I never cared about what's standard, accepted or normal to anyone else. This is the place where I talk about my obsessions and infatuations: the Sacramento Kings, Miami Dolphins, my favorite TV shows and hip-hop albums, and pretty much anything that pops into my head. My life is about finding forever and believing in the impossible dream. I have this site because it reminds me I've got to fight every day.
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|Posted by doktakra on August 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM||comments (1)|
Yes, I waited in line for three hours to meet R. Kelly. And yes, it was totally worth it.
As much as I make fun of Kellz for his oftentimes absurd lyrics, he remains my favorite musician, and with a half-day at work, naturally, I'd head to a downtown Barnes and Noble for his book singning.
After getting my wristband, for which I had to buy a copy of his memoir, Soulacoaster, even though I already have one at home that I'd pre-ordered on Amazon (this is why returns were invented), I took my place in line around 3pm, three hours before he was scheduled to appear. Several hundred fans were already there, sitting in camping chairs and laying down on the floor inside the store, and with the speakers blasting tracks from his latest album Write Me Back, the crowd was singing along as if it were a concert.
Almost immediately, the music was interrupted by a disappointing message: despite the event description stating that, time permitting, R. Kelly would pose for photos, his camp asked fans to not take any pictures and that the singer wouldn't personalize books or sign other items. Everyone groaned and sighed, but I could overhear several people around me say they'd still take photos and try to convince him to write an inscription. I was glad I wasn't the only one.
Surprisingly, right around 6pm, R. Kelly came out with minimal fanfare, and just about every woman collectively jumped up and down, screamed, cried and talked about how "fine" he is. Apparently, Kellz rarely does public appearances (and had actually cancelled several signings in recent weeks), so this was a huge deal to many fans who'd been hoping to meet him for as many as 20 years.
He wouldn't let them down. In typical R. Kelly fashion, he grabbed the microphone, thanked the attendees for the support, and made an announcement. Yep, he was remixing the event.
"First off, I'm gonna change all the rules," he said to the delight of the crowd. "You can take as many photos as you want."
As great as that sounded, he didn't actually change all of the rules, since he still wasn't going to personalize books, meaning any chance I had of getting him to write, "Alex – no one can rock "Ignition (Remix)" in karaoke better than you" was officially gone.
Kellz sat down, replaced his sunglasses with a pair of regular, rimless specs, and turned on the charm. He was gracious enough to talk to every one of his mostly overwhelmed fans for a few seconds, and even obliged to requests for hugs and kisses on the cheek, which caused some women to hyperventilate on the spot (seriously).
Before I knew it, I was almost at the front of the line and realized that I still wasn't sure what I'd tell him. I figured the karaoke idea was lame and unoriginal, so I blurted out the first thought that came into my head.
"I'm a huge fan," I told him. "My wife and I listened to Love Letter at least a dozen times on our honeymoon."
I immediately realized that came out wrong. Techincally, it was true, since we did play the album in our room while getting ready to go out or just relaxing, but I didn't mean it like that. Alas, I was talking to R. Kelly, so there was absolutely no other way he'd interpret those words.
"Oh," he replied, pausing for a split second. "That's what's up."
Like I said, three hours (and $30) perfectly spent.
|Posted by doktakra on July 6, 2012 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
My appreciation for R. Kelly’s music is well-known among my friends and well-chronicled on this site. The fact is, while he’s an incredibly easy target for anyone to make fun of – “Define teenage” is one of the most hilarious answers ever given in an interview, and the Dave Chappelle skit will never stop being funny – he remains one of the best singer-songwriters in the industry.
What separates Kellz from his peers is his uncanny ability to write inspirational anthems, most notably, “I Believe I Can Fly,” and turn around and discuss his freaky escapades in vivid detail and with unabashedly raunchy metaphors. On 2007’s Double Up for instance, Kellz gave us the previously-reviewed classics “Real Talk” and “Sex Planet,” before capping the album off with a heartfelt tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre on “Rise Up.”
But on his last two albums, Kellz decided to go back in time and pay tribute to some of his musical idols – Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, and the like – with throwback love songs, replacing his trademark crudeness with heartfelt melodies, including the beautiful “When a Woman Loves.” Even my wife, by no means an R. Kelly fan, gladly listened to Love Letter several times while I played it from start to finish, and complimented his writing and vocal range. One of the few parts that makes me laugh is the incredibly cheesy “Love Letter (Christmas Remix),” which includes lyrics such as, “I'm just a snowman and I'm looking for a snowgirl.”
His latest album, the slightly less charming Write Me Back, does touch on somewhat more familiar R. Kelly territory with “Beautiful in This Mirror,” which is exactly what you’d think it’s about, and on “Believe That It’s So,” which turns into another stepping anthem, with Kelly proclaiming that he’s had “a little too much to drink." Still, it’s an excellent, mostly PG-rated, ‘70s inspired, disco, funk and soul album.
As an avid R&B listener, there’s nothing wrong with any of this, but as an avid R. Kelly fan, I can’t help but miss hearing him brag more about how great he is at doing really weird things I sometimes don’t even fully understand. Luckily, it appears the 45-year-old will release Black Panties later this year, which based on the title alone, should be epic.
Until then, I’ve been listening to just about every appearance Kellz has made in recent years to bring the third installment of his most ridiculous, fascinating and awesome lyrics (note: it’s usually a safe assumption that all tracks below are very NSFW).
“Shut Up,” Black Panties (?):
”Now, no offense to the other artists, but, come on, darling, let's be honest, how many babies been made off me? / O-M-G
Seriously, you’re gonna act like that, sit there like it ain’t no truth to that, looking at me like I ain’t talkin’ stats. / O-M-G
Every boy, every girl, every child around the world from the ‘90s until today, was made off me.”
This is terrific in so many ways. After undergoing minor tonsil surgery, which I didn’t even remember hearing about, Kellz Tweeted a link to this song as a response to the haters. Apparently, there was “a tsunami of rumors” that “wiped his career away." Whatever motivation he needs to write this stuff is cool with me. Much more importantly, Kelly gives us what he believes to be an indisputable statistic about our population – every single birth over the last 22 years happened because of him. O.M.G. indeed.
“Make It Rain (Remix)” (from Fat Joe’s The Crack Era):
“I be drillin' these chicks like ‘Major Payne’ / When I make it rain, they be like, ‘Kellz, do it again’."
This song came out in 2007. Major Payne, a critically-panned movie starring Damon Wayans as a drill instructor at a prep school, was released in 1995. I’m guessing maybe a quarter of the people listening understood the reference (at most). Was Kellz flipping channels one night and just happened to catch it airing on TNT? Has he been sitting on this clever simile for a good decade, waiting for the perfect time to finally bust it out? Hopefully he addresses these important questions in his memoir, "Soulacoaster." Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but I don’t even think the line makes any sense.
"Every Girl,” The "Demo" Tape:
“I like her, I like her, I like her / Wait, I like her too, I like her too / And her friend too, and her cousin too.
And her sister, and her mother / And her, her, her, her, her big grandma.”
“From the hood to the f******' industry / Even the Statue of Liberty.”
It turns out that the haters had Kellz pegged all wrong yet again. He is, in fact, not only into bagging overweight grandmothers, but is attracted to a 126-year-old monument of a woman. In fairness, she’s wearing an elegant robe, with who knows what else underneath.
“Kiss Your Candy" (Unreleased):
“Girl you taste like nut chews / You’re just like a box of cherries and girl, I want to eat you”
At least, I think he's saying "nut chews" after listening to this absurd song at least a dozen times. Also, I’m not exactly sure when the track was originally written, but hearing him sing about being “like a kid in a candy store” just feels wrong regardless, considering his, um, history. Even worse, the female artist on the chorus sounds like she’s 12. Let’s move on.
"Lay It Down (Remix)” (from Lloyd’s Lay It Down: The Remixes):
“When you lay your hand on my pillow / I know, girl, this is gonna get scary like “Thriller / You gonna feel that monster get bigger.”
Here we get The Pied Piper at his best, providing a pretty terrifying and graphic metaphor, which if I understand correctly, implies that his sexual escapades may come with the threat of creepy, dancing zombies and werewolves. Yikes.
“And I ain't got no rhyme for the next part / I ain't got no rhyme for the next part / But that's okay because this is the remix."
This is hardly the first time that Kelly decides he doesn’t even care about finishing his verse -- the fantastic "Same Girl (Remix)," which also includes Kellz doing a random Michael Jackson impersonation, comes to mind -- since it’s apparently totally acceptable to put in a half-assed effort if it’s on a remix.
And on that note, it's time to end this entry, since I ain't got no time to transcribe any more R. Kelly lyrics. But that's okay, because this is my website.
|Posted by doktakra on May 29, 2012 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
When two die-hard sports fans get married, you can bet their wedding ends up being anything but typical. From the Sacramento Kings and Miami Dolphins-themed groom's cake to my purple-and-black yarmulke and Michelle's aqua-and-orange garter to our tables being named after mascots, we had plenty of unique and (somewhat) subtle nods to our favorite teams.
Perhaps no part of the wedding encapsulated our love of sports more than our surprise-filled rehearsal dinner video, which our guests still ask us about a year later.
It took a lot of work and required calling in plenty of favors, but the end result was all worth it. In addition to being hosted by one of the TV's most recognizable sportscasters, the nearly-17-minute clip featured special appearances from several past and present NBA and NFL stars, interspersed with photos of our families and friends. Making it even more fun, all of the cameos were unscripted, which led to some fantastic improvising that caught everyone – ourselves included – by surprise.
Before I give away too much, check out the shortened version below, sans the embarrassing baby pictures and shots of relatives you'll probably never meet. If you're so inclined, feel free to watch the extended original HD video – looking back, the nerdy glasses I wore in middle school would probably be considered stylish by today's professional athletes.
|Posted by doktakra on April 10, 2012 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
Yep, that’s my 10-pound Cairn Terrier-Chihuahua puppy, one eye half-open, snoring louder than any human I’ve ever known. The video (along with this one) was shot with my phone and not altered in any way. Seriously.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve had my dog, Roxy, for almost a year now, and it’s even harder to believe that I’ve never written a post about her (though in fairness, I’ve posted dozens of photos on my Twitter and Instagram accounts). And yes, she’s my dog, as my wife, Michelle, frequently reminds me whenever Roxy wakes up at 7 a.m. to go outside, or if it’s 11 p.m. and someone needs to run to the grocery store to get more dog food.
In case you're wondering, her first name is a nod to Sly Stallone ("Rocky") and her middle name is ARCO, in reference to the Sacramento Kings' previous arena name. Somehow, I couldn't find a way to incorporate R. Kelly (yet?).
I never had a dog growing up, mostly because my dad wouldn’t allow it, fearing (probably rigthfully so), that he would end up doing all of the work. When I moved out and lived on my own, I was nervous about getting one because I didn’t know the first thing about taking care of anything other than maybe a hamster. Michelle, on the other hand, had been around dogs all her life, and had recently rescued and owned a rowdy terrier, until that dog, Lucy, grew way too big for her apartment and had to go live in her parents’ house in Miami. Since I moved into that very same New York apartment, fitting a dog into the even tighter space didn’t seem like the best idea. Still, I constantly talked about wanting one, and would once in a while catch Michelle looking at the available dogs in nearby shelters.
Then, about a year ago, Michelle and my mom half-jokingly told me that I could finally get a dog – my parents would watch it whenever we were out of town – if I started eating chicken. Now, I won’t say that it was as easy as that, and there were plenty of other factors involved, but suffice it to say, I have a dog and I do now eat chicken.
We found Roxy through PetFinder, and fell in love with the tiny but extremely loud puppy immediately. This may be shocking, but she doesn’t do much other than eat and sleep … and of course, wake up in the middle of the night and start jumping on my side of the bed. Naturally, she’s a Sacramento Kings fan, who "watches" every game with me – she’s even been on the Kings.com homepage twice now, including her very own #KingsAllDay Instagram inclusion – and also has a Dolphins shirt, which she despises wearing.
Roxy hasn't learned a lot of commands, but thanks to my parents, who might love her more than they love me or Michelle at this point, she goes to sleep when she's told to do so in Russian. And since the Russian word for walk sounds almost exactly like "Goulet" – a running joke with one of my best friends based on Will Ferrell's classic "Saturday Night Live" sketch – it cracks me up every time she goes crazy if I say it. That'll probably be the next video I upload.
Having a dog has definitely changed a lot and brought on a whole new set of worries and responsibilities for us – and Roxy can certainly be a pain when she refuses to walk outside or marks her territory when we bring her to someone's place – but nothing beats coming home and having her jump up and down and wag her tail in a frenzy. Goulet!
|Posted by doktakra on January 11, 2012 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
I briefly wrote about the time I ran the 2006 New York City Marathon back at the time, but whether it was due to fatigue or just pure laziness (probably more of the latter), I never went into much detail about what I went through before, during and after the race.
Last week, I finally wrote about the entire experience – from my early days of running cross county in high school, to over-training for the Marathon, to (spoiler alert!) finishing the race in my Mitch Richmond Kings jersey – on Stride Nation, a new blog started by SBNation.com's Tom Ziller.
Here's a short excerpt from the post, which sets the stage for the somewhat dramatic conclusion:
As I crossed the 20-mile marker, I started to doubt whether I could finish the 2006 New York City Marathon. My quads were on fire, and my shins were excruciatingly stiff and sore. I slowed down and gingerly walked to the side, wincing in pain and groaning in disgust, as runner after runner zoomed by me.
A few weeks prior, I was walking around on crutches on the advice of my doctor, who discovered multiple stress fractures in both of my tibias. Despite being advised to rest for at least a month until my injuries healed, I couldn’t convince myself to sit out the race after vigorously training for over a half a year. But now, 20 miles in, I thought about how no one would blame me if I decided to stop.
I'd advise you to read the whole story, but, well, I'm probably a little biased. At the very least, make sure to check out StrideNation.com, which has an amazing community of knowledgeable writers and readers discussing running tips and race preparation.
|Posted by doktakra on December 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
A year-and-a-half ago, after the disaster that was Universal Mind Control and Common's starring role in the perhaps equally awful Just Wright, I criticized Common, my favorite musician growing up, for trying to "become an aspiring Hollywood actor who's now irrelevant in hip-hop and no longer cares about putting out quality music."
Despite the fact that Common was reuniting with producer No I.D. for the first time since 1997's One Day It'll All Make Sense (which was my high school year book quote, by the way), I was still skeptical about buying his ninth album, The Dreamer/The Believer. U.M.C. was just that bad, a cacophonous mess so poorly considered and executed, which so desperately tried to appeal to the pop charts and accompanying video crossover circuit, that it made me reevaluate Common's place in hip-hop history as one of the most introspective and thought-provoking "conscious" rappers ever.
Still, I couldn't deny the fact the first two singles off Dreamer/Believer, "Ghetto Dreams" and "Sweet" sounded infinitely closer to the Common I used to know. After a week-and-a-half of debating whether it was worth my $12, I decided to give him another chance.
As the album title would suggest, Common mainly sticks to preaching about (spoiler alert) dreaming and believing, whether it's about the type of woman he wants or about his aspirations to make the world around him a better place. No I.D.'s production, full of soulful vocal samples and grooves, perfectly accompanies Common's uplifting vibe. The beats do get a little repetitive, and the choruses rarely stand out, but the nostalgic sound is unquestionably a step in the right direction.
On the intro track, “The Dreamer,” Common sets the tone with inspirational and uplifting rhymes over beautiful bass and drum kicks, before a spoken word piece by Dr. Maya Angelou. Common manages to use his own mainstream success as an example of striving to achieve goals in a way that surprisingly comes off as endearing and genuine.
“Kinda took me back to when I first had a dream / To be like the king that sang "Billie Jean" / Now it's gold records, and I'm on silver screens / At the mountaintop, you still gotta dream."
It's not exactly new and unchartered territory for him, but when Common is back to waxing poetic on tracks about love and relationships, such as "Cloth," a touching ode to women, and "Windows," a heartfelt song dedicated to his daughter, few can do it better. “Lovin’ I Lost,” on which he reminisces about a break-up over a melancholy Curtis Mayfield sample, and "The Believer," which features John Legend, are his two best songs I've heard since Be.
At the same time, it's still hard to take Common all that seriously now when he fires shots at "sing-song" rappers (hi, Drake) on "Sweet," and plays up his street cred by boasting “’You Hollywood’/ Nah, n****, I’m Chicago / So I cracked his head with a motherf***ing bottle" on "Raw." At times, it seems like he's trying too hard to convince the listener to believe, fittingly enough, that he's still an underground legend rather than a commercial star. The later track also includes two unforgivably bad puns -- “aware of her chest because I stay abreast” and “what’s in front of me is this great behind." Ugh.
Billed as Common’s return to making socially conscious hip-hop, the album as a whole has a familiar '90's style and recognizable flow. It's not the second coming of Resurrection by any means, but it has enough going for it to at least not make me wish that the gifted MC would become a full-time actor (plus, there's no way I'm watching Just Wright II or even Hell on Wheels).
|Posted by doktakra on November 28, 2011 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
Barely 72 hours later, it still feels surreal.
Michelle and I, along with a couple of our friends, had the opportunity to go to a Tracy Morgan charity comedy show in Miami, which was presented by Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano to benefit Veteran’s Housing. Thanks to the event organizers, Lunar Sports Group, we had invites to the pre-show VIP party, backstage passes and tickets to the after-party at the Shore Club.
We were informed beforehand that several of Fasano’s teammates could come out for the show, and sure enough, Reggie Bush, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Jared Odrick, Clyde Gates, Steve Slaton, and ex-Dolphin Lousaka Polite were among a dozen or so players in attendance. Michelle and I volunteered to check-in the VIP guests, meaning we had to put tiny orange bands around the massive wrists of professional football stars and the tiny wrists of their supermodel girlfriends. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
Once the pre-show party concluded, the players and VIP guests were ushered down the hall, where Morgan came out to welcome everyone to the show. Well, he didn’t so much welcome them, as much as launch into an impromptu stand-up act, explaining that he’s the sole reason why both the NFL and NBA lockouts had ended. That’s probably the one part that I can repeat with a straight face, much less reprint here. Let’s just say the majority of his topics had a lot to do with bodily functions and bedroom acts most people would probably never want to try. Morgan walked up and down the hall, cracking everyone up with his unique sense of humor, driving home the point that absolutely nothing and no one was off limits (more on that shortly).
Before he went back to his dressing room, I made sure to shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoy his work, figuring it would be my one chance to speak to him.
The Dolphins walked to another section of the theater to pick up food and beverages before the main act, where MiamiDolphins.com beat writer Andy Kent introduced us to Bess, Michelle’s favorite player. Bess was extremely nice and personable, openly talking about Miami’s heartbreaking last-second loss on Thanksgiving, and taking the time out to pose for pictures. Michelle was star-struck and giggling in delight after Bess walked away – pretty much exactly how I’d react if I ever talked to Candace Parker.
As for Morgan’s actual stand-up, he began the routine by pulling no punches about Bush’s relationship with Kim Kardashian and her E! reality show, and continued to spew (heh) unfiltered raunchiness and crudeness for the next hour-and-a-half. I don’t think there’s a person on earth who can get away with anything he said or make such absurd topics so hilarious. My face actually hurt from laughing so much.
Soon afterwards, we walked several blocks to the Shore Club, where none other than Tracy Morgan and a few of his friends sat on a bench outside, with no bodyguards or bouncers in sight. When he saw us, he dove right back into his comedy act, telling us a few jokes he forgot to say during the show.
At one point, he said (I’m paraphrasing for language, clearly) that men can't live with or without women. Michelle laughed and told him I was learning all about that.
“Nah, he’s a good boy,” said Morgan. “He’s domestically trained, like me. He knows not to pee inside the house.” I can’t argue with this.
He then asked us if we were coming inside (as if we’d miss it for anything), at which point one of his friends told Morgan that I look like Jesus.
“He’s got the long hair, the beard – all he’s missing is the sandals,” he said.
Morgan took it a step further, declaring that I actually look like Moses’ mother. I still have no idea what to make of that, but it was fantastic. He then asked me if I’d seen the original Planet of the Apes, and for whatever reason, I told him I hadn’t. It didn’t matter – he went right into a Charlton Heston impression from some movie none of us knew; regardless, we laughed hysterically.
Inside the club, I spotted one of the comedians who opened for Morgan and had to get a picture with him, obviously because of that amazing mustache. Somewhat disappointingly, his act barely mentions the sweet ‘stache, with just one quick line about Super Mario being on stage.
We hung around in the back for a while, where some of the guests played pool and hit on scantily-clad women, and went home around one thirty in the morning. After spending some time with him, I can safely say that Morgan basically plays himself in 30 Rock (within the confines of network television, of course) – an outrageous and unpredictable character who’s always on and lives for making others around him laugh.
Needless to say, it was an unforgettable experience with the hands-down funniest person I’d ever met.
|Posted by doktakra on October 18, 2011 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
With no NBA Summer League or preseason games on tap, I’ve resorted to honoring players’ birthdays on Twitter with some of their best (or worst) highlights or cheesy commercials. Since New Jersey native and NBA journeyman Anthony Avent was born on October 18, I’ve decided to commemorate him with the story of how I met him 16 years ago.
As a kid, there was nothing I loved more about summer than going to my camp in Union, NJ. I didn’t care about arts-and-crafts projects, swimming classes or field trips to the mall – all I ever wanted to do was sneak out to play basketball with anyone who’d happen to be on the courts.
On occasion, random NBA role players who lived in the area, including former New Jersey Nets Tate George and Chris Gatling, dropped by the facility to practice during the offseason. Most of the time, they’d quietly work out with a trainer on a side basket and bolt before any eager campers would catch wind of the fact that NBA players were in the building.
One day, when my friends and I were about to play a quick pick-up game, we noticed a freakishly tall, muscular player stretching on the sidelines. Since the Shaquille O’Neal and “Penny” Hardaway-led Orlando Magic were one of the league’s most popular and televised teams, I quickly recognized that it was backup forward Anthony Avent.
We watched as he picked up a ball and began shooting from just outside the three-point line on the right baseline. Swish. Swish. Swish. We stood in awe as Avent made all but one out of a dozen long-range bombs and moved on to shoot from the top of the key with the same results. It would’ve been incredible had we been watching a shooting clinic put on by Steve Kerr or Reggie Miller, but Anthony Avent? I would’ve never expected him to have been so accurate at the time, and looking at his statistics now, Avent’s NBA career field goal percentage (40.3%) is actually the eighth-worst for a big man in the last 50 years (minimum 300 games played). Yet, there he was, drilling hundreds of uncontested 25-foot jumpers as if they were lay-ups.
I considered myself to be a good basketball player at time, and despite being a five-foot tall Jewish kid with glasses so think they would’ve made Steve Urkel blush, I dreamed of making it to the NBA. But seeing a fringe player like Avent effortlessly knock down shots made me realize just how extremely talented even the so-called worst professionals truly are.
When Avent finished practicing after making what seemed like a thousand baskets, I gathered the nerve to approach him to challenge him to a shooting contest.
“Mr. Avent, um, can I play with you?”
He turned to me, chuckled, and shook his head. “Nah, I don’t get down like that.”
My friends broke out in laughter before I even realized that Avent made an immature, and in hindsight, very inappropriate joke at my expense. I felt like I’d just been humiliatingly turned down by the girl I liked at a middle school dance (which also happened that year, by the way).
His questionable sense of humor aside, Avent turned out to be very pleasant, signing my Kings hat that’s still sitting somewhere in my parents’ attic (funny enough, he’d briefly play for Sacramento a few years later). I don’t remember if I ever did get my chance to exact revenge by beating him in a game of HORSE or if that was just a daydream. I just know that from that day forward, I vowed to become a better shooter than Avent and work even harder on making it to the NBA (still working on that one) and make sure to use better wording when challenging someone to a basketball game.
Happy 42nd birthday, Anthony.
|Posted by doktakra on September 16, 2011 at 12:00 AM||comments (0)|
On May 29, Michelle and I were married. As special and amazing as the day was, I won't bore you with too many of the wedding details. My beatiful bride looked amazing, of course, and I also received quite a few compliments on my R. Kelly-inspired white jacket.
But without question, the most unforgettable and incredible highlight came during Michelle's speech. All I'll say is, I had absolutely no idea this was coming, and Michelle rocked it, as only she can. Enjoy my new favorite video of all-time.