Monthly Archives: November 2009

Guess Who’s Coming To Guest Vocal?

I was walking to work the other day listening to my iPod when a recent purchase came on– “Ready for The Weekend” by Calvin Harris.  It’s a decent little party anthem but it really gets a much-needed kick from the guest vocalist–Mary Pearce (a British singer who has worked with powerhouses like Chaka Khan and Lionel Richie previously.)
This familiar and dancey delight led me to realize that it’s a common trick really…a very good trick…and today’s great thing:

109.  Nerdy white dance musicians employing black female vocalists to make their songs better

Here, let me show you what I mean.

It’s a pretty good song already.  Calvin Harris is a clever little Scottish dance music maestro.  He’s recently written some ace tracks for Kylie Minogue and Dizzee Rascal.  You’re happily toe-tapping along to this ditty…but once Mary Pearce’s vocals come in?  Zoom!  So much better…

Another good example of this music-boosting technique is Basement Jaxx’s “Good Luck”.    Felix and Simon of Basement Jaxx have pretty much mastered this technique as a matter of fact.  When considering their catalogue of dance classics, you’re really spoiled for choice if you’re looking for strong black female vocals.  You could go with “Red Alert” or “Right Here’s The Spot” or certainly “Oh My Gosh”,  but, Lisa Kekaula’s vocals on “Good Luck” are spine-tinglingly good.

Perhaps no conversation about dance hit vocals could be complete without discussing C + C Music Factory’s  “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”.  It’s, sadly, not unusual for music video directors to cast lip-synching hotties in place of the actual vocalists for the video shoot.  But, one infamous case of this was when Zelma Davis lipsynched to Martha Walsh’s vocals on C + C Music Factory’s hit.  There was no need for this trickery really and the group only admitted the truth of who the vocals in this terrific track belonged to after it leaked to the press.  (Though to be fair, Davis WAS indeed one of several vocalists that C + C Music Factory employed, just not the one that sang the following vocals.)

Thinking on this, we really do put unreal expectations on folks.  I mean, sure, it would be great if we all had exactly the same measures of talent and were all exactly the same level of smoking hot-it-tude, but Botox and college are expensive.

I feel like Moby should be included in this little compilation except for the fact that I can’t think of a song of his with female vocals.  I feel like all the music he’s co-opted into his electronica is from black males…cool old blues tunes and spirituals, etc…

So, swim on White Whale.  Whilst you certainly qualify as a white nerd, you have escaped my clutches for now.

I didn't make the cut?

Three quickies to close out the proceedings here.

Shapeshifters’ “Lola’s Theme”, which features a gospel singer from the UK called Cookie (yay).

Junior Jack’s “Stupid disco”  IS basically the Pointer Sisters track “Dare Me” set to different beats:

Armand Van Helden’s “My My My”…to be fair, Van Helden not so white and geeky.  It is a good excuse for me to watch this video, however.

Any more for any more?



Filed under Music

Natalie Squeeeee!

So, recently, I don’t even really remember where or how, I came across a Natalie Dee cartoon.  It was this:

Where it all began.

Hilarious, yes! I love Mom jokes AND I love accusing everyone around me of being gay.  Especially Moms! Absolutely right up my ally when it comes to one-panelled humor strips.  Love it.  Of course, I was devastated to learn approximately two and a half minutes later that it was NOT on sale as a tee-shirt as I had previously believed.  But still, I loved it enough to go to the source–Natalie Dee’s website.  click here!

#108:  The cartoons of Natalie Dee

I’m tempted to use adjectives like ‘obsessed’ when I describe my feelings about Ms. Dee.   But apparently, Natalie Dee isn’t her real name and the reason that she doesn’t use her real name is because she doesn’t want to encourage stalkers/overly excitable types.   I can appreciate that.  So, I’ll try not to let loose too much here.  I’ll pull back a bit on the normal cyber-stalking that I engage in when prepping for  blogs.  Let’s just appreciate the output, shall we?   Here’s three samples from her archives.  All good.

It's a scorpion with a purse. She's going to town!

I can relate directly to this one. I especially love the look of hopelessness on her face.

i got yer raisins right here

I actually did buy this on a tee-shirt.

Writing a one-panel strip is hard work, but Natalie Dee is a fricking champion.  Between the ‘i can relate to that’ feeling and the odd miscellany that she captures so perfectly in her simplistic drawings, I’ve been consistently entertained.  I can’t stress how much I love it when things are anthropomorphized.  It just works.

Also, I adore the noseless wide-mouthed faces and the little hands that look like q-tips.

Natalie is married to a humorist as well.  Her husband Drew writes excellent toons called “Toothpaste For Dinner” and “Superpoop”.  Natalie co-writes “Married To The Sea” with him as well.  You can reach ALL of their collective efforts through For merch, click here:  the goods

The bad news in this one-way love affair?  I’m almost done scrolling through the Natalie Dee archives.  The good news is that when I’m done with the cartoons, there WILL be more (she updates daily) and she’s also got blog pages that I’ve barely read yet.  It’s a good, funny, personable blog.  The first entry details Natalie trying to cook an emu egg that she purchased at Whole Foods.  She also runs an advice column from time to time in those pages.

As someone who dreams of chucking in my day job of helping disabled students get support during University (it’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds) to sit around all day in my jammies thinking of funny things to say and occasionally watching daytime tv/playing video games, I really admire this woman.  She has made it work and is living the dream.  I found a good interview with Natalie at  (OK…so I did a little bit of e-stalking…)  Here’s some wise words for those of you out there who reach for that golden ring of creative fulfillment/working from your home as well:

“Making comics is just like taking a crap,” says Dee. “It’s necessary for my well-being, and it is sometimes enjoyable… When I make comics, I don’t analyze them afterwards, like, ‘Is this too dirty?’ or, ‘Is this too cutesy?’ or, ‘Is this too weird?’ or, ‘Is this too messed up?’. I don’t care what people think. I make comics to express myself. You don’t write in your diary with the thought of someone who might break into your bedroom and read it. That defeats the purpose.”

(Full article here:  Venuszine)

OK, that’s all the lovin’ I have time for.  But!…one more to part on:

smell like cereal and look like mountain dew

So true!

P.S. if you’re scrolling through the archives, be sure to pay attention ot the toon titles on the right hand side.  Some are just explanatory but others are pithy.  That’s right, I said pithy.

How come stuff like this isn’t in the newspaper funny pages anymore?

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Filed under Comics, Literature, website

The Hole In My Heart

There’s always truth in comedy.  This is evidenced in The Simpsons.  America’s most captivating fat-dad might be a lazy dumbass but he does show proper reverence for the simpler things in life–perhaps none more so than today’s great thing.  We can all take a lesson from Homer Simpson and rekindle our love affair with the great, the mighty, the hooptacular, the donut.  (Or doughnut)

107.  Donuts

When you're right you're right.

There’s a lot of ground to cover when discussing donuts.  But I think I need to start with some regional differences.  Donuts taste different over here in the UK than they did back home.  I think it’s mostly because they don’t really market my favorite type of donut much over here.  I like heavy cake-y ring donuts.  (Not the puffy airy style ring donuts.)  Do you know what I mean?  There’s definitely a difference.  Please, allow me to show you pictorially.



There.  Does that make sense?  The style up above is seen MUCH more frequently over here.  It’s a rare and beautiful moment to find a good old fried-cake-ring here in Manchester.   Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got nothing against the donut in the first picture.  But, if given the choice, I’m going to go cake donut.  I suppose it’s more of a North Atlantic and Great Lake region of America sort of thing as even the Krispy Kreme franchise of the American South specializes a bit more in the airy and puffy donut on the left.

Donuts have a bit of a convoluted history with a few different folks claiming credit for the hole-in-the-middle-style-fried-cake that we know and love as the ‘donut’.  All sorts of countries CLAIM credit for them.  But, most people agree that this fatty delight, in its current popularized form at least, is undoubtedly American through and through.  Ownership of one of the world’s least healthy food belonging to America?  Who knew….France?  Germany?  You can try to outlard us, but you’ll never win.  Bwahahaha!

Though, I will give credit where credit is due.  I did consume a magnificent beignet in France when I visited Paris.

A real American hero...

Finding the best donut in your town is a noble mission that every citizen of every nation should undertake.   It also gives you an excuse to eat a different donut perhaps every day of the week.  I found a pretty thorough rundown of donut shops in NYC here:  Good Eats

One of my favorite NYC snacking haunts, The Doughnut Plant, gets a mention here.  Whenever I’m in town I make a pilgrimage to the lower east side, where it lives, and get the chocolate blackout donut and the tres leches as well.  I would like to live here…

Whilst on Doughnut Plant’s homepage, I just saw an ad for a new Broadway play called Superior Doughnuts by Tony Letts.  It takes place in a doughnut shop in Chicago.  Doughnuts on sale during intermission!  Mmmmm….high art…..





Sorry, I just blanked out there thinking about donuts.

At any rate, it’s true in New York and I think it holds true elsewhere…I find the best donuts aren’t out of the chain outlets but the local American bakeries.  (Nothing against the big chains but I don’t think they always represent the best that we, as fatasses, can produce.)  In Erie, we have Mighty Fine and Jack Frost.  We were mostly a Mighty Fine clan and a visit to the shop after Sunday mass was a family mandate.

Home sweet home...

If I could choose five donuts from Mighty Fine right now (and NO I wouldn’t eat them all at once…I’m not that fat…I’d savor them like Gollum cherishes the ring in Lord of the Rings), I’d choose the following, in order of preference:

5.  A Chocolate frosted cream filled:  Why is this magnificent power-house of a donut number five?  Because I’m getting on in years now and my teeth get a bit sensitive from time to time.  After a few bites, my molars on the right hand side would be singing in pain.  Still, I’d want those few sickly bites.

4.  Plain fried-cake:  Back to basics.  Also, would take the edge off of the #5 pick.

3.  Powdered sugar:  For whatever reason, maybe the fluffy sugar dusting helps preserve them, these donuts always feel the softest and warmest.  Word to the wise, don’t eat this variety too quickly or you risk inhaling the powdered sugar and experiencing a bit of a choking fit.  That would be the worst obituary ever…choked to death on a sugared donut.

2.  Maple glazed:  A bit of tree blood flavoring.  Yum.

1.  Chocolate cake with glaze:  Please note, this is not a chocolate frosted ring.  It’s actually chocolate cake dough.  After frying, it’s glazed.  So beautiful.

I wish I had more time to go on about donuts.  I haven’t even cracked open the issue of donut holes yet.  I mean, how awesome are they?  It’s like you don’t ever have to make up your mind about what donut you want.  Plus, it’s more hygienic than just taking bites out of each donut in the box.

We’ll close where we began.  Enjoy this classic clip from The Simpsons…


Filed under Vittles

Big Chilly Styles

Ok, it’s November and it’s officially chilly outside.  For most people, this is distressing news.  Nobody, except kids hoping for snow days, WANTS it to freeze outside do they?  There’s plenty of things to put you off living anywhere outside of the equatorial zone when winter strikes…cold tile floors, short days, awful road conditions.  But, I think there’s actually a few things that we can appreciate MORE in cold weather.  And, it’s more than just Christmas and thick socks.



106.  The Return of Cold Weather

1.  Red wine and hot drinks.  I’m sure I’m not alone in having seasonal taste buds.  When people ask the get-to-know-you-type question “What’s your favorite drink?”, I never know what to answer.  I don’t really have a favorite drink.  What I order really depends on several factors–what the menu offers, what the occasion is, and super important here…what the weather is outside.  When it’s hot, I want a cold beer, white wine, or a refreshing cocktail like a mojito.  But when the weather turns, I get down with red wine, whiskies, and hot cocktails.  These things are meant to warm your belly.  I don’t think you can really truly appreciate the figgy, chocolatey, earthy tones of a zinfandel in hot weather.  Also, who wants an Irish coffee in the summer ever?  Not me!

And later, when you pass out in a snowbank, you won't even feel the cold.

2.  Jackets and clunky shoes–In summer, I often find myself having to suck in my gut and watch what I eat more closely.  Not so in fall and winter!  Feeling a bit podgy due to that extra dessert of fourth pint?  Just cover up with a sweater and jacket.  No one will no the difference (until you get naked–then the illusion is over).  The shoes?  Well, I don’t wear high heels but I DO have some boot cut jeans.  They look better with shoes that have thick soles and I can’t wear giant sneakers ALL of the time (unfortunately).  The clunkier the shoe, the more supported my foot feels.  Being an urban kind of girl, I also like that extra level of protection that a bigger shoe gives me against street gum, street trash…and since I’ve moved to Manchester, street barf.

Cool jackets...camouflaging your physique since...ever.

3. Jazz music–Admittedly, this one is a bit more difficult to explain.  I guess there’s just something about jazz music that reminds me of winter holidays…Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day.  When I hear Lena Horne or Ella Fitzgerald singing anything or something like Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” it makes me think of long brisk walks around New York City.  You should be able to see your breath in front of you when you listen to that music.  You should also have a classic Greek deli coffee cup in your hand.  Oh, there should also be steam coming out from the manhole covers in the streets and yellow cabs racing by.

Put coffee or spare change in here please.

4.  Watching a DVD at home–Yes, I know that many of these items seem like they’re all about getting warmer and battling the cold of winter–instead of celebrating the chill.  Well, to that, I ask the following question.  In which other season are you SUPPOSED to use Biederlack blankets and hot water bottles?  Summer?  I think not.  (This just in…fricking Biederlack of America is going out of business!  Quick, purchase their amazingly fuzzy blankets whilst you still can.  I implore you!)  Biederlack

Anyway, as I was saying, getting warm and snuggly and inert whilst watching a DVD is better in the winter.  The reason why should be obvious to anyone with a conscious.  When/if it’s warm and sunny outside, don’t you feel guilty for staying in and watching television? Aren’t you ashamed to be indoors when you could be out playing frisbee, picnicking in the park, or flying a kite?   No need to feel bad about your sloth in the autumn and winter.  Fire up the popcorn in the microwave and pop in Ghostbusters for the 50th time.  Ain’t no shame.

5.  Candle appreciation–Again, as with anything that I’ve mentioned on this list, it doesn’t HAVE to be cold outside to appreciate this item.  Candles in summer are nice…say you’re having an evening meal at a beachfront restaurant, gentle breeze rolling in, a candle on the table gently flickering–lovely.  But the long nights mean that candles are almost a necessity in autumn and winter.  Plus, the heavy and sweet scents that come with these seasons are soooo good.  Pumpkin, cinnamon, pine, vanilla, jeez even myrrh.  I’ll take ’em!  My pal Ari has his own candle line and his fig-scented one is heavenly.  Scandles No I’m not just flogging them because he’s my buddy.  It’s just that they’re good.

6.  Sledding–Obviously.  Sure, there are other winter sports that are fun.  But, I’m really not athletically gifted enough to enjoy them properly.  Sledding?  All you have to do is sit on a piece of plastic.  That, I can handle.

Now, that’s six reasons to help you feel happier in these dark and cold months.  Don’t forget, when you step into the crisp air it only bites for a few moments.  A good scarf ALWAYS helps.  Once you move around in the outdoors, you warm right up.  Just remember that you’ll like it better if you put some jazz in your earbuds and a glass of wine in your belly.  Enjoy a bit of Duke and Ella.


Filed under Hobbies, Movies, Music, Nature, Vittles