Friday, March 27, 2009

Britney, Live!

On Tuesday, I attended the Britney Spears concert at the Verizon Center with 4 friends. So yeah, she’s not that great (or even that good) a singer, and yeah her life has imploded a couple times, and yeah, she’s richer than any 27 year old has a right to be…but you know what? I like singing along her to music so just shut it with the “blah blah Britney sucks blah.”

Any girl who tells you she has never rocked out to a Britney Spears song is lying.

Anyway, we decided to brave the vicious tweens (more on that later) and see if the reality of a Britney show could live up to the hype.

Quick review: Great show.

Ok, more in-depth thoughts: first off, my only real disappointment with the show was that they did not have large screens set up to allow for close-up views of the action. But I think the logistics would have been too difficult to pull this off. Mainly because the concert was performed in the round. The center of the Verizon Center contained three rings (the tour is named after her newest album called “Circus,” natch) and the entire space was utilized. I think having cameras try to capture all the action would have been impossible. However, this meant we couldn’t see any details of Britney herself; we were in the cheap seats and honestly it could have been some chick in a blonde wig and we wouldn’t have know the diff.

While it was pretty clear Britney was using a pre-recorded track, I can’t really fault her. There was a lot of dancing in that show and I can’t imagine anyone moving as much as she did and being able to sustain vocals that sounded anything close to good. (Side note: the Pussycat Dolls were the opening act, and as much as I find them kind of heinous, I was impressed by their ability to furiously dance and sound good…they were clearly singing live).

More on the dancing, in the beginning, it didn’t seem like Brit-Brit did all that much moving, but by the middle of the show she had hit her groove and was working it. A lot of her costume choices were questionable though (as you can see from the pics I have included).

But the coolest thing wasn’t even Britney. Continuing with the circus theme, the show included, dancers (duh), contortionists, acrobats, aerial stunts, guys on stilts, everything except live animals. Say what you want about Britney, but she know how to put on a show.

As for the songlist, I was surprised by how many of her songs came from her album Blackout that preceded Circus. She did the singles from Circus of course (opened the show with Circus, closed with Womanizer, and hit If U Seek Amy in the middle), but the majority came from Blackout with a few In the Zone songs thrown in. The only “classic” numbers I can think that she performed were Hit Me Baby (One More Time), remixed to awesome effect, Boys, and I’m A Slave 4 U. The only song that I could tell she sang live was a slower one, Everytime, and she sounded fine.

Regarding those vicious tweens, we definitely saw a brief fight break out before the show during the Pussycat Dolls. Two groups of girls converged with much yelling over who was sitting in whose seat. Cries of, “let me see your ticket!,” “let me see your ticket!, “ Bitch, don’t touch me!” were exchanged and then a brief shoving match occurred. I think they all figured out that shoving each other while standing like a hundred rows up from the floor was a bad idea and people seemed to calm down.

I was disappointed nobody pushed that drunk bitch who was dressed up as schoolgirl Britney down. She kept making us get up and down so she could walk past us to the aisle, and then started smoking in the middle of the show. But then she tripped and almost fell down the stairs, so that made me feel better. She was wasted.

All in all, like I said, it was a great show. Entertaining, definitely. I wasn’t expecting a performance of say, Kelly Clarkson proportions, but that’s not Britney’s shtick. For what it was, it was great, and I would definitely see her again.

I’m still only paying for the cheap seats though. I mean, I have some standards.

By the way, if you want to see even more concert pics and some more ridiculous outfits from the concert, go here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Heavy Tomes

For the past two weeks, I've been reading Normal Mailer's book, The Executioner's Song. I finished it last night at 9:47 pm and did a little happy dance. Why? Because the thing is 1,050 freakin pages long. Getting through it all felt like a real accomplishment.

After finishing it, I realized that there are very few huge books I have tackled in my life. Now, I'm a big reader; I usually go through two or so books a week, especially since I spend so much time reading during my commute (I'm a public transportation kind of girl). Despite this, I don't usually gravitate towards the really long books.

I tend to stay away from biography and other non-fiction books. (except for true crime). I read for pleasure, and I find fiction to be more fun. And it seems like those big books are either non-fiction or Russian lit, and sorry, Tolstoy, you are not for me.

Having said that, I can point to 5 books that could definitely be considered tomes that finishing resulted in a definite sense of accomplishment. There's a feeling of having climbed the mountain and a sense of a job well done in getting all the way through these kind of books. So here's a list of my 5 greatest literary challenges (in terms of length, not content...James Joyce, I'm looking at you):

1) Gone With the Wind: I'm not sure what gave me the bug to read this book when I was in sixth grade. I just remember having a deep desire to read it...maybe that was around when the "sequel" was being released? In any event, I tackled my Mom's old copy with a vengeance and felt mighty proud of myself for having finished it as an 11 year old. Then I watched the movie and was depressed.

2) Helter Skelter: I developed a love for true crime during high school; maybe it was the titillating details of the mixture of murder and sex, but anyway, I stumbled across Helter Skelter probably about the time I fell in love with The Beatles as a sophomore in high school. Coincidence? I think not. I ripped through Vincent Bugliosi's account of the Charles Manson murders in about a week and was hooked on true crime ever since. It still remains one of my favorite books.

3) Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel: This book came out about 4 years ago I think, when I was in law school and working at the Barnes and Nobles. I saved up my pennies and bought it determined to read it over Christmas vacation. And I did. But I failed to consider how it would take ALL of Christmas vacation. Dear lord, this book felt long. I remember liking the beginning, but somewhere around the middle becoming less enamored. In the end, it came down to nothing more than a contest of wills to see who would win: me or the book. I pulled it out in the end, and sometimes, on a rainy afternoon if you listen really carefully, you can still hear the book weeping from its shelf because of the ass-kicking I delivered. Take THAT, book!

4) Sacred Games: I pay attention to book reviews I read in papers, and often immediately jump on to my library's system and place a hold when I come across something that looks good. Vikram Chandra novel of murder and deceit in modern day Mumbai was one of these I discovered by reading the newspaper. I dutifully hauled the almost 1,000 page hardback copy around for 3 weeks (the people on the Metro must have thought I was crazy), but really enjoyed reading it. I think it would have been better if it had been slightly shorter, but it's one of those books that you can really dig into. I couldn't breeze through it since it was chock full of references to Indian culture and Hindi phrases that demanded I take my time, but upon finishing it, I felt like I had been shown a glimpse of a world previously hidden. And there aren't many books that can really make that claim.

5) The Executioner's Song: As noted, I just finished reading this one last night, and it's another one of my true-crime opuses (why is it non-fiction books are so big?). After reading the book The Stranger Beside Me about Ted Bundy and surfing around Wiki, I found references to Mailer's book about the killer Gary Gilmore. I'm not sure he's technically a serial killer, but the book was fascinating and I liked how it was almost more about the people who surrounded Gilmore than it was about the killer himself. The book demonstrates how one person's actions can have catastrophic effects on everyone else they come into contact with.

So there you have it. My top 5 "big" reads that for one reason or another I have always remembered and considered feathers in my cap.

Friday, March 13, 2009

No more clowns!


Why would they do this? AGAIN? Look, the first movie (er, miniseries) screwed me up. I had nightmares for weeks. It was scarier than the book for several reasons: 1) seeing an evil clown is always worse than just reading about it; 2) TIM CURRY. He is like, the scariest man ever. He manged to be frightening in Home Alone 2! Come on!

So why would they want to improve perfection and also subject a new generation to the horror? Oh, right. The money.

Sorry, you could not PAY me to see this movie.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


For the past two weeks, I have been looking forward to Monday, March 10. Why, you ask? Because that was SUPPOSED to be the day that my new television would be delivered. The television that I had scrimped and saved for, that I was devoting a big chunk of my tax refund to, and that I had discussed ad nauseum with my friends and family.

And what happened? A big fat nothing.

My delivery window was between 12 and 4 on Monday. According to the tracking number, my appointment was actually scheduled for 3:00.

At 3:15 I called the company who said they called the driver and my tv was 10 minutes away. Woot!

4:15: I call again. I was told that they couldn't get ahold of the driver and would call me when they heard something.

5:00: Still no word from the driver. They would attempt to call him again and call me back. "Fine," I said. "But if I don't hear from you I am calling you back in 15 minutes."

5:15: "We're sorry, Ms. Riley, but there was a mix-up and the tv never made it off the loading deck even the computer said it had been put on the truck. We can't get it to you tonight since we don't have a driver, but will deliver it at your earliest convenience."

I was so angry I couldn't even really talk about it on Monday. The thing that pissed me off the most was that they essentially lied to me at 3:15. They never talked to the driver, they only looked at where the GPS signal of his truck was and saw it was near me. So now tomorrow morning is the new D-day. And I'm telling you, they better be here, ON TIME, or there will be hell to pay.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

It's been one of those days...

I stepped out of the house this morning and had taken approximately 10 steps across the parking lot (headed for the bus shelter) when WHAM. Slipped on the ice and ended up on my back. Typical.

Look we all know that I am not the world's most graceful person, BUT, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Or in this case, our worst snow storm to hit in March. I mean, COME ON. In any event, it was not an auspicious start to the day. And the part that really pissed me off, is the dude who was walking maybe 15 feet away from me, saw me fall, kept walking, and didn't even ask if I was ok. ASSHOLE.

Nothing really major happened at work, other than it took me way longer to finish a case than I expected. But on the way back, there was traffic on the highway and all the buses were running late. So I was stuck outside the Pentagon in the 20 degree air for 20 minutes waiting for the bus.

Which meant I was tired and hungry when I got home so I wasn't paying attention and bent my entire fingernail back when sticking my steak in the oven.

I think I should be thanking god that I didn't fall off the elliptical machine and break my leg.

Ok, so I know in the grand scheme of thing, this day wasn't that bad. Nobody I know died, got sick, lost their job, but still. For an ordinary Tuesday, it sure had some annoying parts. But the Heroes episode I watched when I got home sucked. Thank goodness tomorrow is my work-at-home day and I can sit around in my PJs.

The lone shining star of joy for the day was my discovery that U2 3D would be returning to the Smithsonian Imax screen. More Bono is always a good thing!