Monday, February 14, 2011

Post-Grammy Thoughts

This post is a day overdue but I thought writing about the Grammys could be fun. Here are a few thoughts that are still with me, the morning after the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards:

1. I am THRILLED that Justin Bieber didn’t win last night. Since I was accused of being a closet Bieber fan, I want to state clearly here: I DO NOT like him or his music. Frankly, I have cats that could write better song lyrics. To finally put that nasty rumor to rest, my most recent “guilty pleasure” artist is Lady GaGa.

2. Speaking of Lady GaGa, I was underwhelmed by her Grammy performance. Perhaps it’s a case of setting the bar too high but I really expected a more flamboyant show from her. The egg was an interesting idea but I expected it to build from there.

3. By the way, what was wrong with the crowd at the Grammys? Why the lackluster response to The Mick? When Mick Jagger asks if you’re having a good time, you scream until the roof collapses. I don’t care HOW big a star you are! (And, I love that Cyndi Lauper and LL Cool J were both in the front row and rockin’ out while Mick strutted. That’s the way to do it!)

4. I’m still mulling over the supergroup Letterman proposed in his top ten list, which was “Lady Antebellum + Lady GaGa = Lady Antegagem”. What would we call that genre of music? Country Glam? Glamtry? Would it finally break “the lavender ceiling” at the Grand Ol’ Opry? And, can someone send me a mashup of “I Need You Now” and “Telephone”? Pretty please?

5. And, speaking of glam, I’m still not sure what to think about Cee Lo Green’s performance with Gwyneth Paltrow. I kind of liked it because it reminded me of Elton John’s appearance on The Muppet Show, back when he was still flamboyant (before he started writing Broadway and film scores and was knighted). But, I’m not a “Glee” fan so I don’t know if Paltrow’s inclusion was really necessary. I do know the performance made me think I’d accidentally taken drugs, which frightened me.

6. Speaking of drugs, I must give a huge shout-out to Rob Thomas. He was tweeting as he watched the Grammys last night, even though he usually doesn’t watch awards shows. Talk about some interesting insights and some outright hilarious quips. His comments on Marc Anthony were priceless. Following his feed is an excellent reason to have a Twitter account.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

I’ve been thinking a lot about guilty pleasures the last few days. No, not the really deep, dark “secret pleasures” of the x-rated variety. Frankly, that’s a topic that I’d rather not consider, let alone discuss, on my blog. What people do in the privacy of their own homes isn’t of interest to me. I don’t want to hear about anyone’s secret fantasies or favorite bedroom activities. Oddly, though, people are always confiding things like that to me and I have no idea why. But, I digress.

Instead, I’m talking about those, “Gee, I’d be so embarrassed if anyone knew I listened to this musician or watched that TV show”-type of guilty pleasures. My ruminations were prompted by some new songs Jen and I bought and downloaded the other evening. Several of the songs were ones I selected by an artist I swore I would never own (and who shall remain unnamed). Glancing through our music collection, Jen started teasing me about the playlist I could create with the title “Guilty Pleasures.” Somehow, I’ve collected a fairly decent list of songs and musicians that I’d be embarrassed for my friends to know I liked.

Some of the songs that fit within that category are songs like, “Guitarzan” by Ray Stevens. It’s a silly song I remember fondly from my childhood. But, it’s not a song I want coming on while I’m driving with the windows down or when a friend rings the doorbell. Knowing my luck, I’d be belting that song at the top of my lungs, glance over and see my boss’s boss sitting in the car next to me, watching me. And, that’s when I want to crawl under the seat and hide.

Other songs that would fit into my “guilty pleasures” playlist are songs and musicians I’m too old to like but, somehow, have acquired. This category includes that unnamed artist and a whole host of others, including artists like The Backstreet Boys. Yes, I confess it. I liked some of their songs. I still do, in fact, and think they’d make a dandy addition to a “guilty pleasures” playlist. However, I certainly don’t want my friends or family dropping by while I have their music cranked and am singing and dancing around the living room.

Perhaps the bigger question is, why am I afraid to own my “guilty pleasures”? That is, why does the thought of someone teasing me about them bother me? Would my family and friends really tease me if they knew I liked those musicians and TV shows? And, why do I care if people do mock or tease me?

After all, I’ve been teased and mocked most of my life. In fact, I often think I deliberately invite that sort of good-natured ribbing. I’ve always considered myself to be an iconoclast, a bit of a lone wolf, someone who has always bucked the trends and marched to a different drummer. I’ve embraced and even cultivated that image, hoping to make it reality. So, if I am proud of my individuality (and I am), then why would I worry if someone thought my musical choices or TV programs were silly? I like them and I don’t really care if others don’t. So, why be shy about sharing my interests?

I don’t really have any answers to those questions. But, I plan to consider them at greater length. I think finding answers to those questions may help me in my larger goal for 2011 and my 39th year on the planet. That goal is to gain a better understanding of myself in order to live more authentically, with greater insights into what will make me happy, what I want to do with my talents and how I can use them to help others.

To close this post, I’ll ask my readers: What are you guilty pleasures? Which TV shows or musicians do you like but never want to admit? And, more importantly, why do you like them? What do they give you that other shows or musicians don’t?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Inspiration in Troubling Times

Over the last couple of weeks, pro-democracy groups in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt have protested corrupt governments. In response to the unrest, some leaders have left while others have promised to step down from their positions when their current terms are complete. Other nations, including Jordan, have taken steps to remove corrupt governments simply because they feared civil unrest like that seen in Egypt. The western nations, while encouraging democracy, are concerned that Islamic extremist parties will step into power in these troubled places and increase the number of states that sponsor terrorism.

Frankly, I think the West needs to stay out of these disputes and finally walk our talk. That is, we claim we want everyone to live under democracy but we don’t admit that we think democracy must look like America’s version. Our version of democracy, while appropriate for us, may not work for everyone. And, I’m sick of our government propping up dictators because we fear a democratically elected Communist or Islamic extremist government. We simply need to step aside and let other peoples choose the course and government that suits their needs. This isn’t a case where one one correct form of democracy exists. Many forms are possible, and we must finally allow others to choose a version different from ours.

In these confusing and troubling times, I found myself drawn to watching epic, award-winning films. This past week, I screened “Gandhi”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Something the Lord Made” and “Glory”. And, I may still watch “Schindler’s List”. Each of these films examines the human condition and the courage it takes to stand firm for an ideal. In times like these, when the world nervously watches Middle Eastern and African nations set a new, undefined course, literature, film and theatre may serve as escapes from the troubling events on the news. And, they can also model how one chooses a new course and stands on a principle.