Thursday, December 31, 2009


I secretly love (insert song title here). I secretly love (insert movie title here). I secretly love (insert name of pariah-like music or movie star here). I secretly love this. I secretly love that. As my friends know, whenever I begin a sentence with the magic words "I secretly love...," I'm about to reveal my latest guilty pleasure.

I secretly stole the whole "secretly" thing from my friend Maureen 12 years ago, at the height of the Titanic craze. I was one of the few who hadn't seen the movie, refusing to view it on I-will-not-follow-the-masses principle (to this day, I still haven't watched it in its entirety), and Maureen knew it. One day while we were having lunch, she turned to me and sheepishly whispered, "I secretly loved Titanic."

I was as appalled as I am by the fact that last night my friend Roger secretly talked me into seeing Avatar, director James Cameron's latest must-see spectacle and Best Picture Oscar contender, when it comes out in Buenos Aires on New Year's Day. Roger's description of the film sort of blew me away. I secretly think that I'll secretly love it. Get ready for my first guilty pleasure of 2010!

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite guilty pleasures. I secretly love them!

Britney Spears in the "Gimme More" video
It looks like a soft-core porn footage that was secretly shot from behind someone's trench coat, and Britney's blond wig is beyond ugly and fake looking. That and the back story (meltdown-era Britney was probably out of control and out of her mind when she filmed it) make the clip a work of mad genius.

"Can I Touch You There?" by Michael Bolton
I never hated Michael Bolton as much as the next guy, and this surprisingly soulful, sexy 1995 single -- though it was only a moderate U.S. success, it was one of his few Top 10 UK hits -- would probably rank among my favorites from last decade.

College Food Staple: Ramen noodles
Back in my University of Florida days, they were a staple of my diet because I couldn't afford to eat anything else. I thought they were out of my life for good, until I spotted them on the shelf of a Buenos Aires supermercado. Feeling nostalgic, I picked up a package. Now, they are once again a staple of my diet. Why? Because they're still cheap, and they taste so damn good.

Meg Ryan romantic comedies
Nothing about America's one-time sweetheart impresses me much, but whenever I come across French Kiss or You've Got Mail while channel surfing, I always stick around until the end of the movie.

My Best Friend's Wedding
Speaking of romantic comedies, am I the only one who thinks this one from 1997 has aged particularly well? Dermot Mulroney aside (who's as bland than usual, perhaps necessarily so, like Will to Grace, Jack and Karen), all of the principals -- Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett -- deserved Oscar nominations for their comedic efforts.

One Life To Live
Some dismiss it as the weakest link between All My Children and General Hospital in ABC's weekday-afternoon programming. Not me. The soap, which I watched with my mom as a child (didn't we all?) and rediscovered in the early '00s, is the only TV show I watch on YouTube. My fascination with OLTL is now so complete that some of the characters -- Bo, Nora, Dorian, Blair, Natalie, Christian -- have even begun to pop up in my dreams.

Pamela Anderson and Liz Hurley
The tabloid developments in their individual love lives bore me to tears, but when the Canadian and Brit bombshells hit the 2001 Vanity Fair Oscar after-party together, it gave me a special sort of thrill that only a straight guy would understand.

My hipster friends would be appalled, but I loved the late-'80s teen queen's first four singles ("I Think We're Alone Now," "Could've Been," "I Saw Him Standing There," "All This Time"), and perhaps most shockingly of all, whether or not John Lennon would have agreed, as Beatles covers go, I secretly think "I Saw Him Standing There" is a match for Anne Murray's "You Won't See Me."

Two And A Half Men
Like just about every fellow expatriate I know, I never watched the show until I moved to Buenos Aires. But thank God, we're all so desperate for American TV. Like just about every fellow expatriate I know, it's now must-see TV. I'm glad it's on about a half dozen times a day!


And five things I not so secretly just don't get...

1. Facebook applications What is Pet Society, FarmVille and Mafia Wars, and why is everyone sending me annoying invitations to join in on the "fun"?

2. Event movies That would include action flicks, superhero flicks and any 2009 flick starring Shia LaBeouf, Channing Tatum and Robert Pattinson -- or older ones starring Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis.

3. College football Actually, every kind of football -- including soccer! -- but I generally find post-graduation obsession with university sports to be upsetting and kind of pathetic.

4. Stand-up comedy I love a good sitcom, but someone standing alone on a stage trying to make me crack up simply makes me want to throw up.

5. Retro obsession I love a great throwback '80s tune as much as anyone, and yes, music has seen better days, but there's enough decent music currently being made that I shouldn't have to take a trip down (bad) memory lane every time I walk into a bar or club in Buenos Aires.

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