Thursday, November 19, 2009

Caren Explains the Dangers on the Dancefloor

A public service campaign, brought to you by the recording artists of the Billboard Hot 100.

What to do if you see danger at a dance club.

Option 1: Evacuate the dancefloor. If you fail to do so you will either become infected by the sound, or watch the DJ burn the place right down to the ground.

Option 2: Somebody call 9-1-1. If a shorty fire-burning on the dancefloor, call for emergency assistance. Be prepared to explain what a "shorty" is when you speak to a dispatcher, as it is unlikely that he or she will have an Urban Dictionary handy.

Option 3: Just dance (it's gonna be okay). According to Lady GaGa, "we're all getting hosed tonight" as it is, so why not keep dancing until the fire department arrives?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Monday: Robbie Williams (UK)

Robbie Williams comes out with a new CD tomorrow, but few Americans will care. Why should they? He's a cheeky, self-deprecating bad-boy-from-a-boy-band Brit -- not like a Jonas Brother or Justin Timberlake. But there's something intriguing about Williams, and that's probably why I like him so much. He doesn't sound like he's been run through auto-tune, nor does he look like he's been airbrushed eight-times over. He is handsome, but rough around the edges... not exactly what sells copies of Tiger Beat.

Despite this, he has the potential to be a class act in America. One of my favorite Robbie albums is Swing When You're Winning, which features renditions of old standards from the Rat Pack, Gershwin, Bobby Darin and the like. It also includes a lovely duet with Nicole Kidman.

Yet Williams' lack of success in America is not shocking. Take That, the British pop group from whence he came, only had one hit in the US -- "Back For Good" -- though the group sold 25 million records worldwide between 1991-1996. As a solo artist, Williams declared The Ego Has Landed and released the Billboard hit "Millennium" (1999), but he did not enjoy the stateside career many hoped for him. In fact, I remember reading in college that his label set aside an $8m advertising budget to help him succeed in the States. (I wonder where that money went?).

In 2003 published an interesting piece called "Why doesn't America love Robbie Williams?" and it offers a much better analysis than I could ever provide. But my take on Why America doesn't love Robbie Williams? It's precisely because we love. And with lyrics like "All we've ever wanted is to look good naked / Hope that someone can take it," it is lust that Robbie Williams commands.

For Fans of Madonna, Mark Ronson, boy bands that turn into man bands.

Here's his new single, plus a Fred Falke remix (via Hype Machine)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Music Monday: Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes)

In 2001, The Strokes released their first full length album, which asked "Is This It?". I wondered the same thing. It was my first semester of college, away from everyone I knew and loved. We were also living in the aftermath of 9/11. Things were new and strange, and so were the sounds of The Strokes. [Mark Krotov wrote a poignant piece for Paste about the band at this point in time which I'll direct you to].

The band released two other albums over the next five years, followed by a solo effort by guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.

Tomorrow, we'll hear from The Strokes once again, when frontman Julian Casablancas releases his first solo album, Phrazes for the Young (a title inspired by Oscar Wilde). The album sounds different than I expected... as if Martians curiously stumbled into a honky-tonk bar in the Lower East Side and inspired some new mixes for the jukebox.

Buy it on iTunes or Amazon tomorrow.

If you can't wait until then you can hear clips on Casablancas' website. In the meantime, sample the single via imeem:

11th Dimension - Julian Casablancas

Caren Explains the Healthcare Bill

Many Americans (including this one) have been wondering what $1 trillion in healthcare reform will get us... well, for starters, how about 1,990 pages of new legislation?

1,990 pages!? .

How many people have actually read this thing all the way through?

I picture Congressional aides gathering at lunch to form a reading group. One will take charge and assign an outline, like law students might with their required readings. Maybe they plan to put together a nice little book report at the end, hoping for a gold star?

In an ideal world, our representatives (as well as our fellow citizens) would sit down and read the bill themselves. This leads me to my second question: How long would it take to read the bill in its entirety, absent a reading group?

To figure that out, I wanted to compare its length against other notable works. To be fair, I'm listing the comparisons in book pages and/or PDF pages:

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: 607 book pages (US hardcover); 397 PDF pages
  • War and Peace: 1,475 book pages (2006 paperback issue); 692 PDF pages
  • King James Bible: 1,824 book pages (Oxford University Press); 702 PDF pages
  • The Godfather screenplay: 124 PDF pages
  • H.R. 3162 (USA Patriot Act): 342 PDF pages
And finally, The Constitution of the United States: 19 PDF pages

Infer what you will, dear citizens.