An 'alternative' cosmetic line that was started in 1995 by Dinah Mohajer. It originated as a line of nail polishes when the former bio-chem major couldn't find a desired shade of pale blue polish so she decided to make her own. Each Hard Candy nail polish came with a matching plastic ring in colors with names such as "Trailer Trash," and quickly spawned myriads of lower priced imitators.

The line has expanded to include high quality lip, eye, and face products in fashionably non-traditional colors. My personal favorite is a shade of light pink/lavender called "Jailbait." (that was two years ago, apparently now it's sold under a more politically correct name, "Byte.") ;)

For more information please point your browser to: www.hardcandy.com

So, it's been three years since the last Counting Crows release, 1999's This Desert Life. A long wait, when they're your favourite band. Finally, the day comes, and I have their new album in my hands. Pop it into the cd player, and start to listen. And as the songs roll on, a strange sensation comes over me. And I start to wonder - is this really Counting Crows?!

Well, first impressions can be deceiving, and I've started to realise that the band I know and love are there, strong and clear in Hard Candy. It's just that for the first time, I've had to really listen, and give this album time, to hear them shining through. For the first time, a Counting Crows release has needed a few listens before I can really begin to appreciate how good it is. You know these albums - first listen through, you wonder whether you'll ever bother with the second run through. You give it that chance though, and it begins to grow on you. Eventually, it's the cd that never quite manages to make it out of the car cd player - except for when you have a sudden urge to listen to it at home, and have to run outside to grab it.

Now this may be leaving you feeling that in the past, different Counting Crows albums have all sounded the same. That's not it though, each release has been fresh, and shown a different facet to this band. It just seems that this time around, there's a whole new cut to this gem. The core's still there, the light still shines from the same old place. But the patterns shining on the wall, they're something I've never seen before.

Reading the liner notes though, I'm glad to see one thing hasn't changed, and I seriously doubt ever will. Hard Candy was recorded in 'yet another house on yet another hill in Hollywood, CA.'

Hard Candy's album art, is of the top of an old fashioned candy tin, complete with the promise of '13 Fresh New Flavours'. Well, that's certainly true on this occasion. This album does sound fresh, and new. The one thing that hasn't changed though, is the quality of Adam Duritz's song writing. I guess that's the one constant when comparing Hard Candy to previous Counting Crows albums - his signature is there, obvious when you sit, and listen to these new lyrics. Themes of love and loss, loneliness, insomnia, words that reach into you and touch such familiar places. Words that one minute leave you with your eyes closed, wondering how a stranger has managed to say everything that's been swirling in your mind, lacking any description - then in the next, sending shivers right through you. Adam Duritz has said in the past that he's uncomfortable being described as a poet - that what he's doing is writing songs, far different to what the poet creates. Maybe there needs to be a new category, because at times, his words transcend simple song writing.

One of the things that has struck me about this album most, is the total feeling of life it seems to be able to generate. Counting Crows have a reputation for producing somewhat depressing albums, although that's a view I've never been able to agree with. No, it's not likely you'll pop in a Counting Crows cd to really get the party going. It's never been background music. This time around though, there are songs that just seem exultant. Songs you could imagine blasting over a crowd of people, without depressing everyone in the room. That's not to say that their music has become any less meaningful - it's still that. But hey, who ever said a song couldn't make you think if it sounds happy?

And it seems that people have sat up and taken notice of the change that's come over Counting Crows. I've never seen as much hype over a recent Counting Crows album, as I have this time around. For once, it's more than the existing fans who have been anticipating this album. From ads for Diet Coke, to magazine spreads with Adam Duritz, the band's presence seems to have grown. Tickets for a recent Counting Crows show in New York were going for up to $500 on eBay. And shows are selling out in a matter of minutes.

For years, fans have wondered whether Counting Crows would ever return to the status they did after the release of August and Everything After, with its huge singles such as Round Here and Mr. Jones. I doubt they'll ever rise that high again - it was a phenomenal climb to fame. Things are turning around though. Counting Crows might just have something big on their hands.

Counting Crows - Hard Candy   Released 9th July 2002

1 - Hard Candy
2 - American Girls
3 - Good Time
4 - If I Could Give All My Love To You -or- Richard Manuel Is Dead
5 - Goodnight L.A.
6 - Butterfly In Reverse
7 - Miami
8 - New Frontier
9 - Carriage
10 - Black and Blue
11 - Why Should You Come When I Call?
12 - Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes To Hollywood)
13 - Holiday In Spain

Depending on the area the album is released, there are also bonus tracks on the album. The USA misses out on extra songs - apart from the hidden track. They do however get an enhanced version, with the ability to access a hidden web site, and read Adam Duritz's thoughts on the new songs, and the meanings behind them. The bonus tracks in the other areas are:

International Version

14 - 4 White Stallions

UK Version
14 - 4 White Stallions
15 - You Ain't Going Nowhere

Japanese Version

14 - 4 White Stallions
15 - You Ain't Going Nowhere
16 - Start Again


All versions have a hidden track, a cover of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi.

"This will make your nipples explode with delight!"

some guy in this movie

No, unfortunately, it will not.

The Lollipop Girls in Hard Candy is many things:

What it is not is nipple-explody. ...Hard Candy is what happens when you want to make a feature-length porno but only film fifteen minutes of sex. The gimmick, of course, is that this movie is in 3-D. "Body parts appear to be jiggling, bouncing, dangling and squirting right off the screen" or so claims the ad copy. You're given those wonky little red and blue glasses with your ticket, which goes a long way toward making you feel like a kid from the fifties but fails to enhance the porno-watching experience as much as you might like.

The picture starts out promisingly enough, with a soldier who's guarding the Fellatio Mines (which, sadly, we never get to see) encountering a newly crowned beauty queen wandering through his territory. She has won the Miss Stake contest, and is on her way to compete in the Miss Construe pageant. Yes, wit in the writing. They retire to a handy field for sex (of which we see about one minute), causing the soldier to miss the invasion of his beach by... three guys dressed like Roman soldiers.

They are searching for Troy. Yes, Troy. Look not to porn for historical accuracy. Unfortunately, these "characters" will make it difficult to look to porn for porn for the rest of the movie. One of them dons a bunny suit as a disguise and trampolines over the wall. The bikini-clad woman who had been using the trampoline is entirely ignored other than for slow-motion shots of her non-bare breasts bouncing.

Meanwhile, in a different movie, a candy company is in trouble. We're introduced to the CEO as he receives an under-table blowjob from a Ms. Breastworthy, but he is rudely interrupted (after about two minutes of pleasure) by his board of directors. "Oh good!", you think. "Orgy scene!" No. Instead, we get a very lengthy discourse on the trouble the company's in, and an ultimatum regarding profits. Yes; all very exciting.

Out in the lab (clearly labelled "Lab" by a paper sign on the door)...oh, fuck it.

Look... the point is that there are some lollipops which get contaminated by the bunny-suited Roman/Greek warrior's Cream of Yak soup which are discovered to have tremendously aphrodesiac qualities and stand to save the company. A man in a gorilla suit uses a giant slingshot to launch these lollipops all over the country, and they rain down on unsuspecting folks who then proceed to have wild sex... most of which we don't see. Why?

Because, instead, we're forced to watch the other two Roman/Greek soldiers (who are now dressed like a chicken and a sea monster, respectively) have an excruciatingly long Abbot and Costello-like repartee with a motel manager, get sucked into a video game and have an epic-length pie fight.

Oh yeah; John Holmes is in this movie for about two minutes. Just long enough for you to say "My goodness, that's an enormous cock!" and move on to further comedy jokes.

The 3-D effect is mostly atrocious. It works well to separate foreground and background objects, occasionally, and there are a few impressive "things sticking out at you" moments but it's generally a good way to cause a migraine. We're treated to one comeshot directed at the lens, which resulted in the audience producing a collective "eww!".

Most damning is that ...Hard Candy fails entirely as pornography. By the time it actually gets to a sex scene the audience is so fed up with the ridiculous, excruciating crap that came before as to completely destroy any potential eroticism. Of course, the scenes themselves go a long way toward doing that. They are more sex montages than scenes, with blowjob being intercut with fucking being intercut with cunnilingus willy nilly. The music is not at all the thumping bass bow-chicka so desperately required. Instead, it's what sounds like little girls going "la la la la" backed by elevator music.

I can only imagine the hundreds of sweaty raincoated individuals demanding their money back when and if this film ever played in an actual porno theater.

Your nine dollars will purchase you a keen pair of 3-D glasses, a place to sit for ninety minutes and diminishing returns on laughter, but there ain't no way it's gonna buy you a good time.


This movie from 2005 had me actually shivering during the entire screening. I could say it was because it just turned cold here this week. It is a spectacular autumn in Arkansas this year. I can't remember the trees ever being more vivid just before they lose their leaves in a storm that is surely on its way from the northeast, as it usually is this time of year. I could say the shivering was due to the weather. I could say I finally broke down and turned on the heat in the house today because of the damp chill in the air. But that would all be a lie. I was shivering because this movie is so damn uncomforting that there is not one minute in it where I was not literally short of breath.

The whole concept of pedophilia is one that most men really just don't want to discuss. And there's a very good reason for that. I guess you've read Nabokov's masterpiece, Lolita. When most men read Lolita, what do you think their opinion of old Humbert is? Do you think that most men find him a repulsive degenerate, or do you think that most men find a bit of themselves lodged in the edges of those pages and actually place some of the blame on the girl for what occurs in that book?

I'm no psychologist, but I have lived a long life and I've seen a well-turned ankle on a young girl who knows how to get what she wants by lowering her gaze to the ground just so and then looking up under innocent eyelids at just the right moment. I heard a great writer and a man whom I admire for his lack of mental mufflers when he thinks out loud say this the other day: Any woman is past her prime when she hits twenty. That's a very unpopular statement because there is power in numbers and there are a hell of a lot more women over twenty than under. But when it comes to the come-hither aspect of love/lust based on pure sexual attraction and pheromones, I think most men would shake their heads "yes" even if they'd never admit it to anyone. After all, the sexiest thing in the world is naughty curiosity. Tell me I'm wrong about that. That's probably why they grow healthy crops of underage Catholic boys out there on that ranch where the priests spend their sabbaticals. That's probably why "teen" is the most often searched for word in the world of online porn. (I didn't research that "fact" but I'd be surprised if it's not true.)

However, all this talk may be misleading you about this film. Sure, the premise of this film rests on pedophilia, but it gets much, much deeper than that. The folks who made the movie say that folks have tended to either love this movie or hate it with a passion. I can see why.

l happened to fall into the "love it" category. I love any film that draws me in and makes me watch every frame, no matter how badly I want to turn away. And, if you're a man with a pair, there are points in this film where you will definitely want to turn away. This stickiness of a film is usually based on the characters and how the actors do their jobs. There are only two actors in this piece, and I can't imagine any other two virtual unknowns doing a better job. The story is very good, as is has to be in a great film, but it could have become just a gimmick in the hands of lesser actors.

Ellen Page, with her freckles and her bangs, does such a job with the character Hayley that it is hard to imagine it done better. By anyone. Think of all the Jodie Fosters and Drew Barrymores who would have never in a million years of practice been able to pull off a performance like this at age 18. (She's playing a 14 year old, and she looks a whole lot more like 14 than 18.) Think of what a mess could have been made of this role. In case you think you've seen Ellen Page somewhere before, you might have caught some of the Trailer Park Boys episodes where she played Jim's daughter, Treena Lahey.

Jeff, the 32 year old "photographer," is played by Patrick Wilson, who will probably see his ticket punched more often after this performance. Jo Willems is the cinematographer. It is directed by David Slade who did mostly music videos prior to this. And the screenplay is by Brian Nelson, a fellow who seems to know just a little too much about teenage girls and their online quirks.

I can't recommend this film highly enough. I haven't seen anything that stuck with me for this long since I saw Intacto several years ago. And I'm still thinking about that one.

I keep hearing that Jerry Garcia cover version of Smokey Robinson's song running through my head:


"When the hunter gets captured by the game . . ."

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