One man's jounrey through life, as told from the living rooms and streets of Portland, Oregon

Thursday, January 27, 2005

CULTURE -SWEETS FOR THE SWEET:

Candy never tasted sweeter than when it's well-earned—except maybe when it belongs to someone else. Regardless of whether you earned it or just need to feed the monster in your head, there’s plenty of candy in this world and most of it is well within your reach. To help guide you through the sea of tasty pop culture delights awaiting us at every turn, I’ve composed a list of the top sweets to seek out and savor as if they were your own. Let your mouse do the talking and don’t forget to save room for dessert.

Best Ear Candy
Rufus Wainwright, uber-talented and uber-gay son of the great Loudon Wainwright III easily wins my votes for this award, producing the closest thing to perfection since the best work Leonard Cohen ever churned out. Rufus has a way of pulling you into the characters behind his sad and beautiful tales, bringing tears of joy and tears of heartache, often within the same verse. Songwriting hasn’t been this tasty in years. Rufus produced two of the most impressive musical explorations in history with his last two albums, Want One (2003) and Want Two (2004), a tour-de-force of masterful composition, arrangement and heart-felt lyrical majesty. The fruits of a single session with master producer Marius DeVries (Bjork fame), these albums are epic at the very least, offering unique and compelling diversions down classical, pop, folk, rock, and experimental roads. Get these albums and suck it in. Rufus is for real, baby.

Best Nose Candy
With little doubt, we boldly award this honor to Courtney Love, the embattled former Hole front-woman who manages to continually embarrass and degrade herself in delightfully public ways. What’s more, she keeps seeing the light after falling to the dark side. This time her change of heart has resulted in re-gaining custody of her 11-year-old daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, from her marriage with the late and great Kurt Cobain. The tragically mouthy Love lost custody to her daughter in 2003 after she overdosed on painkillers in front of the girl. The overdose occurred after Love allegedly broke into the home of her ex-boyfriend, music producer Jim Barber. Frances Bean was staying with Love's stepfather and sister, but Love had daily contact. Good luck Courtney, for your sake as well as your daughter’s, but hey, if you ever want to shake it on David Letterman’s desk again, we’ll be there for you.

Best Candy in a Film
Based on the novel Forbidden by Clive Barker, Candyman is a chilling tale of what happens when modern folklore bleeds (so to speak) into reality. Helen Lyle is a student who decides to write a thesis about local legends and myths. She visits a seedy part of Chicago where she learns about the legend of the Candyman, a one-armed man who appears when you say his name five times, in front of a mirror. Could the legend be true? Though highly underrated, this film featured talented writer/director Bernard Rose, who later went on to give us the disturbing Oprah vehicle Beloved. Additionally, Philip Glass scored the piece well before knowing exactly what his music would be used for, driven instead by the director’s focused emotional motivation. The fact is, this is a freaky film worthy of any horror movie collection.

Best Road Candy
I just spent a day testing the nuts and bolts holding together Ford’s new Mustang and I simply have no choice but to declare it the clear winner of this coveted prize. True, rental fleets will swoop in and ensure everyone gets a piece of this all-American pie, but that’s all the better. Americans deserve to experience a car that even in its base form is a pleasure to drive. From the throaty exhaust of the standard 210 HP V6, to the swift shifts of the optional four speed automatic transmission, this Mustang feels as robust and retro as its sleek 1960’s styling. This is a fine looking automobile with a kickin’ standard CD stereo and bucket seats that fit like a glove custom-made from the virgin sheep of a now forgotten plain. Ford, I have no idea if this car is built well, but it sticks to the road like glue, inspiring smile after smile. What's more, this new pony car delivers a solid helping of good old fashioned American pride.

Best Candy Candy
Bestowing a best candy award was a difficult and laborious task, resulting in some 15 extra pounds gained across three testers, and more than $345 in beautiful and delicious confections. At the end of the day, someone had to rise to the top, and it was a tough battle. Some may be shocked, but here you have the cold hard facts: you simply do not have to pay top dollar to get good candy. Momma Sees takes top honors for offering consistently tasty treats year round, with a wide variety of nuts, chews and delightful truffles –especially the fruit truffles. Plus, you simply cannot beat their peanut brittle. To crown the first and second lieutenants, we stuffed truffle after truffle into our gaping pie holes but simply could not crown a tier-two victor, instead issuing a tie between San Francisco’s Joseph Schmidt confections and Portland, Oregon’s Moonstruck chocolates. Both offer amazing truffles, but that’s their primary specialty, leaving momma Sees to take home the prize for best of show.

Best Eye Candy
As close as we didn’t want it to be, it ended up a dead heat between two diametrically-opposed sweets: the alluring and lip-smackalicious Elizabeth Hurley, and the subtle yet exotic charms of the luscious Milla Jovovich of Resident Evil fame. Milla is a perfect model of human form, making baddies disappear with the simple click of a trigger. Zombies don’t seem half as bad when Milla’s dismantling them with the precision that only a well-oiled Hollywood film can provide. What’s more, we had the pleasure of watching the dexterous and playful Jovavich showcase her keen physique in what amounted to being little more than a strip of gauze in Luc Bessing’s beautiful and gigglingly-good flick, the 5th Element. She’s the real deal boys. Sure, we still don’t know if she can act, but really, at this stage it simply hasn’t mattered.

(This is a recast of an article I produced for the February issue of Anvil magazine)

Monday, June 07, 2004

TELEVISION -SHOWSTOPPERS:

I would love to know if anyone is being arrested, heckled or manhandled for producing the WB's latest reality series, WB's SUPERSTAR USA. I admit that I have not only watched the program, but laughed at its unsuspecting performers just as I hid my head in shame and embarrassment. One poor finalist (of the remaining three) seems so fragile that I'm afraid if he finds out the show is a fraud, he'll likely run for the nearest bridge. The other two contestants are mind-bogglingly terrible, but someone just has to "win." While this talentless show is entertaining, is it legal? Better yet, is it ethical? Hell no. Anyone with any amount of scruples would feel nothing but shame for society after finding out about this show. I'm not sure I can keep myself from watching the last episode, but I know that if I do, I'll be ridden with enough guilt to fill two confessions... And I'm not even Catholic. If you haven't seen it, you're better off. Hide your head and stay away from the television. If you have seen it, shame on you -and shame on me. I can only hope that no one gets hurt -too badly. What's next for unscrupulous reality TV? The Running Man?

Saturday, June 05, 2004

LIFE -MOVIN' ON UP:

After nearly clawing my own eyes out with anxiety, I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. A decision bigger than moving from the cold desolate plains of Idaho to lush Portland, Oregon. My wife and I have decided to move to the rolling streets of San Francisco, California. That's correct, we have decided to become one of the Governator's minions, helping to usher in a new era of Hollywood-baked political know-how.

Making a big move on the eve of welcoming your first and only child into the world is by no means an easy thing to do. Some may question our sanity -and I hope someone does- but sometimes the stinging bite of opportunity cannot be ignored. Once it clamps heartily onto your backside, it's difficult to deny that something needs to be done.

Facing a very challenging but potentially very rewarding career opportunity is a big step, but moving your family is a leap of grand proportions.

Regardless, the wheels of change are in motion. Life is so very, very short and oh so delicious, so it should be savored with every last fiber of your being. Take risks and live for today as well as tomorrow. There is so much air to breathe and so very much humanity to experience. The world is a rich place yet we so often ignore its wealth for fear of the unknown depths of the well.

Keep your options wide open and never look away when you feel the burn of opportunity's fangs tingling in your rear.