Happy Birthday, Carol Channing!

Attention world:

Today is Broadway broad Carol Channing’s 912th birthday! Okay, really she’s only 89, but I feel like this woman has been old for forever! Though I’ve never cared for her abrasive voice or looks, there’s no denying she’s truly one-of-a-kind and a legend in her own right.

Hello, Dolly!  You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’, you’re still goin’ strong.  Cheers, Carol!

“Soon…I want to.” (See this revival, that is.)

Since it was announced all those months ago that Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury would be playing Desiree and Madame Armfeldt in the new Broadway revival of Sondheim’s liltingly beautiful A Little Night Music, I’ve been simply dying to see it.  I fell in love with Night Music a few years ago and have become increasingly more in love with it as I’ve gotten older.  I love the structure of the music (every song is written in a variation of waltz time: 3/4, 6/8, 9/8, 12/8…meters with a triple feel.), the story, and of course, Sondheim’s always brilliant lyrics.  I’ve always felt Night Music was a bit underrated in Stephen Sondheim’s canon of work, perhaps even forgotten in the shadow of his masterpieces Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park With George, but it’s truly a musical as lovely and delicate as the lace on the country dresses of its female characters.

Having seen Ms. Lansbury in her Tony Award-winning role (well, her fifth, that is) as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit last year, I’m absolutely ravenous to see her in a musical.  I’ve listened to her sing “the Worst Pies in London” and “Beauty and the Beast” a few too many times to count, so I feel it would be like fulfilling a life-long dream to see and hear this phenomenal lady live in a musical.  Not only that, but I adore Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Luckily, I’ll be in New York City in mid-March, so I’m planning on making a trip to the Walter Kerr Theatre to see it, and I can’t wait!

The Skinny on Skinny Celebs

Yesterday as I was scanning MSN, reading the news, I came across a link to a featured article on Newsweek.  The article is entitled Unattainable Beauty: The Decade’s Biggest Airbrushing Scandals. It’s an excellent discussion about our current society’s (and Hollywood’s) obsession with unhealthy body standards and just how far magazines are willing to go to promote these standards.  It also dissects every featured photo, listing each body part that had been photoshopped and what procedure had been used.

Photoshop is nothing new in magazine publishing or Hollywood.  Since the advent of computers, photographers have been using these kinds of programs to get rid of everything from blemishes to weird scars.  Nowadays, however, editors have become even more vulture-ish when it comes to finding and eliminating “flaws,” giving electronic liposuction and boob jobs in an effort to “perfect what must be perfected.”  Through the magic of computers, we’re now able to create superhuman beauties, goddesses, if you will, who have no imperfections whatsoever.  They appear to be so effortlessly beautiful that it almost makes you sick to your stomach every time you look at them: smooth, firm skin, tiny waists, cascading hair, perfect breasts.

Unfortunately, most young women (even some older ones) don’t know the extent of the photoshopping and airbrushing done on the photos of their favorite female celebs.  Teenagers are snapping these magazines up because the cover stories often promise that with a few simple diet or beauty tricks, they too can “look like their favorite cover girls!” Older women too seek the promise of bettering themselves through “secret celebrity diet tips,” but the real secret diet tip is just the click of a computer mouse.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a major media storm about a photo of sultry Mad Men star Christina Hendricks at the Golden Globe Awards.  A fashion blogger for the New York Times  altered the photo to make the curvaceous actress appear even wider to prove a point that “you don’t put a big girl in a big dress.”

The altered photo of Henricks appears on the left, and the original photo appears on the right. Note how the photo on the left appears squished  to make her look wider.  Also note that the colors of the altered photo are distorted and make Hendricks’ already porcelain skin look even more translucent.

Yes, Christina Hendricks has a voluptuous body, but she’s not fat, people.  She has a naturally tiny waist and beautiful skin!  Look at the dramatic red lips!  The gorgeous, fiery hair!  Actual hips.  Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, and Kate Winslet have them too.  They’re all incredibly gorgeous and completely uncompromising when it comes to altering their photos.

If this is considered “fat,” then sign me up!

Body image perception is so completely off these days.  If an actress doesn’t have a pencil for arms or a size zero waist, she’s automatically considered “curvy.”  By today’s standards, sex symbols like Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch would be considered practically obese.  What happened to embracing flaws and having hips?  When did it stop being okay to just love your real body?  Young girls are inundated with these false, photoshopped images every day, everywhere and they’re learning that they’ll never be perfect until they look like these images.  This is damaging and dangerous.  We’re basically endorsing eating disorders and plastic surgery procedures that strip these girls of their true beauty and turn them into self-absorbed, vapid creatures like this woman.

It’s time to start a revolution.  We need to embrace our bodies, ladies.  Embrace our scars, our hips, our tiny or big boobs, our real waistlines.  Your body is perfect the way it is and don’t let any photoshopped celebrity tell you differently.

You are beautiful.

Johnny Depp LIVES. Phew!

When I logged onto my Twitter account several days ago, my heart literally almost stopped as I looked at the list of trending topics on the right side of my computer screen.  The second most trended topic of the day?

“RIP JOHNNY DEPP.”

I could feel the tears starting to well up in my eyes.  Was my favorite male actor of all-time really, dare I say, deceased?  I hurriedly clicked on the link and scanned my eyes down the page of tweets.  As I started to read, pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

Apparently, someone had created a fake CNN page claiming the actor had died in a car accident…back in 2004.

It was all quite the elaborate HOAX.  Johnny Depp is alive and well.

The fact that people believed this website simply because it was designed to look like CNN’s and didn’t check the actual web address at the top is kind of ridiculous.  Not only that, but they felt it necessary to nearly cause worldwide female heart failure by creating a Twitter storm announcing the death of our favorite Sexiest Man Alive!  ALWAYS CHECK the web address, people.  It’s the most obvious way to tell fakes.

Anyway, as I looked through the tweets of fans and well-wishers, I was struck by the outpouring of love for Johnny from around the world.  I wasn’t the only one out there who would have been seriously heartbroken by the loss of one of the finest actors of our time (not to mention most smolderingly handsome).  It made me realize how much people like Johnny do affect our lives, whether we realize it or not.  We trust people like him with our emotions every time we pay to see them in movie theatres or on our television screens.  We invite them willingly into our lives to provide us with laughter and tears and maybe even catharsis for situations in our life we can’t really explain.  That’s kind of a beautiful thing, isn’t it?  It’s part of the magic of the arts.

To wrap up, I’m just happy my beloved Johnny Depp is still among the land of the living and ready to promote his upcoming role as the Mad-Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, his seventh collaboration with director Tim Burton.  No doubt it will give us all plenty to talk, or erm, tweet about!

Flight 815 Crash in Real Time

Fellow LOST fans, I give you the coolest fan-made video I’ve ever seen!  It’s the Oceanic 815 crash in REAL TIME.  The author (editor?  I don’t know what to call him.) edited together clips from several episodes to show how Desmond, the Others, and our Oceanic gang all experienced the big crash.  Today, Damon Lindelof featured it on his Twitter, so now I must pass it on to all of you:

Pretty awesome, right?

Down the Rabbit-hole

Tim Burton is one of the few true auteurs left in Hollywood.  To watch one of his films is to enter into a world that is entirely his own.  His films are full of contrast: grey-scale and vibrant color, darkness and whimsy, macabre and pleasant, real and fantasy.  Audiences react accordingly: either they love his work or they hate it.

I happen to be a big fan of Burton’s films, having seen almost all of them (Though I still haven’t seen Ed Wood).  While I’m far too tired to dissect my favorite of his directorial projects (Edward Scissorhands and the underrated Big Fish among them) in this post, I would like to mention how excited I am that the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is featuring a new exhibit on Burton’s drawings and filmography.  The exhibit runs through April 26, 2010, and “brings together over seven hundred examples of rarely or never-before-seen drawings, paintings, photographs, moving image works, concept art, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, and costumes.”  Luckily, I’m going to be in Manhattan for a week in mid-March, so I’m really looking forward to checking this out!

P.S.—If you’re planning to see the exhibit, the MoMA suggests you purchase your ticket in advance due to the limited gallery occupancy and high number of patrons.

P.P.S.—If you’ve still got a student I.D., use it!  Most of the museums in New York offer good discounts on tickets for students.

An Open Letter to Luke Wilson’s Agent

Dear whomever books acting jobs for Luke Wilson:

Once upon a time, the youngest Wilson brother was an earnest and endearing character actor who starred in hip films like Bottle Rocket (see trailer below) and The Royal Tenenbaums (nevermind that I sometimes mistake him for Wes Anderson’s other favorite quirky, endearing character actor/leading man, Jason Schwartzman).  In fact, back in those days, it was your client, Luke, that was the more famous Wilson brother.  He was the rising star with the good looks (albeit a strange nose like his brother) and hilarious personality.  Luke was a bigger name than Owen in those days.  Hard to believe now, but you know it was true.

And then it happened.  You started booking poor Luke in jobs befitting semi-recognizable TV sitcom stars looking to make use of their “comedy skills” during their off-months.  My Super-Ex Girlfriend?  Idiocracy?  These are horrible blotches on this remarkably likable guy’s professional resume.

To make matters worse, he’s now starring in the ever-ubiquitous AT&T cell phone ads.  I realize that these ads are meant to be funny, but every time they come on, I find myself saddened by the fact that you have failed to find your client a better job more worthy of his talents.  At his best, Luke Wilson is a delightful character actor of charm and sincerity who’s not afraid to play outrageous characters.  Use this to your advantage.  Quirky is popular these days!  My suggestions?  Why not try to get him a guest-starring role on something like The Office or Modern Family? Both these shows thrive on their more offbeat yet completely endearing supporting characters.  He could be really funny!

In short, please find the man a better job.

A fan,

Emmy