Sometimes they let me blog at work. Check out my latest post and vote for Charles.
Sometimes they let me blog at work. Check out my latest post and vote for Charles.
As I mentioned to Britney the other day, I was disappointed by the Sex and the City movie. Not only did I see it alone (always depressing), but I also found the writing overambitious and the acting better suited to the small screen than the big one.
The best episodes of the Sex and the City television series are the ones that use a single topic to neatly tie together the lives of four women. Whether it’s Monogamy or Threesomes or The Freakish Behavior of Men, early episodes tackle one theme, and the four principle characters provide four variations on it. You and Charlotte provide idealistic variations, while Miranda and Samantha provide cynical ones. In later seasons, as the audience grew to love the characters as much as the sexy subject matter, the writers were freer to deviate from the neat and tidy single-theme structure and write more complex storylines for the four women, but even in these later episodes the writers never took on more than could be contained in a 30-minute sitcom.
The film, however, takes on too much. It begins with a voiceover in which you explain that women come to New York in search of the two Ls: Love and Labels. Forget the fact that such a statement sets feminism back twenty years. How on earth do you expect to fully explore Love in just two hours and while simultaneously exploring the other L, which will no doubt necessitate devoting at least a half hour to some sort of haute couture montage? Love is more than just a theme. It’s THE theme. There is no topic greater or more imprecise, and to juxtapose Love and Labels feels imbalanced. Saying that the film is about Love and Labels is like saying that the film is about this huge, intangible, invaluable, all-important, life-altering thing…oh yeah, and also shoes. One of these things is way too big to take on, and the other is not nearly big enough.
In the film you and Big finally decide to take the plunge. You buy an apartment together, he builds you a new closet, and you put a fabulous pair of shoes inside it. Then you find a fabulous wedding dress, and the wedding plans begin to spiral out of control, making Big unsure of the true meaning of marriage. (See how one L is getting in the way of the other? Aren’t writers clever? See how Big is acting out of character? He was always such a cool cat, but now he’s a nervous wreck. It’s kind of a glaring inconsistency. And see how Big isn’t quite big enough for the big screen? Chris Noth should stick to television.) Meanwhile, Steve confesses to Miranda that he cheated on her, and it’s really rather heartbreaking—I’m always a sucker for these sorts of confessions. At your rehearsal dinner Miranda is so upset that she tells the already jittery Big that marriage sucks, earning her the Worst Friend Ever Award. (See how Miranda is acting out of character, too?) Big is a no-show on your wedding day, and when you find him in his tux and limo a few blocks from the church you accuse him of humiliating you in front of the hordes you’d invited to see your dress rather than concernedly inquiring what impelled him to stand you up. Nice.
So you go on your honeymoon with your gal pals, who nurse you back to health, and when you get back to New York you hire a personal assistant, Louise: Jennifer Hudson in the most pointless supporting role ever. Louise unabashedly confesses to you that she moved from Saint Louis to New York to find love and also that she uses a service called Bag Borrow or Steal to rent designer handbags. (See how this neatly proves your outrageous opening voiceover claim about the two Ls? Hooray!) So Louise personally assists you and reminds you what it’s like to be young and idealistic and then moves back to Saint Louis so she can get back together with her ex, and you give her a designer handbag as a going away present. (See how your outrageous opening voiceover claim breaks down a little bit here? Louise found labels in New York, but not love. Humph. You also deliver an awkward line about how she’s such a saint: Saint Louise from Saint Louis. See how the writers named her cleverly? And then made you spell it out in case anyone in the audience missed it? Brilliant!)
Anyway, you remember that you put that fabulous pair of shoes in the apartment you’d planned to share with Big and go to retrieve them. You find Big in the apartment, and you kiss and make up, as do Miranda and Steve. (See how Labels, which drove you and Big apart, also bring you back together? I guess vacuity, materialism, and superficiality can both ruin and repair Love! What a clever and confusing message the writers are sending!) Oh yeah, somewhere in all of this Charlotte gets pregnant and says something heavy-handed along the lines of “I’m so lucky. I just keep waiting for something horrible to befall me.” This line, coupled with Cynthia Nixon’s pre-release interview confession that someone in the film dies, leads us all to believe that Charlotte is about to die in childbirth. But no such luck. The only horrible thing that befalls her is a case of Montezuma’s revenge while on your honeymoon. (What a hilarious and anti-climactic twist!) And Samantha, who seems to be spending an awful lot of time waiting for Smith to come home from work, decides that Samantha Jones waits for no man and leaves him. The end.
Anyway, Sarah Jessica, it’s a shame that Sex and the City is over because I would love to be a Sex and the City screenwriter and draw on my recent rash of single gal antics for inspiration. I’m frequently tempted to quit writing epistles to celebrities and start blogging about my love life, but I fear no one would ever make out with me again. Sigh.
True story for you: my kind and clueless friend Dave is a member of a Manhattan cycling club. It’s apparently very fancy—there’s even bike valet. One day there was a new chubby guy in his spinning class. Dave, being the kind and clueless guy that he is, approached New Chubby Guy in the locker room after class and said, “Hi. I’m Dave. What’s your name?” New Chubby Guy looked around as though Dave couldn’t possibly be talking to him and then, seeing no one else to whom Dave might be talking, finally said, “I’m Matthew.” Later, one of Dave’s friends said to him, “Hey, did you see Matthew Broderick in class today?” Ha.
Hope all is well with you and Matthew.
Sorry it’s been so long since last I wrote. We have much to catch up on: Vanessa Grigoriadis’ Rolling Stone exposé; your brilliant album, Blackout; your appearances on How I Met your Mother; and my own experience taking what I like to call Britney Spears’ Eight Simple Steps to Breakup Recovery.
I’ve probably read Vanessa Grigoriadis’ Rolling Stone story a hundred times now, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any less depressing. Vanessa paints you as bratty and paranoid, traits no doubt the result of being both over-indulged and exploited by everyone in your life. She seems convinced of the verity of heartbreaking-if-true rumors: breast implants at seventeen and an affair with Wade Robson (assclown choreographer responsible for this lame So You Think You Can Dance number) that destroyed your relationship with Justin Timberlake. She also chronicles every reckless choice you’ve made over the past five years: your Vegas wedding to childhood friend Jason Alexander, your wedding to Kevin Federline, the two pregnancies that quickly followed, your divorce, and your months-long post-divorce bender. The Vegas wedding I can understand—there was definitely a moment when my ex-boyfriend Jordon and I walked by the wedding chapel at the Mall of America that the thought crossed my mind. Even the wedding to Kevin I can understand. As I’ve said before, we are all occasionally guilty of falling for idiots, and, as you proved with your first, marriages are not irreversible. Babies, however, are. The choice to have babies was a choice to take on responsibility few 23-year-olds are prepared to handle and a choice to be inextricably linked to Kevin. It was also a choice that made all of your subsequent choices—the divorce, the bender—far more grave. Like I said, the Rolling Stone story is depressing.
But Vanessa’s piece is perhaps unfair. So determined is she to depict you as an “American Tragedy” that she fails to mention the beacon of hope that has been burning brightly since its October release: your latest album, Blackout. It is your best album to date; there’s not one bad song on it. Of course, the album never allows us to truly hear your voice: your vocals have been so digitized that you sound as though you’re singing in unison with yourself or from the bottom of a well. But your talent is still evident. “Gimme More” is a dance party favorite everywhere. “Piece of Me” is the perfect paparazzi anthem, a feat Lindsay Lohan’s “Rumors” failed to achieve. Making this feat even more impressive is the fact that throughout every chorus and all but one verse the tune of the lead vocal track is comprised of only two notes. “Break the Ice,” on the other hand, showcases your vocal range and your ability to carry a tricky tune: the melody of the verses makes entire octave jumps while the melody of the chorus jumps by fifths. And in spite of its dopey lyrics (“When you walk, and when you talk, I get the tingle, I want to mingle”), I also enjoy your latest single, “Radar.” Favorite deep cuts are “Hot as Ice” as well as “Ooh Ooh Baby,” whose verses are reminiscent of the verses of The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and whose suggestive lyrics (“I can feel you on my lips, I can feel you deep inside”) always prompted Jim to ask “Which lips is she talking about?” By neglecting to mention the brilliance of Blackout, Vanessa is neglecting your talent and the fact that the best writers and producers in the business want to work with you, things that make your outlook a lot less bleak.
Of course, my love for you and my belief in your ability to get your shit together and make a glorious comeback have been unwavering. And as of late you’ve been making me proud. I enjoyed your March appearance on How I Met Your Mother. Much like your 2006 guest appearance on Will and Grace, your turn as Abby, the receptionist in Ted’s dermatologist’s office, gave you a chance to let your inner goofball shine. But while I enjoyed the first of your How I Met Your Mother appearances, I was disappointed by the second—not because of any failing on your part, but because the writing was poor. In your first installment, you are smitten with Ted, devastated when your love is unrequited, and easily seduced by his smarmy friend Barney. In the following episode, from which you are absent, someone is sabotaging Barney’s love life, and so, in a brilliant and timely parody of March Madness, Barney creates a bracket of all the women he’s mistreated in order to narrow the field of potential saboteurs. Five episodes later we discover the saboteur is in fact you—a terrible anti-climax, as your one night stand with Barney pales in comparison to the deliciously cruel things he’d done to the sixty-four women of the bracket. How I Met Your Mother is a show with no qualms about flashing backward and forward in time, so the saboteur could have been a never-before-seen character whose back-story could have been easily filled in through flashback. Once Barney discovers that it is you who has been warning the women of New York City against him he manages to seduce you once again and then concocts a ridiculous scheme: you and he will pretend to be in love. You’re hoping the scheme will make Ted jealous (this makes sense), and Barney is hoping the scheme will show Ted how silly love is (this does not make sense). The anti-climax coupled with Barney’s unclear reasoning make this episode a flop. Its only redeeming moment was your Cookie-Puss-Fudgie-the-Whale-Wedding-Cake line, which is a joke I’ve been making for years. You are, of course, welcome to borrow it any time.
Anyway, Brit, the rumors are true: Jim and I have called it quits. In the immortal words of Neil Sedaka, “breaking up is hard to do,” particularly when your ex was the brains of the operation, as I’m sure you’re well aware. So far I’ve mixed up Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Federico Garcia Lorca as well The Bell Jar and The Bell Curve. I have also over-drafted my checking account three times. These are the sorts of incidents that Jim used to be able to prevent. In the wake of the breakup I’ve been taking my cues from you. As I am neither the mother of two small children nor the subject of millions of paparazzi photographs, I have been able to take the Britney Spears’ Eight Simple Steps to Breakup Recovery without guilt or embarrassing national media coverage:
Step 1: Immediately embark on a wholesome athletic activity.
Remember how you broke up with Kevin via text message and then went ice skating in Rockefeller Center the next day? The weekend Jim and I split up I spent most of my time at a swim meet. See? You and I are wholesome. And athletic.
Step 2: Hit the bar.
Remember how you passed out and threw up in public? Miller Light is now an integral part of my diet.
Step 3: Dress like a stripper.
Remember when you borrowed clothes from a stripper? I took a pole dancing lesson, and I borrowed stripper clothes, too.
Step 4: Make new celebrity “friends.”
Remember when you and Paris and Lindsay were besties for, like, five minutes? I’ve been hanging out with celebrities, too. I saw Beyoncé and Jay-Z at game 5 of the Celtics-Cavaliers series. And the fat kid from Superbad. And Rob Lowe. At one point I was within twenty feet of both Rob Lowe and Wally Szczerbiak. It was orgasmic. I also saw Al Roker at the airport. His flight to New York had been cancelled and he was trying to get on mine. Remember when he had gastric bypass? He totally put the weight back on. And he must have had a chin tuck at some point because there’s this weird dimple just under his chin. You could lose a finger in there. And I saw Jonathan Kraft, president of the Patriots, at Care.com headquarters. I wore my Plaxico t-shirt special for the occasion, and he was a pretty good sport about it.
Step 5: Get a crummy new haircut.
Remember when you shaved your head? My crummy haircut wasn’t quite that crummy, but these Brenda Walsh bangs are driving me crazy. They’re always in my eyes. Sometimes I feel like a sheepdog.
Step 6: Give an embarrassing public performance.
Remember your underwhelming VMA performance? Don’t feel bad. In addition to my frequent mediocre karaoke performances, I’ve also been so drunk for the past three months that I’ve publicly ridden a mechanical bull. Twice.
Step 7: Find lots of new “boyfriends.”
Remember when you made out with some college kid in a hot tub? And then started dating that Arab-British paparazzo with that terrible soul patch? In the past three months I’ve been to two weddings and my college reunion, events where men are so easily seduced it’s not even remotely challenging. Boys are like fish in a barrel.
Step 8: Hit rock bottom.
Remember when you had to go to rehab? And then had to be hospitalized? My rock bottom was not quite so rocky, but two Fridays ago I didn’t have anything to do and went to see the disappointing Sex and the City movie ALL BY MYSELF. It was a real low point.
Here’s hoping things can only get better—for you and me both.
To my dearest darling Brenda:
When I got my hair cut over the weekend I asked my stylist for Brenda Walsh circa 1990: now I have supersweet bangs. So far I've been told I look younger (young enough to attend West Beverly), French (French enough to convince Dean Cain I'm Parisian), and like Anne Hathaway (she ain't got nothing on you).
To my dearest darling readers:
The first weekend of February I had the pleasure of attending the annual AWP [Association of Writers and Writing Programs] conference with my boyfriend Jim, who was manning the Poetry Foundation booth.
The Hilton New York was crawling with literary glitterati. The following is a representative sample of the many star struck exchanges Jim and I had over the course of the weekend:
JIM: Hey. There’s Yusef Komunyakaa
ME: Really? Oh my god. I was, like, totally supposed to read one of his books once.
There were a lot of people at AWP who had written books I was totally supposed to have read.
There were even a few people there who’d written books I actually had read.
Amy Bloom, for example, whose short stories I discovered in a creative writing class at Colby College, was giving the following presentation:
R128. Autobiography, Angst/Anger and 'Catharsis': Being Crazy Doesn't Make You Interesting. (Thomas Jeffrey Vasseur, M.L. Williams, Marita Golden, Amy Bloom, Bob Shacochis, David Kranes) This panel concerns a phenomenon & occasional problem every creative writing teacher has experienced at some point: when the creative writing workshop becomes confused with appropriate clinical therapy. These participants bring an impressive set of credentials to the subject matter & teaching experience ranging from institutions such as the University of Iowa, FSU, Virginia Tech, Emory, Yale, etc.
I should have attended this presentation two years ago before entering the Creative Writing Program at Boston University and subjecting my classmates and professors to thinly veiled autobiography about girls named Lauren who attend Colby College and make out with boys who are mean to them. It surprises me that Amy, who in addition to being a fiction writer and a creative writing professor at Yale is also a psychotherapist, is down on the idea of workshop-as-therapy. After all, if anyone is qualified to run a writing workshop/clinical therapy session, it’s her. Yale could probably charge twice as much for her courses if she allowed them to be listed as writing/mental health workshops in the course catalog. I hope Amy realizes how lucky she is to be able to draw on her patients’ insanity when writing fiction—the rest of us have to make do with only our own. (BTW, Amy, I so enjoyed your previous work that I bought your most recent novel without reading the book jacket. Dude. Historical fiction? Barf-o-rama.)
The presentation I was most psyched to see (and for which I blew off a Care.com conference call—sorry guys) was this:
R163. A Tribute to Russell Edson. (Russell Edson, Brian Clements, Robert Bly, Charles Simic, James Tate) Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics presents Robert Bly, Charles Simic, and James Tate discussing the work of Russell Edson, followed by a reading by Russell Edson.
I discovered Russell Edson in a creative writing class at Johns Hopkins, a place my parents still refer to as the real school I used to go to even though it’s been eight years since I transferred to Colby. My creative writing teacher was an adorable graduate student named John Stinson on whom every girl in the class had a major crush. We read Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, and each memo was a lecture on a different virtue of good writing, like quickness or lightness or exactitude. Then we read fiction and poetry which exemplified these virtues and tried to incorporate the virtues into our own writing. I don’t remember what virtue Russell Edson was supposed to exemplify—I don’t think fucked-uppedness was the subject of any of Calvino’s memos—but I loved him. His bizarre prose poems (prose poetry was genre I hadn’t even known existed previously) frequently featured apes, monkeys, and familial squabbles which escalated immediately to screaming. Brilliant.
Making Edson even cooler was that he was supposedly very reclusive and nearly impossible to contact. We read “The Blank Book,” a poem in which a husband and wife discuss mailing a package to a fictitious address. The husband says, “But no one lives there. Don’t you know, hardly anyone lives at fictitious addresses. There’s barely enough reality there to provide even a mailing address.” John Stinson told us that the creative writing program had attempted to invite Edson to read at Hopkins, and that they’d mailed a letter to the address given to them by his publisher. But the letter came back stamped “return to sender” because Edson himself lives at a fictitious address. And this, of course, was enough to blow all of our eighteen-year-old minds.
So I was surprised that Edson had agreed to make a public appearance at AWP. And I was even more surprised when Jim told me that he had come across Edson’s Stamford, Connecticut address when he was putting together a Poetry Foundation mailing.
But in spite of my desire for him to be an elusive recluse, it was pretty exciting to see Edson in person. Jim managed to take some video of Edson reading “The Family Monkey” and “Ape and Coffee.” After the reading several people approached Edson and asked him to sign their books. I didn’t have any of my Edson books with me, and Jim wanted me to ask Edson to take a picture with me, and I was starting to get all flustered just like I did at the They Might Be Giants concert. I’m easily star struck, and apparently I’m even star struck by poets, who are, like, the lowest men on the totem pole of fame. Jim himself is now so famous what with his AP article and his NPR interview that I’m starting to get a little nervous even around my own boyfriend. Anyway. Jim and I were standing there fighting over whether or not I had to have my picture taken with Russell Edson, and then suddenly I turned around and C.K. Williams, who I recognized from the Who-Is-Your-Favorite-Graduate-of-My-High-School poll in the left sidebar of this very blog and who looks an awful lot like an elderly Bob Saget, was standing right behind us. Without missing a beat, Jim shook his hand and said, “I’m Jim Sitar. I work at the Poetry Foundation. This is my girlfriend, Lauren. She went to your high school.” Oh my god. I was dying of embarrassment and I said the very first thing that popped into my head, which unfortunately was “When I was in high school we inducted Lauryn Hill into the Hall of Fame.” But C.K. was very kind and said nice things about our high school and pretended not to notice that I was acting like an idiot. So that was good.
Anyway, the other day Jim told me that the Poetry Foundation mailing that had been sent to Russell Edson came back stamped “return to sender.” So even though I’m an idiot, Russell Edson is still bad ass.
Believe me when I tell you that Jumper is the worst movie I’ve seen in years.
The film begins at a Michigan high school. There we meet David and Millie, played by Max Thieriot and AnnaSophia Robb. (I’ve seen AnnaSophia in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Bridge to Terabithia, which I Netflixed accidentally when I was trying to Netflix Tuck Everlasting with Alexis Bledel but got confused because both films are based on books I read growing up. I’d forgotten how the book ended, and cried for about two hours when AnnaSophia died. I really rather like her.) David’s mom abandoned him when he was five; Millie dreams of world travel. David has a crush on Millie, and she’s very kind to him and not totally unreceptive to his halting advances, but her asshole boyfriend Mark is always getting in David’s way.
One day David makes an amazing discovery: he has the power to teleport himself anywhere in the world so long as it’s a place he’s seen either in person or in a photograph. So David skips town, manages to catch a glimpse of a bank vault, teleports himself there in the middle of the night, and never works a day in his life. Fast forward a few years and David, now played by Hayden Christensen, is living in a posh apartment with walls covered in photos of places he likes to go. He doesn’t have to work; he doesn’t even have to reach for the remote. He has all the money he needs, he goes wherever he pleases (and the places he pleases are oh-so-clichéd: cut to David eating a picnic lunch alone atop the head of the Sphinx of Giza), and he isn’t above using his teleportation powers to move to the other side of the couch.
David’s life of crime and “jumping” is a lonely one until Roland, played by Samuel L. Jackson, turns up in David’s apartment. Roland knows all about David’s powers, bank robberies, and resulting sloth and is NOT pleased. Roland doesn’t seem to have any magical powers of his own, but he does have a bunch of weird electrical equipment that he uses to chase, disarm, and capture people like David—he’s sort of like the Ghostbuster of the teleportation community.
After his encounter with Roland, David realizes he needs a new place to crash, and since Roland has seen all the photographs in David’s apartment and therefore knows all the places to which David frequently jumps, David has to go somewhere he never goes: home to Michigan. Turns out Millie, now played by Rachel Bilson, is still there. In fact, she’s now a loser townie bartender and she’s still dating her asshole high school boyfriend Mark. David goes to the bar to find her and finds himself in a fistfight with Mark—just like old times. David cleverly teleports himself and Mark to the bank vault, ditches Mark there (Mark is locked in and will inevitably be discovered and charged with David’s robberies), and then returns to Millie at the bar in Michigan. The whole thing is ridiculous. First of all, David isn’t even careful about teleporting in public places; he just disappears from the alley behind the bar and then reappears there a minute later. And he never phones ahead to find out if it’s a good time to jump somewhere; he doesn’t ever check to see if there’s a night watchman patrolling the bank or any sort of Sphinx restoration taking place. And secondly, wow. For people who are supposedly boyfriend-girlfriend in real life (or gay guy-beard, depending on your source of celebrity gossip), Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson have no chemistry at all. Max Thieriot and AnnaSophia Robb, teenagers, have better chemistry and bigger acting chops. I’m beginning to think that Rachel Bilson can only play one character: Rachel Bilson. Anyway. David, seeing that Millie’s childhood dreams of world travel have yet to come true, invites her to Rome, and even though she hasn’t seen this guy in years, she agrees. In order to keep his little secret from her, David even deigns to fly. “Can you believe we were in Michigan ten hours ago?” Millie asks him upon their arrival in Rome. Ha.
While on their Roman holiday, Millie becomes suspicious of David’s endless supply of money and constant disappearances and reappearances. Back in the states, Roland poses as a federal agent and questions Mark, who has been arrested. Once Roland hears about Millie, he uses her name and flight information to track down David. He also, of course, realizes that he’ll be able to use her as bait. When David notices that Roland is closing in on him, he decides he can afford to spend a few minutes doing something completely nonsensical: he jumps to the jail where Mark is being held and yells at him for spilling his guts to Roland. Because, you know, when you leave someone locked in a bank vault to be your fall guy, you expect a little loyalty.
Anyway. Back in Rome, David befriends Billy Elliot, who apparently gave up on ballet after discovering his own teleportation powers, and learns that there are lots of jumpers out there, as well as lots of Rolands, who are called paladins, and who are sworn to kill jumpers because they fear that jumpers will use their powers for evil, which is of course exactly what David has been doing. Nonetheless, it’s clear that we’re supposed to view the paladins as the bad guys and believe that it is their cult that has been responsible for inquisitions and witch hunts throughout the ages. So David and Billy Elliot team up to defeat Roland and rescue the kidnapped Millie.
Somewhere in all of this, David’s mom, played by Diane Lane, shows up to warn him that the paladins are coming and then promptly disappears. Now the audience assumes that David’s mom must also be a jumper, that his power to jump is an inherited trait, and that his mom is an integral part of the jumper-paladin war, which must be why she had to abandon him when he was five, but how nice that she’s still keeping an eye out for him.
Anyway, David and Billy Elliot defeat Roland and rescue Millie, and David and Millie live happily ever after.
And then we experience the worst twist ending of all time: David tracks down his mother and goes to her home. There we learn that his mother is NOT a jumper, but is in fact a paladin and abandoned David at five because that’s when he first exhibited signs of being a jumper. What? This is ridiculous. First of all, this means that the power to jump is not inherited, but rather occurs randomly, and so we are now asked to believe an incredible coincidence: that a paladin mother just so happened to give birth to a jumper baby. Secondly, being a jumper is like being double-jointed: it’s not something you choose to be or can change about yourself. But it seems to me that being a paladin is like being a Presbyterian or a republican: sure, you may have been brought up that way, but you can cancel your subscription at any time. So we’re expected to believe that Diane Lane decided to abandon her family rather than simply end her membership to the cult that would have her kill her own son. What was she thinking? Gee, it would sure be a shame to let all this weird electrical equipment go to waste?
Oh man. Jumper is the sort of film that makes me wish the screenwriters would go back on strike. Whoever is responsible for this storyline should be shot.
To my dearest darling readers:
I've been to Las Vegas twice now: once in December for the Spice Girls reunion concert and once just this past weekend for my friend Cat's bachelorette party. I've been meaning to fill you in on the Spice Girls concert for weeks now, and the above photos of my most recent Vegas vacation taken by my friend Erin were just too good not to share right away.
The Spice Girls concert was amazing. The girls were all really singing—no lipsynching at all. Even Posh sang, although she had the fewest solos of all the girls. She even seemed to be having fun. So unlike her! Sporty and Scary carried the show in terms of energy. Sporty was clearly the best singer of the group and is deserving of the nickname Talented Spice. Any tricky contrapuntal descants were always sung by her. And any rapping (like during Wannabe) was done by Scary, who I love and who totally deserved to win Dancing with the Stars. The night of the concert was also the night of the Mayweather Hatton fight at which Floyd Mayweather was walked into the ring by his Dancing with the Stars buddies Helio Castroneves, Mark Cuban, and Wayne Newton. Sadly, because it was competing with the fight there were a lot of empty seats at the Spice Girls show. Vegas was overrun with Brits who were there to see Hatton. Abby, Alida, and I made supercool English boyfriends the night before the show: one who ditched us when I told him he reminded me of Ricky Gervais; one who was so drunk that he kept nodding off sitting at a slot machine and who had forgotten to close his tab at an entirely different casino; and one whose initials were J.J.J. and who tried to kiss both me and Abby. Fun!
As for Cat's bachelorette party, Friday night began with a pajama jammy jam in our fabulous suite at Ceasar's. Later that night Erin and I headed downstairs to Pure, where Erin's friend Justin, Las Vegas resident and son of Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, got us into the VIP section. I managed to keep my cool with Justin, although I was dying to ask how many cameo appearances his dad made on Full House and to slip Beach Boys lyrics into the conversation. (It would have been so easy—my dad actually owns a little deuce coupe!) Also in the VIP section that night was Jerry Rice, who Erin and I spent forever trying place before we finally realized we recognized him from Dancing with the Stars. He was dancing mere inches away from us and he was a good sport about having his picture taken. More elusive was Wilmer Valderrama, who was short, thick, and swarthy in person and who brushed past us on his way to the other side of the VIP section. The quote of the evening was surely "Your sequins are caught on my rhinestones," a phrase which is only ever uttered in Las Vegas.
Saturday night we all began the evening at Tao, where Cat and her sisters danced on our VIP table and where I helped Erin apply lip gloss while wearing my new ring—it was my Valentine's Day gift from Jim and is made out of a PBR can. Love! We then headed to Pure for Paris Hilton's birthday party. We missed her performance with the Pussycat Dolls, but we did get to see her blow out her candles. The general consensus among my friends was that Paris looked like a drag queen or a Paris Hilton impersonator. I imagine it's easy when you're famous to become a parody of yourself. I didn't think the way she looked was nearly as offensive as the way she sounded. Seriously: Paris Hilton should never speak. Her voice is absurdly high-pitched, and about all she had to say was "Do you like my dress? I wish I could have stayed in my Pussycat Doll costume." I didn't recognize any members of her entourage with the exception of her orange publicist Elliot Mintz, who spent several minutes tying his polka dot tie around the neck of a leggy brunette.
So both of my Vegas vacations were star-studded successes. Once I got past the pervasive scent of stale cigarette smoke and desperation, the sense that the locals, the cab drivers and cocktail waitresses, are constantly competing to chauffeur and serve the highest rollers, and the nagging suspicion that I don't deserve such overindulgences, I really came to enjoy Sin City.
My friend Whitney and I attended the Malibu [rum] beach party you hosted last Saturday night at Boston Center for the Arts. (Malibu is actually my nickname among my friends from the BU Creative Writing Program—there were two Laurens, and after we rejected Leslie Epstein’s suggestion that we be called Lauren 1 and Lauren 2, the other Lauren decided she wanted to be called L.K., and I decided I wanted to be called Hawaii Lauren since I had just moved to Boston from Honolulu and wanted everyone to subconsciously associate me with attractive women in bikinis, which is the same reason I keep my three-month stint at Victoria’s Secret on my résumé, but somehow L.K. and Hawaii became X-ray and Malibu, and even Ha Jin called us by these nonsensical nicknames.) Anyway, I’ve moonlighted as a Bacardi girl, so I’m no stranger to these sorts of liquor-sponsored occasions and have donned many a silly outfit in the name of promotional blinky button distribution: a mint green dress for a mojito event; a red velour ski bunny jacket with a fur-trimmed hood for a wintertime event; an 80s punk rocker costume for an event whose theme I had been told was rock and roll, although it turned out I was the only person in costume except for a few Miller Lite girls in their referee getups and a few guys in lederhosen; and on more than one occasion a very small red tank top that said Bacardi Grand Melon across my boobs. But I was never once asked to wear a Vegas showgirl costume complete with full-feathered headdress, which is what the poor Malibu girls were wearing at the party on Saturday. Every once in a while a few tribal drummers would take a lap around the party, and the Malibu showgirls would follow behind in a conga line. It was more than a little bit strange. Anyway. There were several tiki bars at which one could order complimentary Malibu cocktails from a list of what I wrongly assumed were carefully concocted and thoroughly taste-tested mixed drinks. Now, I love Malibu. I don’t drink it very often anymore, but it was the first alcohol I ever tried that made me think, Hey, I could really get into this. Once I even did a power hour with Malibu and Coke instead of beer. And then later I cut my elbow somehow and gave lap dances to the squash team, which was strange because until then I didn’t even know Colby had a squash team. So I’ve had some good times with Malibu and I was excited to try out some new cocktails. I started with one that was Malibu, Stoli, lime juice, and club soda. Dude, I didn’t know Malibu could taste so bad. I drank only Malibu and Cokes for the rest of the evening.
Your role as host was limited. You briefly stood on stage and welcomed everyone to the party, at which point I realized how very small you are. Then you were ushered over to a roped-off VIP area where you joined a bored-looking blonde. Lots of fans were hovering around the VIP area gawking and waiting to have their picture taken with you. I considered waiting with them and whispering in your ear, You ain’t got nothing on Plaxico, just as our photo was being taken, but then I decided it wasn’t worth being mauled by a bunch of Pats fans.
The DJ, Chris Roxx, was the best part of the party. He began by impressively mixing George Michael’s “Faith” with Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On.”
The part where my coat (and my favorite pair of mittens on a string) was stolen was surely the worst part of the party. I can’t remember the last time I had my coat stolen. How very college.
Whitney and I ended the night at Bell in Hand rocking out to a cover band called Moonshine. In spite of their name, they were pretty good. And Whitney and I are now featured on their website. Sweet.
Anyway. I hope the Giants kick your ass. And you owe me a coat.
Allow me to direct you to the New York Times, my favorite commie rag. My brilliant boyfriend Jim is featured in today's Books section.