February 21, 2007

Curse you, Showtunes!

Much as I love Showtunes, I did not need to get Wig in a Box stuck in my head.

Now it's your turn.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 12:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 23, 2006

Love? What's Love?

Greetings from San Francisco! I'm having a blast in warm weather and surrounded by friends. More on that when I return tomorrow.

The fitness room at the Hilton Financial District had tame elliptical trainers that like me. Even my .mp3 player decided to cooperate and play a series of songs I like (Best song for sprinting - Happy Badgers)

When I was cooling down, the .mp3 player considerately played Only You by Yaz from Upstairs at Eric's. That got me to thinking about favorite love songs.

This is different from "hot songs", or songs to dance horizontally by. Those would be Wicked Game from Heart Shaped World by Chris Isaak, More Than This from Avalon by Roxy Music (but were Bryan Ferry and Tiny Tim separated at birth?) and "Down to Zero" or "Love and Affection" by Joan Armatrading. Evidently, the folks at Youtube don't like those songs as much as "Weakness in Me", which gets several slashy treatments, both gay and lesbian. I've selected for you the Jake Gyllenhaal version. Mmmm. Jake.

Back to favorite love songs, besides "Only You", two other songs that came to mind are, appropriately enough, from 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields, Book of Love and Asleep and Dreaming (sorry, can't find it online).

I think there's a pattern to both my favorite hot songs and my favorite love songs. Tell me yours. That's what the comments are for.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 1:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 27, 2006

Department of Maybe That's Not How You Wanted to Put That

Seen in the subway today - a poster for the anti-HIV medication Truvada. The slogan, also on their website, is "You've worked hard to get where you are."

Maybe they want to reword that just a bit.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 8, 2006

When Shuffle gets it right

Yesterday on the bus to London, my mp3 player played Dancing With Myself and then immediately, Why Can't I Be You?

Good going, Shuffle.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 4:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2006

It had to happen eventually

Not only did I hear it at Hunter's in Palm Springs, I even danced to it (as I cringed).

The Disco remix of "The Wings" - the theme from Brokeback Mountain.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2006

Two Shirts. Slightly used. $56,311.35

That's the bid as I write on Jack and Ennis' shirts from the final scenes of Brokeback Mountain.

The auction is to benefit Variety - a children's charity in Southern Calfornia.

I read via a friend that the jackets from the movie fetched $43,000 on auction at the annual dinner in NYC for HRC.

You could buy the whole ensemble for only a little more than $100,000. Bravo to Focus Features for donating the memorabilia for auction for good causes. However, clothing fetishists, beware. Your hobby is getting expensive.

Bidding for the shirts end on Monday, so sell your assets and jump on it.

Update 2/22/06: Holy Moly. They went for $101,100.51.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

Leaving Brokeback Mountain

I’m relieved I wasn’t alone in finding Brokeback Mountain depressing. It wasn’t particularly cathartic for me; whatever mistakes I’ve made in my life, they weren’t those. Still, taking from Proulx’ own description of Ennis del Mar, he felt about as bad as he ever had and it took a long time for the feeling to wear off.

Here is assorted interesting reading on the movie:

David Ehrenstein raises objections; once you get past the Evil Bitter Queen persona in his own blog, the points are interesting – most interesting to me is in the comments at Fablog referring to a standard plot device from Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet: “The Faggot Dies”.

Daniel Mendelsohn talks eloquently of the “tragedy of the closet” in the New York Review of Books. I agree with him in that the tragedy is specifically a gay one but I wouldn’t rule out the universality of the narrative. Regarding both of the above, we have an addiction to sad stories and doomed lovers; I don’t think it’s sadism as much as a talisman. We see and tell sad stories in part to ward off tragedy in our own lives. We aren’t always punishing those characters; they’re protecting us.

Suzette Chan’s piece on Brokeback and Arcadia is also quite nice and got me thinking.

The original story can be bought or found sprinkled throughout the net – do a Google search for the first line of the novella - Ennis Del Mar wakes before five, wind rocking the trailer, hissing in around the aluminum door and window frames. It’s worth noting that the version that originally appeared in the New Yorker did not have this preface.

Rereading the short story again got me thinking about the differences between the story and the movie. The ones that stand out for me fall into two areas. The first is to subtly change Ennis’ character in order to push him further, if that were even possible, into the closet.

In the story, it’s Jack rather than Ennis who calls their first sex “a one-shot thing”. The screenplay may have given the line to Ennis to give him something more to say; his only response was “I’m not no queer”, and it fits into the movie’s view of Ennis.

This is the novella on their first leavetaking at the end of the summer:

"Well, see you around, I guess." The wind tumbled an empty feed bag down the street until it fetched up under his truck.

"Right," said Jack, and they shook hands, hit each other on the shoulder, then there was forty feet of distance between them and nothing to do but drive away in opposite directions. Within a mile Ennis felt like someone was pulling his guts out hand over hand a yard at a time. He stopped at the side of the road and, in the whirling new snow, tried to puke but nothing came up.

In the movie, Ennis walks. He doesn’t have a truck; he always has fewer possessions than Jack and his poverty is central to his character. So is his frustrated anger. He doesn’t just try and vomit when he leaves Jack, he punches a wall repeatedly in tears and yells, “What the fuck are you looking at?” when he notices that someone can see him. He’s also not just at the side of the road; he’s in (what looked like) a small space between two buildings – caged and observed.

Jack’s speech in the climactic scene in the movie (“I wish I knew how to quit you.”) is lifted straight from the story, but Ennis’ reaction is not:

Ennis stood as if heart-shot, face grey and deep-lined, grimacing, eyes screwed shut, fists clenched, legs caving, hit the ground on his knees.

"Jesus," said Jack. "Ennis?" But before he was out of the truck, trying to guess if it was heart attack or the overflow of an incendiary rage, Ennis was back on his feet and somehow, as a coat hanger is straightened to open a locked car and then bent again to its original shape, they torqued things almost to where they had been, for what they'd said was no news. Nothing ended, nothing begun, nothing resolved.

This is how the quote is reported at IMDb though from memory I think it is slightly off:

Ennis Del Mar: [crying] Well, why don't you? Why don't you just let me be? It's because of you that I'm like this! I ain't got nothing... I ain't nowhere... Get the fuck off me! I can't stand being like this no more, Jack.

It’s not made clear what brings Ennis to his knees in the story; it could be anger, it could be the fact that Jack threatened to leave him, it’s probably several things at once. The movie verbalizes and brings to the fore the frustrated self-loathing. It was Heath Ledger’s hook into Ennis’ character as well:

Those involved with making the film had much to say at the Venice festival on Friday. While Gyllenhaal and Ledger have previously taken a "so what?" attitude to the film's homosexuality, they did acknowledge a bit of discomfort at the love scenes. “I was really lucky that my character was uncomfortable with it and knew it too," Ledger told reporters, "so I could use my own level of discomfort, because it was new and strange for me, and that worked for me."

In the story, while Ennis’ self-awareness is flawed, he isn’t clueless about his sexuality.

Ennis pulled Jack's hand to his mouth, took a hit from the cigarette, exhaled. "Sure as hell seem in one piece to me. You know, I was sittin up here all that time tryin to figure out if I was -- ? I know I ain't. I mean here we both got wives and kids, right? I like doin it with women, yeah, but Jesus H., ain't nothin like this. I never had no thoughts a doin it with another guy except I sure wrang it out a hunderd times thinkin about you. You do it with other guys? Jack?"

"Shit no," said Jack, who had been riding more than bulls, not rolling his own. "You know that. Old Brokeback got us good and it sure ain't over. We got a work out what the fuck we're goin a do now."

"That summer," said Ennis. "When we split up after we got paid out I had gut cramps so bad I pulled over and tried to puke, thought I ate somethin bad at that place in Dubois. Took me about a year a figure out it was that I shouldn't a let you out a my sights. Too late then by a long, long while."

For the movies' purposes, this was more self-reflection than they wanted the character to have.

I noted previously that the movie added an incident where Ennis decides to attend his daughter’s wedding even though it will jeopardize his employment. It’s not in the original story; I saw it as Hollywood’s necessary glimmer of hope. What it substitutes for is:

Around that time Jack began to appear in his dreams, Jack as he had first seen him, curly-headed and smiling and bucktoothed, talking about getting up off his pockets and into the control zone, but the can of beans with the spoon handle jutting out and balanced on the log was there as well, in a cartoon shape and lurid colors that gave the dreams a flavor of comic obscenity. The spoon handle was the kind that could be used as a tire iron. And he would wake sometimes in grief, sometimes with the old sense of joy and release; the pillow sometimes wet, sometimes the sheets.

A funny substitution because in its own way, the dream sequence is as Hollywood as a reconciliation. It isn’t just Hollywood, either. It’s the dream of Paradise that is the consolation we offer for loss. Somewhere, somehow, we will be reunited. Ennis performs as much of an expiating ritual as he can, constructing his own small shrine to his lover. From an interview (not directly linkable, but in the 2/14/06 issue at Advocate.com and called "Brokeback's Big Secrets") the idea to switch the shirts so that Ennis' was now protecting and enfolding Jack's was Ledger's. Ennis' dreams are the cousin of Solor's opium vision of the Kingdom of the Shades in La Bayadère. And having mentioned that, I am doing an incantation to prevent Brokeback Mountain from ever, ever becoming a ballet, although I can already see the long ghostly line-dance of cowboys snaking in . . .

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 3:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 11, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

I don’t go to many movies. It’s easy, too easy for me to get swept into the story as if it were fact rather than fiction and I don’t like the feeling of getting my emotions jerked around. I knew I had to see Brokeback Mountain (I didn’t want to lose my gay card), but I waited a while, deliberately until I was feeling in a very good mood, as I knew it wasn’t a film I wanted to see were I feeling low.

Good thing, that. I made it through fine to the final scene. The movie moves slowly and deliberately with the artifice of storytelling. It's Hollywood, but Hollywood at its best. The gorgeous location shots were filmed in Kananaskis Provincial Park in Alberta. It makes me want to see the Canadian Rockies. I’m a weeper at shows, can’t do much about it. I cry at the end of Giselle, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, hell I cry at the end of West Side Story Suite. It's as much cued by the subject as it is by music; the right progression of chords and there I go. I was mostly dry-eyed until that final mournful theme was played, and then . . . waterworks. I bundled my jacket collar up and left the theater in a hurry.

The thing I came away from Brokeback with was sadness at Ennis (Heath Ledger) being so beaten by circumstance from the start that he couldn’t even imagine a life where he was happy. All the characters deserved better from their lives. The movie opens up the short story by Annie Proulx; to me the biggest liberty they take is slightly changing the circumstances at the end. The movie adds an incident; Ennis gives up work to attend his daughter’s wedding. Hollywood needed to add a glimmer of hope, and put Ennis’ final enigmatic line “Jack, I swear. . .” into context. It could have been a hell of a lot worse.

I watched it for the sex too, which was minimal. Unlike other gay men, I didn't find the rough ease of their first sex implausible. It isn't usually that fast, but it can be (Too Much Information, but my first was like a hot knife into butter. After that, it was another matter.) It's never said overtly, but Ennis and Jack's masculinity is another can of worms for gay culture. What are we looking for when we're attracted to another man? Often, it's their maleness. And the unspoken corollary is that we ourselves, or any gay man who isn't butch, are not man enough.

The line that echoed in my head on the walk home wasn’t from the movie. I involuntarily fix movies in my head. The perfect non-butch fix would have been for Cowgirl Glinda, the Good Witch of The West in heels and spurs, to ride into camp and tell Ennis that he had been wearing the fucking ruby slippers the whole damn time. I wanted him to say yes to the possibility of being happy. The last line from Ulysses was what stuck in my head. It’s completely out of context but it was what I wished for anyone in that untenable situation.

Yes I said yes I will Yes.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

This is a cartoon about chutney

Weebl has a new, insidious cartoon up.

Mmmm. Chutney.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 7:59 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 11, 2005

Unfrozen Caveman Listens to the Hits

I think our taste in pop music often freezes in our early twenties - shortly after we graduate from college. It did for me, I still like the Talking Heads and the Eurythmics, although my biggest weakness is unabashed pop, preferably done by girl groups like this.

I recently acquired some more pop music and other downloads. What did I download first?

Internet pr0n? Nope. I’ve never been “visual” that way.

Bugs Bunny.

Rabbit of Seville and What’s Opera, Doc? Specifically. Which probably says something about my emotional age; it definitely says I grew up on Bugs when I was a kid. We’ll save Bugs for another day.

Since college, I’ve only listened to pop sporadically. I enjoy it, but I don’t listen to the radio and generally play pop as background music. It makes tasks like cleaning and exercising go faster. There are a few more recent songs and artists that I discovered on the way, most of them inextricably linked to the situations and times I heard them rather than their intrinsic merit. Erasure Stop in ‘89 when I danced with American Festival Ballet; the DJ at Emerald City the only gay bar (at least the only one I found) in Boise, played it all the time, Deee-Lite because in ‘90 everyone was listening to Groove is in the Heart, Liz Phair because Amy played it in the car on the way up to Vermont in ’95, Sheryl Crow’s My Favorite Mistake in ’99 because it was what played over and over again on VH-1 during the time in my hotel while I was doing the Pacifica Choreographer’s Project, Enrique IglesiasRhythm Divine for the same reason when I was in Copenhagen for the Bournonville Festival in ’00. I Miss You by Björk because Shasta used it in her act. Pop music is a timeline.

As time goes by, I get more and more out of touch with pop music. I downloaded a song by Green Day and one by Coldplay because I wanted to see what those crazy young folk are listening to nowadays. It’s probably as good as anything I listened to in college, but pop music is the emblem of a generation. It doesn’t matter how good or bad it is; it’s not my music and my music isn’t yours.

My relative ignorance of current pop makes me like Unfrozen Caveman or Woody Allen in Sleeper. I finally listened to Alanis Morissette, only a decade too late. Wow. She’s like an adolescent Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction. Whoever the schmuck was in You Oughta Know oughta be glad she didn’t kill and cook his pet bunny.

Other random Unfrozen Caveman observations.

I enjoy Hey ya, but I can’t listen to it without imagining the Peanuts characters dancing.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light sounds a lot better and funnier now than it did in 1977. That’s probably because being 42 in New York City is a lot better and funnier than being 14 in Mamaroneck.

Truly Guilty Pleasure: Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Pop Goes the World by Men Without Hats!

One Week by the Barenaked Ladies sounds less like rapping to me and more like an updated Gilbert & Sullivan patter song.

If a conspiracy managed to play Bryan Ferry and Chris Isaak simultaneously throughout the world, the entire planet would drop what it was doing and get nasty.

Still angry, still relevant: Holiday In Cambodia by the Dead Kennedys. I’m still amused by the Dr. Seuss reference. Come Again by the Au Pairs – (sorry, no link) with the single most belittling line to the sensitive heterosexual male, “Is your finger aching, I can feel you hesitating?”

And it’s got a great dance beat.

Adding to the humungous list of one-hit singers: M, for Pop Muzik. I file it right next to Ice, Ice Baby but it's a better song and at least M had the decency to keep his persona to a single letter.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 10:04 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 6, 2005

Techno Badgers!!!

From our pals at Weebl's Stuff just in time for the holidays: A Badger

It's a fun rave and a good satire at the same time. My favorite part is the trance-y solo near the end. You can practically see the glowsticks waving.

And Weebl's Stuff is hereby added to Ye Olde Blogrolle.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 5, 2005

Will you just DIE already?

I have this odd fascination presently with execrable songs.

I just downloaded Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. It's easily one of the most loathsome songs of the seventies. A man looks back on his life and says goodbye to his dearest friend, his father, his beloved wife, his pets, his neighbors, his dentist, the milkman, and several people he met once on the checkout line at the supermarket but didn't speak to . . .

All in an extended grating whine.

There are three verses. By the middle of the second you may find yourself screaming, "DIE! DIE ALREADY! DIE!!!!1!" And each time you listen it seems to take him longer to kick the bucket. Most horrifyingly, the song sold over six million copies worldwide. What were people thinking? Then again, I downloaded it, but were all those sales for kitsch value, or to torture unknowing friends? According to the link it was the largest selling single in Canadian history, again proving the correlation between long winter nights and suicidal tendencies.

Every performing art form seems to have the overextended death scene. Opera has its consumptive arias. How long does Violetta or Mimi take to die, and wouldn't it be hard to sing if you had tuberculosis? The champ in ballet is probably Mercutio, who gets goblet after whore after goblet while he's staggering about the stage for about three weeks. Tybalt's death scene is relatively faster, except for the endless drum tattoo where I find myself idly counting the drum rolls until he bites the dust. I swear in some productions they add extra ones.

It's not often seen here, but Ivan the Terrible (also with a score by Prokofiev) has a poisoning scene for Ivan's wife, Anastasia, that lasts several days and includes plenty of high kicks before she finally drags herself to the throne and gives up the ghost. You have to love Stravinsky - while Maria Tallchief was trying to die for all she was worth to his beautifully restrained score for Orpheus and Eurydice, he asked Balanchine, "How long is Maria going to take to die? She needs to be gone by count five."

My attitude is the one I recall from Phil Gardner's shirt. In the eighties, the Joffrey Ballet stage hands would make irreverent T-shirts for their tours. The dancers had them also and Phil would often wear his to class. It was from the tour of the Cranko Romeo and Juliet and said, "Why doesn't she just stab herself now? Then we could all go to the movies."

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 2:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 24, 2005

Dark Secrets of my mp3 player . . .

I invite you to play along.

These are the top 5 shameful secrets of my mp3 player. Yes, I really listen to these and even worse, I enjoy them.

C'mon everyone - confession is good for the soul.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 2:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 11, 2005

September 11

The song that I couldn't get out my head for weeks after:

American Tune

Many's the time I've been mistaken,
and many times confused
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken,
and certainly misused.
But I'm all right, I'm all right.
I'm just weary to my bones.
Still you don't expect to be bright and bon vivant,
so far away from home,
so far away from home.

I don't know a soul who's not been battered.
I don't have a friend who feels at ease.
I don't know a dream that's not been shattered,
or driven to its knees.
But it's all right. It's all right.
For we've lived so well so long.
Still, when I think of the road we're travelin' on,
I wonder what's gone wrong.
I can't help but wonder what's gone wrong.

And I dreamed I was dying.
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly,
and looking back down at me, smiled reassuringly.
And I dreamed I was flying,
and high up above my eyes could clearly see
the Statue of Liberty sailing away to sea.
And I dreamed I was flying.

We come on the ship they called the Mayflower.
We come on the ship that sailed the moon.
We come in the age's most uncertain hours,
and sing an American tune.
But it's all right, it's all right,
it's all right.
You can't be forever blessed.
Still tomorrow's gonna be another working day
and I'm tryin' to get some rest;
that's all - I'm trying to get some rest.

- Paul Simon -
"There Goes Rhymin' Simon", 1973

A different song sticks in my head when I think about Katrina and New Orleans:

Road to Nowhere

Well we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowin’
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride

I’m feelin’ okay this mornin’
And you know,
We’re on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go


Maybe you wonder where you are
I don’t care
Here is where time is on our side
Take you there...take you there

We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere
We’re on a road to nowhere

There’s a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

And it’s very far away
But it’s growing day by day
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

They can tell you what to do
But they’ll make a fool of you
And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

We’re on a road to nowhere

- Talking Heads -
"Little Creatures", 1985

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 12:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 8, 2005

If Brian Eno made Flash animation

I think it would sound like Magical Trevor or Strawberry Pancakes.

Listen to The True Wheel or Burning Airlines Give You So Much More from Taking Tiger Mountain (by strategy) and see if you hear similarities. (Note: the clips are at Amazon and launch Windows Media Player. There are Real Player clips there as well, use the link to the main album and scroll down.)

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 2:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

How to speak cat

Scott Bateman is going to produce an animated film a day every day for a year. This is Day 11. I believe Mr. Bateman has ambivalent feelings towards cats. He shows no ambivalence towards George Bush.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 11:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 28, 2005

Le Grand Tour de Badger - with stops in Middle Earth, Kenya and Lapland

Begin with the original - here, here or here. You've also seen the sporting version.

Now let us voyage across the Internet to see . . .
Zombie badgers for Halloween and Christmas badgers!

I never knew about the badger references in Tolkien before I saw this.

Had enough badgers? Let's head to Kenya! This one manages to be just as insidious without a badger in sight. Apologies to all offended Norwegians. Here's the live version. And the Christmas version

With a tune as catchy as that, you'd figure that someone needed to improve it in the only way possible. By adding badgers.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 1:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

Internet Timewaster du Jour!


Don't ask me what it means. I have no clue, but it's catchy.

Note to English friends: Click on the "Football Badgers" link as well. Those from other parts of the UK may wish to give it a miss.

via The Poor Man

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 10:05 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Drive-By Hebrew Numanuma explanations

I can't help but find it funny when looking through the site stats that the thing that brings the most people here is. . .numanuma.

So thank you to the anonymous numanuma fancier in the comments who gave at least an idea of the context for the Hebrew parody.

Re: Israeli Lyrics

A large portion of the song is... difficult to translate. The chorus, however, is

"Hapizmon Zeh Numa Numa Yeh/
Lo Meivin Milah, Okei."

"The chorus is 'Numa Numa'
I don't understand a word, okay?"

Other parts of the song translate but I'm not clear on the connection and I think that chorus might be the answer.

"Mah-ya he, Mah-ya ha...Die Kvar."
"Mah-ya he, Mah-ya ha...enough already."

This is better than I can say for my otherwise-very-nice friend Neil, who was so upset at having the song stuck in his head he refused to translate it.

Before his brain exploded, I did manage to get out of Neil that the people in the videos are celebrities in Israel, but he could not identify them (he's lived here for several years). From the Feujcity site, I gather the blonde woman in the toy car is a singer named Roni, and Neil identified the bald gentleman as a popular comedian.

More numanuma as it happens.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 6:03 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

February 26, 2005

Update: Trouble in NumaNumaLand

Internet Fame Is Cruel Mistress for a Dancer of the Numa Numa

Poor Gary.

He has now sought refuge from his fame in his family's small house on a gritty street in Saddle Brook. He has stopped taking phone calls from the news media, including The New York Times. He canceled an appearance on NBC's "Today." According to his relatives, he mopes around the house.

What's worse is that no one seems to understand.

Of course I'm guessing, but maybe I get it. In about 1996, when I first started posting to rec.arts.crafts.textile or to the KnitList, the fact that I was a man knitting meant that I had notoriety whether I had any talent or not. I also managed to use both the words "penis" and "faggot" (referring to myself in jest) - in the same post? I don't remember. The exuberance, though obviously intentional, was not calculated.

Shortly, I was getting invitations to national knitting conventions and offers for articles and teaching. It's a good thing I am a good writer and teacher and I think a decent knitter, but I'd say about 1/3 of the KnitList at the time were stronger knitters technically than I was; they just didn't have penises. (There's that word again.)

I thrive on attention but it also disturbed me. We don't just want fame; we want respect. They're two different things. Fame is random; the inflammation of the public imagination. Respect is earned on the merits.

I didn't care when the knitting gigs dried up; it was never a goal of mine. I learned a lot about the vagaries of popularity (however minor) from that experience. At 19, I think the lesson may be a bit disillusioning for Gary.

Thanks to P for sending this to me.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 1:57 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 16, 2005

Numa Numa Update

Good grief. The kid is from Saddle Brook.

A chubby New Jersey teen has become the hottest sensation on the Internet with an amateur video of himself singing and dancing to a Romanian pop song.

If you liked Dragostea Din Tei, you'll enjoy Despre Tine as well.

I find them guilty pleasures. Having the words in Romanian means that I don't need to worry about what they are - and O-Zone knows that. In a way, they're channeling ABBA, who used basic English hooks in their pop, but O-Zone just uses syllables (nu ma iei or la la lei)

Despre Tine is their faux disco number. Funny to watch the affection of that age group for the seventies. I suffered through adolescence during it; it was pretty grim. I'm now old enough to step outside the two decade nostalgia cycle and view other's nostalgia through the prism of the experience. What did my parents think of the fifties craze of the seventies? The cycle seems to be getting shorter the more mass media we have; I think we're getting ready for a nineties craze already.

[Added 2-17] One other observation, to be filed under "generation gap". Having now looked at a few of the lyrics in Romanian, if there's a "moon/June/balloon" school of lyric writing in Bucharest or Chisinau, these guys went there. There are a few running similarities among all the songs that are amusing. The littlest Moldovan, Radu, always sings lyrics that are a variation of "I know you don't love me because you never contact me, but know that I always loved you/never wanted anything from you/did not steal your panties from your dresser drawer." OK, he didn't sing the last one. But that must be a Boy Band topoi; rejection and protestation. All of which, I suppose, is another way of saying I Love You. And by what method do you never contact Radu, O Fair Object of Desire? Text messaging or SMS. If he's attracted to women (or men) over 35, it could simply be that we don't know how to respond to text messages. Whenever I get them, I panic.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2005

Help. Why am I singing in Romanian?



Sunt eu, un haiduc.

It started with this: Numanuma. Yeah, it's funny, but I love it, as well. The kid is the fat gay kid in all of us with the fierce drag queen waiting to get out.

And the song is catchy. Try and get it out of your head. Just try. See?

Here's the original group: Musique-radio.com présente : O-ZONE "Dragostea Din Tei", vidéo clip. Their name is O-Zone, and they're a Moldavian boy band. Yes, Moldavian. From Moldova. Where's that? Wedged between Romania (Moldova was a former province lost , I believe, in the Second World War) and Russia. They're singing in Romanian, with what I am told is a Moldavian accent. As if I could tell.

It's cheesy, but one learns a few things about boy bands, including those from Moldova:

Boy bands are calculated to equally appeal to gay men (note the rainbow at the beginning, the bodybuilders, the Village People cartoons and the convenient absence of all females) and teenaged women. What does this say about our tastes?

The song was released in Romania in late 2003 and went to #1 in France the following summer. George Bush won the United States election shortly after, and I think the two events are related. Boy bands from Moldova singing in Romanian are one of the final signs of the apocalypse.

Dragostea Din Tei did spawn a few other bizarre videos, among the strangest is this one in Japanese - http://ikari0310.hp.infoseek.co.jp/flash/maiyahi.swf that links English sounding cognates to the Romanian. The "stea din tei" in dragostea din tei becomes "study day". Of course, in the kid's lipsynch version, the Romanian word "fericeria" (happiness - Romanian ia a Latin language - think "felicity") becomes a still shot of feta cheese. Ain't associative logic grand?

To further your numa numa obssession, here are three skinny Polish geeks playing with dildos. They really really really cannot dance. http://strony.aster.pl/amanek/Klip.wmv (not work safe).

A Hebrew parody. Several cute Israeli boys, and some Israeli babes (for thems that likes 'em). Anyone care to offer a translation of the Hebrew lyrics?

And finally -
Romania - Dragostea Din Tei - Lyrics in Romanian and English and
Dragostea Din Tei - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (their entry on the song.)

Posted by Leigh Witchel at 2:33 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack