Friday, November 18, 2011

Audio From My "Uncalled For" Reading

"Underground: Reading and Performances" was guest curated by Uncalled for Readings in conjunction with the "Underground" exhibition of zines and other self-published works, which was on view at Woman Made Gallery from July 8 to August 14, 2011. The event featured readings and performances by artists and writers who self-publish, and was in August 2011. You can listen to my performance, at my website, and there is also a link there to the WBEZ website where you can hear the entire program. Thanks to the talented and fun Dalice for mixing down each of our individual parts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Britney S(p)ears Femme Fatale concert DVD Release Event, On the Second Floor of Sears, Near the Mens Department and the Dental Department

So I went with my friends to the Portage Theater for a viewing release preview thing where they were going to show Britney Spears' Femme Fatale live concert DVD on screen. They were even billing it like it was live like for real-for real, like as if it was happening in live time, because they billed it as "Britney Spears Femme Fatale Live Concert On the Big Screen." How do I know this? Because they put it on TICKETS YOU HAD TO PRINT OUT in advance, that said "General Admission Seating While Seats Available." The ticket was even all janky, like weird fonts mixed of varying pixelated issues, etc. I love that it says, :General Admission Seating While Still Available" like it was going to be jampacked. This was at the same theater that I went  months ago when the Femme Fatale album came out, where they had a midnight release "party" for it with an audience total of about 10 people. I wrote about that here and then also more here. If you don't feel like reading those posts or just need a quick refresher, suffice it to say that my live Twitter feed included comments like, "I bought my raffle ticket. Maybe ill win a big bent piece of cardboard with Britney on it" and "An obese man got on stage to talk about his internet radio station." You get the idea. My friends Stefanie and Sarah, who accompanied me for that event months ago, agreed to accompany me again for this. This time I also roped my husband Joe in, who did not accompany me last time to the album release party due to being out of town.

Joe and I got there too early, so before even stopping in at the theater, we went across the street to Fantasy Headquarters, THE BEST COSTUME STORE in the world and where I bought many wigs when I lost my hair when I was sick (I'm fine now thank you). While I was looking at a kinda gangstery hat that Britney kind of wears in the the Me Against the Music video with Madonna, my phone rang and it was Sarah. She said, "Do you know what the story is with this? Do you know about the changes?" No, I did not. She alerted me to the fact that the event had been moved across the street to Sears. The second floor. "Oh my god that's awesome. I will see you there."

We walked across the street to Sears and tried to figure out where to go, where the escalater was, where on the second floor, etc. We joked that if we asked any Sears employee working, we were confident that they would have no idea what we were talking about. We got upstairs and walked around, and saw a sad little runway in the corner, near a sad white screen, in the dental section. I swear I am not making this up.

The event was scheduled to start at 4:30 and it was 4:29 and there wasn't much set up. Just the runway with a sad raggely carpet and eight chairs.

Sad Raggedy Carpet Tongue On the End of the Runway

There was a poster that was un rolled that then some guy came out and started rolling it up. There was some sound and video equipment still on a rolling cart. They had moved some of the boxers and pajama bottom merchandise racks off to the side.

I called Stefanie and Sarah, and they said they were downstairs trying on shoes. When we got down there (this event was obviously not going to start on time), Sarah hobbled over wearing one of her own gym shoes and a leopard-print mega hookery high heel shoe. She wanted to know what we thought. I told her, "You should wear those two together, like it's some sort of sassy rogue-style thing."

We went back upstairs and they were beginning to set up what looked like an obstacle course. The screen extended over the entrance to the dental department, but they were sectioning it off with pieces of wood on chairs so that people who had dental appointments wouldn't accidentally run into it and know it was off limits. A group of about 4 or 5 other people came in who were all obviously together came and sat down. I announced that we should put on some of the Joe Boxer pajamas and walk around on the runway.

While we were waiting, I pulled out my phone and reminded them of what the Facebook invite said, that the concert was supposed to be on a 45 foot screen. Also, it said this:

Before the concert we will also show Britney's music videos from her Femme Fatale album and will premiere the music video "Watch Out" from ANDREA EVE which was filmed on The Portage Theater stage at the Six Corners BBQ Fest a few months ago! We will also give you a sneek peek at a new up and coming artist "Ashtar". 

We sat down on the folding chairs when the concert DVD started but there wasn't any of the other video has mentioned in the Facebook invite.

I pulled out the popcorn and soda.

Joe's comment when he posted a photo of me Facebook:
"Liz didn't want the oily popcorn from the theater, so she snuck in some that was air popped at home.
The theater didn't happen. So she's eating popcorn in the men's department in Sears."

Joe started taking pictures too. Later, when he posted them on Facebook, he prefaced the set with these words, which summarized this event perfectly:

So there was this Britney Spears live DVD prerelease event that was scheduled for the Portage Theater in Chicago. We didn't get the details, but the event was moved. To Sears. Second floor. Men's department. In front of the dental department. I wish I could make these details up.
I was filling everyone in on details they needed to know: the guy rapping, that's Will.I.Am. He produced some of these songs. That other woman rapping, that's Nicki Minaj. That other woman rapping, that's Sabi. She rapped on Drop Dead (Beautiful). And so on. Also, see that routine? That's the dance from the video. And that one too. See that set? They used a variation of that when she was on this one TV show. And so on. I fielded questions from my friends and offered trivia and discussion. I ate most of the popcorn I brought for everybody.

Sarah kept us entertained with dressing up in ridiculous outfits, occassionally getting on the runway and workin' it with Vanilla Ice-style hats and shirts, pajama bottoms with One Fish Two Fish, there was even a green sweater with a tie to pose with the green mannequin. Stefanie said, "Any time we're shopping, if you mention 'fashion show,' where Sarah can dress up in clothes and have someone take pictures, she loooooves that and is always game." I loved this idea and thought that was fabulous.
About 3/4 of the way into watching the concert some 12 year old-ish kid shoppin with his parents came in and asked what was going on. When we told him, he said, "Oh. Is she going to be here?" We thought it would be really awesome if she burst through the screen and announced that she just had a dental appointment.
At some point they brought out headless male mannequins! A blue one and a green one. Was one a Blue Man Group thing and te other one an Incredible Hulk thing?. They were all naked surrounding the screen at first. Then salespeople started to play with what clothes to put on them. They put jeans on them but left the top all unzipped and sex open. We laughed hysterically. We were the worst heckling peanut gallery ever, but I suppose that gave them very exact feedback on their marketing endeavors. So they zipped up the pants and put ties on them.

Joe's comment: Bare chest, tie, unbuttoned jeans. Very trendy. Very euro.

Sarah Models With a Green Headless Mannequin and Britney Spears In the Dental Department of Sears
(Absolutely Every Word of This Is True)
Alternate Title For This Photo:
What They Make You Do Before You Have a Dental Appointment at Sears
Also, Joe's comment about this photo was that Sarah is modeling the green and tie look that's big right now.

Then some pretty lady came in who was in sort of business attire and sat down on a table off to the side. Was that the woman who filmed her thing during the Six Corners BBQ Fest? Was it Ashtar? And why did she have one of those black portfolios? Did she think she was like an art school fair? In the Mens department near the dental department at Sears? She was doing something on a computer?

Joe's comment: "Hot Britney dental runway action!

Joe's comment: "Life has its moments of perfection."
There's some sort of social commentary ripe for discussion about this photo.
Joe's comment: "
Brit and her bodyguards, at Sears"
So much ado about these mannequins.
Joe's comment: "We figured that the Sears manager must have said, 'Set up a couple of dummies.
Maybe we can hustle some slacks and ties while we've got this event going on."

After the whole thing was over, some guy who smelled like cigarettes told us to come back whent hey screen this for real at the theater. We would get a copy of the DVD if we asked for some guy named Mark. Sarah asked what with the deal was with the change of venue. We asked why there was this event was moved and the guy who smelled like cigarettes said it was because they thought not a lot of people would show up for the event. He said that the free showing they did of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" at the theater earlier in the day was poorly attended. We discussed this later and thought it was humorous that they thought they'd get a big turnout for this even though the thing for the turnout for the album release was so poor. Also, the guy who smelled like cigerettes said there was going to be a fashion show at 7. It was 6:45. We went across the street to Marshall's where I bought a winter coat.

I may remember of the details of this tomorrow to add. Lucky you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Reading at Two Cookie Minimum

Come out, come out wherever you are! I'll be reading Tuesday the 15th at the Hungry Brain for the Two Cookie Minimum reading series. Event starts at 9pm. See you there?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Celebrity Tell-All Rubric

I stumbeled upon my copy of Vanna Speaks by Vanna White (Warner Books) the other day. I think it came from a Salvation Army.

I have the hard cover 1987 version with a foreward by Pat Sajak.

The basic gist of this book is "Sure, I make it LOOK easy, but really..."

I did learn a few interesting points, I suppose. Merv Griffin hired her because she turned the letters better than everyone else. What were the other folks who auditioned like? Like maybe they were really bad at turning the letters. Like they did it too fast. Or got some goo on them or something. Also, Vanna White did hand modeling. Her poor hands got tired holding a pop can. Also! Yes, if you win prizes that are $600 or over you have to pay taxes on it.

Also, parting gifts may include tuna, shampoo, Rice-a-Roni, hardware, motor oil or hair products.

Here are some preposterous quotes I enjoyed from this book:

"I know wearing clothes sounds like a pretty simple task, but there's more to it than that." (p. 10)

"I believe that success -- in anything -- depends on who, not what, you are. More than that, it involves hard work and having a dream." (p. 18) (My reaction: ...And your dream is to pose in clothes for pictures and turn toy hangman letters? I mean, wearing clothes is so hard.)

"I smoked some pot with the two wilder girls and came home with such an intense case of the munchies that I ate an entire meatloaf." (p. 60)

This kind of Meatloaf?

"Informal surveys reveal that lots of people tune in to see what I'll wear" (p. 128)

Interesting other note: she dated a Chippendales dancer. Then he died. Also, when she was young and needed the money in LA before making it big she posed for a sexy lingerie ad. Later the pictures reappeared in Playboy. Also, she tanned in the nude and a peeping tom took photos, and those resurfaced later too. DUH! You are famous and you're tanning in the nude?! That's like when celebrities make sex videos. Why?! First of all, why are you videotaping yourself having sex? Are you going to watch it later? Also, you would think that enough celebs have had their sex tapes leaked that you would think that famous people would know not to make them any more. I know, I know, celebs and politicians think they're never going to get busted for doing something dumb, but -- I mean, why are you videotaping yourself having sex? That's the real issue, if you ask me.

As I was pawing my way through and making laughy snort sounds, I came up with this idea of a Celebrity Autobiography rubric that would calculate each book from awesome to not awesome via a point system.

Sure, there are different types of celeb autobios, but I particularly like the ones with extreme self-aggrandisement and salaciousness. And the more extreme the book is regarding specific categories, the higher the probability is that I would enjoy it.

The more certain themes/motifs play out in celeb memoirs, the higher the score they would get. The themes could include things like drug use, sense of personal importance, relationships with others, personal (mis)conceptions about reality, mental and physical health, etc.

This is the way the system could be set:

1=none            2=very little            3=average            4=fairly high amount            5=extreme amount

I'm not talking about rating the celebrity. I'm talking about rating the book. If I was merely rating the celebrity, that's a different story; if I was just rating the celeb, there is plenty material to choose from, but that's not my point. I'm talking about the celeb autobio as a genre. (Sidenote: If I was talking about just the celeb and their public behaivor, there's plenty to go with -- David Hasselhoff crying while eating a hamburger in a video on Youtube, Britney attacking with an umbrella, Toby McGuire bringing his own food to the craps table, etc.) But no! I'm talking about just the book.

Any of the tell-all books by members of Mötley Crüe like The Dirt, The Heroin Diaries, Tommyland etc. get high points in all categories that would be on the rubric, so as you can guess, they're fun to read. So I don't need to include them below -- They're kinda holy grail-y in regards to the celeb autobio genre. Just go read them and enjoy, even if you're not a Crüe fan.

Here are just two examples of how certain things would rate in this rubric that I can think of off the top of my head:

Sense of Personal Importance:
In Call Me Crazy: A Memoir by Anne Heche, she describes developing an alter ego, Celestia, who was the daughter of God, come to save mankind. That would rate the book a 5 for the category of Personal Perception. Also a 5 goes to David Hasselhoff in Don't Hassel the Hoff: The Autobiography (Thomas Dunne Books) 2007 for his insistance that he was integral to the capitulation of the Berlin Wall. Definitely a 5 for his book in this category.

Drug Use:
Gene Simmons said in Kiss and Make Up that he has never tried alcohol or pot and that he never will. That would be a 1 in this category.
Drew Barrymore was in and out of rehab twice by the time she was 14, as described in her book Little Girl Lost. Although you would think that I would assign her a 5 in this category, I actually went with giving her book a 4 because it seems like she was scared straight due to past public shame of herself in regards to the drugs.
In Memoirs of a Superfreak, Rick James talks about his habitual use of all types of drugs and his multiple rehab trips. He pretty much died because of drugs, and there is much ado about his drug endeavors in the book. I honor his drug use in the book with a 5 for this category.

Anyway, you get the idea...

Books that I haven't read but I am sure I would enjoy rating on this system would be ones by Valerie Bertinelli, Tatum O'Neal, Mackenzie Phillips -- It's just that I have a billion books on deck right now -- no, I haven't gotten to those -- yet...

One day I would love to sit some of the ghost writers down, get them rip-roaringly drunk and get the scoop behind the scoop.

I should also mention that there are some celeb memoirs that are totally outside the realm of this rubric -- like books that don't have that type of extreme preposterousness that I enjoy in a celeb memoir. Maybe, they actually learned something from their experience in the industry and have some legitimate wisdom to share, like in Pat Benatar's Between a Heart and a Rock Place, where she shares the love story of how she met her husband who is also the guitarist for her band, and then also some good stuff about the difference between corporate and indie record label business models and so on. I enjoy books like that too, yes, but they are a different type of celeb autobio. Rue McClanahan's My First Five Husband's...And the Ones Who Got Away is another fun autobio but doesn't have the preposterousness I usually enjoy like in the above categories, but it does have salacious info about her fellow Golden Girls, like who was nicer than who and who needed to read cue cards. Also, Growing Pains by Billie Piper is good too in a "I've learned so much through my pain" kind of a way, but with some typos that seem weirdly cozy.

Anyway, I've got some other memoirs that I would like to get to soon already in the Liz Mason Midwest Celebrity Autobiography Collection (read: my bathroom) that I haven't really cracked open yet I look forward to getting to them eventually, like a book by the original drummer for Oasis and Adam Ant's memoir. What celeb memoirs do you know about that I should read?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Describing Halloween Sounds Like Hilarious High School Poetry

I love Halloween. Especially in the city. And when I describe it, it totally sounds like some ridiculous poetry, which is hilarious and awesome to me. Halloween is poetry. With candy.

A member of Run DMC walks over Wabansia in broad daylight on the way to the bank to transfer funds from savings to checking account. A matador walks down the street giving directions on his cell phone. In the dark, I walk by an apartment with a party in progress: a moose is dancing drunkenly in the corner, antlers accidentally hitting the ceiling. A group of unlikely friends flag for a cab: a sexy eskimo (sexkimo), a nun, and a pirate. Left in my bike basket: a wrapper for a "HIP HOP BLING NECKLACE." A bus rolls and raves down the street with a flame twirler and a DJ spinning techno atop.


Here's this year's Halloween costume. Guess I never got around to putting together a Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner costume. Well, maybe next year. So this year's was pretty low maintenance.

I sang Womanizer at karaoke and was going to take the pink wig off while singing to reveal my pink hair underneath but then I forgot. Bah! I got the idea from Emo Phillips taking off his Michael Jackson jacket to reveal another one of the same underneath. Woops.