Category Archives: television

Election Special or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blue Bloods

TS mosaic

Tom Selleck acts with his mouth.

It’s a subtle but effective talent.

Most actors focus on how and what their eyes convey to the audience. Whether their characters are listening, reacting, retreating or attacking, they project it all through their eyes.

But with Selleck, both his emotions and his authority as NYC Police Commissioner Frank Reagan emanate from the nose down. The dimples appear when he’s caught out asking campus security to watch granddaughter Nicky (Sami Gayle) when she’s at a college party. The lips purse when he’s faced with a fugitive on the run, a potential bomb disaster or a dirty cop. And the mustache – of course the mustache – wiggles ever so slightly when he’s invited back to a woman’s hotel room. (This has happened a few times over 6+ seasons, not that I’m keeping count or anything.)

I never noticed Selleck’s mouth when I was a kid watching Magnum P.I. Back then he often let his eyebrows, his chest and his Ferrari do the talking. I also missed a good deal of his story arc as Monica’s older boyfriend on Friends. But once my 83-year-old aunt introduced me to the Blue Bloods universe (that multi-generational American drama on CBS), I gained a new appreciation for Selleck’s understated charisma and his enduring sex appeal.

Now I know what you’re thinking: rockmom, you watch Blue Bloods? A network drama with a geriatric audience about law and order white folks? Blue Bloods?

Yes, I do. I even purchase seasons on iTunes. Proudly.

While it’s true that Blue Bloods draws the oldest viewers on television – median audience age is 62.5 – and depicts characters who probably lean to the right politically, it’s also a show that I regularly enjoy with my teens. One that always inspires what-would-you-do-in-that-situation conversations and an appreciation for Assistant District Attorney Erin Reagan’s (Bridget Moynahan) tough but tender parenting. So when my kids give me a hard time about curfew times, we can watch the episode where Nicky’s arrested, and I can say: see, it could be worse. Her Mom made her spend a night in jail!

More importantly, in this never-ending, divisive election cycle – Red v Blue, Us v Them, Deplorables v Elites – Blue Bloods is one of the few designated safe conversation zones for me and my far-right, Clinton-hating relatives. There’s also the weather, college football, food and… well, that’s about it.

As an expat living in an international, fairly liberal echo chamber, I always experience a bit of a rude awakening when I return home to Texas for holidays. Mind you, there are a lot of wonderful things I can only enjoy when I’m back: Shiner beer, cheese enchiladas, perfect brisket, old friends and bluebonnets. But then I also have to be around people who tell me, out loud: ‘Blacks are bad tippers’ or ‘Hispanics don’t know how to look after their kids’ or ‘You can’t tell a good Muslim from a bad Muslim’ and of course the iniquitous assertion that ‘Of course, Obama is a Muslim from Kenya.’

It’s wearying. It’s depressing. It makes me wish Frank and his dimples would appear with a bottle of single malt and a couple of glasses.

But what can I do? This is family. I’m sure Father Quinn (Frank’s priest) would counsel: hate the sin, love the sinner.

And just keep watching TV. That great American cure-all.

At this moment in our nation’s unsettled history, I’m sure a lot of other families of mixed political persuasions could benefit from the moral clarity, compassion and generosity that Blue Bloods offers. I’m thinking specifically of Anglo-Saxon families that haven’t forgotten their own religious and immigrant roots. If, like me, you have a Catholic Dad who once bought everyone Christmas presents from the All Things Irish shop then you know exactly what I’m talking about!

With Blue Bloods, I might disagree with Frank’s support for the death penalty, but I can respect his convictions, and admire how good he looks in his sunglasses. I can also enjoy an hour when certain things are reassuringly, crystal clear. For one, according to Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg), there are only two kinds of people in the world: scumbags and not-scumbags. His job is to catch the former and help the latter. Don’t be a scumbag.

Second, there’s no problem so big that it can’t be solved with roasted meat and red wine. A beer and a chat with Grandpa also helps.

Further to that, it’s okay if Sunday dinners are contentious. Talk it out, disagree, argue, but above all, come back next week. We’ll be serving turducken.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the women on Blue Bloods. Because, you know, if this were a Hollywood movie, Moynahan would be playing Selleck’s love interest and not his daughter. So yay (!) to that casting decision. And yay to the other strong-minded women on the show: Linda (Amy Carlson), Janko (Vanessa Ray), Nicky and detectives Baez (Marisa Ramirez) and Curatola (Jennifer Esposito).

Can I also add that, as we all inch closer to Blue Blood’s median audience age, it should give us hope to see that Frank has very likely seen more action in the bedroom than his two single kids – Jamie (Will Estes) and Erin. (Not that my aunt and I discuss these things, oh no, not us!) I mean I’ve never fired a gun and would rather not dwell on Selleck’s association with the NRA. However, the season 2 episode where Frank buys Melanie (his foreign correspondent/booty call) a custom-made, leather thigh-holster for her concealed carry is, I’m not afraid to admit, incredibly hot.

So you see, Blue Bloods can bring liberals and conservatives together!

Now I know what you’re thinking, because I am too: the GOP chose the wrong ‘80s-era personality to top the ticket.

Vote. Peace.

Tom Selleck photo by Dominick D [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.


2015: The Year in Random Thoughts and Obsessions

For my yearly wrap up of 2013, I wrote, “All hail the return of the king – David Bowie – and the art of the music video.” And I included a link to his surreal collaboration with Tilda Swinton for ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’. Two years later and RIP, we’re talking and posting about how much we’ll miss Bowie. (My thoughts can be found here.)

Yes, the last year has been especially tough. I’ve lost friends and heard of marriages dissolving, read helplessly of terrorist attacks in France and the continuing assault on women’s rights in the U.S. Not to mention the masses of refugees desperate for safe havens and the innocent lives struck down by gun violence.

“Day In Day Out

Stay In Fade Out”

Yet, in the midst of everyday upheaval, small glories continue to reveal themselves. Glimmers of hope to remind us that we are not alone, that quite simply, wonders never cease. Here’s a small sampling of some of my favorite things from the world of popular culture:

lady story

Yes please! More stories about strong females. (photo taken at a shopping center in Sha Tin, by therockmom)

  1. Serena Williams tops my list for consistent awesomeness. What a joy to watch her match against Heather Watson at Wimbledon. I was with my daughters and nephews on a sunny summer morning, trying to explain the arcane scoring system. All of us cheered on Williams yet at the same time felt inexplicably proud that Watson could stretch her to three sets. Later in the year, the girls and I watched the marvelous doc, Venus and Serena, and although Williams didn’t get her Grand Slam at the US Open, we still knew: she is the greatest.
  1. In movies and television, we sought out strong girls and women and, even in the midst of the industry’s glaring inequalities, still found a few to shout about, namely: Kate (Emily Blunt/Sicario), Riley and Joy (Inside Out), Alex (Priyanka Chopra/Quantico), Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw/Beyond the Lights), Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska/Ida) and of course Rey (Daisy Ridley/Star Wars Ep VII). Recently I’ve had the pleasure of introducing my kids to The X-Files Season One and the complex relationship between Scully the scientist and Mulder the believer. As the new episodes remind us, the X-Files is just great storytelling.
  1. While I still can’t convince EO and YO of the wonders of Jane Austen, school assignments and various recommendations (not quite me shoving a book in to their hands and saying: read this! but close, lol.) have introduced them to classics by Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Golding along with plenty of Judy Blume.
  1. And in the Department of Obsessions, I still can’t get enough of Castle, Mesut Ozil (COYG!), Maneki Nekos and Justin Beiber’s (lack of) facial hair. Say what you want, go on, I can take it 😉

    Imagine Dragons & phones

    The lights! The sounds! The… phones. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. (photo taken at Imagine Dragons’ HK show, by therockmom)

  1. Last but certainly not least, music! Live highlights of the year were Clockenflap in Hong Kong and Taylor Swift in Washington DC. For Swift, it was the girls, Grandma plus me and my dear friend and her daughter. We sat (and stood) in awe at Swift’s seemingly effortless command of the stage. She is a Force, thankfully using her powers for good, not evil. However, due to her dissatisfaction with Spotify, she’s not on my playlist of the year’s best. Instead I’ve included Ryan Adams’ version of ‘Wildest Dreams’, which was my favorite song of hers from 1989. His cover is just okay, kind of standard, sensitive RA. As I listen I realize that his whole take on 1989 has missed the point entirely. The point is that these songs were written by and about a young woman and her very specific experiences with the push and pull of desire. So a guy in his ‘40s? I don’t think he can quite capture what she’s feeling, that moment in time. As much as I love Ryan Adams, he could have given this project a miss.

I’ll finish here with the playlist – 25 songs from fantastic recent releases and a few new-to-me-this-year discoveries (KING, Sun Kil Moon). Interestingly, over half the songs are from female singers/bands and women-fronted bands. Not that I was aiming for that gender balance, it just happened, but I’m pleased nonetheless.

So much good music out there – listen, discover, enjoy!


The Trouble With Turtles

A Star Trek fan fiction that’s maybe a little, you know, fan fiction


CAPTAIN ‘HUBS’ T. KIRK: Spockmom, our current course is taking us to an outpost that calls itself ‘Asia’s world city’. Not much ambition beyond its own planet. What do we know of this quadrant?

SPOCKMOM: Very little. What we do know is bizarre. Despite extremely crowded conditions, hot, humid weather and a lack of good Tex-Mex, the population – a mixture of locals, foreigners and mainland shoppers – co-exists relatively peacefully.

KIRK: Relatively? Anything else I should be aware of?

SPOCKMOM: Governed by a distant, suppressive regime. Political frustration tends to flair when young tourists eat or urinate on the MTR. Democracy, like bladder control, looks increasingly problematic.

KIRK: Prospects for cooperation?

SPOCKMOM: Inconclusive.

UMYRNA: Captain, I’m picking up an island substation distress call. Priority fai-de-la?

KIRK: Fai-de-what?

SPOCKMOM: Translated as, roughly speaking: move your butt.

KIRK: Sounds a bit rude, don’t you think?

SPOCKMOM: The inhabitants are not known for their manners or patience.

KIRK: Prepare the transporter room.

Captain’s log, Stardate 11409.09 Island substation POK4LAM has issued a priority one distress call. We are set at warp speed six and assuming Klingons. We’re going in armed for battle.

I'm your new crew member, honest!

I’m your new crew member, honest!



KIRK: Turtles! They signaled for help because of turtles!

SPOCKMOM: Trachemys scripta elegans also known as the red-eared slider. The most commonly traded turtle in this part of the galaxy.

KIRK: What seems to be the trouble?

SPOCKMOM: A most curious situation. Two North American terrapins – an invasive species that carries the disease salmonella and has a life expectancy of some 30 years – were given to a three-year-old as a birthday gift.

KIRK: A birthday gift? For a toddler? Who would do such a thing?

SPOCKMOM: Apparently this is typical behaviour on planet Hong Kong. Illogical, to say the least.

KIRK: I’m not allowing turtles on my ship. Remember the tribbles?

SPOCKMOM: Yes, indeed. And the creatures before us now aren’t even cuddly.

KIRK: Spockmom, did you just say ‘cuddly’?

SPOCKMOM: I did, Captain, Hubs…


KIRK: It’s not that kind of fan fiction, Spockmom.


KIRK: We have orders.


SPOCKMOM: According to my readings, the terrapins, while healthy, are unlikely to reproduce. They’ve been living in a small tank for some eight years, and the daughter, now eleven, has grown bored with them. It’s clear that…

KIRK: They need a new home.

SPOCKMOM: A larger living space would certainly improve the animals’ physical and mental health as well as the overall well-being of the parents looking after them.

KIRK: This planet looks green and lush. Let’s release them in to the nearest body of fresh water.

Don't even think about it.

And yet…

SPOCKMOM: Illegal, Captain. And rehoming to larger quarters is not an option either. The local reptile rescue society has informed us of 100 other abandoned animals currently in the queue before these two.

KIRK: 100?!? This is madness.

SPOCK: One could say that. In fact, the mother just did.

KIRK: I did notice a certain frustration emanating from her, not to mention the small bald patches near her temple.


KIRK: Mister Scott.

SCOTTY (on board the Enterprise): Aye, sir.

KIRK: I want the latest status report on the reptilian rehoming wait list. What are our chances?

SCOTTY: Cap’n, I’ve tried everything – that queue won’t budge!


KIRK: We’ve done what we can, Spockmom. Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

Someone obviously didn't get the Federation directive.

Someone obviously didn’t get the Federation Directive.

SPOCKMOM: Blow, Captain?

KIRK: Not now. I mean, let’s get out of here.

SPOCKMOM: The mother seems to be blocking the exit. I detect a weapon, a device invented by the Native American tribes of…

KIRK: That’s a hockey stick. Watch out!


KIRK: What’s she saying? I can’t decipher her screaming.

SPOCKMOM: She says she cannot let us leave without the turtles. She must know that transporting animals from one planet to another is a Federation offense.

KIRK: She’s not listening to reason! That’s it: set phasers to stun. Ma’am, we don’t want to hurt you.


SPOCKMOM: If she touches you with the terrapins you must wash your hands immediately.

KIRK: By the far reaches of the galaxy, I’ll never let that happen!


KIRK: Ma’am, I know a shifty smuggler, deals in tribbles. You won’t want to know what he does with them, but I’m sure he’ll take your turtles. Spockmom, head for the door! She’s closing in!

SPOCKMOM: Not without you.


KIRK: Scotty, beam us up! Beam us up!



SPOCKMOM: Are you hurt?

KIRK: I’m fine. But Spockmom, do I detect concern?

SPOCKMOM: Captain, it is a logical reaction after battling a half-mad mother who finds she is unable to offload two growing terrapins.

KIRK: Turtles she never even asked for. I’m afraid we were of no help to her whatsoever. Tell me, Spockmom, how could this happen?

SPOCKMOM: I am not privy to the inexplicable nuances of human gift giving. I see no practical use for reptiles kept as pets.

KIRK: They’re not even cute.

SPOCKMOM: Captain – Hubs – did you say ‘cute’?


KIRK: I suggest we continue this conversation in quarters.



Beam me up_text

All photos by therockmom.

2013: The Year in Random Thoughts & Obsessions

Hi everyone & Happy New Year! I just got back from the Christmas holidays where I tried (mostly in vain) to stay offline as much as possible.

Newborn elephant seal at sunset. Did you know the seagull will eat the mom's remaining placenta? Nature, nothing wasted.

Newborn elephant seal at sunset. Did you know seagulls will eat mama seal’s placenta? Nature, nothing wasted.

Damn all those vacation rentals and their easy Wi-fi 🙂 But it was good to get away – we drove down the California coast, saw some nature and lots of seals, sea lions, otters and stars, absolutely amazing stars at night.

And even though I’d made a California playlist for the drive, we ended up listening to the radio most of the time. Which pretty much meant classic rock and modern pop. So my kids now know who CCR is, and I know that Avicii is like, one guy from Sweden. We also watched the New Year’s Eve countdown shows, in which Miley Cyrus threw down the entertainment gauntlet by fondling a female dwarf in gold lame. Let’s see Lady Gaga top that!

So herewith is my second installment of the Year in Review, in no particular order, heavy on strong female voices. Hoorah!

Tessanne Chin’s version of ‘I Have Nothing’ on The Voice reaffirmed my belief in the power of a pop song. Whitney would be proud. Tessanne, you are golden.

Bieber & his moustache. You can do it, sweetheart – Movember is only ten months away!

Timberlake sings that he wants a girl to be “my mirror, my mirror staring back at me”. I say, “I’ve got no time for a raging narcissist, JT. I’m moving on.”

Critics’ Darling that’s actually kinda boring: Vampire Weekend.

Criminally Underappreciated: Neko Case.

Unexpectedly awesome in concert: Belle & Sebastian, Dirty Projectors.

Robin Thicke is that Dad with the hands that you had to watch out for when you were a babysitter.

What do Kanye West and Woody Allen have in common? They’ve both lost touch with the real world.

If you want to hear something cool, check out Lo-Fang’s single, ‘#88’. Debut album out soon.

Atoms for Peace is Pepsi to Radiohead’s Coke. You drink it anyway, but only because they’re out of Coke.

Pharrell Williams’ sweet, disarming face totally hides his pervy nature.

Whoever chose the Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam songs for the TV show Castle is the MOST AWESOME PERSON EVER.

The best singer-songwriters today aren’t American or even Canadian. They’re Brits: Laura Marling and Jake Bugg.

One of my favorite things about 2013 was listening to Miranda Lambert and Pistol Annies.

Super duo: Edie Brickell & Steve Martin.

There was more fresh, original music coming out of country and alt-country than the alternative/rock scene. Discuss.

Eminem is now 40. Can an angry rapper age gracefully? This could be interesting.

All hail the return of the king – David Bowie – and the art of the music video:

One day I’m going to listen to that Arcade Fire double album all the way through. But probably not ’til EO goes off to college.

The sad thing about Miley Cyrus is that she made us forget what a great voice she has.

New NCIS-LL Cool J crossover hit: ‘Grandmama Said Knock You Out’.

I know I’m supposed to say Breaking Bad, but what I really like are Arsenal games and Castle.

Still the coolest person in the room: Aimee Mann on Twitter.

The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street. Please can we stop with the all-soundtrack ADHD movie? It smacks of artistic desperation and well, laziness.

Embrace the cliché: 2013 was the Year of our Lorde. That is all.

Wait. Yet. It’s still Beyonce’s world. We’re just living in it. #texasproud

Embrace the Dance

Let’s begin with a little lyrical inspiration, courtesy of a short-lived but lovely television show called ‘Bunheads’. Watch this with your child, it’s beautiful. Then keep reading, then watch this again, because you’ll want to.

I think I’m back. Well, the kids are in school, I’m writing, editing, organizing carpools, meal planning, all the stuff we’re lucky enough to take a break from over the summer. Honestly, having your parents cook and buy groceries when you’re visiting is heaven on earth.

We had a wonderful summer, even if it involved a lot of schlepping around the States on the family roadshow. But the trip made me appreciate how: 1. it’s impossible to get tweens to function before noon; 2. a fast rollercoaster can actually make you cry with laughter; and 3. country-hiphop as a genre (aka ‘Cruise’ by Florida Georgia Line) is just a really, really bad idea.

I also realized that my kids are becoming these people who are amazing and funny and wonderful to be around. I know I’m gushing here, but it’s true. They’ve always been like that  (she says humbly), it’s just that growing up has a wonderful way of banishing those obstacles – car seats, potty training, sippy cups – that can often get in the way of enjoying them as people. We still have our battles, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve hit our stride as a family and it is a delight. I keep saying to EO and YO, ‘You know you can be 10 for as long as you want’ or ‘Why don’t you stay 12 for like 3 more years.’ That would be fine with me.

In a similar vein (bear with me here), lately I’ve had several conversations with Moms about ballet. Their daughters are three, four years old and are keen to take ballet lessons. What’s interesting is that, as we talk, these Moms sound somewhat embarrassed, as if they should apologize for their daughters being girly. That maybe there’s something old-fashioned or retro (and not in a cool Mad Men kind of way) about pink leotards and tights and buns. Not ‘unfeminine’ so much as ‘unfeminist’.

Mind you, most of my friends are sporty types. And my daughters and their friends are all athletic. But my EO took ballet for eight years and she loved it. And I loved being a dance mom. Man, I could put together an awesome bun, I tell you. EO has stepped away from ballet this year to focus on swimming and I feel a little sad that she won’t get the chance to dance. For her, I think, it was 45 minutes twice a week of pure simplicity. One teacher, a bare studio, music, and a small group of girls – friends from different schools – skipping and sashaying and leaping across the floor. How many of us get to enjoy that on a regular basis?

When YO was taking hip hop a couple years back, we went to the Christmas recitals and got to see the kids perform a whole range of styles: tap, classical, lyrical, jazz, street. I always marveled at the older girls who just threw themselves in to their modern dance routines. They ranged in age from 14 to 18, and they weren’t all tall, willowy types. They were good, but to be honest, we were never going to see them on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. But, you know what? That didn’t matter. Dance is one of those things, like singing, that the amateur can embrace as much as the professional. Fully committed, free of doubt or self-consciousness, these girls felt the music; they owned their emotion. And as I watched them, I felt like something was right with the world. That it wasn’t uncool for young girls to express their angst or joy or confusion with step-hops, grapevines and jazz hands. With contemporary routines choreographed to pop songs. With the everlasting, life-affirming idea to turn to your friend and say, ‘Let’s make up a dance!’

So, I tell you sporty/strong/modern Moms out there, embrace the tutu! Let your daughter dance! Self-expression, like a 60 mph rollercoaster, is good for the soul.

2012: The Year in Random Thoughts & Obsessions

Forget those Best Of / Top 20 / Hot Lists, here’s my year’s worth of musings:

No need to say anything else.

No need to say anything else.

The best music snap of the year (above). Comes from a Berlin disco. Found on the Twitter page of Stana Katic, who’s one-half of the TV show, Castle, which my family can tell you I’m senselessly, annoyingly addicted to. It’s Moonlighting with Canadians! It’s awesome. And, yes, this does make me realize that the internet is high school. Now, if someone would just remake Remington Steele

My Fleet Foxes fixation continues unabated. Old stuff, new stuff, it doesn’t matter. It’s like I’ve become oddly attracted to Crosby or Stills or Nash (which one’s which?). In one of my favorite movies of the year, “Your Sister’s Sister”, Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass name drop the Foxes. I was so excited, I squealed on the inside and thought about them for the rest of the movie.

Fiona Apple is a bonafide torch singer, and if you cross her she will light that torch and stick it up your sorry a**! Unstable, brilliant, painfully vivid, awesome. ‘Hot Knife’ is just crazy good. Makes me dream of Alvin Ailey dancers in motion across a shiny black stage.

With his upswept ‘do, baby skin and wife beaters, Justin Bieber’s lesbian-chic androgyny is strangely fascinating.

If Cat Power battled Feist, who would win the chance to drop kick Lana Del Rey’s ass?

On iTunes, what’s the difference between Alternative and Indie?

The most wonderful Angry White Man is back! I’m so glad to see you, Bob Mould!

Frank Ocean – meandering, unfinished, falsetto doodles… yawn. What am I missing here???

Since everyone – Fun, The Belle Brigade, Best Coast – seems to be channeling Fleetwood Mac these days, it was inevitable. A Fleetwood Mac reunion tour 2013! Yes! Worship at the sky high heels of Stevie. We’re getting the band back together!

Lumineers? Decemberists? Lumineers? Decemberists? Can’t tell the difference. Like ’em both.

Green Day appearing on the Twilight: Breaking Dawn OST surely is the final nail in their coffin, n’est pas? Now go away until some kind of reunion in 2018.

Singles I enjoyed this year, even though some of them are old:

‘I Know What I Am’ by Band of Skulls

‘Solitude is Bliss’ by Tame Impala

‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People

‘Mykonos’ by Fleet Foxes, xxxxx, call me 😉

‘Satan’ by Beast

‘Nightlight’ by Little Dragon

‘UMI Says’ by Mos Def

‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy (come on, it is irresistible)

Favorite albums 2012:

Jack White’s Blunderbuss

Fiona Apple’s Idler Wheel…

The Black Keys’ El Camino (technically released at end of 2011 but hey)

Texans of the Year:

San Saba County

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – follow Joe on Twitter, he tweets entire Cowboys’ games. Hilarious!

So call me mainstream, I’m still not tired of Adele and I keep the new Taylor Swift on even after I’ve dropped off EO and YO at swim training.

Rihanna just bugs me. They say she does it her way but I’m seeing no self respect.

When I dip a toe in to dance music I enjoy Morgan Page and the gloomy glam of The Presets, who are so deliciously Depeche Mode, it hurts in a sweet, angsty way.

The guy I’m digging & rediscovering at the moment: Willie Nelson. He sounds fantastic on “Live & Kickin”. Makes me homesick.

In this digital day and age is it really necessary to deny Hong Kong Spotify and Pandora? There is a border between us and the Communists, but I can’t do anything about the pirates.

So many folk-pop, California mellow, girl-boy duos – Tennis, Best Coast, Teen Dream – so little time. Or interest.

Rufus Wainwright’s “Out of the Game” doesn’t hit the highs of “Release The Stars” but I’ll take it all the same.

Mumford & Sons = The Pogues x Coldplay – Elvis Costello with even more points deducted because Jake Gyllenhaal joined you guys on tour.

Saint Etienne are either celebrating pure pop like Kylie or subverting the genre in some kind of Pet Shop-Blondie mash-up. This kind of thing works really well in the UK. Too fey for the US I’m afraid.

I want to write like a Radiohead song: compact, intense, perfect.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from therockmom x

Gwyneth Does Glee aka Vote For Me

It’s Friday and it’s a beautiful day outside. I was contemplating a serious blog post this week about overcoming my parental fears as my oldest daughter asks for more freedom and responsibility (like her own gmail account & walking home from the bus stop by herself – cue anxiety attack!).

Instead I’ve made a ‘teen pop’ playlist for the kids – some Glee, a little Usher, Miley and Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Pink, Selena & Cee Lo plus Avril Lavigne rocking the SpongeBob theme – and decided I’m going to write about that rock wife turned rock mom – Gwyneth Paltrow.

You have a lot to answer for, madam.

I blame Glenn Close, and I’ll tell you why. Back in 1996, Close starred as Cruella De Ville in the live action version of 101 Dalmations. Maybe it was the opportunity to bring an animated icon to life. Maybe it was the clothes, the wig, the chance to lighten up. Maybe, most likely, it was the paycheck. Otherwise why would an Oscar-winning actress subject herself to unfunny cartoon violence and being covered in fake manure?

Fast forward a decade or so, and we’ve got Meryl Streep in not one but two chick flicks (Mamma Mia, Devil Wears Prada) and Helen Mirren (She’s the Queen!) brandishing a mounted machine gun and yukking it up with Bruce Willis in RED.

Producer: I got four words for you: Helen Mirren. Automatic Weapons.
Studio Exec: Loving it! What’s the body count?

Now comes Gwyneth Paltrow guest starring on Glee as an all-singing, all-dancing substitute teacher. I watched her version of Cee Lo’s pop gem, “Forget You” (clean version of course) on YouTube and I thought, this isn’t Shakespeare in Love, this is… this is Moonlight and Valentino with singing! Oh, the humanity!

Marlo Thomas, having been clobbered over the head with hooker heels, will now showcase the complete works of Beyonce.

When one student accuses her of being 40, Gwyneth sasses back, ‘Top 40 sweet cheeks.’ Sweet cheeks? Cringeworthy! Is she channeling Reno 911’s Deputy Trudy Wiegel?

Don’t be hating on me, bee-a-tch!

Did I mention that Gwyneth not only gets to sing and dance but that she’s also the Spanish substitute teacher, just so we can marvel at her bilingual abilities! It’s a real Viva Las Vegas kind of gig. You know the plot – Elvis is a race car driver but he sings and dances!

I'm putting this in here because I can!

But you see, I have this theory that Paltrow is the Barack Obama of female movie stars. She’s very intelligent, accomplished, works hard, has a cool spouse and two lovely children but is just not the warmest person in the room. I mean, honestly, if you were gonna hit Ladies’ Night with Gwyneth or Katherine Heigl who would you choose? The gal who traded shots with Seth Rogen or the Oscar-winning thespian who mastered a Home Counties accent for Emma?

And I haven’t even mentioned her blog! (It’s by the way.) When I say ‘almond butter on sprouted grain bread and beet and walnut dip’ as fun alternatives in the school lunchbox’, I AM NOT KIDDING!

Come to think of it, she is Rachel in Glee isn’t she? Even when she tries to lighten up, she’s earnest, diligent… faultless.

But back to “Forget You”. It’s such a fantastic song, it’s hard to mess it up. Gwyneth’s voice is fine, nothing breathtaking but competent. You do cringe when she gets to the mangled cries of ‘Why?’ in the bridge and I wished they’d finessed that a bit. But overall she’s capable, in a Student Council/Debate Captain/yes-we-mock-you-but-we-also-envy-your-Cooking&Travel-show kind of way.

I was absolutely, unequivocably, most definitely not born a Coal Miner's Daughter.

In her next film, Country Strong, she plays this year’s version of Bad Blake (aka Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart) – a country diva fresh out of rehab who hits the road with a younger stud as her opening act. Gwynnie, we will certainly be looking out for you come Oscar time because nothing says ‘Thank you, Academy’ like a strung-out, Southern-accented heroine with cleavage. No doubt your research consisted of watching the entire Jessica Lange collection. I think they should combine the two movies – Country Heart Strong – and send Gwyneth and Jeff on a backwoods road trip in search of a down home creamery butter that’s good for you.

No, make that a creamy almond butter…

Loving it!