Monday, January 31, 2011

Showbiz Twinz

Twins! In show business! A classic combination!

Marge and Mary Ann Ganser gave The Shangri-Las twin power.

Cherie and Marie Currie had a brief run after The Runaways broke up. Cherie is now a chainsaw artist. That rocks.

Tegan and Sara - Canadian art rockers. And twins.

Kim and Kelley Deal brought us one of the strangest hit songs ever. Still kicking the jams in The Breeders. Thank you, Dayton!

Jenny Lewis is enhanced by The Watson Twins. This Sarah Silverman clip reminds me uncomfortably of that Hee Haw lunchbox I had to use in third grade because my mom waited too long to take me lunchbox shopping that year. It wasn't an ironic lunchbox choice, merely mortifying.

The Cocteau Twins are not twins, but it's my blog and I get to include them anyway.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Half-ass TV Recap: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion Part 1

The Real Housewives of Beverly HillsI couldn't help noticing that blogs that post TV recaps tend to get a lot of traffic from fans of the show. With that in mind, allow me to introduce my own concept, thought of right here in the Captive Wild Woman think-tank (family room alongside the wall of my nice thumpy-disco neighbors): Half-ass TV Recap. I don't have time to watch much TV or to even pay attention to most of what I watch (unless it's "The Wire" or some such thing). I will watch a disaster show like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because I want to see what happened to former childhood star Kim Richards, but I don't relish the moment. In fact, I tend to feel suicidal afterwards. Therefore: some random thoughts and feelings as felt by me, suicidal reality-show watcher on last night's Reunion show, Part 1. For those of you who avoided this reality wreck, I commend you.

The Beverly Hills housewives are seated in a semi-circle around smarmy host and interviewer Andy Cohen in the fabulous Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. I think briefly about taking notes or making screen grabs (consisting of me taking a photo of my analog TV screen) but then decide, "Fuck it. It's just this stupid show." I am a committed half-ass. So committed, I didn't start recapping until the post-season reunion show. You're welcome.

Andy Cohen is the last person on earth you want to interview you. I don't care if you're a shallow, mean-spirited rich lady wearing unflattering shiny clothes and giant sparkly earrings that look like chandeliers for a monkey-house. There must be some clause in their contracts forbidding them from calling him a putz as he pelts them with rude questions about their looks, their net worth and their general fucked-upness, all disguised as "America wants to know" email questions. This guy is so oily he should be liquefied and shot into Taylor's forehead for never-ending smoothness.

He starts off asking about their terrible plastic surgery and some of the housewives chime in that they've only had injections and anti-aging agents pumped into their faces. The others sit very still and try not to call attention to themselves, like hamsters in the wild. Some reader wants to know if Taylor will ever remove her lip implant because it's so friggin' big. Taylor defends her implant, saying she's not going to have surgery to please some people. She says Internet commenters have written that her mouth is too big so maybe she should have surgery on that as well. Kyle cackles, "Mouth reduction for you!" and they laugh and laugh. Oh Kyle, you're such a good friend.

There's a question about the price of milk. Kyle and Kim seem to know the most about that, guessing $3.49 for a gallon and less if you shop at Costco. The other housewives look askance and murmur, "Costco? Whatever are you talking about?"

Taylor is asked if it was worth it to throw a $60,000 birthday party for her four-year-old. Taylor looks unsure. "I think so. The guests had a good time...?" she offers. The other housewives sit very, very still except for Lisa who brings up Pin The Tail On The Donkey and how her kids were brought up differently. I love competitive parenting, don't you? It's the best.

Andy points out that Lisa seems jealous of Kyle's new friendship with Taylor. Lisa is all like, "Well, I never! They're just annoying together." As if to demonstrate, Kyle and Taylor link fingers like sixth-graders going steady. Kyle starts calling Lisa "Jealous! Jelly beans! Peanut butter and jelly sandwich!" Lisa rolls her eyes, as do we all. All the housewives imitate them by pairing off and nuzzling one another. It's a botox love-in extraordinaire!

Then there's a lightning-rod focus on Camille's most-hated status in America as dipshit Andy reads off the words describing her among the press and tortured TV-watchers across the country. I'm cheating because I'm using The Vulture's very funny recap here to recall his list of evil traits. Camille, throughout the season admittedly appeared as a creepy, insecure sociopath by being: conniving, passive-aggressive, catty, jealous, cruel, hypocritical, self-absorbed, manipulative, fake, insincere, delusional. Andy smiles as he continues reading. Camille, who was quite gracious on this episode, says it hurts and that people write anything at the computer, but the edit was purposefully made to make her look like that and she's not really such a horror-show.

During the Camille grilling, the camera cuts back numerous times to Kyle in close-up, smirking, looking smug. But when Camille has to re-live her break-up with her Kelsey, Kyle is shown carefully rearranging her face into what appears to be sympathy. Now who has the "bitch-edit"? Way to turn on a dime, Bravo producers.

I'll say this: The camera doesn't lie BUT editing does. I have no doubt that Camille gave the producers plenty of fodder to work with, but having worked with editors, I can attest that the cutting of the footage is everything. It's fairly easy to make a bitchy person look even MORE bitchy, by simply not showing the cause of the bitchiness. I worked on a film that did just that. Just one small additional piece of footage with one sentence of explanatory dialogue changed the entire course of a filmed conversation and gave the bitchy lady in the film a good reason for being so obnoxious in that particular scene. It gave her some humanity at least, even though she came across as a difficult person. You could kind of understand where she was coming from, just from that one extra sentence. Take out the sentence and she was insufferable. Put it back in and she's a complex human: like magic!

So, if Camille claims she got the bitch edit, I can give her the benefit of the doubt. Besides, Kelsey Grammer is just so disgusting. She deserves a big fat settlement just for having her humiliating breakup filmed for the world to see. Jesus. What is wrong with us? I gotta stagger out into the cold gray world and have a moment...

I'm back! So Camille admits she might have been difficult and insecure because Kelsey wasn't calling her all the time and perhaps she thought something was amiss when he moved 3,000 miles away for a year and encouraged her to stay in Los Angeles and star in a reality show known for humiliating its subjects. Perhaps... There's mention of Camille's soft-porn past and how the housewives were all watching it in a limo after a disastrous dinner-party at her house. There was argument back and forth about who was the bigger skank, Camille or Faye Resnick, who posed for Playboy. The argument was not resolved.

Then there was a snit-fit between Taylor and Kim over a dinner-party conversation about the mysterious but epic fight between Camille and Kyle. Look, Taylor, don't torment my beloved Kim Richards, you would-be sister-stealing Heather! Why would you pick a fight with a formerly decent child star? The former child star, even one who probably suffers from acute anxiety disorder, through poise and an innate sense of drama, will always look better. Just give it up. But Taylor's too grotesquely un-self aware to see how this is playing out. By sitting quietly, unruffled, while asking Taylor, "What did you mean when you said you were going to go 'Oklahoma on my ass'--you who run a charity for domestic abuse victims--you were quick to go there," Kim ends up looking like a halfway decent person--not easy on this show. "Were you going to take me out in the back and beat me among the dumpsters?" she continues, making Taylor laugh and pish-posh it away with a "I was JOKING!" But Kim will not be deterred. She starred in Tuff Turf for pity's sake. She knows Taylor's type. "I just thought it was ODD, for someone of your background to get so violent like that." "But I didn't!" Taylor almost squeals. Ha ha! So enjoyable.

The citizens of Oklahoma grumble and start writing emails immediately.

Then Taylor brings up Kim's supposed alcoholism, even though the entire cast drank its way through multiple parties that would have consisted of discussions of shoe shopping without the much-needed cattiness provided by cast and crew. I'm telling you: a normal person would have to drink to get through this season. I don't get all the shocked accusations. Don't most families in America have 2-3 alcoholics in them? Am I projecting? Isn't everyone in Beverly Hills on something? Kim: star in a Lifetime movie about a victim of bullying. It will be great.

Camille and Kyle have it out (AGAIN) about their New York City fight, which was never caught on camera and so consists of "She said She said" accusations. All of which are boring me, so I won't go into it. Something about how no one would care about Camille if it weren't for Kelsey and how Kyle never said that, and she's a liar and she's a victim and she's a phony and she's a bully and "bully" is a (*finger quotes*) "buzz word of the moment" and "No--you BULLY me," and so on. At this point I realize this is only Part 1. No freaking way! I have to watch on Tuesday for the exciting conclusion. You 12 readers better tune in for the half-ass recap.

There's an obligatory montage of Adrienne and long-suffering Paul bickering over clothes and food. Andy calls her out on her obvious disdain of her husband, which makes me like him for a millisecond. But I also like Adrienne, who seems hard-working and decent. She never got in the middle of a stupid fight like the others and she seems to understand that Kim needs support.

Then there's more of Taylor who is accused of stirring the pot of the off-screen fight that never made sense but took up an entire television season (and beyond) to resolve. There's back-and-forth of I didn't stir the pot, I think you did, No I never did. Andy puts in his two cents: I think you stirred the pot. I agree with him.

Perhaps next week there'll be some resolution for sisters Kim and Kyle who apparently aren't speaking to each other after the grand finale blow-up in the limo last week. That was uncomfortable to witness to say the least and never should have been on TV. Well, none of it should, except for maybe Lisa's little dog, Jiggy. Because he was going bald, proving that no matter how wealthy you are, you can still lose your hair, dignity and ass when someone goes Oklahoma on it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Toys that poop

I have got to direct some traffic to this blog. My numbers are plummeting in the clogged sea of information that is the Internet. It's like that plastic island the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean--who will find my tiny bottle-cap of a site in all that non-biodegradable garbage? So while I work on my brilliant plan for Internet domination, here are toys that poop. And pee. Enjoy, and ignore the stink of desperation.

Goliath Games makes pooping a competitive sport. You win by collecting doggie's doo. Good self-esteem builder.

Even better in German - Kackel Dackel.

Leave it to Barbie to focus on the worst aspect of pet ownership: body waste. Tanner eats and shits the same substances. Brilliant, Mattel, brilliant!

Uh-oh, peeing puppies. With the death of newspapers, how will we train them now?

Miko's thirsty and you get to litter-box train her. It's great being a girl!

Hours of fun.

Magic Potty Baby. It certainly seems magical how a toilet works (hey, great idea for a toy), but this doll focuses on other kinds of inner workings.

I'm really sorry about this one. I need the links but my soul has definitely entered a dark place of no return. Forgive me.

Don't forget farting! It's muy importante!

Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow would like to step in now and try to class up this joint. Just add milk pellets.

Lest we forget: saliva.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bobby Badfingers - Professional Snappist

Have a finger-snappin' day, the Bobby Badfingers way.


Get folky! Get down!

Worldwide fame is only a finger snap away.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bugging Out - Insects get their own reality show

The Science Channel has produced a new reality show called "Bugging Out" featuring the country's largest insectary and its proprietor, Ken.

Why am I interested? Bugs are not my favorite creatures. I'm more of a mammal/bird person, but this show takes place in my home-town of Concord, California and let me tell you: there aren't a lot of reality shows being filmed in Concord. So watching Ken and his wife, Georgi search for scorpions along Contra Costa County hillsides is pretty interesting to me. Plus, let's face it: insects will one day rule the world. Let's give them the media attention they deserve.

Technically my home-town is San Francisco, but I grew up in Concord and just these short clips evoke so much of my upbringing: long hair, rocker t-shirts, tattoos, laid-back discussions about insect collecting. If they have an episode where the bug-shop crew drives up to Mt. Diablo for a company barbecue, I'm good. That's all you need to know about Concord.

Ken the Bug Guy's Web site. The show is on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. or you can get it On Demand if you're so lucky.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where the heck are all these free MP3s I keep hearing about?

I don't have time to look for free MP3s--defined as downloadable music that is free and clear and legally obtained from the struggling musicians who make it. My ethical make-up gives me automatic guilt whenever I even consider "stealing" music from sites that make it available: you know who you are. I admit to downloading some very obscure albums that are completely out of print and impossible to find, but even those I completely stumbled upon accidentally while linking around the Net (a practice that has landed me in many unusual Internet places over the years).

So how to find new music? I've tried Pandora and other similar services over the years. I'm glad they exist because it's nice to sit at the computer and have some humanly inspired algorithm figure out what I might like to hear. But after about 20 minutes, I get tired of this narrow musical approach. I miss the days of college radio dj-ing where seemingly everything independently produced was available to pick and choose from according to my whims, curiosity or desperation when I ran out of ideas during the last hour of my shift. What a treasure trove that "recommended for heavy rotation" record shelf was every week.

At home, we have an extensive CD (and LP) collection but it's frozen in time up to the 90s, when we pretty much stopped buying CDs. This was a joint decision involving lack of funds, lots of moves across cities and states, and general disgust with the music industry for the past 20 years. Still, we never obtained MP3 players due to an aversion to ear buds and disappointment with the quality of sound that the majority of MP3s make when amplified. Kids, it's true; they're tinnier than a CD, which is darn tinny to begin with.

So lately I've been collaborating with some locals who have done a huge amount of work gathering free MP3s on their music sites. These song selections have been culled by a variety of musicians and music lovers for your listening pleasure. And the music-makers have all granted permission to download them for free, in the hope that you'll like discovering a new band and perhaps purchase some of their music. You never know.

Here's a list of MP3 sites with new and old music to stream or download. It is the dawning of the digital age of Aquarius:

Superfan 2011 - Are you a superfan? Me too! A new download every day with a helpful blurb which is doubly helpful since the selection is super eclectic.
Superfan 2010 - 365 days of downloads--a plethora of riches.
Superfan 2009 - I don't even remember 2009. Perhaps this site will help.
You may "friend" Superfan Musiclover on Facebook for your daily downloads. I really think you should. Seriously, if you read this site at all, you might as well friend that site, hint, hint.

MP3 Jackpot features weekly musical winners, like a game show where no one loses.

Music2Eleven! has good taste that tastes good. Examples: Sigur Rós - Olsen Olsen and Raveonettes - Aly, Walk With Me.
Music2ten - 365 downloads from 2010. Geez, there's gotta be something in there you'll like.

PublicDomain2ten showcases excellent public-domain classics from the golden era of jazz, blues and Americana. That's right--scratchy old music that started it all: Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington, Sam Butler, Scott Joplin. I don't even know where to find most of this stuff otherwise. This is an essential music site for historians and old-timey music fanatics.

Din2ten is a mass collection of MP3s picked by Eric Din, who plays guitar and sings in The Uptones. He's been a professional musician since before the Internet. We must listen to him.

And if you want to stream and find music by genre, go to MP34U and pick a channel. It'll grab an entire selection of music from various sites for your enjoyment and edification. I'm listening to the "78s" channel as I type this. Leadbelly's Where Did You Sleep Last Night? is scritchy-scratching its way out of my computer speakers, reminding me that everything old is new again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shabazz Palaces - Belhaven Meridian

Remember Butterfly from Digable Planets? Shabazz Palaces is his current and rather enigmatic Seattle-based project. I love one-shot videos and this one's arty take is by director Kahlil Joseph.

I have the same problem with hip-hop as I have listening to poetry--the flow of words tends to sound rhythmic to my ears and I have trouble discerning the meaning. Not always--sometimes lyrics really grab me, just generally. Oh well--one-shot video, people! Not easy to pull off. And I like this black & white look too. Who knows if it's actual film or doctored digital? Back in 2009, cinematographers were still using film occasionally.

Look, Tide is experiencing the Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat). I'm all for bands making a livable wage with their music, but sorry marketers, this particular pop-culture appropriation makes me want to stay grubby.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Blog!

It's the five-year, 30-day anniversary of the blog! In celebration, I'll commence with a third-grade writing assignment that I helped facilitate at Jackson's school today. The kids are learning to use adjectives in their writing, especially focusing on their five senses to describe the winter season. I'll alter the assignment to reflect my feelings about Captive Wild Woman, the blog, on this wintry day. I will highlight the adjectives in hopes of improving my writing--the goal of the blog, by the way, was to improve my writing. And to get the attention I crave.

Hearing: I remember the first day I figured out how to embed a music video in a post. I copied another blog's bizarre javascript code and used that with YouTube videos for half a year before realizing I just had to click the "embed" button on the video page to get the proper copy-&-paste code. I never said I was brilliant. Still, that first day was an exciting one for my ears, because now, despite copyright infringement issues, I can listen to almost every awesome and horrible song I've ever heard in my entire life, and post it here for your ears as well. What power! It's like being a DJ but with home-style snacks and fresh air. Plus fuzzy slippers. This is a music geek's dream, to hear anything at all at any time and to relish the aural possibilities of commenting on it for others to experience. I have an elaborate system of embedding streaming music as well, but it involves a Tumblr site and more weird-ass code and patience, and I won't go into it here. Still, I can stream music, man!

Sight: I think it's obvious that blogs are some of the ultimate visual mediums of our time. Despite creeping irrelevance in the wake of Facebook and whatever the future holds in today's ethereal Internet realm, blogs continue to putter forth as long as there's an abundance of obsessive attention-starved oddballs who need to express themselves by posting videos of Sailor Moon theme songs from Season 4 and dogs jumping on trampolines. Any publishing tool that can easily line up jpegs, animated gifs, videos (both home-made and public), plus comics, photos, art work and so on, will be around for us to cherish and comment on, thanks to the forward-thinking Blogger founders and our benevolent corporate overlord, Google. (*waving obsequiously* "Hellooo Google! Thank you!")

Touch: You can't touch a blog. (Fail!) But a blog can touch you (whoo). Seriously, sometimes people start blogs to get through really difficult times in their lives or to deal with life-altering events, such as chronic illness, severe writer's block, or civil rights. The ability to get your message "out there" quickly and for so little cost (once you're plunked in front of an Internet-ready computer), is essential. There's also a lot of pop-culture garbage to wade through. I like well-written garbage, don't you?

Smell: If you spend too much time on the computer and don't take care of personal hygiene issues, you will smell. So get up and walk around once in a while, and make it over to the shower while you're at it. I'll try and do the same.

Taste: Computers taste terrible, but here's a nostalgic food blog of questionable taste to whet your appetite.

Consequently, one of my first posts was about God, or the lack thereof. Aim high! I always say. To be honest, I think my very first post was about "John & Kate Plus 8" but I accidentally deleted it when I was fooling around with the buttons on the blog dashboard. And so ends our anniversary reflection.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Bad Writing - the trailer

Bad Writing coming to a theater in a major city near you, or sitting in a pile on my desk right now.

Blurb: Bad Writing is a documentary about a wannabe poet who sets off on a quest for answers about writing -- bad writing, good writing, and the process in between. What he learns from some leading figures in the literary world will inspire anyone who has ever dreamt of creating art.

Featuring interviews with David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Nick Flynn, Steve Almond... (continued on the official site).

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year - Jellyfish are Rad

It's 2011 and what's more celebratory than a bunch of jellyfish floating around at the Mystic Aquarium in historic Mystic, CT? Give up? Nothing! Nothing is more festive than that. We were in New England all last week, landing just a few hours shy of a massive blizzard that paralyzed the Eastern Seaboard and much of the southern states as well. When flying in the dead of winter, be sure to time your trip between flu season and historic storms.

We also had luck coming back, managing to have a scheduled flight that fell on the day when all the airlines seemed to have caught up with their cancelled flights. One guy at our gate had been trying to return to California for five days. That is a lesson in patience, I guess. I felt for New York City, which doesn't run too smoothly under several feet of snow dump. In our case, we were not delighted with excessive wind-chill factors, but once that died down, the days were bright and beautiful. Much sledding and snowball fighting ensued.

Now we're back in cold, gray, wet California--hooray! The secret of California winters is: it's a basically a monsoon season. People forget that during the drought years. It looks like we're on schedule for regular winter dampness and gloominess. That is good. Check out these jellyfish. The Mystic Aquarium has some fabulous outdoor exhibits too, full of Beluga whales, penguins and California sea lions. I hope the sea lions aren't too homesick.

I find it impossible to watch jellyfish, no matter how beautiful, primitive, and ethereal, and not think of SpongeBob Squarepants. Thanks, pop culture and cable TV!