’s hot and here’s why.

1. Donna Martin. In her own way, Donna Martin was my favorite character on Beverly Hills, 90210. In the earlier seasons, she was so innocent, so naïve. And that was entertaining. One of her biggest problems in the show was in desire to save herself until marriage. Why? Because her crazy mother told her to (and Mrs. Martin was crazy). Although people do say the virgin act was desirable for Donna because Tori’s real-life father father, Aaron Spelling, produced the show and didn’t want to see her slutting around like her West Beverly counterparts. Granted the virginity thing didn’t last too, long. That David sure was persuasive. But get this, she ends up marrying David, who was one of the hottest guys on the show. Who's ugly now, Chelsea? My favorite thing about Donna though was later on in the series when she dropped the innocent act and shacked up with guys, drank alcohol, and showed that she wasn’t as naïve as people thought. Love it.

2. The Tori and Dean reality shows. I love it. Who doesn’t want to see Tori and Dean opening up an Inn, having a baby, and running from the paparazzi? OK, truth — I know I’m a fan of Tori, but I don’t really get why she’s so hounded by the paps. Beverly Hills, 90210 was a long time ago. Anyway, Tori and Dean are so cute together. Forget the fact that Dean cheated on his first wife to be with Tori, they’re just so happy singing songs (remember the music video? I’m sad to say I was one of the people who thought it was precious), calling each other babe, and arguing about milk. And their kids, Liam and Stella, are damn cute, too. I think it’s neat watching Tori become a mom, and truthfully I’m just obsessed with reality T.V., and I like knowing random details about people’s lives. Did anyone else cry when Mimi La Rue died? Maybe it’s just me.

3. Her mom, Candy. I love that she’s feuding with Candy, because she got divorced, well, at least that’s my take on it. After Candy dished out (wait, Candy? What did she ever do? I thought Aaron was the one rolling in the money…) thousands of dollars for Tori’s wedding to Charlie Shanian who is apparently an actor, but I think it’s safe to say that he was most famous for being briefly married to Tori. Though if we’re being honest, she’s not that famous. If we’re still being honest, I totally don’t understand the feud, nor do I want to. There are some things I just don’t care to know. Either way it’s awesome that years later, they are still hating on each other. It’s even more awesome that when Candy was listing her family members, she left Tori out but included Liam. Because Liam just appeared out of nowhere.

4. She makes fun of herself. Exhibit A: Bravo’s A-list Awards. She’s funny. Need I say more? No.

Tori, will you marry me?

--Rachael (who wrote this post with a whole lot of feeling)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Blech-y Badger

MTV has broken my heart once again. Heidi Montag and Lauren Conrad have replaced Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane as MTV's most prominent original female icons. "The Hills" as the new "Daria?" This only shows how far MTV has sunk from being the preeminent voice for American teen culture.

And now, MTV has managed to suck even more, with its new show "College Life." Sure, I haven't seen the show, which premieres on Monday night, but does that matter? No, because I've lived it. You see, I have to come out, DI faithfuls. I've been to Madison, Wisc. where "College Life" takes place. My best friends are Badgers. I know, I seemed so normal, right?

"College Life" gives eight UW students cameras to document their freshman years. MTV doesn't want to see the emotional turmoil and ever-increasing despondency so intrinsic to that first year of college. What MTV hopes to capture, and undoubtedly did, is the reckless drinking, sex, and other assorted bad decisions that often come with moving away from home for the first time. I bet we'll never see any of these profiled freshmen in class, either.

So where do I fit in? I lived 38 "College Life"s. That's how many Facebook friends I have who are currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I've visited the school's campus twice. Am I the foremost authority on all things Wisconsin? No. But do I have a blog and lots of time? Yes.

My first trip to Madison was the stuff MTV execs salivate over. There were hookups, heartbreak, and even a little hand-holding. There was a lot of drinking, a lot of partying, and a few relationships that still haven't recovered from all that went down. There were mistakes aplenty. A girl dirty danced with my then best friend, another girl made out with a guy at a burrito place, and two guys peed off a balcony. Can you say "ratings?"

But that isn't the point. Sure, people will watch "College Life" and get a boneheaded and inaccurate view of what life in college is like — for better or worse, the University of Wisconsin is not representative of any other college than itself — but just because something is entertaining doesn't mean it should be broadcast, no matter how badly the stars want to be filmed.

Shouldn't freshman year be a wonderful secret? No one can live yours for you, and no one can dictate how it's supposed to go. It's this one dumb ritual college students can all look back on and see how far they've grown. You know, like kissing your best friend or buying a Toby Keith CD.

With "College Life," MTV is making freshman year less of a mole and more of a beauty mark, something cosmetic and completely artificial from something that should be distinct.

— Meryn, who will give you all the details on Madison, if you ask her.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Oh, Tyra

Tyra Banks is SO hot. With her mouth closed.
As a big, busty, and dare I say beautiful black woman, I want to support my kin. I worship our first lady’s aura of perfection (though I would never place her in the “big and busty” category), and I can’t say enough nice things about Oprah. But I REFUSE to get on the Tyra Banks bandwagon. No amount of sugar can make me drink her Kool-Aid. With last week’s début of reality show “Pretty Wicked,” hosted by “America’s Next Top Model” winner CariDee English, I’m forced to be even more upset at Banks for unleashing more of her progeny on the world.
I’m not just a hater. Sure, I could be jealous that Miss Tyra dated my favorite member of the Fab Five, Chris Webber, or that she had a recurring role as Jackie on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” That’s not it. My ill will towards Miss Tyra has to do with her utter fakery. Is that a word? I don’t even care, because Tyra would say it without shame.
“America’s Next Top Model” is the source of my Tyra ire. No longer are Vassar and Wellesley the destinations of choice for the nation’s young women, it’s now Tyra-town with the possibility of a stint on “The Surreal Life” and a potential spinoff. “America’s Next Top Model” focuses on the most superficial of all careers — modeling — and then each week Tyra tries to imbue it with undeserved and overacted sincerity. Sure, occasionally the judges kick off a girl who takes bad pictures, but the minds behind “ANTM” also have no problem evicting girls for personality reasons, i.e. in Cycle Three when plus-sized Toccara supposedly lost her fire and subsequently lost her place. Never mind that no plus-sized model was ever going to win that show as long as Janice Dickinson sat at the judges’ table, but I digress.
Tyra also loses points because as a judge, she constantly encourages hopefuls to be themselves and embrace their flaws … ON A FUCKING MODELING SHOW. Does anyone think it’s just a little hypocritical to tell girls to love themselves and be true to their spirits while giving them makeovers? P.S. Tyra, way to embrace your racial identity … keep giving all the black contestants ruler-straight extensions (or cutting their hair off completely). Now you, too, young Nubian princess, can look like all the white images forced down your throat by the media. Thanks, TyTy.
Tyra is most obnoxious in her natural habitat, her talk show. On “The Tyra Banks Show,” she gets to display a level of narcissism not commonly seen outside of Congress. Here’s her persona, distilled into two steps.
First, Tyra makes a “funny,” self-effacing comment designed to appear as if she’s being honest about her flaws and truly engaging the audience. In reality, this “quip” — though it often takes the form of a silly face or awkward gesture — is an attempt to show how superior Tyra truly is. Imagine: those looks, that success, *and* she’s funny.
Then Tyra shares an intimate moment with a guest who’s sharing a heartbreaking tale. Perhaps this guest suffers from body dysmorphic disorder or her parents were killed by Afghan rebels. Maybe the guest is in an abusive relationship. It doesn’t matter, because Tyra has gone through it, too, and has some completely useless advice to dispense. Oh, and on the rare case Tyra hasn’t been in that exact situation, she’ll relate it to something from her life. It goes something like this, “While I have never been a victim of a plane crash, one time I fell during a Victoria’s Secret runway show, and it was pretty awful.” Mama Tyra feels your pain.
As much as I cannot stand Tyra, it is slowly becoming her world, and I have to live in it. But maybe, much like the claim that many homophobes are secretly gay themselves, my hatred for Tyra might be due to our common traits. We both have giant foreheads, we both think we’re hilarious, and we both don’t want to admit what the scale says when we step on it. If Tyra’s insecurities didn’t feel so false, maybe I could actually embrace our similarities. But because Tyra hides her persona through airbrushing, inane catch phrases, and clever editing (notice how the camera is rarely on her while she’s speaking during “America’s Next Top Model”), I can’t believe she’s nearly as fierce as her image. Yet I have a feeling she knows exactly what I mean.
—Meryn, who wishes Tyra didn't make it so hard to cheer for her.