Friday, July 10, 2020
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Pressure

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Warning Contents Under Pressure
Source: yourtattoosucks.com

 

Warning Contents Under Pressure
Source: yourtattoosucks.com

Pressure to stand out, to be respected, to be yourself and be proud, to make money and establish a good career…the list goes on and on as to the pressures that we put on ourselves and the pressures that we feel from society. One of the biggest pressures many people face is to have a career that is “respectable” in the eyes of others; the concept that somehow our worth as a person is valued by what we do for money or work.

One of the most highly criticized professions and one that typically does not fit the mold is exchanging sex for money. It is common that people are disrespected, demoralized and demeaned for choosing sex work as a job. One could say this is due to aspects of religion infiltrating the way people think of sex, and convincing them that it is wrong, unless procreating. Otherwise, you should be cast aside for using sex as a way to make money. However, it is not uncommon to hear the same kind of bashing from non-religious folks.

Due to rampant bashing and disrespect, it is not surprising how some people who work in the sex industry struggle with seeing value in their work. Yes, one could argue, “Well we shouldn’t allow what others think to affect how we feel about ourselves,” however, we all know that in some way with enough time, all those judgments do end up having an adverse effect in some way or another. It takes a lot of courage to put one’s sexuality out in the open and to be proud of it. It takes strength to not be broken down by negative comments about how you could look better or how your sexual composure is a turn off to some.

In the past year there have been several porn stars that have passed for different reasons. More recently, Arpad Miklos’ death has again raised the question in many as to what may be contributing to the amount of deaths amongst gay porn stars. Nobody will ever really know the reason or reasons why somebody chooses to take their life, whether it is done passively or actively. We can, however, respectfully speculate on some possible reasons that may have influenced this decision.

Men who have sex with men and choose to become porn actors in the sex industry deal with a large amount of scrutiny from the LGBT community and society at large. Some place them as role models or sexual ideals, while others demonize them for spreading the stereotype that gay men are only about sex, and for choosing sex work as a career. Lately, the economy has greatly affected porn actors’ pay rates and their ability to make a living, thereby increasing their financial stress and instability. The stigma of working in the sex industry, along with managing general mental health issues and job transitions due to lack of work within porn, can bring on circumstantial depression for some folks who were once stars. Here again comes the pressure…the pressure to somehow make it work despite all barriers that are present. Perhaps these could all be contributing factors leading someone to feel alone and with limited options.

We live in a society that values your worth by what you do for work. So if you don’t fit the mold of what is respectable, then you’re not allowed to feel worthy of yourself. Changing how the mass majority views sex work is a tall order, but changing the availability for health benefits is more achievable in the short term. What would it be like if sex work was respected and not demonized? What if sex workers who provide escort services were able to work through a company that provides physical safety, health care and mental health support? What if a porn company could provide its models with career transition assistance along with physical and mental health care?

People who work in the sex industry deserve the same amount of deference as any one else. The amount of people that watch pornography seems to be skyrocketing, so there is an obvious increasing demand for it. Yet, once your orgasm is over from watching a porn clip, then suddenly the people that provided you with the opportunity to be visually stimulated and have a moment of stress relief, are no longer valued as important enough to be respected?

Yo Gabba Gabba rocks at the Paramount Theatre

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Yo Gabba Gabba
Credit To: Adam Ellis, Paramount Theatre
Yo Gabba Gabba
Credit To: Adam Ellis, Paramount Theatre

 

Being the age that I am, something I am not prone to is watching shows geared towards children as they really don’t have much interest towards me.  Almost a year ago, my sister gave birth to my beautiful nephew Eddie, and I was introduced to some really great shows for him.  One being Yo Gabba Gabba, which is one of the more illustrated and interesting children’s shows to come out in recent years.  They came to the Paramount Theatre in Huntington on Thursday and boy oh boy did they deliver.

As I walked into the theatre with my family in tow, you could feel the energy and excitement fill the room with the sound of laughter and screams from all of the kids alike.  Even the parents were gearing up for the fun that was about to ensue.  The show started with the usual opening that the show features, with DJ Lance Rock walking across an empty white soundstage, holding a boombox.  When he opened the boombox, all of the characters appeared live on stage! Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex all stormed the stage and even myself at the age of 26 was super excited!

The show featured them performing some of their most popular songs from the actual television series, and of course there was dancey dance time.  There was a ton of audience interaction, and everyone had a good time throughout.  The highlight of the night in my opinion is when rap legend Biz Markie came on in the end and did his Biz Beats, a popular segment on the show.  The show ended with the gang performing “Goodbye”, one that they did on an episode featuring Jack Black.  Overall, the show was not too long as it was designed for children, and everybody seemed to have a great time.

Definitely check the actual show out, airing daily on Nick Jr.

Girls: Why the second season is kicking ass!

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Credit: http://www.themillions.com/
Girls season 2
Credit: http://www.themillions.com/

It seems like every year a show premieres on American televsion that the critical consensus will label as the “Most talked about new show of the year,” or “best freshman season of the year”. This is Girls season 2, a show currently on HBO. In 2012, however, Girls received both of those designations to such a degree, it almost feels like there were no other new shows that came out last year (correct me if I’m wrong). Receiving highly positive reviews, solid ratings, and an almost instantly devoted fan base, Girls arguably was the first show since Mad Men to come off as both niche and accessible right from the start. Despite it’s acclaim, however, the show didn’t escape some rather nasty criticism either. The more polarized responses to the show tended to feel that the characters on the show were unlikable, and poorly constructed. Also, there were some issues on the series four main character all being Caucasian girls, with ethnic groups only being rarely used. For the most part I found these criticisms a little confounding (Sure there was one use of a black actor portraying a homeless guy. big fucking whoop!), but I couldn’t help but feel that a few segments of the show were struggling a bit to find it’s voice. Now, however, as the show is currently four episodes into its second season it already seems primed to silence these detractors.

For the unknowing, Girls is the creation of 26-year old rising indie star Lena Dunham, who acts, writes and directs the series. After achieving some festival success with her debut film Tiny Furniture, Dunham received attention from Judd Apatow, who was looking to produce a new pilot for HBO. Thus Girls was born, a show that acts both as a semi-autobiographical respot for Dunham, as well as generational statement/satire for contemporary 20-somethings. Stepping into her fiction-suit as Hannah, Dunham has addressed issues that come up daily for post-college kids, such as financial issues, sexuality, and the ever looming sense that one’s generation has a unanimous lack of responsibility.

Almost right off the bat, Girls was likened to Sex and the City, as both shows focus on a quartet of sexually adventurous females living in New York City. Granted, I’ve never really watched a full episode of that previous HBO series, but I feel that people were a little too quick to make that comparison. Girls is far too quirky to have a strong resemblance to Sex and the City, nor is it as polished. Girls certainly gives off an indie film vibe, in everything from it’s use of lighting, set design, and props that are literally bought from relatively cheap flea markets located in Brooklyn.

There’s undeniably a charm to how amateurish this young show is in some regards, but the sophomore season (Girls season 2) is definitely showing some vital signs of maturation. In interviews Lena Dunham said that the issues involving the show’s lack of ethnic groups would be addressed this season, and she certainly kept to her word. In the season premiere we find that Hannah is currently dating a black guy (played by Community star Donald Glover), which could of come off as a gimmicky effort to silence naysayers, but instead Dunham writes the character in a really unexpected way. Avoiding any stereotypes, we find out that this new character is actually a republican, which causes an uneasy tension with Hannah’s liberal policies. It climaxes with a brilliant argument between the two characters.

That’s what is really great about this new season of Girls (Girls season 2). Dunham is aware of the show’s complaints and it’s status as being “hipster-esque”, but she’s combating them while at the same time being a bit self-referential in a mocking way.

I’ll reserve my final judgement on Girls sophomore season till it’s completed, but right now it’s safe to say that the series is going to silence many of it’s detractors this season.

Monday Mornings is a mediocre way to spend a Monday night

The Cast of Monday Mornings
The Cast of Monday Mornings
The Cast of Monday Mornings
The Cast of Monday Mornings

Monday Mornings: Airing Mondays at 10 p.m. Eastern on TNT

David E. Kelley made his return to television last night with the debut of his new show Monday Mornings. The former creator of such hits as Picket Fences, Boston Legal, the Practice, and Chicago Hope teamed up with former CNN medical adviser Dr. Sanjay Gupta in this new medical drama.

Monday Mornings tells the story of a group of doctors working at prestigious Chelsea Hospital who deal with both the crush of incoming patients as well as the hospitals extra-intense mortality and morbidity councils (which often occur on Monday mornings, hence the title of the show). These conferences are a key wrinkle to the show, as the interrogations often bounce the proceedings from a straightforward 90’s style medical drama (that’s right, no irascible pill popping doctors or soapy voice-over intros here) into courtroom show territory.

The show features an all-star cast including Alfred Molina (who will admittedly forever be Dr. Octopus to me) as Dr. Harding Hooten, a punishing chief of surgery who makes Percival Cox look non-abrasive by comparison, and Ving Rhames as Dr. Jorge Villanueva, a trauma chief with a knack for instant diagnoses and an uncanny ability to dispense advice. These characters in turn, are surrounded by a number of high level doctors, whether its hot shot neurosurgeons Ty Wilson and Tina Ridgeway (Jamie Bamber and Jennifer Finnigan), Dr. Sung Park (Keong Sim) a Korean neurosurgeon whose English is rusty exposing a brusque attitude, antisocial Buck Tierney (Bill Irwin), and the fast speaking workaholic Sydney Napur (Saryu Rao).

Like most hospital dramas, the pilot revolves around a number of patient cases, including an 11 year old who is diagnosed with a large brain tumor, a young woman who attempted to commit suicide by leaving her car on a train track has a ticking time bomb inside her brain, a woman whom is experiencing uncontrollable tremors, and a woman who has been through Chelsea Hospital five times in the past three months with various symptoms but no real long-term answers. Additionally, strains are shown in Sydney’s and Tina’s love life, however these strains manifest themselves in different ways and are a relatively minor subplot.

There are a lot of things that this show does well. The acting in this show is generally pretty strong, with Alfred Molina, Ving Rhames, and especially Keong Sim (who does a bang up job portraying Sung Pak’s brusqueness). Similarly, the show excels in its surgery scenes, where stunning visuals help to create a tangible feel of tension throughout the show (Ty Wilson’s hands being completely covered in blood after a botched surgery was particularly resonant). Finally, the pilot does an excellent job of easing the viewer into the show, giving quick glimpses into most of the principle characters and the flow of the show before ratcheting up the tension about 20 minutes in.

The one thing I did not like was the way that sections of the dialogue felt particularly contrived. This was particularly evident whenever the show tried to inject a little comedy into the proceedings, as the show often would jam snarky one-liners into situations that don’t warrant them (the reference to a side character being referred to as “007” because he had a license to kill fell particularly flat to me). This is a shame because the show is so excellent at producing tension that the one-liners often kill the flow of the scene. The editing feels awkward at points, making a major emotional reveal (Dr. Napur’s boyfriend rescinding his proposal) come off wooden, with a surprisingly hard cut in the middle of Ridgeway’s reaction.

The show could also use some a little additional characterization since after the pilot the shorthand description of both female leads is “they’re married to their job, and it’s ruining their home life” (I admittedly should have seen this coming when TNT’s own website for the show only described each character with a sentence or two). Additionally, while the stars deliver, many of the side characters tend to come off very wooden, with often either a rushed delivery of lines, awkward capitulation to authority, or hammy overreaction.

The Final Verdict: Monday Mornings marks a return to form for David Kelley. It follows many of the aspects of an ER-style medical drama, but also can slide into a courtroom style drama when the focus shifts to room 311. It’s star studded cast generally delivers, especially Ving Rhames and Keong Sim, but it seems difficult for anyone to excel because the writing and editing generally feels lacking. It’s mediocre, but it has the benefit of being in a Monday 10 p.m. time slot that is not exactly the deepest in television.

 

RuPauls Drag Race Recap: Queens of Yesteryear

Rupauls Drag Race Season 5
Credit to- www.homorazzi.com
Rupauls Drag Race Season 5
Credit to- www.homorazzi.com

It’s RuPaul’s Drag Race time! Are you ready? Beat your mug and your loins girded for some drama!

Album Review: Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return

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toro-y-moi-anything-in-return

Toro y Moi          Anything in Return

Score          7.5/10

 

Similar Artists: Daft Punk, J Dilla, Caribou, Hot Chip, How to Dress Well, Miguel

Genre: Pop, Bubblegum, R&B, Hip Hop, Funk, Chillwave, Disco, House, Trance, Soul

 

As unprofessional as it may sound from a critical standpoint, I really tried to not like this album. I tried to dismiss the infectious bubblegum pop songcraft and titillating synths. I tried to find fault in the high pitched teenage vocals which are used unflinchingly in nearly every track. I was originally tempted to give this a low(er) score because of how corny and sour tasting the tracks can be, but if I’m being honest, through all of these critical thoughts, in the back of my mind I was thinking about how I couldn’t wait to play this music at a party. With mind blowing production and a plentiful amount of singles, this is a release you will want to test out in large groups at preferably spacious arenas. While previous full lengths “Causers of This” and “Underneath the Pine” may have been more visionary, this is more impressive, ambitious and massive.

With 3rd album, “Anything in Return”, Chaz Bundwick has reestablished himself as a bona-fide pop star comparable to contemporary R&B acts “Miguel” and “The-Dream”.  His voice has never sounded this spot-on and confident. One could imagine hearing many of these tracks on the radio, which couldn’t be said about Toro y Moi’s bedroom-leaning previous work. This new found radio-friendly style may cause some detractors, but will undoubtedly gain him more fans than he will lose. Much like Daft Punk’s move from Homework to Discovery, Toro y Moi is on his way from being an indie producer to a sold-out stadium act.

Chaz Bundwick has never quite fit in with his peers of the so-called “Chillwave” micro genre (a tag which he of course hates, despite the fact that he is known as one of its progenitors). He is too disco to be compared to Panda Bear, too hi-fi to be compared with Neon Indian, and way too serious and non self parodical to be compared to Ariel Pink. Although on first listen one might feel that Chaz is “having a laugh” when a track’s influences span five decades worth of pop music, you will soon realize there is no irony. This is both a positive and a negative, for it is what makes Toro y Moi original as well as why the music can be so off putting.

The album doesn’t quite have filler, but the first four tracks pretty much sum up the variety and breadth of influences offered throughout. The first of these, “Harm in Change”, contains shimmering piano chords reminiscent of something off of a “How to Dress Well” LP. First single, “Say That” is brilliant funk pop that exists as the album’s danciest moment. “So Many Details” is a few shades darker, and although its rhythms are not nearly as avant as its creator believes they are, it is still a welcome and memorable track. “Rose Quartz” mixes an assortment of perfectly placed vocal samples with a steady drum pulse and trance synths. If these first tracks are deemed the most exciting, the remaining nine are comparatively chill (save the emotional bombast of the last two).

So it turns out that I do like this album. Perhaps it is a testament to its artist’s supreme confidence that “Anything In Return” can exist outside its noticeable flaws and be seen as a perfect party record. When I listen on in the future, I’m not going to be thinking about what this album doesn’t have, I’ll be too busy enjoying it as the complete statement it is.

 

Track Listing:

1.) Harm In Change*

2.) Say That*

3.) So Many Details

4.) Rose Quartz*

5.) Touch

6.) Cola

7.) Studies

8.) High Living

9.) Grown up Calls

10.) Cake

11.) Day One

12.) Never Matter*

13.) How’s it Wrong*

 

* – Album Highlight

Raw Henry Wagons

Credit to Wagonsmusic.com
Courtesy of Wagonsmusic.com
Courtesy of Wagonsmusic.com

Henry Wagons’ EP “Expecting Company,” brings the vintage Johnny Cash sound back with a twist. Wagons, of Australia, expressively howls through the 7 track EP with the accompaniment of other vocalists on almost each track. It’s a trippy sound with raw vocals that are undeniably full of Western masculinity.

Wagons’ has carefully paired other vocalists on his tracks, where not to shadow his talent, but rather compliment each note. While I listened to the opening track, “Unwelcome Company,” I felt transported into Wagon’s and Alison Mosshart’s state of mind, which was probably altered by some sort of recreational supplement. It encompasses that 1960’s sound and channels the track “Jackson” by June and Johnny Cash, with a darker edge.

During “Give Thing’s a Chance to Mend,” I could not stop thinking about film. Initially I was confused why I felt I was in a movie and then it came to me. All I kept hearing was Nancy Sinatras “Bang Bang” in the female vocals section. I did a little research and found that this song with featured in the film Kill Bill. The similarities are almost frightening. The strum of the guitar progression, the sound of the vocals and even the tempo; it’s a good song, but I still feel the album altogether is missing something.

The track that saved it for me was “I Still Can’t Find Her.” It sounds original and catchy (yet not annoying) while keeping me interested. The track tells a story and is musically and lyrically captivating. It has that something that the other tracks don’t have, and for me that’s heart.

Don’t get me wrong, the other tracks on the album are good, but it feels like Wagons may be trying a little bit too hard. His problem is trying to balance being too cool with a sound of country and a side of raw rock and roll. Sometimes a little bit of everything doesn’t make an album commendable. He should stick to what he’s good at and that can ironically be found in “I Still Can’t Find Her.” Since it’s a short EP it’s fairly inexpensive, so give it a listen it’s at least worth the exploration into Wagons’ head.

Soothing Lunch after a rough Super Bowl Weekend~L’Ecole International Culinary Center Restaurant

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Cranberry Linzar Tart Dessert at L'Ecole International Culinary Center
Cranberry Linzar Tart Dessert at L'Ecole International Culinary Center

After Super Bowl weekend, Monday is always a rough day to get started. But, with lunch at L’ecole International Culinary Center it was a lot easier to roll out of bed and to get ready to start the work week all over again.

After 5 days in New Orleans enjoying the food and festivities the first thing that I asked about were the teas to sooth my scratchy throat. There was a very nice assortment of teas available. Lavender was featured a few times, and that happens to be one my favorite tea flavors that you do not see too often. The Yellow and Blue Tea hit the spot.

With the final days of restaurant week approaching I could not hold back from ordering a fatty pork belly appetizer. and the scallops with squid ink risotto.

The meal opened with a nice amuse bouche of yellow squash soup, finished with a smoked oil and chives. Exactly, what you want when walking in off of the frigid NYC streets and into the nicely lit and comfortable scenery of L’ecole has to offer. The soup was light and creamy. I would have greatly enjoyed a whole bowl of that.

Braised Pork Belly with Prune Glaze, Bulgur and Tomato vinaigrette
L’Ecole Braised Pork Belly Appetizer

The pork belly was fatty and succulent. My favorite little kick in the dis was certainly the small and flavorful bits of chorizo was was in the bright tomato vinaigrette. It was a nice surprise and helped to balance the dish. The pork belly was very tasty but could have been much tastier with some more of the fat rendered, and a crisp finish to contrast the other textures. This was easily with the crunch of the baguette that was already on the table. The acid from the vinaigrette and freshness from the herbs were not overpowered by the pork.

Seared Sea Scallops andLemon Jam, Squid Ink Risotto and Royal Trumpet Mushrooms
L”Ecole Sea Scallops Main Course

The main dish was the most disappointing point of the meal. The scallops were delicious and delicate. The lemon jam or lemon creme on tope of the scallops was just lacking some real punch or just some more of it. The lemon was delicious, just lacking. The trumpet mushrooms did not add anything to the dish. If anything they took away from it. They were hard to cut through. The grapes were bright and strong, and needed to be broken down further, but they really combined incredibly with the lemon on the scallop. They just needed to be broken down further to keep from taking away from the rest of the dish. I would have enjoyed the dish much more if that is were the description ended, but the squid ink risotto was just not good. The rice grains itself were undercooked and were not pleasant in my mouth. This risotto stiffened up very quickly and became a bit of a chewy paste.

Cranberry Linzar Tart Dessert at L'Ecole International Culinary Center
Cranberry Linzar Tart Dessert at L’Ecole International Culinary Center

The dessert was a cranberry linzer tart with a hazelnut ice cream. The ice cream was so creamy and decadent that I would have loved more, but thankfully the chef students provided portion control for me. The crusting on the tart was what I really enjoyed most, it was hearty while complementary to the tart berry compote filling. But my favoriate part of the dessert was not even a piece of what I ordered. It was the lemon bar that was served complementary.

L’Ecole is the restaurant extension to the International Culinary Center. The International Culinary Center is the educational home to many celebrity chefs tonight. And remembering that all of the food that left the kitchen was prepared from start to finish by students, it was quite enjoyable. The culinary  pastry and bread departments all combined for a great lunch. Although if this was a competition between the three departments. I would declare the bread department the winner. With the classic baguette being crisp and chewy all at the same time, it also added to one of the savory dishes.

Queen Coco, One-Hit-Wonder, & Warped Tour ’04: Inspirations & Secrets of HFC Style for Repeat Outfit Annonymous

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Nothing is more unhealthy and so last season than being a Repeat Outfit Addict.  HFC’s Repeat Outfit Addict is a babe who goes through the motions of wearing the same outfits with the only creativity of figuring out when she wore it last. FASHION TRAGEDY!  

Beyonce SHUT IT DOWN

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Credit to: huffingtonpost.com
Credit to: huffingtonpost.com
Credit to: huffingtonpost.com

Boy oh boy did Beyonce have a lot to live up to last night.  After being criticized since her supposed “lip sync” at the Inauguration a couple of weeks back, she knew she had to bring it hardcore to the Super Bowl.  So did she accomplish that? From my point of view and several millions of people, she freaking did.

The anticipation built as the 2nd quarter ended.  Coming out in a leather, dominatrix type outfit, she blew the stage up with several of her different hits from “Baby Boy” and “Crazy In Love”.  It was the only time during the entire show that I actually stood close to the television screen to get a better view as to what was going on.  I was HOOKED.  The best part of course was when her Destiny’s Child crew, Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland, popped out of nowhere to do “Bootylicious” and sing on her uber-huge hit “Single Ladies”.  Cue to me going ballistic.  Everything about the performance in itself was electrifying, as she herself is exactly that kind of an entertainer.  There was really no need for a zillion backup dancers, bands, or anything else to distract from what people really wanted to see- her.

This was an improvement by a million miles from the Black Eyed Peas two years ago, and even Madonna a year ago.  It seemed to flow a lot better than both of theirs and to silence her critics, she performed the whole damn thing live.  That is an arena that is very tough to do so, and she did it.  Freaking phenomenal.

According to ABCNews.com, she generated 5.5 million tweets (I made about 1.2 million of those), and many joked she was the one that caused the 34 minute power outage to happen as a result of how great it was.  There were also rumors of the triangle finger sign she gave to the camera.  Some people thought it meant illuminati (look it up), others thought it was designed for her hubby Jay-Z, who is known to make that kind of a symbol.

People who book the performers at the Super Bowl need to remember a night like tonight.  Quite frankly, since the Janet Jackson one back in 2003, and perhaps the Prince show a couple of years back, the halftime shows have been a snore fest based off of what i feel of them afraid to book younger performers.  There is nothing wrong with that, and there are several artists now that are an somewhat of a level that Beyonce is on and they can carry that kind of momentum.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a repeat of tonight in the years to come, but Beyonce once again proved why she is queen of the castle and will stay that way for a while.