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Those who know me know that the last few months were filled with life changes. I had to focus on that for a while. But I’m back. Let the blogging resume.

I don’t sleep much these days. I am the insomniac’s insomniac.

Being awake for most – or all – of the night on a regular basis means I watch a lot of TV. Lucky for me, there are usually some amazing television characters to keep me company. So I am making a “Kick-Ass Chick” list of television characters I absolutely love. I will add to this list as I think of more of my favorites, but let’s kick it off with these six ladies:

Willona Woods, “Good Times.” The world’s awesomest neighbor! My favorite episode is this one, where Willona and the Evans family learn that their neighbor Gertie is so poor she has to eat dog food. Gertie came over for a dinner party – and brought meatloaf. Willona makes this scene.

Hyacinth Bucket, “Keeping Up Appearances. “It’s Bou-quet!” Now, I would not like Hyacinth as a neighbor! Here she is in rare form after seeing a “strange man” in Elizabeth’s house.

Many, many more funny ladies after the jump =>

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I have, like many of you, been burning up Sade’s latest album, Soldier of Love. Her music is as ageless and eternally classic as she is. Really. It’s not quite fair that one person should be allowed to be so beautiful and talented. But it’s ok, because I love her.

After downloading her latest collection, I went and uploaded all my Sade CDs (yes, CDs – the last time I bought Sade music, there was no iTunes!) on the iPod so I could revel in her entire catalog. While I don’t think she’s ever released a bad track, there 10 songs – well, 11 really – that I think are truly her best. Indeed, they are among the best songs recorded by anyone, ever. So to change things up, I’m doing the Jukebox as a Top 10 list.

Sade’s Top 10 (well, 11) Tracks (according to me!):

10. Never As Good As The First Time

So cool, so funky, but still classically Sade. And aren’t the lyrics the truth?!

9. Smooth Operator

Remember the first time you heard this track? It was like nothing you’d ever heard of before, right? And then remember seeing the full-length, epic video for it on VH-1 (back when they showed such things) and thinking that this woman was possibly the coolest chic ever? Yeah, me too. Don’t let anyone tell you 80s music is all crap.

8. Kiss Of Life/By Your Side

Ok, this one’s a tie for all the same reasons. While Sade is at her best singing about longing, or pain, or hurt, or forlorn love, she can also do a simple beautiful happy love song very, very well. Both of these are examples, and I couldn’t possibly pick one over the other.

More smoothness after the jump =>

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Oh, I wait 365 days each year for this night! It is my Super Bowl!!

But I have to say, this year, I was disappointed. I LOVED so many dresses last year!!! This year left me underwhelmed. But there were some dresses that impressed me, some that left me wanting more, some that left me wanting much less, and some that left me wanting to some Pepto. So let’s get to it.

Category 1: The ‘YES!!’

Vera Farmiga. My. Favorite. Dress. Of. The. NIIIIIGHT!! LOVED this look on her – the color, the drama, the way she walked in it – everything!! This is the kind of glamour the Oscars are about!

Now, I took a look at the interwebs, and I see already that she has made some worst dressed lists. So perhaps this is a controversial choice. I don’t care. It played on TV way better than it does in pictures (and I still love it in pictures), she took my breath away and I’m sticking with my choice.

Sandra Bullock. Photos doesn’t do it the justice that television did. I wish I could have seen it in person because I thought everything about it was stunning – the sparkle, the color, the subtle asymmetry – everything. And during the show – she sat in the front row – in every wide shot of the audience, she just shimmered like a star. Her makeup and hair were also perfect for the look. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Just stunning! Nice job for your first Oscar win, girl!

Cameron Diaz: Now, let me tell y’all – it’s feels so strange to compliment Cameron Diaz on a red carpet look because I usually think she looks like an unkempt mess. I thought that was just her shtick! I never expected her to do old school glam – right down to the hair and makeup! She was stunning! Well played, Miss D!

Kate Winslet: Wow, lots of silver tonight. I spot a trend! Ok, this didn’t blow my socks off, but I thought she was beautiful. A great dress for a gorgeous, non-nominee. This is a woman who knows what she looks good in, and nails it (almost) every time. I love her.

Kristen Stewart: (*Sound of me getting off the ground…*) WOW! I have never seen her look like anything more than an unwashed stoner rat someone forced to wear a dress. But she cleaned up nicely for the big show! I usually hate black dresses, but she demonstrates how black can be done glamorously! A very surprising laurel to you, girl!

Queen Latifah: You know, I would never in a million years have picked this dress color, dress cut, sparkly trim, hair – none of it. But on Dana, it looks beautiful. Because she’s the Queen and she knows herself. Well done.

Susan Geston: Ok, I didn’t really love her dress or anything – it was fine, but –  I think she is adorable and I was just so proud of Jeff Bridges for not bringing some 17-year-old to the Oscars that I had to put their picture here. Good for you!!

Category 2: The “Meh…”

Some people just seemed like they didn’t try hard enough. Too many people in this category.  This is the OSCARS, people! Not the time to hold back!! Make an effort. Sheesh!

Mo’Nique. This was especially disappointing because she had one of my FAVORITE dresses at the Golden Globes. I get it – she wore a blue dress with a white flower in her hair because Hattie McDaniel wore a blue dress and white flower when she won her Oscar. I get the symbolism. I’m judging simply on the fashion. And this failed make a slash with me. It’s fine. It’s just not amazing.

Tina Fey: On first glance, I liked this dress. But I think that was just my adoration for Tina Fey showing through, because on second look, I thought: ‘Oh, wait. No.’ You can do better, T. I do not want to go there.

Meryl Streep. You know, I have to give Meryl a bit of a pass, because when you’ve been nominated 16 times, you have the right to show up in a bathrobe if you want. But Meryl shouldn’t have taken that sentiment literally. I really love the shoulders, and even the front plunge. But the bottom? Meh at best.

Gabby Sidibe: Gabby – I’ve been seeing you look ADORABLE lately! And I love your personality. You were SO funny on the red carpet! And when you cried during Oprah’s introduction of you, I cried too. But this silver appliqué on this dress looks very Filene’s Basement. You stylist could have done better. She or he has before, because you have really been looking fabulous these past weeks. Still adore you, Though!

Anna Kendrick: I know this is your first Oscars red carpet walk, but a rule of thumb: if you are younger than 60, cute, and – oh, I don’t know – NOMINATED FOR AN OSCAR, leave the flesh tones alone, ok? Color is your friend.

Category 3: The “NO!!”

What makes me mad about this category is that it is filled with people who should have known better!

Demi Moore: When I saw her, the first thing that popped into my mind is that she looks like she has some strange, horrible skin-peeling disease.

Jennifer Lopez. Ok, to borrow a phrase from the incomparable Fug Girls, this was a perfect example of ‘Scroll Down Fug.’

When the camera shot her from the waist up – GORGEOUS. The top of the dress, her hair, her makeup – all stunning. If the bottom of the dress were like to top, she would have been my favorite of the night.

But then we go below the waist…

And it looked like her hip threw up a wedding cake. Bad. Just bad….

Carey Mulligan: Dear actresses, step away from the mullet dresses.

Penelope Cruz: Sigourney: “Penelope, guurrrllll, why did you let the bottom of your dress get caught up in the vacuum cleaner like that? On Ocsar night! And how did your hair get caught too?? I don’t understand…”

Category 4: The “Oh, HELL Naw!!”

For this category, in the words of Andre Leon Talley: “It is a famine of beauty, honey. A fa-mine of beau-tee!”

Sarah Jessica Parker: OMG, Carrie!! What happened to you?!?! How can a 57 pound woman look frumpy? This looks like my laundry bag with a Christmas tinsel bow thrown on top. At the very least, your stylist should have made sure the crease was steamed out of the front. And why didn’t you comb your hair?? Ugh!

Mariah Carey: “I had a vision of fug….”

Zoe Saldana: Wait, I have a great design idea: Top third, wedding gown; middle third; prom dress from 1972; bottom third, cotton candy!! Oh, sorry – I momentarily took a trip into Bizarro Fug Alien World! Come on, girl! You are UHURA! This makes sense in no universe! Ugh!!!

Charlize Theron: It looks like her breasts were victims of “When 1960s Corsages Attack!!.”

Also:

Barbra Streisand. I don’t have a picture here, but for some inexplicable reason Babs came dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Miley Cyrus: Miley, you are a teenager. Not a retiree from the Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Oh, and another question: Why were you there?

Dear Britney,

Bras are our friends.

Love,

-Elleen

What a week, huh? Good grief!! I won’t even get into it. I need a jukebox for the weekend, and a little old skool “Urban Contemporary” is hitting the spot!

Y’all know I love 80s pop, but I also adore the R&B tracks from this era. Here are some of my favorite artists. So squirt some spray on that asymmetrical bob, brush that high top fade and come with me!

Klymaxx. O. M. G. I LOVE Klymaxx. Seriously. Love them! They actually played their own instruments, which was kinda unheard of at the time. And Bernadette Cooper is a ‘Kick Ass Chick’ if ever there was one.

Essential tracks: Meeting in the Ladies Room, I Miss You, I’d Still Say Yes, The Men All Pause.

The Time. Oh, the TIME! Morris Day! Jerome Benton! Why didn’t they last forever?!? (Bernadette Cooper is totally the female version of Morris Day, no?) I personally am partial to the pre-Purple Rain stuff, but the later tracks are awesome too.

Essential tracks: Jungle Love, 777-9311, Girl, Gigolos Get Lonely Too.

Atlantic Starr: I would have loved to see this band live, if only for the experience of hearing every audience member sing this every word of this first track, because the whole world knows this song! “Here we are, the two of us to-gethaaaah. Takin’ this crazy chance to be all alooooooooone….”

Essential tracks: Secret Lovers, If Your Heart Isn’t In It, Always

Cameo: Cameo, in my opinion, is second only to George Clinton and the P-Funk family as the greatest funk artist ever. I am partial pre-Word Up! stuff, but it’s all great. Larry Blackmon is genius.

Essential tracks: Alligator Woman, Shake Your Pants, Candy, She’s Strange

The Gap Band: Another band whose brilliance is underrated. But those outfits!

Esential tracks: Burn Rubber On Me, Early In the Morning, You Dropped A Bomb On Me

Teena Marie: Oh, Miss Blue Eyed Soul herself. I remember getting into an argument with my sister when I was little. My sister said she was white. I just knew that was impossible.

Esential tracks: Square Biz, Portuguese Love, Casanova Brown, Fire and Desire (Duet with Rick James)

Glaring omission. There is a glaring omission on this list. It’s a song I have been searching for in digital form for YEARS. But you cannot buy it – it’s not available as an MP3 or even on a CD that I can find. In fact, you can hardly find the song anywhere on the internet anymore – the artist who owns the rights (not the group who performs the song) is notorious for not allowing his music to appear on the internet at all. And it’s a shame too. Welcome to the digital age, Mr. Purple! Anyway, click here to see what the song is. I’m afraid to type the name here lest Mr. Purple’s web bots find it and ruin for the person who was able to actually post this video without getting slapped with a cease and desist order.

If anyone – ANYONE – has this track in digital form, would you please, please, PLEASE share with me?! Email me at lilmisselleen [at] gmail [dawt] com. I will love you forever.

Other key tracks on the playlist: In My House, Mary Jane Girls; Sweet November, The Deele; Let’s Wait Awhile, Janet Jackson; Never Knew Love Like This Before, Stephanie Mills; Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thang), Zapp; Don’t Disturb This Groove, The System;  Saturday Love, Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neal

It’s been a while, but I have to correct a glaring omission to the Elleen’s Essentials list:

I Just Wanna Stop, Gino Vannelli. I heard this song in a store today, and literally dropped my bag. I LOOOOOVE this track !!

I totally turned into an old lady, cursing the fact that there are no artists today like my Gino. I mean really. Gino, where have you gone?! The album Brother to Brother is right up there with Aja by Steely Dan and 1999 by Prince as the greatest albums I’d ever heard.

Thanks again to my mom, and also my sister, for making me at Gino fan and the age of, oh I don’t know – maybe 3? I totally was singing this song and Wheels of Life before I could read.

Oh, and although I normally do not go for tight pants, overly hairy chest, unbuttoned shirt and excessive sweatiness, somehow my Gino made it work. If I were an adult in the 70s I TOTALLY woulda been one of these chicks rushing the stage…