Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Concert Review: Duran Duran - Jimmy Kimmel Live

I love the opportunities that living in LA affords me - like seeing Duran Duran up close and personal! This was my second time going to a Jimmy Kimmel Live concert. The concerts take place on an outdoor stage behind the theater where the Kimmel show tapes.  The first time I went, I saw Spandau Ballet. It was an excellent show but had a much smaller crowd than today’s show and a shorter set.  

There were two ways to get tickets for the show. You could apply for free tickets through or you could make a $15 donation to cancer research through the Mastercard Priceless program and be guaranteed a spot. I figured the Mastercard ticket holders would be let in first, and I dislike cancer, so I donated the $15.  

We arrived at 4:00pm to get in line. There were about 40 people in line ahead of us.  We had to wait in the sun for about 90 minutes while listening to the band do their soundcheck behind the fence.  They let us in at 5:30pm and we got a spot in the 2nd row from the stage! We then watched the Kimmel show broadcast on a video screen as it was taping. At the end of the show, Jimmy Kimmel came out on stage to introduce Duran Duran. The band’s segment was being taped to air on a future show.  

The band kicked off the set with “Pressure Off”, the first single from the new album “Paper Gods.”  They looked and sounded great.  I’ve been a Duranie for 33 years, and I’ve seen them in concert probably 7 or 8 times but I’ve never been able to see them perform at such close range. Simon came right up to the barrier and sang to us several times. I could have easily collapsed like one of those preteen fans in the “Sing Blue Silver” documentary.  And why did I forget my fedora?  

They played two other songs from “Paper Gods”:  “Last Night in the City” and “You Kill Me With Silence.” Album producer Mr. Hudson joined the band on stage and played guitar for “You Kill Me With Silence.  We got to hear all the new songs twice and Simon made several false starts on “You Kill Me With Silence.” He apologized and said it was such a good song that he wanted to make sure he performed it perfectly. None of us in the crowd minded hearing the songs over again. We are now well-prepared to sing along at the Hollywood Bowl show later this week!

Simon asked us how long we had been waiting and if any of us were hungry before launching into “Hungry Like a Wolf.”  They played this one a second time too, to get it perfect for TV.  The crowd went wild when they played “Save a Prayer” and we all sang along, especially on the greatest pickup line of all time: “Some people call it a one night stand, but we can call it paradise.”  They also performed “Reach up for the Sunrise”, which isn’t my favorite, but I reached up anyway.  



The whole show lasted just over an hour, which is pretty awesome considering some of these Kimmel freebie concerts are only 3 or 4 songs.  The band seemed to be in great spirits. I think the new songs are really catchy and I’m glad to see the Duran boys back on top again!

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Care If Ghost Hunters Comes Back

If you’re a follower of Ghost Hunters, you’ve noticed they’ve been missing from the increasingly-crowded televised ghost-show lineup for a few reality-show seasons now. It seems like the longest hiatus the show has ever had. In fact, there didn’t seem a time when Ghost Hunters wasn’t on the air unless one of their spinoffs or associate shows were bookmarking their spot for the summer.

I was a very early adopter of GH in 2004 and watched all the episodes for the first few years. They were refreshingly professional seeming (aside from the comic relief of Brian Harnois). I bought their books and oogled their ghost hunting gadgets sold for a time on the Sci Fi channel website. I even watched and wrote about how Ghost Hunters International fell short of the original show. I was there during Brian Hornois’ dramatic departures, kerfuffles with Andy Andrews,  Steve Gonsalves’s fear of all sorts of shit, Dave Tango'a rise to prominence, (he’s my personal favorite for his level-headedness but I was also there when the cast exposed his naivete with pranks early on), Amy Bruni’s baby, Kris Williams’ quiet awesomeness that took a season or two to warm up to, Britt Griffith,  Adam Berry, K.J. McCormick, Donna LaCroix, Dustin Pari, (and his injudicious use of backwards hats), Joe Chin, Barry Fitzgerald in the UK episodes and many others who came and went over the years.

Somewhere around 2007 or 2008 I started falling asleep through episodes. Part of this was just being dog tired at the time. But part of it was because the shows were becoming repetitive. However, by that time my husband was hooked. He didn’t miss an episode come hell or high water, even catching one episode on Hulu in 2010 on a laptop the week we moved to New Mexico and didn’t have our TV. 

Then we dropped cable for a time in 2013 and GH wasn’t available anymore on Hulu. What was up with that? First GH was on Hulu; then it wasn’t. Looking back, I wonder if GH wasn’t starting to slip under the weight of its behind-the-scenes goings on. 

Now, the show is forever lingering as a promise on Sci Fi’swebsite. The lineup seems fractured and release dates for the reboot have come and gone. No one seems to want to pull the plug.

I, for one, can live without more Ghost Hunters episodes. And here is why:

1.       Redundancy.
It’s hard to tell the shows apart anymore. When we look back and reminisce, they all run together. Has the show been on too long?

2.       Disturbing Departures. 
When Grant, one of the show’s founders, left in 2014 the shocking and mostly unexplained departure betrayed probable hidden conflicts within the cast.

3.       Subset of Disturbing Departures: All the Cool Girls Leave.
There have been great guys on the show, but the girls have been exceptional. They never squealed and shivered at spooks. They were confident, brave and smart. So why are they gone?

4.       Subset 2 of Disturbing Departures, Many Iterations of Jay’s Kids and Dogs.
Jay has attempted to replace the girl-gap with a rotation of his daughters (and one dog).  For some reason although these daughters seem confident and smart, it just feels like we’re getting more Jayness and not more girliness.

5.      Subset 3 of Disturbing Departures, the Very First Departure, Brian Hornois.
Actually, I don’t know who left first, Brian or Donna. They both left in 2007. But Donna left without much fanfare. Brian’s departure was a plot point on the show. He was clearly a point of pain and it’s easy to see why his erratic and undependable behavior necessitated his release from the series. However, to his credit, Brain did inject some life into the show every time he failed to correctly coil up an extension cord. He seemed to serve as some kind of personality catalyst for the rest of the cast. Without him, the show deflated a bit. Which brings us to…

6.       The Personality Problem.
The current menagerie of ghost story, ghost hunting, and ghost psychic shows are full to the brim with personality. New shows have goofy, hyper lead investigators (Zak Bagans), quirky angles (a cop and a physic who prescribes chaos magicians) , psychics aiding celebrities, hillbilly ghost hunters. I’m not saying the gimmick is alright. I’m just saying GH has lost what few charismatic players they had. Jay and Grant were a duo with personality. Jay and Steve Gonsalves are not. Jay alone is not. In comparison to other shows, the cast now seems bland. Professional is good. Bland is not.

7.       Spin Off Failures.
Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy didn’t last although the academy did give us Adam Berry who was an interesting addition at first. Remember the inn in New England that Jay and Grant purchased? Can this be turned into a spin off?

8.       The Credibility Issue.
Some ghost shows rely on personality. Some shows rely on trumped-up scares. It’s a hard line to walk. Ghost Hunters once had a bit of comedy and personality (with some on-the-air dramas). It seemed at some point in the last five years GH was going for more scares and less science. Then they seem to pull back. The show has always seemed to struggle with what kind of show does it want to be. In any case, both science and show credibility have suffered.

9.       Paltry Evidence of Research.
That inn in New England reminds me of a question that has been bugging me for years: why doesn’t anyone invest in a clearly haunted house and study that on TV for a few years? Why aren’t any eccentric Richie Rich’s investing in ghost research? They’re investing in alien research. Why not ghosts? After ten years and multiple ghost shows, have we any decent proof to show for ourselves? Something we can take on a TED talk? In fairness, it’s not really possible to judge televised research. The very format is deceptive. But we all pretend here, right? “It’s a TV show” is my husband’s favorite mantra. TV prevents me from ultimately taking anything seriously. So I’m pretending disappointment here with the repetitive evidence we’ve managed to accumulate over the last decade. Because it’s a TV show, this particular viewer is getting bored with “compelling EVPs.”

10.   Jay.
At the end of day, we’re left with Jay. God love him for hanging in there, but he’s too stern to lead, he’s not causal enough to narrate, and he needs a charismatic co-host to counter-balance his solid-guy Jayness. He once had a role to play: be the hard guy. He’s like your friend’s dad who is too serious and hard-ass so you never go over and play at their house. He wasn’t flexible enough to morph into a welcoming, friendly host. I’m led to believe Jay might have a serious life, so he’s a serious guy. But real life characters and TV characters are too different things. Jay needs Grant’s lightness to offset his Jayness.

So it probably goes without saying we all miss Grant. But I miss Brian too and his honest dishonesties, his “Run, Dude, Runs!” I miss Donna and Kris. I even miss announcer Mike Rowe. I miss the days when the show seemed somewhat more of a team and less of a Jay-logarchy. Jay has his strengths, (he’s organized, passionate, and definitely an influencer), but carrying the show on his back ain’t one of em. The problem with this show is that I miss too much. I miss more than they can likely replace.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

A Night at the Jack FM 80's Flashback Prom

I got a second chance to to to prom, 24 years later, and it was way better than I dreamed. When I heard that Jack FM was hosting an 80s Flashback Prom with A Flock of Seagulls performing and Richard Blade DJing, and that the date coincided with my 6th anniversary weekend with my boyfriend Dave, I knew we had to be there.  But the only way in was being Caller 13, and I’ve never had luck with radio contests.  For 2 weeks I tried and failed. Once I got through, but I was Caller 2. Mostly I just got busy signals. My last ditch effort was entering online. I didn’t have much hope that would work, but I was thrilled to get a call on Tuesday that my online entry had been chosen. That only gave me a few days to find a dress and prepare for the Friday prom - paging Annie Potts!

I didn’t date in high school. I went to a tiny all-girls Catholic school with no brother school. We had proms, but I didn’t know any boys to ask, didn’t like getting dressed up, and several of my best friends weren’t going either. I didn’t give it much thought. I was a nerd and mainly obsessed with getting good grades to get into a good college. On prom night, I remember driving my grandma home from having dinner at our house. We passed an airport hotel and I pointed out to her that my prom was being held there that night. “Why aren’t you there?!” she asked, incredulous. “I don’t know. It’s not a big deal to me,” I said. She seemed quietly exasperated with me and, after I got back home, I heard her on the phone with my mom. My mom said I just didn’t seem to be interested in boys and was a late bloomer. It was odd that my grandma’s disappointment registered more with me than my peers’ opinions, as none of them had made a big deal out of my decision to skip prom. I wondered if I’d just made a big mistake. Over the years, I regretted not going whenever I would hear others’ prom stories, good or bad. I regretted missing out on the dating training that many got in high school.

Fast forward to the Flashback Prom! I felt lucky to be with Dave, who is always willing to dress up and go to any theme parties I plan or want to attend. He doesn’t really like to dance, but he was excited to be part of prom with me and committed to making it special. One trip to the mall helped us put our look together. 80s fashion is back in style, lucky for us. I found a fuschia and black lace dress at Torrid on clearance for $17. If I had more time, I'd have gone thrifting to look for a hoop dress, but this would suffice. Claire’s boutique, site of my semi-traumatic ear piercing in 1984, had the feather earrings and fingerless Madonna gloves I needed. The tuxedo shop didn’t have vintage tuxes but suggested the Miami Vice look. Dave found a white tux. Don Johnson was one of my earliest crushes (immortalized in my poem, Sestina for Sonny Crockett), so this idea seemed perfect.  A jaunt to Target completed our looks with an aqua tshirt and slip-on sneakers for him and glittery nail polish and blue eyeshadow for me.  I got my hair done big and curly (Thanks, Audrey!).  

On prom night, we drove over Coldwater Canyon to Sportsmens Lodge, and I admired the view of the valley and thought about how much I wanted to live in LA when I was a kid and how it still feels somewhat dreamlike to me that I live here, even 11 years later. Sportsmens Lodge was the location of Dave’s and my first Thanksgiving together in 2008 and it’s the kind of retro banquet hall I really like. We saw some kids at their actual prom in another ballroom as we walked to our party.  The ballroom was decorated with balloons and 80s wall appliques like Rubik’s Cubes and cassette tapes. Pretty in Pink, Coming to America and 80s music videos were playing on the screens and a DJ played 80s tunes.  Everyone was dressed up in 80s fashions and having a great time.  It was fun to be in a room full of people our age who look back on this era fondly.  Lots of ladies were looking at Dave, who looked very dashing in his white tux. I felt proud to be with him and he was a great date, making sure we got appetizers, drinks and danced a lot. When A Flock of Seagulls came on, he even pushed to the front to remove a couple of balloons that were placed in such a way that they blocked the lead singer’s face.  We had fun dancing to the band, close to the stage, as they went through all their hits from “Telecommunication” to “Space Age Love Song” to “I Ran.” Everyone sang along.  

After the band ended, Dave made sure I got a pic with the singer. Richard Blade did a DJ set and that was a thrill for me, as I remembered watching his syndicated afternoon video show Video One before we had MTV. He is a classic 80s icon and gave me my first exposure to many of the new wave bands that I still love today. I asked Richard if he could play “Save a Prayer” or something slow.  He said, “Beautiful choice.”  But as the evening wore on, he only played fast songs. We danced all night anyway and had an awesome time.  Finally, it was the last song - and it was a slow dance - the best possible choice of song “True.”  This has been our song since we danced to it when we saw Tony Hadley perform a free concert on Fremont St in Downtown Vegas (see review and videos from that show). When we danced to “True” together, and it was in the high 90s on a Vegas summer night, we were surrounded by drunk and high people, the homeless and various downtown Vegas oddities. Picture dancing in the middle of the Star Wars cantina. Yet, I felt like it was just me and Dave, being serenaded by the classy Tony Hadley.  So true...funny how it seems...and that is how I felt again at this prom, although there were lots of other couples in tight embraces on the dancefloor. It didn’t surprise me afterward that Dave had requested that Richard play the song - after Richard had not been able to fulfill his request to play the somewhat less romantic “Ghostbusters.”  (Hmm..prioritizing "Ghostbusters" over "True"...we do still have some issues to work on ;)

Afterward, we went to Mel’s Diner, for the traditional post-prom late night breakfast.  We played some more good tunes on the jukebox. I felt so glad to finally have a prom night with the man I love, not just a random date - a man who goes outside his comfort zone and shares my zest for life and sense of humor. Together we find joy in so many things around us and support each other through the down times. After 6 years, he is still the one I want by my side for all my future adventures. I know this much is true.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Concert Review: Festival Supreme

Jack Black and Kyle Gass planned Festival Supreme to be a "Coachella of Comedy" and if you gauge the comparison based on number of hipsters in ironic tshirts, overcrowding, and long lines, they succeeded. The Santa Monica Pier doesn't really work as well as a setting as the polo field in Indio does.  There was a lot of crowding and too much standing required, but overall, I'd say, as at Coachella, the lineup was worth the suffering. It was a quite a collection of titans of comedy.

I arrived around 2:15pm and saw the queue was snaking up the pier and around the block that houses The Lobster restaurant. The festival was starting at 2:30pm. There were no staff or volunteers managing the queue, so I inadvertently jumped part of the line and avoided having to wrap around The Lobster. There had seemed to be 2 separate lines, and I thought both were leading to a merge.  This meant I got into the venue in 30 minutes, whereas some others waited about an hour and missed the opening acts.  I heard some people say they had circled The Lobster twice because the queue process was so disorganized. Nobody was laughing at this point.

Once inside, I caught some of Garfunkel and Oates set on Omega Stage - the biggest of the 3 stages. The sound kept cutting in and out on them. They kept a good attitude and sang one song off-mike to those in front. Jack Black came on stage to help out and the sound came back. They were given a few extra minutes to finish. I hadn't seen them before and got a big kick out of their catchy tunes like "The Loophole" and "The College Try."  After their set, I went over to Club Intimacy to watch The Abe Lincoln Story.  Their set was fun but not too memorable. I was excited to see them because they feature The Millionaire from Combustible Edison on guitar, but they don't have that same loungey, quirky vibe.  My favorite song they did was "Get High and Go to Work."  

Next, I went to The Mighty Tent for Eric Idle.  The tent was packed for Eric's set and the food vendor row was very close to the margin of this tent, so it caused a bit of a cluster with the food vendor and bar lines merging into the tent crowd.  Jack Black came out to introduce Eric, but Billy Idol came out instead! The crowd went wild, as Billy broke into the Lumberjack song.  Some silly banter ensued between Eric and Billy about which Idol or Idle was actually supposed to perform, and Billy eventually ceded the stage to Eric and his bandmate Jeff Davis.  They ran through an entertaining set that included many classics like "The Penis Song" and "Drunken Philosophers." They also brought Billy back onstage to join in for "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". 

I went over to Omega Stage for Fred Armisen. He was performing as Ian Rubbish, wearing a Rod Stewart-ish wig and acting like a British punk rocker, fronting a band that included Leigh Gorman from Bow Wow Wow on bass, Steve Jones of Sex Pistols on guitar, and Clem Burke from Blondie on drums.  Unfortunately, the music wasn't as cool as the lineup.  It felt sort of like failed performance art. 

At this point, my feet were hurting from standing for 3 hours.  There were a few picnic tables that were full, and no other seating options other than the hard pier - unless you had VIP tickets which granted access to Rusty's Surf Ranch.  I went over to Bubba Gump's to sit at the bar, have a drink and catch some of the USC vs ND game.  I then headed back into the festival, intent on seeing Patton Oswalt in Club Intimacy. There was a human traffic jam in the narrow passageway that went alongside The Mighty Tent and led to Club Intimacy. Inexplicably, there was a large booth for LA Weekly in the middle of the narrow passageway, and this was also the only way to get to the bathrooms (if you didn't have access to the VIP bathrooms).  People were using the narrow gap between the LA Weekly booth and the wall to try to get through, squeezing as if in a cave. It was like a soccer riot in the making. Eventually I got to the front of the passageway, only to be told that Club Intimacy was full. I was bummed I couldn't see Patton, plus I then had to push my way back through the crowd. There were no staff at the start of the jam to let people know they wouldn't be able to get into the tent.  I watched Princess on Omega Stage - Maya Rudolph's Prince tribute band.  Like Fred's act, these musical acts were funny for a song but not for an entire 20-30 minute set.  I did enjoy their version of "Darling Nikki" complete with backward vocals. 

I decided to try my luck at getting into Club Intimacy and endured the tunnel of crush again. Again, the staff said the tent was full, but this time I ignored them and waited. Once we were allowed past the walkway entrance, the tent wasn't full at all. I wondered if that had been the case during Patton's set too.  I watched Hannibal Burress who was pretty funny. After all the musical acts, it was a treat to see some good old fashioned stand up.  Then Tig Notaro came out and she killed it.  I love her deadpan style.  I have been a fan since I heard her Taylor Dayne story on This American Life. I headed back to try to watch some of Zach Galifanakis only to hear him wrap up at 7:10pm. He was supposed to start at 7:00pm so, unless he started early, he only did 10 minutes. This was a disappointment to the packed crowd in The Mighty Tent.  

My feet were again killing me, and I wanted to watch the end of the football game, so I went back over to Bubba Gump's, only to discover they had removed the bar stools, probably because it was so crowded. I walked all the way to the end of the pier to Marisol but they didn't have the game on in the bar, only for table service.  Dejectedly, I went back to Bubba's and propped myself up on the bar to watch the last few minutes of the ND victory.  I then successfully pushed my way back to Club Intimacy for Sarah Silverman, who did a very funny 20 minutes of stand-up.  I'm told I missed a very funny set by Triumph, with cameos from Conan O'Brien, Sarah Silverman, and more.  I also missed Adam Sandler.  I saw a little bit of Mr. Show Experience - the funniest part was Brian Posehn and Scott Ian of Anthrax as fake metal band Titannica. 

Now almost 7 hours into the event, I got a burger and a beer and tried to ignore my exhaustion to get fired up for Tenacious D. They did not disappoint with a set that featured a giant squid and a giant Metal god.  They also brought out Andy Samberg's band Lonely Island for a great medley of tunes such as "Diaper Money" and "I'm on a Boat."  The D did songs off their most recent album such as "Roadie" and "Death Starr." They also did classics like "The Metal" and "Tribute."  I left toward the end of their set to avoid being in another crush that I was sure would ensue at the end.

Event planning is hard - I know, because I do it for work, although not on this grand scale.  I think if they do this again, they either need a larger venue or to sell less tickets. They need more staff and volunteers to manage the crowd and the entrance queue.  I also think there should be at least one stage with seating.  It feels kind of unnatural to watch stand-up while standing, and standing for so long wears on you if you're not dancing. Some of the layout problems such as the narrow path to bathrooms and Club Intimacy and the proximity of the food vendor lines to the tent crowds can be rectified if they have more space. LA State Historic Park downtown would be a good option.  I think this was a very cool festival with an amazing comedy lineup, so I hope they do bring it back.  Thanks for the laughs, Kyle and Jack! 

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Courtney Love - Live at The Canyon Club

Courtney Love
The Canyon Club - Agroua Hills, CA
July 26, 2013

Courtney Love at...The Canyon Club? In Agoura Hills? Isn't that the place where, like, Flock of Seagulls and The Knack appear on their nostalgia tours?  Well, guess what folks...Live Through This is almost 20 years old...and as Courtney remarked "This is my oldies tour, and I am never doing this again..."

It's an odd venue deep in the Valley. Appropriately for the evening's show, there's an antique store in the same strip mall by the club called A Beautiful Mess. They sell dinner packages for the shows, so a good portion of the crowd was sitting down when she took the stage.  Courtney said, "Are you people sitting down? Is this dinner theater? Am I playing fucking dinner theater??? Oh, how the mighty have fallen." Well, she needn't have worried, although she mentioned "dinner theater" a few more times during the show, because most of the crowd was packing the general admission floor area and screaming along with all the old songs.  And is she still relevant? Well, I went with two 17-year-olds who are avid fans and pushed their way to the front and had a joyful and emotional time. The songs capture the female experience in a visceral, honest, and often ugly way, and the world hasn't changed that much in 20 years.

Her new band is all dudes, and they are tight.  They ripped through a 70-minute set that covered her whole career. It was a treat to hear "Gold Dust Woman".  She played a couple songs off America's Sweetheart and Nobody's Daughter, but the bulk of the set was from Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, with a smattering of Pretty on the Inside.

Some people dismiss Celebrity Skin as too poppy and slight, but I like the album a lot and so did this California crowd. When I first moved to LA, I drove up the PCH to Malibu listening to the album and songs like "Malibu" and "Pacific Coast Highway" and I felt like I was finally home. This was now the soundtrack to my life, just as Live Through This had helped me navigate the difficult transition between college and "real life."  

While I don't always like Courtney, I always respect what she's gone through and how she has managed to survive, and I dig her music. And she looks quite good at 49. I wasn't close to the stage but didn't notice any obvious creepy plastic surgery. She's still got energy and her barbaric yawp.

"Let me check out the demographic...Nirvana t-shirt? check.  Homos? You were there for me at the lowest points. Fucked up girls?" Courtney said. Yes, they were all there in abundance. Who else was there? Nikki Sixx was watching from the side of the stage. Courtney made a reference to her best friend being there and how they were an odd combo, but didn't really say if she was talking about Nikki or someone else. I can picture Courtney and Nikki having some shared experiences to discuss. 

Overall, I'd say she seemed much more commanding and in the groove than when I last saw her in 2010. She's obviously worked more with this band and is comfortable with them. She said they will have a new single out before Christmas.

I was pleased to see Live Through This made the recent Entertainment Weekly list of 100 Essential Albums. "Violet" still riles me up, and I felt a solidarity with everyone in the crowd who was singing along, even the dude next to me with the Affliction shirt and Goo Goo Dolls hairstyle with frosted highlights.  Courtney came back and delivered "Doll Parts" as an encore, after complaining about how hard it was to breathe life into that old chestnut.  Breathe life - and spit fire - she did. 

My reviews of Hole in 2010 and 1998.

My Courtney Love choose-your-own-celebrity adventure

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Kerfuffle: An Inside Look into the West/Kardashian Baby-Naming Drama

"Kerfuffle:  An Inside Look into the West/Kardashian Baby-Naming Drama"

By C. Crumpet Swank

21 June 2013

I think People magazine is pulling our leg today with this absolutely ridiculous “confirmation” that Kim and Kanye have decided to name their little darling North West.  True, Kaidence didn’t make the cut, although it had been a front runner among the family.  At the Jenner/Kardashian kompound in Kalabasas there was much discussion this week about other choices, but nothing was written in stone.  The long-rumored Kimye was eventually discarded because I reminded Kris that there was already a semi-celebrity with essentially the same name, Kimya Dawson, who wrote all those boho-chic songs for the Juno soundtrack.  And so the deliberations wore on…   Surely, some of the names we floated during those fruitful discussions by the infinity pool bear revisiting.  This whole “North” thing—I think it’s pretty darn risible.  I mean, really, North Donde West?  It sounds like a cul de sac in a Flagstaff, AZ retirement development. And where’s the femininity, the verve; the special K?   For all of you who could not be there, here are some of the names we discussed:


Kardigan (remember all those nifty prepster sweaters Kanye first wore when he arrived on the scene?)


Kondoleeza (a strong, powerful, educated woman)


Krosby Billsandkash


Kastanet West (genuinely sounds great and is a nice musical nod to Dad; other options in the same vein:  Koronet, Kettledrum, Kalliope, Akkordion, Klezmer)




Kumbaya Mylord West (a nod to Dad’s messianic complex)


Kootie LaLa


Kruller Krumpet (to acknowledge all the pastries that were so key in the baby’s well-documented development.  Bruce duly lobbied for Krispy Kreme and there was some support in the air—but Kris, who adores the spelling, reminded her hubby that the trademarking opportunities are already sewn up.)


Kleopatra (Kim is smoky-eyed and gorgeous like Liz Taylor…Cleopatra was Egyptian…which makes her Kanye’s forebears.  Knefertiti was also thrown into the mix by Kendall.  Much debate ensued about which ruler was hotter.)


Kornukopia (this baby will have many talents and opportunities)


Kulture Klub (because she’s such a wonderful amalgamation of various kultures)


Kiplinger (because Mom’s proudly all about the $$$; also, Kippi is a sweet little nickname)


Kibble Ann (a nice, traditional family name)




Kundalini (Kim thought it was a delicious pasta dish at Drae’s, but I explained what a peaceful, mystical name it really was.)


Knelly (Kourtney’s always been a big fan of Little House on the Prairie which was filmed close by in the Valley.)




Kopakabana (since Mom and Dad aren’t afraid of putting on a show)


Knarly Rae (honors the baby’s Valley Girl roots in Kalabasas)




Kesha Kabbalah (Who doesn’t love a virtuous namesake, á la Madonna or Jesus/Yeezus?)


Kordovan (Bi-racial children usually have gorgeous skin tone, á la Halle Berry)




Krabapple Kumquat (sunny Gwynnie paved the way with Apple for her tyke, and Krabapple adds just the right amount of tartness for the daughter of the reigning “king of kontention” in the hip-hop/rap world.  As they say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  And in keeping with the fruit theme, Rob recommended the middle name to honor Kim’s entrepreneurial/artistic spirit with the project that first put her on the map.)    


Koupe de Ville (since she'll most likely have a lot of junk in the trunk like her Mom)


Ketamine Kwhorentine [pronounced ˈkē-tə-ˌmēn ˈkwr-ən-ˌtēn]  (in the tradition of classic, elegant French names like Christine, Evangeline, Clementine, etc.)


Koka Kola (the synergy is just waiting to happen)


Kelly Klarkson (Kylie wouldn’t let this one go…)


and perhaps the group favorite (We’re just waiting for Alex Hailey’s blessing and to see if he’s willing to be the baby’s godfather)…


KUNTE KIMTÉ (since Kanye doesn't seem to have any problem taking famous references in black history and reemploying them in a totally tone deaf way; e.g., on the new album, his appropriation of MLK's "Thank God, Almighty…free at last" to describe a pair of breasts he has "liberated" from a bra in a sordid bathroom f—k.) 


KUNTE KIMTÉ—it verily skips along the tongue.  I can see why the family went ga-ga over this potential choice.  So romantic and erudite!  Just like the much-admired couple who spawned this little 21st-century treasure.   

North?  Bah!  In the immortal words of Public Enemy:  "Don’t believe the hype!"

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Mary McCray Reviews Steve Martin's New DVD: The Television Stuff

They all say Generation Xers love irony in our literature and popular entertainments; we love “wink-wink” kitche; we love high camp; we love meta-texts (texts that are self-aware and self-referential). Everyone points to our love of The Brady Bunch (and other now-campy shows of its era) as evidence of this phenomenon, a particular indicator which never felt especially accurate to me. After all, the first time we poured over Brady Bunch re-runs after school during our pre-teen years, we loved it. We loved it straight on without a smidgeon of irony. Bad 1960s TV for adults evolved into swell recycled kids television in the 1970s. We thought The Brady Bunch was a well-executed, highly engaging, plot-driven dramedy. And we didn’t appreciate the show on any other level until the various TV reunion specials appeared in the 1980s. Then we realized it was bad; but we still loved it because we didn’t want to let it go; and irony allowed you to keep loving things that were really bad. So...(and this is important), we loved it both ironically and with a chaser-kick of sincere nostalgic love. Let’s not kid ourselves, Xers. When we ironically like The Brady Bunch, we are also aiming that disparaging irony back on ourselves for loving it the first time.
Those among us who became writers and lit readers took this love of loving things ironically and made heroes out of writers like Douglas Copeland (especially for his recognition of us in his novel Generation X), David Foster Wallace, Dave Eggers and Jonathan Franzen. Dave Eggers seemed the boldest in his performance of meta-writing. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was packed to the rafters with self-awareness.

Before he died, David Foster Wallace gave a reading at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles where he made an unexpected plea for a return to sincerity. We had gone so far with irony, he said. Maybe he thought we had lost emotion, had lost heart. The story he read, "Incarnations of Burned Children" from the short story collection Oblivion: Stories (2004). epitomized tragic sincerity and his point made a deep impression on me. I wondered how my generation of writers set off on this track of "high-plains-irony" we sometimes call post modernism, following on the works of novelists like John Barth. 

For Xers, was it really all because of The Brady Bunch

Ape Culture’s co-editor, Julie Wiskirchen, came to visit me in Santa Fe a few weekends ago and she brought me the new Steve Martin box set of his early TV appearances and specials, Steve Martin: The Television Stuff. The bulk of the material ranges from 1976 to 1982. After watching it, I now propose that Steve Martin introduced Generation Xers to a new type of humor that included large doses of meta-performance and irony. At least I’d like to propose that’s where irony started for me.

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