Rejected Blog Title #4: And The Blog Goes On

Cherlove I haven’t done a Cher site review for eons. But my friend Jeffrey sent me this fabulous photo of Cher’s bling-bling nails circa the 1960s. The photo came from an absolutely even more fabulous Russian site called Cher Love: http://www.cherlove.net/

Home page photo of Cher doing a 360 is a tad creepy and the colors are gray and gloomy with an odd spray of pink. It’s almost like a subliminal political statement about a modern cold war.

Sections include:

  • Film – a flat list with release dates; some personal commentary would be niceNails to add
  • Multimedia – a good video collection from 2005-2008 including Cher’s Keep a Child Alive commercial and a C-span appearance.
  • Biography – nothing for non-fans and nothing for 80s Geffen-era or Believe fans.
  • Forum – the forum is in Russian so I didn’t bother to join. I will have my Russian-speaking friend dig in to it.
  • Music -  Flat list with release dates. My only quibble with the list is that the line item "1973 The Two of Us" should be in compilations since it was basically a re-release of two S&C early 60s albums.
  • Links – Small list that’s a good to start doing your Cher surfing. I noticed yesterday that EverythingCher.com is back offline again. Sad face. So I took it off my favorites list. Another sad face.
  • News – only began two months ago but is up to date. I like that it posts movie alerts when Cher movies appear on cable. Legitimate news that is always overlooked on other sites.
  • Awards – Way cool awards list. So kewl I printed it out.
  • However, the best section is the gallery which is absolutely a delicacy: http://www.cherlove.net/gallery/ It’s organized very efficiently - how Russian of them.

Gallery is organized by:

  • Public eventsImperialcover_2
    Various public events, and other appearances.
  • Television
    Captures, press photos, interview, and other images from television series and specials. 
  • Candids
    Various paparazzi photos.
  • Professional
    Photoshoots, and modeling.
  • Films
    Captures, press photos, and posters.
  • Magazines
    Covers, and scans.
  • Live Tours
    Live tours, and concerts.
  • Other Photo
    Books, parfume, posters, art works, and other.

My favorite photo on the site so far is this one to the right above. I love that picture - so grunge-glam.

Plus an added benefit: you learn the Russian translations for all your favorite Cher words, like Mask is Маска. Cher Love: Worth it’s weight in rubles! Bravo.

   


Fan Clubbing

Dumbo4 As part of my day job, I've been reading books on website usability, learning about how web surfers typically behave on websites and what they hate most. Some things used to big usability problems, but aren’t so much anymore: for instance putting on a background of wallpaper that takes five minutes to download or putting up an “under construction” sign. As it turns out, people hate that with at passion. But its not a modern usability issue anymore because rarely do designers still do it.

Well, turns out one site is still doing it: The Official Cher Fan Club. Mr. Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group, “the world’s leading expert on web usability” (according to his book jacket), says there’s no “coming soon” about it.

You either have it or you don’t.

And the official fans have had that silly message posted for over a year now...which means:

  1. Fanclub_2 They don’t know the definition of soon.
  2. They’re probably waiting for Cher to do something which would be very frustrating if they’ve been waiting like that for over a year.
  3. They’re officially dead to me, and
  4. I completely missed my blog’s one year anniversary! Happy Birthday, My Blog! I can’t believe I’ve been bullshitting about Cher for over a year. Time flies when you’re blogging about celebrity obsession. 

Sometimes I feel there should be Cher usability studies for all the “coming soon” rumors in her oeuvre. Mame, Vegas, the next CD or movie rumors.

It’s been a few days of weird gossip, actually: Sonny’s son Chesare’s rumored affair with Lindsey Lohan while in rehab (and strangely, it’s not the Lohan angle of that story that bothers me most), no CD, no Vegas show. I think we’re all just feeling restless for Cher product. Constant delays to current projects have prompted recent chattering on the Cher list that Cher might be seriously ill. Someone brought up the idea that she counseled Farrah Fawcett on cancer treatments in Germany because she had personal experience with said treatments. This is just a rumor, of course; but we’re feeling preemptively sad about that kind of possibility. Like Sonny was Cher’s Dumbo’s Feather, for many fans, Cher is their Dumbo’s Feather. :-(

    


Danny Boy and the Thirteenth High School Confession

Nyro I'm back from my bittersweet high school reunion. The trip was great. Gave my bf a big hometown tour of me. Don’t worry, he didn’t suffer. There were plenty of river boats, historical re-enactors and pre-historic mounds to keep him happy. Story and pics coming soon.

In the meantime, Cherworld has posted an amazingly unusual Cher interview (it’s European, of course). Give it a looksee. Something about it will relate to my high school reunion story.

For my bf’s birthday last year I gave him two Laura Nyro CDs. He had expressed interest in my Nyro/LaBelle CD which I bought because I love Patty LaBelle. Still, he didn’t like Laura Nyro at all (although since yesterday, I discovered he secretly has been listening to one of them at work) and these two CDs have been on my list of things to listen to for about a year. Two days ago I finally put on Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, her breakout album on the Columbia label with then-manager David Geffen.

First of all, I had placed Nyro in the mid 70s, not late 60s. Knowing this tid-bit unlocked a door for me. I can say I finally get it: her fluid genre-melds are pretty amazing for the time and her lyrics are poeticly playful. I’m still not very fond of her soprano voice. It’s too shrill for me most of the time. But I love “Sweet Blindness” and “Stoned Soul Picnic” and “Poverty Train” has really grown on me. And best of all, I finally see from where came Nelly McKay!

I’m a bit overwhelmed with catching up on Cher news this week but I did join my first Facebook Cher group: If You Don't Love Cher, You Are A Dirty Dirty Communist. Good questions are not really brewing there yet but I did see a good question on the Yahoo!Chergroups list posted by daniel martinez:

What Cher song has the most meaning to you and why?

This is a particularly difficult question for me. I’m not very sentimental about Cher songs. I’m much more academic and cerebral about my love of Cher music. Her albums do notate the timeline of my life but mostly as a background soundtrack. For instance, we used to yell the chorus of “Laugh at Me” before doing belly bombs into our neighborhood pool. I also remember re-enacting the storyline of “Send the Man Over” from Cherished. However, I was only 8 years old and the major sexual innuendos in the song went over my innocent five-foot head. I guess the two songs that tug on my heart-sleeves would be "Somebody" and "Danny Boy."

"Somebody" reminds me of being five or six years old in the mid-70s, listening to Sonny & Cher on my parents phonograph in our front living room – lots of New Mexico sunlight, the jump rope as my microphone. Groovy times. I love Cher’s vocal on that song. And "Danny Boy" always makes me vaclempt. The sadness in her voice. Speaking from beyond the grave. It’s all there. You can read more about my top 10 favorite Cher songs on Cherscholar.

      


Cher Clips Made Easy

Last week I found this wonderful catalogue of Cher YouTube clips under the site Vid-arena’s experiment of pitting different divas against each other in YouTube dominance.

http://www.vidarena.com/cher-vs-madonna-video_767_5_vidobPDuaIWfvE.html#videos

I haven’t surfed all the clips but there is a touching tribute to Gregg Allman found there set to the music of “My Song” with some fine candid shots. You might find some new stuff you haven't seen before.

   


Rejected Blog Title #3: Bell Bottom Blog

Building CheEmpires and Education

Castle Cher Castle
I had horrendous pop-up issues with this site all three times I tried to get get on (from two different computers even). Many links are broken – it’s possible this is a ghost town of Cherness. The graphics are worth a looksee...that cute winking photo...but I couldn’t bring up the forum or the chat. The biography was scrolling text too fast for me to read. Most annoyingly, I couldn’t resize the window to get to all the menu items.

...not to be confused with Cher Palace which is now a Yahoo! Group of 800 some people.

Army_2To support a palace or a castle, you need an Army of Cher is a fan database, basically another brand of social site, a place to chat with other fans and create fan profiles. There’s a small amount of multimedia here and the design is the least Cher-sparkly of any I’ve seen for a while. Interestingly conservative. It’s unusual. It intrigues me. I wish I could join all the social hubs of Cher out there. I really do.

UniversityCher University!
Oooh...Cher Scholar loves school! Cher Scholar wants to go back to school. There’s a page of firsts and a list of facts, and active forum, an album database and 102 members in the Yahoo! Group section. It’s a good start but I need more stuff - a syllabus, more homework, more tests! I did love playing with the bubbles.

Cher Web Sites in 1997

This all reminds me of the year of 1997 when I was at Sarah Lawrence studying poetry. My fiction writer Julie had to leave for a semester and she asked me to go into the college computer lab (a place I had never been before and thought must be filled with computer geeks) and send her school news via her email account. It was scary. What if I couldn't figure it out? What if I broke something?. Julie emailed about web surfing and starting up an online opinion magazine (this became Ape Culture in 1998). I had no idea what web surfing was. I went to the Yahoo! site she pointed me to and typed in "Cher" for lack of any other ideas. And that's how I learned how to use the world wide web. (It's also how I learned to use those green periodical books at the library). At the time, there were only two sites about Cher, something vaguely official looking with Cher informercial pages and a great site from the UK called Cher Dedication. It had scrumptious essays, invaluable postings about Cher appearances (this was around the time of the "First Time" book tour) and the first web postings of "Believe" clips. I remember thinking "eh, not too catchy."

Later that year after I got my first computer, a Micron.  I spent a whole day surfing through every site on the web that mentioned Cher. Isn't that mind-blowing? In 1997 I managed to find all Cher references on the freakin' Internet! One-hundred monkeys couldn't do that today.
   


Cher-Its and Bits

Ford Toodle-loo

My Cher Friends, you will be getting four posts this week. This is because I’m leaving Saturday for nine days of vacation bliss in Amish country, Pennsylvania. The bf and I are visiting my family there for small-towney 4th of July celebrations in Lititz, which is near Blue Ball and Intercourse. You’ve all heard the joke; now I’m living the dream. Actually, Amish country is very interesting, not just for the Amish, but for the other old, alternative religious orders that flourished there in Pennsylvania during the early American centuries. Read previous Ape Culture reviews about Amish country.

Cher Site of the Month

I have been remiss in doing my Cher site reviews for months. But someone on Chergroups found this one recently. It has a Myspace feel but a great catalog of pictures:
http://www.bebo.com/Profile.jsp?MID=367137231&MemberId=3668384741

Anniversary of an Ending

Tyler from Chergroups reminded us all that June 26, 32 years ago, was a sad day in Cher history: it was the day in 1975 that Sonny and Cher's divorce was finalized in a courtroom in Santa Monica, California.  Happy day for Cher who was preparing to marry Gregg Allman…but what about us???

Songs Cher Should Cover

If Cher were my bf, she'd say "Don't should on me!"

However, I’d really love to hear Cher go spiritual. Her songs of late, like "Human" and others from her last three Warner Bros albums, indicate Cher’s picking of more introspective material. She’d do a groovy gospel  (1971s "Somebody" is a testament to that). She could even give it a California twist. Two songs would easily accommodate: Allen Toussaint's’s recent gem “We Are One” and a song from the last Norah Jones album, “Humble Me.” Not quite the wailers you'd hear in church, but contemplative little pieces about brotherhood and humility. She could still sing them in a unitard with sequins. God can get jiggy with it.
   


Bad News Birthday

Cher_birthday_flyer1_3 Cher is 61 years of lovely living now...very well done. Her birthday was last weekend. Fans rejoiced all over the globe. Drank Dr. Peppers while listening to Cher's greatest hits compilations. By the way, I recently drank a Dr. Pepper when my office ran out of diet Coke...and this is after I went and said I wouldn't a few posts back. Can I say I love that my office provides free soda?

Unfortunately, I’ve never been a big birthday celebrator. Once when I was thirteen I threw a dinner party on Sonny's birthday. I remember my friends all seemed very confused. "Why are we celebrating Sonny Bono's birthday?" But that was my last blast. Like my birthday, it's just another day.

Unfortunately for me, Cher's birthday is not just another day. Unfortunately, two years ago her birthday began to mark a sad historical event in my life...the night when I caught an ex-bf out with another gal at a somewhat steamy movie on a Friday night when he had previously told me he had to baby-sit is his three kids that night. I came to find out, in the span of five minutes of shock and awe, that the person I had moments earlier thought was a stand-up character and attentive parent was actually an habitual liar. Sobbing did ensue. And all this soon after an unfortunate stint with a jazz pianist who wasn’t all that into me, as that bestseller so kindly put it.

They both came around, I guess, after I had moved on and was then harder, if not impossible, to be regot; and that alleviated the pain somewhat but it was definitely a particularly rough time for me that night of May 20, 2004, when I was cursing Northern Irishman and jazz pianists the world over and getting drunk on some mysterious green concoction my room-mate made to drown our stunned sorrows.

That night also reinforced in me what I’ve been saying about LA for years: it’s is a small, small town, smallest town of any city I’ve ever lived in. I lived in NYC for four years and never once ran across anyone I knew on the street or anyone who knew anyone I knew. In LA this happens all the time. Someone walks in my office and I know them through another friend; an interviewer knows someone’s wife whose husband I used to work with. Co-workers know other past co-workers. How could it happen in all the gin joints of LA, I would walk in on my cheating date...in this outrageously sprawling metropolis?

Maybe it was a strike of good luck at the end of the day. At the time, it felt terrible...very bad-luck-Cherbdayshowad_2 like. I don’t particularly like the day May 20 any more. I tread though it very carefully now...like something bad might happen or because that old shell shock demands my respect.

And it never helps that there are always a smattering of blogs and sites out there which commemorate Cher’s birthday with cracks about plastic surgery next to photographs of her now and back the 70s with pig-tails. This is simply a 21st century annoyance we must now bear as fans of the unwitting poster-child of cosmetic enhancements.

I came across another despicable site this week, one describing ridiculous and unnecessary tabloid tactics, this one regarding Cher’s reaction to Sonny’s death. Simply gruesome in its dehumanization of celebrities. Also disturbing is the reference within the page about a celebrity who participated in trying to generate their own tabloid coverage.

Speaking of my room-mate who fed me powerful alcoholic concoctions I so needed two years ago on Cher’s birthday...she is going through a tough time this week. I was set to fly out to meet her in St. Louis this weekend. We were going to make a cross-country drive from the Gateway Arch to LA to move her ailing Dad. Sadly, his health took a turn for the worse in the last few days. All plans to move to LA were canceled. She could definitely use your thoughts and prayers at this time.

On the brighter side, Cher’s birthday did bring about two fan gatherings last weekend. One in Chicago (pic top), hosted by "Chicago's Very Own Cher" at the Kit Kat Lounge complete with a "Turn Back Time" martini and large video screens playing "Mermaids" and "Moonstruck" all night. I would totally have gone to that if I lived in Chicago. We never get stuff like that out West.

New York City also loves Cher (pic to right). A 61st birthday party was hosted by Cher Connection on Saturday near  Madison Square Garden. Check out Cher Connection's fan gathering photos.

And one of my poems was just published in the Spring 2007 issue of The Wisconsin Review (Vol 41 Issue 2), a poem called "At 5th and Pacific." This is a little lyric about passion in life and wanting to bust out. It’s my veritable I love a parade poem and one you may find useful if you wind up having a sad week like this.

You can order a copy for $5 at: The Wisconsin Review, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, 800 Algoma Blvd., Oskhosh, WI  45901.

 


Cher Spaces

Chersite Rumor had it that Cher.com officially sanctioned the news about Cher replacing Celine Dion at Caesars Palace in Vegas next year. Although I dreaded doing it, I visited Cher.com to see if this was true. Almost immediately I was reminded why I never visit this official Cher website. There’s been no news update since her auction last year, and certainly no mention of any upcoming Vegas deal, upcoming album, upcoming movie, or links to Cher causes so fans can join the bandwagon and donate, or any other such things that a fan of a major celebrity website might expect. There’s even a broken link in the main navigation to the Cher store. A broken main navigation link!  What a ghost-town this site is!

Cher’s official site has always been high on effects and low on content. The maddening thing is that this is also what the public-at-large has accused Cher herself of being: all fluff and no substance. Well, the site subliminally confirms. As usual, I am frustrated in three minutes and I leave in a huff.

One of Cher’s great strengths is that she resists a kind of Dolly-Parton type of Unchanging Presence. I love Dolly, don’t get me wrong; but Dolly has habits of image that have stuck years upon years. Cher re-invents and this is why she is so representative of her time, decade after decade. But unfortunately that kind of skill of habit is what you need to run a decent web site.

Crappy site or not, Cher fans are very loyal. It’s a very unrequited relationship: “Rejection always was our bitter pill.” Getting information out to the fans is a low priority and the site would be a ghost-town except for its still-active forums, which on Cher.com can be a veritable insane asylum.

So there's been recent talk among fans about Cher having a MySpace page at www.myspace.com/cherdotcom. Is it fer real? The big yahoo Cher group has been debating the issue. Here are my two wooden nickels on the subject:

Yes it is?
Because Cher.com is a lonely place without Cher actually being there, we’d love to believe Cher has an active Myspace page and this page is definitely friendlier than Cher.com , certainly with a lot of words and links splashed around. What I hate about MySpace is the messiness of the layout and complete absence of any information architecture. Everyone looks like a maniacal ego trip in two columns -- with or without some zany background tile. This is why I have yet to join Myspace (along with my general dislike of joining things). It's hard to read.

Can we image Cher devoting her time to a Myspace page? I would more likely believe it if someone in her entourage advised her of its marketing advantages, (they’re so popular with the kids and all), and she decided to relegate it to some under-appreciated, over-worked, personal assistant underling. This Myspace page reflects a more low-key Cher and definitely hits upon her up-to-date interests, unlike the web site: Harley motorcycles, the men of the US armed forces, and a corner of memorial space for Sonny Bono.

But no it isn’t!
There’s just something in the “About Me” section that seems off-tone. Cher describes herself as a “mature actress.” Mature is not a word I’ve ever heard Cher use to describe herself. Then the page incorrectly claims Cher won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Silkwood. She didn’t win that award. Linda Hunt did. It’s very hard to swallow the idea that Cher or any Cher peon would forget how many Oscar’s she had. Also, the home page pictures are not personal or rare;  they’re all news photos, something any fan could grab off the Internet. I can’t access the photo album or blog; but I’m tempted to join just to get a peek at them. On the Yahoo group, one fan doubted this site’s authenticity, commenting that official Myspace pages generally have a music player at page top (see Taylor Hicks’ official page). This proves legitimacy apparently because one has to be certified as themselves before installing such a player.

But yet it could be…
Well, if you’ve been a fan of Cher for a long time you know that sloppiness isn’t a stranger to Cher product from time to time. So unfortunately that doesn’t rule her out. Peons do make mistakes after all, player installations could be too much of a hassle, and since when has the Cher camp actively promoted any Cher music but what has been on the store shelves for under 6 months. Besides, in Cher’s Friends’ Comments, Tommy R. of Malt from Shoppe Productions seems to think the space is real.

So Cher sites, real or not, give us no reliable link to Cher news. Even the official fan page has been deserted of late. It’s a pity. I guess until those hot little Vegas tickets show up on the Caesars Palace or ticket bastard websites, I will never feel sure Cher will indeed replace Celine Dion. I mean just because Liz Smith writes about it: it aint necessarily so. In Cherworld, that’s just a declaration of intent.

But I will be happily surprised when the time comes to shell out hundreds of dollars for a new Vegas Cher show. Seriously. I’m not being facetious. Well, not entirely. I’ve always wanted to see Cher in Vegas. I just thought I’d be a rich adult when the time came.

   


Rejected Blog Title #2: Blog of Stone

Don't you sometimes wish your blog was a blog of stone? Me too. It's tough to watch great Cher websites come and go. People get busy. Lives move on. Fans auction away their savings for dusty feather boas.

I wanted to take this opportunity to express concern for the great sites that are down. Everything Cher was down for a good while but I see it's back up. That's great, because it's a comprehensive site with some quirky special things about it.

    

Jpcbanner

Just Plain Cher is not back up, however, since back around Cher auction time (at least that's when the news post look like they've stopped coming). I'm worried about this site because it's one of my personal favorites. JPC has been up a long time, and some great material has rotated on and off the site, some great reviews you couldn't find elsewhere, like of rare TV specials for instance. This was run by long-time fandom and I loved their perspecitve on Cher stuff. Text wise, it was the strongest site. JPC also had a very current news feature, as well. Plus easy-to-use forums and some creative games like the Gypsy Fortune Teller. There was definitely some scholarship happening on that site. JPC, we hope you're doing okay and making plans to return someday.

            

Everythingcher I missed Everything Cher, too. Although its forum isn't as active, the site has a comprehensive Cher Tattoo Index! And other great stuff under Miscellaneous including Cher on stamps, in comix and other quirky Cher collectibles. There's also a page on the disturbing process of making the newest version of the Cher doll. And, if you purchased the computer game 9 because Cher's voice was on it and learned quickly that a walk-through guide was necessary because you spend more time collecting Cher crap than playing video games and therefore your game IQ is now pathetically low, Everything Cher offers such a guide.

And if you're ready to start a Cher collection from scratch, the blueprint for you is here: a great collectible book list, magazines to look for, a video/DVD list, and Cher music organized in alternative ways for your various educational needs. The album section shows cover art, song titles, song times and basic album details.

Only the news and tour schedule information is moldy oldie. Which possibly means the site is existing virtually parent-less, but that's okay. As a ghost town, it's still a valuable piece of Cher scholarship.

 


Rejected Blog Title #1: When My Bloggies Have Dollies

CherworldYou'd think Cher.com would be the end-all-be-all of Cher sites. Alas...no. If you're a Cher fan looking for a comprehensive site or fan-made trades, visit the awesomely-obsessed fan sites instead. I'd love to review them all right away. So much time, energy and luv went into them. Some are flashy, some are stylish and some are a bit busy.

I'll start with CherWorld (www.cherworld.com) for this reason: besides Google searches and Wikipedia, most of my www.cherscholar.com visitors come from Cher World. Enough said. CherWorld loves Cher because she continues to "raise eyebrows." This site definitely captures Cher's variety, outrageousness and fashion.

Site strengths

  • Most up-to-date news items - posted frequently
  • Active forums - today someone posted a picture of a Cher-themed pumpkin. Forum topics include general chat, albums, movies, live concerts, collectibles, photos, letters to Cher, games and an off-topic section.
  • Song downloads - remixes and rare songs like "Love is in the Air"
  • Video downloads - rare videos like Cher's performance at the U.S. Superbowl and British TV appearances
  • Comprehensive, alphabetical song lyrics
  • Fan store with a calendar, photos, a Cher crystal and Cher-autographed items (nice but too expensive for me)
  • Organized photo galleries
  • Colorful, fan-submitted wallpapers
  • E-cards! We love 'em! Some hilarious flash cards!
  • Small preview areas of Cher products from Allposters.com and ebay.com to get your Cher collection started
  • It's a robust site - I don't see a lot of error messages or broken links
  • Has a wonderful link list of other Cher sites that lead lots of visitors to www.cherscholar.com!

Room for Improvement

  • I can't decide if the layout is a little loud and busy or exciting and active.
  • Whoops...some spelling errors. No biggie. You can find those here, too.
  • Comprehensive singles and albums list with chart information - but which country's chart is it? I'm not sure.
  • Why do I need Cher email? I'm not sure about that either. Or a Guestbook.
  • Login can be confusing as there's a different login for your email and the forum. I got my passwords confused and it took a half an hour to sort it all out with an email reminder. Also, your password is very complicated and I can't see where to change it to something simple.
  • It's hard to find the most current forum posts because you can't sort the list by date.
  • There's an outdated Tour link (it does have the European tour date list, though) and a Library link that forwards you to a News archive.
  • The Films list is missing a few movies.

I haven't explored the Fan area much. There's an online chat there and a profile you can fill out. CherWorld promises to send your profile to Cher.

Overall, the site is tip-top, one of the best Cher sites out there and it has the fanbase to prove it. Behind Cher.com, imdb.com and Wikipedia, Google ranks CherWorld next in popularity. It's the highest ranked fan site. You may need the shockwave plug-in available on the site to view all the features. You can also sign up to the mailing list. I did and I'm looking forward to my first e-mail. Stay tuned. I may not be getting Official Cher Fanclub e-mail; but soon I'll be getting CherWorld email. Whoo-hoo! I'll take it!