deep cover.

Thanks to this morning’s news, my secret is out. I’m not a freelance writer living in downtown Madison. Nope. I am an undercover agent for the Russian government.

We’re everywhere, you see. Gathering intelligence at farmers’ markets, fastidiously dvr’ing city council meetings and taking copious notes, and scanning local Yelp sites for left-leaning sympathizers. You see, it’s 2010, and there’s a lot of sensitive information to be found amongst the school hallways and backyards of America. A lot of heavy sh*t man, and the Russians need it.

I spend hours watching cable news, meticulously detailing each and every state secret Wolf Blitzer spouts. Sometimes I even go on the internet and download locations of embassies, factories and vulnerable U.S. holdings. I know where every major U.S. government building is located, and thanks to Google I can actually see the buildings from the street. Sometimes I even troll Washington D.C. blogs to see if I can get the inside scoop on the political scene. This is all stuff I can only find on American soil, and it’s honestly going to give Russia so much dirt on this country – who knows what will happen?

Wait – I know how this will end!!! The eff-you will be an international time suck wherein Russia spends millions on training spies to live in suburbia and gather intel from the internet and at the same time the FBI spends millions observing, tracking and hauling in people it cannot arrest because they spent their time tracking intel off the internet.
Also, we’ll all spend the day reading about these stupid spy rings and forget about the millions of gallons of crude oil invading our shores every minute. Sounds like a win-win for everyone!

Sometimes real life is made into movies. And sometimes the news just feels like a bad movie come to life.

satc 2 sndtrk.

Yes we can! That’s my rallying cry,  dear readers. For ever since I began this humble blog with my riveting expose of Amelia Earhart, it’s been my goal to get the attention of corporate America, to have someone with deep coffers see my worth, acknowledge my contribution – and ask me to do more. And now it’s happened.

The powers-that-be at One2One Network have sent me-gratis-my very own copy of the Sex and the City 2 Soundtrack. Beyond that, they have ASKED FOR MY OPINION! Oh,how fervently have I awaited this day!

Sadly, when I listened to the CD and sad down to write my review, I felt a bit like Rory Gilmore at the ballet. I wanted so much to like the music so I could write a review full of joy and glee and appreciation for my new-found favorite summer soundtrack. Instead, I feel a little gypped. Because honestly, it pretty much blows.

The music stumbles from the start. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE covers, but Alicia Keys’ version of Rapture is thin and completely unnecessary – the producers would have been much better served with Debbie Harry’s original. Then there’s some random Dido number, reminiscent of 1999. Throwaway.

Fortunately the next two tracks, by Cee Lo and Erykah Badu are both modern and fresh and enjoyable – and they certainly shifted my mood. I thought there might be some life left in the disc, and I began to feel hopeful. Then the snakecharming, stereotypical Middle-Eastern fingerbells of the next two numbers sort of ran together and pissed me off – honestly, I didn’t make it all the way through either song. I remember thinking something about the Casio synthesizer I had in 8th grade, then blacking out.

When I came to, it was Liza Minnelli’s cover of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies anthem. God help us. Did you ever hear Pat Boone covering Ozzy Osbourne? It’s cute and all, but the novelty wears off pretty quick. And the over-enunciation couldn’t be more grating. So yeah, that’s where I stand on Liza’s first contribution to the disc.

Finally, after what has been mostly suffering, we are given a gift. Alicia Keys redeems herself with her own sequel: Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down. This is Keys at her best, her strong vocals soar and the song is invigorating and pulsating and finally breathes some life into what thus far has been a mangled mishmash of music that supposedly represents four of the strongest, most sophisticated women in the country, not to mention symbolizes one of the world’s most vibrant cities.  At this point, I think we’re turning a corner, and I’m elated.

So yeah, we turned a corner alright. What I failed to realize was that corner take us down an alley to a Whitney Houston song graveyard from 1986. Jennifer Hudson had a beautiful voice, as does Leona Lewis…but if I wanted to listen to two grown women modulate and coo throatily about love being a color, well, I guess I would never want that, would I? WHO WOULD? After the joy that was Alicia Keys, this song was just insulting, a letdown and ultimately, irritating. I started to hate the cd case, the cover art and myself for the self-inflicted torture.

Now everything was going downhill, and fast. There are two songs no one ever needs to hear again. One is I Will Survive, and the other is I am Woman. Why anyone felt the need to have the four stars of Sex and the City belt out Helen Reddy’s tired old song is beyond me. What’s worse, the women sound as if they’re auditioning for a community theater production. It’s painful. It’s then I realize the soundtrack’s producers are just fucking with us – because they follow this earsore with three standards sung by the Sex and the City Men’s Choir. And I will not say any more on that subject, because my thoughts are so vicious I can’t bear to type them.

And really, there’s not much else to say about this disappointment. Liza Minnelli does a decent version of Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye and Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors is included for some random reason. I think there might be a couple of other songs, but let’s just let them fade into the wind, as this soundtrack is sure to do.

While I was a fan of the show and enjoyed the first movie, I haven’t felt compelled to see the sequel. Many reviewers have faulted the film for being out of touch with the modern economy – failing to account for the shift in style and tastes that has accompanied the economic downturn of the past two years. If anything, my thoughts on the soundtrack echo those criticisms – the songs are bloated and indulgent of a limited taste level with little thought to how times and style have changed.

So yeah, download the Alicia Keys song. Then move on.

If you ever get inspired to sing "I am Woman," please don't. Just don't.

call me brenda.

So, while last week’s ENT appointment and MRI found my brain tumor-free, the visit did give me the gift of a summer cold. This one is a doozy – achey bones and muscles, watery eyes, stuffed up nose and a chest cough. And while sometimes when I get a cold my voice gets all hoarse and Kathleen Turner-y, so I don’t mind as much, this time I sound like Brenda Vaccaro after a sandpaper bender. Not pretty. In fact, it’s a little scary.

I know Brenda from her work in Supergirl and Midnight Cowboy (two films often uttered in the same breath) - I wasn't aware she had such an active life as a celebrity tampon endorser.

lady writer.

I guess products  targeted at women (and the associated advertising) have always pretty much sucked. Still, I’m glad I live in a time where (I think. I hope) my dream job title doesn’t have to be prefaced with lady. Oh, and that I don’t have to wear a girdle.

I bet there are a lot of pissed off j-school grads out there. The secret to a high powered editor's job really was in your pants.

 

Do not be afraid of evil consequences. That's a sterling recommendation if I've ever heard one!

Do we even have to wonder why women have low self-esteem? How can you win when you have to worry about your weight in so many different lighting scenarios?

And the best for last…

This deodorant's active ingredient (hexachlorophene) is a carcinogen that causes skin lesions and ulcers and spinal cord damage. But hey, your vagina smells fresh!

what you owe.

Sorry to disappoint, but I suppose this post is really just my to-do list for the week.

First off, don’t say ANYTHING about Lost. We haven’t seen it yet but will watch it tonight.

I’m heading out to see a client today who is also a professional masseuse (and friend). I scratch her back, she rubs mine. It’s a beautiful relationship. 

Wednesday I’m meeting up with a former colleague to give her some insight and advice into the wonderful world of freelance. She’s one of those radiant people who always makes you feel better about yourself just by being around her. I’m flattered she’s asking me for any sort of help.

Wednesday I’m also going to meet my friend Lindsay’s baby boy!

Hm, what else aside from slaving away at my computer? I can say I paid off two credit cards this week. Sure, they were very small, but they’re paid and it feels soooo good to remove them from my budget.

Jason and I were talking about the idea of debt and what we owe to other people this weekend. I don’t think we owe someone a debt for doing what they’re supposed to do. I do think we owe respect and courtesy to everyone, but love is not an obligation, nor does it create an obligation, right? I mean, I understand sacrifice and all, but I wouldn’t want people doing things for me just because they felt forced into it. Maybe I’m weird?

Finally, you won’t see my shadow or hear a peep from me tomorrow. I’ll be curled up with my Kindle all day.

It's always so bittersweet when something you love ends.

detox update.

So far, I hate detox, but I’m pleased to say I’ve lost some weight. Honestly, I do feel better lately and the positive effects of healthy eating cannot be denied. It’s either that or the return of those nasty New Jersey housewives.

I’ve been using an iPhone app called Lose It! to help me track my caloric intake. I’ve tried the food journal thing before but I can’t be bothered to weigh and measure and figure out the math of calories. For the most part, this method is effortless – I just type what I eat, and the app looks most things up for me. So it’s not so bad. And I’ve found it keeps me honest with myself because I have daily and weekly calorie budgets and I see it on the scale if I don’t adhere to the rules.

So, yeah. Progress. I still desperately want to eat a block of chocolate and wash it down with a steak, but the results keep me motivated.

I know so many marriages that have fallen apart because of dirty dishes.

commitment.

Monday (May 3) was National Broken Heart day in India. I know this because I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new memoir, Committed, in which she discusses her path to (pretty-much) forced marriage with her love interest from the juggernaut Eat, Pray, Love thanks to U.S. Immigration policy.

Because Gilbert’s intended was exiled from the U.S. while they were getting their paperwork and other legalities sorted out, the pair became international nomads. The book begins with Gilbert in a Hmong village talking about the difference between modern Western ideas of marriage versus the pragmatic view of marriage the world used to hold, and which is still maintained in traditional societies such as that of the Hmong.

Before Freud and insight and choice and the “I’m special” revolution, people got married for all sorts of reasons, but not because they needed another person to make them feel whole inside. Marriage resulted from love, family alliances, property disputes and resolutions, last resorts and convenience. Rarely did two people get hitched because they were looking for a lifetime of mutual inspiration.

The women Gilbert spoke to in the Hmong village couldn’t understand the idea of a husband making a wife happy. To paraphrase Gilbert, the idea that your emotional well-being was tied up in your marriage was foreign to them.
I’m fascinated by this, because so many people I know believe the person they date or marry will solve any unhappiness they may have in themselves. If today’s high divorce rate is any clue, this isn’t the case, and we could probably use a National Broken Hearts day, too.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m pro-marriage. I know people with amazing relationships, and what they all seem to have in common are notions of compromise and the understanding that fireworks are relative (that is, love and romance don’t necessarily equate to the antics of your standard romcom).

The women I know who are happiest in their marriages or committed relationships have a strong sense of self. I’m not sure if that comes from the security they feel in their unions or if it’s maturity or something else all together. I’m not married, but I have been in a committed relationship for a long, long time. I like to think I practice what I preach, and I can attest that sticking together is hard – believe me, chucking it all in and taking the easy way out has occurred to me at least once. But – that’s the whole point, right? It’s hard work, which makes the relationship deeper, stronger and more worthwhile.

That being said, I’m not interested in judging divorce or the dissolution of a relationship. There are a million reasons people don’t belong together, and oftentimes no matter how hard one tries things are doomed. Still, I can’t help but wonder if we all wouldn’t find more peace and joy in our lives if the idea (and presentation) of commitment was more about partnership and less about personal fulfillment.