So, I saw Madonna LIVE…

Madonna’s latest tour is an incredible, out-of-this-world spectacular. The high-energy, exciting show is yet another reminder to us all that the cultural groundbreaker is still the Queen of Pop.

On October 10th, I had the incredible privilege of seeing the one and only Queen live at the Los Angeles Staples Center. As a die-hard fan, the experience was both visually stunning and one of the best times of my life. As soon as the lights went down, I joined the stadium in ecstatic cheers and calls of “Yeah! Madonna!”

Aside from seeing my favorite artist and performer, I was amazed at the amount of detail and energy that went in to the show. The sets and screens pushed the technological envelope as did the 54-year-old superstar’s endless amount of energy and toned physique that puts women half her age to shame. The show progressed through different themes, beginning in a gothic cathedral and ending in a Benny Benassi-mixed dance number. It had everything: bare-chested, chanting monks… in heels, a Kill Bill-esque fight scene, vintage majorette uniforms, gender-bending models strutting their stuff to “Vogue,” and even a Joan of Arc-inspired outfit – all designed by long-time Madonna-collaborating designer Jean-Paul Gaultier (Madonna’s iconic coned bra and various tours).

Nobody puts on a show like Madonna. She is one of the great musical performers of our time, up there with both Michael and Janet Jackson and Prince.

She began touring in May and has been performing in sold-out arenas and stadiums all over Europe and North America since. The MDNA Tour is the superstar’s ninth concert tour in her 30-year career and is on track to become one of the highest grossing tours of all time. The last time she toured the world, four years ago, her Sticky & Sweet Tour raked in a record-breaking $408 million dollars, the highest-grossing tour by a solo artist and the fourth highest-grossing tour of all time.

Madonna also got political in the middle of the show, and urged concert goers to register to vote and never “take [our] freedom for granted.” She spoke of the human rights violations in Russia, where over 70 men were arrested for simply being gay and a band was jailed for speaking out against the government.  She even dedicated a heart-felt song to Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head for blogging about the importance of education for women.

She told the audience:

“…support the people that support your freedom…register to f***ing vote, ok?! Take responsibility for your future and your destiny…support the people that support education and support the people that support women, and being gay, or being Muslim, or Christian, or a Jew…none of you have any business being complacent and all of you have a responsibility for the person standing next to you, and don’t you ever forget it!”

This take-charge-of-your-life-and-future idea is the very thing that has kept Madonna on top and relevant since the 1980s. Many artists have come and gone since then, some who many thought would outlive the “outrageous,” “one-hit-wonder” Madonna. It’s 2012 and she has sold over 300 million albums worldwide. She is the top-selling female artist of time. Billboard has her at the top of the “Top 10 Singles” list, ahead of Elvis, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

Her in-charge attitude has inspired a generation, including many of today’s leading artists like Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Katy Perry. We wouldn’t have “Mother Monster” or “Sasha Fierce” or even the “California Gurl” had it not been for the trailblazing legacy of Madonna and her unapologetic style.

Sure, she stays with the times and is often slightly ahead of them; she collaborates with fresh, up-and-coming artists and DJs. Her look and sound are routinely reinvented throughout a single decade. But catchy, dance-inducing music and style is not the only thing that has kept her relevant all these years.

This is the woman who spoke out for LGBT equality during the height of the AIDS crisis. This is the woman who broke sexual and cultural taboos during the conservative time of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority.” The Catholic Church had a field day with her video for “Like a Prayer,” which depicted stigmata, burning crosses and romance with a saint. Her music video for “Justify My Love” was banned by MTV in the early 1990s because of its depictions of bisexuality, gay couples kissing, and nudity. Her reaction to the establishment’s outrage: in 1992, she released a tongue-in-cheek, soft-core pornographic coffee table book that sold out in a matter of days. Her provocative style spurred discussions on sexuality, censorship and the role tradition plays in society.

Throughout her career, the critics and culture warriors declared her “finished” and derided her as a bad influence. They scapegoated her and did their best to end her career. By the late 1990s, her image had softened – she had become a mother and embraced spirituality. But her feminist message of equality and inner strength have never ceased.

Her drive and bravery are still clearly seen today; in June, while performing her 1994 hit “Human Nature” in the predominantly Muslim, very conservative country of Turkey – where many women have to wear burqas – she briefly exposed her right breast. No apologies. No regrets (as the song says).

Madonna is a force of nature within the music industry. Her legacy and bold attitude have paved the way for many of the artists we consider “innovative” today. At 54, she’s still vibrant, healthy, energetic and unapologetic. Seeing her perform in LA was a surreal experience for me and an experience I’ll never forget. In the vocally-morphed words of Nicki Minaj, “There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna, b*tch!” I’m pretty sure she’ll outlive us all. 😉

For my many other Madonna posts, click here 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful for. One thing we all can and should take pride in is that we are all unique. There’s only one of you and me. Be thankful for being who you are. 🙂

 

“There’s Only One Sydney Bristow”

Beyoncé was right: Girls run the world. For example, the best international super-spy on Earth is not James Bond. It’s a woman. She’s saved the world, many times while donning wigs and sexy outfits. Whether she’s posing as Russian room service in a fancy hotel, a casino show girl or a part of the Japanese club scene, she manages to outsmart her adversaries…and kick their asses using Krav Maga kicks and punches.

I am talking about the one and only Sydney Bristow, the main character on ABC’s classic show Alias. The show premiered back in the Fall of 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Alias introduced us to Ms. Bristow (played by the fantastic, does-her-own-stunts Jennifer Garner), a beautiful grad student and double agent with the CIA. The nation felt vulnerable and unsure of its future in a post-9/11 world. So, on Sunday nights at 9 pm, we eagerly awaited to see where Agent Sydney Bristow would go next and how she would defend the United States and the rest of the world from destruction.

As an F-you to all sexists of the world, Sydney was more than capable of taking care of herself; One of the staples of the show was her expert knowledge and deadly use of Krav Maga, an efficient, brutal, counter-attack form of self-defense invented by the Israeli military. It didn’t matter if you were another woman or 300+ pound man – If you were in her way, THE femme fatale was taking you down with lethal, precise force. Sure, she got her ass kicked many times. But it was all a part of the realistic charm. After five action-packed, plot-twisting seasons, the show came to an end in the Spring of 2006. Despite the fact that no new episodes have been broadcast since then, it is still and always will be my favorite show.

I own all the seasons of Alias on DVD and always enjoy watching it. The show was brilliantly cast with top quality actors and actresses. The storylines are deep and intense and somehow, it’s always easy to relate to Sydney. Alias aired when I was a teenager and for every hard situation I found myself in, including many dark personal times, I would ask myself, “How would Sydney handle this?” I never planned on using martial arts on people even though the thought frequently crossed my mind for “certain” individuals. What I loved most about Sydney was that she was emotionally strong and self-reliant. She had to endure incredible personal issues all while navigating difficult family/friend relationships and working as an international field agent with the CIA. She would cry. She would struggle. She was on the verge of breaking many times. But she kept on going. After every situation, she emerged a stronger person.

I realize Sydney is only a fictional character. However, the situations she found herself in were quite real. There have been many times in my own life when I thought that I wouldn’t make it. I’ve thought to myself, “There’s no recovering from this.” “There’s no way…” “How can I go on normally after this?” Although those times were dark and trying, I emerged a stronger and more confidant person, much like Sydney did. Of course, I can’t minimize the impact and support family and friends have had on me – I’m extremely fortunate to have some amazing people in my life. But, this post is about how Sydney Bristow inadvertently helped me become a stronger person. 😉

So, the next time you come across Alias, take a little time to watch it. Enjoy it. Be entertained. Be amazed. Learn something about yourself, too. Alias managed to meld action, espionage, girl power and self-betterment all into one, hour-long time slot on Sunday nights. It was and always will be a brilliant show.

 

*The title of this post is the name of the 100th episode 🙂

Let’s Get One Thing Straight

I value my relationships. I have friends and family of all different political, philosophical and religious stripes. Through all the disagreement and dialogue, we still love and value each other at the end of the day. Life is too short and too valuable to get hung up on things like ideological differences. Why reject a friend or a potential friend because they’re not just like you? Why go through life like that?

I don’t understand why many people take criticism of their beliefs/views as “hateful.” Sure, there are asshats out there who insult an opposing view outright. I completely understand the outrage from that.

However, I don’t understand when someone takes polite criticism as completely negative. The person takes all of their detractors (including people they were supposedly on good terms with) and puts them into one boat and then tells ’em all to f*** off. Am I missing something here?

I’m the kind of person who dwells on things like this. I take  more than I should to heart and I know I shouldn’t. Life’s too short to get bogged down by people like that. I guess I’ll just have to be more careful.

On This Day…

Today is my 22nd birthday. Woohoo!

Being the history geek I am, I thought it’d be fun and educational to post other important events that also happened on this day 😉

 

 

Today, in 1858, the first transatlantic telegraph cable was completed, linking North America with Europe.

Today, in 1861, President Lincoln imposes the first federal income tax (of 3 percent on incomes over $800) to help pay for the Civil War.

Today, in 1944, hundreds of Jews are freed from forced labor in Warsaw, Poland.

Today, in 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. Investigators late ruled the cause of death as suicide.

Today, in 1963, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States, the USSR and Great Britain.

And of course, today, in 1989, I was born 🙂

 

See other historic events that happened today at History.com

 

Bullseye: Adventures of a Target Team Member Pt. 3

Here is the latest installment of my series on being a Target Team Member. Have as much fun reading this as I had finding these situations…

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This culturally fascinating show is usually on in the break room. On this episode…..

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Those of us who have iPhones at Target cannot last two minutes without them…especially when you’re playing “Spongebob Squarepants Diner Dash.”

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I found this package of cookies on top of the freezer displays. I’m not sure how the guest came to the conclusion that this is where cookies go. At least it wasn’t IN the freezer.

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I can’t help myself; Who wants some chocolate condoms?! 😉

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It’s usually great when people give away their coupons. However, when those coupons are expired and left on a shelf rather than in a trashcan, it isn’t that great.

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The guest could not have at least put this gallon of milk in the wrong spot in the dairy cooler. No, he or she thought it would be alright to leave it on a shelf at room temperature. How kind of them…

 

Bullseye: Adventures of a Target Team Member Pt. 2

Here it is, ladies and gentlement, part two of my groundbreaking series on the fabulous and lavish life of a Target Team Member. Enjoy 😉

 

 

 

This is another one of the people I have become great friends with at Target – Christine. When you hear “spunk” or “funny” or “flamboyant,” think of this woman. Here, she is seen oozing glamour 🙂

I’m not really sure what this poor guest is going for with the whacked-out hair. I saw her talking to one of the Mobile Solutions (cell phone contracts for various brands) representatives and couldn’t help myself. I’m guessing a bag of Cheetos was the inspiration for this….”hairstyle.”

Not only did I find this carton of milk crammed into a smaller slot, I found it on the shelf above its home location. But, I totally understand; Sometimes, that one outstretch of the arm to a foot lower is too much work.

 

When I saw this Academy Award-winning blockbuster (for $5 on Blu-Ray) on the shelf, I just had to take a picture. I’m a huge sci-fi fan but I think this movie looks so bad, even the producers of Plan Nine From Outer Space would think it’s a bomb.