Friday, January 13, 2006

Hit the shlopesh

Of course it is wrong for a sports icon to seem to advocate drunken skiing, as Olympic hopeful Bode Miller did on "60 Minutes" last Sunday. But let's be honest: people ski drunk all the time. I have skied at fancy Rocky Mountain slopes, as well as at their humble Midwestern cousins, and I do not recall ever visiting a ski resort that did not have a bar, or several bars.

Indeed, one Western resort I visited -- I believe it was Keystone, in Colorado -- had a bar halfway up the mountain, accessible only by ski lift. So you're supposed to walk down? And what about products like this, the ski pole-cum-liquor flask? Har har.

Drinking has long accompanied skiing, and the reason you seldom hear any hue and cry about it is that skiing is primarily a sport of the wealthy, who look after themselves. So shame on Bode Miller for skiing wasted, and thank goodness he wasn't hurt or worse, but it's not as though he's the only one.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I want my

Among the many pleasures of TiVo has been revisiting music videos, those elaborately staged and choreographed clips that accompany the chart hits. Youngsters today probably don't realize how drastically videos changed the pop scene after MTV debuted in 1981, since these days the channel is a miasma of reality programming and consigns videos to the very wee hours.

Which is where TiVo comes in. I have taken to recording MTV's overnight video program, "MTV After Hours," as well as VH1's "Fresh," and it has been fun getting caught up. I'm particularly fond of Madonna's "Hung Up," which sees the Material Girl working up a dance routine back in the studio, then trying it out in a nightclub filled with whirling youths, some of whom she makes out with. Gritty and not a little mysterious, and set to a marvelous sample from Abba's "Man After Midnight," "Hung Up" proves that Madonna -- a key, perhaps the key, pioneer of music videos -- still is a master of the format.

Other favorites: Ashlee Simpson's "L.O.V.E.," in which our heroine tosses a cellphone into the toilet, then struts with a cane and parties with her suburban friends (many of them whirling youths, like in the Madonna video -- most videos seem to have breakdancing now); Nelly's "Grillz," a tribute to orthodontic devices that are encrusted with jewels and precious metals; and Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You," wherein the chanteuse argues furiously with her man and then, after some disturbing flashbacks to her childhood, reconciles with him. (I'm a giant fan of Kelly Clarkson.)

But best of all are a pair of videos for "Heard 'Em Say," the track by Kanye West and Maroon 5's Adam Levine. The song is a sad meditation on urban woes, and one of the clips, animated by Bill Plympton, shows a family taking a cab ride through a hellish, disarmingly whimsical cityscape. In the other video, made by "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" director Michel Gondry, West and a gang of homeless children spend the night in a department store overseen by a nervous security guard played by Levine. The group tries out various of the creature comforts for sale -- they levitate through the aisles, at one point -- before settling down to sleep in one of the floor-model beds.

Both clips are haunting commentaries on poverty. You can catch them at 3 am or so on your local cable music station.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Good word

"They say people in your life are seasons
And anything that happen is for a reason"

-- Kanye West, "Heard 'Em Say"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Jesus was a Capricorn

And so am I. Today I turn 35!