Month: February 2014

Ninety 90’s Songs: Please Don’t Go… On and on and on.

Some things die. Well all things, really, but that’s a bit darker than I’d like to explore today. What I really mean is that time passes and leaves things in history. Sometimes those things are found and brought back. When it’s a treasure that’s found, we call it an archaeological discovery. When it’s trash, we call it recycling. When it’s someone that comes back from the dead, we call it a zombie. In music, there are plenty of zombies. In the music biz, it’s called a cover, and it’s not always a good thing.
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#55 “Please Don’t Go” by Double You. Originally “Please Don’t Go” was a late Disco ballad by KC and the Sunshine Band, and a really decent song for the time. It was released in 1979 and wound up becoming the first number one hit of the 1980’s. Then disco died, and KC got stuck doing renditions of his disco hits for the rest of his life. Flash forward to 1992, when Italian duo Double You rediscovered this hit (or maybe it just took that long for the Italian music scene to get around to disco) and made it their own as a Eurodance track.

Like other Eurodance tracks, this one features repetitive, repetitive, repetitive beats and lyrics. It’s quite repetitive. If you listen you’ll notice the repetitive repetition. Repeatedly.  Several times and over and over again.

Obviously, this translates well to the dance floor when it doesn’t matter what the song is as long as you can continue convulsing to the bass line while trying pick up hook ups, but for casual listening this song can be… repetitive.  Okay, I’m done. But seriously, the song was originally a slower ballad, and you didn’t need as many lyrics to fill up a three-minute time slot. But when you speed up the rhythm, you’ll need an awful lot of “please don’t go”s because by the sixth time you sing it, people will be ready to go.

Still, the song did quite well and was just one single among many that featured Double You’s cover versions of songs. To this day, Double You still chugs along, releasing and re-releasing their own hits and this hits of others that they have likely rearranged in the creative way that only they can do (i.e. enough to sell records). I was surprised to find that there actually exists a video which features all the standard tropes of early 90’s dance music. Pretty girls who aren’t doing anything other than flipping around their hair and lithe limbs, frenetic camera work that could induce seizures, and of course the infamous transition to monotone colors and black and white film. Oh, you 90’s…

Sadly, the video features the extended version of the song. This is sad because it means there’s an awful lot of… repetition. Please don’t go and play it, unless you can handle it.

Sex and the City Re-watch Recap: The Man, the Myth, the Viagra

Carrie and Big are enjoying their rehash relationship, which includes Italian food where Big is well known (because he’s Italian?). Carrie is shocked when he officially calls her his girlfriend.

Big then gets roped into singing karaoke, and Carrie falls more in love, because mediocre singing really must turn her on.

Across town, Miranda is on a date at a comedy club. Everything within her that cries out for women’s rights is appalled at the crude comedian. She is goaded into answering her date ‘s phone while he is away. It’s just his wife calling. Not knowing what is worse, being on a date with a lying married man or being embarrassed in front of the crude comedian, she storms out.

Charlotte tries to make it all better the next day by telling a fairy tale about a married man who leaves his wife for another woman and lives happily ever after. Miranda is too jaded from the night before to fall for it. Just when we are led to believe that Charlotte had no idea what she’s talking about, she uses Carrie and Big as an example for magical relationship happenings.

Samantha, while enjoying a post work Cosmo is hit on by an older man. An old man. After initial skepticism, Samantha winds up considering a geriatric fling. Carrie is shocked when Samantha guesses his age is 72. Whoa.

Later on, we get to see shitty friend Carrie again. She has ditched Miranda at a bar for a veal dinner at Big ‘s. To her credit she is trying to convince him to hang out with her friends, but Miranda isn’t having any of it. Instead, she has another glass of wine and some flirting with an annoying bartender named Steve. Even he has to guess if Miranda is a lesbian or not.
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This is how a long ass and rather permanent chapter of this show begins.

So they hook up.

And a hook up is all Miranda thinks it is, because what else would you do with a bartender?

Samantha is enjoying a date with her senior sire. He is playing hide and seek with expensive jewelry during dinner because he wants to play hide and seek with something else later. His maid has clearly seen it all before, and she is more his age, but a rich guy like him would never pursue the help.
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He is rather forward later, and Samantha decides to give him and his Viagra a chance. Before it wears off. Unfortunately, once what he is wearing is off, she sees his old man booty and flees the scene.

Back to Miranda, she has a visitor. Her hook up. She doesn’t even remember his name. Like a puppy dog, he says he likes her and wants a date. She tries to wiggle her way out of it, but ultimately can’t turn him down.

Carrie arrives at Big’s place to escort him to the aforementioned night out with her friends. He decides to play the wimp out card and tells her he wants to stay home.

She gets to a club called Denial, which is what she’s in. Even Miranda’s date comes, but not without Miranda demeaning his role merely as a hookup instead of a potential mate. He calls her out on it, but she turns him away. She’s such a bitch about it and goes back to the table ready to show her hatred for all mankind. Carrie is about to break down and admit the truth until ever optimist Charlotte spots Big coming into Denial with the rest of them.

Miranda chases Steve down and decides that maybe there is more to a bartender than just a one night stand.
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And Carrie finally feels like she a Big are a real thing.

After the trials of last episode between Carrie and Big, it’s nice to see them escalate a bit. Charlotte is useless in this episode except for her words of hope, so at least she is in character. Samantha’s escapade with grandpa is funny, even if it is humorous at the expense of older people everywhere. And, finally, Miranda’s man-hating ways are confronted by a man who genuinely seems to like her. Not to mention we are introduced to a pretty significant guy.

All in all, a good episode with some funny bits. It’s heavy on the plot, a bit lighter on theme, but it’s important in the grand scheme of things for the things it sets up for the future.

10 Years Without Sex… and the City.

I was going over some notes last night in preparation for this post. I wanted to double check dates and details and such, so I went to a Panera Bread where I could have a bite to eat and use their wi-fi.  While I was there, I noticed a group of young people, no older than their teens or early twenties. It was two girls and a gay friend. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but every so often a stray word was audible and I got the idea that they were discussing being young, single, relationships, being a girl, being gay, all that jazz. It was conversation that was so reminiscent of the diner talk from Sex and the City.

Ten years ago, today, the series finale of Sex and the City aired, “An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux”. I remember on the Today Show that morning hearing Anne Curry discussing her plans to invite her friends over, have a few cosmopolitans, and say goodbye to the girls.
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So what has the ten years since been like since our affair with NYC and those characters ended? Well, we did get two films out of the franchise, and lackluster ones at that. We also have had several TV shows take off since then. Like ships in the night Sex and the City passed by another female dominated series that rode on the coat tails of what HBO established, Desperate Housewives. It brought to network television an ensemble that almost rivaled Carrie and the gals in terms of personality.

We’ve even gotten a couple of spin offs, like Lipstick Jungle and The Carrie Diaries, the latter of which has achieved a modicum of success. So what effect has Sex and the City’s absence had?

Many people speak fondly of their time with Sex and the City, like it was a phase they were glad to have, but gladly passed through. Others hold to the show’s legacy tightly as if fearing that mere memory of the series with tarnish its spectacle. Regardless, the show is still relevant today in syndication, even if it’s not as shocking as it used to be, aside from the nudity. The current generation is growing up with mothers, older sisters, and even brothers who watched the show over the past decade. The show isn’t cutting edge in its cultural relevance, but there is a strong undercurrent that the it drives.

Everyone remembers Sex and the City. Everyone remembers the spoofs. Now young girls and, as Samantha put it, sexually confused boys everywhere couldn’t imagine a Friday night would be complete without gossip and complaining about what it is like to date or be single in whatever city, town, or metropolis they live in. Ten years ago I was just a teenager, closeted, sexually inexperienced, but I still could understand the sense of life and excitement that Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha had.
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Whether it’s your next fling, your next boyfriend or husband, your next best friend, or your next pair of Jimmy Choo shoes,  there’s always something new around the corner if you go out and find it like they did. Maybe in the next ten years we will get another show that pushes limits, introduces us to larger than life characters, and takes on unforgettable adventures. Until then I still have my DVDs.

Until they wear out.

And please pardon me for not doing the series justice and reviewing or recapping the finale on it’s decade anniversary, but I am in the process of doing an episode by episode recap that is currently part way through season 2. I may poke fun, I may criticize some of the choices and characters, but I will always enjoy my viewings of Sex and the City, no matter what Carrie wears or who Samantha screws.
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Ninety 90’s Songs: Retro Brit Spice Girls Go Wild

Girl Groups are one of the easiest things to market in the music business, even moreso than Boy Bands. Guys get to look at attractive girls while they secretly enjoy the tunes, while women young and old have role models or icons in pop culture to help give them senses of identity. The legendary Spice Girls were no different. The biggest British invasion of the US since the War of 1812 and The Beatles, the Spice Girls swept America up in a tide of pop-feminism and S&M influenced male disempowerment.

#56 “Say You’ll Be There” by The Spice Girls. Coming off of their debut single “Wannabe” from album “Spice” in 1996, this track proved the Spice Girls were no one hit wonder. While they were often compared to compatriots The Beatles, their legacy came up short in the end. At the time of this song’s release, you wouldn’t have been able to predict that. American teenage girls were ravaging the nation with a sense of power that they could be who they wanted, wear their hair in funny shapes, and in the spirit of the song, tell boys they just wanted to be friends.
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The video for “Say You’ll Be There” was much lauded, won some awards, but the track itself acquired some tepid reviews amongst the throngs of hyped up praise.  Each Spice Gal performs this song under a pseudonym, which allows them to commit crimes of S&M violence against hapless males in the desert using their Sci-Fi-influenced weaponry and martial arts skills. It’s good fun (if you’re into that sort of thing, no judgement…) and you even get a bit of Stevie Wonder-esque harmonica and R&B groove.

It’s this last bit that garnered criticism. While I personally love a bit of British Motown and Blue Eyed Soul-inspired groove from the UK, the Spice Girls washed ashore the States against a prevailing trend of R&B and growing Hip Hop influences. Their attempt at funk in this song was seen as a cop out and a street-cred grab to hitch onto that genre’s momentum.

The Spice Girls’ flame burned out, only to be rekindled here and their later on in film with “Spice World” and later reunitings. For better or worse, they are seen as a treasure by some in the UK (mostly in the music biz, I’d guess). Their legendary beginnings, including an alleged clandestine operation to steal their own materials and tapes before being enslaved by greedy managers and a draconian contract create a mythic background for a band that couldn’t wind up standing the test of time. Their unique personas stay with us, even if their pop beats remain in the 90’s, but is that really the worst way for their story to end?

Sex and the City Re-watch Recap: The Chicken Dance

Miranda has had her apartment professionally decorated because she is desperately nervous about having an email man friend, and possibly more, stay as her house guest. The designer has a thing for matching furniture with tacky dancing frogs.
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Carrie is also inducted as a house guest by Big through the ritual of being given a spare tooth brush. Big may be back in the picture, but mayhaps things will be better?

Back at Miranda’s place, Jeremy has arrived along with dating fatigue. As Miranda’s eyes gleam with hope of a blissful future with him, she sees his eyes light up when her interior designer arrives with one last piece of furniture.
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Hoping to shut down this unplanned and unfair romance before it blossoms, Miranda mentions their dinner plans, but Jeremy is smitten and invites the designer. Miranda spends the entire evening watching a man slip through her fingers with no way to stop it.

A week later, Miranda is throwing him a going away party, because if you let a cute single guy you like stay with you, but he won’t date you, then he needs to get the hell out. Which Jeremy does, and with a fiancee to boot. Miranda’s decorator.

Ice, Miranda says, we need more ice. Presumably to pack around her heart.

As Miranda shares her woes and the girls discuss the bollocks that is love at first sight. Samantha escorts a guy up to Miranda’s party because she believes in knowing who you’ll hook up with at first sight.
Carrie consults Big about love at first sight. She always calls him when she needs a more cynical view on things. Big just sees a chance for sex, which is the same to him as romance.

Okay.
There’s another 4th wall-breaking interview. I have seriously lost track of how many there are in the second season. I thought they were done.  I was wrong. This may be the last one.

For whatever reason, Carrie has been asked by the bride to be to write a poem to recite at the wedding. How tacky. What else is tacky? Samantha’s hook up from the other night was a rerun whom she remembers because when he climaxes he screams, “tug my hair”. Yep, she’s starting to make second rounds on the men of Manhattan.
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Despite her disgust at Samantha’s escapades, Charlotte is distracted by her role as a bridesmaid and her chance to shine with a sexy black dress she got to choose on her own.
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Nothing like a wedding to make singles go crazy.

Crazy is also what Big thinks of Carrie’s poem. I rather like the rhymes he composes, and he surprises everyone, including Carrie and myself by agreeing to attend the wedding with her. Carrie has high hopes about him being there with him which begin to go sour when he opts out of signing Carrie’s card.

We also miss out on a chance to learn his actual name. Drat.

Upon arrival at the wedding, the girls are immediately frustrated. Miranda ditches her post at the guest book, and Samantha makes a beeline for the bar because she runs into her rerun. Charlotte’s the only happy one, because she gets to wear a sexy dress walk down the aisle with a cute groomsman.

In a flash, it’s time for the reception, the fun, and Carrie’s poem. As Carrie prepares to bare her heart in front of people, the only one who matters to her, Big, steps out to take a call. Ouch.

The girls are all pretty pissy by now, except for Charlotte, but more on her in a bit.  Carrie’s getting fed up with Big evading involvement with her all day and Samantha isn’t pissy as much as pissed. She’s having a few drinks to dull out the sensation that’s she’s slept with every man in existence. Miranda is saddled with yet another mundane wedding duty: packing up wedding gifts. Her’s is extra heavy and spiteful. She’s regifting the tacky dancing frogs.

I love a good running joke.

All the while, Charlotte had been hitting it off with her aisle escort. While prepping the honeymoon suite they wind up having a roll in the rose petals. Then Charlotte meets the guy’s parents. While she’s convinced that she’s in the express lane to get married, her escort’s dad turns out to be a frisky fellow. When Charlotte tries to explain that she got felt up, she winds up being labeled slutty because of her dress and the whole affair crashes down in flames along with all the other sparks of romance that flare up at weddings like a viral infection.

So it seems Big was a bit too cynical for this whole event. All Carrie wanted was a date to dangle on her arm for the extent of a wedding, but Big knows better that weddings aren’t his style after having been through that stuff before. Carrie concedes that maybe she’s that type too and they leave together as the chicken dance begins.  But is she, really? Can she do romance in a cynical way? Can Big ever be the romantic type?

This episode turns out to be one of the more fun episodes in a while, and the wedding themed episodes in this series usually are. They capture that sense of dread and exhaustion that single people feel at these events that everyone who’s not single is oblivious to.

Season two hits a great stride for the rest of the season with some of the more entertaining adventures that can happen when you are out in the dating pool. While later seasons focus on relationships, there’s a feel at this point in the show that celebrates being single, despite the trials one can face.

Sex and the City Re-watch Recap: The Cheating Curve

Big city lesbian art show opening at Charlotte’s gallery, our first setting.

Charlotte and Miranda brought their flings. Samantha and Carrie brought each other. The only guy there happens to be a trainer at Samantha’s gym, and she wants a session with him. Carrie ditches Samantha, of course.

Carrie has a session, a secret one, with Mr. Big.

Meanwhile back at the gallery, while selling art to successful lesbians, Charlotte starts to replenish the champagne to find her date making out with another girl in the backroom.

Now Charlotte is frustrated, and the girls discuss the vagaries of cheating. Samantha is of course more liberal on this topic, and Carrie is just trying to justify her secret affair with Big, since she’s basically cheating on her friends.

Samantha learns about cheating from her trainer, Thor, who gets her all worked up during her workout.
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While listening to a sorry excuse from the cheating restaurateur, Charlotte stops him gladly to assist the power lesbians who came to pick up their art. She accepts an invitation for drinks with them, which turns into a girls’ night out for the ages.

On another night out, Miranda shuts up her date as he goes on and on about boring documentary stuff. Once they start getting busy, his disdain for narrative film is ironically contrasted by his desire to watch porn. Not being Miranda’s first time with a guy into porn, she’s not quite into it herself, but she plays along. She winds up having to play along every time they get together.
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Carrie performs a miracle and attempts to prepare food for Big. Fondue. Yum. Our not. They decide to go out, which brings up the chance that they may get seen, and Carrie admits she hasn’t told her friends, and neither has Big. She spends the night contemplating this secrecy.
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Her pensive walk home is interrupted by Miranda who is on her way to work and is shocked to see Carrie. Carrie lies about every thing to cover up her slumber party with Big. Another episode featuring shitty Carrie, apparently.

Samantha and Thor are taking a post workout shower after finally trying out the equipment in her bedroom. Their clean up shower leads to Thor branding her with his godly lightning bolt shaped pubic hair.

The girls are meeting at Carrie’s place. Samantha brags about her brand, Miranda admits to primary school lesbianism, while Charlotte brags about her lesbian friends. Oh, and Carrie is camping out in the bathroom because her diaphragm is stuck. Samantha comes to the rescue, you’d think Charlotte would be the one to help out another gal.

Of course, this leads to Carrie’s confession that she’s been messing around with Big. The girls are not happy.

Charlotte visits the hive of lesbians where their queen resides. The queen is interested to meet the young woman who’s been romping platonically with her friends. Despite Charlotte’s earnest interest in communing with the lesbian folk due to her fatigue with men, the queen bee is rather uninterested in a girl who won’t taste the honey, so there go Charlotte’s days as a lesbian groupie.

Samantha is taking some time in the stream room. You could mistake the clouds of steam for storm clouds because in addition to Samantha, there’s another woman with rather electric pubes and it’s a veritable lightning storm in there. Thor must get around.

On the other side of town, Miranda is finally fed up with synchronizing to his porn and leaves Ethan with his porn ladies because Miranda will never be one of them.

Finally taking their fling out on the town, Carrie and Big go dancing. Carrie realizes that they may run into the same problems all over again, but the fun that they have together is just too hard to resist.

And now we have Carrie officially back with Big, and all the other girls still on the market. It was a fun episode, light on the big laughs but the comical and awkward scenarios are great, and that’s really where the show stars to get better.

Yes, it is essentially a dramatic sitcom with porn, but this is the flow that leads to greater things, and starts to bring to life these characters from card board cutouts to living personalities. You eventually start to care about them during their misadventures, rather than looking forward to their trials like some kind odd car wreck.

Sex and the City Re-watch Recap : Four Women and a Funeral

Funeral time. Fashion funeral time. Carrie and Charlotte think that a simple black dress will be appropriate, but Samantha’s outfit by the deceased who was a designer turns out to be much more chic.
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This is where we really see Samantha’s occupation come to play. Her eyes glitter with avarice at the PR opportunities. Charlotte has an opportunity of her own when her borrowed hat blows into a handsome widower. The girls are skeptical about replacing a man’s dead wife.

Miranda is busy with apartment buying. The successful lawyer shows her best bravado with her first of many “just me”s.

Which is what Carrie says when she calls Big. Wait. What? And she asks him to dinner. Sigh…

Samantha gets busy with her funeral opportunities, and also gets busy with one of her donors. She gets caught by his wife. Oops.
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Girls are making some mistakes this episode.

Miranda is getting tired of saying “just me” and getting reminded of her single-ness. She expresses this over lunch, where Charlotte, of course, stars every woman needs a man. Ugh.

They all wind up leaving early because Samantha has been black listed for her married man groping.

Charlotte also gropes a married man, well a formerly married guy. Her date with cemetery guy culminates and consummates. Once again, the other girls are skeptical and warn Charlotte that he’s on the rebound.

Morbid Carrie is preoccupied with death since the funeral, which is why she discusses it with the remains of her dead relationship on her date with Mr. Big. She narrowly escapes sleeping with him.

Meanwhile, Samantha learns the extent of her social exile.

Miranda also learns that the former occupant of her new home died alone, which is almost what happens to her late that night when her Chinese food almost chokes her to death.

Nearly dead herself, socially, Samantha goes to the god mother of Manhattan society to fess up to her sexual escapades. While we knew Samantha got around, it’s kind of sad to see it come back and bite her worse than a recurring STD. No hospital can help that.

A hospital did wind up having to help Miranda recover from a panic attack. Her earlier bravado has melted into fear of being alone forever, except for her cat which should expect to feast well on her corpse.

Speaking of corpses, Charlotte is standing among them with the widower when she sees some other mourners coming to the grave sure. Female mourners. Turns out this creep had been using and abusing his wife’s death to drum up dates. 

Then one of the craziest and, frankly, stupidest things happens. Samantha is doing hard time, hard labor anyway, because her social life is in shambles, which is tragic for someone in public relations. That’s not the bad part. This is: Leonardo DiCaprio is also working at the site (not the actual actor though, just some sunlight-obscured nobody). Apparently, Samantha befriends him without sleeping with him and her social life comes back to life. Really?
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Miranda makes a big deal over having to correct her mortgage application which incorrectly labeled her as separated. She overcomes her issues though, and proudly states she’s single.

Later, Big shows up at Carrie’s apartment because she’s been ignoring his calls. Because she’s crazy, she makes them go bowling because she wants to start up again with him again like a nun would and forgo the sex. But apparently paying with big balls is more of a turn on that she expected and they wind up sleeping together again. And starting up again.

I just have to say, this episode is really weak for how important it is. We get a major storyline, Big and Carrie, a new setting, Miranda’s apartment, but everything else is crap. Charlotte’s dates a widower, which falls in line with the series’ tradition of showcasing dating behavior, so that’s not too bad. But the whole storyline of Samantha being black listed for courting one too many married men, but then magically being saved is just a big time waster.

The writers obviously chickened out on making that a long term plot line for her, but that wouldn’t have been fun anyway because Samantha’s sexuality is a vital part of the show.

The theme around the girls’ reactions to a funeral is a good try, but it is just a weird way to reintroduce Big.

Weak episode. Weird episode. Too unlike the rest of the series, but only because of poor execution. Oh well, can’t change it. What does change is that the show’s quality goes up from here. You could say that this episode is like the funeral for all of the uneven elements that plagued the first season and haunted parts of the second.