Remembering Red Hot + Blue

(This is my third attempt at posting this…Wordpress do not fail me AGAIN!)

Remember artist compilations?  When artists would record songs for a certain themed album?  I find that this doesn’t really exist as much anymore.  I think the last really awesome one that I can remember was the America: A Tribute To Heroes compilation from 2001, where artists recorded songs to benefit relief efforts after September 11th.  Of course there was also the compilation too for the Haiti relief effort as well, which was also quite good too.

For me, the best one that I always go back to was Red Hot + Blue which is from 1990 and featured artists singing the songs of Cole Porter.  All proceeds from this went to AIDS research.  This was also the first of a series of compilations (Red Hot + Dance, Red Hot + Country, Red Hot + Jazz) but Blue was the first one.  I remember first hearing it over the holidays in 1990. I was a wee lad of 13 years old, and I remember my brother-in-law’s father (Hi, Dennis!) making a tape for it of the songs from the album that he loved the most (recorded I might add, on his CD player – probably one of the first people I ever knew who got one!). And there I was with my Walkman listening to Sinead O’Connor, The Neville Brothers, k.d.lang and Lisa Stansfield singing these beautiful songs.  I was in love.

Still over the course of those holidays, I remember going into Sam The Record Man (R.I.P.) and pleading with my mother to buy me the tape.  She did, and that was it.

I’ve been thinking about why I do love that album so much – in retrospect, it was kind of a trailblazer.  AIDS awareness was beginning to get more serious and people were stepping up to the cause to raise their voice.  Also, the collection of artists on this specific album is incredible – all in different stages of their careers.  Some are still around, pumping out music still – and some are no longer.  But their choice of songs and their interpretations are still so strong and memorable.  I haven’t listened to this album in over 20 years now (still got it on tape, not CD) but I can still hear those songs in my head.

  1. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” performed by Neneh Cherry  
  2. “In the Still of the Night” performed by The Neville Brothers  
  3. “You Do Something to Me” performed by Sinéad O’Connor  
  4. “Begin the Beguine” performed by Salif Keita 
  5. “Love for Sale” performed by Fine Young Cannibals
  6. “Well, Did You Evah!” performed by Deborah Harry + Iggy Pop  
  7. “Miss Otis Regrets / Just One of Those Things” performed by The Pogues + Kirsty MacColl 
  8. “Don’t Fence Me In” performed by David Byrne 
  9. “It’s All Right with Me” performed by Tom Waits
  10. “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” performed by Annie Lennox  
  11. “Night and Day” performed by U2  
  12. “I Love Paris” performed by Les Negresses Vertes (video by Roger Pomphrey)
  13. “So in Love” performed by k.d. lang (video by Percy Adlon)
  14. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” performed by Thompson Twins
  15. “Too Darn Hot” performed by Erasure  
  16. “I Get a Kick” performed by The Jungle Brothers  
  17. “Down in the Depths” performed by Lisa Stansfield 
  18. “From This Moment On” performed by Jimmy Somerville 
  19. “After You, Who?” performed by Jody Watley  
  20. “Do I Love You?” performed by Aztec Camera 

Someday I’ll have to get this sucker digitized.



Another 100 I Love (or the “Wait I forgot THAT song!” list)

This list business was addictive, and what started as an anxiety prone challenge to do the first 100, ended up being a helluva lot of fun.  Maybe I can keep this going! Maybe not.

Till then, here’s another 100 songs that I adore and live in me:

101. Everlong – Foo Fighters
102. Could You Be Loved – Bob Marley and the Wailers
103.  Hypnotize – The Notorious B.I.G.
104. Off The Wall – Michael Jackson
105. Human Nature –  Madonna
106. Love Will Never Do (Without You) – Janet Jackson
107. Under Pressure – Queen and David Bowie
108. Something – The Beatles
109. Praying For Time – George Michael
110. This Woman’s Work – Kate Bush
111. More Than This – Roxy Music
112. I Saved The World Today – Eurythmics
113. Tennessee – Arrested Development
114. Enid – Barenaked Ladies
115. Heart Shaped Box – Nirvana
116.  Let’s Do It Again – TLC
117.  New Sensation – INXS
118. Little Bird – Annie Lennox
119. Umbrella – Rihanna
120. Hold On – Sarah McLachlan
121. Breathe Again -Toni Braxton
122. True Faith – New Order
123. Karma Police – Radiohead
124. To Make You Feel My Love – Joan Osborne
125.  Driftwood – Travis
126. Skin – Madonna
127. Take A Bow – Madonna
128. A Horse With No Name – America
129. Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In – The 5th Dimension
130. Somewhere Over The Rainbow – Judy Garland
131. True – Spandau Ballet
132. Time – Culture Club
133. Enter Sandman – Metallica
134. The Perfect Drug – Nine Inch Nails
135. The Hand That Feeds – Nine Inch Nails
136. Call Me – k-os
137. An Englishman in New York – Sting
138. Rainy Days and Mondays – The Carpenters
139. Going Down To Liverpool – The Bangles
140. Spoonman – Soundgarden
141. Disarm – Smashing Pumpkins
142. Hands Clean – Alanis Morissette
143. I Need You – Alicia Keys
144. Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland
145. Human – The Pretenders
146. Heart of Glass – Blondie
147. If It Makes You Happy – Sheryl Crow
148. Far Away – Chantal Kreviazuk
149. Little Red Corvette – Prince
150. Make It Happen – Mariah Carey
151. Blame It On The Boogie – The Jacksons
152. Ben – Michael Jackson
153. Human Nature – Michael Jackson
154. New Agenda – Janet Jackson
155. Whatever Gets You Through The Night – John Lennon
156. Destiny – Zero 7
157. If – Janet Jackson
158. Knocks Me Off My Feet – Stevie Wonder
159. Baby Its You – The Shirelles
160. Do You Know The Way To san Jose – Dionne Warwick
161. Got To Be Real – Cheryl Lynn
162. Waterloo – ABBA
163. You Got Me – The Roots featuring Erykah Badu
164. Virtual Insanity – Jamiroquai
165. In The Ghetto – Elvis Presley
166. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
167. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley
168. Wrapped Around Your Finger – The Police
169.  What You Need – INXS
170. Keep On Movin’ – Soul II Soul
171. Back To Life – Soul II Soul
172. Lotus – R.E.M.
173. Carnival – The Cardigans
174. Crazy In Love – Beyonce featuring Jay Z
175.  Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
176. Domino Dancing – Pet Shop Boys
177. Love At First Sight – Kylie Minogue
178. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
179. Who’s Zoomin’ Who – Aretha Franklin
180. Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry
181. I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan
182.  Vow- Garbage
183. 32 Flavors – Alana Davis
184. Fast As You Can -Fiona Apple
185. Save Me – Aimee Mann
186. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight – The Beatles
187. Don’t Get Me Wrong – The Pretenders
188. So Cruel -U2
189. Say What You Want – Texas
190. Born Slippy – Underworld
191. Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Tears For Fears
192. Brilliant Disguise – Bruce Springsteen
193. Island In The Sun – Weezer
194. Start The Fire – No Doubt
195. Into The Fire – Sarah McLachlan
196. Don’t Worry Baby – The Beach Boys
197. Good Riddance (Time of your Life) – Green Day
198. Please Forgive Me – David Gray
199. Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) – Marvin Gaye
200. I Know – Dionne Farris
201. Belief – John Mayer


(and I think I’m keeping on going….)

100 I Love (or the Happy Birthday, Trish list!)

During a rapid fire conversation with my lovely friend Trish Babineau, we each decided to challenge each other to put down 100 songs that mean the most.  Obviously let me say right away that I will be forgetting many songs and probably 100 wouldn’t even scratch the surface…but here we go – and may I also add HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TRISH – keep doin’ what you do, because you kick ass.

Now these are not in particular order – they all move me and reside in my heart for different reasons – the way all good music does.

1. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
2. Are You That Somebody – Aaliyah
3. Silent All These Years – Tori Amos
4. September – Earth, Wind and Fire
5. I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt
6. Could It Be I’m Falling In Love – The Spinners
7. What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
8. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
9. Teardrop – Massive Attack
10. When Doves Cry – Prince
11. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson
12. One – U2
13. The Circle Game – Joni Mitchell
14. Back In The Chain Gang – The Pretenders
15. Halo – Depeche Mode
16. Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
17. Why – Annie Lennox
18. Holiday – Madonna
19. Be My Baby – The Ronettes
20.Love You Inside Out – Bee Gees
21. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor
22. Venus As A Boy – Bjork
23. No Scrubs – TLC
24. Spirits (Having Flown)- Bee Gees
25. Woman in Chains – Tears for Fears featuring Oleta Adams
26. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
27. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
28. Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper
29. The Love You Save – The Jackson 5
30. Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
31. Doll Parts – Hole
32. All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
33. Hello Goodbye – The Beatles
34. Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan
35. Do I Do – Stevie Wonder
36. Creepin’ – Stevie Wonder
37. Around The Way Girl – LL Cool J
38. Intervention – Madonna
39. Like A Prayer – Madonna
40. Seven Days – Sting
41. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
42. You Gotta Be – Des’Ree
43. Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley
44. You Send Me – Sam Cooke
45. You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse
46. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) – Marvin Gaye
47. Rock With You – Michael Jackson
48. The Gallery – Joni Mitchell
49. Come In From The Cold – Joni Mitchell
50. If You Leave Me Now – Chicago
51. Imagine – John Lennon
52. Vision Of Love – Mariah Carey
53.  My Sweet Lord – George Harrison
54. Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Aretha Franklin
55. The Boxer – Simon and Garfunkel
56. Scarborough Fair/Canticle – Simon and Garfunkel
57. Live To Tell – Madonna
58. Crazy – Patsy Cline
59. Prayer For The Dying – Seal
60. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles
61. In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel
62. Lost Cause – Beck
63. Drive – The Cars
64. Here Comes The Rain Again – Eurythmics
65. It’s My Life – Talk Talk
66. Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell
67. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
68. Shock The Monkey – Peter Gabriel
69. Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
70. Chapel of Love – The Dixie Cups
71. More Than A Woman – Aaliyah
72. Erotic City – Prince
73. Get UR Freak On – Missy Elliott
74. Daniel – Elton John
75. Moon River – Henry Mancini (love Audrey Hepburn’s version from Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
76. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
77. 1 Thing – Amerie
78. Hey Ya! – Outkast
79.  Crying – Roy Orbison and k.d. lang
80. When We Get By – D’Angelo
81. Don’t Leave Home – Dido
82. Call and Answer – Barenaked Ladies
83. The Boys of Summer – Don Henley
84. On and On – Erykah Badu
85. Mirrorball – Everything But The Girl
86. Missing – Everything But The Girl
87. Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
88. Never Going Back Again – Fleetwood Mac
89. Dreams – Gabrielle
90. Dreamboat Annie -Heart
91. Always On The Run – Lenny Kravitz
92. It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over – Lenny Kravitz
93. Regret – New Order
94. Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order
95. Love Is Everything – k.d. lang
96. The Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
97. What Have I Done To Deserve This? – Pet Shop Boys
98. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy – Sarah McLachlan
99. My Favorite Mistake – Sheryl Crow
100. The Glamorous Life – Sheila E.

Why people need to lay off The Help

When I started seeing previews for The Help this past summer on TV,  my schlocky-i cry at everything radar went off and I knew that a part of me wanted to see it.  I had never heard of the book or anything, but the subject matter intrigued me.  Then, the movie came out and the reviews coming in were stellar and really positive – a part of me knew that I had wanted to read the book first before seeing it.

I also knew that with any movie about race relations – more specifically that this film’s main focal point were African-American women who were maids to white families in the early 6os – you knew that there was going to be a fall out, a negative reaction.  And there was.  Right away, an article from an African-American women’s group  surfaced, stating that The Help was actually doing more damage than good, to both the history of black women in that time period and also for current generations who might read this book or see this movie,   and have a skewed and sugar-coated view of what actually happened in the South during this time period.

I read the book, written by Kathryn Stockett.  I love the book.  And I want to tell you why because the negativity around this story is starting to anger me:

1) Of course this is NOT a depiction of the life of ALL African-Americans during this time period.  I know that! And I would like to think that most people who read the book know that.  What the book does do , is show the anxiety, the pain and the tumultuous living for African-Americans and if anything,which I love,  it would make people want to learn more about this time period and educate themselves.  This book DOES NOT tarnish or demean the struggles that were happening, but rather it presents a time where the world was living on the cusp of change.

If you’re going to be mad at  this, perhaps you should also be mad at how African-Americans are depicted in a show like Mad Men which is also set around the same time period, and utilizes similar devices in its depiction of black characters.(It is a show that I adore, by the way).  You don’t hear a peep about the race relations depicted there, do you?  Then, why here?  Both are instances that are depicting a time that existed that was awkward, brutal, racist and disgusting.  The fact of the matter is that however you look at it, it happened and there’s no getting around it.

2) This is a work of fiction.  Read it, people – it is FICTION.  These people did not exist, but the life is real.  These characters may be one-dimensional to people, but they also are a creation and representative of a mindset that DOES exist.  A remarkable thing about this book is that I read it, and I don’t judge ANYONE in it.  I don’t judge the black characters NOR the white characters for that matter.  They each make questionable decisions throughout the book, and as a reader it is those struggles that makes them human.

I read this book as someone who is a visible minority, and I was really emotional throughout the whole thing.  I have gone through my life where insults based on the color of my skin have been thrown at me, and it has pained and hurt me in ways that I can never fully comprehend.  But, I do know that the best way of unplugging this hostility is forgiveness and stepping away to know that there is something better coming.  And this is what this book encourages – it does not sugar coat these experiences, but highlights that there is something that will come of all of the pain that has been caused.  There aren’t resolutions (and there aren’t any in 2012 either), but there is growth.

What problems I do have with the movie, are mostly the usual issues one has when there is a stellar book being adapted for film and the shortcomings that come with that.  The film version is decent – Viola Davis captures Aibileen in the same way that I envisioned her in the book, and Bryce Dallas Howard brings Hilly’s hate to life vividly as well – but I strongly do suggest that readers pick up the book and walk through time with these characters.

Young Adult (a.ka. “you may think it’s funny but it’s not” movie)

Mara and I got the chance to see Young Adult this weekend.  It is the return of Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman – the tag team behind the writing and directing (respectively) of Juno.  In Young Adult, we meet Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron),  a selfish author of teenage fiction who goes back to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota to pursue her high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson), who is now married and a new father.  What we learn in the film is that Mavis never grew out of high school, but everyone else around her did.  She is unsympathetic and as a viewer you don’t connect with her, and yet you are intrigued by what she will do next.

The trailer for the film makes it look darkly hilarious.  I found myself laughing out loud at the scenes from the film…when watching the trailer!

I wanted to see this film right away for a couple of reasons:

1) I love Jason Reitman’s films.  Aside from Thank You For Smoking, I think Juno and (especially) Up In The Air are examples of a filmmaker’s voice coming through the lens.

2) I am intrigued by Diablo Cody.  While I thought Juno was a great film (which SHOULD NOT have been nominated for so many Oscars the way it was – seriously!), I actually think she has developed as a writer more with her projects since.  Her pop culture references sometimes weigh down her characters too much (as they kinda did in Juno) but I think she wrote some really nice material during her time on United States of Tara.

3) Charlize Theron.  I was just talking to my friend Claudia about her.  She is a surprising actor, and I think her role in Monster is what has allowed her to kind of be on people’s acting radars.  Although, don’t get me started on what I think about Monster and her performance.  Je deteste!

After seeing the film, I found myself not laughing, but really feeling heartbroken by the characters in this film.  And I mean this in a good way.  Four days later, and I am still thinking about Young Adult and more specifically Theron’s performance.  There is a realness to this character who is completely unlikable.  I wasn’t rooting for her, but rather analyzing her motivations throughout, wanting to know why on earth she was doing all of the things she does.  And when the big revelation comes, it is the most awkward moment that wreaks of any bad high school experience.

This is a film about how the most popular girl in high school is struggling to stay there, when she knows that it’s time to leave.

Really enjoyed this intense and sad little film.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.