(Top 101) #96. Sweetheart – Jermaine Dupri & Mariah Carey

April 30, 2009

Mariah CareyOver the years, many people have waged in verbal warfare over who was the Queen of Voice: Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey. Of course, it’s pretty much a moot point now, with Whitney not having hit a high note (literally) in years due to hard livin’, and with Mariah’s voice also quite diminished (no where as much as Whitney and she still knows her way around simple pop tunes, but she brought an otherwise solid E=MC2 to a truly-painful-to-listen-to finish with her croaking on “I Wish You Well”). But during their peak years, it was a still-relevant argument, although I think the decision is fairly clear: Whitney had the far more powerful voice.

But Whitney’s power also came at a price when it came to delivering pop songs. Her voice was so impressive that it was also rather intimidating, keeping a distance between her and the listener. Whitney’s songs were always about HER and what SHE wanted; it was never about WE or US. That quality worked for big rousing anthems, but it hampered Whitney on dance songs like “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” They’re solid tunes, but Whitney’s vocals remain all-business without the sense of fun and relatability that could’ve turned them into true pop classics.

Mariah, Jermaine, and Mrs. DupriMariah had no such problem. On her debut CD, she followed the outline of Whitney 101, belting out ballads impressively but also pretty forgettably. But from her second album on, she developed a quality in her voice that gave her a unique persona and united her and her listeners. That quality was simple, pure, unadulterated GLEE. In tracks like “Emotions,” “Fantasy,” and “All I Want For Christmas,” she’s singing from a bliss-filled heaven, knowing that she’s in love, and wanting, needing, caring about nothing else. And really, who HASN’T felt like that at one point or another? How could we not relate, even if from a wistful distance?

Of course, too much glee can be a bit too much at times, a bit too frothy, a bit too sugary, a bit too, well, girly. In “Sweetheart,” one of two Mariah appearances on the Top 101, that problem is solved with the playa-persona of Mr. Jermaine Dupri (Michael Jackson’s brother-in-law!). They complement each other perfectly on this track, Mariah giving the song its wings, and Jermaine keeping it firmly on the ground. There’s still glee all right, but it’s glee mixed in with grittiness. An excellent combination.

96 Sweetheart – Jermaine Dupri & Mariah Carey


Morning Countdown #4 (4/30/09)

April 30, 2009

Cowon IAudio S9 32 GB1) I’m So Excited – Le Tigre
2) I’ll Be There For You – Bon Jovi
3) Feed the Tree – Belly
4) One Evening – Feist
5) I Think I’m In Love With You – Jessica Simpson

BIG NEWS in Tommyland. I’ve made my first major purchases of 2009. First, I got myself a new tennis racket: the Dunlop Aerogel 300 (200,000 Korean Won=roughly $160). I had read it being recommended on the Tennis Warehouse forums, especially for people with one-handed backhands, and I thought it would help my game, which seemed to have plateaued for a while. Also, it’s the racket of choice for Tommy Haas and Tommy Robredo, so I thought I’d make it a Tommy trio.

After two weeks of playing (I play about three hours every Sunday before heading off to choir practice), I can tell you that it was worth every penny. The racket is considerably lighter and feels a lot more manageable than the Babolat Andy Roddick Pure Drive I had been using. The Babolat was heavy and powerful, but it’s hard to make quick adjustments with it when you’re caught off position. The biggest difference has come from my backhand drive, which feels a lot more consistent and secure. I needed more control (a la Janet Jackson), and that’s what I’ve got. Thank you, Dunlop.

The other major purchase was the newly released 32 gb model of the Cowon IAudio S9 MP3 player. I’ve been using it for the last week or so, and we’re in a musical honeymoon, I’m happy to say. My Sony Walkman was an excellent player, but it had one serious oversight: no on-the-go playlists. Not only does the S9 have no such problem, its sound is also considerably better than the Sony Walkman. It is, simply, the perfect player as far as I’m concerned.

Why? Oh, let me count the ways. Heavenly sound (I personally use the BBE VIVA setting). On-the-go playlists. Supports folder/file browsing. Amazing video screen, and the videos I had on my Viliv PMP worked on my S9 without any conversion necessary. Customizable UI, and I have to give a big shout-out to Claw from http://www.iaudiophile.net whose UI takes care of Cowon’s few oversights: no auto-resume & can’t erase the Favorites list with one click. The man is a genius.

This was the first Morning Countdown delivered by the S9, and it was actually a great batch of songs made even greater by the fantastic sound. Le Tigre got my morning off to a great, peppy start with “I’m So Excited.” The Pointer Sisters sang it as a declaration of female sexuality and liberation, but Le Tigre is all about fun, fun, fun, without worrying about ideologies and empowerment and not. In other words, the perfect start to any weekday morning.

Next came the Jersey Boys, aka Bon Jovi, and I actually whispered, “Ooh,” when “I’ll Be There For You” kicked in. I hadn’t heard it in ages, and it sounded just as good as it ever did. Bon Jovi never had the lyrical depth or subtle power of their state brother Bruce Springsteen, but they sure knew how to write killer rock choruses (something Bruce could’ve used a lot more since his “Born in the U.S.A” album).

Belly’s “Feed the Tree” didn’t seem to have aged quite as well. I remember a period when I was obsessed with the song and listened to it over and over, perhaps trying to decipher what the song’s actually about. I’m still not sure (though it’s probably kinky), but I don’t care now, and as such, the song’s lost much of its addictive power. Still a good song, though, just a bit of a letdown after the fantastic two before it (a minor Belly-flop, if you will).

Things went right back up with Feist and “One Evening.” The good thing about Feist is that while she makes gentle, easy-breezy (thanks, Cover Girl) music, she still recognizes the power of a good beat (pay attention, Norah). The song sways and carries you along on a gentle wave without ever boring you. Excellent.

Now, we’ve reached the most perplexing member on today’s list: the one-and-only Jessica Simpson. I think I’ve already confessed to having this song (and also “Public Affair”) on my MP3 player. I could say that ANY song would be made great by having the Jack-and-Diane sample, but that would be undermined by the fact “Jack And Diane” isn’t one of the John Mellencamp songs I have on my MP3 player. It’s really that there is something irresistible about a girl (perhaps not the smartest one) in glee over the fact that she’s really in love (or at least thinks she is) and willing to tell/sing it to the world. There’s something so simple and innocent about it; something that makes you smile and want to protect it. Although “I THINK I’m In Love” isn’t exactly the most emphatic declaration ever, Jessica really delivers with her vocals here (really the only time I’ve heard her conveying real emotion) and leaves absolutely no doubt what it is she’s feeling. Mock me if you must, but I can’t help myself; she wins me over.

Bon JoviThat being said, it’s not the best of this Morning Countdown. It’s a tough, tough bunch to choose from, but really, it comes down to a three-way between Le Tigre, Bon Jovi, and Feist (now there’s an image). Still, there can only be one winner (thanks, Tyra), and I’ve gotta go with Bon Jovi. Le Tigre’s got the fun kitsch factor; Feist’s got the authenticity; but Bon Jovi’s got the best of both worlds. They’re fun and campy in their own right (the tight jeans, the big hair), but they really ramped up the emotional voltage with this song. When I stood on the subway and heard Jon-Bon start wailing “I wanna be your VAAAAA-LEN-TINEEEEE,” I almost wished I smoked so I’d have a lighter to wave in the air. It’s that kind of song.

WINNER: Bon Jovi – I'll Be There For You


And the (80’s Teen Film) Oscar Goes To…

April 25, 2009

The Breakfast ClubThere’s a lot of complaining about the Academy Awards each year. I’ve done my own share of griping. I still haven’t got over Crash winning Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain. I mean, come ON! And don’t think I’m being gay-istic. I’m (almost) just as peeved that Mickey Rourke lost out to Sean Penn for Best Actor. Seriously, the Wrestler was AWESOME. Oh, and how in the world did Bruce Springsteen not get nominated for Original Song for that movie? Ugh…

A lot of complaints against the Academy revolve around particular genres of movies and how they’re respected enough. Comedies and comedians feel they get no respect. Animation lovers feel underrepresented. Indie fanatics claim they’re dogged by the big studio machines. Well, to all of them, I say CRY ME A RIVER. There is one genre that has NEVER been given one iota of respect and never will be, I’m afraid: The Eighties Teen Flick.

You don’t think I can hear you scoff from back there? Well, while it’s a true a lot of 80’s films were trash, some were indelibly trash-tastic, and a few were truly great movies, no matter what standard you place them under.

So without further ado, I give you the EIGHTIES TEEN FILM ACADEMY AWARDS!!!

Best Supporting Actress Nominees

Phoebe Cates “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” (THE most beautiful girl of the 80’s alongside Brooke Shields)
Shannen Doherty “Heathers” (Shannen convincingly playing a bitch? You don’t say!)
Mary Stuart Masterson “Some Kind of Wonderful” (She rocked the heck out of those drums and the chaffeur uniform)
Ally Sheedy “The Breakfast Club” (She was the first Riot Grrrl)
Lily Taylor “Say Anything” (She was the second)

Bring back any memories, you scoffers you? Already, we’ve got amazing performances from some undeniably awesome movies. This is a tough one. Phoebe and Lily’s roles aren’t quite big enough (although I always wished Lily would put out an album), and let’s face it, Shannen was just being Shannen (to give her an award would just encourage petulant behavior).

That leaves the Mary Stuart’s tough-as-nails-on-the-outside-but-filled-with-love-and-longing-on-the-inside act versus Ally’s… well, pretty much the same act. They both have incredible moments that have stayed with me after all these years. Who can forget Ally’s “dandruff as snow” masterpiece or her revelations that she’s not a nymphomanic but a compulsive liar. Mary Stuart suffers from the fact that “Some Kind of Wonderful” isn’t heralded as a classic the way “Breakfast Club” is, but I dare anyone who’s seen it to not having been moved when she finally receives those earrings, Eric Stoltz’s very “future,” at the end. She had to work so, so hard to get them, too. The kissing lesson, driving Eric and Lea Thompson on their date in spite of her jealousy, having to watch from afar in tears as they kiss.

Mary Stuart MastersonIt’s a tough, tough call, but I gotta go with Mary Stuart. Ally Sheedy gets all prettied up at the end, and although she gets the guy as a result, she loses her Goth power and becomes just another Pretty Girl. But Mary Stuart stays true to who she is and STILL gets exactly what she’s longed for so long. Now THAT’s true girl power.

Winner: MARY STUART MASTERSON

Best Supporting Actor Nominees:

Jon Cryer “Pretty In Pink” (DUCKIE! He got robbed at the end. Andrew McCarthy? I mean, come ON!)
Robert Downey, Jr. “Less Than Zero” (Played a drug addict convincingly; you don’t SAY!)
Anthony Michael Hall “Sixteen Candles” (And a comic prodigy is born; he was the Jim Carrey of 80’s Teen Flicks)
Judd Nelson “Breakfast Club” (He hollers and flares his nostrils throughout like he’s tried kimchi for the first time)
Sean Penn “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” (The ultimate beach bum/stoner/blond airhead archetype)

Sean PennNot as stellar a group as the ladies, in my opinion, but still pretty strong. But one man stands far above the others, and that’s Madonna’s ex-husband himself. He may not have deserved his recent Oscar for “Milk” (not that he wasn’t good, but again, The Wrestler was just awesome), but he sure deserves one for this performance. His performance, especially in his face-offs with that cranky teacher of his, was pure gold.

The Winner: SEAN PENN

John HughesThe John Hughes Best Director Award Nominees:

John Hughes
John Hughes
John Hughes… (you get the picture)

The Winner: JOHN HUGHES (The man basically directed the decade itself)

Best Actress Nominees:

Jennifer Jason Leigh “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” (her heavy performance kept her storyline from turning into an ABC Afterschool Special)
Molly Ringwald “Pretty In Pink” (She was, indeed)
Julia Roberts “Mystic Pizza” (Julia’s first starring role on her way to super Julia-dom)
Winona Ryder “Heathers” (A reluctant teen killer whose sharpest weapon was her wit and her tongue)
Daphne Zuniga “The Sure Thing” (Her response to a mooning pack of jackasses will live on in infamy)

The Eighties weren’t ripe with plum roles for women, but these five took theirs and made them work in a big way. Jennifer Jason probably lags a bit behind the others, because she was a bit TOO dark and heavy (it IS the 80’s we’re talking about). Julia and Daphne were both excellent, but really, it’s Molly and Winona who are at the top of the peak. “Pretty In Pink” is the ultimate Molly showcase, as she displays her full arsenal of eye-rolls, lip-bites, and shoulder-squarings as she fights the power (i.e. the “Richies”) to win the love of Andrew McCarthy (oh, why not Duckie, Molly?). As for Winona, she too displays every teen-girl mannerism known to man to great effect, the dead eye stares, the shrill voice filled with disbelief, the nervous smile dreading what’s going to come next in her involuntary killing spree.

Molly RingwaldIt’s possibly the toughest race to call, but in the end, I’ll take Molly. She was really at the peak of her fame and talent here, and the movie squarely depends on her shoulder pads, while Winona has the ample support of Christian Slater (at HIS peak) and the bitch crew of Heathers.

The Winner: MOLLY RINGWALD

Best Actor Nominees:

Matthew Broderick “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (Still a successful working actor, but probably still referred to as “that Ferris Bueller guy” more times than he’d care to hear)
Tom Cruise “Risky Business” (Boy, we haven’t heard much from THAT guy since then; have we?)
John Cusack “Say Anything” (The Robert De Niro of the 80’s at the peak of his powers)
Ralph Macchio “The Karate Kid” (Wax on, wax off!)
Christian Slater “Heathers” (It seemed at that time that he really WOULD be the next Jack Nicholson)

Again, they all have their moments. Ferris singing at the ticker tape parade in New York. Tom in his underwear. John, his boombox, and “In Your Eyes.” Ralph and that crane kick. Christian and his pee-inducing gun.

But it’s not that a big a contest in my book. Lloyd Dobbler is simply the most fully-realized GUY character in all of movie history. How could Diane Court or ANYONE not fall in love with him? Who wouldn’t want Lloyd standing outside their window playing “In Your Eyes”? Even now, I can’t help but sigh.

The Winner: JOHN CUSACK

And now the biggie…

Best Film Nominees:

The Breakfast Club (Everyone in the cast in full sync to full effect)
Heathers (Puts a dark, demented twist on the whole genre; it KILLS, literally)
The Last American Virgin (Has the most devastating ending in film history; PSYCHO wishes it were half as traumatic)
Lucas (Corey Haim and Charlie Sheen both seemed so innocent back then)
Say Anything (Again, two words: Lloyd. Dobbler.)

Classics, one and all. I’ve tried to be as objective as possible about this. Personally, I’ve actually watched “Some Kind of Wonderful” more than any other 80’s film for the glorious ending (I used to put it on constantly when I was working at a video store as a teenager, to the point that customers would turn to me and ask, “Again???”). But I can recognize its flaws (Eric Stoltz was way too stiff in the pivotal lead role), which kept it from being nominated.

Out of the list, “The Last American Virgin” may be the most questionable pick. But it’s a remarkable film, and its gradual transition in tone from unapolegetic 80’s trash-ness to emotional melodrama to an ending so unbelievable in devastation and cruelty (both to its main character and to the audience) puts it in a category all its own.

John CuzackThe remaining four are all absolute classics and deservedly heralded as such. But in the end, there must be a winner, and that’s Say Anything. It’s romantic, funny, and touching, but none of it feels contrived. It is, of course, a simple love story following the timeless storyline of Boy meets Girl, Boy loves Girl, Girl loves Boy, Evil Dad keeps them apart, Boy gets Girl back, Evil Dad goes to jail. But each step in that process is handled with utmost grace and tender loving care. A great example is the iconic boombox scene, which could have inspired a million Molly Ringwald-style rolling of the eyes if it wasn’t handled so artfully. And that’s just what Say Anything is without question: art. Remember that the next time you want to scoff away the Teen Films of the Eighties.

And now, so that we may re-live the Boombox Moment:

Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes

May we all find a Lloyd Dobbler of our own…


Morning Countdown #3 (4/25/09)

April 25, 2009

1) The World Is Mine –David Guetta
2) You Mean Everything To Me –Park Jung Hyun (aka Lena Park)
3) Whenever Wherever (or is it the other way around?) –Shakira
4) Come Undone –Duran Duran
5) Shower Me With Your Love –Surface

After my late-night cleanfest, I slept a grand total 90 minutes before I went to school for work. It’s actually the first time I stayed up so late before a workday, and I only did it because I wouldn’t be teaching the next day. Instead, the kids and I were to go off on a field trip to a science museum an hour away.

Still, I predictably felt zombie-licious on my morning subway ride. Fortunately for me, the first song that came up instantly grabbed my attention. Part of it was that I didn’t recognize it for quite some time. For some time, I thought it was a track from the new Depeche Mode album that I hadn’t really heard yet. I soon realized it was “The World Is Mine,” which is very dance-y but definitely has an underlying alternative vibe, reminiscent of Depeche and New Order.

The next song featured one of my favorite Korean singers, Park Jung Hyun, but it’s not one of her best efforts. It’s a nice enough song, but it threatened to lull me back into sleep which was NOT what I needed. I wasn’t any more moved by Shakira, whose performances I always end up enjoying more than her actual songs. Again, good song, but not great, especially in my less-than-ideal morning state of mind.

“Come Undone” did a lot to bring me back up. It’s a song from Duran Duran’s big comeback era, when “Ordinary World” brought them back (if only briefly) from stuck-in-the-80’s oblivion. I actually much prefer “Come Undone”: great melody, solid vocals from Simon, and one hook-ey chorus. It showed that Duran Duran could deliver without synthesizered help.

I actually smiled when I heard the beginning of the next song, “Shower Me With Your Love.” I hadn’t heard it in ages, and it’s such a pretty, pretty song sung by a even prettier voice. There’s just one problem. It’s also pretty damn repetitive, and by the 29th time I heard “Shower me with your love…” I was hoping the singer would be showered with something else entirely.

David GuettaSo the Final Two came down to David Guetta and Duran Duran. Two great songs, but the edge goes to Mr. Guetta because, well, the song has a lot more edge. It’s got the clashing of moods and vibes–not to mention a sense of impending doom–that characterizes a lot of my favorite music, especially that of the aforementioned Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys. That’s high praise indeed, but “The World Is Mine” deserves it, if only to actually wake me up enough to get through the day (which I did; however, that night, I ended up sleeping for 14 hours, my personal record in some time).

The Winner: David Guetta – The World Is Mine


TV Round-Up (American Idol, The Office & ANTM): Aminat Tells It Like It Is!

April 25, 2009

AMERICAN IDOL:

In many ways, this was the week that American Idol got serious. With two contestants being eliminated, the overall vibe was let’s-get-to-business. There were no cute video profiles before performances, and even Ryan kept his babbling to a minimum.

Lil started the show with a good rendition of “I’m Every Woman.” Just one problem: good simply isn’t good enough at this stage. With seven genuinely talented singers (no what-the-hell-is-he-or-she-doing-here in the bunch), you have to wow ’em, and well, Lil didn’t. She hasn’t given us a reason to choose to listen to her when we can just put on Mary J. Blige or Beyonce.

Kris was next, and he emphasized Lil’s weakness–lack of originality–by displaying his individual style in abundance. His “She Works Hard For Her Money” sounded fresh and completely modern. He made it his OWN, as the judges often say. Well done, Kris.

Also solid this week was Danny, whose performance was filled with energy. Up to now, Danny’s followed pretty much the same formula every week: start off slow and sensitive then build things up to a big, husky crescendo. With each succeeding week, that big payoff became less and less effective because you knew exactly what was coming. This week, he changed things around by keeping things uptempo throughout, and the change really helped. The judges seemed to love Alison, but I think she has the exact same problem as Danny. She’s great, but she’s become predictable. She needs to show another side of her, perhaps something softer, something more vulnerable.

As for Adam, no one would ever accuse him of not showing range. Seriously, has he EVER. This week, he just stood there as he sang, but he was simply, in a word, MESMERIZING. There was a moment in the middle when it dawned on me, “He’s going to win,” pure and simple. I started feeling for Kris upon realizing this, but I believe Kris is going to have a solid career as a MUSICIAN regardless. Adam’s destiny is to be a STAR, and as such, it would mean more for his career to win as well.

The final two performers were Matt and Anoop. And they were both good, but similar to Lil, they’re just not at the level of the others. Matt sang and danced up a frenzy–at times looking he was having a seizure–but that something-extra quality was simply not there. I can certainly understand people liking him; but I can’t imagine anyone being awed by him. And ditto for Anoop, who’s again good but not great, at least not yet. And those botched notes at the very end certainly didn’t help.

In the end, it was the end for Lil and Anoop as announced on the result show (For Idol Conspiracy Theorists: Did anyone else catch that it was Danny and Adam who were flashed at the end of the split-screen montage introducing the results show?). I’m certainly going to miss them (more for their personalities than for their performances), but really, it was their time. And next week, I predict it will be Matt’s time. After that, it’s not gonna get good; it’s gonna get GREAT!

THE OFFICE:

So we saw the end of the Michael Scott Paper Company. I guess it couldn’t go on forever; still, I was sorry to see the storyline go. It made for some awesome moments, including the Breakfast Club-style bonding moment shared between Michael, Pam, and Ryan. Things seemed to get wrapped up a bit too neatly, a bit too fast. Regardless of what happens from now, the show needs to put more focus back on all of the supporting characters. How I miss Angela’s bitchery, Toby’s weariness, and Chet’s dementia.

Favorite moments: The Korean church bus gag (I can confirm that the bus read “Scranton Hallelujah Church”) and this yet-to-be-completed quote from Michael: “Oh, how the turntables…”

AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL:
Aminat
Like I’ve said before, the show is about modeling as much as Superman is about the mechanics of flying, so I don’t exactly concern myself with the actual aspects of modeling when watching the show. Still, I have to mention how much it boggles me that Aminat can look so stunning in interviews and judging then look so downright plain in her photos. With her features, I wouldn’t have thought it possible even if she were trying to do it on purpose. Regardless, she is honest to a fault, and her interviews are far more than interesting than any one else’s.

In the end, Aminat survived and Natalie is now gone, ostensibly for her lack of variety but more probably for the sin of being even more arrogant and full of herself than Queen Tyra. Quite a feat, that.

Favorite moments: During judging, Natalie was trying to shift the blame to Mr. Jay, which brought on Interrogation Time from Officer Tyra. “For fifty frames. Did Jay want you to do the exact same thing for fifty frames?” Natalie brazenly answered “He DID,” which Tyra answered with an “Uh–kay” and a classic oh-you-are-SOOO-going home look on her face. The other moment? This just-a-bit-blunt quote from Aminat: “I want this more than a fat kid wants cake.” She should win for that quote alone.


Tommyland Hall of Fame: Endless Love (the Novel)

April 23, 2009

Endless LoveI’m not much of a cleaner, far from it. I’m the type that lets gather and collect dust before going on manic cleaning episodes periodically. Tonight was one of those times, which explains why I’m still up at 4:30 a.m. I’ve just finished up the main work, which consisted mainly of vacuuming (hair, hair, everywhere hair) and pouring Coke out of bottles (I can’t really drink much soda after my Nissen Fundoplication surgery eight months ago, but Korean delivery guys always bring a Coke bottle with the food) then taking the bottles out to recycling.

Another task was to throw away the things I don’t really need, so I spent a good deal of time dividing my stack of books into the “Keep” pile and the “Sell To the Used Bookstore” pile. Some darn good books ended up on the “Sell” pile, like Kazuro Ishiguro’s “Remains of the Day,” Thomas Hardy’s “Return of the Native” (but I’m holding on to his “Trumpet-Major”), and Jon Krauker’s “Into the Wild,” which I recently read and quite possibly instigated tonight’s clean-up on a subconscious level (Throw away material goods; simplify your life; walk into the wild with nothing that can’t fit in your backpack!). They’re all great books, but they’re not quite at the level of those books that I know I’ll be reading and re-reading for the rest of my life. At the top of that list in Endless Love, written by Scott Spencer.

I read “Endless Love” when I was seventeen (the same age as the protagonist, David Axelrod). I had found a used copy at a thrift store and bought it for 89 cents. And the book changed my life–for better or worse–to the very core.

To describe the book in simple terms, it’s a love story. The teenaged David falls in love with a girl named Jade Butterfield, and they fall into a love so intense that it both inspires and frightens those around them, which finally leads Jade’s parents to try to separate them, if only for a short while. David can’t bear the idea of separation, even one that’s temporary, and he makes a rash decision to bring himself back into the Butterfield’s good graces. The unintended result is disaster, and the book subsequently describes David dealing with the shattered pieces of his life (not very well) and trying at all cost to find where Jade is (he’s more successful here).

“Endless Love” is a love story, but it’s one without fantasy bullshit. It speaks to the power of love, but it also refuses to look away from the very horror of love. Scott Spencer never turns David into an ideal romantic hero or archetype; most readers likely find him both remarkable and grotesteque. There’s a great conversation between David and Jade (one of many) when he frankly admits that his love for her is greatly based on self-absorption, if not downright selfishness:

Jade: Oh, you’re just going to argue. You don’t see what I see. And it’s just as well. I need a nonegotistical man. They’re hard to find, you know.

David: I’m not nonegotistical.

Jade: Pretty much.

David: Not at all. No matter what happened, and no matter what people said about me, I wanted to be with you.

Jade: That’s not egotism.

David: Yes, it is. Because I thought I deserved it. Me and no one else.

Jade: You’re going to make me cry.

David: Why?

Jade: Because you touch me where it’s always tender.

I read “Endless Love” before I had experienced love myself, and it left an imprint on my heart that set in stone what kind of love my heart would be willing to accept for the remainder in my life. Nothing casual. None of “he seems nice; let’s try it and see how this goes.” No, I wanted nothing less than a clashing of destinies that would hurt just as bad as it felt good. I wanted every fiber of my being turned inside out. Is it really a surprise that I’m single now? Not. At. All.

None of the book’s life-changing power made it over to the film version, which is notable for only two things: 1) the painting-like beauty of Brooke Shield’s face & 2) the title song performed by Diana Ross and Lionel richie. “Endless Love” the song had standard love-is-wonderful lyrics, which really had nothing to do with the novel’s story of love leading to insanity and mass destruction. Still, if you take the novel out of the equation, the song works for its sweetness and strong vocals from Diana (thin but very pretty voice) and Lionel (the man can SING).

So if you equate love with Hallmark sentiments as well as flowers and rainbows, feel free to download the song and sing along. But if you want to dig deeper and darker into this thing called love and aren’t afraid to see what’s in your own heart, then go on and read the book. You may never be the same again. I know I wasn’t.

P.S. I’ll upload “Endless Love” (the song) later today. It’s 5:45 A.M., and I’ve gotta get some shut-eye before I do anything… EDIT: Done and done.

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie – Endless Love


Tennis Talk: Roger & Andy Wed (not to each other), Novak Gets Oiled Up…

April 22, 2009

Novak Djokovic is a pompous ass a lot of times, but no one can say he doesn’t have a sense of humor. Check out his new commercial for Head. It cracked me up.

And congratulations to newlyweds Roger Federer and Andy Roddick and their respective spouses (Mirka & Brooklyn)!

Andy Roddick
Roger & Mirka