Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Nothing good ever happens at a fashion show.

Whew! This was perhaps the most uncomfortable RHONJ episode ever, but not in a good way. In a white-knuckle I-can’t-handle-this way. There’s just entirely TOO MUCH crazy going on with these bitches, and I can’t’ deal. I am not looking forward to next week, at all.

But before we get to the Posche fashion show/bloodbath, let’s start at the beginning, with Caroline. Caroline has a sad, because her babies are all grown adults who desire grownup things like makeup school degrees, law school, and stripper carwashes, and now that she is all alone in her big empty granite nest, she doesn’t know what to do with herself.
So, for the first stop on her odyssey of self discovery, she has lunch with 2 of her sisters (THERE ARE 11 TOTAL SIBLINGS!!!). One, named Cookie or Cupcake or Canola Oil or something, is the oldest sister, and the other the second to youngest (Dina is the youngest), and they all had that same face that everyone in that family has. They talked and chatted about kids growing up, and younger sister (forget her name) ordered a coke with a shot of red wine in it from the confused waiter. She said it was an Italian thing, but somehow I doubt that?

Anyway, they chat for a bit, and we move on to a different, more sinister lunch across town. This time, Jacqueline and Teresa are meeting with Kim D. The taller, skinnier, exponentially more bug-like of the Kims decided to call the ladies to lunch to invite them to the big fancy fashion show that she’ll be having for Posche, her tiny thimble-sized boutique. There will be fashions, and models, and dinner, and Danielle. Yes, Voldemort herself will also be invited to the party, but Kim assures the two ladies that it’ll just be a real light-hearted, fun affair, and they have nothing to worry about, but obviously that isn’t true, and the ladies know it. Not that that will stop them from going. Not at all.

Almost immediately, one of the Dark Lord’s many kitty cat-sweatered mom-ish minions informs her of Kim D’s grave offence, and she flies off the rails, zooming to Posche in her evil Range Raven with murder on the mind. She barges into the teeny boutique demanding to see Kim IMMEDIATELY. However, the lady at the counter is on the phone, and sort of bitchily does a “hold on a second” finger in the air thing. Danielle obviously cannot abide such a slight, so she storms out of the boutique screeching “YOU HAVE KIM CALL ME WHEN SHE GETS BAAAAAACK!” before disappearing in a puff of sulphur.

Eventually, Kim does come back, claiming she was just next door “paying the water bill” which seems weird, since who pays a water bill in person? Anyway, she calls the outraged Danielle back, and The Jersey Mantis comes swooping back into the salon. Sensing imminent danger, the front desk lady leaves the boutique before Danielle returns, living to see another day. Danielle talks to Kim about how RUDE her employee was and how UPSET she is. Kim says sawree and who cayuhs. The two hiss at each other like this for a few more minutes, but ultimately come to a shakey truce. For now.

Back at Manzo Manor, Caroline still haz a sad. This time to cure her sad she tries to convince her husband to retire, so she can have someone in the house besides her dogs. Husband does not want to retire, and loves working. Caroline’s sad remains.

Later, she overcomes her sad for a brief moment, long enough to head over to Jacqueline’s for some girl talk and syrupy dranks (I believe they called what they were drinking a “butter baby,” which, whatever is in it, sounds disgusting). Teresa is also there, and pretty soon it becomes evident that they only had Caroline over to get her opinion of the whole Posche Fashion Show thing. Caroline is obviously very much anti-this, since nothing good ever comes from 1) fashion shows or 2) Danielle. The ladies still decide that they’ll go though, cuz of contracts and all.

And so, the next day, it’s time for the dreaded event! First, Kim G arrives at Danielle’s in her Rentley, wearing a sparkly shirt, tights, heels, and no pants. Poor thing forgot to cover her chuckie! She rings Danielle’s novelty Halloween scream doorbell, and after a few minutes Danielle descends from her web in the rafters and lets her guest in. After debating which sexxxyboots to wear, Danielle finally decides on some thigh-high prostie boots and they head out.

While Danielle and Kim G are en route, Teresa and Jacqueline arrive at the party wearing matching fur vests. Kim D greets them, screeching about how happy she is to see them, and telling them that they are at her table, as honored guests.

They take their seats, and soon enough Danielle arrives, and she is placed at a different table, DIRECTLY FACING the guest of honor table. Danielle, again, cannot abide this slight, and freaks out again. This time, it’s by pretending she’s not interested in the fashion show, pretending to talk on her phone (“Paris Hilton taught me that.” Barf.), and talking shit on how terrible all the models are (Kim G points out that this is because none of them are professional models). Also, when Jacqueline’s daughter Ashley, who is one of the models, stomps down the runway, Danielle calls her a coke whore, which, umm, pot, meet kettle.

After the fashion show, everyone basically sits at their respective tables and stares at each other until Danielle decides she’s had enough and leaves. Curiously, suddenly Jacqueline notices that Teresa has gone missing. Where could she have gone? Where did she possib-oh shit. Oh shit, Teresa went to go cut Danielle’s brakelines!

Jacqueline, in a panic, runs out of the room to go stop Teresa. However, rather than finding her hunched under Danielle’s car with a set of wire cutters, Teresa is instead sitting calmly in the hallway. She says she is waiting for Danielle, to “say hello.” Jacqueline pleads with her to leave, but she doesn’t, and then it’s too late. Danielle and crew walk by, passing Teresa, who in turn yells her name.

Teresa starts out nice enough, making fake but pleasant small talk, asking about Danielle’s daughter and stuff. But then Teresa calls Danielle honey, and Danielle says “Don’t call me honey,” and then Teresa asks if “bitch” is better, and then Danielle says “That’s a e-fucking-nough” and then before we know it we are in a fight and it’s people screaming and things are happening. That was quick.

And with that, in typical Bravo style, the episode ends, dragging this fight out to next week. From the previews, it looks like Danielle cries, gets her weave pulled by Ashley Sheree Whitfield style, and the cops get called. The whole thing looks nuts, and we’re only halfway through the series. What the hell is going to happen at the finale?! I shudder to think.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Real Housewives of New Jersey One-Shot Recap

I was insanely busy this past week, so wasn't able to get my shit together to do a full recap of this past week's episode. Instead, I just captioned the below pic. I mean, not a whole lot happened last week anyway, right? Danielle got re-titted, Teresa had a dumb party, and the Kims are sad, desperate idiots. There, covered.

You know Kim totally does.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The resemblance is striking...

Did anyone else think John, the first cast off last night from Top Chef: DC looked a little familiar? A little terror-inducing? A little bit like the ghost of an evil priest who wants to steal the soul of Craig T. Nelson's towheaded daughter, albeit if he mellowed out a bit and grew some dreads?



More than a passing resemblance, right? Well, maybe not in this picture particularly. I couldn't get a good screengrab! You really have to see the guy in video to see his similarity to Kane anyway.

Ok, look, this:

VS this:


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: In which Kim G loses her dignity.

Well, that certainly was an episode that happened. wasn't it? That’s basically what this show is, a series of things happening now, chugging along at a snail’s pace, clinging to the small semblance of a plot the show has. I mean, not like any of these Housewives shows ever HAD a plot to begin with, but they were at least more than “____is a bitch and I hate her.” Not saying I don’t like that, or I will stop watching. Just saying. Anyway, this episode, in a nutshell, was about Kim G scrambling up a stripper pole and failing spectacularly, falling with a thud to the floor. Sure, other stuff happened, but mainly that’s what this episode was about.

But before we get to that, let’s start at the beginning. We enter in media res as Dina and Danielle still valiantly do battle. Dina stays pretty calm and tries to outline her point about how she is done and is cutting Danielle out of her life. Danielle isn’t having any of this though, and starts rambling about the vast Manzo conspiracy against her. This leads Dina to call her crazy, which sends the Bug Queen off the RAILS! She’s all “DON’T YOU EVER CALL ME CRAZY! EVER! EVER!” and it was scary. So, sensing that the conversation wasn’t going anywhere, and not wanting to receive a spiky foreleg through her torso, Dina departs.

Immediately after Dina leaves, Danielle does a disturbingly fast 180 and calls her creeper posse (who as you may recall were creepily waiting in the parking lot) to come to her aid. She’s all “Everyoneee is so meeeeean to meeeee!” The look on creep leader Danny’s face shows that he’s clearly disappointed her didn’t get to shive anyone tonight. No, Danielle just wants to talk about how mean Dina was and how shaken she is. Yes, Danielle, that’s what these ex-convicts want to do. Talk to you about how Dina was mean. Sigh.

Now that that burbling nonsense storm has subsided, it’s time for the Manzo and Giudice clans to embark on some good clean down-home country fun! All the families pack up their younguns and head down to the local farm to play with some animals (or "Danielles" as both Jacqueline and Teresa maturely call them). So, everyone goes to the farm and gawks at the pigs (“Oh my gawd! Look how big theah boawls ah!”). While watching the womenfolk admire the pigballs, the men decide it’s time to initiate Ashley’s boyfriend Derek into the man clan by inviting him to a poker game. Derek agrees, seemingly not sensing the sinister plans they have in store for him.

Back in Hell, Danielle has lunch with her new “friends” to talk about her fight with Dina. I put “friends” in quotation marks because you know Danielle just picked random ladies outside the restaurant and was like “Hey! You’s wanna be on TV? You gotta just say yuh my friend!” Naturally, they all said yes, because they are idiots. So yeah, it was Danielle, the momish ladies in kittycat sweaters, and sad desperate Kim G.

At the lunch, Danielle relays a totally embellished version of the fight, where Dina is a crazy raving lunatic, and the ladies are all “Wow! She said that?” doing their best to pretend like they have any idea who or what Danielle is talking about. Then, Danielle whips out her granny glasses to read an e-mail she received from Dina, acting like she’s being all scandalous and reading a horrible e-mail that was meant to be private. Hilariously, Bravo then cuts to Dina reading the same letter in her confessional, and it’s very benign and just says that Dina is done, and Danielle is unstable. Danielle says she replied, very maturely, with “LOL whatever” which is what any mature 65 year old woman should say in an e-mail.

The next day, Kim G, probably sensing that Danielle is a crazyship sailing at full speed towards the edge of the world, randomly decides to have a sit down with Jacqueline to vent about her terrifying bug overlord. The ladies talk about the sick baby drama and the Ashley text message scandal. Kim G tries to play it off like she didn’t have a part of any of it even though there is video evidence to the contrary. She does know she’s on a TV show, right?

Meanwhile, at an old-timey Italian meat shop, the Menzos (see what I did there? Men+Manzo=Menzos! Ha!) plot the demise of Derek while buying nearly $600 worth of fancy salamis and prosciuttos. What will they have in store for him? A meat bludgeoning? Hanging from the rafters with a string of sausages? The suspense is killing me! Joe suggests they tie him to a tree in the woods and pull his pants down, and the other guys are like “Uhh, what?” Then Joe is like, “You know, to like, let the deer get him!” Yes, Joe…the "deer"…

Anyway, speaking of cured meats, next we head over to one of Danielle’s “friends” houses for some girl chat. The ladies talk for a little bit about things like dogs, and how if Danielle doesn’t find a man soon she is going to buy a Great Dane to have sex with. All the ladies giggle, and you can tell the hostess is all “Look at me! I’m on TV entertaining in my big house! I’m a star!” And then Danielle is all “It’s been hard for me to meet men ever since that video of me having gross bug sex got leaked.” Sorry, random Danielle friend, it’s not about you, and now your house has been sullied by the image of Danielle softly embracing her lover with her forelegs before viciously devouring his head.

So yeah, apparently Danielle had a sex tape with that gross guy she dated last season that he “secretly” filmed, even though if you’ve seen the stills, she is clearly mugging for the camera. How did this happen, you ask? Jacqueline interviews that Danielle said she thought he was just texting during sex, and not taping her. I love that she is totally fine with someone texting while they have sex, as if that’s normal bedroom behavior. Like, “Hey! What’reya up to? You’re not filming this, right?” “Nah! I’m just textin’!” “Oh! Ok. Let me mug for the camera some more then.”

It’s finally poker time over at Jacqueline’s house! The men all arrive and head to the basement while Jacqueline and Teresa serve them huge trays of meat (feminism!). Coincidentally, also present at the poker game is puffy old whatshisface, Danielle’s sex tape accomplice/attacker. Jacqueline gets wind of this, and while she’s no fan of Danielle anymore, she still thinks this guy’s a dick, so she pulls him aside and confronts him for being a slimeball. Although he is indeed a slimeball, he says that he didn’t secretly tape anything. Danielle taped herself masturbating and then sent it to him, which is why she wound up dropping the charges against him. She’s the one who made the tape. I'm not want to believe sleazeballs, but this seems entirely within Danielle’s character. Also, she was taped by TMZ or somebody bragging about how her tape will sell more than Kendra’s, which is suspicious. Also, the timing. So yeah, she can add “amateur pornographer” to her list of accomplishments.

With court adjourned and Derek finally arriving with Ashley in tow, the men start their poker game. This means it’s time for the devious prank! The horror! What will it be! I’m squeamish at the sight of blood so take it eas-...what? Sour wine? That’s it? That’s the big “initiation.” That’s the buildup?! Where's the hazing? The beatings? The tying-naked-to-a-tree? You guys suck. This party is lame.

(Oh, also that night Ashley gets into a fight with Jacqueline, but it’s over nothing and stupid, so I don’t want to talk about it. )

This brings us to the final event of the episode: “How Danielle Got Her Groove Back.” See, ever since Danielle was horribly violated by leaking her own sex tape to the press having her sex tape released without her consent, she’s having trouble feeling sexy. How will she remedy this, you ask? Why, by subjecting the Eastern European prostitutes she purchased her new friends to a series of sexxxy events! First, she takes them to watch her try on panties, and they all sit there and coo “Da! Eet ees very sexy!”

Despite the kind words, Danielle still can’t clear the cobwebs out of her sex hope chest (talkin’ about her ‘gina), so she moves for one last ditch effort: pole dancing. Yes, she gathers up her band of aging prostitutes fun flirty gal pals to go work the pole in the afternoon at a strip club. And this leads to the aforementioned highlight of this entire series: Kim G working the pole.

Clad in booty shorts and hooker boots, she tries her best to sex it up on the pole, scampering wildly, kicking her legs this way and that way. On the first try, she manages a creaky semi-circle around the pole before crashing to the ground, exposing her old lady butt in the process. After a faceless stripper humiliatingly pulls Kim G’s panties up and slaps her on the butt (I literally cannot believe I just wrote that sentence), she makes a second go. Again, she scrambles, legs flying wildly this way and that, a horrifying grimace crossing her face. At this point, another stripper comes in and literally tries to push her up the pole. Perhaps sensing how pathetic this whole display is, Kim G finally gives up, and everyone gives her pity applause. The whole scene is amazing, and just really a metaphor for Kim G’s entire presence on this show, isn’t it? One big scramble up the pole, failing miserably.

Finally, not to be upstaged by Kim G’s sad little display, Danielle takes the stage. She comes out all shy, being like “Oh, I don’t know! It’s been a while! I’m not going to be very good!” and then immediately does a series of topless backflips, removing an article of clothing with each rotation, finally falling into the splits, a barrage of ping pong balls going this way and that. Yeah, it’s been a while…sure. She says something gross about that being “how she got her first husband.” (Feminism!)

Oh! That actually wasn’t the final event of the episode. The FINAL final event is Dina officially announcing that she is leaving the show, since she is normal and sane and recognized that being constantly exposed to a crazy person is not healthy. So, good for her! This wasn’t a surprise at all, but I do have to say I’ll miss her. She’s always been my favorite housewife.

So! That’s that for this season. Looks like theres more Danielle dramz next week, as usual. I hope it’s something REALLY CRAZY. What do you think? (Answer: obviously)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Talking Turkey

So I have a confession: I love world music. I know what you're thinking, but not that kind of world music. Not the I-wear-a-dashiki-and-light-incense-in-my-apartment-designed-to-look-like-a-Mongolian-yurt kind. I'm talking pop music that is (relatively) current, preferably with a beat. I love it in part because you can really gauge a country's pop culture by it's contemporary music. Often it's a mix of traditional music fused with random weird elements of Western/American pop that, when done right, I find highly enjoyable. Plus, when you listen to music in another language you don't have to worry about emabarrasingly dumb lyrics.

Over the past year I've been on a major Turkish pop kick. Something about the mix of electropop, traditional instrumentation/melodies, and cheesy mid-nineties house music comes together for a really pleasurable musical experience. It's also incredibly varied from artist to artist, which makes each new discovery really exciting. So, I thought I'd give a rundown of what I'm listening to, because everyone is missing out! Before I start though, a warning: my music tastes skew heavily female, so while I'm sure there's plenty of good male Turkish artists out there, I'm mainly focusing on the ladies, with a couple exceptions. Also, I make no assertions on the right-now popularity of any of these artists in Turkey, since I found most of them mainly via YouTube, so they could very well be one-hit wonders or has-beens. Anyway!

Hande Yener
Sound: Electropop
Comparable Western artist: Kylie Minogue

Hande Yener is the reason I got into Turkish pop, so it seems fitting to start with her. I came across her name while reading the "gay icons" page on Wikipedia (shut up). The article mentioned her support of the Turkish gay community, and her inherent popularity there due to her dance-oriented beats. She's often called the Madonna or Kylie of Turkey due in part to this, but also due to her penchant for reinvention. She started her career doing more traditional Turkish pop music (Middle-Eastern vocals to a house-heavy beat). Despite the popularity of her music, she changed her style entirely for a more European electropop sound. While her older stuff is decent, I think the new sound suits her better. While her most recent album is a bit of a return to her old sound, her prior albums "Nasil Delirdim?" "Hipnoz" and "Hayrola?" are, in my opinion, her best. Below is the video for my favorite of her songs, "Kibir," off of 2007's "Nasil Delirdim?" (Side note: how great are the topless models beating her with clubs in the video up top? Domestic abuse has never looked so chic!)

Atiye Deniz
Sound: Western-style pop with a heavy dose of traditional Turkish instrumentation.
Western Counterpart: Britney? Or maybe pre-"Rated R" Rihanna?

I came accross Atiye during one of my late-night YouTube binges, where I search for one video, and then go down the rabbit hole clicking on one video after the next until it's 2 AM and I've written down a page of weird Turkish names. Atiye's sound is kind of unique among Turkish pop music in that she uses a more Western vocal style over seamlessly fused pop, hip-hop, and Turkish beats. She also differs from a lot of female singers in that she sings in the upper registers rather than more lower-register sound characteristic of a lot of her contemporaries. "Muamma," above, is one of my favorite songs of hers. Below is the video of the also-good English-language "Don't Think (Sanma)."

Demet Akalin
Sound: Jersey Shore house music by way of Istanbul, with a trip through the cheese factory.
Western Contemporary: I don't even know. Chick is weird.

Demet Akalin is what would happen if a benevolent witch turned a Barbie doll into a living person and then sent her to Turkey's version of the Jersey Shore to learn about sex and house music. Everything about this woman is over the top: the pounding club beats of all her songs, her super-deep voice that belies her frame, her "oversexed little girl in an adult body" image, her ridiculous hair. Because of all this, she's also an artist that really needs to be seen in video to fully appreciate. I would be really embarrassed listening to American music like this, but for some reason, when Demet does it, it works. Up top is "Tecrübe," her most recent single, which is hilarious (wait till the part where she is topless and clutching an armful of Ken dolls). But, since she's gone brunette I've included her video for "Bebek" off of her previous album below to show her in her full blonde, bikinied glory. (The fake braids, the Kanye glasses!)

Kemal Doğulu
Sound: Electropop
Western Counterpart: A fantasy boy version of Kylie? We’ll call him Boylie.

Kemal Doğulu started out as Hande Yener's "creative director" and hair stylist (both of which he still is). He is also the brother of her fiancé, and he's directed a couple of her music videos, including the most recent one for “Sopa/ Yasak Aşk” that I posted earlier. Ms. Yener must be satisfied with his work, because she helped him get a record deal and guests on his debut single, “Bir Yerde” (above). While the whole popstar's hairdresser getting an album thing might not sound like a great idea (can you imagine if Jessica Simpson did the same for Ken Paves? The horror!), in this case it actually turned out really well. While I don't gather he's very popular in Turkey because he's only had a handful of singles in the last few years, I endorse him. He has an electro sound similar to Hande's, and his voice is decent, although heavily autotuned. Plus, I think he's dreamy, and is probably gay. Evidence for the both assertions below, in his video for "Uzayda Aşk Var."

Sound: Straight-up pop
Western Counterpart: Pre-meltdown Britney.

Hadise is Turkey’s closest thing to a Britney, Christina, or Katy Perry: Vapid, oversexed, bubbly, and of dubious vocal talent. Like Atiye Deniz, she mixes more Western-style musical stylings with traditional Turkish beats, like in her 2009 single “Evlenmeliyiz,” which I’ve posted above (I like the one-take concept). Hadise was also Turkey’s selction for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, with her song “Düm Tek Tek.” She wound up making it to 9th place, which is nothing to sneeze at for Eurovision. The vid of her performance is below. It’s very cheesy, and very Eurovision, but I challenge you to not think it’s catchy. Give in to the cheese!

Sound: Classic Turkpop
Western Counterpart: ???

Gülşen is my most recent discovery, and I’ll admit my main exposure to her is her most recent album, “Önsöz.” So far though I like what I’ve heard. She has that perfect mix of Arabesque beats with more contemporary pop that, when it comes together, is absolutely great. I love the “şak şak” part in the chorus of “Bi An Gel” (above). I have no idea what it means, but the pouty sexbabyvoice gets me each time. Another reason I love her is that her video for “Sarışınım,” off 2004’s “Of…Of…” was judged "obscene" by the Turkish government, and the stations that showed it received hefty fines. It’s kind of like Turkey’s Janet Superbowl nip slip moment. I posted it below because although I’m not crazy about the song, the video is hilarious. Naked+heels+low budget visuals= Gold.

So there you have it! Some of the things that have been going into my ears as of late. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes Turkish pop can get a little schmaltzy with the ballads, rely a bit too much on Spanish guitar, and sometimes be vocally unpalateable. But when it’s good, it’s good. There’s a lot of others like Tarkan or Sezen Aksu that for lack of time I haven’t included. But, they’re both superstars in the genre and are easy enough to learn more about on your own. And you should! I also recommend seeing the excellent 2005 documentary Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul about the contemporary Turkish music scene for an introduction. It's narrated by Alexander Hacke from Einsturzende Neubaten, which adds to the weirdness factor. Anyway, happy listening!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Joan vs. Joan

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, the excellent new documentary about the brittle Jewess/comedienne by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, with a live Q&A with Ms. Rivers immediately following the film. Going into the thing I wasn't really expecting much. I mean, I was expecting to enjoy it, because as a gay man with a love for stand-up and a filthy sense of humor, it's a genetic impossibility for me not to.

However, I was blown away by the intimate portrait the film paints. Filmed over one year, her 75th, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work follows it's subject through her numerous commitments, both professional and personal, while she discusses her career along the way. As someone who has idolized Joan Rivers ever since I saw her putting on makeup with Miss Piggy in Muppets Take Manhattan (one of my formative babygay memories) it was fascinating to see her this up close and personal.

First and foremost, we get a good dose of the brash humor and razor-sharp wit (seriously, the woman is 75 and still has the timing and speedy delivery of comedians a third her age) that have made her famous. I particularly liked the scenes of her refining her act at New York's Cutting Room, writing out "vagina farts" on a cue card while laughing hysterically, or telling a joke about her daughter being an idiot for turning down a $500,000 Playboy offer ("She should have offered to show her pussy for an extra 400!"). The scene of her eviscerating a heckler at a Minnesota Indian casino show who took issue with her telling a Helen Keller joke (really? Helen Keller is off limits now?) was another highlight.

But, the fact that Joan Rivers is hilarious is hardly surprising. What was surprising was the Joan we get to see off stage. Stern and Sundberg show us a workaholic and deeply insecure Rivers who seems to have a constant voice in her head reminding her that all her success could be gone tomorrow. This mantra is what propels her to take any job that comes her way, to "do anything." She says it's for the money, but more so I think it's to stay relevant, to stay working, to stay in the spotlight by any means necessary.

This compulsion leads her to measure her success event by event, seemingly unable to look at her career as a big picture. At the Q&A afterwards (JEALOUS?!), somebody asked her whether she is able to get any satisfaction from her varied and prolific career, and she brushes it off, asking why should she? Even the praise from this documentary will be gone in a week, she said, and then she'll have to start over again.

Joan's insecurity and inability to look at her career for what it is are central to the film. During one scene, Joan is asked to take part in a star-studded tribute to George Carlin. Despite her comedy legend status, backstage she worries about comedians like John Stewart and Dennis Leary, who have teams of writers behind them, being funnier than her. The fact that she has been doing this for 50+ years, and has probably taken part in hundreds of events just like this seems to never cross her mind. To her, it's all about staying relevant against the constant stream of up-and-coming comedians. As Kathy Griffin put it in the film, the mark of a successful comedian is whether they are still working or not, a sentiment that appears central to the Joan Rivers philosophy.

And then there's the part dealing with her recent Comedy Central roast. To me, the episode was hands down the best roast the channel had done, and Rivers seemed to revel in the jabs about her age and heavily-surguried face. However, in A Piece of Work, we see that she in fact hated the whole process, and fretted about the onslaught of jokes about her face and age she was going to be subject to. When you view it in this context, of dozens of comedians delivering a barrage of personal jabs against a deeply insecure woman, rewatching the roast changes from hilarious to heartbreaking.

On a different note, one of the most interesting things we learn about Joan in Piece of Work is that from the get go, her desire was never to be a comedian, but a serious actress. In the film she says that comedy was just something she did to pay the bills while she tried to make it as an actress, and goes on to say that people can say she's ugly, or a bad comedian and that's fine, but if they say she's a bad actress, it's devastating. Plenty of female comedians have gone into comedy because for whatever reason they didn't fit the narrow mold required to be an actress, but the fact that Joan still feels this way, at this point in her career, is surprising.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is an incredible film that gives incredible insight into a woman who has been a pop culture constant for over half a century. It manages to deliver huge gut-busting highs and emotional lows, as well as even delivering a little bit of shmaltz for good measure (the scene with her grandson Cooper is adorable. I got so jealous of that kid. Can you imagine having Joan fucking Rivers as your bubbe? That kid doesn't know how good he has it!). Beyond that, it's also a film about show business, and the life of constant rejection and abuse that performers have to deal with on a daily basis. It's a film about Joan Rivers, but a film about so much more as well. I highly recommend it.

(See! She was really there!!!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Semi-serious non-bad-TV-related post alert!

I was perusing BBC News this morning, like one does, and came across this article by Tim Franks that I found pretty interesting. Tim is the current BBC News correspondant for the Middle East, finishing up his tenure there. He also happens to be a Jew, and wrote this pretty interesting, tempered article about his struggle to reconcile the two and remain impartial.

Especially in the current climate with rhetoric ratcheting up at breakneck speed from either side of the fence, it's refreshing to read an honest, calm, and well-reasoned editorial on the region for once.

Read it if you get the chance! You can't spend your whole day reading about Teresa's Onyx Manor foreclosure, can you? (Answer: Yes you can.)

(via BBC News)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who knew the UK Border Agency were such huge Rihanna fans?

Chris brown got denied a visa to enter the UK "on the grounds of being guilty of a serious criminal offence." This is presumably due to the recently passed "Royal Pop Diva Protection Act of 2009."

(via BBC News)

Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: The Tale of the Squaretit Grinch

Look at this! Posting a recap at the appropriate time, the morning after the show airs! Crazy, right? Also crazy: Danielle! Seriously, she was so nuts this week. Each episode of this show is 60 minutes of sheer on-edge terror.

Before we get to the Danielle Staub terror-du-jour though, let's talk about Teresa. This week, the Italian Dina Lohan hauled daughter Gia to an audition for a big time movie with current megasuperstar and worldwide heartthrob Christian Slater. Teresa interviews that Gia's acting career has stalled, but her modeling is on the up up up! Still, she wants her baby to be a Liza Minelli triple threat, so she keeps pushing her on the acting.

While Gia is in the other room doing a terrible audition, Teresa demonstrates how she is "so not a stage mom" by rattling off all the ways in which she is a stage mom as the other parents roll their eyes. Note to Teresa: if other stage parents find you to be too overbearing it may be time to re-evaluate.

Later, they learn the unfortunate news that Gia did not get the part, probably because she is a bad actress. However, presumably to not hurt the little girl's feelings, Gia's manager says it's because of her terrible Joisey accent. Teresa is all "Whaddya tawkin about? She ain't got no Joisey accent! Now I'm gonna go drink cuahfee wit da doawgs." Still, they send her off to a weird lady voice coach who looks like an adult baby. They humor her, but Teresa interviews that Gia doesn't think she needs to change her Jersey drawl, and neither does she. I mean, there's tons of roles out there for brassy New Jersey 9 year olds! It's as common a role as "spinster DA" or "black female judge!"

While that whole mess is going on, we move on to Jacqueline, who is having some nice alone girlytime getting her nails done. This seems to be the only form of entertainment available in Franklin Lakes besides causing scenes at cancer benefits and flipping tables, because that is all these ladies do during their downtime. Anyway, Jacky-Tabacky is just having a grand old time gossiping with her nail buffer person when who should show up at the salon totally spontaneously and not pre-staged at all but Kim G! That's right, the Kim G, the new Leia in the gold bikini to Danielle's Jabba.

Kim sits down in the chair right next to Jacqueline, who for her part is very outwardly friendly, though you can tell she's actually like "Awwwww shit." You can also tell that because she basically interviews as such. The two exchange brief pleasantries and then Kim immediately starts to unload about Danielle and crew's psychotic behavior at the sick baby fundraiser. Fortunately for Jacqueline, her baby starts crying from the other room so she is able to interrupt Kim briefly and attend to her child. Pretty soon though Kim is all "Hey! F your baby in the A, I'm tellin a story here!" and continues. She mentions wanting to bring the drama up with Danielle, and Jacqueline is all "LOLZ! Good luck!" because she knows that criticizing Danielle will only lead to you having hydrochloric acid poured on your face while you sleep. Though for Kim that might be a plus, since she's obviously no stranger to a chemical peel.

Ignoring Jacqueline's advice, Kim confronts Danielle that night while they are getting their hurr did for Danielle's 500th birthday bash. Although Kim only brings up the part about Danny calling Chris a faggot, Danielle predictably flies off the rails and gets hyperdefensive. She says that she thought Danny's use of that word was offensive, but didn't want to bring it up at the event, even though she flipped out last season when Teresa's husband called their dance instructor gay. She then crazily starts screaming "WELL SHAME ON THE MANZO'S FOR NOT BEING DOWN THERE AND PUTTING THEIR SON IN THAT POSITION!" completely missing the point that it's the use of the word "faggot" and not to whom it was said that is the issue. I honestly wonder whether she wilfully twists the facts of things, or if that's just something she subconsciously does. Serious Kelly Bensimon territory.

Things get even weirder when Kim G's mother (?) confronts Danielle about the comment as well. This causes Danielle to start crying about how she doesn't need people defending the dreaded Manzo clan on this, her thousandth birthday. Seeing the crazometer ratcheting up before their eyes, Kim Gs young and old back off and they all head back to the party where Danielle gives a bizarre toast to that seems like a veiled death threat. Scary stuff!

The next day things have gone back to normal between the two because Danielle has bigger fish to fry, fish by the name'a Ashley. Yes, JACQUELINE'S DAUGHTER Ashley. Apparently Ashley (that sounds like a failed sitcom: "Apparently Ashley, starring Brooke Sheilds, this fall on ABC"), did not like Danielle's behavior at the Brownstone and in retaliation sent her a facebook message that said something like "I hate you and I hope you burn in hell" or something. Upon receipt of this message, Danielle goes nuts, cursing to herself, pacing in her kitchen, the whole nine terrible yards.

Soon, Kim G shows up, cuz what else does she have to do, and Danielle unloads about the situation. Apparently this isn't the first online war she's had with Ashley. Turns out the girl has set up "hate sites" about Danielle and has been harrassing her for a while. This is bad. Not so much the sentiment about Danielle, because, yeah, she is crazy. But you do not engage the Danielle! You do not provoke the Danielle! She's like the demon in Paranormal Activity, acknowledging her only makes her stronger.

Later that day Teresa and Jacqueline have lunch, and at that point the situation has further spiraled out of control. Danielle has now begun going around town telling anyone who will listen about how Jacqueline's daughter personally went to her house and burned a cross on her lawn while screaming "Heil Hitler!" and tapdancing on an American flag. Jacqueline, understandably concerned, calls her daughter over to figure out the truth. Ashley tells her that she only told her to go to hell, and didn't mail antrax to Danielle's children. Regardless, Jacqueline upbraids her daughter and tells her to cut off all contact with She Who Shall Not Be Named.

That night, the Manzos have'a da bigga Italian'a dinner'a party, and everyone is invited (except the Mantis Queen, obviously). The whole Manzo clan is present, as well as Jacqueline and fam, and Teresa and Joe, who are an hour and a half late. Once the Giudices arrive, they all sit down and have a nice dinner, until Ashley foolishly brings up the Danielle Facebook dramz. Everyone yells at her for getting involved, but Ashely says that she only got involved because Danielle had messaged her saying she needs to loose weight. This prompted Ashley to respond, and I quote, "You need to fix your square tit and you look like a Grinch." HA! HAHAHAHAHA! OMG I LOL'd so hard at that one, and so did the entire table. Everyone was like "HAHA! Ahem, Ashley, that's HA a very bad HAHAHA thing to say AHAHAHAHASQUARETIT LOLZ!" Anyway, after a long venting session, they all vow to never speak of Danielle again. Yeah, that's gonna happen.

Missing from this family dinner is Dina, who instead decides to meet with the Squaretit Grinch to tell her she wants nothing to do with her. While I love the hell out of Dina, this seems a little weird. Why call up a person you have no contact with to tell them you want no contact with them? Seems odd.

Anyway, they agree to meet at some restaurant called "Chakra," just them, woman to woman, although Danielle has Danny sit in the parking lot in case I dunno, Dina tries to stab her or something. Dina sits down, and immediately gets to the point: Danielle was crazy, but Dina thought she could change. However, she actually can't change, and is still crazy and a cancer on society, so she wants nothing to do with her. Danielle, not one to take criticism like this, starts in on her whole "you Manzos hate me and I'm being persecuted" dog and pony show, and things start to get heated.

At which point the episode ends and Bravo is all "WATCH WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WEEK SUCKAS!" and Andy Cohen does a little victory dance on his money pile.

Next week we get the resolution of this fight and we also find out which housewife will be leaving the show in the SHOCKER. OF. THE. SEASON. I'm pretty sure it's going to be Dina, since she's barely been in the season and seems pretty over it. Good for her! Although being my favorite, I'm sad to see her go. Next week should be good!

In the meantime, you should read Dina and Danielle's blogs from the Bravo site. Dina's is AWESOME and Danielle's is characteristically nuts.

It's hard out there for a musclequeen.

This is Christian Matyi, and he is being oppressed. I know! You look at this picture and think, "In what way is this handsome adonis possibly oppressed?" Is he part of a persecuted religious minority? On the receiving end of racism? Is he being gaybashed? No, worse.

He is being persecuted for the crime of having gnarly abs and rock-hard disco tits.

You see, Christian is a professional bodybuilder who recently wrote this piece for The Good Men Project (which I found via Towleroad and reads like an Onion article) about how people are totally mean to him because he has a ridiculous body. According to him, his pursuit of outrageously exaggerated body proportions has put him in a minority class, and because of this he is the subject of daily derision. People bump into him in the supermarket! People comment about how huge his muscles are! People gasp when he takes his shirt off at the beach!

Dude, maybe people bump into you in the supermarket because YOUR SHOULDERS TAKE UP THE WHOLE EFFING AISLE! People gasp and comment on how big your muscles are because THEY ARE FUCKING BIG!

Lest you think his musclegod ambitions stem from a lack of self confidence, he also points out that he totes didn't become a "My Size GI Joe" doll because of insecurities. Nah man, it's just cuz he likes looking totally rad in his tank tops, bro! Not 'cause he's some sort of insecure loser.

Look, I'm all for people doing what they want with their bodies. You want gigantic breasts? A smaller nose? A fourth penetrative oriface? Fine, it's your body, do what you want. However, when you wilfully inflate your body to cartoonish proportions beyond that of a normal human being, you don't get to then complain about unwanted stares or comments about said body. Mr. Matyi doesn't get to complain the same way Heidi Montag doesn't get to complain about the recent media storm over her recent re-boobing and re-facing: you want to mod your body, get used to stares.

Another thing, Chesty McPowerglutes: you don't get to cop minority status. Last I checked, there isn't some sort of oppressed be-pec'd and be-abbed underclass, though they may just do a good job of hiding them. For all I know the factories of South Los Angeles are staffed entirely by men who look like they stepped off a Falcon video shoot (sexxxy!).

So yeah, note to all: rants about how hard it is to be pretty? Not always well received.

Also, I am totally jealous. I can haz powerglutes?

Monday, June 7, 2010

I think I am in love with Lindy West.

Recently, I saw The Worst Film in the History of American Cinema, also known as Sex and the City 2. I've spent a little over a week now trying to verbalize just how terrible the film really was, but was struggling to find the words. Was it because of the terrible writing? The parade of over-the-top Gucci clown suits? The offensive Middle Eastern stereotypes? The scene where SPOLER ALERT Samantha smears estrogen cream on her vagina in the middle of her glass-walled Times Square office, in full view of her assistant? The fact that it is TWO AND A HALF FUCKING HOURS LONG?! The answer to all is yes, but also, so much more!

It was in the midst of ruminating on the shittiness of this film that a friend of mine sent me Lindy West's review from The Stranger, and let me tell you, it is solid gold. She enumerates the film's awfulness with such scathing, hilarious verbage it makes seeing the film almost worthwhile just so you can fully appreciate her rage.

My favorite part:

"Samantha, being the prostitute sexual revolutionary that she is, rages against the machine by publicly grabbing the engorged penis of a man she dubs "Lawrence of My-Labia." When the locals complain (having repeatedly asked Samantha to cover her nipples and mons pubis in the way of local custom), Samantha removes most of her clothes in the middle of the spice bazaar, throws condoms in the faces of the angry and bewildered crowd, and screams, "I AM A WOMAN! I HAVE SEX!" Thus, traditional Middle Eastern sexual mores are upended and sexism is stoned to death in the town square."

Seriously, READ IT! It's worth it for the phrase "emaciated goblin shoulders" alone.

Even if you couldn't give two shits about the movie, or have never heard of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, or Charlotte (lucky you), READ IT!

P.S. Also good, her article about the worst popes ever.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Sick baby shmick baby.

Return! Don't you love how comitted to this blog I am? Couple'a weeks here, couple there, yadda yadda. Continuity be damned! I can't be tied down to your western bourgeois conception of time! What exactly is a "week" anyway? Imperialist.

But yeah, sorry for skipping two weeks worth of episodes. Whoopsies! Basically, in the last 2 weeks Danielle's daughter walked in a fashion show and then barfed, Teresa shot another little princess out of her chuckie, and Danielle got invited to an event AT THE M-FING BROWNSTONE! AWWWWWWWWW SNAP! So yeah, that's where we're at today.

We open with Joe and Teresa heading home from the hospital with new baby Audriana, who they dote on and coo over while their (formerly) youngest id daughter climbs on the banisters, wild hair swinging in the air. Joe says he wants to keep pumpin' Teresa fully babies until a boy shoots out, but she says that she and her chuckie are done poppin out spicy Italian babysausages. She pleads with Joe to get "snipped," which I don't think he appreciates too much.

Meanwhile, in Mordor, Danielle's piercing Sauron mantiseye is searching all of Middle Earth for new friends, ultimately settling on a batty famewhore by the name of Kim G. Kim G, as you may recall, was at Danielle's "Look How Magical My Guts Are" party, and is also the best friend of Caroline's youngest son. Escandalo! Anyway the Dark Lord of Mordor invites her hapless new friend to accompany her to the sick baby benefit, since she doesn't want to go alone. Kim G. aggrees, cuz you know, face time.

Later, Caroline interviews that she and Kim G. are polite acquaintances due to their sons being friends, but they themselves are not friends. Also, she says that Kim invited her to lunch, but she declined because she knew she was friends of the Dreaded Mantis Queen, and therefore didn't want to get entangled in that and hurt their sons friendships. Which, seems reasonable to me, but I guess Kim G. is willing to destroy her son's life for a little slice of Z list reality "fame," so good for her.

Speaking of children and less than stellar parenting, across town Jacqueline meets with her failure of a daughter's boyfriend's mother. The ladies bond, and boyfriendmom tells Jacqueline that her daughter is great, and even cleans the house sometimes! She also assures her that they never let her drink, since she's underage. Then Jacks and boyfriendmom get drunk together and fall over over one another, to an uncomfortable degree. Seriously, they were like thiiiiiis close to making out.

Back at Giudice Junction, it's time for GIA'S NINTH BIRTHDAY! REJOICE FOR SHE IS NINE! Seriously though, since when has 9 been a big deal? It's a nothing birthday! But of course when you're little every birthday is a monumental event. Anyway, billions of screaming almost-tweens come over to the Giudice household, where outside Gia is presented with her gift: a Barbie-pink ATV. Seriously. She hops on that thing and hilariously starts zooming around the property at breakneck speed. It looked very very dangerous. I was on the edge. Of. My. Seat.

After the ATV overturns, Gia escaping mere seconds before it explodes Die Hard-style, the girls pile into a pink stretch limo that says "Sweet and Sassy" (barf) on it and head off to some megasalon where they all get done up and prettified. Teresa interviews that all her daughters are divas and not tomboys. Note to Teresa: divas are demanding bitches whom nobody likes and into whose chianti busboys furtively pee. They are not to be aspired to. Unless you are Beyonce, you cannot brag about being a diva.

The jovial tone of the episode doesn't last long. Dark clouds enter the skies over Franklin Lakes and the songbirds stop singing. The day of reckoning has arrived: THE SICK BABY FUNDRAISER! Kim G arrives in her (probably rented for TV) Bentley, complete with chauffeur, to pick up The Staubinator. Even though Kim says she's her homegirl and has Danielle's back, our gentile stinkblossom still feels unsafe, so her ex-con friend Danny whom we met last week hops into the limo, ready for a confrontation. He also mentions how he is just finishing up his parole, and is ready to crack some skulls. So, in short, totally appropriate guest to bring to a fundraiser for a baby with cancer. Well done, all. I think at this point, Kim G starts to reevaluate her new friendship.

Over at the Manzo fortress, Caroline, Jacqueline, and Teresa are having fun fun girlytime, sipping drinks and trading beauty secrets. Caroline's secret: she shaves her face every day. Every day. She shaves her face. Not making this up. Ok, I get it, some ladies are hairier than others, some require more maintenance, whatever, you can't control your genetics. However, what you can control is disclosing your genetics on a nationally broadcast television show. All I'm saying is, it's an easily kept secret, but maybe Caroline is taking the reality part of this really seriously.

After everyone laughs at Caroline for a little bit, the topic moves as usual to the dreaded Danielle. They toss around the usual insults ("slut," "whore," "psycho," "Nasty McBigbox") and question why she is showing up at the Brownstone. However, since she is "an invited guest," she will be treated as such. Am I the only one who thought it was funny how often they said "invited guest?" Like, they said it a TON. It sounds so medieval, like "I, Danielle, Dutchess of Staub-Mantisia, am an honored guest at Brownstone Manor, and shall be treated accordingly!" I dunno, it was weird.

Over at said manor, Danielle and her crew have arrived! They pull up to the Brownstone in their Rentley (ZING) with much flair. Chris, the youngest Manzo, is doing valet duty. Having been instructed by his mother to "not engage," he avoids Danielle. However, she walks up to him, shakes his hand, and says thanks for having her. He responds politely. For a minute we're all like "Hey wow! Danielle isn't such a horrible sociopathic monster after all!" But then she interviews that the greeting was meant as a coded "fuck you" to the Manzos, and we're reminded that she is indeed a sociopathic monster. Oh well.

Oh! Also showing up at the Brownstone at that time is the TEAM OF HELLS ANGELS Danny hired as added protection. So, to recap, Danielle brought Kim G, ex-con Danny, and a team of Hells Angels. To a sick baby fundraiser. Without paying. Class. Act.

Danielle interviews that since she is an HONORED GUEST (again with the honored guest stuff!), she should be allowed to bring whomever she deems appropriate. The Manzos will pay for such slighting of the Sick Baby Jubilee's Honored Guest!

So anyway, they enter, and there isn't space to fit Danielle's 20 deep crew, because, you know, they weren't invited and didn't RSVP. Danielle says that this was a fully intended slap in the face from the Manzos, because they are psychic and have her body bugged, so they should have known she'd be bringing her swarthy band of escaped convicts.

The "slight" also causes Danny to go off the rails, pacing around, yelling at caterers and dropping f-bombs and threatening to kill everyone in the building. Seriously, at one point he asks Danielle what he should do, and she just says "I don't care, just don't hurt the child's family," basically authorizing her band of maniacs to rough up the attendees of a cancer baby benefit. Again: class act.

Even though the Brownstone staff accomodates her ridiculous demands and set up a table for her entourage, she is not satisfied, and says that she wants to leave "with dignity." Ummm, I think you lost your dignity when you brought a gang of Hells Angels to the benefit, sorry.

So, in order to preserve her dubious dignity, she and her crew leave the benefit, but not before Danny threatens the staff a little bit more and yells about the Manzo's being punks. As they leave, Danielle tells everyone that they were kicked out of the event, even though the episode clearly shows that she left of her own volition. Though, they should have been kicked out for real for you know, threatining to kill everyone in the building. Sigh...

Anyway, Danielle et al pull off in their pumpkin coach and the episode draws to an end. What a crazy chapter of this epic Jersey ballad! It's always amazing how huge of a disconnect there is between Danielle's actions and her memory of the events. She is fast becoming the Kelly Bensimon of RHONJ. But whatever, I'm glad the dramz is finally starting to pick up on this season! Next episode has a big blowout between Dina and Danielle, which should be pretty entertaining.

Until then, I leave you with this article about how Teresa and Joe owe 11 million dollars and their house is being foreclosed upon. Merry Christmas!