The Accordion Connection

Simone says there's a popular indie rock band called the "Accordion Connection, you know, that one with all the guys on stage at once, and one of them has a drum? You know who I mean". Anyway, this is an unrelated blog of bitchin' YouTube videos.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Keep Your Power Gloves Off Her!

Okay, so this was originally going to be like an overall tribute to the golden age of pre-teen actresses (1987-1992) in popular cinema, like when Christina Ricci was adorable and Thora Birch made that movie where her best friend was a seal, but then it turned out there were so many examples on YouTube from my single most favorite film from this era, I thought I'd just devote this whole post to that film and pontificate about the meaning of it all later. And that film is? Of course, the Jenny Lewis-Fred Savage vehicle/ extended Nintendo infomercial, "The Wizard":

As a very young girl, I was obsessed with the pre-teen film career of one Miss Jenny Lewis (later of Rilo Kiley and "Rabbit Fur Coat" fame). Jenny Lewis starred in tons of rad movies, such as Disney’s take on World War II, “ A Friendship in Vienna”, and “Troop Beverly Hills” . Jenny’s characters were always really complex- they were always very smart and independent, usually pretty nonconformist, sometimes snotty or mean, and they were sometimes also actually quite vampy and sexy in the way that you can sometimes tell which girls on the playground are going to grow up to be heartbreakers. Her characters told it like it was, like it was to be a sort of gawky but sort of hot girl teetering on the verge of puberty: their parents pissed them off, boys were jerks, childhood was not idyllic, and everyone was always getting in their way. Jenny’s characters had wild hair and pouted and were self-possessed and wore those leggings that just went down to the top of your ankles. It was everything you wanted to be when you finally grew up (i.e turned 11) .It was also so exciting to be catered to as a media target-market! (note about this clip: just to catch you up on the plot, Lucas is a total dick. That's all you need to know):

Jenny hit her peak in “The Wizard”, where she played sassy pre-teen runaway Haley, who reads “Cosmo”, loves Fred Savage but then doesn’t love Fred Savage but really does love him but just doesn’t want to compromise her independence, and is the guiding force with Fred and his bro as they run across the desert to get to the International Nintendo Championship or something. I don’t even remember what happens cos I haven’t seen it in like 12 years, but I remember the impact Jenny made on my life. All I wanted was to be her! She is wily and clever, she understands Fred’s autistic brother’s massive Nintendo potential. Fred loves Jenny, too-- how could he not? Also, Haley is a great example of that “1992” pre-teen girls’ movie heroine-type, the pre-teen feminist:
Corey: It's like the Adventures of Link. He has to find Zelda, you have to find a house. Same difference!
Haley: Boy, is THAT sexist.
Corey: It's not sexist! It's... romantic.

See? God, Fred loves her, but he has to respect her and contend with her fierce sense of self! And that makes him love her even more! God, this is better than like every movie I can even think of. It tells it like it is! Haley is basically the pre-teen embodiment of all of the confused and contradictory concerns of Third Wave feminism: she calls out sexism when she sees it, but still wants to be valued as attractive ( she taunts Fred with a “ [My mom] was a showgirl. Great legs. I got her legs, what do you think?”); she loves men, but doesn’t want their love to make her weak or compromise. She tells him she doesn’t kiss boys and then like 10 seconds later she kisses him! Wow! My mom always used to rent this movie for me from Super Video whenever I was sick, and I can still quote liberally from it. Like “ Keep your Power Gloves off her!”. See? And I didn’t even look that up on IMDB. So great an impression has this movie made on me. And I’d like to think its made a real impression-- I hope there is still a little Haley the runaway in me, talking trash and being the boss and wearing stone-washed denim to perfectly compliment my back-combed bangs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tainted Lurve

So you may not know this, but a long time ago, before I decided to make like the Glenn Close character in "Fatal Attraction" and enter the glamourous and demoralizing world of book publishing, I was semi-formally trained as a moving image curator. No, really! I just remembered it today on my way to get an Egg McMuffin. I had practically completelt forgotten about it/ blocked it out. I worked at the Museum of TV and Radio, and also at a place that archived educational films, and I completely forgot all of it--for some reason, the surly teenage runaway-esque (or, more accurately, Runaways-esque) period of my life stands out in starker relief to me than the time in my life when I decided to give it all up so I could become a yuppie and afford all the Ann Taylor Loft wear I could ever desire. But what was my point? Oh, my point is, I am professionally trained in this field, so stop questioning my selections!

Now, on to the next order of business: Rihanna!

How fun is this song? Man, it's so fun I totally forgive Rihanna for doing it with Jigga and making Beyonce go all crazy and "ring the alarm" (see earlier entry). I've been looking for a nice song to replace Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" in my iPod, and I think this really works quite well. Also, if I'm not mistaken, is this a "You Got Served"-themed video? Which reminds me:

Remember this little beauty? This commercial caused all the pre-sorority type girls who appeared in the high school production of "Pipin" with me (yes, we cut the orgy scene) to try to duplicate it backstage, night after night--a real drain on anyone's nerves. But hardly as much of a drain on anyone's nerves as--THIS!:

Don't watch that clip all the way through--I was just using it for educational purposes. As I am also using this!:

Who knew that just a few short years after this video was shot, the awesome teenage goth party depicted therein would be a reality, and it would be called MisShapes? Not me, man. But for serious, this was recorded for the soundtrack to "Not Another Teen Movie", which some kid dropped out of my college to appear in (we were still technically teenagers, so it was on the up-and-up for him to appear in it). I think this is probably the first time I have ever listened to that song all the way through.

Anyway, thank you for sticking with me through this cultural voyage through the history of "Tainted Love", which was originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, which I could not find a video of, so here you go:


Friday, September 15, 2006

Communication Breakdown

Gentle reader, please forgive us our trespasses. You see, there are some things are just too big to communicate via words. Sometimes, the only appropriate medium to fully convey one's feelings is Cher.

But enough about that. So, like, I was at this gallery opening last night, and guess who walks by?

Yeah, it was David Byrne! Wow! Anyway, this all gives me an excuse to talk about Toni Basil. Yes, THAT Toni Basil, the one who did that song about Mickey, and how he was, how do you say... so fine? yeah, her. She choreographed the "Once in a lifetime" video. I think she also may have choreographed other stuff for the Talking Heads, like maybe the video for "burning down the house", and probably more that I don't know about. But BEFORE she was a big choreographer down in hollywood and BEFORE she was a pop star, little Toni Basil was a dancer in 60s beach movie "Pajama Party":

Yup, that's Toni Basil in the red bikini. Those clean cut young fellows playing various instruments are the Nooney Rickett 4 and the song they're playing so stylishly is "beach ball." That sax player - what a catch! Anyway, Toni Basil also released a single called "I'm 28" in the year 1966, the very very tail end of girl group popularity in the USA. Basically, it's about how if you're single at 28, your life is over. It's pretty amazing, actually: "I'm 28/it's getting late... what have i got to do?/my time is going/my fears are growing/my chances now are few... I don't want to end up alone..... in a ROCCCKING CHAAAAIRRR!!!" It's punk rock, man.

To sum up everything, Toni Basil is a real weirdo. I think she'd be really interesting to hang out with. I mean, if you don't believe me, here she is doing probably the most bizarre cover of "little red book" EVER:

I mean, what, exactly, is going on here? She's some sort of cave woman/ballet dancer/josephine baker? Her boyfriend is a cheetah and he broke up with her? The set is actually a preschool art project? It's anarchy! So I think I might love her.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In Jokes That Bore You (the Reader), Part II

Simone, I think you're almost there. But a little more like this:

I'm not sure that I do, Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere. I'm not sure that I do.

A return to our regularly scheduled coherent whimsy and merriment after this!

Radio Ga Ga

Oh, gaby. SENTENCE HAS BEEN CENSORED BY PUBLISHING GODS. So get over it. I think Janis Ian has something to tell you. Something about... the truth. No, I'm sorry, the Truth. Capitalized.

Do you get it?
No? Okay, maybe Cher is more your speed. Yeah, that's probably right.

Love those Bob Mackie Gowns.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Where art thou golden hot pantalones?

An open letter to Miss Beyonce Knowles:

Dearest Beyonce,
I recently flew across our great nation on the airline carrier JetBlue, which provides its customers with in-flight entertainment consisting of various cable channels, among them MTV and its sister channel VH1 (along with VH1 classic, which is a horror unto itself, but let's not get into that right now). Anyway, so apparently early in the morning, they actually show videos on these stations. Who knew, right? I mean, when in St. Barthes, it can be hard to keep track of what time it is, let alone what day. You know what I mean? Okay, so let me get to the point, 'yonce: WTF, girlfriend?! What is UP with your new song, "Ring the Alarm"? First of all, whose idea was it to use a vocorder or whatever the fuck it is you're screaming into during the chorus? Did Jay-Z put you up to this? Because you know who else uses a vocorder? Justin Timberlake, in his new song, which, might I add, is even worse than yours. Second of all, just look at yourself, B:

Girl, you are looking TORE UP. I realize that you're going for this woman-driven-to-the-edge-by-her-man-crazy-lady look or whatevs, but man. That camo print tunic/timberland bootie combination really does you no favors. And those thigh high boots and khaki trench coat... ugh. Oh, and the whole tight jersey turtleneck dress with your hair (I use the term "your" very loosely here, you aren't fooling anyone... Your extensions may be fabulous, but someday your days of harvesting the silky tresses of slovakian orphans are gonna catch up with you, girl. And by that time, my yacht will have moved on to greener ports, if you catch my drift.) piled up on top of your head is more Whitney Houston circa The Bodyguard than Brigitte Bardot circa whatever the hell she was in where she dressed like that. I mean, I guess I'm just dissapointed. There's a choice you make when you become a big ass pop star: you can either drag it up and become an immortal gay icon (see: Cher, Xtina if she can keep it up), or you can half-ass it and try to, like, "keep it real" and not wear metallic tiny shorts anymore (see: the eternally fat and pregnant britney spears). And you know what? I don't want to handle your truth. I want my pop stars shiny and enormously coiffeured and dancing like they fake mean it. Not slamming themselves against the wall in some pathetic pantomine of emotion. Is that so much to ask? Anyway, maybe what you really need is some inspiration. A real performer to watch, and perhaps learn from. That person is Tina Turner:

Only, Jay-Z better not lay a finger on you. I'll kill him.

Okay, TTFN! KIT! Love ya! xoxo Simone

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Guilty Pleasures Saturday

So Simone just flew across the country on the ever-delightful Jet Blue, and when she got home, she sent me the following video which she watched on their on-air video channel or whatever, with a note about how she thought I probably would have been really into it as a thirteen year old.

Uh, the truth? Is that I am actually really into this video like RIGHT NOW. I'm sure at 13, I would have been too busy being obsessed with my own punk purism to get the really real (though semi-guilty pleasurable) merits of this video, as well as the really important feminist message for little girls. Yeah, I'm about to defend Evanescence. Okay, fuck you, just read the goddamned blog, asshole.

Evanescence continually fascinates me because it's a woman trying to express herself through nu metal-- sort of Fiona Apple meets Staind or whatever--and I think she does a really great job writing songs about specifically feminine kinds of angst and respecting yourself in a medium that is usually used to write songs about how your girlfriend is an evil slutty bitch (see also: any girls successfully working within emo)and I give Amy Lee a ton of credit for that. You know, okay, so it's not Sleater-Kinney, but you know what? Not only can not everything be Sleater-Kinney, but also, I think Sleater-Kinney and the like only reach a very specific demographic, and girls outside that demographic need strong women role models probably the most (as most Sleater-Kinney fans are probably raised by NPR-listening types who exposed them to feminism to some degree beforehand)! They carry Evanescence records in Wal-Mart, and what else even comparable to this is being carried in Wal-Mart, you know? Madonna? I mean, probably Xtina. I actually think this is way better than Fiona Apple, also--Fiona (okay, I know that's a dated reference, but I don't know who the sensitive singer-songwriter for young girls is right now)(wait, is it actually Amy Lee???)tends to act all hurt and vulnerable, whereas Amy Lee just wants you to stop drunk-dialing her and treat her like a real woman, because she's worth it, dammit. I think the lyrical content here is actually similar to classic "tough chick" country music (see: "Fist City"-era Loretta Lynn), and that's part of what makes it so successful. We're seeing a genre transform here, people!

And, personally? I just like Amy Lee. I like her schtick--I myself am often-times a single velvet corset-top away from this look--and I like that she not only soldiered on after her primary songwriting partner left the band after their first album, but, if I can judge from this song, they actually sound a lot better ( I liked the idea of Evanescence on their first record, but I couldn't actually, like, bear to listen to them, whereas I am listening to this song right now as I blog about it!) I should also note here that I really like Meatloaf, also, if you are having a hard time understanding my love of this stuff. The Wagnerian pomp! The mini-operatic structure! Amy Lee is like the girl vocalist from "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", only now she plays a harpsichord and she's coming to beat your ass!

The wolves are also a nice touch--very Angela Carter "The Sadeian Woman" sort of dark-woman-power, right? Go teach that WB pretty boy at the other end of the table a lesson he won't soon forget, Amy!

But, okay, I said "guilty pleasure", and I guess that wasn't really guilty at all--I'm pretty proud of my love for Evanescence, and I am going to make sure to broadcast it the next time I hear indie rock boys talking about how Amy Lee is fat (it happens far more often than you'd think). But anyway, here's the really guilty pleasure in this "Guilty Pleasures Saturday"--a pleasure guilty enough to last you the whole weekend:

I love it, I hate it, you're allowed to stop being friends with me over it (not you, Simone!). I used to do ballet when I was young--several nights a week at this really intense dance studio downtown run by this insane German guy who would always call everyone "fatty". The studio closed down amidst allegations that the guy had been getting some of the male students involved in a sex cult or something, and by the time things got settled, I had hit puberty and was obviously not going to grow any taller and I had to kiss my ballet dreams goodbye. But I look at the dancing in this video--which is so amazing, I had to go through like ten postings to find one with resolution this high--and I just wonder, what if, you know? I am such a sucker for synchronized umbrella dancing, and also I really liek the part where all the dancers are clustered around the coffin--reminds me of "Cats". I also like the art direction--the detailing on all of the dancers' costumes is nice, as is the "Haunted Mansion"-style facility where this all goes down. Now, if only all this cheesy goth goodness weren't in support of My Chemical Romace. Ugh. What is that guy, a carnival barker or something, with all that waving and gesticulating? Put your hands down, dude. Put your hands down or Amy Lee will come beat your ass!